Enhance Your Business Credibility

26 02 2013

Customers have more choices than ever in today’s competitive business world. That’s why it’s so important to do everything possible to stand apart from the competition. One great way to gain a competitive edge is to increase your credibility. Here are a few tips to help you establish and enhance credibility with your prospects and customers:

  • Provide customer testimonials, references, and customer success stories that enable prospects to hear about your company from a relevant point of view.
  • Encourage people to get to know you, especially on your website. Promote what you do, what you sell, and your full business address (not your P.O. box). Include your phone number, fax, email address, and other ways to contact you.
  • Talk about your history. People are always curious how businesses got started. By providing some background you’ll not only personalize your customer’s experience but also increase your business legitimacy.
  • Popularity sells, so consider providing a list of customers on your website. If you’re worried about customer privacy, use a map instead to show customer locations.
  • Use professional photos on your website and marketing materials.
  • Contribute articles to industry publications, or volunteer to speak at industry events. Start a podcast, create a newsletter or blog, or write a column in a local newspaper that offers how-to guides and helpful tips.
  • Portray a professional image by using quality printed marketing materials, forms, letterhead, envelopes, labels, business cards, and more.
  • Create a strong online presence through your website, social media, and online business directories (D&B Credibility Review, MerchantCircle, etc.).
  • Promote any awards, registrations, certifications, or other reputable, prestigious information that will increase your credibility.
  • Create a customer referral program that enables prospects to hear about you from a fellow customer’s voice.
  • Become involved with your community. Attend local events, buy from local businesses, and sponsor local fundraisers.
  • Offer a seminar, training class, or webinar to share your knowledge with others.

If you need help creating print materials that will enhance your credibility and professional appearance, give us a call today!





How To Make Yourself Memorable in 60 Seconds

22 02 2013

How To Make Yourself Memorable in 60 Seconds

We’ve all been there…

You’re at a Chamber of Commerce networking meeting or a neighborhood party and meet a new person. Relatively quickly the conversation turns to what you do for a living. You respond, “I’m a (fill in your profession here).” Your new friend tries really hard to express interest and not have their eyes glaze over while discreetly scanning the room to see if they can find somebody more interesting to move on to.

Ouch!

How do you change from boring to being memorable?

Step One:

Your listener is expecting you to say that you do this or that. Instead, learn how to explain what you do wrapped in a story or an example. Think about how you solved a customer problem with a solution you provided. Make it short, concise, and easy to remember.

Your goal here is to quickly and clearly state a common problem (the antagonist) that your service or solution solves in the form of a story. Obviously, if you can weave in a little drama and excitement, your story will have more impact and become memorable.

You want your listener to imagine themselves being in the circumstance you describe. The next part should be about how you and your company (the hero) came to the rescue and wiped away the problem. You want your listener to be able to easily remember this story, so they can connect you with the story and tell anyone else they meet what solution you provide because they remember your story.

You could stop here and be head and shoulders above most of your competitors, but why stop when you can really amp this up?

Step Two:

Steve Jobs was known for his amazing presentation skills when Apple would unveil a new product. He learned how to demonstrate his new products in such a memorable way that throngs would come from far distances just to attend one of his presentations.

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, he didn’t present it with boring engineering data. Instead, he pulled an iPod out of his shirt pocket and showed the audience that the tiny device held a thousand songs.

Can you think of a prop or example that you could pull out of your pocket that would demonstrate what problem you can solve?

This may not be practical or applicable in your situation, but if you can think of an example like the one below, you can really hammer home your message.

A psychologist raised a glass of water and asked, “How heavy is this glass of water?”

After a few guesses, she replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries of life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while, and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer, and they begin to hurt. Think about them all day long, and you’ll feel paralyzed by them, incapable of doing anything.

“I’m a psychologist that helps you put down that ‘glass of water’ before you go to bed at night.”

Who can forget a story like that?

Your way of demonstrating the problem you solve doesn’t have to be elaborate. It doesn’t even have to involve a prop. It just needs to be memorable. The key is to be able to quickly use the story and demonstration to connect it with your solution.

Step Three:

The final step is crucial to make this work.

You must practice your story to the point where you not only remember it but where it sounds natural and not scripted. There’s a fine line between the two, and your success will hinge on practicing this continually until it becomes second nature.

Your task now is to create your memorable story, come up with a way to demonstrate your solution, and practice it until you can deliver it in 60 seconds or less.

Those 60 seconds will be the difference between being unforgettable and being forgotten in the next 60 seconds.





Increase Sales, Not Postage

19 02 2013

Increase Sales, Not Postage

If you’re looking for an easy way to get more bang for your buck on regular mailings, try inserting statement stuffers. These printed promotions can be easily slipped into an existing mailing, such as a monthly invoice or statement, without adding additional postage fees or the hassle of a separate mailing.

Here are a few tips to consider when creating statement stuffers:

  • Highlight a different product or service every month to educate customers about unique products or services they may not know you offer.
  • Insert valuable coupons to increase sales and show customer appreciation.
  • Use statement stuffers to introduce new personnel or include an employee spotlight as a way for customers to get to know existing staff.
  • Provide information about a customer loyalty or customer referral program.
  • Use statement stuffers to announce upcoming sales, open houses, holiday events, or corporate anniversary celebrations.
  • Reinforce your brand image by coordinating your statement stuffers with your company colors, imagery, logo, and brand.
  • To easily track offers, design them as a coupon that must be turned in to redeem the discount.
  • If you enclose an exciting offer, consider applying a label to the outside of the envelope to increase excitement. Have it read something like this: “$20 coupon value inside!”

We’re here to help if you need creative money-making ideas to stuff in your statements!





Your $325,000 Gift

15 02 2013

Ivy Lee was born near Cedartown, Georgia, on July 16, 1877. The son of a Methodist minister, he studied at Emory College in Atlanta before graduating from Princeton University. He went on to found a PR firm, among many other accomplishments, before becoming a management consultant.

About a hundred years ago, Bethlehem Steel found itself in trouble operationally. The company’s chairman, Charles M. Schwab, hired Ivy to study the company’s ills and report back.

After some research and interviews, Ivy handed the chairman his findings and recommendations on a small sheet of paper. He then said, “Follow this, and your company can correct its problems.”

This short list of recommendations was directed at all the executives of the company:
1. In the evening, each executive was to write down the six most important tasks to be done the next day and arrange them in the order of importance.
2. The next day, they would start the first task and finish it before starting anything else.
3. After finishing the first task, they would start the second-most important task, finish it, start the third task, and so on down the line.
4. After their day’s work, before leaving the office, they would spend five minutes reviewing the day’s tasks and making a list for the next day. Unfinished tasks could be put on the new list.
5. Each executive was to do this for the next 90 days and check the results.

Ivy left the chairman’s office, asking him to put the plan into action but to pay him only if the company got results. He further asked to only get paid whatever the chairman thought the advice was worth.

In two weeks, Schwab sent Ivy a check for $25,000. At the time, the average worker in the U.S. was being paid $2 per day, so this was worth approximately $325,000 in today’s dollars. He added a note saying this was the most profitable lesson he had ever learned.

Did it work?

Within five years, the Bethlehem Steel Company had become the biggest independent steel producer in the world. Schwab became the best-known steel man of his day and went on to make a hundred-million-dollar fortune.

The story of Lee and the advice he gave to Schwab is well-known in the business and self-development world. But even if you do already know it, it’s still worth studying again and again until it’s ingrained into your daily habits. The lesson to be learned is the importance of defining top priorities and focusing on those important items until they are finished, rather than letting the mundane and unimportant distract us. Master this habit, and you might be able to write your own $325,000 check.





Sell with Sincerity

12 02 2013

In a sea filled with competitive businesses, sincerity is a must if you want to get (and keep) customers. Here are a few tips to help you sell with sincerity:

  • Sincerity is more than just a smile or a firm handshake. It can be heard in your voice, your words, and your actions.
  • Don’t read from a script. No one wants to listen to a sales pitch that sounds like a recording. Mix in your personality, passion, and even personal experiences with the product.
  • Ask questions and listen with interest. Show that you really care about what the person is saying (in contrast to simply listening because it is the polite thing to do).
  • Be yourself. Remember that people buy from other people. If they like working with you, they are more likely to remember you and return again.
  • Back off the business mode when using social media sites. Rather, use them for their intended purpose: to be social and build relationships.
  • Remember that sincerity has to last. It doesn’t end after the sale. If customers have a problem with a product or service, sincerity is a must to resolve their issue.

George Henry Lewes once said, “Insincerity is always weakness; sincerity even in error is strength.” Sincerity in sales can not only help you build a stronger relationship with your customers, but will also help your business receive honest feedback and suggestions for improvement.





Features Tell, But Benefits Sell!

8 02 2013

When it comes to marketing, it’s often necessary to rethink what you’re really selling. For example, rather than selling life insurance, vitamins, or digital cameras, you may really be selling peace of mind, longevity, or treasured memories. Here are a few tips to help you focus less on features and more on the benefits your products and services have to offer:

  • Sell the sizzle, not the steak, by explaining the direct benefits your customers will experience if they choose your products or services. For example, instead of telling a customer that the cell phone they’re looking at has 16GB of memory, tell them it can hold XX songs, videos, and photos. By repositioning a product feature as a benefit, you’ll show your customers the many positive ways your product features will impact them directly.
  • Highlight benefits when creating a headline for brochures, flyers, or other promotional materials. While features are also important, they’re not the hook to get customers interested. For example, instead of writing a headline about a car’s six side-impact airbags, focus on the added safety benefits and peace of mind for your customer and their family.
  • If you haven’t already, create your own features and benefits sheet. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side, write all the features of your product or service you’re offering. On the right side, write out the corresponding benefits that go with each feature.
  • If you’re having a difficult time thinking in terms of benefits, consider a freelance writer. As an outsider, a freelance writer can separate themselves from your company and look at your products and services from a new perspective. They can also more easily put themselves in the shoes of your customer.
  • You may also consider a customer focus group that will help you identify issues that are important to customers, so you can gain a fresh new insight and perspective.





Lessons from the Humble Shopping Cart

5 02 2013

In 1937, Sylvan Goldman, owner of the Piggly Wiggly supermarket chain, noticed that customers would stop buying more groceries when their arms got too full. He decided the solution would be to create something that would help his customers and, in turn, help him sell more groceries.

Sylvan and an assistant took a wooden chair, put a basket on it, and added wheels to the bottom to form the first crude shopping cart.

But the new invention didn’t catch on like Mr. Goldman had hoped. Men thought the carts were too feminine, and women said the carts reminded them too much of baby strollers. It seemed like the only folks using them were the elderly.

Instead of giving up, Mr. Goldman hired some young male and female models to push the new carts around Piggly Wiggly. The greeters would point out the models to the skeptical shoppers and explain the benefits. In a short time, the shopping carts became very popular, which in turn made Mr. Goldman a very wealthy man.

Here are a few lessons you can apply to your business from this story:
• Pay close attention to your customers and how they use your products and services.
• Observe and ask questions.
• Determine what you can do to make customers’ lives better when using your products and services.

Sometimes an increase in revenues comes from simply helping your clients in small but meaningful ways, like the humble shopping cart.