In his book, Minding the Store, Stanley Marcus shared that his father Herbert Marcus once said, “There is never a good sale for Neiman-Marcus unless it’s a good buy for the customer.” Stanley said “His business philosophy was repeated so many times it became an article of faith in my mind, and on numerous occasions he demonstrated his enforcement of this principle even when it meant lost sales and profits.

But what does this have to do with generating leads?

Well maybe nothing at this point because we have to find leads before we can make the sale, and we literally need to learn and love marketing, in order to be successful.

So, on to the next step…

When we left off we were discussing the best way to generate leads and we organized our strategies into six categories. To be clear each of these categories involves different steps and you should expect different outcomes.

Lets begin by defining each strategy:

Direct contact and follow-up – This means making direct contact with a prospect. This can be done via phone, in person, or by mail, fax, or email. For this approach to be most effective the interaction you have with the prospect needs to be personalized. You don’t just want to send them some form letter. If you send a written communication it should be addresses to a specific person and should mention an issue they are facing or some recognition they received.

Once you make contact with somebody you can follow-up with less personal communications like articles, newsletters but these should not be the mode of contact you use to touch the prospect for the first time.

Networking and Referral Building – Many people, when they think of networking, think of working a room, shaking hands, and passing out cards and hoping these folks will hire them. However, this is not the only reason you should network Building a network is establishing a pool of contacts. These contacts can be used as sources of information, ideas, resources, referrals or may in fact become clients themselves.. The way you find these contacts, in addition to the traditional working the room method, can also be by phone or online.

Reaching out and finding referral partners does not have to be a waiting game. You can juice the engine by seeking out potential partners. By identifying people within your target market and getting to know them. After your first meeting or conversation, you establish a way to stay in touch with them so when the opportunity does arise they think of you and give you a call.

Public Speaking – Volunteering to speak in front of an organized group about your topic of expertise will almost certainly establish you as an expert or guru in your field of expertise. Unless of course you deliver a lousy presentation. Done well, public speaking provides more visibility and gives you a forum to help your audience understand the benefits of the service you provide.

Writing and Publicity – Crafting articles, a column, or even something as simple as a blog about your area of expertise is a great way to build credibility and visibility. When the dreaded word, writing is mentioned, some people cringe but there are ways around writing if it is not your cup of tea.If you are not comfortable writing yourself you can hire a ghostwriter or an editor to assist you with your work.

And, you don’t have to start big. Some business owners begin with ezines, newsletters and web sites before they expand their communications to publications with a broader reach.

In the publicity category you could arrange to be interviewed by a local publication like a small newspaper or journal. The interview should provide the publication with a story that is newsworthy not just a promotional piece or they won’t print it. A tie-in to a charitable event or holiday is always a great reason to establish contact.

Keep in mind that writing and publicity are great strategies for building your credibility and name recognition but you should not expect a landslide of calls from these efforts unless you are able to land a position for your article on the front page. These pieces are also useful in your marketing kit and for exhibit on your website.

Promotional Events – Trade shows and fundraisers are often methods you can use to put yourself in direct contact with prospects. The only problem with these type of events is they can cost you some bucks. Buying a booth, creating and setting-up a display, and developing and distributing literature to hundreds or even thousands of people can get expensive. In order for this approach to work you must determine the cost per head of each solid lead you receive from the event versus the cost invested.

Advertising – Advertising seems to be one of the avenues most business professionals gravitate towards first. I suppose it is the most obvious…but it is a path that should be pursued with caution. The problem with advertisements is they don’t really allow you to develop a repore with your prospect so they can get to know you and trust you.

Its effectiveness also depends on the type of business you are in. If you are offering a service that people need in an emergency or that they want to keep confidential an ad in the yellow pages can be effective.

In order to determine whether advertising will work for you , you must determine how clients usually select a service like yours. If most people hire a service like your via referral then advertising will be a big waste of money. It really is just about the math with advertising. You just have to evaluate the return-on-investment and ask yourself how many clients it will bring you and figure out if there is a more effective way to spend your money.

Once you identify leads then you can begin to build trust and credibility.

In my next issues, I will delve deeper into these strategies and discuss specific tactics you can use to generate leads.

Have a great week!

Karen Callahan

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You’ve registered your business, printed stationary, picked-up your business cards and are an expert in your field…but how will potential clients find you?

Or maybe you’ve just started a new job and you are responsible for bringing in new business.

So, where do you start?

Some people are lucky and their phones start ringing right away. Perhaps yours will too.

But what happens if it doesn’t? What if you just sit there hour after excruciating hour reorganizing your desk, waiting for the mailman to come, watching the clock and still…nothing happens.

Well, I hate to break it to you but you need to do something.

The process begins with telling people what you do, over, and over, and over again. And there are many ways to accomplish the task. The trick is to find the most effective methods for your business. According market research firm Yankelovich,Inc,. the average American sees or hears up to 5,000 marketing messages a day.

So the problem is how do you break through all the clutter to deliver a message to your prospects that resonates and initiates the action you want him to take?

Call it lead generation, or promoting your business, regardless of the label you put on it the activity is all about generating leads so you can do what you do and get paid for it.

Well promoting your business can seem overwhelming but you really just need to break it down into manageable tasks to be successful.

It’s really just about getting your prospective clients to hear what you have to offer and remember you and the service you offer when they need it talking to people to find out if you can help them.

The problem people run into when they are trying to get started usually fall into one of three buckets:

  • They can’t decide where to start because the task just seems too overwhelming so they don’t do anything.
  • They cannot figure out how to organize the steps they need to take to accomplish the task and so they get bogged-down and don’t accomplish much.
  • They lose steam…they just can’t stay motivated because they are not seeing a direct return on their investment of time so they just stop.

The way to get around these problems is to develop a systematic approach to accomplishing your marketing. A marketing blueprint you can follow, evaluate and repeat over time.

So to begin marketing for leads or new prospects must be divided into categories. The six primary strategies for generating leads are:

1. Direct Contact and follow-up
2. Networking and referral-building
3. Public speaking
4. Writing and publicity
5. Promotional events
6. Advertising

Tackling all of these strategies at once will be just about impossible. However, understanding what they involve will help you select the first few and develop a process to tackle each.

In my next post I will discuss each of these strategies in more detail…

Till then

Karen

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According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, as technology provides nearly 24-hour media access, as children and teens go about their daily lives, the amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically, especially among minority youth, according to a study released today by .

Today,

  • 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week).  And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours.

The amount of time spent with media increased by an hour and seventeen minutes a day over the past five years, from 6:21 in 2004 to 7:38 today.  And because of media multitasking, the total amount of media content consumed during that period has increased from 8:33 in 2004 to 10:45 today.

As this shift occurs it makes me wonder what impact not stopping to smell the roses may have on our children in the future. What do you think? Please share your thougts.

Karen

Badge - 2008 electionI must be honest.  This little scribble has nothing to do with the fact that, in a staggering loss of support of the democrat’s health care policies, Scott Brown – a Republican – won Teddy Kennedy’s seat in the U.S. Senate yesterday.

Well, almost nothing …

True, the fact that the most liberal state in our union just sent a conservative to Washington could be construed to mean that, “the times they are a changing”.  And, we could see abortion activists turning the other cheek and terrorists calling to have tea with U.S. leaders.

But I digress; this is NOT my point…

Marketing and politics are a lot like romance.

If Merriam-Webster dictionary is right when it says, romance is “trying to influence or curry favor with someone especially by lavishing personal attention, gifts, or flattery”.

Then the odds are not looking good for the Casanova who, when spotting a hot prospect, walks up and says “Hey, do you want to go out with me” right off the bat.  Usually this approach results in a response something like, “No, I don’t know you. Get away from me” or perhaps a slap depending on the girl.

So how do you romance, sell, or otherwise convince somebody?

It’s not something that happens overnight, most of the time; you have to work at it. You have to earn trust.

Have you ever tried to sell something? Selling something even as simple as Girl Scout cookies still takes a little finesse. Granted the Girl Scouts have the “cute factor” working for them which gives them an advantage. However, they still have to convince people to buy.

If you think about a time somebody tried to sell you something and they started things off by saying “Hey, you should buy this” chances are you probably walked away.

Why? Because you were skeptical. They hadn’t bothered to establish any type of relationship with you. There was no reason for you to trust them.

You were probably asking yourself questions like:

  • Why should I trust this buffoon? I don’t even know him.
  • Why should I believe what this absolute stranger has to say?
  • I wonder if this guy is an ex-con.
  • I wonder if he plans to steal my credit card information when I pay for my stuff.

Whether your goal is to make a sale, secure a date, or win voters over to your way of thinking you must first establish trust.

So how do you accomplish this? What works for me is first trying to get to know the person. Find out what interests them, what makes them tick.

Developing a relationship with them, romancing them, bonding with them are the first steps. Then and only then, will you begin to earn and build their trust.  Once you overcome this hurdle the gates will open and they will be more willing to listen to what you have to say … purchase what you are selling … or vote you into political office

Successful alliances form when the person trying to sell you gains your trust first. Once you feel confident the person you are talking to can be trusted then the fences come tumbling down.

Do we need health care legislation? YES.

The problem is the democrat’s health care bill got so caught-up in the, political parties us-against- them war, the democrats forgot their votes were supposed to represent the voice of their constituents not their democratic fraternity. As a result they lost the trust of voters and lost the seat that gave them a majority in congress.

The lesson here is when you want to close the sale don’t forget to build trust with your voters so you may romance them into buying what you are selling … or simply what you are saying.

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Regardless of the business you’re in, you can’t improve on the products or service you offer your customers until you know what they like and dislike about what you’re doing now. The good news is that valuable information can be unearthed by asking your customers two simple questions:

How are we doing?

How can we get better?

Finding the answer to those two questions helps you understand:

  • The customers perception of the quality of service they are currently receiving from you and,
  • What you need to do in order to increase your customers perception value

Relative quality as perceived by customers is the single most important factor in determining long-term profitability. The big dollars earned aren’t gained so much from securing the initial sale but in your ability to keep customers coming back. And you keep them by providing greater levels of quality service as they perceive it.

The Ostrich Syndrome

Michael LeBoeuf in his book How to Win Customers and Keep them for Life, suggests entrepreneurs consider what happens to a business that doesn’t make a regular and systematic effort to ask its customers, “How are we doing?” and, “How can we get better?”

At the very least, you can be sure that it’s losing a lot of repeat business and long-term big dollars. And at the very worst, this brand of ignorance is economic suicide. When it comes to winning and keeping customers, a company without a plan of well-planned system of customer feedback is burying its head in the sand and hoping for the best. And as Dr. Robert Anthony noted, “if you stick your head in the sand, one thing is for sure, you’ll get your rear kicked.” Customer satisfaction is so important that you would think that most businesses would have a well thought out strategy for measuring it and putting this information to work.

But believe it or not, when it comes to customer satisfaction, the overwhelming majority of businesses, from giant corporations to mom and pop operations, are burying their heads in the sand and hoping for the best. Many of these same companies spare no expense when it comes to measuring such things as cash flow, productivity, market share, earnings and net assets. Yet very, very few even try to obtain, measure, or regularly monitor what their customer likes and dislikes about the job they do. It seems ironic that in the information age, most businesses aren’t even trying to obtain, measure, or use some of the most valuable information of all.

Tom Hopkins author of, How to Master The Art Of Selling, agrees with this philosophy but says few companies actually track these metrics and if they do they don’t know what to do with this information.

Service Quality Can be Measured

For better or worse your customers have an opinion about the quality of service that you offer and collecting, gathering, and measuring these opinions on a regular basis provides the crucial information you need to keep them buying, multiplying, and coming back. And it’s not an impossible task, a number of companies have been doing it for quite some time and many more will be doing so in the future.

Each program needs to be tailored to address the specific needs of each business. For example if you own a small business with just a few customers, regularly ask your customers relevant satisfaction questions, write down their answers and look for themes. A larger organization will need to apply a more structured approach.

Measurement Tools

1. Construct a brief survey – Distribute a survey containing important questions about specific aspects of your service and ask your customer to rate your company from one to five or one to ten on each question. Then add space for the customer to tell you what he is thinking in his own words.

2. Survey your customer by telephone – Although this is a more expensive option, telephone surveys will give you the most accurate picture. It takes a little of the customer’s time, but you can ask more questions, and it provides a more random sample. Results from written surveys can be skewed because the most common respondents are customers who strongly like or dislike their experiences with your company.

Here are some questions that you may want to consider using:

  • How well do we deliver what we promise?
  • How often do we do things right the first time?
  • How often do we do things right on time?
  • How quickly do we respond to your requests for service?
  • How assessable are we when you need to contact us?
  • How helpful and polite are we?
  • How well do we speak your language?
  • How well do we listen to you?
  • How hard do you think we work at keeping you a satisfied customer?
  • How much confidence do you have in our products or services?
  • How well do we understand and try to meet your special needs or requests?
  • Overall, how would you rate the appearance of our facilities, products, communications and people?
  • Overall, how would you rate the quality of our service?
  • Overall, how would you rate the quality of your competitor’s service?
  • How willing would you be to recommend us?
  • How willing would you be to buy from us again?

The more you can modify these questions to make them applicable to you specific business, the more valuable the answers you receive will be.

Be sure to include open-ended questions in your list. Ratings scale questions like the ones listed are a basis for measurement, they may not give you the valuable information you need to hear from your customer in his own words.

Some examples of good open-ended questions are:

  • Are we doing or not doing anything that bugs you?
  • What do you like best about what we do?
  • How can we better serve you?
  • What parts of our service are most important to you?

Be careful with the last question because what customers say is most important may not be what causes them to buy. Example airline passengers say safety is most important to them but doesn’t influence who they choose as a carrier because they perceive all airlines to be safe.

3. Get feedback from you ex-customers

When customers quit you need to know why they quit and what you can do to win them back. You should send them a quick comment card. if you know then phone them personally.

4. Once you start getting information, put it to work - Get to work on correcting perceived weaknesses and capitalize on perceived strengths. Make a list of problem areas and rank order the list in order of most important. Alert everyone to the problem and get input from the group on how to resolve the problem. Follow-up with the customers to let them know what steps were taken to resolve the problem.

5. Keep on asking and improving - All the answers you need will not be uncovered in one survey. You need a continuous survey process to uncover issues continuously. This will also allow you to track the success of your efforts and the evolution of your business over time.

Everything changes, including customer’s perception of your service. Businesses that are smart enough to keep asking, adapting, and improving in accordance with what the customer thinks, will have the inside track to long term prosperity.



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$1.99/mo Web Site Hosting Sale at GoDaddy.com!Affiliate marketing is a great way to supplement your income.

What is affiliate marketing? Simply put it is earning a commission by promoting a product on the internet.

How does it work? Well, you sign-up as an affiliate with the company with a product you want to promote and they provide you with a unique id.. It may take a couple of days to get approved but once you do you are ready to promote the product.

Then to promote a product you write an article or create a newsletter and insert an affiliate link or some HTML code into the code view of your message, save it, publish it and you are ready to go.

Then what happens is when a visitor visits your site or receives your newsletter, clicks on your link and buys the product you are promoting or fills out a form at the merchant’s website, you earn a commission for the sales and leads generated from your links.

So as an example, currently I am setting-up a website for a gentleman who is really sharp but doesn’t want to know anything about setting-up websites. He needs to set-up his hosting and domain registration so he goes to my site clicks on my Go Daddy affiliate link to place his order. Once the transaction is complete Go Daddy sends me a percentage of the sale.

Pretty cool, huh?

It’s a beautiful day…I hope you enjoy it!

KC

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Easily Search the Top 10 to 1,000 Results in Google, Yahoo and Bing for Placement
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One very interesting feature you will find in Placement Intelligence is…the ability to easily send in your input for enhancements and features. This is the exact application used by myself and my staff on a regular basis.

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The best way to do this is to work together! If you have an idea, no matter how crazy it may be…let me know. I will personally review and document all feature requests and send out random surveys to determine the most wanted features and enhancements. Then start implementing and adding the most wanted and beneficial features.

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Peter Drucker, perhaps one of the most influential management scholars of our time, once said, “A business has to make money, and a business has to make customers.” And businesses do this each day by creating and marketing things customers are willing to purchase.

This is the crux of the economic equation

However, far too many businesses lose site of this important factor and approach the planning process from the perspective of their needs alone. And this is fine, as long as what is developed creates value for their customers.

The problem occurs when businesses try to maximize the value of a customer to their business alone. Sometimes they forget they still must create value for their customers or they won’t have any, and they may ultimately go out of business.

This is what I call dysfunctional value creation and in every situation when this occurs you will see a company basing their decisions on the value the customer can create for the company.

What happens when this occurs?

The value proposition becomes too one-sided. Customers become increasingly unhappy with the relationship and ultimately disloyal. The next time something goes wrong or your competitor approaches your client with an interesting proposition, because your relationship is not solid, they bail on you.

You see this happen frequently with advertising agencies when the account representative changes and the players higher up the food chain do not have a relationship with the client’s key decision makers.

Perhaps the client contact doesn’t like the new person or maybe, because they are new, they do not know enough about the client to sound informed and intelligent enough to work with them to grow their business.

Regardless of the reason, if the client doesn’t really feel you care and are trying to support initiatives they value, the relationship can be interpreted as one-sided.

Why does it matter?

Businesses need to balance the things they need to do to make money against what they need to do to gain and keep customers as the global landscape becomes more and more competitive.

Why?

Because without long-term loyalty relationships become vulnerable, unstable, and over time can be lost altogether.

Does this mean you have to deliver on every single one of your client’s petty requests? No.

However to continue to be competitive, the businesses partnering with their customers to enhance mutual value are better able to stabilize the business relationship and focus on long-term growth.



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Lexi my cute little Sheltie has been holding down the fort a lot lately.

Most of the time her job is to eat, sleep, chase the cats around and bark at anybody that shows-up at the door like the Fed Ex guy.

As my friends and family know, I have been spending more time than I would like at various doctor’s offices. Earlier this week I went in for an EMG test. Now I know why they don’t tell you exactly how this will go in advance. They literally stick pins in you and torture you with electric shocks to see if your nerves and muscles are working properly. Boy was that pleasant.

Anyway, now I am off again for more physical (torture) therapy. I just wanted to let you know in case you call and hear a bark on the other end of the receiver. It won’t be me taking your call but it might be Lexi.

Enjoy your weekend!

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I was listening to a new MP3 I bought recently, How To Endure A Recession, by Fred Gleeck and Bob Bly the other day.

These marketing pros shared 16 practical tactics and strategies business owners can use to profit during a downturn in the economy. Some were cost saving measures and some were business generation techniques.

The most important point made during the discussion reminded me of a book I read a long time ago . iIt was Napoleon Hill’s book, Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude.

This quality is quite simply why it makes sense to maintain …

A Positive Mental Attitude

Now lets be clear about this I am not suggesting that if you assume a Positive Mental Attitude nothing bad will ever happen to you, because that’s just not true.

What I am saying is that if you follow what Napolean Hill says you will become more successful and be able to open doors for yourself that you never realized you could.

Part of the reason people have trouble getting started, completing important projects, and ultimately achieving success is they do not believe they actually can be successful. By not believing, they get caught-up in a negative thought process that derails them.

Know Any Worry Warts?

Have you ever met anybody like this? They get worried and dream-up all kinds of reasons why they will fail. This thought process is counter productive. By thinking this way they waste valuable time. Time they could be spending pursuing their goals.

The best way to overcome this tendency is to re-program the way you think. Clear your mind of the mental cobwebs of negativity. Re-program your emotions, feelings, habits and tendencies and take action.

Future Events

Why do people worry about a recession. Because they are afraid things are going to get bad. And you know what? They may.

But when you think about this rationally worrying about the future is a waste because it has not happened yet. And quite frankly, there is really nothing you can do to prevent a recession. Even if you have some great idea do you really think Fed Chairman, Ben Bernake is going to take your call let alone take your advice? No.

The Past

Others worry and get stuck in a cycle of re-examining what has happened in the past. I guess they think if they analyze the past enough they might be able to change something. However usually others have moved on and aren’t really interested in re-living the past.

So again, worrying about the past is a waste because there is nothing you can do to change the past. When you get stuck in this cycle realize what is happening and force yourself to move on to something more productive.

The Present

The best thing to focus on is the present because it is the only place a person can make a change that will really make a difference in their lives.

Take hold of your destiny by living in and creating your success in the present.


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