<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Ignite Your Site: March 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why would I hire a consultant?

Many companies that we've worked with have utilized a consultant to help them with their current project (ie: website, optimization, marketing campaign, etc.). So why would you need a consultant if you have hired a firm to do the project? Doesn't having multiple groups of people on one project make for more confusion? Not if you hire the right consultant.

So why hire a consultant?
Well, a good consultant will make your life as a business owner a little easier. They will do the due diligence that you may not have time to do. They will have the knowledge that you may not have on a particular subject. They will be like an extension of your company that can help make your vision a reality.

Are all consultants the same?
No, all consultants are definitely not the same. Typically a consultant will specialize in a particular field/area. For example you might find one consultant is experienced in the IT side of things, while another consultant specializes in business software to streamline processes. They know how things work in that field, and can help create a plan of action and/or find vendors to implement those plans.

Make sure all parties know who makes the final decision.
Over the years we have worked with several companies that have hired consultants at the same time. The situations that worked well were the ones where both companies were told what the situation was and who has final say. Both parties also respect the other party and take into consideration their thoughts and ideas.

The times that consulting didn't work, was when the consultant or the firm were in there to run their own agenda. They feel that the other party is the competition and that they are in constant threat of being kicked off the project. The project ultimately ends in failure (even if it was fully completed).

Remember: Bringing in the experts can help make the end product that much better.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Does your marketing message POP?

It's not enough to just say "we're the best", or "your leading supplier" anymore. Sure those statements make you seem like the authority but what company isn't saying that? You need to make your message bold, and different. You want people to say "oh that's clever" or "cool, you've got my attention".

How do I make my marketing message POP?
It's time to start thinking a little outside the box. Think of the most unique thing about your company, product, service etc. Now take that a start to think of ways in which you could slightly embellish that. We're not talking about totally exaggerating, but a slight expansion of the facts is fine. For example if you sell green products and the most unique thing is that you sell them from a solar powered house, why not use "Buy from a the first solar powered store, and be truly green!". OK, so you aren't really sure if you are the first, but who else is going to know? You don't necessarily have to be the first person to do something, you just have to be the first person to say you are doing it.

Should I concentrate on just one marketing message?
At first I would say start with one and target the market that fits that message. Once you have your feet wet and have a better idea of how to make a more powerful message then you can create one for each target market or segment. So if you are selling green products you might target one message at the residential user, while targeting another message at the janitorial industry.

Do I have to hire a marketing team to figure out the right marketing message?
NO! I know this may sound odd coming from a company that does online marketing, but in the economy we are in I think it's important to save where you can. Marketing messages are nothing more then brain storming and good ideas. Gather some or all of your staff and setup a brainstorming session. Explain what the goal is, who the target market is and then start writing down every idea (even the ones that might seem silly) that comes up. Usually a large white-board works so people can start seeing the ideas and spinning off new ideas based on what they see.

Remember: Marketing isn't about being the best, it's more about being the most clever!

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Just because you own the business, does that mean you should run it?

I often think to myself, why are there so many businesses that just can't seem to grow? What makes some businesses successful and what makes others simply fail, or stay stagnant? Then it hit me, maybe it's not the business (at least not all the time), maybe its how the business is run, or who the business is run by.

"It was my idea, shouldn't I be the one to run it?"
Not necessarily, is probably the easiest answer to this questions. Sure, you thought of the idea and without you the business may never have formed, but that doesn't necessarily mean you are the best person to be running it. Lets say for a minute that your background is in graphic design. You have perfected your art, and are very well respected in your field. You've decided that it's time to branch out on your own and start your own company, offering some unique services. As a graphic artist, do you think you have the mindset for the business side of things? Are you going to be OK with hours of number crunching, proposal writing, business calls, and everything else that comes with the non-creative side of doing business? Probably not.

It's OK to admit your "weaknesses"!
Understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are, is the first step in building a good structure for your business. If you don't have the business mind, then maybe you need to think about bringing on someone who does. You aren't giving up control of your company, you are making your company stronger. Now you can continue to concentrate on the creative side of the business, and can rest assured the business side of your business is being handled.

Just because you aren't handling all aspects of the business yourself, doesn't mean it's any less your business. It just means you have enough understanding of what will make your business more successful for the long haul. You may end up bringing in even more people to help out with things like book-keeping, human resources, etc. Just take a minute and think about large organizations. The CEO probably doesn't know even half of what goes on in the company on a day to day basis, but he gets overview reports to make sure things are moving in the right direction and relies on lower level management to enforce the rest. There's no reason you can't do what you do best, while leaving the business stuff to the business people and having them update you regularly. It's control, without having to control every little thing.

Delegating helps expansion
Once you've figured out how to successfully delegate responsibilities you can more easily figure out ways to expand and grow your company. With delegation you've allowed yourself the availability to explore things that may not have been possible if you were wearing all the hats. You may it some road blocks, and some managers who didn't see your vision, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't delegate it just means you need to better screen your next candidate. Nothings perfect, but knowing one person can't do it all will make your life a lot easier and hopefully more successful.

Remember: Just because you don't run it, doesn't mean you don't control it.

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