The following is a guest blog by Ann Convery. Ann is offering an amazing free telecall tomorrow:

Don’t Talk About The Features Of Your Service — They Scare Away Your Prospects

By Ann Convery

So this is the deal…. let me tell you about Joanne. She’s one of the smartest people I know when it comes to grabbing people’s attention. She was a business strategist and a good copywriter, and she knew her stuff backwards and forwards. If she got into a private discussion with you she’d solve your problems like that. But when she got in front of a prospect, and there was a whiff of a sale in the air, (little laugh) she started babbling, and it was driving her nuts. She was watching people walk away. And she was at the point of abandoning her business, in fact her husband was pushing her to let it go, and find a job. And here=s how we turned it around for Joanne and this is the same thing that will turn it around for you.

Because Joanne was a great coach, she was a great teacher. And I know a lot of you are good teachers. And teachers tend to stay teach way before they should – like, talk about how great the features of their service or programs are to people they’ve just met.

And Joanne was scared of being salesy, so she retreated into her comfort zone, teaching. She’d say, I’m not only an MBA, I’m a certified NLP practitioner, so when I coach with people I’m able to get into what’s blocking them immediately, and remove the blocks so they go much faster. In fact we do that on the first session. And because I do laser-coaching on unconscious blocks, , my clients get a global vision of their business in the first session, blah blah blah blah blah blah… these are features.

Here Joanne was telling everyone she met how much she could give them, and there is nothing that turns off a prospect faster than features. And the biggest mistake people make is that they use adjectives to make their features sound really cool. Too many adjectives — can actually kill a sale. Joanne ended up several times in tears in the ladies’ room at networking events.

And she realized that all her emails were stuffed with features, which is why she had such a poor open rate. So we actually put a sign on her desk and in her purse that said “No Features.” The only thing she talked about was results. She said, “Clients come to me when their backs are against the wall. Like Tom. By the time he called me, they’d turned off his light bill and he hadn’t had a client in three months. 60 days later, he had 4 new clients, 6 good prospects, and his monthly income had gone from 0 to 16,000.”

She realized what most of us just don’t realize about features—and it sounds stupid, but they’re an addiction, and they’re dangerous. They’re so comfortable, especially for teachers. And they’re like a huge brick wall between you and the clients who really want to work with you. Why are they so dangerous? They’re dangerous because block feeling. 

When you talk about features, you’re asking your clients to think. And they do. But they don’t feel. And if your audience doesn’t feel, nothing happens. No sale happens, no signing happens. Nothing moves. And that’s why it’s so mysterious, that’s why it’s so painful, and that’s why you can’t put your finger on it. People keep asking you – “What do you do?” How do you do that?

And so you tell them. And it’s like handing chocolate to a chocoholic; the addiction kicks in.

“Ooooh, this feels so good, I’m talking about my best features. I’m talking about those degrees I worked so hard to get.” And they disappear. Your audience disappears. Features are such an innocent, tragic mistake that can keep you from thousands of dollars that are just outside your door, they’re waiting. And you’re turning them off.

And it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to suffer and neither does your income. Just take the features out of your conversation, and out of most of your copy. And talk about your results instead.

Copyright © Ann Convery 2012

 
 

Using PR to Maximize Your Networking

All small business owners are told about the importance of networking; of getting out there glad handing, meeting prospects and drumming up business.  To be honest, it’s not my favorite pastime, and I haven’t always had the best luck on that front.  Truth be told, I’m not what one would call a born networker.  Even for those who excel at the process, this can be a rough time in the networking world.  I was speaking to a business owner the other day who was explaining that he’d never gone to so many lunches and mixers in his life but most of the time he discovered that the people he was talking to were hoping he could send some business their way.  He explained that it was tough enough going out there and trying to meet prospects to pitch his service to, but discovering that most of the people he was talking to were desperately trying to sell him, made things really depressing.

Don’t get me wrong, networking can be an incredibly powerful business tool and there are people out there who are experts at it; but not everyone is born with that networking gene.  Although it should be a part of your marketing mix, networking on its own is not a marketing strategy.  Do your homework and make sure the mixers or networking events you’re going to are appropriate.  Don’t just go to make yourself feel like you’re doing something.  There are times that action for action’s sake can work against you.  Also, be sure and prepare yourself before you head off into the wild world of networking.  Know what you’re going to say and how you’re going to present yourself.  Remember you’re not there to sell your product or service; you’re there to explain your value, show how you can solve problems, and offer solutions.  You’re there to show your prospects why they want to work with you.  Ann Convery, who developed the Speak You Business in 30 Seconds Or Less system, is a master at this process.  If you have a chance, check out her website at: http://www.speakyourbusiness.com

So whereas it’s important to keep networking as a part of your marketing mix, start thinking in a broader based approach.  Consider using public relations and social media to establish yourself in the market place.  By launching an effective public relations campaign you establish yourself as a news story.  You gain the credibility and validation of being featured in a magazine, newspaper article or on a TV or radio segment.  You become an expert in your field.  Utilizing blogging and social media, you establish a presence on the net and are able to talk directly to your prospects.  By combining media relations with a social media approach you can magnify your press coverage through the various social media sites – and that can be an extremely powerful marketing approach.  It also makes networking all the more effective.  When you do go to a networking event or mixer and your prospects see that you’ve been featured in the media as an expert in your field, you’ll be way ahead of the competition.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011

Developing A Successful Social Media Approach

Facebook hit the 500 million mark in July.  If Facebook were a country, it would rank third, behind the People’s Republic of China and India and around 190 million ahead of the United States.  Its growth is staggering, two years ago it had around 100 million users. Its growth is up 64 percent from a year ago, and up 22 million from just February, 2010. Facebook now dwarfs MySpace which not that long ago was seen as the premier site in terms of numbers.  Twitter and a professional networking site, LinkedIn, are growing, but pale in comparison.  The numbers are constantly moving targets but it was recently that Twitter had 105 million and LinkedIn 70 million users

Social bookmarking sites are also experiencing rapid growth. On these sites users save links to Web pages that they want to share and they share their own information. The more popular sites include Digg, StumbleUpon, Yahoo Buzz! and Reddit.

So, whereas it’s clear that social media is a major force in the world of marketing and communications, it still can be a daunting task to figure out exactly how to effectively utilize these various sites.  It’s often the case that a company spends more time working social media than benefitting from it.  It is best used in conjunction with a traditional public relations campaign and although in many ways the forms of communication are similar, in other ways they are markedly different.

For example, although you can use the information from a press release on social media sites,  you don’t want to send out a standard, traditional press release.  Social media and blogging are about connecting and personal communication (even though it is, ironically, on a mass scale) therefore the style needs to be less formal and more conversational.  Where many traditional marketers have trouble with social media, is that in the past they were used to  delivering a controlled message.  In the world of blogging and social media it can be quite a challenge to try and control a message or the reaction to it.  That’s not always a bad thing.  The feedback received, even when negative, sometimes particularly when negative, can be invaluable.  Social media also often allows for communications between a consumer and a decision-making member of any given organization. That’s a shift in the communication world.

Social media and blogging are similar to PR in that content is king.  The more informative, educational, amusing or controversial the message, the more effective it is.  In this world the most effective messages are short and concise.  Also, the way the information is written and delivered is different.  In the world of social media you are talking directly to consumers and the public, in the PR world you are addressing the media and journalists.

And speaking of the media, when it comes to the press, not only are more people using social media, but so are more journalists, editors and producers.  The media regularly searches on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  Whereas Google still rules as the main information source, it is reported that 89% of reporters turn to blogs and 65% of journalists use social media.

Just as when pitching the media in a PR campaign you want to pick the media outlets that match and speak to your  market; you want to do the same with your social media campaign.  Understanding your current customer base will be your best guide to picking the appropriate social media sites.  It wastes your time, money, and effort to focus on social media that your customers do not pay attention to, which is one of the  points I’ll be addressing in an upcoming article.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2010

 

How to Find Prospects and Clients Using PR

You’re looking to grow your business, build your client base, and find new customers.  What’s the best way to find clients?  Should you cold call? Use direct mail? Network? Advertise? Use social media? AdWords?  All of those can work, depending on your business.

The best way to find clients is to actually have them find you.  It’s a very different conversation when prospective clients contact you than when you make cold calls or initiate conversations with prospects who don’t know who you are.  Think of how different it would be for a client to call and ask if he or she could hire you.  That would be a truly motivated client.

But how do you change the dynamics? How do you shift the playing field so that your prospects are the ones that are initiating the conversation?  One tried and true answer is to establish yourself as an expert in your field and the most effective way to accomplish that is through an effective PR campaign. A well thought out public relations campaign can frame you as the story and establish you as the expert.  By being featured on TV and radio or in magazines and newspapers, you separate yourself from the competition; you are presented as a news story, not as an ad or a commercial.  That changes the equation.  Now prospective clients or customers who are in need of your type of service or product will contact you because you’ve established yourself as the authority, or your product has been featured as one of the best, or in a new product page, or you’ve been quoted.  On the marketing end, that type of media coverage encourages viewers, readers and listeners to take action, whether that be making an appointment, purchasing a product, or visiting a store.

When it comes to PR and media relations, bottom line comes down to offering a good compelling story that also educates and informs.  By presenting yourself as an expert, and an educator, both the media and the public will turn to you for information and advice. And, when they’re looking to purchase a product or service in your field, you’ll be at the top of the list.

It’s said that we are judged by the company we keep. By being featured in the media you’re in the company of the newsworthy, and because of your association, you have suddenly leaped ahead of your competition.  Via press coverage, you and your message will enter homes and businesses, not as an ad or commercial, but as a news story. When people seek you out, they will be seeking you out as a specialist, as someone who the media deems important enough to be featured in the press. You’ll have gained two things no amount of advertising could ever buy you – validation and credibility.

Media coverage also gives your customers and prospects a sense of urgency.   By being featured on TV or in print, you and your company will be viewed as timely and news worthy.  That drives action, which results in motivated prospects and more clients.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2010

Six Ways to Market Your Business on A Shoestring

Very few businesses thrive or even survive without marketing.  But it can be an expensive process. There are several options that businesses can utilize that won’t break the bank. Start with the simple stuff.

1) Business cards can be a quick way to introduce your business and pass the information on.  Use your cards wisely, don’t just put your basic information on it.  Come up with a line or two that you can put on the card that explains who you are.  Use it as a way to promote yourself and your business.  Then get the cards out there.  Come up with a gameplan to get your cards in as many hands as possible.  See if there are places where you can have your cards displayed, or boards they can be added to.

2) Network. Join civic and business groups.  Do some homework and find networking groups in your area that you can join.  These are places where you can pass out your business card, but more importantly, these can be great places to make contacts.  If the people you meet at the groups can’t utilize your services or products, they very well may know others who can.  Also develop your verbal business card.

3) Find a way to deliver your pitch in less than a minute.  Ann Convery (www.anncovery.com) is the expert at this.  Utilizing her Speak Your Business in 30 Seconds or Less technique you can develop much more than an elevator pitch; she helps businesses craft their verbal brand.  Once you’ve developed this you have a powerful and effective way to describe your business and give prospects a call to action.

4) Once you developed your 30 second verbal brand, build on that and come up with stories and pitches that you can send to the media.  When pitching the media, position yourself as a resource instead of a sales force. This is particularly important to keep in mind when calling producers or editors to follow up on a PR pitch. When defining your media message, be specific. Sharpen your story. You may have numerous talents, you may have several stories to tell, but don’t try to tell them all at once. You don’t want a one-note campaign, but you do have to play each note individually. If you slam all of the piano keys down at once, you don’t get music, you get noise. What you’re looking for is melody, music. You can tell your various stories, but don’t try to give them to the media all at once, tell them sequentially.  Come up with five or six different topics or hooks that you can comfortably and expertly address. Now put them in order. Prioritize them. Don’t pitch all of our stories to the media at the same time. You want to be targeted and succinct in you media pitches. An effective public relations campaign can be your strongest marketing and branding tool

5) Offer your services as a speaker.  Offer to speak on your topic for free. Your objective is not to make money from the speeches themselves, but to make contacts, establish yourself as an expert and have prospects find you via your speaking engagements.

6) Create an attractive, functional website to drive prospects to.  Make sure and have your URL on your card.  Consider creating a blog and position yourself as an expert in your field.  Go on various social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and post your blogs.  Also post information that would be of help to your clients and prospective clients.

Bonus tip) Post and traditional media coverage that you land on your site, your blog and on the various social media sites.  This is one way you can maximize your media coverage and turn a local story global.

There are countless other ways to market your business.  But these are some good tried and true ways.  Start here and start to build your business.  After awhile review your marketing mix and see what’s working the best for you. Soon you’ll find the right fit for your ultimate marketing campaign.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2010

How Much Time Should You Spend Marketing Your Business?

How much time you should spend on marketing is a question every business owner needs to answer.  The tricky part is there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

Your Message

One definite is to make sure that all of your business information is clear, concise and focuses more on your clients or customers needs than on your biography.  You need a website (that’s not optional) so make sure you present yourself in a way that interests your prospective clients and includes a call to action.  You need to establish a sense of urgency if you want visitors to do more than simply read your copy and move on.  If they are going to hit an opt-in button, or are going to email or call, they need a compelling reason to do so.  Make it clear how you’re going to help your customers, why they need you and why they need you – now!    If you’re not a good copywriter, hire one.  But make sure that the copy reflects who you are, not who the copywriter is.  Know your market and focus on speaking directly to that market and its needs.

Networking

Create a good networking and support system.  If you can get others to recommend you, or point prospects in your direction, that makes life much easier.  But actively networking can take time and money.  If you are spending hours driving to and attending networking events start to measure how much money they are bringing in.  People often confuse activity with productivity.  That can be a dangerous trap.  Some people also use networking as a substitute for a social life.  Be clear on why you’re networking, if it’s paying off and, if not, how you can modify your approach.

Various Marketing Options

Those are your basics, now comes the harder decisions.  What type of marketing should you do and how long should you spend on the process?  To come up with the right formula for you and your business, you need to define what goals and business objectives you want to accomplish.  The answer is going to be different depending on if you’re launching a new business, introducing a new product, or launching a campaign to reach a different market.  The one constant in this formula is that for a marketing campaign to be effective, it needs to be consistent.  Marketing does not work like a fire sale; it is not a quick fix.  It takes time, effort and consistency.

Marketing Budget

Develop a marketing budget based on your needs, time and resources.  If you can outsource and hire professionals to run your marketing campaign, do so.  If you’re on a shoestring budget and need to wear the marketing hat, along with all of the other business hats, spend some time and money on a good marketing consultant and set up a program that is effective and realistic.  Remember your job is to run your business; spending 75% of your time on marketing is not the wisest use of your time.

Maximize your marketing by creating a synergistic marketing program.  Spending all of your budget on a one-time ad or commercial is not a marketing plan, but a Vegas style gamble.  If you’re working on a tight budget, consider a marketing mix that includes public relations, social media, and blogging.  These approaches reinforce one another.  You can place an article you were featured in on Facebook and post your newest blog on Twitter.  Done correctly, the sum is greater than its parts and in time you can create an effective inbound marketing machine.

Time

That still begs the question how much of your time should you spend marketing.  There is no one answer, but you can come up with a basic formula.  When you launch a business chances are your going to have more time than clients.  That’s okay, that’s the nature of a start up.  Use that bulk of your time to market.  Write articles about your business and your company, blog, develop a presence on social media sites; pitch yourself and your company to the local and national media.  As your company begins to take off, keep the marketing in high gear, but start hiring professionals to do many of the jobs you were doing.  Hire a copyrighter, a PR firm, a social media expert.  Pretty soon you’ll be overseeing your marketing but not running it all on your own.  That is a sure sign that you’re headed in the right direction.    Approach marketing as an essential.  Err on the side of marketing more rather than less.  It will pay off in the long run

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2010

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