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The Real Value of Customer Service

I find myself frequently disappointed with local customer service. As an Indy businessman and homeowner, I’d like to turn that observation on its head. I’m fiercely proud of my city and my business. I’d like to represent both well.

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Post game analysis

New year, fresh start!

No matter what your business faced or how your team pulled through, now’s a great time to provide your team a well-deserved pat on the back and a thoughtful review.

  • Maybe that’s a half-day out of the office retreat.
Or a recognition lunch. Find something positive to recognize in each staff member, i.e., “Rookie of the Year,” “Best Use of Humor in a Low Moment,” “Most Inspirational,” etc.
  • Second, measure: Take stock. List your division’s accomplishments.
    • How close did you come in each category compared to your goal?
    • Where was growth centered?
    • How did this past year stack up with last year’s?
    • Think marketing. Where do you need to build? What should you be highlighting for future growth?
  • Lastly, where is your business headed? What will you keep as is? What needs to be changed or discarded altogether?
    • There’s no better time of year to debrief, reflect and regroup. If you take the time to do this now, it can prevent you from launching automatically into a repeat of this year. And progress and growth demand new vision.

Entrepreneurial Marketing, Selling the Sizzle

What's-Your-StorySteve Jobs was famous for entrepreneurial marketing. He created gadgets we didn’t even know we needed, and then marketed them so effectively, we knew we craved whatever he blessed – asap.

At FocalPoint, we’re quick to give Jobs his due, but we also appreciate that he’s not the only one to market entrepreneurially. There are many great examples of reading the marketplace correctly and capturing consumers’ attention, from hot movie franchises to new cars, popular political slogans to toy manufacturers.

According to Adrian Slywotzky, author of Demand: Creating What People Love Before they Know they Want it, “Demand creators figure out how to solve the big and little hassles we all face.” They tell a story about how their product will make our days more convenient, more productive and more fun. Then, they market that hassle-relief instead of the product itself.

It’s a great strategy, but not a new one. That theory used to be called “selling the sizzle, not the steak.” And it’s still a very effective way to market new products and new ideas because it relies on human emotion.

But it’s not always the first entrepreneur that succeeds in a big way. It’s the first to market to the emotional business or marketplace. Effective entrepreneurs and marketers have the uncanny ability to turn “fence-sitters” into customers by correctly pinpointing and marketing to buying triggers.

How can we help you use this marketing philosophy to help you with your business?

Marketing Effectively in 2016

It doesn’t matter how new you and your product are, you have to find ways to command attention to break through the noise and get noticed.

The holiday season is a great time to see this in action. Businesses of every sort are finding it increasingly difficult to rise above the noise and seize the attention (and buying power) of new customers. Some just succeed in making a lot of noise. Others break through the noise in brilliant ways.

Ask the Right QuestionsSo how can you build the kind of focused attention that allows you to market effectively? Some ideas:

  • Focus on inquiry. People like being asked for their opinion. They like to feel like they are connecting the dots to the right (buying) solution.

Like most guys shopping is not my thing and shopping for clothes proofs to be even more of a burden but the Trunk Club has the solution.  The Trunk Club grabbed my attention from a marketing perspective first and then from a consumer perspective.  This company is a perfect example of using marketing to inquire and engage their customer — leading them right down the path to a buying decision.

  • Shake things up. Challenge and surprise prospective customers with your marketing. Stimulate their imaginations.
  • Be authentic. Be genuinely and powerfully engaged in your business. Customers love to know that you love what you do – and that you do your best for your customers. Let your customers know they can depend on your word.

It’s not enough to get your message ‘out there.’ To get noticed and win business in today’s incredibly crowded marketing landscape, you have to command attention in unexpected, memorable and moving ways.

That happens to be our sweet spot at FocalPoint. We can help get you where you want to be.

Budget-stretching creative marketing techniques for small businesses

How can I expand my business in a slow-growing economy, you ask?

We get that question a lot here at FocalPoint. Because despite news that employment numbers are up and the economy is percolating, we’re not feeling any kind of surge here in the Midwest.

So, what can you do to increase your marketing share?

The short answer is: get creative! But of course, any marketing solution we recommend begins with us doing a lot of listening to what you do, how you do it differently, and what you are trying to achieve.

That said, here are some interesting ideas we may consider for small and medium sized businesses on a budget:

  • Believe it or not, on-line advertising may be your best bet. Depending on your business niche, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin may be good places to invest for little money.  We can help you figure out which type of on-line advertising creates the best pop for you by doing test ads. Test ads are run for a short time (for very little money) to see how well an ad will play out before we make a bigger buy. (Yes, we really can do that!)
  • You most assuredly cannot match larger competitors dollar-for-dollar but, you absolutely can use unusual or unexpected media approaches to woo business your way.
  • If your budget is tight, chances are you need to be more targeted with your advertising. Rather than a broad brush approach, we hunker down and do some real due diligence and discover how your potential customers actually make buying decisions. Only then do we select a medium that targets your customers in a way they want to be approached.

Here’s a glass half full way to think about marketing on a budget: Because your business is smaller, you have the ability to react quickly to current conditions and (together with us) create ads and promotions that use trends, changing circumstances, opportunities, and headlines to your advantage.

Let the creative sparks fly!

How to maintain more effective business relationships

How important is building and maintaining solid connections with your customers and the people you work with?

MillennialsBoth are invaluable, according to Michael Ray Hopkin, popular blogger and author of Lead on Purpose.

Hopkin believes that to be a truly effective manager or company president and attract and keep clients, you need to continuously improve your business relationships with your employees and your clients.

 

Here are three ways to do this:

Listen.

Let others talk more than you do. Pay attention to what they’re saying.

Understand.

Appreciate what your clients and your employees do. Take the time to understand where they are truly coming from.

Acknowledge.

Be quick to give credit to others for their successes. Celebrate achievements of your employees and delight in the accomplishments of your customers.

 

At FocalPoint, we agree, and put this goal into daily practice. We have seen that if you do this every day and make it a priority, you’ll learn about what inspires and motivates your employees. That will make you a better manager (and will keep employee morale strong).

Additionally, listening, understanding and acknowledging what your customers are saying, how they are reacting to your company, and what is really important to them – will put you in position to provide the services they really need in a way they will appreciate. And that translates into increased sales and customer dedication.

FocalPoint asks: What are you doing to build effective, solid relationships inside and out of your workplace? Got a great example? We’d love to hear about it.