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What Are The Steps To Properly Brand My New Startup Company? (My Answer)

Two questions from Brad Ashmore, Practical Technology Services:

1. “Can you provide the steps to properly brand my new startup company?”

2. “What is the best way to find a qualified business partner to join me in this new venture?”

As a new startup, you have a special place in my heart because I’ve been in your shoes. And since you’re a newbie, I wanted to make sure I address both of these questions. First off, my best piece of advice I can give you is to figure out what your niche is going to be. The hardest thing to get rolling is a plain vanilla company trying to be all things to all people. One of the BEST things I did early on in my business was seek out a niche. It took me over a year of fumbling around before I found it, but it was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. Not only does marketing get easier, but your systems and processes can be scaled more effectively and profits are higher because you become more efficient. You can also become a true expert in delivering one type of result for one type of customer, making your expertise worth more (if you’re good, of course). All of my programs talk about researching your CUSTOMERS first. Since you’re a startup, you have the ADVANTAGE of choosing who you want to make your customer. My hope is that you see it that way and don’t dismiss the wisdom in my program by thinking you can’t use it because you don’t have any customers. You just need to decide upon and research the niche you choose. Read full article and comment →

When To STOP Marketing To Someone On Your List

Here’s a question I often get: “At what point should you stop marketing to someone on your list?” My personal opinion is that you never stop unless they specifically tell you to stop, give you reason to believe they will never buy from you or they give some indication that they aren’t the type of client you’d want to acquire. No point in shooting bullets at targets that, even if you hit them, don’t count for anything. But for most, leads are given up on way too soon. Considering the fact that most businesses are on a 3-5 year schedule to upgrade their server or network, you need to let a prospect “simmer” for at least that long before you can count them unconvertible.

In a business builder interview I did with Dean Jackson, he gave some powerful insight into this question. Dean has spent the greater part of his professional career developing marketing strategies for realtors. One of the strategies he teaches them is to use a monthly newsletter and/or postcard to stay in front of potential prospects so that when that prospect is ready to sell their house, they will think of that realtor and give them the business. Simple. Given the fact that most people don’t sell their house all that often, this question comes up frequently with his clients as well because sending a monthly MAILED newsletter year after year can get pricey.

But Dean shared that one of his clients who was excellent at tracking and reporting numbers showed him recently that only 5% of the leads they generate decide to list their home with his real estate practice in the first 3 months of showing interest. But, 10% would list with them within 3-6 months, and 40% would list with them in the 6-12 month range. Even more interesting is that 25% would list with them 12-18 months after their initial contact, and 20% after 18 months. That means a full 45% of the clients they acquired came in AFTER the SECOND year of marketing to them. If they gave up marketing to these leads after 3 months, they would be missing out on 95% of the business they could get. And given the fact that most real estate deals represent thousands of dollars in commission, I think it can easily be argued that the money invested over 2 years in monthly newsletters is a BARGAIN compared to the return. Read full article and comment →

An Easy Way To Bring Value To Your Clients While Staying Top Of Mind

Below is an e-mail I received from long-standing Apprentice Member, Bennett Tavar. Whenever there is a new virus, scam or phishing e-mail that is taking hold, Bennett sends out a “LBS Security Alert” e-mail like the one below. As you can see this is just a simple, text e-mail alerting me (and his clients of course) to the new threat. He’s not sending them EVERY time a new virus appears—that would be a daily job—but only when there is a big enough threat that is taking hold and spreading fast online.  I’ll bet this e-mail took all of 5 minutes to create and send, yet this alone has more value than 99% of the junk newsletters I get with boring, off-target content. If you want a simple and easy way to stay in touch with clients, you’re looking at it. I would suggest that you add on two things:

1. Encourage the people to send this to their friends and staff to make sure they are aware as well, and…

2.  Mention that “as a <<name of managed services>> client, we’re monitoring your network for suspicious activity. However, if you aren’t a <<name of managed services >> member, simply reply to this e-mail for more information on how we can monitor and maintain your network’s safety against these types of threats.”

Additionally, this COULD be a weekly e-mail alert that summarizes any new scams online that could be a potential threat to your clients. Plus, with all the scams, viruses and cyber criminals cropping up, this could be an EASY way to “appropriately touch” your clients (thanks, Peter). Read full article and comment →

How To Become A Celebrity IT Consultant In Your Area

Below is an outstanding marketing strategy being implemented by Producers Club Member and former Genius of the Month Pam Viveiros, co-owner of ThinkTech Computers. Pam has secured an AM radio spot as the fresh new “Kim Komando,” answering technology-related questions, and has set up a Facebook fan page with links back to the radio station for content, positioning herself as a celebrity expert on the topic of IT.

Read full article and comment →

Video Blogs: The Next “Big Thing” in Marketing?

Fresh off the launch of my new Million Dollar Managed Services Blueprint (http://www.managedservicesblueprint.com), I wanted to let you in on a little tip…

Video Blogs ROCK

Admittedly, I’m a relative newbie to this media with lots to learn; and whether or not this will work for you will largely depend on who you are marketing to and whether or not you can actually produce relevant and interesting content.  But over the last year, I’ve seen many of my colleagues use a proliferation of short, unedited videos on their blogs to convince me this is something I need to use in my marketing mix.  Some  of the video blogs I’ve been following are done very professionally, like those made by Bob Parsons, CEO of GoDaddy.com (www.bobparsons.me), which is my personal favorite, while others are literally rough, spur-the-moment flip video shoots like my friend, Bedros Keuilian, who does marketing for personal trainers (www.ptpower.com).  The key to success (I’m finding) is to post something either controversial or educational and get people to comment.   This not only helps in lifting SEO, but it also engages your visitors, and acts like an ongoing “ask campaign”.  What you need is simple:  a YouTube account (for videos of 10 minutes or less) and a Flip Video camera.  Do not get hung up on being perfect or you’ll never get it done.  As you can see at http://managedservicesblueprint.com/live/blog/, it’s really not that difficult. Read full article and comment →

Go Hang Off of a Billboard “Naked” During Rush Hour Traffic!

This is a continuing series of posts of my top 8 New Years Resolutions for IT Marketers.  This is part 3 out of a 4 part series…  If you haven’t read them yet, make sure to check out Part I and Part II from last week.

New Years Resolution #5:  If you’re going to pick the lock and steal the treasure map, use it!

Here’s an all-too-typical example of what I’m talking about… 

A marketing campaign was e-mailed to me for critique from a long-standing member (who, by the way, should know better both about the campaign which I’ll explain in a minute AND e-mailing me something important, expecting a response). He’s perplexed as to why he’s getting no response from his campaign when he’s “using the strategies exactly as I teach.” Except…

He’s sending a postcard instead of enveloped mail using the sneak up approach. Except, he’s mailing a cold list without scrubbing it first.  Except, the postcard has no testimonials, no headline and doesn’t SELL the free audit.  Except that despite the fact he’s mailed the list before, he’s only mailed the same offer once, and mailed the other offers about a month later, not referencing the first, building no urgency to respond, no deadline and confusing the prospect with a different offer each time. Except, except, except. Other than that, he’s following my strategies exactly as I’ve taught them.  Now I’m not beating up on this poor fellow because I give him credit for taking action and trying…also for reaching out to us when things are going pear shaped…BUT it does need to be pointed out because I see so many other members making these same mistakes. This is like having the plans for baking a cake, but you leave out the eggs, cut the flour in half and bake it for only half the time, then wonder why you have something that looks like a flat uncooked pancake instead of an award-winning chocolate cake. Look, learning new skills takes time and practice and you can’t do it half-way. If you want to generate the same success as someone else, you have to model their behavior and actions to a “T,” not just doing what is convenient, easy or agreeable to you. Vary from the process even a little bit and you’re not going to get the same results. Read full article and comment →

My Brainstorm Lunch with a Billionaire

Me & Sir Richard

As many of you know, back in October I flew out to LA to attend a private, 1-hour brainstorm session with Richard Branson, the 261st richest person on the planet (according to Fortune Magazine). This meeting was organized by Joe Polish who runs the Master Mind group I belong to. In attendance was yours truly along with 16 other very successful entrepreneurs including Yanik Silver, Eban Pagen, Brad Fallon, and Joe Sugarman to name a few. The meeting was tied to Branson‟s “Rock the Kasbah” charity event to raise money for Virgin Unite, a non-profit that uses business as a force for good in helping build entrepreneurs in impoverished countries, helping the homeless, improving healthcare and dealing with environmental issues.

What impressed me the most about Branson was how polite, considerate and downright charming he is. You would imagine most of the mega-rich to be arrogant, but he was incredibly gracious in answering our questions and showing an interest in each of our businesses. When one of the people in the room handed him a book they wrote, he pushed it back across the table insisting that they sign it. Small thing, but a perfect example of his character. There were a few things he said that struck me, but nothing that really surprised me. I had taken the time to read his books in advance of the meeting so I already knew a lot about his personal philosophy on business, people and success; and as you might imagine, it’s fairly close to the same success principles you’ll read in many other multi-millionaire’s “how I did it” books. The more I study success and the wealthy, the more I’ve come to the conclusion: there’s no secret to getting rich, successful or achieving any other worthy goal in life. The examples and lessons are all well documented in piles of books on the subject, with nothing held back. I believe it’s simply a matter of your determination to achieve more and ability to carry goals and projects through to their successful completion without excuses. That’s it.

As I coach IT business owners and take calls from members who are struggling, I see a consistent theme in all of them: they’re dabbling. They’ve “tried” to do a little networking, “tried” JVs, “tried” sending out newsletters, etc., etc. Tried being the operative word. They’ve skimmed and skipped over the research with clients, gathering testimonials and case studies, researching their competition and don’t measure or track their performance on a regular basis. They’ve not really committed to the work involved by clearly defining their value proposition. In fact, I can usually stump clients with one or two easy questions regarding how many active clients they have or revenue and profits to date. Worst of all, they KNOW they aren’t giving it the effort it deserves, but still seek an easy way out, some magic pill to fix what’s wrong. This conversation often leads to the second most common request I hear from struggling clients, which is the desire to have someone to hold them accountable or someone to “do it all for them.”

That’s a scapegoats excuse. No one is going to make you successful — only YOU can do that for yourself; and wishing for someone to be your “Mommy” and make you do what you already know you should be doing is not the answer. Personal trainers can’t make you thin if you cancel appointments, constantly complain about them working you too hard, give it only a 70% effort and then hit Burger King on your way home. Sure they can encourage and guide you, but they can’t MAKE you successful at losing weight.

Richard Branson didn’t look for someone to hold him accountable or to do his marketing for him when he was starting up, nor did any other highly successful business owner. And no one did it for them…THEY made the phone calls, connections and marketing early on before they were able to hire people to help them execute. THEY designed their vision and plan to get there, and they executed on it. Not a marketing agency, not a coach. I‟ve never heard of any truly successful entrepreneur who completely delegated the responsibility of revenue generation or marketing strategy of their organization.

I do realize this is not a popular answer with clients and they would rather work for someone who would “do it all for them.” But where those companies, services and people already EXIST— what they are looking to delegate is the STRATEGY and MANAGEMENT part, which is NOT something they should be delegating. Successful entrepreneurs aren’t upset or frustrated by this; they know it’s still up to them to set the direction and vision of their company, then formulate strategic plans to achieve their goals.

My Mastermind Group with Richard Branson

I know, here I go back to the difficult… Read full article and comment →

How To Score Appointments And Sales With Bigger Clients

7 Fundamentals To Successfully Sell To Bigger Accounts

  1. Approach prospects with CONFIDENCE. There is nothing more detrimental to the sales process than appearing needy, nervous or insecure.
  2. Start at the TOP.
  3. Never forget that you are dealing with PEOPLE and that EMOTIONS are driving their decisions regardless of how big or small the organization. The key drivers are:
    • Fear
    • Ego and Competitiveness (desire to be #1)
    • Wanting to feel important; make smart decisions
    • Avoiding embarrassment
    • Greed, turf protection and the desire for self-preservation
  1. Have a clear, strong, and quantifiable VALUE PROPOSITION that is meaningful to a C-Level decisionmaker.
    • Position yourself as a business consultant not a “techie”
    • Know what the NET benefits are if a client engages with you
    • Know why a prospect should choose YOU over any and every other option (USP or key differentiators)
  1. Never limit your touch point to ONLY ONE PERSON. Almost ALL decisions in larger companies are made by a group of people.
  2. RESEARCH your prospects carefully to know:
  • Who their customers are and what they do for them
  • Who the potential decisionmakers and influencers are
  • What industry trends are affecting them
  • Who their competitors are
  • What significant changes or initiatives are going on
  • What’s HOT in their industry right now
  • What’s controversial in their industry right now
  1. Remember, not everyone will see value in what you do or be ready to engage with you right away; the worst they can say is NO.

3 Execution Steps:

Step 1: Define Your Value Proposition And Key Differentiators Read full article and comment →