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Category >> Planning
Jan 02
2011

New Years Resolutions?

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

Every year, millions of American businessmen and women make New Year's resolutions, often covering the very same issues they resolved to correct last year. Despite their best intentions, what is often lacking is a specific plan for how these resolutions can be accomplished. Are these goals even achievable? "For which one of you," Jesus asked, "when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?" (Luke 14:28).

 While I believe in planning, I am not a fan of New Years resolutions. These are often made emotionally and with little thought how those resolutions will happen.  

Sep 14
2010

Making Presentations

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Most of us will need to make presentations at some point in our lifetime. These presentations may be with customers and staff, or in other speaking opportunities. Each occasion is an opportunity for you and your business. Jesus said, “Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to the whole house” (Matthew 5:15 ESV). While the Lord was referring to His words, we need to follow the example and shed light on our businesses. Any speaking opportunity, whether 60 seconds or 60 minutes, is an opportunity to shed light on our products or services.

The Lord was challenging the people, “Set forth your case, says the Lord; bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob” (Isaiah 41:21 ESV). At the start of a meeting, we may be asked to identify ourselves and explain what we do. Take that opportunity to connect quickly. Other times you may be asked to give a talk. Take advantage of these opportunities by following these simple guidelines:

First, start with a text. Preparing what...
Jul 07
2010

Business Cards - A Great Tool for Getting Customers

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

 

Everyone has a business card. Some are just passed out or dropped into a fish bowl to win a free lunch. Other business cards are pieces of art and others contain so much information you would think it included the entire Gettysburg Address. The secret is learning to use business cards to help you get more customers.

Business cards have been around, in one form or another, for hundreds of years. Often we give little thought to the card, except when we create the first design. We need to train ourselves to think of the business card as a tool to get and keep customers.

Well-designed and properly used cards provide a tremendous return on investment, as they are so inexpensive to produce. A well-designed card will generate business while a poor card will cost opportunities. Placing your card in the hands of prospects may be very time consuming, so any lost opportunity is a significant loss.

Here are several tips to maximize the impact of your business cards:
#1 — Name placement is critical. Most of us place our name, or the company’s name, prominently. However, most recipients don’t care a lot about our name or company … they care a great deal about what you can do for them. Highlight what you do and focus on what customers want.
For example, a landscape business displayed the phrase, “We create award-winning landscape designs” prominently. Some other defining business phrases include: “We fix wrecked cars,” “Printer ink at low prices,” “We make your house sparkle,” and “We build log homes.”

When the Lord was speaking to the people, He said, “Present your case, the Lord says. Bring forward your strong arguments” (Isaiah 41:21 NASB). By putting your phrase or service out in front, you are presenting your case.

Also, our business card is our first contact with a potential customer, so we need to seize that opportunity by clearly presenting what we offer.
#2 — Create an action step. Most cards just present a limited amount of information and do not create a call to action. Most cards have a name, phone number, address, and maybe an e-mail address. That is fine, but you must also make some type of offer.

For example, “Bring in this card for a 15% discount” or “Sign up for my free newsletter” or “Stop by our store and pick up your free gift.” Make them do something!

Peter wrote, “Therefore, gird your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13 NASB). I think that means we need to train our minds, and the minds of our customers, to take action. Ultimately, if customers fail to act, we won’t get sales. Decide on the one thing you want a potential customer to do and frame that call to action in sixteen words or less.

#3 — Include multiple ways for people to contact you. Go beyond the standard phone number and address. Include your e-mail address and website. Offer free reports or something to make them go online. One furniture-refinishing business offers reports on the right way to refinish antiques, including how best to preserve the value. Customers want these free reports, and each report is an opportunity to sell a customer. This business states “free reports on refinishing are available on the website” on its business cards. Their business cards: 1) explain what the business does 2) create an action step and 3) give multiple ways to be contacted. As a result, this card gets new customers.

While the key information needs to be on the card, avoid trying to be too artsy. I have seen great pieces of art that tell me nothing about the business. Unless a logo tells a story or is well recognized, consider leaving it off. King Solomon wrote, “Yet the fool multiplies words” (Ecclesiastes 10:14 NASB).

The key to an effective business card is not to impress people. Instead, your goal is to get customers. As you rethink your business card, go through the process from the customers’ perspective. Determine what one thing you want customers to do when they receive your card, and then design a card that hits the mark. You will then increase your business by using one of the oldest but most under-utilized tools in your toolbox.

Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach

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Dec 14
2009

Christmas Sales Forecasts Tend to Fall Short, As Do Most Sales Forecasts

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We are in the middle of the Christmas shopping season and the news over the past few weeks has abounded with Christmas season sales forecasts. According to the National Retail Federation, 2009 sales are below sales forecasts and most major retail sales forecasts have been higher over the past few years than the actual sales. 
 
Unfortunately, most forecasts by business owners are overly optimistic, whether for the Christmas season or any season. 

As you work through your business plan for next year, keep in mind that most businesspeople will overestimate future sales. In fact, more than 80% of business leaders overestimate their future sales numbers.
Sep 14
2006

Study The Market

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Every successful business has customers. The challenge is to identify your specific target market by careful analysis and study. King Solomon wrote, “It is not good for a person to be without knowledge, and he who makes haste with his feet errs” (Proverbs 19:2, NASB).