Category Archives: Marketing

Ripen Your Referrals Before Serving Them Up

The other day I bought an avocado at the store.  I carefully selected one that looked fairly ripe as I was planning to eat it soon.  A few days later I cut that avocado open for dinner confident that it would be perfect with our Mexican dinner.

Alas, it was still hard inside, even though from the outside it looked fully ripe.  I went ahead and served half of it with our meal, but it was very unsatisfying and didn’t have the creamy taste or texture that we love.

Even if they look ripe on the outside, sometimes they aren't.

Even if they look ripe on the outside, sometimes they aren’t.

As I thought about it, I realized it was a lot like making a good referral.  We oh so carefully select the exact right person to refer.  Then, when the time is ripe, we pass along the name, the phone number and some info about the situation to our referral partner.   Because we have taken a little extra time and attention, we assume that the referral is perfect.

But sometimes, like my avocado, looks are deceiving and more time is required to fully ripen the referral. What can we do to help serve up ripe referrals every time?

  1. Make sure you understand the specific needs of the referee. Use basic interview skills to solicit their exact needs.  What? Where? and Why? questions are your best friends.
  2. Know the scope of your referral partner’s services or products.  One-to-ones and GAINS profiles can make all the difference here.
  3. Perform the referral introduction in person if at all possible.  Not only does that allow you to add credibility to your referral, it also gives you a chance to start the new referral relationship off on the right foot.  If you can’t do it in person, then perform introductions over the phone then send an email to both parties with contact info included.
  4. Lastly, follow-up with both parties within a week of giving the referral. This is your chance to ensure that your referral is ripe and tasty for everyone involved.

Follow these four simple tips for the ripest referrals possible and start serving up results!

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How do I Market to Women?

Online or in person, understand that women want to be engaged and informed.  They like having an opportunity to learn more about your product or services in a non-threatening and comfortable way.

Smart marketers listen when women are talking.

One of the best ways to engage women is to ask them relational questions.  By this I do not mean talking to them about their kids (or yours) or assuming that they are a Soccer Mom or that they even have kids.  Do not ask them when their husband will be joining them or in any way indicate that they are not the primary focus of your conversation.

Do not try to “game” the system and take shortcuts to establishing a relationship with women.  You have to expend the time to build the relationship.  One way to do that is to connect with women by supporting the causes they care about:  education, health care and community.  Above all, be sincere.  Women can see through insincerity quickly and will walk away instead of confronting it.

What’s the payoff?

If you connect with the right women, the rewards are vast.  A woman who loves your product or service will tell her friends.  And because women value relationships so highly, they frequently have a lot of friends.  But you have understand that she puts her personal relationships at risk to do this, so you need to acknowledge and even reward her trust in you and your company.

Learn to market to women today and your business will prosper and thrive over the next few decades as women control more of this country’s wealth and continue to make a disproportionate amount of the purchasing decisions.  Even better, you may find that your products and services  are much improved by establishing these long –term customer relationships with women.  That makes marketing to women a win for everyone.

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Selling to Women Isn’t About Telling Them What They Want

Many marketers think if they put bling on an item or advertise to the “harried soccer Mom” that they will cut a large swath through the female purchasing demographic.  In this day and age, that’s marketing at your own peril.  Women make up the majority of the consumer purchasers and marketers should look for ways to focus on specific segments and their needs instead of lumping all women into the “Mommy-sphere.”  Some of this marketing trend is the result of the influx of influential Mommy Bloggers, but while they are a legitimate and vocal part of the female demographic, they do not represent the majority of all women. Marketers need to remember that.

Women value relationships.

What do women want?

Quite simply, women value relationships.  They want to be treated like adults with brains.  They prefer to engage in a conversation instead of being lectured.  They like to create relationships with people they do business with and they want to feel like they can recommend the businesses they use to their friends and colleagues.

This is a paradigm shift for many men who are typically more transactional.  A good example of this is frequently seen at business networking events.  It is not unusual to be introduced to a businessman and have him hand you his card within the first 15 seconds of meeting you.  From his perspective he is simply being efficient and courteous.  If he happens to hand out his business card to people who have no interest in his goods or services, he thinks, “maybe they’ll hand it someone else.”

Conversely, you may stand and have a conversation with a businesswoman for 15 minutes before she asks if she can give you her card.  From her perspective, she doesn’t want to hand out her card to someone unless she wants to continue to build a relationship.  She’s being efficient and only handing her card to those with whom she wants to consider doing business.

For many salespeople this is an uncomfortable place to be.  They are trained to meet, greet and ask for the sale, all within 5 minutes.   Taking any longer means you might be missing out on the next sale.

A simple example comes from a client I was meeting with one day.  We were discussing the sales process he used when meeting with women and he said, “And then at the end I overcome all their objections.”  If you are a woman reading that, you just took a mental step backwards.  As a man, you may not have even noticed his faux pas.

Most women are looking for someone who will “answer their questions” not “overcome their objections”. They want to be an equal partner in the conversation, not be subjected to a sales pitch.  They also value sincerity and don’t like to be rushed.

The next time you are at a business networking event, take a few minutes to eavesdrop on some of the conversations going on around you. Listen to both same-sex groups and mixed sex groups talking and note how they behave differently.  And if you really want to market to women, spend some time actively listening to what they are saying before you ever open your mouth.

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Why Marketing to Women Pays Big

Here’s the thing.  Marketing to women isn’t complicated; it’s just different from marketing to men.  You can’t just slap the color pink on something and wait for women to come rushing in to buy it.  You actually have to understand how women want to be treated and then treat them that way.

Since it’s inception marketing has been heavily dominated by male-centric thinking and messaging. That may have been ok into the nineties, but in ensuing decades it has only served to alienate women from many brands.

Why does marketing directly to women matter?

“Women make 85% of all consumer purchases.”

From a purely financial perspective, it makes sense to listen carefully.  Women as a demographic are the largest group of decision makers in our economy.  According to She-conomy.com, women make 85 percent of all consumer purchases and over the next decade they will control two-thirds of consumer wealth in the United States.  If you weren’t paying attention to women before, you should be now!

This isn’t about men versus women; it’s about understanding both sexes in order to better deliver the value they both need.  Clearly if women are making 85 percent of the purchases, they are purchasing for men as well as themselves. That’s a lot of money to leave sitting on any table.

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The World’s Easiest Marketing Tactic-Part II

Six Simple Steps to Writing Perfect Thank You Notes

Like many things in life, we’ve become adept at creating excuses for not doing things.  With Thank You notes, it’s been elevated to an art form. Even though they are a proven marketing tool, I have heard everything from, “I don’t know what to write” to “I don’t have time.” Blame it on our Mothers for forcing us to write painful notes to relatives or on our proclivity to text instead of talk, whatever the case, there is no denying the effectiveness of a great Thank You note.

Here are Six Simple Steps to writing the perfect Thank You note every time:

Just do it! Writing thank you notes can take minutes but be worth thousands of dollars in marketing good will.

  1. Start with the correct spelling of a person’s first name.  Sounds simple, but no matter how good your message is, after a misspelled name it won’t be heard.
  2. State the occasion for which you are writing the note—“It was a pleasure meeting you at the Chamber mixer.” Or “I was in your store last week shopping for a gift.”
  3. Then state the reason for which you are writing the note—“I appreciated the information you shared with me.” Or perhaps “I was pleased to hear your feedback on my ideas.”
  4. Actually say “Thank you”, “I can’t thank you enough.” Or maybe “Thank you so much.”
  5. End with an appropriate closing. I prefer “Sincerely” but “Best regards” and “Respectfully yours” are also pleasant ways to end a note. I can’t think of a business situation where the closing “Love” is appropriate, save that for your family.
  6. If you are a close or long-time business associate of your thankee, sign just your first name and do not enclose a business card (but do make sure your full name is on the return address section of the envelope). If you are sending a note to a new acquaintance or contact, sign your full name and include a business card to help jog their memory.

Following these simple steps will help you quickly craft the perfect Thank You note every time and take some of the stress out of coming up with the right thing to say. Notes don’t have to be long, just three sentences can do the trick, but they do need to be heartfelt and sincere.  If you need extra motivation to begin writing Thank You notes, read last week’s Reasons to Write and get started today, your results will be worth it!


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The World’s Easiest Marketing Tactic-Part I

Reasons to Write

We know we should write them, we love getting them and they cost next to nothing, so why don’t more of us send out Thank You notes? I have heard everything from, “I don’t know what to write” to “My handwriting isn’t legible.”  But this simple little note could be the key to your referral success and be worth thousands of dollars a year, if not a month. Why would you leave that kind of money on the table?

Thank you notes come in all shapes and sizes. What matters is what you write on the inside.

Here are a few reasons I use Thank You notes:

  • Clients keep Thank You notes for years, often prominently displaying them on their desk or bulletin board—can you be any more top-of-mind than that?
  • For the cost of postage, a note card and five minutes of time I can cement a referral relationship that will generate income for months or years—referral partners know that I will treat their referrals with the same care and attention I give them.
  • Current customers who pay in a timely manner also receive thank you notes—this encourages them to pay quickly and improves our company’s cash flow.

If these reasons have motivated you to begin writing Thank You notes, congratulations!  Schedule an hour once a week and start capturing some of that money that’s been sitting on the table.  For those who need a little extra help getting started, stay tuned for next week’s Six Simple Steps to Writing Perfect Thank You Notes.

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