Making the change….

Slowly I am making the move into social media consulting. I’m not trying to make the change to rapidly, as this is a key move for my business. I do have the marketing plan just about done, thankfully. Then comes the REAL fun! Making revenue projections….YAY!

But, I have to admit that I am excited about this new direction I am going in. It is an exciting area that I enjoy working in. I have managed to raise my Klout score from a 12 to a 24 in a little over a week. I am getting more and more engagement on my Twitter account. And my LinkedIn network is getting larger.

Hoping to start actually fully promote the new service in February. Going to start some Beta testing next week to get some feedback on what business owners are actually looking for from their social media. Fingers crossed I get some great feedback.

Navigating A Pivot Point

Pivot Points In Small Business

Making the choice to change direction

That critical time in every business has come for me. Do I stay on the path that I have been going or make a change in direction? This decision is always a very important one that should not be made on a whim. My old mantra holds true here: DO YOUR RESEARCH.

With my business, I started out just providing virtual assistant services which then expanded into customer service which expanded into marketing which expanded into social media management. All this expansion was done without really looking at whether or not it would benefit my business cause I was just happy to have work coming through the door. But, I have realized I have lost focus of what my business stands for. Is this where I want my business to go?

Than answer was a loud and resonating “NO”. This was not the direction I wanted my business to go when I started it, nor is it where I want to continue on going. So time for a major pivot point. The question then became “Which way?”. This was a bit more difficult to answer and took some major consideration.

I have decided to keep to the basis of the name RI Business Solutions. I’m changing my target market to a more local geographic region and plan on working with very small businesses (less than 25 employees). I understand their needs and have the experience to help them.

The services will be internet marketing including website development (including mobile sites), social media management, search engine optimization, and content development. This is the direction that the world is moving and it can be an overwhelming experience for the typical small business owner to undertake on their own.

The major difference this time for me, I am doing my due diligence in creating a business plan for this pivot change. I’m doing the research to make sure I understand exactly where I want to go, how to get there, and what I will need for the trip.  I have even contacted the local SCORE chapter for some guidance and input.

So hopefully this new plan will work out.

 

Networking Event – Success or Failure?

Success or Failure?

Last Wednesday I attended a Network After Work event in Providence, RI. It was my first networking event and I didn’t know what to expect. Now I am not sure if it was a success or failure.

It wasn’t really what I expected. The other attendees were not what I would call my “target market“. Small business owners were few and far between. I was hoping to increase the awareness of my business in my local area as I am trying to transfer from using Elance to attracting clients directly.

Here is the “But”, I did meet some key people who could compliment my services. Hopefully by developing this new connections I can build a mutually beneficial relationship with this other service providers as we share a similar target market.

Question is: Would that be a good idea? Hence my dilemma. These key decisions are so important to a business. There are both Pros and Cons to this. Trying to weigh them out will prove to be difficult.

Overall though, I feel my first event was a success. I got a chance to practice my networking skills and find my tactic to start conversations. I did meet some interesting people and heard how others are handling their various jobs and businesses. So the learning experience was worth it.

I have already started looking for other events in my area. But I will be a little more particular of which events I will attend. Networking is definitely an important part of building a successful business, but you have to pay attention to which events you are attending. If the event is not going to meet your overall goals, then the time spent there will not be productive. And unproductive time spent is a loss for your business.

Networking event…. this should be interesting.

Learning How To Network

For a long time I have known that I needed to actually leave the comfort of my computer chair and start interacting with live people. Over and over I have put it off, but the time has come…..the dreaded networking event.

I will be attending the Network After Work event in Providence, RI tomorrow night. I have my business cards ready to go. I’m fairly confident I know how to explain what I do (I hope). Part of prepping for this event was reading some articles on how to effectively network at an event, which was a REALLY good idea, as I came away with many things I never thought about.

The most difficult part of this for me is going to be remembering peoples names. I can remember passwords to a dozen different sites, but tell me your name and it will be gone from memory in minutes. Hopefully everyone will be wearing their name tags, cause I will be needing them.

I’m mostly looking at this as a learning experience. It will be interesting hearing from small business owners and what their concerns for the future are. Getting some much needed insight will help me better prepare for the pivot point I plan on making come the new year (more on that later).

Anyways, I would love to hear some stories (both good and bad) of how others have managed networking events. They say that misery loves company!

 

5 Amazing Stats of mobile usage

phone.jpg

More and more people are using this!

 

I was doing some research on the increasing usage of mobile smartphones and the numbers I found were staggering. Just American smartphone ownership has increased from 93.1 million in 2011 to 116 million in 2012. Imagine what the numbers will be for 2013?

Some other stats I found are:

  1. 4 out of 5 Americans use their smartphone to shop
  2. 70% of mobile searches lead to an action within 1 hour
  3. 75% of Americans admit to bringing their smartphone to the bathroom
  4. 40% of mobile users will choose another result if it is not mobile friendly
  5. 60% of all mobile searches are done on smartphones.

This is a market that cannot be ignored by any business owner. The potential of loss business is exponentially growing every year. It has reached a point of either get on board or get left behind. But this isn’t a market where you just want to go with the first solution you come across. Make sure to do your research of what is available to meet your specific business’s needs. Just cause something worked for someone else does not mean it is right for you.

Need more of a reason to start thinking about your  mobile marketing needs? Just watch this video:

If all this does not convince you to start getting your business ramped up for mobile maketing, I do not know what will.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have or just to discuss the future of the mobile market.

* Statistics can be found at:

The 5 Fundamental Pillars of Mobile Marketing For 2014

Retailers Carving Out Space in M-Commerce Market

Mobile Behavior Big Game Seating (a study with Surveymonkey)

 

Growth of the Mobile Market

Importance of a Mobile Marketing Strategy

Importance of a Mobile Marketing Strategy

T-Mobile’s 4G LTE Network Now Covers 154 U.S. Markets

 

A report by Mobile Marketing Watch says that T-Mobile, America‘s 4th largest carrier, is making strides in catching up in the mobile service provider industry. Their 4G LTE network now reaches 180 million people in 154 U.S. markets and are on target to expand that to 200 million people by the end of 2013. They currently have 17 devices that work on their LTE network and soon will be adding the Apple iPhone 5C & 5S to that lineup.

What does this mean for your business? It shows the growing importance of having an effective mobile marketing plan in place. As the speed of mobile networks increase, so will the number of people utilizing their mobile device for research and shopping. If your not in a position to take advantage of this shift, then you really should start working towards it. 

Their are several ways to manage your mobile marketing strategy. You can build custom apps for each phones operating system or go with a mobile optimized website. Their are also companies that combine the two aspects.

If you would like more information or some helpful hints on choosing a system that will work for you, please feel free to contact me at domenic.marchetti@cox.net.

Falling into a new start-up….

Not sure if this has ever happened to anybody else… but I sort of fell into a new start-up this past week. A friend of mine was having problems with his PC and I offered to help him out. Then he called and said a friend that needed help with his laptop, which in turn he had some friends that needed help. Next thing I know I am opening up a computer repair business called Artic Computer Repair, hence the lack of a post for a few days.

I can not really complain cause my original company (RI Business Solutions) is staying afloat, but that is about it. Past couple of weeks I haven’t been able to gain any traction on getting new clients. So having this new source of income is a welcome addition.

Now though comes the hard part. Do I keep both companies running and split my time 50/50? Do I focus more on doing the computer repair and let the virtual assisting business just stay afloat the way it is? Or do I just put RI Business Solutions on hold for now?

I’m going to try and run both for a little while cause I do have some up with the Artic Computer Repair, but if it gets too busy I will have to make some tough decisions. I put a lot of hard work into RI Business Solution over these past 6 months and I would hate to have to let it go. But, in a sense, I guess I am at a pivot point in my life. I’ll have to choose a direction to focus on and go with it.

5 Tips On Determining Your Target Market

Whether your planning on starting a small business or have already started, a crucial item is knowing who your target market is. Most likely you have already spent a lot of time planning your business (hopefully). A big part of that planning should include deciding who will be focus of your marketing efforts. Everybody wants as many people as possible to know about their product or service. But the more customers you want to reach, the more time and money it will take in order to reach them. Defining a target market might feel overwhelming to you, but just remember that it is a crucial part of your overall business plan. Selecting a target market will also help save you time and money in the long run. By focusing on a certain demographic of people who might be interested in your products or services will allow you to communicate with that segment more effectively.

Here’s how to get started:

1.) Review Your Business Plan –  Think about the needs that your products or services fulfill. Think about what makes your business different other companies providing similar products or services.  Now think about who might be interested and have a need for what you are offering. As you consult your business plan and decide who you want your audience to be, remember that it is ultimately about the customer. Don’t think about who you would like to sell to, think about who is looking for the products and services you offer.

2.) Conduct Research – You can begin by using secondary market research. Some sources you can use are:

US Economic Census

Encyclopedia Of Associations

ASAE

The best part of using secondary research is that someone has already done the work. Plus, most of the information is free. A shortfall of this information is that it may not be 100% useful for your business. No matter what, it is always a good idea to do some research. Trying to do marketing without the proper research is like throwing money out the window.

3.) Develop A Customer Profile –  This is an in-depth description of who your typical customer may be and includes demographic information that include age, gender, location, ethnic background, marital status, income, and more. It should also include psychographic information. Psychographic information goes beyond basic demographics and identifies more about a customer’s interests, hobbies, values, attitudes behaviors, lifestyle, buying patterns and more. Both of these types of information are crucial for developing your customer profile. Demographic information is used to identify who will buy your product or service and pychographic information will explain why they may buy your product or service.

4.) Find Out How To Connect – After you have identified who your target market is, you will need to find out how to connect to them. You will need to find out what kind of websites they visit and which social networks they use most often. Are they constantly on their mobile device? Do they use a lot of apps?  Do they read papers or magazines? If so, what papers or magazine do they read? By knowing this information and putting it into your customer profile will help you know how best to spend your marketing dollars.

5.) Monitor Your Marketing Efforts – The work doesn’t stop after you have determined your target market and have a plan in place to reach them. Marketing is a continuing evolving system that requires constant monitoring. You will want to know how your current marketing is working, what you can do to improve it, and how you plan to market into the future. Part of this is being aware of how your customers are evolving as people. Have ways of tracking your sales, quality assurance, requests for more information, and more.This is the information that will help you stay on top of trends, patterns, and areas that need improvement. All of which will change as your business grows.

What is success?

What is success?

I’m sure a lot of people were like me when they first started off with their own business. We had a clear vision of what we were going to do and where we wanted to be. In our mind we connected a straight line from the starting point of our business to our success point.

Then when you get into the thick of things you suddenly realize that not everything will work out as planned. Our straight path to success becomes a curvy road filled with potholes, speed traps, and road construction. We are forced to take detours from our original plan to account for the things we didn’t see coming.

I have learned that you need to be able to recognize a pivot point in your business. A place where you need to make a choice to either change direction or keep going on your current path. These decisions will be difficult to make because they sometimes take you in a direction away from your view of success.

When I first started RI Business Solutions (see my first post), my view was to solely perform virtual administrative assistance services. 6 months later and I am doing sales of a mobile marketing platform and customer service. I’m in the process of establishing a call center in Pakistan to be better able to compete in the customer service industry. I have ended up going in a totally different direction then I had originally anticipated.

Does this mean I failed to succeed? I don’t think so. In a sense I have already succeeded because I was able to change my direction to meet the needs of my clients. If I stayed focused on my original plan of success, then I would have failed. But by changing the type of services I provided, I am able to keep my business moving forward. The direction of the movement makes no difference, long as the movement is forward. And forward movement is successful movement.

 

 

There is only one boss…the customer.

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.

Sam Walton

This quote holds true on so many different levels. Without our customers, we have no business. That is why it is so important to remember to keep the customers needs in mind whenever making a business decision.

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