Feb 12 2014

Why You Don’t Need A Website To Grow Your Business

email marketingIf you know nothing about building a website for your business, be prepared to spend up to several thousand dollars to have it professionally designed for you.  Then, once in place, your business will explode with new customers… NOT.  Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.  Yet many business owners think a website is the magic bullet that will bring in tons of new business.

If no one knows the website exists, it’s a waste of time.  It will cost you another several thousand dollars for a professional to drive visitors to your site.  There’s nothing wrong with doing it that way, but there are easier, more cost effective ways to attract new customers without a website, especially if your business is new.  One solution is email marketing.

I know a very successful magician who keeps in regular contact with his fans via email.  He connects with over 3,500 fans once or twice a week.  What’s really interesting is he does not have a website.  He does not use Twitter.  He uses Facebook, but rarely talks about his business.  Yet, somehow, he has 3,500+ people on his email list.  That may not seem like a lot, but for his entertainment business, that’s huge.  About 90% of his gigs comes from people on that list.  You’ve heard it before, the money is in the list!

His secret:

Anyone who knows you exist should be invited to hang out with you and your friends.

This is quite different from marketers who spend most of their time trying to let people know they exist.  They spend too much time trying to get new customers and end up neglecting the customers they already have.

Your existing relationships should always be your top priority.  If you’re new in business you may protest “But no one knows I have a business!”   WRONG!  That’s just an excuse.  Someone, even if it’s one person, knows what you have to offer.  That’s all it takes to get the ball rolling.

Here are some examples from different types of business.  See if you can translate the ideas to your specific business.

  • A small cafe invites everyone who comes in to sign up for “customer only” specials.  The waitress enters the customer’s email into the email list program for them.  When the customer gets home, they see a welcome email with coupons.
  • A chiropractor asks every client if they would like to receive a free booklet of back strengthening exercises to reduce pain.  The client gives them an email address to receive the booklet.
  • A hair salon offers each customer a free haircut with their upcoming “Bring a friend” promotion.  They send an email with details.  The customer is surprised to find several additional coupons for free services just for signing up.
  • An  electronic game store invites everyone who walks in the door a chance to win a  $50 gift certificate each month.  Winners are notified by email.  Just for signing up, they receive a 50% off coupon on their next single item purchase.
  • A magician invites everyone to meet him after the show to ask questions and find out how they can learn magic.  They sign up to receive a free “trick of the month” by email.  They receive a buy one, get one free coupon for upcoming shows just for signing up.
  • An online marketer hears one of his friends talk about how he hates his job and wants to find a way to escape the rat race.  He has his friend sign up to receive a “how to make money online” mini course via email.

In each example, the business owner is now in a position to keep in regular contact with their customers.  The key now is to provide valuable content on a regular basis.  This does NOT mean you bombard them with a sales pitch in each email!  In future articles, we’ll discuss what to put in the emails to ensure you’re providing value.

Are you using email to build your business?  What ongoing value are you providing your customers?  If you have a unique way to keep in touch with your customers, please let us know.

Jan 30 2014

Close Mouth, Open Ears – Someone’s Talking

You: “I would like a cheeseburger, small fries, and a small iced tea… that’s all.” 

Drive-Up Window: “Would you like cheese on your burger?”

You: “Yes, a CHEESE-burger, small fries, and a small iced tea… that’s all.”

Window: “Small, medium, or large?”

You: “One CHEESE-burger, SMALL fries, and a SMALL iced tea… that’s all.”

Window: “So that’s a cheeseburger with cheese, small fries, and small iced tea. Will that be all?”

You: “Never mind, I’m not hungry.”

Is it just me, or did that employee not hear a word I was saying?  Sheesh!  How hard can it be?  Instead of really listening, they were just hearing a voice on the other side of the intercom.  What’s really happening here?  Please tell me you don’t do this to your customers!

Effective communication happens between two people when the listener understands the speaker’s message in the same way the speaker intended it.

Listening is not waiting until someone is finished talking before you say something. If you’re the one doing the talking, people will be more willing to listen to you if you take the time to really hear them.

Here are some tips to make sure you understand what your customers are trying to tell you:

  1. Close mouth, open ears!
  2. There is a difference between just hearing the words and actually listening for the message.
  3. Hearing is a physical ability, listening is a skill.
  4. Do not evaluate or make judgements about the person speaking.
  5. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand.
  6. Do not be preoccupied.
  7. Listen with respect and validation.
  8. Don’t mentally argue.
  9. Adjust to the situation.
  10. Avoid thinking about your own personal beliefs about what is being said.
  11. Listen with a willingness to be persuaded.
  12. Stay present.
  13. Make eye contact.
  14. Repeat or restate for verification.
  15. Notice nonverbal cues, body language.
  16. Avoid interrupting.
  17. Avoid jumping to conclusions.
  18. Know when to respond.
  19. Never assume what the speaker assumes or is thinking.
  20. Let the speaker finish their sentences. Don’t do it for them.
  21. Don’t look for flaws or weak spots you can attack.
  22. Don’t pretend, actually listen.
  23. Show genuine interest.
  24. Look for intent and feelings behind the words.
  25. Use “listening” body language. Face and lean toward speaker.
  26. Do not try to form a response while listening.
  27. Prevent quick responses.
  28. Acknowledge the speaker’s feelings.
  29. Give feedback- smile, nod, frown, raise eyebrows, shrug, etc.
  30. Offer advice only if asked.
  31. Do not jump to conclusions. Hear everything.

Communication is a two-way street.  Effective listening is just one side.  Tomorrow we’ll talk about how to make your message easy to communicate so the listener understands you.

Do you have “cheeseburger” story to share?  I would love to hear it.  Let me know in the comments below!

Apr 06 2010

Selling Is A Waste Of Time

Do you like being sold? I bet you don’t.

Do you like having someone tell you what you need? Probably not.

How do you feel when a salesperson tries to tell you what’s best for you? Most likely you will feel insulted.

Then why do so many business owners do this to their customers? Why do we do the very things that make us mad? Do you use the excuse “because it’s always been done that way”?

I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to selling, when instead, I should be finding out what people want and trying to get it for them.

Selling Is A Waste Of Time!

Fine. So what is the alternative? After all, you’ve always been told nothing happens in business until something is sold.

Here’s a formula I learned from my mentor when I was building my entertainment business. There was a joke around magicians that he was “the busiest magician that no one ever heard of”. He used these steps to quietly build his empire. It worked for me. I still use the principles today in an entirely different industry.

  1. Find out “where” your prospect is today.
  2. Determine where they would rather be.
  3. Ask them what will happen if they don’t don’t change their situation.
  4. Get a commitment that they are ready for a change.
  5. Offer a solution to help make the change happen.

Now you’re not “selling”. This approach is more like an interview process. The key is that when they explain to you what their problem is and what the consequences are, they not only tell you, but they also convince themselves. Then you determine if you can help them. When you talk to a friend about a problem they’re having you ask a lot of questions, don’t you?

A veteran salesperson will say I’m wrong and likely accuse me of oversimplifying the sales process. They will tell me “You don’t understand my industry… it’s different”.  Really? I’m ready to hear why.

It starts with a simple change in the way you look at the sales process. If you think sales is about twisting arms, poking eyes, and badgering people into buying your ideas, you may get a sale now and then. I doubt it will last. If, on the other hand you approach sales as an interview process to determine and then solve a problem, your prospect will believe you and be happy to “buy” your solution.

Do you sell your customers, or do they buy from you? As always, your comments are welcome.

Apr 02 2010

Close The Sale With A Standing Ovation


standing ovation
n. an enthusiastic outburst of applause during which those in the crowd or audience rise to their feet.

A standing ovation for an entertainer is the ultimate acknowledgment from his audience. Every performer craves it whether or not they like to admit it. The big “O” is the grand prize in show business.

The final moments of a performance are critical for success. It’s the feeling you leave with your audience that will make or break a performer. It’s good business! When someone who didn’t see the show asks “How was it?” or “Was he any good?”, without hearing anything else about the show, if he finds out there was a standing ovation, nothing more need be said.

It’s no different with traditional business. When you complete a sale the last moments are what your customer will remember. The last thing that happens in the sales process, the feeling the customer is left with will be remembered above all else. It makes sense to build up to the applause, to keep them coming back.

I’m fascinated by watching magicians and how they boost their chances of getting people to their feet with applause. There are tricks of the trade to close a show. It should go without saying that a performer either deserves an ovation or he doesn’t. If the show is terrible, clever tactics to get applause mean nothing. As a business owner you deserve praise from your customers only if you provide a service that delivers on your promises.

A magician structures his act to ensure as exciting a climax as possible. Only then will applause-getting tactics be of use. Your business must operate in a way that gives your customers as many benefits as possible to create a feeling of trust at the time of the sale.

Let’s assume you have a good product that solves a needed problem. You also have a support system in place to take care of your customer after a sale. Now we can borrow some tricks from the magic world. Ken Weber in his book Maximum Entertainment talks about ways to get applause.

Don’t Leave The Stage Immediately

A good performer takes a bow and stays for as long as the applause is peaking. Only when he hears the slightest lessening of applause will he leave the stage.

After completing a sale, your customer wants to know they made the right decision. They are more concerned about YOU. Did you really solve their problem? Are you going to be available if something goes wrong? Be sure to stay long enough to answer any follow-up questions.

After A Bow, Extend Your Arms To The Audience

This technique borders on being insincere if done poorly. After bowing, the performer extends his arms to the side, palms up. It’s the motion you would make if you were actually asking your audience to stand… but instead of the full motion, the performer just starts it slightly. His hands will only move about an inch or two without being obvious.

In your business, see if you can get your customer to tell you why they bought your product without coming right out and asking. An easy way to do this is ask which feature they’ll be using first. When they answer they will repeat the benefits and what is meaningful to them. If you did your job correctly by selling benefits, it will be easy to confirm for themself why they made a purchase.

Acknowledge The People Who Stand

A performer give immediate attention to the first person or two who stands with applause, extending his arms directly to them and says “Thank You”.  It’s contagious. Other people will want to join in.

If you have testimonials from previous customers, thank them and share their story with your new buyers. In a group sales settings, always let existing customers talk about your product. It creates excitement for your new prospects.

Conclusion

Going for the standing ovation after a sale is a sure way to start an ongoing relationship. As long as you have a worthwhile product or service that does exactly as promised, why not try to get some praise? It’s what they will remember most.

How do you get applause in your business? Please share some of your tips in the comments below.

Mar 26 2010

The Louder You Speak, The Better They Listen

Speak boldly.  Speak loudly.  Speak with authority.  Unfortunately, many people think this is the best way to deliver a message to your customers.  Ridiculous!  If you want to alienate your customers, then yes, by all means follow that formula.

Communication is supposed to be the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.  The key word in the definition is interchange.  Good communication flows back and forth between speaker and listener.   It’s a process of assigning and conveying meaning to create shared understanding.

Yesterday we talked about the importance of listening.  Let’s take a look at how you can make your message easy to communicate so the listener understands you.

  1. Understand you can’t make people listen, they must choose to listen.
  2. Know your audience.
  3. Your message must resonate with a person’s interests.
  4. Let the audience know understanding is not agreement. They don’t have to agree.
  5. Your attitude is the first thing people see.
  6. Be yourself. Be authentic and at ease.
  7. Open a conversation with things you have in common.
  8. Be attentive and courteous.
  9. Avoid confusion. Keep your ideas simple.
  10. Know the intent of your message.
  11. Confirm understanding with your audience. Ask questions.
  12. Provide a summary.
  13. Be patient with explanations.
  14. Avoid jargon. Speak their language.
  15. Focus. Avoid distractions.
  16. Keep information accurate, up-to-date, and interesting.
  17. Create a mutual understanding that pleases both parties, win/win.
  18. Set the stage. Tell your audience what to expect.
  19. Use analogies or examples to help understanding.
  20. Be prepared. Have all the necessary info at hand.
  21. Encourage input from your listeners.
  22. Focus on your audience. Pay attention to what you hear, see, and feel from them.
  23. Express your individuality appropriately within the context of your audience.
  24. Be open and confident.
  25. Be on time for scheduled communications.
  26. Have a positive attitude.
  27. Make sure your message has purpose.
  28. Know that you have control over the atmosphere you want to create.
  29. Appeal to your listener’s self-interest.
  30. Allow for and respond to questions.

Your customers look to you for guidance. They want to believe you can help them.  Be sure you reinforce that trust by communicating your message clearly.

Would you add anything to this list?  Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.