"Extreme Makeover:" Transforming Houston Businesses

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We have all been there dreading, "the question." You don't know what to say, will they even listen, is your answer good, and will you spill your drink while responding? 

Of course, I am referring to: "So, what do you do?"

That question makes me cringe. I never know how to respond. I can mention my business, Elisha Consulting, and how we specialize in digital marketing. The typical response is, "Oh, like websites." Well, yes we do websites, yet that's not the full story. 

I now respond with, "I design solutions to problems." It was only recently when I took up this answer after looking over my portfolio of work and realizing, companies call me when there is a problem. 

  • They can't access their website
  • Their branding is outdated
  • They don't have a yearly campaign strategy
  • Their main marketing person took another job
  • Or 100 other problems

I am known as the "problem solver," and have come to embrace the distinction. Identifying an issue and finding a resolution is satisfying. It's like finding that last puzzle piece and placing it in the correct spot. What about you? Are you a problem solver or problem creator? Do you find answers or just provide critique? 

You can have a successful career if you are the go-to person for solving issues. Want to know how to become that person? We won't get into gritty details, yet solving problems really comes down to two specifics. Let's explore in the upcoming paragraphs. 

Knowing the Illness is Key to Finding The Cure 

A current client wanted to start a content marketing strategy with a goal to be seen as a thought-leader. In fact, she is a thought-leader with nearly 30-years of experience working with executives. Her insights are incredible, yet she had not done any marketing to let the world know of her knowledge. Alejandro, who works with me at Elisha Consulting, and I met with her to plan a content marketing strategy with one contingency, we needed access to her website. 

Quick marketing lesson. Websites are vital for content marketing as they are the central component of a business from a digital perspective. Websites are owned by individuals and companies which gives freedom to make adjustments, work on SEO, drive traffic for e-commerce or a connect page to sell in-person, and the limitations are fewer compared to social media. The issue with social media is that algorithms change frequently. I remember running campaigns when Facebook altered their algorithm in 2014, organic reach dropped from ~16.5% to ~6% (source). To simplify, before the change, when we (the organization where I worked) did a Facebook post, ~16% of our followers saw the post. We had solid engagement. Overnight, the number dropped by more than 50%! 

For this reason, websites are essential with modern marketing as a company has more control. Sure, Google changes their algorithms, yet many of the best-practices to gain website traffic have remained for years, i.e. create valuable content to boost your SEO/SEM.

Back to the story with my client who is working to be a thought-leader. We asked for website access. Weeks passed. We couldn't get into the backend of the website. Finally, we made it to the elusive c-panel after going through her emails from years ago with the previous webmaster and working with the web hosting company. I was excited, then distressed. 

The previous webmaster had used a coding technique which became outdated a decade ago which is equivalent to 100-years in the digital marketing industry. Then I found another major mistake, the designer who put together her branding bypassed Graphic Design 101. They made the logo in Photoshop instead of Illustrator. I know, I couldn't believe it either! 

I sent my client an email stating we had good and bad news. The good news was we made it to the back-end of the website, and the bad news was the website and branding was done incorrectly. She was upset and thought the good news would have been more expansive. 

Then I explained, knowing the problem is not only good news, it's great news! 

Imagine you are sick and go to a doctor. They run test after test and can't diagnosis your illness. Then one day, a doctor runs the correct test and immediately knows the ailment. They realize it's easily treatable and prescribes medication. You would be thrilled! Not knowing is terrifying as your brain runs these crazy scenarios that take a simple cough to dying of an exotic disease. Yet, your mind is at ease once you know the treatment is routine. 

Since we knew the issue, the solution became simple. We are building her a modern website which will launch soon. The problem was having a non-functioning website and the solution was to create a website where we can post blogs, drive traffic, analyze metrics, work on SEO, store digital assets, have an e-newsletter, and more. Designing a solution was simple after knowing the problem, a problem I have overcome in the past. See below for two examples of "before" and "after" websites with previous clients. 

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Strategy is Nothing Without Execution

Once you have diagnosed an issue, you can move to strategy. Keep in mind, problems vary. I have seen issues with customer tracking, websites, campaign management, outdated software, all the way down to not being able to find files, for example, a logo or digital flyer. Your career is likely different, yet you can immediately think of issues you have seen while working. Maybe in accounting, operations, HR, or another field. In any case, knowing the problem is essential before moving to a solution. 

Let's imagine you clearly know a problem, in the above example it was an antiquated website, for your business it could be a thousand other issues from major to minor. Now, it's time to develop a strategy to alleviate the problem. Pause, we need to be be clear, a strategy is useless without execution. For some reason, I keep meeting people who want to be the "idea person" and only focus on strategy. We call these people MBAs. 

I know why they want to be the idea person, it's because ideas are easy and cheap. Execution is difficult. 

Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.
— Peter Drucker

Don't get me wrong. Strategy is essential, yet is easier to develop than most people realize. There are many people with solid ideas and experience who can articulate a strategy. Finding people who can execute those strategies is rare. This is where you see A-players. They are the ones who can see the problem, develop a strategy, and execute with precision. It's really that simple in theory. 

For the website example above, the strategy was discussed quickly. 

  • Strategy: build a modern website with a goal to push content and pull new clients. Done. 
  • Execution: take many hours to build the website, content, editorial calendar, e-newsletter, digital assets, analyze Google Analytics/Search Console, and promote for a minimum of 6-months to see results. I am exhausted just looking at the list. 

The main takeaway is to realize strategy is important when designing solutions to problems, yet it's worthless unless you get down to execution. 

What Did We Learn?

Where did we start? Oh yes, the "what do you do" question. For me, I design solutions to problems. You might be a project manager, in IT, a banker, analyst, or another profession. Whatever you do, you can solve problems. Companies don't need any more "idea" people. What they require are individuals and teams willing to do the work of:

  1. Diagnosing issues
  2. Creating a strategy and executing to resolve the issue

It looks easy on paper, yet is difficult in practice. In your profession, take some time and try to understand how you can make incremental improvements to your business. Over time, larger problems will appear small as you have a process for executing solutions. 

But wait there's more! Did you read that as if it was an infomercial, I hope so?

Would you like to see more before and after projects from Elisha Consulting? You know you do! Click the link button below for my "before and after portfolio." There are stories of how I came to design solutions to problems along with examples including branding, websites, software automation, and more. Feel free to steal, I mean be inspired, by the work for your own career. Being the problem solver is essential to for promotion and longevity in business. 

See even more work on my website - www.elishaconsulting.com

Matt Avery