Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Biggest Mistake Entrepreneurs Make that Impact Their Sales

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Awhile ago, I was attending an event and I met someone who offered a service I needed. We exchanged cards and promised to be in touch when we returned home.

When I got home I turned over all those business cards to my team member as usual to enter into our database for follow up. It was about a month later when I realized this potential vendor had not contacted me or followed up with me. I no longer had the cards so I couldn’t look through them and I couldn’t remember her name or her business name and I didn’t have the time to comb through my database looking for her.

Needless to say, she didn’t get the project. And the sad part was I was ready to give it to her, that was why I thought of her a month later. But she hadn’t followed up so she never got a chance to get the business. I ended up finding someone else.

The morale of the story — you need to follow up with your prospects. Period.

Look, I know you’re spending a lot of time and money attracting leads into your business. You’re networking at live events, networking virtually using social networking, blogging, speaking, and probably a million other things.

So when those leads DO flow into your business, are you following up with them? Are you treating them like the gold they are?

I see this mistake happen over and over again. Entrepreneurs spend so much time and effort to bring leads home and then they never follow up. All those business cards get piled up on their desk never to get into a database. They have every intention of sending out a regular ezine for those online leads but somehow it never gets done. They rarely pick up the phone to connect with a warm (or even hot) prospect.

And then they wonder why their business isn’t growing and they struggle getting clients in the door.

There’s just no substitute for following up. (Have you heard the saying “the fortune is in the follow up?”) Giving someone your business card is NOT the same thing as following up with them. You’re relying on them to not lose your business card AND to remember the solution you offer when they’re ready for it. That just isn’t realistic.

You need to be the one to initiate, build and maintain the relationship. You need to be the one to remind the prospect about the solution you offer and how it will transform their life. Not the other way around.

Now I realize you’ve probably heard this before and you probably already know it. So if you’re not consistently following up, why not? What’s stopping you?

Most likely it’s 2 reasons — time and fear.

You’re busy and you don’t have the time to properly follow up. And you’re afraid you’re bugging your prospects if you do follow up.

I get it. I really do. I was there myself once. But here’s the thing — if you don’t get over those 2 issues, you’re never going to grow your business or enjoy consistent cash flow.

So here are 2 quick fixes to help you get started:

1. Who said YOU have to be the one to follow up? Get some help! Notice in my story I said I handed the business cards I collected to someone on my team to enter into my database. I did not say I was the one doing the entering. Have someone help you. (And the best part is you can probably justify the cost of this help because it directly impacts your bottom line).

2. Follow up doesn’t have to be calling people up and asking for work. Do things people will look forward to getting — send them articles, tips, or maybe something funny that entertains them. Think about ways you can stay in contact with your prospects that’s not about just making sales calls.

Remember, it typically takes 7 “touches” before a prospect turns into a client (and in the “new” economy it’s probably going to take a lot more). So don’t be discouraged if you’re first few attempts don’t turn into anything. Be persistent and consistent and eventually you’ll see your hard work paying off.

I want to launch a product but I don’t know where to start?

This is a great question. And here’s where I want you to start — by assessing your current situation.

Even before you put together a plan, you need to do this. Because if you don’t have a good handle on your current situation, you’re not going to be able to put together a plan that emphasizes your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses.

So here are some things you should look at:

  • How big is your email list? (Also known as your email database)
  • How responsive is your email list? (In other words, how many people buy/sign up for a teleclass/etc. when you send out an email asking them to?)
  • How many affiliates/JV partners/associates/etc. do you know who would be happy to help promote you?
  • How many friends/followers do you have on social networking sites?
  • What products/programs do you currently have and could launch or relaunch?
  • Do you have any products/programs in the works?

Now, the important thing to keep in mind when you’re answering these questions is there is NO wrong answer. I don’t want anyone to feel bad no matter where you’re at. We all had to start somewhere. And here’s the best part — no matter where you’re at right now, there IS a launch plan that can help you jump start your business!

If you want more information on how to create and execute a successful product launch, join me for my free preview call – “3 Simple Secrets To Launching Your Next Product or Program and Hearing Ka-Ching in Your Business” at Noon Pacific on Feb 17. Here’s the link so you can sign up: http://michelepw.com/launch

What Marketing CAN’T Do For Your Business

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Now we’re on to Part 2 — What Marketing Can’t Do For You.

Remember, marketing isn’t a magic button (although it’s pretty darn close). But it can’t fix everything. Below are 5 things marketing can’t do for you:

1. Marketing can’t make you an overnight success. Just because you start a marketing program doesn’t mean you’re immediately going to see your business explode. Marketing is about getting your name in front of your target market (and ideal prospects) on a regular basis until they finally decide to give you a try.

2. Marketing is not about doing something once and forgetting about it. The very best marketers test. And test. And test.

For instance, maybe your Web site isn’t converting visitors to customers as well as it should be. You could hire a copywriter to tweak it for you. You could test the different elements to see what raises your conversion level. That’s one way to use testing. You can also test different headlines, different offers, etc.

And in this same spirit, marketing is not about sending out one ezine then taking 3 months to send out the next one. Or promoting a product by sending a couple of emails. Marketing is about taking consistent action, not just a flurry of activity here and there.

3. Marketing can’t fix a bad experience. This is a big one. If your customers have a lousy experience with your products or services or with your customer service reps or sales people, etc., that’s it. Worse yet, not only have you lost a customer for good, that customer will probably tell others about their bad experience. So now you’ve lost more potential customers as well.

Marketing can get people in the door, but it can’t ensure they’ll have an experience they’ll want to repeat. Before assuming more marketing is what you need, take a moment and make sure your current customers are truly satisfied with your business.

4. Marketing can’t fix a flawed business. Much like tip number 3, marketing can’t fix cash flow issues or staff problems.

Okay, I can hear all of you saying “Of course, marketing can’t fix staffing problems.” I know you know this, but I think what happens is sometimes you get so caught up in the day-to-day challenges of running a business you can’t see the forest for the trees.

Let me explain. Let’s say you have a business that’s struggling with cash flow. The first thing that springs to mind may be revving up marketing. After all, the idea behind marketing is to increase revenue. On the surface that makes sense. However, if you look a little closer, what you might find are expenses that are out of whack or not getting invoices out in a timely manner. So what you should be fixing is your accounting problems rather than changing your marketing.

5. Marketing can’t make people buy things they either don’t want or can’t afford. It doesn’t matter how great your product or service is, if you’re selling to people who either don’t have the interest or the means to buy it, then your marketing is going to fail no matter how brilliant it may be.

So basically it all boils down to this, before you decide you need more marketing, take a few moments and make sure marketing is really the right solution for your business.

How do I launch a product and/or create a buzz without annoying people?

This is a great question. And the answer is you can’t. BUT there are steps you can take to minimize annoying people.

First, let me explain why it’s impossible to create a buzz/launch a product without annoying some people. If you want people to buy from you, you need to ask for the sale. And if they don’t want to buy from you, eventually they will get annoyed with you asking for the sale. (Buying is an emotional process, so the only way you’re going to get people interested in buying in the first place is if you push a few emotional buttons.)

But if you don’t ask for the sale (and you need to do it more frequently now because people are hanging on to their money tighter) you won’t get as many sales. So you have to decide what your threshold is in terms of annoying people or making sales.

Now, there ARE steps you can take to keep the annoyance to a minimum. If you provide high quality information during your launch and if you’re honest with people when you contact them (in other words, no more “my server crashed so if you couldn’t get in, that’s why and you should try now” unless your server really DID crash.) Give them good, honest reasons for contacting them and it won’t be nearly as annoying to them.

If you more information on how to create and execute a successful product launch, join me for my free preview call – “3 Simple Secrets To Launching Your Next Product or Program and Hearing Ka-Ching in Your Business” at Noon Pacific on Feb 17. Here’s the link so you can sign up: www.michelepw.com/launch/

What Marketing Can Do For You

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What Marketing Can Do For You (And No, the Answer Isn’t Everything)

While marketing is as close to a magic button we have (think the Staples Easy Button) to transforming your business, it’s still not an actual magic button.

So I thought I would clear up some misconceptions about marketing in this two-part series: What Marketing Can Do For You and What Marketing Can’t Do For You. We’ll start with the positive.

Over the years, I’ve had dealings with some business owners who have a rather skewed perception of marketing. They think you throw a few ads out there, get a couple of press releases printed and voila! You’re a big success.

Oh, if it only were that easy. (Although if it were, I probably wouldn’t have a job.)

But there’s no getting around that to have a successful business, you need a solid marketing plan.

So what CAN marketing do for you? Increase your business – no question about it. You need to be marketing if you want to grow your business.

However (and this is a really big however) marketing is NOT going to result in overnight success. Marketing is about slow growth, building on last week’s success and forgetting about last month’s failures. (Or what you THINK are failures. It’s not uncommon that a campaign you think is a dismal disappointment may be what caused the next campaign to take off.)

Marketing is about frequency — about your target market seeing your offer over and over again until they’re finally ready to buy. Without that very important frequency, your business will start to stagnate and eventually die.

Now that doesn’t mean you won’t have a major success with a campaign. Even a massive, amazing, unbelievable success. You’ll run one ad or be featured in an article and wham! You end up with more orders than you know what to do with. While that’s a great shot in the arm, it probably won’t last unless you keep building upon it. Eventually the orders will dry up and you’ll be back to where you were before.

Marketing is also about being consistent. This goes back to building on successes. Your customers need to see your message over and over again. This builds trust and credibility. Plus, your current customers will also respond to that frequency. Not only will they not “forget” about you and go to your competitor, but it will help build their trust in you as well.

Lastly, marketing is about working hard. There’s no getting around it. To be successful means putting in the time and energy to continually market yourself. (You can also pay someone to help you with it, but basically it comes down to someone somewhere has to put in the time to continually market you.)

If you remember nothing else, remember this: If you don’t implement your marketing strategies, nothing is going to happen.

That last sentence seems obvious, but again, I’m amazed at how many people I run into who aren’t willing to do the work. They talk about it, but when it actually comes down to doing something, they somehow never seem to get around to it.

One way to overcome that is to plan on doing one task or a little marketing every day. Then it doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming. Me, I make a commitment to do X number of marketing tasks a week, regardless of how much time that takes.

Marketing is a commitment. There’s no getting around it. If you have a business, then you have no choice but to make a commitment to marketing on a consistent basis until the day comes when you decide you don’t want a business anymore.