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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Taking The “R” Out Of Free For Your Products and Services

By Terry L. Brock

Marketing is about providing value and quality for paying customers at a price they find acceptable. “Free” is usually acceptable (at least initially) if you’re in the buying position. However, what about if you’re in the selling position? What should you give away for free in order to get business? How much free do you give before you can lose the “R” and make it for fee? Remember that taking the “R” out of free makes your bank account look a lot better.

A good model is to offer free initially then dazzle them with enough value that they upgrade from free to fee. Your job, as a marketer, is to take the R out of free. You have to develop a marketing funnel strategy to move them along.

How can you do this? You have to provide so much value and earn trust with free that customers want to know you more. They want the better stuff. They want the best you have to offer.

My belief and that of many successful business people, is that the marketplace will ask for FEE vs. Free. Yes, people will want to pay for something to get better quality. Why is that? And does that apply when the economy is going through increased challenges?

This might sound counter-intuitive but we need assistance. If we don’t pay for something, it is hard to complain about it. Something about gift horses and looking in their mouths! However, if you are paying for a product or service, you have a built-in God-given, Free Market, Adam Smith and Milton Friedman-sanctioned right to complain about the quality you’re getting. You can always take your business elsewhere. You can complain to others. However, if something is free, the old saying that “it is worth what it costs” comes into play.

Smart business leaders know you can increase the value when you pay for something. By putting your money on the line, you have a much stronger vested interest in the outcome.

I was talking about this a while back with Australia’s Guru of all things Marketing, Winston Marsh. He was instructing me --- as he often does --- on the benefits of charging for products and services. You can’t keep giving things away for free and expect to stay in business. Once again, Winston Marsh is right.

Yet, things are a bit different today.

Rich Schefren, another marketing maven, has made some strong points that the line for free has shifted. More and more stuff (quality, usable material) needs to be offered for free to gain the confidence and trust of potential customers.

So what is the approach that you, as a successful marketer and businessperson can take? Many have found a multi-tiered approach works best. Have one level of services and products that are your “loss leaders.” This is a classic way to approach the challenge. You see it all the time at grocery stores. They often have wonderful people serving delicious samples of some new product. Store shoppers can get a free sample and if they like it, they can purchase the full product. Sales tend to increase when there is a special reason (discount, extra packages included, etc.) for buying today. You’ve provided a sample, those who like it are inclined to purchase and they enter your “marketing funnel” being happily involved with you.

This is what we all want anyway. Think about it; you want to do business with companies who provide good quality products and you don’t have to keep shopping around for something that works, tastes good, minimizes hassles, etc. If you like a particular beer, for instance, you tend to order that again and again. If you like a particular store, you tend to go back and do business with them often.

Free is good. You have to provide that because we expect it. Not just today but this has been true for generations. However, the trick is to find a logical path for customers to enter and remain happy in your “marketing funnel.” This requires thinking and planning. Buyers start with free (potential buyers at that stage), then move to small purchases. From there, as they get happier with what you have, they purchase more. Your goal is to have customers who are devoted and loyal to you no matter what product you bring to the marketplace. Let potential buyers know the value they will get when they move from free to fee.

That means you have to provide solid quality. If you ever break that confidence, you can lose them. Then it is very difficult to bring them back. Market heavily to happy customers. Keep them happy. Provide lots of products that are valuable to them and cost you little or nothing. Be creative and continually come up with new value-enhancing ideas.

Your job as a marketer, is to be a value creator. Constantly create fresh, new hot-off-the-griddle value which your customers love. Winston Marsh loves to tell us we have to make our customers say, “WOW!” Your job, dear marketer, is in the “WOW creation” department.

Create enough “WOW” experiences in the marketplace and your customers will love paying a fee for your products and services and you will have effectively removed that “R” from free!

And your bank account will look a lot better!

To learn more about how you can boost your marketing and sales, visit for some free videos, audios and information that can help you now. Sign up for my FREE (yes, it is free) newsletter that is packed full of business-building ideas. You're gonna' love this stuff!

Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Relationship Marketing And Your Bucket List

By Terry L. Brock

Relationship Marketing is about helping others achieve their goals. One of the best ways to build your own business is to focus on the needs of others. The most important way you can help others is to help them achieve their goals and their own bucket list. What do I mean by a bucket list? Read on.

I was impressed recently with the video of Steve Jobs at his famous Commencement Address to Stanford University in 2005. You can see it on YouTube at: In that profound speech he encouraged the graduates to “find what you love.”

This makes all the sense in the world and it particularly relates to business and Relationship Marketing. You have to find the thing that you love in life and in business. If you don’t love what you’re doing, if it doesn’t make you excited to face a new day when you get up for several days in a row, change it. Move forward. Sure, we can’t all just stop what we’re doing immediately and quit. That would be irresponsible in most cases.

However, if you really don’t like what you’re doing, figure out a way to do what you really want to do where you can make a living. This is vital to live life fully.

As I speak for companies around the world, I see far too many people who are working at jobs they don’t like. Henry David Thoreau told us that most people live lives of quiet desperation. This is so sad. However, it doesn’t have to be that way for you. But, it will take decisive action on your part. You don’t achieve the life of your dreams by merely dreaming. You’ve got to put action into making dreams reality.

Hard economic times are wonderful for facilitating this. Hey, you’ve got a really good excuse in that the old job just wasn’t giving you what you wanted! Now you can begin again. You’ll have the freshness of a new beginning. You don’t have the heavy feeling of previous commitments and all the “shoulds” that are clouding your life. Instead, you embrace the lightness of new possibilities, new opportunities and adventure. Yes, be responsible and fulfill your commitments to others. But never stop focusing on how you can creatively live your life to the fullest, make the most of what is best for you and live your life to the fullest.

All the money-making, working for a living, doing a job and all that “stuff” pales in comparison to you living your life in your way by your own terms. This is what true freedom and liberty is all about. Check out Tim Ferriss’ ground-breaking book, The 4-Hour Workweek for brilliant insights into making this reality for you.

What is it that you really want to do with your life? What is on your “bucket list” of things to do in life? I recently saw the movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson called “Bucket List.” It is the story about two terminally ill patients who decide to live life and fulfill the things in life they want to before they kick the bucket – hence the bucket list. Get this movie sometime and have a most enjoyable and insightful evening.

Why wait till you are about to die or physically can’t do what you want? Make it happen now. Remember, you have to be responsible, particularly when other people are depending on you. So, carefully make your plans. Think. Here’s an idea – turn off that infernal TV for an evening and spend some time with pen and paper looking out at a lovely scene. Feverishly and even foolishly take notes on everything that comes to mind (have a lot of paper handy for this delicious exercise!).

Once you’ve got your own bucket list, put plans in place to fulfill them. What are the things you can do right now? What will take time? Which items are going to take more financial resources? Plan it. Hey, what could be more important in your life than doing the things that you want to do in your life???

And here’s an even bigger thrill: Help others achieve their own bucket list goals. I find that the older I get the more juice I get from helping significant people be ecstatically jubilant about attaining their goals. Help someone achieve their own goals and you’ll be amazed at the juice you get from that.

This is not only Relationship Marketing. It is Relationship Living. It is one of the strange ironies of life that we get more for ourselves as we help others get what they need. That is the beauty of a free market system. Voluntary exchange, which benefits both parties, is at the core of Relationship Marketing.

So, what’s holding you back? Blast through those barriers and make it happen. This is your life. Time’s a wastin’ as they say. Get on with it and start now.

I look forward to hearing from you and learning about your progress. Drop me an email at and let me know how you’re helping others to fulfill their own bucket list items. How has that helped you in your own Relationship Marketing? How has it helped you in business and in life?

What are you waiting for? Begin your adventure now.

Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Relationship Farming And Tough Times: Opportunity For Pruning

By Terry L. Brock

The dismal economy has given you and me, as small business owners and salespeople, a real gift. Yep! You might not initially think of it as a gift but this really is.

Before you pop the champagne, let’s look at what is going on and what we can do about it. Yes, times are tough now. Just look at the recent collapse of Indy-Mac, the massive problems with Fannie Mae and Freedie Mac, daily increases in the price of oil, problems in the housing sector, the auto sector and other areas of the economy. And if that weren’t enough---- Budweiser is going to be owned by a bunch of Belgians! Is nothing sacred???

Yet, in the middle of all this bad news, you and I have a special opportunity that we didn’t have in earlier, better times. You know the metaphor I use in building and maintaining relationships. I think of it much like farming. You have to study the soil, till the soil, plant the crops, nurture them and perform many other tasks to produce a good harvest.

There is another important part of farming. It is called pruning. You have to cut back on the things that aren’t producing.

This is the same for you and me in our businesses. We have to be relationship farmers. You have to prune activities, tasks and yes, people in your life where results are not in line with your goals. During thriving times it is easier to just say, “Let’s grow the business more. We have plenty so it is easy to avoid the tough decisions.”

Serious marketers and relationship farmers know there is a time to cut activities, tasks and yes, even relationships that don’t work. This is hard and requires serious thinking. You also don’t want to cut the muscle when cutting the fat. Use your best judgment here.

Jack Welch helped us when he talked about his annual 10% cut. He would annually cut the bottom 10% of people, activities and tasks that were not producing optimal results. This required serious thinking in terms of what is right for the business. It is a big part of Relationship Marketing and Relationship Farming.

In Relationship Farming, you have to decide which “crops” are not giving you the desired results you need to keep the business going. What activities are you engaged in which could be delegated or divested? What vendors do you have who could be eliminated or replaced?

It is also imperative to focus on those relationships that are not productive and based on value-for-value. In the real world we all know people who are takers, not givers. Successful relationship farmers practice lots of giving and value-providing before they expect to get anything. You have to prime the pump with water before you get any water from the pump. Life works like that.

Therefore this is a special time and it is a gift for you and me. You have the opportunity to step back, pause and think about what can --- and should --- be eliminated from your business and personal life. What activities are a drain to you and your productivity? What relationships are not producing, have never produced and probably never will produce any serious business benefits? Remember --- cut the fat, not the muscle.

You’re probably familiar with the Pareto Principle --- the 80/20 rule. 80% of what you do accounts for 20% of the benefits. Also 20% of the sales produce 80% of the profits. More recent studies have shown that it is probably closer to 90/10. The moral for you and me? Focus on value-producing, quality activities, tasks and people in life and let the others fall by the wayside. Yes, it is time for pruning. It is time to cut. It is time to step back, think and revise what you’re doing.

A question you should continually have on your mind --- “Is this is the best thing for me to do right now?” Are you wasting your time on frivolous, tension-relieving activities rather than serious, bottom-line results? Now is the time to eliminate the unnecessary. Focus on value-generating activities. Think as a Relationship Farmer who invests in quality results with people and activities.

Shedding the frivolous and those people who don’t embrace value-for-value frees up time so you can cultivate quality relationships with those who do. You only have 24 hours each day. Invest your time, money and effort into those people and activities where you get quality returns on your investment of time, effort and money.

Tough times are a gift for us. That gift is the ability to prune as never before. Take some time as you read this and decide what you are NOT going to do. Get serious about the relationships in which you’ve been investing. Would they be better off being merely part of your newsletter vs. a luncheon and hours of your time? Don’t spend time on the phone with people just chatting away. Make sure there is value-for-value in the relationship.

Pruning time is part of Relationship Farming. After the pruning we can focus on what matters most and spend time on those activities, tasks and people who provide the best results. And that is worth a toast to celebrate. You can even use a good Belgian beer – Budweiser!

Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Relationship Marketing When Times Get Tough

By Terry L. Brock

Connecting with good people in a positive way is what Relationship Marketing, or what I call R-Commerce, is all about. All successful businesses are built on the concept of establishing, building and maintaining profitable relationships in business.

When economic times get tougher it is natural to cut back in any areas where you can save money. This is a good pruning strategy that every organization should go through--- even in the best of times.

(Watch this video as I interview one of my heroes, Jim Cathcart, about Relationship Marketing in Tough Times. You're gonna' love this and get a lot of good ideas from it.)

Business relationships have to undergo the same scrutiny. There are some relationships that your business will have that just don’t make economic sense. Some prospects never turn into customers. Yes, they are all people and we care for all people. Let’s get that one right out of the way! However, from a business point of view, you have to focus eventually on those business relationships which are going to be more profitable. In your personal life, you can focus on other non-business relationships for other purposes. But when it comes to business, this is serious.

So what criteria do you, as a successful businessperson use to cull through the masses? How do you treat people right no matter what, and still retain a profitable business? How can you differentiate from a host of possibilities and focus on those areas which are most beneficial for you in business?

Well, I don’t have all the answers. Sorry. However, here are some brain droppings that I have on this (to borrow from the late great George Carlin’s book title). Let me know what you think but here are my thoughts:

1. Determine What Your Goals Are. This is always the most important first step in business. Stephen Covey taught us how important is it to “Begin with the end in mind.” How are you going to derive profits in your business? Who is the ideal customer for you? If you can clearly identify the people that are most likely to purchase your product or service, you can filter all those you meet through to the right category. And that leads us to the second step to…

2. Develop Categories For Customers. I’ve read many good business books about database marketing. All those I have read state it is important to put customers into categories. Some of these are often called, “Hot, Interested, Met and Discard” or something like that. You can’t be everything to everyone. So, you have to focus your attention on those business relationships which involve the most likely prospects to purchase what you have. Think about it--- in personal relationships you can’t have 1,000 really close friends. You couldn’t keep up with all of them and be good friends with everyone. Yes, you can have acquaintances and be friendly with everyone. But only a limited number of people can be very close. The same principle applies with business relationships. You can only have a given number of top-drawer customers. You have to determine the criteria and how many based on your business model. This is one of the most important considerations you’ll make in planning your business.

3. Allocate Your Resources. You have to be choosy with how you deploy those assets you and your business have. How much time are you going to allow yourself at select activities? Given tough times you have to make hard decisions about where you spend your time, money and effort. You can’t go to every seminar or convention. During tough economic times, you have to prune some relationships. Focus your time on those that provide the most value for value. This is true in business and in life.

A word of caution: Don’t throw away customers who aren’t profitable today just because you don’t think they ever will be in the future. They could be at some point and you don’t want to lose out on that option. Also, they have friends and can influence others. You want to have a category for “everyone interested” where you send them a Blog update, audio, video, etc. Give them value to stay in touch but focus your face time with those who will bring the greatest benefit.

Tough economic times require a fresh review of your financial and economic priorities. This is good for business overall. Like a farmer has to let a field lie fallow every so many years, you have to leave some markets. After you leave them for a while you could come back in the future or redeploy those assets. Just know this is the way of nature and it works in relationships as well.

Most important, remember to hang onto those relationships that are best for the long-term. Cherish them and nurture them. They are the relationships that keep a business strong and healthy.

So, what do you think? I look forward to hearing from you. Drop me a note at

Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Be Relevant in Relationship Marketing--for Crying Out Loud!

Relevance In Relationship Marketing

By Terry L. Brock

Stop it already!! I don’t have time for yet another Blog, news story, article, podcast, video on the Net, social networking meeting, blah, blah, blah. Yikes! I am inundated with so many choices that it drives me nuts.

Maybe you can relate.

We’re all swamped with so many things going on. Your customers are in the same place. They are swamped and can’t keep up with all the new information. Then you, as an aspiring new vendor of theirs, come bouncing in the door with your new “Wonder Widget” and they can’t handle anymore. You call it rejection. They call it, “Dealing with yet another pesky salesperson.”

So how do you become relevant and build quality, profitable business relationships today? How do you get someone’s attention in an age of overload? How can you stand out in a favorable way?

There are lots of techniques that work and we only have a short time here so let me share some of what is going on and some solutions to help you.

Today it is imperative to be relevant. That means you have to appeal to my interests. Don’t tell me about you. Ugh! I want to know about how you can help me. This is the old story of what everyone’s favorite radio station is… WII-FM (What’s In It For Me?). It is your job as a successful entrepreneur, salesperson (aren’t we all today?) and business leader to actively find out how to help the other person. This is the best way to insure your own success.

The rage with video on the Net is a good example. Today we are swamped with so many choices that we often feel overwhelmed. We can’t keep up with it all. As I talk with entrepreneurs, I find most interested in how they can produce video and send out their video to the masses. However, with everyone producing video and sending it out there --- who is watching this stuff? Are we a world of producers only? Does anyone consume this stuff?

Think about it. The world is not just sitting around waiting for you to produce your video. They are interested in their stuff and what is going on in their lives. Chuck Reaves, a professional sales trainer from Georgia, shared an important insight many years ago. He said, it is revealing when in a conversation with another to monitor how much they ask about you. Be the one asking the questions and listening. When the conversation ends, pause and ask how much you know about that other person and how much they learned from you. Successful salespeople ask and listen more than they talk. It’s the old “Two ears, two eyes and one mouth---that’s the proportion you use them” adage.

So, what do you do to be relevant? How does this increase your Relationship Marketing? Here are some points that can help.

Be relentless in being relevant. Never stop thinking about how you can profoundly and positively impact others for their betterment. The more you can do to help them achieve the goals they want, the more will flow to you. It is the way of nature. It is the way of successful Relationship Marketing.

How to Remain Relevant:

1. Think Them, Not You. Find what is bothering them. Where is their pain? Hey, we all have pain. Find out what is the most painful, challenging thing they are enduring now. If you can fix it, make it so. If you can only listen and empathize, do that. They’ll at least know you care and that is a big step forward.

2. Stay Current. If you don’t know what is happening in our world, you can’t be relevant. However, we don’t need to watch cable news 24/7 (please!). I find reading gives me a quick overview of popular news stories I need to know. Then I go in-depth with Business Journals online for relevant business news (yes, shameless plug here). I also enjoy the Wall Street Journal and the Drudge Report to get a good overview. I avoid TV as it is so enmeshed with needless emotionalism and frankly, I don’t have time for all the senseless drama. Also podcasts are powerful for getting relevant information for business today.

3. Be Hungry For Solutions. Aggressively use your mind to soak up all the relevant information from a wide variety of sources you can. Then trust your marvelous subconscious brain to piece things together and come up with new ideas that are relevant problem-solvers. This builds relationships in business like nothing else. And while you’re hungry for solutions, provide tasty, delicious tidbits for others that will bring them back. Been only offering text? Try video. Try audio. Try teleseminars. Do something beneficial to others to break out of the mold. Do something radically delightful, which will make customers “giddy with glee.”

Being relevant is one of the most powerful ingredients in building successful business relationships. If you become ----here’s that horrible word --- boring, you are toast in today’s world. Stay alive. Be relevant for others and find ways to make their lives better.

Doing this will insure your own future success. On top of that – you’ll have a boatload of fun!

Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at