Saturday, September 24, 2016

Memphis Mid-South Sights: Memphis, Mid-South Sunsets

Memphis Mid-South Sights: Memphis, Mid-South Sunsets: I have been shooting a lot of sunsets lately. It seems that the clouds, atmosphere, and weather have been conducive to some spectacular sky ...

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Webinars and thought leadership: Are you providing valuable information, or just giving a sales demo?

Thought leadership is a term that is often used but, frankly, when I look at blogs, and attend webinars it seems to me that thought leadership is a term that is not well understood. That is odd because thought leadership is self defining. Establishing one's company as a thought leader shows that the company can and will provide valuable content free of charge.

Thought leadership is all about creating, providing, and publishing very valuable content about a specific area of business that others will benefit from and appreciate. The key is providing it free with very few strings attached. This should be true of your webinars as well. Webinars are in reality web-seminars and seminars should provide valuable content that your prospects can use.

If you start thinking of webinars as funnel builders that nurture prospects closer to being buyers you will then have embraced the proper intent for doing them. Here is the payoff: If you really provide valuable information in a way that appears that you are not looking for a sale in return you make the prospect feel as though they can trust you to help and be helpful to them. This will build up a generous amount of good-will and will translate into  the prospect being willing to receive email, news-letters and warm calls. Providing valuable free content is a very sound way of building a lasting rapport.

Think of the amount of times you have attended a webinar only to have it end up seeming like a sales demo. You are not very likely to attend another in the future are you. What's the old saying? "fool me once shame on you; fool me twice shame on me.

Time is a very valuable commodity and you should realize that people are inundated with cold calls, email, and snail mail. They are on guard of their time and they don't often like intruders. If you get a director or an executive on the phone these days you are lucky to get a minute and a half of their time. You have thirty seconds to get their attention. Believe me I know. I work on the phones as an outbound marketing consultant a lot. In some cases cold calling is really the only answer for quick results.

What I am sharing here is a form of consultative selling whereby you establish yourself as a trusted thought leader that can nurture prospects and over the long run gain a larger chunk of their valuable time.

When is the time to begin? the answer is right now. The sooner the better. But realize that you are doing work that will yield rewards much later on. Let's give webinars a good name. Let's make them something that people are really interested in attending.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Small Business Branding; Making your new start-up known

You have a great idea. You perform a needed service reliably and inexpensively. You make the best pizza in your town. You can save companies a great deal of money on maintenance. This list could go on and on. One of the challenges of starting a new business, introducing a new product, offering a better, cheaper, more convenient, way of doing things is being unknown. If people cannot find you, do not know what you do, do not know if they can trust you, then you will not be successful in starting a business. You must have revenue to survive, and that comes from having clients or customers.

In this post I want to help you think about your planning as you consider starting a business. Many entrepreneurs are very good at a specific skill but may not have marketing skills. Added to the problem is the fact that Marketing is changing greatly and has changed at this time in business history. One has to consider questions like do I want to do outbound marketing or inbound marketing? What is the cost of each way of marketing my product or service?  What will drive the most potential customers to my business the fastest? What do I need for outbound marketing? What do I need to do inbound marketing?

Let me take a minute to explain the difference. Outbound marketing is traditional marketing that has been done for years. It is distributing flyers, making cold calls, sending out mailers, putting an ad in the yellow pages or a paper. The problem with this is that as the years move on these kinds of marketing efforts become less and less successful. Buyers, whether consumers or businesses are more sophisticated and a lot less tolerant of outbound methods of marketing. There is a do not call list for consumers and violating it can be expensive.

On the other hand, inbound marketing uses the internet, networking groups, word of mouth, email and it all starts with providing valuable content. Websites, blogs, social media can bring customers to you if you provide them with content that they want. The content can be in the form of blog articles, e-books, and whitepapers. What matters most is that it is content that will be helpful to people and will establish you as a though leader in your field. The way it works is content will bring people to your website and when there they can find out what products you sell or what services you offer. If over time you have provided great content you will find that potential customers begin to trust and respect you and all the while you are building your brand.

The drawback to inbound marketing is that it takes time. You cannot establish yourself as a thought leader in a short period of time. It has to be over time that this naturally takes place. Start-ups often do not have the luxury of time. Therefore they are forced to do some type of outbound marketing.

The best way to do outbound marketing is phone, flyers and mailings. It does take time and tenacity and is not for the faint of heart, but if you do it diligently it will produce fruit. I think that the best approach for a new business is to have a strategy that includes both inbound and outbound marketing. If you do both you will achieve two ends. One, you will get more clients, customers and thus revenue right away and two, you will begin the kind of activities that will drive customers to you over the long run.

You can find help with both from rijMarketing

Friday, January 8, 2010

Making and Measuring the Business Case for Social Media Marketing in 2010

Social media marketing is here to stay and, is gaining ground these days. The New Year will see a continuing increase in the use of social media marketing tactics and strategies. One of the frequent questions I hear about social media marketing from a variety of sources is how do you measure its effectiveness?

Demand Metric has developed several tools designed to do exactly this. Whether you are a marketing person trying to develop a business case to implement or expand your social media strategy, a business owner attempting to put together a RFP for social media consulting or, a marketing executive trying to develop a job description for a social media marketing manager, they have developed the time saving tools specifically for you.

 I really like the Social Media Readiness Assessment. It is an already prepared Excel spreadsheet with five tabs, instructions, weighting, self assessment, results and, recommendations. The formula’s are built in so that all you have to do is put in your evaluations on a scale of 1-5 and it will flow from tab to tab. It makes a series of statements like;” Senior Management is interested in leveraging Social Media as a new marketing channel.” You then can score that statement on the 1-5 scale 1 being strongly disagree to 5 being strongly agree. The recommendation tab gives actionable solutions to improving the score in a specific area. For example, if senior management is found to be not interested in leveraging social media then the recommendation is to “obtain survey results to help analyze senior management’s lack of social media sponsorship.”

The following is a list of the types of social media metric tools that they have available:
  • Social Media Business Case Template
  • Social Media Channel Map
  • Social Media Posting Schedule
  • Social Media Strategy Scorecard
  • Social Media Policy and Guidelines Template
They have more than these few and they also have how to guides and other templates.

These templates are another indication of the growing interest in social media marketing within all businesses today. I know that these templates and tools are developed because one of their clients had a need for it. This points to the fact that more and more companies are pursuing social media marketing. Once the templates are built, they can be rebranded and used by a variety of companies. These templates are available for a reasonably priced annual subscription and member clients have access to all of the templates and tools they have developed and the number is well over 250 and growing.
I appreciate any comments or questions so feel free to interact or email me. I will get back to you for sure.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Examine your marketing strategies for 2010; Excellent food for thought!

Marketing should be the focus of everything you do in 2010. In fact, it should be the focus of everything you do in your business all the time. Properly done, marketing is a fine tuned cycle that perpetuates your revenue. I am amazed when ever I find small business people and entrepreneurs that do not see the value of marketing and, all too often it seems to me that many see it as advertising and sales only. This is not the case. Marketing should be the focus of every business action you take.

Target Customer and Product/Services Research

Ongoing research of prospective customers, clients and potential products or services is paramount to business success. You should be testing and researching all the time. One of the best ways is to ask questions of your current customer base or clientele. You would be surprised what current customers will tell you and how much value it has for marketing your business. You can find new products or services to offer by using this kind of research. Also, you can find how to position your product or service by researching your competition. Find something that they are not doing or offering that you can do or offer and differentiate on that. 2010 is the perfect year to begin this project.

Product or Service Development, Packaging and Pricing

You should always be on the lookout for products or services that you can offer. This can be an important part of your market research. You can bundle services together at a reduced price to offer special packages for your customers. This is as much a part of the marketing process as advertising and yet, so often people only think of advertising strategies w they think of marketing. This kind of research can be done with your existing customers. They can be very helpful in helping you decide packaging and pricing. How will this affect your overall business and revenue in 2010?

Advertising Promotion and PR

Advertising is a place where companies can give much thought to the strategies and tactics that will be used this year. What has worked in the past and is there an apparent change in how it is working? These are a couple of key questions that business owners and entrepreneurs should be asking this year. Is this perhaps the time to either begin or increase social media marketing? Is this the year to start a corporate or business blog? What about using LinkedIn face book and twitter? This is a great time to begin to strategize concerning social media.

Sales and Distribution

How will sales and distribution differ if at all this year? Is this the year to build a new website or, to increase SEO on a current website? Are you planning to expand your bricks and mortar location? Would this be a good year to start developing channel partners? The list goes on and on.

Customer Service

Last but not least, in this new year, re-commit to your high standard or, improve your customer service. Remember, it costs a lot more money to acquire a new client or customer than it does to keep one you already have.  Think about ways that you can improve your customer service in the upcoming year and make sure that you stay on top of the marketing cycle, taking in all of its facets.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Holiday Wish

Well, the holiday season really snuck up fast this year. But then, the years are flying by for me these days…how about for you? All of the favorite Christmas movies and programs are on TV and, the house smells like sweet potato pie and peach cobbler. There are fruit baskets, candy dishes and assorted nuts all over the house…yup, the holidays have arrived!

My wish for this holiday season is a really outstanding 2010. I am hopeful and I really believe that a great recovery is just around the corner. I think about the law of attraction and I wonder what effect positive thinking by the masses would make? I really think that it can make a big difference. How about we turn off the cable news, avoid the nightly news broadcasts and stop reading the news blogs for just a month. If people would suspend their daily diets of bad news then perhaps, just perhaps, positive thinking would create real recovery and change.

Well, that’s my holiday wish how about yours? I’d love to read your comments!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Exellent tips on how to use selling skills as a way of life

I remember my sales trainer days like they were yesterday. Whenever I think about the anatomy of a sale I think about how it has application value for all aspects of life. Using salesmanship and selling skills in all areas makes a lot of sense and, it can get buy in for projects, goals and relationships. It can be used at work or home in all types of settings. The anatomy of sales is as follows: 
  • Establishing Rapport (building relationship)
  • Needs Probe (discovering motivation, wants needs and desires)
  • Presentation (presenting the features and benefits with the emphasis on the benefits)
  • Trial Closing (asking for a commitment)
  • Overcoming Objections (refining rephrasing and offering new information)
  • Reaching Agreement

Each of these stages can be modified to work in almost all situations.

Establishing Rapport

Whether you are meeting someone new or dealing with a person familiar to you developing rapport and relationship is an important skill to hone and use. Social media marketing shows the importance of building relationship and rapport. In fact, nothing is ever accomplished between co-operating parties without first establishing some kind of rapport. The old cliché that you get more flies with honey than with vinegar is a testimony of the utility of establishing and building rapport.  Therefore, in all things you do keep this in mind and keep your demeanor words and, actions geared toward building rapport and relationship. Think about how you are appearing to others and gauge the effect that you have on building relationship.

Needs Probe

I am full of clichés today so forgive me…smile. I have heard it said that we have two ears and one mouth for a specific reason. It is to make it possible to listen twice as much as we talk. In using selling skills as a way of life this step is important indeed. The more you can know about what makes others the way they are, the more you are armed to appeal to them to get the compromises you want. As I think back to the dating days, I remember that the needs probe, discovery or, whatever you call it was a very important part of the relationship process. Understand that the more you can know about the needs, wants and, desires of other people the more able you are to relate to them and the more you can relate to them the greater are the chances of getting them to do what you want or to compromise in ways beneficial for each of you.

Presenting the Benefits

Only after you have established rapport, relationship and, have done a thorough job of discovery can you begin to present ideas and benefits that will elicit a desired response and action. Whenever you are presenting an idea or asking for a person to do something, it is important to stress the benefits. In other words explain the benefit to the person. I think that it is wise to use the word benefit in the presentation. I can remember as a sales manager for Color Tile, I would ask my sales force to use the word benefit in their presentation. They were making fairly high dollar complicated sales and a lot of selling skills went into a successful sale. It was important to convince the prospect of the benefits they would receive from making a purchase. This can be translated into day to day interaction and will work very well in all situations. Whether you are trying to get an employee, loved one, friend to do something, it makes sense to point out the benefit. It may be a benefit to them or it could be a benefit to someone else or even yourself but, explaining the benefit is important.

Trial Closing

After steps one, two and three have been utilized it is time to ask a closing question. It may be that you are asking your teenager to do something. You have already established rapport, you understand the motivation, wants needs and desires of your teenage child, and you have presented the benefits as best you can. You still may find that you get push back. Whenever you get push back in any situation it is time to try overcoming objection techniques.

Overcoming Objections

Once you have push back now is the time to refine, rephrase and offer new information. Many times it just means that you have not done one of the other steps correctly or thoroughly. So when you get push back ask a question. “You don’t want to do this?”…”can I ask why?”

Once you get the answer rephrase it. Show that you are listening. In the teenager example it could go like this.
“So you don’t want to go with us to grandmas because you will miss Sean’s
Christmas party is that right?”
“Well, what about if we don’t leave until the next day would you be willing to go then?”
The answer will likely be yes and you have overcome the objection through compromise. If that is impossible it may be that you have to explain that leaving before Sean’s party will benefit the family and ask them to make a sacrifice for the good of the family and offer a benefit for doing that. It is just good negotiations. The overcoming objection stage should always have a closing question attached to the new information stage. In the above case the new information was postponing the trip a day but it could be anything. The new information answers the objection.

I hope this will give some food for thought and as always I appreciate feed back so feel free to comment.