When My Childhood Was Running My Business

I may be over 40 but my parents and I still talk about my business. Occasionally they do give me advice, but that’s not what I’m talking about when I say that my childhood was running my business and it very well might be running yours too!

A year ago, a met a man who became my coach and who taught me that the reason why I was charging so little, the reason why I took on miserable clients and the reason why I’d never hired a $15K coach until today was because of what my parents had taught me about money. And he was dead right.

The product of a 1950’s developing country, my parents struggled mightily when they immigrated to Canada when I was born. So it turned out that my parents, or more specifically what I learned from them and from my environment when I was a child were running my business today.

I was shocked and took great pains to break out of those conditioned beliefs and habits. Beliefs that said I had to work really hard and be miserable to make a lot of money and frequently. Beliefs that said to give an enormous amount of money to a strange man when I didn’t have it and to put it on my credit card was complete insanity and could hurt me.

I run into so many of these beliefs every day when I talk to prospects and other small businesses. If you’re ready to break out of your childhood beliefs that are running your business, then awareness over your patterns is power but unless you take action, nothing will change.

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 To Pick Your Brand Name

One of the most common questions I get asked by startups or new companies is ‘what should I choose as my brand name’. For most entrepreneurs, it’s like naming a baby with far reaching consequences and a thousand unforeseen implications.

  • Here’s what I tell them: First figure out your niche. That means who your ideal client is and what area you’re an expert in. Don’t guess this, learn how to research this strategically.
  • Then figure out the words that your ideal client is googling to search for you online. Find out what words they use to describe the pain that they’re in.
  • Then use those words in your brand name. The best brand names are simple and short English words that represent something about what you do, such as Staples or ToysRus.
  • For example, when a marketing consultant client niched in helping small food manufacturers get and stay listed in grocery stores, we picked the name ‘Food Distribution Guy’. When a financial planner client niched in Divorcing Women, her brand name became Divorcing Woman. One of the most successful brand names and url for a business I know is called Stenographers.com. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

So you see, it all starts with figuring out your niche, and what words your ideal clients are using. It’s not really ever about what you think is cute or relevant or sexy, it’s always about 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

 

Why You’re Not Getting Clients From Social Media

Yes, you’ve been posting articles on LinkedIn. You’ve said YES to every invite on Facebook and Twitter. You have done your job so how come social media isn’t doing its job and bringing you new clients? I think I might know the answer to that one. If you follow my work you can probably guess what I’m going to say: Your social media isn’t working because you might not have the right business strategy.

A business strategy is just a fancy way of saying WHO you help and WHAT you help them with. A communication strategy is figuring out where to intercept these ideal clients and telling them HOW you help them over and over and over again. For example, if your market research tells you that you have to target CEO’s of multinational corporations, research shows that 53% don’t even participate in social media. In that case, your communication strategy shouldn’t be heavy on social media presence.

  • So the first order of action is to figure out what we in marketing call your niche (your ideal client target and your specialty).
  • Then you ask your niche what social media platform and groups they are consuming either as an observer or active participant.
  • Then you ask them what their number one pain point with respect to your specialty they are suffering from.
  • Then you post videos and blogs and quotes and articles from other trusted sources in the groups and streams your target clients are involved in, always about solutions to their pain point.

And voila, all of a sudden, your ideal clients think you’re an expert, a celebrity and a go-to guru for their problems in the area of your specialty. Then when they see you speaking at a conference, meet you at a trade show or run into you while networking, they will know, like and trust you already. The rest, as they say will be history and you’ll watch your sales grow and grow.

What has been your experience in how social media has gotten you clients?

Would love your input on this post and if 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

The Verbal Diarrhea Elevator Pitch

verbaldiarrheaCome on, admit it. You’ve heard it or done it. I know I have…The verbal diarrhea that happens when someone has to introduce themselves to a group of peers or prospects. The explanation that drones on and on about what someone does for a living, leaving the listeners perplexed and exhausted. And those are the people who are actually listening to the intro. Most actually have checked out after 5 seconds and are dreaming of their upcoming beach vacation or the hot checkout clerk who helped them at Wal-Mart.

Let’s examine this strange phenomenon more closely and talk about why this odd circumstance happens with a lot of small business owners:

Nerves

Ok, it’s nerve-wracking to have a whole lot of eyeballs on you, listening and judging you. I get that. However, if you’re in business for yourself, you’re pretty much going to have to get over it and do your thing. At least you can spend the time and effort to do it well so that even if you are wetting yourself in fear, you end up getting clients out of the ordeal.

You Don’t Really Know

If I had a dollar for every time I think this happens…. When a business owner has a verbal-diarrhea-elevator-pitch-moment, it’s usually because they either don’t have a niche (a focused target and specialty) or they have multiple ones that they can’t decide between. Do the strategic research and find out where your business needs to focus on before you try to introduce what it is that you do. Clarity gets remembered. Confused minds don’t buy or refer.

You Get Into The ‘How’

Most people are simple and linear creatures. When they ask you what you do for a living, they’d like to hear something that they already have a category in their head for, like a dentist or a therapist or a consultant etc. When business owners are unclear about how their ideal clients categorize what they do,  they try to compensate by getting into the HOW of what they do. They think that by adding more information, that people will better understand what they do.

For example, is it better for an elevator pitch to say ‘I’m a financial advisor and I help divorcing women to navigate the settlement negotiation’ or ‘I’m a resilience activator who helps divorcing women through the settlement negotiation by setting goals, managing relationships and providing financial planning while supporting them through their journey of divorce.’ In my opinion, the ‘how’ version is too long. The elevator pitch is just the teaser to let your audience know if they’re your ideal client. If they are, don’t worry, they’ll ask you to go into more details about how you help.

You Throw in Your ‘Why’

I badly teed off a seminar leader who was making the room full of business women stand up and tell their ‘why they do what they do’ as part of their elevator pitch. I simply stated that in my experience, and in my experience through my clients, that getting into ‘I am a leadership coach who helps IT companies because when I was at ABC Inc, I got unfairly fired etc.’ would actually be an ineffective way to do that initial intro because it was too long and would lose the audience engagement. The seminar leader staunchly stated that she didn’t agree but you should’ve heard how long some of those ‘why’ stories were. I simply couldn’t see how any audience would stay engaged in this particular sort of verbal diarrhea. An Elevator Pitch in my mind is simply to establish 2 things: what business is this person in and can he/she help me or someone I know. Anything over and above that belongs in a deeper conversation.

So don’t be an elevator pitch chump and capture way more interest and dazzle with your concise and distinct self-intro. Believe me, you’ll feel the results almost immediately when people approach you after your intro to ask more about what you do.

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

Can Your Sex Life Cost You Clients?

jianghomeshi

A week after being rocked by the Parliament shooting, popular CBC host Jian Ghomeshi was fired over sex allegations about his involvement in rough play in the bedroom. He subsequently wrote a Facebook manifesto where he declared that all acts were consensual and that respecting different sexual tastes were part of human rights.

As a huge proponent of being yourself as part of your brand, I got to thinking about ‘how much info is too much info’ when you’re sharing it as part of your personal and business brand? I mean, can you lose your business (or job) for being too open about your life?

Here are a few thoughts I came up with for those who are struggling to communicate their personal brand:

Who Do You Help

If your clients are mostly corporate or religious, is it ok to come out and reveal that you enjoy the occasional use of whips and chains in your private life? Just like with celebrities, you will appeal to a certain kind of corporation and a certain kind of client, simply because you’re edgy and honest. If you will lose 100% of your clients because of your disclosure, then you’d better have market intelligence that says that there is a viable niche of clients who will hire you for being edgy before you spill the beans. You can’t expect everyone to be on board (sadly) and can’t blame them for not being a fit with your brand.

Why Do It

When it seems like a risky proposition and potentially embarrassing to boot, why would you want all your dirty laundry to hang out as part of your marketing platform? Because it actually helps people who are in the same situation connect better with you. It humanizes you and makes you more accessible. Most people are walking through life pretending to think and do things because it’s the accepted norm. When you stand up and say ‘I’m different’, you earn trust and respect.

Who Does It Hurt

Provided that you are prepared to lose a few clients and friends, if your TMI (too much info) isn’t harmful to children, small pets and or isn’t illegal, then it’s harmful NOT to reveal your true thoughts in life (and in your marketing). Near-death-experiencer-turned-novelist Anita Moorjani states that we are born with the exact character, thoughts and wishes that we’re supposed to have to fulfill our destiny. The name of her book Dying To Be Me, beautifully illustrates this hard lesson that she literally had to die to learn.

How To Start

Well, you could have a jilted angry ex expose you like in poor Jian’s case or you could start to express your views by slowly introducing it in conversations with your business networks and see how they react. Sadly, the majority of my clients who refuse to show up in their marketing don’t even have as exciting lives or divisive thoughts as a Dominatrix. They simply choose silence over saying or writing anything that can be remotely controversial.

Unfortunately in marketing, agreement with everyone is equal to being invisible. So to answer the blog’s question: can your sex life lose you clients? No, not the right ones.

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

I’m Against Cold Calling But If You Insist On It, Here’s How

telemarketerI consider myself a bit of an expert on cold calling. Why is that you say? Because I practically cut my baby teeth on it. It was literally my first summer job–telemarketing. At the tender age of 15, I started first by selling ad space in a business directory in Montreal (using very BAD French). Then I progressed to peddling light bulbs and ultimately my telemarketing career peaked at its glory when I started selling cemetery property. It is a good (but gruesome) business. After all, what other service can you think of where literally EVERYONE needs it?

Through it all, I learned a lot about how to sell on the phone. Now I use my experiences in helping my small business coaching clients get new leads.  Here are my pearls of wisdom that were honed by trials, errors and sometimes horrors through the years.

Don’t Do It

When I was a telemarketer, they gave us the phone book as our leads. Basically prospects needed to have a pulse and live in the city. Today, there’s social media and the internet and so many more resources to define your target. LinkedIn allows you to even write directly to the exact position and title of the exact company you want to work for. So when such a sophisticated world of communication exists, why would you go back to the stone ages? I know lots of people still do it but the ROI in my experience doesn’t justify the means. It’s for people who DON’T KNOW any other way or who don’t have a clearly defined niche.

Warm It Up

When I teach my clients to cold call, I help them warm it up first. I ask them to reach out to their networks and e-introduce them to their target audience. I make them go on the company website or YouTube channel to find anything relevant to a recent award, ad, news-something to engage the conversation. Kind of like “I’m calling because I saw your recent acceptance speech at the HR awards on YouTube and wanted to find out more about what you do”. This immediately sets you apart. I always enjoy speaking to reps who cold call me but who have done their research. They say a word about my videos or my book or ask me a question about my niching workshops-all info widely available to anyone who cares to spend 10 minutes on my website. So do the work and warm up that cold call. You’ll get a lot further with it.

Give Them Value

The only reason you should ever cold call anyone is if you’ve got something to help them with a need that you KNOW they have. For example, my clients who have to resort to (or prefer to) cold call offer a free consult or a ticket to a lunch and learn or a free download that addresses a relevant industry issue. The entire reason for the call has to be an invitation to give access to a solution.

Cut It Short

After quickly finding out if there’s interest in the solution and resource that you’re offering on the call, either end the call by thanking and asking if they know of anyone else in that pain or by booking the next time you’ll be seeing them. Don’t blather on, don’t take up too much time and be concise.

If you refuse to join the new world and want to default back to cold calling, please be my guest but if you implement these suggestions, you might just get better results and start to get better leads.

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 Give Everything Away For Free

generosityI can’t stop talking about this man. (no, not the Godfather!) Last week, when I heard marketing legend Gary Vee saying that he believed in giving everything he knew away for FREE to anyone and everyone he met, I was blown away. I have been saying the same thing to my clients for years!

Here are the reasons why we do it:

They Won’t Implement It By Themselves

As Gary so eloquently expresses himself: “Even if I tell you everything, I  know you won’t do s*** with that info!” When I heard him say that, I almost fell off my seat laughing because while I’d often thought this, I had never heard it put exactly that way. This is sooo true. Think about how your life would be different if you implemented every book, talk show advice, guru-how-to that you’ve ever gotten your hands on. The hardest part is accountability and the motivation for consistent implementation.

Information Is Everywhere Anyway

Have you met my friend Dr.Google? He’ll heal your body, your marriage and your marketing problems. His close cousin Dr.Youtube even gives you videos so you won’t feel so alone while you’re solving your problems. When you’ve got 2 Dr’s like this in your posse, who needs anything else? All your issues are resolved instantly, right? Unfortunately the more information that is out there, the harder it is to make a decision about what to do about our problems. Yes, all information is now available for free but who will help you customize it to your particular pain? Better yet, who will walk you through the fear of actually doing what needs to be done?

When You Give, You Get

In his famous book Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook Gary Vee talks about using marketing platforms like social media to give give give value first before you ask for anything from your audience. The theory being that the ratio of giving to asking should be heavier by a large margin on the giving. Why do you think free seminars give you valuable information first and then add a sliver of time to ask for a sale at the end?

I Don’t Work For Free

When you have an abundance mentality (there’s plenty of everything for everyone under every circumstance) you don’t see giving away everything you know for free as an insult to your sense of value. You see it as an investment in a relationship with your audience who then start to see you as a trusted resource. After all, when an Unresolved Pain Point meets a trustworthy and valuable Saviour, it’s called Marketing Magic (which is slightly but not too different from Magic Mike!)

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