Archive for April, 2008

Rain Making – 2nd Edition

I posted recently about Chapter 3 of the book Rain Making by Ford Harding.  It was great to hear directly from Ford (see the comments to that blog) about the second edition of Rain Making.  After a thorough read let me first emphasize that the revised chapter on networking (now chapter 8 ) is in-and-of itself worth the purchase of the book.  Below is a review of Rain Making – 2nd Edition I wrote for the SMPS DC book club:

Rain Making
Attract New Clients No Matter What Your Field – 2nd Edition

Rain Making is a book for professionals who are interested in learning how to develop their career. Its easy to understand focus on marketing tactics and strategies makes it an excellent tool for developing successful marketing strategies for an individual or company.

The term “Rain Maker” has been around for years. It is often used, rarely understood, and almost never implemented properly. Rain Making addresses the fundamentals of what makes a rain maker, from building business and developing relationships, to creating new jobs. The focus is not simply on understanding how to become a rain maker, but how to clearly identify a path for implementation.

The 2nd edition of Rain Making is divided into four sections: Marketing Tactics: How Professionals Build Reputations and Generate Leads; Building a Network: How Professionals Develop a Sustainable Source of Leads; Sales Tactics: How Professionals Advance and Close a Sale; and From Tactics to Strategy: What Works and What Doesn’t.

The first section on Marketing Tactics is a ‘must read’ for individuals looking for a fresh and relevant perspective on building business. It clearly articulates the various types of marketing tactics, their purpose, and their proper use.

The second section on Building a Network contains simply the best chapter I have read on Networking. If you have time to read only one chapter in a book this next year, this is the chapter I would recommend. It provides an easy-to-use approach to networking that is worth the purchase of the book in and of itself.

The third section on Sales Tactics gives a great review of the basics of sealing the deal, including presentations, writing a proposal, and quoting a fee.

The final section, Strategy: What Works and What Doesn’t, carefully articulates plans for both individuals and corporations that are intertwined with a sense of purpose and strategy. The section is written towards what can be done today, not simply lofty plans for the future that will be forgotten in a week.

So, if you are looking for a book that will motivate and educate you on the tactics and strategy for becoming a Rain Maker, and provide you with useful tidbits that you can start the day you finish reading, I highly recommend Rain Making by Ford Harding.

Networking the Right Way

I just read a great article by Ellen Talley of The New Parcraft and Designweave in Building Long Island entitled “Network? Of Course.  But Try it Without the Net.”

In her article Ellen tells this story:

I’d made an appointment to meet with an interior designer who had recently switched to a firm located in Long Island City and was looking forward to getting reacquainted.  I dragged my wares through the rain and up a long flight of stares to her office, in an old warehouse building.  Drenches and exhausted I was greeted at the top by a young man looking at me quizzically.  While I waited for my friend, he explained he was the principal of the firm and said, “You look familiar.”  And so ensued a where-are-you-from game.

An exchange of bios didn’t uncover a connection so I gave a brief recap:  “You are from Jersey, I’m from Long Island, you went to school in Philly, I went to Boston…”  “Where in Boston?” “Tufts,” I said.  “That’s it!” he announced.  I’d thought he’d gone to Penn, but it turned out that was for his architecture degree, and he had graduated from Tufts a year after me.  That established, we discovered that one of my housemates was his best friend.  My new friend’s excitement was contagious-he even sent our mutual acquaintance an e-mail on the spot.  I was equally excited: I had a new business relationship!”

What I like about Ellen’s story is her focus on the development of a new relationship.  Notice that Ellen didn’t start by giving an elevator pitch or trading business cards with the principal, rather she focused on making a connection.  Good networkers know that when you start by making a connection, rather than a sales pitch, the rest will follow.

If you would like to connect with Ellen she can be reached at:

Ellen Talley
The New Patcraft & Designweave
PO Box 2128
Dalton, GA 30722
800.713.6997 x5188

ellen.talley(at)patcraftdesignweave.com
TheNewPatcraftDesignweave.com

It’s Just Business

The phrase “It’s Just Business” has become an accepted way to dehumanize important decisions. The reality is that it is simply not wise to devalue the importance of relationships even when faced with difficult business decisions. We cannot suddenly stop making important business decisions, but neither should we selectively disregard the importance of relationships when making those decisions. To succeed in the long run we need to make people, not business, the primary focus of our decision-making process.

It is a small world
This past year our company celebrated its 30-year anniversary with an open house to which we invited back as many of our previous employees as we could track down. We were surprised by what we found. Most of our previous employees were still in the industry; many were leaders of change affecting our business every day; and dozens were now our clients.

Sound Business Decisions
Looking at how these former employees impact our company reinforces the importance of these relationships. Sound business decisions should consider not only immediate needs of the company, but also the company’s future, which largely depends on a culture of trusted relationships. Business decisions made with the “it’s just business” philosophy embrace the faulty premise that the company is more important than people. By making decisions that are best for people we strengthen our companies and build teams that believe in our decisions and leadership even after individual team members depart.

 

Marketing in a Recession – Part 2

“Over two-thirds (72 per cent) of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are now expecting a recession. However, under one third (28 per cent) have rewritten or adapted their marketing plan to prepare for it, according to research from marketing company New Brand Vision.

Ben Harris, MD of New Brand Vision, says: ‘Many SMEs were not in business during the last recession and won’t anticipate how they could be affected. It’s worrying that, with so many firms expecting a downturn, so few are actually taking steps to plan for it.'”

 Growth Business

How is it that so many firms believe we are headed for (or are currently in) a recession, yet so few are willing to adapt their marketing plans to effectively manage their future?  The reality is that most firms choose to “hold on tight” through a recession rather than proactively adapt to the changing market.  In my last post on Marketing in a Recession we discussed the ways that a firm can refine and reshape their marketing program.  I received numerous e-mails and calls from many of you discussing how you have effectively refined and reshaped your business (or plan to now) to meet the changing market.  Based on these discussions I wanted to pass along some additional resources that I hope you will find helpful: 

Marketing in a Recession: Additional Resources

The Canadian Marketing Association has a great post entitled: Recession-Proof Your Business: Focus on Current Customers

Ivan Misner in his blog Networking Now has a must read post entitled I Refuse to Participate in a Recession.

I like Wendi McGowan‘s 5-steps in her post on Recession Proof Your Business

Mark Riffey has a post from this morning on his blog Business is Personal relating to developing a plan for your business

For those of you in the A/E/C industry, let me refer you to Construction Marketing Ideas where Mark Buckshon continues to post relevant posts everyday on marketing

Developing New Business Lines

“60% of small-business start-ups fail in their first six years. Large companies … divest or close 44% of their internally generated start-ups and 50% of their joint ventures in the first six years.”   – Harvard Business Review

Incorporated SignThere is a right way and a wrong way to establish a new business line. In a recent post I identified three keys that lead to success when Developing and Introducing a New Business Line. After much research I have also found it interesting that the most common approach to developing a new business line is also the most common factor leading to the failure of that service line. The reason is that the ‘most common approach’ is to identify a new service or product prior to identifying the problem that it solves. This approach often looks like this:

The ‘most common’ approach to developing a new Business Line
1. Identify a solution
2. Identify a problem
3. Identify a potential client that may need the solution
4. Sell the solution to the client
5. Define and refine the solution
6. Package the solution

Let me again note that, while this is the most common approach, it is not the most successful approach. Given the shocking statistics related to the failure of new service offerings, it is important to pursue new offerings utilizing the most effective means possible in order to mitigate the potential losses from the failure of that new business line. Because of this I would state that the proper approach is to identify a problem that needs to be solved, then identify a solution to that problem which your new business line can provide. This approach should look like this:

The most effective approach to develop a new Business Line:
1. Identify a problem that your existing clients have
2. Identify a solution to that problem
3. Define and refine the solution, ensuring that it is the most efficient solution
4. Package the solution
5. Market the solution

As you look to expand your company evaluate your approach to ensure that you are not just coming up with new ideas, but that you are first identifying the problems that your clients have and working to develop ways to solve those problems.