Doing Nothing Is Not An Option

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been meeting a lot of new contacts and in many of my conversations, I’ve heard them admitting they’re not doing a great job of marketing. “I know I need to do more, but I just don’t have time.” Or “I’m not sure what to do. I mean, I know direct mail doesn’t work and advertising is so expensive…”

Hold on there, friend. Your reasons for not marketing is you don’t know what to do and don’t have time?! You know you’re essentially saying “I don’t have time to get new clients or keep the ones I have and it’s really not important enough to figure out.” I hope you’re not planning to be in business for a long time and you like working at fast food joints.

Two things need to happen quickly if your business is to survive. One, you need to make consistent and effective marketing a priority, stat. And two, you may need to hire some help.

That help can take on several forms, depending on you and your business. Outsourcing has become a politically charged word lately, but it really just means to “obtain goods or services from an outside supplier in place of an internal source.”

Marketing is an opportunity to have fun and get creative! (It took me a while to figure out not everyone thinks that statement is true.) If you don’t agree because that’s not how your brain works, you need to engage the services of a marketing expert who can help you create a plan of action. We’re not talking about putting a Madison Avenue agency on retainer. You need someone who lives, loves and breathes marketing, knows what works well, and is excited about drawing up a simple strategy for you to implement easily. And that might be all you need – get some great ideas, knowledge about how and a schedule for when to execute them.

Ideas and plans are FAN-tastic! But if you don’t get around to using them, they don’t do anything for you. If that’s where you fall down, then recognize that and find someone with a done-for-you program. Hand over the reins and let someone with more time and a better system go to work on your behalf. That way the marketing is getting done, relationships are being cultivated and nurtured, and you’re free to go on attending to providing the service your clients expect.

Interested in learning more about how easy it can be to keep more clients for longer? Schedule a free 15-minute strategy consultation with me during August and let’s figure out the best way to build super-strong relationships with your clients. Check http://tungle.me/zenrabbit for available time-slots.

I would never do that

Incongruent: containing disparate or discordant elements or parts. Synonyms include conflicting, contradictory, contrary, incompatible, inconsistent. None of these are words you would want associated with your marketing. Yet the word incongruent is what came to mind when I was thinking about my recent car-buying experience.

2012 Genesis Coupe

My new car, a 2012 Genesis Coupe

I’d submitted an online form expressing my interest in a particular car. That prompted a barrage of emails and phone calls from several area dealerships. Not to bash car dealers; I think they get enough of that, but from a marketing standpoint, wow, I saw some room for simple improvement. Sure, you might think “I would never do that!” Still, there are lessons here for you no matter what your business.

First point of contact

The first email or phone call sets the tone for the rest of our relationship. One guy called me and was very friendly. He engaged me in a conversation and I had a good feeling about him until he said something to the effect of “girls don’t usually like the manual transmission” or something like that. I called him on it and he backpedaled. The damage was done. In a later conversation he told me there were no cars in the model I wanted with a manual transmission in a 400-mile radius. He had checked for me. Apparently he didn’t do a very good job of checking because I found one to test drive 30 miles away. If you’ve already guessed I didn’t buy from him, bonus points to you! The one thing I will give this guy is that he, more than most of them, was persistent in his follow up.

Other sales people called me and started out with “I saw you’re interested in this car. When do you want to come in?” Hey guys (all but one was a guy), a little foreplay might be to your advantage. How about asking for more details about what specifically I want and why.

Then, after a conversation, I’d get an email. Clearly I’d been entered into a database and sent a generic email. Several of them from different dealerships said, “I haven’t been able to reach you by phone…” Wha???

Or I got emails from three different people at the same dealership with, “my name is… I got your inquiry and am eager to help you.” And a couple of, “I’m the manager and so and so is the sales person with whom you can speak…” and the person the sales manager or GM put in his email is not the same as the one who sent me an email two hours ago. Incongruent marketing!

Make sure the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. Get everyone in your business on the same page so you don’t look foolish and give the impression no one there knows what they’re doing.

Provide requested info
When I was finally ready to buy, (from submitting that online form to purchase was 44 days), I sent out an email to about 10 area dealerships clearly outlining what I wanted and asking for their best price. Only half of them answered and one of those tried selling me something different. The salesperson where I’d test-driven the car didn’t ever respond. In fact, he never even followed up with me after I walked out his door. I’d told him I loved the car, but that particular one wasn’t the right color. Major missed opportunity for him.

If someone is asking you for information, it usually means they want to buy. Answer their questions and the probability you will make a sale, get a client and start a long-term relationship goes up tremendously!

Make me want it more
How can you create an eagerness to buy now or help your client see herself owning or using whatever it is you’re providing? One of the things the sales person from whom I bought the car did that I thought was brilliant was he took a couple of pictures of “my” car in his lot and texted them to me with the message line “your car.” This was smart for two reasons. One, he was cementing ownership of this vehicle in my mind. Two, he was confirming to me that he actually had the car in the color I wanted (because most of the other dealerships did not have it on their lot). And three, he was building the relationship, creating a higher level of comfort, since we hadn’t met in person yet. I asked him about this tactic and he says he uses it especially when he’s doing internet transactions because people need visuals.

Give your customers the ability to see and feel and get comfortable with all the qualities of your product or service. Help them imagine what it’s like to use and own or implement what you’re selling. Give them the ability to “own” it before they actually buy and your job of selling is done.

12+ Things You Can Do to Share the Zen Rabbit Love

You’ve heard the recommendation before that you should always ask for what you need. “Ask and you shall receive.” This is not a new concept. But I was made aware of a big, cool way to do this the other day and I jumped right on the opportunity. Perhaps it will benefit you too, if you implement.

The idea comes from Jeff Hayzlett, via Bill & Steve Harrison’s Reporter Connection if I’m remembering correctly how I found it. Jeff is the Chief Marketing Officer for Kodak and he wrote a book called “The Mirror Test.” Of course he wanted to see it become a best seller. In order to help other people help him (oh, geez, that Jerry Maguire quote just popped into my head!), he posted a page on his web site with suggestions of how to make “The Mirror Test” a best seller. Click here to see his web page and list.

Genius that I am at swiping and deploying good ideas, I immediately wrote up my own list. Want to help Zen Rabbit share the gratitude with 100,00 people in the next 12 months? Step right up, or should I say, click right over, and read my own list.

Then take some action. First, rush to do as many things off the Zen Rabbit list as you can to help. Next, create your own list, post it on your web site and then blog about how you got the idea from me.

For Entrepreneurs Who Can’t Do Everything

The Best Laid (Marketing) Plans

Hello, I know it’s the middle of June. So what if I’m just getting around to writing my marketing plan now. Hey, some businesses don’t ever write one. Actually, between April and June is the best time for me to put together Zen Rabbit’s marketing plan because the end of the year will never work for this business.

Despite my continual attempts to dissuade people from sending gifts to clients and referral sources in December – because they just get lost in the deluge and no one remembers who sent what – December and November continue to be Zen Rabbit’s busiest months. Instead of beating myself up for not fitting in the creation of a marketing plan for that time of year, I decided to do it in the spring.

I’m particularly excited about some of the new elements I’m including this year. And I’m thinking if I mention them here, then you can help hold me to actually implementing them. So here’s a bit of a preview:

Look for a couple of video posts here each month. As much as I love broadcasting, I’m surprised at myself for not doing more before now.

It’s been a couple of years, but I’m re-establishing a monthly ezine. Expect something completely different this time.

We’ll also be creating special Facebook Fan promotions (maybe something having to do with National Milk Chocolate Day next month). Go to our Facebook “fan page” (yes, I know they’re not called fan pages anymore, but how else do you really refer to them?) and click LIKE to get in on those.

Oh, and if you have a blog you need a guest writer for or an audience that could benefit from hearing ideas on how to better serve their customers, let’s get that on the schedule too.   Um, just as soon as I can get to the calendar.

Update on Shine A Light

Sad news, at least for me. Zen Rabbit was not chosen by the judges as a Shine A Light finalist. There were thousands of entries and I have no idea how the judges waded through them all to get to their final decisions.

While I am a bit disappointed, because YES, I truly did believe Zen Rabbit had as good or better a chance at becoming a finalist as anyone else, I am honored to have been nominated and to have such an amazing and supportive network of people who endorsed my nomination! This is just one step in the continual process of building a business.

Thanks to everyone who partipated. Stay tuned, I’m sure something else is just over the horizon.

PS: If you want to see the companies that were chosen as finalists, visit http://shinealight.ivillage.com/nominees/

Shine A Light: Inspiring Small Business

So exciting! Zen Rabbit has been nominated for an opportunity to win $100,000 in grant and marketing support from American Express, in partnership with NBC Universal.
Endorse Zen Rabbit's nomination for Shine A Light contest
In order for Zen Rabbit to be eligible to become a Shine a Light finalist, we need your help in the form of an endorsement by September 13, 2009.

If you are so inclined, and you haven’t already, here’s what you need to do to endorse:

Go to this page: http://tinyurl.com/nyfnef

First you have to REGISTER at top right corner of the page. (Remember to scroll down/read the Program Rules & click on “I Accept Terms”.)

After you click SUBMIT, come BACK to Zen Rabbit’s page either through this link http://tinyurl.com/nyfnef or by going to the NOMINEES page and putting Zen Rabbit in the search/go box at top of page there. Click on ENDORSE NOW and you’re done!

Yes, I know it’s somewhat involved and not so user-friendly. So I REALLY appreciate your time and effort to support me! Once we win, celebrations will include Cookies & Crunch for all!

Also, if you’re so inclined, tweet and post on Facebook & LinkedIn to help spread the word and garner more endorsements.

THANK YOU!!!