Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Webinars and thought leadership: Are you providing valuable information, or just giving a sales demo?

Thought leadership is a term that is often used but, frankly, when I look at blogs, and attend webinars it seems to me that thought leadership is a term that is not well understood. That is odd because thought leadership is self defining. Establishing one's company as a thought leader shows that the company can and will provide valuable content free of charge.

Thought leadership is all about creating, providing, and publishing very valuable content about a specific area of business that others will benefit from and appreciate. The key is providing it free with very few strings attached. This should be true of your webinars as well. Webinars are in reality web-seminars and seminars should provide valuable content that your prospects can use.

If you start thinking of webinars as funnel builders that nurture prospects closer to being buyers you will then have embraced the proper intent for doing them. Here is the payoff: If you really provide valuable information in a way that appears that you are not looking for a sale in return you make the prospect feel as though they can trust you to help and be helpful to them. This will build up a generous amount of good-will and will translate into  the prospect being willing to receive email, news-letters and warm calls. Providing valuable free content is a very sound way of building a lasting rapport.

Think of the amount of times you have attended a webinar only to have it end up seeming like a sales demo. You are not very likely to attend another in the future are you. What's the old saying? "fool me once shame on you; fool me twice shame on me.

Time is a very valuable commodity and you should realize that people are inundated with cold calls, email, and snail mail. They are on guard of their time and they don't often like intruders. If you get a director or an executive on the phone these days you are lucky to get a minute and a half of their time. You have thirty seconds to get their attention. Believe me I know. I work on the phones as an outbound marketing consultant a lot. In some cases cold calling is really the only answer for quick results.

What I am sharing here is a form of consultative selling whereby you establish yourself as a trusted thought leader that can nurture prospects and over the long run gain a larger chunk of their valuable time.

When is the time to begin? the answer is right now. The sooner the better. But realize that you are doing work that will yield rewards much later on. Let's give webinars a good name. Let's make them something that people are really interested in attending.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Small Business Branding; Making your new start-up known

You have a great idea. You perform a needed service reliably and inexpensively. You make the best pizza in your town. You can save companies a great deal of money on maintenance. This list could go on and on. One of the challenges of starting a new business, introducing a new product, offering a better, cheaper, more convenient, way of doing things is being unknown. If people cannot find you, do not know what you do, do not know if they can trust you, then you will not be successful in starting a business. You must have revenue to survive, and that comes from having clients or customers.

In this post I want to help you think about your planning as you consider starting a business. Many entrepreneurs are very good at a specific skill but may not have marketing skills. Added to the problem is the fact that Marketing is changing greatly and has changed at this time in business history. One has to consider questions like do I want to do outbound marketing or inbound marketing? What is the cost of each way of marketing my product or service?  What will drive the most potential customers to my business the fastest? What do I need for outbound marketing? What do I need to do inbound marketing?

Let me take a minute to explain the difference. Outbound marketing is traditional marketing that has been done for years. It is distributing flyers, making cold calls, sending out mailers, putting an ad in the yellow pages or a paper. The problem with this is that as the years move on these kinds of marketing efforts become less and less successful. Buyers, whether consumers or businesses are more sophisticated and a lot less tolerant of outbound methods of marketing. There is a do not call list for consumers and violating it can be expensive.

On the other hand, inbound marketing uses the internet, networking groups, word of mouth, email and it all starts with providing valuable content. Websites, blogs, social media can bring customers to you if you provide them with content that they want. The content can be in the form of blog articles, e-books, and whitepapers. What matters most is that it is content that will be helpful to people and will establish you as a though leader in your field. The way it works is content will bring people to your website and when there they can find out what products you sell or what services you offer. If over time you have provided great content you will find that potential customers begin to trust and respect you and all the while you are building your brand.

The drawback to inbound marketing is that it takes time. You cannot establish yourself as a thought leader in a short period of time. It has to be over time that this naturally takes place. Start-ups often do not have the luxury of time. Therefore they are forced to do some type of outbound marketing.

The best way to do outbound marketing is phone, flyers and mailings. It does take time and tenacity and is not for the faint of heart, but if you do it diligently it will produce fruit. I think that the best approach for a new business is to have a strategy that includes both inbound and outbound marketing. If you do both you will achieve two ends. One, you will get more clients, customers and thus revenue right away and two, you will begin the kind of activities that will drive customers to you over the long run.

You can find help with both from rijMarketing