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Beat the Competition

Women are becoming more confident in stepping out and starting their own business. They are finding their happy place by taking a chance on their entrepreneurial dream.

Forty percent of female entrepreneurs rated their happiness as a 10 out of 10, according to Guidant Financial’s State of Small Business Survey. When asked to rate their level of confidence, the overall average was a seven out of 10.

There are approximately 11.6 million women-owned small businesses in the U.S., according to the National Association of Women Business Owners.   With so many women joining the world of business ownership, it’s more important than ever for them to have an edge on the competition and to beat them on building customer sales and loyalty.  I use a 6-step process when working with my clients to help grow their business. It allows the client to view their product and service through the eyes of their customers and understand how to make the emotional connection that triggers customers to buy. 

1. What is your product or service?

Before you can move on to the other five steps, you must understand your products inside and out. How can you sell something or build your brand when you don’t fully know what you sell?  So, know what your product or service does.  What makes it different from the alternative options?  If you offer a variety of products/services with diverse pricing, you need to understand those that are most profitable.

2. What are its features and benefits?

Having a clear understanding of the difference between features and benefits is critical when positioning your product.  Features are fact statement about a product. Benefits are the result of what the product will accomplish. Many salespeople try to use a list of features to sell a product when, in fact, customers will more often buy based on the benefits it offers.  Customers want a need resolved when buying. A feature is important, but the benefit is essential – and that engages the customer emotionally. When you can link the feature to a benefit that will resolve a customer’s need, then the more likely they are to buy.     

3. Collect competitive intelligence

Many people start a business because they love the product or love doing what they do. But too often they skip the step of collecting information that will help them to be successful and understand the competitive environment of their business. Just because someone is good at doing something doesn’t mean she is good at running a business.  Understanding the nature of the beast is essential.  One element of that is understanding what is going on in the world outside of your business to increase your competitive edge. Competitive intelligence takes time to collect and interpret, but the information allows you to build a successful marketing plan that connects directly to your ideal customer.   Entreprenuer.com provides great resources for collecting competitive intelligence.

4. Who is your ideal customer?

Understanding your ideal customers and why they buy will allow you to identify more benefits of your product and build a larger customer following.  You must know who your buyer is, what they like, and why they buy.  Once you understand who your ideal customer is, you will be able to build your unique niche that separates you from the competition. Knowing your ideal customer helps you decide on your best marketing strategy targeted directly at them. You should build your website and your social media marketing with your ideal customer in mind to attract and build a more profitable customer base.

Knowing your customer may mean learning their age, gender, profession, social status, income, geographic location, education, marital status, and parental status. 

5. Create a niche

Are you the person who offers so many things that buyers are too overwhelmed to find any value or motivation to buy from you? Does it take you three minutes to run down your product list or what it is you do? According to a Microsoft study, the average attention span is approximately 8 seconds, so you better talk fast.  You can read about overcoming this attention challenge in “Are Declining Attention Spans Killing Your Content Marketing Strategy?”

Creating a niche requires you to narrow your focus to a few key products that fit your ideal customer. This also offers a healthy margin of profit.  Your niche is not only about your product. It can also be about your experience and reputation.  Your niche should be unique, meet customer demand and conform to your long-term vision. When you join together your niche and your ideal customer you can move forward to build your strategic sales plan.  Today’s challenge is communicating your niche in a timely manner and captivating your audience.

6. Build your strategic sales plan

This is the piece most customers fear but is so necessary.  Creating a strategic sales plan or business plan can be very intimidating. I work with my customers to break it up in bite-size pieces.  Once steps 1-5 are completed, building the sales plan is pretty easy.  I have noticed that small business owners who started a business for the love of what they do are not always comfortable going out and asking for the business.   Building an actionable and measurable plan enables you to stay on point with the behaviors and marketing strategies that engage customers and drives business results.  It’s a roadmap to success.

If you want to step out and take a chance on starting a business, GO FOR IT! There has never been a better time to take a chance on you! Just remember it takes more than just loving what you do to be successful, it takes a lot of hard work, planning, executing, and due diligence. 

#liftpushpull #women4women

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Women4Women Community in a nutshell

Phat Maverick™ and the Women4Women Community is committed to lifting, pushing, and pulling women forward professionally in their careers and personally in their healthy living choices. We believe that supporting women is not about saying the right thing it’s about doing the right thing. It is about choosing to make healthy and sound decisions while creating positive and rewarding environments for women so that we can all have a stronger & better tomorrow. It is about coaching, developing, supporting and creating honest conversations with one another so we can keep paving the path for the women of tomorrow. We believe that not only should we lift, push and pull the women around us but also the woman within us.

Our goal is to build a professional and personal networking group that focuses on supporting women in their career goals & in their quest to live healthy lifestyles. We build our network of success through relationships, not rules.  We promote and refer business to one another because we have built trust and confidence not because we require it.  We believe all women add value and we are inclusive to all the amazing women that want to be a Phat Maverick™! We Lift each other up, Push each other forward and Pull one another to new heights.

I have 20 years of experience in corporate America and I know first hand how important and impactful it is for women to support one another professionally and personally. Too often we are willing to put ourselves last in line for achieving our dreams and goals and way too often we allow others to put us last as well. We deserve more! We are worth more! I know you agree!

It is time to take care of one another and ourselves. We will all flourish if we work together to lift, push and pull all women toward a better tomorrow. Now is the time to work together to encourage and empower one another to win in business and in making healthy lifestyle choices. Unleash your Phat Maverick™! Together we really can have it all and we can each make an impactful difference to the women that surround us.

What are you waiting for? Be a Phat Maverick!

www.phatmaverick.com
thephatmav@gmail.com

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Don’t be a Thumbkin!

Do you remember that classic nursery rhyme, Where is Thumbkin? If you do, well then you understand why you don’t want to be a Thumbkin or a Pointer or any of the other little finger people in that family when it comes to networking. Why do you ask? They all ran away immediately after building up enough courage to do the entire meet and greet dance.  I mean really!  They literally ran away after they introduced themselves.  Who does that?  The challenging part in networking is just getting out there and introducing yourself.  Once you do finally get the pleasantries out of the way, the fun in building new relationships begins, if you are willing to put the time in to grow and nurture it.

I will be honest, it might be a little intimidating the first couple times you introduce yourself to a complete stranger, but relax, chances are they are there for the same reason.   They are building their network just like you!  And you are a Phat Maverick- resilient and confident, ready to take on the world.  So don’t get all shy and run away only to never meet again.  There is an objective and purpose to meeting new people and to being engaged with people in your community.  It’s called relationships.  It’s  important in everything we do, not just in business but personally as well- we need relationships.   I believe one of many secrets to all successful and happy people is building and nurturing relationships.  The Thumbkin family apparently missed that piece of critical information.

When I was in the world of sales and sales management one of my favorite things to do was to go on sales calls with my employees.  I wanted to meet their very best and favorite customers.  It was such a great reality check of all the good you can do for real down to earth people who took a chance on their dream and started a business.  I loved hearing the countless stories of how their journey unfolded; or how their parents started the business and passed it onto them.  Every once in awhile our sales team was a part of their story,  and that was pretty cool.

After being out there in the world for nearly 20 years meeting and greeting new people as though it was second nature, I realized that not everyone was as comfortable as I was going out on sales calls and meeting new people.  Some were even horrified to join civic organizations and lead groups.  It took me awhile to wrap my head around this because these people knew they were in sales when I hired them and now they trembled like a deer in headlights when I suggested going on sales calls with them.  Gotta be honest- still don’t totally get it.   It’s not that I don’t understand the different personalities and the different comfort zones people have in interacting but if you apply for a sales job you need to be ok getting out there and meeting new people.   Not to mention I CLEARLY explained the expectations during the interview process. Regardless of what you sell or what service you offer, you must understand that you are in THE PEOPLE  BUSINESS.  People will typically make decisions based on an emotional connection.  If you can connect, build relationships and nurture those relationships chances are they will choose to do business with you.

The world has become quite a busy place, and somewhere somehow the notion of building relationships has been lost.  It’s become all about the quick meet and the quick sell.   Email blasts and Facebook posts!  Trust me, the relationships you develop and nurture will drive more sales and more referrals than an email blast or nagging people on Social Media.

I want to share a few of my “go to” networking tips with you and hopefully, it will help you become more comfortable and confident in approaching and meeting new people at your next networking event or social gathering.

  • TIP #1   SAFETY NET QUESTIONS   These are 3 or 4 questions that you can ask when the infamous uncomfortable silence unwelcomely takes over the conversation.  Be sure the questions are open ended or chances are your unwanted guest of silence will show his awkward face again.
  • TIP #2  LIMIT ALCOHOL  Not sure I need to spend a lot of time on this one but let’s be honest too much alcohol has never created the most impressive person at an event.  So if you are going to indulge, go for it.  Just be smart on how much you consume because someone is always watching.  And, you don’t be “that person.”
  •  TIP #3  DITCH THE SALES PITCH   You can not build a great reputation in your field if you are trying to sell to people that may or may not have a need for your product or service; it is so annoying.  I was at a baseball game the other day, and I was telling my friend that I found a beautiful house I would love to buy.  Of course, the house was about 90% out of my price range, but that was the fun of the want.  But some guy I had never met before apparently over heard me and immediately jumped into our conversation and proceeded to tell me how he could sell me that house and here was his card and let’s go ahead and schedule a time to look at the house.  I had to interrupt him and tell him I already had five other realtor friends I would have to choose from if I decided to move forward.  When I looked into his eyes, I saw the dollar signs that consumed his thoughts fade away ever so slowly.
  • TIP #4 FOLLOW UP  When you do meet someone that you connect with professionally ask for a follow-up lunch or meeting where you can discuss how you can build a win-win partnership.  If you are not willing to follow up, then you would be more productive skipping the event and staying at home to watch Animal Planet or a nice PBS special.
Alright.  There you have it, just a few of many best practices that I have witnessed bring success to many sales people and people just wanting to expand their network.  They all seem very elementary and yet often neglected when most needed.   Feel free to reach out to me if you need a few more ideas or would like to schedule some time discussing your business plan.
thephatmav@gmail.com
#liftpushpull
#women4women

 

 

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What do I do now?

Once you decide to unleash your Phat Maverick and be who you were born to be it can be quite freeing. Not gonna lie, it can be a little scary too just because you are giving up what you are conditioned to accept as normal. You may even wonder What do I do now? Well to start, you embrace all the possibilities that have been stifled deep inside of you for years. Then you stand up tall and proud and know that you can push yourself to accomplish any goal and any dream you desire. So, get to it and start believing in the best version of you and who you were born to be. That’s what being a Phat Maverick is all about, Lifting, Pushing and Pulling for a better tomorrow.
Women need to know that their goals and dreams are worth achieving and that it is ok to spend time and energy on accomplishing every one of them. NEWSFLASH!! It is ok to make yourself a priority! I have often used my family, work and lack of time as an excuse not to put me first, especially when it comes to being healthy and exercising. I am sure I’m not the only woman out there that is exhausted after work, after cleaning the house, washing the laundry, folding the laundry, taking the kids to baseball, bringing the kids back home, cooking dinner, cleaning up dinner, reviewing homework and all the other unmentioned tasks that attach themselves to me like blood sucking leeches throughout the day. By the end of all this craziness, I just want to curl up with a glass of wine or two and watch one episode of one of the 12 shows I recorded last season before the new season starts. I certainly do not have any interest in walking or running on that “must have” treadmill I use as a place to hang laundry. So, to give me hours back in my day so I can do the things that are important to me I sometimes skip the cleaning! That’s right people, I said it! Ya Happy- I admitted it?  I skip the cleaning! And if you walked into my house there are days you would know I was telling the truth. I am working very hard not to let my cluttered house drive me crazy.
The best tip I can give anyone wondering how to get done what they want to get done is to stop talking about it and DO IT. Make the time. Find the time. Amelia Earhart said it best, “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” Don’t look back on life and realize all you did was talk about your dreams and goals. Don’t be “that woman.”  I have seen it many times in the great big world of business. People talk talk talk about doing something. Then they talk about a plan, then schedule some time to talk to others about the plan, then they review the plan, and then they change the plan and the vicious cycle repeats. So I give to you the word of the day -EXECUTE! Execute the darn plan already and adjust the plan as you go. The worst thing that could happen is still never worse than never STARTING. SO DO IT! Push yourself forward! If all else fails in getting motivated to start, call on your Phat Maverick; she is there with you ready to lift, push and pull you!
#women4women #liftpushpull

 

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Your Alter Ego Superhero…

is waiting to be unleashed!

Isn’t it time to unleash your Alter Ego Superhero?  Come on! Trust me, empower yourself to unleash her.  That is exactly what I have or rather what I am working on doing every day.  Every woman should unleash her Alter Ego Superhero!  Go ahead…. look in the mirror.  She is in there just waiting to save the day…. your day!  That little piece of yourself buried deep down inside of you. That piece of you that believes in you no matter what and always comes to your rescue.  Your Super Hero!  And let’s be honest, we have all daydreamed at some point in life about being a superhero.  I can’t tell you how many times I almost crashed that invisible plane when I was a young girl or did the Wonder Twin Power Activate bump with my BFF.   Think of your Alter Ego Superhero as your personal internal superhero.  Instead of saving the world by leaps and bounds you can be the superhero that saves yourself by committing to Lifting yourself up, Pushing yourself forward and Pulling yourself to a better, healthier and happier tomorrow.

Curious about the straw that broke my back?  What really happened that caused the unleashing?  It probably won’t surprise you to know it was not just one thing.  It was years in the making.  Simply put, I finally got sick and tired of playing the “game” which requires me to be complacent, accepting and not MORE transparent than the person asking me the question really wants me to be.  You know what I mean.  The boss, a friend or someone with some type of “power” over you asks you a question and you know if you don’t answer the question with what they want to hear all hell will break out and you basically just put the bus in gear to run your own butt over.  So, while you are thinking “that is a horrible idea” to what they just asked you, the words “best idea ever” robotically bounce out of your mouth while slightly stroking their ego on the way to their ears just as these words have done too many times in the past.

I got sick of people treating me as though I was disposable and replaceable.  I am a loyal friend and employee, and I have walked on nails, sacrificed time and gave all of what I had to give to those that I was loyal to.   To continuously not be shown the same loyalty or commitment can get pretty annoying and so my cup began to runneth over with some serious bitterness and resentment.  I never really ask for much from people, but loyalty is a big one.  It’s the binding agent of any relationship.

I got sick of the taste of blood in my mouth from biting my tongue and not fighting for myself or for my beliefs and values in fear of being reprimanded in some fashion for having my own thoughts.  Have you ever spent much time with those people that ask “what do you think,” but they really don’t care what you think?  Especially if it is different than what they are thinking.  They are just building their own little army of robots. Those that have known these people know!  You get fewer phone calls,  fewer invites, and fewer opportunities.   And let’s be honest, it is not just men doing this to women. It’s women shaming women for having a belief system, an ethical compass or a different opinion.  This sounds like a topic for an upcoming blog. Stay tuned…..

I got sick of ME treating myself as though I was not worthy of respect because nothing I did was ever good enough. I got sick of being in fear of letting myself down and letting those around me down. I got sick of fearing the possibility of failure. I got sick of self-doubt and not believing in myself.  I got sick of not being ME- strong, confident with a winning spirit. I got to the point I didn’t even believe in myself anymore!  The once overachiever, Can-do-anything kind of gal who always wore fabulous shoes no longer believed in herself.  I so wanted her back.  I longed for her to return to me.  I couldn’t do it alone.  I needed one person to believe in me!  Just one!  And that one person needed to be ME!   So, I did the only thing I could.  The only thing that could save me.  I unleashed HER from the depths within me! MY ALTER EGO SUPERHERO! My Superhero!  Created for me, by me.  She has come to my rescue! She has saved me from me. She believes in me! She reminds me I am strong!  I am smart!  I am important!  I have a purpose! She makes me strong, confident and invincible. She is exactly who I need my Superhero to be- she is ME.

SHE IS PHAT MAVERICK! She is LIFTING, PUSHING & PULLING me for my stronger tomorrow.  Are you willing to unleash your Phat Maverick?  Are your ready to fight for a stronger and better you?

So, here I go!  I hope you will join me and Phat Maverick for a fun adventure all about being honest, positive and purposeful in lifting, pushing and pulling myself and others toward a better tomorrow.

Phat Maverick

#liftpushpull