Information Overload: 5 Ways to Cut Through the Clutter

Two or three years ago you could create a marketing campaign, send out a series of e-mails and expect a reasonable response rate. Things have changed. We’ve hit information overload and we just don’t have time to read and respond to everything we’d like.

Information overload has become a chronic problem, so if you want to reach your target you must cut through the clutter. Something has to really grab me and be super easy or I’ll just delete it. And that seems to be true for many people I speak with. So how do you move beyond information overload to reach those who will want to respond to your outreach?

Here are some strategies to consider.:

Create a Compelling Message

What are the most urgent issues your ideal customer is facing? You can ask when someone signs up for your mailing list, downloads an online item or purchases something from you. Don’t just get their name and e-mail address, send an autoresponder asking them to send you a reply. Keep it simple and as easy as possible.

Ask people you meet at networking and events what are their urgent issues. Create products and services that address the most common ones. Then create your message using keywords that have surfaced during your research.

Make It Super Easy

The other day I wanted to sign up for an event and when I looked for the time and how to sign up I couldn’t find it right away. Within 20 seconds I was gone. I just wouldn’t take the time to wade through the content to find it…and neither will your prospects.

I offer the One Page Marketing Plan, which makes it super easy to create your marketing plan. It’s a step by step do-it-yourself system with everything you need to not only create your plan, but use it as well. Simple, step by step is what you want.

Offer to Do It For Them

But some people would rather have me do it for them. Obviously I will need information from them, but once I have that I can apply my own techniques to create their plan. It costs more, of course, but for those who want a strategic plan to follow, my consulting services are perfect for them.

People want results, but they often don’t want to or don’t have time to do the work to get them. If you can do it for them or at least partially do it for them, you’ve got a strong selling point.

Make More Direct Connections

I have found that I’m much more successful when I reach out directly, one-to-one to people who are in my network. These are people who have purchased something from me in the past, have participated in an event I hosted, or are a prospect I’ve had a meaningful dialogue with.

The telephone is still a wonderful business tool. What I’ve learned works best when you’re reaching out to someone you haven’t communicated with recently is to make a phone call telling the person you’re sending them an e-mail. On the call or in the voicemail tell them what it’s about briefly, making it as compelling as possible so they will read the e-mail. Otherwise it may just get deleted without being opened.

Leverage Social Media

Business is still built on relationships. It’s just that the way in which those relationships are managed has morphed somewhat with the advent of information overload. The social media offers great tools, but be careful, because they can add to the sense of overload. Be selective and consistent and people will begin to know, like and trust you. I’m much more likely to respond to something from someone I know rather than someone I don’t know.

Newsletters are still a viable option for staying in touch, but the open rate has dropped. So I need to apply the other options as well.

Apply as many of these strategies as you can and you’ll be ahead of your competition.

7 Questions to Ask If Your Business Is Struggling

Struggle
Are you one of the many small businesses whose market has dried up? Some industries that I’ve seen hit particularly hard are financial advisors, consultants, graphic designers, event planners, photographers, catering companies, esoteric retailers and many others that depend on discretionary expenditures. For some entrepreneurs it may mean cutting both their business and personal expenditures to the bare bone.

Continuing to pursue a declining or oversaturated market is only going to put you closer to the edge. When there are a lot more suppliers than there are customers something has to give. It’s time for some strategic decisions and action.

Many are taking creative, and sometimes drastic, actions to stay alive. They have recognized it’s time to save their business. [Read more…]

Five Questions to Help Create an Effective Marketing Plan

Questi0ns can be a wonderful tool. In planning, the key to success is knowing the right questi0ns to ask. That certainly applies when it comes to creating a Marketing Plan.

Answering the following questi0ns will provide you with information needed to create the framework for an effective plan.

What is your value message?

This is the first and most important questi0n you can answer. Until you know what value you wish to communicate about your product or service, attracting customers will be unfocused and difficult.

Consider how you’re different from your competitors. Your message must clearly state [Read more…]

Common Business Challenges: You’re Not Alone

If you’re in business, you’ve got challenges. Some are priority; some can be deferred. Some will take time; others can be handled quickly and easily. Some will require a financial investment; some will not. They are all challenges because they are holding you back in some way.

Rather than see a challenge as a negative, I find it’s helpful to think of it as an opp0rtunity. It usually means choices must be made, and that’s where it can get sticky. Sometimes we feel stuck because we’re unsure about the right course of action. When the problem continues, we feel the stress and so does the business.

Some of the types of challenges I frequently hear about from small business owners are:
– sales – how to get more
– time/organization – not enough time, chaos mode, overwhelm
– cash flow – unpredictable and uneven income and expense
– staffing – conflicts, poor delegation and job matches
– technology – not adequately supporting operations

Anything sound familiar? [Read more…]

Visibility & Credibility: What Works Now

You know there is a market for what you offer. One of your primary challenges is to increase the number of qualified prospects to whom your product or service is visible.

There have always been ways to get visibility and credibility. When the circus came to town at the beginning of the last century it paraded down Main Street to gain visibility. It worked. Today there are a lot more sophisticated ways to gain visibility. And they are evolving at a fairly rapid pace. Blogs have come on the scene and are growing in popularity for visibility and credibility. I haven’t actually used one yet myself, but am seriously considering it.

If increasing visibility and credibility is part of your overall strategy, let’s take a systematic look at how we might approach planning for it. Determining who you are trying to reach and where you will reach them is a good place to start.

Who are you trying to reach?

[Read more…]

8 Steps to Set Your Business on Fire

All too often I hear comments like “I’m tired of putting out business fires on a regular basis. There must be a better way.”

Well, of course, there is, and we want to convert the energy that’s being spent on putting out fires to a more constructive use. Let’s talk about setting your business on fire – on purpose – by being smart. Set those fires yourself and plan in advance how you will leverage the energy that’s released.

If the energy is organized and has a mission or target, the chances of hitting the target (goal) will be a lot greater. (Consider a bullet in the cylinder, awaiting the trigger to release its energy). We want to get you and your business organized and focused so the energy you release will propel your business forward in the direction you choose.

Following are the steps that seem to work best if done sequentially, all with the specific purpose of setting your business on fire. Literally translated that means bringing in more revenue, more customers, more brand recognition. [Read more…]

Give Them What You Want

John Warner, CEO of www.stopworking.net tells a story about a total stranger who gave him the secret to which he attributes his success. The following is excerpted from his story and is spoken by the stranger.

“You are your market. Whatever you want, there are millions of other people wanting the same thing. That elusive Home Business you are looking for is the product millions of others are also looking for right now.

All you have to do is create the Business you want to buy, the Business you yourself have been looking for. Once you have this Business, what would you want the sales message to say so that you know this is the Business you have been looking for?

If someone else were marketing this Business, what would you want the ad to say, what would get you to sign up? When you have the answer, this is the ad you want to create. [Read more…]

Seven Keys to Giving and Receiving More Appreciation

Love, sex and money may make the world go round, but appreciation is what most of us are starving for, especially in the work environment. Appreciation is a strong motivator. It reinforces positive behavior and creates a bond between giver and receiver. Leaders who show appreciation for those who support and assist them will always have followers.

Appreciation is the balance between giving and receiving. People follow those who acknowledge value received and show their appreciation in some form. Today’s smart business leaders know that one of the best and least expensive ways to increase productivity is to offer appreciation for value received. And when you show appreciation for what others share, give or produce, it will be returned, even if not overtly stated.

When David, the owner of a sports equipment store, started showing appreciation for positive behavior instead of complaining about negative behavior from his retail sales staff, attendance improved and overall sales started to climb. One young man with a flair for style and design was given the opportunity to create an attractive display that increased sales of the displayed items. Personal and public appreciation for his contribution was enough encouragement for him to try other displays. He was eventually rewarded with a small override on promotional items for which he had created the display, but the real motivation came from the appreciation he received for a job well done and seeing the success of his efforts.

Customer loyalty, staff dedication and increased personal integrity are the result of [Read more…]

Secrets to Building a Useful Network

“Networking* has become a small-business buzzword. The beauty of today’s networking is that you can do a lot of it globally–through the Internet.

But it’s not enough to network. You want to build a network that serves your needs.

Start with a plan. Who do you want to meet? Potential new customers, of course, but who else? What about suppliers and providers of services you need? What about a connection to a government agency or educational institution?

Review your operating plan to see what kinds of people might support your goals and open doors for you. Target your networking just like you do your marketing. Ask your existing network if they know anyone who fits your criteria. As you meet new people in networking situations, ask for referrals. Most people enjoy being able to provide useful contacts.

When you meet someone who doesn’t seem to fit into your network, determine if they might be useful to someone else in your network. Being known as a resource for what is needed reinforces your value.
In addition to the obvious exchange of business cards or information, follow up with each new person you meet within three days by sending an e-mail, a hand-written note or a post card. Don’t neglect this step. It strengthens the memory of having met you.

If you think there might be a reason to initiate more personal communication right away, [Read more…]

The Five Questions to Create an Effective Marketing Plan

Questions can be a wonderful tool. In planning, the key to success is knowing the right questions to ask. That certainly applies when it comes to creating a Marketing Plan.

Answering the following questions will provide you with information needed to create the framework for an effective plan.

What is your value message?

This is the first and most important question you can answer. Until you know what value you wish to communicate about your product or service, attracting customers will be unfocused and difficult.

Consider how you’re different from your competitors. Your message must clearly state the value your customer can expect to receive. And remember, there is at least some emotion behind every purchase. Your value message might be that you are timely and accurate (you’re respectful), you offer a lot for a little (I feel smart buying from you), or your ingredients are top quality (I deserve good things).

“Simple fare, freshly and tastefully prepared” is the message a restaurant might want its prospective customers to get. When seeing or hearing the name of the restaurant, this is what we want them to remember. Likewise, when thinking of that kind of food, we want our restaurant to come to mind. The simpler the message, the clearer it will be. The clearer it is stated, the stronger and more “attractive” it becomes. Clarity is the key here.

Of course, you not only have to sell it, you then have to deliver the value.

Who will value what you offer?

Who could benefit from what you offer? Who are these people?

For the restaurant it might be those who enjoy well-prepared fresh food made in classic ways. Something beyond the typical coffee shop, with emphasis on the quality and freshness of the food and the preparation. This is their target market. You want to define your ideal customer or client. The narrower you can get the definition, the more specific your message can be. [Read more…]