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.


March 8, 2010

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March 7, 2010

Have you met the ‘Goop Guy’?

Every now and then we run an article from a guest author, and today we are delighted to re-print ‘The Goop Guy’ written by Robert Middleton, one of our colleagues and associates.  As you read it, have a think about the principles involved and how they relate to your business and the way you do your marketing – then please add your comments at the end!


Imagine sitting in the middle of a swanky shopping center, a male

cosmetologist hovering over you, with goop slathered all over your

face. Not a pretty picture. But that was me on Friday.

How in the world did I get into such a situation?

Well, it started innocently enough. I was in San Francisco for Mac-

World and stopped by the upscale downtown mall to pick up a few

shirts at Nordstrom’s and find a Valentine’s day gift for my wife.

As I was wandering aimlessly through the mall, I noticed a number

of young girls handing out a sample drink of some sort. I was

thirsty, so I grabbed a dixie cup of the elixer and gulped it down.

Before I could blink he was talking to me. I say “he” because I

don’t think I ever got his name. He was totally focused on me for

the next half hour.

Have you heard of the goji berry? he asked innocently enough.

Well, no I hadn’t. Oh yes, it’s one of the world’s most powerful

antioxidants, and the company he worked for, “The Secret of the

Himalayas,” was the purveyor of all things goji berry.

Before I could blink he was was looking at my hands and

commenting on how dry they were and asking what I used to

moisturize them. Me, I’m a guy. We don’t think about that kind of

stuff. But before I knew it, I was rubbing my hands with an exotic

product called Hunza Apricot Treatment.

It felt kind of like wet sand. I rubbed it in and then he rinsed my

hands ever-so-delicately with a spray bottle. Next was Body Butter,

a light moisturizer that smelled like coconut and apricot.

How did my hands feel now? he implored seductively.

Well, by this time I thought this was pretty nice stuff and would

make a nice Valentine’s gift for my wife. I was sold. OK, now let

me outta here.

Not so quick!!

The Body Better was followed by by the exotic Goji Peel, then

another moisturizer and toner which he proceeded to rub into my

wrist as he regaled me with the superior qualities of these

sublimely divine body products.

OK, OK, enough already! I’l take the Apricot Treatment, the Body

Butter and the Goji Peel. My wife would be happy and I could get

back to MacWorld.

But wait, he was willing to give me the dispenser of special

moisturizer for only $50 and throw in the toner for free. How could

I possibly say no to that? I pulled out my credit card and $240 of

my new-found products were wrapped up and ready to go.

But just one more little thing.

He looked soulfully into my eyes and asked me what I was doing

for those bags so strategically placed beneath them. Bags? I have

bags under my eyes? Apparently so.

And before I knew it I was sitting on a stool being slathered with

eye goop. By now I was having fun. This guy was such a

consummate salesman I couldn’t believe the path he was taking

me down.

Here I am, a guy, considering goop to put under my eyes every

day! When would it all end? Then I realized it. It would never end.

As long as he had my attention he would continue to sell.

Then he showed me the prices. $175 for the eye rejuvenator and

$275 for the collagen cream. Yeah, how on earth did we live before

collagen? And don’t forget the mask that was now spread over the

right side of my face.

He gently wiped off everything with delicately moisturized cotton

puffs and then had me look in the mirror. Did I notice the

difference? Well, actually I did. My right eye was now definitely less

baggier than my right one. Wow, this stuff works!

But at that price? You gotta be kidding me!

But suddenly I learned that, for a very limited time, and just for

me, he could give me the first two products for a greatly reduced

price and throw in the third for free.

Well, I finally got ahold of my senses and thought… There is no

friggin’ way I’ll use this eye stuff for more than a few days, feel like

an idiot and regret my purchase. My sanity took the upper hand

and I told him firmly, thank you, but no.

An average salesperson would have moved on. But not Goop Guy. I

think he used about five more closes (don’t you care about your

eyes? was the most heart-rending) before I took off.

Nevertheless, as I gathered my bags and walked away and down

the escalator to freedom, I looked back and still saw him enticing

me back to his parlor of lotions and potions, never really giving up

until I was completely out of sight.

My only regret was that I hadn’t pulled out my Flip Video and

recorded him in action. It was in my pocket, but as I contemplated

returning, I knew I probably wouldn’t get away without buying

that damn eye goop.


The Bottom Line:  If most Independent Professionals

had one tenth of the focus, persistence and charm of this guy,

they’d be making ten times the income. No, you really don’t have

to manipulate, but certainly you’d know exactly what to say to

make your services compelling and valuable. You’d have a great

answer to every single question your prospects asked, and always

have another way to move the sale forward, no matter what.


© Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit
Robert’s web site at www.actionplan.com for additional
marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional
service businesses

October 6, 2009

What Makes a Great Brand?

Do you understand the common elements of all great brands?
(Here’s a secret: a logo isn’t as important as you think!)

Would you like simple tools to begin crafting your own brand?

Our FREE five-part eCourse will help you to do just that!

Find out more, and claim access HERE

June 30, 2009

Customer Service No-No’s

I noticed two interesting news headlines in the last few days.
Firstly, the OECD say that we are ‘at the bottom’ of the current economic recession – actually a positive thing, because it suggests (without promising) that things may begin the slow climb back to prosperity in the near future. The second indicated that the UK economy suffered a 2.4% shrinkage in the first quarter of 2009 – 0.5% worse than predicted and the worst for 51 years, apparently. Again,
although it may not at first blush seem like it, this is good news.
These type of figures are by definition retrospective – they look back at a period we have already lived through. There are many signs of recovery, mostly in the form of a slowdown in bad news!

In this week’s Marketing Edge (out for publiction tomorrow) we are re-running what was one of the most popular articles of 2008 – a critical look at customer service no-no’s. Remember that everyone struggles in a recession, but those who take customer service lightly will continue to struggle even when conditions improve. So take the key points to heart and root poor customer service out of your organisation. When you do, your customers will show their appreciation via longer, more profitable business relationships.

Sign up for your free subscription at: www.zee2a.com and make sure to verify your request before midnight tonight!

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June 19, 2009

Is your business the best-kept secret in the industry?

Many small businesses like yours are able to deliver a far more personal, tailored service to clients than your larger competitors, and have very satisfied customers because of it. Unfortunately nobody else seems to know, so prospects go to the competitor blissfully unaware that they could get a far better service from you for a very similar price! If only you could develop branding like theirs to attract prospects!

But why not?

Would you like to know how you can develop a powerful brand that will make your sales cycles shorter and close more deals at list price?

Our free five-part eCourse will help you to understand the common elements of all great brands (no, they don’t include a fancy logo!) and will provide you with simple tools to begin crafting your brand.

Learn more about it and claim your free access HERE and you could begin the process of lifting your service offerings out of the ‘commodity morass’ and into Premium Brand territory today!

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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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February 18, 2009

Two Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in Your Start-up Business

Two Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
in Your Start-up Business

You can hunt ducks and pheasant with a shotgun – a weapon that sprays tiny pellets around a broad area. But if you want to bring down big game, that approach won’t work. Why? Because the mass of the pellets is simply insufficient to bring down the animal. So you need to change your weapon, and use a hunting rifle instead. Hunting rifles are designed to propel a massive bullet with sufficient velocity to get you your trophy – but there is a downside. You can’t just aim in the general area of the target and ‘spray’ bullets. You need to be pinpoint accurate with your shot – and most times you get just the one shot.

Right about now you’re thinking: “What the …? I don’t read this blog for hunting lessons!” An understandable reaction, of course, but in a roundabout way that is exactly why you read this blog! As business owners and Sales and Marketing people we are hunting down new business and revenue streams, and we can learn lessons from things hunters already know. Like the fact that you can hunt rats and mice (and birds) with a ‘spray and pray’ approach; but when you want the impressive wins you need very sharp aim.

Small businesses pass through four phases in their passage to becoming big businesses, and each phase requires a slightly different aim. Over the next few articles we will look at each phase, and analyse the Sales and Marketing ‘aim’ required in each.

The four phases come about at the intersections of two key dimensions: Your offering (we’ll call it a product), and your market.

Primary Focus: The Start-up Phase

When a business first begins operations it sits at the Product/Market intersection labelled ‘New/New‘. An untested product offering is being marketed to an audience of prospects who have never done business with the organisation before. It goes without saying that this phase is fraught with dangers and challenges! However, the good news is that once you have passed out of this phase there is no need to ever re-visit it – although some willingly step back into the maelstrom for reasons which escape me.

The Indiscriminate/Ineffectual Approach

There are two ways in which we can get it wrong in this phase: First (and very common), we can take a shotgun and fire on anything that moves. We don’t care what we kill, as long as the pot doesn’t remain empty at dinnertime! Here at Zee2A, we call this the Indiscriminate/Ineffectual approach. It is manifested by a high level of marketing activity, spread across an impossibly wide range of channels. Think: three or more networking commitments a week in widely different environments; brochures; flyers; adverts in the local paper(s); AdWord campaigns; Yellow Pages-based cold-calling – and the list goes on. If you’re checking boxes for the majority of these in your new business, you may well benefit from going back to First Principles.

Why does this approach not work? For starters, by taking the shotgun rather than the hunting rifle you have pretty much guaranteed that you will only ever bring home ‘rats and mice’. None of your many marketing initiatives is massive enough to influence substantial prospects into doing business with you. And there’s a further consequence – by blazing away at big game with a shotgun you run the risk of causing irritation, thus losing the chance to ever do business with that prospect. This happens when you put in front of a key prospect an ill-prepared marketing message or sales proposal – because you didn’t have the time to focus on their real needs. Once the door closes behind you (and it will) it will be extremely difficult to open it again.

Another reason to avoid the Indiscriminate/Ineffectual approach is because even duck-hunters have to have some semblance of good aim! Yes, the shotgun makes it easier, but you still have to be pointing at the right area of sky, and be able to time the shot.

The Discriminate/Ineffectual Approach

A second way to get it wrong in the Startup phase is to take our hunting rifle, then use it to shoot at ‘rats and mice’! Sounds crazy, I know, but we’ve seen it happen. This Discriminate/Ineffectual approach is characterised by a small set of highly-prepared marketing and sales initiatives, delivered with precision to the wrong audience of prospects. You’ll know you’re doing it when you find your order bookings are rising but your profits are shrinking – then when you try to raise prices to address the profit issue your order-book shrinks. You’ll also be guilty of it if you invest so much of your time and skills in working with the prospect before getting an order that they then don’t place the order because you’ve addressed their need for free.

Why does this approach not work? Principally because the business won doesn’t warrant the investment in winning it. It’s a gruesome visual, I know, but imagine how much would be left of a rabbit struck by a bullet from a rifle designed to hunt Wildebeest. Not enough to go in the pot for dinner – and that’s precisely the problem!

Being both Discriminate and Effectual is the Key

How can we avoid these mistakes in our start-up business? Consider the following pointers:

  • Know what you are hunting. Understand clearly who your target market is, so that when you get a prospect in the cross-hairs you can decide in an instant whether to take the shot or keep looking.
  • Know where to hunt. Know the demographics and psychographics of your target market, so that you can choose marketing and sales initiatives that will bring them – and only them – into your gunsights.
  • Be confident and positive in offering your product to prospects – after all, they’ve never done business with you before so they don’t know what to expect. Planning and preparation are the key to success in this area. Hunters don’t ask for permission – and they’re okay with the fact that they don’t hit the target every time.

In a future article we will look at the marketing and sales focus needed to a business in the Core Market phase of growth. In the meantime, Good hunting!

©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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December 22, 2008

How do you give gifts, thanks, and appreciation?

thanksColleen Francis of Engage Selling Solutions recently wrote about the pros and cons of various popular gift-giving options. For example:

  •  Having your business logo splashed all over your gifts and cards (Good / Bad / Ugly?);
  • Virtual vs Tangible; and
  • Charitable donations on behalf of others

I thoroughly appreciated the points she raised and the suggestions she shared, so if you’d like to read her post please follow this link.

Please come back and share your thoughts!

October 21, 2008

How To Raise Finance Without Borrowing

While the banks are receiving huge handouts from the government most small businesses like ours are wondering how we can raise funds. If you find that you have lots of month left at the end of the money you will appreciate the suggestions in this week’s Marketing Edge feature article guest authored by Judith Astles.

Judith is a valued mentoring client of ours, a Marketing Edge subscriber, and a chartered accountant with an impressive list of achievements. Her article uncovers a number of ways to raise funds without turning to the banks.

To receive your personal copy of The Marketing Edge please sign up at www.zee2a.com

You may read our Privacy Policy and Previous Issues online.

This week’s issue is due out first thing Wednesday morning, 22nd October. So please sign up and verify your request before midnight tonight!

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