How to Build a Remarkable Business: Looking at the “Why”

 

The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.

Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek, author of “Start With The Why” explains in his TEDx talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” that people do business with you because of your values and belief systems, rather than your Unique Selling Proposition (What is a USP?) and excellent customer service. Gaining the heart and soul of your client as well as ongoing brand loyalty goes all the way to the core of your business. Instead of just offering the services that they need (What) or even exceeding their expectations by anticipating needs (How), Simon explains that loyalty is based on the belief system of your company.

Customer loyalty goes beyond excellent customer service, a unique product or even providing the right solution; it goes  to the reason behind why your business exists and why you want to work with your clients.

The Golden Circle

  • Why – The real meaning behind why you do what you do. It’s your purpose, cause or belief and answers the questions “Why does your organization exist?”, “Why should anyone care?”, “Why do you get up in the morning?”
  • How – This is what makes you unique, your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or Proprietary System
  • What – These are the services or products you sell

Having clients who connect to your purpose and reason for business is what builds lasting relationships. People will join you and your organization because you answer their ‘pain points’ but they will stay with you because they believe in working with you and believe in your reason for business. This deeper meaning is what really stands out in the market place.

His model of What, How and Why is called the Golden Circle, and the definition below is from Simon’s website, StartWithWhy.com.

Golden Circle
The model that codifies the three distinct and interdependent elements (Why, How, What) that makes any person or organization function at its highest ability.

Based on the biology of human decision making, it demonstrates how the function of our limbic brain and the neocortex directly relate to the way in which people interact with each other and with organizations and brands in the formation of cultures and communities.

The concept is fully explained in Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why, published in 2009.

This week is a shorter blog, but I highly recommend watching this video (on 2x or 3x speed with Enounce is a great way to save time).

Tell me, What is your why?

Utilizing the Reticular Activating System in Your Marketing

Understanding the Reticular Activating System can help you get more clients – ideal clients – more easily!

What is it? And how can it do that? The reticular activating system plays a part in your  transition from sleep to wakefulness as well as your attention (essentially your mental states of sleep to wakefulness). This means that it can play a part in your ability to learn, your motivation, self-control, your ability to set goals and your inhibitions.

The reticular activating system helps control the transition from relaxed wakefulness to complete alertness and focused attention.

The Reticular Activating System in Marketing

How can you use the reticular activating system to your benefit? How does the reticular activating system play a part in your marketing strategy? This system not only helps you focus your attention by screening out background noise, you can use it to train your prospects to think of you at precisely the right moments that you want them to.

The reticular activating system sorts out the important information that you need to pay attention to versus the unimportant stuff that can be ignored.

You can program your prospective customers and ideal clients to think of you by setting in their mind the correct trigger words. No, not as a brainwashing trick – just a way to allow you to get their attention above all of the other noise going on in the world.

The best way to utilize this is by applying it to very specific phrases that will trigger them to think of you.

For example, I would say, “if you hear a business owner, CEO, VP of Marketing or VP of Business Development say, ‘I need a logo or marketing materials for my new business.’ ‘I need a website that is custom built for our needs.’ ‘My website is not getting enough traffic.’ ‘People visit my website, but no one stays or interacts on it.’ then please have them talk to Alyssa at 3-Keys.com.”

The Reticular Activating System in Every Day Life

Have you ever walked into a store and forgotten if you locked your car? Or suddenly ‘woken up’ (mentally) and realized that you can’t remember the last 5 minutes of your drive? This is an example of when the reticular activating system shuts down. Daydreaming, or thinking about something other than your current task, shuts down your reticular activating system and this keeps you from remembering.

A large part of learning is about being engaged. If your brain is not engaged, you will fall back into a daydream mode and have difficulty retaining the information. An example of this may be a lecture where the teacher is not engaging you enough and your brain switches into a relaxed mode where it is not actively looking for information. Have you ever been reading a book and thinking about something else so you’re halfway down the page but didn’t comprehend what you read? Again, your daydream mode shut off the reticular activating system.

The reticular activating system sorts out the important information that you need to pay attention to versus the unimportant stuff that can be ignored.

Engaging this part of the brain in teaching and in marketing (where you are teaching your prospects to look for you) is extremely important to helping others retain information and notice you.

Stand out in a world of too much noise and distractions by making it easy for your ideal clients to find you.

Resources

I first heard about the reticular activiating system, specifically, from Rick Silva of B2B Gathering before. I’ve heard of and considered this concept before but having a name to connect it to helped in my research of understanding the concept.

Here are some other resources I looked at to expand my understanding:

Reticular Activation System – Follow the Yellow Brick Road (how to use it in dealing with others)
What is the Reticular Activating System? (how to use it in marketing)
The Reticular Activating System – Your Automatic Goal Seeking Mechanism (how to use it in goal setting)
The Reticular Activating System (How it influences your learning ability)

Dan Kennedy – Sales Letter Copy Should Be So Compelling That Length Doesn’t Matter

The following is an article from Dan Kennedy’s blog, but it explains why sales material should never be limited to a certain length or time. Learning how to write compelling copy should be a top priority for any marketer or business owner.

Watching The Clock

By: Dan Kennedy on: June 9th, 2009
View original post on Dan Kennedy’s blog.

The ‘secret’ reason long copy usually out-sells brief copy, and lengthy sales letters out-sell short ones is simply time. The longer the prospect stays in my store…

The more time he invests in my proposition, the more likely he is to buy.

The best catalogs are designed to keep the person paging through them for the longest possible amount of time. The best stores keep customers in them for the longest period of time possible – which the FAO Schwartz store in Vegas has tackled many different ways; three floors, slow escalators with brilliantly conceived signage that sells, the opportunity to buy 30-minute use cards to play all the games on the 3rd floor, the environment itself, a maze of specialty stores within the stores, salespeople who engage you (not clerks), even a soda fountain and sandwich/snack counter, so you need not leave for food. The best sales letters keep the reader reading for as long as possible. It’s why we use multi-media: letter, CD or DVD — it expands the amount of time the prospect invests with us. The best web sites are designed to involve the visitor and keep him there.

I’m amused when clients fall into the grip of competent technicians who are marketing nincompoops. The fools tell the clients that their sales videos should be no more than seven minutes long, audio CDs ten minutes at most. In one of my business fields, professional speakers are even fed this nonsense: keep your demo reel short. All the opposite of the ideal:

find ways to create so much interest

the person will stay with you, keep listening,

keep watching, keep reading.

The more time invested, more likely to buy.

In good old fashioned nose to nose, toes to toes, mug to mug selling, first in peoples’ living rooms, then B2B, in offices, I quickly learned what many such sales warriors know: likelihood of closing goes up in 15-20 minute increments. If I’m there for 2 hours, I’m not twice as likely to close as if there for only 1 hour, I’m three to four times more likely to close. That’s why the in-home guy selling pots ‘n pans or encyclopedias, etc. unpacks and has stuff strewn all over the place; it expands the time he’s there.

Of course, you can overstay welcome, unsell the made sale. In each selling situation — on stage, face to face, in a tele-seminar, in print, online, etc. — there is a specific “sweet spot” where sales peak; stop short or go long, suffer. For my basic

Magnetic Marketing’ speech, it was 90 minutes. I could get good results in as little as 70, up to 120. Less than 70 or more than 120, the sales drop off dramatically. But for the most part, most people stop way, way short of the point where maximum sales occur.

There is link between time invested and likelihood of buying.

The highest earning auto salesman I’ve ever known always took prospects to his office first, for conversation; then out to look at cars; then to test drive; then back to the office. Why not right out to look at cars? 15 more minutes. That’s why.

But what about…

Today’s shorter attention spans.

Age differences – younger buyers, shorter attention spans

My customer’s different… ..he’s very busy, won’t read a book…

Blah, blah, blah.

Look, all these things are real. Yes, today, everybody’s busier, there are fewer readers and fewer people reading as a matter of course, younger buyers do have shorter attention spans. But the correct answer is not to sacrifice what’s effective, not to merely surrender. The answer is to be more interesting and compelling.

A few years ago, ABC-TV was in the dumper. Fourth of the four networks, no hits. And series TV had given way to modular TV. Shows like CSI, CSI Miami, CSI New York, CSI Poughkeepsie, LAW & ORDER, LAW & ORDER SVU, LAW & ORDER CI, LAW & ORDER PMS, etc. are all designed so you do NOT need to follow them week after week. The story line begins and ends in each show. Each episode is self-contained and free-standing. And because of their success (as well as, admittedly, higher syndication longevity and value), the prevailing viewpoint in network television was that episodic, serial shows were dead. ABC, desperate for a breakthrough, went contrarian – and hits have emerged that are, in fact, serial: Desperate Housewives and Boston Legal, Sunday night winners.

My point is simply this: it’s less about modular or serial, as it is about interesting and compelling. And purely in terms of sales effectiveness, who’s evidencing greater power? — the writers, actors, etc. behind a show so fascinating viewers calendar it and make a point of being home to watch each episode, or those whose viewers feel comfortable with missing an episode?

Sometimes we are legitimately constrained by weight for a direct-mail piece, or space in print advertising, the 28 minute limit for the infomercial. But more often, marketers unnecessarily imprison themselves, with self-imposed time limits far short of their real time limits for their sales presentation and the prospect’s buying experience.

Sometimes we are legitimately constrained by very practical operational considerations. In my old seminar business, selling to chiropractors, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists and veterinarians, we found the 3 hour evening seminar far easier to get attendance for than the full day, and it allowed the speaker to travel each A.M., work every P.M., thus fitting five seminars and five cities into five days (vs. three in five if full days). So, essentially, operational considerations exerted control over sales considerations. But more often, operations controls sales when it shouldn’t. The first, best way of thinking is to determine what situation will optimize sales, then try and figure out how to create that situation. More often, marketers decide on the situation that suits them or their employees or fits some industry norm, then try to create sales within its parameters.

A mistake made at Caesars Palace: they built a gigantic, new 4,000 seat showroom for Celine Dion. Next to it, is a giant Celine Dion store of souvenirs, music, clothing, etc. But the people exit the showroom down steps next to the store. They should be forced to exit through the store. (Disney rides, like Tower Of Terror at Disney/MGM exit through the souvenir store.) This is minutes in a store, and minutes translate to money.

You have to look carefully at how you manage your prospects’ or customers’ time. There is a three way linkage:

Interest+Involvement+Time

Classic involvement devices in direct-mail include the “affix these stamps to the card” Publishers Clearinghouse kind of mailing pieces. Opening sealed envelopes. Taking quizzes and tests. Even a trick used by Sugarman (and others): find the misspelled words, get the right count, win a prize. Some of these classics can move online or into other environments; some can’t. In retail, such things as trying on clothes or test driving a car. Maytag is testing stores where you bring in laundry and do it there, or cook in the in-store kitchen. The retail chain (also with a store in the Forum Shops) that gets this done through demonstration is Houdini’s Magic Shop. On my team, EVERYBODY made a purchase there – and they held us for about 30 minutes. Including the red room/blue room gambit: buy now, we’ll take you behind the curtain, in the back room and teach you to do the trick.

In-home party plan selling is making a huge comeback. Here’s why I’ve always liked it: every single person who takes the time to go to an in-home party, goes intending to buy something and does buy something; coming home empty-handed would seem like a waste of time! But instead of a quick walk-through of a store, the person is kept for two hours. Most buy multiples, spend more than they intended – because of the two hours. And the involvement: interaction with the salesperson and other customers, demonstration, looking through catalogs together – involvement. For the party plan business, INVOLVEMENT + TIME equals sales.

So, things to think about –

How can you get your prospect more invested in getting ready to buy from you and in selling himself, so the sale is more automatic, the customer will buy more, will pay more?

How can you get your prospect to invest more time reading, listening, watching, visiting?

How can you actively involve your prospect?

How can you create a buying experience?

About The Author: Dan Kennedy
Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the ‘Millionaire Maker,’ helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan’s “No B.S.” approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to www.DanKennedy.com

Using The Marketing Pie to Grow Your Business

This is the second part of a two-part series on The Marketing Pie, which looks at all the different elements of marketing and breaks them down into sections that can be approached a few at a time. Read part one of Looking At The Marketing Pie.

The Marketing Pie: Speaking, Online Marketing, Teleclasses & Workshops, Article Writing
The Marketing Pie - Pt 2: Speaking, Online Marketing, Teleclasses & Workshops, Article Writing

Speaking

Speaking is one of the best ways to reach a large group of ideal prospects at one. Unlike a webinar, email or personalized video, you are live and in front of your prospects and are able to direct all of your personal energy and effort at them.

In order to maximize your speaking engagement, you need to seek out your target market and discover when they hang out in crowds.

  • Is there an industry or association conference or seminar they are at? Try to arrange a speaking gig on a topic that will be of interest to them.
  • Are your power partners running an event for your ideal target market? Find a way to connect and team up with them.
  • Is there a strong need for your topic or service? Start running your own teaching events, no matter how small they start out.

Speak at networking groups, toastmasters, Chamber of Commerce events, associations, industry conventions and seminars. You want to be seen everywhere so that in the end your ideal clients come to you because you are everywhere they turn.

One thing to remember, you must provide valuable content and minimize your sales pitch, but make sure you do have a compelling or irresistible offer to galvanize them at the end of your speech.

Online Marketing

One of my favorite methods of marketing is online marketing – making your website work for you. Nothing is better than getting a lead through your website because you built it correctly months ago.

Online marketing involves getting traffic to your website, turning that traffic into leads, nurturing those leads and then turning those leads into customers. It doesn’t stop there; once you have customers, ask for reviews from them to help you get more customers (all online). Some of these items run into other areas of marketing and that is the beauty of it, everything ties in together.

One of the first things you need to do is get traffic to your website. This happens through organic (on-page) SEO and paid or off-page SEO.  Organic SEO involves optimizing the content and keywords on your page for the items your ideal clients are searching for in order to show up in the first page of Google search results. This includes items such as Title and META tags.

Content is king and this means not only having the correct, relevant content, but also fresh, new and constantly changing content. New content can come in the form of a blog on your website where you create entries based on the information your customers are searching for or new pages and images as well.

Off-page SEO includes link building, which is leveraging other websites to show that your website is of value and interest to others. When other pages link to your website correctly and are about similar topics, it tells Google that your page is of interest and relevant to others as well and helps you rank higher.

Search Engine Marketing includes items such as Pay Per Click ads where space can be bought at the top of Google searches, on other websites, and valuable real estate space such as the side of Facebook. Organic SEO can take a while to build up and produce results while paid search results kick into place instantly.

Once users are on your site, you then need to convert the traffic into leads. Read more about Irresistible Offers.

Examples of Online Marketing

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Blogging
  • Local Search
  • Online reviews
  • Pay Per Click (PPC)
  •  Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Teleclasses & Workshops

Teleclasses and workshops are similar to speaking in that you reach a larger audience at once, but they go into greater detail. At these events, you offer training and an introductory taste to your services so that your ideal clients can gain a better understanding of your value and want to learn more from you or want to receive more help.

Articles

Articles are about creating fresh and new content, both on and off your website. On-site content includes blogs while off-site content can be e-zines or articles that you write and then link to your own website (link building).

By answering commonly asked questions or providing valuable information, you are also building up your reputation as an expert in your field. These articles can appear on websites that are more frequently scanned by Google and receive more traffic than yours and allow you to gain access to new potential clients.

Do you have an example of how you have been able to tie together several of these elements? Leave a comment and let me know!

Looking at The Marketing Pie

 

Marketing is an essential part of any business (and some say marketing should be the main focus of the business owner) but there are many different pieces to it to consider as well. Play to your strengths or to the ones that will produce you the most results.

One way to look at marketing is as a pie of different slices of activities. It’s impossible to do every part of the pie at once, but if you take on tasks for one or two pieces at a time and slowly build up to the others, you will build yourself a successful marketing system.

The Marketing Pie - Free Offers, Networking, Unpaid Sales Force, Staying in Touch
Part 1 of The Marketing Pie - Free Offers, Networking, Unpaid Sales Force, Staying in Touch

The different elements of the marketing pie include:

Irresistible Free Offers

These offers are both compelling and relevant to your target market; their purpose is to help you build your list so that you can further market to them slowly over time.

Not everyone who visits your site or talks to you is ready to purchase immediately, but by slowly drip feeding information to them you can build your relationship with them, create a reputation as an expert or up sell them on other offer. Free offers can also be used as Call to Actions or Opt-In Forms. A Call to Action offers defined instruction of how the visitor should interact with your website. Common phrases are: “Click Here”, “Download Now”, Register Today”. Each phrase should create a sense of urgency and specific action that the user should take. Every page on your website should have a Call to Action.

Irresistible free offers are a way to build your expert reputation, offer value and collect contact details to build a list for future marketing and sales efforts. The ultimate goal is to build your List.

Items that can be used as a free offer are

  • Free Report
  • White paper
  • CD
  • Checklist
  • E-course
  • Webinar
  • Guidelines
  • Case Study

Networking

Networking is about making connections and building relationships.

You should never go to a networking event with the intention of selling your services, instead, focus on learning how you can help others. One popular phrase is “How can I help you move your business forward.” Networking is just the beginning of building a relationship and should be seen as a long-term activity. People do business with people they know, like and trust.

After a networking event, you should follow up with a call or email to connect and schedule an individual coffee meeting (or one-on-one)

Some styles of networking recommend meeting as many people as possible in a room in order to connect those who are looking for each other and be seen in a favorable light. Rather than spending the networking meeting socializing, they recommend that you save the getting to know someone for later and just meet as many people as possible. You then follow up with a one-on-one to learn more about that person in order to connect them with others who need their services or with those they are looking for.

Some examples of networking groups

  • Networking Groups: BNI, B2B Groups
  • Business Associations
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Industry Associations

Unpaid Sales Force

Every business should have an unpaid sales force in place (no, not slave labor). Unpaid sales people are power partners, clients, networking partners and others in your social circle that send referrals and new clients your way.

Power partners are people who work with your target market but offer different services. You become the perfect partner to refer business to each other and to bring the other business in on your projects. It is a symbiotic relationship.

Clients who are very happy to work with you and love your services can be leveraged as well. Happy clients are willing to give rave (glowing) reviews of your services. Make sure to collect these testimonials and utilize them in your marketing material, on your website and on different online review sites – Yelp, Google+ Local, etc.

A person of influence or center of influence is someone who has a large network of potential clients that you want to reach. He or she may be an expert in your field, someone who is well respected in your local community, or just have a large list of ideal client. You can work with them in an affiliate relationship where the center of influence promotes your products or services to their list, or on a more personal basis by teaming up with them. A person of influence will help spread your reach to his or her own circles as well.

Social Media / Stay-In-Touch Marketing

Stay in touch marketing comes into effect once you have already connected with a potential client. As I mentioned with the irresistible offer, you want to continue to build your reputation with your leads by offering valuable advice, tips and updates and encourage them to take action by offering special deals. Social media is also a type of Stay-In-Touch marketing because you are sending out constant streams of updates and interacting with your audience through different formats.

Examples of Stay-In-Touch Marketing

  • E-newsletters
  • Blogging
  • Social Media
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Yelp
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

This is part one of a two part blog on The Marketing Pie. Watch next week for part 2, covering:

  • Speaking
  • Online Marketing
  • Teleclasses & Workshop
  • Articles

Not sure what marketing is? Learn more about The Difference Between Sales and Marketing.

What is your favorite part of the marketing pie? Do you think this is a good analogy?

The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

 

While sales and marketing are both essential for business growth and work towards a similar goal of bringing in new customers, they are very separate areas of business that can commonly be confused. As, I prepare to hire a sales person while still running the marketing strategy of the company myself, I am now working to define the exact difference between sales and marketing.

The marketing process is broad and includes all of the following:

  • Discovering what product, service or idea customers want.
  • Producing a product with the appropriate features and quality.
  • Pricing the product correctly.
  • Promoting the product; spreading the word about why customers should buy it.
  • Selling and delivering the product into the hands of the customer.

Selling is one activity of the entire marketing process.

The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

I discussed marketing several times in my previous blog, What is Marketing? Why is it Important? Marketing and sales work together to close a sale through multiple contact points and interactions.

Marketing is the message you send to persuade your target audience that you offer the solution they need to solve their pain. It prepares your prospect for a sale, raises their awareness of your product or service and compels them to take action to connect with your company. Marketing activities supports sales efforts and include advertising, networking, branding, direct mail, online marketing and more. Marketing usually occurs before the sales process and can even continue afterwards, to encourage future sales and referrals.

Sales is the personal interaction between people in the form of cold calls, meetings, and even networking (selling at a networking event is not appreciated…). Ideally your marketing strategy is delivering a constant stream of warm leads for your sales people to follow up with. Sales is the act of persuading a customer to buy and closing the sale through these personal interactions.

Below is a guest article by Chip Doyle on the differences characterized by sales and marketing.

Sales vs. Marketing — Marketing Always Changes

Guest blog, written by Chip Doyle

[Chip is with Sandler Training and teaches people how to sell without sounding like a salesperson.]

In 2005, I wrote an article outlining the differences between marketing and selling. Many of my clients were making the mistake of doing marketing after the conversation with a prospect had started. Salespeople were missing out on valuable opportunities to sell in a consultative way and even overwhelming the prospect with irrelevant information. One of the key differentiators in that article defined marketing as one-way communication designed to foster interest in a product or service. Conversely, selling was defined as a 2-way communication designed to allow the prospect to do 70% of the talking.

Seven years of technology has changed that. Marketing is no longer a one way communication. And done properly, tech savvy marketing can even get customers and prospects to do most of the talking.

“Marketing always changes but selling stays the same.”

Selling is primarily about real time conversations between two or more people. As long as you are selling to homo-sapiens, the fundamental motivations to buy and the skills to obtain purchase commitments will remain the same. People may go about selecting a consultant, a cloud based storage system or a box of cereal in a different set of steps, but people buy emotionally and justify their decisions intellectually.

Marketing always changes. Most marketing techniques exploit human psychology but their delivery is a function of the available technology. Barnum and Bailey established trend-setting practices like sending promoters by train, in advance to future circus sites to pass out flyers, set up billboards and even foster rumors of the incredible shows that were coming to town. Radio and television dramatically influenced the delivery and content of marketing. Do you remember when fax machines were used as a means of connecting with prospects? You may receive unwanted texts on your cell phones now. Websites and social media are overtaking previously successful methods like phone books and even newspapers.

As the technology advances, we now have a unique opportunity to change the previous assumptions about marketing. Whereas 2 way communications were only possible in sales, 2 way communications are now possible in marketing.

Good salespeople speak only about 30% of the time in a sales situation. The customer speaks the remaining 70%. I’m no soothsayer, but could the future of marketing lead to communication where the customer does most of the talking? Google reviews, Yelp, YouTube and Facebook are examples of where the customer does the talking. How often do you read the reviews of a product or service before deciding to buy?  Companies now actively solicit your reviews of your purchases to post with their product offerings. Advertisements are now even directed towards us based on the questions we ask (aka search history).

The web has dramatically evolved and influenced how marketing is done. Originally the internet was a repository of information and reference. 99% of internet users were readers, not contributors. (I remember explaining to new entrepreneurs that they needed to invest in a website for their company even if the return on investment was not imminently clear. 7 years later I have to convince young entrepreneurs that they shouldn’t do ALL of their marketing and sales solely through the web.)  But 2 way communications changed rapidly on the web. Small businesses and even individuals started to create their own web pages. Portal and social sites were created to elicit feedback and content from people that didn’t even have websites. (I know this sounds boring but it was considered a breakthrough at the time.) Wikipedia built an entire site based on contributions from readers/users. Instant messaging alerted others of “my status” and soon social media websites like Facebook became popular because even grandmothers want to see their grand-daughter’s status. And now we base our buying decisions on reviews posted on Yelp or Amazon as the division between “readers” and “contributors” quickly blurs. Readers are now the contributors and the 2 way communication is at an all-time high when it comes to marketing products or services.

Prospects don’t believe salespeople or marketing people.

Any sales expert will tell you that prospects must talk themselves into the purchase. All the salesperson can do is direct the conversation with questions that cause the prospect to recognize their own need and the urgency to address it. None of us trust salespeople and the more they tell us what to do, the greater our resolve to do the opposite. OK, maybe you trust a couple of salespeople but they’ve done something to earn that trust and odds are they are not the pushy type that spend lots of time presenting slide decks or telling you the price goes up on Friday. People don’t trust marketing messages either. Marketing execs can say it runs faster or protects more but when Josephine Public says she tried both systems but XYZ does indeed run faster and the competitor’s system didn’t protect her system, that is marketing gold. And technology now provides the opportunity for companies to capture marketing gold automatically.

I’m old enough to remember the essay contests that breakfast cereal companies would run. They would award a free trip to Hawaii for the whole family to the person who wrote the best description of why they love their cereal. Marketing execs knew it would motivate thousands of people to spend hours writing intimate details about why they loved their cereal. Those marketing execs also knew that each person that devoted hours to this task, reiterating to themselves that XYZ cereal was the most wholesome breakfast was highly unlikely to go to the grocery store and suddenly try the competitive brand. Psychologists call it Congruent Behavior. But you don’t need a PhD to understand that anyone who writes passionately about their purchasing behavior is more likely to follow through in a similar fashion later. And now marketers have the opportunity to exploit Congruent Behavior in an automated 24/7 fashion.

Marketing will continue to evolve and change as technology enables new strategies and capabilities. I expect to see an enormous transformation of marketing over the next 7 years away from company messaging and one-way communication to interactive media and a “conversations” between customers and prospective buyers. Salespeople will always be necessary with complex, expensive purchases, anything requiring customization, special services or “high impact” purchases. (Do you remember when you bought a cell phone in 1989? That was an expensive sale that required consultative salespeople…) But as always, superior marketing will greatly assist the sales efforts of every company’s sales efforts no matter what they sell. What do you think? Questions to ponder and comment:

  • What is the next trend in 2 way interactive marketing?
  • How will 2 way interactive marketing affect salespeople?
  • Will marketing ever completely eliminate the salesperson?
  • What are the new social media trends and who are the companies best exploiting those trends?

Using Referrals to Grow Your Business

Understanding A Referral System

Referrers to your company are often called your unpaid sales force; they work to promote your business because they love what you do and value your services – all without expecting any sort of compensation. Any business should be working to maximize the leverage they receive through their referral network.

Your referral network can include clients, power partners, networking group members, friends, family, neighbors, associates, past co-workers, essentially anyone who knows you and recommends your services or products to others.

The providing of a referral can be done directly, in a conversation, an email, a passing of your business card, or it can be offered indirectly through public review sites such as Yelp, Google+ Local, Angie’s List and more.

Referrals are essential to every business because they help build up your reputation before the prospect has even met you. A referral is also called a warm lead, because they are a potential customer who has shown interest in your products or services, but has also already received a positive review that has given your business credibility or at least a headstart against the competition.

This leads into another topic that I will have to discuss later…how do you ensure that you get referrals? Delivering outstanding customer service, under-promising and over-delivering, are just a few ways to ensure that you have raving (happy) fans and a strong customer support base.

Referral Marketing Handout

Below are some examples of free and inexpensive advertising methods, created by Elizabeth Rupp, of Office Spots.

Free Advertising Methods:

  • Posting on www.craigslist.org
  • Facebook Fan Page
  • LinkedIn
  • Cold Calls
  • Cold Emails
  • Newsletters

Inexpensive Advertising Methods:

  • Networking (Chambers, Ind Groups)
  • Tradeshow Booths
  • Promotional Items (ie Pens, Mugs, etc)

Definition of ‘Referral’

A person or business steered to a business by an existing customer. For example, a person who needs repair work on a vehicle is referred to a particular mechanic by a satisfied customer of the mechanic.

http://business.yourdictionary.com/referral

Definition of ‘Sales Lead’

A prospective consumer of a product or service that is created when an individual or business shows interest and provides his or her contact information. Businesses gain access to sales leads through advertising, trade shows, direct mailings and other marketing efforts. They can also purchase sales leads from third-party companies. A sales lead is not a sales prospect, meaning that further qualification of the lead is necessary to determine intent and interest.

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sales-lead.asp

Definition of ‘Power Partner’

Power Partners are people who can easily refer to you because:

  • They believe in you and your product or service
  • They have a ready made referral (customer) pool to refer from
  • They are willing to share their power partners with you
  • They have a desire to be of service
  • They also want to receive referrals
  • They understand the power of networking
  • They understand the value of word of mouth advertising
  • They are willing to make a personal and business commitment to you.

http://www.bhsmilehi.org/media/Power_Partner_Definition.pdf

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Up until now I’ve received almost all of my clients and business through referrals. How do you receive your business – do you advertise or is it all word of mouth? Do you ask for referrals? Do you tell other people what an ideal referral for you would be?

Marketing For Referrals and How To Get More Clients Easily

I just came from a lunch networking meeting with other local businesswomen and the question we discussed was:

How do you market to get referrals? What strategies do you use and what works?

There are a wide variety of businesses and industries in our networking gourp but there were several overall themes that came out of it:

  • Contact and connection – out of sight is out of mind, be active in the community
  • Fantastic service – provide outstanding service and stand behind what you do
  • Ask – people don’t think of it on their own, so be sure to ask for referrals

My response to this was, use metrics and to make sure you have regular contact explaining what you do – in depth.

Use Metrics

As with marketing or anything else you do, you can’t track something if you aren’t paying attention to it. (Off topic: a lot of motivational speakers say that what you focus your time on is what you receive, so focus on the positive. Focus on referrals and you will start to receive more referrals, focus on tracking your income and your income will increase, etc). I found a wonderful free mind mapping website called Mind Meister that lets you create mind maps that are easy and fun. The problem with paper mind maps is that you run out of space, but this program adjusts and makes more room!

This is several months out of date, the Networking and Website sections have greatly expanded.

When I created my mind map, I made a list of all my clients and then worked backwards as to how I had first become in contact with them. I also wrote down all the networking groups I went to regularly and made a list of those who had inquired as well as those who became customers. What I created was a clear visualization of where my clients were coming from…my customers, friends and family.

This showed me that not only do my services speak for themselves, my clients are confident recommending me to others. It also shows that it is about the relationships and whom you know that counts. Networking is about meeting others and learning to know, like and trust each other but at the same time I have trouble explaining what I do to a large crowd or an individual in 30 seconds – 2 minutes. It is the long-term relationships I build that really count, and are what matter to me!

Regular and Meaningful Contact

For some, this is going to the same networking events over a long period of time, seeing the same people, participating in events in the same community. One way that I use this is to develop a monthly newsletter where I send out a brief personal company update of what we are doing and also include an article that relates to my business’ area of expertise: marketing, design, web and print. We offer complete range of services, but breaking it down into smaller pieces helps people understand it better.

Each month I choose a topic that I feel may be of interest to my customers, friends, networking groups, etc and discuss it. Not only does this hopefully answer some questions that may be confusing others, it helps clarify some of the problems I can solve and some of the services I offer.

In this newsletter, I also include a thank you section for anyone who has sent me referrals and link to their website as well.  This ties into the idea, make others aware that you would like referrals to help build your business.

How To Market To Referrals

Here are a few other notes that came out of our meeting:

  • Relationship building – For some it’s networking events and face to face contact, for others it’s constant contact through email and social media
  • Referral based – Many businesses are referral based through clients, make sure to show that you appreciate them through hand written and thought out ‘thank you’ notes.
  • Testimonials and reviews are great as a validation source, but it is the referrals and face to face contact that really make a difference
  • Networking is very important, as the saying goes “out of sight, out of mind”.
  • Maximize Networking – To maximize a networking event, go into it with a plan in mind, a focus or goal as to what you want to achieve rather than to just socialize. Make others aware of what you are looking for by being very specific in the clients or projects you need.
  • Be available – invite people to your space.
  • Repetition Become a household name; be visible and reputable and active in the community.
  • Just ask for referrals “I’m building my business, do you have anyone who could use my services, do you have any one you could refer to me?”
  • Like attracts like If you have good clients, ask them for referrals as their friends and connections are probably like them – ‘birds of a feather flock together’
  • Power Partners Strengthen connections with people you often work with who target the same clients, you may work together on projects and they will otherwise see your work and refer you to mutual clients.
  • Trust It all boils down to trust. A referral reflects on the person who makes the connection so they want to know that they can trust you to deliver and follow through.
  • Online company videos A video will help introduce your company and services in just a few minutes. Referrals feel like they already know you and understand what you do.
  • Thank You Write a thank you and ask for a referral on each invoice. Let clients know how much you appreciate them as well.

One particular example, a travel agent writes thank you notes to her clients so that upon their return, they straight away see a handwritten note from her showing her appreciation of their trust to plan their ideal vacation. It is a nice little ‘welcome home’ card as well.

Marketing can seem scary and intimidating when you look at a list of names or unfamiliar faces but you can also start close to home and look at ways of marketing to your referral sources and those who will help you generate warm leads.

Diagnose a Problem BEFORE Prescribing a Solution

The best part about being knowledgable in my field is that I can guide my clients towards the solutions that work best to get them the results they want. Often people think they want one thing but in reality they need something completely different.

I’m a perfect example of this and it really raised my awareness of the fact that I take my experience and use it to guide my clients to the solutions that will actually solve their problem.

Several months ago I went to a service provider to get a solution to my problem. We spent several months going back and forth on the best options for me and other alternatives plans that would work as well. I was supposed to fill out the paper work the other day, when I realized that this may not be the right solution for me. While my service provider provided my the solution I asked for, I did not have the knowledge to ask for the right thing! It turns out that one of my alternative options that I considered a worst case scenario may actually be the plan that I should have pursued in the first place.

This service provider (two of them actually, as I was trying to get an idea of prices in the market) is an expert in his/her field and should have asked the right questions to diagnose and steer me in the right direction. Always diagnose the problem before prescribing a solution. People don’t always understand what they need, especially when it is an unknown field. It’s your job to be the expert.

In the reverse case, just a few days ago, I had a prospective client come in for a consultation and asked for specific solutions to the problem. Straight away, I could see that what he was asking for would not solve his actual pain or problem. I started asking deeper questions to understand his motives for the project and the reason why he was asking for a particular solution. At the moment I am working on providing a quote that will explain to him my understanding of his problem and the real solution that he needs. As well as a quote for his requested project and reasons why it will not fulfill his needs.

As the expert, I have a better understanding of what will or will not work. Or what is or is not even possible… (websites take a lot more work than many people realize, especially custom solutions).

Google Places to be Replaced By Google+ Local

Yesterday Google announced that they are replacing Google Places with their Google Plus Local feature. (Another move to encourage everyone to get on their Google+ platform.)

Social reviews are the way of the world these days, but due to anti-trust lawsuits, Google had to remove it’s scraping of reviews from Yelp and other review sites. Well they recently purchased Zagat, a (previously) paid review site.

Zagat has offered high-quality reviews, based on user-written submissions and surveys, of tens of thousands of places for more than three decades. All of Zagat’s accurate scores and summaries are now highlighted on local Google+ pages.

What does this mean for businesses? Ensure you have a page set up on to Google+ now. Your local search results need to be found online and will then link into your Google+ account, where your visitors can learn more about you.

Continue to manage through Google Places for Business
If you are a business owner, you should continue to manage your information in Google Places for Business. You’ll still be able to verify your basic listing data, make updates, and respond to reviews. For those who use AdWords Express, your ads will operate as normal as they’ll automatically redirect people to the destination you selected, or your current listing. From Google’s Business Tips page.

From a personal perspective, I can’t be bothered making the move to Google+ when all my friends and contacts are on Facebook. Facebook is enough of a time suck without having to post everything in two places and have two sets of updates to read.

However, from a marketing and business perspective, Google is the giant in the search world and they are making massive pushes to integrate social media into their search engine. By social media, I mean Google+ (why would they help a competitor), in their goal to conquer the world. What this means for businesses is that you do need to get on Google+ and start promoting your page and places because although people may not be using it personally, your results will start turning up in their Google searches. If you’re there, then the traffic will flow and they will start to find more reasons to use Google+ as well.

Who knows, maybe one day I will update my personal Google+ account! (My problem is that I have 5+ gmail accounts that I use for business, personal and clients and am never on the right account to go to my Google+ page…).

Read more about the removal of Google Places from the Google Blog.

Or from CNN, Goodbye Google Places…