Author: Christina Giordano

3 Approaches to Brainstorming a Business Idea

3 Approaches to Brainstorming a Business Idea

As a marketing consultant, brainstorming ideas is one of my favorite things to do. It’s an opportunity to be creative, shut down the inner critic, and just have funs. If you’re looking to come up with a business idea or expand your business in new ways, this blog will help you through three approaches to brainstorming business ideas

The first step is to open up a new document or your journal and write at the top: “Business Idea Brainstorm.” The outcome in this exercise is to come up with 10 business ideas and have fun doing it. You are more than welcome to come up with more than 10 ideas, but you must have at least 10. 

We’re coming up with 10 ideas is because it’s a big enough number to inspire you to mentally stretch yourself so that you can come up with new insights and new connections. Plus, once you start to organize and test your ideas for viability, you’ll be able to eliminate a few ideas quickly. This is a good thing as it will keep you focused. When you’re ready, dive into the three approaches below. 

3 Approaches to Brainstorming a Business Idea

Approach #1: Scratch Your Own Itch – Several entrepreneurs have found success solving problems they have themselves. They bring new services or products to the market that provide solutions to the problems they face. So, think about your own life. Is there are recurring problem or frustration that you wish there was a better solution for? 

Approach #2: Consider Your Strengths, Skills & Interests – I personally believe that we are all born with a unique set of strengths, talents and skills. There are problems in this world that you are uniquely qualified to help solve. So, get curious about who you are and what you do naturally. How can you use your strengths, skills and interests to solve problems for others?

Approach #3: Shop Around for Inspiration – Go idea shopping by checking out other businesses in industries that you are interested in. Chances are other companies exist in a market that you’re interested in that can help inspire your own business ideas. What can you do better or differently in a totally unique way?

Once you have your ideas, review them and think about which ones are viable. Consider the revenue model – can you make money with this idea? What about the competition – is there any and how can you stand out? Think about the market – who are they and how can you position your product or service in a way that makes their lives easier, more convenient and more joyful? 

As you define your idea and develop a strategic plan to execute it, you’ll be well on your way to running a profitable business! And if you need help, you know who to call. 🙂

4 Essential (and Simple) Rules for Copywriting-2

4 Essential (and Simple) Rules for Persuasive Copywriting

Need your copywriting to stand out a bit more? Here are 4 writing tricks that will instantly make you more persuasive.

These copywriting tricks are simple but massively important!

  1. Do talk with one person at a time. 

Have you ever started emails or videos with “Hi everyone” or talk about “all of you out there” all the time? Well, chances are, people aren’t reading your emails or watching your videos in groups. They’re going to read and tune in to your content individually and will likely want to feel as though you are connecting with just them.

  1. Do use contractions.

Contractions are okay! I’m vs. I am. We’re vs. We are. Gone are the days of formal-sounding communication. You want to sound human, more personal and more conversational. Contractions make your copy instantly sound more persuasive and easy to read. 

  1. Do use specific numbers to quantify your ideas. 

In your content, are you giving readers “time saving tips” or are you giving readers “three tips that’ll save you at least an extra hour per day?” Are you selling “healthy smoothie recipes” or are you selling “365 healthy smoothie recipes, a different one for each day of the year?” Can you tell the difference? Which ones sound more persuasive? 

  1. Do use concrete instead of abstract language. 

This is a big one! You must know the difference between concrete and abstract language. Example: Get toned triceps vs. transform your body. One is specific and concrete, and the other is general and abstract. The goal with this rule is to always use concrete, specific language that engages the reader and really helps them picture their situation.  

More copywriting tips are coming soon, especially in the next e-newsletter this month. Want more tips that you can use for your business? Join to get access to them!

25 Free List Building Techniques

25 Free List Building Techniques

All entrepreneurs need list building strategies. However, when first starting a business, you may not have the funds needed to invest in advertising or expensive marketing. This is why using free list building strategies is imperative to growing your business. 

But keep in mind – there’s a hustle at the beginning. It’s the tough work, the grunt work and the hard work that nobody wants to do. Here’s the thing though, nobody can do this step for you. You have to choose the strategies on your own and you have to be creative. If you’re committed to changing lives and having a long-term profitable business, you must build an audience. 

Building your list takes time, so you have to be patient. There is no such thing as an overnight success.

Below you will find 25 free techniques you can use to build your list.

  1. Include clear and specific calls to action in all of your content marketing. 
  2. Make it easy for people to share your content either through social media channels or forwarding options in emails.
  3. Use a pop ups on your site.  
  4. Optimize thank you pages with referral requests or social sharing prompts. 
  5. Highlight a piece of your blog content on a social media platform and start a conversation around it.
  6. When at events, bring an iPad and sign up people on the spot.
  7. Keep SEO in mind when you create content. 
  8. Consider a HelloBar on your site to tease a specific offer.
  9. Be helpful and kind on forums.
  10. Be generous and offer testimonials for other businesses.
  11. Keep an open mind for collaborations, partnerships or co-sponsored events with colleagues. 
  12. Thoughtfully comment on other people’s blogs. 
  13. Be a case study for vendors.
  14. Create something amazing for your market that everyone just has to share it.
  15. Lead a regular meet-up or event in your town that supports fellow businesses or the community.
  16. Be featured in blogs or in other media or work with influencers.
  17. Get interviewed about your message, your story, your mission, your business, etc.
  18. Do live speaking engagements.
  19. Be a guest in virtual events.
  20. Be a guest teacher in someone else’s program or event.
  21. Guest post on engaged blogs that serve your ideal customer.
  22. Write articles for other people’s newsletters.
  23. Submit your business to directories. 
  24. Create a referral program that incentivizes new clients.
  25. Teach workshops or seminars to generate interest in what you do.

There are, of course, more ways to build your list than what’s listed above. Regardless of whatever you choose to do, always do it from the heart. 

Want more tips like this? Check out the blog for more helpful business and marketing advice!

All about the CTA

The CTA: Don’t Miss Another Sale

Here we’re going to talk about a timeless marketing tactic that can really change how you convert leads to sales. It’s called the Call to Action, or CTA.

The Marketing Tool You Need

Every piece of marketing that you put out there needs to have at least one CTA. Most of us make the mistake of assuming that our customers know what we want them to do next. We forget to put a call to action in every piece of marketing that we create.

Including a CTA is referred to as direct response marketing. You want your prospective customers to see your message and take direct action, like a click or a call or a purchase, in response to your marketing message

Here are some sample CTAs:

  • Click to play the video
  • Reply to this email
  • Leave a comment
  • Click here
  • Buy now
  • Register now
  • Order now

These are the kind of action steps that we want people to take. If your goal is to make sales, you must tell your prospects exactly what to do to take action. However, you don’t want to give them a bunch of different CTAs in one piece of marketing. The general rule of thumb is to have one clear call to action and repeat it several times. Stay focused in each marketing piece in order to make it easy for people to listen to your message and take the desired action. 

So, let’s make sure you’re using clear CTAs with this CTA self-check exercise. 

Step 1: Review all of your marketing materials, from your website to your blog to your email marketing to your social media. Does every piece of marketing out there have one clear, direct CTA? 

Step 2: If not, make a plan to update your copy now, especially on your sales offerings. Moving forward, make sure you always include one CTA for all marketing and promotional assets you create. 

Step 3: When reviewing any marketing or sales material moving forward, ask yourself, “Is it crystal clear the one action I’m asking someone to take?” If not, rework that marketing piece so that there is one clear CTA.

Need help with your CTA placement? Reach out!

CGC - Business Models 101

Business Models 101

This month, I’m talking all about business models, particularly what they are and why you need them!

Basically, your business model (or revenue model) is a roadmap for how your business will make money. In other words, what are people buying from you? Your customers have to pay you for something. Without paying customers, you don’t have a business; you have a hobby.

This sounds incredibly basic! But all too often, I will hear: “I want to start a community to empower women,” or, “I want to curate creative material online.”  When I ask them how they plan to make money from these ideas, they’re not sure. Yes, you can absolutely create a blog or community or a movement, but it wouldn’t be a business until you have people paying for it. A business sells things (like a product or service) to customers in exchange for money.

If you want to build a profitable, sustainable business that you can rely on for income, you must be absolutely clear on what people are buying from you.

Here are some simple and straightforward explanations of what can be purchased from you.

Most businesses sell products or services, or a combination of both.

For example, if you sell jewelry or oils or clothing or wine, you’ve got a product-based business. You deliver a physical product and your customer pays you. Conversely, if you are a coach, yoga teacher, hair stylist, or photographer, you’ve got a service-based business. You deliver a service and your client pays you.

But let’s say you make money offering training or advice, you may have a mix of service and product offerings, such as one-on-one consulting (service) and digital programs (product).

Or perhaps you fall under other categories. Maybe you’re a blogger, and you make money through advertising for companies. Or maybe you’ve created a software, and companies pay you monthly for technology use and support.

So, how will your business make you money?

 

Money Isn't the End Game - Starting a Business for the Right Reasons

Money Isn’t the End Game: Starting a Business for the Right Reasons

In rounding up our entrepreneurship theme for the month of May, let’s talk about why it’s important to start a business for the right reasons.

We’ll begin with a quote: “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” – Dr. Maya Angelou

The gist of this quote is this: Don’t go into business to make money. Success comes when you enthusiastically follow your passion.

Could that be the secret to success?

How many times have you heard people say, “I’m going to start this side business so I can make enough money to quit my day job and do what I really want to do.” Or, “I’m starting this side business so that I can make some passive income while I focus on my real passion.”

And were they successful? Unlikely. Why? Because if your heart isn’t truly in your business, people will feel it. It will be nearly impossible to sustain your business because it doesn’t have heart, passion and purpose.

In today’s hyper-competitive markets, people not only want to feel seen and heard and understood, they want to know that the companies they are supporting care. They want to know that these companies are dedicated to something real and true. These are the companies that have a definitive and inspiring reason for being in the world that goes beyond just financial profit.

Remember this not-so-inspiring fact: nearly half of all businesses fail in the first five years.

Unless you have a strong enough purpose for your company to exist – which means an emotional link between what you’re working to create and why you want it out in the world – you will most likely not follow through on the work that it takes to launch a business and the stamina that it takes to keep it going.

To be an entrepreneur takes a fierce commitment to the hard work day after day after day. The most successful entrepreneurs are not motivated by financial gain. They’re motivated by three things: a drive to make a difference, a deep love of the game, and a desire to use their talents to impact the lives of others.

While building anything from the ground up is incredibly challenging, if you have the right reasons, you’ll have the resilience and perseverance you need to become a success.

Bottom line: don’t start a business to make money, start a business to make a difference.

CGC - Entrepreneurship - Is it Right for You

Entrepreneurship: Is It Right for You?

The first question you have to ask yourself is this: Do you believe that it’s possible for you to run a satisfying, meaningful, and profitable business?

If you answered yes, then you’ve just tackled the first step to becoming an entrepreneur. You know that you want the freedom and satisfaction that comes from using your gifts to make an impact in the world, on your own terms.

But this realization is just the first step.

Now you have to create that business. This is where the problems begin. Many of us have so many ideas, so many dreams, that we are unclear about which business we want to start. Or perhaps we know the overall idea of the brand we want, but we don’t know how to fit all the pieces together.

I’ve seen countless people struggle with this. I’ve struggled with it too within my own business. I had so many ideas, but it was so difficult for me to strategize how they would all fit together. Being unsure about which business to start and how to start triggers feelings of frustration, stress, and self-doubt.

Here are typically the core issues that many entrepreneurs struggle with:

  1. You may lack good ideas.
  2. You may have too many ideas, but you’re afraid to choose the wrong one.
  3. You may have one idea, but you’re unsure if it will work.

Struggling with any of these? If so, you’re in the right place.

Here’s what I’ve learned about entrepreneurship over the years:

  1. Being an entrepreneur requires a tremendous amount of clarity. There is a really great exercise on clarity that I’ve published HERE.
  2. If you’re going to be successful in business, you’re signing up to work hard. It’s a 24/7 hustle over an extended period of time to get to where you want to be. You can find various blogs with tips for how to get started HERE.
  3. In the beginning, you’ll likely work much longer hours for way less pay. This period can last from months to years.
  4. You’ve got to be mentally prepared for rejection and disappointment, which can also be coupled with frustration and self-doubt.
  5. And finally? No matter how smart and passionate and prepared you are, there are no guarantees that it will actually work out.   

Now, I’m not saying any of this to depress or scare you! I’m saying this to empower you.

There’s a lot of risk to entrepreneurship. But the rewards (when they come) are worth it all. Business is exciting. It’s an adventure that involves research, strategy, extreme perseverance, gut instinct, creativity, lots of action, and course corrections. You have to stay vigilant and flexible. You have to continuously challenge yourself and extend yourself outside of your comfort zone. Both you and your business will evolve as you go – there’s no such thing as “coasting” in business. There are no shortcuts or silver bullets. It takes a lot of courage, but also a lot of love for what you do and who you serve.

In order to start the right business, you have to understand and accept the rules of the game. So, do you agree to them?

While there are no guarantees that your business will work, there are ways to set yourself up for the best chance of success. There are tons of business and marketing programs online, but the Empowered Marketing Program and Workshop Series enables you to learn how to market yourself at your own speed in a way that you’re comfortable with. Programs range from one-on-one consulting, to small groups, to material-only. It’s all dependent on what you need and how you prefer to work.

If entrepreneurship is right for you, surround yourself with those that will support you. Get clear about your business vision. Take the necessary, but small, steps you need to take to build momentum (and profits) over time. And above all, make sure that you love your business, your customers, and the work itself. Once you do that, you’ll be well on your way to owning and running a business you love.

CGC - How to Set Your Offerings at the Right Price

How to Set Your Services and Products at the Right Price (& Why I Don’t Like Discounts)

When it comes to pricing, you have to think about your big picture – your overall brand, the competitive landscape, and how you want to position yourself in the broader marketplace.

You will want to create and review a pricing model for each offering you have within your business, whether it’s a service, product or both. For each offering, from a revenue standpoint, keep two things in mind: 1) how your offering fits into your business suite (which is all the things you offer), and 2) how you want to position that particular offering in the broader marketplace.

You’ve got to ask yourself: How much revenue do you want to generate with this offering? And how much of each offering do you honestly think you can sell?

Then you have to know your costs. This includes upfront costs, variable costs, fixed costs, and anything that’s an ongoing cost. What do your profit margins look like when you factor these into your pricing model?

(Note: When you’re making your cost/expense estimates, I recommend making a list of everything you need and then contacting vendors and resources for pricing quotes. If you’re just starting out, I highly recommend you do as much as possible on your own. It’s always best to start as simply and as inexpensively as possible. )

After getting clear with your budgeting, it’s all about running the numbers and making some predictions. If this makes you feel a bit overwhelmed, just remember that we are all making guesstimates. We all have to start somewhere when it comes to pricing, and these projections get us going. My suggestion is to underestimate what you’re going to sell and overestimate what you’re going to spend.

Now, a quick note on discounts: I personally do not believe in discounting.

I believe in providing as much value as possible for the right price, but discounting that price at any point is not recommended, unless you’re beta testing something, or providing a specific service to a valued client base. An example of the former could be when you first launch a new service and you want your current client base to give it a try in exchange for some valuable feedback. In this case, you can discount for a testing phase of your service. An example of the latter could be if you decide to customize one of your services differently for a particular group of people, or a particular client. I often provide a discounted rate of a customized service to a local wellness community that I work with. I’ve been a loyal member of the community since it first started, and I continue to work with the owners regularly, so the discount feels good, and I’m able to provide services for those who may not be able to afford me under regular circumstances.

To some people, discounting makes sense from a marketing and sales perspective, especially when you’re desperate for cash.

However, and unfortunately, discounts are most often perceived as, and representative of, the following:

  • Lack of confidence: If you believe in what you do, you should sell it at the standard price.
  • Bad precedent: You’re setting the standard. As soon as you lower your prices, your customers will start to expect it going forward.
  • Lower perceived value: Most people value something based on its price. Throwing in a discount tarnishes the value you’re trying to provide.
  • Untrustworthiness: Let’s say you’re trying to make a sale, but it’s not going well. If you’re selling your service at its regular price at the start, and then you quickly provide a discount at the end to win the sale, your customer is going to question your honesty.
  • All about the price: The last thing you want to focus on during a sales conversation is the price, and that’s exactly what happens when you offer a discount. It’s hard to sell something based on price rather than value.
  • Profit cuts: What will the discount do to your revenue? You have revenue goals, and the only way to meet them is to stick to your planned pricing model.

So, unless you’re testing a launch of a new product or service, or you’re very comfortable packaging a service at a discounted rate for a particular group, then you shouldn’t discount your services. In the end though, it’s all up to you.

Just remember to do what feels good.