Here are 6 tips that will make you look like a rockstar when promoting your small business online from the Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson.
Here are 6 tips that will make you look like a rockstar when promoting your small business online from the Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson.
The difference between entrepreneurs and “normal” people is that normal folks may actually believe that it’s all been done before, that the good ideas are already taken. Entrepreneurs know different. We entrepreneurs believe that there’s always a fresh approach to a field or a product that can be profitable if it’s launched the right way.
One of the most effective ways to put a fresh spin on a business is by combining, or blending aspects of two different businesses. Whether it’s as simple as combining peanut butter and jelly together in one jar, or as complex as blending drive-thru fast food service with the wedding industry to create Las Vegas’s drive-thru wedding chapels, creatively fusing two industries can give you an edge and set you apart from all of your competitors.
I’ve found two clever ways that entrepreneurs have used blending to create profitable ventures, and I’m sure there are more!
Entrepreneurs are some of the best out-of-the-box thinkers around, and I’m constantly amazed by the innovative blends that smart business owners develop and market to become great success stories.
When was the last time a customer told you that money is no object as long as you produce a good-enough product or service whenever it is convenient? OK, you have a right to laugh because these situations only happen in the dream world. In the real world, customers make unreasonable demands every day. It is your job to find realistic ways to make your customers’ dreams come true.
Any certified project manager (or even someone who plays one on TV) can tell you about the triple constraint that affects every project without exception. Also known as the “business triangle”, this rule says that projects involve three basic components: time, quality and cost. You can skimp on any two of these components, but not all three. This triangle is indisputable, but unlike the Bermuda Triangle, you can in fact get around it.
So, what do you do when a prospective customer wants to pay standard costs for you to create custom order tracking software for their business in two weeks? Sure, you can turn down the job, recognizing that you’ll have to throw profits out the window to bring a high-quality project in on time. But, I often advise companies to figure out ways to deliver everything that the customer needs on time and within budget — and sell it to the customer.
Obviously, every product or service must work properly and deliver the results that your customer needs. But in the project management world, a major part of quality is scope, so now is the time to figure out what that customer truly needs to track orders easily and accurately. This can involve eliminating unnecessary bells and whistles or even finding reasonable ways to develop most features that your customers want, even if they don’t absolutely need them.
For example, you have to customize the data entry screens to suit the customer’s requirements. But, rather than developing the mountains of reports that they requested, plug in a third party report generator. You’ll probably want to create the most important reports for them, but they might be thrilled when you sell them on the idea that they can easily create any report that they want on a whim.
At a minimum, if your client is hyper focused on speed and/or cost, then you need to sell them on the idea that version 1.0 with less features is appropriate for now and, if applicable, that they can upgrade in the future.
If your clients are like Veruca Salt from the Willy Wonka movies, once they decide that they want something, they want it now. Your customers may understand that developing that order tracking system to spec takes time. Unfortunately, they still want it faster than you can produce a custom software system from scratch.
It’s an entrepreneurs job to channel McGyver when necessary, so think about ways to get around “recreating the wheel” from scratch. You have many opportunities to build efficiencies into your process and your options increase with every project. Maybe you can save time by starting with an earlier program that tracked widgets for another customer. Or, if you need to create custom widgets, can you customize an existing mold that you have created earlier? By looking at your company’s big picture, you can shave time off of many projects.
Of course, you can also throw more workers at the project to get more done in less time, but this solution adds more expenses to your bottom line.
By now, you’re probably recognizing that you can often tweak one element of the business triangle to get more mileage out of the others. Project costs are no exception.
If you cannot escape the need to bring in more programmers for that order tracking system, you might consider bringing in a talented intern from the local technical college. Interns can handle the more repetitious tasks under the direction of your own trusted staff while adding valuable experience to their resumes. Or, rather than bringing in more quality assurance testers, your customer may welcome the opportunity to get a sneak peek at an early version of their system while doing their own testing. In addition to notifying you of any inaccuracies, they may even be delighted to get a jump start on data entry.
Naturally, you want to look at the cost of materials as well. Any place that you can save is a win. While it’s nice to provide user documentation on 22-pound bright white paper, less bright 20-pound stock serves the purpose just as well. In fact, you can avoid paper costs entirely with online documentation, just like the major players in the software industry.
There’s always a way around at least one constraint. View each customer demand as a fun puzzle that you need to solve. Take a step back and let your natural dedication and creativity put the puzzle together, so that it fits customer needs while advancing your business.
Can you scare customers into buying your product? Fear can actually sell as much as sex or desire since it will trigger people to take action.
According to Lea Dunn of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business, when people feel alone and afraid, they form an emotional attachment to the brands around them. She states that in this heightened state, consumers are more likely to remember those products and think of them favorably. Dunn says this happens because fear induces a need for human connections and if there are no people present, products fill the gap. She believes this emotional attachment happens because people think the product actually “shared” that experience with them.
In works in many sales situations. Behavioral psychologist Dr. Wyatt Woodsmall said that “If you can find out what people’s worst nightmare is, camp out inside their nightmare…[they’ll] do anything…to get out of that situation.”
News broadcasts have peddled fear for years. An insider rallying cry of the media has always been, "If it bleeds, it leads". Famous brands use fear all the time to sell their products. For example, L’Oreal’s tag line of “Because I’m Worth It” confronts self-loathing among women. FedEx’s “Absolutely, Positively Overnight” addresses the fear of missing a deadline. Nike’s “Just Do It” takes aim at missing out because the consumer is afraid.
Fortunately, you don't need to rob prospects to sell them a home security system. Here is how to scare customers into buying:
Fear-based marketing does not have to be all gloomy. Articulate the negative to what prospects are currently doing and provide a solution to alleviate that fear.
Small business owners fret over what their logo looks like. They want it to be clean, cool or fancy. What they should really focus on is how it makes a customer feel since logos play a large role in their purchasing decisions. Researchers at the University of Amsterdam found that children as young as two years old could recall a logo and its product 67% of the time. By eight, 100 percent of children tested could associate the logo with the product.
Brand logos are valuable property because they evoke emotions connected with buying. For the first time in the history of Interbrand’s Best Global Brands report, Apple was the top brand. Google jumped to number 2 and Coca-Cola, the brand that held the number one position for 13 years was number three. The total value of all 100 Best Global Brands was $1.5 trillion with the Google brand logo being worth over $100 billion alone.
According to a new research at Financesonline.com, colors evoke a specific emotional response from a customer. This is important since 75% of all buying decision are emotional.
Here are what specific colors mean:
Red means active, passionate, trustful, love, and intensity. Think Coca-Cola and Target. Red Bull wants customers to see their brand as intense and active.
Yellow means energy and joy. Think Ferrari, Shell and Best Buy. McDonalds wants customers to associate their brand with happiness.
Orange means creative, determined, joyful and the beach. It can stimulate mental activity. Think Fanta and Firefox. The Home Depot wants to help its customers be creative in the Do-It-Yourself market of home construction and repair.
Pink is often associated with feminine brands. It means love, warm, sexuality and nurturing. Think Barbie and T-Mobile. Oprah’s Oxygen network is aimed at women.
Blue means depth, stability, calm, trust, comfort, and reliability. Think Samsung, IBM, Intel, GE and Ford. When a customer buys from Nextiva, they know that their office communications will always be reliably delivered.
Green means relax, peaceful, hopeful and natural. Think Starbucks and BP. Heineken beer wants their customers to feel exactly this way.
Brown is associated with the Earth. It means reliability, support, dependability and grounded. Think Godiva Chocolate and M&Ms (at least the brown ones). UPS has become synonymous with this type of consistent reliability.
Black means formal, mystery, bold, luxurious and serious. Think Blackberry. Customers shop at Tiffany’s for that special occasion.
A logo should not just be “pretty or cool”. Determine what feeling do you want your brand to evoke? Choose your colors wisely.
Barry Moltz helps get small businesses unstuck. His new book, “How to Get Unstuck: 25 Ways to Get Your Business Growing Again” is now available.
A couple of years ago I was scheduled to attend an accounting seminar, and I was dreading it every bit as much as you’d expect. Making numbers interesting ain’t easy, and my experience is that accountants typically aren’t the most lively public speakers. I arrived at the seminar, armed myself with about a gallon of coffee, and settled in to see if maybe, just maybe, the guy running the show might actually keep me awake.
It was just as awful as I’d feared. Not only did the accountant show up in a suit that looked like a 1980s KGB castoff, but he also sported a world-class monotone. He looked like a robot facing the room as he methodically slogged through the agenda. I found some toothpicks, propped my eyelids open, and I managed to stay alert enough to realize that the information he presented was actually really useful. As the robot accountant finished up the seminar, I jotted down his name and made a note to NEVER attend another of his meetings. Even though the guy was smart, he could put a hyperactive Chihuahua to sleep.
Fast forward a couple of weeks. I attended a party at a friend’s house, and I was headed out back to help with the grill when I saw him. The robot accountant was at the party. Panicked, I fled to the bathroom to avoid another snooze fest. Eventually, however, I had to get back out to the party, and – as you might imagine – there he was. I was trapped, and of course he recognized me.
Even before we started to talk, though, I realized that he was dressed casually and seemed much more relaxed than he had in the seminar. He thanked me for having attended, and we made a little small talk. I was surprised to discover that he was actually really funny, and we were laughing about a joke he’d made when he said something that floored me and inspired this article. He said, “I hate having to be all professional at work. I wish I could make money just by being myself.”
I took two important things away from that party. First, Mr. Robot is now my accountant – the very best one I’ve ever had. Second, I realized the disservice we do ourselves when we conceal our a
uthentic personalities from our customers to try to achieve some “professional” demeanor. Now, I’m not advocating littering your next presentation with f-bombs, but when we act rigid and formal, we’re hiding who we really are and missing an opportunity to connect with clients in a more meaningful way.
I’m reminded of Dr. Seuss, who wrote some lines that we should keep in mind when we’re deciding whether to be a robot professional or ourselves for our next meeting. He said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” The fact is that not all clients are a perfect fit for you. Now it’s possible for you to put on a faux persona and woo them, but then you’ve landed a customer for whom you’re going to continually have to put on a show. Far better to find the clients who actually like the way you work naturally than to spin your wheels chasing customers who aren’t a great fit for you.
Authenticity creates trust, and being yourself lets you connect with the clients for whom you’re a natural fit. Resist the temptation to act like a robot professional, and you’ll not only be happier, but you’ll also be more successful.
A disclaimer of sorts: This method of boosting revenue is intended for entrepreneurs who own businesses that are already making a little money. This strategy can help you look down the road if you’re just getting your business up and running, but the method I describe in this article is intended for established businesses, rather than those just starting out.
More money. It’s an appealing prospect, but it’s not always easy to achieve. One of the most versatile solutions I’ve ever found is the tier method, and it’s successful because it’s such an elegant and simple strategy.
Here’s how it works:
Your business is established, and you have a good product, but you’re looking to increase sales. The answer is simply to create additional, higher quality (and higher priced) offerings.
Let’s look at some examples:
Why is the tier method so successful? You’re starting with an established brand – a product or a service that your customers already trust and enjoy – and you’re offering a better version of that product. We all want the best, and we’re conditioned to think of selecting the least expensive option as settling for less than the best. Airlines make bank on pricier seats in first class. People pay extra to buy iPhones with more memory than they’ll ever use. If you offer your customers pricier options, it is inevitable that some of them will take you up on it.
The key here is to offer authentically better options. We’re not talking about smoke and mirrors — playing games with your clients is a tactic that can alienate loyal customers. Rather, you want to develop tiers that are meaningful and offer additional value that’s appealing to your customers. You’re finding a way to enhance your existing high quality offerings by creating options with added benefits to your clients and added revenue for your business.