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Buyer, Beware!

How to make smart buying decisions in your life + business!

· money,buying,decisions,celebrations,entrepreneur

I'm all about empowerment...especially empowering YOU with your money. So, this week (since it's almost my birthday)...I want to give you TWO gifts. Yes, for my birthday...I'd like to give YOU gifts!

The first gift is from my friend, former client and business coach, Tara Bradford, who's doing a FREE training this week for people who want to understand how to make smart buying decisions. This is for you, if you've ever felt like you invested in yourself and didn't get what you thought you were paying for. The second gift is at the bottom of this page because it's tied into what Tara wrote. Here's a photo of the lovely Tara...

Tara Bradford, Business Strategist, Communications Expert, Writer & International Speaker

OK she's beautiful, right? Now, she also has brains and really knows her stuff! This woman is an amazing Business Strategist (she helped me strategize my business and took it to another level), Communications Expert, Writer, and International Speaker. She's also CEO of Rae Media Group and Creator of Imposter to Influencer, her signature program to really get your work out there, so you can make more of an impact in this world! Her mission is to help people feel more connected through communication mastery and creative problem solving skill building. She also lives in New York City where she meets at least one new person every day. Isn't that amazing?! I'd love to do that! OK...now that you know a bit about the amazing Ms. Bradford, here's what she has to say...

As someone who works in the Public Relations industry, I have an understanding of both the negative and positive effects influence and advertising can have on consumers and I am committed to helping business owners build authority and credibility for the greater good. I believe being part of the solution not only involves helping put positive messages into the news (which we do at Rae Media Group), but also includes teaching media literacy to help consumers create habits of inquiry, improve critical thinking skills, and learn to effectively communicate needs (which is a component of what I do in my Coaching Practice).

My approach to strategic planning for my clients starts with the bottom line and works backwards to identify the steps that help achieve those stated goals and objectives. Usually these conversations start with the question, “How much money do you want to make this year?” While the work I do is not considered sales training, it does have an indirect relationship to business development meaning if you have all the pieces of PR and Marketing and Branding working together they can move the needle for your bottom line. When you don’t have them working together, they seem like they “don’t work” or they are a “waste of time and energy.” This is an obstacle a lot of entrepreneurs face as they grow their businesses.

As the primary decision maker for your business, you need to become a very sophisticated consumer and the learning curve is steep. Whether you had these skills before you started your business, or not, there are still things you don’t know that you learn along the way. Sometimes these lessons are learned the hard way.

When we learn things the hard way, one of two things happens. We either get stuck and stop trusting everyone or we learn from our mistakes and find new ways to move forward. Time is not usually on our side for this learning process to occur, especially when you are the CEO of everything in your life. One thing you can do to accelerate the learning process and make sure you aren’t skipping this step is to first accept that mistakes are going to happen every day. Then, start a daily journal practice where you write down opportunities and celebrations. The opportunities are the lessons you learned, pivots you made, and obstacles you encountered. The celebrations are your wins, no matter how big or small. Write down at least 3 of each. Then pause for a few minutes to reflect on these. What you might find in your reflection is: your opportunities and celebrations are sometimes showing you the exact same lesson through different lenses.

An example of this in business might look like this:

  • Opportunity: I learned not to undervalue myself, which means I am no longer going to offer discounts because when I undervalue myself I end up working twice as hard for clients who are rarely ever satisfied with the work I am doing for them.
  • Celebration: A friend of mine who is excellent at sales reached out to help me with my pricing. I feel confident communicating my new prices and once I got clear on this, I had 3 people reach out to me to book consultations!

Now let’s put yourself in the shoes of the consumer, because as an entrepreneur you are constantly making decisions about investing in yourself and investing in your business. I mentioned before, time is not always on your side, but the one area of the buyer’s journey you should not overlook is the amount of time you spend researching what you are buying. A great marketer will know you better than you know yourself, but the truth is a lot of people speak to the same generic, basic things because consumers are not that great at communicating what they need help with. Let’s go back to my original statement of: my clients come to me wanting Public Relations, but the problem they actually have is they want to make more money. There are a lot of potential solutions to “making more money” so it is my job as a business owner to make sure my way of helping them make money is the right one for them.

Not all business owners understand it is their job to make sure you are right for them.

This is where your research as a consumer comes in. When you research, look for at least 3 businesses in the same industry you want to speak with. Look for similarities and differences between those 3 businesses and ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you like about them?
  • What do you not like about them?
  • Are their past clients similar to you?
  • What results have they gotten for their clients?
  • What results are you hoping to get from working with them?

Do all of this before you reach out to book a consultation. Then reach out and ask them if you can speak to them about their services. This is typically where most consumers hand over the responsibility for communication to the seller and that is a mistake. If you want to ensure you are getting the outcomes you are looking for you need to remain engaged in the conversation. The most important thing you can let the salesperson know when you book the consultation is your timeline for wanting to make a decision and the fact that you are interviewing 2 other people to help you with this. It sounds something like this:

Hi Salesperson,

Thank you for getting back to me so quickly! I would like to schedule a consultation with you next week. I am interviewing 2 other firms and I am looking to make a decision by the end of the month. Would you be available Tuesday morning or Thursday afternoon for a call?”


I look forward to speaking with you!

Best,

Consumer

This e-mail does two things:

  1. It lets the salesperson know they are not the only person you are considering. This puts them in “Interview Mode” where now they feel they have to prove themselves to you, which means you are in control of the conversation. So any fear you may have of someone taking advantage of you can take a backseat. Don’t completely ignore that fear, and definitely look for red flags, but also feel confident knowing you are driving this conversation.
  2. You let them know you are not looking to make a decision on the phone with them during the consultation. This means you have time to think about it without feeling anxious or rushed to make a decision under pressure so you don’t have buyer’s remorse later.

Fast forward to the meeting. Make sure you prepare a list of specific questions for the salesperson about what he or she does. These can be the same questions you answered during your research phase of buying or they can be questions about gaps in your research. Bring at least 5 questions with you into the meeting and take notes on what the salesperson says so you can compare your notes later when you sit down to make a decision about who to hire.

The biggest mistake consumers make is wanting to feel taken care of before they even start working with someone. This means you walk into the meeting not understanding what you are asking for, afraid you are going to sound like you don’t know what you are talking about, and agreeing with everything the salesperson says so they don’t realize you don’t know what you are talking about. By shifting your focus to curiosity and inquiry with a clear result in mind, you don’t have to know everything about what the person offers and you can still sound like you are coming into the conversation as someone who is educated on the kind of service you are looking for. - Tara Bradford

I just want to add that anyone with integrity will also make you feel as comfortable as possible, so they should be OK to answer any and all questions you may have. So what if you're already working with someone, and it's not working out? Well, here's my guide on how to fire someone, in the best possible way! This also works for break ups. To get to know Tara more, she's on social media @tararaebradford. Her Imposter to Influencer program starts up in April. For more information, go here. She's also giving out another free gift, so you get 3 free gifts today! Yay! She's giving you a checklist for PR here.

With Gratitude,

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