Tag Archive: marketing strategy

Steps in Getting Your Company Set Up for Networking

Steps in Getting Your Company Set Up for NetworkingSteps in Getting Your Company Set Up for Networking

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, feel like you have the gift of gab or just don’t know how to make small talk, networking know-how is very important for your business success. There is a notion in business that I believe most of us subscribe to that says “all things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those they know, like and trust.” And the key to this is obviously being able to develop relationships.

Think of networking as the cultivation of mutually beneficial, win-win relationships. In order to be win-win, there must be GIVE and take (notice the emphasis on give). Networking shouldn’t be viewed as “events” where you go to sell your business. When effective networking is taking place, the parties involved actively share ideas, information, resources, etc.

Ok, so you know that you should be networking because it is one of the most cost-effective lead generation activities when used wisely, appropriately and professionally. But, maybe that seems easier said than done. Here’s a seven step plan to really get going with networking for your business.

1. Check out several groups to find the best chemistry and perceived value. Most groups will allow you to come and visit at least a couple of times before you have to join. Go and ask around to find out why others have joined and what value they get out of belonging.

Resist the urge to just go join the Chamber of Commerce simply because everyone tells you that’s what you need to do. If that’s not where your target group can be found, then you might just be wasting a considerable amount of time (and money).

I’m not telling you not to join the Chamber. Just be clear about what you’d like to get out of this or any other group. If it’s to find prospective clients or referral sources, then you need to be networking where those resources can be found.

2. When you find a group or two, join and go to all the meetings you can. Don’t go just once or twice expecting things to happen and then if they don’t quit. Building mutually beneficial, win-win relationships will take some time.

The contacts you make need to constantly see your face and hear your message. Continual contact with others over time will open up opportunities for you to go deeper and learn more about each others thoughts, ideas and capabilities in regards to your respective businesses.

Know, like, and trust generally only happens over time. Being regular and persistent will pay off.

3. Get involved – be visible. Do as much as you can to make yourself more visible within the organization. Volunteer to help with meetings, be on committees, or become a leader or board member.

Being involved does a couple of things for you and your business. First, you’ll get more opportunities to establish connections and get to know some of the contacts you’ve made even better. Secondly, the higher the visibility you have in the group, the less you’ll have to work to make new connections. Instead, as new people come into the group, they will likely seek you out because they view you as a leader within the organization.

4. Keep your circles of contacts informed. Don’t just assume that running in to someone once a month (or even once a week) will cause them to start doing business with you or sending it your way. You need to let them know what’s going on when you’re not at that particular group in order to inform and educate them.

Send them invitations to your events or open houses. Send them email or letters to share big news or success stories, especially anything of relevance to them or those in their networks of contacts. If you believe that you have valuable ideas, information and resources to share with others, then doesn’t this just make sense?

5. Work at GIVING referrals and sharing valuable information. That’s right, you need to be willing to GIVE before you get. That means you need to get to know other members and what makes a good prospect for them. What kinds of information might you have access to that could be useful to them?

You may initially think you don’t have much of value to share with others (besides your business and what you provide). Part of the key to getting good at giving is to not make assumptions. For example, don’t assume that some basic resource (e.g., a web site) that you’re aware of is familiar to someone you might be talking to just because they are the “expert” in that field. Be willing to ask if they know about the resource and ready to share if they don’t.

Want to get better at actually giving referrals? Here’s a simple question to ask someone you’re connecting with. “How am I going to know when I meet a really good prospect for you?”

Just the fact that you are willing to explore giving will elevate your know, like and trust factor.

6. Focus on Quality, not Quantity, Quantity, Quantity. It’s not necessarily about the number of connections you make, but about the quality of the ones you do make. Are they mutually beneficial, win-win relationships?

Quality connections will be identifiable because all involved parties will be actively sharing ideas, information, and resources. Yes, it is true that you need to spend some time and effort getting to know the other person(s) and what’s important to them. But, you also need to be clear and actively thinking about what information or resources you want and need.

Staying in touch with and following up with a smaller number of quality relationships will generally be much more productive than trying to follow up with a larger number of superficial contacts.

7. Be persistent, but be patient. The goal of a networking event shouldn’t necessarily be to come away with prospects every time you go out, but to come away with great connections. Networking usually takes time to get the relationships developed and nurtured.

Don’t approach networking as a scary proposition or a necessary evil for being in business. Take the pressure off yourself and really focus on how you might be able to connect with someone you meet. Focus on them first and look for ways to be useful to them. As you become known as a connector you’ll eventually be ready to reap what you sow.

Tighten Up Your 30-Second Introduction

Tighten Up Your 30-Second Introduction

I went to a networking event the other day where the meeting leader said, “We’re going to skip doing the 30-second introductions today because mine’s so bad and it doesn’t work that it nauseates me.” I thought to myself, WOW! I’d skip the next networking meeting until I’d worked out a new introduction.

Do you get attention with your introduction? Are you prepared to introduce yourself at your next networking event or for when someone ask, “What do you do?” Consider these tips for developing an attention getting introduction.

1. Start With The First 10 Seconds. What if 10 seconds is all you get? Does your first sentence tell your listener enough so they understand what you do and inspire them to want to know more? Here’s the simple, but effective approach. “I work with [type of clients] who have [these types of problems, issues or challenges].” That’s it. Don’t try to sugar it up or make it real catchy.

2. Avoid the What You Are Approach. “I’m an accountant” or “I’m a marketing consultant” or “I’m a financial planner” or “I’m a growth coach”. You’ve heard them time and again. You’ve probably even done it yourself. The problem is your listener(s) may not understand what the title means or even worse they may fill in an incorrect definition.

3. Avoid the What You Do Approach. “I do small business accounting including sales tax and payroll” or “I provide business owners with mentoring and training in comprehensive strategies to improve bottom line results…” Tends to be boring and doesn’t help the listener(s) understand what they get as a result.

4. Say How You Solved a Problem or Served a Client. Reinforce your first 10 second sentence with a second sentence that shows how you solved a problem or overcame a particular issue or challenge. “I help mid-sized accounting firms plan big conferences on a small budget. I just recently lined up free live entertainment for a firm that hosted 500 people in town last week.”

5. Tell Them Why You Are Unique. What makes you stand out from the crowd? Maybe it’s a unique model or approach for better results, focus on a specific niche, a guarantee, or extras that others don’t provide. There are many ways to define your uniqueness that will help gain attention and make you memorable.

Make your introduction an attention getter. Start with the first 10 seconds. You can always build from there once it starts getting attention. Actually write it down and practice out loud several times until you can just say it naturally.

Getting More Results from Your Marketing

 Getting More Results from Your Marketing

The moment I decided to specialize as a direct response copywriter (which means you get a response directly from the marketing materials, there’s no middle person involved, like a sales rep) I knew there would be one thing that would determine if I would be eating steak or eating mac and cheese.

And what’s the one thing? The results I got for my clients.

Therefore, improving results became a pretty big focus of mine. You might even call it a passion. (Some people who aren’t nearly as nice have called it in an obsession.)

Regardless, here are 5 tips that can help you improve the conversions of your marketing materials.

1. Know who you’re talking to. If I hear anyone say “women are my potential customers” or “anyone with skin is my target market” (yes, that really was a direct quote from someone who sold Mary Kay or Arbonne or something like that) I will send my border collies (all 3 of them) to your house and force you to play fetch with them until your arm falls off. Seriously, the quickest way you can end up with the most dismal results imaginable is to try and talk to everyone. Come up with a specific customer — the more specific the better — and make sure your marketing materials speak directly to that customer.

2. Make sure you write benefits, not features. This one is probably the hardest one to “get” but also one of the most critical. People buy benefits, not features, so if you only talk about features you’re just asking for people not to buy what you’re selling.

So what is the difference between features and benefits? Features are a description of a product — for instance, if we’re talking about a diet pill, a feature would that the product is a pill. A benefit would be the solution the product provides — in this case, losing weight.

As much as you possibly can, write about why someone should buy your product. No one buys diet pills because they like taking pills, they buy them to lose weight. Think of the solution your product or service provides and write about that.

3. Work on that headline. David Ogilvy, famous ad man and author of Confessions of an Advertising Man, has said that people make the decision to read your marketing materials based your headline.

Your headline should: a. speak to your potential customers, b. contain a benefit, c. be so compelling your target market is compelled to read further. That’s a lot to ask for from basically a handful of words. So don’t rush the process — take as much time as you need to create the very best headline for your particular piece.

4. Don’t forget the call to action. You’ve got to tell people what to do next. If you don’t tell them what you want them to do, chances are they won’t do anything.

Don’t assume your potential customers know what you want them to do. They don’t. They can’t read your mind. Nor do they want to. They’re busy people. They don’t have the time or the energy to figure things out. Tell them what to do next, or don’t be surprised when they don’t do anything.

5. Use P.S.’s or captions. Postscripts (P.S.) are the second most read item in a sales piece. What’s the third? Captions. (The copy under photos, diagrams or other illustrations.) Now that you know that, think of the ways you can use either or both of those items in your pieces. Maybe you put a special offer in there or you highlight a particularly compelling benefit. Or you tell them again what you want their next step to be. Whatever you do, don’t waste that space.

If you even do just one of these tips, you should start seeing better results. Work on all five and you might be amazed at how much your results improve.

The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 2 Of 2

The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 2 Of 2

The Secrets Of StrategyThe Secrets Of Strategy – Part 2 Of 2. Of course you’ve heard that when you do what you’ve always done, you’ll likely get what you’ve always got. In this case that means playing the tactical game: coming up with acceptable–or worse–comfortable options and executing them as time permits. Likely, what you’ll get is business as usual, and things will be… well, they’ll be fine.

But “fine” may not be what you’re after, and you are probably reading a series called “How to Create Strategies That Work” so you can do better — perhaps much better…

And if you are willing to take some time and do your homework: the research, inquiry, analysis, synthesis, and the activation of strategy — you can add dramatically more power to each one of your individual tactics, and potentially revolutionize your entire business.The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 2 Of 2.

In the beginning of this series I showed you how to start the process of selecting a market-dominating business and marketing strategy.

The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 2 Of 2: The first four steps are:

– Set your vision

– Gather environmental and competitive intelligence

– Take stock of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses

– Answer the Global Strategy Question

I covered those in The Secrets of Strategy, Part 1. In this article I’m going to cover the next four steps:

– Establish decisive objectives

– Rate and rank your “SWOTs”

– Match your internal and external factors to identify strategic alternatives

– Select the highest-impact strategies for implementation

Establish Decisive Objectives

Strategy is contextual. This means you should not make any kind of strategic decision–choosing strategy A over Strategy B, for instance — without first setting a context with Decisive Objectives.

The word decisive is from the Latin decidere, which means to cut off. Decisive objectives are the goals that cut off irrelevant business opportunities and distracting details. They define the boundaries of your company’s efforts and direction, and establish the measures by which you will gauge your success. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 2 Of 2.

This step is to select company-defining goals, the attainment of which will mean your vision has started to become a reality. These objectives or goals should relate to the following:

In what markets will you do business?

What market share will you have? Will you be a marginal player with a small percentage, a big player with a significant portion of the market, or will you dominate your market and crush all competition?

Where will you operate geographically? This question ties back to the issue of market share; you might dominate the market locally but be a small player nationally.

How much revenue and profit will you earn? Larger revenue goals will have different strategic needs. 

What impact will your business have on your industry, your community, your world?

How will you exit your business? Will you run the business and eventually pass it on to family members? Will you sell it privately? Will you go public?

These are examples of the kinds of goals which shape your company. The decisive objectives create the context for the strategy alternatives you generate.

Rate and rank your “SWOTs”

Previously, you analyzed your external environment and internal strengths and weaknesses. Now rate and rank the most important factors.

Evaluate each external factor: is it an opportunity to be taken advantage of, a threat to be defended against, or is simply something neutral you can safely ignore? Do the same for your internal factors: are they strengths to capitalize upon, weaknesses which much be bolstered or outsourced, or neutral conditions?

Using your Decisive Objectives as a guide, select amongst the potential opportunities, threats, strengths and weaknesses, those factors you consider critical to the success of your business. (Ignore the neutral factors.)

Group the critical factors into internal and external. Rate each internal factor from .01 to .99 based on its perceived importance to your business. The total should add up to 1.0. Do the same for the external factors. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 2 Of 2.

Select the top five to ten internal factors and external factors for matching.

Match your internal and external factors to identify strategic alternatives

Matching combines each internal factor with an external factor, generating a potentially relevant strategy. A software manufacturer might match an internal strength such as flexibility with an external opportunity of a new law in a related industry, yielding a strategic alternative to reconfigure the software and provide solutions to the new legal requirements. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 2 Of 2.

Or, a duck farmer might match his internal strength of breeding expertise with an external opportunity demanding low-fat, high-protein foods to yield a strategy selling low- fat duck.

Strengths are matched with opportunities to create SO strategies. These are generally your strongest, highest leverage options. Strengths match with threats to create ST strategies. These use your natural assets to minimize external threats to existing revenue streams and your current competitive position. But since the best defense is often a strong offense, you may find yourself reverting to an SO strategy — typically a better alternative.

WO strategies use external opportunities to reduce the impact of internal weaknesses. Of course, you may simply choose to put your resources into areas of strength and outsource weak factors. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 2 Of 2.

WT strategies are the weakest of all: defensive approaches designed to minimize internal weaknesses or external threats. Sometimes necessary to protect weakening revenue streams, there are often other, more powerful approaches that take better advantage of company strengths. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 2 Of 2.

This process is often called SWOT, named for the four types of internal and external factors. I prefer to call it SOT, since the most powerful options will not pay much attention to weaknesses. In our business philosophy you will gain more ground more quickly by amplifying and exploiting your strengths and outsourcing — or ignoring — the areas in which you are weak.

Select specific strategies for implementation

At this point many people choose to intuitively select which strategies to pursue. Others may prefer to bring rigor to the ranking process. This final step combines your various subjective analyses into a defined framework, giving each strategy a strategic impact score.

Compare your new strategic alternatives to your list of critical factors to find those factors affected by each strategy. For each match, rank the attractiveness of the strategy relative to the factor from 1-4 (1-not attractive, 2-somewhat attractive, 3-reasonably attractive, 4-highly attractive) and multiply it by the factor’s rating (.01 – .99). Sum all the scores for that strategy into a total “strategic impact score.” The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 2 Of 2.

Lastly, select your go-forward strategies based on the highest strategic impact scores.

This is a demanding process with many steps, but it is well worth the effort. The strategies you create will take greatest of advantage of your strengths and opportunities, while protecting your company most effectively against threats and weaknesses. They will provide your company with leverage to make the most of your assets, your competitive position and your markets, all while insuring your strategies are consistent with your company’s vision and goals.

Important notice for strategy-minded entrepreneurs:

Strategy creation is a long road to hoe, and goes much more smoothly when you know what questions to ask and in what sequence. To make it easier for you and your senior team, I’ve created the Growth Strategy Roadmap.

This program of flowcharts, questions, checklists, and detailed processes takes you through the entire progression of evaluating your external and internal environments, and provides all the steps and forms necessary to generate matched options, and rate, rank and select a high-leverage, high-growth strategy. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 2 Of 2.

(c) Copyright Paul Lemberg. All rights reserved

How To Attract and Keep Top Performers by Tim Jacquet

How To Attract and Keep Top Performers by Tim Jacquet

How To Attract and Keep Top Performers by Tim Jacquet. Good people are hard to find, the saying goes. For example, by the year 2000 over 190,000 computer programmer and other information technology jobs will be vacant, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report. (This is now a bit out of date, and although the dot-com bustups and the 2000-2001 recession has eased things a bit, it is still difficult to lure top talent.) It may be easy to fill these empty positions if you are a software giant like Microsoft, but there is a tremendous challenge attracting (and keeping) top performers if you are smaller and less well known. How To Attract and Keep Top Performers by Tim Jacquet

According to chief executives and industry recruiters who were interviewed for this article, there are three main areas on which to focus: the quality and market position of your product or service, environment, and compensation.

Leading edge technology and a high perception of quality will lure top technical and design people, salespeople and support people, all for different reasons. Technology people relish the challenge of developing something new, plus they need ongoing opportunities for skill enhancement to remain fresh.

As for top sales people, a strong product means they can earn bigger commissions, and their egos are fulfilled by being on the leading edge. And top support people are smart enough to know that a quality product makes everyone’s job easier, and it enables them to earn their incentives. For everyone, superior products will earn your company better returns, enabling more reinvestment in R&D, providing challenges and adventure for your technical people, and more and better product for your sales and marketing team. How To Attract and Keep Top Performers by Tim Jacquet

What if your product is not cutting-edge, or your quality not up to snuff? Appealing to top performers is not going to be your only problem. Unless you control a mature market niche, your company will need to update and upgrade to remain viable – this requires high caliber people. If you want to survive in the marketplace you must concentrate harder on the next two factors.

Environmental factors – the corporate culture, the caliber of co-workers, the attitude of your management team, and your physical environment can be pivotal in finding and retaining talented people. How To Attract and Keep Top Performers by Tim Jacquet

Corporate culture is one area smaller companies have an edge – that “hell-bent-for-leather” attitude makes it exciting and challenging to come to work, and there are fewer layers of bureaucracy people find so stifling. Real teamwork, where success is shared and the team affirms a common commitment, will draw other top professionals.

Having a smart, talented staff will captivate more smart, talented people. So will a collegial atmosphere which values the opinions of the rank-and-file along with open-management policies keeping the troops informed on the state-of-the-company. How To Attract and Keep Top Performers by Tim Jacquet

A training plan, designed career paths and professional conference attendance are more ways to attract and keep people. Other small but significant options include dress code, flextime, telecommuting, offices with walls – these all help.

Last is the issue of compensation. The big salary problem is no matter how much you pay, a competitor can pay a little bit more. So in terms of salary level itself, you simply have to be at or near your market rate.

Pay-for-performance however, can take compensation much higher while avoiding salary inflation. A system of carefully designed bonuses and incentives will enable you to pay people for exceptional production.

Equity – stock grants, options and equity-like phantom stock – is a powerful way for smaller companies to entice people at all levels. Plus, smaller companies can grant equity without the usual waiting period required by public and larger companies. (Just remember to include a forfeiture clause in case of early termination.) How To Attract and Keep Top Performers by Tim Jacquet

What does all this mean in real terms? Some of the ideas in this article are harder to implement than others, and some describe conditions you simply can’t achieve. Must you arrange for every item mentioned above? Of course not, but systematically providing your people with the challenge to be their best, the opportunity to learn, the freedom to be creative, the incentives to perform and produce, a feeling of ownership, and the respect as professionals – these are the things that will make top technical and sales people want to join your company, and have them stay. How To Attract and Keep Top Performers by Tim Jacquet