Business Development

The Scariest Thing in Your Business

The scariest number in your business...**one** (of anything)

One largest customer...if any ONE client is more than 20% of your revenue...you're just asking to suffer. One day, that client will leave...and you could experience a B.E.E. (Business Ending Event). One supplier (of anything)...if you've got just one source of anything you need to make your operation run...sooner or later they'll screw up but you'll be the one with egg on your face.

One product or service to sell...yes this is scary (think CPA's and tax preparers under Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan) but it's more foolish. Your clients have more than one need. If you're not giving them "what's next", you're leaving big money on the table.

One key employee, with your business in her head...can hit the door or get hit by a bus. Either way, your business, your income and a portion of your wealth leave with her. Have a backup.

One key system...computers are great, but they break, get viruses, files get deleted...stuff happens. (It's happened to me in the last 12 months...but...heeding my own advice I had a backup...lost less than 24 hours of time...and no data).

THE SCARIEST ONE OF ALL...

ONLY one way to get new clients...

Do you remember the days of broadcast fax? You know, you'd come to work in the morning and there'd be 17 faxes selling something, waiting for you. Businesses...BIG Businesses...were built using broadcast fax.

Then one day the FCC said "Hey, stop doing that!" And those businesses (that had just the one way of making sales) went away.

Ditto for telemarketing (the do-not-call-list), Infomercials (they're back now, but went away in the 80's)...

If you get all of your business from _______________ (fill in the blank...word of mouth, referrals, direct mail, the Interwebs, etc.) you're at risk.

You may not even know it...success "lulls" you to sleep...until the monster is upon you!

The only protection from this MOST HIDEOUS BUSINESS KILLING MONSTER is building an army of client getting robots to protect your business.

Ready to build your army? Now's your chance...the next Clients on Autopilot Monthly Briefing launches tomorrow to subscribers ONLY.

Not a subscriber yet...not to worry...you can still get in, until Midnight (Eastern) tonight.

Click here to get this blowout briefing!

Steve Gordon

P.S I credit Dan Kennedy for teaching me this truth first...but I needed to take extra credit in the school of hard knocks before I "got it." My education was EXPENSIVE...you can get yours the easy way. Click here to subscribe.

Are You The Victim Of A Marketing Drive By?

You might be the victim of a small business marketing drive by if… The Yellow Pages sales rep stopped by your office to sell you a big ad in the book and some “Internet advertising” for $1200 a month but your website has no way to capture leads…

You might be the victim of a marketing drive by if…

The Cable TV ad guy stopped by your office and sold you a block of ads for $6782 for “Prime Time” on the DIY Cheese Making Network (if you haven’t heard…it’s the latest thing)…

You might be the victim of a marketing drive by if…

The newspaper ad rep stopped by and sold you 11 4-column inch ads to appear on Page 4 of the Lifestyle section on Tuesdays for $1400…

You might be the victim of a marketing drive by if…

You hired an out of town (or overseas) “SEO” consultant who guaranteed to get you ranked #1 in Google for just $1495 + $299 per month…

You will be the victim of a marketing drive by if…

You have no marketing strategy…you have no way to measure the results of your marketing…you’re afraid that if you don’t pay these “drive by ad men” that you won’t get any customers.

Here’s how to avoid being the victim of a marketing drive by:

1. Have a Marketing Strategy Before You Meet With Any Media Sales Person

You become a victim of a marketing drive by when you have no way to evaluate the offer that a media rep is bringing you. Sure it sounds good…it will always sound good, because they are selling you the promise of future customers…or putting it another way…the promise of future money in your pocket.

Who wouldn’t want that?

The problem is that it’s just a promise. For any marketing media to deliver on the promise two other things need to be in place:

  1. The right marketing message – You create the message and if you create a poor one your ad won’t pull. You’ll of course blame the media you used—Yellow Pages, Pay Per Click, TV, Radio, Magazine…whatever.
  2. The right market for your business – You choose your market and the media rep can reach a market. If they don’t reach your market effectively you’ll be a victim.

Your marketing strategy needs to include (in this order):

  1. Your Market – Who you are trying to sell your products or services to.
  2. Your Message – What compelling message you’ll tell to convince people in your market to give you money for what you’re selling. Including, an offer they can’t refuse, that positions you apart from your competition.
  3. The Media You Will Use To Deliver Your Message – Before you ever talk to an advertising rep you need to create what I call your “marketing map”…here’s an example:Small Business Marketing Map

Choosing media isn’t rocket science. The easiest way to do this is to copy your competitors. If you see a competitor or a non-competitor who shares your market continually advertising in a particular media there’s a good chance it’s working for them. Follow-them…but be sure your message stands apart.

You can also very effectively use your common sense and life experience…especially if you are a member of your target market. What do they read or watch…which media outlets have their attention?

Knowing this, you can create your marketing map and be ready to evaluate each ad reps offer against the strategy you’ve already set.

2. Never Run An Ad Campaign You Can’t Measure

One of my favorite questions to ask small business owners when we talk about marketing is “What’s working for you now?” and I have yet to find one who really knows…by the numbers.

Your marketing numbers are the most important numbers to track in your business. They are the only forward looking numbers that exist. Your financial accounting is a look through the rear-view mirror, but you probably know what these numbers are every day, to the penny!

Here are the basics to track:

  • Number of new leads – People who YOU have identified as potential clients and for whom you have acquired a means of contacting them—address, phone number, email address, referral introduction.
  • Number of new prospects – People who have “raised their hands” to say “I’m interested in what you do.” They may have downloaded a free report you offer or attended a seminar or called for pricing.
  • Number of referrals – How many referrals have you asked for and how many have you received.
  • Number of sales presentations – if you make sales presentations to win new clients then track how many you make.
  • Number of new clients – this is the end result you want!

After a month or two you’ll begin to see some relationships…

For example, I know that for every 30 downloads of my small business marketing e-book I get, on average, 1 person who moves to the point of sales presentation. And 3 out of every 4 sales presentations result in a new client. I also know the average amount of time it takes to move from one stage to the next in my sales process.

And by knowing these things, I can tell you with reasonable certainty how many clients I’ll add a month from now.

I also know that my main marketing job is to send people to the top of my marketing funnel…to download my free e-book. Every decision I make on choosing media now has a frame of reference—Send people to the free e-book.

Even more important than that, I have the basis for evaluating any media test…money.

If a new client is worth, for example, $1000 in net profit and the ad I’m buying costs $2800. The ad needs to deliver 3 new clients to be profitable. Working backwards, that means the ad needs to result in 120 people downloading the e-book.

Here’s the math:

How to attract Profitable Clients

How to get more sales presentationsHow to attract clients with free e-books

All I need to do is track the number of e-book downloads each ad generates, do the calculation and then know which marketing is working and which is not.

3. Don’t Buy Advertising Out of Fear!

Because you don’t have any way to quantify which marketing efforts are working and which are not, you’re not able to make any real decisions about what to cut and what to add.

You become fearful of cutting “the one” that works…and each ad rep will assure you that they’re media is the one you must be in.

Recently, I helped a client drop a $1200 a month phone book ad and Internet marketing contract. He tracked the source if all of his customers and found that over 90% were coming from referrals and his organic search marketing. A small percentage were coming from the physical phone book ad and virtually none from the phone company’s Internet marketing division.

Knowing this we confidently cut the poor performing ads and put the $1200 a month into other things. A move my client never could have made before knowing where his clients came from.

What would you do with an extra $14,400 in your business this year?

Are All Advertising Reps Bad?

Absolutely NOT! Most are ethical. But you must understand that they are under a lot of pressure to sell you advertising…

It is not their job to figure out if their media fits into your strategy or to figure out if you’re getting results. Decide before you meet with them what your criteria are for success.

The set realistic expectations and remember marketing is an experiment.

In the end it’s up to you to avoid being the victim of a marketing drive-by…resist the urge to hand over your money to every ad rep that walks into your office.

Have you ever experienced a "marketing drive-by?" Share your experience in the comments below.

22 Simple Actions You Can Take Today To Position Your Business For Breakthrough Growth

There are over 11,000 business books published each year. In all of them there’s one thing missing: ACTION! Without action all the knowledge in the world is useless.

As a business owner you don’t need more ideas, you need focus. Today, I’ve made it easy for you…I’ve listed 22 actions you can take today to position your business for breakthrough growth. Implement them all or implement just one…but implement something!

Each of these actions compounds on the others so you’ll get better results the more you implement.

Action #1: Create a Customer List (60 minutes)

If you do nothing else do this! Your customer list is the only real asset in your business. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. You may own equipment and real estate and according to your accountant they are assets…but in reality, the only assets you have are the relationships you have with the people who are willing to give you money in return for service. Without that one primary asset, you don’t have a business. So start paying close attention to your customer list…it’s the most valuable thing you own.

If your list is in Quickbooks…get it out. Quickbooks is for accounting. You need a marketing list. I recommend using Highrise if you’re just getting started with your list, or Infusionsoft if you’re ready to leap to the next level. Infusionsoft will automate all of your marketing and fulfillment processes…it’s what I use to power my business.

Action #2: Create a Written Process for Getting Contact Information From Every Customer (20 minutes)

What good’s a list if you don’t have a way to grow it. In my experience businesses divide into two categories—1) The businesses that bill their customers after the fact; 2) Transactional businesses that deliver the goods and get paid at the same time. Businesses that bill customers almost always have a decent customer list…if not, they don’t get paid. Transactional businesses mostly ignore the value of a customer list.

If you’re not collecting customer contact information come up with a reason for needing it (it makes it less creepy when you ask). Here’s a hint…you don’t need a good reason, just a reason. At a minimum collect name and email. Ideally you’ll collect name, email, mailing address, phone (and maybe their Twitter handle).

With your list in hand, and a process for growing it you now have the keys to instant sales…just send a message to the list when you need some extra cash.

Action #3: Make a List of Everything You Can Guarantee (15 minutes)

Most small businesses fear guarantees. Afraid that they’ll be taken advantage of. The reality is that only a very small number of customers ever claim a guarantee. Your risk is small in offering a guarantee…but the perceived risk reduction in the client’s eyes can make selling much easier.

You don’t have to guarantee your product or service or it’s results. It’s best if you can, but you can guarantee anything. Here are a few examples:

  • Guarantee that your phone will be answered by a real, live human.
  • Guarantee that you’ll return customer calls on the same day.
  • Guarantee that you’re service people will arrive when promised.
  • Guarantee that your quoted price will be the final price.
  • Guarantee that a particular item is always in stock.

If you stop to think about it the list is endless. Guarantee satisfaction, and offer money back if possible. But if you’re not comfortable with that, guarantee as many pieces as you can.

Action #4: Sign-up for an Email Marketing Service With an Autoresponder (15 minutes)

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways you can market your business. National studies have shown year after year that email marketing delivers more than a 40:1 return on investment. That’s more than double the next best marketing method. If you’ve completed Actions 1 and 2 and are growing your list, you’re crazy if you don’t have a way to do email marketing.

If you’re thinking, e-newsletter, you’re only half right. I do think e-newsletters, sent weekly or bi-weekly, are an essential part of your marketing mix, but the real power in email marketing is automation. With automation, you can capture a new lead and send them a series of educational messages over time…automatically (even while you sit on the beach sipping a margarita).

If you’re looking for a solid email marketing service, I recommend iContact, Aweber or Infusionsoft.

Action #5: Make a List of Your Clients’ Pains and Your Cures (30 minutes)

Forget about what you do for clients and how you do it for a moment. Think about the biggest complaints and challenges your clients face. Even if it’s outside your domain…those are the things they’d pay to have solved. Then make a list of your cures to each pain. Your clients don’t want your service or product…they want the cure for the pain they feel.

You may find that your current offering doesn’t cure the pain…it only goes halfway. How can you be the whole cure? What would you have to add? What would it be worth to your clients?

Action #6: Start Tracking Lifetime Client Value (20 minutes)

In your client list, start tracking the value of each transaction that your client completes. Keep a running total for each client. Over time you’ll be able to calculate an average value of a client over the life of their interaction with you. Knowing this one number can drive your entire business. If you know what a new client is worth in total it changes how you look at every investment in your business…especially your marketing.

Knowing Lifetime Client Value will give you clear insight into the value of your list. Think about how you can use this knowledge…Let’s say that you know each client is worth, on average, $10,000 over 5 years. And you know that for every 20 leads you get, one becomes a client. That means each lead is worth $500. That’s pretty good motivation for filling the pipeline with leads don’t you think?

Action #7: Stop Worrying About the Cost of Marketing and Focus on ROI (5 minutes)

I understand that marketing can be expensive…especially in a tough economy. But marketing is an investment, meant to grow your most valuable asset (your client list). The appropriate number to watch is ROI—Return on Investment. Focusing on ROI is a decision more than an action, so just do it, make the decision.

When you do, you’ll find that your marketing will move from being a fuzzy part of your business to a highly tracked and measurable area of focus for you. To get maximum ROI from your marketing, place small bets, keep the winners, cut the losers and let your winning marketing campaigns compound.

Action #8: Signup for a Press Notification Service (5 minutes)

Getting free publicity can be a huge boon to your business. And there’s a little secret most business owners don’t understand…the press needs your story. Yes, it’s true…there’s a reporter out there right now on deadline and she needs you. The trick is finding the reporter.

Here are two services that bring those hungry reporters right to your inbox:

  1. Help A Reporter Out HARO, as it’s called is a free service that reporters use to post requests for experts to interview for their stories. All you’ve got to do is go to the HARO website and create your free account. You’ll get three short emails each day with listings of press opportunities and the contact information for the reporter.
  2. Reporter Connection Reporter Connection works much like HARO. It too is free and will send you one email per day with listings.

Just scan these emails when they come in and when you see an opportunity to provide great information, click and respond.

Action #9: Make a List of E-newsletters, Blogs and Podcasts in Your Niche (30 minutes)

Your search for free publicity shouldn’t end with traditional media. There are millions of websites that publish information on a daily basis. I guarantee there are some publishing in your industry (or in your prospect’s industries). These sites usually have highly targeted audiences. And the owners of these sites need content to keep their readers satisfied. Take a look at the site and the types of articles they publish. Write up your idea for an article and call the owner and pitch the idea. To find blogs use Google Blog Search.

And be sure to look for podcasts on iTunes. These are great places to land an interview. Just remember to provide high quality, educational content and keep the sales pitch subtle.

Don’t think it’ll help…listen to how E-Letter Subscriber and business broker John Kraft leveraged niche media to drive real business…

John said all it took was a short conversation with the marketing manager at TravelHost, a company that sells business opportunities. TravelHost sends a daily video to about 2500 business brokers (they’ve created their own media outlet…more about that in a moment). John is working with laid off mid-level and senior state employees to find them businesses to buy…that’s unique and newsworthy. It’s also the kind of information that other brokers want to know. He made it easy for TravelHost to talk about him…he gave them what they needed.

As a result John says he got 5 calls within a week, landed one new listing and three additional leads in under a month (in case you don’t know, that’s big results in John’s business).

One reason for the big results from a relatively small press opportunity is that niche press is targeted. If John had the same information published in the local paper I’d guess his results wouldn’t be as good…even though the audience is 50 times larger. And it would have been harder to land that newspaper article.

So being observant and understanding the audience + a couple of phone calls = profitable new business (and the side benefit of lots of exposure). Do you think you could spare an hour a month to get some great niche press?

Action #10: Create a 5 Step Follow-up Campaign For New Prospects (90 minutes)

Never let a new prospect fall through the cracks…write 5 short emails to educate and help your prospects move to a buying decision.

  1. Email Day 1: Thanks for dropping in…did we answer all your questions
  2. Email Day 3: Answers to questions (answer 5 frequently asked questions)
  3. Email Day 5: Client testimonials
  4. Email Day 7: Special Offer (I like adding bonuses that expire on Day 10, rather than discounting)
  5. Email Day 10: Last chance…

Action #11: Write a 5 Step New Client Welcome Campaign (90 minutes)

Don’t make the mistake of stopping your marketing when the client buys. Use an automatic welcome campaign to give the client confidence that they made the right choice.

  1. Email Day 1: Congratulations on your purchase (confirm in their minds that they made the right decision…fights buyer’s remorse)
  2. Email Day 3: Important resources – Tell ’em how to best interact with your business and how to get help if they ever need it
  3. Email Day 5: Client success stories – send stories of happy clients who got great results and reassure them that their results are around the corner
  4. Email Day 10: Ask for referrals (introductions to friends, family, co-workers)
  5. Email Day 21: Ask for a testimonial

This sequence does a lot…it helps avert buyer’s remorse, automatically asks for referrals and gathers testimonials.

Action #12: Setup a Google Place Page for Your Business (30 minutes)

Google has created millions of free webpages for local businesses all across the country. If you haven’t claimed yours yet you need to, pronto! Google’s Place Pages are one page listings for local businesses hosted by Google. If you’ve ever searched for a local business and seen the map showing business locations, then you’ve seen a local search. If you’re a local business this is your listing in the new phone book.

To claim your Place Page go to Google Local Business Center. You’ll need a free Google account (your Gmail account will work) to log in. Then you can search to see if Google has created a page for you. If not, you can easily create one.

Be sure to add complete information. Your page will serve you better if you’re thorough. Remember to add photos and videos from YouTube, too.

When you’re done, send an email with a link to your shiny new Place Page to your best clients and ask them to write a review for you.

Action #13: Search for Online Reviews of Your Business (20 Minutes)

Your online reputation is more important than ever…and it’s spread all over the web. Go to Google and search for “Your business name reviews” and you’ll get a picture of what’s out there. You’ll also want to go to Yelp.com, Angie’s List (requires a small fee) and your Google Place Page (see Action #12).

I’ve had two clients do this and find some really damaging reviews posted about them (in both cases we suspect the reviews were posted by competitors). Once we found them we were able to combat them by asking happy clients to post their own positive reviews.

A word of caution…as with all things in life, honesty is the best policy. Don’t post fake reviews. Get real reviews from satisfied clients…you’ll get better long-term results.

Action #14: Schedule 1 Day A Week For Client Attraction (30 minutes)

This is a practice I learned from top marketer Fabienne Frederickson and it’s paid dividends ever since. Now, I know what you’re thinking…“I can’t possibly devote a day a week to marketing.” I thought that too..and then I did it. Just make the decision to do it, start blocking off your marketing day (I prefer Monday) two or three weeks out on your calendar. Chances are that you don’t have much scheduled that far out. Once you block it off be sure to defend that time. It’s essential to consistently growing your business.

Can’t do an entire day? No problem. Block off 90-120 minutes first thing every morning. Then fill that time with actions that get more clients.

Action #15: Create a Facebook Page for Your Business (30 minutes)

If you don’t already have a fan page, go ahead, make one. Just login to Facebook under your personal profile. Then go to Facebook’s Pages guide. You’ll need a graphic designer to create a profile photo for your business (if you need a good one, send me an email and I’ll introduce you to mine). Before you invite your friends to “Like” your page, put 3-5 informational posts on the page. You don’t want guests coming to an empty page…they won’t stick around.

Be sure to add 5 photos (in addition to your profile image). These show across the top and give you an opportunity to brand your page or create images that promote a specific product or service.

Now invite all of your friends to “Like” your page. Now the real work begins…creating content so good it’ll spread.

Action #16: Start a Facebook Ad Campaign (25 minutes)

Facebook has one of the easiest advertising platforms around. In just a few minutes you can have an ad campaign up and running driving leads to your Facebook Page or your website. You can target based on a number of demographics, but the most valuable feature is targeting based on what a person “Likes” on Facebook. Using this targeting you can drill down by interest to find people who have already said they are interested in your topic.

With a Facebook ad campaign you can pay-per-click (you pay a small amount each time someone clicks on your ad) or you can pay per 1000 impressions. I recommend starting with pay-per-click.You bid on ad space and I’ve seen bids range from a dime a click to several dollar a click depending on the interests you’re trying to target. You can set your maximum daily spend. Once your campaign hits this amount each day your ads stop running…this is a failsafe to make sure you don’t go broke. I typically set the limit at $10 or $20 dollars to start (during testing).

You create your ad copy…you’ve got a 25 character headline and a 135 character ad body to work with. Keep it right to the point…and make sure to include a call to action. You’ll also want to include a photo. Please, do not use your logo! Use a photo of a human face. My testing shows that photos of people (smiling women to be specific) get a greater response than any other type of picture.

Action #17: Get One Powerful Testimonial (45 minutes)

Great testimonials can do all of the selling for you. Take out a piece of paper and write down the name of your best, happiest client. Get ‘em on the phone and tell them you’re collecting client stories and you’d like to feature theirs on your website (they’ll be flattered). There are two types of testimonials…the first: Feel Good Testimonials do just that, they make you feel good because the client is telling how nice you are and what a pleasure you are to work with. Feel good testimonials may make you feel good, but they leave your bank account empty.

The type of testimonial you want is a Results Testimonial. In a Results Testimonial you want your client to cover 4 things:

  1. The situation they were in before they started working with you.
  2. How they came to find you (what other options did they try, without result first).
  3. The great results they now enjoy after working with you or using your product.
  4. Would they recommend you to others facing the same situation.

If you can get the testimonial on video, those are always the best, most credible. If you get a written testimonial be sure to include the client’s full name, city they live in, telephone or email (with their permission) and photo. Avoid anonymous testimonials, they’re not credible.

Action #18: Develop One New Idea Your Competitors Wouldn’t Dare Do (90 minutes)

If you sit and think for a little while you’ll stumble upon one (or more) ideas that are considered taboo in your industry. Those ideas are the perfect place to go to separate yourself from your customers. In my last business, we guaranteed response time for our crews…and offered to pay the client 1-hour of our fee if we were late. Guarantees in that industry were unheard of…and we had a number of competitors ask us if we were nuts for offering it. (By the way, if your competitors think one of your marketing ideas is crazy that’s a clue that you’re headed in the right direction.)

That one idea lead to $50,000 in business and we never needed to pay out a dime on the guarantee…not a bad ROI on an idea our competitors wouldn’t dare try.

Action #19: Make a Top 10 List (30 Minutes)

I’m a big believer in the power of networking to grow your business…and to grow personally. But most people go about it haphazardly. If you’re systematic about networking you can get amazing results in no time at all. My secret weapon for getting more clients by networking is my Top 10 List.

I keep the names of the 10 businesses or individuals I’m trying to meet and gain as clients on this list. When I meet with a networking contact I share it and ask if they know anyone on the list. If they do I ask for an introduction…and I almost always get at least one. It is without a doubt the fastest way to expand your network.

Action #20: Read (60 minutes, repeat daily)

A 2007 Washington Post article reports that half of Americans read less than four books a year and an astonishing 27% didn’t read even one book during the study period in 2006. Look around at the successful people you know. If you compare the size of their personal library to the size of their TV, you’ll see the library is (much) bigger. There is a direct correlation between your income and how much and what you read.

Reading four romance novels a week won’t get you any further along, but reading a great business or success book each week (or even just one a month) will get your mind focused on the principles of business and life that lead to success. The value in these books are the principles that they reveal. If you can take the principles and apply them, you’ll move forward.

Dr. Tom Hill taught me a system to read a book a day (I don’t usually hit that number, but I’m probably in the top 5% or 10% of readers based on the Washington Post story)…here’s how it goes:

  1. Read the back cover and the inside of the jacket. Look for the other authors who are recommending the book. They may be authors you’ll want to check out later.
  1. Read the table of contents.
  1. Read the front matter.
  1. Read the first and last chapter in their entirety.
  1. Read the first few pages and last few pages of each chapter in between.
  1. Make notes about the principles revealed in the book.

Here’s Dr. Hill’s thoughts on why this approach is effective:

  • When you read a non-fiction book you usually want to learn the principles the author is using to get some result. That’s the focus.
  • The principles of most books are outlined in the table of contents, the first and last chapters and the beginning and end of each chapter.
  • The middle of most chapters is fluff and stories…you only want the principles.
  • The testimonials and front matter give you a clue into who has influenced the author’s writing and points you to other resources. You will generally get a glimpse of the author’s background and learn how they came to the knowledge they’re sharing.

As Dr. Hill correctly notes: The winners in business and in life are the people who learn and apply the most number of proven principles. Reading is your path to acquiring them.

Here’s my short list of must reads for entrepreneurs:

  1. The Bible (I don’t care what you believe in, but the principles outlined throughout the Bible have proven to be effective in life and business.)
  2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (I’m currently reading his recently published Outwitting the Devil and it’s worthy of your time as well).
  3. No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs and No B.S. Ruthless Management of People and Profits by Dan Kennedy
  4. Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch
  5. Blue Ocean Strategy by Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
  6. Influence by Robert Cialdini
  7. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

Action 21: Send a Card (10 minutes)

Send someone who you’ve interacted with this week a card or personal note. It shows gratitude and it sets you sets you apart from 99% of business people, who, if they do anything, send an email. I send cards on a regular basis to thank people, to say “nice to meet you” and to generate leads and open doors when I can’t find any other way in.

President George H.W. Bush credits sending a “nice to meet you” card to everyone he ever met as being one of the keys to his success. President Ronald Reagan was known to sit up at night and write “Thank You Grams” every night. I figure if it’s good enough for two men who’ve held the highest office in the land…it’s good enough for me.

Action #22: Take Massive Action (all day, every day)

I admit this isn’t a quick action, but it’s the difference between being wildly successful in your business and being mediocre. So don’t read this article and set it aside. Don’t read and do one thing. Figure out how to do 10 or 15 or all of these things. That’s taking massive action and it works. It’s getting the odds in your favor. Not everything you try will give you all of the results that you want, but in total, by acting on many fronts and at many levels you’ll get everything you want and more.

So go get after it!

What would you add to the list? I’d like you to share just one quick action in the comments that you do that make a big difference in your business.

Thanks to Corbett Barr of Think Traffic for the inspiration for this article.

SBMS 08 | How To Put Yourself In The Path of Opportunity

[audio:http://1000media.s3.amazonaws.com/sbms/08-SBMS-08-Small-Business-Marketing-Tip-13-Ways-to-Show-Up.mp3]

In this episode of The Small Business Marketing Show I talk about the importance of being in front of your prospects and customers...everywhere they are. And, I share 13 ways you can make it happen.

Download the MP3

In this episode of The Small Business Marketing Show...

  • Why you need to show up where your prospects and customers hang out.
  • How to multiply yourself to be everywhere at once (at least as far as your prospects are concerned).
  • 13 places you can show up for your prospects

Take Action

  • List 3 places you will start "showing-up" for your prospects (that you're not already doing).
  • Decide when and how you will accomplish your three "show-up" goals.

What Do You Think?

  • How important has it been to your business to "show-up"?
  • What methods are you using to "show-up" successfully?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Did you reach your goals in 2009?

I hope you hit all of your goals for the year in your small business…if you did, congratulations! If not, don’t worry, you’re not alone. I can tell you honestly that there are a number of things I want to achieve this year that just didn’t happen.

I’m reevaluating and planning now for 2010 and you should be too.

The problem I see a lot of people make is that the goals they set are never defined well enough to really know if they’ve reached them. It’s like running a race without a finish line.

You’re setup from the start to fail, because you don’t know what success looks like. Clarity makes goals measurable…without measurement there is no finish line.

But how do you get to clarity…

Frankly, nothing’s more intimidating than staring at the blank page as you try to write out your goals. I’m convinced that this is why only 5% of people set written goals. Thinking through and describing what success looks like is hard work.

That’s why I was so excited to sit through a talk by Bill Liccione a few weeks ago. Bill’s talk was on incentive compensation, which revolves around setting goals and rewarding the achievement of measurable goals.

Bill shared two simple questions you can use to produce measurable goals:

  1. Can I tell the difference between a good outcome (met the goal) and a bad outcome (didn’t meet the goal)?
  2. How?

By writing out the answer to “how” you can make any goal measurable (not numbers required). You end up describing what reality looks like after you’ve achieved the goal.

If you really want to get powerful results, create a range of acceptable outcomes. Let’s say for example that you want to increase your sales by 10%. Well it’s almost impossible to increase sales by exactly 10%. You’re likely to by somewhere above or below 10%. So what range are you shooting for?

You can set your range by answering three questions:

  1. What does it mean to exceed the goal? In our example, maybe a sales increase of 12%.
  2. What does it mean to meet the goal? Let’s use our 10% increase.
  3. What does it mean to not meet the goal? Anything below a 9% increase. This is the “anything below is unacceptable performance” number.

Try this framework for your 2010 goal setting…I hope it helps you make 2010 your best year in business!

Ten Rules of Networking from The [non]Billable Hour

Matthew Homann has a great post on the Ten Rules of Networking over on "the [non]billable hour]" blog. My favorites...

#6. Never enter a conversation at networking event with more than half a drink in your hand. Needing a refill is great excuse to leave.

#8. When you meet someone for the first time, make certain they don't hear you complain. About anything.

#9. The most underrated skill to possess at networking events is ability to end conversations, not start them.

#10. Never "network" to meet people. Network to help people.

Small business owners need to heed these rules for the sake of all of us at the next Chamber of Commerce function.

For more on networking to grow both personally and professionally read my article the 12 Essential Techniques of Power Networkers.

The 12 Essential Techniques of Power Networkers

1. Don't try to sell. For most people it all ends tragically here. They mistakenly stroll into the industry conference or chamber of commerce meeting with the idea that they need to find someone to sell to. Don't do it. It gives people the creeps. And it kills your real opportunity at these events--finding strategic partners.

2. Give before you get. Don't go with your hand out empty to your network. Not until you've made some deposits in your good will account. Build up your account first, by giving referrals.

3. Understand that it's net WORK. I hate to say it (and I'll probably lose half of you reading this now) but power networkers WORK at it.

They cut up the newspaper and magazines to send articles of interest to the people in their network. They set aside time to think about who they know and how people in their network can help each other.

The bad news is that it takes work. The good news is that a small amount of work will yield big results.

4. Be interesting. Everyone says you need an elevator pitch to use when you meet someone at a networking event. But the way MOST people do it is, frankly boring.

It usually goes like this "Hi, I'm Bob, I'm an accountant..." or "Hi, I'm Bob with Enormicon, we specialize in scaleable solutions to strategic problems by finding synergy with customers, suppliers and partners"...Yuck! If you're doing this, you're boring and forgettable.

For our real estate services and surveying business, my partner has used "I give good land..." and "I measure the Earth..." She always gets a laugh and a follow-up question from the person she's talking with. It starts the conversation and people remember.

5. Set goals. Never attend a networking event without deciding how many strategic partners you're going to meet. If you're just starting, commit to two. As you get better, increase the number. When you hit the number go home, knowing you succeeded.

6. Throw a rolodex party. Networking and sales guru Greta Schulz throws "rolodex parties" with key contacts every few months. Agree with your key contacts that you'll meet for lunch and everyone will bring their contact list. You share lists, looking for people you can be introduced to.

7. Be interesting. This one's important enough to mention twice.

8. Make it easy to refer to you. So you've succeeded and you found a strategic partner who wants to refer people to you. She asks you "Who's a good prospect for you?" And you say "Anyone who does ____________." You've just killed your opportunity for a referral.

Instead, make a "Top 10 People I'd Like to Meet List" and give it to your strategic partners. On the list put specific people or specific positions within specific companies such as "Chief Software Architect, Microsoft."

By focusing your partner, you'll get exponentially better results and you'll get them faster.

9. Play matchmaker. Your job in networking is to match up people who can do business with each other or who can refer business to one another. Spend some time each week (put it on your calendar) to think about who you can match up within your network. Then make the introductions. I suggest a minimum of two each week.

10. Say thank you. If you get a referral or introduction from someone, say thanks. Send a personal note ( you get bonus points for cookies or Starbucks cards).

11. Test alliances quickly. Don't waste time on people who don't understand that networking is reciprocal. If you're giving and giving and getting nothing in return cut the relationship.

Often you can determine how the relationship will go during your first conversation. If you're asking all the questions and the potential partner doesn't show interest in what you do...politely move on.

12. Have a system. Make your life easy and have a system for starting conversations, for meeting with partners the first time, for following up and for making introductions.

Having a system does not mean you have to be rigid, just that you follow a defined set of steps. You'll be more effective if you're not reinventing the mechanics of networking at every event you attend.

What techniques work well for you?