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Archive for August, 2012

9 Marketing tips for Small Business That Won’t Break The Bank!

Are you looking for marketing tips that will make an impact without breaking the bank? Isn’t everyone! Well in this post you will get 9 proven tips that you can execute crisply and reap rewards for little investment other than your commitment to revenue growth.Image

1. Emphasize what makes you different from the competition

Define your unique selling points (USPs). Don’t advertise what you think your customer is searching for, expose the solution. More importantly expose it in a way that makes your product, service or solution the only answer.

2. Walk in your customers’ shoes

All successful small business marketing starts and ends with the customer. Who is the customer and what is it about that person that will draw them to your product or service? What problems does that client have? What would they do to find a solution? What options have they considered? Where will your ideal client look for answers? What do they do with their spare time? Focus all your efforts on emphasising the benefits of your product, other than highlighting obvious points, such as product features. Wherever possible, mention the words ‘you’ and ‘your’, as this will help make your customers feel more individual. 

3. Get to The Point – Think Impact

Your message needs to be said in one sentence. If your USP- unique selling points sounds like everyone else’s, then it is not exciting, it’s not engaging, it’s not a USP! You want it to be niche focused and you want it to motivate the target audience to positively remember you and your brand.

Test it out on friends and family – do they understand what you are trying to say? You should be able to get any benefits across about your product in 30 seconds or less, so think carefully about your choice of words and how to deliver them with the most impact.

4.  Ask your customers for testimonials

Testimonials are gold dust. Whenever anyone says anything positive about your product or service, ask if they would mind providing an endorsement for you. The more testimonials you put together, the more confident your prospective customers will be of the service you are delivering and the value your product can add to them.  

5. Word of mouth works wonders

Having people approach you about your business because an existing customer has referred them to you is business nirvana. That person needs the result your product or service can provide, they know you can satisfy that need and more importantly they know you can deliver it well. Effectively, referrals bypass the majority of your sales funnel and are there ready to become business partners.

6. Attract customers with incentives

Too many small businesses miss out on sales because the customer has no reason to act immediately. Offer customers an incentive to sign up straight away, for example via a discount or free product. Scarcity works, so include a time-close or deadline and state it clearly. If the client thinks they are going to miss out this may be the inclination they need to put some skin in the game.

7. Act on feedback

No one knows more about your customer experience than your customers themselves. So ask them! Take on board as much feedback as possible about your product, your services and the experience of working with you. Take every opportunity to ask customers what they think about your product and what you could do to make it better.

8. Embrace Social Media

Your customers are online and specifically spending time on social networking sites talking about what they like and dislike. You need to be in that conversation. Social media outlets help you connect to current and potential customers where you can build a community of people who are enthusiastic or passionate about how your business does what it does. There are millions of potential customers out there using social media, and it’s time you connect and engage them.

9. Always follow-up

Whenever a conversation takes place or you get a new lead, have a process in place to follow-up. If the prospect has shown an interest in your business but is not ready right now then they will ready at some point down the line. It’s criminal to miss out on the sale because you didn’t follow-up at the opportune time. Follow-up religiously!

Follow ups can be done through a strategic email marketing campaign that educates the prospect in your business, builds your authority in your industry, and more importantly keeps you at the forefront of their mind for when that time comes.

 

THE INCONVENIENT BLESSING- THE WHOOPS! BABY

Let’s face it, sometimes pregnancies are planned with every intention, and sometimes, not so much. Many times, a woman just worries that the timing is just all wrong!  Maybe you just moved. Maybe your career is just taking off. Maybe you are having marital or other relationship problems. And in this economy, you may have the added stress of a recent job loss or long hours that make the prospect of having another mouth to feed or being out on maternity leave a very frightening and stressful concept.

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Other moms, who already had children, just considered themselves “done” and put the thought of crying babies, late night feedings, and diaper Genies completely out of their minds. Either way, you didn’t see this one coming! Perhaps your biggest anxiety is your spouse’s response. He may not be so excited about your pregnancy right now.

A man’s anxiety about fatherhood often stems from financial concerns and worries over how he will provide. He may even blame you and/or resent you. Do not let him play the blame game. It still takes two to make a baby so there is a shared responsibility. Take responsibility for your actions and ask him to do the same, remembering that finger pointing and wallowing in guilt are not going to change anything.

Here are some tips on how to cope:

1. Think positive. Negative feelings can be so overwhelming we forget that we have options. You can choose to respond and act differently. The next time you’re feeling negative thoughts, stop yourself and ask, “Can I respond differently this time? How can I adjust my thinking?”

 2. Hype yourself up! Immerse yourself in the wonderful world of maternity and motherhood. Get the magazines, books, go online and soak up all the positive information about pregnancy you can find.

 3. Be honest. Don’t add more stress to the situation by keeping up a pretense of happiness. You are not the first person to have ambivalent or negative feelings about pregnancy. Try this, “It’s an adjustment, but I’m getting there.”

 4. Do Something. When you start to feel sad, go for a stroll in a local baby store, to oooh and aaahh over all the cute baby outfits you’ll be buying soon. If it works with your budget, buy a small item like booties or a bib.

 5. Count your blessings. Reality check girlfriend! Think of the millions of women out there who are desperately trying to conceive. They spend thousands of dollars on fertility treatments or fly across the world in search of a baby to call their own. Consider yourself blessed to have conceived….even if it’s another round.

 6. Get help if you need it. If your feelings toward your pregnancy prevent you from taking care of yourself–eating properly, seeing your doctor or linger into your second trimester, then you should consider talking to a professional as soon as possible.

EMOTIONAL ABUSE ……. HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

ImageRealize that you cannot change your partner, only your reaction to him or her. You can attempt to show your partner how damaging these behaviors are and how they are affecting you, and hope your partner will agree that you are being badly damaged. You can hope your partner will then make the decision to change. However, ultimately, you cannot force change. Realize that the abusiveness in your partner is rooted in multiple layers of their emotions and perspectives. Trying to change them through arguing or persuasion translates to them as the complete denial and devaluation of their experiences and realities. They will feel an immediate instinct to protect the intricacies of their own thought patterns and push your logic away in the process. Remember that you cannot argue logically with an unreasonable person.

 

Your energy is most effective when you change yourself. However, take care not to change yourself in order to primarily avoid conflict with your partner. Changing yourself is to be done with an objective mindset, not a defensive or offensive one. Choose a goal for yourself that comes from a well known truth or long-standing reality that is time proven. Do not choose a goal just to soothe a circumstantial issue generated by your partner.

 

Set new, reasonable terms for the relationship with clear and consistently implemented consequences. Decide (ideally together, but if that isn’t possible, decide for yourself) that you’re going to learn a new way of being in this relationship. Abuse most often exists because the emotional weaknesses of the abuser demand the exercise of control or torment of others (you) to give them a feeling of emotional security and fulfillment

 

Abuse really starts because of insecurity or trust issues with the abuser. It is most often enabled by (1) the victim’s inability or failure to recognize the abusive behavior or (2) powerlessness of the victim, as in the case of a child enduring the emotional abuse of a parent. In adult relationships, ultimately, neither partner understands a healthy way to diffuse abuse and to respect each other or themselves. Establish that, effective immediately, all interactions will be honorable, and will specifically and especially exclude: name calling, character attacks/judgments, raised voices, spitting, throwing objects, etc. and that if either partner breaks the agreement, then separation will immediately be imposed until mutual respect is restored. Be prepared to accept that this may never happen, especially in advanced stages of abuse, and that your commitment to a healthy, respectful relationship may result in the termination of this abusive one.

 

Set boundaries. Abuse, in general, is an issue of disrespect that usually involves trespass upon individual’s equality and freedom due to unclear or poorly-defined boundaries. If you are on the receiving end of abuse, it’s up to you to set up clear, reasonable boundaries for an honorable relationship and to consistently stick to them. Let your partner know that you now recognize your responsibility in allowing the disrespect in the past, but that this era has now come to an end. Recognize the damage incurred by the previous era and establish a commitment to obtaining the support needed to forgive and restore the peace and strength necessary for mutual respect in all of your future relationships.

Develop emotional intelligence. In cases of abuse, both partners are often unknowingly suppressing important emotions. Receivers of abuse are often uncomfortable expressing authentic, respectful anger, which is necessary to establish boundaries. Abusers are often expressing fear, not anger, when abusing. It is the “fight or flight” response that is coming through, and in order to end abuse, both partners must be willing to learn new ways of feeling and expressing their true emotions to end the pattern of blaming, shaming, and punishing. Express your deepest and strongest feelings only in forms where they will receive the fullest respect and support, such as a diary, a blog, a group of very close friends or trusted family members, a professional and respectful psychologist (best by referral only), etc.

 

Understand the dynamics of relationship. Some relationships are formed on physical attraction only, some on repeating past patterns learned from a parent; some are not of our choosing (as with a parent). Whether you are working out childhood issues on your partner, or simply repeating learned behaviors, it’s important to understand that not many relationships are formed in the realm of intellect and emotion. Some remain largely unformed, others change over time. In a perfect world, relationships would be our highest learning playground. Perhaps the one we’re with has the most to teach us, and often triggers the most extreme emotional responses. If you feel that it’s safe to stay and learn with your partner, then take a good look at the dynamics playing out which have something to teach you. If you don’t feel safe enough to stay, but need to end it, then reflect back on what you might learn about the relationship patterns that were in place. The learning may be about valuing yourself, unwinding old traumas, or expressing emotions healthfully.

 

Source your safety. It’s easy to think that your partner is in charge of your safety depending on his or her behavior, but this is not true. You are the only one who can create safety for yourself. You do this by making choices. You have an innate navigational system within yourself that allows you to make decisions which feel right for you, and which will keep you safe and happy. When you learn to pay attention to your instincts, you will know which choices are life affirming, and which ones will drain you of your energy or create chaos.

 

Get some coaching or professional help. Find a relationship coach or mental health professional that can help you with this issue. It is possible for both partners to unwind emotional abuse if they choose to. Finding a great support system, preferably one that utilizes a holistic, no-blame approach to healing domestic violence will create the healthiest and most successful environment for learning and healing.

 

Know when to say goodbye. Sometimes, relationships are just wrong and cannot be saved. For your sake, and for the sake of your mental health, try hard to recognize as early as possible whether or not this relationship is even worth working on. The reason we date before marriage is to discover whether or not we are compatible. We thwart that process when we refuse to see that being treated poorly by another adult is unacceptable. If you are unhappy in your relationship, and have been for longer than half the time you have been together, leave. (Example: You have been unhappy for more than two years, but you have only been together for three years.)

RECOVERING FROM BIRTH

As a woman, a lot of your organs are displaced during pregnancy to accommodate the baby. The lungs, intestines, bladder and stomach get the biggest effects hence the difficulty breathing, frequency in passing urine, indigestion and minimal feeding. After the baby is born, all these organs have to take back their place. This is part of recovery. Caesarian Section recovery includes the normal post pregnancy recovery and the muscles, nerves, tissues and skin severed during the CS incision.

When one gets an episiotomy (cut to enlarge the external part of the birth canal), the healing ideally takes 7 to 14 days. The important thing is to keep the area clean and dry. The warm water with salt tends to soothe the area so a good way of keeping yourself pain free. Salt is a traditional antiseptic and keeps the area free of germs. You can use plain water with no salt if it stings too much. The essence is keeping it clean and dry. Change your pads frequently as the wetness from the pad can pose a risk for infection.

Ideally you should wait for 6 weeks if you have had a natural birth. By then your body will have returned to the pre-pregnancy state. When you start exercising, whether in the gym or at home, start with gentle exercises listening to your body as a guide to how much you can take. A good gym instructor knows what kind of exercises you can do. Yoga and Pilates are a good start at home. Brisk walking may be better to start with then escalate that to a jog.

Let us also look at PND-Post natal depression and PNB-Post natal blues briefly. Post natal blues happen within the period of day 3 to day 10. One feels low, can easily cry and feels helpless. Help, rest and support can lighten the burden and it should go after a couple of days. PND is when the blues linger and it gets to a place where the mum feels like doing harm to herself or her baby. By this time, they need to see a psychologist or psychiatrist depending on the situation.

In summary, it is so hard to regain your exact pre-pregnancy size. Even for mums who appear to have, they still have some fat, muscle, somewhere that refuses to go. CS predisposes you to that funny tummy because of the way the procedure is done. Exercise and trying to tone those muscles and watching your weight may help you regain a pre-pregnancy look.

Feel free to ask for more information from Mid Wife Consultant Lucy Muchiri of Evesmama.    Visit their page www.facebook.com/evesmama where Lucy discusses various aspects of  maternal health concerns .