Tag Archives | business marketing

Business Networking Tips

(for people who don’t love business networking)

Does the thought of business networking and meeting new people make you nervous rather than excited? Do you deliberately arrive at business events late, leave early, and struggle to find people to talk to and things to say while you’re there? Is building relationships with others important to your business and professional growth?

There’s no doubt that making new contacts is essential in business. While some people are outgoing and can confidently generate interesting discussion with strangers, others are more at ease either alone or with people they know well. For more reserved people, networking can feel anything from uncomfortable to terrifying.

While business networking events can attract extroverts, there are usually some attendees who find it hard to strike up conversations and enjoy the experience.

Whatever you feel about networking, here are ways to make it easier and more effective for all involved.

Start with the right expectations of what business networking is

To be successful, every business networking function doesn’t need to result in new leads for your business. You don’t need to ensure you tell a certain number of people about what you do, nor hand out and collect a batch of business cards.

Relationships are built over time, and it can take many interactions with people to build rapport and trust.

When you attend an event, a smart goal is to meet some new people, find out more about people you’ve already met, and add value to others where you can. You might start by simply aiming to stay to the end!

Go with the right objectives

It’s easy to spot someone who is only interested in talking about themselves, selling their product or service, and handing out their details to as many people as they can. If you’ve been a victim of a sales pitch at a function, I’m sure it didn’t leave a good impression.

Go to networking events with an intent to:

• Meet and learn about other people
• Show interest in others and what they do
• Question rather than tell
• Connect other people to each other
• Share useful information to help others

Be yourself

To be a good networker you don’t have to be the most outgoing, confident, and talkative person in the room. Be authentic. It’s okay to start a conversation with “I’m not a natural networker and I find it hard to meet new people at functions. Do you know many people here?”

If you see someone you’ve met previously, go out of your way to say hello and build on the relationship. If you recognise their face but not their name (or at which event you met them) you could say “I’m sorry, I know we’ve met but I’ll admit I can’t remember where” or “I really enjoyed speaking with you last time, but I’m sorry I’ve forgotten your name.” Then use their name several times in the conversation to ensure it sticks.

Include others

Even if you know many people at the event, gravitate towards people standing on their own. Chances are they are feeling uncomfortable and will welcome your approach.

Some conversation starters:

• Do you know many people here?
• How often do you attend these events?
• Have you made any great connections at these events?
• Is the food always this great here?

Make it interesting

The standard questions of “what do you do?” and “where do you work?” can be predictable. Even if you start with this approach, it’s good to follow up with questions to get to know the person rather than just their role.

You could try, “have you always lived in this area?” or “what do you like to do in your down-time?” Conversations start to flow when people open up about things they are passionate about.

Ensure your own introductions are interesting and can open up further discussion. Instead of just, “Hi, I’m Sam, a building designer at ABC Building Designs” you could add, “I love helping developers get the most value from their investment by maximising what they can build on their land.”

Connect others

Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point talks about natural networkers being either Connectors or Information Mavens. Connectors love to introduce people to each other, and always have a good recommendation for a plumber, architect, solicitor, or hair salon. They know a lot of people and enjoy helping others connect.

Information Mavens like to share useful information. They are well researched on many topics and love to provide information to others to help them out.

If you know a Connector or Information Maven seek them out at business networking events. If they don’t already attend, invite them to come along with you. They’ll ensure you meet new people and learn something new. Observe how they interact with others and see if you can model their approach next time.

Follow Up

After each event, make notes of who you met, where they work, and what they do. Record other details you learned such as how many kids they have, that they love mountain bike riding, or that they were about to holiday in Fiji. Read your notes just before the next event so you have some good conversation starters when you see them.

Whether or not you obtained their details, invite people you met to connect on LinkedIn to maintain contact. Send an “it was lovely to meet you” message. They may or may not reply, but they’ll appreciate the effort.

Yellow Coaching helps business owners and their teams to network effectively as part of their ongoing coaching program. Get in touch here to find out how we can help you with business networking skills.

A shorter version of this article was first published in Hunter Headline on 23 October 2018.

Business Marketing: 5 things you must do before you start!

If you’re in business, you probably want more profit than you’re currently getting. And the most effective way to do that is to increase your business marketing to get more customers, right?

Not necessarily!

Lead generation will definitely result in more enquiries, but doesn’t guarantee more profit. In fact, having more enquiries may just make your business fail faster.

If you would like more profit from your business in 2018, here are 5 essential things to do before you spend time, effort and money on business marketing ….

  1. business marketingReduce overheads and expenditure

While we do want to focus on the top line, it’s important first to ensure your business isn’t wasting money on unnecessary expenses. Check your bills for accuracy, and shop around for better deals for services such as electricity and phones. Reduce staff overtime, or consider using a virtual assistant for certain tasks. Look at your current marketing cost and stop spending money on ads that don’t work.

  1. Increase efficiency

A profitable business needs solid systems and efficient staff. When things aren’t done to specification, on time, and to budget, time and money is lost to re-work, dissatisfied customers, and lost opportunity. Start by measuring the effectiveness of all that you’re currently doing. Give team members KPIs and targets; implement a quality control system; focus on employee training; and automate as much as possible.

  1. Invite your previous customers to come back again, or use you more frequently

When customers feel important and valued to your business they are more likely to use your product or service again. Great customer service encourages a repeat customer, and a direct invitation makes it even more likely they’ll be back. Give a voucher for a return visit; a two-for-one deal for their next purchase; or offer a service contract. Introduce a frequent buyers’ program, or sell consumables to go with their original purchase.

  1. Encourage your customers to spend more with you

We call this wallet share rather than market share. Your current customers may be buying one product or service from your business, but going elsewhere for other things they need (not realising they could also get it from you). Let your customers know your entire range of products and services; offer incentives for larger purchases; allow payment terms; and set an average dollar sale goal for your team.

  1. Convert more of your existing leads into sales

When business owners tell us they need to focus on marketing, we often find that they have plenty of enquiries coming in, they just aren’t converting all their leads into sales.

Start to measure all your leads and how many of these turn into customers. You may be surprised at the number of opportunities you’re losing.

If you’re a service business, something as simple as appointment reminders or touching base before your first meeting will help. Assist your frontline staff and sales team by having scripts and a sales process; ensure every team member can communicate the benefits of using your products and services to prospective customers; and consider offering an incentive for first-time buyers.

business marketing

As you can see, a profitable business requires more than just a steady stream of leads. We can help you maximise the value of each lead and customer, and have a glass overflowing, not a leaking bucket!

Although marketing is often the first thing business owners want to focus on to increase profit, we need to ensure the business is operating efficiently and effectively first.

The last thing you want to do is ramp up your marketing to introduce new customers to a bad experience, or speed up the decline of a business that’s not profitable.

 

busines profitNow it’s time for business marketing …

When you’ve minimised your expenses; and maximised your lead conversion, frequency of customers using you, amount they spend each time, and your efficiency; it’s time to generate new leads.

Start small and inexpensive. A combination of on-line and in-person marketing is ideal. Effective SEO and social media marketing can invite a steady stream of inquiries into your business, and a referral system will ensure that your happy customers introduce like-minded people to you.

When working with clients to increase their profitability, we establish a plan to ensure their business is working at its peak in all areas. We help them measure their results, and track their performance towards goals. Combined with a solid business marketing plan, businesses see strong and lasting increases to their bottom line.

If you’d like more profit in your business this year, contact us to see if you’re eligible for a complimentary 90-minute discussion about your business. Discover what’s possible in 2018.

How Should I Stay In Touch With My Customers?

As a business owner, you probably spend considerable time, effort and money getting new customers. If you want to grow your business, you are no doubt actively advertising, marketing and asking for referrals.

But are you investing enough time and energy in keeping your existing customers?

You’ve no doubt heard the saying that it’s six to seven times as costly to obtain a new customer than to retain an existing one. Despite this, it’s surprising how many businesses don’t regularly contact their customers to make them feel appreciated, offer additional products or services, or check on their satisfaction.

Some businesses don’t keep contact details for their past and existing customers at all, and some do purely to ‘have them in the system’.

Why Should I Keep Customer Details?

Having contact information allows you to build a relationship, familiarity and trust. If you are providing regular, interesting information to your customers you will keep top of mind in a world where competition is rife! This is called Recency and Frequency. To take action to use your business, customers need to have heard from you frequently and recently to have you top of mind.

pablo-5 copyHow Do I Get Customer Contact Details?

This depends on the type of work the customer uses you for. A professional services firm may obtain contact details on a signed agreement; an allied health provider may ask clients to fill in a form on their first visit; and a telecommunications company may need contact details to provide accurate services. Even if you regularly request customer contact details as part of providing your service, ask permission to contact your customers and their preferred method of contact.

If you use an enrolment or registration form it could include tick-boxes to be contacted via email with special deals, by SMS for appointments, or by mobile phone for customer service calls.

Of course, some businesses don’t need to get customer details to operate (for example, a retail outlet or restaurant). The obvious choice here is to create a ‘tribe’ of loyal customers by asking them if they’d like to join your VIP club for which they get special benefits. Examples may be a free meal on their birthday, regular recipes via email, or VIP-only sales.

Another option is to hold an in-store competition whereby customers must leave their details to enter. Please once again have a check-box asking them if they’d like to be contacted with deals, updates and offers, and how.

Which Details Should I Get? 

Quite simply, it depends on how you want to contact them and how they prefer to be contacted. If you’d like to contact them via phone, ask for mobile details. If you prefer sending information in the mail, get their postal address. If you want to send an e-newsletter, grab their email address.

As well as contact details, other information can be beneficial to record, depending on the type of business you have. Most customers appreciate receiving messages or gifts on their birthday, regardless of the type of product or service you provide. Anniversary dates may be applicable for hotels, restaurants, florists, beauty and hair salons. Children’s names and birth dates may come in handy for toy stores. Some hotel chains even record the pillow-loft preferences of their regular guests!

What Mistakes Should I Avoid? 

The most common mistake we see is businesses sending irrelevant information about their own business. Please remember that your customers don’t care about you, they care about what you can do for them. People like to be entertained, given interesting information, and shown how they can save time, save money, or make money.

Sending too many emails, texts, or letters is another pitfall to avoid. The quickest way to get an ‘unsubscribe’ is to bombard your contacts!

You could ask your clients how often they would appreciate being contacted, and what kind of information they would find valuable.

Of course, sending any communication without consent is a no-no (a link is provided below to find out how to avoid spamming). And make sure every marketing communication you send has an unsubscribe function, including SMS.

How Do I Record Customer Contact Details?

We suggest you create an electronic database. This could be a simple app such as “Contacts” in Mac, or a more sophisticated CRM system such as Infusionsoft. If you want to contact your customers via SMS, an easy place to start is with SMSBroadcast, which can cost as little as 4.7 cents per text message. E-newsletters can be created quickly through MailChimp, which is currently free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month.

Segmenting your customers into groups is the next step. Examples are Prospects (inquired but not yet bought), Customers (bought once or twice) or Regulars. You may even choose to create a list of inactive clients, to which you could transfer customers if they haven’t bought from you for 6 months or so. You could also create groups according to the service they use you for, or the product they buy.

Some Examples:

  • An insurance firm could email all customers who have bought business insurance through them, offering a special deal on car insurance
  • A lawyer could mail his clients (for whom he hasn’t done a recent Will) with an offer of a free Will review
  • A hairdresser could call clients the week after their appointment, asking how their style and colour is holding up
  • A cafe could SMS customers they haven’t seen for a month with an offer of free coffee with every piece of cake purchased for that day only, or perhaps free dessert with every main
  • An environmental consultancy could e-mail clients once a quarter with information on environmental policy changes and industry news that may affect them.

Please also remember that your customers may have a favourite product or service, but not be aware of everything you sell. When customers already trust you and buy one of your products or services, it’s a great time to introduce them to your full range. Perhaps you could include a “menu” of your range in your next newsletter or mailout, or feature the benefits of different products or services in each newsletter.

As you can see, the options are endless. The most important thing to remember is that your customers care about what you can do for them, so make the information you send to them relevant, important, and useful.

Are you making the most of the contact details you have for your existing client base? We help businesses improve their customer service and sales to current clients, as well as generate new leads. To see how your business can improve, call Andrew Masi or Julianne Schwenke on (02) 4933 6622.

For more information and to make sure you don’t spam, please visit: http://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Marketers/Anti-Spam

People Don’t Care About You!

They care about what you can do for them.

A big mistake when marketing your business is to only tell your prospects the features of what you do (ie. what your business provides) instead of what the customer really wants to know, which is what’s in it for them.

For example, if you’re a hairdresser you may offer your client a $30 leave-in treatment by asking “would you like a $30 treatment today?” and be surprised when the client does not take up the offer.

A more effective approach would be to talk about the results the client will get, such as: “would you like to reduce breakage and have your colour remain vibrant for three weeks longer?”

Because it’s more than likely the client wants this result, you can then open up a discussion around how that can be achieved with a simple $30 leave-in treatment.

It’s a small change of language that has a big impact on results!

business marketing, business help, business advice,

Business marketing tip!

The Top 5 Things You Need To Succeed In Business

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There …

Your current knowledge, goals, skills, experience and actions have created the business you have today. If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of your business, you need to change something to get a different result.

Albert Einstein is famously quoted as saying: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

Author Marshall Goldsmith wrote an invaluable book, the title of which says it perfectly: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.

Trial and error is one way to improve – and making mistakes certainly can be our best teacher (provided we actually learn from our mistakes, and don’t make the same ones time and time again!). But a far more effective and faster approach is to learn from the mistakes and success of others.

One option is to find a business leader who has achieved success in the area of business in which you want to excel, assess what it is that makes them so successful, and implement that yourself. We call this modelling – observing the way another person behaves to get a certain result, and reproducing those actions to achieve similar outcomes.

Another option is to find a professional business mentor, advisor or coach whose sole purpose is to help business leaders succeed. They have learned from the success and failure of others, and can pass on that knowledge so you can fast-track your business success. Here are five reasons engaging a professional in this field will be valuable to you:

1. Knowledge and Education

Business coaches, advisors and educators package up the knowledge of countless authors, speakers, academics and business leaders to help their clients achieve greater success. Through their research, training and experience they teach proven methodologies that have worked successfully for other business leaders. They also know the pitfalls and can steer you clear of obstacles.

2. Direction

Every business leader needs clear direction. A good business mentor will help you establish, reconnect with, or expand yours, and keep you on track. You could think of them as your GPS! When you wander off track, they will steer you back to where you need to be.

3. An Outsider’s Perspective

When you’re busy working day to day inside your business, it’s hard to take a broader, objective view. Your advisor can help you see the bigger picture and give you an outsider’s perspective. They can provide this viewpoint with honesty – not telling you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear to get better results.

4. Accountability

Knowledge without application is worthless, and part of your mentor’s role can be to push you to get things done, in the right way and at the right time, and for the right objectives. They’ll also remind you why you set your goals in the first place, and the benefits of getting the work done.

5. Encouragement

There’s no doubt that business can be tough, which is also why it’s so rewarding. When things are challenging, your coach can reconnect you with your ‘why’ and remind you of your greater vision and purpose (while giving you the tools to continue on when things get tough).

While there’s no short cut to success, partnering with a business mentor, coach or consultant can help you achieve better business results more quickly and effectively.

We grow established businesses by coaching business leaders and their teams to success in areas including marketing, sales, customer service, team, systems, profit, and cashflow.

Want help to grow your business? Call Andrew Masi or Julianne Schwenke on (02) 4933 6622 today. We’ll arrange a time to meet to see how we can help.