As Good as the Next Guy

At the supermarket I noticed a package of batteries with this blurb: Lasts as long as Energizer.

So, they’re as good as the next guy.

Is that any way to advertise yourself? Is anyone going to switch battery brands (or, more importantly, start working with a “virtual” partner on mission-critical tasks) because they’re “as good as the next guy” ?

Marketers talk about your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for a good reason. If you can’t show a prospect why you are the only possible choice, why you are the perfect match for them, ask yourself: why should they choose you?

If you’re only as good as the next guy, what happens when the next guy gets just a little bit cheaper, or a little better, or both?

(By the way, even if you’re far better than the next guy, if you can’t show a prospect why you’re a perfect match, consider the possibility that they aren’t a perfect match for you.)

Unplug and Recharge Your Batteries

Have you been feeling worn, overwhelmed and like you’re always working? Do you find yourself on the weekend sending out Tweets and Facebook messages so you don’t miss out on any opportunities to reach prospects?

If you answered ‘yes’, it’s time to unplug and recharge your batteries. Take a weekend off, ignore your email, don’t Tweet and only use Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family.

This past weekend for the first time in many months I took time to read a novel. It was so relaxing to be unplugged and not concern myself with reaching out to my peers and prospects. I feel relaxed, recharged and better equipped to start the new week.

Take time this weekend to unplug and recharge your batteries. You may just find creative ideas come to you as you relax. Jot them down and take another day to explore how you can implement them in your business.

Corrupting Gift Culture

Have I got an amazing special for you!

You just know those words are going to be followed by a pitch, don’t you?

First, I’ll get the rant off my chest: telling me that you have $10,000 worth of ‘products’ for only $297 is selling, period. It’s not special, it’s not a gift. In fact, if these are electronic products with zero cost to reproduce, there’s no such thing as a ‘special’ price because even if I only give you a nickel, your profit margin on that sale was 100%.

Folks looking for yet another tricky advertising gimmick (you can tell them a mile off because all their prices end in ‘7’) are delighted to imply that they’re giving you a gift, some amazing mega deluxe special extra deal, in order to make a sale.

Let’s stop corrupting what the words ‘gift’ and ‘special’ mean. Don’t you dare imply you’re doing someone a favor, and then ask them for money. Making a smaller profit isn’t a favor, it’s business.

Remember when you used to be able to ask someone out for coffee in order to get to know their business better? Smart folks realised that by unselfishly learning about others in order to send them qualified prospects, our networks grew and in the long run, it came back around to us.

Selfish folks figured this out, and started asking networking victims out to coffee to ‘learn about your business.’ And then, as soon as they’d trudged through the formalities, the hard sell started. Pitch pitch pitch.

Try asking someone out for coffee so you can learn about their business. Watch the panic in their eyes, the scramble for an excuse. Selfish sellers have done their best to suck the juice out of an unselfish but brilliant method of organically, humanly, growing your business.

Promise me that you, yes you, reading right there, will never resort to deception, no matter how subtle, in your marketing or your business. Promise me that if you offer a gift, it is truly a gift, with no thought of return. Promise me that your ‘special’ price is actually less than what you’ve actually sold for in the past, and explain why you’re reducing the price (otherwise, it just looks like you couldn’t sell it for a hundred so you’ll try fifty.) Promise me that you’ll stop ending prices in the number 7 because even if it works, it’s psychological trickery and it’s unethical and immoral.

Find someone who’s corrupting the gift culture which has been fundamental to civilization for thousands of years, and send them a link to this post. Let’s make sure everyone everywhere knows that we’re not gonna take it anymore. At the very least, the lazy clowns will have to find something else to corrupt.

Rise above the garbage and noise. You’re better than that. You know that, of course, but you’re afraid. I get it.

Sometimes being a hero is hard.

Eggs. Baskets. Chickens.

Just got word that a big project we’d invested a lot of effort into isn’t going to happen. In the past, I would have pinned a lot of hopes on that money coming in, and been in a panic when it didn’t.

These days I know better. No project is certain until the money’s in the till.

So many metaphors come to mind. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, f’rinstance. It’s easy to say, look, we’ve got eggs, therefore, we’ll have chickens. Or, look, we’ve got hot prospects, therefore we’ve got a project.

Speaking of eggs, don’t put ’em all in one basket. If you earn your living primarily from a single client, that client owns you. In reality, you’re en employee, not an entrepreneur. Have plenty of smaller eggs, not just one large one.

And more than one basket, if you can arrange it.

Twenty small streams of income is more stable than 2 large streams. Seems nothing is stable these days, so when you start juggling all those chickens and eggs and baskets, be prepared to lose a few.

If you’ve got spares, there’ll always be enough for that omelette.

Speaking to Your Prospects

Of course you’re trying to find more clients. Isn’t everyone? Have you ever wished you could get in front of a crowd of business owners so you could speak to them about your services? That’s exactly what I’m recommending you do – speak to your prospects.

I’ve been able to do this more than once at local networking events where I was invited to speak to a group of business owners about what a virtual assistant does. I’ve also done this on telecalls. So how do you prepare to speak to a group of business owners?

1. Determine what you will speak about. Create a title that grabs their attention and that shows the benefit they will receive. For example, my title is “11 Ways a Virtual Assistant Will Help You Get More Done“.

2. Write up an outline detailing the challenges your audience faces and the solutions you can provide.

3. Create a bio that demonstrates your knowledge, background and experience.

4. Include testimonials of clients who have worked with you and used your services.

5. Contact local groups and pitch your idea to come speak to their group. Often local organizations are looking for speakers and would be very happy to have you come speak to their group.

6. Prepare a handout to give each attendee providing valuable information and of course include all your contact information.

I’d love to hear from any of you that have done this or something similar. Tell us how it went!