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8 Shocking Mistakes Killing Your Bank Account

Starting, running and growing a business is not easy. If it were, everyone would do it! And though it can be challenging, it can also be extremely rewarding. Entrepreneurs and small business owners may start out with a dream of owning a successful business and then find themselves struggling to pay the bills.

Here are 8 shocking mistakes that could be killing your bank account…

8. No business plan or poor planning

You may have a good idea, or a dream. Maybe an invention! And you may know all the reasons you think it will be great for the world! But it’s important to also have a plan of how to successfully bring it to market. What’s in it for your customer? How will they benefit, and how can you grow relationships and trust with people who might be willing to buy? Can you offer a quick and easy first purchase – an “entry point offer” to get your foot in the door for larger purchases later? If you’re a coach or consultant, have you clearly defined your services in terms of freebies, low, medium and high ticket items? And how do you plan to move people up the ladder? Many people jump into business without taking the time to make a plan or do the research first. Without a solid plan, it may take longer to get started than anticipated, which may leave your cash supplies depleted.

7. Not having a clearly defined Ideal Customer

It’s not just about what you’re selling, but who you are selling it to! It’s difficult to define the benefit you are offering your customer if you don’t know who your customer is! A common mistake that small business owners and entrepreneurs make is in not being specific enough about whom they serve. If you try to be everything to everyone, your message may get lost, and you may find yourself being nothing to no one. If your message is too broad, you may not be heard at all because people may not realize that you’re talking to them. So pick a niche! There are riches in niches!

6. Not enough leads and not filling your sales pipeline

Think of your business like a funnel. At the top of the funnel, you have lots and lots of people who may or may not know about your business. As they learn about your business and start to engage with you, they enter the funnel. As their relationship with you grows, they keep sliding deeper into the funnel, to your higher ticket offers. And at the very bottom of the funnel are your raving fans! Now imagine that at each stage, there are fewer and fewer people. You must start out with lots of people at the top of the funnel –  your leads – to end up with enough people at the bottom – your sales. If you’re not getting enough leads, and not nurturing those leads to grow their desire to purchase your higher ticket offers, you will struggle to make sales. You must cast your net wide, collect your leads, and then nurture them along each stage of your customer journey!

5. Trying to do it all

There are certain things in your business that only you can do. And certain things that you could probably offload to someone else. Often, especially in the startup phase, we try to do it all. Unfortunately, not a lot of us are just naturally good at everything. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to recognize the things that we may not be so good at, and delegate them to someone else. Delegating those tasks will allow you to focus on the things you are good at, allow another team member to focus on what they are good at and improve the quality of work done all around. It may even make for a happier and less stressful work environment!

4. Getting bogged down with busy work

Busy work is an unfortunate side-effect of almost any business. And there are ways to keep from getting bogged down in it! From online calendars and appointment scheduling to automated lead capture and nurture campaigns, marketing automation can help take the busy work out of your marketing and sales process! Automating or outsourcing busy work can help you free your time to grow the business.

3. Refusal to pivot or inability to adapt quickly enough

“We’ve always done it this way,” is not a good line for a business owner. Think of Kodak’s failure to pivot from 35mm film to digital photography…while competitors were popping up offering customers what they wanted – digital cameras, Kodak continued to focus on selling film. And they are no longer a major player in the photography market. This point is particularly important amid current market conditions, with the coronavirus pandemic causing rapid shifts in the way that people not only do business but live their lives. The needs and desires of your customers may have changed, and the way that they wish to do business with you may have changed. Ask them what they want! And then give it to them…

2. Lack of Data

Know your numbers! It’s important to have clear visibility into your monthly revenue and expenses, so you can assess your profitability and if there is a gap to close, you know exactly what is required to close it. If you are spending money on marketing, you should be tracking your monthly spend in each area or channel, and your conversion rates in each area or channel, so that you can measure your ROI or Return On Investment, and then optimize your strategy to spend more in the areas that are giving you the highest return.

1. Limited Mindset

As mindset coach Belanie Dishong says, “Nothing exists in the world that was not first imagined.” Ask yourself – do you see your wildly successful business? Do you have a clear picture of your desired end result? If you can’t see it and don’t have the vision, then how can you expect anyone else to? Become clear on what the business that you desire looks like, and then paint the vision for your audience, so that you can bring others along with you. BE the wildly successful business owner now, and your vision will be realized.

Download 3 Simple Tips to Put More Money In Your Bank Account,” or Schedule a Complimentary Consultation with ZMS today and we’ll share with you some actions you can take right away to put more money in your bank account.

3 Tips for Determining Product-Market Fit

How do you know if your market really wants what you’re selling? Well, if they’re already buying it, then they must want it right? How do you know you wouldn’t be selling more of it if it fit your market’s needs just a little bit better? Providing value is the name of the game. It’s critical for the market you’re trying to serve to understand the value proposition of what you’re selling instantly. The quicker your customer can understand the value, the more you have achieved product-market fit.

Here are 3 tips for determining product-market fit quickly:

  1. Understand your customer’s current needs and foresee future ones. If you don’t know your customer very well, it’s going to be hard to really understand what they need. So figure out where they hang out – tradeshows, networking events, figure out which publications they read and read them too, join their social community groups, and find a mentor who can show you the ropes. Developing a deep understanding of the problems your customers are facing allows you to relate to them better and builds trust and credibility.
  2. Focus on one significant value proposition. I see small businesses all the time who get carried away with communicating too many features and benefits, rather than focusing on one significant value proposition. What tends to happen is – their customers don’t hear them. Narrowing it down can be difficult, but it’s an absolute game changer. Look for emerging trends in the industry you’re serving, determine where competitors fail to solve problems, and focus on one major pain point to solve for your customers.
  3. Build credibility. The best way to do this is by telling a story – you be the guide, and let your customer be the hero! Make your customer the center of the story, recognize their problem, offer a solution, and explain how you are the most qualified to help them solve the problem (give specific examples of cases where you helped someone solve a similar problem successfully), and give them a simple process to follow to work with you.

Need some help determining product-market fit for your business? Contact Us or set up a Complimentary Consultation for more information!

How to Get Clear on the Value you Provide

I bet you’re clear on what you sell…a service, a product…but are you really clear on the value you provide? Understanding the value you bring to the marketplace is the essential ingredient in digital marketing success. In fact, people don’t actually buy products or services; instead, they buy outcomes.

Imagine a group of people who are discontented for some reason. They may not even be aware of their discontented state, but life could be better. These people are in what we call the “Before” state. No matter what you’re selling, you’re looking to reach a group of prospective customers who are in this unhappy “before” state. Think of your prospective customers, and write down some adjectives that describe them before they’ve experienced your product or service. Are they fearful? Out of shape? Tired? Bored?

Now take a giant leap into the future, to the point after the customer has experienced your product or service. What is their “After” state? Are they calm? Healthier? Energized? More excited?

The outcome, or shift from the Before to the After state is what your customer is buying. This shift is the value that your business brings to the marketplace. And the role of your marketing is to clearly articulate this move from the Before to the After state!

Want to learn more about communicating your value? Contact Us or set up a Complimentary Consultation for more information! (Image credit: Digital Marketer).

Strategies, Plans, and Schedules: What Do These Marketing Phrases Mean?

When it comes to marketing, there are three words you may hear more than anything else: strategies, plans, and schedules. Seeing as how these words appear so many times over the course of a marketer’s endeavors, they must be important. But, what exactly do they mean, and how do they impact your success as you try to grow your business?

Strategies

Your marketing strategy should help you achieve your revenue goals by implementing elements such as:

  • Online advertising
  • Lead capture and nurture
  • Social Media
  • Overarching marketing goals and

Plans

Knowing what you’re going to talk about — and who you’re going to talk to — can mean the difference between success and just-like-everybody-else. A solid content plan will help you understand your audience and address their needs appropriately.

If you’re struggling with writer’s block, consider these tips:

  • Record yourself as you talk about your business, then play it back and take notes of important details your content should cover.
  • Answer questions your customers ask you on a regular basis.
  • Tell the story behind a testimonial or outstanding review.

Schedules

Content calendars can make your world so much easier. A content calendar is the perfect way to ensure you’re supplying blog posts, social media contributions, and email campaigns to your audience at relevant times.

Marketing can be a full-time job for even the smallest of businesses. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything your marketing calendar encompasses, it’s time to seek the help of an expert! Book your free Strategy Session with our Zebra Marketing Solutions team today!

So You Got a Bad Review. Now What?

Online reviews and testimonials can be the bread and butter for businesses. Naturally, you want five stars and raving compliments that showcase your amazing products and services. Unfortunately, there may come a time when someone rates you on the other side of the scale, potentially leaving a scathing remark or unpleasant comment about their interaction with your organization.

In today’s world, reputation management is major, but many companies simply don’t realize they need to act on feedback (both positive and negative!) If you’ve received a bad review, here are some things you can do:

Change Your Frame of Mind

First things first — Not every negative review is necessarily a bad thing. As your business grows, you’ll interact with more and more people, and, as the old saying goes, you can’t please everyone.

Your company won’t be a great fit for every single customer, and that’s okay. It’s important to keep this in mind, rather than letting negative reviews eat you alive. You should also bear in mind that many people stay silent after a bad experience and simply don’t come back. Those customers who take the time to leave you negative reviews are giving you the gift of opportunity so you can see things from their perspective, respond compassionately and make appropriate adjustments.

Acknowledge Mistakes

If your business made a blunder, don’t let the bad review ride without commenting. Apologize for the mistake, and offer your contact information by way of a public reply. This will show other consumers that you’re serious about customer service and willing to go the extra mile to remedy a negative situation.

Don’t Get Defensive

If a review angers you, walk away for a while! It’s probably not going anywhere. Publicly respond to all comments – positive and negative — but don’t employ shaming or defense tactics. Instead, utilize empathy, understanding, and sensitivity to approach the situation.

A great reputation is an excellent start to successful inbound marketing. Zebra Marketing Solutions can help you build a foundation that keeps clients coming to your door. Check out our services, and give us a call when you’re ready to learn more!

For more information on social media and digital marketing, please contact us at www.zebramarketingsolutions.com/contact or book a Complimentary 30 minute Strategy Session by clicking here! You can also like us on Facebook and Twitter for more useful marketing tips!

3 Ways to Attract Your Dream Client

You’re a small business owner. You have a go-getter attitude and a ruthless work ethic. You are ready to get out there and conquer the universe. After all, the world is your oyster, and you’re ready to tell everyone how amazing your business is.

Now that we’ve established that, let’s back up a little.

You see, the world really is your oyster, but you’re not looking for seashells; you’re searching for pearls. There will be passersby and brief visits from folks who were sent to you from the great powers of the search engines, but these people aren’t your people. Your dream clients make up your target market. They’re the people who will love you, be loyal to you, send you referrals, and keep the cash coming in. Of course, you want to cast a wide net, but it’s important to place the right bait so your dream clients can find you.

1. Focus.

When it comes to marketing, if you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one. You need to be clear about the types of customers you want to attract so you can define your target market and understand who your dream client truly is.

2. Filter.

Don’t be afraid to alienate people. The truth is, you will only alienate the people who wouldn’t boost your bottom line anyway. When you filter out the people who aren’t in your target market, you’re free to speak to the people who are the right fit for you and your business.

3. Feel.

Buying is an emotional experience. No matter what you do, or which industry you work in, your customers want to say, “Yes! I’m in the right place!” as soon as they speak to you. Hone your marketing efforts towards the people you want to attract, and those people will get your good vibrations.

Feeling inspired? So are we! Schedule your free strategy session with our Zebra Marketing team today!

Three Ways to Boost Your Engagement on Social Media

Social Media can be a powerful marketing tool, but with the latest algorithms on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, only a fraction of your subscribers actually see your posts. The trick to staying on the forefront  of their minds and in their newsfeeds is to invite engagement across platforms. Once they like or comment on a post, they are more likely to see future posts, pictures, offers, and links. The question then becomes, how do you invite this type of engagement?

1. Ask a Question

People are far more likely to interact with a post if it poses an interesting question. These questions do not always have to directly relate to your product or service. They can invite discussion about a timely topic, a topic that is related to your product or service, or simply about their personal lives. Remember to avoid topics dealing with politics, religion, or other controversial topics.

2. Provide a Link

Give people a quick way to interact with your website, especially if you are selling a product. If you have special pricing for a holiday or other promotion, give your customers a way to link directly to the special. This makes it more likely that they will return to that post to click through rather than searching the website separately.

3. Engage With Your Customers

It is not enough to pose a question and then allow your customers to lead the discussion. Instead, respond to their questions, engage with them on a personal level, and get to know what is driving their decisions. People are more likely to return to a social media page if they feel they are a member of that community, that their responses are seen and acknowledged.

If you found this post helpful, please Like, Comment or Share! For help with Social Media or other digital marketing needs for your business, please Contact Us for a free consultation!

Will Discussing Politics on Social Media Kill Your Business?

America has witnessed one of the most contentious elections in history. Many of us feel very strongly about our political views, the candidate we supported or did not support, and we want to talk politics. Discussion is important, and some may argue that it’s a lack of discussion that has gotten us to the point of having such a contentious rivalry in the first place. Social media has played a huge part in the election. Candidates now post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to connect with their supporters. Citizens use social media channels to organize events, rallies, and to promote the candidate of their choice.

70% of internet users are now on Facebook, and many people will agree that it’s more and more difficult to keep our personal lives separate from our business lives. Many of us now have business colleagues as Facebook friends, giving them access to very personal, intimate parts of our lives. We want the benefit of being ourselves on social media, while not “upsetting” anyone, especially business colleagues or clients, by being ourselves.

So what is ok to post on social media, and what’s not ok? We’ve all seen inflammatory posts on social media recently. People mudslinging, calling each other names and unfriending each other over political opinions or comments. Facebook is a social network, and it was designed for personal use before it was ever used for business, and it is still a highly personal outlet – so people should expect to see political posts or posts about people’s personal feelings or opinions in various regards. If you feel the need to speak up about your views, you should be free to do so. It may even lead to healthy discussion, and learning about alternate views and the facts or arguments behind them. But – think before you speak. Ask yourself, “would I say this to someone in person?” Sitting behind a screen, it may be easy to get carried away…remember to keep your comments respectful! It’s one thing to state your opinion or to disagree, or to engage in healthy debate. It’s taking it to the extreme that can hurt your reputation.

It’s each of our personal choice whether to engage in discussions about politics or avoid it entirely on social media. We should keep in mind that we are all different, come from different backgrounds and upbringings, and we will never all agree on everything, including our political views. Part of what makes America great is that we are free to disagree! So try to keep an open mind when dealing with your friends and business contacts on social media!

If you found this post helpful, please Like, Comment or Share! And please Contact Us for more information about social media for your business.