Click on the Audio Post for Friday, March 12, at 1:29 pm
Monday, March 15, 2004
Click on the Audio Post for Friday, March 12, at 1:29 pm
Friday, March 12, 2004
Thursday, March 11, 2004
By Terry L. Brock, MBA, CSP
“Publish or perish” is a phrase used in academic circles for a long time. In many institutions of higher learning, if a would-be professor doesn’t publish, and publish a lot, in credible professional publications, that would-be professor doesn’t hit tenure and is often summarily dismissed or relegated to some other track.
This same philosophy also pertains to your business or profession. If you’re not marketing and not well known in your target market, you are going to miss out on great opportunities. But, how can you become well known in your niche without being pushy?
Marketing has always been vital in running your small business or professional service. But today, things are different. You can’t just go out and “push” stuff on others. In an age of do not call lists and utter rage against any kind of spam, you can’t just go to the marketplace with your stuff, your brochures and your ideas and push them off on people that aren’t interested and don’t want another marketing message. You have to use a pull vs. a push strategy. Besides, it works better from a bottom-line perspective.
Give your buyers something of real, substantial value that will make them want to come to you. The old saying is, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” is true. But, if you give the horse something tasty and salty first, then, he’ll be more likely to want that water!
Come up with salty stuff for your marketing!
Wise bar owners have done this for years with delicious, salty pretzels and chips. Customers love the pretzels and chips, and then order more drinks.
So, what “pretzels and chips” can you offer in your business? You have to think hard about this. Use market research. Find that perplexing problem for your buyers. Then offer simple, easy answers that lead them to want to know more about you, your products, your services and the total experience you can offer. Always leave them with your contact information so they can get in touch with you at their convenience. Remember: Be helpful, not pushy.
I remember talking with Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit, which produces Quicken and QuickBooks, a while back. Scott told me how he made it a point to regularly call customers and ask them what they liked and didn’t like about Quicken. He got real close to the customers talking with them this way.
A couple of days ago I happened to bump into an old buddy, Howard Putnam. Howard is the former President of Southwest Airlines. As we shared a cab ride from yet another airport to yet another hotel and to yet another workshop, we talked about life, business and the continued importance of staying close to the customer. Howard told me how he would make it a regular practice to answer the sometimes-difficult letters from those few Southwest Airlines passengers who were displeased. First, they were amazed that the President of the Airline would call them directly. Then Howard said that when he’d listen to them and their tales about lost baggage, delayed flights or other issues that every airline has to deal with, he saw that most of the time all it took was a kind word from the President or a non-costly gesture on the part of Southwest, to turn an aggravated passenger into a loyal advocate.
It is the human touch that matters. I like to say it is NOT about E-Commerce (the Electronics); It is about R-Commerce (the Relationships). This is where your own publishing can help.
How To Do It
Here are the steps that can help you catapult your business into a new dimension.
1. Do your research. Find out what customers really want and really think of your stuff. This means getting on the phone. It requires answering real letters. More than anything, it requires being there with them. If that means getting on airplanes, driving or walking to be with them, do it!
2. Listen and Record. Really hear them. Make notes. Record what they say. Then respond to them thanking them for their feedback. Where appropriate, provide a tangible thank you like a discount or a free product.
3. Consolidate and Organize. Now you get to take the bulk of feedback you’ve gained from your research and put it together into an outline. I recommend an outline first as it will help to organize your own thinking.
4. Publish. Write it down. Get assistance if you need it (those college professors can do wonders here; so can journalism major college interns!).
5. Record. Use the power of audio. You can record what you say and then put it on a CD and/or on your website. I’m using audio now more and more on my website and it grabs a lot of attention. I can personally point to business coming in the door because of audio.
6. Repeat on a monthly basis. This is an on-going process. New problems arise and they give you a chance to develop more materials.
Remember to focus on practical, problem-solving issues for your target market. Think of what they are interested in and what is bothering them. Michael LeBeouf, author of Greatest Management Principle, says we have to “Follow the pain.” Find where they are hurting and follow that.
Bonus Benefit: Writing and publishing forces you to refine your thinking and be more clear. Even if it is only for your own personal journal – for your eyes only – it is a good idea. It is amazing how writing can help you to laser-beam focus your thinking and force you to come up with great ideas.
Technology Bonus: I’m doing a lot of my writing now on my Palm. I use the Palm Ultra-Thin Keyboard with my Palm PDA. The two together weigh about 6-8 ounces and I can carry them both in my blazer pockets. When I get an idea, I can usually whip them both out, assemble the keyboard and be typing in about 5-10 seconds. Try that with your regular notebook computer! I capture the thoughts, write on a comfortable keyboard (good size for typing large documents) and then can shut down and pack in another 5-10 seconds. It is fast, easy and convenient. When I get back to my notebook computer I can synchronize all I have written (and recorded with audio) on my Palm with my notebook by touching a few keys. Productivity increases. Ideas are flowing and I’m more portable.
Publish ideas that your customers can use. This will insure your business doesn’t perish but instead prospers!
Terry Brock is a marketing coach who helps small- and medium-sized business owners to market more effectively leveraging technology. He shows mobile professionals how to squeeze more out of their busy days using the right rules and tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at email@example.com or through his website at www.terrybrock.com .
Copyright © 2004, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used in any way without prior written permission. Permission granted to Biz Journals to use in regular publications.