Monday, August 13, 2018

3 Ways To Rethink Customer Relationships In The Age Of The Consumer

I think we can all agree that the world of buying and selling today looks drastically different than it did as little as 10 or 15 years ago. With the advent of the internet and the proliferation of content, consumers are more informed than ever. And the byproduct of this easily accessible information? A shift in the balance of power in the brand-consumer relationship.

Early in my book, “Top of Mind,” I talk about how this shift has necessitated the transition from “Me Marketing” to “You Marketing.” Instead of only considering their brand, their product, and their pitch, businesses are building trust with audiences by taking a more customer-centric approach — essentially shifting their messages from being all about them to being all about the audience.

These days, pushing a message out will only get you so far. Instead, companies must focus on all the ways they can help customers, drawing prospects in when they’re ready to convert and retaining them once they do.

It sounds intuitive because it reflects the way most of us prefer to interact with brands. But actually implementing a plan to act on it is another story. Below are three tips to help you rethink your relationships with your audience members and succeed in the age of the consumer.

1. Prioritize the post-sale experience.

A lot of companies have an obsession with landing sales. This mindset is understandable, given that even the best product or service will completely flop without customers. The problem arises when companies become obsessed with always trying to get more new customers and fail to invest in the experiences of the customers they already have.

Growth and success are about more than landing new clients; they’re also about retaining current ones. According to McKinsey, “even small differences in net-revenue churn have very real implications for a company’s top line.” In fact, a 5 percent increase in customer retention rates can increase profits by 25 to 95 percent.

Taking care of the customers you already have is a win-win. By improving retention rates, you’re simultaneously driving new business.

2. Focus on customer success over customer service.

It’s mind-blowing how many companies resort to a reactive customer service approach. This traditional method of customer support naturally highlights problem areas because customers don’t interact with your brand until they’re having an issue.

No business is perfect, but if you spend all your time putting out fires, you'll have a hard time demonstrating how easy it is for your customers to work with you to reach their goals. A proactive approach focused on truly helping your customers succeed and adding value to your relationships with them can turn an entire business around.

When interactions with customers focus on helping them achieve as much as possible — as opposed to quickly fixing a problem to quell a complaint — they’re bound to be much more positive. In the long term, this can strengthen your relationships and highlight opportunities for revenue growth.

3. Use the right tools and resources.

Hopefully, you’re starting to understand the value of a customer success methodology over one centered around customer service, but if you think you’re going to clap your hands and simply proclaim the change in your organization, you’re mistaken. To really make the shift, you’re going to need the right tools.

One place to start is by taking advantage of customer success platforms such as Gainsight that leverage predictive analytics to monitor customer health. Managing relationships effectively is incredibly valuable, and using the right tools can help you maximize customer lifetime value.

Your company content is another essential tool, so consider updating your content marketing strategy to align with a customer success mentality. This means retiring those traditional Me Marketing tactics that put you ahead of your customers and focusing on providing authentic, educational resources to your audience. This kind of content not only helps you continue to attract new customers, but it also helps your current customers get the most value out of working with you — effectively killing two birds with one stone.

In business and in life, we tend to follow tried-and-true approaches, but sometimes this limits our growth potential by enforcing certain boundaries. The most common interpretation of customer service has been around for years, but it’s time for a change. By making a commitment to put customers first and ensure that they know how to take full advantage of what you have to offer, you’re making an investment that will ultimately benefit your business.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Friday, August 10, 2018

The Dos And Don'ts Of Growing Your Small Business

Learn the best ways to grow your business.

Growing your business is an exciting task. It means customers are receiving your business well and you’re bringing in a profit.

But, growing your business can be intimidating. Many things have the potential to go wrong. That’s why you need a plan. When you know what to do and what to avoid, you can avoid stumbling.

Use the following seven dos and don’ts to successfully grow your business.

1. Do Your Research

Before you even start growing your business, you need to do some research. You need to know what your business is capable of doing with its money and other resources available.

Assess your business. Look at all the analytics, stats, and accounting records that are available to you. Analyze how your business has done in the past. And when possible, make projections of how you think your business will do in the future, such as sales projections.

You might also consider talking to business advisors, accountants, and lawyers. These experts can help you make good decisions about your business’s future. It’ll cost money to get their input, but this added research can point you in the right direction.

2. Do Set Goals

As you are growing your business, you need to have goals that you try to hit. Without goals, you can’t possibly know if your business is improving. When you have goals, you have something to strive for. You know if you are headed in the right direction or not.

When you set goals, create SMART goals. These are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. These standards will make sure the goals are realistic and possible.

3. Don’t Do Everything

When you’re growing your business, you might become protective. You might want to do everything yourself to protect your business from outsiders and big changes. But, this protection could hurt your business.

If you try to do everything yourself, you can become burnt out. And without outside input, you might not have the necessary creativity to grow your business.

You have people you can rely on to help you get things done. Your employees can do many of the tasks in your business. You can hire independent contractors to help. You might also seek help from business experts and local business owners who already have experience with what you’re trying to do.

4. Don’t Rely On Informal Agreements

Always put your business agreements in writing. You can’t rely on informal, verbal agreements. Having written agreements ensures that everyone keeps their promises and gets what they want. 

You should create written agreements when working with business partners, lenders, and other businesses.

5. Do Get Feedback From Customers

Your customers are a perfect group to get feedback from to learn how you should grow your business. By getting to know your customers, you learn what they want. Their feedback can give you an exact direction to take your business. You can discover what to grow and what products and services your customers really want.

Ask your customers for feedback. You can ask them to submit reviews and answer surveys. If possible, you might also interview some candidates so you can delve deeper into their wants and pain points.

6. Do Look For New Customers

It’s important to keep your current customers happy as you grow. But, it’s also important to search for new customers. Without new customers to buy your new products and services, your business profits won’t grow.

A market analysis can help you identify new customers. You can discover where they live, work, and hang out to better market to them. You might also learn what social media and other sites they use so you can target them online.

Find people who are similar to your current customers. You might also add new products or services that fit with your business but will also attract new customers.

7. Don’t Rush The Hiring Process

As your business grows, you will likely need to hire more employees. But, you should not rush the hiring process simply to fill positions. If you rush the hiring process, you might hire the wrong people.

Before you start the hiring process, make sure you know what position you want to fill. Create a job description and list the required skills and qualifications. You might think the job description is to attract candidates, but it also helps you narrow down what you are looking for.

When you do post the job and start interviewing, don’t be quick to hire the first person you interview. A bad hiring decision can set you back. Don’t invest your time into someone who isn’t right for the job or will quickly leave. Waiting for a good candidate is worth it.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

The 16 Most Important Email Marketing Tips For Small Businesses

As a small business owner in a digital age, you understand the importance of generating new leads and keeping your prospects engaged at every opportunity online.

One of the best ways to do this in terms of measurable results and ROI is by running targeted email marketing campaign.

Today, with the abundance of email marketing services that are out there, sending regular communications to finely-tuned audiences doesn’t need to break the bank or give you a headache in setup and execution. Even if email marketing isn’t always a walk in the park, and does require an approach all of its own.

Get ahead of your competition and ensure your emails hit the right note with their recipients by following these 16 tips.

Before You Begin

1. Have a clear goal in mind (plan your customers’ journeys)

First and foremost, before you even consider an email marketing campaign in structure, you need to have a clear goal in mind. At the end of the day, your emails are being sent with one overriding objective (no matter how far off), to nurture leads into sales.

In effect, anyone who subscribes to your email database is embarking on a sales journey which, hopefully, will result in them hitting the ‘buy’ button with you.

To ensure your emails are right on the money and optimized accordingly, it is important to map this journey out and then create email marketing messaging around it.

2. Make subscribing (and unsubscribing) easy

It may sound obvious, but you’re going to get far more subscribers if you make the subscribing process as easy as possible. Some businesses don’t even feature a subscribe box on their websites, instead choosing to sign people up offline/in-store.

By not having an obvious subscription box on your website, you are missing out on countless opportunities.

Your subscription box should also be as simple as possible. That’s because people are more likely to sign up if all they have to do is enter their first name and email address.

Likewise, you should include a simple unsubscribe option in every email you send. Nothing annoys consumers more than not being able to remove themselves from a company’s email list.

Tip: For more on this be sure to read the very last section in this piece about GDPR. It’s extremely important.

3. Let people know what to expect

Whether you intend to send company updates, special offers or simply promote your blog posts, you must tell people what to expect before they sign up. Those last four words are in bold because this is actually a GDPR requirement.

But aside from it being the law, it’s also just courteous. By providing as much information as possible you are giving your visitors an informed choice. This alone will reduce the chances of them unsubscribing in the future.

4. Offer an incentive

Ask yourself, why should someone give me their email address? What’s in it for them?

The bottom line is there’s nothing wrong with offering an incentive for people to subscribe to your newsletter and doing so will boost the chances of them signing up.

The best part is that an incentive doesn’t need to cost too much either. A free eBook, discount voucher or raffle entry are all perfectly acceptable incentives and could be the difference between securing a sign up or not.

5. Segment your lists and market them accordingly

Once your email lists start to grow, you’ll want to start segmenting them so you can effectively market to each one separately.

Now you may be wondering why this is so important, especially as it’s going to involve more work in the long run. The answer is simple: purely because all of your subscribers are different. For example, you wouldn’t send the same marketing email to a 70-year-old woman that you would to an 18-year-old man. Well you might, but it wouldn’t be particularly effective for at least one of the recipients.

Look to segment your lists by age, gender, location, previous purchases, whatever. Doing so will enable you to effectively target your audience and drive more ROI as a result.

Now For The Actual Emails

6. Design your emails around your brand

Chances are you’ve already got an established brand voice and associated visual imagery. The last thing you want to do is ignore these in your email marketing.

Create templates that include your logo, colors, and are consistent with the rest of your image/brand. This not only leaves nothing to the imagination in terms of where the email came from, but also instils confidence from the start.

7. Test, test, and test again

Unfortunately, with an email, once you’ve hit send it’s almost immediately delivered to the recipient’s inbox. And while there are delay features to reduce the chances of you sending something that’s not quite right, they are not infallible.

That’s why you need to test your campaigns before you even contemplate sending them.

What looks okay on your computer might look terrible on someone else’s – different screen sizes, different browsers, and even different user preferences can all make your meticulously designed newsletter look awful.

It’s also a good idea to test your newsletter on Internet connections of varying speeds. That big image which loads fast on your corporate Internet pipe might die a death on a lesser connection. Eliminate all these risks through rigorous testing.

8. Mobile-friendly is a must

Your testing should also include checking how your newsletter/email campaign displays on a mobile device (tablet, smartphone, etc.). If it doesn’t, don’t bother sending at all.

According to Adestra, mobile accounts for 61% of email opens (15% desktop and 24% webmail client) [source: emailmonday]. Furthermore, 3 in 5 consumers check their email on the go on their mobile devices and three-quarters (75%) say they use their smartphones most often to check email.

If those stats alone don’t highlight the need to test mobile compatibility I don’t know what will.

In short, if your email campaign isn’t optimized for mobile and/or doesn’t display correctly on a much smaller screen, you’re doomed before you even start.

9. Make your emails easy to read/scan

Sticking with the theme of user experience, your email should be easy to digest. That means no walls of large text and definitely plenty of subheadings and images. Moreover, people reading it on the go will likely scan its content, so facilitate that with your content structure.

Your subscribers are busy people, so don’t consume too much of their time with an email that’s off-putting as soon as they open it. A short teaser/summary of what follows is a nice element to add at the top.

Remember, your subscribers inevitably get lots of emails every day, so assume you haven’t got their undivided attention and that you need to earn it to keep it every time you email them.

10. Have an irresistible subject line

Again, following on from the previous tip, this one is crucial for boosting the chances of your email piquing the recipient’s interest and triggering them to open it.

An irresistible subject line isn’t something that always comes easily. Some marketers spend huge amounts of time coming up with ideas and A/B test them to determine effectiveness. The trick is to be unique and (somehow) make the recipient feel as though they’d be missing out if they didn’t open your email – easier said than done, right?

11. Include links to your social profiles

By including links to your social media profiles in your emails, you encourage engagement and build consumer-brand trust. In a world of social media omnipresence that just makes sense when you think about it.

Your subscribers have proactively signed up to receive emails from you. In other words they are (in theory) interested in what you have to say, so it stands to reason that what’s happening on your social media accounts would interest them too.

It may be the case that your email subscribers didn’t even know you were on social media, so kill two birds with one stone by always including them (clearly) in every email you send.

12. Be personal

When it comes to the tone and style of your emails, always keep it friendly. Email is a very personal communication method and since they usually go from one person to another, recipients expect human voices.

Also, it’s highly likely that they’ve already given you their first name so use it when you address them. It’s amazing how much more engaging an email is when it speaks to an individual directly.

Keep your correspondence informal and really build a strong, prosperous relationship with your subscribers.

13. Check it yourself, have it proofread by others

Have you ever received a marketing email or a newsletter from a large company and noticed a glaring spelling mistake? It doesn’t happen very often because these companies check their email outreach with a fine-toothed comb. But when it does it reeks of unprofessionalism.

As mentioned, emails go directly into a person’s inbox, so spotting a mistake after you’ve hit send is simply too late. And while the odd spelling mistake isn’t exactly the end of the world, it does speak volumes about you as a company in terms of how meticulous and conscientious you are.

Remember, grammar and style are just as important in your emails as they are your blog content and marketing literature.

14. Send a welcome email

I’m a big fan of welcome emails. They serve two main purposes: (a) they act as a nice introduction and allow you to thank people for subscribing (b) they provide the subscriber with an early opportunity to unsubscribe. Now while that second purpose may sound decidedly counter-intuitive, there’s no point in having people on your list who simply aren’t interested in what you’ve got to say. It’s one of the downfalls of offering free incentives.

On the other hand, your welcome email can also be used to send the subscriber a special offer or point them to some more exclusive content as a way of saying ‘thank you’.

15. Be consistent (utilize an editorial calendar)

If you’ve told people you are going to send them a newsletter or email on a monthly basis, follow through with your promise and do just that. A publishing calendar is excellent at helping you combine email outreach with a coordinated content calendar, you’ll know ahead of time exactly what you’re sending and when.

The problem with going several months without sending anything at all is that you run the risk of your subscribers forgetting about you. Then when you do send something there’s a strong chance they’ll simply ignore it or, even worse, mark it as spam.

16. Analyze and optimize

Finally, in the same way you would for any new business initiative, you need to evaluate the performance of your newsletters/email campaigns are and optimize them accordingly as they need it.

Four important things to monitor:

  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Unsubscribe rates
  • User action rates

Try to identify any patterns that affect (both positively and negatively) your open and click-through rates. If you get a high number of unsubscribes following a particular email, consider changing your approach in your next one. Most of all, every email should have a definitive purpose – to attract website traffic, drive a sales, build social engagement – so make sure user action is getting monitored and improved to deliver true email marketing ROI.

A final (quick) word about GDPR

The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on May 25, 2018. And even if you are a US-based organization, it is still likely to have implications for you. That’s because as well as encompassing all businesses operating within the EU, GDPR also applies to businesses that offer goods or services to customers or other businesses in the EU. In other words, if you have just one person on your email list who is based in the EU (or you might in the future), GDPR applies to you.

When it comes to email marketing and GDPR, you need to be aware of the following as a minimum:

Never trick someone into giving up their email address
Always highlight how their email address will be used e.g. for newsletters, marketing purposes, special offers, etc.
Make sure there’s a clear, affirmative action. For example, a box they have to tick (not one that’s pre-ticked) to explicitly say they want to hear from you
Provide an easy way to unsubscribe at any time.
The penalties for breaching GDPR guidelines are severe, which is why you need to be on top of them at all times.

Wrapping Up

While some people will (wrongly) tell you that email marketing has had its day, the reality is that it’s still one of the best ways to keep customers informed and prospects engaged.

And yet it’s an increasingly tough nut to crack because people don’t just give their email addresses to anyone, which is why you should make the most of every single one you obtain.

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Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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How 3 Simple Strategies Attract More Clients Into Your Business

It has never been easier to launch a business, but how do you attract endless clients and customers? In the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival, Airbnb founder Brian Chesky said, “we are in a world where people can become businesses in 60 seconds.” Shifting trends, such as globalization, give us access to the top quality talent around the globe. The Information Age allows us to access answers to almost any question imaginable with a few clicks of a keyboard. Technology offers access and automation, often for free. According to futurist Peter Diamandis, “As individuals, we are now able to do what only large corporations and governments could do 20 years ago.” In fact, 33% of US workers have made money in what analysts call the YouEconomy. Serial entrepreneur Mel Robbins, author of The Five-Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence With Everyday Courage, is adamant that we step into the YouEconomy sooner rather than later. We can make extra money on the side, or replace a 9 to 5 income with our own businesses. The opportunity is great if we know how to take advantage of it.

According to SUCCESS Magazine, here are seven key ways to get involved in the YouEconomy, step into greater ownership of our lives and create a blueprint for a brighter financial future:

Sharing: Feel like earning extra money in a side hustle? Download an app and get started. Lyft and Airbnb offer you the opportunity to set your hours of availability and your earning potential.

Education: Everyone is an expert in something. Create a digital course that sells your expertise or offer workshops for companies and organizations yourself. This one-to-many business model could offer a low-overhead, high-profit-margin option and this allows others to benefit from your knowledge.

Platform: Build a platform that allows others to set up YouEconomy businesses under your umbrella. CrateJoy and CreativeLive are examples of tech-based platforms with high scalability potential.

Gig: Have marketable skills to share? Companies such as The Upside, Upwork, and Power To Fly offer professionals competitive rates for flexible work options, often from home. Whereas Handy, and Thumbtack allow you to access clients and customers who need your services and perhaps bid for the project.

Direct Selling: Want a low barrier to entry with a proven model? According to Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad and 21st Century Business, network marketing is a promising option for individuals now and in the future. You can promote science-backed, high-quality products as an extra income or make millions with this scalable business venture.

Online Marketing: Already have a platform, such as a thriving Instagram account or popular blog? Leverage your hard-earned community to start an online marketing business selling other products and services as an affiliate. Amazon is a great example of this business model, which is available for individuals, also.

Entrepreneurship: Ready to take the leap? You can purchase a franchise or create a custom business selling products and services online or in a brick and mortar store. The only limit is your imagination and skill set.

According to the Kauffman startup index, 550,000 companies are launching every single month. Although launching a YouEconomy business takes seconds, there is often a gap between start and success. For example, with millions of competitors vying for clients and customers, how do you differentiate yourself in a sea of similar options?

If you feel like you are struggling to find a way to stand out, position yourself as the go-to candidate, or become a household name, the secret lies in the art of visibility.

In future articles, I will expand on each of the categories below. For now, here are 3 fundamental strategies to set yourself apart, attract more clients and customers, and position yourself for success:

  1. Lead with empathy: As a member of the YouEconomy, you are a solution-creator. Successful businesses solve real problems that real people have. Data-driven big companies may satisfy stakeholders and investors, but YouEconomy entrepreneurs need to remember their customer’s emotion. Listen and get to know your customer like a close friend. Take notes on the struggles that they express. Those struggles ensure your business success if you solve them appropriately. Build a communication strategy to reach and resonate with your audience from a place of empathy.
  2. Secure testimonials: Your business grows when your prospects know you have something they need and they trust you enough to work with you. According to Jeff Bezos, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room.” Secure testimonials from clients, customers, and leaders in your industry to make yourself as an industry expert. (Even better if they are in video format.) Testimonies should demonstrate results, affiliation, and credibility, which will convert to business growth.
  3. Generate visibility: No one can buy from you if they do not know you exist. The primary goal of media and publicity is amplification and social proof. Visibility allows you to stand out in a crowded marketplace; whether through paid or earned media, it is a critical component to business success. Getting featured in the media should be a consistent part of your growth strategy. By raising visibility, you can connect with a broader audience, capture their attention, and convert them into clients and customers.

I am an award-winning visibility strategist who helps people package and share their message for maximum impact. Get my 5 Proven Pitch Templates here.

Image Credit: Unsplash

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

10 Tips for Writing Emails That Will Get You Tangible Results

If you follow this 10-step process, you'll avoid the email mistakes that other marketers are making.

Before you write an email message, you should understand some copywriting basics. Following are 10 steps that you should keep in mind as you write your email messages:

Step 1: Exploit your product’s (or service’s) benefits

If you’re writing an email message with a call to action that motivates people to take an action, then you need to exploit the benefits of the item you’re offering. Whether that item is one of the products or services you sell or it’s a free ebook, if you want people to act, you need to clearly explain the benefits they’ll get when they complete the action. Don’t just talk about the features of what you’re offering -- clearly explain what people will get when they act. What problems will be solved or pain points addressed after that action is taken? How will acting make their lives better, easier or happier? Determine the benefits of your offer and promote them in your message.

Step 2: Exploit your competition’s weaknesses

Depending on your desired call to action, it could make sense to include copy in your message that shows why taking an alternate action is a bad idea and won’t deliver the same benefits as taking your desired action. Can recipients save more money if they take your action instead of a competitor’s? If you can show that your offer benefits people more than other offers, then include copy in your message that draws attention to those differences. Never assume people know what your key benefits are or how your offer is better than competitors’. Tell them in your copy!

Step 3: Know your audience

Writing any email marketing message begins by understanding the audience who’ll receive it. You need to know your target audience and what’s most important to them. This includes not only the benefits and features of your offer that are most important to them but also the language they’ll best relate to. Unless yours is a highly technical or regulated industry where very specific language is expected, your email marketing messages should be personable and conversational. Write in a language using style and words the target audience best responds to. Your message should sound like a conversation.

Step 4: Communicate WIIFM (what’s in it for me?)

No one cares about your business, products or services. That sounds harsh, but it’s true. All people care about is how your product, service, or offer can help them, make their lives better or make them happier. Don’t fill your messages with information about how great your company is and how wonderful your product or service is. Instead, write copy that clearly and repeatedly answers the question, “What’s in it for me?” Expand on the benefits of your offer so recipients understand how it will affect their lives in positive ways.  

Step 5: Focus on “you” not “we”

Messages that focus on your business, products or services will be less effective than messages that focus on the audience. So think about how you can word the features, benefits, and differentiators of your product, service, or offer so they talk to consumers and not about your business. An essential part of focusing on “you” rather than “we” in copywriting is to write messages in the second person. For example, rather than writing a message that says, “Download our free ebook to learn our five Facebook advertising tips,” a marketing company could use copy that says, “Download your free ebook and learn five tips to boost your Facebook ad conversions.”

Step 6: Know your medium

To write effective email marketing messages, you need to understand the nuances of email communications that affect your copy. For example, email marketing messages should be structured with a main heading and subheadings as well as bulleted lists, so it’s easy for recipients to quickly scan your messages and evaluate their relevancy. Email copy should be written in short paragraphs so there are no long blocks of text. It’s also important to ensure your copy layout is easily readable on all devices. Furthermore, white space is important to allow readers’ eyes to rest.

Step 7: Avoid TMI (too much information)

What information is important to your audience? All copy should speak to the audience’s wants and needs. Clutter is an email message killer, so include only essential information and keep your copy is as tight as possible. Your overall email marketing results will improve when your messages are focused and devoid of extraneous information.

Step 8: Include a call to action

Your call to action is arguably the second most important part of your email marketing message after the subject line. Therefore, you need to make it extremely obvious what people should do after they read your message. Write a call to action that creates a sense of urgency and taps into your audience’s emotions.

Step 9: CYA (cover your ass)

Before you send an email message, analyze it to determine if any of the copy could get you into trouble legally or ethically. Be sure to include any disclaimers or proof to back up your claims so your messages and offers are as clear as possible. This could be as simple as including an expiration date and time (including time zone) for a coupon or a disclaimer clarifying that a free trial lasts only a certain number of days. The key is to leave no room for confusion, so when in doubt, consult with an attorney.

Step 10: Proofread

If you write your copy, design and proofread your own messages, you’re practically guaranteed to miss simple typographical and grammatical errors because you’re too close to the content to see all the mistakes. Use the spellcheck and grammar-checking tools in your word-processing software or even third-party grammar and spelling tools, but don’t rely on them entirely. Even tools miss errors or provide recommended edits that aren’t always the best choices for your copy, so ask another person to proofread your messages for you.

Image Credit: JGI | Jamie Grill | Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Stop Hiding From Behind The Screen And Start Building Meaningful Relationships

If you’re a New Yorker, the idea of a home with a private backyard right in the middle of Manhattan’s Lower East Side is a novelty. On a warm Thursday night, right as the sun was setting, about 45 people were gathered together, facing a brick wall with a microphone stand in the center. For the next 90 minutes, comedians that have performed in renown venues like The Comedy Cellar, and TV shows like Conan, were taking the stage.

After the performers finished, a third of the group shuffled upstairs through the apartment onto Essex street to catch a nightcap with a few new friends they met at the show. The rest stayed back and mingled, remembering their favorite jokes from the evening while exchanging Facebook information to stay in touch.

Two of the comedians that hadn’t met before were making plans to get together for coffee to brainstorms ways they could collaborate. Maybe a new sketch comedy duo was being born.

That same night, a team of first-time student entrepreneurs at NYU was pulling an all-nighter, testing out various cold outreach strategies online for their new beverage business to try to secure their first distributor. This was their second attempt, after spending the first half of the week sending more than 200 emails to business owners in New York City and scheduling only one meeting, which had already been pushed back.

At about 1:00 AM the web developer of the group made a bold suggestion. “Why don’t you guys call it a night, and try to go door to door in East Village tomorrow. Who knows if these distributors are even checking their emails - they’re too busy running their business.”

The CEO scoffed and replied, “business is done online these days man - if I try going door to door, who knows if the owner will even be there, and even if she is, there’s no way she’ll agree to talk to someone that came in off of the street.”

Today, many people choose to build connections online over in person. This applies to everything from dating to business relationships - Tinder to LinkedIn. The reason is simple - it’s much safer to hide behind a monitor or a screen. Rejection doesn’t hit quite as hard, and it always feels like the next great relationship is right around the corner.

Reality is far more bleak.

Making truly meaningful connections online is fraught with challenges. Everyone’s attention is highly fragmented, and the potential for distraction is everywhere.

The internet is very effective at connecting people across borders and the globe, and it’d be silly to dismiss its value in creating opportunities while exposing more people and communities to each other, but when it comes to cultivating relationships with a solid foundation, nothing can ever replace face to face interactions.

Cigna, a global health services organization, published a study saying that 46% of adults in America today feel lonely. In some groups, like millennials, that number is said to be as high as 80%.

In a recent podcast interview with Tyler Cowen, author and New York Times columnist David Brooks attributed this issue to a changing culture.

We went through a culture in the ’50s where we were the opposite of lonely. We were in a culture where people had to solve big problems because they had a very group-oriented culture, what you might call the “We’re all in this together.” Big unions. Very tight neighborhoods [...].

And then people decided around about 1962 that wasn’t working. And so they created a culture that was very individualistic. [...] people began to value autonomy. The 1960s were a period of chopping up the old culture.

The advent of the internet, and the ubiquitous usage that followed only helped perpetuate this significant shift in culture. Fortunately, Brooks predicts that these shifts are fairly cyclical, adding that “culture is our collective response to solve a problem.”

If loneliness is in fact a growing problem, eventually our culture will shift again to solve it.

Some are already taking steps to feel more in touch with the real world by finding long stretches of time to completely disconnect.

This sudden disappearance of distractions forces people to pay attention to the moment - and others take notice.

It could be an extended conversation with the barista you see every day that ends in a free drink from a new friend. Or a second date with a woman you just went out with who noticed that you didn’t check your phone the entire night.

For entrepreneurs, in-person relationship building is even more important to consider. Business partnerships are primarily built on trust, and trust is much easier to gain face to face. A new prospective customer might easily ignore yet another cold email, but a person that takes the effort to walk into a place of business, respectfully asking for the owner’s time, is far more likely to stand out.

Opportunities to meet people in person are all around us, but because it’s so easy to stay online, or to stay at home, one has to make a conscious decision to seek new ways to expose themselves to new communities. Start by realizing that there’s really no risk to putting yourself out there. Who knows - maybe you’ll end up creating the next viral sketch comedy video with the next person you meet.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Entrepreneurial Networking: 10 Approaches You Can Use

We’ve all been to a number of networking events in our given industry, but how well do you make use of your time while there? Building up awareness takes a diligent effort and a good approach: It is, after all, up to you to communicate your brand to the other professionals who attend. If you find you are reluctant to talk about yourself and your organization with the people who can help your business grow — or are simply not sure what approaches work best when meeting people cold — then you are losing out on a key opportunity to help your company grow.

Networking is an essential part of business. You never know who you are going to meet or how you could help each other in the future. So what are the best ways to network at an event — and beyond? Below, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council share their best networking tips for fellow entrepreneurs looking to build awareness or win over potential partners, investors and customers. Here’s what they recommend:

Members discuss some ways you can improve your networking skills.

1. Be Authentic

Be authentic in everything that you do and serve a higher purpose. When pitching customers or investors on a product or service, there has to be: one, inherent value for them, and two, a desire to deliver something that goes beyond the pure pursuit of profit. Integrity and authenticity always shine through. - Alexander Bird, Kiss My Keto

2. Be Bold, Competent And Focused

Be bold. Don’t be afraid of being original. Be competent and ready to answer any questions better than anyone else, with the constant humility of listening to others. Be focused, yet ready to work together when the time arises. Be sure to bring value and quality over quantity. Own it! - Simonetta Lein, Ausonia Partners LLC

3. Be Present And Intentional

Be present in all that you do. If you show up to a meeting with two people or even 10 people, be present and active in the meeting. Acting and showing up with intention will be the best way to be not only memorable, but also demonstrate that you are someone who is great to work with. - Arry Yu, StormX, Inc.

4. Focus On Client Satisfaction

Our company grew in its first year, with zero spend on marketing, to almost $1 million in annualized revenue. We were 100% committed to client satisfaction and prioritized it over fancy marketing campaigns. This led to free word-of-mouth and the growth of our client base. The other tip is to always "show" rather than “tell.” We always offered a free pilot first and convinced our clients through quality. - Sascha Eder, NewtonX, Inc.

5. Do What You Love

Be yourself and do what you love. Money finds you. People will be drawn to your energy and passion. And an 80-hour work week will feel like fun. - Shiv Madan, Block Party Tickets, Inc

6. Network For Industry Insight

Networking is not something you do because you think it will help you land a client or reach the corner office; it’s rather one of the easiest ways to further your personal awareness of competitors, your industry and future opportunity. Think of it as an intimate way to get to know everything you can about the people who very likely will play a key role in your future success or failure. - Ryan Bongard, Twelve21 L.L.C.

7. Develop Conciseness

Make sure you are able to articulate what you do and who you serve in two sentences or less. The more concise, the better. - Ally Lozano, Ally Lozano LLC

8. Build A Community Around Your Brand

Creating a scholarship supporting students who shared the values and interests of our partners and customers was a great way to build a community around our brand and to start a conversation in which all of our interests were aligned. - Charlie Maynard, Going Merry

9. Find An Underserved Niche

Have a product that is unique that solves a problem your peers can’t solve. Find a niche in your market that very few people, if any, serve. - Brittany Watkins, Brittany Watkins

10. Be Yourself

Honesty is key. Be yourself. Social media is perception and has too many people pretending to be something they are not. Once someone smells bullshit, you've lost them forever. Honesty can help you build trust and it will last a lifetime and expand opportunity. - Frank Mengert, ebenefit Marketplace, LLC

Image Credit: Photos courtesy of individual members.

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Best Tips for Increasing Your Networking Effectiveness

Becoming unemployed is often a sudden, unexpected event, and most people do not have the networking skills needed to immediately switch gears and begin efficiently developing job leads. There could be many reasons: feeling uncomfortable with the networking process, not knowing the process, being shy by nature or never having needed to network in the past. Unfortunately, people in transition need to resort to networking, because it has been found that 60 to 80 percent of people are getting their next jobs via networking.

The purpose of job search networking is to cultivate relationships to lean on for getting advice, information, leads and, ideally, referrals. The objective is to expand your sphere of personal connections. Certainly, whom you know is important, but in this instance, equally or possibly even more important is who knows you. After all, you’re the one looking for a next job.

Networking is a learned skill. And it’s not necessary to be Mr. or Ms. Personality in order to be successful at it. Networking also involves consulting people who can list the search tools and strategies that have worked for them in past; people like sharing their own success stories. Involve people in building your own search tools. Try to unfold the hidden job market -- the positions that have not yet been advertised or that won’t ever be. That’s the reason they’re called hidden.

While networking, be considerate, genuine and timely so that people will be willing to lend a hand. Smiling -- smiling a lot -- is very effective when networking. Genial body language conveys that you are friendly and are enjoying your communication with the other person. Who wants to be associated with a Sorrowful Sue or a Negative Ned? It’s a big enough burden just to be in transition, and others usually don’t want to hear about someone else’s problems. You need to project a friendly and helpful image of yourself: Let the other person talk. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Exchange contact information and agree to follow up within a day or two. Keep the momentum going. By being a good networker, you increase your chances of getting a job several fold.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Seven Ways To Build Meaningful Business Relationships When Shy

Networking is an essential part of business. You need it to grow your sphere of influence and to experience the ideas of others. For some, the prospect of meeting someone new brings on a fear that is hard to overcome. As hard as you may try, going up to a stranger to introduce yourself feels awkward and uncomfortable. But, it is key to meeting new professionals that can help propel your business forward.

While the industry has made it relatively easy to network with a slew of events dedicated just to the idea, it is up to you to make the most of these opportunities. Being the wallflower at a networking event can limit your chances to meet new people and find that one gem that will help your business grow.

Below, seven members of YEC Next share the one way you can proactively work to build meaningful business relationships if you are naturally shy or if you aren’t used to reaching our or going up to people. Here’s what they had to say:

Startup founders on how to build meaningful business relationships.


1. Understand The Power Of Listening

I always encourage people to be themselves and not try to become someone else, because that will always come across as disingenuous. You do, however, need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. For extreme extroverts, they generally need to learn to speak less and listen more so that they do not annoy potential business relationships. An introvert, in contrast, will need to push themselves to be a bit more assertive and to reach out to talk to someone in a social setting. When doing that, however, you don’t need to turn into a super-gregarious person, you just need to have genuine conversations and use the incredible gift you possess -- listening. People are naturally attracted to people who actively listen to them. What you perceive to be a weakness is actually a strength. - Ryan Meghdies, Tastic Marketing

2. Take The Conversation To Social Media

Being introverted or shy doesn't have to hold back a business owner. Advancements in technology and social media allow us to build and maintain relationships with very little hassle. Connecting with others on social media platforms is arguably easier than in person. Mediums like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and so many others, provide access to endless amounts of businesses and individuals who are equally eager to connect. Make initial contact online, and once you’re comfortable, reach out over the phone, or schedule a meeting. Otherwise, challenge yourself to be better than your weaknesses. Make a habit of conquering your fears, and soon you’ll question what it was you were afraid of in the first place. Remind yourself that your business deserves to be seen by others. - Bryan Driscoll, Think Big Marketing, LLC

3. Grow Relationships Online

I rarely attend networking events, but have done most of my significant relationship building online. I'll comment on an insightful blog post, or respond to someone's tweet, and build a connection from there. In some cases, when I see a natural affinity between a company and my content marketing agency, I'll reach out with a short but well-targeted intro letter, and invite them to speak by phone. And when I do attend in-person networking events, I often keep the conversation short and sweet, but make sure to get a business card. That way, I can reach out to the individual afterward to continue the conversation via email, taking the time to come up with something thoughtful to say -- the ideal conversation method for introverts like myself. - Kathryn Hawkins, Eucalypt Media

4. Take Your Time And Each Person Individually

It's a common misconception that entrepreneurs are all extrovert, outgoing and confident individuals. The majority of successful entrepreneurs I've met have been introverted. The most confidence are likely to go and try to lead the crowd in traditional careers. For introverts, finding yourself in the periphery, taking a roundabout route, pushing yourself out into a space that doesn't feel comfortable are all second nature and what entrepreneurs must do to succeed in any industry. Introverts also tend to be very good with people, as they will watch first and act on what they have observed. So in building meaningful business relationships, natural introverts should work to their strengths: take their time and each person individually, listen and react. - Tom Chalmers, Legend Times Group

5. Nurture Second-Degree Connections

We all know many people through parties, previous schools, previous jobs, and common friends with whom meaningful business relationships could be built. Particularly for shy people, it might be best to explore this extended network. In addition, use LinkedIn -- sending a brief and well-crafted message is a lot less intimidating than walking up to someone and initiating a conversation. It works the same way a pick-up line does though: it has to be crafted well and use the minimum possible number of words to introduce yourself and generate interest. - Shan Rizvi, Just Ads

6. Publish Your Expertise

To get found and build relationships, you need to put yourself out there and have conversations in some form. By using a blog on your website to publish your expertise on all the questions and conversations that you have with prospects, you'll be in a more comfortable setting than one-on-one "extrovert" activities, plus you'll be able to scale your communication now that you have an evergreen article you can share as much as you need to. This will also help increase your visibility in search engines and give you content to share on social media and with your email subscribers. - Todd Giannattasio, Tresnic Media

7. Get Used To Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone

I was one of the shiest students from my class in high school. Approaching new people and public speaking scared me more than probably anything else. Fast forward to today -- I have no problems with meeting new people and really enjoy being on the stage speaking in front of others. We all have our own comfort zone and it hurts to get out of it. For many, meeting new people is way out of the comfort zone. The leap is just too big to take it. Instead of taking the leap, which could feel like being overdosed, I learned to get outside of my comfort zone. I took it step by step and did small things. I soon realized that they weren't as bad as I thought and it was only my perception of things. I started thinking of it as a game. And in a game, you have to fail before you win. - Milan Steskal, Mentegram

Image Credit: All photos courtesy of individual members.

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Use These Growth Strategies to Build a 6-Figure Business

I built my first business to multiple six figures fairly quickly in 1999. It was a service business that filled a major need for a select industry. It's a business that many entrepreneurs can still start and build successful today. I sold that business and started a lifestyle business in 2011. I heard good things about generating income online and doing it passively, so I figured I could get to six figures or more quicker. I was wrong. 

For the first year, I made less than $10,000. I did everything the industry leaders advised to do. Yet, no forward progress. It was frustrating. I chased leads, I worked hard every day, and I felt like giving up more times than I can count.

In 2012, I did "crack the code." I focused and understood four important growth strategies. They've helped me build a six-figure business that gives me freedom and financial security and that pays me to travel to 25 countries a year. These strategies can apply to any type of business. Use them.

Build your audience with more than posting on social media.

The major social media platforms get billions of users daily. The opportunity to reach them and tell them about your business is exciting. While this has opened many doors for us as entrepreneurs, it's also created a crutch. It's not uncommon for entrepreneurs to build their entire marketing strategy around posting on social media organically. You've probably seen a fellow entrepreneur posting constantly about their business. It repels potential leads.

The major social media platforms are publicly traded companies that have to make a profit for their shareholders. The way they do this is by always changing. If you build your foundation on their platforms, your business will suffer when they decide to make a change that benefits their bottom line.

Social media marketing should only be one part of a diverse and ever-evolving marketing plan for your business. Email marketing still works well. Media exposure grows businesses. Webinars, joint ventures, public speaking and many others ways help you market and grow your business. Don't put all your eggs in the social media marketing basket.

Understand and execute consistent lead generation tactics. 

The way any business grows is by getting new customers. But more than that, you need a system that brings in fresh leads on a consistent basis. Too many businesses don't succeed because they're dependent on the few customers that they already have, or worse, on one major customer. Both of these scenarios can be a scary place to be. You're one decision away from having no income. 

To grow a six-figure business, your lead generation should be stellar. We live in the digital age. You can generate leads through your blog, podcast, videos, on social media, through webinars, training in large groups, local business chambers, media exposure, getting articles published online and many other ways.

While you generate consistent leads, you'll build multiple revenue streams and passive income along the way. Doing these two things helps you build a stable foundation and creates financial security. You can build a business that's more than just you.

Understand your value and don't give it away. 

Self-limiting beliefs can be the kryptonite of any entrepreneur. It could be a few negative words from haters or even someone you like. It could be a comment left on your content or customers that want refunds. There are situations that take a knock at your confidence and those instances lead to you undervaluing your knowledge and expertise. Don't do it!

You give away enough of you through your free content and the ways you pay it forward. You should charge more because there are customers who would gladly pay because they understand the value you provide. Charge based off of value and raise your prices as necessary. Don't hop on calls or answer messages when your gut is telling you to ignore the requests. Do what makes sense for you.

You can build a six-figure business this year by understanding and by implementing these strategies that have withstood the test of time and change. Start by adjusting your mindset to what's possible and put in the work daily.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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