Tag Archives: Marketing

What Is the Difference Between a Tri-fold Brochure, Case Study and a White Paper?

Pen on NotebookI have never been a big fan of tri-fold brochures that attempt to convince me that I should buy a particular product or sign up for a certain service.   These marketing materials tend not to be persuasive enough due to the fact that information has been crammed into a limited space.  The customer benefits are not always obvious, contrary to emotional appeal – nice images, unusual fonts and unique paper may catch my attention, but not for long.

White papers appeal more to me as they provide logic through facts, statistics and quotes from end users or industry experts. They are not flashy, but usually filled with facts.  For me, they are much more informative. I consider writing a good white paper a real art form as the author has to be a good researcher, persuasive essayist and a marketer all at once.  At the same time, a good balance between the right amount of facts, images, quotes and often industry terms has to be achieved.  Case studies tend to focus on customer stories and testimonials whereas white papers add a touch of credibility through unbiased information.

High quality content is becoming increasingly important as people crave useful information and have access to growing number of information channels before making buying decisions.  All marketing materials should educate; therefore, business people, especially marketers, need to become avid readers and dedicated students to continuously improve their skills.  I am planning to master the art of writing effective white papers in 2010 to deliver quality leads for my own business and customers. I encourage you to do the same. Good content leads to good customers.

To Tweet Or Not To Tweet?

Some small businesses are hesitant to embrace social media. Blogging seems time consuming, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook scary or unknown.  At the same time, old marketing strategies don’t seem to work any more.

Business owners may not always realize that they need to re-visit their marketing plan to create and adopt a marketing system to get results.   The same principle can be applied to Social Media – do your research, learn from others  and create a well thought-out Social Media Marketing Plan to implement your Social Media Marketing System and benefit from social networking.

During last couple of months I have been helping my clients research social networking opportunities for their organizations.  They have been using Twitter and Facebook to listen and learn before they plan and create their own Social Media Marketing Systems.  This is what we’ve learned:

  1. Make Twitter a part of your marketing strategy. Create a Social Media Marketing System.  Determine whether your business could use free social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook for market research, customer service and/or for reaching your target market.
  2. Improve your professional skills by paying attention to what your competitors, potential clients  and current customers are talking about. Then meet their needs.
  3. Learn how to educate and inform your target audience.  Share information about the articles, products and opportunities that your followers/fans may find useful.
  4. Person handling tweets/posts/fan pages for your organization should be familiar with the web and web-based tools.
  5. Make it your goal to become an “informer” who has the potential to be a “trust agent” – someone who is an expert and has an ability to influence other people.
  6. Use each Twitter wisely. Listen first, then chime in.
  7. Avoid words and phrases that may attract unwanted followers/fans.
  8. 100 loyal followers/fans/subscribers who look forward to reading your tweets/posts may be worth more than 1,000 random followers.
  9. Learn to use Twitter/Facebook/Blogs as your company’s online reputation management tool.
  10. Don’t waste your time if you don’t have a social networking strategy.

Grow Your Business With Proven Word of Mouth Marketing Strategies

Word of Mouth Marketing, the oldest form of marketing is gaining ground again. How can business owners beat the current recession with Word of Mouth Marketing?

Educate and Nurture Your Current Customers

Don’t put all emphasis on new customer acquisition, but affirm your current customers,
find ways to develop loyalty programs that increase the lifetime value of your customers. Reward
clients with your time, attention and little extras – they will become enthusiastic promoters for your products and services.

Get Known as an Expert in a Niche Community

Are you creating compelling stories (ideas, articles, informative presentations or videos) that are picked up and shared person-to-person via social networking sites or within niche communities? If not, observe successful entrepreneurs in your niche and find out how they have become experts and what has contributed to their success. Participate in discussions, create conversations and relationships that help you become an expert and share your ideas.

Offer Pleasant Surprises to Create Viral Marketing

Surprising your clients is worth your time, since it gives you an opportunity to exceed their expectations and satisfied customers will be back. It is not hard to come up with a special offer or free complimentary service, you can always add something remarkable to your product. The level of expectations changes fast these days, you have to be creative and continuously find new ways to “over deliver” so that your customers keep having new reasons to talk about you. Get to know your customers, their habits and buying patterns, develop a system to pleasantly surprise them.

Become and Stay Referable

Never stop learning how to be better and more efficient at what you do. Give your customers every reason to drum up more business for you and find out why or why not people refer you. Always welcome opportunities to meet and help other small business owners. Be interested in their business and volunteer activities. You will learn from them, also share your expertise and they will refer you as they get to know, like and trust you. You and your business will be on their mind as people in their network need products or services that you offer. Find time in your busy day to send thank you cards and notes to people who have made a difference in your life. Make it effortless for your loyal clients to provide information about you, your products and services (make sure they have your business cards and promotional materials, etc.) If you become and stay referable, you don’t have to try to sell your business to others, it will come to you.

Top 10 Challenges Professional Service Providers Must Overcome to Generate New Clients and Revenues

I would like to share my fellow Duct Tape Marketing Coach Bill Doerr’s advice:

Challenge 1
“Not seeing enough people”

Probable Cause/s:

* insufficient level of marketing-related activities

Corrective Strategy:
Be sure you’re engaging in appropriate activities at an adequate level for the client acquisition and revenue-generation goals you have. Seems obvious and may correct any deficiency right there. As one respondent said, “Get of your office and go see some people!”. Sage advice.

Challenge 2

Dealing with ‘high maintenance’ prospects and clients

Probable Cause/s:

* not clear about who is ‘right’ for the business or practice (i.e. who is ‘qualified’ to work you?)
* not using that profile at the ‘moment of truth’ with a prospective client or referral source

Corrective Strategy:
Define your ‘ideal client’ and don’t compromise your own standards. A number of people lamented that their willingness to take ‘anyone with an open checkbook’ often led to a client engagement that, in the end, proved frustrating for all parties. Just don’t do it! Identify specific ‘knockout’ factors and, if present, avoid engaging with those people.

Challenge 3
Prospects (and, some clients!) are asking us for ‘lower fees’ or ‘better pricing’

Probable Cause/s:

* not focusing on the value you provide vs. the fee you are charging

Corrective Strategy:

Charge a ‘fixed’ fee for your services rather than billing by the hour. Why? Understand that an hourly rate is something you need to know to be sure your pricing is profitable for your business or practice. It is NOT something your clients need to know. In fact, most don’t like hourly billing (survey your clients and you’ll confirm that one!).

What they do need to know is the answer to this question: “What’s it going to cost me . . . if I use you or, if I don’t?” Once framed that way, any ‘price’ you’ll ask for will be positioned around the VALUE you represent, not the time you have to invest in a project that will provide the client what they want. In my own experience, ‘package’ pricing invariably causes more services to be sold and better margins to be maintained than providers who bill ‘by the hour’.

Challenge 4

Losing bids to other firms (who are arguably less qualified, too!)

Probable Cause/s:

* No system for helping clients to make a decision is present
* Not skilled at using a system for helping clients to make a decision
* Not seen as a preferred provider of your services

Corrective Strategy:
The first two causes will be addressed by a systematic approach to helping someone make a decision . . . in short, ‘selling’. Seen as an essential aspect of your professional advocacy role, it’s an incumbent responsibility of every professional to help clients make decisions about their services – including the decision NOT to use them. But it must be a deliberate decision, not a decision by default because it wasn’t made deliberately.

If prospects fail to perceive you as a preferred provider you are not differentiating yourself to your marketplace. To differentiate yourself, you must be both beneficial and unique. Being yourself is about as unique as it gets. So you need to learn how to demonstrate the beneficial ‘edge’ you offer that will cause you to stand out to your prospective clients.

For service providers the ‘secret’ is to learn how to manage the experience your prospects have with you during the courtship phase of your relationship so they will feel, all things being equal, that you and your firm are definitely the preferred providers of your problem-solving expertise.

Challenge 5

Finding it distasteful to have to ‘sell’ and/or ‘market’ our services

Probable Cause/s:

* An attitude of advocacy . . . as a fiduciary of your client’s interests is missing

Corrective Strategy:
Reframe ‘selling’ as a ‘moral responsibility’ that your professionalism demands. Selling is simply ‘client-centered advocacy’. Think of a physician who ‘advocates’ a course of therapy for a patient not because they want a fee as much as they want their patient to be healthy. So too, you must see that such client-centered advocacy is a high calling and not something much lower . . . in your humble opinion. More than one respondent offered the admonition to “just get over yourself”. I hope this perspective will help you do just that.

Challenge 6
No sense that EVERYONE is responsible for marketing in the firm

Probable Cause/s:

* leadership has not communicated that marketing IS everyone’s responsibility
* There is no consequence for not bringing in clients (or, doing things that would!)

Corrective Strategy:

If you / your firm hasn’t made this expectation public . . . do so! Rewrite everyone’s position description (yes, even the receptionists’) to include behaviors that support ‘marketing’. Unless and until marketing behavior is expected and inspected, it’s likely not to happen. Better yet, post this expectation in locations where you will be re-minded of it frequently.

Challenge 7

Not having time to devote to marketing my services

Probable Cause/s:

* No need to market (see Challenge #6)
* No plan – so no marketing activities have been identified to do in the first place
* No skills – you know what to do and why but you still don’t allocate time for it

Corrective Strategy:
Create and use a ‘Marketing Activity Plan’ to ensure you’re allocating your time to what some call the ‘mission critical’ activities so the ‘mission’ of your planning will be accomplished. And brushing up on your time management skills might be a good idea, too!

Challenge 8
Not leveraging our relationships with existing clients to find new ones

Probable Cause/s:

* Not asking for help from existing clients
* Asking but ineffectively

Corrective Strategy:

Learn to use an effective referral system with existing clients and centers-of-influence. Two possibilities to consider might be: “Referral Flood” by Duct Tape Marketing or The Preferral Prospecting System®

Challenge 9

Not developing long-term relationships for the referrals and revenues they offer

Probable Cause/s:

* No system for following-up
* No system for keeping-in-touch
* Not using such systems even if present

Corrective Strategy:
Get – and use – a system for

1. following-up, and
2. keeping-in-touch

in a manner that is as professional as you are.

While no one will argue these two functions aren’t important, many cite they either don’t know how or feel they’ll come off a ‘less than professional’. The key is not to ignore the need to do these things but to find a way to do so that won’t be offensive – to you or your marketplace.

Challenge 10
Focusing on client acquisition activities at the expense of client retention activities

Probable Cause/s:

* myopic mindset . . . “Need MORE Revenues? Get NEW Clients!”
* inability to appreciate that not all revenues are equally profitable to your firm

Corrective Strategy:

Consider that the cost of acquiring a project from a new client is much more costly (cost of sales) than generating a project from an existing client. In his book, “The Loyalty Effect” Theodore Reicheld explains that many firms don’t see a profit until an account has been with them for some time. Implication: “equal revenues with high turnover is less profitable than equal revenues with lower turnover”. Point: Keep-in-touch and stay-in-mind with your existing clients so whenever a need arises . . . you’ll be there and . . . seen as the preferred provider that you are.

BONUS!!
Doing more than expected . . . without being asked – (so here’s my little ‘extra’ for you!)

Challenge 11
Not getting people to buy or refer us when there’s no apparent reason not to do so

Probable Cause/s:

* Trust (or, a significant lack of it!)

Corrective Strategy:

For any professional or business service provider, trust is an essential element to the formation and maintenance of a productive client relationship. If trust is an issue, getting and keeping clients will be highly problematic if not impossible.

From The National Networker

Reinvent in the Recession with Great Marketing

Presentation Zen

Do you really know who your ideal customer is?  Can you picture what he/she reads, likes, wears and how your ideal client makes purchasing decisions?  If you know your customers’ needs well, then you don’t need to follow them around, you can lead them with confidence and you can spread ideas that resonate with your audiences.  Twitter and Facebook are great for networking, but if your customer does not even know how to spell Twitter, you may need to hang out somewhere else.  You need a different marketing strategy during recession, but first you need to

KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER.

Examples of companies who know their customer:

Apple – Design matters!  People pay more for products if you give them a reason to do so.

REI – Offers quality and utility to people who value them.  Appreciates customer feedback.

Target – Makes customers feel good by letting them trade up,  differentiates its  brand from low cost retailers.

BE CREATIVE, do what your best competitors do, but do it differently, stand out. Find ways to create great customer stories and create your own story that others will tell.  Reward your best evangelists.  Write articles about your expertise or your business or have them written,  submit locally and  online.

BE INNOVATIVE, find news ways to market. Start your own inexpensive podcast if you have talent or find someone who will interview you.

Here are some useful websites for aspiring podcasters as well as listeners:

www.podomatic.com – they even give their authors 800 numbers so people can also listen to the podcast on their phones.

Free audio recording/editing software for podcasters:
www.audacity.sourceforge.net

Check out BlogTalkRadio as well.

STAY IN TOUCH with your customers and gain new clients via newsletters,  webinars or special offers.  Have free videoconferences via Skype.

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Viral Marketing Flourishes in Recession

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...

Image by luc legay via Flickr

Many small businesses have cut their advertising budgets and put their marketing efforts on hold.  Their satisfied customers, social networks, and happy business partners therefore become their main promoters.   As this is the year of reinventing, recycling and repositioning for many small businesses, let’s think about the best ways to help the above mentioned groups spread the good word for your business.

  1. Give away information, products or services within target groups in your social network.
  2. Make it effortless for your best customers to provide information about you and your product (hand out business cards, promotional materials, etc.)
  3. Offer products and services that can easily fit the needs of different companies – from small to very large.
  4. Understand common motivations and behaviors – find common needs – create mutually beneficial partnerships.
  5. Utilize your existing social networks, become a “go to person” on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as in your local Chamber of Commerce.
  6. Take advantage of other people’s networks to gain exposure for your products and services.
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