Archive for the Category ◊ Marketing ◊

Author:
• Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

I hear the phrase “relationship marketing” more and more these days.  Based on the definition in Wikipedia, it is the marketing effort which focuses on customer retention, satisfaction, and referrals from those satisfied customers.  So, basically, it’s

  • taking care of a customer for the long term,
  • building a relationship based on more than just a single purchase,
  • giving the customer value beyond the value perceived in that one purchase.

Therefore, relationship marketing is the alter-ego of advertising which aims to acquire more first-time customers.  The objective of relationship marketing is to satisfy and retain the customers you already have so that they’ll

  1. continue buying from you and
  2. refer other customers to you by word-of-mouth.

Typically, you hear more about how to get new customers, how to reach more people.  However, in a contracting economy, new customers are harder to get.  Plus, you’ve already done the hard part to acquire the customers you have.  Why not take care of them?

The concept of relationship marketing has been around a long time. It really isn’t new.  But what IS new about the customer or the marketplace?  The modes of communication used to build relationships with customers are new.

Gone are the days when you built relationships with customer by seeing them around town on a daily basis.  How do we communicate now?

Social Marketing, online social groups, Twitter, e-mail, etc, all of which equals information overload.  Because of increasing junk,  customers develop finely tuned filters.  Extraneous information MUST be strained out or they risk overlooking important information.  It doesn’t matter that an occasional baby might be thrown out with the bath water, as long as it’s not THEIR baby.  That’s pretty tough filtering.

As a merchant, how do you cut through the clutter?  How you push your message through the (necessarily) ruthless filters?  Here are some ideas:

1)    Email marketingoffer VALUE!  Offer a free report, offer an e-course on an important subject.  Whatever it is in your niche/industry to offer value to your customer.  If they perceive your e-mails as valuable, and therefore worth their time, they will not delete them.  Constant Contact
is one email marketing service worth trying.  They offer a 60 day free trial to see how it works.
2)    Social Media – There are so many social networking sites out there and so much activity going on that it’s difficult to focus valuable marketing messages.  Here, it is imperative to determine your target audience and focus your message for that specific audience.  If the message is too general, it won’t make it through the (figurative) filter.  Of course, the message must be presented as part of the social conversation, NOT as a marketing message.  A blatant marketing message would get tossed out on its ear before ever being read completely.
3)    Written correspondence – Personal cards, letters, or post cards in the mail have  a greater chance of being read than even e-mail.  As in all other media, you must offer value in the card or letter.  Good wishes, prayers, new sales offer (based on previous known interests), useful information, holiday wishes.  Make the customer feel important, something other than a number or an address in a database.  Birthday cards, holiday cards, get well cards, thank you cards.  Written correspondence on a personal level is quickly becoming a lost art.  Personal mail is appreciated and, most importantly, READ.  Not every message has to have a marketing message.  The biggest challenge with personal written correspondence is the effort required to make it happen.  Send Out Cards is an innovative way to take the heavy lifting out of this marketing channel.

In a receding economy, making the most of your existing customer base is imperative.  Using a couple of simple marketing methods – e-mail and personal cards – can make a huge difference in your business growth.

Category: Referral  | Leave a Comment
Author:
• Friday, January 16th, 2009

Dripping is the process of making repeated contacts with a client or prospect to ensure they keep you in mind. Every once in a while – perhaps once a month or once every two months – you might give them a call, send them an e-mail, or send them a handwritten note in the mail. The best way to “drip” on someone is through an automated tool so it’s taken care of without your intervention (except for the phone calls, of course).

Automated tools enable you to set up a follow-up campaign which specifies which message is sent at which time. Most people are familiar with e-mail marketing services which provide this service. It’s a very easy way to stay in regular, predictable contact with prospects and clients.

The problem with e-mail is that we get so much of it. We have to screen viciously to delete anything extraneous, which is what your prospects are doing. Depending on your relationship with them, they may delete your e-mail as SPAM. Or, worse, perhaps your e-mail doesn’t get through to them all because it gets caught in their Junk or SPAM folder before they even see it. That has happened with several of my legitimate personal e-mails to friends.

Regular mail is a different story. It always gets delivered and there’s no Junk or SPAM folder on the side of the mailbox for the mailman to put envelopes in. Only 3% of all the regular mail we receive is personal. How do you feel when you see a handwritten envelope addressed to you? Pretty excited, I bet. That might be the first thing you open. I like to save it until last, kind of like dessert, so I can savor it after going through all the junk.

Send Out Cards provides a unique service that allows you to “drip” on clients and prospects with greeting cards or postcards. You can set up a follow-up campaign, just like with an e-mail marketing service, but your contacts receive postcards or greeting cards in the regular mail, right on time, with your personal message. Even written in your handwriting, with your signatures, possibly even with your own picture included. All of this service right from your computer. No cards to buy, stamps to stock, or envelopes to stuff. The company takes care of all of that hassle so you can concentrate on who to send your next card to.

Happy Business Building!

Author:
• Saturday, January 10th, 2009

I have to admit that I’ve had it all wrong.  I, and I suspect most business owners in attendance at networking events, go to networking events in hopes of making connections which would result in more business for me.  After all, why else would I be there?  I went with the intention of listening to various people and trying to figure out how my business might help them be more successful.  I had read before that you should only give out your business card if they ask for it (otherwise it ends up in the trash), so at least I knew that much. But I confined my thought process to how I could help THEM.  Sounds reasonable, but there’s a huge flaw with that thinking.  A very low percentage of people at the networking event would actually have an immediate need for my services.  Yes, I could follow up, but how much attention would they pay to a stream of messages like “Give me a call if you need me?”

What I didn’t know was that I should have been listening to these fellow networkers on behalf of the rest of my network (people I know).  I should have been thinking about how they could help someone I knew (in my network) or how someone else in my network might be able to help them.  Just in the last couple of weeks, from two totally independent sources, I’ve learned about of true referral marketing and how it’s really a gold mine to your own business.  Here’s how.

The goal of true referral marketing is to add as much value to a relationship as possible.  So, when you meet someone, you gain a little knowledge about them, perhaps follow up with a initial card acknowledging the meeting, and then try to figure out how you can help them.  Do you know anyone you can refer to this person or any one you can refer them to?  Do you know of a new service which might benefit them or have you learned something that might help them work through a sticky situation? Each contact should avoid mentioning what YOU can do for THEM, and instead focus on how you can help them through your network.  (If, of course, this person has an immediate need for your services, things would be a little different.)

The impact that this process has on your relationship with this person is immediate and profound.  The person now welcomes your e-mails and phone calls because you have already shown that each contact from you adds value.  This person now might want to give back to you.  Perhaps they know of someone in their network who could use your services or help you with a business problem.  This process builds a true relationship, instead of a “meet ’em and forget ’em” mentality.

In one situation, a business owner had just moved to a new location and started networking to meet people.  She decided to put her business on hold for a couple of months so that she could concentrate on true referral marketing.  How could she add value to each contact’s business?  Not how could she get this person to use her service.  After that two month investment of time concentrating on other businesses and how she could add value, she started receiving two to five referrals per day for her own business.  Now that’s quite a benefit!  All of those good feelings she sent out to others came back multiplied!

Think about how you might make your next networking event a true referral marketing experience and let me know how it turned out.

Category: Networking  | Tags:  | Leave a Comment
Author:
• Thursday, November 06th, 2008

I attended an amazing Power Core meeting today!  I was a guest of one of my clients.

Lots of talking, lots of (very short!) business presentations.  This group is in the business of referral marketing in a big way.  Even as a guest, I walked away with four referrals for business.

I also walked away with a small stack of business cards as new contacts.  Nothing particularly special about that – you can pick up business cards anywhere.  But, if I follow up quickly, these people might actually remember me from the meeting.

So, I finally had a chance to sit down to send out some cards to them. After sending a few initial contact e-mails, I sent out four thank you cards to people from the meeting who particularly helped – either inviting me, giving me a referral, or answering a bunch of questions.  With Send Out Cards, I was able to sit down at the computer, draft four entirely unique messages on four entirely unique cards, and have them sent by REAL mail to these business contacts.  But I didn’t have any thank you cards at home.  It was all through the computer.  I’m hoping for a positive impression through those cards to these influential networking people.  I’m excited that I’m able to do it so easily!!

Author:
• Saturday, November 01st, 2008

I’ve been Twittering a bit this weekend and learning things along the way.  Twitpic seems to be the popular way to post pictures to Twitter, perhaps because of the tiny url it provides for your pic.  Very easy interface. 

Just got to http://twitpic.com and enter your Twitter username/password.  Click around until you see a link to “Upload Photo” on the top nav bar.  After you upload the picture, it lets you post a message to go with it.  Then it automatically posts it to Twitter.  Easy as  pie!   

Check out my pics:

I posted the box above by getting the code for a Badge from TwitPic and inserting it into my post. Pretty cool! :)

Category: Social  | Tags: , ,  | Leave a Comment
Author:
• Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Twitter is social networking site with a couple of twists:

  1. Your posts are limited to 140 characters, so they’re short and sweet.
  2. You can “follow” whomever you want in order to “eavesdrop” on their conversations.  You can meet lots of new people simply by following the other side of the conversation. (You have to see it in action to really get it.)

To get started,

  1. Go to Twitter.com and sign up for an account.  Consider using your real name.  You might also use a user name tied to your business.  If you’ll be using it to market you business (along with personal conversations, since this should be the “real” you), keep it professional or catchy.  Although you can change your username, you’d probably rather avoid it.
  2. During the sign up process, you’ll be offered an opportunity to have Twitter search your e-mail account for friends.  Since you can pick and choose, it would be a good idea to do it to get a jump on followers. (You can also do it later if you’d rather skip it for now.)
  3. After signing up, go to your profile and upload a picture (they’ll crop it for you).  Pictures make posts more interesting and you more memorable.  Also in your profile, you can choose a pre-worked design to add a tad of originality.  You can change it later. Also in your profile, you can enter your website address which will appear on your Twitter page.
  4. Go ahead and Tweet something (that’s the short message which lets everyone know what you’re doing).
  5. Next, you want to find people to follow.  Try the Search link at the bottom of the Twitter home page and enter a topic you’re interested in.  If you find any interesting conversations, consider following them.  (You can always stop following later.)  What blogs do you follow online?  Do those bloggers have a Twitter presence?  Search for the names and see what you come up with.  Find resource sites about Twitter; follow them.  The “big” guys probably won’t follow you back, but the smaller guys probably will because they’re trying to increase their network just like you. 

Just start following and learning.  It gets addictive! (And I’ve only just started!) And download the Twitter Handbook! (Just sign up. It’s free.)

Keeping it real,

Debbie

Category: Social  | Tags:  | Leave a Comment
Author:
• Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Getting a website or a blog up and running can be time-consuming.  But it can also be done quite quickly.  The choice is up to you.  Here’s the fast way:

  1. Sign up for hosting and (free) domain name with Bluehost.com.
  2. If you got your domain elsewhere, change the domain name servers to point to your new hosting. (They have help pages to help with this.) (If you got your free domain with Bluehost, I imagine you can skip this step.)
  3. Go to your Control Panel at Bluehost.com.  Scroll down to click on Fantastico (smiley face icon).
  4. In the left navigation, click on WordPress under Blogs.
  5. On the WordPress page, click “New Installation.”
  6. Fill in eight blanks (three are already populated and one doesn’t need to be).  Choose an admin login and password.  “Sitename” and “Description” will appear as the main name and tag line on your new blog, but they can be changed later via the WordPress Admin. Only change “Install in directory” if you’re adding this blog to an existing website.
  7. Click Install. 
  8. Voila!  You’re done!  Go see your blog and start posting! 
Category: Blogging, Technical Stuff  | Tags: ,  | One Comment