Contact info: phone: 847-991-1294 email: howard@larsonassociates.ws
Dec

11

Getting Top Returns From Your

No comments · Posted by Howard Larson

Build your business through multi-channel target marketing.

Target marketing offers you the potential to gain further sales from existing customers or clients, and new sales from new customers. This guide offers you an overview of what’s involved and how direct marketing works.

So what is target marketing?

Target marketing is really quite simple. It is the building of targeted, close relationships with your customers and prospects. It works with and on different marketing platforms so you are put in front of your target when and where they are. It means marketing your product or service to the people that are most likely to buy what you are selling.
 
In putting a program together I find the best place to start is to build a list of all your customers, past customers and all those you might have send proposals out to. Then use this list as a launch pad to your program.
 
Target marketing can be one of the most cost-effective ways of expanding your sales. It has the great advantage of being trackable. This means (unlike some other forms of advertising) you can measure the results, know who is reading and seeing your message.

Will Target marketing work for your business?

Targeting your direct marketing
 
The people most likely to buy from you are:
Your existing customers and
People and or companies who are similar to your existing customers.

Pretty simple so far?

Because you're not using the 'shotgun' kind of approach, the far more focused tactic of target marketing means you get much better rate return on your marketing investment. The more accurately you can nitch your 'best and perfect' customer, the better your chance you will have in finding more just like them. Answering these questions to segment the market makes your message even more direct. It allows you to focus maximum effort on the right people.
 
So, how do you get started? Call Larson & Associates! Just kidding, not.
 
Target marketing is built around your list and database(s).
 
Existing customers
Your most cost-effective option is to keep on building your database of customers. Keep your messages going out to these wonderful people.  It is always easier and less expensive to sell more to existing customers than to go out and find new ones. If you are not already doing it start to capture all the details you need for list creation. You know those important things like names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses from enquiries coming into your business. Think of it as trying to date a person you really want to take out and what you need to know about them.
 
Once you've defined your perfect customer based on your existing customers, you can set about finding out where there are more people like them. Some sources include:
 
A joint venture with another business
List services are a valuable resource if you're selling to businesses.
List brokers rent lists.
Other sources of prospects include business directories,
Your Chamber of Commerce

Do your homework first!

As with any marketing exercise, you need to do your homework first. Set a budget for your direct marketing campaign and work through the following questions:
 
Have I identified my target market?
What am I going to offer them?
Do I have the stock/capacity on hand to meet possible demand and fulfill orders efficiently?
You should also complete a break-even analysis to work out what increase in sales is needed to recover the cost of your direct marketing campaign.  

Tips for using direct marketing

Because existing customers are the lifeblood of your business, it's vital that you keep hold of them. You know how difficult it is to lure a loyal customer away from a competitor - the same should apply to you and your customers. Your first efforts in target marketing should therefore be directed at keeping your regular customers happy and informed. For example:
 
Keep in touch at least once every 60 days. 15 or 30 days is even better. People like to feel special and individual. Show them that you know who they are. Tell them what is new and how they can benefit from your services or products. If you don’t tell them, who will?

Keep them informed about what is happening in your business. Offer them a special preview of your new product lines or promotions.

Send your customer’s updates of new products or services, details of discount offers only for regular customers, reminders of a list of your products. Ideas for them when you know they will be buying. For example, a florist might send a product list before Mother's Day or Valentine's Day.
Think up fresh marketing ideas that no one else uses
 
New customers
Send new customers a follow-up letter or card thanking them for their first purchase.

Offer them products or services that complement what they have just bought.

Future customers
These are the future growth of your company. If you can narrow your target market down to exactly what you want to have as your future customer you can just go out and find some more of them or go out and buy lists of more just like them. 

Summary

Every business, large or small, or even what I call 1 person armies can use direct target marketing.

It starts with your highly quality nitch directed databases and lists as the key to effective direct marketing.

It is less expensive and more efficient to collect names yourself, but you can also rent pr buy lists or work in alliance with other businesses that have good databases.

Then content development but that my friend is another story.


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Nov

08

What Makes A Great Multi-Chann

No comments · Posted by Howard Larson

What Makes A Great
Multi-Channel Marketing Program

It is very rare today that I get a straight telemarketing project. When you can increase your return on marketing investment by 38% why would you?
 
Today, the average adult uses four and a half connected devices to access the internet.  I know what you’re saying. Who uses a half a device? Don’t ask me, but the experts say we use a half a device.
 
 As businesses are communicating with customers, it’s important that we understand the fundamental aspect of the user’s experience then tailor make our marketing strategies to fit them. Finding new customers and keeping in touch with customers truly requires a multi-channel strategy.
 
When done right, multi-channel interactions pumps up and amplify your company and brand  just the way a conductor orchestrates the instruments of an orchestra to play together to build a richer fuller  musical experience than any one single instrument played alone.

Benefits of Multi-Channel Customer Marketing
Channel Preference
Different people have their favorite channels. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Brandergy, email, text messages mobile push notifications, and yes phone calls – determining which channels are preferred by which customer is a powerful way to improve the response rates and uplift of your campaigns.

 

Channel Medium
Different types of messages work better over different channels. Some examples are, Emails are obviously better suited for longer messages and in cases where the visual design plays an important role.  SMS text messages work best for short messages that have some urgency associated with them as well as Twitter. Facebook, LinkedIn, Brandgery  and Twitter are best suited to social communications or messages that are designed to “go viral,” etc.

Multi-Channel Variety
Our brains are made to differentiate between information that we need and retain versus information that we can discard immediately. Without this ability, we would be quickly overwhelmed with information and unable to function. The standard wisdom is that a consumer has to see a particular ad seven times before the message of the ad will even begin to sink in. In fact, the Direct Marketing Association will tell you the average person needs to see an ad SEVEN TIMES before he responds to it. It use to be we saw 1 out of every 3 marketing messages put before us. Now because our brains are able to ignore or discard most marketing messages, advertising must be repeated to get the audience’s attention. Repeating a message via different channels is much more effective than repeating it via a single channel. The common wisdom is that now only 1 out of every 7 messages are seen.  Yes that means on average it takes 49 marketing messages to get into the customers mind.

Multi-Channel Synergy And Why
The whole is almost always worth more than the sum of its parts. You should use multiple channels in ways that complement and support each other, multi-channel campaigns can generate better than expected results. For example, if there is no response to a push notification within a reasonable amount of time, we can use another channel to reinforce the message without annoying the customer. Then add in a phone call and it goes 38% better!

The Challenges of Multi-channel Marketing
Targeted Messaging
Thanks to the abundance of channels and choices facing customers, delivering the message isn’t enough. Messaging must be tailored to the audience's preferences and take into consideration demographic, behavioral and transactional history, preferred channel and current location. Engaging customers this way will ensure that they not only receive your message, but are also attentive, receptive and willing to act – regardless of the channel.

Highly choreographed campaigns
Customers are everywhere, and you should always aim to be where your customers are. In addition, customers today have much more control over the buying process than marketers do. As a result, marketers must constantly develop and coordinate highly orchestrated touch points and micro-campaigns that span multiple channels fluidly, in a way that the customer finds meaningful and trustworthy.

Marketing response attribution
It is increasingly difficult to know which channels, campaigns or sequence of touch points contributed to qualified conversions and sales. Knowing what triggered each response would enable marketers to assess whether or not their marketing efforts are getting the best results.

Leveraging Multi-Channel Marketing Strategies
One of the keys to successful multi-channel customer marketing is managing all channels in a coordinated way, within the same framework. It is critical to maintain a single-customer-view customer database. Additionally, it is ideal to have a single campaign management framework for scheduling, executing and evaluating all customer campaigns via all channels. This assures full coordination of which customers are receiving which messages via which channels.

The benefits of multi-channel marketing outweigh the challenges. With the right tools and know-how, it is a strategy bound to yield significant results.


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Sep

04

Customer Complaints?

No comments · Posted by Howard Larson

So How Do You Handle Customer Complaints?

In sales your best friend is complaints and how you handle them. In my line of work as a target marketing company where many times we get a list of past accounts from
  company as our call list we get 1st hand front line complaints. Most of these past clients just stopped buying. Gone and no one followed up to find out why.

I’ll use myself as an example I stopped using a firm for some email work. No one bothered to call and talk to me as to why until today after I viewed a podcast they put on which I watched because I wanted to find out about any new tricks of the trade. When the last 25 minutes turned into a sales push (a hard push) I got so turned off I expressed my view to the mystery person taking questions to forward to the person running the program. Then after the program (15 minutes or so) a woman called up to get my thoughts I told her why I would NOT buy which got the president of the company emailing me as to what happened which led to the VP of sales getting and email.. And all this 9 months after I was an unhappy customer. Can this client be saved? Stay tuned till next week.

Customer service and sales people. You are the front line of a good marketing rebound. You hear it all.

That is why companies use us for calling past accounts.

When a client complains it’s your/our opportunity to turn them back to a good account. So how do we handle it?

1. Stay calm: The customer is not attacking you but rather the situation. If you stay calm and Spock like you will be in a position of strength.

2. Listen: Let the ExClient speak their mind. Totally! My mentor Hank Trisler would use one word in a situation like this: Oh? or Ohhhhh… and the Past client would talk and say more and more of what happened till 9 times out of 10 the anger would dissipate and you could rationally come up with a plan to move forward. We are problem solvers not arguers.

3. Empathize: We have all been there haven’t we. So now step back and let the Past Client know you feel their pain. Let them know you have listened but talking back clarification of what they just told you using your words not theirs to make sure you got it right. You might say “I can see how that would be frustrating.” You are not agreeing you are respecting their feelings as to how they feel about the situation.

4. If possible offer a solution. It might be like my story above where the VP is going to call me. But something is happening to solve my complaint. Even if it is 9 months later. Many or my calls for clients are over a year later so the problem or lost account does not go away. It just festers.

5. Execute the solution: Solve this problem and win them back. Work out a plan of action as to what steps are going to happen. And DO IT. You do not have to give in but you need to get to the bottom of what really happened. Then I cannot say it enough you got to do what you say you are going to do, as fast as possible.

6. Follow-up: If appropriate make a quick follow-up phone call to make sure what you said was going to happen is happening. It might be out of your hands as to the outcome but it is in your control to follow up. Make the call.

7. And lastly be prepared for complaints.

a) Have a written procedure for how complaints should be handled
b) Expect people like me who expect that people need to think past company policy and think like real people.
c) Give people the tools to resolve as many complaints as possible.
d) Keep a log of all complaints and how they have been resolved
e) Keep a log of all complaints to see if there are recurring problems that need to be addressed company wide.

Larson Notes & Satire:
  When you successfully resolve customer complaints you start to understand what their true needs are. The better you understand your customers the more you can do for them and isn’t that what is all about?

If you want your business to be more, call us for an appointment.

Howard Larson
Larson & Associates
Target Marketing & Telesales Professionals for new account acquisition
Making good businesses great and great businesses even better
847-991-1294
howard@larsonassociates.ws
http://www.larsonassociates.ws
http://larsonassociates.blogspot.com
http://www.facebook.com/LarsonAndAssociatesFans
http://www.linkedin.com/in/larsonassociates

https://twitter.com/LarsonAssociate

P.S. We make telesales for small business affordable by offering programs down to only 10 hours a week. Maybe you could add telesales into your marketing mix call today and find out.


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Aug

23

3 Legged Stool Of Marketing

No comments · Posted by Howard Larson

Do You Have The Stability of a 3-Legged Stool Marketing Plan?

 

Have you ever sat on a 3 legged stool? The reality is it does not wiggle or shake. It can be said that every business is supported by a three-legged stool. Each leg of the stool represents one of the three marketing elements needed to run a successful campaign.

Since its inception and initial use in the early years of the twentieth century, the three-legged stool analogy has been used to describe the fundamental principles of business, leadership, investment, banking, politics, art and even baking. Its longevity and endurance speak to its strength and simple eloquence of design, representative of specific ideas and fundamental principles that shape successful organizations.

 

In the quintessential successful organization, the three ‘legs’ will be of equal height, size and strength. For if any one or two of the legs are shorter, thinner, or weaker than the others then the risk for the business is multiplied exponentially. This risk negates potential, slowing or stopping growth, causing instability, doubt and can lead to catastrophic failure, the whole project can begin collapse or never even get off the ground in the first place.

 

In order for the stool to remain sturdy, supportive and even all three legs must be balanced. Just as with this stool analogy to ensure a successful marketing campaign it is imperative to keep marketing ideas, efforts and goals balanced, on-track and on time.

For those who have worked with or spent time with us here at Larson & Associates, you are probably already very familiar with our well-established fondness for this analogy. The simple eloquence of design and purpose illustrate perfectly the need for supportive planning, strategy, and long-term implementation. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to hear our version of what we call “The three-legged stool of marketing” pull up your stool, maybe put on a pillow and get comfortable.

In this analogy, the seat represents your company your organizational idea, your dream. To be successful, you want it to be stable, accommodating, and enticing to clients and customers from every walk of life. In business this is accomplished and accentuated through marketing, a sturdy, strategically planned and dependable marketing strategy is going to include 3 main “legs” Direct Mail, Email Campaigning, and Telemarketing. At Larson & Associates, we build strategic, stable, successful marketing plans with this proven combination of direct mail, email campaigns, and telemarketing. At Larson & Associates, it is our firm collective belief that if you were to utilize nothing else except these 3 marketing tactics effectively that your business will grow and prosper. Not just grow but grow at the rate we want it to, 3 times the national gross national product.

Direct Mail is seen as a dinosaur by many but before you dismiss it do your research, it has proven to be beneficial. Don’t forget to apply the golden rule 40/20/40 the success of your direct mail marketing efforts are going to be dependent upon three factors –

40% of your success will come from how effective your mailing list is, another 40% will depend on how compelling your offer is, and the remaining 20% will come from everything else (design, the copy/text of the mailing, etc.).The takeaway here is do not spend exuberant time on flashy graphics, layouts. 

Keep in mind the mail box is next to empty. 

Some key things to keep in mind when planning this campaign:


Find your target audience
Test the Market
Make a powerful call to action
Don't’ forget to proofread
Don't forget to follow up
Be sure to direct them to your online site
Email is your channel of distribution, use it wisely. To share your latest blog, a sale or just share information this is the way to go. But use it wisely. Make what you are sending them useful, make an intriguing subject line, make your content engaging and always provide an awesome call to action.

Telemarketing is the glue to make this all come together.

It gives you the unique ability to go in ask questions on what you sent and come away with the information you are after and then it gives you immediate feedback.

 

All 3 methods have been the focus of many arguments debating their relevance in today’s technical age. When it seems their marketing attempts have returned less than desirable results or seems to have failed, business people tend to blame the media platform first. “I should never have used email, no one opens those, I ruined my whole campaign by focusing on email.”

Or it’s the fault of the greatly derided direct mail platform, where it seems everyone is quick to advise you afterwards that ‘It’s just a waste of time and resources, no one pays attention to print any longer.’ .

But in the end these media platforms are just tools — like hammers, harnesses and remote controls — they work properly only if you can hit the nail, buckle the straps or press the right buttons.

Being in the marketing business my brain is always running, looking at products and see how they could be promoted, sales or conversions. Did you realize humans have an attention span of 8 seconds??? WOW!

The brain processes visuals 60,0000 times faster than the time it takes the brain to decode text. Being able to add graphics, pictures, and visuals to sell yourself with is a must.

  Marketing that cuts through the clutter with attention-getting graphics and copy is important to success.

 

Keep it simple. Due to cognitive fluency, the brain craves ease and order. Direct mail and email that creates a simple decision path with limited copy and explanation always test better. Add that to a simple call to action telemarketing follow up and there you go.

 

The support is in the legs. Like a stool, your campaign will topple if any of the legs are weak or not there. And before you blame the multi-channel legs of your campaign’s shortcomings, ask first whether you got the right marketing channel, list, and message.

A business owner told me “telemarketing doesn’t work’  but then after I nitched him down and slashed his overly long script that only emphasizes benefits that address the target audience’s primary needs, he went and had a successful calling campaign.

 

Another very common complaint was voiced by a business owner. She claimed that email does not work. Together we examined & cleaned her email list, determined her primary audience, sent targeted emails and added on a phone call to people who opened up the email 3 or more times. She saw the power of email when it was used properly.

 

A similar story unfolded with a couple of business owners who had decided that direct mail doesn’t work. We sat down together looked over their mailing list cleaned it up and then look at the content they were sending. The content was tweaked to be more relevant, graphics and a call to action were added. They immediately saw a turn around in the number of clients brought in this way.

 

Of course, all media channels don’t work for all people and purposes. But what is the right one for you? If you’re B2B like I and my clients are, I go to my stool legs of direct mail, email, and telemarketing. Time and time again this is where the real marketing action is, Everything else, yes everything in that long list only supports rolls to these 3.

 

But more often than not, you’ll have better luck with your marketing campaigns if you examine your target market and message first. If you don’t get those right, it doesn’t matter what media channel you choose. You’re doomed to failure.

 

So come with us and sit down on your companies stool and let us keep those legs strong and working

 

Larson & Associates
847-991-1294
howard@larsonassociates.ws


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Aug

01

Maximizing Trade Show ROI

No comments · Posted by Howard Larson
 
Are you a Powerball player? With Powerball, the odds of winning are approximately 1 / 175,000,000. You can go out and buy 1000 unique tickets, your odds of winning are about 1000 / 175,000,000. Nice odds, huh?  Just buying a ticket is no guarantee of success. So how does this apply to us and trade shows and Trade Show ROI?
At Larson & Associates, we often hear Companies complain that after exhibiting at trade shows that the ROI was not worth the effort or investment. The first question I ask is, “How many appointments with prospects did you have set up before the show?” Usually, the answer is none.

Yep, ZERO, zilch, nada. They pay for a booth, their salespeople, inventory etc. and sit, waiting for the clients to roll in, just hoping that all these wonderful prospects with a need will drop by the booth during the show. Betting that the old “Build it and they will come” principle can work magic, whether or not they are familiar with your company beforehand, is just plain stupid. You are spending thousands of dollars to get lucky. Just like shooting for that Powerball, you might improve your odds a little but if you’re not committed and truly engaged with a working strategy beforehand then dumb luck is all you have. Not sure what the odds of success are with that, but I will bet that they’re not good.
When our skilled strategists at Larson & Associates ask these same  companies what sales goals have they set for themselves during the show, the response is a mixture of “What are we supposed to be measuring?” and “We were more focused on our booth design and collateral.” Again they spent thousands of dollars without a plan.
 
What follows is an outline of a pre-trade show strategy that we here at Larson & Associates have designed and developed after many trade shows and demonstrations. Strategies which have resulted in our completely booking all open time slots for sales appointments (averaging 38 appointments over a 3 day show). These appointments are invaluable in the acquisition of highly qualified leads for both team members where they are able to sit down and discuss strategy.
 
 
The key to any strategy is being prepared, knowing what to expect and how to react, planning for outcomes and positioning yourself in the best possible place to benefit and succeed. Here is what we do…
 
1. Make a wish list (12 weeks before show)
Go through the conference exhibitor list and highlight the companies that you would like to connect with at the show, regardless of whether you know someone there or not. Select companies that you think are a good fit to work with (yes power partners), that match your target audience, or that you simply want to understand better.
2. Research (10 weeks out)
For each wish list company, identify a contact from that company to reach out to for an appointment. First look within your CRM to see if you have any existing contracts with that company. If not, an option may be to peruse professional sites such as LinkedIn, although they are making it so you might need to have the premium account to do any real research as prospecting tool. Find companies that match your target by searching the company name and looking for employees with the correct job titles. You’re probably thinking, great, but how do I get their email and phone number?
 
First, see if you have any mutual connections with the lead that you can ask to make an introduction. If there are no mutual connections, you can always find general phone numbers listed on the company website.  For email, you can look in a few places – the company’s contact page, career page, or news page/press releases – to uncover if not the contact’s exact email address, then the common email format used by the company. (For example, if marketing director Joe Smith’s email is listed as joe.smith@abccompanyinc.com, then you can pretty safely assume that product manager Mary Thomas’s email will bemary.thomas@abccompanyinc.com.)
 
Research requires you to invest a bit of time (if you don’t have the time Larson & Associates have people dedicated to doing research just like this) for finding contact information. But it will pay off greatly. Fact is, 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers, while it is a tool to help, Social Media will never be a replacement for Salesmanship. It’s not (note to self, write a paper on what Social Media is good for) LinkedIn, specifically, is responsible for more than 80% of a business’ social media leads.
 
3. Email outreach (beginning 7 weeks out)
Here is where we start to hit on the entire show attendance list. Today 80% of leads take 20-40 “touches” to close if started from scratch, less if at a targeted industry trade show. There is no guarantee that you will reach your lead with every email, so repetition and careful timing are important.
 Here are a few tips for emailing leads pre-show:
Timing: The best times to email are weekdays from 9:30-11:00 a.m. That lets them clean out the night time senders.
 
Keep on track: and on target, for the upcoming show. Talk about your product or service, and why you should get together. This may require research beforehand about their strengths and areas of opportunity.
 
Follow the data: Prioritize your follow-up emails using data from the previous email. With most emailing systems like the one we use, you can view open rates, click-through rates, and site revisits. This has made our sales process much more data-driven, strategic and very cost effective.
 
Track your opens: Keep a record of how many times you reach out to a lead. Some leads may have more touches because of their responsiveness, so it’s important to manage multiple sales cycles as organized a manner as possible.
4. Cold calling (beginning 6 weeks out)
Cold calling can be intimidating for salespeople. In 2007, it took 3.7 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes 8. Now there’s much more opportunity to practice this skill!
Here are a few tips for cold calling leads pre-show:
Refer to your emails: Beginning your sales outreach with email is a great tactic because you can use the email as a talking point in your call. The lead will have at least some awareness of your company or product ahead of time, which can help move the discussion forward.
 
Say what you need to say: Be direct in telling the lead why you are calling. It’s important for them to know what you’d like to meet about. The last thing you want to do is waist any ones time.
 
Have a plan B: You can’t win every time, but you don’t have to just throw your hands up and go. If they are not interested in having an appointment at the show, let them know you will be walking around and might just stop by their booth to say hello. If they are not attending the show at all, ask if there’s someone else from their company attending to meet with.
5. Setting appointments (ongoing as you reach leads)
Depending on how long you will be at the show and how sales people are attending, you can determine how many appointments per day you can schedule
Here are a few tips for pre-show appointment setting:
Make scheduling easy: If you think a lead is interested in your company, whether they have responded to you or not, list three time slots to meet with them and suggest a location. This skips a few steps in the back-and-forth of scheduling.
Consider time zones: Make sure to note the correct time zone (the one the show is in) on your calendar invitation to avoid double booking by mistake.
6. Send out postcard mailer 2 weeks out)
You want to put something in their hands and have it with a coupon for a special show gift if they come in with the card. To get better booth traffic you need to give them an incentive. Send out a mailer.

 
There is no real magic in making a trade show successful. What it does take is hard work and planning, lots of planning, and commitment to strategy and the will to succeed. Without a doubt, the strategizing and the hard work can be very time-consuming. Time is not always an easy commodity to come by with business to run and obligations to meet you have to make the most and invest your resources wisely. Luck alone will always guarantee you a lousy ROI.


 
Indeed planning and strategizing can be accomplished ‘in-house’ but for the times or projects when this is just simply not an option, remember Larson & Associates, we are here to help!
Larson & Associates 847-991-1294 or just email me athoward@larsonassociates.ws
 

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