A business is a living and flowing entity. In order to grow and thrive it needs to be nurtured, loved, structured, and supported. The hardest part about owning a business, and being an entrepreneur, is to understand the gentle balance of these things.
Successful business owners understand this balance.
They support their business by thinking about it a lot. They plan for events. They structure their business by creating scenarios and setting milestones. They nurture and love their business by giving it what it needs as soon as the business owner realizes it’s needed. They start planning sessions with what if... And, they think about their business and prepare for unexpected outcomes.
With planning comes sacrifice. Why?
Because not all activities are created equal. And, because timing is everything. As business owners our goal is to create the best outcome for our business and that means making hard decisions. Sometimes sacrificing what we want for what we really need NOW.
The kiss of death for a business owner is becoming too emotionally connected to being right, doing things a certain way, or wanting to save time or money.
In order to look at our business objectively, we are always balancing the nurturing and structuring because it’s in these tools that get clear and focused on what our next best steps really are.
So, what does that sacrifice look like?
In our culture sacrifice has a negative connotation, but the definition is literally to “Give up (something valued) for the sake of other considerations.”
What do we actually need to sacrifice for our business success?
Commit to being more open the next time a challenge comes your way.
Think about something you dislike doing that you can outsource. Before you know it, sacrificing simply becomes trading one set of expectations for a different set.
When you consider sacrifice a good thing you’ll find it’s the first step in creating that business of your dreams.
Let’s be honest, we’re all a little proud of our ability to be all things promotional to our clients. We’re scrappy that way. We know the best way to start the relationship building process is to say “Yes” to a promotional products challenge, any challenge, because it allows us to show our clients what we do best.
But not every challenge is created equal. There are as many reasons to need a promotional item as there are ways to source it. Some challenges we accept with ease, and others we gulp and say “Yes,” but then get overwhelmed.
This is because every distributor has a super power. A business problem solving sweetspot. Something we do so easily that it excites us when given the opportunity to produce in that space. We know 1) What to do, 2) Where to start, and 3) How to deliver.
It’s not so much rote as it is simple. We get the concept. We get the process. And we understand our role in making it happen.
So what’s your super power? Below are some different types. Which one are you?
The Idea Person: You’re the creative thinker. You love the challenge. You hear the spark of an idea and you’re off. Clients love how you stretch them and present that “thing” no one else even conceptualized. You get frustrated working with simple-minded clients because they have no vision. It’s not even a budget thing. They just don’t get it.
The Problem Solver: While you love the challenge too, you’re about providing simple and practical solutions. You go from problem to solution quickly. You’re intuitive in your ability to offer simple ideas that will work and be successful. You’re a quick study. You expect to win more jobs because you moved your client quickly through the process. You’re disappointed when your clients make decisions by committee or get crippled by decision making.
The Sharer: You’re always talking about what’s new. You love being trendy and sharing what caught your eye. You’re great when your client asks for “something new” because you always know that first-to-market solution. You get frustrated when clients can’t see beyond same old, same old.
The Tried and True: You are consistent. You deliver on time, on budget, and always meet expectations. You’re the “go to” when something is needed quickly because you’re your client’s most reliable resource. You’re fast and efficient. You get repeat business because you stick to the same old, same old. You might be a mini problem solver if the client trusts you with ideas. You get frustrated when clients don’t know what they want.
The Order Taker: You’re always willing to steal a project by coming in less than other quotes. You’re there for the transaction. The more transactions, the more money to be made. You like sourcing the item because you know what you are sourcing and where you are sourcing it from. It may be fringe business for you. You’re always saying, “I could probably get it for you cheaper than you’re paying now.” You get frustrated when clients want to spend time discussing their promotional item needs.
Be aware that we all have multiple powers, but we traditionally lead with one.
Why is your super power important?
It’s a great way to differentiate yourself from your competition. Own your super power because working in your zone of genius is infinitely more rewarding than trying to be something you’re not! See it as a great way to realize a great client when you meet one.
Knowing your sweetspot lets you ask better questions because your best successes come when you’re in super power mode.
Finally, let it be an opportunity to see gaps in your ability so you can decide whether they’re important enough to work on. Or not.
Abigail Tiefenthaler is founder of Sweetspot Strategies, Inc., a marketing consulting practice that teaches small business owners, primarily promotional products distributors, how to brand their super power in order to authentically dominate their competitive space. She has 35+ years of branding and marketing experience, including 21 years running an independent distributorship that exceeded $1MM in revenue in less than 2 years. If you’re looking to up your game, get focused on success, and find the sweetspot of your distributorship, book your free Strategy Session today.
Abigail can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-804-9413.
“Knowledge is having the right answer. Intelligence is asking the right question.” (author Unknown)
If you’re looking for the right answers that will help you win more clients and potentially build more business partnerships, then learning how to ask the right questions is a must! The best sales people are curious question askers. And they love understanding the answers! This is how they get to the root of the challenge a prospect wants them to solve.
It separates the order taker from the problem solver.
And the transaction seeker from the relationship builder.
Successful distributors know how to weave critical questions into their prospecting conversations. They gain valuable “inside” intelligence which enables them to offer better solutions and win more business.
Below is a list of questions I ask every time I’m asked to quote a project. I’m sure you’re asking many of these questions already, but if there’s just one or two new ones on this list and you start using them, imagine what might happen to your business!
1. Tell me what you’re looking for.
2. Why are you looking for it?
3. Who’s your primary audience?
4. How do you want your recipients to feel when they attend this event/receive this item?
5. What’s your budget? Timeframe? Quantity? Art requirements?
6. Are you considering using this item again, or will it be used once?
7. Are there any limitations (i.e., weight, travel, etc.) ?
8. Are there any specific things you want to consider or don’t want to consider? Any reason why?
9. How are you making your decision?
10. How do you want information to be provided so you and your team can make your decision?
11. What do you need from me to secure this order?
12. What do you expect from me after you place the order?
13. What do you need from me so I can get paid? What is your payment policy?
And, the key to asking great questions is to listen to the answers. Ask for clarification where you’re confused. If you feel overwhelm trying to quote the project, chances are you’re missing a piece of the puzzle.
Without all the information it’s really hard to do your best work and show up as the amazing distributor you are! Don’t assume you know the answers. Give a prospect time to talk, and they usually will tell you everything you need to know, and it gets them thinking about what they want too!
Abigail Tiefenthaler is founder of Sweetspot Strategies, Inc., a marketing consulting practice that teaches small business owners, primarily promotional products distributors, how to brand their super power in order to authentically dominate their competitive space. She has 35+ years of branding and marketing experience, including 21 years running an independent distributorship that exceeded $1MM in revenue in less than 2 years. If you’re looking to up your game, get focused on success, and find the sweetspot of your distributorship, book your free Strategy Session today!
There are few things that matter more to a business owner than their clients. After all, without customers there is no business. Yet, do you really know who your customers are? Why they work with you? Why they come back?
Most business owners don't. They don't know much about their customers other than their customers buy their products. The key to creating a successful business is to be able to use marketing to help bring more customers like you have now to your sales table. And, in order to do that you need to understand as much as you can about your active customers so you can speak to them. Directly and in their voice. If you're not talking to them you're talking at them, and they won't hear you. The goal of marketing is for your prospects and customers to see you, listen to you, relate to what you're saying, and give them a reason to work with you. So, to understand more about your customers consider asking yourself the following questions:
1. Who are my clients?
Do you know who is supporting your business? You probably have different types of clients, as most businesses do. You have customers who buy from you consistently, whenever they can, and as much as they can. You probably have some clients who come back occasionally to get more of what they need, or to see if you have anything new. And, then there is that one time client. They came, they saw, they bought, and you never heard interacted again. The client that got away. Or, the client that you were happy to see leave. Either way makes no difference. We all have a transaction or two.
If you want to minimize transactional business, and create ongoing business relationships with your clients, even clients who only buy from you occasionally, knowing your client breakdown is important. Why? Not every client is worth the same to your business! You want to know your client breakdown so you can identify potential areas where you can grow your business quickly and simply. And, this is usually with your most important target audience...your active existing clients! It's a lot easier to get an active client to buy more (products, frequency, dollar value) than it is to acquire a new client. And, with some targeted marketing to your occasional clients you may find that they're wanting to work with you, but don't really know what else they want!
Most business owners spend their time on the hunt in lead generation, and miss the obvious "next sale" from an existing client. Today, if you don't nurture your clients, someone else will nab them. And, you want to nurture your clients at the place they are now. In our fast paced society clients don't have time to look for you, they're going to turn to someone who is there when they need them. Developing client relationships is the key to getting more clients who buy from you consistently.
Looking at your client breakdown and strategically targeting specific client types with a marketing message that is unique to their position in your business will help you get more sales. And, you'll be happier and more confident in the process. It will make you feel less like you're hawking products and more like you're solving specific problems. Because your different clients may have slightly different problems! And, your clients will notice and appreciate the attention. Plus as an added benefit, knowing this information will help you identify who your perfect ideal client actually is because most business owners don't know this information, but this is a topic for another article!
2. Why do they work with me?
If you know why your clients work with you, or refer other businesses to you, you have an opportunity to use this intelligence to have more of your ideal clients find you. Remember, marketing is about visibility, getting the right people to find you, and this is only possible when you're marketing to them specifically. Getting them to see you consistently, intentionally, and consistently. Building the know, like, and trust factor. And, how do you do that? You do it by showing up as the solution to their problem. When they're ready to say "YES." And, in language that resonates with them.
The hardest thing for a business owner to learn is not why they think someone works with them, but why someone actually works with them. The specific challenges. The specific words. The specific ways words are phrased. This means they're in their client's minds, instead of their own. Yet, this intelligence is money in the bank. If one client needs you for the reason they say, there are other clients needing you for that same reason. You may think everyone works with you for one reason, and then you come to find that they work with you for an entirely different reason. When you learn to listen to your clients, really listen to them, they'll tell you what they want and what they need. They'll tell you about the marketplace. They'll tell you about the competition. While you may speak the language of your company, your clients speak the language of your success. Listen carefully. Knowing these answers helps you fine tune your brand message so you can create more effective marketing. More effective marketing leads to more sales. More effective marketing leads to better clients.
3. What do they need more of from me?
Feedback is an amazing success tool because it tells you what clients want. Every marketing and sales activity you do in your business should have built in analytics so you can see from client to client, marketing effort to marketing effort, and product to product, what works. Today, it's incredibly simple to get feedback because there are so many online tools to help. All you have to do is ask the right questions!
Building client relationships is the best path to success so understanding what a client needs, wants, likes, and is looking for next in their business success journey is critical. If you know the answer to this question you can support them as they grow. It shows you understand their business. It makes you a market leader. And, supporting them as they grow gives them a reason to continue wanting to work with you. Consider that support can come a lot of different ways, for instance:
What does your product funnel look like? Even if you offer custom solutions for clients, do you have a clear path for them? Your product funnel helps you create marketing that keeps customers coming back for more. If you've seen a client's journey start, don't you want to continue to provide them with enough training/support/products so they can move to the next step of their own business journey? Or, give them a reason to keep using your products? Seeing the bigger picture of their business lets them know that you're there for them, and care for them and their success!
These three questions get you thinking about your customers, instead of your business. When you're doing this you're looking at a bigger picture of your business, and stepping out of a "What's in it for me" mindset. And this is the place where you open up a world of possibilities for both you and your clients.
To your SWEET success!
Abigail Tiefenthaler is the founder of Sweetspot Strategies, Inc. She is passionate about helping business owners create a brand that is marketing worthy, and marketing that builds visibility and brings your ideal clients to your sales table. She would love to help you align your brand to your business. Or, work with you and your employees to help them understand how to build customer relationships that brings more clients, more income, and a more productive company environment. "Build a Brand and Your Build A Business." Contact her directly at 954-804-9413 or email@example.com.
Marketing is the people mover of your business. It's the train that takes a person and gets them to become a prospect, then a qualified prospect, then a customer, then a fan. How does that happen? It happens with a great brand. And how do you create a great brand? This happens when you know who you are and what you do, who you serve and why you serve them, and you have clearly positioned your business as unique in your competitive marketplace. These are the foundational elements of a great brand.
So "Branding is about everything" (Tom Peters), especially as it relates to creating a good relationship experience with your prospects and customers. This is really important. If your brand is working you are getting more visibility and credibility, and the right people are showing up at your sales table.
But, did you know that a great brand gives you so much more? Below are five benefits of having a great brand:
1. Gives your clarity on your business - If you do the right branding work and really dig deep into the who, what, where, when, why, and how of your business you WILL get clarity on your business. You WILL get clarity on your goals. And, you WILL get clarity on the steps you need to take to make things happen. Clarity gives you purpose. Clarity gives you hope.
2. Allows you to take control of your brand and your business - Your business has a brand. My question to you is, "Who is controlling your brand's reputation?" If you're not making sure your brand image is visible, consistent and solid, you're allowing your prospects, customers, competitors, and community to control your brand's reputation. Protecting your brand image is an important part of building a thriving and enduring business. Control your brand. Manage your brand. And, it will give back to your business tenfold, at least.
3. Gives you a foundation to create great marketing - Marketing is a necessary part of the business success puzzle. However, without the right foundation (branding) effective marketing is impossible. Marketing is all about getting seen as credible, and as the authority in your marketplace. It requires frequency, consistency and intention. But, the process starts with branding.
4. Gives your prospects and customers a level of expectations - Your brand is your reminder to your prospects and customers that you are running a business. It's a reminder to them that you're focused on solving their challenges and being the best solutions provider you can be. A standard level of service is a good thing. It gives your employees and resources a level of expectations. And, it gives your prospects and customers an assurance that when they work with your company they will be treated a certain way and receive a product or service at a certain level of delivery.
5. Positions you as a market leader - Every industry evolves through innovation. Who is leading your industry? Companies with a solid brand become the 'go to' leader because they're out in their marketplace consistently, frequently and intentionally. They're usually listening to their customers and creating products and services that help customers solve their problems in new and better ways. Companies that have solid brands are market innovators and thought leaders.
Controlling your brand will help you control your marketplace. What are you waiting for? Is your brand ready to lead your business to success? Is your brand ready to be a market leader? If you answered, "I'm not sure," let's talk.
Before the logo, before content, before development of websites or social media pages your brand needs a blueprint. It needs to be carefully created so that the steps of marketing and sales can be developed aligned with your business goals.
I've created "Your Big Bold Brand," a Live Interactive Virtual Workshop to help you get your brand focused and on message. Check back for the next event!
This is a working workshop. You WILL make progress on your branding. Branding is the foundational element on which marketing and sales are built. It is a critical piece of your success puzzle. Once you see the connection between the branding, marketing, and sales your business will never be the same! Get your branding right and you'll be on your way to creating marketing that gets results and sales that gets you customers. Let's talk, let me help you create your Big Bold Brand!
To your SWEET success!
Abigail Tiefenthaler is the founder of Sweetspot Strategies, Inc. She helps small and mid-sized companies clarify, prioritize, and simplify their branding and marketing for greater success. Her FREE Guide: "7 Deadly Mistakes That Sabotage Your Business and Cause You to Lose Customers (and Money)" identifies potential sabotage patterns in your marketing so you can address them and start creating marketing that grows your business. Download it today: http://www.sweetspotstrategies.com/7-deadly-marketing-mistakes/
Abigail's goal is simple, build a brand that positions a business as different and unique, then simplify marketing so it can attract the right prospects.
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