Direct Response Tool-Reflection

My previous posts explained my “two-step” direct response tool. I plan to catch the attention of my ideal clients on social media with a grand opening flyer and proceed to give real life quotes from college coaches on recruiting criteria for those who are interested in The Circle Training Facility. After creating an advertisement on Facebook and getting the first step of my marketing tool out to potential customers, I wanted to know what would make them open or read the mail I sent for step two or the second part of the direct response tool.

I felt that my primary target market would be too young to give feedback on the envelope or content within my letter, so I decided to pinpoint the secondary target market, the parents or guardians. I specifically asked my clients what are you looking for when you receive mail? What entices you to open the mail? What encourages you to read the entire document?

The three components that were mentioned included:

  1. Personalization
  2. Eye catching material
  3. Something worth while (freebie, coupon, etc.)

Following my conversations, I thought of several ideas. The customers want personalization, but maybe to catch their attention, I would address the letter to Future College Softball Player. In the body of the letter I would direct it to the individual and the family but first start with something intriguing. For the eye catching material, I would experiment with designing the envelope to mimic a softball as well as using bright colors. The letter will have plenty of content but I plan on using several pictures, personal and photos of clients, to establish trust with potential clients. I didn’t really think about adding something of value but when I think of opening my personal mail, I would love to see a coupon or read I can win a free gift. By adding that element to the message, I feel it would keep attention to read the entire document. If adding a free skill lesson or presenting a coupon for a discount will entice the clients to give undivided attention and read my proposal, I would be willing to add that gift in hopes of gaining more customers.

The “Two-step” direct response tool is an excellent marketing technique. It leaves your customers wanting more information and then offers free tips, research, information, or coupons in return. This approach promotes the business and also establishes trust between company and customer. Thank you to those of you who participated in giving feedback for step two. Getting attention is the number one priority but following up with a strong response establishes trust and reduces risk when purchasing from a business.

Direct Response Tool- Step 2

Once a customer is interested in our business, from an advertisement or word-of-mouth, we will mail or email the second part of our Direct Response Tool.

The biggest obstacle to overcome when wanting to play college softball is being recruited. Below is the document we will provide that gives young athletes direct quotes from college softball coaches on their recruiting criteria. This information can really help athletes and their families in the recruiting process.

College Coach Recruiting Criteria

 

The Circle Training Facility Presentation Reflection

Public speaking tends to be a struggle for most people. The thought of standing up and talking in front of a crowd make some so afraid that the fear is defined as glossophobia. Public speaking is not my forte, but I’m glad I was pushed to step out of my comfort zone and present my business plan to the local community. Presenting is an excellent way to communicate with potential customers and create brand awareness.

After reading Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen, I decided to use social media to promote the presentation by advertising on Facebook. I created a Facebook page for my aspiring business and posted an event that included the time, location, and date.

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Several of my personal friends liked the page and a couple committed to attend the presentation by clicking “Going” to this event. You will notice that some also chose the “Interested” in attending button as well; meaning they are not fully committed but would like to possibly attend. Barbara Byerly, in particular, shared and posted about the presentation. The screenshot below also shows the 6 people interested and 7 people going to the event. By sharing my event, Barbara exposed The Circle Training Facility Page to all her friends and also made it known to all our mutual friends that she was going to support. Sharing posts, photos, or events increases buzz amongst the market and generates much more attention.

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My business plan aims to help young softball players compete at the collegiate level. I was pleased to have travel ball coaches, parents, and softball players in the audience.

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Before I gave details about the business, I expressed my frustrations with the recruiting process as a college coach and revealed researched frustrations from currents coaches, players and parents. Once I informed them of the need, I described how The Circle Training Facility would not only benefit individuals, but also assist in growing the sport.

presentation

Following the presentation, I opened it up for any questions from the audience. I spoke with a parent about the ideal time frame to begin the recruiting process and also discussed other alternatives in getting college exposure other than playing in tournaments. Talking with a travel ball coach made me feel like he would pass along my advice to his team and other teams in the organization.

presentation 2

Because of our common interests, I conversed with several parents about Western Carolina’s hitting philosophy and was also introduced to a new product that supports our teachings. The product is called The Wedge and it helps young athletes use their legs to generate more power while hitting. I plan to research the product more and possibly purchase the device to help our college athletes!

Thank you to all who attended my professional presentation and because of this awesome experience, I plan to continue being an advocate of college softball and sharing my thoughts and ideas with others in the community.

 

 

 

References:

Kerpen, Dave. Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook. New York; McGraw Hill. 2011.

 

https://www.facebook.com/TheCircleTrainingFacility/

Social Media: The Future Marketing in Business

Much has changed since the start of the 21st century, especially with advances in technology. Recent inventions include the creation of iTunes in 2001, iPhone in 2007, electric cars in 2003, YouTube in 2005, Blu-ray players in 2006, Facebook in 2004, and solar shingles in 2005 (Busse, William. “Innovations of the 21st Century: 10 of the Best Inventions in Recent History”). Inventors typically come up with an original idea or modify a product/service in order to cater to a perceived need or desire. For example, iTunes removed the clutter of cassettes and CDs giving the user the ability to download favorite music and storing it all on one easily, accessible device (iPod/iPhone).

Keith Terrel, owner of an online marketing agency, talks about the history of social media. Originating in 1997, social media began as a website called Six Degrees where people could connect and communicate with friends and loved ones. “By the year 2000, around 100 million people had access to the internet” (Terrel, Keith. “The History of Social Media”). Still looked at as a hobby, social media was a platform to chat with friends, discuss popular topics and interact for dating purposes. In 2003, MySpace and LinkedIn initiated the social media boom, soon to be followed with the launching of the number one social media website in the world, Facebook.

In the book, Likeable Social Media, Dave Kerpen explains to entrepreneurs the benefits of social media in relation to both marketing efforts for growth and success of a business. “Facebook is the number one social network in the world, with more than 600 million people using the service and a growth rate of nearly one million users per day” (Kerpen, Dave. pg. 228). Kerpen encourages owners to build a Facebook page for potential and current customers to use as a source of information and a place to develop relationships. Customers feel much more comfortable buying a product/service from someone they trust, from gathering data presented online through reviews and/or references from friends. It’s critical that once a business engages in social media, they become consistent and timely, making certain to be available to customers. Although social media is an excellent approach to generating more customers and sales, if used improperly, this platform can ruin a business with negative feedback. “Word of mouth”, so to speak, travels at lightning speed online and can significantly make or break the company.

Facebook is by far the most popular form of social media due to the variety of plug-ins (like, share, recommend, and livestream button), but other forms of media like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. may appeal more to other customers. It is important to identify your ideal client and market niche, and then use strategic marketing techniques on those specific platforms. For example, if your target audience enjoys scrolling through pictures, Instagram may be the best form of media. On the other hand, if your consumers prefer watching videos, marketing efforts should be structured to sharing on YouTube. The name of the game is public exposure (generating likes on Facebook, collecting positive reviews on trip advisor, acquiring thousands of followers who will read your posts) and building trust amongst customers (polls about new products/services, responding to questions and concerns, resolving issues). Businesses are becoming required to use social media with the intention of competing in the market and should experiment with each platform to find the best target niche.

 

 

References:

Busse, William. Bright Hub: “Innovations of the 21st Century: 10 of the Best Inventions in Recent History”. 5 May 2011. Web. 15 July 2016. http://www.brighthub.com/office/entrepreneurs/articles/86314.aspx

Kerpen, Dave. Appendix. Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook. New York; McGraw Hill. 2011.

Terrel, Keith. History Cooperative: “The History of Social Media”. 16 June 2015. Web 15 July 2016. http://historycooperative.org/the-history-of-social-media/

 

 

 

Harvesting: The Exit Strategy

When I think of harvesting, I immediately picture farmers gathering homegrown crops in hopes of obtaining a large amount of profit. In business, harvesting is somewhat similar and also known as an exit strategy. All entrepreneurs should have a written exit strategy in the business plan in order to prepare for selling a prosperous business or securing any leftover wealth in the event of failure.

The purpose of harvesting is to provide a method and time frame for payment for equity investors. “The waiting period is normally three to five years. The actual length of time depends on the complexity of the company and the nature of its industry” (Crawford, Charles. “What is a Harvest Strategy in a Business Plan). According to Dale Traxler, an ecommerce veteran and co-founder/CEO of an online jewelry supplier distributor, you should always be prepared with an exit strategy. His reasoning includes: unexpected offers that arise, health or family crisis, economic shift, technological shift, available options, age, product trends change, and wear and tear (Traxler, Dale. “The Importance of an Exit Strategy).

There are two primary harvesting methods: IPO (Initial Public Offering) and selling to another business/person. An IPO is fairly rare but “with an IPO, the investors might see a dramatic rise in the value of their shares. The company will then be a public company, so they will have to operate under more regulations” (Traxler, Dale. “The Importance of an Exit Strategy). Selling to someone else, be it merging with another company or being bought out by someone who currently works at the business, the entrepreneur has more freedom to negotiate. In the unfortunate event that a business goes bankrupt, a liquidation strategy may be put into effect. According to invesotpedia.com “The company’s operations are brought to an end, and its assets are divvied up among creditors and shareholders, according to the priority of their claims”. Every business has different criteria, but in the end, an entrepreneur should be knowledgeable in each of the harvesting strategies and plan for a positive exit the best they can.

In conclusion, a harvesting strategy or exit plan is critical when dealing with investors. Providing an exit plan reassures that the entrepreneur’s goal is to make as much money as possible before passing the reins to someone else who can continue growing the business or leave while ahead and gain a significant amount of income. “If the business plan does not contain a harvest strategy, that could be an indication that the founders intend to run it indefinitely as a lifestyle business” (Crawford, Charles. “What is a Harvest Strategy in a Business Plan?). This seemly minor detail will cause investors to question entrepreneur’s mindset (favorable benefits like higher salaries that are not given to outside investors) resulting in no financial assistance from investors.

 

References:

Amis, David and Stevenson, Howard. Chapters 42-48. Winning Angels: The 7 Fundamentals of Early Stage Investing. London; Financial Times Prentice Hall. 2001.

Crawford, Charles. Chron: “What is a Harvest Strategy in a Business Plan?”. Web. 23 June 2016. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/harvest-strategy-business-plan-52874.html

“Liquidation”. Investopedia.com. Web. 23 June 2016. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/liquidation.asp

Traxler, Dale. Practical Ecommerce: “The Importance of an Exit Strategy”. 31 May 2013. Web. 23 June 2016.

http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/4046-The-Importance-of-an-Exit-Strategy

Supporting: Choose Your Investor Wisely

The amount of work that goes into starting a business can be overwhelming and even frustrating at times. The startup phase and first round of business is a grueling grind for the entrepreneur and unfortunately, most companies do not survive. Entrepreneur Neil Patel claims, “nine out of ten startups will fail” (Patel, Neil “90% Of Startups Fail: Here’s What You Need To Know About The 10%). With a failure rate at 90%, an entrepreneur should strongly consider selecting an investor who will support the business and be a reliable advisor.

Entrepreneurs have enough on their plate just handling the day-to-day operations and could greatly benefit from an experienced investor’s support. Support is not limited to finances but knowledge, direction and advice. Amis and Stevenson, in the book Winning Angels, explain the different roles an investor can play in supporting their entrepreneur. The five fundamentals roles include a silent investor, reserve force, team member, coach, and controlling investor (Amis, Stevenson. pg. 249-250). Depending on the experience of an entrepreneur and welfare of the company, one can determine the amount of support needed from the investor. “J. Freear and colleagues classify informal investors into three categories: investors with experience in entrepreneurial ventures, investors with no experience but still interested in participating in start-up management, and inexperienced-uninterested investors” (Mourdoukoutas, Papadēmētriou. pg. 30). Mourdoukoutas and Papadēmētriou describe investors in a different light, but again, factors that influence the supportive style of an investor rests on the entrepreneur and the well being of the business.

Gary Vaynerchuk became a prolific angel investor and venture capitalist shortly after graduating from college. He currently invests in Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Uber, and Birchbox and is a co-founder of a $25million investment fund, VaynerRSE. Gary always gives the following advice to all of his first-time entrepreneurs:

  1. Be practical about your money- “They do not have a funded business and haven’t raised capital or they only have six months worth of money to make their business goal come true and run out of cash” (Vaynerchuk, Gary. “My Advice for First-Time Entrepreneurs). He also comments that those who are well funded are not focused on building a profitable business causing them to remain stagnant.
  2. Realize that building a business is a huge time commitment- “You are in such a Code Red zone that every minute needs to be allocated for your business. This even includes time with your family. It’s a substantial sacrifice and you have to realize the level of commitment that is required” (Vaynerchuk, Gary. “My Advice for First-Time Entrepreneurs). Before diving into a business, priorities must be in order or suffer with the other 90% of failed businesses.
  3. Hold yourself to your word- Especially when you have no established brand and just starting a business, it becomes critical to keep your word. “Not only is your business’s brand at stake, but your personal brand and reputation too. Poor business decisions could put your status as an entrepreneur at risk” (Vaynerchuk, Gary. “My Advice for First-Time Entrepreneurs).

All entrepreneurs need and/or want support. Experienced investors can introduce an entrepreneur to social capital (customers), give advice from previous investments (both positive and negative experiences), and contribute to the growth of a business. Not all investors are experienced or interested in substantially helping the entrepreneur, focusing solely on their financial return. Invest in people and that is directed to both investors and entrepreneurs. Find someone who will support the business and personally want nothing but success for all people involved.

 

 

References:

Amis, David and Stevenson, Howard. Chapters 42-48. Winning Angels: The 7 Fundamentals of Early Stage Investing. London; Financial Times Prentice Hall. 2001.

Mourdoukoutas, Panos and Papadēmētriou, Stratos. Nurturing Entrepreneurship: Institutions and Policies. Greenwood Publishing Group. 2002.

Patel, Neil. Forbes: “90% Of Startups Fail: Here’s What You Need To Know About The 10%”. 16 January 2015. Web. 21 June 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/neilpatel/2015/01/16/90-of-startups-will-fail-heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-10/#6768598455e1

Vaynerchuk, Gary. “My Advice for First-Time Entrepreneurs”. May 2016. Web. 21 June 2016. https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/advice-first-time-entrepreneurs/