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Importance of Face To Face Meetings in Small Business Marketing

Today there is a host of technology driven ways to communicate with both your customers and your prospects without ever coming out from behind your desk. When we have smart phones, social media, email, video conferencing, webinars etc, etc why should we ever set foot outside of the office.

The answer is simple.

While communicating online is fast and convenient, it’s simply not as effective as meeting up with your prospects.

Do you remember after 9/11 nobody flew for a month or two. Eventually people realized that their sales were suffering and that nothing is as effective as meeting face to face.

Attention Please!

The fact is if you want to make an impact there’s no substitute for staring into your prospect’s eyes. Even the most well-crafted sales letter or email can’t create the impact of a salesperson in the flesh.

There’s also the problem of gaining and holding attention. While your prospect is digesting your message, they’re likely to be checking email, hanging out on Facebook, and watching a video on Youtube.

Trust And Confidence

While e-commerce is growing rapidly, buying from an unknown online resource is still a bit of a leap of faith. There’s nothing like a handshake and some good, old-fashioned eye contact to help build credibility. It’s much easier to gain your prospects’ trust when you get up close and personal.

Instant Feedback

Another benefit of sitting in front of your prospects is the instant feedback you get on how you’re doing. Body language, tone of voice and facial expressions give you clues of how your pitch is going down. Even when you’re talking on Skype, it’s hard to pick up on these non-verbal clues.

Building Rapport

Traditional meetings are vital in building rapport. They allow you to make those crucial personal connections. Remember people do business with people they like and building this sort of relationship over the internet is very difficult.

Your Customer Service

What do your customers think about a business that’s too busy to invest time in them? If you’re not willing to spend the time, you send the message that you’re not that interested generally. On the other hand, a company that always makes an effort to meet customers face to face is obviously committed to doing whatever is necessary to win and retain their business.

Technology is a great enabler, but it still doesn’t replace the personal touch of face to face meetings. And it’s this personal touch which is essential in creating strong relationships with your prospects and your customers.

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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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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.