How to Fix Your Business? Part 2

Last week, we talked about the first four concepts in my new book, Fix Your Business; 90-Day Plan to Get Back Your Life and Reduce Chaos in Your Business. Last week, we looked at Preparation, Purpose, People, and Profit. This week, we’ll go deeper into SmallBizLady’s 12 Ps of Running a Successful Business looking at processes, productivity, performance, and product. This article will give you a few ideas so that you can start to think through how you will start fixing what’s going wrong in your business. I want to help you enjoy running your business again. Take this opportunity to Pre-order a copy of the book, Fix Your Business today, if you order a copy before the book is released in March, you’ll get a free gift. The book will allow to figure out where to get started to turn things around in your business.

#5 Processes: Build Systems and Document Processes. If you are still walking around with all the important information about how your business runs in your head, you are doing your business and yourself a disservice. You’ll never be able to bring on staff or create a business that you can run without you if you don’t document how the secret sauce is made. There are all kinds of processes in a business, payment processing, marketing and lead generation, customer service, email protocol, packaging and shipping, invoicing, etc.

#6 Productivity: Using The Right Tools There are lots of tools out there, you need to decide the best ones that can save you time and/or help you make more money. What can you automate? Should you go cashless? Do you need a social media scheduler, sales automation, CRM, calendar scheduler, invoicing? Pick top things that you have to touch every week in your business and look for a tech solution.

#7 Performance: Measuring Your Results. If you measure something you can improve it. Start with why do your customers buy from you? What is your rate of repeat business? What is your monthly burn rate? What is driving your web traffic? How is your website converting sales? How are your doing on your weekly/monthly sales goals? Ongoing marketing initiatives? Open rates on your emails? What is your shopping cart abandonment rate? And what is your company’s profitability over last year? Get the point? There are a lot of things you can start to look at in your operations. You must pay attention to all aspects of how your business operates in order to make adjustments and grow.

#8 Product: Claim Your Niche. It’s really important that you have a strip of land that you own in the marketplace. What are you known for? What do you want to be known for? Who is your niche customer? Has it shifted at all? What is you next product, online course or book, or service innovation? Talk to your customers. Make sure you know what they are struggling with and then look to the trends in your industry to figure out where you need to direct your business next.

I hope these questions have helped you see areas in need of improvement in your business. But you are not alone to figure things out. If you want help to build a new plan for your business, join my Fix Your Business Facebook Group. The content is especially designed with you in mind.  Stay tuned next week for Part III of How to Fix Your Business series.

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The Invisible Leader

Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET.  This is excerpted from my recent interview with Zach Mercurio. He is an international speaker, trainer, and purpose and meaningful work consultant. Zach is the founder and author of PurposeSpeaks.com, the popular blog on purposeful leadership, work, and life. For more info: www.ZachMercurio.com.

SmallBizLady: WHAT EXACTLY IS AN “INVISIBLE LEADER” AND WHY IS IT THE MOST POWERFUL ASPECT OF AN ORGANIZATION?

 Zach Mercurio: One of the biggest misconceptions about what both motivates employees and attracts customers is “what” an organization does (it’s products or services); what an organization “gets” for what it does (profit, metrics, paychecks); or a charismatic person (CEO, supervisors).

However, compelling research finds that a clear purpose – the reason for which the company exists – is actually the most powerful motivator of our behaviors, attitudes, and commitment to businesses as both employees and customers.

The common purpose of a business is that “invisible leader” and when we can make the purpose more important than a metric or a person, results follow.

SmallBizLady: ISN’T THE “WHY” IDEA OF “PURPOSE” TOUCHY FEELY, WISHFUL THINKING? IS PURPOSE A BUZZWORD OR FAD? WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT?

Zach Mercurio: When a business no longer serves its purpose or demonstrates his human value, it dies.

Perhaps more powerfully, psychological research since the 1950s has found that we are all wired as human beings – both employees and consumers – to search for purpose.

People crave being a part of something bigger, of having a story to connect their work and lives to. Small businesses are especially primed to connect people to purpose both because of their size and connection to many stakeholders in their communities.

SmallBizLady: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE LEADERS MAKE WHEN TRYING TO MOTIVATE/INSPIRE THEMSELVES/PEOPLE WITHIN THEIR ORGANIZATIONS?

Zach Mercurio: We still seem to live in a time where business leaders think people are motivated by results. Research finds this is not the case. The problem with results is precisely the fact that you can achieve them. Then what? We can meet that goal, get that salary increase, increase profits – then what? When you follow the “then what” to its end, we often find an emptiness – an emptiness that the bigger purpose fills.

As business leaders, when we can clearly articulate our reason for existing – what human problem we exist to solve through our products or services – we create an everlasting goal that can’t be fulfilled. We don’t just build a business. We build a legacy.

SmallBizLady: HOW WOULD I INITIATE A CHANGE TO A MORE PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE OR ORGANIZATION?

Zach Mercurio: For small businesses, I would recommend starting with these four steps:

  • Clarify your purpose for performance. Businesses with a purpose beyond profit have been found to be no more profitable than other businesses. However, businesses with a clear purpose that is consistently communicated and proven both internally and externally tend to outperform peers by 6:1 on average.

To clarify your purpose, make sure you have a clear answer to the question: Outside of what we do, how we do it, or what we get for what we do – why do we exist?

Write it down and make it visible.

Then, test that purpose with employees, customers, and other stakeholders. Does it emotionally resonate? If so, you’re on the right track.

  • Engineer the expression of purpose. People are the medium of an organization’s purpose. Ensuring there are shared, clear expectations of what the expression of the purpose looks like at each level of the organization is critical.
  • Make purpose the “boss” of your strategic decision-making. To understand whether your organization operates from purpose, examine your decisions. Instead of being one factor in strategic decisions, purpose should be the determining factor.  Ask other organizational leaders and members: “How do we make decisions here?” Have them draw out the process.  If the process of making decisions is unclear and not controlled by purpose fulfillment, you may be at risk for purpose misalignment.
  • Optimize your business culture for purpose. Research finds that when people have regular contact with the beneficiaries of their work they are more productive and motivated. The key to creating a culture of purpose is to make sure the end user stays at the center of it. For example, before you tell employees what to do and how to do it, show them why it matters. Be a story-collector and a storyteller.

SmallBizLady: IF I AM LOOKING TO START LEADING A LIFE/ORG W/MORE PURPOSE, WHAT’S THE 3 CORE BELIEFS THAT NEED TO BE IN PLACE TO THRIVE?

Zach Mercurio: To lead a business from purpose, everyone involved in the operation should:

  • Believe that the work matters
  • Believe in a bigger, human-centered purpose, and
  • Believe in proving that purpose everyday through policies, procedures, and practices.

SmallBizLady: SIMON SINEK WRITES A LOT ABOUT PURPOSE IN THE WORKPLACE. WHY IS YOUR BOOK NEEDED? HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?

Zach Mercurio: Purpose has become popular and stimulating as an “idea,” which makes it easy to misuse. And, much of the work on purpose and business is theoretical. I start where thought leaders like Simon Sinek leave off. Purpose is useless unless it is practiced. And research finds there are key practices, like the ones I just mentioned, to building a purposeful company.

SmallBizLady: YOU SAY IN THE INVISIBLE LEADER THAT PROBLEMS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN SOLUTIONS. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

Zach Mercurio: Ultimately, people aren’t emotionally moved by the solutions your offer. Anyone will be able to copy what you do or how you do it, but they can’t copy, at your core, why you are.

When business leaders are able to stay focused on the human problem they solve or human need they fulfill, they speak a common language among diverse stakeholders and can inspire emotional commitment.

And, research finds that emotional commitment is the most sustainable type of stakeholder commitment.

SmallBizLady:  MILLENNIALS/GENERATION Z TALK A LOT ABOUT NEEDING TO WORK FOR AN ORGANIZATION THAT HAS A POWERFUL PURPOSE. WHY IS THIS?

Zach Mercurio:  A study that just came out seems to indicate that our upcoming generation, Generation Z, is prioritizing purpose in work over almost anything else. The same is true when it comes to purchasing behavior.

One example of this is that this generation is indicating that they prefer to work in the public or non-profit sectors over the private sector. This is indicative of the desire to make a difference that has been stoked by generations seeing their parents disengaged at work and an interconnectedness to others facilitated by technology.

But while many talk about purpose as a generational need, it is important to understand that the search for purpose and meaning is a human need that is universal across generations. These younger generations are just more vocal about it.

SmallBizLady:  HOW CAN LEADERS CREATE A CULTURE OF SIGNIFICANCE AND MEANING?

Zach Mercurio:  In addition to re-humanizing the everyday narrative of the business, two other critical ways of fostering a culture of significance in the company are:

  1. Rewarding purposeful behaviors such as helpfulness, customer focus, etc. versus simply performance is key. Your culture is ultimately the behaviors your reward. Traditional organizations tend to reward self-serving behaviors.
  2. Ensure that the communication of the purpose is clear throughout an employee life-cycle and that shared language is used to communicate it among managers and supervisors.

SmallBizLady:  WHAT IS THE FORMULA FOR FIGURING OUT YOUR COMPANY’S PURPOSE (AND YOUR PERSONAL PURPOSE, TOO)?

Zach Mercurio:  First, it is critical to uncover why the company was founded in the first place. What was the market and human need? Why did the founder start the company? Is that “why” still clear?

Second, it is important to clarify and crystalize that purpose. Make sure it is clear to all stakeholders. And make sure the purpose is detached from what the company does or what it gets for what it does.

Third, ensure that core values and principles are in place to maintain purpose alignment. How will you know if you are straying from your purpose? What will you do to course-correct. Building purpose into your strategic planning is powerful.

Finally, ensure that the purpose is delivered at all levels of the company. After any in-person or digital interaction, can people know and feel why you exist? This is the standard of a purposeful organization.

SmallBizLady:  WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EFFECTS OF LEADING MORE WITH PURPOSE? WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND THROUGH YOUR RESEARCH?

Zach Mercurio:  Because the search for purpose is characteristic of all employees and stakeholders, research has found that businesses with a clear purpose beyond profit outperform the market by an average of 6:1. Globally, purpose-driven brands are 15x more profitable.

Research has also found that people with a strong, pervasive sense of purpose at work…

  • Live up to 7 years longer (NIH, 1998; Carelton, 2014)
  • Are twice as likely to learn something new each day (Gallup, 2013)
  • Are 42% more likely to regularly experience contentment (Leider, 2009)
  • Are less likely to be clinically depressed (Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1980)
  • Are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression in teenage and college years (PNAS, 2014)
  • Have a 20% longer tenure where they work (NYU/Imperative, 2015)
  • Are 50% more likely to be leaders, be promoted (NYU/Imperative, 2015)
  • Are 64% more fulfilled at work (NYU/Imperative, 2015)
  • Quadruples the likelihood of being engaged at work and in school (Gallup, 2013)
  • Is ranked the #1 factor in job satisfaction, and is more than 2x more important that the next factor, organizational leadership (Happiness Research Institute, 2015)

If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.

Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz

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5 Ways To Upgrade Your Trade Show Booth Through Solid Branding and Marketing

Sponsored Post

You never get a second chance to make a first impression and that is especially true when you’re presenting your brand to the world.

Add in the stress and fast pace of a trade show and it becomes a make or break situation.

Trade shows are important events for small and mid-market business to network, showcase their brand, grow their platform and ultimately build revenue. The key is creating an experience that is impactful for those experiencing your brand for the first time without it costing an arm and a leg.

Putting together a strategic game plan when it comes to branding and marketing before you hit the trade show will go a long way to accomplish both.

Try these five ideas to freshen up the trade show experience:

Do Your Research – Participating in a trade show often requires a large investment so if you are a newbie to the trade show game, you need to learn from those who have more experience than you.  Go to different trade shows and take time to explore a variety of booths. Learn what works and what doesn’t. No matter how much preparation you put in, there will always be something you can learn from those who have ore experience.

Get Interactive –  Not all brands are easy to display. Find a way to allow your booth traffic to interact with your products or services because if you can make your product or service interactive, people will hang around. Not only will you generate interest, but they will get a better understanding of what is unique to your brand and that goes a long way to building trust with a potential customer.

Promotional Items – Imprinted pens, calendars, and t-shirts will keep your company’s name and logo on people’s minds every time they use them. Promotional giveaways that are easily visible are a great way to extend your booth’s reach. So hand out big stickers, wearables, etc and turn it into a game. The more people you get to wear them, the more others will want one. The can also be a great conversation piece that automatically inserts your brand into that conversation. Brochures and other printed materials also work really well – especially if you can get them at a great price.

Give them Social Proof – Trade show booths that seem to have a lot going on tend to draw more action. Bring extra employees (dressed in regular clothes) and have them surround your booth and interact with the staff and onlookers. Social proof inspires trust and seeing others already engaging with your brand will cause others to come see what’s so fascinating.

Follow up Fast – Connect with leads as quickly as possible after the trade show. I would suggest waiting no longer than one day and then reach out to any prospects so that your interaction is still fresh in their mind. I know we all want to think we’re special but at a trade show, so many interactions take place that it would be hard to remember everyone.

These tips will help you stand out at any trade show and create lasting business relationships that could positively impact your bottom line.

When putting together your branding and marketing strategy, don’t forget to swing by Staples for everything your business needs to prepare for events, from updating and upgrading marketing materials to completely outfitting your booth signage and displays – all at an affordable price!

This post was sponsored by Staples, but the content and opinions are that of Melinda Emerson.

About Staples

Staples helps the world work better with work solutions that deliver industry-leading products, services and expertise across office supplies, facilities, breakroom, furniture, technology, promotional products, and print and marketing services. The company supports businesses of all sizes from sole-preneurs to the Fortune 100 and everything in between. We meet customers where they are with every-day low prices across multiple channels, including direct sales, e-commerce, mobile, AI-powered “conversational commerce” and retail. Headquartered near Boston, Mass., Staples operates in North America. More information about Staples is available at www.staples.com.

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5 Reasons You Need a Media Kit For Your Small Business

Guest Article

Super Heroes never seem to go out of style and it’s mainly because  people will always be intrigued with having super human powers. But even Super Heroes rely on tools of their trade. Captain America has his trusty shield, The Green Lantern has his ring and Spider Man has a wrist gadget that allows him to shoot special web fluid.

As authors, speakers and entrepreneurs – a Media Kit gives us the power we need.

Media Kits, help you tell the world – not just journalists – the relevant details about your business, book or brand. Developing a great Media Kit can help you leverage the power of the media and also promote your products and services.

Here are some more reasons they’re important to your business.

  1. Provide information.

A media kit is a powerful packaged document that provides information about your products, services or business. Used mainly for launches at events, a media kit provides editors, journalists and reporters a snapshot of your business – who you are, what you do, who you have worked with, etc. It’s an attention-grabbing point of reference from which editors, journalists and reporters decide whether or not they’ll interview you about your business. Additionally, a media kit allows you to answer questions being asked about what you do, as well as create a buzz around your business.

  1. Build credibility.

Creating a media kit is one of the best ways to build credibility for your business. It presents a lasting first impression on media representatives and shines a professional light on your business. Not only does a media kit allow you to demonstrate your expertise, it gives you an edge over competitors who neglect having a media kit for their business and builds trust with the media, influencers and potential clients.

  1. Demonstrate value.

A media kit presents an opportunity for your business to demonstrate its value to the media and potential clients. Editors, journalists, reporters and potential clients want to know your business’ purpose, how you can provide a solution to their problems, and why they should invest in you/your business. A media kit tells the media and potential clients why they should choose you.

  1. Demonstrate growth.

As a business is established, it evolves over time as it seeks to acquire and retain more clients. Utilizing statistics in a media kit demonstrates your business’ successes, as well as its potential for further growth. In essence, a media kit provides a track record for your business and shines a light on its potential for further success.

  1. Encourages investment.

In addition to telling media representatives and potential clients about the products and services you offer, a media kit tells them how to purchase these solutions for their needs. As a one-stop shop for all information about your business, a media kit informs media representatives and potential clients the ways in which they can buy from you (order form, direct link, etc.). This prevents the need for one to go searching for information or an easy way to invest in your business.

Knowing when and where to send your kit is also crucial. Before sending it out to everyone in the media, spend time researching publications and media outlets to know which ones are most likely to cover your company. Be sure to include a personalized email to each journalist to introduce yourself, the company and explain what the media kit is for. This will help you to make a connection with the person you’re trying to reach, rather than sending them the exact same media kit you may be sending 100 other journalists.

Media kits don’t need to be used all of the time, but sometimes they do have their place in the world of public relations.

A really great media kit helps take your brand, your book and your book launch to another level.

About Nikki Woods

Nikki Woods is the CEO of Nikki Woods Media – a corporation that helps experts, entrepreneurs and authors build establish their authority and attain visibility utilizing new and traditional media. With more than 20 years of media experience, her passion as a Global Visibility expert is to help clients become competing players in their desired fields using her proven methods of success. She is also the Director of Marketing and Corporate Sponsorships for #SmallBizLady.

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How to Fix Your Business? Part I

If you’ve been in business any length of time, no doubt you’ve had some tough days. Here are just a few scenarios that just come to mind. One of your employees didn’t show up for a client, and you find out when the client calls you furious. Your assistant booked your travel to the wrong city. A customer promised the check was in the mail, and you were counting on the cash flow to make payroll that week. You had a major proposal due, and your team didn’t get it done in time causing you to scramble at the last minute and pull an all-nighter to get it completed. You had to skip your last paycheck to pay a vendor bill. Have I struck any pain yet?

When you take on the title of business owner, you immediately have at least 10 jobs, and let’s face – it this work can be exhausting. And after a few years of this, you might have started thinking, “Why did I start this business?” But don’t go there yet. Help is on the way. You deserve to enjoy running your business. In this, the first of a three-part series, I’ll share how to get back in control of your business. It’s a sneak peak of my new book, Fix Your Business; 90-day Plan to Get Back Your Life and Reduce Chaos in Your Business. In it, you’ll learn my 12 Ps of Running a Successful Business along with how to develop your 90-day plan to go from struggling to thriving in your business. You don’t live to work. You work to live your dream life. Here’s Part I of How to Fix Your Business.

#1 Preparation: Get Ready to Reinvent. This is all about developing a plan and setting the stage for what you want to have happen differently in your business. It’s about your big picture goal setting and identifying the top issues that you will tackle in your 90-day turn around plan. It will provide a framework to create a strategy to make real change in your business. If you are tired of the constant fires in your business, this is where you need to start.

#2 Purpose: Develop Your Leadership Mindset. 50% of all business problems are not so well hidden personal problems. You must grow yourself to grow your business. Clarifying your purpose is about developing your new vision for your future; how you are going to channel the energy, passion and courage to fix your business. You must take stock of your attitude and approach and look for ways to improve. It’s time to revisit your “Why” story. It’s important to remember why you started your business. When your business gets rough, and starts beating you down. Sometimes, you can feel a bit lost. But that is when you need to step away and think things through carefully.  Consider questions such as, Why does it make sense to stay in business? Why does the world need your business? What kind of life do you want your business to provide for you? What are you willing to do as a leader to make your dreams happen? The change you seek starts with you.

#3 People: Getting the Right Team and Advisors. If you have people there is a potential for problems, but you must FIX Your People issues. There are three kinds of people problems in a small business. First, when you don’t have any staff, and you need a worker or two to grow, so you can stop overworking and spending your time on tasks that you should outsource or automate. Second, when you have the wrong employees or people in the positions where they are not executing well, thus not utilizing their full potential. Or you are not brave enough to cut a problem child lose. Third, when your people lack proper training. You can’t get upset with your team if they don’t deliver, if you didn’t take the time to show them how it’s done. If you have no standards, everyone is just going to wing it. You must train your people how to get things done your way.

#4 Profit: Minding Your Money. Profit is how we keep score in business. You need to make sure that your business is making a profit with every sale. It’s also critical to use up-to-date financial statements to make business decisions. Don’t let your fear of math be the reason why you don’t know what is going on in your business. Have enough confidence to charge enough so that you can pay yourself regularly and cover all of the expenses of the business. And do everything you can to cut unnecessary expenses.

If you haven’t already preordered your copy of Fix Your Business, you’ll get a special gift if you do it before the launch date. The book will officially be released March 6, 2018. Next week, we’ll tackle the next 4 of SmallBizLady’s 12 Ps of Running a Successful Business. Stay tuned…

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How to #GETSTRONG and Grow Your Business

Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET.  This is excerpted from my recent interview with Stephen Pierce, who is the host of the Success Sculpting Show, where he brings the right information now to sculpt a more meaningful and memorable life of success. For more info: www.SuccessSculpting.com.

SmallBizLady: WHAT ARE THE 4 PILLARS OF STRENGTH THAT EVERY BUSINESS MUST UNDERSTAND TO #GETSTRONG?

Stephen Pierce: The 4 pillars of strength for customers, clients or patients are:

  1. Finding
  2. Getting
  3. Keeping
  4. Growing

All businesses have these same pillars of strength that really make or break a company. Regardless of your industry or if your product or service based. To grow your business, you must be able to profitably Find, Get, Keep and Grow customers, clients or patients.

SmallBizLady: What are 2 of the best ways to Find new customers?

Stephen Pierce: The two best ways to quickly get new customers is to focus on Lead Generation and Referral Systems. For Lead Generation to be effective you must first know your Avatar or what we call your Ideal Customer. Figure out the demographics.

For example, an Avatar can be:

  • Female
  • African-American
  • Single Mom
  • Professional
  • Ages 34-45
  • Lives in the United States
  • Earns $55,000-$75,000 a year
  • Uses an iPhone
  • Buys Cosmetics online
  • Average purchase price is $150
  • Likes to shop at SEPHORA and Bath & Body Works
  • Reads Essence and Black Enterprise Magazine.

A good starting point is to use the Facebook Audience Insight tool. Once you target the right audience you can then have referral programs in place that reward your audience for sending you more people that are like them.

SmallBizLady: What about pillar 2, Getting customers. What should a business focus on there to get more customers?

Stephen Pierce: The primary focus for getting more customers is increasing your sales conversion %. So, testing different sales copy, offers, bundles, price points, bonuses etc., to increase your sales conversions.

In business we tend to think we can make more money if you talk to more people or get in front of more people. While that’s true, I think one of the most overlooked points of leverage or quickly getting more customers is improving the quality of the conversation you are currently having

For example, if you do one-on-one sales in person, on the phone or whatever and you close a deal 1 out of 10 times you meet/speak with someone. Then, that gives you a 10% closing ratio. Let’s say you are speaking with those 10 people a week so your making 1 sale a week. Now, if you want to make 2 sales a week you can look at increasing the # of people you speak to.

So, if you speak to 20 people a week you can double your sales. However, with less work, if you double you closing ration from 10% to 20% you can double your sales without doubling the number of people you speak with. So, increasing sales conversions should always be a priority no matter if it’s in person, on the phone, via webinars, on your website, or in your ecommerce store. Wherever you are looking to make a sale, also look to increase those sales conversions.

SmallBizLady: Okay, so once you get them, what is a business to focus on to keep the customers they get?

Stephen Pierce: This comes to the battle of customer retention and customer attrition. We want to increase our customer retention % while decreasing our customer attrition. While using different marketing tactics like loyalty cards, points, bonuses etc. work, I think the primary way to boost retention and reduce attrition is to have a strong value proposition wrapped into a customer experience that they are unable to get from anywhere else. I would suggest with having valuable conversations online with your market that they find to be relevant. I’m not just talking about products.

What your market is for or against. Are they advocates for no animal testing products, or those organic? What outside the scope of your product is important to them? What cause drives them to live the way they live and to incorporate your business, brand or product into that lifestyle? Look for that and have meaningful conversations around that and you can start to create a level of loyalty that money can’t buy.

SmallBizLady: When it comes to growing customers, what do you suggest for business owners?

Stephen Pierce: They are two primary ways to grow your customers and this is to increase the # of transactions and also increase the value of the transaction. That’s just a fancy way of saying get your customers to buy more often and buy at higher price points.

If you sell consumable products, them obviously at some point they will run out. See if you can get them on an automatic reoccurring purchase so you auto-bill and auto-ship new products to them each month. Put products into packages to increase both the value and the price. If you have customers that stop buying from you, chances are they are buying from someone else. Keep them engaged with your conversations and always look for unmet needs you can serve.

SmallBizLady: With all the things a business owner has to focus on, what would you say is a must have priority?

Stephen Pierce: No question, it’s your marketing systems and selling systems. Because without anything being sold, there is no revenue to support a business. Virtually everything in your business is a cost that supports your servicing systems like customer support, shipping, accounting, packing, researching etc. It’s marketing and selling that are true assets because they are the gatekeepers of the business revenue.

Without effective marketing and selling nothing is being sold which means no money is being made and there really is no business. With all the fancy slogans, mantras, rallying cries, value statements, etc. At the end of it all, a profit needs to be found for any business to have a sustainable existence. Even a non-profit needs money at the end of the day to support the non-profit efforts.

SmallBizLady: How do you define marketing or marketing systems?

Stephen Pierce: Marketing is about demand management. It’s about using strategies to create demand for what you have where there is no demand or the demand is for a competing offer. You have something people want, wish for or desire and that’s great.

However, people can’t respond to what they don’t see. So marketing systems are designed to cut through the clutter, rise above the noise, stand out, be seen and entice your market to want to do business with you. Create that curiosity and interest so you can start a conversation with them.

SmallBizLady:  How do you define sales or selling systems?

Stephen PierceSales is about supply management. After you create the demand and people are interested or just curious, your sales or selling systems converts that interest into income or that curiosity into cash-flow. Your selling systems is really about creating lasting customer relationships where they are delighted to pay you for the value you provide. Selling systems is about making all the marketing payoff. You can dump thousands of dollars into advertising and marketing.

When people walk in to your location, or call you or visit your sales page or ecommerce store you need to have a story that is so seductive, meaningful and connecting and an offer so valuable, irresistible, and fitting for them, regardless of price that they can’t help but by from you.

SmallBizLady:  How does that apply to social media?

Stephen PierceSocial Media is a digital fantasy island where pretending to be something you’re not is really the rule and not the exception. The question of “who are you really?” takes a while to get answered. Whether that’s good or bad isn’t of concern, it’s what do we do about it. So, for social media I recommend a Share, Show, and Sell 3-step strategy that has the marketing and selling embedded in it.

SmallBizLady:  Tell me more about the Share, Show, AND Sell.

Stephen PierceSharing and Show is all about building your social equity. So you share info, links, vids or anything that is not yours that your base will find valuable. This demonstrates that you are a great resource and your social equity goes up. This starts to reveal something real about you and a bridge of trust is starting to be constructed between you and your social media community.

SmallBizLady:  Okay, what about the showing?

Stephen PierceShow is where you demonstrate your skills in that area. This moves up from being a great resource to an excellent expert. For example, when Sharing, I can send you a link to a great video showing someone playing an acoustic guitar that’s amazing and people love it. Later, I could post a video of me showing my awesomeness on the acoustic guitar. As a result, your social equity goes up even higher. Part of this strategy is the element of surprise when they see what you can do.

SmallBizLady: How does that connect with the sell part?

Stephen Pierce: Well, once you have built of your social equity and people know, like and trust you, it becomes much easier to sell on social media. You can do this quickly on landing pages sending traffic from ads or you can do it organically over time.

This 3-step process is important because if you want to send people over to your website or any website and to buy something, people most first have some element of trust with you to click the link.

So, when we are in the Sharing phase we are actually doing what I call “click conditioning.” That means we develop a reputation for having great resources that a great percentage of people will click on the links we post. So what do you think happens when you start posting links to your stuff? You already have “click momentum” so you get lots of traffic which ideally turns into sales.

If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.

Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz

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Why Small Businesses Need to Host Live Events

Guest Article

In this world of fast moving data and instant everything, there is one key element that remains from the beginning of time – connection.  Funny, how in a time with video conference calls and text messaging, people still want to have a connection with the people they are doing business with.  The need to be a part of a larger cause or organization is still a must.  These are 6 key reasons why small businesses need to host live events.

  1. Message – While the message you shared across the internet will help you build your tribe or following, that same message shared at a live event is amplified a thousand times louder by the people who attended your event. Based on the quality of their experience, attendees will share your message with the people in their circle of influence that may have never heard of you.
  1. Connection – People love to do business with people they know, like and trust. Attending a live event allows you to build this connection faster because they are at the event with you. Over the course of the event, the connection established online is nurtured and grows.
  1. Credibility – Hosting a live workshop, positions you as an authority on your subject matter and positions your brand in the marketplace.
  1. Collaboration – The opportunity to collaborate with others in related fields is amazing. Utilizing the opportunity to leverage your combined experience will allow you all to perform your best, while sharing the workload to produce the event.  Everyone participating in the event will promote it to their tribe / following.  Through the promotion of the event, you will gain exposure to their tribe / following as they will to yours.  Exposure to new audiences is essential to a growing business.
  1. Product Generation – Live events offer a great opportunity to develop digital products. These products can be sold directly to attendees afterwards, or to anyone unable to attend the actual event. The session recordings can be sold individually, or as a set. These new digital products can be made available online, or burned to a DVD.
    • Important Note – Hire a quality editor to clean up and prepare the recordings for sale after your event. This will be money well-spent.
  1. Revenue – Live events offer several revenue generating opportunities. Here are the top three:
    • Ticket sales – Revenue can be generated from the ticket sales.
    • Live Streaming – Offering live streaming to those unable to physically attend your event gives them an opportunity to be part of it, even from a distance.
    • Product Sales – During your event is a great opportunity to sell other products in your inventory. As people build their connection with you during an event, they will want more of you.

About the author:

Christal Carter is founder of Evolution Business Alliance an IT, Training and Business Support Company.  Her background is a mix of IT, Training and Business Consulting.  Christal has work with clients DEA, Kaiser Permanente, BellSouth (now Cellular One), Georgia Motor Vehicle Administration, Northern Virginia Community College and North Carolina A&T.

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How to Build a Small Business Brand

Branding is a very important part of every business. When you think of brands, there are likely a few that come to mind first such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Starbucks, Macy’s. Anyone can sell anything, but you really stand out in the market when you have a brand. It’s key to the growth and success of your business. Many small businesses choose the easy path when it comes to branding themselves. They pick a name and get someone to create a logo, or worse, do it themselves. Then they get some stationery and business cards. The visual representation of your brand and your brand colors are important, but you need to spend some time thinking about what you want to people to think about your business. You only get one first impression with customers, so you need to consider what it’s like to call your office, or when some sends an email through your contact form, does an actual human call them back? How quickly? How long does a prospect wait to get a proposal from your company? These are all things that leave a brand impression. Here are some tips that will help you to develop a unique small business brand.

What is your business focus?

How do you want to position your business in the marketplace? When you think about your brand presence, you should consider your industry, your personality, and your target customer. Chances are a stock photo chosen at random by the sales-person at a print-shop, will not quite capture the brand impression that you are trying to create. so hire a professional graphic designer to help you. Yes, it will cost you, but if you want to only do this one time, so spend the money to look just like the big boys. If you have keen negotiation skills, you can often find a talented designer who can put together a very reasonable package for you. There are also plenty of websites where you can find designers and view their portfolios such as Fiverr, 99Designs.com, guru.com, and upwork.com. Here are some questions to answer that will help your designer get a feel for your business.

  • What is the mission of your business?
  • What differentiates your brand from your competition?
  • What is your company’s unique selling proposition?
  • What do you want people to think of when they think of your business?
  • How would you describe the branding of your closest competitors?
  • What can you improve upon when looking at your competitors?

Be mindful of color stories as you pick brand colors.

Different colors will cause varying physiological reactions.  Here’s a quick overview of the types of feelings and emotions that can be triggered by the presence of popular colors.

  • Black: Represents authority, power, and dominance.
  • Red: Think Passion. Emotionally intense, it can stimulate the heart to beat more quickly,
  • Blue: It’s a calming color, peace, tranquility.
  • Green: It represents nature; it’s the easiest color on the eyes, refreshing.
  • Yellow: Yellow catches attention, but it can be overwhelming.
  • Brown: It can represent genuineness which can be good for business, but it can also come off as mundane, sad and wistful.

If you think back to the companies we mentioned earlier, think of the red one and the green one. There are likely two that come to mind immediately. How does each brand make you feel? When choosing a color to represent your brand, be mindful of the psychology behind that color choice.

Be consistent with your branding

If your business is taking advantage of social media marketing, then it’s important to have consistent branding across all social platforms. For example, if you build a personal brand use the same headshot everywhere. You also want your profile to tell people how to hire you. It’s great that you are swim dad or an Eagles fan. (Yes, I’m from Philadelphia), but it will greatly help your business to promote what you do. Keep in mind my 4:1 Ratio of sharing other people’s helpful content before you promote your own. You’ll also want to tailor your content to fit the culture of each platform and how your potential customers use it. Don’t just post the exact same thing across every social network, that’s a great way to damage your brand.

Don’t be afraid hire someone to help you. When choosing a designer, use a contact that says it’s work for hire, make sure you can get at least 5-7 options, and then refine one down to become your logo. When you get your artwork, ask for the jpeg, pdf and high resolution png files. And get the exact color and fonts on a one-page style guide from them, so you’re not stuck, in case you ever need to move on from that designer. Remember, if you hire a designer, you’ve got to trust them to create something brilliant, but it’s your brand, and you need to make sure convey the impression that you want people to have.

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Who’s on #Smallbizchat February 2018

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#Smallbizchat is a weekly conversation where small business owners can get answers to their questions. The focus of #Smallbizchat is to end small business failure by helping participants succeed as your own boss.

Please join us live on Twitter every Wednesday 8-9 pm ET. Here’s how: follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter and follow the hashtag #Smallbizchat and click here for directions to join the weekly conversation.

In February, we’ll be talking about growing your business, financing, taxes, and going from idea to empire. 

Here is a list of who is on #Smallbizchat in February.

February 7th – How To #GETSTRONG and Grow Your Business, @stephen_pierce

Stephen Pierce is the host of the Success Sculpting Show, where he brings the right information now to sculpt a more meaningful and memorable life of success.  Find out more at www.SuccessSculpting.com.

February 14th – 10 Secrets to Winning Small Business Financing, @zachmercurio

Zach Mercurio is an international speaker, trainer, and purpose and meaningful work consultant. He is the founder and author of PurposeSpeaks.com, the popular blog on purposeful leadership, work, and life.  Learn more at www.zachmercurio.com.

February 21st – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and How it Affects Your Business in 2018, @taxmama

Eva Rosenberg, EA, CTC, founder of TaxMama.com, is an award-winning tax author, blogger, columnist and instructor. TaxMama® has been helping taxpayers cut taxes and fix tax problems for decades. Learn more at www.TaxMama.com.

February 28th – How to Take Your Startup from Idea to Empire, @colleendebaise

Colleen DeBaise is a contributing editor at Inc. and author of Start a Successful Business. An entrepreneur herself, she is founder of the Hampton Bee and podcast host of The Story Exchange. For more info, visit www.colleendebaise.com.

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