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Friday, April 27, 2007

Relationship Marketing is in the Details

Relationship Marketing is in the Details

By Terry Brock

You want to build solid, long-term relationships with customers. There are different types of relationships and it is not just the simple, “customers like you so they buy from you” type of thinking. Buying decisions can be complex and involve a number of factors – any of which can make or break the sale.

Yesterday I had an experience that will probably sound familiar to you. I needed to get some clothes for a trip coming up soon. I wanted to go to Wal-Mart because I’ve seen what they have and liked it. However, I didn’t have much time to drive over to Wal-Mart, deal with the inevitable crowds at that time of day and get what I needed. So, I opted to go to one of their competitors.

I won’t mention the name of the competitor but let’s call it OK merchandise mart. Our local OK merchandise mart is located about 1 mile from me but is usually dreary, drab and gave me the impression of being unkempt. However, they have good merchandise, usually good prices and very few customers there at any given time. I thought I’d give it a shot and see what would happen. What I experienced can be instructive for you and me in our own businesses.

When I walked in the door of OK merchandise mart no one greeted me at the door, like they do at Wal-Mart. I love this friendly and helpful touch to have someone direct me to the right aisle, find what is necessary and generally make me feel welcome. Since Wal-Mart introduced this years ago it has now become well-known. Why can’t OK merchandise mart do something like that? I had to wander around in the almost-empty store trying to find the right place where what I wanted was placed. This cost me more in terms of my most precious resource – time.

Little things like that can make a big difference in business. The Wal-Mart greeter sets the tone for the experience the customer has for that visit. This is a big part of relationship marketing. Your customers have a relationship with you. It can be 0 with very bad experience to a Nordstrom-type 10 quality where we rave about it to others. Each experience is different and it is up to us as business owners to determine the key factors in the customer experience and figure out how to tweak the experiences, the technology and the systems to optimize customer satisfaction and buying.

When I finally located the merchandise I wanted there was a good supply, lots of nice choices and the prices were very reasonable---actually cheaper than I had thought they would be. In this area, OK merchandise mart does a good job. It would be nice to have a helpful person to answer quick questions but such a person didn’t seem to exist when I visited OK merchandise mart..

Putting systems in place is more than applying the right technology. It means bringing in real, live human beings to assist customers when and where needed. Yes, we need technology. Yes, we use it a lot. But we always want and need that valuable, real, live human being assisting us.

I was finally able to get some good merchandise and they were on sale at very good prices. This was a good thing. However, checking out was another story.

Only two registers were open but each was clogged with the few customers in the store. One register was backed up and it appeared everyone was waiting for a check to clear from Outter Zambozia. There was no visible sign of concern from the cashier regarding the long wait for customers.

l saw a slight break in the wait at the other register and quickly jumped over. After another wait, I finally got up to the cashier who didn’t even look at me. She proceeded to scan the clothes I had selected but never made a comment. Being the ever-positive person I try to be, I tried to strike up a conversation with her. She seemed about as happy being there as she would be getting her toe nails removed in rubbing alcohol. Her comments were mainly on how she was looking forward to being out of there in a few hours.

How employees are treated affects customers and ultimately the bottom line. It was obvious that the employees weren’t happy working at that OK merchandise mart. When the ticket was finally rung up, I paid for the merchandise and she handed me the receipt, she said, “Have a nice day.” The plastic “Have a nice day” was about as sincere as a comment from a TSA bureaucrat at the airport.

As I left I felt sorry for the employees but thought how the good people in management at OK merchandise mart could improve. Hey, they really did have good merchandise and good prices. It was easy for me to get in and not a lot of large crowds. I want them to improve and stay in business near me!

See things from the customers’ point of view. Why are they in your “store” – however you define your “store?” What systems can you put in place that create a more pleasant and enjoyable experience? The good people at OK merchandise mart mean well. My experience was that they have good merchandise at really good prices. They are also extremely convenient for me. However, because of other factors, I’ll continue to use and prefer Wal-Mart.

Most of what could be changed wouldn’t cost a lot--- genuine smiles and caring from employees, someone available to answer quick questions, a more streamlined check-out system, etc. However, the difference is in the details.

Make it your goal to look at your business systems from the customer’s point of view. This is an integral part of relationship marketing. It is also critical to success in the bottom line. I just hope the OK merchandise mart can build on the wonderful strengths they have and improve their weaknesses. Then they could transform from merely “OK” to great!

Terry Brock is a marketing coach and regular columnist for Business Journals who helps businesses market more effectively leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using the right rules and tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Copyright © 2007, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used in any way without prior written permission.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Relationship Marketing Achieved Through Filtering

Relationship Marketing is

Achieved Through Filtering

By Terry L. Brock

We’ve known about “information overload” for a long time but today it is more intense. This becomes critical as you decide where to focus your time, money and effort to get the results you want.

Information overload makes a huge impact on relationship marketing and how you and I establish, build and maintain profitable relationships in business. In this article let’s look at 2 sides of the Information Overload challenge: To yourself and to your prospects and clients. Let’s see how you can capitalize on it to build better quality relationships and more profitable business.

Filters in An Age of Too Much Information

More information will be created in the next 24 hours than you can process the rest of your life. One reaction we might embrace is to ignore it all. However, we can’t do that. Life-long learning and education are critical for success today.

Filtering is the key. Your filter for what you read, watch, listen to and how you spend your time has to be intensely personal and focused on what is right for you. This is where your personal and professional lives mesh. It takes work, but once you have that filter in place, you can process everything through it to decide what you take into your mind and how you spend your time. Determining your purpose is the vital first step.

Once you know your purpose, you can eliminate those distractions that don’t serve you. In business this means focusing on those activities and potential prospects that are right for you. For those that are not a right fit now – and could be in the future – have alternatives that take less of your time and still enable you to stay in touch. An Ezine, invitations to visit your Blog, free offers for a detailed CD or DVD explaining the advantages of your products or services could be examples. Stay in touch with prospects, but focus your time and effort on those that are likely to purchase now or in the immediate future. Remember, you can’t be with everyone. Be selective how you spend your time, money and effort.

Filters For Yourself

Here are some strategies to filter the information you receive to maximize your goals and objectives:

  1. Realize You Can’t Do Everything. Be selective based on what your purpose is. There are going to be a lot of good activities you can’t experience. Rats! It was a sad day for me when, as a little kid, I went to our local library and realized that no matter how fast I learned to read, I still wouldn’t be able to read all the books written! Ugh!
  2. Focus, Don’t Just Concentrate. Concentration is good and implies that you’re paying attention to something. Focus is slightly different. It means you’re concentrating on the overall goal you have for your purpose. Focus on those things that help you achieve the goals you want in business and in your personal life. Time is the biggest filter to handle. How are you going to spend your time? Watching TV? With family members? Attending that really important business gathering tonight? What are you going to read? Frankly I find it hard to fathom how businesspeople can find time to watch the latest celebrity gossip and blather when they could spend that time expanding their mind by reading book quality books, magazines, attending great seminars, listening to educational Podcasts and being with important people.
  3. Eliminate Anything Less Than C Value And Focus On A And A+ Value Activities. As you see new articles, new email messages, new TV shows, etc. always ask if it is an A or A+ value for you. Don’t waste your time on anything C level or below. By the way, one of the biggest time wasters today is television. How many programs you watched in the past 30 days fell into the A or A+ category for you? Would your time have been better spent with a loved one, reading a quality book or other A+ time investment?

Filters For Your Customers

You can help your customers and prospects by filtering for them. Here are some specific ways to help them:

  1. Know Their Purposes. As you start with your own purpose, get to know them and what they want. This is a fundamental part of establishing a relationship in business.
  2. Focus On How To Delver Value To Them Through The Filter Of Their Purposes. Once you know what their purpose is, you can better filter all information sent to them.
  3. Be The Trusted Advisor. You can be the person they come to know and trust through time. This is more than being “nice.” It is providing real value so they want to be around you and respect what you recommend. Your customers are under a major time crunch. If you can save them time, you will be their hero.
  4. Make It Fun To Be Around You. No one likes being around a complainer. Be fun! Develop interesting, worthwhile things that you can talk about so people want to be around you. Know lots of valuable information for them so they will want to do business with you.

You build business relationships by filtering for yourself and for others. Be the resource they turn to when they need assistance. That is relationship marketing and it builds profitable business.

Terry Brock is a marketing coach and regular columnist for Business Journals who helps businesses market more effectively leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using the right rules and tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Copyright © 2007, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used in any way without prior written permission.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tech Tools For Success

Small Business Technology Tools

For Success Today

By Terry L. Brock

I’m often asked about the tools that are necessary for success today. Although it is an ever-changing topic, the tools that are helpful for you today in your small business can help propel you farther.

The whole point about using technology tools is to extend your ability farther with the right hardware and software than you’d be able to do by yourself alone. You can leverage technology to get more done in less time, serve more people and make your business more profitable.

Here are some tools that I’ve seen successful businesspeople use today that help them to achieve their success. These tools work regardless of whether you’re man or woman, what country you’re in or your educational background. Tailor these to your lifestyle and desire but get the right tools to make it work for you.

  1. Contact Management System. This means staying in touch with important people and remembering important details about them. I use a combination of Outlook, Word and Excel from Microsoft. Others use ACT!, Goldmine or other tool. The most important consideration here is not the tool you use but your use of that tool. I don’t care what tool you get, if you don’t use it – with discipline – it won’t do you any good. Regularly cull through names and see those whom you haven’t touched base with in a while. Call. Write. Email. Send a postcard. Write a letter. Make a quick personal visit. Stay in touch with important people and leverage a contact management system.- even notepad and pen – to maximize your contact with important people.
  1. Word Or Other Word Processing Software. This is one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind! Word gives you the ability to do so many things. I capture thoughts, create daily ToDos, write memos and letters, keep details on important people (linked to Outlook) and more. Leverage this tool to get those things done that you need to do.
  1. Mobile Access To The Net You need to have access to the Internet as you travel either in your city or on road trips. The Internet is where the world meets, communicates, interacts and lives today. You don’t want to be out of touch with it when you can reach contacts. You want to be able to access what you need from where you are. I use my Windows Mobile PDA for my cell phone. It also gives access to all my Outlook accounts through Pocket Outlook. I can see quick notes through Pocket Word. I can do some quick calculations with Pocket Excel. I can also access email and the Net with it (although I don’t use my PDA much for that). Lately, I’ve been using my PDA for capturing quick audio notes and filtering them into Outlook with a tool called TeleNotes. I use the Verizon Wireless access to get pretty reasonable access speeds to the Net from just about anywhere in the States. This way I get access to the Net (most important) from just about anywhere and usually good speeds. I can operate from just about anywhere and that gives a strong advantage to business and lifestyle.
  1. Ability To Change Website Quickly You know you need to access the Net and use your website to reach customers. Use the bare basics of your web design tool to make quick changes. A program like Contribute from Adobe (formerly Macromedia) is great for us mere mortals to make quick website changes. Get a web designer to do all the fancy stuff, then change text and pictures in a template. It’s easy and powerful. Of course, you can also use Dreamweaver, FrontPage 2003 or other web design tool as well. The point is to be able to change your website and not depend on a technician to do it for you. This way you can create custom web pages based on your customers’ needs when they need it.
  1. Mentality To Learn From Everything, Everyone, Everywhere Lifelong learning is the mantra of successful people worldwide. Keep stretching and learning. Everyday make it your goal to learn something from something, someone, somewhere. Read quality books. Listen to mind-stretching audio. Hang around really smart people who can teach you. This makes each day more exhilarating and helps you become more productive and profitable in business.
  1. Mentality To Be Of Service It is one of life’s ironies – you attain more for yourself when you serve others more. Always be on the lookout for helping the other person. Look for those needs that customers have – but haven’t discussed. Be the first to be there with great ideas that are of service to others.

Of course, there are lots of other good tools that you probably use. I use others that are must-have tools for me in my business. Remember to leverage the technology to help people and you’ll succeed today and tomorrow.

Terry Brock is a marketing coach and regular columnist for Biz Journals who helps businesses market more effectively leveraging technology. He shows busy 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 or through his website at

Copyright © 2007, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used in any way without prior written permission.