Lead4112222 begins the second quarter of the year with a lot of excitement for DC, as the company announces the list of Hottest Companies in the DC area.
As part of the Lead411 teams daily tasks, they go through more than 600 pages of press releases, as well as venture capital funding news, business articles, and more. This particular list originated from a total of 389 organizations/companies, and has been minimized to the top 24.
It’s unfortunate that so many startups and small businesses spend so much time focusing on promotions and so little time on branding. Branding, in my mind, is the foundation of any solid marketing strategy. It’s what causes your customers to see your business in a certain light. Maria Ross, author of Branding Basics for Small Business, does an excellent job of breaking down branding and offering useful exercises that help small businesses apply it to their own needs.
Creating Your Branding Strategy
Ross offers questions readers can ask themselves to help determine their company’s competitive advantages and brand positioning, as well as examples of other small businesses who are successfully branding themselves. Read More
If you’ve read one book about social media marketing, you’ve read them all, right? Not so. Trust me. Because I read a lot of books about using tools like Twitter, Facebook, Google +, YouTube and LinkedIn for marketing. The ones I don’t like cover high concepts and don’t dig into the how-to, the nitty gritty.
But Social Media Marketing eLearning Kit for Dummies by Phyllis Khare is one that does break it down for you. In the book, Khare explains how each of these tools (as well as geolocation tools, which don’t get nearly enough attention in other books) help small businesses, and then she explains how to use them. In the style of the other “for Dummies” books, you certainly don’t need to be a Dummy to get something out of this book.
Some business owners will do anything to increase profits. Others are working in a field because they genuinely love sharing their knowledge. Still other entrepreneurs are always looking for their next move in the business world. And some simply love inventing and innovating. No two entrepreneurs are alike, but Joe Abraham has identified four basic profiles that most business owners fit into in his book, Entrepreneurial DNA: The Breakthrough Discovery that Aligns Your Business to Your Unique Strengths. See which one best describes you.
The Builder DNA
If you’re driven and always looking to be several steps ahead of your competitors, you may be a Builder. Builders like to create businesses and sell them. They’re not in it for the long haul; instead they’re looking for an exit strategy. They love working, and don’t mind risk. They like to be in control and helping to solve problems. Builders do well in high-growth companies and startups.
On the flip side, Builders don’t like being out of control, and they don’t like it when results fall short of expectations.
I just finished reading The Welcomer Edge by Richard Shapiro, and I got a lot out of it about customer service. We’ve all come to expect our experiences with call center reps, cashiers and customer service agents to be bad, based on the fact that many of them are. But think back to one or more times where you were pleasantly surprised by your interaction at a business. Maybe the cashier asked how your day was going (and meant it). Maybe when you called a customer service hotline, you actually got to speak to a friendly human being. Whatever your experience, I bet it stuck out in your mind.
Shapiro calls these people “Welcomers.” They’re the ones who make you want to return to that business. The ones that make you feel at home in a store. The people who make a business successful. He says that no matter what type of business you have, you can have Welcomers on your staff.
I love reading business books. I glean a bit from every one that I read, and each book influences what I write. I like giving you some of my recent favorites, so here goes!
1. Think Write Grow by Grant Butler
My favorite form of marketing is content marketing, something I’ve always said helps establish you as an expert in your field. Whether you call it an expert or thought leader, it all boils down to one thing: more sales and a level of trust with clients you can’t get through advertising. Butler outlines some of the most effective types of content marketing in his book, Think Write Grow. He discusses the aim of blog posts, books, whitepapers, essays and speaking engagements, and provides useful tips for getting started. The latter half of the book provides useful tips on writing in general; great for both beginners and seasoned writers.
I like reading about topics I’m weak in. For me, that’s the more technical side of SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. So when I picked up the behemoth book, Search Engine Optimization All-in-One for Dummies, by Bruce Clay and Susan Esparza, I knew I’d learn a thing or two. This is actually 10 books in 1, which explains its 700+ pages. I recommend using it as a reference book and picking the sections you want to work on as you go.
If you’re new to using SEO as a way to be found by search engines, the first book, How Search Engines Work, will demystify SEO and the terms it uses. It’s not complicated, actually, and Clay and Esparza do a great job of breaking it down for newbies. If you’re ready to move on to more advanced tactics, read Keyword Strategy and Optimizing the Foundations. The authors provide the tools you need to see where your keywords currently rank, as well as determine what you can do to improve your search engine rankings.
Deciding whether to start a business is a difficult decision, especially if you don’t know any business owners to give you advice. Fortunately, there are lots of resources found in blogs, books and social media. I recently read Making the Jump into Small Business Ownership by David Nilssen and Jeff Levy. It’s designed to be used in a college setting, but it’s also an excellent read for anyone considering starting a business.
Why I Liked It
If I were to sit down and make a list of all the considerations you’d need to think about in starting a business…I’d have this book. It covers everything from the emotional decision (it addresses fear and risk) to financial and administrative details. Its asks hard questions that give you a sense of what you’d need to withstand if you launch a business, as well as provides details on every area of starting a business you need to know.
I’m reading The Effortless Yes by Julie Steelman, and am getting a lot out of the book about how to tailor my sales strategy.
I found it interesting that she categorizes customers to have one of three buying personalities. I can definitely see each of my clients fitting into one of these categories.
1. The Crystal Clear Buyer
Oh, we love the Crystal Clear Buyer. She knows exactly what she wants and makes the decision to purchase quickly and efficiently. They ask the right questions and respond to you providing answers. When they’re ready to buy, the process is fairly painless. We want more of these!
How to Work with a Crystal Clear Buyer
The best thing you can do in talking to one of these people is to exude confidence, says Steelman. Explain the benefit of working together, and be enthusiastic about working together. Create a dialogue, and don’t do all the talking.
I’m always giving people marketing advice. I can’t help it. So when I saw Brendon Burchard’s The Millionaire Messenger: Make a Difference and a Fortune Sharing Your Advice, I knew I had to read it. Burchard is the founder of Experts Academy, and helps turn people into consultants, so he knows his stuff. He gives great advice on becoming an expert in the book. His tips:
- Find a topic people find valuable
- Research it
- Interview others on it
- Synthesize what you learn
- Offer your findings for sale so others can learn and improve their lives