Inbound Marketing Specialists: Providing SOLUTIONS is Your Business 

Inbound Marketing Specialists: Providing SOLUTIONS is Your Business 

“Always talk about SOLVING your customer's problems and NOT your own”.

So, your business is not about Sales nor Marketing (well, that’s not totally true but, play along for now) but, actually solutions.  Impossible, without them (sales & marketing) your business will evolve, arrive and remain for all eternity in the MLM Cemetery the final resting place for dead dealers (lovely ambiance).  Okay, since 2006, Inbound Marketing evolved and has proven to be the most cost-effective method of generating leads, traffic, connecting and developing a trustworthy business relationship between proprietor and prospect.  With the advent of rapid technological growth in business due to the Internet with   related software technology and personal devices that are social media oriented, consumer buying habits have changed dramatically and old outbound marketing methods are no longer effective.  To be successful in today’s marketing game it’s about researching and knowing how your audience “thinks”.  Recognize, today’s inbound marketing specialists as consumer behavioral analysts or more commonly known as profilers who analyze significant sums of data detailing past sales patterns and contact databases (surveys, interviews, etc.,) to uncover trends about how certain leads or customers find and consume your content.  It’s all psychology; therefore, to better influence anyone then, it starts with understanding their behavior through how they think.  It seems Jim Morrison (The Doors) was right when he said, “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind”.      

It's hard to believe; however, the success of any business has multiple essential components that must work together in a symbiotic relationship to provide good service to the customers and profit for the business.  One might say business is about relationship building between the owner customers.  This is a form of partnership or marriage; however, I strongly advise against signing a legal contract, while seeking intimacy with an entity that will result in lifetime vaginamoney and/or child-support…. this is called a WIN-WIN for everyone.

Well, the title of this article is true and the reason(s) is very SIMPLE.  Want to generate consistent, predictable and long-term residual income for any business?  Then, you better get real-good at providing a product and/or service that is designed to solve a problem.  People will always pay a fortune for a solution to a problem because it ensures long-term profits with less work over the course of time.  Sounds too sweet but, that’s the reality of business in today's online and off-line world of commerce.  So, the reason is clear and solution is logical; therefore, YOU are a Problem Solver.  Yes, you get paid and critical thinking and is your new oxygen. 

If, you think about it life is about solving problems. If, you recall those challenges back in school with math and how good you felt once you arrived at the correct answer.  Well, you are doing the same thing throughout your life and business is part of that journey.  Now, arriving at the correct answer is vital but, the Real Money is in developing a proven duplicative strategy that generates results.  This is how fortunes are made and secrets to success are guarded with the utmost of vigilance.

Alright, you now have the task of marketing your skills and knowledge to your desired target market and inform them, that you are here to help them.  Yes, HELP them and not yourself because you want to build a relationship that is both long-term and profitable for all parties involved…create the proverbial WIN-WIN.

So, how do you develop the skills, abilities and knowledge to demonstrate your credibility as a problem solver? Well, that process begins “the moment you decide to START a business and until that same business ENDS”. Now, most smart people just model themselves after a successful existing entrepreneur where you learn the basics of being a successful entrepreneur.  Yes, it's on the job training and the learning in truth, NEVER stops.  This is why successful business owners maintain the White Belt attitude in Martial Arts, “anyone can learn from anyone, regardless of experience”.  Makes sense to those who believe in customer satisfaction and success as a business owner. 

Now, as a problem solver it's important that you remain receptive to listening, learning and applying information to achieve a solution irrespective of personal feelings or beliefs.  This makes sense; however, like any challenge in life we all want to find the quickest, easiest and least expensive way of getting what we want due to our own narcissism.  Hey, it's only natural to want immediate self-gratification; however, that's our downfall because in the long-term we deny ourselves the opportunity to develop the needed skills/abilities to overcome challenges encountered in future business dealings.  It's about being Independent and creating a solution to challenges.  In doubt, just ask any Mindless automaton in Corporate American and difficulty of getting ahead.   "Don't find fault; find a remedy". — Henry Ford

Government is a perfect example of the antithesis of developing SOLUTIONS to problems.  If, you think logically about it government intervention addressing issues such as Crime, Unemployment, Poverty and other societal problems, the goal isn't truly about achieving an effective solution because that would eventually, lead to the elimination of their services.  In essence, government Profits from Problems; hence, intervention to address a non-existing problem isn't good for business of Govt Bureaucracy.  No, it's more about satisfying the more influential customer base (political donors) that impacts policy through their economic and political muscle.  Needless to say, charity begins at home and government is in no hurry to put itself out of business by actually implementing solutions to problems that actually work.

Evidence-Based research is all the rage in popular media; however, the caveat to it is the following: “Opinions don't affect facts, but FACTS should affect opinions, and do, if you're RATIONAL” …Ricky Gervais.

Well, being in the entrepreneurial spirit I invite you to review our information:

Vaurn James

Consultant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Business Development all about?

What is Business Development all about?

Is it the same for everyone?

Having now worked in a number of roles that you might consider as business development (BD), I thought I'd start my publishing journey on LinkedIn (this is my first post) with a bit of reflection.

It's often get asked what the difference between straight selling and BD is, so let's try and define the differences. To some degree, they're different sides of the same coin.

Selling and BD go hand in hand.

There are roles where there's been strictly selling, others where there is a combination of sales and BD, and also in roles that would be considered true and pure BD. In all, however, some links could be considered BD within that particular business.  BD is different for everyone and every business, dependent on a number of factors – budget, size of workforce, attitude to BD, etc.

What is 'true and pure' BD?

The sales process is one that involves a lot of people – product development, designers, pricing, marketing, technical, management – 'front-line' salesmen and 'top-end' management need to combine forces to deliver a product that their customers want.

If you walk into a shop to buy a pair of trainers, for example, this has been designed from the early stages by trained footwear designers, manufactured from these designs in a production process of sorts (industrial or bespoke, depending on the brand), marketed in the appropriate manner to raise awareness of the product, eventually landing on the shelves of the shop you're in, with a friendly guy/gal willing to help you transact some business when you make the decision to buy them.

So where does BD fit into this process? What's it all about then? I think the foremost word that comes up in the BD world is 'relationships'. That's pretty much what it's all about.

Good business development will help identify, maintain and encourage relationship building within a firm, building rapport with both suppliers and customers. It helps strengthen the bonds between these links, supporting the marketing copy and material that establishes your product in the relevant marketplace.

It helps provide information as to what the client needs to the 'front line' sales team, assisting them in closing the deal at the end of the process.

It helps inform management as to how the market is moving, providing insights into new developments of technology, social media and other digital avenues that the firm can take advantage of, to build and maintain loyalty.

It helps small companies access bigger markets and large companies engage newcomers. So my definition of 'true and pure' BD is 'helping a business to develop its relationships'. Plain and simple.

It's networking on a daily basis; attending cutting-edge events to learn about the industry you're working in; finding people on LinkedIn (as an example) to see what events they're attending and making sure you meet them there, in person, so that you can have that all-important introductory chat; it's offering your loyal customers something more than a newsletter – why not run a seminar and invite them along to it? They might be happy to be invited.

The personal touch is always a winner. We hear more and more now about relationships marketing, social currency, engagement, etc. BD is the platform that most of this is built on.

Who is it for?

As been mentioned before, The roles that have been classed as BD but have really been sales, have worked in hybrid roles where you might do a bit of both. What this has shown to all of us is that BD has a place in every business. You can't 'develop' your business without a good BD strategy.

So whether you're encouraging your front-line staff to sign up to a few newsletters, or get yourself down to a few networking events, or join a LinkedIn group and start up a discussion, BD is something that can't be overlooked.

It's all very well to have a great product and a nicely designed website, with some great leaflets and a slick business card but, without the right approach to BD, no one is going to see it in the way you want to. The one thing that sets apart the successes from the failures is the approach to BD.

Develop the relationships – build a community around your business and your product. It just needs to do what it says on the tin. The rest will fall into place and you'll have a strong, loyal customer base who are happy to sing your praises.

For that reason alone, if nothing else, BD is essential for pretty much any business going.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributer

Tips about Network Marketing

Tips about Network Marketing

A direct-selling expert shares what it takes to start out and make it in this industry.
 

You probably have an image firmly planted in your mind of what network marketing (also known as direct sales or multilevel marketing) is all about–housewives buying and selling Tupperware while gossiping and eating finger sandwiches, or a high-pressure salesperson trying to convince you how easily you can become a millionaire if only you and your friends and their friends and so on would buy and sell vitamins with him.

Both of these images couldn't be further from the reality of network marketing. It's neither a hobby nor a get-rich-scheme but an opportunity for you to earn money running your own part- or full-time business.

But what does it take to succeed in this industry? Vincent J. Kellsey, director of member services for the Direct Selling Women's Alliance, an organization that provides a variety of resources to women and men in the direct-selling industry, offers these tips for making it:

Choose wisely. There are six key elements you should be looking for [when selecting an opportunity]. Number one: stability. How old is the company? Number two is excellent products or services that consumers will use and need more of.

Number three is the pay plan–how even and fair and generous overall is the distribution? This is really crucial as the pay plan represents exactly how you'll get paid–or not get paid. There are really only two questions to ask [regarding this]: How many pennies out of each sales dollar get paid back to the distributors each month, and how fair is the distribution of these pennies between the old members and the new members?

Number four is the integrity of the company and the management. As much as possible, [investigate] the experience of the CEO, [their] experience in the network marketing industry, and their background. [Have] they been successful in other companies in the industry? Do they have a good reputation?

Number five is momentum and timing. Look at where the company's at, what's going on with the company, and if it's growing.

Number six is support, training and business systems. You may have [chosen] a great company with excellent management, products that make a difference, a pay plan that's uniquely fair and very generous, and momentum and stability, but if you don't have a system in place that works, all of that [doesn't matter]. Most companies will have a transferable training system that they use, and that's where mentorship comes in.

Practice what they teach. [To succeed,] you need to be willing to listen and learn from mentors. The way this industry is structured, it's in the best interests of the [MLM veterans in your company] to help you succeed, so they're willing to teach you the system. Whatever [your mentor] did to become successful, it's very duplicatible, but you have to be willing to listen and be taught and follow those systems.

The higher-ups. It can be called various things, but the general term is the "upline," meaning the people above you. How supportive are they? Do they call you? Do they help you put a plan in place? Are they as committed to your success as they are to their own? You should be able to relate to [the people in your upline] and be able to call them at any time to say "I need some help." How much support there is from the people above you in the company is very important.

Take up the lead with your downline. There's a term in the network marketing industry called "orphans"–when somebody is brought in and then the person who brought them in is just so busy bringing in other people that they don't spend the time to teach and train [the new person]. You should be prepared to spend at least 30 days helping a new person come into the industry–training them, supporting them and holding their hand until they feel confident to be able to go off on their own. You really need to ask yourself, are you willing to do that? Are you able to do that? This is really about long-term relationship building. It's not about just bringing people into the business and just moving forward. It's about working with these people and helping them to develop relationships.

On the net. People are utilizing [the internet] as their main marketing tool. [You can set up your site] with autoresponders so when you capture leads, the autoresponder can follow up with that person. One of the greatest keys to success in this industry is follow-up. Many people will have someone call them who's interested or they'll call the person and say they're interested, but then they don't follow up with it. Automation on the internet has allowed a much more consistent method of following up.

The only drawback with the internet is people who utilize it to spam. If there was one thing I could put forward to say, "Do not do" when utilizing the internet as a marketing tool, it's spamming because that can give a very bad reputation not only to you but also to the company you're working with.

Taking care of business. This is a business, and just like if you were running a franchise or a storefront, you [should have an] accountant. You have all the same write-offs tax-wise that you have with running a [full-time] business, so it's very important to [do your research] prior to getting involved, before you start making money from it. How is that going to affect you tax-wise? What are your write-offs?

It's important to set up a [support] team around you. I'd suggest seeking out lawyers who deal in network marketing, so they're very versed in all the laws and how that affects [your business.]. There are also accountants who specialize in dealing with homebased businesses specifically in the direct-selling industry.

Don't quit your day job…yet. Never leave your full-time position unless you're absolutely certain that the income that's coming in with this company is going to be there. [Be sure that] you've been with the company [for awhile] and that you know it's a stable company, and the income that you're earning is equal to or greater than the income you're earning from your job before quitting.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributer

Network Marketing Master Tips

Network Marketing Master Tips

Learn the secrets of MLM experts so you can follow in their footsteps.
 
 

 

Network Marketing is amazing. During my more than 30 years of working, it's the only form of business I've found that offers a level playing field. In other words, anyone can become successful in this industry. And the best part is that others have already blazed the trail to success, so you just have to look at what they've done and follow suit. There are things you'll hear over and over again as the principles to success in MLM. Here are the top five:

1. Be coachable. MLM is a business of duplication. Those who've already been successful will share their secrets to success, and all you need to do is listen and then do what they tell you. Unfortunately, I wasn't very coachable in the beginning. I was successful in traditional business and figured I could do the same things and be successful in network marketing. Boy, was I wrong! Because I didn't listen to my upline leaders, I didn't make any money at first. Successful MLMers have been there, done that–and have the paycheck to prove it–so be coachable, and duplicate their success.

2. Develop your dreams, goals and objectives. Studies have shown that very few people have written dreams and goals, yet those who do achieve high levels of success. Identify your dreams first. As yourself, if time and money weren't inhibitors, what would your life look like? Describe your dream house in great detail. Likewise, get a mental image of your dream cars, vacations, wardrobe, lifestyle and so on.

From those dreams, develop your goals. A dream is the big picture, and goals are the steps that will get you to your dreams. For example, let's say your dream car is a Mercedes SL65 with a cost of $225,000 and a monthly payment of around $3,800. What are the steps you need to take to achieve that dream? An increase in your income might be necessary, so your goal would be to increase your monthly income to, let's say, $10,000.

Next, you break your goals down into bite-size objectives (in our example above, this would be the things necessary to increase your monthly income to $10,000). Each day, you should review your dreams, goals and objectives in order to determine your daily activities.

3. Work. Network marketing has probably produced more millionaires than any other industry, and although each of those people built their businesses with different companies and using different methods, they all did one thing–work. MLM isn't a get-rich-quick scheme; you'll only get rich through hard work.

One of the main differences I see in those who fail vs. those who succeed is their level of work. Most people who've failed treated their MLM businesses like a hobby, working whenever they had some spare time. The top income earners, on the other hand, work at their businesses every day.

Let's say that after a thorough evaluation of your schedule, you can only devote 10 hours a week to your business. Take a daily planner and block out those available time slots. Remember, work isn't filing, checking e-mail or surfing the web. Work in MLM is prospecting, presenting, following up, registering new associates, training and support.

In the beginning, you should spend 90 percent of your time on prospecting, presenting, following up and signing up new people. As your network builds, you can devote more time to training and support. But never, ever stop prospecting, or your business will die.

4. Be consistently persistent. Most network marketers give up too early. They expect to make $10,000 their first month, and when they don't, they quit. But it takes time to build an MLM business. You're going to have to contact a lot of people, give many presentations and endure a great deal of rejection. However, it's the person who is consistently persistent who will succeed.

If you're duplicating a successful system, the only thing separating you from success is time. When things are looking dark, keep going. Make one more call. Talk with one more person. Follow up one more time. If you're with the right company, you should never give up because you'll eventually be successful.

5. Make a million friends. The advice that made the biggest impact on my success in network marketing was to go out with the idea of making a million friends instead of a million dollars. You can only be successful in network marketing if you help others become successful. So go out and find some new friends who you can help become successful in your business. Forget about your wants and needs, and serve these friends instead. This concept is called "servant leadership"–you lead by serving those you lead. The more friends you make and serve, the greater your success in network marketing.

These five principles of success are just the start. I'm sure that your sponsor and upline leaders have their own list, so make sure you ask them how they became successful. And finally, realize this: It's one thing to have this knowledge–and a whole different thing to actually do what you've learned. So be a doer, and watch your business and income skyrocket.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributer

Using Social Networking Websites to Promote Your Blog

social networking

social networking

Using Social Networking Websites to Promote Your Blog

Do you know what the main purpose of a social networking website is? If you are an avid internet user, you likely do. Social networking websites are online communities that make it easier for internet users to meet and communicate with each other.

If you are an internet user who enjoys using the internet to meet new people, there is a good chance that you already belong to a social networking website.

What about an online blog? Do you have one of them? If you do, do you know that you could use your social networking website to promote your blog?

Promote your blog? Why would you want to do that? Honestly, if you have to ask yourself that question you probably shouldn’t even have one. The whole purpose of a blog is to document your thoughts, views, and opinions on a particular topic, issue, or subject.

What good will your blog do if no one reads it. In addition to sharing your thoughts with the rest of the world, did you know that you could also make money from your blog?

You can sign up for affiliate programs or other programs like Google AdSense. If you are using your blog to make money then you will definitely want to promote it.

When it comes to promoting blogs, there are many blog owners who decide to let the search engine do the work for them. Search engines, such as Google Chrome, Yahoo, and Bing use special techniques that reads the content on your website.

That content is then used to rank your website with particular keywords. This means that you run a blog on graduating from high school in New York, there is a good chance that your blog will appear in searches done on New York high schools. Although many blogs are successfully ranked in search engines, not all are. That is why you are advised against relying solely on search engines, when it comes to promoting your blog.

As previously mentioned, if you love meeting with or talking to people online, there is a good chance that you belong to a social networking website or community.

The individuals that you talk to and that are in your community are likely the individuals that you wish to target. Since most social networking websites work to connect internet users who have the same goals and common interests, there is a good chance that your online friends will enjoy reading your blog. But, before they can read your blog, you have to let them know that it exists.

When it comes to promoting your blog on social networking websites, you have a number of different options.

Your first option is to include a link to your blog in your community profile or profile page. This will allow other community members to checkout your blog, only if they wish to do so.

The other way is to inform your online friends of your blog through private messages. Once you join a social networking website and create or join a network of friends, you should easily be able to communicate with those friends. Sending each of your friends a private message with information and a link to your blog tends to be more effective than just placing a link in your profile or on your profile page.

Although there is a good chance that you are already a member of a popular social networking website, you may not be. If you are not already a member, but would like to become one, you will need to find a social networking website to join.

This can easily be done with a standard internet search. In your search, you will likely find a number of popular networking sites, such as, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter. Before becoming a community member at one of these networking sites, you may want to first examine the website to ensure that it is everything that you want it to be.

As you can easily see, there are a number of different ways that you can go about promoting your blog on online social networking websites. You never known, but, in addition to promoting your blog, you may also make new friends along the way.

Ida Mae Boyd
Contributor

Here are 4 Content Marketing Metrics

Here are 4 Content Marketing Metrics

You may be pleased with your email open rate or the number of Facebook “likes” your most recent post received, but these numbers won’t impress your CEO. In fact, sharing these metrics with your CEO may demonstrate that you are out of touch with the true needs of the business. Using vanity metrics does not position you as a strategic player, but rather as a tactical marketer lacking a vision for how marketing can truly drive growth. Instead, deliver content marketing metrics that truly illustrate how your work is impacting the business.  

1. Number of sales-accepted leads

A sales-accepted lead (SAL) is a lead that your marketing efforts generated, and that the sales team has accepted as qualified. This metric is primarily applicable to B2B marketers using content to fuel their lead-generation strategy. “Sales accepted” usually means that a salesperson was able to set up a meeting with the prospect.

This metric speaks both to the quantity and quality of the leads you’re passing to the sales team. Simply telling your CEO that you produced 800 leads last month won’t cut it. You need to tie that number directly to its revenue potential. While you may have an average conversion rate for your leads, why rely on a calculation when you can simply provide a number that reaches further into the sales pipeline and is therefore, more reliable?

If you need to make the case for content marketing then you could go as far as tying SALs to individual pieces of content. For example, let’s say your business sells recruiting software to human-resource professionals. If your CEO questions why you spent a quarter writing a thought-leadership piece on best practices for hiring top talent, determine the number of SALs tied to the content, and then calculate the revenue potential. Better yet, provide your CEO with the actual revenue coming from SALs generated by that specific piece of content. You could do this by tracking the content piece’s downloads in your sales-enablement software, such as Salesforce, and looking at the potential or actualized deal size of each prospect who downloaded that content.

2. Share of voice

Your share of voice is the percentage of the conversation about a particular topic that your business owns versus that of your competitors. Share of voice used to be a term that primarily applied to the public relations field, but now content marketers are driving these conversations. You can look at share of voice in terms of press hits/article mentions or shares of that content on social media.

For example, let’s say you have two major competitors. One of them is older and more established than your business and has more market share. The other is a start-up company creating a lot of buzz with its blog. Using a competitive analysis tool like TrackMaven, you can easily determine which company is dominating the online conversation about your solution and the problem it solves. The start-up company may be blogging like crazy, but are readers sharing its content? The older, more established competitor might not be investing in content marketing, so is the audience talking about it online?

Show your CEO how your business stacks up to the competition when it comes to the digital conversation. If your content is being shared more frequently than your competitors’ content, and if more articles are being written about you than about your competitors, then you have a solid KPI that may suggest future growth.

3. Branded search

As a marketer, you are no stranger to SEO. But what about the people who come to your website by typing in your company’s name? You may not think that your content marketing has generated these website visits, and you disregard them when looking at your content marketing metrics. But these visitors are arguably at a later stage in the buying cycle (perhaps they are already customers), which makes them extremely valuable.

Monitor your branded search and direct traffic stats over time. This is a KPI for “word of mouth” and as these numbers grow, your business likely will too. While you cannot attribute this website traffic directly to your content marketing efforts, there is likely a correlation – particularly if your share of voice is also growing. Use this metric in combination with share of voice to paint a picture of growth for your CEO.

4. Customer sentiment

Customer sentiment is a measure of how customers (and prospects) feel about the brand, or a particular interaction with that business. Most CEOs are interested in the customer experience at all stages of the buying journey – from awareness to purchase to the ongoing relationship. If you are delivering content to customers at each stage, then the CEO will likely need to know how that content is impacting overall customer satisfaction.

Consider this B2C example. A large food company places a video on Instagram that features a group of college students on a beach enjoying this company’s snack. The video is funny and engaging, and receives over 1,000 “likes” with 200 comments. As stated, providing the CEO with the vanity metric of “likes” is meaningless without context. Instead, the marketer analyzes the comment section via text analytics software that interprets context and emotion attached to certain words to identify the sentiments about the video and the brand overall, such as joy.

These types of insights are far more actionable than vanity metrics. They can help you – the marketer – understand what type of content is resonating with buyers. And they can help your CEO make customer-centric decisions.

Conclusion

Don’t waste your CEO’s precious time with metrics that are meaningless. Provide metrics that truly demonstrate how the business’ investment in content marketing is driving growth. If you can’t demonstrate how your content marketing is driving growth, then perhaps it’s time to rethink your strategy. If you don’t have the tools to generate these metrics, then make the case to get budget for them. Otherwise you and your CEO are flying blind.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

How to Productively Create & Optimize Your Professional Network

Glenn E. Fleming, MD, MPH, Contributor, MarketHive

According to Wikipedia, a professional network service (also known as a  professional network) is a type of social network service that is focused solely on interactions and relationships of a business nature rather than including personal, non-business interactions.

The following are suggestions for creating a more productive, professional network:

1. Utilize a fresh pair of eyes:

When working on a project, consider finding someone from a department/discipline, etc. to take a look.   Having the objective opinion from someone outside your area of expertise may be just what’s needed in order to uncover issues that may have otherwise gone overlooked. 

If the project involves a product to be employed by a certain demographic, then it would probably be a great idea to make sure that you’ve acquired the objective opinions of individuals from that group, especially if you (the project manager) don’t adequately represent that demographic).

2.  Be open to working on projects (& working with people) outside your realm of expertise (or department):

Volunteering to assist others from other departments, sectors, etc will yield an opportunity to better understand the perspectives of others who are not within your area of expertise or department.  This will not only provide a forum for additional professional engagement outside your usual professional network, but also allow for a non-biased opinion on a particular issue within the project.

3.  Consider planning an informal gathering outside the workplace:

For example, you could invite a colleague for coffee or brunch, explaining your interest in projects they may have done in the past or are currently working on.  Since this is an informal meeting/gathering, this would also be a great time to determine any common interests outside the workplace. 

The key here is finding the balance between professional and personal matters during the interaction.  It would also probably be best to limit any informal gatherings to daytime hours.

Establishing rapport with specific objectives in mind such as learning more about the company and discussing commonalities outside the workplace will likely make it even easier to eventually work on a project with that person or to simply learn more about opportunities for growth within the company.

4.  Join a professional organization that’s reflective of your industry

This strategy is beneficial in several ways including extending your professional sphere of influence and establishing rapport with other likeminded individuals (professionally and/or personally).  Essentially, it is one of the easiest ways to network while looking for opportunities to advance your career.

In my industry of healthcare, I am a member of several professional societies including the National Medical Association, Medical Society of Georgia, and the American Board of Internal Medicine, to name a few.

5.  Try to make yourself available to assist others when asked:

Obviously, this is easier said than done and there can be a fine line between feeling needed and feeling abused.  With that said, this is still a great way to further establish rapport with colleagues in and outside your department or professional background.   It is a great way to show that you are reliable but be sure to not overextend yourself.  Do what feels comfortable and reasonable.

Your comments are always welcomed!  Did I miss anything?  Please feel free to share.

Starting Off on the Right Foot

You have your business idea, maybe even a rough framework in mind as to how you want to bring that idea to life. The time is now. Sit down and really understand what you want to achieve and how exactly you plan on reaching your goals. Without this initial phase of self-reflection and objective setting, you’re almost stepping out in a foreign city without a map — you may speak the language, meaning you may already know the sector you are launching in, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will get to your end destination, on time or in the form you desire. starting on the right foot with a new business 

Starting on the right foot for a new biusiness startup

Not sure where to start? We’ve taken a look at how to evaluate a few macro areas that may influence the success of your business, and how you launch it. It is by no means exhaustive, but can give you a good foundation to get going.

How well do I know my sector?

You’ve got a business idea for a reason, you may have seen an opportunity to a gap in the market, but you need to confirm this by digging into some numbers about the sector. Let’s say I wanted to source local jewellery and clothing from my contacts in Turkey and sell them to boutique in London, where would I start? I’m not planning on directly selling these to an end user, so I need to understand the demand, the distribution change and business model, consumer trends and preferences, amongst other dynamics. Before anything, I need to identify a demand and opportunity in London for these kinds of goods, and if I find that the market is already saturated, then it won’t be a business idea worth investing in. If I am able to purchase directly from the wholesaler in Turkey, then I can sell this directly to the boutique in London, a point which will influence my sales price and the final consumer price. I have no physical store costs, but on the other hand, I also have logistics and exportation costs, so I need to fully understand how I can execute this and learning more about how it is already being done in the sector will point me in the right direction.

Can I beat my competition, now or in the future?

The traditional SWOT plan to analyse your strengths, weaknesses and existing opportunities and threats, was developed for a reason. It is important to understand your position relative to others in the market, whether direct or indirect players. In the above jewellery example, I need to understand where these boutiques are currently sourcing their products from and what the relationship is like, would they be willing to buy 10% of goods from me and less from my competition? Can I offer something different to what my competition is offering? Maybe only one of my competitors is working with local designers, I can benchmark and consider building a wider, select range of products. I may even choose to expand this to artwork if there is a demand. This will then help you determine what your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is.

Key questions to ask yourself are:

  • Are there large players with a significant market share or is there sufficient room for to take part of the pie? What can I learn from my competitors in terms of successes and failures?
  • What are the price points I need to be within, can I compete with this?
  • What are the key sales channels?
  • Are there any opportunities coming from outside the sector which have not yet been seized?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses relative to my competitors?

Do you understand your audience and their needs?

Your target audience should be based on all the questions and answers coming to light through the above, which should point you to the target group where the most opportunity lies. This definition should then be the driving force behind your marketing and communications outreach. Map out who your target audience is, what their characteristics are and the kind of activities they engage in. How does your product or service fit into their lifestyle and what will compel them to purchase it? Look at their preferences, what their geographical distribution is and their media consumption habits, while your marketing channel options are clear, you should understand what your touch-points will be.

My primarily sales channel(s) will be…?

If you own a physical space, you need to consider your shop layout, visual merchandising and how you will bring traffic in, while a business like a consultancy is more focused on the services you provide, so you need a mechanism to explain what you offer and your USP. Deciding how and where to set-up shop means developing a business presence that supports your sales channels, whether directly or indirectly and creating a website is part of telling people who you are and what you do.

Based on the above, you should have enough information to set clear objectives and guide you in achieving them, but don’t forget to keep checking back in to see how the market landscape and dynamics are changing and how it is impacting your business.

Now is your chance to start on the right foot!

GoDaddy and The Startup Magazine have teamed up to offer one lucky winner the chance to launch their idea or project and go online. All you have to do is answer 5 simple questions on our competition page.

Originally published at thestartupmag.com on May 9, 2016.

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Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive

markethive.com


Guest Blogging For Small Businesses

 

Solving the Content Problem For Small Business Owners
by Art Williams 

 

Small business owners never have enough time to do all the things they need to do. And now,  since good content on a blog or social media site has become recognized as a necessity for any business wanting to pull business in from the internet, these business owners have even more tasks to regret that they don’t have time to do.

Luckily, the internet has also created the answers to many of the problems faced by small business owners when it comes to content creation. The simple fact is that there are lots of people who, for certain reasons, would love to write something for that business owner’s blog.

Business owners understand the idea of ‘delegation’. That’s all this is. The business owner just needs to recognize how this situation can be turned into a win-win situation for him and certain people who have the time and writing talent that he may not.

First of all, there’s a lot of reasonably talented writers who will write for little or nothing… as long as they can get their name of the content they write. These are people who are trying to capitalize on the huge ‘content-writing’ opportunities that the growth of the internet has created. They need this kind of work not simply for the money but so that they can build up their portfolio and solicit other customers as their skill grows.

Next, there is something called ‘guest blogging’. Guest bloggers are (usually) recognized experts who have the knowledge to do something well and/or to write about it in such a way that it’s interesting reading. These outside experts are building their reputation too so they also appreciate the exposure for their expertise and knowledge of their subject.

If the business owner already has a blog, he/she can let these guest-bloggers write articles on his blog. The business owner’s customers and blog readers get good content and the guest-blogger gets exposure for his expertise… with his contact info for those who desire to do so.

Another angle for the business owner who needs content is that, if the content he needs isn’t too sophisticated, there are a lot of people who can be given instructions (from the business owner) on what topic to write about  and they can often do a very good job.

In some cases these content-freebies can be had for free as long as the writer can get their name somewhere on the content as the author. In other cases the writer may want to be compensated.

But… again depending on how much stature they already have, the writer might agree to work for a very low price or possibly even accept ‘merchandise’ or services from the business for their work (e.g. a nice restaurant could trade a big ‘meal credit’ for a writer’s work).

But don’t forget that even if you have to pay for good content, it’s usually worth it. Guest blogging experts’ writing rates are usually very reasonable. Remember… they’re using guest blogging to build and/or promote their career too so they’re benefitting by the business owner giving them the ‘forum’ to display their expertise.

Established writers who write strictly for pay get easily $1 @ word. So, guest blogging usually is much cheaper than simply hiring a big-name writer to write content for your blog. The only advantage to outright hiring a writer is that those kinds of writers are a bit easier to find…i.e. easier compared to looking for an expert who’s willing to write strictly for professional exposure.

Guest blogging has been around for a number of years. Long before it became a popular marketing method, it began as a way for knowledgeable experts and bloggers to share their insights with readers of other websites.

And for those business owners looking to economize, there have always been talented apprentices who were happy for a chance to learn and practice their trade. You could probably even find good writers at local educational institutions… again, depending on how sophisticated your needs are.

Businesses owners have another option for using good content too. Their content doesn’t always have to appear on their own blog. Of course, it probably should and would. But if it’s good enough, it can sometimes be placed on another blog (a related but not directly competitive business). It’s simply a matter of finding the right match.

Lots of blogs are always looking for good content. For example, if a restaurant wants to get the word out about their business, they might consider writing an article about the various kitchenware they use and how it contributes to the quality of their food. If that kitchenware is sold at a local specialty shop, it would make a great article for that specialty shop.

Most business will want the better content quality that they get from experienced writers or guest bloggers but there are different goals that businesses set for their guest blogging campaigns. Your individual goals will help determine the type of content you procure and how much you pay for it.

But the point is, there’s plenty of writing talent out there. You’ve just got to look for it.

 

Art Williams
Case Study Writer and Markethive Developer

Truth Centered Leadership

 

Truth-Centered Leadership

Leaders who last do come from their particular culture but what they do, i.e. their legacy, often outlasts their culture because they are bigger than it. They base their actions on timeless and universal principles. In some cases they had a 'proper education' but often they had more than that. They had true wisdom.

They became effective, and sometimes famous because they married their culture with their wisdom. The truth that they manifested in everything they did was often based on a few essential principles properly applied to a variety of situations. Here are three of those principles:

  1. They accepted the responsibility to serve as a guide to others. They didn't insist on doing so…they only offered to do so. And, since we live in a world of people who, in their heart of hearts, realize they don't have any direction, those you 'stand for something rather than fall for everything, often attract a lot of attention (sometimes good and sometimes not so good).
     
  2. They accepted the responsibility to guard their own hearts, souls, and bodies. Self-discipline is never easy but great leaders have it and use it. Often they attracted the attention of others who, at least temporarily, need to rest upon their strength. Later, when those followers develop that self-discipline for themselves, they 'graduate' from the leader's organization to lead groups, brands, companies, movements of their own.
     
  3. They often become standards by which others compare themselves to. Sometimes the standards they set are ridiculed but often they become an inspiration to families, companies, political parties, religious movement, and (last but not least) industries.

These principles may come from a variety of sources, not the least of which is religion. But sometimes they are also divorced from spiritual terminology and taught simply as 'character'. Wherever they come from and however they are taught, they build our character, direct our decisions, and influence our lifestyles, 

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