Is the Opportunity Real?

We’ve all been in that sales situation where you think you have it wrapped up and at the last minute it stalls. They stop returning your calls and emails, all correspondences are very short and to the point, the RFP is hanging out there, it seems like your prospect has simply fallen off the face of the earth.

So what happened? Were they not an ideal client or part of your target audience? Was there secretly a competitor with an inside track or existing relationship (hint: there usually is, but that’s a different ezine topic)? Were they simply shopping to see what’s available in the marketplace?

It could’ve been any of those, and more, so today I want to introduce a framework to help you evaluate each opportunity – before you commit to chasing it. I can’t claim this model as my own, though I’ve adopted it in my daily client interactions. [Read more…]

What’s Your Game Plan?

It’s funny how clearly you see in an emergency. Monday morning, after about four weeks of ear infections, our one year old son was vomiting and had a nasty bout of diarrhea. All of you parents know this can spell trouble for a little kid. We were worried enough to take him to the doctor, who promptly told us that either the antibiotics or a stomach bug had caused him to become dehydrated and that he was sending us to the hospital straight away.

Any time you check into a hospital they run a barrage of tests, they put in an IV (which let me tell you, it is a nightmare holding your infant son down so a nurse can stick him in both arms, both hands and finally a foot to get a vein), and in general people are just running around doing a lot of stuff.

My wife hates it when I do this, but I always ask, “So, what’s the game plan for our kid? What are you looking for and what does he need to do in order to go home.” I just want to know what’s going on. Unfortunately, it’s frightening how many times I was told, “The doctor knows what to do.” That’s great; I fully expect that he/she does, but can someone kindly tell me?!?!

Then for whatever reason I connected the dots between a few unrelated client and prospective clients’ conversations. For most small businesses, marketing is no different than dealing with these medical professionals. Most of the time there is no marketing game plan in a small business. If you have a written marketing plan, chances are it’s collecting dust on the shelf. Not to mention that if there is a plan, most of the time the people responsible for executing and tracking the activities don’t understand how to build individual campaigns or programs that support the grand plan or strategy. But the reality is that most small to medium sized businesses do not even have a marketing plan. [Read more…]

Your Biggest Obstacle

Regardless of your role within your business, you have goals. You may own the place and set them yourself or you may have a boss that walked in and laid them out for you. Either way, there are things that need to be accomplished before year’s end or within a few years.

Reaching some goals is pretty easy so I’m not going to talk about low hanging fruit here. I’m going to talk about a goal that either scares you to death or exhilarates you. Take a moment to think about that big goal and answer these questions:

  • What would it mean to you if you actually achieved it?
  • How would you act differently after achieving it?
  • What would you take on that you’re not currently? [Read more…]

So, How Much? The Big Question

In my opinion, one of the most consistent hot-button issues when working with vendors is price. I’ve personally seen it more times than I care to think about in my life on both sides of the marketing communications table. I’ve asked the question to dozens of firms and I’ve answered the question from dozens of clients. So believe me, neither side has it easy.

As the client, you’re struggling between “good enough” which has an element of speed; and “best available” which is all about being seen as #1. Don’t forget your finance guy that’s happy with “the cheapest”.

You get this feeling deep in the pit of your stomach as you’re watching the agency go through their pitch. You know that they would work hard for you. You know they would bring all of their world-class expertise to bear on your project. You’re thinking, “they know the industry, they know my business, we get along and their work is top notch”. It’s exactly what you’re looking for. But you have a feeling they’re going to be outside of your budget or at least outside of your idea of what their services should cost. You hate to bring it up because you know that budget shouldn’t be the ultimate deciding factor on what solves your problem or need. Sure there are cheaper firms out there, but these guys have it all and they’re right here in front of you. [Read more…]

9 Branding Tips For Small Businesses

Think branding is only for large multi-national corporations? Think again. Here are 9 easy tips you can use to grow your brand with your customers.

  1. The design of your logo really doesn’t matter. Would you choose MSN as your search engine over Google because of their logo? No, having a nice professional logo is great, but it very rarely increases sales. I’m all for a professional logo, but don’t think you need to spend a fortune on it. It’s more important to include your logo on every piece of communication. Put it on business cards, letterhead, envelopes, invoices, yellow page ads, building signage, newsletters, etc…
  2. Have a professional website. It’s not just good enough to just have a website, you must reflect your brand image. If your known as a top notch photographer, the last thing you want is a website designed 10 years ago. It doesn’t reflect well on you. Everyone, yes everyone, uses the web today to check references. If someone recommends your service, you can almost guarantee that they will go online to look for you. Your website design should be updated at least every two years to stay current.
  3. Blogs are good. Blogs help your business on multiple levels. First off, valuable content on a consistent basis will make you look like an expert. People are looking for experts, not apprentices. The software that powers blogs has multiple advantages. It’s very easy to publish. It’s a database driven environment where style is separate from content so you will not need to go back to your web design agency for every little change. And use of tags and sitemaps make basic search engine optimization easy. But the real reason blogs are great is that they enable conversation. Two-way dialog is much more valuable than a company that just dumps messaging and collateral on their customers.
  4. [Read more…]

The Business of Business

For a long time I thought that business simply existed to make as much money as possible. While that’s still true, I believe that it’s only part of the story. The impact a business has on society is fundamental. It employs members of the community, drives the housing market, and fuels an enormous support organization of small businesses (grocery, dry cleaning, banking, insurance, etc…). Now that I’m a little older, I realize that making money isn’t the core issue. What you do with the money is the real key to happiness.

There is a growing trend in business to give back to society in a more measurable way than mentioned above. Businesses are no longer just in the business of business. There is more to success than shareholder value. They can leverage their knowledge of supply chain, communication, productivity gains to leave the world a better place. They can affiliate with causes that are complimentary to their mission that enable profitable growth and societal influence. And guess what, consumers love it.
[Read more…]

A Lesson From The Garage

I wanted to tell you about a recent small business experience.

I recently decided to stop leasing cars. I’ve leased new vehicles for the last ten years and finally came to my financial senses. So I bought a nice used car – a Nissan that’s about 5.5 years old. It’s in great shape and should easily last another five or six years. One of the benefits of leasing was that I never thought about taking care of the car. I didn’t have to, they were always new and worked great. The lease was always up before things started to happen. Never mind that I was throwing away the little equity I could have established with ownership.

So when the Check Engine light went off on the Nissan after about four months of ownership I started cussing. I knew enough to take the car to AutoZone (a local parts store that is part of a national franchise) that still reads the engine error codes for free. Once I knew the code, I simply typed that into the search engine for the Nissan web forums and within minutes I knew everything I needed to about the error. I knew what was wrong, which parts were needed to fix it, and whether or not I could do it myself. This error in particular is pretty easy to fix on your own, but I couldn’t find time during the weekend to dedicate to troubleshooting the issue. So I asked my coworkers about local garages.
[Read more…]

Get The Complete Step-by-Step Process

To Cultivate A Responsive List eBook (FREE)

Subscribe to download this guide for FREE and work through the steps at your own pace.

Launch A Profitable Podcast

Discover how to start your own podcast business, leverage it to grow an existing business, grow your influence, and more.

There's No Better Time To Start Your Store

Have Your Own Store By This Weekend. Get This Quick-Start Guide To Launch Your Own Profitable Store Online.

The Time To Start Your Service Business Is Now

Launch Your Own Service Business By This Weekend. Get This Quick-Start Guide To Starting A Service Business Online.

Today Is The Day To Kickstart An Affiliate Business

Have Your Own Store By This Weekend. Get This Quick-Start Guide To Launch Your Own Profitable Store Online.