Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Breaking up is hard to do. (When clients leave.)

This post is dedicated to those of us who deal with a small number of clients.  We invest time, thought, energy, and creativity into our client relationships.  It's business, but it's personal, too.  But even the best of these relationships may end.

Clients leave. It’s a fact of life, right? But it’s not fun, especially when a client starts working with a competitor. AAARGH!

How should you handle it when a client leaves? The “less said the better” approach is a good idea, but what if you're asked directly?

I say, take the high road. When asked where Acme Corp. is, explain that they now work with Mammoth, Pervasive and Bland. “Why?” will be the next logical question. Respond as honestly, objectively, and non-judgmentally as you can. “Oh, they thought they'd get a better deal.” or "They just thought they needed a change." And of course, you’ll be friendly with your former client.

Advantages to taking the high road?
  1. You send a clear message to your other clients, prospects, and community that you’re classy. They’ll all think well of you.
  2. It’s a small world after all. The way you behave toward a former client can either build a good reputation or a bad one. Which do you want?
  3. “What goes around comes around.” “You reap what you sow.” Pick your proverb. They’re true. Whether you behave well or badly, it will come back to haunt you. So why not behave well?
Knowledge is power. So use the knowledge that some clients will leave to power a marketing program that brings in new ones. After all, the best defense is a good offense.

http://youtu.be/5JJVAw1qchA  (Neil Sedaka on Shindig in 1965)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"You don't own me" On keeping customers by treating them right

http://youtu.be/-gx-mknOV54   (Leslie Gore original)

You work hard to attract customers, right? Mailings, a great sales force, ads, publicity. But what are you doing to keep them?  You don't own them, so they could move to your competitors if the grass looks greener over there.

Business wisdom says current customers are your best source for ongoing business. After all, they already know and trust you. Whether they bring you referrals, product sales, or monthly retainers, customers are the life blood of your operation. Communication -- sharing information and knowledge -- is a good way to keep customer relationships healthy and keep customers happily corralled. 

Here are some communications programs that work well with customers.

1)  BLOGS or NEWSLETTERS - You have expertise and information customers need. Streamline the communication process by sharing that expertise in a newsletter or blog.  This lets you package and brand key information so your firm is seen as an expert. Make sure your staff members know about these tools so they can use them with customers and prospects.

2)  WEBINARS - Better educated customers are BETTER customers. Get credit for providing the knowledge by sponsoring webinars, seminars, workshops, and clinics.

3)  SOCIAL MEDIA - Is your audience using LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to get information about your service?  If they're there, you need to be there, too.  Once you've established your presence, you can use it to treat your "fans" to exclusive deals, early access to information, special tips and tricks, whatever's of value to them.

4)  WEBSITE – The Internet is a popular information source. Use it! At minimum set up a basic site prospective customers can visit. Even better, set up a customers-only section that's password protected. Fill the section with information customers want - articles, tip sheets, a forum for posting questions and getting expert answers, downloadable forms, handbooks, etc.  Not sure what to include? Poll some of your best customers.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

1-2-3 Elementary keys to direct mail success

 http://youtu.be/Wh1Pry1yUjI   (Len Barry, Hullabaloo, go-go boots, The Pony....  The 60s were fun times.)

Success with direct mail is really as easy as 1, 2, 3.  Whether surface mail or -mail, it's a great way to get response from a defined audience.  Just watch these three things:

1.    THE LIST

Of course, you want your message to reach the RIGHT people. So having a good list is critical.  If you’re purchasing a list, ask to test a small number of names before investing in the full thing.

You can expect 1-3% wrong addresses.   Keep track of the number of bad addresses.  You may be able to get money back from your list provider if you get more than 3%.


Think of all the stuff that collects in your inbox.  A mailer needs to break through that clutter.   Entice the recipient to open and read it. 

So have some fun. Maybe take a risk.  Different creative approaches can be tested to find what works best.


Direct mail is all about response.  So offer something attractive to spur it – a trinket, rebate, coupon, or informational pamphlet.  Be creative.  You can test offers, too, to find the one that works best..

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

THINK! The importance of planning

The Queen of Soul said it well.  THINK!

I happen to think that thinking before you act is critically important.  That's why I advocate developing a marketing plan.  But how about you?

Does the idea of developing an annual plan for your activities make you wince? Recoil in horror? Break out in hives? If so, you're probably laboring under some serious misconceptions.

MYTH: Planning takes too much time.

REALITY: Taking time up front to establish objectives, define your audience and messages, and determine preliminary budgets saves you time later. Your programs will be on-target and yield better results. Plus, setting objectives means you have something to measure results against so you can improve programs over time.

Planning is expensive.

Planning can make your programs more cost effective. As you plan the year you can create a projected budget. This allows you to pre-determine how much money to allocate to each activity. If you're comparing results to objectives, you can direct funding toward programs that work best.

Plans are rigid.  We'll be locked in.

Good plans are living documents that evolve based on market conditions, product development timetables, you name it. While planning requires discipline, plan implementation requires an equal measure of flexibility.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Respect the customer. 7 tips to make sure your marketing does just that.


 R-E-S-P-E-C-T   You know what can happen if your marketing messages don't respect your customers.  Think DOOM and DISASTER.  Think New Coke!  Here are things you can do to avoid these bad outcomes.
  1. Do your homework.  Study your customers.  Find out what that they like.  What they do.  What they want and need.  What's important to them.  
  2. Apply what you learn.   After you've gathered the information, analyze it and find where you can meet a need...solve a problem.  Make that your core message.
  3. Be interesting.  You need to grab attention. It's hard to bore someone into buying.  Maybe humor will do the trick.  An intriguing visual and headline.  An eye-catching presentation.
  4. Be engagingThe very best marketing doesn't sound like marketing.  It sounds like one person talking to another.  A conversation.
  5. Tell the truth.  Folks are very good at sniffing out untruths.  And they're suspicious of hype.  Why risk ruining your reputation with even a small fabrication?
  6. Be persuasive but not pushy.  You have a good story to tell, so tell it.  But if you get too aggressive, you may get pushed back.
  7. Invite feedback.   Check with your customers to see how you're doing.  What you learn can inform future marketing and make your programs better.
 After all, showing respect is key.

http://youtu.be/h7ZGevA4T5E  (Check out the back-up singers!)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Don't you forget about me


Who remembers these 80s classics -- the movie, The Breakfast Club and the song, Don't You Forget About Me? 

When you're running a business, if you want success, you don't want to be forgotten. It’s not just about what you know OR even who you know, but WHO KNOWS YOU.

Selling starts with awareness because prospects need to know about a product before they’ll buy.  But awareness is so basic many business people overlook it. Sadly, lack of awareness (being forgotten) will stymie business growth every time.

How do you create awareness? You need to be visible. These tools can help you:
  • WEB/SOCIAL  Electronic channels are quickly becoming essential.  You'll need to figure out which ones your audience uses and how.  Then develop a plan for how you'll use the vehicles to reach the right folks with the right messages.
  • ADVERTISING: Often the most effective and cost-efficient way to create awareness if you have a broad audience that can be reached through publications, broadcast or other avenues.
  • PUBLIC RELATIONS: Product releases, features and case histories can get the word out about your product. This can be a slow way to build awareness, but the cost is less than advertising.
  • DIRECT MAIL/EMAIL:  A good list is essential – whether you’re sending your message email or surface mail.
  • TRADE SHOWS/EVENTS: This is like retail. Attendees come to learn about new products, to “kick the tires”,  and they may want to be entertained as well. This is your chance to add some flash and sizzle to your presence. Make it fun, but make it meaningful, too.
A combination of all the above can be very effective. Just be sure to repeat, Repeat, REPEAT your message over time so it sinks in.  Don't be forgotten!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Girls just wanna have fun

I've been doing Voice of the Customer research on my own while working as a food demonstrator at a large grocery chain. 100% of the time, the selling points provided by the manufacturer are dull, dull, dull. Where's the fun?! What people respond to is FUN.  An upbeat attitude and a playful manner trumps zero transfats, low sodium, and all natural ingredients every time.

"You can't BORE someone into buying your product." So I'm told by a wise friend. Memorable consumer ads have a funny or dramatic hook to get you involved.

But what about the serious world of B2B marketing communications? Aren't we just presenting facts? 

Certainly facts are important, but ONLY in terms of what's relevant to your buyer. To be relevant you need to understand how users benefit from using your product or service. If you aren't sure, ask! A little research can go a long way toward building your company's sales success. 

Once your message is relevant, it's time to develop a personality. People buy from other people, right? Since they're your company's public face, marketing communications pieces need to present a consistent, likeable personality. 

Injecting humor can do this. It might be light-hearted visuals or tongue-in-cheek headlines. Either way humor requires that you relax and take a fresh look at what you're selling. It can be tricky but pay off big-time.  Done right, an attitude of fun creates a strong bond with prospects.

Here's a little 80s fun to inspire you:
      http://youtu.be/HId2jQBEbYY   (live in Paris)

Love that Cyndi!