Monday, July 15, 2013

What’s in it for me?

Sometimes I see websites with cute names and clever taglines.  The homepage is emblazoned with company copy; telling the visitor what awards they've won, how excited people  are with their services or how to find them all over the web.  They graciously invite us to sign up for everything. 

But I can’t or I won’t sign up until I figure out what’s in it for me. 

And this is the sales thing.  It’s so easy to forget that we're attempting to promote and sell our product to humans.  And as humans one question reigns supreme; how are my needs being met?  

It’s all about self-interest.  So where we love the pretty colors and clever company names it’s not enough. 

You'll get your target market’s attention if you remember to sell the benefit, not the features.  I know that’s really old school but it’s also proven.  Make the case to your customer or client that they'll feel smarter, healthier, prettier or wittier with your product or service and they'll follow your lead. 

Indulge me as I throw out one more pertinent old school adage; “Don't tell me what you do, tell me what you can do for me. “  

Hiding in plain sight. 

Now, let’s talk about finding your audience. 

I have a new entrepreneurial group I want to serve.  I have the information they desperately need and can deliver that information in a communication style that connects.  But I'm not certain where they hang out.  

How do I find them and grow the market? 

It’s really very easy.   Find someone within the market and ask them where they go for information.  Where online?  What magazines?  Radio stations, etc.  Interview people within the market and they'll tell you all you need to know.   

Then plant your seeds in that soil and prepare for a harvest.   

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Resist Temptation

There are so many gigantic decisions to make when you're in business it’s easy to go into overwhelm.   You probably have tons of examples but let me paint a picture.    

Let’s say you need to make a decision on something as important as a lease.  You see an appealing space but can't decide if the location works or if the square footage warrants a five-year commitment. 

You're thinking it might be a good strategy to share the space with other entrepreneurs especially in the beginning but you’re a little uncertain with regard to the type of arrangement you desire.   

It might also be a good idea to get a contractor in there to look at the space before you sign, especially because you're a little concerned about the leasehold improvements.  The landlord said she'd give you two months free for leasehold but still you're uncertain even about that deal. 

You're stressed, bewildered, crazed.  At times like this it's tempting to go shopping. 

If you're a baker you go to the nearest restaurant supply and buy stuff.  Baker’s racks, sheet pans, and bundles of boxes.  You make jewelry?  You need more wire, more glass, more everything.  Or you're a service business then let’s just go into the Apple Store and see what new piece of technology is promising magical returns.     

It’s really easy to rationalize this type of runaway spending.  You need this stuff.  Maybe not today (or tomorrow) but certainly the way your business is expanding it will all come in handy.  Right?

Well, wrong.  We've all done it.  But the net, net, net of this situation is that it ties up valuable cash.  And we know cash is king. 

When we're stressed and can't figure out the next right thing to do we have a tendency to zone out and do something that makes us feel in control.  But don’t find the false feeling of control with your wallet. 

In the long run it only serves to tie up your working capital.  So while you're in this fragile state of mind its best to stay away from the shops that carry the supplies and small equipment, the costly promotional items or the fun phones.   All that spontaneous spending may results in unnecessary inventory or needless gadgets.  Neither of which will pay the rent.   

Maybe I can help with the stress.  Well, not really me, Chip and Dan Heath.   These are the same guys who brought us that wonderful marketing book; “Made to Stick,” which is still in my Top 10 list of business books.  This is their newest title:

This should help but if it doesn't I have one more suggestion.  Change into your exercise gear.  Strap on your running shoes and go for a run.  It’s guaranteed to clear your mind and possibly allow the right answer to expectantly pop in.