Infographic: Ways to Prospect More Effectively

Sales play a crucial role in bringing in cash flow into the business. A business cannot sustain its daily operation without it, and without it, a business would eventually fail. One of its most important and initial steps is called “prospecting” – the process of qualifying the leads who has demonstrated the desire to make a purchase decision.

According to ringDNA, “[t]he definition of sales prospecting is when inside sales reps make outbound calls or send outbound emails to leads in hopes of creating opportunities for account executives. Prospecting can involve cold-calling as well as reaching out to nurture leads that have gone cold. Many inside sales organizations have achieved successful results by hiring dedicated sales prospectors.”

Additionally, “[p]rospectors, also known as sales development reps (SDRs) can help achieve predictable ROI by creating a steady stream of opportunities for account executives. This can be highly effective because it frees account executives from having to prospect for their own leads.  Instead, they can spend their time selling to sales-ready prospects that have been qualified by sales development reps.”

Prospecting is pivotal in closing deals, which is the reason why it must be executed in a timely manner and with proper procedures to ensure that it succeeds. Statistics tell us that there is a 74% chance that the first viable vendor will win a deal if they manage to reach a decision maker and if they manage to set the buying vision on to them successfully.

Here are the key takeaways from this infographic by Business Coaches Sydney on what it takes to prospect more effectively:

  1. Follow a consistent schedule
  2. Focus, focus, and focus
  3. Implement different techniques
  4. Create prospecting scripts
  5. Be a provider of great solutions
  6. Practice warm calling
  7. Establish yourself as a thought leader
  8. Know that prospecting is not selling

Check out their infographic to find out more.

 

infographic ways to prospect more effectively

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Top 5 Marketing Strategies for Insurance Companies

marketing strategies for insurance companies

Having an incredible marketing campaign can go a long way in determining your company’s future. It’s crucial to know what your marketing goals are and how to achieve them. A great marketing strategy will definitely help you improve and expand your business to reaches that are usually far beyond your grasp. But you can’t do this if you don’t know how to run a proper marketing campaign. Sure, you might have a great idea, but if you can’t realize that idea, there’s no way that any change will happen. What you need is knowledge and imagination because both of these traits will enrich your marketing campaign and let you create something unique. Your main goal should be to create an amazing marketing campaign that will bring even more customers your way.

Regarding insurance companies, if you’re an owner of such a company you shouldn’t have any difficulty running a successful marketing campaign using these tricks. You’ll even be able to negotiate lower car insurance. Without further ado, here are the top 5 marketing strategies for insurance companies!

Be aware of the market

Being aware of the market will bring you an advantage over your competitors plus you’ll be able to know exactly what the people are looking for. If you don’t constantly keep track of the market, there’s a high possibility that you will lag behind others. Don’t allow this to happen by monitoring the market at all times. As the market changes, so should you and your marketing campaign. Staying in the past, even though it is more stable, generally means that you won’t be able to stay in front of the competition. Dedicate some of your resources into keeping track of the market, and you’re all set!

Initial situation and project goal

Once you start your company, set an immediate goal that you’ll strive to achieve in a personally given amount of time. Goals are crucial for all companies because you must have something to strive for. If you don’t, then chaos appears, and chaos isn’t good. The organization is key and, we can’t stress this enough, invest in some great organization – it will make your life easier. Take a look at the initial situation, and you’ll get an idea of what exactly you want to achieve and which way to take to that destination.

Measure the effectiveness of marketing

Once you develop a marketing campaign, make sure you check out all the variables and see if the campaign is any good. If there are too many faults and possible room for error, then it might not be a good idea to go through with that particular campaign. Otherwise, simply polish the plan and start working. Measuring the effectiveness isn’t only necessary at the beginning of your marketing campaign as the effectiveness itself can change depending on the circumstances. In short, you should constantly keep checking on things, so you know everything is going great and if, in the case of an issue or two, you need to make changes, you’ll be able to make them quickly and efficiently.

Project results and outlook

Once you run your marketing campaign and strategy, you’ll need to keep checking on how well they’re doing. Of course, we covered this in the previous part of the article. This is the part where we talk about the end-result of a marketing strategy. You should project the results and check if there is any room for improvement. Of course, you should fix the bad parts and issues, but you should also perfect the good parts. Once this is done, take a look at the results as a whole and see which smaller part simply doesn’t fit. If you do this with enough attention to detail, your next marketing campaign will fare much better.

Accumulate feedback

Finally, listen to your customers and employees. Listen to what they say because their feedback is incredibly important. If there is anything wrong with what you chose to do, then your customers will notify you. Accumulate all of this feedback and take a long, hard look. You’ll know if what you’re doing is right or wrong, which lets you plan what to do in the future accordingly!


Andy Bell a content writer who loves reading and writing different blogs. He writes about the categories like Money, Networking, Business, Insurance and many more.

Email Marketing 101: Extremely Effective Methods to Deliver Your Products and Build Your List Online

email marketing ideas

Building your online list can jumpstart everything for your business. This is where you have to collect your visitors email address since all of them are potential customers. The best way to do this is to have them register their email address as you provide them with something related to your service or website.

Once you get them on your email list, you can send them correspondence as a means of updating them about your company and your website content. You can also provide them the answers to their queries.

There are three things that can help you achieve an email list. The first is to GENERATE. Show all your prospective customers everything that you have in store for them. The second is to CONVERT where you need to get as many information as possible. The third is to FULFILL where you need to give your customers what you promised them.

All of the methods of delivering a product must be done without any hitch. Right from the start, customers might be doubtful to offer their personal details to you. That means any slight glitch in the delivery might heighten their fears. It might affect your ability to convert. Here are ways to ensure better ways of delivering products.

The first way is by Single Opt-in. You do this by immediately sending them an email about what you can offer them. They get information right away about your product. This is not a foolproof manner though because you cannot confirm the address is actually the prospective customers. There is no way for you to assure yourself that the email will be sent to the right person. Also, the providers of email marketing services will execute this with a server that is not that dependable. They use these because they are more cost friendly. Unfortunately, although this may produce results, it may not be that accurate. There is a good chance that spam may be delivered to your clients and a good number of mails are bounced back. The good thing about it is that it is very easy to use and simple to do. Everyone on the list is added in a quiet manner. You can use this to move a prospective client from one list to another.

Double Opt-in is another way of building your list but a lot safer. In this manner, you collect email addresses from prospective clients and have them confirm that this is in use. Plus, their confirmation gives you the authority to send them necessary emails about your product. It also comes in a different name, Permission Based Emailing. The best thing about this is that there is a good chance that the emails are sent to the recipients. With a cleaner email list, you can create more engagement with it. This is the best way to build your list. There are only two drawbacks to it, the long set-up and the tendency for some to lose their confirmation mail.

The third way is called the Single Double Opt-in. In this way you send them part of what you offer as soon as they give you your email address. In return, you ask them to confirm their address before you send the rest of what you are offering. It creates highest engagement, better momentum and call to action from prospects. It is best to use with more than one offering. However, it takes so long to set up.

The fourth way is by publishing a newsletter and holiday & seasonal promotions. After they give you their email add, utilize it correctly by sending them a greeting email while offering information about your product and some promo codes. This will heighten their interest in your business.

These are 4 effective ways to deliver products. What you choose will depend on a lot of things. Choose wisely and find the best one for your business.


Andy Bell is an internet marketer, blogger and automation geek. He has reviewed various email automation services and other software at his website.

The Birds and the Dragon

fable of the birds and the dragon

Once, there were three birds who shared the tallest tree in the forest; a sparrow, a jay and a cardinal. Though they lived in the same tree, these birds lived very different lives.

Among the lowest branches, the sparrow struggled, seldom having enough to eat, and often settling for the leanest worms or for any bug it could find. The sparrow neglected its nest, leaving threads unraveled and only patching the sides when the nest threatened to come undone entirely.

Up in the middle of the tree, lived the jay. The jay had perfected a technique for capturing the fattest grubs and—though it lived fairly well—like the sparrow, the jay had to hunt daily for its food. Though the jay would sometimes dream of something larger and more luxurious, its nest was a comfortable size, well-kept and nicely decorated.

Finally, above the jay and sparrow, in a large, spacious nest, lived the cardinal. The cardinal seldom hunted for its own food like the other birds. Instead, the cardinal had built a number of bug traps around the forest. The cardinal simply offered a small percentage to the sparrow, and in return, the sparrow occasionally harvested and delivered the bugs.

One morning, an old dragon came to stand at the bottom of their great tree and called to them. As the birds assembled, the dragon said, “Neighbors, I have a small token of my appreciation for the beautiful music you bring to our forest. My only condition is that you must allow me to return tomorrow to hear how you’ve used my gift.”

Curious, the birds agreed. The dragon gave each bird a silver coin and told them to do with it what they would.

Snatching up its coin, the sparrow flew straight to the town market and purchased a brightly-colored silk ribbon with which to play and decorate its nest.

The jay—after some careful consideration—made a payment toward a debt owed to the cardinal and used the rest to see a show at the local stage.

Lastly—after taking nearly the whole day to ponder—the cardinal flew to the market and purchased as many Baby’s Breath seeds as it could carry. Returning home, the cardinal settled in for the evening.

The next morning, the dragon visited them. Chirping happily, the sparrow and jay told the dragon of their purchases and the dragon listened, delighted.

When the dragon turned to the cardinal, the cardinal said, “Gracious dragon, thank you for your gift. My I ask, isn’t it true you highly prize the sweet berries from the brier patch?”

The dragon smiled. “Why, yes, I do,” he said.

“Dragon, with my coin, I bought Baby’s Breath seeds; a loved treat among birds,” the cardinal said. “I propose to trade the seeds to a few of our flock in exchange for collecting a dragon’s mouthful of sweet berries for you each morning. In return, I only ask you to pay two coins for every mouthful. In this way, I can continue to supply us in seeds and you in berries. Does this sound agreeable?”

“It certainly does!” cheered the dragon. “A marvelous idea!”

And so, the wise cardinal came to serve both the dragon and the birds, to the benefit of all.

Lead Generation in a Mobile World

lead generation in a mobile world

In the world of sales, there are two goals for your marketing plan: positive brand awareness and lead generation. Today’s internet-based society and mobile device usage has blended these two objectives into one overarching business conversation that needs to be navigated wisely to achieve the desired results.

The New Landscape

Online advertising started in earnest in the early 1980s when Prodigy began displaying banner ads to its subscribers. Between the ’80s and the early 2000s, online advertising campaigns paralleled traditional paper marketing, using discount-driven ads and brand awareness pieces to drive sales.

The rise of social media changed this by demanding a two-way conversation over these single-direction marketing statements. Mobile technology made marketing communication instantaneous. Twitter became the carrier of customer service messages, both good and bad. Facebook is now the most relied upon place for reviews and product opinions. Today, leads are no longer the final product of marketing but just part of the overall relationship that you develop with new and existing customers.

Defining a Lead

A lead used to be a linear relationship between a piece of marketing and the interest shown by a potential customer. In short, it was a potential contact. Now, with a billion people on Facebook alone, most of your potential contacts are not actionable contacts.

Interest is difficult to measure in this nonlinear connected environment. Initially, lead generation was part of a reverse marketing approach in which the company wanted the prospect to seek out the business. Now the prospective customer is searching for active conversations about your company and they may or may not include you.

Your job in lead generation is to make sure that you are at the center of these digital dialogues. To do this, you must understand who you are and what you have to offer. You need to analyze your business and its foundational beliefs and then insert yourself into conversations based on these principles.

The Rise in new Technology

Social media lets users separate themselves from their physical person if they want. They can create profiles that portray an image even if it is not real. The use of mobile devices has counteracted this, linking the physical people with their cyber selves.

How? The latest iPhones, like the iPhone 7 Plus, now have technology that allow the devices to interact with their environment through Bluetooth signals. When users are near your business or inside your store, you can take these previously online-only marketing conversations into a physical environment, allowing you to react to location and shopping patterns of real customers. As a lead generation tool, new technology like iBeacon is extremely powerful. You can invite customers into your shop while they are walking by or entice them with a special promotion. For better lead generation, look into some of the newest geofencing advertising opportunities.

Holistic Lead Generation

Ultimately, the best lead generation campaign takes into account where the prospect is, both mentally and physically. You want to be in a positive, relationship-building conversation with potential customers and their support network while seeing their location-based shopping patterns. Trying to sell a house in Houston to a couple looking for a home in Boston is useless, but being an expert in housing is invaluable. To best generate leads, create your online image, become part of the conversation and know your customer base.


With a Bachelors in Physics and a MBA, Paul Reyes-Fournier worked in aerospace and education but his passion to do something good for the world led him to a career in the non-profit sector where he has served as the CFO of a multi-million dollar rehab agency. Paul has lobbied Congress for funds to help homeless individuals and served on the BOD for social service organizations.

3 Ways to Create A Successful Video Campaign

It’s hard to go onto any website these days without seeing a video. Whether it’s a funny video on social media, a clip from your favorite show or a campaign advertisement, they seem to be everywhere. But why are we surprised? With the space for written, audio and visual content, videos provide a unique marketing opportunity to engage audiences quicker and for longer. In fact, according to The Digital Marketing Institute by 2016, video marketing will account for 69 percent of all consumer traffic.

So as a brand, why not get involved? Check out these few tips to create a successful video campaign for your company.

1. Convey a Distinct Message

Due to the mixture of movement, sound and pictures, videos have the power to dynamically and creatively communicate a message. And this message is usually what gets audiences engaged and makes a campaign go “viral.” Try and tell a story in your video, stand up for a cause and always put some feeling into it. Focus on building your brand personality and then sell your product in the background using this reputation as a starting point.

Always, the feminine hygiene product company, exhibited this concept in a powerful way. Their “Like A Girl” campaign asked young women to use the phrase “like a girl” as they had heard it used in their lifetime. Then they asked younger girls, who hadn’t been exposed to the stereotype, to use the phrase the way they thought it should be used. This made for an endearing message about the strength and independence of a woman. Through this campaign, Always successfully transmitted a message of empowerment that perfectly aligned with their female audience.

2. Make Use of User-generated Content

The great thing about the world of social media is how it allows people to share ideas and deliver content of their own. So why not use your audience as creators? After all, they might be able to contribute a unique sense of creativity that your brand may never have thought of. GoPro is an example of a brand that utilizes user-generated content to display the unique ways its product can be used. Whether it’s surfers, skateboarders or adventure travelers, the great footage they get from users has proven successful; one user-generated campaign they have of a fireman saving a kitten has almost 30 million views.

If you’re having trouble finding footage, try initiating a video competition and then compiling the best entries into one video advertisement.

3. Mix Mediums to Make it Engaging

When making a video, your options are almost endless. There are so many elements that you can include to be unique and engage audiences. So be creative. Add music to set the tone of the video, upload unique visuals and include short, snappy words to tell a story. You could even try different sound effects and camera tricks. Amway achieves this in their welcome video with a wide variety of visuals accompanied by slow music to set an inspirational, intrepid tone. Keep in mind that audiences are viewing numerous videos a day, so employ creative mediums and techniques to make your brand stand out.

Video marketing is a new but very popular content form. If executed correctly, it has the power to convey your brand personality and draw audiences to your product in exciting new ways. Try these couple of tricks to create video material that will substantially contribute to your marketing strategy.


Naomi Bagga is a young media professional living in Australia. She works at UK-based digital partner marketing firm, Performance Horizon. She is passionate about music, entertainment, freelance writing and the changing media landscape, and loves photography, fashion, travel and a good cup of coffee.

Increase Your Blog’s Traffic in 7 Ways

By now, maybe you already have your own blog, and you also know that blogging is a valuable pursuit. According to Hubspot, companies that have blogs get 97% more inbound links. As for your blog, you may be thinking, what if no one visits my blog? How am I going to generate links, traffic, and sales? Don’t worry; you are asking the right questions.

Reliable and qualified traffic is what any blog owner wants. In this article, we will look at some of the strategies we can use to increase your blog’s traffic.

Creating a Viral Content

increase blog traffic ideas

Every blogger wants to write contents that get viral. However, it is not as easy at it seems. There are ways that we can create content that is more appealing. One of these ways is to create captivating headlines. If you get the headlines right, you can be sure that readers will be clicking on that. Another way is to get the content length right. Most of the shared contents have a word count that ranges from 3,000-10,000. The last technique is to create a killer idea that is surely going to get viral.

Remember these four tips when creating your post:

  • Get to know your audience so you’ll know what sparks their interests.
  • You can use Buzzsumo to help you with the ideas for your contents.
  • You can use Ubersuggest to also help you get ideas.
  • You can take advantage of the comments from your previous posts for your ideas for your next posts.

Restructure Your Posts

increase blog traffic ideas

When writing for your target audience, you can consider restructuring your post. This is to suit the content to the audience better. You may not notice it, but sometimes, your readers don’t really buy what you’re saying on your post. You can tell that if no one is commenting or if the comments only say “nice post.” What this means is that you didn’t really get the reader’s attention.

In any case, try to think about restructuring your post. Learn about how your audience speaks and speak the way they do because that will make your content more relatable. An example of this is that if your audience is beginners when it comes to technological stuff, don’t talk to them with so much jargon. Try to ease them in with every technical term that you use and make your content more hip and not just a dry, technical manual. When you are successful in doing this, your audience will gladly cite, share, and promote your post.

Creating Evergreen List Posts

increase blog traffic ideas

Another strategy to get your blog more traffic is through Evergreen list posts. It is known to generate traffic even if it has been years since the post was first published. There are ways to know if your topic has a potential for Evergreen.

The first thing to do is to make sure that there is at least one publication such as in magazines where your topic in mind has been written. This is to make sure that your topic is a popular one. To do this, you can go to magazines.com. In there, type your keyword in the search box. The results will reveal the magazines where a certain topic has been published. The next thing to do is to assess previous list posts that were successful.

Remember these tips when thinking about your next topic:

  • Brainstorm with your team.
  • Participate on forums and discussion of your niche.
  • Read the latest news about your topic.
  • Once you have published your topic, promote it on your social media accounts.

Do Guest Blogging

increase blog traffic ideas

The first step to do guest blogging is to do research on blogs with good social influence. Google really likes authority blogs. What are authority blogs? These are blogs that have a lot of followers on social media. When you guest blog on these sites, there will be a good chance that you will get more traffic.

Before pitching a blog, though, you ought to check the social influence of the site to know how much traffic that you may expect to generate from the social media in the event that your post gets featured. To check their social influence, you can go to their Facebook and Twitter pages. You will see there the number of followers they have.

Kindle Select 90-Day Traffic Plan

increase blog traffic ideas

These days, self-published books represent over 31% of ebook sales in the Amazon Kindle Store. Before, self-publishing will cost you thousands of dollars as well as a contract with a publishing house. But today, it’s different.

If you have an idea that is worth sharing, you can now be a published author within a week! Imagine what that can do for your blog traffic. If you publish with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, you get to drive your targeted traffic and can reach hundreds and thousands of people without spending a cent.

After publishing your Kindle book, the next thing you do is to enroll the book in the “Kindle Direct Publishing Select Program.” What will happen is that your book will become exclusive in the Kindle Store for 90 Days. The book will also become exclusive in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. When you do this, you get to reach thousands of your targeted readers because they can borrow the book for free. Also, for five days of your 90 days, you can run a free promotion for a paid ebook.

Takeaway

increase blog traffic ideas

One more thing to remember is this: consistency is key. The traffic strategies we have learned here may have been proven, but the results won’t come overnight. You have to stick to your technique and be patient. You still have to do your research and write your own content because these techniques won’t be writing them for you. Take the time to get to know your audience and participate and converse with them through the comments sections and the forums. Eventually, visitors will come to your blog, your email subscribers will increase, and your conversion rates will boost. Consistency and patience will do great for building your sustainable business.


author Nicolas FinetAuthor Bio

Nicolas Finet is a technically-minded marketer and the co-founder of sort-list.co.uk helping customers to get the most out of their digital strategies. Follow him on twitter @nifinet

3 Case Studies that Highlight the Success of Using Content Marketing

 

content marketing ideas

Content marketing has become one of the most effective strategies for brands to publicize themselves. More than 75 percent of marketers see content marketing as a priority, with 77 percent of B2C marketers and 76 percent of B2B marketers planning to increase their content marketing strategy in 2016, according to a Contently survey.

Benefits like higher response and engagement rates, more timely and relevant interactions, and better word-of-mouth publicity are a few of the draws attracting marketers to content marketing. Here are three content marketing campaigns that paid off for some of today’s top brands, illustrating some effective strategies other brands can emulate.

Huffington Post Cooking Videos

The Huffington Post has found success by posting cooking videos on everything from poaching eggs and preparing pizza-themed recipes to making Chinese dumplings. When sharing these videos on Facebook, the clips are presented in a short format, making it easy to attract and maintain viewers’ attention. For example, a 1-minute and 18-second Facebook video on refugees cooking their native cuisine attracted more than 757,000 views.

But be sure to visit YouTube if you want to check out some longer videos that have also attracted a number of views. For instance, a 9-minute, 40-second video on how to cook the perfect steak by Chef Theo Randall has, to date, attracted more than 9,500 views and shows viewers, whether they’re experts in the kitchen or not, how to make a steak, along with portabella mushroom and homemade salsa verde. Other Huff Post Facebook posts link from pictures of food to how-to articles on the publisher’s website. By linking short, social media content to longer videos and articles, The Huffington Post is able to channel initial viewer interest from Facebook into deeper social engagement on the company’s site and YouTube channel.

Farmers Insurance Inner Circle

Blogging, another popular content marketing strategy, has been deployed successfully by Farmers Insurance through its Inner Circle web portal, which provides consumers with informative content on six main topics:

  • Auto smarts
  • Home tools
  • Life preparedness
  • Insurance gaps
  • Exclusive Farmers Insurance perks
  • Unbelievable but true insurance claims

The brief, engaging and easily-navigable content serves Farmers Insurance’s sales strategy by informing consumers on important insurance-related topics that may pique the interest of potential buyers, all the while guiding them along the company’s step-by-step sales funnel. To promote its content, Farmer’s Insurance syndicates its blogs to the company’s Facebook page, which also links to its Instagram feed and Pinterest board.

Farmers Insurance also posts original video content to its YouTube channel. By utilizing multiple social channels, Farmers Insurance attracts consumers interested in insurance policies using native content that engages and informs without needing to make a hard sell. Consumers to whom the content appeals will then naturally be drawn into a sales conversation.

Michelin Restaurant Ratings

For over a century, French tire maker Michelin has been publishing travel guides to assist drivers on road trips, featuring information on hotels, gas stations and mechanics. The Michelin brothers correctly foresaw this type of information would promote demand for cars by promoting French tourism. Eventually, a ratings system for restaurants emerged, where one star represents an esteemed restaurant, two stars means excellent cooking and three stands for exceptional cuisine.

Since 2005, Michelin’s venerable and highly selective restaurant guide has been reviewing some of the top eateries throughout the United States. Indeed, making the coveted Michelin guide can be difficult, as only 67 restaurants throughout the Big Apple received a Michelin star in 2014. Foodies traveling the world can now access Michelin’s guide on the company’s website and easily identify the best restaurants for their global excursion. This offering serves to drive traffic to Michelin’s website, while positioning the company as a premium brand representing quality taste.

Byline: Roy Rasmussen, co-author of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small-business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing and career planning.


Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.

Infographic: In-Store Retail Apps Are Heating Up

The last decade has seen a huge change in the landscape of retail worldwide. E-commerce websites have become pretty much ubiquitous and many consumers source most of what they need online. This shift in consumer behavior has been heavily influenced by the improvement in technology in terms of computers but most especially on phones. Previously, cell phones were used predominantly for making and receiving calls or text messages. Today, this couldn’t be more different.

Cell phones of today are referred to as smartphones and rightly so as there is little that they don’t do or influence in day to day life. Smartphones have radically come down in price also and so they are accessible to a larger portion of people.

The proliferation then of phone and tablet apps could be seen as another problem for offline or bricks and mortar retailers but in actual fact this need not be the case. With greater access to consumers, offline retailers need to look at this as an opportunity for them to reach out to consumers like never before. Research shows that consumers that use and engage on apps are more likely to spend higher amounts of money so it is definitely something that should not be ignored. Retailers need to focus on how phone and tablet apps can make the retail experience a better one when the customers are actually in the store in order to capitalize on the changing times.

This infographic from Storetraffic Retail Solutions aims to show how the app revolution is not confined to online retail, meaning that it is something that offline retail store owners should not ignore. Check it out to learn more!

infographic in store retail

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Maybe You’re Not a Guru

not a guru

“An uncomfortable truth; with a massive take away.

Not everyone is a brand.

Meaning some are just not energetic enough, well spoken or appropriate to become a ‘brand’.

A lot of people following this brand advice, creating blog posts and videos that are difficult to read or watch. It is obvious they are trying to be something they are not.

You don’t need to be a brand to succeed online; for example you could be the PPV traffic expert; simply building an email list and doing email marketing driving leads to offers; that can work.” ~Terry Lamb


I’ve wondered about this.

Over the years, I have had teammates in the MLM and direct sales industries who wouldn’t do so hot at building a brand of themselves as a majority of the Internet marketing gurus suggest. I like the alternative offered here by Terry. This route helps your teammates get out of their own way and improves their likelihood of success–provided they have the patience, work ethic and resources to invest.

John Maxwell teaches the Law of Respect. In it, he illustrates how people naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves. In his example, if you are an 8 in leadership, you’re not likely to follow a 6; you would rather follow a 9 or a 10.

Folks won’t follow you onto a team or mailing list if they detect you’re as lost as they are.

We all carry a personal brand. However, most of our personal brands don’t carry the posture and the value (yet) to pull people to us. This may take years of self-development to kick in.

The shorter, more attainable path then for many will be to approach their marketing as a behind-the-scenes orchestrator; not a lead-the-charge expert.

In support of your efforts,
Matt

P.S. – Interested in learning how to market your business online? Start here.

Blog to Grow Your Email List

email marketing

Okay. One of the realizations that has just slapped me in the forehead has been by Internet marketer, Terry Lamb.

Guys, I’ve been marketing online, I’ve been marketing in the online and offline worlds for over 20 years, right? So I should know this stuff. I should know this one little jewel, and I needed to be reminded of it because I had strayed from the path.

The path that I strayed from, the learning that was brought to me by Terry, was this: He said in one of his recent webinars that his number one purpose for his website is to entice people to sign up onto his mailing list.

That’s his one, singular purpose.

At that point, then he can have a conversation with them. Once he’s gotten somebody added to his list, he can teach them. He can bring value to them. He can offer them recommendations—product recommendations, solution recommendations—that kind of thing. But until then, they’re not a captive audience. They’re visitors. They hop onto the site and if they leave the site without ever signing up to your list, you may never see them again.

You know, for the last year or so I had kind of fallen away from that. I’ve been building an email list for a while, but I realized I had been falling away from it. I have been pushing people more towards the Facebook channel, or more towards the Twitter.

Really, the destination is the mailing list.

If we have conversations over at Facebook, if we have conversations over at Twitter, or Google+, or wherever, that’s all great. But ultimately, you want the ability to reach into people’s inboxes to say “Hi. How you doing today? What is it that I can help you with? This is what I found to be helpful on my mission (and on our combined mission) to get from point A to point B.”

That little bit of awareness I needed. That’s my lesson for today. What can you guys do to help make your website more of a destination, first? So are you building value into your website?

Then, secondly, how do you keep the conversation going? How do you keep yourself on their forefront?

There’s your challenge for today. All right guys. This is Matt Schoenherr, MarketingIdeas101.com. In support of your efforts.

P.S. – Interested in how to grow a captive audience online? Get the Internet marketing training I use!

The Importance of Consistently

by Lori Saitz

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of the adverb “consistently” is “in a systematic or consistent (reliable, steady) manner.” No matter what you’re doing, doing it consistently is the key to success. Now that I just wrote that, let me add the caveat that whatever you’re doing also needs to be in harmony with the universal concepts of good. I’m thinking someone who consistently robs banks will eventually get caught and therefore not be successful. But I digress.

Recall all the times you’ve started an exercise program. After several weeks of working out consistently, you start to see results. It’s not as important that you work out really hard or for a long time each session as it is that you do it consistently. Maybe the results are not coming as quickly as you would like; that’s okay. Trust that changes are happening. If you continue to work out consistently, after a few more weeks, you’ll see definite and positive improvement in your physical and mental conditioning.

If you want to talk about things moving at a glacial pace, we can look at, well, glaciers. They move incredibly slowly, right? But they are moving consistently and eventually you (okay, maybe not you, but a scientist) will notice that they’re in a different place than they were.

We can apply the same principle of consistency to your business and the good news is it won’t take millions of years to see the changes. Research has discovered that communicating with your clients at least 25 times a year is optimal. WHOA! That’s the initial reaction I get from people when I say that. “Twenty-five times a year is way too much for my business!” No, it’s not. Here’s how you “touch” clients 25 times without being a pest.

Personal contact

You probably talk or meet with each of your clients at least once or twice a year just in the normal course of doing business. Personal contact is very important to keeping the relationship going. If you can’t manage to make a phone call or have lunch with a client once in an entire year, he’s probably not that good of a client. And for sure he won’t be a client for very long.

So that’s two times of contact.

Send birthday acknowledgement

A card, a little gift, something to let him know you remembered his special day. When is the last time one of your vendors or business partners acknowledged your birthday? Has it ever happened? Generally your birthday is a day that is yours alone; it’s not like a national holiday that everyone is celebrating, so it’s your special day. If you have a good relationship with your client, sending a birthday acknowledgement is not a hollow gesture and will be much appreciated.

That’s one more time, so we’re up to three.

Share industry information or tips

You can do this through an e-zine like this one, regular e-mail, a printed newsletter, copies of articles from a magazine, whatever works for you. I recommend sending this kind of information at least once a month. You may argue that you don’t have time to compile stuff that often and that once a quarter is good enough. I’ll give you that quarterly is better than not at all, but higher frequency, more consistently (just like working out) yields better results. If you are providing useful information, recipients will not mind receiving it.

Do it 12 times a year, added to the previous three and we’re at 15.

Mail postcards or greeting cards

Promote a special occasion, upcoming workshop or unusual event. Everyone sends cards and gifts for the holidays at the end of the year. Now more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon to send stuff at Thanksgiving, thinking that will set them apart from all the December exchanges. Who is reaching out at Groundhog Day (February 2), International Customer Loyalty Month (April) or Flag Day (June 14)? Pick a few times throughout the year and use them to express your personality, say thanks for your business or ask for a referral in an unusual way. Your clients will remember you better and more often.

Every other month is six times, plus the 15, and we’ve got 21.

Recognize clients’ accomplishments

When you see an article in the newspaper or hear through the grapevine about a client’s good fortune, send a handwritten note, (or at least an e-mail), to say “Congratulations!” Who doesn’t like recognition for a job well done? And your client will feel good about you for having taken the time/interest to let her know you’re aware of it.

Let’s say you do this once a year and now we’re closer to the target with 22.

Write a column for the local newspaper, industry publication, association newsletter, etc.

Share your expertise with an audience that includes your clients, as well as potential clients. You position yourself as an expert and you reach a lot of people at one time with minimal effort. If there are 1,200 readers, it certainly beats making 1,200 phone calls, doesn’t it?If you get published three times, we’re all the way up to 25! Wow, that wasn’t so difficult.

In addition to these suggestions, you may have some other ideas on what you can do to keep in touch with your clients. Take some time today to come up with a plan for consistently communicating and improving rapport with your clients.

You’ll soon see that whatever you choose to do, doing it consistently yields fantastic results.


Lori Saitz is an appreciation marketing expert and the founder and president of Zen Rabbit Baking Company. She created the Zen Rabbit Gratitude Program for business professionals who believe expressing appreciation – for their clients, referral sources and anyone else who supports their success – is important.

Educate Your Customers, Grow Your Revenues

by Ken David

What is marketing? First, it’s about understanding deeply the needs and wants of your customers and providing them with greater value. You must clearly identify the demand in the marketplace. At a minimum, most businesses can improve significantly in this area.

However, the real power and leverage of marketing comes from the next level of influence, communicating convincingly your unique and superior value proposition.

Marketing is about communicating with and educating your customers, prospects, and referral sources why it’s in their best interest to do business with your company. It is about educating the right target audience on the unique and superior advantages, benefits, value, and results you can provide and sharing the credible evidence/reasons that support and back-up such promises.

In short, marketing is about educating your target market on the advantages of doing business with you and the reasons why they should trust you to deliver on your promises.

Instead of impacting one prospect at a time (i.e. direct selling), marketing allows you to communicate with, educate, and influence many buyers at once. In a sense, marketing is a one-to-many selling system. Marketing allows you to target and influence large groups of customers, prospects, alliances, referral sources, reporters, etc. in a single action.

Unfortunately, most business owners mistakenly try to tackle most goals (i.e. growing sales) with a one-to-one, single weapon, combat mentality. For example, instead of considering the leverage of marketing (i.e. strategic alliances, referral systems, direct mail, telemarketing, etc.) to grow sales, many owners remain in the same comfort zone and deadly rut of using a single weapon like direct selling. They miss the chance to use air support (marketing) to vastly aid their ground war (selling).

They fail to consider and try new options, new approaches, and new strategies.

While all businesses have a selling process (converting leads to customers), most do not have a legitimate marketing process (generating qualified leads). As such, they miss out on tremendous leverage and revenue opportunities.

Your goal should be to add an ongoing marketing process to your business. Again, marketing is nothing more than understanding the needs of your customers and then communicating to them the superior advantages/benefits they can derive by doing business with you.

Think of marketing as ongoing education. You are educating customers, prospects, and referral sources why it’s in their best interest to do business with your company.

There are only 5 ways to grow your business:

  1. Keep the customers you have,
  2. Bring in more customers,
  3. Increase the average transaction size (unit sale),
  4. Increase the frequency of purchases, and
  5. Say “no” to bad customers/prospects.

In short, keep what you have, bring in more customers, sell larger amounts to them, and sell to them more often. Do one of these well and your business grows. Do two or more of these well, and your business can grow by quantum leaps and bounds, geometric growth instead of mere linear growth.

For this article, we will focus on strategy #1, keeping the customers you have. Don’t underestimate the need to satisfy and retain customers. Most businesses put too much money, time, and effort into chasing new customers/prospects and far too little resources trying to keep their current ones.

However, we all know that you can’t fill up a bucket if you don’t plug the leaks in the bucket. Real profits and stable revenue streams come from long-term relationships and repeat business with your current loyal, profitable customers. Some experts declare that 80% of a company’s future growth comes from existing clients, if served and cultivated properly. As such, customer satisfaction and retention should be your #1 marketing priority.

The primary purpose of a business is to attract and retain customers. You can’t grow and remain in business without keeping the customers you currently have. First, you must measure your current attrition rate (loss of customers) and set a goal for dramatically reducing this rate.

For example, let’s say, on average, that you lose 20% of your customers every year. A realistic goal would be to reduce this attrition rate to 10% per year.

Bottom line, it is easier and nearly eight times cheaper to serve and retain current clients/customers than to pursue new ones.

Once you have plugged the holes in your attrition bucket, you want to serve better and get closer to these profitable and worthy customers. You want to better understand their needs and then fulfill as many of these needs as possible with additional products and services. Continually communicate with your customers. Educate them. Give them value. Give them solutions. Focus on them and their needs, not on your products/services.

Communicate with them in person, in letters, in faxes, in emails, via your website, brief newsletters, etc. Don’t worry; you can’t over-communicate with your customers. Like employees, keep them informed, involved, and inspired to continue doing business with you. Also, repeatedly ask your customers the following questions:

  • “How are we doing?”
  • “What other needs do you have?” and
  • “How could we improve our value to you?”

Your objective is to provide them with more value more frequently and as a result, you will benefit with more profits. Never sell a customer only once. Real profits come from repeat business. As such, set goals to increase the frequency and size of repeat business. You want ongoing relationships and ongoing sales. Also remember, marketing is about educating your customers.


Ken David is the president of The Growth Coach® in Haslett, MI, a business coaching firm dedicated to helping business owners get more out of their businesses and personal lives.

The Basic Argument for Advertising in a Recession

advertising in recession

from The Wall Street Journal
(publication information unknown)
View the original article

When times turn bad, they’re made worse by hesitation, halfway measures, and panicky decisions. Such as the decision to reduce or eliminate advertising. The fact is, companies that maintain or increase their advertising spending during recessions get ahead. A less crowded field allows messages to be seen more clearly, and that increased visibility results in higher sales both during and after a recession.

Recessionary Advertising Works

Studies by the American Business Press examined the relationship between advertising and sales in 143 companies during the severe 1974/75 downturn. They found that companies that did not cut advertising either year had the highest growth in sales and the net income during the two study years and the following two years. The studies also proved that companies that cut advertising during both years had the lowest sales and net-income increases during the two study years and the following two years.

And not surprisingly, companies that cut advertising during only one of the recession years had sales and net-income increases that fell in between.

Long-Term Benefits

A study by McGraw-Hill of both the 1974/75 and 1981/82 recessions confirmed the long-range advantage of keeping a strong advertising presence. It found that companies that cut advertising in 1981/82 increased sales by only 19% between 1980 and 1985, while companies that continued to advertise in 1981/82 enjoyed a 275% sales increase.

An industry-specific study published by the Harvard Business Review found that airlines that increased their advertising expenditure during 1974/75 increased sales and market share in both years, while airlines that cut advertising in both years lost sales and share both years.

The results of all three studies are consistent, clear and unequivocal: Those companies that advertise during a recession have better sales than those companies that don’t.

The way to minimize a downturn and take maximum advantage of the upturn is to maintain a strong communications link with your buying public.


Recession? Don’t Run Scared

by Marcia Yudkin

During a recession, scared businesses tend to cut back on marketing expenses. This appears to be the smart bet. After all, most customers have become more cautious about spending. So why not conserve your resources, wait out the downturn and have funds to spend when the economy picks up?

In fact, smart businesses expand during a recession because they know there will be a shakeout caused by the scared businesses shrinking.

During any recession, there are always more than enough clients out there to keep you busy if you continue to market, and market smartly. Capitalize on your strengths. Make the most of your business relationships. Create or revive programs that enable customers to move ahead. (I just filled a seminar teaching a highly marketable specialized skill.) Above all, stay upbeat, putting the dynamics of self-fulfilling prophecies in your favor.

If you behave like the scared businesses, or target them, you will contract. If you market to the smart businesses during a recession, you will continue to prosper.

It’s up to you.


Get ideas for marketing moves during a recession from articles I’ve written, including “Clone Your Best Customers,” “Getting New Business Fast” and “Creating a Reputation.” Inspiration costs nothing! Marketing strategy articles: http://www.yudkin.com/marketingmoves.htm


The Sky Is Falling

By Robin Sieger

Speaking to people in business at the moment, there appears to be a storm on the horizon. The newspapers and media are having a field day discussing the rate of inflation, the spiraling cost of oil, the increased number of redundancies, the drop in house prices, the difficulty encountered when borrowing money from the banks, and the all-time favorite the cost of living.

If you’ve spent time living in Great Britain, or know British people, you will know that our favorite topic of conversation is the weather, which is not as surprising as it may sound as we still are the only nation on earth where you can have all four seasons on the same day.

But the favorite topic of conversation now has moved on to the economy (so things must really be serious). The economic downturn has affected everybody, even successful business friends of mine have quite seriously told me they think they’re going to go broke. No amount of positive attitude in the world and well intentioned clichés are going to change their thinking. They have borrowed heavily from the banks to build a business and now the rate of interest is increasing and the value of the businesses is decreasing. Bad times!

I can’t remember the magazine, but it was about nine years ago that I read a fascinating article in which four billionaires were interviewed. The one thing they had in common was they were all over 80 years of age. The interviewer basically asked them about the 20th century from a business point of view. The four interviewees said they had lived through a number of recessions, and one estimated in the 20th century there had been eight periods of recession. They all saw them as occupational hazards.

One of them gave an analogy based on a love of sailing. He said when the wind blows in, you get the sails up and travel fast and far. When the storm approaches, you take in the sails, make the ship safe and hang on. He added when you sense the worst of the storm has passed, you get your sails back up as fast as you can and get going. The biggest indicator of hope is that after the storm comes a period of calm and opportunity that you must never lose sight of.

For many of you, there is stormy weather ahead—how severe and how long it will last I don’t know. I only know that I will keep my eye keenly on the horizon and the moment I sense the storm is breaking start, I’ll put up all the sails I can. In business, recessions come and go just as opportunities come and go, but you must never lose sight of the opportunities that the storms often wash up on the shore.

In the meantime, I’m going to wait until people start talking tentatively about the weather again, which will be a good sign.


Robin Sieger, from Scotland, now divides his time between between Europe and America. He is a successful businessman, best selling author, and broadcaster with offices in the UK and Charlotte, NC. He is a leading success strategist and has a world-class reputation as a conference speaker who passionately delivers high-impact presentations that are informative, inspiring, and entertaining. Robin’s humor and ability to emotionally connect with audiences has seen him become the first choice speaker at major conferences around the world. For more information visit www.siegerinternational.com or email robin@siegerinternational.com.

How to Create Engaging Content as a Finance Professional

blog marketing finance pros

Most people’s attention span is a fraction of what it was just a few years ago. The onslaught of digital tools has made us ‘skimmers,’ just as you may be doing right now.

As our brains act like a sieve, creating engaging content in any industry can be a challenge. Creating engaging content as a finance professional is one of the most difficult. It requires even more challenges than an average blog, article or the like.

Making finance interesting and even humorous is a fine line between sounding like an amateur or a professional. Yet, this is what engages a following. It can be much more of an uphill climb, but it can be done.

Out with the Old

In the financial world, a plethora of pertinent information is readily available but is often perceived as dry, mundane material that revolves around statistics, numbers and future predictions. This can often sedate readers into half-engagement, if any engagement at all. They want to retain the information but getting there can be a chore and for some it becomes a “par for the course” expectation.

However, what if your content not only informs but also draws in your reader to the point that they not only read every word, they come back to your info as well as recommend it to others? This is the Holy Grail for anyone wanting to get their work noticed, especially if it goes viral.

In a blog or article you want to gear your tone to the emotional side of finance as well as the practical. This, of course, doesn’t mean that your work should be fraught with so much emotion you lose your reader. It means that any feelings you may experience in your field are probably shared by others. Use these clues to keep it real but not over the top.

Outline

Like any finance project, before you decide to write content you need to know what and how you’re going to lay it out. Create an outline that covers the beginning, middle and end of what you want to say. Once this technical step is covered, adding in some personalization is next.

The Personal Take

Here is where it get’s tricky. Unless you are a known professional in your field that people want to listen to, chances are that self-indulgent work may immediately turn off your reader. Therefore, stick to writing in the third person putting your views into the eyes of the reader.

Stay Detailed

It is all well and good to write like a literary novelist but if you don’t say something meaningful with proof to back it up there’s no chance anyone will care. Lay out your content with bullet points, quoted financial analysis that is up to date, current events and news and various opinions (other than your own). All references must be sourced at the bottom of the page or as a hyperlink.

Title It Right

Using technical jargon in a title may be exactly what your reader will respond to. However, creating a “hook” that stands out from the rest could be your foot in the door. For example, if you are writing about how new technology has affected trading behavior you could use a title such as, ‘Machines Takeover: Trading in a Nanosecond.’

Go Digital Crazy

Getting read across social media platforms is the best form of self-marketing. When it comes to your engaging content this is where you can not only test it out but receive some actual feedback. Sure, grandma and all your loved ones may swoon but many social media users feel safe enough to spout their honest opinion.

Here a few tips to get your stuff on the social media highway:

  • Open Accounts – You should belong to every platform and any that are on the horizon. Unless you want to limit yourself to only financially related threads, connect and be able to link back to Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter.
  • Open Your Mouth – Get word-of mouth recommendations of where your colleagues might connect.
  • Don’t just LinkPosting a link on your Facebook page to your blog or recent published work often gets lost in the sauce. Copy and paste a sample along with your link to hook a new reader.
  • Link Back – Many sites offer a ‘link back’ hyperlink or bottom source posting to your site(s) if you offer them a guest article. Others allow this in lieu of pay. Either way, finding someway to bring readers back to what your article refers to enables a solid reference that makes your work look credible.

How to create engaging content as a financial professional takes a ‘thinking outside the box’ approach to surpass all the competition. Stay clever and creative to make your work get noticed.

marketing for financial professionals

Megan Ritter is an SEO professional, writer and graduate student who lives in Los Angeles. You may follow her at https://twitter.com/megmarieritter.

Building Customer Loyalty

by Jack Pyle

Four years of Gallup Organization polls say consumers believe service quality in the U.S. has fallen and will continue to fall. Brand loyalty has been declining for years. The biggest gripes of customers are failure to do work correctly, slowness, high cost and employees who are unqualified, indifferent or even rude.

Some typical examples of poor service:

  1. Government agencies that emphasize paperwork rather than personal service. And many federal offices have almost incomprehensible voice mail systems.
  2. Hospitals whose first concern seems to be patients’ finances rather than healing.
  3. Car dealers who are only open for sales and service when their customer have to be at work.

The goal of organizations should be to provide value to the customer. But in most organizations, rules and policies are more important than customer needs.

Many managers take the wrong approach to building customer loyalty. They work on customer service-defined by the organization. The emphasis should be on customer satisfaction-defined by the customer. To build customer loyalty, you must focus on customer satisfaction.

The only way to know what your customers want is to ask them. Both qualitative and quantitative research is helpful. Build a customer satisfaction model. Ask managers and employees what customers want, and determine what employee behaviors will deliver it. Then ask customers to review the model and make changes.

Often the internal model is not what customers want. A hotel industry story illustrates this. A seminar group was asked to create a model of the service they wanted during coffee break. Then their trainer asked hotel management and service employees what was important in setting up coffee service.

Hotel people said coffee should be of highest quality and well brewed, served in polished urns with attractive china on a well-arranged table. What did their customers want? None of the above. They wanted fast service-no long lines. And they wanted phones and restrooms nearby. Not a single item hotel people considered important for good service was valued by their customers!

Is customer service worth the trouble?
A loyal customer spends about $150,000 over a lifetime with a car dealer. Does it make sense to argue over a $100 part? American Express research says a loyal customer spends about $180,000 over 10 years-employees make extraordinary efforts to keep them happy. Service is so good that U.S. citizens in trouble overseas are far more likely to call American Express than the U.S. Embassy.

Poor service causes 42% of customers to switch banks. Only 14% of car owners switch dealers because of the cars-68% switch because of “indifference” from sales and service employees.

Good service creates legends-and profit leadership.

  • Federal Express spawned an industry by providing a new customer service-reliable overnight delivery.
  • Nordstrom’s chain of fashion specialty stores saw sales skyrocket 700% in 10 years while profits soared nearly as fast.
  • Embassy Suites beats competition almost every way and is growing 10 times faster than the hotel industry. It recently was rated first by Consumer Reports readers against both mid-priced and high-priced chains.
  • Scandinavian Airlines saw its bottom line change from an $8 million loss to $72 million in profits 18 months later, following a $30 million investment to change its business approach and focus on service for the business traveler.

How do dissatisfied customers behave?
Managers still tend to think their customers are satisfied because few complaints come to their attention. Classic research conducted during the Carter Administration revealed 96% of dissatisfied customers do not complain. Smart managers use this research. They know that for every complaint, there are about 25 other customers with the same problem. If the problem is not resolved, they know people with problems will tell 10-20 people.

Smart managers encourage people to complain to the company and make it easy for them to do so because:

  • Complainers are more likely than non-complainers to buy from the organization again-even if their problems aren’t resolved.
  • 54-70% of complainers remain loyal to organizations when complaints are well handled; 95% will do business again if problem is resolved quickly.
  • Complainers whose problems are resolved tell five others about the good service they received.

The cost of getting a new customer is 3-5 times the cost of keeping an existing one. Yet most organizations spend 80-90% of their marketing budgets seeking new customers.

Creating a service organization
Building customer loyalty means creating a customer-centered management and staff. Service leaders typically do the following:

  1. Research. Excellent customer service professionals know that you begin with open-ended questions, focus groups and other non-directive methods to find out what customers really value and want from the organization.

    Common research mistakes include asking the wrong questions. One failure mode is to ask staff to brainstorm a list of service attributes, then turn them into a customer questionnaire. This approach gives you data for developing a service strategy that supports the existing approach.

  2. Develop a service strategy. Create a simple, long-term strategy focused on customer needs based on your research. It is difficult to provide excellent service to more than one market segment. Liz Claiborne and Frito-Lay concentrate on store owners, not consumers; Scandinavian Airlines and Embassy Suites target business travelers. Shelby Williams Industries sells chairs only to hotels and restaurants. (It owns the largest share-20%-of a tough commodity market.) Every aspect of American Express service is shaped by research. Frequent focus groups and two-hour follow-up interviews are used to develop 4-page customer satisfaction surveys which are sent to 12,000 customers annually.
  3. Encourage two-way communication. It’s an essential foundation for building employee and customer satisfaction. Managers and executives must model the behavior they expect from others. They need to learn to ask questions and listen well. Recent research has shown most quality improvement and worker empowerment programs fail because top managers continue their autocratic methods.
  4. Educate the organization. An absolute truth for creating customer satisfaction is that you first must achieve employee satisfaction. To develop a customer-service culture, front-line employees must be allowed and encouraged to make decisions. That’s where the service action is!

    Education is more than a training seminar. People forget 90% of what they hear in one week, according to communication research. Education is a continuous process which includes on-going formal training and on-the-job reinforcement. Managers and supervisors must be trained to be mentors and coaches so they help employees rather than give orders.

    Typical service training at most corporations involves a $1,000 expenditure per site. There is little on-the-job training, no follow-up to training and few programs to motivate employee behavior, such as bonuses. Only front-line employees are trained (sometimes only those in customer service departments). Usually there is no training for managers and supervisors.

The right kind of training is essential
Contrast that with training done by America’s service leaders. A survey by Citicorp of 17 companies known for excellent service showed that service training costs for front-line employees, managers, and executives averaged 1-2% of sales. Typical training programs share two key concepts:

  1. Vertical cross training. where employees learn jobs above and below their own level. Delta and Singapore Airlines require flight attendants to learn to handle reservations and trace lost luggage before they can fly.
  2. Horizontal cross training, in which employees learn most of the other jobs at their level. Hotels and food chains pay hourly workers extra to learn most of the hourly jobs.

Why cross training? It allows job switching and creates better understanding of how organizations operate, helps employees more easily solve customer problems and increases employee self esteem. Everyone has done the work of sales clerk at Nordstrom; at McDonalds everyone has flipped burgers; everyone can inspect a room for cleanliness at Embassy Suites; Avis vice presidents work at the front desk serving customers; and every officer has fielded customer complaints at Xerox.

Is it worth all this effort? Research suggests customers remain loyal to good service organizations even when things go wrong. Customers tend to be sympathetic when they feel a front-line employee cares about them, understands their needs and does his/her best to fix things.


Jack Pyle, APR, Fellow PRSA, builds trust by improving face-to-face communication through his company Face to Face Matters, Inc. His strategies and training help organizations with change, teamwork, leadership and crisis response.

Personal to Pro: Selling Ideas Like a Motivational Speaker

public speaking

One of the most important ingredients for a successful, happy and harmonious life is the ability to communicate effectively. Life is built upon relationships, and one of the components of positive, successful connections is good communication. This applies in both your personal and professional life.

Motivational speakers are known for their skilled communication abilities, and we can learn a lot from them. Whether you work for an existing company or are an entrepreneur, the only way you’ll be able to sell your ideas is by communicating what you’re offering in an effective and compelling way. The same goes for having a satisfying personal life. Here are five of the hallmark strengths of the very best motivational speakers that you can incorporate into your own communication style:

1. Know Your Audience

Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Every customer, individual or group you will be addressing is unique. Get to know their background as well as their primary wants, needs and concerns. Focus on the individual aspirations of each person you speak to, whether it’s an employee, a customer, your child or your life partner.

2. Establish Credibility

If you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’ll likely have to work to establish credibility and earn their trust. If you’re pitching new ideas, define a proven methodology ahead of time that you can explain and help compel your audience. Whether your agenda is personal or professional, create a detailed, step-by-step, clear plan for success. Your credibility will rise exponentially if you can point to past successes based upon the same formula.

3. Learn From the Best

When choosing and refining your communication style, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Look to successful speakers and great leaders that you admire and glean ideas and inspiration from them. For example, consider Josh Shipp or Ed Young; according to inc.com, Shipp is a motivational sensei, employing both his youthful spirit and sense of humor to relate to audiences. Ed Young, the founder of Ed Young Fellowship Church, uses a creative communication style that helps to make even complex ideas easy to understand and apply, according to FellowshipChurch.com.

4. Build a Genuine Connection

While this tip will be easier to apply in your personal life, it can be invaluable in your professional life as well. No matter who the person is, no matter what their background or walk of life, you can relate to them on an authentic personal level. All you have to do is speak from the heart and have true empathy for them as a fellow human being. We all want pretty much the same things in life: security, peace of mind and to be appreciated. If you relate to every person you meet with this in mind, your relationships are likely to thrive.

5. Expect the Best of People

A positive attitude and outlook can go a long way toward success in every area of your life. Try and enter into every human interaction with an expectation of the highest and best outcome from the exchange. Visualize your ideal scenario with that person before the meeting begins. Expect the very best from people, and you’ll likely be amazed at what transpires.

public speaking

Sean Patterson is an English instructor and is working on his first screenplay.

A Review of ‘Killing Us Softly’

killing us softly

Have you ever noticed how an actress or model looks seems to play a more vital role in an advertisement than the message they deliver? In her presentation, Killing Us Softly, Jean Kilbourne elaborates how an ad sells better than the product itself. Why? An ad can convey esoteric concepts, as well as simple product value. Concepts such as love, sexuality, dreams of success or normalcy are underpinning currents carried by most of today’s advertisements.

Advertisements tell us who we are and who we want to be. They define a person in ways that even their own heritage cannot. With every other woman on the television or in the magazines looking fair and beautiful, girls in their teens assume this is the norm by which to conform. The kind of clothes, the shoes, the makeup, the must have handbags and even minor accessories like headbands and gloves attract these young minds easily with their color and glamor.

As Kilbourne points out, lured into believing the airbrushed world of advertising by a young age, it becomes easy for girls to lose track of their identities, growing uncomfortable in their own skins. This has been the case with majority of the models in the past decade. Too many stories tell of models and starlets falling into hospitals or rehab centers, where the worst cases face traumatic disorders—sometimes leading to death.

According to Jean, advertisements carry only one main message these days for women and that is to look good. She illustrates examples where women celebrities have admitted to the high degree of photo retouching in their own advertisements. Quoting supermodel Cindy Crawford, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”

sexy peta ad

Most women in cinema and fashion have fallen prey to the post-production effort to make them appear slimmer, taller, bustier or fairer. Kilbourne gives various examples of entertainers and models (Kiera Knightley, Jessica Alba and Kelly Clarkson, to name a few) who have been Photoshopped to achieve magazine-worthy looks. Not all actresses have gone along with this quietly, Kilbourne says. Titanic star Kate Winslet has publicly announced she looks nothing like her image on the cover of the British GQ magazine.

Kilbourne feels this treatment of women is equivalent to an act of indirect violence. To live up to this airbrushed ideal, many women resort to dieting and other fast and dangerous methods to reduce their weight. Prime examples here, she says, are the models who grow thinner and thinner, year after year. A dire example, Ana Carolina Reston died of anorexia after being called ‘too fat’ by a modeling agency. Kilbourne asserts such cases have now become an all too common occurrence in the fashion industry.

Continuing her argument, Kilbourne points to the growing objectification of the female form. Many of today’s advertisements are more focused on certain physical attributes of women, further contributing to the not-so-subliminal emphasis given to an unhealthy, unrealistic ideal. The direct impact this has on a woman’s self-esteem is often neglected. This objectification of women has evolved into a form of social violence, Kilbourne says. It has become a public health issue that threatens every female around us and it places upon us the responsibility to hedge our daughters against it.

In today’s world advertisements market the women and not the product. You see nudity in everything. From a simple CD cover to a beer advertisement, women are portrayed in varying levels of nudity. What once was a crime is now a trend. So the most important question asked here is, what is being marketed to women? What does she think when she goes to an agency and is asked to strip off her clothing along with her dignity? In the age where money is paid for any kind of service, most women do not really understand the repercussions of their actions. Either they are too desperate and in need or they simply are not educated enough to look for a better job.

sex in advertising

Jean Kilbourne has done a marvelous job hitting the right points to convey the depth and seriousness of the issue at hand. Her inspired determination to enlighten us about the imagery we are allowing at the newsstands is a wake up call.

As a father of two daughters (and two sons—not to overlook them in the whole self-image crisis,) I have a keen interest in sheltering my children for as long as possible from the damaging effects of “news-stand beauty.” Jean’s message in Killing Us Softly is loud and clear. I pray it takes us by the throat and gives us the good rattle we need to wake up and break out of our dive.

Matt

big data

Update: August 8, 2013

Dove has done it again. This time, they’ve taken their argument for natural, untouched portrayal of beauty straight to the creatives holding the smoking gun. This time, it’s in the form of an Easter egg–a hidden message or feature in software. When the guilty, image-enhancing creative attempts to apply the skin glow effect advertised by a free Photoshop plugin, they get a message meant just for them. Brilliant.

Enjoy!

Big Data and the Future of Digital Marketing

marketing big data

It’s no secret that the world of marketing has become increasingly sophisticated in the ever-evolving world of digital media. This new complexity is derived from marketing data becoming exponentially more massive and fueled by today’s discerning, fluctuating consumer base. Big data is here, and it’s changing everything.

What is Big Data?

We produce and consume roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily, and 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years alone, according to IBM. Whether we like it or not, all of the data we’re dealing with and managing in the web marketing space is big data. In a nutshell, big data is information that is gathered from social media, GPS, photo sites and general Internet browsing — pretty much anywhere that thousands of users congregate to post and download information produces massive data sets referred to as big data.

Big Data: The Future of Marketing

Five years ago, the idea of web marketers leveraging big data to deepen their understanding of potential customers was laughable. The cost alone of backing up terabytes upon terabytes of marketing data on a daily basis was almost overwhelming. But now with the advances of storage, managing big data in the marketing environment is easier than ever. Many companies are taking advantage of online backup comparison sites that help ensure realistic and affordable prices for online data storage.

Beyond the lowered cost of managing big data, big data-centric social businesses have received a lot of interest from investors over the past few years. Many of these social businesses — Facebook, LinkedIn, Vitrue, Buddy Media, etc — are all resources that marketers use on a daily basis. This is all outstanding news for the marketing community. Never before in advertising and marketing have millions upon millions of users all congregated in the same place. But the big problem with this social business trend, according to Business Insider, is a lack of effective measurement.

This is where big data analytics come into play. It allows marketers to gain sophisticated data on millions of users and social impressions in a single, unified big data analytics dashboard.

Big Data in Healthcare

One of the major industries benefiting from big data technology is healthcare. Big data technologies are making it easier for healthcare professionals to manage data that both helps increase the efficiency of mission-critical healthcare processes and makes it easier to help patients of all kinds. With the right systems in place, healthcare facilities can easily understand and deliver data to patients and other professionals throughout the facility. Big data streamlines these healthcare processes through a combination of virtual administrative assistants (not unlike Apple’s Siri), data mining and analysis, data collection and market analysis, as TechTarget notes.

Big Data in the Entertainment Industry

Big data is even reaching its way into the marketing sector of the entertainment industry. Take the film industry for instance. The film industry needs to embrace this new era of big data to keep up with the growing demands of tomorrow’s moviegoers, opines Steve Canepa on Business Insider. This idea of big data and entertainment industry marketing even trickles down to the video game industry. As more games become social and rely on sophisticated user data, the only way to keep up is through the use of big data technologies.

big data

Guest post by Sarah Phelan, everyone’s favorite IT gal. She does tech reviews on the latest in virus protection software and web hosting.

Harmonizing Your 2013 Marketing Strategy is Simple, Really

2013 marketing ideas

Harmonize your marketing channels by “seamlessly coordinating messages and offers across all offline and digital channels that include: point of sale, direct mail, call center, social, mobile, web and email,” suggests Chief Marketer Network. Email campaigns alone will not get you noticed. With the Information Age comes easier accessibility to any businesses that are active online. With that comes the challenge to get recognized and stand out from the rest. It’s now more important than ever to align your message/brand across all platforms in order to reach a diverse demographic.

Streamline Your Marketing Strategy

What exactly are the best marketing tactics to gain recognition for your brand? It’s actually simpler than you might think. Mix your campaigns by sending quality, focused direct marketing through the mail, followed by a smart email campaign and then an astute social platform. By tapping into physical mail as well as email methods and social media, you’re maximizing the potential of your marketing campaigns. And, if you need an advertising revolution, the unconventional is becoming the norm with guerrilla marketing. While it may seem simple, don’t miss a step.

Direct Mail

Small businesses are now coordinating and streamlining marketing messages across different advertising platforms. In-house organization systems such as Pitney Bowes mail services give easy access to marketing and communications tools that help small businesses do this. Don’t send direct mail to just anyone. Study demographics and target market your print collateral. You can gather this information from InfoUSA and USA Data to gather specific leads more likely to benefit you with this method of advertising. Small business consultant Evan Carmichael suggest you keep these things in mind when creating your direct mail:

  • Set an objective
  • Include an incentive to take action
  • Proofread, edit, proofread and edit again
  • Write a captivating headline
  • Do a test run

Phone

What happened to picking up the phone and calling someone? It’s not dead—personal communication, you know. Be sure to target this type of marketing specific to geo- and demographics. Don’t call a household in Florida and offer them a Jack-in-the-box coupon. The closest location is two states away in either direction. However, you could call a household in Miami and ask them to take a quick survey on their most recent experience with your new Miami business-finder app.

Web

Getting active on the web is imperative in the 21st century. Create a unique website and coordinating landing pages. All of these forms of contact can lead customers to your landing page, which captures their information and helps you convert them into legitimate leads. People need prompts. They need to be directed through the magical maze of the web. You don’t want to run the risk of getting them lost in your site and eventually directing themselves away.

Social

Become active on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Add sharing buttons to your email newsletters and your web content for social media integration. You have to be a part of the game. Crowd-sourcing is the new word-of-mouth. Once you are placing yourself on several social platforms, you will have people sharing your valuable content and traffic will increase. If you’re not social, you might be left out of the game.

Mobile

SoLoMo marketing — social, local, mobile. By activating a mobile device at any onsite location, one can instantly be connected to his social graph. Utilize smart phones in your small business marketing plan by incorporating QR codes in your direct mail, email and web materials in order to entice current and potential customers to your site by offering them reasonable offers and rewards.

Email

Don’t promise something you can’t deliver. (Rule No. 1: If you say “Free!” it better be free.) Email is a powerful tool if you know how to use it, especially if you have a small company with a smaller marketing budget. Getting crafty with your headline can lure current and potential customers in just as easily as a bad subject line can get your efforts deleted in one click of a button. Forbes reports that adding personalization in the subject line increased open rates by an average of 40 percent. Consider making an offer the customer can’t refuse in the subject line like, “Private Invite: Respond before Friday at five.”

Guerrilla Marketing

When all else remains stagnate, implement the outrageous … release the beast. Small-scale stunts offer a low-cost solution to your marketing woes. Remember 2002, when Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins sported a goldenpalace.com henna body tattoo on his back during a middleweight boxing match? A measly $100,000 helped that company become a household name. Guerrilla marketing intercepts public spaces and engages the consumer to have a memorable brand experience.

POS (Point of Sale)

While having an inventory system may seem not to have anything to do with marketing, it has everything to do with keeping your business running seamlessly. This in turn gives you an advantage because your processes are smooth, allowing you time to focus on your marketing. Having point-of-sale system software is fundamental in centralizing your business. Organizing your brand and inventory can help determine what type of marketing is working and what is not. Inventory control is essential in maintaining the efficiency of your operations, allowing you to make better use of your staff.

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Stephanie Cole is a freelance writer from North Carolina.

Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival, March 3, 2013

Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival

Welcome to the March 3, 2013 edition of the Marketing Ideas 101 blog carnival. This edition was originally scheduled for February 5, but.. well.. best laid plans and all. Thank you all for your submissions (over 50!) Here are the 14 finalists. Enjoy!

Matt

Blogging & Social Media

Jon Rhodes presents How To Get A Guest Post Published posted at Affiliate Help!, saying, “This article shows you some of the thought processes of a guest post publisher, which can be looked at to help increase your chances of getting published.”

Dana Sitar presents 6 1/2 Things To Stop Doing on Twitter in 2013 posted at DIY Writing, saying, “As much as I love all my tweeps, though, I can’t help but still be completely annoyed at some common bad practices on the network. I know if you’re committing these faux pas you probably don’t even realize how annoying they are, so I’m sharing this post to enlighten you and give you a chance to make things right as we start fresh this new year.”

Meg A. presents How to increase your online influence in just 30 minutes a day posted at Bloom Online, saying, “Three simple ideas to help you build your online influence and reach, build your network and increase your sales.”

Astrid van Dorst presents Further your Social Media Plan posted at Cloud Analysts, saying, “30+ tips to further your social media plan, from the strategic to the practical.”

Ink’d Content, LLP presents Facebook Releases Killer Rabbit posted at Ink’d Content, saying, “Facebook made big waves last week by announcing its first new product in seven years: Graph Search… and it subverts the need for the rest of the Internet.”

Deena presents Twitter Primer for Authors posted at E-BookBuilders, saying, “This was a beginners informational post I did for authors but the same information applies for small businesses just getting started with Twitter as part of their social media efforts.”

Creativity & Inspiration

Byteful Travel presents How to Release Attachment to Outcomes & Embrace Joy in the Present Moment posted at Byteful Travel, saying, “Have you ever felt like you weren’t doing enough? That, no matter how much you created, you could still do better? Have you ever had a feeling of quiet doom in the back of your mind? I know I have, and the good news is, you’re definitely not alone. It seems to be pretty common among creative and intelligent types, and today we’re going to explore the antidote: non-attachment.”

Marketing Best Practices

grimm560 presents This Should Be Called 12 Essential Marketing Tips For Up And Coming Artists, But Its Not posted at Grimm Factor Music, saying, “This post was created to give some ideas to up and coming musicians that may not know how to best set up their inbound marketing campaigns or if their efforts thus far have not gotten them far.”

Angela Giles presents Tweeting Tips For Newbies posted at Showcasing Women, saying, “This is an article I wrote for best practices for tweeting. Thanks for the consideration. Learn. Share. Thrive. Angela!”

Marketing Ideas

Theresa Torres presents 6 Tips for Pitching Your Startup to the Media posted at Business 2 Community, saying, “If you’re a business owner, there are traditional and nontraditional ways that you can use to get the word out about your product or service. Here are some tips to help you get customers’ attention better.”

Peter J. Buscemi presents Leverage Marketing, Sales Development, Sales Enablement & Executives to Sell posted at Four Quadrant, saying, “Every company has a finite set of resources so it easy to understand why each functional area is usually at or near full capacity with Sales being no exception.Assume the sales pipeline has six primary phases that include: qualified opportunity, forecast, technical win, executive win, contracts and closed won.”

SEO & Driving Traffic

Chief Dodo presents See How Easily You Can Get More Traffic With 6 Simple Steps posted at Dodo University, saying, “An Article Highlighting 6 tips on how to increase the amount of traffic to any blog.”

Susan Wowe presents SEO Tips | Guest Posts For A Win-Win posted at Online Business – Make Money Online, saying, “Use guest blogging to build up traffic to your websites.”

Harrison presents Link Building Demystified for Small Business (VIDEO) posted at eSpire Marketing, saying, “Find out what link building is, why it is important to your small business, how it drives traffic, and where to get started in this week’s edition of Whiteboard Wednesday.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Pick Your Customers Wisely (or Prepare to Pay the Price)

marketing ideas 101 pick your clients

Chris Lema, VP of Software Engineering at Emphasys Software is a WordPress advocate. He maintains an informative, engaging blog at chrislema.com where he regularly discusses the in’s and out’s of WordPress development, best practices and client engagement. In his post Two Kinds of Customers, he describes two common scenarios in the web development world:

Customer #1: The Savvy

They’re clear about the tasks they want to assign you and have reasonable estimates about how long it should take. They want to know about your availability and cost to see if they can afford you. […] they want a web site, they know they want WordPress used as their CMS. They know that some themes are better than others, so they’re ready to pay for one of the more popular and well-coded ones. […] You get off the phone, having enjoyed your time and no more than a minute goes by before it rings again.

Customer #2: The Neophyte

This customer sounds like they don’t know a thing about what they want. […] They’re not clear on the tasks or why you might be the right answer. They don’t know anything about technology […] And they’re hoping you have time and aren’t too expensive to help them. […] They have no sense of budget and can’t grasp what aspects of the project could be done in minutes verses days. […] All they know is that they need something – and of course, they’ll know it when they see it.

Chris’ big question:

If you could only pick one customer, which do you pick?

pick your customers

At first blush, Customer #2 is the kind of customer I think we all cut our teeth on and eventually strive to get away from. Of course, there are always exceptions to every stereotype. Some of these Customer #2 types turn into fast friends, great advocates and long-time clients, while Customer #1 projects can fall prey to phenomena like bad technical karma, long response times and “design by committee”.

Still, stereotypes exist for a reason and Chris has held up these two for us to consider.

We who have been in business long enough to have been knocked around by customers who think we wave magic wands that materialize websites (widgets, whachamahoozits, whatever.. you name it..) eventually begin to gravitate toward more savvy clients. Why? Less heartache, higher-profile projects and “professional grade” budgets and attitudes.

Yes, margins can be wider for that lower-hanging, Customer #1 fruit. If a customer just needs to migrate to a WordPress platform (as many do), an outsourced migration can offer a wonderful return. We’ll do those too, so long as the prospect answers an extensive questionnaire designed to solidify their vision. If they don’t survive the questionnaire process, we figure they weren’t serious about their project and we have managed to keep our attention on the folks that matter most; those who already know us, like us and rely on us for web and marketing services.

My recommendation: Develop a questionnaire to help you address the price-comparing tirekickers. Include all the questions you typically need to answer in order to develop a proposal. Include questions about their budget, timeline, goals, audience, tone, and competitors. All of this will assist you in bringing together a project that fits the client and it will serve to separate the chaff from the wheat.

P.S.- We recently ‘fired’ a prospect who said he didn’t have time to answer our web design questionnaire (a 7-page Word document.) He wanted an overhaul to his ecommerce site, but resisted updating the look and feel to accommodate a new cart (WooCommerce). When he said he couldn’t find the cart on the example we gave him (it’s located prominently in the horizontal navigation bar) we knew disaster lay ahead. In our eyes, that project was not worth the $5,000 he said he was willing to invest. We have ZERO interest in doing work for folks who don’t have time to invest in their own projects, resist change for the new and better, and have problems navigating websites based on common user interface standards.

Once upon a time–when we were hungry for work–we may have taken this client under our wing. In this case however, I let them know we would not be a fit for what he was looking for and I respectfully referred him to some other web designers in town.

What would you have done?

In support of your efforts,
Matt

Six No-Hype Copywriting Techniques: How to Be Lively, Appealing and Truthful in Sales Writing

marketing ideas copywriting

by Marcia Yudkin

A lot of my clients shrink from using hype in their marketing messages. Hype is a style of overexcited, exaggerated writing that can fire up the eager reader, but at the cost of trust or credibility in the eyes of someone who is temperamentally or professionally skeptical.

how to write the perfect blog post
10 Powerful Blogging Secrets of the Pros that Dramatically Increase Your Readership and Convert Your Prospects into Raving Customers

For instance, here is a hype-y headline of the sort found all around the Internet: “If You Can Write Your Name, You Can Write and Publish a Book in 7 Days – Guaranteed!” Having been a writing teacher, I know that the only way such a claim could be valid would be to play games with the accepted meanings of the words “write” or “book.” People who can write their name cannot necessarily write a coherent sentence or paragraph – much less have enough ideas in their head to fill a book of average length. Because of its implausibility, such a headline is all the more appealing to those who feel impatient for results.

Many copywriting experts hold that if a headline or marketing pitch sells and is not downright illegal for some reason, it’s the right way to write. However, I support my clients’ instinctive recoil from hype and help them with more truthful yet still lively and appealing persuasive techniques. You can create vivid, powerfully persuasive copy without crossing the line into hype by learning these techniques.

No-hype Technique #1: Create rapport with the reader

Think your way into the mind of your ideal customer and express what they’re thinking and feeling. Then build on that. This wins over readers by connecting with where they are and showing them the next logical step. For example:

Wishing that your book in progress could just finish itself already? Writing a book can be an exercise in procrastination, frustration and roadblocks. But when you use the “Two-a-Day” Method, your book gets completed easily, steadily and finally.

No-hype Technique #2: Use emotional words and phrases

Dry, matter-of-fact language isn’t as persuasive as wording that acknowledges and expresses what’s at stake in the customer’s situation and the feelings involved.

BEFORE: Our database offers detailed listings of more than $3.7 billion in available scholarship funding.

AFTER: Access to our members-only database of more than $3.7 billion in free, no-strings-attached scholarship money means you can attend the college of your dreams without enslaving yourself to future loan payments.

No-hype Technique #3: Add colorful details

For every general concept you want to mention, substitute or add specific, concrete details. Abstractions and generalities never hit home as well as statements containing numbers, names, places, stories and other specifics. Also, general statements have little impact because they sound like things we’ve all heard a zillion times. Copywriters call the technique of adding detail “dimensionalizing” because it turns a square little statement into a 3-D patterned shape that the reader has never quite encountered before.

In these two examples from Paul Lemberg’s home page, the section in parentheses dimensionalizes the claim just before it:

  • How to boost sales quickly; (50-100% year-over-year sales increase is not unusual among my clients.)
  • Escalate short-term profits and build long-term equity; (One client recently sold their company for three times what they had been led to expect by the so-called expert investment bankers…)

No-hype Technique #4: Pair problems with solutions

Listing problem after problem that a product solves or prevents can come across as unbelievable and even depressing. The opposite strategy, listing benefit after benefit from the product, can seem too good to be true. When you link the problem with the solution and at least hint at a reason for the positive result, customers feel they’re getting something solid and valuable when they buy.

To illustrate this, here are three bullet points from Susan C. Daffron’s description of her book “Happy Hound: Develop a Great Relationship With Your Adopted Dog or Puppy”:

  • The two main reasons dogs generally jump on people and four ways to convince the dog you really don’t need that type of greeting
  • Six safety instructions you must teach your children not to do to avoid dog bites and the four things they should always do if they encounter a dog they don’t know
  • Three keys for surviving “canine adolescence.” As with human children, adolescence is a time when dogs test limits and try your patience!

(By the way, the numbers in those bullets help dimensionalize the book’s content, exemplifying tip #3.)

No-hype Technique #5: Paint vivid scenarios

Feed the reader’s imagination with what can realistically happen after they buy your product or service. You’re not promising this will happen, but by putting the reader into the future, he or she pictures it happening and feels motivated to have the result.

Here, for instance, is how I fed the reader’s imagination in promotional copy for my report, “Marcia’s Makeovers: 24 Press Releases Transformed from So-So to Sizzling”:

I challenge you to cite a greater return on investment than that produced by a world-class media release that lands you on page 1 of a major newspaper, in a two-page spread in your top industry magazine or in the fluffy final segment of a network newscast. Just one major score like this, and you can milk the credibility payoff for your business practically forever. Inspire a feature story that gets picked up by the Associated Press, and enjoy people all over the world clamoring to get their hands on what you sell.

No-hype Technique #6: Incite curiosity

Reread the bullet points for tip #4, and if you have any interest at all in dog behavior, you’ll find you really, really want to know the techniques that are described there in an incomplete yet tempting fashion. Reference to the “Two-a-Day” Method has the same kind of effect – the reader wants to know “two of what?” Show a little while holding something back.

Like the other five techniques described here, enticing the reader is a truthful, effective, no-hype way to make the reader want to step forward and buy.

marketing ideas leadership

Veteran copywriter and marketing consultant Marcia Yudkin is the author of Persuading on Paper, 6 Steps to Free Publicity and nine other books. She runs a one-on-one mentoring program that trains copywriters and marketing consultants in 10 weeks, providing neophytes with no-hype marketing writing skills and business savvy. For more information, go to http://www.yudkin.com/become.htm

Defining ‘Moments of Truth’ in a Business Customer’s Lifecycle

marketing ideas romancing the customer

by Joseph Fiochetta

There are several critical times during a customer’s relationship where a decision is made–by the customer–to continue or discontinue interacting with a company. This may be the first bill, a customer service call, a retail experience, a Web site…any event that helps clarify the relationship with a particular brand, product, or service.

We call these “moments of truth” and how a marketer interacts with the customers can significantly increase (or decrease) the long-term viability of that relationship. Identifying and anticipating those points of clarify is critical to maintain and grow a profitable customer relationship.

Staying Connected with Customers
For one telecommunications leader, economic and competitive pressures were making it increasingly difficult to attract and keep new customers in a highly competitive space.

New small-to-medium-sized business customers represent a substantial economic gain to this communications services provider because these customers generate a higher percentage of cross-sell opportunities and are one of the faster growth segments in business today. But new customers typically tend to be more vulnerable to competitors and generally churn at a higher rate during the first weeks and months of the business relationship.

Within the company, customer communications were siloed–in the same way that products often are siloed–and “touch points”–points of interaction–with small business customers were driven by regulatory and budget constraints. They were not based on each customer’s actual need. For example, within the company’s old business model, small business customers received multiple contacts from various channels (direct mail, e-mail, teleservices) across various products with no integration.

A customer’s first contact included an informational and legal document to confirm an order–traditionally a generic, off-brand direct mail piece with no offer.

This was followed by a number of different welcome kits from each product category that were sent up to three months after a new customer’s service activation. In addition, customer service was not integrated into the marketing mix so contact with the customer was conducted independent of other channels.

Senior management recognized that the more services a customer purchases from a telecom provider, the less likely customers will take their business elsewhere, but the move from a product focus to a customer focus was not an easy one and required a commitment from multiple stakeholders within the organization. The shift away from how the company was organized versus how customers engaged with the brand created an impact on the organization at strategic, tactical, and operational levels.

Developing a Plan to ‘Onboard’ New Customers
Critical to success was key stakeholder buy-in throughout the process. To combat the problem of new customer turnover, the telecom performed a number of qualitative and quantitative measures necessary to realign the new customer experience.

First, three guiding principles were established to focus the plan:

  1. All communications should generate a measurable response so that management may tell–at an individual level, as well as at the intervention level–what worked and what did not.
  2. Customer-centric communications must be frequent and consistent, targeted, timed, and delivered in a manner that is most appropriate for the individual customer. Tracking preferences and behavior is essential.
  3. Communications should be focused on increasing “stickiness”–which is the ability to keep a consumer coming back for more. Thus, each customer’s value over the time of the relationship is tracked.

The first step was to understand business priorities and analyze and document the telecom’s current state. Through customer focus groups, data analysis, contact mapping, impact analysis, and an environmental scan across multiple industries, a “best-practices approach” to prevent customer churn was developed.

As the company set out to develop best practices in developing new customer communications, it learned that:

  • The first 90 days are critical – there can be as much as a 15% to 20% “take rate” of additional products and services during this initial period.
  • The sooner one can engage a customer, the better.
  • Messages developed early in the relationship should be designed to set and validate customer expectations.
  • Personalization works!
  • Using multiple touch points across a variety of media are preferred by customers – because channel preference is situational.
  • Multiple response channels are essential.
  • Surveying and data gathering are critical components for gaining customer insight. Programs that are data gathering stimulate: customer interaction, transactions (revenue), stickiness (retention), and usage.
  • The velocity of customer communications and engagement should increase during “moments of truth.” Trigger-based programs, ones where offers and dialogue are built upon data-based business rules, can enhance an already effective new customer strategy.
  • Consultative selling is a key part of any customer program and can help avoid negative “moments of truth.” Right-sizing and proactive account management can effectively stem high attrition during choke points in the customer relationship.
  • A product-centric focus is not the key driver in new customer retention. Customer-centric programs that address the lifecycle of the customer through vulnerable periods are more profitable.

From this insight, the company set out to identify the critical milestones for each business customer through time-driven occurrences and data-driven activity. The customer’s “relationship” with the company was marked by five key lifestages: courting, honeymoon, newlywed, settling-in, and getting-the-itch. Within each lifestage, expectations were established and the metrics for success were developed to support the business case for this new change.

Implementing the New Approach
At the core of the company’s new strategy is a precise contact strategy that optimizes each customer interaction. Channel alignment, combined with predictive modeling and analytics as well as customer-centric messaging and creative, is the foundation of this evolving new customer onboarding process.

At each lifestage, the focus and intent of the communications change as a customer progresses from one stage to another. As a result, the telecom is able to identify each stage and allocate the right offer, message, and budget to that customer’s situation. This enables the telecom to communicate with customers when they are prone to churn.

Small business customers are contacted several times within the crucial first six-month period, not including billing and account information. Number of contacts, channel mix, message, and offer are determined by in which lifestage a customer resides. Further, each contact is treated as part of a continuity curriculum, where the conversation with the customer extends over a period of time versus the traditional single message approach.

For example, during the “honeymoon” period, a single welcome kit is sent within five to ten days from service activation (versus 12 weeks). This package establishes the one-to-one dialog with the new customer and thanks the customer for choosing the telecom, delivers product information, sets expectations for the customer experience, and validates the decision to interact with the brand.

While entering the “newlywed” stage, new customers receive messaging that acknowledges the products/services the customer currently has and offers additional solutions or offers based on how they migrate through the telecom’s solutions. The goal of this effort is to provide the customer with evolutionary products or services rather than the telecom’s focus product during that time period.

In the “settling in” period, customers can expect to receive loyalty-based packages with savings designed just for them–so the more detailed the information about the customer, the more dynamic the communication stream, and the more successful (and profitable) the customer interaction.

This right-message, right-time approach extends to other channels throughout the process. The sales and direct marketing channels work closely together to present a consistent and cohesive face to the customer.

Throughout the onboarding period–from service activation through month six, the telecom company is able to “right-size” a customer’s product and service mix through: account reviews, consultative-selling via inbound and outbound telemarketing, and rules-based triggers that can help identify and stem a potential churn event.

Of course, this new approach requires changes to infrastructure, budgets, and available resources that will be deployed over several phases. Although still in the first phase, early indicators point to the success of the new program. The telecom company was able to reduce customer churn, increase sales and revenue, and experience higher overall response rates as a result of the innovation.

By implementing customer-focused communication “best practices,” a marketer in the business-to-business space can optimize the profitability of new small business customers for the long term.

marketing ideas leadership

Joseph Fiochetta is director of strategy for Harte-Hanks, a worldwide, direct and targeted marketing company that provides direct marketing services and shopper advertising opportunities to a wide range of local, regional, national and international consumer and business-to-business marketers. He can be reached at (215)750-6600 or at joe_fiochetta@harte-hanks.com.

Marketing Idea #9: Match Competitors’ Prices

marketing ideas match competitor prices

Offer to match your competition’s prices. Bargain shoppers thrive on being able to bring in your competition’s ads to have you beat the prices. There are a few things that work to your advantage here:

  • Your regular patrons will be less likely to be swayed away from you because of price.
  • The hunt for the lowest price is a process that engages the public and draws attention.
  • You never have to worry about keeping a tab on the competition’s price strategy (but you do have to worry about being able to maintain the same price strategy).

Caution: Make sure your margins allow for price wars. There is something to be said for positioning yourself as the premium product or service in the marketplace. For instance, Ruler or Sage brand archetypes may not want to battle at the low end of the pricing scale since those brands lend more to a moderate to high pricing strategy. In contrast, the Jester or Regular Guy/Girl brand archetypes would be better suited for this tactic, due to their broader mass appeal.

Marketing Idea #18: Start an Affiliate Program

marketing ideas affiliate programs

Create a referral or affiliate program. Otherwise known as making it worth other people’s time to help you reach new clients. The goal of a referral program is to create revenue or to provide some other incentive for those who help you reach more people.

Example: Dreamscape Multimedia offers a referral program with our web hosting service and makes it free to sign up using a simple one-page form. We call it our Prosperity program, as it pays a hefty 50 percent monthly commission* on web hosting accounts you refer to us.

*Giving back 50 percent of a revenue stream may not be possible for your company. Determine what a responsible return might look like, and proceed conservatively at first.

Marketing Idea #25: Always Carry Business Cards

marketing ideas business cards

Always have enough business cards with you. While this seems like it should be obvious, people are still caught off-guard without their business cards. You’ll never know when or where opportunities will arise. Also, whenever you know you’re on your way to a trade show, mixer, or other networking event, make sure you take a lot of business cards. It’s better to have too many than not enough!

Tip: Keep a number of “card caches” around you at all times. Keeping business cards in your car, at your desk, at your home office, and in your briefcase or purse can keep you from looking ill-prepared if you forget to replenish the cards in your wallet.

What NOT to do: I’ve seen people leave their business cards randomly at restaurants, in rest rooms, and on bar counters by registers. Maybe this works, but I’m doubtful. In my mind, this would be even less effective than placing your business card on a bulletin board! Do you really think the wait staff are going to keep you business cards after you leave? Nah. I think they’re going to clean the table and those expensive die-cut, embossed business cards you had to have are going to end up wearing your table scraps in the trash.

Hint: Save your cards for the people who care.

Marketing Idea #2: What is Your Marketing Budget?

Marketing Ideas Marketing Budget

Set aside money for marketing efforts each year. Don’t use it for anything else. Often, we have a tendency to pull our marketing funds from the same pool of money as our operating funds. This habit can reduce an organization’s ability to market itself when the time is right. Be especially protective of your marketing budget; this is the investment that pays the bills.

Below, I’ve reposted a brief article by the Wall Street Journal which discusses the success of companies who remain steady in their marketing efforts, even in the face of a recession. Folks, if this can’t convince you to invest in your own marketing efforts, I don’t know what will.

In support of your efforts,

Matt

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The Basic Argument for Advertising in a Recession

from The Wall Street Journal (publication information unknown)
View the original article

When times turn bad, they’re made worse by hesitation, halfway measures, and panicky decisions. Such as the decision to reduce or eliminate advertising. The fact is, companies that maintain or increase their advertising spending during recessions get ahead. A less crowded field allows messages to be seen more clearly, and that increased visibility results in higher sales both during and after a recession.

Recessionary Advertising Works

Studies by the American Business Press examined the relationship between advertising and sales in 143 companies during the severe 1974/75 downturn. They found that companies that did not cut advertising either year had the highest growth in sales and the net income during the two study years and the following two years. The studies also proved that companies that cut advertising during both years had the lowest sales and net-income increases during the two study years and the following two years.

And not surprisingly, companies that cut advertising during only one of the recession years had sales and net-income increases that fell in between.

Long-Term Benefits

A study by McGraw-Hill of both the 1974/75 and 1981/82 recessions confirmed the long-range advantage of keeping a strong advertising presence. It found that companies that cut advertising in 1981/82 increased sales by only 19% between 1980 and 1985, while companies that continued to advertise in 1981/82 enjoyed a 275% sales increase.

An industry-specific study published by the Harvard Business Review found that airlines that increased their advertising expenditure during 1974/75 increased sales and market share in both years, while airlines that cut advertising in both years lost sales and share both years.

The results of all three studies are consistent, clear and unequivocal: Those companies that advertise during a recession have better sales than those companies that don’t.

The way to minimize a downturn and take maximum advantage of the upturn is to maintain a strong communications link with your buying public.

Marketing Idea #4: Note Those Hot Ideas

Marketing Ideas Hot Ideas

You probably already have ideas and future plans for your company in your head. Put these ideas down in print somewhere. Include a section for collecting marketing ideas and opportunity information. You’ll be amazed at the great ideas you lose track of as you get caught up in your day-to-day efforts. Make it a point to review this file quarterly and delegate the best ideas if you can’t tackle them yourself.

How to Market a New Business


Marketing Ideas for Small Business

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, by now you’ve hopefully come to the conclusion you don’t want to compete with folks selling their services for $5. So then, how to market a new business and build a brand? Here are a few ideas:

First, I would consider your story. Why do you do what you do? Why are you personally invested in your clients’ success? Why have you chosen to make this your personal mission and what can you tell us about your personal mission? What is your ‘why’?

Further, what sets you apart from the other guy or gal? Why would people pick you? What makes you so special? Something does, so what is it? By answering these questions, you are beginning to develop your value proposition.

Testimonials are another useful tool. Go to past clients and ask them why they chose to work with you, what problem they were seeking to solve and how you provided the solution. There is a template here that helps with that:

Marketing Idea #89: Collect Testimonials

 
Don’t have any past clients yet? You may want to do some free work to build up your client porfolio. Once people can see others have trusted you in the past, it becomes easier for them to trust you. Think of this as building social proof.

Case studies are very similar to well-constructed testimonials in that they offer a description of the problem and then tell how you provided the solution and finally communicate the happy result.

Best recommendation: Share before-and-after stories. If you’re a writer, show the ad copy in its prior miserable state and then show the revised ad copy after you’ve finished with it. (“Feel the difference?  Here is how we saw conversion rates improve…” P.S. If you’re not tracking this yet, you need to start!) Another example could be for an orthodontist; here is the patient’s mouth before we fixed their snaggle-teeth, and here is the patient’s sparkling smile after the procedures were completed.

Finally, since we’re on the topic of building a brand, you may want to work through this short brand archetype quiz:

Branding 101: Discover Your Brand Archetype (Quiz)

 
The quiz results will provide you with three archetypes, listed in order of relevance. This will definitely help you determine the “flavor” you want your brand to exude. For instance, if you are a rough and tumble pioneer type, the Explorer archetype may be the archetype you identify with most. Once you know your archetype, you can ensure your ad copy, imagery and brand all align with that archetype, which strengthens your position in the mind of the consumer.

Okay, this should keep you busy for a while. If you have more ideas to share or have questions about applying any of these marketing tactics, leave a comment below!

In support of your efforts,

Matt