Marketing

Sowing seeds of prosperity

The Two Farmers

Once upon a time there were two farmers.

The first farmer planted his seeds early, watered regularly, and sprayed for bugs.

The second farmer planted late, watered when he could, and never sprayed, because...well, who has time for that?

He did buy a super duper crop that a friend of his told him about that was guaranteed to work with no effort at all.

When it came time for the harvest, the first farmer did well. Really well!

The second farmer, not so much. He had a couple of good crops, but mostly weeds.
He didn’t understand. He planted a few things, but really, this whole farming thing must not work. The first farmer must have just been lucky!

The first farmer wasn’t really a better farmer. He was however, more focused and patient.

Marketing your business is very similar.

When one busy professional, has a plan, is different, and markets regularly he is “lucky.”

When another wings it, sounds the same, and markets only when he is not busy (which is never) he is not so lucky.

The question is, do you want to create your own marketing luck?

Of course you do!  Click the pic below to plant your own seeds!

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The advantage you are not using

Ava, Lilly, and Lane, Easter 2016, v3.jpg

I remember attending one of my very first networking events where entrepreneurs exchanged leads.  I sat there eagerly waiting on my turn.  I had rehearsed my elevator pitch and had it down to a pat.  However, being the good little networker, I wanted to make sure I took good notes and listened intently to what others had to say.

  • First, an insurance agent.  He had years of experience, put customers first, and was very knowledgeable.
  • Next, a real estate agent.  She put customers first, was very knowledgeable, and she had years of experience
  • Then it was the financial advisor’s turn.  He had years of experience, was very knowledgeable, and put customers first.

Seriously.  It happened just like that.  Then an I.T. professional, mortgage broker, and consultant basically gave the same elevator pitch.  And one of them told a joke.  A lame joke:(

After 45 minutes, I had a fistful of business cards of people in different industries and couldn’t tell you the difference in any of them.

What is the difference between you and your competition?  If you don’t know, you can bet your customer doesn’t know either.

Are you faster, more flexible, more creative, are you truly the expert in this industry, are you available 24/7, offer a unique technology, serve a particular customer, have the best partnerships, ship faster, deliver sooner, etc.?

It doesn’t need to be all of these things.  One will do.  Just make sure to do it well.  And once you identify it, build your brand around it and make yourself stand out in a crowd.

If you don’t find a distinct competitive advantage, you won’t find more business.  You will simply find more mediocrity.

Check out what Barry Associates did to start the process of letting potential clients know they are different.

Ready to stand out in a crowd and display your competitive advantage? Good.  Click the image below!

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Fix What Ain't Broke!

You have heard the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Works great with toilet paper. Seriously, what’s there to fix?

However, I can’t say the same for your business.  Or mine for that matter.

Recently I’ve changed my videos.  Instead of just whiteboard videos with no animation, I now have fully animated videos.  

 

Why?  The whiteboard videos were great, people bought them, and I got great feedback.

But I want to stay ahead of the curve and step up my game.

The result?  Increased sales, custom characters, and even better feedback.  

And as for you, think of it this way:

“If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would've said ‘a faster horse’" - Henry Ford

It is about incremental improvement.  Standing still in today’s market is the same as giving up.  It is easy to only do what has always worked.  The problem with that is ignoring change.  And change is constant.

And it’s scary, because you could fail.  The scarier part…you could do nothing.

Odds are that you are doing 3-5 things to market your business.  And it is the same 3-5 things you were doing a year ago.  It is time to “fix some things that may not be broken.”

  • How much content are you creating and sharing?
  • Have you added video to your site, social media, or email marketing?  (70% of internet traffic is video)
  • Do you have a really strong process for following up with past customers and current referrals?
  • Are you taking on speaking engagements that let you brand yourself as the expert?

This doesn’t mean that you should trash everything you are doing, but it does mean you should make some incremental changes.

Ready to do something scary?  No, not eating at Applebee's.  

I mean get cool video that let's you stand out.  Yes?  Good.  Click the GIF below!  Now!

CLICK THE GIF!  ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING IT!

CLICK THE GIF!  ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING IT!

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One Smart Way to Increase Referrals

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Okay, you are going to hate this.  Why?  Because you already know the answer.  However, have you done it? 

Ask your existing clients for referrals! 

Yes, it is that easy.  How often do you ask your best clients for referrals?  If you think that they will simply send them because you are just so awesome, you are wrong.  Your clients are very, very busy people with their own problems.  Sending you referrals is the last thing on their minds.   

And you want to ask your best clients.  My good friend, motivational speaker Tony Robbins (and by good friend, I mean I once bought a DVD set of his) says “People hang out with two types of folks - 1) People that are like them and 2) People they want to be like.”

Before you just blindly send a sad looking email template asking for referrals, consider personalizing the request.  Go through your ten best clients and find something amazing you did for them, and call them (yes, call) and ask if they have anybody they know that would like the same experience.

Also, going into the future, the best time to ask for a referral, is as soon as you have delivered your product or service. 

For example, if I have done a bang up job creating a whiteboard video for a financial advisor and they say, “Wow Charles, this is the greatest thing ever!  Even better than the time I met your good friend Tony Robbins.”, I will then immediately follow up with a request for a solid referral to a financial advisor friend of theirs in another geographic market or a like-minded business, such as a CPA.  

And it should go without saying, that you need fresh content to stay top of mind with your clients, so when you ask for a referral, it won't feel like it is out of the blue.  Check out the link below for the best content to post.

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Easy steps to marketing yourself today!

Marketing is much more than simply advertising or posting something on your favorite social media site.  Let’s take a look at five steps to get your marketing refreshed and ready.

  1. Fine tune your focus  - Know what your strengths are and play to them.  Identify the top two or three areas you can focus on and hone your craft.  For example, be a financial advisor that specializes in educating your clients.  Do not just be another financial advisor.
  2. Who are your customers? -  Since you can’t be all things to all people, not everyone can be your customer.  It’s important to identify the types of customers that want what you are selling, that are willing to pay for it, and focus on them.
  3. Competitive advantage - I’ve sat in a room full of eager insurance agents that are expressing how wonderful their agency is, dozens of times.  They have years of experience, the best coverage for the price, and even a story of adequate customer service.  And when it’s all said and done, I couldn’t tell you the difference from one  to the next.   It’s up to you to know what makes your business unique and find a way to express that regularly.
  4. Marketing message and promotion - Marketing is not doing a lot of different things once.  After you have identified what you do and who your customer is, it is up to you to deliver your message.  Have a marketing budget that consists of 2% - 8% of your monthly fixed expenses and spend it promoting a consistent message that clearly states who you are, the competitive advantage you offer, the types of customers you work with and the desired result.  Email marketing, social media, and networking offer the slowest, but steadiest growth for most small businesses.
  5. Schedule your activities and track your progress - Schedule the activities and do not let anything interrupt it and then do it! 

If you are looking for a good example, check out this real estate agent's video.  She identifies  who she is working with,  what she does, what her advantage is, and promotes it regularly.  And the cool thing with video and email is that it is easy to schedule and track.

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Why You Aren't Getting New Customers

Many of you whom I have met may have noticed I have a teensy bit of a hair problem.  This is not new.   I have been shaving my head for 19 years and have always been a loyal Mach 3 user.  Well one day, I ran out of my Mach 3 blades.  It was bad.  Five o’clock shadow on my head is not a good look.  My lovely wife Sarah, aka the Coupon Queen, had a solution.  She recently obtained a deeply discounted Schick Quattro.  Oh yes, the four blade razor.  I didn’t really have a choice.  I used it.  And you know what, it wasn’t too bad.  In fact, it did a fine job.

   What does this have to do with the busy professionals of the world? 

So many times we give up on our marketing efforts toward a very specific type of customer we want, because they don’t respond immediately.  If we don’t get instant gratification, we try something else. 

Think about it like this:

  • I did 7 sit ups yesterday and I’m still 40 pounds overweight.
  • I put half a tank of gas in my car last week and now my car doesn’t run again.
  • We put our house on the market last Saturday and we still don’t have any offers.

Sounds absurd, right?  But that’s what we do every day with our business.  We’ll try one or two random things for a short period, get frustrated, and move on.

Persistence is the key to getting new customers.

  • If you are implementing a social media campaign, do not expect 1,000 likes and twice the revenue in a week.  It will take time, good content, and a lot of interaction.
  • If you are sending a newsletter, try it out for several months, before you declare people aren't responding to it.  By the way, make sure you have good content.
  • If you are networking and prospecting, do it several times a week.  Not once in a while, as you have time.  Also, make it a point to identify other people you want to work with and give them a reason to want to work with you.  If they are already using your competitor don’t just give up and say they don’t need me.  You never know when they will run out of blades:)
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Stop Telling Us YOUR Story!

So often we hear about the importance of selling with a story.  And rightfully so.

Stories sell 118% better than facts!  

Just tell the right story.  Your customers don't want to hear your story. YOUR story is boring!  Even if you are the best in the industry, support insert-hot-cause-of-moment-here, and just completed a half-marathon.  Again.  

The story they want to hear is THEIR story.  Their story is interesting!  

Make sure you frame your product or service in a way that recognizes the customer, their problem, what the solution is, and end with a fabulous result, i.e. a HAPPY ending to their story.

Check out this whiteboard video that American Furniture Repair uses to tell their customer's story.   

So today, think about one way you can tell your customer's story.  They will thank you.  With money.

And if you want want a super simple content calendar that will help you tell stories, click below!

If you want a whiteboard video to tell your customer's story let me know at yourcharlesalexander@gmail.com or call me at 615-594-7094.

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