Great interview on Public Radio with Ed Mayberry. He is NPR’s quintessential business guru in Houston and a genuinely nice guy. Listen in here!
In order to return our economy to health and growth we MUST provide “tax burden relief” for small businesses. They currently employ half the work force, produce half of the private sector output, shoulder the largest tax burden and are likely to benefit from a flat tax more than the larger businesses. A flat tax could eliminate tax deductions and credits which are less widely available to small businesses as well as reduce compliance costs, lower interest rates and ultimately increase exemption for individual and small business taxpayers.I am interested in hearing your opinion. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The client says, “Your recommendations sound terrific.” That’s good. Then the client says, “Can you put together a proposal? Something I can take to my boss, Mr. Sale Stopper?”
That’s good too. Right?WRONG!Why? For a couple of reasons:First, if you haven’t already noticed, customers learn in “prospect school” that the best way to avoid buying is to procrastinate. When they do this, they are neither saying “no” nor “yes.” The result is that they can maintain the relationship with us (the seller), continue to pick our brains (maybe even getting our expertise for FREE and buy from the cheapest bidder), all without making any sort of commitment. This sets the tone for the future relationship. A relationship that is “one-sided.” A relationship where WE have to perform, yet they can continue to postpone, delay and maybe even not live up to their side of the bargain. Even if we do get the business, we can end up working like dogs while they drag their heels with decisions and pay us in their own good time.Sound familiar?The second reason to not just roll over to the proposal request is that it may give them reasons for NOT doing business with us. Since proposals are not an interactive process, we may inadvertently say the wrong thing and never even know why we lost the sale.Here’s the way I recommend handling the proposal request:PROSPECT: “Can you put together a proposal for us?”
SELLER: “Sure, no problem. May I ask you a question?”
SELLER: “If we are able to develop a proposal that is acceptable to Mr. Sale Stopper, what would happen next?”
PROSPECT: “We would do business.”
SELLER: “Great! If I understand you correctly then, only you and Mr. Sale Stopper are responsible for making the final decision to move forward?”
SELLER: “Sounds good. Let’s review some of the things that we need to put in the proposal to make this happen. You mentioned our weekly service call. What else should we include? What are your key concerns? What are the best solutions? What is most important to Mr. Sale Stopper? Really? Why? What things will be important to you and Mr. Sale Stopper in the future? What would be the main reason Mr. Sale Stopper would not approve the proposal?”
SELLER: “This is great. Do you think we’ve developed a winning proposal so far?
PROSPECT: “It sounds good.”
SELLER: “Perhaps I can help you further. Customer service is critical to our firm, and for this reason we have a policy on presenting proposals. Our company requires us to deliver the proposal and present it directly to the buying team. This eliminates any possible confusion, maximizes use of your time and gives you a chance to ask questions. When do you think we may be able to do that with you and Mr. Sale Stopper?”
PROSPECT: “Well, maybe next Monday at 10am.”
SELLER: “Great. Now let’s look at another scenario. Even with all the elements that we have included in the proposal, it is possible that Mr. Sale Stopper might not go for our proposal. In that event, what would happen next?”
PROSPECT: “Well, I guess we wouldn’t do business.”
SELLER: “Sounds fair. When would you anticipate making that decision?”
PROSPECT: “Well, a few days after the proposal, I guess.”
SELLER: “That sounds reasonable. So if I understand you correctly, Mr. Sale Stopper and yourself will make a final decision on this by Wednesday, at close of business?”
PROSPECT: “I think we can do that.”
SELLER: “Great. I’ll be working on putting in writing what we’ve developed today. Can I ask one more thing?”
SELLER: “Can I call you on Friday to just check in and confirm everything. Perhaps you and Mr. Sale Stopper might think of something else that needs to be added to our proposal?”
PROSPECT: “Sure.”With this technique, we have significantly increased our chances of developing a winning proposal, as well as lessened the chance of continued procrastination. Most importantly, this is no longer OUR proposal. It is the CLIENT’S proposal. We have strategically secured agreement in advance of putting things in writing. We have created greater value to the proposal on agreeing to a presentation time rather than just mailing or delivering the proposal to the client. And we set a deadline for the approval or denial of the proposal.I will assure you that this technique works nearly every time. It does, however, require practice. If you are interested in learning how to implement techniques such as these, inquire about our upcoming class, “Out-Marketing the Competition.” In this class we work on branding, differentiation, proposal development and how to make our marketing initiatives more persuasive, compelling, client-centered and profitable.
It’s a HOPE business, our CEO bellowed in my direction. You HOPE someone sees your ad, you HOPE they call you and then you HOPE they buy something.
Cocky New Jersey Italian that I was (or am, I should say), I was now REALLY afraid to give my presentation. I was about to wax eloquent on the virtues of why our company should start advertising. I was a 28 year old junior executive in a billion dollar conglomerate about to take on the CEO at changing one of his long-held principles: NO ADVERTISING!Well I lost that battle but I learned something more valuable. Traditional advertising rarely works. In fact I learned that the more NON-traditional the advertising or marketing the more dramatic the response.That’s why whenever I hear about some new type of buzz-marketing I get excited. Whether its Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, the future that Tom Peter’s is Re-Imagining, or Jay Abraham’s latest guru strategy, I get goose bumps thinking about ways to make customers come to us rather than chasing after them.But I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the article in this month’s Fast Company magazine. Now if you’re not a subscriber to Fast Company I recommend that you sign up for it ASAP because it is the coolest business publication on the planet. Check it out at www.fastcompany.com.The article was all about buzz marketing. But this was buzz marketing like I’d never seen. A while back I wrote an article on this very subject that was picked up by a magazine and in that article I talk about how to create viral marketing buzzI discuss how today’s customers are suffering from information overload. They see and hear so many advertising and marketing messages that it becomes difficult to filter out what is valuable and credible through all the clutter and noise. As a result, customers are turning to their friends and associates for purchasing advice more that ever.Well the article in Fast Company took buzz marketing to the limit. The author Linda Tischler talked about a consulting firm that companies actually HIRE to create buzz for their products or services – unbelievable!The company is called; BzzAgents and they literally sell Buzz. When a client signs on apparently BzzAgents searches its database for “agents” that match the demographic and psychological profile of their target customers. They then contract with these 300 plus agents to spread the gospel, as it were. Agents receive information about the client as well as free samples. They have very specific goals in terms of creating positive propaganda and get this: they are NOT paid a dime! They do it because they actually believe in the product or service they are representing.Now don’t think you’re going to rush out and hire BzzAgents. First off BzzAgents rejects 80% of the companies that try to hire them. Their founder says, “We can help a product that has value but we just can’t help a product that’s schlock” (his words folks, not mine). On top of that the average 12 week campaign typically deploys over 1000 agents and carries a hefty price tag close to $100,000. Recent clients include Anheuser Bush, Monster.com and Land’s End. (Look for BzzAgents founder, David Balter as an upcoming guest on the Small Business Hour in the near future.)Worry not. You don’t need to sell you firstborn to create buzz. You can do it on your own in just a few months with a well thought out buzz marketing campaign and a few well chosen buzz agents.How, you ask? It’s quite simple. First you have to have something good to say – a unique story. Then simply start with a handful of loyalists. Give them something special – something that is valuable, in demand and limited in supply. Finally work at educating and inspiring them. Turn them into evangelists. Not for the sake of your product but for their own edification. Then get out of the way.Bzzzzzzzz!What’s that sound? Shhhh listen.It’s somebody talking about your company, product or service.I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email email@example.comMark Deo
Click here to view videoWhat influences customers and prospects? Is it what a company says about their product or service through advertising, marketing and direct sales?Or, is it what other people are saying about the company’s product or service?Surely the later. Then why do we spend so much time and money on traditional marketing, advertising and selling, and so very little on word of mouth marketing?From Your Mouth to Their Ears
Most marketing focuses on building a case for a better product or service. This is good and necessary but it ignores the fact that for many, purchasing is part of a social decision. People rely on invisible networks of friends, relatives and co-workers for recommendations. This is buzz. I have spoken before about establishing a unique identity, branding and differentiation. Buzz is the natural extension of a branding and identity campaign. And it is beginning to take a much more influential role in the purchasing decision.Why Buzz Works
Today customer are suffering from information overload. They see and hear so many advertising and marketing messages that it becomes difficult to filter out what is valuable and credible through all the clutter and noise. As a result customers are turning to their friends and associates for purchasing advice more that ever. Marketing experts believe that the new customer, Generation Y – those born between 1979 and 1994 – shop by word of mouth. In the coming years, buzz marketing may that much more important.Buzz works so well because talking is in our genes. As human beings, we need to talk. We talk to connect with people. Sharing information is essential to our make-up. We talk about the latest movie we saw, the car we test drove, the book we read and so on.I did a presentation on this very topic at the C-Suite briefing we held a few weeks ago at the Queen Mary. To see a quick overview of the event, click on the image above. We will soon have this entire event available to view for FREE online, and will have DVDs available for purchase. Send me an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know if you want to be informed when this is ready.
“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
Walt Kelly, Creator of “Pogo”, 1970Many businesspeople use the terms “sales and marketing” as if they complement one another as agreeably as peanut butter and jelly, but that is rarely the case. In the same way many executives hold the title of “VP of Sales and Marketing,” yet we often find that they will lean strongly toward one or the other discipline.Everyone would agree that both of these functions are critical within every organization and at times must be managed on an individual basis. While many companies seem to achieve some kind of acceptable balance between sales and marketing it is often reminiscent of the way cats and dogs tolerate one another’s presence in the same household. Yet imagine how powerful these forces could be if they truly DID collaborate and attempt to complement one another.More often than not I have witnessed a struggle between each of these functions which often stunts the effectiveness of the both. For example, I have seen entire marketing strategies conceived, documented and implemented without even interfacing with the sales group. On the other hand, I have seen marketing plans that have been completely ignored by the entire sales force while that department pursued their own mission.An equally problematic facet of the marketing/sales dynamic lies in document preparation. An investigation performed by “Executive Decision” an on-line professional resource interviewed Mr. Dave Fowler, senior vice president of marketing and business for Pragmatech, a software company specializing in proposal automation software. He reported that, “90% of content generated by marketing is never used by sales.” Fowler attributes this statistic to a fundamental divergence in purpose. Marketing has little time for varied industries and varied levels. They are focused on broad-based documents and in a sense, ring the dinner bell for sales. Sales teams, in turn, must deal with a specific customer in a specific industry. Despite marketing’s best attempts at document preparation, Fowler estimates that, “sales professionals spend 25% to 30% of their time finding, customizing and assembling content for clients.” No doubt this represents a massive duplication in efforts!Improving the disconnect between marketing and sales doesn’t need to be complicated. Both teams are working towards increased market advantage. While it is a fact that 50% of sales reps currently do not fulfill their quota requirements; this statistic is being partly caused by a global marketplace with heavy competition for an already Internet-savvy consumer. The answer, then, as evidenced by the success of technology companies, may be found in the combination of old and new: by employing sound principles of viral marketing and communication supported by the benefits of new and ever an improving internal culture.If we allow the struggle to continue, we might find that our biggest obstacle to improved brand position, market dominance and key client penetration will be that department across the hall. We may find that the real enemy resides in our own home.Find out more about how to create harmony between your sales and marketing departments. Visit www.sbanetwork.orgHave a great week!
I often talk about the second rule of attraction, “the problem is more important than the solution.” This often strikes marketers as odd, since we have been taught to always speak in terms of the “solution” that we offer. In fact, this just drives people further away from us rather than attract them to us. I have noticed that more and more advertising is talking in terms of the problem rather than the solution.
Recently someone forwarded me a 30 second TV commercial that I think makes fabulous use of this rule. Take a look at it here:It goes like this:The scene opens with a man driving down the freeway traveling at 60 mph. His windshield gets some dirt on it and he flips on the windshield washers. Instead of washer fluid, black oil spurts out onto the glass therebycompletely blinding him. He loses control of his car and smashes into another car nearly killing himself and several other drivers. All this happens in a few seconds. The next scene is of a small boy, around 8 or 9 years old. It shows him on a little step-ladder leaning over the open hood of the car. He is pouring oil into the window washer fluid compartment. The announcer says, “a bored kid at home might be dangerous, keep them entertained this summer.” Then the graphics for the “Children Crafting Guide” flashes on the screen.This is a tremendous example of how powerful it is to tell our marketing message from the point of view of the client’s problem. If the commercial would have talked all about how the Crafting Guide had hundreds of things for you kids to do, or showed a testimonial from another parent, no one would pay attention. Only by aligning themselves with the parent’s potential “problems” can they get greater attention.Think about the “problems” that your clients are having. How can you align your marketing message to their problems? By doing so you will create greater attraction and become far more interesting to your clients and prospects.
I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email email@example.com.
Have a great week!
|Jamie woke up with a scratchy throat, bloodshot eyes and a runny nose. While she knew she probably should take the day off, she had tons of things to get done before the holidays and a little cold wasn’t going to stop her. As the day wore on so did Jamie. By the next morning she realized she needed to see a doctor.
When she visited her physician he prescribed some medication and told her to drink more fluids and get to sleep earlier. Jamie listened to his advice, took the medication and did exactly as he told her.
How about yourself? Are you not respected in your industry? Have you not received specialized education in your field of endeavor? Haven’t you helped hundreds of people in the same way this physician has?
|Everything human beings do, they do for one of two reasons: TO AVOID PAIN OR GAIN PLEASURE|
|What Builds Credibility
Why do we unquestioningly head the advice of professionals like doctors, lawyers and CPA’s?
First, we have to recognize that at the moment we seek assistance from these professionals we are more than likely experiencing some PAIN. At the very least we have some extreme degree of comfort. Our bodies are not at optimal performance or we are involved in a legal battle threatening our financial standing or perhaps the IRS is beating down our door. As we’ve discussed before, the problem is more important than the solution.
|Every Monday interact with other business owners and get your questions answered. Learn how to create growth.|
|Third, most professionals such as doctors begin their “interview” with a series of questions. In fact this is 99.9% if not 100% of the entire exchange between client and prospect (or patient and physician). In many cases the doctor may NEVER present a solution to the problem. The doctor’s sole part in the communication is to ask questions. The patient’s is to give answers. It would be rude and out of character for the patient to ask about the doctor’s credentials or experiences. The institution of medicine has very wisely done all they could to make this the reality of the doctor patient relationship.
Telling is Selling
Oddly enough it is not what we tell people about our company, product or service that builds credibility. In fact the more we tell them, the LESS credible we appear. Telling is selling and no one likes to be sold.
You may be thinking; “that’s fine for a professional but I’m a simple service provider not an eminent physician or attorney.”
|Finally my “Attract More Business” learning program is available. It includes a 150 page color manual, 9 CDs, and my personal Tele-Coaching.Check it out here:www.attractmorebusiness.com|
|My answer to you is that I think this strategy can be applied to any type of business whether you are a professional, a nonprofessional, large or small organization.
For example, my wife and I were recently vacationing in the Bahamas. We like to snorkel and dive when in these tropical areas. Typically we prefer to rent our own small boat since we abhor the traditional “dive or snorkel boat scenes.” However we also like to connect with someone who can give us the lay of the land – the good spots, what to avoid, dangers, where the fish are, etc. As you can imagine this is a very difficult thing to do. Most providers are trying to sell you their pre-packaged tours and almost none of these offer this type of service.
|Here’s Jean-Michel Cousteau himself. I got to meet him and chat for a bit.|
There was one that stood out from the pack:
Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Out Islands Adventures – You build your own underwater adventure.
There were a few things that made this jump out at me. First, I knew that Jean-Michel Cousteau was the son of the legendary Jacques Cousteau. Second, I knew that the best snorkeling and diving was near the islands that were further off-shore from the main island. However most of the snorkel and dive boats did not go out that far. And third, the build your own underwater adventure was just too compelling to pass-up.
So I called Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Out Islands Adventures expecting Jean himself to pick-up the phone. Well he didn’t however the person that did was cheerful, enthusiastic and very helpful. She gave me a brief 30 second description of how Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Out Islands Adventures was different from every other snorkel/dive service. Then she asked me a series of questions that helped her understand precisely what I desired. I spoke with her for nearly 40 minutes and all she did was ask me relevant and open-ended questions. I did almost ALL of the talking. When I had finished she told me that she could “customize” a package for us and what the cost would be.
Now while the cost was significantly higher than I had planned, we were so excited about this 5 day underwater dream vacation that we went for it without a second thought. I don’t have to tell you that it was by far the best and most satisfying excursion we have ever had. They took us out for one entire day and gave us a personal tour of all the places that were important for us, a map of the areas we would be touring, a beautiful 20 foot Boston whaler stocked with food, water, gas, GPS, depth finder and even ship to shore radio.
My point is we can all redefine our selves in the mind’s eye of the customer if we follow this simple rule of attraction and find ways to position ourselves not simply as a BETTER solution but rather as the ONLY solution.
Admittedly this requires proper branding approach. That’s why I’d like to invite you to attend this Monday’s Tele-Clinic on “Developing Brands.”
Developing Brands – Monday, Nov. 29 at 1pm
While this article may just begin to address the subject of branding, I will be conducting a TeleClinic on Branding this Monday, November 29, 2004 at 1pm during which I will focus on the steps to creating a powerful branding strategy and how to put a branding campaign into action in a practical way. During this 30 minute TeleClinic I will be referring to numerous case studies and I will take questions as well. We will only be able to accommodate a limited number of participants for this telephone clinic so act now. TeleClinics are held over a standard telephone line during which I present detailed information on ways to improve your business performance. They are a great way to get your specific questions answered directly by me. The cost is only $29. To read more go to www.deoteleclinics.com, and to register, go tohttps://www.sbanetwork.org/learning/signup.asp.
Have a great week!
I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Today for small business operators as well as larger enterprises marketing continues to be a mystery. Often, the ad that generates record-breaking volume one month is repeated the following month and bombs. A campaign designed by the best ad agency may elicit a mediocre response. The same item sells like hotcakes after a 30-word classified ad, with abominable grammar, appearing on page 35 of an all-advertising shopper tossed on the front stoops of homes during a rainstorm! The mystery eludes solution but demands attention.
Your marketing results can be improved through a better understanding of your customers. Putting the customer first is probably the most popular phrase used by firms ranging from giant conglomerates to the corner barbershop, but the sloganeering is often just lip service.
Marketing success, however, is more likely if you dedicate your activities exclusively to solving your customer’s problems. Any marketing program has a better chance of being productive if it is timed, designed and written to solve a problem for potential customers and is carried out in a way that the customer understands and trusts. The questions and answers that follow will reveal the mystery of marketing by looking at ways we can put the customer first. These are questions that we often receive in our practice and some of the answers we give. I hope it helps you in your marketing efforts. How can I set myself apart from the competition?
Client retention is key. The importance of “the relationship” with the customer never diminishes. For most small businesses, developing and exploiting the relationship is the one major advantage they have over the big players who don’t have the time and energy for it in the first place. This boils down to added value. Customers crave it but don’t get enough of it. When was the last time you gave serious thought to providing a value-added premium in customer transactions? Coupons, incentives, giveaways, special events – All of these are very effective when aimed at strengthening customer relationships.
How do I recession-proof my business?
Build a cash reserve. We have all heard the expression “save some for a rainy day.” But what happens when a rainy day turns into a rainy year, or two? Many entrepreneurs and small business owners will be facing this situation in the coming months. The best way to prepare is to set aside cash during more prosperous times. There’s a real benefit to having a long-term business plan that deals with the kind of cash requirements you’ll need in case of a business downturn. For some, building a cash reserve may come at the expense of swifter business expansion. But the alternatives such as borrowing cash, taking out a loan, dipping into personal net worth, or shutting the doors are far less palatable. But wait, you say, isn’t this finance rather than marketing. True but without cash reserves to launch marketing initiatives a marketing program has no chance in getting off the ground. Many people believe that the best time to launch a marketing initiative is when times start to get tough. This is a fallacy. The most advantageous time to launch such a campaign is when times are GOOD. In this way we can invest both our time and dollars at a time when people are more apt to move forward. This approach may be the very thing to keep the recession from knocking on your door. How can I get former clients back?
Recognize that all customers are at risk. Even satisfied customers can be persuaded to defect to the competition. Do not take any customer for granted. Consider that customer win-back strategies can be more effective than finding new customers. Many experts believe that win-back success rates are far higher than recruiting new prospects. Here’s a few that anyone can implement:
- Identify all of your products or services that could possibly be of value to your customers.
- Motivate your customers to use as many of your products or services as possible.
- Prove to your customers that your products and services offer value that they can not find anywhere else.
- Keep track of every sale and sort in a database
- Personally communicate with customers at regular intervals
- Establish some form of satisfaction rating system
- Sell peace of mind more than just product or service solutions
- Admit when you’re wrong and pick up the pieces quickly and effectively.
Make your organization defection-proof. While everybody is talking about customer loyalty today few are taking real action. Preventing customer defection is surely the prime motivation for building customer loyalty, but it also gives us the ability to proactively develop strategies to improve our value and service in general. This is what prevents price sensitivity.
We can literally avoid price sensitivity by how we treat the client. Remember when you’re telling, you’re selling. No one likes to be sold. That’s precisely when they start focusing on the cheapest price. By asking questions we accomplish several goals. We discover valuable information about the customer. We bond with the customer by letting them do most of the talking. And we show that we care by being interested in their wants, desires and motives. This is the most effective way to overcome the price objection and redirect their interest to the relationship.
You don’t need a fancy ad agency or marketing firm to improve your marketing performance. In short my advice is to place the focus on the customer. It’s really about doing the simple things and doing them consistently. Focus on the relationship. Add value to every transaction. Build a significant cash reserve. Keep current customers loyal and win back the old ones. And most critically ask plenty of questions. Show that you really care. I hope you’re starting to see that there really is no mystery to marketing. It’s about putting one foot in front of the other every day and always putting the customer first. -Mark Deo
When groups of consumers move from one type of product to another on a long-term basis, new business opportunities can result. Market switches create demands for new products and services.
Some ExamplesThe switch from traditional styles of children’s bicycles to BMX bikes provided an opportunity for a bicycle shop to establish a BMX racing club and racing track. This racing involvement helped the shop to capture a large share of the BMX market.A business woman took advantage of the market switch from record albums to cassette tapes by packaging cassette recorder-head cleaning kit.To take advantage of the market switch from large to small cars, a company designed and manufactured bicycle and ski racks designed for small cars.An office machine repair service anticipated the market switch from typewriters to word processors and began to specialize in repairing word processing equipment.How To Do ItDiscover major changes in consumer buying habits by:
- Reading marketing research reports and trade association research forecasts
- Observing current fads that could potentially turn into long-term changes
- Observing new products that are growing in popularity
- Analyzing changes in your own buying habits, especially when you stop purchasing an item that has become obsolete and begin to buy replacement items with entirely different characteristics.
Find products which are associated with a market switch by:
- Analyzing the advantage of new products to find those which are greatly superior and will likely replace more traditional items
- Looking for new technologies or new products based on new concepts which are revolutionary for an industry.
- Look for a major product or service that is needed to meet changing consumer demand, but has not yet been provided, and find a way to provide it.
When the major product in the market switch already exists, look for related services or products that can be used in association with the major product.Ensure that there is a demand for the product/service you would like to provide.Key Questions
- Can I think of any market switches that have recently taken place?
- Can I think of any market switches that may be occurring now?
- How can I take advantage of these changes in consumer buying habits?
- Can I address a current market switch by providing the major product or service?
- Can I provide secondary products or services related to a new major product?
- Have potential customers indicated a need for the product/service that I have?