Zee2A's Marketing Edge Blog

August 18, 2008

Do You Market To Strangers?

 

There are very important lessons to be learnt about why marketing to strangers doesn’t work.

 

Our article Never Cold Call Again! (published originally in January 2008 ) has driven the most traffic to our blog, and generated a continued frenzy of response from our Marketing Edge subscribers.

 

Reading (or re-reading) this article will show you what to do instead – and get much better results!

July 23, 2008

Spam: Where it Came From, and How to Escape It

Spam: Where it Came From, and How to Escape It

Written by Tom Kulzer (AWeber CEO)

  • Who Cooked This!? (How did it all start?)
  • Why Does Bad Spam Happen to Good People?
  • Stop The Flood to Your Inbox
  • Stay Off Spammed Lists in the Future
  • Think You’re Not a Spammer? Be Sure.
  • The Final Blow (more…)

July 22, 2008

Grow Your eZine List The Honest Way!

You may recall my recent article, published here on June 3rd and in my eZine The Marketing Edge entitled: Right vs Wrong: How To Build an Email List wherein I outlined some of the dishonest, and soon to be illegal ways that many businesses and email marketers grow their email subscriber lists.

Many so-called marketing experts and self-proclaimed gurus are the worst offenders – adding every email address they’ve ever collected onto their unauthorised s*p*a*m*m*i*n*g lists.

I also outlined a number of best-practices for building an eZine (or email newsletter) subscriber database with people who have chosen to subscribe, by opting-in to receive emails from you. 

Few other email marketers would be prepared to share their statistics or inside information, but I would like my clients, subscribers, and readers to feel comfortable that I not only ‘walk the talk’ but can substantiate advice I give them, based on my own experiences. (more…)

June 16, 2008

Does Wisdom Have a “Best Before” Date?

Filed under: business,opinion,trust,work smarter — zee2a @ 10:38 pm
Tags: , , , ,

As professionals and successful business people, how much advice and guidance do we seek out (or even appreciate) from older generations?

Sure, trends change; thinking and ‘accepted wisdom’ is frequently challenged or updated; but does *all* advice ever become outdated? What kind of resources can our parents – even grandparents, if they are still around – be?

Do you ever seek the opinion or input from your parents in business matters? Or do you think their wisdom is beyond it’s “best before” date?

I would love to get your thoughts.
Thank you. (more…)

June 8, 2008

What Method Will People Use To ‘Opt-In’ ?

Further to my post of June 3rd on Right vs Wrong: How To Build An Email List, also published in The Marketing Edge Ezine by Zee2A; the following pearls of wisdom were contained in the Advanced Fiction Writing Ezine published by Randy Ingermanson. (more…)

June 3, 2008

Right vs Wrong: How to Build an Email List

Email newsletters (aka E-zines) can be regarded as one of the best business communication tools invented for a long time. 

  • They are low cost – even no cost in comparison to paying for paper, printing, envelopes, and postage. 
  • They are instantly deliverable directly to the desired recipient. 
  • They are created with ease and minimal fuss.
  • They are environmentally friendly – no paper or transport to distant subscribers.
  • They allow you to stay on the radar of qualified prospects and existing customers in a low-key, non-threatening way.
  • They position you as an expert, authority, and credible resource in your industry.

Little wonder that so many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon with aggressive list-building tactics. The choice between right and wrong becomes paramount, and YOUR ethics, credibility, and reputation all come in to play when you choose how to build your list.

The wrong ways, while not yet illegal, are currently under review and challenge by both the European Union and the United States of America. Some dodgy tactics include:

  • Buying databases and mailing lists from vendors who sell them
  • Adding every contact you meet at networking events
  • Mining other databases like Chamber of Commerce member lists and the Yellow Pages
  • Using ‘Opt-out’

(Please note that I am NOT talking about occasional ad hoc emails, I am specifically referring to adding these names to your regular E-zine subscriber list)

Doing so will add thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of names to your list. 

What is the point of a subscriber list of thousands who never asked to receive your information, probably will never even open your messages, and certainly will never do business with you?  It’s a case in point of quantity rather than quality.

 How will unsolicited SPAM position you as credible?

 How will it draw prospects to doing business with you?

As an example, just this week I received an email from a local Law Firm that I have NEVER had any dealings with. Somehow I have landed on their subscriber list. (You’d think a law firm would lead by example!).

The email is addressed: ‘Dear Client’. Ahem – I am not, never have been, and now certainly will never be.  They have completely blown their own credibility in my eyes.

 At the end, they have their ‘Opt-Out’ clause: ‘This newsletter is sent in accordance with the EU Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive.  If you no longer wish to receive it please send an email to **** to unsubscribe‘.

Why must I have the hassle of asking them to remove me from a subscription service that I never asked to be a part of in the first place.  The next one I receive will be flagged as SPAM.  They will learn the hard way when the ISPs blacklist their outbound emails.

(NB:  If you are having problems with sending outgoing emails, and have an email newsletter with subscribers who haven’t subscribed themselves, you may want to check your ‘blacklisting’ status with your Internet Service Provider)

Do you even trust Unsubscribe links anyway?  How many times have you tried following one and then either being asked to log in (eh? With what details??) or received a ‘successfully unsubscribed’ message only to find you continue receiving the newsletters anyway?

The above tactics only serve to destroy your own credibility and reputation. Rather than being on the radar in a non-threatening way you may be pushing your prospects away.

Don’t despair: There are better ways! 

There are many reputable businesses and E-zine publishers who are getting the process right. In so doing they are growing their lists with warm, qualified subscribers who have a much higher likelihood of becoming paying clients in time.  Look at what they are doing so you can emulate their techniques as well as their success.

Here are some of the ethical, honest, and best-practice methods that they (we) use:

  • Use Verified Opt-In services.  It will take longer to grow a list this way, but each and every person on that list has chosen to be there.  They have qualified themselves in, are expecting to hear from you, are most likely to open and read your messages, and have an even higher likelihood of doing business with you when ready.  The best way to do this is to use one of the reputable list managers in the market. Get recommendations.  We love Aweber        
  • Have a Clear Privacy Policy. Email addresses are like gold.  Let your subscribers know that they can trust you to treat theirs as such. Make is clear that you will not rent, sell, or share their information with any third parties.  Also make it clear what you will do with their subscriber info. For example read Zee2A’s Privacy Policy HERE
  • Only send relevant information. Set expectations upfront about the kind of information you send your subscribers and then keep your promises.  If you offer a Tax Consulting service your subscribers will expect information relating to that. They don’t want emails from you marketing Time-Share in Spain.  Here at Zee2A we help our clients grow their businesses, so our emails will always contain articles, hints, tips, and suggestions on doing just that.  Not the latest Make-up and fashion trends!
  • Make it easy to get in touch with you. The internet can be a vast, impersonal, black hole.  Show your subscribers the real ‘you’ behind the website and the E-zine.  We always include a photograph to make it more personal and so that you can put our names and faces together.  We also include contact information so that you can write, email, or call us. 
  • Make it easy to unsubscribe. If your readers choose to no longer receive your newsletters they should not need to jump through hoops to have their wishes granted.  There should be no shenanigans.  Your privacy policy and use of a reputable list manager will ensure integrity in this matter. 

Keep an eye out for my follow up article. In it I will outline various tried and tested methods to grow your E-Zine list with quality subscribers who look forward to hearing from you.

©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, Operations Director at Zee2A, 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


Email Marketing $19/Month!

Vanessa could help you with your overall online (and offline!) marketing strategies. Get in touch NOW to arrange a complimentary telephone consultation.

 

May 20, 2008

Two Keys to Building Strong Business Relationships

Man has walked on the moon, can communicate with someone the other side of the world while strolling along a busy road and many more technological marvels. Less than a hundred years ago these things would have been considered inconceivable if not impossible. Yet despite all this progress we have not yet learned that basic and most important skill, (more…)

May 1, 2008

Do You Treat Prospects like Idiots?

I was in the toilet at a large local department store the other day and there was a sign on the (empty) paper towel dispenser saying “In order to reduce our carbon footprint we longer offer paper towels in our toilets. We apologise for any inconvenience caused”. So … let me get this straight … because we’re REDUCING our carbon footprint, we’re now forced to use a hot-air dryer? A hot-air dryer that consumes high levels of electricity (it’s core component is an incandescent heating element) and blows unnaturally hot air out into the atmosphere (thus contributing to the greenhouse effect)? That’s BETTER for the environment? Or is it perhaps just a little cheaper for the store budget?

That got me thinking (yes, I know – it must have been painful – ha ha!) that we sometimes make decisions for very good reasons, then get scared of telling customers and prospects why we made the decision. So we trump up some flim-flam that makes us look like socially-responsible citizens but doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Is that okay? You’ll get different answers, but I don’t think so. I don’t like dealing with people and organisations that patently think I’m stupid – they may be right, but they’re not making me feel special, are they? I’m not saying that I’ll never go to that store again, but it’s left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t trust them any more.

I’d far rather that they had just told me the truth – they’re budget-conscious and they felt that having a hot-air dryer in the toilet was sufficient to the needs of customers. It wouldn’t have damaged the relationship.

What do you think?

April 23, 2008

Are You Fishing in the Wrong Pond?

If you’ve been a subscriber of the Marketing Edge for a while, you no doubt recall my article in January about “Networking That Produces Results – How to Work That Room!”

Today I’m not going to focus on working the room, but on working the entire concept. I’ll be discussing three essential elements that absolutely have to be at the forefront of any networking that you do. I am taking it as a ‘given’ that you are in the professional services arena, are offering a premium service, and are not trying to be the cheapest provider in town.

1. Fish in the Right Pond

If you had set out to fish for Cod, would you take your tackle out on a barge on some English canal hoping for success? Likewise if you were aiming to catch Rainbow Trout would you set out on a deep sea vessel heading for the Atlantic? Of course not! You would have done your homework in advance, known where the highest concentration of your ‘target’ was, and set off to fish in those waters.

Networking should be no different. In order to get the highest return on your investment (that’s your time and money) you simply have to be doing your networking where your ideal prospects are.

There are a great many different networking organisations to choose from that you may feel overwhelmed by the choices. I wholeheartedly recommend that you take full advantage of attending as a visitor, as many times as the group allows, before making any commitment to join. Investigate, do your homework, and make sure that the fish you want to catch are swimming in that pond!

There is a school of thought that suggests it doesn’t matter where you network because networking is simply about meeting people and making connections. I totally disagree. Pure business sense and sheer economics mean that lots of low value connections, not turning into money, equals a high cost of conversion and low return on investment. It simply has to be about quality not quantity, which brings me nicely on to the next point:

2. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thinly

To make a genuine success of your networking efforts and get tangible value out of it, it is imperative that you be an active, visible member of the group (or groups) to which you belong. This comes back to the quantity issue. Ask yourself: Can I be an active, visible, highly involved member of a whole host of different networking clubs? To get the most value out of my membership how much time would I have to dedicate to attending events? Over the course of a week or a month, how many hours am I spending at these events? How many work days does that equate to? Now the killer question: Do I have to compensate by catching up on work in the evenings and at weekends?

Hmmm.

Never forget that you have a business to run. Spending time and money in marketing efforts that get poor or wishy-washy results is going to have disastrous knock-on consequences. I’m not saying that your networking is getting poor results, but it introduces the third point.

3. Frequently Evaluate

If we keep doing the same things, we will keep getting the same results. That’s why it is crucial to frequently evaluate what we are doing and examine what results are being obtained from those efforts.

We do, of course, also need to factor in the cost of membership to all these clubs, plus any additional out of pocket extras like the breakfasts or lunches there. How does that fit in with your overall marketing budget? Can you think of ways to get more ‘bang for your buck’ by getting in front of your prospects in a more targeted way?

Many fish migrate to other waters during different seasons, or because of other changes in environmental factors. So too, do we need to frequently evaluate whether our ideal prospects are still swimming in the pond where we have cast our net.

Back on the issue of quality rather than quantity another area that demands close evaluation and scrutiny is that of the quality of business or referrals that are being obtained within the group. If the best referrals you are getting are names and numbers on a post-it note, they are likely to result in nothing more than a cold-call at best. Take an honest look at your conversion ratio: How many of these leads are being turned in to paying clients? How long does it take?

(A simple way to warm up a referral is to ask the referee what they know about the prospect and their needs, and then encourage them to make a warm introduction. It’s important that the approach is made by the person that the prospect knows and trusts. It can even be as straightforward as just arranging a phone call or exchange of emails between you and the prospect. Try this tip alone and see your conversion rates sky-rocket!)

You absolutely have to ensure that any networking you do fits in with your overall marketing strategy. (You do have one, right?) If your weekly commitment is turning into a glorified breakfast club or ladies tea-party it’s time to refocus, reprioritise, and re-evaluate what may be better uses of your time.

©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, Operations Director at Zee2A, 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

February 6, 2008

Resolving The Dilemma of Ethical Marketing

Many service professionals will tell you that the words ‘ethical’ and ‘marketing’ don’t belong in the same sentence. While you’d be opening another can of worms by asking for a precise definition of ‘ethics’, let’s just say for the moment that often marketing leaves us feeling a little dirty, or sleazy if you prefer. One marketing guru summed it up by saying that marketing and sales are the world’s second-oldest profession – and often are indistinguishable from the first! Is that how you feel? If so, you have a problem (and you didn’t need me to tell you that!) That’s because without marketing you’re on the fast-track to retiring from a dull middle-management job at a faceless, heartless corporation. Not much in the way of choice, I hear you say!

Well, perhaps there is a third way. Let me say that a little more positively: I KNOW there is a way to be as successful as you choose to be at marketing without feeling like you need a hot shower and a scrub. Let’s take a few moments to explore the marketing dilemma and see if we can unravel it.

First, let’s acknowledge that not all of us would do anything for a quick buck. Most of us (certainly the professionals I work with) went into professional services because we really believed that we could do things better if we weren’t hamstrung by corporate red-tape, and that by doing things better we could better serve the customers whose dollar we were on. Has that changed? Not for me – and I doubt it has for you either. So at its heart our business exists because we believe it helps those we do business with as much as – if not more so than – it does ourselves. Many professionals remember this simple fact by carrying a Vision or Mission Statement which says so. (Without intending to get off track, I cannot recommend highly enough that you regularly reconnect with the reasons you went into business in the first place. Our Marketing Mindset process helps our clients to do just that.)

Second, let’s agree that sometimes we really need to close a deal in order to survive. We’ve all had months when the taxman was calling, the bank manager was refusing to extend the overdraft and the kids were expecting to be equipped for university like Shackleton was for the Antarctic! Some of us have had more of those months than we care to remember! At times like that it doesn’t help to hear some smart aleck say that if you really need the money, you shouldn’t do the deal. They may be right – and if so we’ll have our nose rubbed in it later when we’re trying to untangle from a customer whose expectations were way too high but whose commitment was close to non-existent. But in the heat of the moment it’s human nature to do what we have to do in order to survive, so we do and say whatever it takes to get the signature on the proposal.

Clearly then, there are times when our commitment to a customer doesn’t closely mirror our overall vision for our business. And if we have too many of those, we start to question our vocation. You may not realise this, but you should: Getting to feeling like that is a GOOD THING! It means that your profession still means something to you; that you still want to be better. You want to be better for your own sake, and you want to be better for your customers’ sake. If you ever lose that desire, you’re in deep trouble and I’m not sure who can help you!

However, that scenario should not be the norm for service professionals. All too often, though, it is. Why? Because we neglect the necessary chore of regularly prospecting for customers until the urgency is great enough to force us out of our comfort-zone. Or, to put it another way, we don’t do any marketing until we’re having ‘one of those months’ – the type that make us unethical marketers! Are you sensing the pattern here?

Finally, then, lets discuss how to break the cycle that leads to ethical misdemeanours. It seems too obvious to say, but plainly it’s not: Do more marketing more regularly, and you won’t have many of ‘those months’. Of course it’s one thing to say it and quite another to do it. How do we market regularly? What does that involve? How do we get the most bang for the buck? We are busy people, so only the most effective marketing activities should be in our portfolio or else we’re wasting time and money, right?

Many years of testing and sifting have demonstrated to me that there is nothing that even comes close to Relationship Marketing in terms of effectiveness for service professionals. As I define it, Relationship Marketing is about building trust with and demonstrating credibility to prospective clients before initiating the crucial sales conversation – letting them get acclimitised to you and plying them with information about your services so that when you ask for their business they have little hesitation because they already know they’re going to get value-for-money. And for it to work successfully on a consistent basis, you have to have a game-plan for it.

Put in a nutshell then, a good Relationship Marketing game plan well-executed is the cure for the ethical marketing nightmare. So what are you waiting for? Make sure NOW that your marketing strategy is focused on building relationships – not just when you’re desperate for new business but every week and every month. Your conscience will thank you later!

©David Deakin and Zee2A Limited

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 guru who works with Professional services Executives yearning to take their business to the next level of profitability and success.  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 http://www.zee2a.com

 

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