The business landscape changes on a near daily basis and that drives almost a constant need for professional learning. Never before has it been more essential that you not only keep up with the details of your own job and industry but others as well. If you don't, there's a good chance your business will struggle.
If you want to stay on top of your industry and continue to attract new customers while retaining old there are a few key skills you should master this year.
Skills That Will Improve Your Professional Life and Your Business:
#1. Basic Facebook skills.
You must know basic Facebook skills even if you have a marketing department supporting you. There are times where you may be at special events or other parts of your life that you want to share with your company following. If you have to run it through the marketing department and have them do it for you, you'll lose critical time. It's also possible that they won't be with you and there’s no way to second-hand a live stream event.
The basic Facebook skills you should master in 2019 (if you haven't already) are:
#2. Google analytics.
- creating live stream videos
- using pixels and Facebook advertising
- posting to your page and to your company page
- understanding insights
Again, even if you have a marketing department and a data analyst supporting you, it's important that you understand the basics of the analytics on your site. If you don't, you are at the whims and desires of the marketing department and you’ll need to rely on them for reporting. If you don't understand what those reports are saying it's difficult to make executive decisions.
While it’s widely debated about whether this skill can be acquired or if you’re born with it, like anything else, you can become better at it even if it doesn’t come naturally. It's essential to business growth and management these days.
#4. Market analysis.
If you've read the book Blue Ocean Strategy,
you know about the importance of low-cost differentiation. Even if you have somebody else doing the research for you, you want to ensure you understand the market you currently serve and any potential market you might serve in the future. Be creative with thinking about new markets but research them thoroughly.
#5. Employee culture.
Your business will only be as successful as your least disgruntled employee. Said another way, an unhappy employee cannot provide good customer service. Learning the basics of good employee culture and boosting morale can help you be more effective as a business leader.
#6. Understanding social listening.
A critical part of social media is listening. You must understand that listening for the benefit of your company involves more than just what you sell and your company name. You may also want to include things people would search on to find you, problems you solve, and services you offer in the city you service.
#7. Website visitor experience.
Even if you have someone designing your website for you, that person likely doesn't know your ideal customer the way you do. They may be thinking about design and not about your unique website visitors. You need to be the one to tell them what your customers are looking for and what's most important to them. Together you can design a great visitor experience. Make sure this includes the mobile experience as well.
#8. Basic coding.
It's important these days to know just a little bit of coding. While most website design is drag and drop, basic coding can help you fix minor problems that still crop up. If you have the skills, you likely can make changes on the fly on your timeline and not need to wait on someone else.
#9. Marketing automation software.
Marketing automation software allows you to stay top-of-mind with your customers and potential customers. By scheduling periodic communications, you can provide them with the needed resources and become known as a valuable partner in their success. Marketing automation software also allows you to be more efficient in your communication. You can schedule emails to send based on activity saving you lots of time.
Many people are under the wrong impression that to be a blogger you must be a writer. It's probably better that you aren't because blogging is more about conversation. If you follow a typical business essay structure your audience will fall asleep. Develop your own style in blogging, one that appeals to your audience. There are few marketing activities that are better at helping your audience get to know you than blogging.
#11. The basics of SEO.
The basics of SEO are a moving target. You cannot read one article and master it. But you can read a definitive guide and understand the basics of SEO for this
moment in time. In order to truly understand the basics of SEO, you will need to make learning about it an ongoing task as things are always changing. However, understanding the basics will help you reach your audience organically and keep the search engines focused on your content.
#12. Tax changes.
This is an area you likely have a professional handling for you. But it's a good idea at the beginning of every year, or even the end of the previous year, to meet with your tax professional to understand the changes that may affect you this coming year. It can help you make buying decisions, hiring decisions, and freelance decisions among others. Planning your expenses can save you considerably on taxes. Since these things change year-to-year it's important to understand what's tax deductible and what isn't before you spend the money.
Now that we all walk around with cameras in our pockets, it's easy to use these tools to build a following. Just as you need to learn the basics of social media and live streaming, it's important to also know the finer points of video. Some of these things include basics of lighting, sound, the tools you'll use, editing, and tagging as well as meta descriptions.
#14. Creating experiences.
Many people think that experiential marketing is for Fortune 500 companies. But that doesn't have to be the case. There are simple experiences you can provide your customers. For instance, a spice company can host a cooking demonstration or better yet, a tasting opportunity. If you find the right experience for your audience, you may even be able to charge for it and create an additional source of revenue for your business.
#15. The basics behind increasing low-cost staff.
There are many business needs that can be filled through freelancers. if you do a good job in communicating with them and selecting them for their skills they can be an inexpensive way to get specialized services completed. The key here is to ensure you provide them with all the information they need including information about your market and your ideal customer. You will get exactly what you put into it. If you are vague, they will fill in the details. That will not always be to your advantage. There are many sites where you can bid out your project and peruse portfolios of services. These sites include Fiverr, Upwork, among others.
#16. Public speaking.
It's essential that today's business leaders embrace a public persona. If you are doing anything of note in your industry, at some point, you likely will be asked to speak about your experience. Learning the basics of good public speaking will ensure you're ready when you get that call.
This is a broad term and can apply to almost anything from your smartphone to your laptop to any of the software you use. But the reason it's included is that it's no longer quaint among today's business leaders to not understand the basic tools the world is using. If you refuse to at least learn the basics of common daily technology, you'll end up like a once cutting-edge filmmaker who locked himself away from society only to reappear with an old-fashioned viewpoint. You'll think you're leading a cutting-edge movement in your business and you'll really be behind the times.
Even with the advent of digital marketing, business still gets done through networking. It's still
who you know that matters. In fact, people want to buy from businesses they know, like, and trust. Networking both in person and online is essential to this. If you don't feel comfortable networking, find a public speaking group, a chamber of commerce, or other networking organization that can help you feel more comfortable and master the basics.
#19. Appealing to what's in it for them.
It doesn't matter how well you know your product or service, if you are still selling features and not things that benefit your audience in a direct way, you're leaving money on the table. Master speaking to your customers about what's in it for them. All of your copy should be focused on your audience; what they need, what they want, how they see themselves, the problems you can solve for them, and what they will receive by doing business with you from their standpoint.
If you sell based on features, you are asking your audience to make that correlation of how the features can help them. That's a big jump for someone who likely is only spending minutes getting to know you, if you're lucky. On the other hand, if you tell them exactly how you can help, not only does it spell out the issue for them but it also makes them feel like you understand their needs.
#20. Learning from others.
When you've been in one business for a long time there's the possibility of stagnation, especially if you're an operation of one or employ people who have been with you from the beginning. In order to stay fresh, you should constantly look for new experiences in your professional and personal life and encourage your employees to do the same. This can take the shape of attending professional conferences, insisting everyone use all of their vacation, and / or being part of a mentor or mentee relationship. It's amazing what other people can teach you about your business even if they're not in your industry.
If you don't have time to attend conferences and other networking opportunities, you must be a voracious reader or consumer of podcasts, audiobooks, or other online learning. Avoid stagnation by learning from others.
2019 is likely to bring a lot of new opportunities to your business. One of the best ways to capitalize on this is to ensure you're always acquiring new skills and ways in which you look at your business.
What are we missing from this list? What do you plan on learning this year?
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.