Last week I poked some fun at Zombies and the poor people burdened by Hexes. I told you that you had to do something, anything to avoid becoming either. As much as I like to poke fun, this week I thought some ideas of where to start might be more constructive.
This is by no means a complete guide. Let’s call it a stake in the ground. A brainstorming session if you will. I will touch on each quickly, but these and other tactics will come up often in future posts.
“Somethings” for the Techies
The good news is that if you are technically savvy, inventive and willing to put in the sweat equity, you can do things today that were only reserved for large corporations or the insanely rich.
Blogging: It is a great exercise. It allows you to really think about what your readers (e.g. prospects/customers) need. By trial and error (watch those stats!), you begin to really know the reader. The better you get at this craft; the more people listen. The more they listen, the more likely that when they or someone they know has a need, you will be the person/company they call on/refer. Be charitable with your blog. Don’t sell people on your business. Give them information and advice they need about your industry or craft, even if they are your competition. Be a thought leader and the rest will follow. Tip: Pick a schedule and stick to it. Write (or at least plan topics) at minimum 4-6 weeks out, then you won’t be scrambling the day before your scheduled post to get it done.
eCommerce: If you are like me (and lots of people my age or younger are), you buy much of what you want online. Why? Time! Forget gold, platinum or lithium, time is the most precious element of all today. It has never been less expensive than it is right now to implement e-commerce, with Shopify, Magento and even some great WordPress plugins, a tech savvy business owner can do it themselves. Or, your developer should be able to do it at a price that makes the ROI a no brainer. Tip: An online store is still a store! Remember, when you sell tangible goods online, you still may need to have some brick and mortar support for fulfillment. Whether a spare bedroom, a storage unit or a 75,000 Ft. warehouse; you need some kind of storage/shipping to support your store. Do your research, start small – think about and have larger space/workforce lined up for when you grow.
Social Media: Do you have a Facebook Business page? Twitter Account? Linked in Business page? Google Plus? Pinterest? Tumbler? Yelp!? Do you really need them all? Probably not, but depending on the type of business you are and the customer you are trying to reach, you probably need some of them. Do you have a business that would benefit from a discussion board; would social media enhancements to your existing site help you better engage you’re your customers, your industry? Like blogging, these are all high sweat equity solutions that can be very effective if done well. TIP: You have to do them well and be diligent about the doing! New Media takes loads of time investment and is momentum driven. You lose interest in generating valuable content for your audience – they lose interest in you before you hit post on your last half-hearted effort.
“Somethings” for Everyone
Not too savvy with the interwebs? There are some traditional tactics that still have some steam in them – especially for the right business. You just have to do them better (i.e. smarter) than you did before:
Prospect Networking: People do business with people they like. Nothing is going to change this no matter how impersonal business seems to be getting. Think about it, social media is just a different take on this age-old concept. Use your networking bandwidth as the limited asset that it is. Don’t network just for the sake of networking, if you have nothing to offer but a nice smile, firm handshake and a product they don’t need – then stay home (maybe work on your blog?). In today’s business environment, people still do business with people they like, but only if they truly bring value. Tip: Do this in a selfless manner! Join and contribute time to associations related to your clients’ industries. Become well versed in what they do, learn about the problems they face; tailor your offerings to solve their problems. Be a thought leader to your prospects/customers!
Peer Networking: Are you a member of the National Association of Widget Peddlers? Should you be? Some businesses feel threatened by having open dialogue with competitors. Whenever possible, I prefer to have friendly competition rather than bitter rivalry and, guess what? You might actually learn something. Getting involved with associations and clubs related to your craft is a great way to stay abreast of the latest developments in your industry. You are an expert in what you do, right? The annual fees are usually offset by member benefits (shipping discounts, free continuing education, etc.). Tip: If you join, be active! Serve on a committee, contribute to the blog or website, be a mentor to a new member/business. Be a thought leader to your peers!
In-Line Connecting: John needs widgets and your friend Sally happens to be at the top of the widget game. Put them together. Some might argue that this is just networking. Many of us have experience the referral groups that try to institutionalize this process. It isn’t a quick fix and you don’t meet once a week with 30 strangers to do it. It is who you are and what you do whenever the need arises – and, if your smart, you do it out of the kindness of your own heart, not for an obligatory reciprocation.
I have always been blessed with a natural inclination toward connecting people – I love it! Before I knew it and almost by accident, I was part of a large, tightly knit network of talented people. I am never without an outstanding resource when I am looking for something and whenever one of my contacts knows someone in need of my services, I get a look at the project. Can’t afford to hire a sales force? Then you can’t afford not to practice In-Line Connecting. Tip: Don’t expect anything for it! This is not that quid pro quo thing you learned in your last sales training and don’t make it that. Learn to enjoy this for what it is, a good deed. I promise you won’t be sorry and you will be pleasantly surprised how far people will go to help you out when you are in need.
Branding: Does the brand strategy you started with fit with what your company is today? Do you even have a brand strategy? Are you proud of the business card you hand out? Your website? Well, you really should be. If it is in your budget, consult with a firm about your branding. Right or wrong, appearance is important. You’re asking people to give you their hard earned money and, more importantly, provide products or services they may need to depend on – look the part. Tip: you get what you pay for – hire the best agency you can afford! Find a reputable agency or individual. Ask to see their previous work and be sure it is relevant to your needs. Ask your new peer networking friends for recommendations (it is ideal to find someone experienced with your industry). If you are having them do web development, be sure you see live sites they worked on. Ask them if they can provide references of current/past clients.
More to come
I can keep going, and will, just not today. Check back or subscribe for more on the above and other topics. Also, look for my forthcoming new section called DIY Marketing (launches February 19th). It will include ideas, links, tutorials and other resources for the marketer in all of us.