Summer Selling – What Else Can You Do?

wine on the beach enjoying summer

Summer feels like a time of year that you cannot get much done. So many people are away on vacation or out enjoying the time with their kids who are off school; basically slowing down. But if you are looking for sales in the summer you cannot slow down, so what else can you do? Here are three ideas I have for you that I have experienced over the last few weeks.

1. Beach Time

If you have access to a great outdoor space then invite some clients to join you for an afternoon event. Add food, great content and learning, and amazing networking. Invite some other experts and add a panel or Q&A that includes them. Make sure you charge enough to cover your expenses and you are highlighting your business. Introduce an offer or let people know you will be calling them to chat about doing some other things together and helping them with their needs.

One of the networking associations I belong to (with a membership of about 150 people) hosted an event for 12 people (first come – first served). You had to be quick to get a ticket and it was worth it. It was hosted at the directors cottage on Georgian Bay. We sat on the deck sipping wine, networking, learning and getting great support for our businesses. The cost at $55 was not excessive but it also was not nominal. She made a little money and supported her members in a unique way, which created a desire for next year. In addition, she did not have to leave the cottage to host an event down in the city, saving her enormous amount of time and extra costs.

2. Think Small

If you do events during the year you know how much time they can take for things like:

  • getting sponsors
  • selling display tables
  • finding a venue
  • selling the tickets
  • arranging food, accommodations, media, etc.

If you want to do something in the summer but you know you just don’t have time to create something big then think small. A small room that sits 15 would create a great atmosphere for learning and sharing. Keep the event to a 1/2 day or less so people can still plan their summer fun around it and add something fun to the program like summer punch tasters or a summer dress code.

This past weekend my friend Beatrice Johnston hosted a Brand building event in Toronto. She was visiting with another friend who had access to a small professional room. The event was from 11 am – 2 pm and was full of great content with a promise to follow up. She used Eventbrite to create the event page and sell tickets. She filled a small room of ideal clients. She left with an open door to follow up with each person and keep in touch. Since we all paid to be there she was not out of pocket for the event.

3. An Extra $2500

Could you use an extra $2500 this summer? My good friend Cindy Ashton had some time in between setting up her new national TV show, “Cindy Uncorked” (launching this fall on the Women’s Television Network) and getting sponsors, to do some coaching for a select few entrepreneurs. She really doesn’t have much time, but she loves to help entrepreneurs have a voice with powerful communications so she created a short $500 program with specific results for 5 people only. It’s an easy purchase for someone looking for those results and an easy marketing setup because it is only a piece of any of her full programs. It required a sales page with a video, the shopping cart for registration, autoresponders to send out the information after the purchase and her time, set in time slots of her choosing.

I loved this so much she gave me permission to use the idea to offer some extra time for my clients and came up with the Growth Explosion offer. Go ahead and copy my template if you want to try this for yourself.

There is still time to get something on your marketing calendar for the summer. Do it now and get more sales while everyone else is taking it easy.

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.

Small Begets Small – Breaking the Cycle that Keeps Businesses from Growing

In a recent interview with Canadian Business Magazine I was asked about the challenge why small business growth stalls. What do small businesses do when they find themselves plateauing or stalled? We talked about things you can do to help start the growth again but why not avoid the issue all together?

If the law of attraction is correct, and I believe it is, then what you focus on is attracted to you. If you focus on the issue of running a small business, the challenge of managing more than you have now, the problems of growing when you don’t have any more time or money to do so, what you are attracting to you is more of the same. This small mindset focus begets more small business problems that keep owners from taking the really big steps.

If you want to start seeing a significant positive change in your bottom line you need to make a significant change in how you perceive your business. You have to see it as large. And how do you do that?

Understand your “Tens Times Business”

To ensure you don’t stall on your way to a larger income you need to be prepared to do what needs to get done when you get to what would be a typical level to stall. This has more to do with your psychology then money or time which tend to be the excuse for most of us (me included). When we know what the next step is the cost becomes negligible.

An example is when I decided a few years back that I wanted to host several of small evening events in Toronto to help introduce my skill and process to more business owners. I knew Toronto was expensive to rent locations and the places I wanted to go were going to cost me hundreds of dollars. When I did the calculations I felt the price I would have to charge was going to be too prohibitive. If I had not had the insight to understand what my next step needed to be I might have stopped there.

Because I knew what my business structure and needs were going to be in the future I was ready for what I had to do now. I knew I wanted to engage a location sponsor for these small events. Someone that was aligned with my clients’ needs. When I was at an event and in the company of the Business development director for an international business centre corporation all I had to do was ask. I knew what I needed and why, so the ask became easy and very interesting to them.

If you want to know what your business structure and needs are going to be in the future you need to do the work of the ‘Ten Times Business’. This is looking at your business as if it were ten times larger than it is now. Ten times more clients, more income, more expenses, more employees, more markets… choose a factor and evaluate what you would need to be able to handle it. Ask yourself, “What would I have to do if I had X clients?” X is the number of clients you have right now times ten. If you really think about this what you get is insight into what things you will need in the future, just to grow a little beyond your current ceiling.

Act ‘As If”

This is not the same as “fake it ‘til you make it”, but similar. It is not about faking, it is about changing the way you see yourself and your business. Tell yourself, “this is what it will be like” and it will be believable by both your unconscious, which believes everything is real, and your conscious. If, to be more successful you need to have expert status and you have taken all the courses and got all the accreditation then the next step is to be the expert. If you want to be accepted as an expert, then you first have to believe you are an expert. This is true for any aspect of life. If you want to be accepted as a wealthy business owner then you have to believe you are a wealthy business owner.

There is no faking what you are, so start acting as if you are what you strive to be and you will become it.

Up Your Reference Group Level

If you want to see yourself as an owner of a bigger business start spending time with people that see you as you want to be. Find people that will hold you accountable, stop you from spending too much time in ‘pity mode’, see your best and strongest traits, understand your challenges, and won’t belittle you when you run into a block but instead help you see the way around or through it. You want people that are doing what you want to do and have knowledge and expertise to share with you.

If you are always the smartest person in the group, you have no way of learning and growing. Make sure your group is climbing the ladder of expertise with you. If they are not and they are simply content to be where they are, then you will need to find some more people to help fill this void in your ‘growth’ reference group. Find people that challenge your status quo and make you take uncomfortable action to get you out of where you are and on to where you want to be. Remember, owning a larger business is not the same as owning the business you have right now, it has new challenges that require new thinking so stop thinking small.

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.

 

When Success Starts – Don’t Depart

When we start feeling that overwhelm – that churning, aching, anguish we get as humans when things start piling up, we often stop doing the work that has to get done. If the pile is the result of wanted growth then be careful you don’t stop growth from happening by giving up every time it feels like there is too much on your plate.

One of the reasons so few people achieve big success is the commitment required to stay the course when success starts taking hold. Success is not easy. It is not just a lot of work up front and a ride at the end. It is not in your DNA or your inheritance. It is a consistent push every day to do what has to get done; and not just the fun things. Everything – every piece of your business must get handled routinely. There are no exceptions.

Today I want to remind you to stay on track. If you really want to make it, if you truly desire to create a bigger business, then ‘stay the course’; you can do it. Here are three things you can do to help get through those overwhelming times and onto the routine of running a bigger business.

1. Stick to the Plan

If you don’t know where you are going you can end up anywhere. That is why you have a plan for your growth, so don’t forget to use it. Review the plan at least monthly and check to see if you are on track. Are you meeting your deadlines? Do you have what you need to move on? Have you stayed focused on the plan or have you been side-tracked by some other fun / shinning / new idea? The plan defines where you want to be in the future and outlines the path you have identified to get you there. During implementation, you will be able to identify the daily ‘to do’ list from this plan that will get you to the immediate and long-term goals.

2. Do the Work

Do your work; the work you are best at; the work that when you do it you add value to the company. Let others do the work that is not yours. If there is no one else in your business but you then start looking at why you are alone. This may be one of the reasons you are not growing. You will have to hire someone before you are ready to have employees. If you know employees are in your big-business vision then start letting go.

To start the ‘letting go’ process look for the three things you do that do not add value to the company. Look for things that take you a long time to do. Things you are not good at and that you do not love to do. Your ‘Yuck Work’. After you have identified just 3, look for ways to offload that work to a contractor. If that is not possible then find a way to automate the work or systematize it so you don’t have to contemplate the process more than once. Reducing your ‘Yuck Work’ gives you more time to focus on the things that truly add value to your company and will help you grow.

3. Prioritize

Pick three ‘Must Do’ goals each day that must be completed by the end of that day. Evaluate if they are the right goals by asking, “Will completing this goal get me closer to my ultimate goal of growth?” If the answer is no then it is not the ‘Must Do’ goal for that day. If you ask this question and you think, “I have to do three other tasks before I can do this, then this is also not a ‘Must Do’ goal. Put those three immediate tasks on your ‘Must Do’ list for the day and then get the bigger goal tomorrow.

Note – If you complete your three ‘Must Do’ goals feel free to move on to other things that you need to get done.

Being successful is simply doing the work that others give up on when things get overwhelming. Make doing the work part of your routine, stay focused on your goals and ensure that the goals you are working on fit the plan you have for your business. You can do this, I believe in you!

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.

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.

Free Can Get You More Sales

Recently I have had several clients developing software applications and mobile apps. I’ve been in the software industry and software implementation in one form or another for over 2 decades so I’ve seen a lot of different models for development and product roll-out. The software I see and use seems to have a very different way of reaching their market: It starts with free.

I’m just taking serious note of it as I have had some friends create a new software program that has some potential for great value and they want to ask $420 a year to use it. When I tested the software and found several bugs and functionality issues I came to the conclusion that although they have something, it is not ready, in my opinion, to be a full offering. Here are a few things I think they have missed with this roll-out of their product, that apply to most businesses and some suggestions I think would gain them more clients up front and potential investors to create the full premium version of the software.

Start with Free

The best way to get people using your product is to offer some portion of it for free. The “Free for Use – Pay for Premium” model is used a lot for some of the biggest and best loved software applications right now. In the software industry it is almost expected. Here are some examples of software programs that have ‘Free for Use’ components and ‘Pay for Premium’ profit models.

Facebook.com and Google.com

Get connected, start relationships, and build a following for free. When you are ready to be in front of your target market on other pages they visit you can pay for ads. I would say Google is the granddaddy of this business model to the scale they have created. For years the founders of Google did not even want to charge. Their investors kept asking, “how are we going to make money if we didn’t charge?”

Well that all worked out for them, the users and the investors, didn’t it?

Hightail.com, Dropbox.com and Anymeeting.com

Hightail (formerly YouSendIt.com), Dropbox, and Anymeeting are all online support software packages that can be used for free. They are completely functional and provide amazing support to a certain level for free. Their profit model comes when people need more.

Hightail will send large files for free. If you want to track the downloads, keep records of your messages, brand your emails, or send extra-large files you can purchase one of their premium packages.

The same applies to Dropbox and Anymeeting. Dropbox is a cloud storage location and Anymeeting is for webinars. Want more storage… Want to record your webinar or host larger groups… that’s when they charge.

TheLadders.com

I admit, I have never used this website but I do know a great deal about it because it was the focus of a book by Bill Murphy (The Intelligent Entrepreneur). I know that they rolled out their software and enticed as many people as possible to use the software for free. Then they transitioned to a paid model.

Here is one way you may be able to use free to get more sales.

  1. Give the software for free to get a large user base
  2. Use the feedback to streamline the product for optimal value for your clients.
  3. Evaluate how clients use the software to create a plan for a premium product.
  4. Leverage the numbers of your current user base to get outside investment.
  5. Use the investment to create a paid segment of your product that answers needs not fulfilled by the free version.
  6. Roll-out the paid product marketing to your current clients first.
  7. Create a marketing campaign to reach new clients and give your current clients bonuses for bringing in new clients.

If you can give something of value to start a relationship with your target market then think about giving all or some of it for free to get more sales later on. It may be the first step to your multi-million dollar enterprise.

Overcoming the Fear of Growth

“Every significant accomplishment begins with one person stepping up and committing to making a difference” ~ John C. Maxwell.

There is a fear around spending more money, committing more time, giving up freedoms, or increasing time away from family and friends that stops so many business owners from doing what needs to get done to ensure their business grows.  To make a difference in business a business owner must be focused on the work required to see it complete and committed to providing the resources needed to get it there.

Recently I had a Client share a story of a client of hers, who is in the wellness industry. They will give up comfort for their customers because they cannot afford the right equipment. They will even be willing to risk their own health by not having ergonomically functional patient examination equipment in their treatment rooms. Their goal is to buy these things, that they know they need to run a functional business by saving up over a 5 year period.

If they think their clients are going to wait 5 years for them to have the right equipment they will be wrong. Until then they cannot charge what they are worth because they don’t have the basics to make it valuable for their customers. By charging less it will take longer to save the money they need to purchase the equipment and likely it will never happen because the habit of ‘good enough’ will already be instilled into all their business practices.

A business owner must realize that there is no free way to start a business. Growth always starts with investment. So how do we overcome the fear of investment when we don’t feel we have the money or the time to give?

Have a Realistic Goal

Five years to purchase the equipment you need to do the work is not realistic. It would be like going into the new Target store and them not having washrooms for their clients. “We know we need washrooms and it is on our 5-year plan to invest in building washrooms in all stores.” Wouldn’t that be a ridiculous thing to hear.

Maybe not as ridiculous, but just as dysfunctional, are the statements that come from many business owners when it comes to their business growth. Statements like:

  • “I can’t afford to hire someone right now,” when they are completely unable to do all the work just to maintain their business. Where do they think the extra money is going to come from if they don’t hire someone so they can take on more business?
  • “My husband is finished school for the summer and he said he would help me,” was the statement from a business owner of 17 years looking for a new growth strategy because she was working too much and loosing clients. Where did she believe her husband’s new business prowess was going to come from this summer?

The intention to grow is not enough, you must have a realistic goal that cannot be reached by applying a little extra effort in the same places. A growth goal requires a clear vision that will propel you to do the things you have not done before so you can overcome the fear of  trying something new.

Follow a Plan

Desert journey

A clear growth vision will give you the passion to do the work during the times when doing the work is difficult and a plan with steps that can be followed helps ensure that we don’t stop before we reach our destination.

Creating a plan takes a little bit of insight and requires the ability to gather knowledge about the resources needed for each component of the plan.

I was chatting with a real estate investor this morning. He has recently acquired several commercial buildings. He completely understands the value of offering an up-to-date space when it comes to renting offices for a premium, so he is on a path to update and renovate. He knows what the goal is, he has a vision for its value, he has created a plan to get there, and now he is collecting the resources needed to get the steps done.

The work feels easier when you can tackle each step in its turn. The fear comes when we don’t have a process and we try to tackle everything at the same time. The real estate investor knows he cannot have all the trades in his building at the same time. In between purchasing the building and gutting it he invested in more knowledge about development, government requirements and the trades so he could manage the project successfully for his business. The steps of his plan are easier because he is not guessing his next move and then having to put out fires as he goes.

Free Doesn’t Mean Without Cost

One of the biggest fallacies in business growth is to expect to use a free tool or cheaply acquired resource and it won’t cost any money.  When I sit down with my clients and go through the costs of their programs or services, they often find that they are paying way more than they thought to create and deliver it. Bringing things from home, using free online tools, printing a few pages, paying for cheap location, etc. all add up. Usually not everything is accounted for. The one thing that is most often overlooked is the business owner’s own time. When they calculate that they have put in 10 hours for a 2 hour service then they do the math and realize they are working for less than $10 per hour.

We feel fear around growth because we know instinctively that we are working for a pittance and we cannot do more because we really cannot afford to do more.

When you build your plan you must include the cost of your time to implement and maintain free resources. For instance, using social media is very costly in time. In your plan, your long term goal will be to have the social media marketing managed by another person, so you must account for those hours in your estimated costs for growth. It will not be surprising to you that you are working for little money and it will not be surprising to you how much money you need to then hire someone to do the work. The timing and the resources will then be known for that growth step.

Fear comes when we don’t know what we are doing, why we are doing it, or how we will get it done. If you want to be on the path for a greater business growth you have to reduce or eliminate the fear you have around doing the work. Make your goals match your vision, create a plan with steps that you can follow, and understand what your costs really are.