Monthly Archives: September 2012
There are two ways to keep your name in front of customers:
1) A steady flow of calls, messages, ad pieces, emails, etc.;
2) Useful items that customers will keep and reuse often.
Both strategies have their uses, and can be an important part of marketing. I view marketing as having two essential functions: first, to assist sales by generating interest in the product or service; and second, to make your product or service well known and well thought of. Ideally, the second helps establish the first. Brand recognition, humor, information and product comparison all contribute to these two functions.
The downfall of continuing to barrage customers and prospects with a litany of calls, emails, flyers and other messages is that it is expensive in terms of both time and money. Additionally, people can become annoyed if you overdo it. Every person has a different tolerance level. Moreover, if you are in a field where there is a lot of competition, your customers and prospects are probably being inundated with messages and requests for meetings by your competitors as well.
The alternative is by using number 2) above. Certain items can provide a lasting impression, by virtue of the fact that they are useful. For example, custom printed pens work well because everyone uses them. They also travel alot (people steal, “borrow” and otherwise misplace them). This can be great if your product can be used by everyone. Not so good if your company has a niche customer base; the pens may leave the customer’s office without ever being seen by the decision maker.
A great item that provides lasting advertising is a calendar. Calendars are used year-round by virtually everyone. People make notes on them, mark birthdays, plan holidays and vacations, etc., all using a calendar. Instead of looking at a flyer or email and throwing it away (if they even look at them), people tend to keep calendars. Every time your customer or prospect uses their calendar, they see your name and/or message.
You can tailor the calendar style and artwork to your design. For example, we know some of our customers are car enthusiasts, others like to travel, and still others enjoy inspirational scenery. So, we ordered several styles to accommodate them.
Another great tool are sports schedules. If you’ve got quite a few customers or prospects who are fans of the local team(s), get a large poster made of the team’s schedule. We use both an 11×17 poster with the Cowboys schedule and a column for writing in the scores and W/L next to each game. We also print up a basketball and a baseball wallet card, which has our logo with the local teams’ schedules on the front and back, with our contact info on the bottom. Every time they look to see who their team is playing, they’ll see our contact information and remember to call me.
Lastly, promotional products are a great tool to keep your name in front of customers. I find that if you are in a specific industry, it’s better to tailor your promotional product to that industry. For example, for the Health Care industry, stress relievers (squeezable foam balls that people squeeze to relieve stress) in the shape of a part of the body work well. For example, if you’re selling to dentists:
Look around the offices of customers and prospects. Find out what items are being used regularly. We did a clipboard for a medical insurance company with their name and a shortcut list for a commonly used software program. The customer loved it, and the insurance company got a lot of leverage out of it.
The possibilities are endless in this area, so I won’t go into all of the variations here.
The key to these items is that they are used, and as such, they stick around. When you do make another cold call, or email or request a meeting, you can reference the item and build rapport. Gate Keepers will recognize your company, thereby increasing the likelihood of getting you to the decision maker. And, you might just impress the decision maker in the process.
For specific suggestions, or for quotes on the above, visit our website at www.accuratesupplies.com, or call me at (817) 498-4840.
I have to admit, I never liked to study Grammar when I was in school. Usually, when the teacher would say something like, “today we are going to study parenthetical clauses” my eyelids would get heavy and my mouth would start to involuntarily drool.
However, as I surf my way through the information superhighway, I’m surprised to learn how advanced I am in comparison to the average blogger, RSSer, tweeter and commentators out there. For example, here was a comment to one of my recent blog posts:
“Just wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity on your put up is simply spectacular and that i could think you’re knowledgeable in this subject. Fine together with your permission allow me to seize your RSS feed to keep updated with coming near near post. Thanks a million and please keep up the enjoyable work.”
“Unquestionably believe that that you stated. Your favourite justification seemed to be on the internet the simplest thing to consider of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while other folks consider concerns that they plainly do not recognise about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing with no need side-effects , other people could take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thanks”
The judge gives a life sentence for mercilessly hacking up the English language with a plastic spork (an eating utensil that combines a spoon and a fork into one device).
To be fair, these posters are probably not native English speakers. As such, I give them the benefit of the doubt. God knows my syntax is horrible whenever I try to spew out my limited vocabulary of Spanish, German or Turkish.
What’s perhaps even more annoying are the mistakes and just plain laziness of the average texter, tweeter and other internet and phone denizens out there. Especially those who post in a professional capacity. There is a concept called proofreading that I highly recommend, especially if you’re looking for me to take you seriously or otherwise view your argument in a positive light.
The bottom line is, people judge you based on how you present yourself. In person, this includes your appearance, body language, etc. Once they have a first impression of you based on your appearance, your communication skills (or lack thereof) will solidify their overall opinion of you. If you sound like you can’t be bothered to pronounce your words correctly, observe at least basic grammar and speak in a clear, confident tone; people will have a negative opinion of you.
With online media, your appearance is often left out of the equation. At best, people will have access to your profile picture. That said, if you are writing in a professional forum or on a professional topic, make sure your profile picture isn’t the one with you and your 2 best friends in the middle of a 15-tequila-shot binge (or the morning after). Also, when you are referring people to your online profile, website, Facebook or other sites, make sure those sites are free of negative imagery. Create separate pages or profiles if you have to.
Keep in mind also that because your online posts, tweets, comments and blogs are devoid of body language, voice tone and other communication nuances, you must be that much clearer in your intention. For example, not everyone reading this post may recognize my attempt at humor in response to the quoted blog comments above. Sarcasm is notoriously tricky to communicate via only the written word. Unless you are very sure that your audience will understand your style, humor, etc., keep those elements to a minimum.
And finally, proofread, proofread, proofread!!! If you’re language skills aren’t that of an English major, don’t try to be fancy. Say what you mean as clearly and concisely as possible. Make sure there are no speeling or grammatical errors (yes, I intentionally misspelled ‘spelling’ to prove my point). That’s what a spellcheck was created for. And if you’re writing an emotional response to something, take a few minutes to calm down and reread your comments before you hit send.
Good luck and good writing! (I hope I didn’t overdo it on the parenthetical clauses)
In our never-ending quest to save money or get a great deal, we often forget all that goes into a purchase. How reputable is the seller? What happens if I need to return the item? What if I’m not happy with my product or service? How convenient and responsive is the seller’s customer service?
For example, let’s say you want to buy some business cards. You call a professional printer (such as my company) to get a quote. After consulting with you as to budget, design, and features, the printer quotes you, say $50 per 1000.
Next, you browse the internet and come across an online company that has stock designs that you simply input your personal information over. The same 1000 cards costs only $20! Wow, great deal! Seeing such a great price, you jump on the internet site and order your cards.
After waiting a week, you receive your cards and realize that the name is misspelled. You go back to the website and realize that you typed in the name wrong, and got exactly what you ordered. The company you bought the cards from has an automated phone tree that takes 5 minutes to get through. Then, you get a voicemail (or worse, get stuck in a phone queue for 30 minutes). By the time someone answers your call after 30 minutes on hold (or after a day in the case of voicemail or email), you’re understandably frustrated. Hearing your angry tone (no doubt the 30th angry voice they’ve heard that day), the customer service rep curtly explains that the online proof is considered your authorization, and you can’t get a refund or credit, but will have to reorder. Now, you’re either stuck with crossing your name off and writing it in, leaving it misspelled (both of which looks unprofessional) or reordering the cards.
At this point, if you decide to reorder, you’ve invested $40 plus all that time trying to get your issue resolved.
Had you gone with the first printer, you could have gotten a professional design uniquely suited to your business, an extra set of eyes to look over your information for errors, and an extra chance at officially proofing the information. If the cards came back wrong, you could call the printer and talk to a real person, possibly gotten a credit or reprint or had the situation otherwise handled smoothly.
While my example is centered around business cards, it applies to everything. Manufacturers are constantly cutting back on customer service, tightening their return policies and reducing customization; all in an effort to cut costs and offer everything dirt cheap. Unfortunately, if there is a problem of any kind, you’re facing a truly daunting task in trying to resolve the issue if you’ve chosen a dirt cheap vendor.
All this is not to say that you can’t get a great deal from a reputable company. All other things being relatively equal, I love cheap price as much as the next guy. But if I have to choose between a manufacturer that I know has lousy customer service and a company with great customer service that is a few percent higher, I choose the more expensive option.
Why? Because time is money. How much time would I spend on the phone trying to navigate to a decision maker, explain the problem (as he or she probably knows nothing about my order), haggle back and forth and finally get approval for a resolution to a problem that is due to the vendor’s error (let alone if I made a mistake)? That’s time that I should be spending on the phone getting more business or handling more important things in life.
Keep that in mind next time you’re out shopping. And show some love to those of us who work just as hard to deliver great service in addition to good prices.