The marketing experts on Entrepreneur's Team Digital provide answers to your common questions about building an online presence. Got a question? Ask it in our comment section below or on Twitter using #TeamDigital. Each week, we'll spotlight a different topic, and twice a month we'll host Google Hangouts (join our next one on Wednesday) where Team Digital will chat about best strategies for managing an online reputation, marketing through social media and using mobile techniques to attract customers.
In this week's column, our Team Digital answers: What's your best advice for getting your "startup passion" back, so that your marketing is effective?
Have an "Undercover Boss" moment. Walk in the shoes of your customers and employees every now and then to see the world through the eyes of those who matter most. Feel what they feel. Solve their problems. Create opportunities. Remember why you started the company to begin with. If you lose vision, passion, and most importantly, empathy, you lose your ability to inspire those around you, including your customers.
Get out of the office. Go out there and meet with customers and prospects face to face. Ask them what they get from doing business with you. Ask them what value they receive, what they need more of and what they can't find at all. Ask them to share their passions and goals with you. The real reason we do all of this is to make a difference in people's lives and it's easy to lose sight of that when you operate from behind a monitor all day.
Take a break. Sometimes the best cure for burnout is disconnecting from everything. Take a few days off and you might even come up with some great ideas during your time off. Your time away from the day to day will give you a refreshed perspective on things and leave you feeling energized to jump right back into it.
Connect with your newest employees. You can easily rekindle your passion by tapping into the energy of your newest employees. They are coming to you fresh and ready to change the world, so by spending time with them you too will get that spirit back. Take them to dinner, after hours, and talk to them about what they want to accomplish, and how they view the business. It'll get you right back into the game in no time.
Solicit feedback from your customers. If customer feedback is positive, it'll remind you that what you're doing is helping others, and making people happy. If feedback is negative, it'll shed light on what processes can be optimized or obstacles can be tackled. Entrepreneurs love a good challenge, and often the enthusiasm can die when the challenge disappears. Use your customer feedback to continually improve your business so that you can bring more happiness to others.
Write it down. I'm a huge advocate for putting a pen to paper and writing down your mission and the values that define who you are as a company. Then find ways to communicate that to your employees so everyone walks in the door Day One with the passion, enthusiasm and direction you had when you started out. Zappos famously dares its employees to quit--offering them $2,000 to quit--after a month of onboarding training. You better believe that the ones that stay are ready and raring to go. At my company, we have a booklet we hand out on employees' first day that brashly states what we value, how we think and what we expect. It immediately says to employees: "This is not an ordinary place. This is not an ordinary job." People buy into it because... who wouldn't want to? Having energized, excited and motivated people around you is energizing, exciting and motivating. Think about what you can do to create that dynamic in your business.
Hold a yearly off-site where you re-look at and refresh your brand and business. Ask yourself, where have we been? Where are we going? What new innovations, services or products are our customers wanting or needing that we can create? Just by asking these questions and looking anew, you can refresh your enthusiasm for your business.
"Weight" a second. I keep a few weights and a Yoga mat by the door. Can't get out of the office? Drop for 20, 30, 50 push-ups. Or sit-ups. Stretch. Do something physical. Twenty seconds or more, and you'll note a full chemical change in your brain. It really works. I also drop for push-ups every hour on international flights. Forget about “airplane germs.” Push-ups kill them. (Just tell the flight attendant what you're doing first, so you don't attract unnwarranted attention from an air marshal!)
Always be looking for the next evolution of your business. Passion is a mindset, enthusiasm is a choice. It has less to do with what you are doing and almost everything to do with the attitude you bring to whatever you are doing. Especially in this fast-changing environment, to stay relevant we must be looking several steps ahead, not getting bogged down in the day-to-day. So watch for the next place your business needs to be. You will have no choice but to stay engaged and, simultaneously, this will necessarily put you several steps ahead of your competition.