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10 Steps to a Better '_______' Business

By Bob 'Idea Man' Hooey |

The following ideas have proven effective for the enhancement of ‘any’ business. Fill in the ‘__________’ with your field, and apply accordingly. However, since I am in the speaking and training business, I will share ideas based on what I am learning in my quest to make what I do more productive and more attractive to my potential clients. Ideas to make sure I stay competitive in this growing field. I am sure you will be able to see how you can apply them to your specific areas of concern.

Use client testimonials:
People hire speakers and trainers based on several factors: They have heard us speak personally; someone they trust has heard us; or another speaker or client has heard us and says nice things about what we did for them. They do not hire on the basis of a cold call. They may if the timing is correct, but will still go back to one of the above three factors as a part of their decision process. This applies to any business format, and is important, as it helps minimize the risk factor in the decsion process to engage or do business with us. How can you ensure your clients talk about what you've done for them? How do you get them to do so?

Two points:
1) Do a simply outstanding job and keep in touch afterwards – remember out of sight out of mind and;
2) Ask them to give you feedback on what you did and how it affected or assited them in their business. Ask for quantified answers, if you can get them, as they are more effective tools. Ask permission to quote!

Make your website a resource:
If you are not already on line, you are in a positon to be be left behind in your potential client's mind. The internet is beginning to replace the yellow pages as a form of research for client use. And it is also becoming a source of credibity as well as visibility. Start with making sure you are on line and that your website covers the basics: Who you are?; What you do?; What you offer?; What do ‘real' people say about you (client testimonials)? Then move into the process of making your website a resource base that people will want to put on their favorites and return again and again. Have some articles or tips that will help us. Include some inspiration. Give me more information on the behind the scenes workings of your business or services. We've been working to do just that! For example we are revamping our Articles Page into ‘A Creative Collection of Wisdom and Writing.' I invited some of North America's top experts and speakers to share their wisdom and will keep adding over the years.

If you visit my IDEAS AT WORK site ( you'll see some of these examples; with my downloadable articles, my Business Enhancement Success Tools, and my click on the program title for full progam details. I've found this to be on of the most productive things I've done to assist my potential clients in the last five years.

The majority of my promotion directs people to my site, as it is a great sales tool. In the past year, with all its turbulance, my website has accounted for more than 40% of my new clientelle.

Build rapport with clients...teach or provide something new:
I got my start in the speaking business when I was a kitchen designer, by offering in-house and continuing education programs to assist my potential clients in their quest for a better kitchen. Along the way I wrote, “How to Remodel Your Kitchen & Stay Married!” as a tool to help them prepare and survive the marriage stretching kitchen rennovation.

In any business, we are more successful when percieved as value- added or solutions-oriented. Make sure they see that you are there to help them and are committed to their success. I often thank my clients for allowing me to be a part of their success team in their training program or conference. It is a statement of commitment on my part and a reminder to me to always seek to add value and build on the relationship. Hey, and it helps with the referrals as well.

Promote your delivery timelines and other uniquenesses:
Do you have something special you do in relation to how quickly you can respond, a service, or deliver on a request? Is there a way to capitalize on something you do and do consistently well. Remember the Domino's Pizza lesson in revamping the Pizza delivery concept. Are you available to fill-in for a speaker who cannot make it, can you market to your local convention market on this basis? Might not be a bad idea to become known to the local convention market and hotels with convention space. They often get asked for referrals! And if they know you, they might just promote you!

Co-promote with strategic alliances:
Our global enconomy is getting more competitive on an hourly basis. If they don't know you, how will they find you? And how will they know to hire you? This is a challenge that faces every type of business professional, in that they must find an effective way to get thru the overload of ‘messages' bombarding their potential clients, tell their stories, and entice or inspire them to make contact. Working together is a tool that is underutilized.

One of the interesting things is seeing former competitors joining forces to co-promote where previously they would not have even said good morning. This can be a very effective tool as you get to know other professionals in your field and what they offer. As speakers, I have found that ‘speakers promote speakers' and have had specific referrals that have turned into speaking engagements. Who in your industry might promote you?

I've also had the privilege of being able to do the same for fellow speakers within CAPS and NSA, and do gladly when I know they will do a good job for the client. Again, it is a matter of referral based on professionalism in the field. On a simply accounting point of view it makes promotional work feasible as well.

Speakers work together to produce co-op newsletters, Web-sites, advertisements in Meeting planner guides, brochures, boot camps, and anthologies which can be a nice augment to your product offering as well.

A new idea would be to work together with other speakers or business owners for a CD-Rom business card or resource program that can be used by each one.

Sell an inexpensive introductory product:
If you are in a position that you have a product line, make it easy for people to start dealing with you. Find something that they will enjoy using and get them on your client list. Perhaps you can also offer something for free to get them hooked?

Use business discussion and news groups:
These internet based groups are a source of business research and if you are careful a source of subtle self promotion and awareness. A word of caution here, don't be overtly commercial as it will backfire on you big time!

Personalize with your picture:
People like to deal with real people. Even if your business is internet based, they like to know that there is a real person or persons behind the product or service they acquire from you. Include pictures of your staff and don't be afraid to show them your human side too. As speakers and trainers especially, we are in the personal services business. Make sure it is a current picture and that it shows you smiling. Afterall, they want to be able to recognize you when you walk off that plane. Personalize your business – you'll be glad you did!

Up-sell to all of your clients...add on, premium, extras, related items:
This is one of the three success secrets of generating additional business and increasing your bottom line. Design what you offer so you can provide a choice of at least three levels: good, better, best and then offer it to each client.

Don't be afraid to ask for the order and the upgrade….remember a simple…'would you like fries with that?” has made MacDonald's very profitable. Look for ways to add other items to your product or service mix that will be a benefit to your clients. Can you offer consulting, facilitation, team training, executive debriefing sessions, panel moderation, company spokesmanship or multiple sessions that save your clients additional airfare and expenses? If so, then offer them!

Bonus: Ask for referrals:
Here is the business building secret of superstars in sales, and in every field of business. “Who else do you know that would benefit or be interested in what I offer? Why is we often work dilligently to get their business and then, after we have knocked their socks off with our superb execution, that we fall short of asking them to share us with those they know and care about? Ask, and ye shall receive!

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