10 Ways To Use Photographs To Promote Your Business

Photographs provide a business with limitless ways to promote themselves, both to customers and the community. Let your imagination go wild when it comes to creative ways to use photographs to make your business a success. The following list contains both more common uses, that are very successful, and ways to use photographs that are more unique. Choose ways that will work best for your business, and have fun in the process.

When selecting images, you have several choices. You can show your products, and your products in use, solving some problem. If you offer a service, instead of a product, you can show your service at work. You can also show your facility, both inside and out, if it is attractive or shows something interesting or unique.

If none of these will work for you, you can always show images that reflect your company’s message. Do you solve problems? Then show images of happy people enjoying themselves. Do you present an air of calm and relaxation? You can show photographs of people on vacation, or great landscape images. There are many options for you to engage your clients in a way that will make them want to keep your marketing products, and remember your company.

Which one of the following suggestions will best meet your, and your client’s, needs?

  1. Calendars – Calendars are a great way to promote your business, because people look at them every day for a year. Using pictures of your products will imprint them, and your company name, on a client in no time.
  2. Business cards – Putting pictures of your products on a business card will allow clients to quickly know what you offer. Since the image is small, be sure it’s not cluttered, and your product is easy to recognize.
  3. Postcards – You can easily have postcards printed with different images for different needs. Break down your mailing list into various categories. Maybe create a group for new clients who may need to see your entire product line. Another group could be for clients who buy from you frequently. Send them a card with the product they purchase most frequently, to remind them to buy more. Or send them a postcard with a new product that would be of interest to them.
  4. Bookmarks – If your products or services relate to books, writing or publishing, this is a natural choice. They’re inexpensive, easy to carry and you can pass them out anywhere. Bookmarks can be created for some upcoming event that you want people to remember. They can also have discount coupons or codes put on them to entice clients to purchase what you have to offer.
  5. Bags and Packs – You can print photographs of your products in full color, or monochrome, on most cloth surfaces. About 20 years ago I received several imprinted cloth bags from Strathmore Paper. I’ve been taking these bags to the grocery store every week for all those years. That’s a lot of free advertising.
  6. Lobby decor – Displaying large photographs of your products in the lobby for visitors to see is a great way to let people quickly know what you do. Or you can use images that will help set the mood of your company. Calming ocean and forest scenes to convey peace and quiet. Erupting volcanoes, tornados and other forces of nature to show energy and power. You can find photographs to illustrate whatever message you want to convey.
  7. Website – On a website you can have images of your employees, facility, products, products in use and anything else about your company. The great thing about a website is that you can update it whenever you need to. Show new employees, new facilities you’ve purchased, new products being offered, company events and everything else you do and offer to clients. Keep changing images to keep your website looking fresh.
  8. Newsletter – Photographs are essential for both print and online versions. Images will engage the viewer, and can easily convey what you want quickly. People are always in a rush and don’t want to read everything that’s sent to them. An interesting photograph will grab their attention, and increase the likelihood that they will read your newsletter.
  9. Magalog – These part catalog and part magazine publications are perfect to present in-depth information, illustrated with lots of photographs. People set aside more time to read a magalog, so feel free to use all the photographs you want to perfectly illustrate the written content.
  10. Custom postage stamps – Stamps are a unique and attention grabbing way to present something. You can put pictures of your products, portraits of a salesperson or anything you want onto a stamp. Give each salesperson stamps with their photograph on them. They can use them with all of their client mailings. In the letter say, “Check out our custom stamp on your envelope.”

The New Business of Online Marketing

Put your website to work.

Your website and how you work it can help you reach out to prospective customers economically. Be prepared to state what your business does, what services you provide and what products you have for sale. Specifically show how your current customers use your products and services. Explain why people need your products and services. Now show how your products and services differ from the competition. In marketing lingo, this is your value proposition.

Your website must attract potential customers, keep them interested in your products and services, and make it easy for customers to use and share with others. Does your web page have something for the visitor to read or download for free? Does your web page have a form customers can fill out to get more information? Put up all the social web icons so your customers can share your site with others. Submit your website to the search engines using Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the varied techniques and practices used to get more traffic from search engines

When you put a word or a phrase into search engine, the search engine goes out looking for those words in the description of websites. Put “underwater basket weaving” into a search engine and look at the full first page of the results. If you sell supplies for underwater basket weavers, you want to be in this first page results. If you have written a book, give tours, sell t-shirts or teach underwater basket weaving, you want to have your website come up in this first page of results.

Get busy with article marketing.

You know a lot about 1957 Chevies or parachutes or grooming poodles. Write about what you know. Open up your word processor and just type down anything and everything you know on your subject until you get to 600 words. Now go back and make the spelling, grammar and punctuation corrections. Open up your favorite search engine and type in “article marketing” and make a list of five directories. Open up an account on each one and submit your article. Keep track of how long it takes each one to approve your article. Once it is approved, write another. In fact, write up 5 more and submit as many of them as you can.

Ramp up your e-mail marketing.

Sending out an email to prospective customers is maybe the easiest and one of the best ways to grow your business. Just learn the right way to do it. That customer form on your website is where you get the email addresses. Make your subject line attention getting with “FREE” or “REVEALED” or “SECRET” along with 4 more words. The message inside tells the customer 3 reasons why they should get your products or services. Those articles from the marketing steps above turn into a free eBook once you have 45 pages of reading material.

Social Media Marketing

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Reddit and the list goes on. You need to get an account set up on each social media site and put the linking icon on each page of your website. When someone reads something interesting on your website make it easy for them to share it with others. You want to have the communication device that others seek. If you have a 3 minute video of upholstering a footstool, put it up on your website with all the social media links. If you have a 6,000 word eBook on nuclear plant effluence effects on migrating salmon, put it up on your website with all the social media links. Do you have still shots of how to install a zip line in a rain forest? Put up a slide presentation on your website with all the social media links.

 

5 Reasons Why Branding Too Soon Can Slow the Growth of Your Service Business

Independent professionals and service business owners often begin with a focus on choosing a saying or logo that will become a brand. In fact, when these activities are undertaken too early, your business growth actually can be slowed down. Here’s why.

1. Failure to match branding strategy to business size.

Fortune 100 companies need brands and they have huge budgets to maintain their brand. But service businesses, especially those starting out, might have fewer than 100 customers or clients! They’re more of a “Client 100” than “Fortune 100.”

These businesses can be extremely successful and can give their owners a comfortable, happy lifestyle. But they need to allocate budget and priorities differently.

When a big consumer products company launches a new product, the first step might be hiring an agency to create a brand. When a small service business launches a product or campaign, the first priority will be making sure they help clients solve their toughest, most painful problems.

2. Failure to focus on clients rather than the company.

When you look at the top brands among Internet marketers, you see that they focus on solving a problem or describing what they do. They have words like “shopping cart,” “hungry clients,” “ezine,” “info products,” or “copywriting” in their brands.

That’s why you need to take your time. As you serve customers and write content for your site, often your brand emerges organically.

3. Failure to build a platform with your own name.

In the early stages of your business, get known for your name. When you think of the Internet marketers you admire most, you probably know their names and you may even know what they look like. You may also know their company names and logos, but I bet you often think = of their names when you look them up.

Anyway, sometimes your name will be enough for a brand. Donald Trump has done pretty well this way. On the Internet, so has Armand Morin.

When Internet visitors type your name into a search engine, what will they find? Send them to sites that communicate your identity.

4. Failure to use simple, clear language when promoting yourself.

Brands that include reference to obscure images (such as forests and mountains connected to coaching) will lose readers on the Internet. People move too fast and they may never stick around to “get it.”

When you include abstract words, you require readers to stop and think. Once people interrupt their momentum, they are often gone.

5. Failure to emphasize copywriting as the first step in developing a marketing campaign.

Many businesses say, “We are just starting out. We need to invest in branding and design before we develop our copywriting.” In fact, this approach often slows down the growth of the service business.

The first goal of a new business, or a business that wants more growth, is to attract clients. Clients hire you for two reasons. First, they believe you understand their problems or pains. Second, they think you are the single best person to solve their problems. To communicate these two points requires copywriting to create persuasive content.

Copywriter Cathy Goodwin creates online marketing strategies for independent professionals, small business owners, authors and speakers who want more profits, more prospects and ultimately more clients online. Now you can get for FREE the Report, 7 Mistakes Most People Make When They Hire A Copywriting. Avoiding just one of these mistakes has saved some clients hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars.

Innovation – Small Business Imperative

When I think of innovation, I think of creative people, people that have changed the world with new ways of doing things. In the business world, you’d be hard pressed to find better examples of the success that constant innovation breeds than Microsoft and Apple. And I believe that it is no coincidence that these two massive companies have come to be known as innovation leaders. This is not a matter of their success coming despite the ultra competitive market in which they operate, but because of it. The more competitive the market you operate in, the more you will be forced to innovate in order to survive. It is easy to think that innovation is a trait that belongs exclusively to the huge multinationals like Microsoft and Apple, but you have to remember that both these companies were essentially started in their founders’ garages – they weren’t always big, but they were always innovative. And the competition between them and other early players in the market drove their innovative tendencies even further.

Businesses today face competition on more fronts than ever before. Your competition doesn’t even have to have a point of sale in the same country as you anymore. The internet has enabled almost anyone to chip away at your market share from almost anywhere with just a few thousand dollars worth of software and some clever website design. Innovation has become an imperative for doing business today. But don’t take my word for that. What do Bill Gates and Steve Jobs think of innovation and its importance to a business?

“We are always saying to ourselves, “We have to innovate. We’ve got to come up with that breakthrough.” In fact, the way software works, so long as you are using your existing software, you don’t pay us anything at all. So we’re only paid for breakthroughs.” – Bill Gates

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. – Steve Jobs

I can hear you saying, “Great for you Bill & Steve, but I don’t have all the money in the world for R&D to come up with the next big thing in my industry”. But innovation requires only one thing – a focus on starting down the path towards innovation, even in the most seemingly mundane areas of your business. According to dictionary.com, innovation simply means the introduction of new things or methods. That means you don’t have to be at the forefront of cutting edge technology, you simply have to come up with something different or a different way of doing things.

I’ve put together a few ideas to get you thinking about how to get started with making innovations in your business that can lead to tangible, sustainable competitive advantage. They are simple, yet profound. It’s not always the “greatest thing since sliced bread” kind of ideas that make the biggest difference in business. Sometimes, it’s simpler ideas that can more quickly and easily be implemented that can have the greatest impact. Before you continue reading, prepare your mind to be open to the possibilities that exist for your business right now – think about things that might be staring you right in the face. You don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel, just figure out how to make more people not want to buy wheels from anyone else but you and you’re off to a good start.

Idea #1 – Spread your “unique-ness”.

What is the biggest difference your customers notice about doing business with you as opposed to doing business with your competition? What do your customers LOVE about doing business with you? What are you always being complemented for? Do you have a better product? Do you have a better way of delivering your product? Are you more “user friendly”? Are some types of customers better suited to using your product than your competitor’s? Have you found a niche? Take the answers to these questions and start exploiting your “unique-ness”. Think about what makes you and your business one of a kind, especially if those points of difference would be difficult to duplicate, even if your competition wanted desperately to copy those very aspects. Now, think of how you can apply these aspects of your business or product more widely to all the other aspects of your business, your industry, your people, and your supply chain. You should seek to apply these points of difference across as many areas of your business as possible so that every element of doing business with your company gives you that same competitive advantage over and over again. This is the most basic form of innovation. By taking what is unique about your business and applying it to more and more of your business until practically everything you do is as unique and special as what you have come to be known for, you tap into the most powerful innovation of all – brand innovation. Creating an innovative brand can speak volumes about your business without having to say a word – and it can make your customers into stark raving FANS that don’t want to do business with anyone else, regardless.

Idea #2 – There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Think about the “inputs” that are relevant to your business. How do you get your product ready to sell? If you’re a manufacturer, what are the component parts of what you build? If you are a service firm, what are the steps involved in delivering your service to the end user? Now think about what your product or service ultimately delivers to your customers. For instance, many people would assume that McDonald’s is in the food business. But let’s face it; even if you are particularly fond of McDonald’s food, it is neither the most nutritious or most satisfying option out there. But McDonalds remains one of the most successful businesses in the world because they consistently deliver not just food, but convenience. It is by being convenient, even more so than other “fast food” outlets, that McDonald’s has maintained its amazing momentum over decades. Once you’ve analysed your business inputs, the “how” of getting your product or service into the hands of your customers, consider them all in light of what you are ultimately delivering that is of value to the people that buy from you. In other words, focus on the outcome for your clients. What are they really buying from you? Can you change or improve your inputs to get your customers what they really want in a way that saves them money, saves them time, or makes their experience even better in some way? If so, do it! We tend to stick with doing things the way we’ve always done them (the same old inputs) instead of exploring ways to make things better through thinking differently about how we deliver the outcomes. Your customers are really only interested in the outcomes your product or service delivers to them. The inputs or the methods you use to deliver those outcomes are usually secondary or even inconsequential to them. Therefore, it makes sense to focus more on how you achieve results and deliver value to your clients than on what specific “formula” you use to get them what they want.

Idea #3 – Get out of the box.

You’ve heard “think outside the box” a million times. But innovators know that in order to generate new thinking, you have to get away from the daily business routine. If you’re having trouble seeing the proverbial forest for the trees, the best solution can often be taking a long hike up the nearest mountain. When I meet with my clients, I try as often as possible to meet with them outside of their offices. This does two things. One, it gets us away from the constant threat of endless interruptions. And two, it always helps to give us a bit of much needed perspective. I don’t know how many business owners I’ve dealt with that are genuinely afraid that their company will collapse in a heap if they so much as go out for a cup of coffee. But time after time, when these same people get outside the four walls of their business, new ideas and clear thoughts about ways to attack problems and take advantage of opportunities begin to flow freely. Innovative thinking rarely occurs when you’re locked in the day to day operation of your business. And there is a great deal of scientific evidence out there today that tells us that being in completely new or novel situations actually causes our brains to rewire themselves in order to attack old problems from new angles. Simply put, it’s always going to be difficult to “think outside the box” when your head is stuck inside it. My standard advice to business owners with regard to strategic planning and long-term vision for their company is to “take five”. As in five days. At least five days each year should be set aside for you to completely avoid the office so you can think only about your strategic direction and longer term plans for growing your business. Anything less than that and you’re really going to struggle to do anything much more than what you’ve “always done”.

Idea #4 – Get out the binoculars.

This is about shifting your focus. Many businesses are forever focussed on the here and now. That’s good to a point, but if you’re only ever thinking about today, you’re not necessarily going to make your decisions on the basis of what is best for the long term sustainability of your business. Large, publicly listed companies often fall into this trap when they make decisions based on what effect they will have on tomorrow’s share price instead of what will deliver the most value for their shareholders over the next 10-20 years. Building a truly sustainable business, one that is environmentally, socially and financially able to withstand the test of time requires long-term thinking. And the long-term viewpoint can lead to innovations that a short-term viewpoint overlooks. Changing your thinking about your business from a “what will we be doing next week or next month” viewpoint to a “what will we be doing in 20 years” viewpoint will focus your attention in many different areas that will frequently lead to improved business sustainability across the board. Think of how differently you would choose stocks to invest in if you were given an investment window of 20 days as opposed to 20 years. One of the key elements to business sustainability is investment. Innovative thinking about how you make key investments in your business can be the difference between success and failure in the long term, but that same innovative thinking can also be the source of significant competitive advantage in the short term. If you’ve been in business for over ten years, it might be useful to ask yourself what you would have done differently starting out in business if you knew then what you knew now. Now take those kinds of scenarios of what you would have changed and project them 20 years into the future. What should you be doing now in order to be ready for “your business v.2030”?

I hope those ideas have given you the appetite for innovation and a few thoughts about where to start. If you’d like to get more ideas about how to better manage your business, prepare it for the future or grow it up to the next level, sign up for my monthly eNews. And if you would like to receive my Top 10 Ways to Start Thinking Innovatively, just write to meĀ  and put Innovative Thinking in the subject line. By the way – it’s all FREE!!!

 

I’ve been a successful advisor to middle market and SME businesses for the past 14 years. Working for some of the world’s leading banks in the United States and Australia, I’ve had the privilege of sharing my expertise with literally hundreds of businesses, becoming a trusted advisor to many of them and helping them all to make their businesses more bankable.

A bankable business is one that can go to any bank assured of being able to secure finance on their preferred terms instead of having to “take it or leave it” by the bank’s conditions. A bankable business is one that isn’t just a “job” for its owners, but a growing, thriving enterprise that is built to last. A bankable business is run by people that are confident and capable of making the tough business decisions necessary to make sure that the business is sustainable over the long term. But too many business owners become overwhelmed and frustrated to the point that they aren’t able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together in order to make their business truly bankable.

That’s why I decided to start my own consulting company dedicated to helping business owners build their businesses and their personal skill levels to enable them to fulfill their aspirations and enjoy a level of satisfaction that, quite frankly, many small business owners fail to achieve on their own.

If you’d like to learn more about the essential skills you need to be successful, contact me today for a no obligation conversation about how I can help you achieve your business goals.

The Best Way To Increase Productivity For Your Unique Home Business Ideas In 3 Easy Steps

Almost everyone has hopes, dreams, and aspirations about things they would like to accomplish with their unique home business ideas. We often want to accomplish our goals much faster and run into productivity issues when things do not go exactly as planned. Perhaps that happens to you too. When you know how to fight through those stumbling blocks you will find increasing production in developing, planning, and executing your unique home business ideas. If this is happening to you, read on to find three simple tips to increase your productivity with all of your unique home business ideas.

The very first important strategy is not treat your idea or business as a hobby. You’re going to need to do that because taking your home business seriously means to consistently work on it through time, effort, and perseverance. While you carry out this initial step, you will need to avoid small failures or stumbling blocks getting in your way of your fortitude to push further and strive to achieve. Things going wrong along the way will happen all the time. Your belief and hard work in your concept will always carry you through the tough times.

The second strategy is to seek other successful business owner’s opinions and advice when you reach these stumbling blocks that stop you from moving forward with your unique home business ideas. Have you ever heard of the phrase about not seeing the forest through the trees? This applies here as well. Seeking other people’s advice that have walked in your shoes in the industry, will help you avoid the pitfalls of discontent, lack of effort, and time wasted. In fact most of the time they inspire you to be more productive.

The third and final tip is to have clear and defined goals that your going to achieve every day, week, month, and year. This is really important because when you don’t know where the mountaintop is will often lead many unique home business ideas to ever come to fruition. Setting clear and concise goals will keep you focused, working hard, and more productive in achieving those goals.

Just adopt these measures closely, as they are laid out above. If you do that you ought to be very successful with your unique home business ideas very easily with few if any problems. This very same plan has worked for countless others before you. Most likely this will work for you as well and give you the best results you can achieve. The only other thing to do then is to cash the checks from the money your going to make..

Marketing Mistakes and How to Fix Them

If you’re like many business owners, you’re either doing the wrong marketing activities well, or doing the right marketing activities wrong. Now, how could that ever happen? It’s quite simple really, let me explain:

Firstly, in my business experience, I’ve noticed that most entrepreneurs and business owners have one thing in common. They spend most of their time working “in” their business, and very little time working “on” it. That is, they spend too much of their precious time performing operational tasks and far too little (if any) time planning how they want their business to perform.

As a result, they cannot see the forest for the trees. They just keep on doing what may have worked well once. Quite often, because they deal with so many day-to-day hassles, they just keep doing what does not create another hassle. They rarely stop to question whether what they’re doing its working well now, let alone whether they could do any better.

Secondly, the brutal reality is that most business owners have never had any marketing training!!

If you want to do your marketing “right”, you have to start with a plan. That way you’ll avoid the 1st mistake – no marketing plan. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about some 200-page monster. That’s usually too much and a waste of time. I’m talking about something that you can do in one day. Go get a pen and paper, or boot up your PC and we will start.

Step 1:

Just Who is Your Market and Competition? People buy goods or services for one of two reasons;
1) to solve a problem
-or-
2) to make them feel good. A common mistake that many small business owners make is to pioneer some product or service without first understanding the market and what it wants. People will not buy things they don’t want.

A profitable market has people who will buy your solution, at a price that will make you money. Simple, isn’t it? And that market has to be big enough to be worth your while. Your customer chooses you because you provide a better solution to getting the product or service they want. To understand your market, answer questions like these:

* What segments of my market are underserved?
* Are these segments big enough to make money?
* How much share of this market do I need to break even?
* How much competition do I have?
* Can I leverage my strengths against my competitors’ weaknesses?
* Does this market want or value my unique competitive offering?

Step 2:
Do You Understand Your Customer? You have to know who your “perfect customer” is, what they want, and what moves them to buy. Most business owners do have a gut feel for this, I’m asking you to put it down on paper; it will force you to better describe them. A common mistake made by many owners is that they try to be all things to all people. Don’t fall into this trap. Think about your perfect customer. Now, to quantify the above, ask yourself these questions:

* How does my perfect customer usually buy my kind of products? In a store, can they be ‘telemarketed’, or at a consumer trade show?
* Who is the primary buyer? The husband or the wife? Both? A business owner?
* Where do they get their information? Newspapers? The Web? Trade magazines?
* What is his primary motivation to buy? To make more money? Be Healthy? Save money?

Step 3:
Find Your Niche! It’s better to have 50 percent of a targeted niche that you understand well, than to have five percent of a much larger market that you’re not intimately wise about. Your goal is to dominate that niche, to make it yours. After that happens, you can look for your second niche. You have dealt with businesses that were very niche specific, and you could tell.

They were super experts on their product or service, their staff was focused, and their marketing message was very specific. But make sure your niche is easy to contact and communicate with. Focus your thinking to grow your sales.

Step 4:
You Need to Develop Your Marketing Message Your marketing message tells your prospect what you do. It also needs to move them to become your customer. The mistake most business owners make is that their message is all about them, not the prospect. “What’s in it for me?” the prospect will ask. Craft your message to focus on his benefits in buying from you.

* Tell the prospect what his problem is.
* Give him some proof that it should be solved now.
* Tell him the benefits your solution provides.
* Why he should only pick you.
* Testimonials and examples from people like him who you have already helped.
* Your unconditional guarantee.
* You also need to have a clear, concise “elevator speech” that gives the person you are meeting an instant idea of what you do. Don’t be selling, be educating. 10 seconds, maximum.

Step 5:
What Should Be Your Marketing Mediums? These are how you deliver your marketing message. You want to choose the mediums that deliver your message to the most niche prospects at the lowest cost. There are many, from the common ones like radio, newspapers, brochures and flyers, to less utilized ones such as media releases, articles you write for publication, post cards, public speaking, charity events, and infomercials.

Once you understand your niche market, determine the appropriate match.

Step 6:
Set Some Goals! Chances are, you don’t have a boss. You are it! So you need to develop specific goals, let your team in on them, make them part of the plan and its success, and hold yourselves accountable for reaching them.

Your goals should be financial and non financial. Keep everyone on your team abreast of the score. You would never play a game without keeping score would you? How would you determine your strategy if you did not know whether you were winning or losing? Think of it like your favorite sport or game, with all of you the players. You have to keep score.

Step 7:
You Need a Marketing Budget If you have been in business over 1 year, and know your prior marketing expenses, find your costs as a percentage of sales, or getting each new customer, or both. For example, if you sold 1000 customers an average of $1000 each, $1 million in total, and your marketing expenses were $50,000, then each new customer cost you $50. Now you can see that marketing properly done is always an investment, never an expense. You can work on lowering the client acquisition cost down to say, $40, with a better message in a more apt medium.

You have to look at it this way. You run out on the street with a bunch of $50 bills, and every time you give one away, your sales go up by $1000. Mind you, you have to engineer the systems in your business to handle all that new business you are ensuring will come in. But that’s a story for another day.

Conclusion:
That’s it, now you know how to do it. Set aside some time to develop your marketing plan. Get all those ideas out of your head, and onto paper. Chances are, something else in your business may demand your immediate attention, and you’ll not get through this marketing plan exercise.

Pretend you have a boss that you are answerable to, and just imagine that your deadline is next Tuesday. There are valid reasons why people have bosses in companies and why progressive business owners get coaches. It’s all about accountability. Now go to it, and good luck.

Five Steps to Overhauling Your Business

We were sitting in the back of an oversized SUV, zipping to LaGuardia Airport on a warm evening in late May 2008 when Larry pulled out his Blackberry and said, “Stefan, that is a very interesting idea. I’ll set up a telephone meeting between my senior staff and your team to discuss how we can make this happen.”

Dr. Lawrence Burns had just finished speaking to a group of colleagues at Columbia University’s Earth Institute about “What Sustainability Means to General Motors”, and now I was seeing him off to his flight back to Detroit.

I had met Larry a few months earlier, after reading about him in the New York Times article Mr. Environment for General Motors. And while he was in charge of strategic planning and R&D for the company, what really had us bond was our commonality around hearing loss. He had lost all his hearing and I was not far behind him (my hearing has since improved substantially.) But at the time we enjoyed being with someone who understood what it was like to live without sound.

What excited Larry on the car ride to the airport was a vision I had developed and just finished presenting to him in the car on how to overhaul General Motors by taking them green.

In fact he had never heard such a concept like that before.

A few weeks later Larry and his senior executives were on the phone with my partner an me telling us to put together a detailed proposal on how we would take his two divisions at GM green first, and if successful, the whole company.

But it turned out GM was too far gone. And by the time we submitted our detailed proposal a couple of months later, they were preparing to publicly announce they were hitting the wall.

And while our team felt a weird sense of comfort when we learned a part of our plan managed to get into GM’s proposal to Congress for bailout funds a few months later, we were saddened we were not going to help them overhaul the company.

Yes, General Motors is an extreme example, yet any business can fall victim to neglecting the writing on the wall if left unheeded.

How about yours?

Five Steps to Overhauling Your Company

1. Identify Breakdowns-quickly figure out where the key issues are in your business. Is your product/service still relevant? Do customers see its value? How is it priced? What is your competition like? Has the market changed in your industry?

2. Determine Solutions- here is where many people get stuck. Often times, you are deep in the woods to see the forest and have an objective way of looking at this. Find out how to make sure you can get back ahead of the curve in your industry. How can you narrow down your product or service and/or marketing to a more specialized audience? Specialists create a uniqueness that is gold in marketing and brand positioning.

3. Test Assumptions-once you figure out how you are going to adjust your company, rigorously challenge your thoughts and opinions. Use surveys and speak to your customers, suppliers, even your neighbors. From the various opinions adjust your plan accordingly.

4. Implement Quickly-do not hesitate. Hesitation breeds indecision. Indecision breeds failure. Once you have your information, or “enough” to make your choice, go forward ASAP immediately.

5. Accelerate Through the Mistakes-along the way to overhauling your business, you will make mistakes. That is fine and it is part of the process of overhauling. The key is not to not make mistakes, rather to accelerate through them. Make them, realize them, and adjust as soon as possible until you figure it out.
Doing a major overhaul of your company is not an easy thing for many businesses. If it were, GM and Larry Burns would have done it a long time ago.

It requires shifting your thinking and being ready, willing and able to let go of things you felt were perfect that may no longer be.

And being ready to act immediately.

Action Steps for the Week:

How is your product or service? Is it still “current”? Is it unique and competitive? Or are a gazillion others trying to compete with you using similar products or services?

If the latter, you need to zoom in and narrow your market share. Be a big fish in a small pond.

You do this by specializing! One way to do this is by narrowing your primary customer base. For example, focus on single women over 40, or first time home owners only, or green business coaching, etc.

Research the market place. Know who is doing this already and how you are better or different or both.
Next, revamp your marketing strategies and plan. Recreate your marketing funnel to draw customers in on a regular basis.

Lastly, act ASAP. Waiting is the kiss of death.

Quickly test, apply and adjust our plan as you go.

Hi, my name is Stefan Doering. Since 1987, I’ve been pioneering new approaches to environmental business and sustainability. After having started one of the first green retail businesses in the country and growing it to one of the largest, I now have coached hundreds of green businesses as well as teach green entrepreneurialism for various NYC programs and at Columbia University’s Center for Environmental Research and Education. I focus on three major areas:

1) Innovating powerful green business models,

2) Crafting and implementing marketing and positioning strategies for bringing green to mainstream, and

3) Creating a consistently profitable and sustainable business.

Online Marketing – Today’s Response To Business Challenges

If you build it, will they come?

That depends on how well you market it. Like the proverbial tree that falls in the forest without making a sound, the first lesson of Online Marketing Services says that even the fanciest Web site in the world won’t generate one inquiry or attract one new customer if nobody visits it. If you have a well-designed Web site but aren’t getting many hits, perhaps it’s time to revisit your strategy for directing people to your site.

To achieve the best Online Marketing Services from media campaigns, it is essential that your website is making the most of its visitors. As well as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC) and Affiliate Marketing Fruitful Media undertake in-depth usability studies to ensure maximum conversion rates are achieved when sending online visitors to a website.

Online Marketing Services also refereed to as eMarketing, internet marketing, is the marketing the product or the services over the internet. Internet marketing ties together creative and technical aspects of the internet, including design, development, advertising and sales. Internet marketing methods include search engine marketing, display advertising, and e mail marketing.

Online Marketing is the process of growing and promoting an organization using online media. Internet marketing does not simply mean ‘building a website’ or ‘promoting a website’. Somewhere behind that website is a real organization with real goals. Internet marketing is associated with several business models. he model is typically defined by the goal. These include e-commerce, where goods are sold directly to consumers or businesses; publishing, or the sale of advertising; and lead-based sites, where an organization generates value by getting sales leads from their site. There are many other models based on the specific needs of each person or business that launches an internet marketing campaign.

Online Marketing Services marketing is relatively inexpensive. Companies can reach a wide audience for a small fraction of traditional advertising budgets. The nature of the medium allows consumers to research and purchase products and services at their own convenience: An internet marketing campaign puts an organization’s message in front of consumers precisely when they want it.

Online Marketing Services has had a large impact on several industries including music, banking, and flea markets, as well as the advertising industry itself. As Advertisers increase and shift more of their budgets online, it is now overtaking radio in terms of market share. The increasing speed of Internet connections is the main reason for the fast growth.

Harvest Green – Business Success in Harmony With Our Environment

Our ecosystem is an interrelated organization of life, where each individual aspect contributes to the grandeur of the whole. It is an elegant system of life and a source of inspiration. As Businesses and Professionals, you are in the perfect position to be creative leaders and Harvest Green. You can embrace the very same model as our ecosystem and by doing so; you can increase your prosperity, success and customer loyalty.

This is a perfect time to find and convey new ways to reconnect with our dear planet, to celebrate her beauty, diversity and power and to Harvest Green. Imagine the first light of dawn glistening over the oceans. Imagine a sweeping panorama from the heights of mountains. Imagine the sweet scent of flowers or the deep fragrance of forests. Our environment lifts our hearts, while it provides the particles of our bodies, the food on our tables and the means to nurture our lives.

As I share suggestions to help you expand your green horizons, think abundance … think health … think growth.

Green for Abundance
Green is the metaphysical color for abundance. Greening your business can attract and maintain a greater flow of energy and prosperity. If you are in retail, choose fantastic recycled gift boxes, shopping bags, wrapping papers and biodegradable peanuts for packaging. Your customers can have beautiful wrapping paper and signature bags, while knowing that you are contributing to the well-being of our planet. Your store, spa and business can be a great place to increase your eco-efficiency. Make sure that you take advantage of recycling in your area. Replace the bulbs in closets and storerooms with low voltage, low energy bulbs. Using less and thus receiving more in value creates abundance.

Small, in-house events are an excellent opportunity to increase your green presence and abundance. Have a “green give-away.” Give-away a low voltage fluorescent light bulb every time someone purchases a book about the environment or purchases a natural product. Abundance flows in all directions and these are all excellent incentives to bring a full circle of abundance and support.

Green for Healing
Green is a healing color. Every business has an opportunity to be a source for eco-friendly products and education. There are so many things you can do to create a healing environment for your business, staff and customers. Your Spa and Healing Center can switch to and promote organic and environmentally friendly products. A beautiful display featuring your organic and healing products will support those manufacturers and pamper your customers, while you receive the compliments and sales. Introduce a newsletter for your staff and your clients with eco-tips and thoughtful ways to reduce waste and increase energy efficiency. If you replace all of your cleaning supplies with safe, organic cleansers; use quality air and replace bottled water with filtered tap water, you will increase the environmental quality of your offices. Your clients and staff will appreciate your attention, services and products by giving you more support and sales. That is all part of the healing and greening process.

Green for Growth
The color green signifies growth. You can expand and grow your business by adding green products and services. You don’t have to wait until Earth Day to celebrate the environment. Your retail store can feature books about the environment. Have a rotating “Green Display” that showcases books, products and services that increase the environmental awareness of your clients and your staff. Your Spa and Healing Center can have “Green Weekends.” Pamper your clients with an exclusive weekend celebration of all organic, natural and healing products and treatments. Even traditional businesses can Harvest Green. If you see clients at your office, then make sure you serve them organic teas and coffee. Replace the high sugar, high fat snacks in your vending machines or snack room with organic snacks, sodas and juices.

If your clients and customers have a choice between products that are good and products that are good and eco-friendly, they will naturally purchase the green products. Buying a green product brings additional benefits. If your clients and customers know that you are paying attention to their needs and paying attention to the health of your world, you give them another great reason to do business with you.

Being a little more green helps your customers, helps your staff, helps the world and it helps your customers and your staff to help the world. Make today the day to Harvest Green.

How to Overcome the Pressures of Running Your Own Business

Whoever thinks that running your own business is a breeze, obviously has never had one. There are so many areas you need to get right otherwise your business could end up disintegrating along with everything else in your life.

You need to be organised and disciplined, a good marketer, action-taker, a great communicator, understand finances, have systems, plenty of resilience and so much more. If any of these areas are lacking in your business then you’re heading for trouble. Of course you can hire other people who have these skills and attributes so you can focus on what you’re good at. Unfortunately many business owners try to ‘do everything themselves’ and that’s why they don’t achieve the goals and dreams they initially had when they went into business.

When John contacted me, he was at the point that he we wanted to shut down his business because he felt it was ruining his life. Although he’d invested years of blood, sweat and tears in building up what appeared to be a ‘successful’ air conditioning business, he had reached the end of the road.

He was in so much pain, he thought the only option was to get out of business. He was doing installations and maintenance work during the daytime and after work, he was up until midnight doing the paperwork. With a young family at home, he had little time to devote to them. The kids were growing up quickly and he was missing out on their childhood.

At work he did have 2 guys working with him to share the workload and because he was ‘busy’ didn’t have the time to teach and train them properly. They made silly mistakes on the job and that would cost John more time and money fixing up the problems. Cashflow was a big issue because John didn’t have the time to do the invoicing and follow up.

John suffered in many ways both physically and mentally. He had a ‘bad’ back, was overweight and constantly feeling rundown.

No wonder why…he was trying to do everything himself. He had never invested any time or money learning how to improve his business and his life…

Here’s some of what we did…

1. Freed up John’s time so he had weekends off and enjoyed more family time during the week. Prior to working with me every spare minute was spent working in his business.

2. Delegated the invoicing …. in John’s situation he only required a bookkeeper part-time to focus on this area.

3. Set up checklists for his guys so they knew exactly what they had to do. This stopped them wasting time and also ensured when they filled in their job sheets, all time and parts used were accounted for. Using the checklists saved John 2 days a week plus thousands of dollars in materials. In the past the guys didn’t write down all the parts they were using on a job and many items were missing from their job sheets.

4. Organised structured weekly meetings. Communication was a big part of John’s coaching. He learned how to effectively communicate with the younger generation…what motivated them. He was then able to set up an incentive program to ensure they stayed motivated, happy in their workplace and strived to improve their performances. John learned valuable information from the expert interviews I had from The Productivity Coaching Club. He particularly benefitted from the interviews on “Managing, Motivating and Living With Generation Y” and “How to Manage and Retain Your People”.

5. Had John see the appropriate people to get his health on track.

6. John has regular allocated time to work ‘on’ his business. Currently we’re looking at how to leverage on the products/services he already has so he doesn’t work harder, just smarter…and makes more money!

Before coaching John couldn’t see the forest for the trees. He thought there was no other way but to close down his business. However there’s always more than one way to get a result. It’s just finding the right people who can help.

The truth is we live in a very confusing, complex world, where the business owner or entrepreneur is bombarded and overwhelmed. We have little or no time to pause for breathe and think. No-one can keep abreast of all they need to know anymore. The very real need for expert help multiplies by the minute.

For a business owner to insist on doing most of the “work” themselves, he or she is ensured of not only being grossly underpaid as a result, BUT OF UNWITTINGLY PLACING THE LID FIRMLY ON THEIR EARNING POTENTIAL TO BOOT! In most businesses there’s more money left lying on the table…