Posts

“All things being equal . . .”
You know the expression.  It’s said just before an UN-equal fact is about to be introduced in a conversation.  That’s how many people are ‘wired’ to perceive reality — ‘similar with exception’.

Stand Out or Sit Down
Naturally, you want to ‘stand out’ from the crowd of your alleged competitors.  And there are ways to do that.  But most require time and money — the two biggie assets that no ever has enough of, right?  Well, here’s how to save your money, use a little bit of your precious time and be seen as a ‘preferred provider’ of your problem-solving expertise.

Write . . . a “Thank You” Note
I get these.  Rarely.  But everytime I do, I am more impressed with the person who sent it and, (taking notes?) more inclined to do ‘something nice’ in return.  I just got a great note from Jody Ferrer, President of The Perfect Promotion thanking me for a referral I’d made to her business.  Included with the card was a smaller ‘bookmark’ branded for The Perfect Promotion.  I am so impressed with Jody, her business and her business acumen that reflects her social skills.

KEY POINT:
If you want to ‘Stand Out’ . . . send a “Thank You” note!

iTunes App Store reveals that ‘free’ games are generating the majority of new revenues from the ‘Top 100″ money-makers.

But It Doesn’t Make Sense
No, it doesn’t. At first glance.  After all, if you’re giving something away without charge . . . how can you generate revenues and make a profit at the same time?

It’s called ‘SAMPLING’.  And it’s one of the oldest and best promotional tactics you can use to market your products or services.

Services Benefit The Most From Sampling
An intangible service is difficult to assess — until AFTER you’ve used it. But that requires a purchase.  And therein lies a problem.  You can’t tell if a service is good unless you buy it.  But you aren’t likely to buy it if you can’t tell that it’s going to be good.  And THAT . . . is why a small sample of your problem-solving expertise or ability is smart to offer — it’s unique, valuable and differentiates you quite nicely!

KEY POINT:
FREE! . . . isn’t a dirty word . . . IF . . . you apply it wisely!

If you’re providing an intangible service, odds are the real  benefit of your services will not be enjoyed by your client until some time has passed.  You’re not selling ice cream cones that a client can buy and consume immediately.

That’s a problem.  Why?  Because it forces your prospective client to DELAY GRATIFICATION.  That’s not fun to do.  When people pay their money, they want their ‘ice cream’ … NOW!

It’s The Package
So what can you offer a prospect today that seems ‘real’ — even though you can’t deliver the real goods until some time in the future?  Simple.  A package. This is just a BUNDLE of your services that suggest the benefit your prospective client wants is likely to be enjoyed.

For example, we helped one client create a series of ‘packages’ that she describes in a one page format and each one addresses specific PAINS her target clients want to solve.  The mere fact that she has a package for a prospect’s problem communicates that she understands her prospect’s problem.  Her package also communicates that, while you may have to delay gratification, you’re more likely to enjoy it if you hire her than if you work with some other consultant who just says, “Yeah, trust me . . . we can help you”.

KEY POINT:
Packages make it easier to buy — and sell — your intangible services!

I just saw a short video that reminds me of the importance of telling a ‘good’ story. It’s compelling.  It keeps your attention ALL the way through to the end (where the ‘point’ is made).


CLICK the above image to view the video.  It’s worthy of 60 seconds of your time.  Oh yes, it’s funny.  And if you think it’s not, you need a vacation — enjoy your July 4th holiday!

KEY POINT:
Storytelling is a ‘practical’ art but you can learn to do it — practice!!

When you want to connect with someone, you want to do it quickly and relevantly, fair?  Yes, but how? Duane Cashin, an outstanding public speaker and business consultant, gave a talk recently in which he revealed a wonderful structure for engaging quickly, easily and effectively with anyone: T.I.T.O.


T . . . Trends

Begin by offering to provide some ‘insights’ about recent ‘disturbing’ or ‘interesting’ trends that may affect the life or business of the person you’re speaking with — e.g. “Y’know, I read the Financial Times and there are 3 trends countries like Greece are revealing that American investors need to be aware of . . . ” (do you have their attention?)
I . . . Insights
Amplify the ‘data’ in the trends by filtering it with your own expertise.  Use this section to demonstrate you know your business — e.g. “What all these economic events are leading up to are 3 serious threats that can decimate your net worth if you don’t respond appropriately.  For example . . . ” (you think they’re gonna leave you now?”)
T . . . Threats
Present the consequential damages that failing to act appropriately may cause the unprepared or ill-advised person to suffer.  This should be a logical connection that arises from not using the insights you’ve provided based on the trends you’ve observed.
O . . . Options
By now, someone is ‘in pain’ and you can’t leave them that way.  So, offer a way out . . . of the pain they’re experienced now.  “What I find people are doing about these issues seem to fall into one of 4 kinds of response . . . ” (qualified prospects will identify themselves to you!)

KEY POINT:
Engaging prospective clients in a conversation is best done by design, not accident!

When you ask someone to engage with you . . . a conversation or a click . . . you’re asking them for two valuable commodities . . . their time and their money.

If you ask, you presume (or, hope) there’s some value in that connection, potentially, for you.  But where’s the value for the other person . . . i.e. your prospective client?

Feed First, Ask Second
Whether you’re trying to make friends with a neighbor’s new dog or a new prospective client, offer them something for the effort they must make to connect with you.

Special Reports and Special Relationships
A valuable commodity to exchange is your expertise in the form of a white paper or special report.  Not only is it an item of value — which generates reciprocity towards you, it also helps to build the perception that you are, in fact, an ‘expert’ in your field.   Creating these ‘gems’ once may be difficult but once you have them, you can use them again and again.  Sweet, non?  Here’s one of my own as an example.

KEY POINT:
Create Items of Value to build goodwill, reciprocity and position yourself as an expert in your field.

In the property & casualty insurance business being ‘competitive’ and the basis for that position is often built on having a good (euphemism for ‘low’) price — just think of the lizard who’s always touting that, “15 minutes could save you 15% or more”.

Lately, major players, like Progressive and State Farm are getting back to basics . . . and focusing on providing good SERVICE and ‘fair’ pricing . . . as this ad cleverly reveals:

In order to thrive, you want to focus on getting clients who appreciate you for something other than the lowest price. Service is a competitive position that comes at a price. If that price is fair to pay for the value received and affordable to provide, you have yourself a competitive position and a winning strategy.

KEY POINT:
Compete on your great service, not on a low price — that’s a sucker bet

 

I have a great CLIENT EXPERIENCE that I must share with you.

This is Kelly Kerr.  Kelly works at The Rain Group — a marketing consulting firm outside of Boston, MA and the principals of that firm — John Doerr and Mike Schultz — should be so proud of her.

I needed help finding an article I wanted but couldn’t locate. I called The Rain Group to see if they could direct me to a source for it.  Kelly answered my call and said, “Let me see what I can find and I’ll get back to you”. Believe it or not, she did.  She really did!  Not only did Kelly track down the article (from my old friend, Ian Brodie in the UK no less!) but she called me back within the hour!  I was flabbergasted.  Delighted.  And definitely flabbergasted.

Thankfully, The Rain Group had the brains to hire this delightful young lady.  Then, they had the confidence to leave her in a ‘front line’ position (most of the staff was out of the office when I called).  They also empowered her to ‘do the right thing’ to keep the clients happy.  And I bet her parents and teachers had a lot to do with instilling in Kelly a sense of stewardship for her ‘guests’ happiness and well-being.

If you have any interest in great content and thought-leadership in the area of service practice marketing, I urge you to visit their website and become a RainToday.com member.  I just renewed my membership and it’s a better ROI than the money I put in the market these days.  If you’re so inclined, maybe you should just call The Rain Group at 508-405-0438 and speak with Kelly Kerr. You’ll be very impressed.  Just like I am.

KEY POINT:
Hire ‘natural stewards’, empower them to act ‘as if’ they’re the COO then get the heck out of their way!  Your clients will think you’re a genius!  Thank you Kelly Kerr –– you’re my inspiration of the day!

You’ve heard the expression, “Actions speak louder than words”.  It’s very true.  Especially in marketing.

Recently, we had a little problem in our home.  We called a company for a ‘service’ call.  What an oxymoron!  The technician didn’t know what he was doing, was unfamiliar with the type and brand of appliance and spent the better part of an hour reading our ‘owner’s manual’ before telling us that he couldn’t help us.  (But the $187 charge for a ‘house call’ still applied!)

The second company sent someone who knew immediately what was causing our problem.  Within an hour the problem was fixed and the appliance running like new.  They also gave us a ‘New Client Package’.  It outlined their ‘satisfaction guarantee’ and invited us to contact the company president if we had any questions, comments or concerns.

The next day the company called to make sure the work was done correctly and we were happy.  A few days later, we got a nice letter from the technician and the company president thanking us for our business and reminding us that if we ever have a problem with an appliance, that it would their honor and pleasure to be of further service.  My wife and I were BLOWN AWAY.  Who does this anymore?  (sharp business owners!!)

What Actions can you use to communicate your value proposition and position your firm in a better light than your alleged competitors?

POINT:
Actions speak louder than words!

In traditional (i.e. retail) marketing, you’ll hear the term “USP”.  This stands for Unique Selling Proposition.  It’s why we associate ‘New and Improved’ as being synonymous with ‘Better’ than other items in the same category.

That’s OK for ‘detergents’ or ‘lawn tractors’.  But if you’re selling a service, you don’t need to worry about being seen as being ‘unique’ as much as you want to be seen as ‘valuable’.

So while your position is important, you want to be known for being VALUABLE more than UNIQUE.  If you want to be unique, wear a pink suit . . . I guarantee you’ll stand out.

But if you’re providing real, meaningful and tangible VALUE . . . you’ll stand out to your marketplace . . . and in a far more attractive way.

KEY POINT:
Positioning . . . is about being known for being valuable more than unique