Customer Quote of the Week
"Giancarlo, you seriously want me to quit advertising?"
Advertising options are too often to humans what a laser pointer is to dogs (enjoy the video above and see if you don't agree!). If you are not systematically following up with and feeding your word-of-mouth network (past clients and your existing contact network), a key fundamental of business, you are leaving money on the table and wasting money on other advertising. Stop chasing shiny objects! In my book, advertising salespeople put used car sales people in a good light. The advertising options and big promises peddled by advertising salespeople are virtually endless (think laser pointer in the video).
I have yet to meet a business owner who did not agree that word-of-mouth advertising is the most valuable form of advertising. Why then do most struggle with actively fueling it?
In a nutshell, fueling word-of-mouth advertising simply is harder than throwing money at a smooth talking advertiser. Don't get me wrong, there are some great advertising options and sales people out there. However, like the little pug in the video, as small business owners, we have to be vigilant to not chase shiny objects at the expense of neglecting the fundamentals.
So, what is the consistency and quality of your prospect follow-up and how well do you stay in touch with your customer base and contact network? With the persistence of a bulldog, focus on making the execution of the fundamentals STUPID EASY and you will get ahead of the "pack".
Solution #1: Employ a traditional solution first. Avoid technology for a moment. Hold a single individual internal or external to your organization accountable for your desired standard for follow-up and on-going communication. Have a single point of accountability outside yourself.
Is the business heavily branded around you as a person? Yes, I know, no one can represent you like you. Warning: This is another one of those albeit true rationales, turned excuse, turned slogan, that precedes chasing shiny objects again and returning to the treadmill of bad habits.
Smart help outside ourselves can come up with creative ways to clone our personal brand. KEY POINT: Think about it. A small business owner's best use of their expertise is closing new business and supervising the quality of their business delivery. Working on closing new business and taking care of current customers is usually the number one reason why the longer term fundamentals, like "staying in touch" and non-closing "follow-up", are neglected. If you agree, it then makes sense for owners to outsource all functions that consume their time that is not closing or ensuring excellent business delivery. Closing business and business delivery is where the money is made! WARNING: Shameless promotion plug - G-Force is a great outsource outlet for this type of stuff.
Solution #2: Have the individual accountable above - explore the latest in today's business and marketing automation technology. Marketing automation technology can make customer follow-up very personalized and automated (easy). It is so OMG (Oh My Goodness) cool and helpful! KEY POINT: Like all modern software and technology be careful. This is another shiny object zone.
There are some big boys like Eloqua, Marketo, and Hubspot doing really cool stuff but are overkill and will bury most smaller organizations. Watch out for the smaller wannabe's like PixelGigs and Greenrope or orgs stuck in the past trying to remake themselves like Sage ACT. Who do I recommend? I am in absolute love with Infusionsoft. I am a referral partner for them but I am first a customer. I will give a referral commission back in a heartbeat if in 3 months my referral is also not in complete love with this company. Their software is extremely easy to use and can help you automate your business far beyond just sales and marketing follow-up. Maybe instead of hiring an additional admin or marketing assistant, you might consider getting a license of Infusionsoft for yourself or your existing staff. Using Infusionsoft is like building a team of minions to do your grunt work. At G-Force we are glad to let you take a try-it-before-you buy-it test-drive with our license.
Solution #3: Is a marketing automation tool too much for you right now? What if you made a simple note in your Franklin Covey calendar to snail mail all your past customers a "touching base" card quarterly. Does this suggestion scare you based on passed mail merge experiences (as it did me)? Please check out this company called SendOutCards who I was recently introduced to. They are really cool and make it STUPID SIMPLE to do a personalized direct mail campaign. In a few clicks you or someone mildly computer friendly uploads your latest customer list into their software. You then design your card with their easy to use drag and drop features putting in your custom text, pictures, photos, video links, etc. I pulled off a first time trial in under 15 minutes of work. They do the printing, labeling, and mailing for a physical card price ranging from $0.62 (post card+postage on preferred acct.)-$1.93 (card with pictures+postage on customer acct.). My friend Marcia Solberg at +1 (971) 235-2257 and email@example.com is my rep and pro at getting you started. She will help you with a free trial if you ask.
I would love to hear your solutions for the fundamental challenges raised herein. Please comment or send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a great example of a problem, turned excuse, turned into slogan. Know of any of these in your organization? This is a CRITICAL problem. In effect, this client is ignoring their least expensive source to acquire their next sale. Our contact lists, ideally full of past happy customers or constituents, are our word-of-mouth power and least expensive sales people. This client is spending big money on advertising and
Giancarlo Newsome is the founder of G-Force Accelerated Marketing.