Featured Post

Supporting Veteran Owned Small Businesses

This video shares examples of a few veteran owned small businesses. Feel free to comment and share your own examples with website link belo...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What's A WIIFM And Why Is It The Key To Your Success?

A number of years ago, I was attempting to sell my company's services to the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company. He listened to my pitch and, when I was done, he told that I had wasted his time because I hadn't addressed his WIIFM. I looked more than a little confused and he proceeded to give me a lecture that changed my professional career.

What's the WIIFM? (and what does the Marlboro Man have to do with it?)

Marlboro_man First, take a moment and think about how you approach a sale. Now by sale, I mean any interaction that you have where you want to influence another party, the method you use to try to convince another party to want your goods or services. A job interview is an influence as you try to convince a company to hire you. Being a business owner is an influence, so is being a customer service representative, software designer, physician, attorney, insurance agent, artist, chairperson of a charitable committee.....any situation where you try to impact on someones purchasing decisions.

So how do you approach this 'sale'? Do you list the features & benefits of your product/company/service (like I did to that CEO)? Do you use a friendly demeanor? Do you use your position of authority to intimidate? Do you assume that you or your product is so great that it will sell itself? Snob appeal? Sympathy for your cause?

Take a moment and think about it. And be honest.

Rarely will any of this work. Because you haven't addressed what every great salesperson (and we are all salespeople) knows. It ain't about you. It's about 'me'. It's about solving my problem, addressing my needs, my wants and my desires. It's about making me look good. It's about the WIIFM.

WIIFM: What's In It For Me

Sounds elementary but this is the basis of every successful interaction. The big brands know it and use it as the basis of many ad campaigns: Beer companies hire sports greats to pitch their products precisely because sports enthusiasts want to be like (or liked by) their idols. Marlboro tapped into the desire of many men with the image of the strong, independent cowboy. Victoria's Secret & car companies knew to use beautiful women sitting in the passenger seat or images of the perfect family (an oxymoron I know) driving idyllically (and quietly LOL!). You buy insurance from the person who makes you feel as though you are his/her only client and that they care about you. You'll go back to a restaurant where the proprietor remembers you by name and brings your favorite appetizer to the table without being asked. You hire a vendor for your company whose stellar performance makes you look good to your supervisor. Each one of these examples have a common denominator: the 'salesperson' understood what you needed or wanted and tailored their product or service to meet it.

The WIIFM is about listening. Really listening. Listening in person or listening to the needs of your client base. And it is the missing link in most transactions. How often do you get frustrated by companies who don't listen? Or by a professional who 'processes' you instead of of listening to you? Or by a piece of software or hardware that doesn't do what it promised or is so complicated that you want to throw it out the window?

But on the other hand, how often will you return to a store where a salesperson took the time to listen to what you want and then helped you find it. When you are asked for a referral, don't you more times than not, refer to that person/company who went out of their way to help you. When you find a website or a piece of technology that is useful and actually works without hours of training, don't you tell your family and friends? Emily's List, an online referral site, features on its TV ads, a plumber who took the time to walk a dog when the homeowner was late. Not the best nor the cheapest- the most helpful. There are, of course, exceptions where we need the services of an expert in their field, but they are rare.

When we were designing our latest SAAS (software as a service) product for the small to medium business marketplace, we knew we wanted a tool that was intuitive for the non-techie but we didn't have the resources to hire testing companies. So I went out and hired office workers from local temp agencies to sit in front of the computers and surf the web all day. We set up our product on each PC, told the temps they had to use it but gave them no instructions on its use. Watching them maneuver our product taught us what we were doing wrong...and right. And at the end of the day we would sit with them and listen to what they liked, what they didn't and what they wanted. The WIIFM.

The CEO I was pitching made me understand that I was ineffective because I hadn't taken the time to understand what his company's issues were and how my company could solve them. I hadn't listened and hadn't heard because I was too busy talking. And in sales, as is often in life, silence is golden.

How do you use the WIIFM?

PS: After being lectured by the CEO, I went back to my office, somewhat embarrassed but determined to heed the lesson of the WIIFM. A few weeks later, after much research and preparation, I asked for a second meeting. It was granted and I landed the account.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How To Recycle Your Cell Phone & Other Electronics ... Go Green ... AND Make Money

How To Recycle Your Cell Phone & Other Electronics .... Go Green .... AND Make Money

Would you like to recycle your cell phone .... laptop .... PDA .... other "gadget"?

Recycling may be getting easier each year, but let's face it: People are lazy. That's why bottles get thrown into trash bins when recycling bins are a foot away. It's also why technology ends up in landfills .... digital electronics will eventually break or get replaced. But it's hard to know just what to do with the gadgets that get left behind.

Not any more ....

Go Green

Tip ... they also pay you cash for recycling. PLUS send you a box and pay for the shipping.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Six Tips to Increase Your Odds of Getting Grant Funding

writing When grant writing, keep in mind there are circumstances out of your control that may cause your proposal to be rejected. For instance, the foundation you applied to may have had to cut back on funding, or they could have simply accepted the proposal of an organization they have a close relationship with. You can, however, increase your odds of getting your grant proposal accepted by following the tips below.

1. Be realistic. Don’t try to fund your entire operation from one grant source. Apply for several grants and more money than you need, with the understanding that you’ll probably get some rejections. Foundations like to see that you’re able to obtain funding from other sources, too, such as fundraising drives.

2. Exercise time management. Rushing through a grant proposal could cause you to make errors you normally wouldn’t. When you research your options, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to write the proposal and submit it with time to spare. If you wait until the last minute, you may not have enough time to make revisions or add supporting documentation you accidentally left out.

3. Follow the grantor’s guidelines. This cannot be stressed enough. Read and reread them to ensure your organization’s program fits within the guidelines. If it doesn’t fall within the guidelines, you don’t get funded. Ask yourself these questions:

· Does the program fall within the appropriate geographic area available for funding?

· What type of support am I requesting? Am I asking for operational expenses, which aren’t covered in the grant?

4. Prepare a detailed budget. The foundation wants to know how the money will be spent, and the budget breakdown will help them better understand that. If you don’t have the staff internally to accomplish this task, outsource it to someone who can. It’s too important not to.

5. Proofread the document. A document riddled with typos and misspelled words does not convey a professional image. Proofreading also ensures the format is consistent throughout. If you’ve combined sections from different staff members, it shouldn’t read like there were different authors. Proofread the proposal to make sure the “voice” of the document is the same in every section.

6. Review the guidelines one more time. Do this before you mail the proposal. Make sure you’ve followed the guidelines regarding content, delivery, and the deadline for submission.

If you follow these tips, you increase your odds of getting funding and have done more than the average grant seeker.

If you choose to outsource your grant writing tasks, Freelance Assistance, LLC can help you. We will conduct research to find grants that could fund your program(s). We can also write the grant for you and proofread the final document to make sure it’s consistent throughout and there are as few errors as possible. Send us an email if you have questions about how we can help you increase your odds of getting grant funding.

Make Your Small Business Memorable by Involving Kids

The one overriding goal of your small business’s marketing efforts, especially during a start-up phase, is to be noticed, is to be memorable in the eyes of customers or potential customers. You achieve being memorable by finding something your customers or potential customers can identify with, an image that you can own. Then you deliver that image --- your marketing message --- in a unique and memorable way, that is, in a way that is different from your competitors.

One way you can present your marketing message in a unique way is to involve kids. Perhaps my age is catching up with me here, but the one name that stands out for me as the epitome of effectively using cute kids to sell their products is Oscar Mayer. Who can forget those sweet little voices? “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener…”

And, of course, remember Mikey, the kid who would eat anything?

But my personal favorite is the plucky little guy in the famous Coca-Cola ad who faced down Mean Joe Green.

Monday, October 25, 2010

How To Improve Your Professional Image ... Get More Customers ... & Make MORE Sales

If you're a small business owner who - works from home, on the road, or with a dispersed team ... and are looking for a way to instantly upgrade your phone presence (and at the same time make your communication headaches disappear practically overnight) ... then the iTeleCenter Virtual Phone System is for you.

Creating a highly professional phone image couldn't be easier!

Would You Like To .....

* Gain trust and credibility in the marketplace ... stop losing business because of a poor phone image?

* Improve your ability to connect with your customers ... no more missed opportunities because prospects and clients were unable to reach you, or because their messages got lost in the shuffle?

* Increase your efficiency and handle your business calls smoothly and effectively ... a host of communications tools under one convenient roof to save you time and effort ... all at your finger tips 24/7?

* Be backed by proven experience and reliability ... 99.9% uptime rate ... over 260,000,000 calls processed to date?

You'll get all the features of a high-end, robust phone system - features like private toll-free number, voice mail, multiple extensions, send/receive faxes online, enhanced call forwarding, and music-on-hold (to name just a few) - but without the hassle and pain normally associated with such systems ... and at a mere fraction of the cost {how does just $9.95/month to start sound??).

Your existing phones - whether home, office, VOIP, or cell - and current Internet connection provide everything you need to put iTeleCenter to work for you today .... and in less time than it takes to brew a cup of coffee.

No hardware to buy, nothing to install, and a setup so simple even the most diehard technophobe can handle it with ease.

Simply click on this link .... and take advantage of their FREE trial:

iTeleCenter


Here are just a few of the things you'll get when you put iTeleCenter to work for your business today…..

* Your very own toll free number accessible from anywhere in North America

* Unlimited number of incoming calls managed simultaneously ... your customers and clients will never hear a busy signal!

* Multiple extensions you can designate for any purpose you choose - employees, departments, recorded information about your products and services ...

* Call forwarding number(s) for each of your extensions (for example, your "Sales" extension can ring to your cell phone and your "customer Service" extension can ring to your partner's home line).

* Enhanced call screening enables you to talk with whom you want when you want .. send "time wasters" to voicemail.

* Online faxing - send and receive faxes without a fax machine.

* Music-on-hold while your customers are waiting to be connected - choose from a variety of genres such as jazz or classical ... or upload your own custom music or on-hold commercial.

* Entire system easily manageable via convenient online interface ... make changes to your system effortlessly as needed "on the fly".

* Voicemails and faxes quickly converted and emailed as MP3 audio or PDF links.

* Instant notification of new messages by email or cell phone text message.

* 24/7 Informational Mailboxes let you provide information about your products or company 24/7.

* And much, much more. Take advantage of their no cost, 7 day, full-featured trial TODAY ... and find out just what iTleCenter can do to change the way you do business!

No contracts .... Pay Month-to-Month .... Cancel Anytime

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Making Your Small Business Memorable: Use Animals

By Dave Ramacitti

The one overriding goal of your small business’s marketing efforts, especially during a start-up phase, is to be noticed, is to be memorable in the eyes of customers or potential customers. You achieve being memorable by finding something your customers or potential customers can identify with, an image that you can own. Then you deliver that image --- your marketing message --- in a unique and memorable way, that is, in a way that is different from your competitors.

One way you can present your marketing message in a unique way is to involve animals. Animals, like the unforgettable Taco Bell talking Chihuahua and Target’s Spot the dog, can give your business a unique look and feel. For example, all you have to see are the proudly stepping Clydesdales to know what’s being advertised. Budweiser doesn’t have to use its “official” logo, those horses are so familiar they’ve become Bud’s “unofficial” logo.

Here’s a quickie quiz: What brand do you instantly associate with a tiger? What product uses a sassy duck as its spokesperson? How about the highly energetic bunny? As we said above, Target has Spot the dog, but what store uses a giraffe?

Dave Ramacitti is co-founder and chief content developer for Marketing Over Easy, a new website dedicated to helping small businesses be smarter marketers. To receive a free copy of our special report "58 Free and Low Cost Ways to Promote Your New Small Business" visit us at www.marketingovereasy.com/signup © 2010 by David F. Ramacitti. Excerpted from The All-Important Stuff You Gotta Do First to Effectively Market Your Small Business © 2009 by David F. Ramacitti

Friday, October 22, 2010

Have Some Fun to Make Your Small Business Memorable

By Dave Ramacitti

The one overriding goal of your small business’s marketing efforts, especially during a start-up phase, is to be noticed, is to be memorable in the eyes of customers or potential customers. You can achieve being memorable by finding something your customers or potential customers can identify with, an image that you can own. Then you deliver that image --- your marketing message --- in a unique and memorable way, that is, in a way that is different from your competitors.

One way you can present your marketing message in a unique way is use a humorous or quirky approach in your ads and other promotions. Who can forget the hilarious Budweiser lizards, or, more recently, the quirky Quizno’s sponge monkeys?

Never heard of the sponge monkeys? Try Google-ing them… They were certainly memorable and perhaps more than a little annoying --- hmmm, maybe memorable and annoying tend to go together.

This technique is not for everyone, though. As a business you have to be comfortable with what you’re doing. Could you deal with it if people said about your business, “Oh yea, you’re the guys with those weird sponge-monkeys.” Actually, you should be happy if they’re saying that, because it means you’re being remembered over your competitors.

Humor is a great way to be really exceptional if you can pull it off. Think about it: Don’t most businesses tend to take themselves way too seriously? If you are the one who doesn’t take yourself too seriously, you could truly standout.

# # #

Dave Ramacitti is co-founder and chief content developer for Marketing Over Easy, a new website dedicated to helping small businesses be more effective marketers. To receive a free copy of our special report "58 Free and Low Cost Ways to Promote Your New Small Business" visit us at www.marketingovereasy.com/signup © 2010 by David F. Ramacitti. Excerpted from The All-Important Stuff You Gotta Do First to Effectively Market Your Small Business © 2009 by David F. Ramacitti

Say Goodbye To Your Trusted Old Friend Windows XP

A lot of our clients (ourselves included) have grown quite attached to Windows XP since its release 9 years ago and love it for its overall stability and reputation as a workhorse of an operating system. When it was originally released in October, 2001 it was revolutionary for its security and general performance.

Like many good things, some must come to an end. And so it is with XP that has officially been retired as of this month to make a clear path for its successor Windows 7.

Since Windows 7’s launch in July 2009 all new PCs came with Windows 7; however fans of XP were still able to exercise the downgrade to XP that was made available on all new Windows 7 PCs. As of this month, all major vendors (Dell, HP, etc) have stopped making this XP downgrade available.


But don’t fret XP fans, we have been using Windows 7 in our office since its launch 15 months ago and we are raving fans, as are our clients who have adopted it. Overall, Windows 7 is a faster and more stable operating system than XP. It also has a lot of features to make your workday more efficient and is a major workhorse for those computer users who are demand a lot from their computer.

But…

As robust as Windows 7 is, unfortunately their 3rd party vendors (printers, scanners) are still catching up to make Windows 7 drivers available. This means that some changes need to happen in your network to support Windows 7. This is nothing new when it comes to releasing new operating systems - we saw the same issues when XP came out.

What does all this mean for your business? You'll need to keep in mind that all new computers you purchase will be Windows 7 and you cannot downgrade to XP. For this reason if it’s your first Windows 7 PC on the network, realize that extra time is needed for your computer support provider to determine compatibility issues with software applications you use and peripheral devices and scanners. Depending on how complex your technology needs are in your business, your computer support provider will need additional time to deploy Windows 7 to integrate it with everything else in your network.

Joe Stoll is President and founder of Technical Action Group (TAG) in Toronto, Canada. TAG are productivity specialists who simplify technology for small and medium-sized businesses and make it a power tool that increases their businesses productivity, profitability and operations instead of a constant problem that costs them time and money. Learn more insider tips on how to use technology to make your business more productive and profitable. www.TechnicalActionGroup.com/Hot-News/

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Narrowing Your Marketing Aim

Most marketing plans are too general. We spend hours, days, months even finding just the right niche to open up our online business, and then write copy that is so vague it could fit the Pope, or Jeffrey Dahlmer. So, what can be done about it?

Have you ever met a wildly successful man? The type that owns a yacht, and a jet, which he uses exclusively to get to his own private island, where he boards his yacht? If not, you have seen them in the movies. And, in these movies, there is always a scene where someone comments on the man's attire and it is revealed that all of his clothing is hand tailored, just for him. And we think to ourselves, “If only I had a hand tailored silk tuxedo, then I could be as smooth as that.” That's how marketing copy should be.

I know it's a big temptation to build a large tent and try not to leave anybody out, but unless you are GE, Sony, or Microsoft, odds are your target is a lot smaller than you think. After all, how big of a market can there be for “Aunt Martha's Hand Cableknit, Wool Fisherman's Sweaters?” outside of the traditional die-hard fishermen who have not yet discovered the glories of thinsulate and goretex, there are a few authors writing East Coast fishing village romances that need them for book jacket photos, and that is about it.

So, why not talk to your target market and make them feel at home? As if your words were tailored just for them? Well written, focused copy will bring them in and make them loyal customers. As for the rest of the world, they will be wishing they had a deep sea fishing boat, so they too could understand how glorious these sweaters truly are. That, or at the very least, they will buy one of that poor sap's romance novels to get the atmosphere. Text that is meaningless, is universally meaningless, text that stirs passion is easy to relate to, even if it isn't speaking directly to you.

One Way to Make Your Small Business’s Ads Memorable is to Feature a Pretty Girl

The one overriding goal of your small business’s marketing efforts, especially during a start-up phase, is to be noticed, is to be memorable in the eyes of customers or potential customers. You achieve being memorable by finding something your customers or potential customers can identify with, an image that you can own. Then you deliver that image --- your marketing message --- in a unique and memorable way, that is, in a way that is different from your competitors.

One way you can present your marketing message in a unique way is to feature a pretty girl. In this case I’m not talking about using a beautiful woman to illustrate the use of a product to a target audience, such as is done in shampoo or make-up ads. Rather, I’m talking about using a pretty girl simply as a compelling visual image, for example, like the whiskey Black Velvet does in their billboards and print ads during the holiday season. A beautiful woman will always turn heads.

(Dave Ramacitti is co-founder and chief content developer for Marketing Over Easy, a new website dedicated to helping small businesses be smarter marketers. To receive a free copy of our special report "58 Free and Low Cost Ways to Promote Your New Small Business" visit us at www.marketingovereasy.com/signup © 2010 by David F. Ramacitti. Excerpted from The All-Important Stuff You Gotta Do First to Effectively Market Your Small Business © 2009 by David F. Ramacitti)