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Why your lapsed customers could be your best bet

July 21, 2016 by Dee Blick

Why your lapsed customers could be your best bet{{}}In your rush to recruit new customers, it's all too easy to overlook the most cost-effective marketing campaign of all - getting back in touch with your lapsed customers.

If you need proof that this works, read on.

Mike Yorke runs the Mike Yorke Golf Academy. After reading my latest book he approached me asking for help in growing his customer base and that of the eight coaches he works with. I suggested we look at the lapsed customer base of each coach and make these our first targets.

We asked each coach to set aside a couple of hours to call their lapsed customers; they asked them how they were getting on with their golf and updated them on coaching services that they might be interested in. The coaches were then asked to follow up with a friendly email summarising the conversation.

The results were fantastic.

One of the coaches emailed Mike the day after his calling session. Of the 25 lapsed customers he had spoken to, 12 had booked another golf lesson; six paid immediately. And seven asked that coach to stay in touch saying they would have more golf lessons in the future. Just six said they had no plans to return to golf coaching.

So why do so many business owners focus their energies solely on attracting new customers in preference to reopening the pipeline to their lapsed ones?

It boils down to:

Fear of rejection. What if they tell me why they stopped using my services and I don't like their answer?

It doesn't occur to them that a lapsed customer can become a live one again with coaxing.

So how can you get in touch with your lapsed customers?

  • Make a list of them;
  • What are the robust reasons why each one should come back to you? Have you made improvements to your products and services? Have you launched new products and services? It's time to tell them! Roll out the benefits they will enjoy upon returning to you;
  • You don't have to make an offer to encourage a lapsed customer but it can help. Use your judgement. If your service or product is one they have to continue using you can safely assume they've gone to a competitor so an offer could tip the scales in your favour;
  • Plan a campaign. Write a lovely letter with an introduction along the lines of: "Dear Dee, as it's been a little while since we have been in touch, I wanted to update you on the new/improved products and services we're offering that I am confident will be of genuine interest and benefit to you."

In one lapsed client letter, I began with the headline: "We've missed you!"

Make sure the letter shouts out quality so use 120gsm paper; attach your business card and if you've got a decent quality promotional gift that can go inside the envelope, pop it in! Consider handwriting the envelope. Follow up with a telephone call and find out why they left you in the first place and what their present arrangements are. Then follow up with an email recapping your conversation.

These are simple, powerful and proven tips that should bring some of your lapsed customers back to your business. What's stopping you?

Copyright © 2016 Dee Blick is a Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Marketing and an Amazon #1 bestselling author of The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book and The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for your Small Business.

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12 ways to reduce your fears of public speaking

July 12, 2016 by Marketing Donut contributor

12 ways to reduce your fears of public speaking{{}}Speaking in public - even about the business you love - is a widely held fear. So how do you turn that fear into confidence?

1. Speak in public whenever you get a chance

It doesn't matter whether you speak for 30 seconds or 30 minutes; just take that first step. By taking advantage of opportunities to speak in front of others as often as you can you will break through the fear and in no time you will be unstoppable.

2. Smile

Smile and look people in the eye. Confidence is contagious. Your confidence will make your listeners feel good and soon they will be smiling too.

3. Speak about what you know

Your background, your history and your experience are unique. People love to hear others share their unique perspectives. Use material from your past or present so your audience can enter your world and experience it through your eyes.

4. Time

Leave them wanting more. Brevity is key. You should be able to deliver your message in a few well-considered sentences. If you tend to be long-winded, you will need to work on cutting your speech down. Keep it snappy, focused and concise.

5. Humour

Humour endears an audience to the speaker. But use it wisely - too much and your message can be lost in the jokes. So sprinkle it rather than ladle it.

6. Use pictures

A picture is worth a thousand words. You can compose word pictures (verbal descriptions that paint vivid pictures) or use real images to illustrate your message.

7. Fake until you make it

If you still feel your stomach churning and your legs wobbling act as if you are cool and calm. Don a mask of confidence, smile, look directly at your audience and speak. They will never know how nervous you are on the inside.

8. Find a mentor

A mentor can help you grow through listening, feedback and advice. Someone who can already do well what you dread is the ideal mentor and their experience and skills are just what you need.

9. Be ambitious

Set goals, adjust them and review them. Always set them a little beyond your reach so that you have to stretch.

10. Keep at it

Try and try again. Keep on getting up and giving it a go. No matter how badly you feel it went (and it is rarely as bad as you think), get up, try again and focus on improving through practice.

11. Travel

Don't always speak at the same events. Go to new events or visit groups you've never met before. This will give you new material, new experiences and new feedback. It creates a cycle of expansion that will help you develop your speaking - and your business.

12. Use "I"

The "I" word is powerful. Use it to reach out and connect with your listeners. Use it to express feelings, experiences and thoughts. The "I" encapsulates your individuality; the part of your business that no one else can copy.

By following these tips you can overcome your fears of speaking in public. They will take you from pen and page to people and public; and connect you with new customers.

Copyright © 2016 Frances Cahill of Toastmasters International.

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The sound of marketing

June 28, 2016 by Marketing Donut contributor

The sound of marketing{{}}In marketing a great deal of time and money is spent on communicating; after all marketing is about connecting to audiences and "speaking" to them about your company, product or service.

Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of marketing will be familiar with the terms tone of voice, share of voice and the need to cut through the noise in the marketplace and be heard. In the digital world that we live in the plethora of tools and channels to communicate with your target market is almost endless, and endlessly bewildering.

But have you ever stopped to think about the sound of marketing? By this I mean what does your company sound like? Don't worry - this is not one of those esoteric exercises that gives marketers a bad name, where they focus on navel gazing and not the bottom line.

So what does your business sound like when it communicates with your target market? Let's break it down a little:

Written word. What sort of language do you use when communicating with customers? Is it clear and simple or does your sales collateral contain lots of technical terms and abbreviations?

Spoken word. When your employees speak to customers or prospects, what sort of words do they use? Is the emphasis on listening rather than speaking?

Images. Are the images that you use in your brochures and on your website engaging and linked to what your company does or offers or are they bland and instantly forgettable?

Video. In a multimedia world, what sort of videos are you sharing with your customers? Are you telling an engaging story to educate and entertain or did your prospect switch off after two seconds?

Audio. Please don't tell me Greensleeves is your music on hold! Maybe I am being flippant but if a picture paints a thousand words, sound enables your customer to create a picture of your company in their mind. Think about the accents they hear and the tone of the voice they listen to if they are waiting for their call to be answered.

What if you are selling abroad? Do you assume your French customers speak English fluently? Unless you are targeting ex-pats everyone knows that local marketing is done best when you use the local language (and it's more than a change of spelling for US customers).

The next time you are planning a new marketing campaign or launching a new product or service, think about the sound of success. As you map out your tactics think about what you want to say and how you want say it.

Look at tools such as videos, ebooks and podcasts as well as your website, email and trusty brochures which you use to converse with your customer. If you are marketing to a global audience think about translation services and using native speaking voice-over artists. It's not just about sign-ups, downloads and transactions, it's about hitting the right note with your marketing.

Copyright © 2016 Armin Hierstetter, founder of Bodalgo.com.

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Do you need a new approach to selling?

June 20, 2016 by Andy Bounds

Do you need a new approach to selling?{{}}Today, you'll make lots of sales. You might be selling:

  • Products or services to your customers;
  • A proposal to a new prospect;
  • The idea to your children that it's time to go to bed. Right now.

But, despite its importance, many of us don't like the thought of selling. It's almost a dirty word.

Perhaps this is because we've all been on the receiving end of an idiot salesperson's pushiness. But there's something else: all the words to do with selling - selling, proposing, pitching, influencing, convincing, persuading - are from the sellers' point of view.

So sellers tend to feel that selling is something you do to someone. And that means the recipient can therefore often feel they're having something done to them.

But selling shouldn't be like that. It isn't one-way; it's a joint thing. You and your customer are agreeing to work together to do what you propose, whether that be to:

  • Buy something;
  • Accept your proposal;
  • Go to bed.

So, when you sell, be joint. The easiest way to do this is to start with their objectives and then show how your suggestion fits with them. Keep it short and simple - your preparation needs just two steps:

  • Find their objectives (the best way to do this is ask them);
  • Work out how your suggestion (your "sale") will help achieve them.

Do it this way and you both benefit. You both value it; and you both enjoy it. And, since you're both happy, selling has become a joint thing.

Copyright © 2016 Andy Bounds, communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips. This blog first appeared here.

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Posted in Sales | Tagged selling, sales | 0 comments

Top tips for live streaming on Periscope, Facebook Live and Blab

June 13, 2016 by Gemma Went

Top tips for live streaming on Periscope, Facebook Live and Blab{{}}Unless you've spent the past year hiding under a rock, you'll be no stranger to the live streaming phenomenon.

Increasingly, businesses are starting to harness the power of this informal, off-the-cuff form of video marketing and get some spectacular engagement. But it's not all about the amount of shares, comments, hearts or props you receive while live - you can take it further.

Live streaming is actually a powerful way to build your email list - and anywhere in social that should be your aim. Your email list is filled with contacts you own, not contacts that could disappear if a platform ceases to exist.

So how can you use live broadcasts to bolster your mailing list?

Create bespoke landing pages

Whether you prefer Periscope, Blab or Facebook Live, you will always have the option to pop a link in your bio. Take the time to create a bespoke landing page for each platform you use, and use that instead of your standard URL. Use the space to offer content tailored to that section of your audience.

You should also embed a sign-up form here to capture your followers' email addresses.

Provide exclusive content

Once your broadcasts are over, you'll be left with some great video content. Turn those replays into content for the people on your list.

You could also offer exclusive live streams to those that sign up, by creating a private Facebook group with the sole purpose of hosting your Facebook Live sessions.

Schedule, promote and capture

Blab is great for planning your broadcasts in advance. You can set up your live sessions ahead of time and share the link to your heart's content.

Consider creating a specific landing page for each blab, so that users have to enter their email address to receive the link. You can then provide reminders prior to the broadcast, and offer the replay after the fact.

Encourage interaction

Live streams are super-simple to share, so make sure you encourage live viewers to do just that to increase your chances of being found by even more users.

With Facebook Live in particular, it's worth your while to get your audience engaging - the more interaction you get, the more organic reach your stream receives.

Copyright © 2016 Gemma Went, digital marketing consultant. You can download Gemma's Livestreaming Guide here.

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Confessions of a direct mail junkie

June 02, 2016 by Dee Blick

Confessions of a direct mail junkie{{}}I'm a direct mail junkie (please excuse the pun!). I cut my teeth on direct mail 33 years ago and since then I've generated some £10 million of sales from direct mail for businesses big and small.

Now I'm no longer the lone voice in the wilderness proclaiming the many benefits of direct mail for small businesses. Direct mail is very much the comeback kid. More of us are reaching for a pen and paper when we want to grab the attention of prospects or clients.

Why should direct mail be part of your marketing mix?

  1. It's fantastic for generating meetings with cold prospects. In the past two years, I've been running quarterly direct mailshots aimed at small businesses for one of my clients, an accountant. We've added 15% to their fee income from direct mail alone. The main call to action in the letter is to "get in touch and book a meeting at no charge".
  2. When it comes to impact, direct mail beats many marketing tools hands down. A snazzy envelope in your corporate colours; a lumpy element to add intrigue and you're pretty much guaranteed your envelope will be opened and the contents read.
  3. You can target a handful of folk or thousands in one hit. And you can increase the response to your initial mailshot by adding in a cold call, an email, a follow-up mailshot or a charming introduction on social media.
  4. It's a proactive tool that puts you in charge. You're not relying on people finding you online; you're targeting them.
  5. Despite the hike in postage costs, direct mail is still the ultimate shoestring marketing tool. Often it only takes a letter and a business card to whet the appetite of a cold prospect or encourage a client to get in touch.
  6. And, if you are planning a campaign using email, add direct mail as an additional element to build on awareness and interest.

But how can you avoid falling into the junk mail trap?

The big worry with direct mail is that your envelope and its contents are going to be chucked away without so much as a backward glance. So how do create mailshots that don't look like junk mail?

  1. Get under the skin of the audience you're targeting. What are their underlying needs? What are their present arrangements likely to be? What's happening in their world that could impact positively or negatively on their desire and ability to do business with you? Capture your thoughts. You'll need them later on when you're crafting your messages.
  2. Clean and accurate names and addresses. Squeaky clean data is at the heart of all successful direct mail campaigns. So, if you're buying a mailing list, ensure your list provider is a member of the Direct Marketing Association. Ask for a sample of 6-12 names and addresses and check their accuracy. Are you provided with a named contact? Is it the contact that you need? Ask for their mailing accuracy guarantee - it should be at least 95%. If you're planning on making telephone calls before or after your mailing, make sure the list has been cleaned on a daily basis against the Telephone Preference Scheme.
  3. Gather your compelling messages. Would a couple of client case studies convey that you're a safe, trusted and experienced pair of hands? How about a few lines of genuine unedited testimonial from delighted clients? Can you provide facts and figures to support your promises? Make a list of the top five relevant benefits you believe will encourage the person to contact you.
  4. Be clear on what you want the person to do once they've got your message. It's unrealistic to expect a cold prospect to buy on the strength of one communication alone. But, suggesting a meeting, a phone call or an email to express their initial interest are realistic calls to action.

Copyright © 2016 Dee Blick, a Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Marketing and an Amazon #1 bestselling author of The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book and The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for your Small Business.

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