There’s an old saying: “Plan for the worst, but expect the best.” As a kid, I remember hearing my dad say it. Though I didn’t fully understand what he meant, it stuck with me. Today, I use this saying as part of my personal and professional modus operandi. When the crap hits the fan, it serves me well, even during years like 2020. Let me explain.
As entrepreneurs, we often only think about what could go well. We understand that most things don’t go perfectly, but we tend to look at the glass half-full. Because of this, we don’t put as much thought and effort into all that could go wrong.
Staying Above Water With A Plan
In 2007, right before the economy blew up, many of us leveraged ourselves to the max. We saw the economy going up and up, and many risked it all. Many of us leveraged ourselves to buy property or expand our mini-empires. We took on debt and maxed out credit cards if the deal was good enough.
I know I sure did. At one point in 2006 or 2007, I had four Discover credit cards with nearly $80K in debt combined. I wasn’t out buying toys on these credit cards. I was trying to expand my business, so I told myself it was good debt. But it wasn’t, and I failed to plan for the worst. Thirteen years later, we all know how the economic story ended.
If you listen to many financial advisors out there today, they’ll mention how cheap the money is, how good the debt is, etc.
Personally, I try to avoid debt. In the past, I’ve written about paying off my home. After mentioning it, I got over a dozen emails from financial advisors who follow our posts. They all told me it was a mistake. They told me that the 3.8% interest is cheap money, and if I used the money to invest instead of pay off my house, they could get me 5%, 7%, or even 12% returns.
Maybe that was true, but I have found very few guarantees in life, and even fewer in investing. I would love a 7% return on my money, but I always plan for the worst and expect the best.
Swim With The Current
A few months after writing about paying off my home, I had an unexpected twist thrown my way, and you know what? From a financial point of view, it wasn’t a huge deal because I already had a plan for the possibility of bad things happening.
As a society, we already require you to plan for the worst. That is literally the whole idea behind the $1.2 trillion insurance industry and why we all are legally required to pay for car insurance, health insurance, etc.
In business, though, so few people operate with the idea that they need to plan for the worst while driving toward a better tomorrow.
To prove my point, let me ask you this question: What do you currently do to engage with existing customers, build relationships, and keep your churn numbers low?
If I were able to get a real-time survey from people reading this, many of the top answers would include 1 of these 3 responses as part of their plan.
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
Nothing is a really, really bad idea. You’re simply asking a competitor to beat you.
The other two are important, but each one has critical flaws that neuter their effectiveness. Emails have low deliverability, low open rate, and low time spent consuming the media. The average open rate is 11%, and the average time spent reading an email is 8 seconds.
On social media, you have an engagement issue. For businesses, organic reach on nearly all social media is dead. If you make a post today, fewer than 1% of your followers will see it unless you pay to have more people read the post. The other issue is a very low percentage of customers who follow you.
Know The Tides
You need to make sure you understand the purpose of each media and use it correctly to aid your plan. For example, social media is a much better lead generation platform than it is a customer nurture platform.
Newsletters aren’t a great lead generation piece, but they crush the prospect and customer nurturing side of your marketing campaign. Stop using media for purposes it wasn’t intended for and then blaming the media when it doesn’t work.
It would kind of be like blaming your car for not being able to function as a boat. Of course, a car can work in water (i.e. rain and snow), but you’re going to be very disappointed if you drive it into a lake. I surely hope you have a plan in place for the worst by buying car insurance instead of just expecting the best.
You have to invest some money each month into nurturing your customer base and nurturing your prospects. To make this investment work, though, you need 3 things:
- Good content
- Mass deliverability of content
- Consumption of content
Smooth Waters Ahead
I often think about another old saying: “People do business with people they know and like.” It is one of the reasons why social media is a good tool for lead generation. You can get strangers to know and like you pretty quickly. And once they feel like you’re not going to defraud them, they are willing to take a small step, like downloading your lead magnet or making a small purchase from you.
At that point, you have a prospect you can nurture, educate, entertain, and, with any luck, turn into a loyal, paying customer. Once you have the lead, though, you need a plan to continue to engage, nurture, and entertain.
For prospects, the best media to do that with is a newsletter. A newsletter gives you the ability to communicate with virtually everyone as well as educate, entertain, and build deeper relationships. It also works for customers and referral partners.
To ensure 2021 is your best year ever, you need to plan for the worst and expect the best.