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Generate Optimal Results When Networking

Tom Ruwitch asks the panel, “When attending a networking event, what is one strategy, tactic or rule that you always keep in mind to generate optimal results for you and your business?”

As a business owner, you understand more than most, your time is money. You also realize networking is key to growing your business, even though sometimes networking events seem to be less successful than you’d like. For many who attend networking events, outcomes can be frustrating if you are not prepared to meet new people, do not set and achieve your business goals for attending, or fail to have purposeful and fruitful conversations with qualified prospects.

Building trusting relationships that lead to satisfying business transactions takes time, genuine care and a balance between people skills and a focus on your business goals and aspirations. Respect for self and others and a consistent relaxed and abundant mindset allow for business to flow due to a genuine helpful intent.

Read what nine independent e4e business owners and recognized experts report on the strategies, tactics or rules they keep in mind to generate optimal results when at networking events. In this way, you draw on the real-time experience of our experts to quickly decide strategies to benefit you and your business.

Four of our Nine Panel Experts:

Bill Prenatt

Actually, there are three strategies I execute on consistently: 1) I set a goal for how many valid prospects I expect to meet and I plan to enter into my data base; 2) I communicate clearly what business I’m in and what kind of prospect I’m interested in meeting. This usually cuts the conversation short with people I’m not aligned with; 3) I make it a habit to connect at least three prospects with existing connections.

Judy Ryan

e4e partner Fred Miller offered a great strategy in one of our recent workshops. He said we should not allow our time to be monopolized during a networking event. He gave an example of a person handling this in a thoughtful manner by saying, “Please excuse me. I committed to myself I’d meet 10 new people before the main event starts and I have a few more to go. Great meeting you!” What a wonderful, respectful and direct way to be upfront about wanting to meet more than one or two people at an event.

Keith Vollmar

Here is what I do when attending a larger networking event. For each meeting:

1. Walk away with no less than 2 business cards of individuals I have not met before.
2. Make sure I say hello to 2 or 3 established business friends who are key potential referral sources for me.
3. Ensure one new person gets the most out of networking event.

This is my routine at MO Venture Forum or similar larger group. For smaller groups, it depends on the number of people attending.

Cathy Sexton

For starters I have made the decision to cut way back on networking events. I think the time spent on networking events can get way out of hand if we are not careful. So my current strategy is to only attend with two purposes. To continue to build already valuable relationships and to make sure the events have my ideal clients also in attendance.

These are just a few of the partner responses. 

Check out this article in the Academy to get all of them.

For further information, support and advice from thirty experts on this topic and many others, become a member of the e4e community by visiting our website at www.e4ecommunity.com

Are Market Share, Pricing and Profitability ‘Strategies’ Smart?

Companies whose primary goal is to pursue market share, often don’t fair well. Why? Their focus is on their goals, not their customers’ interests.

A September 11, 2013 Reuters article, iPhone 5c: Apple picks profit over market share yet again, provides an opportunity to make a distinction between market share, pricing and profit strategies.

In the Reuters article, we’re finally seeing the financial press acknowledge there is a trade-off between profit and market share. Generally the financial press is critical of companies that lose market share:

  1. Without defining the market.
  2. Without determining the bottom line impact of the ‘lost‘ market share.
  3. While implying that profits are going to decline due to that loss.

Yet, as we saw in my September 10, 2013 blog Market Share vs. Profitability, many companies experience greater profits when they shrink their revenues. Why? Because they’ve rid themselves of customers who don’t value what they offer. Consequently, they’ve eliminated low-margin, high cost business (price buyers are always demanding more without being willing to pay extra to get it).

With this background, let’s explore the distinctions between strategies that focus on market share, pricing and profitability.

Market share
Companies whose primary goal is to pursue market share, often don’t fair well. Why? Their focus is on their goals, not their customers’ interests. Indeed, my eldest nephew who is a certified financial analyst says, “Whenever I hear a company has decided to go after market share, I send a ‘sell’ recommendation because, within 18 to 24 months, that company will be in trouble.”

A clear example of that is Toyota. Without a doubt, Toyota had the premier reputation for quality in the mid-price automotive market. Shortly after announcing they intended to be the #1 automaker, they had a recall that cost them conservatively $1 billion dollars.

The reasons a market-share strategy fails are:

  1. The companies don’t define the market; they assume all buyers are potential customers.
  2. They often discount heavily to get customers who don’t value what they offer and lose margin on the customers who do.
  3. They significantly grow their infrastructures to accommodate the additional, albeit unsustainable, demand.
  4. They put their goals ahead of their customers’ interests antagonizing customers in the process.

Other than that, it’s a perfectly fine strategy.

Pricing
There are basically two pricing strategies - a low-price strategy and a value-based strategy. Which works better? Let’s look at actual results from well-known, well-respected companies.

From 2009-2012 Apple tallied an impressive 44.3% compound growth rate (CGR) in revenues and improved operating margins by 14.5%. During that same time, Walmart’s revenues grew by 3.5% (CGR) and lost .5% in margin and Amazon gained 26.3% (CGR) in revenues but gave up 33.3% of its operating margin to do so. Which of those experiences would you prefer?

Here’s your mental exercise for the day. Is a low-price strategy also a market-share strategy?

Not necessarily. Toyota decided to go after market share, but chose not to change its pricing to do so. When Walmart decided to go after Target’s customers, they knew they’d have to do something different to garner that market. The fact that their attempt wasn’t successful doesn’t alter the fact they had an awareness of the need to do something different.

Profitability
While many would say profits are the reason companies are in business, the reality is profits are a byproduct of enhancing customers’ lives. Any company focused on profits inevitably makes decisions placing the company’s interests ahead of its customers’ welfare and then lose those profits. In this regard market share and profit strategies are similar.

Lesson
So where does that leave us? What are we to take away from this discussion? The lesson is that none of the three - market share, pricing or profitability - are good ‘strategies’. Your strategy needs to be ‘enriching the lives of others.’

If your product or service makes someone’s life easier, or fun, exciting, safer or better in any way, you’ll enjoy great success when you build a value-based pricing approach into that strategy.

Adopt a market-share or low-price strategy and you’ll shift your focus from your customers to your company and suffer dire consequences. So when developing a strategy for your business:

  1. Focus on how you’re going to enrich the lives of your customers.
  2. Price to reflect that enrichment.
  3. Enjoy your well-deserved success.

Dale Furtwengler is the author of the internationally-acclaimed Pricing for Profit. His company, Furtwengler & Associates, Inc., helps companies get higher prices regardless of what their competitors or the economy are doing. For more pricing/branding/marketing/sales tips visit his website, PricingForProfitBook.com.

Is Strategic Pricing Dead?

Given the accessibility of information, is it possible to be strategic in your pricing? Or do the ever-shifting sands of your competitors’ prices trap you?

Given the accessibility of pricing information today, is it possible to be strategic in pricing your products and services? Or do the ever-shifting sands of our competitors’ pricing trap us all?
Here’s a quick way to tell whether or not you’re being strategic in your pricing:

  1. When you create a new offering do you establish one price or a series of prices?
  2. When you change your prices, is it typically your initiative or a reaction to your competitors’ pricing?
  3. Do you match your competitors’ pricing?
  4. Does your product’s/service’s life cycle influence your pricing decisions?

The answers to these questions tell you all you need to know about whether or not you’re using a price strategy or merely reacting to your competitors’ pricing.

One price or series of prices?
If you’re establishing a single price for new offerings, you’re not developing a pricing strategy. Effective price strategies must include a series of prices to reflect:

  1. Your product’s/service’s life cycle.
  2. Changing customer tastes.
  3. Competitor offerings - current and anticipated.
  4. Value (pricing) by market segment.
  5. Offerings to companies outside your industry who compete for your market’s dollars.

This is not an all-inclusive list, but it gives you a sense for what’s involved in establishing a pricing strategy. Each of the items on the list indicate why we don't live in a one price fits all world. Here are some examples to illustrate this point.

Early adopters of innovation willingly pay multiples of what the mass market pays. That’s why it’s important to know what price you’ll charge at each phase of your product’s/service’s life cycle as well as how you’ll know when it’s time to change your price.

Similarly, prices can be dramatically different for different market segments. Why? Because the value to each segment can be dramatically different, as can the willingness of each segment to embrace change (new offerings). Some markets are more progressive than others.

When a competitor comes out with a new offering, especially one that appears to be superior to yours, how do you respond? How does that influence your pricing? More importantly, should it?

Many companies ‘improve’ their offerings only to find their customers are unwilling to pay for the improvement. Do you have a mechanism in place to evaluate the value of a competitor's improvement? If not, you’re likely to follow them down the rabbit hole or you'll lower prices when there's no need to do so.

Hopefully these illustrations demonstrate the importance of having a pricing strategy, one that incorporates a series of prices and price change triggers.
Now, let’s contrast this approach to reactionary pricing.

Price matching
Regardless of whether or not you’ve promulgated a price-matching program, if you regularly raise or lower your prices to reflect your competitors’ price changes, you’re price matching. There's nothing strategic about price matching. You have relinquished control to your competitors.

Yes, I’ve heard business leaders' claims that they need to be competitive, that products eventually become commodities and that buyers are price conscious. Unfortunately the business ‘leaders’ making those claims aren’t defining their terms.

What does it mean to be competitive? When does a product become a commodity? Are buyers really price-conscious? Let's explore each of these questions in more detail.

Competitive
What does it mean to be competitive? Offering more for the same price as your competitors are getting, is not being competitive, it’s folly. It confuses your customer! Here’s what they’re thinking - “If your product/service is so much better, than why doesn’t it cost more?”

That’s right. Despite all the claims that customers are price-sensitive, this price/value comparison gets made, if not consciously, then subconsciously. It’s intrinsic to the human psyche. Here's a situation that many of us have experienced.

You stop at your favorite ice cream shop and order your usual dessert. The clerk says “That’ll be $3.75.” It’s $.25 more than you have been paying.

Do you hesitate, even if for only a few seconds, before completing the purchase? Of course you do. You’re mind did a quick price/value calculation. If this is really your favorite ice cream, you'll quickly decide you're worth it and treat yourself despite the higher price. We do this all the time.

Because this thought process occurs subconsciously we don't realize we're making these calculations. Nor do our customers.

The moral of the story is to stop listening to the white noise of public opinion and pay attention to what our human nature tells us - to get more, you have to pay more. Then tout your value and price accordingly.

Commodities
I can’t tell you how often business owners/leaders tell me their offerings have become commodities in the eyes of their buyers. My response is always the same “If that’s really true, if you can’t add any value to that product, why are you still selling it?”

Come on folks, if what you’re offering is so readily available, if it’s of so little value to the customer, if customers view it as a necessary evil instead of something they desire, then why devote time, energy and resources to selling it? Why aren't you shifting your resources to producing and selling what your customers really want?

Conversely, if you are able to add value to the product, then why don’t your customers see that value? Why aren’t they willing to pay more to get that value?

More often than not it’s because you’ve devoted your marketing dollars to touting your low prices instead of the value you’re adding. Shift the focus of your marketing messages and you’ll shift your customers’ focus as well.

Price conscious customers
I’m not going to belabor the point. The reason customers are price conscious is we’ve trained them to be so. The vast majority of our marketing messages focus our customers’ attention on price instead of the value we provide. We’ve trained them to be price conscious, now it’s time to train them to be value oriented.

Is strategic pricing dead?
Almost, though it needn’t be. We have it within our power to become more strategic in our pricing. The knowledge and tools already exist and are readily available; we simply need to employ them.

The choice is basic - either you take control of one of the greatest drivers of your company’s profitability, your pricing, or you allow your competitors to control it. To me, that’s a no-brainer.

Dale Furtwengler is the author of the internationally acclaimed Pricing for Profit. His company, Furtwengler & Associates, Inc., helps companies get higher prices regardless of what their competitors or the economy are doing. For more pricing/branding/marketing/sales tips visit his website, PricingForProfitBook.com.

Video: Brand Personas – What and Why

Creating Brand Personas can help build a stronger culture and brand for your business. Learn what larger corporations have been doing for quite some time now.

What is a brand persona? A fictional profile of customer types written down in plain English. Why create Brand Personas? They help you understand your customers better. Instead of nameless, faceless, demographic data that makes it harder for you to have empathy, create personas that allow you to understand that pain points of your customers. After all, Branding = Relationship. And you can’t build relationships if all you are basing your marketing on is statistics.

To truly understand your prospects and customers, you need to have a relationship and understand motivations and hardships. Creating Brand Personas can help you create a customer-centric culture and improve your marketing initiatives.

Video: Keyword Research – What and Why

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is forgetting about Keyword Research before executing online marketing tactics.

What is keyword research? It is research to find out how certain keywords will perform and generate traffic on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Why go through the trouble of keyword research? Google is the new Yellow Pages in today's world. Information is available 24/7 through the Internet and other media channels. Smart devices now connected us more than ever before and make content widely available for consumers to make more informed decisions. If you want your business to be found online, it is best to know what your audience is tying in rather than making assumptions. You can also learn a lot about what your competition is doing and why they may be outranking you on search results.

Keyword research can be considered a turbo boost on how to get more traffic.

Video: Cold Email Marketing

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is getting emails, and immediately presenting a sales pitch, only to find that nothing comes of it.

Many business owners want to target a specific ideal customer and don’t have a warm introduction to do so. Cold emailing is identifying a prospect you want to do business with, finding their email and getting information in front of them that is appealing and effective. Cold emailing is different than a permission-based email campaign. Expert Josh Turner cautions viewers to be mindful and lawful using email by following a proven approach for sending appropriate messages to prospects, including:

  • Approach prospects in a meaningful and responsible manner
  • Observe rules of conduct that keep you within legal email guidelines.
  • Hold the intention to initiate a conversation with your prospects rather than throwing them a sales pitch

For valuable support and guidance creating LinkedIn approaches that have been proven to work, contact LinkedIn expert Josh Turner atjoshturner@gatewaycfo.com or visit his website www.gatewayCFO.com