Let them be your friends

We all recognise the signs that a business is achieving traction, apart from the obvious one of sales.

These pointers include visits to your store or display, online views and likes, requests for a brochure, and social media comments.

But there’s an even better indicator that the needle is moving, which is when sales agents attempt to get close to you.

  • A real estate broker tries to set up an appointment to meet.
  • The online site you are listed on encourages you to upload more inventory.
  • The connector person in your social circle is keen for you to attend more events.

These people know the market better than you know it yourself. They sense the opportunities. Their wishes should be your guide.

You don’t need to have a phone full of contacts. You only need a relationship with a good broker or distributor to help you be a success. More than one agent is better, because they will compete for your attention.

Let these people be your friends.

Use it to persuade a stranger

The phone is a great but forgotten business tool. It lets you chat informally with people and communicate warmth, while picking up the nuances of their speech.

The more I replace phone talk with email or text, the less cooperation I find. Despite the use of emojis, written words are coolly transactional and don’t convey the human touch.

You can’t sell as successfully by email as in person or by phone. Even when using the phone for that purpose, it’s best not to leave a voicemail asking for a return call. What works is to say, “sorry I missed you, will try again”.

Anything that shifts the onus onto the other person is likely to reduce your chance of success.

Text and email are wonderful for associates, friends and family. But when trying to persuade or convince a stranger, nothing beats the human face or voice.

Axe that bidding battle

If you advertise using Google AdWords (and many of us do), avoid getting into a bidding war. Google loves these auctions, but you’re just handing them your money.

A fight for keywords means that there’s also disheartening competition for markets. Who needs that?

Instead, advertise in a niche where you’re the dominant player. Not sure how to do this? Keep on narrowing the scope of your market description until you’re in a position where you’ve shed most of your rivals.

You’ll have the relevant keywords all to yourself, which means they won’t cost heaps. You may even be able to dominate the sector with natural, unpaid search.

Google won’t be impressed with your parsimony, but your pocket will like the result.

The pilot must be allowed to die

Marketing is often trial and error. If something doesn’t work, we should stop, change it, and see if that makes a difference.

Pilot programs and prototypes therefore make sense. We don’t want to pour resources into something that may not be effective. Better to start tiny, then scale up once there’s something that nudges the needle.

Evidence for success will show up at the very beginning. Most responses to advertising, for example, are revealed early in the campaign.

This is why advertising should be rested and restarted. And why it should be changed.

EIGHT EXPOSURES

There’s an oft-recited mantra that it takes up to eight exposures to a marketing message before the prospect is ready to purchase. Notice, Recognise, Discuss, Desire, Budget, Imagine owning, Plan delivery, Buy.

In practice, you’ll get indications of buyer interest long before the actual sale. These may be views, clicks, likes, leads, sampling, requests for a brochure, or visitors to your store. All evidence that the needle has moved.

The most frustrating result is one that isn’t big and isn’t small. Your messages aren’t a failure, nor are they a success.

The temptation here is to soldier away, hoping that the marketing will catch on.

KILL IT OR CHANGE

It takes guts to euthanase a pilot or prototype that isn’t showing early results. After all, we’re optimists, right? We believe that tomorrow will be better.

But let’s not kid ourselves that our new product will take off “next year”. It won’t. Now is the time to rework it or lay the babe to rest.