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Prepare for Lift Off!

Last time I gave you a laundry list of tips and tricks you can use to make your word of mouth program work for you. Hopefully you’ve taken a look and decided which ones are the best fit for your company, products, services and target customers, so you can put them to work in your word of mouth campaign.

We are going to wrap up this series on word of mouth where we give you the specific steps to create a word of mouth campaign.

Now, let’s take a look at those steps:

  1. Seed the market. Find some way to get the product into the hands of key influencers.
  2. Provide a channel for the influencers to talk and get all fired up about your product.
  3. Offers lots of testimonials and other resources.
  4. Form an ongoing group that meets once a year in a resort and once a month by teleconference.
  5. Create fun events to bring users together and invite non-users. Saturn, Harley-Davidson, and Lexus have all been successful with this approach.
  6. Develop cassettes, videotapes, and clips on your Web site featuring enthusiastic customers talking with other enthusiastic customers.
  7. Create custom CDs for each potential customer.
  8. Hold seminars and workshops.
  9. Create a club with membership benefits.
  10. Pass out flyers.
  11. Tell friends.
  12. Offer special incentives and discounts for friends who tell their friends.
  13. Put the Internet to work.
  14. Do at least one outrageous thing to generate word of mouth.
  15. Empower employees to go the extra mile.
  16. Encourage networking and brainstorm ideas.
  17. Run special sales.
  18. Encourage referrals with the use of a strong referral program.
  19. Use a script to tell people exactly what to say in their word of mouth communication.

These are all amazing ways you can get the word out about your products and services and start a word of mouth campaign that takes on a life of its own. Before you can release your word of mouth campaign out into the world, you need to go through the checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the essentials.

Here’s your word of mouth campaign checklist:

  1. Are all of your communications sending the same simple message? If it can’t survive word of mouth, it’s not a compelling story.
  2. Is your product positioned as part of a category? Ex.”A dandruff shampoo that doesn’t dry your hair.”
  3. Are your examples outrageous enough to be shared?
  4. Do you enhance your materials with success stories from real people?
  5. Are you using experts effectively and in an objective manner?
  6. Have you created mechanisms so people can follow up on the word of mouth they hear, as well as simple ways of inquiring or ordering?
  7. Have you made the decision process easy for customers?
  8. Have you created events and mechanisms so that once a year your prospects hear about your product, and it is easier to try or buy?

These are all essential elements to take keep in mind when taking a second or even third check over your word of mouth campaigns. I hope you’ve found this series on word of mouth to be a great resource and are getting ready to put it into action for your own products and services.

Remember, if you need help with anything in this series, try our GUIDED TOUR to gain access to the best resources, tools and business coaches you can find.

Decoding WOM Messages

Decoding WOM Messages

Today’s lesson will talk about how word of mouth messages are delivered and how you can influence those messages.

There are essentially 3 methods of word of mouth:

  • Expert to Expert
  • Expert to Peer
  • Peer to Peer

 

When experts are talking about your products or service you will usually receive an amazing rush of sales and new customers, so obviously this is one of the best things that can happen. You can also help to facilitate this by offering free products to experts for them to review.

Expert opinion can also bring about new ideas that help to fuel new products, services and operating systems within your company. If you take the time to change or develop the opinions of even a small group of experts, you will have the opportunity to help your market explode.

There is a standard word of mouth delivery system that, in most cases, takes a few years. But you can speed this up into only a few weeks. The standard system is:

  • First impressions from an expert
  • Organized trial of your products or services
  • Pooling peer experiences

 

It’s important to know exactly who is advocating for your products and service. Take the time to find out who they are and reward them. While, you may already have a customer service system for filing complaints, do you have one for compiling praise? Most likely not. If you take the time to show these people appreciation, they will help take your products and services to the top.

  • Some of the ways you can show them appreciation are:
  • Invite them to a customer appreciation dinner
  • Offer to video tape their testimonials
  • Ask to interview them for feedback to improve with
  • Offer them a premier customer membership
  • Ask them to join a referral incentive program

 

There are lots of things you can offer your biggest fans to help spread the word about your products and services.

Conventional media has been around forever and while it can still be effective, it’s lost a little of its luster over the last few years. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Expensive and doesn’t necessarily return results
  • Boring, lacking something fresh and new
  • Too short of a time slot to offer enough information

 

While these are all true, there are ways you can make conventional media work for you. For the information to be effective it needs to be presented in the right sequence, come from the right sources, be relevant to the target customer, be credible and be delivered at the right time in the medium.

We’re going to switch gears a little and talk about the two phases of the product adoption cycle. Traditional media is great for taking you through the information stage where you can offer the information you need to your potential customers, but it’s not so great for measuring the results of those efforts.

Without these results you can’t fine tune your marketing and therefore can easily miss the boat and lose potential customers and waste a whole lot of money. Once a consumer has the information they need, they’ll go through a verification process as they analyze whether the purchase was a good one. They generally get their information through:

  • Direct experience with the product
  • Interaction with peers using the same product
  • Experts’ experience
  • Scientific journals and other resources
  • Independent reviews and opinions
  • You can accelerate this process by:
  • Providing your own demo’s and free trials
  • Offer them indirect experience through the experience of others
  • Offer a good true story that can be passed around

 

Once you have the ability and can work through these concepts, you will be able to target your customers much better. If you need help with any of this along the way, try our GUIDED TOUR to gain access to our experienced business coaches.

Maximize Your Resources – Part 2

Last time we talked about the first three areas to work through in maximizing your current resources. They were:

  • Recognize the obvious
  • Unconventional breakthroughs
  • Face the facts

 

Today we’ll cover the next three, which are:

  • Reveal your business’ soul
  • From breaking even to breaking the bank
  • Stand up and stand out

 

Reveal Your Business’ Soul

Every business has a soul and you likely felt it the strongest when your business was just starting. It’s that passion, newness and momentum you had at the very beginning. Sometimes that can get lost along the way as your business gets stagnant and set in its ways. You have to break out of that rut and get back to your business’ true soul.

The philosophy of putting your client’s needs above your own is the true key to success. You need to serve your clients not sell to them. They want to build a relationship based on trust, not a used car. Add to these responsibilities your ability to solve problems, handle special situations, be a friend to your clients and focus on offering valuable, high quality products/services. Only then will you get back to the basics and find you have more resources than you thought.

From Breaking Even to Breaking the Bank

One of the classic and most used ways to attract clients is to offer them a ridiculously low price on their initial purchase and lock them in for future purchases. You see this approach with movie or book clubs and even credit card companies who offer lower interest rates for the first six months.

Essentially, you are offering them a deal on their first purchase and then you offer them back-end and add-on products along the way. These are naturally higher prices and will bring them in to more of an intimate relationship with you and your company.

Stand Up and Stand Out

You need to stand out from the pack among your competitors. They only way you can do this through consistency and value. You do this by discovering what your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is and perfecting it. Here are some tips to help you find and develop your USP:

  1. Look for unfilled needs in your industry.
  2. Use preemptive marketing.
  3. Use a technique that is clear and to the point.

This wraps up this post. If you need help with any of these areas and techniques, try our GUIDED TOUR to access a wealth of resources and tools.

Maximize Your Resources – Part 1

Over the next few posts we’re going to talk about how to take a hard look at your current resources and get the most out of them. This can help your capital go further and increase your profit margin.

Today we’ll cover three different ways to maximize what you already have. These include:

  • Recognize the obvious
  • Unconventional breakthroughs
  • Face the facts

 

Recognize the Obvious

Sometimes when you are too close to something, you can’t make out the big picture. You need to step back and really take a hard look at the resources you currently have in front of you. You are surrounded by opportunities that can boost your career and help your business become more successful.

Unconventional Breakthroughs

Don’t sit around waiting for breakthroughs you need to create them yourself. A breakthrough is merely a new way of doing things or finding a new thing to do for the same or better results. You should be having regular brainstorming sessions and encouraging your team to come forward with breakthroughs or ideas any time they have them.

Some great examples of breakthroughs are:

  • A health and beauty company discovers a side effect of a product that can be re-marketed and sold.
  • A company creates a roll-on deodorant inspired by the shape and size of a ball point pen.
  • The founder of Nike poured rubber onto a waffle iron and created the most innovative and successful running shoe ever.

 

When attracting or strategizing for a breakthrough there are some key objectives you need to keep in mind. They are:

  1. Look for the hidden opportunity in every situation.
  2. Look for at least on cash windfall for your business every three months.
  3. The more value for your client, the better your breakthrough.
  4. Create multiple streams of idea to find the best breakthroughs.
  5. Effective breakthroughs remove all risk or resistance.

Face the Facts

Before you can put your breakthroughs to work you need to face the facts of the processes and systems that are not working for you and work to correct or get rid of them. System analysis is a good way to do this. Once you have a listing of your strengths and weaknesses, you need to compare those to the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

There are some great questions you can present to you and your team to get a handle on where your business is right now. They are:

  1. Why did I first start this business? Why am I in this industry?
  2. What products/services did I offer then? Which were the most popular?
  3. Why are my customers/clients buying from me right now?
  4. How did I generate new customers/clients then?
  5. Which of my marketing efforts were bringing in the best results?

Once you’ve got some answers to these questions, you’ll know better how to approach your weaknesses.

These three areas we’ve gone over give you a jumping off point for how to utilize your current resources to their fullest potential. If you need any help with your strategic or systems analysis, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with one of our amazing business coaches.

5 Killer Mistakes pt. 2

In the last post we covered the first two of the 5 biggest mistakes you can make in dealing with big fish clients. Today we’ll cover the third and fourth ones: Taking on More Than You Can Handle.

When you take on too much, your business can’t keep up and therefore you can easily lose control of everything and find yourself barely functioning. You want your business to be successful, no doubt, but you need to have a plan for how you will handle the growth. Your clients expect great customer service and highly quality products/services, they don’t know or care about your behind the scenes operations to get those things done.

  • Look for these signs that you are taking on more than you can handle:
  • Clients’ needs aren’t being met.
  • Employee morale is low, clients are upset and you’re in a panic.
  • You have to react in emergency mode to save accounts.
  • Your current clients are suffering from trying to keep up with new business.
  • Profits are going down.
  • You are just trying to pick up the pieces of your business.
  • Your clients/customers leave.
  • Resources are being reallocated.

 

There a trick called the Mock Fish Plan. This plan can help you react positively when you are facing some or all of these things and help you get your business back on track. This plan will:

  • Help increase sales in a short period of time.
  • Alter your products/services for the better.
  • Fulfill promises you made to your clients.

 

There are six steps to this plan:

  1. Bring in your best team and have them all help to meet the fish needs.
  2. Review your operational system.
  3. Anticipate future problems better.
  4. Communicate better.
  5. Include costs in your quotes.
  6. Always have a back-up plan.

All Your Eggs in One Basket

You can allow your company to become dependent on any one fish. Eventually or for certain periods there is going to be a slowing down period with your fish. In order to stay in the game you need to diversify.

If you’ve ever mishandled a fish, you could drive away potential fish as well. In order to keep balance and prepare for a strong future, there are a few things you can do.

  • These things include:
  • Stay in the loop and try to know what’s going on inside your fish company.
  • Constantly reinvent yourself and stay at the top of your industry.
  • Stay exclusive.
  • Try to secure multi-year commitments and contracts.
  • Spread your contracts out.
  • Price your products/services correctly.

 

You also need to work to reduce your dependency on your fish. This can generally be measures in sales or profits. Take a look back at the process we’ve used thus far to snag more fish to keep this all in balance.

These are the ways you can help avoid the killer mistakes that can make you lose it all. If you need help with any of these tips or tricks, try our GUIDED TOUR to get the help you need fast.

Next time we’ll talk about the last of the killer mistakes and how to combat it from hitting your business hard.

5 Killer Mistakes! part 1

There are 5 big mistakes you can do that will kill a deal with a big fish. They are:

  1. Not meeting the client’s expectations
  2. Mishandling a client crisis
  3. Taking on more than you can handle
  4. Putting all your eggs in one basket
  5. Up cash creek without a paddle

Any one or combination of these can not only kill the partnership, but have the ability to take down your company as well. We’re going to take a bit of time to talk about each one of these, in this lesson we’ll cover the first two.

Not Meeting Client’s Expectations

It’s essential you give your client’s exactly what you promised during the negotiation portion of your relationship. If an event does happen where there is no way to meet the client’s expectations, not only do you have to find a way to fix the situation, but you also have to find out where it all went wrong.

A couple of things could have contributed to this problem:

  1. Bad salesmanship. This could mean the salesperson was trying too hard to seal the deal and didn’t listen to the client’s needs.
  2. Lack of communication. This breakdown occurs between the salesperson and your operations department.

In order to avoid these mistakes, you need to put a clear plan of action into place that all of your sales staff needs to follow:

  • Think before you speak.
  • Give yourself a break.
  • Perfect your process.
  • Pre-format over-deliverables.
  • Stay hands-on throughout the entire process.
  • Define success.

Mishandling a Client Crisis

Crisis’ will happen, but how you respond and fix them will define your company and interaction with your clients’. You need to respond quickly and effectively. This will help you gain even more trust and confidence from your client.

Some simple tips can help you deal with any client crisis:

  • Take responsibility and apologize no matter who is at fault.
  • Act swiftly and effectively.
  • Step in and take control of the situation.
  • Never point fingers or place blame.
  • Stay in constant communication with your client.
  • Stay calm throughout the situation.
  • Keep your eye on the ball.

Now, that you know the top two mistakes you can make to kill a big fish deal, you’ll know better how to avoid making these mistakes in the first place and know how to put a plan of action into place in case of a crisis.

If you need help with any of this, try our GUIDED TOUR to get all the help you could ever need.

Next time we’ll talk about the 3rd and 4th killer mistake you can make in working with big fish clients.

Keep Up the Momentum

Keep Up the Momentum

In the last post we talked about negotiating with your big fish and how to nurture and build on the relationships you are creating. Today we’ll talk about the power your fish has and how to utilize that for your benefit.

One of the most important aspects of this is to keep your cheerleader cheering. This refers to the ally you created in the company and who needs to stay loyal to you for you to continue a profitable partnership with your fish. You can keep your champion going by offering or doing a number of things to show appreciation. Some of these things are:

  • Share the limelight.
  • Help them thank their company with new products and services.
  • Emotionally connect them to your company.
  • Know when to leave them alone.
  • Keep your “family” happy.
  • Stay on the front lines.

 

Now that you have some ideas of how to build solid relationships, you need to seek out people to build these relationships with. These alliances will help you get bigger clients that stay with you forever. You can often get in the door by offering them something in exchange for something they need:

  1. Power
  2. Information
  3. Better work experience

These are all great ways to feed your alliance. You need to go into a relationship considering the things a big fish can offer you besides money. These can include:

  • The opportunity for your business to expand
  • The opportunity to learn from the experience and find ways to grow
  • The opportunity to improve your processes, systems and other means of doing business

 

These are some of the best ways to keep your alliances going strong and your partnerships fresh and content.

If you need help with any of these tactics, try our GUIDED TOUR for great tools and resources that can help you every step of the way.

Who’s Your MVP?

In the last post we talked about making first contact with your prospective big fish and how to make a positive first impression. Today we’re going to talk about feeling out the personality of your prospective big fish to match the right salesperson to the fish.

You need to do this in two steps:

  1. Profile your salespeople’s personalities.
  2. Match the right salesperson to your target fish.

There are essentially three different selling personalities:

  • Sage
  • Pal
  • Pit Bull

 

The Sage

This salesperson offers knowledge, experience, comfort and trust. They can make a concerned customer feel at ease. In order to be successful they need plenty of information, a demo of the product/service, references and case studies, if possible.

The Pal

Much like it sounds this is a salesperson that shines at building relationships. They can instantly relate to the prospective client and make them seem like old friends in no time. They work best with clients who are looking for friendship, information and in a similar peer group as the salesperson. This can include anything from age and culture to hobbies and nightlife. While, sharing experiences can be beneficial to creating a new relationship, your salesperson must always keep it professional and dignified. The resource’s this personality type needs is help pairing with the right client, entertainment (or schmoozing) budget and the right information to meet the client’s needs.

The Pit Bull

Obviously, this personality type is a little more aggressive than the others. They are all about business and the bottom line. While this may seem harsh to a lot of people, there is a set of business people out there that want the same thing and respect someone who can get down to business and the benefits of a partnership. This salesperson will need to be trusted with a little authority as they will likely be closing deals on the spot. They’ll need plenty of resources and access to products and services. They are best placed in environments where they can work independently, exercise their authorative discretion and seal deals quickly.

These can all be successful when each is used in the right selling environment. You can easily see how matching the right salesperson for the client can secure more big fish and for a longer period of time.

If you need help figuring out which of your salespeople fit into these three areas, try our GUIDED TOUR and work with one of our amazing coaches to get your big fish plan in action.

The Perfect Bait

In the last post we talked about how to learn about your big fish and prepare for the first contact you’ll make with them. This first contact is essential to your success. You need to instill confidence in them. They need to know you can fulfill exactly what you are offering on time, at a good price and at the quality you promise.

Today we’ll actually go through the big approach and how to make that perfect first impression. Before you put together your approach plan, you need to choose with big fish you’re going after. Take a look at your notes and the research you’ve done about prospective fish. Then decide which one will be the easiest approach to start out with.

There are a series of things to go through in choosing which fish to start with. They are:

  • Position Your Business
  • Compile Your Hit List
  • Select the Best Target

 

Position Your Business

You need to position your business to make the first move by listing your revenue streams, id and list your operational procedures, where your fish is initially positioned, your big-customer research, and putting it all together.

Compile Your Hit List

Start with a list of all the companies you’ve been considering. Then narrow it down to the ones who know could use your products or services. Don’t overlook obvious choices, whether they are big or small. Even small companies could be big fish in the future.

Select the Best Target

Once you’ve got your list narrowed down, you need to decide which one is the best fish to start with. You need to consider a couple of things:

  • Which have the most purchasing resources to spend?
  • Does their company vision compliment yours?
  • What are their employee incentive programs as they relate to your products/services?
  • What’s the company’s real need for you?
  • Will the partnership lead you off-course?

 

Now you should have a target in mind to start with. It’s time to plan your approach and execute that plan.

Here’s the step-by-step plan to help you make a good first impression:

  1. Build and analyze your database. Divide your leads into three different categories: hot leads, great fits and secondary leads.
  2. Send out introductory mailings to your target to introduce yourself, your company, services, products, and vision. They need to be short, clean and concise.
  3. Follow up with your first phone call 2-3 days after they would have received the mailings. During the phone call find out whom you need to be speaking with in the future and try to set up a meet with the right person.
  4. Follow up your phone call with another mailing that thanks them for taking the time to speak with you and offer more details about your products/services. Use this letter and opportunity to set up a meeting to do a presentation.
  5. Follow up the letter with another phone call a couple of days after they would have received the letter. This phone call is to help you further develop your relationship with the prospective client. You should also be able to set up a presentation meeting with them.
  6. Call again a week later if they haven’t agreed to a meeting or presentation. Ask if they received your creative letter (the second one) and if they have a minute when you can stop by and introduce yourself in person.

Now, don’t be upset if you don’t seal the deal right away. Some people simply take a little longer to woo. This can all be a little intimidating at first, but when you know you are offering a quality product/service, you can’t go wrong.

Once you’ve gone through this process and make first contact (and hopefully a good first impression) it’s time to put your best face forward, which means sending the right salesperson to seal the deal.

If you need help putting together your approach and make a good first impression, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with a coach and have access to a wealth of great resources and tools.

 

Are You On The Right Path?

Are You On The Right Path?

There are a number of factors to take into consideration when prepping yourself and your company to approach the largest clients you’ll ever work with.

Today we’re going to start with a brief look at the three paths every business faces and show you which one is the path to success. Then we’ll talk about the mindset it takes to attract the big fish.

There are three major paths a business can take:

  • Snail Speed
  • Shooting Star
  • Catch the Big Fish

Snail Speed

Most business owners ended up working themselves into the ground without much reward or success. This is what happens when you fool yourself into thinking you will find quick success. You may also find yourself following this path when you are afraid of change.

Shooting Star

This describes a business that shoots to the top so fast you are overwhelmed and don’t have the right resources in place to adapt. This can also happen from being overwhelmed by small clients and not taking the time to find large clients, which will sustain your business after the small client sales slow.

Catch the Big Fish

This is the path that allows you to build at a steady pace that you can manage by not allowing your customers to outpace you. You can do this by putting these tips to work:

  1. Attract, keep and lock in big clients.
  2. Integrate “big business” culture into your company and employees.
  3. Acquire the expertise you need to grow.
  4. Have the courage to make changes as you grow.

Now we are going to transition a bit and talk about the “big fish” mindset. It may sound easy to just find and catch that big fish, but if you are stuck in the small business mindset, you may find it harder than you think.

Think of all the benefits of aiming at bigger clients:

  • Inexpensive
  • Highly Profitable
  • Longevity
  • Security

 

In order to catch the big fish, you need to believe your company can make a difference with theirs. It’s easy to get into the thought that a large company doesn’t need anything from a small business like yours, but this is entirely wrong!

Once you take a look at how big companies operate, it’s important to know which ones are the best fit with your company. One of the best ways to get in the door is by knowing someone on the inside who can put in a good word for you.

If you’re not sure where to start and feel a little intimidated about catching big fish, try our GUIDED TOUR to get help from our amazing business coaches.