Retro Business Fashions are IN!

I first want to clarify that I’m not talking about parachute pants, body suits or shoulder pads (though I’ve heard that all of these things are making a come back). I’m talking about shaking hands, eye contact and listening.

As we become more and more submersed into the digital age, (like many) I personally find myself consumed with keeping with Facebook, Twitter, SEO and the like. However, there’s nothing quite like a good ‘ole personal interaction.

I know it my sound ‘retro’ or ‘old fashioned’, but truth be told, making the connection is what counts, no matter what the medium. And there’s no better way to make a connection than to have a verbal conversation. Whether it’s over the phone of in person. The nuances of speech and the body language portrayed during personal interactions are priceless. Knowing whether or not your customers is smiling, nodding, or even looking at you, allows you to reach them in ways that Facebook and Twitter just can’t do.

I’m not saying that you should forget this limitless technology, I’m telling you to pick up the phone, go introduce yourself to the office next door, take a client to lunch, hand out your business card after you’ve chatted a stranger up at the deli (you know, those 2×3.5″ pieces of paper with your name and logo on them). Make a connection- in person, follow up with a phone call, you’ll be amazed at the results.

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Spend $$ to Make $$$$

We’ve heard it before. “You have to spend money to make money.”

It’s true, but that doesn’t mean you have to waste money! As you start your next quarters marketing strategy (I’m thinking Christmas?), keep a few things in mind. It will help you stay on the right track with your effort, outcomes and budget.

1. Demographics

That’s right, what’s your demographic? Who are you trying to reach? Where do they live, work and play? How old are they? Do they have kids?

You have to know your target before you can appeal to them. I’ve talked about this before. If you need a brush up, check out 50/60/70/80.

2. Product v. Value

What are you selling? This can be a product or a service. More importantly that the product, you need to be able to explain and show the value. Why does your demographic want what you are selling?

Once you have pinpointed the answer– sell the value. It’s truly the only thing that separates you from your competitor.

3. Voice

How are you going to reach your clients? Mail, email, web, TV, radio, etc.? Knowing your audience will help you make this decision. How you choose to contact your ideal customer is crucial. Spending thousands on a magazine ad is silly if your ideal customer is age 21-35, drinks coffee regularly and has a smart phone- just sayin’.

How you choose to contact them is going to reflect directly on your business and its vibe. Your advertising is essentially your voice. Yelling through a loudspeaker on a busy street might be exactly what you need. Maybe you need to sponsor a local event or school, maybe an old fashioned newspaper ad is more attune to your demographic. Do the research to find out.

4. Execute

Even the best plans are unsuccessful without execution.

Once you know what you’re going to do. Do it.

Don’t put it off- get it done, now. Set yourself a deadline. If you don’t have the time, find a company near by that does. Spending an extra couple hundred may be well worth the time you don’t have. If someone else can do it for you and do it better, than it’s usually worth the extra money.

5. Track Results

Sending a mailer to every resident within 5 miles doesn’t matter if you don’t know how many of your customers are here because of that flyer. You need to know how effective your efforts were. You need to know why they came in and keep them coming back.

So ask them. I mean right there, at the register ask “Did you get our mailer last week?” “Wonderful! If you would like to add your email to our list, we’ll send your our monthly offers.”

 

Plan well, plan effectively and execute.

Making Your Flyer Count

I frequent the coffee shop in one of the retail areas near my house. They have a community bulletin board that is littered with flyers and business cards. I’ve noticed it a few times, however, I don’t usually look at them for more than a few seconds.

With that realization, I conducted an experiment. 

I’ve heard that you only have 3 seconds to catch someones attention and get them to read your content. Which means, a flyer full of 14 pt font- even if it’s on brightly colored paper- is not going to cut it.

You have to catch their attention. What is the ONE thing you want to say. Why are you even creating a flyer in the first place? That should be your focal point. You don’t have to have mad Photoshop or Illustrator skills (even though those are my programs of choice). Maybe just a basic knowledge of Publisher, or even Word has a few good templates.

Or hire someone that can do it quicker and cleaner. They’re going to save you time- a lot of time. And it’s going to get people’s attention.

Color. Yes. It needs to be in color. In our day and age, with flashing lights and technology surrounding us, color is critical. You will not get the attention you want with out standing out, and color is a really easy way to do it.

Here’s the math for 1000 flyers (which won’t go far):
Do it yourself: about $100 (give or take depending on your printer and the paper quality) plus about 2 hours of your time creating and printing. These are black print or photocopies on colored paper.

Color design printed yourself: about $150 (considering the cost of ink and the fact that you are going to use photo paper or something of similar quality).

Print through Kinkos or Office Depot: $250 for color. It’s averages about $.25 per color print, one sided on medium quality paper.

Printing through VistaPrint: $370+ shipping and 7 days.

Having someone like me do it: $235. 

While having someone local doesn’t seem to save you any money. Think about the value of the product. 

1. You don’t have to spend any time on the work, and time is money.
2. There is an extra level of professionalism when the flyer is custom made.
3. If you put out a copy of a flyer, what does that say to your customers. Does it say anything at all?

Before you start printing off hundreds of flyers for your next event, think about the message you want to get across, your audience and whether or not you even want to be noticed.

50/60/70/80

The buzz on Twitter right now is all about finding your customers and actually listening to what they have to say. I’ve been thinking long and hard about this concept. As a business owner, I tend to find myself assuming I know what my current and potential clients want. My dad clearly repeated to me throughout my childhood and beyond what exactly “assuming” does. In case you haven’t heard, I quote, “It makes an ass out of u and me.” So I came up with the 50-60-70-80 rule. And it works.

50
This one is straight forward. Go find your customers. Spend (at least) 50% of your time finding your customers. You will never know what your customers want, or even who they are from inside your store-front or office.

Truth: Your customers don’t care about you. Heck, they don’t even know you exist.

Solution: Go find them. Figure out who they are, what they do, where they live – narrow it down.

It’s much easier (and more cost-effective) to market to a smaller audience, but you can’t do that until you know who they are. I understand your challenges. You are busy, you don’t have any other employees, etc., but you will not- and cannot grow unless you roll up your sleeves and get out there. You want to hire someone to answer phones? Then you’d better have customers calling. Check out the Customer Manifesto from Steve Blank. He sure knows how to hit that nail on the head.

60
While you’re out there finding your niche, you need to listen. This is not the time to market yourself. Your mission is information. Not marketing. We just established that you need to find out who your customers are and what they want before you market to them.

Fact: Marketing can get expensive.Why waste valuable resources on groups of people that will never be your customer.

Listen to what your customers are saying- minimum 60% of you time while your out should be listening. What do they like, where do they shop, who are they, what social media do they use, where do they get their news, what activities do they like? You have to find the answers to these questions before you start anything else. You need to know what type of media they like. There is no sense on putting your efforts into a daily blog if your customers are on twitter – but we’ll talk about this in the “80.”

Spend your time listening while you’re out there. Image

70
Once you’ve listened, or I should say are listening (because this is ongoing, people change), you can start narrowing your focus. Spend 70% of your time in the office on efforts towards attracting and appealing to your target group. You don’t have a business without customers. Yes, you have expenses to manage and sales to achieve and possibly employees (which are also very important, but that’s a whole other blog), but you won’t have those things if you don’t have someone buying your product.

Make these soon-to-be customers your priority. They are your present and your future.

80
Don’t spread yourself thin. Now that you know who your audience is and what they like and want, you can make that your priority. Like I said earlier, don’t spend all your time on a blog if your audience is on Twitter. Don’t ignore your blog, maybe cut it down to once/week or twice/month, you still need to stand out as an expert, but spend 80% of your marketing efforts on things that you know your new found niche will like and respond to.

Check out what Gini Dietrich has to say on this matter, specifically on the social aspect. It follows the same idea for both social media marketing and more traditional approaches.

Not to sound too mushy, but I have complete faith in you and your ability to be successful. I’m sure you do too. Just take a deep breath and don’t assume anything.

3 Steps to Charisma

Charisma truly is a learned art. Some people are gifted with the ability to command attention as soon as they walk into a room.  The stage is set, the question is whether they can keep their audience engaged. Sure we want to hear about your latest product line, and of course we are interested when you tell us a marketing disaster story, but if you fail to connect with us – we’re going to stop listening, and likely stop caring. You’ve missed one of the pieces of the pie and potentially lost a sale.

There are 3 distinct features of charisma. With practice and self-awareness, there is no doubt you too can be a least little more charismatic.

  1. 1.       Confidence

Before you can begin any conversation, or presentation or sales pitch, you must be confident. Essentially, you must already know you are a success before presenting yourself (and your product) to your audience. More and more we are told through this social media age that we don’t sell a product or service, we sell its value. To do that, we sell a connection with our audience. To even begin the connection, you must exude a confidence that makes people want to hear what you have to say.

Confidence cannot be taught. The best advice I can give you is to remember that you are an expert in your field. You must know more about what you do than the average person, use that as leverage next time you walk into a crowded room.

However, if that’s just not enough, and you need a little more than a lifetime experiences check out “10 Ways to Instantly Build Self Confidence” be Editor in Chief, Pick the Brain.

  1. 2.       Assertiveness

The dictionary defines assertiveness as confidently aggressive or self-assured; positive. Notice that you cannot be satisfactorily assertive until you’ve mastered the confidence. This feature of charisma is by the far the most difficult to balance. While you want to put your ideas into the hands of your audience, there is only a thin line between confidently aggressive and overly dominant and bombarding.

Don’t be afraid to let people know that you are the owner of your company, or the head of marketing, or whatever fancy title you prefer. Not only do these titles give you a more memorable appearance (you’re not just Joe Schmoe, you’re Joe Schmoe the Owner of “insert your business here”), you also open the door to assert yourself into conversations where you can be the expert on the subject.

Being assertive is the trickiest part of being charismatic. It’s a demonstration of self-control.

  1. 3.       Genuine Interest

I personally find this to be the most difficult part to master. Of course we have a genuine interest in our own careers or family, but that’s not what I mean here. To truly be charismatic, you must show a genuine interest in what other people have to say. Ask a question then listen to the answer and respond accordingly.

Not everyone is going to enjoy talking about that same things all the time, but you will never know unless you ask. Likewise, they may have valuable information to share, or a product that you personally wouldn’t use, but you know someone who would.

Showing a genuine interest in the people you strike up a conversation with is priceless when networking and building clients.

I cannot claim to be an expert at achieving a perfect charismatic balance. However, I do my best to remember all three pieces of the pie. As long as I am keeping a decent balance, my interactions with others usually go very well.