For all of you searching for the recipe for the buffalo chicken dip that we had at the BNI After Hours last week, here it is! If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained
2 ( 8 ounce) blocks of cream cheese, softened
1 cup ranch dressing (I use Hidden Valley)
3/4 cup pepper sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Heat chicken and hot sauce in a large skillet. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Stir until well blended and cream cheese is melted through. Mix in the cheddar cheese and transfer to a crock pot on low setting. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips and/or celery sticks. Enjoy!
Against my better judgment I’m going to let you all in on a little secret: Not all business is done online. Whaaaat? Yeah, I know. Even though it pains me to admit that and even though my livelihood is based around everything online, it’s true. If you stop and look around for a minute it’s easy to see that today’s society is less about person to person interaction and more about taking a picture of that person and putting it on Instagram and having them Tweet about it or you post that picture to Facebook or pin it to Pinterest or whatever the hell else you are going to do with it. Believe it or not, every now and then you have to actually talk to someone in the real world and get business done with a handshake.
So how do you get in front of the right person to make that eventual handshake possible? Do you just walk in to your target business ask for the boss and make your pitch? I think if you’ve ever cold-called a day in your life you already know the answer to that question is a resounding no. Business is all about the “who you know not what you know” right? We’ve heard that a thousand times over, mainly because it’s true. Getting in front of the right person isn’t an accident it’s a process. A great start to that process is networking. Now I know what you’re thinking about how everyone you run into is always touting networking: “Network here. Network over here. Come to this event or this social. Put your business card in 500 hands!” Now I know those can be helpful, but for the most part you’re just cold-calling again, except this time it’s cold-calling connections rather than businesses.
Instead of using the “throw enough shit against the wall and hope some sticks” approach, why not do to your networking what you do to business calls and target them. Join a networking group. In a networking group you have the opportunity see the same faces over and over again and get to know them on a personal level. It’s no more meet and greet and hope and wait. It’s building relationships and educating those people on all the aspects of your company so they can help put you in front of the right people. Think about it like this, would you put your name and reputation on the line by referring someone you met once at a happy hour event? Or would you be more willing to make an introduction for someone you see every week and hear about his or her quality of work and that you’ve come to know and trust? At the end of the day we do business with people we know and like and trust and it’s difficult to build that type of relationship over a cattle call of business cards.
Choosing the right networking group is key. Go with something reputable, well organized and convenient for you. Find a group that doesn’t allow everyone in. If you are an electrician and any electrician can come to every meeting, how does that benefit you? That’s just a cattle call under a different name. Visit a prospective group before joining and ask around about it. If there is something off about the group it won’t be a secret. Now I’m not here to sell you on our networking group. We joined BNI over 2 years ago because it was the right fit for us and our business is now represented in 3 different chapters along the Grand Strand because we believe in it and it works for us. We’ve built solid business relationships that allow us to ask the other members for an introduction to any XYZ company they may know and they will do so because they’ve come to learn that I will represent them well. And on the other side of that coin, when one of my clients is in need of a service I can recommend someone that I know will take care of them and look like a hero.
Networking does work, but targeted networking works better. You are building a network of resources and salesman all around you when you belong to a networking group. Human interaction isn’t completely dead in this world and people want to deal with other people they like, know and trust. Networking groups help bridge that gap. But, for the times you can’t look someone in the eye, well for help with that marketing we hope you’ve come to know and trust us at Three Ring Focus…It’s just too bad someone in my networking group isn’t a professional writer and could have prevented me from using such a corny ending!
We had the pleasure of being re-inspired the other day. Re-inspired? What does that even mean? Is it even a word? Well, you know inspirations, they happen all the time; you see them, hear them and they touch you at the core. If you’re a business owner, like we are, then it’s safe to bet that at one point you were inspired to start doing whatever it is you’re doing. Now sometimes that gets old and dull and you get inspired to do something else, and that’s okay. That isn’t what happened to us. We still love every minute of what we do but we were fortunate to get that “shot in the arm” so to speak and be re-inspired at what we do by some young men we met with.
Meetings are typically different here at Three Ring Focus. Hell, we have a bar in our conference room so it we don’t have typical meetings to begin with, but in this case it was really different. We sat there in a meeting looking across the table at three 18-year-old seniors in high school ready to start a company. It was like the 3 of us were looking back 10 years ago and talking to ourselves. You could see some nervousness, some inexperience, some trepidation but more importantly there was that passion, that energy and excitement and confidence in what they could do and what they will do. It was invigorating to see and hear. I felt like I was able to warn myself of all the mistakes we made early on and I could probably sit here for hours and write out all the advice we gave them about starting a company, but that’s a blog for a different day. And yes, while the 18 year old me wanted one of those beers from the bar, the 28 year old me was smart enough not to offer it…
The point of this blog is to encourage you to find that re-inspiration. Sometimes that drive and energy get lost in all the other bullshit of work. In fact when you stop and think about it, all that bullshit is the “work” part of your business. The office politics or government interference or money issues or whatever else gets in the way of you enjoying what you do. We love what we do. We love designing websites and print material and seeing the looks on their faces when they see their business come to life. We love sitting down with clients who are looking for answers about how they can get more business and finding those answers for them. For us, that’s not work. We enjoy it. For you, it’s that passion you have that you’re lucky enough to get paid for. Whether it’s fixing cars or painting homes or healing others, it’s about what you love to do. It’s the old adage “if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life” and that couldn’t be any more true. Unfortunately sometimes we all let “work” get in the way and cloud up what we love to do. Fortunately for us, these young men gave us an opportunity to stop for a minute, clear away all the bullshit and remember what our inspiration was. I encourage you all to stop for a minute and think back to when you started your company and why you did it. I hope that passion was never lost, but if it was, try to recapture that youthful enthusiasm again! There is nothing quite like it.
Email Marketing – don’t run away when you see those words. Give me a minute to explain how it’s no longer dirty, annoying and useless but actually an efficient, cost effective and practical way to market in this day and age. What do you have to lose? Worst thing that could happen is I convince you I’m a Saudi prince that needs $20,000.00 that I will pay back tenfold once I can get access to my gold depository.
Sure, when you think of emails from a business your mind might automatically revert back to SPAM (a/k/a junk email, a/k/a unsolicited bulk email, a/k/a terrible virus-ridden pornography driven pieces of sh*t!!!!). But, I’m here to tell you that while there is still plenty of SPAM out there on the World Wide Web, email marketing has carved out it’s place in the online marketing world…The key is doing it right.
So what is the “right” way to use eblasts to market your business? Let me tell you, there is a lot more to it than going into your contact list and hitting send. For starters it’s just like any other type of marketing, you need to start out with a plan. Who is your target audience? Are you going after new customers or trying to stay in touch with existing ones? If you are targeting new customers where are you going to get their emails? How would you even go about getting the emails to all the restaurant owners or bank managers in the area? A very important part of distinguishing illegal SPAM emails and legitimate eblasts are how and where you obtain client lists. For every quality list you can get there are 100 that will do you no good and cost you too much. Seeking out a professional marketing company to assist you with obtaining these lists is key.
Now, once you have identified whom you are going after, then it’s figuring out what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Think about how many emails you open a day. Now, if that email you send isn’t designed properly so that the person opening it wants to read it and wants to click on it immediately then you’ve lost the battle right there. It needs to look professional and capture their interest. Because if it doesn’t, it’s in their trash quicker than you can say SPAM.
What else distinguishes a successful eblast? Data. What good is any marketing if you don’t know how it performs? If you send out a professionally done eblast you will have excellent data the next day to review. You will see how many emails were open, who specifically opened it, what section or topic they clicked on, even how many times they opened it or sent it along to other people. All this data is great information to help your business get its message across to the right people.
So yes, maybe eblasts aren’t the sexiest form of marketing. Maybe it still has some ground to make up in people’s minds. But at the end of the day if you do it the right way and your client or potential customer receives a good looking, creative and useful message from you then it will leave a lasting positive impression on them and really, that’s what marketing your business is all about. Don’t believe us? Sign up to receive our Eblast and we’ll show ya!
We would like to thank Kris of C-Aire, a Myrtle Beach refrigeration company, for choosing Three Ring Focus to re-design her website. For over 16 years they have been repairing HVAC and commercial refrigeration units. We were ecstatic to be able to add their business to our company’s portfolio. Here’s to another 16 successful years!