Archive for November, 2012
Holiday seasons can be an emotional roller coaster. Black Friday ads permeated the air, clogged your inbox and assaulted you from printed publications stuffed into your mailbox. Today it is “cyber Monday” ads. The media is telling you to BUY BUY BUY for the upcoming gift giving season.
Holiday lights and decorations appear in our neighborhoods, stores (some stores even start their Christmas displays before Halloween) and every public area. We are told to be happy, excited and spend with exuberant abandon.
This is a tough economy. People are out of work or underemployed or simply struggling to make the financial ends wave at each other. The goal of actually making the financial ends meet and have money left over is simply not a reality for far too many people.
If you are not in an ideal emotional relationship or even in an acceptable emotional relationship, holidays can be an emotional drag.
What do you do? How do you handle the holidays in a healthy emotional mindset?
Holiday parties abound. Every organization seems to promote their holiday party. Holiday parties frequently come with adult beverages – sometimes excessive adult beverages. Alcohol is a depressant. You may have heard someone call those beverages “holiday cheer.” If you are feeling up and happy and festive, they may be holiday cheer. Caution. If you are feeling down, a few drinks, or a few too many, can plunge you even further down.
What can you do? Am I telling you to avoid parties or curl up in a corner, hide from life and pretend that the holidays do not exist? No, of course not. There are things you can do.
1. Arrive at the party a little late and stay a short time rather than the entire time.
2. Be certain you eat something. Food helps ease the effects of alcohol (if you choose to indulge in an adult beverage.)
3. In my early twenties I discovered the strategy of sipping an orange juice or a ginger ale with a slice of lime. Other guests were comfortable because we all had a glass in our hand. Later if someone offered me a glass of wine, I was perfectly fine to have one. One throughout an evening was perfectly acceptable.
4. Steer clear of the David and Debbie Downers. Grumpy bears and angry, critical people can send your mood plunging down at a rapid rate.
5. Spend time with upbeat people you enjoy speaking with; spend time with the people who encourage you and bring you up.
6. Go help someone less fortunate or a friend who needs an emotional lift. Concentrating on bringing them up will help you stay up yourself.
Here are only a few ideas to keep a firm grip on your emotional sanity and even bring it up a few notches. The book Emotional Ice Water is packed with helpful ideas to boost your emotional spirits. It is written in an enjoyable story form; you can relate to the true life stories. More than anything, you will appreciate the positive solutions you can implement into your life immediately.
Don’t let the roller coaster of emotions over the holidays or at any point in your year get the best of you. There are positive ways to deal with negative situations.
For more information on overcoming negative feelings and situations, stay tuned to www.Elaine4Success.com. Also inquire about hiring Elaine Love for your next sales training, executive meeting or personal growth presentation coaching. Purchase Emotional Ice Water. Go to www.Elaine4Success.com/Contact or www.MeetElaineLove.com
What is your competitive advantage? Why would people choose to do business with you instead of your competition? We are in the midst of a challenging economy in United States as well as many other countries right now. Competitive advantage is even more important now than at any other point in my lifetime, perhaps yours as well.
If you are an investor, you may be thinking, “How does this relate to me? This is my market. There are more sellers than buyers right now.” True. If you are the seller, how do you attract that ideal buyer or investor?
Fine tune your competitive advantage
What is the value, quality or delivery you offer which is superior? An investor wants to know what you have to offer now; they will build on their additional advantages. Unless you have something intriguing to offer, they are on to the next opportunity.
So what if they don’t invest in your business? Developing a stronger competitive advantage will make your business more profitable in the interim.
Do you believe you have an excellent product or service? If not, improve it until it is excellent.
How to improve your competitive advantage
Interview your current customers.
- What do they like about your company or product?
- What do they NOT like? (Not a fun question but very informative.)
- What would they like to have but do not have at this time?
Interview your competitor’s customers with the same 3 questions.
Interview prospective customers. You will be amazed at how powerful it is to ask them what they want rather than endeavor to sell them something.
Now do something with this valuable feedback. No, not stuff it in a folder to be reviewed at some distant point in the future.
Research how other companies have overcome these “dislike” issues. You are probably not the only one to ever face these challenges.
- Contact your mentors or icons in the industry.
- Search for information. Use the internet as well as current print publications.
- Visit some of your competitors or purchase a product from them.
- Do a blind test and purchase from your own company.
Take a vendor to lunch. Ask their experience with how other companies handle similar situations you deal with in your day to day operations.
Ask you CPA. They work with other companies. Look outside your industry for ideas
Form a plan to improve your competitive advantage
- Find a way to build on your current advantages. Emphasize them in your marketing
- Compile all of your research information into an organized format. Brainstorm. Use the “How can I” approach rather than “That won’t work.” A positive attitude does wonders.
- Make a list of actions to be taken. Prioritize the list and add a timeframe to each.
- Take action. Start the plan immediately
Competitive advantage is even more important now. Adopt the attitude of Amazon in 2008. The CEO called the key staff together and said “There’s a big recession coming. Let’s miss it.”
Whether you are a seller, buyer, investor or customer, competitive advantage is paramount. Take action to make your advantage outstanding in the marketplace. Your employees, customers and bank account will thank you.
For more information on competitive advantage, stay tuned to www.Elaine4Success.com. Also inquire about hiring Elaine Love for your next sales training, executive meeting or personal growth presentation coaching. Go to www.Elaine4Success.com/Contact or www.MeetElaineLove.com.
How many times have you experienced an emotion letdown in your business? What happened? The excitement you once felt has now become overwhelm. How could this have happened? When you created the business you were so excited and full of grand dreams of what it could become. You plunged in and worked long hours with excitement; the hours just flew. At the end of the day you felt tired but fulfilled with accomplishment. Your desire to do it all over again the next day was burning brightly. In fact your biggest problem was turning off the ideas in order to fall asleep. You probably even kept a notepad on your nightstand for those strokes of genius ideas in the middle of the night.
I know I did when I started Mountain Castle Property Management. Creative ideas flowed in abundance. Owning a property management company in a ski resort catering to vacationers required long hours. Sometimes in peak season it felt as if I was working 24 – 7 – 365 (twenty four hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year). In truth, it wasn’t that bad. Rarely does anyone lock themselves out of their house between eight and five, Monday through Friday though; lockouts and other problems usually happen in the middle of the night.
Perhaps a string of sleep-interrupted nights does add to exhaustion, which leads to lack of energy. Low energy, despite massive amounts of Starbucks double espresso, can lead to becoming frustrated; incidents which in a more rested state might have been less impactful, now seem totally out of proportion. Keep this up for too long and important activities and people fall off of your priority list. The entrepreneur, business owner, is usually the first priority list casualty. Shortly after, exercise falls off the list; you are just too tired. Family and friends slip off the list soon thereafter.
Major crash! Your passion for your business plummets. Unfortunately this scenario repeats itself with corporate executives as well as entrepreneurs. Jane Porter’s experience paralleled so many of us. Far too many of us have reached that discouragement and exhaustion point more frequently than we care to admit.
What is the answer? What can we do about it? There are choices and solutions.
- Stay “in enthusiasm deficit”
- Climb out of the emotional pit and achieve again
- Put yourself back on your priority list. Do something you enjoy. It is impossible to be depressed and fully engaged in energetic activity at the same time. Take a break, take a walk, call a friend or even take a long quiet bubble bath with can
Remember that list of things you always wanted to do? Dust it off and pick something. Anything. Start it now. Make an appointment with yourself and keep the appointment just as you would if it were your most important client. You are important; take care of yourself.
Richard Branson, famous entrepreneur is a bit of a self-declared wild man. He believes in the basics of eating healthy and sufficient sleep. You don’t have to do everything, delegate. Establish and maintain as much work-life balance as possible. Your intent in starting a family was to enjoy them: at least I hope it was.
- Think about the 5 people you admire most. Why do you admire them? How do they handle stress and overwhelm? Take them out to lunch; the visit and break will be good for both of you.
If your mind goes blank and you can’t think of five, research articles and thought leaders. Phil Cousineau, host of the PBS show Global Spirit and author of Stoking the Creative Fires: 9 Ways to Rekindle Passion and Imagination (Conari Press, 2008) . Another reference is the strategy of Yanik Silver, successful serial entrepreneur. Read solution-based blogs which focus on small business.
- Be honest with yourself about why you are working so many hours. Solving the core issue becomes much easier when you face the root cause. Excuses abound about why business people work seemingly endless hours. I know: I’ve made them myself.
- Too much work to be finished
- Focus on increasing business and profits is more important
- The staff expects me to be available
- Set a good example for others
Even though each of these has merit, there is often an excuse hidden from even ourselves.
Have you considered that unintentionally, you are getting in your own way? Discover which emotional blocks are holding you back, clear them and proceed. Few people work at optimum productivity when they
are stressed, exhausted or uninspired. Emotional Ice Water will assist you in clearing your blocks in order to reach your potential and restore your enthusiasm for life and business.
- Free your mind to restore creativity. Dig back into the recesses of your mind. What was your routine at the time you conceived the idea on your current business? What mind-freeing activities and thought processes were you implementing at that time? It is so easy to be bogged down in the “day-to-day” that we lose the opportunity to create. If you are like me, you exercise. Going for a ten mile walk in the beautiful Colorado countryside wipes out current dilemmas and opens mental space for creating new possibilities. Sometime breaking an old routine is required in order to design a something even better.
Exercise your body and your choices. Revive your sagging spirits. Your body, spirit and bank account will thank you.
“People buy more from those they know, like and trust” has been stated repeatedly through the decades even though the originator of the quote is unknown. How do people get to know, like and trust you? One of the fastest ways is through networking. Personal face-to-face contact allows the listener to hear the words, tone of voice and observe the body language.
Why take the time to network?
Networking requires time, energy and genuine attentiveness. If you think you can’t spare the time to network, consider that you will receive more value for your soft-money investment than you would by spending the equivalent amount in actual hard-money dollars.
Benefits of networking
- Increased sales
- Larger transaction amount per sale
- Higher closing ratio
- More repeat and referral business
- Community awareness
- Greater perceived trust
“The more solid relationships you build, the more credible you are. The more your credibility grows, the more people will hire and recommend you.” Can you afford NOT to network?
Websites, pop-up ads, online banners and pay-per-click ads all tout the benefits of your business. Once you make face to face contact, you become a personality. You have the opportunity to form a connection. Now your business card has a face and a voice attached.
Your brochure becomes an extension of you, the person, not just any business. Dan Kennedy attended a trade show with the specific intention of purchasing a generator. He visited several booths and received their brochures. Kennedy said, “If you took the name off the top of the brochure, the features listed were interchangeable.” Your business has competition. Without the personal contact, your business may blend into the masses. When you make a personal connection with a person and hand them your brochure, your personality intensifies the value of your business. Online does not have the personal touch of a smile and a handshake.
With networking you increase the value of all of your marketing, but especially the printed marketing materials you hand a prospect during your conversation.
Disadvantages of networking
- It takes time to drive to and from events
- To be effective, personal contact requires you to listen
- Some expense is involved – transportation costs and beverage costs at the event
How to Network Effectively
Create a plan
- Go alone. You will talk to more people.
- Make a list of specific individuals you would like to contact and pertinent details to be discussed. Refresh the list after each event adding new names and recording the results of the contacts accomplished.
- Set an objective for the event. Are you seeking investors, education, inspiration, connections or clients?
- Ask insightful questions. Attentively listen to people and demonstrate that you care about what they are saying by asking them to expand on their points of wisdom.
- Add value by introducing them to others who would be important connections for them.
- Make a note on their business card to remind you of the conversation and the person. (Consider making the front of your card high gloss for visual appeal and the back of the card in a finish which permits writing notes.)
- Relax. You are attending to make connections not bowl people over with a sales pitch. Networking is not to close the sale but to make the connection for a future appointment.
- Speak casually at a slower pace and lower tone. You are not there to collect a handful of cards, but to have genuine conversations.
- Be brief. People love to talk about themselves. You are there to learn more about them. Interestingly enough, they will be more impressed by your genuine listening and attention to them than if you spouted volumes of information about yourself.
- Follow up after the event. Send an email, make a telephone call, and send a handwritten note on your personalized business notecard stationery.
- Understand the tremendous value of networking. The critical keys to effective networking are to go with a focused mindset and plan to be conscious of making genuine connections. Be attentive and engage in genuine conversations. Demonstrate your intention of helping others. Make notes, future appointments and follow up. People do business with those they know, like and trust. Increase your connections with networking.
Understand the tremendous value of networking. The critical keys to effective networking are to go with a focused mindset and plan to be conscious of making genuine connections. Be attentive and engage in genuine conversations. Demonstrate your intention of helping others. Make notes, future appointments and follow up. People do business with those they know, like and trust. Increase your connections with networking.
Marketing is designed to present your competitive advantage to your target client. When you know what problem your product or service solves, your research begins. The next step is to determine who has that specific problem and how can you reach them.
Do you have an excellent product or service? Why isn’t the world beating down the doors to purchase from you? The answer may be your competitive advantage. What is a competitive advantage?
There have always been a plethora of companies who offer similar products and services. How many brands of toilet tissue, orange juice or automobile tires are in the marketplace? If you are in a niche market all alone, fabulous; however with the access to the internet, your competition could be anywhere in the world. Ideally you will develop some positive variation of the business which would make customers choose your product instead of your competitors offering. How do you do that? You create a competitive advantage. Your competitive advantage may be changing the quality, value or delivery. Your advantage could be your customer service, your speedy delivery, or even the convenience of purchasing. If price becomes your only advantage, beware. One price war with a large company and you could be devastated.
BI (before the internet), the majority of your competition resided within less than 100 miles of you. Now you either compete on a massive scale or pack up and head home. At one time speech coaching was a face to face customer basis. With the arrival of Skype and web cameras, your speech coaching client could be in France.
Your advantage should change the behavior of the customer. Entice them to want to come to you and do business with you. How do you do that? Offer a benefit to them. Spend some time speaking with them and discover the problem they would pay to have solved. Once you know their pain, you know exactly what product or service to offer from your product line which will solve their problem. They can’t and won’t purchase from you until they know what you have to offer. Job number one for a company is to be certain their target market knows what they have to offer.
How can you extend your reach to “touch” more customers? Enlist your employees in the process. It is in their best interest for you to be successful. Pay checks do not continue to flow out from unsuccessful companies. Offer unique incentives to employees to assist in promoting the company. Supply them with the latest marketing promotional materials; keep them informed and “in the loop.”
Once the customer knows you have the solution, it is a matter of selecting the ideal solution from your product arsenal to solve their problem.
Your competitive advantage must do something positive for the product or the customer. Be specific about the benefits of your product. Carefully avoid listing features; describe benefits. A lady sat at my kitchen table recently attempting to sell me her line of skin care. She recited a long list of ingredients. Ingredients are features. If she had said, “Elaine, use this face cream and it will reduce your wrinkles by 30% in 10 days.” If she had given me that benefit, I would have purchased on the spot. People buy on benefits, not features.
It is not truly a competitive advantage until your employees or customers take action. Children react on rewards or penalties. Employees and customers follow the same pattern of reacting to consequences.
Conduct interviews with current customers, past customers and potential customers.
What do they like?
What do the not like?
What would they like to have but do not have at this time?
What would they pay to have which they do not have right now? You may be asking yourself what is the difference in the last two questions. The difference is a “nice to have” which they may or may not be willing to purchase at this time or a “need to have” which they will absolutely pay for right away.
Competitive advantages are improvements in quality, value, delivery or service. What is your competitive advantage? If you don’t know, start creating one.
For more information on competitive advantages, stay tuned to www.Elaine4Success.com. Also inquire about hiring Elaine Love for your next sales training, executive meeting or personal growth presentation coaching. Go to www.Elaine4Success.com/Contact or www.MeetElaineLove.com.