Archive for December, 2013

Help Your Business Stand Out – Learn From Crickets

Ever heard of the Cricket Theory? I hadn’t until a couple years ago when I had lunch with Pam Nolen President of Nolen & Associates. Pam and her team were at a weekend retreat outside Atlanta during a hot sultry Georgia weekend. In the darkest moments of the evening the crickets were so loud they kept a member of her team awake. All he could talk about the following morning was how loud the crickets were. The theory says, “the more noise you make when times are dark, the better remembered you will be when it is light again.”

The racket made by the crickets was all the more noticeable because there were no competing noises. The lesson here is that when your competitors cut-back on their marketing investment due to a slowing economy, that’s a great opportunity for you to increase your chirping (advertising). The economic darkness will give way to light, and you’ll be the company remembered, not those whose marketing was absent.

I have spoken with many business owners who cut their marketing budget when the economy began slowing down. People were still buying, though spending less, but not from those companies who cut back on their marketing. Jeremy Gutsche in his book “Exploiting Chaos” provides a wonderful example of the power of the Cricket Theory. Prior to the Great Depression Post Cereal’s Grape-Nuts was the dominate cereal in the United States. As the Depression deepened, Post began cutting back on its marketing budget just at the time that Kellogg Company began doubling their budget. Kellogg successfully introduced the slogan “Snap Crackle and Pop” and “you’ll feel better” and sales began to grow, at the expense of Grape-Nuts. Gutsche concludes that “the upbeat impact of crisis is that competitors become mediocre and the ambitious find ways to grow.”

If you have curtailed your marketing waiting for the economy to return to strong growth, you risk becoming insignificant to your competitors, who like crickets, have been making noise even during the toughest of times. You don’t need to become overly aggressive in promoting your products/services, but you do need to begin opening up the budget and spending dollars in well-thought out marketing campaigns. It’s essential that you have absolute clarity around your target markets, their frustrations with problems that you help them overcome, what your competitors are doing, and a compelling message that causes your prospective customer to take action.

Don’t wait. Be proactive and get noticed like those chirping crickets.

Jeff Lovejoy

jefflovejoy@actioncoach.com

770.988.1844

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December 30, 2013 at 9:09 pm Leave a comment

People Like to Buy, but Not to Be Sold

I was at a networking event the other day and met someone who immediately launched into a product spiel. How many people do you suppose go to events looking to buy? None would be my answer. He is not alone in thinking that selling is about pushing.

Ever tried selling something to someone who didn’t want to buy? Even the best sales people are challenged in this scenario. Compare that situation to the ease of selling when the buyer wants to buy….much easier. People don’t like to be sold to, but they do enjoy buying.

This simple truth confronts many traditional sales techniques that rely on gimmicks and closing sequences to “trick” the buyer into buying something they really don’t want. Practitioners of these product-push techniques still abound in abundance. They’re the ones who think that you will buy once you hear about their product. They are selling, but I’m not buying. Their motives are solely focused on making a sale and not on adding value to the prospective buyer (require seller understand buyer’s needs).

Replace the product push technique with one based on problem solving…one that seeks to understand how you can add value to help your prospective buyer solve a problem. Though simple sounding, this approach requires a completely different approach to sales – asking questions and listening vs. telling. You must ask quality questions focused on understanding the challenges faced by the other person and the impact those challenges have on her business.

Your prospective customer will engage with you if you are genuinely interested in assessing how you can help the other person. Trying to pass-off sincerity when you don’t really care quickly becomes apparent to the prospective buyer, and they will stop listening and won’t buy.

So if asking questions is key, what types of questions are best to ask? Eighty percent of the buying motive is based on emotion with the remaining 20% being on logic. I recently bought a suit not primarily because of the material or the color but because it felt good when I tried it on.

It has been estimated that 35% of Americans are primarily left-brainers – they are logic oriented.  But as we’ve said most of the buying motive is built on emotions. So for many of us selling to people’s emotions is a challenge; it requires that we expand our comfort zone. For example, I used to enjoy digging into the details of a prospective client’s account receivables rather than querying on the impact the raising receivables was having on the business and the employees.

Ask questions such as:

  • “How is that impacting the performance of your business?”
  • “How does that impact you personally?”
  • “How do you feel about that?”

These are great questions to get at your prospective customer’s emotions.

SO, stop pushing product and recognize that to sell becomes so much easier when you understand the challenges faced by your prospective customer. Get to know them and their issues.

Jeff Lovejoy

jefflovejoy@actioncoach.com

770.988.1844

December 24, 2013 at 12:05 pm 2 comments

Excite Your Customers by Creating WOW

Many business owners consider marketing to be those activities associated with promoting their business to prospective customers. To them growth is fueled by continually enticing new buyers to purchase product or services. They believe that once an individual or business buys they become customers and thus the role of marketing has been met. Thus upwards of 90 – 95% of marketing budgets are spent on finding new customers.

Let’s explore a different approach. Yes, new customer acquisition is critical to growing a business, but which approach is more likely to generate interest from a prospective client:

  1. Seeing one of your advertisements in a local magazine
  2. Receiving a postcard advertising your business in the mail
  3. Getting a call from a telemarketer
  4. Hearing from a friend how fabulous you and your business are

I hope you selected option #4. Word of mouth referrals from family and trusted acquaintances is far more likely to excite prospective customers to check you out. Typically people don’t pass along referrals unless the service they receive is exceptional. Therein lies the problem with those owners who focus the vast majority of their marketing dollars and attention on finding new clients…they don’t invest money in continually exciting existing customers. They spend little time and money focused on creating exceptional service and those WOW moments that people talk about.

What would be the impact if owners re-allocated their marketing budget from 90 – 95% focused on finding new customers, to 65% on finding new, and 35% on building exceptional programs that create excitement amongst customers? Do Nordstrom’s, Ritz Carlton, Zappos come to mind? Create excitement amongst your customers and they will actively promote your business to their friends and acquaintances, and become customers themselves for life.

Consider the story of WestJet Airlines. Founded in 1996, this Canadian airline adopted the mantra that “just because you pay less for your flight doesn’t mean you should get less” (website). The company’s dramatic growth (now 9,700 employees and 88 destinations) is attributable to their approach of caring for the lives of their customers. Talk about delivering a huge WOW factor, check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIEIvi2MuEk on You Tube.

Do you think these disbelieving customers will fly any other airline to a WestJet destination? How many people do you think these excited customers told about their experience?  Was WestJet’s investment in these gifts worthwhile? Heck yes. I’m guessing their return will be many hundreds times more in new profits from this single event.

Think about your business. What can you do to create excitement and WOW amongst your customers? Don’t hesitate to shift marketing dollars away from traditional marketing to create WOW. If you are interested in brainstorming ideas on adding WOW to your customers, give me a call.

Wishing you all the best.

Jeff Lovejoy

Certified Business Coach

770.988.1844

jefflovejoy@actioncoach.com

December 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm 2 comments