If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter

Consider this scenario:

You hear a speech from a Gold Medal winning Olympic rower. The speech is all about the approach he and his teammates in the men’s eight took to go from no-hopers to Gold Medal winners. An approach that examined every aspect of what they did – diet, training, even relaxation.

 

Do you think:

  1. that’s fascinating, thanks very much
  2. that’s ok but I don’t like rowing and it has nothing to do with my business

or

  1. that’s really interesting, how can I apply that philosophy in my business

 

Which option would you take? Super-successful businesses take option C. They have the mindset that looks for opportunity in every situation. They look to take other people’s experiences and apply them to their own business.

 

Thinking is important

How much time do you spend on your business? On average, business owners spend just two days a year working on their business. If you do the 90 minutes I talked about last week for just three days each week you’ll beat the annual average in your first month!

 

But how you spend that time is even more important. Even when we work on our businesses, we can all fall foul of being busy doing the wrong things, being busy without being really productive.

One hour of quality thinking is worth a month of hard work.

Why? Because that hour’s thinking shapes and drives what you do with that month of hard work.

Thinking alone is not enough. A well thought out plan is worthless unless it is implemented. Don’t over-plan or over-think – that just leads to procrastination and indecision.

That’s why I advocate doing your 90 minutes. Concentrated thinking married with focused execution.

 

Now having the right mindset isn’t about just one thing. It isn’t a case of doing one thing and you’ve cracked it. It’s about a whole raft of things.

  • It’s about how you think about yourself and your role
  • It’s about how you react to situations
  • It’s about who you hang around with

But most of all it’s about choice. You get to choose all the above and much more.

 

So mindset is about you and the choices you make. You have to mind about the choices you make. Because if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

 

How Successful Entrepreneurs Think is another key implementation plan in the Achieve 365 library. If you’d like to find out more about it let’s jump on a free 30 minute Skype call. Click on the link to my calendar below, select Implementation Plan introduction and book that call now: http://meetme.so/AllenRuddock

The 3 biggest challenges facing business owners

 

My first consulting business never really took off. I started it in 2003 with a former colleague and we were, frankly, naïve. We thought because we were good project and programme managers the work would come to us. A few phone calls. A bit of networking and hey presto, contracts would be signed.

 

The reality was so different. Some of out early discussions took over a year to come to fruition. Preferred suppliers lists got in the way. And when we did get some work, we were so focussed on delivery that we forgot about sowing the seeds for the next piece of work.  We suffered from the 3 biggest challenges that hold businesses back.

 

  1. Working in the business , not on the business
  2. Not dedicating some time on most days to getting and keeping clients
  3. Procrastination

 

Why are these the BIG three?

Let’s look at each one in turn, and then you’ll understand why I have picked out these challenges.

 

Working on the business, not in the business

Whatever your business, be it product based or services based, there is no business without a sale. No clients, no business.

Now, when you get a client, you want to make sure they get the best product or service you can deliver. So you focus your efforts on just that. Me and my first business partner did just that. And when the job was done, we were back to square one – without a current buying client.

We spent all our time working in the business delivering for the client and none looking for the next client. I started to realise this when I had a gap between clients and my partner was working on client site for his current client. I could never get any of his time to do stuff to develop the business.

 

Now a lot of people become business owners because they like doing what they do. They just want to do it for themselves rather than work for someone else’s company a give them all the profit.

But the reality is if you are constantly working in your business, doing the stuff that you like, but not growing it, not constantly finding new clients, hiring staff, putting in processes to make the business efficient and resilient, you will always go from feast to famine. You will always be trading your time for money. You will always be at the coal face.

 

Not dedicating time to getting and keeping customers

There’s always lots to do in running a business. Whatever line of business You are in you’ll want to keep abreast of the latest developments.

As project and programme management consultants my business partner and me needed to keep up to date with the latest tools and techniques. We had to get to know the latest software in case a client used it or might find it useful.

And then there’s the website to get up and running. There are brochures to write about all those new tools and techniques. And there’s the accounts to do.

The list goes on, but no mention of getting and keeping clients.

 

You see, we were busy. Very busy. But not with the right stuff. Without clients, all the other stuff was meaningless. Yet we didn’t dedicate any time on a daily basis to finding, getting and keeping clients. It’s the single most important task and we didn’t do enough of it. We certainly didn’t prioritise it.

 

Procrastination

When my first consulting business was struggling it wasn’t that I didn’t realise we were doing the wrong stuff or that we didn’t know we need to spend time getting clients. It was more that we didn’t really know how to go about things. We didn’t know what to focus on.

So we procrastinated. We kept busy. Very busy. But not in a revenue, or even lead generation, way. We found things to do to avoid the difficult stuuf. The hard conversations.

Classic procrastination.

 

And this is something I see an awful lot of with businesses I talk to. Procrastination is a bit like an addiction. To deal with it, you first have to admit to it and then seek help. For those that want help, I’m here for you.

 

How to tackle the BIG 3

Tackling the BIG 3 requires determination and effort. There’s no silver bullet, bio quick fix. You have to commit to doing things differently. After all, you’ll have heard me quote the old saying before:

If you always do what you always did,

You’ll always get what you always got.

A great way to do this is setting aside a specific amount of time each day to work on your business with a focus on getting and keeping clients.

 

90 minutes

Setting aside 90 minutes a day to build you business can have dramatic results. Nigel Botterill who owns and runs the Entrepreneurs Circle built 8 £1million + businesses using this discipline. He continues to use it today and almost every working day.

I follow this principle in building my businesses. When my business partner decided he’d had enough of our roller-coaster consulting business, we closed it down and I started again, on my own.

The first thing I decided was to learn about, and get better at, marketing. So I signed up for some courses, joined a mini-mastermind group and then joined the Entrepreneurs Circle, where I learned about Nigel’s 90 minutes philosophy.

 

So as I built my new consultancy, I would do my 90 minutes – split in to two 45 minute chunks corresponding to my training journeys into and out of London. In the mornings I’d craft blog posts, e-mail campaigns and product collateral. In the evenings I would engage my social media audience turning them from followers and connections in to leads and clients.

As a result I have had a near 100% utilisation rate in my new business with very little down time between client assignments. Often I have had training and SharePoint assignments running in parallel to consulting assignments. In fact I’ve often had to turn assignments away because I have had too many commitments.

 

In short, this stuff works!

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From the experiences Nigel and his team learned building those businesses they created the achieve 365 library – a series of Implementation Plans covering virtually every aspect of buildinag, growing and running a business. Each plan comprises a series of checklists, templates and how to videos taking you through the subject step by step.

 

One of the core Implementation Plans is Getting (Loads) More Stuff Done…. and it’s all about your 90 minutes. If you’d like to find out more about achieve 365 and the Implementation Plans and how I can help you keep yourself motivated and accountable, let’s get a free 30 minute Skype call set up. Click on the link to my calendar below, select the “Achieve 365 30 minute call” option and book that call now:

Allen’s calnder link

How to get stuff done in your business

Sport is a great analogy for business.

Anyone can take part in sport at one level or another. For example, you can just turn up at a track and run a race, or pop down the tennis club to play a set or two. But without any preparation don’t expect to get a call up to the Olympics squad or The Davis Cup Team. Getting to those events requires a great product (your talent), lots of planning and hard work.

 

Just like business.

Just as in sport, anyone can set up a business and sell products or services. There may be some regulatory or industry specific constraints (food safety, hygiene, health and safety laws etc.) but otherwise, you can pretty much go for it.

But if you want to be a business Olympian, if you want to win medals, you need to have a great product or service and then you have to plan for success and work hard to deliver it. You need to get stuff done!

 

Can you succeed?

Can any business succeed with the right planning and hard work? That depends on two things.

The first is your definition of success. If success means £1m turnover, staff and six figure profits, not all business can achieve that. Some business will only ever be part-time kitchen table ventures, but if that is what you want from your business and the expected level of profit is commensurate with that, then it is a success.

The second is having a minimum viable product aligned to your definition of success. Some products or services are just never going to make it commercially. If yours is one of them, accept it and move on rather than pouring good money and time down the drain.

 

Success through focus and application

But with the right product success can be achieved. Let’s use the sports analogy again. A few years back we were rubbish at cycling. Then the powers that be decided to do something about it. They started by breaking down the problem of winning. Everything from improving the bike, fitness regimes, diet, etc. we examined. Changes were made, tested and adjusted. Every little detail right down to even taking mattresses to improve sleep between Tour de France stages.

In a few short years we had our first Tour de France winner in Sir Bradley Wiggins and now a three times winner in Chris Froome. Besides that, we have serious medal expectations at every cycling event around the world.

You can apply the same approach to your business.

 

Is there a switch?

The UK’s cycling success didn’t happen overnight and nor will the changes in your business. There’s no magic switch that turns a business into an instant success. But a switch is required for success longer term. It’s a switch in the attitude of you, the business owner. A switch from an attitude that says it’s all someone else’s fault to accepting that it’s down to you. It’s a switch from a ‘can’t do’ or ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude to a ‘can do’ attitude. It’s a switch from seeing endless problems to looking for and finding solutions. From saying why you can’t to asking how you can. From procrastination to ‘let’s get stuff done’

 

Are you up for the challenge?

You’re reading this blog so  you already have the attitude to learn. But learning is only worthwhile if it translates in to action.  You have to implement what you learn. You have to implement the plans to make your business a success. That is the key to achieving your targets and goals.

 

Setting goals

The first step is setting goals for you and your business.  They might be financial. They might be about getting more free time. They might be about having fewer clients, but of the right type. Whatever they are, they need to be ambitious.  Break them down from the longer term goals into annual, quarterly, monthly and even weekly goals or targets. Read my blog from 7th July 2017 (http://www.arra-li.com/leadership/goal-setting-dont-aim-for-mediocrity/) about setting goals.

 

Planning

Next, you need to identify the key things that will enable you to achieve your goals and then create a plan to do them. Focus on the short term, most immediate goals. Then take incremental steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you don’t need to change everything in your business immediately. Have somethings that will deliver short term gains whilst you work on the longer term, potentially bigger changes.

 

The secret to success

Implementation – without it the rest is a waste of time. But don’t think that you have to do it all yourself. If you have a team of staff much of what needs to get done can be delegated, allowing you to focus on the critical stuff you are best at or on the stuff only you can do.

If you don’t have a team, get one. With Vas (virtual assistants) available by the hour in most aspects of business support it’s now much easier to get cost effective support for your business as you grow towards needing, and being able to afford, permanent staff. It’s all about empowerment – of your team and yourself.

 

What if I make mistakes

Mistakes are ok if you learn from them. Don’t get frightened by them. Ask any very successful entrepreneur what they would change on their journey and most would say they wished they had failed faster. Failure taught them the lessons to be successful. So give yourself permission to make mistakes.

 

Get stuff done

This is the first in a series of blog posts about implementing critical stuff in your business. Marketing stuff, process stuff, control stuff, management and leadership stuff. Each post will be about fixing something important in one aspect or another in your business. There will be tools to help along the way, holding your hand through each aspect of building your business. But for now, start thinking about those goals I talked about earlier. Here’s the link to the blog post again: http://www.arra-li.com/leadership/goal-setting-dont-aim-for-mediocrity/

Re-visit, re-write or even just create your goals and prepare for next week’s blog. Let’s get stuff done together.

The bad news about free…

 

I’ve been wondering if I should charge for my blog posts. Up to know they’ve been free for anyone to come and read them. But the bad news about ‘free’ is that people may not take you seriously.

 

I’ve paid so I want the value

When people pay for something, they expect – no demand – value for money. And they will consume because they have paid.

“I’ve paid £10 for this buffet, I’m gonna eat my £10’s worth”

The difference in attendance levels between people booking on a paid event verses a free event is huge. Eventbrite ran a test putting on the same webinar once as a free event, the second time charging $5. Attendance rates were 38% and 69% respectively. Almost double despite the content being the same.

 

The two key factors

There are two key factors in play here.

The first is the loss of money. If you pay for something but don’t then consume it, you’ve wasted or lost that money. In the Eventbrite situation the potential ‘loss’ of $5 induced 31% more people to attend. They didn’t want to ‘lose’ the $5.

31% still didn’t. Attend despite paying $5. The reason for that was probably the real cost of attending – the opportunity cost. I doubt anyone attending the webinar charges or values their time at $5 or even $10 per hour. So the real decision was between what value would be obtained from attending verses what else you could be doing with that time.

The second factor is perceived value. There are lots of free webinars. Most have a sales pitch at the end. Some are pretty much sales pitches throughout. So there is a perception that a free webinar may have one or two interesting nuggets before they pitch to you.

A lot of people will sign up with the intention of getting the nuggets but then not bother because something better came up. The content just wasn’t compelling enough.

But when you charge $5 you must be delivering something of value. That is what goes through the mind of the attendee. You can even pitch the webinar as delivering value. For example, you might say:

“We are going to be showing you 5 key strategies on the webinar. To make sure You can book a place we are charging $5 to put off the freebie hunters and tyre kickers”

You’re not a freebie hunter or tyre kicker, are you? So you’ll pay $5 and be 31% more likely to turn up.

 

Free giveaways

A similar situation occurs with the free stuff on your website. These are the lead magnets you offer to entice people to sign up to your list. A lot of people will sign up, download the content then do one of two things:

  1. Unsubscribe immediately.
  2. Save it to a folder somewhere never to be seen or read.

Few will actually read it or use it as you intended.

Much of this is driven by FOMO – fear of missing out. I must get that download in case there is something I should know about in there. The intentions are good, but the implementation is poor.

One way to counter this is to ensure you have a follow-up sequence to engage the people that download your free stuff. Ask them about – have they used it. Did they follow the advice? Did they implement? It’s a great way to identify those that are engaged rather than the information accumulators.

 

Is cheap or any better?

So free doesn’t work too well. How about cheap? As we saw with the webinar example, 31% who paid still failed to turn up. That occurs when people don’t understand the value of what you are offering. And if you price something too cheaply, there is a danger people will think there isn’t enough value in the product. If it’s so cheap it can’t really be worth anything.

 

Positioning

The way to overcome this is by positioning the product or service properly. That entails demonstrating the real, tangible benefits that the customer will receive. Testimonials and recommendations are crucial here. They add that third party endorsement which is a hundred times more powerful than anything you can say about your products.

Of course, you could always just put the price up. Now there’s a novel idea.

3 big myths about the internet

DILBERT © 2016 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights
reserved.” Below the image for me to comply with my usage rights.

 

The internet is a fantastic resource. But as with any fantastic resource, you have to know how to use it properly – and I don’t mean which buttons to click or how to use Boolean logic in search terms. I mean how to treat everything you read and find on the internet with a degree of caution.

You see there are 3 big myths about the internet that everyone forgets at least once in a while. And these myths can be very expensive. Expensive in terms of the amount of time wasted (just look at the Dilbert cartoon in the feature image), penalties, fines and law suits, and in poor decision making.

 

Myth no.1

If it’s on the internet it must be true – so said American president Abraham Lincoln in a Facebook post.

Yeah, right! Too many people would believe it though. I don’t mean the obviously stupid “truths” like the won I just “quoted”, but many millions of little and not so little things, and often because they’ve seen it repeated a few times. Well, sorry to burst you bubble, that isn’t true. And just because 10 or 100 or even 1000 people on the internet say something is true, that doesn’t mean it is. Marketers often talk about getting social proof like getting your tweets retweeted or you Facebook posts like. That doesn’t make them any more true than when they were written. 100 people believing a lie does not make it true.

So do your due diligence. Check that your “facts” really are facts. Look for authoritative sources to validate your findings.

 

Myth no.2

If it’s on the internet it’s free. Just because something is in the public domain doesn’t;’t mean it is yours to use freely. And the internet is public domain. The number of people that copy images from the internet to use in their bl;of posts, in their presentations, in their brochures, is huge. The risks that they run in doing so are huge.

All images are owned by the person or company that created them and you can only use the image with their permission. And that often comes with a cost. It’s usually a small cost – often just $1. There are some places which offer use of images a genuinely zero cost. But if there is a cost, be sure to pay it because if you use an image without permission then it could cost you a whole lot more. At least one image supplier regularly monitors the use of its images on the internet and if the appropriate licence fee has not been paid the offending company or individual will get a demand from the image owner’s lawyer demanding the image is taken down and no longer used and a large penalty paid (several thousands of pounds) or else court proceedings will be started.

If you have I used an image illegally you will lose. The fine/penalty imposed by the court may be less than that demanded in the lawyers letter but don’t forget to factor in the amount of your time and that of your team, not mention legal fees etc etc and you can see how the costs will mount up.

Play by the rule – saying sorry after the event just doesn’t cut in this situation.

 

Myth no.3

Free training on the internet can save you money on paid training. This is the example in the Dilbert cartoon featured image (which I have paid a licence fee to use by the way).

This myth isn’t as clear cut as the first two as in the longer term, if you find a really good source of high quality free training in the area you need it, then you can save money. The problem comes about from trawling through all the dud courses before you find the gems. You might get lucky and find the gem quickly, but then again, you might not. You might use the gem supplier many times so, on average, the wasted time is relatively low. But most training in small to medium size businesses is specialist in nature and used for only a few people at most so this is unlikely to be the case.

At the end of the day, what else could you be spending your time on to drive your business forward than wasting it trying hard to find free training to save a few pounds. Implementing the lessons from a quality paid course will generate more savings or revenue increases than the cost of the course so spending time to avoid the cost of the course is just a waste.

How do you avoid wasting time finding a good quality course though? Couldn’t that be as wasteful and looking for the free ones? Yes it could and that leads nicely into how to overcome these myths.

 

Myth busting

Before the internet we used to use recommendations to find potential suppliers. We’d go to trusted and renowned publications and books for information. We’d meet people and get to know, like and trust them – before we bought.

Well today, we do the same thing but faster – because everything is faster with the internet – right? Well, perhaps not. We are always being pushed to be faster but maybe

We should just slow down a little and be a little more discerning about the sources we use and who we trust. Yes the internet has extended our reach but we still need to do the appropriate due diligence.

We need to build trusted networks of contacts and advisers that we can rely on to sort out the wheat from the chaff. To find those gems without the painstaking and time consuming trawling through the search engines. Where is the best place to start for businesses?

 

LinkedIn

Yes, LinkedIn is the trusted source that can overcome many of the myths of the internet. Providing you do your due diligence on your network and recognise who you can rely on, it can help with identifying the right sources of information, the right suppliers, the right training courses.

Why is LinkedIn so good for this? Because the best people engage poactively on LinkedIn sharing their knowledge and experience freely. If they are wrong or are trying to scam people, the collective community challenge them, out them and they go quiet or get removed.

Recommendations on LinkedIn provide a strong guide to the quality, reliability and efficacy of the people you engage with. These recommendations cannot be faked – they have to be written by other LinkedIn members. And if you see recommendations for someone from people you know like and trust, they carry a huge weight.

So LinkedIn is the place to find those trustworthy resources. And by extension, if you want to be seen as a trustworthy source, whether of knowledge, advice, services or products, you need to have a powerful personal profile. That’s what I help my clients achieve – just check out my recommendations and then check out my LinkedIn Business Advantage Programme. Take your credibility to a higher level today. Click the link or the image below.

 

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Tiny Noticeable Things

TNT – Tiny Noticeable Things

Have you noticed that when you experience good service it’s often the little things that you remember? The chocolate on the pillow, the bottle of water by the bed, fresh milk in a flask instead of those irritating little UHT pots. Little things that don’t cost a lot but make all the difference.

That’s not to say that a few little extras can compensate for poor quality or bad service. You must absolutely deliver fantastic products and services because that is what your clients expect from you. But to keep them coming back rather than trying somebody else’s products or services that might be just that little bit cheaper is where those Tiny Noticeable Things come in.

A friend had to get his Mercedes serviced. It was outside of the warranty period so he wasn’t bound to use Mercedes and he could probably have shaved a few pounds off the bill. But the Mercedes garage always greeted him by name, had the paperwork all ready for his arrival, provided a courtesy car or lift to the station, returned the car fully valeted and provided telephone updates throughout the day.Tiny Noticeable Things that made the whole experience much less painful when it was time to get the credit card out.

That whole experience started with the booking in. Will it be you bringing the car to the garage sir? That’s the booking clerk checking who the security guard at the gate would welcome when the car arrives. So when’s the security guard checks the registration number of the car approaching the gate he knows it’s almost certainly Mr Smith behind the wheel. And if it turns out not to be Mr Smith, there’s an opportunity to ask if Mr Smith is ok and whether they should still contact him with updates during the day.

It’s all about creating that first impression. I’ve heard it suggested you should rename your receptionist or whoever has the first contact with clients to the Director of First Impressions – it can make that much of a difference. How much nicer is it to be warmly welcomed as an expected and valued client than with a polite can I take your name and who are you seeing? The effort required – minimal. Effect – priceless.

When was the last time you looked at all those little details in your business? I’ll bet there are lots of Tiny Noticeable Things you could do to wow your clients. It may be a little thank you card for their recent order. Perhaps a little box of chocolates to go with the course materials you sent out. Any number of little differentiators that your competitors just can’t be bothered with.

Putting some TNT into your business could have explosive results. Let me know what ideas you come up with and which ones have the biggest impact. You’ll soon know because your clients will start telling you about them.

The art of making the selling easy

Here’s the scenario:

You’ve been invited along to present to a room packed with your ideal clients. You spend 45 mins wowing them and at the end, they rush to the back of the room forming a slightly disorderly queue as your team takes their orders.

Wouldn’t that be great? But how do you achieve it? How do you get the invite in the first place? And then what do you have to do to get that reaction? How do you go about making the selling easy?

It all starts long before the meeting. There are two pre-requisites and one key skill.

The pre-requisites

First and foremost you must have an MVP. Without an MVP you have nothing.

What is an MVP?

At its most basic level, an MVP is a Minimum Viable Product. You have to have something worthwhile to sell. But to really make the selling easy your MVP needs to be that Most Valuable Product – the product that everyone needs and wants. The product that is going to address the second pre-requisite.

The second pre-requisite is your customers need or want. Your product or service has to take away their pain, fix their burning problem or satiate their deepest desire. In other words, they’ve really got to want it.

So you have a great product or service that addresses a real need or desire.

That’s game over surely?

I’m afraid not. The need or the desire will be very real, but how does the customer know your product or service is the answer. How do they know you’re up to the job?

That’s where the skill comes in

The skill

The skill comes into play from the outset. Right from the start when you are designing your product or service. From how you let your prospective customers know about your product or service. Let’s consider the Dilbert cartoon below for a moment.

Dilbert positioning

Wally has spent years being useless. He is well practiced and proficient at it. So when he replaces himself with a useless ‘chatbot’ nobody can be sure whether it’s him or the ‘chatbot’ sending the email replies. You see, Wally has positioned himself in such a way that the alternative is extremely credible. It even wins grudging admiration from the evil head of Human Resources.

Positioning is the all-important skill.

You need to create your products and services with a clear understanding of how you are going to position them in the market. You also have to plan how you are going to position yourself and your business. You need to build your credibility in your marketplace. You need to become the ‘go to’ for whatever it is you do or sell.

You need that excellent product or service. But then you need to create an army of raving fans. People that love what you do or make. People that are prepared to sing your praises, because one word from them is worth a thousand from you.

How do you do that? With the world’s largest professional networking platform that also happens to be the most underutilised marketing tool available to every business – LinkedIn

The LinkedIn difference.

A well-crafted LinkedIn profile is a hugely powerful tool for you to demonstrate your credibility and that of your company. LinkedIn’s recommendations amplify that credibility many times over. Remember – one word from a customer is worth a thousand from you.

So LinkedIn should be a part of every businesses strategy whether you sell B2C or B2B. It should be a place where you deliver value to prospects and have that backed up by the recommendations of your clients. And if you are selling to other businesses, really smart companies leverage LinkedIn to find connect and engage with the ideal target customers.

If you want to leverage LinkedIn to position your business, you need the LinkedIn Business Advantage programme. Click on the link or the image to find out more.

 

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It’s not about you

Ever heard the expression “they’re we’ing all over the internet”?

It’s when a business says we do this, we do that, we’re good at delivering, we are award winning, we offer great service etc. etc. They’re “WE ing” everywhere. People do it with their LinkedIn profiles too, only this time they are “I ing”. I did this, I ran that, I deliver exceptional service. Get the picture?

It’s not about you

Well, the bad news is, it’s not about you. It’s actually about your client, your customer, your prospect. They want to know what you can do for them. What the benefits of working with you might be. What it is that you bring to the table.

Deliver some value

So whether it is your website or your LinkedIn company page or your LinkedIn profile, start out by delivering some real value. Offer your prospect or your client some of your best stuff. Some real inside knowledge. Some insight into how you work and how you deliver benefits to the people and companies you work with.

If you can generate some interest, some engagement by delivering real value you will have earned the right to explain how you can help them by delivering more of that value for them, but this time with them as paying customers.

Get that message right, and back it up with case studies and customer testimonials and you are over half way to making the sale – and you haven’t even spoken yet.

The power of LinkedIn

This ethos of speaking to your prospects needs or pain, to the benefits you bring applies to all of your marketing channels but never more so than on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is your personal shop window. Whatever your role in the business, be it owner, sales, marketing etc. people like to do business with people. So prospects will check you out. Yes, they will check out the company website too, but there’s an expectation that that will be all about the products or services the company offers. But they want to do business with another person – you. So they will check you out.

Is your profile up to the scrutiny? Does your profile explain what you and your company do for your clients? Let’s look at an example.

My son is looking for a new job so we’ve been updating his profile. His summary started out saying what he had done for his clients in his last role. It was good, but it was about him. So we turned it around to describe how a consultative approach allied to appropriate market research could deliver effective propositions for clients. A valuable structured approach to delivering benefits for clients. He went on to elaborate more on this before explaining how he had used these approaches to delivering value for the clients he worked with. It’s a subtle change of emphasis, but much more engaging for the end reader.

Such an approach, backed up by a case study and suitable customer recommendations makes for a hugely powerful profile summary. It’s not about him, it’s about what he delivers for his clients.

Your credibility

A well-crafted LinkedIn profile is a hugely powerful tool for you to demonstrate your credibility and that of your company. LinkedIn’s recommendations amplify that credibility many times over. What somebody else says about you is so much more powerful than anything you say about yourself.

So LinkedIn should be a part of every businesses strategy whether you sell B2C or B2B. It should be a place where you deliver value to prospects and have that backed up by the recommendations of your clients. And if you are selling to other businesses, really smart companies leverage LinkedIn to find connect and engage with the ideal target customers.

If you want to leverage LinkedIn in your business, you need the LinkedIn Business Advantage programme.

Click on the link or the image to find out more.

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Just 150 – that’s all!

Have you noticed how social media can become a bit competitive?

I have more Twitter followers than you.

Have you reached the magic 500 LinkedIn Connections? (Magic because above 500 is shown only as 500+ on your Profile front page).

Then you get the social media beggars: please like my page so I can get this or that or the other. Everyone thinks it’s a numbers game.

 

Well the bad news is:

Followers/Connections/Likes are vanity

Engagement is sanity

Leads are king

Monetising social media is about converting your audience into leads and that can only be achieved by engagement.

The really bad news is there is a limit to how many people you can have a meaningful, stable, social relationships at any point in time.

 

Just 150

Yep, just 150 – give or take a few. That’s the maximum number of meaningful social relationships that any one person can have with other people at any point in time. This was identified by anthropologist Robin Dunbar who came up with the number from his research into the brain sizes of primates. Hence, it is called Dunbar’s number.

 

But don’t despair. If, like me, you have large social media audiences you need to find innovative ways of engaging with them, or at least of tracking the engagement they have with you so that you focus on returning the engagement with those parts of the audience that will be most beneficial to your business.

 

Lists and tags

I use lists and tags to group all of my social media contacts and, in fact, all of the prospects in my database. I can then use those lists and tags to see what level of engagement I’m getting from any particular group or segment of my audience.

I can tailor messages and the media used to reach each segment of my market, and I can monitor and track the responses and interactions I get.

 

Let’s take Twitter as an example. I have (at the time of writing) around 3,300 followers on my social media business ID and follow around 3,600. I can’t possibly read all the tweets I’m sent – they come in too fast. Twitter does notify me of key interactions by my followers and I always try and make time to respond to these personally if I can. But engagement is two-way so I need to engage with the people I’m following based on their tweets, their content.

 

My lists

So I group the people I’m following on a number of key lists. Here are some of them:

  • People who have added me to lists – they’ve taken the trouble to do it so show a higher level of engagement than the average follower
  • People who retweet or like my stuff – as above but not quite such strong engagement
  • My customers – always good to engage with them
  • My hot prospects – people that have shown interest in my products or service
  • My dream customer list – people I really want to work with
  • Key influencers – people with large followings that might be interested in my stuff

There are a few more and you should come up with your own.

 

I regularly spend a few minutes engaging with the members of each list, reading and commenting on their tweets and content, developing the engagement and making them aware of me. It’s that engagement that encourages people to share your stuff and that grows your audience.

 

This approach, whether it is using Twitter or Facebook Lists, LinkedIn tags or whatever your particular favourite social media tool uses, enables you to focus in on a small section of your audience at any given time and give them the attention they deserve. The attention they need if they are to begin to know, like and trust you and, eventually, buy from you.

 

Don’t try to be all things to all of your audience. Use lists and tags to segment, get focused and get personal. How do you segment your social media audiences? Leave a reply below.

Key numbers you should know 1-4-15-60-20

Most of the people in your business sector are wrong, most of the time.

That’s a pretty bold assertion. Let me explain why.

Market dynamics

In any given market of a reasonable size these key numbers reflect the distribution of performance in that market.

  • 1% are super successful
  • 4% are doing really well
  • 15% are doing ok and getting there
  • 60% are getting by, often hand to mouth
  • 20% are failing

So 80% of business in your market are getting it wrong.

Today.

Right now.

That’s why so many businesses fail within the first two years of setting up.

The dawn of the internet

15 years ago the internet was relatively new and businesses were only just starting to explore the possibilities. Google AdWords launched towards the end of 2000. Businesses that were enlightened took the plunge and made millions of pounds and dollars from being early adopters.

I know several businesses that have spent over a million pounds per year on AdWords campaigns. These are not large multi-nationals. These are savvy, switched on small businesses. They knew for every £ they spent on AdWords they would generate £3 or £5 or even £10 in sales. They knew because they could track what they spent and the return they got from it.

They did things differently from the mass of businesses. They stood for out and took action. They were in then 1% and 4%. Those that spotted their success and followed pretty quickly were in the 15%.

The 60% dabbled but couldn’t get it to work or didn’t track the numbers. They didn’t get educated in the new areas of marketing. The 20% stuck their head in the sand and hoped the internet would go away.

It happened to me – so I learned

My first consultancy business was in the 80%. Started in 2003 we bumbled along for 7 often painful years, just about surviving the financial crisis before calling it a day. When I set up my current business, I looked back at why the first had struggled and it was because of a lack of knowledge and understanding about marketing and sales and I vowed to put the right.

Social media

In the mid to late 2000’s social media was born and once again the early adopters creamed it, leaving the 80% in their wake. Now, every business needs to have a presence on social media. The 20% still have their head stuck in the sand and pretty much ignore it.

The 60 % are forever in catch-up mode. They know they need to do something, but what? Facebook changes almost as frequently as Google and there are new entrants all the time. So they end up throwing stuff out there hoping some of it will stick.

What the top 20% do

What are the top 20% doing? Well the top 20% really know their markets and have clear, targeted messages they want to get out to those markets. So as they see new developments in social media they look to see which markets adopt them. If their target market is using Snapchat then they test, measure and adjust their use of it. And if it works, they go large! They amplify their use and make it their own.

The 1% and 4% lead the charge here. Being really successful gives you the confidence and the funds to try these things. The 15% look at what the top 5% are doing and quickly follow suit on what works best.

What can you do?

The difference between the top 20% and the 80% isn’t as great as you might think. Yes the difference in financial terms can be huge but that is merely a consequence of the real difference. It’s not about the funds to invest in stuff or even the knowledge of how to do stuff. And it’s certainly not about luck.

The real difference

The real difference is attitude – your attitude. If you have a “can’t do” attitude then the age old saying will always be true:

 

If you always do what you always did,

you’ll always get what you always got

You have to be different from the pack, different from the masses. Different from the 80% that are almost always wrong!

So you have to have a “can do” attitude and get yourself educated. With the right networking and business support groups and plenty of high quality e-learning available, there really is no excuse.

But learning is only productive if it leads to implementation. That’s what the top 1% and 4% do – they learn and implement. Then they test, measure and adjust. You can do the same but on a smaller scale. And the 15% see what works best for the tope guys and apply it in their markets, also testing, measuring and adjusting for themselves.

You CAN emulate that. But remember, it starts with knowing your markets and having clear, segmented messages for those markets.

My experience

When I set up my current business I was focussed on project management consulting and training. A clear market, segmented by industry. I had clear messages on what I had to offer – the benefits I brought to the table. Where did my target market hang out – LinkedIn. So I had the three magic criteria sorted:

Market – Message – Media

The result

Virtually all my project management training and consulting revenues since 2010 have been generated as a result of LinkedIn. If I could have cloned myself, I could have made 3 or 4 times as much money.

  • LinkedIn was the place that I knew I could find my target market
  • LinkedIn enabled me to demonstrate the benefits I deliver
  • LinkedIn provided the recommendations that backed up my statements with social proof
  • LinkedIn provided me with the means to find and connect with my target market
  • LinkedIn enabled me to bypass PAs and gatekeepers and get conversations with target clients

Help for you

Whatever market you are in LinkedIn provides the platform to showcase you and your business, to demonstrate your credibility, to prove your expert authority. If you are selling to other businesses then it can also be the source or high quality, qualified leads for your business.

I now help businesses leverage online marketing and social media – especially LinkedIn – to step out of the 80% and into the 20%. If you have the attitude I have the programme that provides the learning for you to implement. Check out the LinkedIn Business Advantage Programme by clicking on the link or the image below.

 

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