The Clarity to Business Blog

Facebook and Oncoming Trains

October 27th, 2011

Last issue, I wrote about my coaching work with a group of businesses in Arizona that will soon be affected by a massive, close-the-streets construction project. These businesses are literally in the path of an oncoming light rail train.

Upcoming, disruptive construction projects irritate customers and drive some away. On the plus side, the impending arrival of the light rail train is forcing these businesses to do more marketing in order to mitigate the loss of business.

Facebook as a strategic marketing tool

This week, I talked with these business owners about using Facebook as a marketing tool.  The first step in picking a marketing tool of any kind is to figure out what your strategy is–what you want to use the tool for. Facebook is changing rapidly, and can be so daunting, people give up.

The truth is that the harder part of Facebook isn’t the technical details; it’s deciding what you want to use it for. Figure that out and the technology will fall into place.

 So what could you use Facebook for?

Here are some ideas, and three award-winning small business pages that demonstrate each strategy.

Red Mango: This page demonstrates three different strategies. First, the man who started the company (or perhaps his staff) posts items he thinks are funny, so customers can get a sense of who they’re spending their money with and what kind of company Red Mango is.

Second, like most Facebook pages, this one encourages customer feedback by showing pictures of people’s special yogurt concoctions.

Finally, Red Mango runs promotional specials with coupons to reward fans.

The Royale Theater: This business uses Facebook to do three simple things: announce the new movies for the week, showcase their clients by taking pictures of them at the theater, and supporting local businesses near them by talking about their specials and sales. Small, but mighty and growing.

Hubspot: This business does one thing on its Facebook page: Educate. Hubspot helps small businesses market on the Internet, so every day, and sometimes more often, they post articles, statistics, blogs, studies and tips to help their small business clientele understand marketing and social media. In their case (and maybe yours?), an educated client is a happier, savvier client, who is also likely to buy more from them.

What do you want your Facebook page to do? Make people feel part of a community? Create a cause to rally around? Provide help? Let customers get to know you and your staff? Give people a place to discuss your business? Educate?

What’s your next step on Facebook? Please comment below.

If you liked this, you might like:

Your Business Facebook Page is in Your Rearview Mirror

 

Thanks, But We Don’t Need Any Help

October 5th, 2011

“Sales are down by 40%. But we don’t need any help.”

“Really?!?!” I think to myself. What other indication would you need besides this catastrophic drop in sales, to recognize that you do need help?

I’m working on a project to help businesses that will soon be affected by a massive, close-the-streets construction project. As part of the work, our team is canvassing businesses in the affected area and talking to business owners about the FREE help they can get to weather the construction. Yes, free.

You wouldn’t think it difficult to sell free help. But to some businesses, it has been.

Set aside the fact that some people are understandably suspicious of free help.  But a lot of these businesses are overcoming their skepticism and signing up anyway, to see if our help is actually helpful.

But there is a stubborn minority of people who, even in the face of plummeting sales, refuse help.

My theory is that if they get help, they might have to change. Clichéd though it may be, change is scary. Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t.

But in order for the economy, and our businesses improve, they, and we, have to change.

We have to change the way we interact with clients, improve how we serve them; and learn new methods to market.

What’s the secret?

I don’t know. I’d love to know the recipe for the secret sauce that makes us willing to change. I’m more accustomed to making changes than I used to be. I would say that’s been by necessity. But there are plenty of people who need to change, but can’t see it, and if they do, aren’t willing.

I’ve heard people say they become willing to change “when the pain of staying the same finally outweighs the fear of changing.” But even then, some people’s pain threshold is pretty high. I’ve been that person.

So what’s the answer? For me, the pain of staying the same did become unbearable.

How about you? What makes you willing to change? Comment below.

Small Business Warrior

September 29th, 2011

What I’ve Learned In the Past Six Years

This is what business-owner clients say to me:

1. I don’t know how to market.

2. I don’t like talking about myself or my business–it seems like I’m bragging.

3. If I do a good job, that should be enough.

4. I’m too busy.

5. I don’t like to market. I don’t know how to sell.

7. Selling means talking people into buying things they don’t want–that’s immoral.

8. I’m not a natural salesperson.

9. I’m bad at math, so I never look at my business numbers.

10. I’m afraid to look at my business numbers.

11. My numbers are a mess but I don’t have time to fix them.

I used to say some of these things myself.

What All These Statements Have In Common

Each of these are beliefs, but they feel like facts to the person saying them.

I’ve written some other blog posts about beliefs and and their pernicious, persistent nature. It takes willingness, courage, and education to overcome them.

Which Is One Reason I’m Starting a New Program

In January, 2012, I’m going to start a program called The Journey of the Small Business Warrior.

Together, we will do battle against these beliefs, and overcome them.

The Particulars

Over the course of 2012, you’ll create your business, marketing and financial plans.

And then, instead of closing the files and never looking at them again, you’ll execute your plans.

The Other Reasons

I labored in the dark a long time in one of my businesses. It was painful. I never did get that business to succeed the way I wanted it to.

But I did learn that if I were to have a successful business, I had to master the “other half,” in addition to mastering the work itself. I had to master marketing, sales, numbers, business planning; and I had to get help to make sure my beliefs didn’t impede my progress.

This is your chance to do the same.

Email me to learn more.

 

 

 

Book Euphoria

September 21st, 2011

My book is finally OUT! You can buy Your Marketing Personality: Marketing You Like, Is Marketing That Sells on Amazon.com.

And I have Feelings….

Nothing more than Feelings…(If you don’t remember this song, you can torment yourself by listening to it here).

I am having some FEELINGS about finishing this book.

And they are messy.

I feel the euphoria of holding a real book that has my name on the cover.

I also feel the grief of completing a project that’s been my constant companion for more than three years.

I feel the difficulty of taking in the fact that I have finished and published my second book.

You’re next.

This is what it’s like to finish something, big or small, that you’ve worked hard and and put your soul and mind into. There are feelings associated with completing something you care about.

If feelings scare you, or make you want to procrastinate finishing a project, ask yourself these questions:

1. What was the original purpose of the project? (Mine was to help my introverted clients figure out fun ways to market that they would do, and would attract business. Check).

2. What impact did you want the project to have? (I wanted to help thousands of small businesses market more effectively. Jury’s still out, given that the book came out today!)

3. Did you do your best? (Yes, even though there’s still one typo in it.)

Are you procrastinating completing something? What will you do about it? Tell us here.

Take The Friday Marketing Challenge

September 9th, 2011

Learn From Your Competitors

Survey the marketing done by four of your savviest competitors. Go to their websites. Then answer these questions:

1. How are they marketing themselves on the web? Is there a sign-up box for an email newsletter? (If there is, sign up). Do they blog? Read some of the posts. Are they on Twitter, LinkedIn, or some other social networking site? Check out their profiles in each place.

2.  Now, compare your competitors’ marketing with yours. Are they doing something you should be doing? Is their marketing congruent with their business? Are they doing anything you shouldn’t do?

3. Take action. If you come up with a long list based on what you discovered in  #2, resist paralysis and overwhelm. Take one thing off the list and implement it.

Better yet, try this one thing for a few months and measure the results. Then, try the next thing. One or two marketing efforts done well and consistently always trump five things done haphazardly.

What did you discover? Comment below.

PS- I think this might be hard to do, so I’m going to do it myself and comment on my findings.

Have Your Beliefs Caught Up With Your Reality Yet?

August 23rd, 2011

 

“I’m just not honest,” a friend said to me last week when he called to out himself about a lie he told.

Really?

“Then why did you call to turn yourself in on this thing you did? You could have easily not told me, or anyone else.”

Doesn’t Reporting Your Dishonesty Put You On The Road to Honesty?

It seemed like it to me. Perhaps my friend isn’t yet perfectly honest, but he’s at least on the path toward it.

Do Your Beliefs Lag Behind Your Experience?

The point of this story is to illustrate something I’ve observed in myself–that my beliefs lag behind my recent experience (and in some cases, completely ignore my recent experience, if it contradicts the beliefs).

Now that I’ve observed this in myself, I notice it in a lot of other people, too. Like my friend, convinced of his fundamental dishonesty, even in the face of evidence that he was (at least beginning to) behave differently.

How Does This Relate To Business?

Look around at your beliefs about money, or succeeding in your business, for starters. Do your beliefs match your current circumstances? Are you willing to pursue different experiences to create new beliefs? And more importantly, do you even realize that you can change your beliefs by pursuing different experiences and seeing if you get new results?

I would like to know about your own experiences with your beliefs. Which ones feel Totally True? What do you do when you stumble on one that doesn’t serve you anymore?

If you liked this, you might like:

How-insane-are-your-beliefs-about-money

Rich People Are…

I Am My Own Lab Rat

 

 

Is It Time To Panic?

August 15th, 2011

I always read through two newspapers while I eat breakfast. This, according to my friend Jane, isn’t good for your digestion; but I’d sorely miss them if I had to quit.

Except last Monday. And, come to think about it, the rest of the week, too.

Bad News

There has been a lot more bad news this past week. Setting aside the conflicts in the Middle East, the political and economic news in the US seems pretty grim all by itself.

My First Reaction

Being the slightly-fearful type, my first reaction to this much perceived bad news is always to flip into “what if” mode. What if there’s a double-dip recession? What if my business tanks? Worse, what if my clients’ businesses all tank?

I’m getting an unpleasant adrenaline rush as I write this.

The Antidote

Stay where my feet are. And my feet are in Monday afternoon, August 15th, 2011. Where not much, at least work-wise, has changed since August 8th, 2011. In fact, the one thing that has changed is GOOD: I’m holding a hard-copy proof of my new book. It thrills me to hold the final product of 3,000 hours of work in my hands.

Despite the news, good or bad, I still need to work on my new website, get press releases ready to send out when the book hits Amazon in the next couple of weeks. I still need to go to the gym, eat, get to bed at a reasonable hour.

Nothing Has Changed

My world hasn’t changed at all, except that the bad news gives me something to write and think about this afternoon.

Someone famous said: worry doesn’t rob tomorrow of its pain, it robs today of its joy.

So I’m going to work on my website, coach my clients, and post this little essay. I’m going to hang on to the joy that the day has brought with it, and defend that joy from the imaginary fear that I can manufacture, by worrying about stuff I can’t control.

In fact, I think this business of worrying about things I can’t control is a form of Resistance. It distracts me from doing something about the things I can control.

How about you? What’s your antidote to fear?

 

 

What Do You Want?

August 10th, 2011

No, Really

Not what you think you should want, or what you’re not letting yourself want because there’s something wrong with it in someone else’s eyes, or what you want but it’s too audacious or too small or too expensive or too weird.

In Your Business, Specifically (although this is a good question to ask about your life, too)

Do you really want more clients, or does the idea of more clients overwhelm you? Truthfully? Do you want 250,000 people (or even 5,000) reading your blog and commenting? Do you want your new book to find 50,000 readers? Do you want to design ten more homes a year?

How to Get What You Want

The outcome you desire starts with the honest, clear want.

What do you really want?

Tell us below.

 

Don’t Sell, Tell

August 2nd, 2011

Selling=Prostitution?

I used to own a small IT company. It was populated with engineers who were great at their work, but equated selling with prostitution. It was that dirty. They didn’t even want to tell clients about software upgrades that would be in the clients’ best interests, because it would involve the clients’ spending money.

This used to irritate me, and I blamed them for being naive about what made businesses stay in business (SALES! REVENUE, DANG IT!).

Instead of getting angry, I should have tried to help them make their beliefs conscious, as I am doing now, ten years later.

Selling=Manipulation?

I used to have a full time job selling computer hardware. When I first got that job, I thought selling meant I had to talk fast and hard about my products, overwhelming my customer with information and reasons to buy so they wouldn’t have a choice. They’d fall prey to my logic, give in and sign the contract.

I was quickly disabused of this idea. The company training certainly helped, but just being out in the field talking to customers, I realized that people don’t buy things because someone talks them into it. I believed in the used-car selling model–talk a lot, be really convincing and don’t take no for an answer. (I don’t think this method  works for cars, either, by the way). My belief about selling was wrong.

What Does Work?

Okay, some companies do manipulate their clients into buying. They prey on our desires to belong, to be admired, to be part-of (and we cooperate–it’s a two-way street).

But most small businesses don’t need to do that.

Most of us make or do things that our clients really need; that make a real difference in their clients’ lives. I took an informal survey of my clients, and every one of them does or makes something their clients really need and want; and that make a profound difference in clients’ lives.

So “all they have to do” (simple, but not easy), is to make sure they tell their people about their businesses, so it’s easy for their people to find them.This, by the way, is the definition of marketing–telling the people who need you, about you, in a place they’re expecting to look, so they can find you easily. Then selling is simple. The people who find you are already ready to buy. No need to talk anyone into anything, even if you thought you could.

Trust Me, This Works

And here’s how. Do your great work, then make it easy for people to find you. Ask Havi Brooks, Chris Brogan, Michelle Schubnel,  or Seth Godin if this works, They’ll say yes. And you don’t need to be famous (even “internet famous”) to make it work. These people’s measure of fame actually came from doing their work and making it easy for people to find them.

Ready to try this?

My Own Private Island

August 1st, 2011

Saturday’s Wall Street Journal ran an article about very wealthy people buying remote islands.

My First Thoughts

Negative. Who do they think they are? How extravagant can you get? $15 million (and up) for an island? How about spending that money to cure cancer, or to do something more worthy?

My Beliefs Are Showing

Here they are:

1. That money could be better spent another way.

2. People who buy islands are selfish and extravagant and have been corrupted by their money (sorry Tim McGraw and Faith Hill).

Why Beliefs Are Tricky

We create them based on events that have actually happened to us; things we’ve seen, experienced, read, heard, or were taught. That’s why they seem so Right.

It doesn’t mean they are right, though. If you grew up with siblings, you already experienced the phenomenon of your brother or sister interpreting the same event completely differently from you. My beliefs about these private islands are based on things I was taught and experienced, but that doesn’t make them right.

Is It Just As Possible That:

1. People who buy islands are hounded by fans and paparazzi day and night, and can’t get any peace or privacy or personal space any other way ?

2. Or…people who buy islands are people?

What do you think? Are you starting to see your own beliefs more clearly?

Read the other posts in the series:

I Am My Own Lab Rat, Part 2

Rich People Are

How Insane Are Your Beliefs About Money?