Does the car you drive matter in small business?

A couple of months ago I had a business meeting with someone that was trying to sell me on a project; I met them at a restaurant that they picked.  They pulled up in an old Toyota that was badly in need of a wash, and the bumper was dented and had paint marks all over it.  Does this matter?  I think that it does.  Everything about you matters when it comes to business; from the way you dress to the car you are driving. Continue reading

Brand Building through Customer Loyalty

In business we often talk about branding and how to capture customer loyalty over the competitors and there is two major ways that this can be done; one is branding the product itself, the other is branding the company.  When it comes to branding a product you need to do something that makes a product that is similar to the competition stand out. For example, zip lock potato chips; the product is the same but the packing is unique;  you need something that differentiates your product from the competitors.  The other option is branding your company itself; companies that have various products often go this route in order to create customer loyalty to the company as a brand; they do this so that when they gain a customer’s loyalty it is not simply for one product but for the company overall.  When you are shopping if you are loyal to Johnson & Johnson, they make hundreds of products, so you may purchase a variety of products simply because you trust this brand. Continue reading

Your future depends on mind share, not market share

Every business small to large has a goal of capturing market share of the market they are in; this is true across all verticals and industries.  This is not something new, this has always been the case.  This is taught in business schools across the globe, what is not talked about often or enough is “Mind Share”.  Many ask what mind share is.  Mind share is having your brand come to mind when thinking of a product rather than your competitors; how do you do this?  You have to get into target markets head, you have to understand them; how they think, what they want, why they want it, when they want it.  To be successful in marketing you really need to be a part-time psychologists, you must have the ability to understand how your customer thinks. Continue reading

Without Customer Service, Sales are irrelevant

If you have ever spent any time in the operations side of a company than you know that every meeting the topic of sales comes up; and it should because without sales there aren’t any customers, and obviously without customers there isn’t a business. If anyone has ever seen the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross than you have probably heard the sales acronym ABC – Always Be Closing. It’s true no matter how many customers you have, no matter how much money you’ve made as an organization you are only as good as your last quarter, so you always need sales, you always need to be closing. Continue reading

Does NO have a different meaning for some people?

Have you ever wondered if the words that are coming out of your mouth sound different to some people?  Have you ever had a client who waited until the last minute to order a product or service and even though they wanted it the next day you had to explain that it wasn’t possible to get it that quick, then you and I probably have something to talk about over a beer. I’ll meet you at happy hour.

Being in the marketing business I cannot tell you how many times I have had a client order a marketing campaign and say they needed it out the very next day, and having to explain to them that it cannot be done that fast and tell them it would be two days or three days, whatever the case is, and sure enough the very next day they are calling asking if it is going out today.  I have had customers order an email list or mailing list and want it the next day, and I have had to explain to them that it takes time to pull a list and that production pulls them in the order that they come, and that the normal delivery is two business days and the very next day they call asking for their list. Do the words coming out of my face sound like this? ^$^&*_+(*^$^%()_(_(_(_^%$?  Sometimes I feel like I need one of those universal translators like they have on Star Trek.

The customer is always right, right?  Wrong.  Sometimes it is necessary to be firm but professional with a client and tell them that this is your procedure, and that calling every day is not going to make it any faster.  If this does not work and it is a regular customer don’t be afraid to tell them you cannot take any more orders from them.  Sometimes it is necessary to”fire a customer”.  Now that may seem a bit extreme and is not something I would recommend every time a client irritates you because you will end up with no clients.  But it is necessary on occasion.  I once had a client that ordered a list at the end of the day and I told him two days, and the very next morning we came into the office with emails to every email address he could find, messages on every extension and after calling him and telling them that not only wasn’t this necessary but not acceptable and still he kept calling every few hours over the next day and a half.  After I delivered his list I politely advised him we would not be able to fill any of his orders in the future.  This was a case where the money was not worth the hassle.  So sometimes it’s okay to give the client the ax.  Sometimes you have to put up with a lot of crap as a business, and before you do anything you need to measure the hassle verse the profit and ask yourself if it is worth it.  I have often found though that just being direct, firm but professional and explaining how you feel and how things work will often nip the problem in the bud without having to lose the client.