Posts tagged ‘LinkedIn’

Your business’ secret to success: do one thing and do it right

Colonel Sanders was a master of business. He took a product that virtually everyone in the south made for themselves — fried chicken — and decided to sell his own version. The Kentucky Colonel outfit, the secret recipe, the bucket, and his self-promotion all contributed to his uniqueness and aura. However, his true secret to success was a simple philosophy: do one thing and do it right. He made better fried chicken than anyone else, and he focused all his efforts on building the business around his flagship product. His plan was to start small, gain a reputation, and establish a toehold in his local Kentucky community. From there, he wanted to conquer the fried chicken world, and use his market dominance as a springboard for other complementary products. Of course, we all know the rest of the story; his plan worked to perfection and the chicken industry has never been the same.

What’s the lesson that other companies can learn from the Colonel? Determine what your biggest strength is and focus your efforts on that. Perfect your product/service, establish a great reputation, use your revenues to invest in the company, and build your empire. Many companies try to become jacks-of-all-trades, but instead become masters-of-none. This mistake goes back to a previous discussion about market sizing vs. market segementation. It’s better to dominate a small market and branch out into other markets in time, rather than become a bit player in a larger, more competitive market. This approach will focus your internal resources in the places that maximize your profit potential, put your marketing communications plan on a path towards great success, and send a message to competitors that you have your priorities straight.

Don’t let the goatee fool you… Colonel Sanders was a brilliant businessman and a master marketer. Now go out there, focus on the one thing at which you’re best, and fry the competition!

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June 22, 2009 at 12:23 am 1 comment

Capitalize on your brand equity to gain market share

Frank Sinatra had a Vegas-inspired song called “Luck Be A Lady.” One of the lines in the song is:

“Stick with me, baby, I’m the guy that you came in with.”

In many ways, marketing is like Lady Luck that ol’ Blue Eyes is singing about, especially when it comes to branding. This is one of the trickier subjects to explain to someone new to marketing. In a nutshell, branding is the sum total of experiences and perceptions that a company has with its customers, competitors, and marketplace. The tactical elements of marketing — websites, brochures, advertising, etc. — are physical manifestations of branding. There’s also something called brand equity, which is not only a perceived value of a brand, but it can also be a tangible value. In fact, many organizations carry their brand as an asset on their balance sheets, with an actual dollar amount attached to it. Google has the highest brand value in the world, which is estimated to be worth more than $100 Billion. Software giant Microsoft has the second highest rated brand in the world, worth over $76 Billion.

There’s a reason why I mention these two examples together. You’ve undoubtedly noticed the “Bing” logo at the top of the entry. You may also be asking yourself, “what the hell is Bing?” As it turns out, Bing is the newest incarnation of Microsoft’s search engine, renamed from Windows Live Search. In my opinion, Microsoft made a big mistake and squandered a golden opportunity. They took one of the most high-profile aspects of the Internet (search engines), went up against the 800-pound gorilla, and didn’t take advantage of the Microsoft brand equity. Even worse, when you go to the Bing home page, the Microsoft name is nowhere to be found, so they can’t springboard their new brand off the established Microsoft name. How can you realistically pit a $100 Billion brand against a brand with zero equity? Frankly, you can’t. Microsoft doomed Bing to the ash heap of history before it even launched, just like another one of their infamous failures. The rest is just an exercise in futility.

What’s the lesson here? The Microsoft branding team should have told the Bing team, “stick with me, baby, I’m the guy that you came in with.” The only thing left is a roll of the dice and the hope that Lady Luck is on their side. I wouldn’t bet on it.

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June 15, 2009 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

Promote your products with case studies and success stories

Quick… name your most effective salesperson. Nope, it’s not your high-performing outside rep who’s made quota for the past five years. Guess again…

It’s your customers.

Your sales and marketing teams can talk about your products and value propositions until they’re blue in the face, but a company’s spokespeople talking about themselves will always lack a certain amount of credibility. A customer, however, is an independent organization that has chosen you over your competitors, and carries genuine credibility and legitimacy. Their word-of-mouth endorsement can easily land a sale. How can you capitalize on this loyal group of enthusiastic supporters? By asking them to participate in a case study or success story. There are benefits for everyone:

  • For your company – you can promote big name customers and add instant recognition via case studies, success stories, YouTube videos, and press releases
  • For your customers – gives them a great opportunity to co-brand with your company. In addition, references and links to their website will help increase their organic search results.
  • For your salespeople – provides fantastic sales tools to further build your company’s customer base
  • For your future customers – takes the guesswork out of purchasing and enables them to confidently make a decision based on the results of current customers

But you don’t have to take my word for it… you can read my success stories and see what I mean. Don’t blow your own horn, let your customers do it for you. Toot toot.

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June 11, 2009 at 1:34 am Leave a comment

Secrets to a great webinar – Part 3

Here’s the third and final segment to running a successful webinar. In the first two parts, we discussed some helpful hints and best practices for preparing and presenting your webinar. Today we’ll discuss what you should do after your webinar to help you achieve your desired goals.

  1. Always have a post-webinar discussion. In Part 2, I discuss the fact that you always want to make your webinars one hour long. However, many times you’ll find several attendees that want to talk beyond the stopping time. No problem. Invite those folks to stay on the line for a post-webinar discussion, which can last as long as they want. You have a motivated, interested, and invested audience just sitting there, waiting for the next step, so take advantage of it.
  2. Have a demo, sample, download, and trial ready to go before the webinar starts. Assume that every attendee will want to take the next step (“Call To Action“) and be prepared to share/send your customary giveaway, whether it’s a demo, product sample, software download, online catalog, etc. Webinars are all about capitalizing on the buzz of the moment, so be sure to accommodate the needs of your attendees without making them work for it or making them wait.
  3. Measure. This goes all the way back to the first point I made in Part 1: Determine your goals. Keep track of attendees in your sales management system, and actively track their activity over time. Depending on your products and sales cycles, the realization of your goals may either be immediately known, or it may take some time to determine. Either way, be diligent and keep accurate records of interactions, activities, and purchases.

I hope you found this series to be helpful, interesting, and entertaining. If done correctly, webinars can be tremendously beneficial for lead & revenue generation, and can set you apart as an industry thought leader. With proper planning, goal-setting, and execution, you may find yourself taking your company to the next level faster than you thought possible. If you’d like more information, or would like to utilize a consulting firm to help you with your webinar needs, please contact me directly or though our web form.

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June 10, 2009 at 12:58 am Leave a comment

Secrets to a great webinar – Part 2

Part 1 gave helpful pointers about what you should do before your upcoming webinar. Part 2 of this three-part series explores some tips and tricks that will help you get the most out of your webinar during the presentation. You’ve done your homework, you’ve worked hard on your delivery, and you have your audience captive. Here’s how to make the most of this opportunity.

  1. Utilize a solid, industry-standard, universally accepted technology. Under no circumstances can you half-ass this. Your image and perception will be defined just as much by the production of your presentation as the presentation itself. No matter how pure your intentions are, it won’t mean Jack Squat if the technology fails. Do yourself a favor and invest a couple bucks in a known, proven commercial product. Here are my recommendations:
    • DimDim. This is a fairly new open source technology that works great and is gaining a large following. Free for up to 20 people, which is perfect for small or one-on-one webinars. If you need something a little larger, you can present to 50 people for just $25 for a month. These are the month-to-month, no commitment prices; the longer-term commitment prices are even lower.
    • WebEx: The whole world knows and uses WebEx, so you can’t go wrong if you choose them. They’re a bit pricier, but still dirt cheap in the grand scheme. They are also your technology of choice if you have a really large webinar. For $69 for a month (again, this is the month-to-month price) you can present to as many as 1,000 people. Frankly, if you’ve managed to assemble 1,000 people to attend your webinar, you can’t afford not to get WebEx.
  2. Always make your webinars exactly one hour long. This is a standard length of time. Any shorter and it may feel rushed. Any longer and it starts to feel like a Fidel Castro speech to your attendees.
  3. Never, ever be late. Be respectful of people’s schedules, so never start late, and never end late. ‘Nuff said.
  4. Make it an open forum, not a closed sales pitch. After all, the purpose of the webinar is to develop leads, build your pipeline, and increase sales opportunities. Give your attendees the chance to ask questions and participate, which will make them more engaged and desirous to learn more. Do what you would naturally do if you were giving an in-person sales presentation.
  5. Survey. This is a step that many webinar hosts forget to do. Before you finish, ask your attendees to complete a short survey regarding what they liked/disliked, whether they found the information to be worthwhile, if they’d recommend this to a friend, and whether they have additional questions. And make sure you capture their contact information. If they’ve stuck with you for the entire hour, chances are very good they’re hot leads, so you’ll get a very high survey completion rate. If they’ve asked to be contacted, follow up with them as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours.

Tomorrow – Part 3, which will focus on what to do after your webinar has concluded. Stay tuned!

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June 9, 2009 at 12:16 am 1 comment

Secrets to a great webinar – Part 1

Several of you have asked me about webinars: what they are, how to conduct them, how to attract an audience, and how to generate revenue from them. Every industry is a bit different, which means there’s no magic answer, but there are some fundamentals you should follow to maximize the effectiveness of your efforts. There are plenty of places to go online that explain the nuts and bolts of webinars, so I’d like to focus on best practices and tricks of the trade I’ve obtained through years of experience.

This is a pretty lengthy topic, so I’m going to break it up into three parts: what to do before, during, and after your webinar. Today we’re going to focus on what to do before.

  1. Determine your goals and define “success. The importance of this activity cannot be overemphasized. Without goals, there’s no way to determine whether you’re doing the right thing or the wrong thing. Goals can be as concrete as website visits and revenue, or as abstract as brand awareness, lead generation, and industry leadership. Either way, predetermine your goals and define “success” as the attainment of those goals.
  2. Give attendees a month to get it in their calendars. Everybody’s busy, so the longer lead time you give people, the more likely they’ll attend. Let me put it another way… if you want to guarantee your failure, send out an invitation three days before the webinar.
  3. Invite a friend. Whichever webinar technology you use, be sure that it has a “invite a friend” function. You can expect 1/3 to 1/2 of your attendees to be invited friends, who will in turn invite their own friends. Set the viral marketing beast loose.
  4. Utilize Webinar Central or another webinar aggregator / directory to help promote your event. Let the web do the work for you. Along with inviting your colleagues, prospects, and customers, open the webinar to anyone that wants to attend (unless, of course, you’re presenting proprietary information). After all, the name of the game is ‘butts in the seats,’ so do everything you can to ensure this.
  5. If at all possible, use someone with a good radio voice. Monotone and mushmouth presenters can make an hour feel like an eternity, and all value in your message can be lost. You don’t need to hire Ryan Seacrest, but your presenter should have the ability to change tone, alter pitch, understand the value of pauses, and be engaging and conversational.
  6. Practice. I know that practice takes time and it’s no fun. But listening to a presentation that’s never been rehearsed beforehand is one of the more painful experiences one can endure. It gives attendees the impression that you’re unprofessional, unprepared, even uncaring. On the other hand, a well-rehearsed presentation sounds great, looks great, and puts the presenter and his/her company in the very best light. The question you have to ask yourself: if I were a potential customer listening to me, what would be my impression, and would I feel confident to buy from this person?

Tomorrow, Part 2: What you should do during your webinar.

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June 7, 2009 at 10:43 pm 1 comment

Leads and prospects and customers, oh my!

(Sung to “If I only had a brain” from the Wizard of Oz)
I’d could use my time much better, create a great newsletter
And plant some prospect seeds,
I could share our comp’ny vision
Help them make a ‘buy’ decision
If I only had some leads.

Yes, it’s another original adaption from yours truly. I’m willing to take full credit because, heck, nobody else wants to claim that crap as their own.

I’ve noticed a lot of people using the terms lead, prospect, and customer interchangeably, so I thought I’d take today to explain the differences between them. Once you speak the language, and understand the differences, it makes a lot more sense. It is also another way for me to build the kumbaya bridge between sales and marketing. Here we go:

  • Suspect – not a generally used term, but a suspect is defined as a person that may be in the market for the types of products and services your company (and your competition) produces. Is is essentially a superset of all your potential customers. You may not know who they are, and they may not know who you are, but they are out there, waiting to be discovered. You need to connect with suspects, or have them connect with you, in order to convert them into leads.
  • Lead – this is someone who is in the market for the types of products and services your company produces. They may specifically know about your company, you may know who they are, or both. They have expressed either a specific or general interest, and have provided contact information about themselves. Depending on their needs, budgets, and timelines, leads are traditionally classified as cold, warm, and hot.
  • Prospect – defined as a lead who has passed the initial qualification (in other words, they are a real person who exists) and is currently being engaged in some way, depending on their needs. In sales/CRM terms, if an ‘estimate’ or ‘opportunity’ is created for a lead, the lead becomes a prospect. The level of contact a prospect receives ranges from an occasional email or phone call to an in-person demo or pilot project.
  • Customer – occurs when a prospect makes a purchase decision. Once a company receives money (or, in sales/CRM terms, a ‘sales transaction’) from prospects for their products and services, those prospects are officially converted into customers. Bring the money, honey.

I’m taking some badly needed vacation time this week, so I won’t be writing any blog entries until next Monday. Until then, have a great week, thank you for your continued support and comments, and we’ll start fresh on Monday. Hasta luego.

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May 31, 2009 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

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