June 26, 2011

Appreciation Marketing – So, You Have a Mousetrap

Recently, I was chatting with a new acquaintance and, of course, the topic of marketing arose.  We started talking about why everyone needs to have a marketing plan and not just look for sales.  Both of us had heard others say that they did not have time to develop a marketing plan since they are concentrating on selling.

There are many resources available for those of you who need to refine your sales techniques.  There are also resources available to help with developing your marketing efforts.  Everyone should utilize all the resources available to improve ourselves in both areas, marketing as well as sales.

Sales and marketing are not the same effort, and I wonder about companies with “Sales and Marketing” departments, where everyone wears both hats.  Usually they really do not have two hats; they are only interested in sales.  The two efforts are not the same.  While they must interface, they are not the same.

Marketing does not result from sales; sales result from marketing.  Marketing is building relationships and refining the impressions that you make with others.  Marketing is how your company presents itself to the world.  It is the image that you portray to the public, to both your prospects and to those who will never become customers.  It is “telling the world that you exist” and how you accomplish that “telling”.

Let’s say that you invent the perfect mousetrap.  This mousetrap not only catches every rat or rodent there is; it also makes your morning coffee, does the dishes, sweeps the floors, and makes the beds.  If no one knows who you are, what you have for sale, or how to contact you, you do not sell many of them.   You will probably still have them for your next garage sale.

You must market yourself and your product.  It is not enough to just have something that people should purchase; you need to publicize what you have and how wonderful it is.  Remember that people do business with those that they know, like, and trust.  They chose their business partners based more on the individuals that they know more than based on the companies involved.

With out a doubt, networking is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to market.  You let others know about what you have, how to contact you, and how you may help them.  You establish networking relationships with others, working with them to build mutual success for both of you.  You develop those relationships and also develop your networking skills.

Mutual success means that you are building relationships with your networking partners whether they are customers or not.  You are trying to help each other succeed, and you become marketers for each other through providing referrals, letting others know what you know. Wouldn’t you like your marketing to be accomplished with the assistance of some unpaid spokespeople?

If you would like to leave a comment, please do so.  Otherwise, you may email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or you can call me at 360-314-8691.  I look forward to hearing from you, and maybe we can become partners in marketing.

June 19, 2011

Appreciation Marketing – What Do You Have: Clients, or Customers?

We talk a lot about “customers”, and sometimes we discuss “clients”.  What is the difference, and which do you want: clients, or customers?  Do the terms make a difference, and what do the words mean for you?  Is there the same difference for everyone?  In my opinion, there is a difference between the terms “clients” and “customers”.

We have discussed that we all should have networking partners, those people with whom you have a relationship that fosters your mutual success.  All your business relationships do not always become customers or clients.  However, they still may be valuable partners in your success.

What are customers?  They are the people who have a business relationship with you, buying your product or service.  They may also be someone from whom you buy products or services.  Someone does not have to be a customer for the two of you to pass referrals or advice or other assistance.  That is part of being a networking partner.

In my opinion, the term “customer” implies a shallower relationship, someone who just receives your product or service for the price that they pay.  The relationship usually stops there.  Not everyone defines the word in this manner, and I certainly do not imply that those of you who use this term do not “go the extra mile” for your customers.  Many of you do.

I consider everyone who trusts me to provide a service to be a “client”.  This is someone for whom I provide a valid service for a valid price, dealing with them in a professional manner.  It is also someone to whom I will show that I am passionate about my service, providing them the best support both before and after the purchase.  Finally, the relationship is one in which both of us can be personable, being at ease with each other and totally honest.

Does that mean that others are not professional, passionate, or personable with their customers?  No; it just is my way of holding myself to the highest business standard for which I can strive.  It is also my way of urging others to attain that level.  The term “client” implies to me that I have to provide the best service possible, pushing myself to be the best there is, stepping up my efforts when I meet someone else who does the same.

Perhaps a client is someone whom you advise not to purchase a product or service from you when it will not be in their best interest.  Perhaps a customer is someone who is difficult to coach in the best use of your product or service.  Perhaps you do not consider that there is a difference between the two terms.  Perhaps you believe that each is the same as the other.

I need that little kick in the backside sometimes to remind myself that I need to frequently review my behavior toward those with whom I do business.  I also know that I appreciate those with whom I do business who treat me as a client rather than a customer.  I always take this “treating others as I want to be treated” as my guiding light and standard.

While I do not mean to argue with those of you who consider your business relationships as customers instead of clients; I am just pointing out that sometimes we need to “push” ourselves with our marketing terms.  Whatever works for you may not work for all of us, but realize that your marketing terminology may impact you as well as those to whom that marketing is directed.

I anticipate this posting provoking all levels of comments from people who either agree with me or not.  Please leave me those comments or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com or call me at 360-314-8691.  I answer my phone, I return messages, and I respond to emails.

June 12, 2011

Appreciation Marketing – What Does “No” Mean?

Appreciation Marketing means that you show appreciation for everyone, whether they are your current clients, your prospects, or your other relationships.  How does Appreciation Marketing relate if your prospect tells you “No” when you attempt to add them to your client list.

Of course, whenever we discuss our products or services with our prospects, we try to “close” the sale with them.  If we have done our job as well as we should, we have covered, and answered, all the objections that the prospect could raise.  Usually, the best approach is to go directly at the objective before the prospect raises the issue.

There are many resources for sales persons to reference that will teach closing, and pre-closing, techniques.  They will not be covered here other than to say that you should look at several of them, try as many as you wish, but rehearse them so that they are second nature to you.  There is nothing worse than someone who is not prepared with information about their offering or about their prospect.

Correction; there is something worse that that.  It is someone who is not prepared, who just wants the sale, and who doesn’t really care about the relationship with the client, or about their clients themselves.  Prospects do business with people that they know, like, and trust.  You must establish yourself as someone who genuinely cares about the prospect, establishes a relationship with them, whether they become a client or not, and will continue the relationship after the sales call.

People who establish relationships with others do more than sell to their clients; they have a relationship that promotes referrals, the sharing of ideas, and assisting each other towards mutual success in their business and personal lives.  Others just want the sale, spending as little time and effort as possible so they can go after the next prospect.  Who do you want to do business with if you were the prospect, which you are each and every day?

Appreciation Marketing is treating others as you want to be treated.  How do you feel when someone attempts a “hard sell” on you, not learning anything about you first, or attempting to sell you with “smoke and mirrors”?  Seriously, is that how you want to be treated?  Would you rather be a “client” or just a “customer”, or even worse, just a “sale”?

Sales people who establish relationships with their prospects have a genuine interest in their prospects’ success, their problems, and their lives.  They care about the relationship and what it can mean for both of them.  Relationships are two way streets, providing something for both parties, with ebb and flow over time.

What about the prospect who does not say “Yes” when you attempt to close the sale?  What about the relationship when the prospect does not agree that you have exactly what they need or want?  Maybe the time is not right; maybe the prospect is not comfortable even though you did all that you should have done in your sales technique.

In this case, make the process a learning experience for you; make it a “practice” for a successful sales call later with another prospect.  Perhaps your relationship is so comfortable with the prospect that you could ask them why they didn’t let you close the sale.  After all, they are the one who should know.  The relationship must be such that it will continue to flourish and benefit both parties.

Previously, I thought “Next” when I lost a sale; now, I think “Later”.  Each and every opportunity for a sale must be the best time for both parties.  If the prospect doesn’t let me close the sale now, I believe that as the relationship progresses, the time will be “right” in the future.  Then my partner in the relationship will remember my appreciation and patience.

If you would like to leave a comment, please do so.  If you want to know more, email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com or even better, call me at 360-314-8691.  I answer my phone, or return messages, and respond to emails.

June 5, 2011

Appreciation Marketing – Reconnecting with the Past

In the June, 2011, edition of The Costco Connection Wally Amos discuss putting “off doing things - calling old friends, apologizing for errors made in judgment, following up on an idea”.  Wally writes about his desire to contact a former friend who was dying of cancer.

As many of us, Wally meant well; he intended to call his friend, but he kept putting if off for various reasons.  Finally, Wally called his friend and was connected with voice mail, and he decided to call another friend who was a mutual acquaintance.  This person told him that the other friend had passed away two days before.

Wally realized that his call would not have saved his friend’s life, but maybe it would have made him laugh or smile.  At the worse, he may have made his friend’s final days easier through shared memories.  In addition, it would have given Wally some peace.

As you go about your business and personal life (remember that it is one life, and you cannot separate the two), think of someone that you need to contact.  We all have people that we have put off calling or writing, someone from our past.  Do it now; do the right thing, before it is too late.

What about someone to whom you should apologize?  It is never too late for you to say that you are sorry for something that you have done wrong.  Take ownership of your error, take responsibility for what you have done, apologize, and make it right.  We have discussed before that it is not that you made an error, it is what you do after the mistake is made, that counts.

Is there ever an error or mistake from which you cannot recover?  Have you ever been the victim of a mistake that you will not forgive?  If there is, that doesn’t mean that you should not attempt to apologize; you should always attempt to make things right.  That is good business; that is doing the right thing.

What about that idea that you had to try something new and different?  Did you follow up on it?  Did you try that new marketing plan, even on a trial basis, even with a few prospects?  What about contacting those former clients who left your business; did you ever ask them why they stopped ordering from you?  Why not?

The secret of attending networking events is not just in meeting new prospects or seeing old friends again.  The secret of success is in the follow up.  Call new prospects and get to know them; send a card to an old friend saying that it was good to see them again.  Ask people how they are and what they are doing now; maybe you will find a need for what you have.  Maybe it will just be the right thing to do.

You do not want your personal life to be decided by the lack of follow up.  You also do not want your business life to be defined that way.  Would’ve, should’ve, could’ve – those are the worst words that anyone can say or hear.  As Wally Amos warns, do not say “I wish I had.”  Either in business or your personal life, you must “Do it Now”.

Please let me know how you think of these thoughts.  You can leave me your comments, email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me to chat at 360-314-8691.  I always value your input and ideas.