Have you ever looked at another entrepreneur’s business and/or life and thought: “Wow, I wish I had her success!”
I know I do. It’s a natural reaction, believe me, as long as it comes from a place of learning and love.
Think of this analogy (one taught to me by my business mentor): If you want to move up the ladder, you have to look up and see who’s already there – and learn from them.
You won’t get up that ladder by looking next to you, or below you.
So, look up the ladder and find entrepreneurs you can learn from. The process is called benchmarking.
Learning to benchmark others
Your first question might be: What is benchmarking? Benchmarking is a quality improvement process tool used by businesses around the globe. Benchmarking is when you compare your practices and performance against others. During benchmarking, you study what other entrepreneurs are doing, how they’re doing it and how well their efforts are paying off.
In terms of marketing, here is a benchmarking process you can follow to learn how entrepreneurs use online marketing to grow their businesses:
- Make a list of others who have a similar business as you.
- On this same list, write down the web addresses of each entrepreneur. This is so you can go back and check out their websites from time to time.
- If applicable, opt in for their emailing lists and/or subscribe to their blogs.
- Next, find their social media accounts and follow them. If you want to connect with an expert through LinkedIn, make sure to send a customized introduction message to explain your shared interests. Tip: It’s okay to mention you are benchmarking them. Most experts will be flattered.
- Analyze their social media interactions. What are they posting about? What can you learn from how they’re sharing their knowledge and connecting with customers?
- Analyze their web site. What web pages have they created? Are they blogging regularly? What products or services do they offer? Do they offer a gift for subscribing to their email list?
One more thing: It’s okay to look outside of your industry! It may be easier to start with entrepreneurs in your niche, but if you like someone who’s not in your industry, feel free to benchmark her.
Take notes as you analyze each entrepreneur’s online presence. Write down tactics you like and areas where you think the experts can improve upon.
Applying what you’ve learned
Now that you’ve assessed the website and social media accounts of who you are benchmarking, think about how you can apply what you’ve learned to your marketing strategy.
One of the easiest ways to document what you’ve learned is to draw a line down a sheet of paper, and label one column “To Do” and the other column “Not To Do.” Anything in the “To Do” column are action items you can pursue for your marketing.
Another strategy is to use Evernote, an organizational tool available through the web, tablet and smartphone. In Evernote, you create “notebooks” to organize information. Then, you can clip items from the web, as well as type or verbally recite notes to add to your notebooks. Evernote is a great way to organize ideas and practices you’ve learned from others.
Benchmarking is a continuous process
The marketplace is constantly changing: Entrepreneurs may have moved on to another niche, new players could have entered the industry and people are constantly changing their strategies. That’s why you want to always be benchmarking, learning and adapting from others.
Here’s another tip: Designate time periodically for a benchmark review. For example, schedule a morning every three months to go through the list of people you are benchmarking and see what changes you see. During this time, evaluate how you can apply what you’ve learned. Finally, reflect on what you’ve done so far and how you can improve.
Don’t be surprised if others are benchmarking your efforts too! Be open to learning and giving. Your marketing and business will only improve every time you do.
I invite you to check out the Celestial Marketing Academy. It’s specifically designed for purpose-driven entrepreneurs (like you!) who want to become the Director of Marketing for their businesses. Through monthly curriculum and support, you will learn how to market your gifts and passion with the world. Click here to learn more about the Celestial Marketing Academy.