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5 Reasons Now Is the Best Time to Start Your Own Business

 

GE, GM, IBM, Disney, HP, Hyatt, Trader Joe’s, FedEx, and Microsoft were founded during hard times.


BY GEOFFREY JAMES, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, INC.COM@SALES_SOURCE

5 Reasons Now Is the Best Time to Start Your Own Business

Yes, due to cosmically inept handling of a major pandemic, most of the economy is tanking. Yes, businesses with less than 500 employees are going belly-up at twice the rate of larger firms. And, yes, traditional “mom and pop” businesses are disappearing by the thousands every day.

Nevertheless, this is the best time to start a small business, for five reasons:

1. There are unmet needs everywhere.

A famous entrepreneur once told me that every time you hear a person swearing when using a product or service, it’s an opportunity to sell them something better. Or, put another way, misery loves companies.

While there are some products (like smartphones) that satisfy needs that people didn’t know they had, most successful products fulfill needs of which people (i.e. potential customers) are painfully aware.

There’s plenty of pain out there right now (and plenty of swearing) which means there are endless opportunities to create sustainable businesses that help people cope with this perfect storm of disruptions.

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2. There’s a huge pool of available talent.

When businesses and industries collapse unemployment grows. While government bailouts have kept the economy from sinking entirely, it looks inevitable that the economy is going to take a major hit, which means even more people out of work.

In the past, small businesses–the very businesses taking the brunt of a bumbling government–have employed about half of U.S. workers. Millions of valued, experienced, hard-working employees are in the market for a new job.

Under these circumstances, creating a business that hires people is a good deed on its own merits. And with so much talent to choose from, you should be able to assemble a team that can take on any challenge.

3. Marketing has never been cheaper.

As businesses fold up shop, they naturally stop advertising, which inevitably means that ad rates go down. This means that it won’t cost your startup all that much to achieve local, national or even international visibility.

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4. Potential competitors are in disarray.

Some large companies, like Amazon or Zoom, lucked out because they provided a product or service that exactly matched a major need resulting from the pandemic. Large companies, however, find it difficult to change even under normal circumstances and thost that haven’t lucked out have been caught flat-footed.

This means that you can start a company even in a market that has dominant players without worrying about them squishing you like a bug because, frankly, they’ve got bigger fish to fry. (Apologies for the mixed metaphors.)

5. The post-COVID recovery is inevitable.

As awful as things are today, there will inevitably come a time when the pandemic and resulting depression will be over. Companies that will have adapted to thrive in these troubled times will be perfectly positioned to take off when the nightmare is over.

Companies founded during hard times in the past include General Electric, General Motors, IBM, Disney, HP, Hyatt, Trader Joe’s, Fedex, and Microsoft. A lousy economy didn’t stop their founders. Don’t let today’s lousy economy stop you.AUG 26, 2020Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you’ll never miss a post.The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.


How to Close Sales Faster In a Pandemic

BY: MARK HUNTER|PUBLISHED ON: AUG 26, 2020|CATEGORIES: SALES MINDSETSALES MOTIVATIONSALES PROCESS0 COMMENTS

My newest book, A Mind For Sales, relates to what we’re dealing with today in the middle of a pandemic. So much of it has to do with our mind. There’s a tremendous amount of business out there; we just have to be flexible and willing to adapt to go find it.

I’m going to share with you 10 steps on how to close sales faster in a pandemic.

I encourage you to hit subscribe so you have access to the new content I put out there every week – on my blog.

1. Keep It Simple for Your Customers

This is not the time to get into a complex sales process. It’s not the time to get into major, major deals that are going to take years to close and involve multiple people. With a lot of people working from home, it’s much harder to get people together. You have to keep everything in your sales process and in what you sell. All of it must be simple in order to help the person or maybe the two people you’re speaking with to make a fast decision.

2. Focus on Your ICP

Now more than ever, you have to stay tight with your ICP – ideal customer profile. Stay focused. It is too easy to chase the shiny object for the sake of trying to find business; however, when you get outside your lane and start dealing with people not within your ICP, it will take you much longer to understand them and for them to understand you. That will just slow down the process. Stay in your lane and stay focused on your ICP.

3. Fast Prospecting

What is fast prospecting all about? It means you need to double down and triple down the speed with which you’re interacting with customers. This is not the time to sit there and say that you’ll slowly continue to reach out to them like every month. No! It’s not the time for that. You have to take whatever your process was, cut the time in half, and double the contacts. Prospecting must be faster than ever. In other words, if you normally reach out to your prospects every two weeks, now it needs to be every week. If you usually reach out every week, reach out every three days. Speed is what it takes. Speed sells!

4. Narrow the Solution

When you talk to a customer and engage them, the solution is not to start throwing out all of these ideas as to what they can do or all these things that they’re going to be able to accomplish. No, it’s not the time to sell world peace. This is not the time to try to find a solution for hunger. Now is the time to narrow the solution and help the customer achieve that one specific outcome that they’re looking to achieve.

5. Shorten the RSI

Remember that customers don’t want to be sold to and really, I don’t even think they want to buy. What they desire is a return on their investment. That is what they truly want, so it’s your job to show your customers how they can quickly receive a return on their investment when they buy from you and invest with you. Therefore, let them know that when they buy “x” service or product from you, they will immediately get value back. I have to do everything possible to shorten the ROIC, because things are just too unstable as we look long-term.

6. Limit the Options

When you get to the point of putting things out on the table, don’t say, “well, hey, why don’t you pick from one of 18 different items?” This is not the time to play buffet. No, no. You must limit the options. Any time you present too many options, you automatically slow down the decision-making process because the customer needs more time to think about it. Don’t put more than three options out on the table.

7. Trust

One of the reasons I am able to only put two or three options on the table is because I’ve earned their trust. Without a doubt, trust is key. Everything in your sales process must be centered around helping the customer understand that they can trust you, because you trust them.

Confidence starts in the listing and the respect. Confidence creates integrity, and integrity is really the sister or brother of trust. The greater the level of trust you have, the faster the customer is willing to make a decision with you.

8. Two-Way Street

Have you ever driven down a two-way street and noticed there are cars on the other side? They’re coming at you from the opposite direction. So, what is a two-way street and how does it relate to sales and prospecting? When it comes to helping you close sales faster, you have to understand that there will be give and take on both sides, but stay in your lane. This does not mean that you give the customer everything he/she wants. No, not at all. You don’t do that. Just understand that there may be wiggles and shakes that you need to be prepared for, and that’s okay.

9. Land and Expand

I want you to put this simple phrase on your computer. Put it on your phone. It’s your objective to make it so simple for your customer to do business with you that you land them as a new customer. Then, once you do, you expand that customer and begin building into and getting them in additional ways. But you have to create that initial sale first.

10. Value your Time

Your time is your most prized resource. It’s not what you sell. It’s not your customer. It is your time. In order to use your time wisely, go back through this list of nine and ask yourself where you need to change things. When you begin to understand the value of your time and that you can’t put a price on it, you’ll be able to close sales faster than ever. Time is priceless.

For more tips on valuing your time, go check out my blog post and video on How to Gain An Extra Three Weeks Every Year.

Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog.  Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.


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ARE INFLUENCER’S THE NEW EDITORS IN CHIEF?

Influencer marketing is one of the most misunderstood concepts in business.
Garyvee
by GARYVEE
 @garyvee
4 days ago · 2 min read

Influencer marketing is one of the most misunderstood concepts in business.


There is no doubt in my mind that influencers are the next editors-in-chief. Which is to say, if an editor-in-chief dictates what comes out of an outlet that is trusted, say a Washington Post, an ABC Worldwide News, or what was Life Magazine–that’s exactly what’s happening with influencers.

Now, that audience respects that human and that human is endorsing that brand.

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WHY INFLUENCER MARKETING ISN’T “SELLING OUT”

I would argue against the belief that influencer marketing is “selling out”. That, somehow, the audience doesn’t believe the influencer. I would argue, there’s an interesting depth and psychology behind influencer marketing. People that love somebody as an audience actively appreciate brands that subsidize that person’s life. Now, that influencer can continue to entertain or inform them the other 330 days a year. There’s a subconscious trade going on, between the audience and the brand that’s subsiding the livelihood of that influencer.

That brings almost a weird appreciation… like thank you _____ brand. If that brand wasn’t paying this influencer, they’d have to go back to working a regular paying job and their fans really enjoy their comedy, their looks, their information, and/or their content on a daily basis. 

HOW TO WORK WITH INFLUENCER’S

With this in mind, there are a few things to remember when working with influencers. In general, collaboration involves three things. Number one, influencers are underpriced and overpriced so really do your homework on who the influencer is. Do they have a manager that’s asking for a big number or are they just a regular person? Can you compensate them with your product or service for free?  That is always a good trade. 

Next, I think the way to work with influencers is to let them have 100% control of the context of the content. I am consistently blown away by the naiveté of brands that try to dictate to influencers how they should make the creative. It always feels awkward, it doesn’t land, and it doesn’t convert–even if the influencer says “Yes.” A lot of influencers have gotten smart enough to say no. 

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Number three. Volume of an influencer marketing campaign matters. I talk a lot about volume content because I’m blown away by many brands. They do a campaign with six influencers and then decide if that’s good or not. We live in a world where there are tens of millions of micro and macro influencers in play for almost any brand on the earth. So, that’s something. That’s part of the strategy people should think about.

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How to Run a Successful Text Message Marketing Campaign

This article is for small business owners considering launching a text message marketing campaign.

By Sammi Caramela, Contributing WriterUpdated: August 18, 2020

image for Champion studio / Shutterstock

  • Text message marketing is more personal than other forms of marketing and can help a business gain traction.
  • SMS messages should follow a structured, efficient marketing campaign.
  • Text marketing involves bulk text messages sent to qualified leads.
  • This article is for small business owners considering launching a text message marketing campaign.

Consumers are constantly bombarded with social alerts from friends, family, work and brands. Because of these disruptions, many disable notifications for email and other social networks. If you want to market in real time, you need to send a text message. However, for a successful SMS campaign, one that relies on text message marketing as a primary means of reaching existing customers, it must be legal and structured, and it needs to provide traceable, useful leads.

“Because text messages appear on people’s mobile phones, they feel more personal than other kinds of marketing,” said Luke Wilson, chief revenue officer of EZ Texting. “Texting allows businesses to do many of the things that traditional media does … without having to invest in extra hardware, labor, printing, or media buys.”

Text message marketing isn’t for everyone, though, and the brands that use it need to ensure their texts are helpful and relevant rather than intrusive and spammy (or worse, illegal). It’s easy to tip the scale and turn people off with your messages. Here’s how to incorporate texting into your digital marketing strategy without annoying customers.

What is text message marketing?

Text message marketing is the ongoing process of communicating business news, sales, promotions or other relevant information to your customers via SMS (short message service) text messages on their mobile devices. It is a type of digital marketing strategy that helps build brand awareness on a more personal level. Consumers must opt in to your messaging before you begin sending texts to them.

You can send bulk messages to groups of customers or audience segments, or customize the experience even more by sending individualized messages. This tactic allows you to bypass other marketing noise – social media ads, email marketing campaigns, etc., – and go directly to consumers’ phones.

How does text message marketing work?

Text message marketing relies on a database consisting of your customers’ names, cell phone numbers and other information (geographic region, customer categories, customer interests) that helps you track the sales process.

Text message marketing targets a specific audience.

As with any marketing endeavor, the more information you have on hand and the more specific your customer segments are, the better. Similar to how Facebook ads target people within a certain area, by age, and by interests, the best text message marketing is highly customized and geared toward a specific target audience.

Through SMS marketing, you’re getting as specific as possible and meeting your customers where they are – on their smartphones. By communicating your marketing messages to a targeted audience, you’re able to cultivate more meaningful connections with users and interactions with qualified leads.

Text message marketing acts as part of an overall marketing campaign.

As a marketer, the most important thing to remember about all mobile marketing  (i.e., marketing that relies on technical and digital methods to reach mobile users, as opposed to printed materials) is that it should be part of an overall marketing campaign. No company should start text messaging marketing without a game plan on how it all fits together to reach new customers.

Text messaging isn’t appropriate for every marketing scenario. Yoni Ben-Yehuda, head of business development at Material Good, advises marketers to use it for things like a delivery status, a secondary message after you download a certain mobile app or program, a receipt of purchase, or an exclusive discount. Text message marketing is only effective for brands with an audience that prefer this form of communication.

“A text is more personal than an email, so if you’re contacting the user and they’ve never heard of you … you’ll likely be considered spam,” said Ben-Yehuda. “When the brand recognition is present with the user and they’re familiar with your company or products, offering them content via text can be efficient.”

Mobile marketing channels, which include SMS, social media, email, and other forms of marketing, should all complement and benefit each other, thus contributing to your company’s overall mobile marketing campaign.

How do I set up text advertising?

Text message marketing is a distinct and effective way to stay in touch with your existing customers, but only if you do it right. First, you must secure the legal right to communicate with customers via text, lest you run afoul of Federal Communications Commission regulations.

Once you have customers’ permission, make sure your text messages are on brand and valuable to them, rather than being annoying or intrusive. If you follow these steps, your SMS campaign can build trust in your brand and keep your products and services top of mind among your customers.

Some companies start their own database for text message marketing to send bulk messages, sometimes relying on a third-party service such as Twilio for the actual transmission. Of course, a small business or startup can conduct SMS marketing using their own campaign and by sending group texts.

Businesses often work with an SMS text messaging provider such as Twilio, TrueDialogTrumpia, or SimpleTexting to handle some of the database collection, legal issues, and actual text messaging transmissions. These companies can provide a quote for bulk text campaigns and text message marketing according to your demographic and customer segment.

Additionally, SMS marketing software from companies like EZ Texting and Braze provide more services than simple database collection and transmission. You can use this kind of marketing automation to create a campaign and track its success.

Who regulates SMS text message marketing?

The Federal Communications Commission

Before you send any text messages to customers, you must be aware of the FCC’s strict guidelines on message transmission and customer consent. The important point is that text message marketing is not something you set up on a whim and spam would-be customers.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act

The TCPA protects consumers from mass text messages and is very specific about how you can send bulk messages. The important thing is to obtain written consent from every customer.

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association

The CTIA is a trade association that provides guidelines and helpful tips on text message marketing, although you won’t find the same level of legal guidelines as you will with the FCC and the TCPA.

Text message marketing best practices

Ready to launch your text message marketing campaign? Here are some best practices to follow for success.

Get permission.

Text message marketing has evolved over the years. In the early days, spamming people with texts was considered morally wrong, but some companies did it anyway.

These days, according to FCC rules, it is illegal unless you have explicit consent. The days of purchasing a mass database of phone numbers and sending out texts are long gone. In fact, doing so could be a violation of FCC rules that carries a hefty fine and other penalties.

As with email marketing, you must get explicit permission from consumers before sending them text messages. Not only will you be sending messages to an audience who wants this type of marketing, but you’ll avoid irritating those who don’t.

“Only use text messaging as a marketing channel if the customer or potential customer has opted in and supplied you with their phone number,” said Ben-Yehuda. “If you contact users unsolicited, you run the risk of losing your credibility and having them unsubscribe to your messages.”

Wilson advised using a keyword campaign to grow your list so consumers can text a specific word to a short code and opt in for deals, alerts, and more. For example, he said, ask consumers to “text TRY to 858585 for a demo,” with TRY being the keyword and 858585 the code.

Keep texts short and to the point.

The texts you send contacts should be short and simple, yet straightforward. If you continuously send lengthy messages, users won’t bother reading and will opt out of receiving messages in the future.

Additionally, SMS messaging has a limit of 160 characters, so it’s smart to grab their attention, communicate your marketing message, and close with a CTA, all in 160 characters or less. For example, when informing customers about mobile coupons, get their attention with an exciting opener/greeting, relay details about the coupons, then explain how they can access them – no need for extra fluff.

Don’t bombard users.

While it’s tempting to communicate every piece of news or promotion related to your business, don’t overdo your SMS advertising efforts. Consumers can’t simply ignore texts as they could a billboard or social media advertisement. If they receive an overwhelming influx of messages from your business, they’ll opt out.

Instead, create your text message marketing campaign by scheduling texts only when necessary and limiting how many you send to a specific (appropriate) number of customers.

Add value.

No matter what you communicate through your marketing text messages, above all else, make sure it’s relevant and adds value to the consumer’s experience with your brand.

“When you’re ready to reach out to your list, think about messages that will please your contacts,” said Wilson. “Coupons, promotions and sneak peeks are crowd pleaser’s that your subscribers should be happy to receive.”

Joseph Anthony, founder and CEO of the millennial-focused marketing agency Hero Collective, added that smart brands give consumers the kind of communication they’re used to with their peer groups and social circles.

“Providing useful information, in addition to promotional offers, will create a level of anticipation and surprise,” he said. “Brands must see text message marketing similar to how they look at joining conversations on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They must ask themselves how they can add value without being intrusive so what they offer is commensurate with what [consumers] may get from [their friends].”

Send texts at appropriate times.

Make sure your consumers don’t feel like they’re flooded with messages at inappropriate hours or trapped in a subscription. Pay close attention to when you are scheduling your messages (e.g., during the day versus late at night). Consumers might feel you’re being intrusive, even unprofessional if you send texts at random hours.

Wilson recommends texting during typical business hours and being transparent about what customers should expect from your program. That way, no one feels resentful toward your SMS advertising, and less people will feel the need to reply “STOP.”

Offer an unsubscribe option.

While the last thing you want to consider is your audience opting out of your program, making it easy for consumers to do so can make them more willing to sign up for your texts from the start.

Wilson recommends making it easy for users to opt out at any time if they so choose. You can offer this option by providing an unsubscribe link for them to click, or replying to your message with “STOP.”

Additional reporting by John Brandon and Nicole Fallon. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.Coronavirus Business AdviceGet weekly expert advice on finance, marketing, HR and other business matters to help your business navigate COVID-19.&Enter your email address below.SUBSCRIBEThis site is protected by reCAPTCHA. Google’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service 

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn’t writing for business.com and Business News Daily, she’s writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. She is also the content manager for Lightning Media Partners. Check out her short stories in “Night Light: Haunted Tales of Terror,” which is sold on Amazon.