Joseph Ratliff Writer, Researcher, Thinker

Does the Telephone Help You Market Your Business?

Nope. Not what you are thinking…

I am not talking about making telephone calls, or telemarketing. What I am talking about is …

The Incoming Telephone Calls to Your Business!
Have you ever tracked the number of telephone calls that came into your business in a day/week/month? Then…have you measured how much customer information was gathered or sales made on those calls?

Let me paint a picture for you…first we will examine the typical scenario in most businesses currently…or business A as we’ll call it:

The owner in business A is typically frustrated with the results of her advertising, complaining about the tens of thousands of dollars in radio, mail, or tv ads running with no noticeable ROI.

Then the telephone rings…

“Dangit, I was right in the middle of something!” an employee rings out in frustration.

Grudgingly, the employee picks up the phone, helps the customer really quick, and hangs up the phone. I am so sick to my stomach right now, I cannot tell you what was actually said on the phone between the employee and the customer.

Just about every cardinal sin was broken on this phone call!

The sad thing is…most businesses carry on this way as a regular course of business. And…in the next marketing effort this business will spend thousands more to acquire more phone customers to subject to this torture. Sad.

Ok, on to the positive stuff…

Business B has a program and policies in place for how to handle the incoming telephone call. Even taking this one step further, every day there is an incentive pool of $1.00 per call where customer information is gathered or a sale is made. At the end of the day, the pool is split amongst all employees who took a phone call.

You can guess how these calls are handled.

Customer phone calls are just as important as your face to face customer…or for you internet marketers…just as important as your email list (why don’t we gather telephone numbers for marketing our online products?).

We seem to work so hard to gain contact with new and current customers…yet we discourage even one method for that customer to contact us?

Your challenge for the day…

Take about 15 minutes RIGHT NOW…and round up your employees. Find out how the phone skills can be improved, and put a policy in place to improve them!

Your sales and marketing budget will thank you.

Thank you for reading.

Joseph Ratliff

Do You Go The Extra Mile For Your Customers?

Then why do you need new ones?

Or…do you bang your head against the wall trying to get new customers?

The best marketing technique in the world is (drumroll please?)…

Marketing to the customers you already have!

Here are a few questions to ask your business and tips to make it better:

1) How many times do your customers do business with you in a week/month/year?

Customer frequency is even more important than getting new customers! That’s right. I said it…the very thing you may be focused on should not be your primary focus. Calm down…I didn’t say remove your focus.

Take an auto shop for instance…most shop owners who I have spoken with over the years are always asking me “Joe, how do I increase customer/car count?” when the better question is “Joe, how do I make each of my customers/cars count?”

My answer to that, and this applies to any business, is to put in place a program or series of programs with focus on retaining customers, or welcoming back old ones. For example, you may implement a type of VIP Membership program for customers who have done regular business with you. To gain membership, a customer could meet criteria that you have set (i.e. sales dollars, number of months a regular customer, etc…). In some businesses and markets, customers would be willing to pay for such a membership.

Make sure your program includes an element to give the customer something as a member of your VIP program. As humans, status means a lot. Having a frameable certificate or a membership card is important to the success of this program. Also, be sure to include benefits that “ordinary customers” do not get. Discounts, access to professionals in your company, a free newsletter, and other items to make membership a percieved value to your customer.

2) Do you have more to offer each customer?

Single product sales are tough. If all you have to offer a customer is a single product or service…an easy answer is develop a series of reports or cd study courses within your field of expertise. This will give you more opportunities to sell something to the same customers that you have already “warmed up” to your company. You will find a higher Return On Investment (ROI) on your marketing dollar with your current customer base than you will marketing for a “fresh” customer. Which leads me to the final question for this month’s tip…

3) How are you allocating your marketing budget?

For newer companies with less established customer bases…this one is tough…but as you continue to add customers to your database, you need to devote more and more of your marketing budget to re-marketing to your current customers.

Do you necessarily need to sell them product?

Nope. You can solicit referrals, getting the easiest business possible from your easiest source of new business possible. Be sure to include an incentive that motivates your customers to refer business.

This could be as simple as a thank you letter, or as complex as a report that adds value to the referring customer’s business or life. You can also survey them, and find out what they think of you and your business. I know that sometimes we don’t want the brutally honest information, but we need to hear it so we don’t lose customers.

Offer them a free report or other giveaway that has value for taking this survey. It will make marketing for new customers a whole lot easier.

Your budget should be evenly distributed between sourcing new customers, and retaining/re-marketing to your current customer base. If you don’t sell something to your current customers, your competitor will!

Joseph Ratliff

You Want to Market Your Business…But Do You Have The Time?

Well, do you? If not, how do you have time to run a profitable business? By profitable, I am not just talking about money. I also include time to do what you want in profitability. Time is money right?

I am going to give you golden nuggets of time management wisdom that I personally use in my direct response copywriting business. To qualify that these actually work…I utilize all of these methods personally, and I “work” no more than 4 hours a day! Use them in your business today!

1) The foundation is your desk.

How clean and organized is your desk? Do you adopt the principle of “use it, file it, or throw it away” with every single item that comes across your desk? You either use information (paper, email, whatever), file information (only if you have TIME STAMPED when you are going to use it), or throw it away completely! Some items are just not important enough to waste valuable time on.

2) Magazines, do you read them?

Really, do you? Or, like I used to, do you let them stack up in a pile…hoping to get to them someday. When you finally do, they are outdated…or you manage to read a small part of a magazine, then throw it back on the pile you created.

Here is the secret: Use the table of contents! Find those articles you like right away, and rip or cut them out of the magazine! Then, read now, or file the article in a folder for that magazine subject or title. It is much easier to read the articles you are interested in only…and it makes sense.

3) Do you find yourself listening to audio recordings?

If so, a real timesaver is to listen to the recording at double speed (2x). In 99% of the cases, you can still understand what is being said, and it doubles your efficiency in getting information. This cuts your listening time in half.

4) How organized is your office?

No really, I mean it. Is your office chair in easy reach of filing cabinets, supplies, and other necessary items without having to get up? Getting up and down for a few seconds each time adds up quickly…this technique alone can save you an hour a day! What can you do with an extra 60 minutes?

Perhaps take lunch?

5) How do you process “interruptions?”

Do you end up checking a blank email box 20 times a day, or check it three times at specific times of the day? Do you schedule phone calls, or do you pick up the phone and answer it every time Aunt Mable calls? How you handle your incoming activities (phone, email, people visiting etc…) can seriously take away from your valuable time! Remember one idea here…NOBODY AND NOTHING controls your time except YOU!

It is a conscious decision that you make to take a phone call or send another email…attend a meeting…or any other time suckers.

Please don’t take it out on other people when “you don’t have enough time.” It is YOU that made that decision in the first place.

That is all for this month’s lesson.

Joseph Ratliff
Marketing Consultant