marketing Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Making a Mark with Marketing . . . How Are You Making Yours?

Marketing isn’t something I was always confident about.  When I first started out in business, my degrees were in Political Science and Organizational Behavior.  I had very little marketing experience until I went to work for a transportation company in Southern California and, within a two week span, went from a role in purchasing to a significant role in marketing–a huge change that was an even bigger learning experience.

My marketing experience was trial by fire and reading.  I just started reading books on marketing and learned as I went, and it was that experience that gave me enough knowledge to do some marketing on my own when I later set out as a business consultant. 

If somebody had asked me when I was 25 where I saw myself career wise in thirty years, I would have had no clue that my career would be all about marketing . . . that I would be the Chairman of the world’s largest referral marketing organization.  Sometimes we go places in life we never expected to go but I wouldn’t change a thing about the career path I chose.  I am passionate about helping people grow their businesses and achieve great success through effective referral marketing and after spending over two decades devoted to this work; I really enjoy knowing that the work I do allows me to pass on the marketing knowledge and experience I’ve attained in order to benefit to others.

I was recently asked what my top marketing tip would be and I think it’s really all about building the brand–either the brand of the company or of the individual, depending on the kind of business that you’re in.  Name recognition–that’s the biggest challenge, especially for small companies.  It’s not the same for everybody because every business is a little different and people’s skill sets are different.  For me, in my business, brand building has largely been about writing.  Before the internet I was trying to get articles in newspapers and magazines.  Now it’s much, much easier.  In this age of blogs and social media, even small companies have a global reach.  The problem is all the white noise that’s out there: with so many people wanting a piece of the action you have to be able to stand out.  So, for me, the top marketing tip would be to write, write, write.  Become an expert in your field so people want to follow you because when they follow you, they’re more likely to do business with you.

I’d love to hear how you’re making your mark with marketing–what is your top marketing tip for the other business owners out there reading this blog?

 

Position Yourself as an Expert by Becoming an Author

Years ago, an associate of mine who read one of my books and attended some of my training sessions called me and said, “I really love your material, but why don’t you put more emphasis on your ideas about ‘creating your identity as a brand’ and how it affects your networking efforts?  These ideas have made a huge impact on my business, but I don’t hear you talking about it very often.”

I admitted that this associate of mine was right.  I haven’t talked a lot about identity in my material, and I agree that I should say more.

When I started my first business decades ago, I had no idea how important it was to focus on branding my company and myself in the marketplace as a way of enhancing my networking efforts.  I understood the concept from an advertising and marketing perspective, but with a small business I didn’t have the advertising budget to mold myself or my company into any kind of brand—at least, that’s what I thought at the time.  So I ignored it.  I realized later that I’d made a big mistake in not pursuing any strategies to brand my identity.  It wasn’t until the early ’90s that I started to think about branding and how it would help in my networking efforts.

Networking is all about relationships.  Relationships are about establishing credibility.  Credibility takes time.  What I needed to do was expedite that process as much as possible while still creating genuine credibility in the marketplace at large.  Not having much of a budget, I had to get creative about how I would make this happen. 

I saw that if I wanted to increase my visibility and enhance my credibility in the community, I needed to be viewed as the local expert.  The way I decided to start creating that brand was to begin writing articles.  Now, you may say, “What’s so special about that idea?  I’ve heard people suggest it before.”  Well, here’s the bottom line: hearing it and doing it tend to be very different things.

You can derive the same identity-building, brand-boosting benefit from writing articles as I did.  It may surprise you, but editors and reporters need good story ideas and will use them wherever they can find them.  Think about the things you know and understand best.  What elements of that knowledge might be of interest to the general public, a specific industry, or some targeted demographic?  Review the types of media outlets that write for your chosen audience.  Consider newspapers, magazines, and industry journals, but also take a good look at online opportunities such as e-zines, online newsletters, and information sites.

Either by phone or letter, tell the editor why readers will be interested in the feature idea you have or why it is newsworthy.  What are you doing in your business that strikes a chord in the community?  What can you share that will educate the editor’s readers?  A word of caution, though:  too many people who seek to be featured in newspapers or magazines send the equivalent of a company brochure.  They fail to realize that editors and reporters need hooks, angles, ways to relate to a distracted, overworked, frenzied readership. 

Guided by the Certified Networker training I developed for the Referral Institute, the associate of mine that I mentioned earlier chose a topic he knew about and worked with it for some time.  He is in the travel industry, so he wrote a series of articles about travel and sent them to various outlets each month for several months.  He received some responses—all “No, thank you”—until, finally, one local newspaper called him and said they’d like to use his piece in the next day’s edition.  After it came out, they contacted him again and asked if he’d like to do a monthly piece.  Before long, another media outlet saw his work and asked him if he’d like to write for them.

Today he writes regular articles for several media outlets.  More importantly, it has totally changed his business.  Although many travel companies are going out of business due to vast changes in the industry, he is actually growing and thriving, because his articles have created an identity or brand for him and the company he owns.  Moreover, he is still an active networker, and he notes that the articles he writes put him way above his competition by enhancing his credibility with the people he meets.  He capitalizes on this regularly by bringing his recent articles to networking meetings.

This businessman’s experience serves as a great example of what’s possible for your own networking efforts.  When you get some of your pieces published, promote themThey won’t necessarily increase your sales overnight, but they will greatly enhance your credibility throughout the networking process, which absolutely increases your sales over time.  My friend also told me that he now includes links on his website to some of the online articles he produces as a way of enhancing his credibility with existing and potential clients.

So, if this is such a great idea, why haven’t I said more about it in the past?  Well, in my book Masters of Success, I talk about success being the “uncommon application of common knowledge.”  If you ask a successful person the secret of his success, you will almost never hear a secret!  Writing articles regularly and continually to increase your credibility and enhance your networking opportunities is not a secret.  It’s simply an idea that most people are just too lazy to implement. 

The bottom line is, 98 percent of people won’t actually do it.  Or, they’ll do it for a little while and give up.  The associate that encouraged me to talk more about this strategy agreed, but he said, “Do it for the 2 percent of people like me who will apply the idea.  It will make a difference for them, as it did for me.”

If you believe you can stick with this strategy over time, sit down and jot out topics of four articles you could write that fit with your business and networking goals—and that you believe would serve the readers of a particular publication.  Then, draft a letter addressed to the editor of that publication, and pitch your ideas.  If he says yes, it’s time to start writing!  If the answer is no, consider following up with him to determine what kinds of articles would better fit his needs.  

Well, there you go.  That’s a lot of advice and my associate should be happy that I took his good suggestion to talk more about branding for the 2 percent of people that will follow through.  So, the question now is: Are you part of the 2 percent or the 98 percent?  It’s your choice.

BizPer Social Media Marketing

I met Starr Hall at an Entrepreneur Magazine Conference that we both spoke at last year and she did a really impressive presentation on social media marketing.

One of the things she discussed was the concept of “BizPer” Social Media Marketing. She said that about half of your social media posts should be about business and about half should be personal.

I love the concept but, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the percentage.  I definitely believe that people want to see a little of me as a person via my social media – but, I don’t think that half the posts I do should be fully personal.  Granted, I think that a business message about a personal experience is very good – but, that is still business – not personal.

So, here’s my question to you:  What do you think the best BizPer split  (business focus vs. personal focus) for someone in business to use as a gauge for their social media posts would be?  50/50? 60/40? 70/30? 80/20???

Something else?  How much of your social media (in the context of a business person) should be devoted to personal postings? I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this . . .

Eliciting Excellence Entrepreneur Expo 2011–FREE Teleseminar

I am pleased to announce that I will be participating in an educational teleseminar event which is being offered FREE of charge and hosted by Business Strategist and Executive Coach Michael Beck (pictured at right).

This online event, the 2011 Eliciting Excellence Entrepreneur Expo, will feature insights and strategies from 15 entrepreneurial experts (including yours truly) and I encourage all to attend who are interested in this free opportunity to learn about powerful income-boosting strategies, marketing insights, and personal effectiveness secrets to grow business.

The event begins on April 11th and runs for two weeks–Monday through Friday.  Each one-hour presentation will be packed with practical, useful content and will be available for 24 hours on its scheduled day.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the event and to REGISTER FOR FREE now (free bonus package of gifts is provided to those who register).

Generate More Business by Offering Value-added Advice

It’s no secret that we all want to do business with people whom we know and trust.  So, how do you build rapport and create trust with new contacts at networking events?  By offering value-added advice–solid, helpful information provided out of a genuine concern for another person.

Let’s say you’re a real estate agent talking with someone at a networking event who, although not ready to buy a home today, is heading in that direction.  You could say something like this:

Well, I know you’re not interested in buying a home right now.  But, when you’re ready to start looking, I highly recommend checking out the north part of town.  A lot of my clients are seeing their homes appreciate in the 10 to 20 percent range, and from what I understand, the city is thinking about building another middle school in that area.

See how it’s possible to offer some value-added advice without being too salesy?  A statement like this acknowledges that your prospect is not currently in the market (first sentence) but still demonstrates your expertise, so he will remember you when he’s ready to move.

This model works for consultants, CPAs, accountants, financial planners, coaches–just about anyone in a service-based industry in which knowledge is the main product. If you’re concerned about giving away your intellectual capital for free, look at it this way: few people are going to sign up to do business with you if they’re not sure you can do the job.  In the absence of a tangible product, you have nothing but your technical expertise to demonstrate that you have the goods.  And when you think about it, that makes sense.  Whenever you’re ready to buy an automobile, it doesn’t matter how much research you’ve done on a particular model, you’re probably not going to write your check until you’ve taken the car for a test drive.

The same is true for your prospects.  Give them a little test drive to show how it would feel to do business with you. If you’re a marketing consultant, give them a couple of ideas on how they can increase the exposure of their business.  Don’t go overboard; maybe offer a technique you read in a magazine or tried with one of your clients.  Just give them something they can try on to see if it works.

Not only will this open up a good conversation with new contacts while you’re out networking, if you play your cards right, whom do you think they’ll go to when they’re in need of your kind of service? 🙂  When it comes to building rapport and creating trust, nothing does it better than offering value-added advice.

Business is Looking Up for 2011

My company has recently created a “business index” to gauge the economic state of business based on global survey results of retailers, service companies, and manufacturing companies all around the world.

The statistics gathered from the survey results are intended to keep small business owners, entrepreneurs, and companies, as well as the general public, educated and informed as to the changing state of the global business economy and the current business trends that become apparent over time.

The January, 2011 BNI Business Index Report (based on the 4th Quarter of 2010) represents the first report published by BNIBusinessIndex.com.

Over 5,000 businesses from every populated continent in the world participated in this survey. According to our findings for the 4th Quarter of 2010, 67.8% of all businesses surveyed stated that business was growing or growing substantially compared to the same time the previous year.  Only 7.9% stated that business was declining or declining substantially.  Just over 24% of the respondents felt that business was flat during the last quarter of 2010 compared to the same time period one year earlier.

This appears to be very good news for the recession weary business community.  For more details on these and other findings, go to www.BNIBusinessIndex.com.

Take a moment to share with me how business is doing for you.  Do these findings track with your experience?  Let me know here.

50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs

I am excited to announce that this blog was listed as #26 in the list of “50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs”!

Here’s what they said:

“Networking Entrepreneur: Even if you think you’re a pro at networking, check this blog for new tips and strategies as your business grows. Recommended Posts: Make No Assumptions and Clueless When It Comes To Conversing? Four Tips

The list, published by OEDb (Online Education Database), was created as a resource for young entrepreneurs who are looking to learn some basic business principles and discover how to communicate and collaborate in the real world before finding success.  Divided into categories (“Tools & Resources,” “Inspiration & Testimonials,” “Tips & Education,” “Industry News,” and Insights “From Young Entrepreneurs”), the list presents the top blogs that will help you communicate, collaborate, master the science of SEO and social media marketing, shake hands like a professional, and more.

Young entrepreneur or not, this list contains a cornucopia of excellent links that will provide you with an endless amount of useful information.

I’m honored to be included in this list of the “50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs” and I encourage all of my blog readers to check out the list and explore the great (and FREE)  information that’s out there to help contribute to your success!

Global Entrepreneurship Week

More than 1,300 U.S. organizations in all 50 states -– including top universities, nonprofit organizations, successful entrepreneurs, government agencies and corporate sponsors -– are collaborating to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2010, Nov. 15 to 21. Globally, there are expected to be more than 20,000 partners.

The week will bring together aspiring and inspiring entrepreneurs in more than 100 countries around the world, helping them embrace originality, imagination and ingenuity through local, national and global activities. Co-founded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the world’s largest foundation dedicated to entrepreneurship, and Enterprise UK, a business-led, government-backed campaign in the United Kingdom, Global Entrepreneurship Week helps current and would-be entrepreneurs gain knowledge, skills and networks to inspire and enable them to grow sustainable enterprises.

“Global Entrepreneurship Week has become a worldwide celebration of entrepreneurship, with an expected 10 million people participating this year, thanks to these partners,” said Carl Schramm, president and chief executive officer of the Kauffman Foundation. “The organizations participating in GEW are responsible for transforming lives by sparking entrepreneurship among people of all ages and from all walks of life.”

Global Entrepreneurship Week events are diverse and creative, including virtual and face-to-face activities, large-scale competitions and intimate networking gatherings. A list of activities can be found on the interactive activities calendar on this website –- www.gewusa.org/event-central — where visitors can search by keyword or location.

Every U.S. state is participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week in some way. The most active states are: California (106 partners); Michigan (100 partners); Pennsylvania (63 partners); Massachusetts (53 partners); New York (53 partners); Texas (52 partners); Florida (46 partners); Tennessee (46 partners); Missouri (44 partners); Ohio (43 partners).

Two prime examples of partner-driven events are:

Movers and Changers, a nationwide business plan competition run by mtvU and NYSE Euronext to uncover creative capitalists who will launch profitable and sustainable ventures that also provide something positive to a community, the country or the world. Finalists will give their business pitches to a panel of judges, with $25,000 in startup funds awarded to the top idea.

  • The 7th Annual Creativity World Forum, run by Oklahoma Creative Frontiers, brings together entrepreneurs, knowledge workers and policymakers from around the globe to listen to inspiring speakers, exchange ideas and experiences, and, of course, network. This year will feature an extraordinary lineup of more than 65 speakers and presenters, including some of the world’s most respected thinkers on creativity.

Organizations supporting Global Entrepreneurship Week/USA include DECA, JA Worldwide, The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), National 4-H Council, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization SM (CEO) and National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE).

For more information on plans for the week throughout the United States, visit www.gewusa.org. To view a complete list of participating countries and organizations, or to learn more about what is happening around the world during the week, visit www.unleashingideas.org. Click here to view a video on Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010.

Successful Businesses Need an Edge

It’s no secret that the economy goes through cycles. Each time it takes a downturn, unfortunately, salespeople, business owners and professional service providers feel the fallout.

Data released by various sources, including the SBA and American Entrepreneurs Association, reveal that more than 50 percent of all businesses close their doors within their first seven years. During a recession, the rate of business failure rises more dramatically. Not included in the statistic cited above are the departments, plants or whole divisions closed by large corporations when times are tough. In today’s ever-changing business environment, if you want to be successful, you need to have an edge over your competition.

Most businesses rely on advertising in one or more ways to try to get an edge. However, if you offer the same products or services through the same means to the same targets as your competitors, it’s difficult to achieve an edge. This means you need to be very creative in order to be competitive in today’s marketplace. Creativity in marketing your business has become a basic tenet for today’s successful company or professional practice. Here’s a great story of how one business exemplified creativity at its finest in order to gain an edge:

Three store owners shared adjacent storefronts in the same building.  Times were tough. In hopes of picking up sales, the store owner at one end of the building put a sign over his front entrance that said, “YEAR-END CLEARANCE!!!”  At the other end of the building, a second owner responded with his own sign: “ANNUAL CLOSE-OUT.”

The store owner in the middle knew that he had to act fast or he’d lose a lot of business. After careful consideration, he hung a larger sign over his front door that read, “MAIN ENTRANCE.”

The moral of this story: You can’t control the economy. You can’t control your competition. But you can control your response to the economy. And you can control your response to your competition.

If you have a great example of how you’ve used creativity to get an edge over your competition, I invite you to share it in the comment section. Your story could be just the encouragement other business owners need to get their imaginations in gear!


The Handy Guide to Networking

I have just released my first e-book.  It is called The BNI Handy Guide to Networking and is available to the public for FREE.   The book includes topics such as: 6 Types of Networks Every Networker Must Know About, The Top 10 Traits of a Master Networker,  The 5 Most Common Networking Mistakes to Avoid, The Layman’s Guide to Networking Online,  Using Technology to Network Better , as well as other topics.

You may download the book for free by going to this link: The Handy Guide to Networking .

Download the book and comment here about what you found most valuable from the book to use in your business.

Bob Burg’s 10 Networking Questions That Work Every Time

My good friend, networking expert Bob Burg, has 10 questions he personally uses when networking that he believes every networker should memorize.

Bob explains that these questions are not designed to be probing or sales-oriented in any way; they are all friendly, fun to answer, and will tell you something about the way the person answering them thinks.  You’ll never need or have the time to ask all 10 questions during any one conversation but, still, you should internalize them.  Know them well enough that you are able to ask the ones you deem appropriate for the particular conversation and time frame.

Here are the 10 questions:

1.  How did you get started in the (______) business?

2.  What do you enjoy most about your profession?

3.  What separates you and your company from the competition?

4.  What advice would you give someone just starting out in the (______) business?

5.  What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?

6.  What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?

7.  What do you see as the coming trends in the (______) business?

8.  Describe the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business?

9.  What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business?

10.  What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business?

Like Bob says, you’re not going to get to ask more than a few of these questions during an initial conversation,  so don’t worry about sounding like you’re conducting an interrogation. These are feel-good questions people enjoy answering, and they are meant to establish an initial rapport.  So next time you’re at a networking event, try using a few of these questions and then come back and leave a comment about how using them worked out for you; I’m more than willing to bet you’ll be pleased with the results.

What is a Brand?

I recently ran across a very good definition of what a company “brand” is all about. It was written by Tilka Design. I really loved it, and I share it with you below:

A brand lives in the imagination.
Intuitively, we all know what a brand is. It’s far more than a logo. And it’s much larger than a product, service, idea or institution. A brand finds its home in the minds and hearts of individuals; it’s made up of stories and experiences that, over time, create feelings. When enough people share those feelings, the brand comes to life.

What a great definition! What would you add, if anything, to this description?

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