Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Please Don't Buy!

One of the most important steps you have to take in order to attract ideal customers and grow your business is to actually know who those ideal customers are. That's the first step that many understand. But there's another, less understood and talked about step you should also consider, and it begins with a question:

What kind of customer should you repel?

That's right. You need to figure out what types of customers you don't want to attract and do business with. As counterintuitive as that sounds, it can be just as important as knowing who you want to attract.

The 80/20 rule tells us that in most businesses, 20% of the customers provide 80% of the profits. Knowing who you want to attract can help you greatly improve the odds of increasing the ratio.

At the same time, most businesses also have to deal with a percentage of customers who create the most headaches while providing little profit for the business. Knowing who you want to repel should help reduce the impact this group will have on you.

Knowing the types of customers you want to repel will have many side benefits besides simply increasing the bottom line. It will improve employee morale since coworkers will not have to deal with as many problem-causing customers each day. It will also allow you to spend more energy and resources on the customers who actually provide the most value and profits for your company.

Go through your existing customer list. Pick out the customers that provide the most headaches and the least profit for your company. Figuring out how to repel this type of customer could be as simple as raising prices enough to either make them not want to do business with you or, at the very least, make the pain of dealing with them more profitable and bearable.

The benefits of knowing what types of customers you don't want can prove to be nearly as important as knowing who you would like as a client.

Monday, April 29, 2013

You Have to Be Easy

Making it as easy as possible to do business with your company seems like a logical and simple concept, yet many businesses unwittingly create hurdle after hurdle for their customers to jump just for the privilege of doing business with them.

Customers are already overburdened with complexities, rules, and regulations. Companies that deliver with the least hassle win more business than others.

To be sure, there are some necessary steps and processes for each business transaction, but the task for every business should be to do away with as many of the unnecessary ones as possible.

Let's take Apple computers and their packaging as just one example. An Apple product comes in a package that combines elegance, simplicity, and art. When you hold the typical Apple product package, you realize before even opening the box that this is a different kind of product. Everything has a place and reason. Much thought has gone into what is usually an afterthought with most companies.

Steve Jobs was known as an obsessive person. A big reason for his success was his obsession with removing complexity and simplifying. He knew that the company which removed the most confusion actually ended up gaining the most customers. Jobs wanted his products to be so simple and intuitive that they didn't need an owner's manual.

If you want to grow your business and for your clients to actually enjoy the buying process, you must obsessively work to continually remove as many obstacles as possible, while at the same time simplifying how customers buy from you.

Start by regularly asking yourself: "How can we make ordering from us even easier?"

It's a process. You'll know you've arrived when your customers actually have pleasant thoughts and smile when ordering instead of the typical angst most experience. Being the easiest to do business with will bring many long-term rewards.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Give Prospective Customers a Plan of Action

One of the greatest mistakes marketers make is to assume that interested prospects will automatically know which steps to take next when they receive a marketing piece in the mail, via email, or from a salesperson. Without a clear plan of action, many of your prospects will simply discard your marketing piece and move on to a different company...most likely your competitor.

Too many people assume that once a prospect shows interest, the next step is to close the sale. But rather than rushing to that conclusion, perhaps the best thing to do is to field any questions the prospect might have. Once your prospects are more informed, they will be able to make an educated decision about pursuing your products and services.

With that in mind, here are some phrases (and related information) you should include in your marketing materials to let prospects know you are there to help, not just make a buck:
  • Stop in and see our products! Include an address, business hours, and directions for reaching your building. Make sure you include a Google map on your website or landing page, as well.

  • Call and ask for more information! Include a phone number, contact name, extension number (where applicable), and hours. If you have an after-hours phone number, include that, too.

  • Call to set up an appointment! Again, provide all of the pertinent details, including the best time to reach you.

  • Send us an email to request more information! For email and web-based communications, provide a link to a simple contact form where prospects can enter their details and receive confirmation that their request went through. On print pieces, include an email address, and consider adding a QR code that links directly to a contact form on your website.

  • Visit our website for more information! Make sure you provide your full website address. Again, consider a QR code that links to your homepage or (better yet) to a landing page designed specifically for the promotion you're running, with additional details about your products, services, and any current specials you have available. An FAQ page is also helpful here, and don't forget to include full contact details so the prospect can easily reach you with questions.
Making yourself available to answer questions and provide your prospects with more information will make a positive impression and help boost sales.

Friday, April 19, 2013

An Unconventional Way to Add Value for Your Customers

While no business wants to lose its customers to the competition, you may be surprised how the opposite can occur when you focus less on keeping your customers away from your competition and focus more instead on adding value and truly helping your customers find what they want.

Strange as it sounds, there may be times when referring a customer to your competition might be warranted. Here are four examples:
  • If you're out of stock on an item that your customer wants immediately, suggest alternative places where they can find it. You may consider enticing customers to wait for your business by offering an exclusive discount when the item is back in stock, but allow them to make their own choices.

  • Refer customers to another business if you believe that company is better suited to serve the customer's specific needs. It's important to ask questions to ensure you understand customer expectations and decide if your business is the best fit for your customer.

  • For comparison shoppers, offer a chart that highlights the differences between your products and competing products. Be sure to include your strengths, as well as your competitor's strengths. This is a great opportunity to promote higher-quality components or value-added services, such as a longer warranty, locally owned roots, lifetime tech support, or even bundled services at a discounted price. Informed customers make faster choices and are happier with their decisions.

  • Lastly, if you have a very difficult customer that proves to be more of a burden to your business than an asset, it may be time to let your competitor swoop them up.
By referring a customer in need to a competing business, you not only show confidence in your product and your business, but you also show honesty, integrity, and a willingness to put the customer's needs ahead of your own. Customers will appreciate your effort and seek out your valued opinion on other issues as well.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Are You Building Your Business Like a House of Cards?

You know the game.

You start with a deck of playing cards and slowly begin to stack them together, carefully leaning one card against another at just the right angle, until you've created a solid wall of cards. You build the house higher and higher, one card and one row at a time, all the while moving around carefully so the whole thing doesn't come crashing down.

Building and growing a business can sometimes feel like building a house of cards. If you have one or two clients providing the bulk of your revenue, your business can begin to feel as precariously unstable as that playing card wall.

Wal-mart is a giant corporation. Stories abound of how they've made and also broken some of their vendors. But you don't have to be a Wal-mart vendor to find your company in this tricky situation. No matter how safe you think your relationship with a large account might be, life tends to throw you curveballs. There are no guarantees. If that one large account leaves for any reason and you face ruin, then you have built a house of cards.

After the initial start-up phase is over, running a successful business becomes a matter of managing risks. Having a few clients account for the bulk of revenue can happen slowly over time, or it can come about in a flash. The role of the owner and directors is to recognize the inherent risks, then go about managing them.

The obvious solution is to find more clients in order to broaden the customer base. The trick is to do this while managing larger customer expectations and not failing in product and service delivery.

No one said being a company owner is an easy thing to do.

In financial circles, astute financial planners recommend owning a predefined percentage mix of stock and bond funds based on your age and risk tolerance. As you add more funds, the percentages can get out of balance in one part of the portfolio. A periodic review shows which part is out of balance. The solution is to sell the overloaded part and buy more of the other in order to bring the portfolio back into balance.

Owning and running a business correctly is similar to having a financial portfolio. You must understand and realize what your goals are at the beginning and review them regularly. Successful owners realize when one metric has gone out of balance and take immediate action to bring it back in line.

A business built like a house of cards will have no choice but to crash back down to earth no matter how high the stack has grown. Broadening your customer base while providing excellent customer service and product delivery will ensure that no wind of change will affect your business.

When you do that, you will have the added bonus of sleeping much easier at night.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What’s Your Call to Action?

Every marketing piece should have a call to action that helps direct the reader to the next step. Whether you want them to click a link, download a file, or contact your business, here are a few tips to ensure your call to action gets noticed and utilized:
  • Keep it short and simple using action verbs, such as call, buy, register, donate, or subscribe.

  • Be specific about what you want readers to do. For example, if you want customers to contact you to set up an appointment, don't just say "contact us."

  • Make it easy for readers by using a direct shortcut link to your sign-up page or order form, versus sending them on a wild goose chase through your website.

  • Create urgency with a deadline such as "offer expires May 31" or "order now and get a free gift!"

  • Include a benefit for contacting you. Instead of saying "Download our whitepaper," say "Expand your customer base with these 10 tips."

  • Popularity sells. If your information is high demand, consider including the number of times a document has been downloaded.

  • Build trust by including customer logos or relevant testimonials near your call to action.

  • Provide your call to action multiple times throughout your website or marketing materials.

  • Size and location matter. Make sure your call to action is easily visible and prominently located so readers don't miss it.
We'd love to help you create marketing materials that get noticed and increase sales. Check us out online for more creative ideas or to request a printing quote today!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

About Your About Us Page

One of the primary reasons a prospect comes to a website is to learn more about a business. The prospect wants to learn not only what you do and how you do it but -- more importantly -- why you do it. There are many competing businesses in your industry and community. Statistics have shown that one of the most visited pages on any company website is the About Us page.

Why is that? Whether you are a B2B or a B2C company, your prospects are people first. So it's natural for them to want to know more about the people behind the company they're considering working with. Prospects hire the people in the business, not just a faceless company.

Unfortunate Reality

The sad truth is that most company About Us pages are filled with industry jargon. Or they're carbon copies of all the other websites in their space. This makes them boring to read and easy to bypass quickly.

Clues

You know you've landed on one of these About Us pages when the page is filled with boastful claim after boastful claim. You see words like "industry leading," "unique solutions," "award winning," and "innovative brand." With eyes glazed over, most visitors can't exit these pages fast enough.

People want to learn about people. They already know about what you do from the other pages on your website. The About Us page should focus instead on why you do what you do.

How to Fix It

If your About Us page has these issues, the good news is it's not difficult to fix. You need to get a pen and pad of paper. As you sit to think about re-writing the page, don't be afraid to let some personality shine through.

Your About Us page is a selling tool. To sell more of what you do, you have to get the visitor to establish a bond with your company and trust you. To establish this bond, you must let the visitor know the people behind the company. A big part of your brand is your company culture. Your About Us page is an opportunity to tell visitors your story and what your culture is about.

Here are eight ideas to think about as you create the content for your About Us page. Weave them into your brand story.
  1. How did the company start?

  2. Why are you in this business?

  3. Avoid all hype and jargon.

  4. Say what you want to say in as few words as possible.

  5. Include a few testimonials from happy clients. It won't seem boastful if others do the advocating on your behalf.

  6. Make it personable and interesting. Don't be afraid to show the human and vulnerable side of your company. Your visitors aren't perfect people either. So showing this side of your business allows your brand to connect and build a bond.

  7. Invite visitors to connect with you in other online places where you're active (LinkedIn, Facebook, blog).

  8. Tell them where to go and what to do next. This is the "call to action" part of the page.


Tell them not just what you do and how you do it. Instead, tell the visitor why you do what you do. Your About Us page is the perfect place to share that message with the world.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Are You Doing Too Much?

Once a business is established, it's common practice to add products and services in the name of diversification and the desire for more profits. It's a wise business move to choose products and services that will appeal to customers you're already doing business with.

But what's the point of diminishing returns? When does adding more products become less profitable or even start losing you money?

Lego is known for its beloved interlocking toy bricks. The company has been around since 1949. You and your children have probably built many fun projects using their colorful, iconic blocks.

As with many other successful brands, Lego decided to diversify. The Denmark-based company added games, movies, clothing lines, and six themed amusement parks (Legoland). Lego added many new colors to the primary colored bricks originally available. Costs were added at a much higher rate than new profits to pay for all this diversification.

The once very profitable company began bleeding red ink. A new CEO (Jorgen Vig Knudstrorp) was brought in to fix the problem. One of the first questions he asked was this: "What do we need to stop doing?"

Beginning in 2005, Lego sold the theme parks and whittled down half of the brick colors. They became more efficient and creative at doing what they were good at by concentrating on less rather than more. By the end of the same year, Lego was profitable again.

Sometimes the answer to doing more is to actually do less. Doing less frees up time and resources to concentrate on the key products and customers that bring you the bulk of your profits. If you have too many services or products, start considering what things you should stop doing, so you can focus instead on what really matters.

Friday, April 5, 2013

If Sales Are Slow...

You've probably heard the saying, "People like to buy, but they don't like being sold to." But you may wonder what it really means.

It means that people are buying what you sell. It means people are spending money. But it also means that people are only willing to open their wallets and part with their money if one condition is met first. That condition is met when you've presented a clear value proposition.

Wikipedia defines a value proposition as "a business or marketing statement that describes why a customer should buy a product or use a service. It is a clearly defined statement that is designed to convince customers that one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than others in its competitive set."

In plain speak, this means a prospect won't buy from you until the value of your products and services is clearly presented in such a way that the decision to buy is second nature. This value must also be superior to what competitors are offering.

This value proposition doesn't mean lowering your price or being the cheapest in the marketplace. That's typically a losing value proposition. A winning value proposition is one where you add benefits that others can't or won't match.

Once you've defined your winning value proposition, it's time to clearly communicate that statement with your audience via all of the marketing and sales channels available to you.

Sales will improve dramatically once you've articulated a clear and powerful value proposition. You'll know it's the right one when your prospects feel like they're buying from you, not just being sold to.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Power of Partnerships

If you're looking for a creative way to grow and create new business opportunities, you may want to consider a marketing partnership. By bringing two (or more) complementary companies together, businesses can tap into audiences they may not normally reach, providing exponential marketing exposure and increasing their customer base.

When considering a marketing partnership, it's important to choose a company that aligns with your product quality, reputation, and overall business strategy. By partnering with a company that has a high reputation of providing quality products or services, you can not only increase your perceived value, but also provide customers with additional reasons to purchase from you.

Rather than joining forces on all aspects of marketing, many businesses create a marketing partnership that is targeted to a specific market sector or audience. They typically maintain their individual identities and continue to sell outside the partnership.

One example of a potential marketing partnership might involve a financial institution partnering with a real estate agent and/or title company to target home buyers in their area. By combining forces, both partners can offer potential customers a smoother path to home ownership.

If you need ideas for creating a joint direct mail marketing promo that can help you reach into new markets, build relationships, and increase sales, give us a call today. 864-882-3609 www.PrintitinColor.com