How To Stop Selling and Start Educating.

I’ve just completed a workshop teaching branding to graphic design firms from Canada and the United States. As part of that training, confidence in selling is a crucial element in delivering branding 10587534_sto their customers. On the surface it would appear that selling is a crucial first step. “Selling” is a difficult skill for many of us – myself included. It’s something I work at tirelessly. Defining my brand and working at it is one part of my overall branding strategy. To me selling is a bit of a misnomer. I don’t so much sell, as participate in a conversation. This conversation involves engaging the potential customer is a discussion about their brand challenges and understanding just what it is that hinders it.

Sometimes the barriers are self-generated. These are things such as culture or negative past histories. We all know people who get in the way of themselves simply because they don’t believe they have what it takes to deliver on a desire. That lack of confidence holds them back. Other barriers are market driven like bad economies, dying industries etc.

I recommend to businesses they should immediately change the conversation and watch opportunities present themselves. Customers cringe at the thought of someone selling something to them. Whereas they embrace conversations that help them. They also enjoy talking about themselves. I often enter into conversations where i am providing entry level branding advice on the spot. This is a great opportunity for me to show how fast I am on my feet, and how confident I am in what I do by my willingness to share. It’s no different than when in a networking situation – the wisdom is that you give before you get.

Challenge your comfort zones. Drive yourself to succeed. Don’t let the words “it’ll never work” or the “time just isn’t right” ever pass your lips. I believe confidence comes from challenging yourself and believing that customers really do find you a source of value. An expert lies within all of us. Don’t trap yourself by assuming you know how others think of you. Sometimes that blank stare isn’t that they can’t believe how stupid you are but it is more, they are pondering the brilliant thing you just exposed them to, and they’re wondering how they can use that nugget to their advantage. I experienced that last thought more times than I can image when speaking to groups of people at a speaking event or in a sales meeting. Lack of confidence makes you think the worst. But when you believe in what you’re saying, those blanks stares are gold mines to opportunities.

It makes me smile to realize that the quietest person in the room is actually your biggest advocate. The word ASSUME feeds on a lack of confidence and is the biggest killer of opportunity. When you assume the worst – worst is what you get. It’s not a hard concept to understand. Because I am aware that I have a difficult timing reading people, I have learned not to assume what lies before me. I often watch that person closer and give them time to react to what I’m saying and I’m often rewarded. All of this within the confines of a conversation on branding. I don’t think you can sell branding as much as you can build a hunger for more knowledge. Satisfying that hunger is something even the most shy can deliver. Imparting knowledge is enjoyable and the thanks awarded following such an exchange doesn’t feel disingenuous or contrived.

Trust in your experience. There lies the root of your confidence, and with that powerful conversations await you!

Online Advertising How To Crash Course

To grow, every business needs new leads and new customers. Without a steady incoming flow of new customers, you would hit a plateau and eventually decline. There are different ways of achieving that but the quickest is to advertise. Doing it online means you get results faster. So how do you do it? Read on for a quick online advertising how to crash course. Let’s begin.

Online Advertising How To Crash Course

Who Are You Advertising To?

Do you know? Everybody is not an acceptable answer. While each online advertising marketplace you use will have their own target market options, you still need to clarify this up front. It’ll save you some time digging around later on and definitely make it easier for you as you navigate the different advertising marketplaces. So paint yourself a picture of your ideal customer.

  • Are they 30 – 40 year old men?
  • Women?
  • Do they have children?
  • What do they like to read?
  • What do they like to watch?
  • What is their idea of entertainment?
  • What other interests might they likely have?
  • What stage of life would they likely be in?
  • What could be their next lifetime milestone – e.g. Getting married, having a baby, children going to college, retirement.

Some people tell you, to only have one clearly defined target group. Personally, I think that depends on your product. Some of us have products that appeal to different types of people. They may consume your product differently, and even buy for different reasons. They are still a target group. So define these groups if they apply.

Who Are Your Competitors?

You may think it strange to think about competitors for advertising. Truth is, this just goes to show how far online advertising has come. You want to list out your competitors because in most ad marketplaces, you can target your ad to people who follow or are interesting in your competition. This is a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of. So know who your competitors are. Brainstorm and list as many as you can. Consider also indirect competitors.

Prepare Your Advertising Materials

Again, each online advertising marketplace will have their own requirements but there are a few things you can prepare ahead of time. Among the key things, is your core advertising message. What exactly are you advertising?

Are you promoting a sale? Do you want people to opt-in to your mailing list? Sign up for a webinar? Install an app? Pick up the phone to call you? Complete a survey? Download a cheat sheet?

Once you know this, then you can create some ads. For banners, this is somewhat easier because popular sizes are uniform across the Internet. For text ads, prepare a few variations since each channel will have different word count limit so you need to have some flexibility.

It would seem obvious, but in case it isn’t, prepare your landing pages. Make your landing page deliver or match up to your ad’s promise. Consider – what would you expect to see if you were clicking through your ad? Do everything you can to make it easy for people to take the next step so you’re maximizing your ad spend.

Locate Ad Marketplaces

Now comes the fun part. Placing your ads, but first, you need to know where. Here are some great places to get started.

Many of these places make it really easy and it’s all self-serve. Some may also assign a rep to help you. The actual steps differ from one network to another. In general, what you need to do is create an account, select your target and enter/upload your ad.

More Online Advertising How To Resources

Is it really that simple? The short answer is yes. However, this isn’t called a crash course without reason. There are a multitude of things that have been simplified and in some marketplaces, you have to make sure you’re playing by the rules or get kicked out. To cover those, this post could end up as book.

Thankfully, we don’t have to because some fantastic online advertising how to resources already exist. If you’re committed to advertising and want to make sure you don’t waste time nor money, check out the Bring Your Own Traffic course.

The New Brand Benefit

bowIn a lot of ways starting a business and giving birth to a new brand can be an exciting process. No one knows who you are yet, so they have nothing to build an opinion on. On the other hand, since there is no formal introduction yet, everything about you is essentially rumour at this stage. A good place to start your brand is PR. Having a basic introductory website, and a weekly update to media, will help build interest and keep your information factual.
Any contact with suppliers and potential customers should alway be cordial. How you treat any contact at this initial stage, could set the tone of your new brand. Determine how you would like to be perceived and then strategize as to how you might influence this. Developing a positioning strategy that makes you the leader or the best at something will give your new brand resonance with your market. The worst thing you could do, is “follow the leader.” In doing this your brand offers nothing to the marketplace. Why bother existing at all? Every decision you make should assist in differentiating your new brand.
In discovering your difference, your launch can be exciting. You could be on your way to building a remarkable brand. Dream big! Don’t strive to be one of the best – strive to be the best. Just delivering good customer service isn’t enough – deliver the best service. Discover ways to over-deliver. Never forget that every thing you do affects the success of your brand. Don’t take designing your brand image lightly. An amateur attempt just reflects back on you. I’ve known some small businesses who took more interest in their decor than their brand image. Ultimately this shows in their success or lack there of.
Another important strategy is to build your “expert profile.” Your expert profile is your customer’s perception of your level of expertise. I typically recommend using Linkedin as a good start. Bringing your profile as close to 100% is a great way to get a handle on your level of expertise. Next round it out with a Facebook business page. But, I think that the number one activity that defines your expertise better than anything is blogging. It allows you to actively put your opinion out for all to see. With blogging the trick is to give away valuable information. It’s a lot of effort but the rewards over time can be extraordinary. I’ve not only gotten leads from blogging but press interviews and unique opportunities.
Your brand is in your hands. Ignore it and the competition will step up to define you. Own it, live it and strive from it.

Factors to Consider When Picking a Bookkeeping and Payroll Services in Singapore

Bookkeeping and pay roll services:

Bookkeeping and pay roll services are required by almost every company in Singapore, as accuracy in business accounting is necessary for its success. All types of businesses, need these services for their proper growth but they hire them as per their volume of work. Though big businesses may engage whole time bookkeeping and payroll services, but medium and small business usually opt for freelance service providers in both of these fields.

Bookkeeping Service Considerations Singapore

Most of the businesses in Singapore outsource the bookkeeping and payroll services in Singapore to fulfill the business accounting requirements of their business. They may choose them on basis of the recommendations of their fellow business owners and other associates but still they have to observe certain factors while picking them as provided hereunder for your guidance.

Competency of the service provider:

Whether you choose a bookkeeping service provider and payroll services for your business you should ensure the capabilities of the service provider in the field of business accounting. A set of tasks including tax work, payroll, invoices, general bookkeeping and cost analysis, etc are usually needed by the business of any level. So the service picked by you must be competent enough to fulfill all of your requirements including business accounting.

Ask for referrals:

While choosing Singapore payroll and bookkeeping services you can also ask personal recommendations of your fellow business owners, banker or tax attorney for their references. It will help you in knowing the positive and negative aspects of the services provided by the providers selected by you. The reputation of the service provider company can also be considered as a referral in this regard.

Experience of the service provider:

It is one of the most important factors to be considered while picking payroll services and bookkeeping services for your business of any level. The service provider should have experience in business accounting along with other requirements of your business, if your business has certain special requirements. Such specialized professional will be able to handle the account books more competently without bothering the business owner.

Cost of service:

You should also know the cost of services provided by the bookkeeping and payroll services Singapore, Which you have selected after considering all other factors to assess your affordability as per your requirements. Certain bookkeeping and payroll services in Singapore charge fee at fixed rate on basis of your work load whereas some others charge at per hour rate. So you can choose the best one as per your affordability in this regard.

Dependability of the service provider:

The bookkeeping services and payroll services, Which you choose should be insured and trustworthy, as they have to handle all of your business accounts. An approved or accredited service provider by professional organizations is the best option in this regard.

Thus you can choose the best bookkeeping and payroll services in Singapore for handling your business accounts by considering the above mentioned factors.

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Who Do You Think You Are?

confusedAs we head into the new year, do you have a clear understanding of your own personal brand? Are you aware of what the perception on the street is of you? Does your personal brand reflect consistently with your business brand? All good questions if you’re looking to go into the new year on a high note. Look around your circle of influence. Like myself I’m sure you’re witness to individuals who don’t have the slightest idea who they are. They call themselves specialists who list a flurry of services they try to deliver on – but excel in very little. I’ve been asked to coach a number of individuals to develop a brand for them. But, I can’t help them if they don’t know who they are. As I tell them, “it’s not up to me to tell you what you should be. I can help if you know who you are but are floundering in how to present yourself in a way that resonates with your target audience.

The problem stems from a lack of confidence. They suspect (but haven’t committed to the concept) that they are experts. They lack the confidence to express it in a tangible way. They question what the perception might be. Will their audience ridicule them for what they think is a lack of excellence. They throw up barriers to move forward. Having a lack of confidence is a scary place to be. Not only does it hinder who your are but also aids in failing to charge a fair dollar for your deliverables.

Lack of confidence is a psychological barrier, but one, that if you can breach, will deliver immense rewards. Those of us with confidence find it hard to understand why someone would be so hard on themselves, when the rewards are so encouraging. When I work with people and companies, I’m using the strategy that they focus on the money-maker. Most have a tendency to want to list everything they do, to show their scope of services. Lists are dangerous in that customers believe that since you’re listing services, if you fail to list something then you don’t do it. Ouch! My take is by focusing on your strongest service to get the door open, once in you have the opportunity to sell what else you do. It’s easier to build confidence if you focus on your strong point. Every time this happens, clients clearly have more fun and are excited by their brands (personal and business) again.

Understanding who you are can only make your brands more powerful, resonating in a big way. Not everyone is cut out for this bold a strategy and wish to remain with what keeps them safe and risk-free. Where has a safe harbour ever gotten anyone? Leaders are folks who embrace excitement and a challenge. Identifying who you are and acting on that in a direct way, changes the script you’re currently playing to. That in itself will generate enough confidence to hurdle the challenges you face.

So moving into a brand new year – who are you?

How (and Why) to Build Employee Loyalty

Starting-up and maintaining a business isn’t easy, especially when the competition is breathing down your neck. That is why you need people you can depend on to have your back, to make the journey to success and to keep riding that wave. Your employees are your income protection. It doesn’t matter if you’re in production or sales, it’s important to have loyal employees that stand with you. Finding them may just turn out to be the easy part. Keeping them, on the other hand, is a totally different story and explains the importance of building employee loyalty.

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Your Front

In any type of business, the boss is rarely the one to greet a customer at the door. It will, more than likely, be an employee.  A loyal employee will extend the same welcome to a customer as you yourself would, because he/she understands the importance of keeping the customer happy and the consequences if you don’t.

The question is: how do you install this knowledge in someone? The answer is quite simple: You lead by example. Before you start hiring, you should be able to outline your company’s goals, your employee expectations and benefits, as well as a code of conduct. Have it ready, in written form, when you welcome a new member to your team. This avoids misunderstandings and gives everyone guidelines to follow.

Once you have them aboard, treat your employees with respect and let them know that you see them as an integral part of the company. Let them know you are the team leader and they are the team. Neither part can survive on its own. It takes the sum of both to keep the boat afloat and heading in the right direction. Make sure to be observant and take note of how each member of your team interacts with their fellow employees and customers. Take note of things you like about them and, of course, of faults.  Always commend good deeds and accomplishments, best in a team environment so the others might profit from the positive input and, possibly, pick-up some good habits they now know are appreciated. If you have something negative to say, address the person in a private environment and let them know how you feel. Don’t be condescending, that just builds up resentment. Instead offer a solution to the problem or a suggestion of how you believe this should be handled. In your next team meeting, which, by the way, you should have on a regular basis, address the subject, NOT the person. Let your team know how to deal with such a “hypothetical” situation. Ask for their opinion and if something better than your suggestion comes up, accept it and declare it as the new modus operandi. You have just created a win/win situation.

Your Muscle

No matter who the boss is, there will always be workers. While you are busy acquiring customers, they are the ones taking care of production (it doesn’t matter if it’s canning beans or corresponding) so you have something to sell. Why is it important to have loyal employees for this? Because,  you can rely on them to get the job done without major fallout. Furthermore, they love their job and they are well trained and know what they’re doing.

If you have to keep training new people because you haven’t built loyalty with the veteran employees, you will only be hurting yourself. Not only is it time consuming, it’s expensive.  According to a study by Columbia University , replacing a lost employee will cost you approximately 150% of that person’s annual salary. Eye-opening isn’t it? Not only do beginners work slower, because they’re not familiar with your company’s work mode, they will make more mistakes. This leads to less production, ergo less to sell.

It’s becoming clearer isn’t it? You can motivate your team by setting production goals and rewarding them for reaching them. Give incentives for exceptional work. This can be in form of a bonus, movie tickets, game tickets, a dinner for two (be creative). It doesn’t have to be a huge thing; it’s about recognition and showing that you are aware of the effort put forward by each of your employees.

Your Dependents

You are responsible for your employees. Let them know that you are ready to take on this roll and that you have their best interest at heart. If you show your employees that you genuinely care about their welfare, there is nothing (within reason) they won’t do for you and your company. It’s your job to make sure there is plenty of work for them and it’s their job to make sure it gets done. Just as a well-oiled machine runs smoothly, an appreciated team works optimally.

Make sure to match the pay to the job done and don’t forget to review pay on a regular basis. You want your employees to grow with your company and adjusting pay accordingly is a part of that. You might want to think of offering an employee income protection plan, such as offered by Suncorp, for the unforeseen. This is just another way to show you care. Have a company party once a year to celebrate their accomplishments and your success . Above all, don’t forget to stop and say hello, ask how he/she is, pat a shoulder now and then.  Even when you get to the point where you have managers, don’t forget you are the boss, their team leader, and they want to know you still see them. The magic to loyalty is to be a true leader.

All in all, building loyalty is about being aware of what is going on in your company and with your subordinates and subsequently acting upon it. A little creativity and a lot of common sense will get you to the point of optimizing your workforce and letting you build a solid foundation for a prospering    company. This is your future, go for it.

What’s Your ROI With Branding?

Return on investment or ROI can be realized in any number of ways. As a starter, one good way is to have a look at the brand as it sits today – before the branding process. What ever that perception is, it’s the reality of the brand. Then when the process is complete – maybe six months to a year out, evaluate the perception again and see what the difference is. Any positive bump contributes the brand’s ROI.

A lot of companies headed by boomers are looking at the future and their place in it. They are using branding to improve the position and appearance of the company as a part of their succession plans. Whether they are passing it along or selling, branding helps put the brand in a great and positive position. I have client right now who is looking to retire. Branding is helping the firm continue to strengthen its influence. New players brought in don’t have the connections that the past owner has and branding is helping position their brand to build on their other strengths.

Effective positioning allows the company to absolutely differentiate themselves. The positioning, changes the conversation in their category with a powerful strategy that draws new business their way.

Sometimes a goal to initiate branding is to increase awareness. Companies find themselves lost in the clutter. Nobody really knows what they’re up to. Out of sight – out of business.

Many business owners want to know what the deliverables are. That’s part of their terminology. Branding delivers on the branding values – which are the foundation of the brand. Personality which uncovers deficiencies and opportunities. Positioning which makes them a leader. Brand standards keeps the visual part of brand in line and consistent and a large one being we will be talking with their customers. I’ve found business owners to drool over the prospect of getting customers input on their brand.

ROI comes in many forms, not the least being the ability to resonate with customers bringing new business to the door.