Penetrating New Markets

One of the most exciting times in any entrepreneur’s business life is when they successfully penetrate new markets. Of course, “new markets” can mean a different segment, a different industry, a different geographic region, etc. But, whatever the focus, the key to success is applying discipline — but, where to begin?

To answer this question, for BusinessCast podcast episode #119 — Penetrating New Markets — Robert and I sat down with Tony Lourakis, CEO of Markham-based, Complete Innovations. Tony shares his insights about how, in under nine years, he has successfully taken an innovative niche business into new markets. At the same time, Complete Innovations has earned accolades such as being named in the Profit Hot 50 and the Profit 100.

Listen to BusinessCast podcast episode #119 — Penetrating New Markets — and you’ll gain practical insights on how and when you can penetrate your next new market!

A special thanks to Victoria Freeman at High Road Communications for introducing us to Tony.

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Business by Inspiration – Part One

Every successful entrepreneur eats, breathes and sleeps their business. But, what keeps entrepreneurs constantly growing and striving for greatness? It’s rarely as simple as a desire for money or notoriety. Rather, it’s usually some intangible and perpetual pool of inspiration. When that source of inspiration is coupled with the ability to harness core business disciplines the outcome is, well…inspirational!

When we sat down with Jennifer Beale, public relations and networking professional, for BusinessCast episode #116 we clearly saw the outcome of her inspiration. At the same, her success reveals some  important business lessons that will truly inspire and direct every entrepreneur.

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Networking for Entrepreneurs – Resource Round-up

Robert and I are always being asked by entrepreneurs for tips and tools about networking. It’s not that there aren’t a vast array of worthwhile networking resources available online and offline. But, given hectic schedules, entrepreneurs want to find and tap into those tools that will help achieve a wide range of networking goals quickly and cost-effectively.

So, over the last few months, we’ve reviewed a number of critical networking resources. For example, in BusinessCast #92 we reviewed Liz Lynch’s practical and powerful handbook entitled, Networking for Entrepreneurs. Then in BusinessCast Podcast #105, Liz, Robert and I ran through three of the most common networking scenarios faced by all entrepreneurs.

We also tackled the growing topic of online networking by focusing on LinkedIn. In BusinessCast Podcast #104, Doyle Slayton shared tips on how he uses this online community to forward his networking agenda. While we’ll be building on this topic in future BusinessCast Podcast episodes this interview, along with the associated blog post, is an easy and practical introduction to LinkedIn.

It’s with this imperative on practical tips and speed that we bring in one of Canada’s most prominent and successful “connectors” — Donna Messer. That’s why in BusinessCast Podcast #108, Essential Networking Rules, we have Donna rifle through 15 of the most important networking tips in under 10 minutes!!

Don’t forget to enter the contest to Win a Blackberry Bold! All it takes is 100 words (or less) on how a Blackberry Bold will help your business. Send a note to Robert@BusinessCast.ca and you could win this powerful smartphone — provided by Research in Motion.

Leveraging LinkedIn – Online Networking for Entrepreneurs

More and more entrepreneurs are jumping on LinkedIn — which is one of the most popular online/social networking tools. But, to what end? So, Robert and I dig into this question.

In BusinessCast #104 – Getting Linked In, we speak with Doyle Slayton who has done a terrific job at using LinkedIn to build his professional profile. Doyle shares some of his experiences of how he’s used the LinkedIn to successfully build the “SalesBlogcast Group” to be one of the largest, fastest growing, most focused and user-friendly resources on LinkedIn.

Whether you’re new to LinkedIn or are an experienced user, here are some useful LinkedIn- related resources:

1) Why Use LinkedIn – This often quoted Guy Kawasaki article is ususally mislabelled “How to use LinkedIn” but really answers the question “why this tool can be useful”. So, while it doesn’t give you any hands-on insights, it still is worthwhile reviewing to determine whether LinkedIn is right for you. For those entrepreneurs who want some more background, here’s a source that prides itself on being the “unofficial source for all things LinkedIn“.

2) Who is on LinkedIn anyway? Here’s a PowerPoint presentation that gives an overview of the demographics of LinkedIn users.

3) Thinking about using LinkedIn to build your business and business network? You’re not alone. While there are thousands of articles that chip away at how to answer this question, here’s one that provides some good hands-on advice.

After listening to Doyle’s passion in BusinessCast #104 – Getting Linked In, you’ll likely want to check out and sign-up to his thriving SalesBlogcast Group or his SalesBlogcast blog.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold! All it takes is 100 words (or less) on why a Blackberry Bold will help your business.

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Getting Media Coverage — 5 Key Steps

While many marketers have, over the last few years, advised entrepreneurs to focus on building their social media profile, keep in-mind that getting your name in the ‘traditional media’ (i.e. newspapers, radio, television and print journals) can still be a powerful marketing tool well-worth pursuing.

In fact, the core principles used for establishing and growing profile online are actually built upon on the methods used in infiltrating the traditional media. That’s why in BusinessCast podcast #103 Robert and I sit down with Gerry Nicholls who is recognized as being one of the Nation’s most media-savvy political pundits. But, Gerry is more than a ‘thinker’ — he’s a doer with a rare history of building public profile for people, companies and causes. So, Gerry draws on his strong track record to share five ways that you can start to build and grow relationships with key media people.

Once you’ve listened to BusinessCast Podcast #103 you’ll be much better equipped to build a plan of action for getting the media coverage you want and deserve.

Here are a few additional points to consider for your media-building plan:

Define your targets precisely — Among the various types of targets, you should include at least one of the following: number of “mentions” in specific media; number of “positive” mentions in specific media; number of times you’re called by editors or journalists as a source of expertise; ‘unassisted name recognition’ as measured in your market research or ‘improved positive name association’ as measured in your market research.

Plan for ‘bad publicity’ — When you’re taking efforts to build your public profile, keep in-mind that there will be occasions when the media will miss a critical point or misunderstand something. The resulting increased buzz may not be the buzz you want. So, play out worst-case scenarios and identify what you will do to correct any inaccuracies or misconceptions about your company. It is particularly important to use the right combination of online tools in order to keep bad press from spreading through search engines.

Establish a precise process — Let everyone in your organization know who will act as your company’s spokesperson(s). Provide them with the training to deal effectively with the media and establish a straight-forward process for responding quickly to media inquiries.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold!

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Social Media – Keeping Your Ear to the Groundswell

Every single entrepreneur that Robert and I have spoken to is grappling with ‘social media’.  Entrepreneurs just like you — across all industries — are asking the fundamental questions, such as:

  • Should I use social media tools?
  • What social media tools should I use?
  • How should I use social media to get the most out of them?
  • When should I be using these tools?
  • How much time/money/effort should I invest in social media tools?
  • How will I know that I’m using social media tools effectively?

Don’t be put off if you don’t have the answers. Because, in fact, many entrepreneurs just like you are still asking: “What are social media tools anyway?” Over the next few months, Robert and I are taking this fascinating and fast-moving topic head-on.

1) To get underway, in BusinessCast #101, we’ve just interviewed Charlene Li. Charlene is the engaging co-author of Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies — considered to be one of the landmark books on social media. And, no wonder. The resource accomplishes something that few other social media books, articles or websites do: it provides practical and actionable advice, clearly and concisely. The ‘heart’ of the book is a way to view your current/targeted markets based on how they actually use technology.  And, then once you’ve got a handle on how your audience interacts with technology, Groundswell provides guidelines for how to reach them. Equally as practical is the overall Groundswell approach which recommends that you should focus on the type of relationship you want with your markets — rather than focusing on the social media tools (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Digg, YouTube, Flickr, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, etc. etc.) themselves.

2) We’re also attending a fascinating and highly-recommended series of social media webinars made available through Marketwire — which is one of the World leaders for press release distribution, public relations and investor relations. We will be bringing you updates on each of the monthly webinars. However, we recommend that if you want to remain on the leading-edge of this topic, sign-up for them now so that you can get a jump on your competitors by building a social media roadmap.

3) Whenever we see a resource that is particularly useful for entrepreneurs, we cherry-pick some of the most relevant social media news and insights. So, here are two BusinessCast blogposts that can help you quickly get up-and-running on social media:

4) You’re probably asking yourself how popular is social media? Here’s a resource that provides some social media usage stats.

5) Finally, when you’ve had a chance to review the above resources, check out Charlene Li’s blog where she tackles the future of social media.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold!

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Connecting for Business Success

Today, it’s hard to find real business “truths” because everything that impacts your business changes so quickly — for example: the new technologies you need for your operations, dramatic swings in customer demand, new competitors entering your market, the rising cost of production and sales, the challenges in securing investment resources, evolving employee expectations etc.

But, one truth is constant: your business will only succeed if you are connected to the right people at the right time.

Finding, nurturing and leveraging the right business connections is exactly what Donna Messer, President, ConnectUs Communications Canada — guest for BusinessCast #95, Connecting for Business Success — does day-in and day-out.  Just like every entrepreneur, she has a network of suppliers, customers, advisors, colleagues, media… and the list goes on and on. But, unlike most entrepreneurs, Donna has honed a process for efficiently connecting them with each other so that participants find value in the connection and in the initiator of that connection, Donna. The result: Donna has become an important influencer in dozens of different industries.

Listen to BusinessCast #95, Connecting for Business Success and you’ll find some practical nuggets of wisdom that will help build your connecting skills/opportunities — and therefore ensure your business’ succeess.

If you want to read about how entrepreneurs just like you tackled some of the other most common business problems, check out Your Business Success Stories.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes