January 27, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Procrastination

We all know the dangers of procrastination. Failure to follow up with a client or prospect can kill an opportunity, and repeated procrastination can literally kill a business. Some of us have experienced the results first hand and have had to recover from the effects of procrastination. However, what about not taking advantage of opportunities in our business practices as opposed to not following up with a prospect or client? Can that have an equal adverse effect on our business?

Let’s say that you are presented with an opportunity to perform the work that you do in an easier manner, in a more efficient manner, or in a better all-round way. We all need to work smarter, not harder, and when we are provided with the means to do that, we need to make use of that means. It does not matter how hard we may work at our businesses or how many hours we put towards our goals, we all have our limits.

There are only so many hours in a day, and we can only work so hard at what we do. We should take advantage of whatever we can to improve our abilities to make our businesses better. We are professional businesspeople; as such we must be aware of and take advantage of opportunities to improve our product or service, to make our clients’ experience better, and to improve the service prior to, during, and after the clients’ purchase.

What type of opportunities might we find that we should consider? Anything that would make our business lives easier, more professional, more efficient, or more personal should be evaluated to determine if they would benefit our business endeavor. If you improve the product or service that you provide, or you improve the delivery of that offering, or you improve the client buying experience, your business will benefit. Your clients will be happier, believe that they received a better purchase or service, or know that their purchase was enjoyable. The result is happier clients that will refer others to your business.

When you become aware of anything that you believe will benefit your business, take a through examination of whatever it is. Is it a product that you may use, a service that you can utilize, or is it a revamp of your process that could change your way of business? Just like other buying decisions, take the steps necessary to evaluate the offering, get referrals, and make a decision. This is where procrastination causes you to hesitate. Whatever you decide, decide something and move on with your business. If you are too busy to make a decision, make the time; if you don’t have the money, decide how you can get the money if you need to make the acquisition; if you can “test drive” whatever it is, do so.

Appreciation Marketing has many aspects. Most importantly, it means that you do everything in your control to show your clients that you care about them, appreciate their business, and want to make their buying experience pleasant. You owe them, your employees, yourself, and everyone else involved to improve your business and to provide Appreciation as a by-product of the purchase. That is Appreciation Marketing at its best.

Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. Appreciation Marketing takes many forms. How can you use it to improve your bottom line by working smarter, not harder for your clients, employees, and yourself? Don’t let procrastination delay, or stop, you from working smarter, not harder.

January 20, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Undercover Test

Do you ever wonder what would happen if you went undercover in your company and worked with your employees? What would you discover about your employees’ work ethic and their attitude toward customer service? Would your employees follow your directions and treat customers with appreciation or would they break all your “rules” about customer service? Do they understand your “rules”, or do they see your example of how to treat customers?

These are interesting questions, and they should be considered by every business owner who has employees of any sort. Appreciation Marketing is the philosophy of any business which understands that customers who are treated fairly and as human beings instead of account numbers will help the business succeed. They will remain loyal, and they will tell others what a great experience that they have in their relationship with the business. Thus, their referrals will bring more customers to the business, making it more successful.

While this is a great philosophy for the business owner to have, it will have no positive effect if your employees will not follow your “rules” to apply Appreciation Marketing in their dealings with customers. No matter what instructions you may have placed into effect, your employees will pay more attention to the example that you yourself set in your dealings with customers. Set the example, and your employees will follow, but make sure that your examples are the ones that you want your employees to follow. Be a leader, not a boss.

You must be very clear when you train new employees or retrain ones who may not understand exactly what you want done within the realm of customer relationships. You must know what takes place between employees and customers when you are not present. If you conduct your business in an open manner, treating customers as valued assets of your business, you will set an example that should be easy to follow. You must communicate your methods to your employees, specifying exactly the responsibility and authority that each has.

Communication with employees is essential, both by instructions and example. I believe that if you hire intelligent employees, give them the instruction, training, and equipment that they need to do their jobs, and then give them the authority to fulfill their responsibilities, they will be happier, more confident, and professional, performing as you wish. If your example is in line with your instructions, and you conduct your business and personal lives professionally, there will be no conflicts.

Of course, if you find out there is someone who cannot follow instructions, either due to the inability to learn or to care about your business success, them you must deal with that problem. An employee who does not understand, or does not care about Appreciation Marketing, should not be allowed to continue to destroy your business relationships, whether those relationships are with customers or anyone else.

Appreciation Marketing can turn customers into clients, non-customers into referral partners, and everyone into relationships which benefit all parties. You must lead by example, require your employees to follow your leadership, and foster an atmosphere of client service that surpasses all other businesses. Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. You should not have to go “undercover” in your business to discover what type of client relationships your business has. You should also appreciate your professional employees as must as you do your clients.

January 13, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Set The Example

“Be the type of person you want to attract.” – Jeff Packard. This is a great quote, and it is also great advice to everyone. If you are a business person, you set the example for your employees, if you have them. If you act in a decent manner toward your clients, your employees will do the same, showing respect and care in their client relationships. If you are rude, taking advantage of customers, then your employees will also do the same.

If you have no employees, but still want to attract stable, grateful clients, then you should conduct your life, not just your business, in the same manner. As you proceed through the day, show concern for others, and treat clients, prospects, family, friends, and others better than you would want to be treated. If you show gratitude toward others, they will show the same toward you. Karma is not only infectious; it is also non-discriminatory, affecting everyone sooner or later. Whatever you put forth toward others, you will receive the same back from someone, somewhere, somehow.

If you want to attract loyal clients who stay with your business through their good times and bad, then you have to be the type of business person who does the same for them. What can you do to assist them in their business? It’s easy to help someone when the times are good; it is a more difficult practice to help someone when their business may be in trouble or if you yourself are struggling. A good friend is one who offers advice when we don’t ask for it. Are you brave enough to be that friend? Do you care enough to help someone that may not listen when you try to help them or smart enough to listen when someone tries to help you?

When you form networking relationships with others, whether they are clients, prospects, or whomever, you may never be clients of each other; you may just be friends, or supporters of each other. You may offer advice, referrals, or just a shoulder on which to lean. Networking relationships must be formed in order to succeed, but being the person that we want to attract is the first step in forming those relationships. Being an example for others will result in others treating you how you treated them.

We have a tendency to cluster with those people with whom we identify, with whom we feel comfortable, and with whom we are similar, in manner, actions, and ability. If we are positive towards others, we will attract those who are positive towards us. If we are negative towards others, the persons whom we attract will be negative in their actions, manner, and opinions. Those negative people are just a pain to endure, and I believe that the positive ones are a lot more fun with whom to associate.

January 6, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Take Care of the Customer

Many people cannot get through the holiday season without ordering something from Land’s End. They have great products and prices, a wonderful return policy, and ordering online is so easy. Their customer service philosophy, as stated by their founder, Gary Comer, is “Take care of the customer, and the rest will take care of itself.” I cannot think of a better way to describe a winning customer service policy. Their business is built on repeat customers.

Does this mean that you have to give away everything to please a customer? No, it means that you must do what you have agreed to do when you market whatever you have to a client. Just do your job, whatever that is. When you agree to deliver a certain product at a certain price, at a certain time, then do so. Do not substitute anything or allow any deviation in what you promised versus what you deliver, or when, or for what price. You made a promise, a commitment; keep it. To do less in any way would be a violation of that commitment.

Customer service starts with your marketing. If you do your marketing correctly, sales will “fall into your lap”. You’ll have clients to service, and referrals from those clients or from the prospects who don’t buy from you for some reason. It doesn’t matter who they are, market professionally, with customer service in mind, and you will either receive a sale or a referral, or both. Even if someone doesn’t become a client, will they pass you a referral based on their trust and enthusiasm in your marketing process? While you market your product or service, you also must market yourself and your professionalism.

Honesty, even if it is not what the prospect wants to hear, must a factor in your marketing. Professionalism does not mean “hedging your words” or telling prospects what they want to hear. Listen to them and, if you have what they need, market to them with absolute truth and honesty. That includes what you tell them about your product or service, options, prices required, delivery times, and whatever follow-up that you provide. Do not hedge your words; be blunt, direct, and honest. Then do it; do your job to the best of your ability.

After delivery, you must follow-up with your client, verifying that they understand their purchase and how to use it. If they do not understand, they will not be happy, and will never recommend you or buy from you again. Make sure the client is comfortable asking questions and answer them. Professionalism includes complete follow-up.

If you, or your business, erred and did not do something that you should have done, you must take ownership of the error, fix it to the satisfaction of the sales contract, or beyond, and then take steps to prevent that error from reoccurring. The client’s comfort with your actions will allow them to be comfortable with referring your business to others in the future.

Your follow-up does not end here; you must confirm that the client continues to be satisfied with their purchase. Initial satisfaction can wane, and their enthusiasm will wane also. You must follow-up and keep the relationship healthy. That may lead to additional sales, or upgrades, which cements the relationship. Referrals will follow from these relationships.

Your marketing begins with the initial client meeting and continues throughout the relationship between the client and your business. Appreciation Marketing builds these relationships. Leave me your comments, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Solid, rewarding relationships are the wonderful result of Appreciation Marketing. Your business and personal lives will benefit greatly from them.