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Why are your in business, why do your customers care #marketing #business

Why are you in business – why your customers care?

Too many new business owners focus on the what and the how of their business and do not ask themselves why they are in business. According to a 2012 study by Neilson, 92% of people, world-wide, buy based on personal recommendations. It is usually  easier to get personal recommendations from your clients if they know why you are in business.

In my work with people developing their marketing plans for their businesses I begin with the question why are they in business. I believe that this is a key determination of what will separate  them from their competition.

Since I am a business coach and not an author, I freely admit that I started doing this after reading the book “Start with Why“.  I am not an author, and just writing blogs is as much authoring that I want to do.  Perhaps it is because my grandfather told me “that those that can do, those that can’t teach“. I am a better coach than teacher because it is closer to the “doing” that is in my own DNA.  As a result of this belief,  I love using other books as additional references for my clients and I recommend Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

Begin with why

If I were to extract out the key takeaway from the book, it is that there are three things that businesses need to understand in order to be successful, the how, the what and the why.  The author refers to these as the “golden circle”.  The author believes that the why is the most important of these.  I do not agree that there are only three considerations, I believe the who of who we are selling to is almost as important as is your why.  But who you are selling to is next weeks blog.  I agree that starting with your why is a key and most important first step in differentiating yourself in your business venture.

What is your why?  What dreams, aspirations and passions are inside of you that are driving you and inspiring you to create you business?

An example works well as to how this can work in a standard “sales commercial” used in most referral marketing venues. A client of mine has given me permission to share this.

“Recently, Sam shared why he got involved in the auto repair and service business. Because of his motivation to help others be safe in their cars and other vehicles, we have formed deep long lasting relationships with our customers.

I want to tell you a short story about what that means to them. Last weekend we went to the ninetieth birthday party for one of our customers. Sam went, his dad who created the business went along with a long term mechanic and myself.  Our customers daughter who created the party told the crowed room that all of us had touched the lives of her father and she hoped the same was true for us.  I can tell you that for me it certainly was.

The why of how our business was created is the desire to help others and keep them safe.  We just happen to be in the auto repair business.

We are looking to grow our business and we need your help.  Who do you know that wants to buy someone who will not just service their cars as a one time transaction, but wants someone who has their back to take care of their kids as they drive off to school for the first time or keep their aging but beloved commuter car in safe and reliable condition?”

If you live in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, you might want to check out Glenshaw Auto if this resonates with you and you need a great mechanic or even just tires or a battery.

What about you?

How likely are you to trust an auto service company in which four people are invited to a birthday party? Do your customers know why you do what you do?  Will they invite you to their ninetieth birthday party because you have touched their lives?  If an auto repair shop does this, what does that mean for financial advisors, insurance agents, bankers, lawyers and health providers. How much easier should it be for you to touch the lives of your customers.

Why are you in business?

Who do you spend time with?

September is back to school season and as we prepare for the fall, it is a good time to reflect on what do we need to re-learn ourselves.  One of the things that I have found over the years is that we become like the people that we hang out with.  If we want to be happy, then we should hang out with happy people. In fact, if we find out that we are not happy, then perhaps we are hanging out with the wrong people. So who do you spend time with?

I was at a forming “Mastermind” group in Cranberry Township on Tuesday with other business owners when one of the potential members quoted Jim Rohn “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  None of the potential members of the group was looking for referrals or networking, they were only looking for support – but what if you can get both in one place and what about your five top referral marketing partners – are the adding to your energy or detracting from it?

Finding support is often a difficult problem for small business owners.  I joined BNI as a strong contract referral network to help me grow my business by being in front of people that would likely be able to send me business as I would be able to send them business. I had no idea that what I bought into was a system designed to make me a better business owner.

What I found over the three years that I have been in a BNI chapter is that I have been exposed to a group of people that has the ability to give me ideas on how I can be better at my business because they are mostly people like me who are small business owners themselves.  And because BNI, like other category exclusive groups, prevents my competition from being in the room we can be more forthcoming about how we do business with one another.

The time we spend with one another is significant – because we meet outside of our ninety minute sales meeting each week to jointly plan how we can find business for one another.  If I am truthful with myself, I have to admit that if I was not doing that with other professionals, I would not do it myself.

When meeting with other people that are your virtual sales force there are a lot of things that you can ask of one another like:

  • How clear am I about what the benefit of working with me are?
  • What are people asking you about my services when you suggest that I might be able to help them with their business?
  • Who else should I be talking to about what I offer?
  • How understandable are my weekly sales presentations?

In our regular interactions we can also brainstorm common business problems like:

  • How do you handle customer complaints?
  • Where have you found sources of policies and procedures to use for your employee manuals?
  • What are you doing about 401k plans?
  • Who handles your social media?

By having one or two of these meetings each week we are able to be much better business owners. We get exposed to ideas that we never would have considered ourselves and our referral partners might have skills that we do not have ourselves.  In fact I find that it is useful for me to review my partners accomplishments, skills and outside interests when meet with them.  Once good thing to ask one another when you met, and it works at casual networking events is “what is the biggest challenge you are having with your business right now?”

If you are going to spend time with people like this on a regular basis then you better make sure that the people are positive and supportive.  When joining a strong contact group, make sure that the people in the room work with you to increase the energy that you have to perform well in your business not detract from it?

What about you? Who do you spend time with? Are they building you up – or are they tearing you down? If you are interested in visiting our BNI chapter and finding people that will build you up, please visit our Facebook page.

 

Social Media, Internet Marketing, Referral Marketing – oh my….

I get email promotions every day about how to be successful in the launching of my new business.  Most of these communications seem designed to leverage fear, uncertainty and doubt.  They are particularly aimed at baby boomers, employing the concept that we are too out of touch with today’s reality (read: stupid) to be able to come up with our own social media and internet marketing strategies. And honestly, until recently the only thing that I could do with SEO (Search Engine Optimization, the major enabler for Internet Marketing other than newsletters) is spell it correctly (admittedly sometimes a feat unto itself) but all that has changed…

Most boomers were taught to read when they went to school. I realize that today many question if that is still the case.  We were also taught to do research in Libraries, using the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature and a Card Catalogue.  When it came time to turn in term papers, we used manual typewriters and white out.  If were able to figure all that out with very little help from adults who raised us without sharing that they loved us “just the way we are” but having no compunctions admonishing that “we must be seen and not heard”, then surely we can figure out Facebook, Search Engine Optimization and how it fits in with what we were raised on which was Referral Marketing.

Readers of this blog know that I am all about authentic “empirical learning”.  One thing that I have learned and both Presidential candidates are re-learning, is do not give off the cuff remarks to anyone. Someone will see them and forward it on, re-tweet it, re-blog it, post it…and in the process, distort the original intent beyond belief. We learned this concept via the game of “telephone tag” and with the advent and prolific use of the Internet, it just becomes that much easier.

An example is an earlier blog entry in which I talked about the death of a great aunt and named her. As a result, two of the relatives of the person who took her life came out of the woodwork to process their own budding awareness of the event which occurred so long ago. This was unexpected, possibly bad but probably actually good, and most definitely, unintended. Key lesson to be learned: when writing blog entries it is best to stay on track with your message.

In reviewing the statistics on my nascent web site and blog, I see very little traffic. However it has led to business and referrals. Why? Because the people that have  visited were looking at the site because I, or someone that knows me, sent them there based on a conversation. It has, therefore, fulfilled my desire to describe who I am to others.  This effort of just getting a domain name along with the process of beginning to craft and share a message has been valuable to the few who have seen it. Yet in looking at the site stats, I came to two conclusions: 1.) I need a more effective SEO strategy, and 2.) I need  a Social media strategy that gets people to my site from Facebook and other social media sites.

There are numerous consultants out there that will charge $500 or more to put up a Facebook page, or you can buy a Facebook Marketing for Dummies Book for about $25 and start to play with it yourself. As in anything else in life, it is either time or money, a day of your time and a few dollars or paying someone else for their “expertise.” The question you should be asking is what you are going to do to the site tomorrow.  The net – net, as a work colleague of mine once said, is consistency. Interesting content to your target audience pushed out on a relatively constant schedule. Many sites that I have reviewed that people paid good money to have built unfortunately had no consistency and were not very interesting.

So, in order to build consistency, you need content. Even the most prolific of us sometimes simply have nothing to say. In such times (as often as they may occur), leveraging existing content that is consistent with your websites theme is a useful tactic. Repurposing of content, adding your own insight and perspective, can help get the message out to a broader readership base and is one of the main principles behind the staggering effectiveness of communication via the Internet today.  How do you find something to re-post or post? I use two tools, Google alerts and Stumbleupon (an iPad app – also a website).  I use both tools for key-worded items like “Encore Entrepreneurs”, “Pittsburgh Technology”, etc. for my alerts. I use topics like “Business”, “Computers”, and “Spirituality” from Stumbleupon.  I spend less than thirty minutes a day reviewing these alert emails. If I miss a day, I delete the alerts and move on. However the e-mails in my corporate Gmail account remind me to review what I might otherwise dismiss or forget. This can be very beneficial on the days that “life” happens and things just seem to get away from you. Another helpful tip is to use a separate email address to subscribe to the alerts to keep my primary business address cleaner.

This is also an effective way to understand some of what is interesting to your target market. Try sending out the content and see where it goes. If something gets “likes” and is reposted, it must have resonated. If not, then either no one is seeing it or it was simply not very interesting.  When I taught executives how to use a personal commuter in the 1980’s they were afraid to touch it, my children however mastered it in days when it was introduced to our home.  To learn new techniques as adults, we have to become like little children and play. Don’t be afraid to try something new or look stupid. You will learn from the process and be able to share how much smarter you are for the journey.

Once you have created a Facebook Page for your business, and made it public, that page gets picked up by search engines.  Perhaps you found this blog entry from my onCOREventures Facebook page. We will go deeper into Facebook strategy creation in a later post. I will deal with next step, Search Engine Optimization, in my next blog entry.

Thinking from the End

It might seem counter-intuitive, but when creating a start-up it is important to ask – what is my exit strategy?  Why?  Because without an exit strategy it is easy to never build value into your business venture.  Many people running small businesses complain that they wake up in the morning realizing that they are working for a tyrant – themselves.

Having an exit strategy allows the small business owner to always be aware of the value of his or her business.  It turns the business into an asset – making it possible to sell the business in the future.  This is especially true for Encore Entrepreneurs – who will want to sell their business when they finally are ready for the fourth stage of life – probably in their eighties as they finally “kick back” and relax and reprocess their long and fulfilling life as they prepare for their final transition.  Without this exit strategy planned into their business planning from the start – a late life business owner could really feel trapped in their business and regret their decision to start it as they toil day after day.

At onCOREventures in our Authentic Launch Process we validate business approaches at the first step of planning them. We work with our cleints to build in the exit from the beginning.  To do this, our Validation phase starts with Backroom Management Services “8 P’s” process in which we look at Purpose, Product, Price, Place, Promotion, Production, People and Profit. We then look at the underlying product assumptions and they are expanded into a fully operating company model including the definition of an exit plan for the business – how is value built with this venture launch?

We build this model from the assumptions on how the business will operate BEFORE we create all of the detailed business plans, launch plans and product creation steps.  Having this baseline look at how the business will function in terms that new business owners can understand allows us to alway come back to this baseline as we learn more and more about the business as we continue with the validation phase of our program.

However you decide to launch your afternoon of life business – make sure you know how you are getting out of it.  For a complimentary call to review your business ideas please contact me.