Category Archives: Strategic Planning

money

Affiliates can be your Valued Sales Team

Affiliates can be your Valued Sales Team
By Talmar Anderson

On the rise with ecommerce and online products are the opportunities to grow your sales team. Or on the flip side, a way to increase your income through recommending people, brands and products for compensation. Do either of these options really sound like a bad idea for your business? This incentive creates questions and worry for both the entrepreneur considering this “cut” into their profits and the referral source. I do believe that this can work for a variety of industries so let’s talk a little bit about affiliations!

As a potential commissioned referral source, a common argument stems from the concern that you do not want to be perceived as solely incentivized by being paid to recommend something or someone.  That it could appear as self-serving as opposed to prioritizing the needs of your contact. I get it. I too walked the line for many years and turned down offers of compensation from great providers and vendors that I 100% believed in and to whom I continually referred. I wanted to be able to point to my referrals and say that I was only recommending them as a great solution for prospects.

After several years and establishing a reputation for referring the best possible referrals for each individual need, I realized that I was literally leaving money on the table.  Yep. I was going to refer those people anyway. Yes, I could genuinely and honestly look prospects in the eye to assure them that my expertise, education and experience led to any recommendation. Not the check book! I do have a few affiliates (from tools like Lead Pages or ConvertKit to trusted business owners that can offer a benefit to my clients and audience like The Lucky Bitch) that I recommend when it fits.

Now what if you are thinking of paying affiliates or commissions to other referral sources? I know, they SHOULD be referring to you because you are amazing and no one can solve your clients issues as well. However, sometimes the marketing campaign to be in front of your referral sources can get lost in your company’s outreach to new lead generation or current prospects.  It is true…there are only so many hours in a day.

By monetizing those referrals, you allow the source to be incentivized and rewarded for sales.  The first time that income comes back to them, your company WILL be top of mind.

What about doing the numbers to decide?  In our example, we are offering a 25% affiliate fee on a $100 product. Imagine you could average 10 sales a month of your $100 product through your own company. Boom! $1,000

Now imagine if one of your best strategic partners could get you in front of another 10 people but maybe only 3 bought through them.  $300 – $75 = $225 income for YOUR company.  This came off someone else’s marketing and sales efforts (AND expense!). Your referral source was already planning on being in front of this market.  They qualified the need for your solution and completed the sale for you! This effort exposed your company and services to a wider market and grew your revenue by 22% thus expanding your credibility AND cash flow!

Plus, it is TOTALLY FUN to cut a check to those referral sources with a big, fat THANK YOU written on it.  The referral source is excited because they just made another $75 off conversations they were going to be having anyway.

Could you operate profitably and scale your business by having a stronger pool of pre-qualified prospects? While this example is based off a client’s experience, consider that we developed a specific and strategic operational plan to support the intake, payment tracking and communications with these referral sources. For success, this is will require creating another operational layer. However, with the right affiliates you gain access to new markets and qualified sales.  This can be especially beneficial during new launches or product offerings.

It may not be right for every company but in the on-demand market of small businesses, sales forces are much smaller than the larger corporations had access to in the past.  Is it worth it to your company’s bottom line to find a way to reward those strategic partners that are already working on creating income themselves?  It is something to consider when looking for new ways to grow your revenues.

Now GO! Grow!

Check out more of the latest blog posts from Talmar It Up HERE.

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. 

 

 

 

Hand with missing jigsaw puzzle piece. Word RIGHT, covering  the text WRONG. Business concept image for completing the final puzzle piece.

Story of a WORKING strategic plan!

Story of a WORKING strategic plan!
(it has a surprise ending…)

By Talmar Anderson

Today we will look at a part of the Talmar It Up strategic plan in an effort to share possible outcomes in your own strategic plan! Having spoken as a part of many business retreats and conferences, Talmar It Up had created The Takeoff Series in 2016. A limited number of clients learn a focused agenda on specific, yet varied, business topics over 2 days in a small group setting. I had been approached about growing this segment of my firm. Retreats/conferences specifically. Part of the current TIU strategic plan was to research and develop the Takeoff series on a larger scale. Scaling, right? That is my thing!

Many concepts were considered and structures evaluated of how to build a consistent and appealing business education based vacation that delivered all that clients would expect. As part of my plan, several months ago, I scheduled to attend a 3 day conference out of town in an industry adjacent to mine that was being offered by a peer and woman I admire. The benefit of attending for the results offered was doubled because I was going with an eye to observe and consider, from the operational stand point, all the moving parts.

Phew! Hats off to the event planners of the world. Those conferences are, well, a lot! The conference I attended was amazing. Well-staffed with top notch and accessible people at every level throughout the entire event. The site chosen worked to allow for community building and attendee privacy. The speakers and presenters truly came from a place of education and were open to interact with the attendees consistently. The company that offered the conference was prepared and professional. There were no lines or long waits for any of the transitional moments of the entire group. This was a beautiful orchestra in motion.

And in that experience I saw that it could be done. Scaling this was a real opportunity for my company. I could surround myself with the right people to get this done for my clients and business.

And then in THAT moment I did the secret to success and happiness check. Do you know what I am talking about? A huge part of strategic planning is considering what could be, planning out what it would take to deliver…truly deliver the plan to your audience, and then ask yourself “Do I really want to do this?”

Do you want to commit your company’s time to offer this regularly? Do you want to commit X% of your company’s money and resources to making this happen? When you think of the work involved…do you get excited for the challenge or tired from the energy it will require? Heck, will it be any fun delivering for your clients in this way?

As I participated and enjoyed the benefits of the wonderful event, I looked at the host and thought, she is brilliant at this. I also knew that I was not interested in growing the Takeoff series into the bigger offering. I apply for myself the same insight I use for others. Because I could, doesn’t me I have to do it.

I will, of course, still speak at conferences and retreats, however Talmar It Up will continue to only offer the limited retreats series.The scaling of the event would require several days of general help to the clients. Beneficial yes but I know that my one on one connection of delivering specifically for each client’s business model needs is my true happy dance inciting work. Both for me and for them.

Strategically, that is not me playing small. My podcast allows me to influence more and more people throughout the globe. Conferences I attend as a speaker allow me to reach hundreds. However, the time and energy to plan, organize and manage those kind of events will take me too far from how I like to deliver in my work.

And so the strategic plan worked! By working the steps of my own strategic plan I can confidently let go of the time, money and resources I was allocating for that expansion. I will review my strategy to see if this leaves a hole or where Talmar It Up can further diversify and grow. It was not a failure or wasted resources to spend money, time and research efforts on something Talmar It Up will not move forward upon at this time. I know where I don’t want to take Talmar It Up and that in itself creates focus. Can’t wait to see what the future is bringing now that I let go of that goal to create new space! Now GO! Grow!

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Check it out in the latest blog post HERE.

346h

Social Media Engagement is More Than a Thumbs Up!

Social Media Engagement is More Than a Thumbs UP!
By Talmar Anderson
Talmar It Up, LLC

 

“Social media is THE way to economically and organically grow a business.” That is what a lot of entrepreneurs are being told by well-meaning friends, vendors and other business owners.  And it certainly can be. However, please be aware that engagement is REALLY how social media works for helping significant leaps happen for your company.  Clients sometimes list social media under their marketing plans with a line item expense of little to minimum costs.  I challenge that because your social media plans need to include engaging with your audience to take full advantage.  Engaging certainly costs more (whether more of a commitment of your and your team’s time or by hiring an outside marketing vendor) but WOW, that is where that exciting and exponential growth can come from for your company.  Whether growing to a billion dollar company like Chobani or developing a raving and true following like Chubbies Shorts (clothing line with marketing content that is real AND funny), engagement can help a company sell products/services, grow market share, build brand awareness and even improve operations. (You know I love the last part!) …. Consider focusing on this piece if social media is in your marketing plan or a part of your strategy for the year.

Pushing out posts, messages and pictures can provide true value when engagement is a part of the plan.  Your social media plan must include assigning not just the content creation and the management of the posting schedule, but also who is authorized to respond to your audience. How are they allowed to position your company through responses? also cover how to capture and track the engagement data that your audience is giving you with every “thumbs up”, share or comment.

As you start spending time and energy for engagement consider that it is more than going through to “like” posts. Your process should include thoughtful consideration on how you handle the good and bad comments. Want a great response? Choose an area that you think you are doing well and ask that loaded question. “What could we do better with…?” Boy howdy, strap into your seat and get ready. Continually encouraging feedback (good AND bad) will help your company define and improve on what your clients really want. We all know that social media lets the public they you what they really think about any given subject.

What can engagement do for YOUR company?

  • PR (stands for public RELATIONS people!)
    • building a larger market opportunity through awareness and education
  • Build your brand and reputation
    • Here is where your company’s responsive, timeliness and topical relevance can shine
  • Improve customer satisfaction and operations
    • Gathering data on what clients like, want, don’t like and LOVE. See below for a great example!

I love this one excellent example that could EASILY be applied by any small business. Recently, Elon Musk and his company Tesla took a social media post complaining about how cars were parking in the charging stations and within eight days created an entirely new company wide- process. It is well thought out. (Check out this Inc. article for more details HERE). This whiplash-speed operational change not only resolved the issue to incentivize people to get out of those spots and free them up for other customers who need to charge their electric cars but allowed that it could also create a new revenue stream.

I do recommend developing your social media plan to include a thorough engagement commitment and policy. Certainly, an outward push is helpful but incoming information and your team consistently monitoring to allow responsive, considerate engagement and ensure there are no great opportunities missed is where the bigger “bang for your dollar” comes in.  The right engagement in the right moment will enhance your reputation, build a more loyal fan base and potentially grow more of the market share. Engagement can help you deliver exactly what your clients want AND operational follow up can build immediate brand loyalty and strengthen your company’s reputation. Now Go! Grow!

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Check it out in the latest blog post HERE.

 

 

 

43h

Surveys and Polls. Yes but the Proof is in the Bottom Line!

Surveys and Polls. Yes but the Proof is in the Bottom Line!
By Talmar Anderson

Understanding what needs and results your market will be moved to purchase can be a changing target.  Specific review and checking in with your customers and prospects is always a great step as a focused effort ( at LEAST annually). Technology changes accessibility to solutions, economic swings can inspire more or less spending and innovation can change an entire industry.  (VHS anyone? I still say “tape” to digitally record anything!) If you have been following the Talmar It Up blog or worked with me in any way, I hope you have heard me say, “Sell what your audience wants to buy instead of what YOU want to sell”.  The idea is that some business owners will be convinced that a product or service is what their target market really wants or needs. “Really. They need this.”  During these conversations, I love to get it straight from the “horse’s” mouth.  There are a few ways to do this…let’s check it out.

Surveys and polls are a great a way to reach out and create a separate conversation opportunity outside of the in the moment service or purchase. Maybe you have a system that delivers the survey to the clients at the end of the engagement or perhaps you just want to do a focused assessment of a general concept.  How is one solution working for the market?

Even if you regularly collect this data, a big picture overview with an eye to the next 12 months can be hugely beneficial.  These efforts can start internally but may need to include research for a larger market not just your clients. However, don’t let this stop you. At least start with your current contacts, prospects and clients to gather data.

During these surveys pick 3-5 questions that are targeted at a certain product or service satisfaction level.  If you try to capture too much at once, your few willing participants will get interrupted, frustrated or lose interest and you will receive far fewer responses. Look at interaction on the value or benefits your company’s solutions offer to current client pain points.  If your company offers more than one solution, you can ask them to rank their preferred product or solution. Regardless of how you structure your surveys remember this is just a sampling of the views of a few within your market. Certainly, there is value here but it is a limited perspective.

A poll is a quick and focused way to lead your market to respond to one specific question. This single question with multiple choice answers allow you to lead and limit choices.  As we know, there is usually one person who will choose ‘None of the Above” because they feel the choices do not perfectly fit their way of thinking.  You can consider allowing “Other” as a choice with a write in field.  Some innovative and clever ideas can come in this way but it can dilute the focus if you are trying to understand how your offering fits with your thought out alternatives in the pol question.

If you are choosing this time to understand what your market wants from you…I would also consider talking to their wallets! Let’s do a 3-6 month review of YOUR company.

If you are trying to decide where to focus your next marketing effort or which product service to be promoting, make sure to go back to your numbers.  What has ACTUALLY resulted in revenue for your company? Is anything trending up?  This can be enlightening and get you ahead of either a growing need.  Take the time to understand why these customers purchased because you have readily available access. What you have sold over the last few months IS what your market wanted.

Asking you clients, prospects and target market what they need and want to buy is a regular part of any business looking to have longevity.  Very few companies sell exactly the same item, exactly the same way 5, 10 or 20 years down the line.  Certainly, more than a few companies that have kept the nose to the grind stone and just kept pounding out the products have been run out of business.

By asking we can gain insight, inspiration and validation for our company and its services. This can also uncover a new opportunity or segment of your target market to access. Growth, my friends, is often on the other side of an ask. The most successful entrepreneurs and business owners LOVE a good question! Now GO! Grow.

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Or reach out to chat with Talmar for structure and process to grow your business HERE

Phone and notebook

Are You Plugging the Dam or Building a Foundation?

Growth Strategy
By Talmar Anderson

One of my favorite client “aha’s” is when I can help create a real opportunity for finding scaleable, qualified and culture fitting help for business owners.  If you have worked with Talmar It Up, you know that while the answer is delivered quickly so is the reality check of making a strategic plan to develop success in hiring. What?….you thought hiring was all about ….”My hair is on fire!  We must find anyone to get this off my plate RIGHT NOW!’  Certainly most business owners spend their time this way. It is their….ahem, “hiring strategy”. ***sad trombone**

Because I know you are spending all that time and money to grow your business through your marketing and sales efforts…I challenge you to spend a chunk of your time on a hiring strategy. What if we could ensure potential team members

  • Will be able to understand your industry, process and your customers,
  • “Want” to be a part of a team like you are building,
  • Hold matching values to your company’s core values and
  • Can contribute to your company’s growth?

By making a plan to be in front of these potential team members BEFORE we have a need, we can position our company for some seriously successful business growth!

Think about how much less stress you would have if you already had a few names in your rolodex (yes…I am that old. The rest of you Google it!) that you had already vetted? Knowing them to be able, knowledgeable, a good personality and culture match leaves only the conversation if they want to be a part of your team (availability and money). Soooo much easier and maybe even exciting now! Can that new team member drive a dramatic shift or change in your operations?

How do we make sure we can be in the know? One of my favorite ways is to build on the concept your brand strategist and marketing peeps are probably already giving to you! Drive your positioning as a thought leader or expert in your industry by offering a facilitated place for you and good possible matches to get to know each other.  Host regular Meet Ups for those skill sets that your company will need in the future.  Build and facilitate a Group on LinkedIn for professionals in areas into which you want to expand. There are many communities and networking opportunities out there where you can even just consistently participate to get to know potential candidates. But start doing it NOW!

When you meet people consider what they do, not as competitive but, as possible future enhancement for your own firm.  Maybe they have a skill for something you will want to offer through your company in the future. You can get to know them. Ask question about the specific market place. Look at their work or talk with clients.  This can all be done without a specific job or assignment on the table today.  This getting to know them and their work over the next 3 months can help when your business has a rapid expansion need 9 months from now.

The benefits for this type of invested time are exponential.  You can

  • be relevant in your industry,
  • be out and hearing from others how the market place is reacting to their businesses and
  • be creating your own personal back book of who YOU would LOVE to have on your company’s team.

Doesn’t this sound infinitely better than the last minute rush to read through a mass of resumes or referrals which is only the starting point of vetting a team member for your company?

It is your job as the business owner to be looking ahead and not just stuck reacting to each leak in the dam in the moment. If you are not making the time for these kind of actions to build the foundation of your for the future of your company…I wonder what could possibly be different in the future for your company? No forward look. No change.

Tell me where you can be in front of possible independent contractors, vendors or employees? I’d love to know! Email me at TAnderson@TalmarItUp.com

Now GO! Grow!

 

Want more Talmar In your brain? Sign Up HERE for the Mailing Llist

Plan It out

A Startegic Plan for Your Strategic Planning?

A Strategic Plan for Your Strategic Planning?
By Talmar Anderson

Have you heard the following words but thought it sounded like something lofty that only big or super successful companies do?  Company retreats. Quarterly strategy sessions.  Meeting with an advisory board.  Are these words you hear but think…”Oh I can’t WAIT until I have the luxury to spend a WHOLE day planning!”….errr, bummer.  “Bummer?”, you ask. Why am I disappointed for you? Because you have missed the understanding that making this time is a discipline…not luxury.  You are missing the concept that without purposefully creating a safe space to sit, think and consider…change cannot come.  Certainly not as easily or quickly as if you applied purpose and intention behind it! Strategic planning is the “HOW” to your “What” for goals and vision.

Having said that, strategic planning sessions can be less than useful if you do not have a focused idea of where the meeting needs to go.  In a seemingly conflicting idea, the best strategy planning sessions allow for the fluidity of conversation and inspiration to take the lead.

In great strategy sessions you may come up with some brilliant new concept. In that same meeting you and your team may talk it completely out of implementation. And that is OK!  If coming out of a strategy session leads to understanding where your business IS NOT going you have created clarity, saved resources and can more easily focus company messaging.  That is progress!

Regardless of stage of growth, strategy planning is when we look at our current goals to consider how they are working, what possible changes we could make and which direction to move forward.  Often goals are refined or even changed. These can be annual assessments. Quarterly sessions work for some, including Talmar It Up clients.  This allows us to piece out concepts and not try to do it all at once.  One quarter it may be diversification and possible new incomes strategies.  The next quarter it might be shifting independent contractors to employees.  The next may be about analyzing and understanding workloads and true profitability. Maybe the forth will be brainstorming on strategic partnerships for the next year. All those sessions would support an annual goal that includes doubling net income and positioning for a second office within 3 years.

Committing to the time and scheduling these meetings create intent and permission to NOT be working on client needs, sales conversations and other traditional day-to-day profit driving actions.  Prioritizing a client need of an earlier delivery deadline is actually hurting you company.  You can easily set a reasonable client expectation that can be calendared around your strategy sessions. It is up to you to prioritize this company need of space and focus. In the end you will serve this client and all of your clients much better!

Strategic planning is where you get to STOP letting your business control your days, stress level and time sucks. You get to schedule a chunk (I use a minimum of 3 hours with my clients) that brings together controlled surroundings, brains and an agenda.

If you are using strategic planning, make sure you are getting the most out of it! Try these Talmar It Up requirements:

  • An agenda…it can be as simple as a concept but KNOW what you want to be focused upon. If you have a long list then prioritize what needs to be completed first. Do not move on until fully considered.  Some sessions will only address one topic. This is the meeting where you do NOT speed through the agenda.
  • Other brains. This could include your staff, a mentor, a coach or a full group of experts that act as you advisory board. The benefit of having different experiences and perspectives is priceless. Sincerely.
  • A set timeframe. You can talk circles around any topic.  To be productive, a time limit will create an ending and thus decisions!
  • Documentation – At Talmar It Up, we record the audio AND create written action plans for all of our strategy sessions. This creates a resource to help re-focus or clarify in times of stress.

And the number one MUST do for successful strategy planning sessions…

  • Follow up and implementation. One person needs to be in charge of creating movement for the company on these strategic plans. I am looking at you!  CEO/ Founder / Head Everything. This is the job description.

Strategic planning is the discipline and commitment that allows you the opportunity to create a business and life that includes luxury! ***mic drop***

 

Want more Talmar in your brain? Sign up HERE

262H

Training New Hires Got You Down?

Training New Hires Got You Stressed?
Do this to smash your stress!

By Talmar Anderson

For entrepreneurs that have had bad experiences hiring, the training is the “thing” they point to as the worst part. Have you ever been disappointed? That seemingly smart and motivated person now seems unfocused. That new hire that sold themselves as a self-starter is jamming up your email inbox with questions. That outgoing people loving candidate keeps coming back to your office and seemingly hiding while interrupting YOUR work flow after every new customer call to discuss deliverable options. Have you had any of these experiences? I have even heard some clients complain they weren’t sure it was worth the growth and scaling of their business! YIKES! Other people can and will help you build your business. Success does not have to be created only by you. If you have ever thought “it would be awesome if I never had to do this again”, I have 3 steps you can do to make hiring and training for the growth of your business MUCH, MUCH easier!

First a truth, training is hard ….if you make it that way! Training can go like clockwork. Planning and process plus a commitment to make your time accessible can give everyone a real chance for success. Let’s look at …

3 New Employee Training Stress Smashers

  • Make time to document and create your procedure manual
    • By creating the written procedures you are giving the employee a place to find success and possibly create clarity and answers for themselves (READ:  fewer interruptions to your workflow!)
  • Hire correctly
    • No rushing. No “good enough”. No skipping references!! Of course you will start with your job description first – your defined requirements…right? (If not, READ THIS!)
  • Make time to manage.  
    • You have to plan to be available for the new employee on a regular basis. Give them ways to communicate their questions and consistent calendared time on your schedule.

Successful employees will have questions at different stages of their new employment.  An employee cannot actually think of every question in the 2 hour training period you schedule on the first day.  The human brain needs time to absorb.

As the job is absorbed and considered over the next few days, weeks, and months, the new employee will start applying their own past experiences which creates the possibility of understanding AND the need for more question time.  They will want further clarification or instruction to ensure this new found understanding is correct and that you are satisfied.  The new employee is very aware that your satisfaction is required to stay employed.  Don’t be so upset that an employee wants to do it the right way…your way!

I can hear you now, “I don’t have time right now…maybe next spring.” Waiting for the slow time to hire because you will have more time is not the right way to think about your hiring process and documentation.  Put in the extra hours now because this is one investment of YOUR time that will always pay off. I promise. Even if you cannot get the full procedure manual done during a real crunch time, you can have your new employee help you fill it in as part of their role!

Please understand that it is 100% unrealistic to assume that a person will walk into a position that neither has a job description of their roles and responsibilities nor a procedure manual on HOW you want your business to perform to create any real satisfaction for you. You will not be able to give them all the details they need, all the locations of answers, or all the possible actionable steps in a quick 15 minute meeting every morning. As brilliant as you are, YOU will not remember to tell them every detail. Then they will disappoint you. Then you both will start to formulate judgements and the snow ball starts rolling!

You might as well start placing another employment ad. A good employee will want a company to offer more structure and stability so they will keep interviewing. A bad employee will stay as long as they can handle your mounting frustration because you will start to pull the work back onto your plate…while they get paid. Ouch….

If you need to hire for your company’s growth, start preparing now.

Now GO! Grow!

P.S. If you are trying to know when you should hire for your company, you could check out my blog post on that topic HERE!

Want more Talmar in your brain? Sign up for the mailing list HERE!