Hello, again, and welcome to the 8th instalment in my series “Business Growth Masterclass”

As ever, before we begin, lets recap on the main points from last months discussion. You should by now,

  • know who your target market is, what their needs are, what their purchase behaviours are and how to reach them.
  • know how to use market research to find out more information about your market on a regular basis.

This month’s masterclass is about writing targeted messages for your target market.

In the last masterclass, I shared with you how to isolate your target market, and then how to use market research to gather information about that group of people to use in your marketing strategies.

Today we’re going to take your market research and use it to create a powerful marketing message. The strength of your marketing message lies in its ability to speak to the specific wants and desires of your target market, and tap into their emotional reactions, or hot buttons.

When you push those hot buttons, you motivate your audience to take action. The more people you can motivate to take action, the more leads you’ll have in store and on the other end of the phone line.

In this Business Growth Masterclass we will cover:

  • How a strong marketing message will supercharge your lead generation
  • Examples of strong marketing messages
  • A step-by-step process for developing your unique marketing message
  • Strategies that will strengthen your existing marketing message
  • How to test and measure the strength of your message.
  • How to be consistent with your strong marketing message

A strong marketing message will make a huge difference in your lead generation strategies.

A marketing message is simply a statement or phrase that you use to communicate information about your business to others. A strong marketing message will do four things:

  • Speak to the reader’s needs, wants or problems (hot buttons)
  • Offer a solution, advantage or benefit
  • Describe a point of difference
  • Motivate the reader to take action

As I said earlier, the key here is to motivate your target audience to do something after they read or hear the message. It needs to be strong enough to entice the audience to ask for more information, visit the website, pick up the phone or walk in the store.

You will put your marketing message on every piece of marketing material your business uses for lead generation, so it has to be powerful and consistent and speak to the group of people that you have identified as your ideal customers. Strengthening your marketing message has the potential to dramatically increase your lead generation before you even change your existing strategies.

Here are some examples of strong marketing messages that are used by successful businesses today.

Domino’s Pizza You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free!
M&Ms The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car We’ll pick you up.
Nyquil The nighttime, coughing, achy, sniffling, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine.
FedEx When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.
Dentist We guarantee that you will have a comfortable experience and never have to wait more than 15 minutes or you will receive a free exam.
Estate Agent Our 20 Step Marketing System Will Sell Your House In Less Than 45 Days At Full Market Value.

Let’s get started with the process you can use to create a new marketing message for your business, or refine the marketing message you already have.

Work through the following questions to brainstorm and record the aspects of your business that you will communicate in your marketing message. Take your time, and be as detailed as possible.

1. Use all the information you gathered about your target market to figure out what your customer’s hot buttons are.

Write down who your customers are, and what their problems, desires and needs are.

Take some time to revisit the behavioural and psychographic information you gathered when researching your target market. This will give you an idea of what kind of emotional hot buttons you should focus on when creating your marketing message.

Hot buttons are emotional triggers that motivate your potential customers to take action. Some common hot buttons are: price, location, exclusivity, results, safety, timeliness, convenience and atmosphere.

2. Describe the value or benefit that your product or service offers your customers.

This is what your customers get when they spend money at your business – the answer to “what’s in it for me?” How do you solve their problems? How do you meet their needs, or fulfill their desires?

For example, maybe you’re a grocery store in the neighbourhood, and you offer the convenience of being just a short stroll away instead of a car ride.

When you’re thinking about this question, think about your product or service in the context of the benefits, results, or advantages customers receive, instead of the features you offer.

3. Think about the outcome of the value or solution that you provide.

Brainstorm what happens when your customers receive the value or benefit from your product or service, what happens? Are they thrilled? Relieved of worry? Do they have more time to spend with their families, or do they put dinner on the table faster?

This is kind of like the storytelling aspect of creating your marketing message. Paint a picture of how you will improve the lives of your customers, in one way or another.

4. What is your company’s point of difference? What makes you stand out from the competition?

Your point of difference – or uniqueness – is something you will want to strongly feature in your marketing message. It is the reason that the reader should choose your business instead of your competition.

For this step, do some research on your competition and see what kinds of marketing messages they are using. How strong are those messages? What benefits and results do they promise?

If you are having trouble figuring out what sets you apart from your competition, think about including an irresistible offer, or a strong guarantee to give yourself an edge. (We’ll spend some time on powerful offers and risk reversal strategies like guarantees later on in the Masterclass series.)

5. What is the perception you would like others to have about your business?

How you wish your customers to perceive you will impact how you describe your offering in your marketing message, and the kind of language you will use. Revisit the vision you created, and write down some ideas about the image you want your business to project to the outside world.

For example, if your business is completely transforming its operations to become more environmentally sustainable, you will need to use different language and emphasise different features and benefits than you did before.

6. Based on the notes you wrote in response to the above questions, summarise the information into a paragraph of 4 to 5 sentences.

If you’ve got pages of notes, this may be a challenging part of the process, but that’s okay because it means you have a lot to work with. Take your time, and wade through your notes bit by bit.

You may want to start by writing 10 to 15 sentences, and then narrow those down to 4 to 5 sentences when you have a better idea of what specifically you want to focus on. Or, you could try writing three sentences for each question, and then working to consolidate from that point.

Keep in mind that the most effective marketing messages use strong, descriptive language that triggers emotional responses. Think about how you would describe your point of difference, or value-added service to a close friend, and write with that in mind.

7. Using descriptive language, consolidate your paragraph into a single sentence of 15 words or less.

This sentence will become your unique marketing message!

I know how challenging this part of the process can be, so to make it easier, I usually write a few different sentences that emphasise different things to give myself choices. For example, if you don’t know whether to feature your company’s commitment to unbelievable prices, or its guarantee of customer satisfaction, write one sentence each and compare which is stronger.

Aim to have two or three sentences that you’re happy with, and then test them out to see which is the most effective.

The only way to find out the strength of your marketing message is to test it. Don’t be afraid of making some mistakes – you need to get feedback!

Test your three draft marketing messages internally first.

Before you go out to the public with your drafts, test them on your friends, family, staff and colleagues first. Use their feedback constructively, but don’t be afraid to stand up for elements that you believe are effective or important.

Once you have gathered enough feedback, rework your draft messages and incorporate the suggestions you believe are valuable.

Incorporate feedback, and then test a few draft messages externally.

When you have refined your draft messages and incorporated staff and colleague feedback, you can start to test the messages out on your audience.

This doesn’t have to be complicated, or cost a lot of money. Simple tests using small-scale distributions will give you the information you need to choose which message is the most effective.

For example, place two or three ads in the local newspaper or on your social media accounts – one a week with a different message each time – and compare the number of leads each ad generates. Or, send out a small direct mail campaign, with the materials split into three groups – one for each message.

The message that generates the most leads is the strongest, and will be the one you choose to be your business’ unique marketing message.

Now that you’ve got a killer message, use it consistently on all of your marketing materials and in all of your campaigns.

Consistency and repetition are powerful persuasive tools to use to reinforce your message over time. Ensuring your marketing message appears on all documents related to your business will build your brand image and your company’s reputation.

Make a list of all marketing materials, stationery, signage and internal and external documentation that your customers and clients come in contact with. Then, incorporate your marketing message onto each of them.

Here’s a suggested list of materials to include:

  • Website
  • Advertisements
  • Direct Mail
  • Listings
  • Phone Messages
  • Email Signature
  • Business Cards
  • Letterhead

Now that you know what you’re going to say, and who you’re going to say it to, let’s dive into some lead generation strategies.

If you would like some help with the ideas introduced in this Masterclass, or to discuss any other aspect of your business growth strategy, use the following form to get in touch:

The next Business Growth Masterclass focuses on advanced strategies for lead generation that you can start implementing into your business right away. Our focus is to set up lead generation strategies that either immediately or over time will run themselves, so you can generate more leads with less time investment.

Business Skills Masterclass 8 – How to Strengthen Your Marketing Message

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Business Growth Masterclass – Session 5

 Welcome to the fifth installment in my blog series The Business Growth Masterclass.

I’ve called this session:

How to Optimise Your Office for Success

But first, as usual, lets recap the homework set in the last installment of the Business Growth Masterclass.:

  • You have written down at least 18 SMART goals for yourself – nine personal goals, and nine business goals.
  • You’ve posted your goals in a visible location for yourself and your staff.

You’ve done that? Brilliant. Now lets get on with this month’s Masterclass

When you organise your work environment, you optimise your surroundings for productivity and increase your ability to work effectively.

The steps in this Masterclass will help you streamline your office, get rid of clutter and maximise your workspace for productivity. Chances are, the actions you take today to organise your office will also save you considerable amounts of money.

A disorganised office costs more to run. Supplies, tools and equipment go missing because nothing is organised or put away properly. Those things have to be replaced to get the job done, and twice as much money has been spent in the end. Plus, you spend valuable time searching for missing items, files or paperwork.

In fact, some studies have revealed that the average senior business leader spends nearly four weeks each year navigating through messy or cluttered desks, looking for lost information. Does that sound like productive time to you?

In this E-Class we will cover:

  • The psychological impacts of a clean and organised workspace
  • The financial benefits of an organised workspace
  • How to audit your work environment
  • How to implement small changes in your office that will increase productivity
  • Making sure that your office is equipped with productivity tools

If I haven’t convinced you yet, read these benefits of taking the time to create an organised and well-structured office.

> Better communication. An organised office environment encourages better internal communication. With a central area for staff communication, it is easier to share sales news, track targets, and plan and monitor projects.

> A manageable budget. Organised spaces will allow you to quickly see what you have, what you need, and when you might need more. This supports the creation and sustaining of budgets, especially for supplies and equipment.

> Increased work ethic and morale. When you and your staff take care of your surroundings, it makes the workplace a more pleasant place. Taking care shows that you value your work and the people who work for you.

> Better time management. Simply put, you spend less time looking for things and more time actually working. An organised office will complement and support your time management strategies.

So, get started by walking through this step-by-step workplace audit, and making necessary improvements as you go.

Complete the following steps by literally walking around your office with a notepad and making observations. This is intended to be a positive exercise, so try not to get overwhelmed. Small changes are the best changes to start with.

If your office is already pretty organised, complete the audit anyway and identify any opportunities that exist to improve you and your team’s work environment.

Start with your own office.

Since this is where you’re likely to need to be the most productive, it make sense to start making some changes here. Make some observations about your office as it is now, using the following questions.

  • What can be found on your desk?
  • Where are your current files located?
  • Where are your old or inactive files?
  • How many personal items are visible?
  • What is on the walls?
  • Where are your office supplies?
  • How much paper is on your desk?
  • How many files, binders or books are on your desk?
  • Where is your in tray and out tray located, and how much is piled in them?

Based on your notes and the suggestions and guidelines below, identify opportunities for improvement. Would your office benefit from a better layout? A better filing system? A smaller desktop monitor? A paper shredder?

Clear your desk of everything but your computer, your filofax (that’s if you still use one!), your current files, your inbox and your telephone. Depending on the size of your desk, you may wish to put your current files or inbox on top of a filing cabinet within arm’s reach to maximise desk space. Anything you don’t need on a regular basis should be stored out of arm’s reach.

Choose one central system for managing your notes, tasks, to-do lists, brainstorming and scheduling. If you have a filofax, use it. If you prefer electronic systems, use those. Having too many binders and notepads and calendars gets confusing.

Make a habit of tidying your desk at the beginning and end of each day. Keep loose papers pinned to your to-do list, or have clear and organised folders. Use drawer organisers to keep your stationery drawer clean and easily accessible.

Organise your loose paper, inbox and action items in a file sorter or stack of paper trays. Use categories like to-do, to review, waiting response, on-hold and to file.

Put your phone on the left if you’re right handed, and on the right if you’re left handed, so you have the appropriate hand free to take notes when you’re on a call. Keep a notepad or post-its by the phone to record messages and conversation notes.

Personal items can be distracting when they’re in your primary line of vision, and encourage daydreaming. Photos and memorabilia have a place in your office, but relocate any items that are in direct sight.

Move on to the common areas of your business.

This is a list of the areas that you may find in your business. If your business has other areas, add them to the list. Most businesses will have the top five areas listed.

  • Office supplies storage*
  • Team communication center*
  • Point of sale or reception area*
  • Printing and photocopying*
  • Staff room or kitchen*
  • Employee and management offices
  • Equipment storage
  • Product stock storage
  • Hallways
  • Shipping and receiving area
  • Financial paperwork and accounting

Move through each of the areas and answer the following questions, as applicable.

  • What is the distance between your office and areas you frequently use, like the printer or photocopier?
  • How much loose paper is found around the business?
  • What is hung up on the walls?
  • Where is the central communication point?
  • How is the team communication center organised? Is it up to date?
  • How much old stock are you storing?
  • How are your office supplies organised?
  • Are boxes and shelves labeled?
  • Do your staff members have organization systems for their own desks?
  • How many files are used on a daily or weekly basis?
  • Where are old or outdated files kept?

Again, based on your notes and the suggestions and guidelines below, identify opportunities for improvement.

Put doors on shelving so cluttered spaces are not visible. Label boxes, containers and shelves so everyone knows what goes where.

Create a consistent filing system. Provide enough shelving and filing cabinets to store files in a systemised fashion. Ensure your system keeps files out of the way and out of sight when not in use, but maintains easy accessibility.

Return or sell unused stock and overflow office supplies, like stationery. Locate other unused items that you can potentially sell or donate to create more space. Consider renting out unused portions of your office to independent consultants or small businesses.

Ensure each staff member has access to the organizational materials they need to keep their offices neat. Provide stacking trays or file sorters, and suggest systems that may help them. Remember that you can’t control their work environment, but you can provide the support they need to stay organised.

Minimise the distance between your office and the areas you frequently use (like the printer or photocopier). Locate your office so you have a clear line of sight between you and the most productive area of your business.

Finally, make sure your business has the tools you need to run an effective, cohesive operation.

  • team communication center for all team members to review on a daily basis for important information about sales achievements, targets and company news.
  • whiteboard in the team communication center or the boardroom to use for brainstorming, diagramming, project planning, marketing planning or any other strategic use. This is an excellent tool for both internal and external meetings.
  • sales board in your team communication center (a private location from clients) that is customised to your business. Use thin black tape to create columns and rows to chart sales on a weekly or monthly basis, or to compare based on weekly, quarterly or yearly targets.
  • 12-month marketing planner to keep your eyes focused on the big picture. This is where you schedule campaigns and plan promotions. Use dry-erase marker so you can make changes easily, and use color-coding for easy visibility.

At the end of your audit, you’ll likely end up with a lot of paper you don’t know what to do with, but can’t throw away. Use these effective strategies for managing paper, filing and other information commonly used by everyone in your organization.

System

Steps

Create a filing system and colour code it Group vendor files (accounts payable) and assign a color
Group client files (accounts receivable) and assign a color
Group project or product files and assign a color
Sort each filing category by date or alphabetically by name Sort vendor or supplier files by name
Sort client files by client number or name
Sort project files by project number or name
Keep tax-related documents together File all receipts, donations and other tax related information in the same filing cabinet
Make copies of documents you need to file in more than one place
Create a binder of master lists for regularly accessed information Office passwords
Financial accounts
Goals
Birthdays
Vendor contact information
Use a bound notebook Keep track of phone calls and messages
Put the date on each page
Eliminate loose notepaper
Create a business card management system Throw away old business cards
Organise cards by last name or company name in a binder or rolodex
Enter the information in a data management program, then throw away the cards
Get rid of magazines and other reading material Throw away industry magazines and newspapers
Keep relevant articles of interest
Sort them into files, if necessary

A clean and organised office is easy to sustain once it is in place.Once you make some initial improvements and set up systems to manage your data and organise your supplies, the hard part is over.

Remember to be patient with yourself. Depending on the state of your work environment, this may be a project that takes a little while. Take your time, and follow the steps in this Masterclass, and you’ll get the job done.

Next time we’re going to hone in on time management skills with Business Growth Masterclass 6. Looking forward to it!

For more information on the office organising process described above, or to discuss any other aspect of your business growth strategy, use the following form to get in touch:

Can Just Changing The Way You Think Really Help Grow Your Business?

Most business owners today aren’t happy with the amount of revenue their business is generating. They’re working longer hours, applying greater effort, spending more for marketing and receiving lower revenue. So what’s going on?

What you need to know…

If you’re not happy with your business’s current results, it’s important to remember that those results are in direct proportion to the actions you’ve been taking? If you want different results, then you MUST take different actions.

So if that’s all that’s required, why don’t business owners just do that? The answer may shock you. They can’t stop repeating their past patterns of behavior. Their past patterns have become ingrained into their subconscious mind and have established themselves as habits.

Have you ever listened to art experts accurately identify a recently discovered painting as belonging to a specific artist such as Rembrandt? How can they tell who painted that picture? Patterns… that’s how. Even though the painting may look completely different than all the others that artist painted, his or her patterns, sometimes referred to as their “style,” continuously comes through with each and every painting.

Why you need to know this…

The exact same thing happens to business owners as well. All of us have been mentally conditioned to perform our daily activities in a certain way. These activities have become habits through constant and daily repetition. The problem is that the majority of these habits… more than 80% of them… are non-productive.

Imagine what would happen to your revenue if you could reduce that 80% down to 60%. Do you realize that you would DOUBLE your income? Do you know how easy it is to reduce that 80% down to 60%… or even down to 40%… which doubles revenue again? Exciting, isn’t it?

If you have past patterns of behaviour which are acting as a barrier to the growth of your business and lifestyle and you are interested in finding out how to develop new behaviours, talk to your coach. They have the skills and experience to help you make the necessary change.

And remember, to quote the famous quality guru W Edwards Deming said – “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.

Business Growth Masterclass – Session 4

Welcome to the fourth installment in my blog series The Business Growth Masterclass.

I’ve called this session:

How to Create, Manage and Achieve Your Goals

But first, lets just have a recap of the homework set in the last installment of the Business Growth Masterclass.

  • You understand the importance of committing goals to paper.
  • You have identified the areas of your business where you need to set goals.
  • You practice using autosuggestion and visualization regularly – or at least before important meetings, presentations and sales calls.

Well done. Now lets move on and dive into this months installment of the Business Growth Masterclass.

I didn’t plan this when I started publishing the Business Growth Masterclass, but it’s seems very timely that, at the time of year when everyone is making New Years Resolutions and setting out what they would like to achieve/have or be in 2013, that this installment of the Business Masterclass deals with the crucial subject of goal setting. It is a documented fact that people who set goals and write them down, and use them as a basic and fundamental part of the way they do things, tend to achieve much greater things than those people who don’t.

Also, there’s no point in setting goals unless they’re SMART, because SMART goals have the highest probability of being achieved.

In this session you’re going to take some time to set a series of personal and business goals that will act as milestones as you work towards achieving your business vision.

Many people set goals, but not everyone reaches their goals. Too often, goals are too vague, or too broad. “I’m going to be a millionaire,” “I’m going to be the best parent ever,” or “My business is going to make much more money this year.” They’re big, bold abstract statements that are great for dreaming and visioning, but don’t stand a chance of being achieved in a meaningful or tangible way.

Today, you’re going to work through a step-by-step process for setting goals that you WILL achieve. How? You’re going to learn how to set SMART goals, and get some tools to help you stay on track.

In this E-Class we will cover:

  • The SMART goal setting principle
  • Examples of SMART goals
  • When to review and revise goals
  • A step-by-step goal setting process

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Bound goals.

SPECIFIC goals that describe details and articulate aims are easier to achieve than vague or broad statements.

Ambiguous or incomplete goals will only assist you in achieving ambiguous or incomplete results. Your goals need to be as detailed as possible so that you will achieve the specific results you are looking for.

A specific goal can be easily understood by anyone who reads it; your intention and desired results are clearly detailed and described, and the actions you will take to achieve it have been planned.

Ambiguous

Specific

I should lose weight. I will lose 10 pounds in the next two months (that’s 2.5lbs per week) by eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising three times a week.
I will work harder this year. I will increase my sales figures by 20% in the next six months by scripting and practicing my closing strategies.

MEASURABLE goals are the only kind of goals that you can actually achieve.

Your goals need to be measurable so you can assess your progress, manage your progress, and know when you have achieved your desired outcome. You can use standard measurements like time, numbers, money and distance.

When goals are measurable, they can be broken down and easily managed in smaller pieces. You can create an action plan and plot the steps towards achieving the goal. You can track your progress and revise your action plan if you need to.

Non-Measureable

Measureable

I will make more money this year. I will increase my profits by 15% this year by increasing my prices (and value I offer) by 5% each 6 months and selling my audio interviews on ebay.
I will start running this spring. I will learn to run a half marathon this spring by joining a running training group.

ACHIEVABLE goals have a better chance of being realized because they are grounded in feasibility.

You need to set goals that challenge and stretch you, but you also need to avoid setting goals that are far beyond the reach of your circumstances and skill level. It’s great to think big, and dream big, but too many people set goals that are simply beyond their capabilities and wind up disappointed. Goals that are not achievable will only demotivate and disempower you.

On the flip side, setting goals that are too easy to achieve will not help you grow as a person and as a professional. You need to strike the right balance between challenge and reality.

Unrealistic

Achieveable

I will climb Mount Everest this year. I will begin a one year training programme today, and climb to base camp in 9 months from now.
I will earn a million pounds. A million pounds is £2,739.73 per day, and £9,230.77 per week. I will earn 1 million pounds in the next 365 days starting today.

This is the part where you look at the reasoning behind your goal. It’s great to set goals in all areas of your life, but for the most part your goals will collectively achieve a common vision. The goal’s action plan can be reasonably integrated into your life, with a realistic amount of effort.REALISTIC – or relevant – goals make sense and can be integrated into your life and overall business strategy

Goals that are not realistic or relevant don’t appear to have a logical place in your life or overall business strategy, and can serve to derail you. You want to make sure that all of your efforts are working in a single, focused direction or you may run the risk of going in too many directions, spinning your wheels and never achieving your vision.

Irrelevant

Realistic

I will become a better Monopoly player, and win 25% more games. I will spend more time with my family this year by staying at home one night each weekend.
I will become a NASA astronaut. I will start my own on-line business, to compliment my existing business and add another stream, of income, by my birthday.

“To plan it, is to dream it… to schedule it, is to make it REAL. Attach a written timeline!”TIME-BOUND goals give you a frame of reference and keep you motivated.

Karl Bryan, CEO, Author, International Speaker

Just like any task without a deadline is easy to push off your desk or down your to-do list, a goal without a timeframe will never be achieved. Goals that are not attached to a timeframe are merely dreams or lose intentions.

You need to make sure that the timeframe you set for your goal is realistic and achievable – not too short or too long – and reflects any elements or factors beyond your control that may influence the timing of the outcome. This will keep you motivated and focused, and allow you to check in on and track your progress.

Loose

Time Bound

I will join a gym and start an exercise program. I will join a gym by the end of this month and start a regular weekly exercise program.
I will start a new marketing program. I will invest £750 on an online product by the end of this month, and start selling it online by my birthday this year.

Once you’ve come up with some goals for your personal and professional life, work through our test to see if they are SMART goals.The SMART Goal Test

When you’re creating your goal statements, put them through the following test:

Specific

How detailed is this goal?
Can it be more detailed?
Can I be more specific with what I wish to accomplish?

Measurable

Can I measure my results over time, distance, money or quantity?
How will I measure the results?
How often will I measure the results?

Achievable

Is it possible for me to reach this outcome?
Do I have what I need to reach this outcome?
Will I be able to achieve this goal in the short-term or long-term?

Relevant

Is this goal consistent with my values and overall vision for my life?
Is this goal a priority for me to focus on right now?
Is this a primary or secondary goal?

Time Bound

Have I set a time frame for this goal?
Is it a reasonable time frame?
Is it a manageable time frame?

Here are some examples of SMART goals compared to other goals.

Other Goal

SMART Goal

I want to write a book.

I will write a book on internet marketing that is at least 150 pages long, and have the first draft completed by January 23rd. I’ll commit to writing at least three pages each day (I understand that wealth creation is created before 9am and after 5pm – during the day I earn a living) until I finish.

I want to be really wealthy.

I will double my income to £200,000 within 18 months by starting an internet marketing business.

I want to become a millionaire in four months.

I will become a millionaire within three years by starting my own small business marketing company and positioning myself as an expert public speaker with engagements worldwide. I will supplement that income by creating a source of passive income.

I am going to do my taxes.

I am going to finish my taxes by Friday, and I’ll achieve this by spending two hours on them each night until then

Goals, like everything in business, have the potential to grow, change and evolve based on circumstances beyond our control. Depending on the length of the goal – daily, weekly, monthly or yearly – you’ll want to set up a schedule for reviewing and potentially revising your goals.You need to review and revise your goals on a regular basis so they have room to grown and change with you.

Build this review period into your goal setting process – schedule times to review your goals and take stock of your progress. Here’s a guideline:

Goal Timeframe

Frequency of Review

One Week

Daily

Two Weeks

Weekly

One Month

Weekly

Three Months

Monthly

Six Months

Monthly

One Year

Quarterly

Five Years

Yearly

10 Years

Yearly

Now it’s time to working through the goal setting process and create a few SMART goals of your own.

(Note: If you prefer, I can let you have a series of pre-set spreadsheets to help you with this. Use the form at the end of this post to claim your own personalised spreadsheets).

Have a go at working through the following steps to creating 18 SMART personal and business goals.

TIP: This is a great exercise to have your employees and management work through.

1. Establish Your Personal Values
Since you’ve already worked through a business visioning process, use the same process to work through a personal visioning process. When you’ve completed this, combine your business and personal visions and set your goals in one place.

2. Take a Personal Inventory
Using the information you discovered in the previous Personal Values exercise, carry out a Personal Inventory to think big about your future and your success. What are you dreams for yourself and for your business?

3. Set SMART Goals
Using the SMART principle described in this blog, plus the personal and business visions that you have just created, write down three personal and three business goals for each of the following time frames: 6 months, 12 months, 5 years. Remember that these goals should support your personal or your business vision.

4. Create an Action Plan for Each Goal
Now, for each of the 18 goals, create an action plan. This will include steps to take, potential obstacles to overcome, milestones to note, and other information that will help you as you work to achieve the goal.

5. Display Your Goals
Put your goals in a visible place where you can see and be reminded of them on a regular basis. You may wish to place business goals in your place of work, and personal goals on your desk or at your computer.

You’ve now completed the only envisioning and goal-setting process you will ever need to be successful. Congratulations!

I hope you’re getting really excited about the future potential of your business, and the power you have in you to achieve the vision and goals you have set while you’ve been taking part in the Business Growth Masterclass.

The next couple of installments will lay down further groundwork for your success, and then we will dive into the marketing strategies that are really going to transform your vision into reality.

For more information on the goal setting process described above, or to discuss any other aspect of your business growth strategy, use the following form to get in touch:

Does your business have that certain something that make you stick out from the crowd?

Do You Have A Unique Selling Proposition; that certain something which makes you stand out from the crowd?

If I were your prospective customer, why should I do business with you above any and all other options? Why would I be an absolute fool to buy what you sell from anyone else but you? That answer should be clearly articulated in the form of your USP.

What you need to know…

A USP is the single, most distinct and important benefit a business owner provides to their clients that’s different from their competition. It’s absolutely critical to not only create an effective and highly compelling USP, but to use it in every piece of marketing you develop, and in every form of communication you use with your clients and prospects.

Why you need to know this…

Your USP, working in tandem with your elevator pitch, creates a huge competitive edge for your business. Developed properly, it will separate your business from your competition, eliminate them in the minds of your prospects and have them saying to themselves that they would be fools to do business with anyone else but you.

For example, most business owners place the name of their business at the top of their business card. That’s the worst thing you can put there. No one cares who you are or what you do. They only care about the benefits your product or service offers to them.

Instead of a jeweler’s business card saying “John’s Jewelers,” what if it said this…

Discounted Diamonds – Unmatched Quality, Untouchable Price, Unbeatable Guarantee

In just a few words, would you feel like an absolute fool if you bought a diamond from anyone else but this jeweler? That’s the power of a well-designed USP.

The cost to you if you fail to act…

Do you have a Unique Selling Proposition?

Do you use it in every piece of marketing you create?

Do you have it prominently displayed on your business card?

If you don’t, you’re losing market share, a massive amount of potential revenue and the opportunity to dominate your market.

To your success,

David T Preston

Business Growth Masterclass – Session 3

Welcome to the third installment in my blog series The Business Growth Masterclass

I’ve called this session:

How to Make Goal Setting a Fundamental Part of Your Business

Before we start, I just want to check that you’ve done the homework set in the last installment of the Business Masterclass.

  • You have a strong understanding of how the five-part formula works.
  • You understand how the formula can impact all areas of your business.
  • You have taught your staff about the five-part formula, or simply told them that you are embarking on a new marketing strategy that will involve their participation.

Great Stuff! Now it’s time to put together your road map. You need to set some goals that support the vision you created.

By now you’ve created a really clear vision of where you’re going to take your business, and what it’s going to look like when you get there. You’ve also learned a proven, step-by-step formula for making that vision a reality. You’re getting close to the end of the preparation stage, and closer to diving into Step One: Lead Generation. But first, you have to map out the route that you’re going to take to achieve your vision, and establish which landmarks will tell you that you’re going the right way. You’ve got to set some goals.

In this session we will cover:

  • What are goals and why set them?
  • How is a goal different from a vision?
  • Areas of your business that need goals
  • What happens when I achieve a goal?
  • The impact of positive thinking
  • Autosuggestion techniques and exercise
  • Visualization techniques and exercise

Goals are specific, attainable targets that bring you to your vision. They’re the milestones (or landmarks) you need to reach along the way.

Goals focus your efforts and intentions, and direct your motivation in a productive direction. Goals outline a plan of action, while dreams are conceptual visions. Your goals are the milestones you will reach along the way to achieving your vision. They break down the process into smaller pieces; the little successes en route to the big success story.

Goals are different from your vision.

It can be easy at first to confuse a business vision with a goal. They are both projections of an ideal future situation that you have created based on your dreams.

Goal

Vision
Goals are specific, measurable targets that a person or business sets out to achieve. Goals support the greater aspirations set out in the business vision statement. A vision statement is a broad, inspiring image of the future state a business aspires to reach. It describes without specifying how aspirations will be achieved, or when.

There are many areas in your business that you need to think about when setting goals or targets. Let’s create your unique list.Studies have shown that only three to five percent of people in the world have written goals – the same three to five percent who have achieved success in business and earn considerable wealth. Setting strong goals and committing them to paper is the most effective way to achieve success. Goals will focus your time, energy and the outcomes that are the highest priority at a time. When you prioritise and concentrate your efforts, you avoid being stretched too thin, and produce greater results.

You have many areas of your business, and each need to do their part to contribute to the overall vision you have for the company. Set your goals systematically. There are many areas of your business that you can set targets and goals for. This helps to break down the process into smaller, achievable chunks. Here are the areas of your business that you’ll need to think about when setting goals:

Lead Generation > In-store Leads
> Phone leads
> Return on Investment (of marketing campaigns)
> Weekly / Monthly / By Campaign Leads
Conversion Rates > Individual Staff Targets
> Staff Development
> Conversion Rates
> Sales Targets
Transaction Frequency > Sales Targets
> Customer Loyalty
> Average Transaction Frequency
Average Sale > Sales Targets
> Revenue
> Add-on Targets
> Sale increases
Margins > Product or Service Evolution
> Profit
> Cost Reduction
Personal > Personal Development
> Personal Wealth Generation

What happens when you achieve your goals, What happens next?

You should reward yourself and your team each time a target is reached. This will not only train your mind to associate hard work with reward, but will develop loyalty and morale among your employees. Once you’ve reached a target, ask yourself where the next rung of the ladder is. Can you improve upon the target you just reached? Can you stretch yourself and your team, or challenge yourself more? Get into the habit of setting a new, higher goal each time you achieve an existing goal. This will lay a solid foundation for consistent personal and professional growth and improvement.

Before you set goals, you need to reframe your thinking so you can support yourself and your efforts.

We’ve talked a bit about the power of intention, and how a strong belief in yourself and your ability to be successful is the keystone to achieving great things. This part of a greater concept, called positive self-talk, and it has a powerful impact on your reality. Positive thinking and self-talk is an important technique to practice and cultivate. When you programme a positive stream of subconscious thoughts into your mind, you can control your reality, and ultimately the outcome of your goals. When you set out to practice positive self-talk techniques like autosuggestion and visualization, you may find that you have a stream of negative thoughts that continually run through your mind. This is okay – you work is to correct each negative statement that flows through your mind. For example, each time you say to yourself, “I’ll never be able to finish this…” or “I’m a terrible public speaker…” take a moment to stop and correct the thought. Instead, say “I will do the best I can to finish this project,” or “I will get myself some training and become a better public speaker.” Positive self-talk means getting rid of the negative thoughts that run through your mind on a regular basis – some that you may not even hear!

  • That’s impossible.
  • Don’t even bother.
  • It’s already been done.
  • We tried that, and it didn’t work.
  • You’re too young.
  • You’re too old.
  • You’ll never get there.
  • You’ll never get that done.
  • You can’t do that.

Autosuggestion is a kind of positive self-talk that will improve your performance in all areas of your life, and give you a better shot at achieving the goals you set.

Autosuggestion is the technique that harnesses the power of your internal dialogue – your constant stream of thoughts and judgments and beliefs – and uses it for positive, affirmations. Often, this involves changing negative beliefs and perceptions that we learned from our parents, friends, partners and experiences. You can practice autosuggestion anywhere, and at any time. It is especially helpful to spend 10 to 15 minutes practicing autosuggestion before a stressful situation, like a meeting or sports game. All you need to do is sit quietly, breath deeply, and allow yourself to be open to the thoughts and ideas you are about to tell yourself. Then repeat positive statements about yourself and the future outcome of a goal or intention or event. Some examples of positive autosuggestions include:

  • I will close the sales presentation and secure this client!
  • I am a capable and positive person!
  • I deserve the success that I have achieved!
  • I am doing the best I can!
  • I will assert my needs in my relationship!
  • I will have all the information I need to ace my exam!

Here are some helpful tips for your autosuggestion process.

  • Believe in and feel what you are telling yourself. Linking suggestions to emotion increases their potency.
  • Talk to yourself like you would a close friend. Use a calm, considerate and gentle tone of voice. Remember that you are working to develop a good relationship with yourself.
  • Phrase your suggestions positively, and avoid negatives like “not”, “less”, “won’t”, “don’t” and “can’t.”
  • Use the progressive form of the present tense to reflect acceptance of being “in progress.” For example, say “I am becoming..” instead of “I am.” Your mind may have an easier time accepting the statement.
  • Repetition is key. Each time you repeat a suggestion, try to find a way to make it a stronger, more powerful and meaningful statement.

Visualization complements autosuggestion and harnesses the power of your mind’s eye to realise your goals.

Visualization is another mind tool that successful people use to programme their brains for success. It’s simply visualizing in your mind how something is going to happen or play out on a repeated basis. Visualization is commonly used in sports training, and has been proven to improve performance better than just practice alone. The technique can be used by anyone, however, and will generate the same results on performance and outcome. When we visualise an event or situation, or an object or possession, we attract it into our life.

Teach yourself this step-by-step visualization exercise.

Visualization should be done with a relaxed and positive attitude, as well as with an openness and willingness to accept whatever outcome may present itself.

  1. Sit comfortably in a quiet space – your office, home, or in the open air.
  2. Pick a goal or intention to focus on.
  3. Relax your entire body, and take several long deep breaths.
  4. Tune into your inner voice, and connect to the feeling that you truly believe this goal or intention.
  5. Begin to visualise the achievement of that goal, or realization of your intention.
  6. Create a clear and detailed mental picture, using all five senses.
  7. Allow yourself to feel how you believe you will feel when you have achieved your goal, and how much you desire to reach that goal.
  8. Finish with a positive affirmation about the outcome of your goal or intention.
  9. Repeat this process at least once per day, for about 10 minutes.

Powerful positive people have the strength to create powerful positive change in their lives and the lives of those around them.

You are a powerful, positive person! Successful people have no secrets – they’re just determined, focused people who have set goals and programmed their brain to think positive, and think big. Spend the next few days working on your autosuggestion and visualization skills. You might feel a little silly at first, but I promise that these are powerful psychological tools that will retrain your brain for success.

As before, if there’s anything here that you’d like to discuss in more detail, I’m here to answer questions and provide support when you need it, so feel free to use the feedback form below to get in touch:

Business Growth Masterclass

Welcome to the second in my blog series The Business Growth Masterclass

I’ve called this installment:

How to live and breathe the 5 part formula for Business Growth

Before we start, I just want to check that you’ve done the homework set in the last installment of the Business Masterclass.

  • You’ve created a strong, clear business vision that is realistic and achievable.
  • You’ve posted your vision in a place where you and your staff will be able to see it on a daily basis.

You’re going to achieve your vision (and your dreams!) by adopting the five-step process into all areas of your business.

It’s one thing to try a new marketing strategy, but it’s another to change your approach altogether. It’s just like dieting. Sure, if you cut 20% of your calories for two weeks you’re going to see some results. But, the minute you go back to your old patterns, the results quickly disappear.

Temporary changes generate temporary results. Sustainable results require changes in behaviour; the removal of old habits and creation of new ones.

All of the advanced marketing strategies that you’ll learn in the Business Growth Masterclass will contribute to one of the five steps. By the end, you’ll have worked through all areas of your business and optimised them for success (remember, a 10% increase in the 5 areas can lead you towards doubling your profits (not revenues!).

In this installment of the Business Growth Masterclass we will cover:

  • How the five-step process will impact all areas of your business
  • How to get used to working with the five-part formula
  • A review of the five steps
  • How to set yourself up for success with the program

The five-step process is a way of doing business. It’s not a temporary strategy, and it won’t generate temporary results.

The five-part formula is so effective because it touches on each and every area of your business. It will improve and increase and generate and sharpen and strengthen everything that you and your employees do.

Once you complete a step, you’ll never go back to your old way of doing things again. This is a programme for positive change and powerful results. The change is long lasting and the results are far reaching.

Choosing to begin the five-step process will have an impact on every area of your business:

Lead Generation Conversion Rates Number of Transactions Pound Sales Profit Margins
Any strategy you use to get people to call or walk through the door. Any strategy you use to get people to BUY from you. Any strategy you use to get existing customers to buy from you more often, or stay loyal to your business. Any strategy you use to get customers to spend more money in a single transaction. Any strategy you use to maximise the percentage of the cost of each product/service that is profit.
Advertising
Promotions
Press Releases
Listings
Website
Online marketing
Sales process
Sales staff
Sales scripts
Point of sale
Image Merchandising
Staff scheduling
Staff happiness
Staff training and development
Customer service
Customer loyalty program
Point of sale
Impulse items
Sales process
Sales scripts
Stock
Stock availabilityExclusivity of products/services
Product or service costs
Expenses
Rent / lease
Business supplies
Pricing strategy

Let’s get used to working with the basic formula that the five-step process is based on. You’ll want to post this formula somewhere visible, where you can see it on a regular basis.

# of Leads
X
% Conversion Rate
=
# of Customers
X
# of Transactions
X
Average Pound Sale
=
Revenue
X
% Margin
=
£ Profit

As you can see, each of the items in bold typeface is a factor that influences the bottom line – your profit. Each of these is a step in the five-step process. You will work on each line sequentially, and the impact on your profit will build over time.

A nominal 10% increase in each of the five factors would look like this:

Starting Point Goals (10% Increase)
Leads 4,500 Leads 4,950
Conversion Rate 30% Conversion Rate 33%
Customers 1350 Customers 1633.5
Transactions 1.3 Transactions 1.43
Average Pound Sale £140 Average Pound Sale £154
Revenue £245,700 Revenue £359,729.37
Margins 24% Margins 26.4%
Profit £58,968 Profit £94,968.55

Here are a few blank charts for you to use to see how a 10%, 20% and 50% increase in each of the factors will impact your profit.

Create the chart below on your pad of paper (use the same pad as last week ideally – the process of writing this down will give you a 400% better retention rate). Use the left side of the chart to fill in your existing numbers. If you don’t know, take a guess. The point here is to understand how little increases will have big impacts on your bottom line profits. We’ll show you how to start tracking your results at the beginning of each step in the program.

Starting Point Goals (10% Increase)
Leads (#) Leads
Conversion Rate (%) Conversion Rate
Customers (#) Customers
Transactions (#) Transactions
Average Pound Sale (£) Average Pound Sale
Revenue (£) Revenue
Margins (%) Margins
Profit (£) Profit
Starting Point Goals (20% Increase)
Leads (#) Leads
Conversion Rate (%) Conversion Rate
Customers (#) Customers
Transactions (#) Transactions
Average Pound Sale (£) Average Pound Sale
Revenue (£) Revenue
Margins (%) Margins
Profit (£) Profit
Starting Point Goals (50% Increase)
Leads (#) Leads
Conversion Rate (%) Conversion Rate
Customers (#) Customers
Transactions (#) Transactions
Average Pound Sale (£) Average Pound Sale
Revenue (£) Revenue
Margins (%) Margins
Profit (£) Profit

Step One / Lead Generation: How can you get more people to walk through your door, pick up the phone, and/or visit your website?

Your leads are your prospects or potential customers. They are people who have taken action in response to your ad or promotion, and have shown interest in your product or service, but have not become a customer because they haven’t purchased yet.

Lead generation is important because you can’t increase the number of customers you have. This is because customers are the by-product of two things:

No. of LEADS X % CONVERSION RATE = No. of Customers

This means that you have to generate more leads and get more of those leads to make purchases in order to increase your customer base. Note; this is a very important step because your ‘cost of client acquisition’ (price you pay to acquire a new client) is the most expensive function of your business. (Yours, mine, and every other business on the planet by the way…)

So lead generation is about finding ways to reach the people who need or want what you have to offer and getting them to act – to pick up the phone, visit your website or walk into your business. This is what the majority of marketing strategies are trying to do.

  • advertising
  • business listings
  • direct mail
  • promotions
  • press releases
  • flyers
  • referral partnerships
  • publicity
  • coupons

Step Two / Conversion Rate: How can you get the people who walk through your door, pick up the phone, and visit your website to BUY something?

Conversions are the second factor in the customer equation. A conversion rate is simply our leads divided by our number of transactions in a specific time period.

No. of  TRANSACTIONS / No. of LEADS = % Conversion Rate

This is a key focus of your business and your staff’s time. After all, why spend time and money attracting tons of qualified leads if you can’t make them buy when they’re in the store? We call this “confusing being busy… with being successful!” Don’t let it happen to you.

Several aspects of your organization impact your conversion rate:

  • Your business image and the first impression customers have of you/your business
  • The strength and effectiveness of your sales team
  • Your sales process and staff training and development programs
  • The strength of your sales scripts (Do you want fries with that?)
  • The level of purchase risk involved in your product or service

Step Three / Transactions: How can you get your customers to buy from you MORE than ONCE?

The process of attracting and converting a customer is one that costs you money. Customers cost you money. They’re an investment that you need to make the most of to stretch your lead generation investment.

You can reduce the cost of your customer by increasing the number of times that they purchase from you. This increases the total number of transactions in your business and the amount of money that flows in.

So instead of continuously chasing down leads and converting them to customers, increasing transactions is about keeping our existing customers loyal and coming back to spend money.

  • exceptional customer service
  • customer loyalty programs
  • incentives
  • newsletters
  • convenience services
  • bonus amenities
  • referrals

Step Four / Average Sale: How can you get your customers to buy MORE from you each time they buy?

Your total revenue is the product of how many customers you have, how many times they purchase from you, and how much they spend.

No. of CUSTOMERS X No. of  TRANSACTIONS X £ AVERAGE SALE = £ Revenue

Increasing the average amount of money customers spend with you is the final way you can increase the amount of money that comes into your business. It’s amazing how small increases in this value can have big impacts on your revenue. If I were to come into your business tomorrow and you IMMEDIATELY needed to increase profits – this is the first place I would look and the easiest area to make a large improvement in your profits.

You’ll have to show your customer that they needed or want more than what they purchased. The amount that you are able to increase will depend on the type of business you are in – it’s easier to sell gel pens than an additional dishwasher – but generally every business can find opportunities to increase this figure.

  • The strength of your sales team
  • Merchandising at your point of sale
  • Add-on items
  • Cross-selling
  • Usage of impulse items
  • The strength of your sales scripts
  • Upselling
  • Opportunities for packaging and widgets
  • Staff training, development and incentives

Step Five / Margins: How can you make more profit off each product and service you sell?

The last opportunity you have to influence your profit is your profit margin. Your total revenue times your margin as a percentage equals your total profit.

£ REVENUE X % PROFIT MARGIN = £ Profit

Essentially, your goal here is to make your profit margin as high as possible. As the final factor in the profit calculation, increasing your margin is a vital step towards maximizing your profits.

If your margins are too low, you’ll never make any money – regardless of how many customers you have, how often they buy from you, or how much they spend. Your revenue will perpetually go back into your business and be spent on costs.

There are three ways to maximise your margins:

  1. Increase prices
  2. Cut operating and product/service costs (operating costs include rent, leases, salaries, commissions, and office supplies)
  3. Increase gross profit margins (gross profit is revenues minus labor, materials and overhead related to the product/service)

Alarmingly, many business owners do not genuinely know their weekly/monthly/annual profit – you need to go into the business of generating a profit (this will be a paradigm shift for many – it is not about greed, it is about looking after those you care about. The more money you make, the more you can provide for your family, charity, your golf club etc…) and work towards increasing that profit each and every day, week, month and year.

Now that you have a good grasp on how the five-step formula works, and an idea of the marketing strategies you’ll learn to work with, take a few moments and set yourself up for success.

1. Schedule time in your week to focus on the 5 step process.

Identify two timeslots in your weekly schedule that you can set aside for this task – it’s important! This will keep you from putting it off for later, and delaying the positive changes to your revenue stream.

2. Post reminders of your vision, goals and targets in visible places.

Keep yourself focused and on track by surrounding yourself with the positive changes you have already made, and will continue to make. Post your business vision, personal and business goals and targets in your office and staff rooms.

3. Include your staff in the process.

Your employees are a powerful resource in your business – they ultimately are the people that you will need to trust and empower to run the business without your own day-to-day involvement. They are the people that your customers come in contact with on a regular basis, and represent your business image, brand and message.

Let them in on what you’re doing, and educate them on the five-part formula. Show them how their actions, input and skills contribute to the operations and profitability of the business.

4. Start paying attention to your current numbers and tracking systems.

Now that you have an idea of what factors and figures you’ll be working to increase, start paying attention to what those numbers look like now. If you have tracking systems in place, run some reports and get an understanding of your current situation. Think about these questions:

  • where do your customers come from?
  • what marketing campaigns work the best?
  • what lead generation strategies work the best?
  • how many of your customers buy from you?
  • how often do they buy from you?
  • how much do they buy from you?
  • what do your existing profit margins look like?
  • what percentage of your items are high margin, and which are low?

Now that you have an idea of where your business is going, let’s start mapping out how you’re going to get there.

In my next Business Growth Masterclass we will look at setting SMART goals and retraining the way you think about yourself and your ability to achieve what you deserve. There’s lots of important work to do!

As your mentor, I’m here to answer questions and provide support when you need it, so feel free to use the feedback form below to get in touch

Congrats for tuning in,