Archives for September 2006

Lead Generation Techniques and Hierarchy

Obviously, there are a lot of ways to generate new business. I’m going to list a few here in order of effectiveness.

  • Cold Calling
  • Direct Mail / Sales Letters
  • White Papers
  • Tradeshows
  • Executive Seminars
  • Speaking Engagements

Contrary to what a lot of people believe, cold calls can be effective. You just have to be seen as a business peer (not a vendor), provide value, and do not waste their time. The bad part of cold calling is that business people today are busy and rarely enjoy an unsolicited call. This negative attitude has been amplified by thousands of telemarketers irritating people during dinner time with phone calls. But it can still be effective when done properly.

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Ongoing Design Changes

As you can tell if you are reading this at our website [ http://www.smallbusinessbranding.com ] and not through RSS, our site design has changed. The new look is in place to reflect the new authors who are regularly blogging here and turn Small Business Branding from my personal blog into a multi-authored blog magazine. You can now check out all the new shiny author faces along with each article.

The design changes are not complete and you will find plenty of left over content from the old design that will be changing over the coming weeks. There are also several code bugs that are causing some strange anomalies but rest assured we are working on them.

Michael Pollock, the original founder of Small Business Branding and now in charge of solostream webstudio is the man behind the new design work and is doing a great job, as per usual.

Online Networking & How to Woo Your Crew

Evangelists. Ambassadors. Friends. Fans. Maybe you call them your posse, your crew or your team. Whatever you refer to your network as, if you’re not conversing online, nay – if you’re not blogging – you’re missing the boat!

There are tons of great articles out there about how to use a blog to gain cred as an “expert”, build a network and create exposure for your brand. The angle I’m fascinated with today is building relationships that support you, help grow your business, and stretch your thinking as an entrepreneur.

Take my new friend Phil Gerbyshak, over at Make it Great! I’ve seen Phil all over the blogosphere and recently came across him again when I landed upon the mother load of all blogrolls at Converstations.com. (Talk about hitting the jackpot! I could end this article with this list alone.) There are enough juicy links in here to feed your surfing fantasies for days. Go have a peek.

But back to me and Phil. I left him a comment on his Make it Great blog. The very next day I find a personal e-mail from him in my in-box. He thanked me for my comment and said he may use it in a future post of his. So just by leaving Phil a (genuine) comment on his blog, adding to a dialogue that was already flowing quite well before a little ol’ me came along, I opened up the lines of communication between me and Phil. Now if you don’t know anything about Phil, take it from me, this guy’s dialed in. He’s got his finger on the pulse of all things leadership, business, relationship marketing, networking and just plain loving life. Phil just gets it. Who knows what connections I’ll make because of “hanging out” with Phil online.

Liz at b5media’s Successful Blog is another blogger that rocks this relationship-networking thing and has it down to a science. She shares a story about her father who was a pub keeper. She relates her father’s desire to keep the conversation going – his desire to meet people and open up a dialogue about life – to her success as a blogger. It’s essentially the same thing. Her post 7 Great Ways to Connect with Other Bloggers While You’re Out Reading Blogs is food for thought. My favorite part of the list is:

“Relationships are about people. We write from one side of the computer. We feel alone talking to one other on the end of a long optic fiber, but we’re not. Our bodies are in the privacy of where we choose to be, but our words are in the openness of cyberspace.

People — some not even born yet — will read what we write. We can’t ever forget them. People who read us learn things, and get to know us. Sometimes they comment and a conversation starts. Next thing you know there’s a relationship happening. Some of those people become colleagues and friends for life. I know. I’ve already met some and plan to meet more.”

Christina Kerley, of CK Blog shares some insights in Give a Girl 5 Minutes and 2 Cents? She asks readers,

“What is the single greatest point of value you receive from blogging? New business? New friends? Newfound smarts?
Fortune, fame or creative freedom?”

Her post spurred a barrage of comments and responses including, more connection, broadening community, gaining knowledge and exposure. One visitor said,

“I think it has to be the collection of intellectual capital that I have accumulated over time and it almost happened without me noticing. This includes the posts, the incoming links, the comments, the ideas, and the evolution of my thinking. Everything else comes from that.”

Visitor Jordan shared, “I like the satisfaction of knowing that it’s all worth it. My readership continues to climb, and I learn just as much as I educate.”

Stuart Henshall of Unbound Spiral shares this on the topic:
“Nothing I’m doing today or have done for the last four years would have been possible without my blog.”

He was inspired by Robert Paterson’s discussion where he shares:

“Something weird and wonderful is going on in the background of the debate about the meaning of blogging. Yes it is an important feature of a new type of journalism. Yes it will change marketing and product development. As interesting to me as these major trends is how blogging is also creating new kinds of trusting relationships. It is enabling an entirely new way to make friends – from the inside out.

No longer are we reliant on face-to-face and local space to guide our relationships. This is surely a revolution. To all those that don’t know – the success rate of “knowing” whom you can trust as a product of blogging is far higher than the traditional. I am not alone in finding that I can work with people that I have never met…”

Why am I sharing ALL of this with you? Because there is SO much value in planting little seeds each week. Over time those seeds will germinate and many will bloom into beautiful friendships, business relationships, and potential partnerships.

Recently I met Jeff, who found me through my ezinearticles.com articles; where he then went to my blog and sent me an e-mail through the link there. He approached me about an opportunity for me to write a chapter in an anthology of personal development writing. Since then (just a week ago) he has also approached me about co-authoring another book that he’s working on. Without online networking, I never would have been “out there” for Jeff to stumble upon me.

About a month ago, I applied to write for a blogging community. Through reading my application letter and checking out my blog posts, the president of this company personally e-mailed me to say that along with wanting me to write for a blog with his company, he also would be happy to introduce me to some book agents.

Ummm, excuse me? Did I hear this guy correctly? Wait…it get’s better. He then followed up by sending me copy of one of his book proposals so that I could use it as a guide when putting mine together to prepare for said meeting that he could arrange!

Seriously, this is the kind of stuff that has been happening in the short 6-8 months since I’ve been blogging. And there are several other blogging-ships I’m nurturing that hold great potential opportunity for me in the future. People who know people, who know people that can lead me in any direction I choose. It’s that whole 6 degrees of separation thing.

It’s ALL about the relationship building. Woo your cyber friends just as you would work the room at a networking event (without the annoying “getting to know you” ice breakers and funky cheese and fruit platters). The blogosphere is a fairly safe and fun environment. The benefits you’ll reap by wooing, charming, dancing with and high fiving your blogging buddies are priceless.

I know, I’m well on my way to getting published and all I had to do was be more interested in other people than I am with myself. Ask questions. Be curious. Find out how YOU can help someone else. You never know what rewards you’ll reap!

Blog & brand boldly,
Kammie K.

Creating Something from Nothing

One of my favourite books as a child was called, Something from Nothing: 101 things to create from next to nothing. I won it in a writing competition and I’ve still got it. I don’t know if I actually ever made anything from that book, but I loved the idea of it, and I looked at it often.

Perhaps it left an impression on me.

My Social Board Game

It was through a series of events in my life that the idea of creating a social board game around relationships came to me. A big part of the process was playing out for years beforehand – through general observation and then eventually close analysis of a problem that I was personally encountering over and over. I started to see patterns. One of those patterns was that many people, both men and women, had great difficulty “starting over” after experiencing a major relationship breakdown.

Although the following is a fairly extreme example, it illustrates what I believe is a widespread problem with both men and women. Marlon Brando once said, “With women I’ve got a long bamboo pole with a leather loop on the end. I slip the loop around their necks so they can’t get away or come too close. Like catching snakes.”

Essentially, my game attempts to connect people through a humourous approach to the hurdles and journeys we face in love and relationships.

On the night of my business launch a few months ago, I joked that the process of creating my business felt like I had been pregnant for nine months and in labour for five. (Months that is.)

Not that I’ve ever been pregnant, but this was the best analogy I could think of. What I meant by this was that there were two distinct creative phases in bringing my business to life, and the second phase was particularly difficult.

Phase one was creating my product; not easy by any means, but a labour of love none-the-less. The second was designing a business – and a brand – around my product; this phase is still very much in its infancy.

So You’ve Got a Brilliant Idea?

“Highly creative people don’t necessarily excel in raw brainpower. They are misfits on some level. They tend to question accepted views and to consider contradictory ones.” – G. Pascal Zachary

Wouldn’t it be fascinating to know how many product or business ideas are generated on a daily basis. The figure would probably be mind blowing. Furthermore, what percentage of these actually make it all the way from the mind it was created in to “BUY NOW!”. A tiny fraction I imagine.

If you’ve got an idea that burns in your mind, then I urge you to pursue it. There’s a lot of factors that go into making the decision to pursue your venture (not the least of which is cost and likelihood of interest from the market), but I think the biggest determining factor should be how compelling your own vision is.

If you’re still in the planning stages, I’ll be very honest and tell you that the road ahead of you is not going to be easy, even if your idea is fantastic. Which you probably know already. Apart from the creative challenges, your first real feat is navigating shark-infested waters to get it to the market. At this point, if you haven’t already been eaten alive (by suppliers, service providers, miscellaneous hangers on, those who want to stomp on you, and those who want to get control of you), then the natives (i.e. customers) may welcome you with open arms, or they may spear you to death. It’s likely that they will just ignore you for a good bit.

This is the reality.

Having said that, I think it would be a tragedy to die without ever knowing. So go you good thing!

Delving Into Your Own Mind

Before studying journalism I had a career in human resources. During my years in HR I encountered numerous personality profiles, none of which ever convinced me personally of providing any really valuable insight. Until I came across the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI).

My results from the HBDI profile created some interesting “aha” moments, and, along with another key event, was a turning point in my life. Like many people, I had never thought of myself as creative, and had always associated being creative with being artistically talented, which I’m not. There were two key things on my HBDI profile that made me take notice. Firstly, by far my most dominant thinking mode was the D quadrant – Conceptualising/Creative. And my key descriptor was Synthesiser, meaning I have a natural tendency to take a variety of elements and re-work them into something new. Big “aha” moment. Many things that had previously confused me about myself suddenly made sense. The beauty of this profile too is that it highlights areas that aren’t your natural preference for working in or “thinking” in, so that you can consciously work on developing those areas. And being conversant in all modes is a definite advantage when you run your own show!

Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect from a HBDI profile from an article on the Mindwerx International site.

What The Profile Does & Doesn’t Measure:

  • All people have access to four thinking modes.
  • The results of the HBDI Survey indicate the degree of preference you have for each of the four quadrants.
  • The profile provides a ‘picture’ of the distribution of your thinking preferences at this time in your life.
  • The HBDI is not a test. There are no right or wrong answers and no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ profiles. The HBDI does not measure intelligence, skill, or competency.

A low score in a given area does not indicate inability; frequently people are very able in areas where extra effort has to be made. However, your profile data will provide you with a better understanding of your potential development opportunities.

For the full article, go to Whole Brain Thinking (using HBDI).

Speaking with my HR hat on, if you haven’t already done so I’d highly recommend sampling and experimenting with some of these personality profiles. Besides just being interesting, they can give you some valuable food for thought. If you work in a team it’s great fun to do it as a team, particularly the HBDI because it highlights some really interesting aspects of balance or imbalance of styles and preferences within the team. Quite a few companies recruit based on “balancing” their team.

Branding the HBDI Way

For an interesting look at branding using the HBDI system, have a look at the article on the HBDI site (it’s a pdf document – just scroll down til you see it) Branding – the Whole Brain Way.

Innovation is a Double-Edged Sword

Twenty04 was arguably the year that interest in innovation reached critical mass. Suddenly, talk of innovation was everywhere.

Today innovation is touted as a necessity in all aspects of business. The mantra is: Innovate or perish. As business owners we’re told we need to offer customers something different – we need that innovative point of difference. That’s what customers respond to.

Or is it? The reality is, there’s some mixed messages on this topic. Firstly we’re often told that you need to offer something that satisfies customers’ needs. But on the other hand we’re also told that it’s possible to create a need that customers didn’t know they had. And innovation is where it’s at.

My response from the trenches is: I think it IS possible to “create a need” in customers, BUT, it’s a VERY complex process. And, unless you know exactly what you’re doing and/or have a massive marketing budget, it’s also a fairly lengthy process.

In his post, If You Think Innovation-Based Startups Are Easy, Think Again, Lester Craft identifies the reality that I’m living. It’s tough.

Ironically, I don’t think my idea is that different! But customers do. As a rule of thumb, I’d say anything that customers are not already familiar with, either personally or through a trusted source, can be considered as requiring the “creation of a need”. (Don’t ask me how to do this – I have NO IDEA!).

However, ultimately I do believe that as long as your idea will genuinely satisfy a need (after you’ve created it), AND you can successfully attract the early adopters (before you go bankrupt), being innovative can put you ahead of the pack.

In his article, Customer Intimacy and Empathy Are Keys to Innovation, Jim Clemmer says:

Many innovations come from a deeper level of customer and market understanding. They go beyond what current customers say they need. They solve problems that customers either don’t realize they have or didn’t know could be solved. These innovations create needs and performance gaps only once customers start using them and get turned on to the possibilities.

Every product and service we now take for granted was once silly, interesting, or just an odd curiosity.

For all you innovation “believers” who can’t wait to get crackin’, check out Innovation Tools www.innovationtools.com. I get their newsletter and it’s an excellent source of all things innovative along with many practical “how to” articles for innovation and idea generation.

Next time I’ll talk about what techniques worked for me. Until then,

Have fun!
Danielle

Server Move

Small Business Branding will be moving to a new home (server) sometime this week. Hopefully the move will be smooth and incident free but there is a chance of some downtime and lost comments if you happen to visit at the time we are making the move.

Everything should be back to normal hopefully from next week onwards.

Yaro Starak

Do You Suffer From Entrepreneurial Ignorance?

It’s amazing how us intelligent entrepreneurs can be so damn ignorant some times! Despite the brilliant business concepts that come out of our complicated minds, we entrepreneurial idiots still manage to royally screw things up at some time or another.

Now brace yourselves, as what I’m about to say might offend you…

ALL OF US ARE GUILTY OF ENTREPRENEURIAL IGNORANCE!

“What? You talkin’ to me?! I ain’t no ignoranus!”

Oh but you are! I, Brad Williamson, am guilty of it… And so is every one of you!

Our problem is that, at some time or another, feelings of invincibility wash over us. We become so over-confident in our talents that we refuse, or ignore, necessary help from others. Why is it that we think we can do everything ourselves? I guess it’s because entrepreneurs have some kind of strange chemical imbalance in the section of our brain that regulates our business decisions. Drug makers… Are you listening? We entrepreneurs need a “fix!”

Until a miracle drug surfaces that controls our selfish entrepreneurial urges, we need to police our actions and make sure that we never earn the counter-productive title of “SOLOPRENEUR”. Contrary to popular belief, a true “Solopreneur” is, more often than not, an ineffective businessperson because they never accept, or search for, much needed guidance from others.

So how can we fight this symptom of “Entrepreneurial Ignorance?”

Stop acting like a “Mr. Know It All!”

Entrepreneurs are a confident bunch. So often, we ignorantly think that we’re experts at everything. And if an entrepreneur doesn’t know something… they’ll either guess, or perform half-ass research to stubbornly find the answer their self. Don’t get me wrong… I realize that reliance on one’s self is an important confidence to have; however, too much self-confidence can bite ya right in the butt if you don’t know how to effectively control it.

This planet is full of an array of different people for a good reason… So that we can join together in an effort to collectively make this world as great as it can be. If you feel that you’re unsure of how to approach something in the development of your business… REACH OUT TO SOMEONE FOR ADVICE! You will save valuable time, by getting your answer quicker – And you’ll decrease your chances of screwing something up, because the approach you THOUGHT was correct… ended up being totally wrong.

I realize that it’s fun to be a rebel entrepreneur who takes charge of every situation! That special feeling that you get as you go about your way, as a bizMAVERICK, provides you with a rush like none other! But let’s not forget to recognize, during our times of need, that we can benefit from the help of others. Try not to do everything yourself all of the time – And make sure to include others in your genius creations so that they too can share in the satisfaction of your accomplishments.

So remember… The single most effective home remedy for “Entrepreneurial Ignorance” is to welcome the aid and advice of others. …Doesn’t it feel great that you don’t have to suffer from this horrible disease anymore?

Wishing You Continued Success…

bizMAVERICK…
Brad Williamson

Click here to join the bizMAVERICKS MySpace profile!

Writing for WOM & Branding the Croc Hunter Way

OK, this article serves dual purposes. I originally intended to write about why marketing your business with article submissions to online databases such as ezinearticles.com are crucial to generating buzz about your biz.

Was going to tell you about the fact that I’ve only submitted four articles since June. The combination of all four have been viewed 401 times. The real crowd pleaser seems to be my first submission, “Build a Better Life by Learning to Love Language — The Ultimate Power Tool of Communication”. (Shameless self-promotion, thank you Suzanne Falter-Barnes at getknownnow.com).

I was going to share with you that only two days after submitting that first article I was contacted by JT Chandler letting me know that he had picked up my articles and was featuring me as an expert author on his website jtchandler.com (about all things personal development and Laws of Attraction). Was gonna wax poetic about how JT and I have developed an online friendship and he keeps me in the loop of any new possible blogging opportunities, new potential business contacts and anything else he thinks might be beneficial to my business. Dare I say he’s a Kam-bassador?

This article was also going to share how just this week I was contacted by another coaching/speaker/author type proposing that I collaborate with he and a few others on an anthology they are publishing about the keys to happiness and success. And how he found my articles on the site and then linked to my website from my bio box at the end of the article.

Thought about linking over to the ezinearticles.com website so you could see for yourself how advantageous it is to write about what you know, submit it to the database and let the universe work it’s magic. Meaning if you really are an expert in your field, people WILL find your articles and they WILL use them on their websites, on their blogs, in their e-zines and in their newsletters. You WILL begin getting sited across the blogosphere and beyond as a “go to” person for your business/product/service.

So I was gonna say, get busy writing. Get your fingers tapping on those keys and churn out a few simple, but sassy articles on what it is that YOU’RE an expert at. Knit mittens for kitties? Cool. Write about that. Sell the latest and greatest widget or wadget? Awesome! Are you the next big techno-savvy small business consultant that the rest of us just can’t live without?

Right on! Then sit your happy ass down, put your creative hat on, and start hunting and pecking. Because this method of WOM really works. The features and author tracking tools are awesome. The author spotlight on the homepage is an added bonus for you. Search by article, author or keyword. Chris Knight, (master of the ezinearticles.com domain) blogs about the many ways to utilize his site. He’s like your own personal instructor on how to maximize your articles, viral and WOM marketing.

But then I came across this post and it seemed relevant to our SBB blog, so I thought I’d share it as well. (Stick with me. We’re almost there.)

I stumbled upon Thomas Murrell, an international business speaker, consultant and award-winning broadcaster and publisher of Media Motivators. His article, “Why The World Loved The Steve Irwin Personal Brand”, is loaded with juicy back to basics branding tips. Who didn’t love the infectious Aussie and his charming, witty animal antics? Check this out –

3) Authenticity
Irwin was the real deal. While Australia’s highest grossing movie ‘Crocodile Dundee’ was pure drama, Irwin was real and provided dramatic reality.

4) Drive, Passion, Energy, Enthusiasm
In an interview published in the book Guinness World Records 2006 Irwin was asked, “How would somebody follow in your footsteps?” Here’s his answer:

“If you want to become a zoologist you’ve got to do all the tertiary education, but don’t lose your passion or enthusiasm despite the hard work or homework you have to do. Just follow through. Passion and enthusiasm will get you everywhere you want to go in the world.”

Irwin was living proof of this principle.

He could answer with laser-like precision the question: “Who are you and what do you do well that other people will respect you and reward you for?”

6) Memorable and Distinctive Point of Difference
There are hundreds of TV wildlife presenters. Irwin was different. He was very clever in selecting or inventing a distinct combination of factors that became a unique point of difference to competitors.

The three elements were:
Wardrobe: khaki shorts and shirt
Language: crikey, down to earth, simple
Danger & Drama he actually handled live animals

8) Consistency
Irwin understood the fact that it is more important to be clear and consistent than original. Symbolism is very powerful. So even when scuba diving he wore that khaki uniform. It was wacky but it worked.

So there you have it! A long winded way to share what I’ve found to work in the world of WOM. Think, “If you write it and post it, they will come”. You also need to know a little bit about what you’re talking about, have a flair for writing, and a professional photo for your bio isn’t a bad idea either.

Go ahead, put yourself out there! The world is waiting for your wisdom about widgets. Take a lesson from the zany Aussie, be YOU and the brand will evolve into the empire you’ve always imagined.

NOTE** I am in no way affiliated with ezinearticles.com, just sharing a resource that has worked for me. I can’t be held personally responsible if no one reads your stuff!!

Get busy branding,
Kammie K.

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