Archive for November, 2009

10 Steps to Generate More Leads (part 1 – the first five!); by Barry Harrison, Resolve Digital

For professional service firms and others engaged in complex sales processes, pushing users toward a shopping cart isn’t the primary goal. The main objective is to persuade visitors to contact you to generate leads for your sales team, to nurture those prospects and convert them into new and repeat business.

One of the best ways to ensure websites are producing the most possible leads is to evaluate your site from a visitor’s perspective. Follow these steps for numerous, qualified leads.

1. Establish credibility
Just as you would in person, start building rapport with website visitors as soon as they arrive. Instead of a crude “welcome to our website” headline, create a positive feeling that reassures visitors: “You’ve come to the right place.” This encourages them to stay on your site, read a blurb or click a link. Now you have the opportunity to establish your credibility and earn their trust.

Initial impressions have a lasting impact known as the “halo effect” – what they first see influences their perception of the rest of your site and your brand, assuming they stick around.

2. Respond to inquiries quickly
Whether the inquiry comes by email, phone, Twitter or any other method, a quick response on your part (ideally within an hour) builds confidence and trust. It’s also the best way to capture a lead before they change their mind or find another vendor.

3. Give facts, but promote the benefits
Provide succinct descriptions of your services. Note your customers’ common questions and develop a FAQ with the answers. Above all, look for the emotional components that reveal the benefits of your solution and eliminate your prospects pain points. By creating this emotional connection you encourage them to continue interacting with you.

4. Provide information during each phase of the buying cycle
Relevant content guides prospects from one phase to the next. In the research phase, they gather information. Be a resource. Tell them what then need to know. Offer a how-to video. Capture their contact info by encouraging them to sign-up for a newsletter or register for an event or webinar. In the comparison phase, they evaluate your company relative to your competitors. Highlight content like success stories and case studies, checklists and guides. In the decision phase, valueadded offers and guarantees provide reassurance and help them feel good about making their decision.

5. Address the pricing question
Prospects need to know if your offerings are within their budget. They don’t expect to see a final price on your website, but look for budget ranges to qualify your company as a viable option. With this information upfront, both parties can avoid wasting time and energy.

As a small business in a lackluster economy, making the most of your marketing dollars is critical to your bottom line. Using a local search engine, you can target customers in a particular region while maximizing your marketing investment. Local search is more targeted and less expensive than other forms of online and offline advertising, which can translate into more leads and customers for less money. In addition to offering inexpensive, relevant advertising dynamics, local search also provides an audit trail to measure results, and other opportunities to increase revenue.

Not only will this help consumers find your physical location, but also enhance search results for your business and help keep up with the competition. Build your local listing in all of the major search engines, like Google Local Business, Yahoo!Local, and Bing Local. Simply search for the word Local Business on their main page.

OR

Call me! And I can help you set it up!

Just another way to make sure your business gets shown in search engines

Common USPs

Features: If your product is faster, bigger, smaller or comes in more colors, sizes and configurations than others on the market, you have a powerful selling strength. In fact, if you can’t offer some combination of features that sets you apart, you’ll have difficulty.

Price: Everybody wants to pay less for a product. If you can position yourself as the low-cost provider (and make money at those rock-bottom prices), you have a powerful selling advantage. Conversely, high-priced products may appeal to many markets for their sheer snob value. Several years ago, an Amsterdam designer came out with a perfume that came in a sealed bottle that could not be opened. This “virtual perfume” was priced the same as Chanel No. 5 and found ready buyers.

Availability: If you can get your product into a major retailer such as Target or Wal-Mart, you’ll create a powerful selling point by piggybacking on their redoubtable distribution powers.

Service: Excellent service is perhaps the most important trait you can add to a plain-vanilla product to make it compelling. Many people look not for the best value or even the best product, but simply the one they can buy with the least hassle.

Financing: Whether you “tote the note” and guarantee credit to anyone, offer innovative leasing, do buybacks or have other financing alternatives, you’ll find that giving people different, more convenient ways to pay can be a convincing strength for your product.

Delivery: Nobody wants to wait for anything anymore. If you can offer overnight shipping, on-site service or 24-hour availability, it can turn an otherwise unremarkable product or service into a very attractive one.

Reputation: Why do people pay $10,000 for a Rolex watch that keeps the same time as a $20 Timex? The Rolex reputation is the reason. At its most extreme, reputation can literally keep you in business.

Training: Training is a component of service that is becoming increasingly important in an era of high-technology products and services. For many sophisticated software products and electronic devices, a seller who can’t provide training to buyers has little chance of landing any orders.

Knowledge: Today, your expertise and how you impart it to customers is an important part of your total offering. Retailers of auto parts, home improvement supplies and all sorts of other goods have found that simply having knowledgeable salespeople who know how to replace the water pump in an ’85 Chevy can lure customers and encourage them to buy.

Experience: We’ve been there. We’ve done thousands of installations like yours, and there’s no doubt we can make this one work as well. Nothing could be more soothing to a skeptical sales prospect than to learn that the seller has vast experience at what he’s doing. If you have ample experience, make it part of your selling proposition.

Customers: There’s a reason Michael Jordan got millions from Nike for endorsing Air basketball shoes and it’s not because buyers thought they could really dunk like Mike. They bought because they wanted to be like Mike, even if it was just from the ankles down. If you have prestigious customers, mention it in your marketing materials and in your business plan.

Other factors: There may be many wild card factors that are either unique to a particular product or are not often used in a particular industry. These can make your product stand out. For instance, consider offering a guarantee. When consumers know they can return a faulty product for a refund or repair, they’re often more likely to buy it over otherwise superior products from competitors offering less powerful warranties.

Even while you can creatively imitate others, remember that it’s also important to be different. Distinguish your business or product from all the rest. Make your enterprise special in the eyes of your customer or client and set yourself favorably apart from every other generic competitor.

(SOURCE: Your Road Map to Success: How to Write a Winning Business Plan, Entrepreneur Press, Microsoft Business Resource Center)

All of us are guilty of putting off less desirable tasks at least once in a while. We live in a world with lots of deadlines. We put things off as a matter of good task management, but we wind up beating ourselves up and mistakenly attribute it to procrastination, when realistically we probably simply have put too many things on our plate.

Don’t beat yourself up. You’ll only get more frustrated and feel even less motivated. Try to focus on starting a project, not on finishing it. “I choose to start” is what you want to say to yourself, rather than “I have to finish” and you may be in a better frame of mind to tackle the job at hand.

12 Tips for Working

1. Write down your ideas. Do not trust your memory, no matter how good it may be!

2. Set down your priorities before the start of each day’s work.

3. Use your high-productivity hours for top-priority projects.

4. Tackle time-consuming projects in stages.

5. Do not over schedule. Leave some free time for yourself each day.

6. Concentrate on one item at a time.

7. Take breaks. Walk around. Stretch. Eat lunch away from your desk.

8. Establish a place for everything. Categorize, file, and store items nearby.

9. Keep paperwork moving.

10. Put limits on visits:

– Stack stuff on any extra chairs so uninvited visitors have to stand.

– When chatty people call, tell them you have only a few minutes to talk. Politely ask them the point of their call right away.

11. Remove unnecessary paperwork from your desk, This prevents lost or mixed-up papers.

12. Handle each piece of paper only once

(source: The Procrastinator’s Handbook: Mastering the art of doing it now)

Some great advice I received on branding your business:

Brand Your Business in 5 Easy Steps
By Patsy Foxworth, ActionCoach Business Coaching (http://www.actioncoach.com/)

Everyone talks of branding their business these days. Branding is what makes you stand out from all your competition in the market. What makes you different or unique? What is it about you or your business or your products that sets you apart from everyone else?

Once you zero in on your uniqueness, you can easily target who your market is. Who in the masses want what you have to offer, at the price you are offering it and from your location? Easy enough, right? Oh, the marketing geniuses think so.

Big corporations spend millions of dollars to survey their markets to establish who is purchasing their products…the demographics (age, male, female, and ethnicity), typical times and locations products are purchased; methods of payment; colors that are most popular; textures; shapes; sizes; smells; and of course the price range – it must fall into to hit the sweet spot for them.

If you could do all that for your business, would you? Some say yes, and others seem not to care. Branding helps a business establish what the owners of the business stand for. What they want to say to their end user/client/customer.

What does your business say about you?

  • High Quality
  • Low Quality
  • Cheap
  • Expensive
  • Accessible
  • Hard to get/find
  • Average
  • Classy
  • Mediocre

If you want to brand your business or yourself, consider these five easy steps to establishing yourself uniquely in the market:

Determine what it is that makes you or your business so special that you will not have to compete on price in the market.

Make sure every part of your business emulates this message – if it is quality of service or product etc. – maintain it all the way through.

Systematize your business so that you deliver to your customers expectations EVERY time.

Test and Measure your systems on a regular basis to audit yourself. Have no surprises – know what the expected outcomes are and continuously deliver.

Establish a Guarantee – one that you know you can deliver on – every time.

Use these points when creating copy for your website, too! Show your potential clients why they should come to you instead of the other guy!