Yes, it is the last day of 2007 and frequently my mind has been upon 2008. I think I mentioned the book I have been reading lately, Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy. The frogs are those things we put off doing that keep us from accomplishing our goals.
I am working on a presentation I am giving to a group of business owners in a couple of weeks but while planning it the information has motivated me to utilize some of the recommended steps. I thought I would share some of the steps with you in case it may be useful in motivating you for a more successful 2008.
Here are some of the techniques recommended that I am using:
1. Time management is a learned skill and the more we plan the better we learn and apply this skill. So start by writing out your goals on paper, same thing as "Think on paper".
2. Plan daily, weekly, and yearly. Start with the end in mind and write down the steps needed to accomplish the goal.
3. Resist the temptation to clear up the small things first (like email). Most every morning this year I turned on my computer and started reading and deleting emails. Only about 2% of those actually contributed to my growth, financially, professionally, and personally. Tackle the big jobs. Determine your tasks based on importance. These are tasks are usually the ones that add the most value to your day, life, and goals.
4. Upgrade your key skills. I have been planning on upgrading my desktop publishing skills and have identified local resources to accomplish this.
5. Apply the 80/20 rule to everything: Twenty percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. Concentrate on the top 20 percent. I have already determined a few activities that have not been beneficial to my business and I plan on cutting them out of my activities.
These are just a few of the 21 strategies shared in the book. I figure if I practice just a few of the tips shared I will be much farther ahead than I was in 2007.
Since this will be my last post for 2007, I want to take this opportunity to wish all the readers and subscribers of my blog a joyful end to 2007 and greater success in 2008!
Happy New Year!
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Yes, it is the last day of 2007 and frequently my mind has been upon 2008. I think I mentioned the book I have been reading lately, Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy. The frogs are those things we put off doing that keep us from accomplishing our goals.
Friday, December 21, 2007
With the holidays upon us there is no better opportunity to network than now. You are probably invited to all kinds of parties, your spouses parties, or a friend of a friend, and all of these have opportunities to meet new people.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
The Art Of Networking
By John Kaighn
As an entrepreneur you'll come in contact with numerous other business people as you conduct your day to day operations. They could be lawyers, suppliers, customers or other business services providers. These individuals are important to your business in many ways. If they bought your product or service or if you hired them, you can also gain their business knowledge, experience, ideas, and advice if you stay connected to them. This is what networking is all about. Networking is when two or more different businesses stay in contact on a regular basis to help build and improve each others business.
Some of the benefits which can be gained by talking to other business people are:
·Knowledge or information that you didn't have before
·Advice on how to solve a current business problem
·Leads to a new business project or opportunity
·Joint ventures and cross promotion deals
·Learning important skills that you didn't have before
·Constructive criticism that improves your business
·Brainstorming that sparks a profitable business idea
·Encouragement and motivation for your projects
There are several ways to network with other business people. You could participate in business expositions and trade shows. You might visit business clubs and associations or take part in on-line business related forums, e-mail discussion groups or chat rooms. By using your creativity, you could come up with even more ideas.
If you have the time, you could start your own networking group. You could hold meetings at a local seminar room, at a park, or at your own business facility. If you want to hold meetings on-line you can use a private chat room. You should publish a print or e-mail newsletter to keep members informed of meeting dates and times.
It is helpful to keep all of your business associates' contact information in one place. Make sure it is organized by business type or profession for easy searching, so when you need some advice on a new marketing campaign you can call your marketing expert. Be sure to follow up and stay in contact by phone or email on a regular basis.
Another fantastic way to network with other businesses is to operate a joint venture. This is when two or more businesses join together to work on a project for a set period of time. Participating in joint ventures with other businesses can increase your chances of beating your competition, increase your sales and increase your profits quickly. Other advantages of a joint venture are:
·money can be saved when businesses share operating costs
·referrals can come from other businesses
·valuable time can be saved when businesses share the workload
·new products and services can be offered to your customers
·new business associates can be gained
·money can be saved by sharing advertising and marketing costs
·advice and information can be obtained from other businesses
You can find joint venture opportunities with businesses online or
offline. I try to find businesses that have the same target audience, but are not in direct competition with my business. Here are a few ways to find joint ventures online:
·subscribe and participate in e-mail discussion groups, online forums and newsgroups that deal with your target audience
·subscribe to e-zines that deal with your targeted audience
·note on your Web site or e-zine that you are interested in doing joint ventures
·search in your favorite web directories and search engines to find businesses for joint ventures online
Once you find a business simply e-mail them your proposal.
Explain to the business owner the benefits of the joint venture.
Discuss why it would be a win/win situation for both of your businesses. Provide feedback regarding their business, Web site, products and services. Using the methods above will enhance your chances of constructing a profitable joint venture.
About the Author: John Kaighn is a Registered Investment Advisor with Jersey Benefits Advisors and writes articles on various business and investment information, ideas and opportunities. For more information about this and other topics you can visit www.johnkaighn.com and www.jerseybenefits.com.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
I am the chair of the Small Business Resource Center Committee at our local Chamber of Commerce and we are in the process of purging the present materials and gathering business books for our chamber members to enjoy.
I have read many good business books and plan on donating some of them, but with time as sparce as it is for us I know I have not read all the good business books available.
Have you read any good business books lately? If so, would you post the title and author? Also if you want to share a review that would be appreciated also.
My donations so far are:
The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki
What I Learned on the Way to the Top by Zig Ziglar
Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles
1001 Ways to Reward Employees by Bob Nelson
I look forward to reading what others are recommending.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Personal public relations plays big part in business success. People want to do business with people they like, so it is those "personal" relations that are just as important as traditional media PR.
by Sue Currie
Ten seconds is all it takes to make a first impression – whether it's your personal presentation or the first contact a potential client or customer has with your business through the telephone, website or other communication collateral.
When they walk through their door – or you walk through theirs – your image is imprinted in the first moment.
Research has proven that 67% of first impressions are accurate. Your personal image tells the world who you are and where you are going. Your business image says the same. Every email, voicemail, and phone call you make creates first impressions that build your brand.
But it's not just your logo or your business stationery that needs to look good. How you present yourself in person also says a lot about your brand. For many small business people or business entrepreneurs, you are your business and how your project yourself is vitally important to the success of your business.
How you shake hands, make eye contact, conduct yourself in social situations and the clothes you choose to wear contribute to your personal brand. Your image is like the weather. People notice when it's extremely good or extremely bad. People shouldn't judge us by our outward appearances but of course you know they will. First impressions can indicate to a potential client, your sense of style, ambition and self-confidence level.
Another measure of your success in dealing with people is due to personality.
Your voice, way of talking, body language and the way you develop relationships with your clients all count towards giving you a ‘manner'. Your personal manner speaks loudly to other people. You may need to do some self-analysis on your plus and minus personality traits before establishing a self-satisfying public image.
Sometimes things like aggravating speech habits, lack of good manners, sloppy dress or grooming can be your worst enemies.
Punctuality, your tone of voice, these are the things about you that speak loud and clear to others. Make sure that they're working for you.
I'm sure you've seen many examples of people who have had too much to drink at the office party and regretted things done or said. Perhaps not such good personal PR for career progression.
Maybe that date who sounded so promising on the telephone really let you down when you met and saw how badly dressed and untidy they were.
I'm not suggesting you need to have a complete makeover and invest a fortune in new clothes – but it is those little things that people notice.
You've no doubt invested a lot of time, effort and money into setting up your own business and learning many new skills – why not invest some time and effort into yourself – you're worth it!
* Business image – brand all letterhead, newsletters, email messages for a professional
* Personal image – establish a strong visual image – develop your own style and personal brand. Be aware of grooming and professional dress sense.
* Self image – get rid of bad habits, develop self-confidence and charm, walk tall and smile!
Sue Currie, the director of Shine Communications Consultancy and author of Apprentice to Business Ace – your inside-out guide to personal branding, is a business educator and speaker on personal branding through image and media. Sign up for free monthly tips on personal and professional PR at
and learn more about how you can achieve recognition, enhance your image and shine.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
I am busy working on other projects that take top priority but wanted to continue actively blogging and sharing with my readers, so I found this great article with good content to perhaps motivate you to do something new or different for 2008.
I hope you enjoy the article.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Key Marketing Methods for 2008
Copyright © 2007 Sam Law and Julian Stone
Isn't online marketing by definition, expensive? Not necessarily. Online businesses are coming to the realization that in an organic environment like the Internet, organic marketing is required; paying for traditional or static marketing only gets you so far before it becomes ineffective. The consumer now controls your marketing.
What is wrong with the old methods?
Old marketing methods are failing because users are beginning to wise up (Rise Up) against the old brute force advertising that tries to win users over through sheer volume, using abrasive web-page banners, unrelated Adwords displayed on the page, or repeated newsletters (most being restricted by anti-spam laws).
The old methods no longer work effectively for two key reasons. One is the fact that they are a "flash in the pan", directing users to websites only so long as you continue to pay for the campaign, the second reason is consumers are now at the stage where they either ignore them or go out of their way to block them (with plug-in based browser or email filtering).
Let's quickly run through some of the "traditional" ways to market on the web, and their failings.
The "Old World" marketing relied on one or two large marketing sources to drive traffic with big budgets and marketing firms. You have to get people to create the "news" then you pay other people to distribute the "news", so you are pulling people into your "store" to show them what you have (whether they want it or not).
New methods for marketing
These days having other create and distribute your content for you is in vogue, this can mean syndicating your articles for other users to repost, paying users to review or rate your services, guiding users directly on forums or having users sign up to receive exclusive information. In every case, the handiwork of distribution is left to others.
Lets quickly run through some of the new "web 2.0" ways to market on the web, and the reason you should try them:
The theme of the new marketing methods is tailoring your content to the audience. The intent is to create something reader want to read. Marketing is not about trickery or insincerity, it's about communicating your ideas with honesty and authenticity. If it is worthwhile to your users, then they will happily talk about the content and spread it around, you have to communicate authentically with your customers and it simply doesn't happen using "traditional" online marketing.
A word of caution: if you try any of the above methods but approach them traditionally (as a direct marketing channel) then not only will you annoy a great deal of users, you can also damage your company image. Again I stress the above point, make the content something people want to read, not just marketing material.
Old marketing methods that are now approached differently
Benjamin Franklin said insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." This is increasingly true for some of the more traditional forms of online marketing. It's not so much what people are doing, but more a case of how they are being done.
Let's take a look at how we should be approaching some of the old marketing methods today.
Old-world communication can still be effective but you need to ensure it is not your only approach.
Reevaluation is the key to a healthy online presence. You need to be constantly measuring and reevaluating your marketing methods to ensure you are not wasting money, and can take advantage of effective new methods.
About The Author:
|Sam Law and Julian Stone - Project, Task & Time Management specialists for: ProActiveSoftware.com, ProWorkflow.com & Julian101.com|
Article Source: thePhantomWriters Article Submission Service
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I have only read two chapters of the book by Brian Tracy but it has helped motivate me to accomplish the necessary tasks and EAT MY FROGS DAILY (get them out of the way). The other side of it though is that I seem to have many tasks that are due all at once.
The present task that is hanging over my head at the moment is making a flyer for advertisement of a new CEO Roundtable I am starting. An accountant has approached me and asked if I would facilitate such a group in her office. She is going to send this flyer out to all her customers.
What an opportunity but just not for me. I believe that in any tasks many hands make light work. The future group should be thrilled at the prospect of having many minds and hands to make light work of their situations.
I am also excited about the possibility. It is an honor to have an accountant ask you to facilitate when this person does not know me fully. I look forward to our future together in 2008, as well as, the future of the members of the group.
I'm going back to eating my frog. When I finish this book I will share with all the main points I took away from it.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Posted by Carole DeJarnatt at 9:24 PM
Monday, November 26, 2007
Have you ever heard of the book by Brian Tracy called Eat That Frog? If not, it is an excellent read that gives you insight on how to become a better time manager. If you haven't guessed it, the frog is the project or problem you are putting off or facing at the time.
Today, I am working on my frog--the presentation material for tomorrow. So instead of writing my own material for this blog I will share one more article I thought was worthy.
Copywriting Selling Secret #3 - Slash Your Expenses
Copyright © 2007 Scott Bywater
A few years ago, I analysed the statistics of where one of my clients, M & M Pest Control in Sydney, generated all their leads from. As a result of this, Ray Milton, the director of the company said:
"Scott measured the results we were getting from our advertising, and as a result, this confirmed my decision to eliminate over $42,000.00 in unnecessary expenses --- because it wasn't paying it's way."
$42,000 is a lot of money, in anyone's language!
What did I do? I simply analysed his advertising expenses, and identified whether or not the ads were generating a strong yield for his investment.
And I'm willing to bet you could do the same for your business.
Right now, you're probably thinking... in the words of Pauline Hanson...
Listen. I've met with hundreds of businesses that advertise in the Yellow Pages. And most of the time, I ask them "What return on investment do you receive as a result of your advertisement?"
To which 9 times out of 10, the answer is as good as a blank stare!
How much money are they burning? Investing $20,000 on an ad (or $1,000 or $5,000, or $100,000 --- the same principle applies) and not even know what their returns are!
Would you hire a salesperson and not "give a toss" about how much income he was generating.
No! No! No!
So why on earth would you do it with your advertising dollar?
Some people say it's too hard. Their staff won't find out for them. My advice. Fire those staff, because they are costing you BIG money!
Listen, all you need to do is:
1.Code all your ads with a reference code to identify the source of the inquiry
2.Train your staff to ask one simple question: "Where did you hear about us?"
3.Enter the details into your computer.
4.Analyse the statistics.
And you need to be as specific as possible. One of my clients, a spit-roast caterer in Sydney measured the results of a series of ads in the local yellow pages directory. You know what he discovered? Only one of the directories was generating a strong return on investment --- the rest were losing money!
Priceless knowledge. And in the world of advertising...
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
So unless you want to be like John Wannamaker, the "father of the modern department store" who once said "I know that half of my advertising is wasted, I just don't know which half it is" then grab the bull by the horns and start measuring the results of every ad you run. right now!
P.S. You.re going to be really excited when you see property tip #4 because I'm going to explain the one fatal mistake that will instantly ruin your response, even before you place the ad or send the letter, no matter how powerful the copy is!
About The Author:
Scott Bywater is well known for getting results as a professional direct mail copywriter. And also the author of Cash-Flow Advertising. To get a free subscription to his "Copywriting Selling Secrets" newsletter where you'll discover the truth about why most ads and sales letters don't work (And how to make yours different) scamper over to his web site at: http://www.copywritingthatsells.com.au/
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Marketing Your Small Business
By David Mason
Small business marketing may be the most important part inowning and maintaining a successful small business. A good portion of the marketing effort is determining the needs of your target market and then explaining that you provide solutions to meet those needs. Contrary to popular belief, it is a lot more than posting a sign or handing out flyers. Though many of the philosophies and tactics may be similar, small business marketing is an entirely different discipline than marketing of large companies. Successful marketing is not just a tactic or strategy; it is an entire process and you are sure to fail if you are not enthusiastic about your small business.
Done properly, marketing can and will attract all the clients your small business can handle. But I would suggest you get to a place where you work only with clients who value what you haveto offer. If you commit to following simple small business marketing systems, strategies and ideas you can significantly increase what you charge for your services. Unfortunately though, most small business promotions focus only on how great their products and services are. But you need to stay focused on what products and services your ideal clients want and need.
Here’s another big no-no to avoid. Instead of marketing only when you need money or cash flow, commit to marketing your products and services all of the time. It is very important to consistently market your products and services because as I have been saying for years, success is based on persistency and consistency, not magic.
Planning is also a key ingredient to the success of any small business. Developing a small business marketing plan will be one of the most crucial elements to your success. By creating your marketing plan you will eliminate the panic and need for an instant solution to financial problems because you can avoid many of the ups and downs that result from the all to common stop and start marketing. Your plan does not have to be set in stone, it can evolve as you and your business grow. The important thing is your dedication to consistency with your marketing.
The lack of persistency and consistency will lead to an unused marketing plan. This in turn will lead to spits and starts in your cash flow. Successful entrepreneurs who have a small business marketing plan make more money in less time. When you start to think of who your ideal client is and what products and services they want or need, and then combine that with your marketing tools and techniques, an effective marketing plan is not far behind.
As you are probably starting to see small business marketing is an entire process, a synergy of the individual tactics and strategies. That's right, small business marketing is a system where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Another common misconception is that small business marketing is just common sense. Nothing could be further from the truth. An understanding of how small business marketing is conducted is essential for you if success is your goal. You do want results and success don’t you?
It’s all about determining the needs of your target market and then providing solutions to meet those needs. So many people believe that marketing their small business is all about running advertisements, but it isn’t. If you are serious about your success in business, then make understanding marketing an on-going priority.
The ultimate result of small business marketing is to attract more new customers and persuade existing customers to purchase your products or services in higher quantities and more frequently. The successful can attribute their success to having a strategic plan and following it consistently. When you create a marketing plan you will be able to compete at a higher level. Your odds of winning the game significantly improve when you take the time to create a plan.
To your success!
About the Author: David Mason is President of Mason Performance Development Inc., and author of Marketing Your Small Businessfor Big Profits. Visit http://www.yourbigprofits.com/ and sign-up for The Performance Development News, a weekly ezinewith free marketing tips.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Harold S. Geneen, the President and CEO of ITT from 1959 to 1971, said that the five essential entrepreneurial skills for success are: Concentration, Discrimination, Organization, Innovation, and Communication. In this article, I will discuss each of these skills and give you some tips for using them to make your practice more successful.
Concentration: To concentrate is to focus. If you aren't focused on starting your practice, to the exclusion of just about everything else, it won't get done. It's easy to get distracted, by a current job, or financial worries, or fear, or just busyness. You must put all of your energy on getting your practice started and keeping it going. Taking your eyes off the ball causes you to waiver, and wavering means failure. Each day plan the three most important things you need to do that day. If a crisis comes up (personal or business), deal with it only if you determine it's more important than those three things. Concentrating on getting your practice started or on keeping it moving forward will pay big dividends in creating a wildly successful business.
Discriminate. To discriminate, you must differentiate between the important and the unimportant. This is the 80/20 principle: 20 percent of anything will bring 80 percent of the results. For example, 20 percent of your clients will bring in 80 percent of your sales. By looking at sales figures, you should be able to figure out which is the 20% in any situation; by discriminating between the 20 and the 80, you can concentrate your energies on the important, where they will be most productive. Here are some ways to apply this principle: If you have an employee who is in the 20 percent and causing problems, let the person go. If you have a client or patient who is just not productive and is draining your energy, let that person go. If you have a patient who is bringing in lots of referrals, focus on that person. In other words, discriminate, by focusing on the standouts. If the standout is positive, encourage this. If the standout is negative, ignore or dispense with it. Once you can do this, you will see a dramatic difference in your energy and in your practice growth.
Organize. Organizing is keeping track of all the tasks involved in managing your practice, and systematizing these tasks for efficiency. Here's an example: Collecting money. Set up an organized systematic process for assuring that you collect the money owed to you by patients or clients. Determine how often you will bill (every two weeks). Determine how and when you will contact non-payers (by phone? by letter?). Determine how and when you will take someone to collections. To organize means to assure that you have a system. Otherwise, you will let events take control of you, instead of you taking control of them.
Innovate. Never stop thinking about how to make things better. This relates to areas like marketing and promotion. How can you promote your practice to gain new clients? Some people call this "thinking outside the box." I'd call it "new ideas for changing times." A wise doctor I know said, "You have to re-invent yourself every six months." Your patient or client base never stops changing; you can't rest on your past successes. You must keep changing and adapting. If you don't think you're clever, find people who can help you with these new ideas. Call an advertising agency and have them give you an hour to toss around new ideas. Or go to your local Small Business Development Center and see if they have a marketing person who can help. Use your powers of creativity and innovation to adapt to changing times.
Communicate. This one is most important of all. To be a successful practitioner, you must be a great communicator - with your patients or clients, with your staff, with vendors, with everyone. This means you must be able to connect immediately with people one-on-one and in groups. If you don't think you're good at this, then you need to learn how. Take a Dale Carnegie course. Practice looking people in the eye. Go to Toastmasters to learn how to do public speaking. Join a networking group, like BNI. In other words, practice communicating and you'll become a better communicator.
So, to be successful in your practice, you need to concentrate, discriminate, organize, innovate, and communicate. That's all. Whoever said it was easy? That's why they call it "practice."
Copyright 2007 Jean Wilson Murray, MBA, PhD.
Dr. Jean Murray has been advising small business owners since 1974. As the founder of Planning for Practice Success, she specializes in assisting health care professionals with business plan construction and startup details. She can help you gain the knowledge to act and the confidence to begin. Learn more at http://www.professionalpracticesuccess.com/
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I'm going on vacation! By the lack of posts recently, I would say I in need of some time off. I may be able to post while on my cruise but if you do not hear from me until Thanksgiving week, just know I am on vacation.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Friday, November 9, 2007
I am working on a presentation for a group of business owners and my topic is Growth Comes from Within. What I am talking about? What could cause businesses to grow from within?
Perhaps it could be employee morale, upselling of products, or what about customer service? My presentation is going to be about customer service and how getting the customer is one task but to keep the customer is a totally different task. I believe one of the most effective ways to grow your business comes from the current customer base through excellent customer service techniques and skills.
Some of the areas I will speak about is: customer evangelism, a happy customer is a referral base. The golden rule--Treat others as you would want to be treated. Repeat sales from happy customers. I will also give suggestions on techniques to use, such as information sharing through newsletters and ezines. Follow up skills of your sales people and customer service reps.
These are just some of the areas I will touch upon. Do you have any suggestions that would be good to share with my clients? My presentation is on the 27th, so please comment and share your opinions.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I have been slacking this week with the blog entries. I could make all kinds of excuses but let me make my last entry (only other entry) concerning Top 10 and then hopefully do better this coming week.
My last entry I wrote about what I did not like about my business, now I am going to write what I do like about my business as a business coach/advisor:
- The freedom to choose with whom you work. When you work for others you have no choice but to work with the people who are put before you. Not as an independent professional--you choose to work with whom you want.
- Setting your own hours.--This is another one of those possible love/hate relationships. Even though I set my own hours, sometimes I work late in the night and all weekend. It takes time-management to ensure you do not get burned out.
- The ability to network freely. This meaning I go when and where I want to meet the people I need to meet to grow my business.
- The sky is the limit on income. I am not on someone's payroll waiting for the next salary increase.
- The ability to serve others freely. I am on my own timeclock so if I want to volunteer for events, mentoring, whatever I choose; I do it.
- Helping others to reach their goals. When working with my clients, I have enjoyed seeing them meet and exceed their goals. That is what my business is all about.
- Learning. I am utilizing many more effective tools to promote my business and myself; email marketing, SEO, blogs, and more.
- Building a network and giving referrals. I am surrounded by an excellent network to enable me to help my clients when working with them. I enjoy giving referrals for business to others I know that will take care of my clients.
- Receiving referrals. When I receive a referral from a friend, a client, or a person in my network, it is the ultimate compliment.
- The relationships I have built. Since starting my business last year, I have built many great relationships and plan on building more. It is great to know and give back to your community.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Posted by Carole DeJarnatt at 7:56 AM
Monday, October 29, 2007
While writing the last post (and finding it very difficult), I decided that this week I am going to focus on different Top 10 Lists.
Today's post is the Top 10 things I do not like to do in my business:
- Cold-calling--I not only do not like to do it, but I refuse to do it. I tried it once and I failed miserably.
- Request Payment from Delinquent Clients--I normally charge up front so do not run across this very often. But occasionally I let one go by due to financial difficulty and then I end up being the collection agency. I have never received a bad testimony so I am assuming they are pleased with the results and working with me. Come on people, give me a break!
- Taking care of accounting procedures--I can and have done this but do not share the same enthusiasm as people that are in the profession. I will be delegating all my work in the future.
- Writing articles--This is a love/hate relationship. I do like to write when I am being creative but when I have a mental block (which seems to be of late) I feel it is a chore. Should I hire a ghost writer?
- Being direct with past clients when they call for more advice without offering payment--Yes, this happens alot with one particular client but I am learning to be firm.
- Consistently updating my blog--I do not do a good job of this so frequently you will notice I share articles I receive from a distribution network. I wish I could write good content all the time but sometimes it is better said by others.
- Website design and maintenance--I am not a designer but a friend has talked me into trying to educate myself on designing template websites. Not a good idea. Leave the design work to the professionals. I spoke with one today.
- Inputting contact information from multiple business cards--I am an excellent typist and this should not take long but I have a large amount of cards that seem to stack up daily. I think this somehow ryhms with procrastination.
- Keep the checkbook updated--This is an accounting function isn't it?
- Pay bills--Does anyone like to pay bills? I realize they need to be paid and the benefit of maintaining an excellent credit score, but this is just one more reason to not work in your business, instead of on your business.
Make it a goal today to only work on your business!Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Success according to Dictionary.com:
suc·cess /səkˈsɛs/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[suhk-ses] –noun
1. the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.
2. the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.
3. a successful performance or achievement: The play was an instant success.
4. a person or thing that is successful: She was a great success on the talk show.
5. Obsolete. (outcome--1. a final product or end result; consequence; issue.
2. a conclusion reached through a process of logical thinking.)
Many definitions, most meaning the same thing.
So what is success to us? It is the same as dictionary.com; many definitions, most meaning the same thing. Success is in the eyes of the beholder.
For example, losing weight. This can only pertain to the person who is trying to achieve the outcome. Success can be 5 lbs. or 60 lbs. It all depends on who is measuring the achievements.
Next month is a measurement of achievement for success to me. Last year I left the security of a corporate position around Thanksgiving. I officially started in June 2006, but until I could separate myself from the security blanket, I was not able to grow the business.
It has been a year of learning and growth. Also a year of defining the direction. I am still in the process (daily) taking curves and turning corners. My goals are to stay focused on areas I have an expertise, maintain a client base I enjoy working with, and to exceed the customers' expectations. From the testamonies I have received from my clients, I am meeting my goals.
I write all this to motivate you, the reader, to set goals and measure your achievements. Success is in the eyes of the beholder and that is you. Some people may think you are successful, but only you know the true successes in your life.
P.S. Don't forget to Celebrate the Success!
Friday, October 26, 2007
I have been watching the frequent news broadcasts of the fires in CA and since I am on the other side of the US and so far removed from the scene, I cannot imagine the devastation that is happening in their area. I pray for these people but still cannot relate since I have only been through a house fire as a child and I am sure that cannot be the same as a wildfire.
The same is for the events in 2001. I watched it on television at the time it was happening. I remember the news reporters broadcasting and in shock when the second plane hit the second tower. Again, I am shocked at what I saw but being so far removed from the scene I cannot imagine the agony the people on sight must have been going through.
Now on the other hand, I am sure people in CA or NY cannot relate when it comes to a hurricane. In 2004, our state was hit many times over to the point of immobilizing certain areas of the state for a couple of weeks.
We cannot control the unexpected when it comes but if we plan for the future, the unknown, we will be better capable of handling the circumstances when the curve ball is thrown.
Preparedness is a state of being prepared or in readiness. Being prepared for the unknown is something we all should do in our personal and professional lives. We can never predict what will happen day to day or hour to hour.
In our lives, whether it be personal or professional, unexpected events happen and being prepared helps you to maintain some semblance of calm in an otherwise unordinary day. Think about this scenario, your neighbor does not have homeowners insurance but you do; you are better able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing your home is covered when/if the unexpected happens.
As a business owner, being prepared with a plan for disaster is not an option; it is a requirement. If you have not already thought about disaster planning, put it in your objectives and goals to start the planning process.
Most businesses and people start planning when the unexpected happens. Do not wait until a rainy day, start the planning process now. When the rain comes you will be in a better position for your efforts.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The motto "Be prepared," isn't just great advice for Boy Scouts; it's also great career advice. You never know when the perfect career opportunity will present itself. If a recruiter called you today with your dream job, are you prepared to send out an up-to-date resume right away?
There are four critical times to update your resume:
* At least once a year
* Any time your career focus changes
* When you anticipate layoffs with your company
* When you begin to feel dissatisfied with your current position
1. Update your resume every year.
This is where many people fall short. When that recruiter calls with the perfect job, you may suddenly find your resume is years out of date, and you'll have to scramble to catch up.
Keep your resume current by including your best accomplishments each year. Don't count on your memory to recall everything you achieved in years past! You are likely to overlook critical achievements and contributions. If you need assistance, a resume coach may be able to help you through the process with some targeted questions on your most recent jobs.
2. Update your resume when your career focus changes.
If you want to change your career path, then you also need to change your resume. There are several ways to shift the focus away from your current job and toward your new career.
By focusing on the skills that will be useful in your new career, you can position yourself as a stronger candidate for the job. Highlight those transferable skills in your new resume, bringing them front and center.
In addition to highlighting your transferable skills, shift your list of accomplishments to support those skills. Accomplishment statements give credibility to transferable skills and prove your ability to cross industry or occupational lines. Well-crafted accomplishments make a big difference in whether you win the interview or are passed over.
Finally, be sure you understand your audience. As you shift career focus, it is critical to understand the hiring motives of your target market. Use your resume as an effective selling tool by correctly anticipating the recruiter's "wish list" for great job candidates.
3. Update your resume when you anticipate layoffs within your company.
A harsh reality of today's economy is the need for corporate downsizing. Layoffs and losses are becoming more and more common. But you can prepare for any worst-case scenario by keeping your resume up-to-date.
Don't make the mistake of being overly optimistic. It's safer to assume that you are on the "out" list. Most people who get caught unexpectedly in a layoff thought they were indispensable to their employers. You might be important or well-liked, but remember that the bottom line always has a louder voice than you do. Get your resume ready as soon as you see any indications that downsizing is on the way.
Don't mistake company loyalty for a fear of change. Often employees would rather take their chances with a potential layoff than make proactive steps toward finding a new job. Once they're laid off, it's already too late. Remember, as a candidate, you are always more marketable while still employed. Avoid this trap and start your job search early with self-marketing tools (resume and cover letter) that are up-to-date and top quality.
4. Update your resume when you are dissatisfied with your current position.
Job dissatisfaction leads to feelings of frustration, worthlessness, and often hopelessness. But there is no reason to stay in a job you hate. Being prepared with an updated resume can help you feel better in your current job. When you have a really terrible day at work, you can respond to job opportunities that same evening with confidence in your up-to-the-minute resume. Taking proactive steps toward a new career will give you back your optimism and self worth.
If it's time for you to update your resume, first decide whether your resume requires a simple update or a complete rewrite. If you have been using the same resume format throughout your career, it's possible that you have outgrown the old look. What your resume promoted ten years ago may not be appropriate or significant for your career choices today. And if you've simply been "tacking on" to your old resume, it may start to resemble a house with too many additions, with little sense or direction.
A professional resume critique can help you decide exactly what you need to move forward. A well-written resume can make an incredible difference in:
* The length of time it takes to make your career move
* The quality of your next position
* The income potential of your next position
Your resume is your best sales tool in finding a new job, and it deserves the investment of your time and commitment. With a little extra effort now, you'll be prepared for anything that comes your way-and be well on the path to your next great job.
Deborah Walker, Career and Resume Coach, provides job seekers up-to-the-minute advice on all phases of resume and job-search effectiveness. Find more career-expert tips and see sample resumes at: http://www.AlphaAdvantage.com
Monday, October 22, 2007
by Megan Stansfield
Standards have risen sharply in recent years when it comes to making intriguing presentations. The days of boring slides and droning speakers are over. With the widespread use of PowerPoint and the ease of making colorful, interesting slides with movement and sound effects, it is expected that you will make a fabulously engaging presentation whether it's in a classroom, a boardroom, or at a trade show.
Here are some tips on how to make a terrific slide presentation.
First, be prepared. Make sure you have a laptop, a projector, and a projector cart ready to go. We recommend the Fusion Laptop Projector Cart from Versatables. Many hotels, universities, and businesses have one—so don't be afraid to ask if they do when you're getting ready to make the presentation. The Fusion Laptop Projector Cart allows for easy projection and control of the laptop from one mobile unit. If they don't have one, you may need to make other arrangements. If you aren't using your own laptop, bring your presentation on a flash drive and email it to yourself as well. Just in case the flash drive doesn't work, you'll be able to access your email on the laptop (most places now have Wi-Fi) and download it directly to the laptop you'll be working from.
Second, bring handouts of your slides just in case. I know of a woman who went to give a power point presentation and the university's projector wasn't working. Luckily, she handed out the handouts she brought and the show went on. She looked like a star for being prepared when the university wasn't.
Third, don't overdo it. Too many graphics, too much color, and too much sound can all negatively impact a presentation. You want the means of the presentation to enhance the subject you're presenting—not overpower it. Pick one color scheme and stick to it. Avoid the swirling graphics and stick to simpler ones. Don't include a million examples of clip art or decorative photographs. As you create the slides, make sure the information is presented in a clear, logical way. Then look at each individual slide and ask if there is anything that could be added to visually enhance the viewer's understanding of the material. A chart? A graphic? A photo? If the answer is no, don't include one. If it's yes, think long and hard about which graphic achieves your goal of enhancing understanding before adding it. The problem with many presentations is that they seem amateurish because the presenter went overboard decorating his/her presentation with graphics that distract more than they enhance.
Fourth, pay attention to time. If you can convey the same information in eight minutes instead of twelve, why wouldn't you? Everyone's time is precious and attention spans are short. If you're clear and concise about what you want to get across, there may not be a need to give lots of convoluted information and scenarios. Stick to one clear example that illustrates your point and applies to the people you're presenting to.
About the Author: Does your business need computer wall mounts? Or wouldn't it be great if your IT department had computer carts to setup new employees. Visit Versatables.com today.
Permanent Link: http://www.isnare.com/?aid=194639&ca=Business
Sunday, October 21, 2007
My nephew-in-law is going for a job interview tomorrow for a position in his current company but in a different part of the US. In my previous position with a company I worked for, I conducted several interviews and also exit interviews. Having experienced some good interviewees' and not so good, I offered to give him some suggestions from my experiences that will help him to be aware of some things that are looked at when interviewing.
Here are some areas to be aware when trying to achieve a successful interview:
- Dress to impress. How you appear to the person interviewing you is very important. I have interviewed people and told them to dress casual and they still wore a suit. What this action indicated to me is that the person recognized how important the interview was and dressed to impress me.
- At introduction shake hands firmly (no limp-handed shake), smile, speak clearly, and look each person in the eye. Do not come across as shy. From what little time I have been around you I do not think you will have a problem in this area.
- Be prepared with several copies of your resume, along with references. Do not use the standard resume from MS Office. Be creative and make yours stand out.
- When questioned about some of your co-workers or supervisor, always speak truthfully but never negatively. Do not tell stories on them but you can say things like “their work ethic was not the same as mine” or “I prefer to perform my duties in a different manner”.
- The same goes for questions about your previous employment. Never speak negatively about a past employer.
- Know your strengths before you walk in the room. Right now you can probably name some of your greatest strengths but when you walk in the room you may be so nervous you will forget them. Write them down and read and re-read them.
- Know your weaknesses and describe them as strengths. Pick a weakness that is really a strength. For example, you might say, "One of my weaknesses is that I tend to be impatient with people who aren't willing to pull their full weight and give 110%." In this case, your "weakness" may help you get the job.
- Ask questions. Write down questions you need answered and take them with you.
- Follow up. Very important to send a follow up email thanking them for the time and interview. One time I did interviews in Columbia, MD, and the person I interviewed bought me a t-shirt and a thank you card to the interview. I was so impressed with the creativeness of this action that I hired this person. Follow up allows you to stand out in a sea of applicants. Be creative in how you do it.
- Never talk salary unless requested by the interviewor. If they ask what your salary range is, speak more of your experience and what you have to offer. Let them make the first offer. Know the range of compensation for the job you're seeking, make your own realistic determination of what you're worth, and then be prepared to stand your ground.
The most successful interviews are those that the person comes in prepared and shows confidence. A job interview is an important step in the process of winning the career you want so act on it accordingly. No matter if you have interviewed one time or ten times, each time is just as important as the other. Learn from your experiences and make each one better than the other.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
P.S. If you are in need of advice to help you have a successful interview process, visit the company website and contact me.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I have given you enough time to complete the first few steps of the plan, now here is the remainder of the steps:
(Step 5) HOURS 9 to 18: Planning the Action
This is the heart of your game plan.
For each goal you've outlined, create a strategy; complete with your key messages and steps that will help you accomplish the goal. The good news: You have many tools at your disposal.
Consider the best vehicles for your message.
You may decide to use direct marketing programs, including postcards, sales letters, fliers; or public relations elements such as publicity, events, speaking engagements, sponsorships and NATURALLY NETWORKING (the number 1 way to grow your sales).
Online promotional opportunities are more abundant than ever, so consider designing a Web site or uploading information into a news group or special interest forum.
Write out each strategy, and beneath it, list key messages and tactics. Here's a sample:
Strategy: Position myself as the market leader in home inspections in my community.
Key messages: Homer Wright Home Inspections is a reputable, trust-worthy name in home inspections.
¨ Approach local community colleges about teaching a home-buying class.
¨ Propose a feature story to a local paper about "10 Things to Look for When Buying a Home," with me as the expert to be quoted.
¨ Create a brochure entitled "Secrets of Buying a Home." Offer it free to people that call.
¨ Issue a press release about the free brochure to local media.
¨ Send informational brochures to real estate agents and mortgage brokers who refer homebuyers to home inspectors.
For each step you plan, keep asking yourself, "Why should I do this?"
Don't decide to do big, splashy promotions if you really can't afford them. Smaller, more frequent communications are much more effective if your budget is limited.
(Step 6)HOURS 18-21: Develop Your Budget
Marketing expenses should be given priority, especially in times of slow cash flow. After all, how are you going to attract more business during the slow times if you don't tell customers about your business?
ACTION: Take a realistic look at how much money you have to spend on marketing. While you shouldn't overextend yourself, it's critical that you allot adequate funds to reach your markets. If you find that you don't have the budget to tackle all your markets, try to reach them one by one, in order of priority.
ACTION: For each of your tactics, break down each expense and outline the estimated cost of each. For example, a brochure includes writing, photography, graphic design, film, printing and delivery. From there, you can beef up or pare down your plan, depending on your financial situation.
(Step 7) HOURS 21-23: Set Your Time Frames
ACTION: Now that you've broken down the steps involved in each activity, allot a segment of time and a deadline to each.
Again, make sure you're not overextending yourself, or you may get burned out. It's better to start with smaller, more consistent efforts than an overly ambitious program you'll have to discard a few months later.
HOURS 23+: Go For It!
What you now hold in your hands is probably the most effective "to do" list you'll ever write.
You have prepared a document that can help you reach your market segments from a position of knowledge and expertise instead of from shoot-from-the-hip hunches.
Don't put your marketing plan on a shelf and forget about it.
It should be a living document that grows and changes over time. As your business reaps the benefits of your initial strategies, you may want to increase the scope of your marketing. If you find something is not working, change it.
Consistency and continuity, delivered with a dash of creativity, give you the formula for successful marketing.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Putting together a marketing plan strikes fear into even the most stalwart of people.
If you are one of those people who have your plan "upstairs," please read the following on creating a comprehensive marketing plan.
It will walk you through the process step-by-step, from taking stock of your current situation, to timing your projects. You’ll learn how to define your target market, map out your objectives, and create a realistic budget for promotion.
I won't lie to you, a marketing plan is real legwork, but this straightforward process will provide you with a great road map.
(Step 1) HOUR 1: Take Stock
Before you map out where you want to go, you need to find out where you are now.
Where have you been successful?
Where have you NOT been successful?
What do you do well?
Who are your competitors?
What do you have that they don’t?
How do your customers see you?
Why do the use you?
What are the BENEFITS they receive?
ACTION: Being as objective as possible, write four or five paragraphs that summarize your business, including your philosophy, strengths and weaknesses.
Don't worry if it's not neatly organized -- it's more important just to get everything down on paper.
(Step 2) HOURS 2 to 3: Set Your Goals
Now that you have a sense of where you are, you can decide where you want to go.
Ask yourself what you're trying to accomplish.
Increase number of customers?
Do you want to increase sales?
Establish a niche?
Enter a new market where you may not have much experience?
ACTION: Outline each of your goals, and be specific. While you should be optimistic, use a healthy dose of realism to keep you grounded.
Remember, the best marketing plan in the world is not likely to increase sales 80 percent next year, barring special circumstances such as an outstanding new product introduction or the sudden disappearance of your competition.
While it's fine to have multiple goals, be sure to prioritize them so you can create a realistic plan to achieve them.
(Step 3) HOUR 3 to 4: Pick Your Target(s)
Who are your target audiences?
How large are they?
Are there segments?
Where is your target market?
If you say "everyone," you need to rethink your answer.
Even the largest companies don't market blindly to every individual or company. They break their audiences down into distinct profiles, or niche markets, and create messages and vehicles designed to reach each segment.
ACTION: Define your niche markets as clearly and specifically as possible.
If you're reaching out to businesses, describe which type, including the industry, revenue level, location and other important characteristics.
If you identify several market segments, rank them in order of priority.
(Step 4) HOURS 4 to 9: Research You Target(s)
Now that you've outlined where you are and where you want to go, it's time to determine the best way to get there.
Nothing will get you where you want to go faster than research. Information about your target audiences is available from a variety of resources, many of them free.
ACTION: Take some time to find out about the demographics (physical characteristics) and psychographics (psychological characteristics) of your target markets.
Demographics outline such factors as age, geographic location and income level. Psychographics offer insight into trends, buying habits, market segments and the like.
Trade associations and publications are often great places to start your research, especially if you're reaching out to businesses. Use your own and your target industries' trade resources for market information. Many associations have Web sites, and many publications are also available on the Net. For information about consumer audiences in your region, try your state or county's department of economic development.
Once you've gathered this information, write a detailed profile of your audience segments. Include all the demographic and psycho-graphic information you've gathered.
Tomorrow I will share the rest of the article. Just so you are aware, this information was supplied to me by a network I belong and I am not the author, just the presenter to my readers. I hope the information shared is a benefit to you.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
I have come to the end of a contract with one of my clients. We have spent the last three months focusing on creating marketing material and activities to bring full circle the artwork, book writing, and speaking engagements of the business. Each piece of the business feeds off of each other but in the beginning there was not a clear view of how to successfully promote this.
We met frequently and also spent time on the telephone. A media package was created that was successful in getting an article in the newspaper and also finished off this week with a couple of bookings of speaking engagements for the business in the future.
To me it is the greatest pleasure to see the goals reached at the end of our commitment together. This does not always happen because some efforts takes months to see the outcome of the initiatives, but in this case, we saw it at the very end of our contract.
It should be every businesses goal to achieve the customers' goals. No matter if you are a retail store or a business coach, the goal in business is to create an experience for the customer so when they leave they are singing praises. Customer service at its best.
Even if the client and I had finished our contract without a booking, we still would have accomplished our goals and the client was satisfied. The client realized that it would take time to reap the benefits from the fruits of our labor. The material created to promote the business was the goal. The booking of an engagement was the benefit.
Make it your goal to create an experience your customer/client will not forget. Can you imagine the testimonies you receive when goals are met? I have received my testimony in writing and plan on putting it on my website soon!
Go out and create a pleasing customer experience!
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Emails are something I abundantly blessed and/or cursed with. Blessed because I value and enjoy hearing from people and cursed because it backs up daily to the point it overwhelms me.
Here is a great article on managing your email. Now if I would just take heed to what was suggested.
Email is one on the most valuable timesaving tools available in the business world today. Imagine if every time you had to get a message to a client, supplier or employee, you had to pick-up the phone or meet with them in person. The lost hours could be astronomical. Thankfully email allows us to save the time potentially lost to the chit-chat and idle gossip that can occur as a result of talking on the phone or in person. But as much time as email can save for some, it is a major distraction that actually causes the loss of concentration and time for others.
Let's face it, with email being such a quick and simple form of communication, most people don't think twice about responding to emails as they arrive or sending a "quick" note on just about anything. But, all those "quick" notes can quickly add up. If you find that way too much time in your day is being lost to email, the following tips may help you regain the precious time that was meant to be saved by email.
1. Set a schedule to read and respond to emails. For most business owners or employees, reading and responding to your emails at scheduled times at the beginning, middle and end of the day will prevent the loss of concentration that can be caused by responding to email as it arrives. For some, it's vital to check emails almost constantly throughout the day. If this is the case for you, only respond to the most urgent emails, and reply to the less pressing ones during your scheduled email response times.
2. Set up an email organizational system. You can program your email to automatically sort itself for you based on certain conditions such as, the sender or the title. Some email programs such as MS Outlook will even let you color code your email, to allow you to sort them more efficiently and differentiate between important and non-urgent emails.
3. Set-up an autoresponder for general client inquiries. An autoresponder will automatically respond to emails sent to it. This means you can respond to frequently asked questions automatically while for other inquiries, you can let the client know that their message has been received and give them a time frame in which you will respond to their inquiry.
4. Don't be afraid not to respond to friends sending you chain emails or jokes. If you don't have time to read them and/or respond, just delete. Most people won't be offended by not receiving a "ha ha, very funny" email in return.
5. If you have an Administrative Assistant, allow them to sort your email and send general responses to the less important ones. An Assistant can also check your email throughout the day and notify you of anything that needs to be responded to urgently. Exchange servers facilitate this timesaving method. If an Assistant isn't feasible for you due to space or monetary considerations, you could consider delegating this task to a Virtual Assistant.
6. If a considerable amount of your time is being wasted sorting through junk mail, if possible, heighten your email security. If this is not possible, performing a simple internet search for "stop spam" should give you a selection of programs designed to decrease or eliminate spam.
Email was developed to be a timesaving device. Don't let it run your business day by making you less efficient. By simply organizing your email and setting specific times to respond to it, you can gain back the time that was initially meant to be saved by email.
Kelly Sims is a Virtual Assistant and President of Virtually There VA Services. To find out more about virtual assistance and how using a Virtual Assistant can simplify your life, visit her website at => http://www.virtuallythereva.com . While you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for her free monthly newsletter providing useful information that enhances and simplifies the lives of busy entrepreneurs.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
As a self-employed entrepreneur/business owner, one of the many ways I utilize to build recognition is by writing. I submit to websites such as Ezinearticles.com, ISnare.com (an article submission site), and locally the Jacksonville Business Journal. I am always thrilled when they pick up something I wrote.
With the Business Journal they own all copyright to the article so I cannot share through my normal resources. But I am able to share by linking to the article via their website. So if you have an interest and would like to see the lastest article I have published by them, click here to view it: Email Etiquette 101.
If you have any feedback, make comments.
Enjoy your weekend and I hope it is drier where you are than here in rainy Florida.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Here is an article that goes along with my opinions on the marketing process. The author also has a blog that I subscribed to that is full of marketing information to help give you strategies and ideas to help you be successful in marketing your business.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
The title of today's article captures the single greatest small business marketing mistake I encounter - and I encounter it every single day.
Small business owners often fall prey to the marketing whim of the week, chasing every new way to do direct mail or draw web site visitors they encounter, because they have no real marketing strategy to help them drive marketing decisions. If I could change anything about the way small business owners view marketing - that would be it.
Without a strategy firmly in place to use as a filter for where the business is headed, it's far to difficult to really analyze whether any particular tactic or marketing initiative makes sense for a business or not.
By strategy I mean your marketing reason for being, the position you want to hold in the mind of your customer and, no, "I want to exchange money for something with anyone we can," is not a strategy, it's a disaster plan. Far too many people think "we want to sell lots of stuff to lots of people" is a strategy.
The world doesn't really need another accountant, electrician, real estate agent, or small business of most any kind, so if that's what you are, then you better get a way to stand out that's based on a sound strategy. The world, or at least a market segment, will always need the accountant, electrician or real estate agent that does business in new and different ways, ways that matter to a specific market.
To develop an effective marketing strategy you must spend some energy determining two crucial factors: who makes an ideal client for your firm and how your firm is indeed different than everyone else that claims to be in your same business.
If is, in fact, quite possible that there are entire subsets of what you might call a target market that are not at all a fit for your business. You've got to get very clear, and often narrow, about the characteristics of a client your firm is best suited to serve. If you have clients already, the best place to look to identify your ideal clients is the subset of clients that is most profitable and has a tendency to refer business to you. These folks likely love what you do, are emotionally attached enough to tell friends, and value the relationship they have to your company. If you can come up with a crystal clear image of what these folks look like, part of your marketing strategy should focus on finding more of these and saying no to the rest
The second half of your marketing strategy involves discovering your firm's best chance to stand out and differentiate. You may already do something that truly is unique and need only communicate it as your strategy. Or, you may need to find one something that you can do famously, such as dominating a narrow niche market or packaging your services like no one else in your industry dreamed of doing.
Once you create a powerful strategy for your business all of focus can turn to creating and implementing tactics that can bring your strategy to life.
John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, award winning blogger and author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide. You can find more information by visiting http://www.ducttapemarketing.com .
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Many small businesses today have an idea and start a business with high hopes and a dream. Once they have started their business they take advice of friends and business acquaintances and start the conventional marketing process that was suggested. They join the Chamber of Commerce, a BNI group, search out other networking groups, find venues with the ability to meet others; these are common suggestions.
Many do not consider the internet options available to promote their business. The internet has added a whole new arena of promotional activities available to business. Here is a list of venues to promote your business online:
1. Start a Blog—Assuming you have a website, a blog helps to draw traffic and also gives you a venue to add credibility to yourself if you are offering content about topics that you business serves.
2. Search the internet for local websites to add your business listing—There are a variety of options available locally, and the majority free, that helps to bring traffic to your website. Search for your local city websites to view what is offered. The latest I have come across is Merchant Circle. This website allows free listings and is updated frequently to add benefits for their listers.
3. Network online, as well as, offline—Become familiar with the Web 2.0 world and join social networking groups online. There is LinkedIn, Ecademy, Xing, and others. No matter what type of network you join, online or offline, become active. Activity online is in the form of answering or asking questions in forums. Activity helps you to build recognition and credibility.
4. Write articles and submit to online resources—Write articles of quality and benefit to your customers. It easily helps you to become an authority in your business and draws traffic to your website. A good resource for submitting articles is Ezinearticles.com.
5. Press Release to promote your business—Hire someone to write a press release about your business. Submit and share updated information about your business to the local newspapers. You can submit this online and offline to various media outlets in your area.
Opportunities exist abundantly for businesses today to market their products and services. Thinking outside of the box to come up with creative ways to market your business and build recognition is a long term, never-ending project. When success is met with one idea, it is on to the next. Be creative, write effectively, and speak energetically about your business. Success is around the corner if you consistently share your message online and offline.
Until the next time,
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Monday, October 1, 2007
I am struggling the past few days with writers block. In part I believe it is due to disorganization on my part which in turn causes me to think in several directions instead of staying focused. But this is my problem and I do not want to let my readers down by not continuing on with articles of value and content. So today I gladly share with you an article I found that speaks about a topic I enjoy, marketing. I hope this article will help you to avoid mistakes in your initiatives. Thanks to Robert, a subscriber of my newsletter, as well as a writer of quality content that I am pleased to share.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Everybody makes mistakes and entrepreneurs are no exception. But for an entrepreneur with a limited budget, committing mistakes too often can be very costly. It is an open secret in the business world that most of the mistakes that can be committed in business have been committed; so why not just learn from them, saving you the agony of committing them yourself.
With that said, here are 7 costly small business marketing mistakes every entrepreneur must avoid:
1. An Incongruent Marketing Message
To effectively sell your product or service, your customer has to "get" the marketing message. A customer-centric marketing message educates your prospects and persuades them to become customers. Too many small businesses make the mistake of focusing their message on the product or company, instead of how the prospect would benefit by purchasing their product. Prepare the right marketing message with some of these in mind:
• Identify the prospect's problem.
• Explain to the prospect why the problem should be solved immediately and explain why your product or service is the right solution to their problems.
• List the benefits your prospects would enjoy upon purchasing your product and provide an unconditional guarantee to allay any fears they may have.
2. "Spray-and-Pray" Marketing Instead Of Precision Marketing
The days of marketing as a zero-sum game are over. You must demand accountability from your marketing efforts, expecting tangible results in the form of a healthy ROI (return on investment). Differentiate your marketing messages and target them to meet the specific needs and wants of your prospects and customers.
Many small businesses are guilty of the dreaded "spray-and-pray" marketing ideology, which inevitably drains their resources to the point where it very often leads to their demise.
Do not commit this same mistake, but instead practice precision marketing, where every aspect of your marketing and advertising efforts are measured and tracked for maximum returns.
3. Failing To Realize Marketing Is About Value Creation
To create a sustainable small business, you have to market something of value to the prospect and customer. Marketing is your business and creating value for your customers should permeate through all your marketing efforts. Strive to always over-deliver because customers love to receive more than they expect and the easiest way to do so is to develop a thorough understanding of their wants and desires.
4. Selling Instead Of Educating
You must have heard about the age-old principle that "people love to buy but hate being sold to." It is a principle that will continue to hold true for ages to come, but unfortunately, many small businesses still fail to adhere to it. The fastest way to get rid of a prospect is to try forcing a sale out of him or her.
Education-based marketing, however, is a powerful marketing strategy to overcome this problem of being sold to. This strategy makes use of giving away valuable information, educating your prospect about the benefits of owning your product or using your service, offered to them as free reports, video cassettes, CDs, or DVDs in exchange for their contact information.
It is a strategy that builds trust with the prospects resulting in a much higher closing ratio. So, forget about throwing a sales pitch and try educating your prospects instead for a higher conversion rate.
5. Failing To Test
The biggest mistake any entrepreneur can make with their business is the failure to test every possible variable most important to their customers. This applies to both online and offline marketing efforts.
I can understand if small businesses faced more difficulty with market testing because of limited budgets years ago, but the Internet has done away with this excuse. It has become so cheap to conduct price tests and sales copy tests and identify what campaigns, keywords, and metrics give you the best ROI online that not testing any of these has become a cardinal sin.
6. Not Following Up With Prospects Or Customers
Small businesses spend a great sum of money acquiring customers, which makes it all the more difficult to understand why many of them don't follow up with their customers, or even their prospects after the "front end" sale.
It has been well documented that true riches are to be found in the backend sales and the reason for this is simple. If a customer or prospect raises his or her hand to do business with you, it means an element of trust has been established and a business relationship is ready to be formed. They are more then likely to buy from you repeatedly if you make it a point to capture their contact information and develop a follow-up system for communicating with them frequently.
7. Selling To The Wrong Target Market
Never assume that your product or service will appeal to a general audience because this assumption has profoundly resulted in many small businesses shutting up shop. Large businesses are guilty of this too, but you can save yourself from committing such a rash mistake by asking yourself these two questions:
• Who are your customers, or who is your target market?
• Who will use your service, or who will buy your product?
Answer these questions with absolutely clarity and segment these markets by demographics and psychographics to zero in on your ideal customer. The time spent doing this correctly will add nicely to your bottom line.
Just remember that to succeed, you must be prepared to fail, so don't fear the eventual mistake but learn from it.
Robert Moment is an innovative small business coach , speaker and author. Robert specializes in teaching entrepreneurs how to start a small business that profits and grow. Visit http://www.howtostartyoursmallbusiness.com/ and sign-up for the FREE Small Business Coaching 7 day e-course.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I am considering having a video business card made to promote on my website and also via my emails. I also am considering adding video to my website to encourage visitors to visit all the pages of the website by describing the content. The article below gives different ideas for use of video. Have you been creative in utilizing video for your own business promotion? If so, please share with the readers and myself.
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
By Paul Lyke
No medium is so versatile and interchangeable as video. With a single one time investment into the video production, you can have many different uses and delivery methods. See how a one time video investment pays for itself over and over again, with just these ten ways.
1. TV Commercials. Statistics show that 93% of all people in an area still watch some sort of network programming. Plus with accurate demographic statistics, many businesses owe their huge successes to running effective TV spots.
2. Web Video. Putting the same commercial spot or promotional video on your site is becoming quite popular, as it's easier for visitors to watch a video compared to sifting through mounds of tiny text.
3. Promotional DVD. These are great to offer your prospective customers to help them learn about your products or services, and will prove to them why they need to choose you over your competitors.
4. Business Card CDROMs. These are discs that are the size of business cards and usually have your actual business card printed on the front side of it. So everytime you pass out a business card to your contacts, they are presented with the opportunity to watch your promotional video, instead of just reading your motto on your business card.
5. Kiosks. Depending on the type of business you have, an interactive kiosk will give your current or prospective customers the opportunity to access only the information they need.
6. Virtual Salesmen. When selling products in a retail environment, a video will capture the shopper's attention and inform them about the benefits of products that normally may be difficult to understand by just looking at the box.
7. Trade Show Videos. Similar to the kiosk, a video display at trade shows will be more intriguing than a traditional banner display, and make your booth less intimidating than having salesmen waiting to pounce on them.
8. Product Catalog. If you have a customer by one of your products, then they should receive a DVD catalog of all your OTHER products for cross selling demonstrations.
9. Direct Mail. When sending out brochures, pamplets, or folders of company information, be sure to include a DVD or business card DVD as well. Again, people will always do what is easiest…and watching a video beats reading through pages and pages of information.
10. Podcasts / PDAs. Compress your video down to a podcast or pda format, and distribute online.
About the Author: Paul Lyke is the Managing Director of MidSouth Visual, Inc., a Nashville video production agency.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Here is an article I found that has good information to help small businesses. I work with several small businesses and some of what is listed below causes them to either have problems or have a need to get further funding. Don't let these happen to you.
Small Businesses - Don't Let this Happen to You
By Deepak Dutta
About 500,000 new businesses will start over the next 12 months. About 400,000 of them will fail. Want to know the top 10 reasons why? Here they are:
1. Inadequate Accounting Records -
In other words, failure to properly manage cash flow. Think about it. Most new entrepreneurs start their businesses because of a love for a product or service. They start it because they love what they've created and think others will love it too. Or they love working on certain kinds of problems, from wedding planning to building design. What they don't love is numbers. Unfortunately cash-flow is the blood of any business. When you're out of it, you're dead.
2. Disregarding or Misinterpreting Financial Records -
This is related to reason number one. There's plenty of inexpensive software that can do a good job of counting cash in and cash out for even the most mathematically challenged of us, but you also have to know what the numbers mean. The numbers tell a clear story. If you disregard that story or misinterpret it, surprises are not just likely, they're a virtual certainty. And they're probably not going to be pleasant surprises.
3. Not Controlling Costs -
Starting to notice a pattern here? Again, a cash issue. There's an old business saying that goes "if you can't measure it, you can't manage it". It's applicable to almost all business activities but certainly is important in controlling your costs. Unless you are one of the fortunate few who have more than enough financial capital to launch and run your business and can run in a negative cash flow situation while you build your business, you absolutely must be obsessed with cost control. As stated earlier when you run out of cash you're dead.
4. Inviting Fraud Through Poor Internal Controls -
You may be surprised to see this one on the list. But remember what we're talking about here, small businesses. Companies like Dell, Microsoft and Home Depot, to name just a few, have both the deep pockets and usually the financial controls in place to survive or completely avoid any serious harm through fraud. Joe's Electric, or Mom and Pop's Corner Deli, or Smith Brother's Tool and Die usually don't have that luxury. Cash is almost always an issue from week to week or even day to day and one dishonest employee can wreak havoc. It happens all the time. For example, small tool theft is a huge problem for most small contractors, It's not that they don't remedy the situation if it happens, the problem comes when they don't prevent thefts in the first place. It's your money. Keep a close watch on it.
5. Improper or Inadequate Planning -
Where do you want your business to be a month from now? How about a year from now? It's always surprising how many small business owners treat what is probably their first or second most valuable asset with such a casual attitude. Consider the case of the owner of a small (10 employee) auto body shop. The owner had absolutely no idea what his sales were on a daily basis. When asked how he can do any sort of planning or exercise any sort of control over his business without that most basic of daily reports, he simply said that his accountant takes care of that. A classic case of the small business owner who started his own shop because he liked what he did (auto body work in this example) but didn't have a clue when it came to the "business of his business". That alone is sad enough. But very often, even when the help they need is readily available, planning for the future, retirement, their family's well-being, the attitude is simply "Hey, I've succeeded so far. What could anyone possibly teach me?" A classic case of the "my business is unique syndrome."
6. Failure To Sell Aggressively -
There's a saying in business that goes "nothing happens until somebody buys something". Perhaps more appropriate from the small business owners point of view is to say "nothing happens until somebody sells something". Many business owners look on competition as a good thing in general (i.e. when they're the customer) but a bad thing for their business. That's short-sighted thinking. Competition makes an individual business better. The trick is to be more aggressive than the competition. Consumers have a lot of choices; more now than ever before. The next "store" is just a mouse click away. Whether the selling is face to face, over the phone, direct response or on-line, aggressiveness is required. And aggressive doesn't mean pushy or obnoxious. That just drives people away. Aggressive is being where the customer is with what the customer wants at a price the customer finds acceptable.
7. Insufficient Working Capital -
Working capital is defined as current assets minus current liabilities. For most small businesses it simply means your bank account balance. Working capital is what lets you run your business day-to-day. If a business fails to control costs effectively (see #3 above), it can quickly run out of working capital and would more than likely have to find alternative means of financing business operations through a cash infusion. This usually means a bank loan, but it could mean cash advances on credit cards, or personal loans from friends or family. It is very important, however, that business owners fully understand the reasons behind the shortage of working capital and address those root causes. A small business can only borrow so much before it becomes a case of throwing good money after bad.
8. Not Carrying Adequate Insurance -
Every business needs to carry insurance. Depending on the type of business, the type of insurance will vary. For most businesses liability insurance is enough. For brick-and-mortar type businesses, other types of insurance will be necessary. But the point here is that one incident without adequate insurance coverage can easily destroy or do serious damage to a small business. This also goes to the structure of the business. A sole proprietorship leaves your personal assets wide open to lawsuits. The type and amount of insurance is beyond the scope of this article. The small business owner should seek professional help from accountants and lawyers when making these decisions. Some time and money invested up front will more than pay for itself should the need for insurance arise.
9. Failing to Adequately Train Employees -
When it comes to hiring employees, a typical scenario is for the small business owner to hire the person he or she thinks is best qualified, and turn them loose on the job. While this can work, it's not the best way of going about running a business. Again the amount and type of training will vary from business to business. Employees who deal with customers face-to-face will require much different training than employees who are in the back room. The point is, you expect your employees to perform and to carry out the job they were hired to do. Give them the training they need and the tools they need to reach those goals. While failing to train employees usually a failure that can be overcome and usually won't kill a business by itself, your business will not be running at optimal levels.
10. Not Seeking Professional Help or Advice When Needed -
At the beginning of this article we talked about the typical small business being started by a person who loves what they do or by a person who has a product that they have developed. It's not usually the case that the small business owner has all the skills necessary to run a small business right from the start. This is particularly true as the small business grows. The complexity of running the business grows with it. This is not at all a deficiency in the small businessman. It is simply a matter of him or her needing a new skill set to match the new demands of the business. The smart business owner will seek out those who have expertise and get training, coaching, or mentoring in those areas. Unfortunately, most small business owners are hesitant to admit that they are wrong and even more hesitant to admit that they lack some skill needed to run the business. Seeking help is a good thing. It's not a sign of weakness. It's not a sign of lack of intelligence. It is simply a sign that the business is growing and the owner must grow with it.
So that's the top 10 list. The more aware the business owner is of these problems, the better position he or she will be in to address them early before they become critical.
Dr Deepak Dutta, creator of oldest online free classified site, has launched Million$Dig to help users increase traffic to their websites using a unique method. Users also get a chance to win one million dollar. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Deepak_Dutta