Everyone says you need an email list but few people really tell you how to start one or what to do with it once you have it. In this episode, we will discuss email list basics to help you get started or to more effectively use your list. We will also discuss the basics of the Can Spam Act, which is the law that regulates commercial email.
Do you have a disaster recover plan? How would your business function if you were hit by a natural disaster or your computer died? In this episode, we discuss steps you can take now to make sure your business is prepared.
As we get into the final stretch of the year but before the holidays begin, Jeff and Kristin are starting to work on planning products and services for 2017. This is a great time to discuss developing new offerings for your business. We discuss how to begin the process of developing new products and services.
What products and services do you currently offer?
Do you have a menu of your current products and services? If not, this is where you need to start. If you can’t clearly define what you currently sell, how do you expect your clients to understand what you do? Don’t be cryptic about what you do. Clearly define your business for your customers. Don’t use industry speak; use your customers’ language. Take a look at your website or ask someone to do it for you to make sure your message is clear.
This is also the starting point because this will give you an idea if there are gaps in your offerings. Do you need to offer supplemental products? Are there services that are outside the rest of your offerings and may be causing a confusing message?
What do your customers need?
Sometimes as experts, we lose sight of things that are difficult for your customers. People look to us because we are experts in our particular field. It may be easy for you but it may not be for your customers. That is why it is important to dial into your customers and listen to their feedback. There may be some really basic topics you should cover because your customers need it.
Brainstorming topics and delivery methods
When brainstorming new products and services, look for what has worked for you in the past and what potential customers are struggling with. Look at your own popular posts. Take notes about the types of questions people are asking in Facebook groups. These are valuable insights into the needs of perspective customers and current customers.
In addition to topics, you should also brainstorm delivery methods. Look at your current available time. Are you looking to get more one-on-one clients or is your schedule full right now? Maybe you need to look into scaling your business by offering courses, masterminds, group offerings, books, email training, or other offerings. One example is Emily Olsen’s Whole Food Nutrition Course. These scaled products and services give you more bandwidth, creates more price points in your business, and allows more customers to interact with you.
These products also allow you to charge more for your one-to-one consulting, because that now becomes a premium service. Value your time accordingly.
Share topic ideas with your current and potential customers
Right now, you are still in the idea phase. Don’t over plan before getting feedback. You may present ideas that fall flat with your customers. Your customers may also give you ideas that you hadn’t thought of previously. Getting your customers involved early in the process helps you transform your ideas to build the best products and services for them. Take the feedback you receive and further develop your ideas into concrete products and services.
Product and service development
- If you are trying to develop a product or service, think about creating a group for customer feedback. Michael Hyatt did this recently for a new product launch. The group gave him honest feedback about various aspects of the course which helped to strengthen the content and helped his customers get excited about the course. If you have an existing Facebook group, you can use that group to get feedback from your current audience.
When developing a product like a course, make sure to be flexible. Don’t record everything before launching. You are going to find out that some of your ideas may change as the course participants give you feedback on the content. One of the great things about being a small business owner is being nimble. Don’t get so protective of your content that you aren’t willing to listen to feedback from your buyers. These products and services are not for you; they are for your customers. As long as the items they are looking for are within your wheelhouse and they fit within the scope of the product you are developing, considering adding them.
Build a team and create boundaries
You can’t do everything. There are probably complimentary products and services to yours that your customers need. Be awesome at your business and look to be able to refer your customers to others who provide those complimentary products and services. Create boundaries around your business by knowing your awesome and clearly communicating your awesome with your customers so they know what you sell and who you can refer them to for complimentary products and services.
Allow time for promotion
We often see people who are in constant creation mode. They create a new product, promote it for a week, and then move on to the next product. In order to create traction for your previous products, you must continue to promote those products. Don’t get into the trap of thinking you must release 400 new products each year to be successful. Take the time to create meaningful products and promote those products.
- Have a list of your current products and services.
- Make sure they are clearly communicated to your customers before developing new products and services.
- Brainstorm new ideas, topics and delivery methods.
- Share these ideas with your audience.
- Take audience feedback and determine delivery method. Flesh out idea more.
- Get feedback from your audience on the product or service. Facebook groups are a great way to do this.
Many small business owners and customers are sending their kids back to school. As fall approaches, what effect does this have on your small business?
As kids go back to school, parents and teachers will be adjusting their schedules. What does that mean for your small business?
- More traffic on the roads especially before and after school. Make sure to allow more travel time getting to client meetings.
- More parents are available during school hours. If your ideal customer is a parent, consider offering webinars during the day. Also consider earlier bed times when scheduling webinars.
- While days are less hectic, afternoons and evenings are becoming more hectic as kids get involved with after-school sports and activities. Again, make sure to plan for that as you offer live events in your business.
According to the Montley Fool, consumers are spending more this year and expressing less pessimism about the economy. While slightly more parents with kids in K-12 are looking for deals, fewer parents with college-age children are. That is great news for small businesses. When people are more optimistic about the economy, they are more likely to open their wallets for other things. The next six weeks may be the perfect time to launch a new product while consumers are still in a good mood but before holiday spending begins.
Back-to-school time is also an excellent time to scoop up deals for your small business. Office supply and electronics deals are great right now. If you need pens, paper, Post-It notes, or a new computer or printer, now would be the time to pick up those items.
There are only four months left in 2016. Soon, the holidays will be upon us and customers will turn their attention to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. As business owners, the last few months of the year are an excellent time for us to start planning for 2017. What better way to get a jump on 2017 than to have your plans in place before the year begins.
We have a number of episodes on goal setting to make sure you start 2017 off right:
Need help with your 2017 planning?
On Wednesday, August 31, Jeff and Kristin are running a free webinar on bootstrapping your business. If you are looking to take your business to the next level on a limited budget, we have the tools for you. These tools are free or low cost and we have built a budget for every budget range from $10 per month to $100 per month. You can sign up for the webinar here.