What People really Buy The internet is f Monday, Dec 1 2014 

What People really Buy
The internet is filled with marketing strategies for the business owner. Many provide good information, and others, not so much. Marketing is a necessity for any person or entity in business. Customers need to know you exist, and why they should care. It is marketing’s sole function to let them know who or what the business is, and why that matters. Sounds really simple on the surface.
Yet, this is exactly where numerous entrepreneurs stumble. Especially, the small business owners. The first thing that comes to their mind often is, “How much is marketing going to cost?” The second, “I don’t have the budget for advertising.” Third, “I haven’t seen significant return on the money spent.” They then may become frustrated and stop altogether. Or start trolling for the next sure marketing idea. Neither are the right answer by the way.
What exactly is the right answer? Your marketing should be focused on giving people what they really buy. Customers buy solutions, not products or services. Now with all the noise in today’s technological world, you must be strategic. It’s going to take more than announcing your presence.
Here’s an example, a handy man came to one of my workshops. Bob, wasn’t having much luck growing his one man operation. He gave out fliers, cards, and asked for referrals. Still, he was stuck begging for business. I suggested he go to a children’s nursery, and talk to the owner. People buy solutions, but with all the noise, they have no idea who to trust. Do some work at the nursery for reduced cost or free. Now, you have a great trusted referral. If I leave my kids with you? I have got to trust you. Put your flier on the bulletin board at the nursery. Give a “how to fix things around the house” talk. These people have jobs and little time. A perfect combination for a handy man. Positioned yourself as, “I’ll do what your honey won’t do.” Think strategy, the one size fits all marketing of yesterday is gone. Business owners that refuse to adapt will go the way of the “penny loafers.” Remember those?

Monique Moliere Piper
Certified Professional Coach and Author

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Marketing Tools for You Monday, Jun 2 2014 

Marketing Tools for You

Let’s face it; marketing your business can be extremely difficult or extremely easy. For small businesses, getting started can be a monster challenge. When looking at very large corporation accounts and media, it is difficult for a beginning or small businesses to imagine how they are able to master or use the same techniques as their largest competitors. Finding simple marketing techniques to assist in the building or supplementing your current techniques are a few steps that can be taken to learn different forms of marketing. Listed below are 6 forms of marketing tools that are a must to affirm the true message of your business.marketing-300x300

1. Voicemail – Develop a message that relays the information of your business in a courteous and pleasing manner. Make sure to include the basics: a Thanks (“Thank You for calling Edwin Hardware…”), your time of operation (“We are open 9-5 Monday thru Saturday”), invite them to leave a message and tell them how “Please leave a message with your name, number, and the reason for your call”), then finally tell them you WILL get back with them. Most importantly CHECK YOUR MESSAGES DAILY (Mainly three times a day: Opening, Midday, and two hours before close of business. Two hours usually gives customers enough time to come to your location before the end of day.)!

2. Brochures – brochures are a type of paper media that benefit companies by telling the customers the mission, main products, contact information, etc. Brochures are extremely beneficial at trade shows and conferences. Key Fact: Make your brochure unique through graphics, di-cuts, or by shapes.

3. Press Release & Newsletters – Press Releases and Newsletters are great ways to show the inside of your business for your customers and community members. Press Releases (“PR”) showcase what you do that is new, interesting, or beneficial to the community. They can be distributed through local, county/parish, or state publishing papers, websites, or television stations. Try Volusion Press Releases for free distribution sites. Newsletters maybe sent out through paper or email mediums. They are an extremely useful way to keep in touch with your customers, send promotions, and support repeat purchases.

 

4. Referrals – Referrals can either make you or break you in some industries. Encourage your customers to leave reviews on products/services. Push word-of-mouth referrals and create brand ambassadors through your extremely satisfied customers. Promotion Idea: Ask your customers for 3-5 referrals and they receive 20-30% off a purchase.

5. Case Studies – Case Studies can be used to establish your company as a professional source of information/knowledge and explain products functions/benefits. Note: Offer your individual case study on your website and social media to assist potential buyers in their decisions.

6. Well-Designed Website – For your website, it must have a logical layout and be aesthetically appealing to your customers. If your website is confusing, it will affect your business. Know your target market, design your website for customers in similar and different to your industry.

 

Assessing Staff Thursday, May 22 2014 

Staffers are essential to the success of any firm and assessments are recommended at least once per year. This process is a team effort involving both the manager/supervisor and the staffer. Assess each staffer individually, never as a group. Staffers should also know when the assessment will occur. Staffers should know what you expect of them via an agreement Imageestablished when they were hired. The assessment addresses areas expected via the employment agreement. The assessment may include some of the following: performance report, job description, employee self-evaluation, employee handbook, and if need be, an IDP or Individual Development Plan.

The assessment provides the staffer with his or her strengths, outlines major accomplishments during the review period, and provides suggestions on improving the employee’s performance. If there are issues to improve, then use an IDP.  The IDP is used to address short and long-term career goals and development goals for the next review period. Both manager/supervisor and employee agree on the assessment.

Are You Mentally and Physically FIT for Business? Monday, Feb 3 2014 

ARE YOU FIT FOR BUSINESS, MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY?

Having a business is more than a job! Having a business for some is your life’s ambition, for some it’s a way to make a living or supplement your income, for some it’s an outward expression of your skillset. Whatever your motivation, it can be stressful. So, my question to you is can you handle the stress, pressure, work long hours and possibly work several positions in your business all at the same time? Can you juggle several things at one time, are you organized, can you be pulled in several directions at the same time, can you manage a work load that changes constantly, can you balance family life and business life which reflects two or more financial obligations. Some business owners operate on a limited amount of sleep (we work a lot as well as being up at night forecasting and developing businesses conceptually).

Fit for Business

The fact is having a business requires both mental and physical stamina. The mental requirement is the brain-power to spend hundreds of hours developing, organizing, researching, planning, and working on an ongoing basis. Remember, you will be asked questions about your business-some things you have not considered before because this venue is new. This mental requirement never changes, years after starting the business you will be utilizing your mental strength.

The physical requirement of a business could include the following: working long hours per day, working 7 days per week, possibly shorter sleeping hours, meetings, travel, and time to focus on business which is time away from your family.

Starting and operating a business is a passion for some; however, you must be mentally and physically strong. Not only is the strength needed in the beginning, it is needed to maintain the business throughout the years. Consequently, you have to be able to self motivate and balance business and personal life. Do you fit the Business owner profile both mentally and physically? I recommend that you consider this before starting a business. Most of us will reconsider this after we have started and we recognize the mental and physical requirement is great but greater than we expected. The good news is that you can adjust as the years go by.

Author:
Tiya Scroggins
CEO of Scroggins Consulting

Importance of Certifications Monday, Jan 20 2014 

Importance of Certifications

History 

certification

Certification programs were created to ensure non-discrimination in the award and administration of government-funded and private sector contracts and to avail minorities an opportunity to bid and win contracts that sometimes go to larger firms.

Requirements

The requirements to become a certified firm depend on the certification program and certifying agency; they vary from agency to agency. In order to qualify for the certification, make sure you have the met requirements prior to submitting an application. Some certifications require a site visit before being approved.

Documentation

Documentation needed for your certification typically includes the following: last 2-3 years of personal and business tax returns, last 2-3 years financial statements, resume of key personnel, articles of incorporation/organization, and declaration of core competence to name a few.

Cost

All certifications are free with the exception of two. The two certifications that have a cost are the Minority Business Certification (MBE) and the Woman Owned Certified Business (WBE).

Different types of Certifications:

Certifications are federal, state or local. The time it takes to officially obtain your certification can vary from a few days to several months. Certifications typically have an initial application and require annual updates to verify any changes to the company over that year’s time.

How does a Certification help you?

Certification helps your company because several bid opportunities have “set-asides” for ONLY certified firms. Set-asides could be 100% for a Minority Certified Firm or for a percentage of the contract such as 15% or 25%, consequently as a subcontractor your business could benefit with a contract.

Get certified, it could benefit your business.

Author:
Tiya “Ty” Scroggins
Scroggins Consulting, LLC

Hello world! Thursday, Dec 16 2010 

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