What Song Are You Playing?

February 25, 2015 9:42 pm

I happened to be staying in a hotel a few weeks back near the parade start for the Giants Street Theatre performance in Perth. As they moved from the park to the street an accompanying band was playing a tune on the following flat bed truck. Ever since that day, the tune comes back into my head two to three times a week, reminding me of the event. The melodic hook in the song, hooked me.

What song is your business playing? What is the tune that lodges in the head of your customers and prospects? Is it one that evokes pleasant memories of customer service, quality products, workmanship and service – so much so that they will return for future business and tell their friends? Or is it simply a banal tune with no distinction, no hook?

Front of mind is better than out of mind. Which song are you playing?

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Thin Air Marketing

January 12, 2015 11:32 pm

There was a company that approached their marketing endeavours in an ad hoc fashion. They spent tens of thousands of dollars every year getting their message out, with one of their strategies being radio advertising. I am not picking on this form of advertising here but merely pointing out some issues…

  • Two of the ads promoted an area of their business that they were long known for in their town but…they disliked doing  that type of work and it made the least amount of profit
  • The other two ads were probably 50% near the mark of their core business
  • The radio company had never bothered to get a true understanding of their business and what they really wanted to promote
  • The radio company wrote ads more from a historical perspective of the company than its current direction
  • Because they weren’t analysing the response rate, weeks had gone by without a single call from the advertisements

The disconnect here, between the core business and its profit drivers,  and the corresponding advertising is strikingly apparent. When a company doesn’t have that deep understanding of who they are and where they make their money, and then promote their services in a shotgun, ad hoc approach, the chances of success are very limited. Combine this with no analysis of marketing strategies and corresponding enquiries and you’ve got good money going down the drain (or into thin air in this case).

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What Are You Sitting On?

November 30, 2014 11:40 pm

A public speaker requests the audience to look underneath their chairs. One lucky attendee finds placed there a gift.

Business is like that.

In our attempts to drive new business we expend countless funds and effort on creating well laid out plans – hiring marketing strategists, social media experts, web SEO specialists and the like.

One of the things we neglect (and often this is due to the effort involved) is the hundreds and perhaps thousands of customers, prospects and unfulfilled quotations that have built up over the years but have never been utilised and are sitting right underneath us. The simple process of gathering  their contact details from business cards, quotations, various lists etc. can be an extremely valuable process. Judiciously collating this data into highest potential leads and then creating a strategy designed to connect with these can turn a business around fast, getting get cash in the door a lot quicker than taking months to make a plan and then market indirectly – such as social media.

While all these strategies have their place, going directly to those who you have dealt with in the past is one of the best ways I know of and that many of my clients have experienced significant results in.

What’s under your chair? Take a look. You might be presently surprised.

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Car Lovers – getting a customer to return

October 30, 2014 8:45 am

Having a filthy car from my travel in the country and disliking the process of washing it, I decided to call into a car wash I’d never been to before – Car Lovers,Toowoomba QLD. It was my first time and won’t be my last time. Why?

– the employee was very patient with me describing

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All You Have To Do is Ask – Referrals

October 30, 2014 8:42 am

Business owners, managers and marketers spend countless hours in developing complex marketing strategy models with lengthy roll out times. One of the most overlooked and quickest ways of getting new business is that of referrals.

There are two main ways of getting referrals.

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Front Of Mind or Out Of Mind

October 30, 2014 8:40 am

I have long held the belief that those who, on a monthly basis, keep in touch with their key prospects and customers are in the top percentile of their industry. At a recent speaking engagement to 70 electricians I asked the question “how many of you keep in touch with your key prospects and customers at least monthly either by calling, monthly newsletter etc?” It was worse than my prediction. No hands went up.

So…if you keep in touch with your key customers and prospects at least once a month, not only will you be in the top one percent of those who do so, you will be the one they call when they need your services.

You want to be front of mind – not out of mind.

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The 1 minute Survey

October 30, 2014 8:38 am

I get emailed five minute and seven minute survey requests from hotels I’ve stayed at and other companies that I have conducted business with. I never fill them out with the main reason being the 5 and 7 minutes time requirement. It is just not that important to me.

But… if they were to send me a one minute survey I would be more likely to complete it. One hotel sent an email with two options. A one minute and five minute survey. Smart. I completed the former.

Surveys are useful things and reducing the survey to even one question ie. “would you refer us to your friends and family?” will more likely be completed than one with fifty questions. If they answer yes to that, you know you’ve done a great job. Adding a section of ‘additional comments’ is also useful.

Treating customers time as a priority will more likely get you the responses you are after

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Providing Options

October 30, 2014 8:37 am

If you send a quote or discuss a product with a potential buyer always present options. Options provide the choice of “which one should I take?” If there are no options it then becomes “should I take this or not?” Providing options for payment type, delivery dates, sizes and anything else that is relevant is invaluable and significantly increases the likelihood of gaining a new customer.

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Customer Needs Verses Pushing Product

August 4, 2014 10:37 pm

I visited a high end hi fi store on the weekend. The salesperson asked me what I was interested in which was simply something I could play CD’s on that gave excellent separation of instruments and vocals. For the ensuing 15 minutes I got a download of all his musical education and how wonderful the product was. The system rotated, I could mount the speakers on walls, the remote could make coffee (joking) –  all of which 1% related to why I went in there in the first place. He lost me and lost the sale.

Most buyers aren’t interested in how good you are or how good the product is, and ALL of them are interested in themselves.
“What are the benefits to me and will it meet my goals?”
If you listen intently to your customers needs, identify their wants and centre your discussion around them, you might in fact create a new customer in five minutes than have them walk out the door empty handed after fifteen.

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Customer Service and the Bottom Line

January 12, 2013 2:21 pm

Companies and organizations often spend inordinate amounts of time and energy focusing on how to increase sales and profits and rightly so. But, there is one area in particular, right under their analytical noses that escapes notice – the link between their front line people and profits. Here are some real life, personally experienced examples.

The great

  • Staff who remember your name (and they’re not looking at a screen)
  • The new cafe owner who gives you free coffee to try 
  • The employee who notices the small things and takes it upon themselves to improve your condition
  • The retail assistant that says “so what brings you into the store today?” Brilliant question, interested in directing me and I can’t answer no
  • The taxi driver, mindful of your time and money takes you the quickest route. For the antithetical example go to http://rayhodge.com.au/blog/dismal-customer-service
  • The company, hotel or store you visit that always makes you feel you’re the most important person while there, not just a number (or dollar)

The Bad

  • The restaurant where you always have to ask for service
  • No initiative by the team member
  • The retail assistant that says “are you happy browsing?” always says to me “please don’t bother me, just browse away.”
  • The tradesman who grunts and leaves a mess
  • Non smiling and disinterested receptionists
  • Sales people who are more interested in getting the sale than in my needs
  • One star service in five star establishments

The ugly

  • Telephony support  who upon my complaint say “I understand.” How can they? They’re not me!
  • Cabbies who take me the long way
  • Invoices that end up double what I expected because things weren’t explained properly at the start. 
  • The bank that provides one teller for lunchtime queues. (I ‘d be out of business within a month if I treated customers this way).  
  • Frontline staff interested in themselves, on personal calls while I am waiting, exhale heavily, lethargic in their service etc etc 

 A few things to keep in mind for your business

  • Does the receptionist answer the phone with energy? Remember, people hear smiles. (I once put a mirror in front of a receptionist to remind her of this fact).
  • Frontline People. Any one, dealing with customers needs to be trained and monitored in how they engage with your clients. From tradesman to retail, from support to sales. Some staff do this naturally, others have to have vigorous training, others allocated to back office roles.
  • Hire behaviorally for the role. If you are recruiting someone for a ‘people role’, much better to get it right up front than try to train someone in it afterwards. 
  • Teach your team that the customer is the most important person in your business. Go out of your way to ‘wow’ them. (I am the only consultant I know of to offer 24/7 support and most often return calls within 2 hours – some say it’s stupid, I say its normal. 

As in all things, what you value, shapes your actions. And, if your company puts me first and communicates I am important, I will more than happily be a long term paying customer I will refer my friends and be your evangelist. It will mean less cost cutting, more sales and profit for you!

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Marketing Shift

June 29, 2012 7:04 pm

Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity, ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’ can quite adequately be applied to the area of sales and marketing.  The word ‘shift’, means to ‘move or cause to move from one place to another’. To gain different results, we have to try different things and measure the effect of these changes. Here are some ingredients for creating shift.

1.       Measure and analyse what is currently happening (most don’t do this). For example:

  • Enquiries derived from your marketing efforts e.g. Website and Social Media enquiries, publications, public speaking opportunities, newspaper advertising, walk-ins, word of mouth etc
  • Enquiries resulting in appointments or meetings
  • Meetings resulting in request for tenders
  • Tenders or quotes resulting in sales
  • Reason for not converting either from initial enquiry to meeting or meeting to sale etc
  • Sales performance of individuals
  • Average dollar sale
  • Seasonal results

You get my point? There are numerous things to measure and too many to list. Create the appropriate indicators for your business and start recording and analysing the results.

2.       Try some variations to what you are doing. Here are some ideas:

  • Change your quote presentation. Offer different options with higher pricing and value. Change the layout. Include testimonials etc
  • Try different scripts or different marketing materials
  • Use different headlines, change the call to action (or add one)
  • Look at your sales closing process and try a different approach
  • Update your website, designed around your buyers need (not just about how good you are)
  • Identify your key buyers, markets and major profit areas, narrowing your focus

3.       Analyse results against the original baseline

4.       Improve further

5.       Analyse

6.       Improve

7.       And so on

Getting a ‘shift’ in results is relatively simple, but it does mean constant improvement with ongoing analysis.

For some useful tools to help you here, go to http://ignitebusinessconsulting.com.au/free-resources?cat=7

Good luck!

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