Why LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a great tool especially when your target is other businesses. Besides Facebook, it’s the other social media platform I believe every business and business person should be on. It has its own culture and ways of doing things so don’t use Facebook tactics over on LinkedIn. I will help you figure out if you should be spending time on LinkedIn and if so what you should be doing. Some businesses just need a presence there as it denotes legitimacy and confidence in your business. Other businesses should be more active on LinkedIn than on Facebook.

First, let’s look at the statistics of LinkedIn and why it is important. What do you want to know about using LinkedIn to increase your business? Your question could be the inspiration for the next infographic!

13 Steps to Your Business Surviving the Covid Economic Crisis.

How Can Your Business Survive the Covid 19 Economic Crisis? We are at the beginning of the economic impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic. Business is going to get worse before it gets better but agile and innovative entrepreneurs can survive if they have a strategy to get through the crisis. Keeping your business open is crucial since 75% of businesses that close in an economic crisis never reopen. 13 Steps to Your Business Surviving the Covid Economic Crisis.

In an economic crisis, entrepreneurs tend to bear the brunt of the negative impact but if they keep their eyes open and prepare to take advantage of opportunities that open up, they can not only survive but thrive. They can take market share from less agile competitors and become more profitable as they become leaner to fit the economic environment.

It’s difficult, but entrepreneurs must spot opportunities and be aggressive in capturing them. Look to the future and see how your business can take advantage of the new business landscape.

Here are 13 specific recommendations to get your business through the downturn.

  1. Keep a close eye on your cash flow. Conduct monthly forecasts and daily checks to make sure you have the operating cash to see you through. You should project where your business will be in 3 months as well as daily, weekly and monthly milestones. Negotiate with suppliers, landlords, and contractors to get a better price. They are feeling the pinch as well and might cut you a deal to keep cash flowing into their pockets. Look at bartering for goods and services you need. Take advantage of discounts for prompt payment and don’t pay other invoices until they are due. If cash flow is already a problem, talk to your creditors about payment extensions and don’t wait until the last minute.
  2. Get aggressive with collections (you don’t have to be mean to be aggressive). If a payment is due in 30 days, try and get it paid in 25 or 20. The cash is better in your pocket than theirs. Make sure your payment terms fit your business model and cash flow needs.
  3. Keep your inventory in check. A lot of cash can be tied up in unneeded inventory. Look at what inventory can be reduced, liquidated or sent back. It takes time and money to store products you don’t need right now. Keep enough on hand to keep orders fulfilled but try to switch to a just on time model for greater efficiency and less overhead.
  4. Build up your capital reserves. Become closer to your best customers and see how they are doing. This helps keep competitors at bay, keeps you informed if they can pay or not and puts you in a position to see opportunities. Set up calls and video conferences with as many customers as you can so you can win back customers who are unhappy and sell more to the ones who already love your services. Get as many long-term contracts as you are able and offer early payment discounts to get the money in the door sooner.
  5. Take a good long look at any capital spending. Delay long term projects and high-ticket items until the economic climate shifts. Tying up your resources now could spell our doom.
  6. Maintain a good relationship with your bank. Keep them informed of how you are doing. Banks like knowing where things stand so they can prepare. During economic times it isn’t advisable to get more credit. Increasing your debt load can put an undue burden on your business.
  7. Eliminate nonessential expenses as much as possible. Before spending any money ask if it is really needed. Do the same with your personal budget. Keep it simple and inexpensive.
  8. Try and reduce the cost of rented space. If you have too much room consider subletting the part that you don’t need at the moment. This reduces overhead and generates a little income as well as potentially helping another business out that needs space. Extra space that you rent takes away from your bottom line.
  9. Now is the time to reevaluate staffing, but don’t skimp. Service quality can suffer and your competition could earn business away from you. You may even consider hiring new sales staff during this time. If you are smart you can be aggressive in going after new business and expand while others contract. If you absolutely have to cut staffing do it early and cut deep. If you cut once then have to cut again (or suggest you may have to) then your staff will be worried about their job and not about doing their job. Put your company on stable footing so your employees aren’t worried and can concentrate on getting you more business.
  10. Concentrate on customer service to entice your current customers to spend more with you. As your customers buying power and interest in spending decrease, your customer service should increase to keep them coming back. Customer service is primarily viewed as a time issue by customers. Waiting time to get service, delivery time and how long it takes to help them all play a part in how they perceive they have been treated. People will abandon purchases if they believe the time it took to get help or get a delivery was unreasonably long. Look at your system and eliminate flaws that create time delays.
  11. A related issue is training. Sometimes the slow down is the perfect time to conduct training. Costs go down and there is more time between money-generating activities. Look at what skills will give you the advantage during the downturn and get the proper training for your staff.
  12. Make policy decisions alongside your employees. They are impacted by this downturn as well an being involved not only gives them ownership, it gives you a large pool of knowledge to draw from. “None of us is as smart as all of us” -Ken Blanchard. If workforce reductions are needed they can help figure out how to reduce hours and increase efficiency without having to go through the pain of layoffs. Meet with staff regularly to talk about how to reduce cost, increase production and get through this lean time. When times get tough, get the team together and put your collective minds to work.
  13. When a financial crisis hits most businesses decrease their advertising spend and that can be a mistake. Studies have shown that keeping the same advertising budget or even increasing your budget during a downturn will get your company in a position to outsell your competition. Good marketers can boost sales numbers and market share even when your industry is in decline. Usually, they concentrate on short term tactics like promotions and sales and using marketing targeted at the uneasy situation.

Here are some key guidelines to marketing during a downturn:

  • Keep track of your competitor’s advertising. When they cut back may be the time to increase and get a bigger market share.
  • Don’t use gimmicky advertising. Use your benefits and advantages to drive your advertising. Clear solid statements rather than appealing to emotions.
  • Direct-response advertising is important. Simple and clear language with impactful copy and a crystal-clear call to action. The other advantage of direct-response is you will see the results (or not see them) quickly.
  • Try to avoid regular looking ads. Position your ads as important messages offering them great value.
  • Present value and dependability. In a downturn, people want the most bang for their buck. Avoid clichés by showing the value rather than telling about the value.
  • Perception is key in a downturn. If people think things are bad financially, they will act like things are bad. Present your product or service as a smart investment.

Be ready to pivot and take advantage of the economic opportunities presented to you and your business will survive the economic crisis just fine. Keep your eye on the bottom line but not to the detriment of growth activities. Take advantage of your competition’s missteps and bring your whole team along with you. Together you can succeed, if you do it alone you won’t. Today’s difficulty is tomorrow’s triumph.

If you need help or guidance putting together your survival strategy I am just a phone call or message away. (435)554-8209 Jason@Jasonmporter.com

Online Marketing Strategy – Is Yours Ready?

I am seeing a lot of people who relied on in-person marketing starting to panic as social interactions decline. So now is the time to take a look at your online marketing strategy, are you ready to go digital? I feel a lot of products are better sold in person (including mine) but if you don’t have that chance you better have a solid backup plan until things settle back into normal. So quit panicking and strategize.Online Marketing Strategy - Is Yours Ready_

Content Marketing

It’s a long game but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start now since you can still get short term results. Content Marketing is about providing value to people and showing you are worthy of their trust (and business). I still am waiting for an industry that shouldn’t be doing Content Marketing on some level. A lot of the things on this list are part of an overall Content Marketing strategy but could be used alone as well. If you are not doing Content Marketing you really should ask yourself “why”? If the reason is not extremely compelling, you should get started.

Email Marketing

If you are in business and you aren’t collecting emails you are doing it wrong. Email marketing can bring big returns if you do it right. No need to overwhelm your audience with spam, have good information or timely and valuable deals and you will maintain a loyal following. Be consistent on when you send out emails, keep it relevant to the interests of your audience.

Social Media

If done right social media posts can bring a big return. Lead with your offer or your value proposition. Make the post valuable and not just another generic “buy me” ad. It is also a great place to spread your Content Marketing if you have that plan in place. Join groups and interact rather than just advertise (though some groups that is all they are for, ads). Keep your business page active, engaging and useful. Make sure the social media platform you are on (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) matches your target demographic.

Paid Ads

It’s just a fact that every platform is trying to get you to pay them to put your ads in front of people. The only way around this is Content Marketing, but it isn’t all bad. The reason people pay to put ads out is that it works. They wouldn’t be able to sell ad space if no one clicked through and bought products. The good news is you can spend just a little money to find out if it is right for you. If you don’t have a strong marketing strategy I would recommend getting in touch with a professional first because it is easy to waste money on paid marketing and get nothing in return. Start with less expensive platforms and move on to the more expensive ones once you learn how the whole system works and you have a value proposition that pulls in sales.

SEO

Probably one of the most misunderstood aspects of online marketing. Basically, your SEO determines how close to the top of the search results you are. It takes in a lot of factors and is almost constantly shifting. There are some basics you can do to increase your SEO like having robust content on your page, a relevant URL, and a fast and mobile-friendly page. You might have to bring in an expert on this one but looking up SEO essentials articles will give you some other ideas you can use to bring your ranking up.

Blogging

The cornerstone of Content Marketing, a blog is so much more than just a place to put down thoughts. It can be the centerpiece of your online efforts. A well written 1200 word article produces at least 7 pieces of content for your other platforms. If an article you write trends higher and gets more engagement then that subject might be your next idea for your value proposition ads. Besides bringing in leads on its own, a blog makes the rest of your online marketing better and easier to maintain.

Tactics

Beyond strategy, there are hundreds of online tactics to increase readership, engagement and online sales. Discounts, contests, auctions, live events are all examples of ways to get more eyes on your products and services and get more selling done. Watch for future articles on tactics to use in the online world.

If you need help with any of this then give me a call or send a message. I have over 28 years of experience in sales and marketing and am an expert on Content Marketing and maintaining an online presence. Let’s craft your online strategy while everyone else is still figuring out what to do about the shifting sales landscape.

Jason@Jasonmporter.com (435) 554-8209

The Myth of the Comfort Zone

I have heard it said many ways, that you cannot grow unless you leave your Comfort Zone. I call BS once and for all. I know for a fact you can grow and develop while staying quite snug and safe in your Comfort Zone. I think it can be damaging to some people to be forced out of their comfort zone for the sake of growth and short-sighted to believe those who stay in their comfort zone can’t grow. So let’s explore this a little deeper.The Myth of the _Comfort Zone_

What is a “Comfort Zone”?

It’s a place, situation or state of being where you feel safe, at ease and not stressed. This is typified by the image of sitting at home, in your favorite chair snuggled in a warm soft blanket. Everyone is different and people can feel safe in many types of situations. Some love to be surrounded by people, others prefer to be alone. It really depends on your own life experiences as to where you feel the safest. In the business world the comfort zone generally is described as the work and tasks you feel most comfortable with and you have the most skill at. Whenever you are at ease while working is your comfort zone.

So why does everyone say no growth occurs inside your comfort zone?

Doing new things can be scary and usually it is a learning experience. When we are in the comfort zone we are rarely trying new things and therefore it is assumed we aren’t learning. The thinking goes that change and growth must accompany risk and risk is being outside our comfort zone.

It’s a Myth!

I say it’s a myth, that we can grow inside our comfort zone. Are you comfortable reading? Reading creates growth and even reading new things is rarely outside our comfort zone. If we are going to try new things, read about them first, that reduces the stress and anxiety new things can cause. If it’s still scary, read more. Keep exploring the subject until you are an expert before you even try it for the first time. You have permission to be comfortable trying new things. This may not work for everything but it can work for most of the things we do in the business world. It’s slower, maybe even less efficient but it keeps us in our comfort zone as we explore new things. We can also make changes incrementally, changes so small that they don’t cause us stress. If we keep making those changes we will eventually get to where we want to be. Manufacturers use this all the time. They can’t afford a big change so they make hundreds of small changes over time until the same result is achieved.

Why is growth within our comfort zone important?

For some of us, running around outside our comfort zone is fine. We exist on the edge and love taking chances. Others hate going outside the comfort zone and just the thought of it paralyzes them. So that’s the main reason. Small changes within the comfort zone are better than no changes because of fear. Even those who love being outside the comfort zone need a break but they refuse to quit improving. Growing inside the comfort zone is a great option for them as well. Moving forward and giving yourself a break at the same time.

So there you have it. Don’t let the myth of the comfort zone hold you back. Grow, change and improve inside or outside your comfort zone, what ever way suits you best.

Business Development: Deciding What Business to Pursue.

Sometimes you see opportunities to go into business for yourself. Sometimes those opportunities come out of the woodworks and you are overwhelmed. Maybe you have 100 ideas about a new business to start and don’t know which one to pursue. When that starts to happen I recommend you conduct a personal SWOT analysis. SWOT is an analytic tool to determine strengths and weaknesses, usually, your business versus your competitors. In this case, it’s just you so the SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Talents (as opposed to threats in the original SWOT). We will go step by step through a personal SWOT analysis and get you on the road to figuring out what business you should be going after. Remember, this isn’t the only step, if you decide on a business you still need to do a Market Analysis to determine if it’s a viable business.Copy of DSS SWOT

Strengths

You are going to examine what advantages you have that others may not. What education have you received, what certifications? Are there skills you have that you do better than other people? What have you accomplished that sets you apart? What kind of a network have you built?

Weaknesses

This is examining your weak points. Failure to understand where we need help can sink us fast, so be honest with yourself. What don’t you like doing or aren’t very good at doing so you avoid it? What skills do you still need to work on? Where are your education gaps? What are your negative work habits? Are there personality traits that limit you?

Opportunities

Looking at the business and personal opening that might be available to you. In what industries are you connected? How extensive is your network? How is your network constructed, as in what types of people? What equipment do you own or have easy access to? What are your capital resources?

Talents

These are your inherent abilities rather than trained or learned skills. What are you naturally good at? What do you do that feels good? What kind of tasks give you a sense of accomplishment? What do you get compliments on that isn’t something you learned?

Once you have all of these written down a better picture of what business you should be involved in will come to light. The more strengths, talents, and opportunities that align the better your chances of sticking to it and making something a viable business. Get a couple of ideas together then start your market analysis to see where your efforts should go. Keep in mind you don’t have to start at the top, get a minimally viable product and start from there.

 

Defining Success

Defining Success

When you have your own business there is no one who can define success but you. In a regular job, you have metrics you are measured by, above this number is good, below it is bad. When you are the boss those numbers don’t come from an outside source. Some numbers have a bearing, for example, above this many sales and we can pay all our bills and below we can’t, but those don’t necessarily define success, they just define reality. So, what does success mean to you? I have run businesses where success wasn’t measured with money or other standard business metrics, it was measured by how much I learned and grew. Others were more practical, I make a certain amount of money and keep expenses below a certain percent and I was successful. Currently, it is more complex with a monetary component and an educational one.  I have a goal for the number of people I want to teach but still provide a reasonable living for my family.

Above all make sure your success is internally defined and not externally. If you look to outside sources to define your success for you or try to keep up with someone else, your chances of success diminish significantly. It’s ok to use outside info to make your definition, for example figuring out costs for maintaining a lifestyle, but the motivation and the drive for success has to come from within. When your definition comes from an internal source you are motivated and driven to achieve that success and it will be easier to drive toward. Make sure you write it down so that once you get there you can celebrate that success and maintain it. Without that definition in writing it is easier to lose focus and remember why you are doing what you do.

Business Development: What is Your Why?

Starting your own business and going the path of an entrepreneur can be daunting. The security of a 9 to 5 job is appealing as well as the allure of a steady paycheck. It’s a wonder anyone even makes an attempt with so much uncertainty.Untitled design (12)

One way to get through the initial doubt is to firmly fix in your mind the reasons you decided to strike out on your own. Rember your why. It’s important to write these reasons down and keep them in a place you see often as they will help when times are difficult (and they will be). Your reasons why you are going on this journey can shift so keep the list updated.

Keep revisiting this list to keep you motivated and on track for growing your business.

Is Your Content Marketing On Track For 2020?

We are almost through the first quarter of 2020 so you should have enough information to know if you are on track for hitting your goals this year. If Content Marketing is still in your strategy (and it should be) then take a look at this infographic for a little help.

Remember, one long-form blog post can generate 7 different pieces of content so it is an efficient use of time. Longer blogs also convert better and give your potential clients the reassurance that you are the authority in your field they want to work with. Aim for a couple long-form blog posts a month for maximum impact (or more if you can afford it).

If you need help formulating your Content Marketing strategy feel free to reach out.

Jason@jasonmporter.com
Is Your Content Marketing Plan on Track for 2017_

Do You Have a Plan?

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” – Mike Tyson

Every business will eventually get “Punched in the mouth” and needs to know what the plan is for when that happens. Sometimes that plan goes right out the window, as Mike Tyson explained, and sometimes it’s followed to the letter, though not often. Having a plan in place gives your business a fighting chance when things go wrong. Succession planning, crisis planning, disaster planning, it all needs to be done because it can happen to any business any time. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” Sometimes the plans don’t hold up but since the resources are gathered and ready you can adapt the plan to suit the situation. If you have no plan you not only don’t know what to do, but you have no resources to do anything about it. My tip? Look at the worst-case scenario and be ready for it, just be glad when it never comes. _Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth._

How to Market Your Business with Zero Budget

How to Market Your Business With Zero BudgetLet’s talk about how to market your business on little or no budget. One truth I have found in marketing is that when you spend less money you must spend more time, it’s a tradeoff. It is truly astonishing how many ways there are to market without spending money if you are willing to spend the time. When you feel you shouldn’t spend money on marketing your business ask yourself what your own time is worth. Depending on how valuable your time is it might be more expensive in the long run not to hire someone. Of course, you can learn to do it all yourself, just make sure that’s the best thing for your business.

So how do you market without a budget? The answer is by simply spending time on your marketing. The less money you spend on marketing the more time you will have to spend on getting your message out there. For example, Content Marketing is a great method for establishing your brand voice, gaining credibility and getting your message out to your target audience. Personally, networking has done the most for my business in terms of time spent to dollars earned. Each industry is different, but I am of the opinion you can’t go wrong with networking as you explore the methods that work best for you.

When some businesses say they want free marketing it means they want someone else to do it for free. They just need to remember that everyone’s time is valuable and in general, people do not like working for free. One method to reduce your marketing spending is to consider a trade, consider what you can do for them. If you find a way to compensate others even when you are cash-strapped, you will find people are more willing to help you. Doing it yourself is the intent of this article on marketing without a budget but if you can get help, go for it.

So, what methods do I recommend to market on zero budget?

Email Marketing

According to Imaginepub, email is the third most influential source of information for B2B audiences, behind only colleague recommendations and industry-specific thought leaders. No matter what business you are in you should always be building your email marketing list. You can have a sign-up list at the front counter or use gated content to build your list, but you should always be generating more names for your email campaigns. Email marketing has one of the Highest ROI and conversion rates, in fact for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $38.  Use a free email service to get you started and upgrade when the email list becomes profitable. To keep people subscribed make sure your email campaigns provide value. People leave lists that don’t provide them something they feel is valuable to them.

Blogging

Blogging is the cornerstone of Content Marketing. Research conducted by Demand Gen Report in 2016 found 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. HubSpot found that marketers that use blogs get 67% more leads than those that do not so the number tell us it is worth the investment in time if used right. There are many blogging sites you can use for free and others that have a reasonable fee structure. Make sure you take a look at the user agreements regarding monetizing your blog if that is a direction you eventually want to go. If you create your own unique content and publish it yourself, you won’t have to spend a dime unless you want a specific domain or program features for your blog. Couple that with a program to create your own graphics and it makes it easier to brand your business online in a uniform way.

Social Media

Using social media platforms to reach your potential audience can be cost-effective and powerful. Sprout Social found that 80% of social marketers said that their key strategy is to increase engagement across social channels. You don’t have to buy paid ads to talk directly to your audience you just need to speak about things they want to hear. The same company found that 73% of consumers want to see posts about discounts and sales, 60% want to see posts that showcase new products and services and 59% want to see posts that teach something. Between preexisting groups and growing your own following, there are many channels to get the word out about your business. Use only the Social Media channels that make sense for your business and the ones your target audience uses. Don’t waste time on Social Media Channels that don’t make sense. Using a graphics program will also help gain more exposure as visual content does well on all social media platforms.

Networking

The number one way to get the word out about your business is Networking. Forbes conducted a survey and found around 9 in 10 people claiming that small meetings are their favorite communication method. Networking reaches fewer people but has the potential to create a richer client list and more impact than any other method. The biggest impact is that the close rate for in-person meetings is 40%. No social network or online ad has a close rate anywhere near that high. Also, if you network properly you aren’t just finding new clients by yourself, but you are creating an army of advocates who will feed you warm leads and more business. The most powerful part of networking as a marketing tool is that people buy from people they trust and networking builds trust.

 

Conclusion

You may want to spend zero dollars and do all the marketing yourself, but it could be worth bringing in outside help. Regardless of which direction, or combination of directions, you go you now have more of an idea of what is possible with a little time and determination. Stuart labs found that 90% of searchers haven’t made their mind up about a brand before starting their search so marketing is more important than ever in the modern world. Make sure you have a plan and know which parts you are willing to do yourself.

Small Business Marketing With No Budget