Life is a sales job from beginning to end

Strange as it may seem, our life is made up of a series of “sales presentations”. Sales may not be your gig, but if you’re the boss you’re making presentations everyday. Be it a pitch to your Board, announcing a policy change to employees, selling an idea to your spouse, or just trying to win others over to your point of view – you need to punch up your people skills for winning pitches.

Like it or not we are all salesmen. Our lives are made up of a series of “sales presentations”, otherwise known as presenting one’s self in the best light possible. Whether we’re out for a job interview, trying for a raise, or just convincing our employees that a job must be accomplished – you are making a presentation.

To become masterful at it can be summed up in the acronym IPRESENT!

 I – involve your audience

Human nature is such that people support solutions that they help create, so involve them by allowing your audience to participate with questions or ideas. It goes without saying that to not involve key people is risky, because messages can be misunderstood. Your plans may be derailed before they begin if sufficient “buy-in” is lacking. Use lots of open-ended questions in your presentation to draw out the silent type.

 P – prepare your audience

Preparation is a key to success. Prepare your listeners to what’s coming during or before your presentation. Try these pre-meeting tactics:

• Assign task-related pre-work. This could be pre-reading or study of a problem, and the preparations of possible solutions. An example could be, “go and visit three kinds of accounts before the meeting.”
• Make pre-meeting contacts with those invited by email, phone, or in person. You might want to try an informal survey to get people’s position on the issues at hand.

Remember support on key or controversial matters can be established ahead of time by lobbying, if you know where to lobby.

 R – research your arsenal

Do your research! People who make it look easy and are effective presenters have a hidden arsenal. This is an arsenal of up-to-date, organized material that can be accessed quickly in ready-to-use form when needed. They have the stats to back up their ideas, and they have a mental arsenal of stories, examples, jokes, and ice-breakers to use when needed.

Your physical presentation could include tangible items relating to the issue such as recent articles clipped from newspapers or magazines, photographs, reports, and demonstration property. To become masterful in this art learn to maintain resources you can access for just the right thing at the right time.

 E – explain “Why?”

The next thing you must do is to explain “why?” The single most powerful thing you can do to convince your audience of something is to provide a convincing reason why they should do what you suggest or believe what you say. People want and need a clear “WIIFM” – “what’s in it for me?” – to be able to react positively to what you want them to do. It’s extremely important that you deliver a vision of benefits. Hearing the “why” won’t automatically generate a “yes” to your proposition, but it’ll open the door for receptivity to your idea.

Knowing and accepting the “why” satisfies a basic need that we all have – to understand the purpose of our actions. Use the words “because” or “so that” in your presentation and then finish the phrase. When your subject matter is controversial or likely to generate emotions, it is essential that your “why’s” be tested in advance. Ask some people you trust or that are on your “team” to play devil’s advocate to help you with your logic and arguments.

These are just the first four points for making successful presentations. There are eight of them in total, and we’ll look at the other four in my column next week. For now, let me leave you with this thought.

Life is a sales job from beginning to end. From the moment that we discern how to get approval as children, winning friends at school, getting our first beau, getting our first (and subsequent) job, getting engaged and married, achieving our goals, and anything else you can think of in between – we’re selling ourselves or our ideas all along the way. Who said you weren’t a salesperson?

“S” stands for State (mental) Management. The mental state of the successful presenter must be congruent with the message. If you don’t believe that, try giving a pep talk to your sales force when you’re depressed – it won’t work! You must be aware of and manage your own mental state and that of your listeners or communication channels will not be open. I don’t have space to elaborate on methods of doing this, but here are a few key hints. First, “AAI” – act as if. Act the way you want to feel, it’s amazing how this works. Use music to set the mood if necessary, dress the part, and reduce your anxiety by whatever method works for you. Remember that you’re the one in charge, and presentation mastery isn’t about being perfect – it’s about achieving your objective.

“E” is for eliminating the unknowns. Fear of public speaking ranks high on most people’s list of worst fears. You may find you’re unusually nervous, develop poor voice tone or negative body language, and be unable to respond to audience feedback. Managing your anxiety permits you to focus on your audience and their needs. The basic approach to do this is the asking ourselves a list of “what if?” questions. Another way to overcome our fear is to take ownership of the situation. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Double check your notes, and prepare yourself.

“N” is fudging a little by using the second letter of the word “know” – as in kNow Your Audience. Whether it is one person or many that you are presenting to you must do three basic things: Meet their needs, reduce tension, and avoid mistakes. A good knowledge of the listeners will give you a chance to tailor your objectives to meet their needs. This also allows you to reduce the “audience-presenter” tension so they will focus on what you’re saying. With a clear knowledge of your audience’s views you’ll be sensitive to potential “hot buttons”.

“T” stands for “Tailor Your Presentation Throughout”. Boring listeners leads to missed objectives or total failure. You must be flexible and responsive to your audience. To do this you need to use techniques that will give you audience feedback; you must diagnose the cause of the problem you’re addressing, and finally you must choose the solution to act upon.

When you’re presenting watch for non-verbal behavior such as clock-watching, foot-tapping, and cat-napping. When any of these are present get some feedback with, “Is it too warm in here?” or “Should I pick up the pace?” That breaks the attention or lack of, of the audience and brings them back to your talk. One important thing to remember is that the mind can absorb no more than the seat can endure. Sometimes a simple thing like taking a short stretch break will solve the problem.

The techniques for achieving your most desired outcomes are at your fingertips, when you remember that life is a series of presentations.

Internet Marketing Introduction

Today, most people access the internet for information, products and services. All entrepreneurs have turned their attention to the World Wide Web because it reaches so many people so quickly. Sales are increased dramatically and expenses are not necessarily smaller, but different. If a company had a small shop in a rural town, they would have employees and other expenses. If this same company had an online business, they would probably not have as many employees on the clock. They may have the same amount of expenses but they would be different. There would be advertising costs, web design costs, search engine optimization costs, affiliate or joint venture costs, among others.

Nevertheless, selling products or services online has become very popular for many new entrepreneurs ranging in all ages, even as young as 15. If you run a small business online where you sell an information product, such as an eBook, you can write the eBook yourself as a guru on the topic. For example, let’s say you studied religion in college and got a PH.D in this subject. You write up an eBook explaining a drastic point of view concerning scriptures. You make sure it is information packed and very good quality. You sell it for 14.95 dollars to whoever is interested and you get their email address so you can forward them new updated info. You now have an email list so you can keep in contact with your buyers and possibly sell them other products in the future. You keep track of all your sales, you take care of customer service, and you handle everything. Guess what? You keep 100 percent of the profits.

Obviously, some companies are MUCH more complicated than that. But you get the picture; online marketing is a piece of cake. All you need is an idea and an internet marketing business plan of action. In other words, you do not need millions to start up a company on the internet. All you need is a great idea and the drive to do most of the work yourself.

HOW YOU CAN GET FREE RADIO ADVERTISING

The greatest expense you’re going to incur in conducting a
successful business is advertising.

You have to advertise. Your business cannot grow and flourish
unless you advertise. Advertising is the “life-blood” of any
profitable business. And regardless of where or how you
advertise, it’s going to cost you in some form or another.

Every successful business is built upon, and continues to thrive,
primarily, on good advertising. The top companies in the world
allocate millions of dollars annually to their advertising
budget. of course, when starting from a garage, basement or
kitchen table, you can’t quite match their advertising
efforts—at least not in the beginning. But there is a way you
can approximate their maneuvers without actually spending their
kind of money. And that’s through “P.I” Advertising.

“P.I.” stands for per inquiry. This kind of advertising is most
generally associated with broadcasting, where you pay only for
the responses you get to your advertising message. It’s very
popular–somewhat akin to bartering–and is used by many more
advertisers than most people realize. The advantages of PI
Advertising are all in favor of the advertiser because with this
kind of an advertising arrangement, you can pay only for the
results the advertising produces.

To get in on this “free” advertising, start with a loose leaf
notebook, and about 100 sheets of filler paper. Next, either
visit your public library and start poring through the Broadcast
Yearbook on radio stations in the U.S., or Standard Rate and Data
Services Directory on Spot Radio. Both these publications will
give you just about all the information you could ever want about
licensed stations.

An easier way might be to call or visit one of your local radio
stations, and ask to borrow (and take home with you) their
current copy of either of these volumes. To purchase them
outright will cost $50 to $75.

Once you have a copy of either of these publications, select the
state or states you want to work first. It’s generally best to
begin in your own state and work outward from there. If you have
a moneymaking manual, you might want to start first with those
states reporting the most unemployment.

Use some old fashioned common sense. Who are the people most
likely to be interested in your offer, and where are the largest
concentrations of these people? You wouldn’t attempt to sell
windshield de-ice canisters in Florida, or suntan lotion in
Minnesota during the winter months, would you?

At any rate, once you’ve got your beginning “target” area decided
upon, go through the radio listings for the cities and towns in
that area, and jot down in your notebook the names of general
mangers, the station call letters, and addresses. be sure to list
the telephone numbers as well.

On the first try, list only one radio station per city. Pick out
the station people most interested in your product would be
listening to. This can be determined by the programming
description contained within the date block about the station in
the Broadcasting Yearbook or the SRDS Directory.

The first contact should be in the way of introducing yourself,
and inquiring if they would consider a PI Advertising campaign.
You tell the station manger that you have a product you feel will
sell very well in his market, and would like to test it before
going ahead with a paid advertising program. You must quickly
point out that your product sells for, say $5, and that during
this test, you would allow him 50% of that for each response his
station pulls for you. Explain that you will handle everything for
him: the writing of the commercials, all accounting and
bookkeeping, plus any refunds or complaints that come in. In
other words, all he has to do is schedule your commercials on his
log, and give them his “best shot.” When the responses come in,
he counts them, and forwards them on to you for fulfillment. You
make out a check for payment to him, and everybody is happy.

If you’ve contacted him by phone, and he agrees to look over your
material, tell him thank you and promise to get a complete
“package” in the mail to him immediately. Then do just that.
Write a short cover letter, place it on top of your “ready-to-go”
PI Advertising Package, and get it in the mail to him without
delay.

If you’re turned down, and he is not interested in “taking on”
any PI Advertising, just tell him thanks, make a notation in your
notebook by his name, and go to your next call. Contacting these
people by phone is by far the quickest, least expensive and most
productive method of “exploring” for those stations willing to
consider your PI proposal. In some cases though, circumstances
will deem it to be less expensive to make this initial contact by
letter or postcard.

In that case, simply address you card or letter to the person you
are trying to contact. Your letter should be positive in tone,
straight forward and complete. Present all the details in logical
order on one page, perfectly typed on letterhead paper, and sent
in a letterhead envelope. (Rubber-stamped letterheads just won’t
get past a first glance.) Ideally, you should include a
self-addressed and stamped postcard with spaces for positive or
negative check marks in answer to your questions: Will you or
won’t you over my material and consider a mutually profitable
“Per Inquiry” advertising campaign on your station?

Once you have an agreement from your contact at the radio station
that they will look over your materials and give serious
consideration for a PI program, move quickly, getting your cover
letter and package off by First Class mail, perhaps even Special
Delivery.

What this means is at the same time you organize your “radio
station notebook,” you’ll also want to organize your advertising
package. Have it all put together and ready to mail just as soon
as you have a positive response. Don’t allow time for that
interest in your program to cool down.

You’ll need a follow-up letter. Write one to fit all situations;
have 250 copies printed, and then when you’re ready to send out a
package, all you’ll have to do is fill in the business salutation
and sign it. If you spoke of different arrangements or a specific
matter was discussed in your initial contact, however, type a
different letter incorporating comments or answers to the points
discussed. This personal touch won’t take long, and could pay
dividends!

You’ll also need at least two thirty-second commercials and two
sixty-second commercials. You could write these up, and have 250
copies printed and organized as a part of your PI Advertising
Package.

You should also have some sort of advertising contract written
up, detailing everything about your program, and how everything
is to be handled; how and when payment to the radio station is to
be made, plus special paragraphs relative to refunds, complaints,
and liabilities. All this can be very quickly written up and
printed in lots of 250 or more on carbonless multi-part snap-out
business forms.

Finally, you should include a self-addressed and stamped postcard
the radio station can use to let you know that they are going to
use your PI Advertising program, when they will start running
your commercials on the air, and how often, during which time
periods. Again, you simply type out the wording in the form you
want to use on these “reply postcards”, and have copies printed
for your use in these mailings.

To review this program: Your first step is the initial contact
after searching through the SRDS or Broadcasting Yearbook. Actual
contact with the stations is by phone or mail. When turned down,
simply say thanks, and go to the nest station on the list. For
those who want to know more about your proposal, you immediately
get a PI Advertising Package off to them via the fastest way
possible. Don’t let the interest wane.

Your Advertising Package should contain the following:
1. Cover letter
2. Sample brochure, product literature
3. Thirty-second and sixty-second commercials
4. PI Advertising Contract
5. Self-addressed, stamped postcard for station acknowledgment and
acceptance of your program.

Before you ask why you need an acknowledgment postcard when you
have already given them a contact, remember that everything about
business changes from day to day—conditions change, people get
busy, and other things come up. the station manager may sign a
contract with your advertising to begin the 1st of March. The
contract is signed on the 1st of January, but when March 1 rolls
around, he may have forgotten, been replaced, or even decided
against running your program. A lot of paper seemingly “covering
all the minute details” can be very impressive to many radio
station managers, and convince them that your company is a good
one to do business with.

Let’s say that right now you’re impatient to get started with
your own PI Advertising campaign. Before you “jump off the deep
end,” remember this: Radio station people are just as
professional and dedicated as anyone else in business—even more
so in some instances–so be sure you have a product or service
that lends itself well to selling via radio inquiry system.

Anything can be sold, and sold easily with any method you decide
upon, providing you present it from the right angle. “hello out
there! Who wants to buy a mailing list for 10 cents a thousand names?”
wouldn’t even be allowed on the air. However, if you have the
addresses of the top 100 movie stars, and you put together an
idea enabling the people to write to them direct, you might have
a winner, and sell a lot of mailing lists of the stars.

At the bottom line, a lot is riding on the content of your
commercial—the benefits you suggest to the listener, and how
easy it is for him to enjoy those benefits. For instance, if you
have a new book on how to find jobs when there aren’t any jobs.
You want to talk to people who are desperately searching for
employment. You have to appeal to them in words that not only
“perk up” their ears, but cause them to feel that whatever it is
that you’re offering will solve their problems. It’s the product,
and in writing of the advertising message about that product are
going to bring in those responses.

Radio station managers are sales people, and sales people the
world over will be sold on your idea if you put your selling
package together properly. And if the responses come in your
first offer, you have set yourself up for an entire series of
successes. Success has a “ripple effect,” but you have to start
on that first one. We wish you success!

Guerilla Marketing vs. Big Bucks

Many entrepreneurs market via outreach events, be it trade shows or presenting seminars, and budgets to schmooze clients and impress friends are getting tight.

Now that the economy is back in the spotlight, with gasoline at $2.60+ a gal., big companies announcing layoffs, and prices rising across the board, the time is here to tighten our belts and squeeze that marketing dollar until it squeals. Believe me the rhetoric that the economy is getting better is just that – political rhetoric, and isn’t coming from the business community in the trenches. We know better!

Even though lavish budgets are history, the creative entrepreneur can still use events as a marketing tool if he/she rolls up sleeves and goes into “guerilla marketing” mode. Creativity is the key! The time for promoting an event and waiting to see who registers within 6 to 8 weeks is past. The first’s thing to remember, is that no amount of cajoling, marketing, or freebies will compel attendance at your event if it doesn’t offer real value to the attendee.

People expect to be exposed to valuable content, and aren’t attending just for the networking. With that as a given, let me give you some guerilla marketing tips.

1. Save the expensive advertising you usually do 6 to 8 weeks before the event and use “referrals”. Many of your pasts attendees are either employees of companies or in business themselves, and have contacts and friends they talk with regularly. This source is often overlooked, and you’ve got direct access to them. Send them an invitation as if they were customers, and ask them to pass it on to one or two people they know that might be interested. You could even make it more enticing by having a form at the door for attendees that asks who referred them, and providing some incentive for the person that referred the most attendees.

2. Don’t overlook clubs, associations or other local groups. Many not-for-profit groups have charters that state their members will be informed about opportunities that will enhance their membership, career and education. Put together a promotional kit announcing your event, an agenda, and offering a discount to the group’s members. You can also offer the association something for free – a full registration, print ad, magazine rack, exhibit space or a sponsoring logo on your Website – whatever is feasible in you line of business. Don’t miss the opportunity of offering your services as a speaker at some of the group or association meetings, and even bringing some event brochures with you after you have the leader’s approval.

3. Local business – the bookmark brigade. If your event relies heavily on local participation, then work through the businesses used every day. A most successful and fun outreach program is to implement a Bookmark Brigade on behalf of the businesses. These are special announcement bookmarks printed with the name of the event, dates, location, and Website on one side and the local business name on the other. Make them big and bright, and get a team loaded with bookmarks to visit every business shop, coffee shop, bookstore, grocery stores, newsstands, cleaners, music stores, and libraries all over the area. Some stores may even let you hang a poster. Give something to the manager or in-store sales personnel as you do this. Maybe a free T-shirt, or pass to the event. The printing bill is bound to run less than half or full-page ads in the relevant weekend newspapers.

4. Your event sponsors and exhibitors are your best allies, as well as a support network of resources for recruiting attendees. Twenty percent of them will support your event because they can, the rest won’t due to limited resources or conflicting agendas. Use any of the tools already mentioned with your partners, or trade a contact database of theirs to be used for telemarketing for promoting the sponsor in the telephone blitz. Offer this database a discounted rate and attribute the discount to the sponsor for their client. Everyone wins!

5. Offer your sponsors tools like posters or tabletop signs they can post in their lobbies. Visitors can learn about the event while waiting for their appointments. This expands your word of mouth, and may even draw additional sponsors. Of course, you’ve already negotiated an event logo and listing presence on your sponsor’s website – haven’t you?

Some key points to remember in any outreach promotion are to build in a tracking method on each marketing piece, such as unique URLs and/or codes on registration. Be ready to offer incentives such as discounts or gifts to gain access to clubs or sponsors members, lists or audience. Lastly, have the appropriate marketing tool kit ready before you start. It should contain such things as Web banners, email templates, sample sales copy, and special offer announcements packaged for easy access.

In good times or bad, these tips will help any entrepreneur draw more interest in their activity or event. A good outreach program promotes special relationships with your sponsors, community and attendees better than any other marketing activity can before the event. Using guerilla marketing tactics in lieu of bucks takes creativity, elbow grease, and luck.

Markets & The Dynamics of Competition

Today marketing is not the same as it was in the ‘60s or ‘70s, because there are enough products to satisfy customer’s needs. In fact customers are “hyper-satisfied”! Companies have segmented the market until it has become almost too small to service profitably.

Distribution is now largely in the hands of giant corporations such as Wal-Mart and Costco. There are more brands and fewer producers, products “life” have been shortened, and it’s cheaper to replace than to repair – all complicating the process further.
Marketing has always started with identifying the needs of your customer, but many companies are now focusing on the product. They focus on what category it falls into, and then what sub-category (for instance pudding and then what flavors). By focusing on the product, companies then focus on who’ll use the product, and those considered “not using” are excluded from the picture. In doing this, you’ve just given your competitor a target market.

You may have captured 75% of your “user market” because you have a USP (unique selling position) i.e.; more flavors, more convenient packaging, longer shelf life, etc. But why can’t YOU also take care of the other 25% instead of your competitor?

To do that, requires a new way of thinking known as “Lateral Marketing”. Stop thinking about how you can keep the 75% in love with your product (Vertical Marketing), think about drawing in the 25% of the market that wasn’t your customer. This is done by innovative thinking. This may be seen as further “segmenting” the market-place, but at the same time it’s making it bigger.

Let’s say you sell soap. You’ve captured 75% of your market because of some formulary development that makes more suds with less product. The 25% that your competition is trying to capture would rather spend less for soap, than use less. Your method of also capturing that 25% is to start thinking “innovation” and not different product.

Lateral Marketing works within the original category of product and complements it, not competes with it. You could come up with a soap with more bleach, with less foam, fragrance free, with more foam. You can innovate by size – selling in large economy packs, selling in individual packs, and do this without ever changing the formula of the product. This type of marketing works best for mature markets with no growth (after all, what new uses can you come up with for soap). It also can create markets from scratch, requires greater resources, and may redefine your company’s mission and business focus.

This innovative method of marketing doesn’t create “new” categories or markets, it always occurs “within” the category where the idea originated. If you’ve done everything right, you’ve garnered the 25% of customers that might have got away and it didn’t require a lot of overhead – you’re still producing soap!

An Online Newsletter

When you start an online newsletter you have the opportunity to collect opt-in email addresses to build your subscription base and establish creditability with your subscribers so that they may want to purchase products from you, a trusting source. The best part about an online newsletter is that it is free to start up. With an online newsletter you can offer your subscribers juicy daily or weekly information and they will love it. It will slowly build up their curiosity and they may purchase a monthly membership or products from you because they love receiving the information you supply. Now, if you send them junk, the complete opposite will occur, so having an online newsletter takes work, but you can always pay someone to do it for you. So, with all this work put into it should you consider charging for subscription. That depends on what you want to accomplish. Do you want to attract visitors and entice them to your main product. Or are you only offering an online newsletter with no products. How often do you send out autoresponders and how in depth and valuable is your newsletter. Is this information easily found free somewhere else on the Internet.

Free newsletters are much easier because you can get a lot of people opt-in and you can sell them a subscription in the future. Everyone loves free stuff. Occasionally, at the end of the email you may want to offer special subscriber only promotions or notify your subscribers of new products or services. You could even offer special subscriber only bonuses with a purchase.

By the way, if you send your subscribers what begins to look like sales letters, they will opt out quicker than you can say wait! Be careful because this is your potential customer crowd and it is like gold to you.