Tuesday, September 13, 2005

single best takeaway from smb nation

and honestly...it wasn't what i thought it would be.

to be sure, there was a lot of good info and advice dispensed during the sessions.

but the single best piece of advice/info i received was not during a session, and it was this:

amy luby pretty much told your friendly neighborhood happyfunboy he is full of crap, obsessing as much as he is over this partner point business for gold certified partner.

and you know what...she's right.

her insight was this: ya know...this thing from ms you want so bad doesn't have a thing to do with how successful your business is.

and that's true.

for most of us working in the small biz space, we are the business.
each of us, as owners or principals or whatever, we are the driving force.

we have to be.

so sitting back and waiting on microsoft to do something for you...it's just not going to happen. and you're always gonna be disappointed if you take that approach.

case in point: while i was sitting and talking at the partner booth with sharon erdman, another attendee walked up and was ragging about how little microsoft is doing to market the small business specialist credential.

there is a basic quotient of stuff that ms will do, to be sure.
but is it going to be a full-on media push to Podunktown, USA (or UK) for that matter?

of course not. that would be wastefully ignorant.

hell, i don't advertise willy-nilly for clients.
and i honestly don't know too many folks who do.

the reason?

we try to be selective with our clientele, mainly in an effort to manage our growth so as not to load ourselves up with a bunch of c-level clients.

mainly just to shut him the hell up, i threw out a couple of fast suggestions to the guy (a few of which sharon wrote down...which made me immensely proud). these are suggestions for leveraging the small business specialist designation which i will now share with you:
  • pr announcement to business section of local newspapers or trade rags - there's a template available from ms. you should send this out immediately once you finish sbsc, especially if you are the only one in your general area. use it to get the word out. you have this...your competitors don't.
  • chamber of commerce - local chambers own the small biz sector, especially when it comes to information. get involved with a chamber, and feed them info they can disseminate to their members, either via a newsletter or magazine, about sbsc...an why they should care about it.
  • reception - host a small reception celebrating your company's new designation. make it as big or as small as you want. invite current clients, and ask them to bring a business acquaintance who they would refer you to. poof! instant networking event.
  • the truck - perhaps you could host a much bigger event, or even an official ms event using the truck. get a list of qualified leads together, use some of the techniques discussed at the conference to weed out swag-bandits, and go to town.
the main thing is...if you wait for success to run up and bite you on the ass...it never will.

in the same way...if you wait for small business specialist to mean something to folks...it'll be too late for you.

if you are the one who gets that info to folks, then you will be the one they will "imprint" on (kinda like baby birds), instead of your competitor.

but it's not necessarily the info or the designation, in the end, that makes the difference. it's the fact that you are talking to them, making contacts...that's what does it.

which is what amy was trying to get through to me.

so thanks amy, for the gut check.

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