St. Louis Bi-State Region
TURNINGA LIGHTBULB MOMENT INTO A BUSINESS LISA’S STORY A mentor at SCORE, Dana joined our organization about six years ago, hoping to share the business insight she’s amassed over the years as a corporate executive. “I wanted to work with entrepreneurs in a small-business environment,” she says.With a background in manufacturing and experience with direct sourcing out of China, she was the perfect match for a burgeoning entrepreneur looking for direction in those industries: SCORE mentee Lisa. Lisa was hard at work in the finance world until a couple years ago, when a lightbulb moment sparked a career change and a foray into fashion design. Getting her business up and running wasn’t easy. Lisa explains,“I had an idea, and I couldn’t take it from idea to reality. Entrepreneurship isn’t in our family, and I didn’t know where to go.” As many can relate, turning an idea into something tangible and profitable is more than half the battle. But Lisa was committed to seeing out her idea for functional, chic bags, and after some searching, she found SCORE.When she saw Dana’s mentor profile, she knew she’d found the right person.“She had manufacturing experience. She had exactly what I didn’t,” Lisa says.
was so kind and generous with her knowledge,” Lisa says.“It’s one thing to learn from her, but she learned it all herself. I admire that about her. She figured it out on her own.” As an executive, Dana led her company’s division until a design idea of her own launched a new product. She began working directly with manufacturers in Asia to make the design a reality. Hearing her story, it makes sense that she and Lisa have found kinship working together. Coming from the male-dominated industry, Lisa also points out how refreshing it was to connect with another businesswoman.“One thing that’s really cool about SCORE is the diversity of mentors,” she says.“For anyone starting a business, SCORE is incredible. I’m so grateful for Dana! I don’t know where I would be otherwise.” As Lisa sums up,“It’s so important to have a good sounding board. Issues will always come up.That’s part of having a business.” She’s grateful to have a kick-ass former corporate executive like Dana to turn to in these times. Clearly, the two — and Lux & Nyx — have just begun their journey. With SCORE, you’re never alone! Schedule an appointment to meet with a mentor today. Call 1-866-726-7340 or visit www.STLScore.org right now! 1 1-866-726-7340
her design using simple materials. From there, she could work with a local seamstress and turn the prototype into a working model.“It seems so simple, but when you don’t know where to start, the advice makes all the difference,” Lisa says. Once she had a prototype, Lisa’s next hurdle was finding a manufacturer. She struggled to find the right company locally. Here again, Dana’s experience in the industry was crucial.“Dana explained that I should meet with manufacturers directly and talk to them, learn what they do, and build that relationship.” Lisa went straight to the source, connecting with manufacturers in Hong Kong and getting to know each one.“I left with one manufacturer, whom I’ve worked with ever since.They’re a small, family operation who cares so much about the products. I communicate with them every day.” Recalling Dana’s advice, Lisa confirms,“It’s really relationship-based.” In their two-plus years working together through SCORE, Dana has helped Lisa turn her idea for fashionable, functional backpacks and handbags into Lux & Nyx, a growing business featured on NPR Marketplace and in the Washington Post. Lux & Nyx’s luxury backpacks and handbags are built with form and function in mind, are travel-ready, and are “meant for women on the go,” Lisa says.
Without Dana’s experience, though, it’s possible Lux & Nyx would have remained an idea.“Dana
To get her idea up and running, Dana explained that Lisa would want to create a prototype of
From Suspect to Customer The Decision-Making Process
should enlighten them to the features of the product or service. Having a solid nurture campaign can increase sales opportunities by 20% or more. The consideration phase can last weeks, months, and even years. It’s all dependent on you, your follow-up, and the needs of the prospect. During this phase, you want your prospect to chat with your salesperson. Advanced Tip:While you’re giving great information and sales presentations that position your product or service as better than your competitors’, make sure you also give the prospect information on why it’s important for them to take action and not simply do nothing . Many prospects bury their heads in the sand instead of working to solve their problems, but most companies never address the issue of doing nothing — they only address why they are better than their competitors, without realizing they lose far more deals to people kicking the can than to people actually making the decision to use a competitor.
simple verification of facts or terms and last-minute negotiations or next steps types of questions.Answer these questions well, and you’re on your way to having a brand-new customer. By focusing on campaigns that will help you walk each new prospect through their decision-making process, you will be better positioned to not only be on the short list come decision time, but also to be the company that wins the customer at the end of the day. Unfortunately, getting a new customer is only half the battle. Once you’ve acquired your new customers, your job becomes turning them into loyal, repeat customers. Most businesses lose money on each new customer, so ensuring your onboarding routines, repeat purchase processes, and customer retention systems are on point will protect your investment and ultimately provide a positive long-term ROI for each new customer you acquire.At the end of the day, there’s no point in acquiring a new customer if you can’t keep them and ultimately turn a profit. With SCORE, you’re never alone!We offer workshops and seminars each month to help you develop the skills you need to succeed.Visit www.StlouisScore.eventbrite.com today!
You may have heard experts say that people are ready to buy when they are ready to buy, not when you’re ready to sell to them. This is correct, but does that mean you’re at the mercy of the prospect to make a sale? Of course not. Every buyer goes on a buyer’s journey. Some move more quickly than others, but with information, contact, and education, you can greatly influence that journey and ultimately get more customers.
All prospects go through three phases.
In this phase, buyers don’t even know you exist, so they can’t know what your product is or that they need what you sell. It’s your job to find these people, called suspects, and tell them who you are and what you do.At this stage of the game, you are simply generating leads with the goal of getting some to express interest in your company, product, or service.When you’re creating content to attract these suspects, focus on helping your suspect solve a problem they have. Once someone’s opted in, they’ve taken the first step. In this stage, the prospect now has an awareness of you and your company, but they still aren’t ready to buy because they need more information. In years past, prospects got this from salespeople; now, thanks to the internet, buyers don’t need to chat with a salesperson
Once your company is on the short list for a buying decision, the prospect’s purchase comes down to
to learn more. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be trying to get your information into their hands early and often. Make sure your content is focused on answering the questions they have. It should show
them additional pain points your product or service can solve; it should tell them about the benefits; and it
HOWTO SETTHE RIGHT PRICING
There’s so much more to proper pricing, such as geography, target market, and the time of year, but the real moral of the story is to offer value that makes your high prices worth the money.This isn’t just about the quality of your products or service.Your value applies equally to how employees handle customer complaints, how friendly and helpful employees are, and how painless the customer experience is. One last parting thought:You’re generally worth more than you might think.Whatever you want to charge, dare yourself to charge a little higher and see what happens. Most importantly, keep adjusting and experimenting with pricing, so you can get ever closer to that elusive “perfect” price. With SCORE, you’re never alone! Schedule an appointment to meet with a mentor today. Call 1-866-726-7340 or visit www.STLScore.org right now!
After tabulating expenses, you can’t just automatically charge more on the company’s products and services to cover the costs. What will the market bear? To find that out, it’s time to look to your competitors. This research is doubly important because it reveals what’s realistic to charge in that marketplace, and it also shows where you can position your business based on the features and benefits of your offerings relative to those of similar companies. If it doesn’t seem like you can charge more than the total expenses and stay competitive, you need to have an even greater focus on cutting expenses. But margins will be razor- thin, and the company will be vulnerable to anyone who comes along with a lower price. As a general rule, it’s much better to raise prices after offering the quality products, services, and customer service that justify them rather than trying to be the cheapest offering in your marketplace.
Pricing your products and services can be a real challenge.As you know, pricing too high will reduce your sales volume too much, but pricing too low could mean you’re losing money every time you make a sale. And don’t forget, you risk being perceived as cheap if your products and services are low-priced. It can be confusing, but there’s hope! Here’s the best process for coming up with the ideal pricing for your business’ products and services. First, think about your gross margin.This might seem obvious, but it’s so fundamental and needs to be said. If what you’re charging doesn’t cover expenses, the business is sunk. Be realistic about calculating your cost of goods sold, including any materials, overhead, and labor that go into it. While doing this, don’t forget the thing that many business owners neglect to include: the cost of their own labor.You wouldn’t work for free on a job, so it’s key to consider the time you’re putting in as part of the cost of doing business.
Common Branding Mistakes
THAT CAN TORPEDOYOUR COMPANY’S IMAGE
The value of a strong brand cannot be overstated when it comes to growing your business.We call adhesive bandages Band-Aids and cotton swabs Q-Tips because those companies excel at creating memorable, trusted brands that consumers can rely on.There’s no recipe for creating a brand so strong that the name of your product becomes common vernacular, but developing a strong, consistent brand is within the reach of every business owner.
wrong place?When that happens, it’s because a company hasn’t made the effort to mirror their branding across all platforms. It’s one thing to have an irreverent online presence — look to MoonPie’s Twitter feed for an example — it’s another to have such disparate branding that you leave customers confused. A great brand synergizes all aspects to create one indelible image for consumers. Share your values, convey clear messages, and provide a professional image. Once you’ve done that, you’re on the road to building a brand that people want to support. With SCORE, you’re never alone!We offer workshops and seminars each month to help you develop the skills you need to succeed.Visit www.StlouisScore.eventbrite.com today! 3 1-866-726-7340
swoosh, one of the greatest logos in business history.There was nothing like it at the time, and there’s little like it today. SLOPPY COPY Branding is far more than just a cool logo and a flashy website.The words you use to convey your values — and the value you offer customers — are crucial. Bad grammar, weird word choice, and other linguistic faux pas can make you look silly. Make sure you have professional editors look over your copy to ensure it relays the message you want it to. PLATFORM INCONSISTENCY Have you ever logged onto a mobile version of a website and wondered if you were in the
This is why it’s frustrating to see companies hurt their branding through easily avoidable mistakes. Business owners often deprioritize branding in the early stages of their company, but that’s a dangerous mistake. If a potential customer interacts with your brand and it doesn’t resonate with them, it’s going to be hard to win them back. By avoiding these common errors, you can create a brand that people will support and interact with. BLAND BRANDING “Branding is deliberate differentiation,” says author and consultant Debbie Millman. In other words, don’t create your brand by copying somebody else’s.The best brands stand out.Think about the iconic Nike
St. Louis Bi-State Region UPCOMING WORKSHOPS
JULY 2019 Monday, July 8 • LinkedIn Success — Creating Consistent Leads and Clients • The Importance of a Business Plan Saturday, July 13 • How to Start and ManageYour Business • DefiningYourTarget Market Monday, July 22 • How to Start a Not-For-Profit Business • QuickBooks Online —Advanced
AUGUST 2019 Saturday,August 3 • How to Start and ManageYour Business • The Supply Chain as an Element of Business Success Monday,August 12 • Start a Business — KeepYour Day Job! • Getting it Right — How to Handle Core Legal Issues Facing a New Business
Monday,August 26 • Patents,Trademarks, and Copyrights • Utilize the Library for Business Research
To register for an upcoming workshop, go to StLouisSCORE.eventbrite.com
EXPERT LEADWORKSHOPS + MENTORSTO GUIDE YOU = THE SCORE ADVANTAGE *Workshop schedules are subject to change.
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