Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Four Keys to Unlocking Even Greater Sales and Profit

The Give to Get Marketing concept - is a money magnet. What exactly does Give to Get mean, and how can you profit from the concept?

This Marketing philosophy is based on the fact that people are constantly searching for products and services that will help them solve their problems, or help them live happier, more productive and rewarding lives. Think of the 'Givers Gain® from BNI written by Ivan Misner.

That's a fact -- people love to buy things they want from people they know, like and trust. We all want to feel that we make good purchasing decisions. We want to feel like we get very good deals. We don't want to get ripped off. We want to feel that we can 'trust' the people and companies that we buy from. And we want to feel that the companies we buy from respect us and treat us as though we are important to them.

Doesn't that all make sense?

Who wants to buy things they don't want? Or buy from someone they don't trust? Or pay twice as much for something than it is worth? Or be treated like we are an inconvenience, or an interruption in someone's busy day?

Here's the amazing thing. Most small business marketing 'never' addresses any of those customer feelings and concerns, or any of the hundreds of other equally important ones not mentioned. Most small business marketing is focused on what the business owner wants, not on what the customer wants.

Their ads, flyers, brochures, etc. don't attract the right people and don't do much to get the right people to buy. The typical small business marketing piece is pretty standard. Open any publication and look at the ads for small local businesses and you'll see...

  • the name of the business as the headline
  • a picture of the business owner and/or the product
  • how long they've been in business
  • a short list of the product or service features
  • possibly the price of the product/service
  • hours of operation
  • address
  • phone number
  • there's often a line that says 'Call for More Information'

This is the basic marketing approach used by the majority of small business owners -- and it is one of the least effective marketing approaches available.

This approach is all about the owner and his or her business. There is nothing in such a marketing piece that would help the prospective buyer get to know, like or trust the business or the business owner.

The result is -- they ignore the ad. But someone might say, 'Suppose the prospect is in the market for the product or service being advertised. If they see the ad, won't they be inclined to call?'

The short answer is, 'Sometimes they may, but more often than not, they won't.'

That's because of a little thing called competition. There is usually not just one resource for a product or service -- especially one that is in high demand.

So now a prospect is confronted with 2,3,4 or more ads or marketing pieces for the same product or service. And they are all saying the same thing -- 'Buy My Product.'

How does a prospect choose? Which company can they trust?
If they are really desperate for the product or service, they may choose by the nearest location, or the cheapest price. If you have ever run an ad like the one we described above, chances are you have already experienced the poor response this approach generates.

That's the boat most small business owners are in. But that's not the boat that Give to Get marketers are in.

They understand that they must 'Give' first to their prospects and customers if they ever hope to 'Get' in terms of sales, repeat sales and referral sales.

We're not talking about giving away merchandise or free services, although that sometimes may be part of a good strategy. We're talking about giving what the prospect or customer expects in a good buyer/seller relationship.

That includes but isn't limited to quality products and services, and excellent service. Your customers expect you to stand behind your products and services -- they probably won't do business again with a business that doesn't.

We're also talking about helping the buyer buy, by making the buying process as easy and as convenient as possible. With that in mind here are just three keys to unlocking more profits from your marketing efforts.

1. Make it clear who you're trying to attract
If you try to sell to everyone, you'll attract no one.
People scan newspapers, magazines, etc. looking for things that interest them. Give them what they want. Let them know that you have what they are looking for.

Imagine if you had a product designed especially for people with red hair. A headline like . . .
'Attention: Red Heads - Here's Some Great News' would immediately grab the attention of any red head that saw your ad. Their curiosity would be heightened and they would want to know what kind of great news you were about to share with them. Now imagine a headline that simply named the product. It would get very little attention, especially from your specific target -- red heads.

It always sounds good to try to appeal to as many people as possible. But the fact is, the more broadly you target the weaker your attraction.

Many ad headlines make it difficult to determine exactly who they are trying to attract.

Don't let your marketing pieces be ignored. Make sure you target your very best prospects in your headlines -- then they'll know you have something special for them.

2. Make them an offer they can't refuse
The one offer that most small business marketing pieces make is 'Buy My Product.' Give us the money and then we'll give you the product or service.

But that is a very weak offer, since you need to gain your prospects' trust before they will consider buying from you rather than all the other sources available. Trying to sell your product or service in one quick and easy step, is like walking up to a stranger at a party and saying, 'Will you marry me?'

I think you know what the answer would be. Before you can ask such a question, the other person needs to get to know, like and trust you. If you try to ignore that process and jump immediately to the sale, you will be faced with certain rejection. To make progress in this case, you must make a more 'appropriate offer.' Timing is everything. It's no different in building a relationship with a prospect or customer.

If you don't make any offer, nothing will happen.

If you make the wrong offer at the wrong time, nothing will happen.

So you need to know what the appropriate offer is depending on where your prospects or customers are in the buying/selling relationship.

Once you know that, you'll be in a much better position to move your prospects and customers up to the buying stage.

3. Tell 'em what you want them to do next
Don't assume that your prospects will know what they should do to take advantage of your offer -- chances are, they won't.

If you want them to call and ask for something, then tell them that.

If you want them to write to an address and request something, then tell them.

If you want them to drop your post card in the mail, then tell them.

If you want them to visit a link on your web site, then tell them to 'Click here to receive your...'
Don't brush this key aside by thinking that it sounds too simple to be very important. It is the simplest concepts that are the most powerful and most effective in getting people to take action. It doesn't have to be complicated, and it shouldn't be complicated.

Your prospects and customers want to be clearly led through your buying process. They want to have the steps spelled out for them. If you don't tell people exactly what to do or exactly what to ask for, many of them will not take any action at all. Make it easy for your prospects and customers to buy, tell them what to do next.

4. SendOutCards.com as a Marketing Tool
You can create a clever Marketing piece taking all the things mentioned above with SendOutCards and send it to your existing customers as well as prospective customers. Remember to focus you piece to address: What's in it for me? (WIIFM).

Monday, January 28, 2008

Marketing Strategy: New Business from Old Clients

Most products and services don’t simply “take off" because of a brilliant design or great quality control during the manufacturing process. Outstanding sales numbers are – to a large extent – always the result of a great marketing strategy. Our Sales and Marketing services will help you break down every aspect of your marketing plan. After determining your target market, we will help you develop a marketing strategy towards those potential customers who are most likely to become buyers. This way, whether it's a brilliant  product or a much needed service they will be correctly positioned to finally “take off.”

Phones not ringing? Orders down? Customers not walking in the door? It's time to take action. But before you spend a fortune trying to drum up new business; why not get in touch with those people who once loved you -- your former customers. Remember them?

As hard as companies work to solicit and serve customers, I'm always surprised by how little most businesses do to stay in touch with those they once served so well. Many seem to have the attitude that once a job is done; it's done; once a product is sold, it's sold, and the relationship with the customer is over.

That's short-term thinking. Former customers are the best source for future sales, even in businesses where customers make purchases only every few years. After all, satisfied customers talk to others, so they're an important referral source. It costs two to 40 times as much to acquire a customer as it does to keep one. So once you've got one, don't lose them.

Of course, its best if you develop an ongoing customer communication program for example SendOutCards.com. But don't wait for that if you need dollars in the cash register now.

To get started on a contact program:

Make a list. If you're like most of us, you've got contact information all over: stacks of business cards, address lists in word processing files, customer invoices on a different computer altogether. Take a few hours to compile a list. Start with ALL former customers or clients -- go back at least five years. But don't stop there. Add anyone who has been -- or might be -- a source of referrals. This includes industry colleagues, suppliers, friends, even some relatives. Go through your address book, your accounts, those business card stacks, and your email in-box to jog your memory.

Select contact methods. Phone calls are a simple, personal, and effective way to touch base, and it's harder for someone to ignore your phone call than it is an email or a letter. Of course, calling takes time, so you may want to limit that to only your most likely prospects. E-mail can also be effective if you make your email personal rather than seeming like spam. I suspect you may not have current email addresses for many people on your contact list. So don't overlook the mail! Send them a customer appreciation card through the SendOutCards.com service. The key is to be as personal as possible.

Figure out what to say . You don't need a specific reason to contact a former customer. You can tell them the truth, "it's been a while since we've talked, and I'm just touching base. I wanted to see how you've been and if there's anything I can do for you." You'll probably get more sales, however, if you make a specific offer, especially with a significant discount. One caution: if you haven't been in contact with someone for a long time, find out what's going on with them before making a sales pitch; their situation may have changed considerably. With referral sources and other contacts, tell them you're touching base to see how they're doing and to see if they know of anyone who might need your products or services.

Remember, it is said that Appreciation Wins over Self Promotion. So determine how ambitious you want to be and put together a plan that makes sense, is cost effective and allows you genuinely express sincere appreciation to your past customers. After all, they helped you get to where you are today.

We get so caught up serving current accounts that we didn't have the time -- or the need -- to sustain connections with former customers or potential referral sources. Regardless of how well your business is doing, it's time to get back to those fundamentals. Remember, "word of mouth" advertising doesn't just happen; it has to be nurtured. So stay in touch and send them a card or pick up that phone!