Fresh Buzz Tribe Blog
|Monday, Nov 01, 2010|
|Defining the Entrepreneur|
|By Martha Hanlon|
|Monday, Nov 01, 2010 09:09|
If Fresh Buzz Tribe calls itself the premier expert in entrepreneurial marketing, then we'd better know a thing or two about entrepreneurs.
Sometimes that starts as simply as a proper definition. We take a rather broad view around the term. The traditional definition bores us--founding an entity designed to make money. Ho hum. Too narrow and restrictive. We see entrepreneurship as more of a life concept, a dedication to a "way" of thinking and acting.
We all make choices in life. Some people love to paint-by-numbers. Others just love that blank canvas. When you paint by numbers, the end result is pretty much guaranteed short of a little paint that bleeds outside the lines. But you know what it's going to be. It might be good, but it will never be a masterpiece…and there could be a few hundred others out there just like it.
Starting with a blank canvas is the only way to get a true masterpiece…but you could also blowup. Yes, there's risk and pounds of ambiguity--which could be worse than dealing with the risk.
Are you the type who picks paint-by-numbers or the blank canvas? That feels more like a life question to us, not strictly a business question.
Now back to that risk and ambiguity comment. If you are truly an entrepreneur, I'm betting you can handle the risk. You know they are there. You can anticipate most. Others you can see coming. But you understand them. You love the blank canvas for all its possibilities even if the picture you paint might not live up to expectations. But then it just might be a masterpiece.
Ambiguity. Now that's another thing. The path to becoming an entrepreneur is very vague. You're making a lot up as you go. You can't predict the future so why try.
So there you go--be an entrepreneur and you've actually got less risk but more haziness.
As you transition from your W2 into the mind, body and spirit of an entrepreneur, you will feel a bit overwhelmed at times. You will feel like you have no idea what happens next. It's that ambiguity thing. You're not accustomed to it--yet. So part of our job is to take away that overwhelmed feeling, to eliminate the vagueness around your marketing. It's the least we can do.
Then you can move on to paint your masterpiece.
Can't wait to see it.
|Friday, Oct 29, 2010|
|Re-invent your Online Presence for Social Media Marketing|
|By Susan Raab|
|Friday, Oct 29, 2010 10:56|
As a savvy business owner, you know the need for a company website - and you probably already have one. But the growing rush of eyeballs to social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter means you need to establish an online presence there ahead of your competitors.
Before you simply cut-and-paste your About Us page into your Facebook profile, take a look at how you must transform your attitude before you can create an effective social media presence.
Don't Push, PULL.
On your website it's okay to say, "Sign up for my free report" because the visitor is on your turf. If you make the same offer on social media turf - while commenting on a blog post or a topic in LinkedIn Answers, for example - you'll cause a lot of eye-rolling and may find yourself publicly scolded, labeled as a clumsy newbie, or reviled as a spamming shark.
Show your leadership and PULL others to follow you. Lay out a solution to their problem, a shining path to success in content you publish in free videos, posts, updates, and tweets. Just make it easy for them to find your e-mail and website address so they CAN find out about your offerings when they're ready.
Don't Just Publish; PARTICIPATE.
You must interact with those you meet online. If you've set up the appropriate Google Alerts, you'll know whenever anyone anywhere on the web mentions you. And they expect you to respond. In fact, the more you make your presence felt, the more positively they'll perceive you and your brand.
Don't Blanket the Universe, DISCRIMINATE.
The social media landscape is almost unimaginably huge, and your resources are limited. So be strategic. Go where your customers are. Use Google Blogsearch, Twellow and other tools to find them. They'll recognize and appreciate your exclusive attention.
Don't Be Rude or Boring, CONVERSE.
Step 1 is to listen. What are they talking about? What matters to them? Then prove you've been listening by giving back and adding value. If someone says something you like, say so! An insightful compliment goes a long way.
To demonstrate your expertise, provide assistance and authoritative information. Point people to interesting resources like blog posts and videos - occasionally your own if they're relevant to the conversation. And that's the trick.
No one minds if you're a good leader and a good marketer, as long as you put the common good first. Show your leadership, your preeminence, by consistently putting the interests of others before your own. That's how to develop trust, a solid starting point for any business relationship.
An "expert's expert," Susan Raab helps you connect with new leads through social media, add prospects to your e-mail list at your web site, and then market information products and services to your list members via e-mail. She writes high-conversion "sales letter" landing pages, social media and e-mail campaigns as well as website copy. An author of best-selling books on sales and marketing and an award-winning corporate publisher, she can also help you create compelling information products to increase the lifetime value of your own clients.
|Monday, Oct 25, 2010|
|The Buffalo Have Moved|
|By Martha Hanlon|
|Monday, Oct 25, 2010 12:00|
Think back to one of your favorite western movies. There was probably at least one scene that went something like this--the settlers make friends with the local Indians. The local Indians teach the settlers about the land, how to find food and create shelter. Everyone is a great neighbor, coming over for cook-outs and games of pin the tail on the coyote. Then one day the settlers stop by and the Indians are gone. Pulled up stacks. Not a trace. What happened?
Probably the Indians moved on and survived, and the settlers got wiped out by hunger and nature. It's that kind of movie.
Well, the same thing is happening to many of you right now. You're like the settlers. You've "settled" in one place with your business, grooved on what you do, who you do it for and how you do it. Yet the world has changed--your clients, your market and toss the economy in there, too. Everything's changed…but you. Not good.
Now let's take a look at the Indians. They survived. Frankly, they thrived because they moved, and they moved because the buffalo moved. Their source of sustenance went somewhere else and they followed.
And that's exactly what you need to do right now. Move. Follow your buffalo because they aren't where they used to be. Follow your sustenance.
Time to Reinvent
You need to move, change, reinvent yourself more than a little.
But it's hard to think of yourself in new ways. We know too much and overthink everything. So let me give you a guide to shake off your routine and regroove your groove.
For every action there is an equal reaction: For everything that goes down, something else is going up. What's going up in your market? Let me give you some examples:
- If you're a mortgage broker, there's not a ton of demand or ability to refinance homes. But the need for mortgage modifications is through the roof. Reinvent yourself as a specialist in mortgage modifications.
- Elective procedures usually are some of the first things people strike from their budget. If your primary source of income is from teeth whitening and laser skin care, that statement might add a few wrinkles. But people being laid off need to make a great, not good, impression in the next job interview to win the opening. Reinvent yourself as job applicant make-over expert. Whiten their teeth. Buff up their skin. Take 10 years off their age and help them get that new position.
Run to the opposite side of your market. I'm betting there's a hot spot waiting for you there.
Don't even think of taking that from me: There are certain products and services that you can't even pry away from people no matter what the economy. Do a little research and you'll find exactly what categories are growing. Here are a few and what you might be able to do with them:
- Personal care. That vast category includes everything from shaving cream to perfume to hairspray. From November 2007 to November 2008, U.S. sales of shampoo, acne treatments, skin care gift sets and grooming products increased by 18%, 14%, 11% and 15%, respectively, according to Karen Grant, senior beauty analyst at Port Washington, N.Y.-based market-research firm NPD Group. Consumers are even still spending beyond the necessities in the personal-care category, it seems. Year-over-year sales of Rescue® Pastilles have double. Seems we're addicted to natural stress relievers. Reinvent yourself to relieve stress. We have a bit to go around.
- Escape. You might not be able to fly to Paris but we're sure buying products that enable us to escape the reality of the recession. We'll do what we can to feel good. Reinvent yourself to help us feel good.
Ask your clients: Here's a novel idea. Ask your clients what they need right now. They might say "nothing". That's the natural reaction. But they do need something. They are buying something. You need to find out what that is and do it for them. Ask open-ended questions. Follow that question with one that takes them one step deeper. Do it again with that answer. Experience tells me that it takes at least three drill-downs to get to the real answer. Then go do it for them.
Get a fresh set of eyes: If all else fails, call in an expert, someone whose job is to help you see yourself as others see you. A marketing specialist is the best candidate for this assignment. We're skilled in finding the secret sauce that only you deliver to clients. When we find the core of your essence, we can apply it in new ways in markets that have demand.
Open your eyes: I there's a certain kind of person who's ready for this upheaval, this seismic change in all things marketing. It's the people who see themselves as winners, who create companies that are the best in the world. Not best-in-the-world as in Coca Coke-dominates-everything kind of way. But in an I'm-your-dry-cleaner-and-I-remembered-your-name-and-got-your-order-just-right-when-you-came-in kind of way.
But why the heck even put yourself through all of this turmoil?
Results. Right now. How novel.
It's going to change your business.
|Friday, Oct 22, 2010|
|Ride the Mighty Wave of Social Media|
|By Susan Raab|
|Friday, Oct 22, 2010 08:48|
Did you know 200,000 people per day are joining Facebook? Just this month--January 2009--they zoomed past 150,000,000 users. Even more remarkable, Facebook says half their users check into their accounts every day!
As free technologies like Facebook flatten geographic barriers, you have the revolutionary new power to reach out to new people and lead them--lead them to become new customers or repeat customers.
In this down economy, businesses are leading the stampede to social media because:
Ready to join the stampede? Great! Visit LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and open your free accounts.
- It's a proven web traffic generator. You can measure how many new leads it sends to your company's website.
- It increases your exposure to your target audience--they get to see you in action. It's easier than ever to find communities that share and support the same goals and values as your business. And when group members see you join in, collaborate, share ideas and give feedback, their interest and your conversion rates climb.
- It builds positive brand association and awareness. As you participate in these new networks and communities, you can use authentic conversations, sound and video to engage people in your vision like never before. This loyalty can turn a customer into a customer for life.
- It's measurable. You can track and analyze how many social-media driven leads join your mailing list or buy your products. You can see and understand your return on investment. And your investment is low because most of the tools are free.
- It connects you with partners. One of the fastest ways to grow your business is to "joint venture" with other businesses who already have a following in your target niche. You can find potential JV partners and get to know them more quickly via social media than waiting for the next tradeshow or association event.
But before you charge off, remember this is SOCIAL media--you must employ some etiquette and follow the ground rules. If you want to lead people online, you have to be a true, heartfelt leader, so…
Don't preach! The users are in control, and they're sick of traditional ads and marketing. You can destroy your online reputation pretty quickly with self-serving posts, and without a good reputation, no one will listen to you.
Be authentic. Share enough personal information to make the story of your commitment to your cause engaging and credible. Let your altruism and values show. Let people know why you care enough to help them.
Establish credibility. Share your expertise and knowledge. Share how you've helped others. Share opportunities to learn and grow. Add value and new ideas to the conversation.
Build relationships. Be free with your complements and encouragement. Notice what individuals in your target community are doing and get involved if you can. Recommend your new friends whenever possible--they'll return the favor.
Be strategic. Lay out a strategy for achieving your goals and stick to it. Temptations to try fun applications will abound; don't waste your professional time on them. Choose your new friends carefully. You'll be judged by your associations.
Be consistent. Set aside regular times to participate in your new communities. Keep yourself visible. Make sure your message always aligns with your purpose, the clients you serve, and the vision your business is bringing to life.
These skills may be new to you, but they should seem familiar. Even though with social media you'll learn a new way of conversing and connecting, find yourself in a world where news travels faster and in stranger ways than you can imagine, the reasons people gather around their common interests and causes hasn't changed at all. Show true leadership and they will follow you.
|Tuesday, Oct 19, 2010|
|The Hand Basket: Your Way Out of Economic Hard Times|
|By Martha Hanlon|
|Tuesday, Oct 19, 2010 11:55|
One of my good business colleagues is a CPA. We were talking several weeks ago, and he observed that way too many people think the economy is going to hell in a hand basket.
Based on what we've seen to date, it's hard to deny that hell might be in a hand basket, and one that seems pretty full right now. But here's what's really grabbed my attention--I've seen more than my fair share of small business owners who are thriving when, in theory, they shouldn't be.
Because they've seized that basket by its handle. They've made the basket their own by using this rough economic time to their advantage.
These industrious small business owners have realized that by adjusting what they do, they can turn their business from addressing the good times to succeeding in troubled times.
They are clever. They've examined their strengths in a different light, the light of an economy going in the other direction to adjust their company to meet today's client needs.
Let me show you what I mean. At Fresh Buzz Tribe, one of our clients is a lawyer who specializes in worker's compensation. While worker's compensation claims usually go up during economic downturns, by rethinking his practice, he anticipates a four-fold increase in his billings. He sees his "new" Hand Basket -- companies historically overpay worker's compensation in 80 to 90% of the settled claims. Those are pretty well documented numbers. In the past, companies probably didn't want to save that money as the hassle wasn't worth it. Now it is. So our lawyer is showing them exactly where they can stop the overpayments at a time when they cannot afford to overpay. BAM…up goes his billings.
Here's another example. Real estate isn't flying off the shelves these days. Yet a realtor we know has discovered her Hand Basket for these economic times. She wants to buy good quality houses in short sale. To do that and get the houses before everyone else sees it, she started a mortgage modification business. Mortgage mod is hot right now…the perfect economic Hand Basket. But remember mortgage mod is not her end game. She wants to buy houses on a short sale. So here's how her Hand Basket comes together. By working with clients to modify their mortgage, she is also finding people who want to sell their investments or personal homes on a short sale.
Now you know what my question is to you: "What is your Hand Basket for this economy?"
Develop Your Own Hand Basket
How can you modify your business, get out of the groove that has worked for you in the past and adjust to perfectly fit what people need right now?
First, let's recognize the types of products and services that struggle when people are strapped for cash or are simply cautious about their spending. The big ones are expensive, luxury items and anything that could be considered a non-necessity. If what you offer isn't totally necessary in our daily lives, then your products or services are candidates for a sales decline.
Next, you need to examine the groove your business has gotten into. Hey, it happens to all of us. Things are going well. We focus in and off we go. All of our systems are locked into a particular way of meeting the market that served us well in a strong market. All of our employees are tracked and rewarded to execute that direction. It's not that we've stopped thinking about our business. It's just that we've created a habit--a habit that worked in the good times but now it needs to change. Recognizing the habit is the next step to finding your Hand Basket.
If you offer a necessary product or service, you need to be even more necessary right now. You need to help your clients understand that what you offer is in the "must have" hierarchy of needs. And you need to do one more thing. I should get that "must have" from you. There are others out there who offer what you offer. Why should they choose you? You must deliver a benefit to your clients that they must have. The benefit is delivered to them because you are different than everybody else out there that does what you do. If everyone is alike, then we make our buying decision based on price--and that is surely not the place any of us want to be. This is the key--it's the benefit that your clients are buying. The benefit arrives in a container marked "I'm different". Some people call this your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). I've never been fond of that term as it's all about you selling when in reality the right way to look at it is that it's all about the client buying.
Let's go back to my mortgage modification client. There are a lot of people offering such services. What makes her different is that, in addition to the mortgage mod, she can also help you determine what your house is worth and what it could sell for if you need to or decide to go that route. You don't have to work with two people with opposing ideas. That's a winner for her clients.
Don't have a necessary product? You need to make your luxury a necessity. How can your non-necessary products and services become a "must-have"? It's clear that luxury items and non-necessities are the first things to be cut, even if just for awhile. We're a buying people and many behaviorists are wondering how long the American public can curb its buying habits. That said, let's not wait for that to happen. Let's grab your Basket by its Handle. It's time to rethink the reason why people use your service.
I was noodling just this idea several weeks ago with a dentist. While he's a necessity when we have a tooth ache, that's not the revenue model on which his business is built. He makes his money on cosmetic dentistry, exactly the type of expenditure that consumers cut first. How could this classic luxury item be turned into a necessity? Here's our thought--there will be a whole lot of older employees laid off or returning to the work force. They will be in competition for jobs with younger folks. Let's be frank--they'll need to look younger to get those jobs. Yellowing teeth. Not good. So our dentist friend could team up with Outplacement companies to offer teeth whitening for people in the job hunt. A luxury becomes a necessity. And our dentist has a new Hand Basket.
What's In Your Hand Basket?
It's time your business developed its new Hand Basket. How do you make your business invaluable during tough times? Make your business something I "must have". Almost every business has a Hand Basket just to thrive in this economy. Your job is to shrug off your groove, get out of how you've looked at your business for years during the good times, and invert your thinking to make your business a "must have" during must have times.
If the economy is going to hell in a hand basket, make that Hand Basket yours!
|Friday, Oct 15, 2010|
|Persistent or Annoying?|
|By Martha Hanlon|
|Friday, Oct 15, 2010 10:41|
|Persistent or Annoying?|
One of the most frequently heard statements small business owners say to me when I'm working with them on their marketing is, “I don't want to be annoying.” Usually they say this at the thought of sending out a second email or making a follow-up phone call.
When it comes to your marketing, there's a big difference between persistence and pushiness.
Or is there?
One thing we know about this market is that it's taking more interaction with a prospect before they become a client. It doesn't matter what type of service we're talking about, people are taking a little longer and investigating more thoroughly before spending their money.
We know there's more competition for those prospects. And we know that the growing competition is making more noise. Plus your prospects have built a deflector shield to ward off messages.
So let me sum this up—your prospects are taking longer to decide, there's more competition, and tons more messages to “buy from me”. And through that din you're satisfied that your prospect doesn't want to work with you after you've emailed or called them once, maybe twice?
I don't think so.
You aren't being annoying. You're providing valuable, decision-making information when you talk to your prospects. Marketing…and sales…is about building relationships, not about being annoying. You must be prepared to *touch* your prospect and do it again, and again.
Here are some ways to make your contacts more productive for you and your prospect:
- Everyone has a preferred method of communications. I love email. My business partner prefers phone calls. How does your target prospect want to be contacted? Find out and use that method.
- Several *touches* in a tight time frame enables your prospect to “see” you faster. The market noise is so loud that your prospect can't remember who you are if you go too long between contacts. Three emails in one week are usually better than 3 emails over 3 months. With the latter, you're starting over each time you send something out. They don't remember you.
- If you're communicating by email or flyer—something written—keep the message simple. What do you want them to do? Make it obvious so they aren't struggling through dense copy, or worse, simply throwing it out.
- Share WHY you do with you do. What's your motivation, your passion? People don't buy WHAT you do. They buy WHY you do it. There are lots of computer makers out there. People buy from Apple because they love their passion. They relate to Apple's WHY. It's their WHY, too. What's your WHY? Tell them.
If marketing is about building a relationship to turn a prospect into a client, relationships aren't built overnight. It's rare—and kind of spooky—to meet someone, fall in love and get married based on the first encounter. If you wouldn't marry someone after you met them once, what makes you think a prospect will “marry” you and become your client after one encounter?
Persistence and consistent. Embrace those two words when you're marketing. You're not being annoying. You're building a relationship.