October 28, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Jealous Peers

We all have our buddies, our peers, people with whom we share space, fun, and heartache. They may be people with whom you grew up, with whom you started your business, or with whom you network. Your relationship may be close, or it may be more distant. These people may be your close confidants or just acquaintances. They may be “in tune” with your moods, your beliefs, or they may not really understand what “makes you tick”.

You must know if these people have your best interests at heart. You should be able to understand how these people feel about your success in business, about your ability to grow your business in the way you want it to grow. If you do not know how these people actually feel about your success, you may be making your business decisions based on false knowledge. These are the people whom you consider to be your networking partners. Are they really your partners, or are they jealous peers?

Let’s say that you have heard of a new or different marketing idea for your business, at least it is new or different to you. Perhaps it is so new that no one else has ever tried it, or perhaps it is so different that no one else believes that it will work better than the “old, tried and true” methods. Have those “old, tried and true” methods ever really worked for you? Your peers tell you: “That won’t work”, “We have never tried something like that”, or “That just isn’t for you”. Maybe they are right, but maybe they are wrong.

Is trying something new in your marketing so different from trying some new or radical as a profession? Maybe it will work, and you can make a career out of something new or different; maybe you cannot. You just never know unless you try. Someone probably told someone else that hybrid automobiles would never sell; someone probably told someone else that no one would buy DVD or VHS recorders. Just because no one has tried something doesn’t mean that it will not work. Maybe that weird idea is netting over a million dollars per year.

Is there something else at work here? Do your peers really want you to succeed? We all have “friends” or associates that have reached a level of achievement that they will never surpass. Do they really want someone else to push past that same level of success? Are they more comfortable with their associates, including you, being equal or lower in success than they are? Do they really have your best interests at heart, or do they need you to remain at the same level as they have reached. Perhaps your success would make their lack of it look bad.

Part of Appreciation Marketing is reaching out of your comfort zone and trying new and different ways of marketing your business. It may be that you can try a new and different business model or even a new or different business itself. So what if no one has tried it before; so what if it, whatever it is, is radical or new or different? Could it work; could it succeed if you do it, your way, wherever you are right now? Try something, and if it works, fine. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Often we need to just do it.

At times we need to challenge ourselves and take a risk; we need to see the wisdom of different people who are not afraid to succeed. Do your research and evaluate new information with a through, detailed mindset. Don’t take the word of someone who has no knowledge of whatever it is that you are evaluating. Are they afraid of change and
stepping outside of the box”? Are they afraid of your success and how it may make them appear to others? Let me hear from you, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Sometimes your peers may be the change that you need to make.

October 21, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – The Next Step

Often at networking meetings, I am asked what a networking newbie who has begun networking to market their business should do next. I believe that networking is one of the best ways to market any business. You get the opportunity to personally showcase yourself and your ability to explain your business to a large audience, some of whom you would never have met. What do you do next after you have made that decision and attended your first networking meeting?

The next step that everyone should take after that first networking meeting is to reflect back on the notes that you took during the meeting, or shortly thereafter, and review what took place. How did you present yourself; how did others present themselves? Who impressed you the most; who did not impress you at all? What can you do to improve your own presentation of yourself and your business; what can you do to be someone with whom others want to connect and form networking partnerships?

At the same time you must do something about the information that you collected at the meeting. All the information from those business cards that you collected must be entered into some system so you can utilize it at a later time. Your contact file is one of your company’s most valuable assets. However, if you misuse it, or ignore it, it is worthless and you wasted your time at the meeting. You must nurture your contact list and allow it to grow, rewarding yourself with many clients, prospects, and referrals. Some people use computer software to maintain their contacts, others use manual card files. Use whatever works for you, but use something. This is an opportunity where you should work smarter, not harder.

Hopefully, before you ever attended your first networking meeting, you established a contact management system of your own. It should contain everyone that you know. This includes your friends, neighbors, family, classmates, everyone. Then everyone that you meet from that point on is just added to the system. Classify each person as you chose, perhaps by their business potential, and notice that people may fall into multiple classes. You must maintain, and update, this file every day. Again, it is your most valuable asset.

Each time you attend a networking meeting, and add to this file, you should have a procedure for following up with the people that you meet. Perhaps you send them an email reminding them when and where you met them, perhaps a card. Then call them and follow up, asking to meet for an individual chat to get to know them better. You are not trying to sell to them; you are just sowing seeds of knowledge and establishing a relationship. People do business with, and refer business to others that they know, like, and trust. This is a multiple step process. No one can trust anyone who they met for 2-3 minutes at a networking meeting, without meeting them again for a detailed conversation and exploring their philosophy and business theories.

Once you have met them individually, follow up again, and thank them for meeting, with a card or an email. Use Appreciation Marketing to build on the relationship that you have started. Can you send them referrals, do you want to establish a client relationship, or do you never want to see them again?

What you do after a networking meet? Let us know here, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Remember that the longest journey begins with a single step. Make that step meaningful and sincere.

October 14, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – The Right Thing

Last week we discussed client satisfaction. I received several comments, most by way of telephone or email, questioning whether client satisfaction was important. Some other people believed that client loyalty was more important than client satisfaction. This week we can address these comments through a discussion about “The Right Thing”.

“The Right Thing” may be best described as what anyone, business person or private individual, would do when no one is watching what actions they take at any one time. When a business contracts to sell anything to a purchaser, does the buyer actually get what they expect? Is the quality, quantity, color, size, or whatever the same as that was represented in the buying process? Is the delivery done on time or to the satisfaction of the buyer? Are all terms of the contract completed to the satisfaction of the buyer?

Client satisfaction means that the client is happy with the flow of the buying experience as well as the completion of the process of the purchase as they expected that process to be. Client satisfaction leads to client loyalty. If a client is satisfied, the client may be loyal. However, client satisfaction does not guarantee client loyalty. Loyalty is a result of satisfaction with the buying process plus a lot more.

“The Right Thing” is what actions we take in the process of conducting our lives, including our business lives. It includes our marketing, our sales, our delivery of products or services, and our follow up. It also includes our interface with those with whom we do not have a client relationship. This includes prospects, family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and the people we pass on the street. How would others describe your actions toward total strangers? Are you proud of all that you do; are your family or friends proud of all that you do?

We all should conduct our business, as well as personal, lives in a manner that reflects well on us, in a manner that inspires client, or personal, loyalty. That includes honest, ethical, and complete practices that treat everyone in a manner that we should want others to treat us. Treating others as you want them to treat you is a great philosophy. Would it be better if you treated others better than you expected them to treat you? Then, do the right thing at all times; do whatever is right, or correct, in every step of your business, as well as personal, life.

This ongoing philosophy includes thanking people for their business, for their help, for their contributions to your life. Everyone likes to be noticed, even you. We all like to be appreciated for whatever we do, especially for whatever we do for others. How about we thank others for their part in our lives, not just their initial contribution; what about their referrals, their advice, for their continued support? We must show this appreciation over and over to retain their loyalty. If you appreciate others, they will appreciate you, your business, and your future.

Spend some time and think about how you can show your appreciation to others. What can you do to say “thank you” to someone each and every day, maybe multiple times per day. How does that action make others feel, about you, and about life? How does that action make you feel about them, about yourself, and about life? How do you feel when they thank you for thanking them? Leave your comments about this Appreciation Marketing philosophy or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. This builds great karma, and great karma builds great client loyalty, leading to business success.

October 7, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Client Satisfaction

Client satisfaction is an objective for which every business owner must strive. What does that phrase mean? Doesn’t every business want to satisfy the client in every business transaction? Doesn’t every business maintain that they always provide client satisfaction every day? Providing client satisfaction is one of those objectives that sounds so great when we hear it or when we say it ourselves. What does it actually mean in our business lives?

When any business contracts with a client, there are certain requirements on the part of each partner in that transaction. The client agrees to remit an agreed upon payment in return for delivery of a product or service. When those requirements are fulfilled, the contract is said to be completed and everyone is believed to be happy. What about when one of the partners in the transaction is not happy even though the terms of the contract have been fulfilled?

In every transaction there may be problems in its completion. Just the fact that your business delivers the expected product or service to the client does not mean that they are happy with the transaction. Was the transaction completed on time; was the product or service that was delivered as it was expected by the client? Was it the correct color, shade of color, size, or composition? Did the product perform as expected or did the installer provide the expected service? What about delays by customer service, or was the customer service representative rude or not well trained? Is there adequate or correct documentation?

All these questions and many more, may “taint” the buying experience for the client. The client may receive the product or service which the sale involved, but was the experience pleasant or was there something that doesn’t “sit well” with the client. You may believe that delivering the expected product or service is enough, but how you do it may destroy your relationship with the client for the future. Being unaware, or uncaring, of the mental state of the client after the sale is completed may doom your future business with that client.

Do you ever follow up with clients and ask them how they feel about their buying experience? Do you ever actually thank them for their business, either at the point of delivery, or later, or both? If they do not enjoy the buying experience they will not recommend your business to anyone else. They might like the product or service that you provided, but they may hate the experience that resulted in their obtaining whatever you sold to them. They will go elsewhere the next time that they have a need, and they will refer their friends to that same provider.

By staying in contact with your clients, you open the lines of communication and allow your clients to be comfortable enough to be honest with you. If they are not comfortable in their relationship with you, they will not continue to do business with you and will send others elsewhere when referrals are involved. Delivering a product or service may not be enough; how did you follow through during the process or afterwards?

Businesses must stay in contact with clients, asking them if there was any problem with their satisfaction with transactions that may, or may not, have gone correctly. What do they really think about you, your product or service, or the buying experience? Unless you actually ask, you may never know for sure. Please leave your comments regarding your experiences, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Have you ever contacted a former client who “fired” your business? Do you know why they fired you?