How marketing can grow your business

Do you know what it takes to grow your business? At a recent program hosted by The Alternative Board, speaker, Pete Hayes of Chief Outsiders, spoke about how the right “Insight, Strategy and Execution” can drive business growth. (more…)

7 tips for effectively marketing your niche

Developing a niche is a great way to attract clients and build a distinctive brand for your firm. It differentiates you and your marketing will be more successful and effective because you are focused on your unique expertise and who you want to attract. (more…)

8 marketing musts for your firm

Marketing or building market strategy

Everyone wants tips to help market themselves. We’re all hoping to hear the one thing that we can do to magically bring in business. Unfortunately there is no one thing, but there are lots of little things that can help. I work a lot with lawyers and was recently on a radio show to talk about Marketing Tips for Attorneys. To prepare, the host, Ken Landau, asked me to come in with 30 tips. I’m not sure how many we actually got to, but here’s a sampling to get you started whether you are a lawyer or other kind of professional:

1. Have a strong LinkedIn profile. When someone googles your name, your LinkedIn bio is usually one of the top results. What do you want people to see there? It’s your opportunity to impress them and stand out from the competition. Don’t waste it. And don’t rely on people going to your website to read your bio there. Some may only look at your LinkedIn profile.

2. Share content regularly on social media– both your content and other people’s. Social media is like networking. You have to be out there consistently, get involved, follow up with people you meet and stay in touch. Every time you share something on social media your network will see it. Post your own stuff, but also like and comment on other people’s posts, ask questions, and start a discussion. It will build your credibility and a lot of people will reciprocate, which will expand your reach to everyone in their network. And remember to join and share posts within groups. That gets you in front of members of the group even if they aren’t part of your direct network.

3. Focus on a niche. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. Focus on a specific area, type of client, business model, etc. It’s better to focus limited marketing resources on a niche area rather than spreading them all over multiple areas. Ultimately it will bring you better leads and more money. (Check out Inc.’s, How to Narrow your Target Market for more tips.)

4. Position yourself as an expert. This goes along with focusing on a niche. Identify a topic, issue, specialty, etc. where you have experience and you can speak with authority. Get known for that by speaking and writing about that area consistently. Make sure your marketing message highlights that expertise. Again focusing on a narrow area brings better results than saying that you can help anyone with any problem.

5. Blog regularly. In determining how to rank a website, search engines look for sites with high-quality relevant information. They also look for websites that are updated frequently and have lots of pages. Blogging helps with all of these. It boosts a firm’s organic search results when prospects are searching online. And it also makes firms more credible (because they have lots of great content) for prospects who are now on the website and evaluating their services.

6. Involve employees. A recurring problem professionals have is coming up with good topics to write and speak about. Employees can help you create content that is interesting to your readers since they are often dealing with day to day issues with your clients. You want your blog posts, newsletters, presentations, etc. to address the real questions that your prospects have about their problems. Employees can also help promote your content by sharing it via their own social media channels.

7. Seek out relationships with other experts, organizations, and media. Get to know others who speak to the same market you are targeting and are well-known. They can help you build your own credibility and spread your message. But remember you have to help them first.

8. Have a marketing plan. Random acts of marketing are not effective. Create a written plan outlining who you want to specifically target with your marketing and how you’re going to do it. Then make sure you allocate resources (time and money) to getting it done.

For more tips, listen to the radio program.

4 strategies for business and marketing success

Checkmate, Business Strategy ConceptIn the last few months I attended 2 very different events on how to grow and compete as a business. Both addressed the importance of understanding what differentiates your business and building the right internal culture and operations. Neither focused on marketing per se, but marketing was an important component. Every successful business needs to determine what it stands for (its brand) and then strategically communicate that value internally and externally. That lesson and the 4 takeaways below can help any organization find success in managing, operating and marketing its business.

1. Play to win. “Playing to win” means being focused and acting intentionally. In other words, don’t just react to changes; be strategic and have a real plan. Think about where you want to be and how you can get there. What kind of organization or team do you need? What are your obstacles? Where should you invest? Create appropriate goals and benchmarks so you know what you need to accomplish today to move you along the right path. And put it all in writing. Documenting your vision, strategies and goals will help you get focused and stay on track. It also lets everyone within the company know where you’re all going so they can feel engaged. This applies to general business planning as well marketing planning. Certainly marketing without a strategic plan is one of the biggest reasons why marketing fails.

2. Be different. Does your pitch/mission statement sound just like your competitors? Everyone says they offer quality service, care about their clients, and have tons of experience. So how are you really different? When you don’t differentiate, then you’re vulnerable to competing on price and turning your services into a commodity. Take the time to identify your unique value proposition and understand your target audiences and their pain points. The goal is to develop an authentic marketing message that resonates with your clients and prospects. You want to find your sweet spot – the place where you can speak with credibility and authority on topics that truly matter to your audience and your business. So know what makes you special and communicate clearly how that brings value to your clients so you don’t end up cutting your prices to get the business.

3. Pay attention to your work culture. According to a recent study by the National Center for the Middle Market, a well-established employer brand and compelling employee value proposition (EVP) help companies secure talent against their larger competitors and drive significantly higher revenue. (A company’s employer brand is the image and reputation it has as a place to work. Its EVP represents the tangible and intangible benefits people receive in return for working at the company.) In fact, in a study by the CFO Alliance, 95% of CFOs agreed work culture has an effect on the company’s bottom line. What does this mean for businesses? Your work culture is part of your brand. You need to identify, nurture and market it if you want to attract and retain the right talent to grow revenue.

And once you’ve got these great employees, keep them involved and motivated to help promote your brand inside and outside the organization. How can you do that? One way is to ask employees to share their experience and insights in the form of training materials, blog posts, newsletter articles, video or other content. If it’s challenging for them to create the content, give them appropriate resources. At a minimum, encourage them to share news and information that the company is putting out. And remember to publicly acknowledge their efforts. You want to engage your employees and show them they are valued, not dump work on them that they don’t want.

4. Invest the time in doing things right. The number one reason businesses give for not taking the business advice mentioned above is that they don’t have time. However, as succinctly put by Kelly Riggs in one of the events I attended, “leadership is about knowing how to invest your time.” Successful companies take the time to look critically at their business and figure out where they want to get to and how. They make long-term investments and appreciate that ROI is measured in more than just dollars.

Thanks to the speakers from “Aligning Your Employees with the Company’s Business Objectives,” at The CFO Alliance Quarterly Roundtable Series and “Winning Business in Any Economy: 4 mistakes you can’t afford to make,” at HIA-LI’s 27th Annual Business Trade Show & Conference.