“The way I think about culture is that modern humans have radically changed the way that they work and the way that they live. Companies need to change the way they manage and lead to match the way that modern humans actually work and live. We’re trying to re-craft culture in a way that really matches that. I think that 99% of companies are kind of stuck in the ‘90s when it comes to their culture.” – Brian Halligan, HubSpot CEO
“It takes humility to realize that we don’t know everything, not to rest on our laurels, and to know that we must keep learning and observing. If we don’t, we can be sure some startup will be there to take our place.” – Cher Wang, HTC CEO
“The thing that I learned early on is you really need to set goals in your life, both short-term and long-term, just like you do in business. Having that long-term goal will enable you to have a plan on how to achieve it. We apply these skills in business, yet when it comes to ourselves, we rarely apply them.” – Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Co. CEO
“Experience has taught me a few things. One is to listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper. The second is that you’re generally better off sticking with what you know. And the third, is that sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make.” – Donald Trump, The Trump Organization CEO
“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” – Drew Houston, Dropbox Co-founder & CEO
“In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.” – Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO
“The distance between number one and number two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you. That is a big lesson. I cannot just expect the organization to improve if I don’t improve myself and lift the organization, because that distance is a constant.” – Indra Nooyi, Chairperson and CEO, PepsiCo
“I try not to make any decisions that I’m not excited about.” – Jake Nickell, Threadless CEO
“There’s an entrepreneur right now, scared to death, making excuses, saying, ‘It’s not the right time just yet.’ There’s no such thing as a good time. I started an apparel-manufacturing business in the tech-boom years. I mean, come on. Get out of your garage and go take a chance and start you business.” – Kevin Plank, Under Armour CEO
“Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future.” – Larry Page, Google Inc. CEO
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs, Apple CEO
Demonstrate your product/service’s value
When it comes to convincing a reluctant customer to make a purchase, flowery, glowing praise for your product or service is only going to get you so far. To really get the customer on your side, show your customer how the thing you’re selling will make their life better. Whether it will save them money and time, give them peace of mind, or simply make them feel good, make sure your customer understands exactly how the item you’re selling benefits him in real, practical terms.
This is a common sales tactic. For instance, car dealers let customers go on test drives and guitar salesmen let customers play on their instruments – even department stores let customers try clothes on before they buy them. If the thing you’re selling is intangible or something you can’t let customers touch before buying, think of another way to show customers its value. For instance, if you’re selling solar panels, you might help customers estimate the savings they’ll have on their electricity bill.
An old saying goes, “Sell the benefit, not the product.” Focus on what your product or service allows your customer to do, rather than on the product itself.
Many companies need, from time to time, to re-enforce their brand and their products in the marketplace. Rewrite your existing print ads with direct-marketing techniques that get results. Take a look at all of your advertising as if you were a customer. Is it compelling? Does it persuade the customer to do business with your company? Use some of these direct-marketing techniques to improve response:
Create a powerful headline. The headline is the most important part of your ad. Its what stops the readers and gets them to read the rest of your ad or not. It doesn’t have to be funny, cute or clever. It does have to compel readers to read the ad and take action.
Write your ad copy to sell. Use your ad to tell readers how doing business with you will benefit them. Most companies talk about themselves more than they talk to their audience. People want to know whats in it for me. Make sure you tell them. Include testimonials to boost credibility.
Include a call to action. Tell them exactly what you want them to do: call today; visit our showroom; call for more information; order now. People need to be nudged in the right direction. The right call to action can dramatically improve the results of an ad.
Include a good offer. Give readers a reason to act now. Offer a percentage off, limited-time sale, free gift or valuable information. Be sure the offer has an expiration date so the reader doesn’t procrastinate. Effective ads give people a reason to act now.
One of the first platform trucks ever used was produced in 1915, and featured power for both horizontal and vertical movements. A predecessor made by the same company the year before required the lifting of the platform by cranking away on a huge handle that turned a geared wheel only one foot in diameter — making lifts of 500 pounds almost impossible unless you were a blacksmith or a weightlifter.
What a difference a year can make!
Host-beneficiary marketing is actually a simple and relatively inexpensive process that will deliver solid results if you follow a few basic rules:
1. Precisely define your target audience.
“Women 35 to 55″ might be a start, but it’s not enough. Create a detailed profile of your target customer. The more segments you can identify, the more potential hosts you can approach.
The women’s clothing boutique that marketed to BMW owners, for example, determined that their likely customers drove certain types of cars, patronized a certain class of hair salon, belonged to a health club, and were likely to play bridge. A birdseed store might come up with a list that includes consumers who shop at outdoor equipment outfitters or are affiliated with local conservation groups.
2. Identify local businesses that serve the same market segments.
That way, you can not only bring people in the door for your initial offer, but also increase the likelihood that they’ll return to give you repeat business.
For a cigar store, logical host partners might include better mens’ clothiers, upscale shoe stores, luxury car dealerships and country clubs. And don’t forget non-commercial organizations like Rotary or Kiwanis.
3. Develop a clear offer for each prospective partner.
Come up with a free or deeply discounted product or service that has a high perceived value for the consumer with a low dollar cost for you.
One new computer support business offered a voucher worth two free hours of computer repair to the small business clients of a local accountant. A jewelry store offered free jewelry cleaning to clients of a hair salon. A marketing consultant offered a free seminar on how to run sales to one local newspaper’s advertisers. A framing shop offered free photo framing to a photographic supply store’s top 200 customers.
4. Pitch the plan, highlighting the benefits to the host business.
Emphasize that it’s a way for the established business to reward their customers at no expense and with virtually no effort. It’s also a way to reach out to customers without overtly trying to make a new sale.
5. Supply a letter for the host’s use.
Providing a draft “offer” letter that can be sent to the host’s customers on the host’s letterhead will help put the plan into motion quickly. It will also show the partner how easy it will be for him to participate.
Some businesses will allow the letter to be inserted into their monthly invoices or newsletters at no cost to you. Others will charge or require that you pay for a separate mailing. It’s a small price to pay for access to the host business’ customer base.
6. Develop a strategy to convert redeemers to repeat customers.
This, after all, is your long-term goal. For the women’s boutique that gave away a kimono, the strategy was to encourage browsing and lure shoppers into dressing rooms to try the merchandise. For one new bakery that gave away a chocolate éclair, the approach was to hand out a buy-five-get-one-free VIP card with the free pastry.
Whatever the specific plan, the host-beneficiary method is the single most effective way to quickly attract a critical mass of qualified customers to a new business. Instead of beating the bushes for customers with individual referrals or scattershot ads, you can tap into a targeted group of consumers en masse to jumpstart sales.
Best of all, you’re piggybacking on the success of another entrepreneur who has spent years building a solid customer base. In many ways, this eliminates the need to reinvent the wheel. For a start-up facing so many other challenges, it’s just smart business.