Category Archives: Marketing

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.

 

For Hire- Inquire Within

7.1.15July 1 marks the ending and a new beginning of your business quarter.  How is your business doing?  Are you hitting your targets?  Exceeding them?  Bravo!

For those of you who cannot celebrate such business success, perhaps it is time to consider hiring a business coach.

I know, I know, this is shameless promoting of my services.  Please stick with me and see if any of the following pain points ring true for you.

  • You are stuck for creative ideas for marketing your solution for your target markets’ pain points.
  • You want to move faster in signing up new clients.
  • You have a business but no private life because you are working all the time.
  • You want extraordinary results in your business.
  • You become easily distracted and don’t implement the simple steps that would insure your business success.
  • You want a second opinion from someone who knows about managing successful businesses.
  • You are in your comfort zone and need to have a breakthrough.

If you answer yes to any of the above statements, it is time to seriously consider hiring a business coach.

It is worth your time to interview some business coaches to see if you are a match.  And, don’t be shy about letting the potential coach know that you are browsing around to see what a coach can offer you with your particular conundrum in business.  They will understand and not make you feel uncomfortable.  If they don’t understand and leave you feeling “icky” about the interview, that person is not the coach for you.

And, you can call me!  My first consultation is free and I would love to meet you!  You can reach me for an appointment at susanjamescoach.com.

 

Sharpen Your Focus

6.24.15Greatness doesn’t start with a market opportunity; it starts with a problem that needs solving.  The opportunity comes from marketing the solution.

-Simon Sinek

One of the things I know for sure is that business success is not built on an entrepreneurs desire to make money first and foremost.  It is built on the entrepreneurs’ desire to make a difference by providing services that offer a solution to a problem or pain point that their intended client has.  This desire to make a difference cannot be artificially created or conjured by the business.  It has to be real, authentic, transparent, and easy to detect.

You know that slimy feeling you get when someone is pitching a program or service that has been developed and marketed by someone who really doesn’t give a rat’s behind about the potential client’s problem but is acting as if they really care.  You can spot it a mile away and my guess is that you quickly delete the marketing pitch.  I know I do that and I would bet you do too.

By your spending the time to know your “one” person who represents your target market, you definitely get to know where the target client has pain and how they talk and think about it.  Also you have created a unique solution for alleviating that pain.  And you believe that your solution will bring them relief.

Your challenge is to design a marketing program (marketing mix) utilizing the 4 “P”s: product, price, placement and promotion.  One of the most effective ways to get ideas for an effective design is to have a series of focus groups work with you in creating the marketing program.  A focus group is defined by Wikipedia as “…a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging.  Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members.”

Utilizing focus groups may sound a little intimidating but actually it doesn’t have to be.  It can be as informal as getting your friends and acquaintances together for pizza and asking them questions about your ideas for a marketing program.  Or if you like, you can download an excellent PDF guide for running focus groups, prepared by Elliot and Associates: How to Conduct a Focus Group (control click to download the document ).

For impatient entrepreneurs who just want to get on with it and not do this research, I totally get what you thinking.  To you it might seem like getting ready to get ready which indeed is a time waster.  However, this type of research on your part will give you more opportunities to offer your solution to your target market. After all, that is why you are in business—isn’t it?

 

 

Are You Selling To Please Yourself Or Your Client?

111914 Your OfferThere is a lot of value in being disappointed and failing in business.  Each disappointment and failure signals something that is not working in your business.  Once you see what is not working then you can change it, fix it, or just plain toss it away and not do it anymore.  Looking at what is not working sounds rather benign on paper; however on the playing field it can be painful for you, the entrepreneur, to face the fact that something you have put a lot of time and energy into is not working.

One of my clients had a brilliant idea.  In order to stimulate sales and bring in new clients, she would reduce her fee for service by 40% for a certain length of time.  She went about crafting her offer, designing special graphics, carefully composing emails about the offer and with much fanfare introduced her deeply reduced fee for service to her large list of potential clients.  What happened?  Nothing.  The offer bombed, and all the weeks of crafting, composing, and marketing was time wasted.

Another client has been selling a product to his target market for several years.  He has always told the potential buyer about the benefits and the limits of the product.  Sales were increasing steadily, but not dramatically.  He knew something was not working as it should.  After all, he always told the potential client what the product would not do as well as what the benefits were.  Why wasn’t his sales offering working as it should?

Both coaching clients came to their coaching session upset with their potential buyers.  They blamed the buyer for not understanding their offers.  “After all,” they said “My offer is wonderful.  Why isn’t the potential buyer buying?”

The answer to both coaching clients turned out to be the same.  They had forgotten WHO they were selling to.  They had made the assumption that the potential client knew their product offering as well as they did, when in fact, clearly evidenced by the disappointing sales numbers, the potential client didn’t understand the offer.  They didn’t see what they would be getting for their money so they declined the offer.  Once my client began to look at the offer through the eyes and mind of his potential client—his specific target market who he calls The One—he could see how to change the offer so it was appealing  

In the first instance, the coaching client could adjust the offer of the discounted fee for service by clearly listing what benefits the potential client would receive by accepting the offer.  The benefits would be written in such a way that would speak the language of the potential target client.  The potential client would want what the person was selling because it spoke to his needs.

In the second instance, the seller saw that in his quest for being honest and straight about what the product would not do, he didn’t specifically highlight what the product would do for the client.  He had been emphasizing the short fall, NOT the benefits.  The clients were left confused.

Do a thorough debriefing about your business failures with the intention of finding out what didn’t work.  It is essential to your entrepreneurial process.  Only when you see clearly why something didn’t work can you change it so that it does work.  The real proving ground for the success of every offer is through the eyes and ears of your target market, the specific person, the One.  If the One won’t buy the offer, find out why.

I am looking forward to hearing from you about this topic.

 

What Are You Doing for Q4? Don’t Know? Do These 3 Steps

10.1.14Welcome to the last business quarter of the year!  This quarter is commonly known as Q4 in business terms.  Are you greeting it with glee and joy?  Probably not.

This is a very dangerous time of the year for you because all the best holidays are coming up: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve.  It is our human tendency to figuratively, take off our “Spanx” and relax into the holidays.  However, if you do so without taking some steps to insure that your business continues to grow, you may be setting yourself up for more work in marketing your business and creating sales occurring for next year and this final quarter.

Do these steps before the holidays begin and you can set up a plan that will take you forward to next year.

1. Look at what worked for you this year.  Please list each item that worked and why it worked.  We are doing an analysis here.  This is a paper and pen analysis.  Not a mental analysis.  What caused the most profit in your business?  What segment of your target market responded to your marketing?  Was it your marketing plan?  Your new offers?  Your outreach to your target market?  These are just a few examples of looking at what worked.  Each business is unique and you will have unique answers to what worked.

2. Look at what didn’t work for you this year.  Perhaps, writing down what didn’t work will be harder for you.  We do like to look where we succeed not at where we fail.  It is so important to list the failures too.  Without looking at them purely from an analytic point of view, we cannot see what we should stop doing or change.  Both steps are important.  You will have your unique responses to this step.  Note to Self: This is not a step that you use to beat yourself up with.  No, it’s an approach to having your business thrive.

3. Keep your marketing going during Q4.  Our tendency to stop causing business through effective marketing also damages sales for the next year.  If you are “out of sight” during the Q4, you are setting yourself up for business disappointment in the next year.  Keep your business marketing present and valuable to your clients and potential clients.

By doing these simple steps, you will be far ahead of most businesses.  And of course, it will be much easier to enjoy the holidays with business success standing there glittering away.

I look forward to hearing your comments.  Please tell me what you will do as you go forward to Q4.

 

What Would Happen If You’d Know Shirley

Target Market7.16.14“Shirley” is the code word for one of my client’s target market.  He knows his “Shirley” so well that he decides his marketing strategy with asking the question: “Would this work for Shirley?”  When we are brainstorming new marketing ideas, often he decisively says, “Shirley would like that,” or, “Nope. Shirley would never go for that.”

And what about you?  Do you know your target market so well that it has a name?  Or an age?  Or . . . well, you get the picture.

Most entrepreneurs don’t take the time to properly research or define their target markets.  And then they spend lots of money on marketing schemes that don’t work out.  Why don’t they work out?  They don’t know—specifically and painfully in full detail—their target markets.  They have some general ideas about their target markets, but there is no real definition.

However, when you look at the businesses that nail it in the market place, they have designed their marketing approaches to fit with and appeal to their specific target markets in a way that speaks directly to this market.

Most entrepreneurs don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on defining their target market but neither does my client who knows Shirley so well.  Here is what he did that works for him.

He asked some simple and yet powerful questions to who he is selling to right now.  He used his already satisfied clients as an advisory group who agreed to allow him to find out what their concerns are, what would satisfy their concerns in the future, and how he had helped them.  He also noticed, from a demographic point of view, how old his satisfied clients are, where they live, and the specific sex of who made the majority of decisions.

In summary, this client used his relationship with satisfied clients to breathe life into Shirley.  He did tell them what he was doing and why he was doing it.  His clients were happy to help him.  They were generous with their time and input.  They still check in with him to see how he doing on his project.

Granted this isn’t a very scientific approach to developing a target market but it works.  It will help you as an entrepreneur to get to know your Shirley.

Please feel free to comment below on this simple process. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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