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Gini Dietrich

How to Get Big Things Done

By: Gini Dietrich | November 26, 2012 | 
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In the fifth edition of The Three Things, Michael Schechter (whom I shall call Shrek from here on out), recommended Execute, a book written in a week (well, actually eight days) by Drew Wilson and Josh Long.

The idea being, of course, that you can get big things done when you set your mind to it and really focus.

So, during this National Novel Writing Month, Shrek and I both are embarking on writing something more than a few thousand words in order to achieve individual goals. Mine is to finally write a novel and his is to make a dent on a larger writing project.

This isn’t my first book. Earlier this year, the book I co-authored with Geoff LivingstonMarketing in the Round – came out and he and I both spent the summer on the road promoting it. It is, however, my first fiction and my first solo book so we’ll see how it goes.

As Shrek began to prepare for his month of writing, he asked some friends to help him out with the blog around getting big things done.

Growing a Business from the Road

The question he asked me was, “How have you run your business this year, while you’ve been on the road promoting your book?”

Let me tell you, it was not easy. I was on the road for 25 straight weeks. I missed my bed. I missed my family. I missed my bike. I missed my friends. I missed my social life. I missed my team. I missed my freaking routine.

But I also knew it was coming so I prepared early in the year to be away for six months. In fact, now that I’ve been home for a few weeks, I find myself looking for things to do around 3 p.m. every day because I’m so accustomed to doing my work in half days while the other half is spent on stage, speaking.

The Back Story

Seven years ago, I opened the doors at Arment Dietrich. I had no idea what I was doing. The only thing I knew was I was really good at communications and I knew there had to be a better way of doing things (measuring results, namely) than the way I’d been taught in the big, global PR firm world.

The first couple of years I was lucky. People were hiring PR firms left and right. Banks were loaning money. People wanted to work for the next big company. We all worked really hard doing client service and we grew in spite of no process, no procedures, and a leader who knew nothing about running business.

But then the Great Recession hit and, though I didn’t know it at the time, I was about to embark on the most expensive business lesson one could have…in the School of Hard Knocks, which cost me more than any Ivy League education.

During that extremely expensive and painful education, I sat back and looked at what it was I was doing. Did I really want to grow a business? Was I ready to take on additional risk? Or should I just call it quits and find myself a cushy SVP job at a global firm with a guaranteed paycheck and benefits?

I always knew, if I couldn’t get the business back off the ground, I could get that cushy job. So I looked at what needed to happen in order to get things going again.

In order to grow at the level I knew we could (185 percent growth this year!), I knew I had to lay the foundation. And that meant getting out there and doing things differently. No longer could we rely on word-of-mouth and referrals to gain new business.

Laying the Foundation

We began to blog. I got on Twitter and painstakingly grew my following one person at a time. Then we added Facebook and LinkedIn and Google+ and YouTube and Pinterest and Instagram. All in order to promote not only the business, but Spin Sucks, which has a very lofty vision of being the resource for professional development for PR and marketing pros.

I went out on the speaking circuit and then Geoff and I wrote the book, which increased the speaking opportunities by nearly six times.

And all of that created our brand, developed our thought leadership, and increased our credibility.

Suddenly Fortune 20 companies began calling us to work with them, to create specific workshops for their employees, or to coach them on integrating social into their larger marketing mix.

Getting Big Things Done

But it hasn’t been easy. We set a financial goal for 2012, which we reached about three weeks ago. Now, of course, I want to see if we can hit a certain milestone by year’s end: We’re $32,000 away from it. My job is business development and, while the speaking and traveling has provided the opportunity to build relationships with potential clients, it hasn’t afforded me the time to follow-up on those opportunities.

Until now.

We closed about a third of our annual business in October. All from people I met on the road. And we’re going into 2013 with more revenue signed than we’ll do in all of 2012. While we had 185 percent growth this year (and we’re not finished), we’ll more than triple our 2011 revenue in 2013.

All because of the combined power of blogging, a published book, speaking, social media, and targeted follow-up.

Next year I’ve promised myself I’ll spend only 12 weeks on the road. We’re incorporating marketing automation to help with follow-up from the speaking engagements. Growth won’t wait until I’m home and at my desk like it did this year.

A version of this first appeared on A Better Mess.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

108 comments
Quintain
Quintain

Thanks Gini for posting this fantastic blog. I always enjoy reading your posts, but this time I feel a particular kinship. My husband and I started our firm (Quintain Marketing) seven years ago at the same time you started Arment Dietrich. In early 2009, the bottom fell out and we, like you, decided to invest some time in social media to find out if we could expand our network and grow our business. It did succeed in doing that, but it also fundamentally changed our business model. Prior to 2009, we were not selling social media services. After using social media to market ourselves, clients began asking us if we could do it for them and a new business line was born. Fast forward to today and we have also added marketing automation to our list of services (we started using HubSpot about a year ago and love it, and now we have about 6 clients on it as well - AND I got to meet @geoffliving at the HubSpot conference this past August!). The truth is, social media works. In the last 6 months along, we've gotten 4 new clients just from LinkedIn and several more from our blog. I'll be honest - we're not neary as consistent as you are with blogging (the Cobbler's child, you know!) and as a result our growth isn't quite as astronomical - but the effort we've put in has more than paid off. Now, you are a huge inspiration to me to take it to the next level!

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

Wow you are some sort of Wonder Woman! You touched on one of my key struggles here- Follow Up. While I am not on the road as much as you, you know my aggressive calling schedule (30 individual meetings in one day being my record), and I am sure you can imagine the follow up that this creates. Short of cloning myself (something the UN has specifically ruled against), I am still struggling with the duality of creating new business through meeting new customers and strengthening the relationships I have already formed. I have hesitated to use automated follow ups thus far- i would love to hear how that works for you. I am beginning to think I should don my Charles Arment cape and fly to The 'Dam with you to talk strategy! 

bhas
bhas

So what's your book about? If it involves vampires and teenage angst, though I'm probably going to pass. No hard feelings, m'kay? :P

 

As impressive your results have been  what's striking is that you stuck to the basics and didn't do anything fancy. You gave people things to think about, carried out a constant conversation and nurtured your network, one person at a time. It's grunt work and unglamorous but that's what brings home the bacon (or cupcakes. Cupcakes are cool)

 

Here's to a successful 2013

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@josgovaart Really? I could add in some things about it, if you want

NathLussier
NathLussier

You have no idea how cool it is to see behind the curtain, and get a glimpse at your process. Thank you for sharing that. Oh, and I'm a huge NaNoWriMo fan too, I "won" in 2007 while working a fulltime job, traveling across Europe on week-ends, and maintaining my relationship with my man (he stuck with me and we're now married). 

 

So yeah, major congrats on all fronts - novels, business growth, and strategic moves!

rideboulderco
rideboulderco

@ginidietrich and looking forward to reading the book. Need a reviewer :-)?

rideboulderco
rideboulderco

@ginidietrich wow! congratulations on hard-earned achievements this year! You've definitely been a 'force of nature' - good for you!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@4thGear OMG! Twitter AND Facebook in two days?!?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @RebeccaTodd I use Infusionsoft and it works REALLY well. I don't use it for hot leads, but the people I meet who I think may want to work with us eventually? For sure I use the automated emails. I have it set up so it's personal, as if I sat down and wrote the email as soon as I got back to my desk. It was painful to get set up, but now that it's working, it's like magic.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @bhas Mmmmm...cupcakes. The biggest lesson I learned in the past couple of years is LOTS of people want to come work with us, but no one realizes how hard we work. So they interview and start to see behind the scenes and think, "No way! I'm not willing to work that hard." It's not glamorous and it IS grunt work, but it works.

 

And no...no vampires or teenage angst. 

josgovaart
josgovaart

@ginidietrich more a subject for lunch or dinner!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@rideboulderco I'm scared to have anyone read it!

aakomas
aakomas

@ginidietrich It was great! How was yours?

4thGear
4thGear

@ginidietrich I know right ..I'm like a social media master now that I have posted to 2 places in under 24 hours.

rdopping
rdopping

@ginidietrich so. You came through on the maple bacon wrapped turducken then, huh? Awesome for you.

Latest blog post:

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@Jensenborger6 You think it'd be no big deal because I write every day. WRONG

rideboulderco
rideboulderco

@ginidietrich well, when/if you're ready, I'm happy to help. It's a tremendous achievement!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@aakomas It was good. Really low-key. Now the race to the end of the year begins.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@4thGear You really are...a guru, in fact

blfarris
blfarris

@4thgear Wait, Randy's here? How did that happen? @ginidietrich

rdopping
rdopping

@Carmelo @ginidietrich Anyone who calls me old IS a turkey.

Latest blog post:

Carmelo
Carmelo

 @ginidietrich  @rdopping WooHoo! What shall we bring Ralph? Something really nice, but don't you think it should challenge her too? She'd love that. 

 

Thanks, Gini ... you are a treasure. :-)

Jensenborger6
Jensenborger6

@ginidietrich Yes, I imagine everything changes when you have to make stuff up. But it's so much more fun...

aakomas
aakomas

@ginidietrich Cool! Enjoy the rest of your day :-)

aakomas
aakomas

@ginidietrich Ok then, face time later :-)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@aakomas We are virtual now so no more wine:30!

aakomas
aakomas

@ginidietrich Mine too. Spent it with family. I am rooting for you! Exciting! Wine:30 b4 the end of the year?

4thGear
4thGear

@ginidietrich I'm betting you make it

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@4thGear Right now I just need to get through this year. I have 20 more days of travel.

4thGear
4thGear

@ginidietrich Yes it is - never a dull moment. How can I help?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@4thGear Now, of course, I have new concerns that never hit me before. But that's part of the fun of business growth

4thGear
4thGear

@ginidietrich I miss you too we need to catch up! Really glad to hear how the biz is rockin!! Never a doubt for me.

4thGear
4thGear

@ginidietrich @blfarris Ok now you guys are just making up words to tease me. I'm not falling for it.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@blfarris @4thgear STOP THE MADNESS! Then it could be Instagram and Pinterest!

blfarris
blfarris

@ginidietrich Will @4thgear be on G+ tomorrow? Where will it all end?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@blfarris Right?! He was on Facebook yesterday. Maybe the Mayans were right @4thgear

4thGear
4thGear

@blfarris @ginidietrich I'm pretty sure I hit a wrong button on the new phone and got on Twitter by accident