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MarketingMarketing and sales are crucial to the success of any entrepreneur. Whether you have a real estate practice, a contracting service company, or you are a franchise owner, knowing a few good marketing tips can take you from good to great as you set your plan for the next business year.

Over the years, I have had so many people say, “Mary Anne, I get great evaluations in my training and I want to go out on my own.” Or I hear the statement, “I don’t know how you do it, it is such a risk to be self-employed.”

I have been self-employed for all but three years of my multi-year career and I have never felt like I was taking too big of a risk, because I figured out a few key things early on. It’s not your evaluations or even your product that determine your success. I have seen many people with great ideas and an excellent product/service struggle significantly or fail entirely, simply because they never learned how to correctly market themselves or their business. So here are five tips you can employ now to help you survive and thrive in this competitive world:

1. Know your target demographics.  Ask yourself these demographic questions and then pay attention to your answers so you can target appropriately.

  • Who are the actual people who would benefit from your product or service?
  • What geographic area do they reside in (and how far do you want to go to serve them)?
  • What do they value most and how can your product or services meet their needs?

2. Keep your friends close and your competitors closer.  It is important to know your competitors and set yourself apart from them. You need to be able to give unique and realistic reasons why customers would want to work with you instead of the competition without ever knocking the competition.

3. Create content that fosters emotional engagement.  There should be an impactful connection between what you offer and what your customers need. Rather than leading with the sale, focus on engaging customers on their journey to success.  Create a lasting emotional connection that will nurture them towards the point of sale. Your message should be short and sweet. It should encompass their needs instead of being a story about you. Use a transition such as, “We offer a service that will [state the values and what it can do for them].”

  • Example: “We offer a service that will build the confidence of your team members, increase your customer satisfaction and reduce the stress of our managers through our proven training.”

4. Create short compelling videos. If you want to connect with your audience, your greatest impact is through video. It creates rapport by giving your viewers a sense of who you are. Viewers are able to feel like they know you, like you and even trust you before ever having a conversation with you.  People are beginning to use videos not only to educate, promote and inform, but to post casually and answer questions on social media platforms.

It is clear that the world is increasingly going visual in its engagement with content in the social world. Taking a visual-first approach unleashes the potential for engagement across all social networks. – Neal Schaffer, President, PDCA Social

5. Connect via social media. Social media platforms are the perfect place to tell your story, share your lifestyle, and market your business/self.  Instead of just contributing to the constant noise and chaos, allow your social media platforms to work for you. Develop a strategy that promotes you and your brand, without being overtly salesy. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter change rapidly, so it is important to keep up with key changes and adopt practices that work best for you and best represent your brand. Use a portion of your marketing budget to have social media influencers promote your product and services. This will open the door for potential customers you would not otherwise reach.

Five simple tips; no magic tricks and no secrets revealed. It will take discipline and hard work.  When you begin utilizing the tools that are already out there for you, letting them work for you, and implementing these tips in the right way – you will see massive growth in your business.




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Every sales representative occasionally feels like they may have missed a sale because they did not close the sale.  If this happens, remember it does not mean you no longer have a chance. You see, the term “Kill them with Kindness “ has its place in sales. Keep the communication lines open and continue to move the conversation forward to create a great customer experience with your company and yourself.

By moving a conversation forward, even if you don’t get the deal, you might:

  • Keep a customer you were at risk of losing
  • Get missing personal information so you can market to them later
  • Generate a referral for future business clients
  • Create positive conversation about your company
  • Plant a seed in the prospect’s mind for a future sale


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When I lead training workshops, I provide a recommended reading list.  Why? Because we know that readers are leaders at all levels of an organization.  There is even new research showing that one’s success can be equated to their reading level.

A must read, and often built into our Leadership Excellence and Management Workshops is a classic, Monday Morning Leadership by David Cottrell.  While the book is loaded with fundamental tips, for leaders and managers at all levels, the final chapter sets the stage for continued growth and professional development. In this book, Tony, the coach talks about the difference between the comfort zone and the learning zone.

I thought it would be an appropriate topic for beginning a new year. So let me ask, are you in a comfort zone or a learning zone? Are you moving forward or remaining stagnant? Is the way you have always done it, going to keep you and your organization in the front of the market? In the book the parts of the learning zone are presented as three rooms.

3 Rooms in the Learning Zone:

  1. Reading Room where “You learn more by reading more… the more you learn, the more you earn.”  Did you know that if you read from a business book for 10 minutes each day, you might read 12 books in a year?
  2. Listening Room where you gain knowledge by listening to employees and co-workers.  Attending conferences and seminars, or listening to audio books is another way to learn. Did you know the average person spend 500 hours a year in their car?
  3. Giving Room is where you share the knowledge you gain with others.  “The more you teach, the more accountable you become to what you’re teaching.”

As you looked through the rooms, where do you stand?

I am no one to judge, while an avid non-fiction reader, 2017 was my year to coast. I am being vulnerable here, as I bought many “must read” business books. But somewhere along the way, I got hold of a Vince Flynn novel, the Mitch Rapp series, I could not put them down. While waiting for the next last one to come off the press, I got hooked on Daniel Silva and went through the entire Gabriel Allon series! That was a lot of reading, great entertainment but did it move my goals forward, or, the authors? I have set some learning goals for 2018. I hope you will join me.

In the final chapter of Monday Morning Leadership , the coach also shares common reason people do not set goals.

4 Reasons People do not Set Goals

  1. They do not understand the importance of goal-setting.
  2. They do not know how to set good goals.
  3. They are afraid of failing to meet the goals.
  4. Achieving goals might require them to leave their comfort zone.

Remember, from this book one of the wisdom quotes is “For you to be the very best, you cannot allow yourself to become complacent in your comfort zone.  You need to be reaching for improvement.”  Complacency is the enemy of Success. Although the book is designed for leaders, the principles are applicable to all.


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For many entrepreneurs making the sale or closing the deal can be intimidating and at times seem like an impossible task. We want to show confidence in our product, services and abilities, but we do not want to be the “always pitching”, “cheesy”, “salesy” person that we have all had the unfortunate experience of dealing with from time to time.  In my experience, the most effective way to make the sale is to drop the “sales” attitude and be authentic. My posture towards potential clients is not that I sell products and services, it is that I solve problems and know how to meet their needs. When you can explain the benefits, the sale happens naturally.

Here are four simple tips to keep in mind as you adjust your sales attitude for the upcoming year.

  1. Dust off the telephone and start making calls. Social media and other modern technology tools are highly effective ways to prospect, promote, and advertise.  The telephone is still the most powerful tool in your kit. Prospects today receive fewer calls than ever before, which is why utilizing the telephone in the right way will catapult your sales.  So planning your calls ahead of time is a must! Set aside enough time to get into a rhythm and make sure that your conversations do not seem rushed. Know your objective and make clear the purpose of your call. One of the most common mistakes people make is by trying to contact their prospects between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm. It is better to call them earlier or later than the traditional office hours. Most of the important prospects are frequently in the office early and stay late, so you have a better chance of catching them and avoiding the “gatekeepers” of you call before 8:30am or after 5:30pm.
  2. You do not have to stick to the script. While it is great to have a script to keep yourself on track and make sure you cover the main talking points, sticking to the script can do more harm than good if it is generic and sounds just like everyone else’s sales pitch. Make sure that your script is client focused and that you are only referencing it for key information.
  3. Focus on their need. The majority of clients and prospects care less about what your product or service is and more about how it solves their problems and alleviates frustrations. Ask your prospects what challenges they are facing and really listen to their response. Follow up with questions that require more than a simple yes or no answer. Then offer solutions by explaining how your product or service will benefit them, meet their need or solve their problem. When you know their needs, you can focus on them. People do not buy products, they invest in solutions.
  4. Close with choices. Rather than asking them “Is that something you are interested in?” or “Does that sound good to you?” – give your prospect a few choices. For example, when I am presenting a DiSC Workshop to a team, I ask if they would prefer a half day or a whole day or training. Or I ask if they would prefer meeting on-site or scheduling something off-site. I am much more likely to seal the deal using this approach, because in a subtle way, they have already committed.

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Teamwork DiSCIn the last post, we covered the first two team building tips on culture and communication.  Below are final three team management tips related to trust, accountability, and recognition.

Tip #3 – Build trust among team members. Success will always be limited if trust is lacking. The job of a good team leader is to cultivate a safe environment, where members feel comfortable being open and honest with the group about their weaknesses, fears and limitations.  Teambuilding activities can be incredibly effective.

The idea of activities has gotten somewhat of a bad rap, because most people hear “team-building exercise” and immediately assume they are going to be crammed in a room, thrown in an awkward and unrealistic scenario, and asked to share their deepest fear with a group of people they are forced to spend the afternoon with. However, when these exercises are done correctly and in a healthy environment, the positive results are astonishing. We have successfully been helping teams build vulnerability based trust using our program, The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, based on Patrick Lencioni’s best-selling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Tip #4 – Encourage accountability. In addition to frequently checking in with your team, give them permission to check-in among themselves and hold each other accountable. This can only work when concrete expectations and timelines are set. Not only will this reinforce communication and trust between team members, it will also help to avoid pitfalls, remove obstacles and assure constant progress. This seems to be one of the most difficult tasks and when issues and timelines are not addressed, it later becomes a personal issue.  There are a lot of activities that can help team members practice accountability, including have everyone go around the room and share what they believe is their strength and their weakness as it relates to the team. Then, let the peers share their candid feedback.

Tip #5 – Recognize achievements and give sincere praise. It is a widely known fact that when you positively reinforce a desired behavior, a person is far more likely to continue repeating that behavior. Leading your team from a posture of praise for good outcomes, achievements and behaviors is far more effective than teaching them to fear negative consequences. They will feel valued by you and strive to exceed expectations. A few tips to ensure your comments are perceived as sincere. Never make a statement of praise, thanks or appreciation unless you can tell them why. Try dropping hand-written notes to your co-workers and team members.

When we ask, in many of our training sessions, if anyone has received a hand-written note from a co-worker or a boss to raise their hand, we follow it up with the question, “where is that note now?” Only about 3 in 300 have ever said they do not know or they threw it away. The rest of them say they, treasure the notes and keep them in a safe or visible place. By taking just a few moments of your time to acknowledge a person on your team and show them how much you appreciate the job they do, you will not only make their day but also reinforce the desired behavior.

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Teamwork DiSC“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”  This simple statement from the classic movie Cool Hand Luke is truer in our workplace than we want to admit.

We live in a culture where employee engagement and productivity are rapidly decreasing, while business competition, customer expectations, and new technology are on the rise. While there is no quick-fix or easy-button to transform your company, I have found that the simple solution is still the right one. A successful company or business team must have effective leadership. Now more than ever, being able to manage an effective team is vital to the success of an organization.

This post and the next will cover 5 simple tips to keep in mind when you are building and managing your team.  The first two tips contained here will be on culture and communication.  The final three tips will follow in the next post and they will be on trust, accountability, and recognition.

Tip #1 – Create a culture that celebrates individuality. Your job as a leader is to help identify each person’s unique skill set and how they can best utilize it to contribute to the success of the whole team.   The fastest way to demotivate your team is by trying to force them to fit in to an environment that does not allow them to operate in the manner most effective for them. Great leadership is not about bossing people around. It is about inspiring them and guiding them towards a common goal. You will pull leaders forward when you encourage them to believe in themselves and what they bring to the table.

Tip #2 – Communicate effectively. In order for your team to maintain a result oriented mindset, there must be an open dialogue for their ideas. People want to feel valued, heard and respected, not just prioritized.  As a leader you must be intentional with your words. If you want your team to be in alignment with your vision, you should adequately articulate information, priorities and long-term goals.  Do not shy away from the difficult conversations just because they are uncomfortable. Even when the content is unfavorable, people tend to be open and receptive when you create a safe space, speak with grace and ask for their input.

The golden rule, while well intended, does not apply to a cross cultural, cross gender, and cross generational workplace. Today it is about invoking the Platinum Rule:  Treat people and communicate with people the way they want to be communicated with.  We use Everything DiSC Workplace to change cultures. This generational tool helps bridge the gap between learning style, communication, and personality differences that can cause petty annoyances.

Please come back for tips three thru five next week.


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youngworkersBy 2025, millennials will account for over 75% of the global workplace.  With this fact in mind, many organizations allocate a significant amount of time and resources to finding ways to accommodate this group’s learning preferences and skill sets.  Many of us fear for the future when we think about placing all we have worked for in seemingly incapable hands of a generation whose thoughts, ideas and processes are so foreign to us. They want different things, are motivated by different incentives, and have drastically different values.

While there are clear benefits to examining trends, tactics, and behaviors in order to chart the best course of action; I suggest focusing on the many ways in which they are not so different from the rest of the workforce. The skills needed to manage a successful team have not and will not change. You may need to modify your approach a little bit but ultimately great management is individual. You just have to be willing to know and understand the members of your team on a personal basis.

Here are five simple things to remember as you master the art of effectively managing a team, even if they are millennials.

  1. Provide Feedback. You cannot avoid crucial conversations because you are too busy to provide positive feedback or to uncomfortable providing negative. Both are extremely necessary for success. Your team wants to look up to you and learn from you. According recent studies, millennials look to their direct manager as their number one source of development. However, 54% report feeling like their managers did not provide the developmental support they were looking for. People crave and respond well to thoughtful feedback. Do not shy away from an opportunity to invest in their individual success and the success of your team.
  2. Coach More Than You Manage. Be a leader who is worthy of being followed. People need to know that they are valued and that you recognize the strengths they bring to your team. While leadership and structure are necessary, people respond better when they feel you respect their ideas. The heavy hand of authority and the mindset of “command and control” are both outdated and completely ineffective. If you want your employee engagement to rise above the shockingly low 30% average, do not expect them to just silently comply with whatever directive you hand down. Encourage and inspire them. Give them permission to voice new ideas, and the freedom to solve new problems and challenges their own way.
  3. Build Relationships. I will continue to say this, because it will continue to be of the utmost importance. Building relationships and nurturing a sense of community are essential components in maintaining a successful team. Encourage socialization and group projects. This new generation of professionals enjoy preforming their tasks in a more relaxed, communal atmosphere. They thrive in settings where they are able to access and have close relationships with their superiors. Consider offering a mentoring session every few weeks as part of an incentive program.
  4. Give Them Something to Believe In. We exist in a culture where obligation has given way to choice. People search for inspiration in all aspects of their lives. The “why” matters more than the “what.” Include your team in your vision. Let them know their mission is tied to a bigger purpose and explain why their role fits intricately into the “big picture.” Passion is a much more compelling motivator than simply making a list of demands.
  5. Capitalize on Their Abilities. Preforming multiple tasks at one time is a way of life for the millennial. Talking on the phone, while composing an email and answering several instant messages is the “norm” for them. In fact, without this level of chaos, they are likely to become bored and disengaged. Instead of stifling these behaviors, encourage them to help improve networking and multitasking abilities across your organization.

To find a book suggestion for millennials entering the workforce, visit post Three Leadership Tips for Millennials and Boomers.


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