A Fresh Perspective on Marketing
You need my 10 Tips to Grow Your List.
In this PDF download, you will:
+ Learn 10 ways you can start growing
your list TODAY that are simple,
effective & FREE!
+ Plus get more bright ideas delivered
to your inbox each week with my
Marketing Monday ezine.
Last week I met with a new client and in 20 minutes we had picked out her website theme, created her sitemap, discussed colors, and picked a name for her new business. My hand was cramping from writing so fast! Typically the types of decisions she made in 20 minutes take most biz owners weeks or months to make. Honestly, it was the most refreshing meeting I’d had in a long time and a wonderful reminder that decisive small biz owners do exist.
My mentor Suzanne Evans is always telling us that it starts with a decision. More importantly it always hits home when she has says, “indecision is a form of self abuse.”
But it’s true. Seriously, think about how much time you waste in the land of indecision. It’s not a fun place. No music, frozen drinks or dancing here. It is more like a deep dark hole with twisting paths and no end in sight. It’s not somewhere you want to hangout!
I’ve used “I need to get clear” as an excuse before. Full confession…I’ve wasted months trying to get clear. When in reality if I’d just made a decision and taken action that process would have brought me way closer to the clarity I was seeking than trying to think it through ever did.
I’ve found ultimate clarity comes through a mix of deep thought, quiet reflection, decision making, massive action, unwavering support and gentle a**-kicking from a mentor, mastermind group, supportive partner or biz buddy.
If you don’t have all the pieces that make up the clarity puzzle go find them. Hire a mentor. Find a group of peers who will keep you moving forward. Cultivate the skills necessary.
Most importantly, make a decision. Any decision and your business will be the better for it.
Your Marketing Monday Assignment:
What decision have you been avoiding in your biz? More than likely you’ve already made up your mind, but have refused to own it or take the action necessary to put it into motion. What can you do this week to make a decision and start taking action?
I’d love to hear what you’re going to do below:
Photo by David-Siqueira
Every week I meet new small business owners and surprisingly I’ve noticed a trend of late that has me thinking we are back in 2009. The trend? Everyone is blaming the economy again.
Has the economy been rocky for the past few years? Sure.
Is it the sole reason your biz isn’t where you what it to be? Nope.
How do I know this is true? During the middle of the recession I grew my marketing firm to a 6-figure business and I know of a number of other business owners who have done the same. Heck, I even know folks who’ve made millions and I hung out with many of them this past week at the Be The Change event.
If you are serious about growing your business instead of playing the victim and blaming the economy then get out from behind your computer and do something. It is that simple.
Perfect your marketing message. Zero in on who your people are. Create products and services people love to buy and recommend.
Stop expecting people to satisfy your champagne tastes on a beer budget. If you think this way your clients will too.
Has how consumers purchase changed? Yes.
Can you do something about it? Sure can.
You won’t win the marketing game if you market based on price. Instead go for AMAZING customer service and experience instead. Provide added value. Go above and beyond. Maybe actually just try doing what you said you would…trust me it is rare.
Stop blaming the economy. It’s not the economy’s fault.
Go create your own economy instead.
I’ve just returned from the most amazing four days at Suzanne Evan’s Be The Change Event in Orlando, Florida. Boy does that woman know how to put on a show! It was one of those events where you were exhausted, exhilarated and inspired at the same time. (I’m the second from the right in the photo — wearing gold sequins on Hell Yeah! Awards Night).
What is even better is that as I boarded my plane home last night, I realized I was COMPLETELY clear on my next steps and my intended trajectory of my business for the next year and beyond (more on that later…).
How did it happen? Simple really, I made a decision.
When the light bulb went off and things started falling into place I quickly took action.
I wrote it ALL down. I committed to my next action steps and event shared them with a friend also at the event so she would kick my butt if I didn’t do what I intended. I was so psyched to get home and begin my Marketing Monday!
Clarity and focus is one of the biggest things I help my clients with. I can do it because I offer a fresh perspective to their current view of their biz from the weeds. Honestly, this is harder to do for myself because, just like you, I am in the weeds in my own business.
So having complete down to my bones clarity, knowing it was in alignment and everything finally makes sense was an incredible feeling to revel in as I soared through the clouds (in the plane and my head!). I felt so good, was so pumped I probably could have run home from Orlando!
And I wish I could stop this little story here feeling all pumped and ready to go. But this is not the end.
What happened next is reality roared its ugly head.
Due to weather both my planes home were delayed. No biggie. I read a great book (Matthew Goldfarb’s Renegade Thoughts). Wrote a bunch in my notebook, met a great woman who had a ton of great book recommendations for me and just enjoyed living on top of the world. When husband picked me up at the airport it was an hour later than I was supposed to arrive. Still I was ok. I talked nonstop on our 20-minute ride home telling him about the event.
And then we arrived home. I walked in the front door and the real world came crashing in. My house was a MESS. I’m not just talking a few things out of place and no one vacuumed while I was gone. I’m talking I only have half a kitchen, no counter, my sink is in my living room, tools are all over the floor and dust is everywhere mess. It’s 10pm and my first thought is how the f*ck am I supposed to eat breakfast in the morning. And through the mess my yellow lab, Jasper, comes running so excited to see his momma and demanding my full attention.
Clarity out the window. Overwhelm in its place.
Holy shit we have company coming over tomorrow night. I teach a class on Tuesday. I have meetings this week. I don’t have time for this.
My husband stood behind me and said, “You know how you want to do one thing and you actually need to do 15 things to accomplish that one thing. Well…it took a lot longer than I intended. I really wanted you to walk in and it to be all done.“
I must have looked like a deer in the headlights. “I don’t know what to do about this,” I said surveying the room.
“You don’t do anything,” he said. “This isn’t your mess.”
What a relief. Think about how often we take on messes that aren’t our own.
He carried my 50-pound suitcase upstairs and left me alone. I fell into bed barely remembering to brush my teeth.
This morning I woke up exhausted and dreading going downstairs. I don’t normally drink coffee, but I knew that to function today I needed some.
Magic construction fairies must have been up all night because I wasn’t sure I was in the right place when I finally made it downstairs. The mess was gone. My kitchen was returned to working order and our beautiful new hardwood floor was all in place.
My day could still go on as planned. Reality didn’t have to get in the way of me taking steps towards what I want.
My clarity bubble probably lasted only 6 hours at the most, but it was an amazing ride. Thank goodness I wrote everything down so I can take myself back to that period of inspiration whenever I lose focus.
Here’s the bottom line — Make a decision. Take action. And don’t take on other people’s messes.
In honor of Earth Day today, I’m dedicating this Marketing Monday to ways you can be more green in your biz.
Large companies with true green marketing initiatives seek to go above and beyond traditional marketing by promoting environmental core values in the hope that consumers will associate these values with their company or brand. By engaging in these activities, they can build a sustainable rapport, help save the environment or even create a product line to cater to a new target market.
Small business owners and non-profit organizations too can follow suit and go beyond just recycling used office paper. Here’s how:
“Going Green” is not a trend or a fad, but a way of life (and the future) for our society.
Most green initiatives begin with social responsibility. By promoting programs that educate your employees and customers about protecting the environment, you end up giving the economy a boost and gaining respect and support for being environmentally conscious.
Whether you choose to do an online, television or radio marketing campaign, a great deal of paper can be saved. With online marketing, you even reduce the amount of automotive exhausts being emitted during the production of your campaigns. No one has to leave the comfort of their own home!
Even mobile application developers are finding unlimited opportunities to promote their business. From calculating carbon footprints to providing sustainability information about a product or donating money to the user’s cause of choice every time they make a purchase.
Another green marketing technique is for a business to provide green incentives to its customers.
Whether donating a portion of your sales to a charitable organization or advertising the positive impact your company has on the environment, you can be sure your customers will feel good about purchasing your goods and services while doing their part in protecting the earth.
Buy/Support Local Businesses
Your local economy is important and relies on people like you to support it. Look for ways you can source local products for your biz. I love when stores highlight local products on their shelves.
Want an example of what works? The Eat Local movement has done this really well.
In what ways has your business gone green?
Share your thoughts below:
Is your office a mess? Mine sure has been recently. Don’t believe me. Check out this photo of my desk. Yikes!
I only moved into this “new” home office in late February after moving into our new house. It is a beautiful and sunny loft space that I fell in love with when we first looked at the place.
But getting my office into working order has been a challenge at best these past two months since the move. I’ve been blessed to have been busy with fun and exciting projects like the new Start & Grow My Biz program I’m co-facilitating here for newbie women business owners in New Hampshire and prepping for the next round of Napkin Note Biz Plan workshops.
Finally, I was able to carve out times yesterday to work on organizing my office. Lots of progress made, but there is A LOT more work still to be done. It’s important because I know I do better work when I can find the bottom of my desk.
And since it is spring, it is a great time for all of us to do some major spring cleaning around the office. To make it happen even during the very busy week ahead, I’m allotting 60 minutes per day to organization projects. Since I’m a morning person, I’m saving my organizing time until the end of my day after I’ve accomplished my most important projects.
What can you do this week to bring your office in order?
While I was working around my office I was reminded of a series of office organization tips I shared on my blog a few years back. All great tips and hopefully something here will spark an idea on how to tackle your own office chaos.
The first is a great article by Lynn C. Maichle, PMP from Sustainable Organizing all about organization strategies for small business offices.
In the article Lynn outlines three steps to taming your mess.
The biggest challenge in having a small business is often NOT the work of the business itself. Sometimes it’s managing that business effectively, whether in a corner of your family room, a dedicated home office, or an office in a business complex. One of the statements I hear most often is: “My office is a mess — I can’t get anything done!” But the underlying causes are seldom easy to identify without a closer look.
STEP 1: WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING FOR MY BUSINESS?
FIRST, sit down and create a list of your key business objectives over the next 1-2 years. If you have a Business Plan, review it and see if those objectives are still valid or need to be updated. This may seem like going too far back, but it does help you focus on priorities when you are outlining WHAT you’re doing and WHY.
And if that wasn’t enough, here are more tips to help get you started:
12 Small Biz Owners Share Office Organization Tips
10 More Techniques to Organize Your Office
Inspired to get started organizing? Share what you’re up to with me on Facebook. I’ll be posting throughout the week as I complete my organization challenge.
What do you wish you had already started?
Remember January? Remember that fresh start and how invigorated you were feeling about your New Year’s resolutions and goals?
“Resolutions! What resolutions?” you say.
We need to get real for a moment.
Have you taken any action towards the goals you set for your biz back in January?
If you have, I’m sending a virtual high-five your way.
If not, don’t fret. You’re like 95% of small biz owners. Well intended, but lacking follow through.
I get it. It is easy to get distracted when you are juggling running a business and having a life. So what do you do? Give up and say “Better luck next year.” Or keep pushing through?
In fact, let me pull back the curtain a little so you see I really do understand. We bought a house and moved in February. I had about two weeks in my new office before I came down with the flu. I’ve had the flu since mid-March. It has sucked. I’m so behind it isn’t funny. My goals are fuzzy in my brain.
Yet here I am bright and early on a Monday morning writing to you with a box of tissues at my side. Because it is important to keep moving forward. Because you are important.
Don‘t give up! Even when life gets in the way. Push through, do what you can and reinvigorate. With the 2nd quarter here it is the perfect time to dust off your goals and jump start your business.
To help you do that I want to invite you to a special teleclass I’m teaching this Thursday, April 11. It’s called KickStart Your Quarter. On the call I’ll share with you what you need to do RIGHT NOW to find more clients, grow your biz and get noticed.
I hope you’ll join me on Thursday by registering here http://www.kickstartyourquarter.com/
PS – A huge shout out to one of my clients who took last week’s Marketing Monday message about using humor to heart. They scored a 3-minute segment on their local TV station that resulted in exposure, phone calls and new orders of product! If you’re ready for a laugh, check out http://www.wcax.com/video?clipId=8730211&clipFormat&topVideoCatNo=63459
It’s April Fools…my least favorite “holiday.” I grew up with a family of pranksters and April 1 was like an all access pass to silly jokes, tricks and pranks.
That said, any time you can use humor to capture your people’s aattention I say go for it. It’s effective and memorable.
Think of the Mayhem is from Everywhere campaign from Allstate or the It’s Not Complicated campaign from AT&T. Both are witty, memorable and effective.
But using humor in marketing can either be risky or catapult your company into success. In today’s Marketing Monday post, I hope to guide your business in the right direction by helping you determine if including humor in your marketing campaign is right for you and your business.
I still remember opening up the Boston Globe on April 1 when I was in college and seeing a full-page ad promoting the “new left-handed Whopper. This memorable campaign introduced the “new” burger by explaining the 180-degree rotation of condiments without revealing the exact method of rotation, but then urged all left-handed consumers to visit their nearest Burger King and taste the difference for themselves. As a south-paw myself I loved it.
So why should you use humor to hit the funny bone of your customer?
Humor cheers people up
It’s rare to find someone who doesn’t like to laugh. At the same time, when using humor, don’t use toilet funnies, unless you’re a plumber. Consider your own audience, and how you might laugh with them.
Humor shows intelligence
A company with personality not only shows that its employees know what they’re doing, it shows others that you’re capable of using the right side of your brain to get your creative juices flowing. Customers want to see more than just your typical marketing. They want to laugh!
Humor builds customer loyalty
When customers view a company’s ads, they are seeking a company, product, or service they can relate to. Use of good humor in your marketing strategies can help develop a long-term relationship with your customers so they keep coming back for more.
If you decide that humor is the right way to go with your marketing campaign, be sure to keep in mind that your strategy needs to be unique, memorable and define what you have to offer. By remembering these three key points, you will develop a successful campaign that is sure to tickle the funny bone of your customer!
What do you think? Will you or do you use humor in your marking?
Share your thoughts below.
As a small business owner, it can seem like your business moves at the speed of light. One blink and it is already the end of the first quarter. Another and it will be the end of the summer before we know it (trust me I’m not trying to rush things!). Staying on top of all the moving pieces that are part of your business takes time – something we small biz owners don’t often have.
One of the best decisions I made for my business was scheduling a quarterly review. Once I started to do this less items fell off the list (or between the cracks or wherever they go!). I felt like I was on top of things and it gave me time to adjust my marketing plan based on feedback (sales) from my clients and marketplace. The first year, I started holding regular quarterly reviews my business blossomed to six-figures.
A quarterly review forces you to stay on track with your goals. Go book a few hours in your calendar at the close of each quarter NOW. Treat this time as if it were a client appointments and your business will be growing in no time.
Curious how to spend your time, here are some essentials for running an effective quarterly review:
Start With The Books
You’d be surprised by the number of business owners who wait until the very last second (ie end of year) to start pulling their financial life together. It’s important to make sure all business expenses have been entered into your accounting system as well as final invoices sent out and it is much easier to do this on a quarterly basis than trying to remember what happened six or eight months ago. Check to be sure all details surrounding payroll are in order and your tax papers are organized heading into the following year. If doing your own books takes too much time away from your business, you might consider hiring a bookkeeper. Their expertise will save you valuable time and money!
Review Your Finances
While you’re already cleaning up the books; examine your balance sheet and income and cash flow statements to get an idea of the overall health of your business. Create a list of the top financial questions you would like answered about your business each quarter and go find the answers. All of this will help you keep in checking your progress towards your goals and planning for the rest of the year.
Don’t let the quarter end without showing your appreciation to your best clients and customers. Mail or personally deliver thank you cards or gifts to those that have helped your business in some way this quarter. It doesn’t have to be a lavish gift basket or expensive wine, just something you know they’ll appreciate and remember getting from you as a way to say “thanks.” And don’t forget your most important resource: your team – make sure the members of your team know that everything they have done throughout the quarter for the company did not go unnoticed.
Assess Your Current Needs
Check to see if your office equipment, supplies and services are still meeting your needs. Have you outgrown your copier or Internet service? Do you need to upgrade your software to a newer version? Do you have some equipment that seems to be costing more to maintain and fix than it would be to just buy a new one?
Update, Update, Update
Be sure you have current addresses, phone numbers and emergency contact information from every one of your clients and team members. Is your phone, fax, email and address information correct on everything from your letterhead and directory ads to your website? If not, you’re making it awfully difficult for customers to find you. Test all the links on your website, and make sure any contact or SOS emails are being delivered (and to the right people).
Tweak & Profit
I see marketing as an ongoing harvest. It’s not something that you start and stop, instead it is something you do every day. Review how your top clients found you. Does it fit in your current marketing strategy or is it a fluke? Make adjustments or tweaks to what you’re already doing to refine your marketing time and dollars so you get the best bang for your buck.
Plan Ahead for the Rest of the Year
It’s hard to get where you want to go if you don’t know how you’re going to get there. Analyze your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and then review your goals and the progress you have made towards them. Establish your goals and priorities for the next quarter and create an action plan to move forward.
These are just some of the essential elements of an effective quarterly review. I teach these and more in my Napkin Note Biz Plan workshops. The next workshop date will be announced soon. Get on the early notification list by visiting my website. By following these tips, you can be sure your business will flourish into the business it was meant to be!
Sample promo items from a event I helped a client plan
While promotional products provide a high ROI for your marketing dollars, often the hardest part is choosing the right promotional products to hand out to their prospective clients.
Here are some tips to ease that process for your small business:
Don’t forget that the promotional product is for your clients – they will accept it because it’s a freebie but they will use it ONLY if it addresses their needs and suits their taste.
For instance, the recent survey conducted by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) showed that seniors (aged 55+) tend to receive and keep more of the top cost-per-impressions (CPI) promotional products like pens and calendars while younger people (21-34) prefer safety products and promotional food items. Mugs, T-shirts and jackets appear to be favorite freebies for all ages.
It is important to note if your target audience consists of more men or women because although both genders feel important and special when receiving a promotional item, the items they receive and keep are rather different. The ASI survey revealed that women have received more bags, calendars, health and safety items and writing instruments than men. On the other hand, men received more T-shirts, electronics and caps than women.
If your audience is primarily of a certain ethnicity, you’ll be interested to know that the majority of African Americans (58%) don’t feel consumer brands are important when receiving a promotional item while 64% of Hispanics and 58% of Caucasians claimed the contrary. So don’t rely on branding, but on creativity and uniqueness of your promotional products if you hand out gifts mostly to African Americans.
Choosing industry-related promotional items will correlate (directly or indirectly) between the free item and your business & brand. This will help the branding process – certain products and items will trigger a reminder of the brand and your company’s products or services.
Nobody likes to keep useless stuff collecting dust on their shelves. Promotional products should show your appreciation to your clients and of course – keep your brand out there in the open. And this is possible only if your clients actively use your free items. Function wins out every time!
Cheap looking gifts will reflect on your brand and company reputation. Always make sure your promotional gifts are stylish and high-quality. Also keep in mind to whom you are giving the promotional product. If a customer is in your office, it is ok to give him a pen, but if the CEO of a very important partner of yours has paid you a visit – then a set of writing accessories in a neat package will be much more appropriate.
One last piece of advice – to avoid unforeseen problems and not appear empty-handed before your happy loyal clients, order your promotional items weeks or maybe even months in advance. Don’t forget to request a sample of the chosen items so that you can hold it, use it and make sure it is the right promotional product to represent your company.
What will work best for your biz?
If you’ve attended a trade show or special event, chances are you’ve walked away with at least a few promotional items. Look around your office and you are sure to find a few promotional items that you use on a daily basis.
Promotional items aren’t just for big companies with huge budgets. In fact for your small business, promotional items are a cost effective way to gain exposure and goodwill without putting too much stress on your marketing budget.
Consider paid advertising for a moment. You shouldn’t simply count the dollars you spend on paid advertising, but you should track your return on investment (ROI). One way is through the cost-per-impression (CPI) – the average amount of money spent for a campaign compared to the number of times your ad was seen. It is not a coincidence that many marketers talk about marketing efficiency, cost effective promotions, high return on investment, and many other ways how to get a big bang for your buck.
According to the latest survey Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) conducted – promotional product is king! The average yield of promotional products was $0.005 per impression with bags and writing instruments as little as $0.001 per impression. This is nothing in comparison with CPI in traditional media – primetime tv at $.018, magazines at $0.045 and radio at $.058.
Because they do double duty! The same people see them repeatedly, while new people also come into contact with the products. Repeated impressions create brand awareness and build recognition. Think about it: no one looks at a print media twice, but people do write with the same pen over and over again and do have their coffee in the same mug every day.
Let’s have a look at some numbers which ASI discovered in their survey:
Although business owners generally do not question the ROI of promotional products and always have something to handout, many do not realize the impact corporate gifts have and how they really work in favor of their sales.
Reach wider market!
Do not limit yourself with the target market of the magazine you have a print ad in or the radio network on which your spot is rotating every other hour. Let people keep your gifts and show them off to their friends. According to Evan Werner of Write On! – 27% of the people who receive a promotional product from a company are more likely to do business with it afterwards.
Leave a long-lasting impression!
People not only remember the name of the sponsor, but they often keep the promotional product and use it on daily basis which allows it to receive many repeated impressions and gain new ones by simply being exposed in the daily life of the person who got the freebie in the first place.
Make your client feel important!
As discovered during the ASI survey, people are more likely to generate a lead if they have received a gift rather than if they have not. But promotional products also encourage return business. Everyone likes freebies and gifts make people feel special. When these gifts are corporate ones – well, it makes people feel their business is appreciated and important for the company. This makes them happy and we all know that happy clients are returning clients, right?
Bottom line, promotional products do not just build brand awareness and recognition, but also create goodwill and loyalty among your clients.
Obviously, if you are in the automotive niche, it will be better if you hand out key holders or wipe clothes with your logo on them rather than perfumed handkerchiefs or sombreros. It is important to know your audience and to have idea on how people use promo products, what do they do with them after receiving them, how many times they use them, how many items they receive on a monthly basis. Do not choose gifts which suit your taste and needs. Think about your clients and what they want and like.
One thing is for sure – people love useful items. That is why mugs, hats, t-shirts, desk accessories, etc. are on the top of the list with highest ROI of promotional products.
Hi there! I’m Ally Piper — Ideapreneur™ + Marketing Director for nonprofits and small businesses on a mission. I’m all about bringing big picture marketing into focus by helping my clients turn napkin notes into marketing plans and take advantage of high-impact, low-cost marketing methods to get noticed. Read this blog to learn from me and other biz experts and get inspired!
Return to top of page
Copyright © 2013 Ally Piper & Brighteyes Creative LLC · All Rights Reserved.