Are You in a Rut?

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I was a member of a small networking group through the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. I had been a member for about 3 years.

The group ran into some roadblocks when the restaurant that hosted us (it is a lunchtime meeting) decided in May they were too busy to deal with a large group at lunch time. Then, the long-time leader of the group (8 years), decided he needed a well-deserved break from those volunteer duties. On top of everything else, there seemed to be a shift at the Chamber on the importance of the small business members to its business model. (You can imagine how that was received in a group of small business owners/managers!)

It was decided that the group should take a break while we found a new location and a new leadership team.

For three years, I’d had the group meetings on my calendar as a recurring event on the first and third Thursday of every month. It was a commitment I’d made and just as important as any other business meeting. I worked other meetings around this one.

Well, when the group went on hiatus, with no definite date to reconvene, I removed it from my calendar. All of a sudden, I realized that other opportunities that I’d passed on due to my commitment to the group were there and waiting for me. Since then, I’ve noticed an increase in business and my ability to participate in events outside of San Diego that I might not have considered before due to that Thursday conflict. After all, I didn’t want to miss too many meetings because it was a commitment I owed the group.

When the group reconvened a couple of weeks ago, I realized that I had acquired new business and opportunities that far outweighed what I was getting out of my participation in the group. I had to decide – continue with the group because I was getting some business and enjoyed the people in the group; or, was it time to let it go and move on.

I didn’t want to just disappear from the group, so I decided to attend at least one more meeting. As I was driving there,  after a very successful morning at another networking event, I realized that my continuing membership was probably not going to move my business forward in the way I wanted and needed it to. I decided to resign on my way there.

Keep in mind that I have other regular commitments to business groups and community groups, but I’ve reminded myself that I can’t allow something that’s familiar (and fun) to take away other opportunities for business growth. If it’s for business reasons, each one of these activities needs to be evaluated on an annual basis and decisions need to be made if continued participation is accomplishing the goals set for that activity.

I fully commit to any type of organization I join; but I also need to know when it’s time to let it go and open myself up to new opportunities.

Are you doing the same?

 

Are You Sabotoging Yourself Because You’re Afraid to Change Old Habits?

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I had lunch with a friend on Sunday – we used to belong to the same networking group until I left it, after 4-1/2 years, in January.

She asked me if I’d seen a change in my business since I’d left the group and I was happy to report that I had – a definite growth that was surpassing the growth I’d been experiencing over the last two years.

“Do you think it’s because you left the group?” she asked.

I said, not exactly. But I do know that that particular group was no longer producing the results I needed to justify the time and money I was putting into it. Yes, I liked the people and enjoyed my time there every Friday morning; but they were not sending me the business I needed to be a member.

I knew that the few who were clients would continue to work with me after I left. I knew that my customers in the group might do so, as long as no one else took my spot or if they couldn’t find it cheaper than I could provide it. I also knew that the other members who had never sent me a referral of any sort probably never would anyway.

By freeing up my time and money, I was able to put those resources into the people and outlets that were helping me grow my business. I didn’t resent the time spent because it wasn’t producing the results I wanted and I kept the relationships I enjoyed and/or the ones that were good business because the parties involved valued each other.

So, are you doing the same old thing because it’s habit, but not seeing the results you want? Don’t be afraid to break a habit – good things can definitely come of it.

To Give Or Not To Give…

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I always say that, if you’re handing out business cards a Blackjack dealer in Vegas throwing out playing cards, then you’re playing the wrong game.

You’d get better results, or at least more people talking about you, if you stood in the center of the room, took your handful of business cards and threw them up in the air yelling, “Yippeeeeeee!”

Sell, Lead, Succeed!

Playing Cards In Hand

That is the question 🙂

Ever see people handing out business cards like they are dealing a deck of cards?

“Come one, come all, everyone gets a card!”

The important question is…

did you get a card from the prospect, or the networking event connection?

When you get a card, you are in control. You control your own destiny.

When all you do is hand out cards, and often forget to get their card, you wait – hoping one day that they reach out to you.

Uh-oh! Your card may end up in the garbage but you still can connect if you have theirs!

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Does the “Exclusive” Networking Group Work?

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I belong to one of those one industry rep only “exclusive” networking groups. It’s an independent group, but built on the same basic model as BNI or Le Tip.

Sometimes, I struggle with the question of how well these types of groups work.

Have I gotten business out of them? Absolutely – enough to justify my membership fees and then some.

My questions come because, inevitably, someone vetoes a new member because they feel they are competition. That’s because industry categories are either too narrowly defined (e.g. the  banker who can only represent personal banking business while another one represents commercial banking) or too broadly defined (e.g. the chiropractor who has a massage therapist in the office and claims massage as part of the chiropractic category).

Also, if these groups are about relationship building, isn’t it naïve to believe that, if someone leaves the group, all their previous business with group members should end so that the new member in that category can get the business? How is that building relationships?

Do I believe that these groups can work and help build a business? Absolutely!

Do I think that the premise of them can be a bit naïve when faced with the realities of business in the real world? Absolutely!

So, who wants to join my group – there are openings!  🙂

Are You Just Gambling with Your Business Cards?

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I’ve heard one reference and seen one reference to all those networkers out there who go to an event and then hand out business cards in a way that makes you think you’re in Vegas. You know who I mean – the ones who have a stack in their hands and pass them out as quickly as the Blackjack dealers deal out the cards.

There is usually very little to no conversation involved in this transaction. Your business card will likely be requested so that they can get a good count of how many people they “connected” with at the event.

Are you tempted to do business with these individuals? Do they make you curious about what they do and how you can send business your way? Probably not.

I have to say that my favorite line came at a networking event I attended the other night: I met someone I hadn’t spoken with before and I found out what the gentleman did and expressed some interest and knowledge about his business. He, in turn, wanted to know what I do for a living. When he found out I am a marketing solutions specialist, he proceeded to tell me all the ways his company is already marketing and how successful they are at it. After all this, he hands me his business card and requests mine. (I don’t offer mine unless I am requesting that they contact me about something specific.) As he’s handing me his card, he says to me (Are you ready, ‘cuz here comes the line): “Please don’t throw it away.”

WOW!!!

If you’re handing out business cards in the hopes that the odds are in your favor that someone you give it to will remember you and want to do business with you then remember this: Yes, Vegas has winners, but there’s a reason the casinos can afford to keep all those glitzy lights on – it’s because gamblers usually don’t win!

Need a better strategy? Lev Promotions can help.

Is Social Media Marketing a Good Fit for You?

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I was speaking with a prospective client today and the subject of her current marketing tactics came up (naturally). She is very heavy into networking (yay!) and online marketing, especially through social media outlets.

Now, this business is a service-oriented business that has a certain hands-on requirement to it. Revenues are not generated through the sales of products and the services provided are pretty much carried out at the client’s location. This is not a business where teleconferencing or e-mail consultations will work.

That being said, I suggested that, perhaps, social media marketing is not where the majority of her time and energy should go.

Now, before all the social media junkies out there get in a tizzy, I am not suggesting letting this avenue go. I am simply saying that some businesses are better suited to marketing in this venue. Specifically, retail operations where you can ship orders out and location is irrelevant. Also, any service-type business which can be conducted via phone, internet, or even mail.

If, however, your business requires you to be fairly hands-on with your clients and you are limited to a certain geographic radius based on your time availability and/or costs involved, then a more localized marketing approach would probably serve you better.

Social media is great for building awareness and creating some legitimacy for your business. However, if having prospects who are across the world, across the country, or even across the state is not critical (or even desirable) for you, then you need to consider how much time/money you spend on social media and what type of posts you are making.

Make sure that you are not making offers that you couldn’t fulfill should someone take you up on it outside your normal geographic work area.

Finally, make sure you are making the necessary connections online and off that will grow your business.

How Do You Define Marketing Success?

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Setting defined goals for your marketing strategies is a given… at least it should be. After all, how do you know if a strategy has been successful if you don’t have a way to measure it or something to compare it to? Of course, to know if you’ve achieved true success, not only do you have to have something to measure, but that measurement has to be meaningful in terms of the growth of your business and the achievement of your goals.

With the explosion of social media marketing, the claims are everywhere about how “successful” businesses have been with their online campaigns. My experience is that this “success” is generally measured in terms of how many followers, friends and connections have been amassed. If your goal was to achieve x number of followers, friends and connections, then congratulations, you have indeed achieved success. Now, my question for you is: “Did your business grow as a result of this success?” If not, then did meeting your goal allow you to: get a business loan, win a contest, get a grant; or, did you just get bragging rights as to reaching your magic number of people who can press a button on their keyboard?

Social media is not the only culprit here. Does your phone ring off the hook because of a yellow pages ad you’ve placed? How many of those phone calls convert to business – enough to at least pay for the ad; or, are you just bragging about the fact that you had to hire someone to answer all those phone calls without paying attention to the money that’s being earned or spent?

Do you even know where your business is coming from? Are you tracking your various marketing outlets (newspaper ads, online ads, yellow pages, radio, TV, online, networking, e-mail, signage, etc…) to see what is and what is not getting people to contact you? If not, how do you know what is and is not working. Maybe it’s time to drop or tweak one outlet and put more of your resources into the ones that are producing results for you. Don’t forget to measure each individual marketing outlet. For instance, if you’ve taken out ads on multiple websites, you need to track each one individually so you know which ones are productive and which ones are not.

If you need more information on tracking your marketing hits, we have a tracking sheet template we can send you. Just e-mail your request to info@levpromotions.com.