organization

The Most Useful Tool for Prioritizing Your Goals

Today’s inspiration comes from one of our newest interns here at Signify, Kirsten King. When she approached me about writing a blog post on this topic, I thought it was a terrific idea. I’m a big fan of not only setting goals, but regularly evaluating them.

And one of the biggest hurdles in goal-setting isn’t identifying them, but prioritizing them. After all, you only have so much time, energy, and resources at your disposal. So, you definitely want to ensure that your nonprofit or social enterprise is focused on the right targets.

The exercise Kirsten outlines below is an oldie, but a goodie. It’s also relatively simple. But the beauty is that it will give you a big picture look at your organization, and help you decide which direction to run in. Give it a try, and see your goals come to life.

The Most Useful Tool for Prioritizing Your Goals

Happy (belated) New Year!

So, you’ve established some business goals for this year, and you’re all set to tackle them. You will complete your 2019 To Do List, but it may seem a bit overwhelming right now. Often, you may be wondering where to start, how to prioritize, or where you fit in amongst your competitors and even your donors or customers. If this sounds familiar, then you may need to create or restructure your SWOT analysis.

Creating a current SWOT analysis can help pinpoint what your organization lacks, as well as what it offers. Without this assessment, you may quickly fall behind or feel left out. This could happen if you don’t know what trends are up-and-coming, what other organizations in your field are doing, the growth opportunities that are available, or you may be unable to predict what challenges are yet to come. However, knowing each of these items can give you a distinctive edge, and guide you toward both short- and long-term success.

SWOT Analysis… What’s that?

Now, if you’re wondering, “What’s a SWOT analysis?!”, don’t worry, we’ll jump right into that.  

First, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This is a genius marketing strategy—even if you’re new to marketing—because it identifies a nonprofit or social enterprises’s internal strengths and weaknesses, while also looking into the opportunities and threats that are occurring outside of the organization. (These factors you have no control over, but you may be able to use them to your advantage 😉. )

Why is a SWOT Analysis Important?

Performing a SWOT analysis can help you determine what new strategies should be implemented and what problems need to be resolved. You don’t want to waste time developing and planning a new strategy, if it doesn’t fit with the current or upcoming trends.

Having this information gives you a better understanding of what needs to be prioritized and where you stand when compared to others like you. Here’s a great video, using Starbucks as an example, if you would like to see a SWOT analysis in action.

Since business, trends, marketing, technology, and even the way you interact with your donors or customers are constantly changing, a SWOT analysis should be performed at least once or twice a year to ensure you are on the right track, or outline any changes that should be made. These can be performed solo, or with a team, board members, or key stakeholders.


Completing Your SWOT Analysis

Okay, let’s build your SWOT analysis! We’ve even created a free template to help you out.

One thing you’ll notice immediately is the simplicity of the layout. Once you dig into the items below, you may be tempted to include a lot of details and notes. But, at its heart, a SWOT analysis is just meant to give you a quick overview. Think of it as your organization at a glance, and use it to help guide you in the right direction.

Strengths are determined by the positive assets that your social impact organization owns. They may be tangible or intangible resources. Since you have control over these assets, strengths can help your organization stand out.

Strengths include:

  • Unique mission or model

  • Land

  • Location

  • Equipment

  • Copyrights/trademarks

  • Employees/volunteers

  • Funding

  • Marketing

  • Customer service

  • Relationships

Weaknesses can be defined as the characteristics of your organization that are unfavorable or may hurt you in some way. These downfalls could potentially hinder your success in both the short- and long-term. Weaknesses may be easily improved with a little more time, effort, and sometimes money.

Weaknesses include:

  • Outdated technology

  • Slow or poor communication (internal and/or external)

  • Poor signage

  • Little to no online presence

  • Unreliable cash flow

  • Lack of systems and processes

  • Cost

  • Low reputation

  • Small team with big workload

  • Low innovation

Opportunities are the external factors that can help your nonprofit or social enterprise thrive. Options here may be one-time or ongoing opportunities, so it’s especially important to note anything with fixed deadlines or limited availability that need to stay top of mind.

Opportunities include:

  • Partnerships and sponsorships

  • Participating in a current or upcoming trend (or event)

  • Government programs

  • Niche target market

  • Increased interest in your cause

  • New technologies

  • Growing population

  • Few competitors

  • New systems or processes

  • High demand

Threats are external factors that you cannot control. These negatives require quick thinking to develop new strategies.

Threats include:

  • Changes in government policies or funding

  • Uncertain economic factors

  • Aggressive competition

  • Unexpected weather

  • Rising costs

  • Increase in competition

  • Change in population

  • Negative media coverage

  • Loss of large donor, partner, or sponsor

  • Taxation

Time to Strategize!

You can start your SWOT analysis by focusing on internal strengths and weaknesses. This should be easier since you know the ins and outs of your organization.

Afterward, you can focus on external factors like your opportunities and threats. This may call for a bit of research and contemplation. But once your SWOT analysis is complete, you should have a better idea on what strategies to prioritize, implement, or refresh.

If done correctly, you’ll be able to use this analysis to create fresh, new ideas for your nonprofit or social enterprise. And remember, the assessment can always be adjusted to meet the current trends and challenges you may face.

Now, with all of this new information, how will you structure your business goals for the year ahead? Have you determined your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats yet? If not, it’s time to brainstorm new strategies that will help you develop or maintain that sustainable advantage!


Kirsten M King Marketing

Hi! I’m Kirsten M. King, and I absolutely love anything dealing with marketing, from advertising to data and everything in-between. I also love to learn and expand my knowledge on current trends and issues.

I’m currently a senior Marketing Major at Georgia State University. And I hope to take my skills and use them towards a career in project management.

Website

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Having this information gives you a better understanding of what needs to be prioritized and where you stand when compared to others like you.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.


How to Build a Team of Dedicated Volunteers

Volunteers are an essential part of any cause-focused organization. They’re often the extra hands and feet that nonprofits and social enterprises need to make their mission succeed, especially in the early stages.

But building a team of dedicated volunteers isn’t easy. It takes a lot of hard work and a steady flow of communication to ensure that you’re getting what you need, while giving what they need in return.

This week’s post comes to us from Faitth Brooks, who manages social media for one of my clients, Be the Bridge, as well as serves as the Director of Women’s Empowerment for Legacy Collective. Both organizations have not only relied on volunteers to make their work happen, but entrusted volunteers with being ambassadors for their brand with great success.

Faitth knows a lot about organizing, engaging, and empowering volunteers, and I hope her wisdom will help you build your team as well.

How to Build a Team of Dedicated Volunteers

In the nonprofit world there are numerous tasks that often cause employees to wear several “hats.” And if you’ve worked in the nonprofit sector, you know all about the hustle to save money and raise money in order to fulfill the mission and vision of your organization.

I've worked for nonprofits most of my career and I've learned that volunteers are invaluable to any organization. They give of their time and energy to work alongside staff members and help make everyone's job easier. It’s also common for nonprofits not to have the funds to hire a robust staff, especially small ones, so volunteers help fill in the gaps.

Many of you may be thinking, “Faitth, that’s nice, but how do I build a dedicated team of volunteers for my organization?” Well, I’m glad you asked because I’m going to tell you all about how I’ve done it over the years.

In order to maximize your time and energy, it’s essential that you build a committed team of volunteers. There are three important steps I’ve implemented in organizing volunteer teams, and I am going to share them with you today.

Step 1: Share The Vision

First, know the vision for your organization and articulate it to your volunteers. It’s important that the volunteers begin to embody the organizational culture and values in the same way the staff does. Your volunteers should be able to share the mission and vision of the organization to anyone who asks.

Hosting a training for the volunteers is essential, as well as developing a volunteer manual that states the mission and vision, expectations, and assigned tasks. The volunteer manual offers people a clear road map for how they will be utilized by your organization. When volunteers do not have direction, it’s easy to chart their own path away from the mission and vision of your organization.

Once training is complete, volunteers should shadow a staff member. It is important for the staff to model how to serve clients, respond to correspondence, and answer the phones. If your staff works remotely, the volunteer can be cc’d on correspondence, shadow you during video conference calls, and join collaborative projects to watch how the team operates together.

Step 2: Assign Specific Tasks

Second, assign your volunteers specific tasks. Have a list of the particular areas you need help with and instructions on how to accomplish those tasks. Volunteers need direction and they need to feel like they are making a valuable contribution to your organization. It's important to know what your volunteers have experience in so you can assign them to areas where they will thrive. You want your volunteers to feel empowered and excited to work with your organization!

Avoid making something up for them to do simply because you do not want to lose their help. If nothing is immediately available that is suited for them, honor their time and let them know that you will reach out again when you need help with another project.

Step 3: Communicate Regularly

Third, maintain open lines of communication and remain available to answer questions. Your availability as a leader will develop trust between you and the volunteer.

Also, establish regular meetings with your volunteers. They want to stay in the loop and feel included. Make sure you ask about their experience volunteering for your organization and what you could do better. Feedback from your volunteers is priceless because they have nothing to lose, and are more likely to tell you the truth about their experience working with your organization. This can go a long way in building and scaling your organization in the future.

Now, it's your turn to go and build a team of volunteers! Write your vision, create the manual, mobilize the people.


Faitth Brooks

Faitth Brooks is the Director of Women’s Empowerment for Legacy Collective. She engages in community organizing and activism. Her passion makes her a relentless spokesperson for racial reconciliation.

Faitth is also a social media strategist for Be The Bridge, and a blogger who writes at Faitthbrooks.com. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @FaitthB.



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Building a team of dedicated volunteers isn’t easy. It takes a lot of hard work and a steady flow of communication to ensure that you’re getting what you need, while giving what they need in return.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


7 Lessons From the First Year of Business

I tend to get a little sentimental this time of year. Sure, there's the Fourth of July, which many people across the US celebrate. I, too, am deeply grateful for all of the people who made (and make) our freedom possible. But I also moved into my first solo apartment on a sunny Independence Day weekend in 2003. And last year, I officially launched this business on July 1. So, the beginning of July has many layers of significance for me. Freedom takes on many forms.

Naturally, I've been reflecting a lot on this first year of Signify, which was created to help small nonprofits and social enterprises get noticed and grow through effective marketing and communications. It's been my desire to help cause-focused organizations like these succeed because they are making positive impact on the world. They are the types of businesses I support personally, and now I'm able to support them professionally as well.

So, here are seven lessons that I've learned over the past 12 months. I think you might find them helpful as well, whether you're just starting your organization or need some additional perspective as a seasoned business owner.

7 Lessons From the First Year of Business

1. You must start, and remain, flexible.

One of the hallmarks of tech companies, which continually sets them apart from other businesses, is that they're pretty nimble because their feedback loops are small. Meaning, they put something out there, which isn't necessarily perfect, then they gather feedback, make improvements, and relaunch. They live in this mode.

However, most businesses tend to try and perfect their product or service prior to launch, gather feedback slowly, and then might make some adjustments over time, and eventually relaunch. It's usually at a snail's pace, especially for nonprofits. But if you haven't noticed, your phone's Facebook App is updated every two weeks! They don't wait for major fixes, they test and tweak along the way.

I get it. You don't want to be a tech company. Neither do I. But I think there are some valuable lessons here. Less than six months into Signify, I hired a business coach for a short-term project. I would've actually hired her earlier, but I had to meet certain qualifications to work with her.

One of the first things she told me was rethink my mission slightly. She was afraid I'd narrowed my niche a little too far to be profitable. And it was a good point. So, before I even had a website, I made the shift. It was a relatively small step, but it did make a difference, and has brought in some fantastic additional leads and clients that I might not have had the privilege to work with otherwise. 

Startups tend to bend toward flexibility because almost everything is a learning process. My story above is probably not unlike one of your own. However, startups later become big girl or big boy businesses, and with experience, they tend to slow down in adulthood. I could see myself doing the same because I might feel that I have things "figured out." But the lesson for you and me is keep the mindset of the youngster. Organizations that stay agile are more connected to their audience, willing to learn, and lesson the pains of having to make large changes after heading down the wrong path for too long.

2. Even solopreneurs don't work completely alone.

When you're just starting out, the thought of hiring people, event to do small tasks, seems like an absolute luxury, doesn't it? And today's technology makes it easier than ever to learn things out of your depth, like using Canva to design graphics when you aren't a designer. 

So, most of us cobble everything together, using bandages and duct tape to run our business. We declare it good enough for now, and when we _____(insert milestone), we'll hire someone else to improve it. 

However, the ability to scale your business often means relying on others, and we all started our business to eventually scale, if only by a little bit. My website is built in Squarespace, which prides itself on putting the capability to design a website in the hands of the everyman. And, as a project, I actually designed a simple website for a client in early 2016 using Squarespace. So, I knew my way around it. 

But I also knew there were better things to spend my time on, like working on paid projects and writing my site. And I wanted it to look better than anything I could do myself. So, this was the first thing I hired out. Yes, it was scary because it was a big expense for me, but I've been really happy with it, and again, it allowed me to do tasks that actually paid me rather than spending my time designing a site, and taking much longer than a pro. (Thanks, Madison and Dusty!)

I've also hired an account because I'm world-class terrible with numbers. And I spend a lot of time asking and listening in Facebook groups to learn from others as well. None of us can do everything. It's just not possible. My clients are often looking for the unicorns that can do it all (and I don't blame them), but the truth is, they don't exist. So, be humble enough to learn from others or ask someone else to do the work. You'll relieve a lot of stress when you cross this line.

3. Relationships are everything.

You've already realized this, but sometimes listening to "experts" can be a little misleading. For example, I was under the impression that I would build this business differently than I've built the rest of my career.

There are a lot of people online touting that if you just put great content on your blog and promote it on social media, your email list will just steadily build and those people will become clients. It seems so easy, and guys, I fell for it. #goodmarketing

I have no doubt that this is the case for some people. It has, however, not be the case for me. Instead, I spent years freelancing while I had a full-time job, volunteering, giving free advice, and building long-term relationships. These are the amazing people who have become my clients

When I first started talking about my business, they were excited for me. They asked how they could be a part of it, and were thrilled to have more of my dedicated time—and, low and behold, they were happy to pay me! For the first three months, they sustained Signify. I thought it was incredibly wonderful, but it wouldn't last. I needed to do what those experts said instead. So, I did, and while I've made some great new relationships and a few potential leads, it hasn't been everything those experts said, at least so far.

Six months. Nine months. Now twelve months. My business is still running because of people I know first-hand and referrals. Helping people is an amazing thing. Helping friends is even better. With the exception of two jobs, one of which was at a restaurant, every job I've ever had has come through a personal relationship. So, for me, this new endeavor shouldn't be any different.

Think about who you know. Be good to your friends. Try to be helpful. It will come back around!

And do yourself a favor, and get a mentor if you don't already have one. These relationships have been invaluable for me.

4. To some extent, organization determines your success.

This may seem like an odd inclusion, but getting organized has come up several times over the past year. I'm a pretty organized person by nature. It's just part of my personality. And I can't work in a messy environment, whether that's on my physical desktop or my computer's desktop. However, it's also something I often end up discussing with clients.

I've heard stories of people losing leads because they weren't organized enough to find the right documents to send to these potential clients. They simply took too long, and the lead moved on. And I've known clients who weren't very productive because they were unorganized. It stopped them from making much progress, whether they were gathering sales or donations.

I also worked on a fundraiser that started out fairly disorganized. Employees left the organization, and files were everywhere, changing hands year-to-year, getting scattered throughout the organization along the way. I felt like Gretel chasing crumbs down the hallways. There were a number of things we did differently last year, and organization was one of them. They actually ended up grossing 400% over the previous year in donations! Yes, there were absolutely other big things involved in making last year different than previous years. Otherwise, this girl would be on her way to the millionaire's club. But the staff all noted that organization helped the process feel more smooth and professional. It showed to them, and to donors.

If organization doesn't naturally come to you, I urge you to find a system that works. It doesn't have to work for everyone, but it has to work for you. Your productivity will increase, your stress and that feeling of scrambling will decrease, and you'll look and feel more professional. And I think those are two keys to success.

5. Comparison really does kill.

Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy," and Teddy was right. Recently a friend and I were talking about this subject. It's difficult to look on the internet and see emails, ads, and posts by people who are doing similar things—and thinking they're doing them better.

One of the proposals you have to continually make with your business, whether starting out or just seeking out a new client, is your position. You have to declare what makes you different, which helps build your case.

This is easier on some days than others, depending on your mood or how business has been going lately. But the thing my friend and I reiterated for each other, and what I want you to hear as well, is that what makes your organization different is you. The service or product may be the same or similar to someone else, but no one can take away your individuality. YOU are what you bring to the table. Be confident in that.

(But if you want a few ideas from nonprofits and social enterprises that you can tailor to make your own, take a peek here.)

6. Without strategy, your plans have no purpose.

I'm a huge proponent of strategy, but even I lose my way. (Like, a lot.) It's just so easy to see the To Do list building and get distracted by tasks. But if you never move from small tasks to actually accomplishing your goals, you're just going to spin your wheels. And that's the opposite of progress.

This is actually a series I'm planning to do soon because it's occupied my mind during June. I can't stop thinking about it . . . likely because of this season of reflection that I'm in. And I'm grateful for it. This is a prime time for learning.

To keep your business moving forward, you need a strategy. This may be a marketing strategy, refining your products or services, growth or expansion in general, bringing on additional help, etc. There are a thousand things this could include. You'll have to decide for you. For me, it means adding to my 1) client base for revenue and 2) email list so that I can continue being of help to others through my blog and Special Features, my monthly newsletter. That means I need to make all efforts concerning those two goals a priority, and figure out how to handle everything else. This will likely mean some outsourcing. Again, scary, but good. I'll keep you posted.

Consider your strategies. Are they working? What can you to do improve them?

7. Even in "failure," show yourself some grace.

I have a confession to make. And it's a hard one for me. 

I didn't meet all my goals this year.

A year ago, when I looked forward to this time, I thought I'd be in a different place. I thought I'd have some digital products, an online course, a larger list, more income, etc.

Some of this realization has been difficult for me. As a goal-oriented person, it really is a hard confession to make. You may look at it and think it's no big deal. You may even think that yes, of course, things look different after a year. We can't predict the future. And, if it were you saying these things, I'd say that you're absolutely right.

Sure, these things might not officially be labeled "failures," but they were for me.

It's always different when it comes to ourselves, yes? I've always been my toughest critic. 

During the last year, I've had to adjust goals, timelines, and so much more. Some of these have been incredibly difficult because consistency is the pulpit from which I preach. But I know there was a good reason I made each and every one of these changes. I didn't take them lightly. I had me in mind, and I had you in mind. 

I have to continually remember that I've also had some great successes. I've helped out friends with their projects, launched my website and online presence, improved my health, and sustained myself financially, to name a few.

On the days that I remember my failures, I also have to remember my wins. Not to do so is a disservice to myself and my clients. We've done some great things together. I have to show myself some grace. I'll use the past experiences to propel myself forward.

I encourage you to do the same because the world needs our work. No one else can do it.

Here's to year two! Wishing you abundance and joy as well.

If your organization is new, did any of these surprise you? If you're a seasoned business owner, what other advice would you give?

NOT-SO-SIDE-NOTE: a HUGE thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past 12 months. I have amazing family, friends, and clients. I'm more grateful than I can say! 



PIN THIS POST FOR THE FUTURE:

Here are seven lessons that I've learned, and I think you might find them helpful as well, whether you're just starting your organization or need some additional perspective as a seasoned business owner.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Stop Wondering What To Do Every Day

Do you wake up each morning and have to reprioritize or reevaluate that day's To Do list? Are you continually getting lost in your list, or do you waste time on tasks that don't matter? Is asking you to fit marketing into your routine just crazy talk?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, hopefully today's post will help. 

Stop wondering what to do every day.

It's "Marketing May" here on the blog, and so far we've covered marketing basics, like what the heck is it and why you need it, as well as the latest trends.

And last week, we also talked about marketing plans, defined them, and stressed their importance. They are a valuable document many people tend to overlook, but they can be enormously helpful in defining priorities, even at a weekly and daily level. And once the work of creating your marketing plan is done, you're way ahead of the game!

The next obstacle, now that you have a plan in place (if you don't, more below), is figuring out how to execute it on a daily basis. Small business owners and employees like you have a wide variety of items on their plate. And marketing in all its forms can often take a backseat to more "pressing" matters. I totally get it. But effective marketing is how you can get ahead. It's a key to not only sustaining your organization, but growing it. And who doesn't want that?

Even better, you can create your daily To Do list from your marketing plan! The easiest way I've found to do this is to essentially put your marketing plan document into an Excel sheet. You can even download a copy of mine here

How to Create Your Marketing To Do List

This Excel sheet is, of course, customizable, so I encourage you to make it your own, and add any fields that you think will help you and your organization. 

Mine contains:

  • Item - Easy enough to pull right off your marketing plan. This could include print ads, email blasts, social media scheduling, and similar.
  • Date - I like to include the public date. For example, when an ad will show up in a magazine, or when the social media post goes live on Facebook. It's usually a good idea to sort the sheet by this date so the more urgent items show closer to the top.
  • Circulation - Because I was in public relations, I still like to look at these numbers. They're also helpful to see how they increase or decrease year to year. So, for a magazine ad, the circulation is how many issues are printed. But when talking about a Facebook post, you can include how many followers you have for your page or how many people saw it. Whatever you decide, I suggest including numbers that give you some perspective on how many people are seeing or interacting with your efforts. This can help indicate if your strategy and budget are working.
  • Status - I like to know where I'm at on a task. Is it complete, submitted, drafted, with the designer, etc?
  • Notes - Always a good idea!

Another option is to add a column for items that need to be updated later, like web graphics. If you're working on a launch, as an example, then post-launch, you'll need to go back and update your website, social profiles, and things like that. So, it can be helpful to have a column that triggers you to take that action.

Additionally, you might consider creating categories for big deadlines if you have a long-term project, initiative, or event. For example, the annual conference that I worked on had four major deadlines throughout the year. Opening day took place in the fall, we had another deadline before the end of the year, one late winter, and one early spring. So, I created categories on the Excel sheet to make everything easier to look at in a glance for each "bucket" in the timeline. To make this happen, you can simply skip a few lines between tasks for each major deadlines and use a colored line to separate them. Now, the entire event is still on the same Excel sheet, but I can see tasks associated with each deadline separately as well.

As you see, its not overly complicated. It's actually a pretty simple layout. But it is extremely productive, and will help you stay on task. Using this format was a lifesaver for me when I managed five events that each had their own deadlines and associated tasks.

Dig Deep

Be sure to add every item you can think of, even smaller details like changing staff signatures, or emailing staff and key stakeholders with updated information. Anything you can put on this list moves it out of your head, where it may have a chance to get lost.

I realize this format is unlikely to take the place of your current To Do list in its entirety. There are always other odds and ends that need to happen as well, especially if you wear multiple hats. However, it should go a long way in helping you organize your marketing and communications efforts so that they can become a larger priority in your week, rather than continually put on the back burner, never to be reheated again.

What if you don't have a marketing plan?

Many of you probably find yourselves in this category. But don't worry, all is not lost! 

Remember when you were in school and you had to create an outline for your research paper? Which did you do first? For me, it was easier to write the paper and then the outline, for some reason. The same principle applies here. Try creating your in-depth To Do list first, if you feel that needs your attention now. Then you'll be able to write your marketing plan from there. 

But I do encourage you to eventually go back and write your marketing plan. For all the reasons why, check out last week's post.

What now?

Whether you're creating your task list from a marketing plan, or starting with the list and moving backwards, this should make your day-to-day much easier.  It can be oh so helpful to see everything laid out in front of you at a glance rather than juggling a bunch of papers, separate lists, or keeping it locked up in your head.

Now you know what you need to do that day by referencing this task list because you have every item and deadline in black and white on one sheet. So, if you see that an email blast needs to go out in two weeks, you can work backward depending on how long it takes you to prepare it. Both short-term and long-term items are visible, helping you to manage your time better.

This will, of course, take some trial and error. If you are a person who loves systems, like me, you may adapt more easily. If you are used to playing your days more fast and loose, you may have more trouble initially, but implementing this idea will save you time and frustration because you'll automatically understand what each day has in store from a marketing and communications perspective.

As a result, you'll begin working further out, which removes a lot of the added stress of being in reaction mode or the frustration of working on projects in the wrong order. Your days can be tackled with greater intention, making better use of precious time.

Let me know how it goes!

And don't forget to download my task list template.

"This spreadsheet idea has saved my life, and made me so much more productive in the past year." - Erin J., Orange

Finally, you may also be wasting time on a few things that are sucking up your time, and not getting you anywhere. Wouldn't you love to free up some time and energy, so you can begin to focus more on what matters most? 



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How to Fit Your Marketing Into Your Week

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Get Organized

It's week three of the "Foundations" series, and I just kicked someone in the gut with the title, "Get Organized."

Whether you formally resolved to do this in the New Year, or just made a mental note, I know this topic makes a lot of lists. But if you want to improve and increase your marketing and communications efforts, there's just no way around it.

If you want to improve and increase your marketing and communications efforts, there's just no way around it. You have to get organized.

YOU HAVE TO GET ORGANIZED. #sorrynotsorry

The first reason is for yourself. In order to do what you do well, you need a system that keeps you organized and on track. If you don't know where your files are, which marketing tasks you're supposed to be focused on this week, or have asked someone to email you a graphic three times, you won't make much of a dent in your To Do list. It will only get longer, and you'll find yourself more frustrated.

The second reason is for those you work with. They're begging you. You may not realize it, but you may be the bottleneck in your office, where good work goes to die . . . or at least takes an extended vacation. Even if you're a solopreneur like me, you still work with people (accountant, designers, contractors, etc). And even though us introverted types might sometimes want to work in a vacuum, that's largely a myth, unless you are some kind of unicorn who can do it all. (For the record, I am not.)

I'm not going to dictate any type of organizational system that works across the board. I just don't think that's out there. But I do think you need to find one that works for you. That could be paper and pen, stickies (digital or physical), a white board, online storage applications, or a variety of other options. You may even want to invest in one of those fancy day planners, because like the gym, it may mean more when you pay for it. Just find something that's easy for you to use and can become part of your routine. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

Did I just blow your mind? Nope, probably not. None of these should be shocking to you. They're all simple and readily available. But they work for me. If you try to hand me something on actual paper, I'll likely ask you to email it to me. I don't like keeping up with paper, but I can easily file it away on my computer. However, I know people who are the exact opposite, and that works for them.

I will also say that as easy as it sounds, I have worked with many of my clients just to get them organized so they can tackle their marketing and communications. It’s amazing what a difference it can make to your daily life, and I realize it’s sometimes more simple said than done. But you won’t regret the time you spent setting yourself up for success.

It's 2017, and the options for organization are limitless. Yes, it may take some time to find a system that works, or even dig yourself out from underneath the pile on your desk. But you need this. The people you work with need this. And you'll be a happier, more productive person when you get organized.

What's your favorite organizational tool?

* Please, for the love of all things, stop emailing files to people and wondering who has the current version. If you collaborate with people, these are a MUST for file sharing and storage.

Read the other posts in this series:



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If you want to improve and increase your marketing and communications efforts, there's just no way around it. You have to get organized.

Kristi Porter, founder of www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.