As scary as it may feel having your competitors in the same room as you is not bad for business. It can actually seriously improve your business success.
It’s all very well to walk into a networking event and be the only person in the room that does what you do, however real life is not like that. And we don’t want to sugar coat business, we want to help you make it really work.
And to do that, you need to be able to effectively deal with the competition.
(We also think its important that you know that we care about ALL women in business and as such although we are known as a very proactive environment to gain new business we are also about business growth and don’t want to exclude someone from the opportunity to hear one of our master class speakers just because they were not first through the door with a fat membership fee – hence the no membership ever policy!)
So how can you effectively deal with completion?
Firstly as much as Tescos or Sainsburys would love to be the only supermarket in your town they are not. And the profits rise and fall as they respect and care for their customers, suppliers and staff. (Worth noting right?)
Years ago when I lived in a one street of shops town , there was one clothes shop for ladies, Dorothy Perkins. When we heard that they were building a row of shops opposite this and one of them would be New Look, the local Chamber Commerce said it would doom the town centre.
How could a town support 2 ladies fashion stores?
The fact is it had the opposite effect. Instead of people leaving our tiny town to shop elsewhere, suddenly there was choice. It didn’t damage the town, it enhanced it and caused more shops to be built. The town, grew. (Something else worth noting right?)
Lots of business women make the mistake of assuming that because there is competition in the room, they will lose out on business opportunities, on the contrary its your chance to shine. To showcase why you.
What do you give your customers that no one else can or does?
How do you make your clients feel truly loved?
Knowing this and getting it across in your marketing strategy is imperative. And when networking the same language, words, and attitude should shine through everything you say too. Remember people buy from people, not businesses, so in the words of your happiest favourite customers why you?
How do you fix peoples woes, worries, stresses and problems?
Power up your success rate by talking about real time solutions, happy customers and top tips for a happier life and/or business.
When it comes to Value Added Marketing the end goal is not just a sale. How do you make people feel special? Do you keep in touch effectively so that they naturally only want to work with you?
The lovely Di Gilbranch (The Doggy Dinner Lady from Trophy Pet Food Colchester) makes a point of getting in touch by text (because she knows that’s easy for me) and checks up on our dog food supply. I don’t ever have to place an order. Di does the leg work and even delivers to my door. Now that is service that I am happy to pay for and I recommend. So a national store could have my custom, but you can guess who gets it!
Tell me are Mick Jagger & Madonna the best singers in the world?
Sorry Madge but there are better, however Mick and Madge are still making records (and money) because they keep up to date and in touch with their target audience. The biggest brands in the world don’t just advertise to get your business, they advertise to keep it.
If you want to deal with the competition, you accept they exist, raise your game and keep visual. And that’s not just turning up at an event. How do you keep on peoples radar between events?
Is it consistent?
Do you go on about your products and services or are you useful, relevant and interesting?
The hardest thing to deal with, when you see competition in the same room is that overwhelming thing that us women are so good at, and that is to convince yourself that they are better than you, and everyone will love them more. It’s just not true. Be really confident about your price, products and services and remember that people have already chosen you. Why shouldn’t they again? (Unless your competition is offering free Ferraris with every purchase!)
I accept that I’m not the right business coach for everyone. As I like to say there are over 66 million people in the UK and I’m not coaching all of them. Horses for courses right? So accept you are the perfect horse for the perfect client.
Meeting compeititon is also good for you in the sense that it makes you raise your game. Are you doing all you could for your clients? Do you use the latest marketing technques to ensure client retention? Do you know the state of the art technologies for your industry? By meeting my competition I get to hear what other people are doing. What they are learning about. What new techniques they’ve tried. How they deal with their business problems. I don’t see competition as a problem I see competition as an opportunity. To learn and share.
If competition was so bad for business, why does every professional body have a yearly conference? Makes you think right?
If you are really confident in the person you are, the company you own and the abilities you and you company have to be just perfect for your customers, then you could really freak the competition out and work with them. What about a joint event or venture? Some of the best opportunities and most fun I’ve had in business is when I’ve worked with someone who is considered as direct competition. I get to have a great time, learn and share. And support even more people to success. So could you go so far as to work with your competition?
Could your competition lead to new opportunities? When you have too much work on (what a lovely problem to have!) could you pass on work and take a % cut? Could you work with someone prepared to be white labelled to your company because they had to do no work to gain that client?
I get it, I understand that scary “gosh did my heart just stop moment” when you meet someone networking who does what you do. However instead of hiding your head in the sand pretending you are the only person in your county that does what you do your competition is your chance to really shine.
Get known as the thought leader.
And really get known for all the right reasons.
If there are a hundred suited business men and women in the room it is not by accident that I will wear a bright colour. I’m prepared to stand out and accept horses for courses, and boy does the competition teach me so much. Especially how to prove to customers old, new and potential that I’ m right for them and more than anyone else on the planet I genuinely care about their success.
So don’t hide from the competition, accept they exist and use The BWN events to showcase that you are ready for anything. Because let’s be honest in business you need to be.
My name is Mandie Holgate and I’m the founder of The BWN. I always want to do my very best for women in business, so if you think I’ve lost the plot by inviting the competition to events, and not having block outs, I’m very happy to hear your viewpoint (negative or positive) And of course support you to effectively deal with the competition too. See you at a BWN soon!
I’m speaking at the University for the Institute of Directors next week and I’ve been asked to share my top tips for networking success. Planning what I will talk about makes me think of my clients and the business women I get to be with at The BWN networking events. And I will share next week the same great stuff I do with you guys all the time. But hey these students will not have me there with them once a month, so what are the most important things I could say to someone that wants success?
And I realised it is the same things that I work with clients on all the time. Ready for the big secrets?
Ready to find out what I think are the keys to your success?
And what is more scary they are things within in our control!
The keys to success are confidence and communication.
I’ve had everyone from CEO’s and start up’s tell me that when they communicate effectively they can get what they want. They can get solutions. Ask the right questions to move their business and success forward.
Many people think that networking is something that you do in a snazzy hotel with coffee and business cards. And yet networking is everywhere. In the queue at the bank, having your nails done, or waiting for a client (all of those have happened to me and delivered a new client.) So the first thing you need to master to be a successful business woman is your ability to communicate effectively.
I bet right about now there are a good few readers saying easier said than done. Okay so I get it can be scary and tricky, but anything you want in life has an element of fear and nervousness attached, its how you know you really want it.
I would also say that every single person that I’ve worked with this year has been coached to communicate effectively. From the business owner that wanted to renegotiate one of their biggest contracts (for more money with less work – and yes they got it!) to the business owner that went to a national conference and targeted the dream contract and yes things are happening! You see communicating what you want is what matters, so find out what you really want, who can help you get it and how to get that message across effectively.
But even more important than communication is…
If you have inner confidence you don’t care if you make a fool of yourself and get it wrong, because getting it wrong is on the road to getting it right, right?
Inner confidence means you have the confidence to go up to that person you know you want to work with and say “Lets talk”.
So my big gift to you this Christmas is to know and accept that you need to boost your communication and cocnfidence. And I promise with every cell in my body that if you walk through the doors of The BWN events me and my cooridndators will do all that we can to boost your confidence aand success.
Sales, SEO, Marketing, Social media, PR, Awards, Profit, Time Management, Vision and Mission Statements, Phone and Public speaking fears, branding, Business structure and strategy can all be learnt, but without communication skills and confidence, you will always be able to undermine your success. So let’s power up your success today.
I’ve had so many women say to me “Mandie I can’t do it.” and even if I don’t coach them I’m there for them, and we chat and I share ideas at The BWN and what do you know, suddenly they can do it and they do. Your success deserves that too!
See you soon and Merry Christmas and here’s to a very profitable successful 2016
Stick around aand we could make that happen for you too!
My name is Mandie Holgate and as founder of The BWN, everything that enables success for business women matters to me and I will share it with you. Attracting some of the best speakers in Europe. Yes there are other networks, but ours is the most powerful motivator and supporter of success in Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. Our business women, venues and speakers tell us that this is true, I can’t wait to help you too.
1. Know why you are exhibiting. Yes you want people to buy from you, but what else? Signing up to your newsletter? Getting to know you on social media? What actions do you want people to take? And don’t assume anything, if you want people to connect with you on social media, have a clear poster that gives a QR code and says “Use this QR code to keep in touch. (You can create your own QR codes easily, just Google it);
2. Exhibiting is just that, a chance to create a shop front that enables people to see how you can help them. The full scope of what you do. Think about what are the assumptions that are made about what you do and ask yourself do we address them on our stand? Do we answer the “No’s” that people have? (A top tip here that by knowing and understanding the “No’s” that stop a sale, you can get them into your marketing to break down the No’s. Cool right?)
3. What are the big goals? Okay so you get them to sign up to get to know you on social media, they want to know more and sign up to your newsletter and email campaigns but what would the ultimate goals be? If you sell something what would the follow up purchase be? What else or how often do you want them to buy? Do you tell people about these opportunities when you exhibit?
4. Tell everyone! Okay so with The BWN you know we go out of our way to promote the fact that you are at our events, however it is not an assumption you can take the risk on taking. What warm leads do you have that you would love the chance to tell them more about what you do? What connections do you have that could also benefit from this event? By spreading the word this can help your event success in a number of ways; firstly you get to spread the word on the event to increase the foot fall, secondly you get the chance to remind people why you and how you invest in your business and the professionalism of your company and thirdly think how much the event organisers will love you for spreading the word. The next top tips share how to do this!
5. Share the link to the event you are exhibiting at on your social media. Include the organisers social media (ours is @BWNcouk in case you were wondering!) so that they too can spread the word on you, promote the event and raise yours and the events profile. The more people that know about the event, the more people know about you and your business.
6. Tell people in your next newsletter or email campaign. Writing a blog article? Add in there something like “If you would like to learn more I will be offering taster sessions/bringing this fabulous product to this event, and it would be great to see you there. Include a link. Remember marketing is about making it easy for people to get involved.
7. If you are networking, add it to your 60 seconds promo slot. The more people you can get to your stand to see what you do and how you help people, the better.
8. What do your guests get? So a freebie chocolate, free pen, pad or entry into a raffle may get you a smile out of a delegate, however if there are 20+ exhibitors in the room will you be remembered in a weeks time? What can you do to ensure people stay in touch? What about saying thank you or “Hi” on the coordinators social media. Getting in touch after the event. Remember to be consistent, relevant and non salesly. If you have attended an event its highly likely many will automatically have added your details to their data base. The epitome of salesly, no respect for your time attitude that can seriously risk your ability to create and nurture a new relationship that will enable business to happen, so what would work?
9. Think about the delegates event experience. By the time they get to your stand, they’ve been asked maybe 20 times “What do you do?” “What do you think of the event?” “Do you use X?” How can your stand have an impact? How can you ensure people walk away from your stand smiling and thinking “That was good!” rather than here we go again!
10. Don’t stand behind your stand. One of reasons you are exhibiting is so you can expand on the business card and 60 second promo slot so that people want to buy from you. To do that you want to build relationships either with people that don’ know you or who know you a little. A table is basically a physical barrier between you and the delegate. It can send a sub-conscious message to the brain that says you are unapproachable. When The BWN exhibit, we put the chairs to one side of our stand and encourage delegates to take a seat. Most women are in heels and guess how popular we are when we encourage people to have a seat and tell us about their business and how we may be able to help? By being on your delegates agenda and finding out how you can help them, you can really start a great relationship. And exhibiting is about creating a shop front that people want to stick around and learn more about and then buy. So from today to the event, make the journey into a sale a fun, enjoyable (and easy to achieve) one!
We hope you find these top tips helpful. There are lots more resources on our website under blog and reports and our founder Mandie Holgate‘s Website, who will be selling her books. Ooo did you see what we did there!
See you at Our Big Christmas Events this December!
This week I’ve been at the hands of 2 businesses getting their words very wrong, and because of their words it has directly impacted on my view of their organisations. Think that’s no big deal?
Which in hard facts translates that I’m unlikely to buy from them in the future.
First example is Booking.com (sorry no hiding the names to protect the innocent here because in my view they are not!) I booked a short break for me and my family and when the confirmation came through we went ahead and booked ferries, kennels, etc. Well the bottom of the email did say this:
2 days later we received an email pretty much saying “sorry we double booked you, here is a hotel nowhere near where you want to be, offering you none of the facilities that you were looking for.”
I thus spend a couple of hours on the phone, emailing etc trying to rectify this error. In their favour the 2 super people I spoke to at Booking.com were…well…..super and really apologetic, but that hardly puts me back in my French fishing village paradise within strolling distance of the restaurants does it?
And although it’s all sorted out now, what feelings do I have about Booking.com?
Don’t dismiss feelings as a girly thing to say when it comes to sales, the fact is we buy with our emotions, and Booking.com have created lots of unpleasant ones for me, before I’ve even locked my front door and said goodbye to my dog!
Booking.com you don’t sell hotels and holidays you sell memories that I will treasure (as will my kids, hubby and parents) for the rest of our lives.
Clarice House – I have a voucher for a Germaine De Capuccini Facial, the paper work came through to confirm mine and my Mums upcoming pampering, only for the description to have changed to “Express”. On phoning them I was informed “all facials unless otherwise stated are 25 mins long” hardly that pampering, relaxing hour I was anticipating. Okay so I assumed (and we all know the dangers of THAT word!) that it meant a full hour facial, but then Clarice House hardly did anything to help me assume otherwise did they?
The fact is as a consumer before I’ve even walked through their doors expecting relaxation, stress free girly time with my Mum, with good food and a day of sheer bliss – there’s that little bit of a nasty taste in my mouth, like I’ve been duped. And how does that make you feel?
Ready to go back and buy again?
Desperate to book another spa day before I’ve even walked out the door?
A business that forgets that a consumer buys with emotions forgets at their peril. Good businesses aren’t just about the sale today they are about the sale tomorrow, next week, next year. Loyal customers, don’t just comeback they tell everyone they know – why your products beat everyone else’s. So when you read your business literature how is it making people feel? And can you deliver what you say you can?
The moral of this business story is – chose your words carefully and ensure you create the right emotions in your customers, everyday – even when they are not ready to buy!
As the title asked, seriously are you in love with your website?
Unfortunately the question is not if you are in love with your website but are your customers?
And more importantly, your potential customers.
Many of you already know that it takes about 3 seconds to work out if the website you are on is going to be useful so what are you doing to ensure visitors fall in love at first site?
Is it interactive? (Blogs, ideas, newsletter sign up, questionaires, reports, eBooks – can people easily learn more without having to talk directly to you – remember people want to buy when they are ready.)
Is it automatically interactive? (You need to be off earning the money, and that can’t happen if you are constantly replying to people – autoresponders will be a godsend.)
Can they get free stuff from you? (Getting known as the thought leader in your field is an ideal way of ensuring that when people are ready to buy its you they buy from.)
Are your contact details easily found? (You will be surprised by how lazy we all can be, and how easily we get turned off of the idea of picking up the phone or getting in touch.)
Is your social media links easy to access? (And tempting enough.)
Is your website too wordy? (Something that is too wordy will numb the pants off of your audience – sorry I never did go to subtle school, but short punchy relevant sentences are key – think inside your favourite customers head, what were they saying to you before you saved the day? They are the words you need to be using.)
If you have products and services are they even best served by words – many bypass Google altogether to get their answers, heading straight to YouTube and as fabulously corporate as it is to have a £1000 professional video, capturing your passion, energy and talent on film is a great way to bring you into someones office or home. Remember when surfing the net not everyone wants to read a ton of words – images and video are key.
And lastly if you don’t know the answer to these – ask your potential customers – What do you think of my website? Remember if you don’t ask you don’t get, so asking what people think is the key to knowledge and the key to finding out what & how people will fall in love with your website……and that leads to falling in love with you and all that you do and that leads to sales – Love it!
(This blog came out of my thoughts after 2 coaching sessions with clients this week and as I prepare for The Marketing Business Clinic this morning – hope you find it useful – for more ideas feel free to get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org 07989935556 – because I just love hearing from you!)
In various meetings, seminars and sessions with clients this week. A word has cropped up time and time again…..
But what is the big deal?
Why are we all using this word?
I found myself thinking about this, and I think this has something to do with it.
We have been through a time where clever marketing got us to buy things, then marketing got cleverer and still we bought things. Now as we are told the world is ending, banks are collapsing (mmmm who was it that announced over a billion £ profit this week in the banking world?) countries economies are toppling, the air is polluted…..”Run for the hills, we’re all gonna die” well you get the idea.
The fact is in the current nervous climate we want things transparent. We don’t want to be sold at. We want the facts.
What will it do?
How will it do that?
Will it make a big difference to my life, my business, my hair, my health……?
And so transparency becomes so important to us.
How many times has someone phoned you and rattled on about a million things, not cutting to the chase of what they want, what they want you to do, and how and when they want it to happen?
Wouldn’t it be great if people were more honest?
Wouldn’t it be great if there was no hidden agenda?
I think that is why honest marketing, clear talking and transparent ideas and actions are the order of the day.
And if you can get that into your marketing, your business ethos and the way you engage with people, they are far more likely to interact with you. And we all know where that can lead don’t we.
They want the real you, they want to know that the people they chose to work with care and will do their best, and the best way to show that is with transparency.
And a point to remember is, if you come up against people and businesses that are not prepared to be transparent then, you start to question what are you hiding? What aren’t you telling me?
When people feel like they have the whole picture, with no hidden agendas they relax, they get to like you and your products and that is taking you well on the way to a sale.
So get clear, transparent, see through, honest and straight talking in your business today.
(And a little note on the collapse of the universe – its highly likely business women like you and I will still get up tomorrow, get ready for work, make a difference to the people we work with and drink another cuppa – don’t buy into the media madness – its just a thought, but I know how powerful they can be!)
Mandie Holgate shared this with us, our Essex coordinator, if you are a coordinator for The BWN or have the Business Premier Pack and you have something useful or interesting to share with business women send it to email@example.com and we will link it to your website too.
Yesterday because our children had deserted us for a day of kites flying and eating E-numbers with grandparents my husband suggested a leisurely stroll around the shops. As we walked through a rather glittery department store (don’t you just love those? I feel they are like toy shops for women!) We walked through the cosmetic department.
That morning Hubby had watched me scrape the sides of my moisturiser and so as we strolled through he said “Why don’t you buy some products?”
What a stupid thing to say to a woman amongst so so so many pretty bottles.
I spent an hour walking around each counter, being introduced to all manner of products and it got me thinking.
When we chose to buy, what is it that makes us buy?
What is the thing that tips in one companies favour over another’s?
Well yesterday sums it up nicely.
You see, there was not going to be a single product in that store that would not brighten, reduce wrinkles or make your skin glow. Every product would promise things like that.
So how then do you decide which is best?
You could look at price – but a) hubby was intent on spoiling me (and who was I to argue!) and b)I wanted products that were right for me – price was secondary – and that dear readers is true of most people, with most purchases.
So price is ruled out, they all claim to do amazing things to make me look like a sprightly teen. So now what?
I chose on this.
As I walked from counter to counter. 3 people had stood out at 3 counters of gorgeous glossy bottles.
Woman 1 because every time I went to ask her a question she went into her spiel and wouldn’t allow me to finish. How many of you know someone that in their marketing concentrates on what THEY want to tell potential clients as opposed to what the potential client ACTUALLY WANTS to know?
Woman 2 because she was insistent that I love the cute bottles and the fact that their products were the best. Everyone on the planet thinks their product is better than their competitor (otherwise why be in business?) But the fact is that is not what matters to the customer, so stop bleating on to me about how amazing you are, people like to work that out for themselves. Otherwise they fight it and run away – which is exactly what I did – note here – these products were actually the cheapest, but I was completely turned off by the experience. I was on her agenda not mine. mmmm another analogy about marketing me thinks.
Lastly Woman 3 – I even remember her name, Lauren. Lauren listened to what I wanted. Lauren answered my questions directly. Lauren engaged with me. Lauren did not try and tell me I had to clear an hour in the morning to clean my face and moisturise. She LISTENED to the fact I had 10 minutes before I legged it to 412 other jobs (a lesson Woman 1 could well do with learning!) And on top of Lauren’s genuine interest in supplying what I the customer needed. Lauren had beautiful skin. (Woman 1 and 2’s makeup and skin were nowhere near as naturally immaculate as Lauren’s)
The fact is Lauren ticked all the boxes to make the sale;
She listened to what the customer wanted.
She answered the questions that the customer wanted answering.
She matched the needs of the customer with their products.
She acted like she cared about the customer.
But most importantly she gave the customer a really pleasurable experience that I will remember and I WILL go back – now who would like customers that automatically come back?
And lastly she was congruent to everything she said, and this gave her credibility.
Mmmmm amazing what a cosmetic counter can tell you about marketing.