The Power of Being the Authentic You

Posted by chucktrautman on January 16, 2020

Many entrepreneurs struggle with their ‘personal’ brand versus their ‘professional’ brand – or perhaps better stated, who they are ‘on the job’ versus who they are ‘off the clock’ – so to speak.

This challenge has never become more apparent with the incredible rise of social media and the truth is you can no longer have your ‘entrepreneurial’ brand and a clear and separate ‘personal’ brand that you wish, or feel should be off limits and not to be used when a client or prospective client is considering working with you.

It may feel unfair or somehow too judgmental when a prospective client uses what you consider to be personal when considering hiring you, but consider the following example.

Suppose you are a parent looking for a nanny and upon an interview you really like both the applicants’ credentials and resume. Then, after they leave you do a quick search on Facebook and see pictures of what you consider to be less than safe or appropriate behavior.

I’m not being judgmental of what someone does in their private life, but the fact remains, for many parents seeing these pictures would be unsettling to say the least, and a disqualifier to say the most.

And truthfully, as entrepreneurs, giving this even more than one second’s thought or deliberation about how this might be unfair is a complete waste of time and energy. For better or worse, this is the world we live in. There is no hiding who you are.

So the question is, as entrepreneurs that want to achieve higher levels of success, how do you use the fact that we are all operating in an online and ever-connected world, and use it to grow your business?

The answer is simple, and actually quite relieving!

Choose to be your authentic self – all the time. So what do I mean by being authentic? The dictionary describes authentic as “not false or an imitation, true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.”

Easy Does It

Posted by chucktrautman on January 9, 2020

Make it easy for your customers to do business with you. This concept is so important to developing and building stronger customer relationships that I’m going to focus just on that for a moment.

As a customer, have you ever walked into a place and heard the phrase “That’s our policy?” Those words are like a slap in the face with a cold, dead fish. I’m certain you don’t like hearing it, and I certainly didn’t appreciate that approach to my seemingly altered check at the bank. Well, neither do your customers! Even if you fill a very unique niche with your product or service, if you stand on policy or your terms and conditions at every turn, customers will figure out how to get what they need from someone else.

My dental office has a sign posted right on the reception desk about their rules and policies. Is that really what I want to see as soon as I walk into the office? Of course not. No one does. You immediately send a bad message to your customers with that type of signage. In effect, you’re saying “Here are all the hoops you have to jump through and all the bridges you have to cross before we’ll take your money.” It’s a cardinal sin to make it difficult for customers to hand you money!

Since I believe that 98 percent of people are honest, I do not want to create policies, procedures, terms, and conditions to combat the 2 percent who seek to take advantage of me. Creating policies and procedures to combat the dishonest 2 percent makes it more difficult and a less-pleasant experience for the 98 percent of honest people to give you money—also known as profit! Sure, we need to be smart business owners, but I strongly encourage you to not overreact to the occasional negative situation. Instead, stay focused on the larger picture.

Make certain you are easy to do business with.

Client Retention Tips for Small Businesses

Posted by chucktrautman on December 19, 2019

You make a sale and get a new customer – that has got to be good right? But do you know what is even better? It is when they come back the second, third and fourth time around to do business with you again.

But, there is an art to getting your clients to continue with your service – and this is why you need to ramp up your client retention techniques. As a small business owner, there are many things that you can do to improve client retention and have them return to you again and again and again. Here are some of them:

Keep your customer service top notch. Did you know that more than half of all consumers are willing to pay more money for better customer service? True, customer service will always make or break your business. Always seek to provide stellar service because this will benefit you in the long run and will encourage your clients to choose you over cheaper alternatives.

Admit mistakes and address issues immediately. A study shows that 84% of customers will tell their friends (and even blog about) a negative experience with a certain business. Imagine how many potential customers you can lose if this happens to you. The key is to admit the mistake and address the complaint as soon as possible – and your client will most likely remain loyal and tell their friends about the service.

Remember your clients and they will remember you. Customers are just regular people, too. They are human beings who want to feel valued and appreciated. Show your loyal clients that you remember them by sending personalized greeting cards. Christmas is a good time to send cards but if December seems too far away, you can always start a customer appreciation mailing program anytime.

Learn about your client’s needs. One of the main reasons why clients stop availing certain services is because they no longer need them. People’s needs evolve over time, so you may also want to improve your products or services to cater to their new needs.

Keep them in the loop. It is also good to keep your clients informed about new things going on in your business. Do you have new services? Have you updated your products? Do you have a new branch that is somehow closer to them? You can keep them informed through in-store presentations, brochures, regular e-mails or even print newsletters.

As a small business owner, you do not have to spend thousands of dollars to retain customers. These are simple things that you can do (most of them for free) to keep your customers happy and coming back to you.

Why the 30- or 60- or 90-Day Warranty Is Not Enough!

Posted by chucktrautman on December 12, 2019

You’ve heard of Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, usually at the worst possible moment. Well, there’s another variation of that, and it goes like this: The product will cease working exactly one day after the warranty expires. Enough of us have had that exact experience that it lends credence to the veracity of the law. We all take those 30- or 60- or 90-day warranties with a grain of salt. It makes us skeptical consumers.

Your customers are no different. They’re wondering, “What if it doesn’t work? What happens when it fails? What if I don’t get the result I was expecting?” They may be on the fence about buying from you. You’ve done a lot to move them to consider buying from you, but they’re thinking, “Yeah, I kind of like it. It sounds like it will solve my problem. I think the price is fair, but what if . . . ?”

Get rid of the “what if,” and you can close the deal. It’s easy to do. Easy? Yup. All you have to do is reverse the risk.

Risk reversal means that you, the business owner, assume all the risks associated with purchasing the product (or service), so it’s going to work to your customers’ satisfaction. If they’re on the decision fence and have nothing to lose, they’re going to buy.

Let’s be clear—square one is that you must offer a high-quality product or service. That’s a given. It’s a no-brainer. Some of my coaching clients assure me that they do (and I believe them), and then they go on to tell me about their 30- or 60- or 90-day guarantee.

That sort of offer simply makes people skeptical because we’ve all been burned by that warranty version of Murphy’s Law. What happens after 30 days? What happens after 60 or 90 days? When prospects wonder about that, they’re going to be hesitant to buy. You haven’t gotten them over the trust hurdle.

Pain Points

No matter how much your customers like you, they’re really buying the solutions you offer, and they’re buying to eliminate their pain points. Remember that your product or service must be of some benefit to them and make their lives easier and/or more enjoyable and potentially relieve some of their pain. After all, every single one of us has the same favorite radio station: WII-FM (What’s In It for Me?).

For an auto repair shop, the customers’ pain point is often the inconvenience of getting their cars serviced. They have to drop off the car, and then find a ride to get home or to work. If there was a trustworthy mechanic who offered this service, it would be exactly the solution most customers needed, and it would ease their pain point. Now, if that same auto shop washed and vacuumed the car in addition to servicing it, that would be over-the-top customer service—and certainly worthy of much word-of-mouth advertising!

I’ll also give you a marketing example, since most successful businesses address pain points in their marketing efforts. I know I do.

In my newsletter business, I know there are two recurring pain points that customers have regarding establishing a successful monthly newsletter marketing program: “It takes too long to write and produce a newsletter,” and “I never know what to include as content that my customers will read and enjoy.” It’s no coincidence that those are exactly the benefits of Chuck’s Newsletter Club, and my marketing addresses these pain points in a big way.

When thinking about your marketing, envision your most perfect target customer, and address your message specifically to that person, keeping in mind his or her pain points. Don’t envision addressing a stadium full of people. Imagine the one person who is your perfect customer.

Keeping pain points in mind works in marketing, and also while you’re being accessible to your customers, whether in person or via telephone or Web site.

Keep your eyes and ears open when communicating with your existing customers for their pain points. Sometimes they’ll raise a red flag immediately, and your response and remedy should be immediate as well.

The Three Biggest Lead Generation Mistakes Small Businesses Make… Part 2

Posted by chucktrautman on December 5, 2019

What Marketing Is SUPPOSED To Do!

First, you MUST understand what marketing is supposed to do. Its purpose is actually three fold…

  • Its first job is to capture the attention of your target market.
  • Second, it must give them the hope that reading or listening to your marketing will give them enough information to help them make the best decision possible when buying whatever you sell. In other words, train and teach them how to recognize the true value of your product or service… and conclude that you… and you alone… offer the best value versus your competition.
  • Marketing’s third job is to lower the risk of taking the next step in the buying process… and if necessary… continue to educate the prospect regarding the value you offer.

Marketing that accomplishes these three objectives will result in your prospects and customers coming to one single conclusion… that they would have to be an absolute fool to do business with anyone else but you, regardless of price.

It’s estimated that as many as 96% of all small businesses fail within their first 5 years. The main reason for this tremendously high failure rate has to do with the lack of expertise when it comes to generating leads and making the phone ring. Most small businesses don’t know anything about those three things we just discussed that marketing is supposed to do. But there’s also an additional problem to consider.

Most Businesses Use A Tactical Marketing Approach Instead Of A Strategic Approach.

Running an ad in the local newspaper… sending out an email or direct mail letter… airing a radio or TV ad on a local media station are all examples of tactical marketing. Now don’t get me wrong… the newspaper, radio or direct mail can be successful marketing channels… IF your marketing message is powerful and compelling. But that’s the problem… the message is the strategic side of marketing… and yet, it’s the most neglected.

This distinction between strategic and tactical marketing is huge and one you need to be acutely aware of anytime you start talking about generating more leads. Many companies mistakenly assume that when you talk about lead generation, you’re automatically talking about tactical lead generation… placing ads, sending out mailers, joining a networking group, attending tradeshows, implementing a prospect follow up system and so on.

They fail to realize that the strategic side of the coin, what you say in your marketing and how you say it is almost always more important than the marketing medium where you say it. If you fail to make this distinction, then you risk becoming jaded towards certain forms of marketing and advertising that should be a part of your tactical plan, but you eliminate them from consideration because they haven’t worked for you in the past.

When lead generation results are less than optimal, small business owners tend to almost always blame the marketing medium… like the newspaper the ad ran in or the postcards they sent out. They blame the tactical part of the plan… without any regard for how good or how bad the strategic messaging in that marketing piece was. People often say things like, “we tried radio and it doesn’t work for our kind of business,” or “we sent out 50,000 pieces of direct mail and only generated 3 orders. It just doesn’t work.” Just because it didn’t work, don’t assume that it won’t work.

Most Business Owners Don’t Have The Evaluation Skills Or The Know-How
To Judge Whether Poor Marketing Results From Poor Strategy Or

Poor Tactical Execution.

This is where our step-by-step roadmap can generate more leads than your business can handle. For example:

This is where our step-by-step roadmap can generate more leads than your business can handle. For example, most small business owners rely heavily on platitudes in their marketing. They say things like…

we have the lowest prices the best service

we’re family owned and operated we offer convenient hours

and the best value

Look at your own marketing that I asked you about earlier. How many platitudes did you use in your own marketing?

By the way, this is NOT your fault.

Most, if not all small business owners have been conditioned to think this is the proper way to market their businesses… since most advertising follows this same pathetic marketing formula… including the Fortune 500 types.

As human beings, we’re all after just one thing when we buy something… the best deal! Unfortunately, when you use platitudes and jargon throughout your marketing, there’s absolutely no way to tell who is actually offering the best deal. Everyone says they have the lowest prices, the highest quality and the best rates. So who do you believe? There’s only one way to know… and that’s to research every single business that offers what you want to buy. How many of us have the time or patience to do that? So most of us just automatically assume that everyone is pretty much the same, and therefore we default to calling on the business that offers us the lowest price.

When You Can’t Communicate The True Value Your Business Offers, You’re Doomed To Forever Compete On Price

Our conversion equation will change all of that for you forever. It’s going to be the backbone of your strategic marketing plan. It’s the foundation on which everything else we build for you is based. Let me give you a quick overview and then spend some time going through it with you in detail.

Our conversion equation has four main components…

First, we must interrupt your prospect.

We must get your qualified prospect to pay attention to your lead generation marketing. Simple enough to say, but a lot more difficult to pull off in real life unless you understand what you’re about to learn here. The interrupt is done through your headline if your marketing is in print… or it’s the first thing you say if your marketing through radio or TV.

The second component is engage.

Once your prospect is interrupted, it’s critical we give your reader the promise that information is forthcoming that will help the prospect make the best buying decision possible. In other words, it must help facilitate their decision to pick you over anyone else. This is the job of our sub-headline.

The interrupt is our headline that highlights a specific problem that your prospects are looking for a solution to… and the engage is our sub-headline that promises them that you offer a solution to the problem we mentioned in our headline.

The third component we need to include is educate.

Once we’ve interrupted and engaged your prospect, we have to give information that allows them to logically understand how and why you solve the problem they’re facing. This is accomplished by giving detailed, quantifiable, specific and revealing information. This is typically done in the body copy of your ad. When we educate, we need to reveal to your prospects the important and relevant information they need to know when making a good decision, and that your business… and yours alone… provides it to them. The interrupt and engage hit the prospects emotional hot buttons. Educate is the logic they need to justify picking up the phone and calling you.

The fourth and final component of our conversion equation is your offer.

Now that we’ve interrupted your prospect based on problems that are important to them… engaged by a promise of the solution… and they’ve examined the educational information that makes your solution real and believable… the last step we need to take is to give them a low risk way to take the next step in your sales process. We do this by offering a free marketing tool, such as a report, brochure, seminar, audio, video or something that will continue to educate them. Your offer will allow your prospect to feel in control of their final decision to call and buy from you.

So our conversion equation is interrupt, engage, educate and offer and together they equal market domination.

Now here’s the problem. Most marketing today only contains two of these components. They interrupt by throwing something at you that’s either familiar like Tiger Woods… or unusual like a monkey or talking pets. Sometimes they like to use both, as in the case of the E*Trade baby. Then once they grab your attention, they make you some type of offer such as “call now for whatever.” They have left out the engage and the educate, and marketing seldom succeeds when that happens.

In fact, the only time this type of marketing does succeed is when you can afford to run the ad over and over nonstop for an extended period of time. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz… melts in your mouth, not in your hand… and things go better with Coke have literally been rammed down our throats by Fortune 500 types. After hearing these slogans thousands of times, of course we’re going to remember them. But how can a small business owner like you that doesn’t have a billion dollar marketing budget successfully market your business. The answer… you can’t… UNLESS you follow our entire conversion equation.