How to Deal with Bad Customer Reviews

In the age of Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, information is instant.

Customers can find out anything about you in seconds – something which can be good or bad.

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How Do You Differentiate Your Business From Your Competitors?

How to differentiate your business from your competitors is an issue we all face as, whatever you sell, you’re bound to have plenty of competition.

So you need to make your business stand out.

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Your Marketing Messages Need to Attract And Repel

The ultimate objective of your marketing is to attract only those people you want to do business with. By that I mean you don’t want to attract the pain in the arse clients one comes across only too often.

You know the sort I mean.

  • The sort who have no money
  • The sort who want to do everything just the way they’ve always done it
  • The sort who always cancel your meetings
  • The sort who don’t pay your bills
  • The sort who don’t treat you with respect

I could go on but you know the sort of clients I mean.

How do you attract clients?

The first thing to do is to understand your ideal customer in minute detail. The more you understand your prospect, the more you can get inside their head and the more you can offer solutions to the issues they have.

For this purpose I always recommend that you create an avatar of your prospect – are they male or female, how old are they, what do they do, where do they live, how much do they earn, do they have kids, married or single, what are their hobbies etc etc.

Once you really understand them, you should be able to identify what you can provide for them, what problems you can solve and what benefits you can deliver. If your marketing messages address these points then you should attract the people you want.

So how do we repel the clients we don’t want?

Whatever you do, you don’t want to start alienating people. You may not want them as customers, but you don’t want them bad mouthing you.

So in your marketing communication you identify the characteristics you don’t want ie like the ones above and you simply list them. Having said that you don’t say “If you haven’t got any money, I’m not interested in you”.

You should phrase it something like this:

Our marketing services produce the best results for companies who:

  • Have at least £5000 to spend over the next 12 months
  • Have an established business turning over at least £250,000
  • Are  serious about growing your business and not just thinking about it
  • Are open to new ideas and marketing strategies
  • Understand the benefits of working with an external marketing consultant

As you read these bullet points it’s almost impossible not to answer the questions as you go, to either qualify or disqualify yourself.

Assuming you’ve done your profiling right, the attraction part of the communication should have drawn the reader in so he’s saying “Yes I want some of this”. The second part will either qualify him or disqualify him.

If he’s qualified he’s now an ideal prospect for you and if he’s disqualified then you’ve saved yourself a load of heart ache, wasted time and aggravation.

Next time you’re writing a marketing piece, make sure you include both attraction and repulsion elements.


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What Keeps Them Awake At Night?

Marketing is all about relevance.
Your messages need to be absolutely relevant to your target audience so that their response is
“this guy’s talking to me. He understands my issues”.
As a marketer this is what you need – to really understand the deep fears and motivations of your prospects, the fears that keep them awake at night and which you have the solution to.

Now to do this you need to have a very clear picture of who your target audience is. This is where creating an avatar of your prospects is important. By this I mean you need to create a very detailed picture of your ideal prospect.
Is this person male or female? How old are they? How much money do they earn? Do they have kids? What sort of house do they live in? What job do they do etc etc. Only once you have this detailed picture can you get inside their heads to know what motivates them and what their deep fears are.
Now, the point here is that the real fear may be different to the more obvious one that immediately springs to mind.

Let’s look at an example.
A business person’s first level fear is that if they don’t get more customers the business will suffer and they may have to lay off employees.
That’s a real fear but the more horrific fear is that he will be letting down (by laying off) people he considers almost like family – a very deep, very powerful fear that cuts beneath the surface issue.
If we can get to the psychological root of the issue, we can position our solution as addressing that fear.

Tapping into that fear is powerful.

So how do we get to the deeper fears that your prospects have?

Start with a fear or a problem your prospect has.

Then ask yourself ”If they don’t solve this problem, what will happen?” or “If this fear comes true, what will happen?”
We now need to dig down one more level.
To do that you need to put yourself in the shoes of the prospect – which is why it’s so important to create the avatar and to have the deep understanding of who your prospects are.
What you come up with now is the deep fear. The real thing they’re scared about.
And it’s almost always an emotion.

So how do we communicate this?

The fact is that we need to handle it very carefully. What you don’t want to do is wade in with something like “I know you’re afraid of letting down the ones you love.”

No, in our communication we want to communicate three points.
1) I understand. One way to do this by telling a story about someone who is very similar to them who has this fear.
2) It’s OK. You’re not alone. Lots of people have this fear.
3) Here’s a solution that’s worked for them, and I think you’ll find it helpful.
Done in this way, the recipients can say to themselves “that’s precisely what I’m thinking/feeling.”

This enables us to enter that conversation that’s already going on in their heads and positions us as the perfect solution to their problems.

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Turn Luke Warm Into Red Hot

We all want red hot prospects.

– Red hot prospects want what you sell.
– Red hot prospects are willing to pay the price you want to charge.
– Red hot prospects are likely to spend the most money with you.
– Red hot prospects are of course the most likely to become customers.

So when we describe a red hot prospect what do we actually mean?

A red hot prospect is someone who needs what you sell, they generally know a lot about you or your product, they’re positively disposed towards you and they probably are happy with the prices you want to charge them.

The question is do you get enough red hotties or are too many of your prospects luke warm? Or even worse do you simply not have enough prospects?

So what’s the secret?

The trick is to have provided all the information to answer all your prospects’ questions, to have overcome their objections in advance before you ever speak to them.

So how do you do this?

Write down the 5 concerns or objections that people have about your product or service. Just ask yourself the question “what would stop me from buying this?”

Price is always likely to be one of the factors. So what are the others?

Having identified the issues, you need to develop real answers that address and overcome the concerns that would stop people from buying.

You have to be brutally honest with yourself and identify the real concerns – not just the easy or obvious ones and make sure your solutions are convincing and persuasive.

Price should be one of the easiest to overcome. If you list enough benefits that you deliver then it becomes easy for people to see why you charge the price you do.

Remember benefits are usually the answer to the question “why should I care about that?” I don’t buy an ergonomically designed chair because it’s ergonomic – that’s a feature. I buy it because it supports my back.

In addition to listing all the benefits you deliver, another really good way to address the concerns that stop people from buying is to offer a guarantee and if relevant a free trial.

The purpose of a guarantee is to take away all the risk from the buyer so that if the product doesn’t live up to expectations they can get their money back and obviously the free trial let’s people try the product either at home or in the office for long enough that they can be certain that it’s right for them.

What’s next?

You now want to ensure that you manage to communicate your solutions to your prospects to turn them from luke warm to red hot.

There are a number of ways you can do this.

Firstly you can create an FAQ page on your website and drive people to it via a link in your email marketing or auto responder sequence.
You can make each point the subject of a blog and cover them off that way or you can make each one a subject in its own right in an email and send them out to your list.

The point is that if you work out convincing answers to the concerns that people have, you’ll have done a lot of the selling before you ever start the sales dialogue.

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When Are Your Prospects Ready To Buy?

Sales people are very fond of the line “A no doesn’t necessarily mean no – it  may mean not now”.

This is very true.

Be there when your customers are ready to buy

As a marketer you don’t know what stage in the buying process your prospect is at. If they don’t respond to your approach, it may mean they won’t be interested ever or it may mean that they’re not interested right now.

The point is everyone is at different places in the buying cycle.

Understanding that buyers are continually at different stages reinforces the need you have to build relationships with your list of prospects because the better the relationship you have with your database the more likely they are to do business with you when they are ready to buy.

Here are five things you can do to continually introduce people to your business, establish a relationship with them and be ready when they are ready to buy.

Always have something to invite people to

This can be a webinar, a tele-seminar, a live event etc. Pick a topic or idea that relates to your product or service and get started. This helps you connect with many potential clients all at one time.

Build a community

Communities are powerful because they give people a sense of belonging to something. From a business standpoint, communities build credibility by establishing that other people like you and trust you.  Holding an event , creating a forum or getting them to “like” your Facebook page allows people to connect and engage with you.

Keep your name in front of your prospects by providing valuable content.

Once a lead is in your system, your objective is to create content that will keep your products, services and brand in front of them.  The key here is to give away something that your prospects perceive as having value–something that will benefit them or solve their problems.

Have multiple points of entry

Create multiple ways to introduce people to your products and services. One point of entry might be through your website.  You can also use free reports, books, events, referral strategies, speaking engagements, articles written for publications in your niche or industry as points of entry.

Use a variety of media channels

Once you have figured out different points of entry, send content in a variety of formats so that you are sure to hit your customers’ communication preference.

Different people like to be communicated with in different ways. Make sure you communicate in ways that will appeal to as many people as possible.

Remember to get more clients and make more sales, you need to have a lead generation system in place that will continually supply you with potential buyers in different stages of the buying process. Create a system that starts the conversation and makes a connection, and when it’s time for them to buy, you will be the only logical choice.

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7 Top Tips For Blogging Heaven

These days blogging has come to be seen as an essential part of a business’s communication and marketing arsenal.

However it only becomes a powerful tool if people read it, become loyal to it and act as a result of it.

Make your blog work hard

The following tips are designed to make your blog a more useful and powerful weapon.

1. Make your posts useful and relevant

Business people read blogs in order to learn – new viewpoints, new skills and information that will benefit their business.

So make sure your blogs contain useful information that your readers can take away and use.

2. Focus on your readers

If you  want your readers to engage with your posts, you need to focus on issues which are important to them. It’s like any business – you need to be customer focused and give them what they want.

Where you can add real value is when you personalise your posts – when you include your own experiences and your own view points. This is what can make your posts unique. Without these inputs the same information can probably be found elsewhere online – it’s the personal experience and views which can make your posts so valuable.

The trick is to give your audience the information they want but with your own personal spin.

3. You need to blog frequently and consistently

One of the key elements if you want to build a loyal readership is the frequency with which you blog. Whether you blog every day, twice a week or only once a week, you need to be putting up new content on a regular basis. You also ideally will commit to a set regularity so that your readers know when they can expect to find something new. If your readers visit your site a few times and find nothing new, you can’t be very surprised if they lose interest. When you publish posts infrequently, it’s almost like starting from zero each time. There’s little if any momentum and momentum is essential if you want to grow your readership.

4. Write as you speak

In my opinion this point doesn’t just relate to blogs but is relevant to most copy writing – whether that be for websites, brochures and flyers or direct mail. Conversational writing is much easier to read than formalised language.

Have you ever noticed that when you read good copy, it almost feels like you can hear the writer speaking to you? That’s because these writers have discovered, that when you write similarly to the way you speak, you make it easier for people to connect with the person behind your posts.

5. Add personality to your posts

If you add nothing new, no individual perspectives, you give people nothing to connect with.  Always look for a way to add something of your own, something that shows your readers what you think and what you feel about the topic. In this way you can position yourself as a leader in your field, with whom readers are much more likely to want to do business.

6. Don’t sell too much

Of course we all write business blogs with the objective of building our businesses. Personally I overtly sell very little. I try to demonstrate my knowledge and expertise in my blog so that readers perceive me as an expert so when they need marketing services they think of me.

People read blogs to gain information and opinions – not to be sold to. So if you do plan to sell directly from your blog, be careful to get the balance right. Make sure the reader still gets plenty of informational value between the sales messages.

7. Use your blog to build relationships

The best blogs are the ones that receive lots of comments. If you receive comments this gives you the opportunity to interact with the commenter. In this way you can start to build rapport and  a relationship.

So one of the basic rules of blogging is that you should reply to all serious comments. Now of course you may not agree with the comments, but you should reply respectfully. They’ve taken the trouble to make a comment, you owe them the politeness to respond. In this way you can start a dialogue and who knows where that dialogue may take you.

I hope you find these tips useful and they help to make your blog a useful and hard working part of your communication and marketing strategy.

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You Must Show Your Prospects That You Can Solve Their Problems

Show them you can solve their problems

You may have what appears to be a great small business marketing programme but is it giving you the results you want?

For your marketing to have real traction and to generate the levels of response you want, you have to answer the questions your prospects are asking and show them how you are the correct solution for them.

Remember, it’s not about you.
Spend most of your time talking about what your prospect cares about.  When you create marketing materials, you must remember that your prospect isn’t interested in you, your product or service. What they really want to know is what’s in it for them.

The rule of thumb is to spend a very small amount of time (only about 10% of your sales piece) talking about yourself.  You do this to establish your credibility and trustworthiness. Spend the rest of the time talking about what your prospects care about—which is their problems and challenges. Once you’ve discussed these, tell them how your product or service is the solution they are looking for.

Make a valuable offer.
Lead generation is an important component of your small business marketing. In these pieces you often see lines like “For a free information package” or “for more information.”

However, using the words “more information”  makes it sound like what you are concerned about—making the sale—instead of what your prospect cares about.

Instead try offering a free report or a free e-book which addresses their problem. This will still contain many of the same items as your “more information” would, such as samples and information about your product, but is more appealing for a prospect to respond to.

To discover what to put into your introductory kit or report, try getting on forums, social media sites and other places where you can survey people about what questions they want answered.

Use a headline, not your logo, at the top of the page.
A common mistake is to put your logo and branding at the top of a sales letter or to use letterhead when contacting prospects. Again, this says the focus is on you instead of on your prospect.

The most valuable real estate is at the top of your letter. Use it to put a headline that will have a powerful impact and determine whether or not your prospect continues reading.

Here’s something else – and it’s extremely important. Don’t use “wish washy language” at the end of your letter.  Don’t say things like, “If you are interested in finding out about ten ways you can ensure you will be prepared for retirement, call us 01483 200387.

Instead, use authoritative language in your call to action. Tell your reader what to do.  For example, say, “Complete the enclosed reply card and post it today to receive your free report on The Financial Planner’s Ten Secrets to Retiring Early.”

Follow these three tips in your lead generation promotions and more people will take you up on your offer.

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Cost Effective Sales – Small Business Marketing

Do you regularly send out invoices, statements or other paperwork in the post to your customers?

Or do you send the products your customers have ordered by post?

If so what do you send out with them?

I receive lots of bills and statements from suppliers.

My printer sends me bills. The oil company sends me bills. My insurance broker tells me how much I owe them each year.

And what do they put in with them? Absolutely nothing.

They’re going to the expense and trouble of sending me stuff but not taking the opportunity of trying to sell me anything else.

They know what my buying habits are which means they should be able to work out what else from their range would be relevant to me.

Because we’re talking about printed material, you can’t necessarily customise your literature to every customer. So what you need to do is to identify your best selling products and then identify what products complement these or would be an appropriate cross sell.

You can simply bring these products to my attention or even better put together a special offer. Either way you know that your customers are likely to be interested in these products.

The real experts at this kind of link selling are Amazon. OK they don’t send stuff in the post, but they analyze both what you’ve bought and what you’ve looked at and then email you with suggestions of similar products you may be interested in. The result is loads of additional sales because they’re offering you stuff that they know is relevant to you. They are really switched on.

Now the whole point of what I’m saying is that extra sales can be generated with comparatively little extra effort or cost. You’re already sending communications out so the additional cost is really only print of the additional flyer or letter. You’re already paying for the postage and the envelope.

So think about your product range, identify your best selling products and then utilise the expense and effort you’re already expending to generate some easy extra sales.

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Why Do You Ignore Your Customers?

It’s something that has never ceases to baffle me.

Why do so many businesses almost virtually ignore their customers?

OK if a customer places an order they will happily fulfil it.

They will then send them a bill.

And that, believe it or not, is all too often the end of it until the customer instigates the process again.

A remarkable statistic is that around 78% of businesses which change suppliers, do so not because they are unhappy with the products they’re buying, but because their suppliers don’t make them feel valued. So when another supplier whispers sweet nothings into their ear, they have no particular compunction about moving to the new supplier.

If this strikes a chord with you, you may be forgetting that your existing customers are the easiest, most profitable group to market to. They are your fastest source of additional profit.

“In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss — and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last.”

John Romero

If your customer communications aren’t as good as they could be, here are a few tips of what you can do to improve matters.

Find any excuse to talk to your customers today.

The more contact you have with your customers, the more they will feel valued and the more they feel valued the less likely they are to defect to a different supplier.

The other reason for staying in regular contact is that when your customers have an order to place, if you are top of mind you are most likely to receive the order.

Send your best customers an unexpected gift

What would that do for your relationship with these customers? They’re going to love you. Expect orders from them in the near future and reassure yourself that these are now extra loyal customers.

Write a one page letter with an irresistible offer

It’s simple. If you look at how much it costs to mail a compelling offer to either your entire customer list, or at least your best customers – and compare that with the income it generates. It should be a no brainer.
Make an offer that’s only for your customers and rewards them for their loyalty. For added zest, email  the same list two or three days later to maximise conversions.

Ask for referrals

Remember that the goldmine that exists in the relationship you have with your customers is not just when they re-purchase from you. If each customer referred you to two new customers, you would probably never have to do any other marketing again.

So create a strong incentive for your customers to give you referrals.  Then communicate it to them in whichever way works best for you.

What else can you sell them?

All you have to do is contact your best customers and ask them one, simple question.

“What are we currently not offering  that would be helpful to you?

The answers you receive may surprise you. But those answers represent the easiest way to grow both your business and your existing customer relationships.

Simples as they say.

Leave a comment and let me know if you do any of these things.