How to Get the Results You Want!

One of the greatest enemies of getting the results you want is disorganized thinking and unfocused actions. Look at the image on the left.

What do you see?  Disorganized thinking and unfocused actions. When operating in this mode, there’s lots of activity, but little is accomplished.

To get the results you want, those assets and actions have to be aligned and directed, like the image on the right. Look at the strength and power these two elements add.

Entrepreneurs tend to have lots of good ideas, usually function at high energy and are often impulsive. But what has the potential for a solid business often falls apart for lack of organization, structure, focus and direction. Actions are frequently taken haphazardly and sporadic without a goal or a plan.

The objective is to align assets and actions so they all go in the same direction – toward your goals. The sequence of steps is to identify and organize your assets (the value you provide to the marketplace), create a clear message and then strategically plan and take calculated, directed actions designed to lead to your goals.

In order to get the Results you want, you must align your Goals, your Strategy, your Plan and your Actions. Actions implement the Plan, which carries out the Strategy, which leads to your Goals. Therefore, Actions ultimately should lead to Goals. To the extent that Results match Goals, your Actions have been on-target and successful.

Answer the following questions to begin organizing and structuring a framework that will get you on track toward producing the Results you want.

Goals:

What results do you want from your efforts?

Total Revenue?

Sell X Number of products/services?

Generate X% revenue from New Market?

Strategy:

How do you plan to achieve your goals?

Identify and develop an untapped market?

Redefine our brand for New Market?

Plan:

What are the specific tasks to be accomplished? Who is responsible? When does each need to be done?

Actions:

When do you need to start and complete these tasks?  What is the sequence? What is the timeframe for each?

Results:

What are the measurable outcomes from your Plan and Actions?

Compare actual Total Revenue to Revenue Goal

Compare actual Number of products/services sold by target date to Product Goal.

Compare actual percent of Total Revenue from New Market

How close are the Results to the Goals? What succeeded; what didn’t? Each time you repeat the process, you get better at producing the Results you want.

Let’s look at a case in point.

With a background in retail merchandising, Jennifer started her business by purchasing quality overruns from women’s plus size manufacturers and opened a small store near another retailer of plus size clothing. Her intent was to capture some of the traffic attracted by the other store. She took out expensive ads in local papers and the yellow pages, but after six months still wasn’t getting the traffic or the sales she had hoped for. She wasn’t even covering her expenses. She knew she had a product that was needed and desired by her target market; she just wasn’t bringing in enough business.

Of course, Jennifer didn’t really have Goals, a Strategy or a Plan. Her actions were sporadic and without research. She was feeling very frustrated and considering giving up when she made the decision to organize her thinking and focus her actions.

To help organize her thinking she created a Market Research campaign and learned where and how her target market could be reached. Based on this research she created a marketing campaign that included specific, measurable Goals, a Strategy and Plan and specific Actions to carry out the Plan. Here is an excerpted picture of her process.

Goals: (for one year period)

1 – $2,500,000 in revenue

2 – A customer database of 10,000 and 20,000 transactions at an average sale of $125.

Strategy (excerpt from Marketing Plan)

1 a)  Create incentive for existing customers to bring or refer a friend.

   b)  Add online catalog.

2 a)  Hold fashion show and invite the press.

   b)  Capture customer info, including e-mail address and send monthly promos.

Plan:

1 a)  Offer high end accessory item for one referral, 10% discount on merchandise for second referral.

   b)  Use existing online catalog service and start with top 20% of items in each category (to test online market)

2 a)  Select show date, assign coordinator and write plan for show (to include online show).

   b)  Offer raffle of high end accessory in exchange for attendee/visitor info.

Actions:

1 a) Jennifer selected incentive item, ordered enough for marketing purposes, wrote and sent an introductory promotion to a targeted e-mailing list and existing customers. The incentive promotion was added to all marketing materials and promo coupons.

   b)  Jennifer directed research to find a suitable online catalog. Upon selection, she hired a web designer to design the page layout and a developer to set up the shopping cart and manage the site.

2  a)  Jennifer assigned the Assistant Manager the job of coordinating the fashion show, which took place in the early Spring, prior to the Easter Holiday. The show plan included both an in-store and online fashion show of featured items.

   b)  Coordinator developed a data gathering form and had it created in print (for in-store) and online. Database was updated to capture info being gathered.

Results:

1 a) Total revenue the first year was just under $2,000,000. (80% of Goal)

   b) Total number of customers in the database was 9,800 (98% of Goal) with 15,500 transactions (78% of Goal) and average sale of $129. (103% of Goal)

2 a) The fashion shows (using customers as models) received some media attention and produced 380 transactions at an average sale of $115.. A fall fashion show using the same format produced 300 transactions at an average sale of $128.

   b) E-mail promotions using the customer database attracted increased web traffic to the catalog. 60,000 visitors produced 1,650 transactions and 280 new customers. 11% of revenue came from online sales.

Conclusions:

Revenue results were 80% of Goal. Part of the shortfall was attributed to the fact that the online catalog took longer to develop than planned. Catalog revenue (11%) was less than expected. Average sale tended to be very close to target, so this can be used as a good gauge for future revenue projections. With early positive results from the online catalog, expansion of the catalog items and the overall product line should offer potential for additional revenue.

Jennifer was able to get her business on a solid footing with strategies and plans that she knew could produce the Results she wanted.

You, too, can organize your thinking and focus your actions to get the Results you want. Let’s schedule a complimentary phone conversation to talk about your business, your situation and what you’d like to accomplish.

Rescue on the High Seas

Do you remember the story of Harvey Cheyne in Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous? Harvey is a 15 year old rich boy who is washed overboard while traveling on an ocean liner. He is rescued by fishermen on a schooner who are on a long sea voyage. He has no idea about the sea or what it takes to manage a seafaring vessel. But he is open to learning since the schooner will not dock for months. His nautical education includes being literally “shown the ropes”. By the time the trip is finished he has learned what he needs to know to be a good sailor and ultimately a captain.

As on a ship, there are certain fundamentals that need to be taken care of, certain things that need to be monitored on a consistent basis: fuel, supplies, weather conditions, water conditions, location, distance to port, etc. The same is true in business. You need to set a course with a strategy and a plan, then compare results to the plan. Depending on what you learn in doing your comparison, you will take actions designed to keep you on course with your plan.

Imagine if a ship’s captain prepared a travel plan for his vessel, then put it away and didn’t refer to it as events occurred. Reaching the target destination would be unlikely without checking to see that all actions were keeping the ship on course.

In business it’s the same thing: you need to not only plan you need to track how you’re doing against your plan so you can adjust your actions before they take you too far off course.

Grant had spent $5,000 to expand his market for wholesale prime meats to a new territory. But he didn’t keep track of inquiries, prospects and sales from this new territory. He only looked at the small increase in total sales and attributed the increase to the new marketing initiative. What had actually occurred was an active marketing effort by one of his major existing clients. When further evaluation was done he realized he had only received a few inquiries and no prospects from the new territory. This told him it was time to reassess his marketing efforts. He decided to visit potential prospects personally to try and learn exactly what they would most likely be able to sell. Six months later he had added another 14% to his business from the new territory and he knew why it had occurred.

Learning how to effectively monitor and manage your plan and actions is just one of the things you will need to know to be an effective captain. If you’re on the high seas of commerce, feeling like you’re off course, now is the time to make the decision to gain command of the situation.

How to Identify Your Brand

Man standing in boat on water outside of city, how to identify your brandThere are many components of your business that need to be hashed out before you even open the hatch or sign for a loan. From the initial concept, to the goals you wish to achieve, to creating an actionable plan, you’ll need to have at least a rough draft of your brand first and foremost.

Here are some questions to ask yourself while identifying it.

What’s my business mission?

If you were a ship owner your vessel would have a name and it would have a mission. It would carry cargo or people, or it might be an Arctic icebreaker, or a defender with tools to serve its purpose. It may be out to explore new places or gather information. Your mission will help you determine your brand.

Having launched your business, you must have a strategy to address the market climate and determine where there are holes to be filled. What has you excited about embarking on this voyage? What do you plan to offer? How will your customers be served?

Beyond understanding your own destiny, consider those of your customers: who are they and what are they searching for? Develop a customer compass that identifies their personalities and lifestyles, what they spend most of their time doing, what they like and dislike. Whatever is important to your business is what you should be seeking to learn about your market.

What’s my brand personality?

Your brand (ship) should have a unique personality to set it apart from others, the same way your personality sets you apart from other people. Start exploring what your brand will convey, remembering that it goes beyond what your business merely looks and sounds like, but in fact embodies the core values of what you offer your customers.

Choosing a name, a look and a logo for your brand will either be the most fun or the most stressful part of the journey. You’ll want to go with an image that represents your products and services well; something that catches attention, is easy to remember and tells the right story about your brand (ship) while being relatable to your customer.

How is my brand communicating?

Your brand (ship) will be the first impression you make on prospects. It also gives a long-lasting impression to returning customers. You want it to speak to them in a consistent tone of voice, serving as a constant reminder of your business’ character.

An elevator pitch can serve as an oral representation of your brand (ship); a 30-second-or-less statement about your business’ mission, goals and values. Strength is in the brevity of your pitch as you’re forced to narrow down your services to just the specifics. This will help you greatly when networking with others who may soon develop a great interest in your brand.

Your brand is important because it cultivates trust between you and your customers early on in your business relationship. Without it, there might not be a relationship to follow. It’s important to not gloss over the details, but to clearly understand what impact your brand will have on the future of your company.

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Are you seeking help with identifying your brand? Prime Strategies offers the necessary guidance and expertise to help you develop your brand and create a strategy to build it into your own fleet. Ask for a complimentary session to get you started.

Understanding the @Reply

The @ symbol used to be a casual way to leave notes on post-its:

Dinner @ 7! Meet me there.

In addition to being the symbol that connects your email address to your mail server, the @ symbol is now used as the ultimate tool to connect users online on various social media platforms. But it is used differently on Twitter than on Facebook.

On Twitter    

When you want to write a Tweet to someone, or about someone, you would use the @ symbol as a way to address them. Find out what their Twitter username is and then proceed:

@marianbanker Business is great, thanks for your help!

You’ll notice that the text immediately following the @ symbol has become a link which sends you directly to the user’s page.  Additionally, the person you’ve written to (or about) will get a notification that you’ve done so, thus opening up the potential for conversation.

On Facebook    

Facebook uses the @ symbol slightly differently. It also links a person’s name within your post but you can only tag people you’re “friends” with or public pages that you’ve “liked”. Additionally, Facebook changes the format of the text while you’re typing so the final result excludes the @ symbol. Here’s what I mean.

I’m writing a Facebook status on my personal profile about something I love and I want to share it so that more people can find out about, so I begin typing my status. When I get to the part where I want to link to a Facebook page, I start typing @PrimeStrategies. But the @ symbol prompts Facebook to start generating suggestions for me.

Once I select the appropriate page, it will post the page name without the @ symbol with a blue box around it to indicate it has been linked.

Then, once I post it, this is the final result.

Now my status update will allow those interested to click on the link and be directed to the Prime Strategies Facebook page. Additionally, depending on the settings of the company page, my post will be included on their page as well.

Don’t get too hung up on symbols. They may seem silly or even overwhelming but they’re simply useful tools to improve social media interaction. Take it slow and remember to try it all, you can always delete it if it doesn’t work out.

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If you’re a late-life entrepreneur seeking help with marketing strategies and management techniques, Prime Strategies can offer the necessary guidance and expertise to help you reach your goals.

Internet Marketing 101 – Part 2

Photo of multiple social networks: facebook, youtube, dkype, google plus, linkedin, orkut, tiwtter, myspace and hi5In Part 1 we began the process of getting acclimated to the internet for marketing purposes. Establishing a brand online isn’t quick or easy but if done right, it can be very effective.

The first two steps we discussed were to find your target market and build up your social or blog profiles. Here’s what to do next.

Engage

At the risk of making internet branding sound like a sci-fi movie, now that you’ve found your target: engage! A common internet marketing misconception is that it’s all about Sell! Sell! Sell! It isn’t. Lots of people online have something they want people to buy. The internet is akin to a midweek afternoon on Canal Street where people shout designer names at you from all directions hoping you’ll want a replication handbag. Take it slow, start by being a resource people can count on. Build up an audience on a social platform that is both comfortable to you and appeals to your target market. Offer original content; opinions on things happening in your industry, products you like, day-to-day anecdotes about running your own business. You don’t have to share a lot of information, but share what you can and share it often. Update your Facebook status or create a 140-character Tweet every few days.

When you find relevant blogs, leave comments and engage with like-minded folks. Both Twitter and Facebook use hashtags now, so you can find people easily. For example, if you own an acoustic music shop, search for #guitar #music #songwriter. Perhaps you’ll find some people in your area who are musicians and can be appealed to. Ask them what kind of equipment they use or who their biggest musical influence is. Engage. Don’t sell yet.

OK, Now Sell

Now that you have everything built up and are becoming an authoritative resource in your industry, connecting one-on-one with as many people as possible, you can start sharing your products and promotions with those who are listening. Don’t stop listening yourself, half the battle of social media is staying engaged and that includes hearing what the heartbeat of your customers and your industry are trying to tell you. But feel free to share links to products if you have a website or information on current sales happening in your store. If you’ve built up the right audience over time, those relevant targets could convert into real life customers.

It may seem overwhelming at first, but once you get involved and start listening to your customers in this new way, you’ll get more comfortable with it. The internet can be a great tool for communicating with the right people and even draw in an audience you didn’t even know you could attract. Stay positive, be consistent, be patient and most of all, have fun.
If you’re a late-life entrepreneur seeking help with marketing strategies and management techniques, Prime Strategies can offer the necessary guidance and expertise to help you reach your goals.

 

Cloud Computing: A Technology for Business Growth

Setting about to grow a business is a task easier said than done. Whether you’re part of a large enterprise looking to expand, or running your own small business and trying to get off the ground, the process will always be different. The new technology, cloud computing, can make a complex process much easier. We posted an article not long ago about “Business Fitness,” and how to assess the foundation of your business with regard to growth potential and efforts. But in this article we’re going to discuss how this particular technology and set of services that is becoming more and more prevalent in business can help you grow.

Specifically, we’re talking about cloud computing online, which is the ability to store digital data at off-site, online locations, rather than in your office or on company computers and mobile devices. The benefits to implementing this sort of service are numerous and significant, but here are a few specifics of the main advantages you stand to gain by adopting cloud computing.

Online Backup for Your Data

With a cloud computing network in place for your business, or even for an individual company branch, you immediately gain automatic, secure backup for your sensitive work files. Storing these files in printed form, or on company equipment, leaves them somewhat vulnerable – to theft, loss, damage, etc. However, having your sensitive data backed up in the cloud means that even in the event your office or work equipment is compromised, your files will be safe and accessible.

Increased Potential for Collaboration

Having the ability to upload files to the cloud also gives you unprecedented ability to collaborate on projects and share files quickly. When a given file is uploaded to the cloud, anyone in your business with access to that cloud can view it, download it, edit it and save progress. This allows collaboration and file sharing regardless of physical proximity or timing.

Regulated Working Environment

Cloud service has become so popular that even if you aren’t using it in your business, your employees are likely using it on their own – and this can be a security risk for your company. Instead of allowing employees to save business files on various cloud providers, regulate your working environment by providing a cloud computing partner that everyone can share. With the right service, you can even gain control over employee file sharing. Sharefile is one example, as it offers an “Enterprise” service that allows company IT directors to track communications and enjoy “centralized management and control.”

Remote Access to Work Files

We covered this in a way in the section on collaboration, but it’s also worth noting that individual flexibility increases with cloud computing. A cloud in place allows you and any employees you may have to work from anywhere at any time, provided there is Internet service and cloud access.

Cloud computing is already being implemented in businesses large and small around the world. If you’re in growth mode now may be the time to consider upgrading to this outstanding new technology.

Internet Marketing 101: Part-1

Marketing your brand and getting customers in the door is a complicated but necessary component to the success of your business. It can be expensive to implement the right kind of advertising strategy which makes the internet all the more appealing.

But in addition to being mostly free, the internet can be overwhelming, especially for late-life entrepreneurs who didn’t grow up Tweeting and Facebooking and LOLing. This is new to you and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Here are some tips for staying calm and making the most of your internet use.

Find Your Target Market

One of the first mistakes most business owners make when using the web for marketing is they yell at the masses instead of networking with a more relevant pool of people. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of content online and a lot of people online. Not every web surfer is going to be your potential customer so instead of getting lost in all the yelling, target who you need to.

Chances are you already know your target market, assuming you’ve gotten that far in your business plan. The next step is to figure out where these folks hang out on the internet. What kind of websites do they visit? Which blogs do you think they read? Are they more likely to use Twitter or Facebook to connect with their friends and family? Age, gender and other demographics are a great way to figure this out. Doing some research online (Google any doubts away, always) can steer you in the right direction but in general, use what you already know. If your target customer is like you, find blogs you enjoy reading. Or simply find other people talking about the type of products you sell and get ready to tell them they should be buying yours.

Build Up Your Profile

Once you figure out which social platforms your target audience is using most, go there and become a part of it. Before you get started, make sure your profiles represent your business well. Be sure to include contact information; business address, phone number, website – if any. Make sure the aesthetics match your overall brand and include something personal so people can get to know you better. If you’ve been in business for 35 years, mention that you’re an authority with a lot of experience. If you’re just starting out, discuss how eager you are to get in the game and how much fun you’re having. Be you. That’s how you will attract listeners.

One of the more common misconceptions of internet marketing is that it will be quick and easy. But to get the right results and avoid wasting your time on the wrong demographics, it will take some time and patience. Don’t fear, though, because you’re not alone. Figuring out the nuances of internet marketing isn’t just challenging because you’re not entirely used to it; its complexities are blind to age, so why not join the race and see what you can make of it?

Stay tuned for next week’s post where we’ll conclude our internet advice with part 2 of Internet Marketing 101.


If you’re a late-life entrepreneur seeking support in business planning and management techniques, Prime Strategies can offer the necessary guidance and expertise to help you reach your goals.