5 keys to answering “Where’s your money at?”

My standard answer to any question phrased like this is “it’s at a place that doesn’t end it’s sentences in prepositions”. Not surprisingly English majors and I am the only who finds that chuckle worthy.

Seriously, where is your money at? Do you know?

And let me be clear…I’m not talking about the money you already have. I’m asking about the money you’re about to or hope to receive. Your next money. The real money. The money that is going to help you sustain and enjoy life. From where will it come?

A challenge I see in many small businesses is that they are not only unsure where the next business is coming from, they’re not even sure why they got their last piece of business. It’s kind of like throwing crap on a wall to see what sticks (I’m not sure why this phrase exists, what it truly means of why I am compelled to use it…other than it does illustrate the point). Even if your lucky enough to have it stick, it’s still just a bunch of crap.

As business owners we often take on business we don’t really want because we need the money to grow. That’s fine…for a while. If you’re in the habit of doing that, it ultimately becomes a recipe for disaster. IF you’re good AND lucky, you can make some money for yourself and others prior to disaster striking. If you’re either good OR lucky, you’ll get to stick around for a bit and make some money for yourself or others. If you’re neither good nor lucky, well you can figure that one out.

What if you could simply focus on the sweet spot of your business? You know the part that you LOVE doing and your clients are thrilled with the work you deliver…yeah, that’s the stuff. If you got really clear on your business’s focus and intentions, you would find something very interesting…

Your money is likely in plain view. It’s right in front of you. Perhaps it’s swirling all around you. Are you aware enough to know when to reach out and grab it?

We spend a LOT of time “prospecting” for new business. In my post last week I discussed the importance of going deeper into existing clients and selling more to them. You also need to make sure your network knows exactly how they can do business WITH you and refer more business TO you.

It’s likely that you’ve been doing a good job helping your network. The question is are you doing a good job helping them help you? Are you giving them specific information as it pertains to what your needs are? Are you doing it with enough frequency as to keep them informed but not much as to annoy them? (IF your needs change often or you have a lot of them…don’t feel badly about sharing them often. It’s hearing the same need over and over again that cause question). I believe that you’re very safe posting one of your needs for every eight posts you share that engage others. If you’re adding REAL value (as defined by you and they, not me) you could get away with one out of five. Always remember to give more than you seek. It is important to note that sharing a way others can help you is one form of giving, it’s just not the only one on which you should rely.

The keys to knowing where your money is at are the following:

1. Understand who your ideal clients are
2. Use that knowledge to find good strategic partners
3. Create messaging that speaks represents your brand well and speaks to their needs
4. Share that messaging anyway you can with those who will “hear” it especially your current clients
5. Don’t assume your network knows how to help you. Tell them. Often.

So tell me, where’s your money at??

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WHAT you do isn’t nearly as engaging as WHY you do it

If you’ve been to a networking event, high school reunion or just about any other type of gathering you’ve been asked the question: What do you do?

Here’s the trick… in most instances “what you do” isn’t really all that exciting. In fact, a lot of us have relatively boring jobs. And interestingly enough the longer we’ve been doing them, the less exciting we make them sound.

The next time someone asks you what you do give them a quick answer of your general business category. Then instead of talking at length about what that means…tell them why you’re excited to do it every day. Or tell them what got you into that line of work in the first place. Passion is engaging!

I created and run a large business networking group that meets online and face to face in and around the Detroit area. That’s one of the things I do. That answer isn’t nearly as exciting as I’m passionate about other’s success and I provide connections and opportunities for them to improve their personal and business lives.

How can you incorporate WHY you do something into the WHAT you do? Should you have a challenge answering this question, there are great coaches who can help you. If you’re not passionate about what you do, it may be time to change what you do.

Do let me know how I can be of service to you.

BYBY (Be Your Best You)

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Prospecting: Why is it “out with the old, in with the new?” aka You CAN sell more to your existing clients •

Do you spend more time courting new prospects or adding more value to existing clients?

One thing I’ve noticed about most businesses is during their first five years the only thing that grows more than their sales is their line card*. It makes natural sense. You do good work for a client and they like both you and the work you did. They ask you if you can handle their next project. Even though it’s outside of your sweet spot, you need the money so of course you say yes. It happens over and over and again. You become an expert in starting new lines of offerings. Sadly most of these are one-offs and the only way the majority of your clients would learn about them is on your “about us” page on your website.

What’s interesting is that if you have a minimum of even a one person sales force, your prospects are hearing about all you offer. Many salespeople are great at telling prospects ALL about your business and your offerings. Great salespeople learn about the prospect’s challenges and do problem solving based on your company’s offerings. Either way, your prospects are learning about this fancy line card you’ve developed.

What about those existing clients? Are you surprised to find out they’re unlikely to spend time on your website? Can you blame them? They are your client after all. They are already getting the best you have to offer, right? The truth is, they are getting the best that you are offering them. The question becomes could you be offering them more? If so, how do you expect them to find out about it?

You have options:

Existing sales team: Can you assign your staff existing accounts to call on? If they sell new products or services they get the same commission as if it were a new client (obviously you don’t want to assign Jimmy’s client to Bobbi Sue if they’re both still employed by you). You could also have a contest. Take a week and have the entire focus be driving new business from existing business. Not only can you likely sell more to your existing clients, you can likely get multiple referrals from them too.

Email- Do a couple of e-mail campaigns that inform your clients of all of your offerings. Give them special pricing or volume discounts. If your services are valuable, you are doing them a disservice by not letting them buy it from you…especially if they are already buying it. There are lots of e-mail management services you can use to accomplish this like constant contact or icontact.

Direct mail- You can send surveys, product announcements, special promotions and more. They can be a postcard or a big fancy envelope with lots of info inside. If you do it right, like my client Continuity Programs** does, be sure to include a tear off pre-paid response card that collects leads for you.

Social media- Perhaps you’ve started a group for just your existing clients. If you haven’t, now wouldn’t be too late to do so. Keep them involved in what’s going on in your world. Give them insight on how to use your products better. Let them know from your perspective how they can work better with you. Add value to them. Always remember that your clients NEED (well, at the very least Want) you to be successful so you can continue servicing them. They are some of your biggest fans. Treat them as such!

Any of these options will work for you. If you did them all, that would work too. The key is to make a choice and then a concerted effort to make it happen. I hope you will implement some of these ideas because I am sure your business will grow.

What suggestions would you share?

*old school term that references ALL of the products and services a business offers.

** Continuity programs offers many lead generation and customer retention services that could be valuable to you. Their website is http://continuityprograms.com and phone # is 800-521-0026.

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Ideas on how your business can use the “Big 4″ in Social Media to grow

Linkedin is the place for business. With 100M + users this is a powerful
tool in the toolbelt. Its great for sharing your past experiences, has groups to connect with others who share a common interest, has a handful of business specific apps and the most powerful search tool in social media.

In my opinion the best offering LinkedIn has is the ability to either find or be found. Their search capabilities are so incredible. In fact, Google uses LinkedIn as one of the first places it checks when a search on a person is conducted. This search is important for your sales folks to identify target clients, your H.R. team to find future employees, your marketing team to find strategic partners and for your prospective clients to be able to find you and your business.

A few things you will want to be sure to do on LinkedIn:

• Join the groups that are relevant to your industry.

• Have an updated company listing.

• Leverage LinkedIn for your hiring needs.

• Complete your profile (a specific “how to” is included in this piece).

• Use the status update feature occasionally.

• Upload your address book and increase the size of your network.

• Use the event feature to list events you’re having and check out the ones you’re attending.

Twitter is the most misunderstood tool in the belt. It’s way more than just “sitting on your patio”. What’s particularly awesome about Twitter is just how much you can get done while sitting on your patio! The search function is strong and the ability to connect with the next generation of thought leaders is vital. Twitter is a research tool as much as it is a broadcast tool. Smart businesses use this to provide excellent customer care, hire great talent, “listen” to what is being said about their business and of course market their products and services.

A few things your company can do right now:

• Figure out the core facets of your business and learn how to communicate each one in 120 characters or less.

• Go to http://monitter.com and select “keywords” that you would like to monitor about your industry, company, staff or whatever else interests you.

• Designate someone in your business to “monitor” twitter for mentions about your company. It’s another customer service channel.

• Understand how URL shortners like http://bit.ly work

• Use twitter to post open positions.

YouTube- sure your kids are watching the latest Katie Perry videos here and YouTube can help your business too. There are over 1 billion videos served up daily. People love quick tips, tours and product releases especially when they can see and hear them. Production quality is not nearly as important as it once
was and far less important than immediacy.

A few things your company can do immediately:

• Setup a YouTube channel for your company. This will allow you to customize the page so it fits with your brand.

• Have HR and Marketing talk about creating a “recruiting” video.

• Have a “brainstorming” session about how your company could create fun videos about your product like they did at Blendtec. Invite your entire staff.

• Consider a monthly “message from the CEO” video that discusses your business, the industry or anything else your prospects would find interesting.

• Invest in a “Flip” video camera or other camera that stays at the office.

Facebook combines all of the aforementioned aspects AND has over 550M users. Facebook can be an absolute nuisance and time-waster or it can be a power tool for your business. It’s a wonderful place to re-connect with your past, dive in deeper with your present and make plans with your future.

Your business will want to:

• Have a branded “public page” that communicates things of interest to your client base.

• Post status updates similar to those on Twitter (they can be longer on Facebook).

• Share the videos you created for YouTube and post photos

• Use the “events” to spread information about upcoming events you may host.

• Join groups and like pages that are relevant to your business/industry.

• Have a policy for how your company uses Facebook and all of these tools

How are you using these sites?
What tips would you add to this post?

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