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The VISION remains

The VISION remains

Jayne and I learned a really good lesson yesterday.

When we were planning this holiday, we both really wanted to reach the summit of The Cobbler, a mountain in Scotland, but not to the detriment of our health or life.

When we set off it was a glorious day the sun was shining and the weather warm. As we progressed up the mountain it soon became clear that this wasn’t going to be as easy as we’d first thought and that we would have to take it steady, but we weren’t in any rush and we had plenty of time.

So about three quarters of the way up the weather changed and it became quite gloomy and threatening and eventually started to rain. Out came the waterproofs, we got to the foot of The Cobbler and noticed that some of the more experienced guys were turning around, some weren’t but they were foolhardy or so a few of the not so printable comments said.

After a bit of a natter and a check of the weather, yep still raining and still blowing a hoolie, we decided to turn around too, “the hill would be there for another day” said one guy, quite right.

As we made our way back down we were not despondent because we hadn’t reached the summit, in fact we were quite pleased that we had made it as far as we did, and it would be the perfect excuse to come back and try again, plus, guess what, the bloody sun was shining as we got to the bottom. A great day all-round we thought.

Total time out, around 5-6 hours.

So, the moral of the story and why I’ve posted it here.

I hope you can see a very similar pattern of our walk to starting and running a business. Its exciting when you set off and your goals are in place, reaching the top, but something always comes and buggers it up, the weather, but you keep going as far as you can, but if you have to alter course you do for the sake of your health, in this case, and your business.

Remember the vision is always the same: We want to climb to the summit of the Cobbler

The strategy might and will change: We were beaten by the weather,this time, but we’ll be back to try again.

Have a great day and keep climbing.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE…THEN A PROFIT.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE…THEN A PROFIT.

When we start a new business or new venture its usually to make money, or at least it’s one of the top considerations. But what if it was to make a difference, a difference to people lives or the way they do things.

Now I’m not saying that we should only start a business to make a difference, although it’s a hell of a reason, we do of course need to make a profit to keep the business ticking over.

I really do believe that we all have a higher purpose and that we were put on this good earth to make a difference.

To illustrate this, I will give you the example of The Entrepreneurs Group and Cumbrian Entrepreneurs, businesses I started a while ago but never did anything thing with. Today it seems they resonate with so many people, businesses and organisations that enquiries are coming in from all directions, which is great of course, but I really started them to make a difference on how people, entrepreneurs, start and operate their businesses and for organisations to use entrepreneurial management techniques to be able to compete in the 21st Century.

Now all this sounds very grand and it will take a long time to realise these dreams but I don’t mind because I’m in it for the long haul, I want to make a difference. I know that as soon as it really starts to gain traction that the profit will follow, as long as I have my sums right of course ?.

Now one of the things I love doing is looking forward maybe 3 to 5 years and imagining what the business will be like, a great exercise if you have never done it, how it will operate and how many people and businesses we will be serving. This forms part of my goals for the business and the cashflow forecast too plus it’s a great way to keep on track.

So, I’m looking forward and seeing everything I dreamed of, and more, and then I look to see the difference it has made to peoples lives. The reason for this is that when you start a business or company you effect people’s lives in lots of different ways, plus as soon as you take on staff you are responsible for them and their family. You pay them so they rely on you to make it work. This is another whole gaggle of geese we can get into later but the bottom line is you have a responsibility.

Am I satisfied? Am I hell.

I want to do more I want to help even more people realise their dreams so I am already planning my next venture. As an entrepreneur I will never be satisfied that I have done enough, I want to be a part of the solution to peoples or even the world’s problems.

A big vision, yes, but if you are in this to make a difference might as well make as big a difference as you can…right?

Have a fab day and make as big a difference as you possibly can.

Building a personal brand.

Building a personal brand.

So, your trying to attract the right client to your business and you think that because you have a website and maybe a blog that people are just going to flock to your website or Facebook page? Wrong, on so many levels. You need a strong personal brand.

You have no doubt read the books that say you should build a sales funnel and sit back and wait for people to show up and buy your stuff, wrong, well not entirely, let me explain.

If I mention a name, say Richard Branson, you know who he is and that he owns Virgin Everything, right, right.

But if I mention Dell, the guys who make computers, it’s really hard to think of anyone’s face you might know or recognise if you saw it.

You see Branson has spent his life building his personal brand, where DELL have spent years building a company.

The days have long since gone when a company can survive being just a faceless corporation trading on logos and colours.

Its true that today companies live and in some cases die by the personalities they employ and who represent them. Today people WANT to know who the owner is and what he or she stands for.

The really successful companies build and promote the personal brands of the people within. I am sure you can think of a few personalities from the companies you know, like and trust.

You can pretty much guess that once RB puts his name to something its really going to take off. Elon Musk is exactly the same, you might not know everything he’s involved in but you have heard of him.

So how do us mere mortals get to the stage where people know who we are even when we are not in the room. Personal branding that’s how.

First off you don’t have to aim that high, all you have to do is build a community that likes you and what you stand for and what you stand against of course. This can be though videos, podcasts, Facebook pages and groups, blogs…in fact a whole host of things.

Personal brands are truly the most powerful brands, why, because people do business with people. Its so much easier to trust a person rather than a company or organisation. It’s how we are ‘wired’, to connect with people.

I have found that when you build a trusted personal brand people will naturally recommend you.

This also makes sure than when people talk about ‘you’ when you are not present they know who you are and what you stand for.

This is seriously powerful stuff and of course what they know and perceive about you is really up to you to determine and influence.

So, do you want to remain ‘faceless’ or do you want to build a strong personal brand where people know, like and trust you?

It really is down to you to decide but let me leave you with this thought:
Do you have enough, or more than enough, clients right now? If you do great you have a strong personal brand, whether you know it or not.

If you could do with more clients then you need to work on your personal brand because it’s not strong enough.

Have a fab day!

Tactical vs Strategic Part 1

Tactical vs Strategic Part 1

Before we get into the real ‘meat’ of this post let me ask you a question, do you know the difference between being a tactical business owner/manager and being a strategic owner manager and how education marketing can benefit your business?

The reason I ask is, if you don’t then this post is for you, and subsequent posts in this series.

It’s a known fact that around 90% of all owners and managers are tactical, 9% are strategic and the lucky 1% are a mix of both, these people are as rare as hen’s teeth and the ones we all hear about as being the business leaders we need to emulate and follow.

Let’s follow our own path.

Tactical owner/managers usually think “how do I get that sale today, I’ll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow” this is because they don’t really understand the strategy behind long-term sales or marketing. There is nothing wrong with this approach if you want to live for today and end up giving yourself a heart attack. When you tell them that its twice as difficult to get an appointment with a prospect than it was 5 years ago they normally try twice as hard to themselves and their team an appointment.

A strategic owner/manager will look at the problem from a holistic viewpoint and come up with fantastic strategies that will help ease the situation, their problem is they have no interest in tactics, so they never develop the idea, they go around in circles.

The 1% that can see both sides are the ones who make great things happen. This comes through determination and discipline to get both the tactics and strategies working in harmony so every criteria at every level is met.

Now I have seen a tactical person paired with a strategic person and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, usually they drive each other mad because one is wanting to get on and make the sale and the other is waiting for the perfect moment, it never happens unless the strategist can explain their ideas in a way that a strong tactician can really understand.

Here’s a story that illustrates this perfectly but this applies to any business in any sector:

Two sofa shops open in the same town 3 days apart and let’s assume that one is tactical and the other is strategic.

So, you go into the Tactical Sofa Shop buy a new sofa, the tactical salesperson hits you with “we have the best sofas in town, we won’t be beaten on price, doesn’t matter where you go, that’s our promise”. Usually over a 2year period, if it stays open that long, you could expect a 5% growth rate with this approach.

The second store, The Strategic Sofa Shop, the salesperson has been trained to ‘sell the shop’ and not the ‘products’, so she hits you with “you want to buy a sofa?” now on the way to the sofa section she is telling you everything about the history of the shop, the owner and how his passion for furniture and fabulous customer service lead him to open the shop and how not only are the prices competitive but every salesperson are trained on the construction and sustainability of sofas and how that can really benefit the customer.

On this journey you are not getting the feeling that you are being sold to, you get the feeling that this shop cares about you and your purchase so when you need some other piece of furniture to go with your sofa where do you go…yep, The Strategic Sofa Shop, it’s an easy sale.

The reason being, not only have they educated the customer on the shop and its history etc they have also built a rapport with them and rapport and trust sells better than anything, you just have to make sure you deliver on those promises and that you listen to the customer, there is nothing worse than hearing a salesperson talking over a customer.

This is the fastest way to boost sales that I know.

It’s been proven that people will pay more if they perceive there is greater value or a deeper reason for buying over one supplier than the other.

Let’s stop there, in the next post we will talk about how educating your clients and prospects can propel you far above your competitors, but today I want you to look at your sale process and find out if you are selling tactically or strategically.

Have a fab day.

Tactical vs Strategic Part 2

Tactical vs Strategic Part 2

So here we are at part 2 of Tactics vs Strategy and how we can help make education marketing the difference to us and our clients.

In part 1 we talked about the Tactical Sofa Shop and the Strategy Sofa Shop and what the difference was. If you haven’t read it go back as this post will make more sense if you do.

In this post we will wrap this section up with how you can use your USP or unique story.

I call it your unique story because this story will be at the centre of everything you do regarding your marketing and PR, this will help it work harder.

This is at the very heart of education marketing

When we educate a client or prospect it gives them a totally different perspective of who we are and how we can help them.

To give you an example:

I helped a client last year sell services to other businesses and this service basically is to increase brand awareness, loyalty and increase client retention, amongst other things.

We found that not only their salespeople but every other salesperson in this sector were selling on incentives only. A tactical sale.

What we decided to do was use a strategic sale and help educate the client or prospect so they had the full picture of what my client was offering, this was 3 ways to increase performance, sales and profits. When my client presented it was such a revelation because their client could see the full picture of how they could help through fantastic well researched market data.

There are lots of places to gather any data you require on the web today.

Let’s take a look at selling shoes, yes for some the most mundane of items but presented correctly they can sell themselves.

Now did you know that there are 214,000 nerve endings in your foot? Me neither! These nerve endings connect to every organ in the body. Did you also know that your feet sweat a cup of water every day, some notice it more than others, and depending on the quality of the shoe determines if this moisture is let out or not, if not you can transport it around your house as bacteria, fascinating data and all readily available.

So, if you were a shoe store and you had all this information to hand how much more qualified would you be to sell shoes than your competitor? You’d be an expert in shoes.

So you would have strategic objectives along the lines of:

  • Selling more shoes
  • Sell better quality shoes
  • Build your brand loyalty
  • Establish yourself as an expert
  • Build a relationship with the buyer that means they don’t go anywhere else

Follow my drift here.

Now I found this information with very little effort so imagine what you could find about your industry sector that would make you an expert to your clients and prospects.

All this marketing data, not product data, can be added to your unique story to separate you from your competitors, just like my client, and this should flow through all your marketing material, both on and offline.

Be a market expert and not just a product expert.

The company who truly wants their clients to learn with them will always beat the ones who just want to sell products. Think Apple and Samsung, the amount of market data these giants churn out is incredible. You have to do the same to differentiate from your competitors.

So, to use our shoe example, the key to choosing which data to use is easy, most people think a shoe is just a shoe (product data) but when you educate them that a shoe connects them to every organ in the body, that’s market data and that elevates you to a whole new level.

Let me ask you a question, as we approach the Christmas period do you notice that calendars are placed right by the checkouts, why because at this time of year most people either want a new calendar for the coming year or they give them as presents. The rest of the year they are tucked away. This is not a coincidence, market data proves that people buy calendars at Christmas.

As an exercise and just to prove me right or wrong, do some market research on your sector over a period of time. Keep track of everything you find that will be of value to your customers and add it to an excel sheet. Do this every week until you have so much data your competitors can’t compete with you.

As a final point the most strategic thing you can do, for yourself and your business, is gather all the market data you can that makes your product or service more important to your customer, add it to your unique story and go back to your customer base and try it out. I can guarantee that it will open more doors than your ever thought possible.

Remember think and plan like a master strategist but implement and follow up like a great tactician and you will be ahead of the game.

Have a fab day.