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Is Your Marketing Plan Working?

Are there times when you feel you’re spinning your wheels when it comes to your marketing and prospecting efforts? If that’s the case you need to understand that in order to make your marketing effective you need to have a strategy and tactics in place that suit your particular, unique audience.

That being said, there are items that every marketing strategy should have in place:

  1. Understand what the life cycle of your prospect is, in other words do your sales usually follow a particular path? If so, your strategy must incorporate that unique process.
  2. How do your prospects want to be contacted? Email? Telephone? Text? Face-to-face meetings?
  3. Is there a way to automate any of the sales process? Either through mailings or email campaigns or other ways in which you can reach a target group of prospects all at one time?

When you’re looking back at the effectiveness of your 2014 sales and looking forward to 2015 and increased sales, you want to make sure the steps along your sales path are clearly defined.

Do You Foster Collaboration?

No man is an island. This adage is true in life as it is in business. Successful entrepreneurs know that to grow a business they need to collaborate with others. How can you make certain your collaboration skills are as strong as they could be?

Here are some steps you can take to strengthen them:

  • Make certain your associates feel a part of the process and that their contributions are given thoughtful consideration.
  • Do you include all relevant team members in discussions? Do they feel part of the team?
  • What do you do with that one person in your organization who tosses out ideas — that may at first seem out of the scope of what you’re doing — to make him or her feel part of the whole?
  • When you’re attempting to formulate solutions to problems, do you involve team members from a cross section of your organization?

What can you do to foster collaboration and input from all team members?

Do You Possess Leadership Talents?

“I’d like to run a business.” If you proclaimed that, but didn’t add in the question of, “Do I have the leadership talents necessary to do that?” You may want to take a step back and consider that question.

Here are three leadership talents that we believe entrepreneurs should either possess or hone:

  1. Are you able to articulate your mission, vision and purpose? You need to be able to do this whether you’re hiring and training new employees or if you’re at a networking event.
  2. What makes you an influencer? Do you now how your own character and personality influences others?
  3. What is your overall plan for execution of business growth and execution of a business plan?

Ponder these three questions and determine whether you have these leadership talents or what you can do to hone them.

Do You Have A Prospect Follow-up Plan In Place?

Why isn’t the phone ringing? You’ve been attending networking events and conference and handing out your business cards so it stands to reason the phone should be difficult to keep up with, right?

Perhaps the reason it’s not ringing is because you don’t have a plan in place to follow up with those individuals you have me and networked with. Here are three steps you can implement that just might have your pool ringing off the hook:

  1. Make time for follow up phone calls or to send follow up emails. When you’re planning out your work week, you need to plan for prospecting and follow-ups. While it’s nice to believe that your prospects might just call you back, they are likely just as busy as you are and you need to be proactive.
  2. Write a thank you note. If someone has done something nice for you, send a thank you note. If you meet someone at a networking event, rather than sending an email follow up, break out of that routine (hint, that is what everyone does!) and send a handwritten “great to meet you” note.
  3. Make certain your prospecting goals are realistic. Don’t jot on your to-do list that you will make 50 follow up calls this week. That number is daunting and likely not realistic. Set a goal of making two or three calls a day or set aside an afternoon and make ten calls. Make sure the goal is attainable or it will become insurmountable.

What plans do you have in place for prospect follow ups?

Is Your Business Bio Robust?

How robust is your business bio? Do you have a complete profile on LinkedIn or on your other business social media pages? Is your About Page on your website all it can be?

Here are some tips to write a bio that helps you sell yourself:

  • Who is your audience? Your bio shouldn’t be a one size fits all, it should fit the medium and the audience you’re reaching.
  • Consider what are your most important qualifications, or what words you’d like potential clients to search for you under. Think “Google” search when you’re writing your bio.
  • Do you have any qualifications or specialized training of note? If so, note it!
  • Make sure your bio has easy to find contact information. If someone searches you out, you want to make it easy for them to find you!

When is the last time you’ve checked your business bios and profiles?

#Entrepreneurs: Take A Deep Breath

Let’s be honest. Being an entrepreneur isn’t always the easiest option for making a living. Along with being your own boss and perhaps being the boss of others, you may carry a lot of weight of responsibility on your shoulders, right?

What can you do when you’re feeling stressed out? Here are a few tips that we have found works for the business owners we deal with:

  1. Take a break. Step away from the computer, the office, the overflowing inbox and go outside. Taking a few breaths of fresh air or walking around for ten or fifteen minutes, while breathing deeply, can relieve stress and built up tension.
  2. Find a hobby. Remember hobbies? You had them before you became too busy with growing your business. Take time now to rediscover a lost hobby. Take time to do that at least fifteen minutes a day. Whether it’s knitting or baking or bike riding or woodworking, immersing yourself in something you love will help clear your mind and make you more effective.
  3. Stay connected with those outside of your business. You need to have connections, friends, networking colleagues outside of your area of expertise with whom you can connect.

Eating healthy meals and keeping a positive attitude will both go a long way in helping you deal with the stresses you may face on a regular basis.

5 Ways To Get Your Blog & Website Found

Business owners today need a web presence in order to compete. However, simply building a website doesn’t guarantee that:

  • You will be found or
  • That your ideal clients will be the ones who visit your site… but

If you’re taking the time and putting in the effort to have a website and a blog constructed you need to know what steps to take to make sure your site is search engine optimized. Here are our best practice tips to make that happen:

  1. Research your business’s keywords. Take a step back and ask yourself, “if a potential client is looking for me what search terms will he use to find me?” Work those terms into your website and blog posts.
  2. Make sure you title your blog posts so that your keywords show up in the URL; this helps search engines find you.
  3. Put time and thought into the crafting of your title and make sure keywords are being added to it.
  4. You don’t need to go keyword heavy. In fact, don’t use keywords unless they make sense and sound natural in a sentence. The rule of thumb should be no more than three keywords or keyword phrases per post — be aware though that Google changes its algorithms frequently and this is subject to change.
  5. Add an image to your posts. The image should make sense with the copy you’re writing. You should also include at least one outbound link and include a link that also drives traffic back to information on your site that relates to the post.

How often do you blog and do you find it is helping your website visibility? If you’re stumped, give us a call.

The Realities of Entrepreneurship

Great! You’ve decided that you’re going to become an entrepreneur! What are the downsides to being your own boss, being the master of your own domain and not having to answer to a supervisor? Well, there are a few and they include:

  1. The hours are long. When you’re an employee, you punch a clock and go home at the end of the day. As an entrepreneur, you don’t have a clock to punch and you may find yourself putting in more hours than you originally imaged and when you take the hours worked and divide that by the money you bring in you may find that…
  2. The money isn’t as good in actuality as it was on paper when you put your business plan together. You should have a bank account that can support you and your current lifestyle for at least three (preferably six) months while the business gains traction.
  3. It can be stressful knowing that you don’t get paid unless you sell your goods or services and that means you have to be constantly selling. It can be stressful when you’re making a sales call that could make the difference between filet mignon and rice and beans. You don’t want to let desperation seep into the tone of your sales calls.

Take heart, though, there are benefits to being a business owner and they include:

  1. It is so rewarding to see your successes and know you were the one responsible for it.
  2. You have flexibility to work the hours you choose whether you’re an early bird or a night owl or if you want to work on the weekend and take a day off during the week.
  3. You can create your own destiny and perhaps even a business that you can pass down to your children.

If you’re ready to take the leap from employee to entrepreneur, working with a business coach may be your first, best step!

Effective Coaching Strategies: 5 Steps

In order to make the most of your business coaching session, you should take steps to prepare for it so that the time you spend with your coach can be beneficial and help you walk away with a plan in place to grow your business.

Here are the five steps we believe should occur during the course of a coaching relationship:

  1. Be clear in the goals you hope to achieve in your coaching session. Do you want to find a work/life balance? Bring in more clients? Make a conscious decision to expand your organization? What outcomes are you ultimately seeking from your coaching relationship?
  2. Once you have honed in on a measurable goal your coach will work with you to put a time frame into attaining that goal. Once you have a time frame, you will need to “work backwards” to break the large goal into smaller, measurable steps.
  3. Your coach will hold you accountable for the goals you’ve set and the time frames under which you want to meet them. He will walk you through specific tasks you will likely need to complete in order to achieve them.
  4. You and your coach need to acknowledge the goals you have set for yourself. Both of you will talk through roadblocks or mini-setbacks you may have — and you should be prepared for them and look at them as learning opportunities.
  5. Celebrate your successes! Once you reach a milestone in your goals or complete a major portion of a task pat yourself on the back. If you’re struggling to get over a hurdle, celebrate when you clear it!

Coaching is a two way street with the client (you) knowing you need assistance reaching that next level in your business and having that outside source (your coach) showing you ways to reach them!

3 Items Necessary To Achieve Goals

Is there a magic formula for achieving goals? We believe that while there is no magic formula, there are specific steps that business owners can take to help them attain the goals they have set for their businesses.

These steps include:

  1. Setting goals that are time sensitive and deadline oriented. Rather than setting a goal to “get more clients in 2014” set a goal such as, “get new clients a month in 2014.” This goal means you have made it time sensitive and deadline oriented. Having a measurable goal brings it into focus.
  2. Set a goal that “forces” you to persevere. Goals that are too easy don’t challenge you as a business owner and will not push you toward greater heights of success. While you don’t want to set goals that are continually unattainable, you do want to set goals that make you work to achieve them!
  3. Finally set a goal that showcases your expertise and helps you achieve the measures of success you’d set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Setting a goal to “clean off your desk” isn’t helping your business grow. But setting a goal to “increase revenues by 25% by year’s end” pushes you toward success.

What steps do you take to achieve your business goals?