Follow Up Success: Top 10 Marketing Blogs

Last week I was asked to create a Top 10 blog list for blogs.com.  I thought for a brief moment on what segment of blogs I would include and decided to focus on Marketing Blogs (and a few distractions).  These are blog s that I read on a consistent weekly basis for many reasons…  Some of them for the great content, a few are friends, and of course Gary Vaynerchuck for great ideas, content, and the constant reminder to be passionate for what I am doing!  So here is my Top 10 Blogs showcased on blogs.com:

Find the best blogs at Blogs.com.

Top 10 Marketing Blogs (and a few distractions)

  1. DoshDosh – written by, Maki
  2. Duct Tape Marketing – written by, John Jantsch – founder of Duct Tape Marketing
  3. Gary Vaynerchuck – written by, Gary Vaynerchuck – founder of Wine Library TV
  4. Life of a Founder – written by, Jimmy Hendricks – founder of Collar Free
  5. Never Eat Alone Blog – written by, Keith Ferrazzi – author of Never Eat Alone
  6. Profit Minute – written by, Rod Moore, founder of Profit Minute
  7. Seth’s Blog – written by, Seth Godin – author of many best selling marketing books including his newest must read: Tribes
  8. Six Figure Moms Club – written by, Angie Swartz – founder of Six Figure Moms Club, author, and Executive Coach
  9. The Big Idea Blog – mirrors The Big Idea show on CNBC by Donny Deutsch
  10. copyblogger – written by, Brian Clark – copyblogger is one of the world’s 50 most powerful blogs

Take a look at my Top 10 blogs and let me know what you think.  Do you have a favorite Marketing Blog you read?  Do you have a must read blog not on this list?  Make sure to leave a comment so I can see one of your favorite blogs, it might just become one of my favorites as well.

A few last thoughts on my Top 10 Marketing Blogs.  Last week when I was given the opportunity to submit my Top 10 list I could of easly decided not to.  I was in the middle of many projects and really did not have the time to take on anything more.  At the last minute I made it a priority and sent in my list for review.  As a result my Top 10 list was selected and featured on blogs.com.  By taking action and giving priority to this simple project I have received more exposure to my business and blog not to mention each of the blogs in my Top 10.  The benifits to the added exposure will lead to stronger relationships, referrals, and clients.  My questions to you are, “What simple tasks or projects are right in front of you?  What projects could you complete that might give you more exposure and potential clients?”.  You have opportunities in front of you right now!  Look for the easy to ignore and simple tasks in front of you and make a point to complete them today!

SWOT Analysis: Identifying Your Threats

Last week I talked about opportunities, following up from my post on SWOT Analysis:  Simple Tool to Improve Your Business.  If you missed one of these previous posts it may be best to go back and review them in order.

Today I will review our discussion on Threats (the “T” in SWOT) as it applies to my business as well as the 15 other small and mid size companies in the exercise.  The discussion on Threats was led by Angie Swartz, Executive Coach and Founder of Six Figure Moms Club.  Angie opened the analysis with a brief discussion on threats.  Angie quoted from Wikipedia’s definition of threats:  “Threats: external conditions which could do damage to the business’s performance”.

The group had the following ideas to think about before our discussion insuring each person was prepared to discuss possible threats:

What is your competition offering that you are not?
Are competitive businesses moving into your area?
Are economic trends changing your customer spending habits?
What social trends are impacting your business?

Angie then opened it up to the group for discussion asking members to discuss their discovered threats.  Here is some of the discussion:

  • Justin Stewart, Customer Service Supervisor with San Diego National Bank talked about his larger institutions undercutting the value of what his bank can offer and the negative perception and distrust of financial companies in the current market.  Leon Alchalel Investment Realtor with Keller Williams added while this is a threat it is also an opportunity because more people and businesses are looking for service the larger institutions cannot offer.  Justin also added that while the larger bank institutions are getting a lot of negative publicity, San Diego National Bank is financially very strong which attracts new clients looking for financially strong institutions.
  • Katina Jackson, Independent Associate with Pre-Paid Legal said her biggest threat is the amount of Pre-Paid Legal representatives in her market.  Art Kriegsmann, President of H.R. Servs., Inc. asked if there was a way to separate herself from the other Pre-Paid Legal representatives?  Katina stated she focuses on seniors working within that niche market.  She also does a lot of networking events and then follows up with each of them creating a stronger connection.  This connection leads to more clients and referrals.

I found identifying my threats the most difficult part in the SWOT Analysis.  I look at threats as a negative which I typically stay away from.  Looking at negative influences around me is like adding fuel to a fire that I am choosing not to see.  With that said I also realize the need to be aware of both the positive and negative around me to help identify potential opportunities.  So with much thought the main threat I have identified is the perception of the businesses and sales professionals I work with.

Right now, most small business owners are cutting back on all marketing and advertising like appreciation campaigns, referral strategies, and follow up systems, as this is a simple fix to cash flow problems. The current economy amplifies the creativity in coming up with a great excuse not to do it implement new marketing and advertising ideas.  The reality is now is the best time to implement these types of strategies!  Implementing strategies like this will not only bring in new customers now it will also propel the growth of the company for years to come.

The following are examples of threats that might me affecting your business right now:

  • As a business owner or sales professional, when competitors move into your area that is a threat.
  • When internet companies focus on your target market or your area, this is a threat.
  • When economic trends change, this could be a threat.  When social trends change like Baby Boomers leaving the workforce and Generation Y moves into the workforce, this could be a threat to you.

I encourage you to be aware of these threats and discover creative ways to react to them.  Remember threats can be looked at as a negative or you can see them for an opportunity to create positive change, the choice is yours.

SWOT Analysis: Exploring Your Opportunities

Last week I talked about weaknesses, following up from my post on SWOT Analysis: Simple Tool to Improve Your Business. If you missed one of these previous posts it may be best to go back and review them in order.

SWOT Analysis: Simple Tool to Improve Your Business
SWOT Analysis: Defining Your Strengths
SWOT Analysis: Acknowledging Your Weaknesses

Today I will review our discussion on Opportunities (the “O” in SWOT) as it applies to my business as well as the 15 other small and mid size companies in the exercise. The discussion on Opportunities was led by Rufino Autus, Independent Financial Planner for Autus Financial Group. Rufino started out the discussion with a brief over view of SWOT Opportunities. Opportunities are things that are external, things that are happening around you which you can capitalize on in the current business climate. The group had the following ideas to think about before our discussion insuring each person was prepared to discuss possible opportunities:

  • Where are the good opportunities facing you?
  • What trends are happening around you that your company can capitalize on?
  • What changes in technology have a positive effect on your business?
  • What changes in industry standards or government policy impact your business?
  • How can changes in social patterns, population profiles, aging consumers, and lifestyles change how you approach new customers?

Rufino then opened it up to the group for discussion asking members to share their discovered opportunities. Here is some of the discussion:

  • Kerry Klindtworth, a realtor with Keller Williams talked about how it’s a buyer’s market. It’s a great market to buy so she has changed her focus to buyers. She still loves taking listings because she is very good at selling homes but her focus is on buyers. Kerry also talked about everyone going green! With this in mind she has become a Certified Energy Specialist in the state of California. This means she can go into your home and provide you with CFL light bulbs for free from SDG&E. When she does a home inspection her appraisers do an energy audit on your home and tell you how to make your home more efficient. Kerry also talked about how one person turns 55 every 30 seconds so she is in the process of getting certified as a Senior Residential Specialist as well as getting her brokers license. We all agreed this was a great example of looking at your current opportunities and taking advantage of them.
  • Tammy Williams, a representative with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) highlighted one of her opportunities. Right now it’s the end of the fiscal year for most corporations and they are planning their budget for 2009. Now is the time to make contact with these corporations to make sure MADD is part of their budget for 2009.
  • Kraig Stahl, President of K.D. Stahl Construction Group talked about how the construction market has changed. Kraig talked about projects which used to have two or three bidders now have 12 and large building projects are slowing down dramatically. Kraig is focusing on tenant improvements, looking for companies that may be downsizing and need to change walls within an existing building or create new office spaces. Most of Kraig’s business comes from referrals, “not many people just look you up in the yellow pages”, so he is focusing on meeting new referral partners like architects, electrical engineers, and commercial brokers. Angie Swartz, founder of Six Figure Moms Club suggested using the words “we are flexible and agile” so referral sources know you are changing your businesses to adapt to the current market. Tammy added MADD is all about branding and by partnering with MADD you will set yourself apart from your competition. If you are one of those companies competing for the same customer look at ways to partner with non profits as a way to expose your brand.

So what were the opportunities I discovered? Now more than ever building relationships and following up with prospects and customers is the key to any marketing strategy. My opportunities are to help companies and sales professionals improve their relationships, creating connections with prospects who will allow me to review their follow up strategies. Through these meetings I can suggest ways to improve their strategies and help them implement new systems to capture referrals that are currently going to their competitors. So if you are reading this post and want to learn how to double your referrals in the next 90 days maybe your best next step would be simply calling me!

I found the opportunity process very positive. Hearing how the other members viewed their opportunities allowed me to explore deeper into what might be right in front of me but for some reason I was ignoring or just did not see. The power of this SWOT Analysis is amazing and I look forward to sharing the last part of this discussion next week. Our discussion for next week is Threats (the “T” in SWOT).

SWOT Analysis: Acknowledging Your Weaknesses

Last week I talked about strengths, following up from my post on SWOT Analysis:  Simple Tool to Improve Your Business.  If you missed one of these previous posts it may be best to go back and review them in order.

SWOT Analysis:  Simple Tool to Improve Your Business

SWOT Analysis: Defining Your Strengths

Today I will review our discussion on Weaknesses (the “W” in SWOT) as it applies to my business as well as the 15 other small and mid size companies in the exercise.  The discussion on Weaknesses was led by Alan Underkofler Blogger for Follow Up Success and Consultant on follow-up strategies for your business.  (that’s me!)  I started out the discussion just like the previous week.  A brief description on SWOT, and discussed how are we going to interact as a group, as well as setting some guidelines for the discussion.  I really stressed to everyone not to take the feedback personally but really look at the feedback and decide it it’s you or not you, is the weakness real or not real?  The more real and honest the weakness is the more value you will have with the SWOT Analysis.  The group had the following ideas to think about before our discussion insuring each person was prepared with at least four weaknesses:

  • What could you improve?
  • What should you avoid?
  • What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?
  • What factors lose you sales?
  • What would your clients say your weaknesses are?

I then picked a few people in the group to start sharing their weaknesses.  Here is some of the discussion:

  • Rufino Autus, Independent Financial Planner for Autus Financial group listed his weaknesses is as, organization skills, time management, procrastination, prioritizing call backs, and at times when meeting with clients he tends to over educate or give them too much information.  Kerry Klindtwoth, a Realtor with Keller Williams suggested hiring an assistant and committing to a calendar system.  The group also talked about the perceptions we have of Rufino and making sure they are in line with who he is or wants to be.
  • Owen Fabert, Consultant for Pampered Chef listed his weaknesses is as lack of organization, lack of self confidence, uncomfortable in a leadership roles, follow up, easily distracted, and listening.  Paula Sassi, owner of Handwriting Consultants International added “What you perceive of yourself is not how we perceive you” .  The group all agreed Owen is a leader and we could see no self confidence issues.  Angie Swartz, Executive Coach and Blogger for Six Figure Moms Club quoted Howard Schultz Chairman and CEO of Starbucks on the challenge of facing obstacles and doubt while working through something unfamiliar and uncomfortable, “There’s a fine line between self-doubt and self-confidence, and it’s even possible to feel both emotions simultaneously.  Back then, and often enough today, I could  be overwhelmed with insecurities, and at the same time have an abundance of self-assurance and faith.”  Angie points out most people striving for greatness have this same feeling.  It’s not that you are not a leader it’s that you are striving to grow yourself at all times.
  • Ted Pittman, Owner of T.L.E. Promotional Products listed his weaknesses as organization, some limits on capabilities, small size of company, procrastination, awareness of his company in the market.  I added one of the products Ted provides is corporate apparel and suggested he should be wearing logoed apparel to promote his brand and business.  Angie asked about sponsoring events and suggested donating products with his company logo on the products to create more awareness.

With this discussion on weaknesses, I found myself looking at different areas of my life, both business and personal, where all of these weaknesses have come up for me at one time or another.  Time management, clients and potential clients perception of me, talking too fast, and even working too much are all areas I am currently working on.  Listening to the other members of the group really allowed me to identify weaknesses from my past, reflecting on these past weaknesses is a great way to insure they do not show up again.

My last thought on this discussion of weaknesses is no matter what your weakness is you can change it.  If it’s truly a weakness you cannot change the easiest solution is to surround yourself with people that excel in your weakness.  If organization is a weakness for you, hire very organized people.  If time management is a weakness for you, identify your highest priorities and schedule them into your day.  We have solutions to each of our weaknesses, most times right in front of us.  Quoting my friend John Assaraf, founder of One Coach “hire people that play at things you are not good at”.

As we move along in our SWOT Analysis reflect on your newly discovered strengths and weakness.  You can start amplifying your strengths and eliminating your weaknesses anytime.  If you have started making changes in your business from reading about SWOT please share them with us by leaving a comment.

Next week our discussion will be on Opportunities (the “O” in SWOT).