October 29, 2017

Be a Product of Your Product

We should always endeavor to be professional in our business, passionate about our business, and personable with our clients and prospects. One of the ways that we can exhibit professionalism is to be a product of our product, use our service to represent the service, and share our knowledge with others.

Have you ever met a person who represents a company and does not use the products or services of the company? Have you ever met someone who is not a shining example of what they tell others? We meet these people each and every day, and they pepper us with wonderful stories about how their product or service is the one we should use, but they don’t.

A professional business person is one who has a valid product or service for a valid price, and they do not present their company’s product or service in a way that evades explanation. They are direct and straight forward in their presentations and in answering questions. They also present pricing information in the same manner, without misrepresentation.

A professional business person is also someone who uses the product or service of their company in their business and/or personal life. If they sell trucks, they use trucks in their business; if they are a realtor, they do not live in an apartment. If they are a financial planner, their life is financially stable; if they are a personal trainer, they are physically fit.

How can anyone present themselves as an example of their company’s product or service but not be a product of the product and still have credibility? I realize that there may be some situations where your product or service might be combined with some other product or service for a valid reason, but your main emphasis should be on your example to others.

It has been said that a cobbler’s children will go shoeless. What type of example is that? If you are a seamstress, your clothes cannot be in need of repair. If you are a house painter, your home should not need painting. You are your own best advertisement, and you work for a reasonable price. You need to represent yourself and your company in the best light.

Business coaches who cannot give professional presentations, accountants who do not keep accurate financial records, doctors who smoke, dentists with bad teeth, and police officers who have a disregard for the law are all people who are not products of their product. They have very little credibility, if any, with their clients and prospects.

To be professional in your business or personal life you must practice what you preach to others, you must have credibility in your dealings with others. People do business with, and refer business to, those who they know, like, and trust. If you have no credibility, others will not like or trust you. Therefore, they will not do business with, or refer others to, you.

If you want to be successful in your business and get, and keep, clients and receive referrals from others, be a product of your product or service. You must be an example of what you want others to use that your company has for sale. Have some thoughts on the subject? Leave me a comment, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com so we can share.

October 22, 2017

The Holiday Police

Attention: Holiday greetings can only be sent at the end of the year.
Signed: The Holiday Police

So, just who are these Holiday Police who dictate when we can send holiday greetings and when not to send them? Who appointed them to rule over our holiday spirits? No one, that’s who, and just what does this have to do with Gratitude Marketing?

So open up your holiday spirit and send greetings to anyone at any time during the year. After all, there are holidays all during the year that you can celebrate with your family, friends, prospects, customers, clients, and even your staff. You can bring the joy and fun of holidays to others all year long, and you can stand out from the crowd who just celebrate the holidays at the end of the year.

You will stand out from the crowd and be noticed when you don’t follow a crowd. You will create some fun for everyone and maybe have some fun yourself at the same time. Why should you get lost in the holiday creating crush at the end of the year? Why should your greetings get lost among the hundreds of thousands that everyone receives? Be different and celebrate other holidays and help your intended recipients do the same.

There are hundreds of other holidays during the year. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate the birthdays of each of the US Presidents; what about Thanksgiving? How about celebrating Halloween? There is always April Fools’ Day. Of course we can be more serious and celebrate the Fourth of July, Veterans’ Day, or Flag Day. You can pick from dozens of others: Arbor Day, National Sandwich Day, or Labor Day. You can even be imaginative and invent your own holidays. I know a store owner in Portland who started National Underwear Day because he operated an underwear store.

For every well-known holiday, there are many others which are forgotten, just begging to be celebrated. You might be the only business who sends greetings to customers on Houseplant Appreciation Day, or Leap Day, or National Teacher’s Day, or Hammock Day, or Festivus. I’ll bet none of your competitors will do so, and your greetings will stand out, providing some humor to the world.

So stop doing what everyone else does. Stop following the Holiday Police. Use your imagination and march to a different drummer. Send someone a National Hot Dog Day greeting; I dare you. They will realize that you cared enough to think of them without any intent to sell them anything or upgrade their order. You just wanted to bring some cheer and light into their lives at a time other than the end of the year. You practiced some Gratitude Marketing and sparked some fun for them and for you.

If you believe that this use of Gratitude Marketing is too bizarre for business or “just isn’t done”, that is nothing new to me. I have heard it all. “That won’t work. That isn’t how we do business. That’s not serious enough. We have always done this the same way. Everyone else does it this way.” Those are the words of the people who cannot think outside the box, who have no imagination. Maybe we should fill Gratitude Marketing with Imagination Marketing and shock the world.

Call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or leave your comments here. I would love to hear what you think of this “different” approach to Gratitude Marketing. Tell the Holiday Police that you are trying something new and their rules don’t apply to your business anymore.

October 15, 2017

Marketing Return on Investment

Deceasing, or increasing, your marketing budget may not be the best solution for problem times. Maybe you should use your current budget better rather than throwing more money into your efforts. Work smarter not harder. This is a rule that should apply to everything that you do in business, including your marketing. Using the correct tools is working smarter, especially when it may be easier, faster, and make you look better to your clients.

We all need to take an intelligent look at our marketing budgets and how we are applying those budgets to maximize our return on investment (ROI). Just as we should maximize the return on investment on all our expenses, hardware, software, furniture, equipment, every expense that we have, we need to do the same with our marketing budgets.

So how does Gratitude Marketing apply to marketing budgets and maximizing our return on investment? Sometimes the simpler methods are the most reasonably priced and the easier ones to implement and use. Tom Hopkins, the author of How to Master the Art of Selling, advocates the art of the thank you. Simply, he encourages everyone to thank everyone for whatever they may do.

Everyone includes anyone that you do business with, your customers, your suppliers, your contacts, businesses that you patronize each and every day, people that you meet, whether on purpose or by chance. How does this help improve your customer base? Maybe these people become customers; maybe they know others that can become customers; maybe they just become your networking partners.

The list of people to thank can be long. It includes your daily contacts, no matter the subject of any conversation. It also includes contacts after a marketing call on your or their part. It includes customers after their initial purchase, and after a repurchase. Perhaps a customer sends you a referral who might become your new customer; perhaps they introduce you to a new supplier who saves you money on their product or service. Maybe the recipient of your thank you is just someone who has touched you, or someone you know, in a special way.

Don’t forget to include people who you have not connected with in some time, and don’t forget to include the contacts that fail to become customers. They will appreciate your efforts and remember you when someone else needs your service or product. Have we left anyone out of this list? Everyone includes everyone that you know or that you meet or you remember in a moment of reflection.

Isn’t this expensive; doesn’t this cost money, time, and effort? Yes and no. It might replace a marketing effort that costs a lot more and brings you nothing in return. It might take less time and effort than you believe. Look at everything in your marketing plans with the return on investment question in your mind. Then look at the public perception of you and your business. What people believe you to be will shape their future business with you.

People do business with those that they know, trust, and perhaps like. Maybe you need to use that philosophy in building your client base, retaining the clients that you have, and obtaining referrals from those people that you know. It will make a difference in your business life. In addition it will make a difference in your personal life; the two are more connected than you think.

Do you want to chat with someone about your marketing budget and how it can be improved? Give me a call at 360-314-8691 so we can connect and help each other. Email me with your ideas and thoughts at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or leave your comments here for others. I am always looking to expand my networking partnerships. Then we will be discussing Gratitude Marketing.

October 8, 2017

Call Systems

In my efforts to teach others to bring a better experience to customers in the buying experience, I often discuss the greetings and messages that we have on our voice mails and call waiting systems. It doesn’t matter what system we use, there is no replacement for person to person contact and the ability of a customer to interact with a real, live customer service representative.

There is a need for customers to be able to call businesses to discuss problems, ordering, and any other interface question. Businesses must understand that customers have such needs from time to time, and it is more frequent if the business doesn’t practice great customer service in everyday situations. If I spend money to purchase a product or service from anyone, I expect that business to have the ability for me to call them on the telephone and discuss any problems that I may have.

If you practice Gratitude Marketing you will have the means for customers with problems to contact you. You will staff your call answering facility with enough trained and polite representatives to answer customer questions, resolve problems, and assist callers with solutions to their problems. Reading from marketing scripts does not help the customer who wants to cancel their order or service. Making it difficult for customers to do, or stop doing, business with you will bring you a bad reputation and will lose you business.

Let’s discuss the “automated” systems that most businesses have now. First, they must be user friendly. They must allow the caller to press a button and access a real, live representative without going through multi levels of questions, most of which may not apply. By the way, no business that I know that has tried voice recognition systems in lieu of allowing a customer to press their phone’s buttons has continued to do so solely as a manner of interface.

Second, there must be a choice for all the other problems that a customer may experience. Just a given set of choices that may not address the situation at hand is not enough. Always have a choice for the customer to access a live representative. Automated messages such as “Your call is very important to us” are an insult to the person who is on hold for over 5 minutes. If my call was important, you would have answered by now.

The announcement that “We are experiencing an unusually large call volume” is a lie if it is always heard every time anyone calls your business. Again, this is an insulting message that tells me that you don’t care about your customers. The same is true when anyone on hold is bombarded by messages asking them to upgrade the service when they just want a problem solved.

Trained customer service representatives who have the power to solve problems are so much better than the ones who only can follow a script. If they cannot resolve a problem, access to a supervisor or manager must be available. Gratitude Marketing means that if you accept my payment your business has the ability to resolve problems in a manner that is easy for me, the customer. If you cannot, you should get out of business now for you will be unsuccessful in the future because your reputation will be your downfall.

As always let me have your comments about Gratitude Marketing, karma in business, or even customer service in general, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Take my challenge to join me in a revolution in kindness towards everyone.

October 1, 2017

Do & Don’t (Part 2)

As a result of the influx of calls and emails that I received this past week regarding last week’s posting, I believe that I should share some of the items that your fellow readers have brought to my attention. I know that we have discussed some of these previously, but it would seem that a refresher posting may be in order.

We have discussed multiple times the importance of making it easy for someone to do business with you. Starting with your website or your initial contact with anyone and continuing throughout the process, make dealing with you a pleasure for everyone. If your customer actually buys from you but believes that the process was similar to a death march, they probably will not return for a second painful experience. Neither will they advise anyone else to do business with you. You want great referrals that bring people to you, not warnings that you are toxic.

When you follow-up with anyone after their initial purchase, or even a first meeting, keep it about them. Don’t try to immediately upgrade a first order customer to the next level, and don’t mix general greetings (happy birthday or anniversary wishes) with an offer to sell them anything. Since my birthday is next week, I have received a deluge of offers this weekend to purchase items at a savings. This type of offer is not my type of birthday wish.

We have touched often on the importance of contacting a lost customer and discovering what went wrong. Don’t try to woo them back; just find out why they walked away. Did you not do what you promised; did they misunderstand what they were purchasing; did someone in your staff fail to perform; did the customer not really want what you offered? You must discover what the reason was and take any steps necessary to correct any problems on your part. Remember knowledge is power even when it tells us we make a mistake.

Remember to listen to your prospects and discover what they need. If they don’t need whatever you offer, that’s fine. Try to help them to discover a source of their objectives, or help them understand what they really require if you believe that they are searching for the incorrect items. Networking partners must give advice as well as help us locate referrals for our businesses.

If you make a mistake, admit it, apologize, and move on. It is not the business that never makes mistakes that I want to buy from, but the one that handles mistakes well and makes the customer as “whole” as possible. If your customers never tell you that you made an error, but just go away, you do not have a great relationship with them.

Gratitude Marketing means that we treat others well, perhaps better that we might want to be treated. The only way to discover how you are treating others is to ask them. A good relationship would mean that they will tell you before you ask, but sometimes people are shy, or just don’t want to face conflict. Make them understand that you want and need their opinions. After all it might be better for you to hear how your partners feel before other prospects do.

As always let me have your comments about Gratitude Marketing, karma in business, or even customer service in general, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Let’s see if Gratitude Marketing can result in some great business success and fun times.