A dynamic duo is helping small business owners and the self-employed — particularly women — brand themselves so that customers will beg for their products or services.
It’s mid-week and Jessica Kizorek and Michelle Villalobos are conducting a webinar for business owners on how to expand their reach with YouTube, avoid pitfalls, and jump higher in the search engine.
They are telling stories, showing slides, making jokes, demonstrating the tone of an appealing video voice and prodding their audience to ask questions about how to use the nation’s second-most-popular search engine to their advantage. It is the duo’s latest special offering in their creatively produced Make Them BEG product line.
Kizorek and Villalobos have combined their dynamic personalities and experiences to help other women avoid the mistakes they made starting and growing their businesses. Most significantly, they are coaching small-business owners how to brand themselves in a way that customers will beg for their service or products.
With their Make Them BEG educational products, they have taken the self-help movement into the professional arena, a strategy the judges of this year’s Business Plan Challenge found to be clever. Make Them BEG won first place in the Community Track.
“We definitely are riding the tide of the self-help movement,” Kizorek said. “Professional self help is the new self help. Women are taking over the business world, but their businesses haven’t caught up to men’s in results. That’s the gap we want to fill.”
Their business plan details their offerings: seminars, workshops, virtual programs, webinars, mastermind coaching and a monthly magazine. The goal is to empower their customers — mainly self-employed women between the ages of 30 and 50 — to stop begging, pushing, and peddling for business and instead promote themselves powerfully both online and off so they can increase referrals and raise prices. Depending on what package they buy, customers could receive instruction on how to build a personal brand, how to figure out what their brand is, how to figure out brand value, how to make business cards as well as how to get a professional headshot, understand email marketing, master video marketing and network effectively.
“We’re giving them everything from strategic to tactical — from how to use online video to drive sales, to how to analyze their revenues to how to fire clients that are not working out for them. We even give them spreadsheets to plug in numbers,” Villalobos said.
Villalobos and Kizorek say they have refined their product offerings from the initial startup stage, coming up with new ways to package and distribute information to their customers at a lower cost. Instead of the DVDs and workbooks, they now deliver the training digitally, right to customers’ computer screens. “Having a physical product gave us a perceived value, but that’s not needed anymore. The value is the information we are giving them,” Villalobos said.
“The model is highly scalable and re-creatable,’’ Villalobos explains. “No matter how many students we have, we can deliver.”
Judges praised the creativity evident in the physical business plan as well as the pair’s keen awareness of the women-empowerment movement and current widespread interest in personal branding. They also liked that the target market is giant. As the business plan states: There are more than 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating nearly $1.3 trillion in revenue.
The judges overall thought the women’s plan was well-timed with the increase in self-employment. They also recognized that the Make Them BEG workshops are more affordable for a small-business owner than personal coaching.
Lourdes Balepogi, who attended a Make Them BEG program, said the workshops helped her contemplate and enhance her personal brand (Luly B): “What ended up happening after Make Them BEG is I used my personal brand to develop a new company.” Balepogi said uncovering how to get clients to beg her to work with them is a critical skill she now uses regularly. “It was a great workshop when I attended and now they have refined it even more.”
The business’ revenue stream includes fees from various products and services. Thus far, Make Them BEG has 55 monthly members (who pay $47 a month for a group call, monthly materials and other benefits). The company has sold 50 copies of the Make Them BEG DVD Training Program (which sells for $497 and now is delivered digitally) and 12 of the Make Them BEG Master Plan Blueprints (an all inclusive package of materials and live coaching for $1,997). Villalobos said the offerings and price points are regularly being tested, measured, and tweaked to optimize profits.
Kizorek is founder of BadassBusinessWomen.org, an organization that inspires female entrepreneurs, a public speaker, an author and a documentary filmmaker who specializes in capturing and telling the stories of non-profits around the world.
Villalobos founded the Women’s Success Summit, a business conference that draws more than 600 women twice a year in Miami (The next one is May 21-22). She’s also a consultant and professional speaker on personal branding.
The two met three years ago at an event where Villalobos was speaking. Shortly after, they saw opportunities to collaborate and to create this business together.
“The beauty is now we have a brand, Make Them BEG, and we can continue coming out with new courses and webinar series,” Kizorek says.
Until now, new customers have come from word of mouth and marketing at the Women’s Success Summit. Going forward, Make Them BEG hopes to improve its automated method to convert online traffic into sales. The business plan states their goal is to hit 150 monthly members by the end of 2013, and 500 members by the end of 2014.
“The scalability of this and where it has the ability to grow is in monthly membership. We see an opportunity to make money on volume and grow our audience,” Villalobos said.