Category Archives: Marketing and branding

Part 2 of my mentoring questions: Selling stuff

I know how easy it is for entrepreneurs to be obsessing over sales — especially before you have any, and especially if you don’t know how to sell. And many entrepreneurs don’t. They are enthusiastic experts in their field, but rarely do they have the benefit of having gone through a career in sales and marketing (I consider myself VERY lucky that way, and that’s why I have decided to Pay Forward what I’ve learned.). 

 (Missed the first 5 questions? Click here)

The Anti Crow Rule

I asked my Twitter followers a while back if Marketing or Sales was harder to get right, and the majority said Marketing. I believe the two are closely linked, and if you get your marketing right, your sales will come. I strongly encourage having a clear image of who your customer is, and to segment your market. MAKE CHOICES and stick to them. I call it the Anti Crow Rule: stay away from the shiny objects! It is VERY easy to get distracted, and as an enthusiastic entrepreneur we are flattered and grateful when someone wants our stuff. Don’t get me wrong, do sell….just stick to your overarching plan. 

 

Bank people DO make good friends

If you don’t have finance experience, I strongly encourage you to collaborate with someone who can build you a solid budget, including cashflow projections. Not only will it save you eons of time, it will also ensure you won’t find yourself in a situation that you have a profitable business but no money o pay people or buy stock with. In addition, it will also make any bank conversations you will have a lot more productive. (I never borrowed any money to start my companies, but I do recognise that it is very common to have to do that. And even if you don’t need a cash inflow at the start, having your bank team well informed is a plus should you ever need their help and/or advice. 

 

I am done for tonight, but I do want to talk Exit strategy (because you need not just one but several, and I don’t mean just different versions of you selling your company to the highest bidder and taking off to Aruba) and what/when/how to abandon your plan. 

 

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(No spam, no selling of your data, no me selling to you. I #neversell and am just Paying It Forward. Why? Because I can.) 

The 5 First Questions I Ask When I Start Mentoring An Entrepreneur

When I talk to people who are just about to start their own company, they usually have one thing in common: they are experts at what they do. While that is a GREAT thing to get you to where you can deliver a FANTASTIC PRODUCT OR SERVICE, it usually is NOT what you need to get started.  

Why? Because you should NOT BE SELLING ANYTHING yet!

Let’s start in the other end, shall we? Here are the questions I usually ask.  

  1. Don’t tell me what you’re going to do first as you try to sell stuff. Tell what problem you will have solved 10 years from now? (Someone said “To make aviation have zero environmental impact”. Another one said “All clothes will be made to measure”; Excellent!)
  2. What do you need to have accomplished in 5 years to make that happen? (As you can tell, timings here are arbitrary — that depends on who I am talking to. Point is, it starts from the future and goes back to today.)
  3. How will you bridge the income gap until you are into your core business? And how will you make sure you don’t get stuck in that “bridge business” as people start knowing you?
  4. What is the vision in your head (and we all have one — once you start talking about it you realise you know more about your future business and plans than you thought!)? Do you have employees? How many? Where is your office? Will you employ people or work through contractors? 
  5. And then, my favourite question of all: Describe your customer to me. Is it a person or an organisation? (If you say organisation, I say Dig Deeper. It is ALWAYS a person. Always.) Who is she/he? What does she do? What does she like? What is her motivation? Is she a cat or a dog person? Does she do team or individual workouts? Heels or sneakers? You get the point. DESCRIBE your customer, and THEN start thinking about how to package and sell your product, what marketing channels to use, if social media is relevant (and which one?!). 

RELATED: 7 words I don’t allow in Customer communication

That’s it for tonight. More on this, plus the selling part and some thoughts on bank solutions next week.

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Death of international scientific meetings

20 years ago international scientific meetings used to be a source of great learning for doctors and nurses, but also a lot of fun and a bit of a break from the daily routine.

The change in regulations made sponsoring less available (a good thing, for many reasons) so fewer people could afford to go. And of course, a trip half way around the world (in some cases), being gone for most of a week, with hotel fees and registration costs makes it a big investment. But…it was all worth it, and even necessary; This is where the greatest research was presented with the latest updates from the most experienced thought leaders.

Today the world doesn’t function like that anymore.

Social media and online news makes innovation and clinical data instantly available to anyone across the globe.

So why would doctors still fly around to meetings if there really isn’t anything new?

There is always a big win from meeting and discussing…but most international congresses are not designed that way. They are dinosaurs from the old times, when professors sit at podiums and a presenter stands at a podium and reads off data from a powerpoint presentation.

Health care professional attendee numbers are declining and so are sponsors. No manufacturer can spend a fortune paying for stand space, shipping expensive exhibition materials and paying company representatives to attend a 5 day meeting…especially not when so few of the customers are attending. And if they don’t  have anything new to launch (and why would they? Innovation cannot wait 7 months for the next international meeting), they are just showing the same things that they can show customers at home.

I believe we need to rethink the whole concept. Accept that the old days are gone, and so are the old ways.

Come on, brilliant marketing agencies and event organisers. Take us all into present time?!

Someone stole our control unit — we went guerilla marketing

Thursday morning. Call from E at the congress. Someone has stolen the control unit for one of our products. The box was sitting under a table at our stand with several other exhibitors in the same location, but we have no idea who else had access to the room.

First I got offended. How rude! And then, quickly….anger. Who isn’t playing fair!? Come on, competition is healthy and good, as long as there is moral and ethics as a foundation.

But then, as the team corralled and started looking for a solution (we needed another unit there asap — the congress was starting, and we needed SOMETHING to demonstrate our new launch product with!), I sat down and though about it.

We would turn it into a Big Win. lisa marie_Missing ball and chain

Marketing made posters with a “MISSING LISA MARIE” theme all over them, and we plastered them all over the venue. We spoke to everyone about it, and we emailed all attendees. Our product ended up being the most spoken about, and even now, a week after the event, people ask how it is going. (It hasn’t been found yet, but if you have any idea where it is located, please email lisamarieisnot@junemedical.com)

Do I have any idea where it may be? Yep. But I prefer to think people are good, and there is no point in making accusations that have no proof, even if there is motif. I will put my inner Sherlock to bed and move on.

 

 

7 words I NEVER allow in customer communications

  1. unfortunately
  2. couldn’t
  3. fault
  4. delayed
  5. unless
  6. cost
  7. maybe

it is important to me that we are clear, positive, solution oriented and customer focused, and that we give our customers a reliable impression. Negative or weak words are not supporting that mantra, so I constantly work for them to be replaced by deliberately “positively charged” words instead.

Related: Grow people, grow business

If you review text, take a moment to reflect on how it left you feeling. What words stand out, which ones do you remember? Are they positive or negative?

How about this text? Which is the most emotionally loaded word for you?  Comment below and share your view — I am curious!