30 Lessons We Learned in 2019
2020 is poised to be a big year for our clients, and in turn, for our team here at 30 Lines. (Sometimes it’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for 12 years already!)
As I look ahead, I also take some time to reflect on the last 12 months. I’m privileged to be a part of a team that has accomplished A LOT – we added four new positions, promoted six team members internally, welcomed at least five office dogs, and grew into a new office space.
Each day posed new and different challenges, and I learned from my team and from our clients. The list of lessons was a mile long, but in typical style, I figured I’d start with my favorite number: 30. (My favorite numbers as a kid were 7 and 23, so I think there might be some prophetic math there.)
Here are the 30 lessons we learned in 2019:
- Ideas are everywhere. Always be observing. Everything around you is either a lesson in marketing and human behavior or a blank canvas waiting for your creative genius.
- There are more technology tools and resources available than ever to help you grow and run your business. Understanding how to connect them and build a system that fits your unique operation is a skill that you should be looking to build for your team.
- Marketing to capture someone’s attention and mindshare is very different from placing ads in a marketplace where you blend in with all your competitors.
- Customers want to do business with you on their time, not yours. Make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
- Email is far from dead. In fact, for our clients who commit to email, it outperforms every other digital channel by far.
- SEO goes far beyond your website. Google dominates, but how people navigate their search from there is often quite unique. Building a broad online presence across many online destinations will give you the best opportunity to be discovered, wherever your prospects may be looking for you.
- What works for your competitors or that one industry guru might not work for you. That’s not only ok, it’s to be expected. Find what works for you.
- A great way to serve your customer is to respect their time. The best way is to show you care.
- Anything in your business that can be automated, will be. And to best serve the customer and your employees, it probably should be.
- Your marketing strategy shouldn’t be focused around the channels you’re most comfortable using; it should focus on the channels where your customers give the most of their valuable attention.
- Things work the way they do for a reason (think website pop-ups or “typical” website design). Sometimes it can feel boring or overdone, but it’s probably there because it works. Familiarity (and the inherent comfort level that comes with it) is often underrated.
- You probably don’t need more leads. You need to take better care of the leads and customers you already have. (Credit to my wife for that one!)
- Avoiding commodity status is more important than ever. As marketplace businesses and trends like voice search continue to grow, your brand – and the customers’ connection to it – will be the main driver that sets you apart from your competition.
- Reports, algorithms and big data are only as useful as the data you input into them. Want to level up the insights that inform your business decisions? Look for the gaps in the data, the stories that aren’t obvious in your reports.
- Proper marketing attribution is a valiant goal, but one that can be tough to realize. Understand the limitations of your tech stack, look for ways to improve and fill in gaps, and educate yourself on the best way.
- Every business can be a media business and an ecommerce business. And should be.
- People will gladly talk to a chatbot before they pick up the phone to talk to you. If you can quickly answer their question — especially at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night — you’ve made it easier for that customer to take the next step toward making a purchase. (48% of chatbot conversations happen outside of regular business hours.)
- Partnerships are powerful. Make the most of them (and always be the partner that brings more value to the relationship).
- Google clearly understands the importance of location; leverage that. What the Facebook business page was to your business in 2012 and 2013, your Google My Business will be that to your business in 2020.
- You can run a great business and still have a poor online reputation if you don’t nurture it. And you end up paying for it over and over. The best thing you can do: Get proactive about asking for feedback. You have lots of happy customers and stakeholders who want to see you succeed.
- For the best results from your social media, put more effort and emphasis into the social rather than the media.
- Everything your customer wants to do to interact with your business, they want to do on their phone. Make it so they can.
- As more transactions and interactions move to digital, people will crave physical connection and experiences now more than ever. Create the places and opportunities for your customers to meet you and each other.
- Voice search is going to continue to rise. Possibly more important for your business, voice-centric brand experiences and utilities are going to keep rising right along with search.
- Marketing automation is simply a high-touch service at scale. It’s an incredibly effective way to personalize your approach to each customer based on exactly what they need, what they’ve told you they’re most interested in, and where they’re at in the customer journey.
- There’s more opportunity than ever to build a great business in “small” niches.
- Building community around your customers has never been more important. For them and for you. Find your community, reach out to them, show them over and over how much they matter to you and your business.
- Details matter. Win the customer with the non-obvious, the nuances that others overlook.
- Curiosity is a skill to be practiced and nurtured. (I could argue it’s the most important skill you can develop to improve your life.) And it’s worth the effort.
- Nothing is out of your league unless you choose it to be.
There are way more than 30 lessons I’ve learned along the way, but my team told me to stop talking and keep it on brand. (They know what they’re doing, so I listen!) The point is, there are opportunities to learn and improve all around us – you just need to be open to them, ready to ask questions, and ready to execute.
Now it’s time to hand it off to you: I’d love to hear about the lessons you’ve learned. What have you seen that stood out? What has impacted you? What has helped you improve your business or your life in general?
I’m looking forward to comparing notes, to hearing your perspective, and to learning right along with you in the year ahead.