Category Archives: Marketing

3 Reasons Why Social Media MUST Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Social media is all the rage these days, yet many business owners struggle to understand why they should bother to jump on the bandwagon.  They are mystified about how to monetize their social media efforts.

Here are 3 reasons you can’t afford to miss this online ‘boat’ plus 3 simple things you can do to capitalize on this ‘Brave New World’.

1.  Print media is dying and with it, print ads.
Even when it worked, advertising was primarily useful only for building brand awareness. Unless someone sees your ad at the moment they’re thinking of buying something or you have a killer sale going on, it’s likely that it won’t generate a sale for you.

2.  Email marketing is dying – fast!

People are inundated with email these days.  Many people receive over 100 per day, so the chances that yours will get read are really slim. If you don’t know the right techniques, your messages may never be seen.

3.  Networking only works if you follow up quickly and most people don’t.
Actual face time is critical for building relationships and credibility.  Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to do that properly. So they smile, chit chat, shake a lot of hands, exchange a bunch of cards and that’s where the story ends.

So what’s a business owner to do?
1. Shift your print advertising budget to online media.
Facebook ads are effective, inexpensive and highly targetable toward your ideal prospect profile.

2. Connect online where your ‘peeps’ are hanging out.  Add value, build relationships.  Share enough about yourself that people can get to know (and like) you.   Make sure you have an account and profile on LinkeIn, Facebook and Twitter.  Start a blog and make short, relevant comments on it regularly.

3. Attend networking events with a plan for the kind of people (industries, professions, etc.) that you want to meet.  Ask other attendees if they will introduce you to them. Make a commitment to follow up with a few key people you meet at networking events, not to sell them right away, but to get to know them better to see if there really is a match for what you each do.

It’s simple to get started in social media. Make sure you have a strategy of who you’re trying to connect with and how you want to be known in those communities.  You’re building a new reputation in a new world. Do it thoughtfully.  Once you’re ‘in’, continually refine your efforts.  Draw people into your lair by giving then once trust is built, make them offers they can’t refuse.

How to Gain More Sales Through Referrals

I’ve been coaching a lot of financial advisors lately on building their book of business by leveraging the power of referrals.  Referred prospects make faster decisions and do more business than prospects through any other marketing strategy.

I LOVE referrals…and I get a lot of them.

The problem for most business owners is that they’re afraid to ask for fear of seeming pushy or needy.  Colleagues are afraid to provide them because they don’t trust you enough to not jeopardize their relationships in their network.

So what’s a business owner to do?

When we’re in a slow economy, people are naturally hesitant and leery of making major investments.  If you’ve found yourself making lots of offers but getting few of them accepted, you’re not alone. The problem may not be that what you have to offer isn’t valuable.

It may be that your approach is off.

Referrals could be the key to your recovery.  Referred sales take less work. They close faster. They bring in more money.  And if you know the secret to leveraging them, they can pull you right out of this financial doldrum most of the world is trapped in.

Here are the 5 steps, R.E.F.E.R. to getting all the referrals you can muster.

1. Recruit
It’s important to identify the right referral partners.  These might be good clients or colleagues who sell non-competing products or services to your target market.

2. Educate
In order to alleviate that “I’m-not-sure-I-want-to-endorse-you” hesitation, you have to properly orient your referral partners.  They need to know not only what products and services you offer but how you’re going to treat their colleagues when you meet them. They have to feel confident that you’re not going to embarrass them or irritate the person they’re connecting you with.

3. Facilitate
Many people believe that giving you the name, phone number and email of a prospect is all that it takes.  In fact, that’s the weakest kind of referral you can ever get.  It’s better than a cold call for sure, but not strong enough to oversome the reluctance people have to meeting unknown sales people.

You want your colleague to talk to the prospect on your behalf and ‘grease the  slide’ for you before  you ever contact them.

4. Engage
Meeting your new prospect for the first time is a sensitive and delicate ocassion.  If you blow it, the relationship could be over for good. And you could be jeopardizing your relationship with the person you already know. You have to make sure your new prospect is comfortable meeting with you and minimize their discomfort and fear that you’re going to take advantage of them.

5. Reward
Once you’ve met with the prospect, whether or not they buy from you, it’s important to properly thank the person who made the introduction. Thanking them can take many forms.  The choice of how you show your appreciation should be commensurate with the business opportunity you had.  It should also be personal enough that your friend or colleague knows that you gave this gratitude process some thought and didn’t just send them the exact same thing you’d give to everyone.

Sure, you can have a canned referral program but unless your standard gifts are whopper, super-duper items, they won’t have long lasting motivational impact.  Gifts don’t have to be expensive, just tailored and thoughtful.

Follow this 5-part system consistently and you’re pipeline will be packed with prospects clamoring to do business with you.

Is Your Brand Increasing Your Sales or Killing Them?

mercedes-logoI talk with a lot of marketing strategists who extol the importance of branding for a company’s success but it’s like pulling teeth to drag most of them down from the conceptual clouds and get specific about exactly what they mean.

Every company has a brand whether you’ve proactively designed it or not.  Your brand isn’t just the way you present your company; it’s how you’re seen in the eyes of your prospects and clients.

coke_logoMost of us recognize the highly advertised brands like Coke, Mercedes Benz, Nike etc., but someone the connection between what those big companies with huge advertising budgets do doesn’t clearly tell  smaller business owners what they should do and why.

According to Rob Frankl, “branding is not about getting your prospects to choose you over your competition; it’s about getting your prospects to see you as the only solution to their problem.”Nike-Logo

Here’s what I discovered when I went on a quest to clear up my own vagueness about this topic.

There are 3 major components of a brand: content, style, and graphics.

Content derives from your values, beliefs and key messaging you deliver to the marketplace.  What do you say about your company or products and services?  Why are those things important to you?  Do your ideal clients actually care?  How do you know?

Style reflects the personality of your brand or firm.  Are you intelligent, fun, stodgy, casual, conservative or out in left field?  Again, is there a style to market match?  You need credibility with your marketplace and the way you ‘behave’ in your market will either attract or repel them and determine how much they trust you.

Graphics is all about the visual, physical representation of your company. It includes colors, font, logos and photography.  It is the first thing people tend to focus on and create but really should be the outflow of the first two components.

You must know who you are but if you create your brand just based on your internal interests, you could miss the mark by a mile.  You must also thoroughly have and understand your target audience before you attempt to ‘present’ yourself to them.

It your brand is appealing, it will make people want you.  Real branding raises your bottom line revenues, lowers customer acquisition cost, increases customer retention and profitability. So review the way you’re portraying your company, check with your clients and prospects to understand how they view you and if you’re confident you’re sending the message you intend, market the heck out of it (in all of the right places, of course)!

Do You Relate to Your Business Like It’s a Slot Machine? 5 Steps for Increased Sales, Revenue & Profits

Having spent the weekend in Las Vegas, I had a chance to engage in one of my favorite forms of Las Vegas entertainment, playing the penny and quarter slot machines.

I just about doubled my modest $25 ‘investment’ and kept myself thoroughly entertained for a couple of hours. By Las Vegas standards, that was a good ROI.

It got me wondering about the allure of slot machines.  I think it has to do with the suspense of the ‘hunt’ and the thrill of the win. It’s a similar dynamic.

“How do I find my best prospects?”


“What does it take to win them over?”

If you treat your business like it’s a slot machine though, you could be suffering from some serious problems.slotmachine6

1. Feeling like you’re not in control
2. Trying lots of strategies but unsure which ones will really work
3. Worried about if and when your big payout is going to happen

Here are 5 ways to win at business and improve your sales, revenue and profitability.

1. Focus on your core strengths

Many people suffer from the I-have-lots-of-strengths-interests-and-abilities syndrome.  I grapple with this one sometimes myself.  You may find that you’re afraid to focus because you’re worried you’ll be leaving dollars on the table.

Actually, the opposite is true.  The more you focus, the easier it is for people who need you to find you.  So define what you do best and organize your business around that.

2. Know who you best serve

Similarly, many of my clients are reluctant to select a target market thinking that they’ll make less money if they don’t do everything all of the prospects in the world need.  Again, not true. Trying to serve to many people will keep you scattered, spreading your efforts too thin.

It’s easier to find specific groups of people and it’s easier to market and sell to them because you can say all of the right things that will grab their attention.

3. Listen to your clients & prospects

In order to grab their attention, you have to be speaking their language and this requires that you know what they’re talking about.  A lot of business owners make the mistake of creating products and services JUST because they’re good at it without knowing if the market is at all interested.

4. Understand their pain

When you listen deeply to your prospects and clients, you can learn what keeps them up at night.

You’ll get a visceral experience of how they’re suffering and where you can help.  You can better empathize with them and show your concern for their situation in a more authentic way.

5. Offer solutions to conquer their pain

Once you know the things you excel in, who most needs you and what their problems are, you’ll be able to offer them the perfect antidote to their dilemma and they will thank you for it while eagerly snapping up your products and services.

When you follow these 5 steps, you’ll be more strategic about your business, you’ll stop dropping coins in any random slot machine and your payout of more and bigger sales will just happen naturally.