Brand is the Legendary Made Real

LegendaryBack when I lived in Minneapolis I had the pleasure of dealing with a media representative for the legendary magazine The New Yorker.  I acquired a taste for it when I was just starting in the ad game in New York.

Once, over lunch, he told me the story of how a little company in Medford, Oregon began selling fruit by mail. It seems a New Yorker Salesman had decided to drive to Portland and Seattle from San Francisco and he was making stops along the way to pitch his magazine. In those days it was beginning to develop the peculiar circulation it has to this day. Most of the print run goes to New York but it is also read by a solid coterie of subscribers in major cities and high income demographic towns across the country.

That little company in Medford was Harry & David. They decided to test a small space ad in the publication. They sold out their apple crop. Then pears. And the cherries. That was the beginning for them. They became a legend by selling fruit via direct ads and mail across the USA.

A few years ago my then wife and I went to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland (just north of Medford in southern Oregon). We stayed at a delightful B&B. The first evening over wine, cheese and pears that were to die for we learned our host was also the marketing director of Harry & David. We talked of how that first ad had changed the lives of the partners but more importantly hundreds of people in the Rogue valley. He stressed the fact that the values that were in place for that first ad remained and would continue into the future.

They have.

Now I find myself living as my friends say, “where the sidewalk runs out” south of Portland. I’ve been a Harry & David Customer for more years then I care to count. I know a conglomerate bought them out a while back but the  buyers haven’t messed with what makes the company outstanding.

This year I had to change my order. Mom asked me to. She said she couldn’t handle all that they sent in the Fruit of the Month club since Dad died.

So I made the call. I found myself talking to Margaret who understood completely. She walked me through some options. Then we settled on regular fruit shipments but in smaller quantities. She quietly checked all the pertinent shipping data and then helped me with the rest of my list.

The service was legendary.

This is what it took to get me to say that:

  • People that want to help on the phone. NO pushy sales types. NO hard sells.
  • Catalogs in the mail because I’ve told them I prefer not to get an e-mail every day for a month after Thanksgiving.
  • Pertinent details of addresses and greetings kept on file so I don’t have to dig them out
  • Great Product.
  • No questions asked returns or changes if needed. Dad couldn’t eat grapefruit due to a medication conflict. Mom called them and a substitution was made even though it was requested well before needed.
  • People you come to know, like and trust.

It takes time, vision, values, consistency, honesty and real caring. That builds trust and the outcome is a legendary brand.

Legendary can help a product resonate. See the story of Time in a Bottle this week at www.BrandBrainTrust.com

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Jerry Fletcher is the founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com  His consulting practice, now in its 26th year, is known for Brand Development, Positioning and business development on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com

Get all the Brand Briefs. Sign up at http://www.brandbraintrust.com/home.html

Consultant Trust Floats

“Any of y’all have somebody contact you several years after you pitched ‘em and they turned you down?” asked Bubba, Georgia’s answer to branding’s high court.
Trust floats on the stream of time

Rob, even though we call him Bubba is sharp. When he asks a question like that in this group you know there’s something he is really curious about.

As the rest of our crew settled in I responded, “Why do you ask?”

It takes time to get to trust.

“I had lunch the other day with someone I knew had worked with other marketing and sales consultants.” Said Rob with only a hint of drawl. “I listened when he told me why he wanted to talk to me now after this many years. I pointed out that he had hired someone after we last talked and that fellow had exited stage left a few months later and that I knew at least two other consultants that he was familiar with that could and had given him good advice.”

Kate, took a sip of water and said, “So you asked him why me?”

“Precisely, Madam Sales,” said Rob. “George’s ansuh threw me. He started back when we’d met before.”

George, the prospect said, “Back then I couldn’t see any reason to have a branding consultant. I figured that a marketing consultant would handle that as part of his or her job. I assumed that branding was sort of an automatic thing…get the right logo and tag line and you’re done! I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”

Our direct marketing expert Rick observed, “This George sounds like a really bright guy and one that leaves his ego at the door. Seems like he’d be a good client.”

Prospect knowledge in your area of expertise leads to trust.

Thas probably true said Bubba but what I learned by listening to his whole story is why I brought it up today. The more I thought about it the more I kept comin’ back to how Fletch is always goin’ on about Trust being the be all and end all ‘specially for consultants. It ‘minded me of that Yankee fella Thoreau who said that “Time is the stream that I go a fishing in’ The way George described how he came back ‘round to me is just the same. It was a matter of time and his knowledge about marketing and communications growing.”

George said, “I quickly found out that my perceptions about branding were way out of line. I figured out that branding was a real problem for us but I still kept going to general  consultants to help me solve the problem. It didn’t work. One wanted to make me the spokesperson/hero of the organization. Another couldn’t comprehend that even though each of our divisions had to stand on its own sales results it is still one company.”

Rick pointed out, “So your prospect moved from someone that didn’t know what he didn’t know to figuring out what his company’s problem was and then started bangin’ around trying to find the expertise he needed to solve the problem.”

“Right,” said Bubba.

So how did he come to pick you?” asked Kate.

Prospects need time to understand why they should trust you.

“It‘s that fishin’ thing. I just keep my bobber in the water waitin’ for a tug on it. Meanwhile down there just like a fish risin” to the bait George was slowly but surely headin’ back my way. He started asking some of the folks he had confidence in who he should talk to ‘bout his problem. A number of them mentioned me. And then he saw me doing a presentation that he said showed him I was an expert. So he called me.”

Kate said, “And now all you have to do is help him get to know and like you.”

“I musta done that,” said Rob. “He asked me for a proposal.”

The Marketing Takeaway

Getting clients is all about trust. To get them to come to you, you must:

  • Stay consistent

  • Establish your expertise

  • Assure that others refer you

  • Be willing to educate if they want to learn

  • Get to know them

Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and the unruly mob of business development professionals he consorts with. They discuss marketing that works from solopreneur to enterprise level. Jerry, The Consultant’s Consultant, is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue. Sign up for the blog and other publications at: www.JerryFletcher.com/Profit.html

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 25 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at www.JerryFletcher.com

Schedule a personal appearance. Jerry speaks internationally on Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship Magic. www.NetworkingNinja.com

Prisoner of Expectations

“I was listening as a client spoke about Succession Planning. Somewhere along the way he used the phrase Prisoner of Expectations and my mind went chasing that idea through the myriad of myths people have about all things marketing.”

B2B Sales ProcessRick said, You mean like thinking that brand is more important than sales, right?”

“You’re right my direct marketing friend,” I responded. “That assumption is at the heart of so many expectations that people have of their marketing that are so wrong! Brand is something you have to allow to happen instead of trying to control it.

That’s why it is nearly impossible to put a number on it.

Rob, our southern-fried band guru arrived and jumped right in saying, “But you can measure it. You have to spend the money to learn the basic level of awareness and preference as well as sales to satisfy Rick and repeat to really nail it down.”

Jim, the lunch guest who had triggered my maunderings asked, “Can you explain that?”

Rob, who all of us call Bubba turned on his Georgia charm and said, “You betcha. Research folks believe you can figure out how powerful a brand y’all have by showing people your logo along with the competitions. Tha’s why lots of folks think a logo is a brand. Taint.

“The measures you can get that way break down like this:” he said indicating his points with raised fingers:

  1. Awareness—that’s the percentage of folks asked that can identify your “brand” and what it is all about from nothin’ more than your logotype.
  2. Preference—what share of the folks that can identify you and your competitors say they pick you first in a buying situation.
  3. Acquisition—that’s when it gets harder ‘cause you’re dealin’ with actual sales versus the competition but if you keep good records even ‘little guys’ can use this measure.
  4. Satisfaction comes next. Most marketer don’t want to admit that not everyone likes their product or service even when they buy and use it.
  5. Repeat— Another way to figure out where you really stand is lots easier in today’s on-line purchase world if you’re price, delivery included, is still the best easily available.
  6. Referral—is the final measure in reality. Y’all can get an idea about this by asking everyone that considers your product or service who told them about you.

Gail, the veteran advertising copy writer said, “If you run ads in national and sometimes regional magazines you can sometimes get Bubba’s first two from readership studies they do. B2B and B2C are pretty much the same except lower prices mean faster answers and acquisition is replaced with trial but it is pretty much the same game.”

“And,” I said, “the rule of thumb I learned long ago and far away is that the percentage drops by 20% each step of the way. In other words if 100 folks were aware than only 80 would Prefer my brand and then only 64 would actually buy. Of those, 51 would be satisfied 41 would buy again and of those just 33 would refer me.”

“Don’t forget,” Bubba said, just about nobody ever gets 100% awareness. Best ever I saw was barely north of 90%.

The Takeaway:

You can measure brand but generally only when it becomes a regional or nationally known product or service. A high awareness score is terrific but Preference, Acquisition (sales), Satisfaction, Repeat and Referral are always lower than Awareness. Always.

For the little guy, the better measure is found in knowing how your sales stack up against repeat and referral which you can easily develop from your B2B sales records

Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and the unruly mob of business development professionals he consorts with. They discuss marketing that works from solopreneur to enterprise level. Jerry Fletcher is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue. Sign up for the blog and other publications at: www.JerryFletcher.com/Profit.html

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 25 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at www.JerryFletcher.com

Schedule a personal appearance. Jerry speaks internationally on Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship Magic. www.NetworkingNinja.com

 

 

 

Crossing the Divide.

Rick asked, “Have you been across the new bridge, yet?”

“No,” I said, “but I hear it is beautifully lit at night.”

New bridge in Portland

“I’ve seen pictures.” said Gail, “but knowing you, I doubt you will ever cross on it as it is limited to walking, bicycles and light rail and since you don’t do any of those…”

“Pardon me for being a child of the automotive age, I sneered. What they’ve done is used modern bridge technology in support of old time transportation. That’s just what is going on with sales and marketing. Suddenly sales and marketing are being forced to cross the divide that has separated them since forever.”

“Step back from the technology Mr. Marketing,” said Kate. What do you mean ‘cross the divide?’ There is a difference between sales and marketing. Like you say, marketing is one to many but sales is one to one. That is a chasm. How is technology changing that?”

“You’ve heard about big data, right?”

“Slow down theah, Fletch,” said Rob our Georgia-born brand guru. Y’all are fixin’ to pounce like duck on a june bug. I know that tone in your voice.”

“Okay, Bubba, I replied. “The thing that is so nifty about this is that the enterprise level folks are just starting to figure out what consultants and professionals, at least the smart ones, have known for years. There’s a Forrester Report that just came out on the CMOs new role in sales enablement. What it boils down to is that:

  • Marketing automation forces more communication between marketing and sales
  • Better understanding of the customer life cycle creates better customer engagement.
  • Marketing’s ability to probe customer concerns and interests via projections of big data analysis on individual accounts give sales deeper insights into how to more quickly build targeted trust-based relationships.

Kate jumped in, “so you’re saying that the age-old problem of Marketing not being able to figure out what a good lead is has been resolved. Is that right?”

“Only for a few companies at the enterprise level,” I said. “But as you well know from your own consulting business the divide between marketing and sales is, most of the time, not a big one. It is kind of hard for it to be when it is the same person. The only time it comes up is when a consultancy starts to grow and they add a sales person to the staff.

A consultant connects with a prospect, builds trust, reaches agreement, provides the service and maintains the relationship. There is no disconnect. Engagement flows freely from marketing activity into sales, delivery and, in the best operations, into a long term relationship.

Engagement is the key word. I believe mid-level companies can profit by building a closer relationship between marketing and sales particularly in the development of sales support materials that build trust and demonstrate real understanding of customer problems.

The Takeaway

Technology is paving the way for big companies to gather and analyze data to bridge the divide between marketing and sales. Consultants already routinely do this. Mid-level companies can move toward this new level of integration by giving sales people a starring role in helping develop communications that nurture the sale.


 

Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and the unruly mob of business development professionals he consorts with. They discuss marketing that works from solopreneur to enterprise level. Jerry Fletcher is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue. Get all his publications at: www.JerryFletcher.com/Profit.html

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 25 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at www.JerryFletcher.com

Schedule a personal appearance. Jerry speaks internationally on Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship Magic. www.NetworkingNinja.com

Huggin’ and Chalkin’

Business Development

I arrived a little late and found our branding Guru in the middle of one of his southern fried soliloquys.

“So you see,” he said, “the answer is like my old friend Charlie would put it: You got to go to huggin’ and chalkin’ if y’all are gonna get anywhere in that situation.”

The others all looked just as confused as I felt so I asked, “huggin” and chalkin’ what does that mean?”

“Fletch,” he replied, “I was just talkin’ about solutions to the problem of getting a business from start-up to gettin’ profitable and how it was like my friend Charlie and his romantic intentions.”

“Okay,” I said, “I’ll bite. What’s the story Bubba?”

“We were talkin’ about that story you told last week about the company trying to get to a sustainable level of business and I allowed as how you don’t always have to go whole hog. It’s like my buddy Charlie’s approach to romance.

Charlie is a big ol’ boy He must be about 6 foot two barefoot and tips the scales somewhere about 220. He’s got rugged good looks, played a little football well enough to get a pro look. But he wasn’t interested in that so he took his degree and then went to law school. He’s practicin’ down in Atlanta these days.”

Kate asked, “Bubba what has all that got to do with building sales for a company?”

“Everything, Madame Sales consultant,” he said. “You see Charlie has a different viewpoint about women. As you might expect he is what is considered a very eligible bachelor. But he’s not into all those gals that are continually on diets. Evah hear of Plus size models? Charlie likes Rubenesque women. And his approach to them is what he calls huggin’ and chalkin.’

Just about like any woman, the ones he prefers like to be kissed all over but ever so often time doesn’t allow or other things come up or some distraction interferes so what he does is tell the lass that he’s goin’ to put a little mark on her where he had to leave off and come back to it later.”

There was a chorus of “What’s the point, Bubba?”

“Okay y’all, the point is he calls that Huggin’ and Chalkin’. It’s the same when you’re tryin’ to build a company on limited funds. You go as far as you can to build trusted relationships with the time and money you have making sure that anyone that becomes a customer knows you really care about them.

When you have more time or money or both you go back to huggin’ and bringing more folks to the party. But you never forget where you were. You put the current customers into a regular follow up process. You touch them regularly. You treat them with kindness, courtesy and make them feel loved. You find a way to be there for them. You can chalk all that up to building a brand and a business.”

The Takeaway
Building a business with limited resources can be done. You can reduce your acquisition actions but never eliminate them. Keep contacting your current customers regularly in order to retain them.


Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and the unruly mob of business development professionals he consorts with. They discuss marketing that works from solopreneur to enterprise level. Jerry Fletcher is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue. Look at the blog at: www.JerryFletcher.net

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 25 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at www.JerryFletcher.com

Schedule a personal appearance. Jerry speaks internationally on Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship Magic. www.NetworkingNinja.com

Coffee, Catchup & Marketing

“All I did was take her idea and run with it,” I protested.

Coffee, Catchup & Marketing“Not according to her,” said Gail, our resident writer. “She tells me that your comments are changing her life.”

I said, “I just met her for coffee and to find out what has been going on. She told me she was thinking about talking to people who stage houses for sale to see if she could get them to display some of her paintings.”

Boy, drawled Bubba, “You’re jus’ like a chicken, you don’t praise your own soup. What did you tell that sweet thing?”

“She’s an artist,” I said. “She’s started painting full time and has been successful at some local art fairs. She’s starting to get interest…not enough to get into a regular gallery yet, but interest. She suggested the staging thing and my marketing brain kicked in.”

“Thas’ all well and good,” said Bubba, “but will you tell us what you told her?”

“This is a perfect example of how I define marketing:

  1. Go where the money is
  2. Sell what they want to buy
  3. Do it again

“I told her to think about the kind of houses that get staged. They are what I call McMansions. They start north of $400,000. Around here most of them have fireplaces.

The one place in a house like that which a painting of size will get noticed is above the fireplace. The painting must be big enough to hang there and command the space. It has to be an original. That’s the only way to get a good price. Big. Original. Commanding. Expensive.

Selling what they want to buy is where the conversation got interesting. She had been making very expensive photo copies of her work and selling those next to the originals.”

“And the originals sold better,” Kate said, finishing for me.”

“Yes, madam sales master,” I replied. “More importantly she had pretty good sales records of the three major styles she was working in. One approach was selling three times better than the others. Visually it was less complex than either of the others but still gave her a great deal of latitude in which to work. She will build an inventory in that series before moving on to the more complex canvases because she will be able to sell them more quickly.

 

Of course, I suggested she find some way to acquire the names and e-mails of anyone who saw one of her paintings and wanted to see more. For an artist, as foreign as the idea may be, a good CRM system can be crucial. People who buy original art tend to buy again. Staying in touch with them can be the difference between a hobby and career.”

The Takeaway

  1. Go where the money is
  2. Sell what they want to buy
  3. Do it again

 

Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and the unruly mob of business development professionals he consorts with. They discuss marketing that works from solopreneur to enterprise level. Jerry Fletcher is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue.

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 25 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at www.JerryFletcher.com

Schedule a personal appearance. Jerry speaks internationally on Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship Magic. www.NetworkingNinja.com

 

 

 

AutoMagic Marketing

“Yes, I have something up my sleeve” I said. The others sat stunned because I’d shown up in a suit.

Golden Triangles of MarketingRick asked, “Is there a time warp? I haven’t seen you in a suit since somewhere south of 1990.”

“Y’all just haven’t seen him speak then,” said Rob, the southland’s branding poobah we lovingly call Bubba. “When he steps on the platform he looks like he’s been livin’ in tall cotton and sounds like he’s plumb tickled to be there and to preach the gospel of digital marketing to the heathens.”

Gail our writer/editor who always strives for clarity said, “I believe you mean to say that he dresses up nicely and talks about CRM and Automated Marketing enthusiastically, right?”

“Yes Ma’am,” said Bubba.

“And that is what I have up my sleeve” I said. “I started working with Contact Management systems, which have morphed into CRM systems, somewhere around 1990. It took over 20 years for folks to even recognize the term CRM. Most still haven’t figured out what it is. Everybody pretty much knows what SEO means but they mistake things like Mail Chimp and Constant Contact for CRM systems. Those e-mail marketing systems aren’t even close to a full bore Integrated CRM system.”

Kate, our resident sales consultant asked, “So what is up your sleeve?”

“I just came from speaking to group of small business owners at a convention. I offered them a copy of The Golden Triangles of Marketing which shows the absolutely essential data you need for Contact Management plus the basics of a fully integrated automated marketing system plus the seven things anyone can do to give it a personal touch. I have a copy here for each of you.” (Get your copy here)

Chris, our corporate digital guy looked up from scanning the piece and said, “I like the way you showed what is absolutely essential instead of gilding the lily.”

“Thanks Chris,” I replied. I really had to work at finding a way to make it understandable. Remember, this is for small and medium sized companies. Enterprise level organizations have the time, money and resources to throw at marketing but the small business owners just don’t. The point is, most small businesses can take advantage of integrated CRM now because there are products and services out there that are reasonably priced and have some of the sophistication the big guys are employing.”

Kate asked, “What was your speech about?”

“I wrote about this not long ago and I’m continuing to research it. The speech was called The Shortcut to Trust. (See part of it here) What it comes down to is that there is an interesting shift going on in marketing. It may be generational but that is what makes what I’m finding so much more powerful. Younger people seem to not like direct contact, sometimes even from a friend. I’ve watched them make every argument you can imagine to avoid having to respond to a phone call. They literally will send an e-mail to someone that sits 5 feet away. Worse still, they text and don’t check their e-mail. But entrepreneurs quickly learn that people don’t do business with you until they trust you. First they have to get to know you and then like you.

With that younger customer and that younger employee you need what I call AutoMagic Marketing.

You need to use all the capability you can muster to open the dialogue, begin a relationship and get to know each other via automated digital marketing. Then, when you engage with a personal touch, the sales possibilities will be much better.”

The Takeaway:

Digital Marketing integrated with Contact Management is AutoMagic Marketing, the first step on a shortcut to Trust. Add a personal touch and your sales will increase Auto Magically!

Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and the unruly mob of business development professionals he consorts with. They discuss marketing that works from solopreneur to enterprise level. Jerry Fletcher is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue.

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 25 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at www.JerryFletcher.com

Schedule a personal appearance. Jerry speaks internationally on Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship Magic. www.NetworkingNinja.com

Form With A Personal Touch

“It all comes down to your form, “I said.

“Are we talking golf or Tennis? “ Chris asked as he sat down.

Getting Subscribers

“Neither” said Rick, our direct marketing expert. “We’re talking forms for web sites and landing pages and other uses on line. One of Fletch’s clients was unhappy that he recommended that a form to capture visitor e-mail addresses be included on every page of the website. The client argued that it wasn’t classy and interfered with his branding.”

Chris, our digital director in residence, turned expectantly to Rob the Branding authority in our midst and said, “So the branding viewpoint is….”

Bubba didn’t disappoint him. “Son,” he said, “That feller’s got his knickers in a knot for the wrong reason. Heah’s the thing. You got folks comin’ to a website and the reason they are there is to find out some more about you or your product or service. They may be looking to meet you. If you were dealin’ with them in person what would you do? You’d make it as easy as possible. You’d answer their questions. You would try to connect with them. You’d invite them to keep in touch. That means the form has got to be there but:

  • The form needs to fit in with the personality of the site
  • The design should emulate the rest of the site
  • The language should fit in with the rest of the site

Kate, our sales veteran took over. She said, ”If you think of the form that way you treat it less like a form and more like an invitation. You tell people what they are going to get and you treat them with respect. You make your approach more personal. For instance, instead of having a button that says Submit you use language like ‘Sign Me Up’ or ‘Connect Me.” (Here’s an example)

“Limiting the amount of information they have to supply is important in that situation,” said Rick. “The other thing you have to tell them is that you won’t sell or give away their information to anybody. Of course, there are other kinds of forms. Those need to include Bubba’s rules but forms that are designed to detect digital body language or for gathering more information such as an application need to assume a couple things:

  • The fewer the queries the better. (Try to keep it under 7)
  • Make it as simple as possible for the visitor
  • Consider gathering information sequentially to build up a prospect profile for multiple interaction situations
  • Put your labels above the fill-ins
  • Use Drop down menus to conserve the visual space of the form
  • Use checkboxes to allow selection of multiple values at the same time
  • Use radio buttons where applicable to allow for faster viewer scanning.

“If I bring my client to lunch will you guys repeat yourselves?” I asked.

Gail, our writer/editor quietly spoke for the group saying, “You’re big boy. You can convey what was said here today. “What I hear you saying is that you’re not sure you can convince your client. Try telling him what you learned.”

The Takeaway:

Forms on web sites, landing pages and sales sites are all better when they are built with a personal touch in mind– like an invitation. That means designing the form to fit in seamlessly while making it as easy for the user as possible.

Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and the unruly mob of business development professionals he consorts with. They discuss marketing that works from solopreneur to enterprise level. Jerry Fletcher is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue.

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 25 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at www.JerryFletcher.com

Schedule a personal appearance. Jerry speaks internationally on Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship Magic. www.NetworkingNinja.com

Speak to Me!

Jean asked, “Should I hire a receptionist or a phone answering service?”

“What did you tell her?” said Gail.

“It depends.” Speak to Me!

“Hold on theah, Slippery, thas your answer to just about anything it seems to me,” said Rob, our loveable branding behemoth from the peach state. “Just what does it depend on if you please?”

Kate jumped in before I could say word. She said, “I can tell you what he’s going to say, Bubba, because I’ve had this discussion with him a couple years ago. I can’t swear to the statistics but he made a pretty good case for having a human on the phone, particularly for a small business like mine. As I recall

  • Somewhere north of 75% of all callers that get an answering machine hang up.
  • Nine out of ten customers that get a machine in business hours think you are too small to do business with.
  • About two thirds of people will immediately call a competitor if a human doesn’t answer.

I said, “You didn’t tell them the most important reason to have someone answering the phone…you can’t afford to miss a call, especially if you look at the average value of your proposals.”

Chris pointed out, “You didn’t really answer Jean’s question: Should she hire a receptionist or an answering service?”

“True,” I responded. “A start-up should definitely look at hiring an answering service. Later, when they can hire a receptionist, assuming there are other clerical activities that person can perform you should look at keeping the answering service on.”

“Wait a minute,” Chris said. “Did you say keep them on?”

“Yes,” I said. “the fact is that if you operate like Kate and a number of consultants I’ve worked with, you will have people calling in anywhere up to three hours ahead or behind the local time zone you operate in because you work with clients or prospects across the USA. In addition, if you are connected on multiple continents you need to worry about what day it is as well as what time.

Over 85% of the times someone might call are outside the time a receptionist is in the office! The beauty of an answering service, a good one, is that you can get coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. On top of that, if you need to gather data for a form or other information a good service can handle it. There are even services that can set telephone appointments for you when someone calls in.

I did a little on-line research to be sure I gave Jean today’s facts. The numbers Kate quoted are still true. Here are a couple others I found that make it a good idea to work with a telephone answering service that is human:

  • 80% of callers that get a machine will not call back (and that percentage is increasing).
  • 73% of callers answered by a human will not call a competitor (but you have less than two minutes to have someone knowledgeable on the line to handle their questions or arrange for someone to call them back).
  • A study from the UK indicated that a human answering every call could increase sales by 25%.

So I believe that it is a worthwhile experiment to try using a human based answering service and carefully monitoring the change in acquisition of new business and retention of current business. The probabilities are: up to a 25% increase in acquisition and assuring between 60 and 70% retention.”


 

Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and the unruly mob of business development professionals he consorts with. They discuss marketing that works from solopreneur to enterprise level. Jerry Fletcher is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue.

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 25 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at www.JerryFletcher.com

Schedule a personal appearance. Jerry speaks internationally on Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship Magic. www.NetworkingNinja.com

 

 

 

Personal Touch Breakthrough

“Once again a blast from the past takes over!” I said as I slid into my seat for lunch with the rowdy crew of business developers I’ve become the Watson for.

Personal phone calls build digital businessGail, our copywriter par excellence took a sip of iced tea and replied, “Can we assume that this has something to do with your choice of a topic for the day?”

Kate, the sales consultant sneered, “Yes, do tell. We’re all atwitter.”

Rob, who we call Bubba because he hails from Georgia, said, “Y’all are a cranky bunch today. Give the man a chance to ‘splain himself afore you go flingin’ him into the briar patch.”

“Thanks Bubba,” I said. “You know how we all get those heavy duty pitches from guys trying to sell us on line sales and SEO  expertise and products and you name it? Well I look at some of it but this last video really threw me. Usually these guys are all about on-line and they’re as personable as a loan shark looking for a past due account.”

Chris, the Digital Director said, “Whoa. Not every on-line business is that way. The truth is you have to offer some value or you will soon be out of business. You know that. You helped me when I was doing my entrepreneur thing.”

“My point is,” I said, “that because about midway through a video presentation that had some good stuff in it I was astonished when three of the experts being interviewed talked about how they experimented with personal touch in their on line businesses. What they tried was:

  • Hand written thank you notes to everyone that signed up for a free trial for an App. That more than doubled the conversion from trial to paid membership.
  • Personalized 30 second videos maintained that increase but cut the time needed per touch from five minutes to a minute or two.
  • A one-to-one text e-mail that is not generated by an auto responder started a dialogue that allowed a merchant to discover things about how his product/service is received and used. It proved to be a huge value for the next version.
  • You can use You Tube to put up an unlisted video. Then you send a link to the customer. They never forget.
  • You can overcome cart abandonment using the telephone. If you use a two-step sales approach (Contact info entered separately from Credit card) you can easily see who leaves without buying. Once a day or so, simply call those folks and have a conversation with them. You don’t sell, you just listen to the problem they have and let them know how your product can help them. This approach generates 12% to 30% additional sales.

Rick, our direct Marketing guy who really understands process said, “Let me sum up:

The Takeaway:

Customers do not want to be treated like numbers. They want to connect with a human being that understands their problem, relates to it and is really interested in them as a person. That pays off in increased sales.”


 

Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and an unruly mob of business development professionals. They discuss what’s new, what’s old, what’s good, bad and ugly plus creative thinking to find what works. Jerry Fletcher is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue.

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 20 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at www.JerryFletcher.com

Schedule a personal appearance. Jerry speaks internationally on Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship Magic. www.NetworkingNinja.com