Think Global, Act Locally

Think global, act locally.

It’s not a new catch-cry, but it is definitely one that is gaining momentum as the squeeze on businesses gets tighter. The need to encourage buying local is very real when everything is but a mouse click away.

Defining locally

My “local” consists of two distinct areas – the local area where I am physically located – currently Bribie Island in Queensland, Australia.

Then there is my “local” online community.

My “local” online community consists of my clients and other businesses I use regularly.

They are  “local” to me because we have a relationship built over time.  So even though we are not physically in the same location, they are my go-to people for certain services.

We support the community and environment for a number of reasons. Some of the main ones being that the community grows stronger.  Local businesses support local initiatives in a wide variety of ways including offering pro-bono services, donating to fundraisers, sponsoring events and much more.

The flip side of this is that as a business owner we need to remember that alternatives are just a mouse-click away, delivery is often overnight and prices are often cheaper.

Service makes a difference

There are those who will always go for a cheaper price, and there is not a lot you can do about that.

BUT, there are many who are happy to pay a little more for excellent service and to keep their funds local.

Price Points

It all comes down to educating our community and taking that educative approach to our business.

I’ll give you an example. I recently needed to make an expensive purchase for my office and a local business had mentioned to me last year that when I was in the market to please come to them first as they would, likely as not, be able to price match.

I contacted them earlier this year, only to receive the very terse answer that I’d better go buy from the multinational.

No explanation. Nothing.

Lost Opportunity

Here’s the thing…if the answer I received had spelt out that sadly on this occasion they could not price match, or something along the lines of that by buying local they were readily available to help troubleshoot etc, I would have very willingly paid the extra $100.

Instead, I received a short, unenthusiastic answer that did not inspire me to part with my extra $100.

The damage done is actually worse than the loss of this one sale from me; not only does it not inspire me to ever go back again, it has also meant I have shared my negative experience with my business network here in the local area.

By contrast, I never question the prices that the local electrical store quotes. I know they are sometimes a bit more expensive, but their service is stellar so it’s a no brainer to go there for all my electrical needs.

Recommendations & Referrals

Similarly, when it comes to the butcher, pharmacy, bottle shop, restaurants and more, I enthusiastically recommend the businesses I love.

I encourage everyone to act locally and support local businesses in the community that I know provide a wonderful service.

If there isn’t a business that is physically close, then I refer to my online “local” community.

Act Locally

When it comes down to acting locally, there are 3 key points that business owners need to keep in mind in order to maintain and build a client base.

1) No one can afford to be complacent.

Just because a business is a local one does not mean that people will automatically patronise it.

Customers are savvy. It must be meeting all their needs.

The businesses that thrive and grow are always those which are prepared to go the extra mile.

2) Genuine service and courtesy go a very long way.

Taking a genuine interest, active listening and being courteous and honest play a large role in converting a prospect into a sale.

3) Maintain a database and utilise it to stay in touch 

When you’re local it’s all about building a relationship. A buyer has many choices.

By maintaining regular communication (and there are lots of different ways to do this) you stay front of mind.

Avoiding complacency, being on the lookout for opportunities to value add. Offering good old fashioned service with a smile (even if it’s on the phone, smiling is important!) is what keeps customers coming back, more importantly, it’s what gets referrals for your business.

At the end of the day, referrals are frequently the deciding factor for customers on whether they will shop locally.

Fly like a dragonFly like a Dragon

Michelle

PS – Love you to share your views in the comments on what are the deciding factors for you to act locally or go further afield.

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Getting Results from your social media

Getting results from your social media is crucial when you’re in business and if you are bootstrapping, it is even more important to harness what is available at no cost.

In addition to the 5 key steps outlined in my article on understanding the basics, it is really important to understand just how busy social media is.

When you realise that Facebook now has more active users than China’s entire population you start to get an idea of how vast it is. More precisely how much traffic is out there!

It’s hard to be heard and seen. BUT… it is still a massive tool for FREE exposure if you are using the right strategies.

Getting Results

Three simple steps to implement to help you get results from your social media

1) Be authentic

Do not imitate.

By all means like and share, but…

Do not try to copy the style and tone of someone else.

Allowing your own brand personality to shine through is what helps build relationships.

Here’s the thing…

Buying a high ticket course or paying a “guru” lots of money does not mean you are going to achieve amazing results…

At least, not overnight.

More than likely you’ll need to do a whole load of hard work behind the scenes.

Remember, the results touted in case studies and testimonials to get you to buy are not typical. If you look carefully, you’ll see there are disclaimers saying exactly that.

2) Have a Plan

Getting results from anything comes down to having a strategy.

This means spending time thinking about the direction that you are taking and whether it is aligning with where you want to take your business.

Write down what it is you are aiming to achieve and then work out the strategy to get you there.

3) Build your mailing list

This is crucial because if Facebook shuts you down you will have lost that audience.

It is not as frightening or as complex as it sounds.

You can bootstrap by using MailChimp which is free up to 2000 subscribers.

Next Step

Try out the three simple tips above and you’ll soon be seeing a difference. Make sure you track what’s happening so you can really measure your results.

Leave me a comment and let me know if you have a plan, or if you need help formulating one.

Fly like a dragon!Fly like a dragon

Michelle

 

 

 

Why you need to be ACTIVE on social media.

Being active on social media offers a great business advantage which is still overlooked by many small business owners.

It’s a cheap and effective way to keep in touch on a personal and business level. Yet it is often misunderstood and I regularly get this question….

Why am I missing posts? 

You’ve liked a page, but you’ve not seen anything from them for a while.

So you hop on over to pay a visit and guess what? There’s a heap of posts you have not seen!

You’ve liked the page, you clicked follow, you’ve set your settings up correctly and yet, you’re still missing out!

How is that possible?

The most likely cause is that you’ve not been engaging.

Think of it like this…

You know what’s happening in the lives of the friends that you see often. You share news, celebrations and commiserations together. You are interested and active in one another’s lives so are front of mind with each other.

When it comes to friends who you rarely see the situation is different.

You’re not up to date on their news. Sure social media is a way to connect, BUT….

Here’s the biggie…..

UNLESS you are actively interacting, you may not be fully in the picture.

You will miss things ….sometimes important stuff!

On a personal level, I missed out on news that someone I knew had a baby and that another had passed away.  I had not been active on their particular page for a while – even though we were Facebook friends.

At the business level, a few people have been telling me they missed out on the Dragon Sisters birthday promo. They had not seen it in their Facebook feed because even though they liked our page, they had not been interacting.

The key is to take an ACTIVE interest.

We all have a group of people we reach out to and make time for. As a result, we’re up to date on what’s happening in their lives.

On social media, it’s pretty much the same.  You can’t just pop up once in a while and expect magic to happen. Life doesn’t work like that and neither does social media.

The key word here is SOCIAL.

When you are social, you have a business advantage over those who are not actively harnessing the free tools readily available.

In a nutshell – if you’re not active, if you don’t interact then you’re likely to miss out on news.

When it comes down to Facebook, their algorithms are going to think you’re not interested and will stop showing you posts from those you do not interact with.

That’s what happened with the two friends I mentioned above….so

How to fix this?

By showing interest. You do this by liking and commenting on a regular basis.  Do this with your friends and with your business.

It’s like your real-time friendships…the more you look after them, the more you know what’s happening in their lives. It’s the same on social media.

Don’t have time?

Think of it like this….keeping up on social media needs a disciplined approach. For a couple of reasons, namely that it can become a big time waster… you can disappear down a rabbit hole and emerge to find 2 or 3 hours have gone past!

The second reason is if you’re posting without a strategy, you’re wasting your time.

Not what you want to happen!

Set aside a fixed time each day to work your channels.  Remember, you do not have to cover all the channels. Choose the ones that work best for you.

You only need 30 minutes per day to do a quick flick through, drop a few comments and likes.

When you are doing this as a business, or in business, it serves a two-fold purpose…

1) It signals to Facebook that you are interested so you’re more likely to be fed the posts.

2) YOU remain front of mind with those you are interacting with…so when they are looking for a service, you are more likely to pop into their heads as someone to contact.

Posting or Interacting?

Both!

It’s important to post on your business page so your fans know you are there, and it’s equally important (and sometimes more important) to interact.

Think of this time spent as an investment in your business…take it from me, the returns are definitely there.

If you are not interacting your name is not staying front of mind.

When you are in business – you need to interact!

Don’t think it would suit your business?

In this day and age, you have to really keep your finger on the pulse. Things move so fast and attention spans are short.

Fortunately,  technology makes it easy to do so. You may not like it much, but it’s the reality and it’s not going away.

More and more businesses are branching out to social media and you should too.  It can really raise your business profile.

Note I said raise your profile. This is very different from making sales.

Key Benefits

It’s cheap – in fact, it’s FREE unless you want to use advertising.

You get real-time feedback – if someone is unhappy, you know about it straight away.

Any reviews are there for the whole world to see and, as the page owner, you cannot delete them unless you delete ALL your reviews.

Similarly, if they are thrilled with a service their reviews are gold!

It’s authentic because you can click on the profiles and see who is commenting/interacting.

Bottom line….if you’re not maximising the free parts of social media, then you’re missing out on opportunities.

Fly like a dragon

Michelle

PS We do offer a short course on Understanding Facebook for Your Business – get in touch if you’d like to know more about it.

Choosing A Coach or Mentor

Choosing a coach or mentor can be a real dilemma – on several levels and I am sure you’ll have noticed that, on a global scale, there seems to be an increasing proliferation of coaches.

I guess it’s a sign of the times that we live in.

A sign that we are attuned to the need to reach out for help.

That’s really positive!

It’s wonderful when you are empowered to ask for help and understand it is not a weakness to seek help, but a strength.

The dilemma comes, when you have to decide who to work with.

Click here for a tip sheet on choosing the right consultant to work with

A good coach is worth their weight in gold.

A quality coach will help you gain clarity and achieve results.

They will help you move forward with whatever aspects of your life or business you want to change/improve/work on. It all comes down to choosing the right person for the job.

How to choose the right coach

This is where you need to do a little homework (or maybe a lot of homework).

Just as there are horses for courses, there are different coaches suited to different people.

There are business coaches, personal development coaches, life coaches and a myriad more. There are also those who are just keen to separate you and your cash.

That’s why checking out reputations (not just what you read on Facebook or in other social media) is vital.

So, yes, it is confusing.

Especially when you are going to be investing your hard-earned money.  At the end of the day it comes down to doing your own due diligence and choosing who you feel will be able to best serve YOUR needs.

Think carefully about what you want from a coach.

Being clear on your expectations of a coach will help you make the right decision.

Lay it on the table and communicate the outcomes you expect.  Get clarity on how your coaching sessions will work, find out the availability of your coach and whether they’ll be running a ‘formula’ or if the sessions are unique to you.

Beware of the coach who claims to be able to work miracles. It comes down to your own efforts, but only once you understand what is required and have the tools to get from point A to point B.

There is no one size fits all, and different coaches have different niches and styles. You also need to consider whether their coaching style aligns with how you learn.

Or do you want a mentor?

There’s often confusion between the two. In an article written back in August 2015, on my personal blog, I talk about the difference between a coach and a mentor. You can check it out here.

Am I a coach or mentor?

Although some clients choose to engage me to coach them through specific areas of business I don’t market myself as a coach. I am first and foremost a business consultant that will, on occasion, coach clients in order to achieve their goals.

To your success,

Michelle

Click here for a tip sheet on choosing the right consultant to work with

 

Your Reputation Matters – Check Out Who You’re Trusting With It!

Your reputation is affected by those who you surround yourself with.

I had an interesting little experience on LinkedIn and I thought I’d share it with you.

Maybe you’ve come across the same thing?

I was asked to connect with an individual on LinkedIn by another connection. This was an overt network expansion request to help generate interest in, this unknown to me potential connection’s, business.

Let’s call this individual, Larry.

Now, I’m not precious about my LinkedIn connections and who I let into my network. Ordinarily.

After all, if I can give a leg up to another business, then I’m usually more than happy to do so. That’s how networking works and our Dragon Sisters philosophy has always been to help out for no gain – the pay it forward concept.

That doesn’t mean I was born yesterday.

With many more yesterday’s behind me than I like to count, naturally I checked out my soon to be LinkedIn pal, Larry.

I’m a nosey sort and I really am interested in other people’s business.

Not in the curtain-twitcher way! (I’m not that nosey).

More in the what we might have in common way.

At first, I couldn’t figure out why my connection – let’s call him Bob – was raving about Larry.

Larry’s LinkedIn profile and information looked like he’d landed in LinkedIn Land a nanosecond ago.

Kind of the man with no past.

He’d been at the company he worked at only a few brief months. He claimed over a decade in experience and achievement in his sector, but there was nothing to bear out the claim anywhere in his summary or experience.

And I mean nothing.

With over 400 connections Larry had 4 skills endorsements and no past experience history.

Not that I count on vanity metrics, but still, given the dearth of information about the guy, that made his claims more than a bit tenuous.

His company website linked to nothing more informative than an opt-in landing site.

Oh-oh! Had Bob already parted with hard-won cash?

I had a nasty feeling he had. And Bob is a talented, hardworking, solopreneur. I didn’t like to think he’d been gulled.

So, I dug down a bit.

Actually, I drilled down like a manic mole. ‘Til the early hours, when I should have been in LaLa Land with the Sandman and a flock of supine sheep.

But I was intrigued and in full rat-up-a-drain-pipe mode.

Plus, as I said, I’m nosey.

The whole ‘curiosity killed the cat’ thing doesn’t wash with me. Not when it comes to business or handing over cash.

Larry’s claim was that he had the expertise to monetise Bob’s LinkedIn presence for Bob’s explosive business growth.

Really fast and really impressively.

Kind of like a LinkedIn networking guru who could turn LinkedIn into lots of lovely lolly for Bob.

First up, Larry would transform Bob’s profile and presence on LinkedIn into amazing guru-hood for Bob’s specific business sector. Bob’s new profile looked more gnu-like than guru-like. I was about as impressed as a kid at Christmas getting a stocking full of coal.

Bob has paid for this?! My high school kid has a better profile than poor old Bob. And that includes her Saturday job as wait staff.

Talk about being under-whelmed. Larry had done nothing for Bob’s professional reputation. Worse. He’d made Bob look like a complete numpty. And Bob is no numpty. In his field of expertise he’s a star.

My mid-night digging led me to the parent company of Larry’s business. It had been registered just last year. I dug around for the CEO of Larry’s company and that Big Cheese’s other business interests and his partners.

I looked at everyone associated with those businesses on Google, other social media sites and of course, on LinkedIn.

I checked out the company registrations. I checked out the glowing recommendations. Some of which were the same people (on various Big Cheese individual profiles) vouching for (different) businesses which hadn’t existed at the time of writing those gushing this is the go-to guy testimonials.

I found links to defunct websites (with domains registered to the Big Cheeses). To past events promising get-rich-quick schemes.

Most weird of all, was that the people in business together didn’t transparently acknowledge any relationship with each other. They all came from the same background. They all made lavish monetising promises, in different guises and under different companies over the years.

None of them had achieved rich list status themselves. And the way they were scrambling for business, like a pack of hyenas over a bone, had me worried that Bob had become the bone. Humble, lovely Bob, who had trusted his reputation to them and I suspected was on his way to trusting more of his hard-won cash to some under the radar business interests. And not in his business interests.

Spooky, isn’t it?

Dragon Sisters are big advocates of how to Connect. Convert. Sell.

There are ways to go about connecting authentically. This wasn’t one of them. Least ways, not one that works for Bob. Next time he’ll be checking out the reputation of who he’s trusting with his reputation. And money!

Warm Wishes

Yvonne

PS Do you need support deciding who to trust your reputation to? Download our Top 10 Tips by clicking the box below:

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.

Protecting Brand YOU this holiday season

Protecting Brand YOU needs to be at the forefront of your mind as the busiest social season of corporate and employer hospitality approaches.

When it comes to the corporate Christmas party as a guest, and as a host, there’s quite a bit to be considered, not least, what not to do at the festive function.

If you’re in an environment where year-round business socialising has been prevalent, you’ve probably seen (and heard of) countless social blunders and corporate clangers, and nowhere is this more prolific than at the work Christmas do.

It’s astonishing how Brand Buffoon comes to the fore, to boot the most carefully nurtured Brand Me image off its precarious pedestal.

In the interests of fairness, I’ll ‘fess up to having been less than whiter than seasonal snow-driven slush, (or was it lush?), just so this ramble doesn’t smack of the holier-than-thou.

Back in the day when I was a newly minted sales sprog, I attended my first company Christmas party, a lavish affair complete with all-night free bar (uh-oh!).

The lessons I learned from the experience are:

  • An all-night bar doesn’t make it compulsory to drink all night;
  • Never attempt (if you’re on your ‘nth’ bubbly beverage) to converse with anyone of authority, however jolly they seem on the Bolli – it’s a trap;
  • Do not approach the tilting dance floor – you could barely stay upright when it wasn’t moving;
  • It’s inelegant to crawl up the foyer staircase – take the elevator – the service elevator (by now you can easily pass for a bag of laundry);
  • Only a complete numpty books their top prospect appointment for the morning after.

Not the most auspicious way to launch a career and Brand Me!

It was so long ago that it pre-dates handheld mobile phones, let alone iPhones and social media (thank you God!); I can only show my face on LinkedIn now because my bosses from back then have since retired or died – or have pretended to in order to avoid me.

Had there been such things as blogs at the time, I may have been saved (from my idiotic self) by Dan Miles’ Blog The Ultimate Office Christmas Party Etiquette Guide, in which he lists his #1 tip as ‘Be on brand’. A piece of invaluable advice! It’s quite hilarious, if a bit naughty …

In a more managerial vein, there’s also this article on Managing Office Christmas Parties from the legal eagles Eversheds. After reading this last one, you could be forgiven for grinching out and doing without a Christmas do … if you don’t mind being Brand Grinch.

Yvonne

PS – this post was originally published on Simple Team Meeting

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.