This weeks blog is all about finding yourself the correct customer. In the business marketing world, we deal with a variety of different sized businesses and business owners on a day to day basis. We’d like to share a few things that may be helpful in solidifying your business relationships.
Ever have a customer that wants to purchase from you then decides to go elsewhere, or worse yet to a direct competitor? How about a customer who always knows better than you about certain elements within your field? Constantly feeling on edge about dealing with one of, or a few specific clients? What about a customer that either pays late or not at all?
Most of us in business have dealt with one of the above scenarios (or many other issues not listed) at least once, if not several times. Not every client you pick up is going to be the best, most spectacular, awesomely phenomenal, magnificent, all amazing customer! You will run into issues every now and again, but this blog will give you a little ammo in deciding who to work with and who to not.
Weeding out problem customers is a difficult thing to do especially if you really need to pick up the account and/or the money. Bills need to be paid, the business needs to continue to operate, employees need their paychecks on time, and the doors need to stay open. We get it. You have to begin to look past this though, no matter how hard it is. There a few minor tactics you can begin to implement that will increase the quality of the customers you are servicing, which in return will tremendously increase the quality of your sales and eventually improve your business. Here are a few ways to make your life and potentially your business much better:
Interview Potential Clients
Yep. You read that right! Conduct your own silent interview when discussing the potential of working together. It is in the beginning of your new business relationships that you can also begin to key in on certain factors that will determine if they are the right customer for you for the long haul. Create a list of traits that you’d like to know about them, how they conduct their business or personal life (if you are dealing with individual customers,) who they are connected to, who they know, their demeanor, or other qualities that you’d find attractive in developing this working relationship with. It doesn’t matter if they are paying you huge globs of money if they are difficult to deal with or creating sleepless nights for you.
Be specific early. Explain that you normally do not work on Saturdays or Sundays due to the kids soccer matches, or other family oriented events. Let them know immediately that you do not respond after 8:00 PM or whenever you shut down for the day/night. Discuss certain factors in pricing and set the bar that these prices are not negotiable (unless of course they are for you.) Be open, honest, and as helpful as you can be but let them understand there are limits. Truly great customers will understand and probably respect you more.
Explain Pricing and Payments in Full Detail
This should go without saying but all of your contracts and payment plans need to be laid out on the table and in the open. Slimy businesses hide fees and charge customers additional monies through fine print, so don’t be one of them. No handshake or verbal agreements will help you in the event of legal issues, so make it all contractually binding and easily understood. You should then go over everything step by step with your customer for what you expect and what they can expect.
Communication is Key
If you are like us, a constant communication is needed about the processes involved in your industry. Payments, length of time for projects, and any issues that arise should be discussed in detail and is very important in making the relationship go smoothly. Be straight forward and ask customers directly “if there is a problem can I contact you or your team and get a timely response?” Ask, “What is your turn around response time on emails, texts, or calls?” Communication is one of the most important factors in any relationship. Communicating effectively can also be the difference in making or breaking relationships.
There you go. The next time you sit down to contract new work or meet about a new project to take on remind yourself that it’s not always about the money. If you truly believe in what you do, the service or product you offer, and your work ethic and morals, then take into consideration WHO is your correct customer. It may help you and your client form a much stronger bond…and who knows where that may lead?!
Tough question to answer but a very relevant question as well. If you had to hand your perfect customer the perfect marketing material, that would make or break a huge deal, what would this look like? Would it include a small series of photographs, one product shot, a team photo, just a logo, or perhaps an animated design? Creative commercial photography and graphic design can help, but it also takes some outside the box thinking.
Think about this a bit and understand just how important this could be to your business. Many business owners with little or no experience in the creative field could really struggle with this particular question, and it’s not an easy question to answer for even the most experienced creatives. We aren’t saying that we have the answer, what we are saying is that this is a thought provoking question that needs to be taken seriously.
Visuals make all the difference in catching a customers’ attention. We’ve talked about this in length before but this is an important topic for entrepreneurs to fully understand it’s value. The image included as an example below is one photograph that we feel aptly encompasses our business. Maybe we are right, maybe we are wrong, but one undeniable thing is that we are in the business of offering DAMN GOOD ADVICE so we feel it works well with our message.
Psychologically, many people are more likely to continue scrolling through a website, social media page/post, or drifting their eyes across your handouts when high quality images that are relatable to your business are included. There’s countless advertising and marketing studies that you can research on your own that will back up this claim. Go look, and better your business!
For any help brainstorming and creating ideas that will better bring attention to your brand, give us a call or drop us an email/message. We’ll be glad to give you some Damn Good Advice. We love what we do and we love to help businesses flourish!
Since my very first job working in radio almost 20 years ago, I have been helping businesses of all sizes sell more than ever. I want to share the recipe that I have been crafting for almost two decades.
This recipe (read as tips) can help any committed business owner achieve better sales. Take some time and read this. Study these. Maybe even take notes… If nothing else my hope is to offer you something useful or even to hear that you’ve put a few of these into practice. Here’s to growing your business.
Step #1: Forget what you already know about marketing and throw away that outdated marketing guide already.
Marketing is a rapidly changing landscape. What worked 20 years ago probably doesn’t work as efficiently now as it did then. You can get our list of current marketing tips here.
Step #2: Find you Best Customer
Simply saying “we’re looking to target Adults 25-54” isn’t going to bring in your best customer.
If you dig a little further and find you’re really looking for women age 25-61 who make more than $60K+ per year, are in a management role, own a home, and like outdoor activities – you’re starting to get somewhere.
Be specific. Speak to that customer directly and they’ll come through the door.
Another few ideas for finding your best customer include:
Mine your existing customer list, and find commonalities.
Study Geography… Where are your customers? Where are their homes or offices?
Find your customer niches.
Step #3 Research Competitors
This is a crucial step in understanding your business. Without this knowledge it is virtually impossible to sell or market your services. You need to know what your competitors are offering in order to make your offer attractive to potential customers.
So many times we have seen and heard business owners say “No one offers what we do.” Or “No one offers service like ours.” The reality of this is thatmost of the service a business offers is pretty average when compared to their competitors.
The key TAKE AWAY here is to find out what you’re really up against and THEN BEAT IT by adding massive value.
• What did we do that made you buy from us vs. the competition?
• How can we improve our service to you?
• When buying XYZ what were your expectations?
Step #4: Network and Connect
One of the biggest myths in business is that you have to have a HUGE network. Really, you only need a few connections to begin with. This step is all about quality vs. quantity. It is the influence of the people within your network that helps and counts.
Make a list of the 15-20 (more if you like) most influential people in your market. This list can be high quality prospective clients or influential connectors. Influential connectors are the people who can recommend you to buyers of your product or service. Put a plan together to target these individuals and EARN their attention. This approach to networking takes time, so I suggest joining your local chamber, a networking group or a mastermind group to help build up clientele in the lean beginnings and also to help you prefect your networking skills.
Think about where your business would be today if you had worked this step when you started your business.
Step #5 Create Content Marketing
What is content marketing? You’re reading it right now. Content Marketing works.
DISCLAIMER: It works as long as you produce high quality, useful content!
You’ve probably heard the term “Content Marketing” before and you may or may not be familiar with it. Perhaps you’ve heard of it but still don’t know what it is, yet I’m going to imagine if you’re reading this you probably visit websites looking for content and information for your business on a regular basis.
When you visit sites with news, entertainment, google “how-to’s” or read blogs like this that offer business advice you are using content marketing. That is – a site that offers useful information to market itself. Content is king, and it can be used to market any type of business. Content marketing is unbeatable when it comes to attracting new clients, leads, referrals, and staying on top of existing clientele’s mind.
A Word of Advice: Don’t publish just to publish or try to automate the content creation process! The worst thing to do is to share irrelevant content or share content without an opinion on the material. The idea is to create a dialogue and convert the audience to paying customers. Both Google and Facebook now have algorithms that filter (and rank lower) material that is not relatable to the business. Posting content that has little or nothing to do with your business can REALLY HARM your chances of being found and read.
Here’s how to use content marketing:
Create a website with a blog.
Publish FREE articles and video info that offers your best customer VALUE, while offering them the opportunity to purchase the goods or services you sell. The FREE Info should be closely related to the product or service you are selling!
Publish a newsletter that goes to those that subscribe to your blog.
Use short but concise video tips as part of the blog.
People will find the info, use the ideas and share. Some, and I said SOME, NOT ALL of those people will convert and buy what you are selling. For example, you’re reading this right now and may decide to send me an email or give me a call to discuss your marketing endeavors.
You may be asking right now – “Wait… If you’re giving away all of this FREE advice won’t people just take your advice and do it themselves?”
Maybe… But I always explain to clients that there are a few types of people who will read or watch your content. They are:
The Freebie: These people never pay for professional help in anything they do. They don’t have a budget or a plan. They’re trying anything to get the phone to ring. One thing doesn’t work, they dismiss it as a bogus idea, and they’re on to the next. These people were never prospects.
The Doer: The Doer reads and/or watches your content. They will then try to implement your ideas and do it themselves. They’ll realize that the task at hand is much larger than they thought or they’re not getting the results that they thought they would, and then they contact you to get some insight. They hire your or buy your product or service because the recognize the value of your expert counsel.
The Valueist: The Valueist is the rarest of rare. Probably the holy grail of customer. These are the people who value their time, know their skillset, and recognize that by hiring a professional the task at hand is accomplished correctly, less expensive, in better time, and the results/desired outcome are better.
Step #6 Create an Email Drip Campaign
Email is an extremely cost effective and powerful marketing tool available to business. The best way to start building your subscriber list, is to ask all your existing clients and contacts if you can have their email address. YOU MUST HAVE PERMISSION otherwise your email is classified as SPAM
Ask your customers if you can contact them from time to time via email with a newsletter with special offers and announcements. This will get you your initial list and give you something to get started with. So long as you ONLY contact these people with useful information, and make it easy for them to share your newsletter, your list will grow… in size and value.
Have an email sign-up box on your website or blog. This needs to be easy to read and positioned in an uncluttered area of your site, which everyone will see.
Be extremely cautious of “marketing experts”, who say you need to have pop-up boxes in order to get their reader’s attention. It simply shows they have no idea how to optimize their website.
Send one email message every 7-14 days
Let people know that you won’t share their info or sell it.
Ask readers to forward and share your tips and give a link so the shares can subscribe too!
A final thought on email, like creating content marketing, if you want to achieve the very best results possible, always invest in professional content creation. It can be the difference between a successful campaign and one that generates nothing!
Step #6A: Consider a Direct Mail Campaign
According to the Online Marketing Institute it takes the average Joe or Joan 7-13+ touches before a prospect turns into a customer. A direct mail campaign is an easy way to stay in front of your customers or prospects.
A mailer can be tied in with you prospect list or client list where you share capabilities, information about your business, sales, new products, or some of that fantastic content you created earlier.
Postcards, letters, self-mailers, or a combination of different mailer products are great ways to stay in front of your prospects and customers.
Identify Your Best Customer: Utilize your customer list, and/or fine tuned prospect list.
Plan the schedule: Print and send a post card every 2-4 weeks.
Develop a theme: You need a strong visual theme and content that is consistent so that the tactics and branding are recognizable.
Select what you want to mail: Post card, Self-Mailer, Letters are all great examples of direct mail pieces
Integrate Other Channels: Typically a mailing is followed a few days later by an email with a similar message and visuals; the cycle repeats until the campaign is complete.
Step #7: Internet marketing
Are you aware your website is a lead generating machine capable of 24/7 harnessing power to collect information on potential customers?
Your website can generate high quality enquiries, leads, phone calls and sales from interested prospective clients… so long as you do it right.
When a website is professionally designed and marketed, its power to attract is unstoppable. It’s like having a store on the busiest most traveled route in your town. Most small business websites are more like stores that are on an unused dirt road in the middle of nowhere. They are outdated and poorly marketed. Update the site – it could be so much more valuable to the business owner.
The investment required for a professional looking website or blog is minimal. Yes, you certainly can spend thousands on a website, however, for the vast majority of businesses there’s absolutely no need to spend that kind of money.You don’t need to spend a fortune, to have a successful, professional website or blog.
Another reason you need to take your website seriously, is that almost everyone now uses the Internet to “check out” a potential business. Before deciding whether to do business with a provider or not, most people will look for the business website! That includes the people YOU market your services to. So, what is your website “telling” them about your business?
Is it full of stock photos with little or nothing to do about your business? Is the content correct? Does it explain what you do and how you do it? Does it offer a call to action for prospects?
Your website is a unique part of your marketing in one really important respect: it alone has the power to either supercharge or kill the response rates of all your other marketing activities.
So, if you send a direct mail piece for example, be aware that the people that were interested in what you offered will visit your website before deciding to contact you (or not!) This means the quality and content of your website has to encourage people to completely trust you and see you in a wholly professional light.
If your marketing hasn’t generated the response rates you hoped for, remember, the people who ‘were’ going to contact you visited your website first. A professional looking and optimized website is essential. It’s as simple as that.
Step #8: The Power of Curiosity
Every sales inquiry or new client inquiry you receive, has one thing in common – the prospective client or customer is curious, and they have an issue that they need professional help with. They want information, and they contact you to in order to find out how they can solve their problem. Here is your opportunity to convert them from an prospect, to a paying customer.
Instead of building curiosity, most small businesses do the opposite. Businesses lay out all of the info to the customer try to answer as many questions as possible. You will see lists, detailed information and FAQ’s. By doing this you reduce the need for a prospect to contact you. Yes, there should be basic information on what you do and sell, but anything you do beyond that is hurting your results.
Instead of bombarding your prospective clients with information, your marketing should pique their curiosity. It should inspire them to feel they need to call you, email you, or visit you.
So, review your current marketing and decide whether it’s building curiosity or eroding it. If you’re not building curiosity, you’re missing out on an extremely valuable marketing opportunity.
Step #9: Don’t Mistake Movement for Progress
This is really important. It’s all too easy to mistake movement for progress… activity for productivity. I have worked with business people over the years and found something amazing. The owners of under performing businesses always work just as hard, and sometimes even harder, than the owners of successful ones.
First impression is that this doesn’t make any sense. Once we dig a little deeper we realize that the reason their hard work is getting them nowhere, is that they mistake movement for progress.
They’re working in the business and not on the business.
In other words, they work hard and put in a huge number of hours, doing the wrong things! For example: A contractor that wants to grow his business, yet refuses to hire help because he needs to be out there swinging a hammer is destined to remain in that situation. There’s only so many hours in a day or nails in a box. You are limited to what you can do by time. HIRE PEOPLE. Work on the business not in the business. Truly successful people will tell you that it requires a team of trusted individuals being trusted to do their respective jobs for your company to be successful.
Working 12 hour days incorrectly, yields worse results than working for 6 hours a day. They think that the harder they work, the more successful they will be. The reality is different. The reality is that rowing a boat with all your strength, in the wrong direction, will simply take you further and further away from where you want to be.
Work hard, sure. But make sure you’re working hard doing the right things, correctly.
Step #10: Hustle
The Interweb is jammed with people selling ideas. Some say that you can automate your way to success. They offer products, programs, webinars, seminars and services, which promise shortcuts to success. THIS IS NOT TRUE. These are tools to learn from not short-cuts. Success is made in the trenches and on the shores.
Their are 3 things you need to remember, when people offer you shortcuts to business success or wealth:
They are seldom shortcuts.
They never lead to success.
You’re probably going to lose money.
The reality is that you can’t trick your way to the top. Success comes from hard work, making the right decisions, and progress. Success comes quickest, when you find the most direct, effective route from where you are to where you want to be.
If you want to be successful make a plan.
Decide what you want to achieve.
Put a strategy together, to get you from where you are now, to where you want to be.
Then work your strategy. Put in the effort. Invest the time required and reap the rewards.
If you find yourself working hard on your business and NOT getting the sales results you want, STOP! Re-read this list and see how you can improve what you’re doing or not doing. Stop working in the business and work on the business. Make sure you are doing the right things, and make sure you are doing them correctly. If you aren’t already doing any of the marketing activities on this page – give them a try. Why? Because we already know they work extremely well.
1. Know your “why.” It is not enough to be (a bit) faster or less expensive than your competitors. Your potential clients want to know why your business is operating. People don’t buy what you do, they choose you on why you do it.
2. Know who your best customer is. Knowing you want to attract Adults 25-54 isn’t enough. Knowing that you want to attract females age 25-62 in management with an annual income of $60K+ that likes outdoor activities, lives in an urban area, and tends to use Instagram, Facebook, and Linkedin is better.
Be Specific. The more specific you are the better results you can get.
3. Be consistent in your messaging and branding. People need to recognize you, no matter where they see you. Consistent high quality images that are used on social media channels, websites, email, and marketing materials. Avoid stock images that don’t reflect your business. Finally, be sure all messaging has been spell-checked!
4. Use social media, but you don’t need to be on everyplatform. Just because there are lots of social media platforms, that doesn’t mean you have to do them all. Use the channels that your customer tends to use, and whittle that down by the one that brings you the most value.
5. Make sure you have a website, and update it often. In the information age, if your business doesn’t have a website you’re not even on radar. People will be searching for your service and products online, so make sure you’re there. People look at a business website and decide whether to engage with them based on their site. Typically after a Google search this is the first impression a potential customer gets about your business.
6. Don’t forget call-to-actions! At every single point that your customer makes contact in your marketing and sales efforts, there should be a call-to-action that leads back to your contact us page, a landing page, an opt-in form, and so on.
7. Blog. Give people a reason to keep coming back to your website. Blog and give them tips, case studies, your latest products– make sure you keep giving them a reason to visit you on the web.
8. Email marketing. Collect customer email addresses (with their permission), and email them about upcoming sales or events. You can even filter messages out to target specific customers who may buy one product but not another!
9. Build a referral network. Word of mouth is the most powerful type of advertising, so build relationships with professionals and other businesses you would happily refer your customers to and who can send referrals your way, as well.
In Business to Business or B2B marketing, where buying decisions can take some time (think weeks, months, or even longer,) multi-part direct marketing campaigns – sometimes called “drip” marketing – can be a powerful tactic.
Drip direct marketing is a carefully planned approach that deploys multiple mailings and messages in a series over a period of time. For B2B marketers looking to generate leads or nurture prospects during a long sell cycle, drip marketing is a smart marketing strategy.
Here’s why drip marketing works and how to create a drip direct marketing campaign.
The Advantages of Drip Marketing
Many B2B marketers use direct mail to produce inquiries from qualified prospects and create opportunities for sales representatives.
Drip marketing is a particularly effective lead generation technique. Repeating your core sales message over and over in an attention-getting drip campaign:
Captures the interest of prospects and engages them in your message;
Increases your brand recognition;
Educates prospects about your product or service;
Gives prospects several chances (and reasons) to say “yes;”
Gives sales representatives a reason to follow up.
A mailing series also offers you the opportunity to showcase specific products or services in each effort. Over the course of time, the campaign can deliver multiple sales messages that answer prospects’ questions and help overcome buying resistance.
The Steps of Creating a Drip Direct Marketing Campaign
1. Identify Your Prospects
A B2B drip marketing campaign requires a commitment of marketing and sales resources. To maximize the value of the campaign, I recommend targeting a carefully selected list of top prospects. It’s not uncommon to see a mailing list of less than 1,000 prospects. As a matter of fact we recommend a smaller list to keep things manageable so that follow up and tracking can be done with ease. The worst possible thing to do is to start a drip campaign and not follow up. That would be a waste of money, resources, and effort.
2. Plan the Schedule
Though there’s no set formula, I recommend the following guidelines when helping clients developing a drip direct marketing strategy:
A typical B2B drip campaign is a series of mailings approximately every two to four weeks. Mailings timed too close together can be delivered on top of each other, diluting their impact. Mailings sent more than four weeks apart can lose their punch; prospects begin to forget the sales messages from earlier mailings and may fail to notice the link between mailings.
Mailings usually total between four and six, with some sort of payoff in the final piece. For example, following a series of individual postcard mailings, the last mailing might combine all of them into one self-mailer so the prospect has the entire campaign – with all of its sales messages – in their hands.
3. Develop a Creative Theme and a Consistent Creative Approach
You need a strong creative theme with powerful visuals to link all the mailings and tactics together and build recognition. Prospects should know instantly that each mailing is from your company and that it’s related to the previous mailing.
Yet each promotion should have a distinctive message and be a new mailing in the series so prospects have a reason to open the mail and read it. And, of course, each mailing should contain a compelling offer and a strong call to action.
As prospects begin to recognize that you’re sending them a campaign series, their expectations may rise with each mailing. To keep them interested and engaged, your creative needs to keep the excitement high.
4. Select Your Formats
What should you mail?
A postcard campaign is a popular approach. Postcards are an affordable way to deliver short, focused messages.
Self-mailers work well, especially with dynamic graphics and multiple panels that open in unusual ways to reveal something interesting.
Highly personalized letters in a series can be effective, especially when targeting C-suite executives.
Another option is dimensional mail. A drip campaign made up entirely of dimensional mailings requires a very strong creative theme and related premiums; dimensional mail creates high expectations on the prospect’s part as they anticipate what’s in the box.
I often recommend combining a postcard or self-mailer series with a final dimensional mailing using the same creative theme, to end with a bang and deliver a premium or prize with a compelling final offer.
5. Integrate Other Channels into the Campaign
Marketers today are integrating emails with similar messaging into the direct marketing plan. Adding email boosts response because it’s an effective reminder of the mailing and it enables the prospect to click immediately to the offer. Typically mailing one is followed a few days later by email one with a similar message and visuals; the cycle repeats until the campaign is complete.
Smart direct marketers also driving response to their websites where customized landing pages and content support the campaign and encourage prospects to act. The most recent drip campaign we developed included social media; prospects received incentives to get prospects to follow the client on social media and post about the company on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
5 Tips for Success
If you’re ready to add a drip direct marketing campaign to your marketing strategy, follow these tips:
Plan all campaign tactics at the outset. You’ll save money on print production and you’ll be much more likely to execute your plan.
Track response for each initiative separately to see which messages or tactics caused prospects to act.
Plan the fulfillment process and the sales team’s involvement up front. Be sure reps know about the campaign and its exact timing, and that they get response data in a timely manner to close the loop with the prospect.
Consider a drip campaign to B2B influencers, such as CFOs or CIOs, rather than to end-users who may already understand your product or service and know your company.
Time the campaign to capitalize on other marketing activities and opportunities, such as an upcoming trade show. Carry the campaign’s creative theme into ads, your booth, collateral, and your website to build recognition and deliver a consistent, memorable message.
The Most Important Factor: The Mailing List
I often tell my clients that the most common marketing mistake is wasting valuable marketing resources promoting your product or service to people who will never buy from you. This is especially true with drip direct marketing.
It’s absolutely essential to follow the most iron-clad rule of effective direct marketing: Target your mail to the right prospects with an accurate list. If necessary, call to verify recipient names and titles before you mail, especially if you’re selling a very high-end or complex product or service to executive decision-makers.