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The Only Two Principles You Need To Worry About

You won’t be surprised to hear that basic human principles don’t change much at all, and this includes marketing principles.

Over the last ten years we’ve seen the Internet come charging over the horizon and make itself comfortably at home in the business community. More recently, we’ve seen a financial meltdown which we’re only now recovering from.

But even so, things are now pretty much as they’ve always been.

Marketing principles don’t change and that’s because we’re still human and we’re still motivated by the same things, driven by the same emotions and the same hopes and fears as we’ve always been.

So, let’s look at the simple challenge facing your business.

Growing your business is a simple process you can break down into two parts:

1. Generating qualified leads.
2. Converting them to paying customers.

It’s that simple and it’ll always be that simple.

So, when people tell you that internet marketing is different – they’re wrong.
It’s the same as any other kind of marketing: the style and the delivery mechanisms might have changed but the substance will be the same.

And how do you get the highly qualified leads?

Well this is where the difference in style comes in.

Online, you might want to use AdWords, natural search, banner advertising, stuff like that.

One seriously underused strategy is to use offline media to drive people online.

The last few years has been a great time to be doing it because the recession meant that businesses haven’t been advertising as much as normal with the result that ad space has been cheap.

So once you’ve got your qualified leads, what do you do with them?

You want to turn them into paying customers.

Conventional wisdom tells us to convert the qualified leads into sales by “selling” them.

While this might work occasionally, it’s fraught with peril, because if you fail to sell them that first time you’ve lost them. Probably for good.

A better solution in many cases is to begin a relationship with them.

Get their details – name and email address at a bare minimum, but the Holy Grail is a postal address as well – and then start sending them interesting material including but not exclusively sales material. Emails, a paper newsletter, direct mail, postcards… the list is limited only by your imagination.

How do you get them to give you their details?

Simple: offer something of value like a free report or a white paper, something of value that they will exchange their contact details for. There are no real rules, other than it really needs to be something useful and with a high perceived value to your prospect.

So you can now start marketing to them until they buy, they die or they tell you to stop.

Sounds easy doesn’t it ?

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The Magic Ingredients

Within my business I very rarely advise clients to do traditional paid for print advertising.

Why?

Primarily because it’s so often really wasteful. Every business will have a fairly clearly defined target audience and the reality is that the readership of whichever publication you choose is likely to comprise large numbers of people outside of your target group.

This means that a large amount of your budget is likely to be wasted.

A second reason is that whatever readership figures you’re quoted, how many of those readers will actually see your ad. Obviously the position in the publication will have a large impact on this but again you’re looking at more wastage of your budget.

However there are occasions, normally with B-C businesses where because it’s really difficult to contact your audience any other way there are few alternatives to advertising.

So given all the limitations above, it is vital that your ad works really, really hard and converts the maximum number of readers, because as a small business owner with limited budgets, you’re not looking for brand awareness or any of the other metrics that big businesses may use.

No – what you want is sales and not after a series of 10 or 20 ads. You want a response from the very first ad. If you’ve spent say £250 on an ad, you want £250 back in profit at the very minimum and preferably £500 or more.
So you need to make sure that your ads are massively effective.

So what are the magic ingredients of an ad?

While I say an ad, the rules apply to any direct sales piece such as a letter or email.

Actually there are 5 ingredients that you simply have to include and then there are several more which are slightly more optional.

1. A compelling headline – this is what catches the reader’s eye and determines whether he is going to read any further. But remember a headline’s job isn’t to sell the product but to persuade the reader to read the next line.
2. The reason for the ad – this is the part which creates both the interest and the desire in the reader which you need if you’re going to make a sale.
3. The offer – the offer is what the reader gets when he responds to the ad. Now if you can turn your offer into a special offer so that respondents get something free or a discount or a larger size then you’re much more likely to get some serious response. If your ad simply says here’s a widget at the normal price, well I can get that any time. But if you say here’s a widget but right now there’s an extra special offer on it, then there’s a real reason to respond.
4. A reason to respond now – we may all see a great offer and plan to take it up. But if you can do it any time, then there’s no urgency and in all likelihood you will simply forget about it. However if I’ve only got a few days to get the special deal, I know I have to take action pronto.
Another way to create that urgency is via scarcity.
If I know this great deal is only available to the first 50 purchasers I’m going to make damn sure I’m one of those 50
5. A way to respond – whether you’re dealing B-B or B-C you must tell me how to respond to get my hands on your special deal.

So whether you want me to go to your website, pick up the phone, come to your shop or email you, you must tell me and give me all the relevant information to do so.

Working on the basis that different people like to respond in different ways, the more ways you give to respond, the more response you’ll get.

Those basically are the ingredients, the elements, you must include in your ads. If you have space the following are also important:
• Compelling body copy
• Relevant sub headings
• Pictures
• A guarantee
• Testimonials

So there you have it – the key ingredients for your direct response ads that will hook your readers in and make them get up off their backsides and actually spend some money with you.

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The Greatest Crime In Small Business Marketing

What’s the greatest crime committed by your business?

Personally I believe the number of leads that marketing generates which are never converted into customers is criminal.

How The Crime Occurs

In most businesses, marketing are tasked with generating leads. These leads are then typically passed over to sales who then go to work trying to turn them into customers.

A certain percentage of these will quite quickly become customers – let’s say 5%

Another percentage will even more quickly disqualify themselves and drop out of your sales process. This could well be 50% of all the leads.

However there is still maybe 45% of the leads who haven’t said “yes” but they also haven’t said “no”.

Typically the sales person will contact them or try to contact them 3 or 4 times. After being given non committal responses – “let me think about it” or “I’ll get back to you” the sales person starts to feel that they are being fobbed off and decides to” stop flogging a dead horse” and moves onto the next set of easier converts.

Hold on a moment.

That’s 45% of your leads who are being given up on or to put it another way nine times the number of leads you converted

Buyers Can Take Up To 10 Individual “Touches”

The fact is that many prospects may take up to 10 separate communications or “touches” and sometimes even more, before they are ready to buy.

It may be that the time just wasn’t right initially or that or they were evaluating a different proposal or they simply had other priorities

They want to decide in their own time.

Your Job Is To Maintain The Contact

The last thing your prospect wants is to receive continuous sales calls.

Your job is to maintain the contact, continue to provide valuable information and be ready to respond when your prospect is ready to buy.

What you need is a Prospect Conversion System.

You need to set up a communication system which keeps you in the prospects’ consciousness.

While email is the simplest and cheapest way to do this if you intersperse your emails with letters, postcards or phone calls you will add interest and value to the process.

How Often Should You Communicate With These Prospects?

Many people worry about hassling their prospects – concerned that they will become irritated if they contact them too often. The correct regularity will depend on the quality of what you’re sending them. The fact is that if you are sending valueless rubbish once a year is too often but if you’re sending valuable and engaging material then you can send it almost as often as you like. Weekly certainly wouldn’t be too often

How Long Should You Continue To Communicate?

The classic answer to this is that you should continue to communicate until they either buy from you or they die. Your recipients are perfectly capable of unsubscribing from your list if they no longer want to receive stuff from you.  I’ve known customers who have taken 15 months from the initial contact before they have finally become ready to buy.

So remember a large percentage of prospects will take a long time to decide to buy so just make sure that you’re still in the frame when they finally are ready.

If this blog article strikes a chord with you, leave me a comment and share your experience.

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How To Convert More Prospects Into Customers

Have you ever wondered why a prospect who you thought was just about to buy from you, ends up not doing so?

One common reason is that he perceives there to be some kind of risk involved.

  • Will he get the results from the purchase that he expects?
  • Is he paying too much for it?
  • Perhaps it might not be quite the right product for him.

There are any number of possible reasons. Your job is to find a way to remove any risk from the buyer so that there is no reason for him not to buy.

So how are you going to do that?

There are two classic ways to put your customer’s mind at rest.

1. Money Back Guarantee

If you offer a money back guarantee, you are demonstrating your total confidence in your product. From the customer’s point of view all the risk is removed. If for whatever reason they’re not totally happy with the product, they can get their money back. Suddenly the number one stumbling block has been removed.

The technique is often used when selling self help materials on line. How many times have you read about a product which you’re assured will deliver terrific business benefits. If you’re undecided what to do, the offer of a full refund if you’re not satisfied makes it the offer so much more compelling.

Many business owners worry that customers may try to rip them off. The fact is that one or two might but most people are fundamentally honest. So if you have to refund one or two unscrupulous customers, that may just be the price you pay for the scores of new customers you’ve generated.

2. Free Trial

We’re all familiar with the free trial concept. The customer can trial the product in their home or office for 30 days. If for some reason they’re not totally happy they can send it back and get a 100% refund. Immediately you have overcome so many of the standard objections.

The Hi Fi company Bose often offer a 30 trial on their music systems. This is perfect as different locations often have different acoustics. What sounds great in one location may not sound so good elsewhere. Not surprisingly this can lead customers to feel nervous about buying a system. The home trial gives them the opportunity to “road test” the system, with no obligation, so that they know definitively whether it is the right product for them.

The other great thing about this way of removing the risk is that inertia often steps in. Once customers have something on trial at home, they often forget about their initial reservations and are perfectly satisfied with their purchase.

So once you’ve decided which route is appropriate for you to offer to your customers, you now want to maximise its impact. To do this you should use it on all your marketing materials:

  • Highlight it on your web site
  • Feature it in any direct mail or email marketing you send out
  • Include it in any printed marketing materials
  • Mention it in any networking or presentations you do

The cost to you is likely to be minimal but the impact on your sales can be phenomenal

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Overcoming Objections or How To Avoid “I’ll Have To Think About It”.

We’ve all been there haven’t we?

You’ve made a really good pitch and you’re just waiting for your prospect to say yes. Instead he utters those fateful words “ I’ll have to think about it”.
Your heart sinks.
We all know that if we don’t close the deal there and then, the chances of ever getting the order are very much reduced. The deal’s not necessarily dead but the chances of success are now very much reduced.

So where did it all go wrong? He was giving you buying signals all through – or so you thought.

It’s common for even experienced sales people to leave the overcoming of buyer resistance almost to chance. “Push benefits, and they will buy.” “Turn cattle prod to stun, and they will buy.”

But make no mistake. Not only is that often not enough… the truth is that even seemingly enthusiastic buyers will often have hidden doubts. Fail to address them and overcome the objections and you may fail to sell.

Overcoming Buyer Resistance
I think we all know that to sell you have to offer  the right product to the right person at the right time in the right way. In reality you aren’t forcing your customer to say yes, you’re taking away his reasons to say no.

Selling isn’t brilliantly creative and it certainly shouldn’t be either trickery or brute force. It’s nothing more than showing your prospect that your product is the right one for him.

Inevitably your prospect is going to have questions in his mind that he will need answering before he will commit. This is the process of overcoming objections.

Overcoming Objections
For every sale there’s will be an infinite permutation of objections. I’m just going to look at a few standard ones here.

It’s Too Expensive
Remember, it’s seldom about price. It’s about value.

When a prospect says your prices are too high, he’s really telling you that the value of your product sounds too low. It doesn’t have enough benefits to get him to pay the asking price.

Solution: Find services like yours that cost more and build a comparison. When told that my services are too expensive I will often ask the potential client how much he pays to have his car serviced. Premium garages often charge £120 an hour or £800+ per day. Aren’t my services worth as much as a garage mechanic?
Another approach is to put a value on the results of your service and then relate that to the cost.

I’ll Have To Think About It.
Somewhere along the line you haven’t convinced him, you haven’t answered all those questions in his mind.

Solution: You need to find out which boxes in his mind still need ticking. You will have to go through the issues one at a time and overcome the objection. Eventually you should get to the stage where you’ve removed all the reasons to say no.
However there are ways to encourage him to speed up his decision making process. One way is to impose a deadline for the special terms you’re offering him or to emphasise that there is only a limited availability.

It’s Not For Me
This might just mean you have to target your message more carefully. Selling to the wrong audience wastes money. So does selling to the right audience with the wrong message.

Solution: Make sure you’re targeting the correct niche audience. No one can be all things to all men. Additionally you should give him examples of customers similar to him using your product. If this can be backed up with testimonials even better.

I Don’t Have Time To Go Through All This
He’s really saying that he’s bored and he doesn’t see enough immediate benefit to go on with your sales pitch.
But the truth is we make time for interesting and valuable things.

Solution: Find the hook. Open with a benefit and show how your product or service is going to solve his problems and deliver value to him.

I Don’t Know Anything About You
Now he’s telling you he needs to trust you and wants to see proof that you are as good as you say you are.

Solution: Client testimonials are the obvious solution. If some of your clients would be prepared to speak to your prospect and recommend you that would help enormously. Additionally if you can give a guarantee of your service you remove the risk the prospect may be worried about.

What Makes You Different To Anyone Else?
He’s telling you that you’ve failed to differentiate your offering from everyone else’s.

Solution: You need to look at what makes you stand out from your competitors – what is your USP.  If the answer is nothing then you’re going to struggle to convince customers to choose you. This means you may need to re-engineer some aspect of your business so that you do have something which makes you stand out. 

Planning For Success
If you plan your prospect’s potential objections in advance you should be able to overcome the objections when they arise plus it gives you much clearer opportunities to demonstrate your product’s value and to plan your sales pitch and renewed confidence in what you’re selling.

Frankly, wouldn’t you have to be crazy to say “no” to all that?

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7 Ways To Generate More Sales Leads For Your Business

Sales leads

Leads are the essential first step in the sales process. A steady flow of good quality sales leads, when allied to an effective conversion strategy will lead to a regular stream of new business, allowing business owners to plan ahead with confidence.
This post contains 7 common and effective lead generation ideas, which you should consider using in your marketing arsenal. Of course there are plenty of other methods of lead generation but these 7 will give you a good start.
Why do you need so many?
Many small business owners make the mistake of relying too heavily on just 1 or 2 sources of leads.
The problem with that approach is that if one of those lead sources slows down or stops delivering, you are in BIG trouble! It’s far better to develop a wide spread of ways to generate sales leads.

Sales Leads via Word of Mouth
If you want to get the marketplace talking about you to their friends, give them something to talk about!
The golden rule of generating leads via word of mouth, is that you need to be remarkable if you want people to remark on you!
– Remarkable for the methods you use.
– Remarkable for the results you generate.
– Remarkable for the products you sell.
– Remarkable for the service you provide.

Sales Leads via Email Marketing
This is easily one of the most powerful forms of lead generation. For very little cost, a professionally copy written email marketing campaign will generate a steady supply of high quality, targeted sales leads for your business. Don’t do like most small business owners and use amateur marketing copy – it doesn’t work.

Sales Leads via Twitter
Twitter is a relatively new medium and one many people are using very badly. Your objective is to get potential customers to follow you and then to use your tweets to demonstrate your expertise and to reveal a bit about your character. Potential customers can then decide to interact with you and you can start to build a relationship.

Sales Leads via Telemarketing
If you don’t fancy picking up the phone yourself there are plenty of telemarketing agencies out there. Setting aside the skill of the telemarketer, telemarketing is a numbers game. If you make a few calls, you may well not get any joy from it. However if you make a large amount of calls, the chances are that you will generate a quantity of sales leads.
To do telemarketing you do have to stick at it and not take rejection personally.

Sales Leads via Networking
Networking is one of the classic ways for lead generation. A quick search will reveal plenty of local networking groups. Most of these meet for breakfast although some meet at other times of day.
These days you can also network online which has the benefit that you don’t have to leave home to do it and it’s also free. Whether you choose online or offline networking, the key is to network with the right kind of people. You should also remember you’re not just connecting with contacts directly but with all their contacts. So don’t write off someone just because they may never be a customer for you because they may know someone who will be.

Sales Leads via Direct Mail
Direct mail has been around for ever. However since the advent of digital communications direct mail has fallen out of favour. This therefore presents a real opportunity for people prepared to send things through the post. Due to the decrease in the amount of direct mail people receive, a hand signed letter from a fellow businessperson can really have an impact. Of course the letter you send and any accompanying collateral have to be well crafted and relevant to the recipient.

Sales Leads via your Website or blog
Bottom line: Your site should be a lead generating machine for your business.
Get your site’s SEO right so that people can find it and get it professionally copy written, so people feel compelled to interact with your site, click your links and get in touch.
Also, make it easy for people to contact you. Publish your phone number and email address on every page. If you use a contact form, just ask for their name, email address and message. You don’t need anything else to begin with and every extra piece of info you ask for, massively lowers your lead conversion rates!
If you need help with generating sales leads talk to Mike Jennings on 01483 200387 or email info@bda.me.uk
www.businessdevelopmentadvisors.co.uk