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Do you need more customers ??

Float, fishing line and hook underwater
Float, fishing line and hook underwater

So many people all around the world have great ideas, products and services. And yet some businesses do well, and some fail.

What separates the businesses that starve from the businesses who feast?

For the answer, we turn to another way people have been setting their feast table for hundreds of years: fishing.

Landing a fish, just like landing a customer, requires strategy and know-how if you’re going to come home successful.

Here are my top 10 ways to land the catch of the day.

1. Know what you’re after

In fishing, you always use the best bait possible for the particular type of fish you’re after.

So many times clients come to me and say, “I don’t have a target market”. They’re always wrong.

At a minimum, you should understand:

  • The problems your customers have
  • Their buying habits
  • Their potential objections to your product
  • Where they go to find information
  • What influences them (their heroes and idols, TV shows they watch, websites they enjoy, magazines they read, etc.)
  • What their core demographics and psychographics are

Even if your product “appeals to everyone,” typically 20% of your audience will generate 80% of your revenue. Your job is to figure out who those 20% are, so you can find the kind of bait that appeals most to those customers.

Bait that works for trout won’t necessarily let you land a great white shark.

2. Know where to fish for your customers

Determining the right fishing location can be the difference between a successful fishing trip and going hungry.

Knowing the places where your customers hang out online gives you a much greater chance for marketing success. Figure out which sites your customers frequent and you’ll have a much better chance of reeling one in. Try seeking out:

  • Blogs they read
  • Forums they participate in
  • Social networking sites and other membership groups
  • Entertainment or other non-work related sites

You don’t want to use a top water lure if the fish you want are feeding on the bottom.

3. Be aware of your competition

All fishermen guard their secrets closely, but newcomers can still pick up plenty of tricks by watching what their competition does.

I’m not saying it’s smart to copy your competitor exactly. “Me-too” marketing doesn’t work.

But learn from them and get a feeling for the overall marketplace you’re in. Incorporate those insights into your own marketing and content strategy.

By analyzing your competitors you can also figure out how you can position your brand to stand out from the crowd.

4. Use good bait

When you’re hoping to catch a fish standing side by side with a row of other fishermen, you have to make sure your bait is the most appealing fish food dangling the water. Otherwise, that fish is liable to go for one of your neighbor’s hooks instead.

Consumers have lots of options and offers dangling in front of them in any marketplace. You’ve got to have some pretty juicy bait to stand out from that crowd.

So what makes good customer bait?

  • Magnetic headlines
  • Compelling images
  • Content that’s valuable in its own right
  • An attractive niche that makes your customer feel “this is for people like me”
  • Easy-to-swallow landing pages

5. Setting the hook

Just because a fish bites doesn’t mean you can reel it in. Many a marketer has a woeful tale about the big one that got away.

Once a customer is interested and bites by clicking through to your sales page, you have to set the hook by making an offer that’s so great it’s practically unfair.

6. Forget catch and release

Remember, it’s a lot easier and more profitable to re-sell an existing customer than acquire a new one.

So if you land a big fish, keep it! Don’t throw it back for someone else to catch.

Re-marketing, high-quality affiliate offers, and up-sells are great for keeping the customers that you currently have, instead of letting them drift back into the stream for some other savvy marketer to reel in.

7. Test the waters

Fishermen often track different variables, like what time of day they went fishing or what bait they used. They measure their results over time to figure out the smartest way to get certain fish.

Similarly, in marketing it’s always wise to test various aspects of your marketing campaign. Measure your results to see what works best, and track your results over time.

Try different images, headlines, or layouts to see which one maximizes time spent on your site, lowers bounce rate, and produces the best ROI.

8. Don’t get discouraged

Some days the fish just aren’t biting.

Sometimes you are not going to be as successful as you’d like, but it’s a process. Continue to educate yourself about business and marketing, keep analyzing your competitors, keep talking to your customers and refining your message.

Keep going and don’t get discouraged. Tomorrow’s the day you’ll get the big one.

9. Partner up to get a bigger catch

Fishing with a buddy helps you to both cover more water and come home with a bigger catch than usual.

If you’re hoping to land more customers than you’ve ever reeled in on your own, find a partner. By knowing your own skill set, you’ll be able to effectively select partners that complement your skills. This strategy can also help you get bigger customers than you could have handled on your own.

10. Enjoy the trip

It’s definitely a lot more fun to catch the big one than to see it get away, but no matter what happens, remember to enjoy yourself.

Entrepreneurship is a lot like fishing. Even when it’s not going as well as we’d like, it’s still a privilege to be able to spend our days doing it.

If you think small you stay small.

Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur means you’re the type of person who is willing to launch a venture and reap the rewards for success, as well as take responsibility for failure.

But being an entrepreneur also means you’re small—at least when starting out. Of course, what most small businesses really want is to be big businesses when they grow up. Yet many entrepreneurs suffer from what we call size syndrome.

Because they are small, they think and act small—and therein lies the problem. Because thinking small and playing small usually keep you, well… small. What small-business owners and entrepreneurs should be doing is thinking, acting and playing big, especially when it comes to the size of clients they call on.

Here are three steps to start overcoming size syndrome:

1. The first barrier to overcome is the belief that large prospects (be they individuals or organizations) have no interest in your products or services. The reality is, they don’t care so much about the size of your business; they care about solving their problems, wherever the solutions come from.

When thinking about calling on a big account, the real question is: Do you have something of value they might want, need or would benefit from? If you do, then you need to put your perception of smallness aside and get on with telling them your story.

2. The second barrier to overcome is realizing that “calling on a company” is a misnomer. You are never calling on a business; you are calling on a person. The ABC Company can’t call on IBM. It’s always one person calling another person. Because businesses don’t buy anything; people do!

And never let the size or reputation of an organization (or the title or position of the person you’re dealing with) intimidate you. Yes, Bill Smith might be vice president of purchasing for IBM, but, first and foremost, he’s a husband, father and human being—the coach of his 8-year-old daughter’s soccer team with a painful bunion on his big toe.

3. Finally, small-business owners need to understand that a no is a no—no matter how big the prospect. So, if you’re going to get a no, why not make it a big one?

Here’s a perfect example: In the NBA, you can attempt 2-pointers or 3-pointers. Analysis of a recent season showed that the success rate for the 10 best NBA players on 2-pointers was 46.9 percent and on 3-pointers it was 33.8 percent. In other words, it’s only 38 percent harder to make a 3-point shot, but the reward is 50 percent greater! But that’s the 10 best, you’re thinking. The numbers probably don’t hold up for the bottom 10. You’d be right—but only because the bottom 10 players in the NBA didn’t take any 3-point shots at all.

Bottom line: It takes no more energy to get a big no than to get a small one. As the saying goes, Easy yeses produce little successes. And if you’re a small business that wants to become a big business, big nos are the way to go.

Ask yourself: Are my expectations of what’s possible big enough? Or am I lowering them just because I see myself as small? Am I asking and settling for scraps? Or am I shooting for the stars?

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. ”

– Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918.He was the son of a local tribal leader of the Tembu tribe. As a youngster Nelson, took part in the activities and initiation ceremonies of his local tribe. However, unlike his father Nelson Mandela gained a full education, studying at the University College of Fort Hare and also the University of Witwatersrand. Nelson was a good student and qualified with a law degree in 1942. During his time at University Nelson Mandela became increasingly aware of the racial inequality and injustice faced by non white people. In 1994, he decided to join the ANC and actively take part in the struggle against apartheid.

As one of the few qualified lawyers, Nelson Mandela was in great demand; also his commitment to the cause saw him promoted through the ranks of the ANC. In 1956, Nelson Mandela, along with several other members of the ANC were arrested and charged with treason. After a lengthy and protracted court case the defendents were finally acquitted in 1961. However, with the ANC now banned, Nelson Mandela suggested an active armed resistance to the apartheid regime. This led to the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe, which would act as a guerrilla resistance movement. Receiving training in other African countries, the Umkhonto we Sizwe took part in active sabotage.

In 1963, Mandela was again arrested and put on trial for treason. This time the state succeeded in convicting of plotting to overthrow the government. However, the case received considerable international attention and the apartheid regime of South Africa became under the glare of the international community.

Mandela’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and from 1964 –1981 he was incarcerated at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town. In prison the conditions were sparse; however, Mandela was with many other political prisoners and there was a strong bond of friendship which helped to make more bearable prison conditions. Also, in prison Nelson Mandela was highly disciplined, he would try and study and take part in exercise every day. He later said these year of prison were a period of great learning, even if painful.

During his time in prison, Mandela became increasingly well known throughout the world. Mandela became the best known black leader and opposition to the apartheid regime. Largely unbeknown to Mandela, his continued imprisonment led to world wide pressure for his release. From the mid 1980s, the apartheid regime increasingly began to negotiate with the ANC and Mandela in particular. On many occasions, Mandela was offered a conditional freedom. However, he always refused wishing to put the political ideals of the ANC above his own freedom.

Eventually Nelson Mandela was released on February 11, 1990. The day was huge event for South Africa and the world. His release symbolic of the impending end of apartheid. Following his release there followed protracted negotiations, (often interspersed with tribal violence). However, eventually in April 1994, South Africa had its first full and fair elections. The ANC with 65% of the vote were elected and Nelson Mandela became the first President of the new South Africa.

” The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us.”

– Nelson Mandela

As President, he sought to heal the rifts of the past. Despite being mistreated he was magnanimous in his dealing with his oppressors. His forgiving and tolerant attitude gained the respect of the whole South African nation and considerably eased the transition to a full democracy.

“If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness. ”

– Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela retired from the Presidency in 1999, to be succeeded by Thabo Mbeki. Recently ill health has curtailed his public life. However, he does speak out on certain issues. He has been very critical of the Bush led invasion of Iraq. He has also campaigned to highlight the issue of HIV / AIDS in South Africa.

He is currently married to his third wife Graca Machel

Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 (jointly with F W De Klerk)

8 Rules for Good Customer Service.

customer-service
customer-service

Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. You can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in as many new customers as you want, but unless you can get some of those customers to come back, your business won’t be profitable for long.

Good customer service is all about bringing customers back. And about sending them away happy – happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business along to others, who may then try the product or service you offer for themselves and in their turn become repeat customers.

If you’re a good salesperson, you can sell anything to anyone once. But it will be your approach to customer service that determines whether or not you’ll ever be able to sell that person anything else. The essence of good customer service is forming a relationship with customers – a relationship that that individual customer feels that he would like to pursue.

How do you go about forming such a relationship? By remembering the one true secret of good customer service and acting accordingly; “You will be judged by what you do, not what you say.”

I know this verges on the kind of statement that’s often seen on a sampler, but providing good customer service IS a simple thing. If you truly want to have good customer service, all you have to do is ensure that your business consistently does these things:

1) Answer your phone.

Get call forwarding. Or an answering service. Hire staff if you need to. But make sure that someone is picking up the phone when someone calls your business. (Notice I say “someone”. People who call want to talk to a live person, not a “fake recorded robot”.)

Customer service
Customer service

2) Don’t make promises unless you WILL keep them.

Not plan to keep them. Will keep them. Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship, and good customer service is no exception. If you say, “Your new bedroom furniture will be delivered on Tuesday”, make sure it is delivered on Tuesday. Otherwise, don’t say it. The same rule applies to client appointments, deadlines, etc.. Think before you give any promise – because nothing annoys customers more than a broken one.

3) Listen to your customers.

Is there anything more exasperating than telling someone what you want or what your problem is and then discovering that that person hasn’t been paying attention and needs to have it explained again? From a customer’s point of view, I doubt it. Can the sales pitches and the product babble. Let your customer talk and show him that you are listening by making the appropriate responses, such as suggesting how to solve the problem.

4) Deal with complaints.

No one likes hearing complaints, and many of us have developed a reflex shrug, saying, “You can’t please all the people all the time”. Maybe not, but if you give the complaint your attention, you may be able to please this one person this one time – and position your business to reap the benefits of good customer service.

5) Be helpful – even if there’s no immediate profit in it.

The other day I popped into a local watch shop because I had lost the small piece that clips the pieces of my watch band together. When I explained the problem, the proprietor said that he thought he might have one lying around. He found it, attached it to my watch band – and charged me nothing! Where do you think I’ll go when I need a new watch band or even a new watch? And how many people do you think I’ve told this story to?

6) Train your staff (if you have any) to be ALWAYS helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable.

Do it yourself or hire someone to train them. Talk to them about good customer service and what it is (and isn’t) regularly. Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so he never has to say, “I don’t know, but so-and-so will be back at…”

7) Take the extra step.

For instance, if someone walks into your store and asks you to help them find something, don’t just say, “It’s in Aisle 3.” Lead the customer to the item. Better yet, wait and see if he has questions about it, or further needs. Whatever the extra step may be, if you want to provide good customer service, take it. They may not say so to you, but people notice when people make an extra effort and will tell other people.

8) Throw in something extra.

Whether it’s a coupon for a future discount, additional information on how to use the product, or a genuine smile, people love to get more than they thought they were getting. And don’t think that a gesture has to be large to be effective. The local art framer that we use attaches a package of picture hangers to every picture he frames. A small thing, but so appreciated.

If you apply these eight simple rules consistently, your business will become known for its good customer service. And the best part? The irony of good customer service is that over time it will bring in more new customers than promotions and price slashing ever did!