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Smart Ways to Use Your Business Card

Successful networking is "all in the cards" with these 4 strategies.

Your business card is one of the most valuable networking tools you have in your quest for increased referrals. Can you envision a reality where 20 to 30 people in your word-of-mouth marketing circle carry your cards and have them ready to hand to prospects they're actually qualifying for you? I certainly can, and am excited every time I hear someone say, "Let me give you my friend's business card; oh, and by the way, may I have him (or her) give you a call?"

The business card is the most powerful single business tool--dollar for dollar--you can invest in. It's compact, energy-efficient, low-cost, low-tech, and keeps working for you hours, weeks and even years after it leaves your hands!

Some of the things your business card does is:

  • Tell people your name and the name of your business
  • Provide prospects with a way to contact you
  • Give others a taste of your work, style and personality
  • It can be so unusual or attractive or strange or charming or funny that it sticks in the memory like a great radio or television ad
  • It can be reused, as it passes from person to person, giving the same message to each person who comes in contact with it

The two main functions of your card are to gain business from the person you give it to and to get your name out to other people with whom the first person comes in contact with via referrals. With that in mind, let's take a look at the most effective ways to use your business cards. (For a complete look at how to make an effective business card, read It's in the Cards).

Make Your Cards Accessible in Every Situation
In short, don't leave home without them! It's a great idea to keep a small box of your cards in your glove box, just in case you find yourself in a situation where you need more than you've carried in your pocket or purse. In addition to my jacket pocket, I tuck them away in my briefcase, wallet and computer bag, just to make sure I never run out.

Keep an eye on your supply. The time to reorder is before you're in danger of running out.




In addition to being sure you have your cards on hand, be sure that your networking partners always have your cards. Check with them regularly to see if they need more, and be ready to provide them with whatever quantity they say they need in order to promote you.

Seek Situations to Exchange Business Cards
There are many opportunities in which you can pass on your card to prospective clients and customers as well as referral sources you wish to develop. Some are obvious; others are not. Whenever you have a one-on-one meeting with someone new or someone you haven't seen for a while, give her your business card. At mixers and social events, be sure you have plenty of cards when you go in. These are good places to extend the reach of your network.

Conventions and trade shows are another great venue for exchanging business cards. The vendors at the trade shows are anxious for you to take their card--don't make that a one-way street. Be sure you give them your card as well.

When you visit a non-competing business that might attract the same people you would like to have as customers, ask if you may leave a supply of cards to be handed out or made available. In most cases, a business that's complementary to your own is always looking for a networking partner. An example would be a sports nutritionist leaving a stack of cards at a martial arts studio. Be creative and consider even bringing your own cardholder to leave out.

International meetings and events can provide an opportunity to give out your business cards. Consider having your card printed double-sided, with English on one side and the language of the host country of the event on the other side.

Contacts at a Distance
Whenever you communicate with someone in writing, send a card if it's appropriate to the occasion. Enclose several cards in every packet of sales material you mail out. Along with your thank-you note to the businessperson whose referral brought you a major contract, include a business card to replace the one she gave away, plus several more.

After any telephone call in which business was discussed, follow up with a letter outlining the main points of your discussion and include one or more of your cards. E-mail is a great way to follow up, but a letter will actually allow you to include your business cards.

Special Tricks of the Trade
When giving out your card, hand-write something on one copy, such as your cell-phone number, a secondary e-mail address, etc. This will give that particular card a greater chance of being held onto. Be sure you give a couple of "clean" cards to that person, as well, and ask your new friend to pass one on to a potential customer.

After you get someone's card and have ended your time with her, make notes on the back of the card to jog your memory about something special that'll help you remember her. Don't do that in front of her, or you run the risk of making the impression that you are "forgetful." If you need to record information immediately during your discussion, such as telephone numbers or other data not on the card, use one of your own cards. You don't want her to think you view her card as scrap paper upon which to take notes.

At a restaurant, leave your card with the tip and write a personal thank-you note on the back or pay the highway toll for the Mercedes behind you, and leave your card for the driver!

The main thing when handing out your card is to keep in mind what an effective tool it can be. Take maximum advantage of its full potential. And never, ever, be caught out without it. And if you need a referral to a great graphic designer and printer, contact me--I have just the card for you!

Dr. Ivan Misner is Entrepreneur.com's "Networking" columnist and a New York Times bestselling author. He's also the founder and chairman of BNI, the world's largest referral organization with thousands of chapters in dozens of countries around the world. His latest book: Business Networking and Sex: Not What You Think.

 

Working well with others

 

A 20-year study at Stanford University examined the career paths of thousands of executives to determine the qualities they had developed that enabled them to move ahead rapidly. Researchers concluded that there were two primary skills that were indispensable for men and women who were promoted to positions of great responsibility.

The first was the ability to function well in a crisis. It was the ability of the executive to keep his or her cool when the company or the department faced serious challenges or setbacks. It was the ability to calmly analyze the facts, gather information, reach conclusions, make decisions, and then mobilize other people to respond effectively and solve the problem.

The second skill these fast-trackers had developed was the ability to use their knowledge and talents to contribute to the success of a group of people in accomplishing a specific, common goal. In other words, they knew how to function well as a member of a team.

In this sense, you and your spouse are a team. When you volunteer in any charitable organization, all the people you work with are members of a team. If you have a social circle and you plan activities together, you are functioning as a team. And, of course, you and your coworkers make up a team.

Over the last few decades, the concept of teamwork in business has been evolving.

We came out of World War II with a strict "command and control" mentality. Most of the heads of American corporations, large and small, had been military officers, of various ranks, during the war. They brought their training into the workplace. Their approach to management was the pyramid style, with the president at the top, the senior executives below him, the junior executives below them, and so on - all the way down to the workers and support staff who made up the base of the pyramid. The orders traveled in one direction: downward. Information filtered up slowly. People were expected to do their job, collect their paycheck, and be satisfied.

However, with the advent of the computer age and, thus, the increasing complexity of even the smallest business operation, this management approach is changing. Just about every employee now has critical skills and knowledge that contribute to the overall success of a business.

For example, in our office, our receptionist has been promoted to the position of "front-office manager." Some years ago, when I started in business, the job of the receptionist was to answer the telephone and direct the callers to the appropriate people. Today, however, her job is far more complicated.

Since she is the first contact most customers have with our business, her personality and temperament are extremely important. The prospective client who telephones begins forming an impression of us the instant the telephone is answered. Then, because we do so many things, she must tactfully ascertain exactly how the caller may be best served and who to direct the call to. She also handles requests for further information and follow-up phone calls.

Her ability to handle these calls effectively, to direct calls to the right people, to take accurate messages, and to act as the core person in a network of communications, makes her job so important that it is essential for her to sit in on all staff meetings and be aware of everything that is going on.

Your job, too, probably requires you to know a lot about what is going on in the rest of the company. And the fastest and most accurate way of keeping current is to develop and maintain a network of contacts, an informal team of people within your workplace who keep you informed and who you keep informed in turn.

The old methods of command and control now exist only at old-line companies, many of which are fighting for their very survival. Today, men and women want to thoroughly understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. People are no longer satisfied to be cogs in a big machine. They want to have an integral role in achieving goals that they participated in setting in the first place.




If you want to achieve anything of consequence in business, you need the help and cooperation of lots of people. Your main objective should be to structure everything you do in such a way that, because you are constantly cooperating and working well with others, they are continually open to helping you achieve your goals as well.

Remember, in all your interactions with your team, to be supportive and helpful. The best team players I have ever seen are those whose comments to the other members of the team are in the form of suggestions on how things can be done better. The best team members are always offering to help other people after the meeting to get on top of some aspect of their work. This focus on collaboration and cooperation is seen by everybody and marks you as a person to be both liked and respected.

Many men and women have kicked their careers into the stratosphere by taking on a small responsibility and doing such a good job with it that they came to the attention of important people both inside and outside their organizations.

Author:  Brian Tracy

 

Get Your Head In The Clouds: The Benefits of Cloud Technology For Small Businesses

Cloud storage is seen by many as a modern convenience that is helpful only on a personal level for dealing with multiple computers. This is false in both regards.

The concept of cloud computing was actually created in 1969 by prominent inventor J. Licklider, while mainstream integration of the product was completed in the late 90’s and early 00’s by Salesforce.com and Amazon. Clearly, this idea has been tried and tested through the trial of history.

Cloud technology can also be incredibly helpful for both individuals and small businesses. In fact, 64% of small businesses already use at least one piece of cloud-based software according to a survey taken by BCSG.

Efficiency

The most important effect that implementing cloud technology can have on your small business is increasing your efficiency. No matter what business you are involved in, whether it is a legal advice service, reseller, or even software development, using cloud storage for your files will increase efficiency.

Cloud storage increases your capability to work as a team on documents and files. Collaboration is made much easier of every person working on a project can easily change a document, and the rest can easily track what changes have been made and potentially reverse them if needed.

Additionally, cloud storage of files enables you to easily outsource tasks to freelance workers or give your employees the ability to work from home when necessary. This will increase your productivity and help with any morale problems.

Cost

Investment in cloud technology will also help you to reduce costs for your small business. Global IT spending is predicted to reach over $3.5 trillion by 2017, and a large part of this is produced as result of every business having its own dedicated IT system and help team.

You can avoid this inherently inefficient practice by using cloud technology for your business. There is no shortage of services dedicated to providing small businesses with cloud technology, especially cloud storage, and giving you support alongside.

This availability gives you an opportunity to minimise your IT costs, while retaining a similar level of support and make your business more efficient. Even in a simple event like moving offices, you will reduce moving costs by minimising physical servers that you need to transport.

Disaster Prevention

Cloud storage for your files can also provide you with stable storage for you data, especially in the face of potential disaster. 4.6 million data loss episodes are estimated to occur every year in the United States alone, and without comprehensive backups for your files any of these incidents could cripple your small business.

If you use cloud storage for your small business, it is easy to recover from any major data loss incident. This includes simple computer failure and physical disasters such as fires or flooding. All of this, for a fraction of the cost of having a physical backup and higher levels of convenience.

Overall, it is clearly a good idea for your small business to invest in cloud technology. It will give your business a level of efficiency and cost-effectiveness that cannot be otherwise achieved, alongside cheap yet good quality data protection on external servers.

Article by Jackie Photo by lionel abrial on Unsplash

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Upgrade Your Business With a Mobile-Friendly Website

We all know that times are a-changin’. That means many things for your business, and keeping it modern and up to date is absolutely critical for long-term success, especially when considering the harrowing fact that 90% of new businesses do not stay afloat. One of the most significant developments to take into account is how we actually view websites. A very significant shift took place recently, when mobile web usage overtook desktops for the first time and now nearly half of consumers will not revisit a website if it doesn’t load properly on their mobile devices.

Google has repeatedly warned website-owners of this change, and now even offers a test where you can see if your website is mobile-friendly. If you do not pass the Google test, implement the following tips to make your business website mobile-friendly, and therefore both accessible and relevant.

Responsive or Adaptive

Before stepping into the future of mobile-friendly design, first consider if you want a responsive or adaptive web design. The former is when your website “responds” to the device it is being viewed on, and then adjusts accordingly. The latter is when you create different website designs to accommodate different devices. While there are pros and cons to either option, most mobile-friendly websites incorporate responsive design. Make your choice.

Mobile-Friendly Templates

Regardless of how many interesting features your website may have, none of them are relevant if people cannot actually access them. It makes sense to start with the basics, which is your overall website template. No matter when you first launched your business site, there are so many designs available now that are created specifically to provide practical usability for mobile access, and the best part is, you never have to abandon desktop users, as the designs are meant to look great on any viewing platform! Upgrading your design template may even result in a fresher looking overall website too, which is always a plus!

Use High-Resolution Images

It’s not only the scale of a website that’s affected by the use of mobile devices - fortunately or perhaps unfortunately, so is picture quality. Just as you can now see a world of difference when watching television in HD, the same applies to photos on newer phone models. Considering the rise of high-definition screens, pictures you use on any professional website must be extremely high-resolution to avoid appearing pixelated or blurry, and therefore unprofessional, on mobile devices.

Never Settle

Never stop refining your website. There are so many add-ons and features being developed constantly, and by using and incorporating them, you can keep giving your website mini makeovers. Becoming mobile-friendly is the new standard. Keeping your website hip and modern is an ongoing process.

It doesn’t matter what your website is about - a restaurant, a bakery, a tailor shop or a business blog, if you want it to remain successful in this ever-changing world, you must adapt to stay relevant. With the constant increase of mobile users, make sure to follow the above steps in order to upgrade both your website and your business.

Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash,   Article by Jackie

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Create Your Own MBA Program

Pivotal university mba

 

Many small business owners are typically self-taught in the ways that make them successful. Most small business owners do not have an MBA, which actually is a good thing. Formal business education, specifically the typical MBA program, is geared more toward the large corporate environment and not the small business environment that agency owners operate in.

So, how would one design a two-year MBA program for the small business agency owner? The program is based on a trimester system and the students are required to read a book a month for two years. There will be six areas of study, with a bonus session to allow a concentration for the insurance industry. By the end of these two years, students will have the right information to operate a small business and be successful.

The key purpose of this program is to accelerate through the learning curve. Much of the information the students will learn has been around for a while and it works. Successful business owners do not re-invent the wheel. They take a proven idea and adapt it. This cuts out the time and expense of having to learn it on their own.

1. The first trimester focuses on understanding one self and others. What skills and knowledge are needed to be successful? All of these books are classics and three of them have been around for over 75 years. In order to be a great business owner, one needs to understand themself, as well as understand how best to relate to other people.

· 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Steve Covey

· How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

· Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

· The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Classen

2. The second trimester is an introduction to business and the philosophy of business. Most small business owners got into their business because they were good at what they did. Michael Gerber created the mantra of "Work on the business and not in the business," so his book is a must read. The other books will round out one's understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur and small business owner.

· The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

· Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It... and Why the Rest Don't by Verne Harnish

· Rework by Jason Fried

· The Personal MBA: Master the Art of businesss By Josh Kaufman

3. Sales and marketing is covered in the third trimester. The books in this session will go from the big picture of sales and marketing to the nitty-gritty details of how to do it. Sales people will like the books by Schley and Holmes and the marketing folks will hone in on the books by Heath and Gladwell.

· Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Don't by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

· The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

· The Micro-Script Rules: It's not what people hear. It's what they repeat... by Bill Schley

· The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes

4. Welcome to year two! The fourth trimester is all about management and leadership. Satisfied employees are critical to the success of a business. Some people are natural leaders while others can be great leaders with some training. The material and ideas in these books are practical and easy to learn.

· The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spenser Johnson

· The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams

· The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

· Drive by Daniel Pink

5. The fifth trimester focuses on an area that business owners easily get or perpetually struggle with - economics and business financials. Even if it is a turn off for some small business owners, it is still important that the basics are understood. Accounting is a subject that does not translate well to books, so that subject will be covered using online videos. There are many free videos that will cover both the basics and the details of accounting.

· Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy and Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell

· Financial Intelligence A Manager's Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean by Karen Berman and Joe Knight

· Various online videos on accounting

6. Now that the business is running, what is next? A successful business is not static; it undergoes constant change and improvement. The sixth trimester introduces philosophy of change and techniques on how to re-think the business operations.

· Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

· Who Moved My Cheese by Spenser Johnson

· What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith

· First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt W. Coffman

Congratulations! Reading these 23 books will provide information more valuable to the small business owner than taught in most MBA programs! Graduates of this program now have the skills and knowledge to be even better business owners. Some graduates might want to continue on to a concentration within their industry.

Formal education can be valuable. However, the stereotypical small business owner has neither the time nor patience to attend an MBA program. There is so much good information that all business owners can easily have a customized "MBA Program." So, crack open a book, turn on a kindle or plug in some ear buds, school is in session!

Bill Schoeffler is a business consultant and coach with 20 years of experience working with small business owners and individuals. Bill's unique background includes engineering, financial analysis, and inter-personal skills.

He can be reached at (707) 324-5531 or bill@chrysalis-financial.com. You can find out more at http://www.chrysalis-financial.com

 

Five Things No One Tells You About Entrepreneurship

Pivotal Five things no one tells you about entrepreneurship

The internet has made the idea of starting a business more accessible than ever before. And that is just what people are doing. However, the journey of entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. Having a marketable product is not enough. Being talented enough to market your services for hire does not mean you know how to run a business. After all, 90% of all start-ups fail within the first 5 years.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you start your business:

1. Entrepreneurship is lonely

If you are like most entrepreneurs, you don't have a lot of capital to hire a permanent staff in the beginning. That means, it will be you and your laptop for a while. No one to help you come up with ideas. No one to reassure that everything is alright when you have a bad day. No one to help you generate ideas. It's just you. Depressing. After all, we're human. We aren't designed to work alone. To counter the bad effects of loneliness, join entrepreneur groups, have some entrepreneurs in your close contacts that you can reach out to when you need a voice of affirmation and encouragement.

2. You don't know what you don't know

I am a scientist. I know how to make the product. Initially, I did not know anything about marketing and advertising. I had to learn. There are plenty of resources on the internet and in libraries to help you along the way. Establishing a relationship with a business mentor will help point you in the right direction on where to get started. It's important have some idea of what you need before you start spending money with paid services to do things for you. How else will you know if you're going to get what you paid for?

3. Your mindset determines your paycheck.

The owner's mindset makes and/or breaks the business. Devoting time, energy and money to your personal development is just as important as devoting those things to process improvement and building a team. Spend time meditating, reading and visit a therapist regularly. Your business depends on it.

4. You will have to hire a team.

Yes, sometimes you will be able to get the task done best BUT you will get more done with help. You are not good at everything. Assemble a team of experts and all you will have to worry about is maintaining your own ability. Your business will grow faster. Two brains are better than one.

5. Your journey is your journey. Patience is a virtue.

In the age of social media, it is easy to start comparing someone else's progress to your own. Do not beat yourself up. You journey is your journey. Do not rush it. Do not compare it to someone else's, especially based on social media posts. Those posts are a snapshot of the highlight reel. You really don't know what's going on behind the scenes.

Yes. Entrepreneurship is hard and not for the faint at heart but when done correctly the rewards outweigh the risks. Connect with other entrepreneurs so you feel part of a community. Build a relationship with a business mentor. Learn skills you don't already have. Your daily routine should include improving your mindset. Hire a team. And, most of all, be patient. Your time will come.

Author:  Iyonna Woods

I am an entrepreneur who turned her passion of health and wellness and laboratory expertise into a profitable business. I take great pride in helping people live healthy lifestyles, physically and financially. Visit http://www.fancyfreellc.com to learn more about our products and services.

Managers Who Listen Achieve Sustainable Results

We’ve all read those statistics that reveal the number of employees who leave their jobs due to management. A recent study of 7,200 employees found that 50% of them left a job because of their manager. These statistics have a negative effect on talent retention and just spikes attrition. But what if those statistics can be used to boost managerial performance instead? Managers who actively prioritize time to listen to their employees have the opportunity to boost business in a number of ways.

Employees Are Empowered to Feel Like A Valuable Part of the Team

Companies who have support from their employees have a better chance of reaching their goals. In the case of Xerox, the company even managed a dramatic turnaround thanks to the efforts of its CEO. This and other success stories all have a common thread - employees are part of the decision-making process.

  • Employees who buy into the plan will welcome change - one of the toughest situations businesses face is change management. There are a number of reasons employees feel ill at ease with change and these include: a lack of understanding, inability to see how it affects the bigger picture, and a shortage of skills or staff to manage current tasks. Those who are part of the journey from the ground up will respond better to change.

  • Employees are better able to motivate their peers - It’s easy to assume that motivation is only needed at a managerial level. Real motivation filters through to other staff members, who will have a positive effect on their colleagues. This promotes teamwork and better facilitation of projects.

  • Employees will feel like they’re part of something special - One of the biggest reasons employees hate their jobs is the feeling that they’re not valuable collaborators.

How To Knuckle Down and Listen to Employees

Managers often avoid listening to an employee because they assume it will involve a cup of coffee and they then proceed to tell their whole life’s tale. However, this is not the case. When employees speak, it’s important for managers to listen with the intention of understanding their situation.

Managers need to be aware that listening to someone is about giving them more than just a platform to speak. They also need to know that their input is valuable. This means that they can’t share the floor or compete with other people or devices. This is about fostering good relationships overall. Managers can take a queue from their personal relationships in this regard. If it doesn’t work at home it also won’t work at the office. These include:

  • Using an electronic device, replying to messages, scheduling appointments, etc. while an employee has the floor.

  • Don’t take it personally. The employee is merely conveying things that are important to them. If they’re being disrespectful or disruptive, rather call them aside and deal with them personally than in front of the group.

  • Use the opportunity to grow. Nothing spells leader more than the ability to take criticism without getting offended.

Fostering good - yet professional - relationships with staff will involve learning a bit more about them as people. Remember the things that are important to them in order to build a relationship of trust. After all, Sir Richard Branson once said “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.”

 

From contributor, Jackie

5 Questions You Should Ask Every Customer

Constantly seeking feedback from your customers is a great way to learn how to market your business more effectively. If you’ve never done this before, do it immediately as it is one of the best ways to discover what you do that actually differentiates you from your competition.


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with a small business that had no idea what its competitive advantage was until we heard it right from the mouths of happy customers. Seeking feedback is also a great way to get better and plug gaps. I can tell you that if you’re not receiving a large amount of your business by way of referral or word of mouth, you’ve probably got some gaps in your processes.


Below are five questions I like to pose to customers as they can provide a great discussion base for getting at what’s truly important to you and your customers. Create a form and get in the habit of surveying a handful of customers every month. I think you’ll be rewarded with tremendous insight and you’ll also find that your customers enjoy being asked what they think. One word of caution, don’t accept vague answers like “you provide good service.” While that may be true and good to hear, you can’t work with that. Push a bit and ask what good service looks like and maybe even if they can tell you about a specific instance in which they felt they got good service.

1. What made you decide to hire us/buy from us in the first place?

This is a good baseline question for your marketing. It can get at how effective your advertising, message and lead conversion processes are working. I’ve also heard customers talk about the personal connection or culture that felt right in this question.

2. What’s one thing we do better than others you do business with?


In this question you are trying to discover something that you can work with as a true differentiator. This is probably the question you’ll need to work hardest at getting specifics. You want to look for words and phrases and actual experiences that keep coming up over and over again, no matter how insignificant they may seem to you. If your customers are explaining what they value about what you do, you may want to consider making that the core marketing message for your business.


3. What’s one thing we could do to create a better experience for you?


On the surface this question could be looked at as a customer service improvement question, and it may be, but the true gold in this question is when your customers can identify an innovation. Sometimes we go along doing what we’ve always done and then out of the blue a customer says something like, “I sure wish it came like this,” and all of a sudden it’s painfully clear how you can create a meaningful innovation to your products, services and processes. Push your customers to describe the perfect experience buying what you sell.





4. Do you refer us to other, and if so, why?


This is the ultimate question of satisfaction because a truthful answer means your customer likes the product and likes the experience of getting the product. (You can substitute service here of course.) There’s an entire consulting industry cropping up around helping people discover what Fred Reichheld called the  Net Promoter Score in his book  The Ultimate Question.


Small businesses can take this a step deeper and start understanding specifically why they get referrals and perhaps the exact words and phrases a customer might use when describing to a friend why your company is the best.


5. What would you Google to find a business like ours?


This is the new lead generation question, but understanding what it implies is very important. If you want to get very, very good at being found online, around the world or around the town, you have to know everything you can about the actual terms and phrases your customers use when they go looking for companies like yours.


Far too often businesses optimize their web sites around industry jargon and technical terms when people really search for “stuff to make my life better.”


Bonus: I’m a big fan of building strategic partnerships and networks. Another question I would suggest you get in the habit of asking your customer is – “What other companies do you love to refer?” If you can start building a list of “best of class” companies, based on your customer’s say so, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got a list of folks you should be building strategic relationships with.

Author:  John Jantsch 
John Jantsch has been called the World's Most Practical Small Business Expert for consistently delivering real-world, proven small business marketing ideas and strategies, and this article comes from his Duct Tape Marketing Blog  http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/.

 

William Kamkwamba on building a windmill

William Kamkwamba, from Malawi, is a born inventor. When he was 14, he built an electricity-producing windmill from spare parts and scrap, working from rough plans he found in a library book called Using Energy and modifying them to fit his needs. The windmill he built powers four lights and two radios in his family home.

Onstage, Kamkwamba talked about his invention and shared his dreams: to build a larger windmill to help with irrigation for his entire village, and to go back to school.

Following Kamkwamba's moving talk, there was an outpouring of support for him and his promising work. Members of the TED community got together to help him improve his power system (by incorporating solar energy), and further his education through school and mentorships. Subsequent projects have included clean water, malaria prevention, solar power and lighting for the six homes in his family compound; a deep-water well with a solar-powered pump for clean water; and a drip irrigation system. Kamkwamba himself returned to school, and is now attending the African Leadership Academy, a new pan-African prep school outside Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

Public Speaking comment from Nathan: William was able to give an engaging and motivational talk without having so much as a high school education. Most people who are inexperienced presenters tend to use the same crutches: default PowerPoint themes, bullet points, notes, few pictures. But not William. Notice the simplicity of his slides. Many of them are full-bleed photographs. He doesn’t use bullet points and he speaks in a natural, conversational tone. Most importantly, his message comes from the heart. Building windmills, and engineering in general, is something that he loves.

Keep Your Marketing Simple and More Effective With This 6-Step Model

Marketing plan

 

Whether you are a professional in a solo-practice or own a small business, chances are you feel overwhelmed when it comes to marketing. While you may be an expert in your field, consistently attracting new clients probably isn’t one of your strengths.

Here is just a short list of "marketing culprits" that are likely keeping your business from reaching its full potential:

  • Unclear Target Market. It absolutely makes my marketing blood boil when I hear "our service can help everyone". How on Earth do you find everyone?
  • Confusing, Self-Centered Marketing Message. Since the early 1900 marketing geniuses like Claude Hopkins have been telling us that shouting "we are the best, come buy from us" doesn't work - no matter how loud you scream! Amazingly, over 90% of all marketing materials out there are doing exactly that!
  • 'Hop-And-Drop' Approach. Any worthwhile skill takes practice. Yet most small business owners abandon each marketing tactic after just one try, without giving themselves a chance to get good at it. It's like a running rabbit - switching direction with every hop!
  • On and off approach. Spending a lot of time and effort on marketing when the business is slow, but then giving up on almost all promotional activities when business gains momentum!
  • Not Preaching To The Choir. Most businesses make the mistake of chasing new markets all the time instead of maximizing profits using their existing database of current and prospective clients.

If you can put a "yes, guilty as charged" checkmark next to any of those statements, chances are you are not profiting from your business as much as you could. To help unleash the extra profits currently hidden in your business or practice here is a simple Five Step Marketing Model.

  1. Create a MAP!

You don’t need to kill a tree to create an effective Marketing Action Plan. Simply describe your target market, their problem, and the benefits your service or product offers. Identify five to ten ways in which you can get visibility and generate new leads. Finally, list all the action steps you need to take daily, weekly and monthly and assign specific deadlines and outcomes to each step.

  1. Craft Your Magnetic Marketing Message!

Potential clients don't give a hoot about your titles, awards, and prestigious office location! All they want to know is that you understand their problem and have an effective solution to it. Communicate those two things clearly and new clients will flock to you like bees to honey!

  1. Develop Attraction Tools!

Forget about the self-focused brochures! You need promotional materials that intrigue interest and generate response. Today’s technology allows to easily and inexpensively assemble and distribute information products - like special reports or CDs - that illustrate your capabilities and effortlessly promote your services.

  1. Generate Leads. Getting all the visibility in the world will not do any good if you are not giving your potential client an irresistible reason to contact you. Try and test several marketing messages and media to see what promotional strategies bring in the biggest bang for the buck.

The key here is testing - tweak your approach multiple times before you decide to completely abandon it. What might have been a big flop at first, with a bit of tweaking can turn into a total goldmine!

  1. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up!

Studies show that over 80% of all sales are made on or after five contacts with the prospect. However, more than 80% of follow-up ends after just three attempts! Creating and automating a systematic follow-up process is a must to maximizing your marketing ROI.

Develop a series of 12 to 24 meaningful communications each addressing something of relevance to your prospects and find a way to periodically distribute them to prospects and clients.

  1. Learn To Sell!

The thought of selling causes most professionals to cringe. Fact is, effective selling is not about memorizing hundreds of closings tactics or becoming an attack dog that corners prospects into saying “yes”. Instead, study a consultative approach model and become a master of asking powerful questions that compel others to action!

Author:  Adam Urbanski the Marketing Mentor