I’ve been running Business Heroes for more than 18 months. To kick off 2019 I compiled a checklist of topics we discussed.
I hope this list will stimulate your consideration of strategies and tactics for 2019.
I don’t think you need to do everything on the list. I think you should consider these ideas and consciously decide what your priorities are for action moving forward.
#1. Be a Person: How you communicate with all of your audiences matters
People do business with other people they Know, Like and Trust. Be a Person.
How you communication in your business matters. The words you use, the voice you take on and even the format of communications matter. Be real, be unique, be authentic and be yourself.
Communicating ‘Like a Person’ is especially important when you are creating messages for any kind of automated relationship building campaign. Automation can easily come of as fake and impersonal. It does not have to though.
Consciously working on your marketing voice is a worthwhile exercise.
There is a helpful Business Heroes “Marketing Voice” Worksheet here.
#2. Be a Person: Developing relationships
Developing relationships is a big part of your job.
Getting customers is about relationships.
Keeping customers is about relationships.
If you start to view customers as dollar signs, sales figures or accounts receivable, you are sunk.
Relationships take time and effort. An example I find useful is a personal relationship such as dating. Most relationships that are going to last develop over time. It might start as a glance, a flirt, a touch. Then maybe a conversation that leads to a date. Then a date that leads too …..
If you are counting that is 5 different contacts before both parties actually agree to think about having a ‘relationship’.
In online sales, some people take a much more direct approach. They run an add or send a single email. That is immediately followed by a link to an order form to consummate the transaction. Taking the dating analogy a little farther; it is kind of like a couple meeting in a bar or at a party, chatting and then one or the other asks, ‘How many kids do you think we should have?’
Too soon! Develop a relationship. Learn something about each other. Build something that will last.
What are 3 things that you think prospects need to know about you before you can do business? What do you think is the best way for them to discover what they need to know about. Telling people is usually not the best way to build a relationship. How do people discover what they need to know about you?
#3. Customer Lifecycle: Attract
The Customer Lifecycle paradigm visualizes the ‘big picture’ of relationships with customers. The ‘Attract’ phase is the begining of developing a relationship.
The ‘Attract’ phase of the customer lifecycle gets the most attention from many marketers. There are so many ways to start this part of the relationship. We can spend days just on individual aspects such as Getting Attention or techniques such as Landing Pages.
Target – You need to know who your audience is. If your answer is that you want to sell to ‘everyone’ then you need a better answer. Even if everybody needs what you have, targeting a group that large is too hard. It is much more efficient to craft a strategy to get leads from a specific group of potential customers.
Attract Interest – Getting attention is the name of the game. Buildings and signs get attention. Advertising of all kinds gets attention. Books, articles and blog posts get attention. Letters, postcards and even business cards have the potential to get attention.
Get leads – Turning the attention of the target audience into a specific lead that you can communicate with is the ultimate goal of the ‘Attract’ phase. Getting a lead can be as simple as getting someone’s business card. Getting a phone call works too. On the web, Landing Pages are a way to turn targeted attention into a lead.
There are lots more topics in the ‘Attract’ Phase.
- Retargeting ads
- Direct mail
- Trade shows
#4. Customer Lifecycle: Sell
While making a sale is not the only thing, it is critical to business success. One principle of in this phase of the customer lifecycle is to make offers
Educate – What do you have to offer? Who is it for? Why is it a good fit? How will it make my life better if I buy this?
Offer – These are the specifics. There can be one single offer or maybe Good, Better and Best options. Price and deliver are made clear.
Close – Seal the deal with a signature, order form or some other commitment.
#5. Customer Lifecycle – Wow
Wow is often the forgotten part of the Customer Lifecycle. Of course you need to deliver what you sold. Hopefully you can that in a way that ‘Wows’ the customer. We often think about under promising and over delivering. Beyond delivering on your promise, it is important to think about getting testimonials, reviews and referrals.
Deliver & Wow – While not often considered part of the sales process, Deliver & Wow are critical to future sales to this and other customers. It is important to think of the customer here as a PERSON, not just a customer. Communicate what they purchased and why it is so great. Make buying from you a wonderful experience.
More offers – The best time to sell something to someone can be right after they have bought something. Upsells are especially effective on the web. Some will buy and some will not. All will know that you have more to sell.
Referrals – Referrals, Testimonials, reviews are like magic for your business. Five Star Google Reviews are wildly successful in generating traffic and sales in many situations.
#6. Get Help: Business systems
Business systems are a huge way to get more done.
One of the first business books made a big impact on my was The E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. The basic gist of it was to build yourself a business with systems, not a job.
There are 2 specific take-aways that I have always remembered from Michael Gerber’s E Myth books.
First is the idea that whatever skill you have can be turned into a business but that is not really entrepreneurial. For instance, a really good brick layer can make a good living by providing that service to a series of grateful customers. That can be a great business and a noble profession. It is not really entrepreneurial until the brick layer starts to run it like a business where there is a system to bring in business, a system to attract, train and manage brick layers and a system to keep it all working smoothly when the owner is not there.
Gerber talks about organizing the business as if it were a franchise. You do not need to franchise it but you do need to organize it with everything in place for the business to grow, prosper and be duplicated if that is what the owner wants.
My second take-away is Gerber’s emphasis on Systems. Chapter 18 addresses this with this definition:
“A system is a set of things, actions, ideas and information that interact with each other, and is so doing, alter other systems.”
I am consistently surprised at how difficult creating systems can be. It is one thing to be able to do a task or perform a function. It is an altogether different thing to create a system to handle the same thing. True entrepreneurs get stuff done through other people. Systems make that possible.
Here are 3 ways to continue your journey about systems and the E-Myth…
- Get the Checklist and all of the other free BT4SB training that is included. bt4sb.com/2019checklist
- Buy Gerber’s book. This is not a new book but the ideas remain extremely solid. If you do buy the book feel free to get in touch so we can discuss it. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It
- Schedule a time for us to talk one-on-one. You can access my calendar and schedule a call – either a quick 20 minute call or a more in-depth 45 minute call. bt4sb.com/talktodon
#7. Get Help: Delegate
Business Heroes are typically ‘get it done’ kind of people. Sometimes we take that too far and try to get it all done alone. Getting stuff done through others is a key skill of a really successful business leader.
Delegating is hard. It can be especially difficult for the personality type who typically start their own businesses. Getting started is often a pretty solitary endeavor. Making the transition to ‘giving up’ some duties is a skill that needs to be developed.
There are lots of resources out there for learning to delegate. A good starting point it to ‘know thyself’. Personalities tests can be a tool to begin to understand ‘what makes you tick’ in order to facilitate the change required for added success.
Free DISC personality assessment: https://www.tonyrobbins.com/disc/
#8. Get Help: Automate
Getting stuff done through automation can be huge in some businesses. Typically automation costs less and is more reliable than people.
There is amazing technology around to automate many different aspects of your business.
A system that automatically ‘gets stuff done’ is a huge business advantage.
Get our ’25 Things Every Small Business Should Automate’ PDF:
#9. Get Help: Outsource and partnerships
Technology makes long distance communications commonplace. Virtual offices, virtual employees, global outsourcing.
My friend Aderson Oliveira build an important part of his business via outsourcing technical services to another country. He calls himself the “Outsourcerer” – he really has developed some unique and powerful skills in attracting and managing outsourced talent. He also recognizes that this is not necessarily easy for everyone to duplicate. Note that his podcast on the subject is called ‘OuchSourcing’ in recognition of some of the pain that this approach can bring.
There certain are perils to outsourcing but there are also benefits. There is significant talent available to be purchase on an ‘as needed’ basis. Virtual Assistants are a growing category of people to get complete all sorts of tasks such as scheduling, emails, calls, research, data entry and project management.
At Affinigent we have a strong internal team which we have successfully extended by outsourcing some:
- Graphic design
- Web Design
- Book Layout
- Book Cover design
#10. Get Help: Visualize your Metrics
A good dashboard is a powerful way to visually what is happening in a business. The goal is to make it easy to see what is going on.
Good Key Performance Indicators can also be an ‘Early Warning System to help you see the future while there is still time to make adjustments.
Most successful businesses have a number of ‘moving parts’ that need to be managed. Digging through reports about sales, production, web traffic and expenses can almost become a full time job.
A well design dashboard can bring together all of the data that matters and present it in a way that is easy to interpret. You can easily answer questions like:
- Are profit margins where they need to be?
- How do sales look compared to the previous period?
- Are web traffic and conversion where they need to be?
- Is production keeping up?
#11. Technology : The cloud
Understanding and using cloud technologies can really make your life easier. The cloud is everywhere, it is easy to access and it makes information easy to share.
- Anyone can access from anywhere
- You can control who has access to what
- Access with all kinds of devices – phone, tablet, desktop or things (The Internet of Things, IoT)
- The cloud stores data
- The cloud stores programs/apps
At Affinigent we use cloud for:
- G Suite – email, docs, sheets, slides and G Drive
- Xero – accounting
- Infusionsoft – Customer Relationship Management and Marketing Automation
- Trello – Project Management
- Slack – Team messaging
- Tawk.to – Live chat
- Ring Central – phone system
#12. Technology: Security and password management
Your email and much more is most likely in the cloud. Keeping it safe is crucial. Having a secure way to save and retrieve passwords is important to everyone. Taking advantage of security above and beyond a simple password is highly recommended.
You need a safe way to keep track of your passwords. Systems I have used in the past include keeping 3 easy to remember passwords in my head, a notebook, a spreadsheet on my computer and a spreadsheet on my Google Drive. I do not recommend any of these!
I have used LastPass and Dashlane. There are a number of others that I assume are quite good.
2 Factor Authentication (2FA)
2FA means that you need more than just a password to login. The second factor can be a code you receive by text, a code generated by an authentication code on your phone or a code generated by a physical device (YubiKey for example).
Passwords are reasonably secure but recent vulnerabilities on the web show that they are not really secure enough. A second factor increases security dramatically. This is especially important for your email account. Email is often used to confirm access to to other systems. We have stories of email hacking leading to significant business losses. We have one client that had to spend well over $5,000 to unlock all of the data from a Crypto Locker attack. Another client had a 3 letter domain name stolen via an email attack. That domain name was worth over $25,000.
Lucky # 13’s — Bonus stuff
A ‘Thank You’ can be very expensive but provide value that is hard to calculate. Thank your customers, your partners and your employees. If possible, make sure you have a ‘Thank you’ system in place to make sure it happens without depending on your memory. This is tip # 99 in my book…
Everyone has phones and tablets to access the web these days. Your marketing has to be certain to take advantage of this dramatic shift.
We are all rapidly coming to expect that information is available via video. It is one of the most efficient and compelling ways to transmit all kinds of information.
Live Chat and texting
We are all becoming accustomed to immediate communication. Live chat on a website makes customers happy. Happy is good. Texting with customers can be a really valuable tool too. Email and phone are good but texts get seen.
Organizing customer information
Communicating with an ever growing list of customers can be challenging. Organizing all customer communications in one place with Customer Relationship Management software can really make a difference.