How to Get Rid of All Those FAKE Twitter Followers You Bought

How to Get Rid of All Those Fake Twitter Followers You Bought

Marketing Strategist Lynn Serafinn explains why buying Twitter followers is a BAD idea, how to tell if you’ve been scammed, and how to clean up your account.

One of the things I work on with clients is online platform building. In my view, an integral part of any online platform is the seamless integration of social media and blogging . I believe giving due care and attention to these two ‘layers’ of your marketing funnel is crucial in developing an ongoing relationship with your audience, which ultimately results in generating business over the long-term.

Unfortunately, many clients who come to me for help have yet to learn how to make this dance between blogging and social media work. Many have been exposed to the philosophies of ‘old school’ Internet marketers, who encourage aggressive marketing strategies that are based upon numbers, manipulation and formulae rather than on people, conversation and relationships. Still more have become victims of marketing scams, such as promises of a guaranteed number of ‘followers’ on their list or social media accounts…for a fee, of course.

The Truth about Numbers

There are many so-called ‘marketers’ (although calling them ‘marketers’ is tantamount to believing the proverbial ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ is actually a sheep) on both Twitter and Facebook who claim they have a genuine database of people who are ready and willing to follow, like and love you. They will tell you they have all kinds of advanced algorithms and blah, blah, blah, designed to target valid leads to you. They promise you that $250 (or whatever amount) will get you, say, 1,000 new followers, and $500 will get you more.

Now, I’ve been doing book and product launches for the past 8 years and I can tell you unequivocally that there is no way on the face of the earth that you can PROMISE a fixed number of people will opt in to any offer – free or not. There are simply too many variables. Some of these include things in which I have little or no influence, such as company branding and the rapport between the client and their audience. If the client’s branding and rapport are not cohesive, consistent, qualitative and engaging, it is unlikely any kind of marketing campaign is likely to ‘inspire’ others to follow them. While I might set a target to get 5,000 new followers on my client’s social networks or mailing list, there is no way anyone can ‘guarantee’ this will happen…

…unless those followers are actually FAKE.

Anatomy of a Marketing Scam

‘But,’ you stammer, ‘I don’t understand. I paid my money and within a week I had 3,000 new Twitter followers. They look like real people. What are you talking about?!’

When we’re just starting out in business, many (if not most) of us feel helpless about ‘getting the word out’. We just don’t know where to start. How do we get people to follow us on social media? How do we get them to read our blog? How do we get business from this? It’s daunting.

Because we’re so overwhelmed, we look for solutions that can help us go from ground zero to…well…SOMETHING – but we’re not sure what that ‘something’ is. People tell us we need to get Twitter followers; but even if we know how to do that, we don’t know what we’re supposed to do with them after we’ve got them.

Unfortunately, there are many opportunistic people out there in cyberspace who prey upon unsuspecting small business owners who are caught in this vortex of ‘I don’t know’. Some of those opportunistic people run scams thinly disguised as marketing services. They set up several thousand bogus Twitter or Facebook accounts, hiding behind different proxy servers (notionally, so Twitter or Facebook don’t realise they’re fake accounts). They might have real sounding names. They might even have headshots. But make no mistake: there’s nobody there except the scammer. The scammer who sold you their ‘marketing product’ will, for a fee, make all these bogus accounts follow you on Twitter or ‘like’ your Facebook page (that is, of course, if they don’t run off with your money without even bothering to give you your fake followers).

Suddenly, you have thousands of followers. You’re starting to feel more confident about the future. You think people are really interested in you and what you are doing in your business.

The problem is, these people don’t exist.

How You Can Tell Your Followers Are Fake

I recently started working with a new client who had about 3,500 followers on Twitter. However, she was following only about 400 of them. I told her I wanted to look at this imbalance, because it’s a good idea to follow back your legitimate followers, so you can start to build rapport. So, I went into her account using Tweet Adder 4.0, which our team runs on a private server to support our clients’ Twitter accounts.

After I had a good look at her account, I said to her, ‘Can I ask you, at some point in the past, perhaps in or before 2011, did you BUY a batch of Twitter followers?’

She was surprised at my question. She said, ‘Well, I purchased a Twitter marketing package from someone at that time.’

I explained to her that this was no ‘marketing’ service, and that she had been scammed. Of course, she was upset by this news. She was also bewildered as to how I could see this in her account.

Here’s how I discovered this:

  • When I set up her Twitter account, Tweet Adder, flagged over 3,000 ‘follow backs. That meant she was not following back 3,000 people who were following her. Of course, I could already see that just by looking at her numbers, but Tweet Adder enabled me to analyse these figures to understand more about them.
  • First, I sorted these ‘follow backs’ using a filter in Tweet Adder called ‘Last Tweet Date’. In my view, there’s no point in following someone who is inactive on Twitter.
  • Then, I applied other filters to see which accounts hadn’t been active in a LONG time. I set the number of days to 300 days (> 300). I discovered that nearly all of her followers hadn’t been on Twitter since 2010 or 2011.
  • Finally, I used other filters to see how many followers these people had versus how many people they were following. I also looked at how many Tweets they had sent out. What I found was something that looked like this (I’ve smudged out the names of the Twitter accounts):

Tweet Adder Follow Back List - screenshot

This screenshot was taken TODAY. You can see that:

  • There were 601 accounts following my client who hadn’t Tweeted in about a year (these ones hadn’t Tweeted since 2010).
  • All of the accounts had only ever sent ONE Tweet.
  • All are following hundreds of people, but nobody (save a few people who didn’t know any better) is following them back
  • All of these accounts originate in non-English speaking countries. In fact, all of the clearly purchased ‘followers’ were from Asia (Indonesia, mostly) and South America. Even if they were legitimate followers, what would my client gain from following accounts she couldn’t understand?

Had I thought to take a screenshot when I first started working with her, you would see that far more than 601 accounts showed up when I first performed this search. However, we’ve slowly been getting rid of these bogus followers over the past month (I’ll show you how to do this, in a minute).

Why It’s Pointless to Retain Fake Followers

You might wonder what the big deal is. So you bought a bunch of fake followers in the past and now you’re stuck with them. ‘What’s the harm? Who cares? Let them be.’

I believe it’s important to get rid of fake followers. As a marketer, I want to KNOW what’s actually going on. I want to know what’s working and what’s not. If I THINK I have 3,500 followers, but I’m getting virtually no ‘action’ from them, something is seriously wrong.

What do I mean by ‘action’? ReTweeting/sharing my Tweets is action. Clicking on my links and visiting my blog. Talking to me. If none of my followers are doing this, either there’s something wrong with my followers or there’s something wrong with ME. Maybe my blog content is rubbish. Maybe my Tweets are confusing. Maybe I’m inconsistent in my communication. Maybe I’m writing for the wrong audience. But if I do all I can to ensure I’m not the problem and I still don’t get any action from my followers, I have to look at how and from where my followers are finding me. My analysis will be useless unless I first cull so-called followers who do nothing to serve my business.

The other reason it’s valuable to exile your fake followers is so your REAL followers (especially those thinking about connecting with you) take you seriously. If they check out your followers and see thousands of inactive (and obviously fake) accounts, what does that say about you? If, however, they see thousands of genuine Twitter users actively choosing to follow you, they get a far more positive impression about you.

Blocking Your Fake Followers

Hopefully, you’re now considering getting rid of all those fake followers you bought in the past, even if it means seeing your numbers go down. I understand it might be scary; watching your numbers decline for the sake of truth and transparency is a brave thing to do.

Now you might be wondering something else: ‘How do I MAKE people unfollow me on Twitter?’ The answer is: you use a feature on Twitter called ‘Blocking’.

When you block a Twitter account, it means they cannot follow you, message you or tag you, and you can’t follow them, etc. In other words, you cannot communicate with each other in any way on Twitter. If that sounds pretty extreme, it’s because it is. That’s why blocking really should only be used in specific circumstances, such as:

  • Porn
  • Spammers
  • Aggressive or abusive users
  • Fake accounts

Back in the screenshot of Tweet Adder above, you’ll see that next to each account in the ‘Follow Back’ menu, there are three options: Follow Back, Black List and Block.

Tweet Adder Follow Back Blacklist Block

‘Follow Back’ is obvious. If you click it, Tweet Adder will follow back that person.

‘Black List’ is less extreme than blocking, and it only relates to Tweet Adder, not Twitter. When you ‘black list’ someone, it means you CHOOSE not to follow them, but you’re ok with allowing them to follow you. I tend to use black list when someone seems like a genuine follower, but I’m not particularly interested in what they’re Tweeting about (like if they do a lot of advertising, but they’re not directly spamming me). When you put someone on your black list, Tweet Adder will not ask you to follow them back again in the future (unless you take them off the black list). However, they will still be following you, unless they decide to unfollow you of their own accord.

If, by using the filters I described earlier in this article, you have been able to identify your fake followers, you can start to ‘block’ them simply by pressing the ‘block’ button. They will cease to follow you, and you will never see or hear from them again.

CAVEAT: Don’t go blocking accounts too quickly, as Twitter will see it as ‘aggressive’ activity and you could end up getting your account suspended. It’s best to do it gradually over a period of days, weeks or even months, if you have a lot of bogus followers.

Closing Thoughts

If you’ve read my book Tweep-e-licious!, you might remember Tip #41: Don’t Be Tempted by Twitter Growth Scams. Today, I’ve given you some good reasons why NOT to get hoodwinked by them (apart from the obvious waste of money), as well as some tips on how to undo the damage if this happens to you. To me, marketing is only effective when you’re not playing in the dark. Getting rid of bogus followers helps you become more able to see what’s working and what’s not, in your social media marketing.

If you’d like to check out Tweep-e-licious!, you can find it at http://tweepelicious.com. There you can also get access to a 90-minute Twitter audio class I recorded some time ago (no purchase necessary, but you will have to sign up using your email address to get access).

AND…if you’re at a point in your ethical business where you’d like to work closely with a marketing strategist (and her team) who can help you grow an online audience of followers who GENUINELY know, love and appreciate what you do, give me a shout via the contact form on this site to set up a 30-minute Skype chat. We offer platform building services (including Twitter support), product development, copywriting, eBook development and many other valuable services for service-oriented independent business owners and non-fiction authors. You can read about our services HERE.

Warm wishes,
Lynn Serafinn
21 April 2015

Transparency: In this article, I have used my affiliate link to the Tweet Adder website. I do make a small commission if people purchase the product using this link.

P.S. I do hope you’ll stay in touch by subscribing to this blog; and, as always, don’t forget to leave a comment (and share with your network) before leaving!

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing in 2015

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project .


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCCLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller  The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CICTwitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

Posted in 7 Graces Project, 7 Key Relationships, Blog, Business Tips, Lynn Serafinn, Marketing Tips, Platform Building Programme, Relationship with Our Audience, Social Media, Strategy Packages, Tweep-e-licious, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Putting Down Roots – Gardening Tips for the Small Business Owner

Putting Down Roots - Gardening Tips for the Small Business Owner
Nancy Goodyear applies her grandpa’s age-old gardening wisdom to business growth, showing how strong roots and hard pruning are the secrets of a good harvest.

When you run your own business, whether it be a start-up or an older, more established business, you need to create space for it to develop. As your business grows, it will inevitably change. From time to time, you may need to stop and take stock, review where you are and where you’re going. You may find your business has changed slightly. You might be attracting different clients, they may be buying slightly different products, or they might want slightly different services from those you currently offer. Your business may no longer be what you thought it was. You may need to give yourself some time and space to grow into where you are now.

“But,” I hear you cry, “I have a business to run. I’ve put loads of time and energy into getting this far, I have clients and commitments to honour. I can’t just drop it all and start again from scratch – I don’t have time!” To this, I say growing a business is like growing a plant from a seed; it takes patience and nurturing to get it to bear fruit.

My grandpa was a keen gardener and spent his retirement tending his garden. He was very proud of it. Whenever my brothers and I visited, he would drag one of us out to show off his roses, and to the greenhouse so we could admire his tomatoes. I’m no gardener myself, but some of what Grandpa taught me found its way in and stayed. Now I would like to share with you some of his wisdom, and try to relate what I learned about growing plants to growing your business.

Growing Strong Roots

When you plant a seed and it germinates, its first priority is to grow strong roots. These are the plant’s foundation; they give it stability; they absorb the nutrients and water from the soil that it needs to grow. A plant’s root system is the same size and shape as the plant itself. In other words, there is as much below ground as there is above and, until the roots are established, not much happens above ground. All the activity happens out of sight. Only once the roots are established, does the plant start to focus its energy on what is happening above ground.

What we can learn from this in terms of our businesses is the importance of directing much of our energy below ground, to the bits our clients don’t see. Yes, this means all the boring admin stuff we all love so much – but it also means paying attention to what comes before the part the client sees. I’m talking about defining your vision, your brand and your audience, by asking yourself these fundamental questions:

  • What is your business for?
  • Who is it for?
  • What does it do for them?

These questions should all be answered to some degree before you send your business out into the world. Otherwise, how do you know whom you should be talking to and what you should be saying to them? And without talking to the right people – people who want what you are offering – there is no business.

So, your attention first needs to be given to growing those nice strong roots that will keep you grounded during stormy weather and soak up all the available water and nutrition your business needs during the dry summers.

Pruning Your Business

Every year Grandpa’s garden was full of beautiful, vigorous rose bushes full of gorgeous blooms. Once they’d finished flowering, he would cut them right back almost to the ground. It seemed brutal to me, to cut this big healthy plant down until it was barely more than a thorny twig sticking out of the ground. Grandpa assured me these bushes would grow again in the spring and be even bigger and healthier than the year before – and they would produce even more flowers. He was right. His roses were always beautiful – every year.

Your business needs pruning from time to time, as well – ruthless pruning. Grandpa always said you should get your neighbour to prune your roses for you because they would be far more merciless that you could be, which is better for the plant’s performance the following year. In terms of business, this means periodically reviewing where you are, what you’re doing and for whom. It means going back to your roots and asking:

  • Has your vision changed? Are you still doing what you set out to do?
  • Has your audience changed? Are you still working with the same kinds of people or are you attracting a different group of people? Are you still enjoying working with the people you work with or are you yearning to work with someone different?
  • Are you still delivering what you set out to deliver? Or are clients asking for something different? Are you finding you’re actually delivering something slightly different from what you promise?

Keeping Grounded as Your Business Starts to Bear Fruit

One thing I always enjoyed helping Grandpa with was his tomato garden. He showed me how to ‘nip out’ the new shoots at the top of the plant to stop it growing upwards and explained how, by doing this, we would ensure the plant put all its energy into growing tasty fruit, rather than wasting it on growing ever taller. By nipping out the very top shoot, the plants’ energy would be directed at new shoots lower down, making the plant stronger, healthier and capable of producing more fruit.

Applying this principle to business means staying focused on your vision at all times – not allowing yourself to get distracted by shiny exciting new projects that don’t serve your vision, and learning to discern between what is an opportunity and what is a distraction. Entrepreneurs are often very creative people who have a magpie tendency towards shiny, sparkly new things. They can flit from one exciting new idea to the next, seduced by its newness, leaving behind a trail of abandoned projects that have lost their lustre simply because they are no longer new. Some of these new projects will be in alignment with their business vision, but a lot won’t. The trouble with this approach is that nothing gets finished. Even the most exciting visionary project will become old and therefore less interesting than the new project that comes along. The challenge such entrepreneurs face is sticking with the old and seeing it through to fruition.

Growing roots isn’t glamorous. They aren’t what’s visible to the world. However, strong roots keep your business grounded. Put too much energy into producing flowers too soon and your business will become top-heavy and unstable, just like those tomato plants, and yield less fruit.

Closing Thoughts

As a teenager, my brothers and I went out of our way to find excuses not to be chosen for the guided tour of Grandpa’s garden. Now that he’s been gone for 20 years, I would give anything to have just one more visit to the greenhouse with him. I realise the true fruits produced in that garden were the life lessons we learned. I hope you can take something from his garden, too.

And if you’re ready to put some energy into the roots of YOUR business, you might want to check out our newly redesigned 7 Graces Business & Marketing Strategy Packages. Have a look through them below, and then drop us a line via the contact form on this site to set up a free 30-minute consultation to see how we might be able to help you cultivate your ethical business.

  • Our 13-Week PLATFORM BUILDING & Growth Package – for established business owners who want to build their online presence, increase their blog traffic and grow their Twitter following. This can also be used in combination with one of our product development packages.
  • AUTHOR services – we also have a variety of services just for authors, including full-service Amazon book launches, wholesale copywriting, virtual blog tours and other marketing services.
  • ‘A la carte’ services – Many of our other services can also be purchased ‘a la carte’ (although the package prices are always lower for the equivalent service). Some a la carte services have fixed fees, while others will vary according to the complexity of your particular project.

Nancy Goodyear
24th March 2015

Nancy GoodyearNancy V Goodyear is a Business Mentor and Coach who loves to help social entrepreneurs and small business owners cultivate their relationship with self , their business and their audience. With a BA (Hons) in Learning Disability Nursing, she has extensive professional experience working in health & social care within the non-profit sector. She is fluent in French having lived in France for some time. She is a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute and the Co-Active Leadership programme. She is also a product developer, coach and member of the editorial team at The 7 Graces Project.

Nancy on Twitter: @NancyVGoodyear
Nancy’s website – http://nancyvgoodyear.com
CLICK HERE to read Nancy’s other articles on the 7 Graces website.

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

Looking for a Tribe?

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious by Lynn SerafinnTweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2015

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCCLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CICTwitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

Posted in 7 Key Relationships, Business Tips, Community Blogger, Nancy Goodyear, Platform Building Programme, Relationship with Our Business, Strategy Packages | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tip of the Day for Small Businesses: Get It Down in Writing!

Tip of the Day for Small Businesses: Get It Down in Writing!
Community member Lubna Gem Arielle explains why trust is not enough when it comes to business, and why you should keep a written record of what was agreed.

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, it can be tempting to enter into business arrangements informally, believing we can rely on trust and being afraid we will insult or alienate our clients with a suggestion of formality. Funnily enough, I’ve seen ‘both sides’ succumb to this fear, believing it is to accommodate the other!

What seems to fall by the wayside is the fact that if you choose not to enter into a written contract, you will often have a verbal one anyway. What has been agreed will be recorded in people’s heads, possibly with some written evidence such as emails or the narrative of an invoice, relating to some of what was agreed, but with key areas neglected.

The Perils of an Unwritten Contract

A contract formed in this way has weak spots which have very little to do with trust. Let’s look at two key areas.

Weak Spot 1 – Being Human

Almost all of us will admit to falling prey to the consequences of being human such as having flawed listening abilities and memories. How often do you just ‘switch off’ when someone is talking? Do we always hear and remember what was said? At times we may think we remember the date, exact location and most of the conversation and it is the other person who has forgotten – and yet, perhaps that is what they claim, too. ‘Trust’ is often not enough to fill in this gap which can so easily be avoided. Going through a process of discussing, agreeing and recording terms can patch over poor listening – and a written contract is a panacea for forgetfulness.

Weak Spot 2 – Incomplete Agreements & Mismatched Perspectives

Informal arrangements based on trust often don’t deal with key issues. In my experience, people may start off with good feelings, but this doesn’t mean they will be able to navigate bumps with a smile. The reality is that when the unexpected happens, perceptions of and perspectives on what is fair and reasonable can be utterly mismatched.

Let’s look at a typical example – commissioning a website designer. All too often, work is carried out on the basis of an invoice for half of the payment upfront, which may have some outline of website specifications attached. What could go wrong? I’ve heard so many friends, clients and colleagues complain that their website is taking forever – why didn’t the designer say he/she was overcommitted / going on holiday / having personal problems? At the same time, website designers become frustrated at clients being too slow in providing essential feedback or information and too quick off the mark in asking for sneaky extras which all add up.

Specifying the delivery date, timescales for giving feedback and what happens where changes are requested could all have been discussed upfront, when everyone was on friendly terms. That’s the best time to set clear boundaries and expectations. Not doing so means everyone grumbles about what they think is ‘fair’ or ‘reasonable’ and may be bitterly adamant about what the other person should do. They may or may not be able to resolve it. Even though they started out with the flavour of trust, these hazy relationships can end up turning sour.

The Opportunity in a Written Contract and DIY Solutions

A written contract presents an opportunity to discuss, agree and set out agreed terms. Having this drawn up by a lawyer is best, and with complex areas such as employment contracts or financing arrangements, you should always refer to an expert.

However, there may be times where you are entering into a simpler relationship, you may be providing your services at a modest value, or you may be developing and testing something new; and even though you are aware that having a professionally written contract would be wise, you are simply not geared up to obtain professional help. Here, at the very least, you should ensure that you discuss the key issues and keep a clear written record of what you have agreed as a simple DIY contract.

In some ways a contract is a glorified list of who does what and when. With this in mind, you can write your own simple contract in 4 basic steps:

  1. Write out your name and address and the other side’s name and address
  2. List what THEY are going to do and by when
  3. List what YOU are going to do and by when
  4. Add the date and sign it.

Of course you won’t include some of the nuances that a professional would, but it will give you a much better level of protection and assurance than doing nothing. Although a lawyer-made contract is more water-tight, an imperfect contract based on making a list can be good enough, enabling your business relationship to progress more smoothly and successfully to its conclusion without unnecessary disputes.

Written Records – The Halfway House

An alternative approach to a DIY contract is to exchange emails. Simply email the other side with your lists of who is doing what and ask them to confirm by return email. This will give you a clear and valuable record of what was agreed, which is evidence of what was agreed, i.e. evidence of your unwritten contract. As you can see, a signed DIY contract and written evidence of an unwritten contact are very closely related – there may not be much difference between them.

Some records are better than others; compare an exchange of emails with notes alleged to have been taken during the meeting. What if the notes were made on a branded notepad with the logo of the serviced offices where the meeting took place? What if they were made on an iPad? These are all useful, to varying degrees. These days, saved text message streams can also be helpful. The best scenario is for the written record to be in one place, showing some form of acknowledgement from the other side.

Final Thoughts on Trust

When it comes to trust, in my experience, the problem with unwritten contracts rarely stems from dishonesty. I have heard someone saying words with no melody: ‘I never said that.’ Maybe you have too. In those instances, we might be able to find an email or text to remind them; at other times, we might not. However, for the most part, the flaws in informality stem from our humanness – not listening, forgetting and having our own points of view of what ‘should’ be done. It’s so much simpler to get it down in writing – and contracts and written records don’t destroy trust. Far from it. They enable you to have important conversations and, in doing so, to build and nurture your business relationships.

I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences – what makes or has made you hesitate, and what happened when you insisted on a little more formality?

Until next time,

Lubna Gem Arielle
12 March 2015

Lubna Gem ArielleLubna Gem Arielle is the founder of 6 Minute Bites, making contracts accessible to entrepreneurs through experiential training and producing user-friendly terms and conditions. Alongside this, Lubna lectures in law in the MA in Arts Policy and Management at Birkbeck, University of London and advises visual artists through Artquest’s Q&A Service. Lubna is a graduate of the 7 Graces Foundations of Ethical Marketing Course and member of the 7 Graces Community.

CLICK HERE to read other articles by Lubna on this website.

Lubna’s Website: http://www.6minutebites.com
Lubna on Twitter @LubnaGemArielle
Lubna on LinkedIn: LubnaGemArielle

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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2015

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCCLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CICTwitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

 

Posted in Blog, Business Tips, Community Blogger, Law and Legal Tips, Lubna Gem Arielle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Questions Every Business Owner Should Ask Once a Year – Part 4

6 Questions Every Business Owner Should Ask Once a Year – Part 4
Ethical marketing strategist Lynn Serafinn offers a step-by-step guide to the ‘Where, When and How’ of your annual business plan. Part 4 of a 4-part series.

In my last three articles, I’ve been talking about why business owners should take time at least once a year to re-examine their business and marketing strategies. Throughout this series, I’ve been using six fundamental questions to help us delve into the matter:

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. When?
  4. Where?
  5. Why?
  6. How?

In Part 1, we looked at ‘WHO?’, exploring things like: Who are you and your company? Who are your customers and clients? Who are your partners, collaborators and support network? You can find Part 1 by clicking here.

In Part 2, we looked at ‘WHAT?’, asking the questions: What do you WANT? What do you OFFER? And what ELSE could you offer? We also looked at the ‘What?’ of money, and how it’s often a difficult subject for business owners to think about. Click to read Part 2.

Last time, in Part 3, we looked at the question, ‘WHY?’ We looked at the ‘Why?’ and also the ‘Why BOTHER?’ of your business. We asked ‘Why does the WORLD need what your company does?’ and I offered two hypothetical scenarios for how that might play out in practice. If you’d like to read Part 3, click HERE.

Today, in this final part of the series, we’re going to take on the remaining three questions:

‘WHERE?’ ‘WHEN?’ and ‘HOW?’

In reading through these, remember that when I use the term ‘business offers’, I am referring to the products and/or services you deliver to your customers/clients.

Defining the ‘WHERE?’ and ‘WHEN?’ of Your Business Offers

Once you’re really clear on the ‘Who?’, ‘What?’ and ‘Why?’ of your business, the next step is to look at the ‘Where?’ and ‘When?’. When we talk about your business offers, these two questions need to be asked in conjunction. In the past, all business was conducted in real-time and face-to-face. If you were selling bread, someone came to your shop and bought it. If you were a doctor, either you made house calls to visit your patients or they came to your practice to be treated by you. But these days, the choices for where and when we will deliver our business offers are much more varied:

  • You might sell digital or physical products on your website OR on third-party sites like eBay or Amazon OR both.
  • You might deliver private sessions with clients or patients in your office OR over the phone/Skype OR both.
  • You might deliver group training or coaching in real-time in person OR via a telephone conference line, Google Hangouts or Instant Teleseminar.*
  • You might deliver pre-recorded training through your own membership site OR through a third-party educational/training site.
  • You might (as most of my clients do nowadays) deliver a combination of the above.

* Transparency: that is my affiliate link for Instant Teleseminar; I have used them for several years for all my webinars, courses, telesummits, etc.

The ‘Where?’ and ‘When?’ of your business offers are the major determining factors in your marketing strategy. Only after you have defined these can you go on to answer other critical questions, such as:

WHERE are your clients/customers?
Your marketing will vary significantly depending on where your customers are located. If your business offers can only be delivered in a specific location, for example, your customer base will delineated by geography. However, if your business offers can be delivered remotely, it can open up a much broader potential audience. Each of these types of audiences requires a different approach to marketing. Many new clients come to me because they have attained little success with their online marketing. When I dig more deeply, I often learn they are working with geographically defined client bases. What needs to happen in such a case is: a) we devise a different marketing strategy that specifically reaches people in their geographic area OR; b) we create new product lines that expand the boundaries of their potential audience OR; c) both a and b.

WHEN do you want to do WHAT during the week?
This might seem like a silly question to some. Businesses are ‘supposed’ to work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, right? Well, that might work if you have a ‘job job’, but not if you’re a sole trader running your own business. For example, I only meet with clients on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, between the hours of 2-8pm UK time. Those might seem like really strange working hours, but this arrangement is absolutely crucial to my being able to deliver my services and run my business properly. I know the majority of my clients are in the United States. If I stuck to a 9 to 5 regime, it would make it almost impossible for my west-coast clients to work with me. Also, it means I can use the mornings for writing – not just my own books and articles, but all the marketing copy my clients hire me to write for them (and there’s a lot of it!). Lastly, it allows me to use Mondays and Friday to work on product development, billing, bookkeeping or other operational work. It also gives me the freedom to take those days off or to work on an entirely different project (right now I use many of my Fridays to work on my family history research). Saying, ‘We are open for business during the traditional work week,’ without defining WHAT you will do WHEN is a guaranteed formula for leaving you feeling over-worked and under-paid. It will also leave you wide open to allowing your customers and clients to define how you run your business (and your life!).

WHERE are your partners and WHERE is their audience?
In Part 1 of this series, I asked the question, ‘Who are your partners/collaborators/support network?’ Equally important is knowing WHERE you can find them. Do they come from a local MeetUp or business network? Do they come from a Facebook group or Twitter following? Do they come from a mastermind group to which you belong? But knowing where your partners ‘hang out’ and where you can develop rapport with them is only one half the question. You also need to know where THEIR audience is. If all your potential partners are geographically based, but you are planning an online promotion (or vice versa), there is a mismatch between your partners and what you can mutually offer one another.

WHERE will your marketing connect all of the above?
Only after you have explored the previous questions can you join all the dots together and create a marketing strategy. WHERE will this marketing ‘live’? Will your marketing focus on email announcements? Social media? SEO/Google AdWords? Blog tours? Article marketing? Will it be supported through a local network? Print advertising? A speaking/radio tour? An affiliate programme? In choosing this ‘WHERE’, be sure you ask yourself:

How does my marketing strategy connect ALL
the ‘who, what, why, when and where’ elements
I have already defined?

Why ‘HOW?’ Is the LAST Thing You Should Ask

Knowing how you’re going to put a plan into action is the only way you’ll ever get it done. However, in my experience, most people ask, ‘How?’ at totally the wrong time. They say things like, ‘I’d really love to do such-and-such, BUT I have no idea how.‘ It’s like someone shutting a door in their face. The great monster called ‘I don’t know how’ is probably the biggest impediment to our being able to think creatively and expansively.

This is why it is essential to go through ALL your ‘who, what, when, where and why’ questions before you permit yourself to ask, ‘How?’ By then, you will already have an emotional investment in the idea and the ‘I don’t know how’ will not have nearly as much potency. Instead of it stopping you dead in your tracks, you will look for solutions – or get help from others – that can begin to put all the ‘hows’ in place.

Closing Thoughts

We’ve now completed our look at the six questions every business owner should ask once a year. I hope this series has helped you to start thinking about your business and where you want to take it over the next year.

The ideas I’ve been sharing are inspired by the work I do with my clients. If you’re an independent business owner looking develop the ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’ of your business and marketing, I invite you to explore our 7 Graces Business & Marketing Strategy Packages:

  • Our 13-Week PLATFORM BUILDING & Growth Package – for established business owners who want to build their online presence, increase their blog traffic and grow their Twitter following. This can also be used in combination with one of our product development packages.
  • AUTHOR services – we also have a variety of services just for authors, including full-service Amazon book launches, wholesale copywriting, virtual blog tours and other marketing services.
  • ‘A la carte’ services – Many of our other services can also be purchased ‘a la carte’ (although the package prices are always lower for the equivalent service). Some a la carte services have fixed fees, while others will vary according to the complexity of your particular project.

ALL of these packages and services are available NOW. You can read all about them on our ‘Work With Us’ page at: http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/work-with-us/.

On that page, you’ll also find downloadable PDF information packs, so you can read about each package in your own time. If you like what you read, and you’d like to discuss how we might work together, follow the link provided in the info pack to set up a FREE 30-minute consultation.

Of course, if you have any questions before you do that, don’t hesitate to drop us a line via the Contact form on this site.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm wishes,
Lynn Serafinn
4 March 2015

P.S. I do hope you’ll stay in touch by subscribing to this blog; and, as always, don’t forget to leave a comment (and share with your network) before leaving!

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing in 2015

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCCLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CICTwitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

Posted in 6 questions, 7 Graces, 7 Graces Project, 7 Key Relationships, Blog, Business Tips, Lynn Serafinn, Marketing Tips, New Paradigm, Platform Building Programme, Relationship with Our Audience, Relationship with Our Business, Social Enterprise, Strategy Packages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Questions Every Business Owner Should Ask Once a Year – Part 3

6 Questions Every Business Owner Should Ask Once a Year - PART 3 - WHY?
Ethical marketing strategist Lynn Serafinn challenges business owners to ask WHY they bother to do what they. Part 3 of a 4-part series.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about the need for every business owner to take time at least once a year to re-examine their business and marketing strategies. I have suggested the easiest way to do this is to utilise six questions as springboards for self-enquiry:

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. When?
  4. Where?
  5. Why?
  6. How?

So far we’ve looked at ‘WHO?’ (in Part 1) and ‘WHAT?’ (in Part 2)

In Part 1, we asked things like: Who are you and your company? Who are your customers and clients? Who are your partners, collaborators and support network? If you missed that article (or you’d like to refresh your memory), you can find Part 1 by clicking here.

In Part 2, we asked: What do you WANT? What do you OFFER? And what ELSE could you offer? We also looked at the ‘what’ of money, and how it’s often a difficult subject for business owners to think about. You can click here if you’d like to read Part 2.

Today, I’m going to take a DETOUR and leap down to question #5:

‘WHY?’

Defining the ‘Why?’ of Your Business

The reason I’m skipping over ‘When?’ and ‘Where?’ for now is that they really need to be explored in conjunction with ‘How?’ (I’ll be looking at all three of these in the fourth and final part of this series). Discussing the ‘When?’ ‘Where?’ and ‘How?’ is moot if we have not yet determined why we’re doing what we’re doing.

So let’s be blunt and start by asking what really needs to be asked:

‘WHY BOTHER?’

WHY #1: Why bother doing what you do?

Back in Part 2, I asked you, ‘What do you WANT?’ You might think the answer you gave to that question also answers the question, ‘Why bother?’ But it doesn’t. Let me tell you a story that illustrates the difference between the two.

Back in the late 1970s when I was in my early 20s, I was working on a Master’s degree in ethnomusicology. Ethnomusicology is one of those strange disciplines that straddle academic departments; some consider it part of musical study, while others place it in social anthropology or folklore. As a result, when I was studying, my colleagues were from many different backgrounds. Most came by way of folklore studies or social anthropology; few were trained in classical music, as I had been.

One day, one of my classmates – a PhD candidate in folklore – was delivering a presentation called something like ‘The Ritual Structure of the Saturday Night Chicano Dance’. In a nutshell, what he basically said was that when Mexican American youth get together to have a party, the night is slow to start, then it reaches a peak, and it gradually fizzles out and they go home. He used just enough anthropological jargon to baffle the musicians, and just enough musical jargon to impress the anthropologists. Our professor leaned back in his chair, puffed on his pipe (yes, some teachers actually smoked in class back then) and said, ‘Yes, yes, this is very important. You should present your findings at this year’s conference.’

I sat in my chair in disbelief. Why is this important? I fumed (silently). Kids go out and have a party. That’s fine. Like any party, it has a beginning, middle and end. Like any party, it brings people together. But is this so important that we should spend time analysing it at academic conferences (and give hefty study grants to doctoral candidates)?

Most of all, I thought, Does this kind of study do anything whatsoever for the people you’re analysing?

I think not.

The emotions I felt percolated within me until I needed to say something. But the classroom didn’t seem the right place, so I went to see my professor in his office later that day. I candidly told him what I had thought and felt about the presentation and his comments about it. Then I asked him:

‘Why do you DO what you do? I mean, how can you justify it? Because right now, I’m having trouble figuring out why I’m doing any of this.’

My professor said, ‘I do it because I love it. It makes me happy.’

‘But is that enough?’ I asked. ‘Is it enough to do something because we enjoy it, if we’re not giving something back? We study cultures because they are fascinating, but how is it helping anyone if we’re only talking amongst ourselves about it? How can presenting a paper on a Saturday night dance in the barrio be important when we’re doing nothing to help the kids living in urban ganglands? How can my own study of Indian music be important if I’m not doing anything to help those who are living in poverty in that country?’

Admittedly, I was getting a bit agitated. These questions had already been brewing within me for several months, and this incident was simply the catalyst that sent me over the edge. I had even been speaking with the Peace Corps, and was contemplating ditching everything to go teach or dig trenches in some third-world country.

A bit more sternly, but not angrily, my professor replied, ‘The fact that I enjoy it is justification enough for me.’ There was an unspoken ‘and that’s that’ at the end of his sentence.

I looked up at him, with gravity in my heart, and replied, ‘Well, it’s enough not for me.’

After that, I completed all my courses and exams for my MA, but I never finished my thesis (I did another MA in adult education when I was in my late 40s). I could never regain the motivation for it after that incident; it seemed pointless.

(Oh, I didn’t join the Peace Corps. I got married and had a child instead. But I digress….)

The point of my sharing this story is to take you beyond the ‘What do you want?’ question and dive more deeply into the fundamental reasons why you bother to do what you do:

While loving what you do is essential, loving what your work does for others is what makes yours a new paradigm business.

Your answers to ‘Why bother?’ should reflect the emotion, belief, value or vision you have that fuels your motivation. This statement is most powerful if you can get it down to one line. For example:

  • Because I am grief-stricken by all the poverty in the world and what to help end it
  • Because I believe supporting independent businesses is good for the whole world
  • Because I love animals and want to stop the cruelty being done to them
  • Because I care that people suffering with cancer should be supported
  • Because I believe people can heal by studying their personal ancestry
  • Because I am angry that civil liberties are being violated and want to change this
  • Because I am frustrated with big pharma and want people to have a natural option

Assess the validity of your ‘Why bother?’ statement

Once you’ve come up with an answer to ‘Why bother?’ write it down on a piece of paper. Read it over many times. Ask yourself whether this is actually your current ‘Why bother?’ or if it’s something you’ve believed or assumed for many years. Has your ‘Why bother?’ changed over the past year? Are you actually working toward a different purpose?

It can be difficult (and even sad) to admit that our ‘Why bother?’ statement may have changed. But if we operate our business on out-dated visions or values that have since shifted, we will find ourselves losing steam, much as I did during my MA programme.

Be brave. Go back to the questions you answered in Part 1 to re-examine the ‘Who?’ of you and your business. See how this ‘Who?’ matches up to the ‘Why?’

Tweak your statement until it reflects where you are right now. Then, READ IT ALOUD. When you do, it should affect you physically. It might make you get choked up. You might feel it hit you in the gut like a bolt of lightning. When this happens, you know you’ve got it right.

WHY #2: Why does the WORLD need what your company does?

Our next (and final) ‘Why?’ question takes us beyond ourselves and into the wider world. Why does the world need us? What is the underlying social need for our work? What is happening in the world that needs our attention? How does what we do address that need?

This is your chance to go into more detail about your ‘Why?’ For example, here is how two contrasting hypothetical companies might answer this question in combination with their ‘Why bother?’ statements above:

HYPOTHETICAL BUSINESS A – CSR Company Working for Civil Liberties

Why bother? Because I am angry that civil liberties are being violated and want to change this.

Why does the WORLD need what your company does? Because many companies are unaware how civil liberties are being violated along the supply chain in their business. By doing a detailed supply chain analysis for them, showing them exactly where their products are coming from, they can make changes to make their company more ethical. This can also discourage the offenders from continuing their unethical behaviour, because it will no longer be profitable.

HYPOTHETICAL BUSINESS B – Genealogist Working with Private Clients

Why bother? Because I believe people can heal by studying their personal ancestry.

Why does the WORLD need what your company does? Because in the past, people always had a strong connection to their past – their families, their town of origin. These days, people have lost that due to emigration, ease of travel and changes in the family structure. As a result, many in the modern western world suffer with issues concerning personal and cultural identity. Lack of identity can cause emotional issues as well as social tensions. By helping people research their ancestral history and construct their family tree, we are opening the door to their being able to heal broken or missing parts within themselves, and become more tolerant, accepting of and respectful toward others.

Again, write your answer on a piece of paper and read it aloud. Compare what you’ve written to the ‘WHAT?’ questions you answered in Part 2 (What do you DO? What do you OFFER? What ELSE could you offer?). See how your ‘Why?’ matches up with the ‘What?’ Don’t be surprised if you find you want to make changes to your ‘What?’ answers. Just keep fine-tuning it.

Then, when it really sings to you, paste this piece of paper on your wall. Let it sit with you a few days and see if there’s anything else you want to change about it. DO NOT OVERTHINK IT. That’s when such statements tend to get flat and unnecessarily complicated.

Closing Thoughts

Answering our ‘Why?’ questions brings us into the realm of ethics. Face it, if we’re only in it for the money, there’s no way we can answer ‘Why?’ with any kind of meaning.

And although in journalism ‘Why?’ is traditionally near the end of this list of questions, when it comes to our businesses, it needs to come either second or third in our self-enquiry. There’s no point in asking ‘What?’ ‘When?’ or ‘How?’ unless we already know the ‘Why?’

The reason I chose to ask ‘What?’ before ‘Why?’ in this article series is because I am assuming many of you reading this already have an active business offering products and services. It’s always my practice to look at what you have before you look at what you don’t have.

If you are a start-up business or are currently going through a majority shift or re-brand, I suggest you start with ‘Who?’ (Part 1) and then jump to ‘Why?’ (in this article) before looking at ‘What?’ (Part 2).

Hopefully, these exercises have given you some food for thought and focus for the next year of your business. Next time, we’ll be rounding off this series with a triple-whammy as we look at the last of our six questions: ‘Where?’ ‘When?’ and ‘How?’ I hope you’ll subscribe to this blog so you’ll be sure to receive it via your inbox.

The ideas I’ve been sharing are inspired by the work I do with my own clients. If you’re looking to create a comprehensive portrait of the ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’ of your business, including how to define the WHY of your business and how to develop, price and market your business offers, please drop us a line via the Contact form on this site and enquire about our 7 Graces Business & Marketing Strategy Packages:

  • Our 13-Week PLATFORM BUILDING & Growth Package – for established business owners who want to build their online presence, increase their blog traffic and grow their Twitter following. This can also be used in combination with one of our product development packages.
  • AUTHOR services – we also have a variety of services just for authors, including full-service Amazon book launches, wholesale copywriting, virtual blog tours and other marketing services.
  • ‘A la carte’ services – Many of our other services can also be purchased ‘a la carte’ (although the package prices are always lower for the equivalent service). Some a la carte services have fixed fees, while others will vary according to the complexity of your particular project.

ALL of these packages and services are available NOW. You can read all about them on our ‘Work With Us’ page at: http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/work-with-us/.

On that page, you’ll also find downloadable PDF information packs, so you can read about each package in your own time. If you like what you read, and you’d like to discuss how we might work together, follow the link provided in the info pack to set up a FREE 30-minute consultation.

Of course, if you have any questions before you do that, don’t hesitate to drop us a line via the Contact form on this site.

As always, don’t forget to leave a comment (and share with your network) before leaving!

Warm wishes,
Lynn Serafinn
19 February 2015

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing in 2015

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCCLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CICTwitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

 

Posted in 6 questions, 7 Graces, 7 Graces Project, 7 Key Relationships, Blog, Business Tips, Lynn Serafinn, New Paradigm, Relationship with Our Business, Social Enterprise, Strategy Packages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Questions Every Business Owner Should Ask Once a Year – Part 2

6 Questions Every Business Owner Should Ask Once a Year – Part 2Marketing strategist Lynn Serafinn explores the second of six important questions that can help ensure our business is evolving along with us. Part 2 in series.

A few weeks ago I made a New Year’s resolution to write the articles for this ‘6 questions’ series throughout the month of January. In Part 1, I made the comment that we often joke about our New Year’s resolutions, as so many of us forget about them or find them too difficult to uphold.

Well, there you go. I wrote that on January 8th and here we are in February already. For one reason or another I didn’t get around to writing the next article until today. Oh sure, I had legitimate reasons. Our website was being migrated to a new server and there were many technical issues that warranted my attention. Then, after being stuck for months, I got a FLASH of creative mojo and suddenly couldn’t stop writing my blogging book (which I decided to start over again from scratch). Then, my 60th birthday rolled around and I had almost two solid weeks of celebrations with friends and family. Then, I switched Internet service providers and had no access to the Internet for two days. And then, of course, I had clients – lots and lots of clients who were all revving up for the New Year and needed a lot of care and attention from me.

Yeah. Lots of excuses. Legitimate ones perhaps, but excuses nonetheless.

I wouldn’t bother bringing this all up just to make an ‘excuse’ for why I haven’t written until today; rather, it’s a perfect example of how we make plans with the best of intentions but, for one good reason or another, we don’t manage to see them through. Instead, we allow ‘stuff’ to dictate what we do in a kind of chain-reaction response. Something says, ‘Look at me, now!’ and we look. Something says, ‘Fix me, now!’ and we fix it.

While this kind of automated respond to stimuli in our lives is inevitable (and probably necessary) from time to time, the problem is that if we allow this to become a pattern, we are likely to find ourselves at the end of a long day wondering what we’ve actually gotten done. Our ‘to do list’ never seems to change and we feel like we’re spinning our wheels.

For business owners, if allow ourselves to work this way to such a point that it becomes a habit, we will end up doing ourselves, our business AND our customers/clients a huge disservice. When we continually allow circumstance to dictate our direction, we will eventually find ourselves overworked and burnt out; our businesses will fail to flourish and evolve and our customers will receive poorer service.

But there is another, highly destructive way business owners can fall into the trap of allowing circumstance to dictate their direction:

…by not taking time, at least once a year, to assess whether the business and marketing model from which they are operating is still relevant to them and their customers.

The purpose of this article series is to provide you with some critical self-enquiries to help keep you from falling into this trap. As a vehicle for these questions, I have been using six key questions:

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. When?
  4. Where?
  5. Why?
  6. How?

In Part 1, we looked at ‘Who?’ We looked at the various ‘Whos’ of your business: Who are you and your company? Who are your customers and clients? Who are your partners, collaborators and support network? If you missed that article (or you’d like to refresh your memory), you can find it by clicking here.

Today, I’m going to focus on the next of these self-enquiry questions:

‘WHAT?’

Defining the ‘What?’ of Your Business

After we understand our ‘Who?’, being able to define the ‘What?’ of our business is of paramount importance. Without a ‘What?’ we don’t have a business. The kinds of ‘Whats’ we will look at here are:

  1. What do you WANT?
  2. What do you OFFER?
  3. What ELSE could you offer?

SIDENOTE: As we look through these in turn, I want to add that these questions are not only important for ongoing business owners to ask themselves, but are especially vital when you are starting a new business or going through a rebrand.

WHAT #1: What do you WANT?

Almost any trained coach will tell you ‘What do you want?’ is the most commonly asked question during coaching sessions. Yet it seems to be one of the most uncommon questions we ask ourselves, perhaps because it’s loaded with emotional dynamite:

  • Our answers are too vague to mean anything.
  • We fear if we ask for too much we will end up being disappointed, so we habitually ask for less than we actually want.
  • We create lots of sensible sounding justifications for why we cannot have what we really want.

Being vague about what we want is a sure-fire way to ensure we won’t get it. Saying something like, ‘I want to earn a good living through my business,’ or, ‘I want more clients,’ or, ‘I want to do what I love,’ means…nothing, really. Without defining the specifics of what you want, you have no measuring stick for knowing when or whether you’ve GOT it. The synapses in your brain will keep asking, ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet?’ And when it does, you won’t have an answer, because you won’t know if you have reached your destination.

For many, the problem with being specific is that they worry they are asking too much. They worry they won’t be able to achieve it (or don’t deserve it). They fear the disappointment and feelings of failure that come along with this, so they keep their targets small and contained.

This is where the ‘sensible sounding justifications’ come in. We tell ourselves things like the economy is bad, people aren’t spending, and so forth. We say we’re in business to make a difference, not to get rich. We imagine if we ask for more from our business, we will lose customers (and friends) because they will think we are greedy. Then, even if we manage to move past all those justifications, we tell ourselves we don’t have enough time to do it all; we don’t have the knowledge, the qualifications or the skills.

Ultimately, we convince ourselves we’re ok with where we are. But deep inside, we feel bland and maybe even mediocre…even though we don’t have any goal posts for what we would consider to be exciting and excellent.

The ‘What?’ of MONEY

To reframe the question ‘What do I want?’ it is useful to look at what you already have. By this, I mean tangible, measurable things. Let’s just look at money for now. The reason I’m starting here is a) it’s easily measurable and b) it’s often a touchy subject for business owners (especially sole traders). The other reason I’m starting here is that I just filed my taxes a couple of weeks ago, and this process is something I’m doing in my own business right now!

Assuming you’ve done your bookkeeping for the past year, your starting point should be to ask:

  • How much turnover did you have last year?
  • How much of that turnover went towards operational expenses?
  • How much of that was profit/income?
  • How did that work for you?
    • Did you ever feel stretched financially? If so, how much more income would you need to feel at ease? Be as specific as possible.
    • If you didn’t feel ‘stretched’ but you also didn’t have any real surplus income, how much more would you need to feel safe and satisfied? Again, be specific.
  • What can you trim down? People often forget one of the FASTEST ways to increase your income is to streamline your outgoings. So now, looking at your expenses, ask yourself what you could minimise or eliminate in the coming year to decrease your business outgoings. Don’t be haphazard with this. Carefully assess which expenses no longer financially justify their place in your business. Then, write down how much money this will add to your annual profits (or could be put to better use within your business). You might be surprised how many casual business expenses you’ve been carrying that are draining your resources. Believe me, they mount up over time if you don’t do regular reviews.

Try to go through these questions as dispassionately and objectively as possible. Remember, these are all things to do with ‘WHAT?’ not ‘WHO?’ They are facts, numbers. Do not confuse them with who you ARE. Remember:

The aim of going through this process is to answer the question
‘What do I WANT?’
NOT
‘What do I not have?’

WHAT #2: What do you OFFER?

When asking the question ‘What do you offer?’ I am referring to your specific products and services. Saying something like, ‘I’m a coach,’ or, ‘I’m an alternative therapist,’ doesn’t give us any foundation for planning the next year of your business. Customers don’t really care about your label; they care about finding solutions that specifically address their problems, whether they relate to health, parenting, relationships, finances, business development, emotional issues, home decor or cookery. For this reason, I believe (and have experienced) that true business success and flow happens when we combine the ‘Who?’ of our business with the ‘What?’ to create products from our services, whatever those might be.

Being armed with a roster of definable products (i.e. our offers) enables us to achieve a much higher level of planning in our business. Financially, it allows to see our turnover, expenses and profits with great precision. It also enables us to see how much we might be trading ‘time for money’, and where that can change.

Creating products also helps us design specific marketing strategies. It helps us talk about what we do and what it brings to others with greater ease. Having definable products makes it easier to demonstrate the relevance of what we DO to what our audience WANT. Having products make our services easier to SELL.

So if your answer to the question ‘What do I offer?’ was something like, ‘I offer 1-to-1 coaching,’ or, ‘I offer business advice,’ or, ‘I offer alternative therapies,’ you’ve missed the point. These are not offers. They are abstract methodologies, not THINGS. People don’t buy methodologies; they buy products that will provide them with specific solutions. If you do not currently have any such ‘offers’ in your business, I refer you to an earlier article I posted in April 2014 called ‘Why Turning Services into Products is Good for Business AND Customers’, which can help you understand how to create them.

If you do have legitimate ‘offers’ in your business, write them down in a list. Then, ask a combination of ‘Who?’ and ‘What?’ questions, to get a better understanding of how they are currently operating in your business:

  • WHAT is the offer?
  • WHO are the customers I am serving with this offer?
  • WHAT specific needs are addressed in this offer?
  • WHAT do I currently charge for this offer?
  • WHAT was the total gross income from this offer over the past year (i.e. before deducting expenses or taking profit from it)?
  • WHAT was the total number of clients/customers/sales generated from this offer?
  • WHAT does this offer cost me to deliver (per sale or per annum, whichever is more relevant)? This SHOULD include expenses you have paid to other people, but not your own fees/salary.
  • WHAT kind of feedback have I received about it from my clients, customers, and support staff?

Then, looking at the answers to all those questions, ask:

  • WHAT is working/not working with this offer:
    • Qualitatively (value, integrity, etc.)?
    • Financially (relative profit compared to the amount of time, expense and energy)?
    • Emotionally (ease, enjoyment, stress, for you, your staff, your customers)?

Finally, ask:

  • WHAT could make this same offer work better for me, my staff and my customers in the coming year?
  • WHAT has changed over the past year in my business that influences the relevance of this offer? Is it now even MORE relevant? LESS relevant? Completely IRRELEVANT?

This might seem like a gruelling process, but I can tell you from experience that if you don’t go through it once a year, you are likely to keep offering products that are draining your energy and resources, and preventing your business from evolving into what it actually wants to become.

If you are holding onto offers that are past their ‘sell-by date’ just because you’re familiar with them, go back to the ‘What do I WANT?’ question and try to recognise the justifications you might be using to keep you from letting go of them.

WHAT #3: What ELSE could you offer?

While the other two ‘What?’ questions might have been hard work, this one should hopefully open the creative floodgates.

Asking ourselves ‘What else?’ is an open invitation to explore, to swim about and to break the mould. Instead of revising or getting rid of the old ways of doing things, this is where we can expand and let our imaginations come out to play.

Start by asking yourself:

  • WHAT have your clients repeatedly been asking for, but you haven’t had a ready solution?
  • WHAT are you dying to try out, but you may have been too swamped with towing the line to do it?
  • WHAT would be the easiest/fastest new product to roll out because you already have all the raw materials for it?
  • WHAT would make you tingle with excitement to offer to the world?
  • WHAT has the greatest potential to bring you the additional income you wished for back in Question 1 (‘What do I WANT?’)?

When playing with these ideas, be careful not to fall into the trap of asking too many questions. Most especially:

Do NOT be tempted to ask yourself ‘How can I do this?’

The ‘how’ is, of course, very important before you can execute any plan. But asking it too soon can shut down the creative flow of your ‘What?’ questions. The ‘How?’ will come soon enough. Just not now.

Closing Thoughts

So far in our ‘annual review’ we’ve made it through ‘Who?’ and ‘What?’ I hope you’ve taken the time to try the exercises provided and not just read through these articles. Even the best strategies won’t work unless you put them into practice.

And if say you haven’t had time to do your own annual review, ask yourself WHAT you are putting higher up on your list of priorities. After running my current business for the past 8 years, and helping hundreds of clients during that time, I know how critical it is to review all the WHATs of our business on a regular basis. Delaying this process is a recipe for financial struggle and emotional burnout.

So put the kettle on. Allow yourself to relax so you can go through the process with a clear mind and not too much over-thinking. Print this article and go through each area in detail. Then, be prepared to see solutions pop out in front of your eyes that you might never have suspected.

When you’ve done all that, you’ll be ready for the next instalment, when we look at ‘WHY?’

These ideas are an amalgamation of some of the key areas I work on with my own clients. If you’re looking to create a comprehensive portrait of the ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’ of your business, including how to develop, price and market your business offers, please drop us a line via the Contact form on this site and enquire about our new 7 Graces Business & Marketing Strategy Packages:

  • Our 13-Week PLATFORM BUILDING & Growth Package – for established business owners who want to build their online presence, increase their blog traffic and grow their Twitter following. This can also be used in combination with one of our product development packages.
  • AUTHOR services – we also have a variety of services just for authors, including full-service Amazon book launches, wholesale copywriting, virtual blog tours and other marketing services.
  • ‘A la carte’ services – Many of our other services can also be purchased ‘a la carte’ (although the package prices are always lower for the equivalent service). Some a la carte services have fixed fees, while others will vary according to the complexity of your particular project.

ALL of these packages and services are available NOW. You can read all about them on our ‘Work With Us’ page at: http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/work-with-us/.

On that page, you’ll also find downloadable PDF information packs, so you can read about each package in your own time. If you like what you read, and you’d like to discuss how we might work together, follow the link provided in the info pack to set up a FREE 30-minute consultation.

Of course, if you have any questions before you do that, don’t hesitate to drop us a line via the Contact form on this site.

I hope you’ll subscribe to this blog so you can receive the other articles in this series. And, as always, don’t forget to leave a comment (and share with your network) before leaving!

Warm wishes,
Lynn Serafinn
8 February 2015

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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing in 2015

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCCLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CICTwitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

 

Posted in 6 questions, 7 Graces, 7 Key Relationships, Blog, Lynn Serafinn, New Paradigm, Relationship with Audience, Relationship with Money, Relationship with Our Audience, Relationship with Our Business | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment