Global Marketing Plus

Tips and Tricks for Small Business Success

Archive for August, 2009

Emphasize Your Unique Expertise

August 31, 2009 By: Ron Coleman Category: General Business, Getting business to come to you, Marketing, Networking

The more generally you describe your business, the more difficult it is for others to know how to refer people to you. 

Recently I attending a networking meeting and there were two dentists there.  One said that she worked with anyone with teeth.  The other dentist said that he specialized in seeing patients who have dental anxieties.  Which dentist will you more likely refer friends to?

Or suppose you meet two chiropractors.  One says he is a holistic practitioner and can treat anyone from 10 months to 100 years old.  The other says she specializes in treating women with PMS-related problems.

Or suppose you meet two professional speakers.  One who says he speaks on any motivational topic and the other says that he talks on how to save money on business travel.

A bookkeeper who specializes in serving doctors’ offices and is recognized for having designed special systems for medical/patient tracking will find it much easier to get referrals that someone who does general bookkeeping.

In order to make a referral, most people need some “hook” that sticks in their minds.  Once they get that hook, you will be someone who comes to mind when there is a need for what you do. 

What niche can you fill to develop a hook in peoples’ minds?

Make Your Work Speak For Itself

August 26, 2009 By: Ron Coleman Category: General Business, Getting business to come to you, Marketing

If you have been seen or heard in the local media, people will have more confidence in referring you, knowing that others have recognized your talents and abilities.  This kind of exposure is one of the benefits of a good public relations effort.  Also any materials you send out should convey an image that builds confidence in your ability.

No matter what you offer, if people don’t have confidence in your product or service, they will not recommend you.  So it is your responsibility to make sure that your product or service not only accomplishes the purpose it is designed for, but that it does it better than your competitors.  If you cannot do it better, do it cheaper.  If you cannot do it better or cheaper, you had better be the only one providing it and it had better be something essential.

Ask How Your New Clients Heard About You.

August 24, 2009 By: Ron Coleman Category: General Business, Getting business to come to you, Marketing

Not only does this help you track the results of your marketing efforts, it also allows you to thank those who are sending you business and gives you the opportunity to meet and network with them.

And not just new clients.  When anyone even contacts you, ask them how they heard about you!  If you are not tracking the results of your marketing efforts, how can you tell which of your efforts are working and which ones are you wasting you money on.

Later will will talk about how to chart the results and decide which marketing efforts should be increased and which ones should be cut back or eliminated.

SCORE Leadership Conference!

August 21, 2009 By: Ron Coleman Category: General Business, Marketing

I just got back from 3 days of SCORE Leadership Conference.  (SCORE stands for Service Corps of Retired Executives and is a resource of the Small Business Administration).  SCORE is a nationwide volunteer organization of 12,000 mostly retired executives who want to give back to the business community by providing FREE coaching to small businesses or new start-ups.

Some of the comments at the conference:

  • “Many businesses are started on a hope and a prayer.  Smart businesses use the resources available”.  SCORE is one of those resources and is FREE!
  • “We are never going back to normal as far as the business environment.  However, change is opportunity, and the opportunities are tremendous at this time. ”
  • “SCORE is in the business to help clients (small business owners) get what they want out of life.”
  • “Trust is earned by consistent action.  Trust cuts the sales cycle in half or by a fourth!”
  • “What are you providing to make me move from my current supplier to come to you”?
  • “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”

From our new Small Business Administration Administrator appointed by President Obama, Karen Mills:

  • “Small business needs to improve their information technology to be successful.”  (Wow! I have been telling you that!  Let me get you up-to-date and update your website!)
  • The SBA has helped stimulate the economy because they are again lending to small businesses.
  • The SBA has 2,000 employees nationwide.  But when you add the 12,000 SCORE volunteers, there is a small army in the SBA of 14,000!
  • We need to help small businesses prepare for disaster by making sure that critical records are backup up or copies made off site.  This is in case of flood, earthquake, fire or other natural disaster.

If you would like to take care of the free coaching available from SCORE, email me or go to  there you can find your local SCORE office and get free coaching.

Tap Into Your Clients’ Network

August 20, 2009 By: Ron Coleman Category: General Business, Getting business to come to you, Marketing, Networking

Find out who your clients use for other services that could make a good strategic alliance with you.  For example, since I do website design, I ask my clients who they use for computer repair.  Computer repair people find that their clients ask who can build websites.  They could refer those people to me. 

When I get the name of their computer repair person, I call that person.  I do not ask for business.  This would appear presumptuous or imply that I am desperate for business.  Anyone appearing too hungry raises the question as to why they don’t have more business.

Instead, I call to find out two things:  More information about what the business is and when and how I can refer clients to them.  If they are interested in networking with me, they will ask about my services as well. 

Unless the person can open big doors for you, don’t waste your time with a contact who isn’t responsive to your offer.  Spend your time looking for others who are eager to network.

How To Get Customers To Refer Others To You.

August 19, 2009 By: Ron Coleman Category: General Business, Getting business to come to you, Marketing, Networking

Your most reliable source of business is your existing client base.  They know better than anyone what you can do.  If you approach them properly, they can become a walking, talking sales force for you.  Here is how you can get them to do that:

Make sure that every experience customers have is positive.   If you want referrals, “The customers is always right.”

On the average, a satisfied customer will tell three people about his positive experience with you within a month.  An unhappy customer will tell seven people of a bad experience within a week!  So a positive experience with you company should be a goal you strive for.  Do the best quality that is in your power to provide and if anything is wrong on your end, take responsibility for it and fix it fast!  Stand behind your product or service.

If you want customers to make referrals, you must quickly fix any problem to the customer’s satisfaction.  Often it is how you handle a problem with a customer that will create the most loyal customers.

Many years ago, I had an associate that had a fantastic marketing company.  He produced coupon books for radio stations to give to listeners.  He also ran the marketing and call center that distributed those coupon books.  For $25.00 each he sold over a hundred books a day, making him $2500 a day!  Out of those 100 sales each day, one or two would call and want their money back.  He refused.  Not politely, I might add.  Well word spread and his reputation become such that the radio station dropped his account.  So while making $2500 a day, over just $50 to $75 a day, he lost the account!

So while you can’t let customers walk all over you, you must find amicable ways to resolve any misunderstandings or conflicts.  When no amicable soulution can be found, let a lawyer, business manager, or collection agency be the bad guy for you.

Make customers so happy they want to go out and shout about it.  Nothing sells like results.  Don’t just leave customers feeling positive, leave them feeling ecstatic!  A customer who is thrilled can’t stop telling others about how great you are.  Whenever such customers hear of someone else who has a need for your service or product, they can’t wait to suggest you.  This often involves going the extra mile to exceed your customers’ expectations.  In business, it is true that the more you give, the more you will get.

Let your clients know you want referrals.  Many times clients do not realize that they can provide you with referrals!  And often they won’t refer without some gesture from you.  Don’t beg, pressure, or imply an obligation to refer, but is is important that you convey to your customers that your business is based on referrals by saying something like, “I get most of my business by referrals.  It’s the best way I know to spread the word about what I do, so your recommendations are important to me.”

Tell them how and when to refer.  Some business owners actually prepare a “When to Refer” sheet that spells out how to recognize when someone needs their service.  One client of mine wrote a newspaper article titled, “When Does a Child Need Professional Help Through The Trauma of Divorce?”  Then he had reprints made up of the article and gave them away to clients.

Provide easy opportunities for people to provide you with names of potential customers.  Some provide gift certificates where you customer can just fill in the name of the person they are referring to you.  They can then give the certificate to the friend.  This gift certificate has your name and phone number on it to make it easy for them to contact you.

Listen for and act on referral flags.  You have heard these before when someone said, “I have a friend who…” or “So-and-so tried something like this, but…”.  Sometimes we hear these flags and just assume the referral will follow.  Most of the time, however, nothing will become of it unless you pick up on the flag and take the initiative to suggest the next step.  Offer to help by saying something like, “Perhaps I could be of help to them”  or “I could probably help them with that.”  Then suggest a next step such as, “I would be happy to call them.”  or “I would be glad to send them a brochure.”  Arrange to be the one to make the contact.

Provide an advantage for making referrals.  Offer an incentive in the way of discounts, gift certificates, and specials to those who refer new customers to you.  This is a common practice among many businesses.  I helped a dentist develop a gift certificate to a local restaurant.  Whenever a patient referred someone who became a new patient, he would give the referring patient one of the gift certificates.  Over 80% of his new business is a result of referrals.

Get frequent feedback.  To make sure your customers are happy, let customers know that customer satisfaction is important to you and you want to know about any complaints.

Research shows the majority of dissatisfied customers never report their dissatisfaction to the company.  They do, however, feel free to express their unhappiness to everyone else!

Offer guaranteed satisfaction on your products or services.  Another thing you can do is to use feedback forms or to ask directly whether someone is satisfied.

Whenever someone who has been a regular client suddenly stops doing business with you, take time to contact the client and find out why.  This will give you a chance to fix any problem and simply let your client know you are thinking of them.

Referral Business Doesn’t Just Happen

August 18, 2009 By: Ron Coleman Category: General Business, Getting business to come to you, Marketing, Networking

A common myth about business is that if you do a good job with your product or service, the referrals will come automatically.  Usually a self-sustaining business is a result of focused effort to build referral momentum.   Work at your marketing efforts long enough and hard enough, and the referral business will begin to flow.

Even after producing excellent results year after year, you still may get very few referrals unless you are in a high-demand business.  If you concentrate on ways to bring in referrals, you can speed up or even jump-start the referral process.  Once small business owners learn how to develop and generate referrals, they begin coming in.  The product or service is still the same.  What is changed is how these people go about turning the business they have into more business.

Another common myth is that once your business becomes self-sustaining, it will remain so.  However, many  things can interrupt a well-established, steady flow of customers.

  • The market can change, making what you offer in less demand.
  • Your client base can change, and clients begin seeking features you don’t provide.
  • Technology can change, rendering your service obsolete.
  • Key personnel who purchase from you may leave the company.
  • Your competition may undercut your prices.

Keeping a steady referral-generating effort underway will enable you to pick up on such changes quickly.  By responding to them immediately with necessary adjustments and additional marketing activities, you can often short-circuit any drastic drop in your business.  In fact, as a  small business owner, the ease and quickness you can respond to keep pace with the marketplace is one of your strongest assets.

In short, you must jump-start your referrals to receive them consistently.  Then you must always work at keeping them coming!

How Many Referrals Do You Receive?

August 17, 2009 By: Ron Coleman Category: General Business, Getting business to come to you, Marketing, Networking

The creative professional should be able to get 80% or more of his new business from referrals, follow-ups, or add-on business from existing clients.

Once you reach this goal, you have a self-sustaining business, which is the goal of all people who start a business.  All of your efforts, whether networking, promotions, advertising, or other efforts, should be focused toward ultimately attaining the goal of becoming self-sustaining.

According to a recent survey, many businesses relied heavily on word-of-mouth referrals from business associates in purchasing business services. 

  • 44% chose a lawyer by word of mouth. 
  • 45% chose an accountant by word of mouth. 
  • 45% chose an advertising agency by word of mouth. 
  • 42% chose a business consultant by word of mouth. 
  • 42% a marketing firm

So how do you develop referrals?  Find out tomorrow.

 Have a profitable day!

Emergency Strategy For Getting Business Fast!

August 14, 2009 By: Ron Coleman Category: General Business, Getting business to come to you, Marketing, Networking

If you need business fast, try this approach:

Identify people in a position to know who needs what you offer.  Make face-to-face contact with these people for the purpose of gathering information about who is buying what you’re selling.  Ask permission to use the name of the person you talk with.  Then make contact with the companies or people you learn about.

For example, in my business of website design and repair, I talk to business coaches because they know people who need new websites or update their existing website to reach their goals.  I would find out from the city or chamber of commerce who is obtaining a new business licence.  A new business may be more in need of a website then one who has been around for a while.  I can also contact bankers to see who is getting a new business loan.  Almost any sales man who contacts businesses could be a good source of leads.  And the list goes on and on!

When you contact any of your “sources” as above, and they become good sources of contacts and referrals, these are your strategic alliances!

Where Can I Find A Good Mentor Or Strategic Alliance?

August 13, 2009 By: Ron Coleman Category: General Business, Getting business to come to you, Marketing, Networking

You might be surprised — they may be right under your nose!  I bet there are several people you already know that you have overlooked who would make excellent sources of help!  Or maybe you are just too shy or timid to ask them.

Think about:

  • Who have you done a good job for at some time?
  • Who has given you encouragement in your business?
  • Who have you helped through a tough time?
  • Who helped you through a tough time?
  • Whom do you know that has done what you want to do?

Look at these as a short list of people to look for:

  • Previous employers
  • co-workers
  • relatives
  • distant relatives
  • friends
  • friends of the family
  • teachers
  • ministers
  • neighbors

This is only a very short list of people who are possible mentors and strategic alliances.

If you are timid about approaching them, remember that most people are flattered and even honored to be helpful to others as long as you are courteous and respectful of their time and talents.

If you are asking for something that would take a lot of effort or you are asking for advice from those who provide that advice or service as part of their business, you should offer to pay them or at least offer to take them to lunch.

Remember, too, that when you get advice or help from others, act on it.  If you get a referral, call that referral immediately — or if you were told to contact them at a certain time, do so then.  Then follow up with the person that provided the help and let them know what happened with the referral.

A good mentor will not want to be a mentor very long if you never follow his or her advice!

Now make today profitable!