Schedule Time for Thinking

jogger[1]This morning I set out for an exercise session as usual. Because I am away from home for a few day I took the opportunity to head out around a lovely lake here in Perth, Western Australia for a nice run. Last night I had made sure that my ipod was uploaded with my latest downloads of teleseminars that I like to catch up on while I am out running. Only a few minutes into my run, I was totally peeved off!! My ipod battery was as flat as a tack. Bummer. I wondered how on earth I was going to make it through my hours run (especially with my currently declining level of fitness these days), without interesting to listen to.

At least I can enjoy the surroundings I thought, as I put one step in front of the other and took off into a light jog. Before long, I found my mind ‘scanning’ across several little issues that needed decisions made on them, but I had been putting them off for lack of time to ‘think them through’. One by one, I worked through these little matters and before I knew it, I was almost at the end of the run, and feeling just great.

I concluded that this real ‘time-out’ session had actually been so valuable as a ‘thinking’ session. It reminded me that I had once been a great advocate for ‘thinking’ time, but have to admit that as my business continues to grow at great speeds and there are so many other demands on my time, that this practice has gradually slipped from the radar. I declared to myself that “It is time to bring back the thinking time”.

I strongly recommend this for you too. Especially when things seem to be extra busy – this is the most important time to make sure that you have some schedule time for planning and thinking. It could be while you are out for a run like me, or it may be scheduled time in a coffee shop on your own, or simply some time-out in your office. Where ever it is, schedule the time and then action it. It will allow you to ensure you clear out some of the tasks that may only be small, yet hold onto a large portion of your mind unnnecessarily.

I am going right now to decide where in my week is my ‘thinking’ time going to be. Leave a comment and let me know if you have ‘thinking’ time, or how you are going to implement some now into your week.

Are You Using Social Media in Your Business Plan?

I know, I know.  I can hear many of you saying that you think this social media stuff is all just a lot of hype
and just for the kids to send silly messages to one another.  Well, when many of the social media sites such
as Facebook, Twitter etc first started, you were probably right.  Now however, whether you like it or not,
they are becoming – actually no, they HAVE become an integral part of any successful business plan.
If you are not already using them, chances are you are wondering if you should be. Or if you are already
using them and not seeing the results you want, here are some useful tips that may help.

There are many small business owners that find the thought of commencing a Social Media campaign for
their business nothing short of daunting and time wasting.  They can help you increase your website traffic,
establish you as an industry expert, build a brand for yourself and your business and increase your sales.

Increase Your Website Traffic

You can bring traffic to you and your website both directly and indirectly using Social media tools. Because
the social media sites are rich with links to sites, this means the Search Engines love them.  The advantage of
this to you is that your site is given more organic search engine traffic.
It is known that sites listed in the organic searches (those on the left hand side of any search you do), will
have a high rate of visitor conversion.  The beauty of this is that prospects find your site naturally instead of
via paid advertising campaigns, this saves you money.
Beyond the search engine optimization (SEO) power of these sites, people will click on your links. Those
who follow you or subscribe to your updates could also share your links with their own online social circles.
The viral aspect of social marketing is one of the things that make it so powerful.

Establish yourself as an expert

Add your own comments on a regular basis, you will start to build up a visibility for yourself.  You can make comments on information you have that is useful to others, you can add a comment to one of your Friends’ posts etc.  This lets people know who you are and what you are up to.  Remembering that prospects will buy from people they know, like and trust means that social media is one of the easiest ways to build that relationship. The Social Media sites allow you to answer questions and direct people to links to your website, articles, and blogs, as well as business profiles where you can begin to work at converting them into a customer.

Build brand recognition

Once you establish an online following, more people will become aware of who you are and what you do. People searching for people in your industry or your company will also be able to obtain more information about you because they will be directed to profiles.
By maintaining the same profile on all your sites and socializing in online circles, you can build recognition—not only can you talk about your expertise and your company’s offerings but you can share links, add your URL to your profile, and also directly converse with clients and prospects.

Increase sales (and profit!)

By being skilful in your online activities, you could intrigue prospects who will visit your website or profile for more information.  From there, your outstanding sales techniques and relationship building will take over.  Before you know it, you will have increased sales for a very low cost outlay!
Here are some of the social media tools you can use to your business’s advantage:
If this is you, there here are the first simple steps to take:

Twitter

Log on to http://www.twitter.com  .  This one is really simple.  A couple of basic details and your account is
open and running.  Again, using the search function, search for people you know that you would like to
follow.  Twitter is a different environment from Facebook and you will see that your posts can only be a
maximum of 140 characters long.
Keep your entries short, sweet and mostly useful.  You can include links to your website, blog, promotions,
events, services and other info.  This can spike the interest of readers who can then click your link or re-tweet
(post your update in their timeline to their followers, who may decide to ‘follow’ your updates as well). This
will again build your credibility within your industry and give prospects a sense of getting to know you more
personally.  Twitter fan prove to be quite lucrative.

Facebook

Facebook is a popular tool used socially. From a business perspective, you can also use it to network with existing or potential customers. It is possible to create interest groups, Fan pages, profiles where you can talk to prospects, announce promotions, events, business developments and more.
In the search function at the top of the screen, enter the name of people you know are successful in your
industry, or people of interest from a business perspective, that you want to ‘add as a friend’. You can even
search for your current clients and add them as Friends. A simple way to get going is to enter my name Fay
McLean and click on the ‘Request to add as a Friend’ button. This is how you gradually add friends to your
facebook.

As you become more comfortable with Facebook you can also create targeted advertising campaigns that
provide ads to customers within a particular demographic.  Contextual advertising targets particular age
groups, geographical areas, hobbies, and interests, and displays ads when specific keywords are present in
conversations.

Digg

Digg, a popular news-sharing site, lists links in order of popularity. Submit blog posts, URLs, and videos that are categorized for others who may be searching on that topic. Submissions are given a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” by users, and more “thumbs up” equals more positive exposure. Digg can bring website traffic via search engines, also.
Where do you start?
There are several different options available here, so consider which of them would be most suitable you’re your business, and start there.  Once you become comfortable, you may decide to give other sites a try.  Experimentation and tracking of results will help you decide where you should focus the time you allocate to social marketing.

Suggested rules in social marketing

There are recommended dos and don’ts to stick by to ensure your social media success. Here are some of the tips to make your use of these sites as successful as possible.
• Do interact with others and contribute valuable information and resources.
• It’s okay to be controversial, but avoid getting involved in conflicts or debates.
• Do take time to learn the rules and etiquette of each social site you join.
• Don’t be a spammer (someone who overdoes promotion and provides little value). Consider your ratio of useful information vs self promotion as 5:1
• Don’t overdo it and make social networking counter-productive.
• Track your results from these sites so you can decide where your energy is best spent.

5 Rules for Getting to the Top of Your Niche

Copy of Pictures 043Whilst being on holidays, what typically happens did…although I kept active, I did not keep up the level of physical activity that I would do normally when I am at home.  So first morning home I got back on my bike and went for a cycle.  Feeling that I was at less than my normal level of fitness, I decided to take to the roads on my own rather than hook up with the regular group ride.  As I puffed, panted and struggled my way up the hills and enjoyed the down slopes (which were all much too short), I realized how much harder the ride was on my own.  I really wanted to be with the group, being taken along in their windbreak and being able to chat about how great life is whilst out on the road; being motivated by the success that others were having in their training and events.

So I hear you say “What’s this all got to do with my business?”

Well, this scenario is so much the same as when we are in business.  It is so easy to feel that you are not ‘as good’ as some of the ‘big’ guys in your industry.  My training ride inspired me to write this article as lessons to be learnt while riding a bike!

Persistence: Don’t allow the fact that you may have had some ‘down’ time as an excuse for not reaching for the stars once again.  If you find yourself having a break in routine or something personal comes along and creates a ‘lull’ in your progress then it is time to pick yourself up and refocus on the big goals that you have set yourself in business.  There will be days when things don’t quite go your way or you will be disheartened. Don’t allow the ‘small stuff’ to stand in your way.

Get With a Group: Doing things on your own is the hardest and slowest way to make progress.  The motivation and support that you get from being part of a mentoring group, a forum or mastermind of like minded individuals can catapult your progress.  Even though you may find that you are not up to the level of expertise of others in your group, you will learn very quickly from them, and there will always be skills and expertise that you can take to the table.

Set Goals: Be specific on what you actually want to achieve.  As a cyclist competing in half ironman events, I certainly had a very specific goal to aim for.  In business it is no different.  Determine what you specifically want as your business or personal target.  If you want to make more money, how much?  If you want to get in better shape, how do you want to look?  Once you have determined exactly what your goals are, write them down and keep them close to you at all times.

Have a Plan: Being specific about your goals will mean that you can create a very accurate plan on exactly how you are going to achieve them.  As a triathlete, my training plan was extremely specific down to what training needed to be done each morning and afternoon of every day.  Once the plan was created, it became very easy to follow the program, and without a doubt, achieve a great finish in each race.

Reasons Why: Remind yourself of the reasons why it is so important you must achieve this goal.  The motivation for what you want to achieve is critical. What will you be able to do that you cannot do now after you achieve this goal? Make sure your reasons are big and compelling.  Perhaps it might be moving to a bigger home, being able to help your children to do something special, help your family who may be struggling themselves.  Whatever your reason is, feel that motivation deep down in your bones.

 

5 Tips on Getting Past Procrastination

How many times have you looked at your to-do-list and just wanted to put your head on the table and have it all go away?  As self-employed people it is common that as we prioritize things, others get quickly shoved to the back burner.  The thing is, if any of the items on your to-do-list are in relation to your marketing and increasing profits, then you are sabotaging yourself by ignoring them.  Before you know it, you will have few clients and your income will be drying up quicker than paint in the sun.

Procrastination tends to rear its ugly head in my business every now and then.  Often, it is more overwhelm than procrastination.  When the list is so overwhelming, I tend to move into a state of avoidance and simply sit like a stunned mullet rather than just deal with it.  Is this something you have ever felt?

In real terms, you know that you must market yourself and your service.  This will sometimes mean that you just need to take the bull by the horns and get on with it.  I have come up with an effective action checklist that allows me to move from procrastination to massive action:

Prioritize: It does not matter how long your list is, the quickest way to take action is to sort out what sort of return you will get for the investment on each item on the list (outcome-wise, financially, time).  Once you have done this, sort them according to the one that will return you the greatest benefit (eg. revenue and clients) for the least output or effort.  This is the item that you should start with.

Obstacles: So then, what else could be getting in your way?  It might be that you done have all the information you need.  It could be that one piece of the puzzle is missing.  Or perhaps you don’t know how to do one aspect of it.  So determine what it is that is preventing you from moving forward, get really clear on it and find the resources to make the change.

Time: Is it going to take AGES?  Sometimes I have noticed that I will put off moving on a marketing task because I perceive that it will take me a really long time.  This is often not the case.  Ask yourself how long the task will realistically take, then make a note of just how long you expect it will take you to accomplish each of the tasks on your list.

Schedule: Look at your calendar and determine just where you will make the time for each of the tasks you have determined as priority.  Make an ‘appointment’ for each of the tasks as if it were a client appointment.  Even if it is only you yourself that is involved, make that commitment to yourself, and turn up to do the job when it is scheduled!

Action: The only thing left is to take action and just do it!!  Once you have these appointments in your diary you will be able to be clear on your focus and move through them as if you were a power house.   It’s really cool.

Remember, there is never a good time to start to rest on your laurels.  To think “Oh, I’m successful now, I don’t need to worry about that right now.”  If you study successful entrepreneurs, you will see that they never stop marketing. They are in fact always adding new ways to get their message out to the world. You must do the same.

You may be wondering exactly WHAT you should be doing to effectively market your message, that will give you the biggest returns for the least effort.  If so, then I recommend you consider the VIP Platinum Intensive Program.  This will give you six months solid marketing systems, so that you can consistently attract an abundance of clients.  You will start with an intensive two day retreat to audit, analyse and structure the complete business model that suits your desired income and lifestyle.  All the tools, resources and examples are given to you to allow you to move forward with massive action.
You can get it at http://www.TheAussieBusinessCoach.com

3 Simple Steps To Attract More Clients

Without new prospects on your radar, business can very soon start to shrink.  I want to give you three ways you can easily implement today that will start to see you attract an abundance of clients.

1.  Think more about them than you

I think it would be fair to say that most people hate the idea of appearing to their clients as being a pushy salesperson.  Yet, you know that you have a fabulous product that would solve your client’s problem.  The key to attracting more of your ideal clients is to think more about them, than you do about yourself – it really is that easy!

When you are speaking with a prospect, rather than non-stop talking about what it is that you do, ask them questions.   What is it that they want?  What do they find most challenging right now?  Where would they like to be in the future?  Once you start to draw this kind of information out of the prospect, you can diagnose their situation to see if they are actually an ideal fit for you.  If it seems they are, really work  on extracting the feeling of pain they have by staying in their current situation.  Then you can start to close the gap from here, to the outcome of your services.

Remember that your services are not about the process or how you deliver your services, but more about the outcome or transformation for your client when they engage you.  Most people speak about the delivery method, rather than the outcome for your client.  Help them to see the pain of not moving forward and move them into a decision to take some kind of action, no matter how small.

If you follow this process, you will feel an amazing difference in how you feel when speaking with a prospective client.  You will be seen not as a salesperson, but the solution to their problem.  This is a much better space to be.

For the other two powerful steps in this process keep reading my blog

2.    Use Testimonials In Your Marketing

Strange as it may seem, people may not want to believe what you say, without some proof of whether or not it is true. One of the easiest ways to provide this is through social proof.  That is, to get others to testify to the results they have received while working with you or using your products or system.  There are many ways to obtain social proof that you can then transfer into your marketing materials.  It can be written format, by video that you upload onto a website or send via email, photographs, and one of the biggest ways these days, is to get others to speak about it on social media sites such as twitter and facebook.

3.    Create Great Relationships
Business is all about the relationships you create and nurture.  It is important that you make every client or customer you have feel like they are the most important one to you.  You might remember how all you kids want to be your favourite – well your clients are no different – they all want to be your favourite.  So make them feel special.  From the moment of first contact with a prospect, you should start to create a long term relationship with them.  Stay in touch through a personal call, newsletter or similar. Send them a card or a special note every now and then (not just at Christmas time), take the time to find out what they like and do in their spare time, or what their children are up to.  When you start to take an interest in them as a whole, they will respond by becoming your loyal follower. The natural follow on from this, is that your clients will then start to freely tell others how great you are.   If they refer someone to you, drop them a note to say thanks for their trust and respect.  You will find that all these little touches will create a lasting relationship with your clients, so that when they are ready to buy – there is no one else they would even consider doing business with.  Great relationships is the key to a continual supply of referrals, without you having to spend massive marketing dollars.

It is important to have a structured plan in place for client attraction into your business.  Perhaps this is something you can work on this week?

Up Sell, Cross Sells – Marketing

One of the attractions of Phuket for our holiday is the exchange rate.  Our dollar is very strong in comparison, with approximately $1 per 30baht.

Although Murray and I have visited Phuket before, there are some things that were once again on our ‘must do’ list during our trip to this lovely area; swimming, elephant rides, white water rafting and of course, daily massage and shopping is a must.

As we enjoy each day that includes some or many of these activities it intrigues me to watch the locals doing business.  To the inexperienced eye, it would appear that the economy here seems to still operate at one of the most basic levels of business; however, to a trained marketer I smile and watch with great interest, as these folk, with such a basic standard of living, are masters of marketing.   As you stop at a market stall and browse through the handbags, very quickly is the up sell “Mam, you like watch to go with handbag too?”, or “Price is better for three”.  Out of necessity and need, these people have learned to up sell and cross sell like mad.  And guess what, the percentage of uptake appears to be about the same as any internet marketer’s figures.

Everywhere is the same.  The elephant ride and white water rafting has the up sell of DVS’s and photos, the tailor has the value add of some ties to seal the sale of a new suit for my husband.  I initially ordered one dress from my tailor and ended up adding another shirt to the order at the last minute.
These folk know that they have hot, ready prospects with their wallets already out and so they are going to get as much out of you as they can.

Whilst many detest the persistence of the Thai people, as someone in business myself – the system looks great and it works like a charm.  I have no idea how much money visitors spend in Phuket, but I know for sure, it is much more due to the up sell and cross sell process that is operating so smoothly!