Tag Archives: marketing

Marketing Your Business: Get More for Less

By Pam LontosPam Lontos

As a business owner or leader, you always need to make sure you’re perceived as the expert in your industry and that you’re getting your marketing messages out in the right way. But with so much hype and conflicting advice these days about the best way to market your product, services, or company, how can any business owner know the best marketing path to take?

Implement the following marketing tips today and watch your profits soar.

1. Know What Makes You Unique: Yes, your company sells certain products or services, and you probably have years of expertise in what your company offers, but if you’re going to market and brand yourself as an expert, you have to know what makes you unique. So sit down and write out all the things that make you different, unique, special, and one-of-a-kind.

Chances are there are many experts, just like you, in your niche or industry. You’re not the only expert. So why should someone buy from you or hire you over your competitors? What do you offer that no one else does?  What are your credentials?  For example:

  • Did you grow a large business from nothing?
  • Did you turnaround a well-known organization?
  • Were you a leader or manager of a high-profile company?
  • Did you develop a system that consistently gets great results?
  • Have you personally used your system to lose weight, build a business, solve a major business or societal problem?

Whatever you identify as your unique element, you need to promote that fact in all you do. Even if you’ve been in business for years, you need to do this exercise too. There are always newcomers coming into your field, so you have to continually differentiate yourself as the best and your company in order to stay on top.

2. Identify Your Markets: No business can successfully market themselves to every sector of the population. So look at what makes you unique and choose one key demographic that makes sense for you to market to. For example, you may decide targeting older Baby Boomers makes the most sense for your products or services.

Next, see if you can expand that market so you can have two distinct demographics to target—the first is a niche industry or sector and the second is broader. Look at what’s a natural extension of your main demographic and target that additional segment. You’ll find that focusing on two key demographics will make your marketing efforts easier and more effective.

3. Promote the Bottom Line Results You Deliver: When marketing their company, many business owners fall into the trap of constantly touting why their company, products, or services are so great. They say and write things like, “We’ve been around for 20 years,” “We sell the best solutions in the industry,” and “We’ve won numerous awards.”  In truth, no one cares about accolades like that.

Instead of talking about how great you and your company are, talk about the results you’ll deliver to customers.  Use phrases such as, “Increase your bottom line,” “This home is close to your children’s school,” or “Get the highest earnings with the lowest risk.” Just as you analyze the bottom line results of any investment you make, your customers do the same thing—only they’re looking at the bottom line results for them and their families. The only way to know what matters most to your customers is to ask them. So send a survey or personally ask your long-term clients what’s important to them and what kind of results they get by using your products or services. Then, talk about those things in your marketing messages.

4. Don’t Forget Direct Mail: Finally, let’s not forget that direct mail pieces (sales letters and postcards) are still a great way to market your business. Key elements of your direct mail piece are:

A strong headline that stresses how you’re going to help them (the benefit your products or services offer). Depending on what you sell, you might talk about losing weight, having a cleaner home, feeling healthier, increasing productivity, etc.

  • Testimonials from satisfied customers.
  • A breakdown of the problems your target audience is facing AND your solution for each one.
  • A list of any articles you’ve had published in an industry or association magazine, or any local media appearances.
  • A call to action. Clearly state the next step you want people to take: “Call me today,” “Visit my website,” “Request more information,” etc.

Show people that you’re “in the know” when it comes to their issues and that you’re the best person to help them solve those challenges.

Market Smart: Being a business owner is one of the most rewarding professions. In what other career can you share your expertise, control your professional future, meet lots of interesting people, and make a difference in the lives of others? But to do all this well, you have to continually market your company, products, and services. By using the strategies outlined here, you’ll be better able to stand out from the competition and market your business to new levels of success.

Pam Lontos is President of Pam Lontos Consulting. Pam consults with businesses and experts in the areas of sales, marketing, and publicity. Pam founded PR/PR Public Relations and is a past vice president of sales for Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting where she raised sales 500%. She is the author of “I See Your Name Everywhere: Leverage the Power of the Media to Grow your Fame, Wealth and Success.” For more information on her consulting services, call 407-522-8630, email PamLontos@gmail.com.

Does Your Product Have a Lasting Story?

By Jim SignorelliJim Signorelli

By the late 1960s, Xerox had risen to become a highly successful global brand. Having a Xerox machine in the office became a necessity. Now, with a well-established name, they decided to cultivate other ambitions. Xerox wanted to get into computer technology and data processing. The company spent many years and millions of dollars before it finally threw in the towel.

It should come as no surprise that once a brand is strongly associated with a certain product, it is difficult, if not impossible to change perceptions. Yet, marketing history is rife with examples of companies expecting their well-established brand names to help them introduce new products. Chiquita had to admit defeat after trying to convince us that Chiquita stands for more than bananas. Country Time Lemonade was forced to stop trying to sell Country Time Apple Cider.   Ponds barely got out of the starting gates with Ponds toothpaste before it quit. There are thousands of stories like these.

But one could argue that Apple is proving to be the exception as it has gone from a brand of computers to a brand of phones, iPads, televisions, and who-knows-what’s next. Nike is yet another exception as it has grown from making running shoes to becoming a successful seller of athletic equipment and apparel. Branson keeps adding to the list of products with which his brand Virgin is helping make successful. How does this happen?

It happens because Apple has never been just a company selling computers, Nike has never just been about selling running shoes, and Virgin can sell just about anything it wants to. Why? Because they aren’t selling brands, they are selling stories.

A brand has one layer, a brand story has two. Both have outer layers consisting of functional benefits or the results that can be achieved by using a given product. However, the brand story has an additional inner layer that gives it distance and longevity. It’s like the golf ball’s compacted core that keeps it in the air longer than a tennis ball when hit. The brand story’s inner layer is more than just air. It’s made up of very real values and beliefs.

When we buy brands, we buy products differentiated by function. When we buy brands that have become stories, we buy important meanings.

If your brand is nothing more than an outer layer, no doubt, growth has an expiration date. The good news is that it’s never too late to find and communicate your brand’s meaning, perhaps something Xerox should have thought about before trying to sell computers. That said, there are some challenges that must be met:

Your inner layer must be authentic. It’s one thing for your brand’s inner layer to be associated with the value of ‘wow service.’ But that value is quickly devalued when a customer is put on hold for 20 minutes waiting to talk with customer service. It’s one thing for your brand’s inner layer to be associated with the value of simplicity, yet another when your customer is presented with too many buying restrictions. What you believe and what you do must be inextricably linked. Keep in mind that the truth behind your brand story is constantly being scrutinized via social media. Your truth must therefore be demonstrated and reinforced through every point of contact. Inconsistency is the bane of authenticity.

Audiences don’t care what you think your inner layer is. They care about what they think it is. Unlike outer layers, inner layers are more a function of what your audience sees for themselves as opposed to what you tell them to see. When we purchase a given brand, in effect we are hiring it. How much credence would you put in a job candidate who proclaims, “I believe in teamwork” or “I value hard work”?   It’s not enough to be told what someone believes. That belief must be shown or demonstrated.

Too often, we see advertising tag lines like, “excellence is all around you,” or “where service matters.”  However, the best brands don’t get in their own way with brag and boast statements of self-description. Instead, they communicate their inner layers through mantra’s like, “Think Different,” “Just Do it,” or “Never Stop Exploring,” ideals that resonate with existing beliefs that their audiences share. These are more than just tag lines. They are true theme lines that speak to the significance of their brands’ stories.

Your brand must solve problems and provide opportunities. But if all you’re doing is telling prospects about what your product does and/or how it does it is better than similar products, you are telling them a story that is all plot with no important theme. To standout as special, your brand must complete the story with the consistent proof of your brand’s belief system. Every product then becomes a new chapter of a bigger story. Think story, not brand or product and you’ll last longer and go further.

Jim Signorelli is CEO and founder of esw StoryLab Marketing, one of Chicago’s top advertising agencies according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Prior to starting his own agency, Jim crafted a successful career at major advertising agencies throughout the U.S. His agency has been named to Inc.’s top 5000 list three years running. Jim is also a speaker and author of the best-seller, “StoryBranding: Creating Stand-Out Brands Through the Power of Story.”

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.