Gini Dietrich

How to Get Big Things Done

By: Gini Dietrich | November 26, 2012 | 

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, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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108 responses to “How to Get Big Things Done”

  1. belllindsay says:

    Funny how “12 weeks on the road” sounds like a walk in the park to you! LOL To most people it would be a nightmare – perspective after such a busy year, eh?

  2. G, very cool to watch the progression this year. Amazing what happens when you’re good at what you do and work harder than everyone else. Kudos!
    I will say I want a follow up post on how you got the big things done — scheduling, prioritizing, technology, etc … I know once you pull back the curtain there will be like 50 Gini-bots behind it, but it will still be fun to see. 🙂

    • katskrieger says:

      @Adam | Customer Experience @ginidietrich 50 Gini-bots! Ha!

    • ginidietrich says:

      @Adam | Customer Experience I’m not sure there will be 50 Gini-bots. I’m also not sure HOW I did it. I felt pretty exhausted and burned out all year. Toward the end of the summer, my team clicked into place so that was a huge help…I mean, HUGE. But earlier in the year, it was more about prioritizing accurately and getting the things accomplished that helped us reach our goals. It’s harder to stay goal-oriented toward the end of the week when you’re traveling that much so I always prioritized the big stuff (client and new biz meetings) at the beginning of the week.

      • Carmelo says:

        @ginidietrich  @Adam | Customer Experience @katskrieger Yeah, focusing on the big stuff first … a really important thing. But, Gini-bots? Wow, I’ll have to think about that one. 
        Wow, good for you, Gini. Show’s too what persistence does, right? You keep after it!

        • HowieG says:

          @Carmelo  @ginidietrich  @Adam | Customer Experience  @katskrieger @jasonkonopinski I bet Gini gets acquired by Bain Capital soon!

        • @HowieG  @Carmelo  @ginidietrich  @katskrieger  @jasonkonopinski My prediction is the Gini-bots wil become self-aware on Aug 21, 2013, Judgement Day, and then overthrow her.

        • Carmelo says:

          @Adam | Customer Experience  @HowieG  @ginidietrich  @katskrieger  @jasonkonopinski LOL, there are probably times when she can’t wait for that to happen!

        • ginidietrich says:

          @Carmelo  I really didn’t think we’d make it through 2011. We had already had the “I don’t think we’re going to make it” conversation with my team. Look where we are just a year later. It’s all stubbornness is what it is.

        • Carmelo says:

          @ginidietrich Gini, you say stubbornness and I definitely see that and there’s value in that. But, what percentage would you say it was also the love you have for your expertise and the business you’re in? In other words, as long as you’re not completely hand tied due to no money at all, how much was love a factor?

        • ginidietrich says:

          @Carmelo Well, we had no money come in for four months and we had no access to cash so we were down, literally, to our last penny. I think it was more an attitude of not wanting to fail or let everyone down than anything. Sure, I love what I do, but I didn’t love it so much from 2009-2011.

        • Carmelo says:

          @ginidietrich I’ve been through that too. Incredibly difficult. And no, you can’t love it that much during that time. Was there like one thing that jump-started everything again?

        • ginidietrich says:

          @Carmelo Yes, the government decided to delay the credit debate. So it may happen again, but this time I’m ready because I learned the “cash is king” lesson.

  3. TonyBennett says:

    Did you know using an infographic with a Henry Ford quote instantly increases your credibility by 35%.
    You’re one of my role models when it comes to getting it done. Thanks for giving us some insight into the million dollar mind of yours

  4. ginidietrich says:

    @ScottPropp Thanks Scott! You’re always so good to me.

  5. ginidietrich says:

    @ScottPropp I remember when I started the business and NO ONE talked about what it’s really like. I decided to change that.

  6. wgmccoll says:

    Thanks, Gin.  I’m trying to get my business off the ground, and it’s good to know you started by “laying the foundation” through blogging, etc.  Hopefully, my blogging on YOUR blog will be my way of “laying the foundation” for my blog, website and business.  I appreciate that.

  7. Mark_Harai says:

    Your story is what great companies are made of, Gini.
    A company is only as good as its leader and can only go as far as its leaders vision.
    There really is no limit on what you can accomplish through your work and the foundation you’ve established… It’s mind-boggling and you’re just getting started!
    Cheers to a powerful 2013!

  8. HowieG says:

    I spent 5 years doing heavy travel for a sales job. I spent about 3 month on the road each year and gave up lots of personal time I did not get back…until I quit. I then decompressed at the beach in LA riding my bike for 4 months most mornings along Venice Beach. People thought I was either an undercover cop or a homeless person. Seriously the relief when I quit. I suggest you groom @belllindsay to be your road surrogate so you can stay home and cuddle with Kelly, JB and count your cash.

  9. KellyeCrane says:

    Thanks for sharing, Gini! One thing I find interesting is that you closed most of the business when you had a chance to slow down and focus on that aspect of the biz dev. It shows how both networking hustle and focused follow-up are both necessary (the latter is too easy to put off for many folks). The fullest pipeline in the world does nothing unless you can ink the deal – congrats to you for capitalizing on all your hard work!

    • ginidietrich says:

      @KellyeCrane I definitely needed time to focus in order to close business. What will be ideal in 2013 is creating a nice email marketing program that does nurturing while I’m on the road and then having a person or two back in the office to follow-up so it doesn’t wait until I get back to my desk. Someday…

    • debdobson62 says:

      @KellyeCrane Focused follow up is key.  That is what I’m trying to get my attorneys to recognize.  Yep, you can speak, you can attend conferences, hold webinars, seminars, but what kind of pre-event/post-event follow up strategy do you have in place.  My guess for many.  NONE.  Gini, I applaud you in so many ways.  Thanks for sharing yet another good post and one that I will be sharing.

  10. ginidietrich says:

    @ScottPropp You are very, very kind

  11. ginidietrich says:

    @WebchoiceUSA I have clones

  12. ginidietrich says:

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

  13. ginidietrich says:

    @djenningspr Thank you!

  14. ginidietrich says:

    @aakomas How was your Thanksgiving?

  15. rideboulderco says:

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

  16. rideboulderco says:

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

  17. NathLussier says:

    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!

  18. ginidietrich says:

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

  19. ginidietrich says:

    @josgovaart That works even better!

  20. ginidietrich says:

    @Jensenborger6 TOTALLY different

  21. rdopping says:

    Hmmmm…….I read this somewhere else. 🙂 It’s as impressive the second time as it was the first time. It seems like you are having so much fun doing this stuff too!!! Cheers! How was the tofurkey?

  22. bhas says:

    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? 😛
    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 says:

      @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.

  23. ginidietrich says:

    @SilverGrassMKTG Thank you!

  24. RebeccaTodd says:

    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!

    • ginidietrich says:

      @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.

  25. Quintain says:

    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!

  26. DanielRowles1 says:

    Excellent post – inspired this:

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