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You need a plan

In business today people always talk about a plan.

“You’ve got to have a plan”

As a business owner myself, it made me think, “am I doing this right?” In fact, have I ever been doing it right?

I started CMe Media 3 years ago today with no plan of how I was going to make any money. I had no idea what was going to happen I just knew I wanted to do this. I was throwing myself into an unknown world, and I’ll be honest, I was pretty petrified.

I was a divorced, single mum, my own mother had just survived a breast cancer diagnosis and my father had been made redundant – you honestly couldn’t write this, my life put the writers at Eastenders to shame. None of these things were expected but they brought a focus to my life. I needed to be closer to my family so, I left my demanding job in radio sales and realigned my priorities.

I took stock of my skills and strengths and registered myself as self-employed, so unplanned was this move I had no answer when HMRC asked what my business would be called?

With no desire to spend another 40 minutes on the phone I acted on my feet. My name begins with ‘C’ and it’s just ‘me’ buying media, so; ”CMe Media” I blurted to the underwhelmed gentleman on the other end of the phone.

With a small amount of money, my beautiful Nan had left me, I was up and running. While the ‘up’ was reasonably straight forward I certainly hadn’t planned on how demanding the ‘running’ was going to be.

I didn’t sleep, my life was far from glamorous, I lived on coffee and biscuits, the kids entertained themselves and took my laptop with me everywhere, yes I mean everywhere. Eventually, my mum came on board to help with the accounts. It was only meant to be a “couple of hours a week” but before long, she was joining me at the kitchen table, often working alongside me into the early hours. She hadn’t planned on joining the business, but like all mums, she would do anything to see her child succeed

I didn’t take a wage for six months and constantly asked myself why I was doing it and, as I didn’t have a plan, I wondered whether I ever would earn a penny. Scared to make any commitment I drove a rental car, rented a small house and avoided any type of expense. I won’t lie, I was jealous and wanted a touch of glamour and indulgence in my life, this was a far cry from my radio sales 9 -6 with a good guaranteed income.

Seven months in and with Christmas just around the corner I was wondering how I was going to meet the obligations to pay my suppliers two months in advance. This was the lowest point…When I shut my laptop down and considered never turning it on again and just running away from it all…

But I did turn it back on, and I continued to work hard. It didn’t get any easier and people close to me made allowances for my distracted nature and my mobile phone constantly ringing.

Two years later and I am now proud to be the owner of the respected Advertising and Media Agency CMe Media. I have a strong and committed team around me now, who share my passion for hard-work. It’s their respect for our business that means I can now sleep at night.

I guess what I’m trying to say is maybe you do need a plan. Maybe my journey might have been less hazardous had I plotted my path with careful forethought. But you should never underestimate yourself. Believe in what you do. Know that if you are honest, genuine, hardworking and always treat people with respect, then you can achieve your dreams.

As I said, today CMe Media celebrates its 3rd birthday and as I raise a glass to toast this milestone, I’ll share a moment of satisfaction with myself as I reflect on how I got here.

And now one plan I will be making, is how we celebrate in style. I know for sure it won’t involve ready meals, coffee and biscuits. It will be replaced for an abundance of bubbles… Cheers to us!

Why marketing is just like getting on a bike…

So, in support of Bike Week 2017 (10th – 18th June), and because quite frankly I am a crazy bike lover, I thought I would put myself forward to write our next company blog!

You are probably wondering where the connection is between marketing and cycling? It is not a tenuous link, I promise…

In the words of Albert Einstein, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”. This means repetition and motion is key, whether you’re marketing your business or riding your bike, you must keep pedaling, otherwise, you will stop. Simple.

 

Planning

It starts with planning. When I am getting ready for my next bike ride I check a few things, for example, the weather forecast to ensure I have the right clothing, I check my tyres are inflated, that I have lights if it turns dark, fuel if it’s a long journey and my helmet for protection.

In marketing, planning comes first. You need to know who your audience is, the message you want to tell, the best marketing channels to reach them and how you will exploit these channels and measure your impact. It is a pre-planned journey. That’s not to say you won’t be hit by obstacles on the way, things like weather change, pot-holes and the annoying punctures that can stop you momentarily (oh and in my experience skip lorries – they can cause a detour to the hospital!). The key is momentarily, there are usually several routes that can lead you to your destination, just keep trying until your reach your goal.

 

Feel the wind in your hair

You’re prepared and know your journey ahead, it’s time to get those wheels into motion and get out there. Bikes are designed to be used, not stored away for months on end, and marketing is the same, you need to be active and keep that motion going. Even when you are pedaling into a strong wind and feel like you are going backwards, or up a hill where you can’t see the top, you need to keep going.

 

Remember to look back on your journey…

You’ve finally made your destination. Your journey may have changed from your initial plans, but you got there. The key now is to reflect on that journey. After a ride, I always analyse my stats to understand my performance, like speed, distance and altitude climbed. I track every ride, so I can analyse my overall performance for the year, and set new goals for the following. I also review my bike and kit, is everything still in good condition for the next ride? Did it make for a comfortable journey or could improvements be made? i.e. new tyres to reduce punctures, warmer clothing for colder months.

Marketing is exactly the same. Measurement and analysis is essential. Your message is now in the market, and so what? What is the outcome? You need to know the effectiveness of your marketing effort, to know if the journey is worth repeating or if it needs tweaks. It may be that you need new systems to help with the execution of your campaign, or a process to collect metrics for analysis, or review your audience and their needs.

Marketing, and learning to ride a bike are both experimental. You can only succeed by staying with it and remaining flexible to different routes and ways. Whether you want to become a strong cyclist, or a solid marketer, you will need dedication, passion and energy to keep those wheels rolling.

If you need help with any of the stages listed above, please contact us. We can help businesses get their marketing programs moving in the right direction.

Author;

Claire Wolstencroft,

Senior Account Manager at CMe Media