Seriously Improve Your Networking Skills with 5 steps

No matter what profession you’re in, networking is the fuel that accelerates success. Not only is it useful for learning directly from individuals you meet, but the benefits of association and growing your own authority are just as powerful.

Related: How to Start a Conversation With Strangers at a Networking Event

For some of us, the word networking can leave a bad taste in our mouths. Many of us aren’t sure where to start, what to say when we connect with someone or how to maintain that relationship. Although I truly believe there’s an art and science to networking and building authentic relationships, I’m going to distill what I’ve learned over the past few years. So, here is my no-BS guide to networking.

Stage 1: Mindset

Before you think about networking, remove the word “working” from your system. We hear people talking about putting on their “networking game,” and I can’t help but wonder how many showers they’ll need to take afterward to rid themselves of the inauthenticity. It’s likely that the people you’re trying to reach get approached by dozens, if not hundreds, of people just like you; and it’s not difficult for them to weed out the people who are “putting on a face.”

The best networking comes from genuine relationships, not a business card exchange. No matter whom you’re trying to build a relationship with, treating that person as a friend rather than a business contact will take you much further with the relationship. So, think about how you would approach a potential friend. Find something you have in common with, keep it light, make jokes, and above all, show that you care.

Stage 2: The destination

Doing something for the sake of doing it is rarely a good idea, nor is it a good use of your time. It’s the old analogy of having a fully gassed car without a final destination to head toward.

As many of you may already know, I’m a big believer in goal setting and focusing on pouring energy into accomplishing the stated goal. What is your dream job? How do you envision your future? What do you need to be doing to be the most fulfilled, happy and driven version of you? Write down what your goal is for five years from now. Then write down what goal you need to hit one year from now in order to get you closer to your five-year goal. Finally, write down what goal you need to hit 90 days from now in order to get you closer to your one-year goal.

For example: Let’s say your goal is to make $1 million in five years. You would need a vehicle, whether that is your own business, investments or something financially viable to get you to your destination. In this case, your goal one year from now might be to have your business launched and to hit $5,000 per month in sales.

So, what would you need to do in the next 90 days in order to hit $5,000 per month in your new business, one year from now? It might be finding the right partner with a complementary skill sets, or acquiring your first paying customer in the next 90 days.

5-year goal: Make $1 million
1-year goal: Hit $5,000/month ($60,000 per year) in sales with new business
90-day goal: Get your first paying customer

Now, it’s time to write down your goals. Yes, physically write them!

Stage 3: The map

Now that you have your final destination for five years from now, including focused, short-term goals to get you there, design your map. Keith Ferrazzi has a powerful strategy called the Networking Action Plan (NAP), which he explains in Never Eat Alone, to connect your networking strategy with your goals.

Step 1 is to write down your goals and final destination (which you completed in Stage 2). Step 2 is to look at the three goals you have written down. Then, next to each of your goals, write down three people who will either kickstart or accelerate your goal. These could be people you are already connected with, who are second-degree connections from you, or people you have no connections to.

Examples of who your top 3 could be include mentors or advisors, clients who will advocate for you, investors who believe in your vision, team members who may be co-founders or key hires, a boss or manager who could propel you to a raise or strategic position within your organization or superconnectors that will connect you with any of the above, to build your network.

If you’re looking to start a company, the three people could be a potential partner, an investor and a potential client. For a best-selling book, the three could be your agent, promotional partners or editor.

It’s important to invest some time doing thorough research to be confident that the three people are essential in helping you accomplish your goals faster.

Stage 4: Building a human connection

Hw do you foster a real connection when you speak with someone — whether it’s on Skype or on the phone or in-person? Personally, I think it boils down to these factors:

  • Ask insightful questions (to get the other person thinking). You can know a lot about a person by the quality of the questions he or she asks. Tony Robbins often shares that the quality of your questions correlates to the quality of your life.
  • Ask better questions, receive better answers. Peter Thiel challenges us to ask ourselves: “How do we accomplish our 10-year goals in six months?” By asking better questions when you’re speaking with someone, you not only put yourself in a category of someone that thinks differently, but you force the other person to think in a new way that helps him or her grow.
  • Pay attention (as if your life depended on it). This may come naturally for some people, or be extremely difficult for others. In our smartphone era, paying attention is a demanded “skill” many of us lack. How many times have you spoken with someone who is constantly fidgeting, looking around or interrupting your every sentence? By simplying maintaining eye contact, listening attentively and responding with relevant questions, you’re separating yourself from the rest of the pack and are well on your way to fostering a genuine relationship.

Listen. Ask good questions. Repeat.

Stage 5: Superconnecting

The fastest way to grow your own network is to introduce two people who can benefit from each another. As simple as this strategy sounds, it’s one you hardly see most people do. When’s the last time someone deliberately went out of his or her way to introduce you to someone after listening to your struggles? If you’re the rare breed that has experienced this, you’ve met a superconnector. 

With over three billion people online today, it’s increasingly difficult to separate the fog from the light, and the role of superconnectors will become increasingly important to make that distinction. Here are few of the most powerful ways to become a superconnector yourself.

  • Don’t keep score. This is by far the key difference between superconnectors and everyone else. Superconnectors have an abundance mentality, and they’re always willing to give, connect and share.
  • Make friends, not “contacts.” In other words, value quality over quantity. Put away your business cards, and form genuine friendships with people you meet. I force myself to never talk about business in the first encounter with someone, unless I have to. It’s 10 times more valuable to develop connections with five quality people at an event than 50 “contacts” whose names you won’t remember.
  • Connect other superconnectors. Do you know two connectors who could benefit from meeting? Have they already met? Introducing two superconnectors will be the easiest connection you make because: They are naturally friendly and most likely will have friends in common. And you’ll not only help others further their goals, but will come to mind for them, for future potential connections that will benefit you.
  • Interview people. This may be one of the fastest ways to grow your network, if done strategically. You could do this in the context of a research paper, book or, my personal favorite, a podcast. I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with the likes of Eric RiesAdam Braun, Jason Fried, Gary Vaynerchuk and others who would have been difficult to connect with had I not started #SKIM Live.
  • Follow-up. This is the missing step we all forget to do. But following up to see how the introduction went, or randomly following up a few months later with no agenda will not only help you maintain your connections, but foster the relationship to a different level. In a world of take take take, being able to show that you care about someone as a friend will put you in a whole different category with any of your connections.

Can you think of someone you need to follow up with right now?

Τρία Βήματα για επιτυχία στις εξαγωγές

Δεδομένης της οικονομικής κατάστασης της χώρας μας, η αναζήτηση νέων αγορών για διανομή των προϊόντων κρίνεται επιτακτική για πολλές επιχειρήσεις. Η διαδικασία εν τούτοις είναι αρκετά πολύπλοκη και σίγουρα χωρίς εγγυήσεις επιτυχίας από την αρχή.

Παρόλα αυτά αν η εξαγωγική διαδικασία γίνει οργανωμένα μπορεί να αποτελέσει στρατηγική σημαντικής ανάπτυξης για κάθε επιχείρηση. Ακολουθούν κάποια βήματα που μπορεί να οδηγήσουν τα προϊόντα σας στα χέρια των διεθνών καταναλωτών.

1. Export Marketing Plan

Το μυστικό για να έχει κάποιος επιτυχία στην εξαγωγική του προσπάθεια είναι η καλή προετοιμασία και ένα καλά σχεδιασμένο πλάνο marketing.

Το πλάνο marketing δίνει τις κατευθύνσεις και μας βοηθά περισσότερο να δράσουμε αντί να αντι-δράσουμε στις προκλήσεις και τα ρίσκα των διεθνών αγορών. Επίσης το πλάνο marketing μας βοηθά να εφαρμόσουμε την εξαγωγική μας στρατηγική, να βρούμε συνεργάτες–πελάτες στο εξωτερικό και να κάνουμε την καλύτερη κατανομή των πόρων μας.

Ένα export-marketing plan περιλαμβάνει περιγραφή της εταιρίας μας και των επιχειρηματικών μας στόχων, πληροφορίες για τα προϊόντα ή τις υπηρεσίες μας, ανάλυση της αγοράς που στοχεύουμε, έρευνα του ανταγωνισμού, έρευνα του καταναλωτή στην καινούρια αγορά (πρέπει να τον καταλάβουμε για να τον προσεγγίσουμε αποτελεσματικά), κανάλια διανομής, τιμολογιακή πολιτική κ.α.

Στην συνέχεια θα πρέπει να χρησιμοποιήσουμε συνδυαστικά εργαλεία του παραδοσιακού marketing (πχ υλικά προβολής στα σημεία πώλησης, διακόσμηση βιτρινών, προωθητικές ενέργειες στα σημεία πώλησης ή πάνω στο προϊόν κτλ), του internet marketing (social media, διαφημίσεις στο internet, search engine optimizations σε συγκεκριμένες αγορές,pay per click) και του PR (δελτία τύπου στα τοπικά μέσα ενημέρωσης, press event για το λανσάρισμα της μάρκας στην κάθε αγορά κτλ).

2. Έρευνα αγοράς

Πριν ξεκινήσουμε να επενδύουμε χρόνο και χρήμα για να πετύχουμε την είσοδό μας σε μία αγορά καλό είναι πρώτα να κάνουμε μία ανάλυση-έρευνα της αγοράς αυτής. Θα πρέπει δηλαδή να γνωρίζουμε τις οικονομικές, πολιτικές και κοινωνικές συνθήκες της αγοράς οι οποίες μπορεί να επηρεάσουν την είσοδό μας σε αυτή την αγορά.

Υπάρχουν αρκετά είδη έρευνας αγοράς που μπορείτε να κάνετε:

  • Αναζητήστε πληροφορίες από δημοσιευμένες πηγές (εφημερίδες, βιβλία, εργασίες, ερευνητικά κέντρα), πρεσβείες χωρών, εταιρίες συμβούλων, και φυσικά από το Internet.
  • Προσωπική παρατήρηση. Αγοράστε τα προϊόντα του ανταγωνισμού, χρησιμοποιείστε τις ανταγωνιστικές υπηρεσίες, πηγαίνετε στα καταστήματα που σας ενδιαφέρουν να διανείμετε τα προϊόντα σας, τηλεφωνήστε στις εταιρίες και ζητήστε πληροφορίες.
  • Ποσοτική έρευνα αγοράς. Δημιουργήστε ένα ερωτηματολόγιο με στόχο να μάθετε από τους καταναλωτές των διεθνών αγορών αυτά που σας ενδιαφέρουν. Μπορείτε να αντλήσετε πληροφορίες για τις καταναλωτικές τους συνήθειες, τις σχετικές με το προϊόν σας όπως επίσης μπορείτε να τους ρωτήσετε για το δικό σας προϊόν αν θα το αγόραζαν, αν όχι γιατί όχι, πόσα χρήματα θα ήταν διατεθειμένοι να δώσουν, πώς το αξιολογούν κ.τλ. Τις έρευνες αυτές μπορείτε να τις κάντε και διαδικτυακά, αρκεί να έχετε κάποια ικανή βάση καταναλωτών στις αγορές που σας ενδιαφέρουν ώστε να πάρετε ικανοποιητικό αριθμό απαντήσεων.

3. Είσοδος στην νέα αγοράexports 4

Αφού έχετε ολοκληρώσει την έρευνα αγοράς και έχετε ήδη δημιουργήσει το Εξαγωγικό Πλάνο Marketing, είστε έτοιμοι να δοκιμάσετε τα προϊόντα σας σε μία καινούρια αγορά. Υπάρχουν διάφοροι τρόποι εισόδου σε μία νέα αγορά. Θα παρουσιάσουμε τους εξής τρείς:

  • Άμεσες εξαγωγές, όπως φανερώνει και ο τίτλος περιλαμβάνουν άμεση εξαγωγή των προϊόντων ή των υπηρεσιών. Αυτό μπορεί να γίνει είτε έχοντας ένα φυσικό σημείο πώλησης στις ξένες αγορές, είτε μέσω e-shop, είτε πουλώντας απευθείας (παρακάμπτοντας τους χονδρέμπορους) στα τελικά σημεία πώλησης. Αυτός ο τρόπος εξαγωγών μπορεί να εφαρμοστεί πιο εύκολα σε αγορές χωρίς πολλές πολιτικές-οικονομικές και κοινωνικές ιδιαιτερότητες.
  • Έμμεσες εξαγωγές, είναι η συνηθέστερη μέθοδος εισόδου σε νέες αγορές. Οι εξαγωγικές επιχειρήσεις κάνουν μία εμπορική συμφωνία με κάποιον διανομέα-χονδρέμπορο για την πώληση των προϊόντων τους στην νέα αγορά. Είναι σημαντικό για να κερδίσετε τον συνεργάτη σας (διανομέα) να του παρουσιάσετε εξ αρχής το Εξαγωγικό Πλάνο Marketing της επιχείρησής σας. Παρουσιάζοντας οργανωμένες προωθητικές ενέργειες του προϊόντος σας, δημιουργείτε στον συνεργάτη σας ένα αίσθημα ασφάλειας και εμπιστοσύνης και κερδίζετε σίγουρα πόντους απέναντι στους ανταγωνιστές σας που επιδιώκουν την ίδια συνεργασία αλλά δεν είναι τόσο οργανωμένοι.
  • Συνέργειες, δηλαδή συνεργασία στην διανομή των προϊόντων με εταιρία η οποία ήδη διανέμει στην συγκεκριμένη αγορά συμπληρωματικά προϊόντα. Η εταιρία-συνεργάτης σας μπορεί να καλύψει τα δικά σας κενά στο θέμα της γνώσης της συγκεκριμένης αγοράς, στο δίκτυο διανομής και στις απαραίτητες επαφές.

Καλές Εξαγωγές και Καλές πωλήσεις!

19 Ways to Attract More Customers Through Cross-Promotion

To stand out from their competition in a crowded advertising marketplace, all kinds and sizes of businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies are joining forces to reach their mutual market of “customers” more efficiently. Their cross-promotions include “bundled” offerings, cause marketing, co-branding, coop marketing, and shared space. Cross-promotion has the potential for a big marketing payoff because partners can successfully expand through one another’s customer base. They can gain an inexpensive and credible introduction to more of their kind of customer more effectively than with the traditional “solo” methods of networking, advertising, or PR.

Here are some low-risk and high-opportunity ways to jump-start your first cross-promotion.

1. Print joint promotional messages on your receipts.

2. Offer a reduced price, special service, or convenience if customers buy products from you and your partner.

3. Hang signs or posters promoting one another on your walls, windows, or products.

4. Mention one another’s benefits when you speak at local events or are interviewed by the media.

5. Drop one another’s flyers in shopping bags.

6. Pool mailing lists and send out a joint promotional postcard.

7. Promote your partner’s products during their slow times, and ask them to do the same for you.

8. Share inexpensive ads in local shopping papers or a nonprofit event program.

9. Give a joint interview to local media.

10. Put one another’s promotional messages on Lucite stands on counters or floor stands in waiting areas.

11. Encourage your staff to mention how your partner’s products can be used with yours.

12. Give your partner’s product to your customers when they buy a large quantity of your product, and ask your partner to do the same.

13. Use door hangers, posters, flyers, or postcards to promote special offers for one another’s products.

14. Co-produce an in-store or office event – a demonstration, celebrity appearance, free service, or lecture.

Some More Ways to Cross-Promote to Stand Far Out from the Competition

1. Co-produce special promotions you could not afford by yourself. Hire local community college broadcasting/cable TV students to produce a “how to use” video and/or audio tape that involves your and your partner’s products and services. Show the video on an eye-level TV monitor in your outlets where people have to wait or in the window for 24-hour viewing. Or play the audio-tape portion as background. ***Example: An enterprising advertising agency, local quick-copy printer, and video production house get priceless visibility for cross-promoting with others to co-produce an educational audio/video/book package that prominently displays their company names: “Thirty Ways Smart People Make Their Homes More Safe.” The package is widely displayed and distributed to their partners’ customers: a hardware store, home security company, police department, real estate firm, home contractor, electrician, and school district.

2. Display combined use of partners’ products in your outlet, and ask partners to do the same. ***Example: A “Valentine Love Food” display appeared in all partners’ outlets a month before Valentine’s Day. Partners — a cooking school, kitchenware shop, florist, card shop, restaurant, and supermarket — all displayed the makings for a romantic dinner menu to be served on Valentine’s Day at their partner’s restaurant.

Their displays were created by a local theatre set designer, who designed the current play, for which the customers of the partners’ outlets received a reduced price ticket when they bought the restaurant meal or certain products from the participating partners.

A local newlywed couple who won the partners’ “Valentine Love Food” drawing and the local couple who proved they’ve been married the longest joined the local newspaper’s food critic at the center table for the featured meal, free to them.

3. Have a contest, with the prizes contributed by your partners. For the next contest, roles change, and you contribute your product or service as a prize for a partner’s contest. ***Example: For two weeks, a dry cleaner places tags on all customers’ hangers, containing fashion tips. The tags are numbered tickets for a contest to win gifts from the partners’ clothing stores. When the dry cleaner’s customers make any purchase from the stores, they show their hanger card to see if it matches one of the “winning numbers” on a card of numbers created by all the partners at the beginning of the contest.

4. Give customers a free product or service from a participating partner when they buy something that month from all of the partners listed in an ad or on a promotional postcard. ***Example: Participating pediatrician practices, child care centers, children’s clothing shops, and toy stores all display a “Love Means Being Prepared” child-designed poster describing the recommended contents for a home medicine cabinet for families with young children.

5. Cross-promote by literally getting closer, sharing space. ***Examples: A store or franchise leases space within another establishment (or agrees on side-by-side sites, or actually sells both kinds of products on site) — Noah’s Bagels sells Starbucks Coffee. A restaurant or fast-food operation leases space within a hospital or motel — Pizza Hut in Days Inn. Kinko’s leases space within certain hotels. Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits in a Kroger supermarket increases traffic for both guest and host companies. The post office locates a substation in a supermarket.

An accessories store leases space within or next to a clothing store and is joined by internal doors. A stadium leases space to a concession operator.

The less traditional cross-promotions are just starting. A campus leases space to a travel agency. Some franchises are co-branding with complementary services such as Copy, Pack & Ship.

6 innovative social media campaigns from the travel industry

In 2013, 47% of travellers shared their travel plans and asked for recommendations from contacts via social media. This means that a large chunk of travellers rely on social media to help them decide on their next trip. To reach these potential clients, travel businesses need creative and powerful social media marketing strategies. Let’s look at six most innovative social media campaigns to come from the travel industry in the last four years.

1. Send us your Facebook Profiles competition (Cape Town Tourism)

In September 2012, Cape Town Tourism launched the Send us your Facebook Profiles competition. The Facebook campaign urged travellers to send their profiles for a virtual tour of Cape Town’s least explored areas. After sending their Facebook profiles, entrants could create their own five-day Cape Town holiday, and watch their profiles explore the hidden gems of the Mother City.

After over 150 Point of View (POV) videos, 400 first person Facebook status updates and 10 000 POV holiday photos, the campaign registered 5800 page impressions and 41 000 monthly page visits. Through the campaign, tourist numbers in Cape Town rose by 4% and Table Mountain received its highest volumes in 83 years. The competition also helped Cape Town Tourism win the Best Overall Use of Social Media Award (Convention and Visitors Bureau) at the 2013 Travel + Leisure Social Media Awards.

2. ‘Twitter Hotel’ (@Sol Wave House)

Based in Mallorca, Spain, Sol Wave House prides itself on being the first ‘Twitter hotel’ in the world. With blue and white decor (based on Twitter’s colour scheme), the hotel has tied it’s marketing strategy to the social network.


When guests check-in at the hotel, they are granted access to the hotel Twitter- available only through the hotel’s WiFi service. Guests can then tweet each other, share photos, send private messages, see who’s online and flirt by sending virtual kisses using #SocialWave .

To encourage guests to tweet about the hotel, food and drinks are ordered at the pool bar by tweeting the @SolWaveHouse. The hotel hosts #TwitterPoolParty, where Twitter guests receive a free drink each Friday.

3. #MeetSouthAfrica (South African Tourism )

In April 2013, South African Tourism invited 15 international travel bloggers from the iambassadors network to participate in the #MeetSouthAfrica campaign. The bloggers embarked on four different itineraries (our adventure/backpacker trip being only one of them) covering all nine provinces of South Africa. The campaign’s aim was to market the country as tourist destination on social media platforms.


By September 2013, the campaign had produced – 9,000+ tweets

  • 77.8 million tweet impressions or ‘opportunities to see’
  • 3.3 million twitter accounts reached
  • 1,059 photos on Instagram
  • 31,500 views within 12 hours of a single photo on Facebook posted by Uncornered Market
  • 60,000+ views of Viajando con Diego’s bungy-jump video on YouTube

South African Tourism launched the official #MeetSouthAfrica campaign on Instagram in October 2013. By mid-December, 2572 photos had been shared under #MeetSouthAfrica on social network.

4.The Hilton Brothers: Tattoos Hornets Fire (VisitSweeden)

VisitSweeden created a powerful Pinterest campaign based on photographs by American photogrpahers Christopher Makos and Paul Solberg. Known as Hilton Brothers, the pair traced the footsteps of Stieg Larsson’s crime-beating heroes in his novels: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest” to create an eye catching travelogue.


VisitSweden used the travelogue to create a Pinterest Board titled The Hilton Brothers: Tattoos Hornets Fire. The campaign inspired close to 1,000 Stockholm itineraries and won the Best Pinterest Photos Award at the 2013 Travel+Leisure Social Media Awards.

5. Hamilton Island Resort

social instameet

To create conversations around their destination, Hamilton Island Resort, Australia created theUltimate Instameet. The campaign aimed to create creating a mass meeting between Instagram users from across the globe on the island. Staged between November 23-25 2012, the campaign generated over 640 images and reached over eight million people through social media, including 815,000 of their direct Instagram followers alone. The campaign also gained mainstream media attention generating AUS$2.3 million and 65 million media impressions in the process.

6. Hampton Hotels

To educate guests about their hotels and brand identity, Hampton Hotels created a YouTube video series known as “Hamptionality Moments.” The campaign featured the recreation and sharing of the real life guest stories on the hotel’s YouTube channel. Launched in late 2012, the video series generated 5 million YouTube views, a 133% increase in Facebook fans, Twitter engagement growth over 110%, over 500 million social impressions.

How to Determine If There’s a Market for Your Business Idea

In their book, Start Your Own Business, the staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. guides you through the critical steps to starting a business, then supports you in surviving the first three years as a business owner. In this edited excerpt, the authors describe the importance of market research in order to obtain information on the three key areas you’ll need to investigate before launching your new business.

So you have a great idea for a product—something that’s bound to capture the hearts and minds (and wallets) of consumers everywhere. Or perhaps you’ve stumbled on a service that isn’t being offered by anyone else—one that’s desperately needed. This is your opportunity! Don’t hesitate … don’t look back … jump right into it and …

Wait! Before you shift into high gear, you must determine whether there really is a market for your product or service. Not only that, you need to ascertain what, if any, fine-tuning is needed. Quite simply, you must conduct market research.

Many business owners neglect this crucial step in product development for the sole reason that they don’t want to hear any negative feedback. They’re convinced their product or service is perfect just the way it is, and they don’t want to risk tampering with it.

Other entrepreneurs bypass market research because they fear it will be too expensive. With all the other startup costs you’re facing, it’s not easy to justify spending money on research that will only prove what you knew all along: Your product is a winner.

Regardless of the reason, failing to do market research can amount to a death sentence for your product. “A lot of companies skim over the important background information because they’re so interested in getting their product to market,” says Donna Barson, president and owner of Barson Marketing Inc., a marketing, advertising and public relations consulting firm. “But the companies that do the best are the ones that do their homework.”

Consider market research an investment in your future. If you make the necessary adjustments to your product or service now, you’ll save money in the long run.

So what exactly is market research? Simply put, it’s a way of collecting information you can use to solve or avoid marketing problems. Good market research gives you the data you need to develop a marketing plan that really works for you. It enables you to identify the specific segments within a market that you want to target and to create an identity for your product or service that separates it from your competitors. Market research can also help you choose the best geographic location in which to launch your new business.

Before you start your market research, it’s a good idea to meet with a consultant, talk to a business or marketing professor at a local college or university, or contact your local SBA district office. These sources can offer guidance and help you with the first step in market research: deciding exactly what information you need to gather.

As a rule of thumb, market research should provide you with information about three critical areas:

1. Industry information.

In researching the industry, look for the latest trends. Compare the statistics and growth in the industry. What areas of the industry appear to be expanding, and what areas are declining? Is the industry catering to new types of customers? What technological developments are affecting the industry? How can you use them to your advantage? A thriving, stable industry is key; you don’t want to start a new business in a field that’s on the decline.

2. Consumer close-up.

On the consumer side, your market research should begin with a market survey. A thorough market survey will help you make a reasonable sales forecast for your new business. To do a market survey, you first need to determine the market limits or physical boundaries of the area to which your business sells. Next, study the spending characteristics of the population within this location.

Estimate the location’s purchasing power, based on its per-capita income, its median income level, the unemployment rate, population and other demographic factors. Determine the current sales volume in the area for the type of product or service you will sell.

Finally, estimate how much of the total sales volume you can reasonably obtain. (This last step is extremely important. Opening your new business in a given community won’t necessarily generate additional business volume; it may simply redistribute the business that’s already there.)

3. Competition close-up.

Based on a combination of industry research and consumer research, a clearer picture of your competition will emerge. Don’t underestimate the number of competitors out there. Keep an eye out for potential future competitors as well as current ones.

Examine the number of competitors on a local and, if relevant, national scale. Study their strategies and operations. Your analysis should supply a clear picture of potential threats, opportunities, and the weaknesses and strengths of the competition facing your new business.

When looking at the competition, try to see what trends have been established in the industry and whether there’s an opportunity or advantage for your business. Use the library, the Internet and other secondary research sources to research competitors. Read as many articles as you can on the companies you’ll be competing with. If you’re researching publicly owned companies, contact them and obtain copies of their annual reports. These often show not only how successful a company is but also what products or services it plans to emphasize in the future.

One of the best websites for researching the competition is Hoover’s Online, which, for a fee, provides in-depth profiles of more than 85 million  companies. However, there’s also free content available, plus you can sign up for a free trial subscription. You can also gather information on competing businesses by visiting them in person.

Θέλω να εξάγω. Πώς να παρουσιάσω τα προϊόντα μου στον υποψήφιο συνεργάτη στο εξωτερικό;

Τα βήματα τα οποία ακολουθεί κάποιος για να παρουσιάσει τα προϊόντα του στους υποψήφιους αγοραστές (διανομείς-χονδρεμπόρους-λιανεμπόρους) στο εξωτερικό είναι συνήθως τα παρακάτω, με στόχος να επιτευχθεί η προσωπική συνάντηση που έχει και τις περισσότερες πιθανότητες επιτυχίας.

  1. Αποστολή ενός πρώτου email, στο οποίο σύντομα μπορεί να περιγραφεί ο λόγος της επικοινωνίας σας καθώς και βασικές πληροφορίες για την εταιρία και το προϊόν σας. Συνημμένη θα πρέπει να βρει ο παραλήπτης του email μία σύντομη εταιρική παρουσίαση (4-5 σελίδες), όπου θα παρουσιάζετε τα βασικά χαρακτηριστικά του προϊόντος σας. Σε εμφανές σημείο θα φαίνεται το site σας, όπου μπορεί να απευθυνθεί κάποιος για περισσότερες λεπτομέρειες και πληροφορίες.
    Είναι σημαντικό το site σας να παρουσιάζει με τον καλύτερο τρόπο τα ανταγωνιστικά σας πλεονεκτήματα.
  2. Τηλεφωνική επικοινωνία, επικοινωνία μέσω skype. Ο υποψήφιος πωλητής θα πρέπει να είναι καλά προετοιμασμένος ώστε να απαντήσει γρήγορα και με σαφήνεια σε οποιεσδήποτε απορίες μπορεί να έχουν δημιουργηθεί από την αποστολή της εταιρικής παρουσίασης. Μία αναλυτικότερη και επεξηγηματικότερη παρουσίαση των προϊόντων θα πρέπει να έχει προετοιμαστεί. Το πιο πιθανό είναι ο εισαγωγέας με τον οποίο συζητάτε να θέλει να αντιληφθεί τα χαρακτηριστικά του προϊόντος σας ώστε να δει αν θα ταίριαζε στο δικό του portfolio. Τονίστε τι το διαφορετικό έχετε να προσφέρετε και γιατί θεωρείτε ότι το προϊόν σας θα έχει επιτυχία στην συγκεκριμένη αγορά, στο συγκεκριμένο κανάλι διανομής κ.τλ. Χρησιμοποιήστε στοιχεία από διεθνείς έρευνες αγορών, ώστε να φανείτε «διαβασμένοι» και ιδανικά παρουσιάστε στοιχεία από δική σας έρευνα, που έγινε για την απήχηση του δικού σας προϊόντος, στην συγκεκριμένη αγορά.export 2
  3. Προσωπική συνάντηση. Κατά τη διάρκεια της συνάντησης έχετε την ευκαιρία να δημιουργήσετε μία σχέση εμπιστοσύνης και καλής συνεργασίας. Είναι σημαντικό να πάτε στη συνάντηση με ένα πλάνο μάρκετινγκ το οποίο θα έχει δημιουργηθεί για την συγκεκριμένη αγορά και για τον συγκεκριμένο συνεργάτη. Η παρουσίαση ενός ολοκληρωμένου πλάνου μάρκετινγκ έχει σαν στόχο να πείσει τον υποψήφιο συνεργάτη σας ότι το να επιλέξει το δικό σας προϊόν σημαίνει ότι θα έχει και βοήθεια στην προώθησή του στην αγορά και συνεπώς θα «ξεστοκάρει» πιο γρήγορα.
    Ακολουθήστε την τακτική που ακολουθούν μεγάλες εταιρίες παρουσιάζοντας ένα πλάνο μάρκετινγκ και Internet μάρκετινγκ που θα έχει σαν στόχο να κάνει γνωστό το προϊόν στον καταναλωτή (brand awareness) και ταυτόχρονα να τον κατευθύνει στα συγκεκριμένα σημεία πώλησης του συνεργάτη σας. Για παράδειγμα μπορείτε να του παρουσιάσετε για τον μήνα Μάιο μία καμπάνια στη σελίδα σας στο facebook, η οποία θα στοχεύει μόνο τους καταναλωτές συγκεκριμένης πόλης στη χώρα που συζητάτε (το facebook έχει απίστευτες δυνατότητες στοχευμένης διαφήμισης με εξαιρετικά χαμηλό κόστος) με στόχο το brand awareness και ταυτόχρονα θα κάνετε Google Αdwords διαφημίζοντας το προϊόν σας ή κάποια προσφορά και αναφέροντας το κατάστημα ή το site ή το e-shop του συνεργάτη σας για πληροφορίες.

Οι παραπάνω ενέργειες, οι οποίες θα γίνουν από εσάς στην χώρα που στοχεύετε (ακόμα και με πολύ μικρό κόστος) θα δείξουν στον υποψήφιο συνεργάτη σας την πρόθεσή σας για σοβαρή επένδυση στην αγορά του και σίγουρα θα σας κάνουν να ξεχωρίσετε από τον ανταγωνισμό.

13 Online Marketing Blogs You Should be Reading (Infographic)

The online marketing industry is always changing. Search engines roll out new updates and data refreshes, pay-per-click advertising platforms introduce new features and social networks update their terms and policies on a regular basis.

Online marketing blogs are a great way to keep up with industry news, updates and changes. They also feature helpful guides and “how-to” posts — but with so many blogs out there, how do you know which ones are worth your time?

In no particular order, the infographic below lists 13 online marketing blogs that provide excellent content that every entrepreneur can benefit from.


29 Of The Most Creative Business Cards Ever

A good business card definitely won’t ensure your success, but it sure can help! It can make all the difference in the first impression that you have on someone, or whether or not you leave an impression at all, so here are 30 cleverly-designed business cards that will get you thinking about how you might want to present yourself!

Many of us are probably guilty of accepting business cards out of politeness and then just throwing them away or forgetting about them (I know I am). These cards, however, stay with you – psychologically or physically. Some have been cleverly designed to double as useful tools, product samples or funny little toys, while others manage to make a point about the person on the card that will stick more than just a name and an address.

With the emphasis placed on networking these days, it’s more important than ever to stand out of the crowd – and here are a few good ideas for how to do it!

1 | Cosmetic Surgeon Business Card


Advertising Agency: Demner, Merlicek & Bergmann, Vienna, Austria

2 | Yoga Trainer Business Cards


Advertising Agency: Marked for Trade

3 | Cheese Grater Business Card



Advertising Agency: JWT, Brazil

4 | Tearable Divorce Lawyer Business Card

creative-business-cards-5 creative-business-cards-6

Notice that the card has contact information on both sides.

5 | Yoga Mat Business Card


A simple, yet very creative business card for Vancouver yoga center. The card rolls just like a yoga mat.

6 | Fitness Trainer’s Tearable Business Card


Zohra Mouhetta helps you strip away your belly! (Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

7 | Designer’s Seed Packet Business Card



Designed by Jamie Wieck

8 | Circumciser’s Business Card


Advertising Agency: Agency: Healthy People by Grey, Istanbul, Turkey

9 | Event Photographer’s Viewfinder Business Card


10 | Dentist’s Cavity Business Card


Designed by Michael Häne & Remo Caminada

11 |  Stretchy Personal Trainer’s Business Card


If you want to see the text on this business card, you have to do a little stretching exercise.

12 | Hair Dresser Business Cards




Designed by Igor Perkusic

13 | Cigarette Filter Business Card




Advertising Agency: Bos, Toronto, Canada

14 | Buy/Sell Investment Representative Business Cards



Advertising Agency: Rethink, Canada

15 | Yoga Center Straw


Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Shanghai, China

16 | Sommelière Wineglass Business Card



Designed by Caserne

17 | Your Own Personal Lego Agent



18 | Picture Frame Business Card


Advertising Agency: Piko, Moldova

19 | Stylish Transparency Business Card



Designed by Dario Monetini

20 | Makeup Business Card



Advertising Agency: OpusMúltipla, Curitiba, Brazil

21 | Toy Chair Business Card



Advertising Agency: DDB, Brazil

22 | Miniature Plumber’s Plunger With Contact Information


Designed by Indelible Design

23 | Seed Packet Business Card


Advertising Agency: Struck, USA

24 | Bike Multi-Tool Business Card



Designer: Rethink Canada

25 | Classic Rock Theme Business Card


26 | Transformable Cargo Box Business Card


Advertising Agency: Y&R, São Paulo, Brazil

27 | Restaurant Salt Shaker Business Card


Designed by flux

28 | Tennis Business Card


Advertising Agency: Publicis, Brazil

29 |  Grillable Business Card




Become a Content Marketing Productivity Master: 21 Tips from the #CMWorld Community

  • 2. We can’t stop time. But we can learn to use it more effectively. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Tired of never getting through your to–do list? If so… you’re in the same boat as practically every content marketer we talk to. Fundamentally, the secret to feeling more productive is to have a plan for what you need to accomplish and stick to it. It’s easier said than done, for sure; but by implementing efficiency techniques, streamlining certain processes, and taking advantage of a few time-tested tricks, content marketers can increase their output while reducing the frustration, stress, and misdirected efforts that can often take them off track. Take a look at 21 of the most helpful tips the #CMWorld community had to offer during our recent Twitter chat on productivity. 2


  • 3. 33 It’s counterproductive to waste time on content that isn’t going to help your business achieve its goals. To maximize productivity, start with a strategic analysis of how relevant and valuable the effort is likely to be for both your brand and your audience. Mike Myers says he uses a simple flow chart to determine where content marketing will be helpful (and where it won’t) because, like with dessert, it can be hard to know when to say no.  I start by asking: “How relevant is the project to my market — i.e., clients and prospects?” —Roger C. Parker  Make strategic decisions. Know when something requested won’t add enough value. Prioritize, and suggest alternatives when possible. —Danalynne Wheeler LEAD WITH YOUR STRENGTHS — AND YOUR STRATEGY1
  • 4. 4 FOLLOW YOUR STRATEGY WITH A PROACTIVE PLAN2 Every strategic idea needs a plan to bring it to life. With advanced preparation, you can take some of the guesswork out of the content creation process, making it easier to stay focused and productive.  Successful content marketers choose topics in advance. They identify themes they can create content on in the upcoming months. Planning is key. —Roger C. Parker  Plan what to say & how. Create a title optimized to catch readers & search engines. —Joanie Eppinga
  • 5. 55 Content creation is as much an art as a science. Though you should definitely have a plan, it’s also helpful to be flexible and leave room in your process to take advantage of inspiration when it strikes.  Make notes all the time. They’re the seeds of content to come. You can’t harvest tomorrow unless you plant today. —George Stenitzer  Balance sticking with strategy (and saying no to what doesn’t fit) with the potential to explore new possibilities. Always keep the “learning mindset.” —Anne Janzer LEAVE ROOM FOR THE SPARK OF CREATIVITY3


  • 6. 6 FOCUS ON AUDIENCE NEEDS4 Content is created to spur an audience to action, so your productivity ultimately depends on how well your efforts are is suited to meeting that goal. Keep this in mind and you will never waste valuable time on efforts that miss the mark.  First, you have to understand your market and their needs. This provides focus. —Roger C. Parker  It’s all about knowing your audience. Knowing whom to talk to directs your decisions about what you do and don’t need to say. —Adam P. Newton  Outsider, a New York agency, suggests that content creators ask questions like, “Does this provide value to my audience?” “Would they share it?” Viewing your content from the audience’s perspective will help you figure out which projects may not work — even if they seemed like a good idea to you at first.
  • 7. 77 It’s hard to be productive if our minds are being pulled in a million different directions. Even small side projects can wind up derailing productivity in a major way, so it’s helpful to determine right from the outset what’s worth your immediate attention, what can be put on the back burner for a while, and what can be indefinitely postponed.  Roger C. Parker recommends starting out by asking, “How urgently do my customers or prospects need the information?” Then ask, “Is the project practical for me at the present time?” After that, if a client asks me to do a different task, I ask: “Which of our current tasks do you want me to put aside?”  Ronda Bowen says that looking at past performance of content helps, too. If you know a certain topic tanks in terms of page views, there’s no reason to continue to create content on that topic. SET PRIORITIES, AND DON’T GET SIDETRACKED5
  • 8. 8 BUDGET YOUR TIME… AND USE IT EFFECTIVELY6 Effective time management means devoting adequate attention to your content without allowing your efforts to take over your entire working life.  Successful content marketers run marathons, not races. Time management is essential. Manage your time as carefully as you would manage your money. —Roger C. Parker  Set aside blocks of time to draft your content without being interrupted by meetings or chats. —Sarah A. Parker  While planning is important, Mael Roth advises that sometimes you need to set yourself on “get it done” mode: “At some point it’s ‘learn by doing.’”333
  • 9. 99 Just as deadlines can create a sense of urgency for specific content projects, keeping a calendar of those projects can help you mentally plan and prioritize your day-to-day efforts — and hold yourself accountable for their completion.  Scheduling is key for productivity. —Cara Shannon  Lisa Masiello recommends being methodical and keeping a calendar, as she feels it’s easy to become distracted without a schedule.  Social media analytics vendor Union Metrics suggests drawing up a quarterly content calendar and working backwards from the deadlines you set in order to ensure time for drafts/your approval process. KEEP A CONTENT CALENDAR7
  • 10. 10 KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO8 No one likes to have to turn down a content request from a client or supervisor, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil in order to make good progress on current priorities, continually deliver on your content’s promises, and maintain your sanity.  Strategy is key. If a project doesn’t align, it’s not worth your time. —Angela Hursh  I cringe when clients try to pump out as much content as possible and skimp on quality. A content effort should be more than a checklist item. —Brandon Seymour  Many times marketing should say no to change. Don’t let your boredom of a tagline/ topic divert the oil tanker. —Nick Kellet  If there isn’t a compelling story [in a particular content idea], I find the exit. —Kip Meacham
  • 11. 1111 One of the easiest ways to become more productive is to get rid of repetitive or unnecessarily time-consuming tasks that are bogging down your efforts and replace them with more efficient techniques. Even if it takes some extra time to implement and adjust to the change, streamlining your processes often pays dividends in terms of productivity over the long-term.  I implemented a written request form for content projects. [This] creates accountability & saves me from 20 [rounds of] revisions. —Danielle Poupore  I use Mindjet’s MindManager to organize ideas, keep track of projects, and easily track influencers and ideas. And every content marketer needs a graphics program to create images for blog posts and social media. —Roger C. Parker  We use a lot of distraction-free writing tools to encourage the process, as well as an editorial calendar to plan it all out. —ClearVoice  Erika Heald asserts that collaboration tools like RedboothHQ, Kapost, Evernote, and Google Drive are key to her daily productivity. CREATE EFFICIENCIES WITH NEW TOOLS AND STREAMLINED PRODUCTION PROCESSES 9
  • 12. 12 FREE YOUR MIND10 Productivity isn’t always about going “heads down” into a project. Instead, experiment to discover what ideas and processes work best for you.  Stay curious and open to new innovations and marketing concepts. Set aside time to ‘study’ those who are doing it right. —Crowd Content  A large part of marketing productivity comes from understanding the machine of the internet and the psychology of people —Nick Kellet  We write down all of our ideas before dismissing any. —Kitterman Marketing
  • 13. 1313 Good writing is just as much “nurture” as it is “nature.” Set good habits right from the start of your content creation efforts and you’re practically guaranteed to become more productive as you progress.  Cultivate the habit of short, frequent working sessions rather than long, tiring sessions. —Roger C. Parker  Our best productivity tips are early mornings, strong coffee, and a separate window for social media, to avoid distraction. —Outsider (a NYC agency)  Try working at times when there will be fewer distractions. For example, @SparkerWorks has considered getting started earlier in the day: “Nobody bothers you in the early morning!” —Sarah A. Parker CULTIVATE EFFICIENT WORKING AND WRITING HABITS11CMS (444
  • 14. 14 HOLD YOURSELF TO DEADLINES12 Deadlines help you set clear parameters for your content efforts, and can create a sense of urgency that keeps you focused and on-task during the content creation process.  Deadlines definitely help with productivity! Sometimes it’s hard to get started if there is no goal in sight. —Wyzowl  Consider creating mini-deadlines for the various tasks required for each project. This can help you create a sense of urgency and pace your progress. —Roger C. Parker
  • 15. 1515 Content creation takes dedication. If you want to earn the loyalty of your audience, you must hold yourself accountable for delivering on what you promise — even when the process gets challenging or you run into a stumbling block.  To be a productive writer, make yourself write. Good ideas often come after you’ve gotten started. —Anne Janzer  Every successful content marketer I know reads and writes daily. —Patrick Hayslett PRACTICE SELF-DISCIPLINE13
  • 16. 16 AVOID BEATING YOURSELF UP OR GETTING FRUSTRATED14 It’s not easy for writers to create something that’s “just right,” so it’s natural to stumble with phrasing or get stuck on an idea once in a while. When the words just aren’t flowing, don’t be afraid to take your time and clear your mind — and know that you can always make changes down the line.  Give yourself permission for that bad first draft. Don’t edit as you write — it will only slow you down. —Ronda Bowen  If something’s really not working, give yourself permission to step away. Come back to it tomorrow. Work on something else. —Sarah A. Parker
  • 17. 1717 A trick some writers use to structure a content effort is to write the ending first, then craft the rest of the story so that it leads to the intended conclusion. Starting each project with your desired results in mind can reduce the need for time consuming revisions and rewrites throughout the process.  Develop your positioning first so that the content will communicate the desired marketing messages. —Samuel J. Scott  I’ve begun asking project requesters to tell me how they plan to use content. No sense making something to sit in a drawer. —Danielle Poupore START WITH YOUR DESIRED RESULTS AND PURPOSE AND WORK BACKWARDS15
  • 18. 18 MAKE CONTENT CREATION PART OF YOUR ROUTINE16 Just like good habits make good writers, regular routines can help those writers mentally prepare for creating quality content—and for staying the course, even when other priorities start to compete for their time and attention.  Show up. Turning up at your computer consistently is the best way to be successful. —Ronda Bowen  Brainstorm, outline, write, write, write, proof, have someone else proof, edit, & promote! If you get stuck, take a break, and then go back. —Aya Fawzy  I look for easy parts of the post to write — such as lists or easy topics — to build momentum. —Roger C. Parker555
  • 19. 1919 If you find yourself working on a complex topic with a lot of ground to cover, or are struggling to find the right flow for your discussion, try creating a simple outline first. Organizing your thoughts in this way can help you see which points are essential and which ones can be left out, as well as how to structure the conversation in the most logical way.  Map the journey. Know where you’re starting, ending and [where] you’ll stop at along the way. —Jeremy Bednarski  First, I take notes by hand & organize a rough structure. Last thing is proofreading. Then proofreading again. —Danielle Poupore  Start your writing with an outline. Then write everything down as quickly as you can. Lastly, edit, edit, edit. —Heidi Cohen  After outlining what you are going to write and why, just get words on paper/screen. Don’t edit, just do a “brain dump.” —Traci Browne NOT SURE WHAT TO WRITE? TRY CREATING AN OUTLINE17
  • 20. 20 USE THEMES TO BUILD A SERIES OF RELATED CONTENT18 Another way to handle complex topics is to break them up into small, manageable bites. Start by coming up with a list of relevant themes, and then create a series of related content pieces that you can that you can distribute on a regular basis.  Series are about brevity. Series turn complex ideas into snacks. Series also multiply the SEO value of one big idea. —Nick Kellet  A series can be a great way to get started. It gives you a theme and a goal to build off of. Feels less daunting every week. —Kitterman Marketing  A blog series can help with productivity in that (hopefully) you can map it all out ahead of time. —Jeremy Bednarski  In terms of productivity, having an established series is really helpful to me. It’s great for when I’m stumped on topics. —Christina Grieves666
  • 21. 2121 Content doesn’t always have to be original to be powerful. At times, it’s more productive to use the content you’ve painstakingly created and focus your time on ways to repackage it in a new way, or for a new platform.  @crestodina writes, “You need to view content as atoms you can recycle & rearrange in different ways.” —Roger C. Parker  It’s just so easy to do. So many resources and potential for data and info overload. Curate, collate, focus. —Jacob Henenberg  Break up mega-topics into edible chunks. Use customer questions to guide series topics. —George Stenitzer REPURPOSE THE WHEEL, DON’T REINVENT IT19
  • 22. 22 KNOW WHAT TO SPIN OFF OR RECYCLE, RATHER THAN REJECT20 If an idea starts to lead you in a different direction, don’t switch gears right away. Instead, tuck it away it somewhere safe, and then come back to it after you’ve finished the content effort you are currently working on. If the new concept still seems valid when you revisit it, you now have a ready-made topic on hand for your next content effort.  I’m a narrow-minded content creator. If anything remotely veers from my main idea, it goes in queue to become its own piece. —Patrick Hayslett
  • 23. 2323 When all else fails… you are probably working too hard. Sometimes it’s best to just step away and take some time to clear your mind before returning to your content creation. You may even come up with a new idea or two when you give yourself a break, rather than trying to force creativity when you just aren’t “feeling it.”  When I’m finished, I put the post aside overnight. I need to proof it from a fresh perspective. —Roger C. Parker  Even a 5-minute break can help. Ever do find-a-word puzzles? Great for improving visual acuity. —Joanie Eppinga  Step away & do something physical that you’ll see immediate results from: Clean a coffee cup, wipe down a counter, stretch. —Sarah A. Parker TAKE BREAKS TO AVOID MENTAL FATIGUE21
  • 24. 24 THANKS FOR READING! Want more ways to increase your productivity without losing sight of your priorities? Download our collection of useful templates and checklists to make the content marketing process easier. And don’t forget to join our #CMWorld Twitter chats every Tuesday at 12 Eastern to learn from our fabulous content marketing community and share your own tips for success. Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is the leading global content marketing education and training organization. CMI teaches enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multi-channel storytelling. CMI’s Content Marketing World event, the largest content marketing-focused event, is held every September, and Content Marketing World Sydney, every March. CMI also produces the quarterly magazine Chief Content Officer, and provides strategic consulting and content marketing research for some of the best-known brands in the world. CMI is a 2012, 2013, and 2014 Inc. 500 company. Learn how to create a documented content marketing strategy, a key component for improving overall content marketing effectiveness.