Posts Tagged ‘businesses’
In the A ? Z of Marketing, U is for … Unique
What makes you different? What makes you stand out from all the other people who do exactly what you do?
I meet a lot of business owners who proudly tell me that they’re different to their competitors. “How are you different?” I ask them. The answers I hear usually include phrases like ‘providing value’, ‘building relationships’, ‘working in partnership with our clients’. And I just yawn. Why? Because I’ve heard it all before!
When you provide a service, it can be hard to distinguish your business from the others around you. Unless you compete on price and can say that you charge less than anyone else, you need to look for a better way to show potential clients why they should work with you instead of anyone else.
Here’s something for you to think about.
Who are you?
If you run your own business, or you’re the public face of the business where you work, you’ll be meeting prospects and getting to know them. Have you noticed that you don’t like everyone you meet, or that you don’t ‘click’ with every single person you speak to? This is because we like people who are like us. We gravitate towards others who share our values and beliefs.
Like it or not, when services are involved, people really do buy from people. This means that some of your customers will buy from you, simply because of you. There will be other companies that can do exactly what you do, and possibly for less money, but if someone who is in the market for your service meets and likes you, you’re in with a great chance.
How do you promote ‘you’?
By being yourself! Be authentic and true to your values. Let people get to know the real you and the ones who you like will want to work with you.
What about the people with whom you don’t click? Don’t waste time chasing after them ? after all, why would you want to work with someone you don’t like?!
How do you do what you do?
Once you’ve worked out how to promote ‘you’, think about how you do what you do. The way in which you deliver your service will be different to the ways that your competitors do it. For example, one of the things that makes Appletree different from the millions of other marketing companies out there, is that we get stuff done. We don’t leave it to our clients to do all their marketing. We often receive calls from clients asking us to do something, to which we can reply “we’ve already done that for you.” We like to be a step ahead of our clients, so they don’t have to think about their marketing and can instead focus on doing what they do.
What makes your business different and how do you tell people about it?
Content is Queen
When I first set up Appletree back in 2000, I worked as a freelance copywriter. I wrote content for all sorts of marketing material, for all sorts of small businesses. As time has passed, we’ve done a lot of other things to help businesses with their marketing.
But one thing has stayed constant – the provision of content for our clients. Why? Because content is the best way for our clients to promote themselves. It’s also been a great way for us to promote Appletree, so this blog looks at why Content is Queen!
When you provide a service to your clients, rather than selling products, what you’re actually selling is your expertise and your knowledge. You are selling all the stuff in your head that you’ve collected over the years of doing what you do. To get that information and knowledge out of your head, you need to create content. It will form the basis of all the marketing you do – regardless of the different marketing tools you use.
Show you know your stuff
With services, you need to encourage a prospect to worth with you, before they’ve seen the results you could achieve for them. To help you do this, you need to demonstrate to potential clients that you know your stuff. There’s no better way to do this than be creating content. Share your knowledge in a free email newsletter; put your opinions into a regular blog; give away snippets of advice in your tweets. This will all show prospects that you really know what you’re talking about.
Send traffic to your website
When you put new content onto your website, you give the search engines a reason to go back and look at your site again. You also give real people a reason to visit it again. You could update your website just by changing a few words, but why not share a blog post, add an article or put up a useful fact sheet? That way, when you tweet about the latest addition to your site, you have something that is really worth looking at. And keeping visitors going to your website has got to be a good thing!
Integrate your marketing
Ad hoc marketing just doesn’t work. You need an integrated, consistent approach and content is a great way to do this. If you write an email newsletter every month, turn the copy into one or two blog posts and dozens of tweets. Create a video about the same topic. Give a talk at a networking meeting to discuss the same issue. Add a fact sheet to your website too. This way, you’ll give out a consistent message to your prospects without confusing them with too many different messages.
So the next time you’re wondering what would be the best way to promote your business, take a look at the content you’re sending out and work on improving it in terms of quality and consistency.
In the A – Z of Marketing, R is for – Referrals
Referrals are a brilliant way to find new clients and grow your business. They are a very low cost way of marketing and usually have a high conversion rate. Some people advocate a ‘referral system’ that you plan out and follow. I’m sure that some of these systems work, but here’s my take on a more relaxed and equally effective take on getting referrals.
What’s the best way to get referrals? Give them!
If you turn up at networking meetings expecting to receive a steady flow of referrals, you’ll be disappointed. For someone to refer you to someone they know, first they have to trust you. After all, why would they recommend someone who might not do a good job? That would look bad on them. So to start getting referrals, start giving them. Listen to what help people are asking for and think about who you can put them in touch with. Who do you know who is looking for what they offer? Think about who you can introduce them to. This will help you build up a relationship with the people you meet, showing them that you’re trustworthy enough to be recommended.
When is the best time to ask for a referral? When someone says “Thank you?”
You’ve just had a great meeting with one of your clients, when you helped them with all sorts of issues. At the end of the meeting they say “Thank you so much for your help; I really appreciate it.” You could just gracefully reply “You’re very welcome.” Or you could add on – ” and who else do you know who might need the same sort of help?”
When someone has thanked you for your help, they are seeing you in the best light. This is when they will be the most open to thinking of other people to whom they could recommend you. It also works with prospects. I often spend time on the phone or at networking meetings providing free advice to people who aren’t my clients. When they say “Thank you” I ask who else they know who I can help. And it works!
What should you do with every referral? Say thank you properly!
A few months ago, Lucy contacted me, asking for some marketing help. She told me that Pete had recommended me to her. Pete is someone I’ve met at a few networking events, but we’ve not done any work together. I arranged to meet with Lucy and to thank Pete properly, I sent him a thank you card. I put a personal note in the card and posted it to him.
A few days later Pete phoned me to say thank you for the thank you card! He’d never received one before and was really touched by it. About a month later Pete called me and asked for my help with his marketing! We haven’t done the deal yet, but I know that Pete will continue to recommend me to people who he meets.
So, to generate a bigger flow of referrals into your business, give more, ask at the right time and then say thank you. Of course, keeping in touch with people helps keep you in their minds, which also helps. Combine all these tips and you’ll be able to grow your business through referrals.
How much of your new business comes through referrals? What do you do to increase that number?
In the A – Z of Marketing Q is for … Questions
In the olden days, to promote your business and sell your services to a potential customer, you would turn up at their office and make a presentation to them. You would tell them all about your business and what you do. You might take along a great PowerPoint slide show, full of testimonials, all the awards you’ve won and examples of what you’ve done for other clients. You’d round off the presentation by asking if your prospect had any questions and if they wanted to work with you.
What do you mean, you still try to sell your services that way? How is that working for you?
I once sat through such a presentation from a potential supplier, after which she asked “So, does that look interesting to you?” She was rather stumped by my reply of “No”. Why? Because what she had presented to me was not relevant to my business; she hadn’t asked me a single question about the company and the issue we were looking to solve.
The next time you visit a potential client, think about asking some of these questions, to help you to find out what they really want from you:
Situation questions: Where is your business now? What do you do/make/sell? How long have you been in business? What are your goals for your business? These questions allow you find out where your prospect is now and where they’re going. I also ask them what marketing they currently do for their business and what?s worked in the past.
Problem questions: What’s the problem we’re here to talk about? What’s getting in the way or keeping you awake at night? You’re there to solve a problem, so this is your chance to find out what it really is.
Implication questions: What will happen if you don’t do anything about this current problem? This question will help your prospect to focus on the problem and see why it’s so important that it’s solved.
Urgency questions: How soon do you need to do something about this issue? If the answer is ‘Right away’ then you know you need to provide the solution now. If the answer is ‘In six months’ then you don’t need to keep pushing for the sale right now. Things might have changed in six months.
Importance questions: How important is it to you that we solve this issue? Having answered all your questions, if your potential client then tells you that actually there are other more pressing issues to deal with, you can focus on them, or step away. If solving the problem is urgent and important, then you need to present your solution and ask for the business.
We all love talking about ourselves and our businesses, so use questions to build up rapport with your prospects and find out what they’re really looking for. That way you can provide them with a solution that actually meets their needs.
What questions do you ask your prospects, to turn them into clients?
What are Your Business’s Core Values?
What makes your business tick? What do you stand for? When you know the answers to these questions, you can use them to promote your business and really stand out from the crowd. When you can show that you stick to your values, your actions will be more powerful than any marketing you can pay for.
Here are our values and how we use them to promote Appletree:
1. We get stuff done. Our clients trust us to set up and look after their marketing for them. Getting stuff done means that we don’t tell clients what marketing to do and then expect them to do it on their own. We do things for our clients even before they have to ask us to do them!
2. We stick to what we’re good at. Writing marketing copy is what we’re really good at, so that’s what we do. When clients need content for their website, material for their newsletters and blogs, or engaging copy for their tweets and social media updates, we can create it. Because we stick to what we know best, we can make sure that we provide our clients with top quality marketing solutions.
3. We give free advice freely. Our business has been built on helping anyone who asks about marketing. We treat everyone as if they’re a paying client, so if people need advice, we look forward to them getting in touch and we’ll do whatever we can to help.
4. We’re in it for the long haul. Appletree has been around since 2000. Since then, we’ve always done marketing. The business has changed as new marketing tools have been created – social media didn’t exist when we started out – but we’ve been consistent in the marketing support that we’ve provided our clients. And we’re going to carry on doing that!
So those are our core values – they are what drives our business and what keeps us in business. What are yours? What’s important to you? What do you stand for? Tell us what makes your business tick!