One of the ways my business had been successful over the years has been by repeating what’s worked. And then there comes a time when my market and I are ready for something fresh, something new to re-ignite the fires or to advance together into a new level of growth. This also helps keep your list interested, and it helps you stay cutting edge in your market.
Here are 5 easy ways for getting and staying hot in your market:
1. Be recognized…
Start showing up – in-person and/or virtually – at events that are offered for your target market. Throw your own events. Be seen on discussion lists and popular blogs where your target market hangs out. Join the conversation, offer your valuable insights and comments, ask good questions and give good answers. Joint venture with your colleagues and double your efforts with half the work. Join associations made up of your peers and volunteer to be on a committee or head up a project. There are loads of ways to build your recognition in your market. Pick a couple and start doing them NOW.
2. Be open to offering others’ products…
If you’ve hit a creative low point, there’s always the option of offering someone else’s product to your list. It’s still new and fresh material to them and a new offer for you to make. Make a list of five of your colleagues who each have a product offering that complements what it is that you do and start building a relationship with them now (if you don’t have one already), so when you want to offer their product, they’ve gotten to know you and your business a bit so they may be more willing to say yes to that kind of strategic alliance.
3. Be more ‘serviceable’…
Take a fresh look at your service offerings. Write down what they look like currently on one sheet of paper, including all the features and benefits. One a separate sheet of paper, write down how you’d like your services to look, including all the features and benefits. You might be surprised to find a real difference. Based on what you discover, consider repackaging your current offerings in a way that better suits you and your clients.
4. Be trendy…
Enter the conversation already going on in your client’s mind to spark new ideas. What are they reading, seeing on TV, involved in right now in their world? What current event or newsy item or popular TV show can you tie into your sales copy for your offerings that will keep it fresh and make stand out in an already crowded marketplace?
5. Be occasion-oriented
Tie a promotion into a holiday or special occasion. There’s hardly a week that goes by these days that doesn’t have some sort of celebration attached to it. Or you could make up your own. For example, January (New Year’s) and September (Back-to-School) are great months for launching new products, programs, or services that allow the client to do, be and have better.
If you want to keep your clients and customers, keep them interested. Consider offering something new, either in the way of a new product, program or services tailored to their wants or by tweaking your current offerings to keep them fresh and make them stand out in an already crowded marketplace.
I’d love to know which one of these 5 resonates with you the most. Please leave your comments below.
Here’s a question I get asked all the time:
“I don’t know you how do it, Alicia…with two little ones to care for and so few hours in the day to actually focus on your work. Somehow you manage to write your weekly ezine, hold a bunch of teleseminars each month, run your group and private coaching programs, AND be creating and promoting new offers and new products all the time. I’m so impressed and inspired by you, but more than that, I want to know how you do it all!?”
To be honest, sometimes I wonder myself! Something I often say to other, especially new, mothers is, “despite what everyone tells you to do, do whatever works for YOU.” In a way, that’s how I started running my business after I had my daughter. I just did whatever worked. I still do.
When she got a bit older, it was easier to manage both being a fulltime mother along with running a successful business. Then enter baby #2 and it was back to square one. It’s not easy but it is possible. And here’s what’s really interesting (mompreneurs, take note): I started making about $3k more each month since having my son – and I’m working LESS.
A client once pointed out to me that it seems the biggest growths in my business have been when I’ve been having babies – and she’s right!
Over time, I’ve figured out how to get the most important things done while still being able to focus the majority of my time on my family (after all, that’s one of the reasons why I went into business for myself in the first place).
Here are just a few of them:
1. Setting my work hours
My typical work day looks like this: I get organized the night before for the next day. This jump-starts my day and makes sure that when I do get those tiny pockets of time to get something done, I know exactly what to do. This makes me feel like I’m accomplishing stuff in-between drop-off and pick-up from school, making crafts, playing trains, making dinner, etc.
When I started my business, I didn’t get any real work done until naptime. I worked for about a total of an hour or so while the kids napped, five days a week. Then I put in some more time after they went to bed at night, whether I was leading a teleseminar or catching up on emails. My biggest block of focused time, usually reserved for writing and product creation, was on Saturdays, when I worked approximately 4 hours.
During a perfect week, that gave me about 12 hours of time dedicated to business. However, there’s never a perfect week (one or the other doesn’t nap, I have some pressing non-business-related task that I can only take care of when they’re sleeping, one of them is sick, etc.), so my best guess is that this gives me about 8-10 productive hours to work on my business each week.
Now that the kids are both in school, my dedicated work time is a couple of hours in the morning until I pick my son up at noon, a little at naptime, and sometimes in the evening (again if I’m hosting a teleseminar) or on a Saturday, if I have a launch going on.
So, although my hours have shifted, the amount of hours is still relatively the same – about 15 hours a week.
So how do I decide what to focus on that will move my business forward the fastest in that limited amount of time each week? I use what I call a Priority Card…
2. Using a Priority Card
A Priority Card will help you organize all your tasks in a way that will SHOW you every day what you should focus on. There are a lot of details that will threaten to take your mind off your priorities (this is where a virtual assistant can be of immense value), but those details are not necessarily what will move you forward in your business. To do that, you need to consistently focus on completing the projects that will move your business ahead big-time.
You can create a system for helping you focus on your priorities in a number of ways, but I’m going to give you mine. Like I said, I only work about 15 hours a week on my business, so adjust your own plan accordingly.
At the beginning of each week, I choose 3 to 5 projects with looming deadlines (self-imposed as they may be) from my master task list (which really is so massive that I write it on a 8.5 x 14 legal pad). For example, at the moment, I am working on my annual Online Business Breakthrough Workshop.
On a colored index card, I write down those projects and prop the card in a standing clip holder, right in front of my computer screen. When I start to feel that sense of overwhelm, or when I find myself getting distracted by new ideas or other tasks (all of which seem important), I remind myself to look at my Priority Card and focus only on what’s written there.
Once I started using my Priority Card, my own business growth leaped forward ten times faster than when I was doing a little of this and a little of that, working on a dozen things, but taking much too long to actually complete just one project.
3. Ignoring the phone
I’m serious when I say that I ignore the phone. Some of my clients get heart palpitations when I tell them that I NEVER jump when the phone rings and suggest they do the same. I don’t even have the ringer turned on on the business line. Does this mean I miss some important calls? Probably. But my virtual assistant checks my messages in a timely manner, takes care of what she can, and forwards the rest to me. I then email or call people back at a more convenient time for me.
4. Quick consults
When a prospective client wanted to speak with me about ‘just a few questions’, I used to gladly schedule a time to talk. But instead of a few questions, I’d be on the phone for at least a half hour, basically giving a free coaching/consulting session, and being frustrated with myself for not valuing my time more.
And up until a few years ago, when a potential client or customer requested to talk with me further about working with me or about one of my products, they could schedule a time to talk for a much smaller fee than my usual hourly rate, and if they decided to go forward with working with me, they could apply the fee they paid towards the program or product they were interested in. This was fair and valued both our time and investment in the process.
Now, however, prospects can talk with my virtual assistant should they need more information about any of my programs or products. If someone is interested in working with me one-on-one, they need to apply for a private coaching spot and if I feel it’s a good fit, we set up an interview to discuss moving forward.
BONUS: Make and use lists
I’d be lost without my lists! I’d never remember to do anything if I didn’t write it down. I keep a bunch of reporter’s notebooks around the house and anytime I think of something I need to do, I write it down in whatever room I’m in – whether it’s business or personal. Then I periodically gather the lists and separate them into three main lists; personal, business, and other (which includes the “someday I’d like to…” stuff; things that aren’t a priority but that I want to remember to do at some point), and check things off in priority order from there.
If you start applying some of these steps now, I guarantee the number of productive hours you spend on your business will increase. And you’ll also feel less overwhelmed and lessed stressed about trying to get it all done!
I’d love to know which one of these resonates the most with you – share with me below…
Basically, there are two things that must be in place before any of your offerings can be successful (read: profitable). One is that it must be designed for a niche. So, there must be a group of people who you are targeted to offer your product/program/service toward.
The other is that is must solve a problem that your niche wants solved. Sounds obvious, yes? But many times, we create what we think our niche NEEDS instead of what it WANTS. It’s critical to know the difference and to use that knowledge to create your offerings.
There are many ways you can find out what it is that your niche wants most so you can create it and offer it to them. One of those ways is to hold a teleseminar that both delivers value to your participants as well as provides you with market research to use to inform your product line.
The best thing is that these types of teleseminars can be easy to fill and fun to host. Here are the steps:
1. Decide on the topic
Your best best is to choose a topic that’s broad in scope, meaning that it discusses a problem that the majority of your niche struggles with and would like help in solving. This will get you more people on the call as well as give you a more diverse group from which to learn from for your own market research purposes.
2. Use a mini-application
When people register for your teleseminar, ask them to fill out a short questionaire. This really begins your market research because you’ll be asking them what it is that they are struggling with specifically in relation to the bigger topic.
For example, if your topic is “How to Balance My Business and My Family and Still Have Time for a Great Life”, one question you may ask in your questionaire is, “What’s the ONE thing you struggle with most when it comes to balancing your business and your family? Please be as specific as possible so I can give you some specific strategies to help!”
You could also ask the question in another way: “What two questions do you have that I must answer on this teleseminar for you to feel it was of value to you?” You may also want to ask where your participant is at present with regard to your topic and where they’d like to be.
Tell them you’ll be answering as many questions as you can on the teleseminar itself, to engage people right from the start when they are registering for the call, as well as encourage them to show up in the first place (this is particularly helpful if this is a fre*e call).
Also, don’t be shy about telling your participants that you’ll be using their comments and feedback as part of growing your own business. For example, if you’re writing a book and you need some more content for a certain section, hold a teleseminar on that topic and share with your teleseminar participants that they may be featured in the book if their comments, suggestions or examples are used. People will jump to sign up for your call!
3. Ask questions
At this point, you have an outline for the call itself, and now you’ve filled it in with more content with the answers to the questions that were submitted when people registered.
The next step is to weave those questions and answers into the conversation on the call itself, and ask if there are MORE questions or comments around them. This will give you more in-depth and insightful information for your purposes, as well as be valuable to those on the call. This is when you really want to give the space and the time for your participants to talk (count 5 Mississippi’s if you have to to stop yourself from filling any silence while people are thinking).
Be sure to record the call so you can listen carefully to the conversation again and take notes about what you hear that your participants are looking for in terms of solutions to their problems.
4. Send a follow-up email
As soon as possible after the call, send a follow-up email thanking your attendees for their time and participation. Include notes from the call that you’ve cleaned up and converted to a neat PDF file for them as well for added value.
What you’ve done with this is type of ‘Open House’ teleseminar is invited your attendees to ask you anything they want about your area of expertise. With the information you glean, you can easily tailor your next product around the things they most want, which equals a successful offering for you!
I’d love to know your thoughts on hosting your own teleseminars – please feel free to share your comments below.
I have a successful business because I know what to do and I do it. I make a good income, I work with clients I enjoy, I get to be creative and I get to do all of that in a way that serves my family and my life.
So when I attended a small intensive led by Laura West, my intention was not to get more strategies or techniques, but to truly shift the way I envision my business as I reinvent it in these shifting current entrepreneurial waters. And that’s exactly what I got – here are just four of those shifts:
1. Money comes from working within your creative power centers
Laura’s created this powerful body of work around the ‘creative power centers’ that crystallized where I needed to spend my time and energy on to evolve my business in the way that honors my life and my own strong boundaries around that life.
For me that means really listening and following my intuition more, taking care of my personal energy more, increasing a team member’s responsibilities, and adding a whole lot more ‘Alicia flavor’ to the mix.
2. Always come back to what I want
When the thoughts get muddled and the confusion sets in with all the choices of what to do in my business (and my life), I will keep coming back to this single question:
What do I want?
And I’ll keep asking it until what I want is crystal clear. Then I’ll know exactly what to do.
3. Systems and structure equals more freedom
I’m great with systems – we have one for pretty much everything in my business – but structure is lacking a bit, and that’s because I can operate well on the fly. However, just thinking about how a little bit more structure would benefit me and my team and how that would lead to more freedom for me got me excited about actually putting that structure in place right away.
4. My non-negotiables are my success
I’ve been looking more closely at this and with the focused time at the intensive, I realized that a big attraction piece for my audience are my non-negotiables (family first, summers off, etc.). From that place, I was able to draft the new design of my business and I couldn’t be more excited about what’s to come.
Building a responsive, high-quality list of email subscribers is the key to leveraging your marketing time and increasing your income. Here’s 6 specific ways to show you how:
1. Don’t Hide Your Opt-In Form
Don’t make your website visitors search for the opt-in form to your list. To make it super-simple for your visitors to sign up, do what I recommend to my clients – just a simple one-page website, that I call an Invite Site, where the only thing you’re doing on the site is inviting your visitors to sign up for your list.
Then there’s no confusion or question about what it is they should do. Once they sign up, you can redirect them to another page where they can gain access to more information from you.
2. Offer a Free Taste
Encourage people to sign up for your list by offering them something of value for free in exchange for their email address. Good choices are a mini-ecourse, a special report, a checklist, or a short audio program. Add some enticing copy describing the benefits your visitor will receive from your gift to increase your sign-ups.
3. Keep it Simple
If you only ask for your visitor’s first name and email address, you’ll get a higher response rate, meaning more people will sign up for you list.
Obviously, if you’re offering a physical Free Taste (like a CD), you’ll need to get your visitor’s shipping address as well. Just try to limit the information you’re asking for to increase the number of people who sign up.
5. Include Testimonials
Even adding two or three testimonials of people who’ve signed up for your list and received your Free Taste will increase your list numbers. If you currently don’t have anyone on your list, send a copy of your Free Taste to a handful of colleagues and ask for testimonials in return (and offer to do the same for them).
6. Getting People to the Opt-in Page for Your List
Once you optimize your opt-in page, you need to get people to it. There are literally hundreds of ways that you can drive traffic to your web page where people sign up for your list (we cover 42 of them in my 21 Easy & Essential Steps to Online Success System™), but here are three of the best:
1. Utilize your email signature in every email you send out. Be sure you point people to your opt-in page in your signature with some enticing copy as to why they should click on your link.
2. Write and submit articles, including the link to your opt-in page in the author’s resource box.
3. Do a simple pay-per-click campaign to drive targeted traffic to your opt-in page.
Follow these tips and you’ll start increasing your email list subscribers today.
I’d love to know which of these resonates with you the most – please leave your comments below.