Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. In fact, its one of the most difficult things you can ever do. The effort, financing and sheer bravado required to start a business is overwhelming, especially if you were to put a pen to paper and write all the steps down in advance.
According to the SBA [US Small Business Administration] a government agency and the Census Bureau – our economic world revolves around small business. Here are some of the most recent statistics available about small business start-up that will have you scratching your head either in awe or fear. (more…)
How to Start A Blog – Tips 1 through 5 here –>>
6. Re-purpose: This one runs two ways. If you don’t like to write, speak into your smartphone and have your post transcribed by a person or technology like Dragon Naturally Speaking. If you use video in your marketing, YouTube does a marginal job of transcribing every video loaded. Get that transcription and use it to round out a blog post. Podcasters – transcribe those podcasts and use them for blog posts. I said this runs both ways, because if you do like to write, the blog posts you’ve written can be turned into audio, podcast or video. Don’t reinvent the wheel; repurpose your content. (more…)
Blogging is a key strategy for marketing; even at the local business level so here are some friendly tips on how to start a blog that will help small businesses get seen and not take more time than you can dedicate to the task.
A blog is your creation, emphasis on the YOU. Only around 1% of bloggers actually make a living at it. That’s not the point of blogging for local businesses. As a marketing tool, local business owners should start a blog to feed the Google content monster so your website remains fresh. You also get the chance to showcase your business, expertise and leadership in your industry. Not to mention all the nifty SEO benefits but perhaps that’s another blog post.
Here are my 10 tips to get you blogging in 2014 that are sure to help grow your business.
Planning is an opportunity. It’s a chance to review how the current plan is working (provided you have a current plan). And it’s the time to reexamine current goals moving forward.
Where your marketing strategy is concerned – planning is EVERYTHING. Sure it’s fun to come up with new ideas and easy to get excited about the latest this or that. And while those are the moments a creative mind adores, they are merely the tip of iceberg in terms of planning your marketing strategy. (more…)
Let’s talk about influence marketing. Influence is the ability to convince other’s or have an effect on their decisions. In marketing, we want to be able to influence the customer’s buying decision, ultimately, right? We want to have an effect on their decision to do business with us.
Hopefully you’ve heard of the very famous book by Robert Cialdini, a psychology professor, that was written in 1984 called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It’s probably the best book every written on the subject and in that book, Cialdini outlines six principles of influence. (more…)
A Sales Strategy for Relationship Builders
While there are many, many, many of you who have chosen to be business owners, I would venture to guess that fewer of you have had formal sales training or had to develop a sales strategy. When you decided to become a business owner, you didn’t necessarily make that decision with all the facts in place. You did it out of passion for your work, which is great and I think more important really. Who doesn’t want to feel passionate about what they get to do at their job everyday, it makes life so much more enjoyable.
But once you open the doors to your business, you are suddenly responsible for everything which includes bringing in new business and that makes you the chief of sales strategy. I never worked for the type of company that had sales training so learning how to bring in business so that I would get the opportunity to do what I love was something I had to learn quickly. (more…)
Brand narrative has been changing thanks to digital marketing and social media. No surprise there right?
The basics of a brand narrative I believe boil down to concepts like those in the following quotes.
From Douglas Rushkoff, an author on media theory who said,
“We use stories to understand our world, orient ourselves, motivate our employees, communicate our brand values and even tout our stock valuation.”
The Sponsorship Dilema
There are three levels of sponsorship, or three tiers. Tier 1 is local like a chamber of commerce, networking, philanthropy event, but local. It’s right in your own backyard. Tier 2 is national like Be The Change Event I sponsored in Orlando. It’s a broader exposure. And finally, is Tier 3 which is International and can be much more corporate. They can also be big, really big events. Which makes sense, their International.
Let’s assume that sponsoring is new to you or that you’ve worked your way to a certain level, you’re already at Tier 1 or maybe even Tier 2. (more…)
Though it’s social media, Google Plus for business is actually Google’s 4th attempt at a social media platform, and boy did they get it right this time, for so many reasons. Many of which have to do with The Google’s other services like being the number one search engine for example. They’ve also created other programs both before Google Plus and after Google Plus that have been rolled into and connected to this platform. All of which basically would have made it indispensible anyway. But people are really learning how to use Google Plus for business marketing and they are enjoying it as a social media site in it’s own right.
Online Marketing Strategy – There’s Only One You Need To Know
The only online marketing strategy that EVERY small business should be using IMMEDIATELY is blogging. Never has a small business marketing strategy been this powerful or this easy to do.
Thank you Google!
Imagine if there was a tool that let people in your target market find you instantly when they did a Google search.
If your business website could show up on page one of Google search results before more popular sites in your market, in your local area, without paying for it, what would that be worth to you?
Because that’s what blogging will do for your business. It can place you ahead of the crowd in your local business market
And yes we have Google to thank for it.
Want to know how to start a book that you’ll actually finish?
I’m speaking to the writer inside you; that person who wants to know how to start a book that you have a prayer of actually finishing. Yeah, you thought I didn’t know, right? Didn’t know that secretly, deep down, you’ve always wanted to write a book, see your name on a book shelf at the library or Barnes and Noble.
But I knew, I knew ALL along that you secretly held that little spark inside that wants to be heard. And I also know that you’ve tried, maybe more than once, to write a book but the task is BIG and you don’t know where to begin.
Email Marketing is Dead!
And other untruths about small business marketing that may be keeping your local small business from prosperity. It’s true, email marketing is easy and cheap. But that doesn’t mean that you should be shoving it at the In Box of every email address you can get your hands on.
Because that my friends is SPAMMING which is icky and frowned upon by most civilized people.
Visual Learners Rejoice!
Or maybe we should say visual learners have a choice. Either way, I have long been intrigued by the concept that there are different types of learners. I’m not sure that teachers knew, or necessarily cared, about that when I was in school a million years ago. It was more of a one size fits all approach to learning then.
But having seen all of my own children navigate through grammar school at this point, it’s obvious that the studies are telling us something. The implications of the fact that there are multiple types of intelligence and various styles of learning need to be taken into account when we communicate.
Imagine the impact this could have on your business marketing. If I told you that it was a fact, approximately 65% of the population are visual learners, what would that mean to you?
Blog Posts and Google Authorship
This month I’ve been hitting the concept of Google Plus hard; blog posts and Google Authorship are part of that closely woven strategy that will get your local business noticed online.
Well here’s the skinny on blog posts, Google search, G+ and Google Authorship and why Google Plus is a game changer this year for your business.
Around September 2012, Google instituted a program called Google Authorship. Now remember the purpose of Google. Google is a search engine. Their imperative is to deliver the MOST relevant search results possible to every user on earth. That is a HUGE undertaking. Google Authorship is another cog in the machine of that process of delivering search results.
Real Entrepreneurs Practice Brainstorming
It’s my belief, and I have no measured empirical evidence to support this, that real successful entrepreneurs practice brainstorming on a regular basis.
Brainstorming helps me be more creative. Because let’s face it, entrepreneurs live in their own heads way too much. Especially entrepreneurs that are self employed. And when you don’t have another creative mind to bounce ideas off of, your own creative juices can get very stale.
So I want to share with you the top 3 ways that I practice brainstorming that helps me leap forward in my business and could do the same for yours.
Last Friday I watched not just one but TWO Google hangouts; a hangout is part of the Google Plus system. Google Plus or G+ as you may see it called is the fourth attempt by Google to create a viable social media platform. And this time, I believe they’ve done it. In fact, Google has done several things over the past year that CONTINUES to make them a force to be reckoned with online and not just as a search engine either.
You may not be aware that Google has always been more than just a search engine. They have forever made available various tools, some very powerful tools that help web developers, marketers and general business owners get more out of the Internet. And these tools have always been free to use. So many, if not ALL of those most recent things were created to revolve around Google Plus.
How To Increase Productivity at Work
What would you say if I told you that to increase productivity at work you should take a vacation?
Terrific, I guess that’s the end of this post.
But just in case you need some more convincing let me make the case for increased productivity, according to the experts. Don’t just take my word for it.
A 2010 study by Grawitch and Barber published in Consulting Psychology Journal relates that taking time off, like a vacation, will reduce employee stress. It’s not the first and probably won’t be the last study to come to the same conclusion.
The importance of the study and what made it different from those before it was in recognizing that when we leave it all behind, our brain gets the chance to renew. And when I say leave it all behind, I mean don’t take ANY work with you on vacay.
It’s important to let your mind completely disengage from work related issues. It seems that being able to disengage entirely lets us rediscover the attributes we brought to the job in the first place. The daily anxiety and stress that builds up goes away and we renew our mental assets which includes creativity and that will increase productivity.
This creativity quotient is REALLY important. It doesn’t matter what your job entails, when you bring more creativity to that job, your problem solving abilities increase as do your innovation and insight, all important traits that boost productivity.
Increase Productivity Through Increased Creativity
Additional studies are finding that time spent on the Internet everyday are another way we actually disengage and renew as well. While most employers are worried about decreased employee productivity from surfing the net, studies are proving that we actually waste more energy forcing ourselves not to take the break. In fact The National University of Singapore discovered that employees that spent less than 20% of their time surfing the net were 9% more productive than employees that didn’t. That’s pretty astounding and interesting in terms of the 80-20 rule.
Seems counter-intuitive but its true. Giving your brain the chance to have fun time boosts productivity when you do buckle down to work. The trick is to not get sucked in to the Internet and waste time or use it to procrastinate. By using a timer to help you time the length of a break and the frequency of breaks, you can increase productivity and enjoy your work.
So go on vacation and leave all your work behind. Try new things, read for pleasure and let your brain play. When you get back to the office you should notice increased productivity compared to before the vacation. The more you increase productivity the better your flow and the more success you should achieve at work.
Take my advice and don’t feel guilty about being away and disconnecting, and don’t skip the vacation time. Take a vacation and increase productivity.
Sponsorships: To Show or Not To Show – that is the question.
Sponsorships are a great way to grow your business but you have to be ready. And you have to analyze the opportunity in the right light to determine if any given sponsorship is worth your business marketing dollars. Every piece of marketing that you do should have a strategic purpose and plan to maximize return on that investment. Sponsorships are no exception.
Here are 7 business marketing tips to help you get the most out of your sponsorships.
- Local Sponsorships – According to Jeff Slutsky, author of No B.S. Grassroots Marketing: The Ultimate No Holds Barred Take No Prisoners Guide To Growing Sales And Profits of Local Small Businesses [Man that title is incredibly long but a great book], “Most sponsorship money is a total waste.” Here is why Jeff makes that statement. At the local level, many sponsorships are done for some worthy local cause like Little League or a Walk-a-thon. These opportunities may more appropriately belong in your charity budget, not your marketing budget. Unless this type of opportunity directly targets your ideal market, it’s not worth it.
- Promotional Products – These are the “junkareel” as my father-in-law calls them, that you get bombarded with everywhere. They should always be (though sometimes aren’t which is a mistake) imprinted with the business or brand name that is giving them away. These items truly are junk unless they are tied to sponsorships in some way that makes the recipient remember your business. Don’t give me a flashlight if you sell flowers. Give me a packet of sunflower seeds, watering can (suitably imprinted with your company name) and directions on how to plant and grow them this summer. Then run a contest in August on your social media where customers post photos of their sunflowers and pick a winner for some prize. Be creative – get it? Make them remember you and push them back online to interact.
- Business Trade Shows – These range from small events at the local mall or grocery store to county or regional events up to the larger national and annual events. Price tags rise with the size. The first thing you have to consider is the target market. Will your ideal customers be attending? At the local level, if your customers will be at the show, you may want to consider participating even if your business doesn’t fit the show. It’s okay for the flower shop to have a table at the Chocolate Expo if their ideal market will be there. It’s about exposure to the market.
- National Trade Shows – This can get expensive, especially if they are in big convention centers where you have the extra costs of union workers and their rules. You may need an electrician to bring power to your booth, movers to take your stuff from the loading dock to the booth location and more. Don’t forget the booth itself. The bigger the show, the more important your booth’s look and feel in order to stand out. Do a detailed budget and make sure to research all the extra costs associated with the location and don’t forget staffing costs. It might be an opportunity that could launch your business to the next level, but you must budget and plan.
- Speaking Engagements – Speaking at an event is a great opportunity to get in front of your target market and other thought leaders. At the small shows, you can volunteer and probably speak for free. The larger national shows may offer the opportunity to speak for a fee. This is an expense that is worth it if you have planned carefully how to leverage the interest your business will receive as a result.
- Breakout Sessions– If speaking isn’t your thing, you may want to consider sponsoring someone else to speak. But you must make sure that the speaker is interesting enough to hold the audience’s attention and offers relevant information that your target market will appreciate. This is an opportunity to be helpful and relevant to your clients, not to put them to sleep.
- Follow Up – Here is where the whole idea of sponsorships breaks down. It’s in the follow up. You have spent all the time and money making sure your promotional products are right, your ideal market will be out in force, you or your surrogate speaker are engaging and relevant, everyone remembers you and your business and life couldn’t be better. Right? Not if you aren’t ready to follow up afterwards. The entire follow up system has to be reasoned out and in place before you ever agree to a sponsorship opportunity. Follow up is where the magic truly happens and where you get your return on investment.
My local business is making the leap to national sponsorships in April 2013 and we are excited about it.
ikalynn.com will have a booth at the annual Be The Change event in Orlando which brings around 1000 of my ideal clients, entrepreneurs and business owners over the age of 40, together to learn about starting or growing a business. These are my people and I’m excited by the possibilities of sponsorships in my business.
QR Codes are Worthless
We had such high hopes for QR codes when they first came on the scene. You know, those black and white two dimensional squares embedded with information that nobody seems to know what to do with?
Personally, I like the way they look from a design standpoint and use one on my business cards. It always elicits a response like, “Oh, it’s one of those things.”
Yeah, that’s right. It’s one of those things. And that’s the problem with quick response, or QR codes. The average consumer is still not sure what to do with it.
From Black Friday to Cyber Monday – The Sales are On!
I’m sure you’ve all heard of black Friday and cyber Monday. Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving as we call it here in the United States. According to Wikipedia, the term was coined in Philadelphia. So many US companies would give their employees the Friday after Thanksgiving off, that it caused a massive and usually disruptive surge in vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the city of brotherly love. The term Black Friday was used publicly in 1961 in Philly, and was not a term of endearment used by the police force there, because of the inevitable disruptions that happened. But eventually, the term began to see a broader use around the country circa 1975, along the lines of shopping and shopping sprees that would occur because so many people didn’t have to go to work that day. Now, I had always heard that the name happened because it’s the day that US retailers head back into “the black” or into profit on the balance sheet. Some retailers generate all of their profit for the year during the Christmas shopping season, which officially begins on Black Friday. But no matter how the name came about, it stuck. So if you have successfully survived Black Friday intact, I commend you.