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 29 2014

Features and Benefits – Are They The Same?

features vs benefits

Customers Buy Benefits

“Pick up that ashtray from the table and sell it to me.” Those were my instructions for the exercise. I was at my first sales training for a summer sales job. We were getting into the real “stuff” of selling that morning. We were learning how to sell cookware. The company was about to unleash 150 or more of us college students to start knocking doors and setting new sales records. It was my chance to show the other students that I knew how to sell. After all, I was a college student… I knew everything!

An ashtray? How hard could this be? I picked it up, admired it for a moment, then started describing it in great detail to the class. I talked about the beautiful color highlights, the smooth glass-like finish, the fine detail of the etching around the bottom. For the next 90 seconds, I described every possible detail. I handled it as though it was a piece of fine art. I was convinced even the non-smokers in the room would want to start smoking just to be able to use such a beautiful ashtray!

And then the moment of truth. Our instructor asked if anyone in the room felt compelled to own the ashtray. Two hands went up. Only two. I thought I was in a room full of zombies. How could they NOT want such a cool ashtray! My sales pitch was flawless. I didn’t say “um” even once.

OK, so maybe I didn’t know everything. As it turns out, no one cared what I was saying. I was listing all the features of the ashtray. – the color, size, weight, etc. None of that mattered because I didn’t tell them why those features would benefit them. While I was rattling off features, they were thinking, “Yeah, so what. What’s in it for me?” They saw no benefit for themselves.

That’s a huge lesson for any salesperson or marketer trying to sell a product or idea.

Customers Buy Benefits, Not Features.

A typical computer salesperson goes on and on about how much memory a machine has, how big the hard drive is, the speed of the processor , and on and on. Most people will stare blankly while they try to figure out what it all means. Those are features. They want to know what it means to them. How will it benefit them? They want to hear the machine will run fast. They want to know it has plenty of room to store their massive music library. They want to know they can run several programs at the same time without the machine blowing up. They Want To Know The Benefits!

The next time you find yourself describing a feature, use this simple “SO THAT” formula:

This product has {feature}, SO THAT you can {benefit}.

Simple, isn’t it? There really is a difference between features and benefits. Your thoughts?

May 01 2011

What Exactly Is Marketing?

Why is marketing important for an entrepreneur’s success? What exactly is marketing, anyway? Business owners tend to over complicate it’s simplicity. Marketing includes everything you do that places your product or service in front of your prospects. It includes sales, advertising, pricing, packaging and delivery. All these activities are coordinated into a strategy that allows you to receive fair compensation for supplying a good product or service.

So what’s the problem? The focus many times starts in the wrong place. S.H. Simmons, a writer and humorist explains with a funny story about relationships. I’ll paraphrase what he said…

  • Marketing – A man praises a woman by showering her with compliments. He says all the right things to the right person.
  • Advertising – A man tells a woman everything about himself and how successful he is.
  • Public Relations – The man’s friend tells the woman all about the man and how smart and successful he is.

The point Simmons makes is that marketing should focus on whatever the customer needs, wants, or requires. To do that successfully, you have to constantly look at what those needs are. They change all the time. What is true today may not be valid tomorrow.

You can have the most brilliant strategy to get your products into the right hands, but it will not earn you a penny unless it is built around your customer needs. Bottom line, marketing does not begin with a great product. It begins with customers. It begins with people who want or need your product and are willing to actually buy it!

I remember spending months and months putting an educational program together for elementary schools kids. It was a program to help kids identify their special talents and the importance of education. It was very proud of what I created. It was going to change the world! I was disappointed when I found out no one wanted it!!

I think that happens to many entrepreneurs. They get so wrapped up in their ideas, they naturally assume everyone else will too. I know I did. The bad news – It just doesn’t work that way.

Marlon Sanders, a modern day marketing wizard, illustrates this perfectly in one of his videos. A struggling marketer who couldn’t seem to come up with a successful product asks Marlon “No one is buying my stuff. Why are you so successful?  What are you selling?” Marlon answers, “I’m selling whatever they’re buying.” Bingo!

The hard lesson a marketer needs to learn is that the most creative ideas, the greatest product features ever imagined, or the most superior service only succeed when you market within the context of what people want. People really don’t buy your “product”, they buy what it’s going to do for them. Before you invest your life savings into a new venture, take the time to find out who your potential customers are. That is being a smart marketer.

Are you marketing, or are you only using advertising and PR?

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?