Thursday, December 9, 2010

Preparation, forward thinking and plan B

Right now everyone is doing the Holiday hustle.  Last weekend I traveled to Chicago on a shopping bus.  Our destination was The Magnificent Mile. I love everything about Chicago, having lived there for 5 years, I really enjoy the city.  That being said, I hate cold weather... so I was a little hesitant, I wanted to go to Chicago, but I did not want to freeze!  My friends and I decided that just in case it was really cold that we make some 'inside' plans.  We decided to go to a play, Miracle on 34th Street.  It was a great decision.

We were dropped off and walked the few blocks to Watertower to do a little shopping before the play.  As we did, the snow softly, yet steadily fell upon the City.  It was beautiful, in fact, almost breathtaking.  There were people, lots of people, yet everyone seemed to be in a good spirits.  The Salvation Army bell ringers were doing a great job engaging people for donations by shouting out Holiday Wishes.  The lights were beautiful and the decorations complimented the lights perfectly.  We had a great time, we got absolutely soaked with snow flakes, so much so that I had to use the heater in the hallway at Watertower to dry my hair.  (I got a few odd looks from people for doing that)

The cab ride to the play, as cab rides usually are, was wild and I grabbed the safety bar more than once.  The play was great.  It was in a little, intimate theater that shared space with 3 other stages under the same roof. It was located in the Belmont theater area, very progressive and a little eclectic.  Most of the cast members played more than one part.  I have never see the movie or play before.  It was awesome.

After the play we headed back toward our bus pick up spot.  We never got cold, we did get wet, but we had a great time.  We had a plan and we stuck to it.  We wanted to make sure and have shopping time, yet have a plan to be inside in case it was too cold for us.

Its hard to think about business at this time of year.  But we have to look ahead and prepare.  Make a plan and have that plan in place and be ready to hit the road running on Jan 1.  If, after a few weeks the plan needs revision or you need to make revisions to the plan, be ready to do that.  Even if you have to scrap it all together in order to change with the economy or business levels, then have Plan B waiting in the wings.

Just like taking a day to shop and having a plan in place to make it a great day, so must you have marketing plans that will allow you to change those plans if need be.

Are you prepared?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Marketing plan 2011

Have you prepared your business plan for 2011?  Its time, in fact its probably about 2 months past time.  I believe though that it is never too late to start to do something good for yourself.

So that being said, here are some tips to create a very basic business plan for 2011.

First define your ideal customer.  Be specific, paint a good picture of this customer, make a profile that you can relate to about this customer and make sure you fully understand them.

Second, identify how you will connect with your ideal customer.  What methods will you use to gather new clients?  What will you need to do or to learn to grow your ideal customer base?

What problems do you intend to solve for your customers?  What is unique about you and how you plan to solve the customer's problem?  How are you going to show them that you are the person to help them?

What tools, programs, assistance or education to you need to accomplish solving your customers problems in 2011?  How has that changed from 2010?

Who will you need to employ, partner with or engage the services of in order to connect with your clients?

What expenses will be involved in employing these people or services?

How are you going to execute on your plan?  Who is going to do the work, in other words, are the right people on board and is the plan going in the right direction. (that direction is forward!)

What do you need to worry about?  Who is your biggest threat and how can you plow ahead of that threat?

What steps do you need to take to carry this plan forward?  Be specific, list the steps.

How are you going to measure your success?  Again, be specific.

Get your plan in motion.  That does NOT mean post it in your office and hope that happens.  That means place action steps ON YOUR CALENDAR.  Put aside time to implement those steps and get it moving today.  Not next week, next year or even the first of Start the forward motion, NOW!

You and only you can follow through.  Now the good news is you have resources, find them and use them!  Don't feel overwhelmed, you can seek help and maximize your talent by employing those that can assist you with your plan.  But the best thing you can do is to begin the movement.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Marketing in 2011

Web, Blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Digg, and much, much more.  Where does one begin?  How can you begin to implement these strategies into you marketing plan for 2011.  If you have not already started using these strategies...well the train has already left the station.   But don't worry, we can help!  Real Assist QC is helping people get started using Social marketing everyday, and we can help you too.

Attend our Marketing Conference series to be held on January 12th, 19th, and 26th.  We will show you how to create your own Brand and how to use Social Media to build your business in 2011.  For more information visit

You won't want to miss this Conference!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Something Unexpected..the Nature Story Continues

This beautiful Sunday morning I was again staring at my bird and animal feeder and being entertained by the squirrels and birds.  Then something unexpected happened..something I never thought would happen...down swooped a huge, and I don't mean a large bird, I mean HUGE, Hawk.  Ah, something I did not figure into the hierarchy of the animal feeder.

But I guess it should not be a huge surprise, for in every situation there is the unexpected.  Just when the feeder is serving the other animals in harmony, in swoops a bigger to take charge.  Wow,  it so surprised me and the squirrels too I think.  But it should not have surprised me so much.  Just as in nature and in business, there is always the next competitor waiting in the 'wings' to take over.  That is why it is so important to know your feeder, if you will.  You have to know everything about your feeder.  How it works, how it acts, when it needs fed, when it needs water, when it needs your attention, when it needs your tender loving care and when it is working just fine.

Mastering these anticipatory actions, you will never be surprised when the larger, more powerful predator swoops in and tries to take over.  With your preparation you will be ready for the invasion and you will be able to out-smart the pesky Hawk.

Be ready for the Hawk.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Of nature, man and relationships

Let me start off by saying I love nature, animals and the harmony in which we all live on this earth.  I have bird feeders all around my screened-in porch and in the fall I love sitting and watching them.  Today was a day like no ever in the life of my bird haven.  As I watched out the window I saw about 16 small birds at the feeder, all getting along great and eating the seed like crazy. These birds were of various breeds, some sparrows, some finches, a couple of chickadees and a thrush or two.   They stayed there in perfect harmony for several minutes.  Just then I heard the unmistakable call of a Blue Jay.  Now for those of you who have not seen a Blue Jay close up, they are large birds with a long-scary looking beak, almost intimidating, even to me.  The Blue Jay called out two distinct times and the smaller birds scattered in all directions.  The Blue Jay ate from the feeder for several minutes, very content to be the only bird at the feeder....anti-social and eating alone!

The next few minutes were quite amusing.  I saw them, they crept up the deck, across the stairs and headed for the feeder - not one but two grey squirrels.  They proceeded up the railing and across the cross boards of the deck then up the slats to the feeder.  Taken by surprise the Blue Jay flew off very quickly.  Ah-ha I thought  the guy with the loudest call does not necessarily win the battle, sometimes two quite fellows can take over in a split second.  Now back to the little birds.  As the squirrels ate their way into oblivion the little birds perched around the feeder and waited, occasionally picking up a morsel or two that the squirrels thew out.  They waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally the squirrels finished their feast and made their way back into the woods.  The smaller birds again took over the feeder and ate for several more minutes.

Looking at the bird and squirrel behavior left me to think there is a lot to say about working together, formulating relationships, and getting along with others.  The smaller, diverse,  non-vocal group of birds knew when to give up the feeder and let the louder more disturbing bird take over.  The loud disturbing bird ate alone, no one wanted to be-friend him, he was too aggressive, not a fun bird to be around.  Then the squirrels knew that if they ambushed the bigger bird that their tactical behavior would be a win-win for them.

We can all identify with this situation at some time or another in our careers.  There have been times when working with a large, diverse group worked out very successfully.   Then at other times there was the feeling that if you did not complete the project alone it would not get done.  Sometimes you need to make a loud squawk in order to complete the task on time and on budget.  Then again there are times that teaming up with a great partner that can compliment your expertise and will help you accomplish the goal, even faster than you ever thought possible.

Man and nature, we can take a lessen or two from this wildlife. Watch them and learn.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Do you take a tech-free day on Sunday?

Last weekend I took an entire weekend free from my laptop.  I don't really know why I did it, but I did.  On Monday I had about 100 new e-mails and several other Social Media messages to answer.  I was a little overwhelmed.  I thought to myself, wow, the tech world NEVER stops.  After I took stock of all the e-mails, answered them, filed them and acted on a few of them, I realized that almost two hours had passed.  Two hours work for two tech-free days!   I wondered if it was worth it.  So this weekend I broke down and worked on Sunday least to catch up on cyber-world.  I have some new work coming in, and that is good, I have some webinars scheduled and that is good too and I feel better about getting a head start on Monday. 
Do you take any tech-free days?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Market Like a Rock Star

If you have been to a music concert lately you know exactly what I mean.  My husband and I went to the Rascal Flatts/Darius Rucker concert last Saturday night.  I would not describe what took place that evening as a concert, it was a show. 

Now I will show my age, which most of you already know, but a concert used to be pretty different than it is today.  It used to be that the musicians hid behind a curtain, they were announced, the curtain opened (if there was not a glitch in the rigging and only half the curtain opened), the spotlights were set and occasionally changed colors, the singer and the band played and that was it.  You know what I am talking about.

Rarely did the 'star' move about the stage, never did the star come out into the audience or invite an audience member to come on stage with them.  There were no camera men sitting in the aerial spotlights, there were no silver studded pianos suspended from the ceiling then lowered to the stage, and NEVER would there be any pyrotechnics.  (unless the guy in front of you was smoking a cigarette)  No one ever even broke a sweat. There were limited amounts of merchandise for sale after the concert.
Music stars, much like anyone else in sales, and yes, make no mistake,  music stars are sales people, have changed their marketing plans to meet the demands of their fans--oops I mean their customers.  The show on Saturday night had all of the elements of a true show, because that is what is demanded of concert-goers today.  If they are going to pay well over $60 bucks for a ticket, they expect to see something more than a bunch of people standing stationary on the stage. Then after the show they want to wear the tee shirt to impress their friends, AND they will pay $40 bucks for the privilege of wearing that shirt and proudly marketing on behalf of the music star.

Your customers are no different.  They will pay for service, which has been proven time and time again.  But what they really want is a show.  They want you to show them that you know your stuff.  They want you to show them that you will go out of your way to help them.   They want you to show them that you will deliver what you promised. They want to show their friends that you will give them great service too.  They want to show off what a good deal you gave them.  They want to show off your tee shirt with pride and tell everyone how wonderful you are. They may even expect you to show them that you will break a sweat if you have to in order to win their business.   It's all about the show.
So if you expect to stand on the stage and hope the curtain goes up and the lights go on--you will soon find out that your competition is planning a full blown show--they are out on that stage performing like a music star, and if you don't you might as well get off the stage.