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Monday, April 30, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
With the power of your imagination, you can just as easily turn a bad situation into a good one. The next time you're facing a situation you dread, try thinking about all the things that you're afraid will go wrong, and imagine the feelings that go along with it. Then imagine some some positive alternatives by using the phrase "but instead." For example: "I spend the entire morning calling all my leads from marketing, and no one wants to talk to me." Now repeat that statement, but add "but instead" at the end, and then imagine a positive outcome: "...but instead, I have a conversation with marketing about where these leads came from and why they're not working, and we figure out a strategy to find the right leads for me to pursue." With a little imagination, you can get right back on course.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
How long is the list of people to whom you owe thanks? Gratitude is not just a once-a-year expression used during Thanksgiving, performance appraisals, or annual meetings. It's a daily necessity for sales professionals whose goal it is to provide value for as many people as possible. Start counting the number of people to whom you give a sincere and meaningful thanks each day. If it's fewer than five people, start making an effort to look for opportunities to thank more people every day. You might even be lifted up by getting thanks in return.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
According to Jacob Morgan, modern-day selling has a lot in common with the late Bruce Lee. That's right: Bruce Lee. How? One of Bruce Lee's approaches toward martial arts was the idea of fighting without fighting, which can be adapted to the selling world as "selling without selling." Pretend you had to sell to Bruce Lee, but if he felt like you were pitching or selling to him, he would get to kick you in the head. All of a sudden your approach toward selling would be different. Now, instead of trying to sell, you will try to connect and build a relationship. You will try to build trust.
1. Get your hands on the attendee list. The trick to a successful conference or trade show is to get the attendee list as soon as possible. Most of your competitors won’t worry about getting the list but will wait to see what kind of leads they can drum up by sitting at their booths, lamely attempting to woo passers-by with a chance to win an iPad or some other goodie.
It’s a crazy strategy to go where your dream clients are and sit at a booth and wait for them to come upon you by chance. Yet, this is what salespeople and sales organizations do. But your most fierce, aggressive, hunter-type competitors won’t be anywhere near their booths. They will be engaged in higher-value activities. They’ll take the next couple of steps.
2. Call the list. Call, don’t email the list. Email is where requests for commitments go to die. Look at your inbox right now. It’s full of all kinds of requests that have been made of you, and you are leaving them there because they don’t require you to make a decision about them right now.
Pick up the phone and call the attendees you want to meet. Ask them to make a commitment to meet with you. You need to connect before the conference if you want their time, and the longer you wait to call, the less likely it is that you will make it onto your dream client’s calendar.
3. Schedule meaningful appointments. It’s a conference! People are going to meet for breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner and drinks. Your dream client contacts are going to the conference to learn and to make new connections that can help them to produce greater business results. They want to get a return on their investment, and you want to schedule a meeting to help them get that return.
4. Don’t schedule your dream client for the booth. You will meet prospects at your booth. You may win some clients from your booth. But that isn’t the best strategy. Your dream client may be currently working with your competitors. They don’t always want to be seen sitting at your booth, viewing your demo or engaging in long conversations about their needs. This is why you book private meetings.
If you’ve ever sat at a booth, you know that many prospects will agree to drop by your booth but never seem to make it. Do you know why? They were meeting with your competitors, who picked up the phone and booked them for lunch.
5. Book follow-up calls and follow up. To make the most of your conference, you need to book follow-up meetings with everyone you have met with at the conference. Make sure you get something scheduled before you leave the initial meetings. The wonderful meetings you had during the conference need to be converted into post-conference sales calls. This is where you will get a return on your conference investment. Also plan to follow up with every new person you met during the conference. And don’t wait months to do so.
For stellar conference success, follow these simple rules: Work the conference before the conference, stay out of the booth, then work the conference after the conference.
Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go http://thesalesblog.com/s-anthony-iannarino/
Monday, April 23, 2012
Be aware of the people who are most helpful to you. Those are the folks you should be talking to most frequently as you strive to deliver the highest value to your customers and for your company. The quickest way to climb the ladder of success is to find the right people, who will give you a boost when you need it. If you look around and find a lack of supportive people, start reaching out to those who might serve that purpose for you. Ask them what you might be able to do for them in order to establish a mutually beneficial relationship.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
What should a salesperson do when customers become disagreeable? This largely depends on the situation – who is this customer, how long have you had this relationship, and what's the nature of the disagreement or complaint? Very often, customers harbor complaints that can actually provide salespeople with valuable feedback about how they're communicating or what kind of products or services would be a better fit. Try looking past the tone or attitude and see if there's anything you can take away from the situation that would end up serving you well in the future. No matter what (even if you decide the customer is more trouble than he/she is worth), always maintain your professional attitude and demeanor when responding to a customer who's disgruntled. Keep a level head and do your best not to lose your cool.
Seeing how media has evolved reminds me of this old game. You get a mention in a newspaper article and find an online link to share on Twitter. Your followers retweet it to their followers, who post it on Facebook, where someone finds it and mentions it on a talk-radio fan page and, before you know it, you’re a guest on a radio show.
But in order to arrive at this dream outcome, you must first integrate your publicity with social media. At my firm, our social-media campaign manager turns the crank. She writes and posts blogs and comments and tweets updates on behalf of clients. Her aim is to build a large, credible following for them.
Here are a few of her tips
People who use social media casually may send a few tweets, update their Facebook status or write a weekly blog post. They connect with people whose content they’re interested in: family members, friends, co-workers, fellow hobbyists and people who share their interests.
If you have a serious goal, such as building an audience for marketing purposes, however, you need to do all of that and more. One strategy I use for our clients is generating “third-party conversations.” Instead of simply posting on our clients’ own social networking sites, I visit the blogs, websites and fan pages of people with similar interests. I comment on their content in hopes of engaging their audience in a conversation that can drive traffic to our clients’ websites.
For instance, we have a client whose message involves maintaining healthy romantic relationships. I found a great article on this topic and shared it with a comment on other sites. The article prompted a discussion and, when it seemed appropriate, I shared a link to our client’s blog. As a result, she gained some new Facebook and Twitter followers.
Another strategy I use is promoting our clients when they’re featured in traditional media, such as newspapers and radio and TV shows, all of which seemed to have some sort of online presence. One client had signed on for our talk-radio campaign. I promoted her upcoming radio interviews to her friends and followers. I also visited the stations’ Twitter accounts and Facebook pages, friended their friends and plugged the upcoming interviews there. As a result, this client made lots of new connections among the stations’ listeners.
These are strategies anyone can use. They merely require time and imagination. To help ensure your success, here are some tips:
Don’t over-promote yourself. This is the number-one rule. People are turned off by those who seem interested only in selling a book or product. A good rule of thumb is to make sure 80 percent of your content is light, interesting, informative or fun.
Don’t bury your followers in an avalanche of content. Limit Facebook status updates and tweets to three or four per day.
People new to social media often regard those with similar content as rivals or competitors. Actually, they can be your new best friends. Become a partner in sharing with online personalities whose messages are similar to yours, and you’ll soon have a vast support network.
Integrating publicity and social media requires some thought, effort and creativity. But isn’t that always true when you’re trying to build a better mousetrap?
Marsha Friedman is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), which provides publicity services nationwide, and the author of Celebritize Yourself.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Jack White performs with Patrick Keeler of the Raconteurs during Bonnaroo. White signed on as a headliner for Red Frog Events' new festival.
Within 24 hours of Fireflyfestival.com going live we had well over $1 million in ticket sales. We also had press coverage in the New York Times and more than 100 other media outlets worldwide. At Camp Red Frog—what we call our headquarters—we broke out the champagne, gave hugs, and felt a palpable excitement in the air.
We knew it was the start of our next chapter, of something special.
This was the culmination of nearly five years of hard work, consistently building upon our competencies and taking calculated risks.
Red Frog Events start was in fitness. Specifically, we are the creators of the active entertainment industry, which takes fitness challenges (not unlike a marathon) and combines them with fun. The result: Our events like Warrior Dash (the world's largest running series) and Great Urban Race.
From our first event, Great Urban Race Chicago in 2007, which had 178 participants, up to today, Red Frog has been relentlessly focused on building upon our competencies. Through our steadfast dedication, our skills gained grew until we were delivering exceptional 20,000+ person events every weekend during our busy season.
I dream big. Resting on our early success wasn't an option. With an eye on healthy diversification of our competencies coupled with an irresistible opportunity in an industry with some glaring inefficiencies, Firefly was born.
The contacts and skills acquired over the five years we've been in business lended themselves nicely to allow for a safe foray into the notoriously rocky music-festival business. Our vertical integration and event staff infrastructure allowed us to dodge some risks others would have to assume.
For a variety of reasons, no major music festival ever took root on the East Coast. The opportunity was monstrous. The hurdles were endless. It sounded like the perfect challenge for Red Frog, the kind we love to embrace. In what ended up being almost exactly a year from the start of our exploratory stage to Web launch, we faced challenges at every step of the way, the most noteworthy two being venues and talent.
Finding a suitable venue that could hold up to 300,000 attendees over a long weekend presented a multitude of challenges. After a long search that included scouring 60-plus potential sites and visiting several, we found a beautiful match: Dover International Speedway. Not only was it a gorgeous site that was comfortable with hosting large-scale events, but the people were first-rate. Exactly the type of partners we needed.
With the venue safely in place, it was time to tackle the biggest challenge of all: our lineup. Talent sells tickets. We had little experience booking artists, much less some of the world's greatest. Artists are rightfully reluctant to sign on for a first year festival with no history of success with ticket sales or logistics.
After several months of strategizing, we signed three of the best rock acts of our time for headliners—Jack White, The Killers, and The Black Keys—along with an impressive supporting cast of nearly 40 other bands. First-year festivals don't get lineups like that. How'd we do it? A relentless focus on accepting nothing less.
Much of the music world will be watching what happens from July 20 through 22 in Dover, Delaware. I think they'll be blown away. I sure expect to be.
Joe Reynolds turned a $5,000 investment in an event production business called Red Frog into a thriving $45 million company in just four years. Red Frog Events was named the 2011 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year. @RedFrogEvents
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Clark is best known for hosting long-running television shows such as "American Bandstand," the game show "Pyramid" and "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve."
He was nicknamed "America's oldest teenager" and maintained his youthful looks into his 70s.
Clark had been in St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., after undergoing an outpatient procedure Tuesday night. He suffered the heart attack following the procedure and attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.
Clark is survived by his wife, Kari, and his three children.
Clark, who started out as a TV announcer in Utica, New York, parlayed his "Bandstand" fame into a career as a producer and host of dozens of other shows, including ABC's annual New Year's Eve telecast, which he launched in 1972.
With his clean-cut image and youthful appearance, he presided over more than three decades of pop music and dance trends as host of "American Bandstand," the first network TV show to feature rock 'n' roll.
He also produced such perennial TV events as the American Music Awards and the Golden Globes telecast.
Musicians, entertainers and fans of all ages quickly took to Twitter to remember Clark.
"American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest, who began co-hosting "New Year's Rockin' Eve" in 2005, tweeted, "I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dick Clark. He has truly been one of the greatest influences in my life. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."
"REST IN PEACE to the DICK CLARK!! U were pioneer n a good man!! Thank u sir" wrote Snoop Dogg.
And Isaac Hanson of the band Hanson tweeted, "Dick Clark was a Rock 'n' Roll Radio/TV icon with an influence on pop culture for more than 50 years. Rest in peace."
Comedian Joan Rivers tweeted, "Very sad to hear about Dick Clark. What a great life. What a great career. Relevant until the end. He will be missed!"
In any contest, there are winners and losers – and salespeople hate to lose. But remember the old saying: it's how you play the game that counts. In any sales career, there will be highs and lows, peaks and valleys. Just because you're on top one day doesn't mean you'll always be there. If life is a contest, that means there will always be another way to push yourself forward. The outcome of a contest doesn't matter as much as feeling every day like you're a winner.
File this one under “easier said than done” because most people agree with the philosophy, agree with the phrase and even label this as “basic stuff”
So basic that the bulk of the population sucks at this!
Any who, here it is in all it’s simplistic splendor . . .
Reach out to your clients and tell them . . .
“I was thinking about you” as in . . .
“I was thinking about you and (fill in the blank with a specific challenge) and had a few thoughts for you”
“I was thinking about you and thought of this idea that might help” Bonus points if it’s a no strings attached idea.
“I was thinking about you and wanted to hear about that vacation you were about to go on last time we chatted”
“I was thinking about you and realized its been like forever since we got together to break some bread”
“I was thinking about you and wanted to know how our TPS Reporting System is addressing the concerns you expressed to me when we first met”
“I was thinking about you and know of someone who I could refer to you as a client” Imagine that . . . sending a client a freakin client . . . Classic!
I do believe there’s a bit of a psychological benefit to saying this phrase and more importantly, demonstrating a level of care here’s why . . .
We all want to be important enough to know others are thinking about us!
People seem to be too busy to care these days. I don’t say that as a prompting for all of us to check into group therapy, I say that as an invitation for you to . . .
Out Care Everyone Else!
So let’s break this down into some actionable steps
Step 1: Think about a client
Step 2: Reach out to them (preferably through an ancient device called the phone)
Step 3: Let them know you were thinking about them. Tell them why.
Step 4 Lose your agenda and make the interaction all about them.
Step 5 Continue giving a sh*t by demonstrating good listening skills.
Step 6 No multi tasking while giving a sh*t.
Step 7 Rinse and repeat with your other clients
Think this is silly? Riddle me this . . .
When was the last time someone told you that they were thinking about you?
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Not enough activity. First, they simply aren’t doing enough. What’s enough? Enough telephone calls to make appointments, enough face-to-face meetings, enough calls designed to influence decision-makers. In general, the more focused sales activity salespeople can engage in, the greater the number of sales opportunities they can create.
Poor-quality activity. Second, but equally important, salespeople often aren’t clear about how to identify the prospects most likely to have a genuine need for their product or service. Without an objective way to prioritize which prospects to contact first and/or an efficient strategy for contacting them, salespeople waste a large percentage of their time.
Another huge dilemma for many salespeople is how to divide their time between servicing existing clients and finding new prospects. Existing clients frequently make requests for service that could be delegated to support staff. But salespeople who lack a disciplined, future-orientated plan for generating new contacts and sales can find themselves spending time attending to such tasks for existing accounts instead.
A common approach among salespeople can be summarized by the following saying: “If you throw enough mud against the wall, some of it is bound to stick.” This approach is exhausting, demoralizing, extremely unproductive and very expensive in the long term. Target your efforts to your specific goals and you will stand a much better chance of achieving them.
Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, consultant and chairman of The JF Corporation and CEO of Top Sales Associates. For more information and tips from Jonathan, visit http://www.topsalesworld.com/, or go to his blog at http://www.thejfblogit.co.uk/.
Salespeople must work hard to keep negativity in check. There's no denying the fact that cold calling, prospecting, and facing daily rejection has a way of piling up on even the best salespeople. But there are ways you can combat the urge to sink into a negative slump. Go for a walk, call someone who always cheers you up, or do something nice for someone in need. Never allow thoughts of self-doubt and insecurity to take root in your mind.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Salespeople should not forget that they're highly connected to other people. In other professions, it's possible to work and operate by thinking in terms of "me," but if salespeople want to succeed, they'll think in terms of "we." The days of the lone sales wolf are over; social networks have put the ball in the customer's court. Your personal address book could never have as wide a reach as the multiplied factor of friends, fans, and followers.
When you have fears or concerns about what you believe it will take to achieve a goal or about what will happen after you achieve that goal, you may subconsciously sabotage yourself to avoid success.
Take Laura, for example. Laura started writing a book with a specific goal for completing it but never seemed to get there. When she considered what she thought would happen after the book was completed, she quickly realized that she had many fears, including the fear that the book would be criticized or that it would raise her visibility and make her a target of attention or that success might pull her away from her family.
When you have underlying thoughts like this, it’s no surprise that you stop pursuing or at least slow down in taking action toward your goals.
To find out if you have any “goal stoppers,” ask yourself: “What’s the worst that could happen if I accomplish this goal?” and “What will it cost me to achieve this goal?”
Make a complete list of your concerns about taking action to accomplish your goal and of what might happen if you accomplish it. Take a moment to actually write them down. Some of your concerns may seem a bit far-fetched—even silly—when you put them down on paper, but some will feel very real.
The truth is, however, that those events you fear may or may not come to pass. We often scare ourselves by imagining the negative outcomes of our actions. If you’re stopped from moving toward your goal by fear, you will never know what you could have accomplished. In order to move ahead powerfully, you’ll need to remove those fears.
There are techniques to help you overcome your self-limiting fears. Try them—it’s worth the effort.
Jack Canfield, America’s success coach, is the founder and co-creator of the billion-dollar book brand “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and a leading authority on peak performance. If you're ready to jump start your life, make more money and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your free success tips from Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
The old “time is money” platitude sounds good but has lost a bit of its punch since you first heard it. But, like it or not, the amount of value you can add is severely limited by the amount of uninterrupted, focused, productive time you are able to invest in your endeavors. Because added value is the only thing than can create financial equity, then it behooves you to get serious about how you invest every minute of your time.
Before I lose you to some sort of resistance thinking (“Who wants to watch every minute that closely?”) consider this: Love takes time, friendship takes time, recovery takes time. Everything is a function of how we spend our time. Money just happens to be easier to quantify.
When we have no detailed plan for our time, stuff will just happen to us rather than the other way around. Apply this to your clients’ financial planning, and you’ve added an entirely new dimension to what’s possible and necessary to derive the most beneficial outcome for them. After all, what does that million dollars mean when no use for the money is attached? If there’s no purpose for the money, does the money still have value?
Give a lottery winner $10 million, and he’ll go bankrupt in a few years. But give the right punk kid with a dream $5,000 and he’ll create magic and change all our lives. All he needs is a little time.
Adam Cufr is a founding principal of Fourth Dimension Financial Group, LLC. He is the creator of the web-based coaching program The Life Insurance Blueprint, a prolific blogger, and an expert author on Ezine Articles. For more information, go to http://adamcufr.com/blog.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
A video from Breckenridge Brewery highlights the beer's "Gravity Activated Pouring."
- Visual and viral: Hosting video on a website, or at the very least posting it to YouTube, is easy to do. Barriers to entry are low; homegrown videos compete against slick, highly commercial ones.
- Budget-friendly: Technology has also slashed the cost of homegrown humor. Videos can be made with hand-held cameras and light editing software; photos and podcasts can be captured by a phone.
Business Spoofs Online
Friday, April 13, 2012
Salespeople deal with rejection on a regular basis. Gatekeepers reject us when trying to reach decision makers, and we are rejected by decision makers when asking for the sale. Sometimes it's hard to continue working through the rejection. Although rejection can be overwhelming, it's also possible to manage your response to it. Remember, every no you hear is another step closer to getting the yes. It's nothing personal – selling is just a cycle of yes and no. Your objective is to maximize the number to times you hear a yes and minimize the times you hear a no. But you can't have one without the other. You have to get through the no and get to the yes.
CONTRIBUTED BY MICHAEL T. BOYKO
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Sometimes, because of our personal problems, we get in a slump. Sometimes we can't handle the rejection anymore and become agitated. Sometimes we just can't do our job because there is so much going on in our lives. If you ever hit a slump, then it's time to take out the trash. Do what works for you to get back on track. You might listen to your favorite song or to a motivational presentation. You might go to the movies. You might revisit your list of goals and recommit to working on the things you've said you want in life. Take out the trash, and you'll find yourself back at work and refocused before you know it.
CONTRIBUTED BY MICHAEL T. BOYKO
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
We become fearful and immobile when we focus on the negative aspects of a situation.
How much better it is to focus on the positive.
When we're confronted with an important decision and you know what you should do, move out in faith.
Focus on the positive while trusting God to overcome the negatives.
Problems don't have to rob you of the victory!
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Building rapport is a process that is vital in the sales cycle. Without it, sales cannot be made. Building rapport might be as simple as asking someone how his or her day is going, or as involved as listening to someone's life story. At the end of the day, the salespeople who know how to build rapport will build a larger base of clients who trust them and rely on them for advice and guidance. Be the person who builds the most rapport possible, and you will be a happy person. Not only that, your clients will be happier for knowing you, as well.
CONTRIBUTED BY MICHAEL T. BOYKO
Mistakes you are making now may sabotage your retirement later.
While not having a game plan for how you're going to retire by age 65 may not seem like a priority today, for example, the longer you delay planning hurts your chances of actually being able to achieve that dream.
Financial mistakes such as overspending and helping the kids too much may also increase the probability you'll run out of money before you die, say financial advisers.
Here are five mistakes investors should avoid:
1. Never getting a second opinion on your 401(k).
Too many clients follow the conventional wisdom of contributing the maximum to their 401(k), never considering if this is the best move for their financial situation, says Robert Schmansky, a Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based certified financial planner.
An investor's 401(k) might charge excessive fees, for example, and he or she may be better off investing some money in a Roth individual retirement account with more investment choices and lower fees, Mr. Schmansky says.
"It's important to look at your entire financial picture," he says.
2. Not having a plan.
"No financial plan means financial decisions are random," says Kevin Reardon, a Pewaukee, Wis.-based certified financial planner. While living for the moment and making decisions on the fly may feel good, a lifetime of doing so often results in insufficient savings and an overleveraged lifestyle, he says.
"Be concerned about not being destitute," he says.
Clients reluctant to plan can start by setting small goals such as saving 5% of their gross income a month and then gradually working up to saving 15% within 12 months for example, says Mr. Reardon.
3. Refusing to scale back.
For the past five years, Houston-based certified financial planner James Hoffman has encouraged a couple to downsize their home and boost their savings. The couple, now 67 and 66 years old, wish to retire in three years, but have yet to cut back. "They don't feel any urgency," he says.
That's a mistake, though, as situations can change unexpectedly and they may not be able to work for another three years, he says.
In addition, by not making changes to their lifestyle now, they'll likely find it more difficult to scale back their spending when they have no income and have no choice but to cut back later on.
Mr. Hoffman is working with the couple to find expenses they could trim now without too much pain—such as eating out two fewer times a week and socking that money away in savings.
4. Sacrificing your retirement to pay for the kids' college.
Recently a 55-year-old husband and his 54-year-old wife went to see certified financial planner Debra Morrison as they had just finished putting their last child through college and were now ready to save for their retirement.
"They were happy their children graduated debt-free but they were downright scared about their lack of retirement savings," says the Lincoln Park, N.J.-based certified financial planner.
This may be an extreme example, but too many parents are sacrificing their own retirement to fund their children's education, she says.
"College-loan programs abound, retirement financial aid does not," she says.
Ms. Morrison says while it's natural for some parents to feel guilty about not being able to help their kids more, the best gift to their children is to secure their own retirement so they won't need to lean on their children later on.
Ms. Morrison encourages parents to find "middle ground" with their children—offering to pay for books and commuting expenses, for example, or paying for two years at a state school.
If a child has his heart set on a college that's more expensive than what the family can afford, Ms. Morrison says, it's up to the child to find creative ways to meet that funding gap.
5. Thinking you'll live forever.
Too many couples' retirement dreams "go up in smoke" when a spouse dies unexpectedly, says Kathleen Rehl, a Land O'Lakes, Fla.-based certified financial planner.
A widow Ms. Rehl recently worked with was forced to sell the family home and her two young children had to change schools because the family was unprepared for her husband's sudden death.
To avoid the "double shock" of grieving for a loved one and dealing with a new financial reality, Ms. Rehl advises clients to buy term life insurance on both spouses, create wills, and make sure both spouses are informed and ready to make financial decisions in case one dies.
Monday, April 9, 2012
Give compliments to and ask questions about the person with whom you're speaking. Ask about his or her life (within bounds and reason). Ask about work. If there is one thing people love to talk about more than anything else, it's themselves. All you need to do is get the ball rolling, then listen and respond. Make friends with everyone you talk to. It's not just a good thing for you; when you are kind to people, it makes them feel good, and when people feel good, they're open to new opportunities and relationships.
Just when you thought you understood Facebook there is a new social network to utilize. Learn some tips for for increasing your brand on Google+.
Michael Dell, the famed entrepreneur who started Dell Computer, posted a message on the Web. He asked what everyone thought about a new Android app that lets customers make purchases quickly and easily. The service he used? It’s called Google+. The fledgling social network has garnered a lot of press. There are millions of active users and several high-profile business owners are generating buzz. Small businesses have a prime opportunity right now to connect with customers, promote your brand, and even find venture capital funding on the service.
“Because Google+ does not yet allow brand pages, you need to look at what you can do to expose your brand,” says Jesse Stay, who wrote the book Google+ for Dummies, out on Wiley Publishing in November. “Google+ is an opportunity for you to open the covers a little and expose what is happening inside. Get employees of your company using Google+ and representing themselves as such.”
Stay says he used Google+ himself while writing the book. He posted sample chapters to elicit feedback. Stay recommends posting nuggets about your business and interesting news stories to engage potential customers. He says, the more you show customers that you are a legitimate company made up of real people, the better. He recommends hiring a community manager tasked with this charter.
Ryan Evans, the president of marketing company Rand Media Group, agrees: the trick is to create your own cult of personality and garner followers. Attracting followers means increasing awareness about your company and every click counts.
The question is: how do you accomplish that goal? Evans says to start with those you know already. Google+ lets you import your existing contacts easily from Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and other services. You can also import your Outlook contacts.
Then he says to organize contacts into Circles, the Google+ system for grouping contacts. When people are in Circles, you can post a message to all business partners, or to venture capitalists, or just one or two social networking gurus. Facebook uses a similar group post function, but it’s more complicated.
Evans says one critical step is to not just feed information into the service, but to engage with other entrepreneurs. This means commenting on their posts, tagging them in photos (maybe at your last business meet-up), and using the +1 feature, which is the Google equivalent of a “like” (e.g., public approval) in Facebook.
Going the extra mile
Google+ is a powerful service, but the hype has settled down. Now, entrepreneurs are trying to figure out how to get more value out of the social network. We’ve covered the basics – adding people into Circles, posting regularly. Yet, the experts say there are some proven methods for promoting a brand.
Adam Kmiec is the director of social media at Walgreens, the drug store retailer. Kmiec is a big fan of Google+, and Walgreens – along with Ford and a few others – is one of the few business entities with an approved corporate page.
Kmiec has found that the secret is not always in the sheer number of followers, but the quality of those who are following you. Your engagement level is critical: when you post a news story about your market segment, you want your followers to comment and engage with you, not just read the link. Like Michael Dell, every entrepreneur should illicit feedback and keep comments flowing. Kmiec says it’s critical to keep momentum going, not just post once in a while.
Eventually, Google will offer business pages for every company. (Google+ is currently in a private test for a few select business pages; in the next month or so, everyone will have the opportunity to create a business profile.)
For now, the secret is to be yourself. David Amerland is a search optimization expert, speaker, and book author. He says that customers can sniff out marketing ploys with a snap of their finger and quickly move on to the next post. Instead, Amerland says Google+ presents a gold opportunity for new companies because the service itself is so new – everyone expects you to make introductions.
“Do not market too hard, since Google+ really frowns upon this right now, but go about introducing the company and what it does, why it is there and who you are,” he says. “When you post content online, it has to have some real meaning.”
Amerland cited as example of a law firm that posted a question about what potential clients feel constitutes good service from a law firm. That triggered about 100 comments, which has the dual-purpose of providing valuable feedback and also helped the law firm find out who is participating in their discussions. Of course, it’s also important to “close the loop” on these discussions and start talking one-on-one with those who are taking the time to post comments on posts.
Scott Rayden, the founder of iSearch Media, agrees that Google+ presents a prime opportunity for start-ups. He says people are still flocking to the service to check out what is new and interesting, and entrepreneurs are filling the void by posting the most interesting links and stories.
Rayden advises to engage now on the service and to be ready for when Google+ does open up business pages in the next few weeks, and to be one of the first to create a company page, bringing along those who are already following your activities.
Interestingly, Amerland says this is already the model businesses should use in real life: to make social connections in person, not in a fake way or for marketing, but out of a real interest in existing social circles. Then, once those real connections have formed, people will be ready to become customers of your new business.
In the end, every social network helps. Kmiec says every new company should claim their “place” on every major network – on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and Google+ and even Tumblr and older nets like Bebo. The more the better.
He says, customers should be able to find your company on multiple networks. Engaging with them, posting interesting news, and following up on comments will help any business to start creating a valuable online presence.
15 tips for increasing your brand on Google+
For those new to the Google+ service, here are 15 tips you can put into practice right away, based on the advice from experts, to increase brand awareness.
1. Use your real name when you register – this creates an authentic presence on the service; investors can look you up by name, and customers want to know it’s really you. Later on, you can create a business page that’s less personal.
2. Create Google+ Circles in a logical fashion: business partners, employees, friends, investors. That way, as you start using the service, you can keep people organized. You can then choose only a select group to view a new post.
3. Engage with other business professionals in an authentic way – read what they post, make comments, and follow their links. When you follow links, comment on them so that everyone knows you read the article.
4. Post occasional coupons and specials – that way, you can see if people are engaging with your posts. Be careful about how often you post specials or you may raise the ire of the Google+ team, who discourages blatant promotion.
5. Send private messages to people who look interesting. You can just type the message, then remove the Public circle and just add one name.
6. Check your notifications on the upper right side of the screen – just look for the red notification alert. You can see who is following you, any new comments, and whether those you follow are following you back.
7. Don’t stop using Facebook. There is a lot of cross-pollination between the social networks. When you follow someone on Facebook or they follow you, check Google+ to see if they are using that service and follow them there.
8. Go ahead and think big. When Michael Dell makes a post, feel free to post a comment and see if he replies. You can even send direct post.
9. Don’t be afraid of negative attention. Posting a counter-argument, especially when it is something you feel strongly about, can generate some buzz. When you do, be ready to support your position with facts and well-developed opinions.
10. Make sure you have entered detailed information about yourself and add some humor. There’s a section in your profile for adding something unique about yourself. Include a recent photo that’s bright and colorful.
11. Use the Sparks feature to track trending topics. Just click Sparks and add a search term. Track these topics and re-post the most engaging stories.
12. Make use of the +1 feature that is now cropping up at many Web sites, including Inc.com. When you see a story you like, click +1 so that everyone knows you read the story and liked it. This increases engagement with like-minded users.
13. Try holding your own Hangout – a feature where you talk in a video chat about a specific topic. Pick a topic that is related to your business – if you run an ice cream shop, try holding a Hangout on the cost of supplies or retail trends.
14. Set aside Google+ time each day – make comments and post new entries, but also search for people to follow. When someone follows you, it’s polite to send a quick thank-you to acknowledge their interest.
15. Stay focused on the task at hand, which is to increase brand awareness. It takes time. You might not see engagement levels rise in just one day or a week, but track how many people comment on your posts over a month.
Any other tips for how to use Google+? Share them in the comments section below.
John Brandon is a tech contributor at Inc. magazine and Inc. Technology. Before starting his writing career, he led a design and writing team at a large consumer electronics retailer. You can follow his tweets at twitter.com/jmbrandonbb. He lives outside of Minneapolis.