Unsolicited Thanks

•April 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s not very often that someone you haven’t heard from in over a year decides to shoot you an email just to say thanks for the work that you did for them.  Today we received a note from a client, a manufacturer in South Dakota:

“Just a note of thanks for your helping us with the lean sales program in 2007 and 2008.  Although we have not finished implementing every suggestion fully yet, we have made some big improvements, and our 2010 sales forecast was for an increase of 41.3% over 2009, and through the first quarter we are at 121% of that lofty goal (total increase 1.701 vs. last year).  Not too shabby.  And we expect this to continue and grow even more this year and after.  You helped us discover some important areas we could improve, and it has helped a lot.  So THANKS.  Have a good holiday.

Jack and the crew at __________.”

It was so nice to read and it reminded us of how many people we work with that we could thank more often.  It’s also great to hear stories about people who stick with it during difficult times, and emerge even stronger when things turn around.

So take a moment to think about those who have positively impacted your life and your business.  Take a moment to thank them.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Untapped Marketing Assets: The Case Study

•March 30, 2010 • 1 Comment

Do you have a great product or service?

Do you have current customers that are happy with what you’ve provided them?  Would it be helpful to have some ways to get that product or service in front of more customers without having to spend more money to do it?

If social media, and the viral nature of modern technology have shown us anything, it’s that enthusiastic customers are one of the most powerful tools, and one of the quickest methods of delivery to increase your exposure and ultimately your sales.

So how can you get more out of an existing relationship with a satisfied customer?

One example: a case study.

Tell a short story of someone who came to you with a need, and how you were able to help them.   Consumers are getting savvier every day and don’t just want to hear about features and benefits, they want to know the bottom line:

What have you done for others that you might also be able to do for me?

Writing an effective case study can be simple if you have a basic formula to follow:

1. Customer Name
2. Business Challenge
3. Solution
4. Result
5. Testimonial

For example, our system helps businesses identify and eliminate the waste in their sales and marketing processes by uncovering their existing marketing assets, and leveraging them for increased sales and profit. Our clients come to us in different situations, with different marketing assets in place, but have one thing in common:

They need more sales and don’t have money to spend.

I might put together a case study like this:

Customer: Merrill Scott and Associates – Financial Planning firm.

Business challenge: The company was investing $20,000 a month for a single advertisement in a national publication. They were also hiring outside, independent sales representatives. Sales were stagnant. The company wanted and needed a better return on their marketing investment.

Solution: We were able to execute all seven steps of the marketing system without increasing expenses. We created, and then integrated a good USP into the existing monthly advertising. A system that tracked and held sales people accountable for the leads that corporate was providing them was implemented.

Result: The USP increased responses to the ad which doubled from an average of 40 to an average of 80 leads a month. The system of tracking and accountability increased closing rates from 10 to 20%. Revenues increased from $3.5 million to over $7 million in one year, and with no increase in advertising expenditures, the increase was very profitable. Merrill Scott experienced an ROI of 29 times their investment in the system.

Testimonial: “I saw all seven steps of the system work together to increase our sales from 3.5 to over 7 million in one year. You need to implement all steps because you’re not sure which ones may or may not work the best. The key for us was the system of execution. The system allowed us to see which steps were working and which ones we could improve.” – Mark Castleman, Senior Financial Planner

It is very important to quantify as many of the results as you can with specifics.  For example, showing how your solution has improved your customer’s profitability will leave a powerful impression.

There are a couple of reasons why it is best to write the case study yourself, rather than ask your customer to write it.  First, writing your own case study allows you to control the message and emphasize any specifics you want prospects to hear.  Second, if it’s already written, your customer can quickly and easily review and then approve what you’ve written.  If they are left to write the case study themselves, it may not happen as quickly as you’d like, if at all.

A good case study will be less than 300 words and should fit easily onto one page.  You can share your case studies on your website, blog, in company press kits, in newsletters, email follow-up campaigns, and any other marketing or promotional material.

If your marketing and advertising budgets are limited, case studies can be a very inexpensive way to create curiosity, convey your message, and gain credibility.

Any company, in any industry, regardless of size and regardless of the available marketing budget, can leverage their relationships with satisfied customers by creating effective case studies.  Showcasing your successful relationships will attract new customers and develop your business.

What other techniques have you found to create effective case studies? How else have you leveraged case studies for growth?

For more of our case studies, click HERE.

How to Be a Changemaker

•March 25, 2010 • Leave a Comment

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how important and essential it is for leaders to not only be able to adapt to change, but to drive change and innovation as well.

It seems the leadership skills that worked in the past are quickly becoming irrelevant in today’s fast-paced, change-is-the-name-of-the-game world.

Here are six core skills that can help you become a changemaker (from Harvard Business Review):

  • Bring people together who aren’t connected.
  • Design new business models by combining players and resources in new ways.
  • Persevere with an idea until you see success.
  • Don’t rely on credentials, but on the power of your ideas.
  • Persuade others to see the possibility of your ideas and join you in the pursuit.
  • Empower others to also make change.

You can read the original article here:  http://bit.ly/d06o3H

What else have you done to effectively adapt and drive change?

3 Links to 3 Experts on Engaging Others and Generating Comments with your Blog

•March 3, 2010 • 1 Comment

It’s funny how things work.  I came across three separate articles today, from three different blogging experts, that all blogged about how to engage your audience, how to get more comments on your blog, and other general blogging tips.

Building our company’s blog has been something I’ve been working on lately and I found these suggestions to be VERY helpful.  So, I thought I would include links to all three here in one place.  I hope you find them as helpful as I did.

In no particular order we have:

ProBlogger:  “The Best Way to Generate Lots of Comments on Your Next Blog Post”

Jeff Bullas: “30 Tips on How to Make Your Company’s Blog Rock

Gini Dietrich: (Blogs about Jeff’s post, then adds her own) “Tips On How to Blog”

What other things have you done to engage your audience and increase traffic to your blog?

Is Contingecy Marketing Dead?

•February 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

How familiar is everyone with the term contingency marketing?

If you’re not, I’m sure the concept is more familiar than you think.  It’s a lot like being paid a commission.  For example, as a consultant, if I can make you $1 in profit that you wouldn’t have otherwise had, would you give me 25 cents?

Pretty simple.  The idea is to create an environment where the small business owner doesn’t have to take on any additional risk, and if the consultant can’t deliver on his promises, the small business owner doesn’t pay a cent.  If every advertising agency was held accountable for results, how many would still be in business?

The concept is simple, but do we realize how powerful it is?

So my question for everyone is:

Is Contingency Marketing Dead?

The backdrop and foundation is:  There are literally MILLIONS of small businesses that desperately need help, and there are MILLIONS of so-called ‘experts’ at helping small businesses grow, so why don’t we see more guarantees?

I’ve even personally followed up with a number of businesses online that claim to guaranty their results-only work, only to learn further along in their sales cycle that they do actually charge fees up front.

What are consultants and professional service organizations afraid of?  Are consultants worried about not being able to deliver on their promises?  Are consultants unable to track their results?  Are consultants afraid that their clients will drop off the face of the earth when it’s time to pay?

How do all the small business owners out there view contingency agreements?  Have they run their course?  If a consultant promises you results with no up-front fees, do you suspect it’s too good to be true?  Is there an impression that the quality of the services you receive will be proportionate to the fee you pay up front?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Is contingency marketing dead?  Why aren’t more small business consultants confident enough to work on a results-only basis?

Navigating the Social Media Landscape

•February 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

One of the most concise and useful outlines of Social Media that I’ve ever seen.  If you have a hard time reading it, follow the link to CMO.com and you can download it there.  Read it, download it, enjoy!

Let me know what you think!

If I made you $1 in profit, would you give me 20 cents?

•February 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

After some fascinating success (connecting with over a hundred individuals from 13 different countries around the world) with webinars last month, we are once again in a position to be able to do what we love doing more than anything else . . . helping small businesses grow.

In addition to our current clients, we will be selecting just one or two small businesses, and working with them on a RESULTS-ONLY or contingency basis.

So, the time is right.

If you’re looking to work with someone who can take your business to the next level, and is willing to put their money where their mouth is by guaranteeing results, let us know.

The arrangement is simple, if we don’t make you money, you don’t pay us a cent.

We have some new consultants who are looking to get their feet wet, and this type of training will be invaluable for them.  To help us train them, we are waiving any/all up-front fees.  They’ll only get paid if they produce verifiable results.  We’ll be working with them closely, so as a business you’ll get the results of a 20 year proven system, without any risk created by up-front fees, and at the price of someone right out of college.

Let us know if you are interested in a free initial consultation.  Not everyone will qualify.  Inquiries should be directed to Jeremy at 21st-CenturyMarketing dot com.