Author: Stephanie German

The Customer Service Secret

Customer service is a pretty hot topic and can make or break your business. Consumers have little patience for lousy customer service and easily get tired of waiting in long lines, trying to get a live person on the line, going through an interrogation to return something or trying to communicate through a language barrier.

If you provide them with a simple, efficient, pleasant experience they will revisit your business over and over. More importantly, they will tell everyone they know!

There are three secrets to good customer service, the first one we’re going to conquer is knowing exactly what YOU want.

You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for the future of your business, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business and that includes customer service.

There are three main goals you need to consider:

  1. It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website and other technology based programs to help them shop.
  2. Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff has to be knowledgeable, approachable, warm and patient. Your customers need to feel like they are getting a good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends to their shopping experience.
  3. Change your mind set and ask yourself “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This shouldn’t be a question of expenses, but making and keep happy customers.

With these thoughts in mind you also need to take a few things into consideration when deciding on the actual programs and standards you’ll put into place.

  • Share your customer service vision with the rest of your staff.
  • Connect your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
  • Monitor the level of customer service your staff is putting out.
  • Know when you can ignore what your customers want.
  • Continuously focus on your goals.

Now, that you know what you want you can starting thinking about how to meet those wants and create a positive customer service experience.

Let’s take this from theory to practice. Email me today at stephanie@stephaniegerman.com to set up your business audit. Your business will thank you in the end.

Make Sure to Add Some Compost

Business are live organisms but they often are not thought of that way. There are many components to a business and each of those has a strategy behind them. If you did not check out the last post, check it out here. The 7 areas to consider are:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

These 7 areas will fine turn your plan for the ultimate level of success. Today we are going to cover the last four.

Think of constructing your business model like planting a tree. At first, it’s so small and weak you wonder if it will even make it through the night. But, you keep watering, fertilizing and nurturing it. Your ideas will grow the trunk and each of these strategies will extend out as the branches of your now strong tree. Finding the perfect support staff, employees, vendors/suppliers and other relationships will make your tree flourish with leaves and flowers.

Management Strategy

The way you structure your management team is not only essential to your growth, but the happiness of your employees and, ultimately, your customers/clients. This strategy is results-oriented and doesn’t depend on the people, but the actual system that’s in place.

A management strategy is, in short, a set of standards that include goals, rules, a mission statement and other concrete things that tell your employees how to act, your management how to grow your business and your customers/clients what to expect.

These should all be in perfect alignment with your business goals.

People Strategy-Employee Appreciation

You need to put together a people strategy that shows your employees how you feel about their job performance and dedication to your business. They also need to understand “why” they are doing specific tasks. This helps them to personally connect to their job which in turn leads to better production and a happier workplace.

There are a number of strategies you can use to keep it interested at “the office”:

  • Performance Incentive Programs
  • Contests that reward high performance
  • Employee of the Month
  • Performance/Holiday Bonuses

These are just a few of the ideas you can use. One of the best ways to appreciate your employees is by calling a meeting and asking them how they would like to be rewarded. Think about it for awhile and put the best strategy into play. Keep it fresh and change up the strategy you use from time to time to keep your employees guessing. Once they get used to the prize, it’s time for a whole new approach.

You need to build a community within your company. There needs to be support, appreciation and respect. The more “at home” an employee feels, the better they will perform and the higher their level of loyalty.

Marketing Strategy

Marketing is, of course, essential to the success of any business, but it also must work cohesively with the other strategies you’re using. There are two major pillars of a successful marketing strategy-the demographic and psychographic profiles of your customers.

The psychographic tells you what your customers are the most likely to buy and the demographic tells you who they are, which can help you learn why they buy specific items. Without this information it simply doesn’t matter how good your business prototype is.

Systems Strategy

There are three types of systems in every business:

  • Hard Systems
  • Soft Systems
  • Information Systems

Hard systems refer to inanimate system or systems that have no “life”. Soft systems are those that could be living. Information systems which are, of course, everything else, including customer data, product information, financial…anything with data and numbers.

The most important of all three systems is the soft systems because it includes the sales systems your business uses. In your sales system the two keys to success are: structure and substance. Structure being what you sell and substance being how you sell it.

All three systems are essential to the success of your business and while they all have their own very specific roles, they all must work together to get the job done. This also goes for your entire business development program.

I want to take a moment to recap on the ideas we went over through the business develop lessons.

An entrepreneurial myth, or e-myth, is an assumption that anyone can succeed at business with:

  • Desire
  • Some capital
  • Projected a targeted profit

There are essentially three key roles that need to be filled to set your business up for success:

  • The Technician
  • The Manager
  • The Entrepreneur

The four different stages of a business life cycle are:

  • Infancy
  • Adolescence
  • Growing Pains
  • Maturity

There are three main areas of business development:

  • Innovation
  • Quantification
  • Orchestration

7 specific areas you need to consider in your business prototype process. Here are all seven again:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

If you are ready to take a look at your business to see how you can be more strategic, schedule a call with me.

Stephanie

Bricks Upon Bricks to Lay the Foundation

It takes the right bricks in place to build a solid foundation to continue on to a secure, sturdy, building. You wouldn’t build a building without plans, why wouldn’t you have a plan for your business?

I want to share with you the three keys to business development and how you can put the right bricks in place to build a solid foundation.

There are three main areas of business development:

  • Innovation
  • Quantification
  • Orchestration

If done well these three areas will help you build a solid foundation for you business. Let’s talk about each one of these for just a minute.

 

Innovation

Innovation should not be confused with creativity, which is the expression of ideas. Innovation is taking these ideas and putting them into action. This is where a large amount of your focus should be in the beginning and even throughout your business’ entire lifespan.

Quantification

This, of course, refers to the numbers. We are talking about the value of your innovation. The best way to gauge this is by your customer response. Look to positive responses for what you are doing right-and keep doing it. Look to your negative responses to find out what you’re doing wrong-and fix it. This will enable you to keep growing and progressing with the needs of your customers and business climate.

 

Orchestration

Once you’ve had a chance to find what areas are working, you can narrow down those areas and concentrate on making them the stand out ideas. You shift your focus here to get the most out of your business and to meet the needs of your customers.

 

In the next few blog posts, we are going to transition to the 7 specific areas you need to consider in your business development process:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

These 7 areas will fine turn your plan for the ultimate level of success.

If you are ready to take your business to the next level, email me for a free Profit Acceleration Consult so you can see what it would look like to work together.

The Life Cycle of a Business

Just like we go through a life cycle, your business also goes through a life cycle. Today I’m going to talk about the life cycle of a business and how to get the most out of each cycle while also extended the lifespan of your business.

The four different stages of a business life cycle are:

  • Infancy
  • Adolescence
  • Growing Pains
  • Maturity

We’ll talk a little about what each of these cycle’s means and how they can each help expand your business’ lifespan.

Infancy

This is generally consider the technician’s phase, which is the owner. At this point, the relationship between the business and the owner is that of a parent and new baby. There is an impenetrable bond that is necessary to determine the path your business will follow.

The key is to know your business must grow in order to flourish. You cannot stage in this stage forever.

Adolescence

In this stage you need to start bringing your support staff together to delegate to and allow growth to happen. The first line of defense is your technical person as they need to bring a certain level of technical experience. This cycle really belongs to the manager though. The plan stage needs to start and a relationship should be built with the entrepreneur to plan for the future.

Growing Pains

There’s a point in every business when business explodes and becomes chaotic. This is referred to as growing pains. It’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. You are often faced with a number of choices:

  • Avoid growth and stay small
  • Go broke
  • Push forward into the next cycle

Maturity

The last cycle is maturity, though this doesn’t mean the end of your business. Your passion for growth must continue in order for your business to succeed. You need to keep an entrepreneurial perspective in order to push your business forward.

You see how all three of these cycles are connected and depend on a strong foundation for each one of them for your business to be and continue to be successful. All three of your key roles must also work together to work through these cycles.

If you’re having trouble putting together your business life cycles and figuring out which of the key roles you fit into, email me at info@stephaniegerman.com so we can set up a time to chat.

Are You Aiding and Abetting E-Myths?

We are going to embark upon a journey through the world of e-myths and debunk them to help you avoid falling into the e-myth trap. First, let’s take a minute to talk about what an e-myth is. An entrepreneurial myth, or e-myth, is an assumption that anyone can succeed at business with:
  • Desire
  • Some capital
  • Projected a targeted profit
This sounds great, but it just not realistic. Think of starting a business as a marathon. Sure, everyone starts out of the gate at record pace, but after a few miles people start slowing and some drop out entirely. Building a successful business takes stamina and agility. The reality is that there are many different facets to a successful business and none of them can be ignored if you plan to find success. Let’s take a minute to talk about entrepreneurial seizure. This defines the roller coaster of emotions that comes with starting, nurturing and the potential failure of a business. The emotions that occur, in order, are:
  • Exhilaration
  • Exhaustion
  • Despair
  • Sense of self-loss
This is usually cause by the e-myths and assumptions we talked about. You can get your hopes so high on instant success that even the smallest lag and you are sent into an emotional tailspin. This is also brought on by the stark realization that you can’t do it all and will need help in the areas where you don’t have the knowledge. Now, faced with limited choices you may feel like you need to back out and hide, but don’t do this. Avoid feeling overwhelmed and defeated. Contact me today.

Put Them in a Trance

There are 5 essential keys to a successful and reusable marketing campaign launch. Once you have these basics down, you can use them over and over again.

The 5 essential keys are:

  • Define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
  • Put an effective sales offer to work
  • Avoid the marketing pitfalls
  • Use a world-class marketing perspective
  • Get results!

We’ll go through each one of these, so you can see exactly how to use them and how they all affect the overall outcome of your marketing campaign.

Define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Take the time to ask yourself some questions from the prospective of the customers/clients. What would it take to get your attention? What needs do you have that need to be met? What are the promises you want fulfilled?

Once you know the answers to these questions you can start putting together a plan to meet these needs. Then take a look at what USP your competitors are using to help you develop your own USP. Your USP is what you are “promising” your customers/clients. This is what’s going to set you apart from your competition.

Put an effective sales offer to work

To develop an effective sales plan, you need to:

  1. Put together a headline that gets immediate attention.
  2. Share benefits of your products/services speaking from the customers’ perspective.
  3. Identify the specific needs met by your products/services.
  4. Make it easy to do business with you by offer guarantees.
  5. Share your specific sales proposition.
  6. Walk your customers/clients through how they should respond and act.
  7. Motivate with a call to action.

What this all means is, you need to put together what makes your products/services special and compel customers to buy. If they don’t feel like they NEED your product, they won’t buy. You need to answer a question, solve a problem or feed an obsession.

You need to provide them with all the information they need to make an informed and confident decision. Buyer’s remorse is one of the worst things that can happen.

Avoid the marketing pitfalls

There are 5 major marketing pitfalls many businesses fall into and you should avoid:

  • Ignore market testing and push on with an inaccurate plan.
  • Offer an incomplete case, or reasons, throughout their marketing plan.
  • Fail to notice the needs of their prospective customers/clients.
  • Fail to diversify their marketing options.
  • Fail to get market opinions on their offers.

These are all areas to avoid. If you’ve been working through these lessons, avoiding these pitfalls should be easy and natural.

Use a world-class marketing perspective

World-Class marketing perspective is important, especially if you want to attract customers/clients from all over the world. You can do this a number of different techniques and activities:

  1. Keep a marketing journal and scribble down anything innovate you see.
  2. Keep encouraging your marketing department, or yourself, to try new things and dump the ones that aren’t working.
  3. Order from your own company under a different name and analyze the process of ordering, shipping, online store, customer service and the product itself. This will show you where the areas for improvement in the customer experience.
  4. Read every quality ad you can find and keep a file for future ideas to consider.
  5. When out in public, watch how consumers behave in different situations and how they consider their purchases.
  6. Step down a notch or two and work on the front lines with your sales and customer service staff.
  7. Continuously acknowledge your staff, vendors and customers. Everyone works and shops better when they feel appreciated.
  8. Always listen to feedback from employees and customers.
  9. Continuously test markets, ads, and marketing techniques. This is the only way to stay successful and know what’s working and, more importantly, what’s not.
  10. Offer more information in your marketing than anyone else. The more information you offer, the more products/services you’ll sell.
  11. A great marketing plan can only get better. Continue to fine tune and refine your marketing plan based on testing results and feedback.
  12. Be classy in your marketing. Make sure your marketing and advertising fits your company image, products/service and quality.
  13. Improve your best marketing areas and drop those that aren’t working.
  14. Focus on what you say, not how you say it. The best marketing ideas turn into the best marketing naturally.
  15. Develop all your ads, campaigns and sales materials with an attention to compelling and factual information.

By using these techniques you can put your name out there to the world and become one of the top brands in your industry.

Get results!

The last area we are going to talk about is the best-satisfied customers. If your customers aren’t satisfied, you’ve wasted all your marketing resources and all chance of positive word-of-mouth advertising. You can satisfy your customers by:

  • Providing quality products/services
  • Providing high quality customer service
  • Providing a low-pressure, highly informative sales experience
  • Taking all the risk away with a great guarantee

To generate more business there are a couple of simple techniques that work every time:

  • Build your database with a contest.
  • Do regular mailings with sales, discounts, or other incentives.
  • Find other creative ways to keep your current customers coming back for more.

As long as the reward is directly related to your product or service, you can’t lose. Why not get started today? It’s so simple, it’s so seldom done, and it’s so profitable. And that’s the bottom line.” Jay Abraham

It is so simple! So, why aren’t you starting today? We can help you put together a great marketing plan that will get you results. Message me to find out how you can see an impact in your business.

Do it like the Big Dawgs

Today we’ll take a look at how the kings of industry wine, dine and otherwise cajole prospects.

Most of successful professionals use a series of information based ads that build emotion and a call to action. These are much more effective than a standard company branding advertisements. The same principles that go into putting together a high impact (and, often, high priced) ad campaign can be adapted to fit your needs with similar results.

Here are some ways to put together and execute a professional, effective ad campaign:

  1. Put together a short report that’ll you’ll automatically send to prospects when they contact you. This should include a short description of your business and what you specialize in. Don’t forget to include case studies, samples or other proof of your success.
  2. Develop value-oriented yellow page ads.
  3. Consider newsletters as a way of educating and informing customers about your industry and services offered.
  4. Offer a free seminar, webinar or other lecture to build awareness of your business, but make sure you make the information pertinent to your target market and find speakers who are respected and known in the industry.
  5. Buy an existing business, introduce better marketing and grow this new business faster than a “from scratch” business.
  6. Always test different versions of your ads to find the most effective ones.
  7. Use direct mail marketing to grow your business.
  8. Put together a database of previous customers and send them new information.
  9. Offer incentives such as frequent purchasing benefits, loyalty programs, referral programs or others.
  10. Approach large firms who may need your services and negotiate a deal to be their exclusive expert in your field.
  11. Offer a 24-hour information line with a regularly updated recorded message. Make this available to all past and future customers/clients.
  12. Donate time or materials to local charities to show support in your area.
  13. Offer public clinics for the general public to come along and discuss what they need that’s free and approachable.
  14. Organize seminars your customers/clients can pay to attend by putting together a high-perception value package.
  15. Approach local newspaper by offering to write a weekly column  about your area of expertise. Don’t ask for money, just a byline and bio.
  16. Develop a weekend or other destination seminar for customers/clients, not only does this give you an action-packed weekend with the most important people, it gives them a tax-deductible business adventure.
  17. Take a good seminar and turn it into written form as a home study, member site program, audio or video program.
  18. Approach large companies and offer to give seminars to their employees, investors or management.
  19. Be proactive with your marketing plan.
  20. Barter for your marketing. Offer products or services in lieu of payment.
  21. Be willing to bring in new clients, even if at an initial loss because it will likely pay off later.
  22. Regulate your marketing budget to maximize the potential income from them to hit the next year and try to push back advertising costs for the next year to offset your expenses.
  23. Make offers to target markets or target market businesses to pay them for referrals or shared databases.
  24. Offer loaner products to replace equipment that’s be repaired or refurbished.
  25. Give away something free to everyone who brings in a print version of your advertisement. This is a great way to see which ads are giving you the most bang for your buck.
  26. Continually consider what new products/services you can offer to current customers/clients.
  27. Develop a mail order division of your company.
  28. Offer a proposition to your competitors to trade customers/clients you were both unsuccessful in selling to.
  29. Use different marketing tactics as an excuse to attract new customers/clients with new offers and goodies.
  30. Offer a “you-choose-the-price” program. This is especially good for product you just can’t seem to sell.

So, there are 30 great ways to market to other professional and businesses. Some other great ways to get your name out there for little or no cost are:

  • Get involved you in your community-volunteer, donate to local events, etc.
  • Join your local Chamber of Commerce and attend the networking and other activities throughout the year.
  • Join a local, state or regional professional associates for further networking opportunities.
  • Become a board member of a local organization.

Advertising should never be your only method of marketing, there are a myriad of ways to get your name out there in a way that feels personal to potential customers/clients.

“Effective advertising…must be used to get your name out to the public. If your name is not familiar to people, they will not come to you.” Jay Abraham

If you’re not sure where you start with your marketing plan or how to reach out to your local community, competitors, customers/clients and others who could influence your business in a highly positive way, email me at stephanie@stephaniegerman.com so we can create that plan.

How Well Do You Know Your Vendors?

It’s extremely important to build relationships with your vendors and those around you can bring in new customers/clients and increase awareness of your company branding.

The people you work directly with on your products and services are really the ones with the most to gain when you find success. By taking the time to get to know them, you’ll find a whole host of opportunities you didn’t realize were there.

Look for great ways to offer your vendors rewards for helping grow your business and everyone wins. One of ways you can do this is by offering performance based incentives that are much larger than their normal charges.

Here’s the step-by-step process to putting together a partnership with a vendor:

  1. Approach all the vendors you work with and offer an incentive based on performance.
  2. Put the generous incentive plan together from their perspective, even take suggestions.
  3. Develop a clear, concise and easy to track incentive plan, this will increase competition between vendors and therefore higher performance levels.
  4. Encourage subsequent sales instead of focusing only on the initial sale. By doing this you can give away more of the profit from the initial sale to your vendors and make higher profits off the back end products. Encourage:
  • Future sales
  • Upsell better and more profitable products/services
  • Cross-sell to additional products

5. Create an incentive plan that’s irresistible to your vendors by offering generous, exclusive compensation.

Think of all the vendors you work with and the creative ways you can put together an incentive plan that entices them to be part of your business. Use their talents, capabilities and connections and you’ll both be winners.

Putting together an incentive plan doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Use our GUIDED TOUR to come up with some great ideas and put your incentive plan together for maximum results.

How to Turn Prospects Into Customers

The entire point of you marketing is to create more customers, right? Your marketing may get your prospects interested, but it is important that you are able to move them from a lead to a conversion to a transaction. Transactions are how your business survives!

There are a few key ways to draw them in and seal the deal. You need to be:

  • Inviting
  • Informative
  • Enjoyable

The biggest fear of most new customers is the dreaded buyer’s remorse. You want to avoid if at all possible and this should be mitigated if you’ve provided a quality product/service that delivers on the marketing claims you’ve made.

However, this can still occur. There are a few ways to deal with this:

  • Offer to refund money-no questions asked
  • Offer an extended warranty or satisfaction guarantee
  • Offer a bonus they can keep even if they return the product

These offers alone will mitigate buyer’s remorse because the customer will trust you more, just for offering these things.

Here are 10 ways you can turn a prospect into a customer:

  1. Offer a special price as an opportunity for you to test the market.
  2. Offer a lower price with the reason of pushing inventory to pay a tax bill, for your kid’s’ braces, or another tangible reason. Customers love that this makes you feel so much more human.
  3. Offer a referral incentive.
  4. Offer a smaller, more inexpensive product first to build trust.
  5. Offer package deals.
  6. Offer extra incentives-longer warranties, free bonuses if ordered by a set date.
  7. Offer financing options, if applicable.
  8. Offer a bonus if they pay in full.
  9. Offer special packaging or delivery.
  10. Offer additional, educational information to help them make the decision.

The options really are as limitless as you make it. You can use these or other ideas to find what works the best for your business, products/service and target market.

Remember this…

“By making it inviting, easy, informative, non-threatening, educational, inspiring and fun to do business with you, you’ll loft your company above the competition.” Jay Abraham

Need help with figuring out the best strategy for converting prospects into customers? Our GUIDED TOUR gives you exclusive access to the mountain of resources and tools, along with information from some of the greatest marketing minds on Earth.

Make it Pop! 5 Components to Good Copy

Ever look at an advertisement and not understand what they want you to buy?

I have. And when I have, my next thought is “how much money are they wasting by not having a clear call to action?”

That is why it is so important to have these 5 components for good advertising copy. Make note of the order, it matters!

  • Command Attention
  • Showcase Benefits of Products/Services
  • Prove the Benefits
  • Persuade People to Embrace the Benefits
  • Call to Action

Advertising is sales in print. So, you need to think about the unique benefits your products/services offer and showcase that in a persuasive way. You need to emphasize results, not features.

  1. Command Attention: This is usually accomplished with the headline. You need an attention-getter that makes people want to know more about your products/services. The best headlines give a vivid portrayal of the benefits or show how a problem can be avoided with your products/services. The headline is the advertisement for the advertisement.
  2. Showcase Benefits: You have to showcase the benefits of your products and services and, more importantly, show how they will solve or prevent a problem. They need to know what’s in it for them. Include useful, factual and clear information to show precisely what the benefits are and how they are going to help the customer.
  3. Offer Proof: This is where you prove what the advertisement is offering. You need to establish you have a method to deliver. Consider information that establishes credibility and past performance.
  4. Persuade: You need to add compelling reasons for your potential customers to purchase your products/services. Use a hard sell approach and create scarcity. This will enact your potential customers to feel like they have to act now. Which leads into the last component.
  5. Call to Action: You need to compel your potential customers to DO something. They need to check out your site, sign up for your newsletter, purchase your products, contact you about services…something.  Offer a freebie-a booklet, sample, product, bonus, demo, consult, limited time price…the list goes on. There are lots of ways to get potential customers excited about ordering and help them feel like they are getting an amazing deal.

Good advertisements include all of these components and are not complete without any of them. You can sit down and think through any one of these components, then figure out how to best place them together for the most effectiveness. We can help you with this too. Try our GUIDED TOUR to learn how to put together great advertisements from some of the best in the business.