American Express has created a merchant promotion declaring today, the day after “Black Friday,” “Small Business Day” for the second year. While drawing attention to the benefits of doing business with Small Businesses it’s simply geared to move the needle one day. I suggest all small business owners make every day “Small Business Day” and in doing so make the rest of the year dwarf AE’s efforts to move the needle one day.
It’s tough. You are in business to make a buck by providing worthwhile products and services and the end-of-year holiday season can make or break many your businesses. So how do you create a message, handle a promotion, or produce marketing that rises above the noise, draws in a large crowd and encourages community involvement? It’s not that hard really.
If you’ve grown accustom to adding a plus sign ( “+” ) in front of words or quote-delimited phrases in your Google searches, things have changed and Google Plus is to be blamed.
In late October this year, attempts to use a plus sign in searches resulted in seeing a message instructing you to stop doing that and instead place quotes around words and phrases to be searched for literally (exactly as-is and required).
At first this change seemed confusing since it contradicted 15 years of how we have been trained to use search with all search engines, not just Google. Some assumed it had to do with searches referencing the new Google+ property.
I met with a client once that was interested in getting their primary sales vehicle tuned up. It was a letter they sent to prospects. Seems that it worked very well at one time and then stopped working.
Not being familiar with their product or reasons why people would consider doing business with them just from a letter, I had to ask a lot of questions. Questions like,
- Who gets the letter?
- What’s the demographic profile of those who acted after receiving the letter?
- What was their reasons for buying
- Have you ever sold to people who didn’t get a letter?
- Do you follow up on the phone with people that got the letter?
I was able to quickly determine something very important from these few questions. Almost every reason for doing business with my client was preceded by a need to do business with another business as well. So while he had been out prospecting with his letter, he was missing out on building a referral network with businesses who could be sending him prequalified leads.
The path of least resistance in sales is a referred prospect. In my client’s case, businesses in his referral network actually needed their prospect to buy his services before they could sell them theirs. He removed a big sales obstacle for them. But these businesses had grown accustomed to simply waiting for their prospects to deal with this obstacle on their own and then return. They were not empowered to speed up the process or assist in any way. But being able to refer prospects to my client made them empowered to not only help themselves but to also help the prospects by giving them a trusted means to address their immediate need (the obstacle) as well.
After a brief introduction and comparing of notes, each member of my client’s referral network will get monthly visits, phone calls, emails, mailed hand-written reminders and/or cookie platters reminding them that my client is ready and able e to help them close their sales more easily.
So, yes. I was being asked to fine-tune a sales letter, something I was happy to do. But the referral network I designed will create more activity than that letter could ever hope to.
Are you taking advantage of referral network opportunities? Do your prospects have an obstacle you could help them address with a referral? Sometimes referrals can come from anyone which is why business referral networks can be very valuable sources of new leads.
Share your referral stories in the comments.
Being the student of economics and dynamic systems I am, the “buy local” mantra never really sunk in with me. It didn’t help when a brilliant local economist confirmed my suspicions stating that it actually hurt the community more than it helped to reward merchants based on their locale more than on their ability to be competitive.
So for years I have been shaking my head over the feel-good proposition to forego doing business with national or regional chain stores with their usually better-than-wholesale-pricing and broad selections and instead seek out stores with usually higher pricing and less selection just because because they have local ownership.
Occupy Wall Street has been all the rage for weeks so I don’t think I need to say more about that. But there’s no real commercial winners or losers except for the poor merchants whose front doors face the makeshift campgrounds. But more recently, and maybe a little less known, is a movement culminating this November 5th called Bank Transfer Day that may make prepared credit unions big winners.
Mainstream media has started to acknowledge the groundswell of interest in this . So are the credit unions reacting? I did a quick scan to see which of local credit unions are doing anything specifically geared towards BTD or if they are open on Saturdays as a regular course of business and here’s what I found: Continue reading
A quick search in Google, Bing or Yahoo! can tell you if your web site is taking advantage of the millions of searches being conducted each day.
A lot of businesses have bought a domain and used some build-a-website-quickly tools in order to be found online. As a result, their websites look nice but don’t come anywhere near doing what they need to do, attract prospects. But some of the most commonly missing pieces can be easily found and fixed. They are: Continue reading
I’m a cheapskate by nature. That means while I may miss a good opportunity now and then because it is too expensive, it also means I always gravitate towards the most effective and efficient marketing methods. That’s what I do for my clients in an effort to gain them Fortune 500 visibility and strategy on a mom-and-pop store budget. Even back in the days when I sold advertising, if I thought the client was asking me to waste their money (e.g. when they’d say, “Let’s run a couple ads and see what happens”), I preferred to forgo the commission than to be party to wasting their money.
This rationale is behind the design and pricing of one of the first Continue reading
Business networking is either a necessary evil of mandatory recreation (you will like it dammit!) or a great excuse to get out of the office and hang with fellow local business people, one of which could be your next big client.
Either way, it has proven itself over the years to be a very effective means of Continue reading
I have been asked about QR codes a few times now so maybe it’s time to put it out for public discussion.
First, what the heck is a QR code? If you understand store scanners you probably have some idea. In short it is a symbolic means of making information available to someone equipped with the ability to scan the symbol. QR codes differ from bar codes in their ability to hold more information, greater scanning accuracy and a smaller footprint.
So now that we know that a QR code connects people, who have scanning ability, to information, the question is begged, how can these be used to increase the customer experience? Continue reading