Keep Pushing – The Real Battle Is Between Your Ears

Things are rarely as bad as they seem.

More importantly, sometimes the win is in the push.

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Video: Patterns and Problem Solving for Life and Business

E4e experts are known for helping each other so no one is flying alone. Steve Smart, marketing strategist needed a plan and someone to support him through the process of eating healthy and losing weight. In this presentation, the following seven principles were employed to help Steve meet his health goals. Along with Steve, wellness expert Dr. Dan Fazio used the same to grow his business exponentially. For these and any other problems you may be facing consider each:

  1. Be willing to think differently and take a new approach
  2. Establish relationships with reliable sources of information, caring experts who help you get through the tough spots
  3. Apply a sustainable pattern
  4. Measure what you can
  5. Celebrate your successes
  6. Stay accountable
  7. Raise the bar

Dan helped Steve lose 49 pounds by helping him to eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Both provided specific details about the approach, timeline and support mechanisms that brought about this positive outcome.

What their successful teamwork proved is that working in partnership and friendship, in which emotional, intellectual and physical support is plentiful, brings about positive results. In this presentation, both Dan and Steve share personal, true stories in which they achieve phenomenal results using the 7 principles provided as guidelines for effective problem-solving in life and work.

Steve Smart provides excellence in marketing strategy. Do you need a new strategy to ensure success from your marketing efforts? If so, reach out to Steve Smart at srsmart@2qsolutions.net. He specializes in helping clients create systems that work best, in order to help them meet and exceed their business goals. Dr. Dan Fazio is a wellness expert specializing in the proactive creation of health and the prevention of disease. To get direct support from Dr. Fazio, email him at danielfaziodc@gmail.com or call him at 636-227-4442.

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Video: Marketing and Operations are Connected

Marketing expert Steve Smart turns chaos into order by helping business owners become profitable by focusing on what customers want and delivering it to them

Marketing expert Steve Smart is fired up when he can help turn chaos into order and help business owners become more profitable through creating structure around their content and processes. He opens this powerful program by stating that marketing and operations are strongly tied together. He asks the audience this rhetorical question, “What is marketing?” After offering several definitions, he suggests the following as useful to remember, “Marketing is everything involved in successfully taking your product to market.” It’s finding what people want and delivering it to them. He suggests a shift in perspective is needed.

Steve Smart reminds the audience that ideal marketing provides leads, then revenue and then profits. He says in order for this to happen it’s important to think of marketing holistically so that you attract leads, close sales, and make sure you are satisfying customers throughout the entire buying and service continuum.

Operations are inter-related to marketing because they intersect through:

  • Touch-points – these include every point of contact you have with your customers. Customers make choices based on how you impress them. You are always modifying, informing or reinforcing your impression on them. The related points of contact are important – they might include the product itself, the packaging, the billing process, and all phases od service. Ideally your touch-points help your clients feel a closer connection to you, making it more likely they will be loyal to you, refer you and make another purchase with you. In order to create operational touch-points effectively, you need to think of all the different ways you interact with customers, and then make one or more people responsible for each touch-point. You want to have consistent processes around this and be intentional for how you deliver on your brand promise.
  • Culture – this includes employees, customers and vendors. When you have a value-based culture where people understand the purpose for creating an experience at each touch-point, values customer satisfaction and embraces shared ideas, there will be greater creativity and collaboration on succeeding with your brand. Everyone shares, validates and executes on ideas, helping each your company to become productive and profitable.
  • Cross-functional teamwork – people outside your actual marketing department matter too. Together you communicate in word and deed a stronger vision, a better culture, and greater collaboration, enabling people to enjoy making contributions and creating buy-in. Other team members’ help you execute on new ideas and they have a fresh perspective to offer.

Steve Smart ends his presentation emphasizing the need to live your brand promise internally as well as externally. Intentionality helps everyone play a part of the process to deliver on the brand promise. You will be most successful if you put a structure in place to identify a list of all touch points and make sure everyone involved shares ideas, provides input and gets feedback afterwards to strengthen your values and service.

Steve Smart is helpful and believes in high customer satisfaction. He’s an expert at purpose and value-based marketing. Need help with your marketing efforts? Reach out to Steve Smart at srsmart@2qsolutions.net

Video: The Exponential Power of Customer Satisfaction

Recent experiences got me thinking about marketing resources and the exponential power of customer satisfaction.

I want to share some thoughts about the importance of customer satisfaction and how it contributes to your business success. I’ll also tell you a story from my own experience as a customer. For that, you'll have to watch the video.

I want to start with a question. Why do you pay attention to customer satisfaction? Or do you pay attention to customer satisfaction at all? Here are two typical reasons.

  • To satisfy your own sense of goodwill, knowing you are doing the right thing.
  • To keep dissatisfied people from getting in your face.

I believe there is a more serious economic and business growth reason to pay attention to customer satisfaction.

Some things in life and business are important but not easy. Taxes are one of those things. They are important and I know I have to deal with them. Fortunately I can outsource the preparation of them to an expert.

Customer satisfaction is also important but not easy. And you know that's not something you can outsource. Unfortunately it's often fuzzy, hard to measure and hard to fix.

In life and business we tend to make decisions about what we're going to pay attention to, partly based on a pain vs. profit continuum. We easily prioritize things that are easy to deal with and have a clear benefit. If something is hard to deal with and the benefit is unclear, it's likely to be low on our priority list.

Because customer satisfaction is fuzzy it often gets ignored until someone complains. That's not what you want. Dissatisfied customers don't always complain.

I'd like to put the subject of customer satisfaction in a different light so it can be treated on a more proactive than reactive basis.

The Football Analogy

I’m more of a motorsports guy but I’m going to talk about football for a minute.

Making a sale, especially on higher ticket items, is exciting. It's like making a touchdown. You've planned your plays, executed well and crossed the goal line. It's time to celebrate! That's exactly what you're looking for.

What could be better than getting a touchdown? What about winning the game? A touchdown isn’t worth much if you don’t win. But when you strategize and maximize the power of your offense and defense and get more touchdowns than your competitor, you win and that rocks!

What could be better than winning the game? How about winning the CHAMPIONSHIP? Football players dream about having a winning season, playing in the Super Bowl and getting that game-winning ring.

How does this relate to customer satisfaction, and what does it have to do with marketing resources?

Getting The Exponential Benefit

There are three things you want people to do:

  • Buy from you
  • Buy repeatedly
  • Refer others to you who will buy repeatedly

When people make that first purchase from you it's like getting a touchdown. When people buy repeatedly it's like winning the game. When they refer others who buy repeatedly, that's like winning the championship.

What does all this have to do with marketing resources? You put time, effort and money into making that sale. If you only make one sale and the customer doesn't return, those marketing resources aren't terribly effective. If they do return several times, you get a much better return on your marketing resources. If, however, you satisfy customers to the degree that they refer others who repeatedly buy from you, that's when your marketing resources get an exponential return.

To hear my story on customer DISsatisfaction, watch the video. 

Need help with your marketing efforts? Contact Steve Smart at 2Q Solutions – 636-699-8772.

Video: Clone Your Hard Drive

In this short but helpful video, marketing expert Steve Smart offers reasons why, when and how to clone your hard drive.

In this short but highly useful video, marketing expert Steve Smart offers compelling reasons why to clone your hard drive. He reminds us that while we back up our business files, we don’t consider the cost of a irretrievable hard drive. Reasons to clone your drive include:

  • We lose our programs
  • We lose our operating system
  • We lose our preferences
  • We lose special features we’ve downloaded
  • We lose our data and
  • We spend too much downtime replacing what we’ve lost

Steve Smart is helpful and believes in high customer satisfaction. He’s an expert at marketing. Need help with your marketing efforts? Reach out to Steve Smart at srsmart@2qsolutions.net.

Video: From Connection to Conversion: Your Marketing and Business DNA

Marketing expert Steve Smart assists business owners in clearing away the fog caused by so many marketing options. He understands entrepreneurs wear too many hats and how easy it is for them to get pulled into tactical details instead of making sure to first be strategic in planning and defining business systems. He asserts that a sound strategy facilitates order and order brings clarity of thought, better planning and better execution.

In this video, viewers come to understand the specific systems, processes and methodologies to turn chaos into order, so growing your business is easy and successful. Steve Smart shares concepts that help business owners:

  1. Think strategically about your business in ways that are then applied tactically
  2. Your brand and how to communicate it thoroughly and consistently
  3. Finding the sweet spot in your business and how it relates to your marketing, including your website, web performance and maintenance

Steve introduces his powerful business DNA process as the intersection of your customer’s interest and what you have to offer. He’s defined a way of capturing the essence of your business and how to communicate it effectively to your prospects, focusing on their greatest needs. It helps you understand your customer’s problems, needs and wants and how to satisfy them with your greatest strengths and solutions. In this video, Steve Smart outlines the primary benefits of defining your business DNA, including how it:

  1. Makes your marketing easier
  2. Attracts more business to you
  3. Ensures you make higher profit margins

His theory behind DNA includes:

  1. When you are in your business sweet spot, you have clearly defined real client needs and are able to consistently provide the best possible services well to meet those needs without getting side-tracked or diverted outside of your core strengths.
  2. You are far more likely to attract the business you want and filter out the business you don’t want when your marketing communications reflect your business sweet spot and speak directly to your customer’s interests.
  3. Your margins and your bottom line improve when you learn to compete on value rather than on price.

He introduces four out of nine key components to his business DNA process, including identifying:

  1. Business Segments –dividing your business into logical parts such as products and services to enhance internal and marketing communication
  2. Customer Segments – defining different types of customers
  3. Customer Needs and Aspirations – identifying a variety of pain to be relieved and types of motivations customers have for buying
  4. Business Distinctions – values and features that make your prospects eager to choose you over others in your business segment

Steve Smart concludes this presentation by helping viewers to consider ways to implement the steps outlined for creating, documenting and applying key components through your marketing communications, and to better create your selling, marketing and website collaterals all based on your DNA. He presents the concepts of persona’s and how to determine SEO criteria by using your DNA as a guide for using both to further reach your ideal clients.

Steve Smart is Owner of 2QSolutions. Contact him today to benefit from his professional marketing support and learn how you can benefit from his extensive experience and knowledge. You can reach him at srsmart@2qsolutions.net.

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Video: 12 Questions to Ask When Reviewing a Web Proposal

Choosing a web designer should be done with care. It is not uncommon for several web developers to be considered. Comparing proposals is painful, especially when they are all formatted differently. You have to do your due diligence and it takes time away from your core business activities. These twelve questions make it easier to compare web design proposals.

1. What are merits and weaknesses of each proposed platform?

There are three general platform categories. You choose between a static HTML site, an open source CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress or a proprietary CMS like Adobe's Business Catalyst. Ask good questions during the interview process and make notes that are useful for the proposal review.

2. How many web pages are covered in the proposal?

My clients do not like unexpected charges. When considering a web proposal, be sure to verify how many pages of content are included. One proposal might cover the entire content of your current site while another might only cover a home page and five inner pages.

3. Who writes my new content?

Even if your web person is highly capable, do not assume they are going to write new content for you. Clarify this point so you do not end up with an extra bill you did not expect or work you are not prepared to do.

4. Who optimizes my pages for SEO?

You might be buying a platform that is capable of being optimized. But that is not the same as the work actually being done. "On page optimization" is less important than it used to be. But there are some pieces that still matter to SEO professionals. Understand this distinction when reviewing a proposal.

5. What are my hosting costs?

This is easily compared between proposals. Do not, however, assume hosting costs will all be the same. Monthly charges can vary greatly. Don't forget to ask about redundancy and how your site will be hosted.

6. How many users are covered with my hosting package?

Building and launching a website is just the beginning. Managing and editing your site is an ongoing effort that may require several people. Many of my clients prefer to have someone else make simple updates. They want to stay focused on their core business activities.

There are several aspects to a website that frequently need to be managed with different levels of permission. Some people might need access to make simple page edits. However, it might not be appropriate for them to see or edit sensitive information. Consider also the consequences of human error. A few harmless typos are one thing. Blowing up your navigation or deleting entire sections is quite another. Consider the number of people who might need access and their appropriate permission levels when assessing your hosting needs.

7. What kind of support can I expect?

You might not be able to quantify this aspect. But get a general description of what can be expected before choosing your web developer.

8. How will my site display on different mobile devices?

Before asking this question you need to have an idea about how the mobile experience fits in your marketing plan. Modern websites now display better on smart phones, but you might need a more finely tuned mobile site. What do you want users to see on mobile, and with how much effort? What actions do you want them to easily take? When you have some degree of clarity about your objectives, you can then ask more meaningful questions.

9. What automation can be achieved with respect to collecting email addresses?

Most of my clients use email marketing on some level. One key function of their website is collecting email addresses. Life will be easier for you if your site automatically loads those addresses into a list connected with your ESP (email service provider). It is a bonus if you also get an alert when someone subscribes.

10. What happens if the web developer disappears or discontinues web support services?

You need to know that your website hosting package and support will not suffer if your web provider ceases to exist. Is a contingency plan required?

11. What pieces can be easily "bolted on?"

It may well be there are things you want your site to do that you simply cannot afford just yet. Make a prioritized list of things your site needs to be able to do in the future. Make sure each of those things can be added at a later date without a major overhaul.

12. What type of provider is best is best suited to me, my way of communicating and operating?

While the first eleven questions makes it easier for you to review and compare web development proposals, it is equally important to quantify the differences between prospective vendors. Once you have considered those differences and similarities, remember, price is not the only factor. The people you work with make a big difference. Pay attention to the chemistry and communication habits of each vendor you interview. There is a great deal of value in a quality relationship and it is a factor that contributes to your success. It is not just about the what, it is also about who is best to collaborate with and support you.

Steve Smart is Owner of 2QSolutions. Contact him today to benefit from his professional marketing support and learn how you can benefit from his extensive experience and knowledge. You can reach him at srsmart@2qsolutions.net.

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Video: What to Wear for a Video Shoot

Expert Steve Smart provides important clothing tips when preparing for a video shoot.

Avoid that weird effect

You know you want to look your best for your presentation. If you're being recorded on video there are several things you have to know. Some clothing patterns produce a strange effect in video. You may have noticed it before and wondered what it was. It's called the moire' effect or the moire' pattern. It's pretty distracting and prevents you from making your very best presentation.

It's usually caused by stripes or small, tight patterns in a shirt, sport coat or other article of clothing. You might get away with a larger pattern but I like to recommend a dark solid whenever possible.

Do I have to wear dark colors?

Not necessarily, but it's a safer bet. I'm getting away with lighter colored shirt shirts in this video, but the lighting was favorable for that. I've been on some shoots where the lighting could not be controlled as well. Lighter colors, (white, for example) washed out and created an undesirable effect.

Prepare for the microphone

Audio technicians sometimes get pretty creative. But it will help if you're prepared to keep things on the easy side. Choose clothing that easily allows a microphone to be attached. The ideal location is in the center, a few inches under your chin. There will also be a little black box that will be attached to your waistband or belt. It can also be placed in a pocket.

When getting you fitted with the microphone, your technician might want to hide the cord. That's often done by dropping the line down a shirt or wrapping it around the back underneath a sport coat. Be prepared for that.

Helpful hints for ladies

Remember that little box? It won't be terribly heavy, but make sure that wear a skirt that won't sag down. That's a distraction you certainly don't need.

Jewelry is another consideration. Your audience might not hear it, but the microphone can easily pick up distracting clicks and jangles. Be careful with your selection of earrings, bracelets and necklace.

I recently had a situation where my subject moved around to test for jewelry jangle. It seemed that all would be fine, but she moved during the presentation in ways we didn't anticipate. It created an audio problem we could only solve by pausing the presentation to remove her necklace. Keep that in mind as you dress for your shoot.

Clothing is just one element, but now you'll be a little better prepared for your video shoot.

Steve Smart works with busy entrepreneurs who want to improve their marketing efforts. He lives in St. Louis and can be reached atsrsmart@2Qsolutions.net or 636-699-8772.

Video: Four Great Reasons to Use Email Marketing

Expert Steve Smart talks about four of the top reasons to use email marketing and a few points on getting started.

Email marketing should be in your tool belt.

Many tools are available to help you build your sales funnel. Email marketing is a great way to help you grow your business. If you're not already using email marketing you'll find a few reasons here to get started.

Check Out These Four Great Reasons to Use Email Marketing

1. Email Marketing is Powerful

Tremendous reach can be achieved with email. Because nearly everyone has access to it, you have the potential to reach an audience of immense size. The proliferation of smart phones has only expanded the value of email marketing. The percentage of people reading mail on their phone has been increasing steadily. Currently it's at around 40% and climbing.

Email marketing is also powerful because it tells your story to a willing audience. Of course, that's assuming you use legitimate list-building methods. When people opt in, they're telling you they want to hear from you. Building a list in a professional manner sets you up to succeed.

Interactivity is a powerful aspect that makes email marketing so desirable. Recipients choose whether to open, where to click and how to complete your occasional surveys. An engaged audience builds warm leads.

2. Email Marketing Tools Are Robust

Using an email service provider gives you great capabilities. Deliverability is among the best features. There's no point in having a big mailing list if your audience is not being reached. An email service provider and proper list building practices are your one-two punch.

Reports give you valuable, detailed information about the interests of your recipients. The information you gain enables you to segment your audience, so you can deliver more relevant content.

Email surveys enable you to find out more about your customers' interests. That in turn helps you craft better messages, improve your content and possibly discover opportunities for new products and services.

Email is made attractive through color and images. But don't make the mistake of thinking it's all about being pretty. Top quality content offering value wins the day.

3. Email Marketing is Effective

You don't have a crystal ball to know exactly when people are ready to buy. And you know enough not to harass them with regular unwanted calls. Email marketing enables you to reach out regularly to offer value and maintain top-of-mind awareness. They'll think of you when they're ready to make a purchase.

4. Email Marketing is Cost Friendly

The cost of using an email service provider is very low. Content development, however, can be a bigger piece of the puzzle if your business offers services rather than goods. The good news is there are ways to introduce cost efficiencies into the process.

  • If your content is based on articles, for example, find ways to reduce the costs related to the development of those pieces. Have a whole series written at one time. Whenever possible, maximize the use of existing content. That content can also be the basis for video scripts.

Five Steps to Getting Started

Like anything else, using email for marketing purposes requires some effort and advance planning. Here are five things you need to do to get started.

  • Use Best Practices to build your list. One thing you DON’T want to do is to buy a list. What you DO want is to provide value and give people incentive to sign up.
  • Choose an ESP (email service provider) you can depend on. Pricing is not your only consideration. Examine their features and find out about their quality of support.
  • Plan your content. Don't wait until the last minute every month. Reduce your stress and increase your effectiveness by creating an editorial calendar.
  • Measure your results. Make a plan to measure the results of your campaigns for continual improvement. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Get the support you need. I have a saying: Trying to do everything yourself is a bad idea. A knowledgeable employee or an outsourced marketing professional will be greatly useful.

Need help with your marketing efforts? Contact Steve Smart – your outsourced marketing department 636-699-8772.

Four Reasons to use an outsourced marketing professional

Contrary to instinct, doing everything yourself does not, in the end, save money. Consider a different… scratch that… a BETTER approach.

Don't wait until you're pulling your hair out to discover the benefits of outsourcing. I have benefitted from my recent choice to outsource some of my own marketing efforts. Yes, there is a cost associated with that, but there's a bigger cost in doing everything myself.

If you're an experienced business owner, you've already made this discovery. Even though your instinct tells you to do everything yourself, you've discovered the liberating secret of proper outsourcing. Have you considered doing that with your marketing efforts?

Check out these four reasons to use an outsourced marketing professional

1) Doing everything yourself is a losing proposition

You suffer in several ways when you do everything on your own. You run out of energy and your mind becomes over-taxed. Let's face it; you can't do everything with excellence. At some things you rock, at others you do terribly. And the stuff you don't do well is often the stuff you hate doing.

You wouldn't hire people who are poorly suited for important work, so why do that yourself? You know you'll only lose productivity. What might go unnoticed, however, is the fact that the brainpower you've been wasting could have been used to build your business more effectively.

2) Two heads are better than one

Complex decision-making is much easier with a team. A fresh set of eyes and a different outlook make a remarkable difference. Your own perspective and knowledge base is not enough. Why not turbo-charge your abilities by getting input from an objective party? Quality marketing decisions and effective planning happens faster and more easily when you team up with someone else.

3) Your time is valuable

Calculate the hourly value of your time. It's probably worth more than you think. If you determine your time is worth $145/hour, for example, you can easily justify outsourcing certain things to people who can perform the same work better and faster for far less.

Your time has more than "production" value. Consider the hidden value that can't be calculated.

4) Brighter ideas come to light when you create "space"

Be proactive. Moving your business forward requires quality "think time." New and better ideas don't come freely when your mind is crowded. If you constantly function with no margin of time you never develop those business-booming ideas lurking in the shadows.

You can't afford to remain stagnant. Clear your plate. Bring other people into the mix. Free up your brain space to think creatively.

It's not IF, but HOW you use an outsourced marketing professional

If you own a business that's too small to afford a full time marketing manager, you owe it to yourself to get help from an outside source. Keep these points in mind.

Right sizing is essential: Use someone who has the flexibility to tailor his or her services to the needs of your business. Do you need a collaborative partner to help you think through your options and plan your next steps? A marketing coach might be the perfect solution for you. On the other hand, you might need the skills of someone who rolls up their sleeves and performs the work for which you don't have the time or ability. Find someone reliable who offers a variety of marketing services.

A structured approach lightens your load: You already have too many plates spinning. Some of them might be out of control. The last thing you need is more chaos. You'll find great relief when you use someone who brings order to the table.

How much is it costing you to do it all yourself? Don't put it off any longer. Contact a marketing professional today and find out how you can benefit from outsourcing.

Need help with your marketing efforts? Reach out to Steve Smart at srsmart@2qsolutions.net.

Hit Your Email Marketing Bull’s Eye

Satisfying customers is what successful marketing efforts are all about. But profit is your reason for being in business. How do you know if you're hitting your target? How do you connect the dots between customer demand, email marketing and your profits? Analysis is one piece of the puzzle.

Marketing intelligence tells you if you're hitting your target

Electronic marketing efforts offer the opportunity to gather intelligence and measure results. With that information you deliver what your customers want instead of wasting their time with stuff they don’t.

When your email campaigns deliver what’s useful, interesting or entertaining, it puts you in a favorable light. You probably won't get immediate results but it makes it more likely people will do business with you. The additional work is worth it. When you hit the bull's eye, you'll eventually be rewarded with more sales.

Get the bare-knuckle truth about your email efforts

Don't kid yourself by simply looking at open rates and call it a job well done. You don't want your accountant lying to you, so why would you want anything but the facts about your marketing efforts? Frankly, the truth about your email marketing campaigns can be a little humbling. But when you know the truth you can improve your efforts and make them pay off.

How do you measure their level of interest?

Your Email Service Provider (ESP) offers reports that show open rates. But that can be a little misleading. An "open" includes your mail being viewed in the preview pane of Outlook. So you know you showed up on someone's radar screen.But how do you find out if they actually read what you sent and their level of interest? Here are two steps to implement.

Start with dedicated web pages. If you are dealing with an article, first put it on a dedicated web page or blog post. Do the same if you're dealing with a product. Make sure the web pages have Google Analytics installed on the page.

I used to think I was giving my newsletter subscribers a bonus by giving them the first look at my articles. I then made them publicly available on my blog. It was a nice thought, but I've changed my method. I now post to my blog first and my newsletter only has a snippet of the article. To read the whole thing, people have to click on the link to the blog post.

Combine Google Analytics with ESP reports. Your Email Service Provider (ESP) will show how many people "clicked through" to your website, giving you a picture of where their interest is high. That, however, can also be deceiving.

Clicking the link indicates INITIAL interest, but looking at your Google Analytics report indicates if they liked what they saw when they arrived. You'll find out if they lingered or if they "bounced" out. That's valuable information helping you understand your audience better so you make strategic decisions about future content.

What do you do with the data?

Maintain a spreadsheet that shows the results of your email campaigns. Show the date, subject line and key elements of each email. Then show open rates, basic click-through rates and which elements were most popular.

As you create content plans for next year or next quarter, review that spreadsheet to get some clues about what people want and what people don't want. And if you tie your email results to buying behavior, you are well on your way to a successful email marketing effort.