Archives for September 2014

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.

10 Financial Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Have you ever wondered why that delicious new restaurant that you loved and all your friends loved, that seemed busy ended up closed by the beginning of the next year?

10 Financial Habits of Successful EntrepreneursThe automatic assumption is that there is a lot of competition out there, so the restaurant just didn’t have a chance. Usually, there is a lot more to it than that. If you have a good business idea, and have done your due diligence there is no reason you can’t be successful no matter how much competition there is.

It all starts with having good financial habits. There are some habits that successful entrepreneurs have in common.

Write a Business Plan

Every business, no matter how small or what kind of shoe string budget you’re starting with needs a business plan. Even if you just write a one or two page business plan you need to go through the motions of writing the plan because it forces you to study your industry, the competition, and evaluate your own skill level.

Keep Accurate Records

Saving receipts along with using a financial accounting or bookkeeping software to help keep track of your records will help you evaluate your financial position on any given day. You should easily be able to look at what expenses you had for any given project, without understanding that, you can’t know if your prices are right. In addition, you should know exactly what you need to earn to keep your business running, otherwise known as your break-even point.

Have an Appropriate System

No business can run properly without a system, or even multiple systems. This is true whether you are working alone in a sole proprietorship or whether you have 500 employees. Without systems in place that you can perfect over time you’ll just be running in circles repeating mistakes. This can cost a lot of time and money.

Develop a Realistic Budget

Start with understanding your break-even point then around that create a realistic budget for all the different areas of your business so that you can run your business appropriately. A lot of business owners go out of business due to not understanding budgeting, the cost of doing business, and the idea of keeping their own hands out of the cash drawer until they make enough to pay themselves. Don’t be that person.

Track Expenses

I’ve already mentioned that tracking expenses is important but it’s amazing how fast little expenses here and there can ruin a business. A five dollar a month expense here and there seems small, but if you’re not getting the most out of each of these small expenses, it’s better to eliminate them when you can. Running lean and mean will get you further in your business and avoiding pennies leaking out of your business can ultimately save thousands.

Manage Cash Flow

Another issue that successful entrepreneurs understand is cash flow. If you have a service based business, no matter how big or small, you’re going to have varied levels of income over each week and month. You’re also potentially going to have issues with clients paying you on time unless you get the money up front. Even if you sell tangible goods the income of an entrepreneur isn’t exact so it makes budgeting ore of a challenge. If you find creative ways to manage cash flow you’ll find that you’re less stressed and more successful.

Understand Tax Law

One of the things that get a lot of businesses in trouble is the owners not understanding fully tax laws. If you live in the USA a great book to get is Small Business Taxes Made Easy – but do remember that tax laws change and that you’ll need to find out what’s changed and updated since the last publication. Business owners, even small business owners who work from home have found themselves in financial trouble due to not paying their quarterly taxes or self-employment tax. This needs to be part of your education and budget.

Save Money for the Future

Part of your budget should include saving money for the future of your business, as well as the future of your family and the two should be separate. You need to have a business account where you shoot to have six to eight months’ worth of money equal to your break-even point in the account. Plus, you should do the same for your personal savings account with liquid cash that is available for six to eight months of living expenses covered.

Understand the Value of Each Dollar

This might seem silly when you first read it. Of course, you understand the value of each and every dollar you spend and bring in. But do you really?  Are you spending time on your business doing things that someone else could do faster, and less expensively than the hourly rate you command? If you can do work that brings in $150 an hour and you’re dealing with customer service email you’re wasting about $130 an hour.

Get Professional Help

After you’ve educated yourself on the tax laws of your country, and understand basic financial vocabulary it’s important to seek out professionals that can help you. Hiring a bookkeeper or a CPA isn’t as expensive or as hard as you might thing and typically their value is made up in your savings and the business advice they can give you based on their knowledge of not just your business but the others they serve. One caution here is to ensure that you do understand everything you sign, like any profession, there are unscrupulous people. Get references, and check them.

Financial Freedom Finally, even if you already have a successful business without doing any of these things, if you want a long-term business that can be passed down to your children or sold when you are ready to retire, you need to back track and get started getting your financial plans in motion and developing financial habits of successful entrepreneurs so that you’re able to stay successful today and well into the future.

 

You Will Be Shocked When You See These Landing Page Test Results

Many of us (even strong willed entrepreneurs, sometimes) wish for someone to simply tell us what works, what to do, where to go.

It’s not because we are lazy – although it could be the reason sometimes. No, I personally believe it’s not our character flaw but our human nature. When we get overwhelmed and not sure what to do next. When we get confused. When we are afraid or unsure of our next steps. When we are tired or burnt out. That’s when a “here do this” solution is so attractive.

No wonder information products abound and probably won’t ever die. Small wonder too blog posts everywhere are full of tips and best practices. Not saying these don’t work. Following a trusted and proven source’s advice is better than running around blindly, or worse – doing nothing. However, it’s always a good thing to try it out for yourself and try out different ways – based on what you know of your market.

Test it yourself.

Wow, did I despise that piece of advise for a long time. But it’s true. What works for others may not work for you..

This is exactly what Joanna Wiebe talked about in her post about “best practices” at Unbounce. She shows us some copy written on best practices and advice and follows with test results that will surprise you.

9 Things You Should Know When Dealing With Difficult People

Most of us would rather avoid confrontation. Unfortunately, we live in a world that is not free of it. We have to be dealing with difficult people and situations in our business from time to time.

9 Steps for Dealing With a Difficult Customer

Here’s the good news. In some ways, handling demanding people is a little easier online because that person isn’t in your face. You also have the luxury of time and to respond on your terms. Try these techniques the next time you encounter a troll, an upset customer or someone who is just plain rude.

When Dealing With Difficult People, Keep Calm

This is always so much easier said than done in the heat of the moment. However, as mature adults, we simply must learn to contain the natural anger and hurt.

For me, staying detached helps. I pretend like I’m a customer service rep just doing his job. Often, I even introduce or sign off with a different name (that has other benefits too). This way, I’m forced to be calmer – after all, if I were a rep who wants to keep his job, I should be nice.

Don’t Sweep Them Under The Rug

It is awfully tempting to close your eyes and pretend things never happened. However, when people misbehave on your turf, such as your blog, your forum, your Facebook group or page, your help desk, it’ll only hurt in the long run to let things slide.

Resentment among members will seep into the community. Those following you will notice the lack of leadership. And, if it’s a customer issue, you’ll probably lose them for good. It’s hard but you should always acknowledge the offender.

Respond Later – But Not Too Late

Just because you must respond doesn’t mean you should jump right to it. Try not to get roped into a match in the heat of the moment. Let a comment stand 15 – 30 minutes or even an hour or two. It’ll be OK. You’ll probably have a clearer head by then. You might also have given the other person some time to chill out.

Ask Your Trusted Peers For Input

There are two scenarios when to use this. First, when you are stumped at how to respond to a particular issue. Two, when you want to validate your response is the best possible one you can give.

Almost always, I find others will give, or remind me of a different perspective. This usually leads to a clearer, better thought out reaction that seeks to reconcile rather than alienate.

Give The Benefit of The Doubt

We all have bad days where one bad thing seems to lead into another. Whether we realize it or not, we offload this negative energy onto others. Perhaps that’s what’s happening to this person.

Resist The Urge To Defend

Sometimes, no matter how you say it, explaining yourself always comes off as defensive. This could infuriate people even more, sending the situation spiraling in a direction you don’t want.

That’s not to say you admit defeat or apologize for what you believe in. Instead, saying something simple like this could diffuse the situation quickly. “I can see how that would be upsetting. Thank you for voicing your opinion.”

Be Polite

Whenever my children cry about who did/said something bad to them first, I’ll respond with, “Yes, that wasn’t nice but you don’t have to return the favor.”

By returning rudeness with politeness, we break the cycle. The buck stops with you.

Sift Through For Real Nuggets

Unless it’s a personal attack, underneath all the tough words, there could be truth. This person might be pointing out something you overlooked. They might be showing you a different way and point of view. It’s hard to read but after time has passed, try to ascertain if there is something you can learn from it. It’s OK to feel a little upset again but don’t let that take over. Focus on what you can learn and you’ll see it.

Cut Them Loose

No matter what you try, some people may be beyond helping. Limit your time with them. Get someone else to assist them. Try to have short conversations or those that steer clear of hot button topics. If you really cannot be around them, cut them loose completely.

It’s never easy dealing with difficult people. Give yourself permission to feel hurt, to even get upset. You can’t win over everyone, but if you stay classy, you’ll always come out a winner, no matter what the immediate results are.

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.