As my friend Kelvin likes to say, sometimes we’re more suited to offer someone else advice than remember how to use it for ourselves. Occasionally this happens to me, but at least I’m always ready to try something rather than just sit around wishing I had. However, this all starts with a story from some years ago.
Offline marketing with help
In a Facebook group, a lady was asking for advice on how to better offer her services, as she was self employed and was struggling to keep her business afloat. She owned, and still owns, a dance studio. She’d done a few things such as advertising in the newspaper and putting flyers up around town, and she also has a website. Continue reading →
On October 15th my wife and I participated in what was called Reinvention Weekend, which was hosted by Melinda Emerson, also known as the Small Biz Lady. We had a nice time and a great experience, and I decided I was going to write about it like I wrote about the Blogging While Brown conference. This means I’m going to give you the good and the bad of the entire weekend in story form; you’ve been warned! 🙂
Let me get this out of the way off the bat. My wife and I drove down from central New York to Alexandria VA, which was a 7 1/2 hour trip not counting stops. I woke up Friday morning, the 14th, feeling extremely dizzy. I was dizzy the entire weekend, although things started calming down late Sunday afternoon. Overall it didn’t stop much of what we did, although I did fall out of a chair once. I was fine when I was sitting but not standing up, which is why I could drive… as I didn’t tell my wife I was dizzy until we got to Virginia… like most males would have done.
The ride down was pretty wonderful for a couple of reasons.
One, the scenery was fantastic. Seems we picked the right weekend to be on the road, as the flora was absolutely stunning and eye popping, and fell apart pretty much the week after we got home.
Two, we got to stop at Exit 194 on Route 81 in Pennsylvania to visit the Krispy Kreme store, where they still make them before your eyes. Turns out my wife had never had one; what the hey?!?!? :-O In any case, she’s now had them, likes them, and I got to have 3 for the first time in 7 years, since we don’t have one here anymore; sniff!
We had to make a lot of detours on the trip because of construction, and let me just say that Google Maps is a lifesaver. We saw areas that I never knew existed, let alone ever thought about visiting, and let me say that small town America is still greatly intriguing… and scary! lol Because of the detours and such we had almost no gas when we got to the hotel, but leaving to go find gas wasn’t an option. That’s because it would have cost us $30 to leave the hotel and come back… as it was, we paid $34 for parking anyway.
Friday night was a meet and greet on the 15th floor of the hotel we stayed at, which was the Doubletree (lots of free cookies). They had a pasta bar where I asked for a mixture of red and white sauce along with both chicken and shrimp, topped off with bow tie pasta; that was the only real meal we ate the entire weekend, but it was wonderful. We talked to a couple of people and I went to introduce myself to Melinda… who didn’t know who I was at the time. lol Still, with all the people she knows and was meeting, I could forgive that. 🙂
Saturday morning we got downstairs about 12 minutes before the event began. There was a continental breakfast… something I almost never eat, so I went next door to the restaurant where they had a breakfast buffet. Frankly, the hot foods were kind of disgusting… how many people actually like their eggs swimming in water… at least that’s what I think it was. The bacon was good, but the sausage… ugh. So I ate mainly bacon, not having enough time for anything else, and my wife joined me at the last minute, which means breakfast cost us… $17.50 a person! Oh well, at least I had something to eat.
Me & Melinda
Then it was time to begin the event. We’d gotten seats in the back row because that’s how I roll. Melinda started things off by introducing the master of ceremonies for the day, a guy named Trevor Otts, who got things moving by ordering everyone to shake things up by moving their seats to the opposite side of the room and the opposite position of the room. In other words, I was supposed to move to the right side of the room and the front row. Y’all remember that dizzy thing I mentioned above? Well, moving wasn’t an option I was going to entertain, and neither did any of the other ladies to my left. lol
Next it was time for some panel discussions. I found both of them pretty intriguing, although I’m not gonna lie and say I remember everything we covered. However, since I like using Twitter and I’ll pop out quotes I find intriguing, I did share these thoughts with the people I’m connected to. Here’s those tweets, in order:
“Prospect for your business every single, dingle day.” – Dianna Geairn
“You must be able to articulate what you do from your customer’s point of view.” – Dianna Geairn
“If you’re a business owner you must be prospecting every day.” – Che Brown
“Do not sign anything without having a small business attorney look at it.” – Jennifer Abernathy
“Most small businesses forget it’s not about profit, it’s about cash.” – Barry Moltz
“There is no e-commerce, there’s only commerce.” – John Lawson
“If you’re going to use a virtual assistant, get a referral.” – Barry Moltz
“If you want someone good but have difficulty paying their rate cut back on the hours.” – Jennifer Abernathy
“Don’t grow yourself broke.” – Barry Moltz
“The foundation of a strong business is knowing why you’re in it” – Pamela Slim
“Calling on a prospect & not leaving a message is like knocking on a door & running away.” – Dianna Geairn
After the two panel discussions, we had a boxed lunch which was okay, though I almost thought about going back to the expensive room for a better meal. However, it was only a 30-minute break before it was time to go into the breakout sessions. My wife & I were separated at this point, as the presentation I was going into was about sales and marketing, led by Trevor Otts and Che Brown.
This was a lot of great information and I started getting pumped a little bit. It was so much info that I couldn’t capture it all. I only got to tweet a few things from their presentation, which lasted almost 2 hours, but I took a lot of notes, which I’m going to share with you to see how much I remembered.
1. Work to monetize knowledge.
The premise of this was that most of us who are independent business people try to physically make money by working with clients to provide services based on the knowledge we have, but that’s actually the incorrect start to one’s business model. Instead, we should try to market our knowledge by product creation, something Donna Merrill recently talked about on her blog.
In essence, a better way to go is by thinking of what we do as a circle and based on a circular model (see #2 below). Trevor used a “getting healthy” analogy to help explain the theory:
a. Do it yourself; write a book, create a product, and market that to people looking for knowledge and want to try to do it for themselves;
b. Do it with you; set up things like group coaching, webinars, exercise classes, speaking engagements and such, where you can reach lots of people at once. It’s easy to put together things like this, some of which you don’t even have to leave your house to do.
c. Done for you; this is where you get into the true consulting or one-on-one piece, where you can charge the most amount of money to people. That’s because this phase takes a lot more of your time so you get to decide how much your time is worth… and make sure you charge high enough to show its value.
d. System/subscription based services. The analogies used for this one were Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, where people subscribe and pay monthly for continuing education. This model takes time to set up, but once you’ve got it going it’s a recurring cash register, even if you need to continually add new information.
2. You don’t need unlimited numbers of customers; you only need 100.
You might not remember when I talked briefly about the concept of 100 true fans in the article I just linked to. I’ve talked about this for years after reading it in a newsletter way back in the day. This was another concept Trevor talked about, and it was pretty intriguing.
In essence, he said that once you determine how much money you’d like to make in a year, double that amount and think about how much you’d need 100 people to pay you to reach it. Say you wanted to make $150K a year; double it to $300K. This means that if you only had 100 true fans you need to make $3,000 a year from each of them at a minimum.
The basic idea is to find those people who you know are truly interested in what you have to market to them, where they’re as passionate about something as you are. Think only about those people because they’re your true life’s blood. Everything you do, everything you sell, is because of these 100 people.
The thing is, even if you’re only concentrating on 100 people, other people will come to you, either because you’ve enthused the 100 enough so that they’ll bring in new people or, probably because of your social media presence (yeah, you need some of that) or your marketing skills (how good are you on the phone?) you can only increase the numbers while you’re increasing the value of your products and services.
You’re probably wondering how you can keep creating things… well, this is addressed in #3…
3. “Turn a problem into a product.” – Trevor Otts
Here Trevor used the analogy of smartphones. Smartphones were created to address a lot of issues many of us had while in the phone that took multiple products: GPS, notepads, address books, etc. They were very helpful, but of course there were things that needed to be created around them.
For instance, we needed ways to charge our phones in the car. We needed carrying cases and protective cases for our phones. We needed ways to speak on our phones wirelessly; on and on. If you’re the one who creates the product that solves people’s problems, they’re always going to need something new to solve a problem that the one you solved creates… thus, we’re back to our circular business model. Isn’t that cool!
4. “People like people that are just like them.” – Che Brown
I don’t want to leave Che out because he said a lot of good stuff as well. For instance, he said that a big problem most people make for themselves is going to networking events and start trying to sell to people, most of whom are trying to get away from you because they came for their own reasons. Instead, he advocated what he calls “permission based sales” processes, which begins by thinking of a model of asking people’s permission for their time, often at a later date, where you can talk to them about their business.
Because that’s the second problem people make, both during networking and during sales calls or meals, that being to make the pitch instead of finding out more about the needs of a potential customer. The idea is to not be pushy, but to listen, ask questions, think about things and then ask permission to discuss their issue or offer them potential solutions. It not only goes over better but it adds to the circle theorem of business. After all, if you can make personal connections with your clients and help them solve their problems, not only will they appreciate it more but they’ll probably continue to be customers of yours.
Once the breakout sessions ended, we all met back up in the big room where we were treated to some absolutely wonderful cupcakes because it was Melinda’s birthday. Then it was time for another round of breakout sessions, and this time my wife and I got the opportunity to hear straight from Melinda herself.
Once again I’m not gonna lie. I knew all the stuff as it pertains to social media. Luckily she talked about more than that, including her background, all the years she’s been in business and some of the struggles and successes she’s had. She’s a very engaging presenter and I was glad to be sitting there with my wife, who felt inspired as she admitted while we were on the road heading towards home.
I found myself feeling a bit more of a spark, which is the reason I decided to drive down there in the first place. Sometimes we feel like we’re either on a treadmill or walking through the La Brea tarpits, thinking we’re doing a lot to work towards our goals but feeling like we’re not really getting anywhere. This is how I’ve been feeling lately, so I knew I needed the jump start that Melinda and friends provided.
Then it was time for a group picture, and it was during this period that I went to sit on my chair, barely made it and toppled over. I didn’t hurt myself, and only 3 people, which included my wife, saw me do it. But that was kind of cool, even though there was no way I was ever going to fit into the t-shirt they gave all of us. lol
After her presentation there was going to be a 45-minute Q&A, but we decided it was time for us to leave because we had a long drive. We had a nice and inspiring conversation with each other as we were coming back towards home as I shared things with her that I heard and she shared some things with me.
Was it worth going? Absolutely! Would I go again? Well… I’m hoping I won’t have to! 🙂 Right now I’m feeling pretty good, and I’ve been thinking about what I want to do next regarding my business and business model. I’ve love to be really busy next year around this same time, making so much money that I wouldn’t have to go again unless I was achieving so much that I was asked to be a presenter (which won’t happen since I believe they already have 2017 booked lol). If you’re thinking about it for next year, you can look on Melinda’s website, which I gave the link to in the first paragraph, for more information.
That’s all I’ve got. What do you think? What more would you like to know? Since I’m a lousy closer, let me introduce and link to the other people’s Twitter accounts who presented:
Often on this blog, and in comments I make on other blogs, I talk about the concept of engagement. I use this term when I’m talking about meeting people and networking on social media because I tend to believe that it’s the most important thing anyone could ever do online.
What do I mean by engagement? Overall I believe it means that you have to either talk to somebody every once in a while or actually comment on something so that if either the person who generated a topic of conversation responds to you or possibly someone else sharing that information responds to you, that other people who may see it after the fact might respond to you.
This doesn’t mean that if you put something out first that you have to actually add something extra to it to get people to talk to you. As a matter of fact, other than blogging, even though you’re hoping that people will respond to things you put out that are original, the reality is that, for the majority of us, more people will respond to things that other people initially put up that we share.
Let me give you some examples.
On Twitter, I like to share different things that people post. Sometimes those things are a retweet from someone else. When it’s a retweet, I try to do what I can to get the name of the person I’m connected to who is retweeting the item into the tweet. If there is no room for me to make a separate comment then at least I’m acknowledging the person who I’m connected to and in my own way thanking them for sharing that information.
Also, at least half the times that I retweet something I will add a / and then comment after it. The person I’m retweeting will definitely know that I’ve commented on what they shared, and it’s my hope that other people will recognize that extra comment as mine.
By doing each of these actions, every once in a while someone will start talking to me. Whenever someone talks to me first I always respond, although I don’t get that back all the time. Still, at least the attempt has been made to get to know someone better and to generate conversation. Thus, the beginning of engagement.
As it regards Google Plus, I try to do the same type of thing even though it’s slightly different. Sometimes I just comment on what someone puts up. Other times I’ll reshare it, and when I do that I always have a comment before I share the item.
What sometimes happens is that people will come by after seeing I shared their item and give me a +1. Every once in a while they may thank me for sharing the item. Most of the time if I at least comment on the original they may just say thank you or they may start a conversation with me. That’s actually what I’m shooting for because, once again, I tend to believe that engagement is the key to getting to know one another. That’s what true networking is all about.
The last one I’m going to touch upon is blogging. If you read this blog often enough you know that I am always saying that you should respond to comments. I also say that there are times when people leave lousy comments, or comments that there’s really nothing to respond to.
There’s someone who’s been leaving comments on this blog that, by the time this article goes live, I’ve either started to delete or the types of comments have changed, where the words “thanks for the informative post” are in every single comment. Even though my name is used, since there’s never anything else that’s new it looks like a spam type of comment.
Engagement begins when someone leaves a comment and mentions at least one thing in the article or addresses at least one thing that was in the article that either they want to agree with, disagree with, or specifically say whatever they want to about it. Without addressing anything that’s either in the post, or give a point of view on something that’s related to the article, or even telling a story that the article reminds you of, you have lost your opportunity for any kind of engagement and look like you’re just trying to get a backlink.
Maybe I’m just being a bit pigheaded when it comes to this concept of engagement, so I’ll ask you. Do you write your blog, or produce anything else that you send out to the masses, hoping for engagement, or just because you want to talk to yourself out loud and hope others will check it out? If you don’t want to engagement, then how do you know they’re even reading anything you put out? If you don’t care then it’s no big deal. If you do care, then you have to follow the concept of giving to get.
Some of you know I own a blog about financial stuff. Some of you also know I used to accept guest posts on that blog, but ended it last December after being bothered by the types of requests I was getting, the lousy editing and, well, just the time it was taking away from doing other stuff.
Even though I still get those requests, I can easily deflect them. However, if the offers are good, I still entertain letters about advertising, although so far I haven’t found any of them to be up my alley. I’m just not going to allow links or banner ads to any businesses or companies that aren’t aligned with finance on that site; that’s the smart way to do business right?
One type of email I get, that most people get, is the form letter. You know it, where you see the same language all the time, the lies about how they’re impressed with your site, yada yada.
One rule I’ve always had, even with the guest posts, is if my name isn’t in the email I ignore it and move on. When I was accepting guest posts, if I got a second email I’d write back quickly informing them that they hadn’t read the guest posting policy; yup, I had one of those, fairly extensive. Nowadays I’ll ignore that second email and move on with life.
Well, the other day I got a third email from someone. However, in both the second email and the third, instead of writing something new, and still not having my name anywhere in it, the emails said “contacting you again; see message below.”
Since I got a third email from the guy, I decided to write him back. This is what I wrote:
I’m responding to this email because it seems ignoring it hasn’t taught anything.
Yes, I saw the other emails. Why have I ignored them? Because every single email is proof that you or nobody else who works with you has ever visited my website. If you had you’ve have seen that I have a name, I have an about page and I have an advertising policy.
Frankly, it’s always been my assumption that if people who say they want to work for me show that they’re too lazy to look at anything on the site that I don’t trust them to keep their word on anything they have to say, thus I’m not working with them. I’m only writing you because you’ve sent this more than once.
If you’re actually representing the company you state you are, you’re doing it poorly. Maybe you’ll treat your job and give the people you hope to work with a bit more respect after this email. In any case, at this juncture I’m not interested. I wish you well as you pursue your career, hopefully with a bit more circumspection on how to contact potential customers and partners.
Was that too harsh? I didn’t think so, and I actually felt it was a good lesson that might help make this guy a little bit better at what he does and how he works.
Y’all know I’m an independent consultant in health care. Because I can’t call all the hospitals within a 7-state radius all that often I have a set of marketing letters to help introduce myself to the people I need to talk to.
What I have done is researched every hospital I wanted to send something to and found the names of the people in the position, as well as the actual title they hold, and that goes on the letters I send out; almost never email. I do that because I know if a letter is a bit more personal there’s a better chance it’ll at least be opened, and hopefully read. I also try to mention something about the hospital that I’ve learned that might flatter them in some fashion, such as acknowledging a new service they have or an award they’ve recently won.
Sometimes you get a name wrong because, in health care, people move around pretty fast. But that’s not a big deal because you’ll get the correct name when you follow up by phone. And that’s interesting because at least someone will talk to you, maybe not your intended target, if you have a name.
It’s just lazy marketing if you don’t try to find out someone’s name, or if you haven’t even looked at the website or blog of a person or business to see if maybe the information you’re looking for is there already.
Add this to the process of networking, where you reach out to someone without even attempting to know something about them. At many networking events I go to people only talk about themselves, and are pushing their business card at you before they’ve even told you their name. Sometimes I don’t even reciprocate by giving my card out because I know this is someone who could care less about me. Who wants to spend money, or sometimes even make money, working with someone who doesn’t care about you in the least?
Am I in the wrong here? Am I not being forgiving enough to those who obviously don’t know any better? Or do you see where I’m going, what I’m saying, and possibly agree? Let me know, and thanks for reading.
Y’all know I’ve talked about being influential in the past. I need to talk about it more because, as I always say, the more influence one has the better opportunity one has to make money and make a difference. There’s nothing wrong with either so if your mind is in that place leave it immediately and never go back there.
A couple of days ago I was watching a video of Marie Forleo’s, and if you’re looking to grow your business and also need boosts of positivity you have to check out her video page on YouTube, which I check into often. She was interviewing a lady named Sally Hogshead, who has a business that teaches people how to evaluate how fascinating they are and how to become more fascinating in the eyes of others.
Now, initially that can sound strange until you hear her talk about it. In essence she sees the topic of fascination as a way to be in people’s minds so that you’re the only thing they can think about at certain times, if not all the time. It’s kind of like the fascination people have with certain musicians or actors or models. Her premise is that everyone is born being fascinating but over time we start to diminish ourselves, either by our own means or by listening to the words of others. Then when we need to be more fascinating, such as those of us who work for ourselves, it’s hard to turn back on. So she teaches people how to recapture that and gives 7 triggers to getting there in her latest book which is called Fascinate.
Here’s where things get interesting. One of the things she said in the video, which I’m putting at the bottom of this post, is that we need to look at ourselves and determine how other people see us, then figure out how to be more fascinating. My interpretation on this is that we do this to either try to figure out how to impress those people enough to want to hang onto our every word or buy from us or to even like us.
In other words, self reflection time; scary isn’t it? I’ve written on this blog & another blog that one thing most people hate to do is self evaluation. It’s scary because we’re all critical about ourselves and find it hard to find or talk about the good things that are within us. We’re not smart enough or tall enough or pretty enough or anything enough; isn’t that how it goes? Sure, every once in awhile we start feeling special, and yet it’s not often that many of us can sustain this. And that’s a shame.
If I had to go first, and I do since I’m writing this, I’d have to admit that more often than not I’m not feeling fascinating at all. I’m certainly not feeling influential. And yet, a few days ago I went to another local event where bloggers in the area got together and talked and networked, and I had a great time. Not only that but I can truthfully say that I felt a lot of people enjoyed my company and were happy to see and meet me. Heck, I got hugs all around; what’s better than that?
And yet, there are other meetings I go to where I feel like I’m the pariah in the room. Sally actually mentioned in the video that people get feelings from others and often ignore them in one direction or the other, but that we really do know what we’re feeling. Trust me on this one, often in my professional networking ventures I feel like people are working hard “not” to see me. That’s disconcerting and bothersome, and I either react by leaving pretty quickly or looking hard to find someone I know well enough to hang with. That means I don’t meet as many new people as one would hope, thus limiting the possibilities of being influential in any way or even attempting to be fascinating.
That’s part of the key, isn’t it? If one demures and doesn’t say anything, how will anyone even have the opportunity to see if you’re fascinating or not? For all the stories I have and the experiences I’ve been a part of, if I keep them all to myself who would ever find out if I was someone worthy of knowing? For that matter how could I ever determine whether I was fascinating or not, or what I might need to change? Blogging’s a nice thing, but is it enough to express oneself? Not in public it isn’t.
Enough about me; your turn. Do you think you’re fascinating? If so, why, and if not, why. What holds you back and what are you willing to do to try to break out of it? As you’re reading this I’m in the middle of 5 videos in 5 days, an experiment I’m trying out. My attempt at opening up some, being more personable, seeing if I can be fascinating or if I’m just goofy. You can check them out here if you have the guts. lol Meanwhile, check out the video below; both of these ladies are fascinating: