23 Tiny, Easy Tips to Use at Networking Events

People do business with people they know, like, and trust. People refer people they know, like, and trust. Think about what makes you know, like, and trust others. Then take that laser focused intent with you to every networking event you attend. You’ll have more fun, expand your influence and become more successful. What could be better?

Okay – you’re at a networking event, now what?

1. Come early – the 15 minutes before the event are where the ice gets broken. The initial conversations that help people get comfortable are where stories are told and initial impressions made. I remember Sean showing me the website about how to make cheese (honestly, before that I couldn’t remember his name.)

2. Wear something that’s a conversation starter – it makes it easier for the other person to walk over and make a friendly comment to break the ice.

3. Show up often – If it’s the third time we’ve met, now I can ask something from last time. Secretly, the first time I was overwhelmed from meeting too many new people and you got lost in the overload. Please don’t hate me.

4. Act like the host – There is someone in the room who doesn’t know anyone and might feel uncomfortable. Note, they’re standing by themselves. Make their day by introducing them to someone friendly, has something in common, or might be a good business contact.

5. Say their name – After they’ve introduced themselves, use their name. “It’s nice to meet you Sean”. People feel good when they hear their name and chances are you’ll remember their name later.

6. Smile – It makes the other person more comfortable, and you too.

7. Meet people more, not more people – Don’t look around the room for the ‘next’ person you need to talk to. When I’m talking to you, you’re the only person in the room.

8. You’re NOT working the room – You are connecting with people building trust, relationships, and connections.

9. Get people to talk – ask them questions like, “What do you love/enjoy most about what you do?”

10. Listen, no really – ask questions you really want to know the answer to, “What do you see as the coming trends in your industry?”

11. Treat each business card you receive like it’s an introduction – Read it, comment on it. Make sure it doesn’t get lost. Give yours only after it’s appropriate.

12. Remember something for next time – It’s okay to write it on the card. We all know that committed, busy, successful people have systems.

13. Give a complement – be sincere; it will make their day.

14. Share a story not a sales pitch – An interesting, unique story will be more memorable than your 30-second infomercial.

15. Give before getting – Ask, “How would I know if I ran into your ideal client or prospect?”

16. Exit gracefully – “Well, I don’t want to take up all your time. I’m sure you have other people you want to talk to and so do I. I’d like to continue our conversation, so why don’t we plan to get together? I’ll call you next week.”

17. Stay late – the best conversations happen after the event, that’s where you get past ‘small talk’ and can follow up on something they said.

18. Give generously of your time – We remember people who’ve helped us. Be someone helpful.

19. Be trustworthy – Little things like showing up, being happy, talking to people, and being consistent communicates trust.

20. Touch them later – a nice-to-meet you card, a quick voicemail, an article about what you’ve discussed will make you likable.

21. Ignore naysayers – That little voice inside that says “no one will call me so what’s the use” is that same voice that doesn’t want you to be successful. We all have that and some of us have real people saying it too. Unless they are successful, busy people in your own field and stage of development, ignore them.

22. Have faith – Success is the result of small efforts repeated. No one came here today waiting to write you a check.

23. Keep improving – Each event, be a little more sincere, a little more attentive, a little better follow up. You’ll be amazed at your skills by this time next year.

These tiny steps will make you enjoy your networking events more. You’ll get more people
that you know, like, and trust so you can be a better resource to your clients. And yes, more
people will know, like, and trust you too.

Why go to all this effort?
“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”
- Dale Carnegie

Now stop reading about 23 Easy Tips to Use at Networking Events and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

51 Ways Your Business Can Pay You

With a tremendous number of tax favored ways your company can pay you, you’ll want to decide which ones help your family and business most. Best news, you can make changes that fit your changing lifestyle & business, adding selections as your family and business grow.

1. Paycheck / Owner Draw / Salary – Okay, this is the obvious
2. Business use of your home tax deduction
3. Rent from the business
4. Training and education you desire
5. Travel related to business you get to choose
6. Choosing your own travel modes, timing, and conditions
7. Extra days traveling paid by business
8. Travel conditions you choose
9. Choosing your favorite meals & entertainment places, foods, and times
10. Cell phone
11. Choosing your own Equipment brands, tools, and power toys
12. Lend Money to your company
13. Collect interest from lending
14. Negotiate favorable terms
15. Retirement plans paid by company
16. Flexibility in choosing the best retirement plan for you
17. Deferred Compensation
18. Welfare benefit fund
19. Cafeteria Plans
20. Adoption assistance
21. Dependent care assistance
22. Education assistance
23. Distributions on profits
24. Set up Benefit Programs you desire such as:
25. Vision coverage
26. Dental coverage
27. Medical coverage
28. Health Savings or Flexible spending accounts
29. Business working conditions – that you get to choose
30. Business partnerships that you get to choose
31. Auto provided for your use – you get to choose
32. Parking & parking passes
33. Family on payroll instead of hand out
34. Building emergency reserves
35. Building expansion reserves
36. Certain meals for business, family, friend, & prospects
37. Benefits that can be excluded to executives:
38. Athletic facilities
39. Meals for business convenience
40. Lodging for business convenience
41. Additional health plan coverage
42. Family peace of mind, including:
43. Life Insurance
44. LTC Insurance
45. Disability Insurance
46. Key man Insurance
47. When selling your company – you get to choose when & how
48. Golden parachute on company sale
49. Working part time & flexible scheduling after company sale
50. Goodwill throughout your community
51. Control over your own destiny – Priceless!

Every business is different and every family is unique. Sit down with Merra Lee and see what makes sense for you and your business today.

Now stop reading about 51 Ways Your Business Can Pay You and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

iPhone Invoicing Can Yield Cashflow Magic

Spending your night and weekends invoicing? Invoicing whenever you can find your desk? Waiting to get paid for a job that you finished weeks ago? Technology just handed self employed awesome, easy profit capture tools. You can now quote, invoice, provide evidence, and get paid with your iPhone. Even if you are not a technology wiz, these are easy.

Email quotes and proposals before you get home. No more time waiting to get back to the office, or using you weekend time to write up quotes or proposals. These applications let you enter common products and units in a couple keystrokes. So if you are a plumber, electrician, or contractor think about those standard materials you use frequently. The quote and invoicing apps also with Google Contacts so that your customer names, addresses and emails are easily used without fat finger typos causing misspellings and frustration. Several examples to choose from include Omni Invoice, Invoice2go, or GetPaid.

Quickly turn quotes into invoices before you leave the customer. The biggest loss of profit dollars I see in my self employed clients is not billing for extra work done while they’re being to darn helpful. Many contractors don’t have an easy, professional, instant way to modify customer invoices to capture that last minute extra work. iPhone invoicing lets you add materials and hours to the original quote. You can then show it to and email the customer before leaving their home, lawn, office, or worksite. The apps I just mentioned above let you do that.

What if you have backup receipts or other documents? If you have purchased items for your projects and have receipts that you need to justify your invoice, either to forward to the customer or just for you’re your own memory, try Genius Scan. This app automatically sizes the picture size to the paper size, re-squares the image (can you get your camera to line up with the paper in less than 3 seconds, I can’t), and makes that picture bright and clear so it’s easier to see.

Now, just take a credit card payment. No more chasing the client or waiting for your money when you can take credit card payments from your iPhone. Using an application such as Square, you can swipe a card, process the payment instantly and send the receipt to the customer.

Don’t have an iPhone yet? Verizon is expected to get the iPhone by January. Also, many of these apps are available for the iPad if you were looking for a business excuse to have one in your life.

Too busy to research for yourself? What if you want this ease of quoting, invoicing, and taking payment but fear it will mess up your already hectic schedule? I’ll hook you up to the local technology guys that can set up and support you. Call, email, or see me and I’ll get you started.

Hey, my sole priority in life is to help make you profitable and happy so you can work to reach your financial goals. These tools can reduce the stress of collecting from customers so you have more time to build your business. These apps can help to improve your cash flow so much, it’ll feel like magic!

Now stop reading about iPhone Invoicing and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Strategic Debt Payoff – Consider future business flexibility when you choose which ‘debt’ to pay next

Many small business owners have multiple debts to pay thanks to the Great Recession and the debt culture we unwittingly bought into over the last 10 years. Stunned as banks have tightened rules, and frightened by the uncertain economy many have become focused on reducing overall debt. Many business owners have numerous debts such as equipment loans, lines of credit, or personal loans. The question is where focus your debt pay down dollars once there are a few more dollars in your cash flow?

The common wisdom is to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. That reduces your lifetime out of pocket expense, right? But, consider your next target debt payoff from the one that gives your business the most benefit two to three years from now. It may not be the one with the highest interest rates.

In your small business strategic debt payoff plan, consider the issues of quickly improved cash flow, future re-borrowing capacity, flexibility when borrowing from ‘yourself’, or collateral available for funding expansion of your business. Examples in your strategic debt pay down include:

Paying the smallest debt first. It leaves you with those ‘extra’ monthly dollars to accelerate payoff of the second or third item on your list.

Paying off a credit card. Results in that re-borrowing capacity. This has typically been the debt of choice due to high interest rates.

Paying off a Line of Credit. This also leaves you with re-borrowing capacity, and at usually much lower interest rates than credit cards.

Paying off a personal debt. Perhaps that person will loan again in the future. Also from the continued goodwill perhaps refer you some business. And you will maintain your friendship.

Paying into an emergency fund. Your emergency fund is a kind of debt you owe yourself. As your own banker, you’d give yourself a zero-interest loan. Consider it a loan from the bank of you since you’d need to rebuild that account. It also avoids the use of credit cards. Emergency funds are very liquid and without hassle when you need to ‘borrow’ from yourself in the future.

Paying off an income producing asset. Paying off a rental home or a large equipment loan leaves you with collateral that you can borrow against in the future for business expansion. Perhaps the rates will also be lower the next time.

Paying off student loans. While you may feel good to be finally done, there’s no future borrowing flexibility if you need this money later.

Building a 401(k), Roth, or other retirement plan. A few of the retirement choices may be accessed in a pinch when you know the strict IRS rules governing them. When used according to the rules, ‘borrowing’ from these accounts may appear to have little dollar cost (compared to credit card debt). Used excessively, they have often a bigger hidden cost of robbing tomorrow to pay for yesterday. So use these sparingly and with sincere respect for the debt you owe your future self.

Other types of debts. I can’t cover everything in an article this short. Careful consideration of what debts to focus on paying down and accounts to build up will foster your ability to weather the next Great Recession. Call me and we’ll figure out how best to position your business for the strongest position possible.

Now stop reading about the Strategic Debt Payoff and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

IPhone Apps as Profitability Tools

Upgrading my iPhone 3 to an iPhone 4 may seem like an unnecessary up grade, but hear me out. Many look to their iPhones for cool games and music, a few cool grocery, gas, and gadgets they can share with their friends. Not me; I am a total productivity gal. In my opinion, the evolving tools worth seeking on iPhone transcend beyond mere productivity, they are starting to make a difference in profitability.

We hear time and again that “the fortune is in the follow up”. Those of us who build our businesses based on relationships can attest, it takes lots and lots of follow up. Consider some of these simple, yet essential tools available on iPhone.

MailMe Voice – is a handy little app that lets you send an instant voice message directly into your email inbox. With simply two taps of the screen you can talk capturing something you want to follow up. Say, something you remembered while you were driving or you just promised to someone while you were on the cell phone. That way whatever you promise someone gets recorded even if you can’t take the time to write it down right now. Besides, this is much safer.

MailMe Text – Also very handy, will email yourself a very quick text note. For example, a reminder when you are in a meeting and want to send yourself a follow up for later. For example, I do a lot of my research at nights and mornings when I am at my computer and therefore working on the tasks assigned.

iPhone 4 Camera – I meet a lot of people and receive a lot of business cards. The camera in the iPhone 4 is crisp enough to take a picture of the card so I can email it to my assistant for data entry into MS Outlook, my primary contact manager. This is the only item on this list that really needed an iPhone 4; all the others work just as well on version 3.

Digits Calculator – Most calculators seem such a low-tech item barely worth mentioning. Digits, however, has a history tape like the old adding machine, that shows your past entries. That way if you are entering a string of numbers, and you mistype one, you can edit it. Great for when you are estimating for a ballpark price proposal and the client wants to change some assumptions along the way.

Omni Invoice – If you are selling parts that have services or services that occasionally include parts, this is a great tool. It lets you build custom proposals consisting of parts and service hour estimates and then email them right away. You can quickly turn the proposal into an invoice and send it without going back to your office.

So how do these apps help with profitability? Doing what you told someone you would do, is the hallmark of integrity. Following up is what makes others want to do business with you. Following up quickly, helps you close sales and get paid faster. And that is what leads to profitability.

Have a little gadget that you’d love to share with other self employed, email me below.

Now stop reading about the IPhone and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Are You Shortening Yourself at Work on Your Invoice

If You Sell Your Services, You’re Getting Paid Too Little

If you sell services, you may be working for free. When I’m working with self employed business owners who sell services, I nearly always find that they are not billing for some part of their work.  That is, their invoices are missing what they could get paid.  These lost billings can be the difference between making a living and having money for business and family security, expansion, and retirement.

Here are the major ways self employed professionals and contractors are losing money in their invoices:

Not writing down your worked hours daily. Lax time tracking leads to missing dollars on your invoices.  If you are charging time and materials, your customer has already agreed to pay for this time.

Not billing quickly for work completed. When you wait a couple weeks to invoice, the ‘newness’ has already worn off of the wonderful job you did.  This leads to customers questioning the invoice more often, leading to slower pay and sometimes challenging the invoice.  Either way you’ve lost money.

Missed additional services. When you hear your customer say, “hey, could you fix this thing over here…”, that’s the sound of appreciation and opportunity.  If you discuss the additional cost as soon as the customer makes the request, their most likely response will be “That’s fine.”   If you wait till you later invoice, or worse yet miss it, you may be losing money on your invoices. Extras clients most likely knew they would pay for but now assume they won’t because you didn’t mention it at the time.

Multiplying these issues with employees. If you miss invoicing opportunities on our own work, I guarantee your employees are too.  They follow your example, pay less attention to the money than you do, and generally get paid by the hour (sometimes even if the customer did not get billed for that hour.)

When my clients find, systematically reduce, and capture these lost billings they find the money to build operating reserves, pay themselves more, build expansion funds, and increase their retirement savings.  This often happens without working extra hours. In many cases it also saves time.

So how do you do it?   That’s the part that takes a little time, thought, and process.  Here’s one new solution that I’ve seen work well.  There’s an iphone application that allows contractors to quickly build quotes either while on the customer site or shortly thereafter, such as during a coffee break.  This application quickly turns the quote in to an invoice after adjusting for the actual hours worked and materials used.  Thus both the quote and invoice can be done quickly, usually the same day as the job.  Since it is easy to add hours on the go, it can be quickly adjusted to reflect actual time spent.  Finally, since it is simple to use as well as economical, employees can use it as well.

If you’d like to discuss profits through better invoicing or to find other ways to build your own profits without working harder so you can build a healthier financial future, give me a call.

Now stop reading about Your Invoices and start doing! Let’s create YOUR personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

SYSTEM – Save YourSelf Time Energy & Money

How many yellow sticky notes can you juggle before they mysteriously start crawling away?  In desperation, you start doing things the same way each time and voila you’ve developed a system! Let’s take it to the next level; actively search for routines you can systematize.

Save YourSelf.  It’s your business so the benefits of more saved time, energy, and money will flow to you.

Time.  By doing things the same way each time, you have the tools, forms, and answers closer to-hand saving you time.  You’ll spend less time tweaking the tools, finding the forms, and searching for solutions. Systems can be trained into employees, so you’ll be able to delegate confidently, leaving you to spend that time elsewhere.

Energy.  Let’s face it; it’s exhausting making dozens of decisions and creating new ideas every day.  Systematizing may improve those numbers to a more energizing level.

Money.  Also you’ll save money. When you’ve created systems, you can spend less money paying for customization, special skills, and training.  Starbucks delivers high quality, high value, high priced products, yet delivers it with minimum wage employees.  Using systems, you’ll be able to measure and fine tune your results.  Only through repetition can you hone your skills to see where faster, cheaper, better results can be achieved.

Here’s an example.   When I meet new people, I use a simple follow up system.

1)   I send them a hand written note card so they’ll remember me.  I have blank cards, stamps, and an assistant to help make this fast, easy, and meaningful.

2)   My intern enters them immediately into my contact management system.  So if I need to follow up by phone or email, they’re in my iphone quickly.

3)   I add details about their interests next time we meet. Thus, I can learn what they’re interested in, so I can make suggestions or referrals and remember what’s important to them.,

4)   I send them emails of my upcoming events, seminars, and socials; but only if I think they’d be interested.

5)   About the 4th or 5th time I ‘chat’ with someone, I have an idea if any of my services or products would make sense to them so I can make a helpful offer rather than an intrusive sales pitch.

6)   Once a week, I look for my ‘network’ of connected people using Internet social networking services LinkedIn and Facebook.  I get notices of their profiles being updated (new job, new project, new interest).  I compliment, congratulate, commiserate or contribute in a meaningful way depending on what’s happening in their lives.

7)   I use referral groups like PRE (professional Referral Exchange, LEADS and WIN (Women in Networking) to meet, connect with, and find referrals for others.

This system steadily increases the ‘connectedness’ I have with ever larger number of people. It becomes easier to spend my time and energy thinking of ways to really help people since my system handles the mechanical part of deciding when and how to connect and keeps the tools near to hand.

If you are looking for better systems to connect to more entrepreneurs in a meaningful way to build your business, ask me about the new Greater Reading Chamber’s LEADS program or a group in your area. Drop me an email or give me a call.

Now stop reading about Saving yourself Time Energy and Money and start doing! Let’s create YOUR personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Measuring your Referral Network

First the real question.  Do you measure your referrals and where your customers originated?  It really isn’t difficult if you just want to get started.  A tally sheet kept at the cash register, a customer database, even a 29-cent Palm Pilot (a pocket-sized spiral notebook) will get you an initial measure.

Why track client referrals? If you know how much time, energy and money went into getting your clients, you can see which methods you want to keep when you are looking for expenses to cut.  You would cut the one that was least effective, not the one that was most expensive. Alternatively, when looking for more customers, you’d want to expand the programs that are most effective.

Be careful what you track. A common approach is to measure the final trigger that ‘caused’ the prospect to become a customer; for example, being introduced by an existing client.  That, however, leads to some inaccurate conclusions.  For example, I have 69 clients that have come directly from my networking efforts (PRE, Chamber mixers, Church, Boy Scouts, etc).  Those people have introduced me to another 90 clients.   It would be easy to say that the 90 came from ‘client introductions’, while only the 69 came from networking.  That would lead me to the false conclusion that I should focus primarily on client introductions to build my future business.  Especially since those are virtually free; there are no dues or mailing costs and it takes very little time to generate them (except of course for the hard work I do to earn client satisfaction).   However, if I had not done the original networking effort to get the first client, they wouldn’t have been able to introduce me to their friends and family.  It’s like trying to have grandchildren without first having children!

Measure the lifetime value of a referral source. Instead, I include in my metrics for each networking group, the full count of original clients and the people they introduced to me. Thus, all 159 clients came from networking. That tells me I should keep networking and look for new ways to network. So, the lifetime value of my involvement in PRE, for example, includes all the clients that have been introduced to me by people who first became clients from PRE.  That total is 31 with 18 of those being second or third generation.

Oh, and yes I should keep on doing a good job for my clients so they keep introducing me to their friends and family.

Now stop reading about Your Referral Network and start doing! Let’s create YOUR personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

Follow Up Fatal Flaws: Why Self-Employed Fail at this Most Basic Sales Skill

Okay, I admit it.  I don’t always follow up promptly every time.  And when I don’t, it ruins my whole week; I feel like a complete fool. I resolve to get better, put in a place a fail-proof, simpler follow up system and get on with my life.  So here are my pitiful, real life reasons for not following up and what I am doing about them.

“I lost your card.” Maybe men don’t have this problem, but I sometime have no pockets, my purse is not nearby, or my day timer has a loose sleeve and the cards fall out.  Maybe it’s just that I have too many places to put the business cards I receive.

So I bought a business card holder.  In fact, I bought 2, one for my purse for casual meetings and one for my carry-all, a bag that holds a laptop, notebooks, or folders, for business meetings.   If I receive a card, it goes into the business card holder, right after I write what the person was interested in and what networking event I met them at.  The card doesn’t come out until it’s ready to be put it into my sales management system.

“I forgot to call you.” We are all busy especially if we’re successful.  Yellow sticky notes no longer count as a reminder system.  And your memory is what you forget with. Let’s stop feeling bad about this and put in a system.

I started using Google Tasks <http://mail.google.com/mail/help/tasks/>.   It is always on, sits next to my calendar, and takes only seconds to add an entry. My iPhone can get to it and so can my assistant.  So I can enter tasks from anywhere as well as delegate simple tasks like sending information (if that’s what I promised you) or having her call to set an appointment for me, which I tell people if I promised to set up a meeting.

When I schedule my meetings, there’s typically a little time between them, so I can review my task list and make a quick call if that’s what I promised.

“It’s been too many days and now I’m too embarrassed to call.” My life is about paperwork, calling people back, and meeting with them face-to-face.  Sometimes with too many meetings stacked back-to-back, my task list gets too long to get everything done quickly enough to suit me.

First of all, get over it.  Many people don’t call you back for a week, and you forgive them, so forgive yourself.  Just be honest and apologize genuinely.

Now fix your system. Set a personal commitment that your follow up calls/emails/mailings will occur within 48 hours.  Then put it on your dashboard and measure yourself.  It’s amazing how focusing on and measuring a result will produce dramatic improvement.  Even if you don’t reach 100%, your success rate at prompt follow up will skyrocket.

Do I feel like a failure for exposing myself this way? No.  I work with self employed people everyday; they share their own foibles.  I’m not alone and neither are you. My clients and I work on easy, simple, no cost ways to measure and improve profits.  Follow up is free and profitable, so every self employed person should build their skill.

What have you done lately to improve your follow up?

Now stop reading about follow up and start doing! Let’s create YOUR personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.

The “Five R’s” of Recovery Marketing

While many self employed are still focused on survival; now is the time to plan for growth.  The recovery is underway; those with the stamina, drive, and forethought to enhance marketing efforts now will see the benefits in increased sales.

Your clients and customers have had a tough couple years.  Between reduced incomes and general fears of the economy, they’ve been forced them to rethink what and how they buy.  Customers have been cutting their spending by 1) trading down to less expensive alternatives, 2) delaying buying where they can, and 3) eliminating what was merely nice-to-have.

Whatever business survival tactics you’ve have been forced to use during the recession, recovery is the time to focus on rebuilding your client loyalty and sales momentum.  Your future market share growth depends on the strength of your existing customer loyalty and newly gained momentum.  If you are successful at convincing people of your appeal and difference from the competition, you’ll grow sales and market share.

Your recipe will be unique to you, but when creating your claw-back strategy, consider these five ‘R’s for Recovery:

Remind people

Frequently and in new ways, remind people that your product/service still offers the best solution to specific problems. Increase your advertising. In particular, add some of the new technologies that share voice and video in new ways to reach new audiences. New media increases the perception that your solution has the performance, recognition, and differentiation to solve customer problems in new ways.  If you can’t spend more, make sure your efforts are well spent. Pre-test your ads, videos, and voice before committing full-out to make sure they invoke the desired response.

Restore confidence

If you have a premium brand, offer affordable new formats such as cheaper packaging. Reinforce that you are not only still in business, you’re focused. Focus your attention on how well your product solves the problem and with uncommon value. Celebrate with positive and upbeat messages that confirm your product’s core benefits. A positive tone helps restore consumer confidence.

Re-establish differentiation

While the price of many things went down during the recession, premium products mostly maintained their relative price. That is, their value still commands a better price, however reduced. During this recovery, reframe your value. Seek to restate your value in new ways so you’ll both restore and retain perceptions of differentiation. This will help you sustain a premium price.

Seldom do consumers buy based on price alone. Focus on your benefits and how the customer gains an advantage using you. Convenience and effectiveness always sell, particularly when people can afford to be doing something more enjoyable. If your brand lacks a compelling functional benefit, focus on emotional

differentiation. If people have an emotional connection to your brand, they will want to return to it even if they must choose cheaper alternatives until the slowdown is over.

Relaunch

A compelling innovation can help regain customers who have traded down. Create well publicized easier to use packaging, new colors, flavors, or combinations.  This gives customers an excuse to come back if they had traded down during the recession. But don’t change just for the sake of it. Focus on the benefit of the change in the customer’s mind.

Rally the troops

Mission critical to the recovery is your ability to focus on delivering a positive customer experience. Motivated, energized, and focused people on your team will bring your client experience up to new levels.   Involve them in the decision making, the design, and the delivery.

The road to recovery is likely to be a bumpy one. Especially this recovery, which right now looks more like a meander than a highway. Don’t wait for the news to tell you that the recovery is underway. Some products and services recover earlier while others lag. Remember, economists tell you 6 months later that the recovery started 6 months ago.  We need only look at the lines in our favorite restaurants, to see that people have begun spending.

If you are ready for the recovery, you’ll be first in line to win back customers and re-engage clients. Being fast and first in your recovery strategy will not only help you capitalize on improved consumer sentiment, but also counter your competitors.

Now stop reading about (The “Five R’s” of Recovery) and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at merralee@captureprofits.com.