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Beating The 7 Unforgivable Bus

No comments · Posted by Howard Larson

So you have a nice little (or is it big) business humming along

Yet, no company (or individual salesperson) should ever be on cruise control. To that end I sat down and came up with 7 deadly business curses.

The 7 Unforgivable Business Pitfalls

Every day you learn something new when you’re a business, if you don’t you’re sleeping or not in the game. Sometimes you learn the hard way, sometimes the lessons are easy.  So to give you a little short view point here are seven tips to help you avoid falling into some of the more common business traps.

1. Manage the stress

Being in business can be very rewarding but you are on the hook for everything, especially if it’s you are a sole proprietor. While working on your business dreams, you work long hours and have the stress that your business isn’t making any money. Or that if you are not a roaring success you doing something wrong and your friends and family will look at you as a failure
We get it, it’s stressful. But handling the pressure becomes second nature when you know how, and there’s plenty you can do to help ease the burden:

  • Take time out when you need to - retain a balanced lifestyle will help you focus better when you need it.
  • Be sure to make time for family and friends – they all want to help you succeed.
  • Don’t let initial setbacks get you down – keep a long term view and don’t put unrealistic pressure on yourself.

There's also no need to do everything yourself. Remember to Delegate. Using outside advisers and services make you stronger and building business networks for helping you manage your business effectively.

2. Lock in revenue streams

Many small businesses suffer peaks and valleys in their revenue streams. One month you’re flat out on a project but broke, the next month the projects over and you have money but no work.
A small business owner has a lot to consider in regard to money and cash flow
The business might be expanding or taken on staff or moved to bigger premises quicker than planned. As a result you now have a bigger payroll and greater overhead. In severe cases this extra load can cause the business to fail if you out pace your cash flow.
Here are some solutions to help you keep afloat:

  • Keep your focus on continued cash flow, even if you have to delegate other responsibilities.
  • Continue marketing at all times – especially when you’re busy.
  • Be wary of expanding too quickly – have sustainable long-term revenue streams locked in first.
  • Think about contracting out instead of taking on permanent staff and overheads.
  • Create good systems to ensure your business runs efficiently.

3. Do market research

Many businesses fail simply because they haven't done their homework – and that means market research.
It may be fine to go with your gut instinct, but sooner or later you if you are really going to grow proper research is the only way.

4. Target your market

Once you know that you even have a market for your business, the next step is to target your marketing to that audience. Yes my personal favorite, find your NITCHE.
Customers can’t buy from you if they don’t know about your product or service. You can waste a lot of time, money and effort marketing to people who are not likely to buy from you no matter how good you and your product or service is.
A good TARGETED marketing plan will help you avoid that and get the best return for your marketing dollar.
Case study: marketing choices
A start-up cartridge recycling company decided to spend ,000 a year marketing through various media including (in order of spend): newspaper, leaflet drops, shop signage, vehicle signage and online.
The business then decided to take a 'How did you find us?' survey, which revealed:

  • 36% were existing customers
  • 22% were referral
  • 21% came in as a result of online ads (mainly Ad Words) (I caution you on using Ad Words but sometimes they do work)
  • 10% saw the shop front
  • 7% came from the leaflet drop
  • 4% responded to newspaper ads. In fact, almost the opposite to their priority of marketing spend.

They have now changed from newspaper advertising (sorry Daily Herald) to a customer loyalty and referral campaign, and a bigger focus on online ads and social media and moving to organic search and way from Ad Words.

5. Retain your customers

You work hard to attract customers, so doesn’t it makes sense to keep hold of them. Some businesses fail because they spend all their time attracting new customers, while ignoring those they already have.
To retain your valuable customers and to also gain referral business put a customer retention plan in place. Think about the lifetime value of your customers and how to get them to spend more.

6. Make your website work for you

Online marketing is an important tool for almost every business - and a key part of that is your business website. It doesn’t have to cost and arm and a leg or even your 1st born but, you just need to be smart about the way you use it.
From selling your products and services to enabling your business to be found by new customers, being online is a must. Here’s why:

  • Your website is ‘open’ 24/7 - so potential customers can browse, research, and if you have the facility, buy online from you whenever they want, not just during your ‘physical’ open hours.
  • Reach people worldwide - a website also means you can attract international customers, giving you worldwide opportunities.
  • Better customer experience – people like buying products or services online, the option of an online booking system, and even if you don’t sell your product or service online, customers like researching before they buy.
  • Reduce costs – this is especially true if you’re doing all your business online. For example, if you’re selling a skin-care range, you’re saving on shelving, displays, rent and rates.
  • Develop a customer database – you can use your website to build up a database of leads. Providing you have the right privacy statements and opt-in functionality, you can use the contact details you collect to send e-mails and to profile and analyze your customers – another valuable marketing tool.
  • How to build a website for your new business is a useful article to check out.

7. Build a successful culture

Think about how you motivate employees and stakeholders to get them to help you achieve your business goal.
Remember that your people - including you - are your biggest asset. Keep your people happy and they’ll ensure you stay competitive – and attract more great people to your business too. It’s a win-win.
Ensure your business has a vision that everyone can believe in, and offer their input. Give them responsibility, recognize and reward them when they do well.
You might also consider providing key staff with either a profit sharing, or some attempt to reward consistent effort. Even setting short-term goals and rewarding people with a half-day off can work wonders.

Maintaining or starting a business should be one of the most exciting and satisfying journeys you’ll go on.

If we here at Larson & Associates are able to help you with a Targeted Marketing and Teleprospecting plan using email, direct mail, content development all the a powerful phone follow up system give me a call at 847-991-1294 or email

Larson & Associates
Making good business great and great business even better

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9 Steps To The Age Of Innovati

No comments · Posted by Howard Larson


Is your organization people ready to make the necessary transition from the age of information to the age of innovation?

Can you create not only a learning organization but a living organization where adaptive communication, management, and leadership thrive?  

Here are nine simple, but powerful steps:

1. Be a promise manager and leader. Use every opportunity to model promise management and leadership. Build the DNA of all successful relationships, trust. Do what you say, come through with the promises you make.

2. Find the DNA of success. Get coached so that you can not only build but sustain the high emotional intelligence edge, life, leadership, communication and whole brain thinking strengths that are the new currency of success.

3. Fail Forward. The only way to build and sustain success in an environment of constant change, challenge, competition is to learn to fail forward. Develop a new perspective on change, challenges, competition and failures that is relentlessly solution focused.

4. Get out of the comfort zone on a daily basis. There is nothing comfortable about the era in which we are living and leading. Learn to embrace and use moments that take you out of your comfort zone as opportunities to stretch, grow, learn and succeed.

5. Cultivate humour, optimism, and resiliency, while retaining a realistic perspective. Take time each day for a good laugh. Brain science tells us that laughter not only connects you with others but it also helps strengthen the immune system, creativity, and enhanced ideation.

6. Nurture and build collective intelligence; develop vertical and horizontal communication. Success is not achieved alone. Your people are your most important asset.

7. Build your diversity quotient. A global marketplace, a war for talent, and a diverse workforce all demand a new perspective that will allow you to understand and successfully negotiate the cultural and ethnic differences that can deride communication, effectiveness, engagement, action-ability, and results.

8.  Don’t react-respond.   Build your adaptive management and leadership skills because the era of command and control leadership is passé. Adaptive management and leadership mean keeping an eagle eye on your goals and objectives, values and vision while also building an emotionally intelligent, adaptive leadership and management style that is responsive and not reactive.

9. Positively adapt and model changes in your management and leadership style. Send the message loud and clear that positive change is where it is at. Encourage learning, growth, collaboration, and action!

Authored by Irene Becker
Described by clients as a transformational catalyst, Irene Becker works with C-suite executives, vice-presidents, senior managers, and entrepreneurs optimizing leadership, performance, and communications in high stress, high change environments. Irene is also an exceptional mentor coach and trainer who will develop a custom coaching or training program for you and/or organization.

Irene is one of the Larson & Associates approved consultants who work in close collaboration with us 
Irene can be reached at 
Tel: 416-671-4726
Skype: beckerirene
Twitter: @justcoachit

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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. 


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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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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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

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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