Penn Wealth Publishing

2018.11.04 Penn Wealth Report Vol 6 Issue 04

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6 PeNN Wealth RepoRt volume 6 issue 04 04 Nov 2018 Penn Wealth RePoRt Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved. investment intelligence command & control haRvesting gold In "Bootstrapping, Part I" we learned how to navigate the legal waters to set up your business, create your company's website, take care of your office needs, and hire a "virtual" receptionist—all on a shoestring bud- get. While we were able to accomplish all of those tasks without going into debt, none of it matters if you aren't making potential customers aware of your brand and enticing them to take action. That is what we will tackle in this segment. Back during my US Air Force days, immediately follow- ing my return from Desert Storm, I decided it was time to try something new. Cross-training into the field of recruiting, I attended my first professional sales/market- ing/advertising training program at Lackland AFB in Texas. The acronym-happy military quickly introduced our class to a new term: AIDA. This stands for attention, interest, desire, and action, and the concept became the bedrock of our sales course. The beauty and simplicity of this classic sales and mar- keting model cannot be overstated. While many "more modern" marketing techniques, typically designed to separate you from your money, have muddied the waters, the sales process still revolves around the four steps of AIDA. Furthermore, each of the steps can be undertaken for your business without spending much money at all. Building brand awareness. You might well be offering a revolutionary product or service, far better than what industry-leading compet- itors can provide. Why, then, are you barely scraping by while they thrive? It has everything to do with brand awareness (I have seen some groups replace the word "attention" with "awareness," but the meaning is the same). If people are not aware of your brand, it is impossible to sell to them. The first step in the sales process, therefore, involves drawing attention to your brand. In the "old days," there were limited ways to build brand awareness, and they were all expensive. You could buy a radio spot, place an ad in the local paper, or even buy a little TV time. It became virtually impossible for the small players in any space to compete with established competitors because of the economies of scale. In other words, they had the budget, so advertisers would cater to them. A seismic shift in marketing and advertising began taking shape in 90s, giving small players huge leverage. Somewhere in my personal library, I still have at least one copy of a big, fat paperback book listing all of the "Worldwide Web" sites. It had a futuristic-looking cover, and inside, much like the Yellow Pages would list businesses, it broke down all of the websites by area. A paperback! This illustrates just how far we have come in a remarkably short period of time. Today, as we briefly touched on in "...Part I," for about $25 you can now buy a domain and for another $18 per month you can maintain a world-class website; a site that can be accessed by anyone around the world who owns a computer or smartphone. Consider the scope of that statement. For virtually nothing, you can, feasibly, offer your products or services to billions of people! Two gen- erations ago, even the most starry-eyed futurists did not see that one coming. This revolutionary development is the reason why Jeff Bezos is now worth $150 billion while Sears sits on the edge of insolvency. Your website is the nucleus of your social media strategy, around which all activities circle. There is nothing that will betray your business venture faster than an unprofessional website. In this day-and- age, with the powerful tools we have at our fingertips, there is simply no excuse for a bad design or poor copy within a site. It doesn't matter if you are a homebuilder, an auto repair shop owner, or an author—put forth a pro- fessional digital face. Think of the company website as your headquar- ters. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year; working continuously on your behalf. Take a look at the following website for a Michigan-based real estate company: https://www.alexanderealestate.com/ Consider using this site as your benchmark—it is the essence of professionalism. The site is aesthetically pleas- ing, easy to navigate, includes free tips and stories, and contains easy-to-locate contact information. On the com- pany blog, what is clearly visible at the end of each post synopsis? Different ways to share the story on a variety of social media platforms. If all of this seems like common sense, then why are 75% of small company websites vis- ibly sub-par? We noted that the real estate company offered free tips and stories. This is enormously important, as your Bootstrapping, Part II Sales, Marketing, & Advertising Now that your business is up and running, it is time to raise brand awareness and start gaining customers.

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