Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Holiday Wish

Well, the holiday season really snuck up fast this year. But then, the years are flying by for me these days…how about for you? All of the favorite Christmas movies and programs are on TV and, the house smells like sweet potato pie and peach cobbler. There are fruit baskets, candy dishes and assorted nuts all over the house…yup, the holidays have arrived!


My wish for this holiday season is a really outstanding 2010. I am hopeful and I really believe that a great recovery is just around the corner. I think about the law of attraction and I wonder what effect positive thinking by the masses would make? I really think that it can make a big difference. How about we turn off the cable news, avoid the nightly news broadcasts and stop reading the news blogs for just a month. If people would suspend their daily diets of bad news then perhaps, just perhaps, positive thinking would create real recovery and change.


Well, that’s my holiday wish how about yours? I’d love to read your comments!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Exellent tips on how to use selling skills as a way of life

I remember my sales trainer days like they were yesterday. Whenever I think about the anatomy of a sale I think about how it has application value for all aspects of life. Using salesmanship and selling skills in all areas makes a lot of sense and, it can get buy in for projects, goals and relationships. It can be used at work or home in all types of settings. The anatomy of sales is as follows: 
  • Establishing Rapport (building relationship)
  • Needs Probe (discovering motivation, wants needs and desires)
  • Presentation (presenting the features and benefits with the emphasis on the benefits)
  • Trial Closing (asking for a commitment)
  • Overcoming Objections (refining rephrasing and offering new information)
  • Reaching Agreement

Each of these stages can be modified to work in almost all situations.


Establishing Rapport


Whether you are meeting someone new or dealing with a person familiar to you developing rapport and relationship is an important skill to hone and use. Social media marketing shows the importance of building relationship and rapport. In fact, nothing is ever accomplished between co-operating parties without first establishing some kind of rapport. The old cliché that you get more flies with honey than with vinegar is a testimony of the utility of establishing and building rapport.  Therefore, in all things you do keep this in mind and keep your demeanor words and, actions geared toward building rapport and relationship. Think about how you are appearing to others and gauge the effect that you have on building relationship.


Needs Probe


I am full of clichés today so forgive me…smile. I have heard it said that we have two ears and one mouth for a specific reason. It is to make it possible to listen twice as much as we talk. In using selling skills as a way of life this step is important indeed. The more you can know about what makes others the way they are, the more you are armed to appeal to them to get the compromises you want. As I think back to the dating days, I remember that the needs probe, discovery or, whatever you call it was a very important part of the relationship process. Understand that the more you can know about the needs, wants and, desires of other people the more able you are to relate to them and the more you can relate to them the greater are the chances of getting them to do what you want or to compromise in ways beneficial for each of you.


Presenting the Benefits


Only after you have established rapport, relationship and, have done a thorough job of discovery can you begin to present ideas and benefits that will elicit a desired response and action. Whenever you are presenting an idea or asking for a person to do something, it is important to stress the benefits. In other words explain the benefit to the person. I think that it is wise to use the word benefit in the presentation. I can remember as a sales manager for Color Tile, I would ask my sales force to use the word benefit in their presentation. They were making fairly high dollar complicated sales and a lot of selling skills went into a successful sale. It was important to convince the prospect of the benefits they would receive from making a purchase. This can be translated into day to day interaction and will work very well in all situations. Whether you are trying to get an employee, loved one, friend to do something, it makes sense to point out the benefit. It may be a benefit to them or it could be a benefit to someone else or even yourself but, explaining the benefit is important.


Trial Closing


After steps one, two and three have been utilized it is time to ask a closing question. It may be that you are asking your teenager to do something. You have already established rapport, you understand the motivation, wants needs and desires of your teenage child, and you have presented the benefits as best you can. You still may find that you get push back. Whenever you get push back in any situation it is time to try overcoming objection techniques.


Overcoming Objections


Once you have push back now is the time to refine, rephrase and offer new information. Many times it just means that you have not done one of the other steps correctly or thoroughly. So when you get push back ask a question. “You don’t want to do this?”…”can I ask why?”


Once you get the answer rephrase it. Show that you are listening. In the teenager example it could go like this.
“So you don’t want to go with us to grandmas because you will miss Sean’s
Christmas party is that right?”
“Well, what about if we don’t leave until the next day would you be willing to go then?”
The answer will likely be yes and you have overcome the objection through compromise. If that is impossible it may be that you have to explain that leaving before Sean’s party will benefit the family and ask them to make a sacrifice for the good of the family and offer a benefit for doing that. It is just good negotiations. The overcoming objection stage should always have a closing question attached to the new information stage. In the above case the new information was postponing the trip a day but it could be anything. The new information answers the objection.


I hope this will give some food for thought and as always I appreciate feed back so feel free to comment. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

How to Write Marketing Email Copy That Gets Results

People are busy and they jealously guard their time; especially with the economic downturn. People have been laid off and, jobs have been eliminated which makes the remaining work force busier; more time strapped. So, when someone receives an email they want to be sure that it is worth their time. This makes email copywriting all the more important.

In most of the jobs that I have worked over the years, much of the email writing was left up to the sales person or business opportunity development person to do. You may reach a contact on the phone only to have them tell you to send them an email and then… if they are interested after reading it, they will set up a meeting. This puts a lot of pressure on writing the email. It is imperative that it communicates the value proposition in a clear and concise way and, that it spurs the person on to action.

Give it a compelling subject title

It is important that you promise an important benefit in the title. This has to be an obvious benefit that you are certain the prospect will be interested in. I recently read an article that explained that small businesses were trying to save money by outsourcing their IT networking services. Here is the subject title that resulted in action from the recipients. “Many companies are outsourcing IT services to save money; We can help you take advantage of this trend.” The article cited a study that showed that there was a forty percent increase in IT outsourcing to save money. The email was targeted toward small business that provided IT services and, it was designed to encourage them to take advantage of this trend in a marketing campaign.

Make the body of the email clear and concise

Again, remember that you are emailing people who are busy so you should respect their time. They will appreciate it. Make the writing conversational. Write it as though you were carrying on a conversation with them and make it as simple and short as you can while still getting your message across. Use a bulleted list to break up the copy. Here is the example of how the email went forward:


Example:
"An AMI Partners study shows that there is a 40% increase in companies seeking to outsource IT to save money.


You can increase your clients and revenue even in a slow economy. There are many ways that you can effectively and affordably market your company and, sometimes all you need is a little help. Let us see if we can help you maximize your marketing efforts and spend. Free thirty minute marketing consultation; there is absolutely no obligation. rijMarketing Offer

  • Be found on local search through local search engine optimization
  • Be listed in 70+ directories
  • Get positive reviews on local directories
  • Enjoy the benefit of Pay Per Click marketing
I can assure you this will be a beneficial thirty minutes. Call today (Phone Number) or reply to this email for a no obligation evaluation."

Call to action

It is very important that you include several opportunities for the prospect to act. There should be a link to a landing page that calls for action. There should be a phone number that calls for action. Do not take anything for granted. You should be directing the prospect at every turn. If you do this you will craft emails that will end in results.

I appreciate any feedback so be sure to comment!

Friday, December 11, 2009

3 Compelling Reasons Small Businesses and Non Profit Organizations Should Blog

With social media marketing increasing in importance, blogging is taking on the same importance for small businesses, small non-profit organizations and, churches. In fact, blogging is an important component of social media marketing for the following three reasons:
• It helps establish thought leadership and expertise
• It helps to build a brand
• It drives traffic to the business or organizations website over time
This becomes especially important to businesses and organizations that do not have large budgets to build brand recognition and awareness with other types of media advertising. Over a period of time, blogging will achieve each of the above mentioned outcomes at a much lower cost.


Establishing thought leadership


Blogging regularly, by this I mean at least six times per month, will provide content that can and will gain a following, if the content is well written, interesting and, of benefit to the readership. This is the way in which the business or organization establishes though leadership and expert status. This is true of any business or organization that offers a product or service that is in demand. It could be anything from a computer networking company, a small accountancy and, a medical practice, to a food bank, homeless shelter or community active church. The target customer, participant or member will dictate the nature of the content. For example, a community outreach church would provide content that would interest community members who would like to become an active participant in the outreach. An IT computer networking company would provide content that would help a small business or organization understand the basics of maintaining their computer network and server system. Or, a food bank would provide content that would educate people in the community about the effects of hunger.


Brand Building


Good content will develop loyal readership over time and, loyal readership will translate to brand awareness. This is a very economical way to build brand awareness. You can use the social media sites, twitter, face book and LinkedIn to promote the blog content. This is where social media and blogging become productive partners. I use the term over time often to emphasize that this is a strategy and tactic that does take time. It will not yield fruit overnight but, it will yield great results with patience. So many of the social media marketing guru’s are promising a quick result and while that can happen when something remarkable goes viral it is not the rule. The rule is that it builds slowly over time but, it also builds steadily and build is the important term.


Driving Traffic


The more interesting and remarkable the content, the faster you will drive traffic to your business or organizations website. The search engines respond well to new content, updated often and, when a blog is a link in your website it gives added importance to your website in the view of search engines. Likewise, great content will be tweeted, re-tweeted and linked to from other websites... which will provide back links to your website and, in turn, will raise the authority of your website in the view of the search engines and will drive more and more traffic to your website.


Hopefully you have seen that you should begin blogging today. I appreciate comments and interaction with my posts so feel free to comment on this blog post.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I’m looking for bloggers to join me in a mini-blog posting project?


I am interested in putting together a collaborative blog project about experience with various social media. I would like you to write a 200 – 300 word mini post explaining how you have used twitter, face book or, LinkedIn. If you email me these mini posts I will display them on my blog three at a time. I will credit you as the author and will put a link to your blog or website in your post.

Your post should tell a story of how you have used one of the three social media sites mentioned above. This will end up being a collection of mini-blog posts of 200 – 300 words. I will try to include three posts with every entry and will post them as long as I have posts submitted.  I will also send you a copy of the blog post with the three mini posts when it is posted and, you can post it on your blog also. Please give credit to the other authors, their blogs and, my blog just as you receive it. I think that 250 words would be ideal and I would ask you to not go beyond 300 words.

Let me repeat; this mini-post should give a detailed description of how you have used either twitter, face book or, LinkedIn. You can let the readers know what results you have experienced, etc. Make sure it is informative. I will select the blog posts sent to me and, if they meet the criteria, I will post them. Then, if you blog the same posts on your blog, please give credit to the authors and my blog. I think this could be a very exciting experiment and I am looking forward to lots of input.

Please send your mini blog post to jmachuta@rijenterprises.com with the subject line referring to the mini blog posting project. Thank you in advance for your participation. When you have participated and have the blog posts back to post on your blog be sure to share it with your contacts. Tweet it and, promote it in the same way you promote your blog

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How To Make Sure Your Blog Posts Get Read; 4 Suggestions

I have recently read a couple of excellent books. One is Content Rich by Jon Wuebben and the other is The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly. They have helped me think about blogging from the point of view of copywriting. This is a good strategy with any blog that you want to increase your readership for but, it is especially important for a business blog that is designed to generate traffic to your website. Using good copywriting techniques makes a big difference in blogging results.


Does the title grab attention?
Like the envelop and headline of a direct mail letter, the headline in a news article or, the subject line of an email, the title is one of the most important aspects of your blog article. Make sure that it grabs attention. People are interested in how to’s, lists of things that will bring a known benefit and, promises of knowledge that will be learned. Early on in my blogging I was more concerned about literary concerns and I have to admit that I did not grab as many readers as I could have. I am even considering changing the titles of some of my blog posts and trying them over again. I will probably do that as I have the time and I will be happy to report back my findings. Therefore, I suggest that you either think of a great title and write to it or, write an article without a title and after it is finished spend some time with the title. Let me repeat; use titles that grab!


Do not make it too long!
I try to hold my blog posts at or about five hundred (500) words. Busy people want to be able to glean information quickly. I know for a fact that when I see a blog post that is long I do not read it all unless it is something that I have to know about. However, I will read blogs of five hundred words or less much more often.


Make it keyword rich!
If you want to receive the benefit of the search engines make sure that you are using words and phrases that have large search engine results. You can become aware of these keywords from sources like wordtracker.com or, you can use the program I have called Traffic Travis. This is a program that sits on your hard drive and will give you results on popular keywords. It also gives a large variety of SEO benefits, but it is worth the price; FREE…smile. Actually, I have paid for a version that gives a little more bang but either way it is a great resource and it will help you with keywords. Don’t use them just because they are keywords…use them as they fit your subject.


Make them specific!
The more valuable information you can pack into a post the better. You don’t have to go on and on but, it is important that you are able to offer valuable information. It does not have to be original information, there is nothing new under the sun, but, if you remind people of things or state something in a new and unique way, or give a different perspective than most you will have gone a long long way down the road to great content, and that will lead to more readers.

I would appreciate any comments and observations so feel free to interact!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

4 Important Steps to Ensure Success with Online and Social Media Marketing for the Small Business Owner


Contrary to popular belief social media marketing takes time. This is especially true for the small business owner and, even truer for the small B2B owner but, that should not be the reason for not doing it. So many of the articles written do not emphasize this time element and end up making it sound like you can be a social network success overnight. Of course that has happened and will continue to happen from time to time but, it is not the rule; it is an exception. The reasons for overnight success are varied but, they involve one or more of the following conditions: The entrepreneur has found something to offer so unique that no one else is offering it or anything like it; they have made a unique video that goes viral overnight; they have developed a product or system that many people need that is not readily available any where else and so on. Let’s face it. Most of us will not do that.

So, for the rest of us, here are some important points to consider in web marketing in general, AKA web 2.0, and social media specifically. These suggestions are tailored for the small business owner:
  1. The easiest way, not the most efficient way but, none the less, the easiest way to get immediate returns from the internet is pay per click (PPC). You can do this with a rather modest budget in the beginning but you will only reap the benefit of what you can afford to pay for. There are other important factors to consider however. You must be certain that you have a compelling website that has powerful web copy/content that will ensure that many people who click take another step and execute your call to action. You will only be successful if you offer something that people need and want and the benefits have to be communicated precisely and clearly.
  2. Your website acts as a sales person for you and it is the online customer’s first impression of your business. Therefore it must be appealing to that potential customer and it must tell a story about your business that will get the prospect to act. But, you also must make it appealing for the search engines so that eventually you can drive the traffic to your site by rating high in Google, Yahoo and the other search engines. Always remember that your web copy needs to be optimized for search engines.
  3. Utilize social media marketing to get yourself known by as many people as possible. The more exposure you have on the social media sites the better but, it must be quality exposure. And, as I began this article quality exposure takes time. It must be pursued methodically with a strategic plan executed over time. It is all about networking with the right people and becoming established as a thought leader with them. On social media you want a nice mix of personal and business sharing. The business sharing should be subtle like posting your blog.
  4. Blogging is the best way to establish yourself as a thought leader and it is also the best way to add lots of good content to your site over time. Each blog post ends up being a page in the view of the search engines. Blogging will also help build you links over time which will add to your ranking in the search engines. One good thing to remember is that you don’t have to write all of this yourself. You can hire people with skill in this area that will help you out a lot.

    Following this plan will surely result in marketing success. I would appreciate your feedback on this article.

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    A B2B business owner’s Imperative; 3 reasons to become active in social media now!

    Social media has worked exceptionally well for B2C businesses. It is a remarkably versatile medium for promoting business to the public. It works for B2B as well but it seems that not as many B2B businesses have embraced social media. That must change. Here are the reasons:
    1. People continue to block interruptive marketing attempts and this becomes increasingly so day by day.
    2. Because of the blocking, direct marketing efforts become more and more difficult to execute.
    3. Direct mail is not often looked at think of the last direct mail piece you acted on.


    The old saying, “what goes around comes around’ is causing a great amount of difficulty for B2B marketers. Think about it…if you screen your calls and email, you better believe that others are doing the same. The fact is that in screening, all of us pass up the opportunities to find really beneficial products or services that we need. The reason for this is that we find that most of the time we are not interested or we do not need the product or services being offered. This is precisely the reason that we view direct marketing efforts as interruptive.


    Herein lays the importance of social media and blogging. Blogging is the perfect way to share incredible, valuable content and the social media is a perfect way to share your blogging efforts. This requires two things from B2B business people. First, they must participate in blogging and in social media and, secondly, they must have patience and be in it for the long haul. The sooner you begin this effort the better.


    The ideal perfect world for social marketing would have all B2B businesses participating regularly. This would allow social media to be the source of business exchange… you may say to me duh! It already is. Well that is true, but for the B2B segment it is not nearly true enough.


    At the very least, small B2B companies should be doing at least one thoughtful quality blog post per week and they should share it where their target audience is hanging out in the social media. Added to this, they should be giving at least two thoughtful and valuable posts per day on twitter and face book. What this does is build relationships and thought leadership over time. I want to emphasize the words over time. Social media marketing is definitely a relationship building process and this take time. Establishing yourself and your company as a thought leader takes time.

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    Why you must read Inbound Marketing; To the small B2B business owner



    I just finished reading Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, the co-founders of Hubspot. It is an informative book that I would recommend to anyone who is trying to market anything these days. Their perspective is totally focused on social media marketing and SEO methods. They reinforce the idea that interruptive marketing tactics are less and less effective as people develop ways to block and filter out the interruption.

    The centerpiece of their strategy is Google, the blogosphere and, remarkable content. They hammer the point that if content is king; then remarkable content is the Alexander the Great of content marketing. They cover all of the bases but, I found that they give just a little more detail than most. I learned some things that I was not aware of and identified some mistakes that I made early on that are not easily fixed….using macboo62 for my twitter name instead of Joe Machuta is one of them…smile.

    This book covers it all from domain names to getting found on YouTube by creating outstanding videos. It provides very detailed information about the workings of all the major social networks like Face Book, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, and Stumbleupon. It also goes into detail about each one of these venues and it reinforces the methods and strategies that are already being used by most of us.

    There is also some good advice for companies along the lines of planning for the future and measuring and hiring employees. The major argument is that web 2.0 should be considered heavily in everything that is being done. All companies would do well to have some web 2.0 savvy employees.

     I am writing to the small B2B business owner; the one who has 5 – 35 employees and is the CEO, CMO, COO and , CFO all rolled into one person.. This would be a great addition to your bookshelf. It is imperative that small B2B service businesses embrace the new rules of marketing. Yes, this book is about the new rules of marketing and the impact that they can have on the business person who is willing to wholeheartedly embrace change.

    I really appreciate feedback so feel free to make comments to my blog posts.

    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    Why Spin Selling is Important in this Economic Downturn

    Introduction:
    This is actually an older post that has been renamed. I am experimenting to see if the title change will increase the interest in the article. The idea for this was expressed in my post How to make sure your blog posts get read. If you have read this post I am not trying to spam...this is a real experiment. If you haven't read this post before read it and comment if you think it is helpful. The former title of this post was Implied, Explicit Needs and the Economic Downturn.

    Original Post:
    In re-reading a portion of the book SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham, it dawned on me that SPIN selling is even more important in this economic downturn. The book speaks mostly of the large sale, i.e., the large B2B sale. The thrust of the book then is aimed at the large sale and concessions are offered to suggest that with the smaller sale, SPIN selling is not so important. He makes the distinction between implied needs and explicit needs and concedes that in the smaller sale implied needs may be enough to close a sale. He uses an illustration example of a scale with a large price tag, $120.000.00 on the one side and a few implied needs on the other to show that the large price outweighs the implied needs.

    It dawned on me that during times of economic downturn, implied needs are not effective even in the smaller sales. For this reason it would benefit B2B sales people and businesses to review chapters three, four and five of Rackham’s book. Chapter three explains the idea of needs and differentiates between implied needs and explicit needs. He defines implied needs as statements by the prospect that identifies problems, difficulties and dissatisfactions and explicit needs as wants or desires for a specific solution to the problem. In other words, just because you can identify a problem does not necessarily insure that you have a prospect that is convinced that he or she or their company needs a solution, especially when the solution is going to cost money that is limited.

    In fact, it is only when the prospect is convinced of an explicit need that a sale can advance. The entire SPIN selling process is designed to identify implied needs and, through questioning, develop awareness of explicit needs that will justify spending money to solve a problem that is a real problem with revenue consequences. There is not a better way that I know of to do this.

    Here is a recap of the SPIN selling system. SPIN is an acronym that, as I wrote in my last blog post, stands for four types of questions used in the inquiry or investigation stage of the selling process. They are as follows:
    • Situation Questions; questions that find out basic information
    • Problem Questions; questions that identify problems
    • Implication Questions; questions that identify the implications of the problems
    • Needs/Payoff Questions; questions that help explicitly define problems needing solutions.
    During the economic downturn especially, prospects do not have the time or the patience to answer a bunch of situation questions so keep them at a minimum. The problem questions will help you identify the problems that you want to be able to solve with your goods or services. So then, the main focus should be placed on the Implication and Needs/Payoff questions. I would strongly suggest that, if you do not have one, get a copy of Neil Rackham’s book SPIN Selling and focus at the very least on chapters three four and five. You may find that it offers a lot of help in this particular economic time period.


    I would appreciate feedback on my articles. Please feel free to leave comments on my blog. I will read them and take them to heart. It can also create an important dialog that will benefit all of the readers.

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    How to switch from hard sell to thought leadership


    I cut my sales teeth prior to the internet; way before the internet as a matter of fact...smile. I was trained to think that the three most important aspects of selling was closing, closing and closing. Every time one encountered a buying signal…what should he/she do? Go for the close! In fact, everything revolved around the close. There were many retailers that used these selling techniques and many a customer was sold. Today however, people are sold less and buy more often. They buy because they understand that the product or services satisfies their wants needs or desires. They look to the person that has knowledge not salesmanship. They look to thought leaders.

    I am a great fan of Neil Rackham’s book SPIN Selling. He methodically traces the change of buying practices in the large B2B sale. He authoritatively establishes the idea that the strong closer sales tactics that I was taught do not work in the large B2B sale. Well it is becoming increasingly obvious that these strong closer sales tactics do not work today period. What has changed? The answer is the knowledge level and sophistication of the buyers. This has been made possible in large part because of the internet. Today anyone can research anything on the web. Many times the prospective buyer knows as much about the prospective product or service as does the salesman. Therefore, it is imperative that the sales person or business is involved in the early process of the sale. How you ask?  By being a thought leader and a trusted advisor is the answer.

    .My focus is on the small B2B business owner. It is very important that these small businesses establish themselves as thought leaders and trusted advisors. The how to do this is the question that needs answering. Here are some tips:

    1. Start a blog and contribute content often. It is essential that the articles offer helpful information. It does not matter so much that it is brand new information (there is nothing new under the sun) but it must be stated as freshly as possible and it can become helpful to a specific readership or vertical.
    2. You can get some of your blog information from article publishing sites like EzineArticles.com. There are hundreds of thousands of article available for reposting. Be sure that you follow their instructions and give credit to the original author and location. You demonstrate your though leadership by writing your own posts but you also show that leadership by selecting information that is helpful.
    3. Look for helpful articles at other blogs and retweet them. This goes toward establishing your thought leadership. This is especially true when you are following and are followed by people that are a part of your target market.
    4. You should publish your blog articles on article submission sites such as EzineArticles.com. This will establish you as a thought leader to an even wider audience.

    You can share your blog and articles with your prospective clients. You can also turn them into PDFs and send them along to your prospects via email. All of these things are a great start to establishing yourself as a thought leader and trusted adviser.

    I would appreciate feedback on my articles. Please feel free to leave comments on my blog. I will read them and take them to heart. It can also create an important dialog that will benefit all of the readers.


    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    B2B Cold Calling Campaigns; Do it yourself instructions

    Many times small businesses can expand their business client base and revenue by cold calling or, perhaps it could be better called, warm calling. This is a strategy and tactic that will certainly work when you are in a hurry to get additional customers or clients right away.

    First, let’s look at the limitations. Cold calling is a difficult process because you have to find a person who has a need for the product or service that you are trying to introduce and furthermore, they need to be aware of the need. This means that you must make many calls to businesses that do not need your products or services and only occasionally, you will reach a company with the precise problem you are trying to solve. Therefore, it is certain that you will get far more rejection than acceptance and it is important that it is not taken personally. Because of these reasons, it is important that you commit to this process and stick to the commitment. This means that a certain block of time must be set aside each day for this purpose.

    It is precisely because of these limitations that this process should be given to an employee who has other duties as well but, has the personality and skills necessary to do the cold calling. While you can hire outsourcing services to do this, it is probably better to use an employee on a part time basis to make it as economical as possible. It would be better to outsource some training and coaching for your designated employee.

    Pre-call Planning:
    • You must have a precise view of your target and his or her wants, needs and desires. You should be certain what is causing them pain in the area that you can provide a solution for. It will benefit you greatly to spend some time brainstorming to make a list of these needs.
    • You should have a warm offer and a good offer. This offer should entice the prospect to allow you to make a presentation to him or her. One of the best things to offer these days is knowledge. You can prepare a paper that will help the prospect solve a problem. If you are offering a free service make certain that it is a true value to the prospect.
    • The person calling, whether it is you or one of your employees should go through ten minutes of mind preparation before picking up the phone. First, let go of anything that is on your mind that can detract from a positive attitude. It is imperative that you have a positive attitude during this activity because people can pick up on non verbal signals even over the telephone…I’m not sure how this works but I am sure that it is true.
    • Be certain that you know what you are going to say before you make the call. It is important to have a written script but, you cannot read it on the phone so, you have to know the script by heart. You should practice it over and over until it is second nature to you. You should also be conversational which means that you need to take the conversation in any direction it naturally goes based upon the responses of the prospect.
    • It is better to send out email’s with offers to the list of people that you are targeting. You can use email follow-up as a reason for the call but, I think that a strong offer is better, however, even if you have a strong offer I recommend and email first.


    Finding and Preparing Your List:
    Once you decide on a target market you should then try to find a database list that has names, phone numbers and email. To get this kind of list will cost you up to $5 - $10 per contact. This may be prohibitive for many businesses and, if it is, you can get company information for free from jigsaw.com. Yes, you can download all of the companies that jigsaw has in their databases in csv format for free; that’s right, no charge. With this, you can build your own database. You can call in to get names, email, etc. I will tell you that it is better to have the names of your target or the owners but, you can get a lot of information off the internet and Jigsaw has their web addresses in the company information. Basically, your budget and need will dictate what you do in this regard. If you only want company, owner and phone number you can get lists fairly reasonable at goleads.com or infousa.com.

    Making the Calls:
    In making the calls, be sure to set aside a specific time to do it. You will want to make a minimum of sixty calls per day. Since many calls will result in no conversation at all, you should be able to make twenty to twenty-five calls per hour. It varies from industry to industry but out of the sixty daily phone calls you ought to be able to have between six to nine conversations. You can try to reach the prospect five to seven times before giving up. People are busier these days than they used to be so the call back four times rule should be replaced with a call back five to seven times.

    If you continue this process you will find a certain number of people who happen to need what you are offering right when you call and it will result in additional business, clients and revenue

    I would appreciate feedback on my articles. Please feel free to leave comments on my blog. I will read them and take them to heart. It can also create an important dialog that will benefit all of the readers.

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Time management an important aspect of marketing: Part III; Making time for social media -LinkedIn


    When you begin to look closely at the time you spend and, which activities you devote that time to, you can then plan ways to market your business in areas that you may not have used before. A great way to build relationships if you are a business to business service business is through the social media. You can network with the people that would most likely be your target client or customer. It is very important that you network and take the time to do so. Remember the old cliché Rome was not built in a day and while social networking is not a quick fix it is a very effective one.

    Here is a list of some of the social media networks that you can begin to use for marketing purposes with a suggestion or two on strategies and tactics for each one; first the list:
    1. LinkedIn
    2. Twitter
    3. Face Book
    4. ning

    LinkedIn:
    This is an excellent site for business networking and exchanging ideas. Make sure that your profile is completely filled out. The better people know you, i.e. the more detail you give about yourself, the more willing they will be to do business with you. You want to make sure that your profile is public. You want to be able to be found by anyone looking. You can choose who you connect with if you like but you want to be as accessible as possible.  Also, instead you listing your website as your company, give the hyperlink to your website the name of your business. In mine, I hyperlinked the words Small Business Marketing to my website so that there is and explanation of what I do right there in the hyperlink.
    .
    Your profile is just a small part of your strategy for LinkedIn. You should find as many LinkedIn groups to join as is possible and relevant to your business goals. Once you are a member of a group be sure that you take some time to participate in the discussions. I suggest that you have the group email updates sent to your outlook. You can sort through them and if you see a topic that interests you follow that discussion. You can use the discussions on LinkedIn groups to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. I have been able to network with many people as the result of this process.

    Here is where time management comes into play. You have to have the time to spend on doing these activities. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time. You can spend as little as a half hour a day with this process and you will find that you have expanded your network greatly. The important thing is to make this a part of your daily routine. Set a time aside in your outlook calendar for this activity every day. In subsequent posts I will show you strategies and tactics for the other social media networks.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Time management: An important aspect of marketing; Part II

    The purpose of time management is to make sure that you are utilizing your time to the max. And, as I pointed out in Part I, this will allow you to spend more time with strategies and tactics for marketing your business. If you do this, you will in turn generate new clients or customers and will most likely raise your revenue…Who can be against that?


    I stated that there are tasks that are urgent and important and I also provided a way to decide which ones fulfill that description. I also began to write about ways to organize activities that are important but not necessarily urgent. Many of your marketing efforts will fall into this category. While I pointed out that marketing is both important and urgent it is not absolutely urgent, i.e., taking all your time urgent…unless you do not have enough customers or clients to survive. At that point it is pretty urgent but, you get my point. These time management tactics will help you to be certain that you make a lot of progress over time and making a lot of progress over time will reap great rewards in future clients and customers.


    Marketing must be an ongoing activity if you are to continue to maintain and grow your business. Depending on what your business is, you should spend at least five hours per week on marketing strategy and tactics. Most entrepreneurs spend a minimum of fifty hours per week working (I know most of you spend much more) which would make five hours per week be ten percent of your time. This is really the minimum time you should spend on marketing efforts. It would be better if you spent fifteen to twenty percent of your time per week on marketing efforts. As I stated in Part I you should be using a calendar such as your outlook calendar to work as a guide. If you do this you will find that you will make a lot of really great progress.


    Now for a word about tasks that are neither important nor urgent. How much of your time is spent with these activities. What are these activities? Well, one of them is socializing with those that will not add value to your business. I am not against socializing, especially on Twitter, Face book and, LinkedIn but, make sure that it is furthering your marketing strategies. Keep your friends away from your business activities. Let them know that you will take time to speak with them after business hours. In many cases this alone will free up ten percent of your time. Other activities that are neither important or urgent include the time that you take with people trying to sell you something. Delegate this to others. If you have someone else take a short time to find out what is offered, you can be sure that you didn’t miss out on the next greatest thing.


    You should really stress this time management thing with all of your employees also. Calendars, to do lists, all work very effectively in organizing time and organizing time will help you to spend more quality time on things that are important and urgent.

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Freeing Your Mind by Roy Heeley; A book review



    I recently read an e-book written by Roy Heeley entitled Freeing Your Mind. It is an excellent read that will help you evaluate your thinking and provide you specific steps to alter your thinking which, in turn will help you have a more positive outlook and, will bring more positive outcomes into your life. Roy writes about “life sentences” which, is a play on words meaning that we often speak and think things that become self fulfilling prophecies that act like “life sentences” to us. These “life sentences” keep us bound in deleterious thought patterns that continue to manifest things that are not in our best interest and, end up causing us trouble in life.

    Here is Roy’s own words about life sentences: “So what are these Life Sentences that I am talking about and affect our lives so significantly? Well as you can imagine from the name, just like a lifetime jail sentence, it’s something that that places you in bondage, holds you captive and controls your life. It’s every bit as confining and limiting as a jail cell but, resides in the confines of the mind, the sub-concious.”

    He goes on to provide details that are very helpful in understanding this phenomenon. He helps you identify some of the “life sentences” that may be operating in your mind. Things that people say when you are a child often form these things very deeply. You may have been told that you cannot carry a tune, or you’re no good at math; they can be sentences that adults say to you that keep being repeated until they become a belief that your subconscious mind believes and acts upon.

    He also offers techniques that will help to free you from these life sentences ergo, the title Freeing Your Mind. The method that he recommends and uses as a life and motivational coach is EFT by Larry Craig. If you are inclined to look at books like the Secret, The Power of Now and A New Earth, you will do yourself a favor by reading Freeing Your Mind. You can find it here and you can check out Roy’s blog and website. Thanks Roy!

    Friday, October 16, 2009

    Time management: An important aspect of marketing; Part I

    If you are a busy entrepreneur…(is there any other kind?) then you will find that one of the main keys to improving your marketing effort is to improve your time management. I personally do not think that this is emphasized enough these days. You will be able to increase your output significantly and will be able to make sure that you take time to do marketing. I realize that much of what you do each day is marketing, but I am writing about the specific activities that will increase your marketing effort in two key areas. What are they you ask? The answer is strategic and tactical activities. Yes, I am referring to making time for strategizing and implementing tactics.


    The first thing to do is analyze how you currently spend your time and devise a method for setting priorities. You can look at all of the tasks that you regularly do in a day and place them within one of three criteria
    1. Tasks that are urgent and important
    2. Tasks that are important but not urgent
    3. Tasks that are neither important or urgent
    The first question you should ask about each activity that you do is how urgent and how important is this? Things that are both urgent and important need to have your attention. I know, a lot of people think that everything is urgent and important so here are some additional questions to help you decide objectively. Always ask yourself the question what will happen if I don’t do this? If the answer is that your world will not fall apart or your business as you know it will not end, it is *not* both urgent and important. Urgent and important things are things that will impact your business negatively immediately. You may find that some of the things that you have self labeled as important and urgent are neither or at the very least only important.


    Tasks or activities that are important but not urgent can be handled by allotting a certain amount of time daily to accomplishing them. I suggest that you use a calendar to plan your day even when you do not have meetings. Outlook is a good way to do this if you are working in front of your computer because you can get alarms to remind you when your allotted time for a specific activity begins and ends. When the alarm alerts you that it is time to begin a task, ALWAYS stop what you are doing unless it is absolutely urgent and begin the next planned activity or task. Likewise, when the alarm comes up for the next task; stop. I suggest a five minute alarm, i.e., five minutes before the next activity is to start have the alarm alert you to the next activity.


    This will help you methodically monitor the time you are spending on each activity each day and it will make it easy to get the most out of your time. Hopefully this analysis will allow you to make time for marketing activities as they are both important and urgent.


    In the next post of this series we will look at how you can eliminate many of the tasks that are neither important or urgent and, also. how you can begin to delegate activities and tasks and, incorporate this same method of time management with your employees.

    Sunday, October 11, 2009

    What do basketball stars have in common with your sales force


    Okay, you ask, what do basketball stars have in common with my sales force? The answer is simple.  Both need coaching.  Yes, an important element in the performance of a basketball superstar is good coaching.  Guess what, likewise an all-important element in the performance of a sales superstar is good coaching. 


    The reason for needing a coach is fundamental.  When one is caught up in the heat of the game it is impossible to see all that is going on around.  The coach has a different stake in winning and sees a larger picture.  The coach can see things that are hidden from the view of the player as he moves up and down the court.  The coach can tell when it is beneficial to pass the ball so that a score can be made.  So, you get it, you see the analogy.


    What are the obstacles that prevent a coach and a basketball superstar from benefiting from the relationship they have with each other?  Well, one of the biggest obstacles is ego.  Who’s you ask? The answer is both.  The ego of the coach and the ego of the superstar stand in the way of making the relationship beneficial.  In fact, there are many instances where a perfectly good superstar is traded and the team suffers loss because of the conflict of egos between the player and the coach.  How many thousands of companies have traded sales superstars for the same reason?


    Five practical activities for building good relationships between coaches and salespeople are as follows:
    1. Affirm and acknowledge the need for coaching often
    2. Reassure the salesperson that coaching is not a criticism of skills but rather is a method for making the very skilful even better
    3. Affirm and acknolwedge the skill level that is already developed in the sales person.
    4. Carry on continual dialogue concerning the reason for coaching
    5. Save teasing and joking for other areas of the work place.  Never belittle or embarrass the salesperson.  Be sensitive to the ego of the salesperson.


    It is a natural human tendency to get complacent.  Familiarity with the job and the repetition of tasks and approaches over and over, tend to bring a person to a place of being mediocre or run of the mill.  This is where affirming the need for coaching is critical.  When a sales staff is accustomed to the coaching aspect of ongoing training and preparation, there is room made for real growth and the sales person can remain vital.  The sales person must have internalized the idea, that no one gets to the point of knowing, past which, there is no additional learning.  It has been said, “the enemy of learning is knowing[1].”


    Being sensitive to the salespersons ego is paramount to a successful coaching relationship.  This is why sales managers are not necessarily good candidates for sales coaches.  The sales manager is in the position of authority and ultimately is responsible for discipline action all the way through termination of the salesperson.  This is seen as a conflict of interest by the salesperson and stands in the way of allowing the sales manager to truly fulfill the role of coach.  The coach must reassure the salesperson often that he/she believes in his/her worth as a sales professional.  This opens the door to conversation that can focus on improving the selling skills, delivery and methods of the salesperson.  The salesperson is much more open to accept coaching input if he/she realizes that they are valued by the coach.  The best way to build this rapport is to concentrate on catching the salesperson doing something that is praiseworthy. Everyone likes to know that they are appreciated and recognized for their efforts.  This step is an important part of coaching.  This affirms their value as a salesperson and equips them with the ability to take correction from the coach.


    Speak often about the need for ongoing coaching; Dialogue about the ways that coaching is improving production.  Once the sales superstar can identify the benefit of coaching in his/her commission checks and added recognition, coaching will be an accepted part of their selling regimen.  Coaching is especially profitable when the sales cycle is extended.  The coach can help with strategizing in all aspects of communication with the prospective client.  Remind the sales people that focus is an important factor and a good coach helps focus efforts with a closing sale in mind.


    There is an age-old cliché that states, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  This is never truer than in the case of working with sales superstars.  Embarrassment and teasing is a poor motivator.  Sometimes it is easier to use this method than the tried and true method of having difficult discussions in a forthright manner.  This is the job of the sales manager and the coach.  The coach’s honest communication should be given in a non-threatening way with the purpose of changing unproductive behavior.  It should be given in private so that the sales person is not put on the spot.  The sales manager can save the tough dialogue for the disciplinary encounters that can be handled no other way.  This is always after the individual has refused to be coached.

    Winning teams are teams that have great superstars and great coaches.  When they work together for a common goal they become unstoppable.






    [1] Selling For Dummies pp. 90; Selling For Dummies, Tom Hopkins, IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., Foster City, CA 1995


    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    A Marketing Coach; Why you may need one?

    The purpose of a coach:


    First, let’s take a look at the function of a coach in general. According to dictionary.com a coach is a person who trains and instructs another, as in an athlete, singer or actor. But, the definition is more than that. All of the really famous and memorable coaches were also great motivators. Therefore, it is fair to say that a marketing coach is a person who trains, instructs and motivates one in marketing.


    When looking at coaching in athletics, the function of a coach is to keep an eye on the game, whatever that may be and, to see outside and beyond the heat of the competition. Players are caught up in the game and a coach is watching from a sideline vantage to see all that is going on. The coach can see things that the player misses and can make suggestions that will help the player adjust his or her game in a way that will make winning easier. Likewise the coach can offer encouragement when it is needed to urge the player to participate harder; this is where motivation comes in. It does not stop there however; a coach also helps the player be more accountable for execution of skills necessary for the game. It is obvious that even with the most seasoned professional athletes a coach is still necessary. The reason is that the coach can see the needs of the team and help direct the players to work together with strategies meant to win. Without a coach it is easy for the players to become obsessed with their own skills and situation at the expense of the performance of the team as a whole. A coach can spend time studying the latest skills and methods and become an expert instructor that helps the natural athlete improve his or her skills. It is obvious that there are many reasons that coaches and coaching are imperative to successful athletics. The examples could go on for many paragraphs but I think the point has been made.


    A marketing coach:


    Now let’s look at a marketing coach. A marketing coach can gain knowledge of your current situation, what you are doing to market your business now and, can begin to make suggestions for ways that you can improve your marketing efforts very similar to the way the athletic coach does. A coach can research best practices around your industry and help you implement those best practices which can add to your revenue. A coach is not in the heat of the game so to speak, that is, not in the day to day struggles and accomplishments of your business routine and, can see things that are obvious to an outside view but difficult to see from within. A marketing coach can offer motivational support to be certain that correct habits are being built. During my sales management and coaching days, I found that much of the time, sales people would revert back to their ways of comfort after learning new techniques that improved the selling skills even when they improved sales, because it is easier to go back to something familiar than it is to develop new habits. A marketing coach can provide the accountability necessary to ensure that new practices are implemented. A marketing coach sees the big picture and is aware of techniques that are working for others that you may not be aware of. Finally a marketing coach can provide this kind of support in a relatively short time, that is, from one or two hours per week to one to two hours per month. In short, it is a very affordable way to impact your revenue.


    You can find a coach at rijMarketing

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    Building your brand; How is it developing?

    In reading the book, Conversations With Marketing Masters, by Laura Mazur and Louella Miles it occurred to me that each of us, especially with the web as it is now, are in the process of building our brands. All of these marketers spoke of building personal and corporate brands. It used to be that when one thought of brands and brand awareness that you automatically thought of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran or Honey Nut Cheerios, Budweiser Beer, or Coca Cola. Brand building was most obvious on Television, Radio and in the News Paper and when one thought of the term brand they generally thought of large national brands that had become everyday household names.


    Of course the term brand originated with cattle branding. One would put the name or symbol of the ranch on cattle by burning a brand into the hide and would thereby show who owned the animal when they ran on the open range. A brand was the way to separate and identify. In marketing the term has come to mean the identification of a company, person or product. For example, corporations with famous and trusted brand names make sure that they include the corporate name in the product or service name.


    When you stop to think about it, even before the internet, (are there any readers that remember that time?), in small towns across America, companies and people were known for their brands. A local hardware would be known through out the county, for example Smith’s Hardware Supply…. and along with that went a connotation about the business. It may have been that Mr. Smith was noted for having a large inventory so that you could find anything you needed or, it may have been that he was always ready to give you tips on doing projects…but whatever it was it was a brand that was known by many people in the community. It was not thought of as a brand and was not described that way but, still it was a brand. Along with the identifying name of the business went spoken and unspoken understandings that were built up over a long period of business experience. That very simply is a brand.


    You see where this is going…right? Today, with access to the internet and all of the social media websites, yahoo groups, blogs, company and personal websites, people and companies are building brands every day. This brings up the title of this post and the question in it. What is your brand and how is it developing? Is it developing in ways that set you apart as a trusted advisor, the go to person? …or is it developing the idea that you are a spammer, shallow with little to offer? You can decide. You are in control of the content that you offer and the methods that you use. Remember that once you have begun to develop a brand it is very difficult to change. First impressions are lasting impressions all too often.


    This is why it is necessary to take it slowly and, I am preaching to myself as much as to others. Using social media to build your own personal brand awareness is an endeavor that should take a lot of thought and time. In fact, I cannot think of a single thing that would be more important. Make sure that when you participate you are offering something that has value to someone…you’re building your brand after all.


    You can always reach me at rijMarketing