Monday, September 29, 2008

Marketing Plans, Target Clients, and Ideal Clients – part 1

Creating a marketing plan for your small business is like building a house. You need a foundation to build upon. You need supporting walls to hold up the structure. You need a roof to cover the building.

Far too many businesses have a throw it at the wall approach to marketing without a thought to strategy of how the whole house fits together. This makes for an ineffective marketing plan.

An effective marketing plan includes two very important elements: a strategy aimed at your Ideal Client using your Unique Strategic Position.

Today I will be explaining a Target Client in order to set the stage for how an Ideal Client is different and crucial in your marketing strategy.
If you’ve done much reading or taken any marketing courses you may have run across two terms related to clients: a Target Client and an Ideal Client. There are profound differences between the two.

A Target Client is a demographical profile of the type of customer you want to target. Clues to who you want to target lie in your current favorite clients. Examine your records to see if there are any patterns. Do you seem to have quite a few clients in a specific industry? Have you developed an idea of what it is they seem to need?

A Target Client Profile includes things like age, gender, profession, income, education, and geographical location. Completing this type of profile helps you establish where you will best find your clients.

How do you approach marketing? Do you decide what to do based upon products and services you already offer? Or do you try to find the holes in the structure of your target client’s abode? Do you look for unmet needs where you could slide in with the perfect solution and save the day?

An example: You are an independent financial advisor. You may find that your typical client is 45 to 60 year old male small business owner in the home building field who is concerned about taxes and having enough saved to fund retirement. He is also monitoring the cost of health insurance for his employees, the cost of managing his workplace 401(k) plan, and finding a buyer for his business when he retires.

A great place to market your services would be at the local Home Builders Association. What kind of short talk could you put together that addresses the concerns of this client?

Next time: Ideal Clients and Your Marketing Plan

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors

Friday, September 26, 2008

Marketing Your Business Using LinkedIn

If you’re not quite ready to jump into utilizing the complicated and detailed power of the internet to grow your business, LinkedIn is a good place to start.

You know what I mean - you’re not quite ready to go all the way with internet marketing (you know, the ezine sign up box, the monthly ezine, the information products) then starting with LinkedIn might be just right for you.

I remember the first time someone sent me an invitation to join LinkedIn. I had never heard of it before and honestly didn’t think it would be worthwhile to join. But I set up a profile, checked to see if others I knew or did business with had a profile, sent invitations, and pretty soon I had a veritable “who’s who” of contacts and connections to utilize when referring business opportunities for my clients.

For the beginner: Create a profile on LinkedIn. Use your profile to highlight your skills and where you want to go with your business. After attending a networking event, go through the cards you collect and determine who you made a meaningful connection with. Send those folks an email within 24 hours letting them know how much you enjoyed meeting them and letting them know you’ll be sending them an invitation to LinkedIn.

Add your website address to your profile. Make sure you select the “Other” option rather than “my website”. This will allow you to use the actual words that make up your website name rather than the “masked” version they give you. See my profile for examples.

Add a photo. You know the old saying “a picture is worth 1000 words”. By adding a photo you make yourself real to others, not just a name.

After you’ve completed a project, send your clients a request for a recommendation (make sure you did a great job before doing this).

For the advanced: read this article on BNET about How to Get Started With LinkedIn. It has all sorts of advanced options for how to maximize LinkedIn to build your career. One advanced technique that I’m using is to promote my LinkedIn Profile with a LinkedIn button on my blog. If you don’t have a blog you can use this button on your website’s bio page.

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Using Toastmasters to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

I had the privilege of being the Toastmaster last Thursday at Airpark Toastmasters. If you’ve ever attended Toastmasters, you know that it’s a great venue for testing your willingness to step outside your comfort zone. Toastmasters allows participants to improve speaking and leadership skills in a supportive learning environment. I challenge myself weekly by attending Toastmasters and I use this as a way to stay sharp. I also use it as a networking opportunity.

As Toastmaster, you select the Theme of the Day, prepare opening and closing comments, and generally run the meeting. The theme I selected was “Personal Responsibility – Have We Become a Nation of Whiners?”

I believe we determine our own destiny by our attitude. To put it simply, if you are a positive person who takes responsibility for your own actions, you will create the life you deserve. If you are a negative person, who makes negative comments and focuses on what’s wrong with a situation, you will create a destiny of negativity.

The best part of being the Toastmaster is that you get to use the role as a platform for your ideology. And since I lean more to the right than the left, that’s what I did on Thursday.

Personal Responsibility – Have We Become a Nation of Whiners? What do you think?

This is a great country. It’s the best country I’ve lived in and The United States is my third country! Over the years, however, governments, both national and local, businesses and other institutions have made a name for themselves by helping others reduce the need for individual responsibility.

Didn’t save for retirement? No problem. Here’s a government program to help you. Have at it. Can’t take the pressures of providing a living for yourself? No problem. Here’s another program.

Love to eat but don’t like to work out? No problem. Here’s a surgery to take the weight off the easy way.

My philosophy is that "You are responsible for your own life. Being responsible is not a choice. It's a requirement for a strong society."

I want to give you an example.

For four years of my life I earned a paycheck from a business that was not my own. I worked for the largest and most respected mutual fund company in the nation. I loved my job, but I was astonished that most of my coworkers complained constantly about the company.

Health insurance costs went up each year and people complained. Health insurance is not a right it is a benefit. A 401k plan company match is not a right, it is a benefit. Vacation is not a right, it is a benefit.

If you don’t like your job – take responsibility for your own happiness and get a new job.

Don’t want to work for “the man?” Great. Start your own business. But please don’t poison your coworkers with your negativity.

Taking responsibility can transform your life from one of being a victim to having power over your own life. The stronger your attitude of responsibility, the more success you'll have in your life.

Please take responsibility for your life. Don’t look to the government, your employer, or your significant other to take care of you.

If you find yourself being particularly comfortable in your safe office, and you realize that you need a challenge, find a Toastmasters club and try it on for size. You’ll find that it will give you a competitive advantage in your industry.

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors

Friday, September 19, 2008

Market your Business: Get out of the Office and out of your Comfort Zone!

As you read this blogpost are you safe, sitting in your comfortable office with your coffee and comforts close by? Have you been “outside” today to market your business? For that matter, have you been out of the office at all this week?

If this is you, you’re not unusual. Our offices are nice, safe environments where we can hibernate, read emails obsessively all day long, and remain comfortable. Comfort does not help you grow your business. It takes real courage to take a business to the next level and I’m pretty certain that not everyone has it in them to get there.

Even though I harp on taking risks, my most successful clients, the ones I’ve worked with for years that have hit the six and seven figure mark, tend to get lazy if I don’t push them to get out there. We are inherently lazy. It’s just human nature.

So my message today is if you don’t have someone like me pushing you and holding you accountable, make an appointment with yourself to get up off the couch and out of the office. Pick a few networking events you’ve never been to before. Get out. You’ll be glad you did.

Suzanne Muusers
ICF-Certified Business and Marketing Coach

Monday, September 15, 2008

Website Marketing: Use SEO or You’re SOL!

Since I tend to focus on marketing and branding, people often ask me to recommend a web designer who can design a beautiful website.

They are usually entrepreneurs who are ready to move on to their second or third website. They have learned what makes them unique. They have found a target client that they work best with, and now they want a new site to announce their new position to the world.

What most people don’t understand is that you MUST have not only good design, but also search engine optimization. If you don’t have both good design and SEO you are SOL!

There are so many crappy websites out there. They are poorly designed, based off a template, or one those “build it in an evening” sites.
These sites will do NOTHING for your business.

Suzanne’s Golden Rule of The Day “If you want clients who will pay you your highest fees ever, you must hire a professional designer to give you your best look ever.”

In addition to good design you need someone who understands search engine optimization. If you can’t find someone who has a good understanding of SEO, you may have to learn it yourself so that you can guide your designer.

Because if you don’t have BOTH good design and SEO, no one is going to find you online. There. That’s my diatribe for the day!

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

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How to Market your Business and Have Fun at the Same Time - With a Pie In The Face!

Watch the video (39 seconds) and you’ll see how much fun we have growing our businesses!

If you have never tried a leads group to market your business, I strongly encourage you to do so. First a definition for you: a leads group is a networking group that allows one member per business category.

That means that if you are a Business Coach (like me) and you join a leads group, another business coach cannot join, thus protecting your interests. Tips or leads are passed in the group that can help you grow your business.

I have been a member of Le Tip North Scottsdale for close to three years and I have really enjoyed the experience. We recently had a membership drive to bring in new members. The prize was the opportunity to throw a pie in the face of the Membership Chair.

Dr. Alan Houfek, one of the winning members gleefully took the opportunity to throw the pie while other members elected to keep the pie or donate the pie to a needy family.

Our membership chair, Steve Radonich, suggested that we have a membership competition where the winner who brought in the most guests who joined our group would have an opportunity to do something we all have wanted to do at do at some point in our lives. Anyone who has ever watched the three stooges has seen them throw a pie in someone’s face. The result of our membership drive is that we brought in 12 guests with 4 joining our group. Don’t you think that’s a fun way to grow and market your business at the same time.

Learn more about LeTip International