Kim Lysik Di Santi increased her credibility tenfold when she sent me a note, Thanks for heading this up,” she said. The follow up indicated to me Kim walks her talk in networking.
One of nine coaches who collaborated for the book, “A Guide to Getting it: Branding and Marketing Mastery,” (see Monday’s post) Kim’s chapter emphasizes the often undervalued marketing component of networking. One of the important steps to success in networking, according to Kim, is follow up.
Although I’d spoken with her on conference calls, we connected on LinkedIn this week. When I received her note I read her chapter, checked her profile and then “Googled” her for good measure. After all, LinkedIn can be networking on steroids.
There was plenty of proof of Kim’s successes: articles she’d written, newsletters featuring her as speaker, organizations such as National Association of Women Owned Businesses or Business Network International to which she belonged. I had a solid picture of Kim without the advantage of a website, proving the power of social media as a contributor to networking.
On the other hand, I lunched with a corporate executive who lamented that he was invisible on the internet and discussed how that might affect hurt him as he changed careers. I suggest that hurt may be too strong a word unless his total networking effort is non-existent. We move too quickly not to take advantage of every opportunity possible to “stack the deck” in our favor.
What message does your presence send? Even on the Internet (or, especially on the Internet) networking is important.
- Creating A Visionary and Focused Marketing Strategy by Marilyn Schwader
- Mass Appeal Equals No Appeal: Discovering Your Niche Market by Cheri Alguire
- Attracting Baby Boomer Women to Your Business by Jane Lee Williams
- Branding: The Soul of Your Business by Judy Winslow
- Authentic Branding by Dawn Andrews
- The Evolution of Loyalty: Five Steps to Branding by Mary Ellen Merrigan
- The 7 Marketing Archetypes and How to Deal With Them by Dr. Miriam Reiss
- Networking: The Insider’s Guide to Finding and Leveraging YourBest Opportunities by Kim Lysik Di Santi
- Quantum Marketing by Jille Bartolome
Pre-order the book and save shipping and handling charges. Check back for related workshops and product offerings to help you implement the information.
Imagine this message flashing across your computer screen: “Marketing plan 15% life expectancy; B-1 Service due.”
Why not? My car flashed that message and I obediently called the dealer, scheduled and paid for the service. So I found myself wondering about the feasibility of a systematized marketing maintenance plan. I can hear the screeching of disbelief now.
“If marketing were an exact science, we’d all be doing it better.”
“Doing business without advertising is like winking in the dark. You know what you’re doing but no one else does.”
Granted, it’s a crazy idea. Even with a fairly limited number of clients, I find systematization difficult to achieve. On the other hand, fantasize. Just for a moment, think about the following sub-service or maintenance categories:
- Customer Survey – What do users of your product or service have to say about it? (Capture real words, not ones from an actor’s mouth in radio or tv commercials) Are there any recent testimonials of customers? Are those words incorporated into the marketing plan? Like an oil change, a survey can provide basic information and ensure that your marketing and advertising is on track.
- Branding Examination – When did you last review every piece of collateral? What needs updating? Can your materials be improved? Does every piece carry identification – specifically, name, address, website and phone? Is there a look and feel to the overall presentation? Have prices changed or people moved? All too often I see businesses with shabby, incomplete, or incorrect items.
- Referral Language – Do your customers know what constitutes a good referral? Have you asked them to give you one? No, not just thought about it…really asked.
- News Release – How do you let the general public know about events? Written any news releases lately? What about submitting calendar items? The outreach responsibility is ongoing and if you did something last year, it’s probably time to update it.
- Touch Points – From the appearance of the front lobby to the design and quality of your business card, each touch point lets you communicate sincerely with your customer. What message are you sending? Is it extra value every time? What about customer care?
Website – Ever had the feeling that it looks good but doesn’t do much. What action do you plan to take?
Endless possibilies for the marketing service check exist. Then, consider the major tune-up or main service that a car requires. Your firm deserves the same minimum. With that in mind, can you discuss:
- Your ongoing plan for news releases and general publicity with a news conference thrown in just for good measure.
- Budget and plan for advertising with a list of every organization to which my firm belongs. Wait. A colleague tells me this fantasy is getting way too specific. Maybe I’m dreaming about a goal for the year and a method of evaluating every expenditure. You’re right. I’m dreaming.
Regular preventative maintenance for your car is the best way to ensure reliability and safety. Likewise, regular maintenance for your marketing plan can ensure reliability and effectiveness. So marketers, when will you schedule your tune-ups?
Creative coach and author Cynthia Morris and I discussed social media strategies this morning. Seems that we’re both on LinkedIn and Facebook (Mary Ellen LinkedIn; Cynthia LinkedIn) and neither of us has made the leap to connect these two social media to our other marketing tactics.
It occurs to me many people have the same problem; they set up a profile and then ask, “Now what?” Before you pop the question, “How do you make everything you do work together?” take a moment to think about your overall goal: “Why add social media to your marketing?”
Cynthia and I determined adding social media could help our Internet presence work harder for us, tying together blogs, newsletters, articles, and more. As I asked the “how” question on our Skype call (Cynthia is in Lisbon and I’m in Albuquerque) each of us forced the other to be specific. We came up with a list of seven “to do” items, each foundational in nature, requiring our attention:
- Get our profiles updated; NOTE: LinkedIn has a different personality from Facebook so profiles must differ accordingly: that means reviewing pictures for appropriateness and then updating information including work history
- Recommend each other
- Make our project list public in the working on section
- Use the system to make announcements about upcoming speaking engagements or workshops
- If appropriate, write notes of value on Facebook wall
- Consider joining or connecting with a meaningful and appropriate group; Cynthia mentioned Informed Ideas for Writers on LinkedIn
- Give recommendations to others with whom we’ve interacted
What’s even more important, we made a commitment to get these basics done and then produce our social media marketing plan on/before next Monday.
Simple? Yes, these are basic tactics. Social media buffs may be way ahead of the two of us. The important thing to note: we’re in action mode. Check back in a week to see if there’s a difference. And let us know what you’re doing to implement social media into your marketing tactics.
What social media actions are you taking? How is social media making a difference for you?
Headlines scream recession. Bad economy stories outnumber good ones two to one. And, surprisingly enough, phone calls still go unanswered.
- I’m interested in renting space. No call back.
- I ‘m renovating a rental for August 1 move-in (note the addition of urgency) and need painting. No call back.
- I’d like to reschedule a delivery. No call back.
- Could you quote my business? No call back.
- My friend (insert name) suggested I call. No call back.
- We spoke last week and you requested some information; I’m calling to schedule an appointment. No call back.
- I’d be happy to include your company in this advertment and I need this. No call back.
Maybe you haven’t encountered the phenomenon: contact a service provider, explain that you’re a potential customer, leave a message and get no callback. Marketing Troubleshooter Mary Schmidt outlined a different version of “Got Rude?” in her post Am I an Account or a “Valued Customer”?
The first law of business: take care of the customer or prospect. Now, we’re not talking about red carpet treatment here. We’re simply suggesting common courtesy. I understand courtesy gets low marks in the buzzword columns. There’s nothing sexy about “nice” and yet, I find that a little nice goes a long way. In my Mother’s day the saying went: “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
How can you use courtesy to increase sales?
My recommendation: get nice. Try basics. Make a commitment to return your calls. All calls. Consider it karma; if you return calls, maybe yours will be returned.
In person, put away the Blackberry and the iPod when a prospect stops by. Take the time to connect, to make eye contact, to listen and ask a question of the person. Treat them with respect.
The world could be immediately a better place if we each extended more common courtesy. What’s more, business would be better and would certainly get accomplished more easily. Try it. And let me know how it goes. One thing I promise. You’ll get a call back.
Strengths: 400 active clients.
Weaknesses: Heavy concentration in
The light bulb moment: Opportunity: Educate bookkeeping clients on other services.
The SWOT exercise can prove beneficial. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A mini strategic planning element, SWOT frames your business from a different perspective.
The accounting firm in this example realized they could prospect for consulting customers from their existing database because many of those customers had no information about other offerings; the firm had no program in place to tell and resell their story.
Converting a bookkeeping prospect to an additional service may be far easier and less expensive than soliciting new customers. Yet this is a step many companies overlook as too obvious. Customer loyalty makes sense (dollars and cents!) even though it is not a standalone strategy for growing a business. Nothing sells itself.
Most service businesses can use success more effectively. How so? Instead of focusing exclusively on soliciting new customers, consider keeping and upgrading current customers. Here are three ways to build loyalty:
- Start and consistently use an effective email program to communicate inexpensively and regularly with clients.
- Develop a targeted advertising campaign to focus on increasing specific business segments.
- Request referrals on a continuing basis and be fanatical about following up with any leads generated.
You too can increase your business. I’ll talk more specifically about each of these strategies in other posts. Meanwhile, think about your own situation. Could a SWOT evaluation be in order?
I’ve never met Lewis Green, author of Lead With Your Heart. I first “got acquainted” with him after commenting on his blog in August 2007. When he confirmed my contact information with Plaxo I thought nothing about it. From time to time I received his e-newsletter but didn’t feel compelled to respond. That changed when he sent me a birthday card; I immediately elevated Lewis Green to awesome status.
You see, Lewis Green built customer loyalty by noticing something important to me. He used a process that others dismiss (automated marketing) and made it personable.
My birthday is the most important day of the year to me. It’s a time to pamper myself and feel special. Because someone I didn’t expect to notice remembered my day I extend warm feelings to him and his business. I have a new respect for his datebook and ability to walk his talk.
Many service providers look to build grandiose customer loyalty programs. Simple wins. As a result of this loyalty lesson, I recommended a birthday program for a customer yesterday. It was on my mind. Thanks, Lewis. Not only am I taking a customer loyalty lesson from you, I’m putting birthdays front and center on my customer calendar.
What can you do to augment your loyalty marketing?
A public relations program sounds intimidating and for that reason alone, most small business owners never commit to such a thing. Their laments include “What do I have to talk about that’s new and different?” or, “How can I interest my customers in my business when I’m doing all I can to survive?” and, “There are so many other things to take care of, why should I even care?”
It’s the last sentence that gets the attention. In the rush of day-to-day commitments, one more marketing-type assignment can push a person into overwhelm. For some, two “stories” about the business is a stretch because the owner hasn’t looked at the business from a creative perspective.
One press release per month may even seem doable initially. Eight to ten months into the program without significant results it can seem like a drain of time. That may be precisely the right time to keep the pressure on. Statistics show that most of us give up too soon. It’s because of this tendency to quit that I suggest developing an editorial calendar outlining your PR focus in advance. While changes can be made, the discipline of having a plan in place prompts inspiration during busy times.
For example, July is a good time to preview the balance of the year. List each month and then note major events for that month. If there is no special event, consider a theme. One spa owner uses summer months to discuss natural herbal remedies. Her news releases for each month focus on aspects of growing and harvesting the herbs. Pictures of the garden beds accompany each story and get posted in her online media room.
An accounting firm that I know uses a canned newsletter to talk with their clients each month. Some simple rewrites and links let the administrative assistant personalize an e-message for clients and prospects. The firm acquired two new customers thanks to a particularly appropriate tax tip and a manner of presenting that said “We care.”
Another entrepreneur assigns a different department head to develop a “story” about their division. The ideas get submitted to a professional copywriter who polishes them to feature stories or case studies and the company then owns new collateral pieces. Some may become sales “one sheets” and others could get posted to the website in an online media room. Portions of the finished pieces can also be used with direct mail letters.
While these ideas may not meet a traditional view of public relations, they offer ways to communicate effectively with critical audiences important to your company. Take the time to outline ideas you could use as PR stepping stones during the rest of 2008. Download a one page pdf editorial calendar here.
Then, ask yourself: how can reframing my business present a fresh public relations perspective?
I grew up using holidays as markers and the Fourth of July marked the beginning of the end of summer. School would be starting soon. July is my birth month and for a child, a birthday is the halfway point between the delight of Christmas and the wonder of owning your own red-letter day.
As a teen, the Fourth of July served as a high point; we went to town and partied, eating junk food and watching fireworks. During my early adult years, I scheduled vacation around the Fourth of July because I could make a long travel trip on few vacation days. Once again family and friends made the day special.
Julys passed and I noticed other views of the date. During the Centennial a sense of history and celebration infused the country. The wave of patriotism continued, particularly after 911. Our most patriotic day of the year is probably the Fourth of July. (From flag-themed ear rings on a cashier at Whole Foods to red, white and blue veggie chips at Costco, the visual representation of a Fourth celebration knows no bounds.)
Today, as an Albuquerque Independent Business Alliance board member, the Holiday is built-in perfect. Independence Week July 1 – 7 marks a time to focus on locally owned, independent businesses. The organization ties in with its national counterpart, American Independent Business Alliance, posts a billboard and touts “shop local.” Why? It’s about community.
It occurs to me, the underlying importance and joy of sharing with family and friends never goes away. Take a moment to enjoy those around you as you celebrate the Fourth of July today!
Some time ago I blogged about taking my own medicine and following the recommendations I give to clients. Several weeks later, I can report definable progress.
- I got clear about what I wanted people to do when they visited MyConnectingPoint.com – sign up for my newsletter and read my blog
- I wrote and rewrote the copy. And then I had someone edit my rewrites
- I took into consideration the high value of the left hand side of my home page, placing my blog advertisement and newsletter subscription request there
- I added pictures that reflected the real me, rather than staid headshots
- I talked with my clients about their experiences and then used their quotes with permission
- I shortened the copy and tightened the number of pages on the website
I studied keywords and continue to work on that. (NOTE: previously, I might have waited until it was perfect to finish.)
- I got on the webmaster’s schedule and coordinated with him
- I proofed pages and suggested graphic improvements. (My webmaster, Randy Savage managed to be one or two steps ahead of me in providing solutions that met my expectations.)
- I “went live “ yesterday and emailed another question to Randy this morning; the list for next time can begin now.
The point: updating your website is a process. I’m confident that the website I now have will continue to evolve as my business does. The best part: the worst is behind me; I’m far clearer now when I talk with my customers. What’s more, I now know what they go through when they decide to upgrade their website and do “business as usual” in the process. Yes, (sigh) it’s a process.