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 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

June 5, 2009

Stop losing leads and opportunities!

The World is Owned by People Who Follow Up

(Guest authored by Colleen Francis)

Two months ago, a freelance photographer was at an event I attended and took some photos of me giving a presentation. I gave the photographer my card and asked him to please call me when he had prints available to sell, as I needed some updated action shots. After I saw the prints on line for sale as hard copies I emailed him inquiring about buying the electronic copies. You could say that basically, I begged to be a customer But, did he follow up?… NO. I have still not been able to buy photos from him.

Then, shortly after, by the luck of the draw, I had a phone conversation with a prospect at a technology call center in Ottawa, from whom I learned that “call center” work was a fill-in job for her. She is a struggling young fashion and portrait photographer with a small studio downtown. So, I asked her to please email me info about how to make an appointment for a photo shoot… and, you guessed it, I haven’t heard a peep from her either! She’s struggling and I’m begging to be a customer… and no follow up.

Last year I wanted to rent a cottage for six weekends during the off season and the cottage owner never returned one of my four emails.

You probably have endless stories in your own life, just like these… and I bet it drives you nuts too. There are a few businesses that do “get it”. Last week I received two E-reminders from my personal trainer – that I have not been to the gym in a while and bathing suit season is close. Bless him! – I went for my first personal training session in five months last week. Ouch.

The million dollar question is…

Who’s following up with your clients? Who’s following up on sales leads and opportunities? You or the competition? Who’s immediately following up on customer complaints to create a positive outcome… or are complaints just left to fester?

If you are a manager, are you following up on your team’s commitments to increase sales, reduce expenses, meet sign and submit deadlines, eliminate cancellations, and ensure prompt follow up with pending clients? And who’s following up with your CRM vendors, printers, marketing departments and other internal partners to make sure that they don’t let you down? Are you following up on your own promises to customers, staff and family?

What will you do?

So, what will you do to improve your track record in the “follow-up department” in every part of your business… and your life? This week, make a commitment to follow up with everyone who bought last month. Send them a thank you note – if you didn’t do that the day after the sale, and call them to ensure they are happy with your product!

Colleen-Francis©Colleen Francis is the Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions, which delivers sales solutions that realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise the client’s bottom line. Reach her at Engage Selling Solutions

June 17, 2008

Don’t Place Another Ad Before You Read This!

These days there seems to be a bewildering profusion of magazines, newspapers, blogs, networking sites, television stations and the like all of whom want us to pay handsomely to advertise our services via their medium. Plainly we can’t do so on all of them – our advertising budgets restrict us to only a very few. So how do we get the most out of our advertising budget?

Let’s look at four areas we must give careful attention to before we sign on the dotted line or hand over the cheque. Making sure that we get these four components in place will have a massive positive impact on the return we get from our advertising budget!

Are You Talking to the Right Audience?

It may be hard to believe, but time and again I see this basic mistake being repeated. The question is simple: If you run an advertisement through this medium, what is the likelihood that a large number of the kind of people you want to do business with will see it? Don’t take this for granted, nor should you believe everything the salesperson tells you! I’m not suggesting that they are (all) dishonest, but do remember that they want your money – and they don’t guarantee results!

So how might you determine the answer to this question? Realise that every advertising medium has an editorial focus, and it uses this focus to attract readers/viewers. Broadly speaking, you need to understand the editorial focus of your chosen medium on three dimensions: geography, demography, and interest. Sometimes it’s obvious: A monthly magazine called Scottish Field & Stream, for instance, is likely to count lots of relatively well-heeled (so probably older), outdoor-focused male residents of that area north of Hadrian’s Wall among it’s readership. It’s not always that clear, though; so take your time and ask specific questions.

Is Your Message Clear and Attention-Getting?

If I had sixpence for every time I’ve seen an advertisement and wondered what it was trying to say … well, you know! There seems to be a school of thought that your ads don’t actually have to say anything, they can just make the audience feel something.

Understand this: you and I do not have the budget to do that, so we cannot afford to waste our money on ads without a message! How would you feel if you went to a fancy restaurant, ordered a fillet steak, and got a plate full of parsley? Would you go back – or even pay the bill that night? Similarly, your target audience needs something to sink their teeth into or your ad will not move them to take the next step.

One final thought on key messages: Your audience is far more likely to pay attention if you engage them with something of interest to them than if you bore them with lots of information about your business. (If you are a subscriber to The Marketing Edge and have not yet downloaded and worked through our free Verbal Signature(TM) workshop, I cannot urge you strongly enough to do so now! It will really help you to develop key messages that catch the attention of your ideal clients.)

Is There a Clear, Appropriate Call-to-Action?

How would you feel if your favourite sporting hero did all of the hard work to completely dominate their opponent and then – just as they were about to finish things – they went and sat down on the sidelines leaving the opponent to come back and win the game? Pretty stupid, huh? So why run an ad that catches the attention of your desired prospect, then not tell them what to do next?

‘Oh,’ I hear you say, ‘they can see our telephone number – they’ll call if they want to.’ Why should they? What reason have you given them to do so? A piece of ancient wisdom tells us: ‘If the trumpet sounds an indistinct call, who will get ready for battle?’ Similarly, without a clear powerful call-to-action your ad is useless.

So should you ask the prospect to call you for a quote? Offer money off if they place an order? Really, your prospect (assuming that the ad is the first they’ve seen of your organisation) doesn’t know or trust you enough to do business yet, and will probably not respond to such a call. Rather focus on getting them to ‘learn more …’ perhaps by giving away some free information.

Are You Ready to Measure the Advertisement’s Effectiveness?

Once you’ve placed the ad the hard work is done, right? Er, no. Marketing is not a precise science at the best of times, so the hard work is actually in figuring out what worked and what didn’t. Yes, we might as well acknowledge right now that not all ads will pay for themselves. If we know which ones didn’t, we can be sure not to place them again. You might think that’s simple logic, but I know of many organisations that renew ads month after month, year after year without any idea whether they are working!

How could you measure the effectiveness of an ad? First, you need to know exactly what the cost of the ad was (including graphic design/copywriting costs etc), then you need to find out how much signed new business it generated. That means you have to find out which ad brought you each new lead your business gets. To do so, you might offer a slightly different free gift in each ad – then when the prospect calls to collect you’ll know which ad they are responding to. Or you might try something a little sly, like saying ‘Ask for Jim’ when there is no Jim! Prospects who call asking for Jim must be responding to that ad. (Make sure everyone who answers the phone is ‘in’ on this one, please!)

Follow the four guidelines above whenever you place an advertisement for your business and you can be sure that you are getting maximum bang for your advertising buck.

©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.

June 12, 2008

A Unique Opportunity To Stand Out From Your Competitors!

Front2Back2Front

(If you’re unfamiliar with the concept behind Front2Back 2Front please go here to read the explanation in our launch issue.)

I am still completely baffled by the lack of follow up when it comes to attending networking events. Do we not attend networking events to meet people and build relationships with them? Down the line we could become clients, suppliers, or trusted recommenders of each other’s services. Why is it then that next to nobody actually takes the time to follow up with those they meet while networking?

I have met literally hundreds of people during the last six months. Do you know how many have proactively followed up our introduction? Three. Yes THREE. One back in February , one in April, and the other last month.

I have followed up with every single person I have crossed paths with, either with phone calls or emails. I can count the number of replies I have received on one hand.

A follow up is not about trying to make a sale, it is about building a relationship! This presents you with a unique opportunity to stand out from 99% of your competitors: FOLLOW UP! It’s not rocket science.

April 16, 2008

The ONE Thing Your Professional Services Business MUST Have!

Filed under: business,marketing,profit — zee2a @ 10:41 am
Tags: , , , ,

Here’s a challenge: Do you know the ONE thing that separates the successful (including the obscenely successful, like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates) from the also-rans? Think you do? Perhaps then you also know that this same ONE thing makes more of a difference than pretty much anything else to ensure that your small business will one day become a big business, rather than a failure statistic? Anyone can do it, and it doesn’t require special skills, proprietary tools or expensive resources.

Shall I put you out of your misery? The ONE thing you MUST do for your business is to set clear, specific, time-linked goals.

What? That’s it? Boy, what a build-up for so little … but before you drop this article in disgust and go on to something else, answer me this: What are your revenue goals for the next three months? How many new clients are you planning to close between now and then? What’s the planned average revenue per client you close? Can you also answer those three questions for the remainder of the calendar year? If not, why can’t you answer those questions?

Most people who can’t answer those questions tell me that plans are irrelevant; it’s results that matter. What’s the point (they ask) of plucking numbers out of the air that may or may not match reality? Why not follow the Nike approach and ‘Just Do It’? After all, plans and goals don’t put money in the bank. And of course they are right; in the same way that drawing up plans for a new house doesn’t put a roof over your head – or does it? Do you know anyone who successfully owner-built a new residence WITHOUT first drawing plans? Neither do I, and that’s exactly my point.

Let’s take a few minutes to understand the value of focused business goals to you; and while we’re about it we’ll highlight the three steps to successful goal-setting:

The Journey versus The Destination

Shall we begin by visualising ourselves driving in a car? I usually frame this visualisation within the context of the M3 Motorway in Hampshire, heading for Southampton. (If you unfamiliar with that route you may want to Google it.) The key question is this: Is that a GOOD or a BAD thing?

No idea, right?

We couldn’t answer that question without at least some context, so let’s add a little to our visualisation. Let’s say that we are trying to get to Heathrow airport. (For those unfamiliar with the area, Heathrow airport would be behind us, and getting smaller in the rearview mirror). Now: Is that a GOOD or a BAD thing?

Isn’t it amazing how a simple thing like knowing where we want to go can make such a difference? Goals do that for your business – they give context to your analysis of progress and strategy. They allow you to decide whether to keep doing something or to stop and do something else, because they allow you to understand whether your efforts are moving you closer to where you want to be, or taking you further away.

There or Thereabouts

Let’s just take a moment to delve a little deeper into your destination as context. If you were heading for the airport, would it be enough to know which county it was in? Of course not! In fact, even having the main airport entry road as a destination wouldn’t be good enough – you would also have to know which terminal you were flying from, and where the rental car drop-off point was.

Likewise, it’s not enough for your business to have the goal of ‘being successful’. What does that mean? Take the time to define success. Remember too, that even if you didn’t set up your business to get rich you need financial goals. After all, money is the only means we have of keeping score!

The Tyranny of Time

Of course there are further aspects of context that enhance our visualisation. So, let’s imagine that we have turned the car around and are now heading towards the airport. The clock on the dashboard reads 14:12.

You’re ahead of me by now: You want to know what time the aircraft is leaving before you can tell me whether we’re on time, right? See how powerful that could be for your business? Not just WHAT you want to achieve, but WHEN you expect to be achieving it. So if what you are doing isn’t producing results fast enough, you can start trying something else, because you know where your business should be at a certain point in time. Since you are the driver, you are the only person who can make those changes – and you need the context within which to do it.

Don’t fall into the trap of setting your timelines too far ahead. (Many folk I speak to can tell me what their five-year revenue goal is, but not their current-year goal.) Within the context of our visualisation, what good would it do to know that we have to get to Heathrow in two weeks time? There would be no urgency, no immediate need to consider progress and direction – nothing to help us enhance performance. In short, an opportunity wasted. You – and your business – deserve better than that!

In summary, the ONE thing your business cannot do without if it is to succeed is goals. Those goals need to be clear, detailed and timely. If your business doesn’t have that, don’t delay! You could be on the road to Southampton at this very moment!

Having goals is not the end of the story, as many learn to their cost. The single biggest excuse I hear for not having goals is: ‘I set goals in the past and didn’t achieve them, so what’s the use?’ It’s not too dramatic to say that such people are emotionally scarred by their past inability to achieve their goals – but should they be blaming the goals? Does the problem lie elsewhere? We will explore this further next month.

Are you a Professional Services Executive yearning to grow your business profitably without sacrificing your quality of life? Are your goals becoming clearer but the strategies to achieve them still eluding you? Zee2A can help! Find out more about our Marketing Edge Mentoring Programme here.

©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