B2B Marketing

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fresh experiences on marketing topics for the B2B enterprises and more

Learn to love negative feedback

Here are three things you have to know about negative feedback and customer complaints.

1.       Customers usually want less than you think.

2.       Customers who have never had a problem are not as loyal as customers who have had a problem that was successfully resolved.

3.       Customers who take the time to complain want to make things better.

The best way – and cheapest way – to resolve customer complaints is to directly ask the customer how to set things right. This is preferable to making them an offer, as they will usually want less than they would settle for in a negotiation.

Customers who have never had a problem are not as loyal as customers who have had a problem that was successfully resolved. Nothing is perfect; they all know errors are bound to happen. But the quality of the service is reflected by the way you are able to respond to these challenges.

This is so important that it almost makes it worth creating problems on purpose, just so you can fix them afterwards. If everything is delivered on schedule, how would the customer discover that you are insistent that the customer’s needs be fully and fairly met? You have to have a problem, so you can fix it, in order to demonstrate your sincerity about delivering a quality product and service.

The problem is, that no mater how obvious this is, a large number of customer complaints are still poorly handled. The reason for this is fear – fear that the customer is trying to rip you off; fear that someone will have to take the blame and that someone might be you.

Employees often think that their job is to protect the company from the customer. Plus, they often believe that negative feedback is a sign of failure instead of an opportunity to grow. Accepting and even requesting negative feedback is a strategy the top management should implement. More than that, they should demonstrate this is for the good of the business and encourage employees to step out of the box to resolve a customer complaint.

Four Steps to Service Recovery

1.       Establish rapport. Let the customer know up front that you are on their side.

2.       Discover the Problem. Ask them to describe the problem exactly.

3.       Offer a complete solution. Ask the customer what they think is right. Agree and up the ante to prove that you are serious.

4.       Cement the relationship. Apologize again and tell what will be done to prevent a reoccurrence.

     It all sums up to doing whatever it takes to make things right whenever they go wrong.

If a customer complains, he is simply asking you to help them remain loyal. They want to continue to do business with you. If this wasn’t the case, they wouldn’t take the time to complain in the first place. Instead, they would simply turn to your competitors. Customers who complain are giving you a chance to set things right. Complaints are opportunities that you have probably overlooked.

People who take the time to give you negative feedback chose the hard way to solve their problems. They overcame possible issues like rude treatment from the manager, or staff treats them poorly. It would be a lot easier for them to just leave and make sure they tell everyone they know about how badly you treated them.

Keep in mind that negative feedback is a way of improving your business, as it brings new ideas of development and growth.

Filed under: Best Practices, Marketing Results, Marketing Tactics, Strategy

How to generate sales – 7 low-cost marketing tips

Here are 7 low-cost but highly effective marketing tips to help any small business find customers and generate sales quickly.

1. Advertise at your own level

Don’t spend your budget on high cost advertising. Big businesses do so to create brand recognition, and future sales. The difference is that SMBs need sales now. One way to accomplish this is to always include an offer in your advertising – and an easy way for prospective customers to respond to it.

2. Keep your offer flexible

Some buyers are only interested in acquiring products from SMBs because of the lower rates. These consumers are more interested in the price of the product, rather then its quality. This means they might not be willing to pay the asking price. You can avoid losing sales to many of these customers by offering a smaller or stripped down version of your product or service at a lower price.

3. Create more versions of your product

Not all customers are looking for a cheap price. Many are willing to pay a higher price to get a premium product or service. You can boost your average size sale and your total revenue by offering a more comprehensive product or service, or by combining several products or services in a special premium package offer for a higher price.

4. Try some “out-of-the-box” marketing methods

Look for some unconventional marketing methods your competitors are overlooking. You may discover some highly profitable ways to generate sales and avoid competition. For example, a small ad on a postcard can drive a high volume of traffic to your website or generate a flood of sales leads for a very small cost.

5. Use smaller ads

Reduce the size of your ads so you can run more ads for the same cost. You may even be surprised to find that some of your short ads generate a better response than their longer versions.

6. Promote yourself using another SMB

Contact some non-competing small businesses serving customers in your market. Offer to publicize their products or services to your customers in exchange for their publicizing your services to their customers. This usually produces a large number of sales for a very low cost.

 

7. Your customers, your free advertising team

Your customers already know and trust you. It’s easier to get more business from them than to get any business from somebody who never bought from you. Keep them by creating some special deals just for them, or announce new products and services to them before you announce them to the general market.

Also, convert your customers into publicity agents for your business. An endorsement from them is more effective than any amount of advertising – and it is much cheaper.

Each of these 7 marketing tips provides a simple, low-cost way for any small business to find customers and generate sales quickly.

Filed under: Best Practices, Business-to-Business, how to, Marketing Results, Strategy

9 steps to a successful direct mailing campaign

It has become common knowledge that the success of a direct mail campaign can be broken down into three primary components:

· The mailing list or target audience

· The offer or incentive for the customer to buy the product

· The creative package or communication message conveyed in the overall package

Experts in the field of direct mail have even established the ratio in which these elements affect the success of the campaign:

· 40% is driven by the mailing list,

· 40% by the offer,

· 20% from the creative package.

This is all true from a big picture point of view. But when going into details, you have 9 key strategic factors to consider:

The List

Knowing the customer or decision maker for your product/service is instrumental in developing a successful direct mail campaign.

No matter what criteria you use to organize your mailing list, it is critical to understand your intended buyer/customer and select a mailing list within an appropriate and useful target audience.

The Offer

Every direct communication should include an offer or incentive for the customer to buy your product/service. A general rule is that money tends to produce the best results. But be careful, you don’t want to give away too much – a lucrative offer such as 50% off might generate a wonderful response rate, but it might be an expensive proposition.

Message & Copy (Creative Package – part 1)

What is your product? What are its benefits? Why does your audience need it? Where does the reader sign up, and by when? These are examples of the critical messages that need to be clear, concise, and even repeated several times in your communications. If your readers are confused, they will not buy.

When developing copy, assume your reader has a short attention span. It is best to use short sentences, bullet points and headlines that can be read quickly. Finally, while grammar is important, your English teacher is not grading your letter. Feel free to take creative license.

Format & Graphics (Creative Package – part 2)

Using different type styles such as bold, underline and ALL CAPITAL letters can be used to draw your reader’s eye to key messages. Headlines and/or changes in font sizes can do the same thing. However, be judicious in your use of these techniques, as over use will lessen the impact.

Consider highlighting your offer, call to action, and response date, while using headlines as an opportunity to state benefit messages throughout your communication piece.

Call to Action

The bottom line with any direct mail piece is to generate action or sales. You have to be very clear as to the action you want the recipient of the message to do. Do you want your prospect to fill out an application or do you want them to call for more information?

Testing Multiple Variables

The greatest benefit of using direct mailing is the fact it generates immediate response. The results can easily be measured, but the problem is you can’t tell which of the elements you used attracted the client, and determined the positive response.

As a result, consider creating “test cells” by mixing key variables of your campaign. For example, divide your mailing list into four parts and send:

Offer A with Copy X to 25%

Offer B with Copy X to 25%

Offer A with Copy Z to 25%

Offer B with Copy Z to 25%

Multi-Wave Mailings

Another testing opportunity is mailing a 2nd and possibly even 3rd letter to the same person approximately 1-4 weeks apart.

A general rule of advertising is that people do not really see and/or internally comprehend a marketing message the first time around. Using this rule of thumb, it might take your target market 2-3 “viewings” to open, comprehend and internalize your message enough to buy your product/service.

Creating Tracking Measures

Establishing accurate measurement tools such as promotion codes and/or coupons cannot be overlooked when designing your direct mail campaign.

For example, if you are selling newsletter subscriptions, ask your customer to mention the coupon or read a promotion code when they sign up. Keep track each time a customer mentions or reads the code so that you can be sure they were responding to your letter, versus signing up on their own.

Financial Success

The financial success for a campaign can be measured in many ways, for example Cost per new accounts (CPA) and return on investment (ROI). To calculate a CPA, take your total program expenses and divide by the number of new accounts acquired. A simple ROI equation takes the total program expense minus the additional money generated as a direct result of the campaign.

Direct mail can be a very important element of your marketing mix. When used correctly it allows for high target market selectivity, personalization, testing, and most importantly, it enables you to measure results. So, take the time to consider the details of a successful campaign.

Filed under: Best Practices, Business-to-Business, e-mail marketing, Marketing Accountability, Marketing Results, , , , , , , , ,

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