Expand Your Business Literacy

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As marketing and public relations professionals (or someone that may wear this hat), it is extremely important that you increase your business literacy. In order to have a stellar marketing and communication plan, it is necessary to have an in depth understanding of the business.

Here are a few suggestions on what you can do to learn more about the business that you are in:

1. Understand the hierarchy. Who reports to whom and who makes what decisions.

2. How does your organization make a profit? Which products or services have the largest profit margin?

3. What is the length of time it takes to turn a profit in your organization?

4. What are the short and long term goals of your company?

5. How can you add value to the organization?

Marketing is Visual

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The popularity of sites like Pinterest and Instagram have added to the importance of visual marketing. Take this opportunity to review your brand visually. Look at the images that you are putting forth. Are the images saying what you would like them to say about your brand?

It is also important to look at the fonts you are using, the colors that are associated with your brand, and the artwork that you may use. People by nature are visual, take this opportunity to align your visual image with your brand.

5 Lessons Any Small Business Owner Can Learn from Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A is doing customer service right!

First, for those of you that are not familiar with Chick-fil-A, it is an Atlanta based quick service chicken restaurant chain. According to their website, they are the second largest operation of their kind with more than 1,615 restaurants in 39 states. In 2011, the restaurant reached $4.1 billion in sales. Chick-fil-A is credited with creating the first boneless breast of chicken sandwich.

What is impressive and what I think small business owners can learn from Chick-fil-A is the culture that they have created within not only their management team, but also their sales associates. The politeness of of all of the associates oozes the idea that the employees are happy to work at Chick-fil-A. The associates always make an attempt to go above and beyond in their service that they are providing to you.

My family frequents Chick-fil-A’s in several states. The customer service results are the same. Our neighborhood location keeps a line in the drive thru the majority of the day.

The founder, Truett Cathy, implemented a Closed-On-Sunday policy since the opening of the first restaurant in 1946. Although he caught a lot flack for this decision, Cathy states that this is one of the best business decisions that he ever made. The company still continues to compete well in the area profitability against companies that are open 7 days a week.

So, here are my top 5 lessons for the small business owner when using Chick-fil-A as a case study:

1. Put the people in your organization first. When others here that a company respects it’s employees, that particular company does not have a problem attracting top candidates. This is easy to see in the caliber if employee hired at Chick-fil-A.

2. Allow employees to spend time with their families. WorkLife Balance is something that many organizations struggle with today.

3. Many people have some sort of spiritual thirst. Not saying that all companies have to implement a Closed-On-Sunday policy, but respecting employees spiritual desire will go along way towards the success if a company,

4. Develop a positive culture from the top down. The managers in Chick-fil-A model the behavior that they expect. In turn, the associates provide the customers with top quality service.

5. The product sold is always properly prepared. From the oatmeal to a chicken caesar wrap, the quality does not diminish. And, if a customer is given something that they feel is not top quality, then it is PLEASANTLY exchanged.

Make customer service a priority in your organization immediately. Learn from those that have a formula for success.

I hope that you enjoyed this post. And in the words of any Chick-fil-A associate, “It’s my pleasure!”

Are your leads working for you?

So, you have a lot of followers on Twitter, you have increased the number of Facebook likes you have on you Facebook business page, and your email database is growing by leaps and bounds.  Has any of this translated into solid business for your company?  For many, the answer is a resounding ‘NO.’

According to Gleanster Research, 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy (via HubSpot).  This means that if you are a marketer or you wear the marketing hat at your organization, it is past time to begin nurturing your leads. Let 2012 be the year that you stop sitting idle with luke warm leads in your systems that need to be converted to paying customers. After you have reached this revelation, your mind will tend to start coming with a series of questions on making these conversions happen. The top question we hear at Selsi Enterprises is probably……”What are the best ways to nurture the leads that you already have in your system?”

Here is my answer in a nutshell:

  1. First and foremost, you must understand your audience.  As a marketer, you need to take a look at your sales cycle.  Do a little research on how long it actually takes from the point when someone discovers your product or service to the point that they are actually ready to make a purchase.
  2. Clearly define your goals and objectives when seeking to nurture leads. Are you looking to reawaken old leads or are you looking to generate new leads? Put a numerical value on the success of your campaign.
  3. When you get a lead, respond to them quickly.  According to HubSpot, 35% to 50% of sales go the vendors that are the first to respond.  The likelihood of converting a lead to sale greatly diminishes the farther away the time is from the initial contact made by the lead.
  4. Maintain contact with your lead.  Develop a drip marketing campaign that shows that you and/or your organization are the expert in the field that you are servicing.
  5. Finally, never stop learning about your customers! Always look for ways that you can continue to fulfill the needs of your customer base.

Don’t Fail to Plan

Don't Fail To Plan

It is that time to year to reflect on 2011 and plan for 2012.  This is one activity that you do not want to put off any longer. All successful small businesses grew by strategically planning the route that was best for their organization.  Do not overthink this task!  Sit down with a calendar of the previous year.  Look at what you did and evaluate the success or failure of your business growth strategy.  Did you add the number of new clients that you had hoped? Did you attend the training seminars that you needed to attend?  Did you increase your profits by the margins that you needed to over the year?

After this reflection, it is time to move forward.  You cannot change 2011, but you can plan 2012 in a manner that will set you up for success. First, select your objectives for the year.  These objectives are your areas of focus for the entire year.  I think that many people mess up when they significantly stray from their original objectives.

Secondly, sit with your calendar of choice.  Something as simple as the calendar in Google’s Gmail can get you started.  I like this calendar because you can have multiple calendars in one.  You can invite others to view your calendar and you can set up reminders that come to your smart phone. When you have decided on your calendar, let the fun begin. Look at every component of your business from the events you may need to plant to the events that you would like to attend.  Leave no stone unturned.

Know that this calendar is a living document.  Just because you pencil items into your calendar in a certain order, it does not mean that they have to stay that way.  Don’t hesitate to reevaluate your plan at least monthly.  Make sure that you are keeping on track with your objectives and key messages.

There are many of you that already do a great job planning ahead.  Please feel free to share your tips on creating your plan. This is a weakness for many small business owners and nonprofits.  At Selsi Enterprises, it is our hope to share as many tips as we can to help your business or nonprofit reach its’ full potential!

Cheers to a successful 2012!

Marketing Plan Check Up

We are over half way through the year and it is time to reflect back on the success of your current marketing plan.  In order to gain a detailed look into your success, objectively take a “step” back and outline the goals you were hoping to achieve from your campaign.  Determine if you had elements in place to actually measure the outcomes accurately.  Pull out the accounting of how much you spent and a tracking of all of the free and ‘paid for’ elements that were included in your plan.

So, now that you have done all of your prep work.  Let’s take a close to look to see where you are at and where you need for go for the rest of the year.  Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Did our marketing campaign raise awareness of our product or service? We are able to measure this by ________________________.

2. Did the dollars spent on the marketing campaign yield the results we were hoping for with the campaign?

3. Are their pieces of the marketing campaign that need to be removed from the line up due to the fact that they did not result in meeting the company objectives?

4. Are their pieces of the campaign that we need to make sure stays in the campaign for the remainder of the year?

5.  If we were to add something new to our marketing campaign, it would be _________.

This list of questions is a great place to start when examining the success or failure of a marketing campaign.  The company’s that take the time to reflect back on their marketing campaigns are the company’s the see the most success.

What’s Your Objective

As marketing communicator’s, many of us are making 2011 plans to improve brand engagement with customers. It is important to pick solid objectives and stick with them throughout the year. Many times, it is not necessary to change our objectives drastically from year to year. It is important to carefully evaluate what direction you need to take your brand.

Step 1: Evaluate the marketplace – Fully understand the environment that you are working in. Understand everything from your competitors to pricing strategy. Do not leave any stone unturned when examining the current marketspace. Building off of a strong foundation will help improve your growth potential.

Step 2: Survey the target market. Go straight to your customers/clients and ask questions. Find out what they like and dislike about your product or service. Understand the needs of your customers and your potential customers. Find out why your potential customers are not converting. There are some reasons that you may be able to address immediately.

Step 3: Design strategic objectives. Once you conduct the above mentioned research to your satisfaction, establish some key objectives that you must accomplish in the upcoming year. Determine your messaging based on your objectives. The key – STAY FOCUSED!

Success comes when you stay focused on your objectives and do not let anything cause you stray. Revisit your written objectives often. STAY FOCUSED!

Time to Set Your 2011 Integrative Marketing Goals

This year, I would like to challenge all to take the offensive approach on strategic planning for 2011.  Before the busy holiday season hits, sit down and reflect on the past year.  Take an honest look at all of your efforts, how potential customers have joined or not joined one of your networks, and if they have actually converted into business for your company.  If you have not been as successful as you would have liked to have been in 2010, then now is the time to alter what you are doing to make 2011 better.

 Regardless of the fact that you are a small business owner or if you work for a large organization, marketers should be the driving force in company’s strategic planning efforts. In today’s competitive environment, it is not about throwing more money at the marketing budget but about being more strategic in how you are engaging with your customers. A simple ad in the newspaper will not convince someone to make a purchase any longer and those that are going to be successful in the near future will be the individuals that embrace our new environment.

 If you have not begun to think about your 2011 plans, here are a few places to start:

 1. Evaluate what you are currently doing.

2. Review all of your key messages.

3. Determine the objectives that you must achieve.

4. Examine what your competitors are currently doing.

5. Think like a content creator and figure out a way to publish more info in to the social mediasphere.

6. Put your plan in writing and revisit it several times before the year is over.

 When 2011 roles in, you should have a plan that you can focus on and stick to throughout the year.  It is understandable to make minor changes, but those that are successful generally stay disciplined and focused to reach their goals.

 Happy Early Planning!!!