Back to Business!(Part 1)

by C. Lonell Haynes of Lonell Multimedia/Strong Beach Media

Usually when there is a period of partial or inactivity, this is when the team and I set aside some time to reflect on what is working and what is not.

When running a business, one can expect the entrepreneurial life to have its ups and of course, its downs. The dynamic range of events occurring during the course of a day in business is very wide. When it comes down to the things that matter, the numbers will determine what is working and what is a waste of the organization’s valuable resources. After awhile, it seems like the expenses are overwhelming, and days are slowly creeping by. You’ve done all of your follow-ups and lead generation processes when all of a sudden…

Nothing happening” can turn into “busy” in the blink of an eye.

One phone call, text, email or other message from a referral or potential client could make the difference between a having bountiful harvest of abundant profits or starvation during a drought.

So you’re sitting in your car or you might be at a local coffee shop grabbing some “pick me up” when out of nowhere, a message appears on you phone from an unknown number. You let it go to voicemail because you’re not about to fall victim to another robocall if you can help it! Your voicemail notification vibrates your device…

You have 1 New Message…

You have been here before. The anticipation of a referral’s recommendation has left a message stating that they have an aquaintance who may be in dire need of your services. In my case, web design, social media management and most multimedia projects.

“She has a website but it needs to be updated and logo created and…”

This is getting interesting because just an hour before receiving the message, I was beginning to wonder if running a small business is really what I am cut out to do…

Well, the next steps are critical to repeated success in closing the deal and moving forward with your business.

So many questions!

What happens next?

Do you call the referral back ASAP?

Do you send a quick reply using the contact info they left on your voicemail?

Gather more info on client by sending an introductory email?

Start a plan of action using C.R.M. before making contact!

The short answer to these initial questions:

ALL OF THE ABOVE.

But not all at once!

1 or a combination of 2 or more methods will work just as effectively.

Allow me to explain… in part 2 of this series: “Fish On The Hook!”

Thanks for reading my business diary! This segment is brought to you by a long time friend of mine, Brandon Adams and his team of professionals, Amirakal Marketing. This company takes care of my large scale printing and brand merchandise needs. When things get out of hand, Amirakal Marketing is my go-to for design work beyond my scope/skill. You don’t need magic, you just need Amirakal!

Until next time…

C. Lonell Haynes

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I’ve been down this road before…”The 5 Rules of Rejection”

It’s a game of chess not checkers. Things can get ugly very quickly when running your own business. Just move forward with dignity. People make their social media posts mostly about all of the highlights and positive aspects of their business dealings.

“Drink in Hand – Toes in sand”

We love to set the perfect scene: Imagine if you will, the sun is shining every now and then through “peek-a-boo” clouds. Seagulls gliding on what seems like an endless breeze. Waves gently breaking when they meet the shoreline. We are sitting in a beach chair with a huge umbrella making the perfect shade in this ocean paradise. A cup carved out of a coconut freshly topped off with it’s own umbrella sits within arm’s length on the small table next to us. The post title says it all. “Drink in hand – toes in sand”

Never has there been a time of perpetual perfection. Look for the signs of what is to come. There’s also a storm approaching. The first thing you notice is the eerie silence. Where did the birds go? Their instincts tell them to seek shelter soon. It’s getting darker and the clouds make it known they’re going to start a downpour and SOON.

“I’m going to hold off on this project for now. I’ll get back to you.”

Well now the torrential rain has started without warning. Now we’re scrambling frantically to gather items that will be ruined by the rain and using that umbrella as a temporary relief from the stinging raindrops.

Here’s the summary for those who don’t have time to read the whole thing:

Rule # 1 Don’t take it as a personal shot at you.

Usually, a rejection in business simply means that your service wasn’t what the prospect needed.

Rule #2 Expect to receive rejections.

It’s a numbers thing. Numerically, every business goes through rejection. Even the most successful businesses have and will receive turndowns. Rejection happens. Move forward with dignity.

Rule #3 Be professional.

This should have been Rule #1 but hey, are these rules in any order?No, not really. This could be just a “change of heart” so don’t toss that match and burn the very bridge you may need to cross in the future. There’s no reason for animalistic behavior. You need to remain polite and professional.

Rule #4 Ask why.

This last rule is a combination of steps to be performed in the final phase of a prospect’s refusal.

4a. Send a survey. They may be willing to give insight as to why they are not continuing with this project’s terms.

Perhaps, the deal is sour from their perspective due to a conflict of interest.

4b.If the terms are negotiable, mention that in your closing inquiry.

4c. Send one last-minute proposal.

Maybe they just need you to sweeten the deal. Throw in some free merch such as a T-shirt, or coffee mug with your logo. Even sending a calendar or note pad with your branding would be hard to throw in the garbage for most people. Leave all communication lines open. (see rule #3)

4d. Discuss the timeline of events leading up to the event(s) WITH YOUR TEAM.

This step is very necessary in pushing through the rejection phase of business. Everyone does not take rejection well. This oftentimes becomes reflection on what was left out of the original conversation that may help with future prospects.

4e. Treat it as a necessary part of the process. Our goal here is to minimize the heartache and maximize strategies that will result in fewer rejections.


4f. Be persistent. Some people are just window shopping. Others are naturally skeptical of other business owners and purposefully reject people. I actually had a prospective lead tell me they “…reject every new vendor or service provider’s initial offering just to see how serious they are about getting MY business.”

Bottom line: You’ll get through this storm with valuable lessons in customer relations management.

Last but not least, always offer an opt-out or remove from contact alternative. No need to continue with persistence when it’s TRULY unwanted.

CLH

I usually don’t get many referrals but when I do…(Part 1)

I give it my best! Treat my first like my last and my last like my first. Most of my business leads come from my social media pages, email inquiries and/or my website.

I’ll get referrals every now and then through friends and family, but lately those have come few and far in between.

So imagine the scenario:

“I have someone that needs help with <fill in the blank with a subject you identify as your realm of expertise>” Ex. Event Planning

Your initial thoughts may be:

How do I convert this “lead” into an “opportunity” and the opportunity into a “meeting”; meeting into a “client relationship”,etc. If you have been in business for a number of months or years, I believe you already understand the flow of this dynamic. Believe it or not, the process gets easier (and works for you more than against you) the longer you practice customer resource management.

-C. Lonell Haynes
StrongBeachMedia.com

What else do you think when this dynamic relationship starts?

  • How can I streamline the process of lead generation and lead conversion?
  • Where do I start?
  • Do I call them?
  • Do I email them?
  • How about I text them some info that they may find useful and put my contact info somehwere in that text…

Whichever comes close to these initial thoughts you have to put at least one of these methods of initial contact into ACTION!

Time is very valuable and the people I deal with, value their time tremendously. So move with purpose, get their contact details and make an initial phone call during regular business hours. If after business hours send an email!

It’s non-intrusive after business hours, and can be followed up the next business day with a “friendly introductory phone call” that may if not answered right away.

This should give your potential client an idea of how quickly and efficiently you can communicate when YOUR business is at stake.

I have never been told by a lead that I “contacted them too soon” or they were “not ready to have a conversation about business” during initial contact. If they talked about their needs to your referral, more than likely they are actively seeking quotes for business services.

Most will be pleasantly surprised at the professionalism and promptness of the first email or phone conversation if it is within the first 24 hours of that initial conversation with your referral.

If you found this useful, or have more to add, comment below or share this with someone who may need a compass that can get them headed in the right direction.

There is also more info on the web regarding:

Disclaimer: I don’t receive any compensation from any of the links above. I just think this is good info for business owners looking to help with those first critical steps in growing and running their business.

Until next time…

CLH

Should we meet by phone, online or over coffee?

by Cedric Lonell Haynes of Strong Beach Media

When I first started my multimedia business Strong Beach Media, converting leads into actual projects, I would follow a simplified checklist. Usually a questionnaire would be emailed to the lead.

I would direct the person to my website online and in particular the page where they could fill out the same questionnaire or at the very least, fill in a small contact form so we could continue the conversation sometime in the near future.

But what about the technically challenged? What about the person that does not have access to a computer, email, etc.? I found out early on that every potential client is not going to be aware of the latest tech. There lies the problem that many business owners face.

How do I reach those people? After the initial meeting, before discussing solutions, I knew I would have to meet with them in order to move forward with any business dealings.

Well, this method of getting to know them and their level of technical knowledge could be summed up from their answer to a very simple question.

“Should we meet by phone, online or over coffee?”

Responses vary:

Email? What is email? Online? Are you talking about meeting on a computer? How does that work? or the dismissive “I don’t know too much about that stuff…”

I would start by researching their particular field of expertise, review their current business model, test their social media presence, test their communication platforms all this before or during the actual interview of the potential client.

This made it quick and easy to reveal how my business could help their organization. Starting with our first official business meeting, I would break the ice with a 30- second “elevator pitch” about myself and my business. Then, I would promptly show where gaps and inconsistencies could hurt their business or organization’s mission.

Usually, this was done over coffee, but if I or the client were unable to meet in person, I would set up a video chat online and ask a series of general business questions while also having the ability to share my computer’s display simultaneously.

This method has worked for the majority of my consulting projects. No matter if the project involves audio recording, video production, website design or logo creation, my initial meeting methods have remained unchanged for the most part.

Lately, my clientele base has consisted mostly of people in their early 50’s to mid 60’s (baby boomers) with minimal to no internet presence.

Frankly speaking, I can completely understand why! The internet is a very powerful tool that can be quite intimidating to those of us who don’t participate in social media or internet meetings regularly.

Someone being shown examples of its potential may become overwhelmed with the complexity of it all. When a tool is both useful and harmful, it is often described as being “a double-edged sword” or being able to “cut both ways.”

I use the internet on a daily basis for both business and pleasure anyway so it’s a common occurrence for me to meet people and show them how to set up their computers to be video or audio chat ready.

If you plan on becoming a multimedia consultant or similar title you can bet that you will run into the type of clients that:

-never have used a computer before or email and doesn’t know where to begin the process

-used a computer before but used it such a long time ago that today’s computer technology is just too complicated for them to figure out without assistance

-are aware of the technology but someone else has always done the computer work for them so they are just clueless and uninformed

-don’t have the slightest idea about how to email media files and other documents, share files using cloud data storage, or even common tasks like sending and receiving files.

-never knew how an online presence can actually be beneficial to their business bottom line. (profitable)

So what does all of this mean? How does one become technically savvy without going through multiple years of training and daily computer use?

Unfortunately, there is no fast track to knowing all there is to know about technology, computers and networking. You can’t “plug in” like Neo from the “The Matrix” and all of a sudden you know how everything works! Impossible.

That’s where people like me can help people who are technically disconnected become more up to speed with internet tools. If Multimedia is the language, than I speak it FLUENTLY. I am immersed in it whether for business or for pleasure. I could be searching for images to use for a client’s logo one moment, or having conversations in a video chat with several people at once while sharing my computer’s display the next moment.

I could be up late watching videos of different species of saltwater fish in their natural habitats or researching cooking recipes that include Teriyaki as a flavor base. My point is, I use my computers and other mobile devices extensively.

My client base is usually the polar opposite, not too technically aware of concepts such as file sharing, and may at the very minimum have a Yahoo, AOL or SBC Global email from years ago that they barely use.

That’s ok. Different strokes for different folks. I’m quite aware that there are people who operate businesses for years without a social media presence, a personal or company website or even an email address.

Those who do not have regular access to a computer and/or email, I present them with mostly free or at least some reasonably priced near free options.

So, if you find yourself to be one of the people in the examples mentioned above,

I can help get you pointed in the right direction.

Visit my website www.StrongBeachMedia.com , like my Facebook page or check out my About Me page.

I always like to give something of value to my visitors so here it is:

Click here for 5 Free Resources Small Business Owners Should Know

If the link does not work you can copy and paste the text below:

https://www.fool.com/careers/2018/09/27/5-free-resources-small-business-owners-should-know.aspx

You do know how to copy/paste…

Right?

We have some homework to do…

-Cedric

Scammer Alert!

The scammers have discovered “copy and paste”! I get the same cookie cutter story at least twice a month. Different crooks asking for web design, audio-video production. Then, without even discussing the project details, they ask which payment methods I accept! Watch out because they are offering more than the quote plus asking you to pay their ”consultant” with some of the payment you will receive. You can read about the scammers here: https://alexwright.net/web-design-secrets/avoid-web-design-scams/ Alex W. shows us the red flags to look out for when dealing with potential clients online.