Marketing

Focus Everything On Your Ideal Customer

Boy in supermarket reaching for food

What if you were to focus everything you said and did on only one customer? Imagine if you were to look at your client base and use the 80/20 rule (or maybe even the 90/10 rule) and give 100% focus on the best 10-20% of customers? You would need to answer some questions:

Who are you best set up to serve?

Why do they choose you?

What do people buy from you? (Hint: It is not what you sell)

What to your top 10-20% value the most about your product and/or service?

How do you stand out from your competition?

These are questions I have asked and written about numerous times. I remember the first time I felt particularly challenged by this whole concept was late 2000’s. We had been training on key account management and the 80/20 rule - particularly focused on the fact that 20% of your customers give you 80% of your income. One individual so bought into the truth of this that he went and ‘fired’ his bottom 80% of customers and only took on customers that fitted his top 20%. It is the stuff legends are made of. I was a huge mixture of breathtaking admiration and terror. His business boomed. 

A few years later, during similar training, a client lit up with the reality that 20% of his products gave him 80% of his income. I cautioned that sometimes the 80% give us the right to sell the 20% e.g. A hardware store needs to sell nails even though it is a very small contributor to sales. He was unswayed. He crunched his numbers and massively rationalised his product range. The focus gave him a niche that he owned and opened him to previously unimaginable opportunities. At the time I remember being very challenged by this laser focus.

Just seeing and hearing does not make a difference. One has to act. Over time, if you don't act, the impetus to make a change rapidly disappears.  Experiences such as these serve as a great reference point and example - providing the spark often needed for others to follow in their footsteps.The reality is that a stroke of genius just does not go away. The power of its message keeps flashing up in stories of other people doing the same thing.

Every time I use Google I am reminded of their one purpose: Make my search experience easy and effective. I keep coming back, I only use Google. The focus of Uber, Air BnB, Hnry, Xero, and the list goes on. The beauty of this, of course, is that from a place of dominance in an area it is so easy to branch out - Nike is a classic example as they moved from shoes to clothing.

I leave you with a thought for the week. How focused are you? What opportunity are you missing in your desire to try and keep all the people happy all the time? How much better could you do if you focused on doing everything for your ideal client(s)?

Here’s to your success!

Integrity In A Green Washed World

Picture of Green Planet with Recycle Symbols in Business hand

Some years ago there was a big article in the paper around the green taxis in Wellington who gave the impression that they were environmentally friendly and yet when it was checked out, they were not. There is such a big expectation upon businesses to be environmentally friendly. The social pressures through social media, public interest groups and the news create a growing necessity for businesses to comply. One only needs to look at the impact Greta Thunberg has had by sitting outside the Swedish Parliament demanding change on climate laws and how this been picked up and emulated around the world. Closer to home, we have seen the ban on plastic bags and the growing demand for the removal of all plastic or at the very least an end-to-end solution.

With the public demand for companies to be environmentally and socially responsible, it is very easy to see why so many jump on the bandwagon to capture the ground-swell of people who make their purchasing decisions based on the demonstration of this responsibility. And yet so often we are finding that businesses are taking shortcuts - one only needs to look at the BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler scandal for an example.

If a business is to have integrity and demonstrate this, then any environmental initiative they undertake must be transparent and up for scrutiny because it is inevitable that the public can and will scrutinize it. You do not want to be found lacking. Integrity means testing, trialing and retesting until you get it right and then, and only then, do you go and announce it to the public and show what you are doing and get their buy in and their support and from a business sense, their loyalty and their referrals, testimonials and their business.

Being socially and environmentally friendly and responsible involves a lot more than just talking about it and stating it on social media and then your marketing material. A word to the wise, or at the very least to those who will listen, ensure that you have tested and proven your offering so that when the furnace of public scrutiny comes upon you , you will not be found wanting.

Integrity is about doing what you say you will do. If you are going to claim that you are environmentally and socially responsible then ensure that your actions backup your words. The public is very unforgiving when companies fail to walk the talk and the time it takes to recover from such a faux-pas is much better spent just doing it right the first time.

Here's to your success!

Role Play for Profit

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In training there are certain things that can make people start to groan and generally not want to participate. Probably top of all of these has to be when you announce role-play. It has got to the point where I now introduce that we are about to do an activity and explain the activity exactly the same way as I would explain a role play activity without using the word. It is incredible how merely dropping a simple phrase can make such a big mental difference.

In this blog I wanted to briefly touch on why it is so powerful to do role-plays - even if they make you initially feel like you would rather run for the hills or set your hair on fire.

The human brain is designed primarily to keep us alive and anything that it perceives is dangerous, it will generally tend to avoid. Role-plays are often perceived to hold a lot of danger: the risk of embarrassment, there's the risk of looking silly, of messing up, you've been asked to do something you don't know how to do etc. It is for this reason that so many people want to avoid it. However the human brain is also an incredible creation and once it has done something once and ascertained that it is both possible and not fatal, it has an amazing knack for being able to do the activity again a little bit quicker, a little bit smoother and more effectively.

I recently have had a number of clients attend expos, field days and trade shows. There are three parts to this: there is the preparation before-hand, the actual event and, of course, the follow up after the event. For teams who put the effort in before the event and practice role-plays, the effect of the result speaks for itself. Ironically the very thing that people fear inside of a role-play is totally eliminated in real life if they have practiced well. What so many people (who dread what a role-play might bring) end up finding is the reality of being prepared in a real world situation with real customers when it really matters.

Doing a role-play allows us to fully understand who we are and what we bring to the situation. It gives us an opportunity to understand the value that we offer and why people might be interested. It also enables us to practice how to engage, how to answer questions and how to use the short space of time we have effectively for both parties.

An effective way of doing role-plays is to set some clear goals for the salesperson and then have the customer come on stand with a backstory, as well as the interests that they have. For example, they could be the buyer for a large organisation who is under a huge amount of pressure to find a new supplier who can deliver on time because they have been badly let down. However the main KPI on a day-to-day basis is the GP. Added to this, the person could be having troubles at home with the kids and maybe has just received a request to go and see the doctor after some results have been received in and they are are worried what this might mean.

The rest of the team then observes how the role-play pans out. The Rep obviously guides the client through the stand that is on display in the practice room and asks the questions that they've got prepared. The rest of the team observes and makes notes. It is important after a role play to ask each party what they believe was done well. I often find the people immediately want to jump to what was done badly but we need to rewire people's brains to know that they have done things well. You get more of what you focus on, so focus on what you want more of. The very fact that they have done it, is good and so therefore the only feedback we want to know is: "What did you do well?" and "What will you do differently and or better next time?".

Ideally the salesperson should have uncovered that the key driver for the person was around reliable delivery and while price was important, it wasn't the deciding factor. Depending on the amount of time you have in the role-play - whether you are planning for a face-to-face meeting, a presentation or an event, being very clear on the design and outcome is important.

Once you've done this a few times it becomes easier and easier to do. When it is acted out in reality, the confidence levels it gives will often see role-plays being added as a stable part of a sales meeting - which is what indeed they should be. If you've never done them before, I strongly encourage you to give it a go before your next big meeting, presentation or event and watch the results speak for themselves.

Here's to your success!

Protect Your Notre Dame

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It will have been very difficult to miss the news that the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris had a serious fire earlier this week.  This iconic cathedral was under restoration and parts of the spire, visible from across Paris, collapsed as a result of the fire. In response to this misfortune, millions of Euros have been donated towards the restoration of this medieval Catholic cathedral, considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.

What does this have to do with business?  The Notre Dame is one of the USP’s of France, indeed of Europe.  A point of difference which drew and continues to draw people from all over the world. When your point of difference is so well known that everyone is aware of it without even having to point it out, then it is working for you as a business.  

Imagine if the response to the ruin of the famous spire was “It was just an old church spire - there are thousands of them dotted across Europe and the world.  Why be worried?” For some, this may even ring true as their priorities and values lie in different areas; but for those to who Notre Dame is a part of their life, their identity and their heritage, it is important enough to donate their own hard-earned money to its continuation.

Are you educating your customers on the value of your point of difference?  How are you helping them to know the unique difference it makes to them, the issues it solves, the understanding of their problems and the ease with which you resolve them? As you help your customers to know the value of your product - not just in the product, but the service, delivery and care of them as a customer, you will develop a loyalty and following which becomes a part of your identity as a business.

Protect your Notre Dame.

I Find Myself Disagreeing With Gary Vaynerchuk

Mike Clark looks at Gary Vaynerchuk LinkedIn Post

To even type that title feels like an anathema - almost the equivalent of questioning Richard Branson on business, or Warren Buffett on investing.

For those who do not know Gary Vaynerchuk, he is best known for his work in digital marketing and social media, leading New York–based companies VaynerMedia and VaynerX. I follow him on social media and one cannot question his success - but his latest post on LinkedIn has had me seriously questioning his realism.

The post was simple and audacious - nothing new there. I even "Liked" it, along with over 5500 other people. Then, over the course of the day, my subconscious interrupted the flow of the day with the sheer ridiculousness of what I had read.  

Titled “5 LinkedIn Marketing Strategies for 2019”, point number one reads: Use the $1.80 strategy on LinkedIn. (leave your $0.02 cents worth on 90 comments posts a day in your field).

That sounds logical - with that much activity on LinkedIn you are bound to get noticed!

Do the math however and you need to be allocating 3+ hours a day to find enough stuff worthy of comment, think what to say, type it and respond to replies.

It is sufficiently challenging for myself, doing a post a day and making half a dozen comments and likes. I consider it a huge success when I am able to help clients to see the value of a post a day and feel victorious when their resulting action is regular posting of a few times a week!

Why?

No surprises here - SME business owners are time poor. If they could find 3 focused hours daily, they would be better off working on their business rather than in it, doing solely LinkedIn marketing! As a matter of interest, I went and looked up Gary’s LinkedIn activity for the day he posted that advice. I was somewhat relieved to see that he managed 10 ‘activities’ on the same day (that means that he is human like the rest of us).

The concept is really interesting and my subconscious is continuing to play with the idea but I just don’t see myself investing that much time in one strategy. I have asked Gary how he proposes a busy, mortal human, with no super powers, actually does what he is suggesting and look forward to his reply.

Am I simply naive? Have I missed something? I am interested in your thoughts on this - please leave comments in the section below the blog.

The Power of Rapport

Business People Giving Thumbs Up

The basis of all relationships is trust and we establish this upon our very first connection with people.  It is for this reason that rapport building is a skill set which is critical for success in every field of one’s life.

Think about the last time you went into a store and had somebody ask you the classic “Can I help you?” question, as against somebody genuinely wanting to connect with you asking a more intelligent question, for example: "What occasion do you want a dress for today?" or "Are you wanting a new kitchen or are you looking for a renovation?" or "Is this for a rental or for your own home?". The ability to connect with somebody very quickly is reflected by how easily they can open up and start to share information with you. It is this sharing that builds and develops trust.

In rapport building, what we are really aiming to do is to find some common ground which will allow us to make a connection with another human being.  It is this search for common ground that leads to most people resorting to talking about the weather. Subconciously we all know that the weather we are all experiencing is something we all have in common with the person with whom we are attempting to engage.  The better you know someone, the more in depth and meaningful the connections/ questions can become. Consider, for example, the difference between “Has it been raining a lot here lately?” or “It’s a really lovely day outside isn’t it?” against “Did you go and enjoy the game last night supporting your team?” or “How’s your daughter doing with her broken arm?”

As we get to know people better, we know what their passions and interests are, and when we connect at this level, people open up very willingly and quickly.  It is this ability to get conversation going and flowing naturally that makes rapport building such a core skill. The amazing thing is that it is not a difficult skill to develop. Whether you are going to a network event, a customer service agent, a tradesman or a sales rep, you know you will be meeting people and therefore you can deliberately plan ahead by developing questions with a bit more depth, thought and care than the "How are you?", "Isn't it a nice day?" or "Can I help you?".

Along with developing questions, some other things you can do are have good eye contact, handshakes and overall confident body language (which obviously includes a smile). Take an interest and actively listen to the person you are speaking to and take notes so that you can refer back to them when you see them again. Being prepared to share some personal information about yourself also creates a degree of authenticity and vulnerability that makes it safe for other people to open up and be authentic with you.

Here’s to your success!

Where Is Your Company IP?

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Do you have trademarks or even patents?

Where is your company knowledge held?

If you lost your three longest serving team members what impact would it have?

I am privileged to work with businesses than believe in investing in their people. However, over the years, what I have noticed is that it is not enough to just invest in your people. You have to make sure that information is shared and that knowledge is transparent and available.

I have worked with businesses that have, sadly, lost some of their best staff very suddenly through an accident; others who have lost their staff because they've had to move on for personal reasons or because they have been offered better opportunities. One of the single biggest challenges businesses then have, is when all the skill, knowledge and experience walk out the door with a person - because the time has not been taken to record what that person knows and how that information and knowledge links into other people's skills and knowledge.

If you were to lose your three longest serving team members, or the three people who knew the most in each section in your business, would you be able to recover?

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When you get a new team member on board, how quick and easy is it for them to learn what they need to know so that they can perform at the highest level? One of the incredible things that comes from having a culture where knowledge is shared and information is openly available, is that people do not hoard their skill and knowledge and what they have learnt over the years as a way of keeping their job secure.

One of the best methods of making this happen is to make an expectation that all staff will have somebody that knows as much as they do, so that they can take leave and have holidays. This allows for job rotation; makes work a lot more interesting and creates a security - the company cannot be held to ransom by a small group of people or single person who for a short period of time has some crucial skillset which only they hold.

The use of a Skills Matrix is one of the best ways of ensuring that this is done effectively. This shows the Core Skills per department; followed by who is able to do the work under supervision, do the work competently and train others to do the work. When this is openly displayed for all to see, it is easy to see where your skill gaps are.

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It is also easy for employees to see who they can approach to help them learn something. One of the great benefits is that we can show people a career path and what they need to know if they want to grow into a new role. This can then be tied into professional development plans and can ensure that your organisation develops a learning culture.

Ensure that your company's future is sustainable and secure by putting into play some basic reporting - creating a culture that allows and encourages people to expand their skillset, share information, to grow and thrive - and in turn help the company to do the same.

As always if we can help in any of these areas please do get in touch.

Here's to your success!

3 C's of Teampower

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Here are three short exercises to share with your team to help them understand the importance of clarity, communication and commitment when working in a team.  Using these simple and practical illustrations, you can help them develop a mindset which allows them to adjust their practices and move towards successful practices both in their work and personal lives.

Clarity

Grab a pack of tiny waterpistols, and hand them out to your team. (You can choose whether to load them or not!) Give the following instruction: “Pick up your waterpistols and fire!” Notice how some fire will fire at you, some fire at their friends, a few fire at their enemies.  Rarely will any fire in the same direction. As the laughter dies down, without saying a word, draw a target on the board and repeat the instruction. Over 90% of the people will aim at the target.

What is your business aiming for?  Does everyone know and are they all aiming at the same thing?  When we have clarity in our objectives, it gives clarity to the work we do and why. Aiming to get better profits? Or to increase your turnover by 30%? One is a big goal, the other is much more clearly defined.  The more clearly you set the goal, the more clearly you can describe the outcome you’re looking for and the more likely you are to achieve it.

Communication

Give each of your team a piece of paper and ask them to follow these instructions.

Respond positively to questions, clarification or repetition of the instructions. (This encourages people to use feedback loops to learn!)

  • Draw a circle with diameter 5cm.  

  • Draw a circle in the centre of that with diameter 1cm.  

  • 45 degrees up and to the left of the centre of the inner circle, at distance of 1cm from the centre, draw a dot .  

  • 45 degrees up and to the right of the centre of the inner circle, at a distance of 1cm from the centre, draw a dot.

  • Beginning at the circumference of the outer circle, vertically above the left dot, draw a line on a 45 degree angle up and to the left of the circumference, 1 cm long

  • From the outer edge of this line, draw a vertical line down to the circumference of the circle.

  • Beginning at the circumference of the outer circle, vertically above the right dot, draw a line on a 45 degree angle up and to the right of the circumference, 1cm long.  

  • From the outer edge of this line, draw a vertical line down to the circumference of the circle.

  • What have you drawn?

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Usually, you will get vastly different pictures from the same set of instructions. People hear the same thing, but interpret instructions differently. If it’s that easy to mess up drawing a picture of a pig, think about some of the complex information that we sometimes need to communicate, and respectfully use the tools of repetition, questioning, slowing down and feedback to ensure you are being understood.

Commitment

Ask people to stand up and stretch as high as you can. Once they have done that, challenge them to stretch 10% higher.  Who gave their commitment to the first instruction?  Who gave more on the second instruction?

Find the things that motivate you to give that little bit extra and ensure you practice giving your all to the very best of your ability. You will find your ability increases incrementally in proportion to both the amount of effort and consistency of effort you put in.

Success comes from hard work and a can-do mindset. Clarity, communication and commitment are fantastic tools to get your organisation there a little easier and faster. Let us know how you get on using these exercises with your team!

Here’s to your success!

Create The Ideal Customer

Silhouette of Potential Customers - Create the Ideal Customer

Marketing is everything you do to promote your business. Done right, it grabs people’s attention, creates interest and stimulates desire for your product that leads people to taking action. The better you understand your market, the better you can serve them. Do you know who your ideal customer is?

Who are you best set up to serve? Don’t say everyone! As Seth Godin said, everyone is not your customer! Of course, businesses are generally willing to take whichever clients that come, but you should ensure that you know what your ideal client looks like.

Think of your best client right now. Write down their name. If it’s a business, write their name and the name of the person you deal with. Are they male or female? How old are they? What are the main products/services they buy from you? What problems do you solve for them (with your product? What other problems do they have? What is their average spend? How often do they use you? Do they have family? What interests do they have?

Repeat this process with your next best client until you have 5-10 “best client” profiles. The more detail you have, the better. Now look at the profiles, and look for the patterns - what is common? Begin to build a picture of your ideal customer. Find their likes/dislikes, interests, hobbies, places they hang out.

customer choices with ideal one identified

As you create this picture, you are identifying your target market - a picture of the “person” you are best set up to serve. Once you’ve identified your target market in this way, you can ensure that your marketing is effectively reaching towards that person.

Perspective Pays Dividends

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Attention to detail, big picture, small actions.  How many times have you seen words spoken, and been awed at how they’ve empowered?  Or similarly how they’ve caused havoc and hurt? Are your staff trained to manage words, tone, intention?  Do they see people in and around your business premises as a delight to encounter, or a nuisance who get in the way of their tasks?

I pulled into the carpark to drop my daughter to her dance lesson, thinking how grateful I was there was somewhere to park.  The shop to which the parking area belonged would be a good place to browse while I waited for the lesson to be over and see if I could find some new cushions for the chairs we had bought from them earlier this year.  My girl ran ahead, and I parked carefully between two other vehicles, seeing a man leaning over the railing of the shop behind. I got out of the car, and headed first to make sure our offspring was in safe space. I had not even locked the car when the man’s voice drew my attention. “Are you here for dance lessons? Can you park somewhere else? Can you ask the other parents to park somewhere else too.  It’s quite rude using our carpark.”

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His words were not wrong.  People can be so cheeky, and get away with as much as you let them.  It was the tone, and the mostly empty carpark that drew my negative attention. Feeling like a naughty child, I shifted my car to the empty park on the street outside the shop, and pondered my response.  I’m not buying my cushions in that shop.  I’m not buying anything in that shop ever again!   Childish?  Maybe, and I have the good fortune to be surrounded with positive people on a daily basis, so it was a fairly shortlived response, as I considered that the shop owners pay rates for and have ownership of the carpark and they can do whatever they like with who parks there or not.  

What struck me next was the short-term perspective of what difference this business ambassador could have made to my day, and in attracting me - and other customers - to use his facility, rather than turning me away. What other words that could have been used?  Would you like to have a look around the store while your daughter is dancing?  Were you planning to come in today?  I looked bad, but I had good intentions, and there was no effort to explore them.  

Then I looked at the opportunities that this business had to market to a whole people group. On the blank ugly wall, could they have advertising of the latest huge mirrors, which dancing girls would just love to have in their bedroom for practice?  Were they marketing to the needs of potential customers whose children might need furniture for their bedroom? Had they considered a people group who would be a ready audience to their marketing messages week in and week out by allowing their use of the carpark?  Even a notice tacked on the wall politely inviting dance parents to use the street carparks rather than the customers, would have been kind.

When Mike and I got married, we decided we would take our ten children on honeymoon to Samoa with us.  After several attempts to get a travel agent to help us with finding something which would work for the large group and multiple needs, we found a wonderful travel firm in Christchurch.  Nothing was too difficult for them. Their effort created a family memory and a bonding place which is a foundation everyone still remembers fondly and speak of years later. It was a challenging situation for the travel people to manage - but they made us feel valued all the way.

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As a result, when we travel, we use them.  And seven of our ten children are now adults, and any time they need travel, we recommend they use Steve.  Two of them have already used them in going on overseas trips, we used them again when bringing out family from UK. The Christchurch based business wouldn’t have made much profit on that initial transaction with us, but the loyalty and repeat business which they get is multiplied. We refer them constantly and speak highly of them at every given opportunity.

What is your business doing that is spreading the flavour of your team to the public around you?  What spills out of your team when a bit of pressure comes on? How can the actions you take be tweaked or honed to make a positive difference to all the people your staff encounter, and to create a lasting impression which makes people travel further, spend more and come back time and time again to you?  Take the big picture into perspective as you’re dealing with the day to day tasks, and you will reap the benefits.

Here’s to your success!

Appreciate Your Community

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In the busyness of everyday it can be so easy to get caught up in “our own little world”. We can drive, walk and pass by people and places without even seeing them. How often on your regular run to work have you arrived and had to double check with yourself that you actually drove there - because you really don’t remember it?

Read more

Most Important Client Visit of the Year

Regular client visits have long been a passion topic of mine. The little e-book “Repeat Sales Calls made easy” was written in response to a questions I often get in sales training around ‘what to say when you are seeing a customer several times in a year.’

If you regularly visit key accounts, which visit would you say was the most important?

I would argue that...

How do I get YOUR attention? (What we have learnt posting on LinkedIn)

Once you have identified your target market the next key element is, of course, to get their attention. The implication of knowing your ideal client is that you then know what they read, watch, and listen to. Where they shop, dine out and what their preferences are. How are you doing in this space?

How well do you really know your customer?

The most important form of marketing in a business

Many people crave an easy answer to the question “What is the most important form of marketing in a business?” The answer requires knowing who you are marketing to; then working out the most effective form of communicating your proposition; and finally actually doing the work. Doing the work requires a constant process of evaluating effectiveness, measuring, tweaking, measuring and refining. Not really the ‘easy’ answer people want.

Internal Marketing for Authenticity

“We sell the best!” The confidence, belief and enthusiasm of the eager faced young man showed the pride he had in working for and representing his company. A stark contrast that with the service one usually gets. What about the service you usually give?

When running marketing workshops one of the questions I often ask companie

Feel like taking a break?

How well are you capturing and converting your leads to sales?  Have you ever noticed that there is sometimes a tendency to ease off and slow down towards the end of the year?  The feeling that Christmas is coming, the summer holidays are soon, can lull us into a false sense of security.  How close are you to reaching your annual goal for this year?  Is your pipeline full of opportunities?