Tag: strategy

Part 4: 8 reasons your business is not growing and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

Part 4: 8 reasons your business is not growing and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

It looks like we have gotten to the end of another series; man, has this one been a pleasure to write. We have learned several tactics and mindsets that can help you overcome your business growth challenges in this series.

It was a pleasure sharing reasons 1-6 in the first three parts of this blog. If you have not read them, make sure to read them on my Linkedin page or my website before diving into part 4 today.

Here is a quick recap of what we have covered in the first three parts.

  1. Cash Flow
  2. Dependent Model 
  3. Supporting Relationships (Trust) 
  4. Waste/inefficiency
  5. Leverage 
  6. Lack of curiosity 
  7. Vision with a plan
  8. A mirror

In this final installment, we will chat about arguably the two most important reasons you have not been able to grow your business the lack of sharable and actionable vision and to set yourself up with a mirror, a system of honest, open feedback.

Vision with a plan

Most people start their business without a plan. To be honest, it is a reaction to a problem that leads them to create a solution. That solution begins to create a vision of what their life could look like without this problem.

I fully agree that this is the best way to start a business. It allows you to follow an organic path and respond appropriately. However, there is a point in this experience where the moment begins to wain, where vision alone will not push you through.

I encourage you to create a plan before you get to this point. Most companies call this a strategic plan or business plan. It doesn’t matter what you call it if you don’t use it. This section will talk about some tips & tricks for constructing your plan, making it actionable, and ensuring it is something your company lives.

Core elements of your plan should include:

  • How you deliver your experience? Think of this as your external client journey. The step-by-step experience of your client. This should include all the actions and feeling your client will go through.
  • How you create your experience? Think of this as your internal client journey—the step-by-step experience of your employees. Include not only what they do but also think about how they will feel when they are doing it, what they need to be successful, and what their benefit is.
  • The financial model. This is self-explanatory but make sure you are projecting revenue, expenses, gross/net profit, and, if you can, cash flow for the next 3-5 years. Bonus if you can include where your expected revenue will come from.
  • Why do you exist? This is the most critical section to live every day. This is the great problem you solve or what change you hope to make in the world. This is the fuel that feeds your engines and those of your employees.

There are many other sections to a good plan, but in reality, it should fit under one of the above four areas of focus.

Tips for making your plan actionable

  • Write 1-5 concrete action steps for every goal in the plan to get it done. If you follow the above core elements, you will do this instinctively.
  • Assign the person or position/positions responsible for achieving the goals. Bonus point if you can break it down into the roles/ responsibilities based on the above journey.
  • Create how you will evaluate your plan’s performance. Include how often you will review goals and action steps. Include who will hold you accountable (best to use an outside coach or third party who can provide a penalty or reward based on achieving).

The final component is to make your plan sharable, making it a part of your companies everyday experience. If you followed all that has been said above and focused on creating your plan as if it is lived experience and not just goals on a piece of paper, then you have taken the first step in making it a livable component of your company. To take it to the next level, you can do a few things.

  • Bring in your leaders from all levels of your business. Create a cross-functional team of people from executive/top-level management to your front-end employees to review and give feedback. Then empower those leaders to propel the plan forward.
  • Create a corresponding training program to push the core reasons why. Teach the necessary skill to achieve the company goals.
  • Give autonomy to execute these plans.
  • Sit back and let things run their course.
  • Repeat your reason why as often as you can.
  • Have your employees share their reason why often and ask them to incorporate those reasons into the companies why.

I know this is a brief overview of strategic planning. However, it is essential that you engage in this process if you wish to grow your business and you’re currently slowing down or lacking momentum.

Lastly, do not do this in a vacuum; get help; it is excellent to engage in an outside agency to help facilitate it. It is worth investment as it will allow you to think and operate with a long-term mindset. Finally, start your planning process before it is too late.

A Mirror

If you have read this far, your head is spinning with the action you can take. However, before you do anything else, could you do one thing?

Turn the camera on your phone and make sure it’s pointed at you. I am assuming you’re now looking at yourself in the screen. Now wave.

What did you notice about how you waved? Did you see your facial expression or the angle of your hand? Did you notice the bags under your eyes or the position of your feet? Did you feel anything interesting?

Now, what if that mirror could talk? What if it could share what it is seeing, the experience it has, and the things it has heard? How could that change you?

If you genuinely want to solve your business’s problems, you need to get an honest view of what and how you’re doing. There are many ways to get this feedback from family, friends, employees, but the best way is going to be through coaching.

The main reason is that you have invested in making yourself better by facing your faults and insecurities. That is in addition to them seeing opportunities where you don’t, providing you business education, access to additional resources, and so much more. However, I don’t want to write an entry on the benefits.

Sidebar: I personally have three coaches, one for business marketing, one for general business strategy, and one for mindset.

Instead, I want to talk about the insecurity of getting help.

The first insecurity to be prepared for is the fear that your coach will make you face yourself. They will force you to confront the things you don’t want to or have neglected. When you start this process, it can hurt, but the relief as you start making progress and begin to see your vision come to life. It can be the most rewarding thing.

The next insecurity to be prepared for; is do you really trust. A great coach is not only going to help you implement profit-generating changes in your business but also time freeing strategies. This usually requires you to invest in more people that can be employees, or it can be outside services.

One of the most demanding challenges is to give up control over your baby. However, learning how to build real trust is a game-changer and the only real way to have the lifestyle you want.

The final insecurity to be prepared for; is delayed reward. Change takes time, and lasting change takes even longer. There are plenty of gurus out there that will say they solve the “insert problem” in just a few weeks or months. Many of them can do it but will that solution last. The answer is no.

The only way to create lasting change is to change yourself. Be prepared that it may take you time to make the internal changes to get the external results, but please do not allow that to stop you.

Thank you for reading this four-part series on the 8 reasons your business is not growing. I hope you have found it enlightening and that you implement at least one change. If you have read this far, I want to make you a special offer. I will provide you with one profit acceleration assessment and one month of coaching for free. All you have to do is email me and write in the header, “I want to grow my business.” Then, I will contact you to get started.

I look forward to helping you achieve your dreams. Remember, the best time to change was yesterday, so you better change today.

The offer of free PAS and one month of coaching is good from January 20th, 2022, until February 20th, 2022.

Part 3: 8 reasons your business is not growing, and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

Part 3: 8 reasons your business is not growing, and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

In our last installment of the 8 reasons why we discussed two roadblocks that, when done right, can provide you with the structure for effective growth. I strongly suggest reading the previous blogs before jumping into this one.

Today we will discuss numbers 5 & 6 on our list of roadblocks. In addition, we will be chatting about leverage (use of debt) and the lack of curiosity.

  1. Cash Flow
  2. Dependent Model
  3. Supporting Relationships (Trust)
  4. Waste/inefficiency
  5. Leverage
  6. Lack of curiosity
  7. Vision with a plan
  8. A mirror

As with this entire series, one of these roadblocks is more tactical while the other is cultural. Why change a good thing now? Let’s get to discussing these two essential roadblocks.

Leverage

Many first-time or small business owners have the dream of being able self finance their business. Amazingly they will generate enough profit to pay themselves and provide the lifestyle they want while fueling their business growth. However, this is rarely possible. Instead, you will need to get some source of financing, which brings us to leverage.

Before I explain leverage and how you can use it to pole-vault your business. I must share a warning. With leverage comes taking on debt; debt comes additional risk with potential greater reward. However, if you have assembled a team of supporting organizations, including CPAs, CFP’s, & Business coaches, you can mitigate this risk.

Now that I have shared the warning, let’s dive into the superpower that can come with leverage. What is leverage?

Leverage results from using borrowed capital as a funding source when investing to expand the firm’s asset base and generate returns on risk capital.

Okay, so what does that mean. Let me give you a scenario that may help. Say you have a fantastic toy that requires you to cut out many small pieces using a laser cutter. However, your company is currently only worth (equity value) $100,000; this is the money you are using to cover your current operating expenses.

However, you know if you were able to purchase a few laser cutters for, say, $300,000, this would expand your max capacity and allow you to increase your total production by a factor of 10. So how can you raise this money?

If you watch Shark Tank, then you have seen companies raise money by giving up equity. However, there is another way by using debt financing.

You can borrow the money that you would need to purchase the equipment. Essentially you provide the lender with a promise to pay back the debt plus interest. This is an excellent option because you do not have to give up any ownership control of your business.

When to use leverage? When it comes to business, it is best to use leverage when launching new projects, increasing inventory, capital expenditures, and expanding the company’s overall operation.

If you’re considering expanding your business or have the desire to grow, make sure to consider leverage (debt) as an option to reach those goals. Once again, make sure to consulate your team of experts before taking on the additional risk. This can be a great tool to grow your business without giving up a level of operational control.

P.S. There are many ways to debt finance your business, from private lenders to small business loans.

Lack of Curiosity

Would you consider yourself curious?

Building a culture of curiosity can be one of the greatest tools to getting your business past the roadblocks that keep it from growing. Curiosity leads to problem-solving, problem-solving leads to calculated risk-taking, and calculated risk-taking leads to exponential returns.

This trait needs to be developed into your culture, not just an owner trait. You want all of your employees to be curious. This is a weird thing to hear from a consultant who specializes in creating SOP’s, but to me, it is truly the most important trait have in a company. So how do you build curiosity? There are many ways, but here are a few of my favorites.

  • Manage through questions
  • Have a failure policy
  • Communicate your guidelines
  • Create time for staff to explore their interests
  • Create employee dream plans as part of your onboarding & employee review process
  • Engage all levels of your organization in strategic planning

Anyone or a combination of these systems can begin to develop a company-wide curiosity. So what are the benefits of curiosity?

  • Your team will feel more positive and driven toward building the organization.
  • As an owner, you will have reduced stress because your employees will constantly use their problem-solving skills.
  •  Your company will develop a shared language organically and system for communication.
  • As an owner, you will develop higher levels of trust
  • Your company will become a place where people want to work
  • As an owner, you will begin to see problems solve themselves

With all that said, how are you developing a culture of curiosity?

Wow, what a third entry in our series. I hope you have begun to see changes you can make in your business at this point. Next week we will wrap up out 8 reasons your business is not growing with the importance of creating a shared vision and the most crucial reason a lack of a mirror,

Please feel free to share this series with a friend or colleague and let me know your thoughts in the comments. Also, if we can be of any assistance or answer any questions, please feel free to email us. 

Remember, the best time to make a change was yesterday, so you better start changing today.

Is growing your business your goal? Then a COO should be your next hire.

Is growing your business your goal? Then a COO should be your next hire.

The right time to hire a chief operating officer (COO) is just before trouble appears in your company. But, unfortunately, the reality is that most businesses realize they need a COO too late.

Signs that you need a COO:

  • You spend too much time working in your business and not on your business.
  • You find yourself stopping business growth activities to maintain your everyday. 
  • You are feeling constantly overwhelmed and struggling daily in your company.
  • You know you need to strengthen and solidify your leadership team.
  • Your company needs to grow significantly in scale operations.

A COO — especially your first one — should come from outside your company. Insiders are typically part of the problems you are facing. However, they lack the perspective, required knowledge, skills, or experience to view your company objectively and with checked emotions.

The COO Position

A COO is quite different than any other employee in your company.

Typically, the leader of a company is a visionary. As the visionary, you operate best when thinking long-term, generating big ideas, fanning a fabulous culture, and cultivating strategic relationships. Without a COO, you become mired in the day-to-day operations, which can cause your business to stagnate, wither and eventually die.

A COO is your team’s number 2, your MVP! As your integrator and executor, the COO brings your entire company together to deliver products and services effectively and efficiently.

The COO is the quintessential “change champion.” They define needed changes, lead the change effort, manage the change and even celebrate the success of the change.

Your COO is your closest partner, coach, and mentor. The COO is trusted to run your company when you are not there. They have the ability to take your vision and execute it to an extent unimagined. As a coach and mentor, your COO not only supports your personal and professional business development but that of the entire company.

Your First COO

When you need a COO, you are looking for someone typically with years of experience and education — much more than most companies can afford for their first COO.

A COO is much more than a highly paid operations manager. However, companies typically make one or all of these four mistakes when they need a COO:

Mistake #1. Possibly the most egregious mistake is they hire the COO last. Instead, the companies prioritize the  CMO, CTO, VP of Sales before hiring their COO, causing an effect that leads to dysfunctional and siloed organizations without a clear vision and priority.

Mistake #2. Instead of hiring the C-suite executive they need, they seek a director or vice president of operations. This choice saves them an executive salary, benefits, bonuses, and perks. People hired in this role are expected to operate at the position of a COO without the title but usually cannot.

Mistake #3. They lowball the salary of their new COO position. This forces them to hire someone capable of being a director or vice president of operations but who will fail to meet the expectations of a COO.

Mistake #4. The company treats the COO position as if it were any other position within the company. Thus, the hiring process, benefits, bonuses, and perks all mirror those of most other employees.

The reason companies make these mistakes are because of two things. One, they cannot afford the true talent they need. They do not understand the inherent differences between this position and every other position in their company.

The first COO is one of the most critical positions to get right. Hiring the wrong COO can cause your company to struggle significantly.

Consider A Fractional COO

If you cannot afford what your company needs, how do you move forward? You cannot keep struggling in your visionary role while being the full-time integrator.

A fractional COO is a business professional with many years of experience willing to work in a temporary capacity, part-time. That would typically amount to the same as hiring someone full-time. However, you can bring on talent with experience as a business owner, business coach/consultant, or former full-time COO without all the costs. Fractional COOs might get paid the same as a full-time COO, but they bring to your company much more. Plus, there are many other benefits to contracting with a fractional COO.

Benefits:

  • A fractional COO will take a company through a process that produces the tools to answer the essential questions of how can we grow?
  • A fractional COO works in a hybrid model, saving you from creating a separate executive office.
  • Fractional COOs do not require an elaborate executive hiring process — thus, you do not have to build separate HR processes for just one position.
  • Being a contract employee, the fractional COO does not require executive benefits, bonuses, or perks.
  • A fractional COO creates a try-it-before-you-buy-it experience, allowing you to kick the tires and determine what you need from a full-time COO.
  • The fractional COO is there to work themselves out of a job — they focus on building your company so you can truly afford a full-time COO in the future, and they can even help you find and hire their replacement.
  • If the fractional COO does not work out, let them go — firing an executive can be a grueling situation fraught with cost and legal dangers, but allowing a contract employee to go is relatively easy.

If you take anything from this blog, invest in a COO if you want to grow your business, produce franchises, make a sellable business, or achieve whatever goal you have. They’re your partner who specializes in making your dream come true. 

If you want to discuss if your business is ready for a COO, click the link and sign up for a one-hour strategy consultation. Remember, the best time to change was yesterday, so you better make the change today. 

 

20,000 ft. to go until your next client

20,000 ft. to go until your next client

In my previous blog, I gave you a laundry list of tips and tricks you can use to make your word of mouth program work for you. Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to review and decide which one to three tips you plan to use in your campaign.

If you have not, make sure you go back and read the list, pick the tips and tricks the best fit your product/service, ideal customer, and company culture.

Today, we will wrap up this series on word-of-mouth, where we provide you with a 20,000-foot view of your campaign. 

Now, let’s get started building your campaign:

  1. Build your influencer network.
    1.  Find some way to get the product into the hands of key influencers. A good influencer is passionate about the problem you solve with your product/service and has access to 5000 or more of your ideal customers.
    2. Provide a channel or help the influencer to activate theirs, allowing them to share their experience.
  2. Review & Testimonials 
    1. Capture testimonials from the beginning and before they’re done with your service or product.
    2. Offers lots of testimonials and other resources.
    3. Develop clips on your website featuring enthusiastic customers talking with other excited customers. 
    4. Create an opportunity for prospective clients to meet past clients.
  3. Create an opportunity to share experiences 
    1. Form an ongoing group that meets once a year in a resort and once a month by teleconference.
    2. Create fun events to bring users together and invite non-users. Saturn, Harley-Davidson, and Lexus have all been successful with this approach.
    3. Hold seminars and workshops.
    4. Create a club with membership benefits.
  4. Gorilla 
    1. Pass out flyers. 
    2. Tell friends. 
      1. Offer special incentives and discounts for friends who tell their friends.
    3. Put business cards on all the cars you see
  5. Put the Internet to work.
    1. Do at least one outrageous thing to generate word-of-mouth. We live in an age of 10s video’s.
  6. Empower employees to go the extra mile.
  7. Encourage networking and brainstorming ideas.
  8. Run special sales.
  9. Encourage referrals with the use of a strong referral program.
  10. Use a script to tell people exactly what to say in their word-of-mouth communication.

These are all fantastic ways to get the word out about your products and services and start a word-of-mouth campaign that takes on a life of its own. However, before you can release your word-of-mouth campaign out into the world, you need to go through the checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the essentials.

Word-of-mouth campaign checklist:

  • Are all of your communications sending the same simple message? If it can’t survive word-of-mouth, it’s not a compelling story.
  • Is your product positioned as part of a category? Ex.”A dandruff shampoo that doesn’t dry your hair.”
  • Are your examples outrageous enough to be shared?
  • Do you enhance your materials with success stories from real people?
  • Are you using experts effectively and in an objective manner?
  • Have you created mechanisms so people can follow up on the word-of-mouth they hear, as well as simple ways of inquiring or ordering?
  • Have you made the decision process easy for customers?
  • Have you created events and mechanisms so that your prospects hear about your product/service once a year, and it is easier to try or buy?
  • Have you written down the specific behaviors you want your prospect to follow during each step of the campaign?
  • Are your people primed? 
  • Am I ready to handle all the additional communication?
  • Am I ready to handle all the additional business?

These are essential elements to keep in mind when taking a second or even third check over your word-of-mouth campaigns. I hope you’ve found this series on word-of-mouth to be a great resource and are getting ready to put it into action for your products and services.

Remember, if you need help with anything in this series, try our FREE test drive to gain access to the best resources, tools, and business coaches you can find.

39 Tried and True Lessons to Put Your Word-of-Mouth to Work

39 Tried and True Lessons to Put Your Word-of-Mouth to Work

In the last post, we talked about conducting word-of-mouth research and then putting that research to work. Today we’re going to give you 39 great tried and true ways to use word-of-mouth when building and executing your campaign.

We’ve done it in a list form, so you can go through and highlight the ones you want to put into action. For more information read George Silverman’s “The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing”.

Here they are:

  1. Give them something worth talking about
  2. Cater to your initial customers shamelessly
  3. Give them incentives to engage in word of mouth
  4. Ask them to tell their friends
  5. The customer is always right
  6. Always tell the truth
  7. Surprise the customers by giving them a little more than they expected 
  8. Give them a reason to buy, make them come back, and refuse service from anyone else other than you
  9. Make eye contact, and smile, even through the telephone
  10. Find ways to make doing business with you a little better: a warmer greeting, a cleaner floor, nicer lighting, a better shopping bag, extra matches, faster service, free delivery, lower prices, more selection.
  11. Never be annoyed when a customer asks you to change a large bill even if he doesn’t buy anything.
  12. The customer is your reason for being. Never take her for granted. If you do, she will never come back and will go straight to your competition.
  13. Always dust off items, but never let the customer see you doing it.
  14. Never embarrass a customer, especially by making him feel ignorant.
  15. Never answer a question coming from a desire to show how smart you are. Answer with a desire to help the customer make the best decision.
  16. Never shout across the store, “How much are these condoms?” or anything about the personal items a customer is buying.
  17. When you don’t know, say so. Do whatever you can to find out the answer.
  18. Every customer is special. Try to remember their names.
  19. Don’t allow known shoplifters into the store.
  20. Don’t ever let two sales staff talk when a customer is waiting. The worst thing you can do is count your cash while a customer is waiting.
  21. If you can suggest something better, they will be grateful. Always respect their choice.
  22. Never pressure anyone into buying anything.
  23. Never knowingly give bad advice. Just help people come to the right decision.
  24. Personally visit the store of the competition or assign people to visit and report back to you.
  25. Hire a shopping service to prepare periodic reports on how your people are treating your customers.
  26. If you hear of a store where the management is insulting the customers, buy it, then put up the sign “Under New Management” outside. Then sell it later based on the increased sales.
  27. One expert (in the drugstore’s case, a nurse or physician) who is convinced you are better brings hundreds of customers and their friends through word of mouth.
  28. Always look for ways to make a stranger a customer.
  29. People will walk several blocks to save a dollar, or see a smile, or be treated right.
  30. Always run a sale promotion or an offbeat event. Make them come back to see what you are cooking up next.
  31. Use the best sign-maker you can find and pay him more than anybody else.
  32. If someone is mad at you, they will tell everyone who will listen for as long as they are angry, maybe even longer. So correct any dissatisfaction, and ask customers to send their friends.
  33. Treat your employees and salespeople who sell to you the same way you treat your customers.
  34. Have a zero-error system. There may be terrible consequences for example if a mistake is made filling a prescription. Have people check each other’s work for safety.
  35. Occasionally make intentional mistakes to see if people are checking.
  36. Always measure your performance.
  37. Always ask a customer to “come back soon.”
  38. If customers say they are moving away, offer to send them their favorite items by mail.
  39. Tell jokes.

 

I know your looking at this exhaustive list and asking yourself how can I implement these lessons. We’re going to wrap up this lesson to give you a chance to digest, prioritize, and plan. To aid you with this here is a little homework assignment.

Go through the list again, find 1 or 2 lessons that fit your company and that you feel you can implement. Then I want you to write down we business activities the lessons are relevant to. Next, write down a no more than 5 step process to implement those lessons into that business activity. This will provide you with a quick action plan.

If you need help with this process, feel free to email me at doogie@ideasactionsuccess.com and I will review it and provide you with feedback. 

Remember the best time to change was yesterday, so you better start today.

Search & Implement

Search & Implement

People only remember the extraordinary, strange, wild, surprising, and unusual. You need to make sure your ideas and marketing reflect these reactions. This doesn’t mean you have to have a product or service that is completely out of the norm; in fact, this could easily drive customers away. You need to have a product or service that is high quality and marketable, then you need to market it as extraordinary and new. 

As you research word of mouth, there are some questions you need to ask along the way:

What are the users willing to tell the non-users?

  • Exactly how do your customers describe your product?
  • What are the non-users willing to ask the users?
  • What are the things they need to know but are unwilling to ask?
  • What happens when these issues are raised?
  • Precisely what do your prospects have to know to trigger purchase?
  • Exactly how do your customers answer the objections, concerns, and qualms of your prospects?
  • How do your customers persuade their friends to use your product?
  • How do your customers suggest they initially get to know or try your product?
  • What warnings, safeguards, tips, and suggestions do your customers tell to your prospects?
  • Are your sales messages, positioning, and important facts about your product getting through and surviving word of mouth?
  • What messages do you need to inject into the marketplace to turn the tide in your favor, and how will you deliver them?

 

There are two main reasons why word of mouth research is so important:

  1. To get the real impression and feedback from customers
  2. To define word of mouth itself and the concept it creates

There is a simple formula that can help you conduct your word-of-mouth research. It’s called the “2-2-2” model.

2-2-2- Model

What this breaks down to is:

  • Two groups of customers 
  • Two focus groups of prospects
  • Two mixed groups (enthusiasts & skeptics)

 

In these groups, you need to ask the following questions:

  1. What would you tell a friend?
  2. How would you persuade a skeptic?
  3. What questions would you anticipate from a skeptic?
  4. How would you answer their objections?

The best way to conduct these groups is by teleconference. This ensures you’ll get a good variety of demographics for your customers and potential customers. It also allows people to feel safe and more able to express their true feelings. To avoid adding pressure to the situation, these teleconferences should not be conducted by you but by an independent party.

We’re going to transition a bit and talk about how to construct a word-of-mouth campaign. First, we’ll talk a look at the essential ingredients you need to put together a campaign. These ingredients are:

  • A superior product
  • A way of reaching key influencers in your marketplace
  • A cadre of experts willing to bat for you
  • A large number of enthusiastic consumers
  • A way of reaching the right prospects
  • One or more compelling stories that people will want to tell to illustrate your product’s superiority
  • A way to substantiate, prove, or back up your claims and how the product will work in the real world
  • A way for people to have direct, low-risk experience, a demo, sample, or free trial
  • A way of reducing overall risk, an ironclad guarantee

 

Once you have those ingredients ready to use, you should consider the situations in which your company can benefit from a strong word-of-mouth program. Some of these situations are:

  • When there are credibility problems
  • When there are breakthroughs
  • When there are marginal improvements
  • Where the product has to be tried in large numbers or over time
  • Where there is a high risk in trying the product
  • With older or mature products that have a news story that people tend to ignore
  • With unfair competitive practices such as spreading rumors or telling lies about your product
  • When there are governmental or other restrictions on what you may say or claim directly

 

While most of the word-of-mouth tactics are favorable for your word-of-mouth program, there are a few products to avoid using in this program. They are:

  • Products where a seminar would not provide meaningful added value
  • Products that can’t be tried and where there is no consensus among experts
  • Products that are inferior, without having a compensating superiority for similar products
  • Products that are so personal or emotional that rational discussion is irrelevant to the decision
  • The medium will not be cost-effective for products where the decision value is so small (low price/low volume). 

This wraps up this post on word-of-mouth research and how that research can be used when putting together your word-of-mouth campaign. However, if you need help with the research and a plan to use the results of that research, try our FREE test drive to get all the help you need with our top-notch resources and tools.

Meeting Your Customer Head On WOM Style

Meeting Your Customer Head On WOM Style

Today we’ll cover the idea of shortening your customers’ decision-making process with positive word of mouth. There are essentially five stages in the decision-making process.

They are:

  1. Give the product/service a chance and transition from a “no” to a “maybe.”
  2. Check out the options and investigate the different products/services available.
  3. Observe the product/service to check for potential benefits, features, and operations to see if they fit their needs.
  4. Become a customer and purchase their first item. They will be discriminate with their first product as they form their opinion of you.
  5. Purchase again and starts spreading positive word of mouth as an advocate of your products.

So, let’s take a closer look at each one of these.

From “No” to “Maybe”

This stage is crucial because if your potential client doesn’t even take a second look at your products and services, then you have no chance of sealing a deal. It is paramount that you have invested time in the education of your potential client. This is your chance to provide value before they give up their hard-earned cash.

You want your customer to say how much they enjoyed your presentation, or they say have you seen this new commercial. Better yet they say have you heard of (insert your product/service) I hear it is truly the best at solving their problem.

A couple of quick tips:

  • Have great guarantees like trying it before you buy it or we 100% guarantee your satisfaction or will give you 110% back.
  • Give value before you get value. You can do something as simple as sending a personalized card with a gift card or a copy of your favorite book.

Investigating Your Products

At this stage, they are taking a closer look at your product line to see if there is actually anything that could benefit their life. This is where you need to make sure your information is right out there in front for the customers to see and compare.

Think about creating a comparison between you and your chief competitor or industry leader. It is your chance to explain why your process or product is distinctively better.

Quick tips:

  • Comparison charts
  • Third-party evaluation
  • Testimonials

Trial Period

Customers often feel more at ease and ready to purchase when there is some sort of a trial in place. They usually want to try vicariously through someone else, so they don’t feel any risk involved. An excellent way to offer this is through demo videos, product demonstrations, or a tour of your facilities. This stage may invoke a reaction of “I tried it and liked it. You should check it out.”

It is your chance to share how your relationship will develop. All of a sudden it becomes more about you and them instead of your product/service and their problem. This creates long-term value.

Quick Tips:

  • Demo, walkthroughs, 14-day trials
  • Have a communication plan in place during this period

Make a Purchase

At this stage, they have taken the risk of purchasing one of your products or services and are now evaluating how easy, convenient, cost-effective, and satisfying your product/service is. At this stage, a common reaction would be, “It was really easy to use and learn from. It’s really great, and you should get it!”

This is your chance to get them to become one of your champions. This can be done in a few ways.

  • You can upsell them on a more premium service or product, giving them more accessible to you.
  • You can engage to write a testimonial or better yet film one
  • Ask them to refer a friend

It is pivotal to have a plan on how to engage them after they purchase.

Advocates for Your Products

At this last stage of decision-making, the customer is immensely pleased with your product and often keeps using it and/or comes back for more products and services. They are likely telling everyone they know how much they like it, that they use it every day and have already (or will be) back to your establishment for more.

Types of Purchasers

We talked a minute ago about the different types of purchasers. Now we will take a closer look at their characteristics, so you can figure out which tactics are best to use at the right stage of the decision-making process.

The Innovator

  • Wants to stand out from the crowd
  • Know what’s hot and trendy
  • Likes “strange” or “weird” new products
  • Wants to be the first to try and will talk about it animatedly

Early Adopter

  • Driven by excellence
  • More concerned with possibilities than realities
  • Always looking to be a leader
  • Always looking for a new vision

Middle Majority

  • Wants to be perceived as competent
  • Concerned about practicality and easy comparisons
  • Needs an easy way out if not satisfied
  • Wants products that meet the industry standard

Late Majority

  • Generally skeptical and wants to know the risks upfront
  • Needs to shop around for the best deal
  • Needs a support system
  • Wants what everyone else has

Laggard

  • Needs it to be completely safe and traditional
  • Needs reassurance that nothing will go wrong
  • Won’t try new things unless it’s the last resort
  • Will search for loopholes and problems
  • Wants to use it in the standard industry way

As you can see, each type of consumer wants something just a little different depending on their personality type. Therefore, the key to successful word of mouth is to target and cater to every kind of consumer. If you need help identifying the types of consumers you are currently helping, and how to attract the types you are lacking, book a free consultation and I’ll provide you with one year of access to our online marketing academy $1200 value (offer good until January 1st, 2021).

Next time we’ll talk about how word of mouth messages are delivered and what you can do to help facilitate that.

10 x Your Resources to Maximize Your Resources Part 4

10 x Your Resources to Maximize Your Resources Part 4

If you have read this series so far, you have received nine great ways to get the most out of your resources. So far, we’ve covered:

  1. Call in the Troops
  2. Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork
  3. Black Sheep Clients
  4. Olympic-Size Sales Staff
  5. Open Water Fishing 
  6. Call for Back-Up
  7. Go Big Online
  8. Bartering with the Best
  9. Give Away the Farm

You have found ways to maximize your clients, staff, time, and more. Today we’ll finish up this series with the last three ways to multiply your maximized resources. We’ll cover:

  1. Finding Your Pot of Gold
  2. Put Yourself Out of Business Before Your Competition Does it For You
  3. Wealth from the Inside Out

These areas are all key to keeping up the momentum you’ve found to make what you have work harder for you.

Finding Your Pot of Gold

You must always have a goal you’re working toward to stay on course. Your plan needs to be something you can attain and utilize your full potential. Don’t be afraid to aim high; make sure you are clear on your goal and exactly what you need to do to get there. You need to continue to hold yourself accountable to your goal and raise the bar as you accomplish the steps to your goal.

A few goal setting techniques to consider are:

  • Exit planning: You can’t know how to get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going.
  • Fear setting, this goal-setting technique allows you to address your anxiety and hesitation. Great if you need to make a significant investment.
  • SMART, great if you need to make short-term tactical goals.

No matter what you need to accomplish, excellent goal setting can make a difference in resource management.

Put Yourself Out of Business Before Your Competition Does it For You.

Once you’ve mastered these areas, you need to make sure you stay competitive and constantly come up with new ways to use your new tools. Don’t rest on one success when there are more on the horizon. To continue to be successful, your business must continue to learn and evolve.

When you get to this point, it is time to set aside 1 to 4 days a month where you, as the business owner, spend time working on your business. This means for that day; you do not answer emails, do daily tasks, etc. Instead, you spend the day thinking about opportunities and find new ways to grow your business.

Wealth from the Inside Out

Wealth and riches are defined within yourself, not by your profits or the world beyond. You can use all these strategies in both your business and life to find a greater level of success. When you naturally reflect on who you are and what you mean, you will automatically attract the right people to you. This will happen in life and business. 

You can reach your goals as long as they are well-defined and a solid road is built to them.

Throughout the last several lessons, we’ve talked about how to take a hard look at the resources you currently have right in front of you, how to take advantage of them, and leverage them to maximize your results. 

I hope this series has inspired you to look at your business and see the opportunities it provides. If you need help applying, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free business evaluation. We will review your business in providing you with a road map to your companies success.

O No First Contact! Are you prepared?

O No First Contact! Are you prepared?

Home page picture, used for social post

In the last post, we learned the process for researching our big fish (ideal client). Being prepared to make a great first impression is imperative to your success. Your strategy needs to instill confidence. The prospect needs to know you can meet expectations on time, at a reasonable price, and the quality at or above expectation. 

Now let’s begin to create the perfect first impression. Building a good plan starts with identifying the right big fish. Take a look at your notes and the research you’ve done about prospective fish. Then decide which one will be the most straightforward approach to start with.

There are a series of things to go through in choosing which fish to start with. They are:

  • Compile Your Hit List
  • Prepare your position
  • Define where to start 

Compile Your Hit List

Start with a list of all the companies you’ve been considering. Then narrow it down to the ones who know could use your products or services. Don’t overlook obvious choices, whether they are big or small. Don’t discount a company just based on the physical size. A small company can have significant opportunities. Think back to your earlier work where you identified what makes a good big fish.

Prepare your position 

You need to prepare your customer research. This starts by creating a documented procedure including the companies revenues, perceived target audience, industry challenges, company culture, decision-makers, etc. Use this tool to get into the heads of your clients to understand their needs and wants.

Once, you have the information you’re ready to make the first move.

Define where to start (prioritize) 

Great so you have been able to narrow your list to a responsible 10-20 ideal clients. Now you need to set priorities of who you should contact first. To help you chose please consider the following:

  • Which have the most purchasing resources to spend?
  • Does their company vision complement yours?
  • What are their employee incentive programs as they relate to your products/services?
  • What’s the company’s actual need for you?
  • Will the partnership lead you off-course?

 

Now you should have a target in mind to start with. It’s time to plan your approach and execute that plan.

Here’s the step-by-step plan to help you make an excellent first impression:

  1. Build and analyze your database. Use the following lead tags to categories and track your sales process (if you don’t like these, come up with your own, but make sure you a definition that includes the behaviors your prospect should be displaying): hot leads, great fits, warm leads, and secondary leads.
    1. Great fits: these are the top 1-3 from your list above.
    2. Hot leads: these are leads that you have been able to engage in meaningful conversations. Specifically, you have spoken with them, and they have moved to the end of your pipeline.
    3. Warm leads: these are the leads that you have engaged in meaningful conversation but have not been able to get over all their objections. They see you as a problem solver and their most likely solution but you still have to get them over the hump.
    4. Secondary leads: These are not great fits, but you feel you can still bring value to them. However, they may not be your ideal for several reasons.
  2. Send out initial mailings (this a print mailing, you may, in addition, consider sending an email) to peak interest, educate, and establish preeminence. It should be short, clean, and concise. Ideally, to speak to the problem they have and don’t want.
  3. Follow up with your first phone call 2-3 days after they would have received the mailings. During the phone call, find out whom you need to be speaking with in the future and set up a meet with the right person.
  4. Follow up your phone call with another mailing/E-mailing/social contact that thanks them for taking the time to speak with you and offer more details about your products/services. Use this letter and opportunity to set up a meeting to do a presentation.
  5. Follow up the letter with another phone call a couple of days after receiving the letter. This phone call is to help you further develop your relationship with the prospective client. You should also be able to set up a presentation meeting with them. 
  6. Call again a week later if they haven’t agreed to a meeting or presentation. Ask if they received your creative letter (the second one) and if they have a minute when you can stop by and introduce yourself in person.
  7. Repeat, Adjust and Adapt. No process is perfect; keep adapting and changing your contact method and message as long as the prospective client fits that ideal process. 

Now, don’t be upset if you don’t seal the deal right away. Some people simply take a little longer to woo. This can all be a little intimidating at first, but you can’t go wrong when you know you are offering a quality product/service.

Once you’ve gone through this process and make the first contact (and hopefully a good first impression), it’s time to put your best face forward, which means sending the right salesperson to seal the deal.

If you need help putting together your approach and make an excellent first impression, schedule a free consultation to discuss your big fish.

The best time to start was yesterday, but today will do just fine.

About the Author

I am a business coach and consultant specializing in uncovering the root cause of a challenge and offering an unexpected solution. That solution typically results in a substantial increase in profits and the peace of mind to set you free from your business.

I ask powerful questions to clarify who you are and what you want. I am empathetic, although surgical in approach. I make my clients feel they are the only person I am working with. I have an uncanny way of drawing people out and getting to the heart of the matter.

I am a Pittsburgh native who aspires to free business from the rat race. If I am not working to improve the lives of my clients. Then you will most likely find me on the ice playing hockey, reading, or making plans for the future.

If I can ever be helpful to my readers, it would be my pleasure to connect and see where I can bring you value. I look forward to continuing to share more great lessons with my growing community.

One Fish two, Fish, I can’t stop thinking about the Big Fish.

One Fish two, Fish, I can’t stop thinking about the Big Fish.

Title picture

In the last post, we started our series on catching big clients, or “fish,” that will sustain your business over the long run. Today we’re going to take that a step further by talking about understanding and thinking like a big fish company and how that can help you plan your approach and find success.

Before you can start landing big clients, you have to make sure your entire team is on board with your approach and vision. There are six keys to finding big client success. They are:

Six Key’s: Big Fish Mindset

  1. First Impression: Never give them a reason to doubt your abilities. Plan your interaction and be prepared to listen, learn, and act to solve their problems. Make it about them and not you; be patient. 
  2. First Priority: Your fish must always feel like they are your priority. Return calls and emails promptly and find solutions to their problems or questions as quickly as possible. Over-communicate on the process; let them know your thinking of them.
  3. Flexible: You need to be flexible in your negotiations. If they need a particular service or for you to customize a product, say yes for the benefit of the long term. A little hassle now will be a big payoff later.
  4. Long-term: This goes along with the last one a bit. As you are approaching and negotiating with big fish, you need to think about the long-term benefits for your business. If you go for a one-time big score, you will lose their interest.
  5. Have Fun: Work should be fun, even when trying to land big clients. Going after the big fish should be the most fun. You are sharing your vision with new people and including them in your future success and likewise. People work better in a fun, happy environment. Your passion will also be contagious and pull the fish into your vision even more.
  6. Put them first: If you take just a little bit of time and offer your clients ways to save money or time by introducing them to potential business partners, this will show you are invested and interested in their business. Strive to find the balance between your business needs and your client’s needs.

Now that you understand the basis of the Big Fish Mindset. You might be asking, great, how do I develop a vision for my entire company? There several tactics to employ, but here are a few of my favorites. 

  • Engage your team in defining who is an ideal “Big Fish Nothing gets a team to share a vision like having them be a part of the process design.”

 

  • Write the vision and goals everywhere. Create signage that reinforced the company vision and goals. Everyone loves suitable bathroom reading materials. A fun poster in the stalls can go a long way. Plus, this is a great way to reinforce company values.

 

  • Training, Training, Training: Constitnantly reinforces the goals and objectives while teaching your staff the skills to achieve them. Get help and provide resources for your team to be successful. May I suggest starting with a lesson on the “Big Fish Mindset.”

 

  • Score Board: create a way to share the progress with your entire company. It is a great way to show each person’s contribution to the whole. Plus, it can be a great way to track and evaluate your process. 

 

  • Strategy eats tactics for breakfast, holds frequent meetings to make sure your strategy is working, and adjust the tactics to achieve your goals.

 

  • Create a communication policy, be very clear with your team about how quickly you expect your staff to get back to customers. In addition, create shared language and terms around communicating to clients and other team members. Defining these parameters will solve a lot of problems down the road. 

 

  • Reward in public, coach in private. As often as you can, praise your team. Find a reason to thank your team and appreciate their work. If they’re not performing, pull them aside and ask a straightforward question. What do you need to be more successful?

Including a big fish mindset in your overall company vision and experience will allow you to achieve more as a business owner and organization than you could ever imagine. It will enable you to start thinking long-term and give you the ability to invest in your people, process, and profits. Include the tactics in your strategy, and your company will begin landing big fish in no time.

If you need help creating the system, process, and developing the strategy big-company mindset, contact us today to work with one of our coaches or check out our resources and tools. 

The best time to start was yesterday, but today will do just fine.