To Grow, You've Got to Let Go

Okay, all you control freaks out there, it’s time to have a heart to heart. Even if you don’t consider yourself a part of this category, here are a few questions to ask yourself. Are your to do lists piling up to the ceiling? Do you believe “If you want it done right, do it yourself?” Do you cringe at the amount of training time “wasted” trying to teach someone to do something you could accomplish in a few minutes on your own? Yes? Call it what you like, but the do-it-yourself approach is dangerous to a growing business.

Take it from a recovering controller; there will come a point when you simply can’t exist at such a pace. Your business will start to suffer from lost opportunity, not to mention your family and personal life. There is only so much one person can accomplish—no matter how dedicated and driven that person might be. A team can accomplish much more than one person could ever achieve. That’s the beauty of delegation and the reason that almost every successful company does just that.

Think about the companies you admire. There’s a flow to their business that keeps them successful. They know what to do, when to do it and, most importantly, who should get it done.

What’s the secret? These companies have figured out how to use their assets and people in a way that keeps the operation growing. A company that dedicates time and resources to explore additional opportunities is a company that will continue to grow.

So let’s take a look at the resources you have around you right now. What could you be using better or more efficiently? What’s available to you right now that you aren’t taking advantage of? If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably realize you have a lot more to work with than you thought. Just like all those applications on your cell phone or your computer that you rarely use, a lot of your business tools are likely underutilized.

The Online Side
We could focus on delegating just about any aspect of your business. But since my specialty is websites and marketing, let’s focus on that.

Do your current website and marketing materials represent your business as you would like to see it? Do they help you stand out from your competitors? If your answer is “They are good enough,” that shouldn’t be the case.

Many website solutions offer webinars or one-on-one training to help you gain an understanding of what you have. Are you using everything that is available to you? Would your customers have a better experience with your business if you did? When was the last time you reviewed your marketing? Is it getting the results you want?

You can make a difference immediately by using the resources that surround you—your staff. Delegate. Start by putting job titles aside. Maybe you have a graphic designer who is also a great writer—put him in charge of updating website content. If your CSR is on Facebook every time you pass her desk, crown her your “social monitor.” Giving employees tasks outside of their typical job duties will make them feel even more like key players, and your company will benefit.

The trick to delegating is to empower your employees to make decisions. You won’t save much time if your “content guy” asks for your approval every time he changes a paragraph.

Get Started
Here are my top 10 suggestions for roles that you can delegate to your staff. Keep in mind you don’t need 10 employees at the ready to make this happen. These roles shouldn’t take more than a few hours a week, so you can delegate more than one role/task to a single employee.

Picture Person: Responsible for ensuring the images on your website and marketing materials are up-to-date and changing often. Images draw visitors in and encourage them to engage more. Use real pictures of your shop and staff (include events such as your company picnic), convert your best projects into website images and showcase them throughout your site, not just on your products page.

Content Concocter: This is likely more than a one-person job. Updated, fresh content is key to your website and marketing materials’ survival, so keep a close eye on this and make it a top priority. You should never have outdated or incorrect content. And the more you refresh your website content, the more likely you are to end up on the first few pages of search engines such as Google.

Newsie: Perfect for that staff member who is always up to the minute on current events. They should post weekly articles to your website with news relevant to your audience.

Note, I said your audience, not your industry. A news feed gives an up-to-date feel to your website and helps climb those search engine ladders (the more often your site has new content, the higher it will climb in the search engine ranks).

Community Relations Coordinator: You care about your community; make sure your prospects know that. This person should ensure all of the organizations you are involved with are displayed on your website and mentioned in marketing materials. It could be logo recognition, links to the organizations’ websites, and/or stories about your involvement in newsletters or on your website. (Don’t forget pictures!)

Staff Sergeant: I’m willing to bet that your staff page is among your website’s most visited pages. People want to see and learn about who they’re doing business with. So make sure this is timely and complete with photos and bios. Same goes for anywhere you have staff information, such as your brochure or sales sheets.

Video Guru: Video creation and editing can take hours if you don’t have the know-how, but if you have a YouTube fanatic in your ranks, charge him or her with creating a video tour for your site. What better way to familiarize your customers with your company, especially if you don’t have walk-in traffic.

Analytics Analyst: Your website analytics should not be ignored or washed over briefly when you have a spare minute. Designate one of your numbers oriented employees to review this information each month, report back to you, and delegate any changes that need to be made because of it.

For example, do most people find your website by typing “California direct mail” into a search site? If so, make sure these words appear in your site’s content as well as your meta tags.

Overall Auditor: An essential role to ensure all the others are functioning properly. This person would be responsible for conducting a monthly scour of your website and marketing materials to ensure updates are relevant and happening. They may also look at things like design and image choice.

Does your website look, feel, and sound like the rest of your marketing endeavors? Is your overall image one you are proud of and that speaks to your brand?

Client Auditor: Designate an employee, student, or intern to make quarterly calls to your customer list to ensure you have the correct information. They could even ask for email addresses if you are considering trying your hand at email marketing. The key to any great marketing effort is good data, so make sure yours is updated as often as possible.

Social Monitor: Designate one of your Facebook junkies to keep an eye on the social media sphere—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.—and report to you on what’s being said about your company. They can respond from a company standpoint to this chatter as well as update any social media sites where your company has a presence.

That Should Do It
Imagine if even half of these roles were assigned in your company. What a well-oiled marketing machine you would have! How would that reflect on your business? And how much pride would your employees take in these special assignment roles?

Now think about this on a larger scale. How else can you stop the do-it-yourself debacle and diminish your do-it-later pile. Delegate, delegate, delegate, my friends. You will be amazed at all your company can accomplish once you let go—and how grateful both your business and friends and family will be.

Tawnya Starr is a former successful print shop owner who is now president of FireSpring’s PrinterPresence. She has dedicated her career to educating the printing industry on proven website and marketing strategies. In 2005, she received the Industry Award of Distinction from NAQP for her service as a consultant and educator to the industry. Contact her at Tawnya.Starr@Firespring.com. This article is available as a podcast at www.quickprinting.com/podcast and from iTunes.

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