HSCS-010 – 9 Cheap and Easy Ways to Energize Your Marketing

There’s lots of opportunity to light a fire under your marketing efforts for the rest of the year as you plan for 2010. Here are 9 tips for 09/09/2009.

  1. Get in sync.
    Lay all your promotional materials out in front of you — business card, fliers, mailers, website, online ads — and take a good, long, hard look at them. Do they make sense? Is it confusing? Do they look consistent?
  2. Develop some interesting stories that tell how you helped clients succeed.
    Sounds better than tooting your own horn.
  3. Play to your strengths.
    If 90% of your business is selling a particular service, then lead with that message instead of confusing prospects with a menu of services. Get your foot in the door before you cross-sell.
  4. Experiment with something you are uncomfortable with.
    You might be surprised how you may connect with new prospects.
  5. Get out and meet new people.
    I’m shocked at how many people I invite to networking events will not come, ever.
    You can’t afford not to!
  6. Smile and dial.
    Dust off all those business cards you’ve collected and reconnect with those business contacts.
  7. Become news worthy.
    Share an *interesting* human interest story that the Media might pick up on.
  8. Build your Linkedin and Facebook contacts.
    Strive for quality, not quantity. Regularly let your contacts know what you’re doing. Ask for introductions, testimonials and opinions. Treat them as an advisory panel.
  9. Spy on the competition.
    Okay, maybe that sounds a bit sneaky. But you should know what your successful competitors are doing right.
  10. BONUS TIP: Hire a consultant.
    Seriously, find someone who can either do the work for you or teach you what you need to know to do it in-house. If you can’t afford it, suggest bartering for services.

Okay I know someone will say, what, why didn’t you include Social Media in the list. Truthfully, for newbies, I only advocate investing time in Linkedin and Facebook. Over time, as comfort level and experience increase, then there’s plenty of opportunities (e.g. Twitter) to experiment with and add to the marketing mix.

Thanks for listening/reading!

What do you suggest?

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HSCS-009 – Get Your Act Together. Challenge Bad Behavior.

It’s time to take a long, hard look at the way you come across to other people – prospects, customers, colleagues. Are you annoying? Are you missing key opportunities to close the deal?

Visit HateSomethingChangeSomething.comI get a call from someone I met at a recent networking event. (Typically when I meet someone interesting at a networking event, I follow-up within 24-48 hours with a email re-iterating our conversation and how we might be able to work together.)

Caller: “Why did you send that email to my personal email address.”
Me: “That’s the email address you gave me when we met.”
Caller: “Please resend the info to my business email address.”
Me: “Okay, please tell me the email address to use.”
Caller: “I’ll email it to you.”

Later that day I get an email from the caller’s personal email address with the business email address. *Sigh*

This week we’re talking about Getting Your Act Together. Examples of annoying things that can make you look extremely unprofessional and tick off the people you do business with.

Example #2

I got 4 calls in the last two weeks from people offering to mount a recent article about me that appeared in the business section of the local paper. The worst one sounded like this:
Me: “Hello, this is Roland. How can I help you.”
Caller: “Yeah, you were in the paper recently?”
Me: “Yes.”
Caller: “You wouldn’t want that mounted on wood, would ya?”
Me: “No, thank you.”
Caller: [Hangs up abruptly.]

The caller didn’t identify himself, his company or why I would want such a service. On the flip side of the scale, one of his competitors did an amazing job of greeting me, buttering me up about the article, how attractive the mounted article would look in my office for my prospects and customers to see.

Example #3

I got this email:
“I’ve uploaded a flyer for a workshop on estate planning for families with a special needs person. If you know anyone that might find value in this, please pass it along. On our home page, go to the Files tab on the left side.”

Perfectly fine and I appreciate that they didn’t send a massive file attachment. But how about providing a URL in the email. This particular business has their company website on a completely different domain name than the one they use for sending emails. (A completely other confusing faux pax).

Example #4

When a customer walks into your front office, what to they see? A disorganized mess? Physical obstacles that people have to maneuver around to get to you? Stupid looking things that you find cute but are hideous to the rest of us.

There was a show on A&E last fall called “We Mean Business.” Similar concept to Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Lot’s of great examples of business owners who are not thinking about the first impression made when a potential customer walks into their store.

Example #5,6,7…

  • That client who never shows up for your scheduled phone calls.
  • The guy who shows up unprepared to every single meeting.
  • The girl who misses every deliverable deadline.
  • The client who pays late.
  • The prospect who keeps asking for freebies yet has never returned the favor.
  • The soul sucking leech who can never find a positive word to say about anything and just wants to drag you down to his/her black lagoon of misery.

My challenge to to you is to start paying attention to things about you that irritate the people you meet and do business with. Get your act together, now!

Similarly, I challenge you to do something about the way other people disrespect the value of your time. Tell someone (politely of course) that you are unhappy with their bad behavior. Otherwise, you’re doomed be on the receiving end again.

Your time is too valuable to deal with nonsense. Stop the bad behavior around you so you can focus on what will make you and your business successful.

Share some examples of things you vow to become better at. Or examples of bad behavior that get under your skin.

By the way, last week I issued a “Comfort Challenge” asking everyone to try something new to promote themselves or their business. If you missed that, please listen to episode #8 and send in to tell what you are doing to improve your business.

Thanks for listening/reading!

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HSCS-008 – Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

We are creatures of habit. We can be stubborn, apathetic and fearful of change. It’s time to shake things up a bit. Pick one thing – that you are currently not doing to promote your expertise or brand – and start doing it.

Welcome friends. The theme of this show is simple. If you hate something about the way you do business, let’s figure out a way to change it for the better. Don’t accept as an answer: “Well that’s the way we’ve always done it.” That excuse no longer flies. We have access to so many new tools, thought leaders and big ideas. If you hate it, then change it. If you don’t want to be part of the solution, then you’re just part of the problem.

Each week we look at simple strategies and tactics that may have been overlooked by you and your team. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we get lazy. Perhaps we never heard of them before. Point is we’re hear to share information to do business better and become more successful. I’m not trying to sell you anything. The only thing I ask in return is your feedback. Comment on the blog. Record a voice message. I’ll repeat it at the end of the episode.

Thank you to all the repeat listeners. And welcome to those who are listening for the first time. At the end I tell you all the ways you can have this show automatically delivered to you for free.

Listener Feedback

Comment came in from Keith from Birmingham. He wrote:
“Listened to all the episodes. Great thoughts. Before I figure out what I want to be known for, I need to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
I like your direct approach. Keep up the great work.”

Thanks, Keith. I agree, I still don’t know what my first, best destiny is. Until then, I’ll keep sharing what I know to anyone who’ll listen. 🙂

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone.

Irrational Fear #12 displayed with permission from SavageChickens.comWhat do I mean by that? We’re creatures of habit.

  • We have formed opinions and can be stubborn about change.
  • We can be apathetic towards opportunities and people that could benefit us.
  • We fear that which is difficult or outside the realm of experience.

So apply that to the tasks of a small business owner:

  • Opinion – “The yellow pages is the best place for people to find my business.”
    Maybe, maybe not. A 2008 study indicated that less than 30% of Internet users still report they use their paper phone book (white pages/yellow pages). (SOURCE) What about the untapped potential — are you doing anything to reach the other 70%?
  • Apathy – “Networking groups are not for me. I’m too busy.”
    Yet those who actively and consistently participate in groups benefit from building professional connections, get their name/offerings known, find opportunities to collaborate and give/get business lead referrals.
  • Fear – “I don’t need a website. I’m not on ‘MyFace’ and such. That’s a waste of my time.”
    So how will people find you online? As your older customers age out, how will the more digitally-connected younger generation find you?

I’ve really embraced the face-to-face business networking. In fact I’m scheduled to attend 5 relatively local events this week. (Usually I attend 2-3 minimum.) So I started inviting colleagues who’ve been laid off, small business clients and some of the people I’ve advised. I’m surprised how most hem and haw and find an excuse not to attend. I realize that it can be intimidating. But the very idea seems to paralyze some people.

I was advising an IT business owner recently with a really great niche. He’s ready to deliver services, but weeks away from having his marketing strategy ready. So I tried talking him into coming to a big event that week. Free entry. Within 10 miles. Only investment is time and bring business cards to hand out. His reaction: “Oh no, I can’t. That’s not for me.” I’m telling him he can’t afford not to. So I go alone and that night I connected with: A doctor, an entrepreneur scouting locations for a new retail business, the owner of a title company, the owner of a law firm, the owner of a CPA firm and a few PR folks. Good for me. Lost opportunity for someone I know.

Online social networking for professional purposes should definitely be part of your marketing mix, but you have got to get out and shake hands too. Stop hiding behind the computer and get out for air.

Comfort Challenge

Here’s my challenge to you: Find a way to step out of your comfort zone next week. Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Go find a networking event to go to next week. If you’re afraid to go alone, invite a business owner you know. Or go with your spouse. Point is, get out there. All the people there are looking to make connections. No one wants to see you fail. You never know who you might meet to help propel your business to the next level.
  • Start a professional blog. Just pick a topic related to what you do, create a free account on or Then start writing – opinions, observations, tip lists. Just do it and demonstrate your subject matter expertise.
  • Start building your professional online network. Go on,,, and start searching for people you went to school with or worked with in the past. Invite them to connect with you.

Thanks for letting me share that with you. Please let me know what you did or will do to step outside your Comfort Zone.

What are you thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Want to add something?

Add a comment to the blog post or record a voice message that I’ll play in a future episode.

Tell a friend. Send a link to someone and say hey, check this out.

No go out and shake things up a bit. Go make some noise!

Thanks for listening/reading!

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HSCS-007 – What do you want to be known for?

Every one of us should be able to instantly dictate we want to be known for. It’s a critical part of your core identity, your business goal, your personal brand identity, and your professional essence.

Welcome new listeners. Each week we look at simple strategies and tactics that may have been overlooked by you and your team. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we get lazy. Perhaps we never heard of them before. Point is we’re hear to share information to do business better and become more successful. I’m not trying to sell you anything. The only thing I ask in return is your feedback. Comment on the blog. Record a voice message.

So, what do you want to be known for?

Sounds simple? But it may not be easy to answer.

I was recently advising an IT consulting business owner about his overall branding. Truthfully it was scattered and unfocused. So we tried to isolate what he wants to be known for from all that he can offer. It became apparent that he can’t be known for all. So we whittled the selection down to the core offerings. It may vary for anyone. But essentially it came down to what the majority of his clients needed and what he could deliver/support exceptionally. Everything else became upsell, cross-sell and added value. Once that distinction was made, the marketing materials become clearer. The communication points essentially wrote themselves.

I was at a recent networking event. One by one we each stand up and introduce ourselves to the group in 30 seconds or less. It’s a great exercise because I find myself continually honing my elevator speech to streamline and emphasize what I want to be known for. It’s not easy. I hate public speaking. I used to get terrified, even speaking in front of a small conference room of people. But over time and practice, I manage the anxiety. Ultimately I just remind myself that we’re all here to make connections. No one wants to see us fail.

Here are some typical examples of the introductions I hear each week:

  • A few introductions are usually mumbled, half-hearted, rushed statement:
    “Hi, I’m Jim. I have a _______ company.”
  • The more seasoned professionals and business owners say something along the lines of:
    “Hi, I’m John Jones. My company is ________. We provide ______ services to _____.”
  • The worst (IMHO) are people like this:
    “Do you have dreams? I make dreams a reality. If you want to be successful, come speak to me.” — Just comes off as incredibly arrogant and probably an aggressive MLM person. Not that all MLM is bad, but some people get too swept up in the cult of personality.

So I asked a random sampling of professionals what they wanted to be known for and in most instances no one could give me an immediate answer. They had to think first and formulate a thought.

Quite frankly, every one of us should be able to instantly dictate we want to be known for. It’s a critical part of your core identity, your business goal, your personal brand identity, and your professional essence.


  • “The best pizza in Somerset, New Jersey.”
  • “Our customer service is second to none in the email delivery industry.”
  • “We’re #2. We try harder.” (Avis)
  • “I’m the most affordable publicist for small business.”
  • “I help business owners become more successful.”
  • “We save business owners an average of $18,000 per year on their bookkeeping and payroll expenses.”
  • “We found mistakes on 87% of the tax returns we checked.” (H&R Blocks claim)

See where I’m going with this? Take some time. Itemize your strengths and weaknesses and define what you want to be known for.

  • Be clear
  • Make it memorable
  • Demonstrate value to the client

Thanks for listening/reading!

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HSCS-006 – Controlling Chaos

Are you offering your customers too many choices? The effort to please a few may damage your relationship with the majority you do business with. Simplify your offerings, to reduce chaos and ultimately become more profitable. Plus, Lucile in the U.K. asks how to make business contacts in new markets.

Controlling Chaos

Chaos by Amanda Roya Modesta-KeyhaniDon’t make everything and specialize in nothing. Cut down the menu. It’s a classic K.I.S.S. strategy (Keep It Simple Stupid).

Reduce your core offerings. That can help cut down ordering time. Thereby reduces chances of mistakes.

An abundance of information can result in a scarcity of attention. In a retail setting, offering too much not only adds confusion for customer, it can cause chaos in the kitchen. It may also be less profitable. Do you find that you are giving too much away for free? (Comping) Perhaps if you solve another problem, their would be less waste, unhappy customers and hence the need to compensate.

Get rid of clumsy mechanisms and processes. Clear out the clutter. Get rid of things/people/vendors that prevent you from running your business properly. If something doesn’t work, vent out alternatives. Don’t just keep doing business as usual if it makes you angry.

Simplify everything and do it well. Keep it simple. Control the chaos.

Listener question: How to make business contacts in new markets?

Lucile from Grain Media in London, U.K. asked a great question. Grain Media produces a diverse range of programming from ethically minded documentaries and action sports films/series through to promos and music videos.

“Now we would like to expand and find places where we can pitch ideas or where we can get commissioned to make mobile content, more web content, advertising, etc… Would you have any ideas of ways I should go to be on pitching lists and make us known more around the industry?”

My thoughts…

  • Post the question on Q&A boards for professionals, such as:
  • Contact the PR and marketing departments at various wireless/mobile carriers. Find out the process for pitching your capabilities to produce media content.
  • Know anyone in Hollywood? (A screenwriter, grip, PA, foley artist, etc.) Check your Linkedin and Facebook contacts if anyone might be able to introduce you to someone or point you in the right direction.
  • Find the industry/professional online boards for your specialty and be active contributing in those social networks. You never know how you might make a strategic alliance just from being an active participant and demonstrating your subject matter expertise.

Thanks for listening/reading!

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HSCS-005 – Find a need, fill a need (Pt5, Run your business like Gordon Ramsay)

Last episode we talked about how to discover what your customers really want. Now we’ll talk about transformational change. Plus, I’ll share my recent experience providing feedback as part of a customer advisory panel. Finally, I have a few more online resources to discover networking events near you.

Topic #1 – Give your customers what they really want

Build a babyDuring the last episode (#4), we discussed how to find out what the customers really want.

What will the market bear?
Are you charging too much?
Are you charging too little?

Once you have that directional knowledge, you have to take those learnings and fill a need.

I love the quote in the kids movie “Robots”: “Find a need. Fill a need.”

If there isn’t a good hamburger for miles, be known for serving the best one.

If the locals are all young bohemians, serve cheap good food that they can afford.

If the local butcher says thick steak is his number one best seller, and there are no steak houses in town, perhaps you should transform into a steak house.

“Find a need. Fill a need.”

Topic #2 – Learning what your customers want (continued)

ChasingI was asked to join an advisory panel for a service I subscribe to. In this case it’s regarding a mobile site for a service I use.

Survey was simple. It let me comment on specific screens/functionality. Gave me an open ended response field to type in a verbatim response — as opposed to closed ended questions where I can only choose from the answers provided. They even displayed screen shots of the mobile website as a reminder of the interface. (very smart)

It gave me a sounding board to provide three points of critical feedback about the user experience. But they might have lost out on my valuable input due to a stupid mistake on their part. The survey invitation email subject line simply said “WAP Survey”

Very careless. “WAP” is a meaningless term to most people. Speak to me in English, not acronyms. They’re lucky that I’ve worked in mobile marketing and know what it means. Otherwise I would’ve deleted the email without opening it.

Topic #3 – More useful online resources to find events in your area

During episode #3, we talk about how to use to find networking events close to home. Here are two more:

Learned about them listening to CC Chapman’s excellent podcast on new media.

Personally, I got better search results on But you might have better luck depending on where you live.
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HSCS-004 – Give your customers what they really want (Pt4, Run your business like Gordon Ramsay)

Do you honestly know what your customers and prospects really want? In this episode we discuss a reality check for business success. Ask yourself some hard questions. Plus, checkout some free/inexpensive tools to help you find out what you need to know.

Topic #1 – Find a need, fill a need

Angry pirate - click to view source creditDo you honestly know what your customers and prospects really want? Perhaps your stubborn attitude is the reason why your sales are down.

Are they really happy? Ever survey them?

  • Use customer comment cards? (How was the experience? Would they recommend you?)
  • Go out on the streets and literally ask people in the neighborhood what they think? (Ever heard of you? How do you compare to the competition?)
  • Put a sample in their hand to see reactions.
  • Ask them to complete an online survey (or paper survey if necessary).
  • Invite them to your office for lunch.
  • Invite them to participate in an advisory board.

Be prepared for honest criticisms:

  • Functional (Overly complex? Too simplistic? Opportunities for improvement.)
  • Aesthetic (Butt ugly?)
  • Cost (Overpriced? Underpriced?)
  • Value / ROI (As compared to competition. Both factual and perceived.)
  • Quality (Have standards been slipping?)
  • Service (Too little? Too much?)
  • Lack of support

What are the right questions to ask? Well that’s a topic for another time. Just don’t overwhelm your customers. Ask straightforward, meaningful questions.

Topic #2 – Tools to find out what your customers really want

ChasingSome of my marketing research colleagues might be gagging on the simplicity of these suggestions. But reality is, most small+mid-size businesses cannot afford formal methodology based research. They need directional info quickly and cheaply.

Free polling software:

If you are already using an email marketing service, some have built-in survey applications:

Having difficulty with fielding customer support inquiries. Checkout popular paid services like:

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