June 1, 2012
As business owners we rely on a strong network of people and resources to help us – whether that’s helping us just get through the day or accomplishing our short and long term goals for our business.
Sometimes it’s tough to know where to turn for help and guidance. So this week I’m putting together a list of my personal favorite business resources:
9 Business Resources I Can’t Live Without
- Hubspot is an amazing resource for small business marketing articles and reports. I’m on their email list ad every single thing they send me I want to read. They are great at targeting my interests and sending me information that I am most interested in.
- Biznik not only has great articles, but they’re an amazing resource and social networking site geared solely toward small business owners like us. Join for free or upgrade to a premium membership to get more benefits.
- Bizsugar – I’m an online shopper and customer reviews are a critical part of in my online buying process. BizSugar is the Amazon of business articles for me. The community submits articles and the community rates them. So I can choose to read what people like me rate as the best of the best. It keeps me up to date on what’s hot and what people care about in small business from marketing to finance, to management, and technology.
- Facebook – Your target market may not necessarily be the Facebook crowd, but it can still be a great resource. I have actually built and developed relationships with strategic partners, colleagues – and even friends over the years simply by following them and staying in tune with their businesses, passions, and goals. I even use it as a sounding board for blog articles and topics sometimes.
- Chamber of Commerce – Finding a chamber that is right for you is like finding the right BFF. Not all are created equally. Find the one that offers the most value, gets their members involved, supports their community, and has enough opportunities for you to get involved to make it worthwhile. And joining is NOT enough. You need to get involved. Join a committee, volunteer at an event or two, or offer to speak on your area of expertise or hold workshops for members.
- BNI – My networking group of choice. I love BNI for its structure, built-in accountability, and training. BNI is the best group I’ve experienced for making quality connections and getting referral business. But like any other group – SHOP around and be sure to find the right group for you!
- Google – “My name is Carolyn and I’m a Google-aholic”. Seriously, what did we do before Google? It’s like my best friend who knows EVERYTHING – but without the annoying “know-it-all” attitude. Need a business tip? Google it! Need a form letter? Google it! Need info on a prospect? Google it! Really – what would the world be without Google?
- SBA and SBA.gov – Yeah a government program that is actually useful! They offer a ton of FREE information, tools, and resources that you can’t pass up; including training and counseling, online videos, information about loans and grants, and much more!
- Others in my industry – Yes, I keep tabs on what others in my industry are doing and talking about on a regular basis. I learn a lot from them. What are they blogging about? What new programs or services do they offer? What are they charging? This is one of the best research tools there is!
Ok, so those are my top 9 favorite business resources.
What are some of yours? By the way – if you like this post, I would REALLY appreciate your ReTweet! Thank you!!!!
May 11, 2012
What’s more fun than having a party or event to promote your company? Some of you may have tried events before to market your business and they may have not been as well attended as you’d like. How do you pick an event that would be right to promote your company and increase your client base?
1) It’s ok to show a little leg!- Not so much in the literal sense but the event should be a teaser. Show just enough of your offerings to gain interest from those who attend without giving away too much. As with dating, it’s best to leave them intrigued and wanting more.
2) Give ‘em what they want! Not ALL of it- as stated above but it should be engaging enough so that those who want some type of feedback during the event get interaction. Interact with them enough to give them some information about how their business in particular could benefit from what you are offering.
3) Get ’em talkin’!- At the very least if those in attendance aren’t stumbling over themselves to sign up for your offerings (we all wish right?) they should be so impressed as to tell their friends about you! If nothing else let your character shine through and allow them to like you. That is the best way to get them to trust you and refer you to their friends- as well as keep you in mind when they are ready for what you have to offer!
4) To charge or not to charge? That depends! On what, you ask? Well the time, resources, event type- yeah, all of that. So for instance, if it’s a half hour conference call probably not but a three hour training session then yes! You want to charge a fairly low amount on introductory events to encourage attendance but not so low as to lose a lot of money or devalue your offerings- these events are about exposure, NOT losing your shirt!
5) Let’s celebrate! Grand opening events, anniversary celebrations, new location, or milestone celebrations are a great way to have your current fan base and clients invite their contacts to celebrate with you! It says thank you to them for being a client or being supportive in some way and exposes you to their contacts. Another option if you don’t currently have many clients or a fan base is doing a ribbon cutting. Many Chamber of Commerce organizations will even promote it for you if you’re a member and that could add a base audience if you don’t have a bunch of local clients or supporters in the community just yet!
OK, so it’s Friday- Cheers! (clink) To your continued business success! Have a fabulous weekend!
Guest written by Melissa Percivalle of Event Savvy
So what do you think? What are some of your event successes and failures? I’d love to hear your favorite event stories!
By the way, if you liked this post, I’d really appreciate your Retweet!!! Thank you.
March 22, 2012
Remember the HEFTY garbage bags? They taunted the smaller cheaper garbage bags that broke at the first sign of stress as empty bean cans and rotting chicken bones stretched and poked their plastic skins, busting all over the disgusted housewife’s formerly spotless kitchen floor.
‘HEFTY, HEFTY, HEFTY” , the stronger sturdy bags would chant ; taunting the disgraced and broken wimpy bags….
The fact that we still remember that is proof that Hefty did not engage in wimpy marketing! How about you? Are you engaging in wimpy marketing?
We, of all people shouldn’t be doing anything wimpy. Come on –we’re small business owners. Entrepreneurs. Risk takers. We’re the brave of the brave – if we liked “easy” we’d still be rotting away in some cubicle somewhere. But we’re not. We love a good challenge. We thrive on risk. So then WHY in the world do so many of us wimp out when it comes to our marketing??? Why???
Are you wimping out when it comes to your marketing? Here are 7 signs you might be:
- You avoid the hard stuff – This is number one because this is the biggest mistake I see small businesses make. Read my lips – “MARKETING IS NOT EASY” – or rather EFFECTIVE marketing– that kind that will bring you more qualified leads, more sales, and higher profits—consistently, is not easy. It takes W-O-R-K. What does that mean exactly? That means you have to do the hard stuff that most of us hate: study, research, and analyze.
- You follow your competitors – Fear of stepping out of the box and taking risks prevents a lot of businesses from really shining through and creating that WOW factor they need to stand apart from the crowd. Take a look at what your competitors are doing and do the opposite. Are they playing it safe? Go risky. Are they all doing print? Find a less crowded place to reach your target market. (Yes, that will take some research!). AND, your competitors are most likely making all 7 of these wimpy marketing mistakes- so do you really want to do what they do?
- You don’t track and measure- These days with the technology we have you can track and measure almost anything. Use landing pages, coupon codes, secret phrases, and special offers to different segments of your market – ANYTHING to determine how a customer found you! If you aren’t tracking and measuring, you’re guessing and making assumptions – and you know what they say about assuming!!!
- Your philosophy is “more is better”- More ads, more networking groups, more Facebook likes equals more unqualified leads and more good money chasing bad. After all it’s a numbers game right? Wrong! That is so 1960s! Old school sales and marketing is out and technology, surveying, and researching are IN. Stop wasting your time and money chasing all the wrong people. (Sing it: “Looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for love in too many faces…” OK, I’m stuck in retro mode!)
- You’re inconsistent- One ad a year does not a marketing strategy make. Neither does one networking group, one sponsorship, or one flyer. Marketing is a process. You can’t win potential customers overnight you have to court them and woo them. They have to get used to seeing you around – this builds trust…. And SALES! This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot. Figure out your budget, figure out where and how to reach your target market and create a steady and consistent marketing campaign to reach them. Get creative, mix it up.
- You copy huge corporations – If it works for Wal-Mart it’s gotta be a good strategy, right? WRONG!!! Well, sorta. It’s probably a great strategy for multi-zillion dollar Wal-Mart but are you a multi-zillion dollar company? I doubt it. So what Wal-Mart does is probably not going to work for you. Wal-Mart spends billions studying their market, their customers, and their competition and then they decide how, when, and where to advertise. Shouldn’t you do the same? Don’t be a copy cat- you can’t cheat or take short cuts here. Do your own homework and find out what’s right ofr your company and your market!
- You give up too soon – There is no magic pill, no magic ad or networking group or tagline or sale that is going to make you an instant millionaire. This stuff takes consistency, persistence, diligence, and repetition. As long as you’re testing, tracking and measuring, keep at it until you get it right and start seeing a good ROI (Return on Investment). If you’re diligent about this part you will get where you want to go – I promise!
Ok, so… are you wimpy or are you HEFTY? Let us know!
By the way, if you liked this post, I’d really appreciate your Retweet!!! Thank you.