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Problems & Solutions – Effective Marketing for Your Business

Problems and Solutions

In our work, helping business owners market their businesses, we have found one common thread – business owners and managers tend to focus on symptoms instead of problems. When one focuses their attention on the symptom, the problem becomes obscure and it becomes difficult to find a solution and revert the situation. So that we are on the same page, lets look at the meanings of the words symptom and problem:

Symptom – “a sign or indication of something”.

Problem – “a situation, person or thing that needs attention and needs to be dealt with or solved.”

What is a symptom? See if this sounds familiar . . .

  • I have no cash.
  • I have no time.
  • My sales are off.
  • Business is slow.
  • Did I mention I have no cash?
  • My customers are not buying like they used to.

Each of the above statements are symptoms and a business owner or manager can spend their whole life focused on the symptom and never do anything to handle the real PROBLEM. The rest of this article deals with how to use the symptoms to uncover the real problems that are holding you back. Once found, these problems can be handled and solved. Use this information to soar your business to new levels.

To someone not connected with the business, the solution is more evident. No sales? What are you doing on promotion? No money for promotion? What are you doing to promote, even if you are just calling all of your customers – that is a form of promotion. Customers are not buying–when was the last time you talked to them to find out what they need or want? (Also a symptom of no promotion or incorrect promotion.)

The main reason business managers and owners get into this box of focusing on symptoms is, they are too close to the situation to see (or believe) the true issue. It is a case of not being able to see the forest for all the trees.

For example, it’s hard to see that you have too many workers when half of them are family and are not producing. It’s hard to see why your sales are slow because you are not promoting. It’s almost impossible to see why your advertising is not working when you spend 15 minutes a week thinking about marketing. Because you have never surveyed your customers to find out what they need and want from you, it is impossible to create marketing that is effective.

At Wilson Printing USA our job is to help pull you out of the forest when it comes to your marketing. We are pretty good at it.

Need Help Marketing Your Business? Click Here.

If you focus your attention on symptoms, you will put yourself in a box. You should look at a symptom as a string that is attached to a problem. Often simply stepping back from the symptom and looking at the situation will help you find the problem. A solution is easier to work out when you have the actual problem in view.

Once the problem is identified, you can ask what is the solution or how can I fix it. Below are a few of the symptoms common in business:

Symptom vs. Actual Problem

Money

Symptom

NO MONEY

Problem

  • Poor cash handling, typically working with no financial plan.
  • Overhead too high in relation to income.
  • Can be caused by low or no promotion.
  • Not enough sales volume to compensate for too low a selling price of product. (Research has shown that price is usually listed as number 3 or 4 as reasons of importance as to why some one buys a product or service.)

Symptom

NO OR LOW SALES

Problem

  • No promotion. You cut promotion when things got slow. Now they are still slow or are creeping along.
  • No promotional plan. Just winging it man! Let’s try it and see if it works! We call this the “Spray & Pray” method of marketing. Seldom works and wastes a lot of money.
  • Ineffective promotion. Promotion was not surveyed. Ads designed with no idea why customer wants product.
  • Sporadic promotion, no consistency, has been jumping from one thing to the next looking for magic solution. (See Spray and Pray above)
  • Poor service or product is running customers off faster than you can bring in new ones. Quality control section of company is missing or not functioning. Also caused by poorly trained employees.

Symptom

NO TIME

Problem

  • Ineffective or untrained employees causing overwork for manager. If this is happening, your day will consist of putting out fires and handling problems.
  • Not delegating, trying to do everything oneself. The old “if you want something done you have to do it yourself” syndrome. You end up doing everything yourself and you are working ’till midnight.
  • Key employee missing. You need to replace a person or add a position to handle workload as your business grows.
  • You need a system to help you manage time.

Just remember, when you feel like there is no solution to a situation, you are probably looking at the symptom not the problem (from the above list). When you identify the “problem” a solution usually comes into view.

Increasing sales can ultimately solve most problems a business has, which generally falls into the area of marketing and promotion. The solution is usually coming up with a targeted marketing and promotion plan.

There are five elements that need to be addressed with any marketing program and they are:

  1. Who the best prospects are for your product or service?
  2. Why would they want to buy it?
  3. Why would they want to buy it from you?
  4. How often are you going to ask them for their business?
  5. What is a new customer worth to your business?

To answer point one, you have to look at who is buying from you now, where do they live, how much money do they make. Point two is a question of determining the benefits of your product or service. Point three is a case of simply looking at who your competitors are and what they do and then develop a way to be different. Point four simply means you HAVE to promote regularly and often if you are going to make any headway at all.

If you buy a direct mail mailing list and mail to it once, your business is not even a fleeting thought in the mind of the prospect. Get in front of that same prospect 3,4 or 5 times and then they are calling you for help and you have a new customer. This rule applies to any form of advertising, direct mail, newspaper, radio, etc.

We can help you step out of the box and grow your business to a new level. We are here to help you and if we can do a little business together, then all the better.

©2005-2014 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved

How Sexy is Your Marketing?

What is “Sexy” Marketing?

The term sex appeal has been used in marketing since the mid 1960’s. Typically it means using a scantily dressed model to sell some product. Marketers found out that using these models attracted attention. Early on, it worked. Then over the years the art of using sex appeal has degraded to the point that most of the ads you see today are only selling sex and fall far short of getting a product sold.

The 3 things all advertising has to accomplish are: 1) attract attention, 2) impinge a message on the viewer and 3) get someone to buy something. (You can do that without using a half naked body.)

How can you use sex appeal to create more business? It is probably not how you think!

To understand exactly what your ad needs to do to have “sex appeal” and be effective, we need to start by defining some terms:

  • Attention – The concentration of the mental powers upon an object; a close or careful observing or listening. 2. Observant consideration; notice.
  • Impinge – to have an effect; make an impression.
  • Sex appeal – n. desirability, attractiveness, allure, glamour, sensuality, magnetism, sexiness, oomph.

How Sexy is Your MarketingYou will notice in the definition of “Sex Appeal” that only two of the descriptive definitions are about sex or bodies. Most of the descriptions have to do with appeal and creating an attraction to something. For marketing purposes any advertising that creates interest and desire for a product could be considered to have “Sex Appeal.”

How you use sex appeal depends on who the target audience is for the advertising. The target audience would also determine what type of medium you would use; postcard, direct mailer, full color self mailing brochure, billboard, TV or radio advertising. Even your business cards, stationery and pocket folders should be designed so they appeal and impinge on your target audience.

Look at your company’s marketing materials, do they attract and demand attention?

Lets talk about impingement. Have you ever seen a billboard with a compelling message that made you look twice? Or how about an intriguing direct mail piece that you just had to open? Do you remember what the ad said? If not, the ad did a good job of getting attention but fell short of impinging a message to you.

There are ways to build a message so that it attracts attention. The use of color, a bold headline and a photo are important elements. The use of eye trail is also very important. Eye trail is the design technique of catching the attention of the viewer with some element in the ad and then directing their eye (and attention) through the ad and ending up at the call-to-action section of ad. But impingement comes from how you put these things together.

Need Help Designing a Sexy Postcard? Click Here.

The overall ad has to communicate to your target audience. A large part of the reason a piece of advertising impinges is that it contains information on what your prospects and customers need and want. To get that information you need to survey your customers and prospects to find out what they need and what problem they are trying to solve by buying your product. With this information you have the basic building materials to create effective marketing and advertising.

After the advertising is created the next step is to do a flash test survey of the completed ad. Simply take the ad and show it to a customer for about 10 seconds and then ask them what they got from the ad. NOTE: It is best to show the ad to a customer not an employee. Showing your advertising to your employees or sales people is usually a bad idea because you will get invalid feedback on the ad. Your employees are definitely more educated about your product or service than your customers and they will have a different viewpoint about your product or service than your customers. Your customers and prospects, the people whom you are trying to influence and sell something to, are generally uneducated about your company and your products and services. Since you are trying to sell to the uneducated only their viewpoint matters. You want to find out if the ad gets the attention of your customers and if the message impinges on them.

You want to find out:

1. What did the ad communicate to them?

2. What did they remember from the ad?

We have put together a 10-point checklist to help you build an effective ad whether you decide to use our company or not. Our graphic artists can help you design effective postcards and direct mail pieces. We design and print other materials as well. At some point, if you don’t already have it, you need a total image package to tie together all of your marketing so that everything is going in one direction.

Do you want effective marketing that creates customers for you business? As you can see marketing your company is a full time job. Our company acts as a marketing arm for many of our clients saving them time and money.

I hope this information helped you. If we can do anything to help your company to be more successful please give us a call.

©2005-2014 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved

How to Market When You Are Crazy Busy!

You are so busy that you don’t know whether you are coming or going! Your common sense tells you that you don’t need to market now because you are so busy, but your gut instinct tells you it could all crash tomorrow.

The fact is that when you are crazy busy that is the best time to advertise for three reasons. One, you will keep your sales going on an upward trajectory. Two, you have the money to promote. Three, when you are busy, you can afford to be pickier about the type of customer you chose to do business with. The luxury of being crazy busy is that you can afford to cherry pick customers.

  Need Help with a Target Direct Mail Campaign?

How to Market When You Are Crazy BusyWe have all experienced the roller coaster in the business cycle—up one day, flat the next and diving steeply the next, then only to soar the following week. To achieve sustainable growth and drive your business in an upward trajectory you have to first get off the roller coaster.

One way to do that is to promote smartly using direct mail. Direct mail offers a way for you to target your best prospects for your business. Direct mail allows you to dial-in your marketing and reach exactly who you need and want to do business with.

I know promoting when you are crazy busy goes against what your common sense is telling you. I mean you can’t even handle the business you have now – why, for the love of god, would you want to promote for more business?

You can and should promote more when you are busy, but you have to do so smartly.

By defining your target and narrowing your focus you can target the most profitable customers for your business. Bust defining and targeting your advertising is only part of the solution. You should do this also with your operation. Please note that “narrow your focus” does not mean cut back. If you cut back now you will cause an eventual crash. “Narrowing your focus ” means to get smarter in how you do things. Getting smarter in who you promote to but also in how you produce and deliver your product.

1. Qualify Your Targets

When you are crazy busy, time and effort become more vital. You do not want to waste time chasing shadows, lost causes and prospects who really are not qualified for what you sell. The best way to achieve this is by qualifying prospects properly. To do this you need to take a look at who are the best prospects for what you sell more closely. Then you can get a direct mail list for your business that will reach your best prospects.

2. Streamline What You Do

Hone in on the most profitable products and services and promote these to the people who will buy them. Also look at how work flows through your business. Invest in your infrastructure so that you can deliver more products and services, but do so without taking on more debt. As we have all found in recent years debt is the anchor that will pull you and your business to the bottom of the bay. Plan smartly, save money and then invest. There are often things you can do to streamline your production that does not require spending a lot of money.

3. Eliminate the Bad Apples

When you get busy it is easy to overlook and make excuses for employees with bad attitudes. These people are the ones who always make excuses for not doing their job. They are the ones telling you why something cannot be done. These people find problems like there is a reward for them. They are not willing take ownership of their position and often are the cause of extra work for others. They may be the gossip hounds that cause upset. These are the people who are working to make things more difficult for you and are actually working against you and your goals for the company. They may have been with you for years. Unless you like working 70- and 80-hour weeks you need to get rid of them, now.

Eliminating the bad apples also goes for customers. True enough that when times are bad and business is slower you need all the business you can get from wherever you can find it! But when business is good bad apple customers can make life complicated and a general hell for you and your employees. The bad apple customers are the ones who are the hardest to please and are never happy. They want the cheapest price, the best quality and want it delivered yesterday. The bad apple customers waste time and cause backlogs in delivery because they are so hard to please. Time to fire them as customers! The headache and upset are usually not worth it. By firing them you will unbog production and free up time to work with better customers.

Bad apple employees and customers cause 80% of your stress and overwork. Your business is booming, now it’s time to promote, streamline and produce.

4. Make Your Plan and Work Your Plan

You are busy and business is brisk—it is more important that you set time aside each week to come up with a battle plan. Setting targets and working towards them makes it a lot easier to focus on what is vital to be done, what is necessary and what is not important. Doing so avoids wasting time on the wrong activities.

Too often, small businesses either do not have targets or do not work towards them effectively and this can result in a lot of wasted time. If you know you are close to achieving a target or you are miles away helps you make the right decisions on which meetings to take and what other activity you need to make time for.

5. Always Maintain Momentum

No matter how busy you get, we cannot afford to let activity levels drop to zero! That is why it is vital that you keep promoting. It is a lot easier to keep activity going than it is to restart it.

Too many businesses owners and managers only promote when they have very little or no business at all and then they find it difficult. No matter how busy you get, your marketing and promotion must keep chugging along.

Wilson Printing USA can help you keep the momentum going with a target direct mail program.

 

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12 Ideas to Grow Your Business Today!

Tips to Grow Your Business TodayBy all reports in most areas, the economy is starting to show the green shoots of recovery. Still no one can tell you if the recovery is going to stick or if something will happen to crash it.

As a business owner and manager, it is important to get your business into shape now so you can create and exploit new opportunities as they present themselves.

The following are the golden rules that will help your business grow now and well into the future:

1. Market to existing customers with targeted, personal and tangible materials that they will remember. The essence of marketing to existing customer is having a database. I am surprised at the number of businesses that don’t have and maintain a database containing information about their existing customers. A database can either be a sales contact software or an old-fashioned file folder. The information you want in your database is obviously contact information, like addresses and phones numbers, but also purchase history, product and service preferences, conversations you had with customers, any incoming requests or communications from customers, success stories from customers to personal information like birthday’s and anniversary’s.

Why is this important? Your customer database is the brain of your business and without it, marketing to existing customers in a meaningful way is almost impossible. Besides if you want to sell your business, as much of 75% of the value of your business is in your customers. The data you have about your customers the more value that is to the buyer.

2. Live communication is the key to your future income and growth. All marketing efforts should cause a live communication with a customer or prospect.

3. Call or go see your customers with regularity. The more you know your customers the better you will be able to present a solution. Also the more personal contact you have with customers the more opportunities will be presented.

4. Always promote for new business. As much as 65% to 70% of your marketing budget should be invested to get new customers. The reason is attrition. Every year you will lose 10% to 35% of your existing customers for whatever reason. I have seen business where everything is going great, they are very busy and making money and because they are so busy and doing well the owner does not promote. He says “ I can’t handle what we have now, why would I want to promote for more?” Then a month later, his biggest customer merges with another company and boom, like that he loses 50% of his sales volume.

Advertising and promotion is like insurance, it insures against unforeseen crashes. If you are busy, hire and train more people or look for ways to get more production out of what you have. It is very dangerous not to expand. We can help you find a targeted lead list of prospects that will help you grow your business.

5. 80-hour weeks are the basis of burn-outs and crashes. To follow-up with number 4 above, one way to get more production out of what you have is by better organizing your business. Are you, as an executive in your company, wearing hats and doing parts of jobs that should be worn by others in your organization? If so, get the people who are supposed to be doing the job, doing the job. It might also be time for you to hire an assistant to handle your traffic and channel demands to people in your company who are supposed be handling that demand or traffic. Get out of your head that just because you own the business or are a senior executive that you have to personally handle everything that crosses your desk.

6. Promotionally don’t just give things away for free, always get some sort of exchange from a giveaway, even it is simply contact information so you can drip market to them.

7. Website. One, make sure you have one and two, make sure it is up-to-date. Today, people consider that you are not a legitimate business if you do not have a website.

8. Invest in training your employees. The better they are trained, the more stable they are and the less traffic and demands you will have coming across your desk.

9. Handle customer complaints quickly and properly. Do not let an unhappy customer drift off, get in touch with them and make them happy. Funny thing about human nature, studies have shown that a happy customer will tell 3 to 5 people about your great service, but an unhappy customer can be word of mouth advertising on steroids. He will tell at least 20 people how bad you are.

A plus is that unhappy customers present an opportunity to find holes in your service.

10. Always ask for a referral and a testimonial. When a customer is happy, that is the best time to ask for referrals and testimonials. Testimonials should be used for marketing.

11. Prospects sometimes need to be asked more than once for the order, so use multiple stages or mail follow-up info packs.

12. Always resist making promises you can’t keep. The rule here is to under promise and over deliver.

©2005-2014 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved

10 Tips for Writing Sales Letters That Sell

Writing Sales Letters That Sell

Do you want an effective, low cost means of generating leads for your business? You have several tools available to you in your small business marketing tool chest. One of these tools is a sales letter.

Sales letters can be a very powerful tool for creating leads and sales for your business. Sales letters are a simple and direct way to generate interest in your services.

Writing a sales letter is a different animal than designing a postcard, but the two do share some common traits. A sales letter is more dependent on language and the written word to tell and sell a story, so copywriting skills become vital.

Some common questions you may have about sales letters are: How do I start a letter? What should I say in the letter? How long should the letter be? And, will sales letters be effective for my business?

I’ve been creating successful direct mail programs for small and medium size businesses, including sales letters, for many years. And I’ve learned that writing a letter is like building a house. You start with a good solid foundation.

The sales letter foundation is built around an understanding of the recipient and the product you are selling.

  • What problems are they having that your product or service solves?
  • Why would they (the reader) want to do business with you? Not your reasons, but the customer’s reasons.
  • What are the benefits of owning your product or using your service?

The following are 10 keys to writing an effective sales letter:

1. Use a Fitting Salutation

If your budget allows, go for personalization. Any letter I receive that starts with “Dear Mark Hale,” is far more likely to get read than one with a generic salutation, “Hello loyal customer,”

Adding a salutation will add cost because you have to mail merge the letter and then print address on envelope, unless you use a window envelope.

A form letter mailed to a business audience would read “Dear Family Doctor” or “Dear Marketing Manager.” If nothing else, “Dear Friend” is usually a safe bet. Keep in mind nothing says “junk mail” like an impersonal form letter that starts out “Hello friend.”

When it comes to personalization, do not step over a dollar to save a penny. What I mean is, the increase in response gained by personalization of your sales letter over saving a few pennies on the cost of mail merge and addressing and sending out a form letter cannot be underestimated.

2. Headline

In this case, a headline is the first line of the letter, usually presented as a question that presents a problem.

You have to create interest in the first 3 lines of your sales letter. There are infinite ways to begin, but you want to create something that is short, attention grabbing, and maybe even a little startling.

For example: “Did you know that if your child had crooked ugly teeth they are 70% more likely to experience difficulty in life? I found this from personal experience with our first child seeing we did not have the money for braces. Our son Joe’s teeth pointed in all directions of the compass at once, he was very self-conscious about his smile as a result. He always looked unapproachable and unhappy. Later we found this amazing orthodontic program that I wanted to share with you. With this affordable program we were able to afford to fix our son’s teeth. Now our son is very outgoing, successful and happy.”

Notice how punchy and intriguing the first line is, and how the copy plunges right into the meat of the sales pitch with a story chockfull of specifics.

3. Use Stories

When writing a sales letter, one very effective technique is to communicate by telling stories. Your story must present a problem and demonstrate a solution. Use a story to build a mystery that pulls the reader along. As in the example above, I did not tell them what the solution was but hinted at it. The solution would come a little later in the sales letter.

Of course, your letter opening doesn’t have to be this involved. Sometimes it’s best to get right to the point, as I did in this business-to-business lead generation letter:

Dear John Doe,
I have a FREE Demo CD you should see. May I send it to you? 
This five minute CD demonstrates how our software will free up time and how you can increase your sales 5X in three short months.

4. Introduce Your Offer on the First Page

I’ve seen wonderfully persuasive letters in which the offer appears at the end of the letter. The rule is to always present the offer, in some form, on the first page.

5. If Writing a Multipage Sales Letter, Break Your First Page Mid-Sentence

Curiosity and the urge for closure will encouraged your readers to flip the page and continue reading when a sentence does not end at the bottom of the first page and continues on the next page.

For multipage letters, printed on one side only, you might consider doing this on every page. Though doing so could become annoying in letters longer than four pages.

Anywhere the reader must physically turn a page, consider adding a typed or a handwritten nudge (lower-right of the page), such as, “More” or “Flip over, please.”

6. Remember the Purpose of Your Sales Letter

The purpose of your sales letter is to get interest and generate a reach for your service in the form of a phone call, website visit or personal visit to your business. The body of a sales letter should include benefits, facts, testimonials, and specifics of whatever kind required. Be careful not to dump every detail of your product or service in your letter. Too much information will kill the reach. You want your sales letter to make a personal connection with the reader and present your sales pitch.

If you have a great deal of supporting information you wish to include, then put it in a brochure. Letters and brochures should not duplicate one another. Ideally you would use a brochure to help close the prospect on the service. Some of our clients include the brochure with the letter, while others prefer to send the brochure out as a follow-up piece to prospect that inquired. My recommendation is to send the brochure as a follow-up to inquiries that you did not close. The reason is that people generally will not read a lot of material that is sent to them unsolicited, and too much information will kill the reach. You want to have a live communication with the prospect and most products or services do in fact require a live communication to close the business.

7. How Long Does a Sales Letter Need to Be?

A sales letter should be just as long as it needs to be. No more. No less.

Most true sales letters run 4-8 pages. Longer letters can work for information-intensive products. Shorter letters can work for lead generation and very simple offers.

An experienced writer will have a sense for what is needed to do the job. This is where knowing your prospect comes in play.

8. Don’t Forget the Call to Action

Many sales letters do not know when to quit—they go on and on. You should state your full offer, guarantee, and a clear call to action. Then stop writing. We have other marketing articles on creating a call to action so I won’t go into long detail on that.

9. Have the Right Person Sign the Letter

Often, the signature is that of a person of high authority, such as the president of the company. But it could also be a vice-president, editor, publisher, inventor, marketing director, or spokesperson.

This decision shouldn’t be “political.” Ask yourself, “Who would make this offer? Who would people expect to make this offer? Who would people be most inclined to listen to and believe?”

When possible, print the signature in blue to make it appear more personal. Also, pay attention to how the signature looks. It should look clean and readable.

10. Don’t Forget the Postscript

People like to know whom a letter is from, so they’ll often glance at the signature at the end of the letter before they read anything. Therefore, because of its proximity, the postscript is in a visual hot spot on your sales letter.

A postscript should be relatively short and should present an important message. This is a prime location to add a buy now offer. If the reader acts now, something else of benefit is offered. To really bring it home, write the postscript in a handwritten font and in blue ink.

We offer many different types of sales letters from Handwritten Note Cards, to Check Mailers with a Sales Letters to Holiday Cards. All can be a very effective means to generate leads for your business.

Want to See Free Sample of Sales Letters?

If we can help you please let us know.

©2005-2014 Mark Hale, All Rights Reserved

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