What is Your Customer Hiding From You?


In order to sell any kind of product or service, you first need to know the challenges your prospects face, so you can offer the best solution. On the surface, this seems like an easy problem to resolve. You send out a few surveys and questionnaires. You dig and do your research. You think you’ve found the answers. Yet when you build your pitch or presentation around what you think your prospect wants and needs, it falls flat.

Why? Because the prospect is hiding the truth from you.

It’s not done with malicious intent. They’re not even necessarily lying. They simply want to be liked and don’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you things they think you wouldn’t like to hear. Also some prospects don’t really know what they want. Emailed and online surveys aren’t the best at this type of information gathering.

That’s the reason most surveys don’t reveal many helpful answers. The problem isn’t with the surveys themselves, but with the questions and how they’re presented. Most survey questions don’t get to the heart of the matter in order to pull out the answers you’re looking for.

What can you do about this? Pick up the phone!

The best way to get the answers you’re looking for is to call your prospects and engage them in a conversation. But before you do that (and if you don’t want the phone slammed in your ear), do your homework first.

The responses will only be as good as your questions. Your questions need to be open-ended. You must be able to tap into the emotional and/or logical reasons why a prospect would (or wouldn’t) buy your product or service. The more you’re able to get them to open up and give you honest answers, the closer you’ll get to the heart of what you’re looking for. Keep good notes on the data you gather, and review it so you can make the next call even better at intelligence gathering.

Start your call with a very brief description of why you’re calling, then quickly turn your attention to the prospect. Let them know you’re not trying to sell them anything (so it brings down the wall and barriers they automatically put up). State that you respect and value their opinion, which is why you chose them to call. Make them feel respected and special before you dive into your questions.

Once you have your answers, take the time to carefully review all the information. Look for common themes or threads in the answers. If you don’t find any, go back to your questions and reword them to get better answers. Yes, this takes real work. But the end result will be well worth your time. After you analyze the information, it will make your job of creating an irresistible offer that your prospects can’t refuse much easier.

Help Sales Soar with Flyers

Flyers are a very flexible, cost-effective, and efficient way to spread the word about your company, promote or introduce your products, announce special price promotions and events, or simply educate your audience. Here are a few ways to increase sales by maximizing the use of marketing flyers:

    • Add a flyer to every mailing that leaves your office. Include them with bills, statements, information requests, and marketing campaigns.
    • Fold your flyer, affix a label or seal, and send it as a self-mailer to your marketing database. (We can also do the mailing for you!)  AND take advantage of the new postal service called Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) the postage is around .145 cents each, give us a call and we can tell you more  about it. For non-profits, the price can be as low as .07 cents each!!
    • Hand flyers out at trade shows, promotional events, and other industry-related affairs, not only at your booth, but also while walking around and visiting.
    • Post a flyer on community bulletin boards, such as those found at laundromats, gyms, apartment complexes, senior centers, public libraries, local schools or college campuses, grocery stores, and the like.
    • Check with local newspapers or magazines to learn their policy and costs for including flyers as a marketing insert.
    • Ask other local businesses such as cafes, auto body shops, salons, clinics, and bookstores if you can leave some flyers in their waiting/reading area.
    • Consider hiring high school students to pass them out door to door or to local businesses.

If you’d like help creating eye-catching flyers that get noticed and produce results, drop us a line.


Is Direct Mail Really Dead?

You may have heard the hype that direct mail has died and gone to junk mail heaven. Don’t believe it. That talk comes from people who have never learned how to use direct mail correctly and effectively or who have a vested interest in spreading false and misleading information.

Why use direct mail? Because it works.

    • It works in getting clients.
    • It works to get your foot in the door.
    • It works for lead generation.
    • It works for growing traffic at brick-and-mortar (and even online) businesses.
    • It works at differentiating your company from those who rely strictly on online communication.

Direct mail marketing is extremely reliable and extremely precise. It can be inexpensive and personalized. In fact, direct mail arrives more personally than any other medium and can deliver a message with 100% exposure.

In addition to all of this, direct mail…

    • Requires virtually no tech skills
    • Can be leveraged using shared advertising space
    • Is what nearly all recipients prefer for unsolicited advertisement
    • Can bring in business without someone actively searching for it
    • Can be scaled infinitely
    • Has worked for over a century without fail
    • Has always been the king of all advertising
    • Can take almost any business to any level of success desired
    • Can be felt and not just seen
    • Has an infinite shelf life

To be clear, “junk mail” is NOT what we are referring to as effective direct mail. Some companies with large marketing budgets can afford this type of “spray and pray” mailing.

Effective direct mail marketing takes some thought, planning, and strategy. It needs to be memorable, and it needs to stand out. Businesses of all size that are utilizing this powerful tool are still reaping the rewards.

No, direct mail isn’t dead. It’s alive and kicking. If you haven’t tried it in a while, try it again. You won’t be disappointed by the results.

Be a Drama Queen!

Yes, being a drama queen is typically a negative. But there is one instance where it is actually a big positive.

Imagine you are in a stadium filled with your most ideal prospects. You have one chance to present and pitch your product or service. Say the right thing, and every one of them will become a client. Say the wrong thing, and you’ll lose them all. That’s the potential power of communication.

There are many ways to get your message across. You can bore them to death, or you can entertain them. The chances that a prospect will stick around and listen are much better if you do the latter.

People are drawn to those who can share, teach, and even sell something useful. They are most attracted to the ones who can entertain them while presenting.

Like it or not, we live in a society that needs and wants to be entertained. If you want to stand out and succeed, you have to be able to give them what they want.

This is where injecting drama into your sales copy, blogs, direct mail, social media presence, and sales presentations has a powerful and magnetic effect. The best drama has some action and intrigue to draw the audience in. The same is true in business communication. If you take the time to package your thoughts and ideas in an entertaining way, you will be better received. Your audience will want more. The cycle of attraction, conversion, and consumption will begin. And it will continue as long as you are able to inject enthusiasm and some drama into your messages.


Business in the Modern World: Necessity of Websites

Having a website is a pre-requisite to having a successful business in today’s interconnected era. People look for services online today more than any other service, but as of 2009, 46% of small to medium enterprises in the US still don’t have a website. But more importantly to the business owner, they’re losing out on business. As of March of this year (2012), businesses with a website have on average higher revenue, more sales, and better expectations of financial stability in both their business and the greater economy.

If you don’t have a website, you’re losing out on customers to competition who do, no matter if you’re large or small. Even if someone likes your business, they will look for you online. If they can’t find you, they’re going to be finding someone else to do the job because they’re what’s showing up when they’re searching for your services.

It even saves you money in the long run, as investing in a website will allow you to lower costs in other advertising mediums since older advertising mediums are accounting for less and less exposure. The yellow pages are dying. Fewer and fewer people use them each year, yet it costs a lot to get yourself in there. So you know you need a website.

That said, it’s not enough that you get a website up and running. If your website isn’t well designed, the site may have an opposite effect on your business. If you’re going to have a website, you’ll need to do it right. Your site is the main avenue of communication about your business. You don’t want your site to communicate that your budget is on a shoestring, so you let your nephew build it for you. You want it clean and professionally done to communicate that you’re serious about your business, and creating a clean website to communicate to your customers is a top priority.

On top of all this, there are an enormity of benefits to having one. For example, the website works for you 24/7. When your business closes, your website acts as an employee that works the night shift. People used to have to call during business hours if they have a question, but now they just check online for the information they need. You’re actually adding more work for your employees by not adding this information in a clean and easy to find manner.

With a website, you can:

  • Create an authoritative voice for your brand
    • It allows you to control the branding message for your company, as your website will be the place for information about your business.
    • Not having a website gives the impression that your business doesn’t have the budget to have a website
  • Get Social
    • Integrating social media with your website allows you to stay even more connected with your customers, as well as better leverage your online presence.
  • Benefit from the search engines’ bias to show local resultsShare your company story and information
    • While universal search has been the predominant way search engines functioned, within the past few years, the paradigm has shifted to focus much more on local results for search. Use this to your advantage.
  • Differentiate yourself from other businesses,
    • Websites allow you to communicate a strong message to your customer your unique value proposition.
  • House your own community
    • Depending on your business, fostering your customers in a community on your website is great for growing your customer base.
  • Save costs by answering frequently asked questions
    • You’re getting a phone call about the same question over and over from customers because they couldn’t find that information online. When frequently asked questions are answered on the website, you’ll be free to do actual productive work.
  • Build an email list.
    • Having a website allows you the opportunity to developing an online mailing database of customers truly interested in your business’ work. Add a sign up form on your website, and you’ll be able to develop an email newsletter list that you can leverage.
    • Update your customers with business related information such as new products, specials, events, and other fun things your business is doing. It’ll allow you to better drum up business, and keeps your branding in the minds of your customers.

Really, a website’s all about reaching your customers. If they can’t find you, they’ll find someone else. But there are plenty of opportunities to avail yourself to your customer base, keep them engaged, and keep them loyal. For your business, a website is one of your most powerful tools in that regard.

Answer this first

Skills can be learned
Skills can be learned.

Read a book. Attend a course.

Learn from someone who has achieved what you seek. Teachers and mentors are plentiful.

The paths to your desired outcome are endless.

The kind of success you seek can be achieved with effort.

That part is something you can learn.

But there’s something you can’t find in a book, learn in a course, or download into your brain.

That one thing is….desire.

It’s something you can’t buy at any price and no one can teach you.

Some call it the “why.” Why do you want what you’re seeking?

Answer that question first, and the path will become much clearer.

Start up business collection of articles that are worth sharing.

The internet has so much great information, and I thought this would be a great place to share some articles that I thought were worth reading. If you have any you would like to add to this list, feel free to let me know.

1. Startups: Build a great culture, fail small, and pay what you owe

Startups: Build a great culture, fail small, and pay what you owe

Positive Steps for Handling Negativity at Work

We’ve all heard the saying that one bad apple can spoil the bunch. The same is true of negativity in the workplace, I heard once also, that you are only as good as your weakest link. A single employee’s negative attitude can bring coworkers down and hurt morale. So how can you combat it?

    • Confront the offender. While it may seem easier to ignore a problem and hope it goes away, that rarely works. In fact, the problem usually just keeps getting worse until you have no choice but to act. When you see someone displaying a negative attitude (or hear about it from coworkers), sit the person down and let them know their attitude is not acceptable.
    • Get to the root of the problem. In your meeting, try to discover the cause of the person’s dissatisfaction. Perhaps they feel slighted by something that happened at work. They may think someone else received preferential treatment over them or that what they do goes unnoticed and unrecognized. Whatever the case, hear them out and acknowledge their feelings, even if you disagree. Share your own thoughts, discuss the issues, and try not to be too confrontational.
    • Seek solutions. As you’re discussing issues, look for ways to resolve them as best you can. Keep in mind that not all grievances can be easily solved and not all negativity is completely work-related. However, approaching the situation with a solutions-oriented mindset should help at least let the person know you’re taking their well-being seriously.
    • Hold your ground. No matter the outcome of your meeting, make it clear that the employee is responsible for their own actions and that continued negativity will not be tolerated. Spell out the consequences and stand firm in your resolve.
    • Reward positivity. Hopefully, your meeting and the solutions you devise together will trigger an attitude shift in your employee. As you notice changes, offer positive reinforcement and encouragement. Of course, even if you don’t see changes in the employee, try not to get too discouraged. Instead, focus on the more positive members of your team. Reinforce, reward, and encourage their attitude and its positive influence on those around them.

S-L-O-W Down!

We live in the age of speed.

slow down, breath!

From fast cars to fast food.

From text messaging to the microwave.

The number of hours in the day didn’t increase, but what we think we need to accomplish did.

In this hurried environment, it has become more difficult than ever to get a marketing message heard. Even harder to sell a product or service.

Zig Ziglar may have said it best: “If people like you, they may listen to you; but if they trust you, they will do business with you.”

That may seem quaint to hear, but it is just as valid in today’s world as when Zig first mentioned it many years ago.

It is true that you have to do something unique to stand out in the marketplace. Something to get people to “like you.”

But once you get that attention, slow down the process and build a relationship so that they “trust you,” too.

Provide genuine help and value. Over time that will cement the trust.

Today’s world may seem to be made for the hare, but the tortoise who takes the time to build real relationships will ultimately win the race.

HTML vs. Plain Text Emails: Which Should You Choose?

After seeing the visual difference between HTML and plain-text emails, it’s hard for many companies to send anything but fancy HTML formatting with every email they send. However, just because you can make HTML emails doesn’t mean you always should.

While HTML messages typically have flashy graphics that grab attention, they also lack a personalized touch and feel more “salesy.” In addition, HTML emails take longer to download, use more disk space, and often gain a bad rap for privacy threats, potential viruses, and information tracking. If a recipient doesn’t accept HTML emails (due to security, bandwidth issues, privacy, etc.) or an email program doesn’t interpret it correctly, your message will appear in plain text with random code that is extremely difficult to read.

Another reason to consider plain text is that more and more people check email on their cell phones, and many still have issues displaying HTML correctly.

Because email is a method of communication, many people believe the focus should be on the message and not how pretty it looks. But marketers also understand that sometimes the only way a message will get read is if it exudes visual appeal.

One solution may be to send emails embedded with both plain text and HTML, or to create a combination of both (an email that looks like plain text yet features basic ROI tracking, a share link, or social media buttons). And don’t forget, we’re also here to help anytime you’d like ideas for communicating in print!

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