Are You Letting Your Competitors Decide Your Marketing?

competitionNothing in the world gets me as fired up as small businesses doing something to market their business because they’ve seen their competitors doing it. It happens so often that it’s like some deeply buried, embarrassing secret of all entrepreneurs.

Why A Copy Cat?

The major reason why I see this happening is because small business owners don’t really HAVE a business strategy or a plan that goes along with it. They not only don’t have it, they don’t really even know HOW to get one. They guess at their own target client profile. They rarely have a focus on what 1 thing they’re an expert in. They are unsure about where to go out and find clients. They are simply coasting by while doing what I sarcastically call the-trial-and-error marketing.

When you don’t know how to market your business, the best resource is to do what someone else is doing. Isn’t it? Wrong!

Competition Who?

In my world, if you are very focused on an ideal target group of clients and have a crystal clear expertise to offer to them. You don’t truly have competition. In addition, if you’ve differentiated your brand by virtue of using your own personality to put a stamp on your marketing and your business, there is simply no other business exactly like you.

When you have done the work to get the right strategy and plan in place, you are in a class of your own. That’s when you can stop looking at others for your own plan of action and blaze your own trail so others who don’t know what they’re doing can follow.

Be An Original

The number one way I know to be successful in this sea of competitors is to be different. You don’t have to be a creative genius to decide how to do that. Just be yourself and reject the tried and true way. Do it your way instead. Put some thought, get some help, ask your customers HOW to be different and how to continually generate customer centric marketing. What you focus on grows. When all you think about is being An Original, there is nothing that can stop you.

What About Tried And True Wisdom?

I want to point out that until you figure out your own way to do things, by all means adopt the commonly established rules of marketing. For example, offer an irresistible download on your homepage to collect lead information, blog often, public speak. You can do all those things but do them in line with your own niche, your own plan and in fitting with your own brand. That STILL doesn’t mean you should let your competitors dictate your web design, your ad copy or your marketing plan.

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 Internet Is Not Going To Save Your Business

funny-superheroes-3There are so many of us out there, so called marketing experts. I dare you to ask any one of us WHY we’re doing something and if they say ‘it’s expected in this industry’ or ‘it’s the latest and greatest technology’, then I say they can’t help you. However, if they have a great, customer driven reason for every single thing they are doing to help your business, then you should save that person’s card.

Here are some of the things that I see my clients expecting to save their business:

The Internet Is Not Your Saviour

I once had a client who built a whole marketing plan by doing great market research and refused to implement it because it was too hard to go to targeted networking events, and too hard to get speaking engagements at targeted venues and associations. She then upped and unbeknownst to me, hired an SEO specialist without even giving him the benefit of our target market, our research around keywords or any of the work we’d done to date. Half a year later, she’s still waiting for clients to come begging from her website to throw money at her to help them.

The internet isn’t going to save your business. Garbage in, garbage out. If you don’t know your strategy or do the research around keywords, you might as well not bother hiring an expert for anything online.

Social Media Isn’t The Next Best Thing To Sliced Bread

When I meet businesses spending a fortune on social media without doing the strategic work first to figure out who they should be connected to, what topics they need to blog about and how to actually drive sales from their social media streams, I get frustrated. After spending more than a few bucks on these ventures, so do these businesses. Social media is only one small piece of the puzzle. Unless you’ve got a solid direction for your business and a good idea of who exactly is your ideal golden target client, you will continue to waste time and money on this newfangled marketing tool.

Advertising Online or Off Won’t Flood You With Clients

Similar to clients who spend their brains out on SEO and social media and their website design, I see clients who dump all their funds into ads. The refrain I often hear is ‘I have no time to do face to face marketing so this does send a few people my way’. When you do the math, you are investing in a losing proposition. The reason most business owners don’t have or make the time for marketing is because they sorely need plans, systems and processes in place to get them to spend their hours more productively. Advertising rarely if ever is able to make up for those things that are missing in a business.

So please please please heed my advice and don’t skip actually investing in your strategy with someone who actually knows why you’re doing every piece of your plan and why you spend each dime to grow your business. “Just because” simply isn’t good enough anymore.

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

Love What People Criticize You Most For

self love dogAfter years of going to the I Can Do It! conference, I walked away from this year’s with this amazing insight. Ready for it?

Think about what people most often criticize you for. Most likely it’s what you beat yourself up the most for. Maybe it’s perfectionism, maybe it’s being too passive, maybe it’s giving too much, or talking too much. I learned at this weekend’s conference that that’s the exact thing that you’re supposed to embrace and love about yourself the most.

Here’s why…

Dying To Discover The Truth

I’ve been a fan of Anita Moorjani of the dying from cancer and coming back and writing a book fame. In her talk at the conference, she talked about the lessons that she learned while she was floating out there. The main thing that she learned was that we are exactly the way we’re supposed to be. No more, no less. It’s our reason for being here. Otherwise everyone would be the same. She said that people are miserable, living someone else’s expectations. And finally she said that we have to love that very trait that people criticize the most because it is the essence of who we are.

Why Do It

When Anita talked about how her lemon sized tumors along her lymphatic system spontaneously healed after her near death experience, she did it by simply loving who she was and recognizing the beauty in her own person. She said that nobody else’s opinion, expertise or thoughts about her or even her health mattered. Doctors doubted her healing so they kept dripping poisonous chemo into her even though the tumors had shrunk 70% within days. Didn’t matter what the doctors said or did to her, she knew she’d be ok. She just knew it.

Not loving who you are at your core robs you of the ability to heal, to cope and ultimately it inhibits your life. It even stops you from being able to fully love and accept others. Think about a world where you start to praise your spouse’s faults. How would your life change? How would theirs?

How To Do It

In the 2 years since I’ve had my coaching practice, I’ve often been accused of being too aggressive, too direct and too forward. I had come to terms with most of this but hearing Anita’s message really clinched it for me. I have been telling everyone I meet, all my clients and the audiences I speak to about this “new” thing. I catch myself slipping into self-criticism and I replace it with loving thoughts about why it’s so cool to be those very things that I used to hate about myself. I feel so relived. I can’t even describe the freedom. Even if I do change those so-called undesirable traits about myself, I’ll be changed because of loving my imperfections. As another amazing speaker Robert Holden put it, criticism doesn’t help. Love helps.

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

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