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The Invaluable Secret Benefit of Having a Mentor



The Invaluable Secret Benefit of Having a Mentor

When you are just starting a business, it might feel exciting to figure everything out independently. However, an entrepreneurial journey can be full of new learnings, from learning how to manage different functions like accounting and marketing to building a team together.

Although every entrepreneur has expertise in running a business, something sets a successful tycoon apart from an average one. For instance, think about the best business people out there. What do Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, and Steve Jobs have in common apart from being extremely successful?

Mentors have guided each of these individuals. Yes, that’s right. But, even the best companies today evolved with some help and support from external advisors.

Irrespective of your educational background and business experience, a good mentor can be the factor that sets you apart. Here’s why it’s an invaluable secret benefit to have a mentor.

Who Is A Mentor?

A mentor is someone who acts as a support or advisor. A mentor could be the right person to reach out to whenever you are stuck and do not know how to move ahead. After all, mentors have the experience and skills to act as a catalyst to help you improve.

Moreover, a mentor is an expert who can help you find a new perspective. More often than not, we tend to go to business partners or family when we face a problem. While this is a good perspective to have, it is not the same as the power of getting advice from a mentor.

Also, you do not have to pay someone to be your mentor. Mentors often choose to help someone because they know more about that subject and wish to pass it on. On the other hand, others are willing to learn more about challenges and help budding entrepreneurs and employees overcome them and achieve their goals.

How a Mentor Can Help You

Learn from their unique experience

You can’t learn everything from books. Sometimes you need to go through difficult situations to learn something from them. And most of the time, mentors have this kind of experience, which can be helpful for others.

Many businesses collaborate with vendors specializing in a business function. For example, a restaurant that partners with DoorDash for deliveries. This relationship is valuable for restaurant owners because they are experts in hosting, serving, and making delicious food, but not food delivery. So, it’s best to leave this department to a company with extensive knowledge.

Set achievable targets

We all set goals, but we’re not always successful when measuring them. And, without setting measurable goals, you are very likely to stay where you are or even go backward. A mentor can help you develop effective goals.

With the help of a mentor, you can set goals that can push you out of your comfort zone and help you achieve greater things. You will also learn to develop a strategy to convert your plans into achievable targets. For example, suppose you’ve decided to adopt email marketing as a strategy to attract new customers. In that case, a mentor can help you understand how to get more conversions instead of landing up in someone’s spam folder.

Also, it is one thing writing down a goal and working toward it, and another to setting a goal and sharing it with someone. Doing the latter makes you accountable and more likely to reach it.

Learn how to push through

Do you often feel satisfied with how far you’ve reached? Are you unbothered by what’s happening around you and how it can affect your business? If you answered yes, you are probably close to being complacent.

At first, being okay with where you are might not seem that bad. But, it is something that can affect or even stop your growth. By consulting a mentor, you can find out why you are where you are and how you can push through and move towards new heights.

During this process, you might even have a chance to discover something completely new about yourself. For instance, Kubera’s founder had little to zero experience in the fintech industry. But, after he faced a personal loss, he realized there were no tools in the market that did what he needed. This moment is when he was inspired to build a fintech product that can solve everyday problems in a completely different way.

Measure your productivity

Optimizing productivity is essential to business success. What does this mean? How do you measure and increase it? It is about the number of hours worked, the multiple tasks, and the issues addressed. Having a mentor with an impartial perspective can help you make better use of your time to get more done.

A mentor can help you understand how to measure productivity by defining the right metrics, recommending an external tool, or even tracking revenue. By measuring productivity, you will have the insights to make informed decisions about operational changes, hiring new talent, and implementing new processes and tools.

Enhance your standard practices

Since you are running a business, you might already have some processes. These processes are in place for different teams such as finance, marketing, operations, human resources, etc.

Now, to ensure you can make the most of your resources, it is essential to revisit these processes from time to time. This review cycle will help you uncover new ways to streamline your work, improve productivity, and increase profits.

A third-party perspective can help you improve how you are currently handling everyday activities. For instance, an advisor can help you learn if your accounts payable department uses software that can save time, cut costs, and build good relations with the team and suppliers.

Solve problems quickly

Saving the best for the last: the best part of having a mentor is that they can help you solve problems by offering a new perspective. When we are stuck, we think of the problem from only one or two angles. Unfortunately, this limited thought automatically restricts our ability to develop out-of-the-box solutions.

But, with a third-person perspective, you are more likely to get solutions. Studies suggest people are wiser when they have to solve someone else’s problem than their own.

Key Takeaway

From sharing their wisdom and helping you set targets to offering a third-person perspective, a mentor can be helpful in myriad ways. All you need to do is ask for guidance and be open to listening. After all, taking advice from someone more experienced will always help you achieve incredible business results.

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How A Non-Marketing Content Approach Produced Award-Winning Results



How A Non-Marketing Content Approach Produced Award-Winning Results

Matt Hartley is not a marketer.

And yet, he is a 2022 B2C Content Marketer of the Year finalist.

Though seemingly incongruous, it’s not. Companies don’t all approach content (or marketing) with the same organizational structure.

Matt leads editorial strategy for TD Bank Group as a senior manager in the corporate and public affairs department. Under his leadership, TD Stories took home top honors for Best Content Marketing Program in Financial Services and earned finalist mentions for Best Content Marketing Launch and Financial Services Publication in the 2022 Content Marketing Awards.

Those results prove that department, title, and reporting structure don’t matter if the content works.

“We tell stories aligned with (the company’s) communication goals. We’re not necessarily looking to sell something. It is about brand building, thought leadership, financial literacy,” Matt explains.

Here’s how a non-marketer finalist for Content Marketer of the Year built an award-winning program.

If the #Content works, details like reporting structure, title, and department don’t matter, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Launching the newsroom

In 2018, Matt joined TD as a content strategist. He was hired partly because of his background in reporting and creating new content products. Matt had worked as a technology reporter at The Globe and Mail and the National Post. He also created the Financial Post Tech Desk, a home for Canadian and international tech news, and was the founding editor of the Post’s arcade video-game news site.

TD leadership had recognized the shifting media landscape. They saw fewer earned media opportunities and turned to Matt to help scale a TD-owned channel called TD Newsroom.

While TD Newsroom aligned with the external communications goals, it ended up with an internal audience – less than 10% of visitors came to the site from outside the bank.

Turning the content program inside out

TD Newsroom’s importance grew when the pandemic hit in 2020, making some forms of traditional customer outreach impossible. No longer just another tool in the communication toolbox, TD Newsroom became pivotal.

“Creating our own content and being able to distribute it became crucially important to us,” Matt says.

The TD Newsroom team focused on creating branded service journalism (content intended to help customers), and traffic to the site increased substantially. Topics such as banking tasks you can carry out online, budgeting for income impacted by COVID, and planning an emergency fund took center stage.

That was the beginning of the TD Newsroom evolution.

“We were rethinking how we did content and where the customer was in their journey,” Matt says. The team also doubled down on data-driven content and refined its content strategy.

In 2021, TD Stories debuted. “It places the customer at the center of the story. It tells stories that resonate with customers and colleagues,” Matt says.

The site’s tagline – “Enriching lives one story at a time” – reflects this mission.

TD Stories organizes content around five pillars (as shown in the site navigation in the screenshot above):

  • Your Money features financial tips and advice.
  • Innovation highlights new technologies to create more personalized banking experiences.
  • Community features stories about TD’s involvement in the communities where it operates and where its employees live.
  • Colleagues tells the stories of employees.
  • Insights features thought leadership from the bank’s executives.

TD Stories places the customer at the center of the story, says @thehartleyTO of @TDnews_Canada, via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Making everything count

“We’re a small but mighty team within corporate affairs. It’s a flat team – everyone brings ideas to the table. It really wouldn’t work if it wasn’t as cohesive as it is,” Matt says.

The digital content team also functions a little like an agency. In corporate affairs, they work with relationship managers for categories such as personal banking, insurance, US banking, etc., as well as product, partnership, and philanthropic managers.

“We work with them to create the stories. We may pitch to them, asking for a subject matter expert to help us tell a story, etc.,” Matt explains. “We could not exist in a vacuum.”

He oversees a digital content team that includes a data-driven strategy role that has been critical in the TD Stories evolution. That added focus has helped the team in its content development.

For example, the bank’s editorial calendar revolves around repeating deadlines and patterns. Deadlines for retirement plan contributions and income tax returns occur during the same period every year. And each spring, more people begin house hunting.

With TD’s digital content team amping up the content measurement strategy, Matt and team can analyze how well those yearly content pieces perform. They also can better understand what people are searching for, so they can refine and improve the next content iterations.

“We can take those moments and make those moments fresh,” Matt explains. “We can ensure the customer gets the best and most accurate information possible.”

The metrics reflect the team’s dedication to excellence. In 2021, traffic to TD Stories grew more than 125% year-over-year. Almost all the traffic (98%) comes from external sources, including 25% from organic Google searches.

Knowing the real goal

“At the end of the day, the content is not the end goal. The goal is to help educate the customer and help them feel more informed and financially confident. When you keep that in mind, the actual structure of a story or every sentence is a means to an end,” Matt says.

Educating the customer is the goal – story and sentence structure are the means to that end, says @thehartleyTO of @TDnews_Canada via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

That’s part of the secret science of brand journalism. As Matt explains: “Take the objectives of the business and marry them with stories that the customers find engaging and useful.”

And that’s an award-winning formula regardless of department name, title, or organizational structure.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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