Saturday, January 31, 2009
1. It is human nature to be attracted to that which is consistent, and messages ensure that you stick to a consistent communication pattern.
2. The biggest mistake we can make as marketers is to fail to set a customer up for what we are going to deliver or set them up for something on which we cannot deliver. Solid messages ensure that you tell people exactly what they can expect from you. This gives your customers the powerful satisfaction of being "right" and also allows them to promote your business to other people in the correct manner.
Here is a graphic I developed to demonstrate this concept:
Next ...I'll tell you how to create your marketing messages.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Make Some Calls: spend 10 minutes researching a potential new client and then take five minutes and give them a personalized call or e-mail to let them know about the services you provide. This is a modified cold call and is quite effective, especially if you are able to identify a way that you can immediately help the prospective client. TIME: 15 minutes/day
Pitch the Media: everyone knows that PR is a powerful tool, but we usually think of it in big, expensive terms. For a gradual approach, pick one publication and research it to get a feeling for the types of stories covered and who writes them. Then send a concise e-mail to the appropriate journalist, editor or assistant editor with your idea. Follow up with a phone call (you’ll usually have to leave a voice mail) and then move on to another publication. TIME: 4 hours/month
Attend Networking Events: research appropriate groups, and then during each meeting seek out just one or two potential customers or referral sources and focus on creating a relationship with them. This approach can have much higher results than spreading yourself thin and trying to connect with everyone in the room. TIME: 1 hour/month
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Since embarking on a quest to be healthier (not just skinnier), I have gradually become more in-tune with my body. It has taken 10 months of ups and downs, and very gradual moves forward and backwards, but I think that I can finally hear a tiny little murmur from my body requesting more or less food and even more or less exercise.
Please let me know if you hear your body and what it says!
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I fell into this trap the other day. After an inspiring insight about a new way to package my services, I was unexpectedly approached by someone for marketing support. I was still so "high" on my new idea that I immediately pushed the concept on her. Luckily, I think that I realized my error in time to remedy it, but the bottom line is that rather than pushing my new idea, I should have first asked questions about what she was looking for. Duh!
My error was even more ironic given a conversation I had earlier in the week, during which another client of mine was discussing the difference between the way that I work compared to someone else. She said "with
Funny how, just as you are beginning to think that you are stellar, life kicks you in the butt and reminds you to stay alert.
Thus, my new mantra whenever talking to anyone is to ask first; advise second (if at all). This approach helps to remind me that each client is unique and special. It also helps to keep the focus on the person; not the opportunity.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
1. Slimers - these are people who think that the old sales techniques still work (they don't) and tend to mercilessly push their services on others without taking any time to find out what the other person does, cares about, or wants. Such one-sided marketing leaves me feeling "slimed."
2. Wallflowers - these are people who think that showing up is enough (it's not). I totally understand that sometimes you just want to lurk - that's fine! And lurking can also be OK if you are doing market research, but lurking will not grow your business.
3. Enlightened Marketers - these are people who recognize that the best way to market yourself in a networking environment is to meet lots of new people and truly listen to what they have to say. Then they make suggestions, recommendations, referrals, etc. based on what is most important to the people they meet. They follow up either with a recommendation or some other personal comment based on the conversation they had. This approach results in a high level of qualified leads because potential clients feel as if you truly care about who they are and what they do.
Please let me know if you have any thoughts about the above approaches - or perhaps some additional ones that I haven't noted!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Envy follows me with a whip, pointing out everyone else who has succeeded and will succeed (or just says they have/will). Envy believes that if she doesn't whip me, I won't keep running; I won't keep working; and I will never, ever, catch up with everyone else. She believes that, without her, I will simply stop trying. So she chases me around with her whip, making sure that it doesn't happen.
Doubt, on the other hand, thinks she knows the truth, which is that I may not succeed. She diligently erects walls wherever she can to divert my path so that I don't get hurt. Each brick in her wall is made of solid objections: you may not be able to do it; you may not make it; you might not be successful. She believes that, without her, I will fail and become so crushed that I never get up again.
Of course, the harder Envy and Doubt work to take care of me, the more they get in each others' way. Even as Envy drives me to work harder, faster and longer, Doubt erects walls and obstacles to prevent me from getting anywhere.
This morning I decided to give Envy and Doubt a chance to reinvent themselves and take a stab at putting their energy towards more productive ends. Envy thought that maybe she would like to trade her whip for a pen, so that she can write lists full of good ideas gleaned from other people's success. Doubt thought that maybe her bricks could be used to create a solid path for me to walk on - one that grows day-to-day based on which direction is best at the time.
We'll see how well this new agreement works!
Monday, January 19, 2009
"Our "health-care system" is primarily a disease-care system. Last year, $2.1 trillion were spent in the U.S. on medical care, or 16.5% of the gross national product. Of these trillions, 95 cents of every dollar was spent to treat disease after it had already occurred. At least 75% of these costs were spent on treating chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes that are preventable or even reversible."Read More
2. Nobody can sell your idea for you. Even the best marketer is at best providing you with tools for success; the truth is that when you are building your business, you need to pound some pavement and sell your idea yourself. Not only is it the only way to get started; it will also give you critical feedback and ideas for how to grow your business.
3. This is not a sprint. Many entrepreneurs think they need to be sprinters, and they take off so quickly that when they realize they still have miles and miles to go, they are winded and quickly hit the wall. Building a viable business is a long-distance affair. Even if you are thinking you will sell the company in two years, you still need a lot of endurance and discipline to make it that far. Avoid the drive to sprint. Do not operate on brief spurts of entrepreneurial passion. Try to bring discipline and practice to building your business whenever possible.
Friday, January 16, 2009
It is true that partnerships can be very beneficial, especially in the tech industry, but my experience is that partnerships are also very difficult to manage, and take lots of care and attention ... like a marriage.
In fact, I think that a partnership is just like a marriage in many ways, except in a business partnership you typically see more of each other and you don't have sex and love as a foundational glue to get you through tough times.
The No. 1 reason for divorce is disagreements over money. Thus it is no surprise that business partnerships can be rocky, since the relationship centers on money - how it is spent, how it is made and, ultimately, how it is split between the partners.
To avoid a nasty fate, here are the three things I recommend to all business partners, regardless of whether they are just starting out or have been together for decades:
1. Establish a Shared Vision: you will not succeed as a business partnership if one of you wants to be a millionaire and the other simply wants to have a modest income. Likewise, if one of you wants to revolutionize the industry and the other wants to use best practices as a foundation for a solid, proven business model, you will struggle. Establish a shared vision that you both believe in. Write it down and make all future business decisions based on this vision. Of course you will each have additional goals and desires, but this shared vision will always unite you and make decisions smoother.
2. Establish an Exit Strategy: yes, this is like a pre-nuptual agreement, and it couldn't be more important. I know, I know, it takes all of the romance out of the engagement, but it is very necessary. A simple but excellent partnership exit strategy gives you both a clean way to exit the business partnership without going to divorce court, which will leave both of you with nothing but depleted bank accounts and a bad taste in your mouths.
3. Meet Quarterly: establish a regular, no-excuses quarterly meeting during which you do not discuss day-t0-day operations of the business. All you should talk about in this meeting is how your partnership is going. Review your shared vision - make sure you are both still holding up your end of the bargain. Review what you are each doing and discuss behaviors that are driving you crazy about each other. Again, this takes away some of the romance, but it also allows you to air differences before it's too late to remedy them.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The truth is, it's much easier to blame the economy, our customers, our employees, and almost anything else when we don't succeed in our businesses than it is to look in the mirror and realize that we are at the helm, and we have a great deal of control over our businesses' fate.
Here are three things that you can do today to begin steering your business in a powerful direction:
1. Get Uncomfortable: most of us have one thing that makes us more uncomfortable than anything else; for many of us it's "cold calls." Yet the single most valuable thing that most business owners can do when they need more business is to pick up the phone and start making phone calls. Get a list of prospects together, sit down, and commit to making 5, 10, 50, 100 calls - whatever you think you can do - each week. Just make them!
2. Ask For Input: when running a business, we wear multiple hats. These "hats" often have a constant internal dialogue that maintains our everyday business operations. The trouble is, our "hats" often forget to ask for outside opinions and insight. As a result, we can easily become disconnected from our customers, our employees, suppliers, and critical advisers who can provide valuable insight. Put on just one hat today: curiosity. Wear it to ask everyone you encounter three simple questions: 1) what do you think is going well with the business?; 2) what do you think needs improvement?; 3) do you have any ideas for what we should be doing?
3. Collect on Invoices: while the above two recommendations are about your personal behavior, this one is simply practical. It is a fact that businesses are shutting down, and you don't want to be left holding the check if your customers go out of business. Reduce your billing cycles, and require COD whenever possible. Collect on all outstanding invoices to limit your exposure and ensure steady cash flow.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
By Nora Wallace Walsh
Founder & Head Coach
When you look at what is important to you and where you spend the majority of your time, do you find yourself towards the bottom of your to do list or not on it at all?
Do you often find yourself saying yes to others when you really don't have the time or energy? Do you put others' needs before your own? This is very common when you have a career, family and individuals that depend on you, but if you continue on this path you will find yourself over-committed, drained of all your energy, and unhappy.
The most important aspect of living a healthy, balanced life is to do things that make you happy, things that are important to you, and things that help you grow into a better human being. If you don't make the effort to take care of yourself and do things that make you happy, who will? A big part of taking care of yourself is to make a commitment to exercise and eat healthy. By exercising and making healthy food choices you will have more energy to do all the things that are most important to you.
If your life is so over-scheduled and over-committed that you are exhausted at simply the idea of finding time for you, it is time to make a change.
- Try to do something every day for you and only you.
- Pay attention to your body and when you don't feel well.
- Start saying NO to people and projects.
- Do something you have always wanted to do.
- Get help - hire an assistant, a housekeeper, babysitter, personal trainer, enlist family members, etc.
- Exercise regularly. If you don't have a full 30 minutes, then try breaking it into 10-minute increments. Make exercise a part of your day.
- Eat breakfast every morning. Followed by a nutritious lunch and dinner with two healthy snacks in between.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
- Set aside special time with family and friends.
This is a perfect time to take care of you. Make a commitment this year to put yourself back on your to do list and create a healthier and happier life.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Yesterday I proudly bought new jeans - 2 sizes smaller than I wore 10 months ago. Yay! This has taken a complete shift in my lifestyle, and I feel really good about myself. It is the first time that weight loss has not been a punishing experience, and I can honestly say that it has not involved any hunger. Here is what I have done:
1. I signed on with a fitness coach, who checks in with me each week to help me set goals and review what is working and what is not. This has been the single most important investment in my success, as she keeps me accountable to my health goals.
2. I meet with a nutritionist 1-2 times per month to review my food choices and identify room for improvement.
3. I started a daily meditation practice, which is helping me recognize unhealthy triggers, appreciate my food more, and listen to my body better.
- I focus on adding vegetables, fruit, protein and whole grains rather than removing other foods
- I cut out my 1-2 glasses of wine with dinner (except occasionally)
- I added fish-oil supplements to my diet, which help to decrease my tendency towards anxiety and depression
- I attend an intense 60-minute cardio & strength training class once per week
- I meet with a pilates trainer for one-on-one training once per week
- I meet with a strength trainer for one-on-one training once per week
- I attend a yoga class once per week
- I wear a pedometer and set a goal of about 60,000 steps per week
- I run on my own 1-2 times per week
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Nonetheless, I pounded the pavement and successfully landed several clients within just a few months. I was pleased with my progress, but couldn't help but notice that at every networking event I attended, I was hit on by men. I even had several male clients who were hitting on me while we worked together. I was alarmed: I wanted to be taken seriously ... as a serious professional! I immediately decided that I didn't look "serious" or "professional" enough.
I made a list - How to look more professional:
- Buy some fake eyeglasses
- Learn how to style a classy chignon
- Buy some business suits that made me look frumpy
In fact, I learned that most people in business will admit that their greatest fear is that they will be exposed for not being as smart/professional/sophisticated as other people think they are. This comes not from the fact that we are not smart/professional/sophisticated, but that we don't believe that we are.
Thus, I created a new list - How to build confidence in my professional abilities:
- Keep a list of all of my professional successes - big and small
- Keep a list documenting anytime someone says something positive about my professional abilities
- Before any event or meeting at which I will meet clients or prospects, review the above lists and remember that I am in fact smart/professional/sophisticated
- Do my homework before meetings and events so that I know who will be there and what is important to them so that I can speak confidently about those subjects
Of course, I must admit ...when an optometrist found that I had a very slight vision problem, I still jumped at the opportunity to get glasses :-)
Friday, January 9, 2009
For the most part, my wheel is average, but the reason it looks so bumpy is that I have some extremely high levels of satisfaction in certain parts of my life.
While I can certainly work to get my low levels higher, wouldn't creating a perfect wheel include either lowering my ratings of the high parts of my life (to achieve a homogeneous balance) or striving for "perfection" in all areas of my life? This just doesn't seem realistic. Thus, while I find the wheel helpful for illuminating some areas in which I could use some bolstering, I'm not going to worry too much about making the wheel a perfect circle.
After all ... many of the most wonderful roads in the world are bumpy.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
- I will never have a business that sustains itself so perfectly that I don't have to continue putting my energy into it (look at Steve Jobs).
- I will never not have to take care of myself and my health (look at Oprah).
- I know that for as long as I live, I will never not be a mother to my child; I also know that in order to continue being a wife to my husband, we will have to continuously work together on our relationship.
I don't think there are any answers to these questions, but I do think that just seeing this is having a vast impact on how I live my life, and I'm liking it a lot more already! Somehow, the absence of a finish line has given me a little more freedom in the most meaningful parts of my life.
To practice this new concept, I recently started to knit a scarf. This time, though, instead of knitting madly into the night to finish the darn thing, I'm approaching the project in a leisurely manner, sometimes making just a few stitches at a time.
Tonight, though, I found myself getting into the mode - having thoughts of "I'm almost done! Just a few more hours of this and I'll have my new scarf! Hooray! I am so quick!" Then, suddenly, I ran out of wool. It was pretty funny.
Now I have to go get some more wool and try to finish the scarf without getting wrapped up in the concept of finishing it. Hmmm ... we'll see how it goes ...
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I'm sure that you have seen the magazine covers about Oprah's slide up the scale. Have you also seen the commercial of her saying "I can't believe I'm talking about weight ...again!"? Perhaps you have even seen some of her shows this week, which are all about getting her weight and health back on-track.
She is on the cover of almost every tabloid magazine this week, and even her commercials are getting media coverage. This is an absolute PR windfall for Oprah's marketing team. Beautifully, it is not a publicity stunt - it is real life, and it's exactly why I think Oprah is brilliant!
Here are three things that Oprah knows about marketing that we can all learn from:
1. Audience Insight - Oprah's most critical insight as a businesswoman is that she knows her audience, and she knows how to market herself in a way that inspires them to buy more magazines, watch more shows, and become even bigger raving fans than they already are. She does this by being a real human with real human challenges.
2. Timing is Everything - a print magazine typically works on a lead time of 3-5 months. That means that the story about Oprah's weight has been planned at least since August, but probably before. In other words, she and her team have been planning the media blitz currently ongoing for months. I'm guessing they chose January based on the fact that everyone runs weight-loss articles in January, making the media timing perfect.
3. Stick to Your Message - the very reason this story has gotten so much coverage is that Oprah has been talking about her weight for more than 20 years. It is an ongoing theme in her life and on her show. Everyone in the country - and many people around the world - know about Oprah's struggle with weight. This consistency is a great example of how sticking to a few key messages in your marketing efforts can pay off in spades.
Please know that I am not trying to expose Oprah for doing this all for marketing; I am quite sure that she did not gain weight to get media coverage. Nonetheless, she is a great example of how you can turn almost any type of lemon into lemonade with the right strategy.
Before you get caught up in the doom and gloom, though, remember that a recession doesn't mean your business has to decrease. It does have to change, though. Here are some ideas for surviving, and even thriving in the current economy:
1. Do not cut back on critical expenses that maintain your product's quality; do cut back on any manufacturing or production expenses that do not directly relate to the quality of the end product.
2. Do not panic and stop all marketing activities; do cut back on those that have no proven rate of return. There are hundreds of low- and no-cost marketing activities that can replace almost all of your current marketing expenses.
3. Do increase employee incentive and work-for-performance (i.e. commission) programs. You may not be able to give raises this year; instead, provide cash incentives to reward the behavior that you need right now, such as new business prospects, rate of production, etc.
4. Do reward loyal customers, and thank those that refer more business to you by giving them discounts or even just a "Thank You" card.
5. Do focus on the products that are most profitable - constantly improve on them and dedicate more marketing investment to them. Do not try to save a product that has not been working for you or launch a new product unless you have conducted extensive market research to ensure that it will make money. Now is not a time for random risk-taking.
Monday, January 5, 2009
My father and I share this very strong personality trait: we intellectually know how critical preparation and measurement are, and yet we are obsessed with speed and "getting things done," and thus often make mistakes that result in long strings of expletives.
Last week I decided to repaint our downstairs bathroom, which was a beautiful shade of green that unfortunately absorbed light and turned the room into a dark little cave. It took two coats of primer applied over the course of three days to cover the dark green, but, based on this careful preparation, the fresh new light-reflecting color that I applied took just one quick coat, and was complete in under an hour.
Thus, I was reminded of my father's adage, and proud of myself for forcing the patience of preparation. Rather than chasing the glory of the final coat, I focused carefully on the simple pleasure of the undercoats - the critical underpinnings of a job well-done.
For my entire life I have been rushing ... running and struggling to achieve "success." This year, I am going to explore what it is like to enjoy the undercoats of success ... the process. Who knows; it might even make the end result that much better and enjoyable!
Friday, January 2, 2009
In catching up on recent entries, I discovered an assessment tool called the "Wheel of Life."
"This assessment contains 9 areas that, together, represent one way of describing a whole life. This exercise measures your level of satisfaction and range of expression in these areas as a snapshot in time. As you work through the assessment you will find areas where you can acknowledge yourself on the success you have created and areas where you may want to improve your level of satisfaction. We will have some suggestions and coach-like pointers at the end, along with your completed wheel of life. Rank each statement on a scale from 1 (Highly Disagree) to 10 (Highly Agree) by dragging the sliders along the scale."
I must admit that I firmly believe that I have a good life, so I thought that taking this assessment would be a breeze and that I would have a fairly smooth wheel. Ha! Check it out:
Not smooth at all. Now, the big question is: how do I smooth it out? What do I need to do to have a comfortable ride now and in the future?
Well, before I beat myself up about this, first I want to mention that my strongest areas are: Personal Growth; Health & Well-Being; and Love/Romance. That's good! I'm really happy to know that I feel so positive about those areas.
Areas that could use improvement are: Money & Finances; Physical Environment; and Friendships. Here are my thoughts on improving those areas in the New year:
Money & Finances: we completed two cross-country moves in 2007 (including home buying and selling), which has had a lingering affect on our financial stability. I had expected that we would be solid again by now, but I think that it will take another year before we can get back to where we were before. Meanwhile, I have instituted a monthly check-in so that my husband and I can review our finances together. This is significant, as for the past 13 years I have handled most of our joint finances independently.
Physical Environment: I was surprised at how low this was, but perhaps it's because I"m sitting at a messy desk! Having a small child makes our environment naturally a little messy, but I am going to focus on managing the mess in a way that allows me to still feel calm and happy in all rooms of our home.
Friendships: The truth is, my deepest friendships are within my family. This isn't really a bad thing, but I recognize that it would be good to diversify a little bit and stretch myself to devote more time and energy to other relationships. The challenge, of course, is that I simply don't have a lot of time or energy at the end of each day, and what I do have is dedicated to my husband and daughter. I have been thinking about this for several months though, and although I don't think I can come up with a "solution," hopefully I will at least get some ideas.
I highly recommend taking the assessment - it's fun and enlightening! Let me know what you find out!