Archive for the ‘strategic planning’ Category

4 Mistakes Business Owners Make

May 31, 2014

good-choices-bad-choicesLet’s get to some core issues that stunt professional development and growth!

Over the holidays, I encountered four (4) people that said things that disturbed and concerned me.  I want to share them because we can all learn from these.  Here are four (4) mistakes that business owners make:

1.       Reluctance to look in the mirror and Self SWOT

In November, I gave a lecture to a group of business women in Macon, Georgia and shared it online in about 50 Facebook and Linkedin groups I belong to.  The emphasis was on planning for 2014 by doing three (3) things: (1) self SWOT, (2) SWOT of your business, and (3) planning sales activities.  A SWOT is simply an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  You plan activities that increase strengths and opportunities; and decrease weaknesses and threats.

Several ladies shared with me in December that they conducted their Self SWOT.  They were excited about it and said that taking the time to reflect and write things down was very revealing, somewhat uncomfortable, but good for them overall.  But, one lady contacted me and said she was going to share the worksheet with her clients.  She said she was lucky and was very successful; and had been assessed to death.  She did not see a need to do a self analysis.  She implied that she did not need to self SWOT.

Well, the fact is we all need to take a look in the mirror.  The key word that stood out with this lady was “luck”.  Perhaps her success was merely by way of luck.  This type of success is fleeting.  Business owners should make improvements in the way they think and operate so that business growth and success is sustainable.

One lady said that she had been in business for a long time since the early 80s.  Her tone implied that she did not need to plan or self SWOT because she had it all figured out.  Perhaps she felt she had arrived.  Well, again, that’s the wrong attitude.  No matter how successful you are, planning and assessments can help you grow and be even more successful!  Even Richard Branson believes in business strategy and planning.  He believes in having detailed and realistic legal, financial and operational plans.  The SWOT is not lengthy or formalistic.  A lot of folks are reluctant to take that closer look because it might be uncomfortable or painful.  But, it could help them grow their business and grow as a professional.

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By Clovia Hamilton, MBA JD President of Lemongrass Consulting Inc.

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SWOT and Sales Activities – Plan for 2014

November 21, 2013

business development, business strategy, entrepreneuralism, female entrepreneurs, networking, sales, self improvement, small business, strategic planning, women owned small business, Macon Georgia

ac·tion  noun \ˈak-shən\

:  the bringing about of an alteration by force or through a natural agency

:  the manner or method of performing

ac·tive  adjective \ˈak-tiv\

: doing things that require physical movement and energy

: characterized by action rather than by contemplation or speculation <an active life>

ac·tiv·i·ty  noun \ak-ˈti-və-tē\

:  the quality or state of being active

:  vigorous or energetic action :  liveliness

:  something that is done as work or for a particular purpose

strategy in business; sales leads; sales prospecting; SWOT; strategic planning; strategic management; sales executive; business and strategy;I had big fun at the Greater Macon Women Business Owners meeting last week.  We had a great taste of Italy at the Buca de Beppo restaurant in Macon, Georgia.  I gave a short talk about activities that women in business can plan to pursue in 2014.  We also talked about the importance of conducting a Self SWOT analysis and having a facilitated SWOT analysis of our businesses done.  I serve as a facilitator!  Lastly, I gave the ladies a worksheet for tracking Sales Activities.

I think that all too often business owners that struggle look to others to rescue them.  The owners pout and justify their poor performance by saying it simply is not their time or season; or they are upset that someone did not bring them into some work.  I bet if you really looked at how active they are in business development, their level of activity would be pretty low.  Business development activities need to be performed daily – – rather than when the work runs out and it is too late.  The level of activity needs to be vigorous, energetic, lively, and with the purpose of achieving real, measurable goals.  Read more and Get the SWOT and Sales Activities Worksheet!

 

by Clovia Hamilton, President

Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2005-2013 Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

9 Business Lessons from the Green Lantern

June 19, 2011

This weekend, I watched the Green Lantern movie. It was awesome! Here are nine (9) business lessons I learned from the movie:

1. Green Lantern operates on green energy and the color green represents a species’ will. Our will allows us to create what we imagine. Anything the Green Lantern could see in his mind, he could create. He just needed to focus. We are only as strong as our will. The business lesson here is that every business leader needs to utilize laser focused creativity and imagination to develop a vision for what the business needs to look like and for strategies the business can use to overcome barriers. This is where a sound business plan and strategic planning comes into play. To stay creative, business leaders also have to overcome getting into ruts and feeling burned out.

Scott Gerber, founder of the Young Entrepreneur’s Council recently wrote a Huffington Post article on how entrepreneurs can get back to being creative and productive. The answers included: 1) taking on a hobby other than the startup; 2) delegate and outsource certain functions; 3) take time to recharge and get away; 4) focus on activity that gives you energy; 5) find a business partner; 6) read about art, literature, history; 7) mentor others;  8) work out; 9) pick a company that is getting it right to emulate and track; 10) conquer a fear with sky diving, mountain climbing or some other adventure; 11) invest in something creative or different for your business; 12) turn to your mentors; 13) network with folks in other fields; 14) take up creative writing; and 15) change your routine.

2. Your will is what makes you take action.
3. The Green Lantern Corps is only as strong as its weakest link.
4. In the movie, the villain Parallax had the color yellow and fed on the fear of others. This is actually the color I associate with cowardice. Fear stops you and makes you weak. Ignore your fear. Last year, Karen Klein wrote a BusinessWeek article about Nell Merlino and what holds women business owners back. Nell Merlino advocates that women business owners need to hire. However, Nell acknowledged that many feared doing so because they were afraid they would not be able to make payroll or would cede and lose control and management of their brand. In Nell Merlino’s self help memoir entitled “Stepping out of Line”, she advocates that whatever you can imagine for yourself, you can achieve – and imagination and dedication are the keys.
5. The Green Lantern ring chose the character Hal to be the Green Lantern. In the movie, it was stated that the “ring” chose Hal; and the ring never makes a mistake. I think the ring is symbolic of a higher spirit or God. Just as Hal was chosen to serve as the Green Lantern, I think God chooses individuals to be business leaders.
6. In the movie, the villain was an evil power of darkness that fed on fear. In business, our enemies are naysayers or competitors that block the market entry of newcomers. It was stated in the movie that the will is the sole weapon against the enemy of fear.
7. One of the Green Lantern Corps members wanted to fight fear with fear. The Green Lantern disagreed. The business leadership lesson here is that we do not have to become like our enemies in order to succeed. I have observed this time and time again. When I first opened my business in 2005, several competitors wanted to meet and talk. Some wanted to find out my weaknesses and fears. Some were really ugly about blocking me from entering their arena or space. I thought this was awful – they were fighting fear with fear – trying to make me be afraid about moving forward with my plans. I also encountered loved ones (friends and family members) that really did not want me to be “that” successful. So, they tried to play on my fears by telling me how hard it would be; how costly; how foolish.
8. Parallax is generally defined as the displacement of an observed object due to the change in the position of the observer. In the movie, the villain Parallax could see your memories and read minds. This is how it could feed on the fears of others. In business, you have to be careful sharing certain memories, thoughts, and fears to prevent enemies from preying on your fears. Guarding the business position is important.
9. The Green Lantern had to recharge his ring; i.e. recharge his will. I think this is analogous to prayer and having faith. I think we need to take time to pray, meditate to recharge and gain strength to overcome barriers.

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.
Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, and social media marketing strategic plans.

Connect with Clovia :
■ Phone: direct – 678.235.5901
■ Web: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com/
■ Blog: https://cloviahamilton.wordpress.com/
■ LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cloviahamilton
■ Twitter: http://twitter.com/lemongrassplans
■ Email: chamilton@lemongrassplanning.com

7 Steps to Retreating, Reflecting, and Re-Strategizing in your Small Business

April 10, 2011

As a small business owner, I can attest that all of the new technologies, marketing techniques, and advice can make you feel overwhelmed, unorganized, and confused. The key is to stay focused, coherent, and consistent with what works for you. A good old fashioned retreat and look into a reflection pool is beneficial. I recently put my company through a series of exercises that I’ll share with you here.

First, I took time to retreat and reflect on who our niche market is. I began by listing all of our past customers. We have subcontracted to subcontractors and I included all customers served whether we had a direct contractual agreement with them or not.

Second, I studied all of our past customers. I developed 6 Excel spreadsheets and bar charts to describe our past customers in the following 7 categories:

(1) Customers’ Race
(2) Customers’ Gender
(3) Customers’ Profession
(4) Our Marketing Methods than Won the Deal
(5) Customers’ Geographic Location
(6) Customers’ Industry Type
(7) Type of Service provided to the Customer

Third, with our customer information in hand, I revisited the fundamental identity of my company. I gave thought to what we do best and where our strengths lie so that we can build on our strengths. For my firm, it is our emphasis on research, analysis, strategy, and legal compliance. Our clients have been primarily white men in the land development construction arena. Most were referred to us. The referrals came from complimentary service providers that we do not compete with. Most were in our home state. The services have been related to public outreach and buy-in, business writing, and strategic planning.

Strategic Planning Retreat Fulton County, GA Health

Fourth, I developed a clear idea of how we create value. We offer 20 services, so I worked on each service area. I came up with unique, clear, concise, and compelling sales propositions for each of the service areas. I listed ways our services are unique in terms of customer benefits. I then listed the pain points for each service we offer. Reviewing customer testimonials, words of praise, and recommendations helped to see our customers’ perspective of why we are still in business. I am not integrating all of this into our marketing materials as we are in the process of freshening all of that up!

Fifth, I drafted a description of the number one thing I want our prospects to know about what we do and how it will benefit them.

Sixth, I drafted a list of 10 categories of people most likely to want our services. They include:

(1) land development managers
(2) architects
(3) civil site development engineers
(4) surveyors
(5) community development managers and grassroots organization’s leaders
(6) external affairs or community affairs department directors
(7) attorneys and procurement officials seeking training, legal research and writing assistance
(8) chamber directors seeking training seminars
(9) higher education continuing education directors
(10) small business owners in need of business writing services and coaching

Seventh, I listed our top strategic priorities. For my firm, the current priorities are all focused on implementing tools to generate income via ecommerce and web stores. I put the top five (5) priorities on Q cards and posted them to a task cork board. I also wrote the tasks in my calendar to make sure they would be given priority and would get done.

Have you studied your customer pool? If so, what was your approach?

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.
Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans. Contact Clovia at http://www.lemongrassplanning.com or follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans

7 Limitless Ways to Plan for Peak Performance

March 21, 2011

I watched Director Neil Burger’s movie Limitless this weekend. I really enjoyed it!

Actor Bradley Cooper plays the writer named Ed Morra who begins to take a top secret drug NZT that gives him super human, top performance abilities.

Here are seven (7) ways you can plan to operate your small business at peak performance without the drug NZT:

1. Overcome your fear

Much has been written about entrepreneurs’ fear of sales and fear of success. The first step to overcoming these fears is to not be in denial. Assuming there are fears, the next step is to get help. There are self help books on the market and a few counseling sessions with a business coach or therapist may prove helpful. Regardless of what course of action is taken, it is important to get past fear because fear can paralyze an entrepreneur’s ability to execute their plans.

2. Overcome your shyness

Ed Morra stated that NZT helped him overcome his shyness. I once dated a guy who used cocaine to overcome his shyness. We can all relate to folks that drink alcohol to become more social and less shy. Well, shyness can be overcome without drugs. Again, the first step is to not be in denial. You have to have some out of body experiences. In the movie Limitless, there were several photo shoots which depicted the un-drugged version of Ed looking at the drugged up Ed.

These scenes reminded me of when I first began to market my firm Lemongrass Consulting back in 2005. I went to trade meetings and would talk to the person sitting to the right of me and to the left of me. I would then leave. If I stayed, I was usually a wall flower. I did not realize I was behaving this way until I participated in a mentor protégé program. My mentor began to go to trade meetings with me. She was the out of body person observing me – so to speak. She observed how I would dart into a rest room and would not work the room. I was in denial. I did not realize how incredibly shy I was. The way I got past it was to mimic my mentor’s behavior and read self help books.

3. Have unprecedented motivation

On NZT, the writer Ed Morra had unprecedented motivation. He was so motivated that he put aside his writing and figured out ways to make money quick on the stock market.

For many entrepreneurs, motivation is tough to maintain. In business, you face ups and downs. You have to learn how to deal with rejection. Rejection and periods of slow sales can crush your spirit and can be quite depressing if you do not get a handle on it. The depression can lead to paralysis when it comes to executing your plans.

I stay motivated by putting in place vision boards, games, and rewards for winning. I have a vision board that I look at every day. It is right near my bed and contains thumb tacked cut outs of magazine clippings of where I want to be in terms of business development, career advancement, wealth, and my lifestyle. I have a separate task board with Q cards that list each task that will get me closer to achieving my goals. As I complete the task, I remove it from the board. When I achieve a goal, I reward myself with a spa day and shopping. It helps to have some system in place to stay focused and motivated.

4. Have clarity

On NZT, Ed Morra had unprecedented clarity. My vision board helps me to stay focused and clear about why I exist, my purpose in life, and what I want to accomplish. I have used vision boards for years. Before starting my business, my vision board was simply to achieve a six figure salary, get a SUV, and buy a nice home. I went from making 40,000 a year in 1997 to making 90,000 a year in 2000. I went from a beige Mazda Protégé to a red Mazda Tribute. I went from being riddled with law school loans and debt to buying a nice home. I looked at my vision board containing magazine clippings of what I wanted each day. It was always exciting to see how, perhaps subliminally, the images became my reality over a very short period of time.

5. Be jacked in, booted up, and full of focused energy

Ed Morra said that the NZT drug helped him be jacked in and booted up. Well, I find that I am most booted up and jacked in after I exercise. When I eat poorly and do not exercise, I feel sluggish. In fact, in the movie Limitless, they show Ed Morra exercising in a gym and swimming.

6. Find a bridge

Robert Dinero plays a merger and acquisition tycoon Carl Von Noon. Carl Von Noon is a bridge to Ed Morra. Carl hires Ed to help with a large, proposed merger and acquisition. Ed was well connected and one of his connections in stock trades introduced Ed to Carl.

My take away here is that it is extremely important to have a strong network and mentors. Your mentors are your bridges. Bridges connect you from where you exist to where you want to go. When I counsel small businesses I advise them to begin very early on to develop a Contacts Relationship Management (CRM) tool. It is important to work your list of connections, stay in touch with folks, and share information. Nearly every business adviser I have had has taught me this.

7. Feel invisible

If you are successful with Items 1-6, you will feel better. When you achieve successes, you will develop confidence and that confidence will make you feel better. But, to feel invisible may not be such as wise thing. Humility goes a long way in business development.

Ann Hutchinson wrote “But now having seen him which is invisible I fear not what man can do unto me.” For me, having a relationship with a higher spirit God is a way to see that which is invisible and to not fear what can possibly do to you. Many entrepreneurs have experienced competitors that will block our sales efforts; prospects that are difficult to reel in; peers that are not very helpful; and customers that are not ideal. Nevertheless, having a real relationship with a higher spirit can help you feel protected above all of that so that you can press on.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans. http://www.lemongrassplanning.com – Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans and LIKE Lemongrass on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/6cuu28o

5 Tips on How to Market to Government Agencies

March 7, 2011

Many businesses have lost their private sector work. Businesses with any relation to real estate were hit hard by the recession. These businesses include real estate brokers and agents, construction concerns, interior designs, architects, land surveyors, civil engineers, and building permit expeditors. I went to a doctor visit and my doctor was hit hard too. When her clients got laid off, they no longer had health insurance. A lot of my colleagues in the insurance industry were hit hard too because insurance was dropped by many as they trimmed their budgets. Therefore, going after government work may be the only viable option to survive this down economy.

My business Lemongrass Consulting helped with zoning applications, community outreach, and permitting large commercial private sector building developments. We were hit hard in 2008 and shifted gears in 2009. I turned to teaching business law and contracting. I re-engineered and turned my firm toward offering customized, affordable strategic plans to small businesses. I now teach government contracting for the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC).

Here are five (5) tips for going after government sector work:

1. Develop a strategy – Based on work you enjoyed doing in the past, figure out the type of work you want to do and with what government agencies. You do not want to shot gun your approach and bid on anything that comes your way. You want to be credible. You want to do work that you will likely deliver on time and within budget because you love what you are doing. Given your past work experiences in product sales or service offerings, figure out which agencies buy what you sell. Also, make the agencies that have a nexus to your background a priority.

For example, if you served in the military, then military bases should be a priority if they buy what you sell. My background is in planning – urban, transportation, community outreach, strategic planning. So, government agencies with planning departments are ideal. With respect to transportation, more specifically, agencies in the transportation horizontal construction of road and bridge work are ideal.

Your strategic plan can be as simple as a list of government agencies to target. Start close to home and branch out – your city, county, state agencies, and federal agencies. Target about 5 agencies at first and then branch out.

2. Aggressively go after work – Armed with your strategic list of government agencies to target, look for bid opportunities and forecasts of purchases that they intend to buy. If you do not bid on work, you will never win a government contract. You must be appropriately aggressive in going after government work. You have to read bid solicitations and follow through by preparing bids for submittal. You also need not wait until a bid opportunity is advertised. Drill down through each target agency and figure out what type of work you want to help them with or which products you sell that they will likely buy. Then offer those products and services to the agencies. Send them print materials and emails and make offers.

3. Build relationships – This is the most important part of government contracting. It is all about people. Once you stop focusing on contracts and dollars coming in, and begin to see contracting officials people with real world people needs, then you can build the kind of relationships you need to have to do well in government contracting. Just like you, each contracting official has a name, maybe a family, they have a past, and they have future aspirations. Get to know them. Ask for face to face appointments or conference calls and chat. One of my mentors told me that I needed to learn how to hang out. He hangs out and network at trade functions, on the golf course, and at parties. You have to make time to build a network of people you can count on for leads and assistance.

4. Follow up – As you build relationships with government officials, follow through on any leads they give you. They may tell you to talk with a prime that already has a contract with them. Perhaps this will lead to subcontracting work for you. They may tell you which end users to meet – e.g. department heads or project managers. You need to make sure you are reaching decision makers. For services, find out how vendor selections are made and who have typically sat on selection committees. For products, you want to get to know the contracting officials, the purchase card holders, and the end users with budget. These are individuals that you need to get to know.

5. Show appreciation – Whenever someone helps you, be sure to thank them. Be careful about gift giving to make sure you do not break any rules.

Speaking of rules, you need to study the rules of the game of government contracting. You cannot play a game when you do not know the rules. So, you should be sure to take government contracting classes to learn more about vendor registrations, certifications for set aside work, and other topics.

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.
Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans. Contact Clovia at http://tinyurl.com/32cqcj9 or follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans

Importance of Small Business Strategic Planning

February 28, 2011

Although most business owners understand the importance of having a business plan, they often overlook their marketing and intellectual property protection strategies. In order to conduct business development in the most efficient and effective way, it is important to target prospects strategically. Therefore, it is imperative to have a marketing strategic plan. If a small business is seeking to serve as a government contractor, then a government contracting strategic plan is necessary. Further, once a business begins to brand itself in the marketplace and create new products and business processes, it is important to protect the intellectual property assets that the business owns.

Marketing Strategic Action Plans

In the business to business market, the key to developing a strong marketing strategy is to fully understand what products and services you want to sell; to whom; and where. First list what products and services you want to sell. Next, ask yourself who is likely to buy these products and services. Think about this in terms of demographics: gender, race, income. Write the pain points down. What pains these folks and why would they buy your products and services in order to alleviate their pain.

Before you move on to where you want to sell your products and/or services, research the market. Find out who your competitors are and find out as much as you can about the competition’s pricing and sales revenues. Marketing research is an extremely important portion of a marketing strategic action plan.

Now, decide on your geographic market. It is recommended that you begin close to home and then branch out. Start with the city your business is located in. Venture out into your county. Next, consider adjacent counties and counties in your region. After you research and market to prospects in your region, continue to venture out throughout your state. Know your demographics and where your prospects are centralized.

Begin to create and acquire lists of prospects. This will be the beginning of the sales plan subset to your marketing plan. Once you have your targets listed out, begin to use email marketing, social media marketing, direct mail, and calls for appointments.

Intellectual Property Strategic Action Plans

As businesses develop their brand in the marketplace and create new products and business processes, it is important to protect their intellectual property. As a registered patent attorney and former technology transfer specialist for research universities and federal labs, I can attest that intellectual property protection can be very costly. Therefore, businesses need to have a strategy to make sure they do not waste time and money.

An intellectual property (IP) strategy requires an IP audit. The business name, logo, website, employee manual, employment agreements, consulting agreements, sales agreements, nondisclosure agreements, copyrightable work, products, and business processes should be audited to determine the type of protections that need to be put in place. IP protection can come in the form of trade secret, trademarks, service marks, copyrights, and patents.

In conclusion, using the shot gun approach to marketing and intellectual property protection can be very costly. In these economic times, that can be catastrophic. Small businesses in particular simply cannot afford to waste time and money.

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.
Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans. Contact Clovia at http://tinyurl.com/32cqcj9 or follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans

Dispel the Noise and Develop Strategies

January 17, 2011

We small business owners get a lot of advice from a lot of sources. We have friends, family members, mentors, coaches, trade articles, and blog posts. A friend of mine said that all she is hearing is “noise”.

Small business owners can choose to get stuck in the quagmire or sort out the bits and pieces and develop a Strategy.

I believe that every business owner should have a Strategic Marketing Plan, an Intellectual Property Protection Strategy, and a Sales Plan with clear sales goals. This article describes how to develop a Strategic Marketing Plan in 5 easy steps.

1. Decide on your geographic markets – which states, which cities
– target the familiar
o consider your past history – pull out the photo albums, scrap books, year books, resumes
 Education: elementary, high school, college,
 Family: where your family resides
 Work: where you’ve lived and worked
o Consider your travel budget

2. Conduct Research to Develop a Network of people in your geographic market
– Go after fans – develop a fan base of folks to cheer you on
o alums from elementary, high school, college, past jobs
o past co-workers
o family members
o close friends

– Go after prospects with budget
o Inc 5000 or better
o Government agencies that have historically bought the products and/or services you sell
 Research what these agencies call the products and/or services – learn “government speak”
 Research who the small business advocates and buyers are

– Go after teaming partners
o folks with extensive networks
 established business coaches, mentors, counselors
 clergy
o media
 journalists, writers
 radio
 magazines

3. Develop a List – all organizations should have a list of prospects. If you own a nonprofit, the prospects are philanthropic agencies and individuals. If you own a for profit business, the list contains potential clients.

– Who to include in your List
o include alums from elementary school, highschool, college
o include Inc 5000 or better firms
o government buyers
o teaming partners
– What to include in your list – set up fields
o Contact’ s name, organization, profession, email address, birth date, trade organizations you share, whether you are connected online (Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook), mailing address
o Any other helpful information you can gather

4. Develop ad copy

There is a lot of sample sales copy and ad copy online. New copywriters can use the samples, go it alone, or hire professionals.

5. Distribute ad copy

Let the folks on your list know what you are trying to sell or about your fundraising efforts. The worse thing to do is to not work the list and let folks know what you are in business doing. Small business owners can let prospects know by email marketing; microblogging (posting information in Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter); blogging; and using direct mail.

Yes, this may all be painstaking. But, it will save time and energy in the end. Years ago when I first started my business, two small business counselors told me not to shotgun it. It is easy to fall into the error of going into a lot of different directions seeking sales. So, kindly dispel the noise by having a strategic plan and implementing the plan. No one has a magic pill to give you to alleviate the pain of building a business, or a magic seed that will instantly grow your business.

Madam C.J. Walker wrote that “There is no royal, flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it. For if I have accomplished anything in life, it is because I have been willing to work hard.” Henry Ford wrote “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.”

So, work hard and go on to make your business better. You can do it yourself or hire help.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans. Visit us at: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com – Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans and LIKE Lemongrass on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/6cuu28o

New Years Resolutions – How to Self SWOT

November 7, 2010

New Years Resolutions are due in less than two (2) months.  The strategic planner in me urges you to conduct a quick Self SWOT to list your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  The key is to be honest.  I cannot tell you how many small business owners and other professionals that remain in denial for years.  It is painful to list your weaknesses and there may be even more pain to actually do something about it.

My Self SWOT revealed the following:

Strengths:

*I write well;

*I enjoy coaching and mentoring others;

*I am very organized; and

*I am very productive.

Weaknesses:

*I have a youthful voice;

*I have debt due to the down economy;

*I have low income due to the down economy;

*I need assistants to help with sales; and

*I need to lose weight.

Opportunities

*I can hire a speech therapist;

*I can pay creditors via a debt management plan;

*I can improve sales and increase income;

*I can hire student assistants and volunteer interns;

*I can exercise and eat right.

Threats

*I am my only threat!

The real threat is how we may get in our own way.

Once you have completed your Self SWOT list, the results can become your New Years Resolutions for 2011.  Take your list of Weaknesses and resolve to do something about them to convert them into Strengths.  Plan implementation is crucial to achieving success.  Commit to viewing your Opportunities as means to convert each Weakness into Strengths.  The key is to approach this exercise with zeal, discipline and commitment.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans. Visit us at: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com – Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans and LIKE Lemongrass on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/6cuu28o

How to Plan Strategically to Market to Government Agencies

September 17, 2010

The purpose of obtaining a Government Contracting Strategic Plan is to target your efforts to create interest in your company. Like private industry buyers, government buyers buy from people they know like and trust. Government buyers cannot buy from your company if they do not know that your firm exists. To gain visibility, it is important to target your efforts rather than take a shotgun approach.

You can create interest in your company to increase sales by marketing your business with advertising, promoting, publicizing, and engaging in public relations. A strategic marketing plan should outline what you will do; where you will do it; what you will say; and how to match your marketing and messaging to the way your customer already thinks and operates.

First, you should build the foundation of the Strategic Government Contracting Marketing Plan by asking yourself:

1. What do you provide of value?
2. Who are your target government agencies?
3. What do your target care about and need?
4. Where do you find your targets?
5. Who influences your target?
6. How do your target agencies want to engage?

With respect to what you provide of value, ask yourself:
1. What do you want to sell to the government? What products? What services?
2. Next, look up your product and services codes in the classification systems used by government agencies.

Product and service codes can be found in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS); National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP); and Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) by conducting key word searches.

With regard to who your targets will be, identify a few government agencies to target. You can start at home with the city, county, and state your business is located in. Then venture out into other counties and the cities in those counties in your region. Next, if you choose, you can expand into other regions in your state and eventually into adjacent states.

A strategic marketing plan need not be complex. It can simply be a list of federal, state, county and city agencies that need what you sell. You will need to identify the players in these agencies that you plan to contact by email, mail and phone to request face to face meetings. Your list should include:

1. Contracting Officers and Specialists
2. Contract Compliance Officers and Small Business Liaisons
3. Influencers such as End Users (Department Heads, Project Managers)
4. Influencers such as Elected Officials, Legislators
5. Winning Prime contractors

You can find these individuals by using Google Unclesam and conducting key word searches. Your goal will be to find government agency websites. The contracting and small business staff may be in the contracting, procurement, purchasing, or finance department web pages. You can also pick off contact information from bid solicitations and contract award notices for work related to the products and services you sell. To find end users and elected officials, you will need to venture onto their web pages.

Create a Contacts Relations Management (CRM) database. You can use Microsoft Excel or Access; or purchase a more robust software program.

With regard to how your targets want to engage, you may be asked:

1. to submit information by email or fax;
2. to attend a Vendor Outreach Session or Trade Fair;
3. to present your capabilities before a panel of agency representatives.

The key is to have a strategy so as to not waste your precious, valuable time and energy. You need to be organized and prepared.

Have the following marketing items at hand:

1. Website
2. Capability Statement
3. Trifold Brochures
4. Business Cards
5. Promotional Items (eg Calendars, Pens, Envelope Opener)

When you meet with government buyers and influences, ask “Do you have any requirements that are a good fit with what my company sells?” and “What are your needs?” Deflate the focus on how great you are, and shift the focus on how you can help the players achieve their goals.

Marketing will grow your business! So, NEVER, NEVER stop marketing!!

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc., http://www.lemongrassplanning.com (@lemongrassplans)
Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans.