September 30, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Accountability



What is accountability? It is taking responsibility for your actions or the actions of your business. Your business provides a product or service for a price. If your business makes a mistake in that action what does it say about your business? As an individual, you make statements or engage in actions, either personal or as a representative of your business. If you make an error in those actions, what does that say about you as a person or as a representative of your business?

We all make mistakes in our daily lives, either business related or personal in nature. Does anyone expect others to be perfect? Does anyone expect perfection from themselves? Does anyone hold themselves up to others as perfect? No one is perfect, and to expect others to be perfect is irrational. Whether dealing with an individual or a business, I never expect perfection. It would be great if it was true, but I would be delusional if I anticipated every interaction with anyone or any business to be executed perfectly.

I have said that I expect anyone, business or individual, to just “do what they say that they will”. What happens when the individual or business fails to do what they say that they will do, no matter the reason for that failure? Then I expect the person or business to take responsibility for their action and for the ramifications that result, admitting that they failed to do what they should have done. Take ownership of your mistakes or errors, admitting what you did and that it was wrong. Then move forward, clearly stating what you are doing to correct the errors.

Depending on the mistakes or errors involved, a person or business may need to take small or large steps to correct their errors. Taking ownership and responsibility of the error must be followed by actions to “fix” the problem caused. Can you undo the problem; can your corrective actions put things back to where they should have been; can the client’s position be made “whole”? If you can do all this, great; do it, and do it quickly, to the satisfaction of all involved. What if you cannot “fix” the problem and make everyone “whole”?

How close can you come to correcting the error where you bring everyone involved to where they should have been? Take the steps to do that as soon as possible, staying in touch with those involved all the way to completion. What is adequate for one person may not be for others. Perhaps different solutions may be necessary for multiple clients who were wronged or slighted. Do not try to apply one fix to everyone, and don’t leave anyone out of the solution. Check, and recheck, with your clients; make your efforts personal and comforting.

I will always support a person or business who, when they make mistakes, takes ownership of those mistakes, and fixes the problems that result, as fast as they possibility can do so. You need to also reassure your clients on how you will prevent these mistakes from happening again and what steps you have implemented to do so. Without that assurance, clients may never have faith in you not to repeat those mistakes again.

What do you do when your business makes a mistake? How do you regain your clients’ faith in your business, its products, or service? This is all part of Appreciation Marketing and will bring you either good or bad karma. Leave your comments here, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. I would also love to hear from all you perfect people and businesses since I have never before met anyone who is perfect.

September 23, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Givers & Takers



Based on a conversation that I experienced this past week, I wanted to readdress a previous subject. We all have heard the terms “givers” and “takers”, but have we incorporated knowledge about both of these types of people into our marketing efforts? Maybe you pride yourself on being a giver because you learned that no one likes a taker. Maybe you have experienced people who are takers and who never give anything to others. We usually think of takers with negativity based on our past experiences.

One of the basics of Appreciation Marketing implies that we should be givers, not takers. Givers are the good people, those who “serve” the needs of others, the people for whom karma provides goodness and prosperity. When you put the needs of others before your own, you will succeed since karma will return goodness and prosperity, from somewhere, for your efforts. If you put forth negative actions, you will receive negativity in return from somewhere.

How did takers get such a bad reputation? We all know someone who is an extreme taker, someone who milks everyone that they know for everything in their life, returning nothing to anyone. These are the people who put themselves before everyone else, looking to “use” everyone for whatever will make their lives better. We may even consider these people to be manipulators, and they most assuredly are. They turn every situation into an opportunity to enhance their position, often at the expense of others.

However, for those of us who are givers, maybe we have looked upon this type of person in a wrong light, maybe we just need to see if we can channel their actions into a positive way. For every giving situation, there must be the giver who provides something to someone else. There also must be a receiver, or taker, who is the target of the giving process. Without a receiver, or taker, there cannot be a provider, or giver. One cannot exist without the other.

The next time someone does something for you, think how you react. You don’t want to be seen as a taker, but you want someone to accept your gestures when you give them to anyone. Why are you so much better than anyone else, that you should not accept the gestures of others? Remember for every giver, there must be a taker. Accept the actions toward you for what they are, and then look for opportunities to return, or pass on, similar gestures.

Now what do we do about those who are exclusively takers? We should have patience with them, try to teach them through example, and attempt to counsel them when they will listen to us. Then we “pay forward” the gestures of others and hope that our actions show our commitment to karma. As we prosper, they should take notice, but who knows? Maybe they are stubborn and learn slowly. Just keep on doing what you are doing, enjoy the success that comes to you, and try to keep teaching and counseling them. Sharing information is the best type of giving that you can do. Teaching others is a great form of giving.

Who do you know that is a taker? Have you ever tried to teach them a better way? Look for someone and take them under your guidance and see if they can change for the better. Practice Appreciation Marketing and keep discussing karma and how it helps bring everyone success. Let me hear what you believe about this with your comments here. You can also call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Let’s discuss how we can make givers and takers work better together. Then let’s give, get, and repeat, over and over.

September 16, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Networking Groups & Referrals



For everyone who belongs to a networking group, there is a question that arises sooner or later. You joined a networking group, or even a chamber of commerce, for many reasons, one of which may have been to acquire referrals to grow your business. If you expect referrals from other members of the group, you must be willing to attempt to provide similar referrals to the other members.

Providing referrals has a direct impact on your own reputation based on the results of the referrals. If the referred parties do not get along, do not like each other, or do not trust each other, it may have a negative impact on your reputation in the business community. There may even be a negative impact on you if the two parties to the referral cannot complete a business transaction. The question that members of networking groups face is what to do if someone needs the services that another group member provides and the member knows someone outside the group who is a better choice for the referral.

The person that is a group member may not be the best referral for the other person, or the group member may not be anyone whom you would ever include in a referral. There are members of all of the groups to which we belong who we do not know well, like, or trust. I will not do business with anyone who may be described as such, nor will I refer them to anyone else either. My reputation is just too valuable to me.

Just because someone is a group member with you does not mean that you automatically know them. What if they refuse to meet with you and get to know each other? If you don’t know them, how can you like or trust them? Even knowing them does not mean that you like of trust them; in fact knowing them may be the reason that you don’t either like or trust them.

What about those of us who belong to multiple networking groups or chambers of commerce? To whom do we give preference in referrals? What do you do when anyone needs someone to perform a service or sell them a product and you know multiple people in multiple groups? Can you make the referral based on geographic location, personalities, or even just who comes to mind first? There may be multiple members of the same group who perform the same service; to which one do you pass the referral?

I have written before on what I call “Drive-By Networking”, someone who comes to a group once, or never, but expects all your referrals for their business. I will always prefer to refer others to group members who regularly attend group meetings and who support the group and its other members. Their consistency and support must be rewarded. The “sometimes, hot and cold, networker” just does not deserve my referrals as much as the person who I have come to know, like, and trust on a consistent basis. I need to see how you interrelate with others to place my blind faith in you.

How do you handle this question? Do you refer business to anyone and everyone because they belong to a networking group, or do you screen your referrals just like you would your trusted friends or coworkers? How much do people skills mean when referring business to others? Do you practice Appreciation Marketing towards your business partners and in your networking relationships? Please let me know your thoughts here, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. If you want to get together and discuss these ideas in person, we can do that. I really love to chat about networking as well as marketing. Who knows; maybe the next networking relationship I form may be with you.

September 9, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Marketing vs Sales



What is the difference between marketing and sales? I once met a person whose title was “Director of Sales and Marketing” and who told me that there was really no difference in the two terms. He said that he was always “selling” and that he did not “market” his company’s services. As you can probably guess, I disagreed with him, and we spoke for an hour and never agreed on whether the two terms meant the same.

I believe that when you are “marketing”, you are letting others know who you are, what your company has to offer, and how they can find you and buy from you. When you are “selling” you are closing the deal that brings your product or service to your client, whether they are a new or a repeat customer. While “marketing” may lead to “sales”, it does not always result in a new client.

Marketing is a “getting to know each other” process. First, there is the “information gathering” portion on your part about what your prospect needs, and then there is the educational part about your company, the products and pricing offered, and how to order. If they don’t need what you have to offer, you shouldn’t be able to sell to them, and you shouldn’t press them to make an inappropriate buying decision.

If they cannot afford your price, and you cannot lower it, perhaps they will become an advocate for your business and pass referrals to you. If they are the incorrect person to whom to be marketing within their company, find out who your target person should be, and thank the person setting you on the path to that individual. Your honesty and the respect that you show them, and their referrals, may prove to be the reason that they purchase from you in the future. Who knows what the passage of time may have in store for both of you.

The “getting to know each other” phase also includes getting in touch with each other’s personalities. I will not do business with anyone whom I personally dislike, do not trust, or cannot respect. I might love their company or product or service, but if I don’t like, respect, or trust them, I cannot recommend them to others, and they will not have my business. I only purchase from those people whom I can recommend to others.

I recently had a discussion with someone who believed that if you do your marketing correctly, and with a personal touch, the sales will follow just like time flows. Sow seeds over time, and with the right approach, and those seeds will produce the intended results, perhaps even greater than you could have anticipated. The sale that you gain today through your personal, patient, and professional manner may be surpassed in the future by referrals from that happy client. Referral based sales are the best kind, and the most rewarding.

If you do your marketing right, the sales may be as easy as the client saying, “Sign me up”, before you ask for the sale. Marketing in the right manner may even replace selling. I have had clients ask me when I plan to “sell” to them because they were ready to finalize the deal. At that point, you know that you have done it right. There are many business people who do not like “selling”. You should try “marketing” instead. You may like it a whole lot more.

So how do your “marketing” and “sales” fit together? Maybe we need a person to person chat about marketing. I look forward to your comments about this and Appreciation Marketing in general. You can also email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. Who knows, maybe we have more in common than we might think.

September 2, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Marketing Budgets In Bad Times



When times are good and you are flush with clients and excellent prospects, you don’t mind spending money on your marketing efforts. You can see results of your marketing. You don’t mind dedicating the components, and the funds, necessary to further the knowledge of your business in the minds of the public. These efforts seem appropriate since you can see results. You can see when your marketing brings in new business, and your income is growing.

However, what happens when your prospects seem to dry up, your clients stop doing business with you for whatever reason, and every prospect that you have hesitates, or declines, to close the deal? These become bad times, and so many businesses cannot justify the budget that they had when business was better. They cut their marketing budget to the bone and believe that their past efforts will result in new business.

How do new prospects hear about your business and what you offer to the public? Does the knowledge just fall from the sky? It doesn’t unless you put the knowledge out to the world; business doesn’t just create itself. You must make some effort to make others know about your business, what you have, and how to connect with you. The public has to know who you are, what you have for them, and how to get it. If they don’t, you don’t sell anything, and your business will cease to exist.

When times are bad, take a good look at what your marketing plan is. What has worked in the past, and what has not? Be honest and evaluate everything; decide to work smarter, not harder. Do not start to just work cheaper, but look at how and where you are spending money and how to get a greater impact for the same or less expenditure. If you keep doing what you have always done, why are you surprised that you keep getting what you have always got? Maybe you should reinvent your marketing plan.

What brought in the clients that you already have; what makes them happy and keeps them as clients? Ask them what caused them to do business with you. Thank them for their business and for their information. Then look at what you may be doing differently since you acquired their business. Maybe you need to go back to the way you performed before. Remember your continued marketing efforts are the way your current clients see you, and they tell everyone else. Why did some of your lost clients leave your side? You should ask every client that cancels why they are leaving and see if you can fix the problem.

Of course, some clients just don’t need your product or service anymore; some go out of business, some move, and some die. If you don’t know the reason, and you should, ask them. Contact them and ask, if you don’t know. Maybe that act itself will cause them to return, or maybe they will speak fondly of you to others. It takes 10 times as much to get a new client as it takes to keep one that you already have. You have already spent the money, time, and effort to get the client. Why not spend a smaller amount and keep them instead of spending 10 times as much to get a replacement. Your current clients are your unpaid advertising and sales representatives. That is, they are if they are happy clients.

Appreciation Marketing is about keeping your current clients and turning others into clients by showing gratitude to everyone for what their relationships mean to you. How is Appreciation Marketing working for you in good and bad times? Your comments are welcome here, or you can email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. We all can learn from each other and show that Appreciation Marketing works all the time, every time.