Market research can be simple

Are you running your business in blind mode? Do you know where your clients are, what they want and how they behave? Are your marketing tactics based on a hit and miss approach?

Market research has a direct link with the success of your marketing, communication and client experience with your company.  Without knowledge, you are running your business in blind mode. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and  it’s quite easy to obtain much of your research through relationships, reports, analytics and online tools.

Find your “real” customers

Many businesses fail because they enter a market without prior knowledge of who might actually want their product or service. Without knowing your true customer, you won’t be able to craft your marketing messages to entice users to conduct business with you. It’s important to spend the time to develop an image of your true customer down to the finest detail (age, sex, location, income, etc) so that you may best connect with these customers on their level.

Ascertain what your customers really want

A common mistake made by small businesses is that they assume everyone is just as excited as they are about their wonderful wizz bang product. Even with the best intentions, businesses will introduce products and services that are unneeded by those within the market which often results in business failure. Always find what a market demands and needs before you enter it, and and satisfy their wants and desires through both your behaviour and the solution you offer.

Use the right marketing platforms

When conducting your research, identify the platforms across the communication mix that best suits the way your customers are likely to absorb the information. Businesses often copy the methods used by their competitors with the assumption that their competitors have done their homework. Wrong! Everyone is equally lazy, copy each other and often are all missing the target collectively. Targeting is not just about understanding who may need your product, but in matching your business philosophy, sales approach and personality to the people you WANT to do business with. Understanding the importance of marketing research will help you guide your team to find hidden and untapped marketing platforms with very little competition but with a very high return on investment.

Planning for the future

Those businesses who probe further into their market will find trends that will help them determine success drivers for future planning, and let you catch the wave before your competitors. Conduct research before, during and after you enter a business niche, as this will help you overcome barriers before they become huge issues, build relationships whilst conducting business in real time, and predict future needs.

More on these topics coming up! If you can’t wait, ask us.


  • A simple approach to SWOT analysis
  • Identify clear market gaps
  • Include research in your sales cycle
  • Everyone in your business is a researcher
  • Database marketing & research go hand in hand
  • Using the right research tools

Let us know how you have used market research to better interact with your clients and improve relationships.

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OnJanuary 6, 2011, posted in: General, Market Research by

Importance of database marketing

Are you with one of the seven out of 10 businesses missing out on the most cost effective, easiest way to generate sales?

In over 20 years in marketing and sales it never ceases to amaze me how many businesses are sitting on a gold mine of information about their clients but don’t use this information to acquire leads, sales or referrals. Nearly every business I speak to has at least some info on their clients sitting in some sort of repository, yet this is not used, or perceived as “too hard” to do anything about.

Those that do have so called databases have minimal information that has no value in terms of being able to target clients, let alone when they are ready to make a buying decision.

Unfortunately, database marketing is often perceived as compiling a list of contact names and addresses in order to send clients annoying monthly emails or newsletters, often with boring tell, tell, tell messages or me, me, me business information.

Having a database is pointless unless you use it wisely.The key to effective database marketing is to categorise your database by suspects, prospects and clients, communicate and interact with your clients in a personal manner, create top of mind awareness so that when they are ready to make a buying decision it is YOUR company they think of first.

It’s not about sending spam. It’s about having the RIGHT knowledge about your clients, communicating with the RIGHT message, at the RIGHT time when they are ready to make a decision, and with the RIGHT solution that will satisfy a need that is important at that moment in time.

It’s not about volume, but about relevance.You don’t need to record huge amounts of data, employ lots of IT people to maintain it or purchase high end software. You can do it yourself with some careful thought and planning, start small and build your database slowly through tools you may already have on your computer. In fact, my advice is that you DO start small, improve your knowledge over time, and DON’T purchase expensive software tools if you haven’t yet got to grips with who you are targetting and the profile of your client’s buying behaviour.

There is more business and referrals waiting for you from the people who are your customers. You can reach them and bring them back through advertising and publicity, or you can maintain a database and bring them back personally.

Grow your database in incremental steps. Maintain your database as an ongoing effort and see it as an evolutionary process. Is the information you collect now all you require, or do you believe that you can tweak and add?

You can often build you database with current resources. There are many database strategies you can implement, together with affordable business tools to improve client interaction, generate referrals and improve lead generation. Don’t be taken in by smooth sales pitches to purchase sophisticated software. Very often your current Microsoft Excel, Outlook and CRM tools are ample to start the process until such time as you are ready to grow your database into a more sophisticated client diagnostic tool.

Never let a viable prospect go. You spent time and money through networking, good customer service, advertising and website development to get prospective customers to your door. Don’t waste that money and time. Establish a communication stream to keep in contact until they are ready to make a buying decision or referral.

Targetting improves success. Send offers to a correctly targeted subsection of your database rather than to the whole list. Less . . . is MORE. You might sacrifice a few potential sales, but you’ll benefit by the fact you improve the longevity of your database.

The individuals on your database will only accept so much being marketed to. Overkill means they unsubscribe – literally or emotionally – by deleting or throwing out communications. People are wary of signing up because of email overload and past experience with irrelevant communications.

If you have stories of your own on how you have used database marketing to improve sales effectiveness please let us know!

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OnJanuary 6, 2011, posted in: Database Marketing, General by

Brand persuasion

Attracting, retaining and expanding relationships with customers has never been more challenging, which implies that the marketers of today need to be smarter than ever before.

Consumers have become very brand savvy & more critical of poor branding. They are brand aware through a diverse media environment, which places huge importance on the ability of your business to develop accurate, relevant & effective branding.

A persuasive brand should think outside “just being creative for the sake of being creative”, and focus on articulating & communicating the expected client experience your client will have with your company.

The big challenge is to steer through the plethora of media opportunities whilst meeting your bottom line goals. Identify what is most relevant to YOUR target market, focus on a clear direction, and set goals that meet both client and business needs. Your brand strategy forms an integral part of your communication mix and should have touch across both internal and external communications.

It’s about persuading . . . not telling

The traditional approach is not sufficient in today’s evolving market. The average consumer in New Zealand and Australia is exposed to viewing over 1600 advertisements a day. So, how many of the hundreds of advertisements you were exposed to can you actually recall?

The traditional approach may give you 3-5 of the 1600 advertisements which implies that your chances of even reaching your customer are remote at best, and the chances of recalling your ad even worse. In order to reach people you will need to ensure that you understand what persuades your market, and exploit these persuasion elements in every brand building exercise.

You need to highlight the link between what you are offering and what your consumers will be persuaded by.

Common principles in human persuasion

  • Reward is the most positive persuader
  • Threat can change perceptions & behaviour
  • Social proof . . . people like to do as others do
  • Expertise . . . persuades through trust and credibility
  • Scarcity . . . often has more value than abundance
  • Liking . . . feel good factors always win

Share your stories with us on which of these factors have worked for your business.

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OnJanuary 6, 2011, posted in: Branding, General by

Don’t be too eager to close the sale

Try and not be too eager to close the deal, and listen to what your client needs. You can’t offer a solution until you have identified the problem and ALSO clarified the needs. And you cannot move ahead in the sales process until the prospect has agreed that the problem is REAL and that they are ready to do something about it.

To overcome resistance you need to fully understand what THEIR issues are, and therefore don’t make assumptions. Ask open ended questions to get the client to speak openly . . . and ask close ended questions to clarify needs and identify issues.

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OnDecember 30, 2010, posted in: Client engagement, General by

Make a good first impression on your customer

Make a good first impression and catch the attention of your client through a good opening statement or headline as 80% of your sales success depends on this. This should be crafted with utmost care, and should be used in ANY marketing or sales situation, whether face-to-face, through direct mail, advertising, on the telephone, media articles and on your website.

What you say is going to determine whether your prospect listens carefully to what follows, yawns or shuts the door in your face. Also, most resistance is covert, as a smiley face doesn’t mean “yes I’m interested”. You may not get a second chance, and if you do you may have to claw your way back up the decision making hierarchy.

As it is with personal relationships . . . first impressions count!

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OnDecember 30, 2010, posted in: Client engagement, General by

Keep your clients engaged

There is plethora of information relating to sales approaches and techniques, some of which may not apply to your business situation. However, the tips that best apply across the board relate to building one on one relationships, making use of direct response techniques and using database marketing to enhance your effectiveness.

A good sales strategy should help you find clients, approach clients, keep them engaged during the sales process, and get them to take action. A key ingredient is that each step of the client engagement process should encourage the client to WANT to know more.

The steps apply equally well to current clients or new business clients. The most important advice I can give you in the marketing or client engagement process applies to the SO WHAT factor. If you make a statement that encourages a “so what” response then you haven’t gotten to the base reason why a client would want to talk to you.

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OnDecember 30, 2010, posted in: Client engagement, General by

A blend of push/pull marketing tactics

Successful marketing campaigns use a blend of both PUSH dynamics (business you pursue) and PULL dynamics (business you attract), and successful sales campaigns include a blend of offensive and defensive selling initiatives. Offensive selling pursues new business while defensive selling is protects and grows existing business. Value added salespeople invest sales time in both strategies.

VA selling respects account retention in equal measure to acquiring new market share, and companies whose sales and marketing efforts are directed only at acquiring new business suffer from a “pipeline-itis.” They pursue new business while ignoring the most viable source of new business—existing customers and referrals from existing customers. These companies have revolving doors on the fronts and backs of their buildings. They end up focusing on new business because they must replace the business they have lost by not looking after their current customers.

Characteristics for added value selling

  • Added value selling is more than a cliche
  • A 3-dimensional approach to selling
  • A blend of push/pull marketing tactics
  • Think strategically, sell tactically
  • Be an order maker, not an order taker
  • Extract mutual value from the relationship
  • Promise a lot, deliver more

Core beliefs towards value added selling

  • Trust is the currency of great relationships
  • People want to give as good as they get
  • Define value on your customer’s terms, not yours
  • Make a difference, not a deal

I’ll be expanding on these topics over the coming months, but if you can’t wait, by all means contact me on which topic you would like to know more about.

If you have stories of your own on how you used these strategies to improve your sales effectiveness please let us know!

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OnDecember 30, 2010, posted in: General, Selling by

A 3-dimensional approach to selling

Value add salespeople always assume that the sale is NOT generic, and sell on the product, the company AND themselves. This 3D approach means that the same product from the same company can look like 2 different solutions when sold by 2 different sales people. Therefore, with VAS there can be no generic sale, as no people are the same. Which means the differentiation of your product, & the decision to buy from your company, rests with the sales person and his unique relationship with the client.

Research has shown that 37% of the value that customers receive comes from the salespeople with whom they deal.

Value added salespeople don’t make sales calls . . . they go on job interviews with customers.They ask customers to hire them as their personal representative with the supplier’s company.

Characteristics for added value selling

  • Added value selling is more than a cliche
  • A 3-dimensional approach to selling
  • A blend of push/pull marketing tactics
  • Think strategically, sell tactically
  • Be an order maker, not an order taker
  • Extract mutual value from the relationship
  • Promise a lot, deliver more

Core beliefs towards value added selling

  • Trust is the currency of great relationships
  • People want to give as good as they get
  • Define value on your customer’s terms, not yours
  • Make a difference, not a deal

I’ll be expanding on these topics over the coming months, but if you can’t wait, by all means contact me on which topic you would like to know more about.

If you have stories of your own on how you used the 3D approach to selling please let us know!

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OnDecember 30, 2010, posted in: General, Selling by

Value added selling is more than a cliché

The phrase “we give added value” seems to be the latest buzz phrase, but when asked “what do you mean” most business owners or employees have no idea how to articulate added value to their clients. Most companies think this means price, or giving a discount, or offering good service. Value added selling is more than a cliché or fad as a marketing theme. It is a philosophy, a process. It’s strategic and it’s tactical.

Value Added Selling is a mindset, an attitude and a paradigm embedded in your psyche and should be demonstrated daily in your behaviour with your customers and in how they experience your brand. It’s about putting yourself in the shoes of your clients, attention to detail and most of all . . . listening.

Do you have the characteristics that determine whether you are truly adding value . . . or do you just pay lip service to the phrase?

Characteristics for added value selling

  • Added value selling is more than a cliche
  • A 3-dimensional approach to selling
  • A blend of push/pull marketing tactics
  • Think strategically, sell tactically
  • Be an order maker, not an order taker
  • Extract mutual value from the relationship
  • Promise a lot, deliver more

Core beliefs towards value added selling

  • Trust is the currency of great relationships
  • People want to give as good as they get
  • Define value on your customer’s terms, not yours
  • Make a difference, not a deal

I’ll be expanding on these topics over the coming months, but if you can’t wait, by all means contact me on which topic you would like to know more about.

If you have stories of your own on how you used these strategies to improve your sales effectiveness please let us know!

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OnDecember 30, 2010, posted in: General, Selling by

Over meet client expectations

The concept of value-added selling has been a popular one for a number of years. There was a time, not so long ago that when you paid a premium price to stay in 5 star hotel , you received a chocolate on your pillow, had the sheets turned down, exceptional service and a concierge at your beck and call. If you stayed in a 3 star hotel you didn’t receive these benefits.

Now, if you stay in a 3 star hotel you often DO receive these services. This means that the gap between a 3 star and 5 star hotel may no longer be that clear. this raises client expectations as to what they perceive as “added value.” They now expect to pay less . . . for more.

This poses a challenge in today’s market where so many products and services are viewed as a commodity, and the ability to add value to your product or service is an absolute necessity. There is no doubt that in the absence of value-added components virtually any product or service can be driven down to the most bottom line – price.

The problem? When you are only selling on price you’ll never be able to sell any degree of high margin sales which is where profitability, long term growth and sales success resides.

People often argue that their product is special or different and can stand alone.  Don’t believe it! If you have competitors who offer similar products, then the ONLY way your customers will differentiate you, will be on added value – NOT PRICE.

Anyone can add value, and make it specific to the person, the product or the company. It’s about over meeting client expectations. Go one notch higher every time.

Characteristics for added value selling

  • Added value selling is more than a cliche
  • A 3-dimensional approach to selling
  • A blend of push/pull marketing tactics
  • Think strategically, sell tactically
  • Be an order maker, not an order taker
  • Extract mutual value from the relationship
  • Promise a lot, deliver more

Core beliefs towards value added selling

  • Trust is the currency of great relationships
  • People want to give as good as they get
  • Define value on your customer’s terms, not yours
  • Make a difference, not a deal

I’ll be expanding on these topics over the coming months, but if you can’t wait, by all means contact me on which topic you would like to know more about.

If you have stories of your own on how you over meet client expectations we’d love to hear from you.

read more
OnDecember 30, 2010, posted in: General, Selling by