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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.

 

Analyticals don’t rule (But they do ask questions)

ANALYTICALS: GOOD TO THE LAST OBJECTION 

 

Pivotal analyticals don't rule

 

Two questions.

Question #1: When was the last time you sat down and listed all the things that people suspect or misunderstand about your organization?

Question #2: Do you depend on statistics to make your case? Maybe you're keen to send out an annual appeal letter lavishly buttered with service stats? "Our dedicated staff of eight plus our 27 volunteers delivered 1,892 evening meals to 1,230 addresses in six counties, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year." The McDonald's approach: 22 trillion served.

If your answer to the first question is "never," and your answer to the second question is "certainly," then it's time you learned more about "the Analytical," one of the four personality types you'll encounter in every audience - in every brain, in fact, including your own.

[The other three personalities? The Amiable. The Bottom-Liner. The Expressive. More about these in upcoming newsletters. Let me just say this: speaking to all four personality types is ESSENTIAL to successful communications. But I digress.]

The Analytical is an information glutton who feasts on documentation and statistical evidence. Sounds good? Not really. Because the other thing you should know about the Analytical is this: he/she is bad at making decisions.

My point? I have two.

First: Don't waste too much time on Analyticals. Analyticals represent just 25% of your audience - and they're the 25% who can't make up their minds. (There is one important exception to this rule: answering objections. See below.)

Second: If you hope statistics will persuade people to give your organization money, prepare to be disappointed. Statistics are weak persuaders. They aim for the head, not the heart, and leave donors cold.

Focus on the other three personality types. They are 75% of your audience. They are just fine at making decisions. But - warning - they will NOT be moved by a wall of statistics. Statistics are unemotional (not good for the Amiable), abstract (not good for the Expressive), and too easily misinterpreted (not good for the Bottom-Liner).

But let's return to the Analytical and the issue of answering objections.

Here's how the Analytical part of your mind thinks.

A recent survey asked donors to guess how much charities spend on administration (salaries, fundraising, etc.). Donors were extremely pessimistic. They guessed that 60% of every dollar they gave went to administration. I was amazed: even though these donors were willing to give their hard-earned money, they remained more than a little cynical about the good intentions (or efficiency, anyway) of the charities they supported. Guilty until proven innocent, was the essence. Imagine what these donors might give, if they knew that the charity actually only spent 15% on administration and 85% on changing the world for the better?

Why were they so sceptical? Has everyone lost their faith in the basic honesty of others? Nope. (Well, actually they have, according to the research in a bestseller called BOWLING ALONE. But that's another discussion, best savoured with beer.)

Doubts and objections are just garden-variety human nature at work. You don't think our species became so grotesquely successful by being gullible, do you? Doubt played - and continues to play - a vital role in species survival.

Be prepared. Any communications - your newsletter, Web site, brochure, and certainly your fundraising appeals - will awaken the Analytical response in readers, especially in people who don't know you well.

And the Analytical part of your audience comes well-stocked with suspicions and doubts (read: misconceptions) about your organization.

How much of every dollar that is donated to a food bank actually ends up feeding the hungry? Is that self-satisfied community foundation really just a club for rich folks? Do all the fancy theories behind a charter school truly cause kids to learn better? Does that in-prison counselling service end up coddling criminals? Are zoos really just "animal prisons" by another name? You get the idea. Your only defence is to answer objections early and often.

HINT: One of the best ways I know to get doubting Analyticals on your side is with testimonial. The Jewish Rehabilitation Center for Aged of the North Shore (MA), a nursing home, fills the margins of its brochure with reassuring soundbites like, "We never considered anyplace else for our parents." The National Parks Conservation Association (DC), which raises some of its income through guided tours, runs in its catalogue signed notes from recent customers: "I probably learned more on this trip than any I've ever been on. The guides were exceptional, patient, even-tempered, knowledgeable and FUN."

Got testimonial? Use it.

 

Author:  Tom Ahern for  When You Need a Great Case for Support.  For capital campaigns of note. “Tom Ahern … is one of the country’s most sought-after creators of fund-raising messages.” Download his new eBook here

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/.

 

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

 

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How to write an Elevator Pitch

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” ~ Coachfucious

The first and foremost thing you need to do is be ready and ably to sell your product or service in a snapshot. In order to get the clients you are looking for you absolutely need to be prepared to meet with your clients wherever they are and whatever they do. What will set you apart from all the rest of the people in your business is the MANTRA that you will sing to enchant your clients and get them close to you.

This mantra identifies who you are, what you do and why your client will choose you over all the others on the market and is most commonly known as elevator speech.

Before we create one, we will go though the brainstorming process.

There are a couple of tough questions that can be answered before we roll up our sleeves and start creating our client magnet.

1. Who am I? In what capacity I want to serve you?

2. What business I am in? What results do my business promise to you as a client?

3. Who is my client? How does he look like?

4. What makes me different from the competition? Why should the client do business with me?

5. What are the benefits of my customer when buying my product / services?

Those questions, when systemized, don’t look as if they will come out of the page and bite you but when you think about it 90% of the time to come up with ideas is very difficult. Usually this uneasiness to decide on the right answers for you and your business springs from the fact that most of us consciously or not are employees in their business and being an owner of a business is just that – being employed by yourself to perform the job task- owner.

The way to go out of this trap where you end up employing yourself and go into the thinking hat that is only concerned with how to elevate your business the answers will start flowing to you.

Whenever you are ready with our own answers to the clarification questions, you can start writing your elevator speech. This speech you will be able to say wherever you go whatever you do and you will be able to sell your product or service in 30 seconds. And I will show example with my own elevator speech.

1. For whom are you offering your product / service? Who is your client?

Your sentence will start with “for” as in: “For unstoppably determined people”

2. What is it that your customer wants / needs and you are offering?

Your sentence will start with “who” as in: “Who want to live with passion and be financially independent”

3. What product or service you are offering?

Your sentence will start with “the” as in: “The Life & Money Coaching of Tsvetanka (Sue) Petrova”

4. What category does your product or service satisfy?

Your sentence will start with “is a” as in: “Is a walk through into the world of achieving your goals”

5. What is the benefit that your client will receive when buying your product / service?

Your sentence will start with “that” as in: “That is low cost and at the same time high in value because”

6. Who are your competitors and why you are better than them?

Your sentence will start with “unlike” as in: “Unlike others I walk the walk, and talk the talk.”

7. What is the single most important thing that sets you apart form the competition?

Your sentence will start with “our” as in: “Our coaching re-frames circumstances and life situations into possibilities and I help my clients turn those possibilities into opportunities.”

The most important step is as soon as you have your MANTRA ready, chant it as much as possible to as many people as possible and then just happily receive all the goodness the powerful mantra that you just created can bring into your business life.

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Get your clients all over the world using THE 3 ESSENTIAL Ingredients to Success at http://www.aheartsdesires.com/        This article was originally published here

 

Marketing Alchemy: 3 Ways To Turn Marketing Expenses Into Profit Centers

 

Are you tired of writing checks for advertising and promotion expenses, month after month, and feeling like you have nothing to show for it? Learn 3 ways that you can turn your advertising and promotion activities into profitable assets, shift from marketing expenses to income, and begin to think of your marketing activities as a profit center instead.

1. Save the money you are now paying to advertisers.

Does the idea of writing checks to yourself each month rather than writing them to someone else for advertising expenses sound good to you? Here's how to make that happen.

When you run a typical ad, you have no idea who has seen it unless they come to your establishment, call you, or buy something from you. In order to make your marketing a profit center, you have to know who those people are and how to contact them.

Don't run another ad unless you can use it to capture the contact information of everyone who sees that ad and is interested in what you are offering. If you are advertising to get new customers, then be sure to make them an irresistible offer in exchange for their contact information. For example, a restaurant offers a two-for-one coupon that is delivered after the contact information is provided. What irresistible offer can you make to your prospective customers that they can't refuse?

You can even test different offers to learn which ones are most popular, and have a record of which people responded to which offer. Is that valuable information to have for your future marketing campaigns? Of course it is! You can just deliver more of what your customers have already told you they want. And as you build a list of those people who have raised their hands, the list you are building becomes an asset for your business.

With a list of prospective customers and how to contact them, you no longer need to run blind ads. You can send targeted offers directly to your list in an email, so there is no mailing cost.

Instead of putting a coupon in an envelope with lots of other offers and hoping that someone will respond, you will be able to send a coupon directly to your list. You can even suggest that they share it with their friends and co-workers who might be interested in what you have to offer. And watch those "advertising" dollars go right to your bottom line!

2. Send special offers to your list that they can't get anywhere else (and cash checks from other business owners that are providing the offers for them).

What's even better than saving marketing dollars? Earning marketing dollars! Imagine how excited your customers will be to get "secret, special deals" that no one else gets! Of course, they can pass those offers on to their friends too, but those friends have to give you their contact information to get the deals!

You can send the offers to your list in a monthly newsletter, an email, or several other options. All can be done at low cost or no cost -- but you won't pay a dime without getting a check from another business owner first to cover the cost.

Send offers for other local businesses (that don't compete with you, of course). Look for complimentary products, or even just products that have a similar target market that matches your customers. If your customers would be good customers for another business, that business can pay you an "advertising fee" to connect the offer to your list.

Partner with local museums or other non-profit arts organizations. Even if you don't earn cash for your mailing, you can likely take a tax deduction -- but check with your accountant so you will know what you have to do to earn the deduction. Just make sure you are getting a "special" deal for your list members.

If you have other business owners who are your customers, ask if they would be interested in having you do marketing for them.

Get in the habit of thinking of marketing as a profit center, and you will see many possibilities for profit.

3. Write a review for your customers that is included in your newsletter or an email, making a recommendation and including an offer.

Start with your customers who are business owners themselves and think about how you can promote their businesses with a review and a recommendation. Then approach the owners of those businesses and offer to provide a review and recommendation of their business (or product or service). In exchange, they will provide an irresistible offer (exclusive to your list, of course) which you will send for a small fee to cover your "expenses," along with your review and recommendation.

This is powerful in marketing terms. This is not just "a shot in the dark" advertising, hoping that someone will respond. Your list members know and trust you, and when you give them your point of view (review) and your recommendation that they do something (take advantage of the offer that is being made), the expectation is that a larger number of people will respond to the offer than if it was just another ad placement. However, the offer must be something that your list members will find irresistible and it should be exclusive, only available to your list.

Jan Sandhouse Hurst is the Authority Mentor and founder of AuthorityMarketingMastery.com. She shows companies how to create marketing strategies and tactics that propel them to excellent results at an accelerated pace, and is known for creative marketing strategies and tactics that position her clients in unique and memorable ways.

If you are not currently sending a monthly newsletter to your list, use her SimpleNewsletterFormula to create a fast path to more customers, connections and cash.

 

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101 Ways to Captivate a Business Audience

There's nothing worse than sitting in the audience while an inept speaker stumbles through an ill-conceived business presentation-- unless, of course, you're the one floundering in the spotlight. In 101 Ways to Captivate a Business Audience, Sue Gaulke, founder of the Speaker's Training Camp, strips the mysteries from the process by showing how to prepare and present an effective address that will successfully involve your audience and deliver your message.

The guide presents 101 audience-tested anecdotes, experiences, quotes and insights designed to help readers become captivating, creative and stress-free presenters. It teaches "how-to" skills and learnable behaviours that can be put to immediate use. Information on controlling nerves is also included.

It is extremely quick and easy to read. The ideas are stimulating and there are very relevant topics such as its steak and sizzle technique to keep the listeners on their feet.

 

Buy the Book ... from Fishpond.com.au  or Amazon

 

 

3 Keys to Writing Copy That Attracts and Invites (and Doesn’t Feel Sales-Y and Slime-Y)

If you're like so many conscious/heart-centered entrepreneurs, a lot of traditional copywriting probably makes you pretty uncomfortable. (Copywriting is writing promotional materials, nothing to do with protecting your intellectual property.)

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A simple, effective and modern approach to marketing your business

... a simple process that any company can use to break through the noise. It doesn't matter whether you're the owner of a retail shop, financial advisor, swimming pool manufacturer or an inventor with an ingenious product - this powerful strategy will work for you.

‘Don’t hide your light under a bushel …’

Marketing isn’t just about getting your product or service into the client’s hands, and there's one more vital thing.