Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Danger of Excessive Claims

Lately I have been hearing an advertisement from a "preowned" automobile dealer that specifically names a leading large competitor and the claim that the business in question will beat the price of that competitor and buy cars at a higher price.  Well, gosh, it sounds wonderful.  But the business model sounds impossible to me given that the competitor is pretty well known for low margins because it is a very high volume dealer.

Which brings me to my concern.  I immediately disbelieve this advertiser.  I am entirely skeptical of their claim.

It certainly also calls into question lots of other ads and their claims.  Not all of them are as blatant or easy to spot.  But they can be detected and potential business can be lost.

Our only real action is to slow down the madness by acting as responsibly as we can.  We can look at our own claims and our own messaging to see if we are also making statements that defy credulity.  Is what we say honest? true? defensible? explainable?  Anything short of that is a disservice to people who might be inclined to do business with us.

Bottom Line:  Take some time to look at what you're saying in your own advertising.  Be certain you can credibly stand on every word.  Don't play games in a bid to outdo competitors with cleverness and unbelievable promises.  Better to be super ethical and earn every bit of trust!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Using a Book As a Marketing Tool

Over the past two years I have seen an increasing number of people in my professional network writing and publishing books.  Truth be told, I am contemplating the same for myself.  A book is a terrific idea for many small business owners, as a marketing tool.  While the cost equation makes it unlikely that a book can be a revenue stream for most business people, it makes sense as a loss leader.  Here's why:

1) There's that word "author", the root word of "authority".  A book can enhance credibility.  There's something about being a published writer that attracts attention.

2) A book can deliver your ideas 24/7, when you're not there.

3) Books can also be an entre to customer development.  It is easy to set up seminars, workshops, and "author talks" at any number of places.  This is a great chance to introduce yourself, pick up a little extra income, and expose yourself to people who can become customers and clients.

4) Books are also a way that friends, colleagues and happy clients can share the word about you with their own networks.  I find many people love to tell others about their friends' books.

Caveats:  A book should be produced with care.  I strongly recommend using the services of a professional editor and guide.  Photographs and illustrations are also best produced by pros.  And if it's possible seek a publishing house unless you're really confident you can do a self-publish.  Every improvement in quality will buttress your image as a professional and credible authority.

Bottom Line: If a book makes sense, especially if you are a service expert or sell products that depend on your establishing a knowledge credibility, look into the world of publishing!  This is a tool that is ever easier and cheaper to execute.  Do you have that book in you?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Amazing Boost From Testimonials

More than a few of the business web sites I see in this area prominently display testimonials, and they are far from foolish.  There's no better salesperson for a business than a happy customer.  Testimonials and endorsements can accomplish several important things for the business.

1. Touting advantages and differentiation with another voice.  A testimonial can share thoughts about products or services, and how they differ from competitors', in words that speak to other customers.  Sometimes even in ways that the business owner didn't think up.  Moreover, the customer is better able to connect with the needs of other, potential customers.

2. Testimonials can give a great sense of engagement with the business.  Customers can give broad clues about their emotional connection with the business.  Someone who enjoys a relationship with the business owner will unquestionably expose that enthusiasm.

3. A prospect can gain valuable insights into the "fit" with the business through testimonials.  That is, if I am like a testifying customer in some important way I may be more likely to try that business' services myself.  As they say, "birds of a feather...".

Bottom Line: Don't just wait for testimonials: ask for them.  Happy customers will be delighted to help you with testimonials that can boost the business.  And display them prominently on your web site and social media properties!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Helpful Mindset

There are two kinds of advertising.  Ones that show a clear desire to help a customer or client, and those that don't.

Those latter ads aren't necessarily against help, but they emphasize the services offered, or how long a company has been in business, or price points and deals, and so on.  They really do not say as clearly as can be that the business helps solves someone else's problems or serves their needs.  I think that is an important distinction and I also think the potential customer notices.

By way of example, I have viewed with mounting frustration an ad campaign by a large company that is entirely self-congratulatory, pushes products that in my opinion serve imaginary needs, and talks starting prices.  All the poor customer wants is a service that works and which can be fixed quickly and professionally.  That latter bit never seems to show up in the campaign.

I notice this at well among small business owners.  Many mention the "what they do" but not quite "how I help you".

Bottom Line: Approach marketing with a "helpful" mindset.  How is the message directed to what can help the customer, or how?  What can be added to intensify that understanding?  When we show that we are listening and can solve problems, we become a great deal more attractive to the buyer!