Choose Your Customers, Choose Your Future

Posted by John Park on Nov 12th, 2009
2009
Nov 12

This is a great post by Seth Godin.  His advice may be one of the hardest approaches to actually act upon but he is right.  After you read his post, you’ll agree.  The problem is… can we ALL do this in this economy?

Marketers rarely think about choosing customers… like a sailor on shore leave, we’re not so picky. Huge mistake.

Your customers define what you make, how you make it, where you sell it, what you charge, who you hire and even how you fund your business. If your customer base changes over time but you fail to make changes in the rest of your organization, stress and failure will follow.

Sell to angry cheapskates and your business will reflect that. On the other hand, when you find great customers, they will eagerly co-create with you. They will engage and invent and spread the word.

It takes vision and guts to turn someone down and focus on a different segment, on people who might be more difficult to sell at first, but will lead you where you want to go over time.


Until Next Time…



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A Marketing Lesson From The Vegas Water Guy

Posted by John Park on Sep 18th, 2009
2009
Sep 18

waterguy

 
I see dead people… I mean marketing opportunities everywhere and what I noticed on a Vegas walkway in the middle of August was no exception.
 
It was an “Africa Hot” day and making money from everyone’s discomfort were entrepreneurially minded individuals selling chilled bottled waters to passersby tourists.  They were poorly dressed, disheveled looking and not exactly professional in their approach or presentation.  Nevertheless, they were selling these waters just by waving them around standing in front of their coolers, which were filled with all generic brands.
 
During the 3 minutes it took for us to walk completely by, I observed two guys—one at each corner.
 
The guy on the left was just standing there holding a bottled water in each hand.  He had a handwritten cardboard sign propped up against his cooler with a “$1″ written on it.  He looked bitter and he clearly didn’t want to be there.
 
The guy on the right had the same setup except he was engaged in the “selling.”  Every few seconds, he would yell out “cold water here, $1″.  He would just repeat that statement over and over again.  Not surprisingly, I witnessed him sell about 3 times more water than the guy on the left.


Don’t worry.  I didn’t stop to give the guy on the left marketing advice (I was with the family).

 
However, I did start thinking about how we could probably all define our level of business success by how ENGAGED we are in the selling of our products and services.
 
So, which guy or gal are you?


Are you the guy on the left waiting for the business to miraculously come to you, otherwise known as playing the numbers game or are you the guy on the right dictating your own outcome by being engaged in the success of your business?


In this economy, you know which guy you have to be.  Dictate your own outcome or success.  Don’t be a recession victim.  If the water guy has it figured out, it should be easy for you. (no offense to water guys everywhere)
 
 
Until Next Time…
 
 



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What goes in the box? Why it matters in e-commerce.

Posted by John Park on May 23rd, 2009
2009
May 23

ecommerce shipping box

 
I’ve been working with a number of e-commerce clients lately and this question seems to come up often.  If you’re selling tangible products online, it’s not enough these days just to ship an order in a timely manner.  An online store owner should view the box as another opportunity to market their products.  Just by including the right items in the fulfillment box, you can exponentially increase the chances for a return visit and a follow-up sale.
 
Here are some proven marketing ideas.
 
 
1)  Return Visit Coupon:  Include a coupon code for their next visit.  You can offer a certain percentage off, a dollar amount or something like free shipping.  Be sure to note an expiration date so that you can get the return visit and sale within a few weeks.  And because you’re running an e-commerce store, you’ll be able to easily track usage of these coupon codes.
 
2)  Product Specific Promotion:  Include a brochure or a flyer promoting a specific product.  The promotion should be presented as an exclusive offer with a corresponding coupon code.  This type of promotion should also have an expiration date to generate a quick return visit.  Again, you should be able to track the usage of the coupons easily.
 
3)  Return & Interact for Reward:  Whether it’s for an online survey or to enter a contest, invite them back to a specific URL destination to interact and participate.  When they do this, you will reward them with some random offer or gift.  This method keeps it fun and it allows the visitor to play a game of chance at your web site.  If this method is used properly, you can also collect some valuable marketing research information from their return visit.
 
4)  VIP Access:  Give them exclusive access to a VIP area of your web site.  This would be a web page that could not be found unless you knew the specific URL.  In this area, you can offer special deals or clearance items.  Make the deals outrageous and they will return time after time to check out what deals have been posted to the area.  Don’t be so concerned about only selling these clearance items.  During most return visits, they will also check out the rest of your web site.  Navigation paths should be strategically located throughout this VIP area to encourage navigation to the rest of your web site.
 
5)  Promotional Item:  This is the easy one.  Add some low cost giveaway item.  The hard part will be to include an item that has some relevance to your core products.  There are three questions to ask when determining what to give away.  First, is your product branded with your logo and web address?  Second, how often will it be shown or displayed before your key target demographic?  And finally, how short will the distance be between this giveaway item and your next sale?  For example, let’s say your giveaway item is a mousepad.  The distance between your giveaway item and the next sale which will occur on their computer screen is pretty short isn’t it?
 
6)  Piggy Back:  This is the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” marketing.  Identify e-commerce partners who sell products that have synergy with your products.  Once you’ve identified these partners, you will include an offer from them in your fulfillment boxes.  And in return, they will do the same for you in their fulfillment boxes.  This is a real win-win situation and it allows all participating stores to be introduced to new potential customers.  From a customer point-of-view, it will be accepted as a benefit because you are introducing multiple offers to them from companies that have close synergy to your products, which they have just purchased.
 
7)  Free Samples:  Depending on what you sell, you might want to consider including free samples along with every order.  The free sample must be accompanied by a specific promotion coupon code for the customer to go to your site and buy more.  Give them a try and then show them how to buy more at a discount.  Just think about Costco’s free food samples.  You’ll be using the same method except it’s in an e-commerce environment.
 
 
Some of you may hesitate to implement any of the above because of your profit and margin concerns.  When analyzing this concern, keep in mind the following.  Whatever the cost may be, I guarantee it will be much cheaper than acquiring a new customer.  This strategy is about maximizing the return from customers you already have.
 
Learn to think in…RESIDUALS.
 
 
Until Next Time…
 



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Business Discounting — The Rules of Engagement

Posted by John Park on Feb 15th, 2009
2009
Feb 15

 
If you’re running a business, it’s pretty tough these days to avoid offering your products and services at a discount.  Everywhere you turn, there are sales, promotions and giveaways to entice the all elusive buyer.  Offering incentives is a good thing but like all marketing endeavors, there are some basic rules of engagement you should abide by to garner maximum results.
 
Here is a quick refresher for you.
 
 
1)  If you sell a product that costs less than $75, use percentages instead of actual dollar figures.  10% off of $25 sounds a lot better than $2.50 off.  There are exceptions like low cost food items but this is generally the rule to follow.
 
2)  ALWAYS add a time limit.  This creates a sense of urgency to act now.
 
3)  Offering a product for free when it already has an established value is very powerful.  I am referring to the timeless tactic of “2 for 1″.  Let’s face it.  We just love these offers.
 
4)  If the product or service does not have a clear established value, you must clearly define one.  What sounds better?
 
- Buy a coat and get a cashmere scarf for free!
- Buy a coat and get a cashmere scarf valued at $75 for free!
 
5)  Consider marketing loss leaders.  This is a strategy in which a business offers a product or service at a price that is not profitable for the sake of offering another product or service at a greater profit or to attract new business relationships.  Have you ever walked through Ikea?  Do you remember the large baskets at every corner promoting $5 clocks and desk lamps?
 
6)  If you offer a service, let them try it for free.  Use this only when you have complete faith and confidence in the value of your service.  Use a white hat (ethical) approach.  Don’t charge their credit card just because they forgot to cancel the free trial.  Allow them to upgrade to a pay service.  Establish a value for what you’re letting them try for free.
 
7)  If you sell a product that can be sold on an on-going basis, give them an initial purchase price that is significantly lower than your regular price.  Again, you must have complete faith and confidence in the value of your product.  For example, a manufacturer of rubber gaskets might offer a new prospect a significantly low price for the initial shipment.  And, if the new customer loves the product, you now have an on-going repeat customer.  Again, establish a value for the initial purchase.
 
8)  Don’t be a Business Discount Wimp?  This is what I call the “What would you do?” rule.  Remember, you are trying to inspire buyers to act.  You won’t do this by offering little to no savings and by preloading your offers with cumbersome conditions.  Just ask yourself, “Would I be inspired to act on this offer?”  Be honest.  You know the answer.
 
9)  Don’t forget the SECOND reason why you are offering an incentive.  The first reason is obvious.  It’s to generate immediate revenues.  The second rule might not be so obvious.  By offering a product or service at a discount, you are initiating a new business relationship.  And if you take care of this new relationship properly, it should garner you many more sales down the road for years to come.  Be careful about being too short-sighted.  In my opinion, the second reason is more important than the first.
 
 
Until Next Time…
 
“Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated.  You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” David Lloyd George
 
 
 

Death of a “Cold Calling” Salesman

Posted by John Park on Jan 27th, 2009
2009
Jan 27

cold calling

 
Because I am a decision maker (DM) for my business, I get about 10 to 15 personalized emails a week from salespeople trying to sell me something.  These are elaborate and detailed emails written by sales representatives, business development managers, sales VPs and others holding equally impressive titles.  They aren’t the SPAM emails or the mass marketing emails we are all accustomed to.  These individuals are sending me emails directly and in a singular fashion with all of their direct contact information.  After receiving a few more today, I just had to pick up this business phenomenon as a blog topic.
 
If you are a business owner, you are getting these emails as well.  And, you’ve probably noticed the increase in frequency as the economy continues to decline.  I especially love the ones that come with attachments like PDFs and Word docs.  Do they really expect the decision makers to stop in their tracks and read the long emails as well as the attachments?
 
As all of you know, I am an unapologetic and “Kool-Aid drinking” fan of business technology and automation.  Having said that, this is one misuse of technology that makes me downright angry.  It makes me angry because I am one of those guys that considers my foundation and roots to be in sales.  My first corporate sales position was to cold call, door to door, at least 50 businesses a day pushing telecommunications services.  The job taught me more about securing new business than any other job I’ve held since then.
 
When did sales cold calling become cut-and-paste emails?
 
Sales by nature is not for everyone and there is a reason for this.  Rejection is a key component of sales and without getting a certain number of NOs, you’ll never get to a YES.  Whatever happened to objection handling, getting an appointment, inspiring action by communicating a benefit and etc.?  If you are doing this and you know who you are, what are your reasons for doing this instead of picking up the phone?  Is it because you can cover more ground?  Is it because you can do this in the middle of the night?  Is it because this sales tactic is making your commission checks fat?  My guess is no.  You fear rejection, the uncomfortable feeling of cold calling and sometimes being on the receiving end of rude behavior, hangups and door slams.
 
Sales is an important profession and if that is your role in an organization, I ask you to honor it by not abandoning the basics.
 
Pick-up the PHONE and make the cold calls.  I guarantee you’ll have better results.
 
I leave you with this amazing and true business story.
 
“At age 66, he lost his business and began to live on his Social Security check.  It wasn’t enough.  He went around the country selling his recipe for fried chicken.  He was turned down 1,009 times before someone said YES.  And he went on to become a multimillionaire at an age when most people are quitting.”  This story is about Colonel Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
 
If he had the technology, do you think he would have sent out 1,009 personalized emails instead of cold calling?
 
 
 

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