Swag - What Works And What Doesn't

Swag - What Works And What Doesn't

(By Gil Gerretsen) There are a lot of foolish companies who buy stuff with their brand name imprinted on it, then pass it around to everyone they meet, and in the process think they are doing great marketing. Most are NOT!

Promotional products, also referred to as advertising specialties or swag, are generally used to remind prospects and customers about a business and build favorable attention. However, they're not much good if misunderstood or deployed in the wrong way.

Before proceeding, let me refresh your memory that 1) Marketing is the process of securing the interest of potential new customers, 2) Sales is the process of converting those new leads into paying customers, and 3) Retention is the process of optimizing those relationships over time.

More often than not, promotional products are given to people who already know the company. Giveaways serve to endear the company to people who already know and like them. In most instances, that makes them a sales tool, and more likely a retention tool.

However, if you change your thinking, you CAN convert them into a marketing tool that will drive new leads into your marketing stream. The key element to consider is what your gift recipient would use in the presence of someone else who might also be a potential customer. It should trigger a "Hey, what's that" conversation that requires telling a story that includes your business. If no conversation happens, then the giveaway is wasted money.

For example, how many branded pens have you received over your lifetime? Has anyone ever asked you about one of them? Has that generated business for the issuer of the pen? Probably not. I have a bunch sitting in my office drawer. I appreciate the free office supplies, but it doesn't cause me to pick up the phone and tell a friend about the thoughtful person who gives away free office supplies. I just use it until the ink runs out and then toss it away.

So, try a different approach. Think about what people use or do when in the presence of other people who might be a fit for you. Perhaps at an industry event or networking event. I don't give people free pens, but I HAVE given them pocket/purse sized "Networking Booklets" that they can (and do) use to make quick notes about people they meet. They stick the business cards into each little page with their note. Someone looking on often asks a question about that process. Bingo, a conversation about BizTrek begins.

Here's your call to action. Go look at the stuff you give away. Why? Does it create the right kind of conversations? Could you use it differently? Could you use something else that would do the job better?

Finally, if you have a promotional product that works well to drive new leads, share your ideas and insights on BizTrek's Linkedin page.

Emails That Sell - The Intrigue Rule

Emails That Sell - The Intrigue Rule

(By Gil Gerretsen) One of the questions I get more than any other is about crafting marketing emails that get results. Although most people believe they can write effective marketing emails, the truth is that few do.

There are several important elements, but none is more vital than the “Intrigue Rule.” Make an all-out effort to intrigue your recipient right from the start (if you don’t then you never will). Why? It’s because people quickly shift to other matters that seem more interesting.

This means that your email’s subject line must immediately engage their sense of curiosity. Then your first sentence should build on that promise and quickly lay the foundation for what will follow. Focus only on them. Nobody cares about you, just how you can help them.

Keep the message short and sweet. Keep rewriting it until it is as short as possible. Aim for 4-5 sentences with no more than 15-17 words per sentence. Don’t be afraid to show some personality either. Be human. Be YOU. Be interesting. Show them who’s at the other end. However, make your request clear. Never lose sight of what the ONE call to action is. Focus on getting them to take that next step.

I will share more on this subject in the next few PepTalks. Do you have peers who need to write better marketing emails? Make sure they get these PepTalks too.

Does Your Business Have A High Percentage Of Returning Customers?

Does Your Business Have A High Percentage Of Returning Customers?

(By Gil Gerretsen) The leaders of great businesses are economically and profit oriented, and as a result, have a penchant for creating businesses with lots of repeat customers. If you want to create wealth from your business, that’s how you do it!

Repeat customers are the ones that drive large profit margins. Having lots of returning customers means you don’t have to work as hard, nor spend as much money, attracting a new one. Repeat customers are also more likely to refer friends of comparable quality and value.

However, don’t think you can sit back and rest on your laurels. Even the most loyal customers need a reason to keep coming back, so super successful leaders are always looking for new ways to draw them in, often seeing and creating what they need long before those customers even knew they needed it.

What if you have a product or service that people don’t use frequently? Then change your thinking about who you might need to cultivate. Repeat referral sources … people who consistently send others to you … can also be a gold mine.

Do You Think Like An Outsider?

Do You Think Like An Outsider?

(By Gil Gerretsen) I was visiting with a client yesterday and they were telling me about a referral they received at a conference. This was a potential vendor — someone they might want to buy from.

The source of the referral said the company had a booth at the show, so my client went looking for them. Couldn’t find them! They looked at the list of all the exhibitors and still couldn’t find them. After the show, they discovered that the company had a booth under their obscure corporate name (i.e. ABC Inc), not the brand name they were commonly known by. They were also in the show directory as that business name. Their brand was nowhere to be seen.

You’d think that any half-savvy marketing person would know better. How many leads or referrals did they miss because nobody recognized them or because nobody could find them? Sadly, I see or hear about errors like this far too often.

To the people inside the company, things seem obvious. They don’t think like an outsider. The insiders assume that the outsiders know what they know. That the outsiders think like they think. Seldom is that true. Scientific marketers assume nothing. They concentrate first on thinking like outsiders and try to see the world through their eyes. Do you?

Avoid Panic Advertising

Avoid Panic Advertising

(By Gil Gerretsen) Many small business owners waste their limited resources by not being careful about where, when and how they advertise. What IS advertising? It’s the paid placement of a message to promote the goods or services of a business … and there’s a few simple tips that can help you get it right every time.

First, don’t fall prey to every skilled ad rep that comes along. They know how to push your buttons to maximize their own commission check. You must know exactly what you want before inviting them in.

Second, don’t become a panic advertiser. Panic advertising occurs when sales are slow and the business owner starts to worry. They start swinging their piñata stick in desperate ways. Sales reps pick up on that quickly and they’ll sell you anything they think you’ll buy, whether it’s right for you or not.

Third, design your message by speaking to your prospective customer. Build their interest by talking about them, not you. The headline is the primary source of your success. It’s not the name of your business but rather how you’ll make their life better in some way. They only care about who you are AFTER they discover what difference you’ll make.

Finally, be consistently patient. Advertising is not an instant success formula. It takes some time. Know where you should show up to reach your audience and then meet them there on a regular basis. People grant trust slowly and carefully.

Do You Have Enough Marketing Channels?

Do You Have Enough Marketing Channels?

(By Gil Gerretsen) Some people call it the marketing diving board. Others call it marketing myopia. Basically, it's a singular or narrow-minded marketing disorder that focuses only on a particular marketing tactic to grow a company.

Seasoned entrepreneurs and professionals know that no single method of marketing will be enough to reach and motivate the vast majority of their prospective customers. In fact, you'll need a diversified range of tactics to use on a consistent basis. More than one, or two, or even three. You'll need a balanced blend of perhaps 10-12 marketing activities to use on a consistent basis.

Big companies can waste and throw a lot of money around, but smaller businesses with smaller budgets need wisdom on each marketing tactic or channel. You need a strong commitment to a realistic plan that invests adequate resources of both time and money. Use the coming holiday and planning seasons to evaluate what you are doing and whether it is well-diversified.

The E-Cubed Formula

The E-Cubed Formula

(By Gil Gerretsen) In our work with entrepreneurs and salespeople, we often see that their natural inclinations are to tell people about their product or service in a logical and forthright way. Unfortunately, that's not why or how people become interested in new products or services. Logic only becomes relevant after the emotions have been triggered.

Here's the little sign you should put in your office. WIIFM = What's In It For Me!

To bring clarity to WIIFM, you must understand that people's emotions are best reached through images and feelings. Strong images create an emotional reaction. Strong reactions or experiences in turn bring up deep-seated feelings that trigger certain behaviors. If you understand that vital process, you'll need to know the E-CUBED Formula -- Entertain + Engage + Enrich.

To capture people's attention and interest, you must first provide a measure of entertainment (images, stories, humor etc). To draw them into closer orbit rather than see them spin away, you must then engage them (trigger an emotional response). Once sufficiently engaged, they will instinctively begin seeking information that will enrich their life in that specific arena. As you continue to enrich their life, a bond of trust and preference will be established.

Why Some Companies Grow Faster Than Others

Why Some Companies Grow Faster Than Others

(By Gil Gerretsen) Almost every entrepreneur I meet seeks to build a substantial and influential company, but many are structured the wrong way to ever do so. Want to know the simple secret? Making a little from a bunch of people is ultimately much wiser than trying to make a bunch from a few people.

The wealthiest entrepreneurs designed their businesses to serve lots of people. Whether it’s B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer), they fill an important need for a market that is wide enough to provide a substantial base, but still narrow enough to be specialized and distinctive.

These entrepreneurs habitually look for ways to serve or impact the most people. If they're going to do it, they do it big. They put themselves in a business that is ubiquitous. It doesn't have overly narrow limits. Otherwise, it is tough to have perceived value and scale upwards.

However, there is one significant variance from how most people approach their effort. Although these highly successful people think big, they actually start small. They quietly refine their processes as quickly as possible and then expand as marketplace interest grows.

By contrast, wrong way” entrepreneurs want to start big. They seek lots of fanfare and venture capital early in the process. Most burn out because they could not ramp up with the growth in attention, and performance faltered as a result.

Take a moment today to look at your business with this in mind. If your prospect and customer base is small and refined, then perhaps you should shift your marketing mindset towards a profitable boutique mindset … or rethink your business model towards a more ubiquitous impact.

Are You A Chronic Problem Solver?

Are You A Chronic Problem Solver?

(By Gil Gerretsen) I was having coffee with a fellow who was interested in launching a business of his own and the conversation turned to why some entrepreneurs are far more successful than others. I pointed out that, in my opinion, the primary distinctive is that they almost universally have a problem solving mentality. They are driven by a deep-seated desire to fix something in the world around them and then take concrete action to fix those problems. They can’t help themselves.

In media interviews with self-made billionaires, this propensity for problem-solving is one thing that consistently stands out. At first, they are seldom doing it for the money. Typically, they have worked in the field long enough to have a solid awareness and understanding of an emerging problem and it's implications. They also have a genuine empathy for the people impacted by the problem and a deep-seated desire is to mitigate that problem for those people (sometimes they are one of those people).

As chronic problem solvers, they then use their knowledge and imagination to convert their empathy into a business idea with broad potential. By identifying an under-exploited marketplace need before others recognize it, they find themselves in a unique position to use that obstacle to advantage by developing an inventive solution and subsequently launching a business. Sometimes, it's a simple idea that becomes a blockbuster solution.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, or have already launched down that path, never lose sight of the problem that needs to be solved.

A Business Blood Test?

A Business Blood Test?

(By Gil Gerretsen) I recently had a physical and blood test as part of my annual wellness process. The next day, my physician called to tell me that all my results were "within normal limits." That's good, right? My wife might question the "normal" part for every aspect, but that's a different matter. ;) However, this got me wondering. How many companies have a yearly "Business Blood Test" to see if things are within normal limits. I've written in the past about the 5M's (Mechanics, Money, Manpower, Marketing and Management) ... which would serve as a good foundation for the annual Business Blood Test. Maybe it's time to talk to your busness advisors and partners in each of the areas and have them test your "business blood."