Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Questions that need Answers & Ideas

If your best customer was also your best friend, what would you be doing differently in your interactions with them?

If your best friend was also your best customer, what would you be doing differently in your interaction with them?

If you treated all of your new customers the way you treat your best customers, what would you need to do differently?

If you treated all of your current customers the way you treat new customers, what would you do differently?

Take a moment and answer those 4 questions.

Write those answers and ideas down.

Only you know the real answers.

Now I have one more question.

If you implemented the changes and ideas you just wrote down, would your business be more successful and your future more secure?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

6 Marketing Essentials for Your Business in 2011

25 years ago I began my adventure into the world of advertising and marketing. I took a job in Detroit creating campaigns for radio advertising clients.

I've spoken to 100's of business owners, managers,and entrepreneurs. I've interviewed the customers, clients, frontline workers and support staff. And I'm still learning.

My definition of marketing is everything that presents you and your business to your "marketplace". Your "marketplace" includes your current, past and future customers and clients. It also includes influencers who may not buy from you, but they have the power to influence those that will.

Number 1: You have to get your entire business moving in the same direction to create harmony and forward momentum. Think Big Picture. Really BIG PICTURE. All of your employees need to know what the mission is and that each one of them is responsible for contributing.

Number 2: You need to create a long term identity that will define who you are in all economic climates. This identity, also called your Brand, will not change over time, it will only be adapted.

Number 3: Your brand and your mission will be known by your customers and clients. If you are unsure what your brand is, perhaps you need to ask your customers and see if you are both on the same page.

Number 4: You need your own website. Not a Facebook page, not a Twitter account, you need something that you control. In 2011 if you don't have your own website, you don't exist as a legitimate business.

Number 5: You need a presence on Facebook and Twitter. This is not a contradiction of number 4. Social Media is a communication tool. Your website is to show that you are real. Odds are Social Media will be just as important as your website, but for a different reason. Think of it this way. A retail store is like a website. Social Media is like a phone number. See the link?

And Number 6: You will need to optimize your website for mobile. Predictions are pointing to 2012 as the year that more people will access the web via smartphones than laptops. This means smaller screens and if you have not created a mobile version of your online presence you will eventually be behind your competitors.

Which reminds me, I need to do number 6 myself!

Do you agree with my list of 6? Are there others you would add?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

7 Secrets

(This is an updated repost from about 15 months ago.)

For nearly 8 years, I have worked for a group of radio stations in Fort Wayne, Indiana known collectively as Summit City Radio. (Click on the logos to go to each stations website.)

This was not my first experience in Sales or in Radio.

My radio career began in 1976 at the age of 16, and ten years later I began a career in radio advertising sales and marketing.

The 7 Secrets are neither original, nor secret.

However, I have seen so many people in the sales world either fail, burn out, or never establish their full potential because they either didn't know or didn't follow these 7 Sales Secrets.

So, let's get started:

1. People don't want to buy what you are trying to sell them. They want to buy a solution to their problem/need/want. The classic example is people don't buy a drill because of the shiny black handle. They buy a drill because they need to create a hole.

2. Price is not important. Value is all that matters. While there are limits to what someone is willing or able to spend, if your customer sees no value in what you are offering, there is no price cheap enough to overcome a lack of value.

3. Objections can lead to a yes. An easy "yes" means you either know your client very well, or you're just being an order taker. I know it sounds harsh, but objections are conversation starters, and these conversations can lead to customizing a solution to their problem/need/want. Which leads us to...

4. You have to listen and learn, more than smile and sell. I do my homework and am prepared with research about my customers and their business. I also look at their competition and we talk about them. We talk about their goals for the future, their past history, what they have done that was successful and what didn't work too. Too often salespeople are only focused on what they have to sell instead of seeing how they can help their customers.

5. Your customer knows more than you give them credit for. We live in an information age with easy access via the internet. Your customer has done their research. However...

6. Your customer knows less than they think they do. Just because the information is available, doesn't mean they know how to use interpret it and use it to their advantage. That's where you come in as the expert. Which means that you better know your stuff inside and out. You are personally responsible for your own education, not your boss. Be your very best.

7. Relationships are forever. Apply the Golden Rule. Treat others with the same honesty and respect that you would like to be treated with. Keep relationships alive with your customers, potential customers and even those that may never become your customers. After a few years at my current group of radio stations, I had developed relationships that began paying off in ways I would have never imagined.

That's it. A half dozen plus one Sales Secrets, that shouldn't be secret. Your comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Big Give

Last month I was invited to lunch for some marketing brainstorming.

I find brainstorming fun. It is one of the favorite parts of my day, because I get to play detective.

I ask, observe, listen, watch, suggest, and repeat.

This particular brainstorming session was with a hotel manager who is looking grow. His property is not the most expensive, nor is it at the bottom of the heap.

It is mid-market, without anything special or unique. He has spent the past 22 months cleaning the place up, making improvements, and "setting the stage" for more customers. He has improved the appearance and improved customer service.

Several ideas were discussed but the one that I remember the most is an idea that I use in my business. It is a question I like to ask, and in a moment I'll tell you the 5 magic words.

I discovered that he can devote 15 to 18 hours a week getting out in the community. My advice was for him to go door to door to door to door to every single business within a 3 mile radius of his hotel and offer to help each of these businesses.

See, he estimates that in a year he will have between 10 and 20 thousand guests staying at his hotel. Most of these guests will be from out of town.

These out of town guests will have various needs while they are visiting. Sure there is the obvious like a place to eat, or a drug store. But what about a car wash? A cell phone store? A Chiropractor? A ____________?

As he goes door to door and starts a relationship with his business neighbors, he is offering to give recommendations to his thousands of guests to these businesses. He will collect names, literature, business cards from these businesses and give them his information too.

But he will also use the 5 magic words:

"How Can I Help You?"

These words are the beginning of the Big Give. When you ask that question, you are not asking for yourself, you are asking to help others. You are opening the door to starting a relationship.

"How Can I Help You?" is not used in the same way the guy at Burger Barn speaks when he wants to take your order. It is used sincerely without expectation of immediate financial reward in return.

Most business people won't have an immediate answer, and not every business will be a good fit, but he is doing something none of the other hotel operators are doing.

Can you apply the Big Give to your business?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nickel & Diming Yourself Out of Business.

I know you are busy.

Too busy.

I met with the marketing manager of a local manufacturing company recently and he is wearing many, many hats.

He started out in the shop, so he knows how that side of the business works.

But now he is in charge of marketing the family business.

He is also the Purchasing Director.

And the Sales Manager.

And he is in charge of all the internet stuff including social media.

He needs a twin. Or a couple of them to get everything done.

If he was single and only required 8 hours of sleep a week, he could do it all.

But that's not going to happen.

Our current economy has forced multiple changes including having less people and needing to do more.

I know that this situation is repeated over and over and over again in small and medium size business and the pressure on the people to perform increases.

So, it can be easy to take the path of least resistance when certain opportunities occur. Like when an advertising sales person comes to you with an offer to do something that sounds like it might work, and is reasonably affordable, you might say yes, and then jump back to the rest of your multi-tasking.

Without a long term marketing and advertising plan, these types of decisions can nickle and dime you to death. A few hundred here, a couple thousand there and it all adds up to money spent.

This marketing manager/sales manager/purchasing director is smart. He knows what needs to be done. But he is too overwhelmed to get the important things done and instead is focusing on the urgent.

The day to day. Putting out fires. Coping with the changes in buying habits.

Here's what I learned in our meeting:

This started as a family business and didn't have to advertise or do much marketing. Word spread of the quality that they built and their customers sought them out.

With the downturn in the housing market, the environment for their product changed. No longer were home builders using their products, when they could cut costs and go with cheaper versions and save a few bucks (by sacrificing quality).

So they started reaching out to consumers but that only represents 15% of their business. This is where they spent some money recently due to an advertising sales person putting something together that sounded like it might work.

It Didn't Work.

But I'm not surprised.

The thought that ran through my mind was: Can a goldfish feed a family of four?

Silly concept you say, but that was what he was trying to do with the advertising campaign he ran.

He needs to determine if he wants that 15% direct to consumer market to grow to 30% or 45% or even more.

He also needs to determine how to win in the wholesale side that currently is 85% of their business.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Big Dog or Little Dog?

Mr & Ms Business person,

Would you like to buy 1 30 second commercial that will air in the Superbowl and be seen by 111 million people (give or take a few million) and that is all the advertising and marketing you can do for the next 12 months?

Why? Well the cost of airing an ad was $3 million in 2011.

The cost of producing a Superbowl worthy ad? Between $400,000 and $4 million.

But let's just work with the cost of airing the ad. $3,000,000.

There were over 40 minutes of ads that ran during the game. That would add up to 80 30 second commercials. Plus pregame, plus post game, plus local ads, and the network promotional ads.

30 seconds in a 3 hour telecast means you are 1 of 360 half minutes. And it cost $3 Mil.

Were you a Big Dog or Little Dog?

If you just aired one time, you were a Little Dog.

The Game itself was the Big Dog.

Chrysler, VW, Doritos, Pepsi, they also were Big Dogs, because they dominated the advertising during the game and in the weeks since.

But they spent more than 3 million... so.. so.. much, Much, MUCH more.

And face it. You can't afford to spend what they spend to be the Big Dogs in the Superbowl.

So, do you look for other Big Dogs to advertise with?

Or do you become a Big Dog yourself?

Let's take this down a level to the arena I work in. The city is Fort Wayne, Indiana. We are market number 110 in the United States, maybe a little higher.

We have about 20 radio stations, the 4 major TV networks, a couple of newspapers, and the usual advertising options.

In the radio business that I work in, there are 5 radio stations that have over 100,000 listeners every week according to the ratings service.

The next 5 have between 56,000 and 96,000 weekly listeners. And the remaining 11 range between 37,000 and 5,000 listeners per week.

If you advertise on one of the top 5 stations, it could cost you $100 per commercial. If you advertise on one of the stations in the bottom half, you could spend $20 or less per commercial.

If you have $3,000 a month to work with, you could get 1 commercial a day on those Big Dog stations that reach a lot of people, but you would be a Little Dog because 1 commercial a day is nearly worthless.

(There are some exceptions to what I just said about 1 per day, ask me and I'll tell you.)

What happens if you spend your $3000 a month on a Little Dog Station? You become a Big Dog with those stations listeners, because they are hearing about you more, 5 times more per day, and your brand and reputation grows and in turn your business grows.

This concept of Big Dog vs. Little Dog is one that advertising sales people often get backwards, and if you buy into their thinking that you have to advertise only on the Big Dog Stations, you both lose. Sure they may get your money once. They may get it twice if they are convincing enough.

But your goal as a business person is to find a group of people that you can afford to reach repeatedly and consistently with your advertising and marketing messages, and become dominate in their mind and hearts. That's how you become a Big Dog.

One last thought for this week.

It's not mine, I read it somewhere a long time ago.

Would you rather convince 100 people 10% of the way to do business with you?

Would you rather convince 10 people 100% of the way to do business with you?

The initial cost is the same, the results are vastly different.