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MY 2020 – A SPECIAL YEAR IN REVIEW

For me, this week between Christmas and New Year always has some magic and feels like I have time to breathing deeply and resting a little bit. It’s the perfect time to reflect on the passing year, to think about all the things that have happened, and to prepare for the coming new year.

This blog article is named MY 2020 – a special year in review and I don’t want to notice and mention only the good things. Writing this article has helped me to look back on the last about 365 days and to find the things that brought joy, scarcity, growth, change, and sad, but also surprising moments. Thanks to Judith Peters @sympatexter for that inspiration

My motto for 2020 has been Change & Focus. So let’s dive in and find out whether I could keep my motto throughout the year or not.

My Marketing plans for 2020

When 2020 started I had an amazing marketing strategy in my pocket and the first blog articles and posts were ready to go online.  My motto for 2020 was nailed down: Change & Focus, my motivation was high.

I was ready to rock the year!

Usually, I start in October to plan my marketing for the following year. That does not mean that I finish the whole plan in October, but I start making some research about my market, I brainstorm what my prospects may need and I talk to some of my students to get some input. And then it’s time to start with really very basic planning. The first thing I do is: I always mark all kinds of holidays and celebration days in my calendar.

My next step is, to get clear about the months of launches. That means that I define quite early the date when my 12 weeks marketing program should start again. This is my signature program at the moment. For 2020 I’ve planned some changes: I want to add some modules and to make it a 6-months program. All around this “big” program I wanted to launch some smaller products, such as “How-to-guides” and mini-courses.

To create my marketing plan for a whole year is not done in a few days. It is always a process and the plan can change several times. But by the end of December, I know exactly how my business year will look like, what my budget is and what I want to achieve in that upcoming year. I have my monthly topics, my launch dates, and for the first quarter, I have defined my marketing topics for each week and day. 

This is my proven marketing roadmap and I work this way since I started being my own boss more than 11 years ago. And this is exactly the roadmap I teach to my students.

But 2020 changed everything! I don’t want to find excuses why I couldn’t stick to my plan the whole year, but sometimes things happen in your life that are impossible to anticipate. 

Why I switched my business to the English language

I remember last year in the first days of  January 2019 I was sitting on my sofa and I knew, I had to change something in my life! After 5 years of running a  Home Staging business, I was really tired. Tired of that physical work that comes along with this job – even if I had some students to help to carry all that deco and a moving company for transports. I was thinking about closing my Home Staging business for a while, selling all my warehouse stuff, and starting something new.

In my mind, I had a vision of what I wanted to do instead and I had a mission: I wanted to help entrepreneurs in the Home Industry, such as Home Stagers and Interior Designers to build a successful business and establish Home Staging in Germany. 

I knew that Home Stagers and Interior Designers, who all create incredible beautiful projects, most of them are hustling with acquisition and getting new clients – to name it and claim it: with marketing & sales. 

I have been in Marketing, Visual Marketing, and Sales for over 30 years and my heart burns for it!

So sitting on my sofa, I made a plan for the whole year 2020 and I started STYLIFICENT ( Style & Magnificent) with some free webinars and workshops for Home Pro’s in the German market.

The feedback was unbelievable and I had never thought that it would be such a great start. By end of December 2019, I had so many requests from other European Home Pro’s asking if I can offer my content, my webinars and workshops, and my knowledge in English too. 

But doing all the content twice was not an option for me.

This year in February 2020 I switched everything into English! I changed the language on my Website and on all my social profiles. 

And guess what: it was the best decision ever! 

And I’m so thankful for all that feedback that I get from my worldwide students. This is motivating me so much to move on and offer my support and help. And I know, that what I do is even more important now because….along came Corona.

Along came Corona

When Corona came along me and my students were just in the last week of my 12 weeks marketing & sales coaching program

And one of our great topics has been the acquisition process, sales communication, and how to win new clients at all. As a Home Stager or Interior designer, you build a very personal relationship of trust with your clients through direct communication. As a Home pro, you meet with your prospects in person to discuss your drafts, mood boards, and ideas for a project.

It is not an Online Business at all!

When we first heard about Corona, for us it was an exotic virus somewhere over in China, so what? But then we had the first infections here in Germany.

And then the 1. lockdown has changed everything for my students and me. It took a little while until we all realized the dimension of what’s happening right now and HOW much this 1rst lockdown would affect our businesses. 

In my program, I taught a system of 80% offline and 20% online marketing and the 7 steps of how a perfect sales communication works to come to a sales result.

Now I had to realize that this wouldn’t work in a lockdown.

My program normally had ended, but I didn’t want my students to leave them standing in the rain.

And as a natural-born optimist, I decided to find a solution and a way to help and motivate my students. I created a 5-day workshop and invited them to learn how to make a zoom meeting with a potential client, how to connect with an agent and build an online acquisition process with a digital product, how to create this digital product and how to overcome technical issues.

A few workshops later they were ready for the “new normal” in business and had a new Marketing strategy in place – a mix of Offline & Online Marketing but now it was 20% offline and 80% online marketing!

Why I had to re-structure my signature program before the next launch

In summer, a while after the 1. lockdown was over my students and I had a meeting – my virtual “coffee bar meet & greet” – and we talked about their projects since the end of our program and workshops in March. And believe me, I felt so relieved when I saw all those happy faces. Corona has been a challenge for them and they had to learn new skills. But they all have gone through this lockdown with some good projects and without any decrease in their business.

This was such an amazing experience for me and it was my approval to launch my program again in the second part of 2020.

But I also knew I had to make some changes. We are all living in a “new normal” in business. We need to think digital and so I wanted to optimize some units in this direction. I also wanted to split the sales communication part from the marketing planning part. I realized that a program covering sales communication and marketing is too much information for someone who’s new to these topics or has not that much experience, although for me these 2 belong so closely together. 

I also wanted to separate the workshop for creating a digital product from the signature program and launch only this workshop again by the end of the year, because having a digital product is key for reaching out to prospects and I am sure that this will still be the way of doing business in 2021.

Now you may ask yourself: what is a virtual „coffee bar meet & greet“? Here is the secret: we all took a pot of coffee (some had a pot of tea) and we met in a Zoom meeting all together for about 2 hours. Everyone could tell its story and ask questions to the community.

And how about my own business?

As an online entrepreneur corona hasn’t really been challenging for me. I had more projects than before. I have created new workshops and training, some free resources, and some products to give away for a small fee.

And ok, I couldn’t reach some of the goals I’ve set at the beginning of the year. 

I wanted to start a vibrant blog, but I was fully booked with my students and other clients. I’ve created some WordPress websites for some Home Staging colleagues as well, and this also took some time. And I had some private issues that I will talk about later.

So Corona didn’t really harm my business. 

For me, Corona was and still is more a mental thing. In the beginning and even more now in the 2nd lockdown it is still inconceivable for me that a small virus can kick the whole world into a global health crisis. It makes me sad that there are so many humans ignoring what is going on, ignoring how to act and behave in this crisis ( means distance and masks) and we all end up in a second lockdown. 

But I’m always optimistic and meanwhile, I’m relaxed about Corona. For me, the glass is always half full, not half empty 🙂

For 2021 I have some workshops and my re-structured signature program in my calendar and I will definitely bring my blog up and running. 

Farben für dein Interior

When my aunt passed away and what it meant for me and my business

My aunt passed away this summer at the age of 87 due to lung disease and it has ripped me out of life for a while. She really wanted to pass away – it was her plan for about a year. As my aunt and my uncle don’t have kids of their own. I’ve always been the one who was there for them. I live only a few kilometers away, while the other part of our family has to drive at least 2 hours.

The last few years I was there for both of them whenever I could and so I saw the course of her disease. I saw how she lost weight more and more. At the beginning of 2020, she stopped walking around. She got out of her bed in the morning, went to her chair, and was sitting there the whole day long. 

I remember one day in April when I was there, she was not even sitting anymore, she was more or less “hanging” in her chair, only 35kg of weight.

My uncle told me that she refuses any kind of food except for 2 – 3 spoons of soup a day.

We tried to convince her to eat and drink, but she had decided to leave this world and we had to promise her that we would not – in no case – call a doctor, who would bring her to a hospital. She was afraid that in a hospital they would do everything for her recovery and she would have to live with her disease even longer. 

For me, this was such an emotional carousel. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. My business stuck completely. I felt responsible to help and bring her to the hospital and on the other side, I could understand so deeply why she wanted to leave. But can you imagine that quandary I was in?

Two days later my uncle called me early in the morning to tell me that she doesn’t want to get out of her bed anymore, that her bed is wet and he was totally distressed.

From this day on I was there every day. I changed her underwear and cleaned up her bed and I did a job of care stuff without even knowing how to do this. But somehow I could manage. 

My aunt was so thankful and took my hand. She was not afraid to die, it was her biggest wish. She was only afraid to leave my uncle behind and I had to promise her to take care of him. These have been her last words. A few days later she passed away.

To be so close to someone who’s about to leave this world more or less in your arms was such a shattering experience for me and it has ripped me out of life for a while. I will never forget these pictures of a tiny, very old woman, only skin and bones lying in her bed, unable to speak anymore.

But it has changed my point of view in many ways. All the daily issues, sorrows, or problems seem so ridiculous now.  I needed a break in my business. I had lost my focus over the last weeks with my aunt. And I needed to find it again, to find my message and my mission again.

My Uncle has been at her side day and night and I think this is an incredible proof of love. They were married for over 60 years. I don’t know if I would be able to do this and I also don’t know if I even want someone doing this for me.

Our high school schoolmates re-union "40 years later"

When you have spent so many hours planning an event like my schoolmate Wolfgang did it is really sad and frustrating when you have to cancel it due to a pandemic. 

Our high school graduation is 40 years ago this year and Wolfgang called me one day, asking me if I’m interested in helping him organize a “4o years later” event in our hometown. My Father is still living there and I still have some contact with former schoolmates. I was excited and for sure I wanted to help him. So we organized the first meeting there with 5 of our schoolmates. It was so amazing to see at least those 5 again after 40 years. Can you imagine?

We discussed the program for that day and how long this event should be for 1 day or 2 days. We talked about whom we already know who wants to join the event, whom we still have to contact because either Wolfgang or I could reach out to 2 or 3 people. 

After this first amazing meeting, Wolfgang and I had an appointment with a restaurant owner in our old castle in the middle of the town. We had checked this out in advance and it was our most preferred location.

We talked to a hotel nearby to block some rooms at a special price and we tried to organize as much as possible at this stage in time. This was at the beginning of March. We all thought Corona would be over by October. 

But we had to face reality: in May Corona was still so present and we still had so many restrictions. Although we had no hard lockdown anymore the idea of being in a room with about 55 people keeping a distance of 1,5 mt, which was not possible in the room we had booked, was not what we wanted for that special event.

End of June we canceled our event and postponed it to an unknown date. Nobody knows whether we can come together in 2021.

Along came Matti (Matteo) #spreadlovenocorona #showeroflove

Beginning of July 2020 my good friends Thorsten and Vera invited me for a barbecue and said that they had some exciting good news. I thought, ok: their second grandchild may be there.

You have to know that they are former neighbors and they live only 15 km away. We haven’t seen each other very often in the last few years but were always in contact via Facebook and WhatsApp. 

I was really surprised by this invitation and happy to see them again. 

They have 2 dogs that welcomed me when I rang their bell. It was a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon and we went into the garden. There I saw the “exciting good news” – 6 baby pets were running and playing there. 

To tell you the truth: this is nothing for my big wide dog-loving heart.

In November 2019 my good old boy Luciano, a Bearded Collie passed away at the age of about 15 years. And I still have my little girl Carlotta. She is also a Bearded Collie and is 13,5 years old now. She’s my absolute soulmate and I’m thankful for every single day I have her at my side.

Since Luciano passed away I often thought about having a second dog again.

This moment when I came into the garden of my friend with these little puppies there changed it all for me. A cute little boy came to me and caught my heart immediately. He was the only multicolored puppy and has one blue and one brown eye. 

3 weeks later this little boy, whose name is Matteo now, moved into my home, my life, and Carlotta’s life. 

Now in December, he is 7 months old and he has already learned a lot. IT IS REAL WORK to do some training with him all alone because the dog school is closed (Corona). Sometimes I am really exhausted.

But looking back we had a great, joyful, and sometimes really tough journey. 

He is not my first pet at all. I had 5 dogs before and all of them came to me at the age of 8 weeks, just like him. But they were all Bearded Collies, which are so easy to educate.

Matteo is a quite new German race, a “Wäller”, a mix of Australian Shepard and Briard. I hope that my journey with my cute little boy will be a long one.

Matti 8 weeks old – exploring the big pool

Matti 4 months old – totally relaxed on my bed

Carlotta, my pretty little girl is 13,5 years old

My Motto for 2021 and first Marketing plannings

In the first part of this article, I mentioned that I normally start in October planning my marketing activities for the coming year and I normally start with adding all holidays to my calendar. 

This time I started with my motto 2021, which was clear for me for several weeks.

And here it comes to the goals I’ve set for myself this year. Due to some private circumstances – and I am telling here only a few – I have postponed all my launches I’ve planned for the second part of this year.

It is not that I didn’t have these products in place. The reason is that I couldn’t manage to prepare the launches, to build the Email list, to show up on Social regularly. And I am too much a perfectionist to just take what I have and launch without a plan. That’s not me and that doesn’t feel right for me. 

My Mentor Martin Meitza is a big help for me to go ahead and he is always patient and says: “better done than perfect”.

So for the next year, my motto will be: Showtime: action & continuity & get things done

What is waiting for me in 2021 - a look ahead

#1     I did it! I’m a member of  THE CONTENT SOCIETY the 12 months program from Judith Peters @sympatexter

#2     Develop my online business with my mentor Martin Meitza

#3     My 5-day workshop will be launched in the first quarter of the year

#4     My Signature Program will start again in the second part of the year

#5     Content, Content, Content I will create content regularly and show up on my social media channels

#6     Finally: Focus on my motto: Showtime – action & continuity & getting things done

Thanks a lot for reading!

I’m so excited, that you have spent your valuable time here to read this blog post.

All the best to you

XO Iris

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