Posts Tagged ‘marketing plan’

How to improve your Influence?

January 17, 2012

My Klout score was 46 and is now 36. It dropped to 32 at one point. I wanted all of the bloggers’ posts that I routinely read to appear on my twitter site. So, I used twitterfeed to rss feed the blog posts. Well, my Klout score went down. What was even more frustrating was that only one of the bloggers that I essentially promoted did thanked me – referral sales guru Bob Burg. Well, when my Klout score dropped I started joining Twitterchats and it went up by 4 points.

I also posted my wordpress.com blog on my Twitter page to try to increase reads and comments on my blog posts. I think this hurt my Klout score. I have since changed that wordpress url to my firm’s website url. I will report on whether that makes a difference.

The topic of clout or influence is trending. It has had me reflecting on what truly makes a person influential. It makes me wonder if I am an influential person with clout; and who in my network has clout and influence. I also wonder if entrepreneurs like me are using social media to increase marketing, visibility, and sales; or are we really trying to become more popular, gain influence, and increase our personal clout.

I’m an academic analytic. With all of my research, I begin with definitions.

Merriam-Webster defines clout as pull or influence. The dictionary defines influence as power, force, and the exercise of command:

 an emanation of occult power held to derive from stars
 an emanation of spiritual or moral force
 the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command
 the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways : SWAY

I like the word “emanate”. It makes me wonder what is emanating from me – what’s springing out, coming out, and coming across to others? I suppose one way to find out is to ask folks. We could ask image consultants. We could ask folks in our networks. I collect feedback I get online. All of it has been positive. Here are examples:

 You really get me going. Great motivation.
 Im so inspired by you & all that you do I’m inspired
 Happy Thanksgiving Clovia! You inspire me:)
 Dear Clovia, you always post value on Twitter and on Facebook. You are an example to follow.
 We need more people like you.
 Thanks for all you do!
 Thanks for your input. You are so very helpful.
 You have great style and the ability to communicate on the entrepreneur’s level.
 Thanks for the encouragement to stay focused!
 Thank you for the daily inspiration.
 I really enjoy your Social Media post. Thank you so much!!
 Clovia, I just followed you on twitter and checked out your website. Impressive…Thanks for connecting
 I follow you closely. I love what you are doing.
 You really do have it right and I’m glad that there’s someplace like Lemongrassplanning.com around to help people who realize that they need to set and manage goals, but maybe don’t know how.
 Thx for the free book. Lots of great insights & I didn’t know about Ping but am using it now!
 Happy New Year Clovia! Thanks for all the inspirational & motivational quotes.

If you are not studying what folks are saying about you, you probably should start. Collect the feedback and use Google alerts to see what might be stated about you that is not sent directly to you.

Lets get back to sales. Folks buy from who they come to know, like, and trust. So, perhaps you can influence a sale if you can get someone to if you cause someone click on a link and read an article; to comment on what you post; to click LIKE on your facebook business fan page; to click the + on the Google plus link; or to retweet and share what you post on Twitter.

Those of us in business know there is no direct correlation between the two. But, how much of a correlation is there between online social activity and sales?

Should there be a score for being inspiring, encouraging, motivating – rather than influential?

 

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with nearly 30 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 organizational assessments, government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, social media marketing strategic plans, and other services.

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with nearly 30 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 organizational assessments, government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, social media marketing strategic plans, and other services. Contact Clovia at:
■ Web: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com/
■ Follow us on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/lemongrass-consulting-inc.
■ Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/lemongrassplans

■ LIKE us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LemongrassConsultingInc

 

10 Tips for Biz Card & Networking Savvy

October 7, 2011

I dusted off a card scanner to begin scanning biz cards as a form of therapy (a light duty, stress free, painless, easy, no brainer). I began to scan away at about 700 business cards. Many were great and many woefully planned and designed. I also made some awful mistakes when networking. Here are 10 tips I jotted down while scanning away:

1. Do not take a business card that does not have the person’s name on it. Read the card before they get away. Write down their full name.

2. Write the date you met the person and the event on the business card. I had some cards where I put a partial date (forgot the year); put the date and not the event; or put the event and no date.

3. Have a business card that can be scanned. Some of the business cards in my stack were made of thick plastic; the same as a credit card. Some were all black and the text could not be scanned. One card was made of a weird vellum paper and it would not feed into the scanner.

4. Be sure to get the person’s cell phone number. Be sure to put your mobile phone number on your business card.

5. Think of us forty-plus something business people when you choose a font. One of the business cards was in a 4 point font. I could not read it without a magnifier. Luckily, the scanner could scan it. Nevertheless, be sure people can read your card without squinting.

6. If your company name is inserted in your logo, have it typed somewhere else again without the graphic. Company names in graphic logos did not scan.  I put it on the back of the card. Be sure to scan the front and back of business cards you collect.  Make great use of the back for listing your licenses, certifications, tag line, etc.

7. Choose paper that folks can write on. You cannot write on plastic or vellum or slick glossy paper.

8. Save a list of your notes from the business cards you collected into a word document. It will remind you of your marketing journey – all of the events, all of the networking. Study the list and ask yourself which events resulted in work, teaming, or other collaborations.

9. Ask yourself, which events are you drawn to? My firm is 6 years old. I looked back over the past 5 years. I am primarily drawn to small business development events such as trade fairs, match making/ partnering events, and government vendor outreach sessions. Next, over the years I have made my rounds to visit with decision makers in government agencies – procurement staff, program directors, department directors, project managers. Third, I lean toward urban planners, civil engineers, and economic development specialists. So, I have attended their trade meetings (annual conferences, luncheons).

10. Lastly, use this intelligence to develop your marketing plan for 2012. Plan out the entire 12 months. Make your rounds. Attend trade meetings, conferences, etc. What will it cost to participate? Registration fees? Travel transportation and hotels? Budget for it now!
By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with nearly 30 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, social media marketing strategic plans, and other services. Contact Clovia at:
■ 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

Five (5) ways to increase your business network

May 31, 2011

I network pretty extensively. I think it is more important than ever to do so during the down economy. When the economy improves and we get busier with work, the amount of time available to devote to networking may diminish. Nevertheless, I am a firm believer in daily marketing and networking.

I am not connected to tens of thousands of people. But, I like to think that the folks I am connected to are real people. When you pay for followers or connect with just anyone, they will likely be fake people or market researchers. I have a small but influential network. I am often asked how I consistently make new connections.

The answer is that I put time into it. It is really that simple. Here are three things I do routinely to increase my business network:

1. Meetings – I invite business people that I meet and dialogue with to join my Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin networks. I send the invitations out as soon as possible. I usually try to get to it within a week of meeting each person. I may meet these connections at trade organization luncheons, trade conferences, training programs, or meetings I coordinated to pitch a service offering.
2. Trade Articles – I let article writers know when I enjoyed an article they wrote. I then invited them to join my Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin networks. I subscribe to Black Enterprise, the Atlanta Tribune, Home Business and Entrepreneurs magazines. I also subscribe to several free electronic news services for business articles. I am particularly interested in business strategy and government contracting. When these news emails arrive, I put them in a folder called Read Me Later. When I have down time, I go through the lists of articles and pdf the ones that I want to read. I then read through them once a week. If I enjoy an article, I immediately go online and post a comment; and I also search for the author on Facebook and try to connect with them.
3. Winners’ Circles – I like to connect with small business owners that win awards and contracts. I learn a great deal from the winners. They obviously have a winning strategy. I find them on Facebook and I congratulate them. I then introduce myself and tell them about my company and that I teach government contracting for the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center. I connect with a lot of great minority owned and women owned small business leaders with this strategy.
4. Alum – I also connect with folks I went to elementary school, high school, college, and graduate school with. I use my old year books. I also peek at each of their online connections to see if there is anyone I remember. You never know where a referral will come from. I think my relationship with school chums is that we will always have that shared experience – i.e. the old neighborhoods, the campuses, and the faculty. These folks are a true extension of my family.
5. Past Colleagues – I worked primarily as a government civil servant for more than 25 years at the federal, state and local government levels. Over the years, I have come to know quite a few really cool folks and have stayed in touch with them. I seek pass co-workers out online and send them invitations to connect.

What about the competition? I have also been asked why I allow competitors into my network. I learn from some competitors and I hope they learn from the information I share online. I realize that some competitors will try to get at your customers via Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. So, to be honest with you, I am not connected to my core customers online to prevent that from happening. I stay in touch with my core customers with email, direct mail, and visits.

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

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

Village Think: How can small businesses get motivated to think more strategically?

September 28, 2010

I have been reading recent Linkedin Group posts about what it takes to have a successful business. The discussions and debates remind me of the days I served as a university technology manager. In technology management (aka tech transfer) the great debate is whether the best tech managers are the PhDs, MBAs or the attorneys.

The truth is that it takes a Village. I suppose it is self aggrandizing for any one of these groups of people to believe they can do it all by themselves better than the other groups. But, you gain more from having complimentary know-how.

Most participants in the online debate over what it takes to have a successful business list bits and parts of what is required. The following items have been noted:

1. Initial Capital Injection
2. Differentiated Niche Products and/or Services
3. Business Plan
4. Marketing Plan
5. Plan Implementation
6. Marketing Tools
7. Passion
8. Positive Energy
9. Physical Stamina
10. MBA
11. CPA
12. Business Lawyer
13. Great Customer Service
14. Organizational skills
15. Time Management
16. Leadership skills
17. Continuing Education
18. Staff
19. Customers

The truth is that it takes all of the above. It takes a wide variety of people with a wide variety of know how. It takes a Village!

There is free or low cost help out there. In Georgia, I have tried the following:

1. Small Business Administration (SBA)
2. SBA funded Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) – University of Georgia, Georgia State University
3. Georgia Governor’s Mentor Protégé Program
4. SCORE
5. Defense Logistics Agency funded Procurement Assistance Center – Georgia Tech
6. Count Me In program for Women’s Economic Independence
7. Clean Water Atlanta Small Business Development Program

These programs provide classes on business planning, business loans, marketing, government contracting, business law, and accounting. Some may advocate that if you do not have a MBA, you do not know enough about business and will fail. The truth is that much of what you need to know, you can learn.

Further, it also takes strategic plans that move off dusty shelves and into actual implementation. Again, we are back to the people factor. You need people that have the know-how, positive energy, and physical stamina to take strategies and implement them. When I worked as a city planner, I coordinated the drafting and approval by City Council of Comprehensive Development Plans (CDP) and Capital Improvement Programs (CIPs). This enormous effort would result in a wish list of projects in two thick plan documents 3-4 inches thick that would get shelved. The plans would collect dust; and we would do it all over again the next year for the annual update. The same is true for most strategic plans, business plans and marketing plans.

Small business counselors will encourage business owners to have plans. Some small business programs will help them draft their plans. However, I have yet to come across a small business program that encourages business owners to dust off their plans and review them. Perhaps no one wants to take the time. Business owners need performance measures. They need to ask themselves if they followed their plans; and if not, why not. This should be done annually, biannually or quarterly. Why have strategic plans that do not get used?

A huge problem for small business owners is that they may not have the money to hire employees to delegate plan implementation to. Where there is a will, there is a way. Ask family members, friends, retirees, neighbors, and students to help. Some students can work for course credit. Finding help takes time. But, this is time well spent.

I had a clothing business in the 80s. I tried a law office. I have had a consulting business that has gone through ups and downs. The key is that you cannot do it all yourself. I am an academic. I have three degrees, licenses and certifications. I love to learn. The learning part of it came easy to me. My credentials cover the full gamut of organizational management, law, and technical know how. I am a certified public manager, certified planner, patent attorney, and engineer. I manage well. I am organized. I plan everything. I know the law and I think analytically. But, I do not care how many degrees you have. If you do not go out and learn what you do not know; and get help in order to expand the ground you cover, your business will fail.

Of course solo practitioners will balk at this. What I am referring to is achieving the vision of building a corporation. Corporations may start with one person. But, to be successful, the organization has to grow in numbers. I serve as a procurement counselor and recently advised a client to look at a $20 meal tab in a restaurant. The $20 could get a business owner nearly three (3) hours of minimum wage help. A lot can be accomplished in 3 hours: database entries, contact relationship management, social media marketing, filing, and direct mailing.

If a business owner approaches business growth with the understanding that it will take Village Think, she may survive the first five (5) years. She will need to balance all 19 of the items noted earlier and manages to keep costs low overall. The key is to be willing to give each item some real thought and effort.

Author Bio: 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 (@lemongrassplans)