Why do I call these "habits" instead of tips, suggestions, or practices?
Doing these things once won't make much of a difference in your business or marketing. But if you learn, implement, and do these things continually, as a matter of habit, they will absolutely increase your income in any niche or business you choose to enter.
It was Confucius that said:
"Men's natures are alike; it is their habits that carry them far apart." [Chinese philosopher K'ung Fu-tzu (551-479 BC) aka "Confucius"]
Here are 12 very profitable habits to develop:
1- Establish and nurture relationships as a business owner. You can still be a solo entrepreneur, a lone eagle, or a one-man-band (whatever you wish to call yourself because you work alone) yet still build personal relationships with people important to your business. Go beyond thinking in terms of "me, the business owner" and "them, my subscribers, prospects, customers, or clients." I have experienced that some of the most influential and profitable contacts I have had over my business lifetime have been suppliers, other marketers, media contacts, editors, club or group members, other business owners, and even competitors (yea, that's surprising, but true).
2- Take the time to follow up. Very few business owners that I've known do this - it's why making a habit of always following up is so powerful. When you meet someone new, make it a point to follow up with an email, a text message, a phone call, or even a letter. So many business conversations are "one and done" - never to speak to one another again. Instead, a simple and short follow up (including your branding) will pay great dividends and set you apart from all the other talking heads. You want to be remembered for something valuable, good, important, or beneficial to your contact.
3- Make a contact list and keep it current and growing. Marketers and business owners are pounded with the advice to "build an email list of subscribers" or contacts. That's not what this is about. I'm suggesting you always build a list of contacts of those listed in #1 above - your important relationships. Make them aware of your business, what you do, who you are, and let them feel they are important to your business. Treat them like top shareholders or VIPs! Nurture them to know and recognize you personally in a crowd. If you don't keep a VIP contact list (and keep your list up-to-date with your business happenings) you will soon forget these business associates and they will forget you.
4- Give without expecting anything in return. This habit doesn't have to be time consuming or costly. There are things of value in every niche that can be shared with both your subscribers and your VIP contacts. Ideas, news, thoughts, trends, events, industry changes, new opportunities, and better ways to do things can all be valuable, no cost "gifts" from you to your contacts. Give someone your personal time in the form of advice, counsel, or answering a business question. Even though you don't do this expecting a return, you will be surprised at the "good will" and loyalty this habit will pay you into the future. This is just one way to nurture your business relationships.
5- Stay informed and be a lifelong student in your niche and marketplace. Set aside a little time each day (like maybe 1/2 hour or even 20 minutes) and seek out industry news, events, trends, changes, and anything that might influence you to be a more "tuned in to the pulse of the marketplace" owner or a better marketer. It will help your business to be seen as relevant and niche enlightened. (Note: make use of Google Alerts to flag news and events online in your industry.) Not only that, but openly let others know you do this. Put what you find on your web site, or in a company newsletter, or in your regular outgoing emails. Not only will this give you great content, it will build your reputation as "someone in the know" or a "go to" business owner that is perceived as an authority in the niche. You may even have media reps seeking you out for your reaction, opinion or "take" on certain timely topics.
6- Be ready to expose and brand your business at any time. Always have something valuable (in the niche) and branded to your business that you can share on the spot. Think of it as a free sample of your business product or service. Then be outgoing and pro-active in distributing your free samples whenever you have a chance. Market your business always to everyone! When someone asks what you do, give them this (whatever it is) and introduce them to your business. The free sample could be something physical - but it certainly doesn't have to be. It could be a free trial of your software, a free report or white paper about your business, or even a free month of your membership site or paid service. Digital free samples can be enabled by printing a coupon code or granting backdoor access via a web site link printed on the back of your business card.
7- Don't waste time. As a business owner, your time is one of the most valuable assets you have. Don't waste your time with other people and don't let others waste their time with you. Meaningless activities and small talk, whether programmed in or not, tend to fill the time allowed so don't give them audience in the first place. Spend your time building relationships instead.
8- With very, very few exceptions, all products and services have a shelf life. Remember this! I understand that most product owners won't mention this - but it's why they keep coming up with new products to sell. PLR sellers don't want you to know this. Life on the Internet moves at a very fast pace and strategies, tactics, cutting edge practices and yes, products and services to, change in effectiveness over time. Marketing best practices change. It's easy to get left behind - I know, it has happened to me and it will happen to you. The saying "strike while the iron is hot" could have been penned with Internet business squarely in mind.
9- Develop a detailed bio, business brief, or press kit and keep it up to date. This is not the free sample we discussed in #6 above. You need to have a packet of information (digital and/or physical) about your business that you can distribute to those who want to know more about what you do, how you can be contacted, and where to find your web site. For exact details, Google "media press kit" or something similar. It will take some time to put together, so don't wait until someone asks you for it in a rush. This is your chance to paint a picture of your products, business and its positioning in the very best light possible. Be sure to introduce your brand at the same time.
10- Develop a FAQ for your web site. This can be a simple list of frequently asked questions and answers to things you anticipate others may want to know about your business/products/services. Some feel this practice is too "old school." I don't. I've tested it and I know that a good FAQ can cut down customer service and support requests significantly and that means lower operating costs and more time for you to devote to other priorities in your business. Would it surprise you to know that some media editors and their staff browse these things looking for people to interview on a given topic! Anticipate and overcome objections and concerns in advance.
11- In everything you do, give people an easily recognized reason to respond to you. This principle goes hand-in-hand with branding everything that leaves your business. Think about it - wouldn't it be nice to have hungry and eager prospects contacting you outside your normal advertising campaigns? It does happen if you have the right mindset and talent (both of which can be learned) to incorporate response "triggers" in your blog posts, articles, forum threads and posts, interviews, press releases, and everything else that gets distributed on- and off-line. This tactic is simply to make a conscious effort to infuse everything you do with response triggers that motivate readers or viewers to follow up with your business about something that interests them, or that catches their eye, or is curious, or unique, or out of the ordinary. Say, or do, or offer something that is worthy of a viewer response. It could be something as simple as overwhelmingly great targeted niche content, or maybe a statement at the end like "I will personally read and respond to every inquiry." Open the door to your business through you personally (and outside your ad campaigns)!
12- Never burn bridges! Don't do it no matter how unbearable some people are or how much you despise the competition. Regardless of what you think today, tomorrow is a new day and you want all your avenues and options open. Be civil, pleasant, kind and helpful as a business owner. Think of this: who do you buy from more often - the gruff, disinterested, "don't bother me now" business owner ... or ... the pleasant, helpful, accommodating salesman? No one sees or understands all the circumstances behind anyone's communications, actions, or decisions so don't judge people based on your limited information.
I hope you will consider making a habit of these business and marketing practices. They will set you apart from your competitors. They will endear you to your contacts and associates. They will brand your business as professional and one worth buying from or partnering with. They will make you more money in the long run.
To your online business success,