Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Archive for July 2008

Blocking the Writer’s Block

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Many of us have been there.  We have to write something on deadline.  Sometimes it’s on a topic that just doesn’t excite us.  Sometimes, we like the topic, but for whatever reason, the literary gods of inspiration are denying us.

The deadline’s approaching.  What do you do?  What will you do?

My suggestion is to read, take a walk, and drink.  In that order.  Let me explain.

I like reading.  I love knowing what other people have to say.  Thankfully, today we have one incredible resource at our fingertips in the Internet.  Call up your favorite search engine and type in keywords related to your topic.  Start reading what others have already said about your topic.  Don’t steal their ideas!  Just read about the topic and explore the different angles those authors have taken.  Typically, these Internet articles have links to other topics and ideas.  Follow the links down the rabbit hole.  Explore new topics.  Read the fresh perspectives.  Read read read.

But remember, you’re on deadline.  Once you’re gotten a good base in your head, take a walk.  Think about what you read.  Think about different angles people have taken on your topic.  Think about your own experiences and how they may differ from what you read.  Take mental notes which might only be free form thoughts, but may also serve as jumping off points to help get the creative process started.

And drink.  I’ve found things with sugar and caffeine in them to work the best.  Stay away from alcohol.  You’re no Ernest Hemingway.

What’s worked when you’ve been besieged with Writer’s Block?  Ever been forced under deadline to have to find your way through the Block and still deliver the goods?

Wanted: Salesmen. Salesmen need not apply.

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Sales. That is one dirty word.

Everyone hates salesmen. Thanks to poor depictions of the vocation from Hollywood and our own first-hand experiences with that sleazy, only-out-to-make-a-buck sales rep, just the mention of the title turns what would normally be a potential customer into someone with full defenses up.

And what do these salesmen do for a living? Of course! They sell. And it’s called sales. It all gets lumped into that ‘hate to think about it’, ‘wouldn’t want to do it for a living’, ‘have no use for it’ pile of unmentionables.

But consider this…what business could survive without a sales effort? Look around you. Everything you see has been sold at some point. Sometimes more than once before it reached you. Without the sales effort, business today would cease to be.

So, how do you sell without selling? After all, as the adage goes…people like to buy, but they don’t like to be sold. Surely, there is no shortage of books, tapes, videos, and other media available that answers exactly that question. But since this is my blog, here’s my take on it.

I don’t sell because I’m not a salesman. But my business would not survive if I don’t sell. On a daily basis, I put myself out there. I believe in me, I believe in my business, and I believe that I can help others. In fact, I believe that so much, that to be around me, you will see that I have one quality that I think people buy into.

I have passion.

I’ve written about passion before. I believe it is the basis of making sales without selling. When you believe in you and your abilities, when you believe in your company, then that’s contagious. On the flip side, when you don’t, who would want to buy into you?

If you have the passion, then get out there and get in front of people. Talk to them about what they need and what you do. If you don’t feel like you have that passion and drive, then maybe it’s time to invest in yourself and find that position that will open yourself up for passionate living.

Written by Jeff York

July 20, 2008 at 12:52 am

I’ve got a website. Now what?

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Who needs a website anyway?

Ask any marketing person today and they will say if you’re in business, you need a website. Why? First, all of your competitors have one. If for no other reason than to be on the same level as them, you need one.

So, all you need to is plant your virtual flag into the cyberground, toss up a page with your name on it, and you’re done…right?

Sure! Do the bare minimum. Expect the bare minimum. Want more? Do more!

Today, busy professionals use every tool at their disposal to find out which companies are worth doing business with. Who are the cream of the crop? Who is worth their time? One of the most accessible tools today is the Internet. Look up their website. How’s it look. In a brief period of time, can you get an excellent sense of who they are, what they do, and exactly what they can do for you? If not, try Googling someone else.

Let’s say you’ve put together a nice website. The content is clear to understand. You’ve got pretty pictures. Now what?

Have you asked your website what else it can do for you?

Let’s say your website has a well written paragraph on your front page. Do your visitors want to read it? Or would it be better to have a video where your CEO can invite people into the site to explore and interact? Is your navigation consistent and intuitive? What else can your website do for you?

Time to visit your website and look at it critically. Maybe it’s time to visit your competitor’s websites as well. What are they doing that’s different and memorable? Are they gaining a leg up on your company through superior web branding? Do the websites have returnability because there’s frequently updated worthwhile information?

What do you perceive as goals for your website? What have you accomplished through a web presence that perhaps your office/store location haven’t been able to do on its own?

Written by Jeff York

July 12, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Who are you?

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If you’re a small business owner, you often have to grapple with ways in which to grow your business.  You want to attract the largest number of customers as possible without growing too fast and becoming a victim of your own success.  You might be faced with the temptation to expand your company’s core business to offer more services and more products to attract even more customers.

A smart move?  Maybe, but consider this…who are you?  What do people know you today as?

Before you start diversifying into new offerings, consider the confusion that this can cause with your current customer base.  Will your new lines make your existing customers think you’re going to be leaving them behind?  Is your new production complementary to your existing offerings or is to something completely different?  How will you be able to position your company that makes all your offerings a complete package?  If you’re not having this conversation with your marketing department/company before going down this road, you might be setting yourself up for problems with brand confusion and lost identity.

Just more food for thought…

Written by Jeff York

July 6, 2008 at 4:40 am