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marketing

for today’s economy

The industry’s “marketing masters” share their perspectives on how to stay on target for success How important is marketing your business, especially during these economic times? Have you invested more in marketing — or less? Marketing for the new economy requires a new approach. Perhaps it is the restructuring of your old ways; maybe it is starting something new. Regardless of your method, marketing plays an important role in the success of your business. First rule Keeping in mind that the first rule of all marketing is to gain someone’s attention, alternative and unusual marketing approaches can be very effective. Remember, the key to all marketing is the follow-up. So, only market to the number of people you can contact within a short time after your marketing programme is launched. And, because marketing needs to be an ongoing process regardless of the economy, and you have been consistently focusing on internal and external marketing projects, no additional marketing should be necessary. — Daniel T. Drubin, DC, managing partner ProPractice Partners Offer value Make sure that whenever asking for the order, you offer something of value — whether it is helpful information, a health tip, or an insider perspective. Besides invoking the Law of Reciprocity, offering something in exchange for beginning or resuming care, demonstrates that you are interested in the customer, not just their business. The classic business mistake of small businesses is to cut back on marketing and promotion when times get tough. While counter intuitive, this is the time to be more aggressive and to invest more to increase your exposure. — William D. Esteb, creative director Patient Media Inc. Build relationships The most effective way to market is simply by building relationships with new people. That means getting out and speaking to groups of people in the community, educating people in the workplace, and creating new relationships with business people as well. It is also very important to solidify relationships with existing clients so they stay, pay, and continue to refer others. — Michelle Geller-Vino, owner and president MGV Marketing Utilize the press Make maximum use of well-written news releases on subjects of interest to the general public. There is nothing better or more credible than a press release for getting your name and business information to the community in a way which positions you as the leading business in the community. Marketing is innovation. Tying oneself to the traditional methods, without exploring new, more-effective ways to reach your audience is poor business practice. — Patrick Gentempo Jr., DC, CEO and co-founder Chiropractic Leadership Alliance Inc. (CLA) 4

Specific targets More than ever we now need to target specific markets. This target marketing is especially important in these economic times because you must understand your customers and know the changes and challenges which they are going through. In this way you can better market to them, know what they can afford, and know what needs to be implemented and what can wait. — Lisa Goldberg, MD, executive director All Care Consultants Be creative The importance of marketing does not change during these lean economical times. You just have to find more creative ways of producing results with a skinnier budget. — Justin Jackson, owner 3DRX Inc.

“The importance of marketing does not change during these lean economical times” Referral-based marketing I feel that marketing is as important as ever during these economic times. I am still a big believer of referral-based marketing. You need to focus on the clients you have and find ways for their bringing in new clients for you — which can be done at a minimal cost. You can offer small gifts which help to encourage others to bring in their family and friends. Clients may be looking for ways to cut their costs, and this is an incentive for them to refer you to others. — Peter Madnick, vice president Health Visions Patient Education Company Strategic moves Find ways of increasing your visibility while trimming costs. Be strategic with advertising choices and always create synergy through a well-planned mix of advertising, promotions, and other marketing activities. Essential to the process is a current set of marketing plans which addresses your specific needs within the context of our changing economy. Remember, when everyone else is hunkering down waiting for the storm to pass, you have a golden opportunity to be noticed. — Alexis Parian, DC, principal The Parian Company Align internal systems Marketing is extremely important during these economic times and low-cost marketing opportunities focused on a system of generating more referrals from the families of your customers, are very effective.

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Make sure your internal systems and procedures are in line with what your marketing is saying, so that the people you do get into your workplace/business feel good about their choice and stay with you for life. — Eric Plasker, DC, president and CEO The Family Practice Inc. Be heard In the new economy, marketing is less about what you say and more about what your target actually hears. Learn about the needs and aspirations of your target group and provide value through each communication. Get back to basics and look at the difference between features and benefits. Benefits tell potential clients what results they can expect from using your product/service. To achieve a maximum impact, ensure that every message is benefit-focused. — Mark Sanna, DC, ACRB Level II, FICC, president Breakthrough Coaching Consistency pays off You have to market yourself now more than ever. People are still buying products and services — they are just more selective. To gain a greater market share you must continue to penetrate your market (with consistent marketing), and position yourself as the best at what you do, in order to attract the attention of people looking for the services/ products you can offer. — Len Schwartz, DC, president ChiroPractice Marketing Solutions

“the marketing plan for your business is a cornerstone of success” Gain perspective No matter what the economy is doing, whether it is in a downturn or an upturn, the marketing plan for your business is a cornerstone of success. It is important to look at marketing from a perspective of its purpose first and the process second. If you market your products/services without a clear purpose, you will spend more time, energy, and money than you need to and you will not get a desirable return on your investment. — Jeffrey Slocum, DC, president Learning Curves Long-term strategy Advertising is the amount of money a business sets aside to promote the business; marketing is the strategy which is developed to spend the advertising dollars wisely. Marketing your business is important, period. When a business is reactionary to bad times in its marketing strategy, costly mistakes are usually made. There needs to be a longterm strategy in place. It is not about how many resources you expend; it is how you spend those resources. — Joseph Ventura, DC, owner Ventura Designs www.billboard.com.na | info@billboard.com.na | +264 61 307773 | january_2012_janeiro | Billboard News Press

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Most sales calls follow a familiar pattern. Understand what it is and which selling techniques you need to use to get the sale. It’s a tough market out there and the competition to get the consumers to listen to you is intense. Your sales pitch may be made via email, over the phone, or in person. Whichever mode you choose, there are 5 essential ingredients in any selling message. Get them right and you have the perfect sales call:

1. Start with a formal greeting – Stand out from the crowd

and be different. Address the prospective customer formally with a “Good morning, Mrs. Nelson” or “Good evening, Mr. Jones.” Take fifteen to thirty seconds of your sales call to introduce yourself and your business and to tell the potential customer what you can do for them. Keep your introduction brief, but make sure that you mention a benefit from your product or service to get your prospect interested enough to continue with the conversation.

2. Listen to their needs – Once you have made the

introductions, it is time for you to find out what the customer needs. One of the most important selling techniques you can use is to ask questions relevant to your product or service and really listen to the answers. Don’t just hear the words they say, pay attention to the tone of their voice and body language, if you’re meeting them in person. You’ll have to learn to read between the lines to make an accurate assessment of their requirements.

3. Present your case – Now that you know what they want,

tailor your sales call to suit their needs. Emphasize the things they’ve indicated as important to them. If pricing is the key, see if you can offer a discount. If they compare your product with a similar one on the market, give them the reasons to choose yours over the other product. The important thing here is to zero in on what the customer is looking for and targeting it.

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4. Take action – Now comes the hard part, you have to

push the customer to take action. Typically, you’ll be faced with three scenarios:

• The Customer places the order and you can close the deal. This is the ideal sales call, and only happens in dreams!

• The Customer wants to think about it before making

the decision. Set up a follow up schedule – does the prospect need more information? If so, plan to send the required information the very next day. More time? If so, schedule a meeting/call for an appropriate day convenient to the prospect. If pricing is the problem, see if you can come to some sort of reasonable agreement. Keep varying these selling techniques based on the customer reactions.

• The Customer says NO. This is the hard part. What can

you do? Do not push. Find out the reasons why and if you cannot offer a solution, thank them for their time and move on. The worst thing you can do is hound them. Give them your contact information and let them know that you are available should they change their mind.

5. Follow up – This is a very crucial step which must follow the initial sales call, unfortunately most salespersons forget to take it. Regardless of the outcome of the discussion with prospective customers, a simple followup letter or email thanking them for their time is a must. Keep it short and upbeat. It will show both your company and you in a positive light and possibly, help to secure some future business, as well. This sales technique is not followed by most companies, but is a great way for you to go a step further than your competition.

Some of the selling techniques mentioned above may seem quite obvious, You may however, be surprised as to the number of salespeople who go on and on talking about their products without bothering to listen to the customer. Follow the pattern above to the letter and watch your closure rates go up!

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Want to receive some customer service tips which are low cost and effective? Look no further than our top ten list which follow:

1. Stay in contact: Ask customers if they want to be

updated on developments which might interest them. If your product is sophisticated and does not fall into the “impulse buy” category, the chances are that you will need to adopt a counselling approach to sell. In such a case, after every sale, do a follow-up with customers to see if they were satisfied with their purchase.

8. Listen to your customers: This is one of the most

powerful of our customer service tips. Hear what they have to say. Sometimes, customers may say one thing but mean another. Pay attention to their body language and the tone of voice, not just the words.

9. Always keep your promises: Make promises sparingly,

and keep them faithfully, no matter what it costs. Do not promise the customer anything you cannot deliver. If you tell your customer you will call at a particular time, do it even if the requested merchandise is not yet available.

2. Create a customer focus group: Get ten to twenty of

10. Never forget what it’s like to be a customer: The most

3. Resolve customer complaints quickly: Answer all

By following these simple customer service tips which we have put together for you, you will be creating a loyal customer base which will return to you time and again. One satisfied customer is equivalent to many marketing dollars in terms of a favourable word-of-mouth recommendation! Remember the words of Sam Walton (Founder of WalMart):

your most loyal customers to meet regularly. Encourage them to give ideas and recommendations on how to improve your company’s customer service levels. customer complaints immediately whether by e-mail, in person or by way of a phone call. If possible, you, as the owner of the business, should personally make sure that problem is sorted out.

4. Be easily available: Give your customers as many ways

as possible to contact you. Allow them to reach you 24x7 via e-mail. Offer toll free numbers for phone and fax contacts.

5. Treat your clients well: Send thank you gifts to long time

important tip is to always remember that you are a customer too! Treat your customers as you would like to be treated.

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

buyers. E-mail online greeting cards on holidays or birthdays. Be flexible about the way you deal with every customer, Each one has different concerns, needs and wishes.

6. Be polite to your clients: Never, ever lose your cool with a customer. Be polite to them even if they are annoyed with you. A smiling face and comforting words will go a long way in soothing frayed nerves. Admit your mistakes quickly and always apologize.

7. Build strong relationships with your customers: Invite

them to company meetings, luncheons, workshops or seminars. It will make them feel important when you include them in regular business operations and special events. www.billboard.com.na | info@billboard.com.na | +264 61 307773 | january_2012_janeiro | Billboard News Press

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Our article on time management are for those of you who wish that there were 48 hours in a day. Do you find that your ‘to-do’ list is frequently left untouched? Managing time effectively is one of the key challenges for a successful entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, you do not usually have the luxury of a large army of employees, who are focused on clear-cut tasks. You probably juggle numerous roles yourself and find it nearly impossible to do justice to them all. Time is one of your most important resources and there are ways of stretching it usefully. Our article on time management will teach you how to handle time. Before you read them however, understand the basic principles of time management: Break it up: Break up your large tasks into small and manageable ones. Start by estimating the effort needed to accomplish a particular job. Write out a sequence of activities which are needed in order to complete it, along with an estimate of how long each will take. Now take them on one at a time, and periodically monitor how much time you are actually taking, compared with the plan. This is a very important part of time management, and with practice you will be able to get it right! Prioritize your work: List out all the tasks you must carry out to achieve your goal and put them in order of importance. This enables you to tackle the most important and beneficial jobs first. If there are too many high priority jobs, you will either have to rearrange your schedule or delegate some of the work. This helps you to focus on doing things which are really critical.

Plan the unplanned: Things rarely turn out the way we intend them to. Keep aside some time for those inevitable crises. Often not budgeting for those extra hours might itself create a crisis! Keep an activity log: We have already talked about the need to monitor progress. You can do this by maintaining an activity log, which helps you track the way you use your time - how much time are you actually spending on productive work and how much time are you wasting? Are there any tasks which could be done in a more efficient way? The goal of time management is to answer such questions. Analyze the log at the end of each project to identify possible areas of improvement. Make reminder lists: Unless you have the memory of an elephant, it is unlikely that you will remember everything which you need to do. Make a to-do list for the day or week. This will ensure that you don’t forget to do anything or worse, miss that all important customer appointment! Do the unpleasant bit first: Procrastination is the biggest obstacle to effective time management. We all have our pain points, and it is only natural to put-off those jobs for as long as possible… or when they will probably blow up in our faces. Discipline yourself to do at least one “unpleasant” task each day, and watch the results. Ease your work plan: Hey, good time management is not only about work. Make sure you have set some time aside for your personal life as well. It’s amazing how you can improve your effectiveness at work by striking the right balance.

The 80:20 rule says that 80% of unfocused effort generates only 20% of results and the remaining 80% of results are achieved with only 20% of the effort! 34

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Transactional leadership is often practiced by entrepreneurs in tough situations. As a leader of a growing business, one of your prime concerns is how to balance organizational goals along with managing and motivating your employees. As the ranks grow, this question becomes all the more important. There are different types of leadership styles, some more appropriate in certain situations. If you have worked for another company before you turned entrepreneur, the chances are that you will have experienced some form of leadership previously. If the lasting image of one of your ex-bosses is that of a militaristic figure who liberally employed the carrot and stick approach, you know what we are talking about! The essence of a transactional leader is that people are motivated by reward and punishment. Leaders who favour this style create defined structures including a clear chain of command. They work on the assumption that once a deal is struck between boss and subordinate, all authority passes on to the former, while responsibility rests with the latter. What rubbish, you say! Before you decide to skip the rest of this piece, let us caution you against scepticism. Despite extensive research highlighting the drawbacks of this sort of leadership, it’s still in frequent use. Sometimes when you need quick results, it is the best tactic to use. Although it should not be used too frequently So, what makes this sort of leader tick? What are their tools of trade? Take a look. Transactional leadership involves the use of external motivators. A leader is quite likely to say things like “do this or else…”. Not surprisingly, this leader is often dominating. Such a leader is also the type which believes in taking swift action. Some of the tricks they employ could be:

Enjoyment: Convince the subordinate about how he or she will enjoy complying with a certain instruction. Yeah, right! Coercion: That’s more like it. Why bother with pretences, when you can use outright force. Reward: A less evil approach no doubt, but it is fundamentally flawed in the assumption that people are only motivated by tangible benefits. Legitimacy: Establish “divine right” to enforce a decision by stressing on the correctness or legality of the same. Who are we kidding? Reciprocity: Call in a favour, remind them of past kindnesses, if nothing else works. Transactional leaders work within existing boundaries. They are not effective change agents, because the very essence of this style is quiet acceptance of a situation by the followers. This sort of leader has a short term view. He’s most likely caught in day to day affairs with no thought for the bigger picture. Being a tactician by nature, he or she is likely to fire fight symptoms instead of looking to solve the underlying problem. Followers are understandably very concerned with position and power play. And finally, they are completely focused on the bottom line! This may be hard to swallow, but it’s a fact that every leader uses transactional leadership to a greater or lesser degree. That is only natural because an “exchange process” is a very fundamental part of any employee /employer relationship. As a leader, you have to be careful about employing such tactics all of the time, because quite clearly this will not work in your organization’s long term interest.

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Billboard January 2012  

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