Not all relatives are created equal.
If you’re fortunate, you have siblings who would gladly donate a kidney, aunts and uncles who inspired you to reach new heights, and still-close cousins with whom you shared many legendary youthful misadventures.
Then there are the vaguely familiar relatives who never write or call and whom you may run into only at family funerals. Some of them are nice enough folks, but many have nothing in common with you except DNA, feel they’re superior to you, and only show up when they need something.
I’m writing about families because many companies think of their employees as family, and their customers as extended family.
If you want to foster that image of warmth and togetherness, a regular newsletter is an effective way to go about it.
Sure, you can limit your contact with customers to the times they need to replace a major appliance or buy a house or get a six-month checkup (or whatever pertains to your particular business), but you risk becoming abstract and “out of sight, out of mind,” like those not-so-close relatives.
It’s like you start over from scratch with each transaction, struggling to develop a rapport and brand loyalty.
A company newsletter helps you import the best things about a tight-knit family.
As with the beloved uncle who “knows a guy” who can get you a discount diamond, a newsletter gives customers an adrenaline rush from receiving “insider information” about special sales, Customer Appreciation Events, and other promotions.
Families can reminisce about last summer’s beach get-together or about long-departed ancestors. Whether you’ve been in business for 5 years or 100 years, a newsletter is a chance to share past milestones, give your business some gravitas, and develop deeper bonds with the public.
But one can’t dwell on history. At family get-togethers, new girlfriends and boyfriends are introduced to the clan, retirees are welcomed to the next phase of their life, and babies are fawned over. It’s a time for sharing hopes and dreams. And an optimistic newsletter is a way for a business to share its own aspirations — for remodeling, for new products and services, for new locations.
Family gatherings are a time-tested way to pass along knowledge: recipes, genealogy, the best way to toss a football or tune up a Mustang. A “Frequently Asked Questions” section of your newsletter can pass along knowledge about store return policies, the most efficient extension to dial with a particular problem, maintenance tips for customers’ purchases, etc.
If Grandma lives 3,000 miles away, Skype and occasional week-long visits help her seem more like a flesh-and-blood person to the grandkids. Similarly, an “Employee of the Month” spotlight can make your staff seem more real and relatable. (“Hey! That redheaded clerk was a member of my sorority! I’ll have to chat with her next time instead of just dashing in and out.”)
Good families keep you from feeling alone in the world. Similarly, a “Customer of the Month” story can boost a customer’s confidence that he has made the right choice. (“Hey, if the mayor and my old pal Charlie both drive past six competitors to deal with insert-name-of-your-business, maybe I’ve not crazy for doing business here.”)
Family gatherings are a lively showcase for inside jokes, tall-tale swapping, and good-natured joshing. Your newsletter can be a chance to share puzzles, jokes, and humorous essays. It’ll even extend your reach. (“Let me tell you about this cute story I saw in the newsletter…”)
Sometimes it’s inevitable that spouses will “drift apart” or “grow in opposite directions,” but a well-placed relative can see the early warning signs and nudge them to rekindle their love. It’s the same way with businesses. Most business relationships don’t end with a heated argument; customers gradually drift away as they find someone who is a nickel cheaper or who is closer to the softball field. A well-designed newsletter can keep customers connected and motivated.
Of course, you get only the bad aspects of family if you don’t avail yourself of the resources to do a good newsletter. The periodical needs punchy text, a graphically pleasing layout, and a variety of material. You don’t want the articles to be boring, like the long-winded, tedious anecdotes of that in-law who corners you. You don’t want the photos to be like that folder of family pictures where Uncle Dufus had his thumb over the lens. You want to build up your customers’ self-esteem and not make them feel like ingrates because they haven’t already rushed out and utilized your latest piece of advice.
Are newsletters outdated? No, they’re just as vibrant and vital as cousin Margaret’s cheesecake and four-year-old Johnny singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Grandpa slipping you a little “mad money” for your honeymoon.
It’s time to give newsletters a big ol’ hug.
Were you aware that the Bible, as originally written, wasn’t broken down into the convenient chapters and verses we’re accustomed to?
It gets more daunting. There weren’t even spaces between words.
Yes, the letters all ran together, which made dealing with those scrolls a tedious task for priests, scribes, and later translators.
Can you imagine the typical 21st-century reader (his attention span diminished by glossy brochures, pop-up online ads, scrolling TV blurbs, 10-second radio jingles, billboards, flashing signs, bumper stickers, product-promoting T-shirts, etc.) relishing the chance to dig into such an overwhelming block of text?
If he thought anything at all about two tablets, it would be two tablets of Tylenol instead of two tablets of stone.
Of course, today’s Bibles have large print, red letters, maps, illustrations, marginal notations, dictionaries, concordances, and other features to make them more accessible and user-friendly.
Certainly, if you’re a businessman with a product or service not quite as urgent as escaping Egyptian bondage or fighting Philistine giants such as Goliath, you’ll need a user-friendly message, too.
They’re not quite as attention-grabbing as burning bushes, but well-done bullet points (with the right mixture of bold fonts and italics), paired with a headline that speaks directly to the customer, can be the secret to making your ads “pop.”
Notice I said “well-done.” When a prospective customer devotes a few precious seconds to scanning even the most graphically pleasing message, he is not going to be impressed by vague, trite blurbs such as “Unbelievable prices,” “Friendly service,” or “Wide assortment.”
Your prospective customer had already heard such claims ad nauseum since he was a toddler. He has probably been stung by assurances such as “it’ll pay for itself” and “high quality.” He has probably hired an incompetent, unmotivated employee or two based on a friend of a friend assuring him, “Charlie is a good guy.”
Sure, a clever pun might buy you an extra split-second of attention; but if it’s superficial, you still won’t make the sale. Thou shalt not put all thy eggs in the cute wordplay basket.
If your prospective client thinks of you at all as he tosses your flyer into the wastebasket, he will assume (a) that you are too lazy to write better copy, (b) that you are taking his business for granted, or (c) that you really don’t possess any substantive advantages to differentiate you from your many competitors.
Whether you prefer to break up your text with big dots, asterisks, numbers, letters, or emojis is a matter of personal taste. The real secret to bullets is providing specific, verifiable, customer-oriented information in bite-size chunks.
From all indications, the honey-like manna that the Israelites ate while journeying was both easily digestible and gave them the strength to do what needed to be done. Your message should offer the same benefits.
I have faith that you really do have a message. Because a run-of-the-mill, face-in-the-crowd operation with nothing unique to offer would just plug along with mediocre sales no matter how much it spent on advertising.
You, on the other hand, if you are justifiably proud of your business, should be able to articulate the reasons for your pride and fortify your ad with a barrage of easily understood selling points that make you invaluable to the customer.
Not every point is going to convince every prospective customer that you are the Promised Land they have been seeking, but something should make the waters part and reveal you as just what they’ve been looking for.
Even without Charlton Heston’s booming voice, you can draw business with true statements such as:
- “All products 100% made in America.”
- “Zero percent interest for 48 months.”
- “All mechanics are up-to-date on manufacturer certification.”
- “Named mid-state’s best restaurant by the Daily Tribune for 15 years in a row.”
- “Not 100% satisfied? We pay return shipping!”
- “We are the city’s exclusive authorized dealer of (insert brand name) products.”
- “The city’s only automotive shop with this year’s Hunter alignment system.”
- “Yes, shoes up to size 17 are guaranteed to be in stock!”
- “Styles or models out of stock in our showroom? We will deliver them to your door within 24 hours.”
- “All equipment is plug-and-play, with free 24-7 technical support.”
So, for example, one prospect might be planning to pay cash and couldn’t care less about your financing options; but if he has been railing against the influx of foreign-made goods, your “American-made” blurb is going to compel him to take a second look.
Another prospect might not demand a particular brand from you, but a chance to avoid paying through the nose for returning defective products would really resonate.
And so forth.
Don’t leave your potential customers wandering in the wilderness.
Your advertising should show concisely and convincingly that you can work miracles for them.
We’ve all worked jobs we hated. We were underpaid, underappreciated and bored out of our minds. We either quit these jobs or were fired for poor performance because we just gave up. Instead of taking that approach you need to consider every job an opportunity to learn something new that you can apply down the line to find success.
When you give people the tools they need to come up with unordinary solutions, you are enhancing their lives for the long run. You need to take this approach. What if one of your terrible jobs had been one with no pay at all and you needed to come up with some ingenious ways of making money? I bet you could have found a diamond in that rough. This idea can also be used in your own company.
Now, I don’t recommend going into the next meeting declaring that no one will receive pay anymore, but you can tell them that their potential raises, bonuses and other perks are now dependent on their creativity in ways to enhance business.
Let’s talk about a great concept called financial literacy. This certainly isn’t something they taught you in school, but is still essential to know. So, what is financial literacy?The old school way teaches people to be good employees and not employers. This mindset will never make you wealthy. You need to focus on becoming a good employer. You also need to learn how to not only attain wealth but sustain wealth for generations. This is what financial literacy is all about.So, how do you get out of the rat race and start working toward a wealthier future? You need to understand the difference between an asset and a liability.
Take a look at your own life and you’ll probably find the following:
• Real Estate
• Intellectual Property
• Consumer Loans
• Credit Cards
You’ve probably been fooled into thinking things like your house, car and entertainment system are assets. They aren’t! Assets should be continuing to MAKE you money. When you continue to struggle, you are not building wealth. If your primary income is from wages and each time you make more money, you pay taxes-you’re not really creating wealth either, are you?
So, if buying a house isn’t an asset (and, it’s not because you spend about 30 years of your life paying it off), then what is. Here are some of the best assets to attain and when you can start to actually see wealth being created because of it:
Average time of holding on to an asset before selling it for a higher value:
• Stocks (Startups and small companies are good investments)
• Mutual funds
• Real estate
• Notes (IOUs)
• Royalties on intellectual property
• Valuables that produce income or appreciate
So, here are the steps to getting out of the rat race and onto your journey of creating wealth:
1. Understand the difference between an asset and a liability.
2. Concentrate your efforts on buying income-earning assets.
3. Focus on keeping liabilities and expenses at a minimum.
4. Mind your own business.
If you need help getting out of the poor mindset and into the wealthy one, try our FREE test drive and work with one of our experienced business coaches today.
We went through the first three and next time we’ll talk about how to mind your own business to keep your eye on the prize.
Last time I gave you a laundry list of tips and tricks you can use to make your word of mouth program work for you. Hopefully, you’ve taken a look and decided which ones are the best fit for your company, products, services and target customers, so you can put them to work in your word of mouth campaign.
We are going to wrap up this series on word of mouth where we give you the specific steps to create a word of mouth campaign.
Now, let’s take a look at those steps:
- Seed the market. Find some way to get the product into the hands of key influencers.
- Provide a channel for the influencers to talk and get all fired up about your product.
- Offers lots of testimonials and other resources.
- Form an ongoing group that meets once a year in a resort and once a month by teleconference.
- Create fun events to bring users together and invite non-users. Saturn, Harley-Davidson, and Lexus have all been successful with this approach.
- Develop cassettes, videotapes, and clips on your Web site featuring enthusiastic customers talking with other enthusiastic customers.
- Create custom CDs for each potential customer.
- Hold seminars and workshops.
- Create a club with membership benefits.
- Pass out flyers.
- Tell friends.
- Offer special incentives and discounts for friends who tell their friends.
- Put the Internet to work.
- Do at least one outrageous thing to generate word of mouth.
- Empower employees to go the extra mile.
- Encourage networking and brainstorm ideas.
- Run special sales.
- Encourage referrals with the use of a strong referral program.
- Use a script to tell people exactly what to say in their word of mouth communication.
These are all amazing ways you can get the word out about your products and services and start a word of mouth campaign that takes on a life of its own. Before you can release your word of mouth campaign out into the world, you need to go through the checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the essentials.
Here’s your word of mouth campaign checklist:
- Are all of your communications sending the same simple message? If it can’t survive word of mouth, it’s not a compelling story.
- Is your product positioned as part of a category? Ex.”A dandruff shampoo that doesn’t dry your hair.”
- Are your examples outrageous enough to be shared?
- Do you enhance your materials with success stories from real people?
- Are you using experts effectively and in an objective manner?
- Have you created mechanisms so people can follow up on the word of mouth they hear, as well as simple ways of inquiring or ordering?
- Have you made the decision process easy for customers?
- Have you created events and mechanisms so that once a year your prospects hear about your product, and it is easier to try or buy?
These are all essential elements to take keep in mind when taking a second or even third check over your word of mouth campaigns. I hope you’ve found this series on word of mouth to be a great resource and are getting ready to put it into action for your own products and services.
Remember, if you need help with anything in this series, try our FREE test drive to gain access to the best resources, tools and business coaches you can find.
Today we’re going to give you some great ways on how to use the word of mouth in building and executing your campaign.
We have here a list form that you can go through and highlight the ones you want to put into action. These are can be found in the amazing book of George Silverman The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing.
- Shamelessly cater your first customers
- The customer is always right
- Make sure you give them something worth talking about
- Surprise the customers by going beyond their expectation
- Offer them incentives to encourage word of mouth
- Ask them to tell their friends
- Make them come back by giving them a reason to buy so that the will refuse service from anyone else other than you
- Always tell the truth
- Make eye contact, and smile, even over the telephone
- Don’t get annoyed when a customer asks you to change a large bill even if he doesn’t buy anything.
- Find ways to be a little better at making your business. Here are some examples:
- 1. Warmer greeting
- 2. Better shopping bag
- 3. Lower prices
- 4. Cleaner floor
- 5. Faster service
6. Nicer lighting
7. Extra matches
8. Free delivery
9. More selections
- Never embarrass a customer, especially by making him feel ignorant.
- Never ever take a customer for granted. If you do, she will never come back, and will go straight to your competition. They are your reason for being.
- Dust off items always, but never let the customer see you doing it.
- Never shout across the store about the personal items a customer is buying. Example is “How much are these condoms?” or anything.
- When you don’t know, admit it and do whatever you can to find out the answer..
- Try to remember your customer’s names. This will make them feel special.
- Don’t ever let two sales staff talk when there’s a customer waiting. The worst thing you can do is count your cash while there is a customer waiting.
- Don’t allow known shoplifters into your store.
- Never pressure anyone into buying anything.
- Personally visit or assign people to visit the store of your competitors and report back to you.
- Customer will feel grateful if you can suggest something better. Always respect their choice.
- Never give bad advice. Instead, help them come to the right decision.
- Never answer a question to show them how smart you are. Instead, answer with a desire to help the customer will be the best decision
- Hire a shopping service to give you periodic reports on how your people are treating your customers.
- If you have convinced one expert that you are better (in the drugstore’s case, a nurse or physician), expect that it will bring hundreds of customers and their friends through word of mouth.
- Always find ways to make a stranger a customer.
- Buy a store where the management is known in insulting their customers then put up the sign “Under New Management” outside. Then sell it later based on the increased sales.
- If someone gets mad at you, expect that they will tell everyone who will listen for as long as they are angry or maybe even longer. So correct any dissatisfaction and ask them to send their friends.
- People will walk several blocks to save a dollar, or see a smile, or be treated right.
- Always run a sale promotion or an offbeat event to make your customer come back and see what you are cooking up next.
- Use the best sign-maker you can find and pay him more than anybody else.
- Treat your people the same way you treat your customers.
- Have a zero error system though there may be terrible consequences. One example is if a mistake is made filling a prescription. Have your people check each other’s work for safety.
- Occasionally make intentional mistakes to see if your people are checking.
- Always measure your performance.
- If customers say they are moving away, try to offer to send them their favorite items by mail.
- Always ask your customer to “come back soon.”
- Tell your customers some jokes.
It may be a lot of information to digest so we’re going to wrap up this lesson. I’ll leave you with the homework of going through. Also, take a look at the tips and tricks you like best but look for tips that fit your company, target customers, products and services and for the most effectiveness.
If you need help with this process, try our FREE test drive and get all the help you need from our experienced business coaches.