Day 17 Challenge: "What three steps can you take to build trust and credibility online for you, your brand and your business?"
Day 18 Challenge: "What does your dream sales team look like and how will you ensure they help you build your business?"
Day 19 Challenge: "Which methods do you want to use to build your platform and increase your influence?"
Day 17: My Three Steps to Build Trust and Credibility Online
As I've mentioned before, this coaching business was a happy accident. I started it because I was helping artisans with their businesses and truly enjoyed it. I've been teaching, coaching and mentoring for almost 30 years and, at this point, it's second nature to me. As it began to take up more and more of my time, I couldn't continue to do it for free. I had to decide whether to drastically reduce the time I spent on it or turn it into a business.
I knew I wasn't going to stop... probably wouldn't have cut down either. So, I decided on a business and Awaken Dreams Success Coaching was born (although originally aWAEHQn dreams Success Coaching and currently being re-branded). I determined that, if set up properly, I could make it financially viable while still giving loads of help for free. So that's what I've done.
I focus on 3 main areas to build trust and credibility for myself and my brand online:
1. My personality and ethics
2. My content
3. My social media presence
My Personality and Ethics
I love having my own business and the fact that I get to decide how it's run. I take great pride in personally taking care of my customers and clients. I am the face of my brand. So I allow my personality to shine through, let people get to know me and I enjoy getting to know them.
It's important for me to be honest and professional, but also to be approachable and make business fun!
It's such a blessing to be able to follow my code of ethics and treat my customers and clients the way I feel they deserve to be treated. I don't have anyone with more authority in my business than I have, so it's a "my way or the highway" situation and I'm happy with that.
No matter what division of my business I'm working in at any given time, I make it a point to do incredible work and over-deliver for my clients. I'm happy when my clients are happy and I do my best to make every single one of them truly happy with their product, experience service and results.
In my coaching business, I really "champion my peeps" as they like to say. I'm passionate about what I'm doing. I believe in what I'm doing. I'm doing it because it's what most fulfills me and because I want my clients to make a living doing the work that most fulfills them.
Setting up an actual coaching business meant having something to sell in order to make it work. So I have products and programs as well as one-on-one coaching packages (and many more of them in the works!).
But, by setting up a Multi-Faceted Monetization Plan™ for my coaching business, I'm still able to deliver tons of content for free. I do most of that here on the blog with articles and tutorials.
I aim to always provide valuable information, so I watch what's being discussed and asked about in groups, forums and while I'm out and about on social media. I also do surveys and have a standing invitation for my community to let me know what they need.
I've done a bit of guest blogging. I was honored to write a feature article on The Suitcase Entrepreneur, be featured on the JigsawBox Blog, and interviewed about Branding Tips for Solopreneurs by Sandy Sidhu at SidekickPM.
I'm looking for good places to do more guest posting once my re-brand is finished (don't want to confuse new visitors) so I can widen my reach and help more creatives who want to own their own business. This will become an area of focus as I prepare for upcoming launches... 1 program later this month and an ambitious THREE for the new year!
My Social Media Presence
I also spend a considerable amount of time amongst my community on social media. I love the interaction and it's a great way to be helpful and find out how I can best be of service.
I do surveys and polls. I answer questions on my blog, on Facebook and via email. I actively seek out questions I can answer in groups on LinkedIn by scanning through my alerts every day or so.
I comment on blog posts I read and enjoy, and then share them with people I think would also enjoy and benefit from them. I share industry news with my community to make sure they know about important happenings that impact their businesses... whether positively or negatively.
I love to promote handcraft artisans and the amazing work they do. I encourage people to let me know about their businesses. I do shout-outs to community members on Twitter and on Facebook (on my personal profile and on my Awaken Dreams and Designs by Debi business pages).
In 2011, I held a fabulous 13-day "Exploring Handmade" Online Holiday Shopping Event on my Designs by Debi blog featuring over 50 talented artisans.
And I'm about to start a new feature here at Awaken Dreams to celebrate creative entrepreneurs on a regular basis. Exciting news to come so watch your email (and if you're not on my newsletter list, get on it!)
Day 18: My Dream Sales Team
My dream sales team would include clients who are so happy with the progress they've made and transformations they've experienced that they shout it from the rooftops, tell everyone they know, give me great testimonials and recommend me to their fellow artisans and creatives.
It would also include respected colleagues whose communities include my target market and whose readers, clients or customers could benefit from the information and services I provide.
The first thing I need to do to enlist their help, is to ASK for it. (Yes I know, I really do need to work on this.)
I'm also putting an affiliate system in place to reward them for their efforts. And, when it comes to product launches, I'll have all the materials possible to make it super easy for them to promote my work and launch, and earn commissions.
How About You?
Do you have a sales team? Think you can't have one? If so, you're 100% WRONG. I have one for Designs by Debi.
First and foremost, I always make the effort to not only deliver on my promises, but to OVERdeliver and make every customer's experience with me memorable.
My customers are a special gift to me and I let that show in how I work with them. I believe this is why most of my business is custom design work that comes to me via referrals from past clients and even friends of past clients who "heard how pleased their friend 'Suzi' was with my work."
I also have a Referral Program and I tell my customers about it in the email I send with their shipping and tracking info. The funny thing is, they never seem to want to use it! They tell me, "Oh no I'm happy to recommend you because (insert joyous revelation here). You don't need to pay me for it!"
I'm extremely blessed. I have amazing customers and clients, and I get to do some really awesome, meaningful work because of it.
Think about ways you can get yourself a sales team by incorporating ideas like this into your own business and share your ideas or questions with me in the comments below.
Day 19: My Methods To Build My Platform and Expand My Influence
We have an overwhelming tendency to compare ourselves to others and, I think because it's so easy to do, we do way too much of it. This can be so detrimental to your business. It can literally get you stuck and bring your progress to a grinding... and likely emotionally painful... halt.
I know because I've been there. And it required a whole lot of work on my mindset to get me past it. I'm not saying I never do it; I'm not perfect. But I acknowledge that doing it puts me in my own way so I'm careful not to let that happen.
You need to remember that when you do this, you're comparing your INSIDE to their OUTSIDE. You don't know what's going on behind the scenes of their life and business. You just see the polished, seemingly perfect outside that's projected to the world.
As Natalie says, comparing yourself to others is "like comparing apples with pumpkins – two entirely different types of food that have come through completely different growth phases to turn out how they have!"
We are all unique and have our own overflowing supply of awesomeness to unleash on the world.
But it's so hard not to compare yourself to others. I often look at others online and dream of the day that my message will reach that many people around the globe. And try to quickly snap out of it and remind myself that I need to keep moving forward if I want to get there! No more comparing.
I'm so passionate about my niche of artisans and creatives though, and want so much to help each one of you create a lifestyle business... a business doing what you love that gives you the lifestyle that you want. And it seems to take so long when you want it so badly.
I'm doing my best to accept that baby steps are fine, knowing my incremental progress and increasing interaction with my community is helping me build a solid foundation. I work hard to increase my value and reach more people every day.
Elevating the Status of Handmade
Building my platform and increasing my influence is a high priority for me. I'm not only interested in doing this for my benefit. I'm on a mission for my clients. In addition to having a positive influence on artisans, I want to influence the world. I want to...
• bring unique creative artisan work to the forefront of people's minds
• elevate the perception of handmade
• increase the value society places on handcrafted goods
• and acknowledge the talented people who put their heart and soul into what they do
I have so many plans in motion to help artisans and creatives create what I call "Boutique Brands" to help accomplish these objectives.
Our economy is still a mess and I believe that it is small businesses like ours that are going to pull us out of it. There's never been a time with more possibilities to chart our own course than what we have right now. I'm passionate about helping people do that; about making a difference.
Learn More, Help More
I love to read and learn. I usually read at least 24 business books each year, sometimes as many as 6 in a month; as well as countless numbers of blogs, articles and other materials every week. It helps me stay on top of things, gain new perspective, inspires me and allows me to increase my value to my community.
I've come to terms with the fact that I'm technically an infopreneur and online marketer (Psst... like it or not, you're an internet marketer, too!) and I'm working to get better at it.
I still wish I could wave a magic wand and help every single one of my peeps achieve their dreams right now. But alas, I have no magic wand.
I do, however, have a whole lot of determination so I'll get there. We'll get there... together!
I'm writing this post as part of Natalie Sisson's 30 Day Blog Challenge during which I'll follow the path she's laying with inspiration and challenges for daily blog posts. I hope you'll enjoy coming along on this journey and share your own in the comments every day. If you'd like to participate in the challenge on your own blog, just click one of the links here and you'll be taken to the page with all the details.