Tag Archives: Business strategy

3 Reasons Why Social Media MUST Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Social media is all the rage these days, yet many business owners struggle to understand why they should bother to jump on the bandwagon.  They are mystified about how to monetize their social media efforts.

Here are 3 reasons you can’t afford to miss this online ‘boat’ plus 3 simple things you can do to capitalize on this ‘Brave New World’.

1.  Print media is dying and with it, print ads.
Even when it worked, advertising was primarily useful only for building brand awareness. Unless someone sees your ad at the moment they’re thinking of buying something or you have a killer sale going on, it’s likely that it won’t generate a sale for you.

2.  Email marketing is dying – fast!

People are inundated with email these days.  Many people receive over 100 per day, so the chances that yours will get read are really slim. If you don’t know the right techniques, your messages may never be seen.

3.  Networking only works if you follow up quickly and most people don’t.
Actual face time is critical for building relationships and credibility.  Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to do that properly. So they smile, chit chat, shake a lot of hands, exchange a bunch of cards and that’s where the story ends.

So what’s a business owner to do?
1. Shift your print advertising budget to online media.
Facebook ads are effective, inexpensive and highly targetable toward your ideal prospect profile.

2. Connect online where your ‘peeps’ are hanging out.  Add value, build relationships.  Share enough about yourself that people can get to know (and like) you.   Make sure you have an account and profile on LinkeIn, Facebook and Twitter.  Start a blog and make short, relevant comments on it regularly.

3. Attend networking events with a plan for the kind of people (industries, professions, etc.) that you want to meet.  Ask other attendees if they will introduce you to them. Make a commitment to follow up with a few key people you meet at networking events, not to sell them right away, but to get to know them better to see if there really is a match for what you each do.

It’s simple to get started in social media. Make sure you have a strategy of who you’re trying to connect with and how you want to be known in those communities.  You’re building a new reputation in a new world. Do it thoughtfully.  Once you’re ‘in’, continually refine your efforts.  Draw people into your lair by giving then once trust is built, make them offers they can’t refuse.

How to Position Yourself for the Economic Recovery in 3 Simple Steps

The economy is showing signs of recovering.  It may be a slow rebound but there are things you MUST be doing now to make sure you participate in the recovery when it comes.

I talk to many business owners who are either hunkered down themselves waiting for the economic ‘storm’ to blow over or they’re trying to sell their products or services to those who are hunkered down.  Either way, not much is happening in the small business world.  Even the executives I speak to in corporations are still being a bit cautious about the investments they’re making in people, products and services.

1. Improve systems

Now is the time to make sure your internal engine is running properly.  Evaluate your sales, production, service delivery and administrative processes.  Determine how well they are functioning.  Do this even if you are the only person in your ‘company’. Ask yourself and your team if you have one where breakdowns happen. Who’s not getting the info they need?  What’s taking too long to happen?  What can be automated or streamlined? What needs to be documented so others can carry out the task when a transition occurs?

I helped one of my clients and his team eliminate the breakdowns between the office and field functions.  Right after that, his business exploded.  While we didn’t work directly on sales, he confided to me that if we hadn’t fixed his process breakdowns, they would have not been able to handle the onslaught of work and would have looked like “complete idiots”.  Save yourself from that potential business-killing embarrassment.

Improving systems improves your profitability.

2. Improve you

When you’re trimming expenses, it’s tempting to cut training.  Large and small companies often make the mistake of eliminating training when budgets are tight because the ROI on training seems slower and in some cases, hard to measure.  Yet, It’s during times of trouble that you MUST make sure everyone is functioning at their optimal level…including you!

You and your staff are your company’s most valuable possession. You might have some trademarked or patented processes. But even still, you and your people are carrying them out. No people or ineffective people, no profits.

Times are changing.  Even when the economy recovers, nothing will be quite the same again.  Make sure you and your team are mentally ready with the skills and attitudes that will carry you through the next iteration of the global economy. Invest now and position yourself to trounce the competition.

3. Improve sales

When you do the first two things, it’s likely that your sales will increase on their own.  However, here are a few tips for increasing sales even more.  Get feedback from clients about what you’re offering them and they need now.  Make sure you’ve adjusted to the current environment.  Consider flexible payment terms.  Cater to a different (hungrier or higher-income) crowd. Offer new products, programs and services. Talk to more people.  If you’re not having a number of sales conversations every day, you’re leaving money on the table.

Focusing on these three simple steps will help position you well for the recovery. Don’t sit around moping.  I’m sure you heard the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” when you were growing up.  Implementing these steps is one way you can help yourself. Get to work!

Do You Relate to Your Business Like It’s a Slot Machine? 5 Steps for Increased Sales, Revenue & Profits

Having spent the weekend in Las Vegas, I had a chance to engage in one of my favorite forms of Las Vegas entertainment, playing the penny and quarter slot machines.

I just about doubled my modest $25 ‘investment’ and kept myself thoroughly entertained for a couple of hours. By Las Vegas standards, that was a good ROI.

It got me wondering about the allure of slot machines.  I think it has to do with the suspense of the ‘hunt’ and the thrill of the win. It’s a similar dynamic.

“How do I find my best prospects?”


“What does it take to win them over?”

If you treat your business like it’s a slot machine though, you could be suffering from some serious problems.slotmachine6

1. Feeling like you’re not in control
2. Trying lots of strategies but unsure which ones will really work
3. Worried about if and when your big payout is going to happen

Here are 5 ways to win at business and improve your sales, revenue and profitability.

1. Focus on your core strengths

Many people suffer from the I-have-lots-of-strengths-interests-and-abilities syndrome.  I grapple with this one sometimes myself.  You may find that you’re afraid to focus because you’re worried you’ll be leaving dollars on the table.

Actually, the opposite is true.  The more you focus, the easier it is for people who need you to find you.  So define what you do best and organize your business around that.

2. Know who you best serve

Similarly, many of my clients are reluctant to select a target market thinking that they’ll make less money if they don’t do everything all of the prospects in the world need.  Again, not true. Trying to serve to many people will keep you scattered, spreading your efforts too thin.

It’s easier to find specific groups of people and it’s easier to market and sell to them because you can say all of the right things that will grab their attention.

3. Listen to your clients & prospects

In order to grab their attention, you have to be speaking their language and this requires that you know what they’re talking about.  A lot of business owners make the mistake of creating products and services JUST because they’re good at it without knowing if the market is at all interested.

4. Understand their pain

When you listen deeply to your prospects and clients, you can learn what keeps them up at night.

You’ll get a visceral experience of how they’re suffering and where you can help.  You can better empathize with them and show your concern for their situation in a more authentic way.

5. Offer solutions to conquer their pain

Once you know the things you excel in, who most needs you and what their problems are, you’ll be able to offer them the perfect antidote to their dilemma and they will thank you for it while eagerly snapping up your products and services.

When you follow these 5 steps, you’ll be more strategic about your business, you’ll stop dropping coins in any random slot machine and your payout of more and bigger sales will just happen naturally.

Why Big Companies Don’t Do Business with You: 7 Steps for Fixing That

This article was contributed by Barbara Weaver Smith, The Whale Hunters

The Whale Hunters like to talk about the “aperture of perception” – that lens through which you focus your prospects’ attention and govern what they see and experience.

Everything that touches the whale (big company prospects) contributes to the buyers’ overall perception of you-for example:

* Telephone answering
* Website
* Location
* Communications
* Print materials and proposals
* D&B profile
* Testimonials

Whales are afraid of smaller companies; they feel safer with other big companies, like themselves. Yet they want the advantages that a small company can offer-undivided attention, innovation, agility, speed of decision-making. Trouble is, they won’t buy advantage when they’re fearful. So the key is to allay their fears by controlling the aperture of perception. Show them many signs that look like, sound like, and feel like “large.”

Here are seven steps to looking larger:

1. Brand

Brand your product or service, not your key person or people. The founding entrepreneur often starts our selling, delivering, and managing-especially in a professional services company. The sooner you can shift the customer’s focus from an individual to a service brand, the faster you will be able to grow and the larger you will appear.

2. Team

Even whales may have bios of their leadership team on the website. But these are professional and objective. On your website and in your literature, eliminate any references to hobbies, pets, and other folksy traits; use uniform head-shot or business casual photos

3. Location

If you are based in a small city or town and want to do business with big-city whales in other states, establish a big city presence in one or more of your target areas. This can be as simple as a virtual location through an executive center or other shared office space arrangement. A professional receptionist, find-me phone service, and local address will send the message.

4. Website

Make your website all about the buyers, not you about you. Who are you trying to attract and what will they be looking for? Some good whale websites are organized according to the size of the customer who is visiting – i.e. consumer services, small business services, enterprise services. Consider how your this kind of distinction could help your website achieve the right tone for both whales and non-whale customers.

5. Niche

Be careful how you present your niche in digital and print materials. WBE/MBE designations are a good example. They position you as a subcontractor and/or a company competing for set-aside projects. If that is the position you intend to occupy, then go for it. But if you also want to be a prime contractor and compete on an equal footing with bigger companies, you will find it extremely difficult to change a whale’s mindset about that pigeonhole in which they’ve placed you. In fact, it could be a reason to have completely separate divisions or companies, one marketed as a WBE/MBE and the other not.

6. Media/News Page

Write a press release each time you sign a new customer, receive an award, achieve a revenue milestone, appoint a new employee or give a raise. Post the releases on your website and maintain a news page with links to each. These press releases have little news value except to you, but they send a message that you are a company that sees itself as newsworthy. On your media page, offer contact information for how media people should reach your PR team-even if that is through your primary phone number and a PR@yourcompany.com email address.

7. Product/Service White Papers

Invest in preparing white papers to supplement your marketing copy. A white paper is a report that makes a business case or explains technical details. It places your products/services in a broader business and technical context. Promote these as free downloads on your website and include them as appropriate during a sale. The white paper is not primarily about your product or service but about what it helps the buyer to accomplish and /or how it works. Consider including industry white papers, written by others, on your website to help educate your prospects.

Beating Out the Competition & Becoming a Client Magnet

Believe it or not, there’s a bird over there, cleverly disguised against the desert terrain.

The photo is a little fuzzy because I was zooming fast to capture this quail (I think). He beat out his competition for the female that is nearby but off screen.

Right before I snapped this picture, there were two male birds challenging each other and trying to win the attention of the nearby female bird.

She walked away while they ‘duked’ it out. When the ‘hero’ emerged and I captured him on digital film, he was following her up the hill for a little fun and merriment and family making.

So what does this have to do with you?

Few of us are in businesses that are so unique that we don’t have any competition.  So as a result, we’re constantly having to distinguish ourselves as different, better than, smarter than, more prestigious than, cheaper than…You get the picture.  It’s a primitive battle where only the strongest survive. And it’s really hard getting deals done like that.

The key is to position yourself as the go-to expert so that your reputation raises your above the herd.  When you do that, you get people seeking you out.  When they seek you out, they’re already pre-sold on you.  They’ve already decided they want YOU so there is less need for you to ‘convince’ them that you’re the best choice. You become a client magnet!

So how do you become that expert & client magnet?  There are 3 ways to do that.

  1. Speaking – Most people are literally scared to death of speaking in public.  You’ve probably heard that when surveyed, people rate speaking in public ahead of dying as their top fear.  So if you have the guts to stand up in front of a crowd (even a small one) and have your voice be heard, automatically, you’re a rock star in the eyes of the audience.  Even if you’re quaking in your boots on the inside, you’ve still accomplished a mighty feat from their perspective.
  2. Writing – Whether writing articles for a national publication or your local neighborhood periodical, having your name in print makes you look smart!  Clearly the national publication will get you seen by WAY more people, but you’ll get credibility none-the-less with the readers of your work
  3. Publicity – Being written about is even more compelling. That third party endorsement goes a long way toward building credibility.  When someone with familiarity, name recognition and credibility (like a report) writes about you, their importance and credibility transfers over to you.  It’s like having someone make a referral introduction for you.

I’ve been using all three of these strategies for years and now I get to reap the benefits of them.  Whereever I go, people tell me “I see you everywhere!”

Can you imagine how great (and humbled) that makes me feel?  Can you imagine if people were saying that about you, that you wouldn’t have to work so hard to dredge up new clients? You betcha!  So start using these three magic strategies to raise your visibility, credibility and client-magnet quotient.