By Kellie D’Andrea
Building relationships is part of any business. Whether you are in business for yourself, represent a sales department or have an internal peer group. Your ability to cultivate long term relationships with your customers, both internal and external customers, is essential to your success.
Here are five strategies that keep your customers coming back for more.
*Over Promise and Over Deliver. Happy customers are more likely to remain happy if you are solving their problems and are going beyond the expected. I know the saying is “under promise and over deliver” , meaning don’t set high expectations with your customers so when you do deliver you look exceptional. I believe in Over Promising and Over Delivering. Make commitments that drive you and your team to do more than the expected. Raise the bar and deliver each time!
*Create value adds. Offering too many discounts or going back and negotiating down your price can cheapen your business and move your services into a commodity position. So instead of consistently discounting or reducing your prices, going the extra mile and offering “value adds” not only goes along way to create additional value, but provides you a place to negotiate if needed. For example, if you sell technology, perhaps create a special package that includes custom reports, or a bonus whitepaper that would interest your users.
*Follow up with your customers, often. Building relationships is about communication. Speak to your customers often. Follow up after you deliver a service or deliver that killer sales presentation. Check in once in a while and make sure they are happy with your service and learn what you can do to make it even more worthwhile for them to do business with you. Never assume you are doing enough and make sure that you are connecting in person versus email communications.
*Learn about your customers. Know the individuals who are giving you business. Take the time to explore who they are and what is important to them and find ways to support those interest. Business is conducted by people and sometimes we forget this simple point and we don’t share in the ways that truly build solid friendships.
*Show your customers appreciation. Your customers should not be treated like the general population. They should have a different set of communications specifically tailored towards them. I even go one step further and personally tailor each communication to the specific person I am reaching out to. Give them first glance at new programs or offering and don’t forget to thank them often.
Back in the day, the marketing 4P formula was all the rage. Marketers everywhere were focused on mastering Product, Place, Price and Promotion since back in the day, marketers ruled the world and controlled consumer purchases by mastering these elements in their advertising and media.
But with today’s advancements in technology, social media and mobile phones, there has been a paradigm shift in the world of marketing… the consumer now has control with the ability to compare prices and product differences in a click of a button; read or post reviews of millions of peers and access information on the road via their smart phones.
So, how do marketers remain competitive and differentiate their products and services. Simply, stop focusing on the 4Ps and move up the alphabet to the 5E’s
Go From Product to Experience
Classic marketing focused on the features and benefits of a product but with the shift, consumers are moving more towards experiences to make their purchases. It is about gaining a full understanding of your customer and how they make purchasing decisions. If you do not understand this basic requirement, you will never fully understand the customer journey. Think of the Apple Store concept. Apple customers can easily buy Apple products online or in other stores but often chose to buy directly from an Apple store, simply for the experience: A clean, well simple designed store, knowledgeable associates eager to share a tip, free education classes to master their products and an interactive experience to test all the features and functions of the latest and greatest gadgets. All wrapped around one single marketing message “Think Differently”.
Read more here
Go From Place to Everywhere
With online stores in the mix, the traditional buying methods are challenging so first to drive customers to your stores or to your business, you create a memorable experience but also offer convenience. Having to “go to” a store can often interrupt a person’s day unless they have another reason to go, if not, your job as a marketer is to connect with them when they are the most receptive to engaging with you. Most people conduct some research online to evaluate a product or to support a buying decision; smart marketers are playing in this space “everywhere”. They are found online, in reviews, partner with other sites. Make it easy for your customers to do business with you and make it easy for your product/services to be found.
Go From Price to Exchange for Value
Remember the days when you gave you customer a product and they paid you your price. To determine the price, marketers simply took a look at the cost of creating and marketing that product and added a multiplier for profit. Today’s markets need to understand the value of not only their products and/or services, but what it takes for a customer to give you their time, attention and engagement. What do you really bring to the table for your customers? What return can they expect from making an investment in your product? These are questions that every market today, needs to master.
From Promotion to Evangelism
In the past, the idea of promotion revolved around advertising your products or services via traditional channels: TV, Media, Ads, Billboards etc.., but today, the key is to get your customer’s talking about our brand every chance they get. With social media building communities of like minded customers, smart marketers are creating experiences and value that motivates their customers to share with others in their own networks. Studies have proven that word of mouth advertising is the best form of marketing. Don’t believe me, listen to your peers approach to marketing. You see this often with infomercials but more and more, you are seeing mainstream advertising offer more and more customer testimonials or stories of how the products have helped or supported them.
Go from Positioning to Expert
Our era was the start of the information age. With so much access to data and knowledge, our customers are looking to work with the best and most knowledgeable in that space. Smart marketers are positioning themselves as the thought leaders or experts in their industry. They are standing apart from the crowd by becoming pioneers and industry leaders.
Key to success is to tap into the passion and emotion of your brand that resonates with your core audience and build an experience that provides value, memories and community and watch your revenues soar!
Small-business owners run short of cash for many reasons. Understanding how the loan process works is half the battle to getting money from a bank.
When applying for a business loan you must remember that banks require assurance of repayment. Most importantly, a banker seldom possesses sole authority to approve a loan. The banker must sell the idea to the bank’s loan committee and he or she has no desire to look like a fool presenting a poorly conceived loan.
In addition, banks are heavily regulated institutions. Government authorities closely review loans to assure compliance with bank lending policies.
To avoid complications, many loan officers deploy strict suitability standards. They refuse to evaluate any circumstances beyond the basic measurements. You cannot obtain loan consideration from them if you don’t fit their narrow criteria.
The Right Banker
Consequently, your strategy for getting a business loan is to first interview loan officers before they start assessing your qualifications. This doesn’t entail asking specific questions about lending philosophy. It actually means taking stock of general demeanor. A banker with plenty of self-confidence is most apt to evaluate your loan proposal with a broad view using a personal sense about business matters.
Confident bankers listen to narratives about how a small business operates. They develop an appreciation for the system an entrepreneur uses to prevail in the market. These loan officers rely upon their experience in knowing if a loan applicant is sound. You can explain to such people how you expect to generate earnings for loan repayment.
A good first impression is imperative. You must substantiate your business plan. Demonstrate how your past strategies succeeded. Provide financial reports and understand their meaning. You need a balance sheet as well as a profit and loss statement. Use them to support your oral history of the business and description about current conditions. Determine some key financial ratios that define trends. Present a projection of cash flow from following your plan that reveals funds for repaying the loan. Describe why the loan proceeds will make more money for your company.
Explain the reason you are short of cash.
A banker will know if the cause is poor management. However, healthy businesses can have sound explanations for needing loans. Equipment breaks down at the wrong time. A sales slump sometimes occurs. Expansion opportunities arise when insufficient capital exists.
Remedies are available, but they require more than cash infusions. Reversals of misfortunes demand guidance by organized managers. Show that you have the skills and discipline required to effectively operate the business.
Every banker deals with countless people seeking loans who don’t even know where to find a financial statement.
Other applicants have financial statements but not a clue about what they mean.
A customer in possession of well-understood financial statements and a plan for loan repayment is so rare that it commands a banker’s full attention.
There are laptops, and then there are ultrabooks.
Ultrabooks are the new and smarter versions of laptops – thinner, lighter, just as sturdy and often offering the same system performance as your run-of-the-mill laptop.
They’re also just slightly more expensive with an average price tag of about $1,000.
They’re great as a business investment, even if you’re not always on the go.
New business ultrabooks, including the Dell XPS133 and HP Folio 13, offer the same benefits as space-consuming desktops.
Executives benefit from high-quality webcams, secure software, reliability and portability.
Ultrabooks continue to thrive, with a recent Consumer Electronics Expo showcasing 12 new models that continue to build upon a winning product that merges tablets with laptops – giving users the best of both worlds.
And this is why ultrabooks are a must-have investment for business owners.
The slim line between business and personal life, paired with an increasingly remote work environment, makes it an imperative for business owners to keep abreast with workflow and production through the aid of smart tech tools.
Ultrabook competitors range from netbooks to iPads and MacBook Airs.
Netbooks won’t give you the most bang for your buck, simply because of their limited application.
The iPad would be a better choice. It’s cheaper and offers the same functionality as a laptop, plus it grants users access to valuable business-savvy apps.
However, iPads are not ideal for an aggressive keyboard user. Macs also tend to be an unfamiliar operating system for many users.
Every business wants positive public relations, and a press release is a staple for making that happen.
The average major metro news desk receives hundreds of releases each day. So why do we only hear about a select few stories?
Aside from being poorly written or structured, releases fail when they’re too self-serving or too boring or when they lack a clear objective.
A good one-to-two-page release is preceded by a release date, contact information and a succinct headline.
The city, state and date should be identified, followed by the core content that delves into the "who, what, when, where, why."
Remember to use keywords to take advantage of SEO and database search filters.
Statements should be relevant to a larger industry or consumer group. Avoid generic messages, opting instead for a humanistic approach that includes elements that affect people.
Top releases will always do one or all of the following:
- Solve a problem or advance a solution
- Spot a trend and its application
- Reach out for a good cause
For good measure, schedule releases for a Monday, at least 14 business days in advance of your event or announcement – and follow up with a phone call to the appropriate reporter.
Since most businesses are trying to reach media giants, try localizing your story by offering a niche perspective and targeting local print, digital and broadcast media.
And don’t forget the bloggers. These days, bloggers can be just as influential as a publication.