Category Archives: Business development


What does Your brand stand for - marketing-dish (1)
You’ve probably heard the term in marketing that people do business with those they know, like and trust. I’d like to take that idea further and say people also do business with brands because they know what they stand for. What does your business stand for?

I will do business with companies like Whole Foods because they support my lifestyle. I know they sell organic food and are committed to the mission of healthier food. I buy Apple products because they are easy to use and they have great customer service. I buy training from online marketers that deliver what they promise like James Wedmore and Business By Design. I know he stands for integrity and authenticity.

What Does Your Brand Stand For?

Are people clear on what you stand for?Do you share what you stand for with customers? We can share what we stand for in our story, in our marketing and how our employees represent us.

We’re all different, it’s how we communicate that matters. Just think, there are probably 4-5 different coffee shops where you live from the big brands like Starbucks to Joe’s Main Street Coffee down the street in the strip mall. What make’s Joe’s different than Starbucks? What makes you want to patronize Joe’s?

Let’s use Joe’s Main Street Coffee as our case study and outline some ways in which we know what Joe’s stands for:

• Joe names his coffee drinks after organizations& people in the community
• Joe gives a percentage of his whole bean sales to causes he supports in the community
• Joe knows his customers value a more community feel and he trains his staff to treat everyone like they are family
• The décor is homey and welcoming
• He rewards loyalty with fun ways to win free coffee
• He engages you in real time on social media (Staff is empowered to be social media ambassadors)
• Joe know people appreciate the home baked goods he sells from the local bakery
• Joe has a large community room where local business can rent to hold meetings
• Joe will deliver a catered order to your place of business within 10 miles of the store
• Joe cares what you think and asks customers randomly if they would join him for a free cup of coffee and a chat where he gets invaluable marketing knowledge from his clients

Building a Brand People Love

Building a brand people love, patronize and refer others to is not easy. It does take a focused strategy and the tactics and time to implement. What prevents people from building a brand like Joe’s?
• Never enough time (# 1 excuse)
• Understaffed
• To busy working in my business VS working on my business
• Not willing to invest in help

Six Steps to Building a Business/Brand That People Love

1. Be the CEO of your company. The one with the vision and expertise to drive your vision.

2. Hire others to implement your vision – this means investing money and time to hiring and training. You will be profitable faster in the long-run once you have the process to implement in place.

3. Always, I mean always be looking for ways to add value to your customers. Get your customers what they want and you will automatically get what you want.

4. Be sure you are clearly delivering your brand message in everything you do both offline and online.

5. Invest in technology if it keeps you relevant and drives leads and sales.

6. Invest in resources that will move you closer to your financial and your freedom goals faster. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to make more money and work less hours, but often we struggle without support to get there.

What Are Your Customers Saying About You?

Whether you are in a brick and mortar business or an online business, people often meet us online before meeting us offline. That means in today’s society we are checking review before making a buying decision. We look at reviews on Yelp and Google when we are looking for a place for dinner. When we shop online we read customer review before we make the purchase. From a professional perspective when we are hiring someone or considering a business relationship we check people’s LinkedIn profile as well as their recommendations.

Encourage your customers to leave a review and then engage with those reviewers. Thank them for leaving the comment, ask them to share a good experience with a friend.

We learn from what customers are saying both letting us know what they value and what they want more of.
Are you listening?

Knowing what your business/brand stands for and being able to articulate that brand message is critical to your success. Just like Joe discovered at the Main Street Coffee shop, with some effort, listening and acknowledging what customers want you gain brand loyalty and referrals.

Did this article offer you more clarity for your brand? Share your comments below.

Marketing Recipe For Success

As you know by now from reading this blog I love food analogies and I love to relate stories about food to marketing.  Last week was the finale of  the Great Food Truck Race featured on the Food Network and hosted by the amazing chef,  Tyler Florence.  For those of you who didn’t watch the show features 8 teams of people competing for a chance to win a 50K state of the art food truck. During the course of 7 weeks each team was taken through a series of challenges designed to ultimately see who could run a food truck with the best results.

Whether you are opening a food truck any other type of business where you are selling products or services the recipe for success is the same.

Tyler asked the contestants why they were there and again at the end of the season with the two final contestants.   I think it’s critical you know your why, because that’s part of your story and what creates your brand.  Our “why” shines through everything we do when we clearly know why and what motivates us.  On a side note, I recommend the book “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek if you want to really go deeper and gain clarity.

BRANDING – Can you clearly define your brand?  Is your brand memorable and shareable?  What does your band stand for?  These are all questions that you need to answer from the get go.  In the example of the Great Food Truck Race, the contestants were given the challenge to cook five dishes that represented their brand.  In the case of  the food trucks, you knew exactly what type of food to expect from each truck.  Do people know what to expect from you?  Are you true to your brand?

MARKETING – Are the steps we take along the way to get people to know, like and trust us enough to buy from us?  The truck contestants were challenged in each city they stopped to market to a new audience.  It included sourcing and cooking  local ingredients that were specific to the region. As with all businesses who have to know our audience, and are you the one they will buy from?  There are many ways to market and advertise, as an example one of the trucks stops included the creation of a 30 second commercial that was broadcast on the radio.

PARTNERING – Learning to partner with others in your niche can be an effective strategy for gaining exposure.  I often will partner with my colleague Kristen Brown owner of Happy Hour Effect. We teach workshops together collaborating our expertise and tapping into each others connections.  As in the Great Food Truck race, teams were challenged at times to work together rather than just be competitors.  Who could you partner with to create more exposure?

TIME MANAGEMENT – Seems we are all challenged with time management, being rushed to get things accomplished in less time.  But time management is about efficiency and getting your product and service to market quickly.  Often it is those who implement at a faster speed will make more money, they simply make improvements as they go.  In the case of the food trucks those who could shop, prep and start selling would win.  How fast can you get to market?  Can you implement now and perfect later?

BUMPS ALONG THE WAY – As with any business we will encounter bumps that force us to change gears and adapt. Having the ability to act quickly will often determine our success or failure.  The food truck contestants were thrown curve balls all along their journey such as having to cook food that was not their specialty but in order to survive and move on they learned to adapt and rise to the occasion.

QUALITY – At the end of the day, the  quality of our products and service will tell the story of our success. Just like a plate of food – if we serve it cold, lacking of flavor and appeal we will not get a repeat customer or referral.   Quality and service must be part of our marketing plan.  Think in terms of how you followup with people after the sale and are you memorable?

From Food Network TV
From Food Network TV

So from my perspective The Great Food Truck Race was all about building a business from the ground up.  Lessons taught by Tyler Florence were all about taking your skills and talents and learning what it takes to build a brand, market that brand and develop a  business model that is repeatable and profitable. 

5 Ways to be a Social Media Rockstar

I am a big advocate of professional development and I love to attend industry conferences.   I find value in numerous ways such as learning new and relevant information to enhance my business skills which has a direct reflection on how I serve my clients.  Networking with colleagues and speakers also offers opportunities to learn more.

I attended the Social Media RockStar event September 17th in Willmar, Minnesota.  In my opinion this is becoming a must attend yearly event.  The founder Sarah Kuglin and her team are bringing in top nationally recognized industry speakers such as Jason Falls, the SVP of Digital Strategy at Elasticity, Lee Odden, CEO of Top Rank Marketing, Adam Dince, Director of Earned Marketing at Deluxe Corp, Alex Houg and Dennis Yu of Blitz Metrics/Portage.   In addition there were many other great speakers from the Twin Cities digital marketing arena.

Photo from Sarah Kuglin, Founder Social Media Rock Star Event
Photo from Sarah Kuglin, Founder Social Media Rock Star Event

Here are my 5 big takeaways from the speakers:

1.  Opening the conference was a welcome video from Mari Smith, Nationally renown social media expert. Mari suggested we focus on the “metric of meaning” and produce engaging content and remember this is a people to people exchange rather than a B2B or B2C ideology.

2.  Jason Falls suggested there are no new answers to the same social media questions we keep asking. For digital marketing success he recommends the following blueprint:

  • Know your audience so you can then deliver relevant content
  • Search is still a priority – people are looking for a reason to buy from you, you need to rank in search
  • Social and PR converge to elevate search results. Relevant content is what is key, also getting good reviews on sites such as G+
  • Without content you do not exist, more content you have the better chance you have of being found
  • Measure metrics for the future not the past. You must measure toward your goals.
  • There is no “Easy” button – you know your audience better than anyone else, dig in and do the work

3.  Lee Odden shared his 7 Lessons that teach us blogging is still a great marketing tool.  I wrote a separate blog post about that juicy content you can find HERE.

4.  Adam Dince talked about the 5 social strategies that will rock your marketing

  • Build a relevant audience, no point in attracting people who have no use your your products or services
  • Nurture your audience – talk WITH not AT your people, read what your followers are posting
  • Create audience profiles – so are your social network connections similar to your customers? Are you sharing the right content?
  • Leverage competitor audiences – Use Facebook graph search to find your competitors, create custom audiences in Facebook and target ads
  • SEO matters – Google is personalizing search so whenever you sign in to your Gmail account for example and your search you will not be
    retargeted with ads based on your search, so this is how you can use it to your competitive advantage. Tip you can compete by ranking for images so be sure you have descriptions on all your images.

5.  Alex Houg and Dennis Yu talked about marketing on Facebook for a $1 a day!

 Big takeway is that your website must be working with your social media channels and in the case of Facebook you should focus totally on advertising to custom audiences. Start by uploading your segmented  emails lists to your ads platform in Facebook. This way you will target your exact audience with ads vs the spitting in the wind technique!  Thus is a somewhat confusing strategy until you understand how to do it.  There are are many tutorials on Facebook and well as other resources. The bottom line is to budget for a digital ad spend and start targeting your ideal audience.  It is totally doable!

Learn from experts, follow their blogs and social media sites.  These folks are such great givers I encourage you to connect and maybe next year add Social Media Rockstar event to you calendar!

What conferences have you attended this year?  Please share in the comments below your big takeaways-

5 Lessons Next Food TV Network Star Teaches Us About Marketing

Okay I admit, my guilty TV pleasure this summer has been the series “Next Food TV Network Star.”  I watch for two reasons, one that I love to cook and two because I am a marketing consultant and I love the process that the contestants go through to market themselves on their journey to winning this competition.  There are so many lessons all business owners can learn from this TV series, so let me share some interesting marketing parallels that I learned.

1. Define a unique point of view.  The contestants are all experienced cooks and are required to define their culinary point of view and why they are unique and different.

All businesses also need to define their core marketing message and their unique point of differentiation from  their competitors.  You must be able to communicate that point of differentiation in all your marketing communications.  People make a decision to learn more about you when you give them a clear reason to do so.  If you cannot communicate this, people then defer to price because they don’t have another way of making a decision.   Most of the contestants on this show fail because they cannot communicate their personal point of view effectively.    Oh sure, the quality of the food matters, but as in business you can have the best widget in town but if you can’t explain to people why your widget is the best they won’t buy it.  As one of the judges so appropriately said  “I think and maybe’s won’t work– if you don’t know your point of view, than fans won’t know either.”

2. You must be an authority – own what you know!  The goal of any Food TV Network star is the ability to teach home cooks how to prepare great food.  They must be an authority on their personal culinary point of view and be able to teach that to others. For example the winner Lenny McNab owned not only his unique point of view as the gourmet cowboy chef, farm to table food  but he was able to teach us how to cook it!  There was no question that Lenny was unique and he certainly owned his expertise as a seasoned chef!

3. Speak to your audience in terms they will understand and can learn from you.  The final three contestants were at the top because they had the ability to speak and teach the audience how to cook.  What you can learn from them is simple – if you have the ability to teach your target audience something that ultimately solves a problem for them and you communicate in a way they understand then you win.  Nicole Gaffney the personal chef with the coastal cuisine point of view did a great job of this, she had the ability to teach us all how to cook great seafood!

4. Have confidence in your skills.  The Food TV Network contestants had a bigger challenge than most of us, not only did they have to cook but they had to perform their skills all on camera and under pressure.  Most of us don’t have those challenges.  Lesson here is to own your skills.  Stop comparing yourself to others, there will always be people who know more than we do – let it go!  If your skills are meeting the needs of your target audience than you know enough!  

5. Brush up on your communication skills. It was obvious when watching this series that most of the contestants struggled to communicate clearly.  I’m sure a lot of that was nerves having to perform on a national TV show, listen I would be tongue tied and forget my lines at the most inappropriate times too.  For us average folks we can practice our communication skills. For example if you are not good at networking in person, you clam up not sure how to engage a stranger, you can practice.  If you want to be a better communicator, join a local Toastmasters Club and practice speaking. Take time to memorize your mission statement, and core marketing message and you too will be a star!

Want a complimentary copy of “The Smart Business Owners Guide to Creating and Executing a Marketing Strategy? Claim it here!

Lead Generation Starts With Identifying That Perfect Client

Lead generation is an on-going activity whereby our job is to attract our ideal client into our space so we can expose them to our products and services.
But how many of you just shoot from the hip so to speak without narrowing your market to that ideal client and you throw your messages out to everyone hoping something sticks?

Think about all your lead generation activities, which are getting the best results?
Out of the 8 activities listed below, rate from 1-8, with 1 being the top result and 8 being the least results and measure your activities to determine what is working.

  • Traditional advertising (TV, newspaper, Online ads, Radio etc)
  • Email marketing
  • Social Media marketing
  • Trade Shows
  • Referrals
  • In-person networking
  • Snail-mail
  • Collaborating (could also be affiliate marketing)

Time to re-define the truly ideal client

If it has been awhile since you put pen to paper and outlined what your perfect client would look like, and yes I say perfect client because I want you to think in terms of who do you really want to work with?  Just because people are willing to pay us doesn’t necessarily make them our ideal client, so for the purposes of this blog post let’s think in terms of who we most want to do business with.

Here are some points to help get your lists going so you will easily spot your ideal client:

1.   What behaviors does your ideal client possess?

2.   Do any of your current or past clients have these behaviors?

3.   What’s important to your customers right now?

4.   What social sites does your ideal client spend time on? 

5.   What motivates this ideal person?

6.   What might be the barriers to buying?

7.    How do they gather info to make a purchase? and how do they come to the decision to buy?

Now that you have a focus and know what, where, how and why’s of your perfect client, it is so much simpler to search for them via the activities you listed above. Remember don’t waste your time on throwing things out and hoping something will stick, a more targeted approach works  much better!

Let me know your results – I’d be interested in learning what works for you!


Selling Has Changed, It’s Time To Think Like a Marketer

According to best selling author, John Jantsch “Selling has changed because the world of buying has changed.”

The vast majority of us are educating ourselves and thus making more buying decisions from the internet!  Even my 84 year old father buys online from Amazon, Ebay and several other favorite websites and occasionally his buying decisions are influenced by ads he views in printed publications as well as ads he views online via his email service provider.  My father is a great researcher and the internet allows him to gain access to information quickly and efficiently which further enhances his buying decisions.

In Jantsch’s newest book “Duct Tape Selling – Think Like A Marketer, Sell Like A Superstar” he guides us down the path of understanding what it means to sell in today’s world and how to guide our prospects along the buying process by teaching. 

Several decades ago the idea of giving a prospect any information until they became a customer was unheard of! But today the opposite is true, the more value you deliver the more likely this type of selling converts to leads and sales.

How The Elements of Selling Have Changed

Jantch outlines this brilliantly with examples and steps for each of the following:

  • Listening is the new prospecting
  • Educating is the new presenting
  • Insight is the new information sharing
  • Story building is the new nurturing
  • and how value delivery is the new closing

Reputation Building

We now manage our reputation both offline and online.  Our website and social media presence allows us to expand our reach and at the same time requires us to carefully manage our reputation.  I like that Jantch suggests  we ‘resist the urge to cut and paste our resume” into our websites and social platforms.

I see this often on LinkedIn where profiles read like a boring resume. What the internet allows us to do is expand on our resume and create a brand and value proposition. This is exciting that we have the ability to test and tweak our online profiles and website quickly and easily as we hone in on our brand messaging and update when necessary.

Strategy Before Tactics

Jantsch always teaches how important your marketing strategy is before the implementation of any tactics and this book is no exception.  He suggests  the following tactics:

  • Create an expert platform with your online presence
  • Become an authority by building your reputation and sharing your expertise
  • Mine networks and build relationships
  • Build your sales hour glass which takes prospects down a path from interest to solutions to closing the sale

 As we all adopt the new model of social selling into our sales process we spend more time building relationships, problem solving, educating our prospects and becoming valued, credible resources that people want to do business with. 

I’d like to point out that this book ( along with the other three of Jantch’s books)  offers solid concepts along with specific steps and the resources to implementation.  This is by far one of the best books I have read this year and I have added it to my entire library of business books by John Jantsch and I hope you will too.

“Today’s sales superstars attract, teach, convert, serve, measure and most important, guide their clients and prospects while developing an individual brand that stands for trust and expertise.”

>>Get John Jantch’s newest book “Duct Tape Selling.”