October 30, 2016

Standards

Recently I read an article about customer service standards by Michele McGovern regarding standards of customer service in various companies. The theory is that companies should have and enforce standards within their operations which promote great customer service. These standards may be what we should all expect or may be ones which address the little things that enhance the customer experience. Customers may never have thought of some standards, but they should find them all rewarding.

As business people we should all examine our operations and install a culture of standards that make our customers’ experience when dealing with our businesses more pleasant and rewarding. Someone may buy a widget from us at a great price that lasts forever, never needing replacement. What do we care about them after the purchase from us? They may never need another widget, but do they know someone who would also like to have one of our widgets?

What does that customer say about the buying experience that they “enjoyed” with us? Did we make it easy to purchase from us; did we may the experience fun and something that they would not shy away from in the future? What will they say to someone else who asks them how it was to buy from us? Will they offer favorable comments, or will they tell everyone to never, ever do business with us?

We all want to expand our customer base, but we must also expand our client base. We have discussed the difference between customers and clients before. A customer may make a purchase once from us, but a client should be ours for life. That client should be our objective; they should be that partner in business, that networking relationship which can make our business successful.

If a customer buys something from us that they may never need to replace, we should not write them off in our minds as lost. We must understand that they may know others who need whatever we offer. However, what does that customer say about the experience that they had when buying from us? Their experience should make them our marketing consultants, telling everyone that they will also enjoy their own buying experience.

Do we maintain standards that make us businesses with which others want to engage in buying from us? Do we deliver the same product in the same manner every time someone buys from us? Do we make that experience pleasurable? Do we even ask our customers how their experience was? Do our employees know our standards even if they are involved in all of them? Do they support our maintaining these standards? Do our standards cover everything from the initial prospect contact to recovery from business mistakes? Are they just for disciplining our employees?

In our Gratitude Marketing we have learned that we should appreciate and have gratitude for our customers’ business and their input to our business practices. We must establish standards that reflect this gratitude and maintain those standards all across our businesses. Through these standards we may obtain, retain, and enhance our customer relationships, making clients who are our best marketing branch. Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@JimTeasley.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.

October 23, 2016

Opportunity Knocks

As business owners we must be aware of the opportunities which we discover each and every day. These opportunities may be the result of careful and extensive planning on our parts, or they may be because of pure unplanned chance. It does not matter why we find these opportunities; we must be alert to taking advantage of all openings that may lead to our bettering our business bottom line.

Business people are proud of researching ways of finding prospects and planning what we do when we locate these prospects in order to turn prospects into potential customers. We study, plan, study some more, and plan some more. Then we try to put our plans into action, adjusting as we go to refine the steps we take. We are not afraid of taking chances, trying new methods, and thinking “outside the box”.

Sometimes all this planning and thinking gives us great results. Sometimes it does not. We have learned that business success is not a given, not a promised result. It is gained through hard work, dedication to our business, and the service that we provide to everyone, including those people whom we fail to sign as customers.

On the other hand, we must be aware of opportunities that may present themselves “out of the blue”, which are not the result of our planning and business projections. Sometimes we just happen to be in the right place at the right time. These are the times in which we must be intelligent and alert enough to take advantage of the chance which fate has given to us and reap the benefit of the person who is right in front of through chance.

When is the last time that we reacted to a chance conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop? How about the guest speaker at our networking meeting? Did we engage the visitor to our Chamber of Commerce meeting? Do we listen to conversations that we overhear in public places (coffee shops, restaurants, on or while awaiting mass transit, doctors’ waiting rooms, or any other places where people gather)? We must be aware of these openings and act on them.

We spend money, time, and effort on developing opportunities for our business to gain new prospects. We should also take advantage of those which present themselves “out of the blue” and take action when they arrive. Do we deserve these chances to find new customers, or have we really “earned” them? Of course we have. Never pass up a chance which presents itself when we least expect one and believe that it didn’t result from our hard work. Of course it did; we just didn’t anticipate it.

As business owners we must not only recognize opportunities that arrive when we do not expect them, we must take advantage of these “found” chances to expand our business customer list. We also should learn to expect these chances to arrive and know that we have the intelligence and planning to act positively and add some unintended prospect to our customer base.

Gratitude Marketing means that we develop relationships with others, helping them to find whatever they need. It therefore adds to our reputation and will present us opportunities which we may not expect to expand our business. Not only should we be ready to take advantage of the chance opportunities, we should also learn to expect them because of our Gratitude Marketing. Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@JimTeasley.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.

October 16, 2016

Time to Upgrade

Periodically we all must upgrade what we say and what we do in businesses. While we know that we must be consistent in our business dealings, we also know that fresh, new ideas require fresh, new discussion and marketing. We must be interesting and not boring when we market. We must not have our prospects “tune us out” when we attempt to market our ideas and attempt to explain our products or services.

Honest, truthful messages are the backbone of any successful business. Do not attempt to “put one over” on prospects. Just give others the truth in a straight forward manner, and allow sincerity to convince the public that we are what they need. Never make the buying prospects second guess marketing messages and believe that they are being deceived.

However, we must also understand that honest, straight forward marketing messages must be refreshed from time to time so prospects will not become bored with the our words and efforts. We must upgrade our messages to reflect changing products or services as well as the new and different times in which we market. New generations want new messages as well as products. Different people require a different approach from us.

Changed your product or service offered lately? Do your marketing messages reflect you new offerings? What about a new, and different, generation of prospects; your marketing must reach out to them in a language that they understand? Do you even understand the language of your prospects, the inclinations, the verbiage, and the need for communication? Do you understand the marketing methods that you can use?

What about the marketing messages that worked so well in the past and still apply to your current offerings? Have prospects “tuned us out” of their minds? Should we still utilize something that is not meeting our needs? If I attend a networking meeting where I introduce myself in turn with everyone else, I always attempt to make myself stand out to the point that others will want to meet with me and get to know me better. I also try to mix up the message and use new, fresh thoughts and words in my introduction.

Of course, that introduction is just the means we use to get a meeting with someone to start building a business relationship. There we apply Gratitude Marketing to discover what we can do to help someone else find what they need in their business. Just upgrading what we say to them when they ask what we do may be the ticket to developing a new prospect. We do not want them to believe that they have heard the story before from us or someone else. We must explain what makes us different and better.

Gratitude Marketing means that we develop relationships with others and discover what we can assist them in obtaining that will bring them success. We must understand that while our message may be truthful, sincere, and direct, it can also be boring and dull. We must understand changing generations and prospects who need to be excited as we are about what we offer. They will then actually hear what we have to say and understand more about our offering that will benefit them. Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@JimTeasley.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.

October 9, 2016

How It Should Work

Over and over again I have suggested, implored, and taught business owners to meet others one-on-one and get to know them before attempting to sell them anything. People purchase from those whom they know, like, and trust. They also refer business to those whom they know, like, and trust. How can anyone fit into that scenario if we don’t get to know them and allow them to know us first?

In the past weeks I met another business person on LinkedIn who is not located in my immediate geographical area. We had a great conversation via telephone (yes, we actually spoke with each other in lieu of texting) and agreed to meet face-to-face when I was planning to travel closer to where he is located. He was definitely in agreement with the philosophy to get to know each other better without “selling” to each other.

So, we planned, and executed a coffee shop meeting in his geographical area and had an excellent chat with each other. We talked about how we came to where we are in business, our personal lives, and what we were looking to accomplish in our futures. We discussed common ground areas in business, business philosophy, and how we deal with mutual challenges. We got to know each other better than we could have otherwise.

We did share the details of what we do in business and gave each other examples of opportunities which might interest each other. These included networking opportunities, actual business opportunities, and shared knowledge about specific items of importance. It was an excellent example of the type of meeting that should always take place between business people who have recently met and want to build a relationship which should help move each other to have success.

This type of meeting requires some work on the part of the participants. We did some research on each other prior to the meeting, including reviewing each other’s LinkedIn profiles, websites, business history, and any other material available. Based on what we learned from this research, and our previous telephone conversation, we had a running start for our one-on-one conversation.

As business owners, all of us must develop new prospects and move those prospects to the category of customers and even further to become clients. Can we benefit from people who are not our customers, perhaps not even prospects for whatever products or services that we offer? Of course we can; they can become networking partners who advise us, suggest opportunities to us, and refer others to us who are prospects for us and whatever we do offer. This is just the group to which Gratitude Marketing is so applicable, in addition to being appropriate for our customers.

Gratitude Marketing means that we develop relationships with other people who may be prospects for our businesses and who can benefit from whatever we offer. Gratitude Marketing also means developing relationships with those who may never become our prospects or customers but will assist us in building our business success. They are our networking partners and our mutually benefiting relationship is the essence of great business. Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@JimTeasley.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.

October 2, 2016

The Professional Touch

Recently I attended a trade show where there were many businesses showing off their products or services with booths staffed by their representatives. There were large booths with several people speaking with attendees of the show, and there were smaller ones with 1-2 people present. There were grandiosely decorated booths and simpler ones.

We have all either been an attendee at one of these shows, or we have been one of the booth owners. There are several common sense guidelines that should be followed when being in either position. Anyone might benefit from being in either position if one follows some of these guidelines and treats the show as a business situation.

The attitude of an attendee or a representative of a booth holder is very important. This is a business event and should be treated as such. This is work and an opportunity to market ourselves and our businesses. Just like any other networking event, we can make it a successful opportunity by our attitude and our actions, or we can fail to take advantage of the situation by our attitude and behavior towards others.

We must be active. If we are attending an event, take the initiative and speak to everyone in their booths. Treat them as if the conversation was taking place in their office. Be professional and find out about what they offer and what they might need. The same holds true if we are the person in the booth representing the business in question. Be professional, answer questions, and try to build relationships.

Everyone who visits a booth will not necessarily need or want what the business offers. However, they may know someone who does, or they may realize a need at a later date. The visitor may have information about other opportunities for the booth holder to market their products or services that may help the business better themselves. The very limited time spent in conversation may reward either or both parties in ways that they may not anticipate. Remember information is powerful.

A booth holder must have a representative in their booth who is actively working to market the business. Sitting behind a table, reading a book, and passing time is not going to bring success. An informational booth with material for visitors to take, without someone there to greet them, will never be successful. (I passed up 3 such booths at the event I attended.) If we are working in a booth, we cannot be alone. We must have someone to assist us for breaks and other reasons.

We must have materials which will enable a booth visitor to take with them for later reference. If we are attending a show, we must be willing to provide information for the booth representatives to follow-up with us. A lack of such material does not show professionalism on either part, and we must have a sufficient supply for the entire show. Many subsequent contacts have been made through information contained in such material, and it must be complete, especially with contact information.

Gratitude Marketing does not mean that we must give away the store at a trade show type event. It also does not mean that we must sell to everyone that we meet. If we conduct ourselves in a pleasant, professional manner, whether we may be an attendee at a show or the representative of a booth holder, we can reap success. Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@JimTeasley.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.