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What Are Your “Extras”?

I just read an interesting article featuring a bicycle business with four locations. When the interviewer asked the owner what distinguished them from other businesses in their category, the owner said what makes them special goes beyond guaranteed lowest prices and great customer service. Smart man! Though both are part of this company’s commitment and philosophy, he recognizes that it’s the little “extras” that separate them from their competitors. For this bicycle business, it’s things like a lifetime of free adjustments, staff committed not just to serving but to educating customers and helping them them choose the right bike and gear for them, free spin classes and organized bike rides in the community, same day service, Kids Trade Up program, and on and on.

My question to you is this. What are your extras? Think beyond the expected benefits you offer, such as quality and good service. Chances are your toughest competitors say they offer the same thing. Without ever having used your service or bought your products, your prospects cannot tell the difference and have a tough time choosing between you and them. However, if you know, define, and promote the extras you offer in a way that causes your potential buyers to perceive them as added value, you will be the easy choice and have customers flocking to you.

Send me the name of your business along with three “extras” you offer customers, and I will send you my Special Report, Stop Telling and Start Selling – Presenting the Benefits of Buying from You, absolutely FREE!

Call or email me: 303-693-2306 and julie@juliewassom.com

-Julie Wassom
http://JulieWassom.com

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Follow-Up Action That Pays Off

I like to say, “The fortune is in the follow-up.” Follow-up takes a little time, and a little extra effort, but it pays big dividends. After an inquiry or an on- site visit, good follow-up can make the difference between a prospect buying from you or from a competitor.

Set up a follow-up schedule. Use a tickler system or contact management software program, to help you schedule timely follow-up.

Immediately after an inquiry, send information to prospects who called about your products or services. Include a personal message that states that you will initiate a follow-up call to answer questions and set up or confirm a future visit.

Be timely. Send the information right away. Then call when you said you would. It’s a little thing, but it instills the trust and credibility that helps prospects make a buying decision in your favor.

Send a handwritten thank you note to prospects who come for a visit. Within a few days, place a follow-up call to those prospects to answer additional questions and help them move closer to a decision. Then follow a “Mail-Mail-Call” system every few weeks to let your prospects know you are there as a helpful professional knowledgeable resource. Continue to send information of value to them, such as invitations to special events, articles of interest, or your newsletter.

Persevere until they are no longer prospects. There’s an old adage in sales and marketing that says 10% of the people make 80% of the sales because that 10% were willing to make at least five contacts with each prospect. Are you in that 10%?

-Julie Wassom
http://JulieWassom.com

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Ask Julie

Question – Why do I need permission to send promotional emails to prospects and customers?

Answer – The Can Spam Act protects the public from unsolicited emails. It indicates that you must have permission to email unrequested messages (opt in) and you must give recipients the option to discontinue receiving them (opt out). Though email is a good way to communicate with today’s target of buyers, it is one that commands respect and acknowledges the privacy of recipients. By doing it well, you can make email a very effective marketing tool.

-Julie Wassom
http://JulieWassom.com

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The Seven Second Impression

Seven seconds. That’s all the time you have to make a good impression on the telephone with those prospects calling your business to inquire about purchasing your products and/or services. Though today’s target market of buyers often use the Internet to investigate purchases, they still may call you to determine whether or not your products will make the short list of possible choices for their purchase.

Your telephone is a powerful marketing tool. Are you taking full advantage of it? Do you know what it costs to make your phone ring with a qualified prospect on the other end of the line? With even a simple formula that takes your total financial investment in your alpaca business divided by the number of inquiry calls you receive in a year, you may be very surprised. Your ringing phone will no longer be an annoyance, but one of the most expensive investments you have made.

To take full advantage of the sales opportunity your telephone gives you, it is imperative that you – and anyone you have answer the phone representing your farm – make a good first impression with callers. Here are some tips for making the first seven seconds count.

Smile and take a breath. For many years, I have quoted a successful business person who once told me, “You can hear a smile on the telephone.” She was right. Do it.

Slow down. It’s easy to zip through the dialogue you say when you answer several calls a day, but when it’s a prospect, you have only one chance – and only seven seconds – to give them the perception that you are in control, not rushed, and professionally ready to handle their inquiry.

Pay attention to your volume and tone. Did you just step in from busy tasks outside? You may need to lower your voice or professionalize your tone as you answer the call. Call your own farm sometime and then make sure your phone’s volume is set a level that is not too loud or too soft.

Use appropriate dialogue. What I have found works best to make a good impression is to answer with a greeting, the name of your farm, your name, and an open question that elicits a detailed response, such as “How may I help you?” It’s a mouthful, yes, but to an inquiring prospect not yet sure about being an alpaca breeder or whether your herd holds their next purchase, it’s music to their ears.

Be professional, yet friendly. Think in your prospect’s perspective. The farm from whom they want to buy has to be one with whom they feel most comfortable. Your demeanor can help assure them that you are just that – or not.

Your telephone offers you an extremely positive return on your investment. Never take it for granted. And to maximize its value to you, use those first seven seconds to make the best impression you can.

To learn more about converting telephone inquiries to purchases click on the link below or call 800-876- 0260.

-Julie Wassom
http://JulieWassom.com

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Ask Julie

Question: When you advertise your business on your vehicle using painted-on information or magnetic signs, is your business liable in the chance you are involved in an accident?

Answer: I checked with our auto insurance agent from Allstate Insurance, who indicated that insurance follows ownership of the vehicle, meaning the name on the title and registration. He compared advertising on a personally- owned vehicle to putting a bumper sticker on it; saying it does not matter for insurance purposes.

I recommend you check with your own auto insurance agent. If the way is clear, remember that with well- done labeling, your vehicle can serve as a rolling billboard ad for your business!

-Julie Wassom
http://JulieWassom.com

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Seven Simple Low-Cost Ways to Market

Are you looking for ways to market that take little time and less money, yet give you the kind of image and exposure that gives you a high return on your efforts? Good marketing messages that reach the right target audiences with the most frequency are going to be the ones that generate the most inquiries. Each qualified inquiry they generate gives you another opportunity to reach your sales goals. If you do not yet have a your business name, and  a unique image and message or tagline, that you are using in each of the following simple ways to market, I have one question for you. What are you waiting for?

Telephone voice mail message - Make sure yours included your business name and tagline, and that it redirects callers to your web address until you can get back to them.

Email signature - Include your name, business name, logo, tagline, and any unique feature or announcement of upcoming events

Vehicle - Does your business vehicle have signage on sides and back that shows your business name, logo, tagline (if it fits) your phone number and your web address? If not, you are missing an opportunity for incredible frequency of message delivery about your business. Your vehicle is a rolling billboard. Use it.

Sign - Call the highway department to find out the number of vehicles that pass your business on a daily basis. Then pull your jaw back up and make sure you have a spectacular business sign positioned so passersby can see it easily.

Website - Though this involves some initial investment, a well-designed website will give you terrific return on that investment in inquiries, visits, and customer satisfaction. Remember, your home page is the most important page on your site.

Local Media - Make the press your marketing partner by initiating contact with local editors and reporters with information about your business and events. Make sure the information is unique, timely, and of interest to their reader/viewer/listener profile. Deliver it to them in their preferred format. The third party endorsement good publicity gives you can be a priceless return for merely a bit of your time.

Your Community - Whomever said there are diamonds in your own backyard had obviously mined some. So should you. Seek out community events that draw your target audiences. Then participate in a way that is visible to attendees and profitable for you.

Your most effective marketing efforts are not always the big ticket items. Adding these simple ways to market to your overall marketing action plan can mean big returns for very little effort.

If you want more techniques on how to market wisely in a challenging economy, attend or host Julie’s seminar, How to Be Bullish on Marketing in a Challenging Economy. To book it, call 800-876-0260, or email julie@juliewassom.com.

-Julie Wassom
http://JulieWassom.com

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Ask Julie

This column features my response to a question a reader of my newsletter has asked me. Is it something you have wondered about , too? Read on. And if you have a question you want answered please email it to me at juliewassom@gmail.com or tweet me @JulieWassom.

Question: What is a focus group? How does it work?

Answer: A focus group is a select group who gathers with a facilitator for the purpose of doing some market research. Most focus groups are small and address very specific issues about a business. Participants can be parents who have been invited to contribute their perceptions or an anonymous group of people who represent a target group, such as prospective enrolling families. The facilitator runs the group by asking specific questions, and guiding the discussion. Answers are recorded and compiled for later use in designing marketing campaigns, determining levels of customer satisfaction, developing new products and services, etc. Focus groups, combined with other forms of market research, can yield valuable information to help a child care company attract and retain more customers.

-Julie Wassom

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Unlocking Sales Potential in Paralyzing Times

They freeze. That’s what happens to some owners and managers when the economy slows down and prospects become harder to find and convert to buyers. Market conditions and fear of what’s happening out there causes them to stop doing these three things:

  1. Marketing actively to generate inquiries
  2. Converting every qualified prospect into a site visitor, then to a buyer
  3. Communicating to customers that their business is thriving

Is this you? If so, you may be inadvertently diminishing the potential you have to build new sales and repeat business.

Here’s the good news. These times are exactly when savvy business owners and managers are taking advantage of the growth opportunities in a challenging economic market. They keep marketing when their competition has slowed or stopped. They seek new target audiences, and use creative, cost-effective methods to gain exposure and generate inquiries. They learn proven marketing and sales skills and practice them. And they initiate customer attention activities.

People still seek quality in their investments, lifestyle, and purchases. But since the markets took a nosedive, many investments seemed to vanish in thin air, and recovery is predicted to be slow, they are reassessing what else they need in an investment. Most are looking for the best value, a sure thing, and someone they can trust. They are carefully determining what is important to them in their purchase decision.

This means now is the time for you to be keenly aware of what your prospects – and your customers – want or need and how you can assure them you can deliver it.

- Know who your target is, where they go for information, and what needs they have which you can meet. Adjust your marketing messages and promotions according, always communicating your unique niche. Start with your website. Is it unique, easy to navigate, up to date, interactive?

- Be visible in your community. Increase community marketing in your draw radius. Choose cost-effective activities that will put you in front of groups of your qualified prospects and opinion influencers. Generate good publicity.

- Sharpen and practice good sales conversion skills. Now more than ever, every qualified inquiry counts! Get the training you need and then make it your goal to do what it takes to convert every real prospect to a buyer. Their first purchase may not be huge, but with good customer follow-up, these customers could well become repeat buyers.

- Increase customer focus. Initiate regular activities to make contact with your customers, communicate important aspects of the business, involve them, and assure them of your stability and value in helping them be successful.

There’s truth to the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” By making sure you keep moving forward with your marketing and sales efforts, you can turn tough times into terrific sales and business building opportunities.

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Are You Making 2010 Your Best Year Ever?

You began 2010 by saying goodbye to the challenges of the past year (maybe even decade), and looking ahead to the opportunities that lie ahead. With the first quarter behind us, what have you done thus far to make this your best year ever? These five actions can launch you onto a path to more success in your future.

Reflect on your marketing and sales efforts over the last year. What have you done – not just intended to do – but really accomplished? What has worked and what has not? To what can you attribute the success (or lack of success) of select efforts? Make a list of changes you need to make in 2010.

Get your attitude together. It is said that we only use 12% of our brain power. Beyond that, I believe the height of your success depends significantly on the altitude of your attitude. What you think about tends to come about. If you think you are going to convert each qualified prospect inquiry into a sale, you start with a big advantage. Likewise, if you think it is going to be hard to convert them, you start with a severe disadvantage. Thinking positive can help jump-start your success.

Make a marketing action plan. This plan is the action roadmap part of your overall marketing plan. For each marketing effort, list the actions you will take, the timelines involved, the people responsible for each task, the budget you need to allocate, and the method you will use to evaluate the results. Plan at least one activity per quarter – monthly is even better. Layer marketing efforts, meaning you go beyond advertising to include publicity generation, community and industry marketing, and customer relations activities.

Work your plan. Putting it down on paper or in an electronic file is only a step in the right direction. To reach your sales goals, it is absolutely imperative that you complete the activities you listed in your marketing action plan. Though you may need to revise your plan as your situation and market conditions dictate, execution is key.

Reward yourself. When a marketing effort has yielded the qualified leads you had hoped it would or when you have made that sale, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. It does not have to be something huge. Maybe you get that small piece of equipment you have been wanting or celebrate with a good bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers. Rewarding yourself is part of making marketing fun, and it can help motivate you to get busy on that next activity in your marketing action plan.

Market like you mean it in 2010! May this year bring you more qualified prospective buyers than ever.

-Julie Wassom
http://JulieWassom.com

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Welcome to Wassom’s Marketing Wisdom

I wanted to start off the blog by telling you just a bit about who I am and what I do. So without any further adieu let’s jump right in!

Julie Wassom is a speaker whose message means business. As president of The Julian Group, Inc., she has proven consistently that a creative, continuous sales and marketing program is vital to the success of any business. The results of Julie’s philosophy have earned her a highly respected position in the business community and are reflected in her company.

The Julian Group, Inc. is a Denver, Colorado-based training and consulting firm, specializing in helping progressive businesses market and sell with comfort, confidence, and a competitive edge. Clients range from small companies to associations and multi-million dollar corporations worldwide.

In over twenty years of professional speaking, Julie has established herself as one of the finest trainers available today. With high energy and ideas that work, she has motivated audiences in industries as diverse as finance, advertising, early care and education, livestock, and eldercare. She is author of a series of books, audio programs, and a monthly newsletter on marketing, sales, and customer relations.

“A key strategy in new business development is to think in the prospect’s perspective,” states Wassom. She distinguishes herself as a speaker and trainer who delivers with Relevance, Originality, and Impact. Her firm takes pride in delivering the customized client services that are The Julian Group’s trademark.

Julie holds a Masters Degree from the University of Denver, and is active in professional and community organizations.

Some of Julie’s most-requested programs are:
• Magnet Marketing – Drawing Prospects to You Until They Buy
• Turning Prospects into Buyers – Five Non-Negotiable Sales Skills
• Exceptional Customer Service – Creating Loyal Customers and Lifetime Referrals

Julie Wassom can be contacted at 303-693-2306, www.juliewassom.com or julie@juliewassom.com.