Archive for Marketing Your Business

Successful Communication Equals Business Success

1125736_busy_businessman_1How successful you are at communicating determines the degree to which you will be successful in business. Giving instructions, conducting interviews, presentations or selling all involve communication.  Where do you stand?

“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.”

Tony Robbins said that and he was right. The good news is that communication skills can always improved. Start by evaluating your current ability.

Here are a 5 ways to determine how successful you are at expressing yourself:

Ask for and listen to feedback. Most people are fearful of doing this. Few people like to hear the unvarnished truth about how well they come across to others. Yet, this may be the key to unlocking your business growth. Ask people you trust to give you an honest response. Ask a mix of family, friends and business associates to get a better profile. Then listen, really listen. Decide what might be true and choose to make some changes. Be open to the information and thank them for their honesty.

What kind of clients do you have? Are you working with people you enjoy and respect? Do they express themselves well? Do they recommend you to others? 

Would you want to associate with you? What message do you send to others about the people you socialize and do business with? Do you have a variety of associations? “You can’t fly with eagles if you’re hanging out with turkeys,” is a saying that holds a lot of truth. Take a critical look at your relationships and ask yourself if you need to make some changes.

How careful are you about your written or viral communications? Have you gotten lax about grammar and spelling? Do you speak or write in “text?” Do your articles, reports or books have numerous errors that erode your credibility?

How well do you follow-up? This is a big one. Success in personal and business relationships has everything to do with how well you follow-up. I’m including the courtesy of responding to an RSVP on an invitation. Failure to respond affects business—it doesn’t matter if it’s a wedding or a business function—the consequence is far reaching. If this were the benchmark for successful communication most people would be in trouble. On the business side, customer dissatisfaction is overwhelmingly about the lack of follow-up.

Take an honest look at these questions. Choose one you know you can change immediately and implement it now.

Leave me you thoughts. What burning question do you have about communicating in business?

Marketing and Selling Your Product or Service with Stories

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Don’t underestimate the lure of a compelling story to sell your product or service. Everyone relates to stories. Stories create the emotional connection that inspires people to buy.

Use stories to market your brand. Consider the products that have been created around folk tales, lore, myth or desire. Paul Newman’s products support his desire to help kids with health challenges. Ben and Jerry were two young guys that loved fun and ice cream and created a business model around those passions.

If you want customers to connect with you don’t be shy about incorporating your story into your marketing. Describe the circumstances that propelled you to start your business. What problem did you have that needed solving? Was necessity the mother-of-invention for your product? Did you feel an intuitive pull you couldn’t ignore? Were you fulfilling a childhood dream? Did an unfortunate event spur you to create a service others needed?

Encourage your customers to tell their stories. People love to talk about their experiences so make it easy for them.

Here are a few ways to help your raving customers generate good stories:

  • Hold a contest.  Give a prize for the funniest, most inspirational, or unexpected good result that came from using your product or service.
  • Give an instant discount or bonus for an original 7-word story praising your product. Use social networking sites to reach more people.
  • Make story telling easy by creating a fill-in-the blanks form or supply the first sentence of a story to jump start your customer’s creative juices. Remind them to tell the truth—this is creative non-fiction not fantasy.
  • Collect the stories and create a book featuring your customers. The book can be used to encourage new customers to contribute to the next edition.

Start collecting customer stories today–it’s the most effective marketing you can do and you can’t beat the price.

How to Use Communication Skills to Market Your Business

431214_paper_peopleIf you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, who is looking for effective ways to market your business, you probably don’t think of your communication skills as a promotional tool.

All communication is a form of marketing or selling, no matter who you are speaking with. By sharpening your inter-personal skills you can increase the perceived value of your products and services.

Here are a few tips you can use to hone your soft skills for solid results:

1.  Smile more frequently. Wait—you probably think this is silly but the truth is that smiling changes everything. If you’re working long hours, trying to overcome challenges and dealing with frustrations you probably aren’t smiling much.

If you answer the phone or worse greet a customer in person while you’re managing the business of business, it’s unlikely that you’ll greet them with a smile. If you do remember to smile, I’m betting it won’t be genuine. This is unacceptable. You have a business because of those customers. Treat them with respect. Smile.

Smiling sends a powerful message about you and your business.  A stress-free, heartfelt smile invites clients or prospective customers to relax and trust you.  That’s a potent marketing tool. Don’t forget to smile when answering the phone. The tone and pitch of your voice will be more inviting—and people can tell if you’re smiling or not.

The best salespeople keep a small mirror by their phones to remind them to smile when they make or answer a call. Another tip is to post a note that says “smile-you’re making money” by your phone.

Studies show that men smile less frequently than women.  Perhaps they feel that smiling is sign of weakness, or they want to let you know who is in charge or they feel that an emotionless face helps to set boundaries.  The truth is that grinning while saying “no” to someone helps to preserve a business relationship. Whatever the reason, let it go and smile more. It costs nothing and the returns are priceless.

2. Clean up your conversation. This isn’t a reminder to lose the four-letter words from your conversations (that should go without saying.) It is a reminder to eliminate  rambling thoughts, garbled grammar, mumbling and jargon, from  your communication. You don’t hear yourself as others do so record a few phone calls and casual conversations to see how you really sound to others. After listening to the play back, ask yourself if you would do business with you?

This doesn’t mean you need to speak with grammatical perfection or even in complete sentences–that’s not how people talk.  It’s a nudge to take a moment to think about your purpose and intentions for what you are about to say in an effort to make it easier for others to follow you.

If your printed marketing materials send one message but your verbal communication sends another that’s a congruency problem. Get them aligned to increase your credibility!

3. Ask more questions. Listen more than talk. Your customers will tell you everything you need to know about what to market and what products they need. You’re in business to solve their problems so make sure you know what their problems are. Don’t assume you know. Ask questions. Do surveys. Invite suggestions. Don’t market a product you’re in love with but doesn’t serve the needs of your customer. Pay attention and ask clarifying questions. Your business depends on it.

These three essential communication skills don’t cost time or money but they can increase your value to your market.  Smile.