Recognized by BusinessWeek as one of 2007’s eight female entrepreneurs to watch, Alyssa Dver is the Chief Executive of Mint Green Marketing and the author of No Time Marketing. When she isn’t speaking to prestigious organizations such as The Women’s Congress, World Diversity Summit at the United Nations, The Commonwealth Institute, or the MA Women’s Conference, she can be found sharing her expertise worldwide via live and online classes.
You are involved with and speak frequently to large organizations, especially those centered on providing tools for women in business. What have you learned from being so closely involved with these successful women? What is the one "must-learn" tip that you could share with other women in business?
Commit to yourself and your target customers. Women have a hard time not pleasing everyone because we are wired as caregivers. Whether it is defining a target customer segment and sticking to it, or standing up and declaring one’s self a topic expert, we have an implicit fear of rejection.
In business, however, you’ve got to find the people that align with your products or abilities and then not worry about the ones who don’t. This is hard for sensitive females. You can still be sensitive and still be very female but it’s important that you gain real confidence to sell your products and services. People buy from other people and regardless how good your product is, selling/teaching/motivating/leading is all about creating a bandwagon that your target market wants to be a part of.
You've been able to publish books related to your expertise. Have you seen growth in your business as a result of these books, or do you feel that they do more to lend credibility to your expertise and give you a chance to give back to your profession?
I always tell people who want to write a book to do it for the pleasure of writing and for the accomplishment. Books rarely generate significant revenue on their own and may not even help your main business directly. However, being an author is a great feeling and even better when someone lets you know that you’ve helped them in some impactful way.
With my latest one, No Time Marketing, I wanted to present a very simple, proven way to do marketing that could directly impact sales. Because I practice what I preach with my own business and my clients’, the book does demonstrate my marketing philosophies and methodologies so someone can get a clear idea of my work before engaging me for a consulting project. As such, the book helps me close prospective engagements and yes, occasionally drives leads on its own. What it really helps me to do is get speaking engagements, and those in turn help me drive new business.
I don’t really see it as a way of giving back to my marketing profession simply because I present a lot of untraditional shortcuts and I lay out what is necessary in marketing versus nice-to-haves. Many marketing books tend to be intellectually interesting but abstract relative to what any real small business needs. Mine is truly hands on marketing for people with little time, money or experience. As such, I receive such wonderful feedback from small business owners who feel that the information really helps them quickly cut down on the all the marketing noise out there.
When I do live workshops, we use the templates in the book so that everyone leaves with their own marketing plans 75% or more completed. That is my chance to give back to other small business owners to help them do effective marketing that generates more profitable sales. I also include a chapter on responsible marketing as I am a big proponent of doing everything with a conscious and overall positive effect.
How long have you been a customer of American Express?
I’ve been a cardholder for over 15 years and have 4 accounts!
How do you utilize American Express in your business?
I love Amex because it provides the best customer service by far. I do take advantage of points programs and use those each holiday season to buy gift cards for business colleagues such as my accountant and bookkeeper. I charge everything I can to my cards including my taxes and all our utilities.
Year end statements, online access and payment, alerts, and all the 24x7 information allows me to work whenever it is convenient for me which often tends to be late at night and Sunday nights.
With the economy being such a sore subject for small business, do you see marketing budgets shrinking as a result? What are some things businesses can do to increase the return on their marketing dollars?
For the past few months, I’ve seen a lot of businesses reassess their positioning and overall brand. They aren’t spending huge amounts, but I have had a lot of smaller projects to redo websites, logos, collateral, etc. I am always cautious with these requests, however, to ensure that we do our homework to validate the target customers, the buying cycle, appropriate marketing channels and market trends.
I have 30 key questions in my book that helps assess an organization’s marketing knowledge and available assets. We can then fill in the missing blanks using basic primary and secondary research to obtain the necessary body of knowledge that enables us to make smart marketing decisions. Delivering a prettier brochure, for example, won’t sell more product/service unless it speaks to the right customer with the right information at the right time.
This is all what good positioning and messaging bring and those can only be done well if the 30 questions are answered. So my advice to any business is to spend time now, while business is still slow, to really get their marketing body of knowledge in good shape. This doesn’t have to be a long or expensive process but it will save a ton of time and expense later on when you want to implement marketing programs of any type to capitalize on the recovering economy.
Any final tips for small business owners?
The recession was obviously not a good thing, but I believe it has allowed a lot of people to reinvent or hone their businesses. It’s a great opportunity to critically think about what you are offering, to whom, and why those people care enough to buy it.
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive or a luxury only a few can afford to do. It’s what enables efficient sales and therefore something every business must afford to do. The economy will recover, and when it does, the smart businesses will be ready to pounce. The best opportunities will be available to those companies who are doing marketing now and planting the seeds in prospects’ minds. You can bet if you don’t do it, your competition will. So don’t wait…market now!