Tag Archives: marketing

Turn Business Cards Into Business: Do You Manage Client Information on a Paper Napkin?

Athenee MastrangeloBy Athenée Mastrangelo

Your clients are your #1 priority, right?  So how are you managing their information and your relationship with them?  Do you have all their information stuffed in a shoebox or do you have an effective CRM (Contact Relationship Management) system?  Or maybe you’re somewhere in between?

The difference between having the right and the wrong CRM system can make or break your business.  Finding the right system for you is not an easy task.  It’s also a personal task – just because Mike next door is very happy and successful with his CRM system does not mean it’s the right system for you!  Every person, business, and situation is unique.

Scenario 1:  Kevin wanted only top of the line for his team and chose one of the more expensive CRM systems.  Unfortunately, it was too complicated and too time consuming, so in the end his team ended up never using it.

Scenario 2:  Becky started out with a free CRM system, but slowly had to start upgrading to a paid version to get the necessary options.  In the end she was paying more than the average system, but was getting less in return for her investment.

Rather than making those same mistakes, assess your situation and ask yourself some really important questions

Five Key Areas: Prior to investing your time, money, and energy into a new CRM system you want to ask yourself some important questions. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Contact Management: For starters, you know you need to store and manage all the people in your life from your clients, colleagues, leads, and vendors, but what is it that you need to save (aside from the obvious – like their name, address, phone numbers, emails, etc.)?

  • Do you want to store their family information, e.g. spouse and children’s names, pets, birthdays and stories?

  • Are you a visual person and would like to be able to store their business card image/logo?  What about their picture?

  • Do you want to be able to organize your contacts into groups?  [Hint:  Yes!]

2. Your Relationship: Now that you have their information, what about your relationship with them – your history… is this important to you?    If so, what is it you want to store and manage?

  • Collect any and all phone calls and take note of important things discussed

  • Keep a record of things covered and discussed during meetings and presentations

  • Any email correspondence (If email is an important part of this, you definitely want to look at a CRM system that syncs with your email.)

3. Projects, Tasks and Events: Some CRM systems have their own calendar or they can integrate with your calendar system making it easy to share events, projects, and tasks with other people in your team.  It is helpful to have your tasks and events synced with your contact system – this is definitely worth checking into.

With some CRM systems you can even automate a lot of your assignments and tasks – this is a great time saver!  For example:

Let’s assign a new task to Jane, asking her to call a new lead.  That task will have all the details and instructions for that call – what to say and what questions to ask, for example:  ‘Is lead interested?’  If Jane answers ‘Yes’, the CRM automatically creates a personalized email to the lead, thanking them for their time and….’ it also creates a follow-up task for Jane to drop by their office with a welcome basket.’  How cool is that?

4. Your Sales Cycle: Here is where you can go as simple or as detailed as you need to.  Some things to think about:

  • Do you need to keep track of your sales cycle with each client?

  • If you sell products, do you need a system for keeping track of your inventory?

  • Do you need an online shopping cart?

  • Do you want to be able to invoice your clients directly from your CRM tool?

5. Your Team: How many people are in your team?  Is it just you, do you have just a few people, or is there a big team?  Size does matters when looking for the right system.

  • When working with a team you want to keep track of who is working on what

  • Do you need a social network site for your team (something that works like Twitter and Facebook, but privately for your team)?

  • If there are more people on your team – are you all using the same operating system?  [Hint:  consider using a cloud-based system so this won’t be an issue]

  • Consider looking into a time-tracking system, even if it is just you

  • Where does everyone work?  At the office?  From home?  Or are they mostly on the road?

Important To Check Out: Now that you know a little bit about what you need, ask yourself the following questions about the system you are looking at:

  • Accessibility.  With today’s technology consider looking into a cloud solution. You’ll have access to your important information no matter where you are. All you need is a computer, iPad, iPhone, or any other smart phone.

  • Security & Backup.  Is your information secure and is there continuous backup?  Obviously very important things to look into.

  • Pricing.  Know your budget and remember more expensive does not necessarily mean better (for you).

  • Export strategy.  If you do decide to leave you want to be able to easily take your information with you.

  • User friendly.  Is it easy to use and is there a good support system

  • Reviews.  Do you like what you are reading?

  • Customizable.  Are you able to change things like your dashboard, fields, reports, etc.?

  • Integration.  Does it play well with other systems like email, calendar, scanners, invoicing, online forms, etc?

  • Social Media.  Some CRM systems let you sync your contacts with social media sites, so you’ll always have the latest news and information.

Athenée Mastrangelo helps busy professionals use technology to stay organized, productive, and connected.  She is available for workshops, online training, and individual consultations.  Clients include Marriott, United Colors of Benetton, Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort, business owners, executives, and entrepreneurs.  Connect with Athenée at www.ActionChaos.com or 407-435-2170.

Technology In Business: Use It, Don’t Rely On It

Nathan Jamail-TECHNOLOGY IN BUSINESS

Grab your smartphone and check your appointments, while you’re at it, see if any of your clients have posted anything worthwhile on Facebook, tweet your new prospect, check your e-mail for any new appointment requests and then go grab lunch—what a day! More and more sales professionals are relying on technology to drive sales and increase market share; unfortunately that is the first step to staying mediocre.

More and more sales professionals are relying on technology to drive sales and increase market share. Click To Tweet

Getting sales professionals to find vertical markets and make outbound prospecting calls as well as setting sales appointments with prospective buyers (in person!) is still the best way to increase sales—period. All of the technology in the world cannot close more deals than getting in front of the decision maker, so put away those e-mail marketing techniques, fax-ready sales pitches and automatic voicemail calling systems. It is no more difficult today than it was twenty years ago; we just have new excuses.

The gatekeeper now is voicemail with a delete button versus a receptionist and a pink message pad. The great handwritten letter to the decision maker and the trashcan has been replaced with e-mail systems that have auto junk mail programs. The prospective customers have always been too busy or happy with their current product or service to meet. Principles and disciplines of getting new sales are the same today as twenty years ago; the tools and skills needed to get the appointment are new.

Make the Call

What do nice letters, great e-mails, logo gifts, catchy tag lines and marketing campaigns all have in common? Every sales person hopes that it will be the “new thing” that gets their phones to start ringing by prospective customers, but in short they are all just a “another reason for a sales person not to make a prospecting call.” No matter what marketing idea or event you use to attract prospective customers, the sales professionals still must make the follow-up call. If you are going to use a technology-based tool (e-mail campaigns, voicemail systems, etc.), use it only as a tool for you to follow up with the prospective customer, not as an excuse for you to wait for customers to call you.

Social Media is Just Another Tool; It Isn’t a Sales Plan

Social media is powerful and there are many experts that have shown and believe that social media can really help a company become better known, or take the “word-of-mouth” to another level. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are some of the great social media forums, but they alone will not increase a company’s sales. It is a nice added inexpensive media outlet (and highly encouraged!), but if social media is the primary source for a company to attract new customers or to sell their product and services then they are sure to fail.

Social Media should work in conjunction with a marketing and prospecting plan that is based on network marketing, cold calling, vertical marketing and other key prospecting activities. Prospecting is still the most difficult part of any company’s sales process, but it is not complicated. Prospecting is 90 percent discipline and 10 percent skill set. Sales professionals should take the time to learn how to maximize their social media, but they should not rely on it to make their sales. In the old day’s sales, professionals were taught to follow their dollar. This means where a sales professional spends money, they should look there for future prospects as well including friends and family; the “old” social network. Just like then, as it is now, social networking is not the only way to grow business and should not be relied upon exclusively.

If increasing sales was only about coming up with some creative way for prospects to call then companies would not need professional sales people and especially the added expense of their high salaries. If you want to increase sales in today’s economy, then use the technology of today with the disciplines and principles of yesterday. It has been said a million times and it is still true; increasing sales is simple, but not easy. People are still buying; the question is whom are they going to buy from? Make the call!

Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group, and author of the best-selling Playbook Series, is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former Executive Director, life insurance sales professional and business owner of several small businesses, Nathan travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. Nathan has worked with thousands of leaders in creating a coaching culture. Get your copy of Nathan Jamail’s most recent book released by Penguin Publishers, “The Leadership Playbook” at www.NathanJamail.com.

Your Book as Your Business Card

Indie Book Publishing Provides Professionals the Edge

By Keith Ogorek

Keith Ogorek-Book as Your Business Card

What is 6” by 9,” usually weighs roughly one pound, and is giving an increasing number of business leaders an advantage over the competition? A book.

Thanks in large part to the explosion of Indie book publishing, the use of ‘the book as a business card’ has added a new and powerful tool to the marketing arsenal of many successful business people. For a few hundred dollars, seasoned experts and professionals are putting their knowledge into professionally-published books—a calling card sure to make a much bigger impression than the traditional business card.

A prospective customer isn’t going to necessarily care who published the book—they’re going to read it and discover that you really do know what you’re talking about Click To Tweet

Marketing—especially for businesspeople in consulting and service industries—is about credibility, and a book establishes a person as someone who has reached a level of expertise. It allows readers (potential clients) to learn more about their philosophies, thought process and successful case studies, much more so than a simple brochure. And, you don’t have to be published by a major house to achieve and utilize this credibility. Authors are proving that it doesn’t matter if a book is self-published—the end result in terms of marketing benefits is the same.

Imagine one business consultant calling on prospective customers with traditional marketing materials, and another calling on the same customers and supplementing materials with a book written about the field of expertise. Who do you think has the better chance of landing that sale?

Securing extra income from book sales typically isn’t paramount for business authors. Media coverage in the form of book reviews, interviews and feature stories not only spreads the word about the author to their target business groups, but also provides excellent fodder for meetings with prospects, and priceless material for other marketing collateral.

The marketing power of TV and radio shows appearances or an expert’s book featured in various public and trade publications is undeniable. Once again, it is the book that makes the media interested in the author; another benefit of publishing.

One case in point is AuthorHouse author Stacey Hanke, whose book Everything You Need From A to A To Z To Influence Others to Take Action, has received interest from over 120 media outlets.

“My book has given me the opportunity to promote my business in ways I could not have done before,” says Hanke.

Randy Petrick, a writer, speaker, and money coach with more than thirty years of experience teaching financial concepts, has received nationwide media attention for his book Money Games: 85 Ways to Save Money and Attract Abundance. Petrick’s book and expertise has made him a particularly attractive source for the media in light of the recent economic difficulties and many Americans’ increased focus on stretching their dollars.

“Writing and publishing Money Games has been a wonderful opportunity to enhance my business as a financial consultant,” says Petrick. “I can’t imagine a better ‘business card’ in these financial times than my book.”

The expansion in the popularity of Indie book publishing, more commonly referred to as self-publishing, is drawing attention from prominent media in a time when publishing as a whole is experiencing contraction. Recent features in the Time Magazine and The New York Times draw a distinct contrast in ‘old publishing’—which was often fraught with obstacles and disappointment for prospective authors—and indie book publishing which is opening up the goal of publishing a book to everyone, including business professionals.

If you’re a business person selling your services, a prospective customer isn’t going to necessarily care who published the book—that’s not their mindset—they’re going to read it and discover that you really do know what you’re talking about, and you’ve proven it in the book.

Keith Ogorek is Vice President of Marketing for Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI) ASI, owned by Bertram Capital Management LLC, is the world leader in indie book publishing—the fastest-growing segment of publishing. ASI’s self-publishing brands: AuthorHouse, AuthorHouse UK, iUniverse, Xlibris, Wordclay and Inkubook; have helped more than 70,000 authors self-publish, promote, and bring to market more than 100,000 new titles. In 2008, one out of every 20 new U.S. titles was published by an ASI brand—more than any publisher in the world. Headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana; ASI also operates offices in New York City; Indianapolis; Milton Keynes, England; and Cebu, Philippines. Visit www.authorsolutions.com or call 877-655-1722 for more information.

The Threat of “Do-Not-Mail”

Peter DeHaan: Author, Blogger, Publisher, EditorBy Peter DeHaan

Five years ago, the call center industry was confronted head on with the DNC (Do-Not-Call) legislation. As millions signed up to block most telemarketing calls to their home, the pool of prospect numbers shrank dramatically. Since then, the face of outbound calling in the United States has been unalterably changed. Today, DNC registration has surged past the 100 million mark, with more residences now on the list than not. The latest development is that phone numbers on the registry have been made permanent, not expiring after five years as originally planned.

Given the immense popular support of the DNC legislation, politicians – seeing an opportunity to win votes and generate good PR – began introducing all sorts of bills to further regulate and restrict the manner and mode of marketing efforts. One such area of attack is “Do-Not-Mail” legislation.

According to Jerry Cerasale, SVP of Government Affairs for the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), there are currently Do-Not-Mail bills pending in eleven states: Hawaii (both in the house and senate), Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington. Soon, enough states will have joined this initiative that a tipping point will occur, prompting action at the federal level. (Federal action is not all bad, as it will help usher in a single set of regulations with which to comply, hopefully replacing a patchwork of differing and diverging state requirements.)

According to the USPS 2007 Annual Report, over 74 billion pieces of mail were sent last year. Direct mail was cited by Cerasale to account for about one third of that.

The Do-Not-Mail bills pose a danger to the cost-effective viability of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The USPS management, staff, delivery schedule, and infrastructure all operate at a requisite level of mail volume. The revenues generated from that mail supports the current scale of operation and efficiency at the post office. If revenues drop, then the operational status quo cannot be supported and maintained. The result would be either that prices would need to take a huge jump or services would need to be drastically curtailed. This could include the hours that post offices are open, closing smaller, less used offices, eliminating Saturday delivery, or only delivering mail every other day. (One option is that half the routes would be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the rest would be Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Another option would simply be to pick up and deliver mail every other day, Monday through Friday.)

This is not a far-fetched scenario. Since about one third of all mail is direct mail, as Do-Not-Mail bills are implemented, the number of households to which unsolicited mail could be legally sent would decrease. Imagine a national Do-Not-Mail law with the same popularity and registration level as DNC. A large percentage of direct mail would cease to be sent, the USPS revenues would fall, and huge postage increases and/or dramatic service cuts would be made. Just as DNC permanently changed outbound call centers, Do-Not-Mail would forever and irrevocably affect postal service.

Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit www.peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

How to Make a Book Cover Design that Flies Off the Shelf!

By Karen Saunders

Karen Saunders-BOOK COVER DESIGN

According to “The Wall Street Journal”, “The average bookstore browser who picks up a book spends eight seconds looking at the front cover and 15 seconds reading the back.” You can’t tell—but you can sell—a book by its cover.” Here are a few powerful book cover design techniques that professional book designers use:

The essential elements for your front cover

The front cover presents your book title, subtitle, and your name. Golden opportunities often overlooked are including endorsements and short testimonials from VIPs.

Think of your cover like a billboard. The best designs communicate the book’s message at a glance, with simple, uncluttered design. Unique, distinctive, bold, colorful graphics work well. But keep the graphic style consistent with the content and personality of the book. Make sure there is a central focal point to your design. Book cover design is a form of packaging—and good packaging attracts buyers to products. Click To Tweet

I recommend using bold, contrasting lettering on the front cover. When choosing colors, consider how these colors will look when converted to black and white so your cover will reproduce well in black and white ads, catalogs, and flyers. Also make sure the font you use for the title is legible from a distance and appropriate for the book’s subject.

Covers that scream “amateur” and have a “made-at-home look” make it difficult to sell your book at all. If you lack talent in this area, seek the services of an experienced book cover designer. A professional designer has the creativity, skills, software, access to stock photography, and printing knowledge that will make your cover stand out above others in the marketplace.

What should you put on your spine

Your name, book title, and publishing company logo show up on the spine. Make sure the information on the spine is clean, uncluttered, and legible. I recommend using bold, contrasting lettering on the spine as well.

Critical items you should include on your back cover

Place the category name in the upper left-hand corner to help bookstores shelve your book properly. Write a headline that clearly addresses who should buy the book. It should be followed by sales copy explaining what the book is about. Then provide a short bulleted list of benefits to readers.

I recommend including no more than three testimonials and endorsements, as well as your bio and photograph. Close to the bottom, put “sales-closer” copy in bold print. Position the price in the lower left corner of the back cover. Also include the 13-digit ISBN number for cataloging and the bar code in the lower right corner (below ISBN number), which stores use for scanning information and price.

Don’t forget to include credits for your book cover’s illustrator, photographer, and/or designer.

What goes on the inside flaps (If Applicable)

  • Sales copy
  • Short “teaser” description of the book
  • Your bio and photo

You now have a good idea of what makes a strong book cover design. Remember, book cover design is a form of packaging—and good packaging attracts buyers to products. That’s why successful organizations spend millions researching and developing the best product packaging possible.

Karen Saunders is the author of the e-book, “Turn Eye Appeal into Buy Appeal: How to easily transform your marketing pieces into dazzling, persuasive sales tools!” Karen has produced thousands of successful marketing projects and has designed the covers of 18 books that have become best-sellers or won awards, including a “Writer’s Digest” Grand Prize winner for the best self-published book in America. Contact her at 888-796-7300.