Client Relations through Social Networking

It’s incredible how quickly social networking has become so integrated in our lives, but a majority of people do not use it to its full potential.  Using social networking to help grow your business and allow you to be successful is pretty simple and inexpensive compared to other forms of reaching out and advertising.

There are many benefits to using social networking to reach out to current and potential clients.  Since computers and automated systems have taken over a majority of the customer service process within companies, it’s a major benefit to show that you are still a REAL PERSON working with your customers.  Social networking is a superb way to let your clients know that you are a real person and to interact with them.

Interacting with clients through social networking allows them to feel that they are getting quality one-on-one attention.  Psychologically, people want to feel that their needs are being met and they are valued by others around them.  With social networking, you can build those relationships with your clients and are able to show that they are worth your time and energy.

Many people are on Facebook and Twitter (and other social networking sites), so take advantage of that.  Don’t rebuild the wheel; use the networks that already exist.  Inserting your name and your business into a network that already exists and functions successfully will save you a lot of frustration and energy.

Another major advantage is that you are able to just post a status (or even a tweet, which is 160 characters) to reach out to your entire network at once.  A lot of people even have their social networks connected on their phones, so you will be able to reach them at any moment in time, no matter where they are.  With a website, you will have to have someone who understands HTML coding/Wordpress (or something similar) and it takes a lot of time to update every time there is a change.  It doesn’t take much time at all to write a sentence or two and send it to your entire network at once.

There are so many types of social networking and so many ways to use them.  I have already talked about Facebook and Twitter, which are the more popular forms of social networking.  Another way to incorporate social networking is to make a blog page.  You can write articles relating to your business and/or industry that would be beneficial to your potential and current customers.  It is a great way to show up in search engines and spread your name to more people.

You can also link your different social networking outlets to each other, so people are able to just click on a link and go from your Twitter account to your Facebook to your blog to your website, etc.  A blog is a great way to compliment your website.  Websites tend to stay the same because it takes a lot of time and effort to change them.  It is not cost-effective to be changing it on a daily or weekly basis.  Having a blog gives you the opportunity to give a current update on different things you are doing or share your thoughts on particular issues relating to your business/industry.

Since so many people already use social networking, use it to your advantage!  Take the time to initially set up your different outlets and to update them regularly.  Putting in that little extra effort will help to set you apart and allow you to stand out to potential clients.

30 Days to Successful Networking

You have spent a lot of money and energy to advertise your business, but nothing seems to build your client base or reputation within the community!  You want to scream at the top of your lungs from the tallest building or pull your hair out from frustration (or maybe you already have).  The problem with those particular options is that it still won’t build your client base or reputation.  🙂

However, I have a 30 day solution that will help solve those problems, and it only takes a few minutes of your time every day!

You’ll either want to print this out so you can refer to it daily over the next 30 days, or else go through the next 30 days and note each one in your daily schedule.  Either way, just jump in and follow the 30 day plan outlined below, and you’ll be well on your way!

Day 1. Introduce yourself to three new people today.

Day 2. Send an email to two people in your network to keep building that relationship.  Ask about a common interest, their family, etc.  Make sure it’s genuine.

Day 3. Ask a family member or friend about their day, and be genuinely interested and actively listen to their response.

Day 4. Make a list of five things you have to offer others.

Day 5. Listen to someone tell you a story/talk about their day without interrupting or giving advice.  JUST LISTEN!

Day 6. Find two things you have in common with another person.

Day 7. Write down the top ten things you want to gain for yourself/your business through networking.

Day 8. Today, introduce two people to each other (either because of a common interest or you feel there is a benefit to them knowing each other).  Connecting people is a great shortcut to growing your network more quickly, because you soon become known as the person who knows everyone, and who everyone knows! This builds your credibility and authority big time!

Day 9. Smile at five people today.  You can then introduce yourself and begin a conversation, when appropriate. Do it again tomorrow. Make it a habit.

Day 10. Go to a networking event.  Your goal should be to meet and get to know at least three new people.  This allows your network to grow by three (and you gain access to their networks as well).

Day 11. Put seven to ten business cards in your wallet or purse.  It’s a good idea to always carry at least seven business cards with you EVERYWHERE! You never know when you will want to hand one out.

Day 12. Look up one article related to your business every day.  If it would benefit someone else in your network, share it with them as well that day.  This opens the opportunity for them to send you an article that may be very beneficial.

Day 13. When you hand out your business card to at least 3 new people today, hand each of them two or three cards. When they say “Oops, you gave me an extra one (or two)” just smile and say “Yep, you can share that one with a friend who could use it.” 🙂

Day 14. Call three people you know today, chat with them, find out how things are going in their world, and towards the end of the conversation say something along the lines of “I don’t know if you can help me out or not, but who do you know that …” and fill it in with what kind of referrals you’re looking for.

First off, people love to be able to “help you out” and secondly, using the phrase “Who do you know…” rather than “Do you know anyone who…” puts their brain into a different gear. When you say “Do you know anyone who…” their brain searches for an answer quickly, and the answer to the question is either yes or no. Most typically the answer is “No, I don’t know anyone who…”   However, when you say “Who do you know?” their brain goes into a different search mode, looking for the answer to the question “Who?” rather than the immediate Yes vs. No, so they’re more likely to come up with an answer.

Day 15. Today create a calendar of holidays that you want to send out professional greeting cards to your friends and associates. Include at least one different and obscure holiday that would be unexpected.  http://holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/index.htm

Include more than one during the year if that’s your personality. For example, in September there’s “Talk like a Pirate” Day. J Be sure to include any holidays that relate to your business – like Sept 16 is Working Parents Day and January is National Hobby Month and June 4th is Hug Your Cat Day.

Day 16. Today make a plan to mail out 5 Thank You or Gratitude or Thinking of You cards per week.  That’s only one per workday.

People love real mail that’s not bills. It will make you stand out because people don’t receive letters or notes or cards anymore now that email and texting is so prevalent. And it will reposition you at the top of their mind again.

Day 17. On your computer, create a simple card for your obscure holiday(s), or better yet, have your teenager do it for you. 🙂

Day 18. Buy a box of business appropriate cards for the next holiday that’s coming up within the next month or two. Maybe Halloween/Thanksgiving/Valentine’s Day/Easter/Fourth of July/Cinco de Mayo/etc.

When you are preparing your 5 thank you/thinking of you cards per week, go ahead and prepare and address the next upcoming holiday card as well as the obscure holiday. Keep them each in a separate stack. This way, the week before the holiday, you have a stack of cards that you can just stick a stamp on, and mail out.

People will be pleasantly surprised, because they don’t expect to receive a card. They’re impressed that you thought of them, and you stay at the forefront of their mind. This system will set it up so that at least 3 times a year they are getting an unexpected card from you when other people aren’t sending out cards to them. (1st the Thank You/Thinking of You card, 2nd the next upcoming holiday, 3rd the obscure holiday.)

Day 19. Instead of sending Christmas cards, send Thanksgiving cards. They don’t get lost in the pile of other holiday cards that the recipient gets, it stands out, and it comes before any of the others start showing up in December.

Day 20. If it’s too late for Thanksgiving cards, send out Happy New Year’s cards. Again, it’s different; you stand out. It doesn’t come in the sea of other cards…And it impresses them that you took the time and energy and that you’re thinking of them.

Day 21. Start your own group around your interests and business. If you’re a caterer, you could start an “Simple Entertaining at Home” group that meets once or twice a month whereby you talk about easy ways to entertain, have parties or get-togethers, and/or simple entertaining food ideas that make you look like you spent a fortune and slaved away in the kitchen. Since people who entertain a lot are your ideal audience, becoming visible and developing credibility in that circle of people will help build your business and allow you to network with potential clients and give you an instant referral network that can tell people how great you are at what you do.

Day 22. Make a daily/weekly plan.  Write it down!  It only takes 10-15 minutes to write down your plan for the week, but it holds you accountable to get those things done.  Pick one of these tips for each day, and write down which one you are going to do for the week.

Day 23. Write down 5 goals for your business that you want to accomplish by this time next year.  That gives you 365 days to reach those 5 goals.  Pin them to your bulletin board; tape it on your mirror; write them in your planner; keep them where you will see them every day.

Day 24. Take your 5 goals and write down a couple things you can do to reach those goals or use networking to your advantage.  Again, writing it all down helps you put your plan into action!

Day 25. Use 5 new peoples’ names today.  For example, if you run into one of the parents of your kid’s friends, start the conversation with their name.  You meet so many people throughout your day that you may not remember every single person you meet.

Remembering someone’s name shows that you have taken an interest in them.  They will feel like you listen and have paid attention to them, and you will form a stronger networking bond with that individual.

I think it was Dale Carnegie who said something like “The sweetest sound to someone is their own name.”

Day 26. Let another person “win” today.  We have all been in some sort of group setting where the answer to the problem seems so obvious, yet everyone is talking around it.  When they finally get to the answer and decide it’s the best option, they all want to claim that they came up with it.  Let them!  Enjoy the process and know that the end result is what matters.  People will think of you as a great asset to the group rather than the person who just brings negativity.

Day 27. Give someone a “compliment sandwich” today.  Knowing how to give feedback to people you associate with is sometimes very difficult, but it needs to be done.  Whether it is your professional or personal network, here is a great tip to get started.  Start with a compliment, but you must be sincere: “That video that you used really helped to make your point.”  Then, you give the feedback/criticism: “I think you could have been more interactive when speaking to the audience though.”  Finally, you end with another sincere compliment: “Overall, it was obvious that you love sharing your expertise about the topic.”

Day 28. Make a Facebook/Twitter page for your business.  Social networking is a free and easy way to start building a network quickly for your business.  If you already have one, look to see if any information needs to be updated.  All it takes is someone clicking the “Like” button on Facebook or the “Follow” button on Twitter, and you have access to that person.  You can post status updates and tweets about anything.  People are all about the Internet, but Facebook & Twitter are two sites that still allow that personal touch.  It allows people to still feel like they are doing business with another person rather than a computer.

Day 29. Start liking or following other pages.  Choose 5 new pages to like/follow today.  A friend of mine is a photographer, but she is just starting out.  She has “liked” some other local photographers’ pages, and she has gotten some great advice from them.  Also, if one photographer is booked or needs a second photographer to help out with a particular event, my friend has been able to take advantage of those opportunities.  This gives her experience and sample photos to display and build her reputation.

Day 30. Reorder your business cards, because by now, you should have given away nearly all the ones you had. Now’s the time to tweak it and make changes to it to add the oomph and power to your card that will allow it to be more effective for you.

Here is a bonus:

Day 31. Do it all over again for the next 30 days, starting with tip # 1 again!

I guarantee that if you follow this 30 day plan, by the end of a month you’ll have met a ton of new people, but more importantly – a lot of new people will know who you are and what you do.

If you’re ready to turn those everyday conversations into lifelong clients and referral sources, you’ll want to order my “Turn Conversations Into Clients” in-depth training program.  Check it out at

http://abetteryoucoach.com/products-services/c2c/ and see if it resonates with you!

Make it Great!

I’d love for you to leave a comment below sharing your most successful networking tips and stories with us. Can’t wait to hear – Please share!

Networking Do’s and Don’ts

Have you ever felt that you didn’t belong in a particular situation?  Say you are married and you go out with a few of your single friends for an evening.  You may feel uncomfortable and decide that you don’t belong.  It doesn’t make for a very fun evening.  Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with your business and networking.

There are going to be times that you are outside of your element, but you need to make the best of any situation.  When you are at a networking event, you may feel that same feeling you did when you were the only married one out of your group of friends.  The good thing is:  It’s always your choice to make the best or worst of the situation!

I have compiled a starting list for you to consider:

DO’S:

-Keep in contact with your network.

It is important to stay fresh in the minds of who you are networking with.  Sending a holiday card or an e-mail to ask how their kids’ sports teams are doing are a few ways to keep in contact with your network on a genuine basis.

-Build relationships, not expectations

Be genuine, and get to know the people in your network.  Building a relationship with a person is way more valuable than networking with them and expecting something in return.

-Make a good first impression

First impressions are very important; we hear that constantly.  It applies to your networking goals as well.  No matter what you do, the first impression someone gets is everlasting!  Make it a good one.

-Dress for success

You may be comfortable wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and your business may allow you to do so.  If you are attending a networking event where people are looking more professional, you should too!  Taking the time to make yourself look your best will help you portray confidence.  People seek out confident people to network with, so be that person everyone is seeking out!

-Fake it till you make it.

If you’re intimidated or shy or hesitant to get involved or start a conversation, pretend like you’re a friendly, outgoing and confident person and do it anyway. As a former shy person, I’ve used this strategy hundreds of times over the course of my life to help me move forward and make connections. I used to say to myself “Pretend like you’re a friendly and outgoing person, and you will be a friendly and outgoing person.”

I even used this tactic when I was younger and put in charge of running my own branch (and later, district) office. I’d tell myself “Pretend like you’re a district manager, and you’ll be a district manager. People coming in here to apply for a position don’t see you as anything but professional and in charge. They have no idea you’re uncomfortable unless you telegraph that.”

And guess what? It worked. I ran a successful branch and district office. I had the respect of my people as well as my peers and superiors in the business. All because I did what I needed to do, I was good at it, and I didn’t telegraph my discomfort and lack of confidence.

And the bonus was that the longer I “pretended” to be confident, the easier it was to forget I was “pretending.” Then I wasn’t pretending anymore – I actually was confident and successful.

So … take it, use it, own that phrase: Fake it till you make it. It works!

DON’TS:

-Don’t be a business card collector

It’s great to have business cards for people in your network, and it’s a great idea to give out your business card when networking with others.  Just don’t collect business cards.  Take the time to form a genuine relationship with the people you are meeting.  If you have nothing in common or don’t see a mutual benefit from being a part of each other’s networks, don’t exchange business cards.

-Don’t talk about yourself all the time

No one likes a self-centered person who focuses on themselves the entire time.  People will actually be drawn to you more if you listen to them talk about themselves.  Taking the time to listen to another person talk and showing interest in what they are saying is way more valuable than talking about yourself the entire time.  After all, we were given two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we talk.

-Don’t expect anything from people

Networking will benefit you in the long run, but it should not be your immediate goal.  Building a network and connecting other people is just as important.  If you are the type of networker who makes connections between two other people, they will keep you in mind when they are trying to do the same.

-Don’t wait for someone to talk to you

Take the initiative!  Go talk to them!  Put yourself out there and meet people.  The girls gathered in the corner with their friends at the high school dance are not the ones that the guy asks to dance with him.  He asks the girl out in the middle of the dance floor making the best of the night.

-DON’T BE SHY!!!

Along the same lines, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  You have nothing to lose, only something to gain.  Put a smile on your face, be confident, and don’t be shy! And if you are shy, remember those six little words:

Fake It Till You Make It

Now that you know what  to do and not do to make the best of your networking experience, why not CHOOSE to make it a GREAT EXPERIENCE!

Remember, this is just a starting point.  There are many other things that could help/hurt your networking efforts.  Please share your feelings about the do’s and don’ts listed above and your own networking do’s and don’ts based on your experiences.

Seven Networking Tips

Do you know someone who landed a job because they knew someone that already worked at that company?  Did you grumble that it wasn’t fair or that they should have had to go through the same laborious process as everyone else?

Sounds like a little sour grapes to me. But there is a secret…

The secret is networking.

Knowing people and having connections is imperative to your success.  The concept related to the “Six Degrees of Separation Theory” is very relevant to showing how humans naturally network in their everyday lives.

I have put together a list of seven tips to help you network successfully.

1)      Keep building on that relationship.

It is not very effective to meet someone and begin a professional relationship with that person if you have no intention of keeping in contact with them.  The purpose of networks is to help each other in different situations; that is not possible when you lose contact.  Have you ever heard the phrase “Out of sight; out of mind”?  Keeping in contact with your networks and building on those relationships helps to insure that both parties will be there when the other needs some type of support from the relationship.

2)      Give more than you take.

I am sure that at some point in your life, you have had a friend that is always taking from everyone around them and never gives anything in return.

You know exactly who I am talking about…  I’m sure you have had that friend that calls you constantly to complain about their “big dilemma” of the week.  Being the positive friend that you are, you talk through the problem of whether they should wear the green dress or the purple dress to the party this weekend, but then they rush off the phone before you get to tell them the good news that you are getting married!  They never take the time to inquire about what’s going on with you. How frustrating!

Those types of friendships are draining and usually don’t last.  Don’t be that type of networker!  Networking is not just about what everyone else can do for you.  It is in your best interest to be the person who gives more, because people will be more likely to help you when you need to take a little down the road.

3)      Professionalism is key!

In order to form a professional network that works for you, it is crucial to keep it separate from your personal network as much as possible.  You want to be known throughout the community and with your client base as responsible and trustworthy in order to build a positive reputation.

You may also like to go out with your friends for drinks on a Saturday night.  In general, people do not link alcohol to responsibility and trustworthiness.  It is very important to draw the line and keep these two networks separate from each other in order for your personal network to not have a negative impact on your professional network.

4)      Focus on what you have to offer others.

Along the lines of giving more than you take, it is important for you to focus on what you have to offer others in your network.  If you have a lot to offer, people will begin to recognize you as the sought-after “go-to” person.  They will begin to ask for your advice and rely on you.  This can also help get your name and positive reputation out there… Sounds to me like free advertising!

5)      Go out of your comfort zoneTalk to people everywhere!

You never know who you will meet when you just start talking to people.  Think about this tip the next time you are standing in line at the grocery store.  Instead of being frustrated or annoyed because the lines are so long and you are in a rush, start a conversation with the person in front of you or behind you.  You never know what may come of it.  They may just be a nice person to talk to while waiting in line at the grocery store, or they may be your next customer… Who knows?!

6)      Be open to meeting new people and hearing their story.

Just talking to a new person may not be enough.  In order to really get to know someone and add them to your network, you must be willing to hear their story.  Everyone has had different experiences.  In fact, I remember hearing a saying that goes something like “Learn from other’s mistakes because you will never live long enough to make them all yourself.”

This saying can also go the other way—you can also learn from other’s success stories. So learn how to ask a lot of questions and be genuinely interested in the answers. They will actually think that you are the most fascinating person they’ve met, because even though they did most of the talking, they’ll subconsciously be “falling in love” with you because you’re actually listening to them, and not interrupting them and not trying to one-up them like everyone else that they have a conversation with. They’ll find it refreshing and you completely loveable, even though they might not even recognize why they feel that way about you.

7)      Find common interests.

It’s not very effective to start a conversation with someone you just met by asking for something.  In fact, that person will probably not even be interested in getting to know you.  Your best bet is to try to find common interests to build a foundation for your relationship with that person.

Being genuine in wanting to get to know the other person allows you to form a relationship and be memorable to that person. And again, the easiest way to find common ground is to ask them questions about things that you are genuinely interested in. So the weather or their family or something on their desk or mantelpiece may not be the best topic of conversation if you don’t actually care about listening to them talk about that. Even though you asked, your disinterest will definitely show.

With that being said, being memorable and standing out (in a good way, of course) is one of the major reasons why it’s important to network successfully.  It’s important to get your name out there with a positive reputation to back it up, but it’s even more important that people REMEMBER YOU!!

Why is Networking Important?

While networking is a critical piece of the human experience, understanding why it’s important to you will help you benefit personally and professionally.  Growing your best business by developing your networking skills is vital as well.

So…Why Network?

Networking allows you to build connections with other people when you normally wouldn’t have a reason to know them.  You are able to go out of your comfort zone and meet people and grow your business.

For example, real estate agents rely on networking to grow their business.  Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions that a person will make in their lifetime.  Would you rather buy a house from John Smith on the internet that you know nothing about, or would you rather buy from Stacy Ray that you met at several open houses?  Because Stacy  took the time to step out of her comfort zone and attend those open houses and stayed in contact with you, she has now set herself up to become your first choice when deciding between two real estate agents.  Not only does reaching out and building a network benefit your business, it allows you to grow as a person and become more comfortable in a myriad of situations.

Think about your group of friends… How did you all meet each other?

Chances are that you had a couple friends (We will use Jane and Mandy for the sake of argument) that you knew from work or school or some other activity.  The next time you all got together, you brought a friend, Jane brought a friend, and Mandy brought a friend.  The size of your group of friends just doubled.

Now imagine that your business works that same way.

You have three customers that are very impressed with your services, so they each refer one of their friends to you (which happens all the time).  If all three of those friends become your customers, your client base has just doubled.

Building a network is like building a web that continues to branch out farther and farther when more and more people are involved.  If you have twenty satisfied customers reaching out to their friends and family, there are more possibilities for you to gain more potential customers.

Growing your network is directly linked to growing your business.  Taking the time to build a positive reputation and have satisfied customers (even if it is only just 3 or 4 to begin with) is essential.  Reaching out to people and growing your business through networking allows you to put your name and reputation out there in an unbiased way.  Basically, let your network speak for you!

While your product/service is phenomenal and you are honest and are sincere about everything you say, someone sharing their story about their experience with your business will outweigh what you advertise and tell people about your product/service.  Word of mouth is a lot more powerful than people give it credit for.

Feedback is very important to a business in knowing what needs to be changed or left alone.  Building a network around your business allows you to meet other people who are running a business (whether it is the same product/service as yours or not), potential customers, more referral sources, and people who have experience in your particular area that can benefit your business.  Use other people’s ideas!  After all, two heads (or many heads in this case) are better than one!

What’s your most impactful networking story? Did you get a great client or a chance to make a major impact because you stepped out and showcased yourself, even though it might have been outside of your comfort zone? Tell me about it – I’d love to hear your comments below!

 

What Do You Say?

I know it’s been a couple of weeks, but I hope you remember everything that we have gone over with respect to mistakes to avoid when building and positioning your business. Today I am going to go over one last big mistake that is all too often made by business owners when trying to develop their business.

Something that many people struggle with, and that if you do it wrong, has a tendency to really detract from the attractiveness of your businesses, is mastering their message. This is the message that you use in order to appeal to your potential clients and to bring them to YOU. It needs to resonate with your target audience and to address their personal needs and desires.

I mentioned this in our last positioning post, but in order to come up with a really great business message, you need to get into the conversation in the heads of the individuals that make up your target market.

You need to know what it is that they need and are looking for, and to appeal to those wants and needs. It should be personal and unique.

In order to be as helpful as you can to them, and in order to create a message that really resonates with them, you need to think about what is going on in their head throughout the whole process. For example, say you are a real-estate agent that focuses on downsizing seniors.

Maybe they have just lost their spouse and can no longer stand the thought of living in a home that is filled with so many memories. Maybe it is a senior couple whose kids have grown up and moved out, and they feel that it’s too big of a house for them and they don’t need all the extra work to keep it maintained. You need to think about WHY they may be choosing to downsize.

Once you have considered the WHY, you need to think about what comes along with it. So, with our downsizing seniors, when they’re thinking about moving into a smaller, easier-to-maintain place, they’re probably going to have to get rid of some of their stuff. What can you do to help your client’s with the process?

Something else to consider – How might they be feeling about leaving the home that they have lived in for so many years? They may be disheartened to think about losing their connection, their touchstone to all those family memories, in the home and the neighborhood where their babies grew up. Because they have such an emotional bond with the place.

Maybe they are worried that they will have no idea how to go about selling and buying a house since the market has obviously changed drastically since they bought the place.

Maybe they don’t have anyone to help them move, and have no idea who to turn to.

It’s all so overwhelming, and can even be terrifying for some.

Think about this: When anybody is doing anything, there is a reason for it. By figuring out what that reason may be and by being sensitive to it, you can better appeal to potential customers in your specialty field.

Thinking about their worries and concerns allows you to address them beforehand, thereby preparing yourself to have all of the necessary things in place already when they come to you.

By tapping into the conversation within your potential client’s heads, you can position yourself as the person best suited to meet their wants and needs. It allows you to better relate to them.

People like to feel understood, and it is comforting when the person you go to seems relatable and accommodating. You need to keep all of these things in mind when creating your message.

This also ties into the last two mistakes that we went over before. Your message needs to set you apart from the crowd. It needs to show you and your business are different than the others. It should be presented in a unique and creative way that will catch the attention of you prospective clients.

But most importantly, it should position you as the obvious choice. It would make much more sense for a senior couple who is downsizing to go to someone who specializes in such things then to some generic agent who is just looking to move as many people in and out of houses as quickly as possible without taking their special needs into consideration.

Let me give you two examples, and then I want YOU to decide which would be the obvious choice for this situation.

Real-estate agent number one’s message: “Hi. My name is Joe Schmo, and I have an incredibly high sell rate. I would love to help YOU sell your house as quickly as possible, too!”

Real-estate agent number two’s message: “Is your house too big now that your kids have all moved out? Has the maintenance just become too much? My name is Joe Schmo, and I’m the downsizing senior specialist. I can help you to sell your home and to get settled into a new place that’s a better fit for you. I can make the entire process easy and as stress-free as possible, and I will work WITH you to make sure that your every question is answered and that every concern is addressed. You are not alone. I’m here to help you.”

Which one would be the obvious choice? If you don’t say the second, then we really need to talk! : )

Nobody wants to feel as though they are just a means through which someone else can make money. That makes them feel devalued and like you just don’t care. By tapping into what is going on in their minds, you can avoid that, and show them that you care about them as individuals.

They won’t mind the expense, because they will feel that it’s worth it for the specialized and genuine care that they get from you. In short, you will resonate with them, and they’ll be tickled that they chose you.

As I’ve said before, positioning is not the simplest thing in the world. There are a lot of things to be considered, and there is no one quick fix that will suddenly make your business boom.

However, that being said, all of the mistakes we have talked about are relatively easy to avoid. Being aware of them is the first step in avoiding them. They definitely take some time to work through, and a heck of a lot of thought, but the time and effort is well worth it in the end.

I will be going into further detail with respect to some of the most important things that you can do in order to position yourself in a way that sets you apart and that will ensure you greater overall success.

If you have any questions or there is anything in particular that you would like me to write about, LET ME KNOW, and I will do my best to answer your questions or point you to someone who can.

I’m excited to move into the topics of positioning, branding and defining yourself as different from all of the others out there because this is MY passion. It is MY specialty, and I can’t wait to share it with YOU!

Until next week…

Make it Great!

 

Who’s Your Client? Everyone With A Pulse and A Wallet…

We’ve recently discussed how one of the biggest business positioning mistakes that you can make when marketing your business is to take too generic of an approach. If you don’t separate yourself from the crowd, you and your business are no different than any of the other ones out there.

This week I’m going to go a little deeper into this concept with a closely related concept, because so many people make this mistake: Trying To Appeal To Everyone.

Too many people try to appeal to the masses thinking that it is the best way to get the most clients and to make the most money.

This approach may seem like the rational way to go, but in reality…it is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when creating and marketing your business.

By trying to make your business appeal to everyone, you end up really appealing to nobody.

This goes hand-in-hand with being too generic. If you try to appeal to everyone, then it is almost impossible to be unique.

However, if you position yourself to appeal to a certain demographic or segment of the population, rather than trying to appeal to everyone, you can play up the ways in which you are unique and how your solutions are beneficial to that specific group of people. By trying to appeal to too many people, you stretch yourself thin and minimize any difference there may be between you and your competition.

The most successful businesses have streamlined their target market to include only specific groups of people. This allows you to better appeal to, and to better address, your potential clients’ wants and needs. In doing so, you will significantly increase your allure to those people and will as a result gain more of them as clients.

Let me explain what I’m talking about with an example or two.

Say for example, that you sustained some physical damage from a car accident several years ago, and you’re tired of suffering and not being able to sleep through the night and move your body in a certain way with ease, so you’re looking for a massage therapist.

You have a choice – you see that there are about 100 choices to select from. You can pick a masseuse that has a generic “let me help you relax and heal the pain” message, or you can select a masseuse who actually specializes in deep tissue massages for people who have sustained injuries in an automobile accident and have significant scar tissue hampering their mobility and movement.

And that’s all that they do.

That’s their specialty.

They are the expert.

Who are you going to choose?

Any masseuse may be able to do a massage that feels good in the short term, but are they really skilled in working with scar tissue from previous injury?

Sure, they may be qualified – they may have learned how to do that in massage therapy school…

Just because someone is qualified to provide whatever service you’re looking for, doesn’t mean that they specialize in it!

Think about that – qualified does not equal specialized.

Here’s another example I use all the time – Stop me if you’ve heard it before…: )

(Uh-oh, Warning: personal story coming – you may want to close your ears and hum : ) )

I gained a lot of weight when I became pre-menopausal. Up until that point I hadn’t had any weight issues. I’d been at a healthy weight for my whole life. But then hormonal changes, slower metabolism, getting more sedentary, and not really paying close attention to what I ate, all kind of crept up on me, and I gained quite a bit of weight.

Frankly, I was never so obese that I broke 200 lbs, but even so, I have no business being anywhere close to 190. So for my frame, it was quite a bit of weight.

And then a few years ago I shook myself awake and recognized, hey – time to address this issue before it gets worse. So I started doing all of these things that I know will take the weight off – I was becoming way more active, started really paying attention to eating healthier, got off of fast food and junk food, high fructose corn syrup, carbonated soda, started drinking way, Way more water, etc.

And nothing was working.

I got even more determined – really focused on walking at least 10,000 steps a day.

Even started running a little, really started reading package labels, eating more natural foods and staying away from a lot of these processed and modified foods, etc. Kicked up the running to where I could run for three miles.

Did I lose some weight? Yeah I did – a little.

But I was so-o frustrated! Because I was putting all of this focus and attention on it, devoting a lot of time every day to the activity and keeping track of what I ate, and it should have dropped off like I was in my first week as a Biggest Loser contestant.

But it didn’t.

Over the course of several months, I lost a few pounds. All the pounds put together over the months: not even a good week 9 or 10 for a Biggest Loser contestant.

And of course, every day we are bombarded with weight loss messages. There are weight loss programs out there by the hundreds. I was certainly not at a loss to find some help if I wanted to.

But I didn’t want a generic weight loss program.

I felt like I was doing everything a typical weight loss program would recommend. I was watching what I ate; I was getting a significant amount of activity every day, etc.

What I really needed was for someone to show up with a message that said something like “Menopausal weight gain getting you down? Do you feel like you’ve tried everything and your body just isn’t cooperating? Don’t know what else to try? Well, I specialize in helping menopausal women really fight the weight gain that comes from those hormonal changes and metabolism slowdowns that naturally occur as we age. Call Me Today. P.S. The bonus is that one of the side effects of you and I working together is that we get those hot flashes and night sweats under control, too! Naturally!”

If anyone, ANYONE had presented me with a message like that, I would have been all over it.

I didn’t care about the generic weight loss messages – because they didn’t speak to me. I knew the basics. I just didn’t know what to do about the things specific to menopausal weight gain.

Why would you go to someone to fix your problems, when they may not know how to do it any more than you do? That’s a lot of time wasted and money spent on something that might not provide you with the maximum benefit that you could be getting.

And that ladies and gentlemen, THAT is why you should specialize. When people want something, they want something specific. People have specific needs. If you focus on a more specialized area, and a smaller group of people, you will actually appeal to more people.

Understand that when I say “specific groups of people” I don’t necessarily mean small groups of people. You can still target your efforts towards a large group; the members just have to have common wants and needs. There needs to be something that they all have in common that makes them good candidates for your services.

What’s the specific group that could have been targeted by my need? Women who had never had weight issues until they hit menopausal age, and then they’re struggling to deal with it.

It’s not like that’s a small market.

It’s simply smaller than the market defined as “everyone who’s overweight”.

Well, now you’re wondering “What about all of those people who you don’t appeal to anymore?”

Okay…What about them?

Realistically, you never appealed to them or anyone else before. In order to really appeal to someone, you have to be able to address their specific wants and needs and to help them overcome whatever obstacles they are facing.

That is why you have to get into the immediate conversation in their head. Like that menopausal message above would have stepped directly into the dialogue I had with myself every single freaking day and night for several years – if anyone had provided it – but no one had a message like that for me.

I don’t know anyone that can fix anything and everything, and even if that is you – you still need to focus on your specialties and who you can provide the most benefit for.

You really need to hone in on: How can you truly serve those you’re most able to help?

Along with narrowing your target market, you need to define your own niche and concentrate all of your efforts towards that specific area of the market. You focus on what you do best.

You figure out what you are passionate about, and build your business around that. This is one of the easiest ways to help you figure out what your target market should be. I will go more in depth on defining your niche and target audience in the future here, so keep them in mind.

For now, think about what we have gone over in the last couple of weeks and how it applies to your business.

If you still think you need to go generic and undifferentiated with your marketing and promotional message, I don’t know how else to convince you. I’ve given you some of my best stuff – I even pulled out my “I got fat” story to share with you. : )

Next week is Super Bowl week and we’ll talk about how that pertains to your business. After that, we’ll come back to positioning, and we’ll go over another big marketing mistake that you should avoid making at all costs.

Make it a great week!!

 

P.S. Bribe: If you want to know how the “I got fat” story has worked out for me, just drop a note in the comments below. If there’s enough clamor and ruckus – I might even share with you! : )

 

Stand Out or Be Benched!

Once again, its Super Bowl time and the buzz of football fans’ excitement fills the air! Due to the special occasion, I thought I’d share with you some of my thoughts on how marketing your business is like football.

Yes, believe it or not there are connections between this crazy sport and your business…

Marketing is just like any competitive sport in that, in order to play the game and be successful, you have to stand out from the crowd.

If we’re talking professional sports, you could still make some money sitting on the bench with all of the other players that are competing for your position, but it is the player who is actually out there on the field showing his/her stuff and making the big plays that is going to make the big bucks.

Think about a football team. It is made up of a bunch of different people who specialize in certain parts of the game. Although there are a number of different positions, there are always at least 3 or 4 people vying for the same position. Obviously not all of them can play at the same time, and of course, the one who is the best is going to get substantially more time on the field.

It is the one who plays the most that people recognize and cheer for. He not only gets paid way more money than the other 2 or 3 guys on the bench, but he is the one that others consider to be a success.

The other people sitting on the bench are just some other players that may get to go in every once in a while, and may even have a good play here and there, but nobody will remember them. As far as the fans are concerned, they are just like every other guy on the bench, and therefore are not perceived as “as good as” those who actually get playing time and are watched by millions of people all over the country.

The business world is exactly the same.

No, you’re right – there is technically no bench and 99.9% of the time no business will be viewed by millions on TV. However, the concept holds true.

Those businesses that do not stand out from the crowd won’t ever gain the recognition needed to become truly successful. If you have no customers, it’s equivalent to never getting out onto the field to show your stuff.

If you never get out onto the field to show your stuff, you might as well not be a player.

Same goes for your business. Why be in business if you don’t get to work your magic and help those you’re most able to serve with your gifts, skills and experience? Might as well shutter the doors.

You have to be playing your game in order to make your business thrive.

The way in which business success is different than sports is that it’s not necessarily the best of the best that gains the most recognition and that conquers the market.

It is the business that really sets itself apart from the others as reliable, trustworthy, and knowledgeable and that creates a message which allows them to stand out as something special in the mind of their prospects that will see the most success.

If your potential client doesn’t see you as the obvious choice with exactly the solutions that they’re looking for, they’ll look right through you. You’ll be as invisible as someone who got cut from the roster. You’re no longer even a backup choice at that point.

There may be other great quality, dare I say even better businesses out there that give better service for a cheaper price.

But if nobody knows who you are, no matter how good, bad or indifferent you are at what you do, then you are no different than the subpar businesses that people regret going to.

Unless you differentiate yourself and your business from the masses, you will always be a benchwarmer that is the backup plan in case the starter isn’t available for some reason or another. Or maybe, like we said earlier, you’re cut from the team and never get the chance to create the winning play.

In order to even get a chance to play, you MUST set yourself apart.

How do you do that? Well, the first thing is to know what you want your business to stand for in the minds of your customer.

And that something had better be attractive to them.

Because believe it or not, the game is not about you – it’s about how your prospects and clients perceive you.

And as you know, the only thing that matters from their perspective is whether or not you can deliver the answers, solutions or transformations they’re looking for.

So put yourself out there as a player that is ready to compete and show just how much of a stand out player you can be. All of your prospective clients are like scouts looking for the next best thing…by setting yourself apart as different and focusing on your strengths, you can make sure that YOU are that business.

While watching the Super Bowl this week, think about how your business is like football. Comparing business marketing to sports may seem like a stretch, but if you think about it, the two concepts really do have a ton in common.

Let me know if this concept resonates with you, and how.

Until next week, enjoy your football and I hope your team wins!

 

Would You Buy The Box Of Cereal That Just Said “Cereal” On The Box?

Although positioning your business is by no means rocket science, it isn’t the simplest thing in the world to do, either. It’s multifaceted, and as such, requires a multidirectional approach. You can’t just do one thing and call it good.

In order to create a truly successful business and to clear out a space in the market to call your own, you must approach positioning from a number of different angles.

Many people either neglect, or don’t know how to use, some of the important positioning tactics available to them.

One of the most commonly made positioning mistakes is being too generic. Defining oneself or one’s businesses in a generic way, using generic ads and campaigning messages, explaining one’s business to others in a way that they have heard a million times before…the list goes on and on. Blah blah blah…

The LAST thing that you want to be is generic. Have you ever heard someone say that they aspire to be generic? That they would really love to be one of the sheep that follows some other go-getter blindly?

NOBODY WANTS THAT! And you shouldn’t settle for that either.

And yet, millions and millions of passionate service professionals and business owners who genuinely have the ability to change lives get stuck in that generic mindset.

And then they wonder why it feels like they’re invisible and they’re not attracting the clients that they need to survive.

Let me explain it to you –

You Can Not Attract Energizing and Fun Clients to Work With You

If You Look Like Everybody Else

Who Does What You Do

 

In fact, right now, print this page up, and then cut that blockquote piece out and post it above your work space.

Get that done?

Okay, onward…

Uh-oh…some of you didn’t do that!

And after I asked so nicely, too…What’s that all about? : )

Here’s another one for you to cut out and paste over your desk…

Would You Buy The Box Of Cereal

That Just Said “Cereal” On The Box?

 

You have to think outside of the box and emphasize what makes you and your business unique. If you have had experiences that help you to relate to your target market, emphasize that!

If you offer something that nobody else does, make sure that everyone knows it! And do so in a creative way…

Celebrate and focus on what makes YOU different from the rest!

Showing that there is something that sets you apart from other businesses in your market is the first step to gaining potential clients’ attention and recognition. However, like I said before, it is not the ONLY step.

Next week I will go into another positioning mistake that altogether way too many people make and how you can avoid doing the same.

Until then, ask yourself these questions. How is what I offer different than what my competitors offer?

What makes both me and my business unique?

How can I present my business in a way that makes it stand out from the crowd?

If you can’t think of anything, well then think about what steps you can take to make your business unique and different from the other generic commodity businesses.

I know that it may feel like a big task, but it is a necessary one.

Make it a great week, and see you on the flipside!

Set Your Business Apart Through Positioning

In order to create real success, you need to emphasize and demonstrate what makes you unique.

This goes back to what I said last week about being a commodity versus being a brand name. You want to position yourself so that you are NOT the same as everyone else in your market.

There are a number of mediums that you can use in order to better position yourself and in order to stand apart from the others.

The internet is one of the best places. Things like a business website and social media networking sites are both great marketing and great positioning tools. They are perhaps the best way to reach and connect with members of your target market.

Advertising through newspapers and other local publications is another option.

The thing that you need to keep in mind when doing this though is that you DO NOT want to use a generic ad. This is one of the places where you really need to take a unique approach and to appeal to your target market in a way that sets you apart. Focus on your specialties and the specific wants and needs of your target clients.

Really, positioning falls into play in everything that you do in and for your business. The way that you present yourself is important.

Looking the part and making sure your place of business does as well adds beaucoup points in the mind of your clients. The way you talk makes a difference. Your business card, both the textual and visual aspects, plays a part in positioning.

Positioning is ALL of the things that you do that influence the way that someone thinks about you and your business. It is the steps that you take to create a specific image in the minds of your target audience. It is what you do to create top of mind awareness and to ensure that you are the first one that people think of when they need or want whatever you provide.

If done correctly, and done well, positioning can be extremely beneficial. If done poorly, or not done at all, it can be detrimental to your business.

What steps have you taken to set yourself apart from the crowd? What forms of advertising or marketing strategies do you recommend in order to better position your business? Let me know by clicking on the bubble on the upper right hand of this post or by commenting below.

Next time I will talk about common mistakes that people make with respect to positioning and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Until then…make it great!