Do It If You Can Measure It

I had a good friend and colleague ask me my opinion the other day about attending a women’s expo sell a cookbook she recently published for sale.  She started to the conversation by first telling me she needed some business advice, then proceeded to ask me if I have ever been to an Ultimate Women’s Expo.  I have, I’ve been to one.  And I told her so.  I told her all the things they had readily available for the attendees including a panel of women experts to talk about health, workshops that spoke of expanding your income and giveaways throughout the event.  Then she asked me should she be an exhibitor at one.

My answer to her was “Do it if you can measure it.”

She went on to tell me all the things she’d want use the venue for — sell her cookbook, have little recipe cards ready to hand out, have her promotional t-shirts for sale, possibly do a giveaway and interact with other women there.  She continued by telling me all the things they had to offer for exhibitors at this two-day event.  I could tell she was excited about it because she told me it was “the perfect venue to sell, market and promote [my] recipes to active and enthusiastic women, all searching for great fashion, beauty, health, nutrition, fitness, financial planning, careers, home decor, direct sales opportunities and more!”

I said it again, “Do it if you can measure it.”

I don’t think she entirely understood what I meant when I told her that.  She replied asking if I could look into it for her and see if it’s something she should do.  I told I could (and I will) and let her know my thoughts once I delve into it.  But what I meant by “do it if you can measure it” is that I didn’t want her to walk blindly into something without having a measurable goal in mind.  If she wants to sell her books at the expo, then she would need look at the number of past attendees, see how many other vendors attended last year, how many of them sold their products, which vendors were similar to hers and figure out from those number how many she could aim to sell.  Yeah, it seems like a lot of work (the right way always is), but it’s better than losing out on a whole lot of money needlessly.

The same would apply to interactions and networking, since that was a goal of hers too.  I do this all the time.  Whenever I drag myself out to a networking event, my goal is to meet and keep in touch with 5 new people.  I don’t ever change that number, actually.  5 is a simple number to keep up with.  I can email 5 new people when I return home from the event, I can call 5 new people to schedule a meeting with, and I can share useful information with 5 new people.  And from those 5 new people, I can measure my success in building a relationships.  Even if only 2 or 3 people keep in touch with me afterwards, that’s a 40-60% of  new people addition to my network.  Not bad.

Do it if you can measure it.

Social Media Isn’t Your Problem

Social media isn’t your problem.  You think it’s your problem, but it really isn’t.  If someone sat you down and showed you how to set of a few platforms, upload videos and photos, schedule posts, ask for likes and comments, and return the favor, you could do it.  It is much simpler than what business owners imagine it to be.  Granted, it does require a little finesse, above average writing skills and time –obviously — but, social media isn’t your problem.  Knowing how to engage with social media… that’s your problem.

Be honest, how many of us thought that just setting up a Twitter account and a Facebook account was going to be enough for our business?  We thought if we had one or two pictures, the business contact info and a little somethin’-somethin’ about the business, people would visit and magically all on their own, convert themselves from visitors to customers.  How well did that work out for us?

First off, “enough” is the word we never want to use in business.  Businesses that are doing just enough are going out of business.  So, let’s unwrap our heads around this idea of “enough”.  Secondly, treat social media like a person.  A person who we are conversing with — well, in person.  Aside from the spam bots, there are people out there behind those profiles, likes and comments.  Talk to them as if they were sitting right across the way.  Social media and online marketing are such a staple in conversations for businesses that I feel like I’m beating a dead horse when I bring it up.  But so many business owners — home kitchen chefs, garage engineers, bathroom mixers, attic artists, and back yard scientists — are not even giving their ideas and businesses a chance because they’re failing to use social media the right way.

LinkedIn — Don’t just accept or extend an invitation to connect.  Communicate.  Yeah, we may have over 500 connections, but if you don’t message, endorse or share worthwhile information, then those 500 plus connections are meaningless.

Google + — Yeah, many of us have added someone or something to a circle, but what does that mean?   What makes that circle and those group of people special or relevant?  Get personal and personalize.  Not everyone wants the same thing even if it’s from the same company.

Twitter — Just about everyone and their mama has a Twitter account.  But it sucks when people start un-following us and we have no idea why.  Maybe you’re not conversing enough or at all!  Twitter is all about the conversation.  So get to talking.  Ask questions, answer questions, search what your customers are looking for and share — again — useful info.

Facebook — The Godfather of social media, right?  If that’s case, then this is the social media we should be crafty with.  Visually.  If we don’t know exactly what to share on Facebook, log on into our personal account and see what our friends are sharing and reading.  Then see what their friends are sharing and reading.  We’ll find memes, photos and videos dominate Facebook.  So, get visual but remain informative.

Social media isn’t the problem, it’s all about how well we use it for our business.  If you took the time to build the business, take time to market the business.

February Save The Dates

Check out these February events for those in the Greater Los Angeles area.  No matter what business you’re thinking about going into, or if you’ve already started your own company, there are events here for all levels of business owners and entrepreneurs,

 

  • February 4th – Taking Your Grant Writing Research Skills to The Next Level Event organized by eCivis, Inc. from 9am – 4pm PST.  Event cost is $299 for the early bird fee, $349 for general admission.
  • February 5th FREE Self-Publishing Workshop located at 1246 Glendon Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (Westwood Library Branch) from 6-8pm PST hosted by the Toastmasters District One Speakers Bureau Workshop Committe, for more info, visit http://bit.ly/1fOqo6d
  • February 6thFREE Website Building Tools Class hosted by the Valley Economic Development Center from 6-8pm PST located at 5121 Van Nuys Blvd., 3rd Floor Van Nuys, CA 91403; from more information or to register, email hassali@vedc.org
  • February 6th – 8th – How To Sell To Women FREE Virtual Training Event hosted by Lisa Sasevich; to register http://bit.ly/1eHENio
  • February 7th – Women 2.0 Founder Friday, located at the Regus 3415 South Sepulveda, suite 1100 Los Angeles, CA 90034 from 6:30 to 9pm PST.  General admission starts at $22.09.  Visit http://bit.ly/1er4gjT for more information and to register
  • February 8thFREE Marketing and Promotions Event organized by the Business Entrepreneurship Club.  Event will take place the LA Mission College located at 13356 Elridge Ave, Los Angeles 91342 from 10am – 12pm PST.  Contact Dr. Norris Dorsey at  818.402.5050 and/or register at http://bit.ly/ML8CIQ
  • February 10th  — FREE Start Up Dos & Don’ts/ Business Plan class from 6-8pm PST hosted by the Valley Economic Development Center located at 5121 Van Nuys Blvd., 3rd Floor Van Nuys, CA 91403; from more information or to register, email hassali@vedc.org
  • February 10th – California Small Business Development Center is offering a How to Write a Business Plan Class for $40, hosted by Santa Monica College. Event takes place from 9am to 1pm PST on the campus.  To register, visit http://bit.ly/1fzdI51
  • February 19th – 2014 – 2015 Annual Economic Forecast and Industry Outlook hosted by the LA County Economic Development Corporation from 7 -10:30pm PST at the L.A. Hotel Downtown located at 333 Figueroa St, Los Angeles 90071; general admission is $155 if purchased by Feb. 14th.  Register at http://bit.ly/1acMC3E
  • February 26th – March 1st –  Black Enterpise Women of Power Summit hosted by State Farm held at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida.  Deadline to register for general admission is February 7th at $1395.  After February 7th, tickets to the event go up to $1695.  For more information visit, http://bit.ly/1ildZsN

(additional events may be added)

 

 

Use The Science Of Persuasion As A Marketing Tool

 

 

I love videos like these.   Something about having a well informed animated video is much more interesting than listening to someone yak on and on.  I can admit, I still watch car-toons from time to time.  School House Rock was the best with it’s ‘I’m just an ordinary bill’ — although it no longer airs.  More importantly, the video shares wonderful knowledge about persuasion in relation to getting people to buy one’s product or services.  And I know many of us have seen, if not had,  one of these experiences  — such as receiving mints at the end of our meal at a restaurant — only to learn they’re a unique approach to marketing via persuasion.  Persuasion is marketing, essentially.  The goal is to get our target market to buy and prefer to buy whatever it is we are offering or selling over our competitors because we are either well-established, we’re a favorable company to do business with, we offer better deals and giveaways and/ or we have well-known positive reputationmar.

Which principle of persuasion would work best for your business?

{video credit: influenceatwork and  www.insideinfluence.com}

What Comes First: The Funding or The Planning?

For some of you, this is a no-brainer kind of question.  If we were on a game show, I would guess many of you would hit the buzzer for “planning”.  Duh!  It makes the most sense.  If there’s no plan in place, how can you ever fund the business?  But let’s change the scenario a bit — You have a great multi-dollar idea.  You don’t have all the details just yet and you definitely haven’t planned how this is all going to work out, but the idea is valuable.  To top it off, you’ve just landed yourself an investor!  You have a great idea followed by a great pitch.  After bouncing the idea off a few friends and family you now have someone who’s willing to invest.  Let’s morph this wonderfully ideal dream back into a bit of reality and say that the investor has agreed to fund the business but of course, wants a business plan, a proposal, a timeline (a deadline, really) and whatever else to assure him this is a lucrative and probable investment.  All from an idea.

Funding

Think of all the in-the-shower ideas we had come to us.  What if your multi-million idea was just like that?  An idea that  was born out of some repetitive task or inspiration brought on by frustration that anyone in their right mind would want to jump on and be a part of.   But while you’re lathering up and rising off, did you bother to figure out how to find the right manufacturer, or commercial slot or print ads in every national paper?  Probably not.  But you still have the idea.

What if you don’t have an idea for a product, but rather a service.  Manufacturers are not needed, neither is inventory or stock and overhead is probably much more manageable.  But a service idea is harder to picture than a product idea, which even in it’s conception phase can be sketched out.  Do you seeking funding for that idea first, or do you plan first?

Planning

Truth of the matter, there is no real easy answer or right decision, at least not across the board.  Some people are better at selling and others are better at planning.  Sellers will pitch to investors and planners with dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’.  It’s also probably best that if you have a service based business idea, that you prepare a plan, an outline of what it is, what’s provided and how to get it from conception to realization.  The same goes for if you have a product based business idea.  But unlike a service idea, sometimes a concept is enough to win over the masses and a few investors.  That that conception has to be something that can be actualized.  And don’t feel bad if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like to write or focus too much on the itty-bitty details.  You can either outsourced that to someone else for a decent price or start building a team of people in which someone on your team can do that for you.  No matter what you idea is about, at some point planning is going to have to be involved and so will funds.  But in what you arrange them it’s up to and the idea.

{photo credits: dream designs and artur84 via freedigitalphotos.net}

How Important Is Patriotism to Businesses?

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We dedicate weeks and days to small businesses asking consumers to shop small. We reiterate the importance small business have on our economy and job growth. But when we think about the roles businesses play in our lives, do we ever consider how Important it is to buy and support businesses in and from our home country? We shop small, we shop local, and on a number of occasions, we’re ask to shop patriotically. As owners of these businesses, should we remind current and potential customers that we’re home-grown? Does it matter and to what degree? Are we possibly neglecting international business when we brand our products and services with patriotism? Should pride in our citizenry go hand in hand with our business?

March Entrepreneur Spotlight: Marco John Design

It’s been said that like minded people work well together.  However, when creative minds come together, they have power to share their unique vision and build incredible elements in this world.  As with the case of Marco Manansala, founder and head of the Marco John Design, he talks about the importance of branding for business and how creating an image for others has become his own.

Recently completed packaging design for one of Marco John Design's European clients, Scaramouche & Fandango, a high-end men's skin care brand

Recently completed packaging design for one of Marco John Design’s European clients, Scaramouche & Fandango, a high-end men’s skin care brand

A native to Los Angeles, Marco stumbled onto his passion through necessity and exploration.  While in college double majoring in Civil and Mechanical Engineering, Marco began graphic designing as a hobby for friends and family as a way to pay for his school tuition and expenses.  He was simply helping those he knew create marketable visuals for their businesses and projects.  It didn’t take the completion of his college degree for him to figure out that his right brain had just as much potential than left brain was giving him credit for.  What started out as a side gig later developed into his own business after making the decision to change majors to study graphic design.  Now his company, Marco John Design, is a full-fledged branding and design studio.  [MJD’s] goal is to create brands that visually stand out from competitors, giving even the smallest start-ups the ability to compete with larger brands. This stems from the understanding that all creative work must begin with an idea. Without an idea, a design is merely something that looks good. Ideas are what generate interest and connections with the target market. Designs on the other hand should support the brand and its goals. This is how businesses stay consistent, and consistency is one important aspect of any successful brand.”

As with any new business owner, starting the business is not always the challenge until you learn that you have to actually run it.  “I would have loved for someone to tell me how much time and effort it takes to maintain the back-end of the business. The branding and design [are] the easy parts. It’s running the business that creates the headaches.” And even though challenges arise from time to time, he finds that having an imaginative people working with him and support friends and family, makes the obstacles less daunting of a task to tackle.  It’s been through trial and error that Marco has been able to perfect his both his craft and his business affairs. Such improvements and self teaching has lead to much of his success and relationships with a number of companies.

Marco John Design has worked “..with several local, national and international brands in the automotive, real estate, music, service, health and beauty, restaurant, non-profit, scholastic, construction, spirits/wines, and engineering fields.” It’s through of word of mouth that the company has garnered such respect and business from other companies in a variety of industries.  In spite of the service and education he provides to his clients, he continues to see businesses, small business particularly, make mistakes when it comes to branding.  That is, businesses do nothing in the way of branding their companies.  They focus on marketing, and not the direction and message of their business.  “Keep in mind, that a smart business will always invest in branding and marketing. However, a successful business will invest in idea-driven branding and marketing. Having an idea in place before attacking the problem leads to better results, more PR and lower costs. ” 

In the four years Marco John Design has be operational, Marco has learn to let his business speak for itself.  When you have something great and a committed team on board constantly pushing the envelop, the hype doesn’t matter.  The lessons matter.  The experience and self education matter.  And it’s always found on an unexpected journey. 

“For those ready to work with a friendly and helpful team of Creatives that will involve them in every step of the process, they can reach us at hello@marcojohndesign. Viewers can also follow us on facebook at facebook.com/MarcoJohnDesign and on twitter at twitter/MarcoJohnDesign.”

{photo credit: Matthew Joseph Photography}