Monday, March 28, 2011

Customer and Client Satisfaction Utopia

Every business owner wants completely satisfied customers or clients. Here are four realizations I’ve experienced we can all use to help us reach this Utopia.

Realization #1: I can’t be everything to everyone.

This was a tough one for me to learn. There was a time I truly believed I could be all things to all people. But as time has passed, I’ve realized the power of the niche. If we decide who we are and what we’re about, we can create a following in just about any space we choose.

Realization #2: I can be the best at one thing.

In the movie, “City Slickers,” Jack Palance’s character, Curly, tells Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, the secret to life is one thing. When Mitch asks what the one thing is, Curly tells him that’s what he has to figure out.

So is the challenge for each of us. When we each figure out what the one thing is for us, we can move forward with full confidence and achieve greater success than we have previously imagined. I looked for my “one thing” for a long time before understanding it was right in front of me. It has proven to be increasingly powerful as I’ve acted on it.

Realization #3: I must consistently make up-front agreements.

We’re all products of our experiences. Because of this, many situations in which a person feels mistreated isn’t because another party is trying to do the wrong thing, but rather because we all have different opinions as to what is acceptable or expected. A simple, but not necessarily easy, way to overcome this hurdle is to consistently make up-front agreements with those with whom we are doing business.

Assume nothing. Disclose everything. Re-check levels of understanding and agreement often.

This may seem like overkill, but when a misunderstanding does arise, the chances of being seen as a fair person who works hard to avoid such conflict just may be the difference between saving or losing a client.

Realization #4: If a shortcoming is mine, I’ll eat it.

No matter how hard we try to foresee every possible contingency, life is just too fast and unpredictable to always be right. That may be a hard fact to swallow, but it’s true nevertheless. Despite our best efforts to be focused, to be the best at what we do, and to make meaningful agreements with others, we’re going to misstep from time to time. When a shortcoming is ours, or even when we see that from another’s perspective it could be ours, we should be quick to take ownership and make things right.

This may mean some extra time on our part, it may require the addition of some value to a transaction to create compensation for the misunderstanding, and it may even take money out of our pockets at times. In the end, we lose little (and often gain a lot) by being stand-up and watching out for the best interests of our clients and others with whom we do business.

Should we become door mats for every abuser who comes our way? Absolutely not. But that’s a topic for another day…

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, March 21, 2011

Small Increases That Bring Big Profits

Too often, we find ourselves concentrating on bringing in new customers and clients as the sole method of increasing revenues and profits. Building our client base is important, no doubt. But here’s a way to substantially increase revenues by adding two commonly overlooked variables to the mix beyond bringing in new clients.

Get MORE clients to spend MORE money MORE often. Let’s say we get 10% more clients to spend, on average, 10% more per transaction, and help those transactions happen 10% more often. That scenario could look something like this:

If we have 1,000 clients spending, on average, $100 per transaction, and that happens 10 times a year, we have gross revenues of $1,000,000. Not a bad little business. Applying the formula above, we now have 1,100 clients spending, on average, $110, with 11 transactions per year for total revenues of $1,331,000. That’s a revenue increase of over 33 percent with just 10% more clients! And if we run those numbers through our funnel to determine profits, we’ll see that, in most cases, a much larger percentage of our newly found revenues go to the bottom line since our fixed expenses are already covered prior to this increase.

While your situation may differ from my example, the principle holds true for all businesses. We’ll never have exactly the same increase in all three of these areas. Growth in each of these segments is easier or more difficult from industry to industry. My point is that we altogether too often don’t look at increasing the average value of each transaction or helping those transactions occur more often as significant means of increasing revenues. Run your own numbers based on your current situation and plausible opportunities for your business and see the difference these two often-forgotten variables can make in your revenues.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Myth of Dead Media

I keep hearing it from Internet marketing ‘gurus,’ and I’m sure you do too: Traditional media are dead.

Yes, the Internet and its accompanying technologies are powerful. They’re fun. And they can be wildly effective. There’s no question the uses of new technologies and the audiences they attract are growing at ever-increasing speeds. Only someone living in a cave would argue against these facts.

But this doesn’t mean old, low-tech media are dead. Not by a long shot. In fact, these changes may just make for some unique and potent uses of these long-standing marketing vehicles.

Consider these nuggets from our history: When TV came around, radio was surely on its way out, right? Apparently not. The fax machine was going to put a serious hurt on the overnight delivery business. Hmmm…seems FedEx, UPS, and others are doing just fine. And what about email? There’s the end to hard copy snail mail. Oh, wait! My snail mail campaigns are still beating email for response rate and profits.

The bottom line is this: there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all answer to the best vehicles for us to use to carry our messages to our audiences. Use the Internet. Use other technologies. Test them just as you do any other medium for your messages. But make sure you’re not walking past willing prospects in the process by completely missing the places they read, socialize, look for answers, and make their purchases if they are not completely immersed in our techno-society. You may be surprised to find unclaimed territory where you can make a meaningful impact on your audience. Instead of simply following the hype, step back and do a little research of your own. As always, make sure you include your team in these efforts. Their insights can be invaluable.

Here’s to your on- and off-line marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope