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Marketing in Tough Times: Part 1

marketing1 Today on The Bigg Success Show, we begin a discussion with John Jantsch. John is the author of the great book, Duct Tape Marketing – The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide. Forbes chose his Duct Tape Marketing blog as one of their favorites and Harvard features it on their marketing site. He also writes a monthly column and does a podcast for Entrepreneur magazine.

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marylynn
That’s a long intro and it’s not even everything!

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john
That’s good … we wouldn’t want to bore people right off the bat!

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marylynnJohn, I have to tell you. You’re the guy we wanted to come to because with everything going on with the economy, small businesses are struggling right now. A lot of the money that they might have had for advertising and marketing just isn’t there right now. So we want to talk with you about how to promote yourself on a shoestring budget.

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johnA lot of small business owners have done that. The headlines are that the Dow is down. Big companies are cutting back all kinds of jobs. The newspaper industry is in turmoil because of losing advertisers. But the typical small business owner is not putting out hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising. In many cases, they have gotten to where they’ve gotten because they worked on a shoestring anyway. I wrote a column this week for a publication and talked about the natural competitive advantages of small business. I think that we can have this tendency to get in this “the sky is falling” mode and quite frankly, my experience at least is, that it’s not falling on the small business owner. The small business owner is now finding that the market momentum, sheer momentum, is perhaps not carrying them and that they have to get better at doing some of the things that maybe they should have been doing anyway. But my current soap box right now is to say, “Hey, everything is okay. Let’s just buckle in and do some things right.” So that was my long-winded intro to answer your question. Right now is the best time ever to get closer to your customer.

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george
So what are some customer-building strategies that don’t require spending a lot of money?

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johnYour customer, whether it’s a business or an individual, is feeling some of this economic pressure as well. This is a great time to huddle up and say, “What more can we be doing with you, for you? How can we get together and help each other?” Strategic partnerships have always been a great way to go for folks who are strapped for making the phone ring. Go out and find other people that have your ideal customer in mind. Find ways to co-brand some of your marketing materials, put workshops on together, or maybe just literally pass out each other’s materials. One of the greatest partnerships I ever put together was a plumbing contractor. They were going into people’s house every day. So we said to them, “Let’s find an electrical contractor, a roofing contractor, and three or four other people who treat their customers the way you like. Why don’t you all start going in and recommending each other?” You know how that happens – once you develop trust with a customer, they’ll ask you for every resource you can give them! So doing things like that – things people should be doing, good times and bad. It really does put the spotlight on them now if you haven’t been doing them.

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Thanks for reading today’s post. Next time, we’ll continue our conversation with John. He discusses ways to add value for customer loyalty. 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/00308-011409.mp3

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(Image in today's post by duchessa)

What’s Hot in 2009: Businesses

maple_leaf_foods_logo This week on The Bigg Success Show, we’re taking a look at opportunities and threats in 2009. Today, we continue the five-part series by looking at business opportunities.

In the last quarter of 2008, we witnessed some significant shifts in consumer behavior. We’ve written an article on hot businesses for 2009 after doing extensive research on how these shifts will affect businesses.

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You gotta know when to hold ‘em

One of the things we learned is that people are holding on to what they have longer. So if your business idea involves replacing something old, think again about starting up in 2009.

But if you know how to repair something, or can partner with someone who does, 2009 is a great time to get started. For example, one of the hottest businesses in the country right now is shoe repairs. People are repairing, rather than replacing, even the basics.

Every second counts

Somewhat related to repairs, if consumers have to replace an item, they’re often looking for something used. Businesses that sell second-hand items are thriving right now. Resale clothing shops are reporting record sales. From kid’s clothes to wedding dresses, consumers are buying previously worn garments.

Used office furniture suppliers are also doing well. While buyers are feeling stingy, they’re finding it hard to resist some of the premium quality furnishings flowing out of financial institutions these days.

Used book stores are also reporting strong sales as people return to reading as an inexpensive form of entertainment.

It’s a small world after all

The overwhelming majority of businesses are really, really small businesses. They consist of one or two people, in many cases operating from their home. It appears that these tiny businesses – which have been dubbed micro-businesses, are only going to continue capturing a larger share of the total business pie.

What special skills do you have? What are you an expert at … or could you be an expert at?  Thinking along these lines may help you discover your opportunity. A lot of the best opportunities are businesses you rarely hear about because they’re small niches within a larger category so they’re hardly newsworthy.

Just like other consumers, businesses are looking for ways to save money. If they can contract for needed services, rather than hiring an employee to provide them, they don’t have the costs that go with a full-time employee. They can also maintain more flexibility to adapt in a rapidly changing world, which is worth money to them.

From your perspective, look at it this way – instead of a job serving one employer (think of your employer as your only customer), would you feel more secure if you had ten employers (since it’s your own business, you’d call them clients)? If one of them stops doing business with you, you might only lose ten percent of your income.

It may sound crazy to many people to even think about starting a business right now. But keep in mind that many of the most successful businesses began in a downturn. You may discover it’s the perfect time to find your bigg opportunity! 

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success when you
subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE

___

Thanks for reading our post today. Again, check out the article we've written for more information on businesses that will be hot in 2009. Join us next time as we continue this series by looking at threats to be aware of in 2009. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00302-010608.mp3

Related posts

What’s Hot in 2009: Careers

What’s Hot in 2009: Threats

(Image in today's post by MISHA)

What's Hot in 2009: Businesses

maple_leaf_foods_logo This week on The Bigg Success Show, we’re taking a look at opportunities and threats in 2009. Today, we continue the five-part series by looking at business opportunities.

In the last quarter of 2008, we witnessed some significant shifts in consumer behavior. We’ve written an article on hot businesses for 2009 after doing extensive research on how these shifts will affect businesses.

___

___

You gotta know when to hold ‘em

One of the things we learned is that people are holding on to what they have longer. So if your business idea involves replacing something old, think again about starting up in 2009.

But if you know how to repair something, or can partner with someone who does, 2009 is a great time to get started. For example, one of the hottest businesses in the country right now is shoe repairs. People are repairing, rather than replacing, even the basics.

Every second counts

Somewhat related to repairs, if consumers have to replace an item, they’re often looking for something used. Businesses that sell second-hand items are thriving right now. Resale clothing shops are reporting record sales. From kid’s clothes to wedding dresses, consumers are buying previously worn garments.

Used office furniture suppliers are also doing well. While buyers are feeling stingy, they’re finding it hard to resist some of the premium quality furnishings flowing out of financial institutions these days.

Used book stores are also reporting strong sales as people return to reading as an inexpensive form of entertainment.

It’s a small world after all

The overwhelming majority of businesses are really, really small businesses. They consist of one or two people, in many cases operating from their home. It appears that these tiny businesses – which have been dubbed micro-businesses, are only going to continue capturing a larger share of the total business pie.

What special skills do you have? What are you an expert at … or could you be an expert at?  Thinking along these lines may help you discover your opportunity. A lot of the best opportunities are businesses you rarely hear about because they’re small niches within a larger category so they’re hardly newsworthy.

Just like other consumers, businesses are looking for ways to save money. If they can contract for needed services, rather than hiring an employee to provide them, they don’t have the costs that go with a full-time employee. They can also maintain more flexibility to adapt in a rapidly changing world, which is worth money to them.

From your perspective, look at it this way – instead of a job serving one employer (think of your employer as your only customer), would you feel more secure if you had ten employers (since it’s your own business, you’d call them clients)? If one of them stops doing business with you, you might only lose ten percent of your income.

It may sound crazy to many people to even think about starting a business right now. But keep in mind that many of the most successful businesses began in a downturn. You may discover it’s the perfect time to find your bigg opportunity! 

___

Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success when you
subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE

___

Thanks for reading our post today. Again, check out the article we've written for more information on businesses that will be hot in 2009. Join us next time as we continue this series by looking at threats to be aware of in 2009. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00302-010608.mp3

Related posts

What’s Hot in 2009: Careers

What’s Hot in 2009: Threats

(Image in today's post by MISHA)

3 Strategies Small Businesses Can Use to Gain an Advantage in Bad Times

A recent study by Intuit, the software giant behind QuickBooks, Quicken, and TurboTax, found that three-fourths of small business owners expect to grow this year, in spite of all the talk about a recession, corporate layoffs, and consumers cutting back.

Now, it’s probably safe to say that small business owners are a relatively optimistic group. Part of their optimism, though, comes from that fact that two-thirds of the people surveyed said they had survived a recession before. They’ve done it by putting their customers first and focusing on their finances.

georgeWhen I first started studying entrepreneurship, my perception was that large companies created the jobs. Our colleges train us to work in bigg business. It’s true that large companies tend to hire a lot of people during boom times, as do small companies. But during tough economic times, large companies cut back. Interestingly, small companies tend to pretty much hold their own.

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marylynn If you’re keeping an eye on the news, you see that a lot of large companies are cutting marketing and even customer service. They’re cutting jobs and even entire departments. They’re streamlining.

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As numerous studies have shown, the net effect of this is that, over the course of the business cycle, almost all new jobs come from small businesses.

Opportunities created by large businesses for small businesses in bad times

As large companies make cuts, astute small businesses can gain an advantage by using any or all of the following three strategies:

#1 – Turn bigg companies into your customers.
They’re reviewing their operations. If what they cut is what you do – it’s your service – market to them! They may still need that service in some capacity … take advantage of it!

#2 – Recruit their talent
A lot of the people they’re laying off are very talented. These are people that you may have never been able to get before. Recruit that talent. Provide them with a nice place to fall.

They may look for something more stable or some place where they feel more of a sense of ownership. Your business could be the answer they’re looking for!

#3 – Go after the large company’s small customers.
With the cuts they’re making, they have few resources to take care of their customers. It’s the old 80/20 rule – they’re likely to super-serve the 20% of their customers that constitute 80% of their sales. Then they may cut back on service for all the rest.

Go after these customers that are facing reduced service. They may be a small account to a large company, but they may be one of your biggest customers!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Help! I Need Somebody!

Today on The Bigg Success Show, we welcomed Denise Griffitts. Denise is the founder and CEO of Your Virtual Assistant, a company that provides highly trained administrative professionals for support, technical and creative services for small businesses, start-up businesses, individuals, and online entrepreneurs.


Virtual assistants are in bigg demand

Denise talked about the growing demand for virtual assistants, who work for you from their home. They work within your processes and system. If you don’t have processes set up, they’ll even help you do that.

A virtual assistant can help you with just about anything that doesn’t require them to be on site. Denise’s niche is serving online entrepreneurs. She lets you take care of the front end of the business by partnering with you and handling the back end.

“A virtual assistant takes away all the minutiae from your day.”
Denise Griffitts

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Think about what you really need help doing. What’s causing your time seepage? By thinking about the minutiae that’s sapping your creativity and letting a virtual assistant take care of it, you’ll feel a sense of freedom and be able to move forward more quickly.

How affordable is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is a contract employee. You don’t have to pay their taxes and Social Security. You also don’t have to pay for their office space or equipment.

Denise has a Rate Calculator on her blog. It allows you to calculate the difference between hiring someone in your office and hiring a virtual assistant. Denise says the savings are considerable.

Could you benefit from a virtual assistant?
Denise talked about her biggest client, who had a project she needed done within three weeks. This client had a concept and an announced date for completion. That was it!

In three weeks, Denise and her team helped her client produce a product. They created a CD, did the art for the CD, created audio, print work and art work. It was in her customer’s hands by the deadline!

As Denise says, “Most everybody these days could use a virtual assistant.”

Would you like to be a virtual assistant?
Denise is looking for people all of the time. If you have online experience and would like to earn some extra money, send Denise your resume to resumes@virtualassistantindustry.com.

Denise will review your resume. If that looks good, she’ll interview you. After that, she’ll assign you a project. If you perform well on that project, then she brings you on as a full virtual assistant.

So if you want to hire a virtual assistant or be a virtual assistant, check out Your Virtual Assistant!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.  

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(Image from VirtualAssistantIndustry.com)