I predict

2010 will be the year of the search . . . the LOCAL search.

If your business isn’t leveraging the opportunities your prospects have access to on the internet, it’s a a safe bet they’re not likely to find you when they do. Tsk, Tsk.

Want to do something about that?

Try Google

Google’s “Local Business Center” to be specific.

It’s a free and easy way to help you claim some internet real estate so you can become noticed by people who are looking for what you do.

Learn more . . .

POINT:

If you’re not putting yourself (and, your business!) ‘out there’ . . . you’re only helping your competition . . . at your expense.

So check out Google’s Local Business Center and get yourself an UNfair share of the market for your wonderful services!

Great Minds Think Alike

When Richard Branson, arguably one of the most successful entrepreneurs alive and Seth Godin, one of the most prolific thought-leaders on marketing get together, under the auspices of American Express . . . it has to be good.

It is:

The Point:

LISTENING . . . to your customer (or, client or patient or prospect) is essential to your success.

Ever wonder, “How can I reach ___________________ over at XYZ Corporation?”

Wonder no more. Thanks to an innovative new online service: PeopleMaps.

pplmap

This new online service enables you to find not only who knows someone you want to know but, with the more feature-rich, paid version you can actually produce a ‘connection path’ that shows you, visually, you how to best leverage your network connections to reach the person you want using the most potent and closest relationships you have in common.

Rather neat, I believe. You will, too. Check it out!

I have a friend, Fred Wergeles who is a talented, educated and highly successful individual. Fred once worked at the CIA. His expertise? Intelligence Gathering.

radio-telescope

Knowing what’s happening in the world is key to either avoiding problems or preventing them from happening.

It’s the same with your business.

You want ‘intelligence’ about your industry, competitors, clients, your own business.

And the Internet . . . the social media that use it (not just social networks) . . . is where you’ll find that intelligence.

THE PROBLEM

There’s a lot of data on the web. Too much. That’s why it’s called ‘noise’. I call it the ‘sea of sewage’. In fact, there’s so much data that you can drown in it (how’s that for an image, eh?) before you get something useful out of it.

THE SOLUTION

Filter the noise out. Focus it into something that has meaning for you and your business.

Today, making business decisions with limited information is dangerous and likely to cost you dearly. But, having ‘intelligence’ so you can make better informed decisions . . . is smart. Very smart! For example:

An executive engaged in negotiation uncovers an obscure blog post about a competitors plant closing, giving him leverage in the negotiation process to seal a deal with the most favorable terms.

A salesperson discovers that a prospect she has been trying to crack tweets about a problem her company can address. She reaches out and puts one more qualified receptive lead into her pipeline.

A brand manager sees a comment left by a disgruntled customer blasting his customer relations experience. The brand manager responds to the post within a few minutes, engages the customer in constructive conversation and recovers the goodwill that might have been devastating to have lost forever.

An investor is evaluating an opportunity and the entrepreneurs tell a compelling story. When the investor probes further into the competition, it is clear that the entrepreneurs are unaware of several large and dangerous competitors. No Deal.

What do these events have in common?

They are making better, more informed decisions using readily available ‘intelligence’ on the Internet.

THE OTHER PROBLEM

Knowing the information is ‘Out There’ is one thing. Making sense of the mounds of data and transforming it into useful information . . . i.e. ‘intelligence’ you can use is quite another!

The days of reading the same publications and hoping you come across the information you need are as relevant as getting a ‘TripTik’ at the AAA before going on a vacation. It’s OLD SCHOOL!

Social Media is both an opportunity and a challenge

The opportunity is the quantity of information it offers, the challenge is finding the quality of information you want and can process efficiently.

In Duct Tape Marketing University’s Social Media PRO — an online / offline coaching program for using social media to drive traffic to your site and put revenues in your bank . . . one of the many tools we use to do this is . . .

FiltrBox

This is just one of several very cool tools for monitoring selective data streams across various social media on the internet. Using it you can ‘listen’ for what you need-to-know . . . and only what you need . . . information . . . intelligence . . . that makes your business decision-making better . . . and THAT . . . makes you money!

FiltrBox helps you search millions of sources, qualify results, remove duplication and delivers a ranked report to you . . . every day . . . in a very clean, ‘dashboard’ interface:

filtrbox

The old way of gathering intelligence is evolving and its time to embrace the change

Check out FiltrBox . . . it’s a new ‘cool tool’ that is making the task of managing the mounds of data the net offers . . . a realistic and, dare I say it, a fun event!

And, if you liked learning about this topic . . . you’ll LOVE our new online course from Duct Tape Marketing University: Social Media PRO.

Check it out here: Social Media PRO

Having a good response to the question, “What Do You Do?” is essential.

Afterall, you only get so many opportunities on any given day to ‘nail it’ with a prospective client.

If you don’t, you may be missing an incredibly valuable opportunity simply because a prospect for your services didn’t understand the value you offer.

So, what to do?

The OLD Formula

You’ve heard about an ‘Elevator Pitch’?  That’s where you answer that question, “What do you do?”.  Ideally, in 15 seconds or less.

The problem is this — ‘technically perfect’ Elevator Pitches often fail to hook the interest of a qualified person for your services.

Here’s an example.  Assume you’re a financial planner.  You could say, “I help self-employed businessowners (audience) accumulate the funds they need to retire in style (desirable outcome)”.

Technically, that’s a ‘perfect’ Elevator Pitch.  But does it ‘reach-out-and-grab’ the attention of a qualified prospect?  It’s a tad too generic, isn’t it? And the benefit being offered isn’t very unique.

Most of the time when I hear a bland Elevator Pitch, it’s because the person using it focuses more on the solution they offer than on their prospects problem.

The NEW Formula

Try this:  “Problem” + “Solution” + “Target Profile” instead of what you may be saying now.  Take our financial advisor just mentioned above.
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The Problem
What problems do the people who fit this planner’s target profile want to solve?  There are probably several.  But talking with prospective clients will help isolate the issue/s they have. Once that’s known, their most potent issue can be isolated.  That’s the ‘problem’ you want to use.

In the example of a financial planner, let’s say the problem that’s being cited by a number of prospects is this: “It’s hard to find the money to fund a retirement plan when college costs are looming on the horizon and  taking care of elderly parents leaves little money for my own needs”.  NOW . . . you have a good ‘problem’.  Good enough to be worthy of a solution.

The Solution
Make this easy.  It’s supposed to be, you know –– just turn the problem around!

In our financial planner’s example, the ‘solution’ that’s desired by most people is . . .
“to be able to find the money I need to do the following:
1) fund my own retirement,
2) put my kids through college,
3) help out my parents who are living longer than I thought, and
4) support a decent lifestyle for myself”

That’s a bit involved, but notice the richness and specificity it offers if you bring it into a conversation.

These four challenges provide a problem-centric context that makes it far easier (and more likely!) that a qualified prospect will respond to a planner who uses this level of detail instead of the ‘vanilla’ comment (see above) that’s used / abused by so many others.

The Target Profile
This is not your target ‘audience’.  This is a single person who’s a member of the audience you’re seeking to work with.  And it’s the person who would like to fund their retirement but has the three issues, cited above, keeping them from doing that.

Putting It All Together

OK, with all that we’ve addressed, let’s re-do the answer a financial planner could give when asked, “What do you do?”.

The Set-Up

“May I ask you a question, first?  (sure)  Do you have kids you’d like to send to college? (yes) Any chance your parents may need some financial help from you at some point in the future?  (probably)  Do you find it’s harder to maintain the lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to? (yep)  So I’m just guessing . . . with everyone looking to you for money . . . that putting money away for your own retirement . . . is a real a challenge?” (oh, you bet it is!).

The Delivery

“Well, I help small business owners (target) get their kids through college (specific Issue), keep their aging parents comfortable (specific Issue), retire on their own terms (specific Issue)and . . . without compromising their current lifestyle (specific Issue)

“Really!  How the heck do you do THAT?” Now, isn’t THAT . . . precisely what you wanted a qualified person to say after hearing your ‘Elevator’ pitch?

Do you see the potency of your message when you address the specific concerns of someone who fits your target PROFILE vs the ‘vanilla’ concerns of just anyone who is in your target AUDIENCE?

Do you think you could talk with some clients and prospective clients to learn the SPECIFIC issues they have that you can address?

Do you think that will make your ‘Elevator Pitch’ more meaningful?  More memorable?  More response-able?  (I sure do!)

POINT:

The more specific the issues you communicate, the more attractive your ‘message’ and the more response-able it is for you, too!

In marketing, you often hear the term ‘demographics’.  Which simply defines a group of people who share certain characteristics in common.

Typically, characteristics such as . . . age / gender / geography / occupation / etc. are used to define a demographic — e.g. “female veterinarians, age 30 or above, in the counties of . . . , who subscribe to Veterinary Economics . . . etc.”.  That . . . is a demographic or ‘target audience’.

The problem is, while a demographic profile or target audience is a ‘good start’, it is NOT enough!

Once you develop your demographic profile, you have defined a target audience.  To be useful in your marketing, you must further refine your ‘audience’ into a ‘profile’.

Target Audience or Target Profile — What’s the Difference?

There’s a BIG difference!

A target audience is a GROUP of people who share characteristics in common — as suggested by your demographic profile.

A target profile is a SPECIFIC individual in that audience you’ve just defined.

target

So what . . .

is the value in distinguishing a single individual from a group of people who share the same characteristic?  Aren’t they the same thing?

No.  No, they’re not!

Here’s an example: “Women who use cosmetics”.  That’s a very large group (audience) of people, isn’t it?  You could further refine this broadly defined audience by limiting your audience by geography (“In the US” or “In Canada”, etc.) or age (“18 – 25”, etc.) or occupation (“CPA’s”, “Executives” etc.).

But even if you didn’t, there is at least one (and doubtless, more than one!) person who fits the audience definition “Women who use cosmetics” who also prefers to purchase and use cosmetics that have not subjected live animals to harsh chemical testing during the development of the cosmetics she buys.

Implication

When crafting a message to attract the attention of women in this target audience, you could extol the benefits of using the cosmetics you offer. But, isn’t that what every other cosmetics maker could say?  So what makes you different and better?

Well,if you wanted to ‘stand out’ from the pack of all the “Me-Too” advertising, you could focus on one ‘issue’ that matters most to a certain sub-segment of this audience — ‘women who prefer to buy cosmetics that have not been tested on live animals’.  (NOTE: there are many ‘issues’ that would help you refine a general audience into a more specific profile . . . but I’m just using this one for this post — any others would be equally valid and effective!)

Suddenly, you’re appealing to a much smaller audience of prospects, aren’t you?

And, because of your unique and beneficial focus — appealing to women who buy cosmetics that do not test cosmetics on live animals — you’re actually more appealing to the specific kind of person you want to attract than the ‘generic’ messaging that other cosmetic companies are likely to produce.

Want proof?  Anita Roddick.  She’s the lady in the UK who founded The Body Shop back in 1976.  She knew there was an audience of ‘women who use cosmetics’.  So did every other cosmetics company!  But Anita also knew there was a profile of ‘women who use cosmetics AND prefer to use cosmetics that have not been developed by testing them on animals’.

Once that profile was understood, Anita’s competitive appeal, relative to her undifferentiated competitors, was significant and undefeatable.

I like to say that you want to, “become a special body to a special group of bodies”. Anita did just that. And, she sold her ‘not-tested-on-live-animals’ cosmetics to enough women — that, in 2006 L’Oreal purchased The Body Shop for over a billion dollars.

The More You Focus, The More You Appeal

There’s a funny thing about ‘focus’ in marketing.  The more specific you are in terms of who you want as a customer or client, the more effective your messaging and marketing is going to be.

Now, as long as the people who fit your target profile are adequate in number to meet your revenue goals, the specificity of your message to them will make you more attractive and your marketing messages more response-able than anything most of your competitors are doing.

Won’t that be nice!

POINT:

You start with a target audience, you then refine that to a target profile. When you do, your messaging becomes more appealing and your marketing becomes much, much better.

In The Marketing Club™, we talk about knowing your VALUE PROPOSITION.

That’s what makes a prospect willing to pay you for the ‘beneficial difference’ you create in their life or business.

Seth Godin, blogs about three (3) ways to create ‘value’ that will always cause you to be employed.

He suggests the following:

  1. generate sales
  2. add value
  3. initiate constructive action

Revenue creators are financial necessities.  If you generate more than you cost a client, you’re going to be attractive to a prospect!

Value Adders — adding value to processes, people, systems, etc. that generates revenues and profits by increasing efficiency or effectiveness (net of your cost) is always in fashion.

Activity Initiators — being able to start any activity that no one else is doing but will add value to an organization . . . will make you pretty attractive, too.

When YOU think of what you offer your clients . . . which of these three ways to ‘add value’ and, therefore be attractive . . . are you offering your prospects and existing clients?

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Point:

Is your value proposition designed to communicate what you do for a client in one or more of these three ways?

I just saw a map of the world that’s unlike any I’ve seen:

picture-2










It reflects not geographic boundaries but population densities.

Odd, isn’t it.

When you RE-define the basis of your perception, you change the way things seem.

Now, Apply This To Your Marketing

What if, instead of using ‘gross revenues’ to evaluate your clients, you used ‘profit margin’ or even ‘value of referred business’.

What would THAT do to the way you see your clients? To the way you treat them? To the way you invest in them?

In America, we believe “All men are created equal”. But that doesn’t mean they all perform the same.

Analyze Your Clients

One of the key values you’ll gain by doing a client analysis is to realize not all clients offer you the same value. I submit therefore, you should treat them accordingly because of it.

Of course, you can’t do that unless / until you understand just who your clients are and what they’re offering you, can you?

POINT:

Analyze your existing clients. Learn to discern who’s more (or, less) valuable to you and invest your attention on those who offer you the best ROI for your time, money and energy.

Gap?  Yes.  The gap between what you think you’re doing and how your customers / clients feel you’re doing. Maybe you don’t have one.  Kudos.  Unfortunately, odds are you do have a gap.  Fortunately, you can correct that.  But first you need to know if it exists.

In a recent research study (Delivering On The Promise) conducted by Accenture, it was noted that a serious disconnect exists between business executives and their clients / customers.  Apparently 75% of the executives surveyed perceived their own customer service as being “above-average”.  Unfortunately, 59% of their own customers felt the service experience they were getting from these same firms was, “somewhat to extremely disappointing”.

Lynn Hunsaker posting at ClearAction’s Customer Experience Optimization blog cited a CMO Council Customer Affinity study where about 50% of the surveyed companies believed they were “extremely” customer-centric.  At the same time, only 10% of the customers surveyed felt the same way!

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This obvious perceptual difference is significant and serious.  Significant in the the ‘GAP’ it suggests is huge.  Serious in that it exists at all.

Can you tolerate such a lack of connection to your marketplace?  Not for long.  And not for anything good.  I’m reminded of Marie Antoinette’s famed line, “Let them eat cake” when referring to the French people who, suffering so badly, rebelled and overthrew the monarchy (and, Marie’s head, too!).

Your business competes not only for prospects and their money.  You also compete for their attention.  And, their loyalty to your brand.  The way you earn that is by delivering on the expectations of your marketplace.  And how do you learn those?

You ASK!

Survey your customers.  If you don’t have customers or clients . . . talk with prospects!

POINT:
Whatever you do . . . stay close to your marketplace . . . closer than your competitors and when you learn what people want from you . . . GIVE IT TO THEM!