Category Archives: Marketing

Marketing is one the most important aspects of a business enterprise. Marketing encompasses the whole extent of advertising for the firm, establishing a good public relations for your company, finding the most effective pitch for your product and services as well as the logistics of the same in the market, locally and internationally.

Innovations of the information age have made marketing more bearable even for the inexperienced entrepreneur – if not totally easy. Having this fact in mind, the competition now is all about strategizing for your firm. Which sets of marketing plans will work best for you to gain the upper hand; you might ask? The skilled entrepreneur can discern this by the use scientific analysis of objective data and the use of his or her sheer instincts.


Spend More Time in Marketing to Close More Sales

If you find selling to a potential customer very taxing, then you would be in for a big surprise. You hate selling because your marketing strategies are weak.

For most business owners, the idea of selling to potential clients brings about a shiver on the spine. I think I’ve heard hundreds among hundreds of entrepreneurs say that selling isn’t really the best tool in their drawer. If I had a dollar every time I’ve heard that, then I would’ve just established a business

The reason most of us loathe selling is because we always put a negative connotation to it. When it comes to sales, we always imagine someone trying to sell us something that we don’t really need or want. We also relate sales to an image of an annoying and pushy salesperson that we usually see on television or on used car lots.  These images, however, are the opposite of what we want our potential customers to perceive us.

Our goal, as business owners, is to have our customers genuinely want our products or services. As part of our business objectives, we want to convince them that we are the best at what we do. Ideally, we want them to already have that notion about our business even before our first contact; and we always yearn for a steady flow of prospects who are already advocates of what we do.

This is where your marketing strategies come in.

I started a business a few years ago in the UK. It was kind of a rocky start as I spent too much time knocking on customers’ doors only to have most of them shut. It was getting discouraging being in the shoes of a failed salesperson. It was then that I decided to change my approach.

During those most challenging times, I realized that I had been completely ignoring a very important area of my business that I was supposed to be good at – marketing. I had all the qualifications with the matching experience; but it had still taken me months to realize my mistake.

My new approach required me to create a demand for my product. Since this was the case, I reckoned to spend ninety percent of my time and energy on marketing my product. I also decided to put all sales on hold. The change in approach paid off as I started getting questions and queries for my product, globally. The only selling I had to do then was following up with the customer and closing the deal.

If you find selling a tedious task, then the best way to make it easier (or sometimes entirely taken care of) is to be really tacky on your marketing. Spend a little more time crafting a marketing strategy that best supports your goals and makes sure that you’re sending out the correct message to your dream clients. Doing so will make selling a little bit more fun for you.

art of selling

How Do We Go About Mastering This Age-Old Art Called Selling?

In an interview with Steve Herzberg, Managing Director of NRG Solutions based in Australia, he shares with us some insights on what successful sales people are made of.

According to Steve, there’s no one solution to becoming a master sales person. He did mention though that doing a few things well can make you successful in selling; whether you’re working for a large organization or your own business.

Steve identifies three things that always occur in successful sales people during the interview.

Successful Sales People Have High Energy Levels

Successful sales people do a lot. They speak to a lot of people, they make more calls and stay in touch with more people than anyone.  Successful sales people also make their presence felt, and they do this through blogging or attending events. Successful sales people do a lot of things every day and they always find new and creative ways in communicating with a lot of people.

Successful Sales People Exude Confidence

According to Steve, one of the keys to being a successful sales person is to be confident in the products and services you’re selling. Likewise, he also stresses the point that in order to be successful in selling, you also have to be confident in who you are.

Think of it this way. If you’re planning to buy a flat screen television at the mall, you’ll be more inclined to buy from someone who’s confident in the product they’re selling. Moreover, technical skills, product knowledge, and knowledge of the Industry are very important competencies that effective sales people possess;  and these can be distinguished in the way they communicate

Successful Sales People are Good at Getting Their Customers to Articulate their Needs

Another characteristic of an effective sales person is that  he or she is good at asking questions. Furthermore, a successful sales person actively listens and asks follow up questions.

When asked what are the most effective questions that any sales person should ask, Steve replies that any question that shows interest in your customers business and the problems and challenges that they have are effective.

Most of the time people purchase something for pleasure, but occasionally, they also purchase things to cure the pain. As a sales person, you should always utilize your skills in finding out where these problems exists. Moreover, he also adds that asking questions on the impact of problems on customers are also helpful in getting a better understanding of what the customer is going through.

Finally, Steve also put in a lot of emphasis on following-up. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to find the right balance between being a stalker and staying in touch. Steve’s general rule of thumb is to maintain contact with customers at least once a month or every quarter.

There is always a time when the customer is ready to buy, and the key to is that you are always on top of mind compared to your competitors. Steve’s advice is to continually find creative ways on how to stay in touch. These can be in the form of a blog, a newsletter, setting up events or seminars for your customers.


Cost Effective Public Relations For SMBs

You might have to invest a few extra cash in marketing your business, and this is particularly difficult when cash is hard to come by. However, there are various means for which you could secure free business PR that are proven to work.  Here are a few of the ways of gaining free PR for your small business.

1. Establish your expertise

You can greatly utilise your expertise in marketing your business. You could really be great in doing something else. All you need to do is establish the fact that you are extremely good at what you do. Write articles and submit them online, write an e-book, attend speaking engagement, anything that will back up your claims of expertise.

2. Utilise the power of the media

Make connections with the local media. Establish good relationship with them. Extend enough effort to feature your small business in all local media outlet. Introduce them to your business’ background, nature and advantages. Make them a part of your business’ important activities, such as pilot opening, anniversary and any other important details. Make a catalogue of the entire media outlet in your locality, and every time your business engages in something important, let them know through sending a press release. You may also post your media releases to any free PR websites for an additional exposure and coverage.

3. Offer something relevant in return for significant details

Collect as much information as possible. Ask for important details like name, address and contact number, among other things so you could include them in your network for future reference and business opportunities. In return, you may offer something relevant to your customers for their cooperation, such as your authored e-book or newsletter. You may also find it helpful to gain the collaboration of other businesses with the same target bracket as you do. You may exchange relevant information, thus increasing your market universe.

4. Make good use of the web

You need not be a tech savvy for you to greatly utilise the benefits of the internet. Make good use of its usage. Take advantage of it. It will greatly impact your business if only you employ the many uses of the internet. Social Media sites are really good breeding ground for fledgling businesses; you can use this medium to reach out to hundreds of customers, either current or potential.

5. Stay grounded

You have to keep improving your new-age techniques of marketing without neglecting the proven old methods. Do not be limited in your approaches. Diversify! Associate with people from your industry and make solid connection with them. Hand out your business cards. Stay in contact with your clients and customers. These may be the ways of the old, but these are also proven to work.

business awards

How Entering a Business Awards Program Can Help You and Your Business

One creative way to get some stars under your business’ belt is to enter an awards program.

Immersing yourself in the process of a business awards program, is like hitting two birds with one stone. First, you get to rediscover yourself and what makes you tick as a business owner.  Second, you also let everyone – particularly the panel, sponsors, potential clients, and the entire industry that you’re there, and you’ve got the credentials to compete!

Here’s how participation in an awards program can benefit you.

The Application Process

Getting involved in the application process can make you stop and think as to your and your business’ mission. Being immersed in the application process allows you to do a little bit of soul-searching as to why you’re doing what you’re doing. It also allows you to have a look-back on your milestones and achievements.

Justifying your Results

Making your business accomplishments known, and explaining how you’ve made them possible can be a real uplifting experience. Doing this not only pushes your ability to communicate well as a business owner to the limit, but it also allows you to clearly communicate your business directions to a professional and scrutinizing audience. The experience of justifying business results in front of a panel makes you realize a lot of things about yourself and your business’ achievements. This experience of being put on the spot is invaluable when it comes to interactions with your business’ stakeholders.

Presenting the Financials

Closely studying and scrutinizing your financials can give you a deeper understanding of your performance coming from a monetary perspective. This experience is invaluable in crafting your business plan if you ever plan to go to a financial institution or in getting potential business investors.

Speaking in Front or Experts

Speaking in front of a crowd of business experts, professionals, and a panel of judges can be quite an exhilarating experience. It is the time when you either stand  up and be heard or forever shut up. Being in a situation where you know that every aspect of your business is scrutinized can nothing but only build up your confidence and character. It can be an interview wherein every answer feels like your life depended on it – a mind-blowing experience indeed!

Even if you just try filing your application, or even if you don’t “win,” just going through the application process can be a life-changing experience. Applying for a business awards program and having your application accepted can make you feel like as if you’ve already won the competition. Going through the different stages of selection, is already a bonus. Winning the award is just the cherry on top.


Easiest PR – Personal PR

First impression matters especially if you are meeting possible clients. You are not getting another chance, so make the best out of it the first time. A personal PR could be your answer.

There could be a great possibility that first impressions are true. The image you project at first meeting could be interpreted as your general characteristic by clients. You have to protect the image you have especially when you are in business where you get to have so many opportunities of meeting professional people the first time.  Because your image is your ticket towards building a much needed credibility, you must take good care of it. Every single gesture and actuation you deliver is subject for interpretation, so you need to act appropriately as to what the circumstance requires. First impression impacts your business in a great way, so make the best of yourself while you’re at it. In the eyes of your potential clients, you and your business is interchangeable; when you project yourself a lousy image, you are sending a message that they will be venturing with a lousy business. Therefore, project yourself the best and the most appropriate way, develop your personal PR.

Your image is the gauge other people will measure you and your business. You cannot deceive them into believing that you are not really what you are showing them at the moment. It is impossible to let them know you run an environmentally conscious business when you do not even dispose your wastes properly. No matter how trivial, people will notice every off-handed remark or gesticulation you make. Potential clients will pretty much use their first impression of you in evaluating you entirely.

Building a healthy image will definitely work to your advantage. Make an effort to evaluate yourself, and do a personality makeover if need be. Your manner is your message to others about who you are without uttering a single word. If you dress smart, if you smile a lot, if you always make sure to make it on time, then you are sending a message that you are great to work with. Your business skills may not necessarily be enough to bring your business into a higher level; learn the skill of personal PR as well.

  • Make every effort to project a professional image even to the slightest detail, from your business communications down to your logo
  • Be smart. Dress accordingly. Neat grooming will do you good.
  • Be cordial, warm and friendly to everyone no matter their station in life. Develop healthy and proper manners.

Using Articles For PR

You can make your articles work for your benefits; its advantages are great. It will help you project the right image for you and your business as long as you inform your customers that you are the writer of the said article.

1. Notify people about your written article by placing a link from your email

This is a very reliable method in advertising your article. There is a great probability that people will click the link in your email signature, thus paving a way for them to be informed that you have recently written an article.

2. Post your articles in the website regularly

When you regularly update and add articles to your website’s content, the greater your credibility becomes. And when your credibility increases, so is the number of visits you get in your website because people trust your ideas and opinions.

3. Submit articles in prominent article directories

There are free article directories for which you can post your articles for exposure and coverage. Make sure to post them in prominent article directories to ensure greater possibility of viewership. These directories may have some strict guidelines, but once you get through the process, you will have an opportunity to secure massive viewership from its readers.

4. Post your articles in the open

Do not be limited to posting your articles online only. There are various ways of promoting your article. You can post it in the open like placing your article in an area where it can easily be seen by people such as reception area and bulletin board in the office.  You are trying to project an image of confidence and authority in your area of expertise.

5. Have a portfolio of your best articles

You will certainly create a very good impression when you are ready to show your portfolio when the client asks for it spontaneously. It allows your client to think highly of you. Always carry your portfolio with you, bring it wherever you head.

6. Make your article a great promotional tool

You may also utilise the power of article marketing by promoting your other methods to achieve the common goal. This is a very good avenue where you could create an image of being a true expert in your chosen field. When you are in any events, hand out any form of marketing materials together with your article piece.

7. Send your articles regularly to your current and prospective clients

This makes you look more professional. You may send each of them a copy of your articles as your way of reaching out to them on a regular basis. This will help you maintain brand recognition among these people.

Writing Great Articles For PR

Is my content relevant?

Your content should make a difference to your readers. They must find it worthwhile. Make sure that every word you pen down is beneficial to your customers. Make every effort to have every bit of your information relevant.

Does it have integrity?

When you write a factual article, make sure you are not just making up the details. Make sure to be ready to provide proof of its authenticity. A writer’s work is only as good as its integrity. When you say you are an expert, then you must mean it in every sense of the word.

Do you have the integrity and credibility?

You have to ask yourself whether you have established enough credibility and integrity in your field of expertise. Can you name other people to support your claims? Have you acquired various recognitions and commendations to fortify your credibility? Do you have a good standing within your association and community?

Establish and develop your expertise further

Continue to learn the systems of your business. Establish your expertise by submitting more articles and any other materials that will establish your authority on the subject. Be steady and reliable with your trends and routine. And make every effort to build meaningful relationship with people from the media. Make yourself known; establish your name and reputation until you start getting recognized for your efforts.

Writing an article may take some time to practice but once it gets going, you will become better in crafting and writing ideas. You can start slow while you are learning until you have enough experience to go full blast. Start crafting your article, start learning and posting your articles online until you get noticed.

Be sure to make a collection of your work. Keep it ready to be shown to your potential clients. Any copy of your work that you can keep, include it in your portfolio, you will need it soon enough.

olden sales

Three Rules for Selling in Tough Times

In a recent interview with sales guru Neil Rackham, he tells us about three rules for selling in tough times. In this interview Neil points out that these three rules stems from  studying previous recessions and trying to work out what the successful players have done.

Rule Number 1: Avoid Chasing After Too Many Things

In times of economic anxiety, chasing after too many things is the number one mistake that business owners make. In times of uncertainty, our instinct for survival naturally takes over and we begin to get ‘whatever comes our way.’

Neil Rackham states one very important rule of thumb during tough times: “Don’t chase bad business.”  He further stressed his point by adding, “If you won’t chase a business in good times, never ever chase it in bad times.”

Winners instead decide on which pieces of business are most important to get and puts more effort into them. Putting double the effort into a half-opportunity will give you better return than spreading everything thin across all opportunities.

During tough times it is important to keep your focus sharp and over-deliver to your identified market.

Rule Number 2: Never get into Early Negotiations

Yes, it is true that-times are hard; therefore it’s always easy to fall into the trap  of getting into negotiations too early.

In stressing this point, Neil explains the difference between selling and negotiation. According to him, “When you’re selling, you’re not giving anything away; when you’re negotiating, you’re giving things away to get business.”

In uncertain times, anxiety pretty much causes us to start giving things away due to a feeling of desperation. One thing to take important note of is that potential customers can sense this desperation. Emitting these vibes can reduce your chance of getting the business; and what’s worse is that you might even whet the customer’s appetite to get more and more concessions.

Customers  can sense this desperation and will try to push you over the limit once they see that you’re willing to negotiate at the initial meet.

Rule Number 3: Make the Customer Feel Safe

The most common misconception is that during a recession, most people think that customers are price-sensitive. This is not so. Studies have shown that customers would rather pay more and go with a safe alternative than go with a cheaper, less-stable alternative.

To prove this point, you can ask yourself this question: “When times are hard, and you’re willing to make a big purchase, would you go for the safe option or the cheaper option?”

As per the study of Neil and his group, they’ve  found out that eighty percent of people would always go for the ‘safe’ option. With this in mind, your challenge now, as a business owner,  is that you would need to make yourself appear to be the most reliable, and the safest option to your prospects.


Facilitating Effective Meetings can Close You that Business Deal

For business owners, meetings can either be a positive, fruitful experience; or they can also mean hours of wasted time that could’ve been used in other tasks. In order to conduct effective, productive, and efficient meetings, preparation is always necessary. Being prepared makes sure that participants will all be on the same page during the set appointment.

Some time ago, I had a business appointment with a fellow entrepreneur. I was planning to use his services on a certain project I was planning to launch. This person was an expert at what he does; he also knew that I knew almost nothing about his craft.

An appointment was set so that we can begin looking at the possibilities of what our partnership can bring.

During the meet, both parties were too casual.  The results I wanted to get from the fellow entrepreneur wasn’t really made clear. Furthermore, the other party did not ask any questions before we got together for a meet.

This unpreparedness resulted to a very awkward meeting that actually only began when our time was almost up. Both parties had not set any guidelines for it to be considered an effective meeting.

This lack of preparation resulted to a sloppy business practice deemed unacceptable by any professional.

During that time, I felt that my potential supplier left with a notion that his time was wasted.  I was also having some doubt as to his ability to manage the project. After that experience, I can’t help but ask myself, “What results can I expect from a person who can’t even manage a meeting effectively?”

I might be too judgmental in thinking that; but most probably our potential customers are also having the same doubts when we give them that impression. Managing meetings, therefore, is a vital skill in our constant search for new business and new opportunities.

In this scenario, none of us had not taken responsibility for the meeting. This failed meet therefore resulted to bad impressions from both parties and was also reckoned as a waste of time by everyone involved.

In a scenario like this, we can be proactive and take the wheel when it comes to setting the scene.

With being proactive in mind, I want to share some helpful tips for facilitating effective meetings:

Never Go to a Meeting Without Expected Results

Never show up at a meeting where the desired results are not understood by all parties. This includes, but are not limited to, the meetings you schedule and the ones you are expected to attend.

Do a ‘Play-by-Play’ in Your Mind before Each Meeting

Always plan any appointment in advance. Always put into consideration about what messages you want to convey and what things you expect to learn. Make a certain experience as a benchmark of success  for each meeting. Setting a benchmark every time will help you prepare for the next meets.

Treat Each Meeting Like It’s Your Own

Own each meeting. A meeting that’s getting out of control is never a time to be passive. If you look bored and disconnected throughout the meeting, believe me, everyone will think that you have the same demeanor at any given time of day.

Don’t be Afraid to Propose Other Options

Do not be afraid to challenge the ‘meeting-setter.’ If you think that a conference call, rather than a face-to-face meeting, would be enough to get the expected outcome – then offer it as a suggestion. If you need more to get more information or more details from the other participants before setting an appointment – then don’t be afraid to say it.


Always Recap Before the Meeting Ends

It is always a good idea to give a short  summary of what transpired during the meet. This recap time can also be used to discuss items that need follow-up and the next steps. Make sure that there’s no stone left unturned.

Always Confirm and Reconfirm

It is a good business practice to schedule meetings days in advance. It is also a good idea to confirm attendance to meetings a day before, at the most. As a business owner, you should always leave nothing to chance. All means of transportation are full of entrepreneurs miserably returning to base after learning that  a very important meeting was cancelled due to him or her not confirming attendance. You don’t want to be one of those people.

When customers see that you respect your time, they will also respect it.  As an entrepreneur, you should always remember that customers and clients can read the inefficiencies in an area, such as meeting management,  as a sign of inefficiency in all areas.


Double your Sales with These Selling Tips

Sales are usually measured in terms of conversion. As a business owner, it is always a good idea to  keep track of your conversion rate; you might even notice an increase in sales performance from your staff just by monitoring it.

In order to calculate your business’ conversation rate, you just need to have this very simple formula in mind: conversion rate equals your total sales divided by your total enquires or presentations. With this formula for defining selling success now at play, here are some tips on how you can improve your business’ sales conversion.

Actively Listen to your Customers

Do you become defensive when a prospective customer says something about your product or service that you don’t like? If being defensive is always your initial reaction when it comes to negative feedback, then you definitely need to improve your listening skills. Active listening requires processing the speaker’s message on both the content and context level. It means that you would need to focus on what was said and how it was said. Moreover, you should always look at opportunities for connection and start asking questions when things are unclear. Likewise, active listening also entails you knowing exactly when to paraphrase, when to be silent, or when to give verbal nods.

Build Rapport with Your Customers

Ever had that experience of watching two friends converse and talk about the same topic? To add to that, both of them basically sound alike, use the same word choices, and to a certain extent, also finish each other’s sentences. If you’ve experienced this scene before then you’ve just witnessed how rapport works between two people. When people are in rapport, they naturally ‘match and mirror’ each other. As a business owner, building rapport with your customers is a way of telling them that you are like them. It is a known fact that customers only buy from people that they like and trust; pretty much people who are like them.

Ask Effective Probing Questions

One of the best and fastest ways to find out the needs of your customers immediately is through effective probing. Probing entails asking the right questions in a logical manner to ensure that you get the right details in order to match a need with a product or service.

In asking effective probing questions, there are two things that you should always remember. First, ask  questions that are non-threatening. Second, once a customer answers a question, ask follow-up questions based on what they’ve answered. Once you’ve effectively probed and found out a customer’s need, most of the time, these customers are already sold once you’re done asking questions.

Simplify Your Pricing Schemes

Many business owners already experience apprehensions once the question of price comes in. In discussing process with your customers, always make sure that you get to simplify your packages. Based on your probing, you should already have at least two options available for the customers.  It wouldn’t be wise to overwhelm a customer with options at this point of the negotiation.

Don’t forget to Close!

A lot of sales get lost because no one actually asked for it. Don’t forget to close the sale. An example of a closing questions is, “Which would you prefer option one or option two?” Another very effective closing question is “When do you want it delivered?” Also, when closing the sale always remember to give the customer a little bit of room to think about it or consider his or her options.

Handle Objections

For most business owners, objections signal that you’ve lost the interest of a customer; or even worse is that some give up and even get defensive. Objections are hidden treasures in themselves. Always listen to objections carefully as sometimes they are excuses; but most of the time they are problems that clients want to address. In handling objections, make sure to answer questions with confidence, and re-assure the customer that it is your product or service that will suit their needs. Don’t forget to ask for the sale again. You’ll find out that handling an objection effectively will result to more sales and even a higher level of confidence from the customer.


Recognizing Buying Signals will Help you Close those Sales

Before we start, I just wanted everyone to know that I started my career as a used car salesman. I don’t want to cause any panic as I know that people like me have had a bad reputation when it comes to selling. But trust me, I wasn’t that stereotypical car salesman who’s everyone’s all too familiar with.

This was almost about two decades ago, but during this stint at selling used cars, I happened to pick up a few things that helped me throughout my selling career. The valuable lesson that I learned from that experience was that you always have to mindful of buying signals from your customers.

When your prospective customer is close to making a purchase, he or she may demonstrate these buying signals. Buying signals, therefore, are signs that the sale is ‘ripe for the taking.’ Let me share some examples of buying signals; so that you too, can benefit from identifying them, and effectively closing those sales.

The Customer is Visualizing Himself or Herself Using the Product

As a car salesman, I’ve experienced visual statements from customers such as : “I think my friends would love the color” or “I can just imagine seeing the kids sitting comfortably at the backseat on one of our monthly visits to their grandma, about an hour’s drive from home.”

The Customer Has You Go Over the Terms Again

This can come in the form of having to repeat some terms and conditions that were just tackled a few minutes ago or the customer requesting a breakdown of all the fees.

The Customer Tries to Push The Limits

Questions that try to circumvent your company’s standard operating procedures are good indicators that the customer is ready to buy. Most of the time, these attempts are just indicators of ‘pre-sales playfulness’ on the customer’s part. In these instances, the customer is just trying to test you if you can break a few rules in order to get a much better deal.

The Customer Talks About Money

If your potential customer claims that your price is too much; more often than not, this is a sign that he or she is almost ready to buy . The only thing that you need to do is to figure out a way on how to reposition your product to be more convincing when it comes to value-add.

Timing the Close Correctly

When the discussion already changes to timelines, then you’re already set. This is an indication that the customer has already considered taking the product or service and is already planning his or her activities around the product.  What’s more is that once you hear the magic question, “So, what’s the next step?” it pretty much tells you that you’ve got the customer hooked and the deal is sealed.