5 Simple Ways to Positively Impact Your Customers

May 20th, 2014

You’re missing out big time if you’re not engaging with your customers on a personal level. If you staying up at the fringe of “I’ll see you when I see you” level I can guarantee you’re missing our on more (profitable) recurring business.

Why it’s so important to get deep

Humans are social creatures by nature, and although we may be oblivious to it most of us crave social interactions.

People are many times more likey to buy from you if they have a relationship with you. If a customer likes you, chances are they’re going to keep coming back to you and they’re going to refer you to others.

And of course if they don’t like you, quite the opposite will be true.

Although many business owners are friendly to their customers during the purchase process, most miss the boat during the in-between stages. It’s easy to let the time in-between purchases slip away. It’s easy to get distracted by the many things we have happening in our lives.

Thank you technology

But you know what? Technology has made it much, MUCH easier to stay connected and keep the relationship with your customers strong.

Here are 5 simple and free things you can do immediately to stay better connected with your customers. If you do these I promise you’ll forge a deeper connection with your customers.

5 easy things you can do right now

1)   Buy their products and/or services. This one’s big. If you become a customer of your own customers, they will continue to be a customers of yours. Seems too straight-forward, I know. But it’s surprising how many people don’t practice this easy and powerful thing.

2)   “Friend” your customers on Facebook. Now, this isn’t for everyone. But for the right kind of business this can be massively powerful.

I’ll give you an example. I go to spin class every week. Several of my spin instructors have friended me on Facebook simply to stay connected. When this first happened I thought it was so cool. Our instructors cared enough about their students that they took the time to engage with them outside of class. Even if they don’t really care – which I highly doubt isn’t the case – they sure make it seem like they do (which is what really matters).

3)   Follow any blogs your customers write or subscribe to any newsletters they create. Many people have blogs these days. And if there’s one thing that shows you have an interest in others, following their blog is near the top.

4)   Follow them on Twitter and engage. This one’s easy. Go out of your way to follow your customers on Twitter and engage in converstation. Perhaps you’ll “favorite” or “re-tweet” some of their tweets. Surprisingly people do pay attention to this stuff (enough they might not admit it!)

5)   Connect with them on LinkedIn and endorse. Most professionals have a LinkedIn profile and many are active on it. Connect with your customers and endorse them for capabilities you think they’re worthy to be endorsed for. Praising others goes a long way.

Wrapping it up

Those are the 5 simple steps you can take right now to develop a stronger relationship with your customers. Of course there are MANY other things you can do, and I encourage you to do them (and please leave a comment below with other ideas).

Just remember: technology is your friend. Use it wisely and you can make a big impact for little to no investment.

Your friend,

Dennis Paresa

Got other powerful relationship building ideas? Drop a comment below and share it with other readers.

Oh, and if you haven’t already be sure to sign-up for my free weekly newsletter. It’s slammed with tips on marketing, sales, and other useful business building topics. Click here to sign up! 

 

 

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How To Be A Smarter Marketer

April 17th, 2014

Today we’re going to riff on a topic that could save you a lot of hours and lots of heartburn.

Take a sec and ask yourself these questions:

  • Are your sales & marketing approaches not getting the ROI (return on investment) you expect?
  • Do you feel torn about where you should focus your marketing and ad budget?
  • Are your marketing and advertising activities disorganized?

If you said “yes” to any one of these then you share many of the same sentiments as the majority of business owners.  

Why it pays to focus your marketing dollars

Without focus we tend to dilute the power of everything we do. Think about it.

  • When we’re only half committed to a workout plan we fail.
  • When we’re only partially paying attention to our kids we miss most of what’s happening.
  • When we scatter our marketing budget across various channels without really understanding what works best for our business we waste money.

Being only partially committed to any form of action vastly reduces what’s possible. This statement couldn’t be truer than when it comes to your marketing efforts. Wasting money on marketing that doesn’t work or kicking your ad dollars toward the latest social media craze isn’t going to get you closer to your business goals.

How to narrow your focus

Every heard of Vilfredo Pareto? Pareto was a 19th century Italian economist. Unsettled by the wide gap between the rich and poor in his country, Pareto decided to research the matter.

Pareto observed that 80% of his country’s land was owned by 20% of its people. He later validated his hypothesis through empirical testing and other surveys. This observation was later dubbed the “Pareto Principle” and the “80/20 Rule.”

Simply put, the 80/20 Rule states that for many events, 80% of the effects come from only 20% of the causes.

For example:

  • 80% of the wealth on our planet is owned by 20% of the population
  • 80% of NBA championships have been won by 20% of the teams (think Lakers, Bulls, Celtics)
  • 80% of insurance claims come from 20% of those insured
  • 80% of cars travel on only 20% of the roads

This list goes on and on….

So what’s the point of the 80/20 Rule?

Simple, identify the 20% of your marketing activities that yield 80% of the results.  EVERY business follows the 80/20 pattern. There are no exceptions because it’s a law of nature, not just business.

Once you find these activities double your marketing focus on them. For instance, if Google AdWords is a major source of internet traffic for you, consider doubling your dollars there and reducing spend in less effective channels (example: the Yellow Pages).

The more you take this approach the better you’ll at finding the marketing channels that give you the most bang for your buck.

Wrapping it up

Identifying the major marketing levers for your business isn’t as complicated as you might think. Most business owners I consult with don’t take this approach when evaluating marketing/advertising options. Not because it doesn’t work, rather they just don’t think of their marketing activities in this context. Often times, there are clear winners and losers.

Your friend,

Dennis Paresa

Got other solid marketing ideas? Drop a comment below and share it with other readers.

Oh, and if you haven’t already be sure to sign-up for my free weekly newsletter. It’s slammed with tips on marketing, sales, and other useful business building topics. Click here to sign up! 

 

 

 

 

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A Tool That Could Save You From Making a Huge Mistake

March 7th, 2014

Today I’m going to let you in on a secret that could save you from a business disaster.

Take a moment to ask yourself these questions:

  • Does losing important customer information keep you up at night?
  • Are your sales & marketing expenses more than you think they should be?
  • Is your customer service process ineffective, or worse, non existent?

If you said “yes” to any one of these I may have a simple, cost effective solution for you.

Let me introduce you to a friend of mine called “CRM”

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It’s software that helps you manage interactions with current and future customers. CRM uses technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, and customer service activities.

It takes all that info you’ve got kept on post-it notes, Excel worksheets, notebooks, etc., and brings them into one secure place. And if you use the right kind a CRM application, it’s dead-simple to use and very cost effective.

A CRM solution can help you

  • Cut sales and marketing costs
  • Improve customer service
  • Save you a heap time by automating customer follow-up emails and reminders 
  • Diminish the risk of losing valuable information on your customers

How you can get in the CRM ballgame

Integrating a CRM solution into your business is pretty simple, actually. As a business owner, there are a wide range of products to choose from. You should base your decision on the size of your business.

Small to midsize? Batchbook (www.batchbook.com) is an excellent choice. Batchbook has an easy to use interface, is simple (yet effective), and is maintained in the cloud. For those of you not familiar with the cloud, it basically means that it’s kept on someone else’s server (not on your premises). I use Batchbook and I can assure you that it kicks butt.

Larger company? Consider Salesforce (www.salesforce.com). Salesforce is one of the leaders in the CRM space. Salesforce also offers a cloud based service, though they’re a bit more expensive than Batchbook. Their website is loaded with useful info on the benefits of CRM – so, definitely check it out if you’re fishing for more info.

Most CRM providers now offer mobile access as well, allowing you to manage customer interactions directly from your smartphone or tablet. A huge bonus obviously for business owners on the run.

Wrapping it up

If you’re not currently using a CRM go spend a measly 30 minutes researching options – it may wind up being the best 30 minutes you spend all month. Many business owners I work with have never even heard of CRM before! That’s probably because up until recently CRM technology was primarily used by large companies because it wasn’t cost effective for small business owners. Technology has improved and the number of CRM providers has mushroomed over the past several years – thus allowing more business to reap the benefits of it.

I hope you’ll go check it out. It could have a massive impact on your business.

Your friend,

Dennis Paresa

Got other sales pipeline and customer management ideas? Drop a comment below and share it with other readers.

Oh, and if you haven’t already be sure to sign-up for my free weekly newsletter. It’s slammed with tips on marketing, sales, and other useful business building topics. Click here to sign up! 

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How to Increase Sales (by Doing Less)

February 7th, 2014

HammockIf I told you there was a way to increase sales by actually doing less – would you believe me? If you’re like the majority of entrepreneurs out there then you probably wouldn’t! Not that there’s anything wrong with working hard. As you’d likely agree, most business endeavors are in fact tough and time consuming.

What I’m about to share with you isn’t earth shattering and quite frankly you’ve probably already heard about it.  But, if you’re looking for an easy to understand tip (or reminder) for increasing output by working smarter then read on.

What we know about productivity is completely backwards

We’ve become accustomed to equating busy work with “real” work, and confusing multi-tasking with efficiency and productivity. We get tricked into thinking we’re being productive when in actuality we’re just doing busy work.

We all get distracted. It’s way too easy these days to get stuck in an endless stream of news, chatter, meetings, and other things that suck our productivity.

The result? We rarely get anything meaningful done. Our business suffers because we can’t focus on the activities that actually help it grow. And our personal life starts nosedives because we end-up with less time for friends and family.

Fortunately, there’s a simple approach for digging out of this rut.

Observations from one wise Italian

The 80/20 Rule is a concept initially observed in the 1800’s by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. Unsettled by the wide gap between the rich and poor in his country, Pareto decided to do some digging into the matter.

Pareto observed that 80% of his country’s land was owned by 20% of its people. He later validated his hypothesis through empirical research and other surveys. This observation was later dubbed the “Pareto Principle.” But others have since referred to it as the 80/20 Rule, so for simplicity sake will roll with that convention.

Simply put, the 80/20 Rule states that for many events, around 80% of the effects come from only 20% of the causes.

For example:

  • 80% of the wealth on our planet is owned by 20% of the population
  • 80% of NBA championships have been won by 20% of the teams (think Lakers, Bulls, Celtics)
  • 80% of insurance claims come from 20% of those insured
  • 80% of cars travel on only 20% of the roads

This list goes on and on….

The 80/20 Rule is fascinating because it can be applied to just about anything that has a cause and effect relationship. And because of that, it truly is a law of nature – not just of economics.

As a law of nature, it can be applied to your business

So this bears the question, how can you apply the 80/20 Rule to increase sales? Here it is in 4 simple steps:

1) Know what you want. Before you make radical shifts in your business, it’s important to first get crystal clear on what you want to improve. Is your ambition to find more customers? Or perhaps it’s to do more business with existing customers? Get clear on exactly what you’d like to improve.

2) Understand the 20%. This is where you identify the main drivers (the 20% that result in 80% of your sales) of your business. For instance, if you want to capture more sales from existing customers, you’ll need to identify your major customers (those who are responsible for 80% of your business). This may sound like a big task, but you’ll quickly find that it really isn’t. Most clients I work with can identify their major customers in under a minute.

Understanding who your big customers are will help you focus your efforts later on.

3) Set goals. Now, hang with me here. I know many business owners cringe at the thought of setting goals. I don’t know what it is about them, but at some point many of us developed a raw attitude at the thought of setting goals.

If you’re going to improve anything you’ll need to set a goal or target for it. This is one of the most important parts of the process. If you can’t measure your progress then what’s the point?

Using the example above, if you’d like to do more business with existing customers, set some targets for doing so. Setting targets will significantly improve your changes of success.

4) Action. This is the most important part in the process. You’ll need to focus relentlessly on action. Instead of letting yourself get pinned-down by all the little things impacting your business, you’ll need to focus. So what you’re doing here is narrowing your actions. This is where the 80/20 Rule comes into play…

None of us has the luxury of a surplus of time. We’ve all got stuff to do. Payroll, taxes, managing inventory… there’s a ton already on our plate.

The key here is focus. So when you do have time to take action toward your business targets, you’re dialed-in on exactly what you need to do. You’re not wasting your time on stuff that doesn’t matter. When you focus on those activities that generate 80% of the results, you don’t need to spend your entire day acting busy. Instead you can play it smart.

If you start doing this today you’ll start seeing results. Start small – you don’t need to boil the ocean. For instance, I know that 80% of my online referrals come from LinkedIn. So what do it do? I spend 80% of my social media efforts on LinkedIn, and 20% on the rest. That’s playing it smart.

Your friend,

Dennis Paresa

Got other 80/20 ideas? Drop a comment below and share it with other readers.

Oh, and if you haven’t already be sure to sign-up for my free weekly newsletter. It’s slammed with tips on marketing, sales, and other useful business building topics. Click here to sign up! 

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How To Increase Sales (Part 4)

January 3rd, 2014

ToiletsThis is the final installment of a four part series on how to increase sales.

This one will be a shocker to most of you. One of the most underrated tactic for increasing sales is perhaps one of the simplest: paying attention to details.

I don’t eat at restaurants with dirty bathrooms

A mentor of mine, a former CEO at a global advertising agency, once remarked that you can judge the cleanliness of a restaurant’s kitchen (and it’s food!) by looking at one place: their restroom. If there’s a filthy restroom, you can guarantee the kitchen is in worse shape. If a restaurant can’t keep clean an area that the customer’s can see, how can you expect them to maintain an area that customer’s can’t?

This one’s a no brainer for me. If a restaurant can spend 1% of their day keeping their bathrooms clean there’s no flippin’ way I’m going to trust them with cooking my food.

Now here’s the problem: restaurant managers who don’t pay attention to how clean their bathrooms are do so because it’s too small of a detail. They’d rather focus on making money, which is fine – but if you don’t focus on the important details that can really impact your business then you’ll lose in the long run.

The challenge

The hard part about details is they tend to become invisible. There are so many things jockeying for position in our minds that sometimes we lose sight of the little things that really matter.

For example, I’ve created a ton of presentations in my life. I used to have a manager that was brutally focused on what seemed to be the insignificant parts of presentation. Font size, alignment, font type, etc. So much so that you seriously wondered if he ever actually read any part of them!

One day I decided to point out his penchant for details. I thought it was silly that he was so obsessive about presentation details that seemes so trivial.

It turns out he had a method to his madness. And it made perfect sense…

If you neglect the little things and your clients or customers notice, they won’t be able to focus on anything else. They’ll be so distracted by a misaligned bullet point or a misspelt word that they’ll lose focus on what really matters – the presentation itself.

Whoa.

And worse, a client or customer of yours will extrapolate those little detail mishaps into other areas of your presentation, business, product, etc.

People love to make assumptions.

If you give your clients the ammo to make assumptions about the big things in your business based on the seemingly insignificant, then you’ve got a problem on your hands. One that could end-up costing you dearly.

Wrapping it up

Go spend 10 minutes today thinking about the details of a specific part of your business. The important thing here is that you don’t get bogged down in the details or focus on the trivial – that isn’t healthy. Instead, think about the details that actually do impact your business. Think about what your client’s see regularly. It could be a bathroom, website, menu, invoice, furniture piece, etc.

Next, imagine how your business might improve if you took these seemingly small details up a notch… then, go do it.

I know you’ll see a difference.

Your friend,

Dennis Paresa

Got other creative ideas on this topic? Drop a comment below and share it with other readers.

Oh, and if you haven’t already be sure to sign-up for my free weekly newsletter. It’s slammed with tips on marketing, sales, and other useful business building topics. Click here to sign up! 

 

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