Being “Camera Ready” Gets You More Business: Even if you don’t plan on being on TV

Camera filming in TV Studio

“I don’t want to be on TV!”

“I hate speaking in public.”

“I find it so hard to think of something intelligent to say.”

These are a few statements I’ve heard (and said) over my career and in my business. As a business owner one of the key things we learn is that we have to speak to people, all kinds of people, if we want to sell. It does not seem like we need it when we first start. We’ll just talk to our clients, they’ll get us. After all they want what we have. We already have a common language and something to talk about. The challenge is that to get to our clients we have to be seen. Even if it is just our product that has to be ‘in the public eye’, like on TV, we still have to be seen by all those along the path that get us there.

When I was younger I was so self-conscious about being in front of people that I didn’t even want to invite family to my wedding. The thought of standing in front of all of them, the people that love me, was terrifying. I went from that to a TV show host and it took some time. Like anything in life, we are not born experts. Even child prodigies have to practice to be great. I had to learn how to say things that were intelligent and how not to be too hung-up on my imperfections. I had to learn how to be and act in front of people so my message could be heard and stop saying no because I felt I wasn’t ready. I chose to step up and do things that were extremely uncomfortable to take my next steps in learning and be better at everything I did. It stopped me from feeling deflated when I failed.

Being ‘Camera Ready’ is a term from film and TV that implies that the actors and stars are prepared to do their job. Well your job requires you to be in front of people so you should be camera ready too. Here are three tips I’ve learned along the way that you can practice.

Wear Your ‘People Pants’

There is a joke in our house that goes like this” I’m almost ready to go, I just have to put on my people pants.” If you’re like us, we like to get comfy when we are at home: lounge wear, gardening jeans, shorts, and pajamas. But before we go out, before we are going to be in the presence of other people, people that don’t yet know us and have a first impression to make, we put on our ‘people pants’. This also means you need to put on make-up, brush your hair, add jewelry, etc. to create a look you want to be seen in. I guarantee the day you go out in track pants, with stains or holes, is the day you see that person, you know the one, the person you have been trying to reach. And now you either hide or you give them an impression you are going to have to work hard to overcome. One day I left the house to walk my daughter to school and a news journalist was getting opinions from pedestrians along the sidewalk. I live in a quiet neighbourhood; nowhere near where you would expect to see a TV camera crew. I was grateful for ‘people pants’ that day.

Practice Your Spiel

If you want to sound intelligent you have to know what to say and that requires practice. Just because you made the product does not mean you will have something of value to say about how it relates to the trends of the day or a well-known competitors alternative. You may understand it but saying something that sounds intelligent is different than saying something rehearsed or rambling on-and-on until you get your entire knowledge base discoursed. Intelligent thoughts have an easily understood  composition of ideas. People will be able to understand you and they will want to listen, not run away. If you want to have something to say that people will want to hear you need to practice.

When I had left my last employed position to stay at home with a sick kid, I decided to sell Pampered Chef products. I had never done sales before and believe me, this was a trial by fire type way of learning. My up-line director was Canada’s #3 sales person making sales in the high 6-figures and she had something to teach me, which was to practice. I wrote out what she said. I wrote out what I wanted to say. I read about the product. I learned about my clients. I practiced my language at home on my family. I practiced in my car alone. I practiced at meetings. I was still shy and self-conscious, and I knew I needed to learn this, so I did. When I started my company I created the brand and the language to go with it and then I practiced. Every time I introduced myself I tried on different ways of describing what I did and for whom. I kept what got results and changed up the rest. I became competent at talking about my expertise and the business around it.

Practice what you want to become powerful. Don’t just script it and save it, make it a part of your language so it will be easily understood and delightful to hear.

Stop Saying No

This is funny because I am often telling people that they need to say ‘no’ more often, but when it comes to our fears eventually it is time to say ‘yes’. It is now your time to start saying ‘yes’ to the invites on a the radio show, to speak at a luncheon meeting, to be a guest on a TV show, to do a video testimonial, etc. The video testimonial is where I started to really break out of my ‘self-conscious’ shell. At the end of a great event the leader would ask people to give a testimonial about their experience and in return they would link the video to their business website. For years I would walk right past. One time, weeks after an event I got an email with a link to a testimonial a friend had given. She was smartly dressed and came across as competent and likable, just what I wanted my clients to see in me. I realized I was passing up opportunities for people at the events and others outside the event to see my expertise. The next event I was at I stepped up and gave a testimonial. It was so much harder than I expected. I looked great but I didn’t know what to say that did not sound like a plea for clients. I watched, made notes, and practiced over the next few events, including giving testimonials myself.

Eventually one day I heard someone else say about me, “she’s good at that, so calm and natural. I could never do that.” Wow, I was there. My image, my language, and my presence had finally caught up to my ambition. I haven’t stopped since; learning, practicing, and doing. I find I usually say ‘yes’ first to my fears and then evaluate the relevance to my business afterwards. If it fits my marketing goals I do it, even if I’m scared, because I know I have the three things that will make it easier – my presence, my language, and my confidence – and you can too.


In support of The CEO Elite Advisory Boards for small business.

How to Be The Expert

John Timbrell - Pink Floyd Tribute Band - London 2014

At breakfast this morning with a friend and colleague I heard a confession that was interesting to me. She said, “I worry I don’t have enough expertise to be able to do this.” This was interesting because of all the people that do not have expertise, she was defiantly not one of them. She is well trained and educated. She has certifications and letter behind her name. She has years of experience and still she worries that it is not enough.

In the book “Outliers: The Story Of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell he demonstrates that success is very different than what we think. The typical ‘over night success’ takes years to achieve and that expertise in any one area is similarly a journey of learning and practice. He suggests that it takes 10,000 hours of focused practice to become an expert in your field.  So the question is then, when is it enough that what you know and are able to do is considered as an expertise? When  do you become an expert?

Take Inventory

Start by simply adding up the amount of time you have been focused on doing what you want to be considered an expert at. If you want to be an expert barista and you work at a cafe for 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year it would take you 5 years to reach Malcolm’s 10,000 hour level. If you are an entrepreneur and you are taking certifications and teaching others in a specific field like wellness, you may only get to focus on your expertise 20 hours a week, in which case it will take you 10 years.

Add In The Past

Deciding to focus on one field was likely not a single point in time. I highly doubt you said to yourself one day, “today I’m going to start my journey to become an expert guitar player,” and then go out and buy your first guitar. Expertise is an evolution from your past experiences, your passion, and your abilities. Get a friend to help you look back at your past and see where you have been using your expertise and how you are building on those foundational abilities. My friend at breakfast this morning could not see this for herself, yet she had spent many years as an employee successfully doing exactly what she wants to help entrepreneurs be able to do for themselves.

Never Stop

Experts don’t hit the 10,000 hour mark and stop what they do. Now that you are an expert there is no time for a nap, you have to continue to learn and grow. Experts are not ‘know-it-alls’; they are people that live and breathe their knowledge. Experts don’t bring out their abilities, like party tricks, to show off; they are engulfed in their field of expertise all the time. If you are an expert and you don’t get to simply speak your educated point of view without ridicule then you probably are ready for a new group of people to hang out with. It takes a long time to become an expert and the sharp edge of your experience is dulled by disuse, so don’t stop using your gifts.

Put It On

When you get picked to be in a band and perform for hundreds or thousands of people that want to have you back, you can easily see your expertise. When you work hard to be good at something that only a few people at a time get to experience it is sometimes easy to overlook our expertise. If you have the training and the experience and people tell you how good you are at what you do, maybe it is time to start wearing the title of expert. It won’t feel like it fits immediately so don’t discard it. Call yourself an expert and see how people react. Say it in front of people that know you, so they can help you validate your new title. It will fit soon enough and you will hear people refer to you as the expert at ‘X’. If you don’t believe it first, no one else (except your closest friends or your paid coach) will believe it either. You know you are so what are you waiting for.

Say it. “I am an expert.”

 

Image: John Timbrell has been playing guitar for close to 35 years. He has started and managed several bands, written music, and has had his music recorded and published. In this image he and a friend organize an annual rock concert with four of Canada’s top tribute bands, including his band “Brain Damage“.

Your Message Affects Your Money!

First impressions should make people want to get to know you better.

A TV show I have enjoyed in the past is “What Not To Wear” on TLC. It was a show that had people nominated for a makeover. These people were hoping to do some great things in their life, like be a lawyer, run a global charity, have a successful business, or simply be accepted in the circles they were trying to be a part of. One thing that was common about these people was that they almost all would say, “I don’t want to change, people should like me no matter what I wear.” This is true, except as humans we are programmed to make judgements about situations, events and people to ensure we are safe, comfortable, and connected.

If your business language creates a first impression that screams ‘SHAM’, you say things that make others uncomfortable, or your vocabulary does not attract or appeal to your clients and others you wish to be connected to then it’s time to take a look at what you are saying/writing and make it create the right image for those whom you want to receive your message.

First Impressions

First impressions help us determine if we are going to be safe, comfortable, and feel connected. In the history of our evolution our brains have become wired for the ‘Freeze, Flight, or Fight’ reaction. We see or hear something and we have to evaluate immediately if we were going to be safe. We still have this unconscious reaction to new environments and new people, hence the reason why we still tend to make judgements about people we meet, when we first meet them. Although I would not recommend to anyone to make decisions on a first impression it is still important for you to create an image that makes people willing to connect with you again so a decision or a sale can take place. After all, we don’t purchase from people we don’t trust, so having a language that builds trust, especially on your first contact, is imperative.

First-impression Touchpoints

Where are your first-impression touchpoints? These are the places prospects are likely to experience you for the first time. Is it your website, your Facebook page, at a networking event, a video on YouTube, or an ad in a magazine? What does it say about who you are and what you do? Your first impression about you and your business has to say two things:

  • I am trustworthy, likable, and worth knowing
  • I have something of value that you might want

If you want to know if this is true of your message, have someone from outside your inner circle, preferably a client or prospect, evaluate the language they experience.

  • Do they feel like they would want to connect with you or your business? If so they should be excited to have met you or experienced your message.
  • Is your message clear or is there something missing they expected to find or understand about your or your business? For it to be clear they not only have to understand what you are saying, but must be attracted to your message. If they are not, your language is not targeted to the people you want to attract as clients.
  • Do they know what to do next? If you meet them at a networking event do they know what their next step is to stay connected with you. If they see your message in a magazine is there a clear call to action that they will actually act on? Do they want you to connect with them or do they want to simply have a way to stay connected. You need to know what the best way to continue this new relationship will be and have that message ready too.
  • What can you do for them right now that will also build on the trust? If you give first you will create a comfort level that will open the door for future conversations. Remember to give without expectation of reciprocation. This true gift is a language of its own that speaks directly to our unconscious mind.

Your first impression is not a time for sales, it is a time to start a lasting, positive relationship .You might think, like the nominees of the TV program I mentioned earlier, that people should love you for what you do, but until they know you they need to like you for what they see and hear. Since they really don’t have a lot to go on yet your first contact should be a rich, warm experience full of value. The next time they experience you, like in the email, they will be thankful for knowing you instead of fearful of what you make be asking of them. With trust comes the opportunity to have your conversation around money.

 

If You Are Not Sure – Try it On!

Have you ever heard someone say, “I can’t do that”? Some people are afraid to try new things because we don’t know what the outcome will look like when we have never tried it before. Especially when we know it will not be easy. We want people to see us as competent so we don’t want to make a mistake doing it wrong. The challenge with this is sometimes it makes it hard to change. Trying something new means we have to do something we have not done before and that means we are not competent. This is when comfort can over-ride our need to change and we stay stuck.

I remember in the first year of business, when I met Rose Adams, who is now a good friend of mine. Rose had (and still has) the presence of a leader. She is warm and welcoming and always well dressed. I had chosen to be a part of her networking group because of her and a few other strong business women that were in the group.

Rose was kind to me and interested in seeing me do well, so she offered some advice which I accepted gratefully. She offered to go shopping with me to get new clothes. You see, I was still in ‘mommy mode’. My clothes were appropriate for outdoor at the park, walking kids to school, going camping, but not for business. I was very ‘shlumpy’. Rose and I were just acquaintances at that time so her offer was very surprising. I was honoured that this stylish, professional lawyer would take her time to shop with me. There were a couple of conditions for our shopping trip: I was not allowed to buy anything black and I had to try on everything.

Fashionable clothes that fit and look appropriate

Think about these conditions – they were very important because they were to open my eyes to ‘the new’ and what else was available to me. I had worn a lot of black and everything was comfy, jeans & T-shirt – super casual. If all I tried on was the same as what I wore, I would look the same as I had always looked. I had to get out of my comfort zone and try on things I thought looked disgusting, weird, or not me. Of course it didn’t look like me, I never wore it – but it could be me if I changed, and I did. What I found was sometimes the things I thought looked disgusting on me and sometimes they looked amazing, and everything in between. I really had no reference points to make judgements or discussions from. I didn’t know good from bad, stylish from dumpy, my style from someone else’s style. I had to start by trying it on.

The same is for learning what you are best at in your business. What do you love to do? Who do you love to spend your time with? When are you most powerful and where? Can you speak in public, are you a leader, can you create new programs, work one-on-one with your clients, do group events, host a conference, support a NFP, work with a partner.

Sometimes we just have to try something on to see if it fits. Don’t say, “No I can’t do that”, ask, “How could I do that” and then figure out how you can try it on. After all, if it doesn’t fit, you can always find someone else to wear it for you. What you will get is a sense of your limitations and what you can do well. I have used this model to find out I can actually tell great stories from the stage when I thought I was not a story teller, and that I am not the “Richard Branson” charisma leader. We all have our core strengths, and they are all valuable. Using your best strengths (wearing what fits) and learning what ‘look’ is yours will bring you authority in your authenticity because you will feel powerful and comfortable in everything you do.

The Value of Your Reference Group

Last week I was at a luncheon with two friends of mine that I consider very accomplished and focused on the changes they wish to help make happen in the world. We were also joined by 5 other women that turned out to be very similar. How blessed I am to be so often surrounded by such incredibly forward-focused, game-changers with a spiritual/holistic/philanthropic approach to life.

Friends toasting and celebrating together

When I had mentioned this to my friend she said, “it is a mirror reflecting of what you bring to the world.” Interesting as I know 10 years ago this was not me. I know I have grown intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually, but we don’t see ourselves the way others do. What I had not seen was that surrounding myself with this level of business genius had raised me up to that level as well.

As the saying goes, we are the combination of the 5 people we spend the most amount of time with. “How true”, I started thinking after my conversation above. I was doing what my 5 closes friends were doing 10 years ago and now I’m doing what my 5 closest friends are doing now. I wanted to be able to affect more change and help more people so I started spending time with people that affect more change and help more people.

Here are two things I have done to get to a place where I get to have lunch with world-changers because I am one of them.

Act ‘as if’

I don’t like the saying, “fake it ‘til you make it”. One of my core values is honesty, so faking it always seemed like a lie to me. I don’t want to lie to my friends, my peers, my clients, nor to myself simply to get what I want. It felt selfish and wrong. But when I read ‘Act as if’ from Jack Canfield’s book “The Success Principles” and then started seeing the same teaching from others, like Darren Hardy, I realized that there was a significant difference in the semantics of these two statements.

Fake it

Act as if

Pretend you are Believe you are
Wear the right costume Dress the part
Use their language Use ‘the’ language
Pretend you know Learn it and ask
Spend to take part (even if you cannot afford it) Find other ways to take part (to be a part of it)
Do it first Get a mentor – do it after them

Activate your brain muscle to start visualizing what it is you want to be and where. The more your subconscious believes it to be true, the more true it will be. Here is an easy example we should all be able to relate to, as we have all been a teenager at one time in our lives.

Picture two teen girls, both pretty and both academically competent, but one believes she is pretty and smart and the other believes she is average in every way. These two girls will present very differently to the outsider. The one girl may be a leader, doing and belonging to groups that the other girl may not even dream of being accepted to. One will be invited, the other will be overlooked. This does not mean one will have a better life, but it will give the one girl more options and more support to attain whichever goal she chooses.

Know you are and you will be.

Give Generously From What You Have

I’m not talking about digging deep into your pockets and handing out your last few dollars. I’m talking about something more precious – your gifts of wisdom, influence, and skill. What can you do to help others around you?

It is easiest to give money, but that will not get you connected to those that will be key to opening doors for future opportunities. If you want to give, then give with your time to something that aligns with your passion and goals. I love business, I love being creative, and I am a visionary, so my easiest give is to be a part of a board or steering committee that has to help with big-picture decisions. When I am at these meetings I am engaged and energized. My energy is contagious and it makes me fun and interesting to be around, so people want to be with me. It is valuable use of my time and I can add value to the group I volunteer for.

I once volunteered where I was not passionate and the work was mundane, repetitive, and combative. I was drained and angry about the time I had to give. I felt used and wasteful with my time. I did not produce great results for the group, nor did I enjoy being there. I can imagine I was not fun to be around and that certainly did not gain me any new friends for my reference group.

If you want to be surrounded by great people, be a great person. Believe you are worth knowing and give generously to the places you feel most connected. Your people are there waiting for you.

Creating a Successful 2015 – 3 Important Keys to Growth

Are you looking to create a more successful year in 2015? What are you planning on doing different?

If you want something different to happen you must do something different and this is often the challenge of creating more. Different sometimes means ‘more of the same’, but often that is not possible. The challenge with growing a business is usually that we get to a place in our business where we are so busy, and we are so invested that we have no more time and no more money to do ‘more of the same’.

Creating a more successful business takes doing something new. Doing something new is almost like starting a new business. There is new development, implementation, marketing, operations, costs, and customer support. You wouldn’t start a new business without a plan so don’t start a new year with a new focus and no plan.

1. What are You Creating?

Doing what you do

Be very clear about what you are planning on implementing. If growth simply means taking on 5 new clients per month doing what you currently do, then first you need to evaluate if:

  • what you do is selling well enough now to be able to sell more
  • you have enough time to service 5 more clients running the way you currently do
  • you will need the same, more, or different marketing to reach 5 more clients

You may need to change your product, hire someone to manage other things in your business or create a new marketing campaign to be able to attract and handle 5 new clients.

Planning for an increase in sales may take shifting your resources and adding more or new duties. Look at all aspect of your business evaluation and determine where you need to make changes.

Doing something new

If growth means creating a new product or service, reaching a new target market, opening a new branch, selling franchises, or licensing your business model then you have a much bigger plan to make. Don’t skip making a plan just because you have done this before. Success requires knowledge of the endpoint and a grasp of what it will take to get there.

Where to start

Start with the end. Where do you plan on ending? What does your ending point look like? Be specific. Do you plan on creating a new service? Describing the product is likely the easy part. You already have this as it was the vision you had seen when you first thought of growth. But don’t stop at ‘I want to create a new program and it will have 5 levels and take 9 weeks.’ You need to know everything about it.

  1. What will it cost me to run this program (in time)
  2. What will it cost my business to manage this program
  3. How many new clients do I need to cover the cost of creating this new program
  4. How many clients do I need to breakeven on the cost of the program
  5. What will it take to attract these new clients
  6. What other resources do I need (new website, more help, investment, etc.)

2. What is the Plan?

Figuring out how to get your business working should not be left as a surprise for the end of the year. If you set something in motion you should know the outcome and if it is not what you expect you should make changes along the way. Don’t just make your plan and hope you get what you expect to get next New Year’s Eve.

Man surprised at what he was not expecting

Now that you know what the end looks like work backwards.

  1. If you know it will cost you an extra 15 hours a month to run the program, book 15 hours a month for the program in your calendar right now. Figure out when you will offer the programs and make it real.
  2. If running the programs does not cost you any extra money then great, otherwise, figure out how you will pay for that cost when you don’t have any clients. If you cannot afford it (e.g. you have a manufacturing process that must be developed and optimized) then look for other ways you can pay for it (investment, loan, pre-sale deposits, other income) while you build up your sales.
  3. Determine how you will pay for the creation of the new product. My favourite way to launch a new product is to offer it at a reduced price for a short period of time to the people that already love you. Getting your clients to pay you a little to  create something new is a win-win. You get to start, they get to learn, you get feedback, they get support.
  4. If it will cost you more to support this new number of clients than you can afford in time and income, you need to evaluate what you are charging. Know what your time is worth and how much of it you need to get paid for (not your company, but you).
  5. Look at your current marketing. Is there any way you can get more clients from what you are currently doing? It is more likely that you will need to add a marketing channel or invest more time into your current channels. If your new product is a service or a program delivered by you, the best way to get new clients is to get out speaking. If you get your marketing right, you should have the clients you need at your product launch. This will help with the cost to launch a new product.
  6. Know the cost of everything (in time and money). Don’t dismiss a cost just because it only took you an hour. One hour here – 15 minutes there – a week later on. Everything you do will add up and when you don’t know your costs you won’t understand why you have no time or why you are so overwhelmed and it may lead to a failure to launch.

3. What are the Steps?

Doing the work of your business is never a ‘One-off’ event. Everything you do leads into the next event, launch, sale, program start, etc. There must be a continuous process in place with timelines for each event, all the pre-event work that must be done, and all the post-event follow-up booked to be complete. Start with a marketing calendar, it will illuminate the steps and uncover the work that needs to be completed.

For example, let’s assume you plan on launching a new 5-level program on Monday June 1, 2015. It will take 3 months to deliver with 3 hours per week delivery time and 2 hours a week prep-work. You will deliver it 3 out of 4 weeks per month over the three months for a total of 9 weeks (at 15 hours per week).

  • Start at June 1 and put your program delivery times into your calendar.
  • Put your prep time into your calendar
  • Add follow-up time for the week (or more) following the program. Remember to ask for testimonials while you are following up.
  • Add up your new expenses.
  • What are you going to charge?
  • Define your expected sales income.
  • Now work backwards.
    • What is the last date someone can sign up for the program?
    • What events will you host to fill your program? Remember you will need to know your conversion rate for any specific type of event to know how many you will need to do to fill the program.
    • What do you have to do to invite people to the pre-events
    • Where else will you tell people about your program (website, flyers, business cards, ads, Google, networking). Book time and other resource now to ensure these channels get set up early so you are not challenged with technical work when you are trying to focus on inviting.
  • And work forwards
    • What is the next program this will lead into? Make sure that it is in your calendar so while you deliver this program you are talking about the next step up. (The best time to convert a past client into another sale is when they are totally loving what you do and they are seeing the results of working with you.)

Every sale, every launch, every networking event, every speaking engagement, etc. is an invitation to a program or next event you are hosting. It is a constant process of filling your programs through your marketing channels. Fill your calendar with your marketing plan so you can fill your programs with new clients.

 

What Does Running A Campaign and Marketing A Business Have In Common?

Business owners have something in common with politicians and that is the plan that must be in place to successfully market your business or self. Here are 5 comparisons.

Politics

Business

1. Brand

The brand of a politician is how he or she is personally perceived by the voters. Do you want to look like a corporate expert, a friendly neighbour, a caregiver, a dedicated professional, a wealthy provider? There are many different ways to show your worth and your position with your image. The brand of a business is how clients perceive corporate value. Is the business fun (Coke), creative (Apple), cutting edge (Imprint Energy), trustworthy (Johnson & Johnson), service oriented (Zappos), corporate (Manulife Financial), etc. Your brand will identify you to your clients and what their purchase experience might be like.

2. Plan

 

Running for a political position has a known end date. Everything that happens in the time leading up to that end date is focused on the engagement of the voters. Having a plan on how to get in front of as many voters in a way that allows them to create a relationship with you so they will want to support you with their vote is the ultimate goal. Your business will have campaign after campaign after campaign to continually engage your customers in an ongoing relationship. Each campaign has to have a plan on how it will be implemented with the dates and times of each engagement, launch, meetings, and sales call. As my coach would say “rinse and repeat” to ensure a continued loyalty of current customers and an attraction for new sales.

3. Location

 

The politician may ask, “Where do I expect to meet my voters? Wherever that is, that is where you need to be. At their front door, at a debate, on a website, in a video, on TV, at a coffee shop. Be where your voters are. This is exactly true for businesses as well. If your clients belong to a specific association you should too. If your clients are likely to be at a large tradeshow or conference, you should too. If your clients expect to come to a store, call for sales, or purchase online, they should have that option. Be where you clients are.

4. Message

 

Politicians run on a platform, meaning they have a message they stand behind. It is focused on the challenges and problems they recognize need to be addressed and the structure and support that is in place to make the solutions possible. They promise some level of support and great politicians in a good government often have the chance to implement the change. As a business owner you have more say in the direction of your business. The message of a business is the promise of service, experience, and quality or the product that is being sold as a solution for the needs of the customer. The message must be targeted to the person that is the ideal client.Like a politician, a message that does not speak to their constituent will land on deaf ears and they will not get the votes. Your message will not get you sales if you do not use the language that attracts your ideal client.

Have you seen a trend in the above points? They are all keys to reaching your target market and your ideal client. If you do not know your target market you cannot create an effective campaign or business.

5. Target Market

 

The Candidate must know their voters. It is impossible to appeal to every constituent that can vote for you so you must know who it is you most align with, you can most help, and who you really want to serve. If that person does not live in the area you are running in, you are likely in the wrong election. Businesses must also know their clients. I recommend creating an avatar (detailed description/image) of the ideal client. This way everything you do for your business will be for them. The business will have more in common with the customer and it will be easier to build trust.For instance, let’s compare two world-class products, the iPhone and the Samsung Android. The iPhone does not appeal to my purchasing needs, not because it isn’t a great product but because I don’t use a MAC. On the other hand Samsung’s products speak directly to my needs. Both Apple and Samsung know their clients so well they speak directly to their needs, not just a push to sell. The result is, they sell more

You are not the only person in the world doing what you do or selling what you sell. If you want to attract more clients start with a description of your ideal client, build a powerful, memorable brand, and then plan where you will reach your client and what your message is that will get heard by them, so they will purchase from you.

Tech-Talk Part 3 – More of What You Need to Know – Communication Software

If ‘sell’ is a four-letter word to you then having communications that make it more comfortable for you to invite and offer value will make a difference to your bottom-line. You need to have a way to identify who you are speaking to and you must be able to connect efficiently with groups of people. This is how you leverage your time in your business and keep your costs down.

We know we want to be able to communicate with our clients, prospects, and past clients in a way that gives them what they need and helps us create an experience that is valuable for them. Understanding what to say is a topic for another article, and once you know what that is, how to reach them is the next question we want to address today. I am going to look at three things that you need to identify that will help you decide what tools will be best for you to manage your communications: 1) Your List, 2) History, 3) Costs

1) Your List

When managing your marketing and customer support communications it is important to be able to connect with the right person or group of people with the message they need to hear from you. Having a list or lists of names that you can effectively reach is imperative so your communications tools need to be able to manage those names efficiently for you.

I use 1Shopping Cart (1SC) for my mailing campaigns and my program communications as well as my online purchasing portal. I can group people by their purchase or interest and communicate with those groups of people. This allows my communications to be much more specific and targeted and increases the likelihood of a person reading the message. It also helps ensure that they will receive value, as I am not sending mass emails to everyone one all the time.

For my clients, this allows me to talk directly to people in small groups, like those in my Power of Leadership. I can let them know when their next call or event is. I can offer them specific help with their work, links, and specials, as well as additional information that may have been discussed in our meetings. It makes my communications with them more about them then about selling, and that is more comfortable for me as well as them.

Different software

2) History

The challenge with lists is that we often have lists in different places. My main communications for groups is through 1Shopping Cart (1SC) but I have a database using Microsoft Business Contact Management for Outlook (BCM) to connect to individuals. Of course our social media connections create other lists and all of these are not integrated. The challenge with lists is to have a system for how you connect with people so you are able to follow up later on. Knowing the history of communications with a specific prospect or past client helps you to better meet their needs and turn them into a repeat client.

I rely heavily on BCM to keep track of past conversations with individuals, including offers, personal situations, and conversations we have had. When you speak to thousands of people it helps you to remember what was special about a specific person. It also allows me to throw out business cards after I have them put into the database and keep track of sales and prospects.

I use 1SC to track groups of people. I can look up people by their interest or our past dealings. Someone that has opted-in to a free MP3 may be interested in an upcoming event. Someone that was in a past workshop may be interested in a personal VIP day. I can connect with people individually after I identify who they are and what they may need based on what they have signed up for or purchased in the past.

Whether it is a Contact Management Software (CMS), like my BCM or social media, like Facebook, use the history of your relationship to continue to offer things that are valuable to your clients and prospects moving forward.

 3) Costs

Even if the tool is free, managing the tool effectively is not. Don’t mistaken something that is free online as a way to do business for less. To be able to effectively implement and maintain communications with your clients and prospects every tool must be evaluated for the time and dollars it will cost or save you. If your time is limited and you hate being online, then using free Facebook pages to connect and invite your prospects would be the wrong fit for you unless you hire someone to manage it for you. You see, free just incurred a cost. I find that anything that is free costs me more in time and often does not have the features I need to manage my communications to the level I expect.

For new businesses that are not ready to invest, my recommendation is to write out what you hope to have in place in your business, evaluate what it would cost to invest in the tools (both time and money) and what kind of income your business would have to be making to support that investment. This will give you an idea of when you should look at investing. Also note that making changes to a larger program can be painful. If you have the ability to start with the larger support, that you have identified as a future need for your business, you will have less growing pain by eliminating that transition.

I started with Constant Contact. It is free up to 200 contacts. Unfortunately I never had less than 200 so I started with the basic plan, which was $20 per month. I paid to have it initially set up, lists imported, and my ezine and email templates created. I quickly realized that there were a lot of limiting challenges around this choice and I needed features that could only be found in an application that could both handle email campaigns (including my newsletters) and online purchases. I had to make the change to 1SC which lost me almost 50% of my list, several hundred more dollars to move to the new applications and a $120 per month plan, plus all the sales I felt I had lost because I could not track them easily in the smaller, less expensive choice.

Overall I would suggest that you understand as a small business owner you will likely have several lists to manage. Know which list is critical for which type of communications and how to evaluate & use the history you have with the people on that list.  Most of all, start by knowing what you will want to do with your lists so you can evaluate which software to initially begin with. Understanding your costs up front can save you loses and additional costs in the future.

Some Resources (Both free and paid)

Contact Management Software (CMS) (Microsoft Outlook, Business Contact Management for Outlook, salesforce, Act)

Shopping cart (1Shopping Cart, Infusionsoft)

Payment software (PayPal, Merchant account)

Mailing program (Constant Contact, AWeber Email Marketing, MailChimp Email)

Survey software (Survey Monkey)

Social Media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Hangout)

If you have an application, mobile app, or software you recommend, please let us know. Put your recommendations in the comments below along with a link to the company so we can all check it out.

Meet Your Clients Where They Are

Recently I went on a road trip with my husband to interview a Magic The Gathering store owner in Orangeville. I was just along for the ride with no real interest in the main reason for the journey, which was to create a blog post about the local store owner and support his business. This article would go on his blog (MTG Realm) as he writes about this game with a focus on spoilers for new card releases. It sounds simple and maybe even un-interesting to those that do not play the game, but he gets up to 14,000 hits a day on this blog, so there are a lot of people following along.

While in Shawn’s store I became very aware of the business skill he possessed. I was expecting a geek that opened a store so he could be close to his favourite game and what I saw as a man providing a service to his clients by meeting them where they are. Here are the top 5 things I believe he has done right and why.

Facebook not website

The clientèle for this business has an average age in their low to mid 20’s with a lot of teens and a few older people. They are primarily male (about 95 % of players are male). Although the store has a website, there is little information on it. The key communications for this game happens on Facebook, where his community of players can take part and be active in the decisions that are being made about their favourite place to hang out.

Young people want to interact not just have information pushed at them.

Games for everyone

In a past blog post I wrote about his business and I talk specifically about how he has created new games to appeal to the youngest of his clients, knowing that as they progress, they will get better and will stay clients longer.

As business owners you need to look at what you have to offer that will keep your current clients coming back. You can sell ‘one offs’ but you want to try and fill your business with clients that are ‘in love’ with your service and return over and over, bringing their friends and spending their time and money.

Invites the community

On the third floor of his business he has a huge room with high ceilings that needed to be painted. He opened up this room and started an non-profit Art Club for young artists to exhibit murals, painting and photography. He hosts regular events and even offers his own walls for the canvas (see image below).

Koros Games upstairs floor - Art Club

What can you be doing to support the community your clients live in. If you have a location, can you open the doors during off hours for a charity to use. If you don’t have a physical location can you commit time or other resources for local events, not-for-profits, or other community engagements. A business that operates without the connection to its community, whether locally or online, is not as connected to it client.

Simple changes

I laughed at this change, but really… it makes sense for everyone. All the prices in his store include taxes. Not only does it make it easier for his youngest clients to know how much money they need to get a new card to add to their deck, it makes it easier for his employees to help people. He said to me, “Why don’t all businesses do this? It just makes sense.”

Big thinking investments

Originally when he started he was renting a small space on the main street in Orangeville, a city of 25,000, just North of Toronto Ontario. With his focus on his clients his business outgrew the location and he had to move. His answer was to purchase a century old building in a prime location and rent out the street level floor space. He still has two floors of space and he can host up to 200 players for tournaments. This is unheard of outside the large cities. The key is he does not need to fill to capacity to make his money, he simply has the space to offer the opportunity without it being a financial burden on the business. It is one of the reasons he is able to run two events simultaneously to attract both the competitive player and the newbie or casual player.

Are you thinking about your best investments in your business that will give you great resources and give your clients a better experience at the same time? Meet your clients where they are and they will continue to follow you and purchase from you.

What Makes You Money? Revenue Generating Activities!

Doing Revenue Generating Activities or RGA every day is not always easy, especially if you are a soul-proprietor doing both the work IN your business and ON your business. If you are a massage therapist, contractor, coach, or any other service provider and you are spending your days doing work for your clients then when are you generating new sales? If you say, “I’m not” then how do you intend to continue with a healthy business? The answer to that is likely “I don’t”.

RGA consists of marketing and sales activities, both of which you are in charge of and likely wear the overseers hat of management for their implementation and completion. This is an ongoing, daily activity that must be attended to regularly or you will feel the roller-coaster effect of alternating prosperity and want. I want to give you one activity to use every day to help you flatten out this prosperity line as you grow it and that is The Daily Diligence.

The Daily Diligence

Phone calls are still requiredPhone Speed Dial

If you think social media and emails are enough to get your clients to reach out to you and buy then you are wrong. People still need the personal touch and, because of this, sales calls are not going away. Even if you are networking to build relations or belong to a marketing group like BNI you will need to follow up with connections and referrals. Networking, social media, and email campaigns are part of your marketing and hopefully, if done right, will help you fill your funnel with great warm prospects. Don’t throw in the towel on your marketing until you have done the follow-up and you personally know that you have connected with everyone that may want your service.

Set a time limit or accomplishment level

Ensure you have time for your Daily Diligence but don’t fill your day with it, unless you have booked extra time. To make sure you have time to do this difficult work you need to book it. Just like you would book your clients, you will book yourself time to do RGA work. There are so many activities that could be done for marketing and sales and if not managed correctly they can take over your week. Remember that time, in the not too distant past, when you had no time to do anything because you had booked so many networking events and coffee meetings? Well maybe you have not had one of those weeks yet, but if you are not careful, it will happen and then, when the week is over and you have not closed any new sales you should be wondering, “what was the value of my time and dollars”.

You can also book by accomplishment level. For instance you may say, I’m going to knock on 5 doors or make 10 calls. Pick a value you have control over. This does not work for number of sales, as you may need to spend the day to get one sale and then you have not balanced your marketing with your serving.

Start every day doing the one thing

Do the one thing that is hardest for you to do first thing in the morning. If calling clients and closing sales are difficult then start your day with the focus to accomplish that first. Don’t book any client work until you have fulfilled your commitment to your most difficult RGA.

Evaluate Your Investment

This can be applied to any RGA activity, but I want to look specifically at your networking. Have you evaluated your ROI on your networking investment?

  1. How much money and more importantly, how much time does it take?
  2. How much money and time have you budgeted?
  3. What return were you expecting (that would make it valuable / or at a minimum)?
  4. How much return did you get?

People have an expectation that just because they are liked by others or enjoy being at events, that eventually there will be a return. Even if you are one of the most productive referral partners in a networking group you may never see any return. I say, “If there is no cash flow then let it go!”

At the end of the day I want you to ask yourself, “did I do something today that was revenue generating?” Answer ‘Yes’ every day and you are on your way to accelerated growth.