Game Faces

Game Faces

You’ve heard it from everyone, your colleagues, other business owners, your dog- networking is fundamental to growing your business. That means you need to get out there, meet new people and introduce yourself and your business to everyone.

That seems like an easy thing to do, and it is certainly an easy thing to suggest for someone to do. But the reality for many small business owners is that we are paralyzed by fear, or our expectations are never met, or, sometimes, we are having a bad day and don’t want to socialize. Whatever the reason, sometimes we just don’t want to go to that event.

Entrepreneurs are often caught up in trying to make the best impression, trying to make sure we meet everyone- and all the right people. We end up losing touch with who we are as individuals and everything becomes about the business. Many of us are also perfectionists, so when we attend an event – we want to make sure our elevator pitch is perfect, we are on top of our game and we are feeling good.

The thing is, nothing is ever perfect. And that’s ok.

This week I had an event lined up that I was initially very excited about attending, but as the week began and the date of the event crept closer I became more and more worried about attending. You see, over the weekend, my dog accidently smashed his very large (Great Dane) head into mine- and his canine tooth punctured the skin of my forehead. This giant gash on my face was an unforeseen accident- and it completely derailed my enthusiasm most things  in life (having a crazy bad headache will do that) and especially for the event later this week. As the week wore on and my face and eyes began to swell up more and more, and the bruising began to develop I was mortified that I would have to go to an event and meet people- I mean, what a first impression!

While I went through my week feeling like Sloth from Goonies, I looked for ways out of attending and even tried to convince myself it wasn’t going to be a worthwhile event.  I was still talking myself out of it in the car in the parking lot outside the event. I took one last look at my bruised- but thankfully much less swollen face in the visor mirror, took a deep breath and decided to go in.

And, I am glad I did.

It was a great event, I met a bunch of people and made a ton of new connections. That last breath in the car was the “let all the worry go” breath- and it worked. It worked like it always does. And I was able to go in there, be myself and talk about my business. Was it perfect? Certainly not. Did that matter? No.

So listen, the point here is, I know it can be hard and there are a million reasons why you don’t want to go to the networking event. But, if I can do it with a head wound and swollen face- then you can do it.

Breathe. Let the worry go. Put your game face on. You’ve got this.


What Not To Do When You Start A Business

What Not To Do When You Start A Business

There are a million tips out there for starting your business. But there are a few things NOT to do until you spend some time doing some serious research.

Don’t write a business plan yet

Research your idea and if it already exists, who the competition is, and who the perceived competition is. What’s “perceived competition” you ask?  Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of believing they don’t have any competition in the market because no one else does EXACTLY what their idea does. But, the public doesn’t necessarily know or believe that. You need to research the companies who are doing something similar- even if you don’t think they are really competition, the public may not realize that.

Don’t name your business/ product yet

Research your concepts, and please please hire a professional designer and brand strategist to help you with this. You need to make sure no one else has that name, or similar concept- because I expect you want to avoid trademark infringement.  Plus, you need to know who your target audience is and how they will respond to your brand.

Don’t  start searching for funding yet

You need to have more than an idea. You need to have completed the research on your competition, market, target audience and overall idea before you even think about approaching someone and asking for funding. Serious investors are going to want to see a full business plan that is well written and well developed through research. Hire a professional capital generation firm to help you find qualified funders when you are ready.

Don’t rely on what your friends and family say

Listen, they are your friends and family, there are certain things that they will tell you and certain things they will not. Asking people in your inner most circle will not reveal how the general public and your target audience actually feel about your idea. Most people who know you will not share their full feelings- good or bad- with you as the idea originator. Instead, invest in a focus group. It will reveal a great deal about your idea and will ultimately lead you in the best direction possible for success.

So, get to work, you have a lot of homework to do! And, after you do all that- talk to a professional third party to do some additional research for you.  Being armed with the back up you need will make all the difference in your success.


The Mad Hatter

The Mad Hatter

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Entrepreneurs wear many hats.”  I am equally as sure that if you are running a business you have come to understand the sentiment behind this phrase very well.

Being nimble and able to make quick decisions, and jump in and roll up our sleeves to do whatever needs done to propel our businesses forward is all part of being a successful entrepreneur. And you are willing to wear whatever hat best fits the task at hand. The thing is, not every hat fits the same, so inevitably you start to wear some hats less and less and those things end up being overlooked. But the important thing to remember is: that’s ok.

Sometimes, as entrepreneurs it's hard to admit that you aren’t able to handle everything in your business perfectly. It is ok to realize that no one looks perfect in EVERY hat.

The trick to being a successful entrepreneur is to figure out which hats best suit your skill set and hand the other hats off to professionals who can handle them.

Let’s think about this: Which hat best fits you?

Hat 1: Business Owner

Legal, operations, financial responsibilities, vision and mission

Hat 2: Sales

New business sourcing, sales tactics and materials, follow up, sales

Hat 3: Accountant

AR and AP, cash flow, P&L, payroll

Hat 4: HR

Employees, benefits, hiring

Hat 5:  IT

Infrastructure, updates, security, software

Hat 6: Client Management

Tracking, communication, fulfillment

Hat 7: Marketing

Strategies and analytics

Hat 8: Marketing

Digital media (website, social media)

Hat 9: Marketing

Branding, packaging, creative

Hat 10: Advertising

Promotions, giveaways, coupons, paid spots

Trying to wear all of these hats all the time will certainly drive you mad. So, take a moment and consider your strengths and find the hats that best fit you, then find trusted professionals to handle the others. In the end, it will free you up to do the things you enjoy doing, and saving your sanity.

 


3 Things We Learned From Our Last Failure

3 Things We Learned From Our Last Failure

Let’s be honest, most marketers don’t talk about our failures. In most cases, we share our success stories, because that’s what we feel good about and what we think matters the most to you. But, the truth is we actually learn the most from our failures.  And the more we learn, the more knowledge we have to share with you.

Our last failure was technically a marketing success, we exceeded our goals, and sold more than we expected- but we still consider it a failure because we could have done better, and it wasn’t our best work. As a result, we learned three really valuable things.

1 | Expectations

We like to give our clients everything they want. But in this case, we did too much. We didn’t set realistic expectations, and instead found ourselves chasing lofty goals the client had created for us.  A very real part of our job as professionals is to be clear and lay out the realistic expectations for your project upfront. We failed to do so and it caused a lot of headaches and stress on both sides of the table.  Even though we were technically successful- we still felt deflated and like we failed- all because the clients expectations weren’t met.  The knowledge we gained from going through this trying process was that we needed to update our project management, and overall process. Which is exactly what we did. We hired a great project manager – hi Liz! And we re-vamped our entire process so that we are always on the same page when it comes to expectations, deliverables and outcomes.

2 | Red Flags

Sometimes, a project creates little red flags of warning – perhaps the client is too demanding, or isn’t interested in our expert advice, or maybe they don’t care enough to put in the work that is needed. No matter the case, when these red flags appear- for either the client or the agency- they need to be addressed and not ignored. On this project, we ignored the red flags that the expectations kept changing, and that the client kept changing their minds about what direction to go- mid way through the implementation. And that was a mistake. What we learned was that we need to address our red flags, and even if it means that we cannot continue working with a client,  we need to be honest about that. Implementing this new strategy has made all of our client relationships stronger.

3 | Documentation & Communication

We learned a big one about tracking everything with this project. As client expectations changed and they asked us to shift focus mid project, we learned that we needed to track and document everything, for the clients sake as well as ours. Things changed so quickly that both of us lost sight of the bigger picture and our goals. This failure led to the implementation of a new, higher standard of client tracking and communication. Remember Liz, our project manager I mentioned before? She is in charge of documenting everything for the client, including weekly follow ups, total project status documents and detailed reports.

Overall, we learned a great deal and our failures led to some really positive changes in our client policies, processes and project management, and that’s something to feel good about.


launching new product

5 Most Important Things To Know When Launching A New Product

5 Most Important Things To Know When Launching A New Product

There are a lot of factors to consider when planning on launching a new product to the market. While you are considering all the needed aspects of the product itself, like where to manufacture it, what materials to use, and how to engineer it to solve the problem, don't forget to take your potential customers into account from the very beginning.

1 | Target Audience Research

Before you start any new endeavor, you need to make sure you are figuring out who is going to buy your new product. Most entrepreneurs believe they have solved a problem – for people just like themselves. And most have taken the time to ask their family and friends if their idea is interesting. But you wont be successful if the only people willing to buy your product know you personally. You need to dig deeper, do the research and define who your target audience really is.  Their demographics, interests, where they live and work , where they play and what type of products they buy.

2 | Product Testing

After you figure out who is going to buy your product, you need to ensure that it actually solves their problem. This means making sure your product stands up to any claims it makes, and testing for durability, reliability and quality. Plus, you need to test for how your audience interacts with your product- and make improvements when needed.

3 | Branding & Packaging

Now that you know your audience, and have the product they have been dreaming of, you need to make sure you are attracting them – the best way to do that is to take everything you have learned about who your audience is and what they like, and create branding and packaging that appeals to them. Your brand needs to be clear and consistent and your packaging needs to work well with your product, work for the outlet that is selling it and be appealing to your audience.

4 | Timing

Launching a new product is exciting, and you will want to do it quickly because it is human nature to want to share your excitement with the world. But consider timing- be aware of if your product has a seasonal nature to it, and if you are selling via retail outlets what their buying patterns are like.

5 | Patience

Like above, you are excited, and you want to move quickly- but take your time, and consider the audience, and timing and be patient when it comes to launching your new product.  Be patient during the testing phases, and when working with professional agencies who are assisting you- taking your time and working through all of the hurdles will only make you more successful.

Taking each of these areas into account along with product development ensures a more successful launch- but it is just the beginning.  Once your product is introduced to the market there are a million more things to do.  Check out what's next.


New Product Launch

I Launched My New Product - Now What?

I Launched My New Product - Now What?

Congratulations!  You have launched your new product. You’ve done extensive market and industry research and testing. You know your target audience, and you’ve even designed a killer website! Your new product is sure to solve all the world’s problems.

But, it’s been a week, and no one except your mom has purchased anything.  Does this mean your product is an epic failure? Are you doomed? The answer is no.

First, relax and don’t let this freak you out. Here is a handy infographic to help you understand how the adoption sequence works. Chances are- you are the beginning.


email marketing

Email Marketing Best Practices

Email Marketing Best Practices

When I started my first business, I knew I would need an email marketing plan. But that was all I knew. I didn't know how to set it up, how to make it appealing and I certainly didn't know how to attract subscribers. I made mistakes constantly. If you are new to email marketing, you will too.

So here are some basic tips to keep you on the right track:

  • Make sure what you are saying is YOU. Keep it simple and make sure it's coming from you not a template or pre-boxed source of content. Your audience can tell the difference.
  • Don't focus so much on unsubscribes. It is bound to happen and that's ok. This is an opportunity for you to learn more about who DOES like getting information from you so you can build a better list.
  • Make sure you send people something they have interest in. Figure out what your audience wants to learn and give it to them.
  • Test everything. Seriously. Every. Single. Thing.

After I went through extensive training, studied email marketing practices and good old trial and error learning, I realized that email marketing can be and in most cases should be a part of your overall marketing strategy- regardless of what industry you are in. I also realized most businesses are still making common mistakes.  So use this infographic as a reminder, and let us know if you still need help.


Facebook for Business

Social Media: Facebook

Social Media: Facebook

We hear a lot of thoughts when it comes to social media-  especially the why and how to use it for business.  The most commonly referred to platform is Facebook- for good reason.

Have you said or thought any of these:

“Why should I use Facebook for business? I don’t even use it personally.”
“Facebook isn’t my audience.”
“I can manage my Facebook page myself, it’s not that hard.”
“I just use my personal Facebook page as my brand page”
“I can do it myself, I mean, how often do you really have to post stuff- once a week?”

Well, here are some helpful statistics to think about.

Facebook for business:
There are over 1.5 billion people on Facebook. 900 million of them on it every day. Facebook touches every age group from 18-65+

 

Successful Facebook for business pages post multiple posts per day, and managers spend between 4-6 hours on Facebook daily to create a positive and active presence. And this isn’t even accounting for the in-depth advertising components of Facebook.

Have you put together a detailed strategy for your social media? Do you have a dedicated employee who understands the ins and outs of what to post, when to post it and where?
No? We can help.


what is marketing

First Things First: What is Marketing?

First Things First: What is Marketing?

Chances are, you’ve heard the term “Marketing” applied to many things. From using social media to making cold calls, marketing covers a wide array of topics. Most people equate marketing with either sales or advertising, seeing a direct correlation between the sale of your product or service with either paid advertisements or a successful sales team. This makes sense- you see an increase in sales, and you know your marketing efforts are working. But, marketing is much more involved than that. And most businesses are only touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a full marketing strategy. There is a bigger picture.

Which is why, whenever I am asked what marketing really is, I explain it as an umbrella term.

Allow me to illustrate: What is marketing?

 

See what I mean? Most businesses have not developed a detailed business strategy that accounts for ALL of these things and how a well-developed plan can dramatically increase sales, even more so than you are currently experiencing.  But how do you do ALL of this? Honestly, you can’t. You are too busy running your business. That’s where we come in.

Learn more about our Left Brain + Right Brain approach and how we can help you reach the next level.