Your Business Checkup

Whether you’re thinking it’s Spring Cleaning Time or time for an annual checkup, your business needs to undergo a checkup each year.  No matter how large or small your business is, you cannot gauge the effectiveness of any changes you’ve made without analyzing the benefits and bottom line.

225_bild_1_bildbereich

Here are 10 questions to get you started:

  • How do your year-to-date sales compare to the last couple of years? Don’t be satisfied if you managed to match them because if sales stayed the same then you’ve achieved zero growth.  With inflation, this flat growth line is a warning sign for more trouble down the road.
  • What percentage of your business is from repeat customers? This is important to know because if it’s too low, then it needs to be improved.  The estimated cost of getting a new customer versus retaining an existing one can be as much as five to one in terms of dollars spent.  Keeping customers is more cost-effective than constantly seeking new ones.

Continue reading “Your Business Checkup”

5 Magnets Guaranteed to Draw New Customers to Your Business

Before you can sell your products and services, you must first attract prospects and customers to your business.
Only then can you begin to educate them about the benefits you have to offer them.
While most of your competitors will take the quick and easy road by using ineffective ‘One-Step’ marketing that just promotes their products and services to disinterested people, you can focus your marketing resources on the Two-Step approach that will catapult you ahead of your competition overnight.

Step One: Attract interested prospects to your business.
Step Two: Convert a percentage of those prospects into paying customers.
Why do you need to take two steps to maximize your sales?
Imagine 10,000 people at a huge festival.
Now picture a tent with a large sign above the entrance that says . . .  ‘FREE COOKING DEMONSTRATIONS.’
Picture another tent with a sign that says . . . ‘FREE WORKSHOP: HOW TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS!’
And another that says . . . ‘FREE PRESENTATION: RELIEVING BACK PAIN.’

What kind of people do you think will enter the ‘Cooking Demonstration’ tent? People who are interested in cooking, of course. The very people who also have a higher than average interest in buying cooking accessories.

Who would enter the ‘How to Start a Business’ tent? How about people who have some interest in starting their own business? These are perfect prospects for products and services geared to new entrepreneurs.

And who would enter the ‘Relieving Back Pain’ tent? People who have back pain!

Within each of those tents are targeted prospects who are potential customers for products and services related to each of those Free Informational presentations.
The vendors putting on each of those ‘Prospect Generating Presentations,’ are focusing their time and efforts only on people who have a genuine interest in the types of products and services they are offering.
One-Steppers would have just wandered around the festival among the 10,000 visitors yelling, ‘Pots and Pans for Sale! — Only $399!’
Or, ‘Buy Our Business Start-up Book — Only $24.99!!’
Or, ‘Sign up for our Back Pain Treatments! Only $35 a Session!’

What a waste. No one is going to buy anything from the One-Steppers haphazardly promoting their products and services. No one knows them, likes them, or trusts them.
And, more importantly, most of the people hearing their spiel, have absolutely no interest in what they are selling.
But within each tent, a certain percentage of prospects are going to buy what each vendor offers them.
Why? Because these Two-Steppers know how to use marketing magnets to attract just the kinds of prospective customers they want. And during the presentations, the prospects will have the opportunity to get to know, like and trust the presenters.

The offer of free information related to your product or service — information about the problem your product or service solves — is a powerful magnet, that most people can’t resist.
In addition to a free workshop or presentation, here are 5 more magnets that you can use in your business to attract interested prospective customers.

1) FREE TIPS BOOKLET: Create a simple booklet filled with tips related to your product or service. For instance, if you are a beauty consultant, create a Beauty Tips booklet.

2) FREE NEWSLETTER: Create a free newsletter that shares tips and information related to your service — like the one you are reading right now. We have attracted over 60,000 prospects to sign up for our newsletters for our two Web sites, and each time we send one out, we receive thousands of dollars in sales. You could do the same.

3) FREE REPORT: Create a free report on an important aspect of the problem your product or service solves.

4) FREE INFO-PAK: Compile a report and tips into a free Info-Pak of information that will appeal to prospects for your product or service.

5) FREE INFORMATIONAL WEB SITE: A Web site can be an ideal resource for your prospects and customers. You can provide information about your company, your products and services, or even better, lots of free information related to your product or service that your prospects would find appealing.

This is exactly what thousands of business owners are doing. Both of our Web sites — Give to Get Marketing and Get Organized Now! are jam-packed with tons of helpful information to attract people who want this kind of information.

Why do we provide all of this valuable information for free? Because our Web sites are like those tents we told you about earlier. They serve as irresistible magnets that attract thousands of people who are perfect prospects for the products we sell.
Does it work? You bet it does! This is a perfect example of the Give to Get philosophy in action. We attract hundreds of thousands of interested prospects to our business each year – of which many thousands become loyal customers.
Use the power of marketing magnets and you’ll reap tremendous rewards — both professional and financial.
Give a lot to your prospects and your customers, and you will get a lot in return.

 

(c) Copyright 2002 – Joe Gracia – Give to Get Marketing

Planning Your Way to Success

Whether you are a small company or a large corporation one of the primary keys to success lies in preparing and following a good marketing plan. You can have the most awesome product or service to offer but without a plan in place, you may flounder for direction and waste a lot of time and energy as a result.

Consider that your marketing plan, which is separate and apart from a business plan, is an essential element to the success of your company.
The plan should contain data and specifics pertaining to your company’s goals, the product or service you’re offering, how you intend to market it and a means for measuring your success.

Generally, larger companies create plans that are extremely comprehensive in size and nature while smaller companies will do just as well with a smaller strategy. It’s a good idea to refer to your plan regularly so that you can track your company’s progress.

WHAT A MARKETING PLAN SHOULD INCLUDE:

1. Creating an Objective

As a strong proponent for creating an objective or purpose regarding any endeavor, I recommend starting with a clear objective for your marketing plan.

Although it may mean spending a bit of time in contemplation, it’s best to be certain as to the overall purpose and objective of your company. Take some time to focus on what you really want to achieve.

As an example, when I first began my consulting business, I thought long and hard as to what I intended. More than anything else, I wanted to share my skill in a positive and meaningful way that would help other people succeed.

Focusing on what I felt about my expertise, I knew that I enthusiastically enjoyed the challenge of creating material that is powerful, well written and simple to read.

I also relished in the idea of empowering other people, so with those thoughts in mind I created an intention that aligned with my purpose. It is as follows:

“My intention as a Writer/Consultant is to fully succeed at providing my clients with high quality written material that uniquely reflects their objectives by helping them stand apart from the crowd!”

That intention has taken me far on the road I contemplated many years ago and has never changed.

2. Targeting Your Audience

Included in your marketing plan should be the strategies you intend to apply for specifically reaching your targeted market.

Pay special attention as to which audience you are trying to reach. Are there particular trends in your industry? Are you aware of your competition? Are layoffs affecting your particular arena and if so is it to your benefit or detriment? Have you researched the need for your product?

In other words, consider how the economy may affect people either negatively or positively when they consider purchasing your product or service?

The economy does not necessarily influence some industries, but because it does influence many markets, you may want to narrow your focus.

3. Your Strategy

Include in your plan effective marketing strategies. Think about some of the largest companies in the world that are constantly brainstorming in an effort to keep the public’s attention.
Notice how we are collectively bombarded with new commercials and announcements daily, in an attempt to make sure we never forget certain products or services.

I don’t necessarily recommend that you do the same, but it does hold some weight. If you’re aren’t promoting yourself in some way, it’s easy to forget your company.

Of course while most of us cannot compete with huge companies, there are many ways to promote your business without it costing a lot of money. It simply requires a bit of thought and creativity.

4. Setting Time and Accomplishment Goals

Generally your plan should cover a period of from six months to a year.

Check the plan you’ve prepared on a monthly basis as a measure for meeting your goals and objectives. Ask yourself periodically if you’ve taken all the steps that you planned? Are you within your schedule? Are you attracting the clientele you had hoped? Are you making good contacts that return or send referrals? Are you building rapport with customers? Does the plan need some rearranging or rethinking?

If you find that you’re on target keep the plan as it is. But if you obviously see that something isn’t working, rethink your marketing strategies.

Primarily you want the world to beat a path to your door so keeping a good marketing plan updated and refined is crucial to the success of your business. Having a roadmap to success will both keep you on track and help to maximize your outcomes.

Since marketing is a process that never ends, have a few ideas already in place as to how you may reach your target audience.
While you may hope for the day when you can sit back reaping the benefits of your efforts, you can never stop marketing. The challenge of determining various methods and tactics that will get you noticed is a constant, but it can be fun.
Based upon my experience, when I find that one avenue isn’t bearing fruit, I simply recognize it as an opportunity to explore other avenues.
For me, that primarily means getting back to basics. So I write a new article, send out a press release, begin an e-mail campaign or simply get quiet for a few days until I’m inspired. But I always have something in my plan that keeps me motivated.
I suggest not putting all your eggs into one basket because if the well runs dry, you’re left with nothing.
I also suggest staying open to new ideas. Very often we become set in our ways and feel afraid to veer in a new direction. You may not have considered a particular avenue until someone suggests it, so don’t say no until you’ve given it some thought.

Copyright 2002, 2003 Charlene Rashkow

6 Ways to Increase Your Customers

6 Ways to Attract Customers1. STOP DOING THE ONE-STEP:

95% of the advertising used by small business owners is based on the One-Step strategy.

The marketing piece tries to sell the product or service in one, quick and easy step. There may be a description of the product or service, with a few bulleted features. Often there are a few bursts about how long they’ve been in business, how many awards they’ve won, etc. They may include a picture of the owner. At the bottom of the ad, flyer, e-mail or letter is a phone number with the line ‘call for more information.’  Few people respond to these types of One-Step ads. They are huge money wasters. If you’re doing the one-step, you already know they don’t work — stop using them immediately.

2. DO THE TWO-STEP:

People buy things they want from people they know, like and trust. You can’t get people to know, like and trust you in a One-Step ad.
Instead, use the Two-Step strategy.
Step One, attract hundreds, even thousands, of prospects by offering free information. In other words, use your initial marketing as a lead generator, not a sales generator.
Step Two, build a Prospect List of follow-up information — name, address, phone, e-mail, etc. — from all of the prospects that responded to your first step, and follow up with them repeatedly with enticing offers.
It sounds like a simple idea, and it is. But while it is the most powerful marketing technique available, few business owners use it.
With just this one technique we have helped our clients double, triple even quadruple the size of their businesses.
This simple tactic has helped us grow our home-based, Internet business from nothing just a little over two years ago, to nearly $200,000 a year. And it has all been done on a shoestring budget!
There’s no reason why you can’t do the same thing. Maybe your goal isn’t to make a hundred thousand a year from your small business. That’s okay. Perhaps you just want to make a few hundred extra dollars each month. You can use these step-by-step systems to make any amount you want.
It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have. The simple strategy and systems work for service businesses, product based businesses, home-based businesses, Internet businesses, even traditional brick and mortar businesses.
We’ve put everything you need to know in a simple, step- by-step format called The Give to Get Marketing Solution. You don’t need to be a marketing or business genius, to apply any of it. The best thing is, all of the techniques are low-cost, and many of them are actually free.

3. RE-INSTATE PAST CUSTOMERS

One of our clients had lost hundreds of customers over the years. They just stopped coming back. We helped him write a simple, one-page letter telling his past customers that he missed serving them and would really like to have them back. He included an Appreciation Gift Certificate. Within 4 weeks, 20% were coming back to his business regularly again. It didn’t take much — he just let them know that their business was important to him.

4. DO A JOINT VENTURE

Team up with someone who has the same types of customers as you, and do a joint venture. We helped a real estate agent put on a Home-Buying workshop with a banker, and they both generated new customers through the effort.
You could do a joint mailing with another business to share the costs. If you both have a customer list, she could endorse your products or services to her customers, and you could do the same for her. You both would gain new customers from each others lists.

5. FOLLOW UP MULTIPLE TIMES WITH YOUR PROSPECTS

We have had many clients that were throwing away thousands of dollars a year in sales by simply failing to follow up with their prospects.
They assumed that if their prospects didn’t buy the first day they called for information, that they weren’t worth any more of their time and effort. What a waste!
We taught one client how to capture the names and addresses of her prospects who called for information about her service, and put them into a computer database.
Then every month, she printed labels from her database and sent all of her prospects a flyer telling them about her latest offers. Her sales went through the roof!
She learned a powerful lesson about people. We are not all ready to buy at the same time. Some prospects buy immediately. Some need to be reminded of your product or service offers two or three times, and still others may not be ready to buy until you have followed up with them 8-10 times!

If you give up after the first contact, you are losing up to 80% of your potential sales. And you’re not just losing the value of their initial sales, but you’re also losing the combined value of their future sales!
We enter every one of our Prospects into our database — that’s over 70,000 prospects so far — and we follow up with them all, several times a month with our free newsletters. Some of our prospects become customers after just a few follow-up newsletters, but most buy after receiving 8 or more. If we didn’t follow up over and over again with our prospects, our sales would be a fraction of what they are.
Don’t ever throw away prospect names and addresses, because they haven’t purchased after one or two follow-ups. When they are ready to become customers, you want to be sure that you are uppermost in their minds.

6. ATTRACT NEW CUSTOMERS WITH FREE SAMPLES

Free samples are everywhere. When you watch a preview of a new movie, you’re receiving a free sample of that movie. Imagine Hollywood trying to sell movie tickets without providing us with those free sample scenes!
A local popcorn vendor gives away small sample bags of his caramel popcorn at summer festivals — 60% of the samplers turn around and get in line to pay for the full size bag!
A dental restoration client of ours was hesitant when we recommended that he give away a free $100 dental restoration to prospective dentists. But since we knew that his restorations were superior to his competitors, we knew that many of those dentists would switch to his company as their primary restoration supplier, after sampling his work. He made the offers, and they loved his work. He tripled his business in 9 months.

These are marketing tactics that any business can begin to apply immediately. Make a commitment to start growing your business today, and you may be amazed at where it will be a year from now.

(c) Copyright 2002 – Joe Gracia – Give to Get Marketing

13 Costly Marketing Mistakes

To be successful and profitable, you must ‘START’ using the most effective marketing strategies possible within your overall marketing plans.  Less obvious, is the fact that you must also ‘STOP’ using the most ineffective, money-wasting marketing strategies.

I call them The 13 Costly Marketing Mistakes. While this list doesn’t cover ‘all’ of the possible marketing mistakes, it does describe some of the most expensive, destructive and most ‘common’ made by many owners or traditional and home based businesses.

1. ONE-STEP MARKETING

The ‘One-Step’ marketing strategy is the most common marketing strategy used by most small business owners today. It’s everywhere — and it’s a big money waster.  It consists of an ad, flyer or other marketing vehicle that simply ‘announces’ the business name, possibly lists a few basic features of the product or service and ends with an address and phone number.  The prospect is now expected to respond to this type of marketing piece by immediately purchasing the product or service.  Unless you are offering an extremely ‘high-demand,’ ‘hard-to-get’ product/service (an original Van Gogh painting for $100, Super Bowl tickets, etc.) this marketing strategy ‘almost always’ results in little or no response. This strategy totally disregards the ‘psychological buying sequence’ of consumers. It’s very much like walking up to a stranger at a party and asking ‘Would you marry me?’ What do you think the response would be?

2. NOT KNOWING WHICH EFFORTS ARE WINNERS OR LOSERS

Not knowing for sure which of your marketing efforts are producing results and which are big ‘money-wasters’ is a guaranteed way to minimize your results.
Even new businesses are investing in up to a ‘dozen’ marketing devices at any given time. Not only are we talking about traditional media, like newspaper or Yellow Page ads but ‘many’ others that may not be as obvious.
These marketing devices are either contributing to your business profit or destroying it. Most business owners don’t have a clue as to which is which.
If they did, they could easily guarantee increasing their profitable results by investing more in the winning devices and eliminating the money-wasting, losing devices.

3. NOT TELLING YOUR PROSPECTS WHAT TO DO

Expecting your prospects to ‘know’ exactly what you want them to do guarantees low results.
Never, never, never assume. Take a look at most small business ads and you’ll see that the business owners are almost always ‘assuming’ that the prospect will know exactly what they want them to do . . . without telling them.
At the bottom of the ad there will be a phone number and an address. Usually nothing more. Ask one of these business owners what they ‘wanted’ the prospect to do after reading their ad and they will most likely reply, ‘Buy my product! Isn’t it obvious??’
The answer is a resounding ‘No!’
For one, there is rarely enough information in the typical marketing piece for a consumer to make an ‘immediate’ buying decision. Therefore, that can’t be the action expected from the consumer.
Second, the marketing competition for the prospect’s consumer dollars is fierce. The prospect is usually exposed to dozens of ads for basically the same product/service. Obviously, he or she is not going to take ‘action’ on every single ad.
How do ‘you’ insure that they will respond to ‘your’ marketing piece and take the specific action you intended?
Certainly, not by ‘assuming’ that they will ‘know’ or ‘figure out’ what you want them to do.

In order for a business owner to tell prospects exactly what action to take next, the business owner must know what that action should be. Once you know the ‘psychological buying sequence’ the next expected action becomes obvious.

4. CALL FOR MORE INFORMATION

Closely related to mistake number 3, is the marketing piece that again simply ‘announces’ the business name, lists a few basic features of the product or service, ends with an address and phone number . . . and then asks the prospect to ‘Call for More Information.’
One of the last things a prospect wants, is to feel dumb. What information should they ask for? Does this mean that the business doesn’t have a brochure or any other literature? Are they going to have to take notes?? Will there be a test?
The other thing ‘no prospect’ wants is to feel pressured. Whether it’s true or not, the average prospect ‘assumes’ that they’ll get a ‘high-pressured’ sales pitch if they call. Most do not want to risk this pain.

Therefore, the ‘Call for More Information’ tag is almost always ignored.
While ‘some’ prospects may not have a problem responding to this ‘vague’ directive, the majority do. If you doubt this . . . try putting it at the bottom of your marketing pieces. You’ll soon be convinced that few prospects, if any, respond to the ‘Call for More Information’ marketing mistake.

5. FOCUSING ON YOU INSTEAD OF YOUR CUSTOMER

It seems natural to tell your prospects about you and your company. We’re proud of what we do and how we do it and we ‘assume’ that our prospects will be impressed and motivated to take action.
‘We’ve been in business for 16 years…’
‘We are an award winning, cutting-edge organization…’
‘We are equipped with the latest micro-techno, laser-guided, nuclear-activated widget-gizmos…’
Too often these phrases evoke the following responses from prospects:

‘So what?’
‘Big deal.’
‘Who cares?’
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that your marketing materials shouldn’t include background information about you and your company and/or specifications about your product/service. I’m saying that this should be ‘supportive’ information, not your ‘primary’ marketing message.
It’s a costly marketing mistake to think that prospects ‘care’ about the same things you care about.
They rarely do.
However, they do care deeply about something entirely different. Once you know what that is, and you address it powerfully and clearly in your marketing, you will begin to draw prospects to you like a magnet.

6. NOT USING EFFECTIVE FREE/LOW-COST MARKETING METHODS

Ask the typical small business owner what marketing is, and he/she will probably reply, ‘Advertising.’

What kinds of advertising?
‘Yellow Page ads, newspaper ads, magazine ads, radio ads, television ads, billboards, bus cards, Val-Pak mailings, etc.’
While all of these advertising devices can certainly be a ‘part’ of a successful marketing strategy, there are also dozens of ‘low-cost’ and ‘no-cost’ marketing methods available to the small business marketer.

By simply discovering and applying these simple ‘low-cost,’ ‘no-cost’ methods, you will be able to significantly stretch the effectiveness and profitability of your marketing efforts.

It’s relatively easy to produce ‘profitable’ results with a well-planned, tested and ‘proven’ marketing strategy. However, it’s even easier to lose thousands of dollars by making ‘any’ of the following Costly Marketing Mistakes.

7. COPYING YOUR COMPETITORS MISTAKES

If ‘everyone’ else is doing it, then it must be the right thing to do. Remember mom’s admonition, ‘If everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you want to jump too?’  Look at the local, small business ads in any newspaper and you will find the same basic format, same basic message, same basic strategy (see Marketing Mistake #1). . . and the same basic results; little or no response.
We feel safe in the crowd. Safe doing what everyone else is doing. We also ‘assume’ that if it works for them, it can work equally well for us.
Unfortunately, a business’s success is rarely from ‘one’ element in their marketing strategy. Their success is the result of ‘many’ diverse marketing elements; from their location, to their possible lack of competition, to their ‘personality’ and ‘abundance or lack of’ marketing aggressiveness.
But we rarely take all of these strategic elements into consideration when ‘copying’ our competitors. Copying a single marketing element from a competitor is like reaching into ‘their’ pile of puzzle pieces, pulling out one piece and then trying to make it fit into your puzzle.

It rarely works because your marketing puzzle is unique and each piece must fit ‘perfectly’ with all of your other pieces.
In addition, whatever success a competitor may be experiencing can often be from a ‘few’ of their less obvious or ‘visible’ marketing methods. Often the highly visible element (ad, flyer, brochure, etc.) is one of the least effective.
You end up copying the profit losers, rather than developing your own profit winners.

8. DIRECTING YOUR MARKETING TO EVERYONE

Directing your marketing to ‘everyone’ but to ‘no one’ in particular guarantees that your marketing will be ignored.
Many small businesses have failed to determine who their best prospects are, where those prospects live or how to reach them effectively and efficiently.
This is a critical first step in any successful marketing strategy. By skipping this step, they resort to running vague and generic ‘one-step’ ads in mass media, such as local newspapers, magazines, radio, television, cable, Val-pak mailings, Internet Web sites, etc.
Their ‘hope’ is that by presenting their ‘generic’ message about their business to the ‘greatest’ number of people, the result will be the highest number of sales. Wrong.

Unfortunately for them, effective marketing doesn’t work that way. The fact is, in most cases only a small percentage of the readers/listeners/viewers of mass media will have a ‘need’ for your product or service at any given time.
Some business owners may have a hard time believing this, but nevertheless, it’s true. ‘Everyone’ does not need or want your product or service.  By not targeting your marketing to your very ‘best’ and logical prospects, you are wasting most of your marketing dollars on people who have little or no interest in your product or service.
If there are only 100 ‘true’ prospects for your product or service out of 10,000 possible readers of a publication, why would you want to spend thousands of dollars presenting your message over and over to the 9,900 non-prospects?
Yet, this is the method most small business owners choose because they don’t know that there is a much more cost-effective and profitable strategy.

9. WASTING MONEY ON IMAGE MARKETING

A major marketing mistake made by many small businesses is pouring their marketing dollars into ‘image’ marketing. Some of their marketing pieces may be clever, even humorous.  That kind of marketing rarely asks prospects to take ‘action.’ The result? Wasted marketing dollars, vague ideas of who saw the marketing pieces and frustration. Giant corporations like Pepsi or Nike are interested in ‘name recognition’ and a specific ‘image’ for their brands. Therefore, they spend ‘millions’ of dollars on creative, often fun marketing pieces designed to impress their target market with their ‘image’ rather than to generate a direct or immediate sale.  Obviously your image and name recognition are important to the success of your small business. But even ‘more’ important are immediate and steadily growing sales. How can you determine if your marketing is primarily focused on ‘image’ marketing? It is if each of your marketing pieces don’t ask for ‘immediate and specific’ action from your prospects.
This money-wasting and sales destroying marketing mistake is much more common than you may think.

10. GIVING UP ON YOUR PROSPECTS AFTER JUST ONE OR TWO FOLLOW-UPS

Effective marketers know that persistence and repetition are vital for success. But too many business owners spend a great deal of time and money attracting prospects to their businesses and then either follow-up with them just once, or, as incredible as it may sound, never follow-up with them at all.
Successful people in sales know that most of the sales are made after the seventh or eighth call. Few are made after just one follow-up call.
Your prospects have many reasons for not buying from you immediately.

They may not be ready to make a decision. They may have more pressing things on their minds. They may not feel comfortable enough with you, or trust you enough to buy right now. They may have more questions about your product/service, that haven’t been answered. They may have information from you and 2-3 of your competitors and are trying to determine which company would be their best choice.

By following up repeatedly, you will have a dramatic advantage over your competitors, since few of them will follow up more than once. When your prospects are ready to buy, which could be one week from now, or six months from now, you will have a better chance of getting the sale if you are uppermost in their minds. You can only do that by consistently following up.

11. CHANGING YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY FREQUENTLY

Henry Ford once told an ad executive from his advertising agency, ‘It’s time for you to come up with a new ad campaign. We’ve been using this one for too long and I’m sure the public has to be bored to death with it.’
Ford was reportedly miffed to hear, ‘But sir, we haven’t even started running this campaign yet. The public has never seen it.
Having seen the campaign presentations dozens of times, ‘he’ was bored with it. He wanted to see something ‘new and different.’
You should never, never stop using something that is still working, because you, your employees or your friends are ‘bored’ with it.
In successful and profitable marketing you should only be listening to your ‘customers’ since they vote with dollars rather than opinions.

12. WAITING FOR REFERRALS TO MAGICALLY APPEAR

Word-of-mouth referrals are an extremely important element of any business’s marketing success. But most small businesses are making a big marketing mistake by believing that those referrals will come automatically.
It’s true that if you provide good service and your prices are competitive, you will probably get ‘some’ word-of-mouth referrals. But to generate an abundance and highly profitable level of referrals takes more initiative and effort.
Unless someone comes to us and specifically asks for our recommendation of a good dentist, doctor, veterinarian, insurance agent or auto alarm specialist we are probably not going to actively ‘promote’ these businesses to our friends and neighbors.
How often in any given year are ‘you’ asked to recommend a good dentist or auto alarm specialist? The chances are . . . not very often, if at all.
That’s why expecting referrals to come to you . . . just by chance (as most small business owners do), is a costly marketing mistake.
The most ‘Costly’ mistake of all . . .

13. BASING YOUR MARKETING ON GUESSES AND ASSUMPTIONS

Basing your marketing strategy on ‘guesses,’ ‘assumptions’ or ‘advice’ from friends, relatives or business associates is a sure way to guarantee little or no results from your marketing.

‘Guessing’ at the elements of your marketing strategy is like trying to guess the specific sequence of numbers needed to open a combination lock.
Since each consecutive step is linked to the success of the previous step, one wrong guess destroys your chances for success.
Most people, including many small business owners, mistakenly believe that marketing is more of an ‘art’ than a ‘science.’
Those of the ‘marketing is art’ point of view believe that anyone’s opinion concerning marketing is just as valid as anyone else’s.
In reality, marketing is very much a ‘science’ with specific principles, rules and ‘quantifiable’ results.
Because of this ‘marketing is art’ philosophy, most of what people believe about marketing is based on ‘myths,’ not ‘facts.’
Show ten people two ads and ask them to select the one they think is the better ad. Nine out of ten will select the profit loser rather than the profit winner. Why? Because they are unaware of and don’t recognize the marketing principles and strategies that make a powerful marketing piece a profit winner.

So they base their ‘opinion’ instead on such vague, subjective criteria as ‘cleverness,’ ‘cuteness,’ ‘different and artistic look,’ and the ads’ ‘fun/pun’ appeal.

These criteria rarely have anything to do with generating maximum response but they have everything to do with wasting your marketing investment and destroying your potential sales.
The best way to develop a successful and profitable marketing strategy is to use the knowledge, experience and skills of someone who has already discovered the marketing approaches that ‘do work’ as well as the approaches that ‘don’t work.’
These discoveries should always be based on measurable results from objective tests . . . never subjective opinions or assumptions.

Copyright © 2000-2010 by Joe Gracia – All Rights Reserved.

How Do Potential Clients Think? Ten Things to Consider

Potential Clients?A potential client walks in your front door, or sends you an email from your Web site. How did that client find you? How did that client choose your firm from dozens of other competitors that could offer him similar services?   Whether you are designing a Web site, developing a brochure, or even considering the layout of your lobby, everything you do affects the way a potential client thinks of your firm. It seems silly, but even the smallest things can have profound impacts. Leather chairs and a mahogany armoire in your office may impress some clients but scare away others.

This month we look at how potential clients think. As you read over these points, ask yourself two questions: first, who is my ideal client? Second, how do I need to change my marketing to conform to that client’s thought process?

  1. Understanding of the Legal Process .
    There are some people who – though not lawyers – live and breathe the law everyday. A tax accountant, for example, may not have a JD, but she no doubt has a pretty good understanding of the Tax Code, the IRS, and judicial proceedings. Contrast this knowledge to a person injured in a car crash. The car crash victim may have never given a moment’s thought to law, or what lawyers do. Suddenly, the pain and medical payments have forced them to seek representation. Depending on the type of client you are interested in attracting, your marketing needs to reflect the level of understanding your clients bring to the table. For people looking for a lawyer for the very first time, consider providing basic information, “how to guides” and “frequently asked questions” materials. For experienced clients, recently published articles on a particular area of expertise might be more appropriate.
  2. Urgency .
    A person is arrested for drunk driving and is in the local jail, waiting to be bailed out. The arraignment is set for 10am the next day. This client needs help fast! Now consider the in-house counsel of a large corporation looking for outside help on an upcoming patent issue. The DUI defendant has about 48 hours to find a good attorney; the in-house counsel might spend months. If you are serving DUI defendants, do you have a 24-hour answering service? Does your Web site state that you’ll return calls within a certain period of time? 
  3. Skepticism .
    It is a sad fact that some Americans either fear or dislike lawyers. At least until they need one, at which point they grudgingly contact an attorney. How do you combat skepticism? Some people feel more comfortable if they can ‘put a face to the name’, which may be an argument for including attorney photos on your Web site. Client testimonials can also help. And prominently advertising “free consultation” may also go a long way (if you offer that, of course).
  4. Personal Relevance .
    How personally involved is the potential client in the case? For issues like bankruptcy, divorce, and criminal law, the legal matter at hand may be one of the most important moments in a person’s life. Your initial interactions with that potential client may be vital to getting a signed client. If you recognize the significance of the case to the client (regardless of how many similar cases you have had before), you may put the client at ease. If you immediately point them to your paralegal, they may look for an attorney who cares. 
  5. Quantifiable Needs .
    Sometimes, choosing a lawyer comes down to simple ‘yes or no’ questions. Does the firm have more than ten years of experience? What’s the win/loss record? Will this cost me more than $1000? Is your office within 25 miles of my house? The more of this information you provide upfront – whether on your Web site, brochures, or other advertising – the more likely it is that you will answer important questions a potential client may have (and choose you over a firm that doesn’t provide this information). 
  6. Qualitative Needs .
    Some clients want an attorney who is “compassionate” and “understanding of their needs.” Others are looking for someone who is “a pit bull” and “aggressive.” If your firm has a distinct personality, why not advertise this to potential clients? After all, if all of your attorneys are really ‘pit bulls,’ a potential client that wants someone to hold their hand isn’t going to choose your firm anyway. 
  7. Internet Experience .
    Are your clients tech-savvy engineers from Silicon Valley who get excited by the latest gizmos, or hard-working blue-collar folks who want basic and straightforward information? Create your Web site to reflect the values of your potential customers. 
  8. Alternatives .
    Are there alternatives to using a lawyer for your potential clients? For example, instead of hiring you to draft their will, could they use a software product instead? If so, do you have an explanation for why a potential client should choose legal representation over the alternatives? 
  9. Preferred Method of Contact .
    Some people prefer to talk on the phone. Others only want to communicate by email. For some practice areas, the initial consultation may be followed by fancy dinners, tickets to theatre, and golf outings. Think about how potential clients prefer to engage with your firm. 
  10. The Tip of the Iceberg .
    The suggestions above are only a few of the hundreds of factors that go into a client’s decision to retain an attorney. The best way to really understand your clients’ behavior is to ask them – ask past clients, ask current clients, and ask potential clients. Gleaning this information now will help you win over more clients in the future.