Jump-start your 2013 marketing efforts with a business Video

If you have not explored adding video to your marketing strategy for your business you are missing a great opportunity to increase awareness of your business.

YouTube has become the number 2 (two) Internet search engine after Google, and it’s become clear that businesses that aren’t using online video to market their firm are at a competitive disadvantage. As you explore your options there are some key strategic points and best practices to remember and leverage as you integrate video into your business marketing strategy.

While you are Planning your strategy, before implementing the effort, remember these Best Practices for your business Video:

1. Identify existing content to reuse in your online video

  • Is the supporting material you have available for the video a fit for a visual presentation about your business?
  • Does your product or feature support a focus on training, product/service demonstration, or just a “business story”?
  • Do you have key members of your firm who are “thought leaders” in your marketplace who can present your business well and keep the attention of the target audience?

2. Plan the right type of video that will support your business strategy

  • What are the expectations of your targeted audience?
  • How do customers interact with your brand?
  • Are the benefits of your product or service easily defined?
  • Is your product or service heavily detailed and complex?

3. Build a script or “story” for your business video using existing content

  • What is your brand’s personality?
  • Can your product or service be described in plain language (avoiding industry acronyms)?
  • Can you turn your message into a story the potential customer can understand?

4. Match your existing marketing message and brand positioning so the video supports your business plan

  • What kind of environment best showcases your brand, product or service? (i.e.: corporate, food, retail, manufacturing, entertainment, etc.)
  • b. Does your presentation require multiple locations? (i.e., should you show a product/service development setting, a sales setting, a business case example, etc.)
  • Can your product/service be shown in a recommended use by an existing client?

5. Find opportunities to use your video content as a “live brochure”

  • What web/social media type do your potential customers use to interact with your business?
  • Does your video marketing material offer a learning opportunity or position you as a thought leader?
  • Can you leverage your video message to offer value to customer which will generate leads?

6. Are you planning on creating the business video “in-house”? Have you considered using a professional to create your business video – remember this is your brand!

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Closing out 2012 and get a fast start to 2013!

Have you reviewed your business results for 2012?

  • Are you satisfied?
  • Have you developed your plans for 2013 yet? 

Now is the time to get started!

 

Defining Success in Your Business

  • Business success is not only when you employ more people than your competition.
  • Business success is when you have more time for your family.
  • Business success is when you make more money for yourself
  • Business success is when you enjoy getting up and going to work.
  • Business success is when you and your family are financially independent.
  • Business success is when you can sleep at night without financial worries.

 

Poor Management Leads to Poor Business Results

Research shows that poorly performing companies often suffer poor and/or weak management.

That’s not a surprising statement. A February 2012 report by Chartered Institute of Management, found that in low performing businesses, just 39% of 4,500 survey respondents stated that management within the firm was effective. In high performing businesses, the figure was 80%!

 

Delegation

An effective manager lets their employees do  the job they were hired for – thye do not do the job for them. Delegation is a key to your success and some key points to remember:

• Stress results – not details. Make it clear to your employees that you are more concerned about the final outcome of all projects rather than the day-to-day details that accompany them.

• Don’t take the “easy rout out” by giving solutions to your employees’ problems. When employees come to you with problems, they’re probably looking for you to solve them. Do teach them how to solve problems themselves. This, too, can be frustrating because it takes time. But, in the long run, you’ll save yourself time and money.

• Turn the questions around. If an employee comes to you with a problem ask him or her for possible solutions. If an employee comes to you with a question, ask for possible answers.

• Establish measurable and concrete objectives. With all employees, make your objectives dear and specific. Once this is done, employees will feel comfortable acting on their own. Think of this plan as a road map and your employees will too.

 

Improve your productivity and you will improve your business

Some key areas to that you can improve:

• Lack of priorities. Your to-do list is useless if you don’t know what to tackle first. Employees should be encouraged to talk with thier supervisor to identify what’s really important. If you’re the person in charge, devote some time to deciding which tasks add the most value to your organization so you don’t waste time on non-essentials.

• Procrastination. Time disappears quickly when you put off necessary tasks. Try breaking them down into small segments so they’re easier to get started on — especially for large-scale projects which can intimidate many people into delaying action. Schedule unpleasant tasks early so you can get them out of the way and focus on other jobs.

• Interruptions. You can’t shut yourself off completely from customers, co-workers, and your boss, but you can minimize time-wasting interruptions. Close your door if you have one; if not, hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your desk/cubicle, or wear some headphones that block noise. Let people know that you need to concentrate, but that you’re available in case of legitimate emergencies.

 

Get started – now – and you can help make 2013 a success!

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Home-based office strategy

A home-based office deployment, for any sized business, requires a plan to be successful. The issues are similar whether you are an independent owner or manage a team of employees as distractions, time-management, communication and availability to your team and/or client can all impact your ability to manage your business efficiently.

A few tips to consider for implementing a remote working environment include:

1. Working from home is a coveted perk among almost all employees.
Whether your staff is made up of only you or a team of commuters suffering long hours in traffic, working from home can have an appeal to just about everyone. It can even be used as s motivational tool. In a research document by Microsoft Small Business Resources, 72 per cent of employees say they prefer working from home— and 52 per cent claim they’re actually more productive working there.

2. Working from home saves your company money.
Many small businesses worry that having remote workers will cost them time, productivity, and even money. In reality, a study conducted by The Telework Coalition shows that businesses can save an average of $20,000 annually for each full-time remote employee. These results are a reason you must explore this option for our business

3. Working from home increases productivity.
Employees aren’t imagining things when they say working from home improves their productivity. The Telework Coalition research shows the average business incorporating remote workers saw employee productivity rise 22 percent.

4. Creating a remote work policy will require thought and planning.
When you’re ready to give it a try, follow these steps:
a) Develop a plan.

b) Decide who will be eligible

  • Will certain employees work from home full-time?
  • Will others have the option to do so part-time?
  • Are certain positions, days or hours “off limits” for working at home?
  • Do employees need to meet certain criteria or hit certain performance targets before they earn the privilege?
  • Document a formal process and publish it. It must clearly define your remote worker policy and how you handle situations

5. Use the right tools.
You and/or your team probably have much of the technology they need to work at home, but if not, ensure they have what they need. This could mean Smartphone’s, headsets or inexpensive webcams. Also make sure everyone’s email systems, voice messaging, and internal instant messaging services (IM) work efficiently and you establish a policy for user supplied equipment. These are vital communication tools to operate your business

6. Explore free or low-cost online options.
With the prevalence of “cloud” and web-based software tools, there are more options than ever for working in teams online. Explore collaboration tools like Google Docs, project management options like BaseCamp, and Skype for conference calls and videoconferencing.

7. Communicate.
Miscommunications and misunderstandings can happen more easily and more often when people aren’t under the same roof. It is critical that you establish guidelines for how people should communicate. The use of tools like IM to stay in the constant contact, yet you or your employee need know when it’s required to get offline and pick up the phone.

8. Trust, but verify.
The trust issue is huge when you’re letting employees work sight unseen. The best way to ensure employees are doing what they say they’re doing is to monitor results. Set specific goals, timelines and benchmarks, and if they aren’t met, have a talk with that person to find the source of the problem.

If you have an issue and require verification, there’s software that lets you monitor employees’ emails, keystrokes and Web surfing or screen-capture their computer activity. You may desire to establish a specific time for the employees to check-in with you.

It is essential to get facilitate face time with remote workers to develop a team concept. If your staff only works from home a few times a week, you may want to set one day each week when everyone has to be in the office. If everyone works remotely, consider meeting once or twice a month. Encourage employees to get together informally as this helps develop a team concept and shared learning time.

Follow these key steps and you will have a manageable home-based office that will be able to support your plans for your business

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Tips to increase the profitability in your business

Remember that it costs a lot more to acquire new customers than to retain the ones you’ve got. Winning new customers while retaining your existing customers is one of the most challenging aspects of running a business, but there are many ways to go about it.

1) Deliver on all your promises
Develop an environment that shows you are “easy to do business with”, that you can handle complaints, and that you mean what you say. Remember, it’s important to deliver on all your promises. Unhappy customers not only do not purchase again, most will share that bad experience with others!

2) Build Trust
This is a key point for your business! If you do not earn the trust of your existing and new customers you will not have a sustainable business.
a) Do your research and understand who your customers are. With thorough research will help you prepare, identify potential issues, and it will also help you decide whether a certain customer is worth the attention
b) Choose your customers carefully. Learn to walk away and “say no”. Remember, a problem customer could cause major issues for your business such as lengthy payment periods, public complaints about your firm, and/or not being paid!
c) Find out who makes the buying decisions and focus your attention on them. Do not allow time-wasters to impact your business; concentrate on those individuals with influence

3) Develop your marketing programs to support your business
When you know the demographics of your targeted customer your can develop your marketing plans. Identify what channels to use to reach your customers.
a) Decide what your marketing tools will be (print, electronic, personal networking)
b) Ensure they support your budget
c) Be clear on what makes you different in all of your marketing

4) Preparation
You can never prepare enough. Before going to visit your customer, attend a meeting, or call them on the phone, ensure that you are 100% prepared.
Research their history and anticipate any problems that may arise. Address the questions that will be thrown at you so you can handle any objections. Remember, that preparation will help you prepare a prevention plan which can work better than a time-consuming business cure for an unhappy customer and help you retain them while you address the business issue.

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2011 Baldrige Award applicants and 2012 Award Process

On September 8, the Judges Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award reviewed data on all 2011 Baldrige Award applicants and selected 11 to move on to Site Visit Review. Of the 2011 Baldrige Award applicants the 69 applicants included:

  • 1 of the 2 small businesses
  • 6 of the 40 in health care
  • 1 of the 8 in education
  • 3 of the 14 nonprofits
  • No manufacturing or service organizations received site visits.

The site visits took place October 9-15 for health care organizations and October 16-22 for education organizations, small businesses, and nonprofits. The judges will meet November 14-18 to determine which of these organizations to recommend to U.S. Secretary of Commerce John E. Bryson as 2011 Baldrige Award recipients, and the recipients will be announced shortly after that.

Starting on November 1, the 2012 Baldrige Award Application Forms will be available on the Baldrige Web site (http://www.nist.gov/baldrige/publications/award_application.cfm) You can get additional information at http://www.nist.gov/baldrige/ of you can email: baldrige@nist.gov for additional information about the program

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With the ecconomy..Is it Time to Adjust Your Price?

Is your business operating at peak efficiency? Is your revenue down?

Is your pricing strategy efficient?

Rock bottom prices can “jumpstart” sales, but more often than not, they prevent a business from sustaining profitability. If you are caught between passing costs along to your customers or watching your profits fall and putting your business at risk, it’s time to take a hard look at your costs and your pricing structure. To make an informed decision, examine management, your fixed and variable costs, the marketplace, the quality of your products and services, and your value proposition.

Manage efficiently.

Raising prices is not the only way to increase profitability. Consider operational management improvements that may boost the bottom line immediately and provide long-term profitability to your business.

Examine your business operations and look for inaccurate billing and time keeping, high accounts receivable, workflow bottlenecks, high employee turnover, poor cash flow predictions, and other indicators. Every one of these will negatively impact your business.

Calculate your fixed and variable costs.

Know your costs and price accordingly. The price of your products or services must reflect a realistic calculation of your costs. The cost of everything from rent to energy has climbed significantly. If your costs have gone up but prices have not, you’re working just as hard for less money. Examine the costs of labor and overhead and make sure your pricing reflects today’s reality. What margin do you need in order to make money?

Research – a must!

You may not have to increase all your prices. Be judicious in your choices. Compare yourself to your competitors. How do your prices stack up against their prices? If yours are significantly lower for a product or service of comparable value, make an adjustment.

Develop your selling proposition and how your brand is seen.

What differentiates you from your competitors? Add value. Always. Point out the advantages of your services, your products. Be prepared to point out the advantages of your services and products to justify an increase in price.

Raise your prices?

Price increases are a fact of life, a legitimate response to increases in costs or innovations in quality. Reasonable customers will understand. Depending on the nature of your business and your relationships with certain customers, you may want to provide advanced notice of a price increase. If you do notify them in advance, explain the reasons for the change.

Plan to Market the new price and your brand quality

Remember, there’s always someone cheaper. Clients looking for lower prices can find them. Remind clients that they cannot find the same level of quality, service, and dependability elsewhere at your price.

If increased costs or improvements in quality justify a price increase for your business – do it. Chances are that it will be more significant to you than to customers.

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Practice and preparation help you make the “sale”

PREPARATION is the key to making a successful business and is especially true for developing your presentation skills. Preparation for a presentation involves knowing as much about your customers/clients/audience as you can and how your products or services can fill a need.

Listen and learn

Before you begin, have a clear objective in mind and find out all you can about your potential audience. Ask as many questions as possible, as you should investigate what influences their business in as much detail as possible.

Ensure that your potential customers are also aware of your objective – this means you will be talking to the right people, such as the key decision-makers.

Gain their Attention

Get the attention of your audience and/or client. Grabbing people’s interest from the start should be your priority, whether you are presenting to a group, face-to-face or via electronic media. You need to get attention from the start, for example by asking: ‘Are you interested in making more money?’ It is harder to get people to listen unless you get the benefit across and grab their attention.

Establish the Need

Once you have got your audiences attention, you should then establish a need, which should reflect the research you have carried out on them. You need to be aware of factors that influence their buying behavior, such as price, time-lines, and issues. You should consider what would attract your potential customer to your service/product and then decide how you can get this message across in not more than 60 seconds.

Selling your Service/Product

Once you’ve established the need, it’s then time to sell the service/product. You do this by identify the unique selling points of your product or service and emphasize why you are better than your competitors.

Remember to use good body language and make sure you look the part –— invest money in yourself and dress as a senior professional. It is also critical for success to maintain good eye contact and ensure that your message is delivered as a discussion, with interaction from both sides, rather than a one-way speech.

Be friendly! Most people “buy” from people they like and whom they feel they can build a relationship with. Your client needs to feel that you understand their issues and your service/product will help resolve the business issue.

Listen and look for ‘buying signals’

It can be all too easy to get so involved in your presentation that you miss picking up on signals that your potential customer is interested and willing to find out more.  Try not to oversell your product, and try doing a ‘test close’, by using questions such as ‘How does this sound’, and ‘What do you think of that?’

Practice

Unlike the ex-guard from the Philadelphia Sixers (Pro basketball) “Practice – Practice – Practice” is critical to developing a sustainable and successful business.

  • Practice your presentation on friends and family and ask them to give you feedback.
  • Practice your “asking for the sale” and get feedback on how you did!
  • Practice again after making changes

Practice and preparation make a successful Presentation and will help you close more business

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