Business growth strategies: top 10 keys to prepare your business for sale

Rockland Advisory Group, LLC (“Rockland”) is an investment banking and financial advisory firm based in Stamford, CT., which raises capital and provides merger and acquisition advice for middle market companies. Rockland typically advises business owners that preparation is an important first step in selling their business and should begin as early as possible. 

  1. Preparation Prior to Selling: Cleanse your customer base and resolve any outstanding A/R issues.  Identify contingent liabilities and resolve, remediate or settle them.  Document your relationships with customers and suppliers as well as other parties who are important to the business.
  2. Document Profitability: Your business will be more valuable if you are showing profits even though in the short term you may be paying higher taxes.  You should have your financial documentation in order to be able to show potential buyers that the business is profitable.
  3. Timing of Sale: Look for favorable market conditions and a period when your business is doing well.  Favorable market conditions include the ability to access credit and equity markets, and industry is in favor with strategic and financial buyers.  Don’t wait until you are forced to sell.
  4. Insure Retention of Key Managers: Potential purchasers, especially financial buyers, want to make sure that key managers and employees don’t walk out the door once the transaction is completed.  Delegate the day to day business operation to key managers.  Make sure that these managers and employees are induced to stay through bonuses, equity, etc.
  5. Organize your business for Sale: Reduce obsolete or slow moving inventory, which will usually improve your balance sheet and eliminate any possible arguments over the valuation of such stock during the sale process.  Insure that the workplace is clean and well maintained.  Sell off and convert into cash any scrap, redundant or obsolete machinery and parts.
  6. Run a Process to Maximize Value: Rockland is often approached to assist a seller who is negotiating directly with a single buyer.  Negotiating with a single buyer does not give the seller a true test of market value and it potentially reduces the seller’s leverage.   In general, owners are better served by running a professional auction process that will get the property seen by the appropriate number of strategic (industry) and financial buyers and yield a true test of market value.
  1. Have a Sense of what your Business is Worth: Many owners will base their belief about the value of the business on hearsay and rumors of what other owners claim they received.  Often the information from other owners is inflated to make the owner look like a successful deal maker.  The best way to know is have a third-party valuation done or speak to an investment banker who can research comparables for your business.
  2. Hiring the right Professionals can add to the value of your business:  Owners are better served by hiring an investment banker to handle and coordinate the sales process.  The investment banker will prepare the necessary material including the non-disclosure agreement, teaser, offering memorandum and marketing material.  The professionals should also take care of showing the business to potential buyers and negotiating and structuring the most advantageous result. In addition, Rockland will typically suggest that the owner hire an M&A attorney as well as bring in the expertise of other professionals such as the accountant and financial consultants as you need them.
  3. Disclose any Negative issues early in the Process: Providing correct information is a critical part of obtaining full value of the business.  Any issues with the business should be disclosed early in the process and presented in the best possible light.  If the buyer discovers the issues then the credibility of the owner and the business will be reflected in a potentially lower valuation.
  4. Be Realistic about the Terms of a Sale: Issues often come up for owners who want an all-cash offer and want to be done with the business the day of the closing.  These requirements are unrealistic in today’s market.  At best owners will receive 50% – 70% cash and the remainder in an earn-out or equity in the business.  The owner will often be asked to stay in the business for at least 18 to 24 months.  Any shorter period will make the buyer suspicious that there is something that the seller is running away from.

In conclusion a successful sales process is not the multiple of earnings or revenues that your company sold for, but whether your initial objectives were met.  Is the cash received, net of expenses and taxes, sufficient for your lifestyle?  Are your employees in a good environment with an owner who will respect them and give them the opportunities for continued growth?  The more preparation that is initially undertaken will help ensure that your objectives are not only met, but exceeded.

For more information, please contact Richard Conroy at:

Rconroy@rocklandadvisory.com

Mr. Conroy has over 30 years of experience in investment and commercial banking as well as consulting. Mr. Conroy has provided debt and investment banking services to public, private, domestic and international corporations in consumer products, energy, food and beverage, infrastructure, manufacturing, medical, mining and minerals, retail, transportation and warehousing.   Mr. Conroy has been involved in debt and capital raising transactions representing total consideration in excess of $25 billion.

 

 

 

Strategic referral selling

The Author and her Ideal Referrer Lyle Green

The Author and her Ideal Referrer Lyle Green

Many of us find it hard to ask for help, it is like when we were in high school and no one wanted to raise their hand because they were too embarrassed. Do you all remember what the teachers would say? They would say that there wasn’t anything to be embarrassed about, we are not born already knowing everything and without asking or listening we couldn’t possibly learn.

 

Did you know that giving others an opportunity to help is actually quite beneficial to them? Studies show that helping others can affect self esteem and depression in positive ways.

 

Helping others by being a connector is common practice for successful professionals; this is how many rise to the top.

Yet when presented with the idea of referral selling most salespeople would rather cold call all day long than ask for a referral.

 

Why don’t more sales people use a referral strategy? Most are afraid of looking needy or they have had a referral gone rogue and don’t want to risk that again!

 

Most salespeople I interview have no idea what a referral is or is not.  For example, 80% of salespeople surveyed believe getting to use someone’s name in a phone call, basically a cold call where you are name dropping, is a referral.

 

Professional referrals can grow your business short and long term. Every new professional you are referred to expands your network. Learning how to harness these contacts and not “sell” to them is critical to growing your entire network, which is your personal goldmine.

 

For companies focused on growth, one of the biggest opportunities is making sales more productive. Economic and technological changes are creating an environment where customers are more educated than ever by the time you get to them.

 

Trust is the most critical factor in the sales process. A referral is transference of trust. Once you have established trust you must gain understanding and continue with your sales process, but you have cut the selling time anywhere from 20-60%.

 

A sneak peek into why you might want to attend the Strategic Referral Selling seminar on September 5th:

 

This is a live and intensive seminar. We will cover everything from defining a referral to how to spot ideal referral sources. Learn the detailed dynamics of a referral.

We will share a complete step by step process, including how to ask for a referral and how to manage the referral process.
Learn why your closest friends are sometimes the worst referral sources.

 

You will understand what makes professional referrals so powerful and what it takes to create a referral strategy to grow your business.

 

There is a goldmine in your database. The chances are you could mine all the business you need from your top 5 contacts. Why go wide when marketing in or out of your sales territory? Studies prove revenue comes in narrow segments. What if you had a way to target those segments and leverage your contacts to close more business? Learn how to target and get to your ideal buyers without ever making a cold call.Summer Sales School

 

To learn more join me on September 5, 2012, @ 4:00 p.m. Eastern.  I look forward to sharing my knowledge, expanding yours, and helping your business grow.

 

 

 

Targeting Strategies

The Author with her Ideal Client Walter Menezes

The Author with her Ideal Client Walter Menezes

Who is your Ideal Buyer?

 

Going on right now, on the World Wide Web, is Sales Summer School. From the convenience of your couch or desk, you can keep up your professional growth via educational webinars put on by top sales experts. You can read all about it in my previous post or by clicking here.

 

The webinars I am facilitating are called: Ideal Buyer Strategy and Strategic Referral Selling.

 

I thought you might like to get a sneak peak at what I will cover. Also, I know it will help you gauge if you believe these two topics are something you need, that can help you and your business grow.

 

Next week I will give you a peek at Strategic Referral Selling.

 

Let’s get started!

 

The first question I ask a potential Client is:

 

Who is your Ideal Buyer?

 

My Clients sell b2b and their sales teams spend a lot of time prospecting. The answer to this question tells me so much. From the CEO to the salesperson the answers are the same. Literally 95% of the time I will hear anyone that needs_____________.  Fill in the blank with your company product or service.

 

Anyone that needs media services.

Anyone who uses a bank.

Anyone who uses office supplies.

 

Sometimes I hear someone.

Someone who is in marketing for a Small – Medium Enterprise (SME).

Someone in this SIC code that has a large sales team.

 

Once in a while I hear:

Everyone.

 

Does something seem strange about this to you? Maybe we are all so used to hearing this that it doesn’t sound incomplete.

 

One of the reasons you want to specifically understand your ideal buyer is to be able to speak it clearly to those who may be able to refer you business. But that is next week’s blog!

 

In the b2c marketing world, you best believe, they are clear about which credit card offer gets sent to which targeted database or what coupons and discounts get sent to the consumer. My feeling is that most people who sell b2b think they sell to Companies.

If you sell b2b you sell to PEOPLE.

People who make decisions at Companies that are able to buy from you.

 

Look back over your career and give some thought to your very best customers. You know, the ones you feel that instant click with, who call you when they move to a new job and bring you in; they make referrals to you before you ask and they never haggle with you on price. Yes, they want a great deal, but relationship ranks first. Some of these customers become friends and if not, you could see them fitting in at one of your bbq’s.

 

What if I told you that inside the persona of these individuals is the key to your success? Even if you are on top of your game, you may want to cut right through to the 20% of your customers that give you 80% of your business.

 

Take some time today and think about the qualities, characteristics and traits of these people. You don’t need a huge list; 5 – 7 names will give you a great start.

 

Notice the same words popping up. Does the persona resonate with you?

It should, as many of these traits can be used to describe you.

 

This is the beginning of understanding b2b, targeting and understanding exactly who you are seeking. The mark is easier to hit if you know what to look for.

 

Don’t you think?

 

If I’ve triggered your interest or if you feel this is where your business stands, in a difficult position where buyers just don’t seem to be buying, I hope you consider joining me online for Sales Summer School.

 

Ideal Buyer Strategy on August 28, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST.Summer Sales School

Strategic Referral Selling on September 5, 2012, at 4:00 p.m. EST.

 

If not, you can always call me (@800-318-6208 ext. 108) for a free consultation to see where your business stands.

 

 

 

Back to school?

Summer Sales School

We all know how the summer months can be for sales: slow and sparse. That makes it the perfect time to invest in your business growth strategy.  This gives you the chance to use the summer slowdown  to work  on something very important: your personal professional growth.

 

Professional growth can drive performance improvement via the acquisition of new business and sales techniques, strategies and tools. You invest in yourself to acquire more marketability.  Whether you are looking for a job, desire advancing in the one you have or you have your own business Sales Summer School has something to offer you.

 

We can all thank my friend and colleague Miles Austin for producing this great series of educational events available through webinars for salespeople and sales managers.

 

These are purely educational and interesting webinars. No marketing from us.

 

This is all about YOU.

 

This summer semester is designed to facilitate the learning of a variety of business growth strategies, sales techniques and sales performance improvement concepts.

 

The faculty is comprised of accomplished and recognized sales thought-leaders fromNorth America.

I am proud to be personally involved and am in the company of some amazing speakers, authors, strategists, coaches and bloggers.

 

You will learn fresh sales strategies that are effective in today’s ever-changing business world.

 

Choose from a variety of revenue boosting topics or get the whole series for your in-house sales training program. There are enough powerful segments for many months of sales meetings.

 

Here is a sample:

 

How to Use NLP to Sell Over the Phone – Alen Mayer – 8/9

 

Tools For Sales – Miles Austin – 8/21

 

REAL Sales Productivity Killers – Nancy Nardin – 8/30

 

Are You Selling At The Speed of Dialup – Andy Paul – 9/5  

 

The Fine Art of Selling Technology – Babette Ten Haken – 9/6

 

 

 

Plus my own:

 

Ideal Buyer Strategy – Karin Bellantoni – 8/28

 

Strategic Referral Selling – Karin Bellantoni – 9/5  

 

For the full list click here and if you want to attend all of the sales growth sessions there is a ‘SalesSummerAllAccessPass’.

 

If you don’t invest in yourself who will?

 

Do you find the sessions of interest? Is there another aspect of sales that you would like to grow in, that wasn’t in the list? If yes, let me know. I would love to help and/or make suggestions for next year’s Sales Summer School: Summer Semester.

 

 

 

Strategies to survive in chaos

Oliver Ciro Bellantoni

Oliver Ciro Bellantoni

 

What I learned from Oliver the flying cat

 

 

The story

 

One year ago on a very hot summer night in New York City I was having dinner on the community deck on the sixth floor at my building in Lower Manhattan.  It is a beautiful area to relax and share a meal. Nice chairs, tables, loungers and plants. The funny thing is I never sat out there, especially late at night. Not for any reason, just not in my routine.

 

Let me preface this story by saying I am not particularly a big animal lover. I like certain animals, like people. My cat of 20 years named Sable had died 7 years ago. When friends wanted to replace her I was horrified and remained pet-less for 7 years. A realtor in my building called me regularly with foster pets. “Karin,” she would say, “I have a 17 year old cat with a little kidney disease.” My typical response was, “No, thanks Alexis.” Another time she called me and asked, “How about this beautiful 7 year old dog? He only has seizures once in a while???” And once again, I said, “No, thank you Alexis.” My excuses went on and on. I admire Alexis’s concern for these strays but I travel, work a lot and thought I had no time. Basically I was closed minded.

 

 

Back to July 22, 2011:

 

Just finishing a little late supper with a friend and at about 11:15 p.m. I heard a crashing noise and horrible scream. It was the kind of noise I frequently heard when I lived in Laguna Beach and a coyote got hold of a cat. I knew there weren’t coyotes walking around downtown New York and I couldn’t imagine where the cat came from. I got up and upon further investigation saw a little ball of white fur with gigantic gold eyes looking up at me and shaking. He was on the very edge of the deck. Another few feet and he would have gone down 6 more floors.

 

 

He was so terrified and shocked. I looked up and he could have come from anywhere. My building and the one next to it are 40 stories each and we were on 6. I crawled toward him slowly and eventually, with the help of friends, rescued Oliver.

 

 

By 4:00 p.m. of the next day I had brought him to various veterinarians.  At the third stop (the first vet wanted me to put him to sleep), the big pet hospital here in NYC, he was diagnosed with a dislocated femur and maybe handicapped for life.

 

 

Finally, the owners called. They had seen his poster on their mailbox where my friends had helped tack them up. I was very relieved, although I was getting attached.

 

“Laura,” I said, “Come right away and by the way what floor do you live on?”

 

“Nineteen,” she answered.

 

He had fallen 13 stories. My stomach turned.

 

Oliver and I

 

 

Oliver had impressed me. This little 8 pound being was all man.  He made it 13 stories down and he never cried once.

 

 

What else did he teach me?

 

Being fearless is the only way to survive. When faced with a 13 story drop, cats as I’ve learned, go into a parachute position to protect themselves. They could scream and cry the whole way down, but they’d never end up surviving.

 

 

Listen to your intuition even when an expert advises you. If I hadn’t, the first vet . . . well you get it.

 

 

Ask for help – When you are in a crisis and you aren’t dealt a good team call in your own. I hate to say it, but my fellow neighbors on the deck that night disappeared and I called on the friends and neighbors I knew would help. They were there in a flash and together we got through it!

 

 

Don’t judge what you don’t understand – Oliver’s leg dragged for months. A friend suggested Reiki. I am pretty open-minded, but energy work for a cat’s damaged femur? One treatment and he walks totally normal.

 

 

Things happen for a reason – The owners are a lovely young family with two dogs a young child and family in the hospital. They hadn’t noticed Oliver missing right away and felt bad about that, like maybe they had a bit too much going on.

 

 

One week later, when I visited my new friends, we decided that maybe it was best for Oliver to be in a home where he was more or less, the main attraction.

 

 

And we are living happily ever after.

 

 

 

 

Blackberry: failed to change or forced to change?

Research in Motion (RIM), once the pre-eminent leader in smart phone technology with their Blackberry, announced more than half a billion dollar loss at the end of June.

 

I read CIO.com’s Al Sacco’s Q&A interview with RIM CEO Thorsten Heins.

 

It made me think, how tough is it for leadership to reinvent a company lagging in the market they once owned (to improve their business growth strategy)?

 

A few lessons we can learn from Blackberry’s CEO.

 

 

Know the difference between wider and deeper.

 

If growing geographically (wider) means a diversion from your current market (deeper), the opportunity to go global may be costly.

 

Owning the market here in North America (RIM is a Canadian company) was awesome; however, the global opportunities that presented themselves were hard to ignore.

 

What happened when all attention got focused elsewhere?

We didn’t miss on innovation. I think we missed on understanding, specifically in the U.S., that this trend was shifting, and that our positioning and our value proposition in the U.S. market was not following that trend shift.

 

 

Be focused on your strategic plan.

 

With our eagerness to be extremely innovative, we had the tendency to put new stuff into existing project programs, and that is not a recipe to deliver on time and on quality.

 

Once the focus was elsewhere it was hard to jump back in. Now you are reacting to the sudden market expansion, additions of the iPhone and Android as major competitors. Reactive environments add fuel to chaos.

 

Having a business growth strategy around competition and market growth, even when you are on top, is a plan to win. One eye is always with the existing customers, suppliers and shareholders; while the other eye explores expansion strategies.

 

 

Learn from your mistakes.

 

Business has proven time and time again that your most loyal fans will forgive you and many more can be won back.  However, win-back campaigns and loyalty programs cut into profits like a laser.

 

We’re dramatically changing this with BlackBerry 10. . . . it was a decision between: Rush it out again, and then fix the quality stuff later; or bring it out with high quality. What I commit to the public out there is that when we ship BlackBerry 10, we will do it at high quality. That was the decision I made. And we keep that program very, very focused.

 

I think Blackberry has another life left; after all, Apple has done the same thing and won back a whole new audience with their business growth strategy reinvention.

 

I bought my first Apple computer last Friday night at Best Buy, but that is another story.

 

My advice to Mr. Heins is to make it great. Customers love a comeback story and launching a mediocre product at Holiday time would have been a bad move that may not have been forgiven.

 

What do you think? Would you trade your iPhone or Android for a Blackberry 10 after reading this interview with RIM CEO? What does it take to win back a customer?

 

 

Winning business growth strategies for salespeople

“Leaders lead when they take positions, when they connect with their tribes, and when they help the tribe connect to itself.”
Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

 

 

Confession: I am a member of a tribe.

 

And proud of it!

 

Today business changes move at the speed of sound. Even ten years ago a group of professionals in the same line of work collaborating in a tribe would have been unthinkable!

 

We called ourselves competition back then.

 

The collaboration between a tribe can serve the creative process by adding velocity, expansion and bandwidth to our businesses. Ultimately all of our Clients win also.

 

My tribe-mate Don F. Perkins posed a question to our tribe of sales experts:

 

“What measures can a salesperson take to perfect their craft?”

 

Below are my 5 tips, plus links to other great responses.

 

Dig In!

 

 

1. Be a strategist and have a plan

 

The more we talk about this, the more I find the problem is an epidemic. A goal is not a plan and it will get you nowhere without measurable strategies. We help people visualize this mini plan concept in the training room.

 

Try it.

 

Pick two goals. Write them down on a piece of paper. Take one and write 3 possible strategies for getting to your goal. Think it through and ask yourself, “How will I know this strategy is working?” Think of several ways you will know you are moving towards the goal. Now you have benchmarks.

 

Think about timing for those benchmarks and mark them in your calendar. If you aren’t making the benchmarks you are off (time wise); this means the strategy isn’t working or the goal is unreasonable.

 

 

 

2. Know your ideal buyer

 

You can’t sell to everyone. Why would you want to?

 

In the B to C world marketers spend millions on profiling and understanding their ideal buyers. Demographic details like age and marital status, right up to geographic location, come into play when sending out a piece of direct mail.

 

Why?

 

Because targeting works. It’s cost effective and brings big marketers more of what they want. The ideal buyers have higher closing ratios, stay longer and are more profitable.

 

A Banker client was astonished to see that his ideal clients were immigrant – family owned businesses; yet his current targets are not-for -profit companies!

 

 

3. Find a mentor and a tribe

 

Remember the old saying: It is lonely at the top?

 

It is.

 

Keeping yourself stimulated and in relationships where you practice reciprocity is important.  Great mentors are hard to find; even harder when you approach a very busy person with a life long commitment type of mentor request. Ask for only six meetings and have a subject for each one.

 

Check out Triberr.com to learn more about Tribes.

 

 

4. Have a referral plan

 

In this business environment it is more important than ever to work a referral plan. Customers come to the table better informed. You have, unfortunately, become less of a resource. If you have an ideal buyer strategy you know that your referrers are people who are like your ideal buyers. Like attracts like and targeting shortens sales cycles.

 

Sit down and document a plan. All the business you need is probably sitting with a half dozen of your LinkedIn contacts.

 

 

5. Read between the pipelines

 

Have a learning plan. Being well read yields more information to use and share. You might even start your own blog!

 

Read between the pipelines is my complimentary newsletter that goes out monthly with a collection of sales blogs. You can sign up to receive it here.

 

Other great sales blogs are Robert Terson’s Selling Fearlessly!  Not to be confused with the fantastic Canadian blogger, Kelly Robertson of Fearless Selling. I also get a lot of value from long time blogger Lori Richardson’s Score More Sales, and Jill Konrath’s latest blog Fresh Sales Strategies

 

In case you didn’t know, you can get feeds from blogs sent right to your outlook inbox or to a HootSuite account where you can read, retweet and/or share with your community.

 

 

Other great sources:

 

A great foundation book for sales engineers or anyone new to sales is Babette Ten Haken’s Do YOU Mean Business?

 

Read Andy Paul’s Zero - Time Selling if you want to shorten your sales cycle and close more deals in your pipeline. Make sure you don’t get cornered on price by reading Mark Hunter’s High-Profit Selling.

 

Another great read comes from process specialist Leanne Hoagland-Smith’s be The Red Jacket in a sea of grey suits. Finally, you have to stay up on the latest and greatest tools, technologies and applications; Miles Austin’s Fill the Funnel is an awesome blog for staying in the know tech-wise.

 

 

Check out these great blogs on the same topic:

 

The Most Important Thing About Sales – Don F. Perkins

 

What Measures can a Salesperson Take to Perfect her Craft – Robert Terson

 

The Elephant Gun to Kill a Fly Sales Training Coaching – Leanne Hoagland Smith

 

5 Strategies for becoming a sales expert – Babette Ten Haken

 

6 secrets for sales prospecting success – Mark Hunter

 

The Importance of “Cross Training” For Sales – David A. Brock

 

 

Strategic business growth via reinvention

World Trade Center June 2012

World Trade Center June 2012

Stuck, huh?

 

You realize your business is not growing and hasn’t been for some time. You know you need to really make changes, but it took 12 years for you to change your last hair style.  We are living in a world that requires constant change. Adapting to change requires flexibility and openness. How are some able to change and grow so rapidly, where as others aren’t? Many are adept at change in some areas of their life, yet completely stuck in others.

 

Yeah, I’m talking to you.

 

Most business executives and owners say they want to progress or they want their business to grow or they want their marriage to evolve; yet when presented with new ideas most stand in place. Fear of change is real and it is crippling. Resistance can sap you of energy, creativity and the vision to see where you could be.

 

Most people have reinvented themselves at one point or another in life. I would bet 80% because they had to and 20% because they chose to. Choosing our own reinvention doesn’t rate very high for most people. We find we’re better at having to versus getting to put our energy and attention into creating what we truly want.

 

 

Holding on to what doesn’t work is a definite strategy for failure.

 

Personally, I have learned to see reinvention as an opportunity. Before that, one of my biggest fears was letting go of what I committed to before I saw it through. I never wanted to be the person that gave up. As Seth Godin brilliantly outlined in his simple book, The Dip, “Strategic quitting is the secret of successful organizations.”

 

Well, sometimes you don’t need to see something through to the end if it is not working now.

 

Ask yourself what will change here if I don’t? Nothing.

 

Here are some key steps to reinvention that I learned along many of my own reinventions:

 

  1. Take Inventory - The best place to start is by understanding where you are at right now. What do you have and what do you need to let go of.
  2. Be accountable and let go of blame and shame - It is ok to review and assess the past but dwelling and obsessing will just bring you more of what you currently have.
  3. Embrace the trigger- Look for that emotional pain point in you that says, “I’m fed up!” Embrace that energy to drive your change. I know women that have stayed with men who cheat, lie and steal from them (and yes guys, it goes both ways). Then some trigger mechanism falls into place and she goes crazy because he didn’t buy her an anniversary gift. Don’t analyze it, whether the trigger is the real reason or not it is the tipping point and you will need this energy to change.
  4. Change what you can to get change started - I am (almost) famous for changing my hairstyle or color frequently. I feel it helps me change other things when I change any aspect of my environment.
  5. Know your risks & trust yourself - What is great, the risk of changing or not changing?
  6. Assemble a team - There is no substitution for supportive advice and opinion. In different areas of my life I have different personal board of directors. For example, when I am going to change my hair color I don’t ask my friends that are color blind. In my business I have 3-4 people that I poll about changes I intend to make. One set around financial decisions, others about health. They are people I know to be change oriented and successful. I LISTEN and gain understanding, and then make my own decision.
  7. Protect yourself – Beware of the naysayers and the fair weather friends.  Be positive and surround yourself with positive people. When you are trying to steer your ship in another direction you want believers and visionaries around you.
  8. Be fearless - Reinvention does not mean you have to lose the great things; they may look different in a new beginning.

 

 

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

From the song Closing Time by Semisoinic

 

Call now for a free business growth strategy consultation: 800 318 6208 ext. 108.

 

 

Consider a video strategy to grow your business

Little video - photo by Akreinick via Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

This post is basically some of the highlights from Perry Lawrence’s great session at the recent Blogworld New York event.

 

 

Perry Lawrence, aka Ask Mr. Video, gave a perfect introduction for those of us who have dabbled or are newbies to video marketing. For free instructional videos and hired support from Perry Lawrence visit https://www.askmrvideo.com.

 

 

One of the things I found interesting was that advertisers prefer supporting video shows and video blogs over other media because the content is more relevant, and all the consumer has to do is open another window to buy! Plus, the least annoyance reported is with video as the medium. This is powerful if you think you can add relevant content to support the advertisers. An example would be if your video show was a how to set up a marketing campaign for small business. Marketers, list companies and email service providers would surely be interested in advertising, but only if you have a following and it’s growing.

 

 

Audio and video podcasts are now on par, so video has certainly started to boom. The good news is it is still early and you don’t need a big budget to start out.

 

 

Don’t make these mistakes!

 

Length – As Perry says, “Cut to the chase already.” Keep your videos short and to the point. Somewhere between 3-5 minutes is best for shows. Tips and promotional videos should be less than 2.

 

Audio – Great audio is critical to the presentation you are making. Nothing is more annoying than bad sound. Don’t even try and use the mike on the camera. Buy a lavaliere microphone for $20 bucks for best results.

 

Lighting – The best light is always natural light. You can see how we used it in the first segment of my video (video link).  The trick is to use the light, but not a window as a background! Alternatively, you can use a soft box or other diffused light source for the best quality image. These start at $200.

Make sure you take these first steps:

 

Today – buy your name/ brand name and / or your company name TV.

Camera wise, it is all about Good, Better, Best:

Good – The best value is your iPhone, also Kodak play touch, cheap and great. You can use your computer and an application like ooVoo or Pamela for Skype.

 

Better – Get a camera that is like the camera you use normally. I use a Canon Rebel for Photography and am thrilled to learn they just put out an SLR (EOS Rebel T4i DSLR) that does video for under $1000; I am on my way to B&H!

 

Best – There are endless possibilities today. Even film makers are using DSLRs.

Of course, you can spend more, especially on accessories.

 

 

What to shoot?


1. Topics around your area of expertise. If you are a blogger pick the best 13 posts you have done and you have a first season; one topic per episode.

 

2. Step by step videos. How to content is great for SEO and gets more attention since they fill a need on the spot.

 

3. Diary your experiences. Perry used several examples including a show about adopting a baby and using the experience of the videographer as the content. What are you experiencing that may be helpful to others?
The formula:

 

At the start you want to tell your audience how long the video is and why they should watch it.  Establish your authority up front. You basically tell them what you are going to share or teach them; then you teach them; then you summarize what you taught them before a call to action. It is simple; you need a beginning, a middle and an end.

You want to grow your list, so getting their email is critical to building followers.

 

Some ideas for gaining email addresses:

 

  • Free eBook
  •  25 ideas (around your topic)
  • Ask them to leave a comment
  • Drive them to another video
  • Register for a chance to win
  • Register for a free consult

 

 

Above all else, drop perfectionism. Done trumps perfect every time!

 

Do you have an idea for a video show? Are you stuck? Let’s talk about it.

 

 

 

 

Blog Week New York, Deconstructed

Horse Wash Near Javitz Center in Manhattan

Business strategies for blogging

 

 

It takes some careful decision making these days when choosing where to spend your time. Taking three days out of my business to learn more is something I think strategically about.

 

 

 

 

What value do I hope to glean for myself, my readers and my clients?

What will I learn that I can apply right away to make significant changes to my business?

How will I know if I got the value I was looking for?

 

 

 

Besides the embarrassment of seeing what the Jacob Javitz convention center now looks like and apologizing to out of towners for the lousy set up, last week at Blog World New York was nothing but a fantastic learning experience and great networking opportunity!

 

As a startling contrast to conferences that I attended ten years ago, the crowd way more interesting. The variety in the demographic and the fact that the room was filled with my favorite kinds of people, early adopters!

 

Speaking of early adopters, my buddy Lori Richardson and I went together. Lori has been blogging since 2004 for her company Score More Sales and is an inspiration to me. We decided to split up and to cover more territory.

 

 

The following represents my top takeaways from a few of my favorite presenters:

 

Scott Stratten gave an exciting opening keynote.  Scott’s message about keeping the new medium authentic, engaging and purposeful was right on. Isn’t this the same rule around any kind of medium? Why do some people think to take short cuts, just because you can?

What I love about social media and especially blogging is that it gives a fair advantage to everyone. Scott really drove home the fact that these new mediums must be used in the ways they were intended. Buying followers on FiveRR or posting blogs with “blah” content is not the intention.

“You can’t automate authenticity,” as Scott says; “Social Media’s greatest threat is apathy,” it is like sending a mannequin to a networking event. This is a qualitative game; you get the numbers because of your quality, not the other way around. “Social is not a numbers game, it is an engagement game.”

The bottom line is “If you have no time to use social media don’t, it is like walking into a networking event and leaving 30 seconds later.”

 

 

Twenty–one year old speaker Syed Balkhi (WPbeginners.com and list25.com) gave a high energy talk. His story is impressive and movie worthy.

The message: Know who you are marketing to and make sure it is about them. He suggested keyword driven blogging is a waste of time. Ask your audience what they want; the keywords will come more naturally.

Build your lists, but don’t treat everyone on your lists the same. Segment your lists to target users. Don’t contact form sign up users too frequently.  Don’t spam them. Didn’t we direct marketers learn this 15 years ago? It is interesting how many people in my age range stared, as if this information was earth shattering. We can’t forget social media is still media and many of the same rules apply.

 

 

Derek Halpern owned the room like Liz Taylor in 1956. His charisma is as powerful as his content, and no one leaves the room when he is speaking. I will admit, I thought differently at first; especially when he informed he was going to rant loudly at the audience. I said, “Thanks for the warning,” all I could think of was Jeffrey Gitomer pointing his finger at me, and sat 15 rows back, big mistake. Some people open their mouths and gold pours out. This is true for Derek.

His message was about using social triggers (also the name of his business).  Derek spoke of his drafting technique to gain press from bloggers and the mainstream press.

The message here was clearly about creating controversy in your blog by countering common opinions. The ones most people believe when a big fat claim is made by well known sources. He is not suggesting you be disruptive for the hell of it, but instead to back up your opinion with facts and statistics. After all, opinion with facts behind it is far more convincing than opinion alone.

 

 

Wednesday night Chris Brogan said something in his keynote that moved me. As many people look at blogging with desire and are holding back for whatever reason, “Be yourself online, be brave.”

 

 

 

In my next post I will cover the WEB TV and Video tracks and what I learned there. Stay tuned!