Saturday, December 2, 2017

People Need You Right Now

Right now, at this very minute, there are people in need of your products and services. These potential customers are going to your competitor because they don't know who you are, what you do, why they should choose you and how to find you.

The components of marketing are really simple. However, all the new social media venues, added to the already existing choices, make the subject seem complicated.

Let's boil it down to the lowest common denominator. The purpose of marketing is to let potential customers know, and remind existing customers, four things:

1. Who you are.
2. What you do.
3. Why you.
4. Where to find you.

Think of your marketing as "word of mouth". Only you are in control of the words.

Here's three marketing statements that answer the four questions: who, what, why and where?

Grocery store example:

1. Who you are: My name is Joe Smith, owner of your local IGA Grocery Store.

2. What you do: We have a huge selection of locally grown produce as well as a deli department with a unique selection of meats and cheeses that you won't find anywhere else.

3. Why you: Our highly skilled and knowledgeable meat cutters will show you how to amaze your friends and family when they eagerly show you how to prepare and serve meals that will really be impressive. Service you won't find anywhere else.

4. Where to find you: We are located in Edmond on the SE corner of Western Ave and Memorial Road with plenty of parking.

If you were to put a similar short and precise message on the local radio station (recorded by you), in the local newspaper (with your picture), on the local television station (with you doing the commercial), on all your social media networks, in the yellow pages, on a targeted postcard mailing to all the neighborhoods surrounding your store or restaurant, what do you think would happen? Would it work?

I can predict with 100% certainty that it will work IF it was done consistently and you lived up to your promises.

Restaurant example:

1. Who you are: Tony Valentine, owner of T's BBQ, where award winning BBQ doesn't happen by accident.

2. What you do: Since opening in May 2014, starting at zero, T's BBQ has grown to cooking over 400 pounds of BBQ every day for our dine-in, carry-out and catering customers.

3. Why you: Before opening T's BBQ I spent more than 7 years entering Kansas City BBQ competitions going from a novice to winning cash prizes and awards for my perfected recipes. Most people would stop there, but I wanted my BBQ to be the very best. I went on to become a Certified BBQ Judge and am now qualified to not only create my own award winning BBQ, but to judge the quality of others.

4. Where to find you: T's BBQ is located at 108 Lakeshore Dr, Harrison, AR. Across from Lake Harrison.

What do you say when people ask you about your business?

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

How to add value to every product you sell.

A sales rep recently told me a great story about how to keep from giving a discount or from having to negotiate the price. He was having the brakes adjusted on his car and the cost was $140. When he asked, "Is that the best you can do" here is how he responded: "If you want to negotiate the price – the break job will cost you $150!"

Think about what a great answer that is. What is he really saying? He is saying that I am already giving you the best price I can. He is saying that if you want to negotiate I will raise the price to $150 and we can see if you can get me down to the bottom price of $140.

Try it. If someone asks if that is the best you can offer, quote a higher price and say that is the price for folks who want to negotiate. Or say that is what everyone else is paying and you have already cut the price.

That brings up a good question: Is it part of a customer's job to ask you for a discount? Should you ask for a discount when you buy something? My answer to both questions is absolutely yes! If the sales person didn’t ask the mechanic for a discount he would never have learned that great strategy.

I am reluctant with everything I buy and you should be too. The only reason I let go of a dollar bill is to get a better grip on it. I work hard for my money and I want to stretch it as far as I can. So do you and so do your customers? I want to get every ounce of value out of every dollar I spend.

It takes practice to be a reluctant buyer but the dividends are great. By being a reluctant buyer you will learn how to buy everything you buy for less. By being a reluctant seller you will be able to sell everything you sell for more. Just as you play poker to win, not just to make the other players like you.

Your price is based on a lot of factors and making a profit is not optional. You have to get paid. When you study the reactions of people who are trying to sell something to you, a reluctant buyer, you will learn the best strategies as well as see them in action.

It takes GUTS to ask for things and the more you do it the better you are at it. You might be called a few names in the process, but so what.

This reluctance should also be used when you are selling something and asked to lower your price. NEVER GIVE IN TOO EASILY! Never lower your price without setting up several roadblocks, speed bumps and detours. Let's say I have a car for sale in my driveway with a $1500 sign. You pull in. I immediately go out to the car and take the price down. I have a new sign that says $2500. I explain that I didn't realize the prices were so high and the car dealership would give me so much for my trade-in. I tell you that I will let the car go for $1500 if you try it out and like it and buy it now. But if you come back tomorrow the price will be $2500. You buy it at $1500, the price I wanted to sell it to you for. You might think that's a little cruel. You can tell that to the person standing next to you in the unemployment line. Or you can get a job at the post office where the price of a stamp is the price you pay! (Sorry, you can probably tell I had to learn all this the hard way).

By lowering your price reluctantly you are actually adding value to your product or service. If you lower your price too easily you will actually CHEAT THE BUYER out of the good feeling they get when they know they got you to come down.

I was sitting on the plane and the woman sitting next to me was in advertising sales. When I asked her what her biggest mistake she ever made in sales, here is what she told me. "I was calling on a pawn shop with my sales manager. He told me the bottom line price for the advertising program was $1,500, but to try to get $2,000 and go down slowly and reluctantly so you "add value" to the program. When the customer asked for the price I made a huge mistake and said $1,500! The customer ended up paying $1,400 and I ended up getting chewed out!"

Here is another reason you should be slightly reluctant when giving a price reduction. An accountant once told me that I should forget the term "gross profit" and replace it with "contribution to overhead." He said that every time I lower the price I am giving part of the company away! The warehouse cost is .04%, the sales department cost is .04%, the transportation department is another .04%, administration cost is .04% and the bottom line should be at least .04%. When you cut your price below .20% think about what part of the company you are cutting out and giving away! Which vacation day would you like to give up? How much do you want you insurance deductible to go up? Which customer service person would they like to tell that they can't buy shoes for their kids this week, etc?

You don't want to appear too hungry for the sale or too eager to give everything away. The buyer will be suspicious and begin to wonder why you are so anxious to make a sale.

When you do have to lower your price never come down in equal increments. If you do you will set up a pattern. The customer will know that to get a discount all they have to do is follow your "pattern" and get a lower price.

If someone asks for a discount, after you've presented your services and quoted a price then you say: "Sure, I can for $400 but that would be without the ___________ and the ________." You actually eliminate things so that they understand that as the price shrinks so does value.

Another good response when asked to discount your price is to use the "fork in the road" response. Our company came to a "fork in the road" and had to decide if we were going to be simply a price seller or if we were going to be a value seller. We chose to be a value seller and the customers we serve know that in the long run, the value of our high quality products along with our service and support, is like an insurance policy that helps them become successful.

It is necessary to discount your price from time to time. However, you deserve to get paid. Ask your customer if they have any employees who work without being paid. What kind of quality would you expect them to produce? What level of customer service would you expect them to provide to your customers? How much do you think they would end up stealing from you over time?

If your customer's business is down and they are trying to "cut their way into profitability" they are doomed to fail. The only way to increase business and get more customers is by doing it the old fashioned way. By selling!

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What percent of customers change vendors for a  lower price?

a. 15% b. 37% c. 53% d. 78%

Don’t make the mistake that many sales people make. This huge mistake is exaggerating. When you are selling an idea or trying to convince someone of something, you more than likely over exaggerate your claims.

To get your idea across you may feel you have to use such overworked phrases such as:

"We are number one..."
"We are the best in the business..."
"You can save big money with us..."

As soon as one of these statements is made a red flag goes up in the customers mind. In your opening statement you have just "unsold" yourself. The buyer, customer or person you are trying to convince knows immediately that you are stretching the truth. The buyer (I refer to anyone you are trying to get to buy into your idea, product or service as a “buyer”) has three questions:

1. "So what?"
2. "What's in it for me?"
3. "Can you prove it?"

Instead of using the above overworked phrases you should use facts, figures, and examples in your presentation to justify your statements. These facts make the buyer willing to accept you and your offer. Your goal is to weave the facts into the conversation that makes the buyer understand the LEGITIMACY of what you are saying.

Like a shrewd attorney, you want to present your facts in the strongest possible light. For example:

"Our program will increase your profits by 6% -here is how."

Or "This product line will cut your labor cost by 3% -I have the facts right here to prove what I am saying."

Or "This new marketing system will increase your sales by at least 5% -let me show you what I mean"

An idea is sold not necessarily when you go into your close, but when the buyer agrees with your statements -and that is what you are looking for -buyer commitment.

The answer is 15%. So if price is your only strategy... you are missing out on the fun of really selling. When you learn the skills it takes to be a real pro, you welcome someone who says "your prices are too high!"

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Why They Are Out of Business

Following are comments from a company president given during an interview as the reason they shut down their business.

"Doing business based on relationships, service, and trust, is just not as highly valued as it used to be."

"The passion for service is gone."

"Willing to do what-ever-it-takes to serve the customer doesn't have the value it used to have."

I have some concerns about this. I think these reasons are pretty thin. Let's look at this from the customer's point of view.

Relationship: If you think relationships are not highly valued, try doing business without one. Just the opposite is true!

I am not going to pay a higher price because of our relationship, but you will get to keep my business if we have a good relationship and you don't take advantage of it.

From a customer's point of view the relationship has to be stronger than ever before. It has to be sincere. It has to be beneficial for both of us.

Trust: Integrity is way to gain trust. Do these examples below make me trust you? You can fool some of the people some of the time, but trust is more important than ever. You have to earn it by telling the truth.

~Do these examples build trust?
~A pound cake is not really a pound.
~A foot long hot dog is only 10 inches.
~Many number 10 cans are not number 10’s.
~Shrimp baskets don’t have all the shrimp.
~Retailers put incorrect prices in their scanners.
~Product manipulation, product substitution and short weight are considered "strategies".
~Intentional invoice over charges and mistakes are built into the system of many banks, credit card companies and mortgage companies.
~Water is injected in lobster tails to increase their weight.
~Products are in the market that are over breaded, over glazed and over pumped.
~Scallops are soaked in sodium-Tripoli-phosphate to increase weight.
- 7 billion bottles of water are sold every year with much of it being simply tap water!

HONESTY ALWAYS WORKS BEST! The best business or sales person is always the one who tells the truth. It is not only impressive but it leaves a trail of trust behind. Not the best talker wins, it’s the most honest talker. The best approach to building customer trust is to deserve confidence.

Service: "What-ever-it-takes to serve the customer doesn't have the value it used to have!"

Immediate, enthusiastic and energetic response to a customer request is more valued than ever.

The problem is people have become so dependent on technology that good customer service has disappeared! What does your voice mail sound like? If you are a president or vice president, call your own company and see what impression your customers are getting. Passion for service is more appreciated than it has ever been, because it is so rare!

"Dial 1 for shipping, dial 2 for warehouse, dial 3 for directions, dial 4 for credit, dial 5 for accounts payable!" Is that "what-ever-it-takes service?”

Here's the bottom line.

Things are changing. FAST. Before you make the change be sure it is not replacing the things that made you successful in the first place: Serving customers.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Coaching Improves Results As Much As 40% Over Managing

What’s the difference between a coach and a manager?

A coach spends more time listening and asking questions, while a manager spends more time speaking and giving directions.

A coach invests time in observing, while a manager makes quick assumptions.

A coach uncovers issues to get the root of a problem, while a manager takes the quickest route to deal with the surface symptoms.

A coach helps accept responsibility, while a manager assigns blame.

A coach supports employees in developing their plans, while a manager gives them the plan and dictates to-do lists.

We’ve all experienced variations of coach vs. manager types. The truth is, it seems easier and more expedient to “manage” than to "coach". But research shows that coaches have more engaged employees, and get better results.

Done well, good coaching is well worth it. Good coaching leads to improved employee engagement, retention and performance. Specifically regarding performance, employees receiving fair and accurate feedback from their coach performed 40% better than employees who did not.

Helping other people increase their performance is really powerful when the person you have been working with on a specific skill or behavior masters it. If you ask a person who has had a successful coaching relationship what makes it great, they will tell you the coach actually cared. They would say that the coach was clear, persistent, committed, and often passionate and gave them a different perspective.

5 Behaviors for Managers Who

Want to Coach Employees:

1. Let go of the belief that your job is to have all of the answers.

When you don’t give employees the opportunity to solve their own problems, they don’t develop. Instead, they become dependent and never reach their full potential.

2. Managers have to believe that every employee has the potential to grow and improve.

A manager can’t coach an employee if they sincerely don’t believe in the employee.

3. Managers need to be willing to slow down and take the time to coach.

Coaching does take a little more time and patience upfront, and it takes deliberate practice to get good at it. People learn, they develop, performance improves, people are more satisfied and engaged, and your company is more successful.

4. Managers should learn how to coach.

You can’t just throw a switch and be an effective coach. You need to have a framework, and it takes practice.

5. Managers should study the experts and practice the techniques.

To learn how to coach, you should experience what it’s like to be coached by someone who’s really good at it. Then, read a good book on the topic. Then, practice, practice, practice and get feedback. After a while, you begin to reap the benefits.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Stepping out of the comfort zone

Most of us naturally seek to avoid unnecessary inconvenience. However, taking a step out of the comfort zone can really benefit your business.

Companies grow by continually innovating and expanding their product line and reach. When you step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, you learn new things and gain a whole new world of knowledge. With the right mindset this will open new opportunities.

Can you guess the single biggest obstacle to a successful business? Our comfort zone!

As business owners, we find our “comfort zone” and stay there. Our comfort zone is a place that feels safe, familiar, and predictable.

Your comfort zone is a place where there are no surprises and no difficulties, just the same thing day after day. It's where you become complacent, satisfied with what you have right now even though you want more.

Being afraid of change severely limits what you can accomplish in your business. Living in a comfort zone stops you from trying new things. To be around for the long-term requires that you expand your marketing and services.

Stepping out of your comfort zone means expecting and welcoming change. This perspective is good because in business if you won't change, you're days may be limited. People that are willing to step out of the norm experiment and try new things and ideas.

People who step out are the people who do what others won't do.

How do you take that first step out of your comfort zone? You have to be confident and know that you can do anything with the right attitude and effort.

Get in the habit of doing things that make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy but are important for the well- being of your business.

Overcoming fears concerning your abilities and the unknown will let you accomplish practically anything you want. You must take that first step. Don't put it off. Take action where action is needed. Bite the bullet and do it even if you would rather not.

When you started your business you were most likely out of your comfort zone 24/7. Perhaps you were a great employee and technician who thought you would try your hand at running your own show. Overnight you needed to become a sales person, admin assistant, receptionist, marketing guru etc. You were out of your comfort zone big time.

Why it is that many business owners don’t take the plunge to venture out into the unknown after they have had their business for a while? Many believe that what they are doing worked in the past even if it is producing less results, so they keep doing the same thing.

Every business is changing and evolving constantly, there are many disrupters emerging in every market. When you are so embedded in your business it is near impossible to see the disrupters coming. Even those that see it coming don’t know how or what to do to stop it. They are fearful but stay in their comfort zone, doing the same thing hoping for different results.

A good solution is partnering with a business mentor to help learn and adapt to the changes that are inevitable. Another solution is to join associations like your state restaurant association, you local chamber of commerce, or your industry associations. They can be your link to your industry's universe and help you prepare for the future.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Consistent marketing keeps your momentum going

Consistency breeds loyalty.
Franchises understand this. Consider the uniformity of the customer experience at Jimmy John’s. From food quality to store design to delivering on their brand promise of “subs so fast you’ll freak,” it’s absolutely clear what you’ll get when you walk into a Jimmy John’s.

Consistency builds trust.
Parents know that inconsistent rules and limits are confusing for children and leave them on shaky ground. The same goes for your customer relationships.  To build momentum keep your promises and be consistent with your communications. A monthly marketing piece like the one you are now reading should indeed be monthly.

Consistency is not hard to achieve.
Being consistent is easier for smaller businesses. You might think creating a marketing message is for large corporations. Writing your own marketing plan can feel like a nuisance, but imagine the challenge a national organization faces creating theirs. For the small company, your advantage lies in your numbers: A business with only a few employees can create a marketing plan over a cup of coffee.

A consistent message.
It is important to your marketing efforts that everything looks, feels, and sounds the same way. In order to get the benefits that repetition provides, this is absolutely critical. If your customers hear the same message over and over again, the same way each time, they are much more able to spread the word in the way you want it to be spread. This is where the "and they tell two friends" becomes your most powerful marketing tool.

Frequency of your message.
Frequency makes a difference.  Most people have a short memory when it comes to remembering a marketing message.  So constant reminders that you exist and have something to offer is necessary to establish the brand awareness.

It starts with a slogan.
What is a Slogan? In business, a slogan or tagline is "a catchphrase or small group of words that are combined in a special way to identify a product or company," according to's small business encyclopedia.

What Makes a Great Slogan?
According to HowStuffWorks, a great slogan has most or all of the following characteristics:

1.  It's memorable.
Is the slogan quickly recognizable? Will people only have to spend a second or two thinking about it? A brief, catchy few words can go a long way in advertisements, videos, posters, business cards, and other places.

2.  It includes a key benefit.
Ever heard the marketing advice, "Sell the sizzle, not the steak"? It means sell the benefits, not the features -- which applies perfectly to slogans. A great slogan makes a company or product's benefits clear to the audience.

3.  It differentiates the brand.
Does your light beer have the fullest flavor? Or maybe the fewest calories? What is it about your product or brand that sets it apart from competitors?

4.  It imparts positive feelings about the brand.
The best taglines use words that are positive and upbeat. For example, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups' slogan, "Two great tastes that taste great together," gives the audience good feelings about Reese's, whereas a slogan like Lea & Perrins', "Steak sauce only a cow could hate," uses negative words.

The former leaves a better impression on the audience.
Companies with memorable taglines and slogans

Nike:  "Just Do It"

Apple:  "Think Different"

McDonald's: "I'm Lovin' It"

Verizon  "Can You Hear Me Now?

LorĂ©al:  "Because You're Worth It"

Milk Board: "Got Milk?"

M&M: "Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands"

Lay's: "Betcha Can't Eat Just One"

Meow Mix: "Tastes So Good, Cats Ask for It by Name"

State Farm:  "Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There"