The ABC's of marketing. Applicable to any business.
The ABC's of marketing. Applicable to any business.
The story is a familiar one. Business is booming and all is going well – until the day comes when the owner can’t handle the business any longer. Sometimes the owner dies. Sometimes he’s disabled. The outcome is the same: a big mess – a liability – left in somebody else’s lap. If the company is very lucky, that “someone else” pulls an eleventh hour rescue and gets matters back on course. More often, however, the business is sent into a chaotic tail spin long enough to make a glorious noise before it crashes and dies.
Your mission: to turn the liability you’ve created into the legacy you intended. You must craft a business that is capable of surviving, with or without you.
You can’t make changes if you don’t know where you’re starting from or what you have to work with. Start by taking a good, long look at every corner of your business. Ask yourself: What would happen here if I couldn’t come back tomorrow?
Pay special attention to tasks that you perform on a daily basis, especially if you’re the only one doing those tasks. You also need to be aware of times when you are stopping the work flow, perhaps by demanding unnecessary check-ins from your employees before they can complete all the steps of the job they are doing.
When you walk into a Whole Foods Market, you’ll immediately get the feeling that something is different. It’s not just the faint hint of incense in the air. It’s just one of their core values, expressing itself in everything that the company does. It isn’t a surprise to learn that “Satisfying and Delighting Our Customers” is one of their seven core values. You just feel it, palpably, in every Whole Foods store.
Develop your company’s core values by looking for themes you want your company to express as it does business. Get those values on paper, and share them with your employees. Then, never waver from your course. You’ve just branded yourself in a powerful way. Any deviation will weaken your company. So navigate those situations with a “no compromise” attitude on the matter of your values, no matter how tiny the issue might seem to be today.
Does your customer service department understand the impact it makes, every day, on marketing and sales? Does the sales team understand that their role is to communicate, and every failure to communicate clearly creates problems down the line, long after they are done with the customer? You could probably go on in this vein for some time, noting how every person in your company affects every other person’s ability to do their job and deliver the kind of product or service everyone can be proud of. You can also probably name instances, right away, where your employees have absolutely no idea what other employees actually do on a day-to-day basis.
Companies thrive when each employee understands the bigger picture. Train your employees on multiple roles as much as possible. You’ll gain quite a lot from this exercise. For one thing, you might bring out the potential in an underperforming employee. You hired Sarah as an account executive, but she’s been struggling from Day 1. Most companies just let Sarah go. You, however, experiment, and cross train her on operations. The timid, mousy account executive displays a thoughtful, decisive, and highly competent side you never saw when she gets to learn the operations side of the business. Many people just fall into careers or jobs, taking whatever they can get. Why lose a brilliant administrator because she was a lousy sales representative? You never would have known, however, if you didn’t take the time to introduce her to other sides of the company.
This sense of the “bigger picture” also creates a team who can cover all of the tasks inherent to running your business, which makes your company even stronger. It guards against the loss of other key employees, as well, by making everyone a little less indispensable without robbing anyone of the awareness of their actual value to the company. People who feel valued and necessary to this degree tend to take more pride in their work, because they understand their impact and realize that people are counting on them.
Commit two things to paper: your operating procedures and your succession plan. Formalize them, because these are the pillars that will hold your company aloft should something happen to you.
Standardize each employee’s work by creating a daily, weekly, and monthly task list for each position, including explanations where explanations are necessary. Make each position in the company its own little franchise that performs its function no matter who is filling that role.
Your written succession plan should list out all of the key information that a successor would need to know immediately in order to run the company smoothly. Start with important contact information. Work your way through the accounts receivable and payable. Note the location of any key documents. Note how the successor will get at keys, passwords, and bank account numbers. Include anything and everything you think might be pertinent, and do so in an organized, concise way. Your goal is to put all the information at your successor’s fingertips, without creating a document that is overwhelming.
Other steps for leaving a legacy are important too. Of course you will want to practice basic asset protection strategies like having the proper insurance policies and watching what you own vs. what you control. Obviously, keeping your company financially solvent is basic common sense as well. Yet those items don’t get neglected nearly as often as these four essential steps, which all boil down to opening up a clear line of communication with everyone else in your venture.
Whether you are an employer or employee knowing how to present yourself and be persuasive can help you in business.
Give and You Will Receive
Remember the last time your partner offered to drive because it was their “turn?” Because you were the first to “give” by driving the first time, your partner felt obliged to help you in return. Psychologists call this the reciprocity rule. In business, do not think of who can help you, think of who you can help first. People will remember your behavior and feel that they “owe you.” In one study, psychologists told one group of waiters to leave a mint on the table, before they gave their customers the bill. Another group were told to leave nothing. Guess which group received the bigger tips?
Admit to Small Weaknesses
Studies have shown that those who admitted to small weaknesses on their application form for a job were more likely to secure an interview. This is because employers regarded these people with more credibility. They seemed more honest than the people who only described their positive attributes. When interacting with others, revealing small weaknesses about yourself at the appropriate moment can help you gain the trust of a coworker and make you seem more honest and approachable.
The Power of Touch
Showing you are not afraid to be tactile can be an effective subliminal indication of dominance. Of course, never touch inappropriately or too often. Showing that you are not afraid to invade someone's personal space is another way of subtle domination. And if people subconsciously accept you as the dominant one, they will be more susceptible to persuasion. A strong hand shake is the classic example of how confident behavior can subtly indicate power.
Believe in Yourself
Being enthusiastic and positive in a business environment will ultimately give you more opportunities for persuasion. People are generally more inclined to respond positively to a person who seems to genuinely believe what they are saying. Your belief in yourself will strengthen their belief in you. A person who responds to a question or situation enthusiastically is always more persuasive than someone who reacts with a logical or lifeless response.
People say yes more to people they like. And people like others who share similar interests and characteristics. Take time to find out more about the people you work with. Before an interview, try to discover similar traits you may share with the recruiting manager and use the information during the interview.
Focus on Loss, Not Gain
Highlighting what your potential employers would lose if they did not hire you is more persuasive than telling them what they would gain. People's psychological response to loss is greater. Draw attention to how they would lose your skills and individual talents.
Obviously, you are in a better position to persuade coworkers or employers if you are always dressed smartly and take pride in your appearance. It shows personal respect and conveys a certain intelligence. If you don't care about yourself, why would you care for anyone else?
Colors and Stature
In various studies, the color red has been shown to inspire confidence in followers. Subconsciously, it tells people you are a leader. If you need information from someone, or you are trying to calm a situation, blue is the best color to wear, as it is calming and relaxing. People also see it as a sign of power.
Research has indicated that taller people are generally more likely to be the successful candidate after a job interview. People simply assume they are more likely to have more control and be better leaders. If you are shorter than average, pin stripes on clothing can make you look taller. Or you could wear boots or insert special lifts into your shoes to appear taller.
The Power of Words
Use words that will engage people. Speak with passion and positivity and people will want to be around you. Subconsciously, your mind will then attune to the fact that you attract people, and you will consequently have more genuine power and influence. Think of how you can influence children with statements like: “I'm so impressed with how much you enjoy doing your homework.” Say this enough times and they will start to really believe it. The same applies to business. Choose your words carefully. For example, use phrases like: “Yes, you're right, but have you thought about this?” The shrewd use of language can make people believe that they are coming to their own conclusions.
Talk With Style
If you talk about depressing things, you will depress the person listening and they will associate you with miserable feelings. Smile and talk positively, even if you feel the opposite. You will inspire confidence in others and be in a stronger position to influence.
Be Different, Be Extraordinary!
Can you instantly say what your business is the best at? Why a customer should by from you? What sets you apart from your competition?
This is the first foundation you need to build before you can start working with any other marketing ideas.
Define how your business benefits your customers, put it into a short sentence and then put it at the center of every marketing idea you work with. Put it on your business cards, your emails, your website, letterhead, envelopes, invoices... everything!
Every piece of marketing material is an opportunity to tell customers and potential customers why they should do business with you.
Focus on your benefits from the eyes of your customers
Fill a gap and solve a problem
One simple sales message your customer can quickly and easily absorb.
"When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight" (FedEx)
"The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand" (M&M's - They weren't the only candy that didn't melt in your hand, but the first to market that benefit.)
"Wonder Bread Helps Build Strong Bodies 12 Ways" (Wonder Bread)
"Got Milk?" (Milk - What would life be like without it?)
"You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less -- or it's free." (Domino's Pizza)
"Get rid of dandruff"(Head & Shoulders)
"Younger-looking skin" (Olay)
"We try harder." (Avis Rent a Car)
"When it absolutely, positively has to be there." (Federal Express)
Now you have a solid unique selling position, and have a system in place to maintain customer relationships. This is the part where you start adding marketing ideas into the mix and attract new customers.
Referrals - You could build an entire marketing strategy on referrals, actually many have very successfully. Choose your referral partners carefully and send them lots of business. They will surely do the same.
Print - If nothing else get well designed postcards and business cards printed at a high quality printer. Make sure that they include your unique selling position and a special offer or call to action.
Search around the Offline Marketing Ideas and their related links for some more great offline marketing ideas.
Website - Make sure that your website states and is lined up with your unique selling proposition.
Email Newsletter - for many companies this is the number one method of generating revenue. In this day in age it's not a marketing medium that should be missed.
Search around the Internet Marketing Ideas and their related links for some more great online marketing ideas.
Make marketing something you enjoy to do. Find ways to mix it with something you do already.
Market early every day. That will get it out of the way, give it the importance it deserves, and energize you for the day!
Make the call, visit the prospect, decide to move past any fear or resistance.
Create and nurture a referral network, select who you want to network with and give lots of referrals.
Sell to Customers, Don't Lose Customers
It's both easier and cheaper to market to customers than it is to attract new customers, but that's not the only reason to pay attention to your customers.
Send a newsletter or be forgotten.
It's not that your customers are not happy with you, but just like you they are busy. If you don't remind them you exist they probably will go with whatever option is closest to them at the time.
Newsletters make sales.
I was talking to the marketing manager of a rather large company and out of all their advertising and partnerships it is their weekly newsletter that brings in the most revenue.
Use an email marketing service. The emails will look better, be CAN-SPAM law compliant and more emails will make it to their destination.
There are two ways to get customers lining up to signup for your newsletter.
Offer a newsletter that sends out coupons and special offers. (A salon offering $10 off coupons or $30 off when you bring a friend)
Offer a newsletter that educates your customer in what they are interested in. (A CPA sending tax savings tips)
You can get email addresses from a signup sheet in your store, from collecting business cards from your customers, or hand out your own business cards that direct customers to your website to signup for your newsletter.
Instead of attracting new customers it's almost always cheaper to offer new products and services to your current customer group (That is of course if you have been maintaining a good relationship with them). Your product offers one set of benefits that meet a need for your customer, what other needs are there among your customers?
Success or failure of nearly every type of web or print communication and marketing hinges on your headline. It may be the only text read and will decide if your message is worthy of the readers attention.
Your headline doesn't need to be perfect, but it needs to have a purpose.
What your headline should be: