I recently had the opportunity to interview Lauren Hall-Stigerts, a marketing consultant and founder of Marketing Gal, a marketing consultancy in Seattle, Washington. She shared her insights into what it is like to run a small business, tips for time management, and how she uses social media to develop relationships.
Marketing Gal is an online marketing consultancy that provides content strategy and implementation for companies in a variety of industries. This could involve a number of methods, including but not limited to formulating on-site content strategy, executing social media outreach, email campaign planning, and authoring blog posts.
How do you manage your time with your business?
I use a combination of Steven Covey’s “7 Habits” and David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodologies. First, it’s important to assign bigger-picture context to daily tasks so the most important things get done. I do this by sorting tasks into a matrix with “urgent” and “not urgent” along the rows, and “important” and “not important” along the columns (Secret: doing this the night before really helps you focus early the next morning – which is the start to a kick-ass day). There is also a really great application called Things that helps me prioritize my tasks. I also schedule breaks to recharge throughout the day (and I snack on healthy foods throughout the day, too).
How do you use Twitter?
I try to engage in conversations on a regular basis while also curating useful links and resources. I have found that discussing shared interests has helped me connect with people. It has led to many great relationships including a mentor who has been invaluable in sharing advice for solving issues that come up with running a consultancy.
How do you balance the demands of running your own business with your personal life?
There are times when there is an important deadline and you may have to work late to finish a project, but I feel like you need to take time off to recharge your batteries. Spending time on my hobbies (which I have many… so much world to explore, so little time!) and with my family is critical to my overall success. Diversity outside the office helps bring diverse ideas to the office: often you will come up with solutions or ideas when you are engaging other parts of your brain.
How do you acquire clients for your business?
I feel so fortunate to say new clients have come from word of mouth, referrals from past clients, and relationships I’ve established throughout my career. I also give talks at local events and that has led to additional opportunities. Feeling intimidated? Present on something you know so well that you could talk about in your sleep or something you have a deep passion for. I guarantee that if you find the right audience, it will be a hit. Joining a local Toastmasters group is great if you want to improve your public speaking skills. I have also found that posting your presentations on Slideshare can result in more visibility (see the presentation Confessions of a Marketing Consultant).
What activities to you invest in for professional development?
I attend local meetups with marketing professionals and also meetups for a field I’m not as familiar with. I read a lot of books (I’m currently reading “Getting to Yes”, which is totally awesome and strongly recommended) and industry blogs. I’m also a moderator for the Inbound.org community which helps me stay connected with influential people in the marketing field. Joining my local Toastmasters group helped me prepare to do more public speaking.