Archive for May, 2011

May
31

When Life Hands You Lemons…

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You Make Lemonade!

Sometimes things don’t go quite as you plan… and how you handle life’s little SNAFU’s translates into a good small business marketing strategy…

On May 20th I headed to Newark Airport, bags packed, super excited to be going to London, then to northern England to visit with my parents who were headed to meet us at a rented cottage in Clitheroe – a tiny, rural area just north of Manchester, England.

Alas, our trip was not to be… as life would have it, a snag interrupted our ‘check-in’ process. As the interruption hit, I framed the only question I knew would get me the ‘cut to the chase’ answer, “What can we do about this?” (This is a great question when you are faced with something you want or need to work on changing… helps get everyone thinking about a solution.)

The answer? Nothing.

Deep breath.

30 minutes with the nicest, sweetest Continental employee ever, and we had information in hand to help us remedy the problem within the next 3 days… which kind of ruins a 10 day excursion. And, must say, I love my smart phone… quick message and email to my parents, sleeping 5 hours ahead, “We didn’t fly to London,” quick call to a close friend who knows everything about travel, “Can you check to see if there are any other options?” And, finally a call to the car service, “Can you pick us up at Departures?… Yes, departures…. I don’t have an arriving flight number – I just arrived in one of your cars.”

A full 4 hours and several hundred dollars later, we were back at home, ordering a late dinner and trying to figure out what to do next.

We woke up the next morning, thinking we would just resume ‘life as usual’, but after some conversation we decided we really did need that vacation. Within minutes I’d found a great website on house rentals in the Outer Banks of North Carolina (OBX for short – I’d never been and thought it would be fun), contacted the rental company and made a low-ball offer (heck, it was already Saturday, not likely they’d get anything for the week, so thought it was worth a shot).

Not even an hour later, with the offer accepted, we were tearing around, yanking fleeces out of our suitcases and shoving in shorts and bathing suits. Not even 24 hours from our original ‘SNAFU’ we were on the road to Rodanthe, NC!

So, what does all this have to do with your small business and your life as an entrepreneur? Sometimes life is going to throw you a curve ball… and when it does, how you respond will have a lot to do with your overall success.

You can have your moment of disappointment and grief over what might have been, but keep it brief. Then, it’s time to take those lemons and make lemonade…

So, while we were supposed to spend 10 days in England, instead we had a blast on a road trip, spent the week hanging out at the beach (incredible Sound front house for less than a bargain-style hotel for the week!), and I got to try Kite Boarding – something I’ve wanted to try for years (there’s a picture below of me and my instructor Sarah from Kitty Hawk Kites). It was relaxing, refreshing and a total blast.

Not at all what we’d planned, but worked out beautifully just the same.

Now, take a look at your business and your life… what lemons have shown up lately? How can you find a way to turn them into lemonade?

Here are a few pics of the view, the house and the kite boarding…

This one is from the back deck, looking north.

The back deck at sunset – you can see the walkway out to the sound.

The view of a couple of the kite boarders from the houses nearby.

View of the house from the Sound.

It’s hard to tell, but that’s me holding the kite. Didn’t quite get up on the board during the lesson, but will definitely be trying again – it was so much fun!


May
26

How To Market A Small Business: Q & A Thursday

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In today’s Q & A Thursday we’re going to talk about a question that comes in pretty frequently, in various formats, including, “How to market a small business?”

First, let’s talk about the concept of a ‘small business’ vs any other type of business.

There’s this idea that somehow, because you’re ‘small’ or a ‘solo-entrepreneur’ or you don’t make $100k yet that you have different marketing needs than other businesses. While you may be at a different stage in business, most of the fundamentals of marketing will still apply – in fact, you are even more likely than most big businesses to have the opportunity to take better care of your marketing. So, while most things will be similar, there are a couple of things we can discuss from that perspective.

The most important difference is that it is imperative to small and growing businesses that we market SMARTER than other businesses.

We have to market smarter because we may have less resources, in terms of money, team members and the like, but what we do have is the time to figure it out and the ability to really dig in and learn what works and what doesn’t. So let’s first address what doesn’t work…

‘Madison Avenue’ style advertising generally doesn’t work.
Kitchy, cute or funny taglines, videos or ads don’t necessarily work (there’s more to it than entertaining and being memorable).
Throwing your crap at the wall by shoving your message into as many faces as possible doesn’t work very well, and might not work at all.

So, what’s a small business owner or entrepreneur to do?

Get down and figure it out.

Let’s look at each of these and why they aren’t the best bet – so this is how you will be behaving differently that many big businesses, that have big budgets…

  1. Instead of ‘Madison Avenue’ style advertising (like a woman laying, scantily clad, on a beach with a small picture of a bottle for some perfume on the bottom corner of the page), you want to use advertising and marketing that EDUCATES your prospects on what desire you can meet or what problem you can solve. Ads with lots of text sell, and they sell well.Image ads? No one really knows – they cost a fortune, and generally serve to build ‘brand awareness’, but how many times have you looked at one of those ads and said, “Oh my gosh – I HAVE to get that right now!” That’s the response you want from the targeted people who see your marketing/advertising.
  2. Tag lines are extremely important – but they need to speak to a benefit that your product or service delivers, and, even more specifically, they need to address a benefit that your target prospect REALLY REALLY wants.It can’t be something they only care about a little bit. It’s got to satisfy something important. It’s your 2-3 second chance to land your message and make them want to know more.
  3. Reaching ‘many eye balls’ seems like a good practice – in theory… but what if I told you that you just won $1000 dollars to spend on direct mail marketing. Would you rather send that direct mail piece to any old household in a suburban area and hit maybe 10-20% of the people who are your target prospect – so 80-90% of the people couldn’t or wouldn’t use what you offer at all? You’ve wasted 80-90% of the money, and you probably won’t have enough coming in to even try again.Or would you rather identify that most of the people who buy from you turn out to be married men, between the ages of 50 and 65 who own their home and have children in college? Now, you can send that direct mail piece to only the people who can be identified as fitting that description (using one of the many list services available). Now, closer to 80 or 85% of the mail delivered will land in the hands of someone who is much more likely to want and use your product or service.Now you’re chances of making money on that mailer are significantly higher. ‘Many eye-balls’ is relative – you can lose money on your efforts, or you can hit the right people and make money – it’s your choice.

A couple of weeks ago I offered free access to a Target Market exercise download. If you haven’t already, you need to get it. You can do that here.

You need to get clear on who your target market is, what they want and need that you can provide and how to share that with them, which is, essentially, your message (that ‘benefit’ driven tag line). THEN you can figure out what kind of media you want to use (social media, email, direct mail, post cards, banners, billboards, magazines – you get the idea).

So, when we start to get clear on how to market a small business, we have to simply start with the basics.  Once you have them in place, your next step is to plan and layout strategies to reach the right people with your properly identified message.


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What’s the ‘dirty little secret’ that is so essential to your small business marketing strategy?

It’s something that a lot of entrepreneurs avoid like the plague.

It’s something that, quite ironically, can feel like a massive rusting, jangling cast-iron ball and chain.

We think that way because, as entrepreneurs we are huge seekers of FREEDOM (it’s one of our most important driving factors), and we think this ‘thing’ will drag us down like a pair of cement boots in the Hudson River.

And, I guess, now that I think about it, maybe it’s not so much of a ‘secret’ as it is a ‘red-headed step child’ based on the fact that we probably KNOW we need it, but pretty much get glassy-eyed and zoned out, or even run from the room when it comes up…

What is that ‘dirty little secret’?

It is SYSTEMS.

Yup. I said it… And you need them. Probably quite a few of them.

Why do you need them?

It’s quite simple really. Systems are THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS.

You might want to hear something else… You might want to believe that you can just be happy, float around cheering yourself and other people on, ‘living your authentic you’ and the money will magically start to float down from the heavens onto your head. While those things are extremely important (if you know me, you know I’m a big believer in Law of Attraction and feel that if something isn’t your passion you have no business doing it, but I’m serious here, so stick with me), it is equally as important to have systems to keep you on track, keep you consistent, and most importantly to build the foundation for your marketing strategies.

I have been thinking about, building and talking about systems for most of my life. Sometimes it feels natural and sometimes it doesn’t. I went for a few years ‘bucking the system’ too – refusing to have anything to do with systems, refusing to be consistent, refusing to do things ‘regularly’.

Where do you think that got me?

Absolutely NOWHERE.

So, if you’re ready to get serious about building your bad-ass business and opening the floodgates to some serious profit, you need to take a long hard look at your systems.

What should your systems include?

Here’s a short list… it’s not inclusive, some businesses need more, most won’t need less… but the bottom line is, every business needs them. And the businesses that make money – GOOD money, 6 and 7 figure money – have GREAT systems…

1. Planning Systems (No, you won’t get a pox from planning, so you don’t have to keep avoiding it!)

2. Product/Service Development Systems (if you plan these out, they’ll be congruent, they’ll make sense, and they’ll grow, along with your customer base…)

3. Marketing Systems (like this blog – if you make it into a system, it becomes a part of your marketing efforts and, believe it or not, gets EASIER to keep up with because you have themes, plans, a checklist to follow, etc)

4. Sales Systems (like scripts, yes, they’re GOOD for you…)

5. Follow-Up Systems (Your business’ biggest asset is your existing customers, and it’s one of those things many of us ignore…)

And, as I mentioned, you probably need several more.

If you aren’t sure what systems you need to put in place or how to go about doing it, you may want to check out this new program I’m doing with a simply AMAZING entrepreneur, named Lindsay Vastola, who has grown her business to multiple six-figures with systems and she now gets to do things like take off for Italy for 3 weeks without having to worry if her business will keep running.

The program is called Six Figure Systems – we chose that name because we both believe that getting to that milestone becomes not only plausible, but downright simple when you have the right systems.

Bottom line? Effective Systems + Accountability = Insane Profits and Ultimate Freedom

And, just so you know, several people have told me we are WAY undercharging for the program… two people told me we should TRIPLE the price! Lindsay and I wanted to make sure that someone with just about any size business could get involved, so you should definitely check it out.


May
19

Q & A Thursday: Twitter Marketing Tips

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For our first Q & A Thursday we have a question about Twitter:

Question:

Julie asks, “How can you get your tweets to stand out among the sea of tweets that people receive?”

Answer:

The answer to this question is similar to the answer to questions about how to get your marketing messages noticed in all different kinds of media. Twitter can be a very successful from of media when used correctly – which really isn’t too hard to do…

1. It’s About What THEY Want: The way you get noticed is you make sure that your tweets (or marketing message anywhere, really) is all about something your target market wants to know more about. You want to make sure you lead with a benefit that your prospect on Twitter wants, and wants BAD. The more it is something they have a keen and intense desire for the more likely they will be to notice the tweet and click on a link. (By the way, you should be including links to lots of great content and information that you are sharing… that’s what you’re doing, right?)

2. Make It About THEM: Use ‘You’ in your tweets – make it about THEM, what THEYare experiencing, what THEY want, what THEY need and what clicking through will do for THEM. It’s not about you. It’s about THEM.

3. Make it Frequent: Because of the speed with which most things fly through people’s Twitter feed, you need to post your tweets and links more than once. Generally you can’t post a duplicate tweet within a short period of time, but you can paste the same tweet into the text box and then change up the words a bit and schedule the tweets to go out a few times a day over the course of several days. That way the people who are on Twitter at any given moment will have a chance of seeing it if they are watching their Twitter feed.

4. Get Listed: You want to get listed as many times as possible – what does that mean? A list is a sub-set of Twitter users that someone follows. I have a variety of lists, including friends, peers, other marketers, people I want to build relationships with, people who’ve purchased my products etc. When you are on someone’s list, it is like being on their ‘short’ list – the short list of tweeters and tweets they are most likely to read. How do you get listed? Share great content and people will notice. When they do, and they decide they like you, the’ll add you to a list. If you retweet them often, or interact with them, they will be likely to add you to a list as well.

If you want some more tips about what makes for great content on Twitter, how to use Twitter more effectively for marketing and sales and on how to use my FAVORITE Twitter tool, Hootsuite, check out the FREE webinar here: Twitter Selling Secrets

Next Q & A Thursday:

Do you have a question for Payson? Submit it here and it could be selected for Q & A Thursday!


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The Domino Project (one of master marketer and brilliant author Seth Godin’s projects) is sharing a free e-book right now (and, you can get a free digital book (Kindle, Nook, etc.)  in addition to the free ebook if you check it out before May 20, 2011) that is incredibly inspiring and motivational. So much so that I wanted to dedicate this week’s blog post to a quote from the 5th page.

It’s a remarkable collection of entrepreneurs’, artists’ and individuals’ stories about doing their important work, regardless of the obstacles and in the face of tremendous resistance – the things that stop most people, most of the time.

Here’s the quote:

“Everyone has their walls to scale, hills to climb and hurdles to leap. We’ve all faced struggles that would seem to be the end of us, times in life when we literally fall on bended knee, certain that we have no more to give. The facing of hard times and overcoming is relative. But I’ve had it taught to me that the strength, the dignity, the integrity and the success of it all is in the attempt. You don’t have to be better than everyone else. Truth is you may not be. But the “trying” is noble.” – Steve Gordon Jr.

This practically brought tears to my eyes (yeah, I’m a softy…).

Check out this amazing free gift, there’s no sign-up or anything – it’s just yours for the taking. It has the capacity to completely change your life if you give it the chance.

From the new FREE ebook from The Domino Project: http://www.thedominoproject.com/2011/05/no-idling.html


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