Thursday, May 28, 2009

 

Stories That Sell

Your most important sales collateral? Case studies. No question.

Sure, your prospects care about what you do, how you do it, how it works, etc.

But what they really want to see is themselves - three months from now - ideally successful using whatever you're offering.

Without a time machine, the next best thing is to reading about, or hearing from, people just like them who are already using your product and love it.

The importance of case studies may be universal, but I'm constantly surprised how many sales & marketing organizations bury them amidst a pile of product brochures.

Casey Hibbard's Stories That Sell does an excellent job explaining how to build and use success stories throughout your sales & marketing process.

Rather than making success stories a part of your messaging, why not make them the star?

How well featured (or how buried) are your customer success stories?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

 

Heinz Marketing featured on Start Up Nation

Special thanks to Christine Haskell of social venture labs on Start Up Nation, who recently wrote a nice profile of Heinz Marketing and our “reason for being.” Check it out here.


 

Twitter for Small Business

The role of Twitter for small businesses is evolving and changing fast, but there are now a handful of very good Twitter guides out there. Below are four of my favorites (including two specifically for the real estate industry):

DuctTape Marketing's "Using Twitter for Business"

Flyt's "How To Use Twitter for Business"

Real Estate Tomato: "Twitter Explained for the Real Estate Blogger"

AgentGenius: "Social Media for Real Estate 101: Twitter"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

 

Digging deeper

Plenty of marketers and business leaders make decisions without the help of data.  And that’s OK, sometimes.  Those who do so based on an educated guess or instinct, or simply to get something done more quickly, at least know what they’re bypassing to take quick action and ideally see quick results (or at least learn and react quickly).

But if you’re making decisions without enough data, that might be more dangerous.  Pulling and using data to make decisions is good – just make sure you keep digging deeper so that you’re not throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Let me give a quick example of what I mean.

Let’s say you look at your lead sources, and do some quick math to determine lead-to-close conversion by channel.  By doing this math for a period of time tells you that paid search delivers a 4X better conversion rate than email marketing.  So you get rid of email marketing, right?

Maybe not.

Let’s say you keep digging.  Which emails did well?  Which lists, which offers, on which days? 

Similarly, keep digging into paid search.  Maybe most of your search keywords don’t perform at all, but a small minority are kicking butt for you.

By digging further, you may save part of your paid search, ditch part of your email, and end up with just as many conversions but at a lower overall cost.

Data is good.  Just make sure it gives you the full story.


 

Are you brave enough?

Four selling days remain in May, and this morning I sat with a client as they launched a number of accelerated sales pushes to finish the month strong. 

At the end of the meeting, the company’s CEO got up and talked about success.  The path between success and wherever you are today, he said, is paved with risk.  No matter what you’re trying to do, there’s risk in trying to get there.  Mitigating that risk is all about hard work, determination and fundamentals.

To face that risk, you have to make yourself vulnerable.  Vulnerable to new challenges, to mistakes, to possible public failure.

But at the end of that path, of course, is achievement.  No matter what the outcome, it’s an accomplishment to have taken that path.  At minimum, you learn something about yourself and your work along the way.  But by facing that risk, you also open yourself up to achievement beyond what you may have thought yourself capable in the first place.

As we all face the end of a month and the beginning of what a new one brings us, I thought that was an awesome perspective to have in mind.


Friday, May 22, 2009

 

Would your customers do this?

Last month Fortune Magazine featured some photos of people who really are into their favorite products. Click here to see more photos.

Are your customers this into you? Probably not all of them, but for the handful who are - what are you doing to reward them, recognize them, make them feel special?

As marketers, our first instinct is often to think about how to use these passionate users to drive new users. But often, you don’t need a specific strategy to ask that - not from this top-tier of loyalists. Simply treat those passionate users like royalty, and they'll talk about you without prompting. What's more, how they go out and talk about you could give you the blueprint for cultivating even more word-of-mouth throughout the rest of your customer community.


 

Treating your talkers well

Every business has talkers - customers who go out of their way to share your business with others.  You know some of them, but probably not all of them.

What's important is to keep them talking.  Andy has some excellent, simple advice for ensuring your talkers (both those you know and those you don't yet know) keep sharing your story to other prospective customers.

Read more here.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

 

Yeah, but where's the value?

Great missive by Seth on the relationship between price and value. 

Sure, your customers are likely a bit more cost-conscious today.  But how can you maintain (or even increase) price in today’s market by increasing value?  How do you accelerate the benefits your customers receive from your product or service?

Spend some time thinking about this, and I bet you’ll find you can create significantly greater value for your customers without substantial cost.

Focus on price at the expense of value, and you’re on a slippery slope to commoditization.


Saturday, May 09, 2009

 

Why and how to read magazines

I get a lot of magazines. You probably do too. And if you’re like me, you can’t possibly read all of them. There’s not enough time in the day to do your day job, have a life, and still get through that growing stack of back issues.

But getting through those magazines is still important, I believe for three main reasons:

1. Education: You’ll learn something every time you pick up a current or past issue you haven’t read. It’s a critical part of our everyday, ongoing education, especially in our own businesses, industries and areas of expertise.

2. Innovation: I guarantee you’ll find at least one new idea directly applicable to your business in every magazine on your stack. You just have to look.

3. Networking: For every idea you get for yourself, you’ll likely find 2-3 ideas, articles, editorials or other content you think will be relevant to others in your company or network, which provides a great opportunity to touch base and keep that part of your network active.

Of course, executing on these opportunities, with that stack of past issues facing you, is no less intimidating. Thankfully, Mark Shead at Productivity501 recently posted a great set of tips for getting through those magazines more quickly, while still achieving all three of the objectives above. Here’s his list.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

 

Same idea, different application

In December, Hyundai introduced a successful program allowing buyers who lose their jobs in the first year of ownership to return their cards with no hard to their credit.

Hyundai may have the "unemployment protection" market cornered for the new car sales market, but if you're in a different market (and most of us are), that same general idea is fair game.

For example:
These three, and countless others, weren't the first to offer unemployed customers a special offer (I'm not even sure Hyundai was the first). But they've taken a great idea and customized it to their business and customers. No reason you can't do the same.

When's the last time you looked outside of your business, your people, and even your industry to find great sales & marketing ideas?

Pick up a trade magazine or visit a trade show in the next couple weeks for an entirely different industry from where you currently work. Check out how those companies market themselves to their customers, and I guarantee you'll find a ton of ideas that can be customized for your specific objectives.

 

Time for reflection

In a story about Turner Broadcasting and CEO Phil Kent in last week's Business Week, Kent shared his three-part "CEO Manual":
  1. Carve out time to think, not just react
  2. Sabbaticals give you useful perspective
  3. Don't overschedule; leave time for colleagues
In smart organizations that focus on execution and results, time for reflection is still vital. Do that on a regular basis, and the "snap" decisions we're all required to make on a daily basis will be far more informed and rooted in what's most important.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

 

Grand Reopening

Two weeks ago I flipped the switch on a new HeinzMarketing.com.  It’s a huge improvement over where we were previously, with a goal of hosting a variety of multi-media content, advice and free downloads.  The site also features an integrated version of this blog.  I’ll continue to use Blogger as the publishing platform, so posts will show up both on the Blogger site as well as the new HeinzMarketing.com.

So if you’re subscribed to the Blogger RSS feed, it should continue to work, but the HeinzMarketing.com feed is prettier…

 


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