Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ten Different Ways to Use Video For Your Business

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.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

Ten Different Ways To Use Video For Your Business
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

Small Businesses Don't Let this Happen To You

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.

Carole DeJarnatt

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:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Are you Searching or Feeding your Current Customer Base?

An associate emailed yesterday and was asking for suggestions on how to help his client get more customers. The business is 20 years old, air conditioning and heating company, and had made money in the past but now was just making ends meet. The associate thought the market was saturated and it was hard to stand out in a sea of air conditioning companies. What do you think?

I totally disagreed. I do not care how many current companies offer the same service, customer service is what makes you stand out. I recently bought an air conditioner unit over a year ago. Have I heard from this company? Have they called to see if I would like a check up?

The company was thinking they needed new customers but did they forget their past customers? The easiest person to sell to is someone who is a present customer and is satisfied with your service and/or products. Most businesses do not recognize the goldmine they have in their current customers.

I recommended to him that they survey their current customer base for feedback on products and service. Take notice of the positive comments and utilize them for testimonies; utilize the negative comments to identify areas in which the company should work on improvement. Turn your weaknesses into strengths and create "Customer Evangelists". When your customers are satisfied they are sharing with the world the excellent service and products you offer. This in turn creates repeat business but also helps to grow your customer base.

Another area of recommendation was to do follow up calls quarterly, seasonally, and after an installation of new products. If you remind people they need to service their high dollar investment to keep it running smoothly, most people will come back to the seller of the product if their service is good.

Another must for the customer friendly business, create a newsletter for mailings to customers keeping your business name in front of them. Write or buy articles of content that are a benefit and information for your customers. Offer specials through your newsletter.

Businesses will continue to succeed if they continually strive to meet their customers' expectations and if they over achieve they will have a customer for life along with all the word-of-mouth advertising that this person shares. Feed your current customers and searching for customers will become obsolete.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Follow up to Coaching By Mom

What happens when someone hires a coach but they are not fully committed?

Well that is what happened with my son. I was the person committed, not him. He did reach his daily goals of applying for jobs. He also told me he identified one area of improvement--his communication. Even though he reached these goals it was not due to commitment, it was something to do everyday.

Whether you are working with a coach you have hired or are working on your own to achieve certain goals--you have to be committed. With no commitment you are almost guaranteed to fail.

If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always got.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Time Management: Put First Things First

Here is an article I came across that has some good advice for those of us who struggle with getting tasks completed and have a feeling of being overwhelmed at times. Hope it helps to get your work week off to a good start!

Carole DeJarnatt

Time Managment Tip: Put First Things First and Avoid A Common Time Managment Mistake

A common time management mistake is to attempt to do too many things and not distinguish between the important and critical. What is time management? Time management, in the true sense of the word, can be defined as doing the right thing the right way at the right time. When one does not do things in the right way, i.e., prioritize things that have to be done, a lot of time is taken up in doing the non-essentials.

The golden rule of time management is to put first things first. Do things in order of importance and avoid wasting time on the non essential. The 80/20 rule applies here. 80% of your results will depend on the critical 20% of things that are the most important. The key is to identify what is important.

Identify things that can only be done by yourself, and no one else. These are the critical success factors in time management and your life. Ask yourself , "What one thing could I do, that I'm not currently doing, which, if I did it regularly would make the biggest difference in my life?" Then devote as much time as you can to activities that make a difference and contribute most to your happiness and success.

In your life, think of the most crucial thing that would make a difference. For example in terms of finance management, Is it improving your skills at your current job, learning another skill so you can prepare for the future, or tidying up your finances so you won't be losing money?

For example, in a retail shop, what is the number one thing that will make a difference in their bottom line? To improve sales. So the most effective time management practice and goal setting tool would be to improve sales. They can brainstorm ways to do this. Rather than focusing on other things, like renovating the shop front so it would look nicer, which they've always wanted to do. But it is not effective use of time and resource at the moment.

How about the most effective way to spend time with your kids? Is it cooking meals and doing the laundry for them, or spending time to help them in their schoolwork? For example, the cooking can be left to someone else so it will free you to spend quality time with children. They can have their full stomachs and you at the same time.

Brainstorm a list of things that only you can do. Then prioritize in the order of importance. This is the essence of time management – identifying things that do matter. So that you can have time for things that matter.

May is passionate about helping others achieve the life of their dreams. Live, love, be, do and have. Get your inspirational resources at . Get your Free Report on attracting success at: .

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Turn Lemons into Lemonade--Make the Best with What you Have

I am writing about a situation I am presently facing at the moment and my hope is by sharing what I did others will learn from my experience and not do this themselves.

I am a facilitator of a workshop. I normally give free breakfasts and invite people to attend and share a brief portion of the workshop hoping they will want to sign up for it.

Well I held my first one at the end of January. It went well, 12 people attended and I had three who had an interest in going through the workshop. In my opinion, three wasn't good enough so I had another luncheon in March. It was a flop with no interest. The problem with that one was targeting the wrong types of businesses. My third one was a breakfast and held in June. I had one more interested.

So now I have four who are interested, all female. So again I think I need a male participant in this workshop so I do not move forward. After running a radio ad I got two more males interested in the workshop. So now I am ready and it is September. What do you think happened?

I start contacting the earliest people and one is still interested but does not want to start until January. Another one of the ladies cannot remember what it was about so she is reviewing the information again, and the third lady is closing her business so not interested anymore. Not to mention the business that was donating the space to hold the workshop now does not return my phone calls. (I really do not know what is up with that).

In my opinion here is a couple of things I did wrong:

  1. My expectations were set to high. If I had to do it over again I would start right after the January meeting with just two people, possibly three. If my hold up was because I wanted a male perspective in the group, I could have given away a free workshop to meet that need.
  2. I did one informational email to the group during the summer to let them know I was still working on bringing it to fruition. In hindsight I should have sent out a monthly just to keep them refreshed on the workshop.

Today, I am working on having another introductory breakfast but in my original plan that would have been my second group. Now it may turn out to be my first group. What I am planning on doing about the original group is to offer to launch it in January but must have payment now to lock in the old price. (Now there is a higher price than when it was originally offered in January).

As far as the business offering their space, I will find another. It is still my goal to contact the business that was offering the space to ensure all is well. I do understand how circumstances change so perhaps something came up that the room is occupied.

What I hope my readers gain from my experience, is to not make excuses for moving forward. Be glad for what was given and turn it into something special. There is nothing wrong with small or not exactly being what you wanted, just make the best possible experience for those at the time.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisor, Inc.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Coaching by Mom

Let me paint the picture for you--son in college, a couple of nights in jail due to drag racing (and not paying a few speeding tickets), and no job. We are not only paying for his college, we are also paying his living expenses. There is a book available called "This is Not the Life I Signed Up For" by Donna Partow and I can relate to the message.

This no-job thing has been going on since Memorial Day when he had his run in with the law. If you have been reading my posts you will note my profession of choice is Business Coaching/Advising. So last weekend I thought, "Why not utilize my skills on my own son?" People pay good money for career coaching and I didn't have any to spare for someone other than me so thought I would give it a shot. It definitely couldn't hurt. Here is a shortened version of our conversation:

(Mom)--Do you know what a Business Coach does?
(Mom)--My job is to help people to find out what holds them back from succeeding on what they are trying to achieve. I am going to be your coach to help you figure out why you are not getting the jobs that you are interviewed for. Pretend like it someone else you are speaking with and you are paying for these phone conversations.
(Mom)--In your interviews of late, why do you think they did not call you back?
(Son)--I Don't know.
(Mom)--Were there other applicants or interviewees present? If so, how did you compare in presentation of yourself?
(Son)--Good. (Good meaning blue jeans and a collared shirt).
(Mom)--Do you think it might be better to show up in khaki's instead of jeans?
(Son)--On a bicycle? (Lost his license).
(Mom)--Yes. Your goal is to outshine anyone present so they will want to hire you on the spot.
(Mom)--If you could identify one behavior or area you need improvement what would it be?
(Son)--I don't know.
(Mom)--Do you want a job?
(Son)--Yes, I need the money.
(Mom)--Money is a good motivator but people want to hire employees because of other factors besides money. How about because you would like to work there, be around other people, enjoy the environment, love hamburgers?(he was applying at Burger King).
(Mom)--Do you like girls?
(Mom)--When interviewing just imagine all the new girls you will meet while working and taking orders. That is a different type of motivation for wanting to work in that venue. Do you understand what I am saying?
(Son)--Yes (very agreeable).

The conversation went on like this for about 20 minutes. At the end of the call I told him he owed me ??? for the 30 minutes of coaching time and gave him a plan of action for the following week. He laughed, I didn't. I just pray it helps.

Here is his goals to be accomplished:

1. Identify one area needing improvement when interviewing or applying for a job and modify.
2. Pay attention to other applicants when applying for a job. Note their appearance, their actions, how they represent themselves to a stranger, etc.
3. Apply for one job daily.
4. Call on Friday to update on progress of goals.

I do not know if this will work or not but I figure it cannot hurt. I will update you when I have more to report and let you know how my test is going.

Are any of the readers having problems finding a job recently or in the past? If so, what turned the key for you? Perhaps I can use your ideas in my coaching with my son.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Business to Business--No Customer Service

I was speaking with a friend who owns a childrens hair salon the other day and she was expressing her dismay of the business world today. She told me in the past year she has been in business, almost all of her B2B contact has resulted in no follow-up and poor customer service.

She currently has her business listed with a business broker since June and from the day she listed she has not had any contact from them. I guess they have her listing under contract so that is all that mattered. Do they not realize what word-of-mouth advertising she could give for them? What is wrong with this company?! An update would be nice!

She said the same happened with her liability insurance. Where is the agent that signed her up? They must have got the commission and ran. She asked me if I thought this was regional mind set or did I think it was across the US.

I have stated this before, to beat out the competition all you have to do is have excellent customer service. Following up on your orders, meetings, or business interaction, with a phone call makes you outstanding in the eyes of a business owner. Most get the order placed and move on to the next business. Repeat business is the easiest to maintain because all it takes is customer service. You do not have to sell them on your product or service because they already know what you offer and have purchased previously. Now they would like a little TLC--Tender Loving Care!

Recently I was putting together an E-book titled "The Ebook on Customer Service" to offer to new subscribers when signing up for my newsletter. As I was in the process my thoughts were, will people want this? If they do, will they utilize the information in the book? Seriously, I doubt it. But if the information compiled will help just one business owner/manager/entrepreneur have better success when trying to achieve excellence in customer service, I have achieved my goal.

Carole DeJarnatt

P.S. If you would like a copy of this Ebook, visit the company website, Alliance Advisors, Inc. and sign up for my newsletter. If you are not interested in the newsletter, you can always opt out at a later date.

Friday, September 7, 2007

USP--Unique Selling Proposition

Identifying Your Unique Selling Proposition.

Your USP. Also called Unique Selling Position or Unique Selling Point.

If you’ve done your homework well and have chosen a specific target market – you might have nailed an untapped group of people and you’ll be in the enviable position of not having any competition.

But for the rest of us – even if we have narrowed our target market down well, we’ll still have others who are attempting to reach and serve the same group of people.

Some tight markets are incredibly competitive. Standing out from the crowd is hard work.

Every small business with any competition at all needs to identify or develop their Unique Selling Point.

This means, when a potential client lines you up with the half dozen or so possible competitors – why will they want to pick you?

Question: How is what you offer different from what your competitor offers?

 Are you cheaper?
 Are you faster?
 Have you been doing it longer?
 Do you have more training?
 Do you have a bigger staff?
 Can you offer around the clock support?
 Do you work with a spirit of excellence?
 Are you more modern or traditional?
 Do you have more choices?
 Are you more earth friendly?
 Do you offer them a shared perspective?

There are probably a lot of different things that make you unique – but you have to identify the areas that will best resonate with your target market.

It would be a great idea to make a list of what you feel gives you a unique approach to your business and ask for some feedback from others who have a grasp on your target market. (A business coach would be great.)

Whoever you ask for feedback, have them tell you if any of the items on your list make them think ‘so what?’ (Perhaps you think it makes you special but nobody else really cares.)

Ask them if knowing any of these things about you inspires additional trust or makes them feel drawn to you in a special way.

If you bounce these ideas with a few different people you can narrow it down and start to develop your own USP – then you’ll be on your way to communicating it to your market and working it into your overall business brand.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Steps To Identify Your Target Market

Answer a few questions… but I warn you not to answer them too quickly. This takes a lot of thought and consideration to do correctly.

Question: Who would like to buy what you have to offer?

Do not just say ‘Women’. That is a gender identification, not a target market. All women are not alike. They have a wide variety of lifestyles, values and interests.

Do not just say ‘Golfers’. That identifies a group of people who partake of a sporting activity but it’s not a target market. Among golfers there are huge differences. Are you targeting the ever so often golfer with a cheap tips video or are you targeting the lifestyle golfer who travels regularly to play in competitions.

Be very specific. ‘Start up Fundraiser Coaching Professionals”

Question: Why is she interested in what you have to sell?

Don’t say ‘She will like it because she is a Mom’ because there are no products that ‘all moms’ are interested in. (Unless it’s an Artificial Intelligence Housekeeper and I think even then you’d get a few naysayers.)

Be very specific. ‘Start up Fundraiser Coaching Professionals” will want to secure this product because it contains the tricks and skill builders they need to attract their first clients.’

Question: What stage of life is she in?

 Young & Single
 Young & Married
 Young Motherhood
 Middle Motherhood
 Late Motherhood
 Empty Nest
 Older & Single
 Older & Married

These stages of life are important factors in identifying a target market. How you choose to communicate with your potential clients, you will need to take this information into consideration.

What motivates a young married woman isn’t going to motivate an empty nester.

For example, if you want to reach young singles you’ll probably want to use graphics and promotional materials that look trendy and highly relative or popular to modern day media.

On the other hand, to reach older married people you will choose a more traditional style and convey a stability that will resonate with older consumers.

Question: How much money does she have to spend?

 Frugal
 Average
 Upper Middle Class
 Wealthy

Financial income brackets are one of the most important issues in choosing and communicating with your target market.

The financially strapped client will be attracted to messages that imply that they’re getting a great value or saving money. Wealthy clients will be more interested in hearing that your product is made of the best ingredients and created for distinctive tastes.

Some individuals will only be interested in products that clearly demonstrate that they’re cheaper than everything else. They’re so driven by their tight budget or their personal commitment to frugality that they’ll choose one product over another on price point alone.

And in the other extreme, there are consumers who will purposefully choose the most expensive service provider on principle. Maybe even just to be able to say that they hired the priciest ‘most exclusive’ provider – or perhaps because they believe that the higher cost surely means that they’ll get the best quality. (Which may or may not always be the case!)

For some, impressions are everything.

Can you see how it would be literally impossible to create one sales message that rings true with all markets?

If you’re having trouble thinking of a niche to target, let’s dig deeper.

Question: What core needs are effected by your product or service?

 Family, Relationships and Love
 Spiritual Life
 Creative Expression
 Recognition, Success and Pride
 Provision and Finances
 Health and Safety

If you are particularly motivated by any of these areas, this could give you a greater clue as to which niche to move in.

If you want to be a coach and ‘creativity’ is a buzz point for you, you can become a Creativity Coach. Or if Family & Friendships are really important to you, perhaps you would be a great ‘Relationship Coach’.

If your spiritual life is paramount, perhaps you’d build your business around the tenants of your faith and communicate this in a way that attracts others of similar beliefs.

Maybe you’re addicted to success tips and motivational tools. You could become the first ‘Success Driven VA’ and promise your clients a regular dose of motivation with every task completed. You’ll attract others who consider themselves very driven in the same way.

The rest of the story tomorrow. Until then. . .

Carole DeJarnatt

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

What is a Target Market?

What Does Target Market Mean Exactly?

For the small business owner, target market is the term used to describe the group of consumers being targeted to purchase their products or utilize their services.

Another word that may be substituted would be to call this group your ‘niche’.
How about an Example?

That sounds good to me.

Let’s consider a Virtual Assistant.

Virtual Assistants are the Administrative Assistants, Secretaries and Receptionists of yesterday. They bring the everyday support services needed by a variety of business owners and professionals to the internet, making it easy for anyone to maintain a well staffed office – even if technically they don’t have one.

The Virtual Assistant industry has literally exploded. The demand for quality virtual support is still growing and it’s not terribly hard for a new VA to introduce their business with some basic networking and have a few clients to start with.

However, the market is mature enough at this point that to truly thrive as a VA, you have to do something to set yourself apart. (We’ll talk about this more later when we discuss the Unique Selling Proposition.)

One way to help gain momentum and grow your business is to focus on a specific niche or target market.

Rather than saying that you are a VA for anyone – you introduce yourself as the Coaches VA or the Podcasters VA or the Real Estate Professionals VA, etc. By identifying clearly with a specific target market, you let them know that you feel you are uniquely suited to meet their needs and this will help you to stand out from the rest of the crowd.

But I Don’t Want To Risk Excluding Potential Clients.

This is a common fear.

Yes, by declaring a niche – you are excluding the wider general market. But really, that’s just fine. If you try to position yourself to appeal to everybody – you won’t specifically appeal to anybody.

Does that make sense?

Let’s give another example.

Say that I am a Health and Weight Loss Coach and I am hunting for a VA to help me manage my business and free up some of my time. It’s really important to me that my VA make my life easier and that she will be comfortable with my topic matter and be able to discuss things intelligently.

I cruise around the web and I find hundreds of Virtual Assistant websites and directories. I read many testimonials and compare prices.

Then – I stumble into a VA website that says this:

“I specialize in supporting Health and Wellness Professionals.’

My eyes widen and I get excited. I can’t wait to talk to you and see if you are indeed going to be a great fit for me.

If that VA had been afraid of excluding the rest of the web – she would have missed out on connecting specifically with me.

And truthfully, the majority of service providers DO fail to make a specific connection with a target market.

Because they fear missing out on even one client, they create a website and promotional materials designed to cover every base and meet every need. They work so hard at being all things to all people and they end up being nothing to nobody.

Determine today to identify your target market. It will help you to have a clearer vision for the success of your business.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

In Search of the Finish Line?

One the most common mistakes a new entrepreneur makes is to launch off into business without knowing who their target market is. They may have a great idea, a great set of skills, all of the tools and plenty of time and money – yet a few months later they are struggling to make ends meet and cannot figure out why.

How can you seemingly do everything right and still fail?

Imagine that you are in a foot race. You line up with all of the other runners and when the gun goes off you run like the wind!

You pace yourself well. You breathe right. You use great technique and maintain proper form. Anybody watching would say ‘there is a natural runner!’.

You run your heart out – doing incredibly well and feeling positive you will surely win the race.

Time passes and you realize you no longer see any of the other runners. You feel a thrill because surely that means you are so far out in front you do not have competition anymore.
More time passes… and more. And you wonder where the finish line is. And finally it occurs to you that maybe – just maybe you missed it.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Alright… so that is a silly story.

But you get the idea right? Unless you run for a certain goal – you will not know when you have met it!

That is what it’s like when you get up in the morning and try to run a business without any idea about who you are aiming to serve.

This is why knowing your Target Market is so important.

Monday, September 3, 2007

For the Lurkers and Readers, Give me some input

Another work-week is a few hours away and I am thinking about a topic I would like to write and think about. This week I am going to focus on Target Marketing.

Marketing for a living gives you an outlet for creativity. I think that is why I enjoy effectively researching and working on various techniques to increase business. The outcome of the finished product is to share your message and increase business.

Before I started my coaching business I was an avid scrapbooker. I taught at a local scrapbook store, was published in a few magazines, and had an online bio with a personal gallery and submitted to it frequently. I was obsessed to say the least.

Marketing is somewhat like scrapbooking. You bring together what you are trying to share with others, create a design that tells the story, and bring it all together for the pleasure of yourself and others.

Well that was then and this is now. Now I am obsessed with being the best business coach/advisor possible for those who need and utilize my services. To effectively share my services I have to create my own unique selling point and know my target market. This week I will share and give ideas on what I believe is effective marketing tactics.

For the lurkers and readers, give me some feedback on marketing techniques that have been successful. Any specific areas of marketing you are struggling with; viral, direct, guerilla tactics, or more? I will do my best to find information of value and interest to you. Let me hear from you.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.