Signs That You’re Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

lovewrongI’m talking about CLIENT Love, that is…

All day every day I am with small business owners. Either I’m meeting them in networking events, speaking at their association meetings or sitting next to them at luncheons. After speaking with them for a couple of minutes, it becomes evident that they should NOT be there to get clients. Here are some signs so that you too can assess if you’re networking in the wrong places:

Nobody Can Use Your Services

I’ve just come from watching a speaker talk about corporate team communication to a network made up exclusively of solopreneurs. The presenter kicked butt and she had an awesome presentation but I couldn’t figure out what she was doing there.

If after speaking to person after person at an event, you find that your services or products don’t help their pain, you might be at the wrong place to have potential clients fall in love with you. Alternately if every person at an event or a network that you speak to starts to share their biggest issues and it’s exactly what you help them with for a living, you have hit the bullseye for your ideal target client.

You’ve NEVER Gotten Clients From That Group

I keep telling the story of a networking group I went to where everyone I spoke to said they had been coming for years but had not once gotten a client from there. I think it’s a crazy story but it’s true. Are you there to socialize or network to get clients. If months or years of not getting a client isn’t giving you the hint that you’re fishing in the wrong pond, I don’t know what will.

None of Your Competitors Are There

This one’s a huge flag for me. Either you’re so specialized that nobody else has thought to show up at that venue and you’re scoring big time clients or you’ve really missed the mark and you are in the wrong place to find potential clients for what you do. For example, a training company who specialized in the Army scored their biggest win at the Army trade show where all other vendors were guns and tanks but they knew that they would make their year from that show, even if there were 0 other trainers there. Conversely if they couldn’t get any clients from this tactic, it would be a sure sign that they were looking for clients in the wrong place.

Next time you’re deciding to look for clients, do yourself a favour and consider these signs so that you can save on time, money and resources for your small business. After all, there’s only so much polite small talk you can make without bursting a vein in frustration.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

Why Refusing To BE Your Brand Is Hurting You

Notice: If you have dangly parts, you may choose to stop reading this post because it’s mostly about women but chances are you have women in your life or sometimes feel like they do so go ahead, take a look.

dovecamerashyHappy International Women’s Day. It’s been a tough job being a woman through history. Today, it’s easier but a whopping 82%* of all Canadian women still hide or feel uncomfortable when they’re taking a picture. Here’s another sad statistic: 6 out of every 10* woman in the world has stopped doing something they love because they felt bad about how they looked.

So is it any wonder that every day, I meet successful, competent and smart women who refuse to use themselves in their marketing? Those who don’t want to use their own picture as their web banner. Those who feel too insecure to write their own thoughts or express their own expertise.  No, it’s not surprising but here’s why if you’re in that boat, you need to change and change fast.

Why Are We Scared?

An economy professor recently made the claim that if every woman in North America stopped using beauty or weight loss products for only a week, the Health and Beauty industry would collapse in the same way that the airline industry collapsed post 9-11.  That means that there are a lot of people depending on us feeling pretty bad about ourselves. So think about the years of messages you consumed that it took to get YOU to feel inadequate and unworthy of standing up to claim who you are. If you don’t feel desirable, how could you want your picture to be plastered all over your marketing?

Vulnerable Is Weak

The reason so many business owner women refuse to put their personal story, their true thoughts and character on display for everyone to see in their marketing is that it makes them vulnerable. Vulnerable to rejection and ridicule. Vulnerable to loss of income, clients and friends. However, research shows that the opposite of vulnerability which is perfectionism- is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis or missed opportunities. What are you willing to do now to step out into your own authenticity?

“We Have To Be Women We Want Our Daughters To Be”–Brene Brown

The true case for becoming your brand in your business isn’t just because it will attract the kind of clients you’d love to work with. It isn’t because you’ll make more money and feel better about yourself. It’s really about modeling for the future generations. And although I have a son, not a daughter it still holds true that I want him to see me speak my shameful moments, be at peace with my true personality and live in the reality of my true thoughts while refusing to be perfect. What are you teaching your children by refusing to show up in your own business as who you truly are?

Show up to the world and in your marketing as who you really are and I guarantee you’ll be happier for it.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

*Dove research, 2012

When Somebody Pooped in The Waterslide

waterslide

What happens when (hopefully) a baby poops in a giant indoor water slide? Well, we had the misfortune of finding out this past weekend when we took our 4-year-old to one. While waiting in an insanely long line up of other freezing parents and hyped up children, all of a sudden red lights started flashing and sirens went off. Sure enough, somebody had violated the ‘no-pooping in the water slide’ rule and everyone was escorted off the structure.

What ensued gave me great fodder for this blog and taught me a few things about what to do when someone took a proverbial dump in my business and what I could do to prepare better for it.

Anticipate The Poop

We all have different kinds of Poop in our businesses. Times when clients don’t agree with you, times when you have slower sales periods, times when you can’t get supply. Poopy times when things are tough.

For example, when my client Ann (not her real name) told me about her dispute with a client, I asked her if she had a process for handling this. Had she made notes of their conversations, had she kept records of her recommendations? Ann’s answer was a nervous ‘no’. If that client had turned around and tried to sue her or demand a refund claiming dissatisfaction, Ann would’ve been ill prepared for that eventuality. Think of the possible sources of weakness for your business and anticipate them as possible outcomes of your every day life. I guarantee when poo hits your fan, you’ll feel better.

Have a Plan To Get Through The Poop

When somebody pooped on the water slides, we had to wait a good 40 minutes for the water to be drained out and fresh (freezing) water to be pumped back in. This was not a good plan to get through the Poop. We were wet, shivering and my 4 year old was most definitely not impressed. What kind of plan do you have to get through your Poop? What’s your contingency when resources dwindle? Does your cash flow allow for a sales slow down? Do you have plans and processes in place with your clients if your delivery is interrupted? If you have no plan, then your clients and customers might be left shivering in their bathing suits (not really, just giving you a visual there to make a point)..

Turn the Poop into Poopular

If the water slide had given us a voucher for a free pop (haha) at their nearby restaurant or coupons for a discount for the next day or brought in extra towels or had instigated a new form of playtime using existing staff who was just standing around, I guarantee we would’ve congratulated the pooping toddler. Instead, we were resentful and left soon thereafter. We don’t have any recent plans to return there.

What can you do in your business to turn the situation around and become even more popular (you won’t believe that autocorrect just corrected what I really meant to write there!) with your clients? If you screw up, can you over deliver on your contract? If supplies run out, can you extend their payment terms? If you disappoint your clients in any way, can you give a value added bonus? You can’t control the pooping but you can control how you react to it!

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

Why I Hate Advertising

hateadsAs a former marketing manager for major consumer brands who, 2 years ago became a solopreneur  consultant, I can safely and honestly say I hate advertising. For small fish like me, it just doesn’t work and I’m happy to tell you why. If you don’t fit the service based small business description, you can stop reading here but if you’re just like me and my clients, then you can thank your lucky stars for this article. I am going to save you lots and lots of money right now.

Why Ads Don’t Work

Of course I’m not talking about all ads and I’m not talking about for every business model. If they didn’t ever work, they wouldn’t exist. Ads don’t work for small service based businesses who depend on selling an expertise which garners a deep level of trust.  For example, when biz owner sisters Jenny and Janice came to me after having spent $5K on a local community paper with 0 returns, they were literally in despair. They were at the end of their marketing budget for the WHOLE year and hadn’t a single client to show for having blown their entire wad on this one vehicle. If you sell your brain power in any way, think twice about spending money on a mass machine that isn’t laser niched, that doesn’t give you the opportunity to showcase your expertise or personality.

When Does It Make Sense

I’m a huge proponent of getting in front of your ideal clients as a mass audience to intercept them to get leads. I would rather you spend your money at targeted trade shows, speaking in front of your target leads and networking with them frequently instead of spending ad dollars. However, the only time advertising for small businesses makes sense to me is if there are 3 critical elements present:

1. Close to 100% of the consumers of the ad are your ideal client targets. If the readers are not your ideal target clients, you might as well just put the money you’re spending down the garbage disposal grinder.

2. You talk about your clients’ pain and use stats about why it’s such a huge problem for everyone and how you can help

3. You tell your ‘why’, a story that is deeply personal and meaningful about why you do what you do.

Adding a compelling visual of human emotion and a catchy title doesn’t hurt either.

So now that you’re on board with why you need to be positioning yourself as an expert by blogging, speaking and meeting other humans one handshake at a time, you no longer ever need to spend a single dime hoping a mere ad will do the heavy lifting for you.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

How a Multi Level Marketer Sold Me in 1 Minute

greatsaleswomanAdmit it, most people (who don’t sell multilevel marketing-MLM products themselves) shudder in dread when they meet an MLM peddler. Even though I have had clients who WERE multilevel marketers, I have to admit to being one of the shudderers.

Until I met Janet from Arbonne. Then everything changed. During her 2 minute networking self-introduction, Janet started talking about her bout with breast cancer a few years ago. She talked about how she linked it to a cream she was herself marketing as a pharma rep and the chemicals that were in it. Then she talked about how she found another cream under the Arbonne brand and how she credited it with saving her life.

A room full of mostly men and I, the world’s most jaded marketer were riveted to Janet and her story. Janet then went on to talk about what made her an expert in all matters chemical and skin and that’s when she SOLD me. My darling 4 year old’s hands looked like dishwasher hands because of the cold. Every cream I tried was burning him so I thought, who better to have the solution to my pain that a skin care ‘expert’ with a product line of pure and natural creams at her arsenal?

This is what I learned from Janet and I hope you will use it in your own marketing.

You Are Selling Your ‘Why’

When Janet talked about why she sold Arbonne and how she came to know the brand, it was completely compelling and believable. Why do you do what you do? Talk about it all day and everyday. Everywhere.

Stories Capture Better Than Facts

Janet’s deeply personal and agonizing story was immediately more captivating than any facts or figures she could’ve thrown at me. It was very compelling and left a big impression. What stories should you be telling?

Focus On One Area

The biggest downfall of most MLM reps is that they are literally trying to sell the entire line of products, from weight loss to anti aging to athletic performance to baby skin. Janet was focused on skin. That’s all she talked about and that’s the product that she showed us. Are you focused or are you a generalist like EVERYONE else?

Position Yourself As An Expert

Janet’s story made me believe that her background and experience in the pharma world made her something of an expert in that topic. So I ran upto her and asked for her advice. What are you an expert in that people run upto you to consult with?

When I’ve resisted buying a product for years from hundreds of people I have known who sold it and a person I don’t know from Adam is able to sell it to me in 1 minute, I know that she’s got something special going on. Get your groove on, follow this game plan and get out there. I’m going to do the same!

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, watch me on YouTube or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk