If My Action Items Don't Work For You, I'll Cut You a Check
The economy stinks right now. We hear about it all the time, way too much if you ask me. I make it a point not to listen to all of the negativity. Nevertheless, reality is what reality is, no matter what you listen to. But enough of that. Whether you are just starting your business or you've been around the block a few times, these 3 action steps will strengthen your business in any economy. And that's a promise from me. I've done 2 of these 3 things with a special vengeance over the past few months (the third will launch this week) and the difference in my business has been phenomenal. More focus. More fun. More business. More profit.
So here's a challenge. If you have been operating your online business steadily for at least a year, you are already on Twitter and have an active blog, I challenge you to do each of these 3 things for 3 solid months, and do them consistently and well (yes, I am the person who determines "consistently and well"), and if you don't see sales increase, I'll give you $100. See? No matter what, even if you lose, you win!
Action Step No. 1: Create a Cause
Engaging in cause marketing is a smart way to attract new people into your circle of influence. People connect with causes they care about, and if you genuinely care about making the world a better place, you are either already connected to a cause or you know someone who is. Find a simple yet powerful way to incorporate that cause into your outreach efforts and then tell people about it. A few ideas:
- Interview an executive at the non-profit organization you connect with. Ask her about the organization and why it's important. Ask her to disclose how the organization handles donations. Share the cause and why you are connected to it. Ask your readers to consider making a donation or doing something in their own community to help in the efforts. Over the next several months, include photos at your blog of you or others being involved in the cause. Ask your readers to share their thoughts in your blog. Ask them to share how they are using their blog and business to make the world a better place.
- Launch a product that donates proceeds directly to a worthy cause. Don't just use pink ribbons or red dresses. Those are nice but it's important to be original. Make something up yourself. It doesn't have to be complicated or time consuming. For example, if you make jewelry, create a special piece every month and donate it to a woman at a local shelter. Take a photo of the woman who gets the piece and share it at your blog along with her story and her thoughts on how the special piece of jewelry you made lifts her spirits. There may be confidentiality issues at shelters, so maybe just take a picture of her ear and a part of her head, displaying the earring. Use a pseudonym and share some of her story. Inspire your readers to help in their areas.
These are just suggestions, but the idea is to allow your business to trigger a unique emotional response in others. Again, I must stress the importance of authenticity. People will see right through you if all you are trying to do is manipulate them or use a worthy cause to selfishly line your own pockets.
Action Step No. 2: Ditch the Losers
In business, this should be done constantly, but sometimes, we need reminders. Discontinue all underachieving products. This means getting rid of everything you lost money on during the last 12 months. And I mean everything. Dump all products, services and activities that you can't trace a direct or indirect positive financial outcome too. I say "indirect" because I don't want you to get the impression that I am saying you should dump everything you can't directly trace a dollar to. It would be foolish, for example, to stop blogging because you can't trace a blog post to your shopping cart. You may need to blog differently, but stop blogging? I would never suggest such a thing.
What I am suggesting is that you get rid of everything that's frustrating your efforts. Ditch products with thin profit margins that undercut your bottom line. Discontinue services that are more expensive to offer than they are to provide. Abandon the things that routinely give you migraine headaches. Get rid of things that are diverting your attention from your core, and offering little to no return for your bottom line. If it's not selling, and selling quite well, get rid of it.
Action Step No. 3: Mine the Gold
Once you eliminate the riff raff, mine the treasure left behind. This means taking aim at the core of your business — the glue that holds everything together — pulling the hammer back and firing away.
Every business has certain top performing products — things that sell no matter what the state of the economy. Make these top products the focus of your marketing efforts. Choose the products by looking at your bottom line. Can you produce a lot of them in a short period of time? Can you produce better quality product photos of your most popular products? Can you set up your shopping cart to "upsell" these popular items? When you have made special efforts to promote them in the past, have they sold well? If the answer is yes, repeat the special efforts again. Can you connect them to your cause? (See #1 above.) Do they have a big profit margin? Can you quickly request and post customer testimonials about them?
Post at least one video about your business at your YouTube page, your newsletter, your blog and everywhere else you have a social presence. Make sure you do this. After all, the media is you and there's no sense in doing all of this stuff if you don't tell everyone about it.
Just doing these things isn't enough. You have to tell people that you're doing them. And you have to tell them a lot . A whole lot.
It's a lot of work, I know. But these are things we should all be doing anyway. I'm not suggesting that we can ignore a bad economy. What I am suggesting is that we can respond to it in a way that makes it less likely that it will hurt our bottom line. No matter what, the last thing you want to do is nothing, right?
Try these 3 steps. Of course, to participate, you have to be a subscriber to my blog as of November 25, 2008, and you must stay subscribed throughout the 3-month period. If you need help, contact me and I'll help. Give it your best shot and then shout what you are doing from the rooftops. Ask your fellow bloggers to tell their readers what you are doing. Twitter about it. Blog about it. Put it in your newsletter.
If you do these things and your business does not improve, at least you can get $100 to spend on something else you need in your business.
Question: What do you think of these proactive steps? Am I off the mark? Are you going to try them? Do you think I'll be writing lots of checks for $100?