Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Tasty Option

I am constantly finding new and interesting ways to use the web. OK, so maybe I am late to the party on many of them. But I still think there are some simple things that the web does so much better than anything else.

Map directions, for one. Looking up zip codes. And now, making restaurant reservations.

I recently stumbled across OpenTable, a really cool site that let's you find a restaurant and make a reservation without having to look up a phone number, get put on hold for ten minutes, then speak to a bored host or hostess who will probably get your name wrong and write down the wrong time or date.

Give OpenTable a try next time you are planning a dinner out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Succeeding in the Long Run

I am training for a marathon (again). I have run several marathons in the past, but each one is a new challenge. This one is the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, at the end of October.

Why am I writing about it now? Because I am about to begin a 16 week training program that includes progressively longer runs and additional workouts to build my strength and endurance. It starts with a simple, easy 4 mile run and concludes with the 26.2 mile marathon.

Notice that I will not start out by running 20 miles right away. That would be foolish, as I am unprepared at this time to handle such a long run. Instead, I will gradually build up to longer distances and faster paces over 16 weeks.

There is a marketing lesson here. Do you find yourself thinking (or even saying out loud), "We need a huge sale right now." Or, "We'd better sign a big new client this month or else!"

While it is great to have lofty goals and big objectives, you can't knock them down right out of the box. Marketing is like marathon running. You need to take the smaller steps first so that you will be able to tackle the big run at the right time.

Just as my series of shorter runs performed consistently over several months will prepare me for 26.2 miles in October, your marketing effort must consist of interim objectives and smaller successes on the road to "the big one."

Strangely enough, you might find that all the "little wins" add up quickly and can even be more satisfying than completing one big sale or capturing a single large client.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Giving Away the Store

For many years I have encouraged my clients to "share your knowledge" as an effective form of marketing. Tell people what you know - demonstrate your expertise - and they will be more likely to remember you when they need your services or products.

That approach to marketing is more prevalent and more effective than ever, thanks in large part to the explosion of more direct channels of distribution. Years ago the "sharing" was done on a limited basis, through articles that we managed to get published, white papers and newsletters. Now my clients share what they know through blogs, on Facebook, with self-published e-books, via e-mail blasts - there are ten times as many options today.

Still, some are still reluctant to "give away the store" by providing too much information for free. They are afraid that, by anticipating and answering questions and offering problem-solving solutions, they will obviate the need for a prospective client to hire them.

Nonsense! Sharing what you know is simply proof of expertise in advance. It allows a potential customer a glimpse into how you think, and what your area (or areas) of expertise might be. Consider this "show and tell" as an audition that could lead to a starring role.