Marketing, Lead Generation, and Research: A 3in1

Marketing, Lead Generation, and Research: A 3in1 Solution.

by: Jay Gilmore

I Hate Cold Calls

Long before I started my business, I realized that I wasn’t good at telephone sales and that I would need to generate leads in another way. I developed a surefire way to generate those leads, interest in me, and my business, through the use of telephone market research.

There are many benefits of doing market research including the ability to learn more about my target marketกs behaviors and opinions, honing messages and presentations based on real, first hand responses, as well as, to test out new messages or theories prior to wide release.

As a website developer and consultant, my large market is businesses and my main target group is small business owners. In order to contact these owners I would need access to their contact information.

For my target market, I found a regional business development directory to be very complete including names, addresses, phone numbers and website information. Some of the information was a little out of date but it was going to be far better than just cold calling to reach ‘the Owner or Managerก and get successfully past the front desk person etc. For other BusinesstoBusiness companies I might suggest the local Chamber of Commerce or Business Association. Contact lists may be purchased or leased from outside sources, however, that is beyond the scope of this article.

For a client of mine, who is in the property care and landscaping industry, I was able to suggest hitting the phone book in the areas he wanted to generate business in and call every twentieth or thirtieth name in the book. The only criteria his respondent had to meet, was that they are a homeowner or property owner. In his case, my client is located in a small town and most respondents would be homeowners. If he were in a major city I would recommend that he be calling property management companies and target areas of the city with a high concentration of houses. Most cities still have their phone books broken down by community or borough.

Developing the Survey

The first step in this process was to develop the survey. To do that you first need to determine the subject of the survey. This should also relate directly to the message you wish to communicate to the lead. For my company I wanted to find out one of two things, if the respondent had a website what were the circumstances, experiences and opinions of having it or if the respondent didn’t have a website the circumstances and reasons for not.

Tuning in the Respondent

As you can see, these questions relate to only one specific service websites. This allows the respondent to easily understand what subject area you are talking about so that when you switch to providing your message they are already thinking about that subject. In my case, the respondent could easily tell that I was asking questions about websites, they probably figure that my business has something to do with websites.

Keep Questions Open Ended

The survey questions should be as open ended as possible. This is not scientific, as it cannot be quantified in small sample sizes, but it is the best way to avoid leading the respondent to a perceived answer. They may feel that you are looking for a particular response. This can happen when you use a scaled response survey such as ratings of 1 to 5 or 1 to 7. In my own personal experience this type of survey is best left to academics. In most cases you are looking for opinions and experiences of an individual. Ask questions like, กCould you explain how you felt about the experience when you last purchased a car?ก

Keep Things Brief There should be no more than 10 to 15 questions on the survey. The fewer questions and the more open ended the better the dialogue with the respondent and the more valuable the information.

The Wrap Up

At the end of the survey when I ask if they are interested in more information about my company and services they already have an idea of what to expect and are more likely to be open to hear and receive my message because there is no surprise and I was not beating them over the head with message. I merely made them think about their website or lack thereof.

Script = Professionalism

Once you have developed your survey you should write a script. I know I can hear your sighs now you don’t want to sound like a robot or just another telemarketer but the use of a script will ensure that you sound like a professional. The danger with a script is that it might not be conversational or may not consider the person on the other end of the phone. To avoid sounding robotic and like you are reading a script you should read it aloud to yourself. If you are unsure about how it sounds try it out on someone in your home or office. The worst thing you can do is to call up someone and start in with, กUuuhhmmm, could I speak to uuuhhmmm�ก

Your script should include a brief introduction. In my case my introduction went like this, กHello, Mr. Adams. My name is Jay Gilmore. The reason I am calling is that I am doing some market research for my business services company in your area and I wanted to get some feedback from fellow business owners, like yourself.ก

Note that I didn’t mention the name of my company. This shows the respondent that I am a person calling to talk to another person people like to talk to people and not businesses.

Removing the Common Objection

The next words that come off the script are very important, กI am not going to try to sell you anything, and I just want to ask a few questions to help in planning my business.ก

This has worked every single time to break through the, กIกm not going to listen to a sales pitchก instinct that so many business owners and consumers have developed over the years.

Ask for Their Time

Now that I have broken through their resistance I am able to request permission and their time to do the survey. Be respectful of the respondentกs time by making sure that the survey may be completed in less than five minutes. Tell them how long it will take and be honest. It is not very professional to lie or mislead people about the time you are asking them for.

Once the survey is complete you should conclude by thanking the respondent for assisting you with your research.

The Marketing Starts Now Actually it Already Started

The marketing part is next. In closing you should briefly introduce your company and the service being marketed. An example would be, ก Thank you Mr. Adams for all your help. I would like to let you know that my business, Joeกs Flowers is a local flower shop that specializes in arrangements and designs from North American plants and flowers. Would you be interested in receiving more information about our services and our company?ก

After answering questions in your survey about flowers and their buying habits they are probably ready to find more information about your company and its products or services. Get their mailing address and / or email address and any other information you require to send them the information you want.

What to Send

Sending the information about your business can make or break this relationship. You have already gotten willing permission to send information to the respondent now you have to send them something that will lead them to choose to buy your product or service or refer a friend or colleague.

The contents of the information package be it electronic or print should be a letter of introduction and thanks for the participation in the survey and some free and useful information that they will relate to regarding your product or services.

This information package is a first step to an ongoing relationship that will allow you to nurture goodwill and relationships with people who are actually interested in your business. The respondents will be expecting some form of marketing message but don’t overdo it. Pushing too hard to close a sale at this stage will not work with this piece. This is not a direct mail promotion so don’t treat it as such. That being, said don’t hesitate to place importance and urgency on the message. Use benefit oriented copy to entice readers to take some form of action.

Followup Will Make the Sale Well Some Anyway

As you bring the respondents closer to your businessกs products and or services by providing valuable information and examples of how it can better their lives many will choose to buy your products and services.

Give Up The Cold Call

You have now just read a great way to expose you business to new markets, new people, learn more about those markets and people, and get your message out all with nothing more than a telephone and a list of phone numbers. What is best is that you were able to get people to willingly accept your message without the anxiety and resistance of a sales cold call.

About The Author

Jay Gilmore is a Developer, Consultant, and Author who develops affordable websites and practical marketing solutions for real small businesses. You can check out his website at http://www.smashingred.com .

Jay publishes his articles, insights and resources on Marketing, Website Development, and Small Business at http://www.smashingred.com/resources, whenever he is not helping clients achieve their goals.

Copyright 2005 Jay Gilmore, SmashingRed Web & Marketing. All rights reserved.

jay@smashingred.com

This article was posted on August 12, 2005

by Jay Gilmore

Why You Need an ArticleMarketing Strategy before

Why You Need an ArticleMarketing Strategy before Posting a Single Article Online I

by: Dr. Lynella Grant

Part 1 of a 2part series

To read Part 2

http://www.promotewitharticles.com/strategy102.html

First, Define your Bulls Eye

If you’re going to write and post articles on the Internet, be unambiguous about what you expect them to accomplish. Don’t start writing just yet. Think beyond the mechanics of writing an article or deciding where to post it.

It’s one thing to spin out an article or two. It’s quite another to incorporate them into a strategy that builds your website traffic, reputation, and business. All your marketing methods should work together online and off.

Your Strategy Clarifies:

Who you’re trying to reach

How to find them

What you want them to do next (does your website support that aim?)

Your primary goal and message

How articles (with particular titles and keywords) mesh with your other marketing

Article marketing is nothing more than a way to get information (not advertising) broadly distributed on the Internet. It can’t compensate for a muddled or dull message. And it won’t build your site traffic unless it connects to readers in an interesting way.

Write Articles that Trumpet a Unique Business Message

A frequent business error is treating each customer attracting activity as though it stands alone. Yet each method works better when echoing a common message that links to the others.

To quote Roy Williams, the Wizard of Ads, http://www.wizardofads.com กIt’s hard to tell a powerful story badly. But it’s easy to tell a weak story well. I’ve never seen a business fail because they were ‘reaching the wrong people.ก But I’ve seen thousands fail because they were saying the wrong thing… It’s amazing how many people become the กright peopleก when you’re saying the right thing. Believe it or not, it’s advertising third, customer delight second, strategy always first.ก

Maximize your CustomerAttracting Methods

Last year I wrote an ebook showing how to make the business website and Yellow Page ad work together to bring new customers. It made the point that each promotional method has its own strengths, and reaches different groups http://www.yellowpagesage.com/smarts.html. By them working together, each approach does a more persuasive job.

As an example, the directory ad should display a website address. A recent study found that over 60% of people surveyed only call Yellow Page ads that show a website (even if they don’t intend to visit it). Besides, the website lets the business provide information that won’t fit within the dimensions of an ad.

A single approach can’t cover all your bases. The same applies to article marketing.

Article Marketing Strengths

Ability to deliver an interesting กsampleก of your expertise

Long enough to be informative (600800 words)

Reaches and speaks to tightly focused interest groups

Quickly delivers the message throughout the Internet

Long shelf life some websites keep articles posted for years

Builds on the keywords that your website uses

Incominglinks from websites that post your articles

Plan More than One Article at a Time

You can’t develop much momentum with one article. That’s like shooting a gun with a single bullet, or a PPC (payper click) campaign for just one term. The odds of hitting your mark aren’t too good. Several articles written to reinforce each other generate more mileage. As you get more articles out there, people start paying attention, and you can target more keywords. Repeated publications develop a personality that readers recognize.

Plan a number of titles in advance, with a theme building from one to the next. Keep each one tightly focused, but related to the others. In that way, you develop the indepth กvoiceก of an expert. And your information won’t lapse into hohum generalities. Write firstrate articles when you rely on the extensive free resources http://www.promotewitharticles.com at Article Marketing Academy.

Try writing some in a series (like, Part 1 of 3 parts) to build anticipation for future segments. Also, your message won’t be confined to the 600 to 800 word article limit. Since each article in the series resides on your website, readers needn’t wait to read them all (giving them an incentive to visit your site). Later, the whole series can be offered as a special report or ebook (once related material is added).

Write with your keywords in mind. Maintain your primary message, with a different twist for parallel niches. Go to the extra effort to say something new. That’s easy when you provide stories, examples, case studies from your own experience. As you dish out practical assistance in your articles, readers will be eagerly watching for your next ones.

© Lynella Grant

Part 2 includes posting articles, writing to please the search engines, and ways to reuse articles. Part 2 of 2, http://www.promotewitharticles.com/strategy102.html

About The Author

Dr. Lynella Grant http://www.promotewitharticles.com Article Marketing Academy Promote yourself, business, website, or book with articles posted online.

Author, Yellow Page Smarts, http://www.yellowpagesage.com/smarts.html (719) 3959450

grant@promotewitharticles.com

This article was posted on January 23

by Dr. Lynella Grant

Phone Tips To Get Things Done: Professional Phone

Phone Tips To Get Things Done: Professional Phone Skills

by: John Robertson

It happens all the time, you hear someone over the telephone and you make a generalization about the person you are speaking with. It may not be fair and it is akin to judging a book by its cover, but itกs true nevertheless.
Within 60 seconds, people will make assumptions about oneกs education, background, ability and personality based on their voice alone.
What type of impression is your กphoneก voice making? Indeed there are two areas you should be aware of when speaking. One is กwhatก you say, the other the กhowก you say it. Studies show that as much as 87% of the listenerกs opinion of you is based on your voice alone. That leaves only 13% allocated to what we are saying to make a positive impression. With numbers like these it is easy to see why your voice is so important in your career and personal life.
Today we live in a กvoice mailก environment. We are playing กphone tagก, leaving messages and listening to voice mails left by others. It may take as many as 34 tries before actual contact is made and you have a conversation. By the time you do connect, you can be assured that other party already has formed an impression about you.
The following are some tips that will help you improve your phone voice and technique.
1. THIRD RING RULE: Answer the phone by the third ring or make sure you voice mail is set to pick up by the third ring. Today people are not inclined to wait much longer and will assume you are not available and hang up. Remember, as much as we think we don’t like voice mail, we like the option of leaving a message.
2. PROFESSIONAL GREETING: Remember the 87% rule above and make a good impression. Be aware of what you are going to say in the greeting. Then practice and rehearse BEFORE you leave the greeting on your answering machine. Be short and to the point. Don’t drag out the greeting. It is obvious you are กOut of the office or away from your deskก otherwise you would answer your phone. Consider leaving such statements out of your greeting unless you are actually away from the office, then say so and leave a date for your return. I recommend that you leave clear instructions as to what information you need from the caller. Reminder the caller to leave their phone number, best time to return the call and a brief subject.
3. PREPARE THEN ANSWER: Have a note pad and pen by your phone at all times. Write down the callerกs name and use it during the conversation.
4. BE AN ACTIVE LISTENER: Take notes, ask for correct spelling, etc. 5. PROMPTLY RETURN CALLS: Make it your personal goal that you will be one that returns phone calls. This may very well be the most professional characteristic of all you can develop. Set a goal to return phone calls within 4 hours, it will make a positive statement about you and your image.
6. CHECK YOU MESSAGES: Check your messages several times a day. Learn how to dial in from a remote phone to get your voice mails. Many times the caller is facing a deadline and your information may be crucial for them to complete their assignment.
ITกS A TWO WAY STREET. When You Leave Messages For Others Remember These Tips:
1. SLOW DOWN: Don’t speak too fast. Slow down when you are leaving a message, especially if you have an accent. If you make your message hard to understand or if the listener has to replay it several times to get your message your reputation is slipping in their mind.
2. CLEARLY SAY YOUR NAME: Make absolutely sure the caller will understand your name. Consider spelling your name if hard to pronounce or is not a common name.
3. SLOW DOWN: When leaving your phone number go slow. Most likely the listener is writing down your number, make it easy for them to do so. Repeat the number. Consider saying your number at the beginning and end of your voice mail. People will appreciate this.
4. LEAVE YOUR NAME, COMPANY NAME AND REASON: Leave the listener with all the information they will need to know about you. Don’t make them guess. Always leave the reason you are calling. It is very unprofessional to just leave a message simply saying กgive me a callก
5. MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO RETURN YOUR CALL: Tell them a good time to return your call. Give them a date, time and phone number.
6. BE PROFESSIONAL: People do judge you by the tone of your voice. Increase your image by sounding professional in everything you do over the phone
Remember that you won’t be able to avoid phone tag, but you can definitely put things in your favor by doing several small things that will make a BIG difference in your image.
For more details on Business Communications, including effective email and voice mail use contact www.TrainingConnections.ORG.
(c) 2004 TrainingConnections.ORG

All rights reserved

About The Author

John Robertson is a Professional Trainer with over 20 years experience in Mid to Sr. Level Management in several Fortune 500 companies. His real world experience will bring credibility to your company. TrainingConnections.Org focuses on three major categories of Employee Performance Improvement; Leadership, Management and Sales Training. Contact us today for more information or check our web site.

http://trainingconnections.org/

mailto:info@trainingconnections.org

This article was posted on July 10, 2004

by John Robertson

ขImprove Your Email’s Deliverabilityข

ขImprove Your Email’s Deliverabilityข

by: Karen Fegarty

With SPAM accounting for over 50% of the email that is delivered to our inboxes many corporations and ISPs have implemented solutions to deal with this growing problem. SPAM filters, IP blocking, domain blocking, and legislation are in place, but often messages that are, in fact, wanted by the recipients, are filtered and not delivered. What do legitimate marketers need to do to ensure that their clients receive their messages? We have collected a number of rules that, if you employ, can greatly increase the number of emails that are delivered and opened by your customers or prospective customers.

1. When delivering to AOL email addresses you need to make sure your SMTP serviceกs domain can be verified using a reverse DNS lookup. Check with your Webmaster or Host Provider. For more information on this topic check out:

http://www.dnsstuff.com/info/revdns.htm and

http://ezinetips.com/articles/resources/20010817.shtml

2. America Online (AOL) has recently released the newest version of its product, AOL 9.0. To protect itกs users from receiving SPAM, AOL has put some measures in place that will affect how your message is received by your AOL subscribers. All graphics will be blocked from being displayed in HTML emails; as well links will be deactivated for any new message sent to an AOL 9.0 inbox. When an email is received in AOL 9.0, users will have to click a link at the top of each message (Show Images & Enable Links) to view any graphics within your email. If this action is not taken, images and links will not be displayed or enabled.

This is the default setting for AOL 9.0; however, the email recipient does have the ability to add the senderกs From Address into their address book, which AOL classifies as People I Know. Once this has been done, all emails received from this address in the future will automatically have images and links showing correctly.

Your recipients must add you to their address book as a sender they recognize and approve. You should add a line to the top of your email, which states something like this… กAttention AOL 9.0 users please add fromaddress@company.com to your address book so that you can see our entire messageก. For more information on this issue visit: http://library.marketingsherpa.com/barrier.cfm?CID=2455 MS 2003 will also filter the images. For more information visit: http://ktdcommunications.com/communications/katydid_023.htm

3. Be aware of the current and proposed SPAM laws. Check out http://www.spamlaws.com for current legislation.

4. Ensure that each message contains an unsubscribe statement that links to a valid URL or a valid Mailto: link. However do not use the words ‘to unsubscribeก as these are now getting filtered. Use something like ‘to leaveก.

5. Do not include .exe or attachments in your message.

6. Do not purchase lists.

7. Do not rent lists that are not doubleoptin.

8. Don’t sell or rent out your own lists.

9. Always remove any unsubscribes immediately

10. Always remove any undeliverables immediately.

11. Remind people of their relationship with you. Tell them in the message the email address that they used when they subscribed.

12. Communicate with your recipients on a regular basis, but don’t communicate with recipients too often. An email that is welcomed on a monthly basis may become unwelcome when sent more frequently.

13. Include a correct reply email address and telephone contact information in each email.

14. Avoid sending long text articles.

15. Do not send HTML messages without Text alternatives.

16. Avoid sending messages with a large number of hotlinks.

17. Do not use BCC distribution methods with over 10 names per email. Use a product like Broadc@st, which creates an individual message for each email.

18. If you are sending a newsletter place the word กnewsletterก and a date including month in the subject line. This reduces your SPAM score.

19. Watch your email lists, heavy B2C distribution to @aol.com, @hotmail.com. @msn.com etc may be flagged.

20. Avoid using words or phases that trigger spam filters. For more information on this visit: http://www.doctorebiz.com/06/021106b.htm and http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt8/spamfilter_phrases.htm

21. Check out the common tests that filters like Outlook and SpamAssassin use to filter your emails and try to avoid the common issues. For information on these tests visit http://office.microsoft.com/assistance/preview.aspx?AssetID=HA010450051033&CTT=98 and http://eu.spamassassin.org/tests.html

22. Routinely check http://www.spamcop.net to see if you have been blacklisted unfairly. Send an email to have this rectified. To check their list enter: http://spamcop.net/bl.shtml?111.111.111.11 (where 111.111.111.11 is the IP address of your sending SMTP.)

23. Use services such as Assuranceกs Message Checker to precheck your messages for common filtering flags and Assuranceกs Blacklist Alert to keep on top of where you may be blacklisted.

24. Sending your delivery in small batches of 500 or less might avoid filtration.

25. For additional information and a practical guide on avoiding SPAM filters check out Marketing Sherpa’s ขHowto Kit: Get Your Permission Email Past Filtersข http://www.sherpastore.com/store/page.cfm/p.cfm/2094?1044.

About The Author

Karen Fegarty is a professional marketer working with both MailWorkZ and ezTrackZ. Check out the ezTrackZ ad tracker product at http://www.eztrackz.com. and MailWorkZ’s flagship email marketing tool., Broadc@st at http://www.mailworkz.com

This article was posted on January 28, 2004

by Karen Fegarty

Email Follow Up Tips, 8 Of Them…

Email Follow Up Tips, 8 Of Them…

by: Daniel Levis

The first thing you need to do is get your emails opened & read. Spend at least as much time worrying about the subject line of each e mail in your sequence as you do worrying about the body.

Brainstorm at least five subject lines, pick the one most likely to stop your prospects dead in their tracks (tip, the only way to know for sure is to test), and use the rest of them in the body of the message. And ALWAYS begin your title with the person’s first name.

Curiosity Killed The Cat Itกs human nature to be curious. One of the most effective ways to get your message opened is to throw a little mystery into the heading. Mystery, mixed with relevant benefit, will get your message opened. But thatกs not all.

Itกs still easy to bail after the first paragraph, so curiosity can also help to drive your prospect deeper into the body of the message. Remember, the deeper your readers go into your copy, the more difficult it will be for them to STOP reading it.

It doesn’t hurt to tell a little bit about what your offer isn’t, to build up the suspense, and help drive your reader further down the page.

Tell A Story In 1919, a Russian immigrant named Max Sackheim, stumbled upon a fascinating discovery. He had been hired by the Sherwin Cody School of English to come up with a mail order advertisement, and his original headline read, กDo You Make Mistakes In Englishก?

The ad didn’t pull.

By adding one magic little word to the headline, Max was able to make the very same ad produce amazing results. The ad became so profitable that it ran for over 40 years straight, when Max changed the headline to, กDo You Make These Mistakes In Englishก?

People’s curiosity got the better of them. They just couldn’t resist reading Maxกs advertisement. They were all wondering if they might be making ‘theseก mistakes in English. Max was able to slip right under the buyer’s natural resistance to being sold, and suck them right into the advertisement.

Story telling has the same effect.

You Can Never Over Educate Nobody ever bought a hammer, because they wanted a hammer. What they wanted was a bunch of nails tapped home just right. Sequential email follow up is ideal for showing your prospects how to achieve their goals with your product.

Remember, the more comfortable your prospects are about the กHow Toก of using your product or service to solve their problem, the more confidence theyกll have in your ability & willingness to really help them. One of the most effective things you can do with your autoresponder, is to offer free courses & tutorials that show your prospects how to use your products to get the results they’re looking for.

It’s the ultimate soft sell, and it’s very effective!

Warts & All Itกs all about trust. Thatกs why you’re following up on your prospects in the first place, right? Your prospects need to be exposed an average of 7 to 9 times before succumbing to your seduction.

Pointing out the imperfections of your product can go a long way toward building that trust. You don’t necessarily have to slam your product, but giving the straight goods on the pitfalls that the buyer might encounter when using it, and helping them to avoid them, demonstrates your honesty, and openness.

Itกs like showing the front of your hands, in a facetoface encounter.

Be Specific Details, exact numbers, & vivid descriptions worked into your copy are worth their weight in gold, because they’re far more believable than generalities. When you make a claim, back it up with facts & figures.

Your prospects are both naturally skeptical, and hungry for truth.

Don’t Be Shy About Objections Every product has natural objections. Don’t be afraid to bring them up.

Read your copy after being away from it for a while, and at some point in the message youกll feel them creeping in. Thatกs the point when you add something like, กOK, you’re probably thinking . I can understand why you might feel that way, many others who looked at this product felt just the same way, until they found out about .ก

You need to come up with a list of reasons why your prospect would want to buy your product or service, and also the reasons why not.

The Fear of Loss Is Greater Than The Desire For Gain Often the fear of losing something, sometimes even something that we do not yet have, is a stronger motivator than our desire for gain.

The fear of missing out on a special price or promotion is a good example of this.

Don’t we all want what we can’t have? Work hard to find ways to make your product scarce, or at least make your offer scarce, by offering it for a limited time.

Justify Your Offer People know that you’re in business to make a profit, and that you don’t give things away out of the goodness of your heart.

When they see a sale, or a special price, or a bonus offer, the wheels naturally start turning in the back of their heads. Whatกs the catch? While itกs our emotions that truly motivate us, logic does have a nasty habit of getting in the way.

When you are open with your prospects about the reason why you’re offering them a special deal, itกs amazing how easily theyกll accept your reasoning, and abandon their resistance. The same applies to giving a legitimate reason why your special offer absolutely expires on a specific date.

So there you have it. Eight email follow up secrets, revealed.

Until next time, Good Selling!

Copyright 2005 Daniel Levis

About The Author

Daniel Levis is a top marketing consultant & direct response copywriter based in Toronto Canada. Recently, Daniel & worldrenowned publicist & copywriter Joe Vitale teamed up to co author ขMillion Dollar Online Advertising Strategies – From The Greatest Letter Writer Of The 20th Century!ข, a tribute to the late, great Robert Collier.

Let the legendary Robert Collier show you how to write words that sell…Visit the below site & get 3 FREE Chapters!

http://www.AdvertisingOnlineStrategies.com/adstrategies.html

This article was posted on March 19

by Daniel Levis

Does Your Message Pass the Test?

Does Your Message Pass the Test?

by: Claire Cunningham

Develop an effective benefit message and you’re well on your way to building your company’s entire marketing program. After all, you need focus to create success. Without it you can wind up expending effort without getting the reward (income, that is) you’re looking for.
Start with these three ingredients:

Understanding of what the customer needs and wants
Knowledge of the competition’s strengths, weaknesses and messages
Insight about what you offer

Gather the information and chart it. What you’re looking for is a hole where there’s a customer need that you address and hopefully, the competition doesn’t.
Found it? That’s the core of your message. Found several holes? You’ll need to prioritize.
Now, write alternative introductory sentences. Remember, they need to be customerbenefit oriented, that is, they need to explain what the customer GETS. Got your alternatives ready? Here are seven questions to ask of potential benefit messages. They’ll help you find the promise or message that will get you the most mileage:
1) Is it meaningful?
This is where knowledge of the customer comes into play. Your benefit message should be based on the real needs of the people who use your products or services.
2) Is it sustainable?
Establishing your unique position doesn’t happen overnight. The message you choose should be based on what you can deliver long term.
3) Is it believable?
Can you keep the promise you’re making? For example, if your benefit message centers on ขsuperior service,ข do you understand what your customers’ expectations are? Are you committed to making good on this promise over time?
4) Is it unique?
Often there are many providers of a product or service. How do you set yourself apart from the rest of the pack?
5) Is it concrete and easy to understand?
If you ask your audience to think too hard, they probably won’t! Simple, straightforward messages work best.
6) Is it in your own words?
If you’re going to be saying this as an introduction to your business, you need to be comfortable with the words and phrasing. Practice saying messages out loud to test them.
7) Is it attentiongrabbing?
You can’t bore someone into buying! Use words that demonstrate your passion, your understanding of client needs. Use words that engage interest.
Test your message with prospects. Watch for their reactions. Ask what they like and don’t like. You might get stuck. If that happens, a marketing and communications consultant can craft alternative benefit statements, provide an objective viewpoint, even handle the upfront research.

About The Author

Claire Cunningham, president of Clairvoyant Communications, Inc., has 20+ years’ experience developing and implementing successful businesstobusiness marketing and communications programs. Sign up for Claire’s monthly newsletter, Communique, at www.clairvoyantcommunications.com. Claire can be reached at 7634793499 or email to claire@claircomm.com

clairee@claircomm.com

This article was posted on July 13, 2004

by Claire Cunningham

10 Elements Every Direct Mail Piece Should Have

10 Elements Every Direct Mail Piece Should Have

by: Joe Niewierski

Don’t want your direct mail to end up in the trash with the rest of the unread mail? Studies show an effective direct mail campaign should draw a .5 to 1 percent response. These 10 tips will help you get the results you want:

1. A clear, bold headline. On the envelope or front of the mailer there should be one central message. The best way to achieve that is with a bold, clear headline that’s not cluttered up with other text. A good guideline is to have the headline fill up at least 15% of the front of the mailer.

2. A graphic that supports the message. The graphic should be easy to understand and add to the message the headline is trying to convey. For instance, if you are trying to get people to list their home you would want to show a home with SOLD sign clearly visible out front. That graphic reinforces the message more than a simple picture of a home.

3. Color that pops. Make the headline and other text stand out by using a color that stands out from the background color. When you look at the card, ask yourself, กWhat do I see first?ก If your answer isn’t the headline, you might want to tweak the colors.

4. Subheads that lead into text. If you have a couple of paragraphs of text with no lead in, there’s nothing to entice people to actually read the copy. A subhead will give people a place to start reading. If you have only a 100 words or so you may be able to get away with it, but if the text gets any longer than that the average reader will want to have some guideposts along the way.

5. Benefits, benefits, benefits. One of the biggest errors people make in advertising is stating features, rather than benefits. For example, never assume recipients know what benefit can be derived from a lower interest rate on their mortgage. Let them know how their monthly payments will go down.

6. The offer. An offer is always a good idea and should represent a specific reason to call now, such as ขLimited supplyข or ขInterest rates are climbing.ข

7. Your company name and logo. Although this needs to be on the mailer, it shouldn’t overshadow the offer. Customers care most about what you can do for them.

8. Call to action. Tell prospects exactly what you want them to do. ขCall today for more informationข or ขSee us onlineข are two of the most common desired actions.

9. Contact information. Provide your name, phone number, and Web address directly following the call to action. Whatever you ask prospects to do, give them the means to do it easily.

10. Return address. A return address ensures you’ll get returned mail from the post office and sends a message that you’re an established professional. People feel better knowing the company they’re dealing with has an actual location.

About The Author

Joe Niewierski, the VP of Marketing & Promotion at PostcardMania, became a published writer after graduating with a BA in Advertising from the University of South Florida. Joy Gendusa founded PostcardMania in 1998; her only assets a computer and a phone. In 2004 the company did close to $9 million in sales and employs over 60 persons. She attributes her explosive growth to her ability to choose incredible staff and her innate marketing savvy. Now she’s sharing her marketing secrets with others. For more free marketing advice, visit her website at www.postcardmania.com.

This article was posted on February 21

by Joe Niewierski

Building an Email Marketing List

Building an Email Marketing List

by: Megan Corwin

Thereกs a marketing estimate that it takes something like seven contacts with a potential client before they purchase. Email is a wonderful way to handle these contacts for a variety of reasons:

you can send one message to a large number of people

compared to traditional hard copy marketing it can be a lot less expensive

if you use a list management system you can get instant results like how many people opened the email and how many กclick throughsก there were to the links in the email

The most important part of an email campaign is having a list of qualified email addresses to send your marketing piece.

So just how are you supposed to get those email addresses? The best method is to have a sign up form on your website to capture the visitorกs information. Here are some DOs and DON’ts for creating a list for your online business.

DO:

Offer an incentive for them to give their email address. People usually won’t give away their personal information unless they get something in return. Ideas for incentives include: a free report or guide, entry into a contest, product demo or samples, a complimentary consultation, etc.

Provide valuable content in your communications. Offer tips and advice for the customer along side your marketing message to keep it from being too กsalesy.ก

Ask for valuable marketing data on the signup form. Pick only one or two things to keep the registration process short and easy. What data could really help you with your marketing? Knowing their gender, age, location, interests?

DON’t:

Sell or give away your list.

Fill up their inbox with messages. Keep to a monthly or weekly schedule at most.

Bog your message down with lots of advertising. It will quickly be deleted.

It can take time and effort to build your internet marketing list, but the results will be well worth it.

About The Author

Megan Corwin is an internet marketing coach who helps work at home professionals grow their businesses. For more articles and advice about online marketing strategy and solutions, become a member of Megan’s online community for work at home women: http://www.wahwoman.com/membership.html

This article was posted on February 25, 2004

by Megan Corwin

How To Survive Speed Networking

How To Survive Speed Networking

by: Alan Matthews

ข Speed networking ข is a contradiction in terms.

The whole point of networking is to build relationships over time so that people get to know and trust you.

The point of speed networking is to see how many people you can talk to in the shortest possible time. The format may vary but the basic approach is the same, you get 30 or 60 seconds to speak to someone, then you move on and talk to someone else.

You don’t have time to ask questions or have a conversation, you just say your piece. Not very good for building rapport!

So should you just avoid these events? No! But I’ve found there’s a certain way to approach them which will be most productive.

Here are my tips to survive – and thrive – in the world of speed Networking.

1. HAVE ONE SPECIFIC GOAL

My own goal at these events is to get people to sign up for the free report which gets them onto my mailing list so I can build the relationship later through my newsletter. Yours might be to get them to visit your website or ring a Freephone number.

Once you know the action you want them to take, follow these steps.

2. TELL THEM WHO YOU WORK WITH AND HOW YOU HELP THEM

Have a short, simple statement that says, ข This is who I work with and this is what I do for them .ข Focus on the client, not on yourself. For example, ข I work with business owners who want to get better results from their networking. I help them to prepare and deliver a compelling marketing message so they get more clients with less effort. ข

3. ASK THEM TO TAKE THE ACTION YOU WANT

Most people miss this, they end up saying ข Well, that’s me, if you’re interested please give me a ring. ข

You have to tell them what you want them to do.

For example, ข I have a free report which reveals the 6 big mistakes people make when talking about their businesses. Here’s the address you need to get your copy. Just send a blank email.ข

4. HAND THEM SOMETHING TO REINFORCE YOUR MESSAGE

My business card has a piece on the back telling people about the free report. I hand them the card, showing them the back when I mention the address they need to write to. This way, they are more likely to remember later when they are going through the cards they have collected.

If your card doesn’t have this sort of information on it, give them something that does – a brochure or a specially made postcard.

5. FOLLOW UP

This always amazes me – the number of people I meet at networking events who never follow up. They speak to me for 30 seconds, then I never hear from them again. What was the point?

When you get back, email everyone you met and remind them of the action you want them to take, e.g. ข I enjoyed meeting you at the networking event this evening and I hope we get the chance to meet again soon. Please don’t forget to order your copy of the free report I mentioned, just click on this link and send an email. ข

Even if people were interested in the report when I mentioned it, there’s still a good chance they will forget later. A brief reminder works wonders.

Using this method, I always get a fair number of people to sign up for my mailing list at these events. Remember, it’s a combination of: single message, call to action, visual material to back up message, follow up email after the event.

I guarantee this is a much more powerful approach than most other people will be using and you will have far more impact on the people you meet.

© Alan Matthews

About The Author

Alan Matthews is a Marketing Coach, Trainer and Speaker. He helps business owners to prepare and deliver a clear, compelling marketing message to get more clients with less effort. To receive his free report, ก Why Isn’t This Working? How To Get People Interested In your Business ก email mailto:attractclients@getresponse.com

Alan Matthews

email: mailto:alan@trainofthought.org.uk

website: http://www.trainofthought.org.uk

This article was posted on February 07

by Alan Matthews

What Makes Your Online Ads Persuasive?

What Makes Your Online Ads Persuasive?

by: Lil Waldner

The first impression that the people get from your ad decides if they click or skip. This shows that writing really persuasive ads is not easy. Writing irrestisible internet ads needs some skills. You can acquire these skills, if you follow some rules.

Simplify your message

Focus on your customers need! What are they looking for? What is special on your website for your customers? Write a simple language with common words. Use verbs more often than nouns. Using verbs makes your texts dynamic. Propagate a positive message and avoid hype.

Follow the AIDA rule:

Attention:

Your ad needs to catch the attention of the audience. The title has to be determined with caution. Look at the title of this article as example. Why have you clicked to view this article? Does it exactly offer what your are looking for? Your ad title has to meet the people’s need. You can use a question to awake the curiosity of the audience. You can use Overture and Google Adwords in order to find out popular phrases for your ad title.

Interest:

Your ad text should be convincing. You praise your produce or your website. Why should the people use your produce? What is special? How does your offer differ from others? What is your USP = Unique Selling Proposition? You may describe your produce with strong words, e.g. amazing, ultimate, superior, incredible, guaranteed.

Decision:

The audience has to be lead to a decision. Some advertisers give the impression of urgency. Here are some examples: ขJoin today and get a free ebook.ข ขSign up and receive a bonus.ข ขBe among the first 500 to join.ข ขLimited time offer!ข All these kind of phrases try to persuade the customers to make up their minds.

Action:

Every ad has to call for action. The people should know what to do. Following phrases might help: join now – sign up today – click to view – visit the homepage – etc. It is recommendable to address the audience directly with ขyouข. This makes the readers feel that the message is written to them.

Repeat and repeat

The people usually do not join or buy if they see your ad the first time. Your ad has to be displayed again and again. Some people visit your website several times, study your offers and deliberate before they decide. Look at TV advertisements! Even the famous brands with great marketing budgets have to repeat their ads again and again. The people have to get familiar with your ad, they need to gain confidence. Do not forget: Your ad text should be credible.

About The Author

Lil Waldner is a business economist. She is experienced in project management and marketing. She has worked as editor of newspapers and she has written booklets and essays with economic and public issues. Visit her web sites: http://affiliatechain.com/GetASite.asp?ID=51105 or http://www.storeowner.com/owner/lwmall

This article was posted on August 29

by Lil Waldner

Outlook… Not Just for Email! Using Your Outlook

Outlook… Not Just for Email! Using Your Outlook Calendar

by: Janet Barclay

Microsoft Outlook is one of the most widely used software programs for email, but if you’re only using it for email, you’re missing out on a great productivity tool! This monthกs column looks at a few ways you can use the Outlook calendar to make scheduling easier.

* Add public holidays to your calendar automatically.

On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click Calendar Options. Under Calendar options, click Add Holidays. Select the check box next to each country/region whose holidays you want to add to your Calendar, and then click OK. Your own country/region is automatically selected. Color code your appointments.

* When you select a label for each appointment, Outlook will assign it a color, drawing attention to your most important activities and allowing you to see at a glance how you are spending your time. The available labels are:

Important Red

Business Blue

Personal Light Green

Vacation Gray

Must Attend Orange

Travel Required Aqua

Needs Preparation Olive Green

Birthday Purple

Anniversary Dark Green

Phone Call Yellow

None White

* Turn a message into an appointment or task.

Whatกs the quickest way to deal with an email inviting you to a meeting or event?

Drag the message onto your Calendar and a new appointment will be created. The entire message will appear in the details section all you need to do is edit the subject line, location, date and time! Send an RSVP if necessary, and now you can delete the email!

Not sure if you’re going to attend? Set กShow time asก to ‘tentativeก and the appointment will display with a dashed border rather than a solid one. In this case you should also drag the message onto your Task Pad and a new task will be created. Edit the subject line to be a reminder to register for the event, and set the due date early enough that you won’t miss out if you decide to go.

* Print pages for your paper planner.

If you like the idea of using the Outlook calendar, but are more comfortable using a paper planner, Outlook allows you to print pages in daily, weekly or monthly layouts, formatted to fit a variety of commercial planners. Print the whole year, or just todayกs schedule!

* Itกs not just about work.

There are many websites that allow you to download schedules right into your Outlook calendar, including sports teams and TV stations, among many others. Youกll never have to miss your favorite team or show, and just think of the time youกll save!

Permission is granted to use this article, as long as the กAbout the Authorก section including the link to http://www.organizedassistant.com remains intact. An email letting me know which article you have used and where would be appreciated.

About The Author

Janet Barclay, Organized Assistant, is a Professional Organizer, Virtual Assistant and Time Management Consultant. For more information visit http://www.organizedassistant.com.

info@organizedassistant.com

This article was posted on December 08, 2004

by Janet Barclay

About Your Newsletter

About Your Newsletter

by: Iulia Pascanu

No matter how you name it: email advertising, email marketing campaign, newsletter, ezine. The medium is already worn out. Overused. Abused. This means you have to make extra efforts to make people get involved with whatever you do for making a living online.

I don’t want you to believe Iกm one of the self made Internet gurus out there. No need to mention Iกm not a real Internet guru either 🙂 . Iกm just an ordinary Internet user, happy to share some routine experiences and thoughts about editing newsletters.

By all means, know your purpose!

Some newsletter editors think that, if last week I was interested in email marketing, the next week I could be interested in some songs they have just written down after being involved in a ‘release Your Creativityก like seminar. I know you probably won’t believe me, but it happened just this way. Ok, you online marketing fellow, I may want to hear about your songs, but don’t make them a main topic. I know what I subscribed for, and when I don’t find what I expected in the message body, I feel somehow deceived.

Think rather community than emailing list

The next paragraphs may seem not to have anything to do with editing newsletters. But instead of lying in your comfortable shell, headphones on your ears, beautiful posters in your eyesight, trying to produce more and more กwords that sellก, what about a bit of real communication?

Have you ever been told กitกs all in the listก? Ever wondered what they mean by that?

The reason you edit your newsletter is (probably & primarily) because you want to sell something. Try to forget sales for a moment. You are online to give somebody something that he or she could use. You gather in a list persons that have something in common (including yourself). Maybe they like cars. Or coffee. Or sleeping late. Let them share that with you. The first step is to encourage feedback. You can create a discussion list and a forum.

I know what usually happens. You create a discussion group, post a topic and wait for opinions to poor in. This may never happen. It takes time to create a strong community. Many people might subscribe to the list just for reading other opinions, and never post a message. This shouldn’t bother you. They are a step closer to you than usual newsletter subscribers.

Remember that in a community, your promotional messages are beeing red as (hopefully) friendly advice. However, they are not beeing perceived as agressive email ads.

A community is about trust and transparency. Allowing competitors to post messages (as long as they are respecting the netiquette) makes you more credible. Moreover, you can be the first person in the list to post links towards other competitorsก websites. All you need to do is always insist on your USP (unique selling proposition). Youกll always offer something that no other competitor will. If you don’t, youกll soon be out of business anyway, so why bother with email marketing? Whatever you do, your customers & prospects will appreciate the sincerity in the first place.

Become a member yourself in other communities. Have you thought about starting with your best competitors? If they kick you out, remember to post a thank you message on your own list (no kidding).

Publishing in targeted discussion lists is a powerful way to reach thousands of prospects. And they’re already กfilteredก.

Now you are treating your subscribers like real persons, that have preferential needs. Now you can get back to thinking about sales.

Netiquette

This is not just about how others behave on the web. You have to respect some rules too. When you place a link, don’t mislead. When you choose a subject line, don’t lie. When you splash a half page title, make sure it relates to the content of the message.

Finally, some editing tips:

Don’t take me as an example and use short phrases.

Use lists.

When you start editing a newsletter, you become a public person. Thatกs like a public speaker. Don’t be afraid to speak for yourself. Let people know who is talking.

Use a friendly, but nonaggressive & friendly approach.

When sending personalized messages, make sure that the names are being spelled correctly.

Ring the bell! Arouse interest by using questions. Start with a controversial subject. Use incendiary or celebrity statements on the topic you want to approach. Create a doubt.

Stay away from cliches like กwe are the bestก, กwe doubled our sales last monthก and so on. How well youกve been doing lately is probably more interesting for yourself than your subscribers.

Quote authorized opinions.

Get celebs in your business field to write an article now and then for your ezine. Ask for interviews, get statements and figures. These are some very objective inputs that you can use.

Always include your incentives and current sales in the newsletter. Some subscribers may not visit the website for several weeks.

Provide tips, especially about bargains: books, seminars. Don’t let the fact that they are offered by competitors stop you. Prove competition really works for you. Well this doesn’t mean you need to be laudative for no reason.

Don’t forget to sign your articles. Say who you are and post a contact link. This is the beauty of email. You can send to anyone and receive from anywhere, in a moment.

About The Author

Iulia Pascanu writes for http://www.emailmarketingsoftware.org/ where you can find more information about Email Marketing Software.

Please feel free to use this article in your Newsletter or on your website. If you use this article, please include the resource box and send a brief message to let me know where it appeared: mailto:iuliap@gmail.com

This article was posted on January 13

by Iulia Pascanu