There is No I in This TEAM

28 12 2012

You may be surprised to learn that Richard Branson, the famous and sometimes brash entrepreneur, when speaking about his many companies or successful ventures, rarely mentions “I” and always refers instead to “we.” Why? Because he knows that his success has been due in large part to a team, each of whom brought a certain strength to turn the vision into reality.

There are three essential characteristics of any successful business:
<ol><li>A Product or Service — You must be able to make or provide a fantastic product or service.</li>
<li>Marketing — You must have a great story and be able to sell your story to the market.</li>
<li>Financial Management — You must be a smart money manager and reinvest the cash wisely.</li></ol>
Since each of these skills requires a vastly different mindset, no single person can do all of these with any degree of high expertise.

The most successful businesses have all three of these skills spread among their team. The long-term success and viability of your business depends on these three areas. Therefore, it is vital that you have the best-qualified hires for each skill.

Whether you’re a micro business or a global brand, the success and growth of your venture depends not only on making the correct hire but also on getting out of the way and letting the experts manage what you hired them to do. Both of these skills are critical to the long-term success of your company. One does not work well without the other.

Your company may not be the size of Richard Branson’s companies, but the lessons of hiring the best possible candidates and giving them the necessary space to manage their parts of the business are lessons that apply to all successful enterprises.

Flash Sale Marketing Tips

26 12 2012

Flash sales have become one of the marketing industry’s hottest new ways to not only grab attention but also boost web traffic and create front-of-mind awareness. While email is typically the key driver of flash sale campaigns, social media is a close follower. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your next flash sale marketing campaign:
<ul><li>Create urgency with a short time window for your sales. These can range from a few hours to a day or two maximum. The longer customers put off buying, the less likely they are to make a purchase. Studies show that flash sales with a three-hour window have the best transaction-to-click rates. Most purchases are made within the first hour.</li>
<li>Be sure your inventory is adequate for a flash sale, and alert customers if supplies are limited.</li>
<li>Consider a flash sale with an open-ended coupon promo to increase foot traffic. For example, you might offer a $150 salon coupon for only $75 from 11am-1pm.</li>
<li>Use multiple avenues to spread the word quickly. These may include email, texting, mobile coupons, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social sites.</li>
<li>Encourage recipients to share or forward your message to their friends.</li>
<li>Create an attention-grabbing subject line or header, and follow through with a concise message that communicates the necessary details of your sale.</li>
<li>Consider sending a reminder. Light a fire under the feet of customers who are interested but dragging their heels, and remind them that your offer expires soon.</li>
<li>Remember that timing is everything, so determine the best times to blast your recipients. The most common times for a flash sale revolve around lunch or evenings, making the sale accessible to buyers who work during the day.</li>
<li>Monitor your social accounts closely during a flash sale, since customers will want immediate answers to any potential questions or concerns before the sale expires.</li>
<li>Consider mailing postcards for big weekend flash sale events to grab attention and give customers a little extra time to prepare for your sale. For example, grab attention with an oversized postcard that says “Save 40% off everything in our store for four hours only on Saturday!”</li>
<li>Consider offering a live online counter to show how many “deals” have been purchased. Popularity sells, so if XX other people thought it was a good deal, many others will think they need to buy one, too.</li>
<li>Suggest that shoppers follow you on Facebook or Twitter to ensure they don’t miss out on your next exciting sale!</li></ul>

Buzz-Free Writing Tips for Better Marketing

18 12 2012

Buzzwords and phrases are common to just about every industry and every business situation. But while your colleagues may understand the jargon you use, your customers and prospects probably don’t. In marketing, what you say and how you say it are critical to success. Here are five tips to help you swat the buzz and make your next business letter or marketing piece clear, concise, and jargon-free.
<ul><li>Keep it simple. As a prospective customer, I want to know what your product does and how that will benefit me. I don’t want to hear a bunch of techno-babble and gobbledygook meant to make you look like the smartest person in the room. Use short, declarative sentences and plain, common words. Focus on benefits (what’s in it for me) rather than technical details. Avoid hype and outrageous-sounding claims.</li>
<li>Consider the audience. There may be times when it’s ok to include some jargon in your communication. For example, if your audience speaks your industry’s language and understands its terminology, a little jargon may actually help to build credibility and confidence. But try to use it sparingly, even in these situations. Too much jargon (even with those who understand it) can end up sounding pretentious.</li>
<li>Provide a definition or analogy. Sometimes, it’s impossible to avoid technical terms when describing a product or service. If you find yourself needing to use a technical term that your audience might not understand, try to explain what that word means in simple, layman’s terms or through an analogy. Both of these techniques are used commonly on TV shows that deal with highly technical subject matters.</li>
<li>Avoid acronyms. Abbreviations have their place, but usually not in customer communication. If you can’t avoid acronyms altogether, or you believe the piece will flow better with an acronym or two thrown in, make sure you explain what the acronym stands for the first time you use it.</li>
<li>Get some feedback. Once you’ve completed your initial draft and proofed it, have someone else in your office read through it, too. Try to choose someone who is not as familiar with the project you’re working on, so they can come at it with fresh eyes and a different perspective.</li></ul>

Know When to Hold ‘Em… and When to Fold ‘Em

14 12 2012

While business generally isn’t the place for gambling, you could benefit from some of the tools and lessons learned playing cards (or other games). Here are a few strategies that can help your business grow:
<ul><li>Create allies. Every business leader needs a strong business associate or partner they can talk to, bounce ideas off of, and count on to keep them focused on the task at hand.</li>
<li>Think strategically, and keep an eye out for game-changing possibilities that may await you.</li>
<li>Hone your interpersonal skills, which you’ll need for negotiations, business meetings, and day-to-day communications.</li>
<li>Control your emotions. The cards we are dealt aren’t always fair, but you need self control to deal with unfair or frustrating situations.</li>
<li>Rank your status in comparison to your competition. If your competitor is sweeping the game and overflowing in confidence, you may start to doubt your own abilities, as will others.</li>
<li>Learn how to take risks. Just as one decision could ultimately make or break the game, decisions you make could affect the fate of your business or the rest of your life.</li>
<li>Face the odds. Sometimes the cards are stacked against you, and the chances of coming out ahead are slim. If you’re up against a challenging hand, either put forth a good fight until the end or learn to walk away.</li>
<li>Experience is still the best teacher. While books, DVDs, and classes can help you learn faster, the experience of making good and bad decisions can’t be found in a book or movie.</li>
<li>Double down on what works. If you’ve found a business or marketing strategy that works, keep using it strategically to reap even greater rewards.</li>
<li>Start over. Whether you win or lose, no game lasts forever. Don’t be afraid to start fresh and put your lessons to good use on the next game.</li></ul>

Increase Pricing With Ease

11 12 2012

While rising prices are inevitable in the business world, that doesn’t mean price increase announcements have to be viewed negatively. Here are a few tips to help you break the ice as painlessly as possible for your customers.
<ul><li>Announce the price increase with plenty of notice (at least 30 days) before raising your pricing. Don’t wait until you’re mailing an invoice to let customers know your pricing has changed.</li>
<li>Build rapport by sending formal, personalized messages to loyal customers via mail, rather than simply sending mass emails or posting a generic sign at your business notifying customers of a price increase. A one-page business letter, postcard, or self-mailer should suffice.</li>
<li>Depending on your type of business, consider giving customers the opportunity to order more products at the lower price before the price increase takes effect.</li>
<li>Explain the price increase. For example, you might write, “Our XYZ expenses have increased an average of ZYX percent in the past year, and we can no longer absorb this cost increase by ourselves.”</li>
<li>Consider adding a higher-priced option (even if it isn’t a popular seller) in order to keep your best-selling option in the middle price range (rather than the most-expensive choice).</li>
<li>Bundle your product with extras or premiums that will add perceived value and offset the price increase.</li>
<li>Offer empathy but remain firm when announcing a price increase. While apologizing may seem courteous, it will also appear is if you don’t believe in the price increase.</li>
<li>Use your price increase announcement to remind customers why they purchase from you. Highlight product features and benefits, and announce any exciting new product updates or new and improved products at the same time.</li>
<li>Itemize individual products that are typically sold in a bundle to increase perceived value.</li>
<li>Consider using psychological pricing to raise prices gradually, such as from $9 to $9.99 instead of jumping to $10.</li>
<li>Consider breaking out fees formerly included in the price. For example, list shipping separately instead of including it in the total price.</li></ul>
If you’d like help developing a creative postcard or mailer to announce price changes, our creative team is here to help. Give us a call today!

After Sale Marketing

7 12 2012

Following up after a sale provides an opportunity to offer a heart-felt thank you and ensure customer satisfaction. It also lets you discuss additional services and improve a customer’s probable return to your business. Here are a few follow-up tips for after-sale marketing:
<ul><li>Show your gratitude with a free offer that complements the original purchase. For example, a hair stylist could show thanks by offering a voucher for a free hair styling product. Include specifics, such as a $15 maximum value redeemable within 60 days of postmark.</li>
<li>Boost sales by providing a coupon for free shipping or 25% off their next order. Encourage customers to pass it on if they don’t need to use the offer themselves.</li>
<li>Suggest complementary products or services that will enhance the initial purchase and increase the customer’s satisfaction and loyalty. Consider creating an affiliate program with non-competing businesses to expand your offerings.</li>
<li>Reward customers for providing referrals. Offer an exclusive discount to both your existing customer and a new referral to increase the number of referrals you receive.</li>
<li>Highlight your contact information on an item your customers will keep, such as a business card, calendar, customized notepad, magnet, or pen.</li>
<li>Become a resource to your customers by encouraging customers to sign up for an informational newsletter with industry tips and tricks. You might also consider providing valuable tutorials and training classes.</li>
<li>Consider using the 10-10-10 follow-up pattern (or even a less-aggressive 30-30-30). Send an initial thank you within 10 days after the purchase. Contact them again after 10 days, then a third time after another 10 days. Vary your method of communication, such as a hand-written note, email, and phone call. Include an offer in all communications, and build on the urgency in each contact.</li>
<li>Ask for feedback about the customer’s recent purchase or send a survey with an incentive to respond. Many customers will be eager to discuss their experience or may even have questions.</li></ul>
If you need creative print ideas to stay in touch your customers, give us a call today. Our creative team is full of ideas to ensure your customers come back for more, and bring new customers with them!

Are you a salesperson or a consultant?

4 12 2012

It really doesn’t matter what your title is or even what industry you serve. At one level, everybody’s in the position of selling something to somebody.

But here’s the dilemma: If you ask, most people will readily admit they don’t like being sold. Many businesses have “No Soliciting” signs on their doors. Many will slam the phone down the moment they realize you’re trying to sell them. Even if you’re selling in person, the moment the topic turns to sales, the excuses of why they can’t buy what you’re selling begin to fly.

So how do you get around this dilemma?

Stop thinking about just selling and instead think about what kind of value you can provide. Think of yourself as a consultant. A salesperson sells products and services. A good consultant first figures out what their prospects really need to make their lives better and then creates a solution to make that pain go away.

To offer real and unique value, you must first gather and collect data about your prospect. Yes, this takes work, but it is precisely this kind of work that results in bringing real value and building a long-term, mutually profitable business relationship.

Transforming yourself from a salesperson to a consultant begins with a change in your mindset. All of the prospects and customers you could ever want are right under your nose waiting for your solutions. But remember: they don’t want to be sold. They want you to show them your expertise first. They want you to prove you have their best interest at heart. Most importantly, they want to know that your solution will make their pain go away.

That’s what a good consultant does.