Chain of Marketing

The Chain of Marketing pictures how a stranger transforms into a repeat customer who gives referrals for you.

Chain of Marketing - How Marketing Works

Links of the Chain of Marketing

Stranger - Interest

Every customer is just a stranger at first. The first link in the chain of marketing is creating interest; you cannot sell - anything, to anyone, ever - without interest.

You usually create the interest with advertising, but it's not by any means the only marketing method for pulling customers to you. For example referrals create much more interest than any advertising.

Effective marketing does NOT aim at interesting as many people as possible. The goal is to interest the "right" people.

Well-planned marketing is aimed carefully to the right people. The way you create interest greatly affects the rest of the chain of marketing and how each link works.

Listener - Connection

When the bystander is interested, you can create a personal connection. You don't necessarily have to talk with them personally. You can create the connection with the properties of the product, placement of you marketing, packaging, etc. The point is to tell the customer that your product is a good choice for them.

Your primary goal in this link is to get the customer to trust you and your product. "Insecurity and doubt kill the sale"; you won't even take a look at a product you don't believe to fit your needs.

If you chose the people you interested well, creating the connection isn't all that difficult.

Friend - Offer

You should never make the offer (or the call to action) before you've created the connection to the listener and built trust. A strong trust that you built earlier leads to easier sales. In the base case the customer trusts your judgement even more than their own.

The call to action tells the person what to do next. The action may not be buying, but instead signing up for an email newsletter etc.

The greater the trust you've built, the greater the action you can ask for.

A poor offer is a sure way to lose sales, but the more common problem is poor trust building. How much and how you need to build trust varies a lot. The necessary trust is directly proportionate to the action you're asking for.

Customer - Escalation

Customers who have purchased from you previously, are always easier to sell to more. But getting return customers isn't obvious.

Conditions for getting return customers:
  1. You need to have something more to sell. Not just any other product, but something that's valuable for them specifically.
  2. You need to know how to make a re-call to action. Upselling is both profitable and effective, you cannot shy away from it.
  3. You need to leave the idea of coming back. It doesn't matter if you did upsell or didn't; your customers always have to leave with a positive feeling.

The goal of escalating your relationship is upselling, but the condition for it is increased trust. The trustworthyness of your customer service is usually the biggest incentive or the biggest obstacle for upselling.

Return Customer - Referral

All people avoid risks in most situations. The most usual risk we face is something new.

There's always a risk involved when you try something new, so you tend to stick to what you already is good enough. New products, services, people, and companies always need to convince you of their harmlessness first.

A trusted referral often gives you more trust towards a company than your own experience.

You can and you should encourage your customers to give referrals. Referral marketing is a great way to get a steady flow of customers, but most companies completely forget to think about it.

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Latest articles about the chain of marketing

The Most Successful Product Launch Ever – Modern Warfare 3

The most successful product launch ever is currently Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. It’s a video game that created over $775 million in revenue in five days.

You could say, “Wow, Activision made $775 million in five days!” But you’d be mistaken.

They didn’t make that in five days, five weeks, five months, or even five years. It took them over eight years. But most businesses never make that much money. So, what made Call of Duty so successful?

Road to a successful product launch

1. The product is and always has been the best. The first game in the series was released October 2003. Since then many have tried to copy the game, but with little success.

It’s not that Call of Duty would be the best video game. It’s just the best in its niche.

2. Listen to what customers want. The developers behind Call of Duty have always listened to their customers. They’ve asked for opinions and read online forums, to understand what they can do better in the next game.

They’ve always delivered a better experience than before. The market leader is the market leader only as long as they keep getting better.

3. Their product becomes more valuable as more people use it. Most people enjoy the multiplayer part of the game more than anything else in the game. In the multiplayer you play against other people. So, the more people play the game, the more people you have to play it with.

There are some similarities to email. If you’re the only one with email, it’s useless. The more people have email, the more important it becomes. And because email is so popular, fax is becoming obsolete. The same thing can be seen in video games. If your friends play a certain game, you want to play it too because no one’s playing other games.

4. Pre-release hype. When Activision announces a new installment in the series, it creates buzz among players. They want to see how the new game will be better than the last one. Video clips, developer interviews, etc. all create something to talk about. And something to wait for.

Since the game is so popular, it takes a minimal effort to create buzz. Loyal customers and industry media’s do it for free. As the release date comes closer, more trailers and other content add to the anticipation. By the release time, everyone who want’s the game, knows when it’s released.

Would you add something to this list? Share your ideas in the comments.

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HubSpot’s Content Marketing is Almost Good

Content marketing is the preferred marketing method for many innovative companies. It’s cheaper than traditional marketing and creates better results for most businesses.

In short content marketing is providing valuable content to those who are looking for it. When your content proves useful, prospects are likely to convert into leads.

HubSpot is a company that uses free ebooks as a marketing method. You only need to submit your email and you get valuable ebooks from them.

I’ve downloaded a few of their ebooks and I can easily recommend them.

They also use blogs and social media channels for their marketing. And they do this all really well. But there’s one problem. And it’s a serious one.

After reading a couple of their ebooks and using some of their online services, I didn’t know what I could buy from them.

I really didn’t know what I could get from them. I know it was mentioned somewhere but I was able to avoid it.

So, what went wrong?

  • They had me in their emailing list. Check.
  • I was actually reading the content they provided. Check.
  • I’m a good prospect, I could use their product. Check.
  • When I think about the problem their product solves, I remember them. NO!

Whenever someone talks about content marketing, they’ll say, “It’s about the content. Don’t hard sell your services!”

Well, if the prospect doesn’t know what you actually sell, they’re unlikely to buy it. You could argue that when some content proves really valuable, you’ll check out the provider of that content.

That’s probably true sometimes, but not nearly always. In this case I only checked out what HubSpot sells after I realized I didn’t know it already. (They sell an inbound marketing software. You can get a free 30 day trial here.)

What can we learn from this? It seems there is such a thing as too “soft” sell when it comes to content marketing.

Include your tagline/slogan/description even to landing pages. And make sure people who read/use your content, will also figure out what you sell.

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3 New Year’s Resolutions Every Business Should Make

People make new years resolutions and so should businesses.  Here are 3 new year’s resolutions every business should make.

1. Don’t think that the same things that worked last year would work this year.

Things change. There’s no real reason to believe that you could keep doing the exact same things you did last year.

More probably than not, you need to change too. If your competitors change for the better but you stay the same, you’ll lose.

You shouldn’t change your core idea, unless it no longer works. But you should take a long hard look at how you do what you do.

Is your marketing creating increasingly positive results? Do your employees’ motivation strengthen? Do you enjoy working more than before?

Change for the sake of change is pointless, don’t fix what isn’t broke. But never say, “It worked well last year, so it’ll work well this year.” There’s no guarantee that’s going to happen.

2. Make a list of your top three development priorities for the new year. And act on them!

A business should always know exactly what it needs to work on the most. Unfortunately these priorities are often forgotten.

Do your sales people need more training? Is your company culture holding you back? Are there any new challenges in sight?

Never think your business is “ready”. There’s always the next level, even if you’re already the best at something.

When you have the list, do something about the things on it. And do that something immediately. Don’t put it off or you’ll find yourself writing the same list next year.

3. Deliver more value to your customers.

Think of at least five ways you can deliver more value to your existing and future customers. Unless you can deliver more value to your customers, they’ll find someone who can top what you offer.

Could you promise faster delivery? Better customer service? More resources to customers? Closer relationship with customers?

People get used to the status quo. They get bored with it and they start to expect more. Your competitors will do their best to offer more than you. So, beat your last-year-you and wow your customers again.

Do you have another new years resolution? Share it in the comments.

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Customer Evangelists: Your Most Valuable Marketing Asset

Customer evangelists believe in your story. They tell your story forward. They’ll happily challenge your competitor’s evangelist’s views. And they’ll always believe they won the debate.

Customer evangelists are your best customers. And they’re your best marketing asset as well; they’re the backbone of referral marketing.

How does someone become a customer evangelist? It takes five steps:

  1. They’re exposed to your story.
  2. They find your story compelling.
  3. They find proof your story is true.
  4. They see others are wrong when they don’t believe your story.
  5. They feel they get something out of fighting for your story.

But what’s your story? Your story is what your customer evangelists say about you.

For example Apple’s customer evangelists say Mac’s are easier to use, faster, cooler, and safer than other computers. That’s Apple’s story.

So, how to create customer evangelists?

1. Tell your story. Tell it to anyone who’s willing to listen. Turn your story into an elevator pitch (30-60 sec) and into a tagline (max 10 words). When you have them ready, you can easily tell your story whenever you have the chance to do so.

2. Make your story interesting. Mediocrity is useless. A “normal” story will be forgotten before you get to the end of it. No one will tell it forward. Additionally the story should make a promise. It can promise quality, functionality, feeling, or anything else as long as it’s compelling.

3. Provide proof for your story. Social proof is the most effective proof. Tell how others are making their lives better by using your services. You can also use statistics or specifications if necessary, but turn them into stories as well. “It’s like I found an additional hour into my day, when the new Mac cut the processing time to half.”

4. Tell a different story. It must be noticeably different from your competitors’ stories. The story, and its difference, should be clear to anyone who could ever become your customer evangelist. They need something to believe in, that makes them different from those who don’t already embrace your story.

5. Create something to be gained. Your customer evangelists need to gain something when they fight for your story. Feeling important and different will only carry them so far. Create a membership program, give discounts, or acknowledge your evangelists. Do something to show your appreciation.

Most importantly: always remember that you can never know who will become your customer evangelist. So, always treat everyone as if they already were your most valuable customer.

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Find New Customers: Placement is the Key

What’s the best way to get new customers with marketing? Find new people you market to.

Where to find new people? In new places.

Many marketers get comfortable with the placement and medias they use for marketing. If you’ve got good results by placing your ad in a specific magazine, you expect similar results in the future.

And usually you’re right about that. Advertising that worked well yesterday will probably work well today and tomorrow. But you can do better than that.

If you see someone’s ad for the hundredth time, you’ve already bought the product or you’re unlikely to ever buy it. So, why would you pay to get your advertising in front of the same people all the time?

But where can you find new customers? There are a few ways you can approach this:

  1. Look at your current customer base. You probably have some customers that are surprising. People you’re not even trying to reach with your marketing. There’s usually a lot more of them. You should consider targeting them with your marketing.
  2. Where your competitors aren’t present. This question has a million poor answers but usually also a couple of really good ones. It’s more effective (and cheaper) to avoid competing for attention for your marketing. If you can figure out a place where your potential customers are, but your competitors aren’t, you can make a huge profit.
  3. Widen your reach. You should always start your marketing with targeting specific groups of people. But after a while, you should consider using less targeted marketing methods. I recently wrote about TV advertising and how ineffective it is. Well, TV, radio, and some magazines have the unique ability to reach a huge audience. And sometimes that can lead to a lot of new customers.

The next time you catch yourself placing your ad in a familiar place, stop to reconsider once more. Can you reasonably expect it to be the best place? Sometimes the answer is yes, so don’t force yourself to always find new places for your advertisements.

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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Think About The ROI of Marketing

What is the ROI of marketing?

Almost every marketing specialist will urge you to accurately calculate the ROI of marketing. You should measure every marketing effort separately to be able to know what’s working best. ROI (Return On Investment) means how much you gain/lose relative to your investment. So, if you spend $1 million in a TV advertisement and that ad generates $5 million in revenue, your ROI is 400%. Seems simple and rational? Well, it’s in no way simple and I wouldn’t say it’s entirely rational.

Why you shouldn’t think about the ROI of marketing

There are 5 reasons why you shouldn’t think about your ROI of marketing.

  1. Marketing should be built into your business idea. If your product is interesting enough people will talk about it. And you don’t have to pay anything for word-of-mouth marketing.
  2. There’s no way to know the ROI of marketing for a specific marketing effort. All your marketing should work together. Maybe the customer, who decided to buy after seeing your magazine ad, wouldn’t have bought from you if they hadn’t heard the radio ad. You’ll often get inaccurate results no matter how precisely you track your marketing.
  3. If you concentrate on the ROI of marketing you easily forget to track other aspects of your business. Customer service and sales people often create much more sales than any advertising.
  4. Your marketing budget is like the phone payment; it’s part of the cost of doing business. You don’t try to calculate the ROI of email do you?
  5. The difference in the life long value of customers makes it impossible to calculate the ROI of marketing. Even if you knew what made a customer come to you in the first place, there’s no way to know what’s their value to you.

So, you shouldn’t think about the ROI of marketing. Then how can you know if your marketing works or not?

How to measure the effectiveness of marketing

Rather than trying to calculate the ROI of marketing you should compare your marketing efforts to your overall results. If you’re making a profit your marketing works. Maybe not all marketing you do, but at least enough of it. To get better at marketing you should also know what’s working and what’s not. Here’s some ideas on how to track marketing results.

  • Identifiers. Use promotional codes and other identifiers in your advertisements to track which ads were seen and acted on.
  • Target specific audience. Create ads that are only seen by a specific target audience. It’s easier to track who buys rather than why someone buys from you.
  • Change location. Systematically change where your ad appears to find the best place. Placement in newspapers and websites alike is important, because only a tiny portion of the space is actually looked at.
  • Change the design. Changing just the color of a headline can have a major effect even if nothing else changes. People respond to different colors in different ways. Remember that the surroundings of your ad will also play a part.

To benefit from the results you get by doing all this, you need to do A/B-testing. Make changes to your marketing to make it more effective. If you want to do accurate A/B-testing you can only change one detail at the time. Otherwise you won’t know which change actually mattered. But even more vague results can be helpful.

How much should you spend on marketing then?

Short answer: as much as you can as long as it creates a profit. But the more you invest the smaller the ROI of marketing will be.

Most effective marketing methods are usually online marketing and content marketing. Both are extremely cheap compared to traditional advertising and usually create much better results. They work so well because you can target the best opportunities individually and with low-cost. But the more you market the poorer the targeting becomes; you start with the best, the second target is only the second best opportunity, and so on. As the marketing campaign grows you can’t choose so specific targets anymore. And that leads to a smaller ROI of marketing.

Don’t think about the largest amount of money you can spend on marketing. Rather think about the results you’re after. If you want to reach the people who will make lots of referrals, then do that. If you want to increase brand awareness, do just that. You can spend as much money as you like on both, even though one targets only a few people and the other all the people.

Make a list of 3-5 most important goals you have for your marketing. I’d always start with reaching the early adopters. If they’re already using and promoting your product then go after target groups. Target groups are groups of people who are most likely to enjoy your product or benefit from it. These target groups are larger than the group of early adopters but still way smaller than the general public. Once the target groups use your product, start marketing to the masses. These “masses” may still be only a handful of people; in a niche market that’s very possible. But I’d use the same logic anyway: early adopters – target groups – the rest of them ;)

When you have your list ready think about how much value you give to each of them. You’ll quickly build up a math problem. Once you solve it you’ll know how much to invest in each.

You might think there’s no point in using more money to reach a few early adopters then to build brand awareness. Why is that? If you value more reaching the early adopters and target groups (as I do), then why wouldn’t you invest more effort into that? Obviously if your product is already well-known there are no more early adopters to target, and the target groups are already using your product. But the idea still stands: spend most of your budget and effort in the most important goal.

If and when your business makes a nice profit you know your marketing worked as it was supposed to. That’s a good ROI of marketing.

What do you think?

How would you calculate the ROI of marketing? Do you do it? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.

Why TV Advertising is a Waste of Money

It’s easy to spend your marketing budget

Tv advertisements are the easiest way to spend your marketing budget. Even if you need to spend $10 million it’s easy with a TV advertisement. Just call an advertising agency and tell them you have $10 million to spend for advertising. They’ll take care of it in no time. But they wouldn’t have a job unless it was effective, right? Well I’m saying TV advertising is a waste of money.

Why TV advertising can work

A TV advertisement works only if there’s someone watching it. During the commercial breaks people run off to the refrigerator or the toilet. And those who stay at their couch don’t want to see the commercials. So, they’re not really paying attention. Every advertiser knows this and yet they spend millions of dollars into content no one wants to see.

The idea, as all the same people would point out, is to create familiarity. People intuitively believe a familiar product is superior to a strange one. So, when you go shopping and see a line of cereals you like the one you’ve seen before. This works even if you don’t remember seeing the ad. So, TV advertising can work because of the benefits of branding. And for a select few it’s effective (see a list later in this post).

The ROI of a TV advertisement

Calculating the ROI (Return On Investment) for advertising is difficult if not impossible. And in my opinion you shouldn’t even try to calculate the ROI for marketing (I’ll explain why you shouldn’t calculate the ROI of marketing in another post). But for the sake of this post I’ll use the idea of ROI to demonstrate the idea.

Lets say you spend a million dollars for an ad. 10 million people watch TV when it’s aired. You only spent $0.1 per viewer! So, 10 million people buy your product and you make $1 profit from each purchase. You just made a profit of $9 million! A 900% ROI! Unfortunately that’s not realistic and everybody knows it. Often only a few percent of the people watching are potential customers (why have I seen a thousand tampon commercials?). And only a few percent of those will actually buy your product. Here’s how it changes the calculation:

  • You spend $1 million for an advertisement
  • 10 million people see you ad
  • 5% of them are potential customers
  • 5% of the potential customers buy your product
  • You make $1 for each purchase
  • 25.000 people buy your product so you make $25.000
  • You lose $975.000
  • Your ROI is -97.5% on your fancy TV advertisement

The 5% may be too pessimistic so lets make it more promising. Lets say 20% of the people who actually see your ad are potential customers. And 20% of them buy your product. Your ROI is still -60%. You lost $0.6 million. To break even the percentages should be over 30%. For some products like cereals that’s possible, but if there are 5 cereal commercials back to back they can’t all get 35% conversion.

When should you use TV advertising

As I said earlier there are situations where TV advertising can create a good ROI. But some of these conditions always need to be met:

  1. A TV show has a specific viewer demographic. And it’s identical to your customer demographic. So, if you sell fly fishing equipment it might be a good idea to advertise during a fly fishing TV show. But only if the viewers actually buy new fly fishing equipment from you because of the advertisement.
  2. Your profit margin is large enough to cover a small conversion percentage. Real estate agencies use TV advertising quite often. They can get a good ROI because even a single sale is worth a lot to them.
  3. A strong brand is especially valuable in your industry. The marketers of car manufacturer’s now how valuable it is to have a strong brand. And that’s how they can justify a pitiful ROI.
  4. A TV advertisement is the only way to reach your potential customers. A cereal company is an example of this. Many enough people buy cereals to justify an expensive ad campaign. And more importantly cereals is a repeat purchase; people can buy cereals many times a month.
  5. You want to win a marketing award in the TV advertisement category. If you do win you’ll be able to tell your boss and/or your potential customers that you won an award. So creating TV advertisements for your boss/clients is a really good idea if you’re in the business of creating TV advertisements :)

None of the examples above are actually rational

As compelling as the examples may sound, they’re not thought through. It’s true the ROI could be positive (you make a profit from your investment). But you’re still wasting your money! Or at least you should think about a few more aspects.

  1. The fly fishing equipment company would get a significantly better ROI by advertising in fly fishing magazines and in internet forums. They could create a content marketing campaign that would reach more people interested in their products. And they would reach their target audience at the time when they’re looking for information.
  2. Some major real estate agencies have already stopped using TV advertisements because of the poor ROI. They’ve realized they get a better ROI if they concentrate their marketing on the internet. They use traditional advertising methods with content marketing methods. And most importantly they reach their potential customers at the exact time when they’re looking for a home. One company I know of uses ads that say, “Click to see the most viewed home at *your city/country*”. I’m sure most people don’t want that house, but they’ll remember the website and go there when they’re actually looking for a home.
  3. I have to admit that car manufacturers need a strong brand and a TV advertisement is a good way to accomplish that. I’d still spend much of the marketing budget in content marketing. People look for information about cars on the internet. If you’re the car manufacturer who answers the questions your potential customers have, you gain their trust. And if you really want to be on TV then be in the TV show when people are watching their heroes. Product placement is already becoming a part of the writing process of a TV series. That’s because smart marketers understand the value of it.
  4. An average cereal company can’t really use content marketing because no one looks for information about cereals. But if you’re selling a healthy alternative you have more options. Websites, blogs, and forums about health, food, etc. would all be good places for advertising. Or you could also pay for a good placement in health food stores to create brand awareness in your niche target audience.
  5. If your goal is to win a TV advertising award you need to create a TV advertisement. Nothing to add to that…

So in short: spending your TV advertising budget in content marketing usually creates a better ROI. That’s because TV advertising can never be as focused and targeted as online marketing. But to be perfectly honest I do believe TV advertising isn’t always a waste of your money. But the odds are on my side: only a small percentage of the readers of this post can justify a TV advertising campaign worth $10 million. Or am I wrong?

What do you think?

I’d love to hear what you think about TV advertisements. Do you pay attention to the commercials? Would you use TV advertising with your product and why? Do you believe a TV campaign is more effective than a content marketing campaign? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Follow-Up Instructions

You know your products better than anyone else, right? Much of that knowledge could be useful to your customers. But there’s no way you could share all of it while selling.

Create a series of instructions you can send via email. You can then make sure your customers get the most out of your product.

At the same time you stay at the top of your customer’s mind. If your emails are useful you’re seen as a valuable source of information.

Your emails should be closely related to your product. But don’t write a product manual. Instead write about the problems your product solves and demonstrate how to do it.

When your message answers a question you give a reason for people to share it. If they know someone who could benefit from your solution they now have an easy way to help them; just forward the email.

Another benefit of sending emails is that you’re keeping an open line of communication to the customer. Remember to encourage them to contact you if they have any questions.

AWeber is the most popular solution for creating and sending the emails. And they send similar instructional emails to their customers.

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Expect Exceeding Expectations

Surprising customer service

A few days ago I tried to buy an audiobook from Audible. For some reason I couldn’t finish the purchase. I saw an error message each time I hit “Purchase”. So, I contacted the customer service via email. Within hours I received a reply. They didn’t know why I couldn’t make the purchase. So, they had made it for me without any cost to me! At the end of the message was a question, “Did the support Customer Care provide exceed your expectations? If yes, please click here: … If no, please click here: …” Obviously I clicked the first link. Then I realized they expected to exceed my expectations. If they had only met my expectations I would’ve clicked the second link. I would’ve been happy if my expectations were only met, but I wouldn’t write about it here.

Set your expectations high

I’ve written about turning customer complaints into referrals before. It’s a goal I’ve set for myself in that specific situation. But why wouldn’t you expect to exceed your customers expectations in everything you do? I’m convinced it’s the best way to get referrals. The old idea, “Meet customer’s needs and expectations, and you’ll succeed.” isn’t valid anymore. If your competitors are consistently exceeding your customers expectations you’ll lose. Why would anyone ever buy from you if you only meet their needs if they know of your competitors? Now you know why you should expect yourself to exceed expectations but how can you do it?

Do unexpected things

By definition you need to do something unexpected to exceed expectations. I didn’t expect to receive a free audiobook. When I did, it surprised me and I immediately decided to tell others about it. And the next thing I did was that I purchased another book (the problem was gone). The cost of the book cannot be more than a few dollars for them. With that they turned me into a customer evangelist. Here I am advertising a company I have no stake in (well I am their affiliate).

Customer inquiries is just the obvious opportunity to exceed expectations. If you want to be remarkable you need to surprise whenever you can.

When the customer first contacts you. Give them something as a sign of gratitude. A free sample of your product or maybe an E-book can be the first pleasant surprise for them. Even small stuff can be unexpected and memorable. The point is to get them hooked. If you surprise them immediately they’ll expect to get similarly exceptional service from you in the future. Why would they go anywhere else if they don’t believe anyone can match the experience you offer?

When you’re negotiating the sale. You can surprise with services and solutions they didn’t know of. You can do some research for them. Or you can offer to provide additional free services if a deal is made. Again the idea is to surprise them. If you sell televisions delivering them can be unexpected. But add a free sound system planning to it and you become worth talking about. And you’ll often sell a sound system too.

When you finish the project/sale. This is the most critical moment. The feeling they’re left with is the feeling they’ll carry of you until something changes it. After finishing they’ll talk about the project the most to others. They’ll either say you were fantastic or not. Which do you want to be? You can easily be remembered if you give them something valuable they didn’t expect to get. What you choose to offer should be related to what you do, but it doesn’t have to be your own service. For example offer a month of free cable TV after setting up the television. It shouldn’t be too difficult to make a deal with a cable TV provider to make this possible and beneficial to both parties.

After the project/sale. Wait a while after finishing negotiations/project/sale. Then make contact in some way. At the very least send a post card thanking them for their business. You could also offer a discount or a free sample of a related product. People don’t expect to receive anything from you after paying. Consider contacting your customers at their work. You can make their day happier and get referrals when they can immediately tell their colleagues what just happened. Don’t try to sell anything at this point. People expect that any contact you make is just a sales effort. And they don’t want that. A gift coupon or a discount can be okay. The feeling should be that you only wanted to check that the TV and the new audio system are working.

Get referrals from every customer

It may seem like an impossible goal, but you should still aim to get there. Getting referrals is a relatively simple process:

  1. You need to be worthy of the referral. You are worthy of a referral when the customer wants to give it. You should’ve done something they want to talk about. So, what do people talk about the most? Things that surprised them somehow. If you’re what surprised them they’ll talk about you. This works in the opposite direction too; they’ll tell all their friends if you were a surprisingly poor choice for them.
  2. The customer needs to know they’re expected to give referrals. Not all people are bloggers or outspoken in other ways. You should tell them you expect them to give a referral. You should set this expectation early in the sales process. You can say something like, “I believe we can exceed your expectations so much that you’ll want to tell your friends about it. And I do understand that if we under deliver, you’ll tell your friends about that too.” At the same time you’re asking for a referral and increasing your credibility.
  3. And you should encourage them to do so. I’m a strong advocate of after-sale-contacting for several reasons. Maybe the most important of those is that it’s one of the best ways to get referrals. It’s unusual to be contacted by a sales person after you’ve bought something. And if their offering you free training, or asking if they can do anything else for you, you’re likely to talk about it.

Do you have experiences you could share with others? Have you seen exceptional services somewhere? Do you offer them or have you received them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Review: Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Seth Godin - Purple Cow

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

Rating 5/5

Seth Godin is known for relatively short books. And “Purple Cow” is no exception. But that’s a good thing. The idea is explained exceptionally well without jargon. In the end you have a good understanding about the topic. And you don’t get bored with redundant content.

The cow

The book starts with a short explanation for the title. The author was driving in France with his family and they saw lots of “storybook” cows. For a while they were amazed by them but soon grew tired or them. Even bored. But if they had then seen a purple cow it would’ve been remarkable again. The principle applies to business; if you’re not remarkable you don’t exist. No-one pays attention to a new product that isn’t special in any way. Only an established business can hope to survive without being remarkable. And often even that’s impossible.

Creating the cow

Seth Godin says you should forget the traditional way marketing is thought of. Usually you create a product and then figure out how to market it. Forget that. Start with the question, “What would be remarkable enough to market itself?” Give the design or engineering department the budget you had reserved for marketing. Invest your money in the product. Make it remarkable. If the product is interesting enough to be successful it can succeed without a huge marketing budget.

Marketing the cow

Marketing a purple cow is easy. Potential customers actually want to see your product. Focus on the small portion of people who are most likely to start using your product. These “sneezers” will tell their friends about it. Eventually if your product is remarkable enough it will be accepted by a majority of people. But none of this can work unless your product is interesting enough to be picked up by the sneezers.

Milking the cow

After a while your product won’t be remarkable anymore. Just like seeing hundreds of cows will make them boring. You need to reform your product to keep it interesting. But it’s often a better idea to create a new product than change the old one. This way your “fans” can keep talking about the product they first fell in love with. And you get to create a green cow; the next big thing. At first you only targeted the sneezers. When your product isn’t remarkable anymore you can start to please a more general audience. After all there’s more money to be made from a wider audience. Just be careful not to make your entire company bland.

Recommended?

The book is a must read. Anyone working in marketing or product creation should definitely read this book. It’s one of the best business books I’ve read. If you’ve read the book share your thoughts about it in the comments. Or comment the ideas I shared here.

Buy the book

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