- Guarantee. Not only does a guarantee show confidence in your products, but it also removes the risk of trying your product, giving potential customers the added persuasion to purchase your product over another.
- Instantly, immediately, or fast. We all love fast results or solutions, so it's no surprise that people love instant gratification.
- New. Today's society is always on the lookout for the latest and greatest products available. However, be aware that the novelty of "new" can wear off. After a while, customers often fall back to their familiar, tried-and-true products again.
- Save. Saving money is something that everyone wants to do. Whether you offer an exclusive savings promotion, a discounted package deal, or even a money-saving coupon, your customers will be listening.
- Results. The word "results" also means success. It's a powerful word because of its inherent promise of a better outcome.
- Discover. The word "discover" offers a promise of something more to come. Like unwrapping a gift on your birthday, discoveries always bring a sense of excitement and adventure.
- Easy. People love to purchase things that are easy to figure out, easy to assemble, easy to manage, and so on. The less effort required by the customer, the better.
- Free. Although the word "free" is often overused, it continues to be the number-one attention-getting word. Use it sparingly and only when you truly have something free to offer with no strings attached, such as a free sample, free trial, free shipping, or buy-one-get-one-free deal.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Words Your Customers Love to Hear
Friday, December 27, 2013
The Art of Networking
Creating an Effective 30-Second Pitch
Once you've begun to develop your business, one of the most important marketing techniques you should master is the 30-second pitch. A 30-second pitch is a brief, easily understood summary of the business that you can give when you meet a new connection.
No one wants to listen to a long-winded explanation when they meet someone new. It will drive them away and make you seem less interested in forming connections and more interested in just selling. The pitch instead should be a brief introduction to what you do and intrigue the listener into learning more. Work on developing a pitch that's informative, but also informal in tone and easy to work into a conversation.
Mastering the Business Card
Like the 30-second sales pitch, the business card should be something that helps to capture a person's eye and tells them all they need to know about your business. Networking events typically involve exchanging countless business cards and speaking with numerous people. It can be difficult to keep track of everyone. Once the event is over, people will sit down and look at the business cards they collected. The ones they can connect with a face or that spark interest are the ones most likely to be remembered and entered into a contact list.
Make sure your contact information is easy to use and displayed prominently. The headline on the card should capture the essence of the business. Consider using a unique design that complements the card and represents you (or the person you're creating cards for). The more ways the card can stand out from the crowd, without being too crowded or distracting, the better.
Widening the Circle of Potential Connections
Networking is not just about meeting potential clients. It's also about meeting others within your own field. Others within the field can serve as advisers and mentors, helping new businesses to succeed. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Developing a strong network within the field can lead to recommendations, partnerships on projects, and referrals from others whose strengths complement your own.
When working on creating this branch of the network, however, it's also important to reciprocate. Few people will be interested in getting to know and work with a person who doesn't seek to help others, too.
Forming Genuine Connections
The purpose of networking is not to offer a 30-second commercial that others will forget once it's out of sight. Networking is about developing genuine relationships.
When you take a person's business card, make sure you also take the time to follow up with them later on. Send cards for holidays and anniversaries. Make it a point to check in and make occasional conversations about topics outside of work to get to know the actual person.
People are more likely to want to do business with those they feel a personal connection with. Taking the time to develop these personal relationships can help improve your reputation and ensure you're viewed in a positive light by others in the business world.
Networking is an important part of developing a business. It's how many entrepreneurs gain mentors, friends, and business leads. Effective networking requires the ability to properly advertise your business while still maintaining an open and friendly demeanor. Keeping the above tips in mind will get you started on the exciting path of building a wide and complete network.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Branding on a Budget: Four Steps for Brand Consistency
1. Develop a logo.
In the long run, it pays to have a professionally created company or brand logo as the centerpiece of your company's identity. A custom logo doesn't have to be expensive, but it should be simple, eye-catching, and unique.
Unless you're a graphic artist or you already have a great one on staff, work with a designer for logo creation. While there are libraries of standard logos you can choose from, it's worth it to have a logo custom designed by an experienced graphic artist who can capture the essence of your business. Try to resist the temptation to design your own logo using PowerPoint or a similar program because it will probably always look amateurish. You also won't be able to generate all the different file types you need for various media.
2. Pick a color scheme.
Once you've found a graphic designer to work with, ask him or her to create a corporate color scheme for you while they're working on the logo. The color scheme should include two or three colors that coordinate well together, and it should include light and dark shade variations of the chosen colors.
The experienced eye of a graphic artist will come up with fresh designs and color schemes that you'll love, even though you might not have considered them on your own. When you settle on your colors, you can ask the designer to provide the Pantone color code values and the CMYK equivalents to prevent inconsistencies that occasionally occur if people try to "eyeball" the correct shade on future documents.
3. Create a style set and templates.
If you use page layout or word processing applications, you'll want to create a custom style set that includes fonts, heading styles, margins, and spacing defaults so your documents always have a consistent look and feel. A graphic artist's expertise will come in handy here, too, by giving your documents an appealing look.
Consider installing the style set for new employees when they join your company, or have IT set them up for you, so employees automatically create consistently formatted documents and presentations. It's a huge time saver when you don't have to reformat every document before publishing it.
4. Post a branding "book" or style guide.
A style guide doesn't have to be complex, but it does need to make the guidelines for logo usage and other branding elements clear. To help ensure consistency, include the standards for color values, official product and company names, and links to corporate templates. It only makes sense to have a style guide if employees will use it, so try to keep it simple if you can.
Creating a recognizable brand requires consistency to avoid muddying brand identity. By following a few guidelines, you can help ensure that prospective customers will instantly recognize your brand.
Friday, December 20, 2013
Preparing a Sales and Marketing Plan for 2014
1. Determine where the company is going
It's not enough to simply say that the company is going to make a certain amount of money in the upcoming year. A good marketing plan will determine what markets, geographical areas, and populations the business can expand into and how that will affect revenue. There should also be estimations about how much the company is depending upon past customers returning and what percentage can realistically be expected to spend again.
2. See how the company is going to get there
This will encompass the company's plan to generate revenue and meet the goals described in step one. In 2014, there are a variety of marketing techniques that should be considered. A company can produce excellent copy or presentations, but without a solid, well-rounded marketing campaign, it will go nowhere. Everyone knows about the importance of working online, but many neglect the print world. Yet a stunning 73 percent of customers prefer to receive printed announcements rather than email announcements from their preferred brands. Consider some of the following marketing techniques.
According to Target Marketing magazine, direct mail had the highest rating for customer acquisition, contact, and retention ROI. One of the biggest problems companies face with direct mail is that few people are experienced with the medium and how to run a campaign. If this sounds familiar, work with someone who is used to this type of print marketing.
Customers have indicated that they prefer paper ads, especially when shopping. An estimated 69 percent of shoppers depend on newspapers for information about brands and deals.
Many people use their smart devices for nearly everything. While print advertising is effective, it often works best when integrated with online campaigns. For example, include QR codes on pamphlets to take people to the company website or ordering page. This will drive traffic and help you reach across demographics to include everyone on and offline.
3. Measure progress and revise when necessary
Schedule benchmarks throughout the year to see how well the company is reaching its goals. These benchmarks should be reasonable and take into account how much time marketing techniques require to be effective. For example, a new direct mail campaign may not be as effective when it is first launched. After a few mailings, however, customers may begin to recognize the brand and give it more recognition.
At the same time, the team must be willing to revise when necessary. If the company is falling short, examine the ROI of different lead generation and conversion techniques. See if revisions are possible or if the budget money would be better allocated elsewhere. If the company is surpassing expectations, revise expectations so as not to shortchange what the company is capable of producing.
Developing a successful marketing campaign is an important step in preparing a company for the upcoming year. Taking the time to research and create a practical plan will give everyone a clear picture of the expectations and will guide the business to the next level.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Understanding Authority: The Milgram Experiment
Dr. Milgram wanted to find out why so many people in Nazi Germany followed the orders of Hitler's regime with seemingly little questioning. He surmised that either the whole country was evil or that something else was at play. His experiment aimed at testing what that something else might be.
Dr. Milgram and his team devised a series of social psychology experiments. To get volunteers, they placed an ad looking for individuals who would be willing to administer a "learning test" to students.
When volunteers arrived at Dr. Milgram's lab, they were greeted by what seemed to be an authority figure wearing an official-looking coat. Volunteers were instructed to sit at a table with a rather intimidating-looking shock-generating machine on it. The machine had switches labeled with terms like "slight shock," "moderate shock," "danger: severe shock," and two others that simply read "XXX."
Each volunteer was to take on the role of the "teacher" in the experiment. The teacher was to deliver a shock to the student each time a wrong answer was given. While volunteers believed they were delivering a real shock to students, the students were actually volunteer actors who were pretending to be shocked when the switch was pressed.
With each incorrect answer, the level of shock was to be increased correspondingly.
Results of the Milgram Experiment
Dr. Milgram used the experiment to measure the level of obedience among his volunteers. How far would the volunteer "teacher" be willing to go in obeying the shock application?
This question was posed to a group of Yale University students who predicted that no more than 3% of the participants would deliver the maximum shock.
In reality, 65% of the volunteers delivered the maximum shock. This study was replicated several times under different conditions, but each produced similar results.
So why would seemingly normal people be willing to subject another person to possible life-threatening harm? Is it because all people are evil? Dr. Milgram didn't think so.
Appeal to Authority
The Milgram experiment seems to suggest that people place an immense amount of trust in authority figures. Even our own society seems to back up those claims.
A doctor tells us to take certain pills to cure an illness, and we obey without much questioning. A person steps on stage, appears on TV, or writes a book, and we immediately view them as an expert or authority, when in reality they may be far from it.
How This May Benefit You
The conclusion is clear. It's wise to always think and question any command, even when it's given by an authority. Yet, it's easier to follow the crowd and obey rather than use our brain cells to think.
Most people prefer to follow rather than to lead. It's uncomfortable to deviate from what everyone else is doing. It's a part of human nature.
We can benefit from understanding this experiment in a different way. Knowing that the majority of people listen to authority figures, wouldn't it be a benefit to be the authority figure in your field?
People like working with experts. They will often boast to their friends and colleagues that they have hired the leading firm to solve their problem.
Breaking from the pack and breaking the rules is not easy. It's extremely hard to do the first time. But once you do it a few times and see the benefits, it becomes a much more natural process than following the crowd.
Be the authority figure for your field in your market, so you can set your own rules.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Does Your Advertising Have a Goal?
The three traditional goals of advertising are to inform, persuade, and remind. However, you should add one more goal to that list, especially if you run a small or medium-sized business. That goal is to break even on the cost of running your ad. If the ad makes money immediately, that's a bonus.
Why just break even?
Your strategy should be to create an ongoing relationship, not just a one-time transaction. You want to build a base -- a growing list of customers who come back to buy over and over again. Long-term growth and stability are the keys, not just one-time, short-term gains.
"The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time." - Henry Ford
Advertising your business is important. Advertising your business on a consistent basis is even more important. Your business has to get noticed. It needs traffic, and that traffic needs to buy.
Instead of thinking about advertising your business as an expense, think about it as an investment. It's an investment with the goal of breaking even quickly while generating ROI for years to come.
Here are eight reasons you need to advertise consistently with a purpose and goal in mind.
- Get Noticed -- At any given time and in any market, only 2 to 4% of consumers are ready to buy what you sell. It's nearly impossible to predict when this group is going to actually make the purchase. They'll buy from the company that comes to the top of their mind when they're ready. The company that's most consistent in being seen and getting noticed will win the business most of the time.
- Remind Them -- People tend to forget quickly. Busy lives and long to-do lists can make anyone forget about your business. Just because you sent one postcard doesn't mean a prospect will remember your business when it's time to buy. In the advertising race, the tortoise beats the hare.
- Your Competition -- Your competitors won't quit advertising anytime soon. You shouldn't either.
- Shifting Quicksand -- Your market is constantly changing. You have to be nimble and adjust with it. Change up your ad copy and design. Test it, measure it, and tweak your ads until you achieve your desired return on investment.
- Momentum -- Advertising consistently not only informs your audience that you mean business but also serves notice to your competitors that you're in it for the long haul. Advertising boosts the morale of your own staff as well, signaling the vitality of your brand.
- Current Customers -- You know your competitors are nipping at your heels, trying to steal away your customers. Don't take your current customers for granted in your ad campaigns. Remind them on a regular basis the unique value you bring to the table and deliver for them. Don't assume they know already.
- Past Customers -- One of the fastest ways to boost sales is to reactivate past clients. Most customers leave a business because they feel unwanted and neglected. Tell them you're sorry and that you want them back. Give them an incentive to come back again. Many will come back. This time, don't neglect them. Communicate regularly and tell them that you appreciate their business. Advertising is not just for boosting sales; it also works for retaining customers. It's much cheaper to retain a customer than to find a new one. Advertising to current and past customers is an investment that makes lots of cents!
- Competitive Advantage -- Nothing helps you maintain a lead over your competitors like consistent advertising. Whether you're there now or you'll get there soon, once you have the lead, keep the foot on the pedal, so the competition has little chance of catching up.
You must have both strategic and monetary goals in mind when advertising your business. When done with a purpose and vision, your ad campaigns will produce real ROI and real customers who will pay you back for years to come. To start and build momentum, advertise consistently. You'll end up creating your own economy.
Friday, December 6, 2013
An Important Business Lesson from an 8-Year-Old Girl
Amid the hustle and bustle of shopping, planning, and reconnecting with family and friends, we often find ourselves thinking back to seasons past -- and forward to the future with renewed energy and hope.
For a few weeks each December, we're willing to suspend disbelief and imagine the possibility of what we cannot see.
New York Sun writer Francis Church shared his thoughts on this very subject more than a century ago. "The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see," Church wrote. "Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world."
Church addressed his commentary to Virginia O'Hanlon, an eight-year-old girl who had posed a very simple question: Is there a Santa Claus?
While intended to quell the fears of a questioning child, Church's words could just as easily apply to each of us in business today.
Like young Virginia, we, too, find ourselves in doubt sometimes -- unsure whether we should trust the instincts that have taken us this far. In Virginia's case, those doubts were fueled by "little friends" who told her Santa Claus was not real. For us, those "friends" often manifest themselves internally as a quiet, yet nagging voice that assures us we'll find safety in convention and by taking the road more traveled.
And so, like Virginia, we need an occasional reminder that seeking the unseeable and trusting the unknowable can lead to places many would consider unattainable.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Using the Law of Reciprocity to Advance Your Business
Giving to Give -- and Build Relationships
Of course, there is another type of reciprocity -- one born more from a sense of obligation than appreciation. But that first type (the one inspired by an act of generosity) offers a far more valuable return on the good deed done. Why? By inspiring feelings of goodwill, this type of reciprocity makes the recipient much more likely to return the favor willingly, rather than through a sense of duty. Why is this important to your overall business success? Because the person who reciprocates willingly will be much more likely to stick around to continue the relationship long-term.
Giving to Get -- and Build the "Bottom Line"
The reciprocity that's based on duty and obligation is less effective because it creates feelings of unease in the recipient -- the same sort of feelings you get from owing a debt. This type of reciprocity makes people feel as if they are being pressured, or even coerced, into reciprocating.
When you give to get, it's like tying a string to the gift and continually pulling it back toward you, rather than releasing your hold on it and giving it away free and clear. This type of reciprocity isn't true reciprocity at all, since it doesn't inspire the other person to want to return the favor. As a result, it will only create resistance in your prospect, a situation that's usually counterproductive to your marketing efforts and your long-term business goals.
5 Ways to Use Reciprocity to Advance Your Business
Here are five suggestions for creating genuine, positive reciprocity in your prospects, customers, or clients:
1. Offer something for free -- with no strings attached. Giving a small gift every now and then can be a great way to say thanks to your customers for their business and their loyalty. If you do this without asking for anything in return, you may be surprised at the goodwill you build over time. Gestures like these are never wasted, even though they may not seem to be making a difference. Sincere generosity increases your customers' esteem for your business, which makes them eager to return.
2. Go the extra mile for your customer. Spend a little extra time helping a customer solve a problem. Take a moment to pass along some helpful information you come across that relates to your client's business (B2B) or your customer's interest, need, or profession (B2C). Doing something unexpectedly nice shows your customers you value them as individuals and not just as your key to profits.
3. Make things right whenever a customer is dissatisfied. This is another way to demonstrate how much you value your customers, making them enthusiastic about buying from you again despite their initial dissatisfaction. Their respect for you will grow in direct proportion to the amount of empathy, patience, professionalism, and generosity you show when such sensitive issues occur -- particularly when they are upset and reacting with impatience themselves.
4. Treat both customers and prospects as if they matter. Courtesy, friendliness, and respect will go a long way toward creating loyal long-term customers who will become the best advertisement for your brand. By making your service as personalized as you can, you tell your customer, "You are important."
5. Offer your website visitors helpful information at no charge. By attracting people to your website with the promise of value-added content, you'll soon become the go-to source for the answers they need, and they'll value you, as well.
Try the above five tips to start laying the groundwork for the reciprocity that's sure to follow.
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