Create an Identity for Your Businessstring(36) "Create an Identity for Your Business"


Creating a strong and distinct identity for your business is of paramount importance in today’s competitive landscape.
Your business identity goes beyond your logo and brand colors; it’s about the image you project, how you position yourself, and the lasting impression you leave on your target audience. Jeff Davidson, the author of “Marketing on a Shoestring,” aptly notes that we are living in the age of the image, and the impact of your business’s image is undeniable. Your success, regardless of the size of your business, heavily depends on how you position yourself and what you project.

The concept of positioning was popularized in the early 1980s by Al Ries and Jack Trout. They astutely pointed out that in today’s over-communicated society, very little communication actually takes place. To break through the noise and create a lasting impression, a company must create a unique position in the minds of their target audience, recognizing that the most effective communication occurs when optimally placed and timed.

Being the “first” is one of the most effective ways to establish a position in someone’s mind. Think about Neil Armstrong – he was the first person to walk on the moon, a fact that is universally recognized. However, try naming any of the astronauts who walked on the moon during subsequent NASA missions, and you’ll likely draw a blank. This demonstrates the power of being the first – it’s memorable and enduring.

When you effectively position your business, you save time and resources because your message is clear and others quickly understand what your company represents and offers. Every networking encounter, advertisement, message, employee, and every square inch of your office space should contribute to delivering a consistent and memorable theme to your target market.

The identity you develop for your business should be unique and tailored to your specific goals and values. You might aim to become a leader in a burgeoning industry or a compelling alternative to the established giants. Your business might be known for being open 24/7, or it could be an exclusive, by-appointment-only establishment. In today’s fast-paced, swiftly changing, and highly competitive environment, creating a distinctive identity isn’t just a choice; it is a necessity for survival and growth.
Positioning can help you create an identity and maintain a secure spot in the minds of those you wish to serve.

Start by Answering Three Fundamental Questions

  1. What You’re Going to Be
    Define your core purpose and values. What is your business all about? What do you stand for, and what are your long-term goals?
  2. What You’re Going to Offer
    Be clear about the products or services you provide. What makes them unique or better than the competition? What problems do they solve for your customers?
  3. To Whom You’re Going to Offer It
    Identify your target audience. Who are the people or organizations that will benefit the most from what you offer? What are their needs, preferences, and pain points?

Once you have a clear vision of these aspects, you can begin crafting your business’s identity. This identity should permeate every facet of your business, from your marketing materials and website to your interactions with customers and employees. Consistency is key.

Immerse yourself in learning about creating a business identity, brand, and image. Carve out time each day to explore this topic further. There is a wealth of valuable information available online – articles and blog posts, books and courses. The more you educate yourself on the subject, the more equipped you’ll be to define and communicate your business’s identity effectively.

Creating a strong and memorable identity for your business is a crucial element in your journey to success. Your identity sets you apart, communicates your value, and leaves a lasting impression. Take the challenge to delve into the process of identity creation for your business. Start by answering the three foundational questions and dedicating time to research and learning. Within a week, you’ll likely find yourself equipped with a clear answer about your business’s identity that you can confidently share with others.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing is Always Working

Word-of-Mouth Marketing is Always Workingstring(41) "Word-of-Mouth Marketing is Always Working"

You’re getting word-of-mouth marketing every day. Even if you think, “I’m not asking anybody to refer to me, so I don’t need to concern myself with this. If I provide good products or services, I’ll naturally get some customers by word of mouth. Why bother with plans and strategies? I’m getting free word of mouth advertising every day, and it’s not costing me any time or effort.”

Word-of-mouth marketing is always working, you ARE getting it every day. It just may not be the kind you’re thinking of. Unbeknownst to you, the message people are hearing about your business may be vague, not too clear. It may even be – negative.

Satisfied Customers are Good, Right?

“How can my word of mouth be negative? I have plenty of satisfied customers.” Yes, we business professionals are very grateful for our satisfied clients. However, they may not be the ones doing the most talking. The demanding, unreasonable customer who left your establishment very unhappy and less than satisfied, is probably going to talk loudly and for a long time.

One study revealed that the average dissatisfied customer complains to eleven people about their experience, and those eleven each tell five others. That is an average of sixty-six people hearing ‘horror’ stories about someone’s unhappy trip to your store.

Does your average happy client make sure that sixty-six other people know about your great service and products? It sure would make business easier if they did.

Is it Positive AND Accurate?

Positive word of mouth that is inaccurate or aimed at the wrong target market may be as detrimental to your business as the negative type. If someone gets the mistaken idea that you’re in the trucking business when you actually sell trucks, they may get aggravated and frustrated enough while straightening out an honest misunderstanding that it costs you future business and referrals. Similarly, if your focus is on high quality and someone is promoting you as a low-cost provider, unrealistic expectations are created.

It is important that your marketing message be conveyed accurately and that your prospects know what to expect. It is a lot easier to exceed the customer’s expectations if those expectations are realistic.

Is it Vague and Misleading?

Even without the occasional disgruntled ex-customer, your word of mouth may be too vague to be of any use. For example, you are a tailor, and one of your clients is talking about you with their friend. “Good tailor, eh? What do they do besides alterations? Do they do reweaving?” If your client is unable to answer those questions, the message is too vague to get results.

Or it may be misleading. “Well, they have a full lineup of men’s clothing, but I don’t know if they do custom tailoring or alterations. It may all be ready-to-wear.” The uncertainty can create doubts, again costing you the referral.

Without a strategic plan, you have very little control of what’s being said about you. Without a way to measure the results of your word-of-mouth marketing, you have no idea if it’s really working for your business.

Good customer service is important because it reduces negative word of mouth. However, by itself, good customer service won’t generate enough positive word of mouth to build your business. Word-of-mouth marketing is always working. Make sure it is working FOR you rather than against you.

What is your experience with positive word-of-mouth marketing? Share how it has helped your business in the comments.

converting prospects into customers

Converting Prospects Into Customersstring(35) "Converting Prospects Into Customers"

Your referral source has done her job and emailed you a referral. If she is a BNI member, she passed you the referral via BNI Connect. Now it’s time to contact the prospect. But be careful: The purpose of your first contact call is not to make a sale or even ask the prospect if he has questions about your business. If, and only if, the prospect asks, should you present your products or services during this first contact call. Remember, when converting prospects into customers, you must first build a relationship. It may take a while, but if you follow these recommendations, you’ll speed up the process of closing the deal.

Do your homework.

First, contact the referral source who passed you the referral. Ask the referral source for any relevant information. As we are currently practicing physical distancing globally and working from home, the first contact meeting cannot be a face-to-face meeting at this time. Instead, the preferred format for this first meeting is to do a video conference call. However, ask the referral source to contact the prospect on your behalf to determine if the prospect wants to be contacted by you via telephone or video conference call for the first call.

If the prospect prefers this first contact call to be a telephone call, do not delay. Make your first contact telephone call with the prospect within 72 hours.

If the prospect prefers this first contact call to be an online video conference call, send an email to the prospect requesting possible dates, times, and their preferred video call platform (Facetime, Zoom, MS Teams, Gotowebinar, etc..). Please confirm the time zone if the prospect if not living in your area.

If the referral source can be present, invite the referral source to attend this video conference call with you and the prospect. This way, the referral source can introduce you in person to the prospect at the start of the video call with a more thorough briefing about you, your business and your products or services.

First Contact Telephone Call / Online Video Conference Call

Before the first contact call, look up the website and the various social media pages for the prospect’s business for additional information. Review their website to understand their business better. Use these sources of information to get to know the prospect better and to prepare questions to ask about them on the first contact call.

Reminder: The purpose of your first contact call is not to make a sale or even ask the prospect if he has questions about your business. If, and only if, the prospect asks, should you present your products or services during this first contact call.

The purpose of the first contact call is to:

  • Begin to build the relationship;
  • Get to know the prospect better;
  • Help the prospect get to know you better;
  • Find out how you can help them;
  • Position yourself to make your next contact; and
  • Judge if the prospect fits your source’s description of her.

You’ve Got Mail

Within 24 hours after the first contact call, it is recommended to email the prospect with a summary of the call, fun facts about the prospect, any information requested by the prospect, a brief note of gratitude, the next steps, and your contact information.

When you start composing your email, start by naming your referral source–a name the prospect will recognize.

Writing this email gives you a better, more controlled opportunity to convey what you’ve learned about the prospect. It helps develop your relationship to let your prospect know you find him interesting enough to have taken the time to learn a few facts about him. Express an interest in meeting him again, and advise him you’ll be calling to schedule a mutually convenient appointment for the next online video conference call.

Do not attach and send your business literature with this email unless requested by the prospect. This will avoid giving the impression that you’re interested in him primarily as a prospective customer.

Make the Call

Give the prospect a week to process this email before you follow up with a telephone call. When you telephone the prospect, ask if he has any questions from the first contact call. Plus, offer to send more information via postal mail. If the prospect indicates that he would want this, send it right away. Finally, schedule a second video conference call while on this telephone call. Hopefully soon, we will once again be able to meet people face-to-face again.

Following Up When Converting Prospects Into Customers

When building relationships, it’s always important not to let much time lapse without following up on the first contact. Within two to three days of the follow-up telephone call, you should send your prospect a note via postal mail expressing your pleasure in communicating with him. It’s still too early, though, to automatically send business literature unless requested above or to make any move toward sales promotion.

So follow up early, but don’t push beyond the prospect’s comfort level. Once the prospect has expressed an interest in your products or services, you can provide information about them, but don’t force it on him. Continue presenting your products or services, but avoid the hard sell. Focus on fulfilling his needs and interests. Your goal should be to keep your prospect aware of your business without annoying him.

If you have prepared your referral sources well, your efforts may pay off on your very first call. Most often, the prospect from a referral will need more time. Many people were financially affected by the changes from the viral outbreak. Therefore, this may not be the ideal time for them to hire you for your services. They may express an interest in talking later about your products or services and hiring you when the situation improves. Be patient when converting prospects into customers.

Ivan’s Inner Circle

Tomorrow is the Unveiling of Ivan’s Inner Circlestring(50) "Tomorrow is the Unveiling of Ivan’s Inner Circle"

Ivan’s Inner Circle is addressing both of these pain points because I will be your mentor. I will teach everything I have learned over the past 30+ years in networking and referral generation, and our technology partner at Synduit will become the only marketing software you need to build and implement your marketing plan for the entire year. I have not been this excited in years because the impact that all of us will produce together will be seismic in the world, and it will also take your franchise to the next level while supporting all of your members as well.

The more I think about this launch, the more I realize how vital this program is to the success of small business owners and franchisers. Networking, referral generation, and marketing have become somewhat of a lost art and nearly every marketing software that I have ever seen is too complicated for the everyday user.

I am ready to share Ivan’s Inner Circle with you and anyone else you decide to invite during our official unveiling tomorrow – Tuesday, March 26 at 12 pm ET (9 am PT).

If you have not done so, please make sure to register here: https://tribe.synduit.com/IvanInnerCircle0001

Inner Circle

Be a Part of my Inner Circlestring(28) "Be a Part of my Inner Circle"

Networking, referral generation, and emotional intelligence still aren’t taught in colleges and universities and nearly every marketing software system that I have ever seen is too complicated for the everyday user. For the past decade I have been thinking about building an environment where I could easily share the top lessons and skills I have acquired on networking, referral marketing, time management, and scaling a company with a select inner circle.  I am pleased to say that I found the perfect partner to make these lessons an absolute game-changer for business people.

Ivan’s Inner Circle

I am really excited, because after 10-years of contemplating this idea, my friends at Synduit have developed a program they call “Ivan’s Inner Circle” which will officially launch on Tuesday, March 26 at 12 pm ET (9 am PT) during a FREE live webinar and Q&A.

I will be your mentor. I will teach everything I have learned over the past 30+ years in networking and referral generation. Our technology partner will become the only marketing software you need to build and implement your marketing plan for the entire year. Allow me to mentor you on networking, referral generation, and marketing with the simplest marketing software for your business that you will ever find.

Who’s in Your Network?

The first webinar topic is: “Who’s in Your Network?”  It is a spin on the content from Who’s in Your Room? but it is specifically aimed at BNI members and networking. Please invite other business people you know to this experience too.

I invite you to please join me by registering here: https://tribe.synduit.com/IvanInnerCircle0001

I have not been this excited in a long time, and I am eager for you to take part in this monumental launch of “Ivan’s Inner Circle”.

EMAIL SIGNATURE

Include a P.S. In Your Email Signaturestring(38) "Include a P.S. In Your Email Signature"

In our latest book, Networking Like a Pro 2nd Edition, Brian Hilliard, the co-author of our book discusses making a brief addition—a P.S. message—to your email signature. It is easy but is not used very often. At the end of your automated signature, include something like this:

P.S. A great referral for me would be someone who brings in speakers for their organization. If you know someone who needs a speaker in the areas of Marketing, Mindset, and Personal Achievement, I’d appreciate it if you mention my name. Thanks!

A message very similar to that goes out on all of the emails from Brian Hilliard. The number of referrals those simple words generate is surprising.

If you really want to kick it up a notch, then consider changing your message every two or three months. This can be especially useful for people who work in industries that are seasonal. In March, you’re asking for one type of referral, and then in June, you’re mentioning a different one. Furthermore, this helps keep your message fresh and gets people to pay attention to your email signature!

Referrals do not happen overnight. Referrals take a great deal of time and thought. It takes a good bit of energy put toward deepening the relationships of those around you. When you get organized and structure your referral-generating activities into a formalized strategy like we outlined above, you will absolutely find an increase in referral-based business. Good luck!

Ignorance Fire

Is Ignorance on Fire Ever a Good Thing?string(39) "Is Ignorance on Fire Ever a Good Thing?"

Ignorance on fire

The following video is part of my new “Ivanism” Garage to Global series, hosted by Entrepreneur.com, where I expand on catch phrases I have used frequently over the years.

 

I know, it’s a strange concept: “Ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice.”

Most people read that statement and think, someone who’s excited but ignorant can do more harm than good.

I’m here to tell you that the opposite of your intuition is true. That’s right–and you’ll see why below.

 

Introducing Garage to Globalstring(28) "Introducing Garage to Global"

Garage to Global

What does it take to start a home-based business and turn it into a global organization?  I am sharing the many lessons I’ve learned to do just that.

In 1985, I started a small business from my home in Southern California.  Today, BNI has ovBNI Member Growth Through 2014er 7,400 locations in more than 65 countries around the world (see the member growth chart to the right).

From business networking to management, scaling a business, and surrounding yourself with good people, I will be sharing with you the secrets for building a global brand.

Go here and subscribe to my new Garage to Global Channel (part of the Entrepreneur Network) on YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/garagetoglobal.

Share with me below what you think it takes to go from “garage to global” (but don’t forget to subscribe to my new channel. 🙂

Networking Is a Marathon, Not a Sprintstring(38) "Networking Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint"

The fact is, networking truly is a marathon of an endeavor–it’s most definitely not a sprint.  I have met so many people who practice what I call ‘hyperactive networking’ and they mistakenly approach networking at the speed of an all-out sprint–they want to be absolutely everywhere and meet absolutely everyone and they go, go, go ALL of the time until they soon inevitably burn out, ‘collapse,’ and give up.

It’s a real shame because if these people would, from the beginning, just slow down and take the time to develop a networking strategy and understand that networking takes time, patience, hard work, dedication, commitment, and endurance, they would be reaping great rewards from their networking efforts instead of exhausting themselves with nothing to show for it in the end.

Networking at its core is about taking the time to build genuine, trusted relationships.  Sure, visibility is important, but without building trust right along with it, visibility won’t get you very far in the long run.  You can run around all day long going to networking events and shaking people’s hands, but if you’re not spending time following up and developing trust with the people you meet, then you haven’t really achieved much of anything that will actually give you results from your networking efforts–do not confuse activity with accomplishment. 

So, what are your tactics for pacing yourself in the marathon of networking?  What actions do you take to strategically build relationships?  I’d love to hear from you so please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment forum below–thanks!

Classic Video: One Simple Rule for a Winning Approach to Networkingstring(67) "Classic Video: One Simple Rule for a Winning Approach to Networking"

I have been doing video blogs for quite a few years now and a while back it occurred to me that some of the videos I’ve previously posted focus on timeless topics that deserve to be revisited and not buried way back in the video blog archive.  For this reason, I decided to occasionally feature a “classic” video blog from my blog archive and today I am sharing the sixth one–”One Simple Rule to a Winning Approach at Netwoking.” In this video, I talk to UK networking expert Charlie Lawson about the Networking Disconnect which commonly hinders the success of many who attend networking events and mixers.

Charlie explains that the Disconnect can be avoided all together by following one simple rule that will get your networking approach and intent geared in the right direction.  I’ll give you a hint–it involves big fish and coffee. 😉

After watching the video, come back and comment about your experience(s) with the Networking Disconnect (trust me, we’ve all had some experience with it) and what you think about the advice Charlie offers in the video . . . looking forward to hearing from you!

Being Your Own Chief Networking Officerstring(39) "Being Your Own Chief Networking Officer"


CNOIf you work in an organization, you might be familiar with the increasingly popular position of chief networking officer (CNO).  The CNO is the person who handles many corporations’ business networking and community-related activities.

The role or position of CNO has changed over the years.  In the past, the CNO could have been the person responsible for such things as running the computer or IT department, or for computer-related functions in general, because networking was thought of as a matter of electronic connection.  CNOs are still tech related, but these days we’re seeing many executives with that title in charge of completely different functions, handling business networking activities such as these:

  • Community Involvement
  • Internal & External Communication
  • Public Relations
  • Corporate Culture
  • Social Capital
  • Human Resources
  • Diversity
  • Client/Customer Relationships
  • Developing a Referral Marketing Campaign
  • Departmental Collaboration
  • Relationship Advertising & Marketing
  • Improving Vendor Relationships
  • Referral Generation Strategies

As you can see, a CNOs responsibilities can be broad and complex.  However, I believe the two key responsibilities to be: 1) relationship-marketing campaigns and 2) referral generation strategies.  These roles should be top of mind if you’re going to network like a pro.  They should be the principal job focus of a CNO.

First, however, let’s address the thought that’s probably just popped into your head: “Hey, I only have a ten-person (four-person/one-person) organization; how can I afford to hire a CNO to do my networking?

As business professionals ourselves, we remember what it was like trying to get a company off the ground.  And, quite frankly, there never seemed to be enough resources to take care of all the things the business needed, let alone hire an executive-level person.

What I suggest is to create a CNO position in your company and then fill it yourself, at least in the beginning.  In other words, don’t hire a CNO; just take on a CNO mindset.  How do you create a CNO mindset?  Start off by adopting a Givers Gain® attitude.  This gets you in the spirit of finding ways to help others while simultaneously overcoming the scarcity mentality that can creep into your thinking.  Lay out a clear set of guidelines and action items that you’d like the CNO to take, and then fill that position yourself for two or three hours a week.

 

5 Ways Your Network Can Promote Youstring(35) "5 Ways Your Network Can Promote You"

I’m currently in Asia doing a number of speaking engagements and yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at the BNI Japan National Conference.  Today, I’d like to share with you an excerpt from the speech I gave where I explain the following five ways in which your network can promote you:

  1. Display your literature and products
  2. Make announcements for you about your business
  3. Endorse your products and services
  4. Provide you with referrals
  5. Introduce you to people / arrange meetings on your behalf

5WaysSlide

This is content straight from my book Business by Referral and if you’d like to learn about the additional ten ways your network can promote you (which I share in the book but not in this video), click here for an article I wrote specifically on this topic. 

If you have any favorite tactics which you’ve personally found to be highly effective when it comes to putting your networking circle to work for you, please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

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