Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day

I've seen a lot of chatter on Facebook today about President's Day.  Some wanted to know why they had to work while others got the day off, some wanted to know my favorite President and some just chatted about Presidents in general. Congress takes an entire week off to celebrate our Presidents.  So here is my take on President's Day. 

You are the President of yourself.  You have total control over you.   I know it may not seem like that at times.  It may seem like everyone else is in control BUT you.  But the truth is you are the only one who has say over how you run your life.   Your choices, happy, grumpy, honest, evil, sad, excited, productive, critical, encouraging, nurturing and on...are your choices alone.  As President of yourself you need to take a look at your day and make some decisions.  Plan a head a little and those decisions will be easier to make.  Just like great Presidents, surrounding yourself with a great support team, will make you an effective President.  Presidents know that they don't act in a bubble, that then need a strong following to make an impact and to do their jobs well. 

Author Hugh MacLeod in his new book, Evil Plans, "You don't need need to act." 

So if you are the President of YOU, inc. how do you want to act?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Just Go With It

Today I saw the new movie "Just Go With It".  It was a witty and entertaining movie with a great moral, never, never lie.  Lies just lead to more lies and the more lies there are the harder it is to cover them up, and the harder it is to cover them up the more complicated the original lie gets.  So a small untruth may become a huge debacle in the end.  Now I am the parent of a 17 year old son, so I know a thing or two about lies.  The thing is, you don't have to know everything or even pretend to know it.  Your customers will respect you more if you just come clean and tell them that you need to do some research to be sure that you have the exact right answer to their questions.  Honesty, its the only way. 

I let my customers know if I don't know the answer to their question, I just think it only makes good sense.  For example, this past week I put up some new Business Facebook pages for clients.  Well in the middle of doing that, Facebook applied their newest profile application to Business pages and everything that I did with the clients and the entire look of the pages changed.  I had to fess up that I worked with the changes on personal pages, but the Business pages have some new features that I knew were coming but I just did not have them all memorized just yet.  I don't candy-coat, I usually tell it like it is.  So while I could have pretended to know what I was doing, to me that would have been deceiving to my clients, instead I just confessed that I needed to look up some of the changes and get back to them as to how the new functionality was going to effect them.

Honesty and respect go hand-in-hand.  Integrity is the result of honesty + respect, and let's face it we all want to be considered as a person of Integrity.  

My teenager, now that's a different story.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book List Recommendations

I am often asked, "What books would you recommend?  Or have you read any good business building books lately"?  Well here is a couple that come to my mind that have really influenced and impressed me lately.  I will pst some additional ones in the next couple of days.

I recommend the following books:

Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling


If you would like a review of these book just click on the titles and you will be re-directed to Amazon.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Great Expectations

When it comes to marketing and the customer experience there are a few 'unwritten' expectations 

The customer does not expect to be bugged to death to make a decision.  You expect your customer to buy the first or second time you approach them with your proposition. Customers expect you to be an expert in your field. You expect a little time to answer a question if you are not positive of the answer.  Customers expect answers to their questions, yesterday.  You expect customers to be patient and 'wait for it'.  Customers expect you to call them back immediately.   You expect to call them when you have something to report.  Customers expect you to reduce your fees and play a few pricing games with you.  You expect the customer to pay the price.   Customers expect 5-Star service.  You hope you and your staff can deliver it.

Here are some ways you can manage those expectations.

You should control the amount of communication to the customer.  Make sure if you are calling the customer, that members of the team are not calling them with the same or similar information.  Make notes in the file or on the computer whenever you speak to the customer and make sure your team does the same thing.  Multiple calls to your client will just annoy them.

Make sure you ARE an expert in your field.  Your customer's decision to buy or use your services is going to hinge on your knowledge of your product or service.  If you need to keep up with industry standards, make sure you make time for seminars or educational opportunities that will keep you on top of your game.  If you are not, someone else will be.

The first thing you can do is to solidify your team,  Make sure every member of the team is clear of their role in managing the clients expectations.  Have a written document that everyone signs that makes it clear as glass who does what and when.  Make an internal contract of sorts with them.  Only when everyone understands the internal expectations will you be able to deliver them to your clients.  An example might be, if you promise your client an answer in a week, be sure everyone knows if that is 5 or 7 days.

After your team is on the same customer experience track, make sure you set the proper expectations with your client.  Many, many times the customer will 'hear' something entirely different than what you actually say.  Sort of like that game of telephone we played as children, everyone hears the story a little bit differently,  You might try to remedy this situation by having a written document that outlines the process for the client and the projected time-line for them.  If they have this in writing from you, chances are there will be less misunderstanding and more accountability to meet the timeline.

Make sure that when you have pricing conversations with your customers that you document those fully.  That way you and your team will be fully confident as to what was quoted to the client.  Coach your team on how to answer pricing questions, and if the client has questions that your team cannot answer, make sure they refer the customer to you and you speak to them immediately. Be sure you know your competitors pricing.  It is essential to keep customer's pricing current and written down so you can be  prepared to address any pricing differences with your customer.  Customers will try to use the pricing game against you, be prepared.  You don't have to defend your price, because you are worth your price, what is important is that your customer can deliver value for that price.

Great expectations can be managed, it just takes a commitment on your part to ensure your client have a great experience every time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Get fit Marketing

Good marketing is not one exercise its a complete fitness program.  You cannot do one exercise and expect to get fit, you have to complete and entire fitness program that is geared toward your overall fitness.  The same thing applies to your marketing program.  You cannot just do one thing and expect to gain clients and referrals, its just not going to happen.  Be sure your plan is a complete plan.  Be sure you have in place a program for incoming marketing, outgoing marketing, organic marketing and social media marketing.  It all fits together, just like a great fitness program.  When you work with a personal trainer they show you how to workout to get the best result, when you work with a professional marketer, you will get the best return result for your marketing efforts and dollars.   Let me know your comments.