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Making Your Case

Over the course of the last twenty years I have had the occasion to work with several very large non-profit agencies. One of the things that all non-profit agencies must get good at to survive is asking for money. The standard tool used in fundraising is something called a case statement.

A case statement, as the names implies, is a document created to make their case to the donor – to answer, why you should give us money.

When you think about it, there’s not that much difference between the profit and non-profit sectors. Almost every small business is proposing that the prospect trade money for something of value.

I have found the case statement to be a handy tool for cutting through the marketing hype and getting to reason why a prospect should trade their money for what your have to offer.

Dump the traditional sales a marketing speak and create a case statement to compel your target market to understand what they should give you their money. This one page document may be the most significant piece of marketing collateral you can produce.

Your case statement should address the following:

  • A statement of a challenge, frustration or problem that your target market experiences
  • An image of what life is like when the problem is solved
  • How they got here in the first place
  • A path for them to follow
  • A directed call to contact you

Make Every Document A Marketing Document

Every scrap of paper that leaves your business is performing a marketing function.

Today’s idea is not earthshattering, but it is one that many businesses, large and small, overlook.

You send invoices, fax covers, memo, notes, request and all other manner of “non-marketing” related correspondence to – you guessed it, your clients, referral sources and prospects.

It’s a pretty simple thing to A) make sure that these documents also conform to the image you project in your marketing materials and B) make them sell a little.

There no harm in introducing a new product in every communication, regardless of how mundane.

  • Put your company story on the back of work orders
  • List all of your products and services on fax covers
  • Insert a coupon for a special offering in your statements
  • Put two business cards in your thank you notes

Many small businesses make the mistake of assuming that an existing client knows all about everything your offer. No, they probably know about the one thing they buy from you. Continue to subtly educate at all times.

Heck, resell your internal clients (your staff)by reinforcing marketing messages in your internal documents.
You get the idea. Again, not a big breakthrough here but something you should be doing. It’s this type of attention to detail that, over time, adds to the collection marketing momentum your business needs.

Another Fan of Duct Tape Marketing

Scott Allen the entrepreneur writer at About.com, contributor to Fast Company and author of the Virtual Handshake named little old Duct Tape Marketing as one of the Top 10 Most Practical Blogs for Entrepreneurs

The entire list is well worth a visit and I am thankful to be a part of it.

Network with the Rich and Famous

One of the quickest ways to get exposure, promote a book, gain an introduction, find a mentor, generate traffic, launch a product is to gain the endorsement of someone who already has all of those things.

Here’s a little often forgotten tip. Famous authors or other celebrities in your industry started out as people. Okay, some are still people and that’s the point. Approach them as such and you may find that your project or organization can gain some very favorable support.

If you read a book that you loved, write the author and tell them so (Almost all authors have blogs these days too)
If you like a product, write someone in the organization and offer your testimonial
If you find a particularly well written article in a magazine, write the author and comment on the topic

You can build a very powerful hi profile network of mentors, contacts and champions if you approach it in the right fashion.

First off, give before you ask. You know, prove that aren’t just some stalker looking for an author’s private email address and you will get much farther. Buy their book, link to their blog, send them an article or resource that pertains to their work. Build a relationship or at least get on the radar screen, don’t just send off an email asking them to endorse your product. (You may not be the first person that day to do so.)

A couple more tips. Be bold, but be realistic and polite.

You may have to hear, “I’m sorry, Mr/Ms Big can’t talk to you right now, call back when your somebody important,” a time or two before you hit paydirt.

One of my favorite responses was from someone I won’ t name. I asked this author to do an interview on a radio show I hosted at the time. I promised that we could tape the interview whenever it was convenient. The response was simple and to the point. “I’m sorry, I don’t think I’ll ever be available.”

If you have a plan and you are personal and sincere, you just might catch Mr/Ms Big when they are in a good mood and remember when they were in your shoes.

Above all be creative. Propose something very specific and try like heck to propose something that will benefit your prospective big fish.

Okay, an example. I’m no big fish but a young guy contacts me the other day (young means he is only 3 years older than my oldest daughter.) and says he wants to buy a service I offer, implement it track his progress and then blog about it. Now, as you can imagine, he got my attention. I love the idea and I took him up on it by offering him some additional help and feedback. It just may be the start of partnership that could grow into other possibilities.

Some days, I can be as grumpy and arrogant as the next person but, the point is, in this case, he took a shot and I was receptive.

Make up your target list of people you would love to have in your network and devise a plan to make contact. What’s the worst that can happen?

Offer Proof With Checklists

It may not be that glamorous but one of the best ways to differentiate your business is to show your clients and prospects checklists.

See, lots of folks talk about quality, speed and accuracy but few really deliver it. If you could offer your prospects proof that you not only deliver the goods you have a 10 point system that guarantees it, well, I think your business would be the obvious choice.

Almost every business has checklists (even mental ones) that they go through to ensure the job gets done right, the order gets packaged right or the service is delivered on time. Few however, take the time to document those systems in the form of a checklist and fewer still think to use those checklists as marketing tools.

What if you produced a document that read: Our 10 point white glove inspection guarantees that your car will be spotless – and then proceeded to list all 10 steps.

How about your web site optimization process, your financial investment risk analysis, your safety process, your service punchlist. . . there is no end to the creative ways you can approach this. People love top 10 lists and checklists because they take something that is often complicated or boring and turn it into something that is simple and even entertaining.

SIDEBAR: Documenting the kinds of systems I’ve discussed above might actually be a good business idea anyway!

The Testimonial Writing Machine

Almost every small business marketer knows that they should gather testimonials to use in their marketing materials.

The problem though is that getting your clients, the ones who know your greatness, to sit down with a blank sheet of paper and crank out a glowing testimonial can be a bit of a chore. It isn’t that they don’t want to do it, it’s just that there are other priorities calling to them as well.

I accidentally stumbled on a way to get clients to systematically write testimonials. And, I found that this method actually produced far better, results oriented, copy than anything I had done in the past.

Here’s the system.

Occasionally, when you are presenting your wares to a prospect, include a page that simply lists four or five references for contact instead of your traditional glowing testimonial page. Urge your prospect to contact each for more information on how you or your product performs. (I’ve even gone as far as writing a list of suggested questions they might ask the reference – it helps them focus on benefits) In some cases your prospect may request this anyway.

What I have found is that when your current client is contacted for information (often by email these days) they will generally and immediately feel compelled to put in writing what amounts to a well-written testimonial. The key here is that, when approached by another business, they will write as they are speaking to a prospect. The copy will almost always be over the top selling you and in the perfect voice for you to re-use as a testimonial. (When a client writes a testimonial in the traditional way they often write is as though they are speaking to you. Many times this doesn’t have the same marketing pop to it.)

Now here is where the fun part comes in. What I have also found is that quite often your existing clients will copy you on the communication they sent to the prospect. Bingo, instant testimonial, written exactly as you need it for your marketing materials.

Actually, using this strategy can be even stronger than just printing written testimonials as it involves your current clients in the active process of marketing and has the tendency to resell them on their decision to do business with you as well.

The only caution is that you spread the love around to as many of your clients as you can so that no one group of clients becomes burdened in the process.

Get Your Prospects Involved and You Won’t Need To Sell Them

Here’s a technique that many businesses can and should use.

Want to close almost every deal you come across? Get your prospects involved before your ever make a call on them.

Here is what I want you to think about applying to your sales process.

You get an appointment with a hot prospect. Before your appointment, send them some homework. Send them an evaluation form, a “goal audit”, a checklist, an “asset reminder exercise.” Send them some sample of how you work and ask them to get involved and all of a sudden they will begin to see themselves getting the results you promise before you ever show up to talk about how smart you are.

It’s kind of like the car test drive. Get them in the car, take it out for spin, heck, take it home and show it to your spouse. Once they touch the goods, they will be hooked. So put the product in their hands.

Quite often, businesses that adopt this little twist find that the prospect has already sold themselves before you ever show up.

This technique will shorten the sales cycle and put you in control of the process of selling like nothing I know of.

Work on it.

Be Easy To Refer

People do like to make referrals.

The problem often though is like everything in life, the squeakly wheel is using up all of their grease. So, instead of just squeaking louder yourself, give them some more grease.

Create a whole series of referral tools and put them in the hands of those you know can best refer you to others.

Here are some of my favorite examples

  • Mail a personal letter and enclosed a “proposed letter of referral” that simply needs to be copied onto their letterhead.
  • Send four referral type postcards, already stamped and ready for them to send
  • Send them a supply of business cards
  • A supply of pens with your company logo
  • A list of names or target prospects

You get the idea – be easy to refer and you will be the provider of choice when the referral moment arises.

A CPA reader of mine, MaryAnn Soukup, developed a little mini brochure with a tear off business card for this purpose – What a great little inexpensive marketing piece!

This is the type of tactic you will find through Referral Flood