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In Marketing, there’s an expression for content that converts unknown website visitors into known ‘people of interest’ — ‘bait-piece’.  Yep.  Just like putting ‘bait’ on a hook when you were fishing as a kid — it attracts people who are interested in what you do . . . and invites them to take an action you want.

Every Client Starts Somewhere . . .
In marketing, especially online marketing, you want a prospect to ‘raise their hand’ and tell you who they are.  Why?  So you can begin or more deeply develop a marketing dialog with them that provides the information and creates the opportunity needed to turn a casual visitor into a paying client.

The Ultimate Bait-piece . . . is Yours For The Asking
Kip Bodnar over at HubSpot — the leader in online, inbound marketing services (did I mention we’re a reseller for them, too?) has just released the ultimate ‘bait-piece’ on the topic of how to create e-books that attract traffic to your website and generate leads you can develop into productive and profitable clients.

DOWNLOAD Kip’s e-book . . . just click the image in this post.  See?  This really works!

KEY POINT:
You catch more visitors with ‘bait’ than without it . . . and an e-book is great bait!

You know of facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Biznik and that there are (literally!) hundreds of social media sites and networks.

You are also likely to have a ‘profile’ on them, too.  But, do you know . . . WHY?

Check out this 2 minute, 35 second video for a very compelling answer!

All the social networks do is help you become “part of the conversation” . . . that’s happening in the heads of your prospects and key people . . . right now.

It’s an endless quest, isn’t it? Here are some ideas on how to do it effectively:

Enchantment - Increase Likability

Today’s post is dedicated to a lady named Kate Barber who founded a business (Big Steps Little Feet) that is truly amazing and wonderful.

Kate graduated university with a degree in Dance and became the director of a dance school in Sydney, Australia. While there, she discovered that learning to dance is not the same thing as dancing to learn.  To Kate, creative movement and dance is but a means to the end of a child’s self-discovery and joyful expression of creativty and not an end in and of itself.

Follow Your Passion, Kate!
Kate obviously loves children and the creative aspect of teaching children to experience the world through creative and contemporary movement i.e. dance. So she continued to study early childhood development and how creative movement plays a key role in the way young children engage with their environment, stimulate their creativity and develop their cognitive and physical abilities.

Passions Fuel Dreams and Make Them Real
In 2004, Kate started her own ‘brand’ of creative movement for young children that she called, aptly, “Big Steps Little Feet“.  It’s so much more than a dance school!  Kate uses creative dance for babies, waddlers and toddlers as a way to promote healthy development (physically, mentally and emotionally) while fostering strong bonds between parent and child.

Successful Results (700% Growth in Year 1) Reflects Market Alignment 
In her first year of operation as Big Steps Little Feet, Kate’s enrollment grew 700%.  Why? Because what she does resonates beautifully with her target audience — “Mums, age 35 – 45, who are well educated, have discretionary income and appreciate a quality experience for their children”.

Postscript
You might wonder how I ‘met’ Kate Barber and her lovely business Big Steps Little Feet — given that it’s in Sydney, Australia.  Actually, I was alerted to a question she posed on a marketing site (MarketingProfs.com) and I replied.  I then Googled the company and found her profile on facebook.  From there, I found a link to her website.

Several lessons here:

1.  Do what you love . . .
(life’s too short to squander who you are on what you don’t love to do)

2.  When you’re clear about what you offer . . . the right people will respond to you
(alignment / target market)

3.  The world is very connected if you’re ‘online’
Walt Disney was right . . . it IS a ‘small World’ afterall

Thriving in a Difficult Economy?
In case you missed it, the last 3 years have been tough.  The stock market crash in ’08 and the weak economy since then have made staying in business a challenge.  So how then does a business actually thrive in such times?  Is there a secret?

Reston Limousine Figured It Out
In 2008 Reston Limo and Travel, a Virginia limo company, was seeking a way to remain viable and (hopefully) profitable.  Like many firms, Reston Limo and Travel needed more sales.  That’s when Kristina Bouweiri, the CEO decided to implement a novel idea. She started taking her best customers to lunch.

Client Appreciation Event — “Let’s Do Lunch!”
Kristina selected 250 clients whose past business suggested significant and profitable future opportunities.  These clients were then invited to a client appreciation luncheon to thank them for their past business.  To create urgency, only 50 people would be accommodated.  All seats were taken quickly.

Alliances Were Key
Once the luncheon was set, Kristina solicited other firms to help share the cost — in exchange for being a sponsor and gaining prestigious access to these top decision-makers.  Eventually, these sponsors promoted one another to their respective clientele — thus leveraging the  relationship capital inherent in the sponsors clientele.

Lessons Learned
One discovery was that ‘price’ was not a significant factor in determining which company would be hired.  However, ‘reliability‘, was.

Kristina also learned that different people in the same company hired a limo company independently of one another.  That prompted Kristina to find and support a ‘champion’ in each client company who would help raise awareness of and preference for her company within that client firm.

Valuable bonding with clients, marketing insights and aligned actions resulted from these luncheons.  So much so that they’ve become a monthly event for the last 2 years.  Why?  It’s WORKING!! . . .  to build relationships, revenues and profits for Reston Limousine and Travel.

KEY POINT:
A challenging economy demands a creative response . . . the more you involve your clients AND strategic alliances in your marketing, the better off you’ll be

Next to ‘public speaking’, what’s the next big ‘fear’ of most businesspeople?  If you guessed, “Answering the question, “So, what do you do . . . hmmm?”

Lately, I’ve grown weary of the ‘cute ‘n creative’ responses businesspeople tend to give.  Nothing wrong with ‘Elevator Speeches’.  But often, nothing very unique about them, either.

Cut To The Chase . . . But Engage, Too
Here’s a refreshing alternative.  State what you do as succinctly as possible but include a follow-up question that engages the other person’s mind and, hopefully, invites them to have a conversation with you as a result.

“I _______ for a living . . . Let me ask you a question . . .”
For example, “I repair foreign cars for a living . . .”  Then, ask a question that invites further conversation, “Let me ask you a question, do you own a foreign car?”  They’ll either say, “Yes” or “No”.  Either way, you have an opportunity!

(No) “Very common. A lot of people don’t.  And I bet you’d never consider owning one in the future either, right?”  “Oh, really?  Gee, why do you say that?”.

(Yes) “Congratulations. They’re not for everyone.  Tell me . . . in your opinion, what’s the best and the worst thing about owning a foreign car?”

Either way, you are providing the other person with a way to:

1) know something about you that was previously UN-known to them, and
2) use that ‘new’ information to help them have a meaningful conversation with you

This will produce much better results than a cute statement that leaves people wondering what it is you ‘really’ do and, more important, what you’d like them to do with you . . . next!

KEY POINT:
Be short and direct . . . and always ask an engaging question as well 

Seriously, do you like to hear a client complain about their experience with you or your business?  I doubt it.  But it does happen.  How you respond to these ‘bumps’ in your client relationship road may help you turn them into marketing gold.

Here are some points to keep in mind to make the most of these ‘moments-of-truth’ that may have gone bad:

Welcome Negative Comments
The expression, “Don’t shoot the messenger” is very true here.  Your client is giving you a GIFT . . . of insight that you may not have known and might never learn . . . except from the symptomatic loss of clients and revenues that a problem may suggest.  Don’t turn off this excellent source of insight that, used properly, can help you build a better business experience and increased client loyalty to your firm and brand.

Respond Quickly and Effectively
Another expression.  “Actions speak louder than words”.  What you DO to recover from a compromising experience speaks volumes more about whether you care about your clients than any boilerplate copy in your marketing collateral.  Use these difficult but important ‘messages’ to show you care and DO whatever is necessary to demonstrate that to your clients and all ‘fans’ of your brand.

A Little ‘BAD’ Generates a Lot of ‘GOOD’
If all you hear are good things about anyone or anything, you’re probably going to discredit the comments and the legitimacy of the firm.  But if you have some not-so-perfect comments made along with positive ones, your credibility factor will rise like the temperature on a July day!  Just make sure any negative information is a small percentage of the total and show that you used the comments to respond effectively.  That . . . is a winning strategy.

KEY POINT:
Negative comments are blessings in disguise — Welcome them and Respond to them  

 Ok, this may seem radical to suggest, but . . . do you have someone you’ve known for awhile . . . in the course of your business . . . whom you haven’t spoken to in some time?

If so, may I suggest you re-connect with them?  A phone call is best. An email will work, too. When you make contact, just ask:

• “How have you been?”
• “What’s happening in your world?”
• “What are you working on lately?”
• “How might I possibly help you?”
• “Who might I know that you’d like to meet?”

You’re sharp.  You probably picked up on the focus here. It’s not about you.  It’s about the person you re-connect with, OK?

What can happen when you do this?  Almost anything!  Mostly good.  I’ve had clients tell me they found work, referrals to people they’ve been trying to reach for months, insights they needed, answers to problems they hadn’t been able to solve . . . you get the idea, right?

KEY POINT:
Reconnect with people you haven’t talked to in awhile — good things await you when you do! 

 

August 24, 2011.

Steve jobs resigned as CEO of Apple.  It was the right decision.  It was an unselfish decision.  It was a tough call to make.  And, to take, as well.

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple”s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

Steve has cancer.  He was in remission. But it returned.  That’s what he’s referring to when he says, “. . . if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties”

Succession . . . Reflects Leadership
Institutions that go on and on . . . the British Royalty . . . the US Government . . . Apple . . . all recognize the need for succession planning.  It’s akin to drafting your will.  It’s your acceptance of your fragile mortality that we all understand and yet, most  find difficult to acknowledge.

In your business, anticipating the inevitable — and acting accordingly — is ‘good business’.

If your business is to enjoy an uninterrupted existence, you must plan for it.  That means you must PLAN.  Not only for your annual objectives and daily tasks, but for it’s perpetuation over time.  With you and, alas . . . without you, too.

KEY POINT:
Business perpetuation is never an accident — it reflects both strong leadership and your ability to have a plan in the first place.

CONVERSION
Once your activity with social media attracts people to you . . . via your blog posts, your tweets, facebook fan page updates, etc. one of your goals must be to convert them from an unknown visitor into a recognized person or fan.  Why?  Because if you don’t learn who cares to engage in a conversation with you, it’s going to be difficult for you to sustain an ongoing connection, isn’t it?

Also, unless someone reveals who they are to you, they also aren’t giving you permission to engage with them.  If nothing else, remember this . . . “Permission = Attention”.  If someone isn’t telling you who they are, they aren’t likely to sustain their attention on what you’re saying online.  You need something to do this . . . it’s called an OFFER OF VALUE . . . and valued CONTENT (e.g. a ‘whitepaper’) works great for doing this!

COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS
Call them fans or followers, the real value of social media is the creation and maintenance of a community of people who care to hear what you’re saying online and who (presumably) care about what you do in your business.

Finding and keeping a group of engaged fans . . . via facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social media is an effective way to market your business and an efficient way to grow it, too.  Why?  As your follower or fan-base grows, you’re being exposed to their network connections too.  If you have 1,000 fans on facebook and each averages 50 fans of their own, you’re being exposed to 50,000 people — with each post and a simple click of your mouse.  That . . . is why your community is such a valuable asset.

KEY POINT:
Learning who ‘knows’ and ‘likes’ you and then building a relationship of ‘trust’ with them . . . is truly priceless marketing!