Around the world the market for skilled people, for professionals, for generalists and specialists, is increasing exponentially. Ironically, at the same time the market is demanding only specific skills, knowledge, understanding, experience and qualifications, and these are often not the traditionally known ones. Remaining marketable in such fast changing and demanding times is now essential if an individual is to continue to be successful in their work. It is not enough to have traditional skill sets, nor rely on qualifications which have been superseded by more modern versions or completely replaced. To remain marketable it is essential to continuously, appropriately, and visibly, update your qualifications, skills, knowledge, and understanding. Additionally, in many business sectors you will need to demonstrate that your experiences are also current, varied, and relevant.
Successful providers of goods or services adopt what is known as the Marketing Concept. This, in essence, is the producing or selling organisation focusing primarily on identifying the needs and wants of the customer, rather than the operational capabilities of the organisation. This customer driven approach ensures that the organisation is aware of current and likely future customer needs and enables it to provide products that it knows certain customers will purchase. Of course, other factors, such as competitor activity and background changes in the marketplace, are very important, and will be factored in to the strategies. It is this approach that must be taken by the individual seeking to be successful in their careers.
To remain marketable, to be successful in finding new opportunities, to make good progress in whatever field you have chosen, you will need to adopt the marketing concept to yourself. This means researching what your customers or clients want. If you are intent on staying within your current organisation, you must research and establish what are their current, but more importantly, future people needs, what skills, experience, expertise, qualifications, are they seeking from their key people. To highlight the importance of this, consider what an external applicant, applying for a post in your organisation, would do. Correct, research and present themselves in a way which matches the needs of the organisation as closely as possible. If you are planning to change organisations, or sectors, or to set up a business, the same applies, you must identify the current and future needs of your chosen target. If you do not, then it is highly likely that your profile will not meet their needs.
This is the most essential first step. You will need to consider which markets you are targeting, which customers. In other words, which business sectors and which organisations, or which clients and customers if you are setting up a business. This is not an easy task but it is critical that you do this well. If you are planning to remain employed then much information is readily available, directly from organisations and from business sector trade organisations, indirectly from sector reports, educational research, educational institutions who provide sector or profession specific courses, educational departments of professional associations, marketing companies, government departments. The danger is that many of these information providers may themselves not be up to date with the latest developments and trends, so you will need to cross-check most information. If you are planning to set up a business, then you will need to carry out market research on your potential customers or clients. Armed with information on the current and forecast condition and the current and future people or services needs, of your target markets, you can then move on to the next step.
The essential second step is to carry out an analysis of your current skills, experience, qualifications, and ongoing development activities. The best and most simple tool to do this with is the SWOT analysis: identifying your strengths and weaknesses and then the opportunities available to you and the threats that face you. You can do this alone, but it is much better to seek help from others, such as a coach, mentor, human resource specialist, line manager, or friend who can give advice and support objectively. When you have identified your strengths consider how these can be enhanced. When you have identified your weakness (in relation to your target customer’s needs) you should plan how to reduce or eliminate them. In both areas, this will probably mean taking on personal and-or professional development activities, which we will discuss below. Opportunities will need to be assessed in two stages: firstly those available to you now, given your current profile, and secondly those that will be available to you after you have made yourself more marketable, by enhancing your strengths and taking positive action to eliminate or reduce your weaknesses. Threats are also best assessed in two stages: firstly those currently facing you, and secondly those that are likely to arise in the future. As you can see, identifying your current attributes is a major task, but one that is highly valuable and essential if you are to move forward successfully.
As we are illustrating in this article, your most valuable transferable skill may well be that of being willing to continuously develop yourself. That aside, there are other attributes that will be highly valuable. Whether you are considering moving into another business sector, or setting up your own business, then in the process of carrying out the SWOT analysis, you should add a category where you can list your current transferable skills. These are skills, experience, qualifications, knowledge, that you already possess and which will be valuable in your new work situation. These attributes can range through the hard to the soft, and can include contacts, experiences, specialist expertise, passion for certain type of work, qualifications, internet skills, foreign languages, and so on.
After you have completed the analysis of your targeted markets, and of your current skills, the next step is to draw up a development action plan that will fill identified gaps, enhance strengths, reduce or eliminate weaknesses, prepare you to take advantage of opportunities and equip you with the means to defend against threats. Preparing a personal professional development plan is a major task and should not be taken lightly. Advice and guidance should be obtained from appropriate sources, even if this is simply to research current best practice, by using the internet and-or textbooks. Your plan should be designed to develop yourself in a way which results in your profile matching that of the target markets. It is unlikely that you will achieve a complete match in a short space of time, but you must start the journey with that in mind. Considerable help is available, from professional associations, sector specific educational qualification providers, private business schools, public colleges and universities, and can be studied in distance learning, classroom, or on the job formats. Some development areas are widely useful, such as courses in general business and management, quality management, project management, and marketing, whilst other subjects can be highly useful if identified as a specific need, such as risk management, event management, financial awareness, strategic planning, and customer relationships. There are, of course, many more that could be essential development areas.
In addition to the necessary personal development activity, there are other avenues that should be explored. These include: networking, which is seen in some sectors as a valuable marketing tool for employed and for self-employed people; building a presence by publishing articles, in relevant journals or internet directories or publishing a weblog, or even writing and publishing a book on your business specialism; taking on public speaking; joining and participating in local branches of professional associations. These are but a few of the many ways of promoting yourself, which can be explored in more depth through research on the internet.
The message here is very simple. You must take action. Whatever your marketplace it will be highly competitive and highly demanding. You will need to be actively managing your participation, your self-marketing, in order to be amongst the successful participants.
There are some common pitfalls that can damage the process. The main danger areas are: Allowing current workload to prevent you from taking the action described here. You will almost certainly never be less busy, it’s the way of the modern business world that the amount and the pace of change is continuously increasing, and this translates into workload; You are tempted to focus on technical, operational skills, rather than broader, more conceptual skills, such as interpersonal skills, negotiation skills, or strategic approaches; You become committed to a position because it was easy to obtain. If this happens it is unlikely that the attraction of the post will last; You limit your opportunities by trying to match your existing skills with opportunities; You limit your opportunities by carrying out little or insufficient research; You limit your opportunities by not looking beyond your current business sector; You procrastinate and don’t take action. All of these are fatal mistakes. You must avoid them and take positive, realistic action, now.
Making yourself more marketable, more attractive, more credible, more interesting, is an essential skill in today’s highly competitive, complex, and fast-changing business world. The need to show evidence of continuous personal and professional development is no longer expected of the few, or in certain professions only. It is now mandatory in all business sectors, and in all organisations, be they private or public, commercial or non-profit making. The most successful individuals embrace this requirement and add it to the range of skills that they equip themselves with, and then develop it with passion and commitment. To make yourself more marketable you have to take that task very seriously, and commit appropriate effort and energy to it. If you can also add passion for continuous development and learning, the rewards will be considerable.
More and more people today are turning to the Internet for their shopping needs. They are also turning to the Internet for invaluable information, whether it’s how-to’s about one thing or another or something pertaining to history, repairing DVD players or anything else under the sun. When people find information that is useful and valuable to them, they tend to bookmark that site or subscribe for email newsletters and updates.
Email marketing is about keeping in touch with your clients, or potential clients, so that they think of you first when they need something again in the future. InfusionSoft is an email marketing tool that gives many benefits including tracking features that will help you target your potential clients to the highest effect possible.
Okay, so it goes without saying that in today’s hustle and bustle world, it can be a little too easy to forget one thing or another. In most instances, this isn’t a major problem. You wouldn’t lose sleep because you forgot to put the laundry in the dryer or that you didn’t take the garbage out. Except in email marketing, a forgotten follow-up can mean lost customers and lost customers means lost revenue.
InfusionSoft has a great feature that you can set up automatic follow-ups with your subscriber list. So, even if you let it slip your mind for a week, InfusionSoft has got you covered and your list will receive all of the follow up that you want and need.
Fully integrated tracking features means that you can learn when someone opens an email from you, when they click on a link, and when they actually take action, such as purchase a product or service from you. Why is this important? Basically, the more analytics you have at your disposal, the more targeted you can be with your emails. And you can store all of this information in one single, centralized database, which is incredibly beneficial.
InfusionSoft doesn’t measure up quite as well as some other major autoresponder and email marketing sites in the areas of deliverability or CRTs (Click Through Rates), but the differences are actually relatively negligible. Their ability to allow you to track and monitor what people are doing with the emails you’re sending is a major advantage over this limitation, however.
What bothers us most about InfusionSoft is that it can’t handle bounces as well as some other companies. In other words, when you have a dead or undeliverable contact, you don’t want to continue paying for that address in future promotions. When your list is relatively small, in the realm of a few hundred or a few thousand, this might not be a major issue, but when your list grows, it could become costly.
InfusionSoft, overall, is still impressive. The best feature is hands-down the ability to track what people are doing once they receive your email. There’s practically nothing better than being able to fine tune and hone a campaign based on real, workable information coming directly from your potential customers. Imagine being able to analyse where most of the link clicks are coming from. They could be at the very beginning of the email because of a phrase or tagline that stands out. It could be in the centre where information was at its strongest.
InfusionSoft can improve on its deliverability to certain email addresses and process bounces better, but for what you get with this company, it’s certainly worth its weight in gold.
If you’re a marketer your number one concern is customers. You’ve probably read and heard a million and one ideas about how to build relationships, retain customers, create a list of potential customers, and inspire consumer loyalty. But the tough question is, “How do I convert prospects into customers?”
There are a lot of people out there who see your ads, think about them, and maybe even say, “I ought to…” They’re just waiting to be convinced to to do something about it. There is something you can do to get them moving!
1. Improve Your Offer
No on can pass up the deal that’s “too good to resist.” Think about it… how often do your customers want your product, but just want something else a little more? That leaves you with a long list of “almost sales” that have the potential to be converted into real sales and profit. Sweeten the deal. Make the offer so good they can’t resist it.
Now, I’m in no way suggesting that you drop your prices to sweeten the deal. You can just as easily load it up with bonuses to increase the perceived value without cutting away at your profit. Bonuses motivate sales, maybe even more than cut prices.
Don’t let them lollygag. Yeah, get them into the store pronto with a deadline. They may have to put a competitors purchase on hold to get your deal, but hey… what’s wrong with that?
2. Follow Up
How would you like to increase your sales by more than 50 percent? Yeah, it sounds good! There’s really a very simple tactic that you can implement… follow ups.
Chances are, prospective customers aren’t going to buy your product the first time they see or hear about it. Maybe it’ll be the third or fourth, but they have to hear from you that third or fourth time before they actually become a customer. Do you have a follow up system in place?
Simply contact the “almost customer” every month with a new offer, or give them more information about the product they are showing interest in. It doesn’t have to be an intricate process. Keeping the contact there goes a long way toward building trust… the key to finding life-long customers.
Internet Marketers experience a high number of customers who browse their site, then click away. You can’t follow up without some form of contact information. A great way to gather the info you need is to offer a free ebook or informative report that consumers will find of interest. Once they’ve given you the information to email them the product, you have what you need to keep in contact, and work on converting them into loyal customers.
Personalize as much as possible. If you can get the firstname of your customer… great! Personalized messages have greater appeal than “addressed to occupant” messages.
6 Easy Steps to Separating Your Personal Life from Your Business
If you work from home, chances are you already know that you’re really pulling “double duty”. You probably work on your business while doing the laundry, corralling the kids, or fixing dinner… and let’s not forget all the phone calls from family and friends expecting you to run errands or just “go out” for an afternoon of fun.
One of the hardest parts of running a home business is separating your work from your family and social life. Here are six proven ways to keep your home life running smoothly while keeping your business on track.
1. First, create a work schedule and stick with it. It may be tempting to answer personal calls during the day or take business calls after-hours, but doing this actually shows that you’re expendable – not dependable – and people will take for granted that you’ll “always be there” for any little things that come up. Even though family comes first, stay true to your business hours and resist the urge to chat with friends or pick up groceries during working hours.
2. Your friends may consider “working from home” an invitation to chat during the day or just go out for coffee or shopping for an afternoon. Make it clear that your business hours are just that – for business. Leave personal calls for after-hours, and you’ll find that your friends will gradually accept your schedule without feeling slighted.
3. Just because you have to set up a work schedule, doesn’t mean that you have to keep the same hours as everyone else. One of the benefits of working for yourself is setting your own hours to fit your most productive times. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, you’ll find that you’ll get much more done when you’re attuned to your body’s own natural rhythms. Some people work in the morning, take a break in the afternoon when the kids are home from school, and work again in the evening. Schedule your work time when you feel the most productive and you’ll find that things get done easier, faster and better than when you were dragging along during those same rigid work hours that everyone else has.
4. If getting after-hours business calls or work day personal calls is a problem, it helps to have a separate business phone line, or at least an answering machine or voice mail, to take the incoming calls. This also gives your business a more professional appearance to clients than if you and your family make and receive calls from the same phone line.
5. If at all possible, try to separate your “home office” from the rest of your home. If you don’t have the luxury of a separate room, a room partition or screen can be just as helpful. This also serves as a visual cue to family that you’re working and shouldn’t be bothered.
6. Dress and act professionally while working. Some people find it helpful to dress in casual business attire during their working hours. This reinforces that just because you’re working from home doesn’t make you any less of a professional. Answer the phone with your name, or business name, and keep your children off the phone during business hours. Also, spend money investing in the tools you need to do your job right. A cell phone, fax machine or even a budget computer can help turn your home office into a true workspace.
If you follow all of these tips and stick with them, chances are you’ll find a routine that not only makes you feel productive and active in your business, but also projects the message that you mean business – literally!
One of the toughest obstacles we face when working from home is making it appear that we’re not, in fact, working from home. When clients call and there are kids screaming in the background, pets barking and meowing and timers going off for laundry and cooking, it doesn’t appear professional. So, how can we appear more professional?
Tip # 1: Have a clean, professional website with your own domain name.
Do not, under any circumstances, have a “free” website hosted on another domain name with other company’s ads all over the place! This is one of the biggest no-no’s out there! Decide, instead, that in order to appear professional, you must invest in a professional website. If you aren’t skilled in web design, hire someone to do it for you or barter with another home-based business owner who does do web design. Choose a domain name that is closely related to your business’s name.
Tip # 2: Invest in a separate phone line or in a distinctive ring tone for that line.
Most phone companies offer a plan where you can have two or more numbers ringing to one phone line with distinctive rings. It’s usually better to have a separate phone line in your office, in order to avoid after-hours phone calls from clients. This also enables you to “shut the door” on work when you’re not there. Use a professional voicemail message or answering machine message and check the messages often.
Tip # 3: Think about how to display your business address.
How are you going to display your physical location? There are a few different options available. Most home-based business owners will say that they accept meetings by appointment only, to discourage clients from “dropping in” while they’re still in their jammies and haven’t had their morning coffee yet. If you don’t want your customers to know you work from home, two other options are using a P.O. Box or attaching a “Suite” number to your address. If you use a P.O. Box, you will have to give your home address out for packages and anything they want to courier to you, but it does provide anonymity and discourages drop-in visitors. If you attach a suite number to your address in order to make it appear a “business office,” make sure you mention to your postal carrier that you’re running a home-based business and that’s why there’s a different address on there.
Tip # 4: Define your office etiquette rules to your family.
What are the rules going to be for your kids and family members when you’re on the phone or meeting with a client? Are you going to set a timer so they know when you’ll be available? Are you going to have set office hours and not meet with clients outside of those times? Are you going to have a play space in your office? This is especially important if you’re going to have small kids playing nearby (quietly) while you work.
Tip # 5: Invest in professional-quality promotional products and marketing pieces.
Don’t print off business cards from your printer, unless you have a top-of-the-line printer. Invest in professional-quality business cards and brochures. If you can, have some letterhead printed up, too, for contracts, letters to prospective clients and any correspondence that is business-related. If you’re printing promotional products like T-shirts or apparel, coffee mugs, mousepads, etc., check the quality of the products put out by the printer you wish to use. Don’t just “price-hunt,” look around for the best quality and invest in your business.
Finding your niche so you can concentrate. When you find out what your specialty is
then you can start to promote to the people that are working on the same type of things
you are. Are you just with a program to make money as an affiliate? Do you have your
own website that goes back to your affiliate site? Are you selling homemade products?
Are you someone that is selling from his/her own store or mall? There are so many
different things to promote and you want to reach your target audience to get the results
that you are seeking.
Outline your tasks daily using the day timer you will know what day and time you can
repost your ads or emails to Safelists. This is a great time saver. If you have multiple
email accounts a program called Thunderbird by Mozilla is tops, login one place and
check them all at once. A lot times for every task to get the most important done early
when you are full of energy. Take breaks so you can re-evaluate what you are doing and
be more receptive to tasks still to be done. Organization will set you above the crowd
because you will accomplish more.
Reach your crowd after finding your niche you need to advertise to your target. Go to
forums and post to the ones that fit your niche so you will be working your ads to people
with the same goals and targets you have. In the forums you will not be able to blatantly
set your ads out, post what you would like to add and then leave your signature with your
URL in it. If they enjoyed or learned from your post they might want to follow up by
visiting your site.
Mentors get you trained and help stimulate the learning process. They keep you fortified
with uplifting values and appeal to your excitement. With the right mentor you will go
farther because you are learning from them, this shortens your learning curve. When you
work with others listen and you will gain information from them from what they have been
doing in their promotion.
Using every avenue of promotion, traffic exchanges also use banner views for your credits.
They have blog exchanges, you view others blogs to get traffic to your blog. They also have
banner rotators you can post one url in the banner slot with 5 banners loaded to cycle
through. Just a few of the ways to make your time work better with tools online. Before you
purchase any software online check out and see what other people have to say about it at
Google. This is a way to find out before you have put out your money for software that will
not be used. Market wisely and then you will be in the profit zone.
Leave nothing to chance, ad trackers help you to find which promotion is working for you.
This also depends on titles and content when this has been checked and it still does
not pull people in, then leave the non-producers behind and find new ones. Traffic
Hoopla has the top promoters listed every week; this is a good resource to check. This
one costs but still a good resource- Traffic Testers.
Advertise, and advertise some more, you just have to get the word out. Even the big names
put their logos and advertising out there for millions of dollars. You can start with the free
ones and after making money move on and put your money out for paid advertising. Keep your
records so you know what you are spending and what is bringing the people to your site.