To Know Your Audience, Know Yourself

Technical demographic analysis and statistics can be pretty dry stuff. They can be quite helpful, but frankly, are not where you need to start to know how to market your products and services. You just need to know your audience and here’s what I recommend. 

I say, let’s start from common sense. Let’s start with YOU.

I am a firm believer in doing what you know. So, if you are a mom and you want to market children’s toys, you’ve got a pretty good basis of knowledge, don’t you? You have kids, you know what your kids like, and you can talk to the other moms you know to get info about their childrens’ preferences. You can be pretty confident that your experience carries across the market.

Following the same logic, you know how you buy too, right?  You know which ads catch your attention and which ones turn you off. You know what price points are deal makers or deal breakers. You know what time of the year or month you go shopping. You know how you prefer to be treated by the sales help in the stores. You are a knowledge powerhouse when it comes to your kids!

What else are you an expert about? Fashion, food, bill paying, education, marriage, raising a family, to name some likely choices, but the list goes on.  My point is that you have so much knowledge already in your life experience that you can begin to formulate some rather precise ideas about a market. I’m not suggesting that you isolate yourself from others’ opinions, but rather that you honor your own.

Do you use the resident expert within you or do you dismiss it as every day life stuff that has little significance? Do you have amazing excellence at your fingertips that you disregard as “I’m just being me” filler material? If you do, cut it out! Your ideas, creativity, and point of view are what make you unique, while at the same time giving you access to market demographics. You have full access to yourself and you need to plug in and go for it. 

Make a list today of all the things you are good at, that you know about. Don’t edit or critique, just let the thoughts flow. I believe you will discover a treasure trove of information to use for your business. Be willing to look at yourself from the outside and you will have your own marketing survey right under your nose. Report back what revelations you experience—we want to know!

Together, we are stronger.
Vicki Flaugher, the orginal SmartWoman

 

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The Value of Relationships: Why I Quit the “Convincing” Business

If you are like me, you are passionate about what you do and you like to have others into it too. For me, I am quite an advocate. I like talking about investing, entrepreneurship, passive income, internet marketing, empowerment, female power, organic living…you name it. If it’s something I believe in, and it’s changed my life in a positive way, I like to spread the word.

But, this approach isn’t the way to go when you are working to acquire new business. Although it’s important to communicate the benefits of your products and services, if you’re having to convince the client, to push, to manipulate with fancy sales technique, you don’t have the sale. And, you probably don’t want it even if you do finally “win” it. Here’s why:

The people you have to convince are the hardest to sell, the most expensive to service, and are the most likely to want a refund. You’ll work your tail off for them and then they won’t refer you to their friends. Or, worst still, they will refer their friends. Since the old adage “Birds of a feather flock together” often rings true, their friends are going to be like them– a pain in your balance sheet! Convincing just doesn’t pay and it isn’t the way business is done anymore.

Advertising and marketing have changed a lot in the last decade. People’s buying behavior has changed too. They concentrate on relationships even more and they don’t buy things that they don’t already know. When was the last time you bought a book or went to a movie with little idea of what you’d be getting? It was a long time ago for me. More to the point, when was the last time you paid more for a product because you knew and trusted the vendor? I did that yesterday, was happy to do it, and I would do it again today.

It’s not that I don’t buy new inventive products. When I do, it’s because I was educated about them first. The business owner took the time to be in the market, teaching me what their product was and what it does and how it works. Even though their idea was brand new, when I finally bought, my relationship with them was not.

I’m not saying I am immune to great sales technique. None of us are. I tend to study it and admire it. But it’s not why I buy. I don’t buy because some slick salesperson knew the right “close”. Sales technique shouldn’t get in your way, but the quality of the product and the relationship drives the sale, not the sales technique.

So, what does this mean to you? Get yourself out in the market ahead of your sales pitch! Give people ample opportunity to know you and learn about your product. Educate, communicate, give people a way to learn about you prior to even contacting you (your website’s a great tool for this). Get involved in your community so your reputation preceeds you. And protect and enrich that reputation with great service and honest dealings.

If you do these things, people will come to you and they will be great clients. When you approach them, they will already know you and will be glad to see you. They’ll be a raving fan that insist their friends should deal with only you. They will buy more often, in larger amounts, and be a breeze to service. They might even become your friend. They will already be convinced from the start because they had the opportunity to be convinced by the person whose opinion they respect the most–themselves.

When you finally embrace the power of the relationship, you’ll be out of the convincing business too.

50 Female Entrepreneur Resource Sites

I have hit the motherlode! Yes, I am a google freak, but this is just the beginning. I am sincere when I tell you my goal is to unify the field for women entrepreners. We deserve to have great information, easily accessible. We deserve to be united. We deserve the best of the best. I am starting to make a dent in that goal… 🙂

I have added descriptions, some of my own assessment, and others from the websites themselves, to help you choose which ones are most applicable to you. I personally have visited and investigated these and feel comfortable recommending that you should too. (The quotation mark are placed to show I took, in fair use, the descriptions from the sites themselves, not to signify anything else.)

Check out all these blogs/sites/articles, and the massive amount of business, marketing, advertising, and entreprener guidance they have to offer. It’s like gold! (Be sure to mark this entry to return to it…it’s going to take some time…)

  1. http://jenniferkushell.wordpress.com/   From the website: “Your Success Network – is focused on creating the #1 online universe that arms emerging adults across the globe with the most trusted tools and resources needed to achieve success in their lives and careers”
  2. http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com/ From Pam, the owner’s, bio: “Pamela Slim is a seasoned coach and writer who helps frustrated employees in corporate jobs break out and start their own business.”
  3. http://investinwomen.wordpress.com/  Per Leah Oviedo, the owner: “On this blog I will post stories and organizations that will empower women to live successful lifes…by linking with quality websites that Empower Women and with Business Services by Women for other entrepreneurs.”
  4. http://bettersalesprofessional.com/  Sales and marketing tips for entrepreneurs. This site owner, Barbara, is “A sales veteran…(with) a proven, 25+ year track record of selling into enterprise level and small-mid market accounts”
  5. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/ Seth Godin is one of my uber heros–great stuff–he is a world class bestselling author, and champion of permission based marketing. Many books, founder of Squidoo, MBA in business, and very straight talking. I have a professional crush on him.
  6. http://theunknownentrepreneur.wordpress.com/  I just like how honest and raw this man is about his entrepreneurial journey–I find it inspiring. From his about page: “Why do we lose so many Entrepreneurs? The Simple answer is because we all either forget or just do not appreciate what risks Entrepreneurs take in trying to make their “Dreams a Reality”. “
  7. http://www.wowowow.com/ An amazing, star studded, power grouping of women having conversations about life and the modern women. Candice Bergen, Whoopi Goldburg, Leslie Stahl, Peggy Noonan, Marlo Thomas, Lily Tomlin, and others discuss politics, business, sexism and more.
  8. http://leighhouse.typepad.com/advergirl/ The author says “I am a 30-something brand strategist located deep in the delightful Mid-west. After I help clients tell clear, compelling brand stories at work, I log on to Advergirl to be part of the conversation shaping our industry and our economy.”  IMO, this women IS the industry. It’s great stuff.
  9. http://www.b2bemailmarketing.com/ From the About page: “BeRelevant!, founded on February 8, 2005, is a weblog that covers email marketing best practices. Each and every one of the articles, tools and resources that are featured on BeRelevant! have been carefully selected based on their value and uniqueness.”
  10. http://www.blogwriteforceos.com/blogwrite/ From Debbie’s bio: “Debbie Weil is a corporate & CEO blogging and social media consultant, sought-after speaker and author” She is a responsive, intelligent entrepreneur that is full of wonderful advice on how to turn your blog into business.
  11. http://www.brandeo.com/ From the website: “Brandeo is a weblog dedicated to keeping you up-to-date on marketing ideas, trends, strategies and solutions to make your job easier and to help you get better marketing results.”
  12. http://brandandmarket.com/  From her website: “Branding & Marketing is written by Chris Brown for business professionals who want to learn more about marketing and branding strategies and tactics.” Chris has been very responsive to me and I look forward to working with her empowering women.
  13. http://www.ck-blog.com/ Under her FAQ page, CK says “I cover a wide range of marketing topics including strategy, social media and socially responsible marketing. I work to communicate best practices through a range of examples that include the really smart and the really not-so-smart. While most every post is focused on marketing, no day is ever the same.”
  14. http://overtonecomm.blogspot.com/ Social media, branding, and reputation marketing. Fresh voice, lots of info on how communication can help (and hurt) you.
  15. http://www.conversationagent.com/ Top ranked marketing blog with Valeria Maltoni, focusing on how modern businesses and entrepreneurs can shape the conversation they have with their clients. Branding, social media, and the importance of story. High powered stuff!
  16. http://ringblog.typepad.com/corporatepr/ From the website: “…commentary on the theory and practice of public relations and organizational communications from Elizabeth Albrycht.” Elizabeth has amazing credentials and the blog is easier to read than that description implies…theory is good when you are shown applications and that’s what Elizabeth does.
  17. http://customersrock.wordpress.com/ Why Becky blogs: “.. Everyday, both as a businesswoman and as a consumer, I have thoughts and ideas as I walk through the customer experiences of services and products.  I want to share those thoughts and ideas so more companies can learn how to take on this “customers rock!” attitude for themselves.”
  18. http://bloombergmarketing.blogs.com/bloomberg_marketing/ “An approach to marketing that’s fun, bold, and savvy, but always strategically aligned with your brand’s objective” Social media focus with Toby Bloomberg.
  19. http://www.womensnet.net/ Grants and funding resources for women entrepreneurs. Also includes a business and social networking blog to meet like-minded women and get your questions answered.
  20. http://www.hiyaahpower.com/ The website’s stated mission: “Hiyaah Power …was created to serve as an online conduit of information for women. Information includes the following topics:  professional development (for profit and non-profit), holistic counseling and healing resources, and news on leading edge organizations that expand a woman’s empowerment base. 
  21. http://wendy.kinesisinc.com/ Says Wendy Maynard: “I am the co-owner of… a creative firm specializing in marketing, branding, graphic design, and website development…I have so many ideas floating around in my head about both offline and online marketing strategies, that I wanted to share them. Thus, this blog (Kinetic Ideas) was born.”
  22. http://getgood.typepad.com/  About Susan Getgood, the author: “A results-oriented strategic marketer, Susan knows how to build brands using technology, policy and good old fashioned high-quality products. In 2004, she founded GetGood Strategic Marketing Inc. to help bring blogs into the mix as an indispensable marketing tool.”
  23. http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/tag/michael-cheney/ I love Michael…he’s so enthusiastic,, and Yaros has much to say. “Down to earth advice for bloggers and internet marketers”
  24. http://midlifecrisisqueen.com/ An often humorous look at the mid-life crisis journey, interwoven with psychological insights and advice. Fun and indepth posts about a wide range of female interest topics. A fiesty 50-year old counselor with an attitude. I like her!
  25. http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/startherup/archives/138518.asp  “A blog for women in Startups – what they do, what they face and why it’s different than men. Told through the eyes of Alyssa Royse, who is running a venture-backed startup of her own.
  26. http://www.nafe.com/?service=vpage/1474 National Association for Female Executives, founded in 1972 and committed to the advancement of women in the workplace.
  27. http://www.score.org/women_resources.html  LOADS of female entrepreneur resource links at this location. Per the website, “SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business” is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).”
  28. http://avirtualbiz.wordpress.com/  Terri Brooks, a female entrepreneur and professional virtual assistant, talks about life and work and “provides remote administrative, financial and creative support to busy professionals.” Very heartfelt, inspiring, and encouraging site for women entrepreneurs.  
  29. http://www.copywritingmaven.com/ By Roberta Rosenberg, “The Copywriting Maven”,  whose blog “shares tips, techniques, reviews and cranky commentary”. Fun and very informative reading.
  30. http://www.womensventurefund.org/ Mission Statement: The Women’s Venture Fund is a non-profit organization that helps women of diverse backgrounds establish thriving businesses in urban communities.  WVF offers training, small business loans, and a network of business advisors to help women reach their business goals. 
  31. http://cloud9design.wordpress.com/2008/01/16/woman-owned-business-resources/ Journal by a work at home Mom who makes eco friendly clothing–this particular link is a listing of many female focused entrepreneur sites.
  32. http://www.internationalentrepreneurship.com/Women%20Entrepreneurs.asp?pid=3 International Entrepreneurship’s resource links for women entrepreneurs worldwide. Very helpful stuff for those in the US as well as all around the world.
  33. http://www.womeninpower.com/home.asp  “An online community for entrepreneurial woman to connect and create.” It’s creator, Erica Combs, is the Vice President of Golden Mastermind Seminars, Inc. and an internationally recognized speaker, author and trainer.
  34. http://www.womenpower-radio.com/  Internet radio station with programs hosted by Raven Blair Davis.  Raven is a recognized speaker, coach and trainer. Her mission is to assist women over 40 in discovering and pursuing their true passion and dreams, despite their age and any perceived limitations.
  35. http://www.womenpartner.com/ Women Consortium website–great info, but it may be a little slow loading…be patient.
  36. http://www.womensvoicesforchange.org/ Women’s Voices for Change is a news, commentary and opinion website that celebrates women’s health, beauty, wisdom and vibrancy. We’re here to remind the world how vital, versatile and powerful women over 40 are.
  37. http://www.guide2womenleaders.com/ This site is dedicated to the women who have ruled since the beginning of times – or as long as the sources date back
  38. http://psdblog.worldbank.org/psdblog/2008/01/attention-frien.html World Bank site that focuses on private development and a market approach to development thinking. This links to the Doing Business project.
  39. http://debnyberg.blogspot.com/ A place for women in business to be made aware of business opportunities as well as new products and events effecting online business development.
  40. http://drwright.blogspot.com/ A blog written by Dr. Letitia S. Wright, D.C. – host of the Wright Place TV Show, Co-Author of the Power of Mentorship for the Woman Entrepreneur and the Producer of the Power of Mentorship Movie.
  41. http://empowerwomennow.com/news-women-entrepreneurs/  The Entrepreneur and Small Business Owner’s Internet Branding Line-up with Ponn M Sambra.
  42. http://inspired.entrepreneur.com/ One of the man cool blogs sponsored by Entrepreneur magazine.
  43. http://www.getentrepreneurial.com/ A small business blog dedicated to providing business advice and resources to our community of aspiring entrepreneurs.
  44. http://www.julielenzerkirk.com/index.nhtml  Julie Lenzer Kirk harnesses her experience as a successful and award-winning IT entrepreneur to assist others in realizing their dream of entrepreneurship and taking their already-established entrepreneurial companies to the next level.
  45. http://mindpetals.com/blog/2006/11/20-hot-resources-for-women-entrepreneurs/ Mind Petals  put together a great list of resources for women entrepreneurs. “Women entrepreneurs are doing big things in the world of entrepreneurship, helping to shape the new direction of technology, innovation, and startups.”
  46. http://elizabethpottsweinstein.com/ You’ll find essays on being a working mom, tips about opening your own business, time management strategies, book and product reviews, and updates on Elizabeth Poss Weinstein’s business & life.
  47. http://realwomen.wordpress.com/ The REAL Women site is an online community for Rising Entrepreneurs And Like-minded women whether practising or aspiring to run their own business.
  48. http://www.weblogmv.com/ A Professional & Personal Development Blog for Entrepreneurial Women – Creating a Space for Success in Your World!
  49. http://www.blogher.com/ The community for women who blog. BlogHer’s mission is to create opportunities for women who blog to pursue exposure, education, community and economic empowerment. 
  50. http://icanhascheezburger.com/ (This site is to renew your humor—the creator of this blog just got a national publishing deal with a $300,000 advance to write about how he made this blog into the success it is today…he makes tens of thousands each month….and it’s hysterical! Check it out and have a laugh on a brilliant idea!)

When you explore and post to these, as you see fit, tell them SmartWoman sent you. Please be sure to post your feedback about the sites here too. 

Let’s connect with others who are working for the same goals we are!

Together, we are stronger.
Vicki Flaugher, the original SmartWoman