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3 Easy Ways to Get Attention on Twitter

3 Easy Ways to Get Attention on Twitter


It might seem intimidating to communicate a message in 140 characters, especially for those getting started with Twitter. That’s completely understandable. After all, no one likes their thought to be cut short.
But it doesn’t have to be difficult for you to successfully use Twitter for your business. Here are three easy to implement ideas that will make your tweets sing and help you get the attention you deserve.
1. Imitate the pros
Not sure what to say in so few words? If you’re having trouble, check out some headlines from your favorite magazine, newspaper, or news website. Great headlines pique reader interest, get right to the point, and leave readers wanting more—that’s what your tweet should do too!
Simply follow the headline formulas the pros use by swapping out their topics for yours.
2.  Engage with your followers
Even in the realm of social media, the golden rule still applies. What does that mean? If you want your followers to pay attention to you, you have to pay attention to them too!
Following your customers, starting a conversation, and even retweeting their posts can go a long way. Showing you’re listening and interested in what they have to say is a compliment too big to ignore! These interactions increase the likelihood of your followers paying attention when you tweet.
If you see a tweet about your business respond when appropriate. Talking with your followers shows that you care what they think and are open to conversation.
3. Don’t take Twitter too #seriously
As important as it is to keep customers updated and engaged, they’re also looking to be entertained. More than any other social media, Twitter encourages a sharp biting wit and a healthy dose of humor. Don’t shy away from tweets that show off some quirky personality.

If witty or funny aren’t your things, don’t worry! What’s most important is that your tweets have a point of view. Share what rings true to you. If you run an art gallery, spruce up your feed with some Van Gogh quotes. Designer boutiques might want to keep their followers up-to-date on trends by linking to recent fashion articles. Whatever you decide your approach should be, don’t feel like you have to be about all business all the time.
Don’t let Twitter stress you out. Keeping your followers up-to-date is half the battle; letting them get to know you is just as important. So just follow the tips above and you’ll find your followers paying attention and making it worth for it you to invest your time, energy, and voice to Twitter.
Gina Watkins is a leading expert on e-marketing for small business – and has a real passion for helping businesses to succeed. Her ongoing series of dynamic lectures are filled with real-world examples, humor and results-driven wisdom garnered from more than two decades of sales, business development and marketing experience. In addition to owning her own business, she is an award-winning direct marketer, has been featured on WUSA Channel 9's Mind Over Money show, Dr. Gayle Carson’s Women In Business radio show, Morgan State’s Briefcase Radio program, and in numerous other media. In her role as Constant Contact Regional Development Director, she’s presented to more than ten thousand seminar attendees about the keys to success with easy, affordable, highly effective technology tools that grow trusted business relationships.

Create a 2013 Email Marketing Plan

Create a 2013 Email Marketing Plan

There in no better time than the beginning of a year to get strategic about your marketing efforts…and no better way to do it that by ceating a plan for the year ahead.


If you’re like most small business owners, email marketing is just one part of what you’re doing while running your business. By creating a plan now, you can make your life easier when trying to juggle everything that come along with running your business—filling orders, waiting on customers, and the million other things that demand your attention.


Think about your approach to email marketing. When you sit down to create an email, are you as prepared as you’d like to be? Do have a clear understanding of what you’re looking to achieve, how you’re going to achieve it, and how you’re going to measure your results?

Or are you—like a lot of small businesses—doing most the work last minute? Planning, brainstorming, designing, writing, creating, and sending emails at a single sitting without much preparation?

Having a plan can help you stay better organized throughout the year, while also helping you make better decisions about the type of content you create. Create a plan so you’ll have a resource to refer back to each month and improve the likelihood you’ll follow through. All it takes just a few easy steps:

Choose a goal

Start by understanding what it is you hope to achieve from your email marketing. Do you want people to shop online, come into the store, and share a sale with friends via Facebook or Twitter? There are a number of factors you’ll need to consider.

Start broad, why did you start using email marketing in the first place?

Then you can look at months individually—what will be your top priority in February? What is your biggest challenge in March? Start with your goal and let that guide your email marketing decisions.

Determine frequency

Once you’ve figured out what you hope to achieve, then you’ll be able to choose a frequency that’s right for your business.

How often should you be sending emails to your customers?

Once a monthis a good starting place, but pick a frequency you know you can stick to. If you decide to do more than you can handle, your plan won’t do you any good.

Pick a date

Figuring out when you’ll send an email each month sets expectations for yourself and your customers. It will also help you avoid missing any emails, which can often happen during busy times of the year. A great way to pick the right date for your email marketing is to look at your reports from past emails. Identify which days of the month had the most opens and which days had the most engagement from readers.

Put it together
While it may seem like a lot to consider, most of what will go into creating your email marketing plan is stuff you’re already thinking about each and every day. If it helps, you can start small. Plan out your next three emails and see if having a plan makes things easier. You’ll find yourself better prepared and with more time to spend doing what you enjoy most—running your business.


Gina Watkins is a leading expert on e-marketing for small business – and has a real passion for helping businesses to succeed. Her ongoing series of dynamic lectures are filled with real-world examples, humor and results-driven wisdom garnered from more than two decades of sales, business development and marketing experience. In addition to owning her own business, she is an award-winning direct marketer, has been featured on WUSA Channel 9's Mind Over Money show, Dr. Gayle Carson’s Women In Business radio show, Morgan State’s Briefcase Radio program, and in numerous other media. In her role as Constant Contact Regional Development Director, she’s presented to more than ten thousand seminar attendees about the keys to success with easy, affordable, highly effective technology tools that grow trusted business relationships.
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How To Shorten The Sales Cycle

How To Shorten The Sales Cycle

Eric Schechterman, Director of Sales, Benetrends

Definition: Closing the business as quickly as possible after 1st initial contact.
Whether you’re a hunter sales rep, a farmer sales rep, inside sales or outside sales, having the ability to control and at times shorten the sales process is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal.

Throughout my sales career, the most common obstacles and stalls that lengthen the sales process are: “Send me a proposal…….Call me tomorrow/next week/next month……I need to think about this more…...I really don’t have the time to do all of this right now……I need to check on my other options….. I need to check with my partner”

There are 5 areas to focus on that will help your control and shorten your sales process.
http://www.benetrends.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/sales-cycle.jpg
Those areas are: (1) Your confidence & mindset (2) Attempt to close business on the spot (3) Setting clear next steps (4) Creating urgency and (5) Asking the tough questions.

MINDSET in the sales process is your perception of how either the sales call will go or your perception of how long the sales process will be. Confidences in the sales process are your personal verbal and non-verbal communications as well as the self-assessed evaluation of your sales and closing ability. Areas that aid confidence & mindset are your voice inflection, non-verbal cues you portray during your process, your excitement, passion, and genuine interest in what you are presenting. And, your professionalism……your ability to be on-time, how you dress, and how you prepared for the call.

Think about this…….Have you ever seen a successful rep that’s not confident?

Can you CLOSE BUSINESS ON THE SPOT? YES! This must be the goal every time. You need to ask yourself “Have you earned the right to close the business?” Did you pre-call plan? Did you pinpoint the buyers buying motives/business objectives? Did you identify needs and present value to the buyer? Did you check to see if the buyer was on board with you through trial closing and believing in the concept?

Here’s a suggestion that might work………ASK FOR THE BUSINESS! Closing the sale should be anti-climatic and non-threatening. They know what you are trying to do……at the end of your presentation it just makes sense.
http://www.benetrends.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/short-sales.jpg


Now, if you are unable to close, be sure to SET CLEAR NEXT STEPS. This is crucial for shortening the sales cycle. If this is not done, then there is no time frame for a decision to be made. Assign the buyer a task to keep them involved in the process. For example, have them check the 3 references you gave them so it’s done by the time you come back for the 2nd meeting. Assign yourself multiple tasks to have done for the next meeting and set the appointment for the next call before you end the call. Do not let them tell you when the next call should be, you should take their feedback and set the expectation.

CREATING URGENCY in your buyer is the ability to keep interest high and bring the sales process to a close. In most cases, the longer the sales cycle goes the less chance you have in securing the business. It is important to always ask THE TOUGH QUESTIONS. Always get a “yes” or “no”, but never accept a “maybe”. Some sales professionals don’t want to know? Why? The feeling of “awkwardness” is sometimes a necessity and is good. We need to know where we stand.

Samples of tough questions
  • If the pricing makes sense, can we get this going today?
  • You have now checked out 3 companies, do I have your endorsement on selecting my company?
  • Mr. Buyer, I know this probably isn’t the case, but normally when people tell me they need to think about it, they are just trying to blow me off. What do you need to think about?
  • I could put together a proposal for you, but like I said, your price will be $XX. You are busy, so why don’t we just get you set up now.

When To Transition To AdWords Enhanced Campaigns

When To Transition To AdWords Enhanced Campaigns

In early February, Google announced a major change to how AdWords works with the the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns. I have gotten many questions about this so I’ll share my take on the change.

If you’re just starting with your own search ads in AdWords, you’ll now create just a single campaign and it will show your ads to users regardless of whether they’re using a tablet, mobile phone, or desktop computer. In Enhanced Campaigns you can make a few simple tweaks to ensure your ads are successful on all these devices:
 
      You can specify a bid multiplier so that bids for ads shown on mobile devices can be changed automatically across an entire campaign.
      You can specify that some of your ads are intended for mobile devices, for example ads that have a mobile landing page URL.
 

 
With this new campaign type, Google has made it easier for new advertisers to jump on the mobile bandwagon and to be successful by making mobile ads easier to manage.
 
For existing advertisers, the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns is a little more complicated. Here’s what you should know:
 
      All existing campaigns must be upgraded by mid-2013.
      If you had separate campaigns for mobile devices and desktop, you will need to consolidate these into a single campaign. You will be able to set a mobile bid multiplier at the campaign level but you will no longer have the ability to set mobile bids at the keyword level.
      Google considers tablets and desktops as the same thing so the bids and ads will be the same for these types of devices.
 
Losing keyword-level bid management controls for mobile devices is not great news but there are a couple of nice new things in Enhanced Campaigns that will benefit everyone:
 
      The ability to create and monitor Sitelinks individually rather than as groupings of multiple Sitelinks.
      The ability to set bid multipliers at the regional level so that you don’t need to create separate campaigns for different regions when all you want to do is manage bids differently. For example if you advertise the same product in NY and CA, now you can set separate bids for the two states without having to create a duplicate campaign.
 
So what’s the bottom line? If you have never run separate campaigns for mobile devices only, Enhanced Campaigns are a great change and the new bid controls and enhanced Sitelinks make it worthwhile to upgrade as soon as you can. On the other hand, if you have separate campaigns for mobile devices, I would wait at least 2-3 months before doing the transition so that you can learn from others who’ve gone through it and so that you can take some time to rethink your bid strategy.

Frederick (“Fred”) Vallaeys joined Google in 2002 to help AdWords grow into a leading online marketing platform and he served as the AdWords Evangelist until 2012. Now he runs his own marketing business,Top Tier, to make online marketing more accessible to small businesses through education, tools and services. He speaks at numerous events, including the annual ASBDC conference, helping companies get their business online and grow through online marketing and technology. Read Frederick’s online marketing blog, follow him on Twitter, Facebook orGoogle+.

Frederick on Google+

Why Having (and Growing) an Email Contact List Matters

Why Having (and Growing) an Email Contact List Matters


One of the most daunting tasks for small businesses getting started with email marketing is often tied to creating and growing a contact list  After all, getting started with email marketing is about a lot more than just creating and sending marketing emails. It’s about a fundamental shift in the way a business approaches its marketing. It’s about taking control of your message and delivering it to an audience of people who can make a measurable impact on your business’ bottom line.

 By creating and growing an email contact list, you’ll be able to take control of your message and communicate with your audience on your own terms. You’ll be giving the people who are actually interested in attending your events, buying your products, or signing up for services the ability to opt-in to receive information that’s relevant to them.
And because you know the information is getting delivered to a place these customers are going everyday—the inbox—you know your message is reaching your target audience.
That’s what growing your contact list can do for your small business. And that’s the best case for why small businesses should consider email marketing.
Why it’s important to keep growing your contact list
As your contact list grows, so too does the likelihood of your target audience receiving your message. You’re expanding to reach more people who can help your business grow by becoming repeat customers and spreading the word about your business.
Continuing to actively grow your contact list allows you to keep an ongoing cycle of customers, clients, and prospects opting in to receive information from you, which means more and more opportunities to be there when they need you and more chances to grow your business from the inbox and beyond.
A simple strategy for growing your list
Not sure where to start when growing your list? Consider this simple strategy.
Growing your list really breaks down to two things: covering your touch points and remembering to ask.
You want to make it easy for people to join your list and the best way to do that is by making your list available at all the places people are interacting with your business. Whether it’s on your website, Facebook Page, or blog; at your store, restaurant, or office; or at your events—covering your touch points will guarantee your audience will grow and won’t require much heavy lifting from you or your staff.
You also need to make asking people to share their email address, part of your regular routine. Most of the people who walk through your door, call your business, or connect with you on sites like Facebook or Twitter will be happy to hear more about your business—all you need to do is ask!
To encourage them even further, you can provide an additional incentive for signing up or simply tell that what type of content they’ll receive after their information is added to your list.
By taking this simple approach, you’ll be on your way to growing your contact list and opening your business up to new opportunities in the process.

Gina Watkins is a leading expert on e-marketing for small business – and has a real passion for helping businesses to succeed. Her ongoing series of dynamic lectures are filled with real-world examples, humor and results-driven wisdom garnered from more than two decades of sales, business development and marketing experience. In addition to owning her own business, she is an award-winning direct marketer, has been featured on WUSA Channel 9's Mind Over Money show, Dr. Gayle Carson’s Women In Business radio show, Morgan State’s Briefcase Radio program, and in numerous other media. In her role as Constant Contact Regional Development Director, she’s presented to more than ten thousand seminar attendees about the keys to success with easy, affordable, highly effective technology tools that grow trusted business relationships.
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Why Your Small Business Has the Motivational Edge

Why Your Small Business Has the Motivational Edge

Are you looking to hire employees this year, wondering how you can keep the employees you do have from heading off for greener pastures, or struggling for ways to keep them motivated?

Sometimes it seems like small businesses are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to hiring, motivation and retention, compared to big corporations that can offer higher salaries, posh benefits plans and luxurious settings. But a recent article by McKinsey (targeted, ironically, at big companies) points out the advantage small businesses have that they may not realize.

McKinsey looked at how business leaders can develop and encourage top performers in their workforce and found that, while both IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence) are important skills for bringing out the best in your team, what truly matters is the “meaning quotient” (MQ) – in other words, offering them the chance to do work that’s meaningful to them.

How can you create meaning at work?

McKinsey makes three recommendations that are far more easy and natural for a small business to implement than a big one:

Don’t Just focus on How a Person’s Work Benefits the Company

Focus on how it benefits four other elements:
Society as a whole.
The customer.
The work team and the individual worker.

When you drill down to the individual level, whether that’s the customer or themselves, employees become more motivated. In a smaller business, it’s easy to think in terms of smaller groups and units and to see how what you do on a daily basis affects those around you.

If Steve in fulfillment doesn’t pull his weight, Cindy in shipping suffers for it.

Let Employees Write Their Own “Lottery Ticket”

In other words, let them choose what they want to work on and how they want to improve themselves and the company.

While you can’t give employees unlimited freedom here, you can (and should) encourage them to think about what aspects of your business they want to learn more about, what new skills they want to develop, where they want to be next year and the year after – and how this can benefit your business.

Motivate Employees with Small, Unexpected Rewards

Can’t afford to give a big bonus at year-end?

The good news is maybe you don’t need to. McKinsey cites studies that show smaller, random rewards given at unexpected times can prove just as effective.

In fact, because they never come to be seen as expected, such “surprise” rewards can be even more valuable in motivating workers. A thank-you note, small gift or random afternoon off are examples of ways to motivate with the unexpected.

Of course, the bigger picture when it comes to creating meaning at work is that as a small business owner, you’re closer to your employees. You can learn what matters to each of them, and what meaning they find in their jobs – whether that’s solving customers’ problems so they leave with a smile, meeting increasingly higher sales quotas every quarter, or helping the others on their team.

Presented by FreeEnterprise.com - your home for free market news and ideas. The site offers more than headlines - it’s a dynamic conversation about American free enterprise.
 

7 Ways to Make Your Kick-Off Gathering a Successful One

7 Ways to Make Your Kick-Off Gathering a Successful One

Hosting an event is a great way to kick off the New Year.  No matter the type, an event gives your business or organization an opportunity to make a more personal connection with the people you meet.  This can give you a huge advantage, especially in a tough economy.  Here are 7 ways to make your event a successful one and start 2012 off on the right foot:

1. Get the word out early. Sending a save-the-date email as soon as you firm up your event details allows invitees to reserve the time. You can follow up later and ask people to RSVP and register in advance. If you're charging, ask people to pay in advance as well-- they'll be more likely to be there.

2. Create a sense of excitement and exclusivity. Everyone wants to feel like a VIP. Email a coupon to attendees that they can redeem at the door, or if there will be a cash bar, send a free drink ticket that attendees can redeem if they bring the coupon.

3. Increase the urgency when needed. As the registration deadline nears, send a reminder email to anyone you've invited who hasn't signed up yet. For example, "Only 5 spots left. Register today!"

4. Encourage guests to bring their friends. If you're hosting a fundraiser, incentivizing people to bring a friend can mean double the donations, or if you're a consumer-oriented business, rewarding customers if they bring additional guests could mean even more purchases.

5. Involve the community. Want to spice up your event with a little entertainment? Look no further than the local schools. Invite a school group to sing or play at your event. They're cute, free, and they'll bring their parents.

6. Put all event details on your event homepage. Don't make your guests work to find your event. Put all the pertinent details about your event on a special event homepage and be sure to include a link to a map for directions.

7. Use multi-channel marketing to promote your event. Don't just use email or event marketing tools for planning and promoting your events. Use all of the tools in your marketing toolkit. For example:

· Provide a link to your event homepage on all of your social networks.

· Use social syndication tools to allow invited guests to promote your event for you.

· If you're co-hosting with other businesses or organizations, share the cost by cross-promoting the event on each of your websites, via social media, and in other outlets, such as community newspapers (which often place nonprofit bulletin board ads for free).

Start the year on a memorable note

Running a great event doesn’t have to cost a lot (particularly if you team up with your business neighbors). With some thought, planning, and promotion, you can begin the year on a high note—and hopefully pick up some great new prospects during the process.

Want to learn more about how you can run a successful event? Join the conversation with Event Marketing from Constant Contact on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ctcteventmarketing.

Gina Watkins is a leading expert on e-marketing for small business – and has a real passion for helping businesses to succeed. Her ongoing series of dynamic lectures are filled with real-world examples, humor and results-driven wisdom garnered from more than two decades of sales, business development and marketing experience. In addition to owning her own business, she is an award-winning direct marketer, has been featured on WUSA Channel 9's Mind Over Money show, Dr. Gayle Carson’s Women In Business radio show, Morgan State’s Briefcase Radio program, and in numerous other media. In her role as Constant Contact Regional Development Director, she’s presented to more than ten thousand seminar attendees about the keys to success with easy, affordable, highly effective technology tools that grow trusted business relationships.

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Grow Your Email List, No Computer Required

Grow Your Email List, No Computer Required

Has this ever happened to you? 


Someone comes in to your place of business, or attends an event you’re hosting, or makes a donation, or engages with you offline in some way, and then he or she leaves and you have no way of staying in touch. Same goes for all the people who may hear an advertisement for your business or organization on the radio, or see a print ad in the local newspaper.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could add people like this to your email list quickly and easily, and could put the power of joining the list literally right in the hands of your customers, clients, members, or supporters?

Well, it’s possible, and they don’t even need a computer. All these people need are their mobile phones.

That’s right: These days, with mobile technologies making things easier and more portable, people can sign up to join your email list in seconds, and all you have to do is some quick setup.

Here’s what I mean:

1. They can join via text message. Using a service like Constant Contact’s Text-to-Join , your customers can join your email list simply by sending a quick text message. All you do is pick a keyword, and then tell people to text that keyword to a number that we’ll give you. You can promote this at events, in your radio advertisements, or any other time you come across someone who is not already on your list. (For more detailed information, check out this quick tutorial.)

2. They can scan a QR code. QR codes are everywhere these days, and you can even use them to grow your list now with Constant Contact’s Scan-to-Join feature. Scan-to-Join allows you to create a simple barcode that, when scanned by a smart phone, takes your customers, clients, members, and supporters to a mobile friendly Join My Mailing List page, where they can add themselves to your lists. You can put this code on flyers, business cards, print advertisements, or other printed materials. (For some great tips on using Scan-to-Join, download this quick handout.)

Remember: Asking people if they’re on your mailing list also gives you the chance to ask if they’re connected to you on social media. Mobile apps make it very easy for people to start following their favorite businesses, organizations, or people on Twitter, and to “Like” a Facebook Page too.

Growing your mailing list is something you should always be doing. By letting your customers, clients, members, and supporters join with their mobile phones, they can sign up anywhere, at any time.

Are you using mobile technologies to grow your email list? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/constantcontact.

Gina Watkins is a leading expert on e-marketing for small business – and has a real passion for helping businesses to succeed. Her ongoing series of dynamic lectures are filled with real-world examples, humor and results-driven wisdom garnered from more than two decades of sales, business development and marketing experience. In addition to owning her own business, she is an award-winning direct marketer, has been featured on WUSA Channel 9's Mind Over Money show, Dr. Gayle Carson’s Women In Business radio show, Morgan State’s Briefcase Radio program, and in numerous other media. In her role as Constant Contact Regional Development Director, she’s presented to more than ten thousand seminar attendees about the keys to success with easy, affordable, highly effective technology tools that grow trusted business relationships.

Procurement Corner: Capability Statements…….”The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”

Procurement Corner: Capability Statements…….”The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”
 
 
Sample of this month's mini-series content.
 
Last month, I posed the question: Are Business Cards Passé? “Probably not” was my conclusion. In my opinion, they have limited value, but are certainly useful for basic non-consequential “casual encounters”. However, I recommended that if your strategy is optimizing your marketing/branding effectiveness, consider creating a Capability Statement. What’s the difference between the two? Space, for one thing, 3 ½” X 2” versus 8 ½” X 11”; making the buyer’s job easier and faster with useful information/lasting impressions. 

I also had suggested some simple content (see last month’s article) that we will look at in series over the next several months. Keep in mind that the thoughts I share are my own based on my professional procurement experience. I hope you find them useful when building your capability statement, but I encourage you to explore your own creativity,. Before starting, let me just say that if business cards are “working” for you, that’s fine, stay the course! But if you are looking beyond status quo to improve your marketing visibility, consider a capability statement. Having said that, let’s begin creating our first series: Logo, Contact Info, and Capabilities Statement. Top of page:

Logo (if you have one). Logos generally impart little information so ‘size it’ proportionate to its message, small. Remember, we’re populating an 8½ X 11 single sheet, not the door of a pickup truck. Place the logo in the upper left or right-hand corner, whichever compliments overall appearance better. Try it in both, then decide. Directly beneath it, place a thin single line separating it from the text.

Next, contact info. Fairly straight forward: name, title, phones, email, company address and, website. How you arrange it though is very important; easy to read but conserving valuable space. If it appears “lengthy”, split into two columns, one to the far left, the other to the far right, ‘equal in length’. For example, three lines on each side. Symmetrical. To emphasize certain portions, bold and/or italicize, such as, jward@globalalliance.com and/or globalalliance.com.

And finally (for this series), Capabilities Statement. Give this allot of thought! Use Capabilities Statement as your title. Bold, italicized, centered or left-justified. What follows is critical. 2 – 3 concise sentences; avoid repetition and always be factual. First, introduce your company (name) and highlight your business size (woman- owned small business). Second, outline your product-line/service, core competencies and any specialties, plus years of experience. Lastly, conclude with a statement demonstrating ‘best value’. Always try to anticipate readers’ questions and incorporate answers as part of your strategy, as you may not be present when it’s read. In other words, avoid leaving things open to interpretation.

Your goal is creating lasting impressions/branding yourself. Capability statements are powerful tools that convey powerful messages. So as you design & build yours remember that more does not equal better; avoid information overload!

Remember the title from the Eastwood blockbuster movie, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”….? When reviewing your capability statement, ask yourself which category from the movie title best describes it.

Next Series, Next Month!

Scott Sealing is a Procurement Consultant with the UH SBDC (TX) and an ASBDC member. He also works closely with the UH PTAC (TX) and is an APTAC member. He specializes in counseling small businesses through the rigorous process of registering with government agencies, and then researching and bidding on government contracts. He also provides SBIR/STTR proposal development support. Scott has over 28 years of procurement and logistics experience working for A&D prime contractors on federal contracts. He supported NASA contracts in NM, TX, FL, AL CA and, DoD contracts in NM and CA. Scott is a certified Supply Chain Management (SCM) Professional (SCOR) and is certified in the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt curriculum. He has authored white papers on SCM and conducted domestic & international presentations for government, industry, and academia on procurement and supporting government contracts and, on the effective application of SCM tools & techniques.

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Procurement Corner: Lasting Impressions….Are Business Cards Passé?

Procurement Corner: Lasting Impressions….Are Business Cards Passé?

Thinking back over the several decades when I managed Procurement organizations on government contracts for one of the aerospace & defense giants, I recollect the vast number of times I either exchanged business cards or merely received them from businesses hoping to do business with “me” (us). Occasionally, I would share them with my purchasing staff however, and in all honesty, the majority of the time I eventually just “filed” them, usually in a (infrequently used) rolodex or bottom of a drawer. Unfortunately, this scenario is not unusual today.

So what’s the point of swapping them in the first place? In theory, the objective of “the exchange” is to share critical business and contact information. From a supplier’s perspective, create lasting impressions to receive future orders as needs arise. From a procurement perspective, having viable sources readily available to meet technical demands and achieve mandated small business procurement goals. Did you know that government buyers and contractors still have procurement small business goals today? Yes, indeed!

So, how does a supplier seeking new or additional business actually convey all this “critical” information in such a tiny space on a 3 ½” x 2” business card? And how does one get the information in front of the right person(s)? Better yet, who is/are the right person(s)? Is there a viable alternative or supplement to business cards to help achieve success?

Revisiting the basics, we all know the intention is creating lasting impressions – “value-added”, gaining a competitive “edge”, “getting your foot in the door” or some combination of these targeting the bottomline. Typical business cards offer (in very small font) information like company name/address, point-of-contact, title, phone numbers, email, logo and, maybe even a catchy little phrase (i.e., “Specialty Drilling since 1978”). Little more. So what additional information would make a buyer more efficient and help sway him/her into contracting with your company? What knowledge would reduce the buyer’s “researching” time and make the process faster while reaching those small business goals? I often suggest to my clients a one-page (8 ½” x 11”) “Capability Statement” (CS). Provide only information needed, well thought out and in an easy-to-read format which, when “scanned”, will quickly convey all the buyer needs to know but not, information “overload”. More is not better!

Simple suggestions/minimum information (from my procurement/government perspective) include:

  • Company name, address and logo (optional)
  • Contact info/website
  • Brief but concise (2 -3 sentences, max) capability statement (what your company offers/what’s special), bolding your business size/status
  • Bulletized list: What sets your company above the competition
  • Brand names/products or services you offer; special equipment
  • North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes
  • DUNS #, CAGE Code, GSA Contract number (if any), etc.
  • List Key Customers

So, are business cards passé? Probably not. Is there a more effective way of communicating your critical information? I suggest there is! To be continued on future ASBDC blogs – Suggestions for CS formatting, specific content and, addressing the “how to find that right person(s)”.

Note: This technique/tool works equally well for both government & commercial entities.

Don’t “Get Filed”…..Don’t be Passé!.....Make an Impression! 

Scott Sealing is a Procurement Consultant with the UH SBDC (TX) and an ASBDC member. He also works closely with the UH PTAC (TX) and is an APTAC member.  He specializes in counseling small businesses through the rigorous process of registering with government agencies, and then researching and bidding on government contracts.  He also provides SBIR/STTR proposal development support.  Scott has over 28 years of procurement and logistics experience working for A&D prime contractors on federal contracts.   He supported NASA contracts in NM, TX, FL, AL CA and, DoD contracts in NM and CA.  Scott is a certified Supply Chain Management (SCM) Professional (SCOR) and is certified in the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt curriculum.  He has authored white papers on SCM and conducted domestic & international presentations for government, industry, and academia on procurement and supporting government contracts and, on the effective application of SCM tools & techniques.
 
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The Happiness Business

The Happiness Business

Whether you like it or not, you’re in the happiness business. No matter what product or service you sell, your customer is looking for happiness, and counting on you to provide it.

People are always seeking happiness. In our seeking, we often mistake short-term pleasure for happiness, and end up unhappy, but it’s still happiness we seek. And if we make enough mistakes along the way, eventually we’ll find true happiness.

So for every customer, you’re a stop along the happiness journey. If you stay keenly aware of this fact in all aspects of your business, you will succeed.

We experience many types and levels of happiness, from the most basic to the sublime. From satisfaction of physical needs to glorious moments of joy, and countless levels in between. In the seeking, at this moment, each of us is looking for something slightly (or greatly) different.

Marketing happiness is difficult in its simplicity. It’s also critical.

Do:

  • Listen to your customers. Understand as fully as possible what type and level of happiness your product and service provide.
  • Tailor your message to precisely communicate customer happiness in that way.
  • Take your message directly to the segment of your market that seeks the type and level of happiness your company can provide.

Don’t:

  • Assume everybody needs your product.
  • Assume what makes one person happy makes everybody happy.
  • Assume that your product makes everybody happy in the same way.
  • Blanket the market with features.

People move quickly along the happiness journey. It’s very possible, and optimal, that you can meet a single customer at several stops along the way, developing a “happiness relationship” that can have tremendous value beyond what the customer may have originally perceived.

In our own business, we meet the very basic need for security and survival (as perceived by the client) in the form of cash flow funding, the life blood of business. In this way, our business addresses the need for “basic happiness.” But in the process, we work together to locate additional business opportunities and grow the client’s business. This results in self-esteem, the sense of achievement, success, etc., which makes the client happy in a slightly deeper and less frantic sense. Along the way, we hope to build a relationship, a friendship, which leads to an even higher “form” of happiness. Ideally, we all share in that happiness which provides a very positive level of motivation and inspiration.

Much of our operational focus is on meeting that basic need. We know that if we can’t turn around cash flow in a hurry, we won’t ever get the chance to explore that next level of happiness. We know that all of our clients value cash flow for their “happiness,” so we make sure we can deliver it on their terms.

When you begin to assess your business from the happiness perspective, you’ll start to see aspects, positive and negative, about your business, from the eyes (and maybe even hearts) of your customers. You’ll begin to make changes, not only to your marketing message, but to your production, your administration, and even how you answer the phone. 

So for your own happiness as business owners, don’t forget: whether you like it or not, you’re in the happiness business. Tom Smith is Vice President, Marketing for Riviera Finance, a nationwide commercial finance company and sponsor of the ASBDC. Prior to Riviera, he worked as an independent financial consultant and held various positions in finance and marketing for Xerox Corporation. He is married with two sons, and resides in the Tampa Bay area. Tom holds an MBA in Finance from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

With offices nationwide, Riviera Finance (www.rivierafinance.com) provides early-stage accounts receivable financing to small companies in need of cash flow. Riviera's non-recourse factoring program includes full protection against bad debt, and complete receivables management services. Since 1969, Riviera Finance has funded over 20,000 small companies.

 




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Material is subject to change without notice. 

Lane SBDC is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Service Provider.