Zee2A's Marketing Edge Blog

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.

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April 28, 2009

Have You Reached Critical Mass?

Have You Reached Critical Mass?

Back in February we looked at two fundamental marketing errors to be avoided by start-up businesses. You may want to refresh your memory briefly; in which case click here to read the article again.

Start-up businesses are at an unenviable junction of product offering and target market: They are offering an unknown/untried product to a market which knows little of nothing about them or their product. As an aside, many franchise operators make the promise that as their franchisee you can leapfrog this stage of business growth, but be very careful: a lot of franchises are untried in a broader market, so you should do very careful market research before signing on the dotted line. In any case, a franchise is someone else’s business, not yours: You can get rich operating a franchise but you’ll never ‘own’ it the way you do your own business.

But I digress: let’s look at what happens as you operate your start-up business. Over time (if you remain in business) your product gets refined and enhanced, while your market (that group of businesses or individuals from which your most successful clients will be drawn) gets to know you better and better, because you keep showing up and doing the right kind and volume of marketing. This may seem to be taking too long, and it is rare for a start-up business to have really achieved this within eighteen months (some take far longer).

But you will reach what some refer to as a ‘tipping point’ (I prefer the term used of nuclear reactions: reaching ‘critical mass’) at which you will suddenly go from struggling to make yourself known and understood to your target market to being recognised instantly and seen as a ‘core product’ in your chosen market. This may seem to happen overnight and with little change from the previous day, but be assured that it only happens if you have been working hard at marketing to your key audiences over an extended period of time.

You’ll recognise this change: selling may not get easier, but instead of having to explain who you are and why you should be shortlisted, you will be asked to explain how you justify your price against the market leader, or (ironically) why you should be chosen against the ‘new guy’ who is hungry for the work! You are no longer selling an untested product into a new market; you are now one of the yardsticks in your market – others are evaluated against you!

Core Business – The Second Phase of Growth

When your business reaches this phase of growth (the junction of a tried and tested product offering and an established market) you really should get out the dusty bottle of French Red you’ve been saving for a special day and pour yourself a glass. It’s a huge milestone – so many start-ups have fallen by the wayside without ever reaching this point, for any one of a hundred different reasons. You’ve made it. And you deserve to celebrate.

But don’t lose sight of the fact that there’s lots more work to do; and many marketing mistakes yet to be avoided. Let’s look at a few which are relevant to this second phase of business growth:

Continued/Intensified Indiscriminate Marketing

Just so we’re clear: Your business is now established in a market. I might have mentioned earlier that this doesn’t make selling easier, but I lied. It does make the selling easier – not only do you have to work less to get through the door of qualified prospects, but you even occasionally get invited in, because your business is now one of the ‘usual suspects’ –those recognised scions of the industry who have to be evaluated as part of a buying decision. Here is where all of the carefully targeted marketing that you did in the start-up phase (and wondered whether you were spending too much for the results you were getting) start to pay off.

So why would you now start panicking about the market being too small and go off trying to win business outside your core market? And yet that is all too common – the belief that your core market is saturated and results are starting to drop off.

I have worked with clients who focused on singularly small markets – one client could recite by heart the forty-four public-sector organisations that formed his target market. But after fifteen years and some amazing growth, he still markets with pinpoint accuracy into that market, and the business still wins contracts. In a future article we will touch on the phase of growth which allows for an expansion of your marketing efforts, but understand for now that unless you know for sure that your market is saturated (or approaching that point) any marketing done outside your core market is a mistake. Keep the shotgun locked away, and rely on your hunting rifle.

Giving Up Hunting

Once your business reaches this phase you’re going to be as busy as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. Because you’re selling more, you’ll need to deliver more – and your time will come under huge pressure.

What happens to marketing? One of a few things: either you just don’t get around to it anymore, or you bring in your spouse’s cousin’s lad to help out. No offence – he’s probably a wonderful boy – but the sort of marketing skill your business needs he is not.

What’s the result? Remember that what your marketing has bought you is what marketers call ‘mindshare’ – conscious or close-to-conscious recall of your business in the minds of key prospects. As your marketing efforts tail off or lose their effectiveness that recall will fade, and your business will fall back under the critical mass threshold again. Virtually every entrepreneur I have ever met has explained how difficult they found it to break through a particular revenue barrier at some point in the evolution of their business – and every time the reason was this phenomenon.

Work hard at keeping up the marketing momentum – and consider carefully whether now is the time to beef up, rather than dilute, the marketing expertise available to your business. Staying above the critical mass threshold ensures that your business will never again have to contend with the start-up phase.

©David Deakin and Zee2A Limited 2009. 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.

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January 19, 2009

Could You Make More Profitable Sales by Doing LESS Networking?

networkingIs it possible to stop doing so much networking and yet make more sales with higher profits?


Sound crazy?


Read the feature article in the week’s Marketing Edge eZine due out first thing on Wednesday morning.


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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 24, 2008

Why Are Your Customers Giving You Bad Publicity?

Three Ways to Ruin Your
Business Reputation


Funny how the minute I use the word ‘reputation’ ears prick up. We all know the power of a good reputation, and the damage a bad one can do. Businesses are concerned over matters like their environmental impact; Fair-trade policies; adherence to health and safety standards; etc because those issues impact on their reputation. A good reputation drives good publicity and ultimately longevity of a business. A bad reputation leads to bad publicity (whether via the media or simply the power of ‘word-of-mouth’), lost customers, and can ultimately result in business failure.


This article is not about to focus on environmental impact, Fair-trade policies, or health and safety. What it is going to focus on is three other areas that customers find critically important. Customers are, after all, the lifeblood of your business. If we as businesses are not delivering what our customers deem important they will drift away and go to our competitors that are. Specifically we are going to address three customer satisfaction issues that impact on your business reputation.


I recently hosted a survey among a group of consumers, to find out what key issues made them extremely dissatisfied with a service provider. The following three issues came up over and over and over again. They were:


1.       Recurrent Mistakes – with little or no attempt to prevent future occurrence,

2.       Disrespectful Behaviour from a member of staff, and

3.       Appalling Telephony Systems.


Recurrent Mistakes


No one is saying that we have to be perfect and are not allowed to ever make mistakes. Humans, being imperfect as we are, will always need to allow a margin for error. The problem comes in when people do not learn from their mistakes and keep on doing the same wrong things repeatedly. A number of complaints I have heard are around the lack of effort to correct mistakes.


There could be different reasons why mistakes are repeated. At times a lack of skills or training is to blame. At other times it is a personnel issue – either the wrong person has been assigned to do the job, or the employee involved is simply careless and takes no pride in their work. And of course a management issue is often involved – failing to address issues before they escalate (be they training, staffing, or attitude issues).


Disrespectful Behaviour from a Staff Member


Now while you as a business owner are gasping that none of your employees would ever treat a customer disrespectfully, 2 out of every 5 people I surveyed (that’s almost half of them) have a different view! The kind of behaviour that they find disrespectful includes:

  • An inconsistent level of service from different people in the same organisation;
  • Discrimination based on their perceived value (or lack thereof) as a client;
  • Staff members unwilling to take responsibility;
  • A member of staff who obviously regards customer interaction as an interruption; and
  • Unfulfilled promises (phone calls and emails not returned; promises not followed through; etc).

Would it surprise you to know that Harvard Business School conducted a study a few years ago, which established that nearly two thirds of customers that leave an organisation do so as a direct result of bad service or discourtesy from a member of staff? And it’s not just junior members of staff that are guilty of disrespectful behaviour either. In my survey there was evidence of managers and other senior people giving their junior staff very poor examples to follow.


Appalling Telephony Systems


Ooh, now this is a hot-potato isn’t it? Customers hate call centres!

We can all relate personal experiences of being caught in an automated loop with no quick way to a real, live person; or being stuck with “”option 1, option 2, and option 3″ whether our call had anything to do with those options or not; and when we do actually get to speak to somebody on the other end, often they can’t actually help us at all.


Is it the call centre per se that is the problem? Or is it perhaps the individuals on the other end of the telephone that either enhance or ruin your experience?


There are two distinct areas here that need addressing, and both relate to training. On the one hand, customers need to be better educated to use the alternatives available to them. I feel qualified to say (because I am frequently guilty of this myself) that if the customer first referred to their user manual / policy document / the business website; there would probably be no need to pick up the telephone at all. On the other hand, the staff within these call centres need to be more adequately trained in product knowledge and in effective use of the telephone.


Let’s face it, as a customer, I would have no objection (nor be any the wiser) to my call being answered anywhere and by anyone, as long as my call was efficiently dealt with.


It’s easy to see how failing in these three areas can completely ruin our business reputation. Customers talk. Fact. We really don’t want them spreading negative publicity about us. I’ve heard it said that a happy customer will share their story with one or two close friends, but an unhappy customer will tell everyone they can! So then is there an easy way to protect our reputations? Absolutely Yes!


These issues (and indeed many others too) can usually be resolved by the following three steps:

1.       Sharpening the recruitment process – finding the right people, and putting them in to the right roles;

2.       Managing problem staff more closely – being close to the causes, is it motivation, attitude, or a skills gap? and

3.       Providing an adequate, ongoing, and consistent training and personal development programme for all members of staff.


© Vanessa Deakin and Zee2A Limited

This article was originally published on 20 February 2008 in The Marketing Edge


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 is a Marketing Coach who 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

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December 19, 2008

Do You Inspire Action?

How to get Great Response to Your Marketing Efforts?
Have a Great Call-to-Action!

The current election race in the USA has given rise to a lot of comparisons between the public-speaking styles of the various candidates in either party – not that deep analysis of potential presidential candidates is anything new! Perhaps one of the most powerful sound bites of any election race was a self-effacing comparison made by Adlai Stevenson between himself and John F Kennedy during the election campaign in 1960. Stevenson invoked the memories of two great orators of the Greek and Roman eras when he said: “When Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, ‘How well he spoke’, but when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, ‘Let us march’.”

Of course, JFK was an outstanding orator, but then so was Stevenson (by reputation, at least – I have never heard a recording of him). So what made the difference between the two in terms of their ability to inspire action? One commentator, in discussing Stevenson, put it this way: “His speeches were isolated works of art rather than stations on a line along which he wished to travel.” So, in my own words I’d say that when Stevenson spoke he enjoyed the moment, but when JFK spoke he never forgot that he was trying to get people to vote for him!

What on earth does all of this have to do with marketing? It’s quite simple really: We must never forget while marketing that we are trying to get people to do business with us! If we do, we might leave a room full of people thinking: ‘How well he spoke’ and then turning to other things. Has that ever happened to you? It certainly has to me! I’m going to take this opportunity to share a story with you that was related by a friend and colleague, and I choose his experience rather than my own for two reasons: Firstly, he is a consummate professional whom I would never have imagined capable of such a blunder (where my own are depressingly regular) and secondly, because the circumstances make it all the more painful and therefore memorable. So, to the story!

My colleague is a Life-Coach who specialises in working with actors and the like, and is good enough to have been invited to address a group of three hundred recent and past graduates at Giulliard (the premier school of acting in the world, in case you haven’t heard of it). By his own accounting, my colleague gave a ‘kick-ass’ presentation extolling the virtues of working with a coach and the resultant benefits for the career and life of the coachee. When he had finished, he wrapped up by saying something like: ‘There are a pile of my business cards on the table by the door. If you’re interested, take one and call me.’ Guess how many calls he got? Yup – zero! Now I’ve seen this person speak – and he has a rare gift – so it wasn’t because he didn’t speak well. It was because for a crucial moment he lost sight of the fact that he was trying to get people to do business with him.

So what should he have done? What should you and I be doing each and every time we talk to a prospect, either one-on-one or as a group? Simply this: Take them by the hand and lead them to the next station on the line which leads to a sale.

Let’s illustrate: You’ve met a potential client at a networking event and in a few minutes of conversation you’ve determined that there is a potential fit for your services. You may try giving the prospect your card and suggesting they call you, but what is your likelihood of receiving that call? As an alternative, why not ask for their card and call them? That’s better because you’re in control of the next action, but there is still room for improvement.

Why not try this next time you’re in that situation? ‘Sally, I sense that there is some opportunity for synergy in what we’ve discussed, don’t you agree?’ If they do, then you say: ‘May I have your business card? I’m going to send you an article that I wrote on that very subject. It will be in your Inbox by midday tomorrow.’ You now have a clear path for this prospect to the next step in your marketing process. (You DO have a marketing process, Right?!)

Of course, if this is a prospect you’re already familiar with and who you believe already has a level of trust in your credibility, you may feel that sending an article is insufficient progress. So you could carry on with: ‘Do you have your diary handy? I’d like to buy you a coffee and explore this area of opportunity further. How does 10 o’clock Thursday work for you?’ Wow! An appointment for a sales call! That was too easy!

You may be saying: ‘I couldn’t do that! It would be an imposition!’ Would it really? Why do you think that prospect came to that event? Why did they share their situation with you and then give you their card, if it wasn’t because they were looking for help addressing their issue? Another colleague put it this way (he’s Australian and doesn’t mince words!): ‘Most people are walking around with their umbilical cord in their hand, looking for a place to plug it in.’ A graphic image – but ultimately an accurate one. So you would be doing both yourself and your prospect a disservice if you didn’t make sure they got plugged-in to your value-adding services as soon as possible!

But it won’t happen unless you take them by the hand and say: ‘Let us march!

©David Deakin and Zee2A Limited 2008.

This article was first published in The Marketing Edge on 1 December 2007


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.

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December 17, 2008

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  • Attract leads with a powerful BRAND PROMISE
  • Build credibility to create BRAND EXPECTATION
  • Close deals at premium rates, then deliver BRAND BELIEF
  • Use your BRAND LEVERAGE to expand your business beyond your wildest dreams?

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The RRP for this eCourse is £99, but for a limited time only we are offering it completely FREE OF CHARGE

 Learn more about the eCourse and sign up at www.zee2a.com/branding

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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

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November 5, 2008

The Key to Getting Through The Recession With Your Business Intact

Keeping with current blogging themes of getting through this recession with our businesses intact, I read something very eye-opening recently on a colleague’s blog.  Merlyn Sanchez is the guru behind Smart Business Owners, and is also a key player in the Mastermind Group that keeps Vanessa and I on the road to success.

Merlyn recently blogged about some research which came out of the three previous recessions (74-75, 81-82 and 90-91 in the USA) and the results, though predictable, are still amazing: businesses that stick to their marketing and advertising guns during a recession not only make more money during the recession, but critically also for the two years following the recession!

If that isn’t incentive enough to get out there and market, market, market then I don’t know what is!

Read the full article here.

November 4, 2008

Can You Sleep Through a Storm?

The feature article in this week’s Marketing Edge takes a look at the impending ‘storm’ of a recession, and uncovers two essential activities that will affect how your business weathers the storm.  If you want to ensure that your business remains intact whatever economic conditions give rise to, then be sure not to miss this week’s issue!


Sign up for a free copy at www.zee2a.com (please verify your subscription before midnight tonight, to ensure delivery first thing in the morning!)

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