For those of you who follow my social media feeds, you probably know that I'm a big fan of the HubSpot blogs. They consistently produce great content on sales, marketing, design and productivity that help businesses and individuals perform better. If you don't subscribe to the HubSpot blog, I recommend that you do.
One of my favorite authors on the HubSpot blog is Lindsay Kolowich. She shares a steady stream of common-sense tips that help SMB companies perform better. In a recent post titled 11 Practical Tips for Finishing Your To-Do List Faster, Lindsay taught this old dog a new trick. She introduced the concept to me of a To-Don't List - a list of time-wasters that you identify and resolve not to repeat.
For those of us practicing inbound marketing, we know how much work goes into keeping an inbound marketing machine humming. To distinguish yourself and produce results, you need to create new content frequently and perform the associated tasks necessary to promote that content and generate leads. For small businesses like mine, that's in addition to doing customer work, strategy, sales and administrative tasks. I need to do everything I can to stop doing unproductive tasks and focus on the things that will make my business perform better.
So I have resolved to create a To-Don't List. Mine is just starting, but let me share it with you.
Facebook social media marketing
I have a B2B business that has a fairly tightly-defined niche - I specialize in providing outsourced inbound marketing services to technology companies, professional services firms and government contractors.
The bottom line is that these people aren't on Facebook to do business. They're doing the same thing that I am: keeping up-to-date with old friends and maintaining relationships with friends across the globe.
For those that do market on Facebook, it's increasingly becoming a pay-to-play proposition. So Facebook, it's been real.
I have a few scheduled posts to run out on my Facebook business page, but in the future, here's what your going to see on my Facebook feed.
Meetings without clearly defined agendas
I recently was asked by a friend to meet with a colleague at her new organization. I didn't think there was much hope for anything useful coming out of the meeting, but I agreed to do a favor for a friend. The colleague scheduled a meeting with me at 9 AM on a Friday morning.
On the day of the scheduled meeting, I drove through rush hour traffic to my office for the sole purpose of meeting with this individual. 9 AM rolls around, no sign of her. At 9:05, I get an email from my Calendly account letting me know that this person has canceled the meeting and wants to reschedule for 12:30.
The bottom line is that I wasted 3 hours of my time for someone who offered zero value to me.
In the future, I won't agree to meet anyone without a clearly defined agenda that leaves no one on either side wondering, "What's in it for me?"
Favors for people without skin in the game
In some ways, I'm a bit old-school. A lot of my business success over the years has been built on doing favors for people. When you think about, there are a lot of slang phrases in American English that show the importance of the unwritten rules of doing favors:
"You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."
"It all comes out in the wash."
The basic unwritten rule (at least in my generation) is that if someone does a favor for you, you look for a chance to return the favor when you can. I've learned over the past few years that many people don't look it at that way, particularly outside of the United States.
Without going into a great amount of detail, I recently had an organization that I've done a lot of favors for nickle and dime me on a minor expense.
What it taught me was that unless someone has some skin in the game, I'm not doing any favors for them. For the organization mentioned above, anything I ever do for them again will cost $250 an hour.
That's not to say you shouldn't roll the dice now and again. I did a fair amount of free work for someone who I had a good feeling about that is now one of my most important clients. And I will always do favors for my friends, because I know they will never put me in a bad situation.
I have just started on my To-Don't List, but I see how it will be an invaluable tool in helping me prioritize my time for those that things will improve my business performance. What will you include on your To-Don't List?