Make Your Advertising Words Count By Using Bottom-Line Benefits at the Top

I get dozens of marketing pieces in both my mailbox and email box on a daily basis. I’m betting that you get more than your share, too. How do you sort through it?

Most of us only read the headline and take a quick glance at the photo on direct mail pieces – using less than five seconds of our attention to decide if we are interested to know more about this product or service. LESS THAN FIVE SECONDS! The same is true for a radio ad and television spot, too.  Our ears are finely tuned to discern an ad spot from a news spot. We as consumers are inundated with new offers every day. The novelty of direct mail and other advertising venues has worn off. The sheer volume of promotions being pushed at us is overwhelming.

Use your five seconds wisely by

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The Art of Asking for Referrals

Last week I received an email inquiry from a woman named Donna. She told me she was having miserable luck getting referrals from her clients and ask, “What am I doing wrong?”

After a few email exchanges to determine how she was approaching clients, I was a bit stunned to learn the way Donna was going about it. In a nutshell, she would send her clients thank you notes and include about a dozen of her business cards, asking them to hand them out to others who might need her services.

Yikes!

Now, let me first say that the thank you note is a great idea. But the sincerity of appreciation is kind of kicked to the curb by asking the client for something in return. At the very minimum, when asking for referrals

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Profitable Email Marketing Tactics for Offline Businesses

We print it on our business cards and stationery.

We give it out to (almost) anyone who asks for it.

We conduct research and gather valuable information with it.

We rely on it for communication with associates, friends and family.

“It” is e-mail. And there’s no denying that e-mail is as common of a communication tool as telephones — maybe even moreso. Regardless of whether or not you have a Web site, if you are NOT using e-mail marketing for your products and services, you are ignoring a very low cost (and often no cost!) marketing tactic with high-return (and profit) potential. Why not squeeze every ounce of communicative powers e-mail has when dealing with clients and customers?

How? By using this easy four-step process:

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Get Great Business Advice for FREE

I often receive e-mails from business owners asking for advice in marketing, publicity, finance and operations management. Unfortunately, most of the advice I give has to be in fairly general terms because in order to give advice that will benefit each specific business, I would need to fully understand the dynamics of each individual situation, industry, demographic, opportunity, etc. This would take more time than I have to give without having to start charging for it. However, many small business owners and entrepreneurs – both online and offline – overlook one of the best ways to get FREE advice for their businesses . . .

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Harness the Power of Positive Vacationing

It’s June. Have you made vacation plans?  If you haven’t, you’re not alone. Self-employed professionals and small business owners are notorious for delaying vacation time. You might escape to the golf course for a half day or take a three day weekend to attend a wedding, but a full-blown pack-your-bags-and-get-out-of-town-for-a-week-or-two vacation is tougher to justify.

Most of us find ourselves in the typical entrepreneurial Catch-22. If business is on the upswing, you’re working long hours to meet deadlines and keep customers happy. If business is shaky, you spend as many or more hours just trying to find new solutions to bring business up. Yet, whether you are struggling to revive a sluggish bottom line or trying to keep up with an unplanned surge of customer demands, you need to take a step back, reassess your challenges and make room for the solutions to come to you instead of you trying to find them.

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Quick Tip: Follow Your Customer’s Lead

“It’s easier to ride a horse in the direction it’s going.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Abe was probably talking about leadership, but the above quote is excellent advice for marketers. Go in the direction your customers want to go, and it will be an easier sell. In other words, make sure the marketing you do for your products and services reflect what your customers want, not what you want them to have. Marketing based on convincing someone he or she “should” have something is less effective than marketing focused on what your customers are already convinced they want. If you’re struggling with a SHOULD marketing strategy, heed Honest Abe’s advice: “ride a horse in the direction it’s going.”

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Survive the Economy by Reading Between the Numbers

Every day I turn on the news, it seems there is another report about some company ready to lay off thousands of their workers. While it may not be the worst times there ever were, there’s no denying that the economy is throwing some tough challenges our way to keep our businesses going. Big business, small business — no one is exempt.

I’ve recently received an increasing number of emails from micro business owners and independents sharing the many fears that come with such economic uncertainty. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to survive the downturn, a good place to start is to “read between the numbers.”

How?

We are all quick to notice that the economy is affecting profits. Yet, it’s important to

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Quick Tip: Shower Power

If most of your best ideas seem to come to you while you’re in the shower but appear to have gone down the drain when you try to recall them later, try this: keep a grease pencil in the shower area so you can write ideas or key phrases on the shower stall walls. (But be sure to clean up after you’ve transferred those ideas to paper!)

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Quick Tip: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

If you have people who can’t serve customers because they are doing other tasks (i.e. making calls, tracking orders, preparing a bank deposit, etc.), arrange for them to perform those duties somewhere else. It’s frustrating for customers to approach an employee who is not willing to wait on them, or to be told to find someone else who will. You spend a lot of time and money to get people into your store. Make sure your “customer first” philosophy meets their expectations.

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Make Your Business Work Like Magic

I’ve been fascinated by magic and magicians since I was little. A successful magician can reach behind my ear, say “abracadabra” and – voila – pull out a quarter. Or with focused concentration, and two taps of a wand, a rabbit comes out of a top hat that was previously proven empty. On a bigger scale, a successful magician can drape a silk cape over a caged tiger and with a grand gesture and the flip of a wrist – poof – the cape falls to the ground and the caged tiger has disappeared.

I love that stuff. It’s amazing. It’s magic.

But it wasn’t until I tried to learn a few simple magic tricks myself that I discovered the key to such effortless success. It didn’t come from the words being uttered, or the brand of top hat being used, or the type of cape being flung … those are just the props and tools of the trade. The success of the magic comes from 

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