Micro Market Yes – Micro Manage No

  • Posted on March 27, 2009
  • by Alan Blume

In a Virtual Business Model, highly targeted, extremely specific, micro marketing is a great way to differentiate your company and message from the competitive throngs. For example, why market to high tech organizations, when you can market to software companies? Why market to software companies when you can target your marketing to smaller software companies between $5 Million and $25 Million in revenues. Why market to those companies when you can micro market to SaaS software companies (Software as a Service) for example? Now we have a very specific, highly targeted group and we can tailor a message specifically to them. We can even go the extra distance and create a buyer persona for the specific titles we are targeting: CEO, VP Business Development, VP Marketing, etc.
Conversely, in a virtual model we should focus on virtual employee or contractor goals, not their working schedule or process. A graphic artist for example should be paid on a completion date for a final deliverable. Set the goal and the date; don’t manage their time or methodology. Telesales people can be paid upon call production or appointment setting efficacy. Don’t tie them down to specific calling hours (other than it must be general business hours). Let them operate at their peak times and periods of peak efficiency. If you’re using web designers, create a simple process for your personal imprint, initial mockup, full scale mockup and approval. Create a series of milestones (and dates), and manage the results, not their time.
Leveraging the Virtual Model and simplifying your own management process should help optimize your time. After all, you should be virtually managing the results, not the personnel. The Virtual Model minimizes office politics, water cooler time, non productive marathon meetings, and the peripheral gripe sessions. Be more efficient – go virtual.  www.startupselling.com

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Posted in: business, emerging business, Entrepeneurship, Home Office Business, Virtual Business
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Our virtual business is expanding while other, more traditional businesses are in the midst of a major contraction. This spells o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y for those companies which can take advantage of the talented labor pool that is now available. It’s always challenging to hire the best and brightest. But in a virtual model, we can deliver greater value because all of our investments are in people and technology. Thus our prices are often 30% or 40% less for comparable services than our “traditional” competitors. We can deliver better results because we are investing in better talent and current SaaS (Software as a Solution) web based technologies like GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar and SalesForce.com. For our lead generation telesales operation, we are finding amazingly talented people across the country who have been laid off after years of efforts for competing firms. The same holds true for our marketing contractors, web designers, graphics team, writers and editors, all of whom work virtually. And of course, we can target recession resistant industries because our model is highly elastic. Thus, we are enjoying what we hope will be a continued expansion. But if we do ever experience a softening, the virtual model makes it much easier to contract quickly, gracefully and without the typical adverse impact to the bottom line. And everyone who works with us – understands this model. That’s one of the reasons our teams are motivated without the usual “motivation and team building techniques” required in a tradition brick and mortar environment. www.alanblume.com

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Posted in: business, emerging business, Entrepeneurship, Home Office Business, Virtual Business
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Growing a green email list

  • Posted on March 10, 2009
  • by Alan Blume

Over the last nine months we’ve been working with an East Coast insurance agency helping them to grow their email list. This is a classic, virtual, you reap what you sow story. In a recent emailing about changes to medical benefits, this East Coast firm attracted 250 Fortune 1000 type registrants to their web seminar. Email list building is an art and a science. The obvious benefits of email marketing over snail mail include: It’s reusable, it is postage free, it is immediately measurable, it is immediately actionable, it is green and it is highly cost effective. When is the last time that 250 in profile prospects asked to listen to you for 30 minutes?

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GoToMeeting (or comparable web meeting products) is the backbone of any Virtual Business (and most certainly mine). When comparing the cost and efficacy of an on-site meeting located 60 miles away versus a virtual meeting there are many factors to take into consideration:

1. Lost time to be in appearance ready condition
2. Lost travel time going
3. Lost waiting time
4. Automobile costs (not just gas – add wear and tear)
5. Parking and Tolls when applicable
6. Lost travel time returning
7. Lost time to transition back to productivity after return

So let’s calculate this example in a more precise (and compelling way):

1. One HR: Lose an hour to shower, dress for success, get directions to your appointment, pack your laptop, park and walk to lobby (as opposed to a virtual t-shirt and slippers wardrobe)
2. One HR: Lost travel time to drive to appointment
3. 15 minutes: Lost waiting time ensuring you are early and ready for your appointment
4. Auto Costs $66: It’s not just the gas, cars are expensive to operate (120 miles @ .55 mile)
5. Parking: $20 for parking and tolls on average (free in the suburbs and more expensive in the city)
6. One HR: Lost travel time returning
7. 15 minutes: Unpack laptop, reconnect to network, change (who wants to work virtually in a suit), move back into production mode
8. Bonus Loss: Appointments that cancel on-site, doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s a productivity killer

In the example above, an on-site meeting costs $66 (assuming no tolls or parking) plus 3.5 hours of lost productivity. Assuming you earn $100,000 per year ($50 per hour), the lost productivity costs $175. Total loss for the meeting is $241 compared to almost $0 for a GoToMeeting virtual meeting. The most insidious of these losses is moving in and out of production mode. When I’m waiting for my clients or prospects virtually, GoToMeeting is ready, up and running and I’m working in the background. My clients and prospects prefer on-line meetings because they are faster, more efficient and more flexible. If they have to cancel (or I do) production is not impacted. So when calculating “The Cost of Driving to a Business Meeting”, make sure you use the 55 cents per mile metric, not just gas. And build in the lost transition time on top of the lost driving time. You’ll be surprised at the difference in efficiency. At StartUpSelling, 99% of our meetings are done via GoToMeeting (or GoToWebinar) for clients, prospects and our virtual contractor work force. It makes us much more efficient and responsive. After all, when an email or call comes in – we’re at our virtual office and ready to respond.

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Go Virtual – Never Get Fired Again

  • Posted on March 5, 2009
  • by Alan Blume

The more  virtual your business, the more flexible the hours, the lower the overhead, the greater the profit potential, and the easier it is for the entrepreneur or independent sales professional to use their strengths doing what they do best instead of expending energy and money trying to shore up their weaknesses.Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur starting with just a few hundred dollars, a small business scrambling for venture or expansion capital, or a sales professional in insurance, stocks, real estate or any other services business, you need to leverage the virtual model.

It’s easier to succeed in a virtual model and the virtual model can be applied to almost any business. Unlike Ben Franklin’s famous quotation, “A penny saved is a penny earned”, in many virtual business, “A penny earned is a penny saved”! With low or no overhead, revenues produce far more profits. Working for yourself, working from home, working without the encumbrances of traditional brick and mortar, free from rent, overhead, receptionists and commutes, you can be more productive, will achieve greater independence and be rewarded with more flexibility.

For over 5 years I’ve enjoyed this lifestyle and my company, StartUpSelling, Inc. has been successful, profitable and flexible. I love it and the people I work with, all contractors based from their home offices, love it too. Do you have a virtual business? Are you looking to start a new business? Are you ready to leave the rat race? Are you tired of a control freak boss? Have you been laid off, downsized or just plain fired? Let me know your thoughts and experiences about the new trend toward virtual. It’s a better path for many of us!

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