April 29, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Are You Too Small to Market?

Every week I hear at least one person who believes that their company is too small to market who they are and what they do.  They say: “I don’t have enough customers.”  “We aren’t big enough.”  “Marketing is for big companies.”  Marketing is for companies with more money.”  Have you used these excuses?  Perhaps your best friend is hiding behind these excuses.  If you do not have a marketing plan, you are committing business suicide.

If you do not let people know who you are, what your product or service is, how to get in touch with you, or how to order from you, you will never get the business that you should.  I do not care what your website looks like, how you telephone number spells out your name, or what color your business card is.  If people do not know that your business exists, they will not be your customers.  We all must market our businesses and keep marketing every day.

We can have a long discussion involving the starting of a business and what that entails.  Assuming that you were intelligent in the forming of your business, with a business plan, picking a name, having a logo designed, and even having a website designed, next comes your marketing.  Otherwise you will sit in your chair and wait for customers to magically find you and for business to fall out the sky.  That does not work.

You must get out into the world and market your business.  It may begin with telling your neighbors and family that you have started a business and what it is.  (If you don’t want those two groups to know what you do, why are you ashamed of your business?)  The next step is to tell more people and expand the ring of persons who know about you.  The more people who know you, the more people exist who will tell others about you.  Maybe you don’t have any customers yet, but you do have prospects, some that you have not even met.

The cheapest, or most frugal, form of marketing is networking.  Get out of your initial sphere and tell others who you are and what you do.  People do business with people that they know, like, and trust.  More important, they will refer customers to those same people.  Therefore, go to networking groups and let others get to know you.  Meet them afterwards one-on-one and get to know each other better.  Get comfortable and establish a networking relationship and try to mutually help each other grow your businesses.  Just be yourself and treat each other as human beings, not prospects or potential sources of business.

As you build your network of relationships, you will gain customers and referrals as people get to know you, what you offer, and how you do business.  Remember the principles of karma.  You will receive back whatever karma you put forth, not directly but you will receive it back.  Let your karma be positive and supportive of others, and what you receive back will be the same.  As a result, your business will grow and prosper.

Now that we have touched on the beginnings of a marketing plan, what about those of you who believe that you are too small to market your business?  Still believe that you cannot afford or should not try to market your business?  Let me know what you believe and if you agree or disagree.  Email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. We always discuss means of marketing that will help grow your business.  We also discuss how to work smarter, not harder, to keep your customers as you gain them.

April 22, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Indecisiveness Will Kill You

We all know them, the people who cannot make a decision.  They cannot decide to do anything.  Maybe you have been one of these people.  You agonized over a decision until it was too late to make it; you put off deciding anything until the decision made itself for you.  How did that work out?  Not as well as if you made a decision, tried something, and then decided whether the decision was the right one.  You probably lost out on an opportunity.

Maybe you were just too afraid to decide what to do; maybe you wanted to have someone else make the decision for you.  Does this make you a coward; does it make you less of a leader?  This depends on how you look at the situation; it depends on how you evaluate yourself, but that might involve making another decision.  A business owner or manager must be able to make decisions, react to the results of those decisions, and adjust if needed.

Years ago, I worked in systems development and user interface.  I heard all the usual statements:  “We have never tried that; we have always done it this way; we have our way of doing that; that won’t work here”.  You need to think outside of the box, be creative, and take a chance.  You may need to step outside your comfort zone and try something that you have never tried before.  Who knows, you might like it, and it might work better than you think.

Fact gathering is the correct step to take before making any decision.  However, you can carry it too far, so far as to be ridiculous.  Gather your facts, look at all sides of a question, and then make the decision.  Put your money down and take a shot.  A well informed decision can make your company so much better, but a decision that makes itself makes you a poor and ineffective leader.  Your staff and your clients will evaluate your actions.

What if you make the wrong decision?  Great, you just eliminated one possibility.  How many failures, or wrong decisions, did inventors such as Thomas Edison experience before success was found?  If something that you try doesn’t work, maybe the best decision is to shut that process down and try something else.  Maybe the best decision is to go back to what you were doing before.  Maybe the best decision is to keep on with a new process, but with some adjustments.  Make a decision and move forward.

What if you cannot bring yourself to make decisions and that’s that?  You cannot bring yourself to pull the trigger.  Take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself what your employees and what your clients see.  Do they see a person with whom they want to work or do business?  Do they see someone whom they believe will not be there for them if times are difficult?  What do your networking partners think about you?  Do others trust you and believe in your ability as a business person?  Maybe you should ask them, and ask for their help.

What can you do about this problem?  First, make a decision to be more decisive and become a leader.  Change your mode of operation and take a stand when needed.  Continue your fact gathering and know when all the facts necessary are gathered.  You can always continue to discuss the pros and cons of every decision, but a leader will grasp an opportunity and take a stand.  Then continue to look at the facts after the decision is made and adjust if necessary.  Your networking partners can assist you with this.

Once again, do you agree or disagree with these thoughts?  What are your tricks to keep yourself from falling victim to indecisiveness?  Leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.  Just make a decision to do so.

April 15, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Integrity Is Doing The Right Thing

Previously, we discussed the question of integrity.  So what is integrity anyway?  The dictionary defines integrity as “rigid adherence to a code of behavior”.  I define it as doing the right thing, in all situations, even when no one else is watching.  Is this a code of conduct, a method of performance, or a way of life?  Does it apply to your personal life or to your business life, or to both?

If you are a regular reader of this blog’s postings, you know the answer to those questions.  Integrity is a way of life, applicable to both your personal and business lives, to everything that you do.  In your personal life, is integrity treating everyone like you would want to be treated, applying the golden rule, “do unto others as you wish them to do unto you”?  Shouldn’t you always treat others as you would prefer to be treated?

Doesn’t this philosophy apply equally to your business life?  Can you actually treat your clients, your prospects, as you would wish to be treated by them?  Can this philosophy apply even in light of the pressures and practices of running a successful business?  Can you still be profitable if you treat everyone as you would want them to treat you?  Is any business which practices the Golden Rule able to exist in these troubled economic times?  Isn’t this one of the facets of Appreciation Marketing?

Of course you can succeed if you spread fairness and decency to everyone that you meet, everyone with whom you do business.  If you want to be treated as a professional person, one who is living your life and operating a business in a professional manner, you need to treat others as professionally as you can.  You must let your passion for your business and way of life show to everyone that you meet, allowing them to understand your passion, and opening yourself to their passion for whatever they are as equally passionate as you are.

Most of all you need to treat everyone in a personable manner, as actual people, as individuals who are not just account numbers or a means to an end, either personal or in your business.  They are worthy of your best treatment, your kindness, your honesty, and your integrity, provided on a consistent basis.  Doing all this makes you stand out among those others who do not provide all or part of this on a regular basis.

The practice of integrity must be followed on a habitual basis, each and every day, with everyone with whom you engage, either in your personal life or your business life.  You cannot be one person in your personal life and another in your business one.  You are just one person, and integrity cannot be turned on and off, like a faucet.  You must adhere to the principles of integrity at all times, even when no one is watching.  After all, you are watching.

The principles of karma state that you will receive back whatever you put forth.  It does not matter whether you put forth good or bad efforts.  It will not come back to you from where you put it forth, but it will come back to you from somewhere.  If you practice integrity towards others, others will practice it towards you.  If you assist someone in their business prospering, someone with do so for you, and that is how integrity applies in these times.

What are your thoughts on this philosophy?  Do you agree or disagree?  Please leave me your comments on your experiences.  You can also email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or you can call me at 360-314-8691.  We learn from the shared experiences and beliefs of everyone, and sharing those experiences and beliefs may be another aspect of integrity.

April 8, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Face to Face

In the past we have discussed the need to meet others in order to form networking relationships or partnerships.  This practice is also necessary in order to maintain those relationships.  Whether it is a networking relationship or a business connection, these situations always fare better if we engage in face to face discussions as often as possible.

My daddy taught me that a relationship was always better if we can personalize the communication.  “Don’t just write to someone when you can call them; don’t just call them if you can meet them face to face”, was his mantra.  He also would add that if you can engage in all 3 means of communications, so much the better.

Like Tom Hopkins, I am an advocate of the well written and personalized note or card that shows how much someone else means to you, whether it is business or personal in its intent.  Take that communication further and call the person on the telephone and speak to them, telling them just how much their relationship or business means to you.  Don’t just leave a message or voicemail; talk with them directly and let them hear your voice, with all your inflection and sincerity.

When possible, take the relationship another step further and arrange a face to face meeting, where you can speak your thoughts plainly and clearly.  Taking the time out of your busy day and sitting down to talk with someone is extremely giving, on both your parts.  When you meet face to face you can see the other person’s facial expressions, watch their hand gestures, and examine their body language.  It adds so much more to the conversation, and they can see your reactions to all of these means of communication.

Communication is not just words spoken by someone and heard by someone else.  It is all of the different ways of showing how we feel about the subject at hand.  It is every grimace, each frown, all the smiles and laughs, the hand gestures and shrugs, the eye movements, the yawns, and the other body movements.  The sound of someone’s voice can change the intent of words, and the change in the mouth’s shape can divulge the true meaning of a phrase.

Does the other person actually look at you when they speak to you; do they watch your movements when they listen to what you have to say or answer?  Do they really listen to what you say to them; do you listen to their answers to your questions?  We all have our own agendas in our everyday living.  We must add to that agenda the steps to make our partnerships and relationships more meaningful to the others in those partnerships and relationships.  Enhance those relationships, either by writing, calling, or meeting face to face.

Let me give all of you a challenge: contact someone and engage in conversation about this subject.  Discuss your relationship with them and what their reaction to a thank you card, an appreciation telephone call, or a face to face meeting could mean to both of you.  Then, start taking those communication steps in your daily routine.

Then share your results or stories with others and here by leaving your comments for me to publish.  You can email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or you can call me at 360-314-8691.  You just may discover that you have better relationships than you previously thought, or you may find out some new ones.  Either way all of you win, both you and your partners.

April 1, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Communicate for Success

Communication is the backbone for success.  Bad communication will send you and your business straight to failure.  Good communication will provide a path to a positive life as well as a successful business.  Not only can a lack of communication put stress on a marriage between two individuals, a lack of communication, or bad communication, can damage a business relationship beyond resurrection.

Have you ever seen two people who just never speak with each other?  Maybe one or the other talks to the other one, but do they ever speak with each other?  Open, honest discussion is the key to successful relationships, whether it is a friendship, marriage, business partnership, or a networking relationship.  When people fail to interrelate in their communications, they will never understand what each other needs or can contribute.

In the past we have discussed that you need to listen to what your networking partners need before you attempt to fill their needs with what you want to sell to them.  It does not matter what we have to offer, if it is not what our clients or partners need, then we should recognize their need and the fact that we cannot help them.  At that point we should refer them to someone that we may know who can fill their need or to someone who may know the person who can fill that need.

Of course, if someone cannot openly and accurately tell you what they need, it is your duty as their networking partner to help them discover exactly what they may need to succeed.  Then communicate how you can help them, whether it is through what you offer or to whom you can refer them.  That honesty and openness is so difficult to achieve.  Maybe your partner just does not know what they need, maybe they have bad facts, and maybe they don’t have the resources to discover their needs.  Helping fill those gaps may help discover the real needs of a business.

We must do whatever we can to cause our partners to trust us with their thoughts and the facts that lead us to provide help to them.  We cannot deceive them in any manner; we cannot have them believe that we are in the relationship for what it may give to us.  We must give to our partners just to give, not to get something back.  When we provide a relationship of trust and honesty, we allow all the involved partners to help each other if that need to be helped is shared.

Can you share your needs with your partners?  Only you know the answer to that question.  Only through an open communications-based relationship can this sharing be accomplished to the extent that it can result in mutual benefit.  When you meet a new, and possible, networking partner, you should work to establish this type of relationship.  Start the relationship in an atmosphere of trust and honesty and work towards growing it into the type of relationship that you want, so that it fosters mutual advantages.  That is done through our communications.

Share your experiences here about your relationships and your communications with others, or email me those experiences at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.  Honest and open communications can foster great relationships and partnerships.  Look back to those relationships that did not grow to benefit both partners well, and see if you can reestablish the communications to make each partner comfortable.  It might be worth an effort on your part.