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Boosting Business To New Levels

Boosting Business To New Levels

It’s difficult to reach your business goals if you don’t have the right materials and/or the information to help your business reach the success it’s capable of. These seven helpful suggestions will boost your business to new levels.

1. Be Prepared…
Let’s face it…you can please some of the people all the time, but you’ll never manage to please all of the people all the time. There will be unhappy customers…that’s the way life is. There’s not a lot you can do about it…or is there? Being prepared to take a loss to keep a customer happy may seem like poor business sense at first glance, but think of it this way…if you make him happy today, he’ll reward your efforts by returning to your store time and time again. Yep, taking a loss today, will pay off in the long run.

2. Be Ready with a “Quick Fix”…
Dissatisfaction multiplies at a rapid rate! Have you ever complained and waited…and waited…and waited for someone to get back to you? Yeah, the whole time you’re impatient and disgruntled the problem seems to grow bigger. Let your unhappy customer know that you are getting right on the problem. Even if it can’t be fixed immediately, he’ll know that it’s important and a high priority.

3. Be Professional…
One angry customer plus one angry salesman doesn’t add up to a great solution. Forget about the mannerisms of the ticked customer, and keep your cool. Often a professional and calm response will in turn calm and quiet the tirade of the unhappy customer. And that my friend, is much more likely to get the results you are looking for.

4. Be Responsible…
Go ahead…take the responsibility for the problem…even if it wasn’t your fault. Hey, an “I’m sorry,” goes a long way toward fixing the problem. Once you’ve apologized for the inconvenience your customer has experienced, you can get down to the dirty business of fixing the problem. It never pays to fix the blame or make excuses. Customers see right through it, and respect honesty rather than excuses. Keep your credibility intact with a simple apology.

5. Be Considerate…
Disgruntled customers often fear their complaints will be overlooked and overreact to get the attention they feel they deserve. Let them be surprised with the sincere consideration you give to the problem, and watch their anger dissipate. They’ll walk away from a possibly explosive situation with a pleasantly surprised attitude. They’ll remember that much longer than the problem that brought them to you in the first place.

6. Be Confirming…
It pays to double check on the satisfaction of a one-time dissatisfied customer. You may even want to reinforce a good relationship with them by offering a special discount on their next purchase! Getting them back in the habit of shopping with you can only benefit your business in the long run.

7. Be Attentive to the Cause of the Problem…
Once the customer has been pacified it’s time to get to the root of the problem. Hey, chances are pretty good that others have been unhappy about the same problem, but haven’t vocalized a complaint…at least to you. They may very well take the time to gripe to their friends! Take the time to fix the cause of the problem to avoid similar complaints in the future.

Don’t let customer complaints get you down or cause you to lose future sales opportunities.  In a few minutes you can turn their frown upside down, and make loyal customers out of the most disgruntled.  It just takes keeping your head on your shoulders, and implementing these 7 steps to ensure positive results.

Top Ten Email Marketing Mistakes made by Small Businesses

Top Ten Email Marketing Mistakes made by Small Businesses

Email marketing isn’t complex or new. Yet we see the same mistakes being made over and over by the marketing executives, sales professionals and owners of small businesses.
If done correctly, email marketing is a very effective medium to generate new leads, and build continuous contact with your customers and prospects. It can easily help you yield new sales and meet your targets.

email
Take care of these top 10 mistakes and you are on your way to new sales!
1. Underestimating Current Customers List – This is by far the biggest mistake we see. Marketers just disregard their current customer list, and leave money on the table. Even worse, most have no systematic way of capturing their customer’s email and contact details in a common list.
A consolidated customer email list can be easily used to market new products to existing customers or to get repeat orders if done regularly and consistently. Existing customers have seen your product and service before, and are more likely to buy from you again.
2. No specific Target – One big, long message for everyone is no longer smart or effective. Nothing works the fast way. Now the trend is to do personalized, 1 to 1 marketing. If your standard message is for all prospects in all industries, chances are that it does not address anyone needs.
It is best to send several small, targeted emails to focus groups, which you can track to see what works in which industry, and who opened which mail. With this potent arsenal, you can focus your efforts on those chose few to spend your time upon, and generate sales with a much bigger ROI.
3. Using cheap lists – Using 300,000 emails from a $100 CD is bound to fail. These email addresses are mostly defunct, and most are acquired through snooping and email extraction from forums. Most will not be from your target market anyway. Just sending a blatant marketing message is a sure-fire way to get yourself banned from major Internet Service Providers. Anti-spamming laws are catching fast in most countries, so beware of such tactics.
You can either buy a good list of your target group from reputed list brokers, or start compiling your own house list of all past and current prospects, customers, vendors, suppliers, contractors to market to them.
4. No system to measure response – Marketing just continues to send out message after message: No ROI, no measurement of efforts, and no mechanism to evaluate the response of past messages. No wonder these efforts hardly bring in any results or prospects.
A systematic measurement system is very important. With emails, you can tag each and every link, email account and email sent, so that when it is opened or clicked, you can immediately know who is interested, who is keen to buy, what product, and how eagerly.
With a good measurement, you can call those few that spent time with your message, or on your website, and by knowing their browsing behaviour, you can customise future messages for them. Market something that they have shown interest on, and you are closer to another sale.
5. No clear goal or strategy – Start with the right goal and marketing strategy. Your first goal should be to establish trust and credibility within your target market.
Secondly, get the prospect interested enough in what you are selling, so that they are willing to give you their contact information.
Thirdly, your marketing message should be sent out regularly so that the prospect expects it, waits for it, and it shows that you are consistent, reliable, and trustworthy.
Remember, marketing exists to generate leads, prospects and help sales and delivery teams to close the deals, & not for any other purpose. So focus, and strategize on these lines.
6. Marketing folks don’t have time to update anyone about their initiatives – Most of the time, the services folks, the receptionist and other employees of the company are not even aware of what marketing is up to. So when a prospect calls the office to talk about the offer made in the email, neither the receptionist has a clue, nor the employee from the service department. None has seen the email, and have no idea who to refer this prospect to. Here goes another lost sales.
Marketing efforts need to be integrated over the entire organisation, and everyone should understand the need & importance of what’s going on.
7. Marketing message is inconsistent – Many marketing firms just send out a message, without making sure that it is consistent with the other company collateral. It is not even properly linked to the company’s website, and does not incorporate the complete office address, telephone, fax, contact information. Just giving an email address is not sufficient to build trust and prove that yours is a genuine offer.
8. Boring Marketing Message or Ad copy – A long repetitive message is no way to capture the prospects attention. You can’t watch a boring movie even if you paid for the tickets, so who is going to read your unasked for marketing email if you are not even addressing the problem.
Most messages spend countless paragraphs talking about what they offer, their products, services, and me, me, me. There’s nothing in the message to catch the reader’s attention. You need to talk about the problems faced by your target market, their industry, and their issues. Once you establish a bond by acknowledging that you know about their problems, they will be more amenable to your message, and products.
9. Dropping Prospects Half Way – It is a proven fact that a new prospect will take an average of 5-7 different interactions before they build enough trust on you, your company and your products or services before thinking of buying from you. So if you drop prospects after meeting them once or twice, thinking that they are not qualified or do not seem interested, you are losing sales too quickly.
Continuing to hand hold them and stay in constant contact will help you in the long run, as you will be familiar to the prospect. People love to do business with people they know, and not strangers. Email is the most cost-effective way to stay in touch.
10. Not interested in Educating the prospect – The marketers are so focused on sales, that they do not spend enough time with their prospects to educate them. Remember that if you service a prospect well, they will most likely convert to a paying customer sooner or later. Have patience. Use email to market to them regularly with information, education, free offers etc. until they build enough trust to buy from you.
Email marketing has been proven time and again, if done correctly. Big companies like IBM, Amazon, HP are using it effectively, and smaller companies are catching up fast in understanding its marketing reach. With its low cost, and effectiveness, email marketing helps to build long term relationships with your target audience. Use it wisely, and ye shall reap its rewards.

What You Should Know About Online Marketing

What You Should Know About Online Marketing

Ask the experts about the most vital parts of online marketing, and you’ll invariably come up with a list of five major responses. These five critical online marketing principles are:

1. Dead-ends
2. Giving and selling
3. Trust
4. Push and pull
5. Niche marketingonline

The dead-end principle means that your web marketing effort can’t just exist. It must give prospective customers a reason to look around and take action. Otherwise, it’s the same as having them see your ad, then turn around and go elsewhere – your ad was a dead-end to them, they didn’t get anything out of it. No matter how informative your website is, with gorgeous graphics and a winning layout, if it does not encourage your visitors to take certain actions, then it is just taking up web space and isn’t actually filling a purpose. Therefore, when you’re designing your web marketing strategy, before even building your site, you’ll need to ask yourself how you’ll obtain your visitors. You’ll then need to choose which activities will get you to these results, and which of them can be done in-house, as others are outsourced.

The giving and selling principle refers to the fact that when people shop online, they expect to receive something a little extra. Therefore, one fantastic method for attracting customers to your website is to give something to them for free, and then attempt to sell them something else. The strategy typically goes as follows: the first step is to attract people to your site using a good amount of free information. The second step is to inform these prospective customers about your products and services. The free stuff doesn’t need to be something tangible. Even the information has value, and then once they’re hooked, they’re ready to learn about what you have to sell them.

Trust is an extremely important principle for web marketing. In fact, many experts believe that it is the most important of all the other principles for selling your products and services. Without this trust, people simply won’t buy from you and you won’t have a business. Trust is built in a number of ways. This can include selling well known and respected name brands, by clearly displaying your privacy, shipping, and return policies, by joining well known and respected organizations, and by offering guarantees that you’ll stand by. A customer-friendly system based on quality and transparency allows you to build your credibility and will earn the trust of your prospective customers, leading to more sales of your products and services.

The push and pull principle works by pulling people into your website using attractive content, and then pushing your information to them on a regular basis using email. This can be done in a number of ways; most commonly, this has to do with opt-in programs such as newsletters and updates about sales and other promotions. Since websites are relatively passive, it is extremely useful to add an active element to your marketing campaign that will remind your prospective customers of your existence, and entice them to act on what you have to offer.

Niche marketing has become a vital part of the web marketing industry. It is a recognized fact that to be successful, especially with an online business, you need to know your niche, and market directly to them. With a small business, finding the niche must be filled in order to give them enough leverage against the competition. A niche allows a business, no matter how large or small, to focus on a certain corner of the marketplace, limiting the competition, and focusing on the precise type of person who is most likely to become a customer. The key to niche marketing is to begin with a business plan to identify and define your focus and purpose, and then build your website and marketing strategy based upon the vision you’ve outlined. This encourages consistency and accuracy throughout your web marketing efforts.

All of these principles are very important to creating a successful marketing strategy online. By making sure that these principles are all fulfilled, you can be certain that you’ll increase your number of new visitors, and – perhaps more importantly – encourage past and current customers to return.

The True Effectiveness of Surveys

The True Effectiveness of Surveys

I have learned over the years that when it comes to online marketing as I know it, it’s not about what I want in my business.It’s really about what people who visit my website want. For awhile I didn’t understand that philosophy. How do I find out what people want?

survey
Finding out what people want is not something you, I or anyone else for that matter can pull out of thin air. If we are going to be successful online, even offline in the brick and mortar world, we have to take our eyes off of ourselves and put them onto our potential customers.So how do we do this?
The answer is quite simple yet complex.That is to conduct a survey or surveys.Conducting surveys is simple.On your website you can create forms for people to fill out. If you are going to put a form on your website, I would limit only one form. You do not want to bombard people with forms.Keep it simple as the saying goes.
Do not get too personal in your form.In other words only ask for first name and email. That is it when it comes to their personal information.
Now, from their you can use your own imagination on the rest of the form makeup. Whatever it is you want to sell, make your survey easily accessible on your website. The number of visitors visiting your site will determine the number of surveys filled out and sent to your emails inbox. Its all numbers anyway….whether its marketing a product or service and conducting surveys. This is an excellent way of building lists specific to what people want to buy.
Notice how I said whatever it is you want to sell. What that means is, you don’t know yet if you have what people really want. That is the purpose of the survey. To find out if they want what you have. Once you collect the data and you are ready to sell, you have in your hand a ready-made list of names specific for that product or service you are offering.
Not too long ago, this year as a matter of fact (2004 currently), I learned what not to do in a survey. I will give you my experience of what not to do and how to remedy this situation.
I recently got married and five of my family and friends took me to dinner two days prior to the wedding. As we were finishing our meal, the manager came to our table and told us that we have been selected to participate in a survey. She told us that if we participated, we would receive $3 off of our next meal. Come to find out, our bill which totaled over $120 collectively, the $3 off was for the entire group at the table. Ok, I think its nice that they offered this, but lets look at the reality of this situation. First of all, $3 off of over $120 does not get anyone too excited nor does it want to make anyone go through the hassle, yes hassle of filling out a survey when they are enjoying a night out with family and friends. Secondly, the odds of us getting together again and eating at this particular restaraunt are slim to none. So what does that tell me? That tells me one of two things. Either someone did not take their eyes off of themselves and put them onto their customers or, they knew the odds of us coming back as a group were slim and it works completely in their favor.That is disturbing to me. Now for my input on a remedy.
What would I do in this situation? Well first of all, everything I stated in the above paragraph, all of my family and friends after we were “selected” kind of looked at each other in amazement and disbelief. We all knew that it was a silly thing to do to come up to us and play us like we were born a few days ago. First, If I am going to get a group to fill out a survey, especially if I have been “selected”, and I am going to give them something in return to do so, I would offer the table, say, free desert now. Why do I say this? remember, you are marketing your business….make it work.Make people who just enjoyed the meal and the service go out and tell someone else.Stand up and believe that the way you are conducting your survey is for your customers, not just you alone. Don’t try and fool people, were not fooled.If you are going to have a couple fill out a survey, how about buy one meal get the second meal half off. After all, it appears this is a random selection. Not everyoneis doing this. Now, I am not looking for free handouts. As a matter of fact, I would have rather given the manager (and no disrespect to her) $5 to leave. It’s obvious to me in this circumstance that this particular establishment does not want to give away anything. They want it to only benefit themselves.But if you are a business and you want true success in surveys, do it right.
The final approach? Instead of offering anything, put surveys out on the table and let people make up their own minds. People like to be left alone and not annoyed. Its ok to ask for the sale, but no means no. If you continue to push someone, they won’t come back. After all, would you?

Branding Techniques For Real Estate

Branding Techniques For Real Estate

A key principle of marketing is to find something unique about what you offer as the basis of your sales message. Even if what you offer is a commodity, there is always one thing unique in your business — you. A big error made by many Real Estate Agents and Brokers is to try to develop an institutional image like most big companies. People do not like to do business with institutions; they like to do business with people. In advertising terms, branding is the "image" created in the minds of people when they see or hear a name, product or logo. Companies invest a lot of money in creating and maintaining their brand, but the Internet has sparked a new trend called "Personal Branding". Personal branding isn’t only important for promoting a product, business or political cause, but also for promoting yourself for advancement within your own organization. It involves developing your personal reputation. Branding can be done to any product, or any person. Before undertaking an exercise in personal branding, however, consider your distinctive strengths and abilities and what they offer the market place. Traditionally personal branding was for sporting celebrities who gained enormous coverage and following through their sporting prowess. Movie stars have also had celebrity status and association since movies began.
A personal brand is about creating strong, favorable associations in the minds of people that you encounter. If you don’t actively do this, they will still make associations. Therefore, it may be better to be proactive and undertake the branding exercise for yourself, you cannot control what they think but can give them some information to assist with the associations.
WHY BRANDING OURSELVES?

Places you in a leadership role
Enhances prestige
Attracts the right people and right opportunities
Adds perceived value to what you are selling
Earns recognition
Associates you with a trend
Increases your earning potential
Differentiate yourself from the competition
Position your focused message in the hearts and minds of your target customers
Confers top of mind status
Increases authority and credence of decisions

HOW DO WE BRAND OURSELVES?
Like any branding exercise, the key to personal branding is having a good product, one which you understand and pitch to the right market. The first step in personal branding is knowing who you are, find out what strengths your brand possesses and how these strengths can help you. Personal branding is not about presenting a façade to the public; a poor product will not stand up to market scrutiny. This is also a choice of brand elements, people you deal with, the look that you have, and how you conduct yourself. Once this has been done, determine what you are going to offer. As a product what do you do, what need does the product of you satisfy in the market. Next figure out the position you will take in the audience of your mind. What unique space do you wish to occupy and what unique associations do you want people to recall when they think of you? Finally, once you have established the first three steps, manage your brand over its lifecycle. That is keep visible, be consistent and be yourself. According to Montoya, the well-known personal branding guru, the key to managing your personal brand is word-of-mouth (WOM), the most trusted form of communication.
How does one go about building a personal brand? Recognize your personal strengths and gifts! Think about how you best connect with people, consider what your target audience needs and wants, identify the value you deliver to meet those needs and wants, and communicate in a way that reaches your constituents in their hearts and minds and via the channels that work best for you
Functional associations are important such as timeliness, quality, dedication; as are emotional associations like inspiring, leadership, being an innovator.
The three C’s of personal branding are clarity, consistency and constancy.
Clarity deals with being honest about yourself and your strengths and promises of value attached to your personal brand and being clear in the way you communicate them. Often, for simplicity, you must focus on one or two aspects that are most vital and focus on communicating them. Think about the things you associate with prominent artists or mangers, and they are unlikely to be complicated.
Consistency is keeping things consistent for the customers. This does not mean staying stuck in the past, but just not undertaking drastic changes. Coca Cola have had a consistent message for 50 years; the message evolves continuously and is not stagnant but is consistent. Artists like Madonna change every three or four years, but there is a consistency to the change.
Constancy means being visible with your brand and maintaining an on-going level of awareness in the marketplace. Oprah Winfrey is visible constantly, and although most of people do not have the visibility or exposure of Oprah, they can still be visible in a smaller audience. There is no point trying to build a brand image quickly to coincide with a new exhibition or performance you may have coming up – brands take time to build in consumers minds.