Some of the best business promotional tools are the simplest, ensure you are making the best use of these key items.
So, you want to start a business...
Oh, wait. You started a business...
Ok. Assuming you chose the right business structure, have secured the appropriate licenses and are operating in a field you feel you can have some success in, what do you do in order to get your business off the ground? We have written previously on breaking into a new market and the first steps in getting the word out about your new business.
A few key recommendations for getting your business out there:
Originally published as Powerful Points for your Next Presentation in FM World Magazine, December 6, 2016.
By Jon Isaacson
Getting ‘buy-in’ on a particular project or initiative often rests on how well you present your case. You may also be required to speak to potential clients, or present to an external audience to share best practice with peers. Here, Jon Isaacson shares his tips for creating value rather than wasting time when addressing your audience.
As a facilities manager, you are a salesperson.
You are constantly marketing your value to the organisation and selling the projects that you know are critical to keeping the lights on for your company. It may not be often that the FM department is invited to make a presentation, but these meetings with executives, department heads, team meetings or even to groups outside of the organisation are a great opportunity to get your strategic message across.
However, there’s a fine line between an effective presentation and a waste of time. Here are five key points:
1. Time is money
Time is critical. Knowing how much time one has is an essential parameter for structuring how many points you will want to focus on. You may have at most 5-10 minutes. Your presentation will have to gain momentum quickly to address a primary aspect of the service. Highlight one aspect of the service and complement it with a story that makes it relatable to the specific audience. If you have the time, pay more attention to tone and pacing to keep the audience engaged.
2. Who is your audience?
Is this a general audience? Or people that are familiar with your services? Does this group have specific needs that your company specialises in? Who you are speaking to and what areas you believe would be most effective to highlight are key components in crafting an engaging presentation. Aim to create value for your audience, and by educating it in an area that correlates to your organisation’s services, you can create indirect value for your organisation.
3. A bit about you
You might be tempted to talk extensively about your history and explain every detail of what your business does, but the value of this to your audience is inversely proportionate to the amount of time you may spend explaining these personal details. Introduce the organisation with enough personal details to relate to the demographic, before swiftly moving on to the main points.
4. Tailor your style
Making use of time and respecting the audience are key components to a good presentation. Know your goal for the meeting. If this presentation is for broad appeal to reach as many people as possible, then humour is always a friend. Your goal in a generic forum should be to create a knowledge void that draws additional interest from as many people as possible. For broad appeal, leave your audience with at least one nugget of value or piece of information; do this by presenting at least three key points that you believe will connect with as many people as possible. If you are aiming to grab a specific demographic or even a single client, then tailor your presentation to target them.
5. Keep practising
Work on developing your skills in those soft areas such as public speaking, communication and sales. FMs do all the work behind the scenes, so it is valuable to your organisation to be able to explain operations in a clear, concise manner. You are the first point of contact for marketing the services that you and your facilities team provide to your organisation.
Originally published as Three Keys to Successfully Approaching New Clients Through Email, November, 22, 2016 in Restoration & Remediation Magazine (R&R).
By Jon Isaacson
All businesses need new clients, restoration most certainly included. Even the most basic research allows you to identify potentially valuable future customers, and draft a list of prospects. If the prospects are of as much value as anticipated, then the team must understand, appreciate and honor the etiquette of good business approaches and the gatekeeper to those clients. Paul Buccheit, the creator and lead developer of Gmail, expresses the sanctity of email, “Only my phone number and email are private because I don't want random people calling me. But I like the ability to share everything.”
Who is the gatekeeper? In the modern economy the gatekeeper, or first line of defense, for clients of value is their email. Approaching a potential client through email can either be perceived as an invasion of privacy or a respectful approach that honors business boundaries, depending on how the content is composed. The drafting of an email will either allow admittance into the outer courtyard or expel you into the moat of oblivion. Thankfully, the keys to honoring the modern gatekeeper when approaching new clients are rather simple.
1) Subject Line
"People often decide whether to open an email based on the subject line," business coach Barbara Pachter says. "Choose one that lets readers know you are addressing their concerns or business issues." (Smith, 2016)
The subject line should be concise and answer the question whether there is value for the targeted client to open this email or pass this failed attempt at communication through to junk mail (the moat). Junk mail is the default setting for most email from unknown sources, as well as emails that are clearly a solicitation. So, if you are approaching people through email, you must recognize that email is the invitation, not the drawn-out conversation. Your subject line is the extending of your hand and your body language transmitted through however many characters you utilize in this important electronic transmission. An effective posture when composing a subject line will be respectful of time by providing a brief value proposition without being kitschy. The goal of the subject line introduction is to get the email opened.
2) First Paragraph
“It’s better to say nothing than spend 1000 words or an hour speech saying nothing. Get to the point – fast.” Richard Branson
If the email is opened, congratulations, the careful efforts have made it through the first line of defense and the relationship is past the initial cyber handshake in approaching a potential client. Any day that emails are not added to the hundreds of efforts banished to junk/block is a good day. If emails to prospects are introductions and the introduction is received, it is appropriate to follow up. Don’t ruin the good favor that the well thought subject line has created by now backing a dump truck of information upon the prospect. Remember the current advancement is only into the outer courtyard, not yet within the castle walls.
Continue with the theme of the subject line and maintain respect for time, be brief and expound on the value proposition to the client, then ask for the opportunity to discuss further. This is the elevator pitch as the client has opened the outer gate but will discontinue the interaction just as quickly if there is an inability to connect.
3) Follow Up
Director of Marketing for The Muse, Elliot Bell encourages, “Remember: If someone does ask you to stop following up, stop following up. But until you hear that, it’s your responsibility to keep trying.”
Research, care and respect have advanced the efforts to this point and now it’s time for appropriate follow up with respect to the correct etiquette. This email is meant to ensure the client received the original email and determine whether they would like to discuss the content further. A follow up call or email should be brief and respectful, with a personalized addendum to the value proposition from prior email.
When a call is made, there is an inherent request to venture further into personal space as well as asking for additional time, so the same principles applied in previous stages are as essential. The purpose of follow up is to answer for both parties whether there is value in moving forward with this potential business interaction.
All clients have value and in the modern economy email serves as a gatekeeper when approaching prospects. Being brief, concise and respectful when composing a value proposition will enable greater success in introducing oneself through email. As noted in a previous article entitled Marketing Step One, good business practitioners are always looking to create opportunities to show potential clients how their organization can serve specific needs. Each step in the process of meeting new clients is about breaking down barriers rather than storming the gates in one fell swoop. All individuals are unique so it is important to listen through the process and learn from successful as well as unsuccessful approaches to new clients.
For a personal example of how the author was able to initiate and build a networking resource for local clients in an underserved market, read How To Network With Local Facility Management Peers posted on FacilityExecutive.com. Many of the invitations that lead to ongoing business relationships that built Local Facilities Manager’s Connection (LFMC) were initiated through emails using the principles outlined in the source article above.
Smith, Jacquelyn (2016, February 1) 15 email-etiquette rules every professional should know.Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/email-etiquette-rules-every-professional-needs-to-know-2016-1/#1-include-a-clear-direct-subject-line-1
Bell, Elliot. Pleasantly persistent: 5 rules for effectively following up.The Muse. Retrieved from https://www.themuse.com/advice/pleasantly-persistent-5-rules-for-effectively-following-up
Curiosity is not always a death sentence for the cat, sometimes curiosity can lead to very fun and unexpected positive life event. In my social media and local personalities peripheral vision I had been noticing for a while this guy named Rick Dancer who was utilizing aspects of social media that no one else was daring to dabble in. Even now that there are some experimenting with tools such as Facebook Live, few of them approach it with the personal touch and the collaborative spirit that Mr. Dancer does. Curiosity drove me to I reach out to Rick and he graciously agreed to meet up with me for coffee one fateful day at the Washburne Cafe in Springfield, Oregon, sparking a friendship. Anyone who has seen him in action with Live with Rick Dancer knows he is a rather transparent person, I was glad that he was willing to go even deeper for this interview.
Jon Isaacson / IZ Vents: Your past life was as a successful local journalist, when you look back on that leg of your journey, what are the key lessons you learned?
Rick Dancer: Television News taught me how to think on my feet. I naturally react quickly but you make a few errors publicly and you quickly learn how to avoid pitfalls and holes. I also learned to take my love of storytelling and put it to work for me. For a few years I tried to mimic news people and write textbook type stories. However, what really changed my style was covering stories of great pain and humanity. Soon, I chucked the journalistic style for my style which was telling a story from the heart perspective.
A significant portion of your story includes some road bumps which include phasing out of journalism not completely of your own accord, an “unsuccessful” run into politics and beating cancer, how has what many may look at as failure brought you to where/who you are now?
Failure is my greatest teacher but many discount the value of failure or the pain one must go through in order to discover their true story, their true self. In news I won a lot. I got awards, had honors and lots of attention from the public. Running for public office humbled and tried to destroy me. It took every ugly thing in my life and put it right in front of me. Ego lost much of its power over me. I no longer care as much what people think of me. Losing has given me freedom and I don't think you can be truly free without loss.
How is it that a nearly 60 year old man 1) looks so handsome and 2) is leading the charge in the state of Oregon to optimize the new media? How did you get into Facebook live and launch that into a growing local business?
At 58 years old my thought is we must redefine what it means to age. I surround myself with younger people, not on purpose, but because they are the ones who are the most help to me. When I ran for office my young staff had me on Facebook the day after it started. Social media is a natural for me and I use it well. Young folks kept me ahead of the curve.
We are using Facebook in a way many can't, won't or fear. Live has always been my weakness....I mean I thrive on it. A day after the live feature came out I was on there doing video's, figuring out how it worked and looking for ways to make money off it. Part of that desire is born out of desperation. Video production is easier and many don't need people like me to produce a video for them so I needed something to bring in the money. I found people who trusted me and launched "Get Real with Rick Dancer." Now we have "Live with Rick Dancer" and in November will begin "At The Car Wash, Live with Rick Dancer."
You must never get stale and that means being willing to jump on the next thing before others do.
You have a unique talent for drawing out stories, what is it about stories that are so compelling and how have you learned to bring those out of people?
I have always been a storyteller but the gift began as a listener. I was the kid who sat with the old folks at family gatherings and listened to the stories. Growing up I now believe I had some learning issues. Spelling was and still is very tough for me. Proper sentence structure and understanding the ins and outs of grammar have never been natural. For years that kept me from using my gift. I would not write because I didn't want people making fun of my technique. In the news business I discovered my heart and use of real language, real words, pauses, points and percussion in a sentence was much more important than punctuation, spelling and sounding acceptable to the masses.
This is what set me apart from others. Journalists used to poke fun at my techniques but none of them could match my ability to grab, squeeze and rip at the heart of a viewer. Learning to ignore them and winning numerous awards for writing, didn't silence the critics, but it made it so I didn't care, I understood what worked and used it.
For those who are looking to market their services and products, what are some key principles they need to understand about interacting with the current economy?
People today aren't just buying a product they are purchasing something from a person. They can buy a video from anyone but what makes my video better. It's not the equipment we use but the heart we bring to the story. People want to buy from people and yet many in marketing still look to the sell, sell, sell, in order to sell. What people want is you. They want to have a relationship with the person they are buying from. Purchasers are buying your brand. If a video producer wants to be the "Big Equipment Dude On The Block" that's their brand. Pretty pictures are nice but a story that helps you understand why the person serving you is serving you is far better than another drone video of your business.
People don't care what you sell or what you do they want to know why you do it. But to understand the customers why you have to first understand yours. Storytellers are curious people who are not looking for happy endings or even an ending but instead the passion of a life.
What projects are you working on lately that get you excited to continue with what you are doing?
My dream is to travel the country, the world and video the stories of everyday people. I want to visit the small towns, the nowhere towns, the overlooked "spots on a map" and unveil that place for the rest of us. I believe we are tried of the fast-paced get it done life. There is something soothing, sobering and peaceful about simplicity. But the problem is we are complex or at least we've create a complex way of life. In order to reveal simplicity in each of us, there is a process that only great storytelling can release. No one wants to be told how to live, but show me, show me how to do it through the words and actions of another person, and I may actually see it. So, while I love what I am doing I hope it blossoms into the next thing. I hope my world takes me on the road to the places less traveled. And of course, the trip won't be any fun without people like you to follow me.
As you look back on your life and the new chapters you are carving out what are some key things you believe are important for entrepreneurs?
Life is not about being comfortable. No, it's about learning to be comfortable with discomfort. Life is not about you. Yes, you have value and purpose but those around must always be treated better. What you do doesn't matter at all. Why you do it is all that counts. Most people will never get to the why. Oh, they say to help people but the real story is deeper and too many of us stop just outside the door of discovery. Challenging our perceptions and our lives is like walking on a sore foot that is tormented with a sliver. Instead of stopping to dig at it, cause it to bleed, drain the infection and pull the sliver out, we continue to walk on it until we get used to the pain. After a while we don't even feel the sliver but it's still there.
I am not the best father, husband nor am I the best businessman in the world but that's not my goal. I longed for freedom and now I have it. I longed to do what came natural to me and by learning to do things that are un-natural (vulnerability) I have found me. Cancer, losing, failing and struggling are my best teachers. While I would never purposely sign up for their classes, these educators continue to serve me well. Instead of trying to chase difficulty out of our lives what would happen if we look for it?
One parting comment: I learned during my political run for office that I can't please everyone, not even myself. But I can please God so now I live for an audience of one....or should I say, "The One." Thanks for listening.
You can find out more about Rick Dancer through his website, see him in action via Live with Rick Dancer on Facebook, as well as LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter (@RickDancer).
Jon Isaacson / IZ Ventures - More than coaching and consulting, we help you Connect, Collaborate & Conquer. #MTWSL
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