Small Business Leadership Tip: Are You As Smart As A GOOSE?

As you’re running your business on a day-to-day basis (yes including all the dirty work, meetings, client calls, hassles, heartaches and headaches) do you ever stop and wonder if there’s an easier way? Does the thought occur to you – as it has to me oh so many times – that this whole work and business thing should simply NOT be this hard.

Finally, has it occurred to you to ask the key question, “How can I make it easier on my team – my customers – and myself?”

Animals can teach humans so much if we simply observe. Take a flock of geese for example.

The small business smarts of geese:

1. They fly in a V-Shape formation for a reason. It reduces wind resistance by 67%.

2. They all honk for the leader but they are always changing out the leader so that the leader can rest & they honk just as loudly for the next leader in line.

3. When one of the geese gets shot down, another goose will stay with him until he dies or until he is able to fly and rejoin the group.

Ponder these questions about the small business leadership lessons of geese:

1. In our workplace, do we work to reduce resistance within our team and “fly in formation” — or do we create unnecessary resistance with our colleagues and customers?

2. Are you a “honker” – an encourager, team advocate and a builder of people?

3. Are you taking steps to ensure everyone on your team is ready to excel in leadership roles as needed?

4. When one of your team members is having a bad day or is “shot down,” do you help them until they can “fly again”?

Remember, when it comes to being a leader you should always value the opinions of your team and followers. All successful leaders put in hard work and long hours more so than everybody else because they have a greater calling i.e. a responsibility to make sure everyone is on the right path and working towards goal achievement. Individual goals take a backseat in relevance with the goals of the team because it is only through teamwork i.e. cooperation and co-ordination can organizational goals be achieved. A leader never slacks off. Leaders never make excuses not to do a work or for not having to fulfill an objective. Leaders take full responsibility of whatever they direct their teams to do and however they plan to carry out tasks for goal achievement.

Apply these small business smarts of geese to help you achieve your leadership goals in your business.

Advertising Tips For a Small Business

Advertising is an expensive sounding word, and for good reason. But it need not be. If you own or manage a small business, here are some advertising and marketing tips that will fit your budget.

1. The first and most important small business advertising tip is to be “web-centric” in all your marketing and advertising.

This means that your website is the hub of your marketing plan, and the purpose of almost every other form of marketing is to drive people to your website. If you do an ad in the paper, the focus point is your web address; if you do a billboard or radio spot, the whole purpose is to get people to go to your website.

The reason this is the most cost effective strategy is because changing the content on your website is very fast and inexpensive, while changing printed materials is time consuming and costly. By making the purpose of all your other marketing and advertising simply to get people to your website, those other printed materials never go out of date, since your web address is yours as long as you want.

2. Make the focus of your website the collection of contact information.

Many small businesses think that the point of their website is the get people to buy right now. Those who are involved in internet marketing know otherwise: the purpose of a website is to gather names and email addresses and phone numbers, with permission to contact the prospect. This way, whether or not they ever come back to your website, you can contact them and sell to them again and again, giving them special deals to entice them to order online or come into your physical store.

How do you get people to offer up their contact info? By giving them something of value in exchange for it. If you own a home renovations company, develop a top ten list of things people can do to increase the value of their home- with at least five of them being things that you offer! If you are a retail outlet, you may want to offer a coupon for 10% or more off their next in store purchase. Do what it takes to get the contact info of your web visitors. Doing so greatly increases the likelihood that they will become customers some day.

3. Follow up rigorously.

One area most small businesses fall short in is following up on leads or contacts. That is simply leaving money on the table- money that is rightfully yours! And, since your competitors are likely not doing a very good job of follow up, excellence in this area will set you apart from them, and endear you to your prospects.

When someone enters contact info on a web form, have an immediate mailing to them. Develop a well thought out autoresponder series to keep in touch with them for several weeks or months, depending on the nature of your business. And, if you have their phone number, phone them with a special offer of some kind. Make them glad they left their contact information. If someone asks a question, especially online, make it a priority to get the answer to them as soon as possible. Again, your care of their concerns will set you apart from your competitors and gain you clients.

Small Business Marketing – The Number 1 Question to Guide Your Communications

When you’re scheming on your small business marketing and communication strategy, never leave out the most important marketing question there is –“So what?” Your customer just wants to know what’s in it for them. They don’t want to do any investigating, homework, or even have to think about it at all. They just want it straight up. If you’re not communicating the advantage of doing business with you, then what’s going to stop them from going to “the other guy”?

Marketing 101: FAB (Features, Advantages, Benefits)

Any marketing student could easily have FAB tattooed on their forehead, as it has been drilled into them so often. It is crucial to your small business marketing success, so let’s make sure you understand the concept. The first step in communication of your service or product is to create an FAB list.

  • F is for Features: The “what.” What is it? What do you do? Your product or service’s characteristics.
  • A is for Advantages: The “how.” How can it be used or how it can help. The advantages of your product or service.
  • B is for Benefits: The “why.” Why should I buy? What’s in it for me? The results customers will get from using your product or service. The answer to the question “So what?”

Let’s look at some examples of FAB to help clarify…

ABC Motor Oil

  • Feature: High quality ingredients.
  • Advantage: You car will run better.
  • So what?

Benefit: Peace of mind, wherever you drive.

Bob’s Bread

  • Feature: We only use organic ingredients in our bread.
  • Advantage: It’s a healthier bread with no chemical additives.
  • So what?

Benefit: You will no longer be polluting your body or the planet with your morning toast.

In certain cases, using the FAB model might seem too obvious or pushing things too far. Using your best judgment is key. Ask for a second opinion if it seems too “cheesy salesman” or just feels weird. A good trick is to pretend that you are selling your best friend on your business. This will keep it feeling genuine, as if you’re speaking from your heart.

Don’t forget that stating the obvious is often very effective. Remember: your client doesn’t want to have to connect any dots, so do it for them. Who is your target audience? What will connect with them and get them feeling warm and fuzzy inside?

Where to use FAB

FAB applies for any of your small business’ marketing communications. Your promotional materials like brochures, press releases, advertisements etc… Your website is, without question, the most important spot. This is your online home for whatever your goals might be: clients in your store, buying products, signing up.

A Step Ahead of the Competition

After completing your Marketing 101 lesson with your new found FAB knowledge, you’ll be surprised how many businesses overlook it completely. They might list a couple features, throw in some advantages and call their marketing communications complete. Just by answering “so what?” you’ll be miles ahead of the competition in many cases. The benefits of doing business with you must be crystal clear in your customer’s mind. Communicate your benefits however and wherever you can. They are what really matter in the end. Ask yourself the Number 1 Marketing Question and see what it can do for your small business.

Newsletter Marketing Tips For Small Business

If you own and operate a small business and would like the BEST way to get new customers, add an abundance of referrals and ultimately drive your sales, then you must use a client newsletter. In fact newsletter marketing is something every small business can do no matter what they sell, how stiff their competition, or how far the economy falls.

But the best part of the whole equation is the simple fact that newsletter marketing is as close to a magic bullet as you’ll find.

Here’s a question and answer session to help you put the power of newsletter marketing to work in your small business.

Newsletter Marketing Tips:

What’s the most important part of a client newsletter?

I get this question all the time. And the answer I’m going to give you may shock and surprise you. But it’s the truth. So here goes: Get a newsletter out the door every month. Even if you have all the parts wrong, you’re better off doing something then waiting around until your newsletter marketing skills are ‘perfect’.

Why should you write and mail a client newsletter?

It’s an under the radar (and ridiculously fun) way to promote your business. Nobody expects to get a marketing message when they read a newsletter. And for this reason it becomes a great way to subtlety promote your products and services while also delivering a ton of extra value for your audience.

What is the best way to get a client newsletter mailed out?

Simply set aside time (about 4 hours per month) to write and mail a client newsletter. This takes some discipline in the beginning. But the more you do it, the easier and faster you’ll get.

Is there something that makes this easier?

Another great question. And like anything else practice makes perfect. So don’t beat yourself up if you’re not the king of newsletter marketing in the beginning. Go easy on yourself. Give yourself a chance to hone your chops, until you do become a rip roaring newsletter samurai.

Is there anything that must be in a client newsletter?

There are a host of things that must be in an effective client newsletter. But since it’s your newsletter you get to make the rules. Sure, my client newsletter would be different than yours. But then again, you and I are different people.

Who should get your client newsletter?

Every person that has bought from you, even if they haven’t purchased anything in a long time is a perfect candidate to receive your client newsletter.

So there you have it.

Six questions you can ask yourself to use the power of newsletter marketing to drive new customers, referrals and repeat sales into your small business.