Buyer beware – What sounds like a good idea sometimes isn’t

Lately I have been doing a lot of research for one of my clients – mostly on various online marketing or promotional opportunities they have been aproached with. My client wanted to know if the opportunities were worthwhile and represented good value for money – and whether they would generate a reasonable return.

I would advise that you evaluate these sorts of opportunities with an open mind. That’s not to say with unbridled enthusiasm and

One was an opportunity to join an exclusive online advisory panel positioned as ‘preferred’ suppliers for a particular target audience. It would provide fairly exclusive access as part of a limited group of suppliers which the referrer would direct prequalified enquiries to. They infer those enquiries would be substantial given the high traffic to their website (without actually suggesting how many relevant enquiries that traffic may generate).

The other was for a professional services (accountants, solicitors, surveyors, etc) review website which claimed to offer broader exposure online due to their high traffic. Combined with independent vetting of professional qualifications and impartial customer reviews, the mode is similar to sites dedicated to providing impartial reviews of tradespeople (which have proven successful).

In theory, both opportunities could provide increased exposure to my client’s target audiences. However, both opportunities came with a rather hefty price tag. I was asked to look into each and evaluate their merits.

The obvious selling point for both opportunities was their supposed high volume of traffic and new visitors to their respective websites every month. Their greatest benefit to customers is the increased exposure and potential for new enquiries. However, I am not inclined to believe a salesperson’s claims – especially in the absence of specific figures or supporting evidence.

It’s nothing personal – I don’t only mistrust salespeople – but I recognise they are inclined to present their products and services in the most positive and beneficial terms. They make all sorts of claims; some claims are valid and can be substantiated, and others are less reliable.


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Selling services is different from selling products

Selling the invisible can be harder than selling a physical product.

If you are a service-based business then the ability to sell is vital to your long-term success.  Selling professional services is however different to selling products.  You are selling your experience and skills in the form of billable time.  It requires operating on a higher selling level.

The person responsible for selling that service must have a focused mindset, in-depth knowledge and the skill to clearly articulate the value of the service and transmute what is often a “reluctant-but-necessary” purchase into hard cash.

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Raise your profile

Raising your profile

Reputation is very important! Think about your last significant or expensive purchase.

How did you decide what to buy? If you’re like most people, you probably made your decision based on the reputation of the brand or organisation.

Now imagine you’re the company that is trying to build a powerful reputation. How do you establish that reputation to meet your projected sales targets?

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Don’t confuse your offer, have one clear and consistent message

Have you ever tried to listen to two conversations simultaneously? You might be able to hear them, but can you really listen and process the information?

It’s hard to do, isn’t it? So why is it that some businesses try to communicate more than one message to their customers? Do they believe that their customers are able to process multiple messages? Will their customers be able to sift through all that information and find the most important and relevant elements for themselves?

Prospective customers are more likely to choose the business that’s communicating one consistent and clear message which is relevant to them. Customers want to believe that the business is focused on their interests and committed to satisfying their needs – they want to have faith that the business is concentrating its efforts on doing that one thing as well as it possibly can.

How can a customer feel confident if a business is communicating several different messages? Is the business confused about what it is offering? Does it understand what it is meant to be doing for its customers? Does that business lack focus and commitment – is it trying to do too many things for too many people (and doing none of them particularly well)?

A business should concentrate on communicating one consistent and clear message to its customers. If what that business wants to say to its customers can’t be distilled down to one clear message then it will only serve to confuse and distract them. It will likely be too complex or too vague and lack any convincing clarity or focus. And as we are aware already, with all that’s being said by so many businesses, one clear, concise and distinct message which is focused and relevant will be far more effective at catching your customer’s interest.

If you’d like to learn more about how to communicate effectively with your customers, contact me

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Crafting a successful offer

A good offer, which is compelling, persuasive and leaves the recipient with a clear notion of what they must do, can make all of the difference in the overall effectiveness of your direct marketing.

In order to craft these highly productive offers, here are the elements which should be considered:

  1. Your offer should feature something new (product, service, price etc)
  2. Your offer should feature a sale price or special discounted rate
  3. Your offer should feature a bonus gift (free report, discount code, extra level of service etc) for purchasing, registering, repsonding, visiting
  4. Your offer should feature a time limit to encourage prompt responses (you want to create a sense of urgency)
  5. Your offer should feature a clear call to action for the recipient (‘call now to claim your…’, ‘register your details online with the offer code to…’, ‘follow us and like our page to…’)

The best offers include several of these elements. Think about how else you can improve your next offer to your existing and propspective customers – make sure it is clear what you are asking them to do to take advantage of the offer and put a time limit on it to encourage them to act promptly whilst it’s still fresh in their mind.

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4 tips to writing an instant speech

Last month two clients asked us to help in this area following last minute requests for them to deliver presentations.  We’ve not come across a more simple and effective formula for writing a speech as the one outlined below.

If you’re unexpectedly asked to present something and you’re unprepared, or if your presentations lack focus, just follow this formula:

  1. WHAT is it you will explain?
  2. WHY is it important to know about it?
  3. HOW will the listener use it?
  4. EXAMPLE of how it works (or how others have used it – case studies)

This is simply a nuts and bolts approach to writing a speech or giving a presentation and identifies the most critical elements for success.  If you can cover each of the above points, your presentation should meet your objectives and also communicate the right things.

Preparation is key but even if you only have time to run through it a couple of times, try to do so.  Record yourself if you can to help identify any areas of weakness or if not imagine yourself “on stage” delivering the presentation and critique your performance afterwards in your mind – what worked, what didn’t?

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Translate your features to customer benefits

Have you ever caught yourself thinking “so what” when somebody is telling you what makes their product or service so amazing?  This isn’t an uncommon reaction because most people are only telling you about the features of their product or service, and forgetting to explain the benefits entirley.

Relying on your prospective customers to extrapolate the benefits to them of using your products or services is risky.  They may not understand your products and services well enough or it may even seem too much like hard work – especially if you have a savvy competitior who has done all the hard work for them.

In marketing we have a phrase called FABfeatures and benefits.

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What makes you ‘Different’ or just ‘different’?

What makes you different? Better yet, what makes you Different? Have you really sat down and thought about what makes your product or service Different? Now, I don’t just mean what you THINK makes you ‘different’, but what REALLY makes you ‘Different’ (note, this is a capital ‘D’ type of different). Continue reading

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11 tips for customer acquisition

Set time aside to implement your customer acquisition strategy

Acquiring new customers is all about opening up new relationships and that is all about how you present yourself and your company.

Here are eleven tips for acquiring new customers: Continue reading

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Branded content (PDFs) for effective communications

We’ve developed a checklist of sorts to walk you through the process of content generation – this should help you avoid making it a real chore. We recommend that you consider using PDF documents as they are a good platform for your branding and your message.

PDFs are universally accepted and displayed and are not dependent on the type of machine or operating system used by the recipient. Access and content can be controlled through a variety of security features and this helps to ensure that the ‘look and feel’ – as well as the content – of your document will be preserved. Continue reading

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