No Two Nightmares Are Alike

At a recent small business conference I went to, the speaker was the hugely successful, good looking and filthy rich owner of a Mexican fast food franchise that was setting growth records in his industry. A business strategy consulting company in the audience asked him what the number one challenge in his business was. His answers were interesting: 1. A recent legislation had been causing chaos and nightmares for all his CEOs and 2. He couldn’t find a good pita manufacturer.

Say What?

I’m pretty sure most people didn’t expect those specific answers. They would expect things that are generic to most businesses like growing pains, retention, financing, rising costs etc. Nope, those were not the answers that were given.

Keeping You Up At Night

The importance of picking just one industry to focus on as your ideal target client is so important in marketing. I’ve been telling this anyone who would listen. But this was the best demonstration that what keeps this CEO up at night is SPECIFIC to his industry and so painful that it is having a huge impact on his business.

What’s keeping him up at night is only relevant to HIS industry.

Pick Your Nightmares

When your marketing materials and even how you introduce yourself in a networking meeting reflects your niche clients’ most acute nightmare, then you’ve got them at ‘hello’. When you’re generic, you’ve lost them before you open your mouth.

What would it be like if you could say ‘I help food franchises impacted by Bill x grow their sales by doing y’ versus ‘I help small to medium sized businesses with strategy development’. Which sounds better to you?

Speak Up

So the first step is obviously to pick the right industry to focus on. The one that’s going to pay the bills and provide enough clients who find value in what you do. The second is to find out about their nightmares and speak to them about how you can help.

Remember, no two nightmares are alike because no two industries are alike. You need to recognize that if you’re going to get your clients to throw their credit cards at you.

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

Are You Jumping In To Your Marketing?

I was walking down the street at lunch today and saw the sad story of so many failed businesses on my way. Upended barber’s chairs in an abandoned hair salon, dusty stones lined along a chiropractic pain clinic storefront, the local Blockbusters I used to haunt obsessively when I was young and single and DVD rentals still existed.

It was a poignant reminder that as a small business owner, I’m among a growing population of people who are at all times facing the loss of my livelihood. I mean, the statistics certainly bear that out when they claim that 50-70% of small businesses fail within the first 18 months. What’s a gal to do?

Take A Step Back

When I asked “are you looking for new clients” to a million dollar accounting firm I met yesterday, the partner said “Of course! We’re always looking for new clients”. When I asked him what they’re doing to market themselves, he said “Oh, we’re hiring a new social media person”. I then asked him who his bull’s eye target was and he said the CEOs of $5 million companies. I then sadly regaled him with the statistic that only 47% of CEOs participate in social media. He was surprised.

Before you decide on a marketing tactic, make sure you have a strategy in place. This huge firm had no idea of how to reach their ideal client.

Shed The Fears

Truth be told, the partner I spoke to didn’t even really want to narrow down his marketing to one niche market, saying he’d run the risk of losing his other business if he concentrated on just one industry. He then admitted that changing an accountant is worse than changing your doctor and businesses rarely do it. How would current clients even know that you’re doing a keynote at an industry association that’s unrelated to his, it’s a ridiculous fear.

Spend Where The Fish Are

When you figure out that it’s the most strategic thing to pick one group of people to grow your business with first, then figure out how to get them to notice you. That of course means, spend your money where they’re frequenting. Be where they are. Lavish attention on their problems.

Be Relevant

No matter what, make sure that your marketing dollars are of value to THEM. Each spent dollar should be in the form of a solution to your audience. For example, you should invest in a trade show booth and give them free advice at their industry conference. Spend money on creating a DVD or a booklet to address their frequently asked questions and spend money on getting it to them. This is the only way you’ll be relevant to them.

Stop jumping into your marketing. Think about why you’re doing it and what it will do for your business. Ask yourself if you’re in front of your ideal target client group. Then ask THEM if your marketing is even relevant to them.

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 would you explain what you do to a 4-year old?

“If You Can’t Explain It Simply, You Don’t Understand It Well Enough” I love this quote by Albert Einstein. In my opinion, it points to the number one problem I see in businesses I meet all day, every day. Business owners can’t simplify expressing who they help and how they help enough to explain it to others because of one scary fact–they’re not sure themselves! What would it be like if even a 4 year old could easily understand what it is you did for a living?

What’s The Problem?

One day, you have an idea that you can start a business and help people. You know you know stuff and you know that people will pay to learn that stuff from you. What you DON’T know is how to focus on specifically what you’ll help them with first. Furthermore, there are so many people you can help, you haven’t figured out who to target first. The worst news of all is that you don’t know how to figure it out.

Confused Minds Don’t Buy

When people kindly ask you what you do for a living, you feel like taking a deep breath before answering because it’s a long and complicated answer. You’re a complex person. You’ve got decades of training and experience in such diverse ways to help people, how can people expect you to just summarize your value like that? Unfortunately the end result of all this complexity is that you confuse people. And, no–confused minds don’t buy and they don’t refer you to anyone who might buy.

Simplicity the Elusive

My client Elisa (not her real name) came to me saying that she was an Intimacy Coach. When she first told me about her business, I had no clue who she helped (divorcees, students, single gay men, business owners etc.) or what kind of transformation she brought about in her coaching (sexual healing, relationship healing, corporate team building etc.) So we worked together to determine what her fastest niche to growth would be and checked our assumptions every step of the way with her potential target clients to make sure we weren’t dreaming in Technicolor.

It all worked out great! Now Elisa gets referrals all the time from post partum Moms who need to reconnect with their spouses.

When you talk about your business in terms of categories people already recognise and understand, you keep people’s attention. When you talk about your business like you’re explaining it to a 4 year old, you get more clients.

How can YOU simplify explaining your business?

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

Would Anyone Care If You Disappeared?

Sometimes when I was in a snit about an argument I had with my family, I’d slink into a corner and fantasize about just running away (not to the circus but you get the idea). I wondered if anyone would care if I disappeared and how long it would take for them to notice. Of course now, I know that would’ve given the Dincoys a coronary but don’t you sometimes wonder that about your own business?

Well, big businesses are wondering that very same thing and here’s what they did to find out:

In a first ever attempt at ranking all global brands on the same footing, a research done by the Havas Media Group looked at how a brand affected people’s wellbeing.

In determining this link, they asked questions around how a brand affected everything from the personal well-being to the collective one. Factors such as physical, financial, emotional as well as economic, ethical and environmental were rated against a brands’ ability to influence a person’s well-being.

Show Me the Money

It turned out that meaningful brands beat the stock market average performance by a whopping 120%. In other words, if people’s wellbeing is influenced greatly by a brand, then naturally they value it more.

Only 20% of worldwide brands were found to significantly influence wellbeing. Top of that list of course, is the brand: Google, followed by Samsung, Microsoft, Nestle and Sony.

Crazy that all but one of those are technology companies, isn’t it? What would we do without our gadgets?

Nobody Cares About You

On the other hand the research also revealed that a surprising 73% of brands can DISAPPEAR off the face of the earth and nobody would care about the loss.

People felt that while they think 71% of brands should be solving our problems, they only thought that 34% did this.

What are the implications for you and your small business?

If giant multimillion dollar brands who pour tons of money into ad campaigns can only inspire 46% trust, what can the little guy with so much less ad dollars expect?

How to Matter

When it comes down to trust and relevance, your only ally is to understand your client’s pain and speak their language. Be perceived as one of them and not be lumped into a crowd of others who do exactly the same thing as you do. Stand out. Be bold and be authentic. Stand for something you believe in. Listen to HOW you can matter to your client’s life and business. Then do what THEY tell you to do, not what YOU think should be done.

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

The Best Marketing Advice You’re Forgetting to Follow

I loved this article in the Entrepreneur Magazine by Colleen DeBaise about good marketing advice that we’ve just plumb forgotten! I am constantly remembering really basic things I knew to succeed in my marketing. For example, sometimes I get too busy to look at who’s following me now on social media. Other times, I leave money on the table when I don’t call back my leads that my website generates. Come clean, you’ve all been there. Here’s what another expert says:

Too often companies throw together “About Us” sections that are sterile and  less than compelling. Businesses need to spend time and resources putting up  pictures that reflect their team and culture, and shaping the “why” behind the  company for everyone to consume in a beautiful way.

Read more:

That is a GREAT one. I can’t tell you how many ‘About’ sections have no picture of the owner of the company. Why are you hiding? Remember, a good brand character depends on your character.

Other great marketing advice I’ve given that have been forgotten by clients have been:

  • To keep their focus on their niche and not to wander off the target
  • To send timely and regular communication to their followers, like a newsletter or at least an email
  • To thank people for their referrals in a BIG and over the top way
  • To joint venture with only strategic partners who serve the same target as yours
  • To stop partnering people in your business or in your keynotes because you’re afraid to do it on your own

If any of those sound like you, well I hope this was a good reminder of what you should be doing instead.

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