Tuesday, November 11, 2008

 

Questions are often better than answers

In a variety of settings, it's often better to spend more time listening than talking. And in most of those same contexts, it's a good idea to spend more time asking questions than giving your opinion.

Paul Sloane from lifehack.org wrote a terrific piece recently about the benefits to you personally and professionally by asking more questions.

It's not that you don't have good ideas directly, smart opinions to share, or brilliant things to say. It's just that our initial ideas and perspectives can often be made significantly better by gaining perspective from those we're directly working with. What's more, by asking a question or two first, your counterpart will feel far more engaged and respected by you, and will therefore be far more receptive to the opinion or idea that follows.

Read more here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

 

MoM Links for Nov 10, 2008

Small Budget? No Problem: Chad Little offers six great strategies to grow your business without breaking the bank.

Three Marketing Tips for a Down Economy: Smart advice from Chief Marketer, all centered around your current customers.

Reacting vs. Initiating: What percent of your "sent mail" is a reply? How much of your day is spent initiating new ideas and strategies to grow your business? Seth offers a challenge to us all.

A Customer Mantra:
If you posted this prominently in your place of business, would it help your employees be more customer-centric? Better yet, would it help your customers keep you and your team accountable for living up to the promise?

B2B Marketing Goldmine: Thanks to Marketo for pulling together some of the Web's best B2B marketing tools & resources into one place. Check out the great selection of content here.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

 

Marketing lessons from a presidential campaign

Seattle-based marketing guru Whitney Keyes offers some great suggestions to marketers and business owners based on a breakdown of what helped president-elect Barack Obama win the White House.

Two of my favorites:

2. Look at the situation: Do a review of what worked and what didn't in the past, how things are stacking up now, and what lies ahead. Research past campaigns, keep an eye on what other candidates are doing, focus on your strengths, know your challenges, and identify all opportunities.

8. Be flexible during the process: Having a plan in place is a smart move, but make sure it can bend if your budget changes or a better opportunity presents itself.

Check out the full top-ten list here, and the rest of Whitney's ideas via her Biz Bite blog here.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

 

Aligning sales & marketing

If you're a business to business (B2B) marketer, the number of resources out there for you to learn from seems to grow by the day. Even B2B services companies, which clearly have their own transparent sales agendas, are producing great content for us to learn from.

Case in point is Marketo's Modern B2B Marketing blog, which recently featured a Q&A with Robert Moreau, a B2B blogger himself.

In his Q&A, Robert talked about three keys to sales & marketing alignment I wanted to highlight here. For the full Q&A (well worth the read), click here:

Otherwise, here are Robert's three keys to successful alignment between sales and marketing in a B2B context:
  1. Customer Buying Process. Study your customers buying process and make sure both sales and marketing understand the integration between the "sales process" and the "customer's" buying process. It's unrealistic to expect marketing and sales to only communicate in certain phases of the buying process. It is imperative that each function know the type of communication that is happening during each phase of the revenue cycle. See The 5 Keys to Lead Nurturing - #1 Customer Buying Process for more detail.
  2. Lead Nurturing. Understand that all your marketing and sales initiatives should complement each other. Dialogue with customers and prospects should be about sales and marketing providing the right content to the right people at the right time, and not one or the other controlling the conversation. This mindset change is one of the biggest transformations I see when working with sales and marketing executives in the technology space.
  3. Consider your data to be one of your most important assets. We often recommend to clients, prior to starting a demand generation campaign, that they first clean their data, develop a data hygiene plan, and consider adding or appending information to records that can help drive better campaign results. Appended data may enable greater degrees of segmentation permitting sharper focus in the campaign messaging. A related benefit of marketing automation platforms is the personalization of messages to each prospect versus sending the same content to everyone. This personalization can be done based on behavioral and demographic data.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

 

11 Ways to Drive More Holiday Traffic, Revenue & Repeat Business

Many businesses are actively gearing up for the holiday season. They’re facing both the shrinking budgets of holiday shoppers as well as fierce competition from larger players with bigger ad budgets, and more buying power to provide similar products at discounts.

But despite those challenges, the opportunity for businesses big and small to significantly increase their share of holiday shopping dollars this season is significant – especially by leveraging powerful, low cost sales & marketing strategies to make your businesses – and products - more remarkable and attractive to primary and pass-along customers.

Here are 11 suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Start Early
Sure, some big shops have had holiday displays up for weeks already. And although we’re already into November, it’s important to start impressing upon your current customers that they should consider your store or service for a greater volume of their holiday needs this year. Yes, sometimes it's important to directly remind them that your business is a preferable alternative to the mega-mall or mega-store.

How can you do this? Consider giving your customers tools to start planning their holiday purchases now. How about a checklist of people in their lives who need gifts this year? How about some age, sex and relationship-appropriate gift suggestions from your product and/or service inventory?

Anything you can do to help your customers eliminate gift-giving stress, and see your business as the source of a greater volume of those gifts (early in the shopping season, making up a higher percentage of their overall gift list), is a good thing.

2. Reasons to Linger
Large retailers have this down to a science. Soft music (with slow beats to make sure customers walk slower), as well as pleasant smells and other positive experiences keep customers hanging out longer. You can do this too, without much fuss, cost or effort.

For example, offer a small cup of free apple cider or coffee while your customers shop. How about some free treats strategically placed around the store? Not only will this help current customers stay longer in your store, but it can become part of your broader marketing efforts (we’ll get to that later) to attract new customers in your door well after the holidays as well.

3. Packaging with Fellow Retailers

If you’re business is located amongst other service providers and retailers, your success this holiday season will be, in part, tied to their success in capturing and converting foot traffic. Why not work together to drive a greater volume of visitors and shoppers to your location, and drive cross-over visits to each other’s businesses? There are a couple ways to do this.

One, create packages of products built from multiple locations. Think about theme - for different types of gift recipients and price points - and have those packages for sale at several different businesses in your area.

Two, work with your neighbor businesses to create a joint list of holiday gift suggestions – either as themes or based on different types of gift recipients. You’ll be making shopping far easier and more convenient for your customers, plus you'll drive business to each other. This too could become a profitable business practice for you and your neighbors well after the holidays.

4. Focus on Male Shoppers

Serious research has demonstrated that men do far less planning for holiday gift purchases, and typically need far more help. Consider your business and your typical customers, especially your female customers. How can you better package and communicate those products to the men in your female shopper's lives? Husbands, fathers, co-workers and more. Be intentional about merchandising products that make it easy for male drop-bys to choose and feel great about their gift purchases.

5. Highlight Stocking Stuffers
Many big retailers do this exceedingly well. The Container Store, for example, puts the majority focus of their holiday advertising campaign on their small, affordable stocking stuffers. This is a significant traffic driver for them, and leads to customers buying far more product throughout the store during the same visit.

What do you sell that could be repackaged or repositioned a stocking stuffer? How are you highlighting that in your store, and in your marketing and merchandising? Are there stand-alone products that can be highlighted as stocking stuffers, or perhaps packages of products you could market as perfect for many different recipients? Be creative, but take advantage of this profitable niche of the holiday shopping season.

6. Kids Rule
Holiday shoppers often have kids in tow. And those who cater to the kids (not necessarily just their gifts, but their experience inside your business walls), will attract more families and keep them in your store longer (where the parents have more time to shop and buy).

Take advantage of this by featuring promotions and/or events in your store that cater to kids. This could be a series of events such as Santa appearances, and could also be something as simple as free Candy Canes for every kid that comes into the store. What kid-friendly tie-ins to your business would make kids want to hang out longer while their parents shop?

7. Charity Tie-Ins
Pick a favorite local charity, and make it known that every purchase made at your business translates to more money to that charity. It can be a simple percentage of holiday purchase profits, or even a flat donation for every shopper. There are lots of ways to do this, but this is a time year when people are thinking of others – especially in these tough economic times.

8. Wish Lists for Family & Friends
Shoppers come into your business not just thinking of gifts for others. They’re often also thinking of themselves! How are you making it easy for those shoppers to tell their friends and family what they want for the holidays?

How about offering to email a customers’ spouse or significant other with a gift suggestion? Or event a simple, hand-written wish list you help customers create and store behind the counter, so that when the family or friend comes back, you know exactly what to direct them to?

9. Gift Cards

Don't forget these critically important gift options. No matter what you sell, find a way to make "anything at this store or business" a safe and easy option for undecided shoppers.

10. Pre-packaged and Point of Sale
Make it exceedingly easy for customers to come in, pick up something, and get out. Create a set of pre-packaged products, already wrapped and ready to go. Put some of them (especially small products and/or stocking stuffers) close to the point of sale so they can be quickly added to a purchase.

11. Come Back (and bring your friends!)
Let's say some of the ideas above are working (as they should!). Customers are in your store, they’re having a great time, and they’re buying gifts for their friends and family. They’re likely not done shopping, and neither are their friends, co-workers, fellow church goers and more. What are you doing to get those customers to come back later to complete their shopping? What are you doing to help those customers share their great experience with others?

Consider a coupon in the bag of every shopper thanking them for their holiday business with a coupon for 25% off the next time they come in and shop before the end of the holiday season. How about another set of coupons to hand out to their friends, offering a free stocking stuffer when they come in (and perhaps an even bigger discount for the primary shopper as a thank you for sharing news about your business)? Or a coupon reminding them of your post-holiday sale?

Have other ideas you want to share? Please add them to the comments section below?

Want to brainstorm more ideas for your business? Shoot me an email and let's get started!

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