June 24, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Schmooze, Don’t Sell

I borrowed the first word of this week’s topic from the Schmooze event in Portland and the LinkedIn group.  This is a marketing topic that is meaningful to every business person, and to every person who is interested in marketing anything, even themselves for a new career.  Whatever it is that you are promoting, you need to market to other people.

If you intend to market a product or service, or even your own talent, you need to network with others.  That means that you need to attend networking events where you can meet other business people to whom you can market what you have.  At networking events you need to schmooze with other people, not attempt to sell them.  I often meet business people who tell me that networking does not result in sales.  They are correct, it doesn't.  It results in marketing opportunities for you to meet others, get to know them and their needs, and for them to get to know you and your needs.

Those opportunities to market to others are the foundation of future sales.  When you attend a networking event, don’t even bring a sales form or contract with you.  The person who believes that they will leave a networking event with a newly signed client will be disappointed.  This is a chance for you to meet someone with whom you can later meet again and discuss what they do and need.  It is a chance for them to discover the same about you.  Then, after you have developed a relationship, sales may be possible between the two of you.

Notice that we did not say that you attempt to sell to the other person after the initial meeting.  People buy from those people who they know, like, and trust.  Only through meeting them again can you discover whether the three criteria are present.  In addition, in this second meeting, or a later one, you can position yourself to receive referrals from this other person, whether or not you have sold anything to them.  Teach them to put money into your pocket through the people that they know, or meet, who may need what you have to sell.

Throughout this process of meeting them multiple times and forming a networking partnership, do not attempt to sell them anything until you determine if they need whatever you have.  Once you have formed this relationship, you can move from schmoozing to attempting to sell to them.  At that point, the selling phase will be easier, simpler, and less prone to failure because you will know each other.  You then relate to the person as a person, not as a sales person.

Marketing and sales are not the same action or set of actions.  Marketing is letting others know about you, your business, what you have for them, and how you function as a person.  Sales is the consummation of your marketing, after you determine that the other person actually needs what you have and the other person determines that they need whatever you have.  Do your marketing right, and sales will follow; people will actually ask you to sell them what they need.  This happens because you schmooze, not sell, when you first meet others.

Ever tried this process, or do you start to sell the minute that you meet someone?  How is that working for you?  Try this process and see how it flows for you.  Then give us your comments here for everyone to share, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.  Your prospects will appreciate you more for the fact that you care about getting to know them and what they need.  Your sales, and referrals, will be better, easier to get, and more abundant.

June 17, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Good Communication Is a Must

Communication is the heartbeat of the business world.  Businesses must communicate with their customers, and businesses must welcome and encourage communications from their customers.  No business can exist and prosper if their customers, and prospects, do not know that their business exists, what they have for their customers, and how to purchase from the business.  Moreover, businesses must encourage and listen to customers as they attempt to communicate with them.

No one will buy from you if they don’t know that you are in business, or if your prospects don’t know what you have to sell.  If they cannot contact you or cannot navigate your buying process, they cannot exchange funds for product or service.  It is common sense that drives the success or failure of a business.  Make yourself and your business available to the public and then they can make a purchase decision.  Make it easy for others to do business with you, and they will.

On the other hand, businesses must listen to their clients and prospects.  They must discover what their target market actually needs, and, if they can meet those needs, endeavor to make that information available to the public.  If you ignore what your prospects and clients need, you attempt to fill the wrong need, perhaps one that doesn’t exist at all.  Then you will fail to help anyone, including yourself.

Do you stop listening when you have made the sale to your customer?  Not at all; situations change, both for your business and that of your clients and prospects.  Maybe you develop, or improve, your product line; maybe you change your pricing or package contents.  What if you fail to tell all your prospects that you have made changes to your pricing and/or products?  You will miss out on all those prospects that were not ready to buy from you before you made those changes if they do not hear about the new possibilities that these changes mean.

What about the quality of this communication process?  It is no good to communicate “fluff”.  You must be honest and above reproach.  If you do not tell the truth, or engage in half-truths, your deceit will be discovered.  Deceit, and that is what it is, will be the death of your customer relations.  The public is very unforgiving if you lie to them.  If you make a mistake in your communication, just like a mistake in service, acknowledge it and take steps to correct the error.  Make up for it and reassure everyone that you will prevent the error from happening again.  This is very different than if you communicate an untruth in facts.

You must encourage your customer feedback to be open and honest.  The two-way communication between your business and the public must be comfortable, honest, and open to input by both sides.  Welcome client input, make it a priority, and actually listen.  Then, either respond as to why you will not alter your business practices as clients might want or make changes and communicate them to everyone.  Nothing might be as popular as a change that is a response to a client request.  Don’t leave out your vendors and employees in the communication process.  The two-way process must include these parties also.

So how is your communication process?  Do you speak with everyone in open and honest ways?  Do you encourage input and suggestions, no matter how crazy they may be?  Do you listen and try to get others to do the same?  Get comfortable and take the time to talk.  Let us hear your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.  How well do you communicate and listen?  Do you ever just sit down and chat with anyone?

June 10, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Procrastination, The Art of Failure

Procrastination is one of the worst practices that you can adopt.  While being dishonest or unethical rank high with failed businesses, procrastination can kill a business very quickly.  We can all work hard to develop our prospects, maintain our customer base, and keep abreast of new marketing trends and ideas, but we can lose our competitive edge by allowing procrastination to take over our practices.

Does everyone that you know or meet, know what your business is?  Are you ashamed of what you do for a living?  Your neighbors, your family, everyone that you know must know what your business is.  What if your neighbor tells you about this great product or service that they just purchased from your competitor or someone else in your company?  Don’t want to impose on your neighbors or friends?  You are doing them a disservice by not sharing great products or services with them.  What if they have a great referral for you that you may miss by keeping your business a secret?

Procrastination’s most prominent aspect is lack of follow up with your prospects and clients.  You must follow up with everyone.  Do not prejudge anyone; always treat everyone as a potential client, every client as a potential referral source, and every referral as a valued prospect.  Follow up, follow up, and follow up with everyone; omit no one from your follow up.  Businesses have many new clients as a result of their consistent, persistent follow up.

Think that you can put off contacting that referral that someone gave to you?  You do a disservice to the person giving it to you if you delay.  Also, don’t forget to thank the person giving that referral to you, letting them know how much you appreciate them putting money into your pocket.  If the referral didn’t work out well, tell the referring party how much you appreciated the referral, but also let them know why it didn’t work out.

One of the aspects of procrastination is isolation.  When you procrastinate in your business you tend to isolate yourself.  You stop calling prospects, your stop talking with clients, and you don’t meet with your networking partners.  You cannot grow and develop yourself if you isolate yourself.  You get stale, lose your competitive edge, and cease to learn new techniques and relearn those techniques that you have stopped using.  Some people believe that they don’t need anyone else and never speak to anyone in person or by phone.  They try to communicate by email, fax, text, and social media.  They are usually failures in their business and in life.

Procrastination is the principle of the doubting businessperson.  We all experience it from time to time; we must not allow it to grow and fester in our brain and heart.  We must recognize it for what it is, a killer of business success.  We have to root it out and purge any remnant of it from our day to day actions.  If we allow it to take over our lives, we will not experience any success, because it will dominate our actions.

Today write a card to someone, make a call to someone, or make an appointment to go see someone.  Maybe you could just drop into someone’s business and see if they have a moment.  Let me know what you do and what happens, and we can share with others.  Leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.  Get out of your shell and tell people about your business and what you can do to make their lives better.  If you give to give, not to get, you will succeed and prosper, and you will fell better about yourself.  Just get in motion and take action.

June 3, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Answer That Prompting Before It Is Too Late

Those of you who know me understand what a prompting is.  A prompting is a thought that you have telling you to reach out to someone that you know and contact them.  The prompting may be because of an event in their life such as their birthday or anniversary, or it may be because you haven’t spoken with them in too long a time.  It is your responsibility to answer that prompting before it might be too late.

What do we mean by “too late”?  There is always tomorrow, right?  We have all had a friend or family member that we discover has died without us knowing of their passing.  Perhaps we thought of that person sometime in the recent past, but we always thought that there would be time in the future to contact that person and speak with them again.  Who thought that the future was so short that we wouldn’t have that time, and we would be too late with our attempt to contact the person?

In the June issue of The Costco Connection magazine, Wally Amos writes of “Old friends and Mentors” and discusses losing touch with them over time.  He discusses situations, including his first mentor, who passed away before he could tell the person goodbye.  Wally asks us: “Is there someone you need to call today?”  Missed opportunities abound in our lives everyday, opportunities to reach out and touch someone in a special way.

My best mentor in business took me under his wing and taught me not to be afraid to hire people smarter than I was, let them do their jobs, and encourage them to rise above their original position, even passing me on the importance ladder.  He taught me that no one is irreplaceable and that you should have your replacement ready at a moment’s notice.  Otherwise, you cannot be promoted as fast as you might be.  I did what he taught me, got my promotion, and later lost my best friend in business when he was killed by a drunk driver.

Sometimes it is a friend to whom you should reach out.  How often do we forget our friends?  We say: “They know how I feel about them; I don’t have to constantly tell them.”  Well, would it physically hurt you to tell them how you feel about them more often?  What if you never see them again; what if they need an uplifting comment from someone and you don’t provide it?  What if they start to believe that you just don’t care anymore?  Would you want them to pass away believing that?

We all have family, whether those to whom we are related or just those close enough to be family.  It doesn’t matter.  If you have someone, anyone, who comes to your mind, stop what you are doing and reach out to them and tell them how you feel about them.  Ask them how they are, pledge to stay in touch better, and take the steps to see, call, or write to them more often.  My daddy taught me: “Don’t write to someone when you can call; don’t call when you can go see them.”  Whatever is possible, do it.  Combine the methods and the messages, but make some sort of contact, and make it more often.

As Wally Amos, my mentor says: “Is there someone you need to call today?”  Then leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.  It will make both of you feel better about each other and about life, and the gesture will spread from there to others.  Thank you Wally for your inspiration.