- Provide customer testimonials, references, and customer success stories that enable prospects to hear about your company from a relevant point of view.
- Encourage people to get to know you, especially on your website. Promote what you do, what you sell, and your full business address (not your P.O. box). Include your phone number, fax, email address, and other ways to contact you.
- Talk about your history. People are always curious how businesses got started. By providing some background you'll not only personalize your customer's experience but also increase your business legitimacy.
- Popularity sells, so consider providing a list of customers on your website. If you're worried about customer privacy, use a map instead to show customer locations.
- Use professional photos on your website and marketing materials.
- Contribute articles to industry publications, or volunteer to speak at industry events. Start a podcast, create a newsletter or blog, or write a column in a local newspaper that offers how-to guides and helpful tips.
- Portray a professional image by using quality printed marketing materials, forms, letterhead, envelopes, labels, business cards, and more.
- Create a strong online presence through your website, social media, and online business directories (D&B Credibility Review, MerchantCircle, etc.).
- Promote any awards, registrations, certifications, or other reputable, prestigious information that will increase your credibility.
- Create a customer referral program that enables prospects to hear about you from a fellow customer's voice.
- Become involved with your community. Attend local events, buy from local businesses, and sponsor local fundraisers.
- Offer a seminar, training class, or webinar to share your knowledge with others.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Friday, February 22, 2013
You're at a Chamber of Commerce networking meeting or a neighborhood party and meet a new person. Relatively quickly the conversation turns to what you do for a living. You respond, "I'm a (fill in your profession here)." Your new friend tries really hard to express interest and not have their eyes glaze over while discreetly scanning the room to see if they can find somebody more interesting to move on to.
How do you change from boring to being memorable?
Your listener is expecting you to say that you do this or that. Instead, learn how to explain what you do wrapped in a story or an example. Think about how you solved a customer problem with a solution you provided. Make it short, concise, and easy to remember.
Your goal here is to quickly and clearly state a common problem (the antagonist) that your service or solution solves in the form of a story. Obviously, if you can weave in a little drama and excitement, your story will have more impact and become memorable.
You want your listener to imagine themselves being in the circumstance you describe. The next part should be about how you and your company (the hero) came to the rescue and wiped away the problem. You want your listener to be able to easily remember this story, so they can connect you with the story and tell anyone else they meet what solution you provide because they remember your story.
You could stop here and be head and shoulders above most of your competitors, but why stop when you can really amp this up?
Steve Jobs was known for his amazing presentation skills when Apple would unveil a new product. He learned how to demonstrate his new products in such a memorable way that throngs would come from far distances just to attend one of his presentations.
When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, he didn't present it with boring engineering data. Instead, he pulled an iPod out of his shirt pocket and showed the audience that the tiny device held a thousand songs.
Can you think of a prop or example that you could pull out of your pocket that would demonstrate what problem you can solve?
This may not be practical or applicable in your situation, but if you can think of an example like the one below, you can really hammer home your message.
A psychologist raised a glass of water and asked, "How heavy is this glass of water?"
After a few guesses, she replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."
She continued, "The stresses and worries of life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while, and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer, and they begin to hurt. Think about them all day long, and you'll feel paralyzed by them, incapable of doing anything.
"I'm a psychologist that helps you put down that 'glass of water' before you go to bed at night."
Who can forget a story like that?
Your way of demonstrating the problem you solve doesn't have to be elaborate. It doesn't even have to involve a prop. It just needs to be memorable. The key is to be able to quickly use the story and demonstration to connect it with your solution.
The final step is crucial to make this work.
You must practice your story to the point where you not only remember it but where it sounds natural and not scripted. There's a fine line between the two, and your success will hinge on practicing this continually until it becomes second nature.
Your task now is to create your memorable story, come up with a way to demonstrate your solution, and practice it until you can deliver it in 60 seconds or less.
Those 60 seconds will be the difference between being unforgettable and being forgotten in the next 60 seconds.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
But sometimes life gets in the way and throws a curve ball (or two or three!), diverting our eyes from our path just long enough to derail the whole plan.
If you have plans this year to ramp up your business and want to really see it all the way through, there's one thing that can help you stick with the agenda even when things seem to be going sideways.
Solve their pain.
If you can remember that one phrase and make it a theme for your entire year, you'll be much closer to achieving all of your goals than you have ever been.
Your customers, prospects, and even your friends and family have some kind of pain. They're all either actively or unknowingly searching for someone to help them cure their problems. Your task should be to find out what these ills are and then help provide solutions. You'll become the one they always look forward to hearing from because you care about them.
The late Zig Ziglar once said: "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want." It's somewhat ironic that achieving goals in your life and business requires a mind shift change from "me first" to thinking about what's in the best interest of other people.
So as you set your sights on having the best year of your life, remember to always strive to be the one that presents answers to problems and puts the best interests of others before your own. If you can master these skills, you'll never be without a friend and will achieve more goals than you ever have before.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Here are a few tips to consider when creating statement stuffers:
- Highlight a different product or service every month to educate customers about unique products or services they may not know you offer.
- Insert valuable coupons to increase sales and show customer appreciation.
- Use statement stuffers to introduce new personnel or include an employee spotlight as a way for customers to get to know existing staff.
- Provide information about a customer loyalty or customer referral program.
- Use statement stuffers to announce upcoming sales, open houses, holiday events, or corporate anniversary celebrations.
- Reinforce your brand image by coordinating your statement stuffers with your company colors, imagery, logo, and brand.
- To easily track offers, design them as a coupon that must be turned in to redeem the discount.
- If you enclose an exciting offer, consider applying a label to the outside of the envelope to increase excitement. Have it read something like this: "$20 coupon value inside!"
Monday, February 18, 2013
The text on the fortune is rarely profound, yet we still excitedly break open the fortune cookie to see what it says. Why? Because those simple and sometimes silly words illicit an emotional response.
Your products and services are like a fortune cookie. In your mind, they are second to none, but to your audience, you may be one of many.
Your values, vision, and especially your story are like the fortune in the cookie. Your prospects and customers want the fortune as much if not more than the cookie itself because that's how they connect and how they will remember you.
Strive to make your services and products the best they can be. But don't forget to tell the stories behind them, so you can connect with your clients emotionally. That's the key to what will make you unforgettable.
- Create brand recognition by including your logo, tagline, mascot, or other graphic that is tied to your brand.
- Choose images carefully and use them sparingly, so your signature doesn't overpower your message.
- Increase web traffic by enticing readers to visit your web link for a free sample, free white paper, or to subscribe to your newsletter.
- If you include a web link, spell out the address rather than using hyperlinks. This will eliminate trust issues caused by opening an unknown link and will also make it easy for recipients to copy and paste the address into their browser.
- Offer a teaser that entices the reader to ask for more information or to click a link to learn more.
- Personalize your email signature with a photo to help readers put a face with your name.
- Consider adding a brief quotation that represents your business or provides an insight into your personality.
- Create a consistent brand image by standardizing email signatures throughout your company.
- Change up your messaging frequently to keep it fresh and interesting for email recipients.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Charlie and Steve would play the occasional round of golf with some friends. Charlie would tell Steve about the importance of having life insurance for someone in his situation, but without being pushy.
Steve had his reasons for not buying at the time and would always put it off. Charlie, being the good, persistent salesman that he was, would bring up the topic regularly without being annoying.
One morning while Steve was at work, a colleague who was about the same age, with two kids and in seemingly good health, had a sudden, unexpected heart attack and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
Guess who Steve called that very afternoon to get the paperwork started for the life insurance policy he had been putting off for years?
What's the moral of our story as it pertains to your business? You can have the greatest product, the best service, and a great price, yet some of your prospects will still not buy. The reasons are many, and some are a mystery that you won't be able to solve right away.
While you're scratching your head trying to find those answers, your real job is to continually market your services by educating your target audience about what you can do to help them achieve their objectives. Why? Because one day soon, your prospect will be ready to buy, and she will remember the persistent, but pleasant person who has been looking out for her best interest all along.
Charlie knew that secret, and now you do, too.
Friday, February 15, 2013
About a hundred years ago, Bethlehem Steel found itself in trouble operationally. The company's chairman, Charles M. Schwab, hired Ivy to study the company's ills and report back.
After some research and interviews, Ivy handed the chairman his findings and recommendations on a small sheet of paper. He then said, "Follow this, and your company can correct its problems."
This short list of recommendations was directed at all the executives of the company:
- In the evening, each executive was to write down the six most important tasks to be done the next day and arrange them in the order of importance.
- The next day, they would start the first task and finish it before starting anything else.
- After finishing the first task, they would start the second-most important task, finish it, start the third task, and so on down the line.
- After their day's work, before leaving the office, they would spend five minutes reviewing the day's tasks and making a list for the next day. Unfinished tasks could be put on the new list.
- Each executive was to do this for the next 90 days and check the results.
Ivy left the chairman's office, asking him to put the plan into action but to pay him only if the company got results. He further asked to only get paid whatever the chairman thought the advice was worth.
In two weeks, Schwab sent Ivy a check for $25,000. At the time, the average worker in the U.S. was being paid $2 per day, so this was worth approximately $325,000 in today's dollars. He added a note saying this was the most profitable lesson he had ever learned.
Did it work?
Within five years, the Bethlehem Steel Company had become the biggest independent steel producer in the world. Schwab became the best-known steel man of his day and went on to make a hundred-million-dollar fortune.
The story of Lee and the advice he gave to Schwab is well-known in the business and self-development world. But even if you do already know it, it's still worth studying again and again until it's ingrained into your daily habits. The lesson to be learned is the importance of defining top priorities and focusing on those important items until they are finished, rather than letting the mundane and unimportant distract us. Master this habit, and you might be able to write your own $325,000 check.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
If you're one of the wise ones who have penciled this powerful strategy onto your marketing calendar this year, it would be smart to learn from one of the best direct mail sales letters ever written.
In 1974, Martin Conroy wrote a simple, two-page sales letter which was continuously mailed out with very minor changes between 1975 and 2003. Not only did it have amazing longevity, but it was responsible for raking in over a billion dollars in new sales.
This letter was a simple story. The best salesmen, teachers, CEOs, and communicators know that stories told well sell! Whether you're selling something or trying to get others to take action, simple but powerful stories can do much of the heavy lifting for you.
There are many reasons this piece proved to be so successful. The classic formula of attention, interest, desire, and action are beautifully articulated in the piece. Here are a few other lessons to learn:
- It pulls you in with a story and emotional hook which makes you want to read more.
- It's simple and clear, so you can follow to the end without getting lost.
- Emotions and hot buttons are weaved throughout the copy so your interest remains high.
- The benefits are crystal clear.
- There's a clear call to action.
- It offers a risk-reversal and guarantee for those on the fence.
- It makes a promise and restates that promise at the end.
- It provides three options: Good, Better, and Best.
These simple 781 words proved to be a key circulation builder for subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal for over 30 years. There are seminars and courses which have been taught using this letter as a prime example. Studying the letter and learning the techniques and power can make your next direct mailer a big success as well.
Here's a link to the letter's text, along with some information about its amazing success.
A professionally printed introductory piece can establish credibility, build report, and pique interest. However, it's important to remember that this is simply an introduction. Give readers adequate details, but don't overwhelm them. Instead, develop it as a lead-in piece that entices readers to learn more.
The creative options for direct mail introductions are endless and can include letters, postcards, self-mailers, statement stuffers, personalized note cards, brochures, or even a simple folded flyer. In addition to direct mail, you can distribute introductory materials at trade shows and other events, include them with purchases, or deliver them door-to-door with eye-catching door hangers. To increase staying power, consider including an elite offer, coupon, exclusive invitation, or tear-away business card that recipients can use to keep your information at their fingertips.
If you need ideas or want help getting started, give us a call today. Our creative team would love to help you start spreading the word!
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Sylvan and an assistant took a wooden chair, put a basket on it, and added wheels to the bottom to form the first crude shopping cart.
But the new invention didn't catch on like Mr. Goldman had hoped. Men thought the carts were too feminine, and women said the carts reminded them too much of baby strollers. It seemed like the only folks using them were the elderly.
Instead of giving up, Mr. Goldman hired some young male and female models to push the new carts around Piggly Wiggly. The greeters would point out the models to the skeptical shoppers and explain the benefits. In a short time, the shopping carts became very popular, which in turn made Mr. Goldman a very wealthy man.
Here are a few lessons you can apply to your business from this story:
- Pay close attention to your customers and how they use your products and services.
- Observe and ask questions.
- Determine what you can do to make customers' lives better when using your products and services.