With masses of Baby Boomers getting older and ready to exit their businesses, many owners of family-run businesses are having challenges handing over the reigns to their children.
In fact, according to findings from Pitcher Partners, Swinburne University and the Australian Research council, it’s a major issue. Over 75% of business owners have no exit strategy. (more…)
Chances are, right now you are planning to increase sales and profits in 2012. Here are some simple things you can do that will have a dramatic impact on the growth of your business.
1. Truly practice “customer love” – don’t just pay lip service to it.
We all know that the more we help others the more we help ourselves yet often when doing business, business owners and sales people can get so caught up in their heads worrying or thinking that they lose touch with the initiative that produces the biggest results for their business. It’s also the initiative that has the greatest impact on their own lives as well. It’s about heart-to-heart connection with people.
So – put in place training, procedures (whatever else you need) to ensure that every time your people interact with customers they do that from a viewpoint of how can I SERVE you, instead of “how can I sell you something” or “how can I get you to stop complaining”. When you are truly present with a person, and connect on a heart-to-heart basis, customer retention will increase and so will referrals and sales conversion rates. End result – happier people, happier bottom line, happier world. So …
2. Create a memorable customer experience at each touch point.
What are the various customer interaction points in your business? List them down and then be clear on the kind of experience that customers are currently having at each touch point. Then – identify how you can ensure they have a truly memorable experience at each of those touch points. These touch points might be when they first call you, when they order, when they visit your office, when they see your website etc. Ask yourself, “What can we do to create a truly memorable experience?” The key words are “truly memorable” – not just pleasant but something that truly touches their heart – makes them smile – makes them feel great about themselves – about doing business with you.
3. Connect, connect and connect.
In a world where consumers are craving experiences, Social Media rules. Nothing beats it for creating true connection with customers. It’s also an amazing opportunity for you to humanise your business so they can see your heart. Most companies use social media but the challenge is not many of them use it effectively. Many simply use it as a vehicle to post blog links and specials which has minimal impact. Instead, also spend some time getting a social media plan in place – one where you are interacting with customers, engaging them in conversations, uplifting them, making them laugh, inspiring them and most importantly, giving them a voice. That’s the key to creating a tribe. With the right automation systems and procedures in place, it is fairly easy to do and the return on investment is massive.
4. Remember “everything is energy”
That means sales is energy, marketing is energy, production energy and so on. The more positive the energy that your people and your company radiates the more customers will be attracted to your business – simple as that. This also applies to the energy behind your marketing – strategy, copy and design.
You can have the most perfectly written marketing campaign in the world but if the energy behind it is incongruent with your mission, the results won’t materialise. You can have a perfectly written marketing campaign but because it was written by someone in a negative or egoic frame of mind, this somehow shows up in the results. Instead, write from a space of happiness – a space of “how can I transform the lives of the reader”. When you do that, the results will dramatically improve.
5. Act on the principle “as above so below”.
In other words, your business is a reflection of YOU. If you’re unfocused personally, chances are the direction of your business is all over the place too. If you’re set in your ways, chances are your business is stagnant – not open to new opportunities. So – when you focus on becoming a better leader, your business magically changes for the better, and so will your clients’ attitude, your team and your profits.
6. Know how well your advertising and marketing is doing … really.
This one can be huge if you currently spend a fair bit on advertising. Many business owners/managers think that because an ad is producing responses that it must be working.
Just because an ad is producing responses and even producing sales it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s profitable. The only way to know is to measure it.
When I’ve asked clients this question, I’ve had many tell me that they know the ad/email etc. is turning a profit but when they actually measure it properly it isn’t. So – please don’t guess.
Measure it. Think cost per enquiry. Cost per appointment. Cost per new client. Profit per new client. Get rid of the activities that aren’t working and ramp up the spend on the ones that are.
If you’re running online advertising such as Google Adwords or Facebook Ads spend a little time getting the analytics software working so you can accurately measure results.
7. Test small changes and measure the results of these changes – just one at a time.
Testing and measuring pays off big time. We’ve enjoyed responses for clients that have doubled, quadrupled, tripled and more, just by employing testing measures. Online advertising in particular, is an amazing vehicle to facilitate that. It makes it easy for you to split test headlines and other elements of your marketing.
In terms of email marketing, make sure your email marketing program allows you to split test e-newsletters and email campaigns. Aweber allows you to do that and many other programs do. Some inbuilt CMS-based email solutions don’t. If you would like more info on testing you can find that in my “17 Fundamental Copywriting Truths” report. Just go to our Words that Sell website and on the top right hand side of the page, enter your email details to receive the free report.
8. Use an intelligent CRM
The more you know about customers and the more often you can connect with them, the greater your results will be. We all know that – trouble is, without the right systems in place it can be difficult ensuring this happens regularly. That’s why an intelligent CRM (customer relationship management) system is vital. It enables you to stay in touch with clients regularly and communicate with them on the topics that are important to them.
The more sophisticated the CRM is the more tailored and more specific your communications can be.
Let’s say you get gifted a whole bunch of Rugby tickets from a supplier. You know that it makes sense to invite some of your best clients but who to invite? With an intelligent CRM or contact management system you can simply search on hobbies and send out an email to A clients who are rugby fans.
“Jane, when you came into the store I remember you mentioning that you love the Rugby. Today, I received a bunch of free tickets to the next World Cup match. There’s a group of us going so I thought since you’re a fan, you might like to come along too, on us.”
Also, use it to tailor your marketing messages to specific client segments.
“Bob, I noticed that you purchased an Acme XYZ Widget from us two months ago. If you’re finding it difficult to keep it clean, Acme have just released a new XYZ widget cover which will do the trick.”
Sure, it takes a little time to get an intelligent CRM solution in place, but you’ll find the results are well worth the investment. One thing to consider though, make sure you find a CRM solution that integrates offline and online in an intelligent way. Office Autopilot is a great example of that. You can check it out at http://tinyurl.com/6tkdku2
9. Warning: Build strong foundations
If you have experienced meteoric growth in your business, spend some time looking at the delivery, fulfillment and customer management systems you have in place behind the scenes. What goes up must come down if you don’t have the infrastructure to support your growth. I’ve seen many a business explode in sales then quickly implode due because the wheels fell off behind the scenes.
“Giving” in business … a few years ago it was a dirty word or at best a “woowoo” kind of thing that either big companies or hippies would do. Today, more and more businesses are recognising that not only does is feel great making a difference in people’s lives, it also makes good financial sense.
As we enter 2012 we recognise that thriving in business isn’t about US vs THEM. Nor is it about chasing the buck at all cost. It’s about truly making a difference in the lives of the people we serve. And interestingly, the more we do that — the more love and compassion we share — the more it comes back to us in many wondrous and surprising forms, including financial gain.
This morning I received an email from an old friend and mentor, Paul Dunn who is the Chairman of Buy1GIVE1, an organisation that puts the business of giving on steroids. When I read his email and saw the level of impact they are having in the world, I was gob-smacked.
Buy1GIVE1 connects small business with worthy causes making it easy for its members to give in a tangible way — in a way where ALL the proceeds go to the intended recipients instead of getting eaten up in administration charges.
One of the really cool things that B1G1 does is it enables business owners to tailor the nature of their giving to their industry. For instance, a restaurant may donate a meal to a starving person in India whenever anyone dines in their restaurant. And the benefits of doing that have a ripple effect. Not only is that restaurant making a difference, but their customers also feel that eating at the restaurant means they’re helping make a difference to someone in need. And – of course, the recipient benefits greatly too.
Check out the email below to see the level of impact that this kind of giving is having in the world.
Because of our B1G1 Business Members and Partners, this is what we did together up to the end of 2011:
- 122,673 people received a nourishing meal
- 5,828,164 days of access to life-saving water was given to people around the world
- 191,436 days of accommodation was given to people affected by natural disasters or extreme poverty
- 16,655 children received an improved learning environment for a year
- 467,767 days of education support was given to children in need
- 11,396 children received computer education for a day
- 69,360 children in need received learning tools like text books and stationery
- 170,204 days of education and occupational training was given to disadvantaged people
- 3,967 children in need received a special gift
- 4,549 children received a special education program
- 7,839 days of support was given to social entrepreneurs
- 2,844 goats and other animals were given to families so that they can have income
- 550,121 days worth of support was given to farmers around the world
- 39,900 people received internet or phone connection for a day
- 344398 days of support was given to improve people’s health and well-being
- 182,843 square meters of rainforest was protected
- 14,936 trees got planted or adopted
- and more!
Amazing isn’t it? Being able to make a difference just by doing what we normally do in business is such a simple yet powerful idea. And it clearly makes a huge difference.
We can onlydo that thanks to people like you who play a part in and spread the word about B1G1.
We’re enormously privileged to be able to do what we do. And we’re truly grateful as we look forward to impacting at even higher levels in 2012 as word continues to spread.
Again, thank you.
With very best wishes for an amazing New Year ahead.
Chairman, Buy1GIVE1 (B1G1)
To read more about what B1G1 is doing in the world, check out their website at http://www.b1g1.com/.
If you’re frustrated with the never-ending battles with the competition, the tugs-of-war, the see-sawing of market supremacy, this could be the answer.
It happens in most industries … a swarm of companies fight head-to head for the same market, offering the same product or service, with little or no differentiation, in the hope to increase market-share and profits.
Price wars. Profits plummet.The battleground gets bloody.
What a day!
This morning I drove my children from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane to spend some time with their dad. It was pelting down, water over the road and water lapping against the bridges as we crossed them. For us, it was a little scary but more so it was an adventure. Then – I dropped the boys off and returned home, and my sense of adventure soon turned to an overwhelming sense of grief as I turned on the TV.
Like you, I saw footage of the devastation that had occurred in Toowoomba in particular, footage of a family in a vehicle in the last moments of their lives as they were washed down flood waters caused by the 8 metre inland tsunami.
What Do Your Customers Value?
Compare successful entrepreneurs with unsuccessful entrepreneurs and you’ll find that the biggest difference between them is their communications skills – or more specifically, their skills of persuasion.
Successful people have the ability to connect with others, to build warm relationships with others, and to persuade others to do what they want them to do.
The greatest business leaders, spiritual leaders AND government leaders of all time ALL have at least one thing in common. They were ALL masters of persuasion.