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What The Tech? Top 3 Questions To Ask When Investing in Technology

Are you feeling overwhelmed with the latest tech talk?

If you’re anything like me, technology doesn’t get your go. In fact, it’s a little overrated.

I’ve spent thousands of dollars and time experimenting with software, equipment and online courses to discover there’s a lot of mediocre products out there.

Not to mention, purchased items I have yet to use.

Sound familiar, right?

I gained tons of wisdom that I’ll share with you so you can avoid costly mistakes.

Before you invest in technology ask yourself,

Will you actually use it?

Many times we run out to buy the latest tech because of the perceived benefits. Little consideration is given to the time and practice it’ll take to learn it. To implement a program, software, or equipment takes more time than we realize because new habits must be developed. Is it user friendly? Is support included? Are there additional fees? Any tech that will drastically change the way you work is not for you no matter how awesome the benefits are.

What problems do you want to solve?

Are you having issues with workflow, customer engagement, or sales? Identifying the root causes of issues will eliminate a lot of headaches. How many times have you purchased a solution that only addressed the symptom? Diagnosing problems is 80% of the work so take the time to identify the real problem before shopping for a solution.

Does it align with your philosophy?

How you run your business must be aligned with your why. If you’re an entrepreneur that’s big on building relationships, your communication methods shouldn’t heavily rely on email and social media. Doing so will be a breech of integrity and you’ll lose trust from prospects.

Tech you should invest in.

Technology is meant to compliment your work and make doing business manageable. It can never replace the human element. Software that helps with the back-end of your business like project management, velocity, and finance, will save money and minimize human error. Software such as CRMs and email automation handles the front-end of your business, where you engage prospects and clients. Using tech that assist with the front-end of your business will help increase revenue.

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What You Should Know About Chatbots


If you’ve heard talk about chatbots and are wondering what they are, you’re not alone. As the online world is constantly changing, it’s hard to keep up at times.
Chatbots are computer programs that mimic conversation with people using artificial intelligence.

Huh?

Like Amazon’s Alexa and iOS-Siri, chatbots act as an online concierge in text form. They can help customers search for a product, answer customer support questions, check the weather forecast, etc. By using artificial intelligence, chatbot programs learn your preferences to provide notifications, search information upon request, or hold conversations with you.

This sounds cool and creepy at the same time (two words, Minority Report).

Time is a premium for busy people and who isn’t busy? We search for ways to simplify and enrich our lives. Chatbot programs are playing a major role in helping us manage daily routines, or are they (Hear from Facebook’s Vice President of Messaging Products David Marcus)?

Companies cash in on the benefits too since chatbots can improve customer experience, simplify customer support, save time and money.
Yet the boundaries of privacy continues to fade as convenience is given more importance.

Why are chatbots a big deal?

Besides all the benefits chatbot programs have to offer, data has shown that more people spend time on messaging apps than on social networking sites. In other words, people want to connect with friends in a private and personal way.

As a result, companies are forced to find new ways to reach their targeted audience. With chatbots companies can engage customers in a human way with little interruption of their daily routine.

No matter the concerns about artificial intelligence and it’s uses, this gravy train ain’t stopping.

As a business owner and consumer, I definitely see the advantages of using chatbots. As explained in the article, The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Chatbots By Matt Schlicht. Chatbots could replace apps and even websites in the near future. All business owners should know about this technology and how it can impact their industry.

If you’re interested in exploring Messenger’s chatbot platform click here.

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Want To Attract New Clients? Leverage Your Relationships

If you wanted to increase the number of new clients you served, what tactics would you use?

Would you increase marketing efforts, do more prospecting, or discount offerings to existing clients?

Most business owners would do at least 1 or all 3 of the tactics listed above. Yet each tactic comes with a hefty price tag. There’s a smarter way to increase your clients and it starts with your existing client base.

Savvy leaders leverage relationships to attract new clients. Do you?

In today’s modern world of internet networking, business owners assume electronic communications is all you need to keep your clients engaged.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Good business leaders understand the power of personal connection and use other methods of communication to nurture relationships.

With just a few tweaks to your communications strategy, you can leverage your existing client base to generate new clients

1. Reconnect with past clients, vendors, and associates. I get it, we all have contacts that have fallen through the cracks. More than likely, they’ve thought about you and wondered, so reconnect. If you’re embarrassed because you haven’t kept in touch, admit it. Acknowledge your guilt, apologize, and commit to consistent communication.

2. Identify the rock stars. Not every client deserve personal attention but your rock stars do. Those that have referred people deserve more than a thank you email. They deserve a bouquet of flowers, a gift card, or small appreciation gift. By acknowledging their efforts with a small gift, you’ll motivate them to continue referring clients to you.

3. Commit to good content. If you send e-newsletters, make sure it’s worthwhile to read. Emailing coupons and offerings shouldn’t be the only content they receive. Mix it up, entertain, inform, and uplift.

4. Connect on a human level. Putting relationships first sounds great but are you walking the talk? Do right by your clients by serving them on a personal level. What are their wants beyond the services you provide?

 

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Why Unhappy Customers Cost More Than You Think


As customers, we’ve all experienced lousy products and services. Most of us shrug it off and vow never to buy from that company again. Yet there’s a special few who go the extra mile in getting their revenge.

If you’ve shared your bad experience with others, complained to the company, or gave a bad review on social media you’re part of that special few.

Sure, at one time or another, we’re all been part of that group.

Do you know how much money you’re costing companies every time you write a bad review, or call customer service to complain?

To put bluntly, you’re costing them ALOT!

As consumers, this may sound like justice being served, but if you’re a business owner, you should be concerned and here’s why.

 Unhappy customers create a domino effect of revenue loss.

Companies lose much more then life time revenue. In Fred Richfield’s book The Ultimate Question 2.0, Fred explains the domino effect unhappy customers (detractors) create which results in huge revenue loss.

How can a detractor create a domino effect of revenue loss?

The unhappy customer takes their anger out on your frontline staff creating low morale. Dealing with 1 or 2 disgruntled customers is common place. Yet, as the number of detractors grow, the greater the impact on company morale and job satisfaction. The once serene workplace turns into a negative work environment which results in talented staff quitting.

Employee turnover is an expensive problem.
A Huffington Post article titled, How Much Does Employee Turnover Really Cost, by Jack Altman, states the cost of losing an employee is 1.5-2.0x an employee’s annual salary.

Darn you unhappy customers!

In addition, detractors impact revenue by bad mouthing your company. If your company’s brand isn’t well establish this could spell disaster, especially if you lack enough social proof to overcome negative reviews. For a prospect to consider your services, it could take 5 to 10 positive comments for every negative comment made.

Ouch!

To truly know how much unhappy customers are costing your business, calculate the potential revenue of a lifetime customer, plus the cost of loss staff, plus the loss of prospects and referrals.  Multiply this number by each detractor and that’s how much revenue your company is losing.

Yes, it’s a big number and why customer relationships are so important.  Customers can be your best salesforce, or your worse critic.

In essence, unhappy customers can put you out of business.

So moral of the story, do right by your customers!

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How To Optimize YOUR Brain Power & Take Massive Action

If you created your 2018 Business Success Plan or are working on it, chances are your plan will call for massive action.

We optimize our resources for efficiency and value. Why not optimize the most powerful asset available to us, our brain?

Most entrepreneurs buy in to the latest trend of hustling and overlook the importance of enhancing our brain power. Yet, when it comes to taking massive action, providing your brain what it needs to deliver peak performance wins hands down.

Experienced business owners understand how their brains operate and work with it to optimize results. Do you?

What do you need to know about your brain for peak performance?

We’ve all experienced the auto pilot effect.

For example, arriving home with few memories of the mechanical process of driving there, or our daily morning routine. When we repeatedly do something, it becomes second nature.

When you form habits they become part of our subconscious, or long-term memory. Using less energy, you perform habitual activities without thinking about them. Learning something new, or solving complex problems requires more energy.
You have to think about what you’re doing because it’s stored as a short-term memory.

The goal for brain optimization is 3-fold; to transition vital information from short -term to long- term as quickly as possible, reserve energy, and restore energy reserves when depleted.

8 way to Optimize Your Brain Power

1. Empty your brain of to-do lists and ideas. Keep a notepad with you so you can jot down ideas when they come and use technology to create to-do lists. As David Allen stated in his book Getting Things Done, “Your brain is for having ideas, not storing them.”

2. Practice makes mastery. Move essential information and knowledge from short-term memory to long-term through practice and reinforcement. Once in long-term memory, you expend less energy.

3. Use pictures and music to remember information. Did you know that long-term memories are stored in the emotional brain? Linking information with music and pictures will enhance your memory.

4. Reserve decisions making energies. Use your energy to make important decisions. Energy used to decide what to eat can be used elsewhere. Decide on breakfast once and have the same thing for the next week or month.

5. Work on complex tasks during peak brain times. Do you know what time of day you’re the most alert and focused? Are mornings the best time for you? Maybe you prefer the afternoons or evenings. If you don’t know, experiment and find the time of day you’re laser focused. Tasks the involve planning, brainstorming, or tasks you don’t want to do should be worked on during your peak time. FYI, it’s normal to have more than 1 peak time.

6. Rest and recover. When work becomes challenging, give yourself a break for your brain to recover. Allow at least 15 minutes. If you’re feeling stuck and can’t find the answer, walk away and allow your brain to relax. You’ll find your brain will give you an answer when you least expect it.

7. Stay nourished. Avoid skipping meals and stay hydrated to restore energy.

8. One thing at a time. Multitasking is a huge energy drainer. Avoid distractions and focus on one task for a determined time period.

BONUS: Have yet to create your 2018 Business Success Plan? Tap here to learn how to get started!

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Rookie Mistake: Awkward Sales Response

I enjoy networking. It’s one of many reasons I’m self-employed. Connecting with business owners is exhilarating. Until recently, I haven’t had to deal with being hit on. Either I’m completely oblivious when someone is flirting, or I assume it’s how some people build rapport. A week ago, I had an awkward encounter which  has given me reason to be more aware.

A prospect I met on a networking website wanted to start a referral program for his home improvement business. We discussed his needs and products options over the course of 3 months. He was very personable and we had a good connection.

While attempting to call a friend, I accidently dialed his number. Expecting a woman’s voice to answer, I quickly replied that I had the wrong phone number and hung up. After a few minutes, I realized who I called and that’s when I received a text from the prospect.

The text read, “I kinda wish you didn’t have the wrong number.”

Tickled about the situation, I immediately called the prospect back and jokingly explained what happened. We laughed and during our conversation,  he commented on the sexiness of my voice in a playful manner.

I laughed it off and didn’t think anything of it. He knew I had a boyfriend (at least I mentioned it before). We agreed to schedule a meeting for the following week.
Confident I would close him at our meeting, I began prepping paper work.

Finally!

All the time spent following up was paying off.

During the next few days, we scheduled an evening meeting via text at a local pub grill.

Prospect: “Is 6pm ok with you?”
Me: “Yes”
Prospect: “Cool, since it’ll be coming from work, could we get dinner?”
Me: “sure.”
Prospect: “Great it’s a date!”

Ummm wait, what? Let’s rewind this…. Personable guy, great business connection, thinks my voice is sexy, it’s date??
Oh no!

The feeling of uneasiness started to creep in. How should I reply? Should I brush it off? No, I gotta say something. I started to feel like a lady of the night.
Besides, if I kept this from Ryan, I would feel guilty.
Dang it!
I really want the sale. Should I risk losing the sale?
I completely over thought the situation and my conscience got the best of me.

I replied, “Well it’s more like a dinner meeting.”
Prospect: “When I said it’s a date, I didn’t mean a romantic date. I meant a date on the calendar.”
Like a rookie, I replied with a fist pump emoji.

Although my response was awkward, I was relieved. If it’s a misunderstanding, we can easily sweep this under the rug and continue the sales process.

To make a long story short, we didn’t meet. The prospect stood me up and never replied to my voicemail or text.
Yes, I lost the sale, but I wasn’t upset.

If he truly had no romantic intentions, he would have met with me, right?

I despite the rookie mistakes I’m pleased that I stood up for myself when I felt uncomfortable. Of course I could have used more tact, but practice makes mastery!

Have you ever experienced a similar situation? What did you do? I’d love to hear from you!

                                                                                  THANKS FOR READING MY BLOG!
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Purpose Revealed: Serving Entrepreneurs

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve gone off script with the last few posts and you may be wondering,”What the heck is going on?”

I’ve written about travel for several months and now you see posts about business and self-improvement.
Confusing right?

First, I’d like to apologize for the confusion.

The last thing I want to do is confuse my readers. I enjoy travel and believe in all the benefits it has to offer I’ve uncovered my true passion, helping entrepreneurs.

You know that feeling of complete bliss get after doing something you truly enjoy?

Well that’s the feeling I get when I serve entrepreneurs.

It’s time to accept my calling and share my wisdom with the world.

As a small business owner, I understand the challenges we face wearing multiple hats. We work countless hours marketing, serving others, and improving our business.

My entrepreneurial journey has been filled with triumphs and mistakes, Mount Everest peak highs and deep ditch valleys lows. Yet, through it all, I’m stronger, more confident.

I’ve spent countless hours prospecting, and feeding the marketing beast and almost depleted my resources. If I knew what I know now, I could have saved thousands of dollars and be further along in my business.

I want to share what I’ve learned with so entrepreneurs can avoid the same mistakes I’ve made.

I want your business journey be less tumultuous, and more fulfilling.

I’m committed to helping small business owners create relationship focused marketing strategies that are aligned with their branding and lifestyle.

We all know relationships are key to living a fulfilled life. It turns out the same is true for building a strong, sustainable business. There is a trend of hacking business relationships and it’s costing entrepreneurs money!

What if you could turn key clients into permanent referral sources? How much time and money would you save? How much money would you earn? It’s time to work smart not hard!

Future posts will focus on my passion and I ask for your patience as I transition. I’ll continue to write about travel as it relates to business and still include hot vacation deals from time to time.

If my new focus doesn’t interest you, no hard feelings. Share this posts with someone who would benefit from the information. If you’re a service provider and you’re tired of feeding the marketing beast, than stay tune for future posts.

Thanks for your understanding!

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Need More Referrals? Try Tiered Appreciation


Those who provide referrals should be thanked differently than those who provide leads. Thank everyone the same way and you overlook the superstars who could bring you more business.

Common sense right?

Yet most entrepreneurs send thank emails, or notes to everyone for everything and believe it’s effective.

Well, it’s not.

In fact, by showing your appreciation this way you’re hack your business and leaving money on the table.
Let me explain why.

There’s a difference between word of mouth,  leads, introductions, and referrals. They don’t have the same value.
Although each action markets your business, they don’t all motivate prospects to buy.

For instance, word of mouth buzz creates visibility. It doesn’t take much effort for your network to mention your business to others who need your solution. There’s little to no motivation for the prospect to take action.

A lead is contact information of someone who needs your solution. The only connection you have with the lead is the person who gave you their information. Name dropping might get you dedicated time (hopefully) but there’s no guarantee you’ll get the sale. In addition, you go through the same process as a cold lead.

An introduction puts you a step closer to a sale. When you’re introduced to a prospect trust is transferred to you and the sales cycle is shortened.

On the other hand, those who send business your way sell the prospect on why they need your services, what they like about you, and provides your contact information. All the upfront work is done for you. The prospect shows up wanting your services so there’s little work required on your behalf to close the sale.

All you need to do is to not screw it up!

True referral sources should be appreciated as the rock stars they are. They are literally your sales force and should be treated as such.
Tiered appreciation identifies the superstars in your network and who to give more attention to. Give your rock stars small gifts to show your appreciation and they’ll continue to refer you. Need help with gift ideas? Head over to the appreciation gift page.

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Relationships: Lessons From A Children’s Show

As I was preparing for the day this morning, I could hear a children’s show on the T.V. “Do something nice for your neighbor” was sung every few minutes.
At first, I was a little annoyed. But as it continued I paused and walked in the living room to see what the show was about. The Neighbor Day episode of Daniel
Tiger’s Neighborhood was playing.

Every time Daniel and his friends sung the phrase, “do something nice for your neighbor,” they performed different activities to show kindness. Daniel helped a neighbor carry grocery bags, helped the mail man deliver packages, gave gifts to neighbors, etc.

I stood there and watched the rest of the show calling to memory the life lessons I was taught as a child and how those lessons prepared me for adulthood.

How often do we as business owners forget to show kindness to our network?

Doing something nice for others is the cornerstone of relationship building because is brings value to their lives.

We all know the importance of relationships in business and some of us are masters at connecting.
Yet there’s always room to show a little more kindness.

Is there someone in your network you’ve been thinking of and haven’t spoken to in a while? A name that continues to pop up during discussions or in social media.

I encourage you to pick up the phone and call that person to check up on him/her. Have a conversation with no hidden agenda, and ask how you can help them.
Maybe you’ll get a business deal out of it, maybe not. The point is to show you care with no strings attached.

When we focus on relationship building, business growth is one of many side effects. The big reward is creating a group of people who care for you and in the grand scheme of things, relationships is the true measurement of a fulfilled life.

 

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Business Networking: How To Become A Premier Vendor

Have you ever attended a networking event that was full of card pushers? You know the ones who pitch to you right away, stuff their business card in your hand, and quickly move on to their next target? They have no interest in connecting because all about them.

If you ever been to a networking event, chances are, you encountered someone like this or you might be the over zealous networker (yes, I was one).

Many professionals have written off networking groups and believe it’s a waste of time because of lack of new business. Yet, there’s great value in meeting like-minded professionals. With the right mindset and strategy, you can network your way to premier vendor status with my top 3 suggestions below.

Why do you network?

Most professionals attend networking events to attract new clients and rub elbows with influencers. We all want to grow our business and lead generation is a simple solution. Networking isn’t about pitching on the first encounter. It’s about connecting to other people’s network.  So it’s not the person you meet who you sell to, it’s their network. In addition, networking groups can provide more than leads when you find the right group. It can provide support, a safe place to experiment, and a mastermind.

Yes, a one stop shop!

I found a network group I enjoy. It’s a divers group of entrepreneurs from all walks of life, there’s plenty of seasoned experts, and everyone’s friendly. I always gain valuable information and connections when I attend.

As a result of attending this group, my business is growing, I’ve gained life long friendships, I’m collaborating with other entrepreneurs on a few projects, and I’ve strengthened a number of skillsets.

It’s well worth the investment to find the right network.

What can you do for the network?

The quickest way to become known, liked, and trusted in a networking group is to serve. If you focus on helping others solve their problems without asking for anything in return, you will become top of mind. Volunteering, donating refreshments, or taking attendance can  work to your favor.

Networking to build relationships

Networking isn’t the best way to feed your business overnight because relationships take time to build. Ask around and look for a network group you can consistently attend. 

If you’re looking for a quality network group, use the Meetup app to start your search. I highly recommend attending Wisconsin Business Owners meeting held every fourth Friday of the month.

What networking groups do you recommend? Are paid networking meetings better than free ones? We want to hear from you!

 

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