Posts Tagged ‘Growing your business’

Your ROI – Getting Out What You Put In

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Most people have heard the quote, “You get out of it what you put into it.” This saying can easily apply to many of life’s endeavors, especially business. Although it may sound cliché, it holds pretty true that you will only get out of your business or career what you put into it. Business is not easy, quite the opposite. It’s hard. If it were easy, everyone would own or run a business. Most successful business professionals struggle to balance it all, wearing many hats, working lots of hours and trying to keep up with the latest and greatest in business and industry. However, a common thread found among the successful is attention to detail. Even with trying to keep all the balls in the air, they understand how the details ultimately will reflect the quality of their work.

Making deposits of time, money and energy now will allow for greater withdrawals in the future. This holds true whether you are an employee seeking a promotion or salary increase, a manager angling for more respect and visibility or a business owner trying to maximize profitability and increase resale potential. Remember, if you want to be able to take out big withdrawals someday, you have to put a lot into your business deposits.

Demonstrating Value

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

In general, consumers don’t want to be sold to. So although it can be tricky, it’s important to develop your skills at indirect or subtle selling techniques. Essentially this is figuring out ways to integrate your product or service into your conversation with customers without sounding like a pitch machine.

Asking open ended questions and listening to your customer will help you understand their needs so that you can offer solutions, provide education and share experiences with others you’ve helped with similar situations. It’s all about adding value and demonstrating your knowledge and expertise. In turn, you become the authority and “go to” resource for customers.

Since no one enjoys being directly sold to, subtle selling is the way to go. People want to know “what’s in it for me.” So you have to be able to show them the value in what you offer. Practice and finesse your technique by providing your customer with whatever education, engagement or entertainment they may need in order for you to more easily close the sale.

  • Building A Team: Don’t just hire an employee to fill a position. Employ a person to be part of a team to build your business.

  • Saying ‘Thank You’ – OFTEN: Let your employees, customers and vendors know how much you appreciate them. Tell them, jot a note or send an email.

  • Smiling: Customers are obviously interested in quality and price when making a purchase decision, but ultimately they are buying your optimistic attitude!

Press Releases: Follow Up!

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Distributing a press release is only half the effort — the other half is the follow up.

How do you follow up with media contacts?

Prepare for your phone call.

  • Read the press release
  • Understand the key message; what is important to the reader?
  • Formulate a five-second summary. Why should the media be interested?

Know your contact.

  • Review your media distribution list.
  • Know when and how the release was distributed.

Be sensitive to reporters’ schedules, especially when they are on a deadline.

  • Avoid calling the press after 2 p.m. Contact weekly publications on Thursdays or Fridays, when they are likely beginning new stories.
  • Avoid calling radio and TV stations an hour before their broadcast.
  • If a journalist calls you, contact them immediately – or you may lose a story.

Be polite, professional and brief.

  • Say hello, your name and why you are calling – in two sentences.
  • Ask them if they received your release.
  • Provide your five-second summary if they want to know what the release is about.
  • Ask if there is any interest in doing a story.
  • Offer to answer any questions they may have.
  • Offer to leave your contact information.

Remember that reporters are people, too.

  • They work for a living.
  • They operate under strict deadlines.
  • They receive dozens of “did-you-receive-my-press-release” calls per day.

Above all, be a resource not a pest.

  • Your media contacts will be receiving more press releases from you in the future.
  • You will want to maintain a good relationship with your media contacts.

The Rule of Repetition

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Any marketing communication is more effective when it is repeatedly brought to the attention of your target market.

Consumers are not motivated to purchase the first time they are exposed to a service. They are not familiar with the product and need some level of familiarity before taking action. Repetition steps in and takes care of the familiarization process.

  • Repetition strengthens a brand’s identity.
  • Repetition increases the ability of the consumer to identify the brand.
  • Repetition helps your customer take ownership of your service before they even make a purchase.
  • Repetition cuts through the background noise inherent in almost every facet of the communication process.

While trade shows and franchise portals used to be a definite part of franchisors development strategies, these tactics are becoming a way of the past. Franchisors are needing to be creative to attract new franchisees and open up the lines of communication outside of trade shows. Thinking outside-the-box and creating a high-quality brand name known around the country has allowed Goddard Systems, Inc. to continue expanding despite the economic climate, where we opened 39 schools in 2009.

The Goddard School has charged forward using a few innovative tactics and outlets to open up more conversations with potential franchisees around the U.S. One method has been launching a social media campaign to increase our brand’s presence on the web and connect personally with our core demographic. Our parents, teachers and potential franchisees can now all connect with us in a personal way and view our interactions while performing due diligence on the Goddard brand.

One other tactic that has allowed our brand to continue marching forward has been our relationship with lenders. Due to the strong relationship our brand has built with local banks in the area, we have continued to allow our franchisees to take advantage of this powerful relationship to receive the funding necessary to open The Goddard School, despite the investment level. This has proven to be an extremely advantageous relationship for our brand in the current economic climate, where so many franchisors and potential franchisees are struggling to find the funding to open their own business.

These factors have played a large role in Goddard System’s growth strategy, opening up new conversations, relationships and connections with potential franchisees around the country, a factor that has led credibility to our system as a whole.

In today’s technological age, people communicate primarily through e-mail.  While we communicate with both our friends and business associates via e-mail, rules of professionalism and politeness still apply.  Your e-mail communications are a part of your professional image, and as such, you must pay attention when sending off even the quickest of electronic communications.

If you want to impress the recipients, you have to make sure they choose to read your e-mail.  As such, take the time to make a meaningful subject line.  Your header should be pertinent to your message, and should stand out from the volume of other e-mails in the recipient’s in-box.  Additionally, don’t forget to update your header each time you reply.

Once your recipient opens your email, make sure you have properly personalized it.  Even though e-mail is informal, it should still always have a greeting.  Your email will seem rude and unpleasant without a greeting, and you want the tone of your message to seem professional and friendly.  On that note, always choose your words carefully to make sure your email has an appropriate tone.  Sarcasm, for instance, while appropriate in oral communications often comes across differently via e-mail.

Finally, your e-mail is a representation of you.  Always check spelling and grammar.  If you don’t, people will question the quality of your work.  Additionally, say only what needs to be said.  People skim or ignore e-mails that are too long.  If your e-mail is overly long, the topic probably shouldn’t be communicated via e-mail.  Pick up the phone or schedule a meeting.  Additionally, don’t expect people to respond right away.  If the communication is urgent and requires an imminent response, use the phone.  People check their messages at their convenience, not yours.

E-mail makes everything easier and faster.  It can also quickly establish positive professional relationships and make a powerful business impression.  Poorly written e-mails can just as quickly do the opposite.  Use technology effectively and appropriately, and you will see the results of your effort.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Become a valuable member of your community!  This means more than sponsoring a local sports team and hosting a food drive (although these are important, too).  It is about doing ‘good’ because it is the right thing to do.

Identify a need in your community and fill it!  Roll up your sleeves and do something.  Clean up a local park or vacant lot, participate in Habitat for Humanity, build park benches, organize a local blood drive with the American Red Cross or paint a mural in your community.

Your community is tight-knit; people notice things and talk to one another.  Find a reason for people to talk about you and your business!

So, what should you do?

  • Find a need within your community.
  • Make a plan.
  • Get buy-in from your employees.
  • Invite current customers (perhaps through an email invitation).
  • Let the media know!
  • Smile and complete the job!
  • Share your accomplishments.

TO SPEND OR NOT TO SPEND?

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Most businesses are facing the same dilemma during these economic times: What costs should we cut?

Many businesses cut back across the board, marketing included, but a slash and burn method can be a costly mistake.  For instance, Ford was outperforming Chevrolet at the beginning of the Great Depression. Ford cut back their marketing efforts while Chevrolet moved forward with an aggressive marketing plan. The result – the two effectively swapped positions in the marketplace. Proctor & Gamble is also a good example – they increased their marketing dollars during the depression, and every recession since, and have seen regular increases in revenue as a result.

The best strategy in terms of long-term ROI is to increase marketing expenditure during an economic slowdown. Boosting marketing investments while competitors reduce theirs can provide a substantial advantage that could be maintained for years.

Marketing should be part of a business’s long-term strategic plan. Marketing drives revenue, and is not discretionary. The challenge is to use marketing dollars wisely. Much like the beginning or start-up phase of any business, when funds are likely low, marketing, public relations and promotion are key. The same holds true in a recession.

Opportunity knocks for those who continue marketing during tough times. This strategy takes courage and a view of the ‘big picture,’ but odds and statistics are on the side of those that view these costs as an investment and not an expense. The recession will end. When it does, the best place for a business is to still be in the game.

COMMUNICATION IS THE FOUNDATION

Friday, November 19th, 2010

You and your employees are your business’s greatest asset. Your employee’s attitude and service they provide is paramount to your business’s perception.  Many businesses spend money on promotional items and activities, but fail to get customer service right. It costs between three and ten times as much to replace lost customers as it does to get new ones. It is also easy to make the mistake of lowering prices to win customers, but most customers value personal and excellent service – and they are willing to pay for it.

The responsibility of your employees extends to keeping customers satisfied.  This is critical, not only to the success of your business, but also to your bottom line. The foundation of outstanding customer service is communication. By facilitating exemplary communication, business owners can exhibit their visibility and availability to customers. All questions, concerns or issues should receive a follow-through within 24 hours.