Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is This The World's Best Investment?

If someone urged you to buy a stock that could appreciate in value by 1,000% or more in less than 10 days, you'd say, "Thanks, Bernie Madoff. Aren't you supposed to be in jail?"

Yet, there is an investment that can pay you pack $10 or more for every $1 you invest, often in as little as 10 days.

It's entirely legal, ethical, and you can limit any losses by starting small and rolling out big later.

What is this investment?

It's marketing to your own clients.

Here's an example, below ...

The screen capture above shows part of an email promotion that pulled in $10.52 for every $1 my client paid me to write it.

I can't reveal total revenue, but she made a comfortable four figures on this promotion. (How much could you make? You can do your own math ....)


Why does marketing to your clients work so well?

Think about it: There's no easier sale to make than to people who have bought before. Your current clients know you, so you're not a stranger.

And -- if you performed well -- your clients trust you. That's a big deal. Because trust is everything in today's economy. (Just ask the people who invested with Bernie Madoff.)

So ... if you want to get in on the safe, legal investment that can pay you back 1,000%, or more, start marketing better and more often to your current clients.

Bio: Kevin Donlin can help you grow your business and enjoy the breakthrough results your hard work deserves. If you're interested in boosting your revenues and profits, please click here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Funnel Vision Marketing Example: Library in a Restaurant

Here's a marketing innovation worth from a company that may not strike you as forward-thinking, Cracker Barrel Restaurants ...

It's a brilliant example of Funnel Vision, a concept I learned from Jay Abraham.

Funnel Vision (the opposite of tunnel vision) simply means looking outside your industry for new ideas. Because, really, there are no new ideas -- only new combinations of old ideas.

Examples of Funnel Vision: McDonald's borrowed drive-thru windows from banks ... FedEx borrowed hub-and-spoke flight routes from Delta Airlines ...

... so when Cracker Barrel borrowed audiobook lending from libraries, they are working in this fine tradition.

Really, this is a brilliant idea. As you can see from the instructions on the sign above, Cracker Barrel has created two smart things here:
  1. a new revenue stream -- audiobook rental fees;
  2. another reason to visit their restaurants -- to return the audiobook.
Of course, McDonald's did something similar in 2006 when they introduced DVD rentals in their restaurants.

That just means there's plenty of room to be creative and borrow ideas from other industries to better serve your clients.

Now. What idea will you borrow this week?

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

Monday, March 28, 2011

How to Find Clients by Reverse Stalking (a.k.a. Networking for Smarties)

Hands up -- who loves networking to find new clients?

I thought so.

Networking (as most people do it) forces you to talk to strangers and ask for help, two things most of us hate to do. But why do what most people do? That would just make you average.

Instead, keep your eyes peeled for new ways of doing old things, like networking.

Example: an article in The Wall Street Journal has advice on dating you can use when networking.

After Lisa Jenkins, 42, a Clarkston, Wash., marketing consultant, got divorced several years ago, she came up with a method she calls "reverse stalking." Once or twice a week, she frequented places she found interesting—bookstores, art galleries, a bistro, a charity—at about the same time of day. "People who might be interested in you know where to find you when they finally get up the courage to ask you out," she says.

While volunteering on a fund-raiser for a local college art center, she met another volunteer, who asked her to lunch. Three years later, they are engaged. "I am very glad I didn't leave it to chance," Ms. Jenkins says.

Get that?

By appearing regularly where she might find single men with the same interests as her, she met her ideal match.

Questions: Where do your ideal prospects hang out? And how can you start appearing there regularly?

Example: If your ideal client is educated and earning over $100,000 per year, where would they hang out? Try your college alumni club -- wealthy, successful people often take leadership positions in such organizations. Volunteer for a project, appear regularly to help out, and you may find some new business.

At the very least, "reverse stalking" as a volunteer will raise your profile while helping others. Win-win.

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

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thank-You Marketing: Ice Breaker and Deal Maker?

I spoke by phone yesterday with a prospect about giving a marketing presentation to his sales force.

Prior to calling, I mailed him the card below, with a hand-written message inside thanking him for agreeing to speak with me ...

When I called, he said, "I've got your thank-you card here on my desk!" Ice broken. Smooth sailing. And we set a date in May for me to speak to his group.


Did my humorous, pre-call thank-you note make the sale?

No. I had to research my prospect, offer a solution that met his needs, and ask him to book me as a speaker.

Did my humorous, pre-call thank-you note make the prospect smile?

Yes. And by making him smile -- laugh, even -- before our phone call, I ensured that he would be in a good mood and receptive to my message. Which paved the way for a sale.

Food for thought.

FYI: You can buy these cards here.

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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

2 Ways to Get More Clients

There are really only two ways to get more clients for your business:
  1. promote your business more (spend more money on advertising, more time networking, etc.) or
  2. promote your business better.
Let's look at that second option.

Because when you promote your business better, you turn more prospects into clients with the same time and money you’re already spending. Which is a good thing.

Two of the easiest ways to promote your business better are ...

1) Stop writing web pages. Start writing sales pages.

It may not be 1996, but most web sites are still brochureware. And that won't cut it.

Instead, write or rewrite the pages on your web site, to create sales pages. Your goal? Compel more people to order or contact you for an appointment.

Tip: Unless you’re making a specific offer to visitors and telling them to click the order button or pick up the phone and call you, your web site is under-performing.

Another tip: Use an analytics program, like Google Website Optimizer, to continually improve your web pages, by testing two or more versions against each other to determine a winner. Then test again. And again. Never stop testing and you'll never stop improving your conversions.

2) Stop ignoring prospects. Start following up with them.

Want more sales?

Do this: Write a 3-part series of follow-up emails or letters and send them to every qualified prospect who contacts your business. I've never seen this NOT increase sales for a small business -- often by 50% or more.

Why does it work?

Because people are busier than ever. So, when you touch prospects at least 3 times with a message that they want to hear, they will listen to you, put a higher value on you than your competitors, and buy from you more often.

Writing sales letters and follow-up campaigns are two of the ways I make more money for my clients, but you can try this yourself, if you're willing to invest the time and effort to master marketing.

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brilliant Cross-Selling Idea For Any Service Business

Here's a neat trick, courtesy of Green Horizons, the company that cuts my grass every week.

When filling out their order form for my annual contract, I noticed the two options (circled in red) for window cleaning and house cleaning (click to expand) ...

Green Horizons knows that, if their clients are too busy to cut their lawn, they're probably too busy to wash windows and clean toilets, as well.

So Green Horizons partnered with two other companies -- Squeegee Bob's and Cleaning Patrol (cool names!) -- to offer those services at a discount to their own clients.

Very smart.

And Green Horizons knows that the best time to cross-sell additional, related services is when your client has their wallet out. So they make this offer right on the order form.

Double smart.

As Dan Kennedy once said, "A buyer in motion is a buyer in motion." When your client is in the act of buying, ride that momentum. Offer every additional product or service you can to help your client enjoy the full benefit of doing business with you ...

... up to and including the services and products of strategic partners you trust. Whether or not you negotiate a revenue-sharing deal with partners is up to you. 

Look at it this way: Somebody is going to get that revenue for those extra services and products. It might as well be you.

Action Steps:

1) Look at your order form.
Does it offer additional products or services to help your clients? If not, add one upsell this week. Today would be better.

2) Look at your clients.
Are they a perfect match for additional products or services that you can provide? Example: clients of a lawn care firm are natural fits house cleaning, window cleaning, errand running, nannying, tutoring, dog walking, etc.

Make a list. Then, start giving your clients more of what they need, either from your own company or from a strategic partner's.

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How to Write Great Headlines: It's In The Cards

What's your secret for creating great work?

Here's a sneak peek into one of mine ...

Before writing any important sales letter, I sift through my collection of 201 all-time best advertising headlines, each of which is written on a separate 3x5 card. (All 201 are pictured above.)

Examples of classic advertising headlines:

  • This is Marie Antoinette -- Riding to Her Death
  • How a New Kind of Clay Improved My Complexion in 30 Minutes
  • Are You Ever Tongue-Tied at a Party?
  • ... and 198 more

I figure it took 20+ hours over the last 11 years for me find and write down each of these classic headlines.

I call it EIEO -- excellence in, excellence out. When you prime the pump with the best advertising headlines ever written, some pretty good headlines are likely to come out.

Yes, it was a royal pain in the posterior to write down all these headlines on 3x5 cards.

And yes it's a pain to spend 15-20 minutes combing through every single one of them in search of the 2 or 3 gems that might be relevant to the project at hand.

But genius is the art of taking pains. No pain, no genius.

And there's no shame in building on the best ideas of others. In fact, you're a fool not to.

Isaac Newton wrote to a rival in 1676: "What Descartes did was a good step. You have added much several ways, and especially in taking the colours of thin plates into philosophical consideration. If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."

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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How "Thank You" Builds Strong Businesses 3 Ways

Mom and Dad told you how important it is to say "Thank you" in life.

And it may be even more important in business.

In a world where your prospects and clients are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages daily, the simple act of saying "Thank you" in a note can help your business stand out and get noticed in three ways.

When you mail a handwritten thank-you note to prospects and clients, they will see you as thoughtful, memorable, and trustworthy:
  1. Thoughtful, because you took the time to buy a thank-you note, hand-write a personal message, address the envelope, affix a stamp, and drop it in the mail. (An instant message via Twitter can't compare.)
  2. Memorable, because people will smile and remember you favorably when reading your thank-you note. Lots of people keep thank-you notes in a desk draw for months or years. (An email can't compare.)
  3. Trustworthy, because if you are detail-oriented enough to get a thank-you note in the mail the same day you meet with a prospect or make a sale to a client, people will think you can handle the other details that come after the sale. (Not saying "Thank you" can't compare.)

Yes, it can be bothersome to spend 20-30 minutes writing and mailing 3-5 thank-you notes to all the important people you talked to each day.

But you know what's more bothersome?

Explaining to your family why you're having hot dogs and beans for dinner again tonight.

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

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Don't Market Anything Without This

Sales Obermeister Tom Hopkins has said that, if someone is a client or prospect of his, they will hear from him at least 6 times a year (in person, by mail, or by phone) with information that they find valuable.

How often do you follow up with prospects and, more importantly, with clients?

If your answer is "0" or "I don't know," here's an exercise -- write down last year's revenue for your small business.

Now double it.

That's about how much you could have earned if you had followed up at least 3 times with prospects (before the sale) and clients (after the sale), based on my experience doing it since 1998.

Lesson: Don't launch any marketing effort that doesn't have follow-up communications built into it.

Don't run an ad -- online or in print -- if you can't commit to following up at least 3 times with prospects who call your office, for example. If you fail to follow up, you leave at least 50% of your cash on the table.

So, in a nutshell, the bad news: If you ignore your prospects, they will ignore you.

The good news? If you pay attention to your prospects, they will pay you.

To learn more, check out the guide I created on Followup Marketing.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Copywriting Case Study: Small Business Marketing Success

Last week, I wrote about the small business owner who got noticed at a networking event by telling listeners exactly how to use her. To recap:
Instead of saying, "I'm a portrait artist, specializing in caricatures," she said: "A great way to use me is at parties, corporate events, or to attract a crowd at your trade show booth when I draw pictures of people."
And that got me thinking. I realized that I ought to follow my own advice ...

... and tell you exactly how to use me, if you ever need
  • more clients, 
  • more sales, and 
  • more referrals.
Would any of those interest you?

If so, here's a story from someone who used me, with 3 takeaways to boost profits for your business ...

Dear Kevin:

I am so grateful you came into our lives. I have been thinking of how our business has changed for the better and here are my thoughts ..

You wrote our “20-year anniversary” sales letter of appreciation -- this resulted in 50+ service calls. Nothing could be finer!!!

Takeaway #1: How often do you send special offers to inactive clients -- people who haven't bought from you recently? If you can't remember the last time, it may be time to send them a "client reactivation" letter, like the one I wrote that delivered 50+ phone calls.

Your inactive clients are like a chest full of gold pieces. Let me explain ...

If it costs you $100 to acquire a client and you have 250 clients who haven't bought from you in 6-12 months, you're sitting on an inactive client list worth $25,000. You owe it to yourself to recoup some of that "sunk cost" by marketing to them again.

You helped us develop a sales script. Priceless! My conversion rate on price-shopping Dex callers has improved significantly. You showed me how to promote our special features -- attentiveness, humor, no-surprise pricing, no fee to diagnose, rock star technician, Angie’s List awards, etc. -- and make the customer call me back, most often humbly, because no better deal or promise of honest, competent service could be found!

Takeaway #2: Do you have a sales script? It includes a list of the most-common questions you get from prospects, and your best answers.

If not, I can write one for you, in your own words. A good sales script can boost your revenue faster than almost anything else. Because, when you always say the right thing, you convert more prospects into paying clients.

We added a late-night/weekend surcharge at your recommendation. We had 4 service calls yesterday, 3 of them after 7 pm. The extra bling from OT is most appreciated. Thank you for making us take a hard look at our fees. An increase was long overdue!

Takeaway #3: When was the last time you raised your prices? You may be surprised that nobody notices but you. Especially if you really extend yourself with late-night or rush service. The only way to find out is to test higher prices for a few days or weeks.

(Note: I don't charge to consult on pricing strategy -- it's part of every project I do for people who use me to expand their business with my copywriting services).

You constantly call us or email information that may help out. You are a pit bull advocate for your clients and don't ignore us once the check is cashed! You stick like glue and keep us on our A game.

I can't thank you enough for sharing and stressing the simple strategies that REALLY WORK yet maintain the integrity and personality of our business!!!

-- Kathleen Brogan, Co-Owner/Manager, All Mechanical Services, Richfield, Minnesota
The only thing I can say to that is, THANK YOU, Kathleen.

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

Friday, March 11, 2011

Want My Business? Tell Me How to Use You

At a networking event two days ago, one business owner did something very smart.

Instead of telling the group what she did, she told us how to use her.

Instead of saying, "I'm a portrait artist, specializing in caricatures," she said: "A great way to use me is at parties, corporate events, or to attract a crowd at your trade show booth when I draw pictures of people."

Wow. Heads began nodding in agreement among the roomful of potential clients for her service.

Unlike, say, mimes or clowns, nobody doesn't like caricature artists.

Think of it: While everyone else is handing out pamphlets or brochures at a trade show ... you could be handing out personalized portraits, drawn while prospects wait in line (where you have a chance to chat them up and soft-sell your company).

Now. What other uses can you see for this "Tell me how to use you" style of networking pitch?

Let's try an accountant.

Instead of, "I provide full-service bookkeeping and accounting" (YAWN) ...

... you could say, "A good way to use me is to free up your time and energy for money-making activities while I take care of reconciling your daily receipts and other drudgery" (YAY).

Get the idea?

Instead of telling people what you do, and hoping they will figure out a way to use your services ...

... cut to the chase. Tell people exactly how to use you, what it looks like, and the benefits they'll enjoy by doing so.

The easier you make it for people to see the benefits of using your service, they faster they will buy your service.

You'll find more ideas like these in my Free Report, Guaranteed Marketing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Business is Fourth

I don't write about faith or prayer here very often, but this is one of those times ...

A friend of mine just lost his five-month-old son, Max, to liver cancer.

And that reminded me of the saying, "God is First, Family is Second, I am Third."

Business ranks, at most, #4. Sometimes we forget that. Not today.

I don’t know how to express my sadness at Max’s passing. I prayed daily for his recovery, and now I pray for his mom and dad.

Without ever meeting him, little Max brought tremendous meaning to hundreds, maybe thousands, of people through his parents' networks of friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors.

Those of us who are parents will hug our children a little longer tonight, be a little more eager to help with homework, and tell them one extra time how much we love them -- because of Max.

Max’s short life brought all who know his parents closer together. And Max made a lot of parents a little bit better at doing their job, the most-important work on earth.

His parents asked that anyone wishing to show support for Max may donate to Solving Kids' Cancer and The Ronald McDonald House Charities

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How to Train Your Clients to Send You Referrals

Yesterday, I delivered a marketing presentation to the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota, as a guest of their quarterly Marketing Council meeting in Eagan, MN.

My presentation, "5 Ways to Grow Your Banking Business," featured the idea of "capturing and cloning" your best clients.

Do you want more referrals from your best clients? Keep reading ...

First, find out which clients are sending you the most referrals

Then, find out exactly what they say when recommending your business to others. Yes, that means you pick up the phone, call them, and ask.

Then what? Capture and clone their words.

That means you write a short script based on what your top-referring clients are saying when they recommend your business to others.

This is worth repeating: Write a referral script using the words your clients say about you -- NOT what you think they say or think they ought to say. Stick to reality.

Then, train your other clients to use that same, proven script.

In your post-sale letters, emails, and conversations with clients, tell them ...

Do you like us? Please tell your friends! Here's what to say: "I found this bank where the loan officer actually knows my name and understands my business. And she gave me some great tips on marketing to help build my business, too. You should call Suzy Smith and tell her I sent you."

Stop trying to reinvent the wheel.

If your best clients are already referring you, find out what they're saying, and train the rest of your clients to say the same thing.

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

Monday, March 7, 2011

How Many Contacts Does it Take to Make a Sale?

If you handle the marketing for a small business, here's a sales tip: It takes 5.

Specifically, 80% of sales come after 5 or more contacts with prospects, according to most of what I've read and experienced in business since 1996.

So, if you contact a prospect 4 times or less, you are leaving 80% of your revenue on the table.


Now, here some numbers ...

According to Tony Rubleski:

48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop
Only 10% of sales people make more than three contacts

Now here’s the case for following up with prospects:

2% of sales are made on the first contact
3% of sales are made on the second contact
5% of sales are made on the third contact
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

Rubleski offers several excellent ideas about how to follow up, including:
Use an eletter.
One of the simplest, cost effective and smartest ways to stay in touch with customers, key prospects, and referral partners is to create and use an eletter in your marketing efforts. If it’s done consistently, you’ll have an incredibly powerful database built up that you can communicate with on a regular basis. We use ConstantContact for simplicity and cost and it has been wonderful. We shoot to get an eletter our every two-weeks and it always generates interest, business and comments each time we send it out.

Special Events.
A special client appreciation event is a very smart marketing strategy to engage, educate, update and thank top customers, referral partners and key prospects. People love to network, have fun and learn more. It’s also a great way to meet prospects in a fun, relaxed setting where your best customers are speaking highly of what you’ve done to help or improve their life.

To get you thinking and jog your creativity into action, here are a few events I’ve seen businesses use with great effectiveness:

*A local law office hosts an annual barbecue party by invitation only with hundreds of people showing up year after year

*Two mortgage brokers partner with a local nursery, send out postcards to their database for a free flower in the spring and a free pumpkin giveaway in October and have hundreds of people show up at each event

*A local financial advisor hosts a client appreciation luncheon with a guest speaker on a timely topic and fills a room with his best clients and several prospects invited as special guests

*A local restaurant has a one-week, “roll-back the menu” promotion by using 1976 prices for select dinners to celebrate their anniversary and every one of their locations is packed to the rafters with existing and new customers taking advantage of the deal
I've written before about how to follow up with prospects:
Get a good CRM like SalesForce or GoldMine. Then use it to organize your communications with prospects and clients. It can pay you back in about 2-3 days ... but only if you use it.

I have never seen this fail since 1996. Heck, I quickly doubled sales twice for my first business by doing nothing more than using GoldMine to literally mine the gold from inbound emails and phone calls.
To learn more, check out the guide I created on followup marketing.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Small Niche, Big Profits

Which white circle is bigger, the one on the left or the one on the right?

The one on the left looks bigger, but the two are the same size. According to Richard Wiseman, in his excellent book, 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute

... the two circles are identical, but they appear to be different sizes because our brains automatically compare each of the circles to their surroundings. The left circle is surrounded by small circles and so, in comparison, appears to be relatively large. In contrast, the right circle is surrounded by large circles and therefore appears to be relatively small.

Now. What does this have to do with your business?

This: If you're having trouble getting noticed by prospects, it may be because you don't appear large enough to get their attention.

Instead of competing in a large market against hundreds of larger businesses, which is what happens when, for example, you market to the whole world on the Internet ...

... try competing in a smaller, niche market against smaller businesses. Your business can look larger by comparison, and attract prospects faster. Here are some example niche markets:
  • widows over 65, 
  • Catholics in your county, 
  • small businesses within walking distance of your office, 
  • parents of children who take horse-riding lessons and also need a tutor
When you compete in a huge market, you can't help but look small much of the time. By contrast, in a smaller, niche market, you will look larger and more impressive.

Best part: It's faster and less expensive to mail, meet, call, or visit your prospects in a small market than in an enormous one. And if the results don't pan out, you can always pick a new niche market.

Meanwhile, if you want to more clients like your best clients, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your free copy now, while they last.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

4 Marketing Secrets of the Chocolate Bounceback Offer

You're looking at a clever little lid-top ad from Caribou Coffee, which I snapped a picture of this morning.

How clever is it?

Let me count the ways ...

1) Perfect Timing
It hits me at the happiest moment, before I've had my first sip of java, and offers a discount on more java.

2) Efficiency
It uses previously wasted real estate to deliver a marketing message to 100% of intended recipients ... for pennies to print and zero postage.

3) Perfect Pitch
The offer combines two swell ideas, chocolate and happy hour, to form a new one: Chocolate Happy Hour ... for 3 bucks. What's not to love?

4) Zero Acquisition Cost
Offering a special price to people who already like Caribou -- their current customers -- is a profitable way to get more people back in the store at the otherwise-slow time of 3-6 p.m. This kind of "bounceback" offer ought to be in every marketer's tool box.

Now. How can you adapt Caribou's Chocolate Happy Hour promotion to your business?

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