Tag Archives: small business strategy

How Do You Approach Potential Clients You Already Know? Read This to Find Out!

group of potential clients

Hard to approach potential clients you already know?

I was recently asked — “How do I approach people I notice who could use my services and explain what I do without being annoying/intrusive? So many missed opportunities every time I walk around the hood!”

I think every single small business owner asks this question when they’re starting out – either out loud or at the very least in their heads. It is an *extremely* fine line between promoting your business and providing help/value to someone and going over the line and ticking them off, even damaging trust or a relationship.

Small businesspeople need friends

Your friends want to help you!

Ultimately, however, I think it’s good for people to know about your business. Partly because they themselves might be able to benefit from your services, but also because as friends and acquaintances of yours, they are probably happy to support you and help you out if possible. But they can’t do that if they don’t know what you do.

There are a number of ways to approach sharing business information, and you have to pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and the people you’re talking to. (this applies whether your clients are other businesses or consumers)

Because I wanted more than my opinion on this I solicited a variety of business contacts. Below is what they had to say. (#4 is mine)

Approach #1

I think by speaking about how your service or product can help them, instead of just selling it in general, people become inspired and see it as less of a pitch. I hand out my business cards (which are really nice…thanks Moo.com!) and tell them to give me a call if they want to chat more. No pressure, just a chat. If they don’t take me up, often times they’ll refer someone to me.

Approach # 2

I think just being honest and sincere is the key. For example saying, “Hi there, I noticed you were X. I don’t know if this is something that would be a good fit for you or not, but I provide Y.”. Or something like that. I find the phrase “I don’t know if this is a good fit” always puts the prospect / other person at ease.

Approach # 3

In my view: First observe your target people around you. Examine what they are struggling with when it comes to child raising. Upon observation, if you could find problem, go to them and provide them a small piece of free advice/solution. This will help you start conversation and will spark interest in you.

Listen to that Small Business Idea!

Ask questions, listen, then share if appropriate.

Approach # 4

I find that it’s easiest to share what you do when you’re finding out more about what the other person does. I’m always curious about people I meet and like to find out what they did before having kids, whether they’re currently working etc.
If I’m asked in return what I do, I share.  (Note: have your “elevator speech” ready – who you help and what problem you help them with).

If they’re interested let them know you offer lots of resources, tips, etc. on your Facebook page or blog, etc.  
They might hire you one day and they might not, but either way you made a good impression, did your good deed for the day, and got your name and business contact info out there :) Remember that it’s not about selling – it’s about helping solve their problem, whether that’s through your services or not.

Approach # 5

1. Setup & populate a blog / social media channel with valuable content
2. Print namecard with contact & the online channel URL
3. Be bold & gentle when approach the prospects
4. Highlight their issue & offer quick & short advice (don’t always point back to the business).
ie “Hi there, I noticed you are having X issue. How about trying Y (don’t always point back to the business)? Hand them the namecard “Do check this out. It is my site & I share about XYZ.”

As you can see, this is all about sharing how you can help the potential client solve a problem (and this may not be through your service!), then directing them to the appropriate place to get more.

Thanks to Crunch Compass for this question. Crunch Compass’s Charise Jewell is a parenting consultant and writer providing support, education, and practical solutions for the problems we all have.  Check out Crunch Compass on Facebook (and like the page while you’re there!).

If you have any questions email them to me and they might appear on this blog, with a link to your website.

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Social Media Driving you Crazy? 2 Tips to Simplify

Social Media Driving you Crazy?

Social media ever make you feel like this?

Ever have one of those weeks? You know, the ones where you wonder how you’re going to get everything done? And you’re doing okay (horray!)…..until you remember you’re supposed to be “doing” social media.

And maybe the sinking feeling sets in, or the feeling that this is inevitable. Or the feeling that maybe social media isn’t “for you”. Quite possibly you just hate it!

I’ve been there too — and for me time has been a constraint for the past three weeks with my husband out of the country.

What can you do to manage your social media and still have some kind of life? Here are two little tips that can make a big difference to your productivity and sanity. (and who doesn’t love feeling sane?!)

Social Media Management Tip #1
Use scheduling software
I nearly always advise clients to use one of the many social media management programs out http://www.wonderoftech.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/buffer-logo.jpgthere. I use Hootsuite, but there are lots available, most with free versions.

It’s far more productive to set aside 1/2 hr per week (or however you manage that) to schedule posts for the next week. (I personally do a two week period of scheduling posts) Then you can take 5 http://bcitma.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/hootsuite-logo-dashboard.pngminutes every day to see what’s going on, provide timely updates/info, and comment on posts.

If you know you’ve got a busy time period coming up, or you’re going away, schedule your posts as usual, but perhaps for however you’re going to be busy/away. You still need to reply to posts, but perhaps you skip the 5 min per day.

http://www.universitiesnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/social_media.jpg

Photo courtesy of Universities News

Social Media Management Tip #2
Limit the number of social media you use.
So many small businesses are told that they need to be *everywhere* and feel like if they’re not on the latest, trendiest social media they’ll be left behind. And I know that others feel like there are so many social media out there that they are overwhelmed and don’t pick any! (sorry, but that’s a no-no; you’ve got to join in on this one)

If you’re managing your social media yourself, pick fewer and do a better job on them. Most popular social media for the most part are Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn is also a good choice for B2B….both for networking and because it shows a level of professionalism for any small business person.

Pick social media you either like using, or at least don’t hate. Then post regularly – scheduled posts and impromptu. Choosing fewer social media will allow you to focus your efforts and become more known and trusted in those circles….and the old adage still holds true that we buy from those we know, like and trust.

Ultimately I think it’s good to keep in mind that while any small business can benefit from using social media, it does not have to be painful or overly time consuming. That’s why I’m here – to help make Marketing and Social Media easier for small businesses!

If you have any questions email them to me and they might appear on this blog, with a link to your website.

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What’s More Important: A Marketing Plan or a Business Plan?

small businss marketing planI was talking to a potential client yesterday about a marketing plan for his small business in Toronto. We got onto the topic of whether a business should start out with a marketing plan or a business plan, and I realized that many small businesses might need some insight into which one is more important.

First of all, what is the difference between a marketing plan and a business plan?

A business plan provides a more general overview of the business, and usually includes a business description, operations information, financial data, a market analysis and goals and objectives.
A marketing plan outlines how the company will achieve its goals and objectives. It includes information on the brand (ie. position of the company in the marketplace), as well as any opportunities or threats that may exist.

In my experience a small business could save time and create a combined business and marketing plan….unless the company was seeking financial investors, in which case they’d need individual marketing and business plans.

When meeting with new clients regarding a small business marketing plan or small business advertising plan, I always discuss their goals and objectives with them and include this in the plan I create. (It’s really *that* important.) So even if the company does not have a business plan they will have the key information right in the marketing plan or advertising plan. (and a reminder about why they’re doing all of this!)

If you’d like to discuss your small business marketing needs I’m here to help you! Just email me.

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Is Your Small Business Competition-Ready?

CompetitionFirst of all, what is “competition” in the business sense? My definition is a business that offers very similar services in a similar location.

Since you probably did your research and set up your business in a location where there is a need for it, it’s likely that other service-providers have also picked the same location for similar reasons. So, you’ve got competition.

However, sometimes we look at competition in the wrong way. Let me give you an example.

When I decided to expand my business a couple years ago into a more full-time job, I mentioned my intentions to a friend. This friend happily shared with me that she had another friend in the area who was also offering Marketing and was in the same situation as me, and she thought we should connect.

At first I felt kind of anxious about this – another Marketing person in the same area at a similar stage of their business? But I went ahead and met with her….because you never know…..!

Nance Williams Jonkman

Nance Williams Jonkman of Strategy 4 Balance

Nance and I fairly quickly realized that our services were quite different. Better yet, over time we’ve been able to support and encourage each other, and have even developed a friendship.

So much for competition!

The Point — sometimes what you think of as competition really is not.

Now think about your competition. Your biggest competition.

ie. Maybe you’re a Wellness Clinic that offers Massage, Nutritional Counselling, Naturopathic, and Psychological services and there’s one down the street that offers basically the same services.

What you need to do is focus on how you’re different. Maybe it’s with respect to your ideal client — you might want to focus on working with kids, or maybe pregnant women while the clinic down the street seems to focus on adults in the neighbourhood. (and no, you should not say you want to focus on “everyone”! That’s just confusing.)

Or, maybe your company has a different personality – ie. your space/vibe is professional and more medically-focussed, and the one down the street is more natural and earthy.

The Point – differentiate yourself – so it’s easy for potential customers to know when they should come see you and when they should go to the other company.

Competition does not have to be a “scary” or “bad” word. It’s just how you look at it and what you do about it!

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