Drew McLellan’s a 25+ year marketing agency veteran who lives for creating “a ha” moments for his clients, clients’ customers, peers and audiences across the land. Sadly, for his daughter, he attempts to do the same thing at home.
Over the years, Drew has lent his expertise to clients like Nabisco, IAMS pet foods, Kraft Foods, Meredith Publishing, Make-A-Wish, and others.
Drew is also one of the world’s top marketing and branding bloggers.
Recently he has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune’s Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.
We talk about the idea of creating trust every week with our clients. At my agency, MMG, we call this equation basic marketing math: Know + Like + Trust = Sales. Translated - you will never make a sale if the prospect doesn't know you exist, doesn't like both what you sell and who you are and ultimately, doesn't trust you.
It doesn't matter if you're selling toothpaste (hardly a considered purchase) or expensive professional services (think lawyer or accountant) - the requirements is the same.
This equation has never been more true than today. Consumers are jaded by the barrage of marketing messages they get hit with every day. They're feeling as though someone is always selling at them (not to or with - at) and they're wary of anything that smacks of marketing spin.
If you're not creating trust - they are not going to be reaching for their wallet any time soon.
This is one of the reasons why word of mouth is so powerful. When someone you already trust, be it a family member, co-worker, or casual acquaintance, endorses a product or service, you know they don't have anything to gain by it. Which makes their recommendation even more reliable. It is something you can trust.
So how does a business create that sense of trust between themselves and their prospects? Here are some tactics you should consider.
Delight your current customers: I know it seems obvious but really, when was the last time a business went out of their way to delight you? If someone is caught off-guard by remarkable service or a product that is so superior that they can't believe it - they're going to talk about it. You can't beat the power of that word of mouth. But to get it, you have to earn it.
Let the customer tell you when they're ready to buy: The minute we feel we're being sold at - we shut down. Even if we want to buy something. I was in a local jewelry store recently. I had a healthy budget (several hundred dollars) that I was ready to spend. I walked in and really wanted to just look around on my own for a bit. But this vulture of a salesman would not leave me alone. He kept following me around the store, asking me questions to which I responded with terse, one-word answers.
Then, he finally walked away but only because he was chasing after a more talkative customer. In time I had a question and there was a different salesperson standing there. I asked her a question and she answered it. He must have given her some signal behind my back because she got this very flustered look on her face and then just walked away...and he swooped back in.
I left shortly - empty-handed. And I will check in the window before I ever enter that store again. If he's there, I won't be. (If you're wondering if this was your store - email me!)
I spent my money 45 minutes later. Someplace else.
Make me a promise and then keep it: Give me a guarantee. Offer me a hassle free installation process. Stand behind your work and do it overtly. Don't say - "well of course we'd fix it if we did it wrong" or whatever. Put it in writing. Call my attention to it. Help me get over my worry that I might be making a bad decision. And when something goes wrong - not only should you honor your original promise but you should go above and beyond it. (See delight your customers above)
You know this as well as I do. You can't create trust. But you can sure earn it and when you do, you'll hear the register ring.
I trust you can see my tongue poking through my cheek, but the truth is, most businesses give lip service to the idea of starting a conversation with their customers, but few actually do.
Let's agree on a few points right up front:
Those truths would suggest that our current clients are pretty important to our business' long-term success. Despite that fact, most businesses:
Why in the world do we, in essence, ignore our best bet at success?
In this post, I'm going to focus on the listening issue. No one knows what it's like to buy products or services from us like the very people who buy our products and services. And yet, the vast majority of businesses never bother to ask for feedback. Or they ask for feedback in a way that makes it so off-putting or difficult to provide the feedback that the customer ops not to. In most cases, the first chance the customer has to provide real, honest feedback is when they walk away and give their money to your competitor.
I think there are a few reasons why organizations don't seek customer feedback.
If you're not actively and regularly seeking your clients' input and insights, it's one of the biggest marketing mistakes you can make. The only mistake worse than not asking for their input is actually asking for it and then not doing anything to fix the issues you uncover. Now you've asked for their opinion and then told them how little you care by ignoring their concerns.
Let's assume you have found the courage and the time to listen. Are you ready to start a conversation with your customer?How do you go about it? Depending on your size and budget, you can make it as simple or regimented as you need.
Start a conversation: Take your client to lunch and ask "how are we doing and what could we do better?" Walk up to a customer in your store and say "we just re-arranged the shelves, did we make it easier for you to find what you need?" It can be that simple.
Observe: Sometimes the best way to listen is to just watch. How do people move through your store or website? What do they pick up or mouse over? What do they walk right by? Which Facebook posts do they share?
Ask on a schedule: Once a quarter or once a year - reach out to your customers with a survey that asks open-ended questions like "what's your favorite thing about our service?" Or "what do you wish we'd stop doing?" Then (and this is vital) - report back to them what you learned and what you're going to do about it.
Do true market research: If you're big enough and have the budget, do more than antidotal research. Hire a pro and crunch the numbers. Build a benchmark that you can measure against, time and time again.
Just dip your toe into listening if you're not ready to jump in head-first. But don't wait too long - or your customers will be swimming in your competitor's pool!
How do you market your business if you don't have a lot of money?
Well, the short answer to that is you'd better find some resources for marketing or you are in a lot of trouble. But, that doesn't mean they all have to cost an arm and a leg.
In the meantime, while you're scraping together the money to spend on marketing - try this budget friendly tactics.
Hang out where your potential customers hang out and be helpful. Do your clients read certain blogs? Then be there and share your expertise. Do they all run in local marathons? Be there, handing out clean, dry socks with your logo on them. Do they go to industry trade shows? Be there and host a free Q&A about their biggest problems. Don't wait for them to come to you. Go out and find their watering hole.
Know your perfect customer and only take work from them. This requires incredible discipline but pays big dividends. Rather than taking clients for cash flow, ONLY take on those clients that you can delight. And who delight you by paying you a fair price.
Create a referral network by delivering the first referral. When you help someone, it is human nature that they want to return the favor. Why not set the example by making an incredible connection. Now of course to do that...you need to know who their perfect customer is. Which means you get to have a very meaningful conversation that's all about them. See how the human nature thing is going to work?
Use handwritten thank you notes to show your appreciation. In today's high tech world, a personal gesture like a handwritten note means a great deal. It doesn't have to be long or fancy. Just from the heart. And if you can't thank a client from the heart, you should fire them before they fire you.
Let them have a taste. Sampling is one of the most effective marketing tactics around. There is no substitute for actually experiencing your product or service. This is your greatest opportunity to earn their trust and their business. So do it right.
I can hear your collective gasp. Give away what you sell? Sampling is a golden oldie in terms of marketing tactics. The biggest buying obstacle any business has is the uncertainty of that first time.
Why not leapfrog over that worry by just giving them a taste? Walk through any grocery store or big box store on a Saturday and watch the marketing tactic at work. This works just as well for service-based businesses even though they don't have a physical "thing" to offer.
Bottom line on how to market without spending a lot of money - know who you can help the most and be relentless in your efforts on their behalf. Be generous and be grateful.
I know...I didn't even mention social media or direct mail or cold calling. Trust me. If you try these 5 ways to market if you don't have a lot of money - the rest will fall into place.
They say that our greatest fear, once you've eliminated death as a choice, is public speaking.
And yet many of us are called to take that plunge on a regular basis. Whether you are speaking to group of two in a sales presentation or you're standing at a podium, with hundreds of eyes on you - the intent is the same.
We want to impart knowledge, persuade, entertain and be remembered. And above all else, we want to get through the presentation without looking like a fool or being paralyzed by our stage fright.
I'm one of those rare individuals who isn't freaked out at the idea of speaking to a group. I like it. But I think I enjoy it because I have a very set routine of prepping for each speech. By the time I step up to the podium or approach the next sales call, I'm confident that I won't embarrass myself or be nervous to step up on that stage.
Here are my secrets to prepping and delivering a presentation that gets them to ask you back.
Know your audience: One of the easiest ways to get off track with a presentation is to either talk over the audience's head or at a level that is insulting because your audience is way ahead of you. Not only do you need to understand where they're coming from, in terms of knowledge, but also in terms of personality. Are they an audience who asks a lot of questions? Are they open to small group activities or sharing information about their work?
Grab them right up front: You need to quickly take charge of your audience. In a large group setting, you might tell them a powerful story. In a sales presentation, you might lead with a stat or fact that is guaranteed to grab their attention. Too many speakers limp into their presentation - either by telling a lame joke or by getting too technical too fast. You want an emotional reaction of some kind to kick you off.
Assume the worst: I've watched many speakers melt into a puddle of goo right in front of an audience because their PowerPoint didn't load right or their video worked but there was no sound or the internet connection was faulty so they couldn't demo something. When it comes to speaking and technology - assume it will fail. Always have a back up (your presentation on multiple jump drives, the YouTube video on-line but also on a DVD, etc.) You need to be ready to deliver your presentation in the pitch black with no power, if need be. If you're that prepared, you'll worry a whole lot less.
Think sound bytes and repeats: In today's "tweet while you are talking" world, you want to give your audience plenty of tidbits to share. Give them key facts, stats and catch phrases. Imagine someone from your audience going back to the office and re-telling a story you told during your presentation. Which one would get retold? If you answered "none of them" then you'd better come up with a story that is so funny, compelling, astounding or illuminating that people won't be able to help but repeat it.
Be ready to improvise: You can do all the prep in the world, but sometimes that nagging stage fright had it right - something could still go wrong. At the end of the day, there are many elements of giving a presentation that are out of your control. So even though I am advocating ample prep time, you also have to realize that sometimes you just have to go with the flow. It might be a tough question during the Q&A or a technology malfunction. If you can keep your sense of humor and your balance - your audience will reward you for it.
Odds are you were invited to make the presentation. So remember that your audience is anxious for you to be successful as well. Do the prep work, have faith that you know what you're talking about and try to enjoy the conversation.
Even if something does go wrong - remember at the end of the day - your audience doesn't expect you to be perfect. They just want you to be real and share something of value.
You've heard it before - the top 20% of your customers, your very best customers, account for 80% of your profitability and referrals. We intellectually know that and yet our behavior sure doesn't show it.
We spend all kinds of dollars, time, energy and worry chasing after new customers and after someone starts to buy, the typical business sort of forgets all about them. Much like people's dating patterns - there's a lot of wooing that goes on before the wedding but after the "I do's" get said, the florist goes broke.
Our poor best customers get the same treatment from us and that needs to stop. We need to shift a portion of our marketing focus away from prospects and invest even more in our best customers - the ones who have already proven that they'll sing our praises, buy more and more and bring their friends along for the ride.
Fortunately, my friend Stan Phelps has written a book to help us all do just that. This book, What's Your Golden Goldfish, is the third book in a trilogy of marketing books that are all built around over 2,200 crowdsourced examples of real life marketing smarts.
This particular book shares over 100 examples of what leading brands like Starbucks, Doubletree, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Virgin Atlantic are doing differently to cater to their best customers and earn even more of their business and loyalty.
The book showcases nine different ways to let your best customers (and employees) know how much you value them. By doing those little extras, you will make your company even stronger. You will differentiate yourself even more from your competitors, you'll keep both your best customers and employees longer so they contribute to your success and with every little extra, you will create more word of mouth buzz.
The entire series of books is all built around the idea of lagniappe which is a creole word for "a little something extra." In this edition - Stan helps his readers explore how organizations large and small can do a little something extra for their most loyal customers and employees.
You'll love the storytelling but make sure you have a pen and paper handy because this book is going to spark so many ideas that you'll never remember them all. And as you implement them - your best customers will reward you with even more buzz, money and referrals.
Sounds like it is going to work out well for everyone, doesn't it?
If you're interested in Stan's entire series, here's how you can get them from Amazon. If your an Amazon Unlimited customer, you can read the electronic version for free. If you want the paperbacks, click on the links below:
Note: If you click on one of the Amazon links, I get a few cents.