Category Archives: Process

Translating Data Into Decisions

by Jenna Smith

Business is not an art, nor is it a discipline. It is a science. Certainly factors play into it that don’t typically bleed into science much, such as economics and the opinions of the public. But at the end of the day a good business does research, interprets this research, then looks at the best possible outcome to make the most money. Sometimes though it can be hard to process all this raw data into decisions, which is where data analysis comes in.

Though it may be over simplifying things a bit, at the end of the day most data gathering and analysis can be broken down into research and development, or R&D. Research involves gathering as much relevant data as possible. Not all of this are polls and statistics based on the customer base. Though knowing what your customers want and think of you is important, there are other factors at work.

The expenses you can expect if you take a certain action is also something that must be looked into, as well as the number of forms and time it would take to build a new site and so forth. In the end, whenever there is a question asked, it is the job of those in research to go out and gather as much data on the answer as possible.

Here is where it gets tricky. Development, using it in the loose term, must then wade through the data and find the optimal solution. This is not nearly as easy as it sounds, as though sometimes data lines up neatly, sometimes it conflicts. For instance, surveys show that a very vocal minority of the customer base won’t shop at your store unless you stock product X.

However, product X would have approximately half of the profit margin that the product it replaces has. The question then is how many other products would the customers buy if they came into buy X, which requires sorting through more data. In the end, sometimes you need advice from professionals, such as LexisNexis data analytics.

Think of all the business blunders of recent history. Odds are most of them were because either there was not enough data or the data was misinterpreted. Both gathering and correctly interpreting data is vital for any businesses health, great or small. Just focusing on your bottom line or making your customers happy and you will fail.

How to Manage Your Social Media Marketing Experience

I thought I had my social media world all figured out.  But that was before it got complicated and I lost track with what was really important.  Before long – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — none of it seemed to have any purpose.  Even though I had policies and processes for what to do — I wasn’t as clear as to what my goals were with my social media strategy anymore.

Scott Allen’s Virtual Handshake and Social Media for Small Business Series to the Rescue

I hate to admit that my social media strategy had gotten away from me.  In fact, until I took the last couple of webinar sessions with OneCoach and Scott Allen — I thought my strategy was just fine.  But what I really learned was how important it is to make sure that you are clear on your marketing objectives, marketing strategy and how each social media and social networking tool is going to help you get there.

Enter The 7 Keys

In the Virtual Handshake (you can get a digital copy here)  Allen discusses the 7 Key Characteristic of a killer network that will help you focus your strategy.

  • Character – How credible are you?  Do you give more than you take?  Do you inform or sell?
  • Competence – Are you really an expert? Do you deliver?
  • Relevance (to your short-term business objectives) – Make sure that the people in your network mesh with what you’re up to.  Don’t just go for quantity of people, make sure that they add quality to your network
  • Information – This refers to the quality and quantity of information about the people that you have in your network.  In a sales classic “Swim With the Sharks”  Harvey Mackey talks about his 66 question customer profile.  The more of the 66 questions you have answered, the higher the likelihood that they will buy from you.  Still valid in the world of social media :)
  • Strength – I like to call this loyalty or maybe obedience.  If you ask your network for something, how strong is your influence?  How likely are they to follow or take action on what you say?  A high response rate to your message makes a strong network.
  • Number – How many?  If you’re in a consumer business such as a restaurant or an online business, you’ll want a large number of people in your network.  But they still have to be interested in your offer and be relevant.
  • Diversity – Of course, it’s also good to have a nice mix of people in your network.  Diversity of network improves the level of conversation.

Allen recommends choosing about two of these keys to focus on, then set goals around those characteristics and choose set your social media strategies and tactics to align with those strategies.

What I’ve Done as a Result

It became VERY clear to me that I was spreading myself too thin and across communities that weren’t as relevant to my business goals.  For example – it makes complete sense for me to have a large number of marketing people in my community, but my DIYMarketers site is targeted to CEOs with no marketing department – and that means that I’m now spending MORE time on LinkedIn and more time in communities like Bizmore and FOCUS where more business owners hang out than marketing folks.  This was a huge help in how I managed my time.

How have you prioritized your social media strategies and tactics?  What tools or tips have you got?

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What Have We Learned About Social Media ROI?

We’ve spent the last few years getting our feet wet with social media tools.  This year, it’s time to make all that learning pay off.  I got this cool presentation link from my social media measurement guru, Adam Henderson.

I love this fun presentation about social media ROI.  There are so many things to learn here:

  • Social media is a marketing tool and not a toy.
  • I think of social media as being in the PR family – it builds brand and reputation and gives you the opportunity to put stories and a human face on your company
  • It has spawned a new “Manager” to add to your team – the social media manager.  Doing it right requires time and effort.
  • All is worth NOTHING (I like to say the big ‘Nishta’) if you’re not making money and generating customers.
  • You have to know what to measure: transactions, new customers and dollars per transaction

What have you learned from social media and ROI this year and what will you do with it in 2010?

The Trend for More Interaction Leads to Cool New Apps

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The more technology we adopt that separates us from others, the more we yearn to connect with others.   Just walk into any Starbucks or WiFi hot spot and you will see a good number of people sitting alone with their laptop, blackberry or iPhone and connecting with who-knows-how-many people in cyber space.   Then there are those that are chatting with a group – then quickly use a PDA to connect with someone else and even bring them into the conversation.  In so many ways we are physically less connected – yet in so many more ways, we are virtually and digitally more connected – and still wanting more. Humans are social animals so it’s not surprise that we keep coming up with cool new ways to connect.  So, I thought I’d start a list of some I’ve noticed and encourage YOU to share how YOU connect virtually with any of your communities. TweetChat is an application that I just recently discovered.  It’s a simple way to follow a conversation event and contrubute to the conversation.  Just loging to TweetChat with your twitter ID and password.  In the field on top, just enter the “room” you want to enter.  For example, on Monday morning at 11:30 am you would got to http://tweetchat.com/  and enter #DIYMKT in the space above.  Then TweetChat will show you all the conversations with that hashtag. tweet-chat-room TweetGrid: This is another cool application you’ll love if you’re trying to manage multiple conversations during your Turbo Tweet session.  The best feature is the ability to see everything at once and update from multiple accounts. tweet-grid-pic I’d encourage you to try these out and join a few tweetchats about topics that you are interested in. It’s truly the cool new way to use Twitter in a more focused practical way.  You’ll be able to network, get resources, share your expertise (promote your product or service) as well as get real insight into how other people in your community do what they do.

How to Design a Survey to Help Make Management Decisions

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Should I Stay or Should I Go?  To be or not to be?  Who am I?  Some of the great questions of all time.  Yet when it comes to answering some of our own burning questions we often feel just as stumped as the great philosophers.  Most businesses do one of two things, they look inside their organizations and come up with some answers, or they ask outside the organization.

There are so many online survey tools and templates out there that you might feel tempted to just take one, adapt it and run with it.  Don’t.  Take a few minutes to think it through and do it right.  It will save you more time and effprt than you could imagine.

Here are some guidelines for figuring how to get the right information to make the best management decisions.

  1. Set Your Objectives.  Put simply, be clear about the decision you’re trying to make.  Set criteria for your decision i.e. if more than 60% of our customers prefer product X, we will launch this year. Another way to put this is what do you want to learn? 
  2. Who will you ask?  This is an important decision.  Don’t just default to every customer.  Choose your respondents carefully?  If you’re trying to find out how people buy, then you want to be sure to include everyone in the buying decision – that could mean marketing, purchasing, engineering, etc.  Ask profile qualifying questions to be sure that you’re targeting the people that can provide the best, most honest feedback.
  3. What vehicle will you use to get the answers and in what order.  Don’t just throw together a survey and launch it.  Think about doing some in-depth-interviews or focus groups to test the different questions you’re considering asking.  This is the best time and money you will ever spend.
  4. Develop your questions.  BEFORE you go out and start using the pre-designed templates out there, outline your survey questions.  Plan out the survey like you would a road trip.  Think about what qualifying questions to ask up front.  If you’re looking to get responses from women between the ages of 25 to 35, then make sure you eliminate respondents who do not fit the profile as early into the process as possible.  If there are questions that are a high proproty, place them up front, in case people drop out of the survey early on.
  5. Test. Test. Test.  Test your survey with respondents then pretend that those are the actual answers.  Can you take action?  What actions would you take.  If the answers leave you confused, then change the questions.

What was your best survey experience?  What was your wors?

Understanding How Your Brain Thinks About What You’re Really Buying

4217779574 Pricing is the trickiest component of the marketing mix.  It’s easy to get caught up in "Price" being solely a dollar figure, but it’s so much more than that.

If you think of Price as simply the amount of our money that we are willing to trade for a benefit – a whole new world of possibilities and profit will open up for you.

Because so much of my work involves understanding what’s important to customers when they are buying what my clients are selling, I spend a lot of time "Debriefing" my brain on how I’ve been perceiving value as I make a variety of purchases.

My primary focus has been, what triggers us to part with seemingly large amounts of cash.  Why do we NOT choose to purchase something yesterday because we thought it was too expensive, and what changed to make us write that check today.

I’m starting to come up with some theories on this.  We don’t pay for items, we don’t even pay for solutions, we pay for more visceral benefits than that.  Here is the start of my list.

  • Paying to Get it Done.  Time is our most valuable commodity.  If you’re not good at something, if you don’t like to do something and if you’d rather be doing something else – then regardless of what you’re buying, you’re paying to get it done — so you don’t have to.  I recently had an experience where I felt more joy in writing a check to get something done, than in experiencing the service or the product.  Go figure.
  • Paying for Expertise.  I love computers and the web and I CAN start a blog, a web site, shopping carts and the rest.  But I can’t do it quickly, I can’t do it correctly the first time and I can’t guarantee that I haven’t missed something critical.  So I pay for the expert to do it.  In this case, I experience sheer more joy after the check is written as I experience the joy of seeing something work well.
  • Paying to Follow.  I work with clients to grow their business, but I can’t operate on myself.  Like a lot of other people, I will pay to be told what to do because someone who has done it, knows the way, the truth and can see the light and will help me get there faster.  This would be like paying a personal trainer to help you achieve a physical goal.  The benefit is knowing that you don’t have to swim in the unknown sea of "I hope this works."

What’s been your experience, what’s on your list?

Do You Need Marketing Therapy?

7093820 What do you think of when you hear the words marketing therapy?

I wasn’t sure myself.  But when I few clients started actually saying it to me it made me wonder.  Is being seen as a marketing therapist a good thing or a bad thing?  One of the mastermind groups I participate in says that it’s a great thing.  I’m still not sure.  What do you think?

How do you know if you need a marketing therapist?

Well, it all started when one of my clients said he was having an "identity crisis" and needed to tell the story of his business and the benefits they offer in a way that would get his customers as excited as he was about the opportunities it opened up for them.

Then another guy I was working with on a project said "I need to grow my business in a new direction and I know you can help me with that because after talking to you, I see things I didn’t see before and I can do things I didn’t think would work."  Then after about a week of working together he said he had a new project opportunity and used some of the pricing techniques we were talking about and significantly increased his billing as a result.  WOW – I didn’t know I could do that.

How similar is Marketing Therapy to Coaching?

I have no idea. If you’re a coach or a marketing person that does this too, I’d love to know.  I have no aspirations to be a coach.  I’m not certified to be a coach.  But I do have over 20 years experience in connecting with customers and getting the really good, profitable, fun ones to work with me.

Whatever marketing therapy is – I’m not sure who’s having more fun me or the people I’m working with.  Most of my clients feel energized, excited and ready to get out there and try this new approach.  Me, I’m just thrilled to see their business grow, change.  There’s nothing more that I love to see than my clients having fun making money. 

How to Consciously Create an Emotional Response and a Great Customer Experience

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OK – so now you know that you want to create an emotional response from your customer.  But how do you even begin such a thing.

No worries.  Here’s the recipe and some examples.  I’d love to learn about the examples you’ve experience or created as well.

  1. A huge dose of owner passion. Perhaps the best example of this comes from companies we know and love (or love to hate)  Southwest Airlines, FedEx and L.L. Bean and countless others.  What they have in common is the fact that they started with the founder’s peeve or  passion.  When Herb Gelleher started Southwest his feeling was that EVERYONE should be able to fly.  Not just the wealthy and business people. His airline is focused on "the rest of us" and every bit of your experience on Southwest reflects that.  FedEx builds HUGE value on the most emotional trigger there is – the pit in your gut when you’ve promised something and waited too long to deliver.  And L.L. Bean on down-home high quality.  The warm fuzzy feeling of winter.  These are all well entrenched brands based on emotional triggers that came from the owners own belief system.  The key here is to be AUTHENTIC because customers will only flock to what’s real.  And they know the difference.
  2. Diligent observation of customers and how they think. I wrote last week about my trip to Chicago to visit Law Elder Law.  Rick Law is a terrific example of taking the time out to observe his clients and his target market.  How do they feel when they have to work with an attorney?  What life event triggers them to come and talk to you?  How do they most likely feel when they have to interact with you? What is the little voice inside their head saying or thinking about you?
  3. Realistic analysis of what your customer thinks about you. One thing that our Lawyer Rick realized was the customers were about as happy to visit his law office as going for a root canal.  It wasn’t his fault, that was just the NATURE of the business.  Most people don’t like or trust lawyers, and they aren’t happy to have to put mom or dad in a nursing home or to deal with Alzheimers, so his customers were already in a bad emotional state when they knew they were coming.  His job was to face that and understand that and start from there.  He chose to make his office warm and cozy.  His environment is casual – no one "looks" like an evil, greedy lawyer – because they are not.  So you get the picture.
  4. Create a "mantra" about the experience your business vows to create for your customer.  I use the word mantra because it should be a prayer and a meditation.  This mission of experience that you want your customer to have.  The facy marketing word for that is a tag line or a positioning statement.  I like mantra best because it’s a focused meditation on HOW you will do what you do.  Fed Ex has a mantra that sticks "Absoloutely, Positively overnight" no excuses.  Everyone knows what their job and mission is and goes from there.
  5. Develop procedures around that mantra.  If you’ve read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber, then you understand this.  The success behind most franchises is the ability of the entrepreneur or creator of that organization to translate the experience he or she wants into policies and procedures.  So, if you want to put your clients at ease when they walk in, you create a warm and cozy lobby.  You make sure there is always someone there to greet clients, etc.  That’s part of how you manufacture your "offering."
  6. Train your people to do it – everyday.  When you start looking at "customer emotional response management" as a critical component of what you offer, it’s obvious that you need to train everyone on what a high-quality experience is.  Again franchisers are a great example of that.  It’s critical that you have the desired experience no matter where you are in the country or the world.
  7. Evaluate and change as needed.  One of the great things about focusing on creating an emotional response for your client is that you are never done coming up with great ideas to create that response.  Have fun with this. 

How to Run Your Referral Marketing System

4215242056 Now that you’ve written your referral guidelines and know what sets sets you apart, and who your ideal client is, and you have your list of 250 people, you’re ready to start running your referral marketing system.

Remember, this is a customer manufacturing process that will make as many customers as you want for as long as you run the system.  The more consistently you run the system, the more customers will feed into it.  Like everything else in life, you get out of it what you put in.

First: Review your list and look at the people you marked as "inside referrers."  Those are the people who are nearest and dearest and will give you the most honest feedback.  Call them up and set up a face-to-face meeting with them.  Either on the call or over the phone tell them that you are working on a referral system to build your business and that you’d like to get their input. 

When you meet with them, be sure you have at least two copies of your referral guideline.  Give one to them and keep one for yourself.  Tell them that you’re going to read this to them and that they should follow along.  It’s important that they give you open and honest feedback and let you know if anything at all is unclear, or could be stated more clearly.  You’ll be surprised at what wonderful feedback you get.  This is your opportunity to put some great tweaks on this.  Also be sure to ask what it is about you or your business that they think is unique and sets you apart.

Once you’ve collected all this feedback, go back to your list and start setting face-to-face meetings with your referral partners; those people that come before and after you in the process.  Do the same thing with them.

Your overall objective is to identify Centers of Influence to your ideal client.  Because these individuals are so critical to your success, it’s important to do this group last and get all the practice that you need with your inside referrer and referral partner group.

Set a goal for yourself that you will connect with at least two people a day and schedule no less than two face-to-face referral meetings per week.

As you go through this process, you will see that it works much like your experience on the web.  You’ll meet with one person and they won’t "hire" you but they’ll either know people who will, or will know someone who knows someone.  I call that the "tier" effect.  Tier 1 people can hire you.  Tier 2 people know someone who can hire you and Tier 3 people know someone who knows someone.

You can expect to meet a lot of Tier 3 people in the beginning.  Don’t be discouraged, that’s natural.  Remember you’re digging for the diamond called Center of Influence.  So just keep going.

Once you’ve identified about 5 Centers of Influence who enthusiastically refer you, you need to manage those relationships.

Run the system and you’ll never be hungry for clients again.

5 Easy Steps to Get Others to Effortlessly Sell YOU

9101468 I think that referral and networking groups are a general waste of time and money.  Now if that doesn’t generate some hate comments, I don’t know what will.  But hear (read) me out.

Most people are dishing out hard earned money and attending these meetings and events empty handed and sometimes empty headed too.  All they have with them are business cards and some glitzy 30 second commercial.  This is not an effective way to spend your valuable time and money.  Next time you go to one of these things, bring along a "Referral Guideline" and watch what happens.

What’s a Referral Guideline and How will it Change My Life?

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that putting together a referral guideline changed my life and the quality of my new clients.

A referral guideline is much like a "selling sheet" or brochure that you write for the most important audience that there is – the people who refer you.  It’s not fancy, it’s not glossy, but it’s loaded with the most important information a potential high-quality, high-dollar referrer needs to know.

  1. What Sets (insert your company name, or your name) Apart.  You can also call this section "Why you should choose (insert your company here).  Nothing exotic here.  Ideally this will be one sentence that answers the question of why anyone should want to choose to give you their money.  So, if the owner of FedEx were to write one it would say something like – If you want your package to be there overnight. To test out your sentence here, read it to a seven year old.  If he or she gets it, then its good.  If they have a confused and blank look on their face — try again.
  2. People who need what we do.   Yup.  That’s the header for the next section.  You can also use something like Ideal Client or Customer.  But I like plain English better.  The rule here is to describe and profile your ideal customer so that we can spot them across the room or we should recognize their need in less than 20 seconds worth of conversation at a cocktail party, sporting event or general conversation.  Again, use the seven year old test for clarity.
  3. Referral Triggers – Things my ideal client will say that will tell you they need to call me.  This section is self-explanatory.  When I’m talking to someone, what will they say that will make me think of you.  So, if you’re a real estate agent that specializes in finding homes for newly divorced people and someone tells you their getting a divorce – BINGO. 
  4. Questions to Ask or How to Refer me.  In this section, give  a little sales primer on questions your referrer might ask people as they are chatting that will pre-qualify them as a potential client.  Give  some direction on what the referrer might say.  My referral guideline simply says, "If you think that this person is a good referral for me, simply say ‘I know this woman that could help.  I think you should call her.’"
  5. How can I thank You?  This is the last section and reminds us to be grateful for referrals and prompts you to have the conversation about how to say "Thanks."  Do you want to pay a referral fee?  Sometimes that isn’t appropriate, so you might want to find out what people are interested in and in what ways you can show them how grateful you are for the new business.  I’ve given gifts, restaurant gift cards, sporting event tickets, even sent flowers or gifts for kids.  Whatever is appropriate and works for both of you.