Mar 19 2010

Does Your Business Make Noise Or Make Beautiful Music?

I was reading an old magic book the other day, “Tarbell Course in Magic”, published in 1927.  One particular paragraph really jumped off the page for me.  I would like to share it because I think it has a valuable lesson you can apply to your business.

“There is a big difference between a magician and a man who does tricks.  One can give medicine to a friend but that does not make him a doctor.  Giving medicine is only a small factor.  One must be able to diagnose, so as to treat, and be trained for emergencies.  It requires years to make a physician.”

The author was making the point that the making of a magician is no different than that of other professional people.  A business owner must be trained in the mechanics of business, the alternate methods of operation, and be skilled in delivering the company’s product or service.  Background is crucial to success.  You must understand business and your customers.

A musician is not just a person who plays a piece of music.  He had to first learn the scales, then how to combine notes into harmony.  Proper timing is also important.  Studying music history builds an understanding of art.  Many individual elements create the “whole” musician.

Your business is much like the musical instrument.  A business owner must learn how to play the instrument.  One person plays a guitar and the audience cringes at the awful sound.  Carlos Santana plays his guitar and you immediately know the music comes from his soul, mesmerizing his audience with beautiful music, holding them spellbound for hours.  The difference – he spent hours on fundamentals to ensure he had a foundation on which he could build his unique sound.

One business owner sends an email to his list and 50% of the recipients unsubscribe because they feel it was spam.  Another entrepreneur sends an email, and customers rush back to his place of business or hurry to check out his website to get more information.

He is successful because he understands business fundamentals.  Things like It’s About Them, Not You or Customers Buy Benefits, Not Features.  He understands what marketing really means.  He also knows it’s important to be authentic.  All these pieces form the successful business.  Leave any fundamental out, and you start on a path to failure.

This sounds so simple, many will overlook the importance of the basics.  I often get caught up in the latest greatest technology or some cool new shiny object.  There’s a time a place for these things, but they won’t help if I don’t have a strong foundation to build on.

What are some fundamental practices you should be reviewing for your business?  Do you think it’s important or a waste of time?

Mar 18 2010

Drive Your Customers Away With Email Spam

It’s really easy to do.  Just send a sales message to everyone on your list, two or three times a week.  That should do the trick.  If that doesn’t work, throw in some emails that tell your customers how cool you are and why all your competitors are idiots.  If you really want to get creative, add some insults.  Tell them how stupid they are for not coming back to buy more stuff.  Maybe you could scare them into buying some stuff.  Tell them they will get wigetosis of the frilium and likely die if they don’t use your product or take your advice.

Sound ridiculous?  It’s not!  These tactics really work.  I see it every day.  I subscribe to about 100 email lists.  I see these tactics over and over again.  It’s crazy!  I’m living proof these type of emails get results.  They prompt me to unsubscribe. Leave. Bye-bye. I’m outa here. Don’t contact me again!

But you and I are smarter than that, right?  We would rather nurture our list and keep our customers coming back.  It’s easy to send spam.  Not as easy to stay in touch and provide value.  But that’s OK, because we know it adds to our bottom line over the long run.

I’ll be the first to admit I get stuck when trying to come up with new ways to add value with existing customers.  I consult with restaurant owners, chiropractors, and beauty salons.  Here are some ideas I have suggested for their email campaigns.  They don’t need a website to use the ideas.  As a general rule I ask my clients to send at least one email a week, two at most, to their list.  If I maintain the list for them, I have a strict rule of sending 3 to 4 “useful content”  emails before they are allowed to send a “sales” message.  These are messages that work, in no particular order of effectiveness

  • Tips, tricks, training on using a new product
  • Questions about what they like/don’t like about your product/service
  • Tell stories “A funny thing happened [on the blog], [in the store] today”
  • Employee spotlight mini-bio
  • Happy birthday
  • Calendar of upcoming events
  • Pictures of the staff and their families
  • Comments from other customers
  • Product use ideas from customers
  • Testimonials
  • Recipes (restaurant)
  • Exercise tips (chiro)
  • How to save time or money with something related to your service… without having to purchase anything
  • Holiday ideas
  • Invitation to comment on your blog
  • News in your niche
  • Have a prize drawing
  • Video tour of your office or store
  • Ask for customer photos to share on your website
  • Ask them to rate your emails

Conclusion

Provide value in your communication first.  Your customers will be more receptive to future offers if they know you care about them.

What would you add to this list?  What’s working for you?