Category Archives: Marketing

Increase Sales by Answering Customers’ Questions

increasing revenueA small business owner slashes advertising budgets and doubles sales by answering questions customers had about his product and industry

By early 2009, his company, River Pools and Spas, a 20-employee installer of in-ground fiberglass pools in Virginia and Maryland, had a decline in orders from an average of six a month to barely two. That winter, four customers who had planned to install pools costing more than $50,000 each demanded their deposits back. For three consecutive weeks, the company overdrew its bank account.

Around this time, Mr. Sheridan began to overhaul his marketing. The company had been spending about $250,000 a year on radio, television and pay-per-click advertising. It would now cut the budget to about a tenth of that and focus on generating sales through informational blog posts and videos, what has become known as content marketing. But Mr. Sheridan took an unconventional approach to his content.

As a result, River Pools has recovered to exceed its peak pre-2007 revenue, and Mr. Sheridan, a 35-year-old father of four, has become something of a Web marketing guru. While he still owns a 33 percent interest in the pool company, his partners manage it day to day while he concentrates on his new venture, TheSalesLion.com. He recently spoke about his marketing approach in a conversation that has been edited and condensed.

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The Networking Disconnect

To some people, ‘networking’ is a dirty word. They cringe when thinking about going to a networking event. The reason for that is that most people do it wrong.

I was at a large networking event with more than five hundred people a few years ago. When I went up to do my presentation I began by asking the audience: “How many of you came here today hoping to do a little business–maybe make a sale?”  The overwhelming majority of the people in the audience raised their hands. I then asked, “How many of you are here today hoping to buy something?”

No one raised a hand–not one single person!

This is the networking disconnect.

10 Warning Signs Of Compulsive Networking

Adrian Miller, founder of sales consultancy Adrian Miller Sales Training in Port Washington, NY, says she’s always been a networker—but not always for her own good. In 2008 when the economy took a turn for the worse, Miller became nervous about the future of her business and went into extreme networking mode. “I started going to events morning, noon and night for five days a week hoping I would meet new clients,” she recalls. “I did it for months and was getting overwhelmed and just exhausted.”

On a vacation to Istanbul, Miller started thinking seriously about all the time she had committed to networking. She calculated how much revenue she’d gotten out of months of running around exchanging business cards and realized it was next to nothing. “When I saw I wasn’t getting a return on my time, I knew I had to get the compulsive behavior in check,” she says. “I had turned networking from a pleasant activity into a nightmare.”

While career coaches and success gurus expound on the virtues of networking—especially in a down economy—some professionals take it too far. Management and addiction specialists say they are seeing more people compulsively networking, obsessively growing the number of their connections online and wearing themselves out with little too show for it.

“Initially people want to promote their careers, but it can become obsessive,” says Dr. David Sack, an addiction psychiatrist and head of the Promises Treatment Centers in California. “Some people are looking for validation and recognition. It may be partly a self-esteem issue that gets gratified by numbers.”

Yet the compulsive pursuit of more and more connections will not ensure better networks. In fact, it will degrade them. “There’s an upper limit to the number of connections you can maintain of around 150 people,” says Columbia Business School professor Rita McGrath, noting that many people too aggressively pursue initial connections without investing the necessary time to strengthen and maintain those relationships. “In whatever format, more than 150 and the relationships are impersonal and the connections are weak.”

10 Business Card Mistakes You Might Be Making

Everyone should have a business card, right? Whether you have a business, a nonprofit, a local organization or are looking for a new job, you need a way to leave people with important information. But most make big mistakes on their cards.  Do you make these business card mistakes?

To write this post, I grabbed ten random business cards from a stack I received last week. So you can see I didn’t have to look far for examples.

So if you are ready, pull out your business card, lay it on the desk near your computer, pull out a pen or highlighter and be ready to identify the mistakes you are making

Here are the 10 business card mistakes people make:

  1.  Small font size
  2.  Glossy paper
  3.  Light font color
  4.  Design inconsistent with website
  5.  No links to social media sites
  6.  No email/web address or bad email
  7.  Printed on poor quality paper
  8.  Shares too much information
  9.  Includes no brand promise or tagline
  10.  Does not use back of card

More details in Tim Tyrell Smith’s article

4 states of the B2B buying decision process

In this article, Bob Apollo focuses on the concept that the B2B buying decision process typically occupy one of 4 states at any one point in time. These states are defined by two axes: whether or not your prospect has a clear vision of where they want to get to, and whether or not they have a clear idea of how they are going to get there.

4 States of the B2B Buyers Journey BandWThese 4 states:

  • Know where and how
  • Know where but not how
  • Know how but not where
  • Know neither where nor how

Are likely to result in dramatically different behaviors as they conduct their search for a solution.

Bob highlights some of the implications  and gives  some food for thought – in the remainder of this article.

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How To Be Creative

Creativity is not magic, and there’s no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It’s a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work.

The science of creativity is relatively new. Until the Enlightenment, acts of imagination were always equated with higher powers. Being creative meant channeling the muses, giving voice to the gods. (“Inspiration” literally means “breathed upon.”) Even in modern times, scientists have paid little attention to the sources of creativity.

But over the past decade, that has begun to change. Imagination was once thought to be a single thing, separate from other kinds of cognition. The latest research suggests that this assumption is false. It turns out that we use “creativity” as a catchall term for a variety of cognitive tools, each of which applies to particular sorts of problems and is coaxed to action in a particular way.

It isn’t a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed on us by the angels. It’s a skill that anyone can learn and work to improve.

Does the challenge that we’re facing require a moment of insight, a sudden leap in consciousness? Or can it be solved gradually, one piece at a time? The answer often determines whether we should drink a beer to relax or hop ourselves up on Red Bull, whether we take a long shower or stay late at the office.

The new research also suggests how best to approach the thorniest problems. We tend to assume that experts are the creative geniuses in their own fields. But big breakthroughs often depend on the naive daring of outsiders. For prompting creativity, few things are as important as time devoted to cross-pollination with fields outside our areas of expertise.

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There’s Basically Nothing You Can Say That Isn’t Trademarked

Can you confidently say that you have never in your life said the words, “It’s gonna be awesome?” If not, then you may be in shaky legal ground, as the phrase is trademarked. Benjamin Palmer, the stylishly disheveled chief executive of Barbarian Group, a digital marketing and creative agency in New York, says his colleagues initially registered his favorite catchphrase on a lark.

In the early days of the company, which was founded in 2001, Palmer would routinely use the phrase in project proposals. “I would write up conceptual treatments: ‘Here’s the idea—we think it’ll take six weeks and cost $200,000.’ I thought it was kind of a bummer to end a creative proposal with a price tag, so I always ended with ‘It’s gonna be awesome.’” The phrase soon became an office meme that culminated when Palmer’s colleagues dropped a stack of papers on his desk as a gift. “They had filed for an international trademark for ‘It’s gonna be awesome,’ kind of as a joke because it had gotten so ingrained in our culture.”

Bloomberg Businessweek compiled a list of everyday phrases you might not know are trademarked.

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Networking Advice: 5 Tips for an Effective Elevator Pitch

Tell me … what do you do, who you do it for, why you do it and what can you do for me?

And tell me quickly.

Such is the challenge of the elevator pitch – a personal marketing spiel seldom delivered in elevators, but a staple of networking.

A skillful elevator pitch can be the foundation upon which new professional relationships are built. A not-so-skillfull pitch will make sure you are forgotten — or, even worse, leave a bad impression with a potentially valuable contact.

“The perfect elevator pitch should take no more than 30 seconds and incorporate your number of years of experience, areas of expertise, key skills and some key projects or brands that you have been associated with,” says Jessica Bedford of niche recruiting firm Artisan Creative. “If there is anything that makes you stand out, work that into your pitch as well.”

Yes, easier said than done – but doable, nonetheless.

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Business Networking Without Looking Desperate: 5 Rules

Trying to squeeze business opportunity out of this economy is an arduous task at best. And as job numbers remain shakier than the Pacific Rim, the term “it’s who you know” is more relevant than ever for career development.

“Networking is something you should continually be doing,” says Ronn Torossian, CEO of the New York City-based 5W Public Relations firm. “It’s kind of like dating. Until you’re married, you always have to be dating. And when you’re married, you’re working on your relationship.”

That means networking can’t be something you put on a to-do list and check off once a month, and it needn’t be scheduled. “I was sitting next to this woman while having a pedicure and we started talking,” recalls Ross Ellis, CEO of Love Our Children USA, a national nonprofit working to break the cycle of violence against children and a New York City real estate agent with Halstead Property. One thing led to another, and soon Ellis had a speaking engagement for her charity: “She was a teacher and I asked her if she had a lot of bullying in her school.”

Sounds simple, but rub new contacts the wrong way and your network will shrink, not expand. Here’s how to become an expert networker, without ever being annoying, or worse, looking desperate:

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What The Pros Know About Networking That You Don’t

Building soft skills and deep personal relationships is a mystery to most of us. And what we don’t understand, we’re skeptical of.

That’s why we’re almost all skeptical of “networking” and “building relationships.” We all hear phrases like “The majority of jobs are found through personal contacts.” But how does that actually work? How do you go from knowing your friends to turning that into jobs?

We don’t understand how this works, so we create false dichotomies like…

  • “Whatever, networking is for douches”
  • “I’m not good at selling myself”
  • “I’d rather get a job based on WHAT I know instead of WHO I know”

The 5 Barriers to Becoming a Master Connector

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