Tips from the Top - June 2011
The Secret “Sauce” in the Customer Retention Recipe
Marketing and sales will help you get customers in the door, but they won’t help you keep them there. Why? Because your competitors, if they’re smart, are targeting your customers with their own marketing and sales campaigns. In an age where everyone is looking for “a deal” or “the next big thing,” all it may take is a timely discount or a clever ad to get them to go elsewhere.Read more
Seize the Snow Day
I love the fact that email and social networking gives us instant access to our customers. This past winter a major snow storm was predicted for our area. I realized it was an opportunity to generate winter revenue, which is difficult for a roofing company in the upper Midwest. We came up with a quick email to let our customers know that we remove snow from roofs. The email went out in the morning, and the snow started falling full force by evening.Read more
As a business owner, it is easy to get overwhelmed if you set annual goals (e.g., 15 percent growth in sales), and then attack the goals using multiple strategies and action plans over the course of the year. To minimize frustration and improve your chances for success, identify some “middle metrics” or measures of activities that will lead to you achieving your ultimate goals. Here are a few examples:Read more
A 7-Year Plan for Success
In a recent TAB Board meeting, one of our seasoned executives shared the plan he used to grow his business into a world class organization over the last seven years. As part of the plan, his company focused on several goals: perfecting their offerings, attracting talented associates, pursuing innovative technology, building a loyal client base and operating with frugality and a respect for the bottom-line. In addition, he made the painful commitment to put 10 percent aside each year for future opportunities. This allowed the company to strategically acquire competitors, propelling it to eventually capture 60 percent of the world market in the industry.Read more
Differentiation Attracts Business
Many companies are accustomed to competing on price, but sometimes this is not enough. Prospective customers typically have many options, and they have no reason to choose you if you cannot articulate why you are the best option. The difference you offer must be very clear and truly different. For example, “great customer service” is not a good differentiator because it is vague and every company claims to have it.Read more
Watch Those Walking Fingers
Always make sure you know who you are doing business with! We recently received an unsolicited fax for advertising copy approval from Yellow Page (www.yellowpage-britishcolumbia.com). At first we thought it was a renewal from Yellow Pages (www.yellowpages.ca), with whom we’ve done business for years. But then we noticed that the logo looked different. It turns out that Yellow Page has the walking fingers pointed up, while the Yellow Pages logo has the walking fingers pointed down.Read more
Passing on Prospects
Review your prospect list to make sure that everyone on it is a good fit your niche and offerings. If they’re not, suggest someone who could better serve them. You will get a referral customer for life and save you both time.
Why Are You Calling?
When contacting current or prospective clients, always keep the goal in mind. What is the purpose of the contact? What do you want them to do as a result? Keeping the “call to action” in mind is important for everything from phone calls to emails to your website.
Attitude Makes a Difference
I operate my business and my life according to the “3 P’s”: how one perceives, projects and presents themselves – regardless of the circumstances or how they feel – makes all the difference. This is especially true for sales people, who are often the main point of contact with prospects and customers – attitude can make or break a sale!
Underused Real Estate
I’ve found one of the easiest places to put marketing messages is the signature line of my email address; it’s easily changed and can point readers to my website, event or Facebook page.
Improving Website Usability
Use Google Analytics to see what browsers visitors use to view your website. Then verify that your site displays correctly in these browsers. If it doesn’t, fix it. Ensuring a quality experience for site visitors should be at the top of your online marketing to do list.
Amazing New Technology
The new solid state drives (SSD’s) for computers or laptops are amazingly fast, use less power and are very reliable as they have no moving parts to wear out. Unfortunately, as they are only available in the 120GB to 240GB range, they lack the large storage capacity of hard disk drives (HDDs). One option is to use SSD’s in combination with HDD’s or a network attached storage system (NAS). At my company, we use SSD’s as the local drive to run applications, and HDD’s (or NAS in a Raid-5 configuration) for files and storage backup. This provides much faster PC operations, and longer battery life in laptops.
Letting go of the past is one of the biggest challenges that any business owner faces. However, a tremendous amount of time and energy is misspent on what is not in our control. Remember, you cannot change the past; you can only strive to change the future. Looking forward helps you focus on your mission and prioritize truly important tasks.
Social Media Testimonials
During a recent Board meeting, we discussed various methods members have used for acquiring testimonials. One of our members provides recommendations using social media sites, such as LinkedIn, in return for a recommendation from the client. Doing this, they developed a long list of recommendations for their website.
More Eyes the Better
One of my Board members, the owner of a retail store, asked fellow members to weigh in on a proposed store makeover. In less than an hour, they identified half a dozen changes or additions that would save or make money, and/or increase customer satisfaction. While it is impossible to put an actual dollar figure on the Board’s ideas, it is clear that having extra, experienced eyes looking at strategic decisions is a valuable service.
Asking for Testimonials
A powerful testimonial can help a prospect choose you over the competition. However, they can be difficult for customers to write. If you want a testimonial from a client, write one up based on facts you know to be true, and present it to your client for their review, revision and signature.