March 31, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Communications Hazards



Previously we have discussed our communications with clients, prospects, family, and friends. Communications can take various forms, including actual personal conversations, telephone calls, emails, greeting cards, letters, notes, and texts. There are different rules or guidelines for each of these methods, and each has its own hazards that can sink you and your business. You will be known for what you say and how you say it.

These methods of communication may not all be suitable for your business or appropriate for all your clients or prospects. What you say to your family or friends may not be suitable to say to a client or prospect. No matter what you have to communicate, how you say it can have a greater impact. A formal presentation should not be sent as an email, and questions and answers relating to the terms of a major agreement should not be left only in a telephone call. Meeting arrangements should be confirmed by email or a personal telephone call.

Two of the most popular methods of communication are emails and texts. Emails are sent each and every day for a variety of communication needs. From setting meetings to confirming information to thanking someone for their assistance, emails support many businesses that need a quick, printable, and archiveable form of communication. Emails have been used in positive and negative ways to define the grounds for business. They should not be written with excessive abbreviations that some people may not understand.

There is an increasing use of texting in communications. Texting should be used for personal, not business, communications. Texting does not provide a trail supporting business communications. The abbreviations in texts are often confusing and sometimes impossible to decipher by some recipients, and there is a formalness in normal business communications that texting does not support. Some people do not have texts activated on their smartphones. When you send those people texts, they never receive them, have no idea that you tried to text them, and you do not receive any notification that your text was not received by them.

Communications should be undertaken with your intent in mind. Telephone calls can be confirmed by written messages; texts should never be used for business communication due to problems with keeping records; abbreviations should be kept out of business communication; business agreements should be finalized and documented in written form. Decide what you want to say, how you want to say it, and then say it appropriately.

No matter what the form of communication that you use or the intended recipient, your content must be truthful, must be complete in every detail, and must be free of all typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors. It is mandatory to proofread your communications with others. Respect your recipients by spell, grammar, and typo checking your communications, and do not mix various types of communication in the same chain of a conversation. A professional business leader should be able to communicate with professional means and professional words.

What is your preferred method of communication with your clients or prospects, with family, and with friends? Do you agree or disagree with the thoughts here? Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691 with your ideas. Appreciation Marketing should be foremost in not only the content of your communications, but should determine the format and form of your communications. Communicate with good karma in mind, and good karma will touch you and your business.

March 24, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Mistakes Continued



Since last week several people contacted me regarding the mistakes owners make which will spell doom for businesses. This can be a small setback or a life changing event that can cause irreparable harm. How businesses deal with their mistakes sparked strong feedback.

Whether you make an error in the order process, in delivery, or in the product or service, you must deal with the error in a professional manner. You must take ownership of the error, apologizing professionally and honestly, and then take steps to correct the error. You must accept that the mistake was made and that your business was responsible.

If you have employees involved, do not blame the error on them to the client. Deal with the employee’s mistake, if that is the case, separately between the two of you without the client involved. How you speak with, train, correct, punish, or manage an employee should not be done in front of a client. The client should not be told of any specific dealings with an employee. To do so is a violation of the mutual trust between employees and employers. Even if you terminate the employee, that is your decision as to the why and how.

After taking ownership of the error, you must take steps, if possible, to put the relationship with the client back to where it should be as if there was no error. If you cannot do this, you must do what you can to be as close as you can be. Sometimes we just cannot correct the timeliness of an error so that your client is where they should have been. Do what you humanly can, apologize again, and perhaps do more than expected. A missed deadline may not be able to be met if it is past, but could you do something to mitigate the missed timing? Take the extra step, and do the “right thing”.

Everyone makes mistakes; we should never expect anyone to be perfect, even ourselves or our business. Large businesses make errors, sometimes many, in their growing and maturing. Businesses and people who never make mistakes are stagnant, never doing anything. Do they learn from their mistakes? You must make the client know that you have taken steps to prevent the error from reoccurring, with them or anyone else.

It is how any business reacts to an error that helps me decide whether or not I will remain their client or not, and if I will refer them to someone else. Yes, I will refer a business or person even if they have made a mistake. Your actions in dealing with mistakes in business are what sets you apart and will result in your continuing to receive referrals or not.

Referrals are the lifeblood of every business. Loss of referrals from not dealing positively with your mistakes will result in failure of your business, because the loss of referrals will also go hand in hand with the tales of your actions which reflect on your business badly. These may be termed adverse referrals.
“Stay away from that business; they make mistakes and don’t make them right”. “They don’t care about their clients; their customer service is horrible.”

How do you deal with business mistakes? Do you apologize, taking ownership of the errors, try to make the client and transaction “whole” again, and then take steps to reassure the client that you have fixed the problem? Please leave me your thoughts here, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. You will make mistakes. How you deal with them shows your Appreciation Marketing beliefs, and results in positive referrals.

March 17, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Mistakes Prevent Success



There are many ways of marketing that will bring success to your business. There are also mistakes that you can make that will prevent your business from being as successful as it should be. Some are so obvious that you should never make them, and you should know better. Sometimes you should just get out of your own way. If you don’t, you may make those mistakes that will prevent your success in business.

Have you ever prejudged anyone only to find later that you were totally wrong in that judgment? When you meet someone, you should learn about them and their business, how they deal with customers and prospects, and how they treat their employees. Then, and only then, classify them as a networking partner or not.

Do you return all the phone calls that are made to you? If you don’t, you risk losing customers before they become prospects, much less losing the customers that you already have. When anyone calls you, speak to them, or call them back. Determine what they need; don’t try to sell them what you want them to buy from you. Then see if you can help them in some other way. If you cannot, refer them to someone who can solve their need. If you help others, they will help you.

When you make a business mistake, do you ignore the responsibility for that mistake? You must take ownership of it, take steps to correct it, and make sure that the person involved knows that you will prevent the error from occurring again. That person will then believe that any referral that they provide to you will not suffer the same problem. Since everyone will make mistakes, or have problems that will occur in their business operation from time to time, how we deal with those problems is important to our success.

Do you follow up with all referrals or all first meetings with other business owners? Every person you meet, and every referral that you receive, may develop into a networking partner, a client, or both. Follow up is a must. How do you know who anyone is, whether you like them, or if you can trust them if you don’t get to know them further than a first impression? You must follow up on all referrals that you receive if you want to receive any in the future.

Do you make it difficult for your customers to do business with you? You must examine your buying process and your customer service philosophy and determine if they are “client friendly”. If you have not done so, look at what you do from the customer viewpoint. If you find flaws in customer relations, you must take steps to make the process of doing business with you easier and more enjoyable for the customer. Happy clients will give you more referrals.

When you pass referrals to others, are they complete referrals where you provide both parties all the contact information, and do you inform both parties that you are providing the referral? Do you even ask if the parties want you to make the referral? If not, you are wasting everyone’s valuable time, and you appear as unprofessional.

Do you see yourself making these possible mistakes in your business operation? What do your customers and prospects say about you and your business process, the customer experience? Perhaps a close examination of your business operation will result in your being more supportive of others and their business. Leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691 with your ideas. Your marketing should reflect your belief in serving others, and it should provide you some great karma.

March 10, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – It’s Up to You, Part 2


It doesn’t matter what your business is, the structure and operation is up to you to organize, implement, monitor, and fix, if it needs fixing. In short, you are the person in charge, and everything is your responsibility. Does this mean that you are alone? No, it doesn’t. You have employees, family, and friends. All these people are included in the networking partners that you have developed over time. Make sure that you utilize their knowledge.

You are the person who is responsible for all the follow up that will mean success to your business. It may be follow up on a referral from one of your networking partners, on an inquiry from a prospect, with the person whom you met at a networking event, or on an inspiration that you got from “out of the blue”. Following up is one of the most important things that you can do as a business owner. You must be responsible to either follow up yourself or make sure that someone in your organization does so, and in a complete and professional manner.

Did you receive a referral from one of your networking partners? Did someone call with an inquiry about your services or products? You must follow up and get in touch with the person that you should call. The referral needs to be contacted as soon as possible to determine if they are a person that needs your product or service. The person inquiring must be contacted to determine what their need is and if you can fill it. You will never know until you contact them. Make repeated attempts, maybe asking the referring person for assistance.

Maybe the inquiry is not about a possible sale, but it might be someone who can become a networking partner. Perhaps it is someone whom you met at a networking event, calling to follow up and gain more information about you. Even if it is someone who wants to market to you, it is an opportunity to market to them also. You never know until you make the call to follow up and to respond to their inquiry. Meet them and find out all the details.

We have said before that you need to follow up with everyone whom you meet at networking events, calling them to meet and get to know each other better. If you don’t like making cold calls, these calls are not cold calls. You both should remember each other, having met even for a short period of time. But, you must call, make arrangements to meet face to face, and get to know each other. If the other person calls you first, answer the call, and follow up with a meeting. Networking relationships should reward you with referrals, clients, or both. All three help a business succeed, often beyond your original expectations.

Let’s not forget voice mails. When anyone calls you and gets your voice mail, listen to their message, and return the call. This is another form of follow up. We all interface with others through voice mails each and every day. We also do not care for people who ignore our voice mails and never return our calls. Therefore, don’t be guilty of that negative practice yourself. In other words, return all calls to you. You never know what the outcome will be. Explore the future and follow up with a stranger. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.

How do you handle follow up with clients or prospects? Do you treat some people better than others? Do you return all messages left on your voice mail? Is your follow up practice consistent and complete? Please leave me your comments regarding follow up, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691 with your ideas. Following up can make your business successful; lack of it can result in its failure. Remember that the follow up procedure in your business is up to you to originate and practice. Remember that you need to follow up, follow up, and follow up some more.

March 3, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – It’s Up to You



Networking, relationship building, developing clients, passing referrals, showing appreciation to others, it’s all a lot of work. On top of this you have to run your business, whatever it is, and make sure that your employees do what they should, when they should, and that everything else is running smoothly. Work, work, work is all it is. What do you want, a walk in the park? You started a business because you may have had a better idea, for a product or service, or how to run a business. Now you have the chance to do it your way. It’s up to you.

Everything that happens in your business, whether you are a sole proprietor or you have employees, is your responsibility. If you have one location or many, it’s all your responsibility. You wanted this; you asked for it; you’ve got it. Whatever happens in your business, it’s up to you to make certain that it is done right, or done at all. Sure, you can delegate work to others; you can delegate responsibility through a chain of subordinates and managers and supervisors, but bottom line, it’s up to you.

Maybe you started your business to “do it right” since you were the “victim” of a badly run company. Maybe you changed industries after getting a “better” idea for the future. Whatever the reason, it’s your baby, you conceived it, you gave birth to it, and now it’s yours to run. It doesn’t matter what has happened since you got your original idea, it’s now up to you.

Maybe you have gotten sidetracked into areas that take up your time; maybe you have lost your original focus. Now is the time to stop, take a deep breath, and refocus your time and efforts to running the thing that you started, in the way that it should be run. It doesn’t matter what has happened. If your business is out of control, or off the track, you need to take charge and get it back on track, back to basics, and running the way that it should.

What if you were wrong in the original concept; what if you started out wrong? Now is the time to take a good look at what is happening, do some research, enlarge your knowledge base, and take action. If you have a problem of any type, fix it. If you tried something that isn’t working, fix it. If you need a small adjustment, do it. If you need a large one, do it. Don’t just sit there and watch your dream die; do something. If that doesn’t work, try something else.

We all wanted to build something that was ours, was done our way, and would mean something to ourselves, our families, and to others. Without that ego, we would have never had the courage to try this. Now may be the time to take action and do whatever it is to make it better, maybe make it succeed. It may be just time to make it survive. Whatever it is, it’s up to you. Now take a good look and see what needs to be done, and do it.

Can’t seem to identify what needs to be done? That’s what your network of other business owners is for. That is what your networking relationships are for. All those “partners” should be your first stop in looking for information on what may be wrong. That list also includes your employees and your customers. Their opinions should be high on your list of research.

Once again, please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691 with your thoughts. You may have the idea that allows someone to “save” their business, or even identify the problem that they may have before it destroys their business. Maybe you should just call someone and chat with them to catch up on what’s happening now. Maybe you both will benefit from a better partnership together.