Share what you know

Share What you KnowOne of our strongest held beliefs at my agency is that it’s a wise marketing practice to give away what you sell.  We fight and struggle to get a prospect’s attention and when we do, the first thing we want to do is show them what we know and how we can help them.

So why not reverse the process.  Why not freely share your knowledge and then the prospects are drawn to you!  No cold calling, no chasing them down.  They have already seen what you’re capable of — so they seek you out.

Think of it as sampling — demonstrating your expertise and giving your potential customers a taste.  It’s a great way to establish your abilities.

There are lots of ways you can give away your expertise.

  1. Write a newsletter filled with tips.
  2. Host a monthly networking meeting and in the first five minutes, share a fact your guests need to know.
  3. Create a blog.
  4. Join a forum and answer newbie questions.
  5. Surf other blogs in your category of expertise and jump into the conversations, adding value.

The key to this technique is this isn’t the place for a hard core sales pitches.  This is soft sales, so tread lightly.  If you’re good — you don’t need to push.

The Shifting Population And What It Means To You

As if juggling all your day-to-day tasks isn’t enough, as marketers we really need to keep track of the trends that will have impact on our business, services and products.

The shifting population is a trend that is definitely going to change the way we all do business.  The world is getting smaller, literally and figuratively.

Here are some facts associated with the trend.

  • Currently in the United States, on average, women of child bearing age are having fewer children than ever before.
  • Starting around the year 2015, more people will die than babies will be born in the US.  This is a direct impact of the aging boomers.
  • By the year 2025, it is predicted that mandatory retirement age (and the social security benefits etc.) will be at least five years older than it is today.
  • Older Americans will be healthier and work longer, many until their late 70’s, although most will not work full time or year round.
  • Because of the shifting population, finding and retaining employees will be one of the biggest challenges a company will face.

Think about what you sell and how you sell.

Recognizing that we are only 10 years away from feeling the effects of this population shift and adjusting your business models now, could give you a profound advantage in attracting and retaining both customers and employees.

The time to react is now.

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What will be different in ’09?

mad customerReady or not, 2009 is here.  By now, you should have your marketing plan for the year completed so you can hit the ground running. But…the percentages say you haven’t even started.

Would you like to know how you can significantly improve your business right out of the shoot?

If you’ve got it in you, here’s a tough but very smart way to jump start that planning.

Make a list of customers who were with you on January 1, 2008 but aren’t still with you today. Then, swallow your pride and pick up the phone.

If you demonstrate a little bit of humility, you’ll find those former clients more than happy to share their perspective with you.

Here are some questions to ask that former client.

  • What was it about our company (product or service) that made you choose to do business with us?
  • Did your early experience with our company match what you expected?
  • Was there a specific event or a series of events that began to make you question that decision?
  • What was the final straw — why did you decide to stop doing business with us?
  • What do you wish we had done differently?
  • How did we handle your departure?
  • Is there anything we could do to re-earn your business?

It might not be easy to listen to but, I guarantee you — if you do this, you will learn something significant.

Why not take the risk and start ’08 off with a burst of insight?

Quality. Service. Value. Who needs them?

It’s time to stop beating your chest in your marketing.

There are some words, like quality, service and value that are so overused in marketing materials that consumers just tune them out.

They’ve lost all meaning and credibility and using them can actually hurt you. They don’t enhance your message, they cloud it.

These words have been so watered down and are so generic that the consumer makes the assumption that you don’t really have anything to tout, so you’ll just pulling out the generic words to take up space.

That doesn’t mean you cannot market your quality, commitment to service or value.

Just find other ways to get the message across.   Let your customers talk about your quality.  Let satisfaction survey results brag about your high level or service.  Do price comparisons or a 110% price difference refund speak to your value.

Live them.  Just don’t use the words.

You can’t create cool. Can you?

Let’s face it.  Everyone is envious of Apple right now.  They were the king of cool with the iPod.  But then they got out cooled.  By the iPhone.

Who doesn’t want to be the iPod or iPhone of their industry?

But that’s the rub.  The more you chase cool, the less likely you are to catch it.  That’s the premise of the book Chasing Cool: Standing Out in Today’s Cluttered Marketplace by Noah Kerner and Gene Pressman.  The book interviews brand visionaries about how they discovered, invented or in some cases, tripped over cool.

Here are a few cool deal breakers:

How many of those are you guilt of?

The book is an interesting read.  While it gets you fired up, wanting to be cool — my beef with the authors would be that 90% of their examples are retail, consumer products.  It’s a lot easier to be cool selling an iPod than it is being an accountant.

That doesn’t  make it a bad read.  Just fair warning. There’s still plenty of inspirational stories and solid reminders of how we can better invite cool into our companies.  But I would have liked it if they went one step further and helped more with the “how to” section.

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What Motivates People To Buy?

One of the biggest challenges for business owners and marketers is to step out of their own shoes and slip into the shoes of the buyer.

You need to put aside your own bias and perceptions and always remember that when creating marketing messages, the bottom line is – you have to create the need in the potential buyer’s mind.

Always ask yourself — does my marketing answer the question:

Why should they exchange their hard-earned money for your product or service?

Having an understanding of the human psyche pays off here.  It sounds deceivingly simple, but all human decisions are motivated by one of eight things.

  • Time/convenience
  • Money
  • Recovering something lost (like youth)
  • Sex
  • Knowledge/self improvement
  • Security/safety
  • Comfort
  • Care of loved ones

Knowing this, how could you change your communications to better trigger a response from your audience?

Choose Your Words Carefully

Once or twice a week, I walk into my neighborhood dry cleaners with an armful of shirts. As the clerk (and it doesn’t matter which one) approaches the counter, they hopefully ask “just dropping off?”

And I always reply, “Nope, I need to pick up as well.”

Then, as if it was a choreographed part of their business, they take in a little breath and turn back to walk to the computer, to look up my order number. I’m pretty sure they’re completely unaware that they do it. Or that it is so embedded in the culture of the company that they ALL do it.

But they message they transmit is “it’s kind of a pain to have to get your stuff for you. I wish you were just dropping off.”

I never leave feeling as though they appreciate my business. I leave feeling bad that I inconvenienced them.

Imagine how different it would feel if they approached the counter with a “do you have an order to pick up too?”

Tiny tweak. Major difference.

Are you sure you’re transmitting the message you want your customers to receive? Are you sure there’s nothing in your company’s culture/customer interaction that could use a tiny tweak?

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