Sunday, March 30, 2008

How To Work A Trade Show

Hopefully you're planning to attend some trade shows and conferences this year. If not, you should re-think that. Trade shows are a great way to promote your company, and recruit new customers. Two great ones that are coming up are the Black Enterprise Conference in Charlotte and FraserNet in Atlanta.

A recent article by Jane Applegate in Entrepreneur Magazine has the following suggestions when attending trade shows:

* No matter how tired you are, attend a few seminars and all the group meals. Target industry leaders and contacts you want to meet. Spend some time each day circulating and schmoozing.

* When you finally catch up with a person you wanted to meet, ask them to join you outside the hall where it's quieter. If it's an industry leader, you will only have a few minutes to make an impression before they are distracted or led away.

* Speak to as many people as you can while waiting in buffet or bathroom lines. You never know who will turn out to be a great contact.

* If a reporter or producer approaches you, give them a good quote for their story.

* Rather than carrying around heavy brochures, collect the cards of serious prospects. Say, "So many people were interested in my products, I've already given all my brochures away. But, I'd love to send you one as soon as I get back to the office."

* Distribute postcards. Unlike a heavy brochure, postcards are light and easy to carry. They are also very inexpensive to print. For about $500, you can get 5,000 postcards made by 1-800-POSTCARDS.

* Bring three times as many business cards as you think you will need.

* Wear comfortable clothes and a jacket with pockets. I keep my cards in one pocket to hand out. I store cards given to me in the other pocket.

* If you don't have a stylish, comfortable outfit to make a good impression, go shopping before the show.

* If money is tight, contact the organizers and volunteer to help in exchange for free admission. Gwedolyn Meeks, who owns and operates Gwen's Bread Pudding Crunch in Chicago, attended a show for free in exchange for helping out at the registration desk. As a new business owner, Meeks said she learned a lot by watching the thousands of women "working" the show. "The most important thing you can do at a trade show is to show up," she said. "Just being here is the most important thing."

For the full article, visit

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Power of Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is a phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message. This type of promotion, also known as word-of-mouth advertising, has been deemed the most effective way of marketing.

According to Blake Rohrbacher - a writer for The ClickZ Network, a client will eventually tell at least 12 other people about their good or bad experience with your company.

This translates into two things for you:

1) Take care of your customers - The last thing you need is for one of your customers to be bad-mouthing your company to other people. 12 people is quite a bit, so be sure to keep your customers happy. Happy customers will say good things about you, and will encourage others to utilize your services.

2) Invest more into viral marketing - Now that you know the power of viral marketing, perhaps you can invest more time and money into it. Give your customers something to talk about, and encourage them to share their experience with their friends and family.

If you have a local business, get your business listed on and encourage your customers to submit online reviews for others to see.

Local businesses with storefronts should also give their customers coupons and/or referral materials to pass along to the people they know.

In addition, don't ignore the power of viral marketing on the Internet. Take advantage of social networks like,,,, and These web sites are extremely "viral", and if you're a part of them - your brand will be heavily exposed.

If possible, reward your customers for sending you new clients. This can easily turn the typical 12 referrals into 30 or 40.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Learn From The Younger Generation

You may remember Farrah Gray as the young Black entrepreneur who made his first million at the tender age of 14. He made his second million by sixteen and now inspires thousands through his speeches, writing, and consulting.

He is probably best known as the author of Reallionaire - a best-selling book that earned rave reviews from 20/20, Good Morning America, Tom Joyner, Tavis Smiley, and more.

Now at 22-years old, Dr. Farrah Gray is back with a new book called Get Real, Get Rich: Conquer The Seven Lies Blocking You From Success. This book debunks the seven common myths that people perceive as barriers to achieving their goals.

Throughout the book, the keys to his message are action and self-reliance: "You can't win, if you don't play," he says. His recipe for success are attitude, hustle, and an emphatic rejection of the most pervasive lies most of us believe about money and success.

Publishers Weekly calls the book "an energizing call to use drive and persistence to reach financial success." Syndicated columnist Kam Williams says the book is "designed to empower individuals to maximize their potential, whatever that may be."

Farrah Gray is a friend and a client of mine, and I highly recommend that you get this book - which is also available as an audio CD. Take a lesson or two from the younger generation!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Using PayPal Could Be A Business Mistake

PayPal, as most people know, is a huge company that allows you to accept payments online. Now owned by eBay, Paypal is used by nearly 164 million people worldwide every year.

I've read about horror stories with Paypal, but never knew anyone who personally had problems with them - until now.

A constituent of mine was telling me how frustrated she was that she had been a victim of identity theft, and that there were some fradulent charges that wiped out the balance in her Paypal account.

I decided to help her by phoning Paypal myself, only to find out that Paypal would not replace the money in her account. In addition, they said it would take them 10-30 days to "investigate" the situation.

I asked the representative what would happen if a person had an extremely large amount of money (such as $5,000) in their Paypal, and it was removed fraudulently. He told me that that too would take 10-30 days to be returned.

I know tons of entrepreneurs who use Paypal, and my advice is to be careful. The people at Paypal do not seem to be in any kind of hurry to return your money to you - if you become a victim of fraud and identity theft.

I did further research and found a site called which claims that when using Paypal, you are "waiving your rights to credit card consumer protection laws." It also states that Paypal does not allow you to "issue a chargeback for unauthorized use of your credit card and PayPal account".

As for me, I will keep my usage of Paypal to a bare minimal - and I will never keep large sums of money in that account.

If you need to accept credit card payments, I highly recommend that you contact your bank about opening a merchant account. Or you can sign up through - an industry leader for credit card processing.

Also, make sure that your bank offers "zero liability" for identity theft and fraudulent charges. There is no reason why a victim should ever be penalized as if they were the criminal!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How To Discover A Unique Business Concept

Ok, so you think that every business idea out there has been done. You’ve looked through the phone book, online, and more. Everywhere you seek, someone is doing something you didn’t think about.

What you may not realize, however, is that some of the best business ideas won’t come from the Yellow Pages or the internet. You know why? Because no one has thought of it yet, so it won’t be found there.

Walk around your neighborhood, and take a slow and deliberate walk through your home. You could very well discover a new business idea by hanging out at the mall, or visiting a local bookstore. Maybe sitting in the park, or taking a stroll through the woods might unearth something you never imagined possible. Even simply cleaning out your closet might bring to mind something needed by women and men to assist them in their home.

Sometimes we feel that the competition is too great with many of the already existing businesses, but unique opportunities are all around you. It may seem challenging at first to find something no one else is doing, but don’t be daunted. The universe has a wealth of ideas at our disposal. No one can think of everything!

Take your time, dig deep and let an idea come to you. Use your surroundings to your advantage, and eventually, something you never imagined might surface. You might be surprised to discover that those pesky little dandelions that we consider weeds, are used for something very important today. Let your imagination run wild. A new business venture could be on the horizon!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Do You Have The Entrepreneurial Spirit?

Entrepreneur Magazine recently published an interesting article about "The Spirit of the Entrepreneur". According to the article, "the entrepreneurial spirit is a gift that inspires [you] to become the best [you] can be."

It goes on to list passion, positivity, adaptability, leadership, and ambition as the top 5 characteristics that entrepreneurs should have. The two that stand out most to me are passion and adaptability.

Passion is very much needed in business to get you through the times when you're not making money. Too often, a business idea is abandoned because of lack of revenue. Being passionate, however, when things are slow will help you stand the test of time. It will drive you to be more confident, and to be more positive when your bank account is negative.

Adaptability is also very key. As you grow your business, you will learn some hard lessons. When starting out, you likely will have a very elementary way of thinking and planning. After falling on your face, you must learn to adapt your mindset to a strategical and logical way of thinking. This will, in turn, help you to be more realistic in your decision-making and your brainstorming.

Whatever you do, time will tell if you truly have the entrepreneurial spirit. True entrepreneurs will stay the course, and will eventually learn how to generate consistent revenue. Their patience will finally pay off, and they will join the long line of business leaders that have found success.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Kindness is Currency

Being kind to people can be profitable for your business. Many are familiar with the common statement: "Be nice to people on your way up because you'll meet those same people on the way down."

Ask any entrepreneur and they will agree that you absolutely must be courteous to your potential clients, your existing clients, and your business associates. Doing so will make them naturally want to spend money with you.

Many overlook and undervalue this factor, and call it "old-fashioned". However, it is well-documented that being kind has a conscious and sub-conscious effect that welcomes the right people into your life.

In addition, no one can become successful without the help and support of others. Therefore, it would be in your very best interest to have a group of business associates that will "ally" with you when you need them.

Treat people good, and don't become big-headed and stubborn. Every entrepreneur experiences "down" periods when assistance may be needed. How people respond to you will generally depend on how you responded to them when they were down.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

African American Entrepreneurs Find Huge Success With New Online Tool

I created in response to a growing epidemic of African American experts being overlooked by the media. The concept was to allow entrepreneurs and authors the opportunity to profile themselves in front of journalists and radio/TV producers.

This revolutionary idea has successfully created a win-win situation for individuals looking for more publicity, and media companies looking for new and fresh talent to interview. Many of the people listed on are reporting phenomenal feedback.

Here's what some are saying:

"Being listed on has garnered me several speaking engagements totaling $7k! Additionally, I have appeared on numerous radio shows - most noteworthy, The Michael Baisden radio show, and I was just interviewed for Essence Magazine." -- Elon Bomani, a Black health/wealth expert

"TV One's Black Men Revealed called and booked me. I was also booked to speak at the Minority Health Partnership in Battle Creek Michigan. All of this was due to my listing on" -- Dr. Alduan Tartt, a Black motivational speaker

"I have done about 5 interviews so far, and I have three speaking engagements that I'm waiting to confirm. Thank you for a great experience." -- Joseph Carswell, Business Expert

What makes the service work so well, is that media journalists and producers can discover and research prospects that they otherwise weren't familiar with. Because the profiles and pictures of the experts are displayed in a resume-style format, individuals can effectively showcase their expertise.

To be listed on, users must pay an annual $200 fee - which also includes a listing on The media, however, can use the web site at no cost.

Currently, the site features more than 150 profiles - with new profiles being added each week. Media surfers include producers from the Tom Joyner Morning Show, the Michael Baisden Show, the Tony Brown Show, TV One and hundreds of other African American media outlets.

To view more testimonials, visit:

To be listed on the site, visit:

Warm Up to Cold Calling

A cold call is an unsolicited phone call made by a sales representative to a potential customer. Despite the negative reputation, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Believe it or not, but telemarketing is a very effective way of closing a sale. Last year, companies made more than a billion dollars through transactions over the phone.

The key, though, is to target your audience. Contact people who have a similar interest in your industry. For instance, if you're selling car parts - don't call people who don't have a car. If you're selling refinance mortgage loans, don't call people who don't own homes.

Instead, find people who will realistically consider what it is that you are selling. If it's relevant to them, you can at least get their attention.

Know who you're calling, even if they don't know you. Understand what their buying habits are, and what their overall needs are. If you can figure out how to match your product to what they desire, you can close the sale.

Author and sales expert Ray Silverstein once said that "the worst that can happen [when making cold calls] is you get a 'no'. But if you don’t call, you have an automatic no."

Almost everybody I know hates cold calling, but if you can figure out the pieces to the puzzle - you'll learn to love it.