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Is the Election Killing Small Businesses?

how politics affects small business | BIGG SuccessWe were chatting with a media executive recently who made an unsurprising observation: Business is great, thanks to the election.

Since we’re always trying to gauge the state of the entrepreneurial economy, we asked: Are small businesses advertising?

We found the answer to be both intriguing and sad: For the most part, they can’t afford to.

Ads are selling at a premium due to demand. Most small businesses can’t afford the current rates.

Promoting one job or many?

The political process is squeezing them out. That may not make much of a difference in an economy experiencing slow growth, but what about elections during boom times?

Political ads help one person get a job – be it a local, state or national office. When a small business promotes, it may lead to tens, hundreds or thousands of them.

Should it affect the timing of your startup?

More importantly, this conversation also made us think about a common question. We’re often asked: When is the best time to start a business?

Our answer has been: There really isn’t one. You can make the case for starting up in just about any market.

Some of the biggest success stories were started in a recession. Others started in a boom. Still others started in between the two.

However, this conversation made us think about something we had never given much thought to before:

If you rely on major media to get the word out for your product or service, you may want to start in a year with no elections. And you may especially want to avoid a Presidential election year.

What do you think? Is the political process killing small businesses? Should you consider this when starting up?

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Branding Like a Black Belt

pay-offToday we were thrilled to visit with Jim Bouchard on The Bigg Success Show. Jim is a professional speaker, coach and the author of the great book, Dynamic Components of Personal Power. He has also been inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame and has become one of our personal friends. He’s with us today to talk about how to Think Like a Black Belt! Let’s get to the conversation …

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marylynn
Welcome back to The Bigg Success Show, Jim! We’re bigg fans of yours!

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jim_bouchard
I love you guys!

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marylynnIt’s been awhile since we’ve talked. We want to chat with you today about some of the things you’ve been doing with your brand and get some tips on how to think like a black belt.

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jim_bouchardOne of the things about thinking like a black belt is that sometimes you have to be ready to change in the ring. You have to change according to what your opponents are throwing at you. We started to realize that, while Dynamic Components of Personal Power is certainly an important statement, it was difficult to explain to people or it required an explanation. People would say, “What is that?” Actually I have to tell you that this was a high level marketing and branding meeting. There were three of us sitting around. My wife, Alex, said, “You know what you really do. You just teach people how to think like a black belt. Why don’t you just start saying that?”

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marylynn
She’s a smart cookie!

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jim_bouchardYes, she is! That is what I do – teach people to think like a black belt. Dynamic Components is certainly a part of that, but there are some other characteristics of the black belt mindset as well. So the rebranding worked. It took off. When you have a brand that’s in synergy with your message and it has a strong sense of symbolism, people get it. A powerful brand is simple enough so people get it without having to think too much. Think Like a Black Belt is really taking off. People understand it – from CEOs to general audiences. Most people say that they want to think like a black belt.

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marylynnIt’s very sexy. Maybe I can’t physically be a black belt, but you can teach me how to think like a black belt. Now that’s something I can do.

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jim_bouchardI thought you were going somewhere else there. Because it is sexy. I’m sexy!

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george
Are you too sexy for that shirt, Jim?

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marylynn
He’s too sexy for his black belt!

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jim_bouchardYou’re right, though. That’s a good word for it. Your brand has to appeal to people. We can overcomplicate it sometimes, can’t we?

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marylynnYes we can. That’s why I think this is a good thing to talk about with you. So many people are building their own brands now. I think it's important that we don't over-complicate our branding and get in the way of the message.

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jim_bouchardExactly. And well-intended, but trying to brand yourself, or brand a business or title a book, it’s like naming a band. It’s hard. Part of the process is to just get out there and test it. Don’t be afraid to try something. And don’t be afraid to change. You have to have some flexibility.

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marylynnWe changed our tag line for Bigg Success several months ago. We were at a conference and Lorelle VanFossen, the wonderful woman behind the Lorelle on WordPress blog, was asking people what their tag lines were. Then she called people out if it didn’t make sense or if it didn’t tell you anything. We worked around the table and our tablemates said that “the how-to, can-do place” didn’t tell them anything. So it made us realize that we needed to figure out how we let people know what we’re trying to accomplish so they can get it just by coming to the site and seeing it.

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jim_bouchard
There it is.

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georgeToo add to that, Jim … “Think Like a Black Belt” has five words in it. Bigg Success is “life on your own terms”. That’s five words as well. But the thing is … they both convey a benefit. “Think Like a Black Belt” – I instantly see a benefit of listening to what you have to say. That’s also important as we’re thinking about our brands and how we describe them. Make sure it’s benefit-oriented. Make sure you’re telling someone what they’re going to get out of it.

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jim_bouchardOh, exactly. See, I always loved your brand “Bigg Success”. I was drawn to that right away. What do I want? I want bigg success!

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georgeWell, by definition, Bigg Success has to be a bigg success. It’s just a self-fulfilling prophecy! It keeps the pressure on us!

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jim_bouchard
No retreat, no surrender!

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marylynn
Any other words of wisdom for people building their brands?

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jim_bouchardI was talking with somebody yesterday. His name is Dr. B. He had some great insight. We were talking about how the “Think Like a Black Belt” brand had morphed and the Black Belt Mindset theme. He said, “You know, that works because it’s in perfect alignment with who you are and what your message is.” That’s really important. Whatever you’re bringing out there, that public face has to be in line with your heart.

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georgeIt’s work that’s much too hard – building a business, building a brand – to not be something that you just love.

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jim_bouchardRight, and you have no right to expect anyone else to respond to it. There’s a big problem with branding, with advertising and with business in general. People say, “Build it and they will come.” No way! You have to build it. You have to maintain it. You have to cut the lawn, water the plants, and wash the windows. You’ve got to do all that stuff. And you have to make sure that people know about it. You can’t just expect people to come to you because you have something of quality. I don’t have expectations for anybody; that’s not my privilege. It’s my responsibility to go out there and tell people what I’m doing and make sure that the message gets out there.

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george
That’s a great way of looking at it!

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jim_bouchard
There’s that dirty word again, though. Responsibility.

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george
That’s part of being a black belt, right?

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jim_bouchard
You’ve got to take responsibility for your own success, that's it!

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Next time, we’ll continue our conversation with Jim. He’ll tell us how to set goals like a black belt. Please join us! Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00458-081209.mp3

Related posts

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Is Passion Overrated?

What is Your Thing?

(Image in today's post from jimbouchard.org)

How to Chase Away Your Website Visitors

running_awayMost businesses and non-profit organizations have a web site by now. Good thing since more and more people are searching online for services instead of using the phone book.

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There’s a lot of advice about how your website should look. It’s important to pause to realize …

It's the experience that counts the most!

Just like in the bricks-and-mortar world, people value the experience.

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marylynnI've had two bad user experiences recently. The first one has to do with a local not-for-profit organization for which I volunteer. I produce the audio for the radio and television commercials that promote the event. The commercials mention a web address to get more information. However, that address takes you to the organization's national website. I spent ten minutes trying to find the page with information about our local event.

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george If memory serves, Mary-Lynn, you told me that you saw a link, “Find your local event.” But it directed you to sign up or log in to get more information.

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marylynnRight! It’s crazy. I shouldn't have to sign up to simply get information. Regardless, I finally recovered my user name and password. Then I logged in, but I still haven't found the local page. I ran out of time and will have to go back.

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george People who aren’t as invested as you probably wouldn’t put that much effort into finding the local information. Worse yet, they may never go back to the site.

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Tip #1: Create a landing page specific for what you are promoting.

Make it easy for people to find the information they want. For example, our local branch could have a page that ends with the name of our city. They could set up an address like this: nameoforganization.com/champaign.

That's a landing page. It’s the address you want to promote to people in your area for information about your local organization – especially when you’re using local TV, radio, or the newspaper.

Here's another example for a business: If you are promoting a deal, use a web address like one of these:

yourbusinessname.com/deal

yourbusinessname.com/summersale

Create your landing page in advance. It can reiterate the most important points of your advertisement and provide more information. Also provide links to your home page and any other pages that people interested in this promotion might find useful.

Integrating your offline marketing with online marketing makes all your marketing more productive. It’s a time-tested strategy. If visitors to your site get the information they want quickly, they’ll be more likely to take the time to visit other areas of your site.

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marylynnThe second bad experience occurred when I read an article online about a local tech series that is free and open to the public. The article was on our local newspaper's website. It gave details on the upcoming session and offered a link to the organization's website to get more information on all of the sessions in the series.

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george So you went to the website to find out more information, and I remember hearing a … how should I describe it … a frustrated sigh coming from you.

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marylynnThat’s a good way to say it. I was frustrated because I couldn't find anything about the series. I clicked on several page links, including their events link. Nothing. I used their search tool to search for the name of the event. Still nothing. Finally I went to their calendar and typed in the exact date. The first session in the series came up. It contained the same information that was in the article. Nothing further about the entire series. I was planning to put all of the dates on my calendar. I guess I’ll have to call them.

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Tip #2: Make it easy to find the information you promote.

If you want people to know about your events, make it easy to get that information. Especially if your event is getting press!

Create a page like we suggested above. If you prefer to link people to your home page, create a link and highlight it so people can find it quickly and easily. For example, in the case we mentioned above, you could highlight it this way:

"Tech series starting in August"

Make it very visible on your site. When people click on that link, it will take them to the page you've created with all the information about that event.

Your site is an excellent tool to compliment your other marketing efforts. But if you don't make it easy for people to find what you’re promoting, they won't participate in your sale or event.

Prepare your web site for visitors before you advertise or send out a press release. That will help make your campaign a bigg success!

Do you have any tips from your bad user experiences? Or maybe a good experience combining your web site with traditional media? Share that with us by leaving a comment below, calling us at 888.455.BIGG (2444) or e-mailing us at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com.

Thanks so much for reading our post today. Please join us next time when we’ll discuss artificial dissemination. Yes, you read that right! Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00442-072109.mp3

Related posts

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(Image in today's post by woodsy)

Critical Keys to Business Success – Part 2

success Today we continued our discussion with Deb Neuman, host of the Back to Business Radio Show. Last time, Deb shared four of her keys to business success, which all happen to start with the letter “P”. Today, she will share her final three. Let’s get back to the conversation …

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People

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marylynnSo far we’ve discussed Passion, Product, Persistence, and Planning. Now Deb, you say we have to think about People – surround yourself with people whose strengths are your weaknesses.

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debAnd look beyond your friends, family, and significant other. They are important people to have on your team, but you want to have other people who can be objective, who don’t have any emotional ties to you as well.

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marylynnOften, to get someone to take care of a weakness, you have to pay them to do that. If you don’t have any money, what is the answer then?

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debA lot of people barter. I have a friend who is a massage therapist who needed help building the web site for her business. So she and the web designer now trade services. The web designer gets massaged and doesn’t even have to pay for it … he’s happy! A side note to that – check with your accountant to make sure you’re accounting for it properly when tax time comes up. A lot of people I know really enjoy helping small businesses. They may be an accountant or an attorney. They’re looking for new businesses as future clients. Sometimes they’re willing to give you a few hours of service at no charge or give you a reduced rate. They recognize that, if they help you get your business started, you’re likely to become a future customer for them. Talk to other business owners and see who they’re using as providers.

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Promotion

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georgeNext up on the list is something that many business owners are cutting back on because of the tough economic climate – Promotion.

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debI just did some research into The Great Depression, what businesses survived, and how they did it. Some of the businesses that made it through the depression very successfully include Procter & Gamble, Camel cigarettes of all things, Kellogg, and Chevrolet. What they all had in common is that they scaled up their advertising during The Great Depression. They stayed visible in the minds of consumers and they were able to continue to do business throughout the depression even though people were spending less money. And when the economy did turn around, and it always does eventually, they had customers loyal to their brand. So now is not the time to stop promoting your business. Now is the time to kick it up a notch because people still have money to spend. They may spend less of it and they may be more choosy about where they spend it. But if they don’t know you’re out there, you’re not even going to be considered. Few of us have the resources to just advertise here, advertise there, and just throw money around that’s not going to pay back. So you really need to sit down and identify who your customers are. Be specific. Are they men or women? What age range? What kind of profession? Where are they? What are they reading? What are they listening to? What are they looking at online? Then think about how you can best reach them. Successful promotions, marketing, and advertising don’t mean you buy an ad in the newspaper and run it once. It has to be a long term plan and commitment.

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Positive Attitude

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george
So the last “P” on your list is Positive Attitude.

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debYou just have to maintain a positive attitude, through thick and thin. That reflects on your employees. Your customers know it. I just heard from a colleague of mine who went into a retail store. She said she’d never go there again because the owner of the store was in a really bad mood, griping about the economy. She said that she wasn’t there to hear all of that. She was there to have a nice experience. It really turned her off.

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marylynn
Because shopping is my escape. This is me trying to stimulate the economy, so relax!

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georgeRight now, not just for entrepreneurs, but any leader … it seems like we’re hearing such dismal news from so many of our leaders from the highest levels in the country to the biggest businesses. And I think, in many cases, small business owners are buying into it and people don’t want to follow someone who doesn’t have a better vision for the future.

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debExactly. I’m seeing businesses, some who’ve decided to close, but others who are planning and taking a different approach. They’re being very creative about it. They’ve said that this is forcing them to not be lazy. When things are good, they do whatever they want. They can’t do that now so they realize they have to be really proactive, but they’re making changes that they’re really excited about, even if they were forced into making them. They think they’re in a much better position going forward, now and when things do turn around for the better.

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Thanks Deb for sharing your wisdom with us! Check out Deb’s site, debneuman.com for more great tips for your small business.

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And thank you for reading our post today. Join us next time when we’ll tell you how to find the deal of your lifetime. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00345-030609.mp3

Related posts

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Marketing in Tough Times: Part 2

marketing2 Today on The Bigg Success Show, we continue our conversation with John Jantsch, the Duct Tape Marketer. Last time, John talked about the importance of getting closer to customers and strategic partnerships to build business. Let’s get back to the conversation …

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georgeJohn, one of the businesses I used to own was a plumbing company. In that business, I learned that many times there are ways to work with competitors – especially if they aren’t direct competition. Even within an industry, people may have specialties and you may find people that you can partner with that are better at something than you are.

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johnThe way to really look at that is, “How can you become more valuable to your customer?” Look at it that way as opposed to, “Who can I go to who will refer business me to me?” That’s the mistake that a lot of people make. They reach out to people and say, “Hey, why don’t you send me some business?” And even though they may be capable of doing so, what’s the motivation in that? If the motivation can be, “How can I help you grow your business? How can I provide more value to my customers?” Building a strong network around everything that your customers might need, with you being the go-to person to recommend other people to them, is a great marketing and business strategy. Your customers will become much more loyal if they can see you as somebody who cares about their success as opposed to somebody who is just there to sell them something.

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marylynnIt’s all about being real – now more than ever. Going back to what’s been going on in 2008, some of the big guys have fallen and so has trust. People want to feel like they can rely on you.

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johnRight. In fact, my book starts out with my definition of marketing for the small business: finding someone who has a need and getting them to know, like, and trust you. That’s the real business that every small business is in. Well, frankly any business, but certainly the small business who can’t “buy” know, like and trust. If you keep that as the focus, it becomes the filter for every decision that you make that has a customer impact in your business.

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georgeIt seems to me, John, that you’re saying we need to focus on the relationships and not so much on the revenue. The revenue will come.

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johnI certainly believe that. I’m the first to acknowledge that sometimes you have to put food on the table. There is a lot of pressure to actually make the sale. But long-term, the companies that will survive this economic storm will focus on adding value, differentiating, and building a brand that can be trusted. In some cases, these companies won’t experience any downturn and may even find it to be an opportunity. Because people who haven’t been doing things right – not treating people very well, not doing good work, but the phone keeps ringing because people need stuff done – will be the first to go. If you’re in there doing things right in good times and bad, a shakeout in your industry may be an opportunity.

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We’re so grateful that you took time to read our post today. Join us next time when we wrap up our conversation with John. You’ll hear about the one thing you have to embrace to keep your business from being left behind. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00309-011509.mp3

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