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Archive for September, 2012

The thought of going to a networking meeting can bring some people out in a cold sweat, but as long as you realise it’s all about relationship building and NOT selling then there really is nothing to be scared about.
Basically it is just common sense.
Networking is about getting to know people, helping each other out and growing your business at the same time.
For example if you are an accountant and you take on a new client setting up a gardening business you could recommend him to the leaflet printer at the networking group. The leaflet printer gets an enquiry and possibly a sale and you will be more likely to then get a referral back sometime in the future.
I will stress at this point that things do not happen overnight – so do not expect to go to one networking meeting and have 50 more clients by the following morning, it really doesn’t work like that and it does take time.
To find groups in your area just try good old Google or contact your local Chamber of Commerce and Business link. There is generally a charge for attend as most group will include some sort of refreshments and sometimes a guest speaker. Make sure you take business cards and is possible wear a badge showing your name, company and logo.
It can still be daunting to walk through the door, but remember you are actually in a room full of people who want to know what you do and how you can help them.  Ask people questions about their business and get to know what they are looking for, they will automatically ask you about your business so there is no need to ‘sell’. The worst part at most networking groups is the Elevator Pitch, this is where everyone in the room gets to stand up and give a 60 speech about who they are, what they do and what business they are looking for. If you are worried about standing up in front of people make sure you are prepared, practice a speech before hand (usually about 120 words is good) and do not waffle on, say what needs to be said and sit down, you will not be appreciated for mumbling on for 5 minutes.
And have fun, networking is about harnessing opportunities to reach out to the right people, by being genuine, building trust and demonstrating what you can do for them.

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 Starved of Oxygen Cash
A challenge to many small businesses is getting paid by customers. Cash is like oxygen to a business and without it your business could die.
Sometimes, even great businesses fail due to the starvation of cash.
So I would like to ask – do you have a debt recovery system?
If you don’t do anything to chase those who owe you money then it’s unlikely you’ll ever get that money.
Here are a few points to think about:-
·         Firstly what are your payment terms? 30 days? Is this really necessary? How about reducing to 7 of 14 days or where possibly upfront payment.
·         Water, phone etc. are cut off if not paid for so stop providing services to any bad payers immediately.
·         Dedicate a member of staff or allocate one day a week/month to chase debtors.
·         Get accounting software that provides a debtors report showing how long they are overdue i.e. 0 – 30 days, 30 – 60 days, 60 – 90 days.
·         Be prepared when you call debtors, make sure you have account details and invoice numbers in front of you and always make notes of when you called and of what was said. Then set a diary date to their next call.
·         Always speak to the right person – if you sell business2business speak to the person responsible for paying you, if they can’t help go above them.
·         Write a standard overdue letter and post with a statement.
·         If dealing business2business check before you take the job what their payment terms are and get a Purchase Order number & place this on all correspondence to them.
·         If a customer is struggling would you consider taking part-payments or a settlement figure, remember 80% of the money is better than 0%.
·         Don’t be afraid to stop dealing with a bad payer. Fact: 20% of customers will take up 80% of your time. Give up that bad paying customer and replace with one in in the 80% bracket.
Thanks for reading.
Follow me on Twitter @business_gen  

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Are you sending out the same marketing material you were, say, 2 or 3 years ago?  How many times do you think current, past & potential customers have seen that material already and what kind of assumptions do you think they are making about it?
In a recession, brand new marketing materials, leaflets, brochures, posters etc. may be beyond the reach of the small business owner. So instead of a complete overhaul simply revamp your existing materials.
I’m not talking about changing your brand, as your brand is very important, but maybe just a new lease of life to those old promotions and leaflets.
Think changing colours, updating images, revamping the covers, new exciting promotions.
Flirt with new formats.  How else could you present your ‘wares’?  Familiarity is good, but it also breeds contempt.
Work on those sales letters bring them up to date and try some new copywriting ideas. This is quick and easy and you can do it yourself so cost-free as well!
Don’t let people bin your promotions with the other junk mail, liven them up and get noticed again.

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More of

Danielle LaPorte Posted a thought provoking question today, by asking:-

 

What would you be more of if you let go of the past?

 

What wouldn’t I do seems more appropriate! I would feel like a completely different person –  no more inhibitions  and no more caring about what other people think.

I would be the singer I’ve always wanted to be. I wouldn’t care what came out of my mouth, I would just be grateful for my voice and enjoy every second of it. It would be a life or freedom.

What would you be more of if you could let go of the past? And from a business point of view what could you let your business be if you let go of the past?

Did you make a mistake with a client and now too scared to approach them again? If we let go of the past of a whole new business lift could open up.

Check out Danielle’s post http://www.daniellelaporte.com/burning-questions-series/a-question-for-cleaning-your-slate/ 

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My company recently did its yearly leaflet drop. This costs a fair amount of money especially over the 9 areas which it operates. The costs include design and print of the leaflets, delivery of the leaflets to the distributors and then the distribution to 127,000 homes (that’s just one area).

Now when I saw the leaflets I was less than impressed. It was bigger than A5 and on very cheap paper making it very floppy and it tended to rip quite easily. I won’t go into the actual design and text at this time – but believe me it should have been much better.

A couple of weeks after the leaflets had gone out I was at a networking breakfast and was approached by a gentleman that does design and print work such as leaflets, business cards etc. He hadn’t received one of our floppy leaflets, but, one of his friends had, and his friend had passed it to him saying ‘’these people need your help’’. Embarrassed was not the word! The gentleman then produced his business card and asked if I could pass it one to head office and he would be happy to help them on their next leaflet run.

This made me think just how many other people picked up that leaflet off their door mat and either consciously or unconsciously recognised the poor, cheap quality. Has this now affected whether or not people buy from us? Do the local community now see us as cheap or unprofessional?

I’m not sure if I’m in a position to answer those questions but what I can tell is our branch received only a 0.01% response from the leaflet drop.

My advice is to produce marketing material that is suitable for your business and your business’s needs. If you’re trying to get people to spend thousands of pounds with you then don’t skimp on the marketing materials – show that your company has value. Likewise, if you are maybe only trying to get new customers to spend just a small amount each, then don’t go over board and bankrupt yourself by getting luxury silk leaflets.

And always get a second opinion – you may love your design but you are biased, so please get an honest opinion and see it as a positive way of improving your marketing.

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