Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Marketing and Advertising’

Habits of Highly Effective Networking

For most solo professionals, in-person networking is a significant piece of their ongoing marketing strategy.  Getting out and meeting the right people is often the quickest way to enroll new clients into your program and generate additional revenue.

Though networking can open the door to numerous opportunities, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s one of your favorite activities. I know a fair number of entrepreneurs who dread networking and consider it to be a necessary “evil” of running a business.

Whether you LOVE networking or do it out of sheer necessity, I’m confident you want to enjoy the best possible results at every opportunity. Here are some  Smart, Simple Tips on how to use this strategy effectively to connect with your ideal clients and create opportunities to grow your business:

1. “Fish in the Right Pond” – Don’t attend a networking event just for the sake of doing so. To get the most bang for your buck (and use your time efficiently) make sure you are ONLY attending networking events where your target clients and referral partners are hanging out. Remember, to be extremely successful in business you can’t market to any and everyone. You need to focus your attention on providing specific solutions to your ideal clients. Which means you need to do targeted, focused networking. You’ll enjoy yourself much more, have better conversations and create more opportunities when you’re talking to people who “get” what you do and are already looking for your product or services.

2. Get your head right – Networking isn’t about selling yourself or pitching your services. It’s about making connections with people, getting to know them, finding out what they need and creating opportunities. Be clear about your objectives BEFORE you attend the event so that you “show up” as a friendly, gracious and helpful resource. If you are a person who doesn’t LOVE the experience of networking, adjust your mindset. A lack of confidence and a negative attitude are highly unattractive and will repel others from wanting to connect with you. Instead of dreading the experience, look forward to the opportunity to meet other people and educate others about what you do. Set the intention before you head out the door that you’re going to have a GREAT experience and enjoy yourself!

3. Have reasonable expectations – Don’t attend the event desperate to close new business on the spot. If you do, each person you meet will “sense” it on you and will likely be turned off your approach. Instead, focus on having meaningful conversations with the people you meet and getting to know them so you can follow-up as appropriate.

4. Resist the urge to “work the room” – I know you’ve seen this. There’s always a guy someone at networking events running around the room, almost tossing their business card at every person they pass. Don’t be that person. Take your time. Enjoy meeting various individuals. Allow the conversations you start to develop and end naturally. You’ll feel much more relaxed and have a better experience. Plus you’ll create deeper connections with the people you meet and have a much easier time following up with them after the event. It is far better to have 4-5 fabulous conversations than to run around the room passing out your card to everyone in your path.

Advertisements

Don’t Fool Yourself!

Almost every day, I hear a business owner talking about how they resist or refuse to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter or other popular social media platforms.

And almost everyone of them suggests that social media is just a fad that will pass.

They are in good company.

Movie producer Darryl Zanuck predicted in 1946 that people would get tired of watching a television every night. Variety magazine predicted the death of rock and roll by June, 1955. Time magazine wrote off e-commerce in 1966, decades before it existed.

If you really think social media is not an important part of basic marketing today, you are fooling yourself.

There are tons of resources that will show you how to effectively use social media marketing, no matter what industry you are in. Start learning now. Find out what works and what doesn’t. And, most of all, establish at least a presence on all the popular platforms.

If you don’t have the time to learn it yourself, hire someone to fast-track your learning or handle it for you.

One word of caution: as with anything new, there are suddenly tons of so-called “gurus” out there. Make sure you at least ask around and try to identify the real experts from the charlatans before you spend any money,

Myths About Social Media That Need To Be Put To Rest

Social media gets a lot of attention these days. A lot of people make the choice to use social media for their business thinking that it’s going to bring in a lot of views, customers, subscribers whatever it is that you may want to achieve. The only way that will happen is if you social media the right way. Unfortunately, too many people are disappointed by the results of their social media efforts because they were misled by others to believe in the myths. So once and for all I want to put to rest some of the misguided information that is out there about social media.

Here are a few myths that I think need to be put to rest:

Myth #1 It’s A Great Place To Broadcast

John Maxwell said “People don’t care what you know until they know you care.”  This quote definitely rings true in social media. Everyone wants to be heard and many people are constantly fighting to shout the loudest, but none of that matters because once again it comes back to the listening factor. How do you expect people to care about what you’re saying, if to begin with, you never cared about them? Instead of using social media as a place to broadcast your message about how great your company is and how you have the best product out there a better approach would be to have conversations with people who have the same interest as you, people who you can help and of course you must be willing to provide something of value. That is what attracts people and using this strategy will get you a lot further than trying to be the person who shouts the loudest.

Myth #2 Automation Tools Work

Using an automated tool is not the key to success with social media. Instead automated tools can actually hamper your ability to achieve your goals in social media. The best part about using a social media platform is being able to connect with real people on the other end.  If you choose to use an automated tool to automatically follow people, send them messages or send out the same generic response to everyone, many will find that as very unfavorable and as a result will choose to ignore you because obviously you are not there to listen and only care about your message. Social media is more about having real authentic communication with others and helping people without asking for their business in return.

Myth #3 It’s All About The Numbers

You don’t have to have thousands upon thousands of people following you on the social media platform you choose to have success. It’s more about the engagement that you have with those individuals that will help you reach your goals faster than trying to play the numbers game. You see a lot of people on social media who have 5,000 or 10,000 plus followers and likes, but nobody is paying attention to them. Sure at first this might seem like the way to go because it looks impressive to have that many followers or likes, but it’s more impressive to actually see the amount of people who are actually engaging with you on the social media platforms and seeing the number of people who have actually taken an interest in what you’re saying that matters the most.

Myth #4 Using Social Media When I Have Time Works

Being involved in social media takes time. It cannot be used as something you do when you have free time on your hands. Instead you need to devote time to social media every day or a certain amount of time every week. Simply put, if you do not make the effort to be on that social media platform people will not want to follow you, like you or connect with you. Consistency on the web is always a key to success.

Myth #5 It’s Easy, All I Need Is An Account

Nothing just magically happens, but for some reason a lot of people think that truly happens on the web. That simply all that is needed is to have an account and magically you’ll be rolling in the dough, but that is not so. Having an account is simply the first step. Next you need to identify the goals that you want to achieve with a timeframe in place in which you want to achieve them and identify a few tactics to help you reach those goals in the end.

Myth #6 I Have To Use One Of The Bigger Social Media Websites

No you don’t have to be on Twitter, you don’t have to be on Facebook and you don’t have to be on LinkedIn. However, this is what many people assume when they look to join a social media website. What would be better is to pick the social media website that best fits your strengths. So if you don’t buy into the whole microblogging, kind of texting platform that Twitter has you don’t have to do it. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful simply because you didn’t choose to use one of the bigger social medias that are out there. Maybe instead you’re more of a video person and you decide to use Vimeo or Ustream because it plays more of your strengths, than that’s where you need to be. It will benefit you more in the long run because you will be better at it since it is one of your strengths and as a result you’ll be more motivated to be involved there as well.

Stress Relief from the Social Media World!

Have you found yourself stressed out by maintaining your personal or small business Facebook or Twitter accounts? If so, you’re not alone. Many of the active social media users I know have gone through that feeling at one time.

This is actually a normal feeling. Anthropologist Amber Case talks about this during her presentation at a TedX event in Washington, DC. She compares our collective online profiles to having a “second self”:

“Whether you like it or not, you’re starting to show up online, and people are interacting with your second self when you’re not there. And so you have to be careful about leaving your front line open, which is basically your Facebook wall, so that people don’t write on it in the middle of the night — because it’s very much the equivalent. And suddenly we have to start to maintain our second self. You have to present yourself in digital life in a similar way that you would in your analog life. So, in the same way that you wake up, take a shower and get dressed, you have to learn to do that for your digital self. And the problem is that a lot of people now… have to go through two adolescencies. They have to go through their primary one, that’s already awkward, and then they go through their second self’s adolescence. And that’s even more awkward because there’s an actual history of what they’ve gone through online. And anybody coming in new to technology, is an adolescent online right now. And so it’s very awkward, and it’s very difficult for them to do those things.”

Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help you get this “second self” under control so that it causes you less anxiety:

1.       Use lists – Just like in real life, you likely have some friends in social media that you interact with more than others. Both Twitter and Facebook will allow you to create lists that will help you manage people. I have special lists for different segments of my audience, as well as for those who are close to me.

2.       Hide content – Once you have a sizeable following on Facebook, your newsfeed can get overwhelming. Many people don’t realize that you can hide games or even certain people on their Facebook wall to cut through the noise. Here’s how.

3.       Set limits – One thing that helps some people tremendously is setting specific periods of time to tend to social media interactions. Others have more luck when they set specific times to NOT interact on social media. You can try each approach to see what works best for you.

4.       Know you don’t have to do it all – Some people feel like they need to look at every status update or tweet their friends and followers post. This is unrealistic. Just as you don’t have time to hear what everyone has to say all the time in your regular life, you can’t possibly follow what everyone has to say online. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t keep up with everything,

5.       Ask for help – Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from your social media savvy friends.

Turning Casual Lookers into Real World Fans

As more and more small businesses embrace social media in general and Facebook in particular, getting online “fans” has become yet another item on the “to-do” list. But beware. While fussing over online fans, businesses sometimes forget that making customers fans in the real world should come first.

Turning someone into a fan of your business means more than convincing them to click a link or check a box online.

In order to get customers or clients to become true fans of your business they have to develop a strong emotional connection similar to one you might feel for your favorite sports teams. Success is all in what you offer and how you offer it. You can get others to connect to your company, product or service by passionately delivering whatever you offer.

The passion part is something that can differentiate a small business. Because so few businesses act with real enthusiasm toward customers, when you apply passion to what you do, people take notice. In short, you develop fans!

Here are four essentials for building real world fans:

1. Offer something unique. Whatever you offer customers can’t be merely better; it has to be different. To gain die-hard fans, offer or do something that no one else dares. Consider Buc-ee’s Beaver in Texas. Customers rave about it online; they write glowing blog posts, Facebook items and Yelp reviews about Buc-ee’s.

And all this for a gas station!  Google it and you’re likely to see a quote like “Buc-ee’s is the coolest gas station I know!” So how does a humble gas station earn such kudos? They’re different. For example, they’ve focused on one thing people dread most about gas stations: the bathrooms. Every Buc-ee’s has super clean, over-sized bathrooms, and full-time attendants to keep them in shape.

Think about what people dislike most about your industry, service or product. What solutions can you offer? It’s a great way to differentiate yourself from your competition and create buzz in the process.

2. Create something valuable. This has two parts. First, you need something valuable to say — a message, tip or other piece of information your customers will want to pass along. Now make it easy for them to share that message.  The rule is this:  When it’s really easy for customers to share stories about your brand, they will.

3. Separate features and benefits. Too many small businesses still highlight product or service features rather than the benefits.  Customer aren’t interested in features – they want the benefits those features bring. Benefits are value statements about your product or service, with an emphasis on what’s in it for the customer. For example, “open 24 hours” is a feature. The benefit to customers is knowing you’ll always be open when they need you.

Small businesses routinely point out features and leave it up to customers and prospects to connect the dots and fill in the benefits blanks.  But remember: You’re an expert on your products and services; they aren’t. When you sell features alone, you’re asking the customer to do all the work.

4. Don’t just talk, act. Often, the things you can do to turn your customers into die-hard fans are right under your nose. They’re things you do daily or simply because you want to provide customers with the service they deserve.

Social Media Resolutions to REALLY Consider

Below are eight resolutions I developed with the help of some of my social media friends. They’re more focused on the professional than the personal. Some are things to start doing; others are things to stop doing. See if you agree.

I will be original. Plagiarism has always been a crime, but the Internet has made it much easier to commit. The ease and speed with which we can share things through social media makes it even
more tempting. If you like what other people say, give them their due for having said it first.

I will not “auto” anything. Don’t auto-follow. Don’t auto-DM. Don’t auto-tweet. Don’t do anything that shortcuts the already less-than-personal nature of social media. Give the same consideration to social media you would to a live conversation among friends and peers. Stimulating conversation occurs when people are listening and contributing to the topic of the moment. Nobody likes being on the receiving end of auto-generated messages; why would we think it’s O.K. to send them?

I will unfollow. There is a sense of “blowback” in social media, as people dial back the search for “more” and realize what we’ve known all along—that value comes from genuine relationships, and that a person in your network whom you barely know and never speak to is not a relationship. In that spirit, don’t be afraid to trim back the list of people you follow. Focus more on quality, not quantity, and concentrate on content, not numbers.

I will integrate. Stress to your clients the importance of social media as a crucial tool in an overall communications strategy. Social media constitute neither a fad nor a sidelight. In the coming year we all should look for more ways to integrate social media into our big-picture marketing plans. Many good things can come from exploring the links between offline and online media, social media included. If you respect each tool and use it appropriately in your overall marketing mix (rather than seeing it as another blunt instrument with which to bludgeon someone into a sale—see below), you’ll be a lot happier. And so will your followers.

I will not be a narcissist. Remember the feeling you got back in the day when you heard those three magic words, “You’ve got mail”? It was so exciting to think that somebody cared enough to reach out, even if it did turn out to be a perfunctory notification from your ISP. We all like getting attention, but fishing for it is never a good idea. People who post and tweet incessantly about themselves are no different than those who do so face-to-face—annoying.  Corporations can be the worst offenders in this arena, viewing social media as just another platform on which to make a pitch.  That’s as bad an idea online as it is offline (see The Cocktail Party Test for Advertising).

I will not be a boor. Peering through a computer monitor can be a bit like sitting behind a two-way mirror at a focus group, tempting you to draw conclusions and make wisecracks about people in ways that you never would face-to-face. Being a boor is never a good idea, and the network multiplies the effect of boorish behavior.  The same goes for profanity. Post and tweet only what you would say to someone’s face in polite company. If you can’t do that, zip it.

I will continue to explore. This may seem obvious to social media veterans, but we all have our limits.  You, like me, may have settled into a comfort zone with a handful of social media tools, but we all should resolve to expand. We should listen more than we tweet and connect more with those who think differently.

I will not LOL. Or ROTFL, provide TMI, or say OMG or JK. I know acronyms like these are meant to serve as shorthand to save precious character space, but a cliché is a cliché.  And in the social media world, clichés get tired fast.  Say something original.

Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe

Who is the best customer that I know?

What customer(s) immediately come to mind when you answer this question?

Are they your most profitable?

Do they account for the highest percentage of your income? Are they the easiest to deal with or service? The ones you’ve had the longest?

Do you even know why you think they are the best?

3 Easy Steps to Know Your Customers and Make More Money

You may be tempted to skip down to the last section of this blog post. You know your customers and you’re ready to act! Weren’t you the one who just sold that big account to Widget, Inc. last week? And you know perfectly well that ABC Store was the first client on your books.

What more could there be?

LOTS!

If you don’t know which client is the most profitable, how can you duplicate your success?

If you don’t know that you earn a sub-par profit on your biggest client, how will you fix it?

If you don’t know why a client has stayed with you for 10 years, how can you be sure they will stick for the next 10?

Even if all your accounts are happy and profitable today, you can still benefit from this process. Leverage your strengths to grow profitably. Determine the real reasons behind your customer loyalty – it may surprise you.

Step 1 – Create a Comprehensive Customer List

The optimal list would include all your customers. At a minimum include the clients that account for 80% of your annual revenue. I would encourage you to create the list in Excel rather than Word in order to make the analysis as painless as possible.

Your Client List Should Include:

  1. Client (Company) Name
  2. Main Contact at Client (optional if you are willing to cross-reference later)
  3. Customer Address (optional if you are willing to cross-reference later)
  4. Year they became a customer
  5. Annual revenues you receive from them
  6. Variable Expenses – Includes commissions, cost of goods sold, and any other cost incurred only if a sale occurs.
  7. General Expenses – Often called Overhead or Operating Expenses. These expenses are the same whether you have 5 or 5,000 customers. Include the amount allocated to this client.

This may seem like a great deal of work. Remember that you only need to do it once, keeping it up to date will be easy if done regularly.

Step 2 – Analyze Your Customer List

Ugh, analyze, really? Yup. But its not so bad. I’m going to walk you through some quick and easy ways to analyze your data for maximum results.

Step 3 – Act!

Model Client

Once you’ve determined who are the model clients, you want to replicate that success.

First look at the client – their size, industry, their target market, and any other identifying characteristics.  Where is the best place to find more of that type?  Now consider what did they buy? What were their price points?  Use that information to selectively target your marketing and sales efforts.

Client Rehabilitation

What if you discovered this client is making you little or no money? Is it because you offered them a big discount to win the business? Are they a long standing client for whom you just won’t raise prices? Or were you shocked to discover how little you make off this account?

Once you determine how it happened, you need to put in place some sort of firewall to be sure it doesn’t happen again on this account or any other.

Longest Client

Talk to them.  Yes it’s that simple.  Extend an out of the blue thank you to them, indicating how much you appreciate their patronage through the years.  Ask them what is the main reason they have stayed with you. Revolutionary I know, but have you ever done it before?