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Five Selling Mistakes that Cost You Marketing Dollars

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Mike Montague– Enjoy!

sales-mistakesMost businesses these days seem to take a sales or marketing approach to business development instead of a sales AND marketing approach. These common mistakes in sales can cost you marketing dollars and a lot of revenue from potential sales. If you are looking for a better return on your marketing budget, you might try looking at your sales department.

You don’t tightly target your prospects.

When business is slow, the temptation to tell your story to whomever will listen is great.  Instead, be choosy about the people to whom you “tell your story.”  Use your existing customer base to identify the characteristics of your best customers.  With that information, have the sales and marketing departments sit down together and develop a profile of your “ideal” customer.  Then, search out prospects that most closely fit the profile.  You may meet with fewer people, but you’ll close more sales.

You’re not sufficiently selective about the prospects with whom you meet.

Expressing an “interest” in your product or service is not a strong enough reason to schedule an appointment with a potential prospect. If prospects’ “interests” aren’t backed by recognized needs or desires for your product or service – now or in the immediate future – then there’s no compelling reasons to meet with them.  Find out why prospects are interested and what trigger event sparked their interest before you schedule sales appointments.  Use the marketing department to score the leads and nurture them until they are “sales ready”.

You neither establish credibility nor demonstrate expertise.

In sales, your job is to help the prospect view their situation from different perspectives and discover elements or aspects of their challenges they didn’t previously recognize.  And most importantly, you can’t just tell them! Prospects can get information from your marketing, but you must be able to ask questions in such a manner as to help prospects make those “discoveries” through a conversation.  Here’s an example:

When you asked your production manager to measure the injection pressure differential between the beginning and end of the production cycle and to what extent it contributed to the casting inconsistencies, what did he report?

Educating your prospects through intelligent questions demonstrates your understanding of their problems and allows the prospect to discover your expertise. It is perhaps the single most important skill to master in modern selling.

You don’t ask “tough” questions.

To be valuable as a salesperson, you must be able to identify elements at the center of controversies, uncover root causes of problems, discover carefully guarded information, and obtain rarely volunteered commitments.  You won’t be able to accomplish any of those tasks without asking tough questions. Again, marketing materials can explain features and benefits, but only great salespeople can ask and answer tough questions.

You rush to make presentations.

Many salespeople are too eager to make presentations.  They view them as opportunities to establish the value of their products or services by demonstrating their unique aspects. However, the real purpose of presentations is to confirm your ability to deliver the solutions prospects are predisposed to buy.

Until you know what and why you are presenting, you should refrain from making presentations.  Don’t cool off your lead from the marketing department by presenting information they don’t care about, instead heat it up by discussing the prospect’s situation and understanding why they are considering your help.

Make the most of your marketing and sales opportunities!

If both departments work together, the harmony can take your organization to the next level. Marketing can become sales enablement specialists who create and nurture leads, and then escort them over to sales at the perfect time. The sales team can relax and become closing conversation masters that bring the expertise of a trusted advisor to remove road blocks for prospects. Both departments can work together to create an environment that allows the customer to buy and enjoy doing so!

These five mistakes are just some of the ways selling mistakes hurt your marketing. If you can think of others, please share them in the comments below.

 

Mike-Montague-2013-smThis is a guest blog by Mike Montague, Associate and Certified Trainer at Sandler Training Kansas City. Sandler Training empowers their clients to achieve higher levels of success through innovative training courses in sales, management, and customer service for companies and individuals around the Kansas City area. They offer public and private courses for individuals and organizations who value lifelong learning and continuous improvement.

Are You Building Your Business With a Crock-pot or a Microwave?

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Dan Kraus – Enjoy!
Are you building your business with a Crockpot or Microwave?

Photo Credit: lisaclarke via photopin cc

My Hubspot channel colleague Rachel Cogar at Puma Creative has a phase that I just absolutely love – she describes Inbound Marketing as a crock-pot strategy, not a microwave strategy.  Meaning, quite vividly I would add, that you will get a very tasty meal of inbound traffic and leads if you are willing have patience and put the time in for inbound marketing.

I’d go further than Rachel does with this however, and say that pretty much all marketing in a complex buying process is a crock-pot strategy.  We work with a lot of technology re-sellers/dealers/vars and they sell complex and expensive software, which performs critical functions for mid sized and smaller large businesses.

This is a not a quick turnover process.  A new customer purchase, with software and services, easily runs into the six-figures.  And the process to buy is long, complex and fraught with difficult questions to ask, answer and consider.

We’ve been seeing estimates that customers in complex purchases believe that they have completed anywhere from 60% to 80% of their buying process before they ever talk to a vendor on the phone.  SIXTY TO EIGHTY percent finished before you ever get to talk with them.

If you’ve been in business for about 10 years or more, think back – what was your sales cycle before the search engine ruled the world?  And what is it today? I am willing to guess that if you said your sales cycle used to be 6 months, and you really look at the time from engagement to close today, it probably is 6 to 8 weeks now.  So no, it hasn’t gotten shorter – its gotten hidden.  That engagement you used to have early on, as you educated a prospect, is now engagement the prospect takes upon themselves in a self-directed manner.

The impact of this is pretty profound in 3 key areas:

  1. We have a much more difficult time forecasting our sales future because we get engaged with prospects much later.  If we sell a product that used to have a 6-month sales cycle, we could reasonably do a weighted forecast, six months out.  If you are only seeing prospects now 6 to 8 weeks before they buy, it’s a lot hard to forecast six months.
  2. You don’t get a lot of opportunity to impact your prospects thought process.  The education that your prospect goes through is self-directed.  You don’t get to control the conversation. In fact, you will probably not even be able to impact the conversation unless you are putting out high quality educational materials on a regular basis such that Google sees you as a good source of education.
  3. You have a shorter window of time, space and energy to show why you are different than you have ever had before.  If the sales cycle that you are engaged with is shorter, and the prospect is self-educated, you have to have an extremely clear point of differentiation that is in-your-face obvious (and can be seen on a mobile phone).  If your prospects have to dig around to see why you are different, you lose.  The back button the browser or opening a new tab on my mobile is just too easy.

So back to our crock-pot and microwave.

To help educate these prospects and have them engage with you at the end of their buying process, they need to find you at the beginning.  This is the crock-pot.  You need to know the ingredients and keep adding them to the stew.  And give it time to cook.

Non-metaphorically – you need to know what the knowledge or understanding that your prospect is looking for and make it available when they want it (and in the format they want it).

The challenge with microwave strategies in a complex buying cycle is that sometimes they work.  Your telemarketer looking for leads might stumble upon someone who is ready to buy now.  That lead you purchased from a lead-aggregator may be a perfect fit customer for your organization and purchase next week.  But these results are unpredictable and make it difficult to consistently grow your business.

So by all means, use the microwave, but just like in your kitchen, there are some things that just don’t cook well in three to five minutes of radiation.  To make sure that you will always be well-fed, be sure you also get the crock-pot going, and always keep adding new and tasty ingredients for your prospects to feast on.

Dan KrausDan Kraus is the founder and president of the Leading Results marketing agency and a Master Duct Tape Marketing consultant.  Dan has been a sales and marketing professional for over 25 years, previously working for companies such as Great Plains Software and SAP. Based in Charlotte, NC, Leading Results has worked with Duct Tape Marketing for five years and is a Gold Certified Hubspot partner.  Leading Results helps clients in 14 different time zones to stop wasting money on marketing that doesn’t get results.

Using Forums to Market New Products and Services to Existing Customers

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Patrick Clinger – Enjoy!

proboardsBusinesses of all stripes are always looking for new customers to buy their products or services. However, sometimes businesses ignore the best place to look for new sales:  through customers who have already purchased products and services in the past.  Tapping into your existing customers to boost your sales is smart because you’ve already done the hardest part of the sales cycle with them:  you made that first sale.

The easiest path to new sales is often found through those who have already made a decision to buy from you.  The key is getting a sense of how the products are perceived by customers, how the services are used, and what add-on or upsell products and services are a good fit to market new offerings to an existing customer base.

Internet Forums

One of the best tools for learning more about customers who already use your products and services is social media, with Internet forums being one of the more dependable tools for gathering information.

According to a 2012 study by Awareness, a marketing firm based in Burlington, Mass., one-third of marketers are looking to social media and Internet forums as the platform of choice to reach customers.  Nativo, a content marketing firm in Long Beach, Calif., says 20 percent of Americans use forums to discuss and recommend products.  Nearly two-thirds of women in online forums make product recommendations on these boards.

Marketing to customers via an Internet forum delivers this proven path and helps ensure success by enabling a series of regular and intimate communications between the company and the customer. Spending time on Internet forums where your customers can be found often reveals relevant marketing information about products in demand, services used, strengths of competitive offerings, and weaknesses in products or services offered by a competitor.  This sort of intelligence is ideal for putting together a sales pitch on new or related products and services, or to make a compelling offer to customers of your chief competition in order to acquire new customers who were unhappy with their offering.

Internet forums also help to build customer loyalty. The seeds you plant today, through the intimate two-way communication forums provide, help make products better and allow the company to fix potential problems, while ensuring product launches are more successful — just by leveraging the loyalty built through the regular interactive engagement with your customers.

Spend some time finding out which forums your customers read regularly and do some “lurking” where you read each post and response without actively participating.  Take careful notes.  Identify current customers on the forum.  From their posts and comments, what other products or services would improve their experience with your company based on the first purchase they made?  Do they offer advice to others buying similar products or do they warn prospects about the purchase they made from you?

Stay in Touch

If you detect something is wrong, you can proactively contact them and fix the problem.  If it’s a competitive offering, how does your product or service address the shortcomings of the competitive solution?  Can you put together a program to encourage these customers to try your company?

Internet forums provide a great way to stay in touch with your customer base.  But there are some “rules of the road” for participating in a forum and using it for marketing purposes.  Follow them or you could risk being banned by the forum staff:

  • Develop a good profile so forum participants know who you are.  Make yourself approachable.  Make sure there is contact information so it makes you accessible to your customers and prospects.
  • Introduce yourself to the forum members in the appropriate section.
  • Be smart about commenting; never insult a poster.
  • If you are alerted to a problem, play a role in getting it resolved; encourage other posters to ask you questions.
  • Make valuable contributions to the forum; provide good information.  Don’t spread rumors or make bold claims.  Be helpful and humble.  Be objective.
  • Don’t hard sell new products and services when you make a new post, and always expose any biases you have.  It’s great to help people who have questions, it’s bad to spam.

Patrick Clinger Headshot - 300dpi-jpg 05-16-13Patrick Clinger is founder and CEO of ProBoards, the world’s largest host of free forums on the Internet (www.proboards.com).  The company has been hosting forums for more than 14 years with over 3.7 million forums created on its platforms.  The company’s forums record billions of page views every year with tens of millions of registered users.  ProBoards’ Forums.net white label forum service allows small business to quickly and easily create their own branded Internet forum that is fully managed by ProBoards.

 

Bridging the Small Business Marketing Gap

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Dan Faggella – Enjoy! 

customer-relationship-management

photo credit: abdevlabs.com

Email marketing and marketing automation software often fails to achieve business goals of enhancing revenue and profitability, creating a “marketing gap” for businesses.

This is a particular challenge for startups and small businesses that have fewer internal resources and more immediate business demands.

The problem can be traced to concerns over lack of time, limited internal marketing resources, the complexity of managing the ongoing program, the absence of training and guidance from vendors, and frustration with disappointing results, but these organizations can bridge this gap by understanding some of the basic steps that will help them achieve more effective use of marketing automation and email marketing investments, and a better focus on the areas of focus for these technologies.

There are four distinct areas of focus for email marketing and marketing automation: Collecting, Connecting, Converting and Circulating

Collecting

Here businesses need to look at the ways they are presently acquiring leads, contacts and, in some cases, front-end sales. Some collecting strategies include landing page optimization/split-testing, opt-in form variations and drop-down segmentation, outbound lead generation campaign design.

Best Practice: Maintain a vigilant split-testing regimen on all major landing pages that involve email capture functionality. Any web page responsible for substantial lead-flow should be split-tested.

Connecting

Here organizations need to build the best possible initial relationship with their prospects through automated follow-up sequences and communication calibrated by prospect type and behavior. Some connecting strategies include customer avatars and customer profiles (purchase motives, etc.), analytics for email open and click-through rates, split-testing of email sequences and subject lines.

Best Practice: Segment email subscribers and leads (from white papers, etc…) early, not late. If you can segment prospects effectively, you can communicate to them in a more relevant way (by business size, by goals, by industry, etc…), your emails can drive much better results in terms of engagement, appointments / sales.

Converting

Business should be working to leverage email and automation strategies to assist customers in making their first significant step forward with the organization’s business. Some converting strategies include appointment form split-testing, landing or sales page split-testing, offer and campaign construction.

Best Practices: It’s important to be able to quantify what a “conversion” is in your business. If you sell online, you may want email marketing to directly drive sales (very measurable). If you sell in person, email should usually be responsible for settling up appointments (also quite measurable).

Circulating

Organizations should be looking to continue relationship-building with customers and/or prospects. Some circulating strategies include determination of broadcast regiments, long-term customer lifetime value mapping and optimization (“deep” campaigns as an alternative to neglecting past prospects and customers), “newsletter” segmentation, and testing methods engineered to refine communication for long-term engagement.

Best Practices: The “vanilla” newsletter is the same, bland message that goes out monthly to all your contacts. It is a thing of the best. If you do keep a newsletter, segment it into categories of relevance, such as “customer,” “past customer,” and “prospect,” and speak to those groups individually.

While these strategies may seem foreign to some, there are real-world many examples of smaller organizations that mastered marketing automation and email marketing and as a result, uncovered areas of improvement that deliver significant yields by more efficiently and productively managing projects of high priority to their business.

It all begins with understanding the steps necessary to bridge the “marketing gap” and if help is needed to navigate this journey, there are those who could guide – all businesses need to do is stop and ask for directions.

Dan Headshot100x100Dan Faggella is the founder and CEO of CLVboost, a marketing consultancy based in Cambridge, MA, that works with businesses to help them realize their growth potential by maximizing new and existing marketing technologies. Dan is a sought-after speaker on this topic at Internet marketing events, startup conferences and business workshops across the US, and he has been featured on media channels like MIXERGY and GrowthHacker.TV.  Dan is also founder of TechEmergence, an online community and strategic resource supporting the work of startups, researchers, investors and others focused on technology that has the potential to alter human potential.

 

Gambling with Facebook Ads: How to Win Against a Stacked Deck

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Claire Pelletreau – Enjoy!

ducttape-oCPM-screenshot“Facebook Ads is just like gambling! I got this rush every time I looked and saw that my numbers had gone up again!”

Not everyone has this reaction to Facebook ads, especially their first time out of the gate. Running paid campaigns can also bring about that crushing disappointment of gambling: your money runs out and you’ve got nothing to show for it.

But you have a lot more control over the results of Facebook ads than at the Blackjack table, so this investment could be the very risk your business should be taking.

Put List Building on Autopilot

List building is one of the easiest (and cheapest) pieces of marketing to turn over to Facebook Ads. It isn’t hard to entice people to click on an ad that offers something of value to them, especially if it’s free. A collection of 50 green smoothie recipes? Yes, please.  A free guide to getting bumped up to business class on every flight? Hook me up. Even if I’m on Facebook just to procrastinate or see what friends are up to, I’ll click on your ad if it offers me something useful.

And when you combine a compelling ad with a great landing page that converts – You just hit list building pay dirt. You can use ads to drive traffic to your landing page around the clock! But make sure you pay attention to the right numbers before you even launch your campaign.

The “Fine Print” of Running Facebook Ads

It’s important to remember that Facebook is the dealer here. He knows how to wrangle your chips away from you, even if it still seems like you’re winning. Let me give you an example:

One of the best ads to run is the Promoted Page Post ad. These ads can show up in your Newsfeed with the little word “Sponsored” at the top and bottom. If you don’t spot that “Sponsored” word, you can easily confuse these ads for posts from pages you forgot you liked in the past.  You can comment on this ad, like it, share, and click on the photo if it has one.

So let’s say you’re showing me a hilarious photo of a hipster cat with glasses. Chances are I’m going to click on that photo to see it full-size. Then maybe I notice your image caption talking about funny cat videos, and a link.  The hope is that I click on the link and head over to your site.

Here’s the catch, though: Facebook just charged you for 2 clicks. It doesn’t matter whether I sign up for your cat-laden newsletter, or if I ever return to your site again. You get billed for both of those clicks.

This may seem like nothing when you’ve got a super high CTR (click-through-rate) and these clicks are costing you $0.33 each.  But imagine that for every click through to your landing page, you’re paying for 2 clicks ($0.66). And you have an opt-in conversion rate of 25%, meaning 1 out of every 4 people who visit actually sign up for your newsletter.

So you spend 2 x 4 x 0.33 for one email sign-up: $2.64.

This is not necessarily a bad cost-per-conversion. It is, however, far from the $0.33 cost-per-click that Facebook had you focusing on.

“How can I keep my cost-per-conversion down?”

There are a few ways, but the easiest is to use Facebook’s Optimized CPM (oCPM) bidding option. This means that Facebook will show your ad to people who are more likely to take a specific action based on their previous behavior on Facebook. So if you want to get people to like your page, you choose that option and Facebook will supposedly make it happen. If you want people to click through to your website and check it out, maybe read a blog post, you can choose to have the ad optimized for link clicks. If you want someone to go from seeing your ad to signing up for your list, you choose the “website conversion” option.

“But Optimized CPM gives me a crazy expensive Cost Per Mille!”

It looks that way. Compared to those ultra-cheap cost-per-click numbers you’re used to seeing, a $12 CPM (or cost per 1,000 impressions) looks like it’s Facebook’s way of hitting you where it hurts, and hard.

But before you go back to CPC bidding, you have to do the math.

Let’s go back to the earlier example where your cost-per-click was $0.33, and you needed four people clicking on your ad twice to nail one email sign-up. You’re paying $2.64 per conversion.

If Optimized CPM shows your ad to people who are more likely to opt in to your newsletter, the conversion rate on your landing page should get a bump. If that bump can bring your cost-per-conversion down to less than $2.64, who cares how much your Cost Per Mille is?

So give Optimized CPM a try for your next lead generation campaign. In order to choose this option you’re going to need to have conversion tracking set-up and use the Power Editor to choose all the correct options.

Enjoy the rush of watching your list grow and even the sweet agony brought about by a painfully-low CTR. Don’t go all in on your first campaign – there are so many different ways you can “win” by testing out different versions of your ads.

And stay away from using photos of cats in your ads – there really is such thing as ad images that are too good.

cp-bio-photoClaire Pelletreau is a Facebook ads consultant and confessed conversion junkie. She’s been playing with Facebook ads since 2011 and sharpened her skills running paid campaigns for Laura Roeder’s five and six-figure launches. Now she applies everything she learned to helping other small businesses bring in more subscribers and sales than they ever imagined.

Get more bang for your advertising buck – click here to grab Claire’s free step-by-step guide to list building with Facebook ads!

 

Why Live Chat is a Powerful Sales Tool

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Sunir Shah – Enjoy! 

As you read this article, potential customers are browsing your website, looking to buy something from you. Lost, confused, skittish, they will abandon your site before buying anything.

If only you had talked to them in time.

If you still think live chat is just for technical support, you’re in the wrong decade. As your ever present salesperson on every page of your website, the new live chat finally gives online companies that shop floor presence the average customer needs before buying.

What live chat has become

bonobosWhen I say live chat, I’m talking about the chat tab in the corner of websites like BonobosHipmunk, and Birchbox.

I’m talking about live chat that is immediate and personable, where real humans answer questions and provide helpful, actionable information. The kind of live chat that provides you with direct, one-on-one conversations with customers.

It’s no surprise that a study conducted by Shopify showed that chatting customers were 3 times more likely to become return shoppers and had 48% larger order sizes.

Why Live Chat Improves Sales

A customer clicking through from search or advertising is not a loyal customer. They just want to know, ‘What’s in it for me?’

Live chat gives you a chance to show you’re more than a landing page by being there, answering their questions, and If you’re not online to answer that question for them, customers will move on to the next website that can.

By simply initiating a chat, a customer instantly qualifies themselves as a lead.  That one-on-one interaction gives you the opportunity to answer a question or solve a problem that converts them from ‘lead’ to ‘customer.’

More importantly, you get the chance to delight them with an amazing experience that might win you a future and returning customer.

How to rock live chat

Be available. If you’re going to do live chat, you need to staff it. Not answering an incoming chat is worse than not answering the phone. It’s gives customers the same feeling as when walking into a store and not being able to find a salesperson.

Make it snappy. Customers expect immediacy, so aim to respond to their first message in under 30 seconds. A few seconds more and they could be on to the next store. Even a simple hello will get the conversation started.

Make it human. Fire the robots. Burn the scripts. Let your staff be natural when they’re helping customers. Like this Netflix customer support rep who managed to delight the customer with a deep knowledge of science fiction programming. This is a chance to build a relationship with your next loyal customer.

Prepare your team to sell. Train your staff to know solutions for common problems and problems the customer hasn’t yet considered. Ideally your operators are good listeners and strong critical thinkers, able to solve immediate problems and anticipate future needs based on conversation context. Share transcripts of good and bad chats to show your team what works and doesn’t.

Practice starting chats. The beauty of live chat is you can see who’s on your site and what pages they’re viewing. You can initiate a sales conversation by posing a targeted sales opener. For instance, if they are looking at bikes, “Hey, we have a big selection of mountain bikes. I can help you find the right one. Are you staying near the city or going offroad?

Close the sale. You can lose a lot of sales at order and fulfillment, either from customers who lose faith in the purchase, don’t trust you, or are having problems. Set an automated rule to initiate a chat for any customer that hesitates on checkout, such as “Hey, want to know more about our money back guarantee?”

Big Finish

There are tens of thousands of companies just like you using live chat for sales. Like Farms Technology, LLC, which uses it to approach sometimes introverted farmers with useful product information. Or WhoIsHostingThis.com who uses live chat to establish trust and build a rapport to boost sales.

Live chat is a powerful, if not the most powerful, sales tool you have. It’s the only tool that lets you talk to customers while they are shopping on your website.

It’s immediate, helpful, human and more like a real world sales experience than any other online channel.

‘Carpe Chatem’ – seize the opportunity in each conversation to win a customer and close more sales.

 

Sunir 1Sunir Shah is a marketer, developer and startup guy who loves making the Internet a more glorious place. Currently he’s the Chief Marketing Olarker at Olark live chat where he spends his days winning markets through engineering and his nights losing Settlers of Catan.

 

4 Ways Creativity Can Help Generate Online Sales

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Ryan Ernst – Enjoy!  

As digital marketing and advertising has evolved throughout the years, function has slowly gobbled up form, one clicks, like, page view and web lead at a time. It’s 2014. And Don Draper ain’t walking through the doors of your boardroom with a storyboard anytime soon.

But creativity and imagination still play a huge role in digital marketing – a role that can drastically boost online sales in any industry. They’ve certainly helped our business grow.

When it comes to marketing your company, showing off your services and products in a clever manner is a key component to capturing the imagination of the consumer. Creativity will instantly distinguish you from the competition. Not only will your brand appear to be a trendsetter, it will be.

Below, we’ll highlight four creative ways that can help your business generate online sales. They should be key not just to your strategy, but to your overall digital marketing mindset.

graphics

photo credit: BigStock

Stunning Graphics: Having compelling graphics throughout your website and social channels is an absolute must. Invest in graphic design work, photography and above all else, attention to detail. All will provide you with returns. When a visitor comes to your website and sees amazing imagery, they will be captivated by your company. Implementing a creative strategy with graphics will help you soar past the competition and result in more people inquiring about your company. You’ll regret not implementing this creative strategy sooner.

Video

photo credit: BigStock

Video: A study by eyeviewdigital.com shows that using video on landing pages can increase conversion by 80%. Videos increase the length of time people stay on your page, giving your brand message longer to sink in. This rich form of media on your website will make your company seem larger while clarifying your overall brand message.

Copywriting

photo credit: BigStock

Copywriting: Have you ever taken the time to examine the verbiage on your website? Is it clear and concise while helping the visitor navigate through exactly what they are looking for? Keep in mind, you’re losing a reader with every sentence. Keep your image simple and keep the most important information at the top. We strongly recommend setting up a Google Experiment within Google Analytics platform where you can test two different pages to see which one performs better. This will help you gauge which messaging resonates the best with your web audience!

Personality: Let’s face it, so many website are dull and boring. When a brand actually conveys its true personality, the consumer will be more connected with it. In the bio section of your website, in addition to professional photos, add an interesting fact about each associate that actually has some personality! This is also a great conversation piece when meeting with your customers.

Keep in mind, sales is sales. Watch any great salesperson and you’ll see the way they capture the imagination of the person to whom they’re selling. Creativity always will have a place in that process. It might not have the direct correlation in an uptick in business as spending more money on advertising. But in the long run, creativity will make people connect with and share your brand. That means more clicks, more likes, more page view, more web leads. And more sales.

 

Ryan_ Ernst_bio_photoRyan Ernst is the Director of Communications at The Connor Group.

How to Get Past Cold Calling

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Andrea Hewitt – Enjoy! 

Cold calling is proven to lead to high levels of anxiety for at least 40 percent of sales people during their careers. That’s why every company should strive to get to the point where they can stop relying completely on cold calling and finally see hot leads coming down the pipeline.

Unless you become a giant corporation, which is not the case for most companies, you’ll still be tracking down new clients through cold calls. It’s the perfect way to touch base with many potential customers that wouldn’t find you otherwise.

But how do you transition to less cold calling and more customers coming to you? Start with these four steps and you’re sure to see more hot leads coming your way:

1. Provide a great product or service

The easiest way to draw people to your brand is to have an incredible product or service to offer them. Find a need in whatever market you want to break into, and make something great to fill the void. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Find something that needs to be updated and create a better version. If your product is good, people will talk about it and you’ll start to see positive feedback that could attract potential customers.

2. Network every chance you get

If you focus on a specific industry, get to trade shows and use the opportunity to spread the word about your products. If you’re trying to sell to a specific region, go to local festivals, gatherings, and any opportunity for you to mingle with community members and leaders. Hand out as many business cards as you can, then let the customers come to you. Utilize every opportunity to hit the pavement and you’ll be sure to build awareness of your brand.

3. Create an awesome web presence

One of the main ways you can drive leads to you is to have an incredible web presence. If it’s been a couple years since you built your site, create a more modern design. Think of your website like a book—people are judging it by the cover. You also need to make yourself search engine optimized (SEO). For example, if you own an ice cream shop in Duluth, Minnesota, when people search Google for “ice cream in Duluth,” you want to be the first result. Start increasing your SEO by conducting a site audit. This step will point out problem areas that you can work to fix so your site starts performing higher in the rankings.

4. Cultivate a good reputation

Build relationships with the movers and shakers in your industry. If there are publications that many of your potential customers read, contact them with well-written press releases about new products and updates. Or ask if you can write something for them to get your name out there, educate your audience and demonstrate your authority. If there are professional organizations or chambers of commerce that are trusted in your area, get in touch with head honchos and convince them your company deserves public attention. Getting those people on your side and talking about you will lead to more inquiries.

You’ll also create a stellar reputation by having solid customer service. If you consistently go above and beyond for your current customers, they’ll do word-of-mouth marketing for you by bragging to their friends and colleagues.

Once you’ve tackled these first four steps, you’ll be on your way to finding the balance you desire between cold calls and hot leads. This won’t happen overnight but if you take your time and take pride in your exceptional product or service, you’re destined to get where you want your business to go.

Andrea Hewitt Andrea Hewitt is a content writer at StorageAhead, a web marketing company. She spends most of her time writing blogs that help others grow their businesses. She loves tackling a variety of topics and if she’s unfamiliar with one, she’ll do hours and hours of research until she feels like she has enough authority to write about it.