Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Today is a big day for the Local Business Card.
The website has gone live. We have tested it and made changes over the last few days and there are more to come but take a look and get a feel of the Beta version.
You can join as a merchant and add in offers. And you aren't confined to just one. We want to site to be dynamic and work for both Merchants and cardholders. After all there is no point in having a card if you can't use it: and it's not worth going to the trouble of putting up offers if nobody comes to you as a potential customer.
The first newsletter will go out when we have had some response. So watch out.
Sign up and you can cancel anytime in the first 3 months but I am confident you will save much more than your initial card fee. And it's free to be either a cardholder or merchant if you are a Local Business Forum member, or join. So join now and take advantage of the many associated benefits. There should be a link page in place within a day or so .
The Local Business Card is a great marketing tool, so if you run a business come on board right now and take advantage of the low low fees. These will be held if you sign up now but newcomers after September may see an increase. And, of course, it's a really powerful monitoring tool because you can see instantly if a new customer came in because of your offer or widow sticker.
You may wish to know that we'll be working really hard to promote the Local Business Card because we have a real believe in keeping trade local and helping local trade.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Sounds simple but don't be fooled. Most businesses are winging it all the time. They might think they are working to a plan, and might actually have written one but in fact they are dictated by either external forces or a whim.
So what do you need to do to write an effective plan that will work for you?
Well! It doesn't have to be long and complicated. It doesn't have to be the sort of document that many people write to impress their bank manager or to get funding. In the main these marketing plans are crap. They are too cumbersome to follow and update. They are too rigid.
Here's what I have found works.
You'll need 3 A4 sheets.
One is your 5 year plan.The second your annual planThe third is the most important and is your "here and now" plan
None are written in stone. All are living documents to reflect what you want to achieve and how. All need to be brief and mainly bullet points. So lets look at each in turn.
5 Year Plan
Head this up and draw a line down the sheet.On the left side put your basic and most important goals and be specific, so for example you may want to employ 5 more people within the period, triple your turnover based on an existing and accurate figure, employ a sales-person to increase sales or a manager to free up your time. Then put how you'll achieve these goals. If you have put down employ 5 people what steps will you have to take, what will they do and how will that impact on, for example, your time, premises, profitability. Triple sales then how will you achieve this? What marketing tools will you employ? Can you cope with that with your current work-force, financial situation, premises etc.So this document will keep you thinking.
This should reflect what you've written in your 5 year plan and how you will get started. Prepare an A4 sheet as before with a line down it.If you've written down that you'll triple your turnover in 5 years what are the basic steps you need to take to achieve in the first year? Remember that if you just increase by 30% each year for 5 years that's just under 350%, and in excess of your target. 30% may seem a lot but it isn't when you begin to look closely as I'll show you in a future article.So now you've written down your annual plan to achieve the first leg.
Here & Now Plan
So do the same again and prepare a single sheet of A4 paper.What do you have to do right now, this week? Write down the 3 most important marketing jobs that will bring in sales, that will raise your business profile, that will help you reach your goals.Stick this sheet up in a prominent place where you can see it and put the other 2 sheets in an A4 ring binder. You can add in information, put in your "here and now" sheets and see how you are progressing.
As you follow your plan you'll feel a sense of satisfaction. You'll feel less stresses. You'll meet your goals.
Of course there'll be problems cropping up but you'll find these can be dealt with on a day to day basis and you still have time to work on your plan. I know that if you do this for just 1 month you'll get into a new habit. And once you've formed a new habit it'll be difficult to kick it.
Go on give it a try and succeed.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Before I recap here's a cautionary tale. Wanting to cut some costs I decided to move one of my phone lines to another service provider: and as I have free broadband dwon a BT line that is whom I changed to. So I cancelled and ordered. So far so good.
Then I needed to inform the broadband company of the change. "No! We can't do anything until the number is active and then it'll take up to 10 working days" So I am without one number that most people use - ad I hope they all know my mobile 07976 364681. And I'm almost out of internet contact. Luckily I've borrowed a mobile internet dongle so I'm partially up and running. Planning doesn't help. Low tech lets us down every time - human intervention. On the other hand when you find someone who give great customer service then your problems are solved or at least diminished and you come away feeling better. The morals of the story are firstly plan your move carefully, don't expect anything to go to that plan, check to see if any element isn't right, be persistent in getting it put right, respect good customer care staff.
We has a Uni-Bus meeting at Swansea University on 20th May and the two speakers talked about available funding for business either through the flexible funding scheme or university channels. It was a great meeting. Click here for the website
And now I'll move on to the Local Business Card. This is a privilege card focussing on business but that will benefit card-holders in all aspects of their life. The card was originally created for members of the Local Business Forum so that they'd benefit from each others services but it has become something bigger and better. It's a priviledge card that is available to anyone for a small fee. It will give the holder discounts and other incentives from a wide range of businesses ranging from car rental, through having a meal out, web design, accountants, signage and chauffeur services, and much much more. The card is a small plastic keyfob so you'll always have it with you, suppliers will have an easily recognisesable window sticker or web logo and there will be a regular newsletter and special offer broadcasts. It is the card to carry. And the huge benefit to suppliers will be the advertising and getting their message out through the website and newsletters. To become a founder supplier is easy and costs less than £1 a week. How is that for value? The card will give suppliers a great marketing tool that will help them through these difficult times: and we are all looking to save or get better value where we can.
From a germ of an idea this will spread rapidly because it's a simple low-cost concept that'll really benefit everyone involved. Want to be in at the beginning? Apply online in a few days, watch out for the completed website. Or just drop an e-mail now and you'll get an information pack by return. Watch out for window stickers appearing in shop windows near you.
Friday, June 05, 2009
I've set myself a task now to produce these shorts. I hope you are enjoying them and that you learn something.
In the 50's life for us kids was easy. You just can't believe what it was like in comparison to today. At around 8 years old 3 or 4 of us would go off for the day. I guess that my mother used to worry about what I was getting up to but she never said anything.
We lived in Birmingham and it was unusual to lock the doors and usual to leave windows open if we went out together. Compare that to today. Today you have to bolt most things down.
But getting back to communications and the changes it is difficult to imagine that once you were out of signt that was it until you came home again. And it was usual to phone in at work to see if there were any messages. And when we did get a message we dealt with it straight away. Do you deal with your messages within a set time? I was with an accountant last evening looking at his marketing. On his card and other literature he promised to call back on any missed calls within 3 hours. Now that is good.
Hope you enjoy this short video. Your comments will be appreciated.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
We talk to each other but do we listen? We have highly sophisticated technology and can send a message around the world instantly - or as near impossible to know otherwise. But we often can't get our message across to some-one sitting next to us.
And then there is the question of can we keep up with the latest. Facebook, Twitter and much much more. Some of us not only can't keep up but don't know most of it exists.
I can remember when we had the first phone in the road we lived in back in 1949 and I can still recall the number Priory 2082. How things have changed. Come on a short journey with me over the next few days.
Follow me on http://twitter.com/mike_leahy
If I can help your increase your profits contact me.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Bad service will ruin any business or a least stunt it's growth.
I heard of someone who wanted their motor-bike serviced. "No problem!" said the service guy.
"And can you service my 25 year old bike too?" "No" said the mechanic "it's too old and we may not be able to get the parts"
So the garage lost all the business. Now I'm not a biker but I understand the maintenace cost over 3 years could be as high as £5000. So that doesn't seem like a great idea saying "No".
What do you think? Have you had any similar experiences?
Monday, June 01, 2009
The Show was a success and with the internet maybe it's time to be innovative. How about a virtual business show? Perhaps the name "Swansea Bay Business Show" might just be different enough. Maybe I should think about getting the domain name later this month.
When the sun shines prospects tend to say "Yes" sooner. It is easy to start getting those positive responses when you are asking questions. You can bring home the bacon.
But life can still be tedious. I've had two poor customer experiences within a week. And both have finished up with me not wanting to go back to either supplier. The first happened with business over the bridge, whilst the second centred around Pembrokeshire. The first instance was where the supplier felt I had cheated him out of giving a sales presentation despite making it very clear in the preamble that this wasn't possible. He even went as far as to twist my written words! This guy has lost any creditability I had in him or his product.The second was where I was supplied with a wrong part and when I complained the supplier called me back and told me that life is like that and should put up with what he considered good service. His attitude has turned me away from his company. In addition the correct part was marked with my nmae, but they spelt it wrong. Personally I don't mind but in general getting someone's name wrong is a major sales crime.
The downside is that I will not use either again and I will probably tell other people about my dissatisfaction. This will lose even more business because I believe that the people I tell will listen and make up their own minds.
Then I was talking to a friend who had his company BMW car serviced. He drove into the Service Reception area and was met by a Greeter who welcomed him by name and directed him to the specific bay for collection by the Service Crew. He was offered a coffee both when arriving and when he collected the car. When he picked it up it had been valeted both inside and out. The service charge was high but my friend was left feeling good about the whole experience.
So the upstart is that service is paramount and that the customer is king - or at least he should be treated like one, no matter how we feel. Listening to the customer is vital and going out of your way to make him happy by providing exceptional service is the way to keep a customer coming back and acting as an ambassador for you. The most cost effective customers are existing ones and those who have had a testimonial from a happy customer.
Think back about the best customer experience you've had. It was either because something was put right beyond your expectations or the service was just fabulous.
Remember get the basics right and see an improvement in turnover, profit and cash flow.
The Local Business Forum's new blog starts this week http://localbusinessforum.blogspot.com/ Get involved. There are good things happening that will have a major impact on the members.
If I can do anything to help with your success do call me.