B2B Business Development Using Social Media

B2B Business Development Using Social MediaMarketing for B2B Business Development became confused in 2008-2009 when social media took off. Before that marketing was relatively easy to do, just put your ad in the yellow pages and maybe a couple of trade publications, clap your hands and call it done for the year. Maybe if you were really hard-core you had a drive-to-web campaign using direct mail, but basically, it was pretty contained and involved just paying and then waiting for leads to roll in.

This style of marketing is called direct response and it is really the straightest line from paying for a marketing item (like having an email blast go out to a targeted list), to generating leads directly because of that action, following up on them and then making a sale. The really nice thing about this is you can say you spent X amount of dollars to have the piece produced, sent it using your database which costs X amount per month, got X amount of leads and converted X number of those leads into closed business.

The old days were great!

Excessive Clutter

Now, you might be asking if I am saying that you shouldn’t do direct selling…well no! There are still numerous ways to direct response that are effective. But we are talking about Social Media and Business Development today and that is a totally different animal.

When the social sites exploded onto the scene (and by these we are saying sites like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest) they stretched out marketing an almost unbearable amount. Add to that blogs, TV and movies on demand, email, texting and all the other ways that we are bombarded with marketing messages each day and it is no wonder that doing marketing started to feel like a three ring circus instead of a business play.

Getting your marketing message to the right people is more important now than ever.

Pure Business Development

Let’s look again at what marketing is and has always been. A way to put a message about your company in front of people who might be interested in what you are selling and then having them call for a quotation, learn more by visiting your site or do some other action that puts them into your “pipeline” where you can followup and convert them into a buyer.

That is business development. Somehow social media as a marketing channel got put on a different level from other marketing. It was held to a standard that no marketing could attain…every post you make, every video you shoot, everything should lead directly to a sale. A fun thing to banter around is “what is the ROI of social media”.

I think this is because of the effort that has to be expended to succeed at social media. It is not enough to just throw up a Twitter page, you have to get followers, find content, post frequently and then respond when someone actually talks to you. You have to track on the back-end and see how many website hits your Twitter efforts are generating, follow that through to confirmed leads and then closed business.

Oh and that person who “found” you on Twitter might have visited your website first, checked out your YouTube videos and finally looked at your Twitter account before deciding to actually contact you. Jay Baer, author of Youtility states, “customers will contact a sales rep only after independently completing 60 percent of the purchasing decision process”.

The marketing process has turned around, now your customer is researching you and your offerings BEFORE ever reaching out to talk with you.

Targeting The Right Customers

The very first thing that you need to do when starting your business development efforts on social media is to figure out who your customers are. Are they large multinational corporations where you have to get to a decision maker who is closely guarded, or are they a young startup where the founder is on the social circuit and you can reach her directly? Are they small companies who use social media themselves or are they larger and you really need provide content that the person who is looking for your products or services will be searching for.

Some of types of customers we target for our social media clients include:

Parent Companies – There are often some really big opportunities behind the closed doors of multinational companies. Viewing their social media, you have to know that it is being handled by minions and that the marketing department is sanitizing all the messages you may be sending to reach out to their executives or purchasing departments. For this type of mission, you may have to work hard, doing targeted paid advertising to reach these decision makers. You can also check LinkedIn and Twitter to see if your decision maker is using either of those.

Distributors – One of the most fun B2B targets is when you want to find companies who would think that your product would be a good fit for their product line. The conversation about representing you is much nicer when they have seen all your great social media and come to you asking about your product or service. This is easily accomplished by following and liking their content, targeting industry resources and joining industry groups. Once you have established your authority in those places, being considered becomes a no brainer.

Complimentary Companies – Another way to increase your social engagement is to find companies that provide similar but not competing products or services. Sharing their information, industry accolades and posts is a great way to start a conversation about how you can work together.

End Users – Sometimes is can seem like all you should do is target your actual business-to-business contacts, but that is truly missing an opportunity. As a manufacturer, corporation or company, you need to present your product or service in the marketplace so that end users can see it in action and be enthused about. Think of a company like CSX which does freight shipping. They do a lot of video and commercial advertising on political and business programs, trying to be top of mind when busy executives are making decisions about how to move their freight around the country. Due to the size of the contracts, they can get their “ROI” easily if those spots secure just one multi-year contract. All the rest would be gravy.

Your Sales Channels – Promoting businesses that are representing your product is a great way to cement the relationship and increase sales up the supply chain. Oftentimes as the producer of a product or service, you need to the one that is promoting the companies that represent you and providing them with social content that they can share with their networks. Nothing that you do to help a dealer or distributor will hurt sales and could actually increase your ROI as their orders increase.

Going Where Your B2B Customers Are

Common wisdom says if you are doing B2B Social Media marketing you should use LinkedIn and nothing else…sigh. Nothing could be further from the truth than that! For every business we have ever worked with, there have been multiple social media platforms that they could use with a targeted plan and message. Just because you are doing business-to-business marketing, don’t rule out Pinterest or Facebook, depending on which level of customer you are trying to reach.

Sometimes your “business” customers can look more like consumers and sometimes your ideal prospect will be in love with Instagram and not use anything else socially. Ruling out all other social platforms to focus exclusively on any one channel is a recipe for disaster and may be why there are so many questions about the ROI of social. If you have spent thousands of hours “working” LinkedIn and not gotten anything out of it, maybe there are other social sites that could be more effective for your business.

If you would like to find out more about our manufacturer marketing, click here, all others check out our marketing services page!

How To Sell A $97 Strategy Session – This One Is For Larry!

How to sell a $97 dollar strategy sessionThis post is about how to sell a $97 dollar consulting or strategy session.

You are going to see the length and wonder what the heck is so hard about doing this, but this is actually a piece for one of my all time favorite clients who is EXPLODING in his business recently and ready to take the next steps to make more money (and strangely enough, it will not be $97 at a time!)

Not A Money Maker

If you are doing a $97 consultation, even if it is for just an hour, you cannot do or source enough of them to make big bucks. Think about it…40 hours a week, $97 a hour times 52 weeks in the year IS just over $200,000…but…you are probably not a machine that can spit out great information on demand or keep too many stories in your head all at once. You will also have to do marketing and lead generation, administration and business development.

So why do a $97 session? It is basically to weed out the people who are tire-kicking or just fishing and find the diamonds in the rough.

Why So Much Resistance

In our coaching business, we find that many of our “peeps” are super resistant to doing this, and maybe not for the reason you think. Here are some common reasons they give for not being comfortable:

Realtors/Real Estate Investors – Larry works with real estate investors from the US and around the globe. He has an amazing real estate investing website and has recently started writing for a very highly regarded real estate investing magazine. On his site and in his popular newsletter he says constantly that people can call him with any questions, that he is available anytime. Very few people call, and the ones that do are mostly at the very end of sales cycle and are ready to talk money, but it seems to be taking them a long time to get there. One huge factor holding Larry back is that in the real estate industry, Realtors work for free until a deal is closed and he isn’t sure that someone will be willing to pay him for his time and expertise before being ready to close a transaction.

Direct Sales – We have another client who works in the direct sales industry (MLM). She has been a top recruiter for many years on a national level and her expertise is a highly coveted skill. That said, she feels really funny about charging people for her time. Mostly she works just with the people who are in her downline and puts charity time in working with people who belong to her company but are not in her downline. She has seen other people work with MLMers and charge for it, but it is hard to get her head around why someone would pay her money and how that would help grow her direct sales business.

Who Am I To Talk?

So you are on my site reading this so you probably know that I am pretty good at marketing, but what you may not know is that for years all my lead generating was done on a semi-paid model. I would give free talks around town or where ever I happened to be and offer the people in the room a $97 consult. I never did “coffees” or one-on-ones because I can’t help myself, I tell whoever I am with all about what they should do marketing-wise and if I met with 20 people informally I would get paid $0 and have wasted my time.

I say that I wasted my time because I am in business and the goal of being in business is to make money, not to help random strangers. Helping out people with no thought of payment is a non-profit model and I am a for profit business. Additionally, they got the ideas and concepts for free, so they assigned that exact value to them, $0, and didn’t really do anything with them.

Over the years I have talked to close to 1,000 small business owners and learned the back end workings of their businesses. Their motivations, goals and dreams which means that I can now help even more people do even better work in their business. While I no longer do $97 consults, I am super happy that I got all those chances to talk to people, building up my experience and their businesses.

The Real End Result

Enough about me, back to charging money for your time. So let’s look at Larry and his real estate investors. There are probably a few reasons they are not just calling him:

  • They really feel like they are going to be bothering him so they don’t call
  • They feel like if he is willing to talk to them for free, how good can the info be
  • They are so early in the process they would be “wasting his time” reaching out right now

It is funny that 2/3 of those involve people being considerate of Larry and his time. The people who are his best prospects really are happy that he is giving them great information on his site and in his newsletter, they respect his opinion and are just waiting until they are ready to pull the trigger before reaching out to him.

The problem is that some of them will never have enough information to make an investment, they will spend years and years, gathering information and never buy a property. Some other ones will read Larry’s stuff religiously, but not wanting to bother him, will pay someone else so they can have their questions answered and that guy will get the sale because he will have established rapport and been helpful on a personal level.

Strategy Sessions Instead of Consults

Consulting is experiencing a lack of respect and interest right now. People are sick of consultants who swoop in, talk-talk-talk and run out. We like to position our talks as strategy sessions because they are. We are not just throwing out info but making sure to put it together in a cohesive whole.

Another nice thing is that a strategy session feels like it should lead to another. You might want to offer them another session at a later date or even get them into a coaching program.

How To Set Up A $97 Strategy Session

Because I wrote this post for Larry, I know he was polite enough to read all the way through (aren’t you?!?!?) but what he really wanted was the meat, the step by step guide to how to make a $97 strategy session available!

1. Make A Page On Your Website – Write out what you are offering

I always gave them about 7 examples of things that we could talk about, but basically you don’t to have so much there that they rule themselves out because you don’t have their exact problem listed or so little that they don’t see a reason to give you $97.

2. You don’t need to put too much about you!

Probably you are selling your $97 strategy session at a speaking event, on your website or in your newsletter. All places where they already know how cool you are so keep the “about me” to a couple of key highlights.

3. You need a payment processing thingy (that is the technical term)

To start, we recommend using Paypal.com. Here is a BRILLIANT tutorial about how to put a PayPal button on your site. You just needs parts one and two! This functionally allows people to pay you, you will get notifications and they will get a receipt.

4. Thank you page

You want to have a Thank You page that explains what happens next (PayPal will let you designate this when you set up your button). This page should tell them EXACTLY what is going to happen next so they don’t worry that they just wasted their money.

I tend to tell them:

1. How long it will be before someone contacts them to set up their time (within one business day)
2. Who will call them (my gal Shell)
3. My phone number in case they have

here is my actual thank you page

5. A few graphics

If you are going to do this, do it right. Get with Fiverr.com person and have them make two or three graphics that will be on your page. You want a little bit of a variety so that you can share different things on social media and in your newsletter and people won’t get banner blindness (seeing the same thing over and over).

You should also have a call to action button on the sidebar of your website saying that they can “set up a time to call” or some other fun verbiage.

6. A sales sheet

It is important to have an on-site signup form anytime that you are giving a talk. You want to let them know that they can hire you. This one is a very gentle offer, all we are asking for is their name and email address. Oftentimes we would have a credit card signup sheet.

$97 Marketing consult

Wrapup

That is it! It looks like it has a lot of moving parts but is actually pretty straight forward and easy to do. If you would like help to figure out your business or marketing efforts, check out our Marketing Strategy Sessions!

BONUS THOUGHTS

The last thing I want to leave you with is the actual reason that you are doing these strategy sessions. You should have some real things that you are going to sell AFTER the fact. Now, that does not mean that your hour should be dedicated to selling something else. You should spend the whole time talking to your customer and finding out what they need.

After that you might find out that they need a product that you are an affiliate for, you might find out that they are ready for some ongoing training or they may be ready to start investing in real estate, they just needed some one-on-one time to figure that out.

IF they have additional needs and the money to spend on those, it is your responsibility to help them figure that out. You are not “selling, selling, selling”, you are really “helping, helping, helping”.

 

The Best Business, Sales and Marketing Podcasts

The Best Businesses, Sales and Marketing PodcastsI admit it, I am a bit of a podcast junky! I LOVE listening to the latest and greatest information from people who I would never have had access to “in real life”. Seriously, they say that your income and success will match the 5 people around you that you spend the most time with. I think that spending time with amazing people talking to me in my head counts!

The Best Business, Sales and Marketing Podcasts Overview

Knowing I was going to write this post this week, I decided to look around the interwebs and see what other great lists were out there that listed podcasts that I might be interested in and really was saddened by the quality of the referrals. A whole bunch were just the “usual suspects” that I have some of, but most were about podcasts that had not updated in months or years. With that in mind, I will include the most recent date that I have updated this list and let you know if they stop or just fall out of favor with me (SO feel like the Red Queen…off with their heads!)

updated 5/29/2014

The Picking Criteria

Purely subjective. I have a bunch of time a week to listen to podcasts, but very little patience for misinformation. Not all of these are “professionally” done as that is not my criteria. My criteria is whether I learned something new about business, sales or marketing when listing to the episodes.

A “my life” note. I tend to listen to them all, even if the episode doesn’t seem to apply to me and my business. The reason is two-fold. First, they often go off topic or talk about something that I do like. Second, whenever I think something will be “stupid” it is generally the thing I need most in my business, I am just resisting because I am a putz. Just an observation.

My Criteria

I don’t like tiny little podcasts. I am not all that good at operating my iPhone so having to click and click and click to hear even a half an hour of content doesn’t work for me. That said, I did include one that was such good content I couldn’t resist.

I only have a couple that publish daily. There are very few people I want to hear from daily and mostly podcasters aren’t them. I like to have a great mix of genres and information as that is what sparks my marketing creativity.

Quality. As I said, quality of the sound is not my first priority. Nor is staying on topic if the sidebars are super interesting. Some of these have really structured, concise content and some are off the cuff. I will try to note that when possible.

 

The Best Marketing Podcasts

 

The Marketing and Sales Success Show – Tara Jacobsen and Rebekah Welch

The Marketing and Sales Success Show PodcastA recently launched podcast that talks about “real marketing” including finding your perfect customers, dominating your USP, testing and tracking you efforts and product development. It is a disorganized, rollicking fun time that is full of really practical marketing information. This is one of my favorites!

Website | iTunes | Stitcher | Webcast

disclaimer: this is our podcast…we are super proud of the work that we are doing on our Show!

The Impact Factor – Ken McArthur

The Impact Factor Logo Ken McArthur is a fellow that I met in real life as a speaker at his JV Alert Seminar. The neat thing about Ken is that he is SO nice that amazingly successful people are always around him and he interviews many of them on his podcast. The level of guests is really high and Ken is tremendously knowledgable.

iTunes | Stitcher

For Immediate Release – Chuck Hester

for immediate release podcast While this is a new podcast to me, it seems that they have been around A LONG TIME. The format is very structured and on topic (mostly interview style). There are different focuses of the show (LinkedIn, PR, guests). Chuck gets some really big name interviews and has a super professional style to his shows.

Website | iTunes | Stitcher

I Love Marketing – Dean Jackson and Joe Polish

I love marketing logoI know Joe Polish is a big deal and you should listen to him (he knows stuff). That said, I have followed Dean Jackson for about a decade, starting when I was a real estate agent. He is a down-to-earth guy who is a wealth of knowledge about all kinds of marketing. They get some great guests and it is a really great show!

Website | iTunes | Stitcher

Additional Marketing Podcasts:

Marketing Over Coffee – John J. Wall and Christopher Penn
Website | iTunes | Stitcher

Audience Hacker – Jonny Andrews
Website | iTunes | Stitcher

Marketing Smarts – Marketing Professors
Website | iTunes

 

The Best Entrepreneur Podcasts

 

Love Your Leap – John Lee Dumas and Tom Paige

Love Your Leap PodcastJohn Lee Dumas has the awesome Entrepreneur On Fire podcast that we have listed below, but that is actually just him interviewing other interesting people. I actually like this one better because I am getting to hear John and Tom talk about entrepreneurship and other topics relevant to their businesses, shows and selling. This is one of my favorites!

Website | iTunes

The Fizzle Show – Corbett Barr, Chase Reeves and Caleb Wojcik

The Fizzle Show Podcast Funny starts and very much “insider funny”, I love these guys. They are very zippy and have a wealth of knowledge. They are great and unorganized, picking a topic and the talking over each other throughout the show. I love this format because you get some real “a ha’s” out of the show! Great real world information.

Website | iTunes | Stitcher

Entrepreneur On Fire – John Lee Dumas

Entrepreneur on Fire Podcast logoSeems to me that everyone and their brother has known about this guy for a million years. That said, I just found him last month from my mastermind partner. Everyday he does an interview with someone, on a very structured format, in a super excited style. It takes a little bit to get used to, but once you know what is going on, the consistency is comforting and the absolute wealth of knowledge is astounding.

Website | iTunes | Stitcher

The School of Greatness – Lewis Howes

School of greatness logoLewis Howes is a really nice man (and not hard to look at!) His show is a little on the healthy side for me, but his integrity and sincereness overcome the fact that most of the times I feel like a total schlub when I listen to all the athletic people talking. He has mainly entrepreneurs and other notable guests in an interview format.

Website | iTunes | Stitcher

Additional Entrepreneur Podcasts:

The Human Business Way – Chris Brogan
Website | iTunes | Stitcher

 

The Best Self Publishing Podcasts

 

The Self Publishing Podcast – Johnny B Truant, Sean Platt and David Wright

Self Publishing Podcast LogoOH MY GOODNESS, maybe my all time favorite podcast show ever. These guys are very unorganized, the topic is usually never the content and they bicker (my favorite episode is the one where they argue about pricing!) If you are writing books, you need to be following these guys. A lot irreverent, they are a great listen. This is one of my favorites!

Website | iTunes | Stitcher | Webcast

Rocking Self Publishing Podcast – Simon Whistler

Rocking Self Publishing PodcastSimon is a really neat guy who is very “British proper”. No swearing, on topic and a very organized show.

He has great guests and is obviously very genuine on his show. I really enjoy listening to this show and recommend it if you are writing and publishing your own books.

Website | iTunes | Stitcher

Additional Self Publishing Podcasts:

The Creative Penn – Joanna Penn
Website | iTunes | Stitcher

Sell More Books Show – Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen
(they would have rated a blurb and a picture but Jim said he hated my EbookNerds Twitter…:)
Website | iTunes | Stitcher

Self Publishing Roundtable – David Wright
Website | iTunes | Webcast

 

The Best Social Media Podcasts

 

Social Pros – Jay Baer and Eric Boggs

Social Pros PodcastJay Baer is a very serious guy who works primarily with corporate clients (I am not as familiar with Eric). I like this one because I get to “big picture, big budget” ideas that we sometimes are able to emulate for our “little guys”. They often have great guests (not all the usual suspects) who I can “meet” and start stalking on the Twitter.

iTunes | Stitcher

Additional Social Media Podcasts:

Social Media Marketing – Michael Stelzner
Website | iTunes | Stitcher

Social Media Pubcast – Jon Loomer
(the only tiny one I listen to…it is that good!)
iTunes | Stitcher

Online Marketing Made Easy – Amy Porterfield
iTunes | Stitcher
 

The Best Podcasting Podcasts

 

School of Podcasting – Dave Jackson

School of Podcasting LogoDave Jackson is sometime snotty and sarcastic…I LOVE THAT! Very plain talk about what you should and shouldn’t be doing to make your podcast successful. Technical information, practical advice and occasional guests. I like that he talks the most, I want to hear from the people who have lived the podcasting life and know all the stuff that will mess me up! Lots of great practical resources.

Website | iTunes | Stitcher

The Audacity To Podcast – Daniel J. Lewis

The Audacity To PodcastOHHH this guy tells it like it is. He had a huge argument with himself about whether episode numbers matter or not! The thing is, it really made us think about the structure of our podcast and how we wanted to set things up so we wouldn’t have trouble down the road! Pretty techy and as far as I can tell, all Daniel, he brings up some really amazing practical points.

Website | iTunes | Stitcher | Webcast

Additional Podcasting Podcasts:

Podcasters Round Table
Website | iTunes | Stitcher | Webcast

Podcast Answer Man – Cliff Ravenscraft
Website | iTunes | Stitcher

 

The Best Real Estate Marketing Podcasts

 

Curaytor Watercooler – Chris Smith and Jimmy Macklin

Curaytor LogoThis one is a little weird, you need to get on their mailing list, because figuring out how to find them is kerfuffly. They seem to do a webcast weekly (which is AWESOME, Chris cusses and drinks and asks really amazing questions – of COURSE I like the loud one!) That said, their iTunes doesn’t seem to have the same content and hasn’t been updated lately. I just watch the web shows.

Webcast

Additional Real Estate Marketing Podcasts:

Bare Naked Agent – Pat Hiban
iTunes | Stitcher

 

The Best Women Only Podcasts

 

Business Women Rock – Katie Krimitsos

Business Women Rock PodcastI know Katie “in real life” and she is just as nice in person as she seems on the show. She launched onto the podcasting scene, taking the community by storm and I couldn’t be happier for the girl! Her interviews are really good and she is attracting some amazing guests, both “big dogs” and regular business owners who work in the real world.

Website | iTunes | Stitcher

Biz Chix Podcast – Natalie Eckdahl

Biz Chix Podcast LogoEven if she wasn’t interviewing cool women, I would want to “hang out” with Natalie. She seems to be a really strong force for good, being a mother, wife, entrepreneur, and about a million other things. Her perspectives about the challenges of being a great mom and also a great entrepreneur are priceless for women like me who don’t just want to be a great business owner or a great mom, we want it all!

Website | iTunes | Stitcher

 

The Best Internet Marketing Podcasts

 

Internet Business Mastery – Jeremy “Sterling” Frandsen and Jason “Jay” Van Orden

Internet business mastery logoI have listened to these guys A LOT over the years. It is funny, when they started they used pseudonyms and changed to their real names somewhere in the middle.

They have a great style and focus on beginning internet marketing. If you are just starting out and not sure how to get going, you can’t do better than to begin with these guys!

Website | iTunes | Stitcher

Smart Passive Income – Pat Flynn

Smart Passive Income LogoPat Flynn is an awesome human being. The neat thing about this podcast is that he talks about how to do affiliate marketing, what works and how he has hosed it up. He calls himself the crash test dummy for how to do marketing and is constantly implementing and innovating new ideas. A genuinely nice person, I am glad he is my “friend” on the podcast.

Website | iTunes | Stitcher

Did I Miss Any?

Alright friends! I have listed most of the ones that I have on my phone (I told you I am an addict!) That said, I am sure that there are some amazing podcasts out there that I have missed…:)

If you have one or know of one and let me know in the comments, I will check it out and see if I like it. Please keep to the topic of the best business, sales and marketing podcasts. I monitor all the comments so spamming the crap out of this post with your icky spam links will not do any good!

Free Marketing Training Courses and Tools

Fre Marketing Training and ToolsAre you looking for amazing free marketing ideas? We have the goods for you right here! Get help with your social media, newsletters, small business marketing, realtor marketing and more.

These are not just thrown together classes or some kind of come on to buy something else, every one of them is chock full of great content that will help you rock your marketing!

These aren’t just basic, beginner information that you can find on any website or YouTube…it is advanced strategies and tactics that we use in our marketing business today.

Who are these classes for?

  • Small business owners
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Realtors
  • Professional services
  • Speakers, coaches and trainers
  • Marketing pros
  • Social media marketing peeps

Free Social Media Marketing Course

Free Social Media Marketing CourseWe have put together a course that will help you to understand HOW social works, WHY it is so important to your business and WHAT you should do to make the most of your time.

Find out how to use strategy to find and target the right connections socially, how and what to post to the different sites sites and how to get them off of social and onto your email list!

>> Get the Free Social Media Marketing Course

 

Amazing Email Newsletters

Free Course Amazing Email Newsletters That Get ResultsWith all the clutter that hits the average inbox daily, you already KNOW that you’ve got to have something glorious that stands out from the crowd! Cutting through the noise and getting your email newsletters not only seen – but also responded to – is not only important, it’s currently one of the best tools you can use today to turn those warm leads into closed sales. Our AMAZING Email Newsletter Course will ensure that your email newsletters get opened – and GET RESULTS!

>> Get the Free Amazing Email Newsletters Course

 

The Best Darn Free Email Marketing Course EVER!

best email marketing course everIf you are using email marketing to promote your business, you need to be sure that you are maximizing your efforts. This course walks you through all the of the aspects of email markeitng including getting started, developing your content, writing a sales page, setting up your campaign, getting the bugs out, free offers to build your list, and finally our top email marketing tips. This is all of our best email marketing strategies in easy bite sized bites!

>> Get the Best Darn Free Email Marketing Course EVER!

 

100 Free Marketing Ideas

This is the fourth annual 100 Free Marketing Ideas sheet, with a twist. When we took a look at what had changed over the last couple of years we realized that we needed to update the ideas from the ground up!

This amazing resource contains everything from internet marketing to social media to offine marketing ideas. Make sure you pick just a few and get going today!

>> Download the 100 Free Marketing Ideas

 

The Twitter Cheat Sheet

Because we use Twitter so often (and effectively), we took a bunch of time to figure out some things about which tweets catch the eye and how to attract more attention to our tweets. Some of them were obvious (have great info) and some more obscure, like that people tend to respond more when using the word “you” because they are alone when they read tweets. We keep this cheat sheet right beside us on our desk when we are tweeting so that we can post the most powerful messages possible.

>> download the Twitter Cheats Sheet

 

The Twitter Tweet Generator

Up until recently I used the TweetAdder tweet generator tool to make a variety of tweets that I could use to marketing on Twitter. With the recent changes, they deleted that function, but luckily I have a geeky husband who made me this AMAZING Tweet Generator!

Please use it responsibly…:)

>> Use the Twitter Tweet Generator to create a list of every combination of tweets based off of user entered text.

We are pleased to present these free marketing training courses and tools to help you with your small biz marketing efforts…
if you got some great ideas, please let us know!

What A 6 Year Old Can tell Us About Sucky Marketing

What A 6 Year Old Can tell Us About Sucky MarketingSo my 6 year old knows nothing about what marketing is supposed to accomplish, what he does know is that some of it makes him wicked mad and interrupts him and some is great and interesting and adds to his life.

He plays a game that is subsidized by marketing. During his football games, each quarter ends with an advertisement he has to watch to get to the next quarter. The most interesting part of it to me is how he recognizes them across channels.

Sucky Marketing

I am not sure which car company it is but one of them has been buying A LOT of advertising time on his game. Now, admittedly he is playing Madden Football which is more of a big guy game BUT it is the constant interruption that he attributes to this car company. The interesting bit is that when he sees it on “real television” he goes out of his way to comment that they are on his game and he hates them.

Now, I am not sure that this is going to influence his buying decisions for a lifetime but it has happened enough that he has now associated that car company with something bad that happens. And he has played the game almost daily for two months…gotta think that some neural connections were made.

one note…this is a “typical” car commercial, lots of driving and inane comments… I did a search for car commercials to see if I could find and dang, there are actually some fun (and funny) commercials. would have thought have an entertaining commercial during a game would make more sense

This same thing happened to me. I was watching a show I had recorded in a marathon and they had obviously not sold enough different advertisers. I kept getting the same ad over and over…causing me to actually stop watching the program because I couldn’t STAND-TO-SEE-IT-ONE-MORE-TIME.

My final example is a brilliant one from SpyFu…they had bought A LOT of ads of on the YouTube so that they could retarget and blanket the marketplace. Problem was, there is ABSOLUTELY a fine line between being “everywhere” and actually being everywhere, over and over ad nauseum.

Is It Still Bad Marketing If It Is Not Memorable?

Now in the world of a 6 year old, this commercial actually ads to his experience. He stops and watches it and comments about it favorably on it when he sees it on “real tv”.

Unfortunately, it may not be accomplishing its goals…the six year old gets one dollar a week as allowance. It took me almost 20 minutes to find it because, even though I have watched it a bunch with him, I did not remember it was Inkjoy. I checked Pilot Pens, Bic and Paper Mate before figuring out that it was Inkjoy (purely by accident). Now I do actually have a budget for buying pens but would not have been able to identify the brand to buy them.

Take-away

It is really easy to hear “you should be advertising everywhere” rather than hearing “you need to be everywhere”. While it is great to use some of these new fangled marketing channels that we have at our disposal, the wise marketer knows the difference between connecting, marketing and advertising.

ps – the child in the photo is a stock image, although my child has that same face when he sees car ads!

Seth Godin Marketing Meetup – Small Business Big Things Sept 17th

Seth Godin - Sept 17th NYCSeth Godin is speaking at an Infusionsoft sponsored marketing meetup event September 17th, 2013 in NYC!

During this three hour event Seth Godin will be doing a rare question and answer session…OMG if you have ever seen one of his keynotes, you know how wonderful his vision of how to do small business in the digital age is!

The Marketing and Media Monsters will be flying in to see this amazing networking and speaker presentation.

Some of the topics that will be covered include:

The way we work and play has changed. Big companies who have not innovated have failed. Small companies who have innovated are thriving.

Laggard companies are being crushed. Companies who can strategically innovate are being created and growing.

Will your business thrive? Will it survive?

Seth Godin - Marketing Meetup NYCIf you have never seen Seth speak, you need to make a point of signing up RIGHT NOW! This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Seth in a small setting. We signed up for the VIP tickets which were about a hundred bucks and included reserved seating and private networking afterward.

The best part? We got our readers reduced seats because of our association with Infusionsoft!!!! Seeing Seth Godin for under $30…are you kidding me? His keynotes generally cost thousands of dollars…so glad that we have this opportunity!!!

Sign up here >> http://smallbizbigthings2013.eventbrite.com/?discount=marketingartfully

Real Life Networking – Making Marketing Work

Real life networking can make a huge difference in how fast you can grow your business. Getting out there and talking to groups of people who have the ability to hire you can produce high quality leads.

Real Life Networking MarketingBUT, (you are saying to yourself), if that is the case, why are you schlepping around to 20 networking events a month and getting no business? There are myriad considerations that you need to look at to determine if you are doing the right kind of networking. Here are my top tips:

How To Pick A Networking Group

Picking a networking group based on demographics – If you are selling a product that only is used by companies with 25 or more full time employees, networking off of meetup.com may not work for you. You may have to join Chambers of Commerce or industry trade groups to get the kind of buyer prospects you are looking for. On the other hand, if you work with small business owners (like we do), many of the meetup groups are perfect for finding propects who may be able to use our services.

Picking a networking group based on interest – If you are involved in boat sales, picking a networking group that is involved in boating or water sports will fit the bill. In this case, you better be passionate about the product you are selling or they will spot you as a phony a mile away! This kind of networking requires that you know a lot about your industry, AND it is a brilliant place to get speaking opportunities.

Picking a networking group based on the time it meets – This is SUPER important. If the networking groups you belong to all meet at night and you are an early bird, you may miss meetings and also not be at your best to shine. I would love to join some of the networking groups that meet in the evening around here but know that I would be cranky and would find excuses to get out of them. Instead I focus on finding groups that meet during business hours with the kinds of prospects I am looking for!

How To Pitch Yourself or Your Product

Know what you are selling – It is impossible for people to buy something from you if your product offerings are vague. Stand up and say in a clear voice, “I sell X” OR “I work with X types of businesses to…” OR even the old standby “I am looking for the types of clients who…” I attend a bunch of networking events where people talk about their services like THEY don’t know what they are selling. “Well, we work with, um, I guess the kind of people, ah, well I guess I like to work with”. ARGG. NO ONE is going to give you their hard earned money unless they know that you are going to give them a value for it!

Tell them what is in it for THEM – Instead of saying “we are a metrics focused company with legacy technology, leveraging the power of the internet…”, say “we help small business owners get their websites found on the internet”. I see A LOT of selling features versus selling benefits at networking events.

Do not tell them everything about your company all at once – I have seen many networkers come to one networking event and never show up again. Invariably, these people spend about 10 minutes in the middle of the 1 minute commercial telling everything about their company, as fast as they can. This never works, “real” members roll their eyes and stop hearing you after about a minute and half!

Marketing Materials to bring to Real Life Networking

There are some great pieces that you should bring to networking events and I rarely see anyone with handouts so you are going to stand out even more.

  • Your business card – make sure you have your Facebook and Twitter names on this too. Businesspeople are looking for how to stay in touch with you which will equal more sales!
  • An offer for a free consultation – offer a 15 minute free phone consultation. Basically you are getting people to make your follow up calls for you!
  • Upcoming events – if you are having an open house or sale, give people a handout with the date, time and location. Extra credit if you print it on a colored piece of paper that will stand out from the rest of the papers!
  • Your brochure – I order mine from VistaPrint so that I can buy them cheaply enough to give to everyone I meet. Having a high end brochure that you are afraid to “waste” is a recipe for disaster.
  • A coupon – offer a discount coupon good for a set period of time or a set dollar amount.

If you are going to take your time to go to networking events, make sure you are using that time to the best of your abilities. Take every opportunity to speak if they have a member spotlight, get business cards from everyone and enter them into your database. Do one on ones with people who could help your business or be a prospective client. In general, make it worth your time and effort!

Unintended Marketing Consequences Beware Beware

Unintended marketing consequences pop up at the most inopportune times! If you are not minding your goals, it is easy to run off the track with something new and shiney that does not do what you thought it did.

Unintended Marketing ConsequencesI have to say that I hear about all kinds of new marketing ideas every day from blogs I read, email lists, readers who send me ideas and friends who know I like marketing. Some of them are G-R-E-A-T and some have put a really bad mojo on my marketing efforts. That is why I generally test out anything I am going to recommend on my stuff first. At least if I mess my Marketing Artfully or Tara Jacobsen marketing up I can usually fix it!

Recent unintended consequences…:)

  • MarketingArtfully.com redesign – to all you email readers out there, you may not know that I redid Marketing Artfully’s look and feel. While it is BEAUTIFUL, I have to say that it DID make some time changes necessary. In the past I could knock out a post in about 15 minutes and bang, up it went. Now there is more juggling around with image sizes, categorizing and more. Not a deal breaker but DEFINITELY did not know that would be the result!
  • Adding everyone to Gist – Now I do not know if www.gist.com is going to take off BUT like all things that pop up I joined in case it does do well (here is my take on Social Networking First Responder Advantages). That having been said, uploading everyone all at once to that one was a major ick factor. It wound up creating the same mess that I have now trying to follow all my real friends online stuff.
  • Getting more of the kind of clients you DO NOT WANT! My biggest beef with unintended consequences is when you are very successful but have started down the wrong road. This has happened to me a couple times where I built a successful client base but did not like the work I was doing. Argg. Be very careful to plan who you want to work with BEFORE you get started with what kind of marketing to do

If you have any neat bad marketing mojo stories, please feel free to share them here!!!

PS – The title of this post cracks me up, the Beware Beware part comes from the movie Labyrinth and funny rock people say that in a really spooky voice…I am cracking myself up over here this morning!

Free Tampa Speaker Training!

You all know I am obsessed with speaking and I am SO bummed that I can’t attend this!!! FOR FREE (it is a $1497 program but when you click through it is free for my readers because Dustin is my pal..:) Make sure to grab your seat now – SEATING IS LIMITED!

Click for Speaker Makeover, Tampa Florida – Saturday, August 29th & Sunday, August 30th

Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore
2225 N. Lois Ave.
Tampa, FL 33607

One-offs – How they cost small business owners time and opportunity!

According to Miriam Webster “one-offs” are limited to a single time, occasion or instance. I see MANY small business owners making the mistake of looking at customers as a one-off and also looking at one-off projects as real opportunities rather than the tremendous problems they really are!

One-offing Your Customers

I know, that sounds kind of bad AND it is! When we are in the trenches selling out products or services it can get really easy to become laser focused and lose the big picture. Your product or service may not be the answer to every problem and it is disingenuous to try and make it fit. Also, getting money from a customer one time (even a lot) but burning the relationship is SO not worth it!

The first goes along with the old saying, “when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. I worked for a GREAT company a while ago who operated like this. They were SO passionate about their product that they answered every question with “well you should use our product for that…and that…and that”. They also NEVER talked about any solutions other than their product, even if their solution was not in the best interest of the client. Humans recognize quickly that someone is doing this and then apply a filter to the information, always looking for the “gotcha” rather than listening to benefits.

The other half of this is sucking a customer dry with EVERYTHING you can take, burning them out for any future sales and losing your credibility at the same time. I know, a bird in the hand and all that BUT the lifetime value of a customer, their referrals and their goodwill is worth SO much more than taking everything you can get and leaving a bad taste in their mouth. Be honest with yourself about your motivation and make sure that you are doing what you can to serve your clients fairly and they will stay with you, bringing in way more than you could have made on one single transaction.

One-offing Your Projects

This one is SUPER easy for small business owners to do! It is always tempting to bring additional revenue to your company by taking on a project that is SORT OF like what you are doing now. A great example is our blogging product – we sell self-hosted wordpress blogs on Godaddy hosting. We have a 5 page, single spaced process to how to set it up and make it web ready ON GODADDY.

There are about a million other hosting companies and sometimes we have potential clients who would like to use their own preferred host. That is great for them, bad for us. Figuring out how to build blogs effectively on two different hosts would be inefficient, three would be terrible and ten would be absurd!

Make sure that you know EXACTLY what your company does and doesn’t do. Have referral partners that you can send people who don’t fit to. I KNOW – as entrepreneurs we think we can do anything! Just remember that learning to do something special for one customer may never transfer into revenue from anyone else and takes away time from your core business!

How To Pick New Small Business Opportunities

This month’s second small business marketing newsletter was about having multiple streams of income, which got me thinking about how we should choose those streams for ourselves. I have a confession to make…I am a huge proponent of multiple streams of income and I have an entrepreneurial spirit so I spend lots of time considering new things I COULD do to increase my business opportunities. This post is about what I (and you) SHOULD do to maximize my time and effort and minimize pain!

John Jonas gave the best description I ever heard about how to pick what to do. He said you should never get more than one step away from what you do now or more than one step away from the kind of customer you serve now when deciding new things to try.

Here is my one step approach for Marketing Artfully. The three main things I do for my business are blogs, information products and speaking. Because information products often have affiliate programs, starting my own or joining someone else’s is a good fit for me and makes sense to add to my resource page. Also, doing internet masterminds involves speaking (which is one of my things) so it is okay also.

ma_blocksSome other things for me that would be a good fit are things that provide services to entrepreneurs and small business owners, social networking items and other business related items.

Now here comes the brilliant part – when I get a great idea of something to do that is NOT one step away, I can drop it quickly. Instead of spending time and energy on researching something (or more likely diving into something) that will not help my business, I can easily determine if it is a good fit and, if not, move on!

This system works for ANY business! My buddy Deb Ward of Deborah Ward and Associates is a realtor in the Tampa Bay area. You can see from her blocks that there are some things that match well with her business model and some that don’t. She does coaching, sells real estate and owns a team of realtors. Getting referrals and owning shares in a title company are great for her, she could also add speaking to realtors easily because of her coaching focus. BUT, adding non-real estate related items would dilute her message and efforts.

dwa_blocksSo, to all you entrepreneurs out there considering new ventures…make sure that you are checking your blocks and keeping on track for success!!

Twitter Tools – How To Use Twitter Effectively!

I have been on a mission to find the ultimate twitter tools to review (and to make twitter time cost effective for my small business!) With that in mind I have researched the best the internet has to offer twitter-wise and have my findings and suggestions here. Now you may be asking yourself, why so much twitter info in one place? Well I have found that if I make a big page like this where I “remember” all I have learned about twitter I don’t have to keep re-learning the same things!

Don’t forget – we also offer a social networking video course that walks you though setting up all your social networks and how to use them to increase your business!

Ultimate FREE Twitter Tool Review

These are the things that I am using or have seen great reviews from others who use them! If you have a great tool I have missed, please feel free to leave a comment and I will check it out – that having been said, don’t try to spam my gang, I moderate your comments and will not publish spammy stuff!

Ping.FM – This is the free tool that I use to update my big three networks on my basic status updates like “writing a twitter review page”. I haven’t found it to be wonderful for sending out links but I think it has that capability.

TweetLater.com – I use this one for my heavy twitter lifting! It allows me to send out a message anytime someone follows me (I drive people to my facebook profile), it automatically follows anyone who follows me AND I could set it up to tweet stuff for me automatically (haven’t done this yet but will soon!) One word of caution – it does allow you to “unfollow” anyone who won’t follow you. I DO NOT recommend this both personally (I live in abundance and that is SO counter-intuitive) and professionally (twitter seems to dis-like this practice and could suspend your account!)

Hootsuite.com – I have heard good things about this service and it seems to be similar to tweetlater.com, I think it is just a matter of preference!

Twitterfeed.com – Twitter Feed sends all the blog posts that I write to twitter AUTOMATICALLY! It was a little convoluted to set up but SO worth the time!!!

TwitterGrader.com – Really neat site that shows how many twitter followers you have over time!

LocalTweeps.com – Cool way to find twitter-ers who are local to your area or your target niche!

http://sur.vey.me/ – Make surveys for twitter, it was SUPER easy. I made one and will update this post with the results!!!

Twixplode.com – Free course from Sean Malarkey on how to grow a twitter following. I am only part way through but got some good info from what he has sent so far! I did not find ANY disgruntled people talking about Sean or his product.

XavierMedia.com – I used this free twitter follower service and did see a small spike in my followers. It works like a pyramid scheme where your name goes at the bottom and more and more people follow you based on how far it gets. It did not seem malicious and worked okay although I am not sure that I got targeted followers.

Hashtags.org – Allows you to see what is trending hot on twitter in real time. It is great for targeting tweets IF that topic is in you niche market!!

Twellow.com – Yellow pages for twitter. A free service and really easy to use!

Tweetadder.com – Free to $55 – seems to be a really good service. I have not used it yet but will update the post when I get more info!

WeFollow.com – Free service, you can add yourself to, it doesn’t seem to help all that much until you have a bunch of followers.

Paid Twitter Tool Recommendations

Opennetworker.com -Top Linked’s networking arm. I used the free Top Linked in Linked In for a while and got okay results. You have to manually invite people and there is no twitter alternative. I paid about $50 for year membership to Open Networker and WOW – I have doubled my linked in and gotten about 500 new twitter followers in the first couple of days. If you are going to pay for something – this is REALLY GOOD!

TwitterPowerSystem.com – Sells for $77 and seems to be a good source of information! Will update with more info if I buy it!

Social Networking Videos By Marketing Artfully – I SO recommend these for new social networkers! (they are mine!)

Not So Impressed With Twitter Tools

Disclaimer – I have not bought or used and of these tools and so am just going by the other things that I have seen out there. Please know that being on this part of the list DOES NOT mean that these tools are evil or not worth purchasing, they are just not what I would choose to spend my money on!

TwitterTrafficMachine – only $25 and claims to be able to help you get thousands of followers AND has a great affiliate program. I found some pretty harsh criticism about it so cannot recommend it to my tribe.

Tweetergetter – this one is about $9 and claims that you will tens of thousands of followers. Again, harsh words were spoken and so not a fan favorite over here.

Twitter4Marketing – This one charges a sliding scale for how many twitter followers you want from $80 to $360. I have to stand my Open Networker recommendation above since you get twitter and linked in for one price!

Lop.net – Charges ONE THOUSAND dollars per month. Nuff said.

Social Networking and Blogs – How Do They Get You More Business?

Join Twitter and get a tons of money, be a Facebook user and get a million clients, get LinkedIn and EXPLODE your business, or build your blog and get a gagillion readers!!! If that is how you think it works then this is probably not the post for you! You WILL be disappointed. Using the internet is just like real life, getting new customers and growing your business is hard work.

So how can you REALLY get new business on the internet using blogs and social networking? I am going to tell you some stories from my experience, you can then extrapolate them to your business!

GETTING AN INTERVIEW WITH WOMENOF.com

So I blew into town (Westminster, CO) with my marketing roadshow and decided to re-build my marketing business here in Colorado. To meet people I joined the Elle Group – a networking group for small business owners. I have met close to 100 small business owners face-to-face thus far. At one of those sessions I got invited to another networking session and said “yes I would go”. I met a girl named Tara there who is big on Facebook. I became her Facebook friend. 

that is the first online thing – you CANNOT grow your business sitting at home in front of a computer, sometimes you have to meet humans!

She posted a message telling us to ask about marketing opportunites with WomenOf.com. I asked. She had a fellow call me and, long story short, I am being interviewed for an online video on Monday! WHOO WHOO – how fun!!! The three pivot points in this story are “friending” Tara, being open to talking with her about opportunities and having a great blog. When they went online and checked me out to see if I should be interviewed, they found this blog and validated their decision because of the information that I have here about marketing!

GETTING BUTTS IN THE SEATS AT MY EVENTS

When I speak I like having humans there! In the past when I wanted to invite people, I would make a flyer, send some emails and wonder if anyone was showing up.

Now I use Facebook and LinkedIn to send a messages about my event to people who are my “friends” or “connections”, who have already raised their hands and said they are interested in hearing from me. The amazing thing to me is that is just the tip of the iceburg! Once a person who is in my sphere accepts, the programs tell everyone in their sphere. 

Last month I taught Social Networking in Clearwater and my buddy Brian P. Forrester, the mortgage man, said that he was going to be coming. One of his connections saw that and came too! It was amazing that on a Wednesday afternoon in Clearwater I could get about 25 people into a room to hear me speak! 

So what is the moral of the story? Social networking will not make you a galillionaire overnight. You will still have to network with humans. BUT there are tools out there that exponentially increase your message and if you are not taking advantage of them, you are leaving business on the table!

Want to save yourself time getting started? Check out our social networking how to videos!

Free Marketing – Small Business Owners Best Friend

What a time we live in! Marketing is free, I am SO happy about that and so confused that more businesses are not leveraging these channels.

Some history…in 1999 I worked at Digital Chainsaw, an internet company, where we built websites for small businesses. Many of these companies had no online presence and were trying to be early adopters. The cost to do the blueprint for the site (NOTHING was built) was $1,000 and the cost of building the site was from $20,000-$40,000. Now don’t get me wrong, there are still some businesses that have to have professionally built websites with big back-end programming, but most small businesses do not. The last thing about that time to tell you, it was deep in the heart of the tech boom and small business start-up money was flowing freely!

Fast forward 10 years to a new business start-up (if you are not doing marketing you are a start-up no matter how old your company is). I talk to more and more small business owners that do not have ANY resources for marketing. And THAT IS OKAY! I can’t even believe I can say that but it is true.

Today we are going to talk about FREE MARKETING! Upcoming posts will talk about low cost marketing and then big money marketing  – which still will not come close to the $20,000 that used to be the norm!

FREE MARKETING IDEAS!

  • Blogs – today you can have a blog set up in minutes for free! I suggest starting with www.wordpress.com but www.blogger.com works and is my geeky husband’s favorite. You can add widgets, customize the blog with your logo and get your marketing message out there! The drawback, for me, on free blogs is that it is hard to put contact forms on free blogs which will be part of our moderate pricing marketing. If you want to skip the free blog and go to the medium priced blog. I recommend a self-hosted wordpress blog for as low as $500!
  • Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – These social media sites allow you to put up a profile, communicate with your customers and friends, post links to your blog posts and set up FREE event notifications. They allow you to build a community around your brand and I can’t tell you how many referrals I have businesses get while watching my “friends”. If you would like to find out more, check out our social networking video series (not free but VERY affordable!)
  • FREE Websiteswww.wetpaint.com, www.squidoo.com and other sites will allow you to put a free page on the subject of your choice. When I was a realtor in Dunedin Florida a few years ago I put up this page, years later it is still there AND if you do a search on Squidoo for Dunedin real estate, my page is the only page. Do a search for Dunedin screen printing and NOTHING comes up, same for Dunedin Lawyer, Accountant, and cleaning. Imagine if you had the Tampa Bay area sewn up for your local business? What would that do for your bottom line? AND google LOVES these sites!

So these are my three best FREE marketing ideas. They cost you nothing but time and provide BIG results! If you have some other free ideas let me know in the comments…:)

Social Networking Will Replace Google?

So why do I think social networking will replace google and how does that make this post a followup to telling the truth? (I wrote a post a couple of days ago about why I think that telling the truth is the best way to conduct business!)

Firstly, I attended a Jeffery Gitomer training session and he said that “truth” is going to be the new standard for business and he cited the Enron bunch as people who scammed the system and got caught, much to the detriment of their businesses. Well that training was BEFORE the huge financial meltdown that has occurred because of what is perceived as Wall Street defrauding the public.

Secondly, I then attended a training session (I get A LOT of training!) where a tech guy said that google will be irrelevant in 5 years. GOOGLE and IRRELEVANT in the same sentence? How can that be?!?!?! Well it just so happens I agree with him to a point. I DO think people will still “Google” you to see if you are who you say you are, BUT I also think that social networking will become so large that if you need a referral you will just ask someone you know – online!

Many of my online “friends” I have never met in person but I trust them and their judgement. If I needed a plumber here in Colorado (I am new), I would NOT go to the yellow pages OR google, I would ask my online realtor friends if they had a good referral! If I needed a dentist, doctor, printer, good travel agent, ANYTHING, I would ask my “friends” first. And as more and more people join these networks it will become more apparent that goole will be less attractive and referrals more-so.

So have you googled yourself lately in relation to your business? Does it show you? Check out “Tara Jacobsen Marketing” and you will see LOTS of entries that show that I am who I say I am on google – that is a very good thing!

How To Be A Successful Entrepreneur – Always tell the truth!

Successful entrepreneurs come in all styles! Donald Trump is RUTHLESS, Martha Stewart is OBSESSED and my all time favorite Seth Godin ALWAYS tells the truth. Even when it is inconvenient! I read a recent post he had that talked about how what you say, what you do and who you are should all be the same thing. I AGREE!

In the new world of the interweb, it is easier than ever to find out if someone is trying to “SELL” you something.

I overheard a funny conversation the other day at networking where two women were talking about the difference between a seasoned insurance salesman who takes the time to find out what you need and the rookie who jumps on you and says you need what he has to sell!

As many of you know, I recently moved from Florida and down there Brighthouse Cable and DSL has ads all over the airwaves with the tagline, “It’s All About You” which segue right into the same old marketing. Someone must have told their advertising agency that this is the new important thing, without telling them to fix their customer service department. Here is Broadband Reports, a stand alone website that allows users to review Brighthouse. Overall the service gets an OK but everyone had trouble with Tech Support. So Marketing gets more and more customers who leave out the back door because of poor service.

As a successful entrepreneur, I will tell you that the most valuable thing I have in my business is my reputation for always telling the truth! I never recommend a service or group that I do not believe will benefit either an individual or my online social networks. I never spam. I never try to make a quick buck just because I have a list of people I can email to.

You shouldn’t either. You shouldn’t sell something to someone that you know is not a good fit. Your prospect can tell in a heartbeat if you are talking with “commission breath” and will run from you and never look back. Instead, what if you tell the truth, say it won’t work for them AND THEN get 3 referrals for people it might work for?!?!

Marketing Planning for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are strange creatures! We hop from great idea to great idea, often not stopping to dig into how to actually DO the last great thing. Well I have the secret to stop the entrepreneurial madness – do the first thing first!

I know, that is not glamorous. There are no shiny pieces or exciting opportunities. All that will happen is that you will get something done! 

Here are some first steps for different marketing opportunities I know entrepreneurs are interested in (I talk to lots of them EVERY day):

Starting a Blog for Entrepreneurs

Starting a blog is NOT hard, there are tons of free platforms for people to use like www.wordpress.org and www.blogger.com. These are GREAT for business owners if all you want to do is have a brochure site and interact with people. The thing that it will not let you do (easily) is generate leads. It is very hard to integrate forms to feed your database.

You guys know I am all about feeding your database, right? SO if you are going to use your blog for business, I would recommend a self hosted wordpress blog! The cost of having someone set one up for you is about $500 including 5 blog posts and all your normal pages written for you (About us, contact us, etc.). There are also hosting and domain costs, I like godaddy.com for this – they cost about $75 for both for a year. So for under $600 you can have a fully functional blog up in a couple of weeks. If you would like to learn more…visit www.businesswritingink.com and talk with my friend Mary Dado about how to get started! That is your first step!

Social Networking for Entrepreneurs

Everyone keeps hearing how using social media will grow your business but how do you get started? Sign up for an account at Facebook or Linked In or any other site and start making friends! I have included links to ones that I am a part of and, since I am a friendly girl, will ALWAYS accept your request to connect if you are a business person!

So how do you get people to join your networks? Here are some ways that I use!

I will be talking about these more in the coming weeks, BUT if you like what you see here, make sure you sign up for my Marketing Newsletter for Entrepreneurs – my readers got this info days ago and got about 5X as much of it!!

Small Business Solutions – Obstacle Illusions

When I think of small business marketing solutions like our Thrive Client Contact Program, I am reminded that if you do not implement your technology it is worthless! I read the other day that a good open rate for free email newsletters is 30% and that a good open rate for PAID email newsletters is 50%. HALF OF THE PEOPLE who pay are not even opening the message!!

So what are Obstacle Illusions? I think, as humans, we often look for ways NOT to do something rather than just buckling down and getting to it. Look at April 15th – until legally FORCED to submit their taxes, most Americans will wait and send them in at the last possible moment (some even wait until 11:59pm). 

When it comes to Marketing I see LOTS of obstacle illusions…

Rule: You must send out your direct mail piece on Thursday. It seems to me that some people think that their marketing message will die a horrible unproductive death if it is not going out on Thursday. I can tell you that I have sent out direct mail pieces every day of the week and gotten great results – mostly better than anyone else because I actually sent something. If you have to send out your message on Thursday and you don’t get it out, you have just delayed your mailing a week. Then it is Thanksgiving so you can’t set out your message the next Thursday. Then the last week of November is a bad time to send out your message. Then you want to be poised to send your message the EXACT right time before Christmas but that doesn’t fall on Thursday this year….arggggggggggg! In the meantime, I have sent out 3 imperfectly timed messages and gotten more clients!!!

Another thing I see a lot is that their small business marketing database is not ready yet. It is not perfect. Some people don’t have emails. Some people don’t have direct mail addresses. The categories have been defined yet. I spoke with an agent yesterday who hasn’t sent an email yet because he isn’t ready. READY FOR WHAT? Cut and paste the Thrive info into an email and send it!!! Do it half-way but DO IT. 

If you are waiting for something to be perfect, I have a newsflash – it will never be perfect! Send out a message with a typo and be okay with it – I can guarantee that one of your readers will CALL YOU and tell you there was a typo. Talk to that person and make a sale!

Thanks to Dave Jenks (of Millionaire Real Estate Agent fame) who wrote a post about how it has to get worse before it gets better which made me think of this great idea!!!

Tracking your statistics – How can that help?

So I had a small business marketing seminar a couple of weeks ago with a focus on real estate professionals like Realtors, Mortgage Bankers, and marketing experts. One of the Realtors who attended (Cyndee Haydon – Clearwater Real Estate Specialist) has been tracking her numbers since the seminar and she is setting the world on fire! Her leads are qualified, consistent and…holy cow there are LOTS of them!!!

Now I cannot take any credit for the number of leads or the quality of them or even how she has developed the system to manage all these leads. What I can humbly attest to – Cyndee is now able to hyper-focus on dollar productive things that she needs to do and all the rest is just fluff. She is NOT answering stray and random buyer calls anymore. She is NOT spending tons of time with unqualified buyers. She IS focusing on her strengths which are generating leads, blogging, networking and all the other things that she is good at and likes!

My heart is SO happy! Not only has Cyndee focused her business, but she tracks her stats so she knows how far she has come! She knows how many leads, where they came from, where they went AND will be following them to see the conversion to clients. If you do not track these numbers you will never know if you are getting better!!!

Just hearing that today made me want to be a better person and track my leads more! I am currently blogging between 1-2 times per day, everyday for a month (which will get ME more leads…:) but the next thing I am doing is setting goals and tracking ALL my leads!! How about you?

Small Business Marketing – Are You Selling The Steak Or The Sizzle?

Small Business Marketers are Selling The Steak Instead Of Selling the Sizzle!

What the heck does that mean? Well it means that as humans it is SO much easier for us to sell the features of a product than to figure out the benefits to our target audience. For myself, it is easier to tell you that with our Small Business Social Media Marketing Services you get a complete website and social media package than it is to “sell” you on all the benefits like increased sales, more exposure to potential clients and more leads.

I have tried for a couple of months to figure out how to get this message out since I am not great at sizzling, so why am I writing this post? Because I saw a BRILLIANT commercial this weekend. You tell which is steak and which is sizzle…

The carefully selected, high quality ingredients in Purinaa® Dog Chow® brand Dog Food Complete & Balanced provide 100% of the essential nutrients your dog needs to help stay happy, healthy and satisfied throughout his long, healthy life.

  • Contains 23 vitamins and minerals
  • Formulated with high quality protein
  • Great Taste

HMMMM…VITAMINS AND MINERALS ARE GOOD, PROTEIN IS GOOD

or

A groundbreaking 14-year study by Purina researchers showed that dogs fed to an ideal body condition** throughout their lives had a median life span of 1.8 years longer – and were considerably healthier – than their littermates.* And although the dogs in the study generally developed the same health conditions as they aged, treatment for those conditions was delayed approximately two years for the lean-fed dogs.

MY DOG WILL LIVE 2 YEARS LONGER? I LOVE MY DOG – I WANT THAT!!!!

Make sure you take a look at your small business marketing, are you selling steak or sizzle? Have a non-industry friend look at your marketing, see if they would be excited to buy you product if they didn’t know you! Post your link on Facebook and ask your online friends if they would buy it. DO NOT be sad if you get criticism – just take that and fix it!

If you would like me and my readers to take a peek at your info and be blatantly honest, add a link here and we will all help (beat up on you)!

Marketing Planning Seminar for Real Estate

BE PART OF THIS AMAZING OPPORTUNITY TO
GROW YOUR REAL ESTATE BUSINESS!

This one-day Marketing Planning Seminar for Realtors, Title Companies and Mortgage Professionals will help you focus on the activities that will help you establish your brand, grow your business, get new clients and generate leads for your business.

Marketing Guru Tara Jacobsen will take you through the steps to take to make a marketing plan that works with YOUR business. Some topics we will cover include:   

Finding your perfect customers
Developing a mission statement
Building your brand
Online and offline marketing ideas
Lead generating ideas

You WILL leave the class with a detailed plan for how to grow your business!

SEATING IS LIMITED TO 25 ATTENDEES – Don’t miss your chance to change your business!

PLUS – As a bonus, everyone who attends will get a FREE copy of “How To Service Your Listings” AND the special report “100 Things To Do To Sell Your Listings” (A $30 Value)!

When: February 6th from 9-1
Where: Integrity First Funding Group
1237 Lady Marion Lane
Dundedin FL 34698
Cost: $25

NAR 2008 – A Marketing Perspective

The Swag Winner Is……………..

Swag is the “stuff” that companies give away at their trade show booths. It can be as bland as a pen or as exciting as a brand new car, but in general is something that will help draw people to your tradeshow booth or help them remember your company after the show.

At the NAR (National Association of Realtors) 2008 show held in Orlando, Florida I picked up some great swag! Using a totally non-scientific method I have declared Chelsea Title Company the 2008 Best Swag Winner! They had MULTIPLE great items at their booth – a truly amazing selection!

Best of Show – My favorite item was a glasses cleaner stuck into an itty bitty holder that I can hook on my keyring or anywhere else handy. Ticor Title Company had a similar item at the show.

Chelsea Title Company

First Runner Up – A tire gauge! In this time of soaring gas prices, having your tires inflated the proper amount can save you big bucks!

Second Runner Up – A carabiner with a compass attached. Great for a keyring and not getting lost – my husband was super excited about it!

Totally Fun And Useless – These pens from Pitney Bowes are super fun! They are cute and have little bobbly heads!

Most Useful Tool – Realtors are predominantly women or they are men with wives. A great giveaway that everyone likes! American Home Warranty had the prettiest ones at the show!

Listingbook - (who I contract to teach for) had dashboard sticky holders.  Listingbook website link

Wise Agent – Wise Agent was there! They have a super great product and offer affordable prices!! If you use them make sure to tell them that Mudly68 sent you!!!

First Home Tour – I have used First Home Tour for years. They offer unlimited tours for $29/month and have GREAT customer service!!! I got to meet Kate who I have talked to a couple of times, these things are great for putting names to faces!

What makes you a expert? Small Business Success!

Small business success! So you think you are an expert? Who says? Sometimes people are “crowned” an expert on TV, Doctors are experts through training and education, and sometimes you can join a business association or get a designation within your industry.

More often than not though, it is what you DO that makes you an expert!

Books – Conventional wisdom says that if you want to become an expert on something read 3 books. That seems a little light to me BUT if you read three books and it sparks you to read 2 magazines and visit 5 associated websites AND talk to a human, I think you can consider yourself an expert.

Time – If you like something for long enough you will be come and expert! My father has a VW “Thing”. It is old and he doesn’t drive it very often BUT he has had it for a while so he has gone to VW meetups, he gets catalogs, he has read A LOT about it, he used to get a VW magazine. He knows A LOT about an obscure car that few people care about.

Interest – We think of computer guys as nerds, they think of themselves as geeks! They are REALLY interested in computers and how to make them work. They have websites like SlashDot.com where they can gather for the latest geeky news. They have causes like “Open Source” which means that everyone can contribute to programs to make them better because they have access to the source code. The great programmers that I know have rarely taken a computer science class. They don’t have time for it because they are too busy playing around on their computers!

Channels – You can even PICK what you might be interested in! I work with two great realtors who have decided to focus on Short Sales. Julia Fishel (The Pinellas Peach) works these in the Palm Harbor area and Deb Ward who works them in the middle of Pinellas County (ComeToClearwater.com). The interesting thing is that they are only about 10 miles apart BUT because of the nature of real estate are not direct competitors! Both have taken every class they can to learn about the current rules of short sales, they have found a great title company who can support them (Star Title) and they are actively looking for that kind of work!

Because I Said So – This is the one that seems the hardest to get a handle on! To be an expert, you just have to say that you are an expert and it will become so. If people think you are an expert, it makes you want to find out more about your chosen topic so you don’t look like a schmoe when people ask you about it. You will start to get mail about that subject. You should start a blog. You could join an association. But most of all the universe will say “dang this woman likes marketing and training, let’s give her some opportunities to do both!”.

Do Something – Make sure to do something (preferably everyday) that reinforces your expertise, write a blog post, attend an event where you tell people what you do, send out a direct mail piece that tells people what you do, SING IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!

Convergence – When Need Meets Timing!

So, I know that you have all been thinking about Convergence and what it means to your business? Right? Okay, well maybe not but it is important to your sales!

I was talking with a small business owner the other day and she said she felt more comfortable in a consultative role with her clients (her semi-exact quote is “I have never SOLD anyone anything, I help them figure out their needs and then help them achieve them”.

Well I think we can all benefit from that attitude, but at the end of the day EVERY business owner has to sell something to survive! From the top of wall street to the small business owner, we are in business to SELL something!

Okay, how does convergence matter to selling? Convergence (according to Wikipedia} “denotes the approach toward a definite value, as time goes on; or to a definite point, a common view or opinion, or toward a fixed or equilibrium state.” Holy buckets batman! What it means to me is the meeting of needs with a product.

As you can see in the graphic below, it is a movement from satisfaction with the status quo on through some pain to a buying decision. 

Convergence Slide
Convergence Slide

How about some example to clear things up!

Grocery Stores – In my area we used to have Albertson’s grocery stores. Now given a choice of ALL the grocery stores around the country, I would choose Wegmans but they are not in my area so I used to shop at Albertsons. I was in the green light for Albertsons. If they stayed the way they were, offering low prices, specials and half way decent service I would have continued to shop there indefinitely. They closed – sigh. So now I have to find a new grocery store (pain) and so I chose Publix. Not as cheap, cleaner and better service.

Web Browsers – I used Internet Explorer and Firefox until recently (these are different programs for accessing the internet). About a month ago Firefox did an update (that I hated) about the same time as Google offered a new browser Chrome. Well I tried the new browser and I like it! It has some great google features in addition to all the things that I had liked about Firefox. I would NOT have been in the market for a new browser had Firefox not made my back button big (I know – a stupid reason to switch) but since I was, Chrome came out at a good time for me to adopt it.

Homebuyers – My husband and I are considering moving to Colorado (our move is NOT a sure thing at this point) so I am going on websites to try and see what houses are available in the couple of towns we think we MIGHT like to live in. I DO NOT need to talk to a realtor at this point so I have not registered with any websites. I am in the green area of need, but there is no pain. Say that Johnny’s transfer comes through and he moves out there ahead of me, leaving me with 2 dogs, a cat, a mother-in-law and 2 more dogs. THAT IS PAIN! I will be SERIOUSLY motivated to find a realtor – RIGHT NOW – and get house hunting.

In each of these cases a change happens to the status quo of a buyer’s life. It is VERY hard to make enough noise in the marketplace to cause a change to people who are satisfied with a product that is working great for them BUT if they have a broken product or system OR no product or system and pain happens, they will be looking for help. 

This is where you come in with your direct mail, websites and emails. If you have been talking to that person about how your product, service or store can help them solve their problems, you can capitalize on their need! If you have built a great website that is easy to find on the search engines with lots of information about your product, services or store, they will find you and approach you for help. 

Make sure your marketing house is in order so that you can capitalize on changes in the marketplace that will occur in your favor! Advertise to people who MIGHT need your services so that when they DO need your services you are ready to sell them something!

Marketers Need To Provide Information!

So these last couple of weeks have hit the nation hard. I have heard “on the TV” that there are no loans available – no car loans, no mortgages, that the banks are going to rescind all the outstanding credit lines on credit cards, that my FICO score will drop because the bank is rescindingmy credit line AND that I will not be able to buy gas.

WOW. That does NOT seem like a good thing.

That having been said, what we need to do as marketers is to get some facts into the market about mortgages, home prices and banks.

I am NOT an economist and do not EVER want to be one, but I know some feet on the street bankers who can get me information. I asked Brian P. Forrester of Tri-County for something that I could send out to my clients to reassure them. NOT to blow sunshine under their skirts but REAL information to combat the talking heads on TV. According to Brian:

I want you to know that there are many banks out there who were more conservative in their lending practices that are still here and ready to lend money to your customers.  Also, now that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have settled down, they are performing as they were originally chartered to do, by providing money for banks to lend to consumers. 

I would expect a little more tightening in guidelines going forward as all of this plays out, but as I have always said, if you have a job, can prove your income, have some money for down payment (as little as 3%), and fair credit, you can get a loan. 

He has great ongoing information about the lending industry on his blog www.mortgagecommunicationspot.com. 

So what does that mean to me as a marketer (and a human)? We need to combat misinformation with facts. The fact that there are loans, and that the economy has not shut down. 

Go to your trusted sources, get quotes like this one and send them to your clients. I have a financial planner who is a great economist but not a great marketer. I feel like I am hanging out in the wind since he has not sent me any information about what my 401Ks are doing, or even just some general reassurances that I am safe in keeping my money with him.

Don’t leave your clients swinging in the wind. Call your sellers and let them know that there are loans, call your buyers and let them know there are loans, and then email your ENTIRE database with facts about what is going on with the market, where we are now and let them know you will keep them apprised in the future. Be an expert and a professional.

If you are a realtor, send out information relating to the real estate and mortgage market. If you are a mortgage banker or broker, an insurance agent, a financial planner, an accountant, etc., offer your information to anyone you come accross who has access to humans (that is everyone BTW). Become a trusted source for information and you will help your business connections communicate with their clients more effectively.

Bad Marketing Hurts Everyone – Email Edition

Ever heard of Phishing? It is like fishing but for email! I just got an email from “Mike” who looked like a friend and who was recommending a program to go along with “The Secret”.

Now I have friends named Mike (doesn’t everyone – that is the point) BUT my email program did NOT recognize this guy. I did a google search for his email and got nowhere. I did a seach for the 800# in his message and got nowhere.

He references a website but has not link or address. He also talks about things that would interest a realtor and references the bad market.  His signature has generic Coldwell Banker contact info.

NOW – I may LOVE the link that he directs me to but I will never know. I REFUSE to click on it as that is the point for lying to me about who he is and that he is my buddy Mike. AND you never know – it may lead to a computer virus. Just take a second to look at your email before clicking away. Think about if it is a trusted source or just a phisherman!!

Here is the copy of that email -

From Mike <realtormike1952@yahoo.com>
To Tara <tara@cometoclearwater.com>
date Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 9:17 AM
subject the secret
mailed-by bounce.secureserver.net  

Hi Tara how is business? Listen didn’t you tell me about that book – The Secret? Just ordered their program for my wife http://thesgrprogram.com/?a_aid=c9e0de82 and thought you might be interested too. She’s totally into it and will attend Bob Proctor seminar at the end of the month! Perhaps this will help us get through this Real Estate disaster :) take care!

Mike

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Broker 30 Year Expert
CRS, SRES, NOTARY, QSC
800-840-4480 Toll Free
Fax 800-325-2444
“Showcasing Your Home”
More Advertising and Exposure

Visit my web site for a full resume and Marketing Plan for your Home and Search for a Dream Home.

Selling Cat Books to Real Men!

So I had an epiphanie the other day! I was driving along and noticed a very attractive man walking along the side of the road. He was obviously a he-man and spent time lifting weights and taking care of himself. He was sauntering along taking in the day and enjoying himself.

At the same time I was listenting to an ebook that was saying that they would never “read a book where a cat solved a mystery”. I LOVE BOOKS where cats solve mysteries!!! BUT I thought “that that guy would NEVER buy a book with a mystery solving cat”!

I could spend days, years and a million dollars selling cat loving, mystery solving books to that guy and he would still NEVER buy one!

 

Courtesy JWinfred
He will NOT buy a mystery solving cat book!

Make sure you know who your target market is – if you are a middle aged, fun loving woman, DO NOT try to act cool and reach teenagers on their level – you will just make a complete jerk of yourself! If you are a starched shirted, businessman – DO NOT try to be one of the girls, you will make a complete jerk of yourself!

 

Make sure you know who your target customer is and that you are not trying to put a round peg in a square hole!

Nobody Told Me THIS About Active Rain!

So I was surfing around this morning and somehow got to the Active Rain website. For those of you who do not know what Active Rain is, it is a real estate site where agents can list their services, set up a blog and connect with other agents, sellers and buyers. I had NOT signed up for this service until today and still have reservations about putting my information and efforts into somewhere that has LOTS of other realtors, but that is a discussion for another day.

PG 13 Warning – Do not read any further gentle readers unless you want to experience the carnage of rampant competitive megalomania!

What no one ever told me is that it is NOT a popularity contest like Facebook or those other networking sites (I am not all that interested in being popular). It is a good old fashioned BRAWL to get the most points! You get points for all kinds of things and can “WIN” if you get the most points! Well I am always up for trying to win contests so I got started right away!

When I started I had 0 Points and was ranked 81 for Clearwater, FL (as there are only 81 realtors listed on Active Rain for Clearwater, I was NOT in a good position!). Then I added my picture to my profile, did some other fun things like adding Testimonials, an About Us overview, etc. and I was off to the races! I currently have 986 points and am ranked 22 – yahoo!!!! I also added a link to Active Rain from my website which will push me up to 1486 after they review my link over the next 4-6 days. I calculate that this will push me up to 1498 points and number 14 (just above Jack Johnson – a GREAT Keller Williams agent).

AND I haven’t even written a blog post yet! I am on fire here!!!!

Now to add some sense of reality here -My new pal Cyndee Hayden is the top dog Realtor for Clearwater, FL and has had great success using the service (and other online means) for lead generating. She has 226735 points – that’s right over TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND! Dang.

Anyways – if you are a realtor and are not at least considering adding this to your arsenal of online spots, consider it now! It took about 20 minutes and could add to your book of business (at the very least it can’t hurt!)

PS – if you sign up using this link http://activerain.com/action/referrals/taradactyl I can get even more points! (I just need another 200 points to beat the next guys on the list and slip into lucky number 13! – Being aware that you have a problem is supposed to be the first step in fixing it, right?)

Relevancy and Niches

I got an email last night from a lady who runs the ABC School of Polish. She seemed VERY polite and offered to put a link to my site on her site if I put link to her site on mine.

On the face of it, this seems like a good idea, you can never have too many links right? Also, I did attend the Polish National Alliance College in Cambridge Springs, PA for a couple of years so I like the whole Polish concept (subsequently the college was shut down and turned into a women’s prison, guess I got out of there just in time!)

BUT, here’s the kicker. What is in for me OR them to have a link to each other’s sites. I do not think that people who are looking for great Polish holidays are going to come from my marketing website. I also do not think that people who are thinking about taking Polish classes or going on holiday are going to suddenly have a yearning to learn more about niche marketing.

This practice is called link building and is designed to trick the search engines into thinking that you are VERY popular world wide, with links from all over the globe. The search engines can figure this trick out easily, but more important, people visiting my site can figure out that I have a huge links page with nothing relevant to marketing and leave (I hate when people leave!)

If you are going to exchange links with people, make sure they are a complimentary site. I could link to mail houses, printing companies, articles about advertising, niche marketing tips and tricks, realtor websites, internet marketing sites, etc. which would INCREASE my relevancy in the search engines…rather than just adding another anonymous link.

So Anna, thank you for your kind offer but count me out. I would rather have one good link than 100 mediocre links diluting my brand!

Rant Alert – Packaging!

I was just thinking about packaging today and my marketing mentor (Seth of course) wrote a great post about it!

There is NO reason for for huge globs of plastic to surround products that we purchase. I HATE when you buy something and then have to take 15 minutes to get it freed from it’s nuclear bomb proof package. My husband hates it too! Not because he objects to that type of packaging, but because of the 2-3 hours of grousing that comes along with it (that would be me!)

I also have a HUGE problem with tiny things that come in big packages. If they are that worried that I will steal something they should put it in a locked case or just put a chip in it that makes a huge noise when I leave the store.  I have heard a rumor that the RFID chips in things will eventually be able to associate what I usually by with what I might like to buy and offer suggestions. If manufacturers are that smart they should be able to make a product that I can open without a blowtorch and a fire ax!

Another thing that makes me crazy is the packing within a package. My husband buys cigars that come individually encased in hard plastic tubes WITHIN a plastic wrapped container and tray. Now if he was buying them for hundreds of dollars each I could understand the concept BUT they sell for under $5 for a pack of 4! (As you can tell my manic zeal for marketing and packaging excellence has yet to have an appreciable effect on my spouse BUT someday maybe….:)

On a brighter note, I am SO glad that they are selling the reusable bags at the grocery store to use instead of the plastic bags! I totally dig the concept and personally have about 25 of them since I buy them everytime I go – I am a forgetful person and do not remember until that they are in the car or my home until I am in the checkout line. I am starting to have concerns that I have personally killed more trees by buying reusable bags than I have saved by not using plastic bags!

Thank you for letting me vent – we will resume our regular programming shortly!

Small Businessses – How To Survive In A Down Market

I have a great admiration for small business owners! The entrepreneurial inspiration hits and they are ready to go out in the world and start selling (either products or services).

I am currently doing work for a fabulous mortgage banker, Brian P. Forrester (who is honest and hardworking and doing great right now, despite the downturn his entire market has taken), some STUPENDOUS realtors, a great friend and business partner Tammy Leventis at Mail Marketing and some other start up small businesses.

All are making it happen in a market that is not easy and getting harder by the day. BUT they have decided that a downturn in the market is a great time to increase their market share through branding and exposing themselves to the market with a focused message!

What are some things you can do to make an impact? Here are my top ten! I know – you have heard of these before. There is no magic here, just common sense.

  1. Have a website or blog that allows you to communicate with other people – this is the most affordable and user friendly way to make an impact right now. People ARE looking for your services and products online, can they find you?
  2. Make sure your business card is distinct and DOES NOT have a hundred ways to contact you – one number, one email, address and fax – anything else confuses the user and they do not know which means to use to get a hold of you!!!
  3. Have a brochure – This should list a little about you and then have your services. It provides a way for people to learn about what you offer without you having to tell them.
  4. Contact your clients (part 1 CALL THEM) - These are people you work with or have in the past. They should like and respect you. They should refer you to their friends. If they do not like you, take them out of your database and free your soul for people to work with who DO like you. Now call them. They like you, remember, and will NOT be offended if you pick up the phone to communicate with them. Have something interesting to say, say it, tell them you like them too, ask for a referral or two, hang up. See how easy that was!
  5. Contact your clients (part 2 MAIL THEM) – Anyone who knows me knows this is MUCH easier for me than calling (I don’t talk to people on the phone normally). Mailing stuff to people works. You can send them a postcard with your services or testimonials or information. You can send them newsletters or great articles you have found that are relevant to your industry. You can even send them recipe cards (I CANNOT believe I just said that!!!…:) BUT whatever you do, send them something on a regular basis.
  6. Contact your clients (part 3 EMAIL THEM) – All of us get emails every day. We take the time to read those that are personal and from friends and contacts who we KNOW are going to be interesting and relevant. This is the opposite of the mailing someone, sending just anything will not do. You risk being added to the spam list or removed from their approved email list EVERY time you send something. DO NOT send recipe emails if you are a pest control company, do not send funny emails if you are a mortician, DO send emails that are timely and will ADD to your readers knowledge or life. DO NOT spam people.
  7. Send personal notes – When you get a personal note it makes you feel nice. You know someone has taken the time to think of you, put pen to paper and then added a stamp. They have walked to the mail box or drop off point. Make sure your personal notecards are professional. They can brand your company or have inspirational quotes or just be pretty. They DO NOT have to be long, just a sentance or two to let someone know you have thought of them. DO NOT send personal notes from a mass mail company, it is disingenuous.
  8. Network - Go to events with your co-workers, go to Charity functions, go to sporting events, amusement parks, open houses. Go to service clubs and formal networking events. When someone asks you if you want to do something, say yes. Ask someone you do not normally spend time with to lunch and learn more about them. Make time to talk to your friends. In today’s world we hear constantly about time management, but we rarely here about making time for people. Listen to them, most are really interesting.
  9. Do what you say you are going to – The best indication that you are going to succeed is doing what you say you will. DO NOT promise a turn around time of 1 day if something takes 3 days. Under promise and over deliver. Do more than you said you would. Surprise someone with something they did not expect. Ask what your customer wants and give them that.
  10. DRUMROLL PLEASE – Get a Niche (or two) – Figure out what you do well and do that more. Give the general public a way to catagorize you in their mind so that they can refer people to you. Give great customer service, market their home to 20 different places, capitalize on your Irish-ness, specialize in Investors, work a farm, always start your appointments on time, be a stable influence in unstable times, focus on golfers, bowlers, non-profits or car dealers.

Thanks for listening.

Hire Who? Hire You!

So I was reading a blog post this week about asking for business*. Basically the author said that too many times online we have all this great information available and OF COURSE someone would know to send you an email to request your services! But do you ask them directly? Do you ask for the business the way that you would if you were face to face? I always joked around about “three copies press hard”, meaning that I was staying until I got a listing agreement unless it was a listing I wanted to turn down.

I am also very good in person about explaining the next steps in the process. “After we do the analysis of your needs I will send you a written inspection report by Tuesday” or “I will call you on Thursday to set up a time for the photographer to come out”.  Online we forget to set expectations and so sometimes inadvertantly disappoint people who are expecting a certain level of service. If your auto responder says you will get back within the next 24 hours and fail to mention that you take weekends off, they could be VERY put out when you answer their Friday email on Monday morning!

This time I have practiced what I am preaching! I have added a “Hire Me” button and listed some of my services. In the future I will have a cool email form with a dropdown box so they can tell me exactly what they are interested in and I can capture their contact information BUT for now at least they know I want them to call me! I will also have additional products  with cool links to flyers so they can see everything I have to offer, but what if they want to hire me before then?

DO NOT wait until everything is perfect before you start. Start today. I am including a variety of “hire me” buttons for you to use on your site! Please feel free to copy any of them and put it on your site so someone can hire YOU! All I ask is that you post a comment here so we can all see your site with the “hire me” button!!!!

hire me button

hire me button
hire me button
hire me button
hire me button

* If it was your post please let me know and I will add a link!!!!

Things you should NEVER do!

I hear a lot of rules when it comes to marketing. I break some of them and am still alive and you can be too!

Rule 1 – Never change your look. If you pick a logo and outgrow it you are stuck with it forever. You should NEVER change it. That puts A LOT of pressure on a new business. There are numerous examples of how logos have changed over the years to update them for the times. One of my favorite changers is UPS. They made a number of logo changes and still seem to be able to deliver packages. While they are a big company and the changes were somewhat radical you can still tell that the logo represents the same company. Do not stick with a bad logo if you are unhappy, hire a designer and change it until you are thrilled with the results!

Rule 2 – Changing your name to update it for the times. I know this seems counter to the last rule but bear with me for a moment. When we were working on a project I found out through the grapevine that a long term company had changed its name to Enodis. This took a couple of wonderfully named companies like Berisford and Welbilt and turned them into a word that is hard to spell and doesn’t mean anything in modern times. I kid you not, according to their ENO Annual and Transition Report (foreign private issuer) (20-F) Item 4. Information on the Company for the 2000:

In fiscal 2000, we took steps to consolidate our equipment and service brands under the global Enodis(TM) brand umbrella. Our new name, Enodis, is based on a Latin word that may be translated as “solution provider.” We adopted the new name to reflect our commitment to meet our customers’ needs, through a comprehensive package of products and services, with equipment and technology solutions.

I hate made up words. Enough said except that they paid A LOT of money for that advice.

Rule 3 – You need to be VERY careful and make sure that everything you send out is perfict. I misspelled “perfect” and lived. I have sent out some dinky postcards that had a mistake and you know what happened? People called me to tell me I had a typo. That is right, they called me. They did not think that I am a degenerate and unworthy of love. They did not fire me and tell me that I could no longer represent them in their real estate transactions. Now don’t get me wrong, our brochures are immaculate and without errors or I reorder them. Our business cards have the correct phone numbers on them and our postcards have the correct dates of upcoming events. I am not suggesting a free for all with no spell checking! What I am suggesting is that you can spend so much time making sure something is perfect that it never gets sent. Send out informative pieces to people who are interested in what you have to say and they will cut you some slack, even if you are human and make a mistake!

Seth Says…Gobble Up Market Share

Okay so I got a shock when I saw Seth’s post today – he told me to quit being a realtor! Luckily I continued on and found that what he meant was to quit being a “normal” realtor. The ones with the picture on their business cards who specialize in giving good service – good service is a cost of doing business NOT a feature!!

In our market the number of realtors has decreased by almost half from the all time high and using the 80/20 rule that means that we only have 1558 producing realtors in our market – whoo whoo! I have been fortunate to only sell during the last two years and have a heavy marketing background. I have high hopes and low expections that anyone will buy one of my listings in the first few days for full price (it has happened but it is not the norm!) I EXPECT to have to set myself apart from the crowd and to work hard to make my client’s listings shine.

Seth says…The first is to become the expert in what you do. Which means micro-specialization. Who is the single-best agent for condos in your zip code? Or for single family homes for large families?

 Ironically enough I just spoke last week with a realtor who has 10 children – wow does she need to be the big family realtor!  We sat down and went over marketing and positioning strategies, ways to establish herself as the expert and how to use her branding on all of her materials AND vehicle. AND most of what she needed to do was FREE! Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy but there were few costs associated with establishing herself as the expert in this area except for her time.

Figure out what makes you a special realtor or accountant or lawyer or car dealership and go big – make a stand and take your unfair share of the market!