Archive for January, 2009

When Customers Leave

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Do you know when you’ve lost a customer? How many do you let slip away every year? If you’re like most decorators, you only find out indirectly when you call to find out why they haven’t ordered recently. It doesn’t have to be that way. Some simple automation can go along way to solving this problem.

One thing I’ve discovered over the years is that we are all way too busy with our own day-to-day work schedules to really pay attention to our customers. We pretty much leave it up to them to call us when they’re ready to buy. By the time we’re aware that they haven’t ordered recently it is usually about twice as long as it should have been. Often we’re simply not at the right place at the right time and someone else is. It is a sale of opportunity and we miss out.

One of the great things about marketing on the Internet is the autoresponder. This is either software you own or a service you subscribe to. The beauty of it is you can preload emails at specific time intervals and have them sent automatically to your customers. They can be follow up messages, reminders of critical dates, or special offers. You can use them to simply keep in touch or be more direct with them.

The content of your email is genuine, just as if you were talking to your client. They can reply directly to your email address, so it is as natural and you would normally be. Except you are being much more proactive and your customers will genuinely appreciate your efforts.

There are many services available. I’ve had great success with AWeber.com and GetResponse.com

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Where Do You Get Your Information?

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Knowledge expansion is one of my favorite areas of interest. We live in times of accelerated knowledge expansion unlike any in the history of man. What I find very interesting and challenging is, how do we deal with it? We are on information overload. Everyday we are bombarded with thousands of advertising messages, personal messages, and specific emails and announcements of interest to us.

With the advent of mobile computing, Twitter, and FaceBook updates, the avalanche of relevant and irrelevant information is overwhelming. And it’s only going to get worse. For someone like myself that loves to read, research, learn, and apply, it is becoming overwhelming.

To combat this, we need to rethink how we learn and who we get our information from. Malcom Gladwell has written extensively on this. He talks of Mavens and Connectors. It’s ironic that the more technical we get, the more we tend to withdraw into our own social networks where we are comfortable and trusted.

Your ability to function effectively is going to depend on how you systematically build your network of contacts. You want to be one or no more than 2 generations or levels away from the true thought leaders in your areas of interest. You need to have complete trust in these connections to provide you with the leading edge information and knowledge, along with insights and application strategies, that will benefit you.

Gone are the days where we can learn it and keep it to ourselves. Eban Pagan coined the term “Moving the Free Line” that advances the theory of giving away the most relevant, actionable information as soon as you get it.

This flies in the face of old school “knowledge is power” and “trade secrets.” I will address these two issues in another blog post. When knowledge is doubling every 3-6 years and collected information is doubling every 11 hours, knowledge acquisition and application take on all new rules, and many of these new rules are 180° opposite of everything we know.

For now, consider who can help you most? Who are the people doing the things you want to do? Who is writing and publishing what you need to do? How are you going to get to them and get them to share this information with you? These are huge questions that are crucial to your future success. Think about it and start putting those names down on paper.
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The Power of Social Marketing

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

One of the most exciting opportunities to grow our business lies in the area of Social Marketing. This collectively falls under the umbrella of Web 2.0. Most of you will know this as blogging, FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so forth. If you’re not familiar with this, don’t dismiss it. It’s not just for high school and college kids. It’s super powerful and can be used to almost instantly certify your validity and credibility. It will also get you ranked on Google and in the search engines very, very quickly.

I have been using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for a few months now. Combined with the blogs (mainly this one), the number of pages referencing me and what I do have more than doubled in the last month. Before the use of these methods, if you typed Mark Coudray into Google, it would return somewhere between 85,000 and 95,000 pages. After using these methods, the same search delivers 190,000 - 230,000 pages on any given day. If I release a new video, it goes way up. I don’t know how it all works, but I’m stunned at how well it works.

Besides the increase in search results, it is a powerful way of building credibility. I use Facebook and LinkedIn mainly, but I’m also rapidly building my friends list of followers on Twitter. I’ll be writing a whole lot more about this in coming weeks and how you can use it to benefit you.

In the meantime, if you would like to connect to me on LinkedIn, add me as a friend on FaceBook, or follow me on Twitter, I would be honored to return the favor.

Pay particular attention to who are in my friends and connections lists and to the recommendations on LinkedIn. They have been HUGELY powerful in getting introductions and connections to people who can make a difference in my life and business. They can for you too.
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Selling Printed Apparel in a Resistent Economy

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

The numbers are coming in from the retail holiday season and it looks like it’s the worst season in forty years. More bad news today, retailers Eddie Bauer, Talbotts, and Williams and Sonoma look like they may be the latest large chains to join the list of bankruptcies that so far include Linens and Things, Mervyyns, and Circuit City. All of this negative news has put a chilling effect on the market. Small businesses and business in general have pulled back and are holding on to their cash. But does this mean we can’t sell our services? The answer is: Absolutely Not.

When business takes a conservative position, one of the very first areas to go is advertising and promotion. The reason is because it isn’t trackable and the business can’t relate new revenue to their efforts. Do they still need to advertise and promote? Yes! What will it take to get them to let loose of their money?

This is a complex question and there are several directions to consider. The very first is to have some method to measure tangible results. If the use of printed apparel can be directly traced to new business, or returning business, we can do the math and justify the purchase. Long gone are the days of unqualified advertising. Today the emphasis is on direct response marketing. We must be able to show a return on the dollars AND time investing in the promotion.

The second aspect is simple, what’s in it for them? Our efforts must be entirely directed to the benefit of the client. Whatever they receive as a return must be a multiple of what they put in. On the promotions I design, I look for a minimum of five times the return. So put another way, one dollar invested with me on my promotion will generate five dollars of new revenue for my client. That is a 500% return. If I design a promotion as a self-liquidating offer (pays for itself with no out of pocket investment,) even better.

Now this may seem ridiculous when we consider banks today are paying well below 2% on saving accounts and money markets. How is it possible to achieve such high returns? The answer comes from the design of the promotion in the very beginning.

The key to high returns is understanding and targeting. We have to understand the business of our clients so we can design an effective promotion. We have to target the right clients for it to work for both of us. In other words, our promotions need to be tailor made for specific situations and specific clients. This will almost always result in the client coming on board with us and achieving the desired result.

To summarize, in a contracting economy fear drives the purchasing cycle. No one wants to take a chance on a speculative purchase or make a purchase unless it’s absolutely necessary. Our role is to position our offer in such a way that it provides a massive return for the money invested in the promotion. It must be trackable. To achieve this type of promotion means we need to know and understand how our clients market. Our efforts are tailored to specific situations AND to the specific clients who will benefit most from our efforts.

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