career management, Careers, Elevator Pitch, entrepreneurs, Job Search, Personal Branding, self employed

Does Your Business Need a Tune Up?

Mary Rosenbaum | January 27th, 2010

If you own a car you know that like it or not your car will need to visit the shop for a tune up sometime this year. Whether your car is a 2009 BMW or a 1995 Dodge for it to function at peak performance the engine has to be checked out and cleaned, the oil changed, the tires rotated, and the windshield wipers replaced. When was the last time you gave your business a tune up?

If you want your business to operate at maximum efficiency – getting new clients, getting former clients to come back, getting the type of word of mouth that helps generate revenues as well as buzz – then it’s probably time for a check up. Here is a check list I use periodically to help ensure that the time I spend growing my business is time well spent.

1. What is your reputation – what are people saying about you and your business?

Is what you hear in line with your brand, with what you expect others to think about you?

This is a great time of year to check in with your former clients to gain a better understanding of :

– whether you delivered on what you promised

– how the work you did for them impacted their business or their lives

– what needs they currently have and how you can help

This should provide you with some good information (possibly some great quotes to use in the future) as well as demonstrate your concern and follow through with your clients.

In my experience following up with past clients has always resulted in new business – either repeat business from my client or a new referral. Additionally, continued input on how you are performing is always a prerequisite to continued success.

2. Is the message you are sending still resonating with your target audience?

Have the needs of your audience changed? Even if it’s a slight shift are you capturing the need in your pitch, your presentation, your power point, your blog, your tweets, and your website? Try to look at your website with new eyes. In fact, ask others to review it to see if it’s still current. A website has to be dynamic and change with the changing times; as does the messaging you put out through social networks or through any formal presentations you make.

3. Are you using the right tools to get your message out? Are you in the right places?

Yes, marketing in general and social media in particular can be very time consuming but if done properly it can provide a lot of visibility for you and your company. That’s why targeting the right audience and focusing your message on that audience makes it easier for you to get your hands around where you should be spending your time selling. The world is a big place, but a laser focus enables you to figure out where you have to be to get in front of those people who need to know about you. So take a look at where you spend your time speaking, blogging, tweeting, linking in. What return have you gotten on your investment of time? As I said earlier in this blog, change can be good and is often a necessary part of growing a business. A constant review of your communications plan is vital to ensure that you are reaching the right people at least most of the time.

So even if the service light doesn’t come on and you think you are firing on all cylinders, get that tune up so that you are working more efficiently with better focus and better results.

Checklist for Developing A Strong Brand

Mary Rosenbaum | January 12th, 2010

Today more than ever we live in a world where differentiation from your competitors is key to getting the business or job you want. Malcolm Forbes once said,

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”

What does that mean to you? To me as an entrepreneur and a coach it’s very simple, develop a strong personal brand and get the word out. Understand your value added and communicate it clearly, consistently and with some constancy. Don’t try to be all things to all people because if you do that you will end up being perceived as a jack of all trades and a master of none. So keep this to-do list for a strong brand.

1. Pick an area to work in that you enjoy and are good at and focus all your energy on growing that particular specialty. When you enjoy your work and believe that you excel at it then you tend be more excited about what you do and that excitement communicates well; it becomes contagious and often has a magnetic affect on others.

2. Create the back story of why you are good at it and why people should use you – the pitch. Identify the attributes that enable you to do the best job possible and use them as the starting point for your pitch. Be specific in selecting these attributes and don’t use generalizations like good listener or problem solver. Think of your past successes and how your experience, education, temperament, and skills played a role in these achievements.

3. Develop the success stories that highlight how you work, what you achieved, and why you were able to get those results – your Problem, Action, Resolution stories. Stories provide the picture and pictures sell far better than slogans, tag lines or promises.

4. Be the expert and earn that status – blog, write articles and newsletters, write a book, comment, speak on topic. Pick a few ways that you are comfortable with to communicate and reinforce your expert status and make sure you do something all the time. Make your communications relevant to what your audience wants and needs so that your message resonates with them and eventually moves them to action – contacting you.

5. Stay current – take classes, stay connected to professional groups, read, get certifications/degrees. To stay competitive always stay on top of the curve because if you don’t someone else will.