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Harvard Business Review’s Email Rules

Spotted this in ExchangeEveryDay (exchangeeveryday@ccie.com ), and thought it worth passing along.

In a letter to the editor in Harvard Business Review OnPoint (hbr.org), Rita Gunther McGrath shared “Rita’s Golden Rules for E-mail”:

  • Meaningful subject lines that tell the reader what to expect.
  • No e-mail should be longer than one screen of information.
  • One subject per e-mail.  When I’ve dealt with an item, I want to delete it.  I can’t do that if your e-mail contains 10 action items.
  • E-mail is the wrong place for emotional outbursts.
  • E-mail is the wrong place for communications of a personal nature.
  • Assume that everything you put in an e-mail could end up on the front page of the New York Times and be accordingly discreet.
  • Because you sent it doesn’t mean I got it.  Because I got it doesn’t mean I read it.  Because I read it doesn’t mean I understood it.  Because I understood it doesn’t mean I agree with you.
  • Don’t send an e-mail when a short phone call would do a better job.

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com

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Why Small Businesses MUST Use Social Media

This is a great article to help you understand the importance of social media as a marketing tool in today’s business environment, and how to maximize the value of it for your desired level of involvement. It is written by Andrew Jones, the business partner who handles all my social media, including the database management and internet marketing involved. For more information on social media, visithttp://www.juliewassom.com/social%20media.htm , or on Andrew and his firm, New Media Fluent, click on the link below.

It seems like a no brainer right, the match up of Social Media and Small Business? After all, social media has an almost non-existent barrier to entry, the majority of its marketing tools are free of charge, and it potential for brand and sales expansions are almost limitless!

Yet, you would be surprised just how many small businesses out there are not yet involved with social media. Why? I find the two most common reasons are due to lack of information, and some basic fears. We’ll start with fears:

Fears

  1. My clients are not on the social media.
  2. I won’t be able to control what is being said about me online
  3. I don’t have the time to keep it up.

To rebut #1- Oh yes they most certainly are! My company New Media Fluent handles social media marketing for a multitude of different businesses- from large corporations, to one person shops. One of the small markets that I have dealt with is in the Alpaca industry. Yes, you probably don’t even know what an Alpaca is, which further proves my point (they look like very furry Llama’s by the way and their fur is used to make extremely soft material for blankets, sweaters, scarves, etc.). However, as small of a niche as the Alpaca industry is, on Facebook alone there are 8,680 people who have Alpaca listed on their profile. Your customers are definitely out there, and they are on social media!

#2- Lack of control is an entirely valid fear. What can be said about your company, your services, and your products online can be enough to keep a small business owner awake at night. But here it is plain and simple; Your company is going to be talked about whether you partake or not! At least utilizing social media, you can not only see what is being said about you, but you can partake in the conversation and hopefully change any negative word of mouth into positive.

#3- Also a completely valid fear. Time is a major issue for most people when it comes to social media marketing. And I will not lie to you, one of the worst things you can do for your company is starting social media and then stopping. However, not getting involved at all is the only thing worse. There are three options here;
1. Set aside time every day, early in the morning, over your lunch break, after work whenever to go over your social media. By allotting a block of time, you won’t venture aimlessly through the social mediaverse.
2. Hire a company like New Media Fluent to take over your social media marketing for you. Learning how toproperly utilize social media marketing can be an extremely daunting and time consuming task. It is quite feasible to mess around on social media for 6 months and be no farther than you are today because you simply don’t know what you are doing.
3. Hire someone to train you to effectively, and time efficiently operate your social media so you do not find yourself wasting your most precious resource as a business owner- your time. (New Media Fluent does offer a training service as well for the record.)

Facts

  • According to Nielsen Statistics, 2/3 of the entire world population is using social media… that’s amazing when you stop and think about it.
  • Especially for older businesses; in order to remain relevant in the business world today and to reach your new customers, you have to be where they are… which is online. 70% of people trust peer review over conventional advertisements, so it’s time to start getting friendly with your customers. The easiest way to do this is via social media.
  • Your competitors are doing it already… and if they aren’t, then they will be soon, so you may as well start the bandwagon and be the first one so it doesn’t look like you are just copying others success. Being first, will make it much easier for you to become the “go-to” person for information in your industry. When people depend on you for information, they will depend on you for other things as well such as your services and products.
  • Whether B2C and choosing to market on Facebook where there are (as of June 16, 2010) 400 million active users! Or B2B and opting to go the avenue of LinkedIn with over 75 million business professionals, average income of $109k, and where 50% of the users are major decision makers in their company. There is a social media opportunity for whatever your need is.
  • You will not find a less expensive way to grow your business base, and improve customer relations than social media.

I recently read an article in USA Today which investigated two small businesses that have been using social media to improve their company:
Southern Jewl’s saw a 60% increase in her business in the past 6 months since beginning her social media marketing.

The second example was Over The Moon Ribbons- A wholesale ribbon retailer. They boosted their tiny business into earning profits of $1,000 per month using social media… those are RIBBONS I’m talking about people!

Social Media Marketing works, and it is no longer an option, it is a necessity. Find an option that works for you, and jump onboard- before the ship leaves without you.

If you find yourself wanting to investigate the option of hiring a company to take over your social media, or to train you how to operate it effectively and efficiently yourself, please do not hesitate to contact me;Andrew@NewMediaFluent.com.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com

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The Sales Payoff in Multiple Closing Attempts

In a colleague’s newsletter, I recently read about an article in Selling Power Magazine that featured a Notre Dame University survey of purchasing agents at some of the nation’s largest companies. They asked about theclosing attempts (asking for the business) made by the sales representatives who called on them. Here’s what they found: 46% of the sales reps asked for the order once then quit. 24% asked twice then gave up. 14% asked for the order three times. 12% asked four times.

Yet, the same survey showed that 60% of the orders came after the fourth attempt. Imagine that! It took as many as five closing attempts before a sale was made. This shows the need for persistence when calling on a prospect. But the surprising thing to me is that less than 50% of the sales reps asked for the order even once!

No matter what you are selling, ASKING multiple times is not only necessary to secure the sale, it often makes it easier for the prospect to buy!

Begin asking questions when your prospect inquires, to help you know what they need or want and when they are ready to buy. Continue asking agreement questions as you present the benefits of doing business with you, to know whether you are on the right track and to unearth objections to buying from you. When you know they are interested or ready to buy, ASK them to buy from you!

One type of closing question that is comfortable to ask and easy for your prospect to answer is called analternate choice closing question. For example, you might say, Would you like Ben to start today or would next Monday be better for you?

Each time you follow-up with a prospect, help guide them closer to buying from you, then ASK them to do so. Those who keep asking their prospects to buy with their prospects’ needs in mind are those who sell more!

You must ASK or you are not closing. How can you expect to get any customers if you never even ask? That’s what selling is all about – asking the prospect to buy.

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com

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Ask Julie

Question: How often should my marketing strategy change?

Answer: Good times to change your marketing strategy are whenever you have a change in your sales goals or business plan, or when the market environment dictates a change in your approach. One of the best ways to keep on top of the need to change your own marketing direction is to do an annual marketing action plan, conducting at least one marketing activity quarterly, including a review of the results of your efforts. If you have not achieved your goal for that activity, evaluate whether or not it is time for a change in your overall strategy.

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com

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How “The Robert Effect” Creates Enrollment and Positive Reviews

P1050031Wassom’s Child Care Marketing Wisdom #423

My husband and I recently realized the time had come for us to look for a new refrigerator and oven. So, after researching online, reading reviews, and talking with friends (sound familiar?), I headed out to visit appliance stores.

I went to our local area Sears and Lowes stores to see first-hand the models we thought we wanted. Armed with brochures and information, I headed home to “talk to my husband” about this investment. On the way, I drove by a new Appliance Factory, so decided to drop in. What happened there made all the difference.

Upon opening the door at this Appliance Factory, a salesman in his company-labeled shirt, greeted me with a smile, said his name was Robert, and began to ask me several questions about our specific needs and interests before he ever took me out to the showroom floor. Once we began to look at different models, instead of reviewing all the features of each piece, he began to speak to me in benefit statements. “Notice the side vent coming into this drawer, so you will get air circulation and never need to put baking soda in your refrigerator again.” “Because this wall unit has convection in the bottom oven, you have the choice…” This smudge-proof stainless steel finish means you will save time cleaning…”

Did I buy then? No. I went home and talked to my husband. And I waited to see who, if any of these associates would follow up with me in a timely manner with information of value to me in making this purchase. Robert did! However, so did the woman from Sears. The difference was that Robert had asked me enough questions to be able to personalize his follow up to what I really needed to make this decision, versus the other person – cordial as she was – obviously just trying to convert the sale whether it fit my needs or not.

Did I buy then? No. However, this kind of personalized follow up caused me to take the action to send my husband to Robert’s store (You notice how by now, in my mind, it was “Robert’s store”, not the company). Robert treated him like an honored guest, gave him the time and information he needed, and scheduled the follow up he would initiate. He called me back, just as he said he would, and asked where we were in our decision and how he could help. (Has he been in one of my seminars??? )

Did I buy then? Yes! I stopped the next day and bought both appliances, and Robert gave me a “preferred customer” thank you gift.
Since then, to my utter surprise and delight, Robert has continued to follow up, to check on our satisfaction, to assure delivery went smoothly, and to send me an application for a rebate for which he discovered our purchase qualified. By now, of course, I welcome a contact from Robert, because he has proven with his follow up action that he has our best interest in mind.

Does this take Robert’s time away from his duties at a very busy store? Absolutely. Has it been worth it for him? Absolutely. Not only did he get a significant sale, I have since referred him to a friend looking for appliances and written a glowing online review (which, no surprise, he thanked me for doing in a follow up call).

Why share this long story with you? Because it is such a good illustration of how personalizing a visit and following up can create both a sales conversion and a positive referral ambassador.

These techniques apply to enrollment conversions as much as they apply to appliances. Not only are they good practice, they set you apart from your competitors who offer, in your prospects’ minds, a similar product and service. How can you practice “the Robert Effect”?

Personalize your inquiry responses – online and on the phone. Doing so will get you beyond the basic information you need, to the relationship that so many of you tell me you are good at building. Ask every parent a good personal needs assessment question, such as, “What specific needs and desires do you have for your child’s care?” “What would you like this early education experience to give your child and family?” “What would like us to know about your child?”

Then use your prospect’s response to guide your inquiry, center visit, and follow up efforts to the enrollment.

Initiate follow up on a timely basis, with information of value to your prospects. Go beyond the standard emails you might send to every prospect and customer, to a system of timely personal contacts specifically focused on the prospect’s needs and how you can meet them. When they know you want to help them make the best buying decision for their family, you have won a referral ambassador, as well as the enrollment.

Will this take time? Yes. Is it something to make a priority? Only if you want more enrollment, and enthusiastic referral ambassadors sending interested, eligible prospects to your center without spending a penny of your marketing budget.

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com

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Choosing The Best Marketing Keywords for Your Website

What are some tips on choosing good keywords that will lead prospects to your website?

For answers to these and other questions about website marketing, I interviewed two Internet marketing experts. Anita Larson is an Internet marketing speaker, author, and consultant and owner of The Web Muse. Heather Lutze owns Findability Group, offering search marketing services, including PPC, SEO, and social media. Heather is author of The Findability Formula.

Heather: There are three buckets of keywords. First are those entered into a search engine by the web surfer seeking information. This person might put in the word, “childcare” or “preschool”. Second are those words entered by people who are actively shopping. They might put in the words, “infant childcare”. Third are the words entered by the person who is ready to buy. This prospect might insert words, such as “accredited preschools in Larimer County”. You must know your target customer’s path to purchase and select your keywords accordingly.

Anita: Use keyword phrases of two to five words. Many visitors will type as many as five words into search engines. Separate keyword phrases with commas.

Julie: How can center owners learn exactly what words their qualified prospects are using to search online?

Heather:  The site, www.spyfu.com , gives you a range of bids and how many times a specific keyword or phrase is being searched.

Julie: Where should keywords appear on a site to help the search engines find you?

Heather: Be clean and don’t cross contaminate your keywords. Assign words by page. Use a limited number of targeted, highly related keywords in title tags and distributed in page body copy. Visitors are using search engines for focused, targeted, relevant search engine results.

Anita: In addition to behind the scenes placement such as title bars, meta tags, and meta descriptions, the first paragraph of text is also crucial. Search engines pick you up based on key words in your first paragraph.

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com

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ASK Julie???

Question - What are some cost-effective ways I can thank my parents for enrollment referrals?

 Answer – Handwritten notes, flowers, and public acknowledgement on boards and in newsletters are some low cost ways to express your thanks. If you have a referral bonus program, the dollars you give referring parents will be well worth  it when you get a prospect who already feels good about you and you enroll them.

Here, a Texas-based Xplor Childcare center thanks parents for referrals on a large board placed in the entry of the center for all to see.

 Visit Julie’s Facebook page for additional marketing tips

Wassom’s Child Care Marketing Wisdom newsletter is copyrighted 2013, by The Julian Group, Inc. Please feel free to forward to a colleague or friend.

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com

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Quality Counts and Quality Costs!

Higher enrollment allows you to have the resources to provide a higher quality early care and education service. Read what guest author, Laura Henry, has to say about maintaining and enhancing the quality that impacts the outcome for children and supports families.

Laura Henry web

You want quality, well, quality costs!

 ‘Quality is the best business plan’ John Lassiter

 I recently had the pleasure of having afternoon tea with a colleague at the five star Berkeley Hotel, in London. (Sister hotel to Claridges which was recently featured in a documentary on BBC1.) I am in awe at the high end service that one receives in these types of establishments. The attention to detail is second to none.  After visiting the bathroom, I was welcomed back! I thought to myself ‘Gee whiz, I have only been to the bathroom!’

My visit to the Berkeley got me thinking about how they strive for this type of service and how it keeps them well ahead of their game. So, within our early years sector how we can make every effort to provide a high end service that does not need to have a financial impact on the business?

Equally, what we could do within the early years sector to maintain and enhance quality that has a positive impact on children’s outcomes and supports their families?

As a teenager of the early 80s, I remember one of the opening lines to the hit TV show ‘Fame’ was Debbie Allen’s character dance teacher, Lydia Grant’s one liner ‘You want fame? Well, fame costs!’ which Debbie stated to each new intake of students.  For those of you too young or old, or indeed never watched the show, here is a clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P74CObqYgHg

The writers of this famous statement, ‘Fame costs!’ Too right it does!’ were not, I believe, referring to a financial cost but rather what it would cost the students in terms of their time, commitment, dedication and passion.

Within our early years sector, although financial costs plays a huge part in maintaining and enhancing quality, there are other elements that are key as well. In order to achieve quality as well as monitoring financial costs there are a few simple steps to think about.

  • Staff having clarity around your values, ethos, vision and mission
  • High adult to child ratio
  • Leaders mirroring the principles in action
  • Setting the scene for the holistic culture
  • Leaders knowing what they want in terms of high end quality
  • Having a ‘we are not settling for second best approach’
  • Getting it right at recruitment
  • Robust induction process
  • Setting high standards
  • Providing continuous professional and personal development
  • Support staff to aim high

I could go on with this list but, as a reminder, to provide a high end service it does not need to be a financial cost but rather your own personal ‘cost’.

As a leader, what are you and your staff giving to the setting in terms of time, commitment, dedication and passion?

Laura Henry, is an early years consultant, she has worked within the sector for over 26 years. Laura is passionate about quality and shares her expertise with a range of providers across the world.

Her other and most important role is mother to two amazing teenaged boys.

 Visit Laura’s website or email her at laura@childcareconsult.co.uk .

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com

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How to Market When You Barely Have Time To Breathe!

You know you need to create or update an image for your business, establish an effective web presence, get that brochure done, market your involvement in the next industry or community event, and do what it takes to get prospects coming your way. But WHEN can you get to it with everything else you have to do?

Effective marketing is an essential key to your business success. Yet, it’s so easy to back burner marketing when other parts of your business need your attention, staff issues take your time, you have family obligations, and oh, by the way, you have a “real life” separate from your business. Yet without the practice of good marketing and sales techniques, you cannot maximize the return on your investment your marketing efforts.

Here are some ways to help you make marketing and sales activities happen when time is of the essence:

1. Do a Marketing Action Plan. It’s your blueprint for marketing action, budget planning, and evaluation of results. Plan at least one marketing activity per quarter.

2. Make an appointment with yourself. Schedule your marketing activities, sales follow-up, and other promotional efforts just like you would an appointment with your doctor. Then keep your appointment. Though rescheduling is okay, cancellation is not an option.

3. Use a tickler system. Whether electronic or hardcopy, a tickler system will remind you of marketing and sales tasks needing your immediate attention. Calendars in Microsoft Outlook and other contact management systems are easy ways to make sure you are alerted as to deadlines, follow-up promises, and other commitments you have made to marketing toward reaching your revenue goals. If you do not have time to do follow-upcontact me to learn more about my Keep Me in Mind Marketing Service, which does it for you.

4. Get a marketing accountability partner. Enlist the help of a trusted friend or colleague to keep you accountable for the marketing activities you have listed in your Marketing Action Plan. It’s amazing how most of us will prioritize a task when we know we are accountable to someone for its completion.

If this is hard to do on your own, consider taking my one of my Marketing and Sales  TeleCourses. Before the first of the five classes, every participant is asked to find an accountability partner to help them stay on task with assigned marketing activities. It is always exciting to hear about all the marketing the participants really get accomplished during the course. I am convinced part of the reason they do is because they are held accountable. To learn more about this early education TeleCourse, visithttp://www.juliewassom.com/teleclass.htm.

5. Just do it! Nike coined it, and I couldn’t say it better. Your commitment to creative, consistent, continual marketing will yield results that will help you achieve your goals for image recognition and give you the opportunity to convert more prospects into buyers. So take a deep breath and start marketing.

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com

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How Answering the Tough Questions Makes Marketing Easier

Within the last two weeks, three different clients have told me that one thing they really value in our working relationship is how I ask them the “hard questions” that probe their thinking- then act as a partner throughout the process to do whatever it takes to take action on the answers. All three of these clients have seen the results they wanted in developing business practices that yield qualified prospectsgenerate new customers, and get staff on board as customer service partners. With that in mind, let’s explore three of those “tough questions”. I encourage you to not only ask them of yourself, but to use the answers to motivate you to move forward toward your goals.

Tough Question #1 – What is unique about you? No, not the stuff your competitors also say, but really unique just to you and the way you do business. Come up with a succinct answer and use it to build the marketing message on which you establish your niche and drive your brand.

Tough Question #2 – What are the best ways you can reach your prospects and customers? Your answer should be realistic for your situation, use the latest technology that appeals to your target audiences, and take advantage of cost-efficient opportunities you have to reach your buyers and referral sources. Though advertising has its purpose, it is not the only way to put yourself in front of potential buyers, and often not the best way to get noticed in the pack of choices they have.

Tough Question #3 – Why should I buy from you? You MUST know the answer to this! Not only does it make you think about your unique selling propositions, it makes you recognize the buyer benefits to which you must commit in order to deserve, get, and keep their business. A good way to think about it is to put yourself in your prospect’s perspective (I know, I say this allllll the time). Then ask yourself, “Why would Ibuy from me?”

Knowing the answers to these and other tough questions is not enough. Acting on them in a creative, consistent, continuous way will help make your overall marketing easier, and the results more successful at helping you reach your business development goals.

Julie Wassom is the owner of The Julian Group, Inc. in Denver, Colorado, and is the author of The Enrollment Building Success Library, of CDs, books and other marketing resources, and the e-newsletter,Wassom’s Child Care Marketing Wisdom, available at www.juliewassom.com.

 She can be reached at 303-693-2306 or julie@juliewassom.com.

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com