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Summer’s Here – Is Your Business Ready?

It’s so hard to believe that we are already at the last day of the May – as cliched as it sounds, time is really flying by and much too quickly for me. This means that June is upon us and the start of summer season. For us here in Florida, it’s also starting our rainy and hurricane season. This is typically the time when kids are out of school and people have scheduled vacations.

This can mean a slowing of business for some so the question becomes: Are you prepared for this slowdown? How will you ramp up your marketing efforts so you won’t feel the ‘pinch?’ We all deal with it but, if you’re prepared and have a strategy in mind, then the pain should be less if you take consistent action.

Here are some quick tips to ensure your business is ready for any potential downturns and to ensure you’re bringing in clients/customers:

  • Review your past practices to see how you survived in previous times; if you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, then don’t. Look for patterns that may have occurred and interventions you took that got you through
  • Determine your numbers: money you want to make each month, then break it down to how many clients you need to see at the current rate you are charging for your products or service.  You can take this down to your hourly rate; it will all depend on you price your services. For example, if you want to make $5000/month, and you charged $100/hr, then you need to have 50 people paying this number. If you broke that down to weekly, you would need to have roughly 13 clients. This will give you a number to shoot for as a target. You also may want to think about raising your prices; another might be to run the numbers if you did a ‘sale’ on your services to get twice the number in
  • Now you need to create an action plan for how you will market and attract these clients, again looking at past practices and what has worked best so you will keep consistent in these practices. You also need to look at past clients – can you go back and reup them as these people already know you, who may need you again or who can refer you to someone they know.
  • Determine how you will attract new clients to you and your business – social media, writing articles or a blog, speaking at events, holding your own events, doing a teleseminar or webinar, sponsoring an event and so forth; choose one or two of your top activities and streamline your focus and attention there for the next 90 days
  • Be sure to look at your personal/business finances to ensure you can weather the storm and see what you may have to cut back on (eating out, cable, etc.). Look at your spending habits and how you can bring more money in

As our economy is doing better, overall spending has increased which is the good news. But, realistically, these few upcoming months are historically a slow-down for some businesses who need to be prepared and ready to take alternate action. Doing so will ensure you enjoy the summer months both happier and more profitable.

The Art of Making Small Talk

In the world of business, it is imperative to network in order to promote your business as well as finding others you can joint venture with. The possibilities are endless in the amount of groups and associations you can find. However, not everyone is comfortable with making small talk which could prevent them from opportunities out there.

This is especially true for some personality types, such as introverts, who don’t like small talk or crowds. If one worries about how they will come across to others, this can be terror-filled: What if I don’t have anything to say? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I get rejected?

Becoming a master of networking involves making small talk with others; this is what puts them at ease and helps to make connections that could lead to friendships or doing business together. As a high extrovert, I don’t have any problems in putting myself out there and connecting with others so it’s hard to understand how someone doesn’t want to learn more about others, as I’ve met some really interesting people along the way. It reminds me of an early job I had in a marketing role where I had to visit doctor’s office  and hospitals; I was terrified at that time of making ‘cold call’s but I learned from a seasoned marketer on how to get the in, mainly using small talk to find a commonality with the staff.

If you are wanting/needing to do more networking to promote your business, here are some tips to help you learn how to be more effective:

  • Before you attend the meeting, know your audience; often times the group will post the list of attendees so look at their profiles and see if you align with anyone. Also, come up with at least three topics or questions you could talk about, such as something they’re wearing like a tie or a piece of jewelry. Be observant to find commonalities to connect.
  • Be the first to say hello and introduce yourself; look for others who are on the outer edges of the room as they may prefer more intimate, 1:1 conversations. I met a great friend this way – she was standing alone and I approached her – it turned out we had so much in common in our backgrounds and education that led to our long-standing friendship even though she lives in another State.
  • Be prepared with your introduction, which would include your name and what you do. Having a compelling tag line or brand will help to get the conversation going. Focus on other person – make it about them, not you; be interested not interesting. Maintain good eye contact with them, not looking at others. Be a listener – nod and smile which lets the other party know you are engaged in the conversation.
  • Be goal-directed: come up with 3-5 goals you have for the meeting: the number of people you will connect with that are in alignment with your business or interests; meeting a particular person you know will be at the meeting; or meeting someone who is in your same line of work. Another goal may be to serve on a committee or to become a speaker for a future meeting.  Having a goal will keep you more engaged in the meeting.
  • Be relaxed and have fun; there are most likely a whole lot more attendees who feel the way you do. The more you do, the easier it becomes and that is where mastery comes in. Soon, you’ll lose the worries about how you appear and enjoy the new relationships (and business) you’ve acquired. You’ll have mastered the art of small talk.

If you’d like help on being a more effective networker and master the art of small talk, contact me at http://www.cyscoaching.com. Let’s talk!

The Benefit for Your Business of Having a Display Booth at Events

If you are wanting more exposure for your business, whether you are a solopreneur, small business or a large corporation, one of the most effective ways is to participate as a vendor at events.  The time and investment can profile you and your company to a large amount of people that are in your target market, all the while saving time on marketing costs.

Think about it – the host, or whomever is putting the event together, does all the work, as they create the flyers, promote the event and sign-up participants.  As a vendor, all you have to do is show up with your marketing materials that will showcase your offerings.  And, your information gets “shown” around as attendees carry your take-aways around; it can create a buzz as people see your information and drive them to your booth or table.  This is where you then can have the opportunity to speak to them one-on-one.

I recently participated in a vendor event that helped me to make people more aware of my company and services; it also led to several speaking engagements and connections to other referrals who are in need of my services.  Some, I have been trying to reach but with no success so this opportunity helped me gain those connections!

My booth 1.13.

Some suggestions if you do decide to participate as vendor:

  1. Decide if the event fits in with your product and offerings – if not, then it may not be worth the time and  investment
  2. Look at the cost of participating – some are free, while others can require a fee to set up a booth, often ranging from $50 to several thousands; it will depend on the host and size of attendees.  If you will have your target market at hand, then the upfront investment can gain you large pay-off in the end
  3. Be alert to your presentation – how your booth is arranged can often determine who visits and stays at your site.  I learned a lesson recently that I need to have a display board – I had flyers as takeaways  but it would have looked more inviting and professionally-looking.
  4. Have a give-away with a place to capture their business cards – people love free “stuff”, so have an offering so they will drop their cards off and know that you will be in contact with them.  I always have candy and a novelty item, like a small clapper, as give-aways, as well as my e-book or free report they can sign up for .
  5. Be open and inviting to attendees – you want to greet those who visit your booth and ask about them and their needs, and then show them how your services will help to solve those needs.  Ask for what the next step will be or who they know who also might need your services.  This helps for you to gain market research as well as begin to make good connections and friendships.
  6. Mingle with other vendors – don’t just stay in your booth area as the other vendors may need your services, or vice-versa.  I make three contacts this way for referrals and speaking opportunities.  I made a point of visiting all the vendors prior to the exhibit opening but I did not see others do the same.  I think it shows good camaraderie and professionalism.
  7. Dress professionally and ensure your brand is consistent; remember, opinions are made in the first 20 seconds and can determine if someone visits you, stays or tells others about you ( they will but it make not be in the positive way you want).  Be aware of your body language – a smile is inviting, as well as arms at your sides and a warm handshake.  I saw vendors who showed up in jeans, stood with their arms crossed or talked to each other while attendees “looked.”  You want them to leave with a positive, lasting impression.
  8. Follow-Up – once the event is over, be sure to follow-up with those attendees and vendors you met, as well as thanking your host for the opportunity.  People remember people who acknowledge them; be sure to remind them of what you had discussed and of your services, as well as asking for an opportunity to meet either by phone or in person.  Send them something, like an article your wrote or that speaks to their need and put them on your list to follow-up periodically.

Adding vendor display opportunities to your strategic  marketing plan can have big pay-offs if done right.  The more you do, the more comfortable you will become and the more exposure your will gain, while your business grows!

 

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