ABC Solutions

Will 2016 Be Your Best Year Ever?

If you want 2016 to be better than 2015, you have to do something differently in 2016 than you did in 2015. It’s a simple but profound realization. Change brings the opportunity to make things better; it can be scary yet exciting at the same time.

Ask yourself what you are going to do differently to have your best year ever. Here are some questions and exercises to consider:

Clarify Your Vision
What does the world look like after it’s consumed your product or service? A vision statement for a company helps to keep everyone on track and seeing the bigger picture of what they’re accomplishing day after day. How is the world smarter, more beautiful, happier, healthier, or wealthier after they’ve left your business?

If you haven’t written your business vision and mission statement, consider this exercise for 2016.

Create New Habits
What habits are holding you back? Which ones are propelling you forward? Choose one habit that’s costing you the most and make a commitment to drop it from your 2016 repertoire. Conversely, identify the habit that is brining you happiness and wealth and multiply it.

Let Go
Sometimes we need to let go before we can move forward. What do you need to let go of? Are there customers or employees in your life that sap your energy or your bank account?

Build Your Support Structure
Are you short-staffed? The way you manage your time has everything to do with your success or the lack of it. If you are taking up your time with a lot of low-dollar tasks, it’s going to be hard to boost your income and get ahead. Surround yourself with support to do everything that can be delegated, including personal tasks such as grocery shopping, housekeeping, cooking, and lawn maintenance as well as tasks such as filing, bookkeeping, appointment scheduling, and routine customer service.

Make a list of areas where you could use support, and fill these gaps. In today’s world, you don’t need to hire full time people to fill these slots; you can simply get responsible contractors, other small businesses, and virtual assistants to build your support team.

Focus
What project or task would make a huge difference in 2016 if you could pull it off? Focus on the high payback projects and commit to one, even though it might be out of your comfort zone. Imagine the difference in your business once it’s completed, and get inspired to get started.

Choose just one of these areas to start your 2016 out with hope, intention, and excitement.

Attract More Customers with Event Marketing

Holding your own event is a great way to meet new people and allow them to sample your business in a low-risk setting.  A face-to-face event allows you to build trust quicker than many other marketing methods, and trust is almost always required before a sale can be made.

Types of Events

Some of the more popular types of events you can hold include:

  • A seminar or class
  • An open house
  • A neighborhood sale
  • A networking meeting
  • A reception or party or celebration or festival
  • A conference

If you’re new to holding events, start small and/or join with another business so that you’ll have a larger number of people to invite.

Participants

Once you’ve decided on the type of event you want to hold, you’ll want to determine who you will invite.  Will it be clients only?  Will you join with other businesses and combine your lists?  You’ll want to invite a larger number of people than you might think.  If the event is free, there may be several no-shows, even if they have RSVP’d.   The more formal the event, the fewer the no-shows.

Topic or Purpose

For the best turnout, choose a topic that’s interesting to your clients as well as relevant to the services you offer.  Provide education that the customer needs, a new money-making strategy, a new product or service roll-out, or something that will affect your customers’ well-being, and you’ll experience the best turnout.

Spread the Word

Now that you’re ready to hold your event, it’s time to get the word out.  Plan on sending multiple emails (more than you might be comfortable with) to let people know about your event.  Email is a good way to notify people, but if you have the budget, mail invitations.  Call the most important people and let them know you want them at your event.

Have Fun and Make Money

Be sure to have a high ratio of staff to guests so that more than one of your staff can meet each person.  Enjoy your event, and hopefully, you’ll be able to get to know many future customers there as well.

Mid-Year Milestones

Wow, can you believe that 2015 is half over already?  Now that we’ve crossed the halfway mark, it’s time to see if we’re on track for our 2015 goals.  To do that, we need to see if we’ve met our mid-year milestones.

Managing By Milestones

A milestone, in project management terms, is simply a point along a project timeline.  It’s marked so that project managers recognize when that portion of the project has been completed.  We can use milestones to see how we’re faring toward financial goals as well.

Assuming our business is not seasonal, we should have earned half of our target revenues for 2015 as of the June 30, 2015 income statement.  If we’re falling short, we can recognize that and perhaps add some promotions or sales to spike revenues so that we can correct the shortfall before the year has ended.  If we’re ahead of the game, we can see what is working so well and make sure to replicate it.

Either way, with milestones, we can be more proactive in reaching or surpassing our goals.

By the Numbers

Some of the numbers you may want to set milestones for include:

  • Revenue to date
  • Expenses
  • Profit to date
  • Debt paid down or debt taken on
  • Assets acquired or sold
  • Number of employees added or lost or both
  • Number of clients added or lost or both
  • Accounts receivable aging

Project Performance

Milestones don’t have to be numeric.  You can also use them to determine if you’re on track with internal projects.  Perhaps for 2015, your goal was to replace 5 PCs and convert your shopping cart software.   You can set milestones to monitor specific phases of these projects or just monitor when you start and complete them.

Mid-Year Milestone Report

Document your accomplishments in a mid-year milestones report.  It feels good to write them down, plus you’ll have a history of how much you accomplished as well as what worked.

The report can include the milestones as well as a narrative explaining the performance to date.  If you’d like our help creating this report, please feel free to contact us.

Accounting for milestones can help you become more proactive toward reaching your business goals.  Plus, it’s great to see how far you’ve come since the beginning of the year.

Understanding How Teams Grow

Do you have employees who need to work together as a team?  Or perhaps you need to work as a team with your customers and vendors.  When people of different backgrounds get together for a common goal, there are often four stages they go through before they become a true team or family.

Four Stages of Teams

In 1965, Bruce Tuckman noted that there are four stages in which teams evolve:  forming, storming, norming, and performing.  Two goals are crucial for teams:

  1. To reach the optimal stage, performing.
  2. To build trust, respect, and open communication during all four stages of the process.

Forming

In the forming stage, team members begin to get to know each other and what their goals are.  This is a good time for the team to set ground rules that cover how often the team should meet, how they should communicate, and what their objectives will be.  This is an ideal time for the team to assess their strengths and challenges.

Storming: Team Conflict

In the storming stage, conflict begins.  The diverse points of view of each team member present as team conflict.  Team members need some tools in this stage to avoid clashing egos and turf wars.  Have team members actively listen to other team members’ viewpoints to better negotiate through the problem-solving the group needs to perform in order to get their goals met.

Don’t let a team get stuck in this stage because emotions that simmer under the surface will blow up.

Both active listening and assertiveness training are great tools to help teams learn how to manage the conflict and work through the issues that come up during the storming stage.  Employees also need to learn how to deliver feedback and bad news in an effective, non-threatening way.

Norming: Becoming Complacent

The third stage of teambuilding is norming.  In this stage, team members can become complacent and agree with the group to avoid conflict.  The leader must challenge the group not to fall into this type of groupthink, which results in terrible decisions.

Performing: The Optimal Stage

In the final stage of teambuilding, performing, the group has found their synergy.  They perform at their highest productivity and quality.  They have built trust among team members to get the job done constructively and without personal conflict.

Which stage is your team in?  Knowing the natural stages will help you move your team to the optimal stage, performing.

Five Modern Marketing Methods You May Not Know About

Older marketing methods like direct mail and cold calling just don’t work as effectively as they did a few decades ago.  There are two reasons for that:

  1. The trust level between people has dropped more than 20 percentage points in the last few years; people are more skeptical and untrusting of each other than ever before.
  2. The amount of marketing messages we receive on a daily basis has increased exponentially, to the point where most everything is simply treated as white noise.

What is there to do if you still need more clients?  Sharpen your marketing skills and try out these newer ideas from the 21st century:

Website Landing Pages

A landing page is a web page that is not listed in your website menu.   It’s a hidden page that advertises something very specific, such as a free report, a service, a niche, or a sale item. The landing page includes a description of an offer and a call to action, such as a Buy Now button, or a signup form where you enter your name, email, and possibly phone numbers.

You can drive traffic to your landing page through social media, online ads, or email notices.  Once someone has taken action, a sale team often follows up with a phone call or an email to encourage further action.

Free Trials or Samples

Although there is nothing new about free trials, they are certainly popular and they still work very well.  You might think they are only for magazines and software companies, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can offer free food samples or free servings if you own a restaurant, catering or other food service company.  If you own a training or consulting company, you can offer a free course or a free consulting hour.  Physicians often offer free pharmaceuticals, and dentists offer free toothbrushes.  Think about how free trials or samples can be used in your business to attract new clients.

Webinars

The online equivalent of a class or lecture is a webinar.  If your company sells a product or service that requires a lot of client education, you can deliver this information via a webinar.  The benefits to offering a webinar are that people do not have to get dressed up to go anywhere, you can have people from all over the world attend, and people will be able to get to know you and how you think so they can make a decision about whether they want to do business with you.

To offer webinars, you’ll need webinar software such as Citrix GoToWebinar or WebEx.  You could also use Google Hangouts for free, but the number of people attending is limited.  Invite people you know via email announcements or social media.  You can make a sales offer during the webinar as well.

Email

Email is a great way to make sales offers to people, especially if you have a list of people who have given you permission to send emails to them.  If you send out a monthly newsletter, include a Product of the Month or a Deal of the Month.  It’s much less expensive than direct mail, and often there is a much better response rate.

Online Ads

If placing ads in newspapers and magazines is not working in your industry any more, then try placing online ads.  There are lots of choices.  You can go with Google AdWords and Facebook Ads.  Twitter and LinkedIn have ads as well.

You can also try banner ads.  There is a special type of banner ad called retargeting.  Have you ever been on a company’s website, then left it and started seeing advertisements for that company on the websites you visited later?  That’s called retargeting and it’s very popular.

Before you create your marketing plans for next quarter, give these ideas some consideration.  You may get more bang for your marketing dollar.