You’ve no doubt already heard a great deal about artificial intelligence (AI), some of it positive, but much of it designed to stoke fear. Sure, we should be concerned about AI being misused, and growing into something we don’t fully understand, and can’t control, but that’s not something I’m going to cover in this short article. I’m going to focus on how to make use of AI in your business and make you more productive, particularly by using ChatGPI, which at the time of posting this article, is free to use.
So, ChatGPT can be used to improve productivity and potentially increase income. Here are some recommendations on how to leverage ChatGPT for this purpose:
Improve time management and planning: ChatGPT can assist you in optimizing your time and creating effective schedules. You can ask for advice on time management techniques, productivity tools, or strategies to prioritize tasks. ChatGPT can provide suggestions tailored to your specific needs and help you make the most of your available time.
Decision making: When faced with important decisions related to your work or business, you can use ChatGPT as a tool to brainstorm ideas, evaluate options, and explore different perspectives. Describe your situation or provide relevant details, and ChatGPT can offer insights, pros and cons, or alternative approaches to consider. However, remember to critically evaluate the responses and use your own judgment.
Skill development: ChatGPT can be a valuable resource for learning and acquiring new skills. You can seek recommendations for online courses, books, or tutorials in areas that can enhance your professional expertise or improve your business operations. ChatGPT can provide suggestions based on your interests, goals, and the specific skills you wish to develop.
Problem-solving: If you encounter challenges or obstacles in your work or business, ChatGPT can help you brainstorm solutions or provide different perspectives on how to overcome them. Explain the problem you’re facing and ask for advice or potential strategies. While ChatGPT can offer suggestions, remember to exercise critical thinking and adapt the recommendations to your unique situation.
Industry insights and trends: Stay up to date with the latest industry insights and trends by asking ChatGPT about relevant news, market research, or emerging technologies in your field. Understanding the current landscape can help you make informed decisions, identify opportunities, and stay ahead of the curve.
Networking and collaboration: ChatGPT can suggest networking strategies, platforms, or industry events that can expand your professional connections. You can also seek advice on collaboration opportunities or finding potential partners or clients. Remember to combine ChatGPT’s suggestions with your own research and judgment.
Personal finance and investment: If you have questions about personal finance, investment strategies, or managing your income, ChatGPT can offer general information and principles to consider. However, keep in mind that ChatGPT does not have real-time financial data and its responses may not be tailored to your specific financial situation. Consult with financial professionals for personalized advice.
Remember that while ChatGPT can provide useful insights and suggestions, it is always important to exercise critical thinking, validate information independently, and make informed decisions based on your unique circumstances. ChatGPT should be seen as a tool to augment your own judgment and expertise, rather than a substitute for it.
One way of increasing the likelihood you’ll take some desired action, is the ability to look at a goal, plan or task in a different, more inspiring way.
If it doesn’t provide a big enough reason for you to take action, you most certainly won’t take it.
Human beings get stuck in persistent patterns of thinking that frame the subjects of those thoughts in a certain way, and moving beyond these frames of reference can be very difficult if left unchallenged.
For individuals, such thoughts often centre around self-doubt. Self talk may go along the lines of “I can’t do [blank]”,” I don’t have the necessary experience, skill-set, knowledge, resources, etc”.
Businesses can also display this negative thinking; “we can’t compete with [blank]”, “we can’t compete on price” etc.
So what is the consequence of thinking like this? Well, we don’t take action, we don’t even try it, we just talk ourselves out of it and move on.
Maybe this is the right thing to do, maybe thinking abstractly against it is better than ploughing time, effort and resources into a doomed endeavour, maybe, but maybe not.
If we’re not careful, this way of thinking becomes a coping strategy that lets us off the hook and allows us to not take action in an act of self preservation. They become coping excuses.
A more productive way of thinking about it may be in asking “what if”. What if we did this, and what is the possible upside?
“What if” is a creative question. It opens up possibilities, rather than shutting them down. What if we could reframe the way we think about our weaknesses, and recast them as strengths?
In 1962 advertising executive Paula Green came up with a now famous slogan for Avis car rentals, that took advantage of their weaker market position in relation to Hertz, repositioning it from a weakness into a strength. The slogan “we try harder” let prospective customers know Avis would be more attentive to their needs than Hertz would be.
Stella Artois did something similar with their “reassuringly expensive” advertising campaign in 2004.
It’s all about finding a more empowering story that reframes your perceived weakness into strengths, for your own benefit, and also from a marketing point of view.
Here are a few examples:
Smaller size; being smaller allows you to be more nimble and adaptable than big players
Less experienced; don’t have as much skin in the game, nothing to lose by doing things differently and disrupting the status quo
Less prestigious location; can provide better value for money because not paying as much in rental costs.
Successful branding is about controlling the perception of your business/ brand in the mind of prospects and customers alike. It’s made up of …
The impression people have of your business is going to heavily influence whether they are going to consider buying from you or not.
Being perceived as credible, likable and trustworthy, is particularly important with regards to people who have had little or no previous experience of your business/ brand.
Perception is a dance between impression and reputation. As people get to know more about your brand/ business, reputation becomes more influential, but even then, people’s impressions can still be altered through ongoing interactions. In the same way you can go off people, you can certainly go off brands and businesses depending on new information. There is no such things unconditional love, with regards to branding. However people tend to be more forgiving of bad experiences, or bad publicity if they have previously built up positive history with you.
Your reputation is about what people say about you when you’re not there.
Always be looking to strengthen your reputation through all customer touch points for new and returning prospects, and customers. Reputation is spread through word of mouth and technology that performs in the same way as word of mouth. If you have a bad reputation, you need to take a serious look at what is going wrong, having a strong brand with a bad reputation is the worst place possible to be.
Remember this point; If you’re not strengthening your brand, you’re weakening it, there is no middle ground here, so ensure you’re strengthening it at every opportunity.
Throughout the customer journey, there are a number of touch points they are exposed to your business/ brand in some way. You should look very carefully at each of these points and consider how they impact your reputation, and influence impressions of your business/ brand.
Some possible touch points might include..
Social media channels
What are you posting about?
What value are you adding to prospects and customers?
Are you constantly trying to sell or are you adding value in other ways? Consider Gary Vaynerchuk’s jab, jab, jab, right hook principle, otherwise known as build brand, build brand, build brand, push offer.
Are you’re communications giving the impression you want them to give, through the imagery, copy and other media?
Are they driving your brand promise home?
Search engine listings & website
If your customers are searching on search engines for the solutions that you provide, you must make sure you can be found there, either through SEO, or PPC.
What pages are you being found through?
Are people finding your page, but not clicking on your link? If not clicking on your link, why not? Are you not giving them a reason to click?
Are you communicating the right messages on those pages, once they click through?
Are these pages helping to build your brand, through the copy, images and other media?
Are you demonstrating enough social proof through reviews and testimonials, case studies and the likes.
Premises and signage
Is your premises and signage giving the right impression of your business/ brand?
Is it all ON BRAND?
Your people and value delivery
Your people include your Customer service reps, Receptionists, Employees, Leaders, and sales people. Your brand promise is not just something you just say, it’s something you live from and in. All beliefs and values, and the subsequent behaviours that come from them, should be aligned to drive you brand promise forward. Branding starts within your business and is then communicated out through what and how you do the things you do to bring value to the market.
At the end of it all, you are trying to control the OPINIONS of your prospects and customers, and indeed, everyone else that comes across your business/ brand.
They have to KNOW, LIKE and TRUST your business/ brand.
To KNOW you
They can only know you, if they see you, so been visible. Share your story with them, let them see you in action with behind the scenes content or a 247 like backstory. Be as personable as possible, don’t hide behind a corporation persona, because people prefer to buy from people.
To LIKE you
Think about the people you like and why; generally people are attracted to people who are like them. People who they feel they are on the same side as, and have things in common with. We learn this through interaction, and sharing, so your business/ brand needs to do the same kinds of things, by sharing and caring.
To TRUST you
To build trust, you must be AUTHENTIC, TRANSPARENT, CONSISTENT and GENUINELY want to look out for best interests of your customers.
Without these, people will see through you and your intentions.
It’s vital you control the narrative and story around your business and brand. Make sure the reception of your message is as intended, during the transmission of it. Otherwise you might mistakenly misread what people think about your business /brand, so keep communication channels open both ways, to ensure you’ve got a good handle on the opinion of the people that matter; your prospects and customers.
Make sure your message is simple to understand and easy to remember, emotionally meaningful from the point of view of prospects and customers, and further strengthens your brand promise.
When it comes to earning a living, there are so many different options, but if you want to be really wealthy, as in having lots of spare dosh, what’s the best way to go about it? For a more in depth guide, check out our wealth guide, here.
We’re keeping the discussion limited to income options in this post, but our wealth guide talks about dealing with expenditure as well.
#1 LINEAR income
This is the option of providing value once, and getting paid once for it. It’s the route the majority of people go down, trading time for money, as in working for a salary, or a fee, if you’re a freelancer. This is considered the least expandable, because there is a limit to the number of hours you can work and the income you can make. Sure you can, if you’re say, a sports star earn incredible income from your work, but it’s still limited to some extent. Many sports stars earn extra income from merchandising or other deals that take advantage of their celebrity.
#2 PASSIVE income
Create or buy assets or provide value once, and get income from it over and over again. This could be achieved from buying stocks and shares, and getting dividend payments year after year, or royalties for say music or art that you own, or licencing of intellectual property that’s yours. If you’re thinking of charging for say a video course, you film it once, and get paid over and over again for it, if it’s considered valuable enough.
Some other examples of recurring income
Property income (rent) or profit made from buying and selling
Marketing activities that attract paying customers
Royalties from intellectual property (art, photos, ideas, writing, music)
Licencing fees (ideas, inventions, IP)
Stocks and shares income
online courses (videos, e-books and email automated)vert
Peer to peer lending
Rent out a room in your house (Airbnb style, or to a student, or lodger)
Lead generation website – supplying leads to local businesses
Online store selling products that can be drop shipped
Youtube videos that are popular and have advert placements on them
Pay Per Click adverts on website
Property renting out advertising space (car, building, fence)
#3 RECURRING income
Recurring income comes about by providing ongoing value or owning assets that you get regular payments for. This would include things like memberships or subscriptions for magazines or websites that you own, or from rent, if you’re a landlord.
#4 LEVERAGED income
Last but not least is leveraged income, which involves making income from other peoples resources, such as their money, time, effort, assets, skills, or popularity. You can do this if you own a business and employ people for instance, you get them to use their skills to make you money. You can also leverage other people’s resources via partnerships or joint ventures.
Other examples of leveraged income include
Owning a franchised business
Network marketing (avoid these)
Being a talent agent
Owning a freelancer service website where you earn a commission
So there you have it, I’ve tried to keep this post as short and concise as possible, hope you got some value out of it.
S.W.O.T. analysis is a great tool for analysing different aspects of your business, particularly the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats.
When considering the THREATS in particular, you shouldn’t fear the things you put under this category, in fact these can often be the opportunities you are looking for to disrupt your business and even your industry and take a great leap forward.
Say to yourself “What would a competitor have to do for me to think, oh shit I’m screwed now!” and instead of waiting for this to happen to you, take the first mover advantage and get on with it yourself.
Every THREAT is, with the right mindset, an OPPORTUNITY in waiting.
I was recently contemplating, what are the most important aspects of running a business. Here in order of importance, is what I have come up with..
1. Add value
Provide something of value that people are willing to pay you for, after all, if you’ve nothing that people want, regardless of how much you might like your offering, it’s a non-starter. Find a solution to a problem, something that scratches an inch, so to speak. Find a need, find a want, and work out a solution to solve it.
Become a good deal maker. Middle men leverage their resources to help both creators and customers. They bridge the gap in such a way as to provide value to other parties.
Win-win situations are the best for sustainability, for customers, suppliers and partners. If you’re not providing some benefit to any of these parties, you’ve got a limited shelf life.
Find gaps in markets. Where are existing solutions falling short?
Use and combine existing solutions to create even more value. My photography business brings together makeup artist and photographer to provide makeover photoshoots. It adds value to the existing propositions of both services.
An effective business person, successfully executes the promised value proposition from sourcing through to production/service to final output.
2. Have the right mindset
Find and maintain motivation so that you take action and follow through.
Believe in what you’re doing or trying to achieve. But always keep number one in this list in mind.
Become self aware. Understand why you do what you do and don’t do what you don’t do.
Initiate momentum. Progress from a standing start into something meaningful. Once you make a start inertia will build and make things easier.
Take responsibility for actions and outcomes. No blaming others and complaining that this or that isn’t working out for you. Develop a can-do attitude.
Be resourcefulness, make use of yours and other people’s resources and make it happen!
Learn to be able to shift perspective. Re-framing how you think about something can often change your performance, because thoughts lead actions. Most of our beliefs are built on shaky ground, built from assumptions and inferences, rather than facts and evidence. I love to use quote graphics as a way of looking at something from fresh perspective.
Be committed to what you’re doing. Burning bridges, means you’re forced to give full commitment to a particular course of action. I’m not particularly advocating this extreme approach, but if you’re forced down one path, you’re likely to find a way, even if the road ahead is a bumpy one.
Develop a strong work ethic. You’ve got to be prepared to put the work in if you’re going to succeed. Sure you can look to make things easier, by working smarter, but the more you’re prepared to put into something, the more you’re likely to get from it.
Embrace change and uncertainty. Change and uncertainty presents uncomfortable risk for many, particularly if they live from hand to mouth or with little margin for error, in terms of indebtedness. From an evolutionary standpoint we’re hard wired to resist situations that present uncertainty, because our ancestors may have mistakenly wandered into the path of a dangerous predator in years gone by, possibly resulting in loss of life. These days, we don’t live with such life threatening consequences if we get things wrong, but we still fear any threat to the status quo, in much the same way.
Always try to overcome fear and inner conflict, because these feelings will inevitably hold us back from making progress. Often the fear is greater than the reality.
Pay attention to your coping strategies. Coping strategies are designed to prevent cognitive dissonance, but often we use them as excuses not to follow through. I call them coping excuses, because we justify to ourselves why we do or don’t do something, even if it’s not really the right thing.
Replace bad habits with good ones. Bad habits are hard to break, and often it’s easier to replace them with good habits.
Stay focused. It’s so easy to get distracted by the new shiny thing, but staying focused and maintaining progress is so important. Know where you’re going and measure progress against this. Be a meaningful specific rather than a wandering generality as Zig Ziglar used to say.
Be organised and work against a plan of action. Having a system to work within makes daily activities routine and habitual, and as a result much more likely to be done efficiently. The more you do things the better you get at them. This advice comes with a caveat though, don’t stifle creativity. Routine and organisation, is a left brain activity, creativity is a right brain activity, and it’s hard to keep switching between the two.
Improve problem solving and decision making. All life is about solving problems and making decisions and the better you can get at these, the more successful you will be.
Utilise IQ, EQ, talent and skill. Play to your strengths, improve and work at making them better, and use them to your advantage. You are uniquely you, so make the most of what you’ve got. We all have something.
Find the best way things can be done, not just the best way you can do them. Be a master of what you know, and an apprentice of what you don’t know. The moment you think you know it all, is the moment you stop listening and learning. Take the scientific approach and look to disprove your hypothesis, rather than falling into the trap of confirmation bias, where you look to confirm what you believe, while ignoring or rejecting anything that runs counter to them.
Find reliable sources of accurate information. Don’t be embarrassed to admit you are still learning. Life has something to teach us every day, even if it’s how not to do something. Always be learning.
Employ experts to help you. Don’t expect to do everything yourself, use the expertise and passions of other people to help your business. Get skilled employees, partners and suppliers to grow your business. Get others to do the things you don’t like to do, this underlines the point I previously highlighted about the importance of improving self awareness.
3. Master the art and science of Marketing and sales
Always be marketing and building your brand.
Think long term over short term.
Build your reputation, and influence what people say about you when you’re not there.
4. Understand your Financials
Financial literacy is essential to business success.
Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity.
Understand the importance of cash flow and the difference between it and profit and why you can go out of business even if you’re making a profit.
Study your profit and loss figures.
Use financial info for decision making.
Remember there are only 2 ways to make more profit, either by selling more goods and services (volume) or by making more profit per £ of sales.
There are only 3 ways to get more sales; by getting more customers, increasing transaction volume or by increase transaction frequency.
Keep costs down. They only rise if more is being spent per £ of sales or sales are increasing therefore increasing costs (volume).
Know lifetime value of customers and use this knowledge to work out your marketing budget.
5. Have direction
Be a meaningful specific rather than a wandering generality as Zig Ziglar used to say.
Have a clear vision and goal to give you a strong sense of direction, otherwise you’ll by like a rudderless boat, being dragged around by the tides of circumstance.
Develop a definite plan of action and strategy, but build in room for flexibility, because sometimes things come along we could never have anticipated, and we shouldn’t reject them because they don’t fall perfectly in line with what we were intending to do. Just be wary we’re not being pulled unnecessarily and unproductively off course with no benefit.
Work on the business not in it. Don’t lose yourself in the day to day stuff, you’ve got to keep one eye on the big picture at all times.
Be ahead of the demand curve not behind it. Otherwise you’ll have to work harder to maintain income, because of the downward pressure on prices later in products life cycle.
6. Future-proof yourself
Disrupt your own business model before others do. Technological advancement is so rapid these days, you’ve got to keep an eye out for major shifts in your industry. The music and film industries have endured major industry shifts over recent years, and they won’t be the last to do so.
Innovate. Always be look to be better, faster, be more convenient, provide better quality, and add more functionality to the value you provide.
Demand continuous improvement, from yourself and your team.
Consider multiple income streams to hedge and spread risk. Having your eggs in one basket is a dangerous game to play in such a fast moving and changing environment.
If you’re not progressing you’re falling behind, so drop the idea of maintaining the non-existent status quo.
Always be doing SWOT analysis. SWOT which stands for strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats is a great tool for analysing your business. If you pay particular attention to the threats your business faces, you have a chance to turn these into opportunities, and disrupt your competitors.
Use cost benefit analysis to weigh options.
Use Decision matrix when considering options, so that you fully analyse all the variables and attributes in play.
7. Be a good Leader
Lead your team.
Use a carrot over stick approach.
Sell your vision to your employees. Get them enthused by your passion.
Encourage contributions from employees. Two minds or more are often better than one. They give you an opportunity to see things from a different perspective, from someone with different life and work experiences than yourself, and this can only be a good thing to tap into.
So there you have it, hope you get some value from this post, please share with anyone you think will benefit from reading it.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person, by putting yourself mentally and emotionally in their situation. You might not associate this trait with entrepreneurs, salespeople and marketers, but it is one of the most important skills these professionals should possess. Why? Because if they can mentally and emotionally understand how their prospective customer is feeling and what they are thinking, they can align their sales message in such a way as to connect with them.
Empathising shouldn’t be about manipulating, or taking advantage of your prospects, which are self serving descriptions of the process, it should be about putting yourself in the best position to help them solve their problem, answer their questions, squash their fears, and objections and add value to their lives in some way.
The empathises moves from what’s best for you, to what’s best for them. It’s about serving your customers, not taking advantage and disrespecting them. If your intent to serve and add value is pure, your results will inevitably reflect this positive approach.
Obviously you’re in business to make a profit, you’re not doing it for nothing, but that doesn’t mean you should be gaming the system, looking for short term gains at the expense of your long term, brand equity.
Don’t fake sincerity
People will see through fake, insincere people and will be less likely to want to do business with you now and in the future, they will be unlikely to recommend you to their friends or colleagues. It will make future business more challenging.
Being empathetic also helps you understand what’s driving behaviour, you will be more inclined to see future trends before none empathetic competitors.
An important part of empathy is curiosity, wanting to find out more about customers, their likes, dislikes, where they hang out, and why. The “why” is the most important part of the jigsaw. It allows you to better predict future behaviour if you know your customers “why”.
It’s a good idea to think about your own habits and behaviours, why you do what you do, and why you don’t do what you don’t do. I would recommend improving your own self awareness before trying to understand other people. It will provide insight and experience for you, developing your empathetic side is like exercising a muscle, the more you do it, the stronger it will become. When you do it enough, you will find it becomes habit and your default disposition, and you won’t have to force yourself to think that way.
When you’re being curious about prospects you’re going to have to do some research, find out where they hang out and try to engage with them in social spaces, join groups they are part of, get involved in online groups and discussion boards where they are likely to be found. You’re looking for any opportunity where you can engage in conversation with them.
Ask intelligent questions
When you get involved in discussions, make sure you ask intelligent questions that illicit responses that provide some insight that can used to help you better understand their point of view and perspective.
Listen, really listen
Another vital ingredient of being empathetic, is being a good listener. Be curious in the first instance by finding as much out about your customers, and asking questions, but then you have to listen, really listen to what they tell you or to what they’re saying to other people. If you’re busy talking about you and your product, you’re not learning anything about them. Great salespeople are great listeners.
Don’t overstep the mark
Now it’s important to go about this in a socially acceptable way, don’t just start interrogating prospects, like they’re under investigation. You wouldn’t want people creeped out by your line of enquiry, would you. So be smart and be patient. It takes time to do proper research. What you’re looking to do is immerse yourself in their world and understand over time, where they are coming from and their point of view and perspective. Engaging and interacting with them, also helps you build relationships. Remember you’re there to add value to their situation, not exploit and manipulate them. You want to equip yourself with the knowledge to make your solution the best it can be, for them.
Use Empathy in all aspects of life
Empathy is not just a trait you should develop for your business, it’s a really important life skill, that will improve all of your personal relationships. Understanding other people will help unlock the door to why people act the way they do, and offer you some insight into how to best deal with them for the benefit of all.
It’s a skill that needs developing over time, but an essential one if you’re to enjoy deeper personal relationships. Always try to think about what you say and how you act towards other people and how that impacts them. A careless word can really cause upset if said in an abrupt manner. Every interaction you have with other people has an effect on them, try to make it a good one.
One of the first things I learned about, when starting my own business was the principle of adding value. It’s especially important if you’re selling a product as an affiliate. Affiliates don’t actually own the product, someone else does, and it is these creators that are providing the initial value, because the product they’ve created, serves some good, or is of some use to the end user.
As an affiliate marketer you are a middle man, you add value to the creator, whose product you’re selling, by putting it in-front or your audience, an audience the creator might never have been able to reach. The creator than rewards you by paying you a commission.
You also add value to your audience, who you hope will buy from you. You add value for them by making them aware of the product, as they may never have heard of it had it not been for you. However you might be one of many affiliates selling the same product, and who are all offering the same value added aspect. These other affiliates are your competitors, along with the creator of the product. You’re prospective customers can buy the product from any number of sources and get the same result, if they are contacted by them.
So it’s necessary to add as much extra value to the transaction as you can. You should try to stand out from all the other affiliates and even the actual creator of the product in some way. How do you do this? Well it’s about giving something extra that no one else is giving.
The image above illustrates some of the ways you can add value for your audience/ prospective customers. You can tie the value-added-bit into the transaction. So they only get the benefit of it, if they buy the product from you first. You can take a chance and offer something for free with no strings attached prior to the purchase and hope they feel a need to repay you and buy using your affiliate link after the fact. The choice is yours. Testing the two options is a worthwhile consideration.
Think of adding value in a bigger sense
Adding value can be something you do in all aspects of your life, not just business. It can come from simply smiling at someone who is walking past you on the street, or a thoughtful gesture towards a loved one. It can become a “state of being” that you live your life by. I recently tried to adopt this way of living, a value added life. It feels nice to be nice. I’m not saying I was a bad person before, far from it, I’ve always been pleasant and polite to other people, always. I’ve always been happy to go out of my way to help people. But I’ve never thought of such interactions as adding value, but they are.
Now I like to think adding value is also a way of making people feel better. To change their state in some positive way.
If they’re sad, making them feel a little better,
if they’ve lost something, helping them to find it,
if they’re fearful, helping them feel safe,
if they’re worrying, help them feel some peace of mind,
if they’re frustrated, help them feel relief or a sense of accomplishment,
if they’re feeling despair giving them a sense of hope.
Adding value in this way can be done one interaction at a time, on an individual basis, it’s small but it’s important, it’s important to someone..
Helping people over and over again
Adding value as affiliate marketers, with the tools at our disposal means we can help our visitors over and over again with one video tutorial, one insightful article, one honest review and recommendation. Once it’s done it’s there to help people over and over again. So next time you’re writing that review, scribing that case study, crafting that white paper, remember you’re doing it to add value to people’s lives.
Hopefully I’ve made you think a little bit more deeply about the concept of adding value. Let’s make the internet and the wider world a better place to be, by focusing on adding value to every part of it, one bit at a time.
We as humans are constantly driven to avoid pain and as part of that drive we strive to “be” more. Western society has conditioned us to believe the more we “have”, the more we will be. So to that end, we constantly operate in accumulation mode. We love to buy stuff and businesses love to sell us stuff. At the heart of our desire to buy is this simple statement.
“If you believe there’s a BENEFIT in a SOLUTION, and you VALUE that benefit enough, and TRUST the SELLER you’re going to buy it.”
Think about the statement from your perspective, is it right for you, well it’s certainly right for me. So from a selling point of view, if we reverse engineer this and align it from a selling perspective we find the following:
Sellers should provide a SOLUTION that addresses customer problems or wants
Sellers should ensure they communicate a VALUED BENEFIT taken from the customers perspective, with regards to a SOLUTION
Demonstrate you are a TRUSTWORTHY SELLER and able to deliver on your promise
So let’s look at each in a little more detail.
1.Sellers should provide a SOLUTION that addresses customer problems or wants
“SOLUTION” refers to the product or service you are wanting to sell. It should provide a solution to a problem or want that your prospective customer has, if it doesn’t do this than it serves no use.
You can either create a SOLUTION to a problem or want that you personally have, or that you know other people have. Do some further research to establish how wide spread the problem or want is before investing lots of time in developing your SOLUTION.
Alternatively you can create a product or service and see if it provides a SOLUTION to a problem or want afterwards, although this does happen, I wouldn’t recommend it.
2.Sellers should ensure they communicate a VALUED BENEFIT taken from the customers perspective, with regards to a SOLUTION
So when you have a SOLUTION to a known problem or want, the next thing you need to do is market the VALUED BENEFITS of that SOLUTION to prospective customers. Write down all the reasons you think your customer would benefit from using the SOLUTION in order of importance starting with the most important aspects to least important. Now it’s important to be empathetic with your customers situation and point of view, otherwise you won’t get this right. It’s not what you think your customers “should” want or what you “think” is a problem, it’s what “is” a problem, it’s what “is” a want.
I would also list the objections your customers are likely to have and try to put a positive spin on these, because you will inevitably have to address them at some point in the buying process. You might have to work from a best “guess basis” to start but do as much research as possible going forward. The more you know your customers’ the better you can address their actual situations.
3.Demonstrate you are a TRUSTWORTHY SELLER and able to deliver on your promise
If you can’t provide some way of proving you are a TRUSTWORTHY SELLER you are going to have an uphill struggle on your hands, particularly if you’re selling remotely as with a website store.
Genuine reviews and testimonials are a good way of establishing trust, social media presence and positive interaction is another. Having a physical location helps people to know you are a genuine business, rather than a rogue scammer. If you’re new to business, give a sample of your product to people in exchange for some honest reviews and testimonials, just to get you started. Without trust people aren’t going to risk their cash with you.
This is a short post and covers the very basics of selling, but I believe all businesses should be working from a solid base, so it’s an article that needs to be written, because I see so many websites not paying attention to these basic principles.
Gary Vaynerchuk is described as a “thought leader” and “social media guru”, neither of which he particularly likes. He sees himself as a business builder first and foremost having built a $60 million wine business using the internet and subsequently a $100 million social media company. A lot of what Gary says isn’t new but he frames it in a no nonsense, high energy way, that engages business leaders and entrepreneurs alike. His messages cut to the bone, are frank, honest and on point. He builds his personal brand around giving value, so I thought we should include some of his messages for you to take insight from….
Ideas are s**t, execution is the game – we can all come up with ideas, but ideas mean nothing without taking effective action that delivers results. Execution comes down to talent. Not everyone is talented enough to execute effectively. This feeds directly into the next point
Improve Self Awareness -know what you’re good at and not good at. Face the truth and make progress from that perspective. Get help doing the things you can’t do and concentrate on what you are good at.
Bet on your strengths -Double down on them and punt your weaknesses. To be extraordinary, you have to be an anomaly. You ain’t gonna do that if you spend time bringing your weaknesses up-to-speed. You lean towards doing some things over others for a reason. When you’re good at something, it’s usually because you like doing it, and have tended to do it a lot, so it makes sense to keep doing it even more. The opposite is true of the things you don’t like to do. Make your expertise narrow and deep, rather than wide and shallow, stay in your lane, and delegate everything else if you can.
Bring perspective to your business -When the going gets hard, instead of fixating on the negatives, be grateful for what you have and realise things could be much worse. Gary imagines getting a call saying his mother has passed away, he says that although this is a dark thought, it grounds his reality and adds much needed perspective to the situation.
Work your ass off – If you’re in a job but want to be an entrepreneur, grind 5pm-2am to build something for yourself in your off time and, “Stop watching episodes of Breaking Bad” says Gary. If you work 9 hours a day, sleep 6 hours that leave you 9 hours a day to grind and hustle.
Stick to your DNA – Be true to yourself, be authentic, it’s what makes you, you and separates you from everyone else. It’s okay to admire others, but don’t try to copy who they are, be the best version of yourself.
Do what matters – Don’t get hung up on unimportant tasks. Micro manage or delegate, you decide. Most things don’t matter. Focus on what matters. Take right action.
Stop making excuses – Lack of time or capital are just two obstacles amongst many others that you will inevitably have to overcome but don’t use them as excuses not to do something. Lack of optimism is the major problem. Overcome the inevitable obstacles. “Lack of ……” are just excuses. There are a million reasons “why not” but just one reason “why” which is you gotta persevere and get on with it. Take responsibility.
Care for your Customers – run your business with your heart as well as your head. introduce “random acts of kindness” for loyal customers not just when they are leaving you. Find a way to go “the extra mile” at scale
Learn what motivates your customers – Understand what makes people tick and reverse engineering that so you can add value to them. Be empathetic, and really give a s**t. The customer is not always right but they are always the customer. If you want to take their money, you have to get out of the way, and do what’s necessary to close the deal, put pride to one side. It’s how you make them FEEL that they’ll remember you for. Technology lubricates word of mouth, and customer service is key to creating an experience that will be talked about.
Find where your customers attention is focused – Understand where your customers can be found. Attention is much more focused on mobile phones and particularly on social media through mobile. If you want to get your brand in front of those customers you’ve got to meet them were their attention is. Stop holding onto what worked yesterday, and realign to what is happening in the world today. Get out of your own way, stop resisting and move with the times. Two questions to ask yourself, “Where are your prospects focusing their attention?” “Are you engaging or telling stories to them there?”
Be open to change – Roll with the punches. Don’t try to hold ground. Don’t resist what is. Don’t fear change, embrace uncertainty, evolve, and go with the flow. When you try to resist the way things are, you hurt your business. Market in the present day not yesterday. Things are moving fast, keep up, or get left in the dust.
Be a student of behaviour – This point builds on the previous three. Study behaviour and react to it. Today people are spending huge amounts of time on social media, via their phones, however this is very likely to change in the future as a result of technology advancements, so you need to keep observing and reacting to how the market evolves as a result of these future changes. You don’t have to have a defined plan of attack other than “observing and reacting to what’s happening in the market.”
You must have TALENT – Do you have the talent to be successful, either by being funny, clever, creative, good at DOING something of value, KNOWING something of value, CONNECTING people. It’s the variable that either makes you and your content interesting or not. For instance, you can get away with a drab setting for your videos, if the content is valuable enough to the audience. Deliver something of value using your talent.
Use storytelling in your Marketing – if you understand what the consumer wants, you can then back track to get them emotionally there using story. When done properly it is an invisible influencer. We’re wired to tell and listen to stories. Stories lower our emotional barriers and allow ideas to enter our subconscious.
Embrace your uniqueness – Technology will inevitably take out the B, C, D players in many industries and niches, because they have commoditised themselves, but the “A” players will grow and take B, C, D’s market share. So concentrate on growing your brand. Be authentic, be genuine and don’t try to fit in, or blend into the background, or copy what others are doing, otherwise you will become a commodity (same as everyone else). Ask what makes you different? What makes you, you? Dare be noticed, and stand out.
Nothing happens overnight – It takes lots of work, talent, luck, and serendipity. to be “an overnight success”. Put yourself in the best position to succeed and take a long term view if you can, rather than looking for quick wins. Think Branding over “transaction marketing” for instance.
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