Archives for July 2010

Leap Ahead to Achieve Your Goals With the Support of a Mastermind Group

Sometimes, the most difficult part about being a solopreneur is keeping yourself accountable.  When you’re the boss of yourself, there’s no one looking over your shoulder to see if things are getting done.  Of course there are clients, but since they pay the bills, getting their work done isn’t usually the challenge.

Growing your business and achieving your goals is often the biggest challenge solopreneurs face.

As a business owner, you know all (or almost all) of the things you need to do to make your business successful and prosperous.  For example, you know you should:

  • Keep your website up to date
  • Network strategically
  • Have a plan for marketing your business
  • WORK your marketing plan
  • Stay abreast of trends in your industry
  • Outsource non-revenue generating tasks
  • Keep your financial records in order
  • Invest in continuing education opportunities
  • Apply what you learn

…and the list goes on.

But, while your to do list and wish list get longer, there’s often no one holding you accountable to make sure you get things doneThat’s where a mastermind group comes into play and can be the critical piece you are missing to move your business ahead.

Round conference tableThe basic principle of a mastermind group is that like-minded professionals join forces and commit to helping each other accomplish their goals.  As a group, you celebrate each other’s victories and support each other in times of need.  One of the essential players in a successful, profitable mastermind group though, is a strong leader.

The leader of the mastermind group should be someone whose success you admire.  In other words, they need to be successful themselves first to be able to give you the direction you need to create the same type of success in your business.  Think about it, would you want to learn from a ski instructor who’s never been on the slopes?

Here’s what you want to look for in a potential mastermind group:

  • A strong, seasoned and dedicated leader that has created the same results in their business that you want to create in yours.
  • A group of like-minded professionals – While they don’t all have to be from the same industry, it helps if there is some common ground for support and they are at the same general place in their business.
  • Regular access to the leader and other members – A forum is a great way to interact with the group and get fast answers to your questions.  It needs to be a safe place, where no question is off limits.  You also want to have regular interaction with the group through virtual and live meetings.
  • A structured program designed with your needs in mind – Having structure is necessary to ensure that each individual receives what they need.  There needs to be clear expectations for the leader and each group members, which creates a supportive environment where each entrepreneur can thrive.

There are many benefits to participating in a mastermind group.  First, you receive ongoing support in your business from people who know and understand what you are going through.  While your family may be cheering you on, even the most supportive family can’t understand all the moving pieces in your business.

Second, you have friendly yet professional accountability.  While you won’t get beat up over not accomplishing your goals, a good accountability partner and/or mentor will help you identify why you didn’t reach your goals and then help you overcome those challenges.

Third, you get real life education while avoiding common pitfalls.  Working with a successful person as the mentor of the mastermind group will save you time, money and needless aggravation. Their insights and experience will help you avoid common pitfalls and give you the support you need if you’ve made a few mistakes.  And, ultimately knowing someone who has “made it” is a great motivator and will keep you inspired.

At the end of the day, you are still solely responsible for your success.  However, that doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself.  Consider joining a mastermind group to reap the benefits of collaboration and help you leap ahead towards accomplishing your business goals.

Have you participated in a mastermind group?  Or are you interested in participating? Contact me at Info@SmartSimpleMarketing.com to find out about the programs we offer. We offer ongoing enrollment and certainly have space for you!

SSMS Episode #6 – 7 Simple Steps to Following Up and Creating More Success In Your Business

Subscribe to Sydni's PodcastThe majority of entrepreneurs simply don’t follow-up on leads and interest in their business.  Their lack of diligence is costing them BIG time and they’re leaving serious money on the table.  But that doesn’t have to be the case with you! Listen in this week as I share my proven seven step system for effective follow-up and start creating more success in your business…TODAY!

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Resources for Developing Your Social Media Brand

Having a consistent brand across ALL of your marketing materials is critical to conveying a clear message to your audience.

This includes the look and feel of your social media profiles. Social media is one of the easiest ways to connect with ideal clients in en-masse and you’ll do well to leverage the powerful features of each of the platforms where you have a presence.

Equally important is how your profiles look and how they function. Customizing the branding of your profiles is much easier than you think and fairly inexpensive.

My friend Denise Wakeman shared a link to a valuable resource list on her Facebook profile last week and I wanted to share the link with you as well:


http://www.blogworld.com/2010/07/22/people-who-can-design-your-twitter-background/

Here you’ll find a list of 23 different service providers who can assist you developing a custom Twitter background, Facebook Fan Pages and more.

Check it, pick one that resonates with you and get started updating your social media brand!

P.S. Once you’ve created your new profiles, please be sure to stop back by and post the links so I can check them out! 🙂

A Different Marketing Strategy: Participation on a Panel

Leveraging different ways to market your business is important to keep your name and service offerings on top of your target audience’s mind.  It also helps you diversify your marketing portfolio and measure the results of your activities to determine which methods work best for your business.

One way to market your business is through sharing your expertise through public speaking.  By sharing your expertise with others, you are helping your target audience solve problems, but more importantly, you are establishing yourself as the expert.  Once your target audience sees how knowledgeable you are, they will likely want more information from you because they see you as the best service provider for the job.

Round conference tableIf you are shy or not quite ready to be front and center on stage, consider joining a panel of experts.  By participating in a panel at a networking event, or even a local radio show you will have a chance to speak to your target audience without having to prepare a formal presentation and have “all eyes on you”.  Panels offer you the chance to answer questions and share your point of view with the other participants; yet still showcase your expertise.

For example, we have an annual home and garden show in the Bay Area.  If you haven’t been to one of these shows, there is typically one major project where many companies can participate.  This project is usually a model home built in the event arena.  So this showcases the builders, interior designers, alarm installation companies, landscapers and home theatre stores (just to name a few).

During the event, visitors can tour the home and there are business cards placed throughout the exhibit.  Then, on the last day, there is usually a Q and A session with the participants about the home they built, the materials they used, the cost, etc.  With everyone joining in on the panel, it’s a great way to educate the audience on the project and their expertise.   Additionally, this gives the panelists a way to interact directly with their target audience and find out what their challenges are by listening to the questions they ask.

I’ve had the opportunity to participate on a number of panels and have really enjoyed the experience.  It’s a great way to connect with complimentary service professionals and create “Power Partner” relationships.  (“Power Partners” is a concept taught by BNI that entails complementary service providers partnering together to serve each other’s clients).  In addition, each event has created great exposure for my business, allowing me to further build my subscriber list and attract new clients for my programs and private coaching services.

Put forth the effort to seek out panel opportunities either in your local area, via online radio shows or industry events.  Let those in your network know that you’re open to sitting on a panel.  And reach out to event/meeting planners to offer your support.  This will give you the opportunity to share your expertise without having to worry about being in front of a live audience on your own.

Have you ever participated in a panel or been interviewed? If yes, how did it help your business? How did it help you connect with your target audience? Share your thoughts with me by posting your comments below!

SSMS Episode #5 – Reconnect With Your Goals and Start Creating Results

Subscribe to Sydni's PodcastWe’ve just passed the mid-way point of 2010.  How are you doing with achieving the goals you established back in January?  If you’re not quite where you want to be, not to worry, there’s still plenty of time to regroup.  Check out this week’s episode for a simple 3-step plan to get back on track!

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How to Know EXACTLY What Your Ideal Client Needs

Working with your ideal clients and only your ideal clients doesn’t have to be a fantasy.  You can work with only the people you are meant to serve ALL the time – IF you know exactly what they want.  Keeping in tune with what your ideal clients really want is the key to your success.

So the first step to making sure you’re deeply connected with your ideal clients is to figure out how well you know your current clients.  Are you providing the services and solutions they need now?  Are they repeat clients?  If yes, why and if not, why not?  There are 3 basic questions to ask yourself to ensure you are attracting your ideal client and keeping your current clients happy.

  1. Have you done your market research? When was the last time you checked the pulse of your ideal clients to find out what their challenges are right now?  Keeping on top of their current needs, immediate challenges and hot topics is key to providing the services they need NOW.  If you don’t know, you simply need to ask them.  You’ll want to conduct research on a regular basis, by asking probing questions of all new prospects and conducting surveys of those in your network.
  2. Who is your ideal client within your target market? Focusing on a particular segment of the population is great, but you need to get clear on the ONE type of individual that you want to work with, within that market.  For example, say your target audience is real estate agents.  But what kind of real estate agents; residential or commercial?  A man or a woman?  How old is this person? How much experience does he/she have? Where does this person live and/or work?  The more specific you are the better able you will be to create solutions that meet their needs.
  3. Where does your ideal client “hang out”? In order to drill down into the nitty gritty of what your ideal client needs and wants, you need to connect with them and get to know them.  Find out where your ideal client is hanging out online and offline and meet them there.  This can mean participating in one of the social networking groups where you know they’re active or attending an appropriate networking event in your area.  Wherever it is, make sure you know where you need to be, get registered and be visible there.

Remember, marketing is simply a matter of sharing solutions in an appealing way with people who are already looking for them.  So, by doing your research and finding out what your ideal client needs will help you provide the solutions they are looking for.  And, since you’re in tune with their needs, you won’t ever need to “sell” yourself or your services because you will be clearly seen as THE expert problem solver.

When was the last time you did market research on your ideal clients?  Did you find any new challenges or ways to present your solutions to better serve them?  Post a comment below to let me know what you discovered and how you plan to use the information!

Use Social Media To Attract Ideal Clients

Social media is everywhere – it cannot be ignored. The most popular networks for small business owners are:  Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Chances are that you have a profile in each of these and strive to be pretty active.  But is your activity leading to productivity?

Social MarketingBeing active in the social networks is much like networking in person – if you’re doing it correctly. You should be making personal connections with people, having real conversations with them and above all, adding value to their lives and businesses.  Those in your network will appreciate your efforts to be truly and genuinely helpful.  Online or offline, this spirit is absolutely client attractive.

At first, it may start out with the little things like responding to a group question, or leaving your feedback on a blog post you saw in your Twitter stream.  But if you’re genuinely helping people, being friendly and conversing with others, people notice. Then, you’ll be known as the “expert” in the group, the go-to person that everyone waits to hear from.  And sometimes, you’ll be exactly the person a potential client is looking for to help them solve a challenge they’re facing.

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SSMS Episode #4 – 7 Insider Secrets to Effective Networking

Subscribe to Sydni's PodcastNetworking. Most entrepreneurs love it or it makes them cringe. Whichever side you’re on, the important is to understand how to network effectively and how to use this strategy to create new opportunities and more revenue for your business. Enjoy today’s episode as I share my insider secrets!

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Strengthen Relationships and Attract More Clients With A Personal Note

Getting anything “good” in the mail these days is a challenge.  Your mailbox is probably filled with bills, direct mail pieces (i.e. junk mail) and things you’d really rather not look at.  Think about the last time you actually received a greeting card or personal handwritten note in the mail.  When was that?  …Perhaps a long time ago.

The truth is, the times you receive a handwritten personalized note are likely few and far between.  That’s why when someone does receive one, it stands out.   This leaves a great impression on the receiver of that personalized note.

Paper and PencilSending a handwritten note to a potential client after a meeting is a great marketing strategy to implement.  One, you have the chance to quickly thank your potential client for the meeting.  Two, it keeps you on top of their mind as they are “thinking” about working with you.  Three, it makes you stand out from the crowd.  If they are “shopping” for service providers, they will be more likely to choose you for your great service, because they are impressed by your gracious follow-up.

But sending a handwritten note doesn’t stop with new potential clients.  This practice should be carried out throughout the life of your relationship with your client.  This means thank you notes when the project is completed, a card acknowledging the anniversary of their business, congratulating them on a BIG win, etc.  It doesn’t take as long as you think!  Taking 5 minutes to write a note will help you to maintain a great relationship with your client, will go a long way towards creating a satisfied customer and will generate referrals.

And, who doesn’t love referrals?

Happy clients will tell their friends, family and anyone who will listen about the great service you provide and the WAY you served them.  The next time your client hears about someone in need of the type of services you provide, guess who they will recommend?  YOU!  Why? Because they had a great experience in working with you and you are on the top of their minds because you stay in touch with them.

The type of card you send should be a mixture of personal style and polished professionalism.  First of all, send the nicest card you can afford.  If you are going to have monogrammed or personalized note cards designed with your business logo, take the time to hire a graphic designer to create a stylish piece.  Be sure they are printed on good quality card stock.  (You don’t want someone who is paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for your services to feel like they got a “cheap” card from a discount store.) Depending on your profession, you will probably want to avoid using the cartoon and caricature type of cards.  These may not support your brand or your business and could detract from your professionalism.

I’m excited to see how this strategy works for you and would love to hear the feedback you get from clients. Please share your success stories with me by posting a comment on the blog!

SSMS Episode #3 – Drive Massive Traffic To Your Website With Article Marketing

Subscribe to Sydni's PodcastPerhaps you’ve heard of article marketing, but don’t really understand what it is or how it can help you. This week’s episode gives the nitty-gritty with action steps you can implement now to attract pre-qualified leads to your website!

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