The Art of Business: It Could Happen to You!

One of the greatest joys of working with clients is that I come in at a time when things grow, and when possibilities are unlimited. For a creative soul, there is no greater excitement. It may seem as if I poeticize business and the sales process, but for me the thrill is similar to when the curtain lifts, to when the “show” begins after many weeks and months of tremendous effort and preparations. We touch people, and that is the domain of the artist.

Take one of my clients, Roberta Andrade of Elemental Scents, a local Newton- based perfume boutique. The first time I got a chance to inhale the scents she creates in her lab I was so drawn to one of her perfumes, to a particular scent of jasmine and woody notes, that I could not let that little sample bottle out of my clinging hands.  I imagined this thoughtful woman in her lab, mixing scents, combining high, middle and base notes, testing, trying, trusting her gut, and creating something unique that may touch someone so profoundly as to get them to fall in love, to give them hope in the middle of the night when hope is almost vanished, and to get them confidence for their next great thing.  In these trying times, we have to make a living, but yes, we are blessed to be able to create, also.  And for all the challenges of being an entrepreneur, there are rewards for those who are willing and patient.

And how to bring your crafts and art to the world when you are an indie producer, and a small business?  For one, Roberta decided to offer a workshop where others could create their own unique scents and learn about perfumes– a wildly successful idea, and so in keeping with the S/HE (see, hear about, experience) of a product.  If you are anything of a creator, you may give her next workshop a try.

On being constantly asked to “like”

What would you think of an unknown dance troupe that would put on a show and continuously asked you to buy tickets, and to “like” them?  If a friend  forwarded their request, you may  “like” them even if you have no idea what they are about.  What would you think of a restaurant that asked you continuously to vote for them in various contests, to “like” them, to “share” their recipes or events?  You may take a minute out of a busy day and do it to please a friend. But it will not make a lasting impression on you.

I did go to visit such a restaurant at a friend’s continuous Facebook insistence. The only thing that impressed me during the restaurant experience was how horribly bad and boring their bread was.  Hmm, details — but details matter. Not going back anytime soon.

In real life, if the dance troupe and the restaurant have you experience their “art” and then you feel moved to share with your friends, you do that naturally.  You want to be moved, delighted, and touched.  So, if you have a business, instead of asking for more “likes” and “shares” why not spend time creating compelling (real) experiences, extraordinary content that delights others and that is shared impulsively (and compulsively) because  people feel it is worth sharing? And then, make sure that your real life promise keeps up with the promises you make in your social media campaign.

What’s in a Name? Ideas and Execution

What’s in a name?

A prospective client came to see me recently to find out how I can help him and his partner start and develop a new business. They had an idea for a possible cool brand name. They had me sign an NDA.

The team that came to see me did not know how exactly they would grow the business.  They did not even know what business they would develop to match the cool name they came up with.  They had no previous experience building anything.  But they were convinced that their audience would walk over each other to get whatever they labeled with the pretty name.

I tried to explain that if for instance, you launch something in the apparel industry, you compete in the apparel industry, not in the cool names industry (look at Spanx-– all about execution).  And when you launch something in the chairs industry there you are, in the furniture industry, not in the cool names industry.

I will borrow Derek Sivers’s (CD Baby) excellent description that shows the relationship between idea and execution. For more on this, check his website, www.dereksivers.com here:

AWFUL IDEA = -1
WEAK IDEA = 1
SO-SO IDEA = 5
GOOD IDEA = 10
GREAT IDEA = 15
BRILLIANT IDEA = 20

NO EXECUTION = $1
WEAK EXECUTION = $1000
SO-SO EXECUTION = $10,000
GOOD EXECUTION = $100,000
GREAT EXECUTION = $1,000,000
BRILLIANT EXECUTION = $10,000,000

To make a business, you need to multiply the two.

The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth $20.

The most brilliant idea takes great execution to be worth $20,000,000.

That’s why I don’t want to hear people’s ideas.

I’m not interested until I see their execution. “

Yep, me too!!

What’s in a name? Nothing, unless you execute. And even then, with all the money and execution,  there are no guarantees of success.  I will leave you with a great article: “How Microsoft Made a Bing Mistake” from Mark Hurst of the CreativeGood.com

The S/HE mantra. Are you “meeting” customers where they are?

Where can your customers SeeHear about your product or service, and how can they Experience it?  To make it simple for clients, I always ask them to consider a simple mantra for their customers: S/HE (See/Hear about/Experience) the product, or service.   I ask them to develop a  S/HE strategy that is creative rather than model what everyone else is doing in their industry.

A new client who offers services B2C, wanted to meet with me to discuss their marketing and online strategy.  The client’s focus was obsessive on tools: how to use Twitter, how to use Facebook, when to write a blog, when to write a direct email, should they use Pinterest at all?

I understand the concern and the difficulties faced by small business owners.  But when I hear all these questions related to tools, I always ask back: “where do your customers “hang out”? What do they read? What do they do?  Why do they buy from you?”

Most of the times, the client gives me the blank stare which I came to recognize as “hmm? do I need a customer plan? Can’t I put up a Facebook page, send it to all my friends (beg them to “like” it) and hope that some of them will become clients?” Well, no.

Why use social media at all if you don’t have a strategy?

Rather than be overwhelmed by the variety of tools,  why not think of what you want to accomplish, and then experiment with the tools, see which ones bring the results you would like?

For instance, if you sell travel (advice and booking, an overcrowded space) have you considered developing partnerships that allow you to reach out to your niche?  When you figure out a creative way to reach your audience, then you can start developing relationships. When you understand your audience, then what goes out to Twitter and Facebook has one purpose only: to help, delight and support your audience. Rather than putting out Tweets talking about what you do, and how well you do it, you send out tweets that relate to a campaign created towards specific customer needs.

If you have tangible products, then you may consider creating real life opportunities (local stores, your store events, workshops, etc) to have your customers S/HE (see, hear about and experience) your products, and then add tweets to get them there, and use Facebook to document the shared experience.

Customers may prefer to learn in different ways about your product/service:  podcasts, direct mail, webcasts, video, blog, etc.   Create opportunities to meet customers where they are.

If you are developing your company right now, can you tell me quickly how do your customers:

  • See your product (at a Meet Up, in a webcast you put up, in a magazine, on a website, in a demo,  in online photos, on Pinterest, Twitter, etc)
  • Hear about your product/service (word of mouth, referral from friends, online referrals, YouTube, your podcast, etc)
  • Experience your product or service: a free trial, discounts, sales, as part of a bundled offer, in a workshop, at an event, as a gift, etc)

Have you set up ways to “meet and engage” your customers when they csome in touch with your product or service? Are you prepared to create a great experience for your customers every time they see, hear about or experience your product? Once you do, the right channels or tools are easy to find.

Grow Sales using Social Media and the right engagement strategy


GROW SALES!
Monday, July 23th -7-9 PM EST

Learn how to use social media to engage your customers and to sell. We discuss Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Linkedin

Please come to work on your business and see if what we do is right for you. This workshop is FREE!

Whether you are a small business owner who wants to grow, a larger organization growing fast, or a freelancer, you must have a social media strategy to engage your audience and to sell your ideas, products or services.

This workshop is divided in three parts:

1. INTRODUCTION: I will make an introduction to social media strategy, and discuss some of the best practices, with examples from my client work and from some of the most successful small companies| 30 minutes

2. WORK: I will give you two sales principles to consider and apply in your work using social media channels, so that you can grow your business. You will work with a small team and discuss ways to sell more, and improve your practice, business or department using these ideas|  45 minutes

3. LEARNING: we will discuss why your ideas work, or not, what social media strategy is best suited for your practice or business, what are the best channels to use to increase sales, and how to measure your progress| 45 minutes

Please write down your (perceived) main challenge to sales, and bring it with you. In the previous workshop, some participants came as observers, to learn, but their knowledge in their own field of expertise, and their life experience, helped their team mates tremendously. They learned by doing, by being part of the business process

This IS a two hour workshop of INTENSE WORK. Come prepared with a notebook, and with questions. We will focus on working with real businesses, and you will have a “plan” and next steps when you leave the zone.

MORE Information HERE!

Please check out InTheWorkZone!

In the (Work) Zone

Why in the Zone? Why in the Work Zone?  First, because working on a difficult, interesting or beloved project releases a powerful rush of adrenaline. It makes one feel alive and purposeful. That is the feeling of being “in the Zone”.  Or “in the flow.”

Second, because everything happens where work happens. We start, we tweak, we test, we adjust, and we start again.  It’s the excitement (or the desperation) that starts something. It’s the work that finishes it.

Third, because there is no better love story than the story of creating something that gives meaning

I get questions from business owners who would like to sell more, or to grow.  I get questions from entrepreneurs who would like me to help them validate a new idea. And I get asked to advise organizations as well.  I have created In The Work Zone, as a  “workplace” where everyone in business or willing to start a business can bring their ideas and challenges and work on them.  I guide these sessions and I support people with appropriate business tools.  The first entrepreneur meeting took place a few days ago.  Twenty people came and the work we did for two hours was intense. We’ll discuss some of the results soon.