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Public Speaking: Worse Than Death! Really?

by Guest Blogger Michael Harrison

One of the best ways to market services and many other products is through seminars or presentations. They are an easy way to maximise your time and build credibility.

Study after study reveals that people are more afraid of speaking in front of a group than of death itself. I understand it, but because public speaking is a big part of my work, I’m not afraid of getting on stage and tackling the topic of the day in front of a large group of men and women.

In fact, I enjoy it, and you will, too, if you recognise that fear of public speaking can not only be controlled, you can eliminate it completely by following some simple ground rules.

First, know what the heck you’re talking about. Is there an agenda? If not, create one. If there is a list of talking points, do your research and develop the expertise to speak eloquently about a company change, industry trend, or a national economic issue with ease and authority.

Use charts and graphs. I can stand in front of a group and talk about a pile of statistics. Some in the audience may even listen, if not totally understand.

A simple pie chart conveys a great deal of information at a glance. Explain it in words and your audience may drift away despite your powerful insights. Give them graphics that deliver a lot of information visually and you maintain listener’s attention and they aren’t looking at you. Audience members are looking at your PowerPoint deck and learning the hard stuff quickly.

Rehearse. Sure, you may know the topic but can you express it clearly, succinctly, within the context of your presentation? Prepare notes of key points on index cards.

Stand in front of the mirror and deliver your presentation. It’s the easiest way to discover holes in your presentation that you can fill now, rather than in the Q & A after your presentation.

Make it interesting. I don’t care how serious the subject, how dire the outcomes, you can engage audience members and pull them in. Skip the balloon animals, handfuls of glitter, and lame jokes.

Respect your listeners, their experience and opinions. Build your presentation to be industry specific. With public speaking, within the company, or at the latest industry trade show, one size does not fit all.

The more specific you are to the topic or issues, the more engaging you’ll be to listeners who want specific answers from you – the expert, or at least the moderator of the meeting.

Ask for audience input. If you stand up there for two hours talking about whatever, attendees doze off about half way through your presentation.

Ask the audience questions and encourage group discussion. Just set parameters before opening the floor to keep the talk on target.

Get there early. I always get to speaking events well ahead of the time I’m scheduled to take the stage. This gives me time to check the facilities, make sure I have all necessary equipment (and it works), and that the microphone level is set. I’m ready to go.

This also gives me the opportunity to meet some of the attendees and get to know them by name, company, position – I’m not speaking to a room full of strangers. I’ve met these men and women and they’ve met me before the presentation.

Leave plenty of time for questions. I love questions from the audience. (1) First, that’s how you know what’s important to attendees, (2) other audience members often have solutions to share, and (3) as the main speaker, you control the flow of the discussion.

Direct the questions to solutions to problems others have brought up. You may not have the highly specific answer to a highly specific question, but another member of the audience just might.

The Q & A session that follows a presentation is often the most informative.

Expect to be asked questions at follow up events. In some cases, people are shy about asking in front of a peer group. In other cases, the attendee didn’t think of the question until later. In either case, as a public speaker there is no time clock to punch. In fact…

…make sure attendees have your contact information. You may get a call with a question months after your presentation.

Employee Engagement

You Don’t Need a Bundle To Boost Productivity

Do more for less. In less time. With fewer people. With bare bone operational expenses. Hey, that’s what all business owners want. Increased productivity.

You don’t need a lot of money to get your work team motivated – even enthusiastic. Possible?

You bet it is and it doesn’t cost a lot, either.

Your employees will work harder for you, with greater focus, if they enjoy their jobs. Now, that’s where you come in.

Provide incentives for excellent performance. It doesn’t have to be an expensive watch or a big salary bonus. Award excellence on the job with a day off. That’s all.

Give your best and brightest an unscheduled day off to show the company’s appreciation for a job done well.

If your company can afford the expense, send your top salesperson and spouse on a week-long vacation. It works, but you really don’t have to spend the money on travel and accommodations, especially if every penny counts.

A special day off is an incentive, and knowing that each employee could “win” that extra day off for excellent performance, chances are productivity goes up, and it only costs you the expense of a day off for an employee.

Make it fun to come to work. How many offices have you been in with neutral paint, industrial “designer” furniture, and a carpet that can be cleaned quickly? Most offices are total yawn fests.

Add some colour. Bring in plants – lots and lots of plants. Encourage employees to turn their workspaces into their own with pictures of family, funny pictures – the kinds of things that make a cubicle a little more personal.

“Celebrate good times, come on!” Have your HR department track birthdays. Learn what each employee enjoys and plan a birthday party customized for each team mate.

If the head accountant enjoys sailing, rent a boat and have a ball. Sure, it might be expensive but could you price out the boost in employee productivity.

Task one person to track b-day parties and the “likes” of employees to create the perfect occasion for that perfect employee.

Show your appreciation loudly and a lot. I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again. Praise loudly. Criticize softly.

Good on-the-job-performance is worthy of a pat on the back in front of co-workers. Sometimes, a simple show of appreciation is all it takes to boost the morale and productivity of your entire staff.

Cost? $0.00

Not a bad return on investment, eh?

Conversely, never criticize an employee in front of other employees. This is a morale buster guaranteed to lower productivity and increase employee turnover. No one likes criticism, but it’s a lot easier to take in the privacy of your office.

And don’t just criticize. Provide steps the employee can take to improve on-the-job performance.

Promote from within. This is HUGE! If employees recognize the business’ policy of promoting from within existing ranks, each employee has the opportunity to move up.

Some hard work, some insightful insight, a few cost-cutters, and your entry-level employee finds herself the head of the department. If employees believe that they can (and will) grow in their jobs, they’ll stick around longer, lowering recruitment costs.

Increase salaries without a promotion. Some companies have tiered pay scales. If an employee gets a promotion, salary goes up to that new level.

However, not every employee will get promoted. Make it clear that employees don’t have to be promoted to receive an increase in pay. In fact, those employees who’ve been with you for years will be happy with annual salary increases and some sincere praise from you.

Add exercise to the work day. The health of employees has an impact on productivity. Employee absenteeism, recruitment, hiring and training, “asleep at the switch” – any of these will drag down company productivity.

A healthy workforce is a productive workforce. Pay for gym memberships. Add a walking path around your office building. Add gym equipment in the basement. Bring in a yoga instructor.

And while you’re at it, toss the junk food you have in the vending machine in the break room. Instead, provide FREE fruit. An orange has nutrients. A candy bar has calories.

Small changes can make a big difference in your company’s productivity. Start by talking to employees. Not just department heads who’ll give you stock answers. Talk to the people doing the job.

What do they need? What do they want? How can you help them be more efficient?

Productivity doesn’t cost a bundle when you create a corporate culture that puts employees first. These are the men and women who add value to your business every day.

Return the favour. Every day.

Need to Tweet

Are you LinkedIn?

Networking in business can be is hard. It’s can be difficult to consult with others in your field in a world that is so competitive. When looking for people to join your team, it can be hard to find just the right candidate, especially when that person may be a half a world away. And when looking for a job, it’s nearly impossible to get to the hiring manager of a company you’ve always wanted to work for when you don’t have any of their personal contact information.

That’s all changed, thanks to “LinkedIn”.

LinkedIn started in 2003 and is still growing. It connects business people via networks of common interests. It might be by a topic of expertise, looking for a job, or posting a job. Think of it as an online dating service, but for trusted business professionals.

The site was started by five people who invited about 350 of their business contacts to join their network. By the end of the first month, LinkedIn had 4,500 members in the network. Now there are over 360 million members in over 200 countries. It’s about creating a network of business expertise and trust and using that network to be seen, get advice, give advice, look for a job, find the perfect candidate, and much more. (And yes, there are a few spammers and snake oil salesmen too.)

Not only does the site reach millions of people worldwide, those looking for your expertise can find you and do so quickly. There are ways to advertise and reach all 360 million users, or you can be more specific. You can create a LinkedIn page for your business so everyone can see you, and that is free. You can host a blog on different marketing topics. You can provide advice to those who are looking for a marketing expert. You can send out a survey. Although the site has millions of people across the world, the way it is set up, those who are looking for your information can find it.

When you want to find the right person for a job opening you have, it can be very difficult. Perhaps you usually post the opening in a newspaper, or on Seek or even hire a head-hunter or contracting firm. These methods bring in hundreds of non-relevant resumes, which can make the hiring process onerous and distasteful. The benefit of posting an opening on LinkedIn is that those who need a job in your field can reach you better and they can be referred by others on the LinkedIn network, giving more credence to their applications. There is also a feature for an automated talent search that allows you to precisely target candidates.

One interesting aspect to LinkedIn is that you can ask, answer and collaborate on business questions with a large community. Many people in your same line of work or position are willing to give advice and help others. You can ask by topic such as administration, finance, legal, management, marketing and more. This can help any business avoid pitfalls, but also provide ideas that never occurred to you.

And it builds your personal brand.

The Internet offers businesses the opportunity to reach more people than ever. LinkedIn has provided a way for businesses and people to connect in a trusted environment at little to no cost. Don’t miss this chance. Learn to maximize your use of LinkedIn.

Employment law

Are YOU at risk?

The recent high profile fraud / employee theft case reported in the newspapers is a timely reminder about the need for sound risk management strategies.

Let’s face it. Running a business carries significant risk and responsibility.

Even the directors of a club, association or non-profit business can be at risk if an employee acts dishonestly or harasses another staff member.

In today’s litigious world genuine mistakes by business owners and managers can result in statutory fines or penalties and a wrongful dismissal claim can land you with significant legal costs.

Management Liability Insurance protects you and your management team as well as your business against a series of risks that go hand-in-hand with running a business. A risk mitigation strategy backed by appropriate insurance can save you from losing, not only your business assets, but also your personal assets in the event of an unexpected event.

Even the legal expenses incurred to defend allegations can be crippling.

At Insurance House we have management liability plans that can protect you against these costs. A Management Liability policy combines many traditional stand-alone policies such as Directors and Officers Liability, Crime, Cyber and Privacy Liability, Employment Practices Liability, Discrimination and other risks into a single policy.

Because each insurance company has different terms and conditions you should ask your Insurance House broker to match your policy to your specific requirements.

To learn more check out our video.

 

 

bored businesswoman

Meetings Matter: Stop the Time Suckers

By Guest Blogger Michael Harrison

Within 10 minutes, I can tell whether a business meeting is going to be productive or a waste of time. I sit through a lot of meetings each year and I know good from bad, effective from time waster, productive from DOA. I’m a “meeting” expert. I’ve been to enough of them to qualify for that expert status.

Meetings are one of the biggest time wasters during the business day. You have your A-Team around the table, and productivity on the work floor drops as some manager talks about quarterly numbers while you wonder why you’re even there!

A business associate of mine was asked by a client to attend a meeting to gather opinions on the physical shape of the client’s new product, launching soon. So, he offered his opinion, honestly explained it was an uninformed opinion, and all the way home wondered why it was necessary for him to be there since he had nothing to do with what the product would look like.

Sure, inter-office communication is essential to smooth work flow, but do you really need a meeting – a big deal that, instead, could be communicated in five minutes in the hallway if you explain the situation to the right team member?

Meetings take time to prepare, they usually involve open-ended debate, and I’ve seen this so many times: meetings that simply “stir the pot” and make things even more confusing. Yes, poorly-planned business meetings can be project killers.

Here’s how to make the most of meetings and get back to work.

One person runs the show and it may not be you. If the meeting is about financials, let the company CFO run things while you take notes.

If the accountant misses a key point, add it to your conclusion as you close the meeting and get back to work.

Create an agenda and stick to it. Here’s what we talk about. That’s it. If other topics arise, shut them down. “Yes, thank you for your thoughts but we’re trying to land this new client here.”

Cut the meeting agenda. It happens all the time. Too many topics in too short a time. Go over your talking points, delete as many as you can, and save them for next week’s meeting, or better yet, send an email to all stakeholders.

Time meetings. If an office meeting is scheduled from 1:00 to 2:00, cut it in half. If you and your team are focused and prepped, you can get a lot done in 30 minutes, and get everybody back to work.

Skip the refreshments, skip the jokes, skip the side bars with a single attendee while the rest of the C-suite sits there wasting time.

Set a timer for 30 minutes. When the timer rings, the meeting is over.

Manage the managers. A lot of management believe that if they don’t contribute they aren’t doing their jobs. Change this aspect of corporate culture. If you can’t make “it” better, don’t waste valuable meeting time. Tick, tock.

Eliminate all distractions. Pull the drapes. Hang the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the conference room door. All digital devices off; all eyes on the meeting’s manager – you, or some other critical staffer who needs to explain new regulations or procedures ASAP. Again, no coffee. No scones. Just the facts, projected outcomes, and time table.

Meeting adjourned.

Cut the number of meetings you have. An email, a link, a folder, the latest projections, downstream logjams – you can identify problems and provide a solution with no meeting at all. Just send an email to the teammate tasked with fixing “it” whatever “it” is.

Also, only meet with people who belong there. Don’t call in the entire top-tier management team for a marketing roll-out. Just the marketing and promotion department.

Find a more efficient way to solve the problem. It’s your business, so chances are, it’s your problem. Hiring a new employee is expensive. Consider a more efficient way to handle the work load – outsource. You only pay for work done, and you save the expense of recruiting a new hire.

Today’s Internet delivers solutions to business challenges. You just have to know where to look.

You may hurt some feelings, but explain to managers the purpose of meetings, and how you want them run.

Short and sweet. And done.

Trust, leadership, law.

Selling Yourself with Trust

When a customer makes a buying decision or even whether or not to hire you, it becomes a question of trust.  It’s not if they trust your firm, but if they trust you.

Do they trust that you will keep their business’ interests ahead of your own?  Do they have confidence in you and your new relationship to spend their scare resources with you?  From the very first moment you are in contact with a potential customer, during the presentations, meetings and email contact, you must give the client the sense that you are to be trusted with their business and their livelihood.

In a thought…

When writing to the customers via e-mail, web content, brochure, or an introductory letter, use words that evoke confidence.  Your messages should be strong, clear and crisp.  Avoid phrases such as “I feel” or “might be able to”. Embrace words like “I know”, “confident”, strength”.  Make your sentences simple and concise.  When the customers are evaluating you through what you have written, it’s not only important what you say, but how you say it.

In a look…

Do you remember that old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”?  Well, people do.

First impressions are everything.  Before you leave for work that day of a big meeting, look in the mirror.  Does the image you see invoke trust?  Is your hair cut and combed?  Is your suit a dark neutral colour and is it pressed and are your nails clean?  I’m sure you’re saying, “these things don’t matter.” They do.

Use good eye contact.  Watch your body language.  Don’t be defensive.  Keep an open posture.  When you’re at the meeting, be neat and organized.  Perhaps the customer is considering what your company has to offer, but they are really evaluating you as a representative of your company.  If they don’t trust you, they won’t deal with your company.

In a word…

What you say is the most important part of earning the trust of your customer.

The key to knowing what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it is to practice.  It sounds silly, but it is not.  Before going to that big meeting, consider carefully what you will say and how you will say it.  Ask a co-worker or spouse to roll-play with you.  If you have the opportunity, video tape yourself and ask someone to critique what they see.  Avoid “ums” and “ahs” and using the word “ok” fifty times.  Be strong, but truthful in your statements, giving the customers a reason to trust you.

The Internet has made people even more nervous and hesitant.  Clients are discerning and cautious in their spending.  In order to gain their business, you must earn their trust.  Once they trust you, you will be in a position to help them and earn your own success.

Business people discussing at meeting

Planning for Success

Planning for success can become more of a science than an art form when there is an understanding of business life cycle principles and the ability to identify the characteristic traits of each growth phase.

Entrepreneurs that succeed are typically the ones that can see the forest from the trees. They stay focused. They review new opportunities, but are also aware that pursuing them often takes them away from achieving their objective.

Here’s a framework for planning through the various stages of growth from start up to maturity. Each stage has its constraints and opportunities. Identifying the barriers that prevent business owners and entrepreneurs from moving successfully through each stage is the key to planning for success.

Mindset

Central to your approach is learning to view your business as a separate entity. In a nutshell: you are not your business. When you realise that your business is your product, you can step outside and reinvent it. It starts with entrepreneurial thinking.

The mindset of an entrepreneur is: I’ll build the business; someone else does the work. Even when a business owner is also the primary “producer” of business it’s critical that the business is set up to support that structure. You have to work on the business to the point where it can support you to work in the business. The systems work so you don’t have to.

Starry-eyed Enthusiasm 

As a business grows, it moves through a series of distinct phases that make up the organisational life cycle. Each has a unique set of identifying characteristics and problems that befall all entrepreneurs and business owners. The benefit in using this prism in planning is that the problems are unchanging and highly predictable. By knowing where your business stands in the life cycle, you can identify these major barriers to growth before they occur.

Starry-eyed enthusiasm or “infancy” is the stage of a business’ life cycle that eats money like it’s going out of fashion. Consequently planning has some obvious imperatives: long hours, making sales and keeping the cash coming in is paramount so plan for anything that will speed up the underwriting process; fast medical checks and good financial evidence.

Planning pointer: Track cash flow before profits. Rather than using traditional monthly P&L statements to monitor your company’s financial performance, use a 12-week rolling cash flow report. Forget about profits and watch cash flow like a hawk.

Sophisticated confusion

At this stage the business manages to establish ongoing sales with some level of predictable gross margin. With revenue, the entrepreneur pursues one opportunity after the other. But at this stage planning needs to cover what many entrepreneurs consider “boring” – infrastructure, internal systems, budgets, policies or procedures.

As the business starts to grow in all directions the founder gets spread alarmingly thin. Things begin to fall through the cracks. During sophisticated confusion, the founder always reports progress in terms of sales growth.

The planning pointer: Stay focused. Carefully analyse the case for any new venture or expansion. Ask:” Do we have the core competence, knowledge and skills to take this on?”

Towards the end of the sophisticated confusion phase you need to plan for succession – not the retirement version; rather succession and transition from founder-entrepreneur to chief executive by hiring an experienced manager from outside the business to institute rules, regulations and policies. In other words to write The Manual: This is the Way we do It Here.  

Planning pointer: watch out for the Founder’s trap. This is the big one in planning for success – and it comes when the founder often finds it impossible to let go. The entrepreneur wants other people to make decisions, but doesn’t trust them to make the right ones. Until the founder learns to delegate, the company can only grow to the extent of his or her abilities.

Maturity

This is the payoff of all the hard yards of establishing, growing and nurturing the business. It is a testament to the founder overcoming enormous obstacles. It is also a time to plan for reinvention (because maturity is only one step away from obscurity), constantly redefining what business you are in. This critical activity requires you to define your business according to the needs of your customer, not according to the product or service you sell. By doing so, you expand the boundaries of your market and open up possibilities for future growth.

Rather than add layers between you and the customer plan to create/build individual profit centres/business units, each one focused on a different product group or market segment and led by someone with a strong entrepreneurial mindset.

Planning pointer: To stay successful, you have to keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive.

Some final thoughts

  • At what point in the business life cycle is your business?
  • If it’s in the starry eyed enthusiasm stage; cash flow is the lifeline
  • What systems and procedures are in place?
  • Can the business be developed as a “turn-key” business?
  • Does the business owner have the courage/strength/capabilities to appoint a GM at the appropriate time?
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Selling to High-Value Prospects

High-value prospects have the financial resources to buy from you. Buy your products. Buy your services. Buy your time.

People with money view purchases differently from those who maintain tight budgets. “I don’t have the money” isn’t an objection you hear from wealthy people, or wealthy business owners who manage successful enterprises.

Selling to high-value clients or customers involves the obvious: wealthy buyers look for quality; cost isn’t the problem; wealthy buyers look for value in all their purchases; the rich are used to getting what they want FAST. These traits and characteristics of wealthy consumers have been well known since the days of open markets set up along primitive, dusty streets.

However, things have changed with the advent of the Internet. Today, wealthy consumers still buy quality, and cost isn’t usually a critical factor. That hasn’t changed, but pitching your products or services to successful people, or company managers and owners with deep pockets, has changed.

The Internet has changed the way we sell to wealthy people, and businesses with money in the bank. Here are some tips to make an effective pitch to the rich.

Wealthy buyers use the Internet to conduct comparison shopping.

It’s a mistake to think that money isn’t an issue with people of means. It is. Oh, the wealthy may not be concerned about the extra costs of options on their expensive cars, but even the rich will conduct comparison shopping for a multi million dollar home.

A million dollars here, a million dollars there – it adds up, but the Internet has simplified comparison shopping for all of us. Any high-wealth individual can conduct a quick Internet search of multi-million dollar beachfront mansions, and do it quickly.

It may be counter-intuitive but selling to a billionaire differs from selling to a family of four with a million dollars in investments. A million isn’t what it used to be, and it certainly doesn’t buy what it did a few decades ago.

Don’t waste the prospect’s time.

They have money. They have a beautiful home and a high-end auto that tells the world “I’m well off” but the one thing all that money can’t buy is time.

If you’re pitching the rich online, your website should be simple, and searches for site information should be flexible and fast.

If you’re sitting across the desk pitching the wealthy owner of a successful retail chain, you should come prepared, make the pitch, and know when to exit the stage.

Prospects with money don’t have any more time than the rest of us, and in many cases, the wealthy buyer has less free time. Don’t waste it. Tell prospects what they need to know to make a buying decision that benefits your business. Then make it simple to conduct the transaction.

Individualise services.

Investment companies often elevate high-wealth clients to more individualised service offerings, and a private wealth management professional, once a certain dollar threshold has been invested.

If you have $10,000 with a mutual fund company, chances are you’ll work with the representative who answers the phone. She’s pleasant, knowledgeable, and helpful in conducting your redemption.

If you have $10 million invested with a mutual fund company, your accounts are often assigned to a personal money manager. That wealthy investor gets a private telephone number and the extension of his financial advisor. Her calls are returned. He receives advice on lowering tax liability.

In other words, the higher the value of a prospect the more personalised the services or products you sell. One way to reach the rich is to provide one-of-a-kind customized products or services. The exclusivity appeals to many high-value prospects. It brings with it – status!

Know the high-value prospect’s business as well as she knows it.

Before making a pitch to a well-to-do business owner, do your research. What challenges does the business face today and tomorrow?

For example, will the business eventually be owned by the next generation? Is there a succession plan in place?

Is the industry sector undergoing change? Did a big competitor just move in across town? Conduct extensive research to prepare for a meeting with a successful business owner. Identify challenges. Then, simply listen. Chances are, that successful business owner already knows the challenges he faces. Let him describe them to you. Provide general information, but never tell a business owner how to run his or her business. It’s usually a deal killer.

Go where the rich people go.

There are any number of conferences, trade shows, seminars, roundtables, and other business get-togethers where wealthy business owners meet.

That’s where you want to be. You can’t pitch the rich face-to-face unless you’re where wealthy people gather for business or for pleasure.

Be there. Bring lots of business cards and follow up with a phone call, text message or video.

Pamper prospects.

We all like a little pampering – even if we’re used to it. Provide extra services. Make client care a top priority. Give away incentives that appeal to high-wealth prospects.

Make them feel special because they are special. They have the money to purchase what your company is selling. 

Follow up to ensure satisfaction.

A wealthy buyer spreads the word about the quality care he receives from your company, your store or restaurant. That wealthy buyer tells his wealthy friends about your business and those wealthy friends become prospects.

Once you’ve landed the account, use client relationship management (CRM) software to track progress on each customer’s project or order. Make sure you deliver the right products or services when promised and without glitches. If that wealthy consumer has to call your company for follow-up repairs, you may quickly lose that all-important goodwill you worked so hard to create.

To penetrate the high-value demographic, your business should look like it caters to wealthy consumers with embossed business cards and stationery, a sophisticated website design, flowers in the waiting area, and a reputation for quality care.

It’s true, cost is less of a concern when selling to high-wealth individuals, but regardless of cost, if you waste time, deliver late, ignore phone calls, or fail to fix problems, these well-to-do clients know they can move on to a business more suited to their needs.

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Why blogs work

There’s so much blogging on the Internet that we now tend to take it for granted. But blogging can be a strategic tool for your business.

How?

The main thing is to have a well-defined and specific objective. You will need to be clear as to what it is you want to achieve. Otherwise, the time, effort and resources you have expended are likely to go down the drain without any significant results.

Start by asking yourself who you want to read your blog; where they are likely to read articles, and how you can get your posts onto those sites.

Blogging can give you exposure that is targeted.  

You can’t generate sales unless the world knows your business exists.

Just because you may have set up your website doesn’t mean the traffic and sales leads will start to magically appear. It doesn’t work that way. You’ll need to go out and tell your potential customers about your business and that you’ve got the right solutions to their problems. Good, informative and engaging blogging to your target customers is a great way to promote your message

Blogging can get you relevant traffic.

One of the great advantages of targeted blogging is that it tends to draw the right type of traffic to your website. SEO’s and other social media marketing methods also help in generating traffic, but they are often less targeted.

Blogging raises your credibility.

When you post a high value article on your own or any of the blogs that cater to your target customers, it acts as an endorsement of your brand. It raises your chances of converting readers into buyers.

Blogging gets you connected.  

In every industry, there are people who are influencers and strong opinion-makers who can indirectly sway the purchasing decisions of customers. Blogging puts you in the spotlight.

If your posts offer good information, these influencers will take notice and maybe even endorse your business and open the door to new leads.

Blogging can boost your social media.

Information from blogs is shared on social media site. This means you have another window for sales opportunities.

The value of blogging depends on your objectives. If they’re clear and specific, the quality of your posts is good blogging can be one of your most effective ways of hastening your business growth and making connections with your potential clients.

Green grass with Carbon footprint 3D text isolated

Going Green: Cut Costs Not Services

In part 1 of this article we considered a number of ways you can save money by going green.

Here are some more ways you should consider.

Business Practices

  1. Invest in fuel-efficient automobiles when you replace your old gas-guzzlers. Think hybrids. The most fuel-efficient models can save you thousands of dollars in the costs of petrol every year, boosting your margins.
  2. Make sure your business fleet tires are properly inflated. Properly inflated tires save 3.3% on petrol costs for every mile you drive. (Again, do the math.)
  3. When employees (or you) must fly, take the most direct route. It may cost a few extra dollars for the non-stop route but you save on jet fuel and that’s just a plain nice thing to do.
  4. Walk, ride a bicycle or take mass transit to work. Obvious.
  5. Tele-commute. If employees can work from home let them. It saves time, money, petrol and it boosts morale.
  6. Consider switching to a four-day work week. Studies show that most workers would prefer to work four 10-hour days than five 8-hour days. Just make sure the office is covered throughout the work week and off hours as needed. And again, this is a morale booster for staff.

Boosting Your Overall “Greenness”

 

Then there are simple practices that you can apply in the workplace, on the road or at home. These are NOT life-altering steps, but they just may alter the health of the planet today, tomorrow and into the future, making the planet a safer, healthier place for our children, grandchildren and even our great grandchildren.

  1. Use re-useable cloth bags instead of plastic bags in the office or at home. Cloth biodegrades. Long-chain polymer plastic molecules will be here for thousands of years, clogging landfills, oceans and the garbage disposal.
  2. Turn off appliances in the office when not in use. If you know the computer is down for the day, turn it off. Same with TVs, music systems and other energy consuming devices.
  3. Replace incandescent lights with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. CFLs cut lighting costs by 25% and that’s money that gets added right to your bottom line.
  4. Use LED lighting. This technology uses even less energy. LED lighting is improving every year.
  5. Unplug battery chargers, cell phone chargers and other recharging devices when the device is fully charged. Even though rechargers aren’t pumping juice to your electronic gizmo, they still draw and waste power.
  6. Use cloth towels in restrooms instead of paper towels or electric hand drying machines. Cloth is easily cleaned, recycled and used over and over.
  7. Purchase products that come with the least amount of packaging. Some products come in big boxes with plastic covers, shrink wrapped. This is pure waste, whether at home or in the office. If you have a choice of simple packaging or layers of packaging, what do you think is best for your business and the environment?
  8. Purchase appliances with the Energy Star certification. These tools have passed rigorous inspections to receive that coveted Energy Star and, long term, they save you money no matter where you use them.
  9. Use a recycling service. These innovative businesses come to your office (or home) and take everything that can and should be recycled, from car batteries to stacks of cardboard boxes.
  10. Think green. Make it part of your corporate culture and your daily life. We live on a fragile planet and every step you can take to save energy and recycle goods helps.
  11. Tune up your HVAC systems annually. You’ll more than make up the costs of that tune up by using less energy.

Finally, advertise your business’ “greenness.” Use a green web host for your web site and display the hosting services emblem on your web site.

“Green” is growing fast in almost every sector of the business realm. Clients look for these signs of a caring company that utilises green technology to improve the health of the planet. It’s a great selling point, it improves employee morale and it boosts your bottom line.

It’s a good time to reflect on ways you can make your business greener. It starts at the top, with you – the owner or office manager, regional sales director or sole proprietor. It’s good for growing margins, it’s good for your employees and it’s good for your bottom line.