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Sometimes “I don’t know” is the right marketing answer

Art-of-Listening Some years ago, I met with a potential marketing client over lunch. It was the president of the company. I had heard from him that he was not pleased with his existing marketing program, so this meeting was an opportunity to listen and learn about his business and talk to him about FocalPoint’s work. I was thrilled to get the appointment and wasn’t sure what to expect.

After talking about his present marketing strategy and how it didn’t seem to result in the sales volume he had hoped for, he asked me a pointed question he knew would put me on the spot.

“What can your company do that will get us where we want to be?”

At first it appeared to be a golden opportunity to plunge in and talk up our firm. But frankly, I didn’t want to give a sales pitch based on platitudes, in fact, I never give sales pitches.

“I honestly don’t know,” I said. There was a stunned moment of silence. I was pretty sure I’d lost the opportunity, but I also knew I didn’t have the background on his business that I needed to provide a qualified answer.

“I don’t want to be presumptive and offer you something that sounds good, but is based on nothing. You know much better than I do about what is going on in your industry and your business. I need to know much more before I could even begin to come up with marketing strategies that might make sense for you.”

I was being brutally honest. I wasn’t ready to talk about specific strategies to market his business. But I wasn’t sure how my answer would be received.

Listen-&-LearnInterestingly, everything about that meeting changed in that moment. Instead of having a typical business meeting, we began to have a real conversation. We both dropped our pretenses and did a lot more listening than posturing or selling.

Although that happened a while ago, it fascinates me how life lessons present themselves in unexpected ways. This one has stayed with me at FocalPoint, and it’s one I share with those I work with. Being frank and open and asking a ton of questions is a big part of the way we handle new business.

So, what can you tell us about your business so that we can begin to work together as a part of your trusted marketing team?

Here’s my card. What can I do to help you? Or feel free to send me an email brien@focalpoint.co

FP_BusinessCard_Brien

Never. Stop. Networking. Ever

Networking or word of mouth is still among the most powerful things you can do to expand your sphere of influence, increase your base of potential clients, and grow your business.

This is why at FocalPoint, we encourage networking. Our best tip? Ask the most influential friends and powerful business associates you know to introduce you to the people they think you should get to know to expand your business. Be sure you ask for a warm introduction – a shared business card followed up with an email to both you and the new contact.

I know what you’re thinking. People often agree to network with one another and don’t follow up. It happens to me as well. So make sure you agree to do network for them first. Then do it. Chances are good you will receive the same treatment in return.

Then what? Reach out. Get to know them those contacts. Emails are great for that first introduction. But a 30 minute coffee first thing in the morning is even better. Especially if you buy. Talk about your company and what makes it tick. Tell them what your perfect client looks like. And your next product launch. The best thing you can do is ask for their advice. People love to offer advice. They feel good offering it and you build a bond. You’ll now have a new contact who is going to look out for you and send new business your way. And maybe provide you with a new business idea or two you hadn’t considered.

Someone ultimately knows someone that can help you out and even better, will want to.

Networking. The incredibly powerful, original marketing tool that still works wonders. It’s personal. It’s effective. And the best part? Other than your time, it’s free.

Here’s my card. What can I do to help you?

Brien Richmond Business Card

 

Er, what should I say about my business on social media?

Here at Focal Point, we frequently talk to business owners and managers tasked with using social media as a part of their overall marketing plan. Often these folks can pull up their latest Twitter feed, link to YouTube, post on their Facebook page, and download their LinkedIN updates, but just aren’t very sure what to say when it comes to business use.

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Chances are, you’re thinking about social media all wrong

Hitting-your-sweet-spot
Just about everyone is on the social media bandwagon. But chances are good that most folks using social media are misusing it and overlooking its real purpose.

At FocalPoint, we know that social media is about connecting with the people in your sweet spot. In other words, your customers, potential customers, those who are interested in what you do, or people with similar interests. Social media is about building relationships, establishing rapport and networking.

We also know that what social media is not about, is sales. In fact, using social media to sell is a real turnoff to those tuning in to your posts. Social media used correctly, is a gradual, organic development toward building trust in what you have to say. If your blogs and tweets are about sales and laden with calls to action, your followers will soon lose interest.

That said, effective social media will gradually generate more interest in your products and may build business as a result. But there is no direct link. It’s a gradual thing.

Social MediaRemaining active on social media sites is another big plus which is often overlooked. Multiple quality postings will not only increase awareness of your brand (name recognition as well us increasing understanding of who you are and what you do), it will also boost your company’s rank on search engines. But only if you produce regular quality posts. The more you post, the faster your brand will inch up Google’s search engine ladder. (We know because we track this information for our clients.)

Effective social media use will also show that you and your company are viable, contemporary entities that know what’s going on, know your business, and know how to communicate the knowledge to its best advantage.

Got a question about something with social media we didn’t answer? Ask us! Heck, we might even write a post about your question.

 

6 Approaches to Effective Marketing to Millennials

If you’re still marketing your message the same way you always have, chances are good you’re missing out on motivating top potential customers, the Millennials. This is true even if you are taking advantage of new social media forms of communication. You need to make sure you are using them in a way that aligns with how Millennials think and behave.

Millennials The young adult generation born between 1980 and 2000, Millennials are rapidly increasing their spendable income. Along with Gen-Xers, they are the future – and they need to be communicated with in a way that resonates well with them.

A marketing message that speaks to the older generation is going to come off tired and boring to Millennials. That said, some marketing truths are still solid.  These truths include telling a compelling story and offering an appealing, honest and humorous take on your product or service.  Allow me to offer up 6 quick things to think about before planning your next online marketing campaign…

6 Things To  Consider Before Spending Your Next Marketing Dollar

  1. Boredom is the kiss of death. Millennials thrive on edgy.
  2. They are multi-taskers, used to balancing many activities. They look for flexibility in hours, products and usage.
  3. Millennials crave individuality and identity. They want to be heard and understood. When you provide a micro-narratives (small unique stories that rely on human experience) rather than meta-narratives (generalizations), you picque their interest.
  4. They research, absorb and analyze new information far more quickly than Boomers.
  5. They love humor in unexpected places (including at your expense).
  6. They want to give back and will seek out organizations that do the same.

That’s asking a lot of your marketing. But the good news is that in today’s market, you can put smaller, more individualized marketing programs together in a variety of different places to target the Millennial market. That’s where we come into the picture.

Focal Point Understands Millennial Marketing

customer service_Focal_PointAt Focal Point, we know Millennials will research the organizations that interest them. We can help you build a solid online presence in a variety of mediums. We’ll make sure you are found in the right places with the right message.

Once you’re found, you will need to be memorable. So, we’ll help create a brand identity that will look good on small screens like cell phones and large screens like High def TV in interesting colors that say something subtle or brash about what you are all about. (Tall order, we know.)

We also consider using humor because it works so well with the Millennial crowd. That is, provided it is self-effacing, or sly, or edgy or pokes fun at something they can relate to.

Lastly, we’ll show you how to talk about your flexibility in a way that is approachable. And share what you’re doing in the community, too. Millennials are not as selfish as advertised. They get that giving back thing. Big time.

Start Marketing To The Millenials Now

If you are getting the idea that Millennials are pretty cool consumers, we couldn’t be more pleased. Now, let’s get this passionate, creative and edgy conversation started!

Why Your Free Content Isn’t Really Free

Free Content Doesn’t Exist

I am a big proponent of putting out free content on a regular basis to drive leads.  I understand that the most effective forms of content marketing are all about solving problems, answering questions and building trust.  The fact that educating leads turns them into better customers is not lost on me.  And while I say all of this and use the term “free content,” I understand that it’s never truly free.

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