Category: Uncategorized (page 2 of 7)

Offer Our Best First

Too many of us tend to offer our mid-line or low-end products and services first with a hope of capturing our audiences’ attention with a deal. Consider the value of offering our best products and services up-front instead.

Doing this sets a benchmark that will cause many people to make purchases above the level they would have otherwise. At the same time, it makes less expensive products and service seem an even better bargain for those who are price conscious. We don’t lose those buyers. And they may upgrade with future purchases.

Am I saying discounting or leading with a killer deal has no value? Of course not. Clearly this approach has its place, just like leading with our finest offerings has its place. My point is simply that in testing our options, we often forget this alternative approach that has proven effective for many companies in a wide variety of industries.

Gather your team. Look at how leading with the best you have to offer may open doors that aren’t available when competing on price. You just may find you’ve been missing out on a world of opportunity.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

A More Effective Use of Prospecting Time

We all fight the same battle of balancing the time and resources we invest in prospecting for new clients with maintaining a pricing structure that upholds the integrity of our business and its products or services. It’s tempting to slash prices to generate revenues; but being busy without being profitable is a guaranteed trip to the poor house.

Maintain your image and message with prospects, and keep working to bring in new clients; but in the mean time, here’s a way to fill excess capacity in a fruitful way. It’s beneficial in the big picture and sustainable over the course of years.

We all have clients who have been loyal to us. They like what we have to offer. We spend our time making a positive difference for them with whatever we are providing, and not addressing petty complaints or engaging in other time-wasting activities. These are the clients we’d like to clone and with whom we’d like to fill our books of business. Good news! We can.

Go to these clients with an offer that makes sense for them and represents a significant deal beyond the good value they already receive from us. Let them know we’re making this custom-tailored, one-on-one offer because of their history with us–a “Thank You” gift, if you will. Be sincere, and make an offer that is truly something they simply won’t get elsewhere.

In doing this, we accomplish two things: 1.) We fill our time with guaranteed revenue-generating activities that would have been spent on prospecting, and 2.) We build even greater loyalty with those who are already our best clients. Everyone wins. And you know what? Chances are good these happy clients will become your best salespeople as they send quality referrals your way.

Gather your team. Think outside your normal parameters. What do your most loyal clients need that you can offer but are not currently providing to them? Get creative. Get aggressive. Fill that wasted capacity with meaningful, paying work for those who have already said, “We like what you have to offer!”

Here’s to your win-win revenue-generating success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

The Big Middle

Most companies position themselves in the big middle of the spectrum of their industries. They are “me too” businesses. They lack any quickly discernible differentiating factors that would draw prospects to them exclusively. They have not entered the marketplace with a specific focus that speaks to well defined potential clients. Because of this, they struggle.

As business decision-makers, why do we do this to ourselves, our businesses, and our audiences?

Discovering how our market (or potential market) views us, defining ourselves in a way that makes us providers of choice, and remaining true to our focus are all necessary elements of being standouts instead of generics.

How many no-frills price leaders have we seen add features to their products or services until they are lost in the sea of their competitors? And how many times have we witnessed a niche business attempt to go mainstream, only to realize (sometimes too late) that what made them successful was their laser-tight focus?

If we’re not currently meeting our businesses’ goals, we need to identify why. We must invest in discovering our competitive advantage (or developing it, if it doesn’t exist). Being “good” isn’t good enough anymore. We need to be uniquely accessible to and specifically effective for our clients.

Gather your team. Look at your position in the marketplace. Are you differentiated appropriately? Are your prospects clear on why they should choose you? Do you stand out, or are you lost in an ocean of me-too options? If changes are needed, have the tenacity to move forward with confidence in getting your company out of the bog of the big middle.

Here’s to your positioning success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

The Reason We Should Make More Money

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve had a problem in the past with the idea of making a significant amount of money. I’ve watched it ruin too many people. I believe in the old adage, “Money doesn’t create character, it reveals it.” I guess I was a little concerned to find out who I really was.

But a truth regarding money has emerged for me. Here it is:

Assuming what we’re doing to make money is legal, moral, and ethical, the more money we make, the more good we are doing.

At first blush, this may sound like one attempting to justify a pursuit of riches; but this isn’t the case at all. When we are successful, we create value. We provide employment. We enrich others’ lives. And the payoff for doing this well is money.

Even though I believe in this principle, I still believe that money should not be the main focus of our business efforts. When it is, we tend too often to drop off on the important things when the money begins rolling in. Of course, this is a very personal thing. One person may create a better business and serve more people by focusing on the financial side of the business, while another may not. It’s up to each of us to examine ourselves and see what motivates us and how we can best keep our focus.

In the end, if we’re offering superior value, the money will follow. And if we’ve done our part correctly, we will have benefitted many people in the process.

Here’s to your financial success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Becoming a Great Marketer

I’ve been listening, once again, to Earl Nightingale’s “The Strangest Secret” as I’ve been traveling. If you’re not familiar with this classic piece, I strongly suggest you get it and absorb it.

To oversimplify Mr. Nightingale’s message, he tells us that we become what we think about. He cites Napoleon Hill and others throughout history as having shared this same truth.

Think about this principle in the context of being a marketer. That may be your full-time job, but more likely it is just one of the hats you wear in the course of running your business. So how do you become a great marketer?

Let me pause here and state clearly that I don’t believe you can simply see yourself as a successful marketer and have it become so magically. It takes effort and dedication. It takes time. But it can’t happen if you don’t see yourself as such, even with effort, dedication, and time.

There are many truths in our world. The truth that we become what we think about is one that has become increasingly important and apparent to me. What a powerful nugget this is. We are, and will continue to become, who we want to be at the level of our core beliefs. How empowering it is to know how to direct that reality from its foundation.

Here’s to your thinking like a great marketer!

Bryan Waldon Pope

A Quick Way to Do Basic Market Research

In many situations, we tend to swing to one extreme or the other of the market research scale. Either we skip this step altogether, or we get so mired down in research that we lose sight of why we’re doing it. Here’s a solution that works well for lots of situations.

One problem with asking people what they would or would not like, buy, or champion is they don’t know. Until the opportunity arises to actually make a purchasing or other commitment-level decision, their views may be skewed.

Given this reality, a great way to accomplish effective market research in many cases is to offer a product or service in a live, but limited, situation. Depending on the nature of the product or service, production may even happen after this test is complete. Let me share a simple example from a real-life test I helped a client with a number of years ago.

This client made organizers for garages that included shelves, cupboards, closets, countertops, and so on. He wanted to ramp up to get into this business in a big way, but wasn’t sure if the market would support his vision. He had completed a couple of jobs on a word-of-mouth basis, but didn’t want to dive in without more substantiating research, so he came to me.

This guy was sharp, and had completed some of his own digging into how to conduct market research. He had a pretty good plan. When we looked at the time and expense of implementing the plan, however, he became discouraged. Then I shared this approach:

We created a half-page flyer describing his product and showing pictures of the two jobs he had completed. We made an easy call-to-action of a no-cost initial bid which included rough plans and put his phone number as the contact vehicle. We then made 250 copies, which yielded 500 half-page flyers. He and his family stapled rubber bands to the corners of the flyers and distributed them to homes that fit his target. In one day of distributing flyers he got two jobs–more than enough to warrant moving forward. (I might note that instead of telling him to go full throttle based on this initial outcome, I suggested he continue to distribute flyers while he completed these two jobs and let the business grow naturally and according to market demand.)

One of the beauties of simple marketing vehicles like this (another one I’ve seen good results from is free online classified ads) is that you can turn the prospect faucet up and down in volume according to need. Just make sure to consider sales cycle time frames and work ahead of your need.

Of course, this isn’t an answer for all businesses. And it shouldn’t be your company’s only marketing activity, even if it works well (because markets and response rates change). But this approach, or a similar one you devise with your team’s help, can turn market research activities into profit centers instead of expenses while taking the anxiety out of wondering if a product or service will be accepted by your audience.

Here’s to your profitable market research success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

The Best Way to Build a Network of Advocates

Those who know me know I’m an avid networker. I love to mingle with other business people. I enjoy the intellectual stimulation. The sharing of ideas by the amazing people I get to meet starts my mind racing. Best of all is hearing others’ success stories. Networking has played a huge part in my own success. Here’s why…

Networking is about everyone BUT ‘me.’ You read that right. The best way to build a network of advocates is to become one ourselves before we expect anyone to reciprocate.

The Rule of 2

To help me remember this truth, I developed a simple rule for myself a number of years ago. I call it “The Rule of 2.” This means every time we find ourselves in a networking situation, we look for two people we can benefit within the next two or three days. Sometimes this means we can send a good client referral their way. Other times there may be a strategic alliance opportunity we can help connect. And sometimes it’s just a matter of taking a little time to drop into a person’s place of business and/or study their website so we can become of value in sending the right people and resources their way. Easy, right? It’s just a matter of making it part of our calendars following an event.

I had to smile as I sat down to write this today, because in my email was an annual thanks-for-being-my-best-friend message from a guy I don’t even remember meeting. I got a similar message last year as well and talked about it then (if not on my blog, at least to some of my audiences). He starts out by saying I’m receiving his email because we do business together and he wants to ‘personally’ thank me. I’ve never done business with this guy. Then he goes on to say his fiscal year is ending in a couple of weeks and tells me exactly how I can benefit him by sending him the right kind of prospect who is hot and ready to sign on.

The interesting part to me is that last year I took quite a bit of time (two hours or so, as I recall) in a carefully crafted reply aimed at helping this lost soul understand the shortcoming in his approach. I do believe I got an email back that said, “Thanks for your reply,” but that’s about it. Apparently what I had to say didn’t help him much. I haven’t heard one word from this person in a year, and now I’m stuck with the decision of whether I ask to be taken off his list, or continue to watch with morbid curiosity.

The bottom line is this: If our approach to networking and staying in touch with those we meet through our networking activities takes the angle of, “Here’s what you can do for me…,” we’re missing the boat. Intent listening, meaningful follow-up, and an eye toward what we can do for others will always trump the slickest pitch or the greatest deal we might be able to offer others. It’s all part of the abundance mentality.

If you operate in a state of abundance, looking at how you can benefit others first, you may be a good fit for The Abundance Group, an organization that facilitates small, local, live gatherings of business people who know (or are open to learning) the right way to build a network of advocates. In keeping with the theme of this group, membership is complimentary. If you’re not a member, take a look at TheAbundanceGroup.org by clicking here. If you are a member already, thank you for being part of this new team of service-oriented decision-makers and leaders. We’re excited to take this highly effective networking tool to the world.

Best wishes in all your endeavors to build your network of advocates by serving the needs of others first.

Here’s to your networking success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

The Crowning Leadership Quality

Regardless of the type of company or organization we’re building, effective leadership is an absolute must. And there is a crowning leadership quality that sets the best leaders apart from the rest. I was reminded of that this weekend as I ran into an old friend and mentor.

I’ve served in the same operational position of two different geographic chapters of a large service organization. My first experience was under the direction of the gentleman I referred to above–a dynamic leader with a clear view of our objectives and superior results in achieving our prescribed goals. When I say “dynamic” you probably picture a high-energy person who pumps everyone up and gets the adrenaline flowing. Actually, that’s not the case at all.

This man is a relatively quiet, reserved individual who actually says very little. So why would I call him a dynamic leader? What makes him so effective? I’ve always known the answer to this, but it was reconfirming to hear him validate my beliefs during our brief conversation.

When I approached and greeted him, I could see in his expression that he recognized my face, but could not quite place me. We haven’t seen each other for over six years. I reminded him of our association. The light bulb instantly went on, and his already pleasant smile grew into the warm, friendly one I had seen so many times before.

He instantly asked about my family and how life was treating me. He shared a memory of our working together. I told him my experience under his mentorship had served me well, and that I hadn’t seen the kind of results in my subsequent involvement with the other division of this group, due to its bureaucratic nature, that I had seen under his direction. He smiled, and, looking me straight in the eye, said three simple words that sum up the quality I had always respected in him that I knew was his secret to success: “I love people.” The sincerity in his eyes spoke volumes and took me back to so many situations under his mentorship in which I learned to see people first and put processes and policies in their place as secondary support systems to help others achieve their goals and dreams. He taught me that the path to a winning public image and meaningful social standing isn’t the pursuit of such status as politically crafted destinations, but rather natural outcomes to focusing on helping others achieve their aspirations and always seeing the good in them and what they have to offer.

I walked away from this recent encounter walking on air, as I had dozens of times during the years of our prior association. As I recollected the energy with which our team worked together to serve, envisioning the countless hours of collaboration, planning, and execution of many activities and efforts directed at improving the lives and situations of our organization’s members, it was once again confirmed to me that among all the attributes and skills necessary for effective leadership, the crowning quality of truly effective leaders is a genuine love for those they lead. I appreciate the recharge I received from this chance meeting with this most extraordinary mentor and leader and hope you’ll find similar value in this message.

Here’s to your leadership success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

You can become a leader in your own local business networking organization with a no-cost membership to The Abundance Group. This is real business networking for real business people who understand the power of serving others’ needs first. Get all the details at TheAbundanceGroup.org

Legendary Customer Service

I recently enjoyed dinner with my wife, one of our sons, and my mother at a well-known restaurant. I hadn’t been there before, even though the chain has opened a number of locations in our area. I enjoyed the experience. The people were great, as was the food.

During our meal, one of the managers dropped by our table to see how things were going and left a quarter-page sheet for me to complete to let them know how they did in serving us, as well as providing me with an opportunity to sign up on their email list. I completed both portions.

On each of the service and product questions, I was able to choose from a number of levels as my response including the highest level, “Legendary.” I have to admit, as much as I liked the experience, none of it fell into the “legendary” category for me; but it got me thinking…what constitutes legendary service?

I was reminded of a story I’ve heard on numerous occasions about a man who returned some used automobile tires to a Nordstrom store and promptly got a refund, even though Nordstrom does not sell tires–illustrating the store’s commitment to an unmatched client experience. The story comes in a variety of flavors with the details shifting to meet the storyteller’s style, but the basic premise is always the same.

Being one who is careful to identify potential legends as such, I checked out Snopes before writing this, and sure enough, there’s a lengthy entry on this story. No surprise there. If you’d like to read it, you can see it here. I won’t tell you what it has to say. You’ll probably be as surprised as I was to discover the story surrounding the story if you choose to read it.

My point today isn’t whether that story is true, but that it has gained legendary status. There are plenty of other such stories out there about other companies as well. And, perhaps on much smaller scales, there may be stories about us and our companies floating around our marketplaces.

Everyone loves a memorable story of superior client service. We hear them. We usually believe them because they paint a picture of something we would all like to experience. Then we turn around and tell them again to a new audience. This process repeats just as it did many times before we heard the story, and just as it will many more times after we’ve passed it on. Whether it is true or not, the hero in the story still wins.

I’m not suggesting making up stories to tell about our businesses in an effort to attempt to become legendary. That clearly won’t work. What I am suggesting, however, is that when we strive legitimately to be everything we should be for our audiences, stories–factual and embellished–have the opportunity to be formed, shared, and retold by our audiences.

What do we do that is, or could be, legendary in serving our audiences? Are we sincere about it? Does it bring value to those who follow us? You’re smiling just thinking about the possibilities. I know you are.

Get your team together and share your vision. Get their input. Then become infectious with your pursuit of the unmatched client experience. And if you feel so inclined, please share your experiences and knowledge in this arena with us below. Thank you.

Here’s to your legendary success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Our Companies’ Customer and Client Experiences

We’d all like to believe we have laid out and perfected the client experience for everyone from those who just heard about us for the first time to those who have been doing business with us for years. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true. Not for any of us.

Where is the experience strong for our clients? Where do we fall down? This is an area of our businesses we should look at regularly. Here are a few pointers to get you started.

1. We must realize we are not our clients. What you or I want does not necessarily reflect what our audiences want. I’ve even had businesses that sold products and services I don’t personally use. That doesn’t matter, and it shouldn’t. It’s the audience’s needs that matter, not mine.

2. Ask our clients how we measure up. A great place to begin our journey to a superior client experience is to ask our clients how we’re doing. How could their experiences with us be even better?

3. Look at our competitors. What are they doing well? Where do they fall short? What opportunities are our because of these realities?

4. Engage the assistance of some trusted advocates. Members of our marketing teams, or other advocates, who our employees don’t know can be assets to us in the form of secret shoppers or similar prospects or clients. Have them test the waters. Ask them to be a little less than model clients and see how employees manage their requests or attitudes. This can be very insightful.

These are just a few ideas. Gather your marketing team or get with some trusted peers from other businesses and explore the ways you can take a look into the experience your clients are having with your company. These insider peeks may be very useful to you in enhancing your clients’ experience.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

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