Tuesday, April 28, 2009

10 Things Never To Do In Your Ads

Leave something to become the delight factor.

If you're planning to take your customer on a journey of imagination, plunge them into it.

Cramming the name where it doesn't belong is AdSpeak. It worked when there were less ads out there, however do it today and your ad will sound like it was written in the 1940's.

Fear and disgust work face-to-face, but they often backfire when used in mass media.

Drawing attention to a smaller competitor makes them larger in the eyes of the public.

Most people won't believe you. Instead, tell the public something objective, factual and verifiable that causes them to say, "Wow. Those people really believe in customer service."

All you are really doing is reminding the customer that now is not a good time to be spending money.

Unsubstantiated claims are the worst form of AdSpeak. Win the confidence of the customer by giving them details.

Here is the litmus test: If remembering the humor forces you to recall the message of the ad, the humor is motivated. If recalling the humor doesn't explicitly cause you to remember the ad's main point, the humor will make the ad less effective.

Every form of advertising out there is competing for your attention. Today, we are bombarded with over 5000 messages per day. The mundane, the predictable, the usual are filtered by Broca's area of the brain and rejected from our consciousness. Surprise Broca and win the customer's attention with words and phrases that are new, surprising and different.

(source: Roy Williams, www.wizardofads.com)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Customer Relationships are Recession Busters

Your customers are your personal recession buster -- but only if you focus on them more completely, deeply and consistently than ever.

Think about it this way -- your customers are the source of all revenue for your organization; your customers write your paycheck. It makes sense to build and deepen your relationships with them always, but that is never more true than in times where they are buying less and probably distracted by the economy themselves.

Your customers are looking for new solutions. Your customers want help. Your customers need you.

Five Ideas
Here are five ways you can focus on deepening your relationships with your customers, starting right now.

Get in touch...
Stop by, make a call, send a handwritten note, send an email (in that order of priority -- the further up this list the more valuable the contact will be). Let them know you care, take the effort to be connected.

Stay in touch...
Don't make this contact a one-time event but part of an ongoing process of staying in touch, connected and at the top of mind for your customer.
Ask how you can help them...
No strings and no qualifiers. Do you appreciate it when someone offers to help you with something? So will your customers, even if they don't take you up on the offer.

Educate them...
Send an article, share an idea. After you know how you can help or what their challenges are, it will be easier to determine the best things to share based on their interests and needs.

Focus on serving, not selling...
People buy from those they like, trust and respect. Sales will come. Focus on the person, building the relationship and serving them.

These are just five ideas -- you probably can come up with 55 more. Your challenge is to find ways to be relevant, helpful and available to your customers.
(Source: Business consultant/trainer Kevin Eikenberry www.kevineikenberry.com )

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Four Key Tips To Leadership

1) To lead, people must trust and respect you.
2) Demonstrate respect for people you lead.
3) Give people equity in your decisions...allow them to have a say in the decision.
4) Execute your decisions with confidence.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Independent Stores Pump Up the Perks to Lure Shoppers

In these tough economic times, what's a store to do to make sure it's still in business a year from now? "

Get a tarot card reader," said Emese Boone, owner of Box Turtle in Little Rock, Ark.

And she's not kidding -- Boone hired a local tarot card reader to give free readings during a recent jewelry trunk show in her clothing, jewelry and housewares shop.

Retailers like Boone are hoping special events, classes, blood pressure screenings and even career counseling will inspire shoppers to keep on shopping during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Boone has also hosted a cocktail party and a book signing and started a rewards program that gives customers a 20 percent discount every time they spend $500 in her store.

"The place is like a party," says Tanya Fitzgerald, a customer who discovered the shop through its special events. "It's more fun and personal."

Do these perks translate into dollars? Not necessarily. And it costs money to pay for entertainment and refreshments. Still, shop owners think it's worth a try.

Tamara Lee, owner of Brooklyn Mercantile in New York, is teaming up with a local nurse practitioner who will conduct free breast cancer and blood pressure screenings, as well as free nutrition workshops at Lee's store.

In addition to her usual sewing and craft workshops, Lee plans to enlist a career coach who will offer guidance to customers. Her shop had already become a local gathering place for those interested in do-it-yourself activities, but even those have suffered.

"Because of the economic climate, people are worried about their work lives, they're cutting back on extraneous spending and looking inward," said Lee. "They want to do things to fix up their homes without spending money."

Still, independent businesses are managing to hold on during the downturn.

Holiday sales declined an average of 5 percent at independent stores last year, according to research by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Overall December retail sales were down 9.8 percent from the previous year, according to the Commerce Department.

The picture was bleaker for Sasha Wingate, who saw sales decline 40 percent over the holidays at her San Francisco store BellJar, which sells an eclectic mix of soap, candles, jewelry, clothing and updated vintage furniture.

"The economy has drastically affected my business," she said.

She's taken to throwing evening parties with specialty cocktails, live entertainment and an "eccentric Victorian photographer" to entice customers. She's also offering exhibits by local artists and free workshops in knitting, leather crafting and building a shadow box.

A neighborhood walk sponsored by local businesses also helped. "It helped bring people in. There was so much publicity and so many people came out," she said.

When 200 customers crowded into Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine, for a local author's book launch party, co-owner Chris Bowe was thrilled that it produced 100 sales; that more than made up for all the hot dogs he gave away.

Bowe believes that developing a personal connection with his customers is good for business. That's why the shop sends out personalized birthday cards, which include a 25 percent discount certificate, and offer Longfellow Dollars, a rewards program that gives 6 percent back on every five items bought.

Ellen Murphy, a retired lawyer who recently moved to Portland from New York, said that even in a tough economy she was willing to skip discounts at big chain stores in favor of local shops like Bowe's.

"I don't want to live in a Wal-Mart world and I want to preserve neighborhood identity," she said.

Bowe's worried about that, too, but more pressingly he wants to be sure he can give health insurance to his employees.

"There's a sense of community here, a sense that we're in this recession together," Bowe said.(Source: Associated Press, 03/26/09)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Down-Sizing vs. Right-Sizing

Now more than ever I hear CEOs, sales managers and other key decision-makers talking about either Down-Sizing or Right-Sizing their business. More often than not, they use the terms interchangeably.

While that might be understandable, it will be a real serious mistake if you think you are doing one, and you're actually doing the other. With the economy affecting your business today unlike any time in my 32 years in the business world, it is essential that you know the difference between Right-Sizing and Down-Sizing.

Down-Sizing is when you are cutting back, letting go, getting rid of, and eliminating resources, tools, assets and people because your business has suffered a setback or change that cannot support the level of overhead you've structured in the recent past.Right-Sizing is a totally different concept.

Right-Sizing is what Jim Collins referred to in his book Good to Great as getting the right people in the right seat on the bus. In a recession, a time of downturn, a time of change, a time of pressure on sales and bottom-line profits, there couldn't be a better time to Right-Size your sales force.

Whether you're Down-Sizing or not, you should be focused on Right-Sizing. Many times in the midst of Down-Sizing, it is also the perfect time to Right-Size. Now more than ever is the opportunity to remove the slow, low producers and replace them with the most aggressive, most professional, best-trained and highly-compensated salespeople.
(Source: Sales consultant/strategist Ken Edmundson. www.northstarinsight.com)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How Easy Is It For Your Potential Customers To Reach You?

Do you want your advertising to have even stronger results? Review the ways that you are asking your potential customers to reach you.

When you create your advertising message, take a strong look at how you are asking them to connect with you. It has to be easy to remember to have the kind of recall you will ultimately need to maximize your marketing return on investment.

The method with the lowest result is to ask them to come to your business. Everyone is time starved, and unless you are a restaurant, your potential customers do not want to come to you to learn about you.

If you are asking them to call you, make sure you are giving your potential customers a phone number they can easily remember. You may even want to consider purchasing an additional vanity phone number that spells something related to your business. By doing this, you make it easy for your potential customers to remember your phone number - especially if you are using broadcast media. Remember, you will need frequency in your advertising message to imprint the number into your potential customer's brains. Radio works best for this. Nearly 30 years ago Tommy TuTone broke their song "867-5309/Jenny," and to this day most of us can recall that number.

Finally, is your web address easy to remember? If it is not, purchase an additional URL for $10 a month and use this in your marketing. You can even have this easy to remember URL simply forward to your existing site. Once you make your web address easy to remember, you can begin monitoring the traffic...and you will be surprised with the increase in traffic and sales you will see.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Consider The "Mom Timeline"

Does your business target moms? Consider where they are in the "Mom Timeline" as you create your marketing message.

New moms, single moms, soccer moms, working moms, stay-at-home moms, urban moms, hybrid moms. From the moment the home pregnancy test shows positive, women officially enter the world of motherhood, and the marketing world tries to categorize them.

It's with good reason anyone would try to get a handle on the estimated 82.5 million women in the U.S. with children. According to the independent industry organization The Marketing to Moms Coalition, Moms represent the most powerful consumer group in the U.S., controlling 85% of household spending and estimated to be worth $2.1 trillion. The more marketers can understand these buyers and influencers, the better they can build and nurture a long-lasting (read: profitable) relationship with them.

However, it's not so easy to put a label on this group. There are at least 100 ways to carve up the Mom market. You could do it by location (D.C. or Silicon Valley), by their age or by their lifestyle. But what all Moms have in common is kids. What better way to slice up a multi-faceted, wide-ranging demographic than to create a Mom Timeline tracking the course of motherhood through the ages of their children?

Most Web sites and research groups focus on the early stages of a Mom's experience. Babycentersolutions.com identifies the Moms in their various age groups ("Millennial Moms," "Boomer Moms," etc.) but focuses on the first eight years of their children's lives, noting that it's during this period that Moms make more purchasing decisions.

I'd argue that, like the old adage, "a woman's work is never done," so is the timeline of a Mom. Once a Mom, always a Mom - you don't stop being a Mom when your kids turn 18. Instead, your relationships morph until the grandchildren come and the Mom Timeline cycles around again in various degrees.

Like Mamasource, an online community of Moms that advise each other, I'd prefer to dissect the Mom Timeline into small time periods based on age ranges. While Mamasource begins its timeline with the pre-birth stages of trying to conceive and pregnancy, as well as a special nod to adoption, I propose starting here:

* Infant (0-12 months): That first year of life with a baby can be tough, whether it's the first (I started with twins) or fifth. These mothers are dealing with a whole new world and are just trying to get some sleep. They've had nine months of baby product research and now have little time to really put them to any test but trial and error.

* Toddler (1-2 years): Moms at this stage have some experience behind them and have usually bonded with several groups of similar-stage Moms. Many are still grappling with sleep issues, starting potty training, toys, and the possibilities of more siblings.

* Preschooler (3-4 years): Several studies indicate that this is when mothers begin to consider the education options for their children. By the time their child is four, Moms have pretty much chosen private versus public and are often dealing with little brother or sister(s).

* Child (5-6 years): Kindergarten looms large over the early part of this phase; this is also when life shifts to a September-to-June calendar year.

* Older child (6-10 years): By now, most Moms are in the groove of raising their children. These are the good years! It's pre-hormone, pre-scary teenage years. Moms in this phase are concerned with homework, nutrition, extracurricular activities and starting to see that maybe, just maybe, they can start regaining a life of their own.

* Tween (11-14 years): Thus begins the hormonal, scary years, including junior high, high school and the expenses that entails. I ask you, how much technology does a 14-year-old need?

* Teen (15-19 years): While we tend to categorize the baby years as the most physically challenging, the teen years are the most emotionally challenging. Teens are taking those first steps into adulthood, trying to push away from parents. College (and the stressful process of choosing and applying) looms large for families now, as well as the painful evolution of an emptying nest.
* Adult Child: Yes, a Mom's role is never done, it just changes. Today's Moms remain in close contact with their adult children, offering support in ways the previous generation didn't.

* Grandchildren: Here, the timeline recycles starting with infants all over again. Many grandmoms participate in the raising of their grandchildren directly and indirectly. Some might not babysit, but many provide input.

Of course, Moms can be at multiple stages simultaneously. What is important for marketers to understand with the Mom Timeline are the needs of Moms at each stage of their children's lives. The days are long and the years are short, but the Mom Timeline is evergreen - it just keeps spinning around.
(source: mediapost.com, Mary Lee Shalvoy, March 25, 2009)