Friday, March 31, 2017

A Little on Business Marketing: Five tips for making mailers

When you're campaigning for new customers, the written word is almost always less expensive than other forms of advertising.  I'm taking about brochures, letters, direct mail – yes, even blog posts. How often do you say, 'Put it in writing,' when dealing with a vendor's sales pitch? That's because we inherently trust the permanency of print.  Here are five quick tips for making sure your giving the best effort to any written campaign.
1) Test everything. See how a brochure folds and what that does to your message visually. Sending an Every Door Direct Mailer or a newsletter? Send one to yourself first to see how and when it gets delivered.
2) Respect your reader. We all think every single word we utter or print is valuable. However, readers have a notoriously short attention span. Give them short bursts of text, intriguing images, and plenty of white space. (White space is the part of the letter where you see nothing but the white paper.) Too busy is bad business.
3) Always get a second set of eyes. Even newspaper editors have editors. When you write something, often you've written and rewritten it so many times your mind inserts thoughts/words/transitions you cut in your own editing.

4) Do not borrow.  Imitation is the best form of flattery, but cutting and pasting from a website or someone's mailer is plagiarism. This often isn't prosecuted in court, but it plays out at your empty customer counter when they know you've stolen.  So just don't steel.

5) Be correct. You know your brain went bonkers when you just read steel instead of steal. Spellcheck programs don't catch the error: It's spelled correctly. Using incorrect words or dysfunctional grammar will do three things: It WILL cost you business, It WILL make you a star of someone's typo Hall of Fame on the web… and you just might have to redo an entire print job or campaign.

Photo by Luca Bertolli, used with permission.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Little on Business Marketing: Get your next set of clients from your current set

The top three ways to grow a business are referrals, referrals, and referrals. That is and always will be the best, most cost-effective way to grow a book of business. I can break down the investment in referrals in three pieces…

1) Take care of the customer. Paraphrasing Abe Lincoln, you can make some of the customers happy all the time, all the customers happy some of the time, but not all the customers happy all the time. Investing in good people with good people skills in positions of sales and customer-service roles ensures a good customer experience. People will pay a higher cost for goods for a better customer experience. 

To that end, it's important to keep great notes on every customer or prospect. Note their preferences. Note what they order and when they order.  Note the phone number that comes up on caller ID. Heck, even note the car that pulls into the parking lot. There is no excuse for not knowing your customer. One of the great parts of being a business printer is that we have plenty of paper in our office and plenty of pens from our promotional item store. 

2) Spoil your customer. I'm not buying anyone a Mercedes. But I do make sure walk-in customers walk out with something. The same goes for the clients on which we make delivery or prospecting calls. A bag or box for their purchase. A notepad. A pen. These are all elements of branding, which is the subject of the next segment.

Identify your best customers. The 80/20 rule – also known as the Pareto Principle – is that 80 percent of your business will come from 20 percent of your clients. Invest in a holiday gift – again a branded item – you send each of your top 20 clients with a handwritten note. When they know you care, they'll care to send you the business about which they care.
3) ASK for the referral. There isn't anyone in business who doesn't know another person in business. But you won't reach that next sale if you don't ask for it. How did the biggest burger chain in the world get to be the largest seller of potatoes? By ASKING if you wanted fries with that. You won't get your next set of satisfied, high-yield clients from your current set of satisfied, high-yield clients if you fail to ASK. This is free prospecting.

Photo by Gilles Paire, used with permission.