It is important for any business owner to consider the security of the data that they have entrusted to them by their customers and employees. In many cases, losing this data or any type of security breach is going to result in damage to your business and could actually put you out of business. As long as you pay close attention to a few simple rules, you can avoid many of these problems from ever occurring in the first place. Here are a few tips that can help you to get started on making your business as secure as possible.
Many cultures outside of the U.S. work on the basis of relationships. People prefer to work with people they know. Therefore, a cold call is often not the best approach to meeting people and making contacts. If you know someone who is close to the firm that you desire to contact, it may be best to try to first meet your counterparts with the help of this connection. Working with an organization that can assist you with your initial contact can be ideal. Many of these third-party firms are industry-related and advertise frequently in local trade magazines. Other venues through which to meet potential contacts and clients are conferences and trade shows. Many of these shows are held in the United States and it is helpful if you do some pre-investigative work. Alternatively, it is worthwhile, and may be even more beneficial, to target a local trade conference in the region in which you desire to make contacts.Once you have made contacts and collected business cards, follow up with a letter of thanks for these people’s time. Include a press kit, which explains your firm, its products and services, and your position in the firm. If you are planning to visit your potential business partners, request an appointment by letter or fax, if e-mail and phone are not options. Be specific in what you want to cover, who will be traveling with you, and a few suggested dates, then allow time for response to your request. Try to make these arrangements at least three weeks before you travel. You may need this much time to book hotels and flights anyway.
Researching the Firm
In order to be effective in international business it is important that you conduct a fair amount of research on the firms and the marketplace in which you desire to work. An excellent start is to pick up materials and meet distributors at a trade show. Many firms now have web sites on the Internet so it is a good idea to visit them as part of your preparation. There are credible commercial firms such as Dun and Bradstreet (www.dnb.com) that can provide various reports, such a credit report, on companies you might be interested in. If the firm is large, there is a good chance something will be in the files. If the firm is small and does not have a U.S. office, it may be more difficult to gather information. Many companies outside of the U.S. are not required to file reports as American firms must do. Accounting practices vary worldwide, so it may be difficult to get information on some companies. If you are planning to visit a specific country, an excellent web site is http://www.tradeport.org which offers information on various countries, their key exports, current economic situation, etc., compiled from U.S. Department of Commerce data. In addition, try to talk to people who have worked with the companies you are contacting to get an idea of how they conduct business, their positive and negative points, and their management structure and decision-making process.
Creating an Agenda
Once you have made an appointment to meet with business people in another country, it is beneficial to propose an agenda to help your contacts understand what topics you intend to cover at your meeting. Many American businesswomen suggest that if you send an agenda in advance it helps clarify your position as the leader and an important participant in the business meeting. It also helps set the direction of the meeting and what you intend to accomplish.A good agenda usually includes a statement of purpose and some idea of what you want to achieve at the meeting, as well as a list of participants who will attend and how they will contribute to the meeting. In some cultures agendas are not adhered to, because casual discussions used to build relationships are preferred before getting down to business. Other cultures follow agendas more rigidly, and your contacts will expect a fair amount of detail. Before the initial meeting, your proposed agenda may help to initiate a dialogue on what each party expects to cover at the meeting. Give your counterparts plenty of time to review your agenda and respond back with additions or alternative suggestions.
Business cards are very important in many cultures of the world. The information on the card helps identify who you are and your place within your organization. For women, this can help enhance credibility by showing that you are an important member of the firm and where you are in the firm’s hierarchy. Make sure you use a title that is well understood cross-culturally. For example, the titles Manager and Director are usually well understood, but titles such as Specialist may cause confusion.If you have your business cards translated into the language of the country you are visiting before you go, make sure you select a translation firm that is adept with the local language, and then have the cards proofread by someone else who speaks the local language to ensure there are no translation mistakes. Alternatively, some business people prefer to wait until they arrive in the foreign country before they have their cards translated. Many hotels overseas have a business card translation service or can recommend a local firm. Some can translate and print cards in 24 hours, while others take a few days. Be sure to check before you go. Plan to bring a lot of business cards with you, particularly if you will be meeting large groups.
If you have time, call the tourist boards of the countries you’ll be visiting and ask for maps and information on your destination. Major automobile clubs, such as AAA, also have touring books and maps by country for their members, and most libraries have travel books. Many Internet sites offer sightseeing information too. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll find that most hotels also have an English local guide and maps of the city you are visiting. You can usually get a local newspaper on the airplane to read up on the country, events, and local happenings. Most hotels offer local TV news stations and usually one is in English.
Passports and Visas
Travel to any country outside of the U.S. will require a passport. If you do not have a passport, make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to get one. You can find a passport center in your local phone book or by searching for passport applications on the World Wide Web. If you already have a passport, make sure it will not expire during the trip. Also be aware that some countries require that your passport be valid up to six months from the start date of your trip.
In addition to a passport, some countries will also require a visa. Visas allow you entry into a country for a specific period of time; they usually need to be renewed for continued visits. If you are not sure of the requirements of the country you’re planning to visit, check with the U.S. embassy or the foreign embassy in your area. Some agencies process passports and visas at the same time. Make sure you procure enough photos for your passport and visas, although some processing agencies will take photos for you. If you plan to have passport and visa photos taken on your own, determine in advance exactly what you’ll need – how many photos, what size, and what angles are required. For example, a visa photo may require partial side photography to expose your ear, whereas the passport photo is usually a frontal view. Also, certain countries, such as Brazil, may have different visa applications depending on what city in the U.S. you are from, and these requirements may change frequently.
Booking Your Flights
Be sure to ascertain flight availability, flight times, and rates to international destinations well in advance of your trip. Dates that are optimal for you may be holiday times for the people in the country you are planning to visit, and holiday seasons in some countries can last for weeks. This may make it difficult to reserve a flight for a specific date or time, and airline fares tend to increase during holiday seasons. If you are planning to travel to several countries within a particular region, such as Asia, Europe or Latin America, it is usually helpful to work with a travel agent who handles that region. The agent can help you with flight alternatives, hotel alliances, travel packages, and advance notice of special rates on commonly traveled flight paths.
What are the benefits of international business? All you have to do to find the answer to this question is to see what smart investors do on Wall Street. They develop a portfolio that includes international stocks in order to hedge their losses if prices go down in the U.S., and to bolster their chances of gaining lucrative returns from a variety of sources. If you are a small business owner and have a product or a service that has relevancy outside of the United States you may be able to expand your reach into other markets where the shipping costs and taxes are not exorbitantly high. The question is how does someone living, for example, in Great Britain or Germany find out about you? Here are some tips that you should consider following.
In the first place, you will need to have a website that contains what are called “keywords” or “keyword phrases” that people use when searching for certain items. Having a website online without any of these phrases in your text or domain name will serve you poorly when it comes to driving traffic to your site. You can learn how to use online marketing techniques, however, to greatly enhance your visibility factor online, and to use social media to create a promotional campaign that can eventually garner you untold thousands of dollars in profit.
The benefits of international business are yours for the taking, but only if you create a plan for it. Take some time to learn online marketing and social media techniques, and not only can you expand your reach oversees but you can increase your profits at home.
Steve Boston is an author, television producer, boxing trainer and marketing entrepreneur. He helps people start online businesses with little or no investment-no paper, no inventory, no employees, no bosses, and best of all-potential income that can far exceed professional salaries anywhere on the planet in an industry that is unlimited in growth.
If two equally skilled entrepreneurs start a business, why does one build quickly and the other is thinking about quitting? Maybe because one understands that hope is not a good strategy by itself.An entrepreneur will always be held accountable for the risks they take and the outcomes. And, this isn’t just in starting a new business; it can be a new career path that you choose.As a business coach and consultant who works primarily with entrepreneurs, and ministries, revamping their approach to selling and marketing, there is one challenge that I have experienced and often see in others’ endeavors. The problem is defining what is responsible for the marketing, what is a sales funnel, and what to do about advertising.The typical entrepreneur, and ministry, may just not be sure how to ask for the help they need in these areas. And, most don’t even have the time to think about doing anything more. Sure there are specialty businesses that can help with each area – but, once you put together the information with their help – where is the coordination of:
a.Does it appeal to the customer in all areas of marketing?
b.Does the customer understand, through our graphic designs and copy writing that we can help them?
c.Is the customer’s problem being understood and the solution being explained?
d.Do we look self-centered, confusing, or irrelevant to our clients?
As you answer these questions – think about how you could proceed to expand your growth and income.
1. Change from busy work to focusing on outcomes (This is something most of us need!)
2. Structure is not a common term used for the creative types – but, remember an artist needs marketing, selling, and business skills to get known. So, structuring your communications to your customers will need to be clear and specific enough for them get what you are doing for them and also, clear enough for you to follow on a regular basis (a system). Oh, did I mention clear for SEO?
3. Don’t rely on hope and guesswork – Get clear on your business goals, sales goals and marketing objectives. Write out steps that will become systems of success.
Example: Sales goal – $6000/month – how many products need to sale to reach sales goal: 2 products – how many customers do I need to contact each month to sell 2 products: 100. Then find out how you will find those customers and put another system into place to follow through. This is one of the business achievements that I coach on – it is a very successful effort. But you have to make it work – how – by getting it started and making it a routine – it will become your system.
Systems of selling and marketing keep the marketing rolling – not just for one program.
- How can a business find the substance in customer solutions, keyword search relevance, competitive research, hassle-free purchase processes, etc. The goal of marketing and sales is to generate sales from clients as a profit. And, we might want to look at different types of marketing with lower costs of sales – and those that bring in more sales.
If this is a bit overwhelming – why do you think people work with a business coach? People will invest in coaching to develop and refine new skills and behaviors, when: they are tired of dealing with a recurring problem, they want their business to grow more quickly and profitably, and so much more.Get going and do the research by yourself, or get a fresh perspective on your challenges, with a business coach, and increase confidence with appreciable results in your goals and work productivity.
There is a ton of sales and marketing information out there – what is actually worth your time and what isn’t? I’ve read numerous books, listened to plenty of presentations and conducted several training sessions on sales and marketing. Some of it has been junk, some of it has been recycled common sense, but some has been pure gold. What I will do today is try to boil down the key themes (that work) of sales and marketing in five easy to remember chunks.
Why Should You Care?
Why should you care about this, even if you’re title or job description doesn’t have marketing or sales in it? Because EVERYONE sells. If you are not directly selling products or services, you might be selling your boss on giving you a promotion or letting you lead a project, persuading your spouse as to where your next vacation should be, trying to motivate your employees to get things done, selling yourself at an interview to get that job (you packaged your resume in a way that the recruiter bought in – marketing), or developing a product that you think people will want. I could go on about how many things that we do everyday involves sales and marketing. Daniel Pink’s To Sell Is Human book is a great read that I just finished which discusses this very topic and tells of how to increase your salability.
1. Scarcity Drives Demand
No this is not a lesson in economics 101, however it is a rule of economics that holds true. When things are limited or exclusive to a group of people, customers want it. It’s part of the “you want what you can’t have” cliche. Think back to high school. You may have gotten dumped by your sweetie (maybe you weren’t even that crazy about the person). Now that single person is all that you want, all that you can think about. That person just became an extremely scarce resource to you. Okay – common sense, right? However, there are some specifics that make it even more effective.
2. Social Proof
As human beings, we are innately social creatures. This has helped our survival for thousands of years. We look to others for cues on how to live, eat, act, work – on just about everything. It’s only natural that we seek out social proof in order to confirm our purchase decisions. We feel more comfortable in making a decision if we are backed by other people
3. Less is More
Another term we have heard so many times, but is so true. When people are given more of anything it becomes harder to process and make decisions. Here are a few types of the less is more principle in action:
a. When a customer has less choices, they are more likely to purchase. There is a famous study that was done where a seller of jams at one time had a table of 24 varieties and at another time only 6. After completing the experiment researchers found that on average the table with 24 varieties only sold jam to 3% of customers, while the one with 6% sold jam to 30% of customers.
b.In branding and advertising, less words = more. In a world full of distractions and seemingly non-existent attention spans, companies need to battle for mindshare. This is why you should try to associate your brand with 1 to 3 words. What comes to mind when you think of the word “search.” Did you think Google? Another part of using less words is in advertising, the less you put on an ad the more people will read. An ad with two words will catch the attention of many more people than an ad with a paragraph. Simple.
c.Adding can subtract to value. In a study discussed in Pink’s book there was an experiment where a company was selling a two versions of the same program. One had the full package and they also threw in a free book; the other was just the full package. People were willing to pay more for the package without the book. By adding something less valuable on top of another product, the value had gone down in customers minds.
4. The Law of Reciprocity
Human beings all over the world in different cultures and languages act upon the law of reciprocity. If I do something for you, you feel at least somewhat obligated to do something for me. A popular leadership professor, Dr. Robert Cialdini from Stanford University, gave a speech that included this very subject. He wanted to test out this theory, so he began to send Christmas cards to random strangers. Some of these people started sending Christmas cards to him every year, and he continued to send to them, and eventually became friends with these people.When people are given something, they feel obligated to give to you in some way. Many companies give customers a small item or do them a favor, and the customer ends up purchasing from them later. Obviously it’s not a guarantee to success, but it does increase chances of success.
5. Stories and Experiences, Not Things and Benefits
When it comes to selling and the future of selling, the ones who understand how to tell a story and create experiences for their customers will win. Traditionally the selling method had been to have a great product and tell the customer about its benefits. When you get to the core reason for many purchases, people don’t buy because of the benefits. Benefits can be helpful to the customer in the process, but what they want is beyond that.
Now You Are Equipped
You now have the tools that you need to put into practice to become the best salesperson, marketer, entrepreneur, etc. Although this is not an exhaustive list of all sales & marketing techniques, if you get these right the others are insignificant. Actually, many successful marketers and salespeople use just one or two of these ideas really well.