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How to Acquire More Customers With Neuromarketing's 3 Brains

  
  
  

It’s not people who make buying decisions - it’s their brains.

3 brains image
Neuromarketing gets us into the decision-making brain. Here’s how it works and what you can do with it to acquire more customers.

THREE BRAINS

Actually, there are three brains involved in the decision-making or buying process and so we must market to all three. Here’s how it is done. I’ll leave the background and fundamentals for the end of the article.

NEUROMARKETING’S SECRET SAUCE
  1. Gain Attention
  2. Maintain Attention
  3. Add Emotion
  4. Give Meaning
  5. Wrap It Up In A Story

1.  HOW TO GAIN ATTENTION
  • Use visuals, not words
  • Use contrast and avoid similarity. Create a clash between options.
  • Focus on what is real and concrete and not on concepts or ideas
  • Employ movement and avoid being static
  • Provide variety and avoid sameness
  • Provoke curiosity
  • Promise rewards
  • Above all, focus on the self-centeredness of your target, not on yourself

EXAMPLE - SALES PRESENTATION
  • Use more visuals and fewer words
    • The selection of a particular typeface can provide a powerful visual
  • Highlight areas that deserve attention
  • Use images and simple words that are easily understood (e.g. do not require the thought-processing involved with concepts)
  • Use movement in the form of:
    • Embedded videos
    • Presenter movement / interaction with audience
    • Slide builds
  • Use multi-media and a variety of formats (Rexi Media)

2.  HOW TO MAINTAIN ATTENTION
(The goal is to maintain an interactive, involved brain.)
  • Continue to use the attention-getting tools, above
  • Expand the variety of presentation devices
  • Create surprise with the unexpected
  • Interrupt the flow, but with relevance
  • Reinforce rewards

EXAMPLE
  • Alternate presentation slides with an appeal to other senses, such as doing a demonstration and having the audience experience a product by touching.
  • Create surprise with an unusual image that makes a statement or supports a fact. (Rexi Media is top notch with creating unusual but relevant images.)
  • Interrupt with relevant questions and challenges.

3.  HOW TO ADD EMOTION

Emotion can have an instantaneous and powerful impact on the decision-making process.

To add emotion, insert relevant events that trigger emotional experiences via the senses (primarily sight), not words or ideas.

EXAMPLE
  • Use visuals that show emotions like fear, anger, security, triumph
  • Use facial features to communicate emotion
  • Include familiar situations to provide context
  • Include music

4.  HOW TO GIVE MEANING
  • Use logic
  • Provide facts
  • Provide analyses
  • Do demonstrations

5.  HOW TO MAXIMIZE IMPACT - TELL A STORY

Stories are memorable, condense input into a few, relevant points, capture the power of emotion, and justify what is felt intuitively. In a word, stories sell to all three brains. Forms of stories include:
  • Case histories
  • Before / After
  • Problem / Solution
  • Slice-of-life
  • Short narratives

EXAMPLE

(One way to begin a presentation)

"Let me show you how a company just like yours overcame incredible odds to regain the coveted top position in its industry…"


HOW TO USE NEUROMARKETING IN YOUR BUSINESS

Short-term vs long-term selling situations
  • If your sales cycle is short and the risk of a bad decision to buy is small, then you will want to focus primarily on gaining attention to stimulate impulse buying.
  • If your sales cycle is long and the risk of a bad decision to buy is great, then you will want to schedule a series of communications that deliver all five steps.

In stressful vs. stress-free situations
  • Because the thinking brain can become short-circuited when in stress (triggering survival instincts), primarily employ the attention-getting tools because they belong to the survival brain, and reinforce with emotion which can trump conceptual thinking.
  • In stress-free situations, apply the tools that give meaning but only after gaining and maintaining attention.

During Trigger Events
  • When your customer is experiencing an emotional trigger event (e.g. lost sales that threaten layoffs), use emotional triggers to relate to the customer’s state of mind in the course of gaining attention and to the emotional relief from the benefit your product or service provides.


BACKGROUND

Neuromarketing helps you understand and responsibly reach the parts of the brain that make the buying decision.

THE THREE BRAIN MODEL

The most efficient model for understanding the brain in terms of its evolutionary history is the famous triune brain theory developed by Paul MacLean in 1960. According to this theory, the following three distinct brains emerged successively in the course of evolution and now co-inhabit the human skull:

1.  The reptilian brain, the oldest of the three, is the “survival brain.” In addition to controlling the body's vital functions it is focused solely on its well-bring and survival. It’s call the reptilian brain because it includes the main structures found in a reptile's brain.

2.  The limbic or middle brain emerged in the first mammals. It can record memories of events that produced agreeable and disagreeable experiences, so it is called the "emotion brain." It is also the seat of the value judgments that we make, often unconsciously, that exert such a strong influence on our decisions.

3.  The neocortex or new brain, called the "thinking brain," first assumed importance in primates and culminated in the human brain with its two large cerebral hemispheres.  The left hemisphere communicates by using words, has highly developed verbal abilities, is logical and systematic, concerned with matters as they are. The right hemisphere communicates using images, has highly developed spatial abilities, is intuitive and imaginative, and is concerned with emotions and feelings.

These three parts of the brain do not operate independently of one another. They have established numerous interconnections through which they influence one another. For example, the new brain can communicate with the reptilian brain using images. Additionally, it can describe and transform the images into a narrative. (David Icke)


WHY THE REPTILIAN BRAIN IS IMPORTANT IN THE BUYING DECISION

Buying decisions are partially triggered by our survival instincts found in our reptilian brain and these fall into 4 categories:

1. Egocentrism: Egocentrism is characterized by preoccupation with one's own internal world (Wikipedia). Other people do not count, including their well-being and survival. Therefore, focus entirely on your target (and not on yourself) and liberally use the "you" and "your" words. Avoid “I, me, mine.”

2. Visual Imagery: The "language" of the reptilian brain is visual imagery; it does not understand words.  (David Icke) Visual imagery is a function of sight (compared to words and ideas which take longer to process), movement (associated with sight), and difference (which aids in making comparisons and accelerates decision-making). All contribute to the ability to make decisions faster which is important to survival.


3. Materiality: the old brain prefers what is physical and concrete. To gain attention, relate with visuals and words to what can be felt over what must be conceptualized.

4. Efficiency: thinking consumes energy, and for the old brain, energy conservation means survival. Generate efficiency in all forms of communication by pinning key points to the beginning and end of communication, using visibility to generate immediate recognition, and applying materiality to images and words.

HOW THE SURVIVAL BRAIN INFLUENCES YOU TODAY

reptilian brain customer acquisitionImagine yourself as a reptile and you are concerned with only two things: find food and not be eaten in the process (survival at its most fundamental level).

You would scan the environment as quickly as possible by looking for movement, contrast, and something familiar (tangible and noticeably different). If you find neither a threat or food, you will pay less attention to the environment (save energy) until visual cues gain and maintain your interest.

Now imagine yourself in a presentation. You look for what is important, respond to visual cues, are engaged with movement and variety of media, and rapidly lose interest when redundant or less critical information is presented.

You are responding with your reptilian brain.

THE POWER OF EMOTION
  • Emotions can motivate us to take action.
  • Emotions help us survive, thrive, and avoid danger.
  • Emotions can help us make decisions.
  • Emotions allow other people to understand us. i.e. communicate
  • Emotions allow us to understand others.  i.e. communicate
(Source: about.com purpose-of-emotions)

Discover how to capture customers at a very fundamental level with this Quick 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist.

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Photo Credit: Austin Kleon via Flickr Creative Commons License







3 Most Important Customer Acquisition Charts for the C-Suite

  
  
  

Marketing for the purpose of acquiring customers is a highly complex, detailed, and rapidly evolving function. That's why it is sometimes difficult for CEOs and key executives - especially those without major marketing experience - to grasp the key essentials of what marketing truly is and how to make it work; they don't have the time and they have many other areas to focus on.

The purpose of "3 Most Important Customer Acquisition Charts for the C-Suite" is to quickly and simply bring a C-Suite-level focus to what's really important about marketing and enable the business owner or key executive to make the best decisions on how to manage the marketing function.

CHART #1: STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT

describe the image

The purpose of this chart is to focus on the fact that marketing derives is direction from the overall business strategy and that, today, there are two very distinct forms of marketing: the traditional, push side of marketing called "outbound", and the newer, pull side of marketing called "inbound."

The direction that marketing takes from the business strategy can be complex and involve core values, corporate mission and vision. But I prefer simplicity, and have only 3 primary objectives: Build Customers, Build Sales, and Build Brand Image. All marketing activity should be based on these objectives.

CHART #2: INBOUND MARKETING METHODOLOGY

Inbound marketing methodolgyWhile traditional, outbound marketing is well understood (intrusive communications such as TV, unsolicited emails, direct response, etc.) inbound marketing - a phrase coined just 6 years ago - is not well understand. The above chart, courtesy of the inventors of the inbound phrase, shows four key steps: attracting, converting, closing, and delighting customers.


CHART #3: THE TOOLS AND SKILLS OF INBOUND MARKETING

The 4 inbound marketing steps have specific tools and skills associated with them. Here is a very condensed outline:

Inbound marketing tools skills chart copy


NEXT STEPS

Start here to learn more about how Customer Acquisition Marketing - its methodology, tools, and skills - can be managed to build customers, sales, and brand image. Download the "Easy 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist" now:

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5 Easy Ways to Compromise Customer Acquisition

  
  
  
Architect Plans as marketing strategyImplementing an effective customer acquisition program (one that achieves its objectives) without a marketing strategy is like trying to erect a building without a set of architectural plans.

Here are 5 keys to an effective marketing strategy. Ignore them and the ability to get all the customers you can will be compromised.



IT’S NOT ABOUT TEXTBOOK MARKETING STRATEGY



There are vast resources that describe marketing strategy and demonstrate how to develop it. This is not the real issue. The real issue lies in understanding the “soul” of marketing strategy. When we can grasp its soul its value becomes obvious and this will propel and compel its use.  Let’s look at its soul.


IT'S NOT ABOUT COMPLEXITY

Effective strategy is not measured by its complexity. Complexity can be a mask for incompetence and must be guarded against. Similarly with sophistication, especially with the growing level of concepts, tools and techniques available to marketers. The old adage is still the best: “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." On the other hand, generating an effective strategy is not necessarily easy, nor should it be simplistic. Beware oversimplification on one hand and a strategic process that looks outrageously complex on the other hand.

THE 5 KEYS TO MARKETING STRATEGY


Use these 5 components to form the soul or foundation of your marketing strategy.



1. Marketing Strategy is Based on Objectives.

Marketing strategy must be based on specific, quantitative (numerical) objectives. Qualitative statements like “enhance the brand image” may be used to give some further dimension to the objectives, but cannot be used in place of numbers.

Ideally, marketing objectives are stated in the overall business objectives. Since this does not always occur, however, here are four primary marketing objectives that must exist for any strategy to be credible. They are expressed as:
    •    Customers
    •    Sales and/or profit
    •    Brand Image
    •    Competitive Advantage

All of the above can be quantified in multiple ways.

2. Marketing Strategy is Customer-Focused.

Being a customer-focused company often gets more lip service than real attention. To be truly customer focused includes extensive listening, getting into the mind of the customer to focus on customer problems, and an understanding of how the Internet has shifted the dynamics of the selling cycle (e.g. 60% of buyers do research before even contacting a company).

3. Marketing Strategy Requires a Knowledge of Options.

There are more marketing options today than just several years ago, and the list of options is growing daily. Who can argue that this isn’t creating confusion, anxiety and frustration? From a strategic point of view, this demands a management of options and one way to achieve this is to focus on a minimum of three factors:
  • Purpose
  • Performance Expectation
  
  • Price
Stated another way, marketing strategy cannot ignore the new tools and tactics that are available, nor can it jump after every new shining object.

4. Marketing Strategy Seeks to Optimize Asset Allocation.

The net effectiveness of a marketing strategy is based on how assets (e.g. marketing dollars, human resources, management, and materials such as databases and cloud-based computing) are allocated. The financial concept of asset allocation is helpful. While each asset is important, it is the mix of assets (portfolio) that determines the net performance. Think of marketing strategy as the portfolio of how all assets are combined to produce favorable results in customers, sales and/or profits, brand image, and competitive advantage.

5. Win With The Marketing Strategy Trifecta: Dynamics, Measurement and Rationale

Dynamics. The marketplace is dynamic. Customers are dynamic (and irrational). The future is unknown. Marketing strategy should be dynamic in that it is constantly monitoring not only its performance and the internal and external factors that affect performance, but also including a testing alternatives to support decision-making.   

Measurement. Quantitative, numerical measurement and reporting are necessary for an objective and consistent understanding of reality. This means that marketing strategy should incorporate metrics and analytical tools that report on its performance but that integrate with other departments including finance and sales.

Rationale Based. Rationale simply refers to the need to think through and articulate the specific reasons why one action is selected over another, and why asset allocations are made as they are.  This is an important discipline that cannot be left to assumptions and past history, for example. Another way to express this is that the rationale serves as the basis for determining whether the strategy is effective or needs to be reconsidered.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MARKETING STRATEGY?

Marketing strategy is too important to be delegated. It must be the responsibility of top management, even the CEO if there is no VP of marketing.  Simply put, management must get its hands dirty with marketing.

Cynthia Montgomery, Timken Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and author of The Strategist: Be The Leader Your Business Needs, writes about top management responsibility for strategy in this article, Take Charge of Your Strategy:

"What I’ve learned...is that the leader of any business must also be a strategist. No one else can see the business as a whole and rise above the mechanical, analytical details; more importantly, no one else can commit a company to a course of action."

KEY TAKEAWAY

Focusing on these 5 parts of a customer acquisition marketing strategy can help the business owner or key executive produce an optimal marketing strategy with the resources at his or her command.  

Use this Quick 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist to help pinpoint where your marketing strategy needs improvement.

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The Top 25 Questions Great Leaders Ask

  
  
  

top 25 questions great leaders ask"Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers."
   -Voltaire

Do great leaders ask great questions? Or do leaders become great because they ask great questions?  Either way, what are those great questions?

Join me on my quest to find them.

They are not to be found on some mountaintop, nor are they found in sacred books. I took a simpler route and went to the fountain of all knowledge; I Googled “Questions great leaders ask.”

Here is the outcome from 10 pages worth of search results.

OVERVIEW: GREAT QUESTIONS ARE HARD TO FIND

I wasn’t looking for the obvious questions, like “what are my strengths,” because, well, they are obvious. Interestingly, what appeared to be brilliant and unique questions weren’t immediately identifiable. And no great leaders surfaced! Of course, the best questions may be squirreled away like some secret Coke formula, available only to large clients paying huge sums and requiring blood oaths not to reveal them.

However, some questions rose to the top. These tended to be inner focused, that is, questions that one asks oneself in brutal honestly. Others tended to be those directed to team members. In other words, the best questions were not focused on demonstrating one’s brilliance but on teamwork and service to others. These are the gutsy questions that I believe reflect great leadership.

You decide.

TOP 25 GREAT QUESTIONS

Here are what I believe are the top 25 great questions that anyone who is or wishes to be a great leader will ask.

From Forbes via James Slavet of Greylock Partners
Questions great leaders ask themselves every day

1. What can I do to make sure my employees are consistently acknowledged and appreciated for what they do?
2. What can I do to to support my employees to stay open to learning and to keep getting better all the time?

From Forbes via Josh Linkner
What leaders ask their teams

3. What is everyone thinking, but nobody has the courage to say?
4. If someone was going to come along and put us out of business, what would he or she do?
5. Are we focusing on preserving the problem to which we are a solution, or are we innovating our way to success?

From Forbes via Brett Nelson
Questions you ask yourself under the hood

7. How committed am I?
8. Is my product/service a real business?
9. How much power do my customers have?
10. How much power do my suppliers have?
11. Does my business have a moat around it?

From Leadership Thoughts via Martin Webster
Questions you ask your teams

12. Is there anything I can do for you?
13. What can we do better?
14. What is holding us back?

From Talent Quest
 
15. Am I being honest?
16. Am I inspiring others?
17. Am I being courageous?

From Inc.
Influential Leaders


18. I would like you to discuss my idea with your teammates. Will you see what they think, then give me completely unfiltered feedback?

From Center Source via Evan Owens

19. Where are we manufacturing energy?

From The Mojo Company
Just between you and the mirror

20. Do you rely completely on facts, logic, and proof? Or do you use intuition and foresight–gut and instinct–to balance those things?
21. Do you place an over-emphasis on speed and fast action? Or do you focus on gaining understanding; adapting to organizational environments; and balancing the need for progress with the need for appropriate buy-in, input, and decentralized decision-making?
22. Do you equate patience with indecision? Or do you value listening and observation in order to make good decisions?
23. Do you get annoyed when others won’t think or act the way you want them to? Or are you thankful for the variety and use it as an opportunity?
24. Do you believe leadership is about control? Or do you believe leadership is about finding ways not to have so much of it?

THE ULTIMATE QUESTION

25. Why? (Could it be anything else? Several sources suggest that asking “why” five times will get at the root of any problem.)

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS VS. THE GREAT QUESTIONS

In Great Leaders Don’t Have All the Answers, Robert S. Kaplan takes us into the mental inner sanctum of some leaders and this is where self-doubt and confusion reside. Kaplan says,

"As a leader, you don’t need to have all the answers or have  superhuman traits. Instead you need to focus on asking the right questions, engaging your team and focusing on what you’re actually doing.   All great leaders  have moments of doubt and go through periods of struggle.  Focus on having the wisdom to  ask the right questions of yourself  and others, and have the courage to act on what you  learn."

Question: How's your customer acquisition doing? Download this easy 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist and find out.

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Photo Credit: from inc.com Flickr Creative Commons




Create, Reinvent, and Innovate: 3 Ideas to Boost Customer Acquisition

  
  
  

creativity, innovation, reinvention for customer acquisitionIf these words don’t capture your attention, none will:

  • Creativity

  • Reinvention

  • Innovation


These are words filled with opportunity, smack of future success, and promise a new world of dynamic change. But, what do they really mean?

For example, how can you be creative? What steps can you take to reinvent yourself or your business? And what are the barriers to innovation?

Here are three short excerpts from business leaders to guide you in these three critical areas.

10 STRATEGIES FOR INCREASING YOUR CREATIVITY

Daniel Burrus, writing for the Huffington Post, provides these 10 strategies (condensed):

1. Develop your ability to observe and to use all your senses.
2. Continually expand your knowledge base.
3. Don’t allow your perceptions to limit your reasoning.
4. Practice guided imagery so you can "see" a concept come to life.
5. Let your ideas "incubate" by taking a break from them.  
6. Actively seek out new experiences to broaden your experience portfolio.
7. Treat patterns as part of the problem.
8. Redefine the problem completely.
9. Look where others aren't looking to see what others aren't seeing.
10. Come up with ideas at the beginning of the innovation process ... and then stop.

5 STRATEGIES FOR REINVENTING YOUR BUSINESS

In her post in USA Today, Rhonda Abrams discussed the need for small business owners to reinvent themselves, and provides 5 strategies for change.

She writes, "What do you do when everything in your industry turns upside down? When your consumers dramatically change? When new technology pushes out traditional business methods? Now is a time of great transformation for most industries. Some changes have been brought about by economic conditions; some by technology; some by new competition.”

Here are her five strategies:

1. Recognize opportunities. One keynote speaker at the Tools of Change conference was Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, a successful online news and opinion site. She chided the audience “Don’t look back to a golden age; the golden age is now.”

2. Reinvent yourself and your business. Recognize you’re doing something very new. As Henry Ford pointed out, he was building a car, not a faster horse. Understand that you’re going to have to develop new products or services. It’s not the same stuff in a different package.

3. Leverage your current assets. Transformation is different than starting anew, so use your assets, such as current products, services, customer relationships, a terrific team. You can start ahead of the competition.

4. Learn to juggle. One major challenge of transformation is you often have to run your current, diminishing business while building a new business. Another speaker, Dominique Raccah of SourceBooks, addressed exactly the question of how do you run, essentially, two businesses. Develop a strategic plan to help you shift your resources.

5. Consider investors. Because you are growing a new business, you are going to be strapped for cash. That may mean you need to find a new source of capital. If you have a compelling business opportunity, it may be appropriate to seek investors.

As a final note, Rhonda suggests that you change your vocabulary along with your attitude. Switch from learning how to “adapt” or to “accommodate” change. Instead it’s time to “embrace” the “renewal” and “reinvention” you’re experiencing.

INNOVATION LESSONS FROM MCKINSEY

Innovation: A Strategy for Positive Change
Think of innovation as positive change. Since few businesses can grow, or even sustain themselves, without positive change, innovation is not only important, it is a matter of survival.

“Quality and customer service are no longer differentiators, but rather prerequisites. Innovation is the best strategic decision for sustainable competitive advantage.” (Source: McKinsey)

What can small business learn about innovation from large business? Global consulting company McKinsey & Company shares some insights in a recent McKinsey Quarterly article, “How companies approach innovation: A McKinsey Global Survey.”

Where to find the next new idea?

The top two sources of ideas, according to 722 top managers, are:
1.  External discussions with peers, partners, or suppliers

2.  Personal interactions with customers

Why innovation fails

It’s not a matter of not having the right kind of employees.  Most often innovation fails because:

1.  There is little incentive to pursue innovation

2.  Failure is not tolerated and there is no active learning from failure

How to improve innovation performance

1.  Make innovation a core part of the leadership agenda with suitable metrics

2.  Model behavior that encourages innovations, such as taking risks

How to bring innovation into your company

Businesses of every size, even the smallest of small businesses, can apply these insights to help their business grow:

1.  Talk to and listen to the people you encounter every business day
2.  3Make innovation a priority
3.  Learn from failure.

The biggest impediment to innovation is the inherent distraction of day-to-day activities. But, as one business executive expresses it, we must discipline ourselves to work on the business, not only in the business.

Sometimes the basics are just as important as innovations. Discover the basics of customer acquisition with this Easy 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist.
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5 Steps to Rebuild Your Business for Better Customer Acquistion Outcomes

  
  
  

under construction signWill 2014 be business as usual or will you rebuild for better performance? There are compelling reasons to rebuild in new ways but with proven practices to produce better outcomes.

1. HARNESS THE POWER OF TECHNOLOGICAL ENABLEMENT

The Web continues to change business in powerful ways. The essence of change, however, is not technology, but what technology is enabling- how people connect. Some of the key expressions you will hear are that surround this change are:

  • Transparency: The Web makes more things visible, like competitive pricing and product descriptions
  • Relevance: customers are searching for what is relevant to them, and filtering out the noise of unwanted messages
  • Social Capital: the new coin of the realm is social capital and it is the value and trust a business creates

2. EMPLOY THE NEW TOOLS OF CONNECTIVITY

New tools enable new connections. The most significant of these tools involve Social Media. Blogs, podcasts, online video, and sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are all part of the Social Media landscape.

3. EMBRACE THE NEW REALITIES FOR BUSINESS

  • The new reality is that power in shifting into the hands of the customer to gather information (formerly controlled by Sales), screen out unwanted messages, and manage the pace and form business conversation.
  • The speed of business has speeded up, and all businesses are, in effect, open 24/7.
  • The economics of the Web allow businesses to replace money with brainpower. This bodes well for business and helps offset the power shift into customer hands. A relevant idea facilitated through social media connections can reach large audiences for far less investment than traditional media.

4. ADDRESS THE BUSINESS MANDATE: CHANGE THE GAME

New realities, new ways to connect, and new tools of connecting offer businesses unprecedented opportunities to change the game in their favor. In other words, now is the ideal time for businesses to rethink the rules and systems they play by, and restructure the game in their favor.

EXAMPLES OF GAME CHANGERS

  • Apple changed the game of music sales by introducing the iPod (which simplified downloading, storing, and playing music) and enabling its distribution with iTunes technology.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk changed the way wine is sold by changing how people learn and experience the world of wine. His change vehicle is the video blog called Wine Library TV, which has a cult-like following of more than 80,000 viewers a day. It is as far as you can imagine from the stuffy world of “conceited sommeliers, snobby shopkeepers, and mystical conventions. His business grew 10 times in 5 years to over $50,000,000 largely through his only efforts.
  • eBay changed the way buyers and sellers collaborate. No longer do you need auction houses like Christie’s. Live auctions are held online and even the smallest items can be exchanged.

Even the smallest businesses can produce superior results when they commit to changing how their game is played.

BUT NOT EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED

In the midst of change, the imperative to manage your business vs. being managed by it has not changed. Yes, there are different issues, such as:

  • Direct mail or email
  • Direct sales or online sales
  • Cocktail networking party or LinkedIn

But the way to manage business has not changed substantially. These fundamental practices still apply:

  • Management By Objective (MBO)
  • Managing with values and beliefs
  • Building excellence throughout the organization
  • Committing to continuous improvement

5. STRIVE FOR BALANCE

The successful game changers will balance the new realities of the digital revolution with proven management techniques. Side-by-side we will see:

  • The person who manages your social media profiles will also be taught how to close the loop to ensure that ideas produce effective action.
  • You will still need interviewing skills, training techniques, and team development skills, whether for an online marketing manager or a warehouse foreman.
  • You will listen to the voice of the customer through Google alerts and Twitter search, as well as from the actual words, questions, and expressions of your customers as observed by cashiers, truck drivers, and fulfillment specialists.

KEY TAKEAWAY

Now is the opportune time for owners of small and mid-size businesses to change the way they do business by embracing the new realities of the Web and balancing them with time proven management practices.

An effective way to start is to ensure that your customer acquistion program is hitting on all cylinders. To find out, just download this Quick 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist.

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Image via: ccpmhomes.com

Simplicity and the Art and Science of Customer Acquisition

  
  
  

simplicity vs complexityHere's a quick 10-Point Checklist of ways to simplify the task of acquiring customers.


If you believe that simplicity is better than complexity and that it has inherent strengths and advantages, then this checklist, based on the Power of Simplicity by Jack Trout, will have immediate value and impact on your business. Think of it as a single, simple sign amidst a tangle of conflicting and confusing road signs.

Power of Simplicity

Trout, co-author of the best-sellers marketing classics, Positioning and Marketing Warfare, seeks to cut through the nonsense that is robbing management of its ability to manage well. He directs us to the power of simplicity, which he describes as common sense.

Simplicity Checklist

Here are 10 management principles of simplicity, applied to the task of getting more customers.

1. Avoid complex language
Never let a confusing word or concept go unchallenged.

2. Choose information over data
It’s more important to know what’s important and why, then to process vast amounts of data.

3. Bad advice comes from consultants who confuse.
Good advice has nothing to do with buzzwords, fancy processes, or colorful PowerPoint presentations.

4. Think of competitors for your customers as the enemy.
Choose your warfare based on your strengths and your enemy’s weakness: it is either defensive, offensive, flanking or guerrilla warfare.

5. Strategy is to management as location is to real estate.
If you can’t offer a better reason for your customers to buy, then you’d better offer a very good price.

6. The customer is not always right, but you must pay attention.
Offer the customer what they want to buy, not a dazzling list of what you believe is important.

7. Focus annual budgets on opportunities, not tradition.
Put your money where your opportunities are, not where they were.

8. Price your product or service based on what the customer will pay for it.
Don’t train your customers to buy on price.

9. Mission statements add needless confusion.
A mushy mission statement is an indication that a company doesn’t know where it’s going.

10. Apply common sense.
It can make things simple.

Add to these 10 principles these three simple ideas:

  • Big ideas almost always come in small words.
  • If you unclutter your mind, you’ll think more clearly.
  • Never trust anyone you don’t understand.

How good is your customer acquisition program? After checking it for simplicity, try this Easy 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist.

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Must We Abandon Commission Sales To Acquire More Customers?

  
  
  

sales commission Commission vs. Commission-Free Sales: The Dynamics of Today's Marketplace


The New York Times
, in its November 21, 2013 Small Business section, featured the article “For Some, Paying Sales Commissions No Longer Makes Sense.” The article described how and why some small businesses are moving away from sales commissions and thriving. What is particularly interesting in the arguments for and against sales commissions is where the great divide stands; those who opt for commission-free sales do so because they believe it builds better client relationships while those who stay with commissions believe it helps to attract and retain better sales people.

Why the Sacrosanct Model of Commissioned Sales is Under Attack

It has to do with the Internet and the changing relationship between buyer and seller. One business owner explained it this way:

“Thanks to the Internet (even before a sales agent shows up) the customer has done the work comparing vendor solutions, checking scores of comparisons from users and buyers.”

Another business owner added, “Twenty years ago, the company’s clients needed sales representatives to explain pricing and policies. Today, the Internet has made such information widely available.”

The Argument For Commission-Free Sales

The companies featured in the article that moved to commission-free sales had all been on a commissioned sales basis, so there was experience with that model of compensation. The model ceased to work for these companies for these reasons:

  • The carrot-and-stick model of commission sales had diminished the rate of return on performance.
  • Commissions were getting in the way of a proper dialogue with customers.
  • Commissions fostered negative behaviors, such as focusing on an individual’s profit over the company’s, emphasizing short-term outcomes and encouraging unproductive competition among sales representatives.
  • Commissions focused too much on the individual at the expense of the customer and their pain.
  • Doing right for the customer was in conflict with an individual’s desire to earn a higher salary. This included overselling to clients to satisfy personal earning targets.
  • Commissioned sales were not conducive to a team effort and could lead to a corrosive work atmosphere.
  • Commissioned sales did not concentrate on the good of the company.

How One Company Successfully Moved to Commission-Free Sales

The articles cites ThoughtWorks, a software company, that worked on its sales strategy for a full year before implementation. The owner, Craig Gorsline, reports that annual sales grew between 18 and 22 percent in each of the last two years. “We still demand revenue generation. The only thing that changed is the way they are compensated.”

Here are the key steps ThoughtWorks used to move to commission-free sales.

  • The entire sales team and management team were brought together to discuss the new direction, explain the rationale and provide a forum for discussion.
  • The salary structure took into consideration high performers, offering them compensation close to what they had earned with commissions.
  • While all sales reps took pay cuts, they were offered the security of a paycheck. (ThoughtWorks operates in a cyclical industry.)

Results

Although 10 percent of the representatives quit, ThoughtWorks turned the new sales strategy into a recruiting benefit, finding better candidates overall and those aligned with the overall mission.

Another company that gave up commission sales used bonuses based on the company’s profit performance, with a bigger share going to those who had been with the company the longest.

Why One Company Moved To Commissioned Sales

RJMetrics, also a software company, opened in 2008 and did not pay sales commissions, believing it would poison the corporate culture. It returned to the traditional commission sales model for these reasons:

  • Commission sales were required to attract the best sales team.
  • Commission sales provided the ability to offer incentives for tactical things, including bringing customers onboard with long-term agreements.
  • Commission sales helped prevent employees from thinking twice about a better offer somewhere else.

KEY TAKEAWAY

The Internet has permanently and dramatically changed the buyer-seller relationship to the extent that some companies are moving away from the traditional commissioned sales model of compensation. But this is not the only reason; these same companies are valuing customer relationships as the key to success, with salary being the better method of fostering those relationships.

Will commissions still attract the best sales talent and drive business results? This depends upon many factors, and these factors are different for each company. For many companies, the commission model is still the best.

What will be interesting to watch is how the dynamic plays out and if new, hybrid models evolve.

Regardless of which method you use, customer acquisition is still Job 1. That’s why this Easy 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist can be a valuable tool. Download it now, using the link below.

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Image via Inc.com

The Art of the "Thank You," the Most Powerful Customer Acquisition Tool

  
  
  
You say, “Thank you.” They respond, “No problem.” Your “thank you” was a sincere expression of gratitude; their response was, well, nothing at best and an insult at worst.

Marketing blunder with no problem
You might have replied back with, “I’m glad that you didn’t have to trouble yourself,” but why stoop to their level?

MISSED MARKETING AND SALES OPPORTUNITIES

How many opportunities are missed because someone fails to say “thank you”? That’s the marketing and sales blunder-the lost opportunity to genuinely connect with someone.

One of the most memorial responses I have ever experienced, one that has set the standard for me ever since, was a receptionist who, when I asked to be connected to the manager, responded, “It will be my pleasure to connect you.”

I was blown away, and her tone set a very positive note for the conversation that followed.

DELIGHTING IN DELIGHTING YOU

Does this suggest a definition for service excellence? It does to me; it is taking genuine delight in delighting you.

If you want to experience the power of an attitude adjustment, just hold the door open for someone and when they say “thank you” say “my pleasure.” It draws a smile every time.

In her book, The Art of Thank You, Connie Leas explores the art of the written Thank You. She sees the habit of writing notes of gratitude as a healthy antidote to the greed and self-centeredness so prevalent today.


KEY TAKEAWAY

Learn the art of Thank You. You don’t need a beautifully designed website, tons of blog content, social media videos, or Big Data to make a positive, memorable impression. It’s as easy as showing delight with words like "thank you," “my pleasure” and “you’re welcome.”

And that, after all, may be your most powerful marketing tool.

If you would like a marketing tool of another variety, please download the Quick  20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist...with my thanks.

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Customer Acquisition Trifecta: LinkedIn, Elevator Pitch & Storytelling

  
  
  

Trifecta Customer Acquisition Winner IconWhat are the three most powerful, free tools for building your business and acquiring customers? It would hard to select anything but LinkedIn, the elevator pitch, and storytelling. So why not combine all three into a concise statement that you use consistently?


Location | Power | Focus

LinkedIn Profile: The Power of Location

The LinkedIn Profile section is the ideal strategic location for a description that combines the powerful emotional elements of a story and the laser-focused summary of an elevator pitch.

As of Q3 2013, LinkedIn has 259,000,000+ registered members worldwide (source: press.Linkedin.com). Many will be searching your profile before you call on them. They want to learn about your:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Company

They want to know:

  • What you do
  • Who recommends you and for what

They want proof of what you can do for them, and you are being vetted before you even speak a word.

In 9 Reasons Why You Must Update Your LinkedIn Profile Today (forbes.com) reason #9 is it’s the ultimate personal branding platform.

With all these strengths, the LinkedIn profile section is the ideal power location.
 

Storytelling: The Power of Emotion

The power of storytelling is one of this year’s amazing growth stories as more and more people discover its power to influence. Stories sell, better than facts and better than articles. And stories connect in compelling and believable ways that lifeless, soul-less documents and presentations cannot.

So become a great storyteller:

  • Insert yourself into each story
  • Insert emotion to energize the story
  • Use vivid words and action words that engage the mind

(Go here to learn the 10 Disciplines of Effective Storytelling


Elevator Pitch: The Power of Focus

To achieve a laser-like effect with your elevator pitch, focus on these three points;

  • Dollars: How you would create a better dollar situation.
  • Data: Document the improvement you can make with data.
  • Delta: Tell what’s going to change for the better.

See 6 Ideas to Elevate the Elevator Pitch from Forbes, Inc. and the Huffington Post.


KEY TAKEAWAY

Don’t just use LinkedIn, storytelling, and the elevator pitch independently - combine the strengths of each into a unique message that you tell in all places.

Wayne Breitbarth, a LinkedIn Expert, shared this message with me (on LinkedIn, of course); “…make sure your profile really tells the reader where you have been but more importantly where you are going and whether they should be a part of the journey or not.” And what better way to accomplish this than to use the customer acquisition trifecta.

Learn about more tools to use in concert with LinkedIn, storytelling, and the elevator pitch. Download the Easy 20-Point Customer Acquisition Checklist. Just click the image, below.

 

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Image: via trifectawritingchallenge.com

 

 

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