Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Build a Sound Marketing Plan for Your Small Business

www.AllBusiness.com is a great site to find marketing (and other ideas). Listed below is a great article on marketing...and I can't stress enough that you NEED to market! You can't just sit in your home office and think that people are going to "find" you on the Internet of that your favorite RE is going to send you all his clients. You need to do the work! Get started!


How to Build a Sound Marketing Plan for Your Small Business

Not unlike a business plan, a marketing plan can play an important role in the success of your small business. While the plan is primarily for your own purposes, it should include:

*Your products and/or services
*Your demographic audience
*Methods of selling
*Your budget
*Your geographic market
*Your competition and your competitive edge
*An overview of the marketing tools available: Media outlets, PR possibilities, community activities, conferences, potential speaking engagements, and so on.

The final objective of your marketing plan is to define who you are trying to reach, what you are selling, how you will reach this audience, and how much it will cost to do. You will then devise a means of communicating your message to your audience.

Just as you do in your business plan, you will need to pull the many pieces together to demonstrate how you will reach your target audience. For example, if your plan is to increase the sale of your brand of healthy popcorn to a teen market, you might show how you will distribute samples at school activities, sponsor a series of events for teens, and propose articles on the health benefits of your popcorn to teen-oriented magazines and Web sites.

Within your marketing plan show how you will use diverse methods to get your message across, including different forms of media, product samples, sponsorship and so on. Also, maintain a level of marketing at all times. During slower seasons you may just want to keep your brand in front of your audience, while in busier seasons you will need a more aggressive approach. Define such a strategy in your plan.

As a small business, you can make a big impact by seeking out media that appeal to your niche market. Keep in mind that marketing is a long-term effort and slow and steady typically wins the race — or in this case, the customers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

6 Tips for Successful Networking

I feel like now is the time to at least take a look at networking. Maybe you have told quite a few people what you are planning to do...open an agency. That is NOT considered networking...at least not in a major way. You are a 'service based' business. No matter where you go and what you are doing YOU ARE NETWORKING. I don't mean that you have to wear lipstick and heels to the local Albertsons or Safeway but you never know when someone will ask you what do you do. Being confident, observant, friendly and having that business card on hand really is a start. Networking at the ASRM conference is easier because you do have a target audience there. Putting yourself 'out there' again and again is how you are going to build your business whether by phone or in person and knowing these 6 tips really will help. Again I am looking at www.morebusiness.com. (I like to give credit where credit is due!)

Sharon LaMothe
LaMothe Services, LLC

6 Tips for Successful Networking
Here are some networking tips that could help you have a little bit of fun, as well as generate more business and profits for your small business.
Radiate Confidence

Even if you are shy or nervous, keep your poise and have a confident attitude as you walk into any meeting or conference. This will attract others. As you do so, you need to be prepared to carry on an intelligent discussion.
Study what is going to be discussed during the meeting. When people understand that you are serious about participating in the discussions in a meaningful and useful way, they will respect you and seek you out.
Do Not Dismiss Small Talk
Small talk is a vital part of business communications. By making small talk, you will make other people feel comfortable in your presence, and also slowly build up a level of trust with them.
You can start your sales ‘pitch’ after you have come to know something about the likes and dislikes of the other person. Serious discussions and negotiations will eventually be conducted, but small talk has its place in interactions between business people.

Observe the Other Person

When you are talking with other people, observe their reactions and their body language. You might find that a particular person is more interested in hearing details about you and your small business. You can then focus on that person, since you will have already captured their interest.
This strategy will save you from wasting time on people who are not interested in your company or your products. Limit the amount of time you spend trying to convince someone, before you move on to the next group or person.
Wasting your time on someone who is clearly not interested in what you have to offer will only leave you with less time to converse with others.
Keep Your Business Card Ready
You should not give your business card to each and every person, but you should give it to anyone who displays even the slightest potential of becoming a customer.
Follow-Up Is Important, Too
Call, email, or fax the people you’ve had a good interaction with during your meeting. This will indicate to the other person that you enjoyed meeting him or her, and that you are now interested in conducting serious business.
Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
Do not be afraid of what the other person might think about you. You can expect to have a few misses before you find an approach that works. Until then, keep on trying and attend as many networking events as you possibly can so that you can meet a wide variety of people. A few setbacks should not stop you from meeting new and interesting people that can help advance your business goals.
Use the above tips to better networking, and you will turn into a networking specialist in no time. In addition to getting increased business, you might also make some new friends - and it is this combination that makes networking fun and profitable.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The First Step~Considering Your Business Choice

So you have been a surrogate or Intended Parent and think that you can do just a good a job as the other professionals that assisted you with your surrogacy journey. (or not...you could have been an Independent and feel that others can learn from your mistakes or your success) you have friends who come to your for advice and childless couples who ask if you know anyone that would consider carrying for them. You can do this kind of "connecting 2 and 2" and actually make 4, however that is not all the ingredients needed to have your own surrogacy business or ANY business for that matter.
I am going to use this section of my blog to spoon feed potential new agency owners. Some of my advice is from making a success of Surrogacy Consultants of Florida, LLC and the mistakes that were made as well. (I hate to admit mistakes but if it will help YOU...)
Lets start with the basics. Do you have the business plan, money, ambition, time, compassion, connections, education, experience, flexibility, ability to network and the support from those around you? A 'NO' answer to any of these things sends the first red flag! Do you know the first people who suffer when you start a service based business like a surrogacy/egg donation agency? Your Family! Your Children! Something to think about. Unless you are doing this matching 'thing' at your own expense I suggest you don't expect to get your first pay check for a year or more. The business comes first and therefore any money coming in at first must feed the business. (more on that later).
I really am NOT trying to talk you out of this wonderful enterprise. Being an agency owner is fulfilling, exciting, a wonderful way to meet great people and work with others who have the same goals and desires BUT it is a commitment. And that's the first step....
Sharon LaMothe
LaMothe Services, LLC

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lessons From The Wizard of Oz: by Will Craig

Most of us are familiar with the story of Dorothy and the friends she meets on her way to find the Wizard. The Scarecrow who felt he lacked a brain; the Tin Man who didn’t think he had a heart; and the Cowardly Lion who wished he had courage.

The Wizard (a man whose heart was in the right place but whose ethics needed some work) actually exercised some effective coaching skills at the end of the story.

For each of Dorothy’s three friends, he fostered a sense of belief that they, indeed, had those things they sought so desperately. He convinced the Scarecrow he was smart by giving him a diploma. The Tin Woodsman received his gift from the Wizard and knew he now had a heart because it was breaking. The Cowardly Lion became instantly courageous when he received his medal for bravery.

Believing in Yourself

When Dorothy saw her friends all get what they wanted she was in firm belief she could certainly have what she wanted. Glynda, the Good Witch, had Dorothy repeat, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…

Each of them, as it turns out, already had inside of them the answers they were seeking. Ironically, they had the potential and the ability to grant their own desires from the very beginning. The only thing missing was belief.

The beauty of The Wizard of Oz is that we are all able to identify with the characters and their challenges along life’s path. Doesn’t it make you think of the fantastic life you could have if you really believed you could?

Sharon LaMothe
Infertility Answers, Inc.
LaMothe Services, LLC