Client Feedback is Key

By , January 7, 2012 12:22 pm

Most of us assume that all is well with our clients and projects unless told otherwise. However, a smarter way to gauge how your business is doing is to reach out to your client base on a regular basis before they come to you. How do you get this done?

  • Client Debriefings

A client debriefing is just that. Time alone with your client where you can hear about the good, the bad and the ugly. This is frequently done through sharing a meal such as breakfast, lunch, or dinner; meeting for coffee or drinks; or, during a project walk-thru at a client’s site. The point is to get away from ringing phones and staff interruptions to have some quality time to spend with that person. It’s often said that the measure of a person is not evaluated when things are going well. When problems arise or the unexpected occurs, how do you meet those challenges and overcome obstacles to your client’s satisfaction?

  • Client Satisfaction Surveys

A client satisfaction survey is a list of questions prepared by either your company or a marketing consultant to determine the satisfaction quotient of your clients. What are the things you are doing right? And, what are you doing that needs correction or modification? You might even find out that an effort underway is not needed, wanted, or appreciated by the client at all.

Some useful questions include: What service that we provide do you feel is the most important? What service do you feel is the least important? And, what do you feel we do best?

Effective client feedback can save you time, money and even open up new market areas for you to explore.

Jill Youngerman teaches CEO 008: Marketing Techniques for Promoting Your Business.

 

 

 

Volunteering Can Be Good for Business

By , December 3, 2011 1:02 pm

The holiday season isn’t the only time to think of giving back. In these hard pressed financial times, it may be easier to give of your time than to make a cash donation. Have you considered being a volunteer? For those of you thinking, what’s in it for me? I have one word for you plenty!


Where do you find volunteer opportunities? A good place to start is the website volunteermatch.org. By putting in a location (NY, NY) and trying out a few different key words such as fashion, sewing, retail business, small business and the word intern, numerous volunteer opportunities were displayed around the NYC area. These included working in public relations, IT, media/communications, event planning and web development/web design. These opportunities appeared at a myriad of organizations including the Japan Society, Dress for Success, the Police Museum and the International Hostels.

Remember the question, what’s in it for me? Being a volunteer can help to answer one of the most common questions I hear from my students. How do I get a job as an intern? It’s a great way to gain experience and lead to a paying job in the future. (Sometimes where you were a volunteer.) And, living in the NY area, the second most common question I hear from people I know… how do I meet people? You get to spend time with like-minded individuals giving of their time for a cause or organization that means something to them. It’s one of the best ways to network and meet people that I know.

Jill Youngerman teaches CEO 008: Marketing Techniques for Promoting Your Business.

Communication

By , November 5, 2011 1:40 pm

We’re living in a connected world. What happens when the connected world becomes … unconnected?

The recent nor’easter power outages in NJ, CT and part of NY this past week impacted a huge number of homes and businesses. It’s at times like these our dependence on electronics becomes so evident.

Remember when we used to memorize phone #s, account #s, birthday and anniversary dates? Then came computers, the PDA, blackberry, IPhone, Ipad and assorted cell phones.

The recent outages this past week, are a reminder to back up our systems off site, if possible, and even have back-up office space available for use in an emergency. If the outages are widespread, like these were, you can’t easily trot over to your local coffee shop, hair salon or favorite restaurant to re-charge your devices. Why? Nobody has power. Here’s an old fashioned idea: How about backing up your electronic data with hard copies (yes, paper!) of important phone #s, client contact info, appointments, dates/calendar, banking and credit info? You won’t be sorry.

Just one more thing … please remember where you put it!

Jill Youngerman teaches CEO 008: Marketing Techniques for Promoting Your Business.

 

Personal Style – All the Rage

By , October 6, 2011 8:56 am

We see it all around us – everyone flaunting their own personal style. Hair, make-up, colors, jewelry and of course, clothing. How about developing a personal style for your business?

Some well known examples of businesses with a ‘personal style’ are:

  • Diane Von Furstenberg – the wrap dress
  • Lady Gaga – the head dress
  • Steve Jobs – Apple
  • Warren Buffett – wealth management

Their names conjure up an immediate image of who they are and what they do. Other less famous examples come to mind:

  • A graphic design firm who gave out business cards covered with a beautiful graphic design – each card different and unique.
  • A jewelry crafter wearing her own artful jewelry designs, and
  • A large construction company giving out toy Tonka trucks and mini-construction equipment (known for being indestructible) at every trade show.

So how do you develop a personal style or brand for your business?

  1. Name Recognition – Keep your name out there. Effective marketing is persistent and continuous. Clients and prospects frequently make decisions based on repetition of message. Out of sight is often out of mind.
  2. Consistent Message – Know who you are and what you do. Who is your target client? If you sell ice cream, are you Ben & Jerry’s, Dairy Queen, or gelato?
  3. Continuity – Is your product or service available to me when I need it? Am I dealing with a stable firm with a track record of performance?
  4. Relationship – Will I be able to count on a relationship with the people I have come to know and trust? With so many personnel changes and shuffling in the marketplace, can I do business with this company and these people for the long-term? Let your clients know that they are valued.

Jill Youngerman teaches CEO 008: Marketing Techniques for Promoting Your Business.

Getting Organized – 3 Must Haves for Your Business

By , September 3, 2011 2:17 pm

There are 3 essential relationships that will help your business thrive and grow. What are they?

Your Accountant, Your Attorney, and Your Bank

These 3 ‘legs of the stool’ together will help support your business.

  • Your Accountant – Before you even get started, an accountant can assist you with your business registration and organization to help put you on the right path. Would a sole proprietor, LLC, or corporate registration be best for you? What will your tax liabilities be under each of these scenarios? What is the right software for you to manage every day finances, expenses and invoicing? e.g. Quickbooks, EXCEL? These questions and many more items can be answered by the right professional.
  • Your Attorney – This is one of the most important people in your business life. They can help you craft the necessary contracts and documents to protect you, your business and your customers. In addition, they will be there to review these contracts, any proposals and other legal agreements that are part of your every day business life.

I have reviewed too many proposals and contracts from other business  owners that look like they were written on the back of  a napkin! Please don’t be one of them. You are a professional – act like one.

  • Your Bank – Make sure you have a separate checking and savings account for your business. Your personal accounts should be just that, personal, and not mixed with your business funds. This is a common mistake among new businesses.
  • Know your bankers - not just the tellers but the managers and officers at the desks. They can help you with all kinds of services to make your business run more smoothly. e.g. If you wind up with unanticipated fees on your accounts, they are the people who can waive them for you.

So, how do you find the right person for your business? Ask other business people you know for referrals to these professionals. You might say: Do you have a lawyer, accountant or bank that supports small businesses and gives good service?

Jill Youngerman teaches CEO 008: Marketing Techniques for Promoting Your Business.

 

 

Summer Reading

By , August 4, 2011 10:08 am

This is the time of the year when our reading habits change. We tend to drift away from our daily online news feed for a favorite ‘beach’ read or vacation novel… for those of us lucky enough to go on vacation.

I was letting one of my favorite business reads pile up… a few pages read here, another couple there. Eventually, I picked up and read through an entire Crain’s and saw this article I want ALL of you to know about. In case you don’t know Crain’s, I’m talking about Crain’s NY Business. This is one periodical I make sure my students know about as soon as class starts – it has so many useful tips and info for all kinds of businesses and start-ups too.

What got me so interested? Macy’s has just launched a Vendor Development Program or ‘boot camp’ for women-owned businesses interested in becoming a supplier to a major department store. The newly minted program is a 4 1/2 day intensive workshop to introduce entrepreneurs (you!) to the special requirements of supplying to such a large customer.

For further information and to find out more about this exciting opportunity, log onto Macy’s website under Community Relations – Vendor Development Program where you can easily review program requirements and contacts.

Jill Youngerman teaches CEO 008: Marketing Techniques for Promoting Your Business.

Don’t Let Your Business Go On Vacation

By , July 16, 2011 8:26 pm

Summer has arrived, and it seems that the whole world is going off on vacation. Now is the perfect time to connect with that hard to reach special prospect or client who hasn’t left for vacation…yet. How about building that relationship over a different summertime activity?

  • Hi-Line Stroll – explore the Hi-Line. Take a leisurely stroll atop this incredibly popular new park. Catch what might be the only breeze around amid prairie grasses and plenty of benches. Stop for a drink or dinner at any of the great neighborhoods from the Village to mid-town. Enjoy the newest 1/2 mile leg that goes all the way up to 30th Street.
  • Rooftop Dining – try a cool drink and great view at The Delancey downtown; The Library Hotel mid-town; The Empire Hotel near Lincoln Center; or the Met Roof Cafe at the Met Museum.
  • The Cloisters Museum & Gardens Ft. Tryon Park - if you can manage an afternoon off, this makes for a great and unusual outing. The famous unicorn tapestries are here along with other medieval artifacts, all part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection. Take advantage of a free museum tour too.
  • Golf Lessons at Chelsea Piers - perhaps you and your client have wanted to try golf on for size. Here, both of you can have your first intro to golf and even a place to practice. Next time one of your organizations or professional groups has an outing, invite your client along as your partner. You’ll be together for hours and have plenty of time to cement the relationship.
  • 42nd St. Library Tour - the library is full of mystery and wonder. Explore this unusual space on one of the free guided tours (perhaps on a lunch hour). You won’t regret it!

Jill Youngerman teaches CEO 008: Marketing Techniques for Promoting Your Business.

Negotiation Pays

By , June 4, 2011 4:31 pm

Whether a newbie or seasoned business owner, saving money should be high on your list. One of the best ways to do this is to learn to negotiate.

Here are some suggested approaches to save you money:

Bank Fees

Banks have become ‘fee happy’. There are monthly fees for checking/savings accounts, and fees for not meeting balance minimums. Ask to speak to one of the bank managers at a desk. Tell them you were distressed to see a fee on your account. Can they help by waiving the fee? You might also ask if there is a similar type of account that doesn’t incur fees? Either way, your objective is to put more money in your pocket not theirs.

Office Supplies

When purchasing office supplies, ask the representative if they honor internet prices? These prices tend to be much lower than catalog or business customer pricing. In addition, you can also save on delivery fees. My office supply company just initiated new fees for any delivery under $50. As a small business, my order can frequently come in just below that amount. I asked that the fee be waived and it was.

Hotel Rates

After you have checked available discounts and it’s still too pricey, it’s time to call the hotel directly. Call the phone number for the hotel, and not the 800#. Ask for the name of the sales manager or general manager and ask to speak to one of them. Tell them you are a long term customer or will be now that your business requires more travel. Ask if they can assist with the room rate? Mention you would like to get a rate say, below $100/night. The longer you stay for business or vacation, the better the discount. I just had my rate reduced over 35% for a stay in a high demand hotel in Florida.

Organization Membership Rates

Find out who in the organization is responsible for membership recruitment and talk to them. Ask if they have small business rates or if you can join for a six month membership or reduced rate membership? Think about you or your business providing a service to them to help supplement a reduced rate membership.

So, what are you waiting for? Successfully negotiate and you can be saving money right now!

Jill Youngerman teaches CEO 008: Marketing Techniques for Promoting Your Business.

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