The 5 Things You Should Know To Craft Powerful Offers in Your Business

The 5 Things You Should Know To Craft Powerful Offers in Your Business

Blog-a-Lesson Checkpoint:

  • You have identified which marketing materials you need, and which you can live without.
  • You have completed an audit of your existing marketing materials and identified opportunities for improvement based on the criteria in Blog-a-Lesson #10.

Focus on using powerful offers to generate leads, not to close sales.

Powerful offers that drive your audience to take action can be used in your business to do a myriad of things. They’re great for moving old or overstocked product, overcoming buyer objections, eliminating purchase risk, or even just building your customer database.

Well-crafted offers are also fantastic lead generators which is what we’re going to focus on in this Blog-a-Lesson. In this case, the offer is designed to get potential customers to identify themselves, not to close sales. Once those potential customers have identified themselves – they’ve taken action to redeem the offer – they enter the formal sales process and you can convert them into a loyal customer.

Offers designed to be lead generators drive more qualified prospects to your business. They weed out the buyers who would take advantage of your offer, but who are not otherwise a part of your target market. offer, but who are not otherwise a part of your target market.

I’m going to show you how to speak to your target market’s “hot buttons” and emotional motivators, instead of simply crafting an offer based on financial savings or bonuses. Let’s get started!

In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last. –John Romero

In this Blog-a-Lesson we will cover:

  • The elements that make an offer ‘powerful’
  • A step-by-step process for creating a powerful offer
  • Types of powerful offers
  • Examples of powerful offers
  • Testing and measuring your powerful offers

A powerful offer is irresistible to your potential customers’ emotional motivators.

In simple terms, a powerful offer gets people to respond, or take action. It will provide enough motivation for the reader to pick up the phone, visit your website, or walk into your store.

Often, powerful offers are called irresistible offers because they seem too good to pass up. They make your target audience think, “Wow! This is the chance I’ve been waiting for!” or, “I’d be nuts not to take advantage of this opportunity!”

Using emotional motivators in your offer (and in your headlines and copywriting, which we’ll review in upcoming Blog-a-Lesson) will drive qualified prospects to your business, and will make the job of converting customers into repeat business easier and more cost effective.

A powerful offer will feature an element of urgency or scarcity as a key motivator for action.

If I offered “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts” every day of the year, chances are I wouldn’t have a stampede of prospects at my door. I would likely draw a few new clients a week, but the majority of those who saw the offer – even if they were interested – would probably put it off for later.

When you create an offer for lead generation, you want your prospect to take action as soon as possible. Now, let’s face it, we’re all procrastinators at heart, so you have to give your audience a reason to take action without delay.

So, instead of just “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts,” I could offer, “2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts, Mother’s Day weekend – 20 spots available, book your appointment today!” This offer has an element of urgency – the offer is only valid for a two-day period – and scarcity – there are a limited number of appointments during those two days.

Here are some other ways I could use scarcity or urgency to ‘sweeten’ the offer:

how-to-craft-a-great-sales-offers

1. Establish who you are trying to target, and what you want them to do. Let’s walk through an easy step-by-step process for creating powerful offers that will generate qualified leads for your business.

Like all of your lead generation efforts, you need to establish who your target market or audience is before you can attempt to reach them. In most cases, this will be the target market you originally identified. In my salon example, the target market is middle-class women aged 18 to 65 with an interest in the latest trends in fashion and beauty.

You may also wish to segment that group of people into a more specific category. I could limit my target audience to those women in my target market with daughters.

Secondly, you must be clear about what you want your readers to do, and ask them to do it in your offer. Since you’re creating an offer to generate leads, in this case you want readers to identify themselves in some way, and make contact with you. In my example above, I asked customers to call and reserve their appointment today. You may ask your readers to come to the store for a free trial, or place an online order.

2. Identify the emotional motivators or “hot buttons” that will get your target to take action.

Using the categories below, decide why your target market needs or wants what you have to offer.

How do they feel in general about your product or service?

What problem does your offer provide the solution to?

  • Safety and financial security for self and family
  • Convenience and time management
  • Freedom from worry
  • Self-improvement
  • Acceptance and recognition from others
  • Basic needs, including food, shelter, love, personal maintenance, etc.

In my example, I’m targeting the emotions associated with the bond between mothers and daughters, especially on Mother’s Day, and their common interest in beauty services. The offer alludes to an opportunity to spend time with each other, an activity for Mother’s Day, and a way to save money while doing so.

3. Once you have identified the emotions you will try to target, determine which type of offer will work best.

Free Offer

Ask your potential customer to act immediately for a free reward. This is a great lead generator if you can offer a solution to a common problem for free. Examples would be “Contact me now to receive your free 10-page guide to financial freedom,” or “Act now and get your first month of home security for free – a $99 value!” Try to include the dollar value of what you are providing for free to increase the perceived value.

Guarantee Offer

Guarantee the performance of your product or results of your service, and you’ll take away the fear many customers feel when making a purchase. This is a great way to overcome barriers when a customer is making a large or important purchase, or when safety and security are involved.

  • Money-back guarantee: full refund for unsatisfied customers.
  • Double-your-money-back guarantee: double refund for unsatisfied customers.
  • Long-term guarantee: one year, multi-year or lifetime guarantee.

Free Trial or Demonstration Offer

Another great way to reverse purchase risk is to offer a free trial (7, 14, or 30 days) or to provide a free demonstration. This works with all kinds of products or services, and allows the customer to convince himself that he needs what you have to offer. Those customers who are concerned about making the right purchase decision will be put at ease by this offer.

Package or Value-Added Offer

This offer appeals to customers looking for convenience because their needs are met in one place or one purchase, like start-up kits and special packages. Packaging products also increases the perception of value, often without adding costs. For example, offering a free printer with computer purchase.

Premium Offer

Always offer premiums over discounts, as they will better serve your bottom line. Reward purchases with bonus products or services, and you’ll give new customers an incentive for choosing your business over the competition.

3. Draft several hard-to-refuse offers based on these motivators.

Brainstorm as many different types of offers as you can, using emotional keywords or hot buttons. Depending on the type of business you have, and the products or services you offer, you may wish to focus on a single product or service, or open up the offer to all the items you have in store.

Are there any freebies you can throw in? Any overstock that can be handed out as a free gift, packaged with a complimentary product? What about bonus services that you can add on to products for a limited time (with limited costs)? Will a simple guarantee make a big difference?

Remember that when you are describing your offer, be as specific as possible and avoid lengthy description of product details and benefits. Your goal is to sell the offer and motivate readers to take the next step, not to sell your product.

4. Evaluate the financial viability of each of your brainstormed offers.

Even though you’re using these offers as lead generation tools, you need to make sure that each transaction will turn an acceptable profit – or at least allow you to break even. The last thing you want to have happen is a store full of leads redeeming an outrageous offer that will leave you broke.

So, for each of your brainstormed offers, calculate your break-even point. If I were offering 2 for 1 Mother Daughter haircuts, my calculation would look something like this:

A. Costs: Determine the costs involved in your offer (hard costs – product or service, and soft costs – advertising or marketing).

Service costs:
Adult Haircut: $20
Junior Haircut: $10

Marketing costs:
Advertising: $200
Flyer Drop: $100

B. Profit: Assess how much profit you’ll generate per sale (price minus hard costs).

Adult Haircut: $40 (price) – $20 (cost) = $20 profit
Junior Haircut: $0 (offered free) – $10 (cost) = $10 expense

Profit: $20 – $10 = $10 profit per transaction

C. Break Even Point: Calculate how many transactions you’ll need to break even (how much profit will you need to make to cover soft costs).

Advertising (total): $300
Profit: $10
Transactions: $300 / $10 = 30 transactions required to break even.

From here you can assess whether or not you can realistically break even, and if your offer is financially viable. In this example, 30 transactions is a reachable target for my salon over the course of a weekend. I may also consider extending the offer over the course of a week, maintaining an element of urgency, but allowing more time to recover my costs.

Keep in mind that their initial purchase in response to your offer may only allow you to break even, but if you are able to convert them into repeat customers, the profit of their subsequent purchases may make up the difference.

5. Select two of your financially viable offers, then test them to measure which works best.

I like to test two offers at a time when I first start to use this lead generation strategy. This will tell me what emotional motivators really work with my target audience, and then I can continue to build on that knowledge.

Use your lead tracking system to measure which offers generate the highest number of leads. If coupons are a part of your offer, put a tracking code on each of them, or make sure that your staff are asking every inquiry which offer they are responding to.

Remember, testing and measuring is a vital component of your lead generation efforts, and it elicits some really valuable information. Once you know what works with your audience, you can use that information on emotional motivators to influence decisions you make when writing headlines and other copy.

Get creative and put together new and exciting offers for your potential clients on a regular basis.

Remember – you’ll need to keep improving and revising your offers to ensure you continue to draw leads from them. Otherwise, your audience will get used to seeing the same offer, assume it is always available, and it may become stale.

Use opportunities like seasons, events, anniversaries and other celebrations to change and renew offers. When you bring in a new product line, feature a new service, or try to go after a new segment of your target market, check-in to see if you can create an offer around the news and bring in some new leads.

In the next Blog-a-Lesson, we’re going to spend some time cultivating your headline writing skills. You’ll see that we use headlines in all types of marketing and sales materials, and they’re a powerful or even essential component of your lead generation tools.

To Your Success,

wEquipu-small-business

We help you develop breakthrough marketing strategies and put groundbreaking small business consulting ideas into action with our Silver Bullet System ultimately improving small businesses decisions and business results through proven methodologies. 

As John Maxwell Certified Coaches, we have the management and team coaching expertise to tackle team challenges head on.  We help small businesses overcome fierce competition, modest budgets and solidifying their sales and marketing engine by improving lead generation, conversion rates, transactions, higher prices and profits generation strategies. – wEquipu Team.

How to Create Marketing Materials that Work

How to Create Marketing Materials that Work

Blog-a-Lesson Checkpoint:

  • You have established which of your three draft marketing messages is the strongest, and incorporated it into all of your existing marketing materials
  • You have implemented a lead tracking and management system and trained your staff to use it effectively

Your marketing materials are an extension of you and your company.  How are yours working?

You can have a lot of fun creating marketing materials for your business. It’s an opportunity to work on a project that isn’t a spreadsheet or a graph or an order form. You can really get creative!

Your materials get distributed in the world to send out a particular message (or messages) about your company and what you sell. They’re ambassadors for your business because they speak to your potential customers when you’re not there.

As you probably know, it’s easy to get carried away with marketing collateral. You’re surrounded by flashy, clever advertising everywhere you look, and when the time comes to create your own, you can’t help but feel that you have to keep up with the Joneses.

Most of the time this doesn’t work. You spend more money and see less impressive results. In this Blog-a-Lesson, I’m going to show you some proven strategies for simplifying and strengthening your marketing materials and focusing on the materials you need not the materials you think you think you should have.

Permission marketing turns strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers. It’s not just about entertainment it’s about education. Permission marketing is curriculum marketing. –Seth Godin

In this Blog-a-Lesson we will cover:

  • The marketing materials you really need – and the ones you don’t
  • The mistakes you might be making now
  • The elements each piece of marketing collateral should have
  • What you need to know about the design of your materials
  • What you need to know about testing, measuring and making mistakes

It’s easy to want to match your competition piece by piece – but when you’re trying to stretch your marketing budget, focus on the materials you actually need.

Just because your competition has an eight-page, glossy color brochure, doesn’t mean you need one to run a successful business.

When one brochure has the ability to eat your entire budget for marketing materials, you have to prioritize what’s essential and what’s just a “wish” or want. You need to make sure you’re spending on the items that are going to bring in the most return on investment.

Your marketing materials need to communicate your message to your target and motivate them to act. Do you really need a glossy brochure when black and white flyers will be just as effective? Think about this when making decisions about your marketing items.

Make choices based on how your target audience prefers to receive information.

Do they prefer paper newsletters, or electronic ones? Are they environmentally conscious, or technology savvy? Do they appreciate personal contact, or just need to see information in a newspaper? Remember that how you communicate is often just as or more important that what you communicate.

Make green choices – your customers will appreciate it.

Choose recycled paper and envelopes when you can, and print double-sided. Produce marketing materials in electronic format (like newsletters), and print limited runs of hard copy materials (like brochures).

What are the marketing materials that your business needs, wants and would like to have?

  • Logo
  • Business Cards
  • Brochure
  • Website
  • Newsletter
  • Catalogue
  • Advertisements
  • Flyers
  • Fridge Magnet
  • Branded Swag (pens, etc.)
  • Employee Clothing
  • Cloth Bags
  • Product Labels
  • Signage
  • Email Signature
  • Blog
  • Letterhead + Envelopes
  • Thank You Cards
  • Notepads
  • Seasonal Gifts
  • Company Profile
  • Internal Templates (Fax Cover, Memo, etc.)

Create a list of your essential marketing materials then, below it, create a list of your “wish” marketing materials. You can use your “wish list” when you have a little extra budget, or are looking to create a “wow” piece. The list above is for you to use as a guideline – you may not need all of these items, or want to add your own ideas to the list.

Take your existing marketing materials through this audit, and look for opportunities to improve and strengthen.

Are you fighting for their attention with a powerful headline?
You have about four seconds to grab the attention of your reader with your headline. If you do, you have a few more seconds to convince them to read your subheadline. If you’re successful in doing that, you have a few more seconds to get them to read further. See what I’m saying?

You have about four seconds to grab the attention of your reader with your headline. If you do, you have a few more seconds to convince them to read your subheadline. If you’re successful in doing that, you have a few more seconds to get them to read further. See what I’m saying?

Make sure your headlines:

  • Offer to take away pain or give pleasure
  • Hit your target market’s hot buttons
  • Bring up emotion
  • Are bold, dramatic, shocking or unbelievable
  • Answer the questions – what’s in it for the customer? why should the customer care?

Are you triggering an emotional response to a problem, fear, need or want?

Once you have their attention, you need to continue to keep it. Shake up their confidence in what they’re doing now, or the urgency with which they need to solve their problem. Put their fears, concerns and desires in black and white text in front of their eyes:

Ask them if they:

  • Are doing enough?
  • Can wait any longer?
  • Can sacrifice any more?
  • Are paying too much?
  • Are getting the best product or service for their money?

Are you building their trust or confidence in your ability to meet their needs?

You’ve got their attention, and tapped into their emotions, now you need to build their confidence in you ability to solve their problems and meet their needs. You’ll need to show them your solution, and prove that you can be trusted to do what you promise.

Tell them how:

  • You’re different from the competition
  • You’re highly qualified
  • You have documented results
  • You have a high number of happy customers
  • You get recognized from others in your field

Are you wowing them with your competitive edge?

You may be the best at what you do or have the best product but if your customers can’t get a hold of you when they need you, how valuable are you? Here are some examples:

Tell them how you do more than the competition:

  • 24-hour hotline
  • Housecalls, or free delivery
  • Customer rewards program
  • Other convenience services

Are you overcoming their objections before they’ve raised them?

It makes no difference what business you are in; there will always be objections to buying what you are selling. Most often the biggest objection is the price. You should confront them head-on by explaining why it’s worth paying your price. You need to put their fears to rest before they will be ready to buy.

Are you providing an element of risk reversal with a strong guarantee?

Stand behind what you’re claiming about the quality of your product or service, and offer a guarantee in your marketing materials. Typically, the strength and length of the guarantee indicate the quality of the product in most customer’s eyes, so create a strong one.

You can guarantee:

  • Performance
  • Benefits
  • Longevity
  • Satisfaction

Are you showing them what other people have said about your product or service?

Use testimonials to speak to your credibility and merit. Let the testimonials show your potential clients how trustworthy you are, and how much benefit they’ve received from your product or service. Make sure the testimonial addresses the problem that your customer had before they used your product.

Are you giving them an easy way to contact you?

Make it easy for customers to be in touch with you, or get more information. Clearly display your phone number and website address on everything you produce, and consider including a map of your store location so you’re easy to find.

Each piece should provide the following contact information:

  • Location (with map)
  • Phone / Fax / Cell
  • Website
  • Toll free number
  • Email

Are you giving them a reason to act NOW?

The last job your marketing piece has to do is motivate your viewer to take action. You need to make them want to call for more information, visit your website, or just come into your store. Invite them to take action on every page.

To motivate customers to act, you can:

  • Offer special “bonus” offers to quick responders
  • Make a time-sensitive offer
  • Tell them how rare your product is, or what limited quantity you have
  • Offer limited-time added value

Are you telling them what your product or service will give them?

Your customer doesn’t care about the features of your product or service, they only care about the benefit that feature will provide them. Customers buy benefits, not products or services. A client is looking to buy some more confidence from a new hairstyle, not a haircut.

Are you telling viewers the story of your product or service?

Remember that you are painting a story to tap into the emotions of your viewers. Detailed technical descriptions should be replaced with descriptions of how the customer may enjoy the benefit, and how they might feel.

The story will help the reader picture:

  • How they’ll feel after using your product or service
  • What they’ll look like using your product or service
  • What they’ll have time to do once they buy your product or service
  • The relief they’ll experience after purchasing your product or service

Are you giving them a reason to keep your marketing piece?

Give your customers a reason to keep your business card, brochure, newsletter or direct mail piece, refer to it, and pass it on to others to see. If you are selling hair care products, you can give your readers tips on how to combat split ends, frizz, unruly curls and heat damage. If you sell kitchen products, you can provide recipes that use your cookware or tools.

Some ideas for keep-able marketing pieces are:

  • Top 10 lists
  • Tips for product caretaking and longevity
  • Recipes
  • How-to’s

Flashy design is not important to your marketing campaign but clear and professional looking materials are absolutely essential.

-Chris McMullan

When it comes to the visual presentation of your marketing materials, you need to strike a balance. On one hand, you don’t want to spend all of your budget on design and production. On the other hand, the cost of sending out materials that don’t look and feel professional is usually much higher.

Going back to our discussion on time management, you’ll want to check in with yourself and see if your time is best spent designing your brochures, ads, flyers and direct mail, or if you should hire other resources.

Resources for marketing collateral design and layout include:

how-to-create-marketing-material

If you’re designing your materials in-house, here are some guidelines.

how-to-create-marketing-material

If you’re going to try something new test, measure and make mistakes in small batches or online.

You will need to constantly be monitoring the success of each piece of marketing material and looking for opportunities to strengthen and improve it. Since you already have your lead tracking and management system in place, this is a matter of sitting down on a regular basis and reviewing the leads each piece generated, and how many turned into sales (we’ll review this when we get to conversion rates.

Remember, always test, measure and then make choices.

If you’re not sure about a new strategy, do a test run to a limited distribution area, or test the message out online. Do small production runs of brochures or flyers you’re not sure about, so you don’t end up with heaps of flyers that didn’t work.

In the end, the strength of your marketing piece is in what you say and how you say it.

Too often, flashy design gets in the way of the message and you miss an opportunity to attract a customer. Simple, clear marketing materials deliver an easy-to-understand message to your target audience, and result

The next Blog-a-Lesson will look at the role of your offer in motivating your audience to take action. A powerful even irresistible offer can act as an ace in the hole for your lead generation efforts. I’ll show you how to put one together.

To Your Success,

wEquipu-small-business

We help you develop breakthrough marketing strategies and put groundbreaking small business consulting ideas into action with our Silver Bullet System  – ultimately improving small businesses decisions and business results through proven methodologies. 

As John Maxwell Certified Coaches, we have the management and team coaching expertise to tackle team challenges head on.  We help small businesses overcome fierce competition, modest budgets and solidifying their sales and marketing engine by improving lead generation, conversion rates, transactions, higher prices and profits generation strategies. – wEquipu Team.

How to Define Your Target Market

How to Define Your Target Market

Blog-a-Lesson Checkpoint:

  • You have calculated what your time is worth on an hourly basis.
  • You are aware of the time of day that you are most productive.
  • You have implemented five strategies for improved personal time management.

Determining your target market is your first job as a business owner

This Blog-a-Lesson officially marks the beginning of Step One of the five-step process, which shows you to how to bring a high number of qualified leads into your business.

Qualified leads are the group of people who are most likely to buy from you – they have a current need, problem or desire that your offering will solve or serve. These people are your target market, or ideal customers. Qualified leads are generally easier to convert into customers, so a high number of qualified leads mean a high conversion rate and, of course, more sales.

A great example of this going wrong… you own a hamburger business and are standing outside a large convention, waiting for the lunch-break to take advantage of a huge rush of people in a short period of time (a great way to do business) to give away small hotdogs to generate customers for your business down the road. You have prepared all your toppings, flyers with simple directions, arranged for staff to handle the rush and stocked up mightily to ensure you do not miss a single prospect. The group comes out and you manage 25 free hot dogs given away when you were expecting 500.

What went wrong? You did not realize the convention was a health and wellness group comprising of 95% vegetarians… morale of the story; if you are talking to the wrong audience it doesn’t matter how good your offer is – you are wasting your time. Talking to your target market is absolutely CRITICAL to successful marketing.

So, your first job as a business owner is to figure out who your target market is, and how the people in it think and behave.

In this Blog-a-Lesson we will cover:

  • How your target market influences your marketing choices
  • A step-by-step process for identifying your target market
  • Types of target markets
  • Examples of target markets
  • Market research strategies

Generating qualified leads will make it easy to boost your conversion rate, because your prospects will already want or need your service.

A target market is simply a group of people with something in common – things like age, gender, opinion, interest, or location, – who will purchase a particular product or service. Your market can be broad or specific in scope, and it is unique to each business or industry.

Knowledge and understanding of your target market is crucial to the viability of your business. You have to know if there is enough demand for your product, or enough interest and need for your service. You have to know how to communicate with your customers, and understand their thoughts and behaviors.

Without a comprehensive understanding of your target market, you can’t make smart choices about your front end offers, marketing strategy, pricing structure, and product or service mix. It’s kind of like driving a car with a blindfold on – you’d be headed for disaster.

In addition to being essential to confirm assumptions and understand purchase motivations, market research is something you will need to get into the habit of doing on a regular basis to monitor trends and stay ahead of the competition. Identifying your target market is not always easy, but I promise it will pay off in spades, so stay committed to your efforts as you work through this post.

Let’s start with an easy, step-by-step process to identify your target market.

You likely already have an idea of who your target market is – or who you want it to be. Start by describing who you think your target market is in two or three sentences on your pad of paper.

As you work through this process, you may find that you were correct in your assumptions, or not. Either way, this post will discover invaluable information about your audience.

When you set out to identify your target market, you need to find the group of people that has these four characteristics:

  • They have a particular need, want or desire.
  • They have the financial ability to purchase your solution to their need, want or desire.
  • They have the power to decide to purchase your product or service.
  • They have access to your business, through a physical location, Internet or catalogue

First, take a look at what it is you offer or provide your customers.

To find the group of people with the characteristics listed above, you first need to answer the following questions about your product or service:

identifing-your-target-market

Now let’s look at the demographic and psychographic characteristics of the people that need, can afford, access and decide to purchase your offering.

Demographics

Answer the following demographic questions about the people who use your product. Some of the demographic information in this table may be less important than the rest (like ethnicity or religion) depending on your product or service and the market your are trying to attract.

target-market-demographics

Psychographics

Answer the following questions on your target market’s psychographics. Psychographics are the qualitative characteristics of your target audience, like personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyle. These characteristics can give you a lot of insight into how to best interact and communicate with your target market.

target-market-psychographics

So, now that you’ve gathered all this information, what does it tell you about your ideal customers?

You’ve done enough research now to create a picture of who you think your ideal customer is. Being as specific as you can, write a 1-2 sentence statement about your target market.

For example:

  • My target customer is a successful young professional; a middle-class man aged 20 to 35, who is single, makes more than $50,000 per year, and is physically fit. He is university educated, and has an active interest in economics and politics.
  • My target market is affluent new mothers; married women with children under five years old, between the ages of 25 and 45, and have a household income of at least $100,000 annually. She is the trend and opinion follower, and her purchase motivations are driven by her peer group.

Now that you’ve made some educated assumptions about who your target market is, you’ll have to use some market research strategies to confirm them.

Market research is the study of a particular group of consumers – or markets. It is one of the most valuable activities you will work on as a business owner, since it keeps you connected and informed about your customers thoughts, motivations and behaviors. Market research also minimizes risk and assumption-based decision making, which will improve the success rate of everything you do for your business.

When you begin your market research, you need to start out with a clear question that you want answered. Otherwise, you’ll quickly get off track and fail to end up with the information you really need. Think about questions like:

  • Am I right about my target audience assumptions?
  • Is my target audience interested in my new product or service?
  • I need more information about my target audience’s purchase motivations
  • What new trends are my target audience following?
  • What recent economic developments have impacted my target market?
  • How can I improve my customer service?
  • Has my target market changed in the past year?

Market research needs to be conducted regularly – regardless of how long you have been in business, or how well you know your target market. Trends shift, and environments are impacted by economic and political factors beyond your control.

There are two main types of market research – primary and secondary – and three main areas of market research – consumer, competitor, and environment.

Here’s a really helpful chart to use to organize information when you’re conducting your market research. This will help you conduct research that is comprehensive and cost effective.

three-main-areas-of-market-research-consumer-competitor-environment

Strategies for cost-effective secondary market research

Demographic Research (Customer)
Basic demographic research is something you won’t have to conduct yourself. Every city, town or region will have demographic information available online, or in city halls, libraries and business centers. National and regional statistical information is also available online or at government agencies.

Online and Consumer Research (Customer and Environment)
Primary market research can be expensive, so secondary research on general consumer behavior and purchase data can be extremely useful for small businesses. Some information will be available online, while other information (usually free) will be available at your local chamber of commerce and business centers.

Primary market research strategies you shouldn’t miss.

Ground Research (Customer or Competition)
Spend some time in your local area at different times of the day observing and talking to the people who live, work, or spend time there. What do you notice about the neighbourhood? How well is it taken care of? Why do people spend time here? Is anything missing? Get a sense of their age, gender, clothing and any other features.

Competing Businesses (Competition)
If you have direct competitors in the same local area, spend some time being “their” customer and making observations about their business. How do they advertise? What market are they targeting? Is there a niche market that is being missed?

Surveys (Customer or Competition)
Surveys are the most popular way to gather first hand information from your existing and potential customers. Take your time to administer them carefully and thoughtfully – surveys can get complex and variables can be high.

  • Keep your questionnaire short and focused on soliciting the information you need to answer your market research question. This will encourage a higher response rate.
  • Remember that your information will only be as good as the people you ask for it. Try to get as broad a cross section as possible. Depending on your market research question, you may not want to limit it to your existing customers.
  • Choose a survey method – telephone, web or paper-based – and understand the pros and cons of each. Research some survey templates, and spend more time than you think you need to on crafting your survey.
  • Include basic demographic questions on your survey so you can cross reference responses with factors like age, income, sex, and profession.

Website Analysis (Customer)
Use a website tracking system like Google Analytics to monitor how visitors to your website behave and use the information available. These programs will allow you to see how many people visit your site, where they are from, what pages they are looking at and how long they spend on your site.

Customer Loyalty and Purchase Data (Customer)
Your point of sale system – depending on the level of features it offers – may also be able to run reports on customer purchase patterns and trends. If you have a customer loyalty program, you can keep track of purchase information in each customer’s file or account. The type of information you’ll need to keep track of here is behavioristic: brand loyalty, product usage, purchase frequency, and readiness to buy.

Focus Groups (Customer)
Assemble groups of six to 12 people and ask them general and specific questions about their thoughts, opinions and habits as related to your marketing question. Be sure to assemble a cross section of people that is representative of your target market.

When you’ve completed your market research, analyze what you’ve learned. Go back to your original question, and weigh the outcome.

How has your market research supported the question(s) you set out to answer? Were your original assumptions confirmed or refuted?

  • Does my target market exist in my geographic area?
  • Does my target market actually want what I’m selling?
  • How does my target market want to purchase from me?
  • Is my target market interested in my new product or service?
  • How does my target market want me to communicate with them?
  • Is my target market large enough in my local area to support my business?
  • Are there areas of my research I could dig into for more information?

You may discover some hard facts to face about your business. Perhaps there is not a large enough market base in your area to support your business. Maybe you’ve spent thousands of dollars going after the wrong type of customers. This is all okay – it’s valuable information that you can work with to make better decisions about your marketing strategies and product or service offerings.

If you have flexibility in your product or service, you may be able to find ways to enhance your offerings and extend your target market to include more people, or a larger share of the marketplace.

Your market research is ongoing – each time you talk to a customer, supplier or sales rep, you’re gathering information about your clientele, and thus conducting market research. I often keep a log at the point of sale for staff to use to record customer comments and complaints. I also review the log for customer returns, and reasons for returns, to get valuable feedback on our offering.

Remember, audiences, trends, products and services change, so stay ahead of the curve and keep on top of your market.

Plan to make market research a regular part of your business, and schedule time and money for primary research at least once a year. This is the only way to stay ahead of the competition when it comes to trends and environmental changes beyond your control.

The next few Blog-a-Lessons are about applying the information you have learned about your target market to refine your marketing strategies. You’ve clearly identified who your target market is, and how those people think and behave, so your next task is to determine what to say and how to reach them.

In Blog-a-Lesson #8, we’re going to look at your marketing message and how clearly you’re communicating with your audience. The strength of your marketing message is the backbone of your marketing materials, and a huge factor in the success of lead generation strategies.

To Your Success,

wEquipu-small-business

We help small businesses overcome fierce competition, modest budgets and solidifying their sales and marketing engine by improving lead generation, conversion rates, tranactions, higher prices and profits generation strategies.  

We help you develop breakthrough marketing strategies and put groundbreaking small business consulting ideas into action with our Silver Bullet System  – ultimately improving small businesses decisions and business results through proven methodologies.

 As John Maxwell certified coaches we have the management and team coaching expertise to tackle team challenges head on.  – wEquipu Team.

How to Manage Time to Make More Money

How to Manage Time to Make More Money

Blog-a-Lesson Checkpoint:

  • During your last Blog-a-Lesson your workspace is organized for productivity and minimizes distractions.
  • You have cleaned out and cleared out areas in your office or business where old stock or surplus office supplies are kept.
  • You have begun to organize your paper and electronic filing into systems, with the help of your staff.

Small business owners too often confuse being busy with being successful. They’re not the same thing!

In this Blog-a-Lesson we will cover:

  • How you should treat time like money
  • How to calculate what your time is worth
  • The five biggest culprits of time theft
  • Where your time goes in your existing schedule
  • Strategies to allow you to take control of your schedule

If time were money, how would you manage yours?

Time is far more precious than money. There are a finite number of days that you will spend on this earth, while money is something you can usually get more of.

If you are 35 years old with a life expectancy of 75… you have already spent 12,775 days on Earth and have 480 months left to fulfill your life destiny. If you plan to retire at the age of 50 you have 180 months to make enough money to retire (a million dollars doesn’t put a dent in retirement nowadays…) and in those months 1,440 days are weekends… so you have 3600 workdays to make it all happen. What are you waiting for… time to stop confusing being busy with being successful!

The fact is that many business owners – like yourself – actually manage their money as though it is more precious than their time. They started the business to choose their own hours, spend more time with their family, and be their own boss. But, somewhere along the way the only goals that mattered became the financial ones. Or, the only item worth measuring and managing was money.

Your time will never be managed for you – you have to make a decision to choose to spend your time wisely. To take ownership of your own schedule, and use the power you have to change what isn’t working. I’ll show you a bunch of tools to get you started, but first let’s take a look at what your time is worth first, to attach time to money.

Your time has a price tag, and sometimes it’s much lower than you think.

Here’s a really simple exercise to determine what your time is worth based on your annual income and the number of working hours in a year.

business-Time-management-money

It’s also unrealistic to assume that each of the 1,645 hours in a year is a productive one. Various studies have put actual productivity at anywhere between 25 minutes and four hours per day. That’s a lot of room for improvement!

Now, this calculation doesn’t factor in overtime hours, taxes, or expenses. If you work as a consultant for an hourly rate, it doesn’t factor in the cost for you to provide your services. The point is, this is your hourly worth in the best-case scenario.

When you start thinking about time management, the goal is to get more done in less time, and thus increase your hourly worth (among other benefits, of course!).

There are five major things that drain your time. But don’t worry, it’s really easy to fix the leaks.

Email
Your email is a consistent distraction. With the mail program running all the time, emails can distract you as they arrive. Or, you’ll find yourself checking for new messages every 15, 10 or five minutes. Writing, reading and responding to emails can easily monopolize your time, because they seem like an ever urgent and important task.

Cell Phone or PDA
Your blackberry and cell phone have likely given you increased freedom from your workplace, but they seem to have also taken away your freedom to choose when you work. You can work outside of the office, but this often means you also work evenings and weekends when spending time with your family and friends.

Open Door Policies
While you want to be open and accessible to your staff, sometimes you can make yourself too accessible. Open door policies have the potential to create a daily mass of employees lined up at your door seeking immediate answers for non-emergency issues.

Meetings
Unstructured, unnecessary, run-on meetings can gobble up hours for no reason at all. Especially as a business owner, your presence may be requested at a variety of meetings, but it’s not always required.Days spent in back to back meeting often mean that your workday starts at five instead of nine.

You
Since effective time management is a choice, everyone is guilty of letting themselves sabotage their ability to work productively and efficiently at all times. It’s easy for business owners to avoid separating business hours from leisure time and let the two run together. We all have distractions that we fall into from time to time.

Everything requires time. It is the only truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable, and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time. – Peter F. Drucker

Now you need to take some time to figure out where your time actually goes, so you can see what leaks need to be repaired.

You can use the worksheets provided HERE to assist you as you complete this personal time management research exercise.

You’re going to take a good long look at how you spend your time so you can paint a clear picture of your current situation. Once you understand your own personal habits and patterns, you can start making changes that will have the greatest impact on your own schedule. You’ll learn how to be a better time manager.

1. Complete a Time Audit for three working days in a row.

Use the Time Log Worksheet, and record how you spend your time in detail for three working days (it is a bugger… we know so do not try get it perfect as that will just stop it from happening… but just do it. And remember ‘the more you defend your excuses… they more they own you!’).

Be honest with yourself, and be as specific as possible. If you notice something about what you’re doing, or which distractions have the greatest negative impact, log these notes as well. The more information you can record, the better.

2. Take a look at your time records, and categorize the different ways you spend your time.

Use different colored markers or highlighters to shade the blocks of time you spent on various activities. You can create your own categories, or use the ones below:

  • Travel
  • Eating, including preparation
  • Personal Errands
  • Exercise
  • Watching TV
  • Sleeping, including naps
  • Personal computer use
  • Being with family / friends
  • Internal meetings
  • Emailing (checking, reading, returning messages)
  • External meetings
  • Telephone, (checking and returning messages)
  • Administrative work
  • Client work
  • Non-client, non-administrative work

3. Based on the categories you created, go through each of your days and decide if you have spent enough, too much, or too little time on each main task.

Based on your observations, answer the following questions:

  1. What patterns do you notice about how you spend your time during the day? When are you most productive? Least productive? Most or least interrupted?
  2. Write down the four highest priorities in your life right now. Does your timesheet reflect these priorities? (Show me your schedule and I will show you your priorities!)
  3. If you have more time, what would you do?
  4. If you had less time, what wouldn’t you do?
  5. Could you remove the items in question four and add the items in question three? Why or why not?
  6. Is procrastination a problem for you? How much?

Here are a series of effective strategies for improving your time management skills, and for doing more in less time.

The strategies described below will help you take charge of your schedule and use your time in a more effective manner. Grab your pad of paper and start by choosing five or six strategies to try, take some notes as you read through and decide which you will try first.

Remember this is an individual process – everyone works differently – so if you have to try a few different things to get some meaningful results, that’s okay/normal!

time-management

Effective time management is just a formal way of saying that you make good choices about how you spend your valuable time.

It really just boils down to making choices, and setting up a structure that enables you to succeed. You have to try a few different strategies and structures to see what works best for you.

Remember that time management is a personal investigation that will look different for everyone. Some people can work in the middle of a loud, crowded room, and others need absolute silence to function at a high level. Respect your own needs.

We’re going to dive into Step One in the next Blog-a-Lesson and spend some time investigating what your qualified leads look like, and how you can go about getting more of them into your business.

To Your Success,

wEquipu-small-business

We help small businesses overcome fierce competition, modest budgets and solidifying their sales and marketing engine by improving lead generation, conversion rates, tranactions, higher prices and profits generation strategies.  

We help you develop breakthrough marketing strategies and put groundbreaking small business consulting ideas into action with our Silver Bullet System  – ultimately improving small businesses decisions and business results through proven methodologies.

 As John Maxwell certified coaches we have the management and team coaching expertise to tackle team challenges head on.  – wEquipu Team.

How to Optimize Your Office for Success

How to Optimize Your Office for Success

E-Blog-a-Lesson Checkpoint:

  • During the last Blog-a-Lesson you have written down at least 18 SMART goals for yourself – nine personal goals, and nine business goals.
  • You’ve posted your goals in a visible location for yourself and your staff.

When you organize your work environment, you optimize your surroundings for productivity and increase your ability to work effectively.

The steps in this Blog-a-Lesson #5 will help you streamline your office, get rid of clutter and maximize your workspace for productivity. Chances are, the actions you take today to organize will also save you considerable amounts of money.

A disorganized office costs more to run. Supplies, tools and equipment go missing because nothing is organized or put away properly. Those things have to be replaced to get the job done, and twice as much money has been spent in the end. Plus, you spend valuable time searching for missing items, files or paperwork.

In fact, some studies have revealed that the average senior business leader spends nearly four weeks each year navigating through messy or cluttered desks, looking for lost information. Does that sound like productive time to you?

In this Blog-a-Lesson we will cover:

  • The psychological impacts of a clean and organized workspace
  • The financial benefits of an organized workspace
  • How to audit your work environment
  • How to implement small changes in your office that will increase productivity
  • Making sure that your office is equipped with productivity tools

If I haven’t convinced you yet, read these benefits of taking the time to create an organized and well-structured office.

  • Better communication. An organized office environment encourages better internal communication. With a central area for staff communication, it is easier to share sales news, track targets, and plan and monitor projects.
  • A manageable budget. Organized spaces will allow you to quickly see what you have, what you need, and when you might need more. This supports the creation and sustaining of budgets, especially for supplies and equipment.
  • Increased work ethic and morale. When you and your staff take care of your surroundings, it makes the workplace a more pleasant place. Taking care shows that you value your work and the people who work for you.
  • Better time management. Simply put, you spend less time looking for things and more time actually working. An organized office will complement and support your time management strategies.

So, get started by walking through this step-by-step workplace audit, and making necessary improvements as you go.

Complete the following steps by literally walking around your office with a notepad and making observations. This is intended to be a positive exercise, so try not to get overwhelmed. Small changes are the best changes to start with.

If your office is already pretty organized, complete the audit anyway and identify any opportunities that exist to improve you and your team’s work environment.

Start with your own office.

Since this is where you’re likely to need to be the most productive, it make sense to start making some changes here. Make some observations about your office as it is now, using the following questions.

  • What can be found on your desk?
  • Where are your current files located?
  • Where are your old or inactive files?
  • How many personal items are visible?
  • What is on the walls?
  • Where are your office supplies?
  • How much paper is on your desk?
  • How many files, binders or books are on your desk?
  • Where is your in tray and out tray located, and how much is piled in them?

Based on your notes and the suggestions and guidelines below, identify opportunities for improvement. Would your office benefit from a better layout? A better filing system? A smaller desktop monitor? A paper shredder?

Clear your desk of everything but your computer, your daytimer, your current files, your inbox and your telephone. Depending on the size of your desk, you may wish to put your current files or inbox on top of a filing cabinet within arm’s reach to maximize desk space. Anything you don’t need on a regular basis should be stored out of arm’s reach.

Choose one central system for managing your notes, tasks, to-do lists, brainstorming and scheduling. If you have a daytimer, use it. If you prefer electronic systems, use those. Having too many binders and notepads and calendars gets confusing.

Make a habit of tidying your desk at the beginning and end of each day. Keep loose papers pinned to your to-do list, or have clear and organized folders. Use drawer organizers to keep your stationery drawer clean and easily accessible.

Organize your loose paper, inbox and action items in a file sorter or stack of paper trays. Use categories like to-do, to review, waiting response, on-hold and to file.

Put your phone on the left if you’re right-handed, and on the right if you’re left-handed, so you have the appropriate hand free to take notes when you’re on a call. Keep a notepad or post-its by the phone to record messages and conversation notes.

Personal items can be distracting when they’re in your primary line of vision, and encourage daydreaming. Photos and memorabilia have a place in your office, but relocate any items that are in direct sight.

Move on to the common areas of your business.

This is a list of the areas that you may find in your business. If your business has other areas, add them to the list. Most businesses will have the top five areas listed.

  • Office supplies storage*
  • Team communication center*
  • Point of sale or reception area*
  • Printing and photocopying*
  • Staff room or kitchen*
  • Employee and management offices
  • Equipment storage
  • Product stock storage
  • Hallways
  • Shipping and receiving area
  • Financial paperwork and accounting

Move through each of the areas and answer the following questions, as applicable.

  • What is the distance between your office and areas you frequently use, like the printer or photocopier?
  • How much loose paper is found around the business?
  • What is hung up on the walls?
  • Where is the central communication point?
  • How is the team communication center organized? Is it up to date?
  • How much old stock are you storing?
  • How are your office supplies organized?
  • Are boxes and shelves labeled?
  • Do your staff members have organization systems for their own desks?
  • How many files are used on a daily or weekly basis?
  • Where are old or outdated files kept?

Again, based on your notes and the suggestions and guidelines below, identify opportunities for improvement.

Put doors on shelving so cluttered spaces are not visible. Label boxes, containers and shelves so everyone knows what goes where.

Create a consistent filing system. Provide enough shelving and filing cabinets to store files in a systemized fashion. Ensure your system keeps files out of the way and out of sight when not in use, but maintains easy accessibility.

Return or sell unused stock and overflow office supplies, like stationery. Locate other unused items that you can potentially sell or donate to create more space. Consider renting out unused portions of your office to independent consultants or small businesses.

Ensure each staff member has access to the organizational materials they need to keep their offices neat. Provide stacking trays or file sorters, and suggest systems that may help them. Remember that you can’t control their work environment, but you can provide the support they need to stay organized.

Minimize the distance between your office and the areas you frequently use (like the printer or photocopier). Locate your office so you have a clear line of sight between you and the most productive area of your business.

Finally, make sure your business has the tools you need to run an effective, cohesive operation.

  • A team communication center for all team members to review on a daily basis for important information about sales achievements, targets and company news.
  • A whiteboard in the team communication center or the boardroom to use for brainstorming, diagramming, project planning, marketing planning or any other strategic use. This is an excellent tool for both internal and external meetings.
  • A sales board in your team communication center (a private location from clients) that is customized to your business. Use thin black tape to create columns and rows to chart sales on a weekly or monthly basis, or to compare based on weekly, quarterly or yearly targets.
  • A 12-month marketing planner to keep your eyes focused on the big picture. This is where you schedule campaigns and plan promotions. Use dry-erase marker so you can make changes easily, and use color-coding for easy visibility.

organizing-your-work-space

At the end of your audit, you’ll likely end up with a lot of paper you don’t know what to do with, but can’t throw away. Use these effective strategies for managing paper, filing and other information commonly used by everyone in your organization.

Once you make some initial improvements and set up systems to manage your data and organize your supplies, the hard part is over.

A clean and organized office is easy to sustain once it is in place.

Remember to be patient with yourself. Depending on the state of your work environment, this may be a project that takes a little while. Take your time, and follow the steps in this Blog-a-Lesson, and you’ll get the job done.

Later this week we’re going to hone in on time management skills with Blog-a-Lesson #6. Looking forward to it!

To Your Success,

wEquipu-small-business

We help small businesses overcome fierce competition, modest budgets and solidifying their sales and marketing engine by improving lead generation, conversion rates, tranactions, higher prices and profits generation strategies.  

We help you develop breakthrough marketing strategies and put groundbreaking small business consulting ideas into action with our Silver Bullet System  – ultimately improving small businesses decisions and business results through proven methodologies.

 As John Maxwell certified coaches we have the management and team coaching expertise to tackle team challenges head on.  – wEquipu Team.

How to Create, Manage and Achieve Your Goals (worksheets download)

How to Create, Manage and Achieve Your Goals (worksheets download)

Blog-a-Lesson Checkpoint:

  • By now you understand the importance of committing goals to paper.
  • You have identified the areas of your business where you need to set goals.
  • You practice using autosuggestion and visualization regularly – or at least before important meetings, presentations and sales calls.

There’s no point in setting goals unless they’re SMART because SMART goals have the highest probability of being achieved.

In this session, you’re going to take some time to set a series of personal and business goals that will act as milestones as you work towards achieving your business vision.

Many people set goals, but not everyone reaches their goals. Too often, goals are too vague, or too broad. “I’m going to be a millionaire,” “I’m going to be the best parent ever,” or “My business is going to make much more money this year.” They’re big, bold abstract statements that are great for dreaming and visioning, but don’t stand a chance of being achieved in a meaningful or tangible way.

Today, you’re going to work through a step-by-step process for setting goals that you WILL achieve. How? You’re going to learn how to set SMART goals, and get some tools to help you stay on track.

In this Blog-a-Lesson we will cover:

  • The SMART goal setting principle
  • Examples of SMART goals
  • When to review and revise goals
  • A step-by-step goal setting process

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Bound goals.

SPECIFIC goals that describe details and articulate aims are easier to achieve than vague or broad statements.

Ambiguous or incomplete goals will only assist you in achieving ambiguous or incomplete results. Your goals need to be as detailed as possible so that you will achieve the specific results you are looking for.

A specific goal can be easily understood by anyone who reads it; your intention and desired results are clearly detailed and described, and the actions you will take to achieve it have been planned.

specific goal

MEASURABLE goals are the only kind of goals that you can actually achieve.

Your goals need to be measurable so you can assess your progress, manage your progress, and know when you have achieved your desired outcome. You can use standard measurements like time, numbers, money and distance.

When goals are measurable, they can be broken down and easily managed in smaller pieces. You can create an action plan and plot the steps towards achieving the goal. You can track your progress and revise your action plan if you need to.

measurable-goal

REALISTIC – or relevant – goals make sense and can be integrated into your life and overall business strategy

This is the part where you look at the reasoning behind your goal. It’s great to set goals in all areas of your life, but for the most part your goals will collectively achieve a common vision. The goal’s action plan can be reasonably integrated into your life, with a realistic amount of effort.

Goals that are not realistic or relevant don’t appear to have a logical place in your life or overall business strategy, and can serve to derail you. You want to make sure that all of your efforts are working in a single, focused direction or you may run the risk of going in too many directions, spinning your wheels and never achieving your vision.

realistic-goals

TIME-BOUND goals give you a frame of reference and keep you motivated.

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. – Tony Robbins

Just like any task without a deadline is easy to push off your desk or down your to-do list, a goal without a timeframe will never be achieved. Goals that are not attached to a timeframe are merely dreams or lose intentions.

You need to make sure that the timeframe you set for your goal is realistic and achievable – not too short or too long – and reflects any elements or factors beyond your control that may influence the timing of the outcome. This will keep you motivated and focused, and allow you to check in on and track your progress.

time-bound-goals

The SMART Goal Test

Once you’ve come up with some goals for your personal and professional life, work through our test to see if they are SMART goals.

When you’re creating your goal statements, put them through the following test:

smart-goals

Here are some examples of SMART goals compared to other goals.

smart-business-goals

You need to review and revise your goals on a regular basis so they have room to grown and change with you.

Goals, like everything in business, have the potential to grow, change and evolve based on circumstances beyond our control. Depending on the length of the goal – daily, weekly, monthly or yearly – you’ll want to set up a schedule for reviewing and potentially revising your goals.

Build this review period into your goal setting process – schedule times to review your goals and take stock of your progress. Here’s a guideline:

timeframe-of-business-goal

Now it’s time to work through the goal setting process and create at least 18 SMART goals of your own.

Using the four worksheet packages available here, work through the following steps to create 18 SMART personal and business goals.

TIP: This is a great exercise to have your employees and management work through.

1. Establish Your Personal Values Worksheet
Since you’ve already worked through a business visioning process, these worksheets will help you to work through a personal visioning process. In the last two worksheets, you can combine the two visions and set your goals in one place.

2. Take a Personal Inventory Worksheet
Using the information you discovered in the Personal Values worksheets, use the Personal Inventory questionnaire to think big about your future and your success. What are you dreams for yourself and for your business?

3. Set SMART Goals
Using the SMART principle described in this session, plus the personal and business visions that you have created, write down three personal and three business goals for each of the following time frames: 6 months, 12 months, 5 years. Remember that these goals should support your personal or your business vision.

4. Create an Action Plan for Each Goal
Now, for each of the 18 goals, create an action plan. This will include steps to take, potential obstacles to overcome, milestones to note, and other information that will help you as you work to achieve the goal.

5. Display Your Goals
Put your goals in a visible place where you can see and be reminded of them on a regular basis. You may wish to place business goals in your place of work, and personal goals on your desk or at your computer.

You’ve now completed the only envisioning and goal-setting process you will ever need to be successful. Congratulations!

I hope you’re getting really excited about the future potential of your business, and the power you have in you to achieve the vision and goals you have set in the last four sessions.

We’re going to spend two Blog-a-Lessons laying the groundwork for your success, and then dive into the marketing strategies that are really going to transform your vision into reality.

To Your Success,

wEquipu-small-business

We help small businesses overcome fierce competition, modest budgets and solidifying their sales and marketing engine by improving lead generation, conversion rates, tranactions, higher prices and profits generation strategies.  

We help you develop breakthrough marketing strategies and put groundbreaking small business consulting ideas into action with our Silver Bullet System  – ultimately improving small businesses decisions and business results through proven methodologies.

 As John Maxwell certified coaches we have the management and team coaching expertise to tackle team challenges head on.  – wEquipu Team.

How to Make Goal Setting a Part of Your Business

How to Make Goal Setting a Part of Your Business

It’s time to put together your road map for the New Year. You need to set some goals that support the vision you created.

By now you’ve created a really clear vision of where you’re going to take your business, and what it’s going to look like when you get there. You’ve also learned a proven, step-by-step formula for making that vision a reality. You’re getting close to the end of the preparation stage, and closer to diving into Step One: Lead Generation.

But first, you have to map out the route that you’re going to take to achieve your vision, and establish which landmarks will tell you that you’re going the right way. You’ve got to set some goals.

In this Blog-a-Lesson we will cover:

  • What are goals and why set them?
  • How is a goal different from a vision?
  • Areas of your business that need goals
  • What happens when I achieve a goal?
  • The impact of positive thinking
  • Autosuggestion techniques and exercise
  • Visualization techniques and exercise

Goals are specific, attainable targets that bring you to your vision. They’re the milestones (or landmarks) you need to reach along the way.

Goals focus your efforts and intentions, and direct your motivation in a productive direction. Goals outline a plan of action, while dreams are conceptual visions.

Your goals are the milestones you will reach along the way to achieving your vision. They break down the process into smaller pieces; the little successes en route to the big success story.

Goals are different from your vision.

It can be easy at first to confuse a business vision with a goal. They are both projections of an ideal future situation that you have created based on your dreams.

setting goals for your business

Studies have shown that only three to five percent of people in the world have written goals – the same three to five percent who have achieved success in business and earn considerable wealth.

Setting strong goals and committing them to paper is the most effective way to achieve success. Goals will focus your time, energy and the outcomes that are the highest priority at a time. When you prioritize and concentrate your efforts, you avoid being stretched too thin, and produce greater results.

There are many areas in your business that you need to think about when setting goals or targets. Let’s create your unique list.

You have many areas of your business, and each need to do their part to contribute to the overall vision you have for the company. Set your goals systematically. There are many areas of your business that you can set targets and goals for. This helps to break down the process into smaller, achievable chunks.

Here are the areas of your business that you’ll need to think about when setting goals:

Lead-generation-transactions-profits-business-conversion-rates

What happens when you achieve your goals? What comes next?

You should reward yourself and your team each time a target is reached. This will not only train your mind to associate hard work with reward, but will develop loyalty and morale among your employees.

Once you’ve reached a target, ask yourself where the next rung of the ladder is. Can you improve upon the target you just reached? Can you stretch yourself and your team, or challenge yourself more? Get into the habit of setting a new, higher goal each time you achieve an existing goal. This will lay a solid foundation for consistent personal and professional growth and improvement.

Before you set goals, you need to reframe your thinking so you can support yourself and your efforts.

We’ve talked a bit about the power of intention, and how a strong belief in yourself and your ability to be successful is the keystone to achieving great things. This part of a greater concept, called positive self-talk, and it has a powerful impact on your reality.

Positive thinking and self-talk is an important technique to practice and cultivate. When you program a positive stream of subconscious thoughts into your mind, you can control your reality, and ultimately the outcome of your goals.

When you set out to practice positive self-talk techniques like autosuggestion and visualization, you may find that you have a stream of negative thoughts that continually run through your mind. This is okay – you work is to correct each negative statement that flows through your mind.

For example, each time you say to yourself, “I’ll never be able to finish this…” or “I’m a terrible public speaker…” take a moment to stop and correct the thought. Instead, say “I will do the best I can to finish this project,” or “I will get myself some training and become a better public speaker.”

Positive self-talk means getting rid of the negative thoughts that run through your mind on a regular basis – some that you may not even hear!

  • That’s impossible.
  • Don’t even bother.
  • It’s already been done.
  • We tried that, and it didn’t work.
  • You’re too young.
  • You’re too old.
  • You’ll never get there.
  • You’ll never get that done.
  • You can’t do that.

Autosuggestion is a kind of positive self-talk that will improve your performance in all areas of your life and give you a better shot at achieving the goals you set.

Autosuggestion is the technique that harnesses the power of your internal dialogue – your constant stream of thoughts and judgments and beliefs – and uses it for positive, affirmations. Often, this involves changing negative beliefs and perceptions that we learned from our parents, friends, partners and experiences.

You can practice autosuggestion anywhere, and at any time. It is especially helpful to spend 10 to 15 minutes practicing autosuggestion before a stressful situation, like a meeting or sports game. All you need to do is sit quietly, breathe deeply, and allow yourself to be open to the thoughts and ideas you are about to tell yourself. Then repeat positive statements about yourself and the future outcome of a goal or intention or event.

Some examples of positive autosuggestions include:

  • I will close the sales presentation and secure this client!
  • I am a capable and positive person!
  • I deserve the success that I have achieved!
  • I am doing the best I can!
  • I will assert my needs in my relationship!
  • I will have all the information I need to ace my exam!

Here are some helpful tips for your autosuggestion process.

  • Believe in and feel what you are telling yourself. Linking suggestions to emotion increases their potency.
  • Talk to yourself like you would a close friend. Use a calm, considerate and gentle tone of voice. Remember that you are working to develop a good relationship with yourself.
  • Phrase your suggestions positively, and avoid negatives like “not”, “less”, “won’t”, “don’t” and “can’t.”
  • Use the progressive form of the present tense to reflect acceptance of being “in progress.” For example, say “I am becoming..” instead of “I am.” Your mind may have an easier time accepting the statement.
  • Repetition is key. Each time you repeat a suggestion, try to find a way to make it a stronger, more powerful and meaningful statement.

Visualization complements autosuggestion and harnesses the power of your mind’s eye to realize your goals.

Visualization is another mind tool that successful people use to program their brains for success. It’s simply visualizing in your mind how something is going to happen or play out on a repeated basis. Visualization is commonly used in sports training, and has been proven to improve performance better than just practice alone.

The technique can be used by anyone, however, and will generate the same results on performance and outcome. When we visualize an event or situation, or an object or possession, we attract it into our life.

Teach yourself this step-by-step visualization exercise.

Visualization should be done with a relaxed and positive attitude, as well as with an openness and willingness to accept whatever outcome may present itself.

  1. Sit comfortably in a quiet space – your office, home, or in nature.
  2. Pick a goal or intention to focus on.
  3. Relax your entire body, and take several long deep breaths.
  4. Tune into your inner voice, and connect to the feeling that you truly believe this goal or intention.
  5. Begin to visualize the achievement of that goal, or realization of your intention.
  6. Create a clear and detailed mental picture, using all five senses.
  7. Allow yourself to feel how you believe you will feel when you have achieved your goal, and how much you desire to reach that goal.
  8. Finish with a positive affirmation about the outcome of your goal or intention.
  9. Repeat this process at least once per day, for about 10 minutes.

Powerful positive people have the strength to create powerful positive change in their lives and the lives of those around them.

You are a powerful, positive person! Successful people have no secrets – they’re just determined, focused people who have set goals and programmed their brain to think positive, and think big.

Spend the next few days working on your autosuggestion and visualization skills. You might feel a little silly at first, but I promise that these are powerful psychological tools that will retrain your brain for success.

To Your Success,

wEquipu-small-business

We help small businesses overcome fierce competition, modest budgets and solidifying their sales and marketing engine by improving lead generation, conversion rates, tranactions, higher prices and profits generation strategies.  

We help you develop breakthrough marketing strategies and put groundbreaking small business consulting ideas into action with our Silver Bullet System  – ultimately improving small businesses decisions and business results through proven methodologies.

 As John Maxwell certified coaches we have the management and team coaching expertise to tackle team challenges head on.  – wEquipu Team.

How to Create a Vision for Your Business

How to Create a Vision for Your Business

The first few sessions in this blog will take you through a step-by-step process of establishing a strong foundation – or preparation – for the five-step process that follows. You need to prepare yourself, your business and your staff for the changes you are about to create and the success you are about to make yours.

You will notice that every major company in the world has a vision or mission statement – a broad, futuristic idea of what the company will achieve and look like in the future. The five-step process can help you achieve there, but you need to know where “there” is first.

I know you must be eager to jump into marketing strategies and get more people flowing through the door, or more sales ringing through the till. Be patient – this is important work that will build and contribute to your amazing success. Trust me!

In this Session we will cover:

  • What a business vision is and why it is important
  • Why your employees need a vision to follow
  • Examples of powerful vision statements
  • Your unique strengths and weaknesses
  • How to write your vision statement
  • What you need to achieve your vision

So, let’s take a look at what a vision statement is, and why it’s important for you to create one for your business.

A vision statement is a broad, inspiring image of the future state a business aspires to reach. It describes without specifying how aspirations will be achieved, or when. It is ambitious, and forward-thinking. It’s not about where the organization is now, it’s about what the organization will be, or aspires to be.

A vision statement needs to:

  • describe aspirations and intent
  • be inspirational for your staff and customers
  • project a compelling story
  • paint a clear picture
  • use engaging and descriptive language
  • be realistic
  • align with your company’s values

The vision statement will also provide a clear criteria or measuring stick for decision-making. When making tough choices, ask “Does this support the vision statement?” If major initiatives do not support the overall business vision, chances are they aren’t worth the investment of time and money.

If your business doesn’t have a vision statement, it needs one. If it does, then this is a good opportunity to strengthen it or make sure it is aligned with the current dream you have for yourself and your company.

We’re going to work through a step-by-step process in this post that will help you hone in on what your vision is, and then put it into words.

You should note that a corporate vision statement – once created, agreed to and perfected – should remain consistent and unchanged for several years. When a vision statement is changed and revised, it is difficult to create a consistent plan that supports the achievement of the vision. In this case, now is a good time to revise your vision – right before embarking on a comprehensive marketing strategy.

But first, don’t forget that your employees, joint ventures (companies you align yourself with – the most powerful marketing initiative on the planet is a Joint Venture) and your customers need to believe in the company’s vision too.

Your employees need a strong, clear vision statement just as much as you do. When creating a vision statement, keep this in mind. The vision will need to be something that your employees can embrace and stand behind. A powerful vision statement that your employees can get excited about will motivate, inspire and build morale on the sales floor and in the office.

Think about how you will communicate your vision to your employees once you have created it. How can you inspire them to nurture and support your vision on a daily basis, in everything they do? How can you empower and motivate them to feel ownership of the company’s future and their stake in it?

Take a look at these corporate vision statements so you can get a better understanding of what we’re talking about.

Amazon.com
Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

Dell
Dell listens to customers and delivers innovative technology and services they trust and value.

eBay
eBay pioneers communities built on commerce, sustained by trust, and inspired by opportunity. eBay brings together millions of people every day on a local, national and international basis through an array of websites that focus on commerce, payments and communications.

Facebook
Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. The company develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information through the social graph, the digital mapping of people’s real-world social connections. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment.

Google
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Other Vision Statement Examples:

  • To develop a reliable wireless network that empowers people with the freedom to travel anywhere – across the hall or across the continent – and communicate effortlessly.
  • To be America’s best quick-service restaurant chain we will provide each guest great tasting, healthful, reasonably priced fish, seafood and chicken in a fast, friendly manner on every visit.
  • To provide high quality products that combine performance with value pricing, while establishing a successful relationship with our customers and our suppliers.
  • To be a profitable provider of high quality software solutions and services that provide strategic value to our customers and create a company that can attract, recruit and retain smart and talented employees.

See what I mean? Let’s start creating your unique vision statement.

1. Start by looking at your strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of everyone who does business with you.

You’ll start with a bit of analysis on where you stand now. Use the chart as a guide, create your own on a pad of paper (ideally use this same pad for the entire time you are doing the E-Learning process) and fill in your company’s unique strengths and weaknesses. Think about strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of customers, staff, management, vendors or suppliers and owners.

For example, what would your customers say about your customer service standards? Would this area be considered a strength or a weakness? What would your staff say about training and professional development opportunities? What do you think about your income and overall financial growth?

strengths-and-weaknesses-in-your-business

2. Analyze your observations, and remember that your weaknesses represent great opportunities for change and improvement, while your strengths need to be nurtured and developed.

Take a look at what you have written, using the chart above as your guide, and answer the following questions on your pad of paper:

What does the overall picture look like?

How does the overall picture align with the dream you have for your business?

What great achievements and qualities exist in the strengths section? (List 10)

What opportunities exist in the weaknesses section? (List 10)

3. Now that you’ve assessed where your business stands today, where do you want it to be? What opportunities exist?

Here you will take the strengths and opportunities you identified in step one, the analysis you completed in step two, and start describing them in words. Use the chart below as your guide, write three sentences that describe the future state of your business. I’ve included some samples to get you started.

your-vision-statement

3. What opportunities and aspirations are the highest priorities for you and your business?

Take the sentences you created above, and list them in order of importance to you. You may have to do this several times before you feel the order is accurate. Then, combine duplicate sentences, or ones that describe similar things.

Once you’ve finished your list, take the top three to five sentences and combine them into a cohesive paragraph.

4. Refine your statements so that they are broad, future-oriented and use words that reflect your values, priorities and dreams.

You need to refine your statement so it is smooth, clear and easy to understand. Here is a checklist to use when reviewing the words you have written:

  • is it inspirational for your staff and customers?
  • does it project a compelling image?
  • does it paint a clear picture?
  • have you used engaging and descriptive language?
  • is it realistic?
  • does it align with your company’s values?

TIP: You can use phrases like:

A leader in…
Support the development of…
Offer opportunities to…
Continually create…
Build on…
Inspire…
Develop…
Facilitate…
Achieve…
Deliver…
Bring together…

5. Include your employees in the vision creation process, and ask them for feedback.

Do they understand the vision? Do they support it? Does it inspire them? Can they find meaning in their work based on it? Incorporate their feedback, where possible and relevant.

6. Put your vision statement somewhere everyone can see it – your staff, management, customers and vendors.

Once you have created your vision statement, share it with the world. Your vision is something you have committed to, and can let everyone know where your company is heading. It allows them to see where you want to go, and gives them the opportunity to help you get there.

Now, do you have everything you need to start working towards your vision?

In the next few sessions, you’re going to work through a comprehensive goal-setting process that will act as the road map for achieving your vision. You’ll also review, in depth, the five-step process, which is the strategy that you will use to achieve your goals, and in turn, the vision you have created.

To Your Success,

wEquipu-small-business

We help small businesses overcome fierce competition, modest budgets and solidifying their sales and marketing engine by improving lead generation, conversion rates, tranactions, higher prices and profits generation strategies.  

We help you develop breakthrough marketing strategies and put groundbreaking small business consulting ideas into action with our Silver Bullet System  – ultimately improving small businesses decisions and business results through proven methodologies.

 As John Maxwell certified coaches we have the management and team coaching expertise to tackle team challenges head on.  – wEquipu Team.

Do You Know Who Your Ideal Client Is?

Do You Know Who Your Ideal Client Is?

Do you know your ideal client, even when you see them? Your ideal client is much different from your typical client. How?

Your typical client NEEDS what you sell, and your ideal client WANTS what you sell. That difference is huge. Prospects may or may not buy what they need, but they always buy what they want. If you know how to find your ideal client, you can literally dominate your market.

What you need to know…

Prospects buy based on emotions, and wants are emotion-based. Needs are logic-based. When your product or service matches what your prospects specifically want, you will immediately begin to attract your ideal client.

Why you need to know this…

Your ideal client makes you the most money. In fact, for most business owners… 80% of your entire revenue is generated by only 20% of your clients. Those are your ideal clients. They love you and what you provide to them. They buy from you and you alone. They’re loyal and will never leave you. They sing your praises from the highest mountaintop. They send you tons of referrals and they give you unsolicited testimonials.

The cost to you if you fail to act…

Think about this for a moment. A mere 20% of your current clients are producing 80% of your total business revenue. What if you could replace that remaining 80% of unproductive clients with more of your 20% clients? Do you realize your income would explode by 16 times?

If your revenues right now total $50,000 annually, you have the potential to increase your revenue by an additional $750,000. No kidding!

  • What could you accomplish with that much additional revenue?
  • What would that revenue mean to you personally? To your business?
  • And especially to your family?
  • Can you afford to continue to watch this much additional revenue fall into the pocket of your competition?

It’s up to every small business owner to take the initiative to develop these critical skills. Once they do, they often find themselves dominating their market.

To Your Success,

wEquipu-small-business

We help small businesses overcome fierce competition, modest budgets and solidifying their sales and marketing engine by improving lead generation, conversion rates, tranactions, higher prices and profits generation strategies.  

We help you develop breakthrough marketing strategies and put groundbreaking small business consulting ideas into action with our Silver Bullet System  – ultimately improving small businesses decisions and business results through proven methodologies.

 As John Maxwell certified coaches we have the management and team coaching expertise to tackle team challenges head on.  – wEquipu Team.