The Fatal Attraction of Spaghetti Marketing 101

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SPAGHETTI MARKETING 101

It might look like a scene out of Fatal Attraction, but this is a marketing scene happening in start-up businesses every day. Boiling the life out of your ideas and flinging marketing ideas against the wall without a structured master plan will end in you burning out your audience.

Two years ago, I had a client who wanted to try everything. He wouldn’t listen to sound advice that works. He didn’t want to work on a structured business plan. He didn’t want to build a marketing plan. His budget changed by the week. He was excited about every idea that came to him in the middle of the night. We developed a following but he quickly discovered that throwing spaghetti at a wall does not work long-term. His followers started to disappear. His subscribers started to unsubscribe. And it seemed as though it was capitalism at its worst. With the audience disappearing, the discounts seemed desperate and last-ditch effort to grow his revenue rather than deliver on value to potential customers.

“Give me your money!” That was his constant approach. It didn’t work.

Finally, when the audience disappeared, we discussed a re-design of his website and a complete re-launch. We did it methodically after creating a business development plan and a marketing plan.

If you really want to be in the game, you have to create structured plans. You have to be willing to listen to your team or they shouldn’t be on your team. If you’re not serving the audience or losing your followers and subscribers, there’s a reason.

STOP.

Re-evaluate your marketing approach and examine your analytics, review statistics and conversion rates, track what worked and what failed. Then, you must be willing to readjust in order to rebuild. Remember, there’s more than one way to do marketing. Collaboration can lead to success.

Never react with an instant NO to new ideas.

My client finally listened and we built a base, rebuilt organically on top of that base, and people noticed. It was quieter. His assets were more colorful with a thoughtful, pleasing approach instead of screaming at the audience with exclamation marks. It wasn’t all about discounts that seemed to be like an infomercial yelling at his customers to give him more money. As a result, his quieter authority grew over time. He interacted with his audience, asked for feedback, and incorporated changes into his plan.

What changed from his first creation compared to his second re-launch?

He boiled away spaghetti marketing and started listening to alternative approaches. He was a leader who wouldn’t get out of his own way. Sometimes, we need to listen to everyone from the receptionist to the janitor so we can do a better job meeting the needs of the audience. If you’re unwilling to receive feedback from your audience, it shows.

What value are you offering me?

What can your product do for me?

Why do you care about me?

Tell me why I need to believe in you.

The personal pronouns you use in your marketing matter far more than discounts. Connect with your audience in a personal way.

The discounts he had offered were fickle at best. None of the end dates stuck – they were always continued endlessly. He saw it as a way to make money fast. But it backfired. And it cost him business and respect.

The consumer audience is smart. If you’re in it only to boost your bottom line revenue, the audience will know and reject the offering instantly.

With only seconds to capture a potential customer, your website, social media accounts, and emails should be original and on point. Now is not the time to guess or repeat the same message over and over again without stellar results.

The value you deliver today will be appreciated tomorrow. Most importantly, show that you value your client’s time.

Email your subscribers with new content; don’t eblast or ebomb them every single day. Personally, I’ve unsubscribed from 12 eblast lists in the last 30 days. Why?

With the first group, I didn’t subscribe and they added my email to their list without permission. Be familiar with the law and compliance. Furthermore, always seek permission before you add an email to your list.

With the second group, they’ve sent me too many emails that start with “oops, I made a mistake.” Their mistake was trying to make me click two days in a row on the same pitch to give them money. That’s what I call a scam.

Finally, the third reason I unsubscribed was because the emails didn’t offer me new information but only seemed to clutter and spam my email account. Do you want to be perceived as SPAM? If your email marketing approach is being viewed as spam or junk mail demanding money from potential clients, it’s not working. You’re now demeaning your product and your company’s reputation.

Oftentimes, less is more: fewer emails with new content have a more positive impact over time. Put an effort into every message you send to your followers and subscribers.

In every job from a journalist to a marketer, I’ve been a storyteller. Take them back to the story. What is the story of your company? What is the story of your product? What is your story? Tell me a powerful story and make me a believer. Stories connect more than ever today but deliver it inside of a real, structured master marketing plan.

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve witnessed in starting up a new business is not putting pen to paper with an overall plan that your team can see. I can’t say it enough: write it down so the entire team climbs aboard the same train.

MASTER PLAN: Start with a solid one-year master plan that you develop with a team approach:

  • MISSION: Establish the company’s vision and mission with your marketing team.
  • BRANDING: Become an influencer to establish and expand the company’s footprint in your industry.
  • BUSINESS PLAN: Design a one-year business plan with your team listing goal markers. WRITE IT DOWN and distribute to your team.
  • MARKETING PLAN: Create a detailed step-by-step marketing plan with your team but infuse some fun into it. WRITE IT DOWN and distribute to your team.
  • MARKETING BUDGET: Detail a marketing and advertising budget with your team and show exactly where you plan to invest money. WRITE IT DOWN and distribute to your team.
  • EVENT SCHEDULES and AD CAMPAIGNS: Create event schedules and ad campaigns with your team that

    focuson topics and storytelling. WRITE IT DOWN and distribute to your team.

  • EDITORIAL CALENDAR: Create an editorial calendar for the entire year.
  • PRESS RELEASES: Schedule press releases at regular intervals using keywords. If the press releases aren’t appearing in Google Alerts, re-evaluate the way you’re releasing information.
  • TESTIMONIALS: Query your current customers for honest feedback and testimonials. Feature those testimonials on your website.
  • EMAIL LISTS: Email once a month or once a week only with original content. Query your email list audience at regular intervals.
  • ANALYSIS: Review your written business development plan and marketing plan. Analyze what has been working and what has failed.
  • READJUST: Listen to your audience, listen to your entire team, and be willing to readjust.

If you’re not willing to listen or alter the plan along the way, your back tire is going to spinning in the mud. To get movement and traction, you need to take structured actions instead of reactions by the day. Remember, history will repeat itself if you don’t make needed changes that focus on an organized, structured strong plan.

Now, have fun marketing!

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5 Reasons to Invest Money in Your Entrepreneurial Business

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SHOW A PROFIT

“You need to spend money to make money.”

– Playwright Titus Maccius Plautus (c. 254 – 184 BC)

The playwright Plautus was most likely referencing the theatre with this quote, but it’s true to your own business, no matter its size. You must spend money to make money. Any business that doesn’t invest in its team and marketing assets will only hurt its bottom line profit.

Invest in Your Team and It Will Show in the End Product

If you want to play in the world of entrepreneurship and business, you have to look the part to build a start-up. No one will take you seriously if you don’t provide the quality of expertise you pretend to offer. That applies to every niche and attempting to build a footprint in every industry. Every element from marketing to design matters to the audience. Perception of authenticity is critical.

5 Reasons to Invest Money in Your Business

It doesn’t cost a fortune to create a successful entrepreneurial business. If you’re smart and savvy about your investments, you’ll see profit instead of losses. But you must invest money to show profits.

  1. Professionalism. It’s professional to pay your team. Do not barter or attempt to trade services with friends or new potential clients to deliver the bare minimum in results. This is weak and embarrassing. Word travels quickly. If you have no capital to invest in your own business, no one will want to be in business with you either. Set a budget and pay for all professional services rendered or consider getting a day job while you save money to invest. Either be professional or don’t start yet.
  2. Audience Respects Advertising Dollars. During the start-up of your business, you need to set a budget to invest money in advertising. Find your audience. Do your research. Meet them in their environment and gain their respect. Build early clientele by word-of-mouth and then start investing in advertisements. Do not use kickbacks, referral fees, or any other shady (potentially illegal) technique to build clientele. Build your business the respectable way.
  3. Clients Want an Original Experience. Invest in an original experience for your clients. Set a budget so website specialists or consultants can help you create and execute your vision. When a potential client sees an offering of a special experience, they’ll want to be a part of that experience. They want to belong to something extraordinary and life-changing.
  4. Pay for Training or Pay for Your Team to Be Trained. This is the reason bigger businesses have on-going training programs for their employees. But smaller businesses need to invest in training to remain competitive. It is important to either take professional-grade training or pay for your team to be trained in using professional programs. Potential clients notice a novice and won’t engage in your business.
  5. New Products Offer New Potential. Invest in changing the business offering to grow your audience. With every expansion or addition of a new product, give it a new name with a heightened experience. Maybe you add a new product, a VIP offering, or a Master Class to help clients. Always consider the market and get feedback from the customer. What do they need? What do they want? Consider how your business can answer those needs. Adjust your offer and deliver.

Start-ups are very difficult. The truth is that most start-ups fail for a variety of reasons. Lack of capital investment is one of the biggest reasons start-ups fail. Investing and reinvesting profits are critical to finding success.

If you do your research, develop a service or product that the market needs, invest in your business, and adhere to a budget, you may show a profit and find success. Every stepping stone, no matter how small, can lead to a bigger stone and potentially a mountain of success. Think positively. Be smart and proactive. And most importantly, invest financially in your business.

Customer Service Has Left the Building: 4 Ways to Build or Restore Reputation

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“The road to success is always under construction.” – Arnold Palmer

Whether it’s buying food, goods, or services, everyone encounters the best and worst in customer service on a daily basis. In many cases, less customer service has become the norm.

Think about it. Rate the last 10 businesses where you spent money. Were you happy with the service? Were you treated with respect? Will you spend money at that business again?

While actual business owners and leaders may care about customer service, many employees either don’t care or haven’t been trained in client care.

REMINDER: Customer Service is Everything to a Business

Without customer service, a business is nothing. Every business needs to keep their clients and grow client base to maintain or grow and increase profitability. It may seem obvious, but it’s not obvious to everyone.

Explore some common customer complaints.

Customer Complaint: Promotions Are Not Honored, Inaccurate, or Prove to be Bait and Switch

In recent cases, discount promotion deals were sent via email and then not honored.

A coffee chain recently offered an email and website discount promotion at all store locations, but it was not honored at all locations. The deal: if a customer purchased a certain coffee drink between the hours of 2:00 and 5:00 pm, the customer was supposed to receive a discounted drink. The offer was only available for three days. For a customer who attempted to use that offer during two of those days, two different franchise locations had excuses why the discount wasn’t available between those hours. Both blamed computer glitches and the timing offered in print. Confusing information offered by different locations meant inconsistent training. Only a phone call to headquarters rectified the situation by offering the customer a free drink. Problem solved.

In another situation, a discount promotion was offered by a bowling alley for Sunday bowling. There was no time restriction in the email or on their website for the half-price discount offer. However, the franchise business declined to honor the email discount even though the same offer was listed in print on their website. Employees claimed the discount was not as advertised in print. Instead, it was only available after 6:00 pm. Why were the email and website discount offered to the public if they weren’t going to be honored? That was bait and switch. A complaint was filed with the manager of the location but it was met with hostility from both employees and the manager. Problem not solved.

How employees deal with customer service represents the spirit of the company, whether intentional or not.

Response Reminder: Make certain print advertisements are accurate and all employees are informed of promotions.

Consistency in service is critical to success and client retention.

Customer Complaint: Poor Attention to Health Details by Employees

In a recent case, when a table became available at a sushi restaurant, the host took a wet towel, dropped it on the floor, picked it up from the dirty floor, and wiped down a dining table with the same towel. He didn’t care about blatant disregard for customer health. In California, sushi cafes have become fast food restaurants with a “move them in, move them out” approach. If the sushi owner knew this had happened, he would have been shocked because he built a chain of sushi restaurants on his name and reputation. 

In another situation, a man took a friend to a very expensive chain restaurant. While they were eating, a cockroach crawled across the table. He complained. The waiter was indifferent but offered a free dessert from the menu. If the waiter was really thinking about customer service, he should have made the entire meal free and apologized profusely. The man vowed never to return to the restaurant again and told his entire network of friends and relatives the story. It was less about the cockroach and more about receiving no apology and poor customer service. As a result, the business lost not only his business but future business from his entire network. 

Response Reminder: Most often, unhappy customers simply want to hear an apology and the words, “I’m sorry.” 

Do not let pride get in the way of an apology. It’s smarter to apologize than to insist on being right.

Customer Complaint: Incomplete Work Yet the Customer Paid In Full

In a recent case, a car repairman charged $2,000 for work on a car. The customer paid the bill in full believing the work had been completed. The next day the car broke down again. When the car was taken to a different repairman, an inspection showed that parts were not replaced and the car work was not completed as promised. When a phone call was made to the original owner of the repair shop to inform him, he apologized and promised to do the work at no further cost. That’s smart customer service. 

Response Reminder: The owner or manager of a business needs to stand behind their work and make the situation right.

The faster a business rights the ship, the faster the ship will float.

Customer Complaint: One-Minute Disqualifier

Things that happen in less than one minute can disqualify someone from being a long-term client. Every customer should be served with respect. It’s an interpretation of the intention of the vendor that can result in losing customers forever.

Working in a service industry, there are a variety of stories about customer service. Sadly, you hear more about poor customer service than good customer service. 

Customer service is about fairness, balance, and listening.

It’s easy to win a client. When apologies are made to customers, there’s forgiveness.

It’s also easy to lose a client. When customers are bad-mouthed or called liars, businesses lose repeat business for life. Word travels like lightning about poor customer service

Excellent customer service is critical to a company’s success.

4 Ways to Build or Restore Reputation with Customer Service:

1. The customer is always right.

Arguing with a customer will destroy a business. Never make the customer look bad. If a business apologizes to a customer and makes the situation right, most likely he or she will remain a repeat customer. Be prompt about responding the moment a complaint is voiced. Don’t give a customer the runaround or make them struggle to right a wrong. Deal with the issue, make it right, resolve it, and move on.

2. The needs of the customer must be fulfilled.

If a business promises to fulfill a customer’s need, that is the only acceptable result. Anything short of meeting a product or service promised will result in losing customers.

All businesses are created to serve the needs of the customer. Serving the need should be more important than greed or cashing in on sales. In order to have a viable business, the customer’s needs must be served. Without a customer, there would be no business. Therefore, customer service must be the number one priority in any business model.

3. Train employees on customer service expectations.

The reputation of the business depends on training employees to be informed on the details of products, honoring promotions, how to listen to customers, and how to treat customers with respect. If there’s no training, there’s a false hope of offering excellent customer service.

Training in resolving issues immediately by embracing positive customer service will set a business apart from competitors.

4. Do something unexpected and free for clients.

For every client, I’ve always done something for free that went above and beyond the basic expectation. It is either a small expenditure or offers something that makes their experience easier. Every client wants to feel special. Does it make a difference? Yes, it does. It creates repeat customers and positive word-of-mouth about a business. Find a balance that won’t deplete profit but will also show customers the business cares more about a client than a profit.

Customers always think about where they spend their money. So think like the customer and ask yourself some important questions to assess your own needs. Where do I shop? Where do I eat? Where do I spend my money for services? Why do I become a repeat customer? What is the experience I’m looking for in buying food, goods, or services? Would I spend money at my own business for the customer experience? What does the customer experience when placing an order at my business? Walk through the paces and see how you’re treated to make assessments.

Every business must rate their own client care and reassess customer service regularly. If a business markets itself in providing excellent customer service, follow through on that promise. Market the best service and deliver it. That approach makes all the difference between success and failure.

BOTTOM LINE: A customer will always go where they feel they get their money’s worth and someone cares about their personal needs over profit. If you welcome customers into your world with kindness and make them feel appreciated, it’s possible to create a faithful client for life.