September 29, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Be Personal

Last week we discussed that we need to be creative in our business operation, how to implement changes, and what can result from being more creative. At the same time that we are being inventive and updating our operation, we should endeavor to become more personal in dealing with clients, prospects, and everyone else.
This involves the basics of Appreciation Marketing, treating all our customers, prospects, family, friends, and anyone else as people, real people, not like account numbers. Consider how we would want to be treated by someone with whom we were doing business and act accordingly. Actually, we should treat others better than we would expect to be treated.
Exactly what does it mean to treat someone as a person and not as a number? When we address them, we should call them by their name. Stop sending mail addressed to “Resident”, “Occupant”, or “Our Friends At”. If we are their friend, we should know and use their name. We should avoid the use of blind presentations of all sorts.
We should discover what our prospects need before we attempt to sell them what we have. Marketing a car to someone who does not have a driver’s license is just wrong and will not gain us any good will or referrals. Discover what someone needs and then try to provide that if you can, or refer them to someone who can fulfill their need. We should not try to sell something to someone just because we have it in stock.
We should discover more about our prospects and customers. When is their birthday; what is their spouse’s name, and birthday; what are their children’s names and birthdays; what is their anniversary date? Sending out a birthday or anniversary card can tell our prospects and customers that we care enough to notice the events in their lives. It is an easy program to start and fulfill.

How would a client react to receiving a card thanking them for allowing us to be of service to them for another year (on the anniversary of them starting business with us)? How would they react to receiving congratulations on their being in business for another year in these difficult times? There are all sorts of occasions when we can reach out to our clients and prospects and “touch” them in a significant manner.

Referrals are the backbone of all businesses, and our happy customers should be providing us referrals as much as they can. Just how should we deal with a referral from our current client who believes that we are the perfect contact for their trusted associate? We must immediately contact the referral and express our desire to follow up with them, and we must thank the referring client.

We should assure the referring client that their referrals will receive the same excellent service that we have provided and that we appreciate their referral. We then should reward the referring client in some manner that is creative and personal. It doesn’t need to be an expensive gift, but everyone likes to be noticed and treated in a special way.

Being personal doesn’t have to be difficult or interfere with our normal business operation. Reaching out to clients, prospects, and others in a personal manner can be rewarding and allows our clients to have a positive experience with us. That results in more long term clients, more appreciative prospects, and more referrals. Please leave your comments here, or email me at, or call me at 360-314-8691.

September 22, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Be Creative

So you started a business or joined a company, and you can’t seem to get it going. Maybe you have been in business for some time, and your business has slumped. Your client list may have stopped growing, or maybe it has shrunk in size and number. You have a great product or service, but you can’t seem to attract any new clients or hold on to the ones you have.
You have heard the advice that it takes 10 times the amount of money, effort, and time to attract a new client as it does to hold a current one. You have listened to all the “experts” saying that you need to do this or try that. You are still stuck in neutral and can’t seem to get going and attract new clients or maintain the ones you have.
Listening to the advice of others, going to seminars, watching webinars, or even employing coaches is great if you remember one additional thought. You must act on whatever you learn from all these sources of information. I have always believed that you must keep learning and reinforcing what you know. You must devote a certain amount of time, perhaps every day, to self-improvement.
However, all the information in the world will not do you any good, if you don’t act on what you learn. Information is power, but it is useless, or powerless, if you don’t put it into action. If you don’t, all the time, effort and money you spent gaining it is wasted. You must act to implement what you have learned.
When I worked in systems development, I heard all the excuses. “We’ve never tried that; we have always done it this way; that’s too advanced for us; that won’t work here.” Maybe it is right, but maybe it is wrong. If you try something and it doesn’t work, try something else. Maybe it works, but something else may work better, try that. You must get creative.

I once had a boss who would infuriate me with the belief that the only thing that was the same was change. Change must happen, and will happen no matter what we do or believe. The weather will change; the business climate will change; customers will change, both in what they want and how they want it. By seeking and absorbing information, we change. To not change is to wither and die.

You must recognize change, research change, and react to it. Perhaps even better would be to anticipate it and be ready before it happens. Learning is a valuable and powerful activity. Implementing knowledge is even more powerful. You must recognize the knowledge that comes your way which may assist you in dealing with change. You must also be aware that you need to implement that knowledge.

Your networking partners can help you gain the knowledge that may help you better your business. They can provide you data to decide what information should be implemented and how. They can also help you analyze the results of changing the what or how you deal with your product, services, or your clients. Reach out to them and ask for help. True networking partners will be there for you.

Please leave your comments here, or email me at, or call me at 360-314-8691. Be creative in your information gathering and implementing the changes that you believe will help you. Remember that change can be good, but you must manage it through knowledge, assistance from others, and being brave.

September 15, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Innovation

Are you someone who embraces change, or do you prefer the traditional, proven methods of operation? Innovation is often seen as the way for a business to make itself more effective and maybe more attractive with their prospect and customer base.
You will be judged as you perform your duties as a business person. Are you innovative in your performance, and do you embrace positive, supportive thoughts and actions? Do you believe in new ways of operation, or are you stuck in the past? Can you change your mode of operation to fit your prospect base, or should you do so?
Innovation can be a two-edged sword for a business. Some of your customers or clients will love your ability to embrace innovation and improve your operation or product line. Some of them may see your changes as symptoms of inconsistency and may worry that you don’t know what type of business you really are or what you want to be.
Innovation can be seen as a strong characteristic of your business, or it can be considered as an unattractive trait. Do your prospects and customers never know what you are doing, or are they comfortable with your willingness to implement newer methods and products? If you believe in the traditional, proven methods, realize that stagnation may be perceived as unattractive.
Change for change’s sake is not wise. I have heard: “I need to make something happen.” Perhaps that may be the correct attitude, but change can backfire on any business if it is not well thought out, planned, and implemented in the correct manner. Planning, planning, and more planning can make change successful. Lack of preparation and research can lead to frustration and lost reputation.
We all love to operate comfortably. We get settled in relaxed, easy to implement methods of operation that make us happy and worry free. However, you may be seen as inflexible and “fuddy-duddy” by some of your prospects and customers. On the other hand, some customers do not like new product offerings or packages. Prospects may perceive changing product offerings as very confusing and unstable.
Your impression on the public, whether on prospects or customers, must be positive and supportive. All businesses must have a core of clients from whom they can request feedback. Perhaps this research can be analyzed before a major change is implemented, but information must be requested and reviewed on an ongoing basis. I have always embraced innovation and change, but if we make a mistake we must be willing to either rollback that change or try something else.
Intelligence cannot be omitted from a shift in operation or product offering. You must do your homework and plan any change that you have in mind. The foundation of innovation is intelligent planning, preparation, and having alternative plans if the first does not succeed. Use your mind and the information that you collect every day to operate your business.

Please leave your comments here, or email me at, or call me at 360-314-8691. Innovation can be very beneficial to any business. However, it can also be the problem that breaks your operation into pieces that you may not be able to put back together. Remember your client and prospect base needs you to be supportive and responsive to their needs, and they must be comfy with you and your business.

September 8, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Perfection

As a business person, must you always be perfect? Are you supposed to always perform exactly as expected? Do you demand perfection from your employees? Do you expect your business partners to be perfect in their performance?
I have never met anyone who was always perfect. It doesn’t matter if it is normal business performance, following up on promises or requests, or making daily decisions that may seem mundane; we all make mistakes. To expect any more would be unreasonable and ridiculous on our part as realists.
What happens when you, or one of your staff, make a mistake? Do you hold your staff to standards far above those to which you hold yourself accountable? Would you fire yourself for making the same mistake as one of your employees? Errors are a wonderful teaching opportunity for all of us.
Mistakes, which are normal for everyone, are a chance for us to learn. They may also be opportunities to learn what the result may be when we try something new. We must learn from our mistakes, as well as those of others. We learn to not repeat the error, or we learn to change our actions to accommodate the results that we did not anticipate.
Have you ever make an error in your actions that produced results that were better than you would have received if you had never erred in the first place? It sometimes works out that way. The error becomes the path of action that we never considered or, if we did, would have never followed, but may be successful in a different manner.

I never expect anyone to be perfect in every instance of their daily actions. I may be disappointed, but I never expect perfection. It’s not that they fail to perform to the expected level, but how they react to their errors defines what type of business operation they have. What do they do as a result of their errors?

Do they take ownership of an error, no matter who in their organization failed to perform correctly, or do they blame everyone else? Does the owner of the business or a lower level manager take charge and accept responsibility for an error? Whoever your internal organization determines was responsible does not matter to the client who has suffered from mistakes; take ownership of each error and move on to fixing them.

After accepting an error, takes steps to fix it and attempt to return the client to the point originally anticipated. You may not be able to do this completely, but try anyway. In addition, make the inconvenience up to the client is some way. In other words, try to over-compensate the client for their situation. They may surprise you in their reaction.

Finally, take action to prevent the mistake from reoccurring, and tell the client what you have done. I may forgive a business for the error that affected me, but I may not refer anyone to them if they don’t convince me that the mistake may not happen again, especially to my referral. Fixing the problem is one action; fixing the cause is another.

Please leave your comments here, or email me at, or call me at 360-314-8691. Errors will happen to all of us in our business operations, and no one should expect perfection. When mistakes do occur, how do you react, and how do you treat the client and the person making the error? If you are the damaged client, how do you treat the business partner who failed to be perfect in their service to you?

September 1, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – No

Have you ever said “No” to a prospect when they asked you for a reduced rate for your product or service? As a prospect have you ever said “No” to someone who was attempting to market something to you? Does “No” mean that anyone should get their feelings injured or believe that they are inadequate in some manner?
As a marketer, I was taught that I should never allow anyone to walk away from me when they say “No”. Is there a limit as to how low you will reduce your price just to make the sale? At what level does the sale mean that you will lose money that you will never make up no matter how many sales you make? Have you ever “fired” a customer?
These are questions that are fraught with negativity, but they must be asked of any business owner when they are attempting to market their product or service. They also must be considered when your customers keep asking for lower and lower prices or greater discounts. When do you reach that point where you just cannot stay in business if you continue to lower your prices?
Staying in business is one of the main objectives of your business, if not the most important one. If you cannot make enough money to stay in business, you will not benefit anyone, especially yourself. You must make enough money on your sales to pay your bills, including salaries, rent, maintenance, etc. You also should gain enough profit to put back into yourself and into your business to improve both.

You must be able to tell prospects that you cannot, and will not, reduce your prices just to gain their business. You must set your prices at a level that will maintain your viability to continue in business. If you discount a price for someone once, they should not bully you into continuing to discount your prices just to keep their business if it will not provide you enough funds to stay open.

I have “fired” customers who believed that they could bully me into reducing my prices below what was fair and equitable. I also know that no one else would permanently do the same just to keep their business. I want to do business with people who are fair, honest, and understand what a product or service is worth. Anyone else is just into a quick sale with no long term relationship in mind.

I meet people who agree with every point that I have made here, but when they are the prospect, they want everything discounted because they believe that they “deserve it”. When asked, they cannot tell you why they “deserve it”. However, while their prices are “set in concrete”, they believe that they should “wrangle blood” out of others. Good luck with your long term relationships and the referrals that you will never receive.

As a business person what principles do you follow when you are marketing to others, and do they remain the same when you are the prospect? Can you say ‘No” when marketing to your prospects, and can you understand it when you hear it from someone who is marketing to you? Remember you are known by your actions, all of them.

Please leave your comments here, or email me at, or call me at 360-314-8691. The word “No” can be viewed as steeped in negativity, or it can be seen as just another word in a relationship benefiting all parties. “No” is not the end of the world, but the word should never be ignored when you are in a business relationship. It is just another word in the language of business.