21st Century Marketing
Mastermind Consulting Network
Entrepreneurial companies today must become marketing oriented in order to win the 21st Century consumer. In today’s extremely crowded marketplace it's important to focus on marketing instead of selling.
In the days of simple selling, there was less competition, fewer choices, and it was easier to make a buying decision. The seller had the power because the buyer had fewer options. Today buyers no longer have to rely on limited sources of information about a product or service. We now have more competition, information, choices, and more resistance. A wedge has been created between the seller and the buyer called "The Confidence Gap." It is the consumer's inability to determine whether any of the products or services they are considering are better, worse or different than any of the others. It's very difficult for a prospective buyer to determine whether you are better or different from anyone else. Your goal must be to inform the consumer creating confidence and trust.
The question you may be asking yourself is "How do I create confidence and trust?" Advertising things like "Better Customer Service” are based on the theory that if you have better customer service, you'll have more customers. The problem is that first you must have customers in order to service them better. Therefore, you must figure out how to find someone to sell to in the first place.
Advertising tricks and techniques:
You can trick people through misleading advertisements into calling you or coming in but it does nothing to build trust and confidence. Instead it builds suspicion and distrust. The result is a widening of the Confidence Gap when the goal of your advertisement should have been to narrow it. In order to be successful, you, as the business owner, must overcome this Confidence Gap.
• Getting Prospects To Want To Do Business
If prospects don't want to listen, and don’t trust you; they are not going to buy what you are selling. They are going to view you as a pest. Your marketing program must first make people want to listen. It must cause them to come to you so that you will have the opportunity to sell. Your time will be used more productively in closing sales rather than chasing them down.
• Driving Business to Peak Performance
Marketing communication needs to be concise, well articulated, and powerfully stated. It is frequently a one-way communication and needs not be afraid of rejection. People can review marketing at their own pace, when it's convenient for them. If they aren't interested, they can ignore it altogether with no consequences. To be effective, your marketing communicaions must address two issues - your key selling points and your public image.
Key selling points are what your business does that makes it valuable to your customers. What are your competitive advantages? They are your skills, your passion, your systems, and the way you conduct your business. Your public image is how customers and prospects perceive your business. It is the ideas and impressions consumers gain from you through your direct and contact with them.
To be effective your public image must match your key selling points. If you spend all your resources developing competitive advantages and neglect to communicate them effectively with your marketplace, you will be frustrated wondering why you are having minimal results with your superior products and services. On the other hand, if you focus solely on your public image and fail to create real competitive advantages, your prospects will soon find there is little value in your products and services and you will get little, if any, follow on business.
We can paraphrase Jim Rohn, a business philosopher, who said: "First, have something good to say. Second, say it well and third, say it often." In a marketing program, about 25% relates to having real competitive advantages while the remaining 75% involves effectively communicating them to the market place – your public image.
• Stand Head and Shoulders above Your Competition!
Your Key Selling Points: In a nutshell, your key selling points are the case you build, and the reasons you give why a prospect should do business with you. Your key selling points must distinguish your business from all competitors. It will make you the obvious choice and lead prospects to the conclusion, "I would have to be crazy not to do business with him…regardless of the price."
• Raise Your Business above the Noise
In the yellow pages you will find ads for nearly any given product or service. Each ad shouts the same thing: "best, cheapest, honest, friendly service"; all empty words. This is NOISE; one of the primary reasons for the Confidence Gap. How can a prospect determine which, if any, of the offers is the best deal? The result is a prospect calling the first few ads and going with the lowest price. However, lowest price does not always reflect the best deal. Your issue must be, “Have you made your value clear to the prospect”?
• Build a Case for Your Product or Service
Once you have gathered this information about your business, selling becomes much easier. In effect, you have defined your key selling points or the "something good to say." Once you have this clearly defined, you are ready to work on your public image or "saying it well."
• Make Your Written Ads Effective
An ad in the newspaper costs same whether it generates one customer or many customers. A mailer costs the same whether it brings in a few dollars or thousands of dollars of business. Your skill in marketing and advertising will therefore have profound impact on your business. Small businesses must demand maximum performance from every marketing dollar spent. Ads that are cute and/or silly attempting to build name recognition or saying, "Here it is, come and get it" cannot be tolerated. Advertising must lead prospects to act in some measurable, specific way - send in a coupon, call a number, write a check, go to the store, etc.
The headline is the ad for the ad. Its purpose is to select those who may be responsive to the offer and give them a reason to continue reading or listening to the ad. Incorporate the most important key selling point into the headline; a singular, unique benefit customers will receive by doing business with you, the one thing that distinguishes you from the competition. The headline must be brief and clearly stated.
Those who have interest will read the headline and decide to keep reading. If you use an ambiguous headline, chances are you will lose people who are qualified. Remember: you are only interested in selling to qualified, interested prospects!
Platitudes and generalities leave no impression whatever. To say "Low Prices, Biggest Selection or Highest Quality" is useless. People are skeptical. They need to be convinced. Use specific, graphic, illustrative words to quantify your statement.
To say we have at Least 1745 in stock, 22 Styles, 72 Sizes, and 10 Popular Colors - Prices from $25 to $125 is more believable than “Biggest Selection”.
People will discount generalized statements, but they feel that you wouldn't tell a bold-faced lie. When you make specific statements about your product, you generate credibility. No extra cost.
Long vs. Short Copy:
Interesting short copy is better than boring long copy. However, the more you tell, the more you sell. Use as much space as it takes to present a fairly complete argument for your product or service. An interested, qualified, prospect will read the entire ad and if it provides the information he wants, place an order.
What's In It For Me? Every ad must address this important question. Your key selling points must tell people what's in it for them - and state that reason in clear, graphic, and illustrative terms. Features, advantages, and benefits should all be covered in your key selling points.
In almost every business relationship, one party is asking the other - implicitly or explicitly - to bear the burden of the transaction risk.
If your product or service can truly perform, then you should not hesitate to offer it to interested, qualified prospects at zero risk. Don't make your prospect take the risk. Depending on the relationship with the client, you might ask for a deposit, but never accept money if something doesn't work. Always state your guarantee in readily understandable terms. "Money Back Guarantee" does not evoke the same response as saying "Your check will not be cashed for two weeks and the sale isn't binding until you are fully satisfied”. You may have more returns and a few people might even take advantage of you, but if the guarantee doubles or triples your advertising response, then the returns are inconsequential. You have increased the bottom line without spending extra advertising money.
People do not pay attention to advertisements, but they do pay attention to the news and entertainment delivered with your advertisements. In many cases, it makes sense to format your advertisement as news or entertainment to gain attention. Some of the greatest print advertisements look just like news articles. One you may be familiar with is frequently found in the sports section. The headline says, "New, Hot Golf Ball Banned from Pro Tour - Flies Too Far."
Call to Action:
Your advertisements should lead the prospect to do something. If you're generating leads, your ad needs to tell people to call, send a card, bring in a coupon, write for more information or some other specific reply. If you're trying to make sales, tell people to write a check or call with their credit card ready. People want to be led. If your advertisement has built a solid case for your product, all you have to do is ask for action and you will get it.
Unless your product is very simple, it's a good idea to use advertising for lead generating. There comes a point when a real salesman must close the sale. But don't underestimate the usefulness of advertising to open doors and create interest. If your ads are reaching qualified, interested prospects, they will definitely have a positive effect on your business.
• Create Powerful Sales Tools
Systematize your sales and marketing processes so that it's easy to understand, to implement, and to train your people. You need to create tools that capture your passion and expertise, such as audio tapes, videos, CDs, reports, etc. With powerful sales tools, even the weakest link in your staff will be more productive.
Capture Key Selling points In Sales Tools:
Businesses usually demonstrate the 80/20 rule when it comes to sales...20% of the sales people are superstars and the other 80% are average or below. Good sales tools can make poor sales people better and the good ones great. There's a reason that McDonald's is the biggest and the best in their industry. It's not because they have the best food. It's because they have the best systems for doing everything. It's all predetermined. They don't leave it up to people to figure things out. You don’t have to be as systematized as McDonald’s, but you can learn the power of a system from their example.
Let the Tools Sell:
Create brochures, audio tapes, videos, newsletters, and things your salespeople
can use to
Once you have created the tools to make the salesperson's job easier, the next thing is to generate leads, provide scripts, and standardized follow-ups that make the entire process work. You need to figure out all of the prospect's situations BEFORE you start the sales process otherwise, you won’t be adequately prepared.
A business may have certain sales advantages over each of its main competitors...but the advantages are different depending on who you are being compared too. So, for instance, if we generated a lead and the prospect says he’s currently using competitor #1, the salesperson will pull the follow-up letter that gives specific advantages that we have compared to that competitor. The letter can then be print out, with some customization if necessary, signed and mailed out.
The salesperson doesn’t have to figure out what to say in the letter or actually take the time to type up and mail out the letter himself. In a sales system, every sales person has an equal opportunity to send the same well-written, perfectly articulated letter, regardless of how good a salesperson he is. We have elevated the performance of everyone...because everyone gets the same results when they're using the same tools. While there are many variables that affect the overall performance of your sales staff, you will lift everyone's performance by systematizing.
Everything Can Be Systematized:
You can systematize the follow up letters and procedures, the phone scripts, the element of "surprising" for your customers, the 'thank you', how you handle problems, lead generation, everything. Even the passion can be systematized and duplicated. You've got to find a way to get your people to deliver the same passion that you have for the business.
For instance, a video could be created for a company that talks about the "Code of Ethics & Competency” in their industry. Since it’s an uphill battle to gain the confidence of consumers, the video sets up specific standards that should be adhered to and tells prospects how to tell if a given company complies. It is set it up so that only your company has the ability to comply with all the standards. The video does a very good job of forming a public image that accurately reflects your key selling points which demonstrate that you are really peerless in your industry. The video must be well articulated and must build a strong case. An example of how this systematized sales tool, works is that a salesman might noticed a neighbor, buying from a competitor. He walks over to the neighbor's house, knocks on the door and says "I live down the street and I work for a particular company. Here's a video that will help you make sure that the company you're using will do a satisfactory job." Then he shakes hands and goes home. No more, no less. Very likely, the salesman will get a call from the neighbor saying "Hey, I watched your video. I want you guys to come over and tell me more." Not a bad outcome for handing a person a video.
• Dominate Your Marketplace
To dominate your marketplace, you must use a systematic approach to making prospects want to listen to what you have to offer by presenting a compelling case for your product or service and systematically and consistently communicating it in a way that's instantly credible.
Most companies don't have a problem selling their products or services once they get an audience. If a salesman gets an appointment, as long as he can fill the prospect's basic needs, then he's got a good shot at making the sale. In retail, if the customer just comes in the door, it's likely that they'll buy provided that their needs can be met at a fair price. The problem is generally NOT in the selling.
Get the Opportunity To Sell:
You must consistently contact your target market with compelling marketing pieces. In this way you train your prospects to buy from you and ignore the competition.
You need a system that allows you to manage huge quantities of leads without all the additional time, hassle, and the expense of trying to personally contact each one of them with the intent of developing a one-on-one relationship. Most business owners and salespeople spend 80% of their time frantically trying to manage prospects (with little success), instead of spending 80% of their time closing sales and building their income.
Some of your prospects will be ready to buy at first contact, but many others WILL NOT be ready. They need nurturing time to "ripen," into qualified prospects that are ready to buy.
Harvesting "ripe" prospects is easy. You call on them, they have an immediate need and since you called at a good time, you get the sale. This is not your greatest opportunity to gain new customers. Your REAL potential wealth lies in the "green" prospects, the ones who need time and nurturing before they'll be ready to buy.
The average business owner or salesperson will pick all the low hanging ripe fruit off the tree, throw them in his little bucket (he doesn't need a big one), and run off to the next tree looking for more ripe prospects. Maybe his next tree is a trade show, a networking group, a mail campaign, a fax blast, or a telemarketing list. But some of those green ones, the ones who weren't ready will ripen and pan out in the future. Recognizing this, most business owners will set up a “tickler” file for follow up. Then every so often, they call the people on the list without a specific reason just to say “hello” and thus become "the annoying voice on the phone". There is no reason from the prospect's perspective for you to call him and waste his time. Instead of building trust and confidence and brand equity, a gulf of resentment is created! For prospects, this routine gets very old very fast.
Realize that there's a process that a prospect must go through before he'll be ready to buy from you. He may need to learn more about your industry in general or he may want to know about you and why your offer is better than anyone else's. Or maybe, he just doesn't need what you have...right now.
Your challenge is to educate and nurture each prospect. We talk about "relationship marketing", the process of getting our prospects to think of us as their friends. We all like to buy from our friends. But with hundreds of prospects, that's a tough row to hoe.
In sales, nurturing consists of two things: Communication and Consistent Contact. You have to continuously communicate with your prospects why they would want to do business with you…and you have to say it in a way that makes them believe it and take action. If you do this consistently, you will win the lion's share of the business because none of your competitors are doing it (you win by default), and when the prospect has a need, you will be the OBVIOUS CHOICE for the business.
• Maximize Profits
Grow Your Business:
In order for a business to achieve maximum growth, it must increase its customer base, increase each customer's frequency of purchase, and increase each customer's average amount of purchase.
Marketing must address all three of these areas to optimize a business. For some reason though, 95% of marketing dollars are spent on gaining new customers. By failing to increase the current customers' frequency and amount of purchase, you are wasting valuable resources.
Avoid One-Shot Selling:
A simple 3-step formula keeps customers coming back over and over again. It is Step One - Capture the names and addresses of all of your customers, Step Two - Systematically contact all of your customers and ask them for more business and Step Three - Offer a reward when they give you additional business.
Sounds simple, but any business that is struggling isn't doing it and 90% of businesses that aren't struggling could increase profitability if they would execute this formula and systematically contact their customers.
The Myth of Coupons:
Most people using your half-off coupon are looking for a deal more than they're looking for a good company with whom to do business. Think about the message the coupon sends to potential customers: “Our business is so bad that we've got to give it to you at half price to make it worth your while even though we won’t make any profit on the transaction”.
You must pro-actively seek to work the back-end. Most businesses let their customers dictate what their buying habits will be, how often they'll come back, how much they'll spend when they do buy, etc. Most businesses are reactive when it comes to re-selling their customers. If you have already sunk the cost of generating and nurturing a customer, why not solidify the relationship and profit from him forever?
Start immediately to do everything in your power to gain repeat sales from current customers. It may be something as simple as writing them a letter or giving them a telephone call. But one thing is certain if you don't ask for the business, your competitors will.
One of the best ways to leverage your time and marketing dollars is to enter into a cooperative marketing venture with other businesses. If you agree that your customers are your business' most valuable asset, then you should see the potential profits available if another business will make its customers available to you in the form of cross selling of goods, an endorsement or a more integrated joint venture.
These arrangements work in one of two ways. First, you let other companies play off your customer base and then take a percentage of each resulting sale. Or second, you work a deal with other companies to make their customers available to you and then pay them a portion of each sale. The underlying principle is simple. Each business spends some amount of time, money, and resources developing a relationship with its customers. The customers then have some level of confidence in that company which translates into a willingness to respond to offers made by the company. If you do a cooperative marketing venture with the owner of another business, you can access the results of their marketing efforts for the cost of a letter.
The Ultimate Financial Leverage:
There are thousands of ways to construct cooperative marketing ventures, but you have to actively pursue deals with other business owners. Your proposal must have immediate benefits for the prospective partner. Don't just say, "Will you please endorse my product to your customers". You have to paint a picture. You must help him understand how it works, what the dynamics are, how it leverages the resources of both companies, and most importantly how it benefits both parties.
The marketing function of a business offers tremendous opportunities
for leverage and cooperative marketing can be successfully applied to
almost any business as long as the owners keep an open mind and continue
to think Win – Win!