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The Smashing Business Blog

The Blog from Smashingbusiness.co.uk. We're all about helping you run a "Smashing Business." Whatever your niche, we hope you find some inspiration or help here. If you'd like us to feature a particular topic just email us at hello@smashingbusiness.co.uk

Be Brave Online

Ben Lumley - Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sometimes when we approach something new and different, we can shy away from it; fearing to do too much too soon. The same came be true for people starting their first online business. They fear to put themselves out there in case they dilute their message or face crictism. 

 The Internet can be a daunting place, even for the most tech savvy of business people. There's a lot to learn about running a business online and it's a topic that you can never stop learning about. But still many small businesses shy away from engaging online with their customers or from promoting their latest product. They slip back into the 'If I build it they will come' mentality. Frankly, nothing could be worse. 

 You need to be brave online. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there, give things away for free, be controversial, do things differently or simply be open and honest online. The braver you are, the more your customers will respect you.

Be Obsessed with your Business and Watch it Grow

Ben Lumley - Monday, November 16, 2009

Ever wondered why some entrepreneurs are so successful? Ever think about why these truly successful business owners can do so much and reap so many rewards?

Easy! They’re obsessed by what they do. They love it. They eat sleep and dream the business and their goals.

Want to start being as successful as them? Become obsessed. 

3 ways to better sales and how they can impact not only your business but your customers

Ben Lumley - Friday, November 13, 2009

Getting your customers and users to pay attention to your business is harder than ever. People have an infinite number of choices compared to 2 or 3 years ago and a lot less time. By taking a different approach to selling and marketing you can begin to make more enquires and more sales.

For regular readers, you’ll have noticed that I’ve talked about marketing guru Seth Godin before (even reposting articles direct from his own blog). Seth attracts many followers for his insightful take on modern marketing and is not afraid to be a bit controversial. I highly recommend anyone to check out his blog or videos.

My 3 ways to better sales is inspired by some of Seth’s ideas that I really dig and think you guys will get a lot out of.

Be on the fringes

Many small businesses play safe when they’re approaching things. They follow the crowd when it comes to things like marketing, branding, sales and customer services. They do what they see others doing as they see it as being safe. But no one says you have to play it safe.

Do things differently to others. Approach your strategies from a different angle and make your customers sit up and take notice.

10 years ago in the era of mass marketing playing safe was the safe thing to do because everyone listened. Now people (your potential customers) don’t have to time to sit through the ads and listen. Now you have to be on fringes to be noticed.

Be Remarkable

You get on the fringes in business by being remarkable. By becoming something or someone that people want to make a remark about you can create a buzz around you and your business. When they have something to say about your product or service they tell someone else. They’ll want to share the story.

That doesn’t mean you have to come up with a new product or service that is out of this world, just that maybe you need to do something that is remarkable with what you have.

When Google announced Google Wave earlier in the year they did something that was remarkable with their marketing. They only opened it up to a handful of developers. If you didn’t get an invite first off, you desperately wanted one. The buzz about Wave and the fact it was a limited invite-only spread like wildfire to the point where now they haven’t even fully released it yet and people are trading invites on eBay for crazy sums of money.

By taking a remarkable approach you can get your future customers to sit up and take notice.

Sell to those who are listening

With a massive choice and not a lot of time, consumers don’t have to listen to everyone that tries to sell them something anymore but they’ll most certainly buy from someone they already listen to.

Why waste your time and effort (and maybe even money) trying to sell to the large percentage of people who aren’t listening or aren’t interested? What’s the point?

Apple doesn’t try to sell its stuff to the non-tech savvy customers. It aims the majority of its marketing to the geeks, the fashion conscious, the tech savvy, the trend-setters and to those who appreciate great design because they know that they’ll be the one’s listening.

Talk to the people who are listening and you’ll be able to sell to them far better than those who couldn’t care less. 

How do I make quick money from my blog or website when I first start out?

Ben Lumley - Thursday, November 12, 2009

I must see this question all over the internet all the time. So many people want to know how they can start their new online business off with a bang and be instantly making money. There are loads of options out there that look to offer some amazing results to first timers offering a massive financial return for very little work.

The easy answer is no! No you can’t make quick money from an online business. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work and a great deal of patience, something of which many people entering the online business space don’t seem to have.

When they don’t get any revenue in the first few weeks from their products they begin covering every piece of html real estate with click though ads, affiliate links and adsense code. Expectantly they sit back and wait for the money to pour in. And guess what? None arrives.

Simply there are no quick money fixes on the internet. You need hard work and patience. With a lot of commitment and constant work you’ll begin to make money, maybe some serious money but you won’t get there with quick fixes. 

Should I use Social Media to help me sell more products?

Ben Lumley - Monday, November 09, 2009

No! This is where most businesses get it wrong.

Whether you’re running a bricks and mortar company with office space coming out of your eyeballs or a funky online store that comprises of you in your back room working until late at night the going off to your regular job, the answer is always no.

Social Media is not about selling. It’s not about whoring yourself and your business out on Twitter or Facebook or on your blog to make more money; it’s about a whole lot more. If you treat Social Media like another member of your sale teams, who’s constantly trying to sell every product that you have to anyone who will listen is just bad business. You’re about 5 years behind the trends if you do that. Wake up!

Social Media is about Customer Service. It’s about listening to what people have to say and what people want and helping them out. It’s about solving problems when you can with not asking for anything in return. Social Media connects you with your customers but that doesn’t give you the permission to assault them at every turn with the hard sell.

Try listening and not selling through Social Media. The people who sell for you through Social Media are your customers, who by word of mouth recommendations will bring new customers to you. 

Everyone is Clueless

Ben Lumley - Saturday, November 07, 2009
I'm such a Seth Godin fanboy. The way he puts his ideas across is second to none. His speeches and posts never fail to challenge me and make me think about business and marketing in a completely different way.

Seth recently posted this post about the essence of targetting the right people for our businesses. I've posted things by Seth before so I'm hoping that everyone enjoys this. 

The video Seth links to in this post is a really good watch so please go check it out. 

Everyone is Clueless by Seth Godin...

The problem with "everyone" is that in order to reach everyone or teach everyone or sell to everyone, you need to so water down what you've got you end up with almost nothing.

Everyone doesn't go to the chiropractor, everyone doesn't give to charity, everyone has never been to Starbucks. Everyone, in fact, lives a decade behind the times and needs hundreds of impressions and lots of direct experience before they realize something is going on.

You don't want everyone. You want the right someone.

Someone who cares about what you do. Someone who will make a contribution that matters. Someone who will spread the word.

As soon as you start focusing on finding the right someone, things get better, fast. That's because you can ignore everyone and settle in and focus on the people you actually want.

Here's a video that David sent over. I am thrilled at how much this guy loves his job, and I'm inspired by his story of how he turned down Pepsi as a vendor. He turned them down. But everyone wants Pepsi! Exactly. Once he decided he wanted someone, not everyone, his life got a lot better.

Resources over Resourcefulness

Ben Lumley - Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We often make excuses for failures we experience in life, whether it be at home or at work and we try to proportion blame on to someone or something else. We often do this, not because we are low, callous individuals who constantly seek to hurt others, but because as a society we generally slip into the easy option of shifting responsibility away from ourselves. It takes a special person to fess up to their failures 100% of the time, right? Well no not really, it just means that you have to look on things in a different way.

Resources

In today’s fast paced, modern, online society we have a whole bank of resources at our disposal that we can use to creative truly amazing things. Gone are the days when people work outside their cave sharpening stones all day long, now we can achieve almost anything we put our minds to.

Time:

Now we live in a world where we have more time than ever, not due to increasing the amount of hours in the day but from the respect that people can work and create things at anytime of the day or night and in any place. That is something previous generation never had.

Money:

We have more money at our disposal than ever before as well with people earning more money in their own jobs, their companies earning bigger contracts and receiving greater amounts of funding. All of this leads to an increase in resources to get the job done.  

Technology:

There is now an abundance of technology that can allow us to create bigger, better, faster, more efficient products and services that can make billions on pounds and truly make a different in people’s lives.

Contacts:

People are able to network, create contacts and maintain those contacts like never before. You can now connect with someone on the other side of the world without ever meeting them and be able to keep up to date with what they are doing and where they are.

Experience:

With the ability to be able to do all of these amazing things comes experience. As a generation we are able to experience so much more that previous generations and can therefore learn more and at a faster rate.

But what do all these things have to do with running an online business? They can also be used as excuses when we fail to achieve something. Why? Because it’s easy. It’s easy to complain that the reason you couldn’t achieve is because you didn’t have the time. It’s easy to not start off a great idea because you just didn’t have the money, either personally or commercially to kick it off. How many times have you would to do something with your business and complained when you couldn’t because you didn’t have the technology or the experience? Probably more than you care to admit.

It’s easy to blame these resources when we fail to achieve because other people can sympathise as they’ve most likely been in a similar position themselves, in the past.

Resourcefulness

5 years ago in the traditional corporate world, it was more acceptable to make excuses about resources and be able to get away with it without it affecting your job or your business. However, in the online world that can’t happen. The moment people (customers) see that you repeatedly making excuses for not providing or achieving something, they’ll go somewhere else. The Internet is now full of people who offer the same or similar products or services as you and you can bet your yearly turnover on the fact that they’ll do it right if you don’t.

In order to succeed in anything, your business, your personal life, a music instrument or even playing cards; you need to be resourceful. Resourceful people always succeed no matter what they are trying to achieve because when you’re resourceful you never run out of resources and therefore you can’t ever find an excuse to fail.

Determination:

When you’re resourceful you have determination to succeed. You’re driven constantly to achieve and will let nothing stand in your way.

Creativity:

When you are resourceful you’re creative. It doesn’t matter if you’ve not got the money or the time, you find a way. If you are creative enough and playful enough you can get your idea or your business across to anyone, however uninterested they may seem initially.

Curiosity:

If you’re resourceful you have curiosity. You are interested and intrigued by want you what to achieve. You want to play with it, tinker with it, break it down and build it up again to see how it works. You want to know everything about it and you want to know about anything else that might add to it to help you achieve.

Passion:

When you are resourceful you have passion. You live and breathe what you do. You wake up in the morning and you instantly want to engage with your passion and what you want to achieve. Passion is a tough thing in people’s mind to find and you hear people all the time saying “I don’t know what my passion is.” Well to me it’s easy. Your passion is the thing that you’d do for free if you had to. Your passion is the thing you’re immersed in the all time.

Resolve:

When you have all these things you also develop resolve. You make a definite decision on what you’re going to achieve and you set your motive for action.

It’s easy to make excuses when you fail. It’s human nature seemingly to blame others when we don’t achieve. But the difference between people who fail and people who succeed is that successful people don’t see failures as failures; they see them as challenges and opportunities to overcome. Why? Because they are resourceful.

Follow me on Twitter @benlumley6

Apparent Risk vs Actual Risk

Ben Lumley - Monday, October 19, 2009

Author and Marketing Expert, Seth Godin, wrote a very thought provoking post about risk and taking apparent risk over actual risk. It really rang a cord with me as taking the safe, more secure, more reliable root is something we all do all time in a wide variety of environments.

I don't want to write too much and distract away from Seth's writing. So keep reading and have a real think about it when you've done.

"There are people who I will never encounter in a restaurant.

That's because when these people go out for dinner, they go to chain restaurants. These are the tourists in New York who seek out the familiar Olive Garden instead of walking down the street to Pure.

That's fine. It's a personal choice.

But it got me thinking about the difference between apparent and actual risk, and how that choice affects just about everything we do.

The concierge at a fancy hotel spends her time helping tourists and business travelers avoid apparent risk. She'll book the boring, defensible, consistent tour, not the crazy guy who's actually a trained architect and a dissident. She'll recommend the restaurant from Zagats, not from Chowhound.

Apparent risk is what keeps someone working at a big company, even if it's doing layoffs. It feels safer to stay there than to do the (apparently) insanely risky thing and start a new venture.

Apparent risk is what gets someone who is afraid of plane crashes to drive, even though driving is more dangerous.

Apparent risk is avoiding the chance that people will laugh at you and instead backing yourself into the very real possibility that you're going to become obsolete or irrelevant.

When things get interesting is when the apparently risky is demonstrably [less safe] than the actually risky. That's when we sometimes become uncomfortable enough with our reliance on the apparent to focus on the actual. Think about that the next time they make you take off your shoes at the airport."

via Apparent Risk and Actual Risk by Seth Godin

Why is everyone waiting for IT to HAPPEN

Ben Lumley - Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Too many business hold back from Social Media / Web 2.0 because of fear of the unknown. Don't want for something to happen but rather be part of making it happen for your brand. You don't wait for customers to come to you, you go after your customers.



Via garyvaynerchuk.com

The Social Media Revolution

Ben Lumley - Monday, October 12, 2009
So we've already talked about using Twitter to help get your brand out there but today I want to talk the whole Social Media revolution and how it can affect your brand.

The traditional forms of marketing yourself and brand are dropping away as people move to the more new age ways of advertising and communicating with their customers, yet many businesses dismiss Social Media as a fad that will never be able to replace TV, Radio and Print advertising. By jumping on the Social Media train you could connect with your customers in a whole new way.

Social Media can always work against you however if you fail to realise the power of it. People talk. We, as business owners, know this but if you're not engage with your customers online and you're pumping out poor products or customer services then people will talk. The video below comments that only 14% of people trust traditional advertising while a whooping 78% trust the recommendations of other people. That, by itself, is a massive indication of how customers have changed their buying habits in light of this Social Media revolution.

The question is do you care about what people say about your brand or do you think it's just all a fad?

Enjoy!




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