Tag: Small Business

Word of Mouth Tactics – Part 1

Today we’ll start a new series talking all about Word of Mouth and how it can make or break your business in an extremely short amount of time. In this first lesson, we’ll get a feel for what exactly word of mouth is.

Word of Mouth is easily the most powerful form of marketing and is absolutely free. People talk about ads they see, experiences they have, and the products they purchase. If you treat people right and spread the word about your new products/services positively, you’ll attract the right customers and clients who will sustain your business for a long time.

Now, as positive as word of mouth can be for your business, the other side of the coin is how negative it can be as well. Bad news seems invariable to travel faster than good news, and if you have a less than high-quality product or weak customer service system, then your customers will tell everyone they know not to buy your products and services.

The age of technology has proved to be a fantastic benefit in the world of word of mouth. With blogs, podcasts, online marketing, forums, social networking, and all the other online mediums available, it is easier for consumers to share their experiences. And, remember this is all free advertising for you.

Let’s take a minute to discuss the importance of shortening the customer decision cycle to help customers/clients choose more quickly and easily. There are three great ways to increase sales by shortening the decision cycle. They are:

  • Increase the overall dollar amount customers spend on each purchase.
  • Increase your number of customers.
  • Increase frequency of purchases.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at decision speed. Offer simplicity, ease, and a fun purchasing atmosphere and you’ll help your customers make their decisions quicker and more confidently. When this happens your customers will buy more frequently, spend more money than usual, refer friends, and decide to purchase more quickly. This can raise your market share by over 100 times.

The time it takes your customer to decide and purchase far outweighs any other component of marketing. When you focus on customer decision speed, it forces you to take a hard look at your company and brand image, positioning, value, customer service, guarantees, and product quality.

The next area I want to talk about quickly is how to minimize the friction, or stress, involved with decision making. No matter how easily people find decision-making, we all experience a certain amount of anxiety when making a purchase, especially from a new source or for a large amount of money. When you help minimize this emotional response, you will soothe your customers’ anxiety, and they will make their decision quicker and more confidently.

There are a few secrets to accelerate the customer’s decision making progress:

Your benefits, features, claims, and promises must be obvious, clear, and concise.

The information you offer must be complete, easy to understand, credible, and balanced.

Use comparisons that show a marked difference.

Your guarantees must be rock solid and more than the customer expects.

Make trial periods easy.

You must have simple evaluations of your products or services.

Testimonials need to be relevant and positive.

Your support, delivery, and other operational systems must be perfect.

Your website can be as good as you make it. You can offer more than information. You can offer an experience that guides your customers gently through the decision-making process to make it easy for them to buy. Take it a step beyond by offering toll-free support numbers, software downloads to help with the process or other classy and informative ways to reassure your customers that you are there with them every step of the way and have nothing to hide.

This wraps up the first post in our series on word of mouth. If you need help identifying your target market and the issues they are experiencing during their purchase that makes their decision time long, try our GUIDED TOUR and work with one of our coaches to come up with the best way to smooth out your purchasing experience.

Next time we’ll move forward with word of mouth and talk about the power of word of mouth and what precisely this powerful tool is, and what it can be used for.

Maximize Your Resources – Part 3

In the last post, we talked about three more ways to maximize your current resources. They included:

  • Reveal your business’ soul
  • From breaking even to breaking the bank
  • Stand up and stand out

Today we’ll talk about the last three areas you can work on to maximize your current resources. They are:

  • An offer they can’t refuse
  • Would you like fries with that?
  • Stay away from the edge of the cliff

An Offer They Can’t Refuse

The secret to success is to stay ahead of your competitor – maintain a competitive edge. To do that, you need to make it easier for your customers/clients to say “yes” rather than “no.” You do this by eliminating all the psychological, financial, physical, emotional, and other roadblocks they may have.

You can take the risk for them by offering warranties and guarantees that make the customer feel more confident in you, your business, and your products/services. You also must be serious about your offer and follow through if a situation does arise. The quickest way to the bottom is to play games or take back a warranty or guarantee.

Would You Like Fries With That?

It’s the oldest trick in the book. I mean, really, how many times a week do you fall for it? Every time you sell a product or service, you need to offer an add-on, upgrade, or back-end product to go with it. These products must be complementary to the original product being purchased and must create a higher perceived value.

Avoid the Edge of the Cliff

Continuing to test and measure your systems, products, marketing methods and all other aspects of your business allows you to see problems before they happen and avoid falling off the edge of the cliff.

Here are a few specific areas you can test for potential improvements:

  • Marketing
  • Sales Copy
  • Customer Service
  • Sales Letters
  • Sales Presentations
  • Employee-Customer Interaction

Through testing these different areas, you will find products/services where you can raise the price, maybe others where you can lower the price or offer that product as an incentive item, and discover many other areas for improvement that will better utilize your current resources.

This wraps up our series on how to maximize your current resources. If you need help working through any of these or the previous areas, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with one of our amazing business coaches.

Maximize Your Resources – Part 2

Last time we talked about the first three areas to work through in maximizing your current resources. They were:

  • Recognize the obvious
  • Unconventional breakthroughs
  • Face the facts

 

Today we’ll cover the next three, which are:

  • Reveal your business’ soul
  • From breaking even to breaking the bank
  • Stand up and stand out

 

Reveal Your Business’ Soul

Every business has a soul, and you likely felt it the strongest when your business was just starting. It’s that passion, newness, and momentum you had at the very beginning. Sometimes that can get lost along the way as your business gets stagnant and set in its ways. You have to break out of that rut and get back to your business’ true soul.

The philosophy of putting your client’s needs above your own is the true key to success. You need to serve your clients, not sell to them. They want to build a relationship based on trust, not a used car. Add to these responsibilities your ability to solve problems, handle special situations, be a friend to your clients, and focus on offering valuable, high-quality products/services. Only then will you get back to the basics and find you have more resources than you thought.

From Breaking Even to Breaking the Bank

One of the classic and most used ways to attract clients is to offer them a ridiculously low price on their initial purchase and lock them in for future purchases. You see this approach with movie or book clubs and even credit card companies who offer lower interest rates for the first six months.

Essentially, you are offering them a deal on their first purchase and then you offer them back-end and add-on products along the way. These are naturally higher prices and will bring them into an intimate relationship with you and your company.

Stand Up and Stand Out

You need to stand out from the pack among your competitors. The only way you can do this through consistency and value. You do this by discovering what your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is and perfecting it. Here are some tips to help you find and develop your USP:

  1. Look for unfilled needs in your industry.
  2. Use preemptive marketing.
  3. Use a technique that is clear and to the point.

This wraps up this post. If you need help with any of these areas and techniques, try our GUIDED TOUR to access a wealth of resources and tools.

Maximize Your Resources – Part 1

Over the next few posts, we’re going to talk about how to take a hard look at your current resources and get the most out of them. This can help your capital go further and increase your profit margin.

Today we’ll cover three different ways to maximize what you already have. These include:

  • Recognize the obvious
  • Unconventional breakthroughs
  • Face the facts

 

Recognize the Obvious

Sometimes when you are too close to something, you can’t make out the big picture. You need to step back and take a hard look at the resources you currently have in front of you. You are surrounded by opportunities that can boost your career and help your business become more successful.

Unconventional Breakthroughs

Don’t sit around waiting for breakthroughs. You need to create them yourself. A breakthrough is merely a new way of doing things or finding a new thing to do for the same or better results. It would be best to have regular brainstorming sessions and encourage your team to come forward with breakthroughs or ideas any time they have them.

Some great examples of breakthroughs are:

  • A health and beauty company discovers a side effect of a product that can be re-marketed and sold.
  • A company creates a roll-on deodorant inspired by the shape and size of a ballpoint pen.
  • Nike’s founder poured rubber onto a waffle iron and created the most innovative and successful running shoe ever.

 

When attracting or strategizing for a breakthrough, there are some key objectives you need to keep in mind. They are:

  1. Look for the hidden opportunity in every situation.
  2. Look for at least one cash windfall for your business every three months.
  3. The more value for your client, the better your breakthrough.
  4. Create multiple streams of an idea to find the best breakthroughs.
  5. Effective breakthroughs remove all risk or resistance.

Face the Facts

Before you can put your breakthroughs to work, you need to face the facts of the processes and systems that are not working for you and work to correct or get rid of them. System analysis is an excellent way to do this. Once you have a listing of your strengths and weaknesses, you need to compare those to your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.

You can present some great questions to you and your team to get a handle on where your business is right now. They are:

  1. Why did I first start this business? Why am I in this industry?
  2. What products/services did I offer then? Which were the most popular?
  3. Why are my customers/clients buying from me right now?
  4. How did I generate new customers/clients then?
  5. Which of my marketing efforts were bringing in the best results?

Once you’ve got some answers to these questions, you’ll know better how to approach your weaknesses.

These three areas we’ve gone over give you a jumping-off point for how to utilize your current resources to their fullest potential. If you need any help with your strategic or systems analysis, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with one of our amazing business coaches.

5 Killer Mistakes – Part 3

The last two posts covered the first four of the killer mistakes you can make that will not only make you lose your fish but possibly your entire company. Today we’re going to talk about the fifth killer mistake: Up Cash Creek Without a Paddle.

Even when a business is profitable, there’s still a chance of running out of cash flow. You have to always be prepared for a slow in sales or a surge in expenses. One of the keys to balancing your cash flow is to get your clients to pay on time. This can seem like a nightmare, but is absolutely essential to a successful business.

Here are some tips to speed up the payment process:

  • Always send invoices on time and adjust your records for potential audits.
  • Learn how the client processes payments on their side and find out precisely where to send invoices.
  • Find out who’s in charge of processing orders and payment, so you know who to contact if needed.
  • Have a follow-up procedure in place, just in case.
  • As a last resort, call your contact to ask questions.
  • Always make sure your invoices are correct before sending them out.

 

You also need to make sure your cash flow is protected. You can do this by:

 

  • Always know which accounts need paid and when.
  • Negotiate with your suppliers for the lowest cost possible.
  • Have a bank contingency plan in place.
  • Build your own inventor network.

 

These are all great ways to protect your business’s cash flow and prepare for fish transitions and slow sales. These last few lessons are all about finding and catching your big fish clients. These clients are essential to your success, and your need to carefully and correctly work through each of these steps for the best success.

If you need help with any step of the process of catching your fish or subsequent big fish clients, try our GUIDED TOUR for access to a wealth of great tools and resources as well as our business coaching staff.

5 Killer Mistakes – Part 2

In the last post, we covered the first two of the five biggest mistakes you can make in dealing with big fish clients. Today we’ll cover the third and fourth ones: Taking on More Than You Can Handle.

When you take on too much, your business can’t keep up, and therefore you can quickly lose control of everything and find yourself barely functioning. You want your business to be successful, no doubt, but you need to plan how you will handle the growth. Your clients expect excellent customer service and high-quality products/services. They don’t know or care about your behind-the-scenes operations required to get those things done.

  • Look for these signs that you are taking on more than you can handle:
  • Clients’ needs aren’t being met.
  • Employee morale is low, clients are upset, and you’re in a panic.
  • You have to react in emergency mode to save accounts.
  • Your current clients are suffering from trying to keep up with new business.
  • Profits are going down.
  • You are just trying to pick up the pieces of your business.
  • Your clients/customers leave.
  • Resources are being reallocated.

 

There a trick called the Mock Fish Plan. This plan can help you react positively when you are facing some or all of these things and help you get your business back on track. This plan will:

  • Help increase sales in a short period of time.
  • Alter your products/services for the better.
  • Fulfill the promises you made to your clients.

 

There are six steps to this plan:

  1. Bring in your best team and have them all help to meet the fish needs.
  2. Review your operational system.
  3. Anticipate future problems better.
  4. Communicate better.
  5. Include costs in your quotes.
  6. Always have a back-up plan.

All Your Eggs in One Basket

You can allow your company to become dependent on any one fish. Eventually, or for specific periods, there will be a slowing down period with your fish. To stay in the game, you need to diversify.

If you’ve ever mishandled a fish, you could drive away potential fish as well. In order to keep balance and prepare for a healthy future, there are a few things you can do.

  • These things include:
  • Stay in the loop and try to know what’s going on inside your fish company.
  • Constantly reinvent yourself and stay at the top of your industry.
  • Stay exclusive.
  • Try to secure multi-year commitments and contracts.
  • Spread your contracts out.
  • Price your products/services correctly.

 

You will also need to work to reduce your dependency on your fish. Generally, this can be measured in sales or profits. Please take a look back at the process we’ve used thus far to snag more fish to keep this all in balance.

These are the ways you can help avoid the killer mistakes that can make you lose it all. If you need help with any of these tips or tricks, try our GUIDED TOUR to get the help you need fast.

Next time we’ll talk about the last of the killer mistakes and how to combat it from hitting your business hard.