Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Top 10 Benefits Of Social Media Marketing

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This post originally published on this site

The Top 10 Benefits Of Social Media Marketing

To some entrepreneurs, social media marketing is the “next big thing,” a temporary yet powerful fad that must be taken advantage of while it’s still in the spotlight. To others, it’s a buzzword with no practical advantages and a steep, complicated learning curve.
Because it appeared quickly, social media has developed a reputation by some for being a passing marketing interest, and therefore, an unprofitable one. The statistics, however, illustrate a different picture. According to Hubspot, 92% of marketers in 2014 claimed that social media marketing was important for their business, with 80% indicating their efforts increased traffic to their websites. And according to Social Media Examiner, 97% of marketers are currently participating in social media—but 85% of participants aren’t sure what social media tools are the best to use.
This demonstrates a huge potential for social media marketing to increase sales, but a lack of understanding on how to achieve those results. Here’s a look at just some of the ways social media marketing can improve your business:

1. Increased Brand Recognition. Every opportunity you have to syndicate your content and increase your visibility is valuable. Your social media networks are just new channels for your brand’s voice and content. This is important because it simultaneously makes you easier and more accessible for new customers, and makes you more familiar and recognizable for existing customers. For example, a frequent Twitter user could hear about your company for the first time only after stumbling upon it in a newsfeed. Or, an otherwise apathetic customer might become better acquainted with your brand after seeing your presence on multiple networks.

2. Improved brand loyalty. According to a report published by Texas Tech University, brands who engage on social media channels enjoy higher loyalty from their customers. The report concludes “Companies should take advantage of the tools social media gives them when it comes to connecting with their audience. A strategic and open social media plan could prove influential in morphing consumers into being brand loyal.” Another study published by Convince&Convert found that 53% of Americans who follow brands in social are more loyal to those brands.
Recommended by Forbes

3. More Opportunities to Convert. Every post you make on a social media platform is an opportunity for customers to convert. When you build a following, you’ll simultaneously have access to new customers, recent customers, and old customers, and you’ll be able to interact with all of them. Every blog post, image, video, or comment you share is a chance for someone to react, and every reaction could lead to a site visit, and eventually a conversion. Not every interaction with your brand results in a conversion, but every positive interaction increases the likelihood of an eventual conversion. Even if your click-through rates are low, the sheer number of opportunities you have on social media is significant. And as I pointed out in my article, “The Four Elements of Any Action, And How To Use Them In Your Online Marketing Initiative,” “opportunity” is the first element of any action.

4. Higher conversion rates. Social media marketing results in higher conversion rates in a few distinct ways. Perhaps the most significant is its humanization element; the fact that brands become more humanized by interacting in social media channels. Social media is a place where brands can act like people do, and this is important because people like doing business with other people; not with companies.

Additionally, studies have shown that social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing, and a higher number of social media followers tends to improve trust and credibility in your brand, representing social proof. As such, simply building your audience in social media can improve conversion rates on your existing traffic.

5. Higher Brand Authority. Interacting with your customers regularly is a show of good faith for other customers. When people go to compliment or brag about a product or service, they turn to social media. And when they post your brand name, new audience members will want to follow you for updates. The more people that are talking about you on social media, the more valuable and authoritative your brand will seem to new users. Not to mention, if you can interact with major influencers on Twitter or other social networks, your visible authority and reach will skyrocket.

6. Increased Inbound Traffic. Without social media, your inbound traffic is limited to people already familiar with your brand and individuals searching for keywords you currently rank for. Every social media profile you add is another path leading back to your site, and every piece of content you syndicate on those profiles is another opportunity for a new visitor. The more quality content you syndicate on social media, the more inbound traffic you’ll generate, and more traffic means more leads and more conversions.

7. Decreased Marketing Costs. According to Hubspot, 84% of marketers found as little as six hours of effort per week was enough to generate increased traffic. Six hours is not a significant investment for a channel as large as social media. If you can lend just one hour a day to developing your content and syndication strategy, you could start seeing the results of your efforts. Even paid advertising through Facebook and Twitter is relatively cheap (depending on your goals, of course). Start small and you’ll never have to worry about going over budget—once you get a better feel for what to expect, you can increase your budget and increase your conversions correspondingly.

8. Better Search Engine Rankings. SEO is the best way to capture relevant traffic from search engines, but the requirements for success are always changing. It’s no longer enough to regularly update your blog, ensure optimized title tags and meta descriptions, and distribute links pointing back to your site. Google and other search engines may be calculating their rankings using social media presence as a significant factor, because of the fact that strong brands almost always use social media. As such, being active on social media could act as a “brand signal” to search engines that your brand is legitimate, credible, and trustworthy. That means, if you want to rank for a given set of keywords, having a strong social media presence could be almost mandatory.

9. Richer Customer Experiences. Social media, at its core, is a communication channel like email or phone calls. Every customer interaction you have on social media is an opportunity to publicly demonstrate your customer service level and enrich your relationship with your customers. For example, if a customer complains about your product on Twitter, you can immediately address the comment, apologize publicly, and take action to make it right. Or, if a customer compliments you, you can thank them and recommend additional products. It’s a personal experience that lets customers know you care about them.

10. Improved Customer Insights. Social media also gives you an opportunity to gain valuable information about what your customers are interested in and how they behave, via social listening. For example, you can monitor user comments to see what people think of your business directly. You can segment your content syndication lists based on topic and see which types of content generate the most interest—and then produce more of that type of content. You can measure conversions based on different promotions posted on various social media channels and eventually find a perfect combination to generate revenue.
These are the benefits of sustaining a long-term social media campaign, but if you’re still apprehensive about getting started, consider these points:
  • Your Competition Is Already Involved. Your competitors are already involved on social media, which means your potential social media traffic and conversions are being poached. Don’t let your competitors reap all the benefits while you stand idly by. If, somehow, your competition is not involved on social media, there’s even more of a reason to get started—the field is open.
  • The Sooner You Start, the Sooner You Reap the Benefits. Social media is all about relationship building, and it tends to grow exponentially as your followers tell their friends, and their friends tell their friends, and so on. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to start growing that audience.
  • Potential Losses Are Insignificant. Realistically, you don’t have anything to lose by getting involved in social media. The amount of time and money it takes to create your profiles and start posting is usually minimal, compared to other marketing channels. Just six hours a week or a few hundred dollars is all it takes to establish your presence.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

10 Reasons to Treat Employees as People Not Assets

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This post was originally posted on this site.

10 reasons to treat employees as people not assets

For many businesses, nothing is more important than the bottom line. It determines if the lights stay on or not. But there’s a hidden danger there: treating your employees as if they’re nothing more than cogs in a machine. Once you’re in that mindset, you’ll find yourself on the losing end of a long and hard battle. Why does it matter? I’ll give you ten good reasons.

1. They’re family to someone

It may have no bearing on your company, but your employees are someone’s mother, father or child. They mean something very dear to someone else. You likely have family or someone who cares about you, so you know how truly important each person is in the life of another. When you examine your relationship to your employees through this kind of filter, you’ll see them in a completely different way, one of respect and kindness. That’s the kind of treatment your employees deserve.

2. They are human

Even if you have employees who don’t have family, or at least none that you know of, they’re still human and deserve to be treated as such. They’re not just a number on a clipboard or an entry in an HR database. Those workers depend upon you as much as you depend upon them. If you want to enjoy a happy staff of employees, you most certainly should consider viewing them as human instead of profit generators.

3. You were once at the bottom

Unless you came from very special (or privileged) circumstances, you were once at the bottom of the corporate ladder. Remember how that felt? Remember wanting to be more than just a cog in the machine, greasing the wheels for someone else? Each of those employees could be the next “you.” In fact, they could wind up being your boss at some point.

4. Your reputation depends upon it

The world we live in is very, very small. The second word gets out that you treat employees as if they’re nothing more than a way for you to build your financial portfolio, your company could find itself on the bad side of a beast called “reputation.” You may scoff at this, but with Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites spreading information faster than most PR teams can keep up, every company is just one bad move away from ruin.

5. They aren’t slave labor

I hesitate to even add this, because slave labor does exist and needs to be abolished immediately, but in a world where corporate greed is used as an excuse for inhumane treatment of workforces, it needs to be mentioned. You cannot in any way treat your employees as if they are yours to command and conquer. Do not be this type of owner or manager. Period. Do not let your company, something you’ve worked so hard to build, turn into tragedy.

6. They could have your next brilliant idea

Your employees are the ones that work closely with your product or service. They know best what works and doesn’t work. You never know if one of those employees will develop the next idea that could easily take your product to unimaginable of levels of success. Treat employees as if they hold the key to an idea that could make your company more profitable.

7. If they leave…

For whatever reason, employees do leave. When they leave, they carry with them emotions, experiences, secrets, data and much more. If you treat them as if they’re nothing but your pawns, that could easily backfire. Yes, those employees have probably signed NDAs and other documents that would protect you in a court of law, but not in the court of public opinion. It’s that latter court which could quickly bring you to ruin.

8. They reflect your vision

If you’ve built your company correctly, your employees reflect and share the vision you have for the company and its future. With that in place, employees will work hard to ensure that vision is made real. If employees don’t reflect your vision and instead reflect nothing but your greed or mismanagement, your vision simply won’t come to fruition.

9. Karma

You may not believe in Karma, but many people do. But even if you don’t believe in this reference to the principle of causality, the idea that no bad deed goes unpunished is very real. This goes back to reputation and if employees leave. Every action you make could have an equal and opposite (or parallel) reaction. If you treat employees as if they don’t matter, karma could reach through the ether and slap you across your profit reports.

10. They are the reason you have a bottom line

To put it plainly and simply, without your employees you wouldn’t have a bottom line. Never forget that. Sure, you could just replace them, but what happens when the next round revolts and you have to replace them, too? Eventually you’re going to find you’ve spent more resources in training new employees over and over again than you have on improving profitability.
It shouldn’t have to be said that all companies, regardless of size, should see their employees as far more than just a way to improve the bottom line. Sadly, it is an idea (or ideal) that needs frequent repeating as many businesses still have not grasped this concept or have long forgotten about it. As you work your way up the corporate ladder, or as you reflect on how you’ve handled standing on top of that ladder all along, make sure you aren’t one of “those” leaders.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Developing an Annual Marketing Plan for the New Year

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Developing an Annual Marketing Plan for the New Year

This post was originally posted on this site.

Make your business New Year resolution to start the year with an integrated marketing plan that clearly outlines your business objectives and the marketing strategies and tactics you plan to use to achieve them

An annual marketing plan helps keep businesses on track with goals and objectives for the year and ensures that marketing opportunities and budgets are maximized. A solid annual marketing plan should be structured with a disciplined approach to reaching your business goals and objectives, yet flexible enough to adapt to changing market conditions and business opportunities throughout the year.

Start Annual Marketing Planning by Reviewing Previous Year Marketing Performance

Before you begin the annual planning process for the coming year’s marketing efforts, you’ll want to take a close look at how you performed over the current year. Even if you did not have a structured marketing plan in place previously, you should be able to review past marketing activities and results.
Here are some questions to ask when evaluating the performance of a previous annual marketing plan or year’s activities:
  • Did you achieve desired results from your marketing efforts (such as improved brand recognition, X number of leads generated or sales/revenue figures)?
  • Which specific marketing activities were effective?
  • Which specific marketing activities were not effective?
  • Should you reallocate resources to better performing targets, markets or marketing tactics?
  • Has your target market, audience or geographic area changed over the year?
  • Were you able to stay within a marketing budget at the end of the year?
  • What areas of your marketing budget do you need to cut costs in for the coming year?
  • What areas of your marketing budget do you want to invest more in for the coming year?
The answers to questions about your previous year’s marketing plan will play a big part in building an annual marketing plan for the coming year. Each year adjustments should be made to your marketing planning efforts that incorporate learning from the past – what works or what doesn’t work.

Develop Essential Components of an Annual Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is a written document that contains a business’ marketing strategies and tactics. The first step in developing an annual marketing plan is getting organized. Make a list of all the marketing components or categories that are important for your business.
(NOTE: See our Marketing Plan Templates below for free or low-cost planning tools to help you with the planning process)
Typical components in a marketing plan include:
  • Advertising (print and/or online)
  • Branding and Graphics (promotional giveaway items, photography, video production, graphic development)
  • Collateral (sell sheets, brochures, business cards)
  • Events (trade shows, webinars)
  • Direct Marketing (email, direct mail, list generation, promotional incentives/contests)
  • Public Relations (press release distribution, PR agency)
  • Research (focus groups, surveys, marketing reference books)
  • Social Media (social media networks)
  • Website (search engine optimization, web development/hosting)
Of course the actual components for your business may vary depending on your business, industry and marketing budget. The important thing is to identify all the potential components in your annual marketing plan so you can decide how you plan to address those components for your business. Even if you do not plan to allocate budget for a category – like social media – it should be included if you have any marketing efforts planned for the category so strategies and tactics can be outlined in an integrated planning approach.

Define Marketing Plan Strategies, Tactics and Budget

Once marketing components are outlined for the business, all potential strategies and tactics should be defined per category or component.
Here is an example of defining strategies and tactics for the “advertising” category:
Marketing Category: Advertising
Strategy #1 – Drive traffic to website via online advertising
Tactic # 1 – Google Adwords
Tactic #2 – Banner ads on industry association website
Tactic #3 – Internet yellow pages ads

Each tactic will also need to have an allocated budget, if applicable. The marketing plan should include fields to capture your allocated budget, actual spend and budget variance so that you can track throughout the year and make any adjustments needed. For example, if you are tracking under budget in one category you can shift funds to another category where you may be tracking over budget.

Flexibility to adapt an annual marketing plan throughout the year is important to adapt to a changing business environment and be “opportunistic” in marketing efforts. Be sure to take advantage of tracking mechanisms for marketing efforts whenever possible – such as unique 800 numbers or website analytic reports – so that you can make adjustments to maximize performance of campaigns (or dump marketing efforts that are not producing desired results). Goals should also be set for all areas of a marketing plan so that you can measure the performance of marketing tactics against business objectives.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Don't Think Your Business Doesn't Need A Website? Think Again....

Don't Think Your Business Doesn't Need a Website?

Brandy Vasquez, New Image Consulting
As a business consultant, I hear this question a lot.  Does my business really need a website? 
There are plenty of businesses out there that think no they do not need a website for their industry, line of work, or for whatever reason people may concoct to not have to go through the pain of building a website.  What I will tell you is this.  Do I, as a professional business consultant think you need a website?  Yes, yes I do.   But it's not just enough to have a website.  It's not about going on WordPress and creating a fly by night website.  If you are going to build a website, you have to build it to look professional.  So do you need a website, yes, but it needs to be done right.

Today's technological world requires that people interact online.  Almost anything and everything can be done online.  You need your driver's license renewed? Do it online.  You need to order flowers for your loved one?  Order it online.  You want to talk to a customer service rep about an issue but you don't want to call, chat online.  The way of direct communication and interaction has gone digital.  So why would you think you wouldn't need to follow the already placed model of online interaction with a website?

Great example.... let's say you decide to open up a dog grooming shop.  You have a nice store front, you spent serious cash on getting the place well equipped with the latest technology to ensure quality production.  You even create a Facebook page because a) you know how to do Facebook and b) you know Facebook is great exposure.  But in your rush to get things going, you decide Facebook is enough for an online presence and you do not need a website.  What do you think this says to people who are looking for a dog groomer online?  For one, your main competitor down the street has a website.  Not only does your competitor have a website, but she has a website with pricing, grooming tips, pictures of happy doggies, a place to book an appointment, and a social interaction portal.  Who do you think is going to get more online business?  You with your Facebook page or your competitor with their cool and very efficient website?  If you guessed the competitor, you are correct.  This is why... people want to know that they can trust who they do business with.  We all hate giving away our money and the last thing we want is to get screwed right?  So if you are going to go online and you see one company has a website, with pricing, information, etc... and another company only has a Facebook page, what seems more professional?  What does this say to the potential consumer?  

This is what a consumer thinks if you do not have a website or if you have a bad website:

1) This business is completely unprofessional and unreliable.

2) This business is either too cheap to put money into their business or too poor.  What does that say about the quality of the service they provide?
3) What is this business hiding?  By not having a website, I cannot research information on this company which seems shady to me. 
4) They don't have the information I need so I am going to go the the business that does.
5) Their website is horrible, I'm not going there.  It's too busy or outdated.

This list goes on and on.   In today's world with everything at our fingertips, people use the internet for practically anything. More than 20 million people shop online, and most people spend half their day logged into something.  And your missing the boat why?  Because you don't think you need a website?  Maybe you think it's going to be too expensive to build one?  Maybe you think having a crappy website is better than not having anything?

I am not going to say it will not cost money to properly build a website.  Whether you choose to go the CSS/HTML route or if you use a templated website like GoDaddy or Wix, you will have to pay something to have a good website with a solid URL. And it does require either skill or money to get your website displayed on a good web page.  SEO does not happen over night and their are methods behind the madness.  But is it worth it?  YES!!!  A business without a website is like a king without a crown.  It just isn't good business practice.  Your business means something to you.  There is a reason why you started the business in the first place.  One of the first things you should budget for is a website.  Your customers depend on it.  This is how they interact and Facebook will only take you so far.  Don't be THAT business.  Be your business and proudly display that online. 

 For more information on websites or for a free consultation, please visit our website at

Thursday, October 2, 2014

No Planning... No Money.... No Marketing... No Business!

By: Brandy Vasquez
New Image Consulting, LLC

Starting a business is not an easy task.  A good entrepreneur understands what it takes to start a business and make it successful.  Poor business planning will usually result in a failed attempt to own a business.  So why spend all your time and money at attempting to run a business if you are not going to do it correctly in the first place?

There are many reasons why a new business will fail; however, there are major key factors that will stop a business dead in it's tracks if the business owner does not know how to properly start a business.  So do you have what it takes to start a business and keep it going?

1) The most important piece any potential business owner should have before starting a business is a solid, detailed, and realistic business plan.  A business plan takes a business owner through steps to ensure a business will succeed. A business plan gives you an idea of the who, what, when, where, and why your business is a good idea and what it will take to grow.

2) The second most important piece to business is money!!!!  Starting a business is usually expensive.  Start up costs  can range in the thousands and until a business is profitable, a good business owner will need to make sure he or she has enough start up funds to keep the business going.  Many businesses fail within the first few months because they run out of money.  Understanding how much money you need to get the ball rolling and keep it going is very important and a fundamental piece in the business plan.

3) The third most important piece to business is marketing.  Without a solid marketing plan, your business will fail.  There are three major components of marketing.  The first component of marketing is understanding your brand, demographic, geography, and strategy of your market for branding and reach.  The second component of marketing is advertising. Advertising includes traditional methods of advertising (radio, television, newspapers, direct mail), new age marketing (websites, social media marketing, and SEO),  and marketing materials (business cards, fliers, graphic design, and other materials) to brand your business.  The third component to marketing is sales (sales people, ecommerce sites, etc...). 

When I speak to business owners about marketing I often here "I don't have time to market or sell my business", "I don't need marketing because I have a location", "I cater to a lot of people, nothing specific", "I don't have money for advertising", "I rely on word of mouth", "I use Facebook and Twitter to get the word out", or "advertising doesn't work".  As a professional marketer, when I hear people give me excuses on why they do not have a solid marketing plan, I laugh.  How on Earth do you expect your business to grow if you do not invest time or money into marketing your business?

Have you ever heard the saying from the movie Field of Dreams, "If you build it they will come?"  This is not the case in business.  Just because you rent a building and put up a sign, does not mean people will come flooding in your door by the thousands.  And just because you start a Facebook page or profile and friend 500 people, does not mean you are successfully marketing your business. As a matter of fact, most people on Facebook will NOT pay attention to what you have to say or offer unless you properly market your business on Facebook.... which takes time, money, and know how!  Remember, when I say marketing that means materials as well (like I said above in advertising).  You need marketing materials to present your business.  If your business does not have a website, logo, business cards, fliers, etc.... then you better find a way to accommodate for that.  And for traditional and new age advertising methods.... just look at advertising this way... if big box companies and corporations like McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Wal-mart spend millions of dollars a year on advertising, don't you think you should do what the big boys do?  There is a reason they are that big and there is a reason why they spend money in branding and advertising.  Advertising is designed to bring your business customers which turns into cash flow.  So why would you say no to that?  Now I'm not saying you need to spend a million dollars in advertising, but you will need to spend advertising dollars according to your marketing plan and budget.

All businesses who understand marketing and advertising will invest in branding.  You may wonder, just how much money should you invest in your business, and this is an excellent question.  A large company like Wal-mart has to stay large.  When they put together their marketing budget (marketing budgets are normally annual budgets) they have to factor in how much return on investment they will get for the money they spend.  Because they are so big, they have to invest in the millions to stay where they are.  However, for a company just starting out (that does not have millions of dollars to advertise) overspending in advertising would be silly.  If you cannot afford it or if your company is not big enough to keep up with the demand that advertising will create, then you have a problem.  So I tend to recommend spending anywhere between 10-20% of your gross sales for an advertising budget (this may vary depending on your cash flow, overhead, and costs to keep the business open).   This includes your marketing materials.  I like to tell my clients that if you are projecting to hit $100,000 in sales for a year, $10,000 is a good amount to spend on marketing and advertising.  JUST REMEMBER that marketing and advertising is supposed to be a good return on your investment.  Do not sink your money into advertising that does not work or make sense for your company.  For example if you are a lingerie shop and your key demographic is women, do not advertise on a sports channel (unless you are trying to target men specifically).

Even if you are starting a home based business like Avon, Mary Kay, or Pampered Chef, you need a marketing campaign and a plan of strategy for growth.  If you do not have start up money to properly market or advertise your business, then you may need to get your sales on and use gorilla marketing tactics.  What is gorilla marketing?  For a lack of a better word... sales.  Gorilla marketing is when you put your most comfortable pair of shoes on and go door to door with fliers and products in hand and sell to consumers.  Is it hard?  YES!!  Will you hate it?   YES!!  But if your business is that important to you and you do not have money to start a business, then this is a great way to get cash flow.

Speaking of gorilla marketing and sales, sales is a major component of marketing.  Believe it or not, sales and marketing go hand in hand.  Sometimes you get people who are sales heavy and sometimes you get people who are marketing heavy.  What does it mean to be heavy in sales or marketing exactly?  Well true marketing people are the creative thinkers and dreamers.  These are the people who understand branding, strategy, statistics, design, media buying, etc.  Sales people think more along the lines of money and closing deals to generate revenue.  However, they go hand in hand.  Without the ideas, understanding, and marketing knowledge from the marketing people, sales people may not have the materials and understanding needed to sell a great product or service to the right demographic of people. Also if your business in an internet based ecommerce business, you need marketing strategies like SEO to get people to your website so you can sell product.   It's a circle because they need each other.  Without marketing there is no selling, and without selling (cash flow) there is no marketing (or business).  If you are not a sales person but own a business, you may need to hire a sales person to sell for you.  But what if you can't afford to hire on a sales person?  Well that's simple.  Sales people are usually driven by money.  Create a commission plan and pay the sales person based on what they sell.  That way you are able to pay them as your business grows.  The more they sell, the more money they make, and so does your business.  It is a win-win (as long as you have a dedicated sales person willing to make sales).

4) Understand your operating goals and objectives is important!  Businesses will fail if you do not follow your business plan.  Why create a business plan if you do not intend to use it?  I get it, as a business owner you will get busy.  It is easy to put things aside while you are working.  Unfortunately letting goals and objectives fall through the cracks will break your business.  "In your planning process, create goals and objectives for your business. Break down goals and objectives by quarter – in other words, identify all of the things that must be done during the first quarter, the second quarter, the third quarter and the fourth.

Examples of specific goals could be for each month; revenue objectives, profit objectives, numbers of new customers, specific marketing and operational activities, etc, (R.H Williams, 2014)".

5) Finally be prepared for ANYTHING!!!  Business is ever-changing and you must be ready for the positives and negatives that may lie ahead.  For example, if you have a newspaper write about your business and all of a sudden you are so busy you can't keep up.... have a plan for that.  OR if your business is moving right along, picking up speed and suddenly sales STOP.  Be prepared for that.  Know your business and KNOW YOUR INDUSTRY!  You should know as a business owner busy months and slow months.  You should know what products are best sellers and what products will sit on a shelf for months.  You should know the ins and outs that make you the expert of your industry, otherwise don't be in that industry. 

I could keep going on for pages discussing business methods, the dos and don'ts, and the whys and why nots.  This is a good start to your success as a business owner.   If you need more information, then don't hesitate to ask!!

Check out my website at for more updates, stories, and information regarding business and what you can do to successfully run a business.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Makings of a Great Sales Person

Sales… people just hear this word and they automatically think either a job I would hate to have or people I hate to converse with.  And why is that one may ask?  Why do people hate salespeople and refuse to be put in a sales environment?  I can tell you that at times I get it.  I understand where people come from.  There is a simple reason why people hate the word SALES… because that’s what it is…. SALES. 

            I started my sales career at a very young age.  After going to dental assisting school and realizing that blood makes me queasy, I got my first real professional job with Farmers Insurance as an assistant.  After learning the insurance world, I moved to American Family Insurance where I became an agent with my property and casualty license.  I did this at the age of 18.  After a year of answering machines, hang ups and cuts from the white pages on my fingers, I moved to a different kind of sales with The Gazette.  I was invited into the world of call center sales. 

            I have been with The Gazette off and on for nine years.  In between my nine years with the Gazette, I was a Retail Sales Associate with Denver Mattress and a General Manger for American Laser Centers.  I came back to The Gazette because I missed the atmosphere, the comradery, and the fun at The Gazette.  I especially missed the training on how to be an accomplished salesperson here.  It’s different than any other sales position I have ever had.  So what makes a great salesperson?

            First of all, don’t call me a salesperson.  That is not what I do.  I do not sell people anything.  Not saying that what I do doesn’t come with a price, but I’m not selling products like other sales jobs.  I am creating, designing, and implementing marketing solutions that guarantee results for my client.  I am a marketing specialist, not a salesperson.  So what does this mean to my clients?  When I walk into an office as a marketing specialist, it means I am coming in with knowledge and expertise, not products.  I am not here to act like a “car salesman” and nickel and dime my clients.  No… I am here to listen to what you have to say, what your needs are, and how… as a consultant… I can make your life better as a business owner.  DO NOT CALL ME A SALESPERSON!!  I am a marketing specialist.  So as a business owner who has salespeople, I can tell you how to bring people in and train them to be consultants for your company.  I can tell you how to create partnerships, not sales, and I can tell you how to build a clientele base based on relationships and not a bottom dollar.  How do I do this?  It’s simple… by being human.

Here are my basic simple yet effective rules of being a great consultant:

10. Any consultant (A.K.A salesperson) must believe in the company and the products in which he or she is representing.  If you don’t believe in the company you are with, you will never be able to show the positives of what your company has to offer, and that is a waste of everyone’s time.

9. Any consultant must be confident and cool.  You must believe in yourself and express passion in what you do.

8. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?  Many consultants (A.K.A. salespeople) fall short of success because they are afraid to go beyond their comfort zone.  If you know you cannot get passed the fear, then this profession is not for you.  Besides part of the thrill is when you finally break through the fear and see success.

7. Be sincere!!!  Let me say this again…  BE SINCERE…. Nobody likes to be sold.  And when I say nobody, I really mean nobody.  The last thing people want is to be pressured by someone who talks a lot of game.  This is why car salesman have a bad rap.  Deep down, we know that they are in it for the money, not to help the customer out.  Be sincere… it’s not about making the bottom dollar.  It’s about helping a customer and winning them for life.  You show them that you are honest and really care about helping them; they will open up, break down that sales wall and let you in.  Some of the best sales people I know will tell you they have never sold anything in their life.  They have only assisted people in making their lives better.  What great advice!!!

6. Dress for success!!  Your appearance can make or break a sale.  This is because people judge you in the first three seconds they see you.  Now not to say you can’t be yourself.  Heck I’m out of the norm when it comes to professionalism, but I am professional nonetheless.  Your appearance says a lot about who you are.  This also means don’t try too hard either.  Believe it or not men…. Sometimes a tie can scare people.  Or the jacket may be a bit much.  Either way, make your appearance your own and dress for success.  No jeans allowed!!

5. Make the meeting about the customer!!  It’s always about the customer.  It’s not about you and your knowledge.  It’s not about what you know.  It’s about them.  This means if you are going into a meeting with a client DO YOUR RESEARCH… know their website, when they first started their business, and what they are all about.  And be inquisitive!! Ask questions about the business but also learn about the person you are talking to.  BE SINCERE!! Don’t ask questions to get ahead.  Ask because you sincerely want to know. 

4. Know what you are talking about!  You are the expert right?  So act like it.  Do not go somewhere unprepared.  You know the ins and outs of your business and every product you have to offer.  You should never come across a question where you have to say “I don’t know”.  You never say that!! Instead if they do ask a question that you don’t know, say “I will get that information to you as soon as I get back to the office”.  You are the expert; you better make sure you act like you are.

3. This is not a sales call, this is a conversation.  Do not go in expecting to make a huge sale on your first try.  Be grateful you got in.  So do not go in there trying to sell something right away.  THAT’S BAD, VERY VERY BAD.  The only time you do that is if the customer wants that.  Instead your first meeting is about a conversation.  It’s about getting to know the client and their needs. You cannot sell something to someone if you do not know what their needs are.  Can a car salesman sell you a car without talking to you first? No!!  Can a store associate help you find the right size shoes without talking to you first?  NO!!!  So don’t expect that you can read their minds and do that on the first try. 

2. Build the relationship!  This means making friends.  This means long term partnerships.  This means that you honestly care enough about the person you are talking to, to invest your time and efforts into their cause.  Some of my best clients are my closest friends.  They trust me and know that if I am going to bring something there way it is because I have their best interest at heart.  They know if I ask them to lunch it’s because I enjoy their company, not because I need to make an extra $$$ to hit my revenue goal for the month. 

1. BE YOURSELF!!!!  Let me say this again… BE YOURSELF!!!  I have been a top producing representative at The Gazette for a long time because I am nothing more than myself.  Don’t believe me?  Ask anyone at The Gazette who I am.  I am simply me.  I dress the way I want, I act the way I want, and I sell the way I want.  I sell by not selling.  And this makes me a successful sales person.  Sounds funny right?  It’s true though.  I am myself all the time and people respect that.  I am not coming in with strings attached.  What you see is what you get.  I am genuine, honest, and very caring.  I NEVER treat my clients like a sale.  I treat them like my friends.  And I am genuine about it. 

            I know that what I am showing you here is a bit unorthodox in the sales world.  But I’m telling you that I have been selling my heart out since I was 18 years old.  I am now 31 and I am still going strong.  So if you have a business with sales people that have a hard time pulling their weight… there could be a few reasons why.  Maybe they don’t have that special ability to sell or maybe they just don’t know how.  Either way, if you follow my steps and bring the human element back into the sales process, you may be surprised by the outcome. 

Brandy Vasquez

Monday, June 11, 2012

Using a QR Code Correctly

We all see them everywhere we go.  Most companies understand that they must have one.  I mean what an easy way for people to download and receive your website information right to their phone.  But there is a problem with these fantastic squares of downloading joy… if it is not done correctly, then people will not use the code. 

What is a QR code? Do most people know and understand what these fuzzy looking squares are all about?  Have you actually downloaded a QR code as a consumer? And if so what was your thought about the experience?
 This is a QR Code.  You see them everywhere!!  All you have to do is take a look. They are on signs, buildings, brochures, sites, vehicles, calendars, businesses, and everywhere else that may get your attention.  The object of the QR code is so the consumer can scan the code and receive your information quickly and effectively through their incredible smart phone.  Once they scan the code, then the consumer can tap into your website, receive information on upcoming events, check in to foursquare, like your Facebook page, enter to win prizes and much more.  The QR Code is an ingenious design for the person on the go, which… let’s face it is everyone.  Companies can even make a QR code look like logos, designs, change the color, and so much more.  There is so much you can do with this technological bundle of fun!!

Here is a great example of a QR code.  Pamela Hazelton is from eCommerce, Shopability & webOS.  She has a strong knowledge of QR codes and how they should be done effectively.  Here is a copy of her QR code.  Now go ahead and scan the code.  What do you see?  The QR code takes you to a very simplistic MOBILE website.  Yes I will say this again… MOBILE website.  What is a mobile website?  This is website designed to fit a phone.  If you maneuver in the mobile website on your phone, you can clearly see it moves up and down and fits on your screen.  Unlike a regular website that is not mobilized, it is simplistic and easy to use.  If you go to a regular website on a mobile phone, your scrolling up, down, left and right, the words are to small, and it is very hard to maneuver a large website on such a small screen.   What Pamela has done here is made the consumer experience easy and fast.  That’s what we want nowadays… easy and fast.  I cannot stress enough how much I HATE having to use my phone to look up sites and a company DOES NOT have a mobile website. YUCK!!!  This will 50% of the time make me get out of that companies site and look up another company that may have a more simplistic way of getting what I want.  You know what I am talking about don’t you?  I am not the only person out there that hates that.  I mean just think about it for a minute.  Think about the last time you used your phone to look up information on a company.  Try and Google a product, any product… let’s say shoes.  You can tell when a website has been mobilized.  The first site that popped up under shoes was shoedazzle.  They have a mobilized site.  Very easy to use, fits right on my phone and it’s convenient and fun. Now from there go and pick a local store that pops up underneath all the national websites. I chose Runners Roost Colorado.  This is a perfect example of a website that is not mobilized.  This website is small, unreadable, hard to maneuver and in my opinion irritating to use.  The fact of the matter is they should have a mobilized website and they don’t.   Now back to what this has to do with a QR code…


You should not create a QR code to scan directly to an non-mobilized website.  That is bad!!! Mobile websites, unlike big websites are quick to build and a lot less expensive to create and maintain.  The people here at the Gazette can get a mobile website set up for you with a QR code quickly and at an affordable cost!!

Now that you have seen a good example of a QR code that goes directly to a mobile site, here is an example of a nice looking QR code that does not go to a mobile site.  Go ahead and scan it.  What do you think about that?  It’s small and cluttered, hard to read and you lose interest right?  I mean a company spends money to make a cool QR code, but attaches it to a site that is not compatible with a phone?  That’s a big no no in my book. 

In this day and age, every business should have a QR code.  Every business should also have a mobile website.  If the majority of the world is looking up information on their phone more so than on a computer, don’t you think you should have a site that is compatible?  The Gazette practices what it preaches and has mobile websites for every site we run.  Go check out on your smart phone and see how our mobile site works.  It’s easy, convenient, and yes… fast.  So if this information intrigues you and you think you would like to have a mobile website, give us a call here at the Gazette.  We will be more than happy to assist you in that.  In the mean time, do some research and scan QR codes when you see them.  Check to see what other companies are doing and how, as a consumer, you feel about the way that company is marketing their business.