Monday, October 29, 2007

Top Ten Week--10 Things I Do Not Like to Do in My Business

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Keep the checkbook updated--This is an accounting function isn't it?
  10. 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

The Meaning of Success

Success according to

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; 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.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.
Guiding You from Vision to Success

P.S. Don't forget to Celebrate the Success!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Preparedness: Being prepared or in Readiness

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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.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is It Time to Update Your Resume

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:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Making Presentations People want to See

I thought the information shared in this article is well worth sharing. I am a user of powerpoint presentations and realize that a bad presentation can ruin your credibility. The article below offers some excellent tips when preparing your next presentation.
Making Presentations People Want To See
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 today.

Permanent Link:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Suggestions for a successful interview

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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”.
  5. The same goes for questions about your previous employment. Never speak negatively about a past employer.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Ask questions. Write down questions you need answered and take them with you.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Carole DeJarnatt
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

24 hour Marketing Plan--Part 2

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.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The 24-Hour Marketing Plan--Part 1

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?
Increase profits?
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.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Perfect Ending to a Contract

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!

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Managing your Email before it Manages You

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.

Manage Your Email Before It Manages You

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 => . 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

Email Etiquette in the Jacksonville Business Journal

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, (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.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Strategy Before Tactics

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.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

Strategy Before Tactics

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 .

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Five Marketing Strategies for Business Growth

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
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,

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

Monday, October 1, 2007

7 Costly Small Business Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

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.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

7 Costly Small Business Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

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 and sign-up for the FREE Small Business Coaching 7 day e-course.