LEAP! 101 Ways to Grow Your Business on the Synergy Energy Show with Pam Perry

October 21, 2009

10 Ways to Reject the Recession and Build a Thriving Business
By Stephanie Chandler

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In a time when the lead news stories focus on business downsizing, the rising costs of gas and groceries and general economic turmoil, it is hard to avoid feeling the “recession depression.” But as business owners we have two choices: we can let the media send us into panic mode or we can view the economic downturn as an opportunity.

This is a time in the economy when millionaires are made. While some businesses are giving up and closing their doors, their competitors are seizing opportunities. Which side would you rather be on? Now is the time for you to rise above it—to stay a step ahead of your competition and Reject the Recession!

Here are ten ways to thrive in tough times:

1. Keep the Marketing Wheels in Motion
Though your first instinct may be to cut costs, this is the worst time to cut back on marketing. Studies show that businesses that continue marketing through a slow economy are the ones that come out ahead when the economy begins to turn. Make sure you have a marketing plan and stick to it. If your current marketing efforts aren’t producing results, try new strategies. When done correctly, marketing is an expense that should pay for itself. Find the strategies that work and then keep doing them.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Discount

The reality is that consumers are holding on tighter to their wallets. The key to unlock their dollars is in discounts. Take a cue from the big department stores—they are holding incredible sales and offering more coupons than ever. Reevaluate your pricing strategy and offer discounts off your most popular products and services. This may also be a good time to lower your prices across the board and then advertise your “New Lower Prices!” You can always raise them again later.

3. Leverage the Internet

Are you selling products and services from your website? Can you expand your sales channels by selling on eBay or another online venue? Are you reaching your customers with e-mail marketing? Is your website optimized for the search engines? It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to implement an online marketing and sales strategy. Even if you simply add gift certificate purchases to your website, you could uncover a whole new revenue stream. Seek out an online marketing expert and evaluate the opportunities.

4. Form a Mastermind Group

Get together with your staff or assemble a small group of people who understand your business and brainstorm opportunities. When several people get together with a blank slate and some good energy, magic can happen. Ask for ideas—you might be surprised by the results.

5. Tap into a New Niche
Is there a niche that you have been meaning to focus on? Can you uncover a new market that makes sense for your business? For example, a florist that specializes in weddings could pursue the corporate market, a residential real estate agent could go after the investor community or a virtual assistant could decide to specialize in serving the unique needs of financial planners. Pick a new market and then develop a plan of attack.

6. Reach Out to Your Customer Base

One of the most overlooked business opportunities comes from your existing and past clients. The fact that they have already done business with you makes it far more likely that they will do business with you in the future. Make sure you are marketing to them, reaching out and reminding them that you are there. Ask them for referrals and offer a powerful incentive such as a cash reward or gift card for referrals. Never let a referral go unnoticed!

7. Make Improvements
This is an ideal time to evaluate all of your policies and procedures. Do they make sense in this economy? Is your customer service team delivering up to your standards? Could your sales team benefit from some additional training? How can you help your company perform even better? What are steps you can take to improve customer loyalty? Look at your business through a magnifying class and seize the opportunity to improve it across the board.

8. Survey Your Customers
Much can be uncovered by reaching out to your customers and asking them for feedback. Develop a short list of questions that include ratings on your products, services and staff. Ask specific questions such as, “How can we improve your experience with us?” Tools such as http://www.SurveyMonkey.com can help you accomplish this easily. Once you receive the survey results, evaluate them and take action to make improvements. You will undoubtedly find themes in the answers such as, “It takes too long to get a call back.” Let your customers know that you heard them and share what improvements you are making as a result of their survey responses.

9. Keep an Eye on Capital
What goes down must come up and the economy will rebound, though it may be awhile. If business is slower than usual, form a plan for getting through this period. You might need to open a line of credit, visit your bank and apply for a loan, seek private funding or even bring in a partner. Running out of capital can quickly kill a business. Make sure you assess how much you may need before you need it and have a plan for forging ahead.

10. Get Help and Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Now is a great time to sharpen your own skills. Take classes, read books and network with others in your industry so you can learn from them. Get involved in your trade association and make sure you are on top of your game. Look for joint venture opportunities. Make yourself more efficient by outsourcing services that consume your valuable time. For example, if you are doing the bookkeeping for your business, hand that off to someone else so you can have more time to focus on what you do best. Also, determine your priorities. Where should you be spending your time? What can you do to make your company bigger, better and stronger? Leave the worrying to your competitors and instead seek out opportunities and stay positive. When you put the right energy and focus into your business—despite the economy—the results can extraordinary.

About the Author:
Stephanie Chandler is an author of several business and marketing books including “LEAP! 101 Ways to Grow Your Business” and “From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur.” She is also founder and CEO of http://AuthorityPublishing.com, which provides custom book publishing and author marketing services for business, self-help and other non-fiction books, and http://BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of resources for entrepreneurs. For author and speaker information, visit http://StephanieChandler.com.

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The Importance Of Publicity In The Music Industry

March 6, 2007

PR in Gospel Music By Phyllis Caddell-M

Music professionals recognize that a well-conceived, well-executed publicity plan is a valuable and integral part of an artist’s career schematic.

Publicity and recognition are vital for a number of reasons, not least of which is the state of competition in the music industry. It exists in every aspect of the business: the competition is stiff for radio air time, TV slots, and the public’s purchase dollar for concert tickets and recorded music.

A well-rounded publicity approach can be tremendous in cutting a path through competition. Exposure in the print and electronic (TV) media, for example, can favorably position the artist and thus enhance product sales. Similar publicity can also boost the volume of business at a recording studio or provide information that may incline an artist to sign with a particular label.

Recognition is a key element. Consumers who have only been exposed to the music of a new artist via radio, for example, are normally not that eager to go out and buy the CD. But if the same consumer has also read about the artist in their local newspaper or national magazine, they are often much more prone to make that all-important purchase decision.

Building up a “psychological imprint” of recognition and familiarity is imperative in developing a new artist. It’s also essential to the longevity of an established artist’s career. Similarly, public perception that is enhanced by media exposure can help define a “great” record label or an “in” studio – separating them from the pack.

The viewpoint and insight provided by feature articles in newspapers, magazines, and TV talk show appearances play a crucial role in other ways. Information about an artist’s musical, social, spiritual, and political outlook can be of immense interest to a fan or consumer and again can lead to a buying decision.

Media exposure can also be valuable for non-performing and corporate clients. Recording artists cannot be expected to have an interest in a particular producer or songwriter unless they’ve read about the person in some way. So publicity in trade and technical publications as well as entertainment publications offers a vehicle through which people on the production side can reach their market.

To generate a significant amount of good publicity a well-crafted press release distributed to a media list will rarely be enough. That is only part of the process. Just as the salesperson cultivates a territory, for PR the environment is studied and preconditioned, the approach carefully developed. And like sales, you have to tell the consumer what you’re going to tell them, tell them what you want them to hear, and tell them what you just told them.

A message to be received under the best of all circumstances must be presented to an audience ready and willing to hear it, well stated and with enough consistency and follow-through to make certain that its impact and effects register.

In order for your publicity efforts to be consistently effective you must have the eye, ear, goodwill, and current phone numbers of media outlets.

In addition, integrity and ethics play are a major factor. No matter how bad you want to be on the cover or the featured story in a publication, never fabricate the truth or manipulate a situation to where it could be interpreted as a bribe. Ethics and integrity are rarely assumed, and the nature of the media is to be wary of those who ask for coverage. Getting around this is simple but it comes with time. Your job is made significantly easier when your ethics and integrity are beyond condemnation. This status comes from you having created relationships with the media and from building a reputation.

Information is an essential PR tool. You cannot effectively disseminate and manage information if you do not have the right information. Before embarking on an effort to publicize, you must know where and how you fit into an overall plan; what, if anything, else is being presented relative to the same subject (advertising, direct mail, promotional literature); and what, if anything, has been or is being done within your genre that might affect your publicity efforts.

Bottom line – exposure through publicity leads to increased business and revenue.

Phyllis Caddell is CEO of Pc Public Relations & Management, Inc. launched in 1995. She is the author of “Do-It-Yourself Publicity: For Those Too Cheap Or Too Broke To Hire A Publicist,” and the DIY Publicity Newsletter. For more information go to www.phylliscaddell.com

My colleague and friend. Buy her book. It’s a blessing! Pam Perry