Overwhelm is the word I hear most often when talking to photographers about their websites and marketing. Many find technology intimidating and aren’t sure where to start or find the right information.
Keeping up with the fast changing pace of social media, SEO, web and mobile technologies can be daunting, and for any business to survive today requires many skills.
Drinking from the information firehose
The problem isn’t the lack of information on marketing and social media. It’s knowing what information is valuable and figuring out what to do with it. There is so much information out there that the volume and noise is drowning out any good information.
Often times people try to do too many things hoping something will work, most of which doesn’t end up working at all. Which is exactly what leaves people feeling overwhelmed. It’s hard enough to find the time to do everything and it can be frustrating when it feels like valuable time is being wasted.
One of the most quoted rules in marketing is the 80/20 Rule (The Pareto Principle), which states that 80% of your sales come from just 20% of your customer base.
What is the 20% of effort that will get the 80% of what we want? What’s the best way to figure it out?
I recently came across a presentation from Tim Ferris on mastering any skill quickly. He has a an unorthodox way of accomplishing things and thought it was an interesting take if you’re trying to tackle websites and online marketing.
Eliminate Options for More Effectiveness
[quote] “The easiest way to avoid being overwhelmed is to create positive constraints: put up walls that dramatically restrict whatever it is that you’re trying to do.” – The Four Hour Chef [/quote]
In The 4 Hour Chef, Tim Ferriss talks about Meta Learning, the strategies and framework for mastering any skill quickly. The book is a “cookbook” for learning anything and cooking is the vehicle he uses to teach this method. Along with recipes and cooking skills are great insights and tips you can use to grasp the skills you need in your business, marketing, social media or anything else.
He breaks down Meta-Learning into a four-part DiSSS framework that you can apply to any skill, like marketing and social media.
Most anything is overwhelming if it’s new. In order to be successful at any skill or goal you need to break it down into manageable parts. Ask yourself, “What are the minimal learnable units, the “LEGO blocks” or components I should be starting with?
Which 20 percent of the blocks should I focus on for 80 percent or more of the outcome I want? What 20% of the tactics will give you 80% of the results.
For example, stop focusing on your “average” customer and instead look for the exceptional clients (the happiest) and then addressing their needs. This is also the best way to stand out in an over-crowded marketplace.
Ferris tells you to ask yourself, “In what order should I learn the blocks. What if I did the opposite of best practices?’ By switching up the order in which you learn a skill, you will become more fluent and efficient in it. Question everything and instead of following conventional wisdom replicate outliers and anomalies.
What are the stakes necessary for motivation in the face of the temptation to quit. The stakes for business owners are already there. If you don’t succeed, you won’t get more clients, business or sales.
Cheat Sheets for Everything: How to reduce the information overwhelm
The other part of the Meta-Learning Framework is what Ferris calls the One-Pager.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”] “All we have to do is create a tiny container: the wonderful one-pager. The goal here is to make something intimating un-intimidating, so you don’t quit.
I use two different types of one-pagers:
1. The first is the Prescriptive One-Pager, which lists principles that help you generate real-world examples. In short: “Here are the rules.”
2. The second is the Practice One-Pager, which lists real-world examples to practice that indirectly teach the principles.” – The Four Hour Chef [/box]
The One-Pager summarizes the most important 20% into an easily digestible document so you can focus on the most effective tasks that will get you the biggest results.
As an example, Google Analytics is one of those tools you need to use in order to see whether your marketing is working and how people are finding you. Google Analytics however collects a ton of data and there are hundreds of reports to wade through.
The basic reports in Google Analytics aren’t enough to give you meaningful answers to what’s working for your marketing. I wanted to simplify and zero in on just the stats I needed most with the key performance insights that I could use. I created a Google Analytics One-Pager summary with the 12 metrics of the most important outcomes and results based on my marketing.
By doing this it simplified things and helped my cut through the data clutter. It also helps me on the most essential for the best results.
I use these reports for client sites which makes it so much faster when setting things up. If you are HiFi Ready Made Site owner you can download the reports here.
How this four step learning framework can be applied to learning new web and marketing skills
Not only can this process make learning more effective, it can also help you implement marketing systems in your business that make you more productive.
Here are four take-aways from the book and video for learning a new marketing skill.
1. Eliminate as many options as possible
Deconstruct the task and break it into smaller, more manageable parts. If you want to learn SEO, start by learning one piece at a time, like keyword research. If it’s social media, then decide what channel that will give you best results and master that one first. If you’re new to Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest don’t try and tackle them at the same time. Don’t try ten different marketing strategies to do at once – pick one that would work best for you and focus there.
2. Start with tools you can use quickly
Use as few tools as possible until you’ve mastered them, then expand. It’s easy to get distracted by tools and lose sight of the important things that will move your business forward.
3. Don’t try to accomplish too many things at once.
Often times when people are getting started with a new site or re-design they try and tackle way too many things. View everything as tasks or goals that you can slowly chip away at instead of trying to grasp huge tasks to accomplish at once. Take small steps so your less likely to be discouraged.
4. Find an expert
When I wanted to learn Google Analytics I learned from an expert in the field. I didn’t want to waste my time searching all over for the information and chasing rabbit holes. Find someone who’s an expert at whatever skill you need or who is getting the results you’re after and spend a few weeks learning from them.
Here is the video of the presentation Ferris gave on accelerated learning at The Next Web conference.