Tag Archives: relationship marketing

Know, Like and Trust

That becomes a familiar mantra when you are networking for your business, especially if your business is service-based. When people are thinking about how to spend their money the actual decision making is often very emotional, in spite of any time spent doing research.

It is human nature to prefer to do business with those they already know and who they already like and trust. This is often at odds with whether or not they know the same person is competent. This is why the brakes go on when someone they have just met immediately launches into a sales pitch. It is always important to be authentic — people can tell when you are not, and it only serves to undermine everything else you might have done.

The current wisdom is that on average it takes seven to nine “touch points” before someone feels you are trustworthy. (A big reason to congratulate yourself if your average is less!) Possible ways to accomplish this include:

  • Email — newsletter, informational articles (tips!), personal message
  • Phone
  • In person — coffee or lunch, invite to a networking event
  • Blog post
  • Tweet, Facebook post or any other form of social media
  • Direct mail — no, it’s not really dead. It has become so rare that now when you send something it can really stand out.
  • Webinars or teleseminars
  • Coupons and other special offers

Mixing your methods up has two advantages. It allows people to choose the option that works best for them. It also means that for those who are more engaged, they get some variety, keeping their interest up.

To your business success!

Attracting More Flies With Honey…

Are you offering visitors something to encourage them to opt-in for your services, mailing list, or…? Giving site visitors some incentive to return and/or view you as a trustworthy expert is an important factor in converting them into clients. With busy schedules and the overcrowded inboxes of today, there really needs to be something that makes your viewer say “I want that” to get them past their resistance over taking the time to opt in.

This is commonly referred to as your “offer” and should be something quick and easy for you to fulfill, and not something that would be a financial hardship. This of course varies with the business, but some possible ideas include CD’s, a special report on a related topic, a free session, a discount on a product or service, an inexpensive solution to a pesky problem, or a ticket to an event—or perhaps free admission for a guest.

Thus a “win-win” solution—the offer makes your visitors happy because they get something cool for free, while you are rewarded by a growing list of prospects to nurture until they are ready to become clients and customers.

You can also have more than one offer. For example, when I wrote this my offer was for the Web Clarity tips series, but at some point I plan to offer a contest with a much juicier prize. Use your imagination and ask yourself what would be easy for you to give that your people would want to receive.

To your business success!

Perfect Customer Flow—The “Big Picture”

I had a big “ah ha” about this and realized I should share it. This is an example of something I’ve known about and used as the big “why” for some recommendations I make to clients—except I haven’t been sharing this particular “why” piece. This is all about marketing, a big “turn off” to some, but if you are in business to make money (!) then it is one of those realities that it helps to understand.

1. The process starts with attracting people to your site. This can be done with blog posts, reports, special offers—basically whatever “freebie” you can fulfill easily that is also desirable to your people.
2. The next step is to capture the contact information from site newcomers. This is where the opt-in form on your website comes in, with language inviting them to submit their information in exchange for the incentive you have offered.
3. At this point having an autoresponder starts to become very helpful. You can create a “nurture campaign” with automated, even personalized, follow-up messages. This helps with getting your people to “know, like and trust” you. We all prefer to do business with those we are familiar with. As with social media posts, it is possible to schedule these in advance.
4. As you develop new products or services, or perhaps a special offer or an event, you are now in a better position to convert people (“prospects”) into customers.
5. You then provide them with the purchased product or service and a positive customer experience.
6. From here on the nurture process continues, encouraging them to think of your business as the “go to” source for your niche. You can then come up with new ways to serve them.
7. The final step is to encourage testimonials and recommendations. The best customers are the ones who have been referred to you by someone they already know, like and trust. You benefit from their social endorsement. An option is to have a reward policy for the clients who provide you with new referrals. This can be in the form of a Starbucks card, a discount on services, really the possibilities are endless. It’s a way for you to say “thank you” and to make that client feel appreciated.

To your business success!

Do you attend networking events for your business?

The Best of Intentions…

Do you follow up with the people you meet? This is where it generally starts to break down—and where differing thoughts about proper follow-up etiquette shows up. I have heard it pointed out that if you are not following up on these leads, it begs the question “Why are you networking?” I know I have been on both ends of this. People I have met who I have told “Please contact me, I am interested” who never followed up on my interest, and feeling overwhelmed and not taking action on my end by contacting my own “business card people.”

One practice that is generally agreed to be bad form is to collect the card, add them to your list and start sending them unsolicited emails, etc. This is a recipe for being considered a spammer. The compromise to this that I have adopted for now is to add them to my list, then send them a single email inviting them to opt into either my blog, newsletter and/or schedule a strategy session. Even framing it as an invitation draws an occasional complaint, so this will probably change. If they don’t opt in, that’s the end of it. They may get a call from me, but no email unless it comes up later.

There is no single right way, but having a system that you stick to makes a big difference. Be organized and sort your cards according to priority—hot leads within 48 hours, low priority within three weeks, the rest, such as referral partners, somewhere in between. Remember that it’s not a time to pounce and essentially say “buy my stuff,” but rather an opportunity to build a relationship, getting to know them a bit better and see how you might be able to help each other.

Doing some research and/or personalizing your follow-up is always a good idea. Also, don’t forget “snail mail” as an option. A handwritten note can make a strong positive impression.

Not everyone is going to be interested. One source suggests no more than three attempts, perhaps using two different methods. Don’t be a stalker! If you are making calls be prepared to have a conversation! This sounds obvious, but I have heard of those who purposely make calls at off-hours so they can leave a voicemail and not interact.

Relationships are the foundation of business success.

To your business success!

Back To Basics—What Is a List?

One of the reasons I offer business coaching as part of my services is that I have observed a lot of small business owners are missing some of the basics. In addition, when new developments like social media are added to the mix, it is easy to lose sight of those basics even when they are present.

There is a saying, “the money is in the list,” that I believe dates back to when traveling salesmen were commonplace. They understood that if they kept a list of all of their contacts, whether they were people met in coffee shops, new prospects referred by people they knew, current or past customers—any and all—and then cultivated them over time, that would be where their best and most reliable customers would be. It is difficult to emphasize this enough—the importance of taking the time to build relationships, giving others time and opportunities to know, like and trust us, because it is human nature to prefer to do business with those we already know.

When a client pushes back and tells me they don’t think they need a list it is generally because they have current clients and are taking the short view. They are missing the point that consistent business success is often dependent upon things like their list, permitting them to prosper during times when money is tight.

To your business success!

Why Twitter?

When you think about Twitter, do you throw up your hands in overwhelm? Most business owners I speak with tend to echo this, saying that they just don’t understand it, discounting it as fluff. I felt the same way until I attended a presentation by Laura Fitton ‘@pistachio’ at Webvisions in Portland, Oregon in 2012. Her “Whither Twitter” talk was a revelation for me. I recommend taking a look at the slides viewable here: http://www.slideshare.net/pistachio/whither-twitter-12989237

I suspect that the 140 character limit contributes to the thought that Tweets are too short to be anything important, and that they must all be in the category of trivial announcements like “I am having cereal for breakfast.”

To the contrary, each little Tweet has the potential to spread farther and wider than larger posts, spreading like little seeds in the wind. Each tweet is essentially a miniature website with it’s own url, it lasts forever, and because they are short, the likelihood of them being read is good. They can also contain links to other pages with larger content. Their size encourages immediacy, thus lending themselves to events, emergencies and political actions—as well as little nuggets of helpful tips and tricks that encourage others to “follow” the writer. When you offer good content it gets passed along, building your traffic and growing your tribe. It is also considered good etiquette to follow those who follow you, increasing the likelihood that they will remain in your tribe. Tweets can be written in advance and scheduled for posting, relieving concerns about the potential for distraction. Consider the mighty Tweet!

To your business success!