Small business owners trying to stay current on new trends and tips have quite a challenge. So how do you sift out the helpful, usable information from this vast repository, often referred to as big data? If you’re like many small business owners, it’s a hit-and-miss proposition at best.
Key to accessing useful information is to develop and maintain systems that enable you to access what is relevant to your circumstances, while discarding huge amounts of data that are just cluttering the landscape and possibly giving you misleading intelligence.
What are some tools to help keep you sane as you attempt to extract informational needles from a rapidly growing haystack?
Ramp up your stable of trusted advisers. If, for example, you’re floundering aimlessly in an effort to figure out what social media marketing strategies merit consideration, find an adviser who can guide you through the maze most effectively. The right adviser will be able to pre-sift a bunch of gobbledygook out the mix — saving you a lot of time and, possibly, the lion’s share of your sanity.
This may be easier said than done. Before scouring the landscape for a suitable adviser, give substantial thought to the general direction you want your business to take. Many social media consultants are heavily biased towards its use, eschewing such traditional marketing tools as direct mail and print advertising as part of the mix.
Also be as clear as possible about the scope of desired efforts. Designing a social media influenced marketing plan is one piece of the puzzle; implementing it is a whole other ballgame. (And, as anyone who’s ventured into the social media realm will attest, developing and maintaining suitable content streams across multiple platforms can be a very time-consuming task.)
Make sure you find an adviser whose philosophies match where you want to go (or at least think you want to go). If it’s a mix of traditional and social media-rich marketing, then hire an adviser who can see that big picture.
Be willing to pay well for this help. Just as lawyers and CPAs can be critical cogs in the success of any small business, so do marketing-related advisers and the like merit consideration as key strategists.
Establish a stable of trusted resources, then verify them, too. Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s accurate or trustworthy information. While this should be obvious, too many mistakes are made in the name of untrustworthy online reports and claims.
Create a repository of trusted resources that you’re convinced provide generally accurate and helpful information. There are multiple ways to do this. One is to ask your trusted advisers what they trust online and elsewhere. Another is to stick with readily-acknowledged, high-profile sources whose continued existence depends on providing verifiable information.
Widely known and respected media are more likely to be trustworthy than a little-known blogger with little presence or credibility. However, that isn’t always a perfect system. So, you’ll be well-served to verify them with other reliable sources to see what stands up — and what doesn’t. This will help weed out inaccurate and potentially damaging information.
Step away when it all feels too overwhelming. Despite best efforts, probably every small businessperson winds up feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared to deal with the massive amounts of information hitting our brains on a daily basis.
When this happens, do your best to walk away and clear your head. This doesn’t mean hide your head in the sand, which is what many small business owners to do avoid dealing with overwhelming circumstances.
Then, return to the arena. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, that could be a solid indicator that it’s time to find trusted advisers and resources to help you sort it all out.
Mark Lusky, President, Mark Lusky Communications (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. READ BIO