Jul 062015
 

networkingYou pick a networking event and go to it. The speaker is great and she gives you lots of ideas for things you can do right away. Then comes the time to network.

The usual question when you’re networking is “So …. what do you do?” The eyes of the person you’re talking with glaze over. It’s boring and you know it.

How do you get a conversation started that’s engaging AND leads to another conversation one-on-one over coffee or tea?

Try some of these questions and see which ones work for you. ( I assume that each person has a name tag with their name and that of their business.)

  1. Tell me about yourself. How did you get into this particular business?
  2. Who have you been influenced by in your business?
  3. What do you enjoy most about your business?
  4. What’s the most helpful advice you’ve ever received?
  5. What separates you and your company from the competition?
  6. What advice would you give someone just starting in the widget business?
  7. What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?
  8. What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?
  9. What do you see as the coming trends in the “widget” business?
  10. Describe the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business.
  11. What marketing activities have you tried? Which ones work best for you?
  12. What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business?
The one question that separates “pros” from “amateurs”. 

The following question is key in the process of getting the person you’re speaking with to feel as though he knows you, likes you, and trusts you.  Be sure you ask it sincerely, and only after some initial rapport has been established.

“How can I know if someone I’m talking to is a good prospect for you?”

Makes you think of other questions to ask, doesn’t it?

What questions do you use to engage the other person in a conversation?

Read the next post to get 12 more questions to use to start a conversation.

Jun 072015
 

bill collectionAs a solopreneur you wear many hats including the one as the “dreaded bill collector”. Here is how to make this another sales opportunity.

Have you ever bought “fast food” and thought about why after you’ve placed your order, the clerk asks “would you like fries (or a sundae or a hot apple pie or whatever they’re featuring) with that? Of course you have. Put on your marketing hat and you see that as upselling.

Why not do the same thing when you’re collecting bills? Oh and do it by phone – it’s a lot more personal than email. Here’s what to do.

YOU: Hi. This is YOUR NAME of YOUR COMPANY and I’m calling today to see how my service (DESCRIBE IT) worked for you.

CLIENT REPLIES

YOU: How did you use it?

CLIENT REPLIES

YOU: I’ve switched to another hat now as the “dreaded bill collector”. (SMILE) When can I expect payment for this?

CLIENT REPLIES

YOU: (after a bit of negotiation about the bill and payment.) I’d like to tell you about xyz product or service that I’m offering now. (Then describe it.) Does it fit for you to buy it now?

ETC

You get the idea. A dreaded call for you (few of us like collecting payment) becomes that AND an opportunity for you to tell the client about your latest offering.

It’s one of the 99 Ways to Build Your Business Under $100 that you get when you sign up for my monthly newsletter.

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Image courtesy of jannoon028 at/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 June 7, 2015  Posted by  Marketing Basics No Responses »
Jun 022015
 

marketingWhat do I mean by that? Marketing activities are what you use to get known therefore they are long term, aren’t they? What is long term to you – three months? six months? one year? five years?

Marketing plans and thus activities are directly related to and evolve out of your strategic plan. The strategic plans you write establish your business goals. The marketing activities are “how to get there” or tactics. They’re for a defined period of time, which most commonly is a year, but could be a quarter or even a month. They are your monthly “calendar of marketing activities”.

Therefore there’s an order to the things you need to do.

  1. set goals for your business  (one year)
  2. decide which products and services to do AND that help you meet your goals
  3. choose two kinds of marketing tactics
    • those for your long term goals (one year) and
    • those for your short term projects (products and services)

It also depends on your reason for using a particular marketing tactic and why you are you are using it. Here are two questions you need to ask.

1. Why are you doing it?  Which of your goals does it meet? Is it for a particular product or to build your reputation? The following are two reasons you may be doing it and the particular marketing activity to use.

  • for a campaign to launch a product or service (a page on your website, an ad, a newsletter item, several blog posts, your “30 second infomercial”, social media posts,presentations you’re doing, part of your email signature) 
  • get known locally – nationally – internationally (your entire website, newsletter, blog posts,”follow” or “friend” people on social media in your target market, networking, speaking, training, attending events, part of your email signature, etc)

You can see you can and should use all marketing activities.

2. How quickly do you need results?

It may be for a special and therefore time sensitive so you need results according to that date.

It could be to get known and that’s long term so requires you being “seen” often and everywhere hence my belief in repetition and that includes online. Frequency is important and therefore slow or long term.

In summary

ALL marketing is slow and repeated like a dripping tap. You hear it so often that you do something about it.

You’re in business for “the long haul” so market slowly and repeatedly.

What do YOU do?
 June 2, 2015  Posted by  Marketing Basics No Responses »
Jan 302015
 

networkingSometimes you leave halfway through a network because it wasn’t “good”. Sometimes it’s SO “good” that you’re the last to leave because you’re still chatting.

You need to know what “good” means for you before you go to any network event. How do you know? Here are 11 characteristics you should know about it.

Characteristics of groups where you can network

Target market Before you look at any group to network, know who your target market is. Are the people you’re looking for corporate HR, IT people, “mompreneurs”, small business owners or solopreneurs? Know this first.

Location. Where is it held? Is that too far for you get to? I live in downtown Toronto and don’t drive so a network in Barrie which is a town about 50 miles (85 km) north doesn’t work for me.

If it’s a conference in Los Angeles and you live in Boston, you would have to fly there. Can you afford the flight and hotel costs as well as the time away from your business. Would you get enough leads and build enough relationships to make it worth your while?

Time. Ahh time of day. I’m not a morning person (so being self employed suits me fine) and as soon as I see that it’s a breakfast meeting at 730 a.m. I look to see when else this group meets. Breakfast, lunch or early evening may make a difference to you — it does for me!

Size. Groups vary from 6 to 600. Do you thrive in a big group? Do you look for small intimate groups? Here’s where size does matter.

Cost. What does it cost per meeting and what do you get for it? The average is $25 but for a dinner meeting it could be up to $75 — but you do get dinner.

networkRoom Layout. It depends on the size of the group. The huge ones are standing only with a few chairs around the outside of the room; the medium to large have chairs in a traditional format in rows facing the speaker at the front; small ones could be held around tables or have the chairs set in a circle. Which one works best? It depends on you and what you’re comfortable in.

Do they do an “around the room”? You want maximum exposure for your “elevator pitch” so standing up and giving it to everyone in the room is better. It allows you to decide who you want to speak with and those who want to hear more about your business and perhaps use your services will come up to you.

Speaker. Most groups have a speaker. You may want to hear that person or the topic.

Membership. How many times can you attend before you have to join? Or do you even have to become a member?

network“Fixed or fluid”. These are often called leads groups. BNI and BCX have a fixed number at each chapter and people there have to be from different business types. For example if you’re a web designer and they already have one, you’re not invited. You also are required to give leads every meeting and you may not have used the lead’s services so don’t know much about them.

Type of group. Are they a networking group or an association? If you join an association it will be in your field so if you’re a startup you may want to learn from more experienced people.

Frequency of meetings. Groups usually get together once a month but leads groups meet twice a month. Do you have the time and money?

 

Look at each of these and get answers. Which characteristics are important to you? If you’re a startup you may want to attend every event you can until you find out what works best for you.

Remember that you need to attend each one several times to see if it’s what you want.

If you know other entrepreneurs you can ask them which groups they recommend. And you always have the internet where you can check the group!

I know of a lot of groups so ask me in the comments :-)

Meet me at my network in Toronto!

photo credit: Peter Bromberg via photopin cc
photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg via photopin cc
photo credit: Port of San Diego via photopin cc

 January 30, 2015  Posted by  Marketing Basics, Networking 2 Responses »
Apr 022014
 

art or scienceThe question should be asked as often as possible. I think Seth Godin‘s blog posr (I get them delivered to my inbox regularly) answers this.

He begins by writing “It’s both, and that’s the problem. ….Some marketers are scientists. They test and measure. They do the math….The other marketers are artists. They inspire and challenge and connect..” We need both, don’t we.

Read what he has to say … Is Marketing an Art or Science?

Good. It makes you look at your marketing in a new way? Tell me what YOU think!!

 

photo credit: Capture Of Dreams via photopin cc

 April 2, 2014  Posted by  Marketing Basics, Marketing Mindset Tagged with:  No Responses »
Mar 222014
 

findWhen we had a conference company in San Francisco in the late 90s, we called people (our prospects) to see where they went to learn or find out about an event on a particular subject. We learned from that knowledge where we should advertise and those we called asked us to keep in touch especially since we said that we were doing research for our event. A bonus for us!

Here’s what they told us. They learned (before the internet was so prolific) …

  • in magazines on the topic (both ads and  articles)
  • in newspapers either large or local (ads, articles, event calendars)
  • at conferences
  • at training seminars
  • from colleagues

Today people also go to

  • magazines online
  • newspapers online
  • search engines (like google)
  • social media sites like facebook and linkedin

Where are you? Are you in any of these places? How do people find YOU and what your company does?

 

Image courtesy of Phaitoon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 March 22, 2014  Posted by  Marketing Basics No Responses »
Jun 132013
 

The world has changed – as it always does and we in business must keep up if we want to be successful (no matter how we define success for us). Offline marketing has become online marketing – or has it? Do you need both? I think so.

Technology has REALLY changed. I remember (I’m 63 now in 2013) co-owning an Apple computer dealership in the 1980s and a conference company in the 1990s where we held events for people who used what were then called hand-held computers (PDAs). We were always at the “bleeding edge” of technology (just before the “leading edge” – always in the red and not making money but always the first to know about things).

When we had the computer dealership we had:

  • one of the first fax machines (as big as a small photocopier but with very few others having one and therefore no one to send things to),
  • one of the first cell phones (the battery for this was the size of a car battery and the handset like that of an “older” phone

And when we ran the conference company we were:

  • one of the first to use the internet to market with our “email blasts” which were formerly “fax blasts” (some people had email addresses but most companies didn’t have websites yet)

Times continued to evolve and with this came what was then a revolution (we even produced a print booklet called A Revolution in the Making which in 1984 took 6 weeks to produce even though we had the latest desktop publishing software at that time) that caused all of us to transform ourselves and our thinking.

In fact my nephew who is 23 now and studying at Ryerson University and producing art by paint and on computer, films on his Macintosh and photos with his digital camera and his cell phone is a great testament to this transformation. He is of the generation who grew up with and used all technology. He even had access to my brother’s Macintosh when he was a baby. 

(From left to right: my brother Phil, his son Jake – the one I write about here and my other nephew Josh who’s 30+ now and has been in the computer business since he was 17.)

But I digress :-)

There are at least 6 ways in which online marketing is different from offline marketing and here they are. One just needs a computer, a hookup to the Internet and a browser such as Firefox or Internet Explorer.

  1. Speed – one can do EVERYTHING faster. Once you have set yourself up, input some data you can send it at the “touch of a finger”
  2. Cost – EVERYTHING costs less or is free (do you know of the book   Free: The Future Of A Radical Price )   – audio and video production and even payment processing
  3. Reach – one can make contact (for free) with many contacts both locally and globally
  4. Measurement & Tracking – one can easily get access to key metrics with ad trackers, newsletter openings, website analytics etc.
  5. Easy to do marketing –  one can “do it yourself” (if you’re not a technophobe AND have the time)
  6. “Abundant”  information at your fingertips – with most search engines like google or Ask one can search for and find anything – anywhere in the world. Remember that this info has the caveat of buyer beware as does any info you find online)

How has this blog made you think – you “technophobes” who didn’t grow up with technology?

Here is access to the other post I wrote  13 Ways Offline and Online Marketing Are The Same

Compare the two and tell me what you think. I’m VERY interested in what everyone has to say!

Feb 242013
 

Recently I had a conversation with a friend about sales and marketing. He said they are separate and I said that sales is another part of marketing (like market research is).

I’d like to clarify my beliefs. If you draw a “marketing funnel” then every marketing activity you do to get prospects is at the top or widest part of the funnel.

As you proceed down the funnel it  gets narrower and you keep marketing.

Then you get to the narrow part of the funnel (see in my diagram I’ve drawn a line there). You’re now meeting the prospect face to face .. or these days by phone or skype or online … and when you “close the deal”, they become a client (at the bottom of the funnel).

Then you go back to the funnel and repeat your marketing activities.

I know that you don’t use the same activities to sell as you do to market. I agree that they should be taught as two topics – but I still believe that sales is in the marketing funnel.

 

That’s my opinion. Tell me yours

Feb 062013
 

The world is always changing and we in business must keep up if we want to be successful (no matter how we define success for us).

Technology has REALLY changed. I remember (I’m 62 now in 2013) co-owning one of the first Apple computer dealerships in Toronto in the 1980s and a conference company in the 1990s where we held events for people who used what were then called hand-held computers (PDAs). I’ve always been at the “bleeding edge” of technology (just before the “leading edge” which means always being in the red and not making money but always the first to know about things).

We had/ were:

  • one of the first fax machines (in 1984 as big as a small photocopier but since very few others had one there were few  to send things to)
  • one of the first cell phones (in 1985 the battery for this was the size of a car battery and the handset like that of an “older” phone)
  • one of the first to use the internet to market with our “email blasts” in the conference business in1995 which were “fax blasts” using email addresses (some people had email addresses but most companies didn’t have websites yet)

Times continued to evolve and with this came what was in 1984 a revolution (we even produced a print booklet called A Revolution in the Making which in 1984 took 6 weeks to produce even though we had the latest desktop publishing software at that time) that caused all of us to transform ourselves and our thinking.

  In fact my nephew who is 22 now and studying at Ryerson University and producing art (by paint and on computer, films on his Macintosh and photos with his digital camera) is a great testament to this transformation. He is of the generation who grew up with and used all technology. He even had access to my brother’s Macintosh when he was a baby.  (From left to right: my brother Phil, his son Jake who I wrote about here and my other nephew Josh who’s 30 now and has been using computers since he was 4 and has been in the computer business since he was 17. He’s now 32!)

But I digress :-)

There are at least 6 ways in which online marketing is different from offline marketing.
One just needs a computer, a hookup to the Internet and a browser such as Firefox or Internet Explorer.

  1. Speed  One can do EVERYTHING faster. Once you have set yourself up, just input some data and you can send it at the “touch of a finger”.
  2. Cost  EVERYTHING costs less or is free (do you know of the book   Free: The Future Of A Radical Price )   – audio and video production and even payment processing.
  3. Reach  One can connect (for free) with many contacts both locally and globally.
  4. Measurement & Tracking  One can easily get access to key metrics with ad trackers, newsletter openings, website analytics etc.
  5. Easy to do marketing   One can “do it yourself” (if you’re not a technophobe AND have the time).
  6. “Abundant”  information at your fingertips  With most search engines like google or Ask one can search for and find anything – anywhere in the world. (Remember that this info has the caveat of buyer beware as does any info you find online)

How has this blog post made you think – whether you use technology a lot or you’re a  “technophobe” who didn’t grow up with technology?

Here is access to the other post I wrote  14 Ways Offline and Online Marketing Are The Same

Compare the two and tell me what you think. I’m VERY interested in what everyone has to say!

Feb 012013
 

Mindmapping is a visual way to do a number of different things including planning what you want to accomplish in your business this year or what you have to do in a new website or to take notes.

I was first introduced to it by my friend and colleague Aletta de Wal “way back” in the late 1980s. She now runs  Artist Career Training . She uses it all the time and for everything including note taking on coaching calls with her clients. I’ve used it myself for planning and now that I can only use the computer in order to write, I use the Tony Buzan software.

As Aletta says “… Adapt your recordkeeping to the way that you think, instead of cramping your style. This visual note-taking and brainstorming method is a fun, easy way to get your thoughts out of your head and on paper.” She just interviewed Chris Welsh of Mastery of Learning who she introduced me to 20 years ago and they talked about “ideamapping” and how he uses it. You can find that interview here.

Tony Buzan is known as the originator of mindmapping and as such is world renowned and a respected authority on it.

Wikipedia lists some of the things you can use mindmapping to do.

  • problem solving
  • outline/framework design
  • structure/relationship representations
  • marriage of words and visuals
  • individual expression of creativity
  • condensing material into a concise and memorable format

Susan Gregory is a trainer and as a local Toronto person teaches productivity and thus mindmapping workshops and she adds to this list:

  • memory improvement
  • brainstorming
  • note tasking with clients or in meetings
  • organization of projects
  • writing blogs, articles and even books

Would you like to know how to use a visual method for your planning?  

Buzan suggests the following guidelines for creating mind maps:

  1. Start in the centre with one word and an image of the topic.
  2. Use multiple colors throughout the mind map for visual stimulation and to group things.
  3. Use images and symbols throughout your mind map.
  4. Use one keyword per line.
  5. Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
  6. The lines should be curved.
  7. The central lines are thicker from the centre and thinner as they radiate out.
  8. Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.

If you’re looking for a non-linear approach to planning then mindmapping is for you.

How do YOU use mindmapping? Try it if you don’t yet and share your experience in a comment here. Remember to develop your own personal style.