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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How Dieting is Like Marketing/Running Your Business Part 2

Don’t Let Temptations Sabotage You
Last week I posted about the similarities I have noticed between dieting and marketing or running a business. This week's post is a continuation of that and focuses on one of the main saboteurs of any diet (or business)- temptations.

If you are anything like me you probably have a hard time sticking to your diet because you are constantly being bombarded with temptation. Maybe you still have left over Christmas goodies like cookies or candy sitting around the house, or your spouse keeps baking pies and cakes even though you repeatedly tell him or her you are eating healthy now. And the TV bombards you with images of Thick burgers, juicy steaks, candy and all kinds of goodies- it’s amazing how much you notice these things when you are dieting! And just try checking out at the grocery store, the drug store or Wal-Mart without passing multiple displays of sweets and junk food. These temptations do not help you stick to your healthy eating plan! And when you give in to temptation to eat that piece of cake or that bag of potato chips you feel guilty. Guilt produces negative feelings about yourself and that usually leads to find something comforting- which for many of us is food. If not kept under control, these negative feelings will lead to more destructive thoughts and behavior and before long you are off your diet and have given up on exercise too.

Similarly, we have distractions in our daily business that keep us from doing what we set out to do this year. We can’t take that new salesman out and train him because we are having to put out fires around the office. We can’t write that new proposal or whitepaper because we keep getting distracted by email or Twitter. Every time you sit down to plan your marketing or budget for the next quarter or year the phone rings or someone drops by your office. The distractions and temptations are seemingly endless.

One very powerful solution works for both your dieting and business challenges - identify whatever it is that is sabotaging your efforts and get rid of them (or remove yourself from them). If you are tempted to surf the internet instead of working, disconnect yourself from it. If that is not an option, get a laptop with no internet connection and block out time to write that proposal, newsletter, whitepaper or whatever. If email is the culprit, turn off the “bing” notification every time you receive one or turn off your speakers. And again, you could disconnect from the internet while you work. If the phone or office drop-ins are a problem, block out time to do your task and let everyone in the office/store/etc. know that you are not to be disturbed during this time. Have someone answer your phone for you or turn off the ringer and let it go to voicemail. Have your assistant or receptionist intercept visitors with clear instructions as to who gets in and who does not and how those turned away should be handled. Put a sign on your door (or cubicle) to let people know what you are working on, your wish not to be disturbed unless it is a true emergency (you might want to cover this with your staff too) and when you will be available to them. You could even take an old laptop with no internet access down to your favorite hangout or park bench and work away. You’ll benefit from the change of scenery and the fresh air.

It sounds simple. And it really is if you have some discipline. But don’t expect it to be as easy as it sounds, not at first. Try just one of these approaches at a time and evaluate what works and what does not. Create your own approach to eliminating distractions and get your team involved in creating solutions. This not only helps you come up with solutions it lets them know your intentions and will help them “buy-in” to your approach. And it may even spark them to do the same for themselves. Before long, your whole office will be more productive. And co-workers might just stop dropping by your desk with plate fulls of brownies too!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How Dieting is a Lot Like Marketing/Running a Business- Part 1

One of my New Year's resolutions was to lose weight. And while I've been in the process of losing weight I've noticed something surprising- that I have some fears and trepidation about dieting that are similar to my fears and trepidation about marketing and running my business. And I bet many of you do too. Here are a few thoughts on how dieting and running a marketing program or a business are a similar experience and a few tips to make either endeavor successful. I'll have more to say about this over the next few weeks so stay tuned!

You are afraid to eat (spend money) because you have put in a lot of hard work to lose weight (trim the fat in your marketing budget or business) and don’t want to put it back on. The key is not giving up food or giving up spending. The key is to eat healthy (spend money wisely on) the things that will help you reach your goal.

In dieting, losing unhealthy weight (fat) is your goal. In business, losing unproductive expenses, processes, personnel, and investments is your goal. Once you’ve rid yourself of these unhealthy items, you want to avoid adding these back to your diet (your business).

Add some investments instead. Marketing is an investment. If it has become an expense in your business and is not producing measurable results (increased sales, increased profits, higher quality leads, reduced wasteful spending) get rid of it. *A caveat- some forms of good marketing can be a bad investment (mainly because it is mismatched to your goals or is done poorly) so make sure the marketing you use is ideally suited to your business and is something you can implement well.

Unfortunately, unlike in the food world where we know that a donut lacks nutritious value and contains a lot of unhealthy stuff that should be avoided if we are trying to lose weight and eat healthy, in the marketing arena it can be difficult to know what is nutritious and what is junk. That’s why I wrote “9 Reasons Small Business Marketing Stinks: And How to Avoid Smelling Rotten” for some tips and general advice about good marketing for small businesses. It is posted here in this blog so just scroll down until you find it.

I’m also here to help you sort through your options and help you implement the best strategy and tactics to help your business grow. Call me today to discuss how to get started positioning your business for success! 877-999-5469

Copyright 1st Position Marketing 2010.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

9 Reasons Small Business Marketing Stinks: And What You Can Do To Avoid Smelling Rotten

1) It has no strategy
I see so many small businesses who just basically throw darts at the board with their marketing and advertising with no rhyme or reason. What little marketing planning they do centers around advertising. But usually this is poorly planned. They take no thought in who their target market is, how best to reach them, where to reach them, when to reach them, or how to appeal to them and spur them to action IF they reach them. Did you notice that was a big if? Most of the small business ads I see really don’t get break through and grab the prospect’s attention. The other big problem is they are scattershot. There is an ad here, and ad there, they are done infrequently, and the target is poorly defined.

Don’t use a shotgun approach to advertising! Use a laser targeted pinpoint approach. This does not mean you only target one area or shoot using one gun (pardon the violent metaphor). It means you aim carefully at your chosen target and fire from multiple positions (PR, advertising, promotions, social media, etc.).

2) It has the mindset that advertising and promotion (or sales) is marketing
These are but one aspect of the marketing mix. FYI, if you don’t already know, the marketing mix consists of the 4 Ps- Product, Price, Promotion, and Place (where the product or service is sold or distributed). While promotion is a large part of the marketing mix it is not the only one and usually not the most important one. But it is the fun or glamorous side of marketing so it gets a lot of attention. Still, many fail to realize that there is a lot more to promotion than advertising or sales. Those are only aspects of the promotional mix. I will talk more about the rest of the promotional mix in future articles.

Get a big picture view of marketing and start with the basics first- your positioning and targeting strategies based on your product or service and ideal customers (market place) and let that direct your pricing, promotion, and distribution strategies.

3) It's copy cat or “me too” marketing
Many small businesses copy the same old garbage everyone else is using and you get the same bad results. Even if the marketing is good for one business, it may not be good for your business. First, you are not the same business so your goals and objectives, target audience, capabilities, etc. are not the same. Second, it does nothing to distinguish you from them. Why would a prospect buy from you if you are no different than your competition?

Give them some compelling reasons to do so by demonstrating that you have something your competitor does not. Be different by design.

4) It is practiced by the uninformed
Small business people are good at their craft. They are great plumbers, doctors, lawyers, store owners, beauticians, chefs, dry cleaners, accountants, etc. But most don’t know anything about marketing- and don’t have the time or patience to learn. And that’s ok. It would cost them more to learn and do it themselves than it would to pay someone competent to do it for them. I don’t want to fix my own broken pipes, draw up own estate plan, prescribe my own course of medical treatment, or cut my own hair. I’m no good at it. But these folks are. That’s why I pay them to do it for me. If this situation describes you and you agree with me, you can skip the rest of this article and call me now!

If you still insist on doing it yourself, then learn the basics of marketing and start with understanding your marketplace, finding a profitable niche, and defining your product or service to serve that niche. If you do this right, you will either find yourself with no true competition or you will stand out head and shoulders above them.

5) Small businesses think they can market like the big boys
The problem is small businesses don’t have the money to market like the big boys. The big boys can run branding campaigns and hire expensive Ad firms to design and produce visually entertaining and stimulating masterpieces that make you almost drool for that new iPhone or Cadillac STS (or is that just a guy thing?) But c’mon, how many of you have not licked your lips when you’re watching those Hardee’s Thick Burger commercials? And they can run their ads repeatedly. These are meant to build brand awareness and reinforce brand perceptions as much (and usually more) as they are to create brand preference and create a desire to take action. But most of you can’t afford this kind of service. You can’t afford to run image only ads. Your ads have to work hard to create awareness and generate sales or leads. So you have to market wisely and make every dollar spent be an investment that will produce a measurable return.

This means finding your niche, creating products and services to fill that niche, crafting your identity to appeal to that niche and targeting that specific niche with your well crafted, well planned, and well timed promotions and advertisements. And these ads have to have a call to action to spur a visit to your store, your website, or generate a phone call. Do anything else and you risk losing money and ultimately failure in business.

6) It is too disjointed
They are trying random things not really knowing why or they are dabbling in marketing with no real goal, process, or system. As a result their marketing strategy and tactics are not connected to each other and working together in harmony. In fact, they might even be working against each other. Here is a case in point, suppose you are a professional with deep expertise in your field- medicine, dentistry or law for examples- and you are trying to appeal to a wealthy target audience by offering a specialized service. But you are doing it by running a price discount or coupon promotion! The tactics are out of line with the target audience and do not support the core marketing strategy.

Your marketing tactics have to be connected to (indeed lead by) your marketing strategy and your marketing messages need to be integrated so that your website is consistent with your brochures or press kit, which is consistent with your social media profiles and business listings, which is consistent with you elevator speech, with is consistent with your business card, and so on. Tactics must be aligned with strategies and support your goals. Every piece of marketing communication must be integrated with your brand and marketing strategies to be consistent and produce desired results.

7) It is not built around a complete system
Most small businesses have no system in place for marketing. There is no plan for properly evaluating the marketplace and finding profitable niches. There is no system to help position or reposition their products or services to serve those niches. This is especially devastating when the marketplace rapidly changes. There is no system for promotional campaigns and activities. A coupon tactic is tried one month, a sales promotion another, maybe some print ads are tried another. But there is also no monitoring and measuring plan in place to know what is really working, if anything, and for making changes to the plan as needed. All of these systems must be put into place and used regularly or no real progress will be made. Perhaps you could get away with this in boom times, but not in bust times like we have recently been experiencing and not in the foreseeable future.

Put systems in place that will give you a goal to know where you are going and direction to know how to get there. Then continually work your systems and monitor your progress to make sure you are on track. If not, make some course corrections (change your tactics) to see if that works. However, if you make repeated course corrections and nothing works, it’s time to either call for professional help or change your strategy- or both. My number is located on this blog for your convenience.

8) There is no follow up
Many small businesses, particularly B2b firms, have leads that go un-nurtured and un-converted. Not because they were bad leads but because they didn’t follow up with them. Chances are, if the lead was not ready to buy right then or at least have a sales person talk or visit with him right then, the lead was pushed to the back burner- where it withered up and died. Or the consumer that visited the store once, or even purchased once, never returned and was never contacted with any type of follow up marketing.

If your business relies on generating leads for you or your sales staff to turn into clients/customers, then you need to have an automated follow up system in place. You need a system to capture their contact information to send them follow up emails and newsletters and contact them by phone or in person to keep in touch with them and nurture them through the sales cycle. You need a system to get to know them and their needs so you can send them selectively targeted promotions that will cut through the clutter and make them pay attention. Spend at least a half a day every week working your follow up system and making sure your best leads are being nurtured and converted to sales.

9) It is not automated
This leads me to a related point- much of the follow up marketing tactics are not automated where they can be automated. (Neither are the other marketing activities such as posting articles, blogs, and social media posts.) This makes it time consuming. Pretty soon business owners get so busy following up there is not enough time for doing and managing the rest of the business. Business owners in this situation probably are not taking the time to measure the results of their marketing so they do not know what, if any, results it produces. This leads to frustration, anxiety and wondering if marketing is really helping their business at all. They start questioning their time and effort spent on marketing and pretty soon they are doing no marketing at all. Which virtually guarantees their business will not grow- and makes it highly probably that it will not survive for very long.

Spend some time now setting up systems and processes that can be automated and save yourself time and stress- and money- later. There are many good CRM and auto-responder software programs available to help with this, some simple and reasonably priced, and some sophisticated, which the price reflects. I would suggest checking out AWeber or Campaigner- which I personally use- for simple, affordable auto-responder options and use either Excel or Access if you already have Microsoft Office for a simple CRM solution. You also might try some free or very low cost solutions such as Sugar CRM or ZOHO. For a more robust option I have heard people rave about Act! and I know many people love it. Others don’t so do your home work before purchasing anything.

For lead management and nurturing you might also try or There is one combination auto-responder and CRM solution that I have used in the past that is very good at automating and managing the follow up process and has other applications such as e-commerce solutions that can be added on. It is called Infusionsoft. This might be a good solution for you if you generate lots of leads and need to rely on an automated process to reduce your time spent following up and to make sure that leads are actually followed up with and nurtured.

You can get more resources for marketing by visiting this resource page and others on my website.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Digital Gatorade Dump

It is Super Bowl week. The matchups are set and the Pro Bowl has been played and we are all waiting anxiously to watch the game and see who wins. It is this annual event and the college bowl games that started me thinking about this topic. It has now become an iconic and time honored tradition that the winning coaches of the big college bowl games and many NFL playoff games (and probably the Super Bowl) gets doused with a bucket of Gatorade at the end of the game. This is referred to as a Gatorade dump, or shower, or bath. I found more articles and stories using the term “dump” so that’s how I’m going to refer to it here.

Why is this done? Is it a little payback to a coach who has worked you like a rented mule for the past umpteen months? Maybe. There might be just a touch of truth to that- but all in good fun. However, that’s not really the reason. Is it tradition now that the practice has been established for many years following the New York Giants popularization of the practice during their glorious run to the Super Bowl title during the 1986-87 season? (Yes, I’m aware of the claim that the ’84 Bears started this but it was made mainstream by the ’86 Giants) Again, maybe- but it’s more than that. It is a creative, light-heartedly fun way for guys to publicly express their emotions and say “Well-done coach, congratulations!” without being too mushy and emotional.

When I started thinking about this little ritual that we’ve all become so familiar with and why it has lasted so long I began to think, this is really cool- the guys expressing themselves in a manly way, the coach accepting a little recognition from his players in a manly way. It’s a bonding thing in addition to being a hardy congratulation. And then I began to think, wouldn’t this be great if we could do this to the people in our own lives who have lead us to some sort of victory. Wouldn’t it be cool to dump a little Gatorade on our boss, mentor, or friend as a way to say, “Great job on landing that new client!” or “You really rocked that project!” or simply “Hey, thanks for getting me through that colossal meltdown I was having.”

Well, it would be a little messy and the recipient may send you the cleaning bill for soiling his or her power suit- and the office carpet- with flavored sports drink. Plus, it really isn’t acceptable to go around drenching your boss with icy cold liquids no matter how flattering you are with your verbal praise in the process. But if you have a really great boss, coach, mentor, etc. you may want to show him or her your gratitude- publicly, so the person gets the recognition he or she deserves. After all, a really great boss especially is hard to come by, maybe even more so in tough economic times. And they have been praising your work and helping you build your career.

So you want to do something nice for them, but you don’t want to seem like a kiss up or that you are just doing it for a raise or promotion. Maybe you can’t purchase a gift for them because of company policy. You could just tell them but that is pretty boring- appreciated but not really exciting or motivating. You could buy them a drink after work but that takes the public part out of it unless you can get the whole office to schlep down to the nearest watering hole to celebrate. Offices used to have parties to celebrate these sorts of grand achievements. But with so many budget cuts that’s likely not an option. There are the old stand bys- pats on the back and handshakes- and the new acceptable alternatives- high fives and fist bumps. But the occasion might call for more than just that alone.

Add to that the fact that many people work remotely in virtual teams and rarely if ever spend time with the boss or project manager in person. ? It is very difficult to physically show them your support. Or what if you just admire the work of those selfless people who put their lives on hold- even on the line- to help victims of tragedies (like the relief workers in Haiti) or who serve our country through the military? So what can we do? Can we take the Gatorade Dump in the football world and apply it to the workplace or world outside of football?

I think we can. My suggestion won’t change the world or come close to expressing all the gratitude and recognition that is rightly due some Marine who has given his blood and guts to fighting for our freedom. But it is something we can all do that will only cost us a minute of our time and still be a pretty cool way of expressing our gratitude. I’m suggesting a digital or virtual Gatorade dump. I don’t know how it’s going to work visually yet. Perhaps some of you designers and artists out there can put together something to show this visually. Maybe an app. designer can design something for the iPhone and other smart phones. In the meantime, how about just posting something on your Twitter or Facebook status updates mentioning the accomplishment? Better yet, write it on their Facebook wall for all the world to see (sorry, its work related so post on your LinkedIn profile instead and be sure to write them a nice recommendation prominently mentioning this recent accomplishment).

I suggest writing something like, “I want to send out a #DigitalGatoradeDump to Joe Smith for that awesome project we just completed!” Or, “Congratulations @BizDevSarah for winning that new client and making our sales quota this quarter! Here’s a big #VirtualGatoradeDump for you!!” Use your preferred term for the practice (shower, bath, dump- or whatever fits in the tweet). Maybe we can try it to see if it brightens someone's day a little without making us get teary eyed or appearing like too much of a brown nose (you might want to coordinate with other co-workers, teammates, etc. to help with that aspect).

Let’s give it a shot. It will only take a minute. Go ahead and try to find someone you want to thank or congratulate today. Try hitting up the Super Bowl winning QB with a little digital shout out that includes the digital Gatorade dump tag. Thank a soldier or Red Cross worker doing the same. Make it a cool thing you can do to express gratitude while keeping your emotions in check. And make sure you use the # (hashtag) symbol so that it spreads around and people can search for Digital or Virtual Gatorade Dump recipients to know who deserves a physical, or digital, pat on the back. Who knows, it might just make someone’s day. I’d like to hear your comments and suggestions on this so please leave them below.

© Gavin Head 2010.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How to Choose the Right Print Advertiser

Here are some simple and easy to follow tips for choosing a print advertiser (newspapers, magazines, trade journals, news circulars- including those you find at local coffee shops and retail stores) for those of you who still think print advertising is a good use of your advertising budget. It assumes you know your target market well and have a compelling message/offer. If you have not nailed down those things yet, stop right now and go back and do that! That may be the best money saving advice I can give you on the subject. And it took you less than 20 seconds into reading this to make it worth your while. You'll thank me later! :)

1) They reach your target audience. Not a large readership, not someone else’s target audience… your target audience. It does not matter how many readers a publication has or how many homes or businesses your ad will appear in if most of them are not your ideal prospects. As a small business, chances are you don’t have the money for image ads and purely awareness building ads. You can’t afford an ad in a large publication with tens of thousands of readers. If you do, there are most likely hundreds of ways you could better spend that money. Your ads need to reach your target market- people who need and want what you have to offer.

2) There is reasonable expectation that your intended audience will actually see and/or read your ad. It is large enough for people to notice it and for you to get out the information needed to grab people’s interest and spur them to action. You need space to include a compelling “call to action.”

3) They provide the frequency needed to spur action or effect a change in your prospect’s buying behavior. It usually takes several impressions (how many times an ad is seen) before a prospect buys. I have heard it takes anywhere from 3 impressions to 9. This really depends on your product, normal buying cycle, and how well you market it (pricing, promotion, etc.). Make sure the ad or ads will be seen by your target audience multiple times. Often you can negotiate for a volume discount when purchasing multiple ad runs.

4) The print medium is consistent with your business goals including establishing, maintaining, or building your brand/image. If your target market is hunting enthusiasts for example, don’t advertise in a magazine geared toward opera lovers. Make sure the quality of the magazine or newspaper (paper, print, and writing quality) are all consistent with your brand. It’s ok to use your small local magazine to run ads in if you happen to be selling used cars, computer repair services, or fast food. But what if you sell antiques, fine jewelry, or luxury cars or yachts? Do you want to show an ad of your impressive items on low quality paper next to an ad for Joe’s bait shop or an article that looks like it was written by a 7th grader? I don’t think so! By the way, the same goes in reverse. Don’t advertise in a fancy, high quality journal if your product or service is a more every day, mundane item or your target audience has different tastes and expectations. Nothing against those things- we all need toilet paper and various other sundries- but we don’t expect and ad in Esquire touting a great deal on them at the local dollar store. Know your target market and their expectations!

5) The price reflects the value derived from the investment. Evaluate your potential return (revenue directly related to the Ad) in light of the price of the ad. An ad that costs only $25 but generates $0 in revenue provides NO value and is only an expense. Your business does not need another expense, especially in this economic climate. However, an ad that costs $1000 that generates $2000, $5,000 or $10,000 is an investment that the savviest investor would be willing to take in a New York minute! Calculate how many sales must be made and the profit that must be earned in order to gain at least a market rate of economic return. What is an economic rate of return you ask? It is the rate of return that takes into account all the economic costs of your business (cost of goods sold, wages and salaries, including your own, gen. and admin., rent, utilities, and other operating expenses) plus factors in a normal rate of profit for your industry given the current economic conditions. So if your business’ economic costs are $10 per unit sold and the current normal industry profit margin is 10%, then your business must achieve a gross profit of at least $11 per unit. From this point, factor in the price of the advertising to determine 1) if the ad is feasible (will it generate the bare minimum required return of investment? And 2) is this the best use of my advertising dollars? Will it likely generate the maximum return possible for my investment?

These are the general rules for choosing a print advertiser but some can be applied to other media as well (TV, radio, outside advertising, even the internet). But each product and business has its own set of circumstances and can benefit from more specific guidelines. Consult with a professional for more detailed advice before taking the plunge into anything costing more than a few hundred bucks. But start with these principles first. Follow these 5 simple rules and you will eliminate 90% or more of your print advertising choices and make your remaining options much easier to wade through and select from.

Please visit our website to download the FREE Report Top 10 Free and Low Cost Ways to Attract Attention to Your Business!

Market for Clients during Tough Times -By Jennifer Davey

This post is by a fellow marketing consultant/coach, Jennifer Davey. She covers many of the same issues I do but has a slightly different slant on things. She wrote an article recently that I think is critical for all small businesses to hear. Since I hate trying to re-write or say something that someone else has already said so well, I'm just going to re-post her article here (with her permission). And be sure to check out Jennifer's new upcoming teleclass on making your website earn its keep. Discover the steps, tips and tricks that you can use to make your website successful in the How to Make Your Website Earn its Salary and Get Clients teleclass. Hope you enjoy this article!

Tough financial times lead to tough decisions that can turn out to be business killers. Businesses tend to reflect their customers. When customers are spending, businesses tend to spend. When customers scale back on spending, businesses tend to make cuts to save on that extra income they aren’t making. These cuts end up costing the business even more.

If you offer a useful service or product to clients, they will buy no matter what is happening in the economy. Business does not come to a stop just because there is a recession. To the contrary, if your services or products are of VALUE to your clients, they will still buy it during tough times.

A successful business must never abandon what made them shine in the first place. A successful business is one that is forever moving forward. Moving forward means marketing to get clients. Be proactive to get results for your business.

Tough financial times demand a more focused marketing plan. Clients are in the marketplace looking for what you offer. If you don’t market to them, someone else will and you will lose business during a critical time.

Bad financial times are when great businesses are separated from average businesses. Focus even more on solid marketing to get your services in front of the potential clients. Keep your business moving in the right direction with targeted marketing.

The only way your business is going to survive and thrive during a down economy is with steady clientele. You need marketing in order to get new clients and keep old clients returning. Are you doing all the marketing necessary to bring in new business? Make sure you are following a strong marketing plan to attract new clients and keep old clients. Take the time to review your plan and create a new one if needed.

Small Business Coach and Marketing Strategist, Jennifer Davey, is the author of the “Getting Clients Home Study Program”, the step-by-step guide to getting clients, building your business and making more income. For a FREE copy of her 14-Step Formula for Getting Clients and Report “What you Need to Know to Be Successful at Getting Clients” visit