Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘clients

I want to believe you

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001clemens2Credibility. As a marketing professional, there are few things that are more valuable to me than the concept of credibility. Certainly, clients look to me for experience, skill, and ability to execute, but if they don’t believe I will behave in an honest, responsible way, then they would never hire me.

Conversely, they want to demonstrate credibility to their customers and clients. They want to position themselves as a company that you can believe in, trust, and want to do business with. If they don’t think that I have those qualities myself, then how can I effectively do the job for them?

If you’re just starting out in business, you don’t have a name for yourself. Once you start conducting business and building a track record, you start to become defined by your past actions.

How do you want to be perceived? Do you want people to question your judgement and actions? Or do you want people to trust and respect you?

A great deal is learned about an individual when you study their behavior when they think no one is watching them. How do they conduct themselves? If you have the opportunity to generate additional revenue through an underhanded tactic, would you even if you knew no one would catch you?

Last year, I had a shoot in which I needed to hire an actress. She was wonderful to work with and did a great job. Recently, I had an occasion where I needed the same actress again. From the first shoot, I had all of the actress’s contact information. I could have hired her directly at a lower rate by bypassing her manager. That would have netted us more profit, but it would have been the wrong thing to do. While it’s unlikely the manager would have discovered the situation, it doesn’t matter to me. If not for that manager originally, I would never have found the actress to begin with.

Do the right thing at all times. You’ll be surprised at how that will come back to reward you.

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Written by Jeff York

March 21, 2009 at 9:20 am

What do you want?

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megaphoneThere is an unfortunate saying in our business: “Just because we work in communications doesn’t mean there is communications.”

Imagine that. In the very field that we work in, we are less than expert in executing the practice ourselves. Given that, how can we expect our clients to provide us with clarity in their communications. We often get frustrated by the perceived lack of clarity in message from the client.

We are the experts here. It is up to us to spend time with the client to derive from them what exactly is the message and position they want to convey to their (potential) client base. That is something our company pledges to do for our customers first and foremost for every client on every project.

However, that doesn’t preclude you, the small business owner, from having to do some homework yourself. Good marketing firms will do anything they can to help you to fine tune your message. But you need to know what it is you hope to accomplish first. Are you looking to establish points of differentiation from your competition? Are you looking to build market share? Are you launching either your company or a new product/service offering? Most marketing firms will work diligently with you to help you to figure out what your goals can be as well as what the right message and medium would be. However, if you’re reading this blog, then I’m thinking that you are possible not in a financial position to simply turn over your entire marketing efforts over to another firm. Therefore, much of this homework falls on your, the owner, to figure out.

It is difficult to have a good objective view of your company when you are internal. This is why large companies often rely on focus groups to help them gain perspective. Given that you don’t have the budget to perform any kind of formal focus group, reach out to people that know your company the best: your customers. Ask them what they think of when they think of your company. What images come to mind. The important thing here is to allow them to respond in a way that supports openness and honesty. Give them an avenue to remain anonymous.

There is a danger here. By asking only your current (and/or past) customer base, you are restricting yourself to views from people that already know your company. Seek opportunities to ask beyond that universe. The effort to gain this additional information is greater, but so are the rewards.

Of course you’re important, but…

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8020ruleI’m sure you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule before. It’s been applied to so many things in so many ways. Here’s the context in which I’m exploring it this week.

You will spend 80 percent of your time on 20 percent of your clients.

Some people just need more handholding. Some people need more coaxing. Some people know they need help, but are unsure about getting off the fence and moving forward with a marketing campaign (for example).

I love those people in the same way that I love vegetables.

The bottom line is your bottom line. There are times in which we find ourselves in a place where we might have to pull back on the attention that we’ve been giving a client simply because they’re receiving too much of our resources. In the past, I’ve been with companies that have made the difficult and unfortuante decision to “fire a client.” It’s not a decision that we ever took lightly, but was forced on us if we wanted to be able to continue to grow.

I’d love to hear if you’ve been in this type of situation and had a successful outcome that we can all learn from. Was it simply a function of better educating a client and turning them into one of the better 80 percents or was there another method you used to rectify the situation?

Written by Jeff York

December 1, 2008 at 1:12 am

Are you the right customer for me?

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Much is made of marketing customers searching hard for the right marketing company to help them grow. As there is a huge number of marketing organizations out there, customers/businesses must work hard to vet each one to find that special organization that has a mix of experience and expertise to help them move ahead of their competitors and grow.

Internally to the marketing companies, sales representatives spend enormous amounts of effort prospecting, qualifying, and landing leads and turning those leads into clients. The future of a marketing company depends on the ability to generate new project work.

However, smart marketing companies take that extra time before pitching a client to ask themselves “Is this prospect a good fit for us?” We’ve all heard of the 80/20 rule. As it applies to this former Production Manager, it means that I had to spend 80% of my time holding the hand of 20% of our clients. This is a reflection of finding a client that’s smart enough to know that they need marketing to grow, but is somehow uncomfortable with the cost they are spending or perhaps they don’t fully understand the process. Or maybe their superiors are directing pressure on them for the same reasons. Innocently, these clients place a drag on the process by not trusting that the agency they hired isn’t working 100% in their best interests.

Or worse. A green sales rep at the marketing company signs a client whom believes they know marketing better than the agency. Maybe they think they know graphic design because they own a pencil or web development because their son used iWeb. In any event, endless rounds of changes ensue dragging the process to a halt and raising expenses on both sides of the equation.

The bottom line here is knowing the importance of spending time analyzing your ideal client profile and targeting potential clients that fit that spec which will pay you dividends in the long run.

Do you spend any time determining who your ideal customer might be? How do you turn away business that might not be a good fit, especially if times are tight? Do you have any strategies that you might be able to share?

Written by Jeff York

June 28, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Beware of your own success!

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Before embarking on a marketing campaign for your business, you have to have set defined goals for what you hope to achieve. Typically the broad idea is to generate new business and revenue for your company. This is obviously an excellent expectation, however with it comes a hidden danger. What happens if your marketing campaign is too successful? What happens if you have opened yourself up for so many new customers and clients that your current infrastructure can’t handle it all? What will you do then?

Before investigating new marketing strategies for your company with your marketing partners, make sure that you take the time to honestly evaluate your current ability to handle new business. If you suddenly get overloaded, new customers will see your business as unable to satisfy their needs. You can garner a bad reputation quickly and your best efforts at marketing will end up being your undoing.

It’s wise to have a set metric in mind so that you can best gauge if you are coming up short in your marketing efforts or if you are about to become overwhelmed. Hopefully, your marketing partners will have this conversation with you before the implementation of a campaign, but if they don’t, make sure to raise the idea yourself. They should be well prepared to scale back the campaign, or even put it on hold altogether, should you start to approach critical mass.

Clearly, this would be a great problem to have, but it is still a problem. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you started to become too successful? Do you have any horror stories you can share that we can all learn from?

Written by Jeff York

June 21, 2008 at 8:39 pm