Strategy for the New Year
After all the intricate dishes I prepared over the holidays, it was downright refreshing to cook a pot of black eyed peas from scratch on New Year’s Day! Soaking the peas overnight, cooking up the bacon and onions, and then the tomatoes are added and cooked down to a warming stew of sorts. Originally, black eyed peas were planted in the south to feed livestock. Because of its humble origin, Sherman’s soldiers ignored this little legume of expression and destroyed or stole the more “attractive” crops. Thus, black eyed peas became a rich source of nutrition and sustainability for the surviving troops. There are many variations of this story, as to why us Southerners eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Yet, all relate back to luck and fortune. Some might call it luck, others call it a blessing, but I bet those soldiers would like to think of black eyed peas as a strategy to sustain! I encourage you to not only be sustainable, but to reach for great heights. As we begin 2013, please consider the black eyed pea in your marketing/branding strategies.
1. Prepare your soil You can’t just dig a hole and plant your seed. You have to make sure the dirt is nutrient rich and plenty aerated. This step will recur throughout the life of your “plant.” Think about your community of vendors, employees, customers, etc. as you plan for cultivation. What steps must you take to create loyal relationships? Even still, what types of relationships do you intend on nurturing? Rocky soil is great for a vineyard, but not so much for a tomato plant. But lawd, a spicy Sangiovese pairs nicely with a lovely pomodoro sauce. Your “cultivation” is the initial planning before you act.
2. Digging the hole The depth and width of the hole depends upon what you are planting. So, it is important to set parameters and goals for proper use of that rich, loamy “soil” that is before you. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. What are your monthly, quarterly and yearly goals? This can be subjective and objective. You may have 5,000 twitter followers but are they your specified demographic? If you would like to increase business lunch traffic is your LinkedIn profile at 100%? Is that billboard positioned to reach tourists, locals or both? The point is, grab that shovel and know where to dig.
3. Planting the black eyed pea You can either start from seed or slip. Think of a new business as a seed and existing business a slip. Regardless, never plant on a cold, rainy day. The mud and muck will get in the way and your crop won’t yield as much. So, timing is king! Your plans should be put into place at just the right time. If your target audience is a stay at home mom, the last thing on her mind at 8am is Facebook. She is getting her children ready for the day.
4. Cultivating Now the true fun begins! Just as the right amount of water, nutrition and sunlight are important to the growth of a plant, you must nurture your community of followers. If someone reaches out to you whether it is a wall post, a direct tweet or a comment and you don’t engage…you might as well stomp that plant right back into the hole from which it grew!
5. Harvesting The most important similarity between planting and harvesting is timing. Do you really wanna be that awkward teenage boy that slaps on his dad’s English Leather with a heavy hand, nodding your head and asking “How you doin?” They don’t call it social media for nothing. You will know when the time is right to ask for her number!
6. Enjoying the fruits of your labor Our house smelled so good on New Year’s Day! We ate on that pot of peas for several meals and I even froze a bag for a later meal without the peas going bad. By celebrating milestones, your business is able to nurture itself for future “plantings”. And by all means, make sure to leave room in your strategy for feedback. Passing up on an opportunity to graciously request, accept and learn from your community’s feedback can leave you with a half-eaten pot of peas that has gone bad!