One of my favorite quotes is “Knowledge is love and light and vision” by Helen Keller. This time of year, we put out Christmas lights to let our Santas know we were good all year and deserve a gift. Well, for business owners, the best gifts are the gifts of great advice. This advice and knowledge gives us love, light and vision – if we let it.
For many business owners, stretching ourselves into new arenas can be uncomfortable. Most folks resist change and fear the unknown. Years ago, having a more engaging website worried me. Next, social media networking seemed to be a chore that would drain all of my time. But, once I became more open to getting the advice and knowledge from others that were doing these things, I realized it was not so bad.
Let me give you two examples. First, about three years ago, I participated in the Georgia Governor’s Mentor Protégé program. Heery International was my mentor firm. It was a blessing. One thing they encouraged me to do was to take my one page simple website to another level. Their marketing staff urged me to create a website that was more engaging. They explained to me that nowadays folks want to learn more about businesses behind the scenes. They want to know more about the history, mission, purpose, services, founders, etc. For me personally, I did not care about that when I visited other folks’ websites. I felt that I did not have time to peruse a lot of web pages. I actually found that to be annoying. I just wanted to get at the information I needed and that was that. But, now I am realizing that taking the time to learn as much as possible about prospects and potential teaming partners is simply plain ole good for business. So when other business owners complain that they do not have time for web browsing, I tell them it is not about them. It is about doing what is best for their business.
To grow my firm Lemongrass Consulting, I have been working on a revenue model that incorporates social media. First, I took Heery’s advice and assistance and revamped my plain one page website to a more interactive one. We now have thirteen (13) pages that include a blog, fan page, and archived newsletters.
Next, I took a few social media classes offered through trade organizations; and read business articles on the subjects. I learned about ping, facebook, linkedin, twitter, constant contact, and blogging. I created a flow chart that I call a Revenue Model. The model begins with identifying our target market of ideal customers based on their service offerings and revenues and geographic locations; and whether we have other synergies and things in common (our race, gender, experiences). I then target these folks and try to connect with them online. I have done well as a newbie. I now have more than 1,000 connects on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Outlook. I now use gist to capture all of these connections. The total is more than 4,000.
My revenue model includes daily microblogging by posting a few things about what I have going on, the importance of strategic planning, famous quotes, and words of encouragement. I also have a wordpress blog that I try to write weekly; converting the weekly blogs to articles; posting the blogs in social media groups to get market penetration; and a monthly constant contact newsletter with more than 1,000 subscribers. I also give my new connections a free ebook that I wrote which are business development tips. These are all great marketing tools. It keeps my firm present in folks’ minds and I am building a community. I use google analytics and I can see that I get about 100 visitors a month to our website.
No matter how much you do, you can always do more. Next year, I want to peer more into my connections’ web pages and take the time to have more engaging dialogue with them. I also want to be sure to thank folks for connecting with me and take our conversations offline by scheduling teleconferences and face to face meetings.
But, let’s get back to the importance of being open to good advice. I mentioned having two examples. Here is the second. When I first revamped the website, I posted online that it was finally done. Well, one of my connections told me to do more than just have a Contact Us link that enables folks to email you. She said, “Clovia, I hope you don’t mind me giving you this constructive criticism”. I replied that I did not mind. But, it took me years to become open to changing that feature. I do know if it was ego, ignorance, or what. But, this year, I finally revamped the Contact Us link to capture more information about our website visitors. We also ask them to share their planning needs and choose services they may be interested in investing in.
The bottom line is that we need to view constructive criticism and business advice as a loving gift. For me, as Helen Keller put it, knowledge is the gift of light and vision. This holiday, give and accept light and vision!
By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.
Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans. www.lemongrassplanning.com (Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans)
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