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What marketing activity brings you the most customers?

Want to attract more customers? Check out these great ideas available from our varied team of seasoned experts.

Our panel of experts answers the question: What marketing activity do you use that brings you the most customers?

From our Experts:

Cathy Sexton

I take every opportunity to speak on my expertise, my most popular topics and my website. Speaking brings me the most business.

Bill Prenatt

Referrals, referrals, referrals. No doubt that on and off line marketing is critical to creating awareness.

When someone refers a potential customer to me it is likely the referral will become a customer if it’s my ideal customer.

Judy Ryan

I send out a link to one of several detailed surveys I have on my website. I do this when I have an interested prospect or when I’m asked to do a presentation at an event. I do this when people request to connect with me on LinkedIN and Facebook. People perusing my site also find these surveys. When they take them, this helps me to both educate the prospect on what I do overall and also to gather important information on them to learn about their struggles, challenges, areas they need support and many other ways I can engage in conversation when we meet and even prior to a meeting through additional questions that surface.

Fred Miller

"Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities!"

We perceive really good speakers as Experts, and people like to work with experts.

Take, make, and publicize those "Speaking Opportunities" and business will come your way.

Caren Libby

Most of my business comes from referrals from clients or friends and from participation in networking events, professional organizations, one-on-one meetings and Mastermind groups. Volunteer work has also been instrumental; although that isn't the reason I do it. All of these venues are a good way to get to know people and find out more about who they are and what they have to offer.

Because my work is so visual, my website portfolio is my #1 marketing tool. My potential clients typically visit it before or after we connect.

Following up with email helps to educate the recipients and adds a personal touch that helps build relationships and business. I've been active (off and on) in social media for several years, and that has also been helpful. Consistent communication is key to keeping the flow going in any channel.

For further support in growing, running and living well as a business professional, visit www.e4ecommunity.com

How do you determine your customer’s needs?

Want to give great service? One way is to quickly identify your customer’s challenges, priorities and needs.

Our panel of experts answers the question: How do you determine your customer’s needs?

From our Experts:

Brian Lunt

I take time to have a personal conversation and get to know them. I ask authentic, caring questions until I gain the understanding of what I could do to make their life easier and better.

Bill Prenatt

Process is key. Over the years, my most effective method to discover customer needs is to ask well-placed, thoughtful questions. This is especially important since customers frequently don't know what they don't know.

I utilize a two-part system to avoid questions being randomly asked/yielding rambling answers:

1. I have a questions library, broken into Strategic, Tactical, Communications, and Competencies questions.

2. I use a concept called E G O, my questions are asked in these categories: Engaging, Genuine Interest, and Opportunities

Judy Ryan

I send out a link to one of several detailed surveys I have on my website. I do this when I have an interested prospect or when I’m asked to do a presentation at an event. People perusing my site also find these surveys. When they take them, this helps me to both educate the prospect on what I do overall and also to gather important information on them to learn about their struggles, challenges, areas they need support and many other ways I can engage in conversation when we meet and even prior to a meeting through additional questions that surface.

These are just a few of the partner responses. 

Check out this article in the Academy to get all of them.

For further information, support and advice from thirty experts on this topic and many others, become a member of the e4e community by visiting our website at www.e4ecommunity.com

A Tale of Two Pricing Strategies

Imagine two companies. One touts results customers can expect and charges premium prices; the other touts low prices. Which one wins?

The two companies are Verizon and Sprint. Verizon’s premium prices allowed it to build one of the broadest, most reliable networks in telecommunications history. In addition to its customer-centric network, Verizon continues to show solid growth in revenues, profits, cash flow and shareholder value.

Contrast that with Sprint, which, despite rising revenues, has seen its net loss almost double in the past four years, its debt increased by 20% and its cash from operations dropped by 40%. Other than spikes in stock price associated with potential mergers, Sprint’s shareholders have seen little, if any, growth in the stock’s value.

Troubling times in the kingdom

What’s troubling to me is that:

  • Over the years I’ve offered countless examples of companies who enjoy great success with premium price strategies.
  • It takes me less than 5 minutes to identify and compare results of Verizon and Sprint or the myriad other companies I’ve cited in my blog posts.

Yet business ‘leaders’ continue to pursue low-price strategies.

Why?

Behaviors that fly in the face of evidence to the contrary beg the questions:

  • Are they simply not paying attention to what’s going on in the business world?
  • Are they so lost in the microcosm of their industry they can’t see what’s working for others?
  • Is their intellectual arrogance so great they won’t consider alternatives?
  • Is their fear so great they’re hobbled by it?
  • Do they perceive it to be easier to compete on price than to find new, exciting ways to serve their customers?
  • Do they view others’ success as something unavailable to them?

Result

Whatever the rationale, effects are devastating. Not just for the company itself, but for the economy as a whole. I’ve gone into greater detail about this in my white paper, Low Price Strategies Subvert Growth and Employment , but for now it’s sufficient to know low-price strategies being employed today are based more on cost shifting, than innovation.

When a large organization declares it is going to pay its vendors in 120 days, it shifted its financing costs to vendors who have a more difficult time obtaining financing and, consequently, will pay higher prices for that financing. This results in a less efficient use of resources in the economy and hampers economic growth, which limits employment.

Takeaway

Stop ignoring evidence. Reposition your offerings for premium prices and you too, can enjoy the success of companies like Verizon. If you’re not sure how to go about it, give me a call and, together, we’ll make it happen.

Dale Furtwengler is author of the internationally acclaimed book, Pricing for Profit. His company, Furtwengler & Associates, Inc., helps companies get higher prices regardless of what their competitors or the economy are doing. For more pricing/branding/marketing/sales tips visit his website, PricingForProfitBook.com.

Generate Optimal Results When Networking

Tom Ruwitch asks the panel, “When attending a networking event, what is one strategy, tactic or rule that you always keep in mind to generate optimal results for you and your business?”

As a business owner, you understand more than most, your time is money. You also realize networking is key to growing your business, even though sometimes networking events seem to be less successful than you’d like. For many who attend networking events, outcomes can be frustrating if you are not prepared to meet new people, do not set and achieve your business goals for attending, or fail to have purposeful and fruitful conversations with qualified prospects.

Building trusting relationships that lead to satisfying business transactions takes time, genuine care and a balance between people skills and a focus on your business goals and aspirations. Respect for self and others and a consistent relaxed and abundant mindset allow for business to flow due to a genuine helpful intent.

Read what nine independent e4e business owners and recognized experts report on the strategies, tactics or rules they keep in mind to generate optimal results when at networking events. In this way, you draw on the real-time experience of our experts to quickly decide strategies to benefit you and your business.

Four of our Nine Panel Experts:

Bill Prenatt

Actually, there are three strategies I execute on consistently: 1) I set a goal for how many valid prospects I expect to meet and I plan to enter into my data base; 2) I communicate clearly what business I’m in and what kind of prospect I’m interested in meeting. This usually cuts the conversation short with people I’m not aligned with; 3) I make it a habit to connect at least three prospects with existing connections.

Judy Ryan

e4e partner Fred Miller offered a great strategy in one of our recent workshops. He said we should not allow our time to be monopolized during a networking event. He gave an example of a person handling this in a thoughtful manner by saying, “Please excuse me. I committed to myself I’d meet 10 new people before the main event starts and I have a few more to go. Great meeting you!” What a wonderful, respectful and direct way to be upfront about wanting to meet more than one or two people at an event.

Keith Vollmar

Here is what I do when attending a larger networking event. For each meeting:

1. Walk away with no less than 2 business cards of individuals I have not met before.
2. Make sure I say hello to 2 or 3 established business friends who are key potential referral sources for me.
3. Ensure one new person gets the most out of networking event.

This is my routine at MO Venture Forum or similar larger group. For smaller groups, it depends on the number of people attending.

Cathy Sexton

For starters I have made the decision to cut way back on networking events. I think the time spent on networking events can get way out of hand if we are not careful. So my current strategy is to only attend with two purposes. To continue to build already valuable relationships and to make sure the events have my ideal clients also in attendance.

These are just a few of the partner responses. 

Check out this article in the Academy to get all of them.

For further information, support and advice from thirty experts on this topic and many others, become a member of the e4e community by visiting our website at www.e4ecommunity.com

When Is a Reward NOT a Reward?

Sellers are giving discounts to customers who would have bought anyway - at full price. Unfortunately, this does not hit home until it’s too late.

A lesson from Panera Bread Co.

In my February 28, 2011 post, Buying Customer Loyalty, I railed against reward programs. One restaurant chain, Panera Bread, has proven my point via the type of rewards it offers. Yes, I have a Panera card. I’m not above taking discounts offered even though I don’t advocate discounting to my clients.

In the earlier post I stated the customers’ need/desire for offerings don’t increase just because they’re receiving a reward. What does that mean for sellers? They’re giving discounts to customers who would have bought anyway - at full price. Unfortunately this reality does not hit home until the reward program is already in place.

What I have noticed recently with the Panera program is the rewards offered are not what I typically purchase. Based on the rewards offered, Panera is encouraging me to try new things or to visit at times I don’t normally visit. That’s not a reward, that’s a marketing strategy.

While I don’t have a problem with marketing strategies that encourage buyers to try new things or to return more frequently, I resent a ‘reward’ program that tries to accomplish the same goal. Maybe I’m too stringent in my definition of reward, but to me it’s something that has value to the recipient. When that ‘reward’ places the welfare of the presenter over the recipient, it loses the right to be called a reward.

The question is “How do you offset the revenue losses your reward program created while maintaining credibility with your customers?” Keep your marketing efforts and reward programs separate. It’s all right to announce new offerings, encourage customers to visit at times they typically don’t, to explore alternative uses of your offerings in your marketing materials, in any media you choose, just not in the rewards program.

Converting a reward program to a marketing program is a violation of your customers’ trust. Losing their trust is one of the quickest ways to drive your customers to your competitors. If you have fallen victim to the temptation of reward programs, don’t compound the problem by converting it to a marketing program.

Dale Furtwengler is the author of the internationally acclaimed Pricing for Profit. His company, Furtwengler & Associates, Inc., helps companies get higher prices regardless of what their competitors or the economy are doing. For more pricing/branding/marketing/sales tips visit his website, PricingForProfitBook.com

Video: Cold Email Marketing

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is getting emails, and immediately presenting a sales pitch, only to find that nothing comes of it.

Many business owners want to target a specific ideal customer and don’t have a warm introduction to do so. Cold emailing is identifying a prospect you want to do business with, finding their email and getting information in front of them that is appealing and effective. Cold emailing is different than a permission-based email campaign. Expert Josh Turner cautions viewers to be mindful and lawful using email by following a proven approach for sending appropriate messages to prospects, including:

  • Approach prospects in a meaningful and responsible manner
  • Observe rules of conduct that keep you within legal email guidelines.
  • Hold the intention to initiate a conversation with your prospects rather than throwing them a sales pitch

For valuable support and guidance creating LinkedIn approaches that have been proven to work, contact LinkedIn expert Josh Turner atjoshturner@gatewaycfo.com or visit his website www.gatewayCFO.com