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Identifying Your Ideal Client Profile for Business Growth

Tampa Bay marketing firm

Does it matter who your customers are? As long as there are plenty of people clamoring for your products or services, that’s got to be fantastic, right? Actually, the ideal customers are only those that best allow you or your company to meet its true objective.

True objective … that’s the key thing here. Let’s be honest; for some (or most), the number one goal is making money. For others, charities for instance, the goal may be to improve people’s lives. A few others may want to educate or increase public awareness of important issues. Whatever the objective, the idea is to maximize the frequency and quantity of its attainment with the least possible expenditure of resources. And as we all come to realize at a certain point, some customers are just not worth the effort to keep.

It’s a matter or opportunity cost. The time/effort/money that you devote for one client represents time/effort/money that you could not provide to another. It’s ROI: some customers are going to be better investments than others. Of course, the tricky part is making sure you actually have a more profitable client waiting in the wings if you begin doubting the worth of the customer you do have. After all, the customer who provides some profitable reward for your work is better than not having any reward at all. You will want to identify who your “best” customers are and then steadily transition your client base to one more closely resembling the ideal client profile.

So what makes a good client? In general, here are three key characteristics:

  • They will truly benefit from your products or services. While this may seem obvious, many business owners take the attitude of “If they’re buying, we’re selling!” The problem with this approach is that the customer can’t ever be satisfied. You’ll expend a lot of resources trying to make them happy (with a square peg for a round hole) before you or they give just give up. Then you get to live with them sharing their negative assessments of your organization to anyone who will listen.
  • They won’t require exceptions to your rules. Understand, we’re not talking about value-added service, or going the extra mile to make a customer happy. Those are business differentiators that promote customer loyalty and deliver great word-of-mouth advertising. Rather, what you must avoid is agreeing to provide a level of service to one client that you offer to no one else (i.e. outside your normal service area, hours of business, billing process … etc.). The increase in gross income probably won’t adequately compensate for the disruption to established procedures or morale.
  • They represent the opportunity for repeat business. It’s always more profitable to serve existing customers than try to get news ones. Therefore, target your marketing to prospects who will stay with you for years rather than those who are more apt to be “one and done.”

The bottom line is that you want customers who make you feel good about what you do; clients who let you work with a spring in your step rather than beating you up over every penny’s worth of service. So, how do you get more of the good ones, and fewer of the less desirable sort? That’s where the profile comes in. The good news is that you’re already familiar with it.

Simply take some time to review your current and former client lists. Or if you focus on retail customers who come and go without a lot of personal interaction, sit down with employees who deal with them on a daily basis. Start identifying those that meet the criteria of a good customer as listed above – those that fit culturally with the work you want to do and are profitable. What demographic characteristics do they have in common? Are they mostly from a particular industry or similar industries? Are they of a certain size or business maturity? Are they driven to your business by a common need that other, less desirable customers don’t seem to share as much? Write down everything you come up with. That will be the profile you want!

Once you have an idea of what your ideal client is like, then you can start building marketing campaigns that target those individuals specifically. Over time, you should find you that you’ve successfully negotiated the “out-with-the-bad, in-with-the-good” maneuver.

 

Tampa Bay public relations

How to Leave an Effective Voicemail Message

How to leave an effective voice mail message
When trying to reach someone, having to leave a voicemail (VM) message can be very frustrating. The exercise is especially tiresome if you’re in sales—leaving message after message with little hope of a callback. Pessimistically you go through the motions; repeating words you’ve said countless times before.

Whether your goal is the exchange of goods or services for cash, pitching a PR story, trying to line up investors or hoping for a job interview, a defeatist attitude isn’t going to help you make the most of your opportunity. Realize—in a cold-call situation—this is your one shot at making a good first impression. And even if you’re performing a ‘follow-up call,’ the fact that VM seems like a hurdle means you obviously haven’t established much of a relationship. You want to sound like someone the person hearing your VM will want to know!

Focus on the Purpose of Your Call

One of the first things anyone who receives an unexpected phone call wonders is “Why is this person calling me?” We quickly want to know if it’s good news, bad news, something important, a conversation to be enjoyed … or a waste of time. And since we’ve all answered thousands of phone calls during our lifetimes, we become efficient at quickly categorizing a caller’s purpose. If it’s painfully apparent you’re leaving a VM only because you’re trying to sell something—or worse, just because it’s your job (and you hate it)—a bad vibe will come through.

Your purpose needs to be letting the VM recipient know how you can improve his or her situation or provide a valuable benefit. Mentally set aside your sales quotas, or the fact that you just lost your biggest client and you desperately need a replacement. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What could a salesperson in your line of work do for you that would lead you to return his or her call? Once you have a tangible mission of doing something good for a fellow human, you’re ready to think about what you’ll actually say.

Organizing Your Message

Your voicemail composition should contain these elements, more or less in this order:

  • Identify yourself – Who’s calling is the first thing that people want to know, so don’t frustrate them by not immediately saying who you are and what organization you represent. (Delayed identification may also seem a little shady—as though you have something to hide.) Example: “Hello, contact name, my name is John Smith and I’m with Acme Roadrunner Control.” If you’re calling on behalf of yourself, such as seeking employment, go ahead and make that a part of your introduction. “Hello, contact name, I’m Jane Jones. I’m calling as a follow up to the resume I sent you.”
  • Give your phone number – There are a couple of reasons to go ahead and leave your phone number here. First, you create a sense of urgency that calling back is important. Of greater importance, however, it’s more convenient for contacts not to have to listen to your entire message again if they need to “rewind” in order to write your number down.
  • Mention the benefit you’ll provide and how you’ll provide it – Remember our earlier exercise of having a purpose for calling? This is where that comes into play, but be brief. Imagine you’re cold calling for a lawn care company. You might say, “We’re in the business of turning lawns into showcases for homes, and right now, we’re offering a special bi-weekly maintenance discount. (If it’s not a discount or special offer, try referencing the specific product or service that’s applicable.)
  • Say why you’re calling this person specifically – One example would be, “I’m calling because you recently indicated an interest in our services/products and the benefits we provide,” as in they filled out a business reply postcard or completed an online survey. If your call is completely out of the blue as far as your contact is concerned, you could explain, “We’re reaching out to you as someone our research has shown often benefits from our services/products.” Even better is dropping the name of a mutual connection who made a referral (I always return those calls.) The point is to establish legitimacy for your call.
  • Sum up and close – Thank your contact for listening to your message, then invite them to call you back. Leave your phone number again for emphasis and in case your first recitation was hard to understand. Your conversational exit might be: “Thank you for taking the time to listen to my message. I look forward to speaking to you, in person, at your earliest convenience, so my number again is … Have a great day!”

Sound upbeat, yet natural when you leave your message. (Remember, you’re trying to do something good for this person!) Be as brief as possible but don’t rush. Taking time to speak clearly lets your contact know what you’re saying is important and worth hearing. Finally, never forget that there will be a real human being listening to your call, and no matter how many times a day you leave a voicemail, each of those individuals will only hear one, so make it good!

Tampa Bay public relations

Writing a Compelling Biography

Writing a good biography

If it hasn’t already happened—don’t be surprised one day to have someone ask you for your bio (e.g. short biography). Employers often want them for the “About Us” or “Our Professionals” sections of their web sites. Bios may be needed for a press release announcing an important new hire. Meeting planners ask for bios of important guests or speakers at conventions and conferences. If you have your vital information on hand and ready to go at a moment’s notice, you’ll earn the sincere appreciation of a lot of people … and may save yourself some embarrassment.

You see, people very rarely write their own bios. Composition is usually left to a marketing professional. Often authors know nothing more about their subjects than a few scraps of provided information. And ‘scraps’ is an accurate description. It’s not unusual for copywriters facing a fast-approaching deadline to cobble something together from a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook page and—if they’re lucky—a hopelessly out-of-date resume. If you want your story told straight (and in a pleasing manner) give your biographer something good to work with.

Key Information

There are different types of bios (technically, an obituary is a bio) but most are going to be career-related, so that’s what we’ll discuss here. To make your story interesting, the writer will want to create a compelling narrative. Much of the needed information will be simple facts, but portions may be based on your feelings. Here’s a list of potential ingredients:

  • Full name
  • Current title where you work
  • Birthdate
  • Place of birth
  • College degrees
  • Professional certifications and organizations (officeholder?)
  • Awards and honors
  • Serious hobbies and charitable work
  • Names of immediate family members
  • List of employers (with dates), titles and primary responsibilities, and notable accomplishments
  • Your ‘claim to fame’ (in what aspect or aspects of your profession do you specialize)
  • What motivated you to enter your line of work
  • Career goals—immediate and long-term

Not everything on this list is likely to be included in any particular bio. If it’s going to be one of many in a document or on a website, having uniformity in length, design and content will be an important concern for the composer. Items like hobbies and family member names, therefore, are usually the first things to be cut. There may be a ‘lowest common denominator’ effect as well, where if one person is missing a relatively unimportant bullet, that same bit of information may be deleted from everyone’s bio. Still, it’s always better to have the option of including any of these points of interest. If you provide this information, any competent copywriter or journalist should be able to construct a tidy narrative of your career.

Writing Your Own Bio

There’s a saying that if you want something done right, do it yourself. If you have confidence in your writing skills, have at it. After all, no one knows you as well as you know yourself.  Just remember, you will want to tell a story—in about 200 – 300 words—that will be interesting to your audience. Here’s how:

Introduce the hero – Give us your name and title up front so we know who to ‘root’ for. Then let us the readers know about your special skills and abilities that you’re going to demonstrate over and over again.

What’s your backstory? – How were you drawn to your line of work? What was your inspiration? This might be a good place to work in your educational background if you attended a school that specializes in preparing students for work in your chosen career field.

Tell us about your journey – How did you become the successful person you are today? List the places you worked (provide dates and titles as reference points) and share your professional victories at every stop, concluding with your current position. Include mention of any awards or certifications that are relevant.

Hint at a sequel – Wrap up with your aspirations for the future.

Whether you write your own story, or see the task delegated to another person, you will want a composition that’s both accurate and truly worthy of you. Taking a few moments ahead of time to list the most important moments and factors in your professional development, will be your best guarantee of having a bio that you’re happy to share with anyone.

 

Tampa Bay public relations

Do You Have Your ‘Elevator Speech’ Ready?

Tampa Bay marketing firmYou and a stranger are standing in a hotel lobby waiting for an elevator. He has the appearance of a fine, upstanding chap and you’re in an affable mood so you comment on what a nice day it is. He’s welcoming of conversation. Additional pleasantries ensue, followed by introductions and the customary handshake. The elevator finally arrives and just as you and your new friend step inside, he asks about your business.

It’s time for the ‘elevator speech.’

Of course, this is a very literal exposition on phrase; it can take place practically anywhere. The elevator speech is brief (the time it takes to take a typical elevator ride), to the point, and delivered in a casual, conversational way. It’s the friendly alternative to a dull recitation of your organization’s vital statistics or suggesting someone visit your company’s website.

An elevator speech shouldn’t be confused with company ‘boilerplate’ that commonly appears as a paragraph at the end of a press release. The purpose of PR boilerplate is to identify your business—where it’s located, when was it founded, what it sells—and to let people know where to get more information. An elevator speech, on the other hand, informs the audience why an organization is worth getting to know in the first place.

Elevator Speeches Can Pave the Way for Future Sales

We’ve all seen the stereotypical sales rep in movies and TV shows—annoying people who never miss an opportunity to launch their pitch. Doubtlessly such behavior in real life would be a colossal turn-off. As annoying as such salespeople would be, however, they are correct in realizing chance encounters might possibly bear fruit as a sale.  A nicely crafted elevator speech gently plants the seed.

You simply never know what doors new acquaintances might open—either as a buyer or as a potential referral. And when people ask you about your business, they’ve given you permission to ‘promote,’ so take advantage.

But what if you’re a dentist, a CPA or some other professional or highly skilled service provider operating a small business? People are already familiar with those occupations, so how much of an elevator speech could these professionals need? The answer is “just as much as any other company.” There may be a lot of other folks in your line of work, but there’s only one business that depends on your skills and unique expertise. Here’s your chance to differentiate your operation from your competition.

Tell Your Company’s Story in 30 Seconds or Less

It’s time now to sit down at your computer (or pen and paper if you’re decidedly old school). The goal will be to tell a story, and do so in about 75 words or less. As with most stories, there are three essential parts:

  • Introduction – Identify your business and its general purpose.
  • Body –  Describe your typical customers’ needs or challenges
  • Conclusion –  Close with how your business benefits your customers.

Example: I own Big Mike’s Express IT. We set up computer networks, provide disaster backup systems, monitor hardware and software for problems as well as other related services. Our clients are mostly local small-to-midsize businesses. They need fairly robust information technology but lack the in-house resources to manage their own systems. Basically, we solve our clients’ IT problems so they can concentrate on what they do best.

Your value proposition should play prominently in your elevator speech—so your audience understands how your business benefits your customers. Be aware, however, that honesty is THE fundamental element in a good elevator story. If you believe what you are saying, your listener will be more likely to believe it as well. Sincerity comes through.

Finally, let’s say you’ve carefully distilled, refined, crafted and edited your words to deliver maximum impact in the least possible amount of time. You don’t want it to sound rehearsed. Read through your elevator speech a couple of times, then set it aside and try to repeat it aloud. The idea isn’t to recite it word-for-word; in fact, that’s exactly what you don’t want to do. Your delivery should sound natural. As long as you hit your main points and deliver them in the right order, you’re prepared to help your business make a good (and memorable) first impression.

For some additional takes on elevator speeches, you may want to check out the following articles:

Tampa Bay public relations

Marketing as a New Year’s Resolution

marketing new year's resolutions tampa bay marketing florida advertising agency

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to grow your business? To do more marketing? To be more strategic? To work smarter, not harder? You’re not alone! Each year, our phones start ringing on January 2nd with clients ready to start off strong.

If you need support to refresh your brand, launch that new web site, generate new content, shoot new videos, design new marketing collateral, build relationships with the media, or just to keep you on track – we’re here for you. Let’s set up a meeting and discuss your resolutions!

Be More Awesome in 2016!