Zee2A's Marketing Edge Blog

March 15, 2010

Anyone for a game of ‘telephone-tag’?

Our colleague and associate Merlyn Sanchez of SMART Business Owners wrote these excellent tips for leaving an effective voicemail.  The article can also be read directly on her blog.

*

In this over-connected, cell phone to the ear, Web 2.0 world, it would seem inconceivable that it can be near impossible to reach someone. However, it’s more likely that your phone call will go to voice mail rather than to a human being!
So, what do you do when you encounter someone’s voice mail?  Many business owners and sales people tell me there’s no point in leaving a message because they’ll never get return call.  What they really mean is, “I can’t sell them anything via voice mail”.
Well, they probably weren’t going to buy anything even if you did reach them!  Without an objective and a plan, you’re just one more person vying for attention.  And since you haven’t developed a relationship, you’re very easy to ignore.
Here are some tips on how to leave an effective voice mail message:
1. Define the objective of your call. Is it a follow up to a networking event? Or are you returning the prospect’s call or email requesting information on your product or service?  Is it a “keep in touch” call where the purpose is to keep the relationship moving forward?
2. Prepare a script. You want to make sure that you make it clear why you’re calling, how you can be reached, and let them know when you’ll be following up if you don’t hear from them. This will help prevent stuttering or losing your train of thought.  There’s nothing worse than those rambling messages that you wish you could erase!
3. Make sure that you’re easy to reach. Leave them your office number and cell phone number.  And make sure to check your voice mail messages (it could be embarrassing if you don’t!)
4. Repeat your key information. Introduce yourself at the beginning and the end of your message and include your phone numbers.  Speak clearly and slowly enough for someone to be able to take down your information without having to replay your message several times.
5. Don’t give up! It may take several tries and a few rounds of telephone tag to finally reach your client or prospect.  So don’t be discouraged.

By the same token, learn when you’re being avoided and leave a message that lets the other person “bow out gracefully”.  Just ask them to respond if they’re no longer interested in hearing from you. This usually works best if you use email since there’s no fear that they may actually reach you if they call.  Inject a little humor and make it clear that there are no hard feelings.  It’ll go a long way to demonstrate that you are both persistent and considerate.
Every contact you have with someone is a potential to create or further a relationship.  Don’t miss an opportunity to get your message across in an effective and powerful way.

June 12, 2009

Online vs Offline?

Philip Rosenthal sent Vanessa an email asking:

‘How much effort should a consultant put into their online presence versus offline face to face networking?

It may be different for different consultants, but how do you decide how much time to put in or what mix of time to put into different areas? I am concerned that online marketing is a potentially endless sink of time and am not sure what the returns will be compared with traditional marketing.

Also, I have been on [a particular online networking facility] for less than a month and have about 30 connections – some of whom are people I don’t really know but are members of professional societies of which I am also a member and live in the same city as me – I hope to get to know them better this way. Any suggestions?’

Hello Philip,

Great question, and one which I’m sure many other Marketing Edge readers are wondering about. You raise three separate points, which I’ll address one by one:

Online vs offline networking

How much time you decide to spend in one area versus the other depends entirely on where your prospects are and you may have to do some research of your own to find out where that is. As a business owner with many commitments you simply cannot afford to waste your time, money and effort in activities that have minimal impact.

Are your prospects researching and making buying decisions from behind their PCs? If so, are they building relationships with potential suppliers through social networking, or are they using search engines to find information on specific services? (Two distinctly different approaches!) Or are they making those decisions on the golf course? Do they read specific trade journals or attend business to business shows and exhibitions? Find that out, then find a way to regularly get in front of them.

The returns compared with traditional marketing

Any marketing you do – whether online or otherwise must fit in with an overall strategy. They cannot be adhoc events or activities that get done on a whim and without proper forethought and planning. Remember too, that not all methods work for everyone. You have to test it and measure it. If it works, do more of the same. If it doesn’t work, or doesn’t work well enough, change tactics.

For example: Just because you’ve always had an advert in the Yellow Pages doesn’t mean you should just keep on renewing it. Do you know how much business you actually get because of that advert?

The same principle applies to your weekly networking breakfast; your brochures; your website; etc. Don’t blindly keep doing something just because you think you should, or because you think that ‘doing something is better than doing nothing.’

Getting to know your contacts better

Well done for creating an online profile and getting active in making connections! (For some top tips on creating and maintaining your profile, see my article Revamp Your Online Presence in Four Easy Steps.) It is important that your connections have substance and that you can add value to each others’ networks.

What is the point of hundreds of connections that are just there to boost your numbers, but you know nothing about each other and never interact? It would be just as ludicrous to collect hundreds of business cards at face-to-face events and stuff them into an overflowing business card folder that never gets opened again, other than to add more cards!

Your approach to connecting with fellow members of professional societies you belong to and people who live in the same town as you is a good place to start. May I suggest you take the initiative in arranging a meet-up to build those connections into REAL relationships. Perhaps something like meeting for a drink after work – invite all thirty connections and see who turns up. Not only will you benefit from getting to know them better, but they will benefit from meeting each other too. (By the way: This suggestion works equally well if applied to that over-stuffed business card holder too!)

Thank you for your question,

 

Other readers with questions are invited to submit them here and we’ll do our best to answer them in an upcoming issue.

Bookmark and Share

March 25, 2009

Are You Seduced By Fake Networking?

Many networkers focus on quantity rather than quality in their connections in the hopes that maybe someday someone in their network will know someone who knows someone who needs what they offer.

 

Please take a moment to view this brief video of Seth Godin discussing fake networking vs having a real connection with your contacts.  It’s short, sweet, and to the point.

 

 

seth_godin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

January 5, 2009

You Ought To Know!

Today we’re sharing a video from You Tube that (so far) has had over 44000 views.  In a very creative way it makes the serious point about why cold calling sucks and doesn’t work – and offers some ideas of what marketing activities get better results.

 

Once you’re done watching the video you’d be smart to refresh your memory on two previous articles in The Marketing Edge:  Never Cold Call Again! And Get More Clients into the Bargain… And Don’t Place Another Ad Before You Read This!

 

 

We’d love to hear your thoughts

December 12, 2008

Use a Burning Platform to Overcome Recession Fears and Close More Profitable Business!

Use a Burning Platform to
Overcome Recession Fears and
Close More Profitable Business

 

 

 

Most of our clients, and many others that we talk to lately, report that prospects are taking longer to make decisions than before the credit crunch began. Are you finding that? There are many reasons for it, but we’re going to focus on just one right now – the phenomenon of inertia. The principle of inertia states that a body will resist efforts to change it’s ‘state’ (whether a state of rest or of uniform motion).

 

 

How does this apply to our prospects? Well, they are no more immune from the laws of nature than anything else, so they will tend to resist a change (especially a change which involves their time, their money or both)! This manifests itself in the ubiquitous ‘Let me think about it’ and other delaying tactics, even if you’re sure that they realise they should be doing business with you. Yes, they may be convinced that agreeing to work with you will significantly benefit their business or their life, but that darned inertia will cause them to procrastinate and delay – sometimes indefinitely.

 

 

Of course, if that’s true at all times, it is especially true now, as we stare a recession in the face.  (As a side note: you might be ignoring the recession talk and getting on with your business – as you should be – but please be aware that your prospects may not be as successful at positive thinking as you are.)  So a prospect has even more reason now to remain inert, perhaps thinking that ‘now is not the time to be committing to new expenditure’, or ‘it would be wise to wait and see how the economy pulls through the first quarter of next year before deciding’.

 

 

So what can we do about it? How can we overcome prospect inertia and get them moving toward that aspirational outcome we will help them achieve if they only get off the fence and commit to working with us?

 

 

Create a ‘Burning Platform’

 

 

 

I heard a fascinating anecdote once. There is a brave bunch of people who choose to make a living by working on oilrigs – platforms floating way out in the North Sea off Northern Europe. Now, you may not be aware that sea temperatures in the North Sea rarely get more than a few degrees above freezing, so a person falling off one of those platforms into the sea has a life expectancy measured in seconds or minutes if they are not rescued. It would be safe to say that, under normal circumstances, nobody would choose to jump off the rig platform!

 

 

There is, however, one circumstance under which the normal pattern of behaviour is reversed – fire on the rig! Oil fires are fantastically hot and virtually impossible to extinguish, so if one breaks out on the rig it becomes a very unhealthy place to be – so unhealthy, in fact, that the few minutes of life to be found in the freezing waters below could make the difference between rescue and death.

 

 

Do you see how this might apply to your prospect’s buying decision? If you can create a ‘burning platform’ in the mind of the prospect they will have little alternative but to take the plunge and commit to your proposal. Now, let me hasten to add that I’m not talking about bullying or high-pressure sales tactics here – I’m talking about sound principles of marketing. Let’s explore them together, shall we?

 

 

If you’ve been following Zee2A’s marketing methodology for a while, you’ll understand that when we go prospecting we make a powerful promise to our prospects based on our ability to overcome their key challenges and create an aspirational outcome for them. We sincerely believe that we will be able to create that outcome, don’t we? We honestly believe that our prospect’s life and business will be the better for having worked with us, not so? And we base this conviction on our experiences with others we have worked with, for whom we have created aspirational outcomes, agreed? So we are not selling snake-oil – we really believe that our prospects are on a burning platform! All we need to do is help them to see that too.

 

 

The Cost of Inertia

 

 

 

What is the best way to accomplish that? Not by bullying of applying undue pressure! Rather, while exploring the prospect’s challenges and ‘matching’ your service offerings to those challenges, take some time to help the prospect understand the cost of inertia to them. Remember, if they delay a buying decision they are in effect delaying the achievement of that aspirational outcome you promise.

 

 

For example, if a prospect wants to grow their business but are having a hard time getting above a revenue ‘ceiling’, and we can help them to break through that ceiling and get on the way to their goals, the cost of inertia can be measured in lost revenues. You could (for example) demonstrate that if they delay by three months they will lose up to £250,000 in revenue growth over the next financial year. Quantifiable costs are always more powerful than nebulous risks, so take the time to work back to reasonable, measurable, agreed projections.

 

 

Does the prospect clearly see and understand that quantifiable ‘cost of inertia’? If so, they will begin to appreciate that they are on a burning platform and haste is needed! If not – why take the risk? That sea looks even colder than usual!

 

 

©David Deakin and Zee2A Limited 2008. Would you like to reprint this article? You may do so as long as you include the copyright notice and the following paragraph: David Deakin, CEO of Zee2A, is a marketing mentor who works with Professional services Executives yearning to take their business to the next level. Through one-on-one and group mentoring programmes he helps them to create sustainable marketing strategies that attract more clients at profitable rates. To learn more, sign up for his e-zine, or make an enquiry please visit www.zee2a.com.

 

Read more articles like this one!  Sign up for a free subscription to The Marketing Edge

Bookmark and Share

September 21, 2008

Are You Making the Economy Your Excuse?

A few days ago I attended a conference call with a Mastermind group I belong to, where Brian Tracy was talking about productivity and goals. He shared some very strong, positive words of advice with us that I would like to share with you.

All too many business owners are hyperventilating over the economic downturn, and are using all the sensationalism and media hype about a recession as ‘crutches’ for their inactivity.

Brian reminded us that ‘… a recession is two continuous quarters of negative growth. We have not even had one… don’t be in despair over what people say out there. 95% of people who are working are working. Businesses are growing. The financial sector is in trouble. The other 90% are reporting record profits.’ Then he told us: ‘Your job is to work a little harder, get a little smarter, try something new or different…’

So really you have a choice: you can curl up into a ball, stop marketing, close shop, and cry about how the recession ruined your business. OR you can get out there and find customers while your competitors make excuses.

On that note – would you like to learn exactly how to recession-proof your business? Please come along to our morning  Seminar on Wednesday 15th October 2008.

August 26, 2008

The Fatal Mistakes Most Entrepreneurs Make

 

Lorraine Pirihi is a Productivity Coach and fellow member of a Mastermind Group that we both belong to.  This article she has written fits well with my previous article: Top Tips To Avoid Communication Overload 

 

‘The Fatal Mistake Most Entrepreneurs Make and How You Can Avoid Them’

By Lorraine Pirihi

Lack of time is the most common complaint I hear from entrepreneurs and small business owners.  So if that’s the key challenge why is it so difficult for them to overcome it?

Some time ago I used the services of a mortgage broker who in the first instance was very prompt and appeared very efficient.  Although it took some time for the refinance to go through (that was caused by the bank and their legal people), all went smoothly.

However, going back a second time to this broker, the cracks in his lack of systems really showed up. I had to chase him up to get things moving.  It appeared he had more business than when I first used his services.

Here’s what I’ve observed:  (more…)

July 28, 2008

Ready to Explode?

Ready to Explode?
Top Tips to Avoid Communication Overload

I frequently hear clients and prospects lamenting that they don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything, never mind marketing too! (Of course, that’s before we start working together), and that their work-life balance is out of whack. On closer analysis, we often get to some root causes and the two I’m going to discuss in this article are common culprits.

Recently I came across some interesting research where 1,000 UK business people were surveyed about their office efficiency. One of the revelations was that the average time we spend on constructive work each day only adds up to three hours and 50 minutes. Apparently office workers are wasting in excess of 20 working hours a week, 960 hours a year, costing UK businesses £140billion in lost labour costs. Phew!

The survey also revealed that 51% of office time is spent answering unnecessary phone calls and checking emails. Almost three quarters of those surveyed admit to sending an email rather than having a phone or face-to-face conversation. Apparently close to 40% of office emails travel less than 100 metres between sender and recipient. Does that resonate with you?

If so, please take note of the following top tips to avoid communication overload:

Phone Call Phooey

When did this trend to make ourselves (and demand everyone else be) available 24/7 start? That’s phooey as far as I’m concerned. There are perfectly justifiable times during even the work day when we should not take phone calls. For example: when in a client meeting (that’s just rude); when driving (dangerous and illegal); or on public transport (inconsiderate to everyone around you).

But what about when we are actually in the office? Let’s face it, at times we may be working to a tight deadline and really need to avoid interruptions. Perhaps we’re working on something technical that requires 100% concentration.

  • There is nothing wrong with turning off the phone and letting voicemail pick up your calls. Just make sure that you have a decent outbound message, that you don’t leave the phone off for hours on end, and that you return any calls promptly.
  • If you prefer not to divert calls to voicemail then let your PA or VA take your calls.
  • Ban personal calls during work time.

And before you make a call, think twice. Do you really need to make that call? Are you asking for help on something that could be resolved by yourself rather than disturb someone else? Why not ‘google’ the subject, look in the client folders, or open the reference manual? This is a particularly common problem in offices where one person is perceived as the ‘go–to know-it-all’. Its often easier to ‘just ask Jim’ than figure it out ourselves.

Email Inefficiency

It is so easy to be sidetracked by incoming emails every time that little popup arrives at the bottom of the screen, or the envelope appears in the toolbar. Here are some suggestions that work well for me:

  • Don’t leave your inbox open all day. Rather schedule specific times that you will check emails and then close the programme again.
  • Disable the pop-up that alerts you of new messages even when your inbox is closed.
  • Create folders and set up rules so that email is pre-sorted and you can prioritise what to read without needing to scroll through hundreds of messages in your inbox. A simple start is having a folder and rules for ‘friends and family’ so that jokes, forwards, and Auntie May’s holiday pictures are available to view when you have time, but not distracting you from business communications.
  • Create a separate folder for key clients, another for suppliers, etc.
  • Hundreds of old, read messages in your inbox is untidy and probably adding to your perception of overload. Be ruthless: Delete them! If you think you might need to refer to them again down the line move them into another folder, but get them out of your inbox.
  • Every month eliminate old emails from folders that you honestly know you will never refer to again.
  • Don’t CC messages to people to whom the email is irrelevant. I have colleagues who are brave enough to delete emails (without reading them) if they are only in the CC line. They believe that if it was important to them, it would have been directly addressed to them.
  • Don’t send emails to colleagues in the same office if the same message could be relayed in person. Plus we all need extra exercise!

Now that you’ve reclaimed all those lost hours be sure to put them to productive use. Ensure that you only do what leads you down the ‘quickest route to the money’, as my mentor is always reminding me. Your work day should be split between working with existing clients, and marketing to get new clients. Everything else should be delegated or outsourced.

©Vanessa Deakin and Zee2A Limited 2008. Would you like to reprint this article? You may do so as long as you include the copyright notice and the following paragraph: Vanessa Deakin works with Professional Service Executives frustrated and disappointed with their current growth rates, marketing efforts, and business profitability. Through one-on-one and group mentoring programmes she helps them to skyrocket their results and break their own best records. To learn more, sign up for her e-zine, or make an enquiry please visit our website at www.zee2a.com.

July 17, 2008

What are the top distractions you face during the work day?

I’ve just received some research findings that reveal that “…the average British business person only manages to complete three hours and fifty minutes of constructive work each day” and that “office distractions take up an average of four hours and ten minutes each day” !

I would like to see how readers of this blog fare in this regard, so please would you share your personal view:

(1) What are YOUR top distractions at work?
(2) On average, how much work time do you lose each day as a result?

Thank you!

You may also like to read my article: Ready to Explode? Top Tips to Avoid Information Overload