December 19, 2011
Improving your 2012 marketing results without spending more marketing $$.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… 2012 planning season. You’re looking back at your firm’s 2011 results, trying to figure out what went well and how to drive better results (clients and revenue, of course) in 2012.
Before you let visions of social media strategies dance in your head, think about ways that you can improve results without spending more marketing money or even changing your marketing strategy. Look no further than your current flow of prospective clients, also called your prospect pipeline to use a sales term. Read the rest of this entry »
July 10, 2010
Build a quick business plan so you can focus on building your business.
There are a number of articles about the importance of having a business plan, as well as tips about what to do or not do. As someone who has written several business plans over the last few years, I understand the importance of having a plan and appreciate any advice offered.
Unfortunately, that’s not my problem. My challenge is just getting started — organizing my thoughts enough to start documenting my business idea, plans, and goals. It’s converting all of that information from my brain into a Word file. Since there is no iPhone app (yet) that can interface between mind and Microsoft, I developed an exercise to help me start developing the business plan. Read the rest of this entry »
July 2, 2010
Three steps for making the dream come true for you.
The Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) recently notified me that they wanted to publish an article I created from the “My Sales Reps Stink” blog post. After patting myself on the back, I started thinking about some more specific sales team advice that I’ve given clients since that original post. Today we’re just going to focus on the sales rep or reps, rather than any other business factors. Read the rest of this entry »
November 25, 2009
5 ways to overcome that blank page.
There it is. You’re staring at an empty Word doc or blank sheet of paper. You know that you need to get something written now. Your [clients/prospects/audience] are expecting a new [newsletter/white paper/seminar/blog]. Since you read my blog, you know that it needs to create value in the minds of your audience. You want it to be a clear, succinct message. You may even have a topic in mind. Other than that, you’re clueless. Hey look, someone just wrote on my Facebook wall… Read the rest of this entry »
August 11, 2009
Know when not to sell. Take the No Pitch Pledge.
Now that we’ve discussed how trimming the sheer volume of content can improve your ability to generate interest and demand, let’s talk about making some adjustments to the ways you communicate. Let’s start with sales calls in Part I, and then move onto more general communications in Part II next week.
So you’ve read all the hip books on selling, and you may even have some pretty consultative selling course certificates proudly displayed on your wall. Or not… It doesn’t really matter.
When you finally get a meeting with your prospective buyer, you diligently ask your 3 tremendously insightful and impactful business questions…
- What do you have in place today?
- Why are you looking to make a change?
- How would you measure success?
…and then jump into your sales pitch. You lay it all out, hoping that the buyer will bite on something. At the end, there’s a hearty handshake and you agree to follow up in a couple of weeks. You can never reach the buyer again. Hear the Twilight Zone theme playing in the background?
Is this you? I’m sure that you are very passionate about your company and products, and that is commendable. You are just showing your enthusiasm in the wrong ways. The first meeting is rarely a “sales” meeting, so why are you trying to sell?
Here’s where you need to take the No Pitch Pledge.
- Start asking more questions and listening to the responses, rather than just waiting for the best time to start the pitch.
- Have a real business conversation about company objectives, how those relate to the buyer’s goals, and even how the company is changing their industry.
- Discuss ways that you may be able to share insight and information (other clients, partners, aggregate data, etc.), rather than talking about how your product works.
- Just say NO if the buyer asks for your pitch. If you don’t learn anything new, you’re exactly the same as everyone else who met with this buyer – a vendor.
When you take the No Pitch Pledge, you have a chance to build much more than a PowerPoint presentation. You’ll receive:
- More information about the industry/company/department, with details that may help you present a more comprehensive and unique solution than your competitors.
- More information about your buyer, with some personal information if you are lucky.
- The start of a real business relationship. You become a trusted advisor, a source of information that will improve the buyer’s ability to succeed. He/she needs you.
- A chance to come back again to present real, meaningful solutions.
- The sale.
Is this more difficult? Absolutely! Does it take more up-front preparation? Much more. Will this work every time? Absolutely not! There’s a happy medium in here someplace, and you’ll need to gauge the buyer’s willingness to communicate based on responses to your first questions. But wouldn’t you rather be the 1% who builds long-term business and client relationships rather than the 99% who just show up and throw up?
They’ll call you back…
August 3, 2009
Streamline communications to improve results.
I was reading a company’s PowerPoint sales presentation earlier today… with a magnifying glass. Each page was chock-full of very valuable information about the company, but it was so overwhelming that I couldn’t figure out what they were really trying to communicate. I feel bad for saying this, but I quickly lost interest and decided to write this post rather than read on.
Is your company presentation overloaded with content in paragraph form? Did you have to produce your brochure in 9 pt type to include everything you wanted to say? How many times does a website visitor have to page down to reach the bottom of your home page? If you had to give these questions more than a couple of seconds of thought, you need to cut out some of the fat and focus on delivering a few key messages to the right audience at the right time.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- 3 messages – Before you start planning each communication, think about the top 3 messages that you want the audience to remember. This should be what you can truly offer your client that no one else can. Then leave everything else out. I mean it. You’re not going to close the deal with one brochure or presentation, so don’t try it.
- 3 seconds – This is how long you have to generate interest or you will lose your audience. Where were your eyes drawn in this post? Hopefully to the bulleted items, where the cute use of 3s attracted your interest. Get to the point, and highlight or bullet your key messages. This applies to all marketing-related communications, especially new prospect communications like brochures and websites.
- 3 minutes – Limit the size of your sales or company presentation. The last thing you want to do is run out of allotted time, and you’ll start hearing that familiar Blackberry key clicking if you try to rush through your pitch. Assume each page will take at least 3 minutes to cover, 5 or more if you expect your audience to actively participate in the discussion.
- 3 bullets – Actually 3-5 bullets is just fine. The whole concept is to highlight a few important points. Too many bullets and you’re really not highlighting anything anymore. For presentations, use bullets (other than quotes or your boilerplate) rather than paragraphs or your audience will be squinting at the screen instead of paying attention to you.
- 3 times – Here’s a good rule of thumb for any marketing communication.
- Introduction – Tell them what you are about to say.
- Body – Say it, in a concise format.
- Conclusion – Tell them what you just said, with next step.
Enough with the 3s. You get my point. Most communications that I’ve seen could be cut in half and be twice as effective. This type of concise communication is much harder to accomplish, but your results will be worth the effort.
If you can’t measure it, don’t do it!
July 27, 2009
Before we begin, let’s get a couple of things straight.
Well, I’ve finally run out of ways to procrastinate the start of my blog. I’ve chosen a technology, come up with a decent name, reserved the URL for future use, built an editorial calendar (more about that later), cleaned my windows, and reduced global warming. Now it’s time to talk about how to measurably grow your business.
The purpose of The Marketing Engine is to provide specific advice that improves your ability to target the right buyers, develop interest in your product or service, convert that interest into the first sale, and then grow business from long-term relationships. Simple, right? Well, you’ll soon see that the ideas are pretty easy to implement. Having the patience to see them through to the successful results will be the more challenging part. While the content is geared to the owners/leaders of small and medium-sized businesses, there’s a little something for everyone.
To me, setting realistic expectations is an important part of any new business or personal relationship. Before we get started, you should know what to expect of me and this blog. So, here are 10 things to expect from me:
- Weakly updates – as my uncle used to say, “We pay weakly!” I’ll update when I can, but I write blogs for paying clients first.
- Quick read – easy to read and digest…and maybe even remember.
- Lots of lists – see #2.
- Ideas you can use – we’ll discuss things that have actually worked or failed. You won’t see any beautifully illustrated 400 page strategic PowerPoint plans here. You can still be happy with a small deck.
- Sarcasm you can do without – yes, it’s a weakness. I just can’t help it and this is my blog.
- No buzzwords – I’d rather talk about specifics, so if you want to shift paradigms and optimize synergies, start looking for another blog. If you use one, you owe me $10.
- Typos – I’m normally so spent after obsessing over my articles that… OK, mostly I just don’t like proofing. Please help me.
- Anonymity – we need to avoid using information that will identify companies or people, unless the information is already public or we really don’t like the people.
- Honesty – if I don’t agree with something, you’ll be the first to know. I expect the same level of feedback from you. Be blunt, and I’ll respect you even if I don’t agree.
- Interaction – Please post your ideas and opinions. Let’s discuss, debate, and ultimately decide. I’m smart enough to know that your feedback improves the content, and simply makes me look better.
Now that we’ve gotten past the introductions, the first real post will be tomorrow once I check to make sure this thing works. Please let me know what you think.
If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.