Shakirah DawudEvery word means business.
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Virtual B2B Thought Leadership Content Marketer--Deliberate Ink. Writing, editing, and strategizing content for management, tech, and strategy consulting firms; federal contractors; and startups since 2002.



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Don't forget to ask for referrals. Ask for them, but don't just ask to be referred. With a client, for example, you might want to set aside a moment to talk after the successful conclusion of a project. Ask them who they know that hires designers, and ask whether you can mention the client if you contact them. They'll probably say yes.

You may not have a list long as your arm, but these leads will have a much higher conversion rate--even if sales are not immediate. If you mention your client referred you, they'll be the most likely to respond positively to your outreach. Iif they don't need you at the moment, they're more likely to get in touch with you when they do, because of the connection you have with someone they know and respect.


You're asking three questions:

1. How to hire an outsourcer to generate leads: If you want someone to do your cold calls for you, you need to be very specific as to the script you provide, and the actions taken before, during and after the call to record and maintain records of all communication. That will probably involve software you'll need to train your VA on. The script depends on the outcome you want from each call. That brings us to the second question.

2. How to approach your market: You'll need at least one call script for each market, and you'll need a clear desired outcome for every one of those markets. A conversion from one of those markets is not going to be the same as a conversion from another, and the average value of a conversion from each market will vary, too. This is something you'll learn as you go, so don't set and forget.

3. Whether your market is the right market: You don't have to narrow it down, but if you feel the need to call so many different types of people about your services, it means you don't feel confident you could make enough money from just one or two. That's an internal issue that needs addressing at some point.

Another tip: make some calls yourself, first. Live what your contractor will be living, hear the objections, the tones of voice. After the contractor starts, listen to some of the calls, and keep making some of those calls regularly. It will help you adjust your script more quickly, and decide more quickly whether your contractor needs to further training or an upgrade.


Now, there are two ways to niche: you can niche vertically by industry or horizontally by skillset. And if you do one, you can do the other when you're ready.

For example, if you start with a vertical: if you've worked with several different industries, you know which you enjoyed most and which you enjoyed least. Whatever you enjoyed most makes up your niche. Now if these verticals are polar opposites (restaurants and government), but you don't want to choose among them, go horizontal by picking one set of services you enjoy and creating a profitable package suited to each vertical. Now you've created your own unique niche with a single specialty service for a handful of verticals you want to focus on exclusively.


It seems you're asking two different questions:

1. What is the importance of demographics?

2. What are the pain points in building facial recognition into a retail transaction?

To answer the first, demographics inform what products are being sold, who gets what promotion, what to start and stop carrying, and more in retail. The degree to which a retail shop pays attention to its clientele is directly related to those decisions and thus to its success.

To answer the second, you will need to deal with the legal ramifications of facial recognition technology, and once you've handled that, you'll need to deal with the range of reactions you'll get from customers who will need to know they're being recognized--not by humans but by robots. I'd say the second issue is the most important one to consider as you shape the technology and how it will be used.


I agree with Jason that most people avoid networkign for the sake of networking... but there will always be that segment that believes any connection is a good connection.

I see your most active market being salespeople, recruiters, job seekers, and entrepreneurs.

The only thing with video calls is that they do take time to prepare for off camera, no matter how short the actual screen-time is, especially if they want to make a professional first impression.

I don't know if I'd be interested, but I do think people in the markets I mentioned would love it.


You have an enormous list. But no matter how segmented it is, which medium you use, or how good your email content or call script, you'll be wasting a lot of time if you don't have enough information about the people you're selling to.

So let's back up a step and develop a customer persona with as much detail as possible. Look at the people you've just sold to in order to fill in the characteristics of the people most likely to buy from you.

You may have more than one persona. People with different backgrounds, resources, and needs require different communication tactics.

Compare these personas to your list. Research and compile data about each person to match them to a persona.

Further segment your list to decide who's likely to buy from you now and who's likely to buy from you in the future. You can figure this out by looking at the people who have already bought from you. What circumstances do they share?

Now you can decide who would be best to contact how.

I can help you build a sketch of a main customer persona you sell to, and get you a you list of the questions to ask in order to build any other personas you want to sell to in about an hour on the phone.


Yes, if you have something to offer that your network can benefit from and you know how to turn those network connections into leads that you can sell to. If you have the former, I can help you decide how to do the latter in a few minutes on the phone.


First, it's good to have a niche. It makes it so much easier for you to find your clients. Just make sure there are enough of them and that they can afford you, as recommended.

There is no reason to network in person with complete strangers anymore. It's so much easier to meet the people you want to talk with online first.

The easiest way to meet people is on Twitter. The quickest way to find and consistently engage with the people you want to work with is by joining a regular, lively Twitter chat. Find a few local Twitter Chats (or local to your nearest metro area) in your service area here: http://www.tweetreports.com/twitter-chat-schedule/ . There are other listings, too, if you google them. Observe and decide which you'd be able to contribute the most value. Do so regularly.

Now at least some of these people know, like, and trust you, which is key to winning clients. They're not "cold" contacts and you can easily reach out to them via social media, and eventually take it offline when the opportunity presents itself.

When there are conferences you know some of them will be at, plan to go and let others know so you can meet them. This happens constantly on all social platforms and can lead to serious conversations.

No conferences? Every so often, you can use the twitter chat to casually ask if anyone will be in a particular area because you're like to discuss (topic) over coffee with a small group of likeminded people. These are also common ways to get to know more about certain people's needs and issues, leading to more serious conversations as well.

NEVER hijack a hashtag for a Twitter chat with advertising for your business. That's spam. Besides, people don't need you to tell them about yourself--they'll find out for themselves on your profile, and if they're at all interested by what they find there they will follow your link to your web property. So make it interesting.

Not keen on Twitter? Create a group on LinkedIn and invite connections you know would benefit. It's a little more work but it's worth it because as the owner of a group, you get automatic authority status.

Moderate it to prevent the flood of ad-sludge, link bait, and me-too content that overwhelms most unmoderated LI groups. Encourage discussion and relevant content.

Also, LinkedIn does not seem to promote its ProFinder feature very much (I found a writeup about it on an external site) but it's locally filtered. It will deliver requests for proposals/fee quotes to you based on services and industries you list on your account. Set it up here: https://www.linkedin.com/profinder?trk=eml-marketplace_provider_new_lead-null-0-submit_proposal

If you'd like to further discuss how to implement these ideas I'd be happy to talk.


Blog topics are going to be limited to what your customers are interested in, and I'd say specializing those topics to fit within your niche is getting creative enough for them.

Beyond the topics themselves, though, there are a lot of ways to get creative, but they all center on the same kinds of principles: Taking the same-old, same-old and changing something about its delivery so it becomes more artful. Once you understand that, you won't need anyone to suggest a topic. You can simply take any topic and make it your own.

For example, instead of discussing a topic in business terms, use a different scenario altogether, like a game or journey that parallels the challenges fitness studio owners face.


When it comes to marketing a new offering, I usually encourage clients to think in "customerese."

What do your clients usually ask you for? Instead of translating it into the gobbledy-gook you usually use to describe it, keep it raw. People use those phrases ("find me some leads, please") because that's how they prefer to communicate their needs. That's what they'll probably be saying online, too.

Now, you're a BI firm, so you probably can learn very quickly on your own the who, where, and when of the audience. Conduct some BI analyses of the above phrases to discover where they appear most and which of those spots you can best help.

Reaching out depends on the who, where, and when. I'd be glad to discuss some strategies if you have this figured out.


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