Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Networking without follow up is crazy

I run into business owners who do a lot of networking. They list off all the networking events they attend and tell me how often they are out of the office. When I ask what strategy they have in place to follow up on everyone they meet, they stare at me blankly.

Networking is one of the best ways to grow a business and find new clients. If, however, you never follow up with those you made a meaningful connection with, you are wasting your time.
There are several great books that talk about networking follow up strategies. Here are two: Endless Referrals – Bob Burg; Get More Referrals Now - Bill Cates.

My golden rule for networking follow up is: Send a card or email within 24 hours. If you wait longer than 24 hours, you risk not following through. If you wait weeks or months, you risk not being remembered which is the kiss of death in my opinion.

When you send your follow up email or note, ask the prospect if they’d like to get together for coffee. This is a nice, non-threatening way to get to know them better. Be curious about them and their business by asking questions about their background and experience. Use this information to see if there are referral possibilities between you.

Make networking worth it by following up. Networking without follow up is crazy.

Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona

Friday, July 18, 2008

Branding – What makes a brand successful?

I recently met with Ken Peters, owner of Nocturnal Graphic Design Studio, to learn what makes a brand successful. My clients know that I have a passion for good design. When prospects and clients ask me “How do I attract high net-worth clients?” I always tell them to hire a top notch designer and make an investment in their brand. See for yourself what an expert in the design industry has to say.

Click on images to enlarge

What is a good brand composed of?

It’s much more than a logo and a catchy slogan. Brands are composed of consumer touch-points, and the perceptions they create. Every experience a person has with your company, products, or services, communicates a message establishing a perception that defines your Brand. A Brand is as much the perception of beauty in an attractive marketing brochure, as the perceived ease of navigating a user-friendly web site. It’s as much the tangible perception of quality craftsmanship, as the intangible perception of friendly service.

Because we each view life through the lens of our individual experiences, perception can’t be determined, only influenced. Influencing perception is the job of the Brand Identity. A Brand Identity is the visual articulation of the perception you wish your Brand to convey. Graphic Design is the craft used to create the Brand Identity. Marketing disseminates the Brand Identity. Advertising promotes and sells the Brand Identity. Together, they work to create, retain, enhance, sustain, and when necessary, recreate, Brand perception – all in an effort to elicit the desired consumer action.

Why is a professional brand identity so important for business owners?
Brand Identity is what differentiates your business in a cluttered market. It’s how you attract attention, communicate with consumers, establish emotional connections, create desire, and elicit action.

What are the top three mistakes entrepreneurs make when designing their Brand Identity?

1) Not working with professional graphic designers: Accessibility to computers, design software, fonts, etc., has created a proliferation of “off-the-shelf-graphic-gurus”. But, knowing how to use Photoshop doesn’t make someone a designer anymore than knowing how to scramble an egg makes someone a chef. Navigating the complexities and nuances of effective and compelling Identity design requires the acuity of trained, professional practitioners.

2) Cutting corners on quality: Graphic design, printing, photography, illustration, copywriting, materials, and overall consistency in visual tone and message each influence consumer perception. Skimping on these could communicate a lack of quality that will reflect poorly on your Brand. You might save pennies up front, but it’ll cost you in the long run.

3) Not following through: Designing your Identity is the first step, but it doesn’t end there. Building Brand equity takes time. Once your Identity has been launched it must be managed as your business grows and the Brand evolves. Communicating a consistent message, while being flexible enough to adapt to change, keeps your Brand from becoming obsolete. This requires constant attention. Trying to tackle the task yourself is a recipe for failure. Maximize your return on investment in Brand Identity by keeping it in the expert care of design professionals.

Is it more important to design an Identity to communicate an idea or is it more important to design an Identity that is visually eye catching.

Every Brand communicates an idea. The key is creating the right perception through an engaging Identity. That requires smart design. Design isn’t rocket science. It’s persuasion. And, persuasion is an art.

Please give us some tips on how to develop a successful Brand Identity.

1) Understand that working with a professional graphic designer is a capital investment, rather than an expense. Investing in quality up front generates greater dividends in the long run.

2) Work with a designer who excites you. Designing a creative and effective Brand Identity is a highly collaborative process. It not only requires imagination and skill, but also a spirit of enthusiastic give-and-take among people who inspire and challenge each other.

3) Be open to bold ideas, and willing to take risks. Creativity and imagination are still the most effective means of gaining an unfair advantage over your competition.

4) Remember that bad design is often as memorable as good design. You have to decide how you want to be remembered.

Ken Peters is the Owner and Creative Director of Nocturnal Graphic Design Studio, LLC, a Phoenix-based design firm specializing in brand development and corporate image for large and small businesses in all industries. To speak with Ken directly email To view samples from Nocturnal’s portfolio, visit

Suzanne Muusers
Prosperity Coaching LLC
Branding Packages

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's Mid-Year - Are You Working on Your Goals?

Each New Years I redo my business plan and create my goals for the year. I review my Vision and Mission to see if it’s still relevant, update my strategies, and then create my business goals. I coach my clients to do the same.

About this time of year I review my progress on annual goals. Are you doing the same? Or are you slacking off? Summer is traditionally a time for sending the kids to grandma, taking vacations and generally having a good time. But in doing so, are we neglecting our businesses?

Are YOU working on your goals?

As entrepreneurs we are usually too busy being the technician and working on the day to day chores necessary to run our businesses. There are appointments, networking events, business administration, and the work we do. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind. Nevertheless, if we truly want to get ahead, we need to work on the “Big Picture Goals” such as writing that book (join this book writing coaching group if this is one of your goals), creating that e-course, or writing the articles that will position you as an expert.

The subconscious mind knows when we slack off. It allows us to ignore what we really want. Don’t let this happen to you. Find a nice three-hour block of time in your schedule and revise your business plan. If you don’t have a business plan, consider my Two Page Mini Business Plan™. It’s fast, easy and gets results.

What's the best thing about my business plan? It's the Success Book - a Daily Action Planner that keeps the entrepreneur in line with the DAILY TASKS necessary to build a business. We all need a constant reminder that goals can only be achieved if we TAKE ACTION!

Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona