Category Archives: business plan writing

Optimal Marketing Campaign Strategy

Zero in on your optimal marketing strategies.

Zero in on your optimal marketing strategies.

As a copy writer for web/print, I know that the most effective campaigns are guided by thoroughly planned out marketing strategies.  I’ve written the following brief article to help you grow your revenue faster with less risk.

Optimal marketing campaigns—those that result in the highest net profit return on your investment of time and money—are the result of sufficient research, strategy, planning, and careful decision making, weighing all the factors.  As a seasoned marketing strategist with experience in a wide variety of industries, I can help guide you every step of the way, preventing you from wasting your precious time and money.  Then, when it comes time to design the format and write your copy for web sites, sales letters, post cards, flyers, and promotional audio or video, I can either write it for you or write it with you, teaching you how to do it yourself in the future.

Without the necessary research, strategy, and planning, the likelihood that you’ll have a strong ROI, or even have ANY profit from a marketing campaign, is much lower.  If you take the time to develop a strategy that answers the following questions, you’re like to find much more success in all of your campaigns:

Which strategy is most likely to produce the greatest net profit in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of risk?

So, let’s break that down.  Which strategy (or optional promotional opportunity) is 1) most likely (probability expressed as a percentage, e.g. 50% probability of success) to produce the greatest 2) net profit (a $100 net profit versus a $1000 net profit) in the shortest amount of 3) time (recorded in days, weeks, months, or years) with the least amount of 4) risk (the subjective emotional as well as financial component of the company’s decision makers).

Risk assessment is probably one of the most challenging of the 4 factors.  If you had $1 million in your company’s accounts, you probably wouldn’t mind investing $50,000 in a marketing campaign.  But, if you only had a total of $50,000 in your company’s “war chest,” you would be far less comfortable investing your entire amount of capital.  So, for our purposes, we will express this risk factor as a percentage of total capital available.

This single question, involving several variables, will guide all of your marketing and sales process decision-making.  It can be graphically illustrated in the following table, where the Options are the various marketing channels or promotional opportunities available to most small businesses. Then, you give a numeric value to each of the factors according to how important it is to YOU relative to each other.

Options Probability Net Profit Time Frame Level of Risk/

% of total budget

Option A 90% $100 1 week 5%
Option B 40% $2,000 3 weeks 30%
Option C 20% $50,000 8 weeks 60%

Based on this matrix of marketing campaign decision making, which type of decision is easier, faster to make, and one that you’d be willing to go ahead with time and time again.  Let’s look at Option A:  Is it a “no-brainer” to make a decision that is 90% likely to work, only involves a 1 week time span, and requires only 5% of your overall marketing budget at risk?  So, even though the net profit of $100 is not a lot, you could make this “bet” several times a week, couldn’t you?  And you’d still be able to feel very comfortable with the level of risk, wouldn’t you?

Whereas, Option C, with it’s high net profit potential, is less of an attractive option, since it is only 20% likely to work and requires both a longer wait time of 8 weeks and a much larger risk factor, taking 60% of your marketing budget to execute.

Now, are you starting to see how analyzing every marketing opportunity available to you is a crucial step to making sure you don’t waste time and money?  In fact, this one formula for comparing marketing channels can guide your every decision, making sure you are comfortable with the risk, and can improve your chances of a successful campaign many times over.

For testimonials from clients, enjoy reviewing my LinkedIn professional profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewbarden

Sample copy writing sites:

www.eggurl.com/dV

www.AndrewBarden.com

www.SoccerMarketingInc.com

www.TrainingInLA.org

www.MackeySalesTeam.com

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10 Proven B2B Marketing Communication Strategies to Drive Revenue Growth

Know the decision making process of your targets.

Know the decision making process of your targets.

If you are a business marketing to other businesses (B2B), there are a few steps you’ll need to address. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 small businesses, when surveyed, don’t do sufficient planning of their marketing strategy. If you are a start up, your failure to plan means that you are planning to fail. To avoid the most common pitfalls, do your homework. The below steps will help you get started. It’s all about your research, your strategy, and your careful execution of marketing campaigns that are first tested and then refined and then launched.

If you need help with developing your B2B marketing strategy and execution, find a business coach / consultant / counselor with experience guiding small business owners through the process. The investment will pay off with a much higher ROI.

Before you start on your B2B marketing communications plan, there are some important things you need to consider:

The purpose of your marketing communications – Any marketing / communications effort has only two purposes: create a positive, larger-than- life image of your company, and create and facilitate sales opportunities. It’s all about creating a funnel of qualified leads for your sales team to close. And, if you are the only sales person (“solopreneur”), you need to leverage your time with effective marketing: you waste less time and end up making more money in less time.

Your budget – Most businesses fail because they run out of seed capital or have a dip in cash flow at some point. All factors must be taken into account. Obviously, a key new product or service introduction will require more money than an established product or service that “sells itself.” When a business owner makes marketing mistakes, the average cost is around $15,000. It’s better to invest in getting help developing your strategy than to waste your budget on failed marketing campaigns.

Your strategic plan – Are there new products to be introduced? Problems to be solved?
Images/perceptions to be altered? Interest/sales opportunities to be created? What do you expect to achieve through your marketing efforts? Develop a SWOT analysis (identifying your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) that helps you see problems before they arise.

Your tactical plan – Never forget that the desirability of the product or service itself is by far the greatest single factor in any marketing/selling effort. How you plan to create demand depends on just how much in demand your product or service is already in the market place. The more demand, the more competition, right? But, competition is good! Why? Because, as you read above, most small business owners don’t take the time to develop effective marketing strategies. When you do just a few simple things to correct the most common mistakes in your industry, you’ll soon see yourself dominating your market.

10 Proven Revenue-Growing Strategies for Small Business Marketing Communications

It’s just as important to execute the various components of your marketing communications campaign in proper sequence as it is to execute them well. For most small business owners the order should be as follows:

1. Corporate Identity – Logo, branding, letterhead, business cards, tagline, signage, etc. Follow through on all communications projects/materials. Look up the ebook called The Branding Bible. I’ve used it and recommend it highly. Branding is more than you’re your logo, or the colors and pictures you choose on your website. When you position yourself in the market correctly, you differentiate yourself from other businesses offering similar products / services. Your brand needs to show your Unique Selling Proposition within each marketing message. Not familiar with a USP? Simply “Google it” and you’ll know enough to improve your current slogan or elevator pitch. In fact, you’ll want to do the “poor man’s background check” and Google your brand or your first and last name to see how others see you. I’ve been working on this one myself. Google “Andrew Barden” and you’ll see that I dominate the first page, usually 9/10 or 10/10. Your online reputation can make or break your business reputation. Protect it.

2. Product photography/illustration – You need good photos or illustrations before you can do anything. This seemingly basic requirement is often overlooked. A picture says 1,000 words. The right picture can grab the readers’ attention enough to get them to read. Pictures of human faces or animals can also create a desired emotional reaction, even before reading a single word of copy in the promotion.

3. Web site – All of your leads / interested parties will go here, so make sure your web site is ready for them! Your site must make it easy to locate products/info and download quickly and easily. You need to be able to answer your prospect’s first question upon arrival “What is the ONE THING they want me to do?” And your answer needs to be “Give us your information in exchange for X.”

You need good copywriting and professional navigation, but you don’t need fancy graphics – web sites in the B2B world are for information, not showing off. No Flash is necessary. Your web site exists to help sell your products or to generate leads to sell your service. Make sure the information is current. Above all, develop a video with testimonials from satisfied clients. Adding a video introduction from you, the business owner, goes a long way in building rapport, too.

4. Web Traffic Generation – How to generate targeted traffic to your site. There are two approaches, short term and long term. An example of a short term approach is designing a landing page with Google Analytics embedded in it, then design a pay-per-click campaign, assign a daily budget, and test to see if within a week or so you have made more money than you spent.

A long term approach is to set up well written professional profiles on all the social networks, grow your network to many thousands, and ask and answer questions within groups of which your ideal client is likely to be a member.

Don’t dismiss the efficacy of growing your business with a well written social network profile. I’ve personally had prospective clients read my answers to questions posed on social networking sites, read my profile, check out my verifiable testimonials, and then pick up the phone and call me to sign up for business coaching. Plus, I’ve been fortunate to have both the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswire writers contact me as a small business expert—all based on my well written professional profile on sites like LinkedIn.com and Biznik.com. Just imagine if you had your industry news organizations calling you or clients calling you, simply because you had a compelling profile!

5. Literature – Provide first-class brochures that your salespeople are proud to present. Your literature is a reflection of the professionalism, or lack thereof, of your company. You need as much to capture the mind share of your salespeople as you do the attention of your potential customers.

6. Follow-up system – Use telemarketing to follow up on leads. Your telemarketing people must be capable of connecting with prospects and getting the information you need to close sales.

7. Ads – Target any ads to a very small niche. You’ll need to do your psychological profile of your Ideal Client first, to know where their “eyeballs” are going to be through the day. For B2B, industry journal advertising gets your company and products in front of a huge audience. It’s very cost effective in that sense. Advertising will not, typically, generate hot leads, but it will get people to your web site.

Establish a campaign or “look” unique to your company. Carry this through on all ads for at least a year. This is key for any branding strategy. And remember this: You only get one shot, so you have to stop them! Make them want to take action, and help them get in touch with you. Frequency is important, and so is impact. Take advantage of editorial calendars in journals and map out your schedule accordingly.

8. Public relations/publicity – Once you have your list of journal editors (which you need to update faithfully), send out press releases on a regular basis. You can use services like PRWeb.com and similar companies, most of whom charge around $400 per press release. If you are not a writer, be sure to have a professional write your press release or it won’t be distributed. Provide photos. Some online PR companies even allow you to embed video.

Establish relationships with the editors. You can use the press release’s cover letter to set up the initial pitch for technical articles. Technical articles are one of the most important yet most under-appreciated activities you can perform. They can generate huge exposure and position your company as the expert in your field.

With your article, you will want to showcase 2 main qualities. First, your humanity and only secondarily your expertise. Your humanity is showcased when you tell a painful story, showing the reader that you understand their pain. Then the reader believes that if you understand their pain so well, you’ll undoubtedly know how to solve their problems and make the pain go away. Only later do they need to confirm your competence. Start with a story and you’ll get them hooked to read all the way to the end where your contact information is located.

Most editors will run them, especially (whether they want to admit it or not) if you’re running ads with them. You can also write what is called an “advertorial.” Advertorials look like articles but you paid for their placement. It is one of the best forms of publicity out there.

Press tours to introduce new products or services are a very wise investment if you can afford them. You’ll need to hire a professional PR firm for this.

9. Direct marketing – It’s expensive to mail a printed piece to a huge audience. That’s what the wide circulation of a trade publication is for. But direct marketing is very easy to manage. You can target your recipients, check the leads yourself, and follow up easily. Success is easy to quantify. You’ll want to hire a professional copy writer for your sales letter, post card, or brochure. Write the first draft, focus on success stories and the benefits (the emotional release of solving the problem) and then turn it over to the copywriter to make it sing.

With any direct marketing effort, always make an offer. Without “something in it for me,” people will not respond. It’s called a “Call to Action.” But don’t just give stuff away. Make them respond to receive the offer.

Creative execution is critical. It must stand out. Newsletters, both print and electronic, offer another excellent way to communicate current information and generate exposure. There are often services within an industry (real estate, for example) that provide a weekly newsletter that they send to your list on your behalf, with your branding and photo and personal letter. Then they add plenty of news and stimulating articles that will be salient to your ideal clients. They can be either printed/mailed or electronic. Just look at your average client acquisition cost to see if postage and printing is a relatively small expense compared to the lifetime value of a new client.

Newsletters should be sent on a regular basis to key customers/prospects, sales channels, even editors. Most people want to receive personalized information. This means that you could have a different newsletter for a different product or service category. Let your browser choose which information will best suit their interests. They are far more likely to both subscribe as well as open and read the newsletter when it comes. You’ll also wan to utilize the service of an auto-responder service, like VerticalResponse.com or others, making the capture of contact information and regular sending of newsletters that don’t go into spam folders a much easier task. These services typically run at a very cost-effective $20 monthly fee.

Opt-in email is a very cost-effective, contemporary method of direct marketing and should not be underestimated. I recommend the work of the late Cory Rudl of MarketingTips.com His group, continuing on after his passing, is among the best trainers for email marketing and web site design that I’ve come across.

10. Trade shows – Pick the key trade shows in your industry and use a modest, well-organized booth. Get a hospitality suite, sponsor a press breakfast, host a seminar. Do something unique – focus on a key new product or product family. Focus on shows that will allow you to personally speak to enough qualified buyers to make it worth the cost. One little secret of how to write business at trade shows: do a major phone campaign to all the registered attendees prior to the show. Find out if they are willing to set up an appointment for a presentation. If you can present before the show, you can even close the deal at the show.

Remember, business is about relationships. Money comes from people making decisions. All of your communications, write, audio, video, or in person, needs to communicate the benefits of doing business with you. Apply the Law of Reciprocity and “show up giving” when first talking to your prospects. You’ll be amazed at how many prospects respond.

———————–

Andrew Barden is a small business marketing strategist, trainer, author, consultant, and one-on-one coach, based in Los Angeles.

He can be reached at Andrew@AndrewBarden.com or 1-866-339-4619. Sign up for his free monthly “Small Business Marketing Strategies” newsletter and receive a 30 minute complimentary small business diagnostic: http://eggurl.com/dV

You can also view his professional profile, read testimonials, and connect with his 5,300+ global professional network on LinkedIn at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewbarden

Business Coaching – Zero Risk Offer to Increase Your Net Profits

Hi. I’m Andrew Barden, Philanthropic Entrepreneur.


I can help you make more money in your small business at no risk to you. I’ve helped literally thousands small business owners from around the world make more money through improving their marketing strategies and execution of their marketing campaigns.


I don’t charged upfront fees. I work on a contingency contract. Simply put you only pay me a small portion of your increase in net profits. There is never any risk for you when working with me. To learn more about my philosophy and why I call myself a philanthropic entrepreneur, visit http://www.AndrewBarden.com.


The greatest resource of the entrepreneur is also his or her most scarce resource.  It is not money. The scarcest resource you have is your time. If you are willing to invest 30 minutes of your time in your business, I will be willing to do the same.  This could simply be my gift to you or this could be the start of a great business relationship.  When you sign-up for a 30-minute complementary no-obligation consultation, I will help you to assess what might be stopping you from making more money in your particular business. Often it takes an objective third party to diagnose what’s really going on in your business.


Now, given tough economic times and the likelihood that your sales have already been slipping for quite some time,  isn’t now the best time to take action? Isn’t now the best time to consult with experts who have helped thousands of small business owners apply proven principles and strategies in their small business?


I also invite you to connect with me on Linkin.com. Go to http://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewbarden and invite me to connect. You will see there my professional profile that includes testimonials from small business owners and colleagues, other experts who have witnessed the results I can get for small business owners.


I also invite you to follow me on this blow, read the posts, and sign up to be alerted to new posts.


Finally, I invite you to invest 30 minutes in your small business marketing strategy development. Again, there is no risk to you, as these 30 minutes will be a true conversation and focus on showing you immediate ways to improve your marketing strategy, both online and off-line.


During these 30 minutes I don’t hold anything back. I give you my best, with the hopes that you and I might eventually develop a relationship in which I work with you regularly on a contingency contract. I would normally charge $150 for such a diagnostic. But, to start out any business relationship I practice applying the Law of Reciprocity, I “show up giving.” There are numerous Universal Laws that I’ll help you apply.


There are typically two areas that most small business owners neglect.


1. The business owner’s own mindset: developing prosperity consciousness is the first and foremost responsibility of the business owner. Visits my website at http://www.andrewbarden.com where, as part of my philanthropic entrepreneurial mission, I have made available hundreds of files–including pdfs, audio, and video–under the page called “free prosperity downloads.”


2. The psychological profile of the business’ IDEAL client. Without knowing how your ideal client makes decisions you will not know how to most effectively market and sell to your ideal clients. Not knowing who your ideal client is will make its much more difficult to grow your net profits as you will service clients who are not ideal. In general and ideal client is one who is easy to find easy to reach with a message, response to that message, takes action, is easy to sell to, buys more than your average clients, does business regularly would you, and refers all of his or her family and friends and associates to you.


Applying the 80/20 principle, we know that 20% of your revenue comes from 80% of your clients and 80% of the revenue comes from 20% of your clients. Wouldn’t you like to replace the 80% of your less than ideal clients with the 20% of ideal clients less quadrupling your income, basically making more money in less time. This is the power of developing an ideal clients psychological profile otherwise known as psychographics.


Demographics are the first step and also the easiest step in developing a marketing campaign. Too often small business owners stop at a demographic profile by a list and send off a postcard or flyer or brochure. They then sit and wait for the phone to ring, and unfortunately, little to nothing happens. Have you ever found yourself in that situation?


There’s a simple solution that unfortunately most small business owners don’t know. In order for even an ideal client to respond to a marketing message they need to hear the message in veriest formats from 10 to 12 times before they will take action and contact you. This means that if you send out 5000 postcards you don’t send them to 5000 people once. Instead, you send to 500 people 10 postcards with a similar branding theme yet different messages. You’ll have a similar cost as postage is by far the greatest expense. And you will have a far greater response rate and a much greater return on your investment in the end I seen 400% ROIs in direct mail campaigns.


The other crucial principle most small business owners neglect to apply correctly is generically termed relationship marketing. Roughly 85% of all small businesses in the United States are service based. Even if you are also selling products they’re typically is a decision-making process that requires a live person to interact with the buyer. The sales process typically looks like this:


awareness –> like –> trust –> buy –> repeat buy –> refer


So, in the beginning of the relationship you are simply making your prospect aware of your offer. Your next step is essentially to get them to like you. People do business with those that they like, just like people choose to associate with friends for which they have some affinity.


Once you begin to like someone, notice that they care about your welfare, and notice that they are competence in their particular industry, you can begin to trust them and consider doing business with them. At that point you as the seller of your services would begin to talk about the benefits of doing business with you versus other people, and the various advantages and features of your product or service.


Unfortunately, most people sell or create promotions that focus on price, discounts, features, and forgot to establish an awareness, affinity, and trust in the relationship. This is why many advertisements and other direct mail or e-mail campaigns simply do not produce a significant return and often even no return… in fact it is often poor marketing strategy and field campaigns that is the direct cause of small businesses going out of business.


You may have heard from the Small Business Administration how well over two thirds of all small businesses failed in the first four years. And even greater numbers fail in subsequent years. Without effective marketing producing strong returns on your investment of money and time and the sales process that is engineered specifically to cater to your ideal clients preferences, wants, and hot buttons, you’re more likely to fail than to succeed in building your small business.


Growing your business is simple, but, it’s simply not that easy. Why is it not that easy? It is not that easy because most small business owners neglect to understand their own mindset and the mindset of their ideal client. If you work with a business coach who can help you develop prosperity consciousness as well as the psychological profile of your ideal clients your likelihood of succeeding in your business venture increases exponentially.


There are well over a dozen small business coaching companies whose fees range from 3000 upwards to 25,000 or more. Their sales pitch essentially reads like give us your money and maybe will be able to help you. Does that sound like an inviting offer? Of course not.


The most irresistible offer for small business owner who is looking for clarity and confidence in their marketing strategy and campaign execution is to find a business coach who will instead of acting like a vendor will act like a partner. A partner in your business would, like you, be willing to invest their time or what we call sweat equity, at their own risk. Your partner, would then sharer in the net profits with you.


When you hire a business coach who works on a contingency contract you are essentially securing a partner who makes a small portion of your net profits that they help you to create. Sometimes he can happen quickly. Sometimes it may take a few months. But in the end there is an equal investment of time. Doesn’t that sound like an irresistible offer? Doesn’t that sound like the kind of relationship you want to have with your business coach?


In uncertain economic times business owners who will survive will take much more calculated risks. They will do their homework in order to make decisions with clarity and confidence. A business coach who can walk you through a proven system that has enabled literally thousands of small business owners to achieve strong ROIs in various industries in numerous cultures and economic conditions around the world is hands down one of the best partners a business owner would want to have.


Invite me to start that relationship by signing up for an initial complementary 30 minute business diagnostic session. At the end of the conversation you and I will both make a decision to move onto the next step or not. I serve over 70 clients every month as of March 2009, most of them in Los Angeles County. However I’m willing to add a few more. So long as you are fluent in English, and are passionate about growing your small business revenues and willing to commit time and resources to achieve your business goals and we might be a good fit.


I look forward to speaking with you soon. If you are eager to start a relationship feel free to contact me via e-mail at Andrew@AndrewBarden.com or call my toll-free cell phone at 1 – 866-339-4619. This number, again, rings directly to my personal cell phone, so please only call during business hours Pacific Standard Time, from 9am to 6pm, Monday through Friday.


To your success,


Andrew Barden
Founder, Philanthropic Entrepreneur
http://www.AndrewBarden.com

1-866-339-4619

Weathering the Storm – What to do to Stay on Top in a Down Economy

Weathering the Storm -What to do to Stay on Top in a Down Economy

By Robert Imbriale,
The Motivational Marketer

Business owners from coast to coast are worried, scared, and some are even considering closing up shop because of what they see as uncertain times ahead. While it’s true that there will be many business closings ahead, your business doesn’t have to be one of them.

What’s behind much of the fear and worry is the constant barrage of bad news about industry giants failing at an alarming rate. And, it’s not just the what’s in the news. Our conversations have also turned negative about anything related to the economy.

What has happened to many business owners is that they have taken what they have heard or read about in the news and given it more attention than it truly deserves. That has created doubt, which soon becomes fear, and not long after that, you’ll find these same business owners throwing in the towel and shutting their doors forever.

And then there’s the trickle-down effect to consider. When one business fails, other business owners then begin to look at that failure to support their beliefs that things are as bad as they are hearing about in the news.

If your business is going to succeed, the first thing you need to do is shift your attention away from all of this and instead focus on things that are indeed more positive. I’m not suggesting that you ignore it all, but try to at least get a new perspective on it all.

For instance, yesterday, I was at the local packing and shipping store where business was booming. In fact, the owner told me he was having a great holiday season, despite what the fact that if you believe what you’re hearing about in the news would make you think this could simply not be possible.
I’m sure that you won’t see a story about this business in the news, either, so don’t go looking for it.

Now, I’m not trying to blame the news media for all our troubles. These companies are nothing more than businesses that respond to what their customers buy. We buy bad news hundreds of times more than good news. If we bought only good news, that what you’d see more of. So it’s not entirely the media’s fault.

Closer to home, I started to look for signs that things weren’t quite as bad as I’d heard. Sure enough, there is the landscape crew out on my front lawn, so I asked him how his business was doing. It was slower, but he was still getting big landscaping jobs, one totaling more than $125,000.00!
In my own business, I’m seeing more and more clients contacting me for my executive level coaching services because they are looking to make this coming year better than the previous one!

“What?” People actually not looking at things from a negative perspective? Well, they’ll see, you think to yourself because you “know” they just can’t be right.

Then you look a little deeper at what’s really happening right now and what you begin to see is that this is the perfect time to be positive about the future.

Think about it this way. When the economy was bubbling hot, houses became almost unaffordable as prices rose to record-setting highs. Yes, cheap money was indeed behind all of that, but had it continued to go the way it was going, in just a decade from now, the average home in this country might have topped a million dollars!

Things are simply adjusting and getting back to more reasonable levels. And, as in any adjustment period, it’s going to be a little uncomfortable for a little while. And, there is a lot you can do right now to take advantage of all the changes.

Here are some suggestions for you.

First, go out of your way to find stories of success. Find people who are now talking about better times ahead instead of hanging around people who can only parrot what they hear in the news.

Then, start creating your plans for this next year by putting down on paper everything you wish to have and do in the next 12 months. Go ahead and be bold here because big dreams are what create big results.

Next, create, find, invent a way to get yourself around people who are positive, upbeat, and who are seeing all the opportunities that are now being created that could never have been if things had stayed the way they were. Engage in conversations of success and what you want your business to do, and what you’re planning for the next year.

This is where a good coach can be extremely valuable to you and your business, and it’s a worthwhile investment if you simply can’t find anybody to motivate you and hold you accountable.

If you do these simple steps, what you’ll find is that things aren’t quite as bad as they are made to appear, and in fact, there are many places that are thriving right now.

Think about this. Each and every day billions and billions of dollars changes hands on the Internet. That number may be lower than it once was when it broke all previous records, but it has not stopped! It’s just lower, and nothing more.

Your job is simply to find new and innovative ways to tap into the money stream that is flowing and will continue to flow, no matter how bad things may get out there.

Realize that millionaires are made in good times and bad. It’s not about what’s going on out there as much as it is about how you think about and what you do about it.

Your success comes from seeing things that other people can’t or won’t see. Every smart and successful business owner sees things as they want them to be rather than as they are.

They put their focus on what they are trying to create instead of what they are getting because they realize that what they are getting right now is simply a result of what they did, or failed to do, in the past. What they get tomorrow and beyond will be the result of what they do today and everyday going forward.

In a nutshell, you can, and you should be planning for a great year ahead. You should be thinking about how you want your business to look a year from today, and start working on those plans right now.

If you’ll do these things, and I mean really do them, instead of just giving them lip service, I know you’ll be pleased with the results you’ll get in the coming year, regardless of how bad the media tells us things are out there.

Remember, drama is what sells newspapers, not stories of success. Go ahead and buck the trend, plan ahead, and create a business that will stand the test of what’s ahead… and cash in as all your competitor’s go out of business because they got scared and their customers now start buying from you!

Think about it. You can either struggle in the coming year, or you can thrive, and it’s really all up to you.

About the Author

Robert Imbriale is the author of the best-selling book, Motivational Marketing. He is a successful business coach, and seminar leader who has helped hundreds of thousands of business owners create bigger, more successful businesses, and he can help you too. Tell him what your biggest challenge is with your business right now! Go to http://www.AskRobertImbriale.com If you would like to have Robert help you with your business, you can reach him at 1-800-541-3816 or at http://www.RobertImbriale.com

Tips for Effective Business Plan Writing


Hello. If you are thinking about starting your first business, writing a business plan can seem, …well… overwhelming! If you feel you are not a researcher and writer, you’ll likely want to hire someone who “plays” at doing those things. If you are a good researcher and writer, here are some tips that will help you develop a much better business plan. The more thorough and better written the plan, the more likely you’ll both greatly increase the speed and amount of sales as well as significantly increase the likelihood that you’ll get funded.

Looking for start up capital? Well, lately, just about the only banks giving businesses loans are those that are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Soooo… if you are smart, you’ll visit your local SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and get your first draft of a business plan reviewed by trained experts.

Ok. So, here are the tips, written in the order of a typical plan outline. Keep in mind that the executive summary may be placed in the beginning but it is always written in the end, after you’ve written almost everything else.

Tip #1: What sets your apart from your competition? What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

Think about the number of business plans your readers must plow through each day (if they are angel investors, venture capitalists, or bankers). An average venture capitalists, for example, usually sees about 1,000 plans a year and likley invests in up about 10! What distinguishes yours from the rest of the stack?

Highlight the qualities that set you apart from all the other businesses early on in your Executive Summary. Put your winning concept up front and make sure your readers get it. Really emphasize that you’ve done your marketing research and concisely explain why you will dominate your particular market (with sufficient capital to send the message out, of course!).

Tip #2 The eye loves white space. Give your words breathing room.

Separate out your summary into paragraphs that mirror the sections of your business plan, giving at least 1/2 an inch of white space between each topic. It gives the reader’s mind a chance to breath. Summaries are best written very dense, with the lease words possible to say the most important things. So, the reader will want to take a moment to soak it in. Give them the white space to take a “mental breath” before taking on the next big gulp of information.

Tip #3 Inc and grow rich.

If you are presenting a business plan to someone other than your friend or relative, be sure to have incorporated already. Have your incorporation information listed in the Company Description section of the website. Telling the reader that you have yet to incorporate could lead them to think that you’re not taking your business seriously. When you show that you have at least an LLC (which can later be converted to a C Corp or S Corp), then they see that “you mean business.” Now, which state to incorporate in? Did you know that there are good reasons NOT to incorporate in the state in which you currently reside? Talk to a good business attorney and ask about which states give the most protection in court. Also, never sell more than 49% of your stocks unless you are willing to give up all control to other stock holders.

Tip #4 Milestones show maturity.

You’ll want to develop a history of your company that makes you look smart. You’ll want to list milestones that you’ve already achieved. For example, show a chronology of the following, providing the dates of when you:

Incorporated

Completed your prototype

Shipped your first product

Secured major accounts / customers

Secured key strategic partnerships

Reached a significant sales level

You’ll want to indicate at what phase of development your company is currently. Choose one of the following that best describes where you are:

Seed Company: The business concept is developed, but the product or service is not yet finalized. Not yet making sales.

Start-Up: In the early state of operation. Securing first customers.

Expanding: Established company adding new products, services, or branches. Rapidly increasing sales growth.

Stable: Established company with modest ongoing sales growth.

Retrenchment: Consolidating or repositioning product lines. Little or no sales growth.

Tip #5 Avoid Disclosing Sensitive Information

Be careful about putting highly proprietary or technical details in your plan, even if your reader has signed a non-disclosure agreement. You can present these details at a later stage of discussion.

Tip #5 Research, Research, Research – spot trends before they take you out of the game

Researching industry trends enables you to provide facts supporting your claims for your company’s potential success. You’ll need to show that your industry is growing instead of dying or flat. Even more convincing are sales figures for similar companies in the industry.

Tip #6 Invest in Yourself

Most lenders and investors want to see that the business owners have already made a significant personal financial investment in their own company. Many loan programs require owners to contribute 20 to 30% towards any funds sought. So, make certain you highlight the amount of money–as well as the time and other resources–you’ve already committed to your company.

Tip #7 Targeting your Market Shows Exactly How You’ll Reach Certain People

A strong target market definition is:

Definable: It identifies the specific characteristics potential customers have in common

Meaningful: These characteristics directly relate to purchasing decisions

Sizable: The number of those potential customers is large enough to sustain your business.

Reachable: You can affordably and effectively market to them and have proven they will respond via cost effective marketing campaigns.

MORE TIPS TO COME… that’s it for now, but, I’ll post more tips soon… be sure to sign up for my RSS feed