Category Archives: Marketing Strategy

Aristotle on Web Marketing

Aristotle, a long time ago, laid down the principles for a convincing argument.  Even today, as we formulate our marketing approach, we can follow his approach.  His classical appeals are to Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

Ethos

Ethos is the Greek word for character; the word ethics is derived from ethos.

An appeal to Ethos involves establishing your credibility.  The Sanford Web Credibility Project established ten guidelines for Web credibility, that I summarized in an earlier post.

On the Internet, your prospects can research your claims, and it turns out that more than half of them do so.  So it’s necessary to be honest just because there’s so much checking going on.  But beyond that, building trust is one of the major challenges we face when marketing over the Internet.  Remember, we’re offering something at a distance, to people who have never met us, never seen our offices, never talked to our support people, who have no knowledge of our character.  We want them to give us their money and trust that we’ll deliver what we promise, or, if worse comes to worse, we’ll live up to the terms of our guarantees.  That takes trust!

Be careful of self-evaluation in what you write.  Don’t praise your own products or services, don’t say “this is really excellent”.  Describe what it does and how fast or whatever, and let the prospect make their own judgment about whether that’s really good or not.  It’s OK to describe something in detail, but bad to make your own judgments about it.

You can use the judgments of others, but here, too, be careful.  Testimonials and customer reviews are powerful persuaders, but Internet shoppers today are good at detecting fakes, so stick to real testimonials and genuine third-party reviews.

Pathos

Pathos, emotional appeal, and it’s also a part of persuasion.  It’s the Greek word for both suffering and experience. 

Emotional appeal can be overdone, but we’re all persuaded b emotional appeals.  In fact, branding itself is simply an emotional appeal, the feeling that a brand evokes.  So emotions lie at the heart of marketing.  We’re told that fifty percent of every buying decision is made by emotion.

A favorite Best Friendscharity of mine, that successfully  works my emotions with every newsletter they send, is Best Friends Animal Society, a wonderful animal shelter.  They use great photos of pets, and the hard-hitting news about how many are killed in shelters every day, to soften the hardest heart.  Here’s an example from the home page of their Web site.

Go ahead, click on a link and look at their site.  And if you want to make a donation, your money will join years of my own donations there to help the animals.  And you can get their great newsletter, that any animal lover will treasure.

These people understand emotion and how to use it in their marketing communications!

One route to emotional appeal is to cite the problems we all have in dealing with support organizations.  If you’re offering support that’s really better, than doesn’t run me around for a half hour chasing phone menus and then transfers me to two different people to solve a simple problem, I can relate to that emotionally.  In fact, that’s the story of my call yesterday to Verizon just to find out what was my userid so that I could log on to their Web site.  But before you represent your company as better than Verizon (as low as that bar may be), be aware that your prospects are doing their research!

Logos

The Greek word logos refers to a universal divine reason that transcends all imperfections in the cosmos and humanity.  It’s an eternal, unchanging truth present from the time of creation, and available to every person who seeks it.

In rhetoric, Logos is an appeal to reason.  Logical appeals often involve syllogisms, which are composed of two permises and a conclusion.

An example of a syllogism would be “All dogs are furry creatures with four legs.  Jada (my dog) is a dog.  Therefore, Jada is a furry creature with four legs.”  Premise one plus premise two leads to a logical conclusion.  Another syllogism is “Engaging Dave to advise me in Web marketing can increase my sales and profits.  I would like to increase my sales and profits.  Therefore I will engage Dave.”

In order to build your logos-based argument, you’ll need to provide reasons for your audience to believe each of your two premises, before they will accept your jump to the conclusion.  You can cite outside studies, testimonials and other evidence to buttress your arguments.

Here’s an appeal to Logos that I believe fails.  It’s for hyaluronic acid, whatever that is.  These are the claims made for it, backed by no citations of outside evidence at all:

Huraluric Acid

Familiar symbols have been used to give credibility.  First, the bottle does look like a typical pill bottle, gaining some credibility.  Then there’s a seal that quality is assured–by whom?–GMP.  GMP ensures that you are getting real hyaluronic acid.  Then we see that it has–good grief!–3 likes on Facebook!  Then there’s a statement of the role of hyaluronic acid in the body, with a little asterisk at the end.  The astute reader who looks at the bottom of the listing sees what the asterisk is for:

FDAAre you ready to rush out and order your supply of hyaluronic acid tablets?   Neither am I.  This is not a successful appeal to Logos.

The Bottom Line

Employ Ethos, Pathos and Logos to persuade your prospects.

 

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Dave’s Four Laws of Marketing

Marketing is different from selling–the marketer figures out how to sell, the seller actually sells. This issue of the Newsletter gives four simple Laws of Marketing: follow all of them for success. The Fourth Law is most often not followed.

 The Laws

 Here are Dave’s Four Laws:

  1. Keep trying new things
  2. Measure the results of each thing you try
  3. When you find something that works, do more of it
  4. When you find something that doesn’t work, do less of it

Continuous experimentation–and improvement–are the keys.  When magic happens and you find something that works, then capitalize on it and do more of it. But the don’t just keep adding marketing costs when something works; also trim expenses on things that don’t work as well.

If you have “sacred cow” marketing practices that are not delivering business, or you don’t know if they are delivering business, find new ones, measure them, and consider discontinuing old practices. An example that’s quite current is a spend on newspaper advertising, that is becoming less useful all the time as newspaper circulation declines.

The Bottom Line

Marketing is a process of continuous improvement. Markets don’t stand still, so your marketing can’t either. Keep experimenting and improving. And consider killing some sacred cows!

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Dave’s Laws of Marketing

Marketing is different from selling–the marketer figures out how to sell, the seller actually sells.  This issue of the Newsletter gives four simple Laws of Marketing:  follow all of them for success.  The Fourth Law is most often not followed.

The Laws

Here are Dave’s Laws:

  1. Keep trying new things
  2. Measure the results of each thing you try
  3. When you find something that works, do more of it
  4. When you find something that doesn’t work, do less of it

Continuous experimentation is the key.  When magic happens and you find something that works, then capitalize on it and do more of it.  But the key is to not just keep adding marketing costs, but to also trim expenses on things that are not working as well.

If you have “sacred cow” marketing practices that are not delivering business, or you don’t know if they are delivering business, find new ones, measure them, and consider discontinuing old practices.  An example that’s quite current is a spend on newspaper advertising, that is becoming less useful all the time as newspaper circulation declines.

The Bottom Line

Marketing is a process of continuous improvement.  Markets don’t stand still, so your marketing can’t either.  Keep experimenting and improving.  And consider killing some sacred cows!

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Tell a Story!

The Power of a Story

You’re absorbed in reading a great story.  Your mind is in the story–you don’t answer the phone, your coffee gets cold, you may stay up until 2 a.m. reading.  Is this what happens when visitors to your Web site read the copy on the site?  Or do they see the usual sales talk.

Sales Resistance

To keep our sanity in today’s world, where we constantly encounter sales messages we build up considerable sales resistance.  This resistance goes up automatically–we may not even notice it–whenever we hear the usual “persuasive” words of ad-speak.  Lots of evaluative adjectives can set off sales resistance–and once it’s in place, nothing else that you communicate will be accepted easily.

What Makes an Effective Story?

Green and Brock published results of their research that show that a factor called “transportation” is a mechanism whereby a story can actually effect beliefs–whether the story is presented as factual or fictional.  By “transportation” they meant the extent to which the story absorbed the attention of the reader; it involves imagery, emotion and the focus of attention.  This tells us that if we tell an effective story, not only can we grab our reader’s attention, but we can change opinions!

How Do I Write a Story?

Here are some techniques to consider–but the central idea is a simple one.  Think up a story that indirectly brings in your sales message.  That’ll avoid raising sales resistance, and let you persuade without “selling”.
  • To write an effective story, use imagery–use actual images to help portray the message, or paint a mental picture of the situation.
  • Suspense is a time-tested technique; we all want to see how something turns out.
  • To persuade your reader to change–and adopt your approach–have the story talk about that very change.

Overcoming Sales Resistance

In a story, how do you overcome sales resistance?  Think about your marketing message–what makes your offering different.  Then use a story that indirectly shows that, without trumpeting as a marketing message.  For example, if great customer service is part of your message, then tell a true story about how one of your people was able to help a customer.  This story could not only get across the idea that your support people do great work, but also it could talk about some wonderful product feature that the customer couldn’t get to work.  Now two parts of your marketing message have been delivered, without encountering sales resistance.

The Bottom Line

Take a look at your sales copy, and if it’s boring, think about telling a story.  You’ll persuade better, and who knows, you may even have fun writing it..
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Learn from Banksy

Banksy Can Teach Us

Recently the popular graffiti artist Banksy opened an outdoor art stall and sold his valuable work for pennies on the dollar.  The people who bought from him were fortunate indeed!  Banksy gets attention from everyone, from the art elite to the man in the street, the media, marketing people, everyone.  His latest stunt cost him a few pieces of art but has given him an enormous amount of publicity that he could never afford to purchase, including awareness of the selling price of his work.

In case you’re not familiar with his work, I’ve included a few images of his work.  All are by Banksy.
What can we learn from Banksy?
 

Break the Rules!

Remember, Banksy is a graffiti artist; most of his work is technically a crime. However, if he does his work in places where it’s actually welcome, then he’ll go unpunished, although Mayor Blumberg may not be a fan. For example the owner of the brick wall shown on the right is unlikely to be angry at Banksy for his work.
We, too, should not be totally conventional, and we should look for places where we can break the rules and not do exactly what’s expected of us. But, like Banksy, we need to keep our rule-breaking within limits.
While departing from conventions calls attention to us, it’s important to understand that conventions govern what people expect to see, so if we go too far our message may be misinterpreted.

Let Images Tell The Story

Images are powerful story-tellers.  So if your product or service lends itself to images, use them to tell the story.  Have a beautiful professional photograph that shows the prospective guest how your hotel lobby looks like…or how one of your great apartments looks inside.
The front door of your restaurant, or the outside of your apartment building, is less important than images that speak more directly to the customer’s experience.
If you’re a restaurant show your most beautiful meal, not just your menu–and from the diner’s point of view.  And show people having a great time.  If you sell cars have beautiful photos of the cars, including a photo with the driver’s door open, ready for me to get in and drive.  Use images that let your prospect place themselves into the picture.  Show someone putting on that great-looking jacket, don’t show it on a hanger.

Be Newsworthy

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Create offerings that stand out enough to appear in the news.  You’ll never be able to afford the publicity you can get with an exposure on a news show–or even that news item that gets syndicated and appears everywhere like the Banksy art stand.

Build a History with Your Brand

Banksy’s long history is consistent and has created a brand story.  Similarly we should pay attention to the history of our brand over time and consider what we want our own brand story to be.  If we build it in a consistent way, it’ll gain more attention and have more credibility.

The Bottom Line

The huge public attention captured by this graffiti artist has lessons for us, if we will but pay attention to the free advice he’s giving us.
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Use the “Limited Edition” Strategy to Create Buzz

Use Limited Editions to Create Buzz

The Limited Edition approach to drawing attention to your offerings is to add strange, even outrageous additions to your products and services to attract attention.  You may not sell many–or any–of these products, but the attention they create will be well worth your trouble in creating them.

Examples

The simplest examples are extremely high-end offerings.  If you rent vacation homes in the mountains, how about a weekend rental that includes a chauffeured limousine, all meals catered by a French chef, and free admission to anything you’d like to visit?  If you’re a tailor, how about an outfit consisting of a suit hand-made from South American Vicuna, the most expensive wool in the world, a shirt made of 480-count Egyptian cotton, and a tie made of Dupioni silk, all the most expensive fabrics in the world?  If you have a hamburger stand, offer the whole place for an evening, serving Kobe beef steaks and fine French wine.

The idea is to offer something that’s far off the scale for your business, something seen as outlandish or even ridiculous.

Promote It

Once you’ve added the Limited Edition to your offerings, then promote it like mad.  Issue press releases, blog about it, post about it on social networks, mention it in your newsletter.  Provide as many opportunities as you can for people to see it and tell others about it.  Be sure that you’re liberal in equipping all of your promotions with social media toolbars, to make it as easy as possible for readers to share what they’re seeing.  Don’t forget to let industry-specific magazines and trade groups see your new offering.

The Bottom Line

You won’t make a lot of profit directly from a Limited Edition, but you can attract a lot of attention.  If it goes viral and becomes hugely popular, the publicity you’ll receive, and the value on the incoming links, can be priceless.

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Do You Know Your KSP?

What’s a KSP?

Your Key Selling Proposition should appear on your home page.  It tells, in perhaps ten to fifteen words, what you offer and why the visitor should deal with you.  The KSP is intended to persuade–quickly!–the sort of visitor you want to stay on the site and explore further.  But the KSP is more than that, and can–and should!–be used to unify the marketing message that your employees convey and deliver on.

Examples

Who has a KSP?  Successful companies that market effectively have KSPs.  And a lot of work goes into developing them.  Here are some examples that you’ll recognize:

  • Burger King:  Have it your way
  • Enterprise:  Pick Enterprise.  We’ll pick you up.
  • Bounty:  The Quicker Picker-Upper.
  • McDonald’s:  I’m lovin’ it
  • Ford:  Go Further
  • Chrysler:  Imported from Detroit
  • Domino’s Pizza:  Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less–or it’s free.
  • M&M’s:  The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.
Each of these attempts to catch the principal benefits of the brand in a few words that can be remembered by people who see any of the firm’s advertising.  The best KSPs also encapsulate important company goals and help employees get together behind company goals.

How Can I Develop a KSP?

A good KSP is usually the result of considerable work.  It isn’t the result of an hour’s work.  This  four-step process, based on recommendations that are commonly given, is a good way to develop your KSP:

  1. Identify the Need:  Understand your target audience, which is a group of people with some particular unmet need.  Just what individual needs and challenges do these people face, needs and challenges that you are uniquely positioned to resolve?
  2. Identify Your Strengths:  From the perspective of your customer, what do you offer that your competitors don’t?  What particular benefits do you provide?  And most important, what benefits do you offer that your competitors don’t?
  3. Identify the Promise:  It’s important to make some specific promise to your prospect that encapsulates the key needs the prospect has and your unique way of meeting them.  Combine the need from step 1, and strengths from step 2 and the promise into one concise paragraph.
  4. Boil it Down:  Take the result of step 3 and reduce it to a single statement, that is both simple and specific.  Strive for the simplicity and directness of the example KSPs above, and the effectiveness of the best KSPs in expressing your goals for the benefits you will deliver.

The Bottom Line

Your KSP is critical to your Web marketing.  But it’s also important as a rallying point for your employees.

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Five Stages of Disruption Denial

Disruption

Today we live with constant disruption.  Technology, economic, political and other changes challenge our notions of how things should proceed in our personal lives–and business–every day.  Our typical reaction to disruptive change is not to embrace it but to deny it, and by stages to come to understanding.  Grant McCracken has written an interesting post in the HBR Blog about five stages of disruption, that I summarize here.  Because much of Web marketing is about disruption, I think this idea is worth sharing, to help all of us recognize disruption denial in those around us and even in ourselves.

1. Confusion

We look at the new development, and we just don’t get it.  What’s so important about LinkedIn?  What use would I ever have for it?  Makes no sense to me at all.  Why should I care?

2. Repudiation

I remember when PCs first started to arrive in the corporate computing scene, hearing one of the mainframe  diehards say “We don’t need PCs.  We have terminals with microprocessors in them.”  At this stage, it’s fashionable to deny the importance of the new technology.

3. Shaminig

At this point, we’re convinced:  the new technology is going nowhere.  Our reaction is to advocate giving the new technology a while and it will go away.  We’re sure it’s not important.  Who would ever want to promote a product in 140 characters anyway?

4. Acceptance

OK, we realize that it’s here and it’s staying.  So we sign on, finally, and stop our opposition to it.  The fact of arrival is here.  We adapt.  And move to the final stage.

5. Forgetting

Of course, as innovators, we can’t be content with the history we’ve just built of opposing the new technology!  So what do we do?  No one wants to be the last person to “get it,” so we simply rewrite our own history of the last four stages, and convince ourselves that we were on board all the time.  How could we have missed, or even opposed, such an evidently good idea?

The Bottom Line

Be aware of the five stages!  And when something new presents itself, look at it analyze it carefully, and resist the urge to react emotionally.  Think about its personal impact and think about how to adapt to it if it’s successful.

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Learn from Lance Armstoong

Lance Has Trashed His Brand

Lance Armstrong provides a strong lesson for any of us who have a brand that we try to develop.  He came forward on Oprah’s show and admitted that he has lied about doping for years.  To cycling officials, to his sponsors, to all of us.  He threatened and even sued people who told the truth about him.  He accepted millions in sponsorship money under false pretenses.  And now he admits all of this!

Recovering the Brand

Lance has admitted victimizing nearly everyone who had any type of relationship with him.  He didn’t just lie; he attacked anyone who insisted on the truth with threats and even lawsuits.  He started a charity–that’s done a lot of good–based on his good example.  He’s now trying to salvage any part of his reputation–the Lance Armstrong brand–that he can recover.

I remember that in the early 80s I had a brokerage account at a major company that one day admitted that they had been scamming the banks where they had accounts.  They had stolen several million dollars from the banks.  When I went to the firm to close my account, my broker told me that I didn’t have to worry–that the firm had never taken a dime from any customer.  My reply was that I’d rather deal with firms who didn’t steal from anyone!  That scandal wrecked the company; they’re now gone from the scene.

Lance is is far worse shape, having deceived everyone.  And then loudly proclaiming that he wasn’t deceiving anyone.  Sporting figures exemplify the ideals of striving and succeeding; Lance’s example is in cheating and lying on a scale hitherto unknown.  It’s hard to imagine that he can ever recover his once-priceless brand.

The Bottom Line

Our brands reflect how we behave toward our customers, our suppliers and our opponents.  When we’re tempted to cut a corner, the “Washington Post test” is good to keep in mind–how would we like to read about what we’re about to do on the front page of the Washington Post tomorrow morning?

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Free Stuff is the Easiest Thing to Sell

Free Stuff

We all are attracted to getting something for free, and we’ve know it since we were children.  The ice cream cone is great, but it’s nicer with those free chocolate sprinkles on top!   Whether we are selling something or if we just want people to join our mailing list, we should give away something for free!  The free thing doesn’t have to be anything expensive–it doesn’t even have to be tangible–just (1) attractive, and (2) free.

Words to Use

My friends at convertasaurus.com have done some research, and they found that these are good words to use, with the most effective listed first:

    1. For your free estimate
    2. A 30-day free trail
    3. Get a free consultation
    4. Bonus miles
    5. Get a free gift!
    6. Bonuses!
    7. Free shipping

The Bottom Line

Give serious thought to the copy on your Web site.  Consider whether there’s something free that you can offer to induce prospects to join your email list, or to buy from you.

And, while we’re at it, give me a call if you’d like a free estimate for your Web marketing project!

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Learn from Airports!

Don’t Run Your Business Like an Airport

Seth Godin has written an interesting blog post about what we can all learn from airports and how they are managed.  Airports are a terrific counterexample for how to run a successful business.  If they weren’t the only way to get to an airplane, who would use airports the way they are run?

Their View of the Customer

Airports view the customer as a powerless transient.  Customers are here now, but they’ll be gone soon.  Why worry about them?  So their customers are subject to all sorts of potential bad surprises, like late or even canceled flights, crazy fees just to check a couple of bags and no end of hassle connected with security.

Industrialization of the System

In a relentless quest to squeeze every dime out of costs, the whole process has no slack anywhere, so there is no room for any accommodation, any spontaneity or any joy.  There are no spare airplanes any more, so if your plane has a problem you wait for it to be fixed.  For however long that takes.  The people who help you are so pressed for productivity that they are about as cheerful as people working at a cemetery.  And for good reason.

The Bottom Line

Honor your customers; they are the life of your business.  Take care of them and they will bring you more customers.  Treat them as airports do and your business will not enjoy the success it could have.

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Use a Free eBook to Create Leads

eBooks

Giving a way a free ebook is a great way to get subscriptions to a newsletter or in general to simply create interest in whatever your Web site is promoting.   Creating a nice-looking ebook can seem like a daunting effort–but fortunately there’s an easy way to do it.

The Template

HubSpot creates a lot of ebooks themselves to promote their own efforts.  But they decided that not everyone has access to the fancy tools that they use to create ebooks, so they created an ebook template in PowerPoint that’s designed for the rest of us.

How It’s Done

HubSpot identifies five steps for creating your own ebook using their template:

  1. Create the intro material, your bio, the summary.
  2. Create a page for each chapter title, with a picture
  3. Put in your content, and make it look beautiful
  4. Put in a call to action to encourage the next step you want the reader to take
  5. Convert your ebook into a PDF
You can find the template, and some great advice on creating your ebook, on HubSpot’s site.

The Bottom Line

Giving a way great content is a way to spread your name and increase your reputation.  Now, with a great way to create your own ebook, there’s no excuse for you not to do it!
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Differentiate Yourself!

How to Compete: Be Unique!

Michael Porter of Harvard has conducted landmark studies of competitiveness–of companies, regions and nations. It’s good news for us that he has also written about strategy and the Internet, and how to compete on the Internet. His analysis is worth considering.

Alternatives

Porter describes two principal options for competing on the Internet: operational superiority and strategic superiority.
Operational superiority is obtained by doing something better than anyone else. On the Internet there’s a great opportunity to be very efficient and deliver quickly and at low cost. Amazon is a great example of operational superiority: for years, they kept borrowing to fuel ever-greater expansion, seeking their “sweet spot” where they would have enough volume that they’d be profitable. And, finally, they achieved it. They’ve now achieved it, and the operational superiority they’ve built in the meantime now makes them a formidable competitor.
The alternative, strategic superiority, is obtained by doing some specific thing better than anyone else. That specialty makes you the supplier of choice for the specific thing that you do best. Take a close look at your competitors on the Internet, concentrating not on how you are similar, but how you are different. How can you build on those differences to be best for some particular part of your market?
Happily, the Internet is a huge marketplace. When you seek to go head to head against a strong competitor, you’re attempting to divide the market segment where they are already established. You’ll have to fight hard for everything you get, and your entry is likely to provoke a response from your competitors, making things even more difficult for you.
On the other hand, if you go after your own niche, you’re not such a direct threat to your competition, and you may not get a competing response from them at all. This will allow you to pursue your chosen market segment all by yourself. Or at least with less competition than you might otherwise have.
You can also look at this issue more narrowly in terms of query terms where you compete for search position. You can find out the terms your competition has high ranking for in search engine results; then go after other terms that are widely used. And if your established large competition has position on two-word terms, go after high ranking for three-word terms that re more specialized, instead of meeting them where they are strong.
In order to get this marketing advantage, you’ll need to actually look at the marketplace, find out who is operating in it, and decide how you will differentiate yourself. This differentiation then can form the heart of the strategic plan for your company.

The Bottom Line

The Internet connects you directly to a marketplace of almost unlimited size. Capitalize on this advantage by going after your own niche rather than the niche held by an established, larger competitor.

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Who are my best business prospects?

Who are my best business prospects?

I had an interesting conversation today with a prospective client and he reminded me of an important truism that we all sometimes forget. The best sales prospects for any business (well, almost any..) are the people who have already done business with you. These people have looked at the alternatives and they’ve chosen you. They’ve spent money with you, and invested their egos in that choice. It’s important for all of us to keep this in mind as we market.

What do I do about this?

Be sure that your Web site offers something to previous customers. A “what’s new” section can allow them to find out the latest developments–and opportunities to be a customer again! A support section lets them access any support information they might need and lets them contact you. If you’ve taken my earlier advice and have a newsletter, that’s another important vehicle for reminding customers that you’re still there and eager for their business. Be sure to not sell in your newsletter, just provide interesting information about what you do and what you offer. Make it easy for your past customers to recommend you to friends.

The Bottom Line

Pay attention to past customers; they’ve provided you all the revenue you’ve received, and they can be the source of further business and referrals. Provided that you keep them in mind with all your marketing efforts.

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Win Your Customer’s Heart

Win the Sale by Winning Your Customer’s Heart 

I subscribe to a great (free!) newsletter from Harvard Business School called the Management Tip of the Day.  The issue that arrived today was headed “Win the Sale by Winning Your Customer’s Heart”.  Because it’s such a good message I quote it exactly, then comment on what this means on the Web.

An earlier issue of this Newsletter talks about how to establish credibility over the Web, an essential part of marketing.  This is another basic marketing idea that we apply all the time in face-to-face business that we must apply on the Web.

What They Said

“Customers are far more likely to purchase a product or service if they feel valued by the person selling it. Underappreciated customers will look elsewhere to make their purchase. Reach out to your customers and make sure they know how important they are to you. Give them the opportunity to meet as many of your staff as possible, all the way up to the CEO. Thank them for their business and ask them to tell you about their company. When you create an emotional connection with them, they are more open to hearing what you have to offer, and much more inclined to purchase. This needs to be a genuine connection, however; your overtures shouldn’t be phony or insincere.

What This Means on the Web

It’s easy to see that this is general wisdom for face-to-face business.  And a moment’s reflection lets us realize that it’s also a good idea for the Web.  So how do we carry it out?

First, be sure that your Web site makes you look customer-friendly.  Have your street address and your phone number on every page of your site.  Real businesses that take care of customers are open for customers to contact them.

Second, this shows the importance–and even the purpose–of your “about us” page.  Talk about the history of your business, emphasizing how you connect with customers and care about customer problems.  And be sure to let the visitor meet the staff.  Or meet the inventor.  Or meet the CEO.  And portray not just the business dimension of these people, but something personal as well.

Third, don’t neglect how you behave toward customers!  Dealing with people through the Web makes them seem remote, but remember that there are lots of feedback mechanisms on the Web, so if you don’t take care of a customer that word can spread and can be hard for you to overcome.  So don’t leave anyone unhappy, when there’s an issue go the extra mile for your customer.

The Bottom Line 

Use every opportunity to show that you genuinely care about your customers.  Show it on your Web site and show it in the behavior of every one of your employees.  Make your customers king so that they can make you wealthy.

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