Thursday, October 29, 2015

Seven tips on launching a product

I’ve been back a day now from the three-day Product Launch Formula (PLF) event in Phoenix.

I have to confess that the first day back was dedicated to just catching up on sleep and getting over the jet lag, with a quick sweep through my inbox.

So today is really my first opportunity to reflect and examine what I actually learned.

Some of the information shared wasn’t new to me, but it never hurts to have the messages
repeated.   Here are some of the pointers from the event.

1.         Know your audience
Much time was spent digging deep and accurately identifying who your target audience is – or your avatar - and their biggest source of pain.   As Jeff Walker pointed out, you need to know and understand this before you can work on your “uber-promise” as getting your offer right is critical.   

You also need to know and understand your why.  Why are you doing what you are doing?  What is your motivation? What does success look like to you?

2.         Be clear on the transformation and end result
Really it is more about the transformation you will create for your customer rather than the actual stuff you will provide that is important. It’s about looking at what will be the end result after purchasing your product or service.

3.         Build the relationship
The actual launch is broken down into sections – the pre-launch component is when you are building your list, providing useful content and building a relationship and trust with your potential customer.

4.         Share your story
One way to establish a rapport with your audience is to share your story so that they can see you’ve been there and understand their challenges.

5.         Tackle potential objections head on
Part of your process in developing your material is to think about and tackle any objections they may have against making the purchase.  In other words, deal with the elephant in the room.  Where possible, use external proof to counter the objections.   

6.         Develop sales videos
While it doesn’t have to be video, it could be webinars, podcasts, videos give your audience a chance to see you in action. Don’t make the pitch in the first video, this is more about setting the stage. 

It is in the second video that you can start to talk more about the offer, what it entails, any bonuses and a call to action to make the purchase.  Have a deadline and stick to it.

7.         Bonus bundles
In order to entice people to sign up and use your products and/or services, it is recommended that you come up with some extra bonuses that can be awarded when someone signs on.  Now it doesn’t always have to be something you’ve done yourself, it could be that you partner up with someone else.  In fact lining up joint venture partners makes sense and can really work in your favour.  Just remember it is reciprocal, so you have to be prepared to do your part too.

It was fascinating to hear from different entrepreneurs who’d used Jeff’s winning formula and some had an instant success on their hands.  Kudos to them for taking the plunge and investing the time, because this does take time, thought and planning.

It was a busy three days, with great speakers and the people attending were from all over the world, which is always fun as you learn what works and what doesn’t in other countries.

What was my highlight?  There were a couple.  The first was seeing the video about the school in Kenya that was built through World Teacher Aid and sponsored by the PLF group last year, and the second was meeting Jennie. 

Funnily enough the day before leaving for Phoenix, I had said at our Oakville breakfast meeting that one way I recruit new members is through attending conferences and I joked that whoever sits next to me, joins.  Well I didn’t lie – Jennie, who is from Toronto, is now one of our newest members in Company of WomenJ

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Business lessons from the election

Like most Canadians, I am so glad this LONG election is over.  It became quite grueling at the end.  But, having said that, there were several business lessons to be gleaned from the whole process.

1.    The underdog sometimes wins
It was like David vs. Goliath in that right from the start, Trudeau was viewed as the long shot, “not ready” to quote the advertising campaigns. And compared to the big budgets of the Conservative party, the Liberal and NDP Parties were the poor cousins and had less to spend on their campaigns.  Yet, the Liberals won.

So in small business terms, it is a bit like us competing for a contract against a larger company.  Who’s to say we won’t win it.  Being smaller means we can be more nimble and flexible to the requirements and are used to achieving much with a small budget.

2.    Attitude matters
Regardless of your political stripe, I suspect you may agree that some of the campaigns were negative and divisive, focusing on what their competitors were not and their perceived short-comings, and spending less time on their vision and what they’d actually do for the country.

In business when we bad-mouth our competitors, we are actually saying a lot about ourselves.  And not good stuff either.  Staying professional is key.  Sometimes it is what is not said, that speaks volumes.  When we focus on what we offer, we stay on track and are not distracted by what our competitors may be doing.

3.    Listen.  Listen hard.
It pays to listen to your electorate and understand their issues as well as involving members of your team.

Likewise, when you listen to your customers, you get a better sense of what they need and want, and can deliver.  Involving your team, means they also have a vested interest in your success and can bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the situation.  

4.    Be open and transparent
That means being willing to answer questions, even difficult ones.  Open dialogue goes a long way to building a relationship, and that in turn leads to trust.  And trust means you stand a better chance of getting the business or in the case of the election, getting the vote.

The Liberal Party got our votes.  They got the business – the business of running our country.  With all the world issues and global meetings coming up, they are going to have to hit the road running, and as small business owners we know what that’s like. 

We also know what it is like when the stakes are high and you are scrambling to meet the deadlines; to deliver the goods.  So let’s cut them some slack.  Let’s have realistic expectations on what can and can’t be done straight away.  

Yes, most of us wanted change, but just like any trip, it’s better to have studied the map first so you get the lay of the land and know where you are headed, rather than heading off in the wrong direction.  

Congratulations to all the newly elected MPs.  Thank you for taking on this important responsibility.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What do you want, do you really really want?

Trouble is for a lot of people, they don’t know.  They only know that this life they are living isn’t it.  Or they do know what they want, but haven’t a clue on how to get it.

For some, they are fine just coasting, believing when the right choice comes along, they will just snap it up. But will you know? For others though, they’re ambitious.  They do want to get ahead, it’s just not knowing how to do it that holds them back.

All of which causes a sense of overwhelm which is sadly common.  We go through the motions of the day, juggling all that we have to do, with little or no time to ask ourselves, is this what I want to be doing?

In his book The 1% Principle, author Tom O’Neil argues that we can start ourselves on the right path, just by asking ourselves each day “what is one thing I can do today to improve my life and the life of someone near me by 1%.”

His argument is that by taking small incremental steps we can reach our goals and change our lives for the better.  This way we are consistently moving forward.  He calls them mini-goals which can impact different aspects of your life. 

After getting you to look at different aspects of your life so you can measure how well you are doing, he proceeds to provide you with lists of daily items that you could undertake - simple things like arranging to pay your bills automatically online.  In other words, stuff that’s likely on your to-do list but never seems to get done.

He does caution about not trying to do too much as that somewhat defeats the point of the exercise.  To me this is like the “Swiss Cheese” approach I take with a big project, breaking down what has to be done into bite size tasks that build on each other.

Certainly if you can start to clear away the minutiae of life that can take up your time, then you can focus your energies on what you want to do.

Sometimes that means taking time alone to think through what you enjoy, what you are good at and where potential opportunities await you.  Once you become clearer, bounce your ideas off a friend, one you trust who will be honest with you and quick to tell you if you’re on the wrong path.

Many people have found it helpful to have a coach, who will objectively listen and ask prodding questions to help you refocus and rethink your next steps.

But I think O’Neil is right, the habit of doing one small thing each day will make you feel you’ve accomplished something. Setting a goal to also do something for yourself on a regular basis – a ten minute walk, reading a book, coffee with a friend – can move you forward to what you really, really want.

Friday, October 09, 2015

The circle of friendship

When did you last meet up with old classmates?  Do you even stay connected?  In our hectic lifestyle it can be all too easy to lose touch.

But I have to tell you, I am so glad I have made that effort to keep in touch with long-time friends, because when you do get together, it’s like switching back the clock.

This was our summer of reunions – not just family ones - but with “old” friends.  I say “old” because we’ve known them for 60 + years.   

Frankly it was wonderful and left me with a warm glow – because these are people who really know you the best and the longest.  In fact truth be, they also have the dirt on you and all the antics you pulled off when you were a teenager or young adult. Our kids would likely be shocked.

What amazed me is how we just picked up where we left off. Soon we were reminiscing about past fun times together, catching up on the latest escapades of our adult children and sharing some great moments of laughter.  

Why does that happen?  I think part of it is our shared history, roots and values. We grew up in similar surroundings.  We enjoy and have the same dry British sense of humour and while we have pursued different careers and have different interests, that common thread keeps us tied together. And while we may now be Canadian, I suspect we often look at life through British eyes. 

However, it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes you have just grown apart. Sometimes the differences are too wide to bridge the gap, and sometimes people have changed.  You no longer share  their values or take on life, and that’s too bad.  But that can be true of any friendship, old or new.

The key is to surround yourself with friends who get you.  Warts and all. Friends who are there in good times and bad.  As you get older and lose your parents and older family members, it is these friends who become your family.  Your chosen family.  Choose them well. 

A few weeks ago we decided on the spur of the moment to phone some good friends in Vancouver. Not because we were coming out and wanted to stay with them, but just to check in and say "hi." It was lovely to reconnect with them.  We need to do that more often. 

This Thanksgiving, reach out and stay in touch. Phone or email someone today. I ‘d love that warm feeling to spread.