Monday, February 28, 2011

How to Easily Create Marketing Synergy

Here's how to recycle back issues of your newsletter in a way that builds your business -- mail them along with a handwritten thank-you note to new prospects.

(See my example at left.)

Your message will stand out from ordinary thank-you notes (which stand head and shoulders above thank-you emails).

Plus, by including a back issue of your newsletter, you share your expertise with prospects in a way that's low-key, non-threatening, and entirely welcome.

What if you don't have a monthly newsletter?

Include a copy of your best article, or a "top 10" list of tips, or even an article by someone else that you found helpful.

If synergy means a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts (1 + 1 = 3), then this is true marketing synergy.

Here's the formula: 1 (thank-you note) +1 (printed resource) = 3 (surprised, delighted, receptive prospect).

Meanwhile, if you want more clients, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. It's not some cheapo download -- this is a real business-building kit you can hold in your hands. Grab yours now, while you can.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thank-You Marketing: $1.2-Billion Case Study

I was reminded this morning of what I call "Thank-You Marketing" by Amy Vejar, who told me a story I never knew about Mary Kay Ash ...

... you may know her as the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. Her habit was to mail three hand-written thank you notes every night before going to bed. And she taught this same philosophy to her sales force.

Today Mary Kay Cosmetics is a $1.2-billion company, with a sales force in 32 countries.

Those numbers don't lie -- Thank-You Marketing works.

Question: What if you mailed just 3 thank-you notes today -- one to a client, one to a prospect, and one to a referral partner.

And what if you did the same thing tomorrow, and the next day?

If you did this for just one week, what would happen?

Do you think this little ritual might grow your business?

There's no better investment of about $15 and 60 minutes this week than mailing 15 tiny gifts to the ONLY people who can build your business -- your clients, your prospects, and your referral partners.


Writing and mailing thank-you notes alone won't build your business to the $1.2 billion level. But you'll be thinking and acting exactly like a billion-dollar business when you do ... for less time and money than you probably spend each week on Starbucks or Coke.

(More ideas like these in the Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Service Business Owners.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How to Get More Referrals? Reward Them

You know that a steady stream of referrals is the lifeblood of your business, right?


And you know that, as you get more clients by referral, your business becomes self-sustaining.

Research supports this. According to Getting Business to Come to You, by Paul and Sarah Edwards, up to 45% of consultants and service businesses are chosen by clients based on the recommendations of others.

Today, with Yelp, Angie's List, and other review sites,  the importance of referrals will only increase.

Here's the shortcut to getting more referrals: If you want to get referrals systematically, you have to go after them systematically.

And the easiest way I've found to do this is to flat out buy them. Pay cash rewards for referrals. Because this puts you in total control.

But paying a cash reward is only part of the ideal solution ...

Over the years, I've found that giving clients a choice of referral-reward options gets better results than offering a single type of reward. Reason? When you give people a choice, you involve them. You force them to think about what they get when they refer others, rather than if they will refer others. Big difference.

Here's an example. I like to offer clients a choice of three rewards for referring a new client to me: a cash bounty for them, a gift card for them, or a discount for their friend.

I call this combination my "Referral Triangle" System. And I've never seen it fail.

(Hey-- do you own or manage the marketing for a service business? Do you want more clients, who buy more, and refer others? If so, let's talk this week. Learn more here.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Inside Marketing: The Little Big Idea

When you want more revenue for your business, what's the first thing you think of?

This: "I need more clients!"

But ... why do you want more clients, anyway?

Because you want more revenue.

So, stop. Wait.

And think of this: If you can get more revenue from your CURRENT clients, you may never need to advertise for new clients.

It just makes sense. Why on earth should you spend more time and money chasing after prospects, trying to convince total strangers to give you their money?

There are streams of revenue running under your business and all you have to do is dig. And you can tap into that hidden revenue the minute you start selling more to the people who know you and trust you -- your current clients.

You can make a lot of money on this little idea, which has BIG implications for your bottom line: Sell more to your current clients.

(REWARD: Do you own or manage the marketing for a service business? Do you want more clients, who buy more, and refer others? If so, you and I should talk. Learn more here.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

100% of Your Revenue Comes From This

Take better care of your clients and they will take better care of you, by giving you more sales, referrals, and profits.

(More ideas like these in the Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Service Business Owners.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hope is Not a Referral Strategy

Last week, I spoke with Julie, who runs a professional service business with 3 employees.

She called me because she wanted to build her business, but didn't know what to do.

I asked, "How do you get most of your new clients now?"

"That's easy," she replied. "Referrals. Almost all of our new clients hear about us from previous clients."

"What are you doing to promote referrals? Do you have a program in place? Do you reward people for sending new clients to you?" I asked. "It's easy to do -- you can offer a cash reward, a discount, or a gift card to anyone who sends you a new client. I've never seen a rewards system fail to work."

"No, I prefer to let referrals happen naturally. I know we provide a good service and I don't want to get into incentivizing people to recommend us," she said.

So let's sum up Julie's situation:
  • She wants to grow revenue in her business.
  • She knows that referrals are her #1 source of new revenue.
  • But she's unwilling to stimulate referrals by rewarding them systematically.
Instead, Julie would rather hope for referrals.

Hope is not a strategy.

Look: It's not your clients' job to remember what business you're in or to send you new business. You have to remind clients, train them how to refer, and reward them for making good referrals.

Your clients are not too stupid to refer others or too greedy to do it regularly without a reward.

Your clients are simply busy and self-interested -- just like you.

Recognize this reality, and you can quickly appreciate the need for a referral rewards system. Then get busy creating one.

(More ideas like these in the Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Service Business Owners.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Marketing Budget with a Guaranteed ROI

When you buy referrals that lead to sales, your budget should have NO limit.


Because you’re paying only for results. Unlike ads that may or may not work, when you reward someone for referring a new client, you have a 100% success rate -- a GUARANTEED ROI.

Paying for referrals -- is it the world's best investment? I say, YES.

(More ideas like these in the Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Service Business Owners.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Market Your Service Business Better by Researching Better

Marketing is everything you do to find, get, and keep clients.

In other words, everything you do is marketing, starting with the first words in your next email, sales letter, phone call.

With that in mind, here's an excellent "research as marketing" tip from an Inc. Magazine article: 10 Ways to Support Your Best Customers.

Know the competition

In Inc.'s series of sales tips from the world's toughest customers, Kathy Homeyer, director of supplier diversity for UPS, gave a helpful tip on what not to do. "The biggest no-no is not knowing our competition. People will say, 'I've got this really exciting proposal I want you to look at.' I'll say, 'Go ahead; send it to me.' Then they send it to me by FedEx. It happens every day. Just be smart. Know the company you are pitching to and know their likes and dislikes. You get such brownie points with me when you come in with a UPS envelope and have an account all set up. It's just the little things like that, the icing on the cake."

So true. And so easy to do -- there's this web site called Google. Have you heard of it?

You can find out almost anything you want to know about a prospective client and their competitors by searching News and Blogs, in addition to standard Google searches.

And don't forget LinkedIn.

Whenever I want a callback from a prospect, I research them on LinkedIn (most people are there), find one tidbit on their profile, then send an email like this: "Joe Blow said something important on your LinkedIn profile -- please give me a call 612-555-1212 when you have 5 minutes to discuss!"

(More ideas like these in the Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Service Business Owners.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Email Marketing in a Down Economy at The Mainstreet Chamber

I attended "Email Marketing in a Down Economy" today, a Mainstreet Chamber Lunch & Learn session with Jeff Ferrazzo from ConstantContact, at Buca Di Beppo in St. Paul.

Jeff spoke for an hour and answered a boat-load of questions from entrepreneurs and business owners in search of the latest, best tips on email marketing.

Most of Ferrazzo's talk focused on email newsletters: what they are, what they aren't, and how to use them to build your business -- even in today's tough economy.

I've been selling via email since 1994, when I marketed one of the first ebooks on Usenet (there was no Web). So email marketing is a topic I was eager to learn more about. And Ferrazzo didn't disappoint.

Here's a summary of his seminar, based on my notes ...

First, what is email marketing? A professional communication piece with reliable information, sent to an interested audience.

On average, it takes 7 "touches" to build enough trust with prospects for them to buy from you. An email newsletter allows you to automate this crucial follow-up process.

On the other hand, some people will buy immediately. Good new? Not entirely -- these customers are probably procrastinators who put off buying whatever it is you sell until they had no choice. They will likely do so again and buy from somebody else when their need is again too great to ignore -- unless you stay in touch until their next purchase.

Here are best practices for monthly email newsletters:

  • Use an easy-to-read template that's easy for you to update each week/month.
  • Reinforce your brand by matching the color scheme and fonts to your web site; include logos and other related items.
  • Manage your subscriber list carefully -- bounces, removals, and complaints.
  • Track opens, clicks, and delivery rates (to know what works and what doesn't)
  • Segment your list into prospects and buyers; send different messages and promotions that are relevant to each. For even greater results, segment your buyers and target them accordingly, to move them along the sales continuum.
  • Good open rates for an email newsletter range from about 25% to 35%
  • Never assume your customers know everything you sell. It's not their job to remember. Educate readers about your entire product line before they buy from a competitor.

Key #1: Build your list with permission
  • How? Ask people to sign up via your service/sales calls, email signature, in-store guest book, trade show booths, and every page on your web site (not just the home page -- you never know where Google will drop off a visitor to your site).
  • Maintain permission by remaining a trusted sender -- remind readers why they are getting your newsletter, offer a one-click unsubscribe button, and don't email too frequently.

Key #2: Set your objectives for promoting, informing, and relating to prospects/clients
  • Promote: offers, discounts, coupons, etc.
  • Inform: provide value, educate readers, offer research, etc.
  • Relate: acknowledge individual readers (a contest or client of the month can work well), offer "insider" specials

Key #3: Choose appropriate format and frequency
  • Tip: we may not read newsletters at the same time as our customers do ... but we are not our customers. Test and track to find your best delivery time for opens and clicks. Ferrazzo found, after much trial and error, that 8:00 Saturday morning was the sweet spot for sending out his email newsletter. (I tend to have good luck with Sunday morning.)
  • 60% of people say the "from" line is the main reason they open an email. Depending on which has a bigger reputation with your readers, use your name (Sally Smart) or your company's name (ZYX Technology) in the from line. 
  • Tip: try to use both names, to brand both (From: Sally Smith, ZYX Technology).
  • 30% of people say the subject is the main reason they open an email. You have 30-40 characters (5-8 words) to work with. Telegraph an immediate benefit readers will get from opening. 
  • Avoid spammy subjects, like "HUGE SALE!!" (In my experience, adding "RE:" to the subject increases open rates, because the email appears to be a reply to something sent by the reader. Example: "RE: Thank you" Sneaky? Not if I have something of value to send.)

Key #4: Create compelling content that positions you as an expert
  • A simple link to a trade journal article (or your opinion on that article) can make you look like an expert in the minds of readers, because you're the one who told them first. 
  • It's not about you, it's about what you know. Your prospects and customers want valuable information. Find it, then deliver it to them. 
  • (Tip: Use Google Alerts to find news and blog postings each day that will interest your readers. In about 2-3 days, you will have MORE than enough material for your next email newsletter.)
Did I miss anything? Please comment below! 

And, because I practice what Ferrazzo preaches about offering "news you can use," I invite you to download my Free Report based on 17 years of marketing online and offline, Guaranteed Marketing for Service Business Owners.

Best Ways to Get New Clients Today and Profits Tomorrow

If you run a service business, what percentage of your time, effort, and money is devoted to getting new clients?

Probably 80-90%.

And what percentage of your marketing is devoted to getting repeat sales to and referral sales from the clients you have?

Be honest -- it's probably 10-20%.

But where do 100% of your revenues come from? Your current clients.

So taking care of the clients you have is the ONLY way today to make sure you get more money tomorrow.

Too often we get this backwards. Repeat and referral sales are usually an after-thought.

Case in point: a business-building article in the New York Daily News, "The best ways for small businesses to garner new clientele? Get on Facebook and Twitter, network."

After reading 6 tips for getting new clients via Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Groupon, networking, etc., I found the seventh, best tip at the end of the story. This hard-won advice, on repeat sales garnered via superior customer service, seemed almost like ... an after-thought:
"When you're selling $100 for $50 and Groupon gets the other half, they need to get that customer to come back in again in order to gain the value from that customer," Bean explained.

Therein lies the beauty of customer service, he said. Give clients an experience they'll want to replicate again and again. Also, encourage good customers to become fans of your company on Facebook or to follow you on Twitter. "Once they come in, continue to communicate with them," Bean said.
You have to do more than communicate with clients to earn their sales again and again, of course, but the point is worth restating: Delivering superior service to clients is the best marketing investment you can make today, and it's the only reliable way to bring in revenue tomorrow.

(More ideas like these in the Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Service Business Owners.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Your Clients and Your Business: 5 Vital Questions

1) How much of your revenue comes from current clients? 

Is it 50%? 80%?


100% of revenue comes from your current clients -- the people who buy from you now. Prospects don’t pay you. Referral partners don’t pay you. Only clients do.

2) How much is your marketing/advertising budget?

3) How much is your client retention budget?

4) Why is 3 so much smaller than 2?

5) What are you going to do about this?

(Thanks, Joseph Jaffe for the inspiration!)

(More ideas like these in the Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Service Business Owners.)

Friday, February 4, 2011

4 Tips for Successful Trade Show Exhibiting

I had coffee this morning with Colin Serle, owner of Black Cat Promotions.

Serle is an expert at marketing with advertising specialties, like key chains, ball point pens, apparel, and other items.

Over the past 40+ years, he's learned a thing or two about marketing and selling, particularly at trade shows.

If you never thought about marketing your service business by exhibiting at a trade show, think again.

For about the same amount of money as you'd spend on one display ad in the local newspaper, which might net 5 calls on a good day, you can meet dozens of prospects at a trade show and gauge their immediate reaction to your sales message.

Serle kindly shared these XX ideas to help you bring home the bacon -- and the sales leads -- the next time you exhibit at a trade show ...

1) Know the formula

"Write this down: the number of hours you'll be exhibiting at the trade show, multiplied by the number of people working your booth, multiplied by 30. That's the number of product samples or specialty items you can give away," says Serle, who devised this formula after years of experience.

So, plan accordingly when planning how many tchotchkes to pack for your next trade show.

2) Market before the show

Contact the trade show organizers and ask if you can mail an introductory letter to the registered attendees. You may be able to get this mailing list at no charge, but you will likely have to pay. Pony up the money if you have to, and send a letter. "Ask people to stop by your booth for a free item and tell them you're eager to meet. If you don't send a pre-show letter, you're relying on luck," says Serle.

3) Attract attention by demanding attention

If you're no good at drawing attention to yourself -- like me! -- Serle suggests letting your giveaway item do the work for you.

"I remember one trade show when one vendor had rubber balls that lit up inside when he bounced them. He had such a crowd around his booth that he gave away all his samples halfway through the first day," says Serle. "He had to call the supplier and ask for an emergency re-order," which is a nice problem to have.

So, consider working something lively and eye-catching into your trade show display.

4) Attract leads by giving away value

As a final bit of advice, Serle suggests you save pricier gift items or product samples ($5-$10+) for qualified prospects you talk to at your booth. "If you reach under the counter and hand prospects a nice item as a thank-you, that's powerful," he says.

Just be sure to get full contact information from every prospect you meet, so you can follow up with them after the show.

(More ideas like these in the Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Service Business Owners.)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Facebook Is So 1996 ...

I remember the Internet in 1996.

After two years of marketing stuff online (I sold the first job-search ebook for $10 on Usenet in 1994 -- before there was a Web) ...

... I discovered a cool way to promote my resume service: an email newsletter, or ezine.

It was amazingly successful.

Every week, when I pushed the "send" button, out would go my plain-text ezine to hundreds of subscribers. And within about an hour, "ring ring" would go the phone -- with people calling to order my services.

Publishing an ezine in 1996 was like printing money because:
  • it got read by clients and prospects;
  • it was free, so the ROI was astronomical;
  • few of my competitors did it well, or at all
These days, you have to work your butt off to convince people to subscribe to an ezine. Worse, instead of 5-20 emails a day competing for attention, there are 50-250+ emails -- not to mention spam filters.

Which is why I am now a big fan of creating a Facebook Fan Page for your business.

Hosting a Facebook Fan Page for your business today is very much like publishing an ezine in 1996 because:
  • it gets read by clients and prospects, who see your updates alongside those from friends and family;
  • it is free, so the ROI can be astronomical;
  • few of your competitors are doing it well, or at all.
I don't claim to have the formula down yet, but I do know this: Social media is worth doing well, so it's worth doing badly at first.

So ... take a look at my Fan Page. And "like" it to get business-building updates, tips, and video excerpts all in one place.

Then, check out these articles to help create your own Fan Page ...

How to Set Up a Winning Facebook Fan Page

Creating a Facebook Fan Page for Your Business

(More ideas like these in the Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Service Business Owners.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Strangest Sales Letter Writing Secret

How to let other people write the headline or other elements of your next sales letter, print ad, or web page. It never fails. And it's 100% free.

(More ideas like these in the Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Service Business Owners.)