Wednesday, August 31, 2005

"Generating Qualified Leads From Your Website"

Generating qualified leads can be one of the most difficult challenges businesses face in their marketing efforts. The key is to set up an automatic system that delivers leads to you. This can be accomplished through direct mail, and more recently online.

The internet has streamlined the process of gathering qualified leads for businesses automatically and at minimal cost, quicker and more efficiently than it's direct mail predecessor.

Most businesses today own and maintain a website. Most consumers now days also use the internet to research or find the products they are looking to purchase now or in the near future.

The opportunity for business owners to leverage this to their advantage exists then, and if your website is not generating qualified leads for you, here are some helpful tips.

1. Make it automatic. Your website must acquire and deliver the customer's information directly to the person who is to make the contact and eventually make the sale.

2. Give an incentive for your customers to contact you. Offer free reports, or free information regarding the products you offer. These reports should be non-biased and statistically based, informing the consumer of the benefits the products provide them.

3. Offer the option to be contacted. Make sure you ask, after gathering their contact information, and before your release their free report, for their permission to contact them with more detailed information.

4. Promise not to share their information. With our mailboxes filling daily with SPAM, no one wants to do business with a company that resells or releases their information to third-parties. State boldly that their information will never be sold or shared with anyone other than your business, without their prior permission.

Finally

5. Keep it short. No one wants to fill out their life story when researching a product, they simply want more information. Only ask for the contact information necessary to provide them with the solutions they are asking for.

Forms can be created on websites with relative ease. You can advertise your information via Google Adwords or other online advertising programs, directing people to the online form which will eventually send you their contact information. If you would like more information on creating an automatic lead generation system for your website, Royall Media provides these services. Of course, we will never share your email address or any other personal information with any third parties unless by your request.

Great book for generating leads online and off:

"Local Networking Through Your Chamber of Commerce"

One of the most overlooked resources for new business owners, or current business owners looking to take their company to the next level, is their local Chamber of Commerce.

Many business owners I know don't belong to the Chamber of Commerce. When I ask them why, many don't really have an answer, or simply say their business wouldn't benefit from the organization. I think the real issue at hand is the fact that these business owners have no idea what the Chamber of Commerce actually has to offer them. If they knew, they'd probably join in a heart beat.

Although the Chamber of Commerce probably benefits businesses that deal B2B (business to business) more so than a business that deals with the average consumer, the connections with other business owners and relationships you can make with other members in the Chamber of Commerce, can prove quite valuable. A realtor, for example, is not always considered to be in a B2B type of business, but even other business owners need to buy personal residences at times.

Networking lunches and weekend get-togethers are usually how most organizations provide a relaxed atmosphere where business owners can really get to know other business owners within their local community.

Networking aside, the Chamber of Commerce can provide other benefits as well. Many offer discount "clubs" for services to be traded within the Chamber of Commerce organization. For example, any service from any business who is a member is 10% off for any business who is also a member.

The monthly meetings can help one recognize change, and other opportunities within the local community.

Volunteering to help run the organization, or be on the board, can establish you as a local community leader, often leading to other opportunities.

Free listings and advertising in the directories can prove valuable, since many people look to their local Chamber of Commerce as a resource for having the information of businesses who provide the products they need.

Counseling services are sometimes offered to new businesses and start-ups.

My local Chamber of Commerce even has a meeting room available upon request for members to use whenever they please. Facsimile machines are also available for use, and there is a message board where many business owners post businesses for sale, partnering opportunities, or advertise their services.

As you can see the Chamber of Commerce can provide you with many marketing outlets to help your business succeed. You might meet someone along the way who has been looking for exactly that which you provide. You might make new friends, or meet new suppliers who can help make your business more profitable. Use the Networking lunches as a chance to get out of the office, and not fall into the trap of sitting in isolation scouring the internet for articles like this one.

You can usually find your local Chamber of Commerce by searching for "Chamber of Commerce" + your CITY and STATE on Google. Yearly dues are usually just a couple hundred dollars, but with just a few connections, you can easily re-coup the cost and turn a profit out of joining a fun local organization.

Monday, August 29, 2005

"Work Your Contact's Contacts"

One of my neighbors is a mortgage broker. He has been in the business just six months, and has seen explosive growth, so much so that this month he was complaining that he is bogged down with "too many" loans to process. What has happened for him is an exponential flood of referrals, due to his referral incentive.

He only has two marketing tactics. They are simple, and the latter is very effective.

The first thing he does is hand out a flyer and business card, explaining to his friends on the golf course (yes, that's what he does all day) that he is a mortgage broker, can find them the best rate, will push for a fast close, and help them to understand the process every step of the way.

The second thing he does is give his client an incentive to bring him another client.

His incentive is a free vacation. They range from trips for two to Hawaii, to Vegas, and even 4 day Carnival cruises for up to 6 people to the Bahamas. All his client has to do to receive the free vacation is to find him another client. That's it!

How does he do it you ask? To tell you the truth, the vacations are only costing him about $375.00 each, which is about 7-8% of his average commission check, a very small price to pay for another sale. Next month, he plans to buy 25 of these vacations in bulk, lowering his price of each to about $150.00, about 3% of his commission.

This is the only marketing he does. He hands out business cards stapled to a flyer, and he offers a referral incentive. The power of the referral incentive, if what you're offering is good, can bring you exponential growth in no time flat. Its a way to reach your contact's contacts, and if those new clients reach their contacts, be prepared to hire some help.

If you're interested in finding out how you can purchase these vacation packages to give away to your clients as well, I'll send you the details in an email. Email me at will@royallmedia.com.

Monday, August 22, 2005

"Marketing Videos Work Wonders, Distribute Them FREE"

We've all heard it before, a picture's worth 1000 words; but if ONE picture is worth ONE thousand words, how many words is a video worth? Well, to really do the math, there are 30 frames (or pictures) in every ONE second of video, multiply that by 60 seconds per minute, and a 5 minute video should be worth 9 million words.

Now that might be a slight exaggeration, but take this into consideration: you can really demonstrate your product or service in real time, add motion graphics, audio, and even request user interactivity when it comes to DVDs, and still send out the final product via direct mail, such as an old postcard mailing campaign. You can begin to see how a video can really boost your marketing return.

The exciting thing is, it's getting cheaper too.

Would you be interested if I said you could save on the production costs of creating the DVDs and mailing them out to people too? You can, by distributing your video via the World Wide Web. Then again, you could always double up, and create two venues to have your video seen by using direct mail AND the web.

Most households in America are now connected to the internet with a high-speed connection, either cable or DSL, and can view streaming videos online. You can add the interactivity of a DVD with a little Flash, a program by Macromedia.

Although sending out a DVD video gives the user an un-matched experience in their living room's home entertainment center, we can now add all the interactivity of a DVD and drama of a video to the web, embedded in a website, and "mail" them it via email. This could save thousands in DVD material costs and postage.

If you'd like to know more about getting a video produced for your company, or taking the video you already have to the web for cheaper distribution - email me at will@royallmedia.com.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

"Objectivity Wins in Marketing"

It would be difficult to say what the single most important marketing rule is, for there are so many one should follow. However, if we had to make a decision, I would say that being objective to the product or service in which you are trying to market, would rank near the very top.

Objectivity means not having any biased opinion about the product or service. That means even marketing agencies violate this rule often. Can you guess why? To make the sale. They tell the client, "This product is great! Everyone will love it! Give us $100,000 and we'll get our best advertisers on it right away."

True objectivity begins with the future consumer. To establish a position in the market place, you must know what the customer already believes is true.

The correct approach for the above marketing company to take would be to do research with the future consumer first, before beginning to advertise the product - as not to miss the mark. What if it isn't the greatest product? What if the idea is great, but the implementation still isn't right? What if it could be changed just slightly, but enough to significantly effect the sales (and maybe future success) of the product indefinitely?

Seek the opinions of others who have absolutely nothing to gain by siding with you. (This doesn't mean you can't pay them for their time, just be sure to compensate them equally regardless of their response.)

Seek out criticism and be open to change.

Then, and only then, should you begin and maintain a long-term advertising and sales strategy that appeals to the position or need that the customer already holds in their mind.

Financial gain, personal and emotional involvement, relationships, friendships, and a variety of other spikes in the road can cloud one's judgment and hide the obvious answer when it comes to successfully taking a product and distributing it to the market place.

Always be objective by listening to the end consumer, and valuing their responses the most.


Do the research for your product, find the right position, and market it successfully.

Friday, August 12, 2005

"Cash Flow Survival"

A company must create cash flow to survive. Many business owners don't realize that even a profitable company can go bankrupt with out cash flow. Profit is simply an accounting principle, don't get too enamered with it. You don't pay your bills or employees with profit.

Cash must be flowing in at the right time as well. You pay your employees each week, and your bills each month yet your customers pay you every 60 days. This will create a cash flow lapse that must be planned for. This is where cash flow forecasting comes in.

Cash forecasting is a record of known expenses in future months. This record helps business owners avoid overspending when a big check arrives and being left for broke when the annual insurance bill is due. This planning allows companies to catch profit oppurtuinties, and avoid hurting its credit rating and going bankrupt.

Here are some great tips for developing your business's sales forecast:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/0,4621,321257,00.html

Thursday, August 11, 2005

"Position Yourself in Your Customer's Mind"

When sitting down with clients, we focus on trying to find their (real) problematic issue. Much of the time they'll tell us something is bothering them, and we'll later find out that it's simply the effect of a much greater problematic cause. It's then up to us to make the customer see the solution that will be more than a temporary fix to their problem.

Take the job of the interior designer, for example. Their clients know they do not like the current design of the room, so they call in an expert to help them create the look they want.

However, if they knew what they really wanted, why would they need the designer? Couldn't they just tell a laborer to get to work?

So the designer's job is to take what is already in their client's mind and alter it, showing the customer what they really want, and letting them take credit for the idea. (By the time the space is complete, even if the customer's original idea is used in some fashion, it's most likely the designer who knew what would work within the space, and actually came up with the most practical idea.)

The example above can be applied to any sort of consulting business. Many times the client knows the have a problem, and thinks they have a solution. Go in, alter their solution so it actually works, and give them credit for it. Now they've got the real solution in their mind, one they've collaborated on and contributed something of value to, and of course, one that involves you.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"Starting-up, Reevaluating? Step Into a New Customer's Shoes."

A successful business must focus on what clients want rather than what the owner thinks they should have. When starting or reevaluating your business step back and put yourself in the customer's shoes. Look at the complete company as a new customer does. This allows you to see the glaring mistakes and keeps you moving in the direction of positive change.

The reason for taking a new customer's views is that existing customers are more like friends. They know more about your company than is apparent. They're more forgiving because you've done a good job for them. They are so familiar with you that they hardly notice if your company is declining. New customers presume that what they see is who you are.

Allow yourself into the mindset of a preverbial customer. Develop an idea of how they would view the business and assess and correct noticible weaknesses. Make changes logically and slowly. Make sure that all affected employees know what the change is, why it is necessary, and how it changes their jobs.

With evolution comes a transformation, and you want your business to evolve into a success therefore you cannot resist change!

"It May Be Time to Take Out the Trash"

Any business that's been in business for any significant time period has probably had to fire one of their problematic, or non-performing, employees. You might give them a chance to "shape up or ship out" first, but if they don't come around, its completely counter-productive to keep them.

Unfortunately, the same thing goes for a business's customers.

Although every business can profit from customer complaints by providing unprecedented service in handling the problem, and turn even the most distressed customers into life-long sources of future revenue, sometimes a problematic customer can cost your business more than its worth. The cost to fix their constant problems and keep them as satisfied customers hinders their ability to provide future profits over the long run.

Although it might not seem apparent, firing your worst customers could actually help your business, if they cost you more than their worth.

This reminds me of a joke I heard on a Mike's Hard Lemonade commercial that I saw on TV yesterday.

"Why is divorce so expensive? Because its worth it!"

Here are a few questions to ask before firing your worst customers:

1. Will the customer spend more money with me in the future if I help to solve their problem?

2. Will that future stream of income provide a profit for the business?

3. Will this customer refer more potential customers to me?

4. Will this customer tell potential customers of their dissatisfaction? (When something goes wrong, you can bet they'll tell ten other people.)

5. How much money have I lost trying to help this customer in the past?

6. Is it worth it?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

"Mass-Marketing is Dying, Here's How Your Business Can Survive"

Isn't it true that we all love to have new things? However, most people, wouldn't you agree, dislike the idea of being sold by a salesman?

Derived from the obvious answers to the questions above, I've come up with this theory:

No one likes to be sold, but everyone loves to buy.

Profits lie in helping your customers buy what they want, not in shoving your products down their throats. The easiest way to help your customers to buy, is to develop products around your customer's individualized needs.

This requires a one-on-one approach which defies the laws of mass-marketing. (Where a product is developed and then promoted to thousands of people to reach the few who will purchase it.) Wouldn't it make sense then, to look at the customers first, manage them (before we manage the product), find out what they want to buy, and help them buy it? Essentially, we could find something for everybody.

In previous times, it was not cost-effective to gather detailed information about individual customers and develop products around individual needs in big business. This would have taken billions of sheets of paper, and hundreds of dedicated researchers. There would be other people required to search through the billions of names and preferences of their customers, all making millions of recommendations about what a company should do next. A market-share approach of finding a generalized geographic or demographic pattern and providing whatever products sold well in that area was the most cost-effective way to market something. However now with the computer, a world of individual customer information can be stored, sorted, and even gathered automatically into an easily manageable database.

Could we not set up a system then that would recommend certain products to certain customers, helping them to buy what they really want to buy? Or a system that individualized products for customers based on preferences, such as color or style?

With technology, we can now set up a more efficient product recommendation system individualized per customer, rather than by a geograhic area. For example, with the old mass-marketing approach, one might develop 10 products and run a direct mail campaign within the neighborhood promoting the store brand name, or general product line. They would try to reach as many people as possible, hoping that 2% come in and eventually purchase a product.

Now however, with the advancement in computers and technology, one can now look into their customer database, which can be purchased if they haven't set one up, and find that product #6 fits customer #567 better than any other product they have, based on the customer's preferences. One could then make a recommendation to that customer about that specific product, available in their favorite color.

Instead of sending out a mass-marketing direct mail campaign, the business owner could send out an individualized post card or letter with the customer's name on it, promoting the product which best suits them. (We could apply this to several other mediums as well, such as sending the customer to a specific web page on the internet, or certain telemarketing script over the phone, etc.)

This might cost a bit more to set up in the beginning, designing several different post cards, letters, web pages, scripts, setting up the computer system to automatically gather information and match specific products with specific customers, printing their personal names on each letter, etc., but it can be done, and in the end you will have a more qualified, more personalized, cost-effective marketing tool which will generate more business than the old mass-marketing strategy, for the following reasons:

1. It is personalized to the customer.

2. It promotes a product which satisfies their specific need, and eliminates the fluff.

3. You found the product for them, so you're helping the customer to buy, which they love to do.

4. You're not trying to sell someone something they don't want.

All-in-all, the theory remains the same; find a need and satisfy it. The more targeted your target market is (down to each customer's personal preferences), the better your results will be. The point is, technology is making it easier and easier (and cheaper and cheaper) to take a one-on-one customer oriented approach to developing, promoting, and selling your products. The crazy noise in today's society makes it almost impossible for a mass-marketing campaign to achieve the same results as a fine-tuned and targeted, personalized, customer specific approach. Begin to manage your customers before you manage your products, and you could see your business taking a new direction, with new product developments - one that will prove more profitable on your bottom line.