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Why Narrow Target Marketing Means More Sales

Why Narrow Target Marketing Means More Sales

It seems counter-intuitive, but narrow target marketing means more sales.  Here’s a great post by Tim Donnelly explaining why.

How to Narrow Your Target Market

Companies that try to be all things to all customers are sure to fail. Here’s a business guide from Inc.com on how to focus on your target market.

By Tim Donnelly

 

Inc.com Contributor@TimDonnelly

 

 

30 COMMENTS

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Huge, profitable companies like Walmart and Amazon didn’t start as the all-encompassing retailers we know today. Each debuted with a very specific focus that helped them find and nurture a strong customer base. Walmart originally catered to shoppers in rural areas where there was a dearth of options for low-cost goods; Amazon famously limited itself to just books for years before expanding into selling everything from DVDs to motorcycle gear.

The process of finding a target market and narrowing your company’s focus to appeal to it directly often trips up new businesses, who find it difficult to turn down business opportunities when they arise. But trying to be all things to all people is a sure way to fail in the marketplace. Business experts offer up these tips to narrowing your target market:

The Dangers of Being Unfocused

Whatever market you’re in, you’ve likely got a lot of competition and static standing between you and the consumer. Narrowing your focus to one specific demographic or slice of the marketplace gives potential customers a reason to notice you in the rest of the fray.

“If you’re not differentiating yourself in the marketplace, what happens is the consumer looks at price as being the motivator,” says Susan Friedmann, author of the books Riches in Niches and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Target Marketing. “And they look at the cheapest.”

If you don’t know specifically which customers you are speaking to, you are actually speaking to no one, says Tammy Lenski, a business mediation expert (https://lenski.com/) who has advised clients about successful business through target marketing.

“The big danger is that without a target market, it’s like standing in a park shouting in the wind,” she says. “When you have a target market, its like standing in a park and talking to a specific group of people.”

That means you can’t be afraid to exclude certain types of consumer from your marketing or to target your advertising at small groups. Some customers will feel left out, but those are the sacrifices necessary for a successful business, says Greg Head, founder and CEO of New Avenue, a strategic marketing firm.

“Focus requires exclusion,” he says. “If you’re selling everything, you actually mean nothing in the marketplace. Exclusion is fundamental to target markets.”‘

Dig Deeper: Why a Clear Focus is Essential to Success

Become an Expert in one Area

One way to hone in on a specific sector is to become an established resource in one area. Starbucks, for example, is able to charge premium prices for its coffee even though it also sells pastries, tea, and accessories, because it has positioned the company as an authority on good coffee.

“If you’re an expert in your field, people will pay the price tag on whatever product and service you offer,” Friedmann says.

You can build up credibility by offering information for free through your company’s website or blog: things like tips, industry information, or niche data that will help consumers think of you as a reliable expert in that area, she says.

“Your credibility comes with giving away information,” she says. “If this is the value I’m getting for free, what will I get if I pay for it?”

Entrepreneurs who do this successfully often start by following their passion, Friedmann says. She recalled a massage therapist who loved cycling and found a successful practice traveling with bike tours.

“If you can marry your passion with your profession, that’s a really strong niche market,” she says.

Dig Deeper: Taking a Niche Brand Mainstream

Do the Market Research

Experts give several methods for whittling down the vast expanse of the market to find your ideal target.

John Jantsch, creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System and Duct Tape Marketing Consulting Network, which trains and licenses small business marketing consultants, recommends a simple formula to identify who makes an ideal client: he ranks customers by profitability.

“In that step alone, they start identifying work they have taken or would take that they shouldn’t be taking,” Jantsch says.

Then he looks for clients that are already referring more business your way.

“They’re referring business to you because they’re having a great experience,” he says. “They’re happy, they’re beyond satisfied and that’s why they’re referring business.”

Friedmann says recommends looking for growth markets to identify burgeoning new areas that may not be claimed by existing businesses.

Lenski says some clients find their niche first by focusing on the areas in which they already have a strong interest, or by looking at markets that already know about you and your services. Then, look for areas of the marketplace where a gaping need exists that you can fill with your company’s services.

Dig Deeper: How to Use Internet Market Research Tools

Tweak your Marketing

As simple as it sounds, the name of your company is crucial when narrowing your market.

“I believe your name should say what you do,” Friedmann says. “Using your own personal name, unless you’re like Madonna, isn’t going to cut it. It doesn’t mean anything to anybody.”

Words such as “branding coach” or “entertainment law” in your official business title help consumers quickly understand what you’re all about.

Friedmann even created a new word to describe her focus: “nichepreneur.”

You may have to change your branding strategy or marketing efforts to clarify your mission. Once you find your target, you’ll definitely want to alter your advertising efforts to go after the places and media you use to generate new business.

“It’s not just an advertisement that you do. It actually has to become part of everything you do,” Head says.

Your marketing needs to highlight the specialization, which improves credibility, Head says.

“You’ve got to be perceived as the best at something,” he says.

Then, once you’ve identified that base, use it to improve the business through things like social media and interactive marketing to find out more about what the customers are looking for, Lenski says.

“You’ve got to essentially engage that market. It’s a two-way conversation,” she says. “That’s really where having a target market pays off.”

Dig Deeper: 10 Marketing Musts

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If you’d like to see more from Tammy Lenski, who is quoted above,  to go to her website at https://lenski.com/.  She has some great blog entries worth reading.

Here’s Why Blogging is Important for Small Business

Here’s Why Blogging is Important for Small Business

As small business owners we hear a lot about things like blogging and social media.  Our first reaction usually is “I don’t have time for that.”  I encourage you to think again.  Here’s a great post explaining why blogging is very important for small business.

September 30, 2015 // 8:00 AM

Why Blog? The Benefits of Blogging for Business and Marketing

Written by Corey Wainwright | @Corey_bos

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I had a co-worker email me the other day asking for a blog post about the benefits of business blogging.

“It’s for a friend,” she said.

Sure it was.

I told her I’d shoot over one of our up-to-date blog posts about why businesses should blog and … I couldn’t find one. Whoops. Quite the meta mistake.

Download our free guide to business blogging here for even more reasons why you should blog, and how to get started.

So I’m doing it now. If you’re trying to explain one of the core tenets of inbound — business blogging — to your boss, a coworker, your mom at Thanksgiving, whomever, then send them this post. I hope it helps.

The Benefits of Business Blogs for Marketing

First, if you don’t know what a business blog is, this post, “What Is Business Blogging? [FAQs]” should get you up-to-date.

On the same page? Cool. Let’s move on to why you should use blogging as a marketing tactic.

1) It helps drive traffic to your website.

Raise your hand if you want more website visitors. Yeah, me too.

Now think about the ways people find your website:

  • They could type your name right in to their browser, but that’s an audience you already have. They know who you are, you’re on their radar, and that doesn’t help you get more traffic on top of what you’re already getting.
  • You could pay for traffic by buying an email list (don’t you dare!), blasting them, and hoping some people open and click through on the emails. But that’s expensive and, you know, illegal.
  • You could pay for traffic by placing tons of paid ads, which isn’t illegal, but still quite expensive. And the second you run out of money, your traffic stops coming, too.

So, how can you drive any traffic? In short: bloggingsocial media, and search engines. Here’s how it works.

Think about how many pages there are on your website. Probably not a ton, right? And think about how often you update those pages. Probably not that often, right? (How often can you really update your About Us page, you know?)

Well, blogging helps solve both of those problems.

Every time you write a blog post, it’s one more indexed page on your website, which means it’s one more opportunity for you to show up in search engines and drive traffic to your website in organic search. We’ll get into more of the benefits of blogging on your SEO a bit later, but it’s also one more cue to Google and other search engines that your website is active and they should be checking in frequently to see what new content to surface.

Blogging also helps you get discovered via social media. Every time you write a blog post, you’re creating content that people can share on social networks — Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest — which helps expose your business to a new audience that may not know you yet.

Blog content also helps keep your social media presence going — instead of asking your social media manager to come up with brand new original content for social media (or creating that content yourself), your blog can serve as that repository of content. You’re strengthening your social reach with blog content and driving new website visitors to your blog via your social channels. Quite a symbiotic relationship, if I do say so myself.

So, the first benefit of blogging? It helps drive new traffic to your website and works closely with search engines and social media to do that.

blogging-inbound

2) It helps convert that traffic into leads.

Now that you have traffic coming to your website through your blog, you have an opportunity to convert that traffic into leads.

Just like every blog post you write is another indexed page, each post is a new opportunity to generate new leads. The way this works is really simple: Just add a lead-generating call-to-action to every blog post.

Often, these calls-to-action lead to things like free ebooks, free whitepapers, free fact sheets, free webinars, free trials … basically, any content asset for which someone would be willing to exchange their information. To be super clear for anyone unfamiliar with how traffic-to-lead conversions work, it’s as simple as this:

  • Visitor comes to website
  • Visitor sees call-to-action for a free offer
  • Visitor clicks call-to-action and gets to a landing page, which contains a form for them to fill in with their information
  • Visitor fills out form, submits information, and receives the free offer

If you scroll down in this blog post, you’ll see a call-to-action button. In fact, 99.9% of the blog posts we publish have call-to-action buttons … and yours should, too. That is how you turn that traffic coming to your blog into leads for your sales team.

blogging-inbound-image

Note: Not every reader of your blog will become a lead. That’s okay. No one converts 100% of the people who read their blog into leads. Just get blogging, put calls-to-action on every blog post, set a visitor-to-lead conversion rate benchmark for yourselfand strive to improve that each month.

3) It helps establish authority.

The best business blogs answer common questions their leads and customers have. If you’re consistently creating content that’s helpful for your target customer, it’ll help establish you as an authority in their eyes. This is a particularly handy tool for Sales and Service professionals.

Can you imagine the impact of sending an educational blog post you wrote to clear things up for a confused customer? Or how many more deals a salesperson could close if their leads discovered blog content written by their salesperson?

“Establishing authority” is a fluffy metric — certainly not as concrete as traffic and leads, but it’s pretty powerful stuff. And if you need to tie the impact of blogging to a less fluffy metric, consider measuring it the same way you measure sales enablement. Because at the end of the day, that’s what many of your blog posts are. Think about the sales enablement opportunities blogging presents:

  • If prospects find answers to their common questions via blog posts written by people at your company, they’re much more likely to come into the sales process trusting what you have to say because you’ve helped them in the past — even before they were interested in purchasing anything from you.
  • Prospects that have been reading your blog posts will typically enter the sales process more educated on your place in the market, your industry, and what you have to offer. That makes for a far more productive sales conversation than one held between two relative strangers.
  • Salespeople who encounter specific questions that require in-depth explanation or a documented answer can pull from an archive of blog posts. Not only do these blog posts help move the sales process along more swiftly than if a sales rep had to create the assets from scratch, but the salesperson is further positioned as a helpful resource to their prospect.

4) It drives long-term results.

You know what would be cool? If any of the following things helped you drive site traffic and generate new leads:

  • Trip to Hawaii
  • Going to the gym
  • Sleeping

Good news, though! That’s what blogging does — largely through search engines. Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say you sit down for an hour and write and publish a blog post today. Let’s say that blog post gets you 100 views and 10 leads. You get another 50 views and 5 leads tomorrow as a few more people find it on social media and some of your subscribers get caught up on their email and RSS. But after a couple days, most of the fanfare from that post dies down and you’ve netted 150 views and 15 leads.

It’s not done.

That blog post is now ranking in search engines. That means for days, weeks, months, and years to come, you can continue to get traffic and leads from that blog post. So while it may feel like day one or bust, in reality, blogging acts more like this:

blogging_compounding_returns-1-1

So while you’re hitting your snooze alarm, surfing in Hawaii, and pumping iron, you’re also driving traffic and leads. The effort you put in yesterday can turn into hundreds of thousands of views and leads in the future.

In fact, about 70% of the traffic each month on this very blog comes from posts that weren’t published in the current month. They come from old posts. Same goes for the leads generated in a current month — about 90% of the leads we generate every month come from blog posts that were published in previous months. Sometimes years ago.

We call these types of blog posts “compounding” posts. Not every blog post will fit into this category, but the more evergreen blog posts you write, the more likely it is that you’ll land on one of those compounding blog posts. In our own research, we’ve found that about 1 in every 10 blog posts end up being compounding blog posts.

Screen_Shot_2015-09-22_at_11.57.42_AM

To me (and hopefully to you), this demonstrates the scalability of business blogging. While you might not see immediate results, over time, you’ll be able to count on a predictable amount of traffic and leads for your business without any additional resource investment — the work to generate that traffic and those leads is already done.

If you’d like to learn more about the long-term impact of blogging and how to reap even more benefits from the blog posts that are ranking in organic search for your business, check out this blog post, “The Blogging Tactic No One Is Talking About: Optimizing the Past”.

Secondary Benefits of Business Blogging

There are other reasons businesses might want to blog, but I think they’re smaller and stray from the core benefits of blogging.

For instance, I love to use our blog to test out big campaigns on the cheap — before we invest a lot of money and time into their creation. I also love to use our blog to help understand our persona better. And while this shouldn’t be their primary use, blogs also become great outlets through with marketers can communicate other PR-type important information — things like product releases or event information. It’s certainly easier to get attention for more company-focused initiatives if you’ve built up your own audience on your own property, as opposed to pitching your story to journalists and hoping one of them bites.

These are all great side effects or uses of a business blog, but they’re secondary benefits to me.

If you’re looking to start a business blog or get more investment for one you’ve already started, the reasons above are a great place to start arguing your case.

Are you already well underway when it comes to business blogging? Just starting out? Share your thoughts on business blogging below and what you’re looking to get out of it.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Want to Tell Your Story? Here’s 5 Great Tips

Want to Tell Your Story? Here’s 5 Great Tips

The first basic truth of marketing is people buy from people they know and trust.  People want to hear your story so they can know you better.  

Many of us find telling our story is hard.  It doesn’t have to be.  

Here is an excellent post  giving you 5 great tips on telling your story 

5 TIPS FOR SELLING MORE OF YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE USING STORIES

BY: DAVE DEE ON: JULY 8TH, 2014 1 COMMENT


“If you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it.”

So says Peter Guber.

Guber is Founder and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, a business dynamo that spans movies, TV, sports entertainment and digital media.

And I agree!

Guber’s hit films include Batman, Soul Surfer, and Rain Man. He also owns the NBA Golden State Warriors franchise and is co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also appears on TV as the weekly entertainment and media analyst for Fox Business News, to name but a few of his accomplishments.

How does one person accomplish so much? Peter Guber says he has long relied on purposeful storytelling to motivate, win over, shape, engage, and sell.

He also says that what started as a knack for telling stories in the entertainment industry spilled over and evolved into a set of principles to achieve other goals.

This isn’t the first you’ve heard of the importance of storytelling. Dan Kennedy has long championed the idea that “stories sell.” They can help you capture your customer’s attention and sell your existing products and services better. They can build your reputation. They can engage your customers and turn them into loyal, raving fans. And much more.

And one more way to look at stories—they can serve as your inspiration for a product you create to sell.

Let me show you what I mean.

Here at GKIC, when we hear the same questions over and over from people about a particular topic, we know there is interest in that topic.

For example one area we get a lot of questions about is how to write persuasive copy that sells.

Why do we get a lot of questions about that? Because we have a story to tell about it. (Namely that Dan Kennedy, myself and our team of GKIC copywriters have all created persuasive copy that has sold millions and millions and millions of dollars’ worth of products and services.) This makes our story more valuable.

Therefore, knowing we have a valuable story to tell becomes the inspiration to create an information product to sell.

Here are five tips for finding your story that sells:

1)      Assess. What are the stories you tell over and over again? Do people always ask you about how you get so many customers? Or how you got your start in the business? Or how you are able to raise ten kids and stay sane?

If you are asked the same questions over and over, then chances are people are curious about how you did something and this could be a good indication of “your story” that will sell.

2)      Ask questions and dig deep. Often times, you have a GREAT story, you just don’t know it. Because it’s your life, it may seem boring or irrelevant, but to others, it’s “the” thing that hooks them.

This is frequently revealed when you dig deep and look for a “story behind the story”—much like the greatest journalists of our time do. Journalists find stories by using this technique and accomplish it by asking a lot of questions and assembling facts. In doing this, they often uncover the most intriguing nuggets and reveal the most fascinating part of the story.

What are the details of your story? Are there details you don’t tell very often (because people don’t know to ask you about them,) but when you do, they are riveted? This is the story behind the story.  Tip: You know you are on to something when revealing some details spawn many more questions.

This can also be the most painful part of your life. A great place to look for examples of this are in weight loss stories or rags to riches stories—where the writer describes in great detail hitting rock bottom and the secret that brought them huge success.

3)      Ask what big problems you have solved. Do you have a great story about how you solved a big or common problem? If you have more than one, select the story that best solves the problem and/or choose the problem you can best solve in relation to your prospective competition.

For example, let’s say you can solve the problem of attracting new, high quality customers and you can solve the problem of closing the sale. You are really good at both, however your competition is only good at attracting new customers. In this case, you might want to focus on your story of how you can help people close the sale better.

4)      Make a list of what makes you feel happy, strong and energized. When you find what makes you feel the most energized, often therein lies your story. You’ll discover not only the thing you are best at, but in relaying your story, you will have more enthusiasm which often translates to making more sales.

5)      Ask your closest friends and most trusted business associates what they think your best at.  If you still can’t figure out what your story is and how to turn that into a product, ask your most trusted advisors and business associates for feedback. Ask them their opinion of what you have to offer that is unique and what they think you do best. Ask them for stories or examples where they witnessed you at your best.

So my final question is—What’s YOUR story? Like Peter Guber and Dan Kennedy –when you find that, you’ll most likely discover an information marketing product (or two or three…) that is worth creating.

NOTE: If you want to hear more about how Peter Guber’s set of principles that anyone can use to tell stories to accomplish their goals, then you won’t want to miss Info-SUMMIT.  Not only will you get the chance to meet Peter in person and get your picture taken with him, but you’ll also be there when he reveals his techniques for:

  • Capturing your customer’s attention first, fast and foremost
  • Building your tell around “what’s in it for them”
  • How to create purposeful stories that can serve as powerful calls to action for your business and products.

For more information or to reserve your seat, visitwww.gkic.com/infosummit. But hurry—your chance to save up to $1900 is running out and seats are limited.

P.S.– Get “The 10 Rules to Transforming Your Small Business into an Infinitely More Powerful Direct Response Marketing Business” for FREE. Click here to claim your customer-getting, sales-boosting tactics.

Why is Story Telling Different from Story Building?

Why is Story Telling Different from Story Building?

Here is the ugly truth.  Whether we like it or not, as small business owners we are in the marketing business.  People will not beat down your doors.  If you want sales, you have to find a way to motivate potential customers. 

One way to do this is to tell your story.  However, there is a difference between story telling and story building.  Attached is a great post from Duct Tape Marketing telling us how to build a great story by asking some great questions. 

Help me out here.  I am a small business owner trying to take my business to the next level just like you.   After you read the post, please pick one of the questions and post your answer in the reply section.  

By doing this, I can learn what interests you the most.  Then I can build informative posts on things that matter to you.  

Thank you in advance for your help. 

THE EXTRAORDINARY CRAFT OF STORY BUILDING

This post is part of a creative marketing series sponsored by HP

One of my favorite Mister Rogers quotes goes like this: “It’s hard not to like someone once you know their story.” I love this idea because I think it delivers a powerful business lesson.

storybuilder

Image Salim Virji via Flickr

People connect with stories that move them and most every business can and should tell a story that helps prospects and customers connect at a deeper level. I truly believe the Internet, while making it easy to find information, has left us craving real connections, with real people, and the companies they serve.

Your marketing story should be one of the primary messages communicated in your printed marketing materials and throughout your web presence. I had a plumbing client years ago that printed his marketing story on the back of his invoices because he wanted remind his clients of the role his entire family played in his business.

A carefully crafted marketing story is a tool that can serve any organization trying to break through the clutter and connect with new markets.

However, most of the advice written about the use of a personal marketing story revolves around creating and telling compelling stories and while I ,do believe that the best leaders are great storytellers, I believe the new reality of marketing asks us to become great storybuilders.

The difference may seem subtle, but it embraces that fact that we must involve our customers and influencers in the creation of our business and our story.

  • We must include our vision for the future, but that vision should be a shared vision.
  • We must know everything we can about the goals, hopes and dreams of a very narrowly defined ideal client. (Super big bonus if you’re the client ie: I am a small business owners trying to take my business to the next level, I target small business owners trying to take their business to the next level.)
  • We must frame our story with a message that addresses the desires, challenges and unmet needs of this market.
  • We must involve customers in the finishing of the story by making their real life experiences central to the character development.

If you want to take this next giant step in evolution of your marketing in a way that turns your customers and prospects into collaboration partners and storybuilders sit down with a handful of your ideal customers and ask them the following questions with an eye on developing an extraordinary marketing story.

  • What do you know about where this business is going that no one could know?
  • What is your industry’s greatest flaw?
  • If your business could choose a new identity, what would it be?
  • What is your favorite customer story?
  • What is your secret wish for your business?
  • What is the greatest challenge your business must overcome?
  • What is your greatest fear for your business?
  • What is your greatest achievement/disappointment?
  • What about your childhood shaped you for this moment?
  • What choices have you made that you regret?

It may take some guts to pose questions like this to your best customers, but do it and you’ll be on your way to builder a relationship that can’t be penetrated by a competitors low cost offers.

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5 Simple Questions That Drive Repeat Business

5 Simple Questions That Drive Repeat Business

I admit it.  I am becoming obsessed by the challenge of creating “High Touch” in a world dominated by “High Tech”.  

Here’s what we know.  People buy from people they know and trust.

You can use the internet to attract people.  Then it’s up to you to get to know them.

Here’s a short post with 5 great questions you must know the answers to if you are win loyal, repeat clients and customers.

Delivering Happiness Takes High Touch, Not High Tech

Happiness is more than just a state of mind and Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, is on a mission to prove it. I had the privilege of seeing Tony speak for The American Marketing Association and after two pages of notes I examined his philosophy and realized why the businesses he’s managed have been so abundantly successful.

Even if I wasn’t quite sure about this “happiness speak” (which I am, of course, being the happy, cheesy person that I am) Tony would have received my full attention if for no other reason than the fact that he sold a business to Microsoft at the age of 24 for $265 million.

In our high-tech world we are trained to shift further and further away from live, in person interaction but doing so hurts us in the end. We have email, text messaging, social media, videos, assistants, project managers and on and on, each removing us from the core customer experience. Tony spoke about their customer call center, and how there are no “time limits” for each order, and that the record for their longest customer service call was 7 hours!

How different would your business look if you were able to authentically touch and connect with more people? In the Zappos model the telephone is key. There are no scripts, no upselling, a 365 day return policy and they’ll even recommend their competitor when they can’t fill a need themselves! Wow!

Here are the 5 key questions that they use to evaluate the customer experience:

1) What do customer expect?

2) What do customer actually experience?

3) What emotions do customers feel

4) What stories do they tell their friends?

5) How can your culture create more stories and memories?

It took a year for Tony and his team to determine their core values.Amongst them are humility, embracing and driving change, creating fun, creativity, adventure, the pursuit of growth and learning, positivity and passion. Each of these things helps them to deliver the wow factor. A company’s brand and culture are two sides of the same coin. As you look at the list above do you feel motivated, frustrated or disappointed?
Why is Selling the Most Important Skill to Have?

Why is Selling the Most Important Skill to Have?

Today’s blog describes why learning the art of selling may be one of the most important skills you can learn.  Yes, yes, I know, like many small business owners, you say, “I just don’t have time for that.”  Or, you might say, “I don’t want to be a ‘sales person.'”

Guess what?  Selling is a critical skill every business owner needs.  

Long ago, and far away, I had an economics professor in college who had a simple premise.  “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” 

Read on to find out why this is so important. 

Why You Should Consider Taking That Sleazy Sales Job


By Tim Murphy • January 16, 2012

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Learning to sell is one of the best skills you can bring to your career — and life.

Recent college grads often think, “Meh/ugh (or some other whiny noise), I don’t want to do sales.”

Either they think a sales job is beneath them, they don’t want their pay to be tied to performance or they just “don’t like the idea of selling something.”

I’ve been there, too; I actually felt bad for my friends who were “reduced” to sales jobs right out of college. And I’ve seen friends adopt an air of apology when explaining that their job involved sales. Oh, the shame!

But that approach is plain old stupid. Being able to sell is everything.

Every idea you pitch to your boss,every business you want to start andevery job interview you have are all about selling. Sometimes it’s an idea, other times it’s a product or service, and it almost always involves selling yourself. The ability to sell is an absolutely critical skill, and taking a job that forces you to learn and master the art of sales early on in your career is a great move.

Get over yourself

If you are a recent college grad, chances are good that nothing is beneath you. Sorry, but that’s how it goes. People love to say they’re willing to “start at the bottom” and “work my way up the ladder,” but when they are presented with such an opportunity, they recoil in terror.

Taking a sales job is hardly starting at the bottom, but there’s definitely an air of superiority implicit in anyone who disregards sales as an unworthy profession.

Are you just afraid?

The reasons why we have negative perceptions of sales as a career vary, but part of it is the thought that salespeople are “sleazy.” That stereotype does a great disservice to young professionals everywhere. “Sales involves being sleazy,” so the flawed logic goes, “thus my dismissal of a sales position must be due to my integrity.”

The fact is that a career in sales can be quite challenging, and that’s intimidating. But associating a sales position with being “sleazy” allows people to give themselves a pass, rather than take on a difficult, sometimes uncomfortable job. In other words, a lot of people don’t want to do it because they’re scared.

To the bold goes the paycheck

While some of us are intimidated by the prospect of salary being tied to performance, others wouldn’t have it any other way. They see a set salary as a cap, a limit to their potential, while a sales commission-based salary is only limited by their abilities.

That’s why lots of people in sales make great money, eventually landing the set salary and the ability to make a bunch more via commissions. Adopt the right attitude and sales-based pay can be very attractive and lucrative.

Learn to pitch

The ability to sell is one of the most versatile skill sets a person can have. It doesn’t matter if you’re an engineer, an architect, a waitress or a business owner – if you can’t sell, you’re severely handicapped.

At some point, probably more often than you’d think, we all have to sell, and taking a job in sales forces you to learn the craft quickly. Making sales calls and presentations hones your critical thinking, on-the-fly thinking, public speaking and interpersonal skills like nothing else.

Plus, part of making a sale is negotiating – another tremendous skill set. By the time you need to negotiate a salary, ask for a raise, buy a house, a car, a business or sign a lease, the practice you’ve had at negotiating and working through alternative prices to close a deal will pay huge dividends.

Bottom line: taking a sales job is a great way to jumpstart your career, make good money, become a pitching and negotiating pro, and turn yourself into a well-rounded professional.

You might not want to be “in sales,” but the fact is,you don’t really have a choice. You’re going to have to pitch, sell and negotiate regularly throughout your life. Rather than brushing off sales as “not for you,” why not embrace it and get to work mastering a skill you’re going to need, regardless of profession?

Tim Murphy is founder of ApplyMate.com, a free application tracking tool.

Why Storytelling is Important for Your Business

Why Storytelling is Important for Your Business

One of my readers posted a comment asking for more posts on using story telling to promote our businesses.  

Using stories about your business, your products, or your service is a powerful way to get people to remember you.  And, when people remember you, they will buy from you. 

Here is a great post telling you more about it. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF STORYTELLING FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

For as long as there has been language, there have been stories. Indeed, since the dawn of civilization, stories have been essential to our communication, our understanding of the world, our relationships with one another and the very survival of our species. From early cave paintings and practical warning stories to tales of soaring imagination and comforting tradition, stories have defined humanity through time and continue to shape our world today.

So what makes a good story?

Think back to your favourite story from childhood. (You know, the one you sneaked under the bedclothes and read by torchlight, the one with the dog-eared corners, the one you or your mother has still got in the attic somewhere.) Chances are, the book you’re thinking of contained one or more of these elements:

  • Simplicity – It had a clear structure and few characters.
  • Memorability – Even now, you remember the main plot, character or even the words/rhyme/rhythm.
  • purpose – The story had a message or moral to ‘take home’.
  • Shareability – Whether your mum or dad read it to you on their lap or your friends couldn’t get enough of it, it was something you wanted to talk about.
  • Comfort – You read and re-read it, especially when you were tired, upset or ill, and it never failed to cheer you up.
  • Imagination and adventure – The story whisked you away to a wonderful world of make-believe and excitement, where anything could happen.
  • Character – You could identify completely with the main character or felt as though they were a real person.

For adults, stories are no different. As well as being a quick and effective means of communication, a good story is one that allows us to visit new worlds, imagine new solutions and share ideas. The process of reading a story is fun and relaxing and a good story itself is memorable, shareable and often inspiring. From literature, art and film to business, religion and politics, stories permeate all aspects of our lives and are present across all cultures, languages and societies.

Above all, stories make an emotional connection, which is unsurprising given that our individual and collective lives are, in themselves, stories. Able to make us angry or irritated, and provoke laughter or tears, the sheer power of the story to affect us at a deep, human level cannot be underestimated.

But what does this have to do with your business?

If you are running a business or promoting yourself as an ‘individual brand’, your story is a strong and effective means of marketing. Telling your story can:

  • Increase brand recognition
  • Encourage followers
  • Build a loyal community
  • Maintain existing clients/customers
  • Increase visitors to your website
  • Increase sales
  • Increase clicks/downloads/sign-ups
  • Establish you as an expert in your field

As I mentioned above, a good story is one that is both memorable and shareable. And in today’s fast-paced, socially connected world, that’s very important for businesses and for brands.

Although we are increasingly seeing ‘content creation’ and ‘content curation’ as central to marketing and publicity and the creation of job titles such as Director of Content or Content Marketing Manager show that businesses are taking content seriously, there’s often still something missing, and a lot of business blogs, ebooks, whitepapers and corporate documents are failing to hit their mark because of their lack of storytelling ability and emotional impact.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be running a series of blog posts that focus on how to harness the power of storytelling to build your brand and to communicate effectively with your target audience, whether you’re a small business owner, a self-publisher or a budding entrepreneur. So keep watching this space to find out how the art of story can make your small business more effective, more recognisable and ultimately, more profitable.

For more about what we do, visit our website atwww.callistogreen.com or follow us on Twitter,Facebook or Google+. You can email us too atenquiries@callistogreen.com.

Why Building Customer Relationships Should be #1 on Your List.

Why Building Customer Relationships Should be #1 on Your List.

As Small Business Owners, we all know the importance of customer service and customer relations.  Unfortunately in the “high tech” world in which we live, building customer relations is pushed aside.  Many business owners feel they “just don’t have time.”  

People buy from people they know and trust is one of the basic tenets of marketing.  The attached article explains why taking the time to build long term relationships with prospects should be # 1 on our to-do list each day. 

HIGH-TECH, HIGH-TOUCH: RELEVANCY AND RELATIONSHIPS FOR TODAY’S YOUNG BUSINESSES

Today’s marketing landscape is radically different than it was just one decade ago. It continues to evolve at an ever-increasing rate, keeping pace with the latest technological innovations.

mobile tech

Successful companies have adapted to the demands of this new environment, integrating competitive SEO and social media campaign initiatives into their marketing portfolios. Those who turn their backs on these changes put themselves at a steep disadvantage. However, those who are a bit too eager to go full-tech run the risk of falling even further.

The problem isn’t that businesses choose to embrace the high-tech transformation. After all, in order to remain relevant, a company needs to play ball on the same field as its competition. More often than not, that field is digital, at least to some degree.

Instead, the problem is going digital without a plan to preserve high-quality, high-touch relationships with clients.

A High-Touch Game Plan in a High-Tech World

Get Cultured

As in any relationship, it is important to develop an assured sense of self before committing to something serious and long-term. Companies must know who they are, what principles they represent, and exactly where and how their customers fit into their communities.

A business’ culture determines the way it is perceived by the public. This culture must be developed from within and include employees at every level of the organization. Having a firm hold on one’s guiding ideologies is critical to building and maintaining sincere, lasting partnerships with customers.

Why? Because a company that lacks a cohesive sense of itself generally cannot act with precision or uniformity. This same company will also have a difficult time managing its public image and brand.

When customers are not sure what to expect from a particular business-or when they are led to develop inaccurate expectations-they are taken aback by apparent violations of that business’ compliance with its own values. The same is true when a business tries to reinvent itself without a thorough, well-thought-out course of action in place before any transition is made.

Developing a robust culture takes time, but it is a worthwhile investment that bolsters businesses’ trustworthiness and reliability. Doing so will provide a strong foundation for positive and profitable customer relationships.

Focus on the Future

In the competitive global marketplace, it is easy to develop a form of nearsightedness. The allure of a quick sale often appears more attractive than the somewhat blurry prospect of a partnership that might lie farther down the road.

This nearsightedness can come at a high cost when one-time customers aren’t converted into repeat clientele. This is especially true now, when the prevalence of e-commerce puts even more competitors’ products and services in front of prospective clients. As a result of this, fostering brand loyalty is-as a rule-more difficult than it used to be.

Here’s the bottom line: It is important to invest time and resources in optimizing a customer’s experience before, during, and after a sale. Focusing on a sustainable future, rather than just a lucrative present, is the best predictor of a business’ ability to thrive over time.

Reach Out

Simply because a business only operates an online storefront, there is no rule that its presence must be limited to the digital world as well. There are many ways to remind customers that there are real live people running a website, and that these people are thinking about them.

Tried-and-true strategies from the age of traditional offline marketing still offer plenty of value. Customer appreciation events, notes written by hand (or at least signed by an actual person), distribution of promotional items or freebies, and participation in community events gives businesses a face-and sometimes even a heart.

Get A Little Personal

It’s possible to save money by replacing traditional customer service specialists with automation technology. Alternatively, these positions can be outsourced to third party firms-oftentimes firms that have no genuine stake in the companies that contract them.

The first scenario is problematic because customers want to feel like they’re interacting with real people when they make purchases. The second scenario is little better, as customers also want-and deserve-to feel valued. Part of feeling valued is sensing that a business is grateful enough for their patronage to ensure that they receive expert advice and service from representatives who embody the spirit of the company that employs them.

It is important to create opportunities for customers to interact with friendly, professional personnel. It’s not a bad idea, either, to encourage personnel to stray from highly scripted conversation into the territory of casual chat.

About the Author: Gary Austin is the CEO of ThePenGuy.com, a company focusing on high quality promotional pens and fantastic customer service.

Photo credit: Johan Larsson

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How to Sell Without Selling

How to Sell Without Selling

We all know the ability to sell our product or service is crucial to the success of our business.  When I talk to small business owners, the biggest complaint I hear is,”But, I’m not a sales man (or woman)!”  I have studied the art of selling for many years. (Yes, it is an art.)  Here’s the good news.  At its core, selling is really all about listening.  Here is an excellent article explaining just how that works.

Death of a Salesman: The Art of Selling Without Selling

 

 

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Death of a Salesman

As a small business owner, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “I’m not a salesman (or woman), how am I supposed to market myself or product?” The beauty of marketing is that you can sell without actually selling.

But how can this be?

I’m going to focus on social media marketing for the sheer fact that I’ve had many small business owners say to me, “I post my products on Facebook, but no one seems to care.” People don’t care because you haven’t given them a reason to care.

Let’s use a real life example. Let’s say it’s the first time I met you and all I did was talk about myself and what I wanted you to do for me. Would you continue to talk to me? I’m not a gambler, but I think it’s safe to bet that the answer would be no.

Give your audience a reason to like you

In social media marketing, or really any form of marketing, you rarely want to talk about yourself. This might seem counter intuitive but if you talk about things your audience cares about, educate them about the topics you are an expert in, and let them speak their minds, they will be much more willing to listen to you when you do talk about yourself.

Remember, you are an expert in whatever you do and your audience knows that. This gives you the opportunity to show off your expertise and build relationships with your customers. For example, if you are a hair salon owner, offer a daily tip about how to do your hair. This can be anything from “Tip: If you’re going to curl your hair, make sure you do not wash it for 12 hours before curling,” to a video tutorial about how to style your hair for a black tie event.

When you show off your expertise, your customers will appreciate you for educating them about the things they’re interested in. Also, the next time they are looking for a hair salon, they’ll think of you first because you gave them such great tips on how to do their hair at home.

Let your audience talk about themselves

People love to talk about themselves. This is no surprise to any of us, so tap into that urge. Ask your audience questions related to your brand or create a poll and let them participate. The best thing about doing this is that you’re not only increasing engagement but you’re learning who your audience is, what they’re interested in, and what they’re looking to learn from you.

Let’s go back to the hair salon example. Why not ask your audience, “What hair style have you tried at home but can’t seem to get right?” This question allows your audience to interact and participate with you, and (this is a big AND) it helps you understand what your customers are struggling with. You can then take this knowledge and create a workshop or tutorial to help them with that tricky hairstyle or simply make sure you’re offering that specific service.

Make your audience laugh

So many people are afraid to post things that are not directly related to their brand. This is a fear you need to overcome.

Again, we return to the hair salon. You can post a picture of a dog having a bad hair day and have a caption that says, “Looks like Fido should have come into the salon today.” You can also go a little further off topic but make sure to bring it back to your audience. TheConstant Contact Facebook Page has a ton of great examples of this…but here’s one of my favorites:

Constant contact funny Girl Cube

Use the 80/20 rule

This does not mean that you can’t promote yourself. By building relationships with your customers and ensuring 80% of your content is for them, you can then throw in 20% about yourself without the fear of scaring them away.

Now that you’ve engaged your customers with the valuable information they’re looking for, allowed them to talk about themselves, and entertained them, they’ll be willing to listen to your promotions without feeling like they’re just another person you’re selling to.

Your promotions don’t have to feel “salesy” either. There are ways to talk about your new product without saying, “We have a new brush…come buy it now!” Never say “buy it now.” This is a pitch your customers will run from. Instead, why not post a picture of that new brush with the brand name below and a caption that reads, “It’s waiting for you!”

No salesman allowed

Not a salesman? That’s perfect! People don’t want to be sold to. There are numerous ways to spin your content so you are selling them without making them feel like you’re selling them. This is the key way to build engagement and relationships.

Just remember, if you read your content and realize you’ve been talking about yourself more than 20% of the time, it’s time to change your strategy. Take a step back and interact with your customers. You can sell without selling!

What steps have you taken to sell without selling? Have you seen an increase in your customer engagement? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

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Here’s 4 Ways to Find What Your Customers Want.

Here’s 4 Ways to Find What Your Customers Want.

One the biggest challenges facing us as small business owners is finding out just what our customers and clients really want.  Here is an excellent article that outlines 4 ways to do just that. 

4 Strategies for Getting to Know Your Customers with Mobile

To increase your customer retention and loyalty, it is important to learn as much as you can about your customer base. By recognizing and understanding their needs, wants, and buying habits, you can anticipate and meet their expectations. There are many different ways to learn more about your customers, including a well-crafted text message effort.

Mobile can be used to gain insight about your customers in two different ways. It provides a forum for conversations with your audience to get to know them directly. It also provides an indirect means for understanding your customers through data. You can use both of these avenues to improve the customer experience and achieve your business goals.

Photo Campaigns

One strategy for getting to know your customers better is to encourage them to text you a photo after they’ve purchased a product from you. Consider offering them a special discount in exchange. Customers can send in photos demonstrating how they use your product or similar concepts. This can help you to understand the way that your customers engage with your products, as well as what other items they may want to purchase in the future.


Ask you customers to send in a picture of themselves using your product.

You can advertise a photo campaign in various venues, including in your post-purchase text to your customers. Also give your customers the option of sharing the photos on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts including a hashtag. This not only helps you to learn more about them, it also helps to spread the word about your company. According to CMO, where your customers choose to post also gives you insight into how they will likely engage with you in future marketing campaigns.

Contests and Voting

You can also use contests or polls to find out more about your customers and improve your products. For example, you may want to have your mobile subscribers vote on a new product you plan to bring to the market so that you customise it to their preferences.


Texting is the perfect medium for customer voting

You can increase the incentive for them to vote by entering them into a contest to win something. Text to vote campaigns are easy to develop. You simply create a set of keywords, and encourage your customers to text a certain keyword to vote. Then you tally the winner by seeing which keyword received the most texts.

Surveys

Distribute surveys to your mobile subscribers in order to get to know them better and improve the customer experience. You can send a variety of surveys through your online SMS system, including questionnaires about customer demographics, preferences, an experience with a product, customer service experience, and more. Surveys help you learn more about the customer and their experience with your business.

Analyze Customer Data

Getting to know your customers is not just about directly communicating with them through online SMS or other avenues. You also need to spend some time looking at data that will give you other insights into their preferences and habits. For example, you can look back at past campaigns to see which offers they’ve redeemed, and which have been ignored.

Tracking data across various marketing channels can help you form a more comprehensive picture of your customers. You should look closely at their spending patterns, income, hobbies, interests, location, gender, and other attributes to then define customer groups based on various demographics, according to Business 2 Community.

When you have a full picture of your customers, it is easier to develop targeted ads and offers for your audience. You can also create an experience that matches what your customer wants and expects, which can increase your customer retention and loyalty.

Connecting and getting to know your customers with mobile can benefit your business in many different ways. If you are interested in getting started with online SMS, try FireText for free.

FireText provide SMS Marketing for your business. 
Add SMS to your marketing mix today – find out more.


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