The Power of Polish: Making the most out of 7 seconds

Those of you that know me know that I never show up underdressed. I wonder if you know why I take care in my appearance?  Let me create a little business case for you….

When I started my entrepreneurial career I was young, and I mean young young. That special age where you think you know everything and that at 30 you will be a real grown up. That’s where I started. Since I already knew everything, it was easy, right?  Um, not so much. I very quickly stepped into a public role as the leader of eWomenNetwork and needed to not only sell to but confidently lead, a group of women that were 20+ my seniors and provide them with true value.

If I had walked on stage with a side ponytail or the most up-to-date fashion atrocity, it would have skewed their view of me for many, many months, and I would have to earn that credibility back. Not happening. I had sales to close. At that age, it sometimes felt like more of a costume, but I was ok with playing a role until I achieved the goal. Your appearance is how others decide to view you as a person, which they do, within the first seven seconds of meeting you.

What does your appearance say about you? Here are just a few possibilities:

  • Professionalism

  • Motivation

  • Experience

  • Attention to Detail

  • How you Represent your Brand

  • Trust

  • Like-Mindedness

So often we see business owners and employees that haven’t taken the time to put themselves together in a way that will not only help them open doors but help them close sales. A few years ago, one of my legal clients had a gorgeous baby face, not a wrinkle in sight. Before she went to court, she would pull her hair back into a simple high ponytail. How would you feel about a lawyer that looked like she was still in college? Not great was the answer for a lot of her clients. All it took was a different hairstyle to allow her to elevate her image to the professional kick-butt lawyer that she truly was! It simply took a little polish.

For the next week, I would like you to try a little experiment. Every morning, before you leave the house, take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask these three questions:

  1. Do I look like my brand (personal or business)?

  2. Is this a great fit for the meetings I have today?

  3. Does this convey my professionalism, my intent and my level of experience?

If the answer is always ‘uhhhhh maybe?’, it might be time to start putting together what your personal brand needs to be.

For questions or more information contact me at Marie@atrevenue.com


Permission-based Marketing: Where yes means yes, and no means no

Marketing can be powerful, impactful and even helpful; but it can also be annoying and unwanted. These days, marketers are trying to decipher through some blurred lines on whether their message is wanted, appropriate, and even legal.

This is where permission-based marketing can be so powerful.

“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.”

As you can imagine, we believe permission-based marketing is the best kind of marketing because it targets the right audience, with the right message. To help you find your voice, below are several situations that are all “Yes” (full permission), and a couple of situations you don’t want to get caught in.

Yes means yes: Situations where your marketing can make a HUGE impact!

Your email list:

If someone is on your email list, it means that they have expressed specific interest in your business. A good email list if full of highly engaged contacts that are expecting you to send them something. **hint, EXPECTING** that’s right, when they signup, they are flat-out asking for it.

Social Media:

Your followers, likes, and community is another place where your audience is interested, engaged and looking for information. Social media platforms give you the voice and audience to kick your marketing into action.

No means no: Critical misses that burn marketers and brands.

Purchasing an audience: If you have a list or an audience that you purchased, you are walking some fine lines. These contacts have not expressed interest, so often your message will appear as unwanted and even intrusive. Because of this, your campaign performance will suffer and you won’t be getting the results you are capable of.

Promotion overload: Remember, you must treat your audience with respect and provide relevant information. If you are always talking about yourself and not providing value, this is a great way to get ignored and lose your audience.

Find your safe word: Just in case you are afraid of crossing a line, there are a couple universal safe words that you should know: “unsubscribe”, “opt-out” “unfollow” and “block”. Always respect your audience’s decision.

Rule of thumb- get permission where you can, and ensure that content is always relevant and interesting to your audience.

If you are looking to build your audience or need help finding the right words, we can help.


Google’s Mobile First Index Coming Soon

Google has just released a bit more information about, Mobile First, its upcoming change to how it indexes site content.

Currently, Google analyzes the desktop version of a website and then ranks the mobile version of the site based on what it learns from the desktop version. The opposite of this will happen when Mobile First takes effect.  Google will analyze, index and rank the site based on what it learns from the mobile site.

Google has been constantly reminding us that each day more and more site visits come through mobile devices. Today many mobile sites are just “lite” versions of the desktop site and do not provide the best user experience.  Mobile First is Google’s way of making sure that content on a mobile site is as robust, relevant and authoritative as a desktop version. When mobile rankings are tied to content on mobile sites Google can more easily serve up the best results in its search engine results.

In addition to site content, Google will also review a site’s load speed, user experience (UX), architecture, internal linking, and site data structure to determine page rankings. This in-depth review by Google makes it critical that your site is the best it can be from a technology, content quality and user experience point of view.

Google has hinted that Mobile First will be rolled out sometime in the second half of 2017.  In keeping with Google’s modus operandi, we expect Google to make the change first and then update us rather than giving us a go live date in advance.

For a complimentary review of how your site will fare when Mobile First is implemented please contact me at 224.595.1340 or at harry@atrevenue.com.


United Airlines and the Case of the Walking, Talking Brand

Nobody’s perfect, right?  Yep, nobody.  But when you’ve had a week like United had last week, you have to take a good long look in the mirror and decide what you really stand for…as a company.  In today’s reality of the constant state of video, social media, and public opinion, companies have to be careful about how they present themselves, especially when you are in the service industry.  It is not often we have a front row seat to what is sure to become a classic PR case study in what not to do, so let’s take advantage of this moment.

When the events of April 9th first hit social media, United’s CEO, who had just the month before won an award as Communicator of the Year, responded quickly.  His first reaction was to say he was sorry that the airline had to “re-accommodate” passengers on the flight.  Then, he announced that United employees had simply followed policy.  Finally, he expressed what seemed like sincere regret for the way the whole debacle had been handled.  Now, the company is changing firm policy regarding how passengers are handled in cases of overbooking, especially when employees are the ones bumping paying customers.

I absorbed all of these events with utter astonishment.  United is a big company, with presumably many of the “best and brightest” in every facet of the industry working there, EVEN in public relations.  I couldn’t believe that at every stage of this event, the actions leading up to it, and the actions that preceded it, they had made such obvious mistakes.  For the sake of argument, let’s assume that customers have an adequate number of potential airlines to choose from when traveling, and United doesn’t currently benefit from an airline-favorable oligopoly where customer service falls way down on the priority list because customers ultimately have to choose from only a handful of less than desirable options.  So basically, let’s assume that United wants to please customers to grow revenues and has to actually compete.

In that light, how do you process the actions of United? Can you?  In the book of everything I know about business, coupled with common sense, I cannot.  But the good news is, we get to benefit from the lessons of their (giant) mistakes.

I’ve been saying for a long time that service businesses are more complicated and require far greater leadership than product companies do.  Your brand isn’t just your logo or your website design.  It is walking around in every single employee you hire, mentor and train.  When you run a flourishing service business, your brand is constantly working.  Growth in a service business means that you cannot separate the brand from the people like you can in a product business.  You have to get it right every day.

So, let’s cover the ways in which United failed to get it right and how they could have done it better:

READ MORE


Stop relying on “Random Acts of Sales & Marketing”!

Three weeks ago, Marie and I each had two prospect meetings. As we debriefed, it was as if we had the same meeting but on two different topics. Marie’s was marketing and mine was sales. In both cases what we heard was a lot of wishful thinking, and lots of money spent with virtually no real strategy, process, or plan to ensure 2017 is better than 2016. Guess what the 3 musts to success in sales and marketing are?

1. Strategy

My business partner, Marie uses the phrase ‘random acts of marketing’. I sure know what those look like and you might be doing some of them yourself. It’s that knee-jerk reaction to the so-called social selling craze. The MUST to be on Twitter, Periscope, Snapchat, etc. It’s the belief of “if I only had a better website, then they would call me.” Producing videos that don’t speak to the audience and futilely grasping at the latest and greatest. Or worst of all, handing over a fist full of cash to the nice guy in your networking group that convinced you he had the magic wand, but now you want to punch him every time you see him!

These investments rarely work and can almost always guarantee to be a waste of money, time, resources, emotions, and opportunity costs. Unfortunately, businesses run like this all the time and the ownership wonders why they struggle with market awareness, consistent messaging, and real Marketing Qualified Leads.

How do I fix it? Take the time to get QUALIFIED consultation and recommendations for strategy. Then, be sure to understand the strategy and make a commitment to follow through on the complete strategy. Marie has a hard and fast rule: it’s a no-go if it has to be done in under 6 weeks. That goes for a conference, an email campaign, or anything else that you want ROI from.  We offer our clients strategy, implementation, ongoing execution, automation, and ultimately TRACKABLE and QUANTIFIABLE REVENUE. Isn’t that what marketing should be doing?

2. Process

I take tremendous pride in doing my job to the best of my ability, both selling and teaching sales. It makes me sad when I hear my profession be diminished and criticized. Then I quickly realize that we have no one to blame but ourselves because most salespeople are ill-equipped to succeed. They are often poorly trained (if at all), poorly led, poorly coached, poorly managed, and incentivized in horribly outdated ways.

Simply ask yourself, would you go to a dentist that wasn’t trained or had no plan? Send your kids to a teacher with no certificate? Trust a doctor, mechanic, jeweler, dry cleaner, or a pilot who is ‘winging it’?

Of course not! So what makes anyone think that you want to buy from an untrained and unprofessional sales person who lacked a process? What makes us think we should be selling when we’re not properly equipped with a process? Look, sales is a profession - one that should be respected and appreciated by those of us who sell (EVERYONE READING THIS) and those of us who buy (EVERYONE READING THIS). If you’re a lawyer, accountant, chiropractor, plumber, or any other professional service, stop your ‘random acts of sales’ and get trained to be the best you can at client acquisition.

3. Plan

Are you set for 2017? Do you expect 2017 to look like 2016 or does your plan insist that it will be better? Listen, don’t get caught looking back at the end of Q1 and see that you’ve done nothing new to ensure your success. Here are a few points to consider:

A. Is my networking really working or do I waste my time ‘net-eating’, ‘net-drinking’, and ‘net-chatting’? Networking needs to bring you ROI! If it doesn’t then stop, re-evaluate, and realign to a new group. If you need help, let me know.

B. Set very specific goals and then set the course to achieve them. There is nothing worse than being on the hamster wheel of business only to run and run but fail to advance.

What I want you to do now is simply decide: are you going to try something new and talk to with a successful sales and marketing team or do you want to forge ahead on your own? @Revenue offers a variety of training, education, and full consulting services. So the real question is: are you failing to plan, or planning to fail?

 


Let's talk about Six

After years of working with SMB business owners/leaders and their salespeople, I have realized that there are at least six, oftentimes more but we’re going to talk about the prevalent six, critical areas that are neglected entirely or have weak plans and structure. My hope is for you to identify and address any and all of these areas in your business.

1. Go-To-Market strategy - As businesses look to grow they often times have the Field of Dreams syndrome; “Build it and they will come”. This rarely works unless your business is a Starbucks on seemingly any corner in the Loop. Other than that, a strong actionable go-to-market (GTM) strategy is required. You must have specific actions formulated to access and influence your buying market. No matter what your services, from accounting offices to chiropractic practices, every business requires strategy to maintain growth. There are some great GTM examples online, but a word to the wise, make it your GTM strategy. Unless you own it, embrace it and believe in it, it will simply be another document that collects dust in a drawer. Seek the outside perspective that is required and then do it! Try it, track it and then you will know how to change it.

TASK: Read the examples, step away from your business for an afternoon (If you think you can’t do that, you don’t have a business you have an obsession) take the best minds you have from within your business and a few from the outside then start talking long term strategy. You’ll need to set some goals for the strategy but goals without a strategy of achievement are only hopes and wishes.

2. Automate, Delegate, Duplicate - The biggest hurdle that business owners face is the habit of being the COE, Chief of Everything, instead of a CEO. As you build your service offerings and identify how you care for your clients make sure that you document repetitive behaviors. Everything from how you onboard a customer to the follow up that happens with your inbound marketing can be automated, or if automation is not an option you can document the process and delegate it. Make it a full time focus to effectively hand off as many tasks as possible. There are a litany of tools on the market (insightly and mailchimp are my favorite go-to products) that can function as a project management tool, empower your marketing automation and drip marketing campaigns, and integrate with your accounting software.

TASK: Do a time audit to understand where you are investing your time. When you have a solid view of where your hours are going you will be able to assess what truly should be on your plate and what can be handed off. Begin to document how each task is done and create activity sets that can guide a support person through the process. You can find a virtual assistant or on site part timer to help you in the beginning, and then do your level best to touch things once and hand them off!

3. Documented and Disciplined Client Acquisition Process - Each phase in the client acquisition process needs to be documents and measurable. I’ve seen many businesses that simply have fields such as: LEAD<PROSPECT< OPPORTUNITY< CLOSED WON as their funnel. This will not suffice if you take your business development seriously. Here is an example of one I built for a past client. As you can see, there are VERY SPECIFIC qualifications that must be met before the prospective client transitions from Marketing Lead to Sales Lead and then MORE VERY SPECIFIC qualifications that must be met before the salespeople can assign a phase and percentage of probability. With this process, my client could easily identify the marketing effectiveness and where along the process they had the greatest lost rate. WIth this information, I was able to coach, develop and train with laser like focus.

TASK: Move outside of the generic sales funnel fields and assign what makes sense. Then, within each category assign the qualification points that must be met to achieve the threshold. This gives you a true “process” to follow. Think of it like a recipe: step by step, timed accordingly, baked properly, etc. When you omit ingredients or make other mistakes you inevitably get a dismal outcome.

4. Consistent and effective 1:1 meetings with staff and leaders. I already wrote about this topic so I won’t repeat myself. I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. One addition, few business owners have someone to give them consistent and honest feedback.

TASK: Follow the tips in the article! If you as a business leader don’t have someone, find someone. It’s not that hard these days to find a coach. Your obligation is to find one that fit’s with you but will push you. Oh, and make sure they’re qualified, there are a lot of jokers out there.

5. An understanding of Emotional-Intelligence, Dr. Travis Bradberry’s book is a smart but easy read that is far and away one of the best out there. I will only impress upon you that the world is shifting, carrot/stick is a motivation of the past for most businesses. You must lead with emotional intelligence in this day and age.

TASK: READ THE BOOK!

6. Working toward your exit vs. running in place- This seems to be the big winner! In a May 2016 CNBC story it was sited that almost two-thirds of businesses have no plan for exit. Thus, people run on their hamster wheel day after day and never get to their goal. Simply said, without the goal of exit, it’s rarely achieved.

TASK: This one is more fluid. It depends a lot on from where you are starting. But a few musts are: Timeline goals, financial goals, a decision on what will happen to the business when you exit, strategy to pursue your goals, support to achieve your goals.

So, now what? Take stock, don’t be discouraged and start to make the changes needed to address these Six often neglected areas. Listen, it’s hard! The days fly by and business owners have a few thousand distractions a day. Step back, get perspective and set a plan into action. Let us know if you need help.


Top Tips For Entrepreneurial Growth

@revenue works with so many talented business owners, and they bring so much wisdom to our lives.

Here are their top tips for entrepreneurs!

The best possible ways for entrepreneurs to go far fast are:

1. Make sure your product or service actually meets the needs or wants of a sizable market.  This means understanding the need, who has it, why satisfying that need matters to them, and how many potential buyers make up this market segment.

2.  Secondly, is the need being met by other providers?  How well?  How can you differentiate your own solution?  If your competitors are well established and comprise a sizable market share, you will have to differentiate your solution and communicate in a way that sells!

3.  Surround yourself with a talented but diverse team. You cannot do it all alone in the window you will have to show traction. Align the right acumen with the vision you have and watch the growth!  Too many entrepreneurs do not have the well-rounded talent to handle all aspects of achieving revenues fast and keeping the back office rolling effectively. Your success is truly measured by your ability to engage the right resources early.

4.  Marketing and growth are paramount, especially if you're looking for funding to grow fast. Sources of funding are interested in whether you have the revenue to show NOW, that you have a solution that matters to a large enough demographic, and that the business model is profitable.  Sales are king in the beginning, NOT perfection.   And sales don't happen unless you can reach your tribe of raving fans.

Trisha Squires

Empowered Leadership Cultivation

www.empoweredlc.com

The single best advice for any Entrepreneur is to “know your numbers” by reconciling your bank account.  How do you know whether your business is succeeding or failing?  How do you know whether things are getting better or worse?

Those numbers are all about the CASH that it takes to operate your business.  That cash reflects the Sales, COGS and Net Income of the company.  It reflects the Inventory you’ve purchased and the Payroll that you’ve paid.  It represents by the checks you’ve written and the deposits that you’ve made.  You’ve all heard that Cash is King.  Well, it’s absolutely true.

Most owners see financial statements.  But I’ll bet most of your eyes just glaze over when looking at the row upon row of numbers.  The best way of understanding how cash is used in your business is to do your Bank Reconciliation.  Think about it.  All of your cash moves through your bank account.  You will see every deposit and expenditure.  Reconcile that account every month without fail, and you will have a clear handle on how much money is coming in, where it’s going to, and how much is left to use next month.

Larry Chester

CFO Interventions

www.cfointerventions.com

The single best piece of advice I have for entrepreneurs looking to accelerate their business is to collaborate and find other people in the same space to learn and grow with.  It isn't about the competition but rather how you can help and be helped by others in your industry or market.

Becky Feinberg-Galvez

Corporate Textiles

www.shop4ties.com

Hire people smarter than you and learn from them. As entrepreneurs, we are all in business because we are great at something, but that in no way means that we are great at everything.  Allowing experts to show you the shortcuts to success, that they often spent years learning for themselves, will give you the ability to grow your business quickly but don't just delegate and walk away. Learn as much as you can so that you can own the process and make the best parts of it a part of your daily practice.

Kristy Dilworth

Smart Dogs Training and Lodging Facility

www.smartdogstraingingandlodging.com


The 5 MUSTS to Consider for your new CRM

After more than 10 years of selecting and implementing CRMs for my small business clients I have seen more than my share of struggle, strife and stress when it comes to these tricky systems. We have experienced programming across 14 different platforms and at the end of the day it is basically the same gears and pulleys and what you are truly selecting are systems integrations and the interface. So how is a business owner to choose the right one and set it up for success? Let me share our hottest tips:

1. Align to how your company thinks.  

Every organization has technology and systems plugged in long before they start thinking CRM. Heed this advice: Pick the CRM that most closely aligns with the tech you already use! If you are an Apple shop do not pick Microsoft's most recommended CRM! If you are Google based, use a product that was designed to integrate (I recommend Insightly).

2. Start with the end in mind. 

If you are attempting to program your system yourself, the easiest way is to identify what reports are going to be most valuable for your organization. Do you need to track how long it takes a digital suspect to become a qualified prospect? Do you need to hyperfocus on the usage of your website by current clients? A little brainstorming about the results will allow you to create a map that truly works.

3. Get out of your head.

Creating a map that you can look at and play with OUTSIDE of your own head or in the system itself is critical. Map out the flow of how a prospect flows through the system, which drip marketing campaign it gets added to, and what activity sets need to automate to get them effectively in the pipeline. This kinesthetic, visual exercise will give you the clarity you need to set the program up right.

4. Be dedicated.

I hate to break this to you but, except to a few geeks like me, CRMs are not sexy.  Your staff is not going to be salivating to learn a new and complex system that can feel like busy work. As a leader, you must be 100% engaged with the system and be the example your team can look to. Log in daily. Get excited about the automations and reports. Geek out...and show them the power of systems.

5. Create a training and engagement plan.

Your team will need you to educate them, over and over again, about the power and functionality of your CRM. Create a training schedule, incentive program and stick to it! Think of it like dating. You want to introduce them to each other, and let them go on a few dates before they start seeing each other every day. And, once they are married to it, sometimes it helps to find something to reignite the spark. If you are a soloprenuer then make a date with yourself to keep engaged!

Your CRM can help you automate activity, track the true numbers and bolster sales, but it's going to take some love and time in the beginning.  @revenue offers assistance with selection, mapping, programming, training and more! Enlist an expert today, we are just a phone call away! 630-631-7713