Tag: Featured

10 Ideas to Supercharge Your Business

Stuck in time and out of ideas? Here are my top 10 ideas to right the ship and get your business rockin’ all over again. I’ve already written on all of these topics previously, but here they are in one tasty bundle:

  1. Who is/isn’t your ideal customer? Qualify those customers upfront to make sure they are right for you and then hyper focus on only your 1,000 True Fans
  2. Pick a word, just one that describes what you do…be first and own it! What’s your SuperPower? Strive for different and arouse emotions!
  3. Pick one metric…focus on 10X the current industry standard and make it known
  4. Focus on small wins that are force multipliers…it’s Hell Yeah, or No
  5. Get 1% better every day
  6. Keep the idea machine rolling…10 ideas a day
  7. Shrink your timelines…Parkinson’s Law, and focus hardest at the end of the day…let your mind work on your problems while you sleep…close that last mile
  8. 80/20 everything, then decide to eliminate, automate, delegate
  9. Under promise, over deliver
  10. Be relevant and be authentic…don’t try to be something you’re not or shove something down somebody’s throat that they don’t want

Follow these 10 rules and watch your business boom…BOOYAH!!!

Selling Basics, Step 3: Lay a Foundation of Trust/Find Common Ground

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” -Warren Buffett

There is a really good story in the book Influence by Robert Cialdini that I really like about a waiter who, whenever waiting on a big table always tells the 1st person who is ready to order that whatever they picked “wasn’t quite as good tonight as usual”, then suggest 2 other things that are slightly cheaper. By doing this, others at the table feel like he is extremely trustworthy and by doing this he has also established himself as an authority…at this point, he can then suggest a high priced wine and dessert and they will feel he isn’t trying to swindle them.

When people see a salesperson coming, they run! When they see a trusted adviser they embrace them. Earn trust – before people buy products or services, they buy trust. Strive to find some common ground.

Demonstrate you understand your customers pains, problems, and concerns before you ever try to sell them anything. Listen, listen, listen (if you are as bad at it as me sometimes, try this)! Don’t be afraid of losing the sale…be afraid of attracting a customer you don’t have any business supporting…when it all goes sideways, you won’t be able to recover. Under Promise and Over Deliver…especially in the beginning. That foundation of trust is crucial and is extremely easy to build upon once it’s there, but without it, you are building a relationship on quicksand.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden

Selling, Step 2: Get Others to Sell for You…Multiply Yourself

“If I say it you can doubt me, if you say it, it is true”

In Selling, Step 1, I stated that most importantly of all is qualifying the customer. You can’t and shouldn’t be trying to sell something to someone with no desire or means. Once you are past that step, what are the best ways to get in front of customers to sell, well, I’d argue it is in finding others that are more than happy to sell for you.

Now this may sound like I am the laziest salesperson in the world by trying to get other people to do my work for me, and while you may be right, there are some sound reasons for taking this approach. Some of these are:

  • Sometimes you may have a partner (distributor, rep, etc) that has a better relationship with a particular customer than you… give them the proper tools, information, and motivation and that will be a much easier customer for you to access once they’ve been approached already by a trusted friend
  • It is much harder to turn down a request from a friend than a salesperson (examples: MCI friends and family, Tupperware, Rodan & Fields). Why were all of these successful…because no stranger was coming knocking on your door asking you to buy, you were being approached by someone you already trusted.
  • How much more can you sell if everything doesn’t have to go through you first…multiplying yourself by bringing others onto your side to help you is how you get your sales to grow exponentially. If everything has to go through you, you are severely limited.

OK, makes sense, and maybe I can give it a whirl, but what next. What are some ways to do this:

  • Get recommendations from current customers… especially first-time buyers (treat them special)… they are more inclined to talk about their experience. Customers are usually happiest right after buying… this is the best time to ask
  • Give people that want to help you an easy way to do this…give them business cards, discount offers they can pass to friends, or give them a discount for helping you find other customers. Social Media is phenomenal for this…discount codes on Instagram and Facebook abound and giving someone good content to share also translates extremely well to LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Go old school with this “Selling to Vito” technique. Find six people in a company that you feel would be the best influencers for what you are selling. Write a letter to each with a cc to the other five on top. When they receive the letter, they will talk to the other five to make sure all are on the same page… someone will get assigned to you. This gets all six talking about you.

Any of these steps should help, but just about anything is better than cold calling. At the end of the day, you are just trying to multiply yourself… can you create content others will gladly spread for you? Who can you enlist to sell for you gladly: friends, family, coworkers, distributors, reps, customers, partners, and maybe even non-direct competitors.

If I am really happy with someone’s service or product I am more than happy to extol their virtues for them…there is a reason there is a YELP and Google Reviews and why people post pictures of their favorite restaurants, food, clothes etc. on Instagram and Facebook…people like to help those with whom they’d like to be associated and they also like to feel like they are in the know. Make it easier for them to help you spread the word. That’s the way you create separation from your competition!

5 of My Favorite Interview Questions

It is a very difficult time to find good employees these days. The unemployment rate is extremely low, business is booming, and everyone is fighting for the same talent. Still, you need to make sure that whoever you hire is a good fit.

Here are 5 of my favorite interview questions to try and dig a little deeper:

  • What is your single best trait or Super Power in one word?
  • If I asked somebody else, “He is a very good guy, but…”… what would they say?
  • What stresses you out?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time? This one is particularly good if it is related to the job they are applying for…do they love it so much they even do it in their spare time?
  • Why do you want to work here? And a follow up…based on your knowledge of the current opportunity in the market, if you were our CEO, what one thing would you focus on?

Give ’em a whirl. You can’t always vet perfectly, so some will slip through the cracks that shouldn’t have, but hopefully some of these questions help a bit. Any others that you really like, please share.

Creating Separation from the Competition Step by Step

Football season has officially kicked off and you’ll be hearing a lot about wide receivers needing to create separation from opposing defenses to get themselves open. Same applies in business…you have to put a little distance between you and your competitors so you can get out in front of them and make your breakaway.

So, how do you go about creating this separation from your competitors. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the one thing that you do amazingly well? What makes you unique in the way that you do it? Are these 2 things stuck in the past or the way of the future?
  2. Who, specifically, is your target audience? Do they know you for the things you describe in your answers to the questions above?
  3. Who is your competition?
    1. What is your position on the ladder in this space?
    1. Does your competition know you exist?
    1. What are your competitors doing successfully/unsuccessfully?

Once you answer these questions, pick the one thing that makes you unique to your customers and separates you from your competitors, carve out this niche with your target audience…and then run a giant truck through it! It really isn’t much harder than that.

The Power of ONE

What is “The Power of ONE”? This is how you create separation from your competition…not by focusing on a thousand things or measuring a thousand different KPIs. Pick ONE thing to focus on…What is your ONE Superpower, Pick ONE Word that describes what you do and hammer it home to your target customers, then measure how you are doing by the ONE metric that gives you that multiplier effect and creates a snowball that can’t be stopped.

Then focus on your 1,000 True Fans ONE-by-ONE (this is the only place I recommend you focus on more than ONE…having just ONE customer is great when it’s great and the kiss of death when it stumbles), get ONE small win then another and then another, strive to get ONE 1% better every day, and soon you will be hitting it out of the park and creating miles of separation between you and your competitors.

That’s “The Power of ONE”!

 

Be Relevant (Right Message to the Right Audience)

You really have to make your customers feel like you are listening to their cares and desires.

There is no quicker way to turn someone off than to blast them with content in which  they have zero interest. If you want them to take an interest in you, you have to be relevant. Personally, I enjoy simple email content that points me easily to something I have intense interest in, but there is no quicker way for me to hit that “Unsubscribe”, “Mute”, “Cancel”, or “Unfollow” button than to spam me with trash that I could care less about or even worse waste my time on the phone or in person.

In many cases you are selling more than one product and in to more than one market. Make sure that your newsletters, emailers, etc. all give your customers an option as to what content they want and what they don’t and make sure you comply with that request. That doesn’t mean you can’t make suggestions or add links here and there to something that you think they might also like (associative sell), but keep it rational if you want to keep them as a customer.

Just because someone was kind enough to share their email address with you, follow your social media feed, pick up the phone, or give you an in person meeting doesn’t mean they are giving you the right to waste their time or bombard them with irrelevant junk. Your customers put their trust in you, so before you ever hit that send button, ask yourself “Am I being relevant to those I am about to blast?” If you aren’t 100% sure, think twice.

 

 

Is The Long Tail Approach Right For You

Back in 2004, the Long Tail Theory was first published. It basically says that the internet has put an interesting twist on the Pareto Principle by making it much easier to service the 80% of the products that are not the top revenue earners for a company and that many companies like Amazon, Netflix, etc. have made a wonderful business out of them.

Having the hard to get stuff is what separated them from their brick and mortar cousins and helped grow their subscription rates…and most importantly, if the products are digital, the inventory is virtually free (just another song or movie taking up space on a hard drive somewhere, but not physically collecting dust). This last point is the most important…the Long tail is interesting, but it is also very challenging for physical products as holding inventory poses all kinds of challenges, but in the digital arena, it barely moves the needle in terms of cost to service.

In a long tail business it is more costly to bother evaluating whether something is a hit or not, so instead the best plan is just releasing all of it and letting the consumers sort them out, even letting the consumers vote them up or down to give them some say so in winners and losers. The long tail is really long due to unlimited selection, so there is a lot to be made all along that last part of the tail. Worth noting, trying to provide a niche service and just servicing the hot items or just the dogs has mostly been a recipe for disaster, but those that have serviced it all (Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, etc.) have done amazingly well…pick a niche but cover everything in that niche (although not sure Amazon is a niche business any more).

One big thing that has changed is the idea of a big ‘launch’, with press releases, and a big unveiling. It’s not as important anymore. Instead, plan on the gradual build that turns into a tidal wave. The fact is, the curve of money spent (big hump, then it tails off) is precisely backwards to what you actually want anyway…so roll with it, launch, build, build, build, success.

Is your business made for servicing the long tail? How can you take advantage? Or, maybe you still live in the physical world…Pareto still holds pretty true here…just know where you sit and plan accordingly.

Under Promise, Over Deliver

How many times have you been over-promised and under-delivered…it happens daily, so if you really want to create separation, be the exception!

Getting that first order is hard, you want to make sure that you give them a reason to come back for that second order as well. Even if your business sells big one and done items like a pool or a house, you still need those referrals. Maybe a follow up with a 10% discount as a thank you? Maybe a discount for a referral? Maybe give them a coupon to hand out to friends who need your services (winner for both of them!).

Make it impossible not to refer you because you more than did what you promised!

B-to-B Blog Post Ideas

There are tons of posts on blog ideas for makeup, food, travel, gardening, lifestyle, books, etc, but how about B-to-B. I’m running 2 blogs and have only been doing this a little over a year, so I’m still learning, but here are some B-to-B blog ideas that seem to work well:

  • Help customers get the most from whatever you are promoting…that’s adding value! How-to’s, videos, step-by-step, webinars, complimentary products that work well with yours, etc. These are really good for B-to-B…either do some of the above yourself or help direct people to good content you know is already out there.
  • Current Trends: latch on to what’s hot. Sometimes pushing B-to-B is hard, associate yourself with something trending to make it more fun…Comic Con, a hot App, new Star Wars movie, etc. No idea what’s hot, just look on the left hand page of the Twitter home page for hot trends for the day and jump in
  • Similar to the above, use Annual or Weekly Events and relate them to your product or service: Elvis’ Birthday, St. Patty’s, #TacoTuesdays, etc…it’s endless. Sometimes it helps to map it out. It’s then easy to jump into the social media hype over that topic when that day hits…build out your content so you are ready ahead of time and then hit up social media when everybody’s eyes are watching your topic
  • Show how you failed: everybody wants to know they aren’t the only ones with struggles…these can be huge hits, even bigger than victories as showing someone what not to do is hugely helpful! Sometimes people also just like to hear somebody else is a bigger failure than they are… #FAILURE
  • Mentioned it above but review or mention complimentary and/or non-competitive products: reciprocal help for both of you to grow traffic…reach out and see if they will return the favor. All B-to-B marketers need help to get traffic, reach out and find a friend.

I’m still working at getting better at all of the above.

No matter what, focus on the quality of your content. Also, what do you want, just lots of traffic, specific customer traffic, or just to ramble? All are fine, but be relevant to the audience you are going after..

Help a brother out…What are your favorites?

Here are some other links with some great ideas as well:

 Five Post Ideas for Your Business Blogby Krista Stevens (@wordpress)

60 Blog Post Ideas For Entrepreneurs, Marketers, And Businesses (@bloggingwizard, @elnacain)