Looking into the Crystal Ball – Marketing Trends 2015 [Infographic]

So, a new year is upon us and we have decided to look into the crystal ball and predict what some of the big marketing trends for 2015 will be. We will spend some time to explore each of these in more detail in future posts, but for now here is a quick overview of what we think is coming in 2015. We’d love your comments, so feel free to add them below.

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Lead Generation Tips [Video]

Watch this video to learn a few quick lead generation tips you can put to work in your business. We especially like #7! Watch and enjoy and put at least one of these to work for your business today.

Narrow Your Focus to Broaden Your Sales

narrow-focusOne of the biggest mistakes a small business owner can make is to cast too wide a net when it comes to who they will serve and the products and services they offer. It might seem counter-intuitive to narrow your focus to make more sales, but when you have a small business it’s the best way to earn more money with less effort.

There is always someone out there who is able to charge less money. In that case, don’t compete on price. Instead, narrow your niche and compete on specialization. Show your market how special your product or service is compared to your nearest competition. Make sure that you stand out from the rest by not competing on their level but on yours.

Facts about niche markets:

Niche Markets Have Fewer Customers – This seems like an obvious statement but it should be stated again, because when you have fewer customers you need to differentiate in a new way. By choosing a narrow niche market, you’ll focus on quality or even quirkiness over price.

Niche Markets are Less Price Sensitive – Due to the fact that fewer businesses are willing to serve smaller markets, they are often less price sensitive due to lower competition for their business. So the customer is more impressed by how you are different than your price.

Market Expansion Means Creating New Products or Services – One issue with a narrow focus is that you’ll need to find new ways to make more sales. Usually, this will be in the form of new products and/or services created just for your niche, such as education, more personalized services, continuity programs and more.

Staying Successful Means Always Improving over Competitors – With a narrow focus you can really get to know not only your customers but also your competition, and continue to improve the value you offer your audience without lowering your price.

You’ll Need to Build Relationships with Customers – When dealing with a smaller niche, you want to bring your customers into your circle and make them part of your family. You want to get to know them very well and let them get to know you. Building relationships is an essential component of increasing sales within a niche market.

Narrowing Your Niche Enables You to Focus Your Talents – The more specialized you become, the more you can be seen as an expert by your audience and in truth the more of an actual expert you will become. You’ll become a lot freer to do the kind of work that you need to do to perfect your craft.

Narrowing Your Niche Gives You a Competitive Advantage – By working with a very small, focused, and narrow niche, you’ll have an advantage over other businesses owners who don’t understand the power of focus.

You’ll Get More Referrals and Recommendations – Due to having a smaller market your audience will become a lot like fans and cheerleaders, recommending and referring you to their friends and colleagues who are likely to also be members of your niche.

Finally, the way to narrow your niche market is to choose a market in which you already have experience, talent, connections and an understanding of their needs. This won’t reduce your need to study the market and research the market, but it will give you a good starting point from which to develop the research.

If you need help defining your market niche, or any other essential marketing strategy please contact us or complete the Free Marketing Assessment, we would be happy to help.

5 Powerful Mindset Success Strategies 

mindsetBuilding a business is a fantastic and challenging experience. You can wake up exhilarated to begin your day and go to bed feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. The key to success is to maintain a positive, yes you can do it, mindset.

5 keys to help you create and sustain
a positive mindset

Easier said than done, right? Here are 5 keys to help you create and sustain a positive mindset so you attain the success you desire.

1. Surround yourself with successful and positive people. The influence people have over our own personal energy is amazing. Moods and attitudes are so easily spread – think about how much of a difference a simple smile from a stranger can make for your day and then magnify it 1000 times to demonstrate the power of positive and successful friends, family and associates. When you have people around you who inspire you, believe in you and want you to succeed, there’s no room for doubts and even when they creep up, they’re quickly swept away.

2. Create a mantra or an affirmation. Repeating positive affirmations has been shown to get people through tough times and to actually help them truly believe what they’re saying.

For example, “I am building a powerful and profitable business.” Many of the most esteemed business professionals have used the same affirmation strategy to attain their success. To find the right affirmations for you, consider writing a quick list of your doubts, insecurities and complaints. These can then be quickly turned into affirmations.

For example, if you write that you’re always feeling disorganized then your affirmation would be, “I am organized and in control.” Repeat your affirmations several times a day and feel the power of positive thinking.

3. Capture negative thoughts. We all have negative thoughts from time to time, however, negative thoughts and emotions can derail us and prevent us from achieving all we desire. Of course catching those negative thoughts takes practice and persistence. When you find yourself thinking negative thoughts or having negative emotions, find a trigger to turn them around. The affirmations mentioned above are a great way to turn the negative into the positive. You can also find quick pick me ups like a favorite song, a walk outside in the fresh air, or some exercise to help improve your mood.

4. Set goals/intentions and then be willing to let it go. The law of attraction says that we attract what we focus on the most. However, desperation, needing your business to be a success, sends mixed messages and a lot of negativity into the universe. Set your goals and intentions and then let them go. A certain amount of faith in yourself and in the power of attraction is necessary. Give it a try.

5. Be grateful. Gratitude is perhaps the single most powerful and positive tool for success. When you’re grateful for all of the wonderful things and people in your life the challenges you face seem significantly less important and are more easily dealt with.

Consider keeping a gratitude journal and make a practice of entering into it daily. That way, when you’re facing challenges a quick peek at all the amazing things in your life will make you feel as if you can tackle anything. Additionally, an attitude of gratitude helps you maintain a positive perspective and to face challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles.

Success is within your reach and with the right mindset you can accomplish anything you set your sights on. Embrace these five powerful mind success strategies and you’ll build a better business and live a happier, more satisfying life.

What Your USP Really Means to You and Your Customers

Crafting your unique selling proposition (USP) is an important component in running a long-term, successful business. The process of creating and writing down your beliefs and values, and aligning them with your goals and strategy, will help you to create an action plan for success. If you don’t understand why you do something, and you can’t explain why to others, it will be difficult to create either products or materials to market the products.

The USP Helps Small Businesses Differentiate

If you have a small business, you won’t be able to compete on the things larger businesses often compete on, such as price. Instead, you’ll need to focus on one thing that you stand for that is different from your competition so that you can take some of the market from the big guys. You can do it if you focus on sub-audiences rather than the larger audience.

The USP Helps a Small Business Narrow Their Niche

For instance if you provide content to small business owners, narrow down what type of content you provide and to which small business owners. “Small Business Owners” is too large of an audience. Instead, perhaps you want to write content for life coaches who focus on helping 40-plus-year-old people get new jobs?

The USP Helps Small Businesses Focus

That’s your audience, so your value proposition needs to be discovered next. Understanding that will also help you market to your customers in a way that separates you from the competition. Perhaps your competition focuses on inexpensive or even cheap content. You will focus instead of writing well-researched content delivered on time, every time. In this way you are not competing on price; you’re competing on quality.

What Your USP Means for You

With a well thought out USP, you can decide exactly what you want and plan how you’re going to get it. It can assist with seeking appropriate feedback, and gives you a direction for taking action to reach your goals. A good USP can even help you work on changing your approach until you succeed because you know what makes you stand out.

What Your USP Means for Your Customer

A well thought out USP helps your customers understand what value you bring to the table and how you’re different from the competition. It tells your customer why they should buy from you instead of someone else. It provides a promise to them from you about your products or services that differentiates you from the others.

Creating a USP is going to put you at a competitive advantage because it will help direct your actions today and tomorrow, as well as succinctly inform your customers about important information that will help them make a choice to purchase your goods or services.

[Infographic] B2B Content Marketing Trends for 2015

MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute partnered again this year to bring you the latest B2B content marketing industry survey. The fifth annual study includes findings from 1,820 North American B2B marketers and presents benchmarks, budgets and trends for the coming year.

According to the study, the secret to content marketing success is to document your content strategy and stick to it. It also uncovered that content marketers are creating more and more content but they still struggle to track ROI, especially when they don’t document their strategy. You can read the full report for all the detailed findings.

Uberflip created an infographic to highlight some of the key elements and help you digest the 40 page report in a glimpse. Here are a few of the key takeaways:

• If you want to be an effective content marketer, you need a documented strategy (not just a verbal one!)
• 70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than a year ago.
• Only 21% of content marketers say they’re successful at tracking ROI.
• As far as marketing tactics go, Infographics had the greatest increase in usage from 51% to 62%.
• LinkedIn is the most popular (and most effective) social media channel for B2B marketers.
• In person events are the most effective tactics for B2B marketers.
• More than half of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget in 2015.

B2B Content Marketing Trends for 2015

How’s Your Vision?

visionEvery business needs a vision. A vision is like the big daydream you have in the middle of the afternoon after paying all your bills. It’s about sitting on the balcony of your beachside resort room watching the sunset while working from your laptop. It’s the fanciful but possible potential of your business dreams. It’s not going to happen today, but if you reach for the stars, and work toward it, it could happen.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

* What is your USP? – This is about your products and services now.
* What is in your mission statement? – This is about what you will do for your customers, how and why.
* What is your five-year vision – Where you will be, and how you’ll get there.

Use this information to figure out where you’ll be in five years from now or ten years from now. That is your business vision.

Example:

Acme VA Services will be the top grossing, premier virtual administrative providers in North America by providing reliable, consistent and knowledgeable administrative and author services to six-figure e-book authors.

Once you write a business vision, use it to take action, create a strategy, and formulate tactics to actually reach your vision. Use the vision to motivate yourself, employees and contractors. You know how they say to dress for the part you want? Well, it’s the same with your business vision. If you have the vision to be the top-selling Kindle e-book seller, then you need to act like you already are and do the things it takes to make it a reality.

Maybe money isn’t the most important thing to you. Maybe something else is important to you. If that’s the case, this should show up in your business vision as well. What’s right for one business might not be right for another. Perhaps you want to be able to donate millions of dollars to charity by giving away 10 percent of your profit each year. If that’s the case, and your dream, write it down.

Your vision can include dreams about:

* Finances – This could be about supporting yourself, your family, retirement or supporting employees, contractors, or a community.

* Reputation – This might be about the business’s reputation with customers, employees, contractors and other interested parties.

* Quality – Your vision could be to provide the best of whatever it is that you make.

* Value – You want to give your customers valuable information, products and services.

* Growth – You may plan to double your business in two years, quadruple in five and so forth.

* Passion – You show your customers how much you and your employees (contractors) love doing what it is that you do.

* Charity – You want to be able to donate to and help charities.

* Sustainability – You care about environmental issues or other long-term issues.

* Service Oriented – You care about doing service for others.

* Community Minded – You want to help your community, be it local or within your industry.

You can include any number of other issues that you find important within your business vision. Not everyone is in business only to make money. After all, this is about a vision that you have and it’s personal to you and it’s about your path in the world and with your business.

Five Tips for Creating a Positive First Impression

first-impressionWhether you work from home or work in an office, sometimes you have to conquer the dreaded business meeting. The best way to do well at any business meeting or event is to focus on creating a positive first impression.

1. Research the Audience

Every meeting usually has a specific audience that will go to that meeting. If it’s a more universal type meeting, research the people that you want to connect with. Know some facts about them and how they got their start. They’ll be impressed that you took the time to get to know them before meeting them.

2. Dress Appropriately

Find out what type of clothing people will be wearing to the meeting or event. The more you can fit in due to your mode of dress, the more people will remember you in a positive way. Dress for the position you want is a good refrain, but be careful about the “power” suit or appearing too high above your audience because you want them to remember you, not fear you.

3. Be First

When it comes time to introduce yourself, the person who puts their hand out first and states their name and gives their 30-second introduction is the person who holds the power in the meeting. You should also be first to introduce the person you just met to others as they approach. This makes you seem very important and people will remember you more due to your kindness.

4. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Most people are a little nervous at events or meetings but if you ask each person you meet open-ended questions about themselves and their business, they will be put at ease. And oddly, the more people get to talk about themselves, the more they will remember you. An open-ended question is one that must be answered with a sentence instead of a yes or no answer.

5. Listen Actively

As you meet people and ask those questions, truly listen for their answers. Repeat back to them their name and the things they say in your own words, then ask them good follow-up questions. This will make you seem like the most interesting person at the meeting or event because you are actually listening. And as you repeat things back to the person you’re conversing with, it will also help you remember more about each person that you connect with.

One final way to create a positive first impression is by what happens after the meeting. Always follow up with those whom you met. Use the information on the business cards you collected, or find them online, and connect with them in a new way. Send them a thank you card, or cut out an article and send it to them, or find a creative way to connect with them outside of the meeting. This will make you a truly memorable connection for them.

What Do You Sell?

Guest Post by John Jantsch

This title seems like a simple enough question, no trick to it really.

If you sell insurance, you sell a piece of paper
If you sell remodeling, you sell boards, drywall and paint
If you sell tax preparation, your sell a big fat envelope full of filled out forms
If you sell automobiles, you sell four wheels, metal and a way to get around

It’s hard to argue with any of these assertions isn’t it. I mean, that’s what you sell – but that’s not the point is it?

What you really sell is – what the buyer believes that are getting when they buy your product or service. Stop selling what you sell and start selling what people want to buy.

Funny thing is – many small business owners don’t even know what that is. And, it’s the most important thing there is to know. Stop thinking in terms of what you sell and start thinking in terms of what your clients buy or think they buy.

If you sell insurance, maybe they buy a feeling of responsibility or company stability
If you sell remodeling, maybe they buy the feeling they get when friends drop by or knowing that their family routine won’t be too screwed up
If you sell tax preparation, maybe they buy peace of mind or a refund
If you sell automobiles, maybe they buy that sideways glance at the stoplight or knowing their teenage daughter will make it home safe at night

Figure out what your prospects buy, not what they should buy, what they do buy and start communicating that in your marketing message to them.

 

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer; Sell Like a Superstar and Duct Tape Marketing: The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine (Portfolio: May 15, 2014). He is the founder of Duct Tape Marketing.

 

You have a marketing plan, right?

marketing plan

The year is almost over, and often it causes us to pause and reflect on our performance in the past year – Was it a banner year for you and your business? Was it just okay? Do you wish to never see 2014 again? Whatever the case, it doesn’t have to repeat itself in 2015. If you are unhappy with the results of the previous year, it doesn’t have to be the same old results from the same old actions for the new year.  In fact, it should be the very opposite of that. As Winston Churchill said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”  If you haven’t set up a plan for success in 2015, how will you ever achieve it?  Don’t leave it to luck…Instead, now – yes today – is the perfect day to do it!

When it comes to marketing, the reason people shy away is usually because they misunderstand what it is, and they often underestimate its importance.  They have been led down the wrong path for way too long. To understand what marketing is, we have to first start with what marketing is not. Marketing is not a wish list or a set of objectives. It’s not a list of goals or a mission statement. A marketing plan is a clear explanation of how you are going to get where you want to go. It’s really as simple as that. Yes, a lot of those previously mentioned factors come into play after you have the marketing plan in place, but those factors are just factors, not the plan itself.

Your marketing plan should be unique to your business, and as such, it should stand apart from other plans.  In order to figure out your own unique marketing plan, you have to ask some key questions to drive your strategy.  Here are a few of those questions you need to ask when developing your marketing plan:

Who should me business appeal to?

This is the primary element – the who. You have to develop your plan around a narrowly-defined ideal client first and foremost.

How can I be different?

In this case, being different is not only good, but it is preferred. You have to find ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of your marketplace.  If you don’t, people will default to comparing you on price alone.

Are you connecting the dots?

The final step in creating a marketing plan takes what you have already created from the first two questions (how you are different and who your business appeals to), and turn it into a stated action plan.

Let me come back to Winston Churchill’s statement once again, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”  Hoping the right type of people come knocking on your door for your service or product is just that – failing to plan. You need to take the time to create a plan that will not only help you succeed, but help your business thrive in 2015.

If you need help setting up your marketing plan please contact us.  We will help you with resources and coaching you need to make your plan a reality.