Archive for July, 2012

How to Get Noticed in Tough Times

July 4, 2012

“Hello! Anybody paying any attention?”

The papers say times are going to continue to be tough for a while and I’ve already noticed many business owners retrenching and retreating, pulling back, cutting back and holding back. Ironically, though, a downturn is the perfect time to strategise new ways of increasing profitability. Especially if you have client-free time on your hands – sorry to say it, but it’s true!

Ivan Misner, bestselling author and founder of BNI says there are three stages people need to go through when building a business: Visibility, Credibility and Profitability. Every business person needs to go through every stage in order; however, you can accelerate the process by focusing on visibility and credibility at the same time.

The most important step is to increase your visibility. If no one knows about you, then it doesn’t matter how good you are. If you want or need to rise above the competition, you need to be visible. And the best way to achieve higher visibility is by writing, publishing and speaking, as much as you can and on your core topic.

Not sure what to write about? All you need to do is look at your business objectives and pick one that relates to your market. Then pick one topic where you feel confident, passionate and opinionated. It really is as simple as that, but many people never sit down to think about this at all.

Collaborating with other authors can, in some cases, speed things up and produce better results. Hertfordshire business owners Don Hales and Derek Williams put together the very impressive Wow! That’s What I Call Service in less time than authors of shorter books. Don and Derek are both experts in their industry, with slightly different experiences and networks. They complemented, challenged and encouraged each other all the way through the process, resulting in a book which is consistently at the top of the Amazon list for customer service.

Although business books are still seen as the ultimate benchmark of credibility, other media can also help to build visibility. A good blog, for example, can establish profile quickly and well-placed articles can achieve excellent reach, with readers of both of these tools enjoying your wisdom free of charge in most cases.

Note that I have said “a good blog”. If you are blogging to complement your other business activities, the content needs to be consistent with your offline message and you have to check it thoroughly for tone, accuracy and errors. Just because it is quick to write doesn’t mean it isn’t as important as any other piece of writing that represents you and your thoughts. Remember, your blog and all of your writing and speaking reflects you and your brand!

Whatever you choose to do, get started now. This is not the time to retrench and retreat. If your workload has slowed, it’s the perfect time to sit down and plan a writing strategy that will get you noticed. Then, when the market improves, you will have increased credibility and profitability.

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Are you a raving fan? If so, you will win – big time

July 1, 2012

Yesterday I sat on the couch, glued to the action on TV. The Wimbledon tennis championship was on, and one of the players I really admire was on centre court. Serena Williams was playing excellent tennis and fighting to get through to the next round. I say ‘fighting’ because her opponent was playing well also, and she was not going to just let Serena waltz through. It was a tense match.

Throughout the match, I found myself speaking and at times, even shouting at the television, willing Serena to do well and sending her encouragement and good energy through the airwaves. It occurred to me that I was being a textbook ‘raving fan’ (or maybe raving lunatic, if you would ask my neighbours!)

It also occurred to me how great it would be if we all had those kind of fans – the kind that would really be rooting for us and willing us to win. The kind who would forget all ideas of preparing lunch, doing the chores and everything else, just to be there for us (I did finally eat soemthing at about 3pm!)

I’m sure you have people you can count on: friends, family, good clients and maybe even some super-satisfied clients who speak well of you, write testimonials and endorsements and refer other clients to you. But what if you had more? And what if they all were absolutely crazy about you and your service?

It’s my belief that you can design all sorts of campaigns and programs to get more people to endorse you and endorse you more heartily, but you can never really predict or control their response. Think of a time when someone had promised to help you with something, but then they had an emergency at home or at work, or they just got distracted with other things. Their intentions were good, but they could not, or chose not to, follow through.

Therefore, the sensible thing to do is to focus on something you can control, and that is the raving you do about and for others. See where you can help and support more people. Aim to be a better friend, client, associate, affiliate or partner. Look for ways to really add value to that person. Become the raving fan yourself.

This means you will need to temporarily stop pleading and begging and coercing others to Like your page or your business, review your book, promote your services or help you out in any other way. You will need to take the focus off of yourself, even if you feel you really need the help. It may seem counter-intuitive but I believe that when you turn the focus around, it has several benefits. First, it is liberating to think of others and makes you feel and look good.

Secondly, it allows you to be more creative, as you focus on someone else and something else besides your own project.

Finally, as many thought leaders in the area of influence have discovered, helping others puts a credit into the ’emotional bank account’ and makes them feel more like returning the favour. It may not happen immediately, and this is certainly not the main reason for helping someone, but it all goes into the pot and when the time comes and you are the one needing help or support, people will remember.

The Law of Attraction and other universal laws suggest that what you put out comes back to you. If you believe that, then you can see that all the support, help and love you give to the people you trust and endorse will reflect back on you and you will win as well. Luckily, life is not like a game of tennis where there can only be one winner. We can all win and enjoy the game a lot more too.