Author Archives: susan

Eureka! Good News!

11.4.15We have been discussing the value of thoroughly defining your target market and performing an in depth review of YOUR specific target market.  The point of course is that without knowing WHO your target market is, your one person, your marketing is going to lose effectiveness.  Essentially, you will be flopping around expending energy that probably will not pay off in the types of results you are looking to achieve.  Your path to success will be littered with roadblocks and potholes.

How do I know that?  Usually, I am hired when the roadblocks and potholes get big.

Last week, I heard from a client who decided to take on developing his target market profile from the beginning.  This is a client who has been in business for years making a high profit and is successful.  He was struggling with launching a new division in his business.  This division is something that he is passionate about and he can see that it will make a difference in the world.  And yet he just couldn’t launch his offering or figure out what was stopping him.

My intuition told me that the target market his new offering would serve was not accurately defined.  He was trying to market to a target market whose description was no longer relevant to what he was doing now.  I challenged him to redefine his target market and also use a focus group to help him with the psychographic specifics.  He moved forward, thoroughly re-made the demographics and formed a group to answer specific questions regarding their thoughts and feelings about his new product.

Here is what happened.  The report came with this headline: My Project- Good News.  He said, “this target audience thing has really shifted me, and the clarity did this: I got a totally unsolicited order for a course offering.  I met a woman at a training program (we just happened to have dinner together) and when I told her my reason for developing the new division, she so got it that she wants to work with me—and she is my perfect client.  And lastly a couple sent me an email and asked if I did offer my new service and I am having an intro Skype call with them today.  Something has really shifted as a result of my knowing exactly what I offer and to whom.  I feel like a big boulder just lifted off my shoulders.”

If you are resisting defining your target market and are still mired in a lack of results, think about going the extra mile and make your target market come alive for you.  You too could be writing me a headline that says “Good News!”


How To Avoid Sleepless Nights and Useless Social Media Postings

10.21.15There is one thing that hundreds of previous clients have not done that has cost them sleepless nights and many hours learning to use the latest social media fad, but to no avail—they haven’t taken the time to define their target market.

I understand it to a point; some people think they have already done that and don’t want to waste time doing it again.  And there are other seemingly logical reasons not to spend time defining their target market.  They get confused about how to do it.  Or, they decide that everyone in the world is their target market and they don’t want to leave anyone out.

After deciding not to define their market, their next step is to jump into the latest popular social media way to market their goods or services.  Then they spend hours learning how to use the latest fad.  They master it and boom; they find they have no more clients than they did before.

Here is the easiest way to define your target market.  It’s so easy you just haven’t thought of it.  The key is to look at the demographics and psychographics of your customers.

Demographics include: age, ethnicity, education, marital status, employment, household income, number of children, and geographic location.

Psychographics is the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests and lifestyles.  In the use of psychographics, you are looking for why your customers want what they want from you, why they buy from you.

The best way to find out about the demographics of your customers is do a simple survey.

And the best way to find out the psychographics of your customers is to interview them.  You can tell them why you are doing this and of course, anything that they tell you is confidential.  Here are some questions to ask your customers, keeping in mind that the questions relate to your offering: What do you like about my product?  What do you not like about it?  What had you buy this product?  What would have you NOT buy this product?  Ask questions that will elicit your customers’ personalities, values, opinions, attitudes, interests and lifestyles.  You are developing a profile of you target customers, and once you have that profile you will then know how to best reach them and market to them.  They will tell you how.

Taking the time to do the research to define your ideal customer will save you many sleepless nights and useless social media postings.

If you get stuck, I am here for you.


Your Fourth Quarter Game Plan

10.14.15We are beginning our fourth quarter of the year.  This is the time of the year to assess the factors that have influenced the success of your business in 2015.

Yes, it probably seems too early for this type of assessment but really it’s not.  When you look at the calendar and realize that we are entering in the busiest time of the year: Halloween! Thanksgiving! Holiday Season! New Year’s Eve!  Egad, it’s a good thing we are beginning now.

Let’s begin by doing an honest and in depth analysis of what has been working for you in your business this year. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What offering has created the most profit in your business this year?
  • Which segments of your target market responded to your marketing?
  • Which new offers stimulated the most business this year?
  • What parts of your marketing hit home runs for you?

It is also beneficial to take a look at what didn’t work for you this year.  Ask what actions you could change to make them more successful, or if you want, stop those facets of your business that your target market doesn’t relate to.  Of course, you do not use what didn’t work in your business as a way to beat yourself up.

I am talking about a process that is designed to help you make the best decisions for your business.  It is the intention of this conversation to give you a game plan that is robust so you end the year on the highest note possible.  The best possible scenario is for you to end the year totally satisfied about what you accomplished this year.  By doing this type of analysis you will be able to plan for the advent of 2016 fully informed about what direction to take.

This is also a good time to put your marketing plan in sharp focus.  And of course, continue to market your business.  This is not the time to lean back and relax—this is the time to be present and clear in the market place.


Could You Introduce Me To Your Target Market?

9.30.15Whether you are starting a business or expanding the business that you already have, knowing and marketing to your target market is the gold standard for assuring marketing and sales success.

This idea of knowing your target market sounds so simple, and yet business owners stumble more on this step than any other.

  • Some people think they have already done that and don’t want to waste time doing it again.
  • There are so many opinions floating around about how to define a target market that people become confused and thus do nothing.
  • Others don’t want to leave out any potential client so they decide that everyone—the world—is their target market.

If you are stuck on defining your specific target market, I introduce you to my colleague, Jennifer L. Morrow, owner of Creative Company

Jennifer has over 35 years of successful experience in branding businesses.  She and her team of branding experts are world class experts in defining target markets.

Jennifer designed a simple worksheet to guide you in designing your target market.  It is innovative and very useful.

The worksheet will help you define your target market; it will help you determine how to design your marketing to reach the actual decision makers, and will help you discover what will cause them to buy the product or service you are offering. Read It Now


What Are You Afraid Of?

I think that “failure” 9.23.15has its roots not in the act of failing but what we think about failure.  After all, failing is just the act of not accomplishing what we set out to accomplish.  It is simply that and nothing more.  But when our minds get into the mix of failure, all hell breaks out.

What is the anatomy of failure in your minds?  It is something that is unique to each of us and possibly we revert to the age of the first time we know that we failed and the reaction of the people who witnessed our failure.  Certainly, it was not when we were learning to walk.  If you watch a baby beginning to walk, you notice that they end up on their butts more than striding across the room.  And our parents think it is cute, adorable or whatever.  Their reaction is mainly about acceptance and approval.

It is useful to think back to the first time you knew you failed and what happened then.  I suspect that it was around age 5 or 6 and a bicycle had something to do with the failure.  Falling off a bicycle when you want to ride it sooooo much is an absolute failure.  It is possible that the reaction of people watching is dismay or disgust, or they ridicule you in an unkind way.  What happens is not your reaction to failure.  It is instead your reaction to shame, not making the standard etc.  Of course, this is an example and you will have a better one that is uniquely yours.

The point is that we are not reacting to the failure, but instead to what we say to ourselves about it.
Here are some things that clients say to me when they have failed.
I know everyone is disappointed in me.
Everyone is laughing at me.
My (fill in the blank) thinks I am a loser.
How can I face my colleagues, staff, family?
Who did I think I am for even trying (fill in the blank)?

There is another way to view failure that may be more transformative.  Failure is just that—failure.  Failure allows us to see the next path or step to take.  It also allows us to evaluate if we really want what we thought we wanted.  If we decide yes, this is exactly what I want, then failure allows us to be more creative in new ways to get it.

Certainly, I am not being a Pollyanna, failure hurts and is certainly a way to make us stop and think about what we are really up to.  As business people we try many things and fail often.  To succeed, an entrepreneur must make friends with failure.

If you want support in turning your failure into a success, please contact me.  I am here for you.


What A Paleoanthropologist Can Teach You About Business

Last Thursday, September 10, 2015, a group of international scientists announced the discovery of a new hominin species in South Africa.  The name of the species is Homo Naledi. Homo Naledi, New Species

This is obviously ground breaking news!  And so what?—you may ask.  What does this discovery have to do with you, and with making your business more profitable?

The lead paleoanthropologist, Lee R. Berger, said this about the discovery, “I do believe that the field of paleoanthropology had convinced itself, as many as 15 years ago, that we had found everything—that we were not going to make any new major discoveries, and that we had this story of our origins figured out.  I think many people quit exploring; they thought it was safer to conduct science in a laboratory or sitting at a computer.  What the new species Naledi says,” Dr. Berger concluded, “is that there is no substitute for exploration.”

You do not have to be a paleoanthropologist to learn from Dr. Berger.  What he is pointing to is our tendency to think that everything has already been discovered, created, and figured out.  Berger has challenged us to continue to explore—to not give up and think it’s all handled—that we have seen it all.

How can I apply this information to my business?

  • Begin by questioning your assumptions.  (What about your business do you think is already figured out?  What does everyone know about your business?)
  • Then look to see if your business practices are stale, uninviting, and old.  What about your business should be upgraded and re-imagined?

This type of questioning can lead you to new discoveries and new ways of providing services to your clients.  It also leads to change, but I am not talking about changing for change’s sake; I am talking about inquiring into what you need to change, about being willing to change if you can see that the change could benefit your clients, and about implementing changes that will cause new results that are spectacular.


How Full Is Your Glass?

9.9.15We all know the idiom: “Is your glass half empty or half full?”  It is used to determine how someone sees or experiences their circumstances.  Half full and the view of the experience is optimistic; half empty and the view is pessimistic.  When life has handed me challenges, I have often used this phrase to determine not only how I was going to handle the situation but how I did the actions either cheerfully from a half full perspective or grumpily from the half empty perspective.  I suspect in the past, you might have used this phrase too, to determine your mood in facing a challenge.

There is no right/wrong in viewing your glass half empty or full.  There is another way which seems more powerful to me.  What I am talking about is the phenomenon of breakdown/breakthrough. Marshall McLuhan said it this way: Any breakdown is a breakthrough.  We all know what a breakdown is.  What is a breakthrough?  Webster-Merriam says it’s: a sudden advance in knowledge or technique. 

When we see our challenges as breakdowns, and we start to create solutions for the breakthroughs highlighted by the breakdown, we begin to advance ourselves and our intentions.

If we refuse to see breakdowns as a part of breakthroughs, we lose our spark and our interest in life.  We long to return to the safe past and live our safe life and have our safe, uneventful and most likely mediocre businesses.

If you are stuck in a breakdown and can’t see the breakthrough in it, please contact me.  I am always here to help.  I promise not to fill you with false optimism and a useless pep talk.  Instead we will develop a plan for having a breakthrough and the results that you want.


Who Are You Accountable To?

9.2.15Accountability is never to a number. Accountability is always to a person.

Simon Sinek

The question in the headline: “Who are you accountable to?” is a sticky one for entrepreneurs, especially if they are small business owners who are performing every function of the business–product creation, sales/marketing, administration, production, leadership and chief technician.  You wear all the hats and are frankly accountable to no one but yourself.  Most likely, that is why you started your own business.

In fact, the nature of the question actually insinuates you should be accountable to someone other than yourself.  But, is that true?  Isn’t it possible that you can and will be the person that you are accountable to, and that you as a solopreneur have the ability to compartmentalize your functions so that you can be accountable to yourself?  Yes!  That is possible.  What is important is that you are accountable to someone, even if that someone is YOU.

So, what is accountability?  According to the Webster’s Dictionary –Accountability: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions

The strength of the definition is in the phrase to account for one’s actions.  In order to be able to be accountable, one has to design measurable results for each of the functions of the business.  The measurable results are most powerful when they are quantifiable, specific, and also have a “by when” date attached.  When you do that then you have set up a way to be accountable to yourself.  Your planning does not have to elaborate, but it does have to have at least the minimum categories of what, by when and how much.  There are a ton of ways to plan for your business offered both on the internet and in business books.  Keeping in mind that simple plans are usually easier to implement than detailed plans with minute categories and subcategories.

Following this simple plan based on accountability will give you the structure you need to review the success of your business.  It will also make your business successful since you are being accountable for its success.  As your business grows you may want to engage someone to work with you to continue to grow your business.  If you already have a habit of accountability, you will be able to expect others who you hire to be accountable too.  Accountability allows you to set a standard of performance that will ensure that your business is outstanding.