Free Pig With Your Next Purchase

The sixth rule of attraction is “Give information away without selling.” I found this article on ABC TV’s web site which I think takes the spirit of giving just a bit too far!

‘Free pig with every property sold’
A housing developer in Britain is offering a live pig as a pet to anyone who purchases a property from him.
A spokeswoman says the unusual offer from developer Jeremy Paxton has already attracted two buyers to the Lower Mill estate in Gloucestershire, south-western England.
The rare Gloucester old spot pig will be fully house-trained before it is delivered to its new family.
Those who do not fancy getting trotter marks on their carpets can opt to have their pig kept on a farm and turned into pork chops or rashers of bacon.
“It will make a change from having a Labrador,” the spokeswoman said.

Let’s face it, giving something away can be a good way to motivate prospects to try our solution. But it is important that our premium is relevant, valuable and in good taste. The above example surely fails this test.

We need to create a marketing contact system which includes a premium that allows our customers and prospects to easily understand how we might meet their needs. Not every prospect is ready to buy when they receive our material. This is why it is important for us to have a system that ensures we will continue to influence the prospect in the future. I don’t mean bug them but rather create interest, give them something valuable, get them on our list, and stay in touch.

It also helps the selling process to flow in a smoother and more effective fashion. Marketing systems give our sales people the tools they need to capture our company’s passion and expertise. These tools can include audio tapes, videos, CDs, reports, white papers, etc. With powerful sales tools, even the weakest link in your sales staff can be far more productive. In short, a systemized approach helps us to move our clients through the “Marketing Cycle.”

Step 1: Create Interest
This is where we can develop the interest of our customers by acknowledging their problems, empathizing with them, asking questions that bear on their need, and suggesting some action that reverses their risk. Forms of communication can vary from brochures, web sites, mailers, email notices, faxes, print ads, radio, outdoor ads, and others. 

Step 2: Give Something Away
This is where we offer a sample or valuable information to the customer that will help them to experience the product benefits or learn about how they can solve their problems on their own. It also opens their minds to possible solutions that they themselves haven’t thought of before. 

Step 3: Get Them on Your List
This gives us the ability to maintain contact with the prospect on a continuing basis. In this way we can build rapport as well as educate the customer. In order to effectively launch an information-based marketing program, we must craft a NO cost, NO risk, HIGH benefit offer that provides prospects with an incentive to sign-up with you. 

Step 4: Stay In Touch
In this step we must plan to consistently stay in touch with our prospect base. This involves providing information to our prospects on a regular basis. This could be monthly, weekly or even daily. The information must NOT be sales oriented. It must offer very clear benefits that are customized specifically for the target audience.

Following the “Marketing Cycle” gives you the ability to automate a system whereby the moment someone even EXPRESSES mild interest in your product or service, they receive information that instead of being aimed at selling them is designed to leverage their curiosity? Then, based on their area of interest they get more information and perhaps free samples? And all of this is done taking THEIR interest at heart. 

That’s better than a pig in a poke anyday!

Four Keys to Effective Marketing Communication

In our business update last week we looked at how product re-engineering is at the heart of marketing. This week I want to focus on the communication aspects after we do re-engineer our product or service. Below I have outlined the four simple keys to effective marketing communication.

1. Communicate the Benefits
It is difficult for customers today to determine how your product or service is differs from your competition in terms of benefits. This creates a big problem in understanding and application. Therefore your marketing goal needs to be to clearly show how you provide uniquely different benefits. Stop talking about the features and capabilities of your product or service. Customers are interested in the end result. Instead of talking about WHAT your product will do, talk about the results that the customer can expect. This restores the consumer’s trust and confidence and gives them a reason to buy.2. Refine the Articulation
This is where we use communication tools to refine the articulation of the message. What will be our “exclusive claims?” What specific evidence will we use? How will we build conviction? How will we position the solution so that the client or prospect has no other logical or emotional choice but to select us over the competition?3. Use Repetition
Repetition is the mother of learning. Successful marketing campaigns are well-thought out programs that are executed with timing and precision. Therefore selecting the right media and the ways in which the message will be communicated is so critical. Systematically getting our message out in front of prospects and clients allows us to plant the seed and water it.4. Be Consistent
A consistent marketing message is critical to building brand recognition, top-of-the-mind-awareness and all of the other psychological factors which are necessary to persuade someone to choose YOU. Assuming we do have something remarkable and worth recommending we must find a way to encourage our partners and stakeholders to communicate this consistently.To all of my clients, subscribers, listeners and class members have a blessed and happy holiday season. I look forward to a great new year with exciting challenges and rewards for all of us.

Focus on the Problem

“Ding dong,” chimed the doorbell, so I ran to open the door. I was shocked to see a vampire, witch, and football player all standing on my doorstep. Creepy music blared in the background, with muffled screams audible under the sounds of creaking doors, howling wolves, and the song “Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett.

“Trick or treat!” came the cry from the costumed children.

I threw some candy in their bags, and off they went.

This is a cycle that is repeated time and time again on Halloween. Wouldn’t it be nice if getting business was that simple? Imagine if we could waltz into a prospects office and say the “magic phrase” and they would hand over the business like candy. Unfortunately in the real world competing effectively involves more than simply asking for the business. In fact the more we chase customers around, the further they seem to retreat. Yet what if there were a way to “attract” customers without chasing them?

It is for this reason that we have developed our “14 rules of attraction.” Last week we sent out a brief overview that listed all 14 rules. This week we will examine one of them in more detail. 

Rule number 3, The problem is more important than the solution.

Too often marketers make broad assumptions when communicating their message to clients. This happens in both the selling interaction (face-to-face and on the phone) as well as the marketing interaction (with ads, brochures and web sites.) This is a natural tendency since as marketers we know far more about our products and services than our customers. In many cases we may know what the customer needs more than they do themselves. The danger, however, is that customers don’t care about the benefits and solutions that our company offers. Let me repeat that: CUSTOMERS DON’T CARE ABOUT OUR BENEFITS AND SOLUTIONS!

I can imagine people everywhere are reading this right now saying that I’m crazy. Traditional sales and marketing methods teach that we should elaborate on our features and benefits, and prospects will see how they can be helped by our solutions, and they will logically decide to buy. This assumption is the root of why most sales and marketing attempts fall on deaf ears. First off people today make buying decisions more emotionally than ever before. Our prospects and customers care FAR more about their problems than they ever will about our solutions! 

It is important that we speak to our prospects and customers in terms of their problems! By doing so, they become comfortable with our solutions, not based on logic, but based on their emotional reaction to the fact that we actually have taken the time to understand their problems. The solutions we offer then become the natural choice to help solve those problems.

This is why it is important that we focus on the problem, instead of on the solution. How do we do this? We have developed a four step method for creating a problem mindset, that you can use to speak intelligently with your prospects and customers about their problems.

Step one:
Identify the major problems your prospects and customers are facing. Put yourself in their shoes. Brainstorm with your colleagues. Even better, ask some of your existing clientele what THEIR problems are. Chances are there are many prospects just like them.

Step two:
Figure out what exclusive or unique solutions to these problems you offer. Why is what you do different enough from your competitors to make it the only solution to the problems you’ve identified? How can you use this knowledge to develop marketing language that speaks in terms of the problems that you have identified?

Step three:
Analyze the problems and your solutions to find what you can do that reverses the risk of using your company to solve their problems. Reducing their risk will be your ace in the hole when it comes to presenting a solution once you have made your prospects realize that you understand their problems.

Step four:
Find some evidence you can offer that shows that your exclusive solution actually works. Once you have shown a prospect that you understand their problem, that you have an exclusive solution, and that there is little to no risk in using your solution, your evidence will build credibility for all of the claims you’ve made. Use testimonials, examples, demonstrations- any form of evidence you can to back up all of your claims. 

Whether you are talking to prospects in the selling role or preparing marketing material that will be used to create attraction, I encourage you to go out and find some problems that your prospects are facing. Focus on these problems when you prepare your message. This is as close as a marketer can come to saying “Trick or Treat” in the business world.

Special news to our Southern California Readers!
Listen for the Small Business Tip of the Day on 97.1 FM KLSX, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during the 8 O’clock hour of the Conway and Steckler show. If you’re out of the listening area, we will soon be posting these segments on our website for everyone to enjoy. And if any of you are planning on attending the FM Talk Financial Fest on November 13th, please stop by and say hi to Matt and Myself. Have a great week! I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email 

Mark Deo

Experiential Branding

I thought I’d take a moment to talk about branding from a different perspective. That is “experiential” branding. Branding must be more than just making sure your clients recognize your logo or tag line. A brand should make a bold statement or take a stand. We must create an emotional association with our brand. This could be a feeling of success, happiness, or relief which our clients experience when they own or use our product or service. This can be a direct experience or an indirect experience.

Direct Experience
An example of a direct experience would be a brand which is created when someone eats at a restaurant or takes a test drive in an automobile. Their “experience” directly influences how they feel about the product or service. This is why many marketers communicate their brand in the form of samples or in trying to deliver at least part of the solution to clients or prospects before they even make the decision to buy. It allows the client to lower their risk in changing vendors by “experiencing” your product or service without making a major investment of time or money. For example, software companies often do this with trial programs. Consumer products such as cleaning solutions, magazines and even snack foods do this by sending free sample in the mail which will hopefully communicate a positive brand experience. But imagine if gardeners did this by landscaping one small corner of an office complex or if real estate brokerages and agents did this when showing at open houses. What could be the results?

Indirect Experience
On the other hand “indirect experience” is much harder to convey in the form of branding. By it’s sheer nature it requires the client or prospect to make an investment. In many cases it requires that they purchase the product or service in order to experience the brand. For example, Budweiser sponsors sporting events to encourage viewers to associate Budweiser products with the fun and excitement of the sport. Companies also create slogans (“American Express: Don’t Leave Home Without It,” or “Built Ford Tough”) and use them everywhere. TV commercials, magazine ads, and billboards are all indirect messaging. But this form of branding needs repeated exposure – conventional advertising wisdom says that a message isn’t effective until the customer has received it at least 10 times. This can be too costly a method of branding particularly for the smaller business. In order to make this type of branding more effective we must focus on narrowing our marketplace.

Obviously direct experience branding is far more powerful and cost effective than indirect experience branding. Certainly a combination of tactics is most critical. In short I would encourage every marketer to think about ways that they can create a positive branding message both in the direct experience the customer has in engaging with their product or service or indirectly, the message they receive through the company’s marketing and advertising.

For more information on how to do this in your own business, check out our program on branding in the 21st Century. You can see more information on this program by going to:
Also I have written many free articles on branding. Here are links to a few:
I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email

Have a great week!

Event Marketing

Regardless of the type of business you have, event marketing is an effective way to build client loyalty and maintain top-of-the-mind awareness. Event marketing creates excitement around your company, products or services by creating something out-of-the-ordinary that entices people to think about you. More than simply encouraging people to make purchases you are educating customers and prospects alike. Sponsoring these types of activities allows us to leverage Attraction Rule #4: “Give information away without selling.”

The tips below can help you create memorable, profitable events:

Demonstrate expertise
Create events that take advantage of the expertise of you and the people on your team. The idea is to educate your customers about a particular subject while reinforcing the image that your company is the place to go to for expert advice and products on this subject. For example, a home decor store can sponsor a workshop on creating window treatments. The demonstration provides instruction about the design trends, while emphasizing that the store’s staff understands these trends and the store’s inventory includes all the latest products you need to accomplish the task.
Influence rather than sell
I recommend focusing your events on educating, influencing, and inspiring attendees. Teach them something new and valuable. The more practical and usable the skill is the better. For example, I know several financial consultants that have had tremendous success doing financial seminars. It’s more about winning their hearts than simply getting people to make a purchase. The event itself should not include a hard sell component, but everyone who attends should know how to purchase what they need. If you hold workshops or other classes, offer handouts that list relevant information and how they can order the products or sign-up for the services. Consider offering attendees discounts or other incentives to encourage to get started at the seminar.

Involve customers
Get customers interested in events by stimulating the senses. Let people touch, try, see, hear, and smell. Showing how to use a new set of knives? Don’t just put a person at a chopping block – have him cook up an Asian stir-fry that smells, tastes, and sounds delicious. Use a PA system so everyone around can hear what is being said. Demonstrating fly-fishing equipment? Involve customers with a small “fishing derby” and a contest for catching the biggest fish or tying the nicest fly. Having a local band come in to sign its latest CD? Set up a small stage and have a short concert before the signing. It’s good for the musicians, the customers, and you!

Work with your suppliers
When you hold an event, you may not have to go it alone. Talk with your top suppliers or business partners about co-sponsoring an event. This can take many forms – a clothing store can have a special designer trunk sale; a photographer can have a special “clean your camera” day with service reps from a particular camera maker. In some cases, co-sponsorship will also include increased co-op advertising funds or other supplier incentives. Speak with your suppliers to find out how and if you can qualify for these programs. 

Don’t hold events in a vacuum. Advertise and promote them to drive traffic to your store and build additional excitement around your events. Promote them with your current customers, on your web site and to friends and family. I even recommend sending some announcements to your vendors. Alert local media to get listings in “events” columns or other mentions. Send postcards to your mailing lists. Mention events in your ads. For example, a bookstore can put a list of upcoming readings or book signings in its customer newsletter, while arranging pre-reading profiles of the featured authors in the local arts press. 

Mark Deo Event
I try to take my own advice and implement what I recommend for others. With that in mind, if you want to learn more about this form of marketing attraction I’d like to invite you to attend a FREE event. It’s our Dale Carnegie Sales Advantage Reunion and Refresher and it’s happening on February 7th in Long Beach California.

If you’re like me you really love it when you run into a fellow DCSA (Dale Carnegie Sales Advantage) graduate. It reminds you of all the great things you learned in the class and how motivating it was seeing your fellow class members achieving their goals (not to mention your own). Well you will have that opportunity again very soon. Because at the suggestion of a one of our graduates we will be sponsoring a FREE Sales Advantage Reunion and Refresher! 

The reunion will be a time of sharing our successes, networking, and sharpening our skills. We will even learn some new sales and marketing strategies. I plan to do a summary of our Cold Call Seminar. I will also be previewing the Breakthrough Communications and the Winning Sales Presentations Class. In addition, I will introduce my new, “Attract More Business Marketing Program.” Matt and I will also be doing the most hilarious sales talk presentation you’ve ever seen. So come join us and bring a friend. 

Sales Advantage Reunion and Refresher
Date: Monday, February 7, 2005 
Time: 6:06PM 
Place: Dale Carnegie Classroom – 2525 Cherry Avenue, Suite 106 Long Beach, CA 90755 
Cost: FREE, Zippo, Nada, Zilch! (Just bring your good attitude.) 

Door Prizes: 
1. Scholarship to an upcoming Dale Carnegie Cold Call Seminar 
2. The 150 page Attract More Business Program including 9 CDs and Tele-Coaching Session 
3. Enrollment in one of our upcoming Tele-Classes 

RSVP: Reply to this email or call Dale Carnegie Training to RSVP at 562-427-1040 by February 2 (Confirm your attendance with Keva Williams at extension 202.) 

My very best to you and I look forward to seeing all of you there!

Have a great week!
I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email 

Mark Deo
Print this article.


Evangelical marketing might sound like some new religious recruitment scheme but what we are really talking about is finding ways to educate, influence, and inspire those in our network. There are three different aspects to evangelical marketing:

1. Informational marketing
2. Collaborative programs 
3. Buzz marketing

Informational Marketing

Most often informational marketing takes the form of eBooks or eZines as they are called. It can also be streaming audio or video, free samples, or trial versions. Informational marketing is revolutionizing the world of online publishing because anyone can easily publish and distribute their content in an electronic format. An example of informational marketing is the “Business Update” that you are now reading. 

There are a myriad of uses for informational marketing and they have some distinct advantages over printed medium or typical brochures or advertising. Informational Marketing (as opposed to traditional, interrupt marketing) is the process of marketing information to a niche market, which provides a solution or solves a need of that market. The information, then, helps you to create a relationship with those clients, where they give your permission to tell them about your product or service (Opt-In). 

Information marketing is the key to success on the internet as well as the brick and mortar world, for one main reason: The number one people get on the web is find information, not to buy a product! Some examples of the uses of, and ways to market, eBooks (or any informational product) on the internet are:

* As a system or training program for business to customer or business-to-business functions. 
* As an attachment to an auto-responder that sends the informational product after a request or an order.
* As a lead generating tool to build your Opt-In list.
* To establish you or your company as credible and an expert on the particular topic of the informational product. 
* As a stand-alone product, to make you money
* To create a catalog of your products 
* To put it on a CD-ROM with a color label to distribute to your customers and potential customers 
* To use in attracting joint venture relationships and affiliates
* As valued added items as an incentive or reward for a customer’s order.

The bottom-line is that a creative, consistently implemented informational marketing program will produce a dramatic return on investment in a very short time.

Collaborative Programs

Collaboration can help us to attract more business and increase our productivity by multiples. Collaboration is the process of working with others. More and more marketers are finding that customers are demanding bundled solutions. By partnering with others, we can become far more important to prospects and customers. We can also create a stream of referrals from credible partners. These types of referrals tend to be a higher quality and are more qualified. 

Many people think that business is war. Under this scenario there are victors and vanquished. As Gore Vidal said, “It is not enough to success, others must fail.” Listening to the way people talk about business you wouldn’t think it’s a war at all. We talk about relationship marketing, listening to customers, working with suppliers, creating teams, empowerment, strategic partnerships and so on. The truth is that there are few victors when business is conducted as war.

Price Wars
Just look at what happens in price wars. Nobody wins. The price leaders drive the market price down squeezing out competition but in the end, these victors lose their profitability and value in the mix. A good example of this was the airline price wars. Between 1990 and 1993 they lost more money collectively than they made in all the time since Orville and Wilbur Wright!

The Solution
Business is cooperation when it comes to creating a pie and competition when it comes to dividing it up. In other words, business is War and Peace. You have to compete and cooperate at the same time. Your success does not require others to fail. You can compete without having to kill the competition.

Think Compliments
A compliment is one product or service that makes any other more attractive. The classic example of compliments is computer hardware and software. Faster hardware prompts people to upgrade. Powerful software motivates people to buy faster hardware. Just look at Windows and Pentium chips. Thinking compliments is about finding a way to make the pie BIGGER rather than fighting over how to slice up a tiny Scooter Pie. 

So how do we identify competitors and complimentors?

A player is a complimentor if customers value your product MORE when they have the other player’s product than when they have your product alone. Example: Oscar Meyer Hot Dogs and Guldens Mustard

A player is competitor if customers value your product LESS when they have the other player’s product than when they have your product alone. Example: Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola

Some examples of partners in success are Disney and McDonalds, Universal and Burger King, Sears and Allstate, Visa and Airlines, Perfume Makers and Department stores and do on.

How to Launch a Collaborative Program
1. Develop a profile of potential collaborators.
2. Identify at least five non-competitive partners that you can collaborate with and create a pre-approach plan.
3. Pick only the very best people in each area. 
4. Be very selective Do NOT compromise on values or philosophy 
5. Ensure that there is mutual benefit. A one sided relationship will only breed resentment and contempt 

These collaborative strategies can transform your business, help you capture greater market share, improve your profitability, or even help you start a new business and reduce your financial risk in this difficult economy. They are just NICE IDEAS until we put them into action.

Buzz Marketing
Today customers are suffering from information overload. They see and hear so many advertising and marketing messages that it becomes difficult to filter out what is valuable and credible through all the clutter and noise. As a result, customers are turning to their friends and associates for purchasing advice more that ever. Marketing experts believe that the new customer, Generation Y – those born between 1979 and 1994 – shop by word of mouth. In the coming years, buzz marketing may that much more important. 

Buzz works so well because talking is in our genes. As human beings, we need to talk. We talk to connect with people. Sharing information is essential to our make-up. We talk about the latest movie we saw, the car we test drove, the book we read and so on. 

The last era of marketing started with the TV screen. It was all about watching advertisements and marching to the beat of Corporate America. Advertising quickly flowed from television into the rest of our lives. Everywhere we looked, from restroom urinals to the names of our favorite ballparks, we were surrounded by corporations shouting messages at us. Some companies were even paying individuals to “act” normal while pulling stunts such as wearing logos shaved into their heads. We naturally began to “tune out” and ignore the messages. Enough was enough!

Then something happened that none of us predicted. The Internet.
In the beginning, the Internet was supposed to be the new all-powerful marketing channel (“television for the next generation”), but that didn’t happen! Instead, the Internet became a giant chat room for all of us. The Internet changed how the world communicates. It opened the door for people to share opinions with each other quicker, more effectively, and more honestly than ever before.
That is bad news for traditional advertisers … but good news for all of us!
The new flow of information between people means a new phase in the history of marketing. To put it simply, we are living in a new era – the era of word-of-mouth marketing.

When Hotmail launched its Web-based free email service, it experienced the fastest adoption rate of any product ever introduced. Subscriptions went from zero to 12 million in just 18 months. Each person who signed up helped to recruit other members because a message was sent with each email. The power of Word-of-Mouth (or Word-of-Mouse) to the “n”th degree!

In the past few years, companies like BzzAgent (check them out at and other Word-of-Mouth advocates have proven that honest opinions are more powerful than interruptive marketing messages. When you are creating buzz, you are at the very edge of marketing. Word-of-Mouth has long been considered the most effective form of connecting people to products, but, until now, nobody has really captured its essence and power. Listen to my interview with the CEO of BzzAgent at Small Business Hour.
How to Create a Buzz Marketing Program
If you want to create buzz, you have to know your customer and how you are reaching them. It is easier to create buzz than you may think. Good buzz begins with a positive customer experience. There is no substitute for exceptional performance. 

First – Ask yourself the following: 
1. From whom do your customers learn about your products? 
2. What do people say when they recommend your products? 
3. In what invisible networks are your products discussed? 
4. What kind of information spreads through the networks fastest?
5. “How can you get people to experience your product or service without them making a big commitment? 
6. How can you giveaway a small piece of your product or service so that people will start talking about it?”

Second – Try to change your thinking from: 
1. “I need to get this sale,” to “How can I get this prospect to talk about my product or service?” 
2. Don’t focus on under-promising but rather over-delivering. 
3. Don’t be afraid to give a little away. 

Every business large or small, regardless of the industry should have some type of evangelical marketing program in place. I hope this helps you to establish an evangelical marketing program. If you are having trouble adapting this to your business, send me an email and let me know how I can help. 

I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Networkassists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email 

Mark Deo

Eliminate the Competition

You’re at a party.

You talk to EVERYONE there, but you say the exact same thing to all of them. 

Do you think any of them will care what you have to say? Probably not. 

Now imagine:You’re at the same party but you only talk to THREE people there. Before you do, however, you try to honestly understand their desires and interests. You find out what makes them “tick”. You say something to each of them that is specifically customized to who THEY ARE

Now what are the chances that they’ll care about what you have to say? Probably close to 100%! 

Few people realize it but this is exactly what Target Marketing is all about. By shrinking our market size, we become far more valuable to those remaining in our market.

So how can you apply target marketing to your business? Do you need to hire a team of consultants to do market research and spend a fortune one focus groups?

NOT at all!

I like to say (Rule # 1 of the Rules of Attraction): “Become a bigger fish in a smaller pond.” These days you can use the principles of target marketing quite easily in ANY business without spending a dime. The key is doing the right kind of investigation by working smarter, not harder. All this requires is a little bit of planning. 

Breaking it down into a few simple but very powerful steps:
1) Think about the kind of clients you’re looking to attract. Are they local? Small businesses? Homeowners? Do they pay their bills on time? Do they work weekends or just during the week? What makes them different from other people in the same profession? These are just a few things to consider.

2) Brainstorm some questions that you might ask. For example, if you’re an accountant, you may want to define the income-holding of the different segments of your prospect base, how they earn income, what their tax needs usually are, etc. If you are a tailor it might be discovering how far prospects are willing to drive to get to your shop, how much they typically spend on alterations, and who they perceive as being the “expert” in your area.

3) Once you have the questions written down, call a number of prospects and existing clients and ask them to lunch. Let them know you will not be selling them anything during this visit. This is CRITICAL! You simply want to understand THEIR NEEDS a little better. Taking them to lunch is an informal way to discover the criteria that will help you to narrow your core market (make the pond smaller). Take notes! If it makes sense for your prospect base, offer them a copy of your findings when you are done interviewing others in their industry.

4) Use any research that is already available. Look for studies on the prospects on which you are focusing your efforts. I talk about this in my Attract More Business seminars and in my new Target Marketing program. If we can fully understand the “GAP” in the marketplace then we can customize a solution that is inextricably tailored to fit bridge this gap.

5) Now compile all of the information you have gathered and review it to look for commonalities between your prospects and clients. This is where the greatest opportunity exists. Chances are this is where the least price sensitive opportunity exists as well. What a fabulous way to eliminate price erosion.

By following this method, you will learn FAR more about the motivations of your ideal prospects than just by surfing the web, reading trade journals, or simple guesswork.

Let’s take a look at an example of this in practice:
In the early 90’s my firm, the SBA Network decided to focus on the growing cosmetic surgery field. We launched an exhaustive research effort to learn everything we could about cosmetic surgery. We purchased several research studies for a few hundred dollars. The agency from which we purchased the studies told us we were one of only 12 organizations that had purchased the 2600 page study. This gave us an inordinate amount of information about the history of the industry, where it was heading, the most popular forms of surgery, technological advancements, changes in the demographics and psychographics of patients electing surgery, practice management issues, insurance and managed care issues, and the predicted potential reduction in the associated costs. 

Additionally, we interviewed 30 different physicians and learned about their perceptions. We even talked to the president of the American Medical Association and invited him on our Small Business Hour radio show. I want to stress that although they all would have been great customers, we did NOT pitch ANY of these doctors. With all the information that we gained we were able to write several articles quoting all kinds of statistics about the future of various forms of cosmetic surgery. We were able to speak intelligently about nearly every area of this field. We became MORE knowledgeable in marketing and managing a cosmetic surgery practice than any plastic surgeon. 

Because of months of research and a few hundred dollars, we were soon viewed as the EXPERTS in cosmetic surgery practice management and marketing. We were asked to attend an upcoming medical conference in Sacramento where I gave a speech on the future of cosmetic surgery. It was unbelievable. We gave seminars on practice management and marketing. We were asked to be editorial contributors to the industries’ trade publication. We were even asked to do a radio show by the massive pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Merck, which we did for 18 months on CBS radio. 

As you can imagine, we were able to easily attract some of the most successful, well financed, and well respected cosmetic surgery clients in the industry in just a few short months. In fact, they begged us to take them on as a client! Companies like Sword Medical Center, Cedars Sinai Hospital, Plastico, Boston Medical, and Cosmetic and Laser Surgery all came to us. No cold calls, no mailings, no fancy brochures. We were able to secure a strong position in the market as the leaders in cosmetic surgery consulting. Can you do the same? YES, YES and YES!

It is far better to spend some extra time and money on understanding your prospects than to throw good money after bad on ad campaigns and mass marketing efforts where you hope to reel in some business. With just a little effort you can apply this mindset to your business. When you do, you will become the life of the party in your target market, rather than the boring guy that has to put a lampshade on his head to get their attention. Not to mention your bank account will grow significantly!

If you live in Southern California and you’re looking to make this work in your business, sign-up for my Attract More Business Full Day Workshop in Long Beach or Pasadena. We will personally work with you to show you precisely how to apply this directly to your business. At the seminar we will not only teach you the rules of attraction, but we put your hand to paper and MAKE YOU develop a highly targeted attraction plan. I guarantee that every attendee will walk out of this workshop with a specific next step that will result in REVOLUTIONIZING your marketing efforts. In fact you will NEVER think about marketing the same way after spending a day with us.

The best part is if you sign up in the month of May we will GIVE YOU – that’s right, GIVE YOU our new Target Marketing Learning Program (a $99.00 value). This includes 2 CDs, a 50 page manual and our interactive forms all facilitated by me, Mark Deo teaching you exactly how to make this work in your business. This is a great preparatory tool for the workshop and can very well be the one-two punch that your business needs to make achieving your goals this year a reality.
Sign-up here: Attract More Business One Day Workshop.

Effective Networking

Networking is probably the most misunderstood method of marketing yet.

What is networking?How should we go about it? Is networking just for acquiring new business?Does it work for only certain types of businesses?How have people built their entire business based on networking?I set out to answer these questions and I welcome feedback and comments from everyone.The Purpose of Networking?
Successful networking is neither art nor science. It is a result of commitment, determination, and plenty of hard work. The ability to succeed in this area, is not innate. Like any new behavior, the more you practice the skills of networking, the easier they become. Oh yes, there are skills to effective networking. Of course like anything else, networking requires constant attention. That means having a proven networking strategy, keeping sharp, staying in touch with people, and maintaining communication in a sincere and genuine way. We will look at methods of successful networking, how to develop your own business network, and how to make sure that you are never more than one phone call away from getting what it is that you need.Networking Defined
“A business relationship formed to meet the needs of two parties or more on an ongoing basis.”Networking’s Bad Rap
Today, it seems that networking has a bad reputation. Many dismiss networking as a viable marketing medium. It’s not surprising really. Just attend one of the many networking meetings in your area and fend off the jackals that hungrily compete for your business or contact list. Often times I’ve found myself being eyed up at networking meetings only to feel like a goldfish in an aquarium full of piranhas. Will I be chewed up or just swallowed whole? To say the least it can be a real turn off. Most people go to these events with one thing on their mind, “getting business for themselves. NOW!” How naive they must be to think that people will give up their trusted contacts after having just met them! But networking is far more than just exchanging business cards over coffee and doughnuts.Don’t Be Afraid To Give It Away
Over the years, I have come to realize that networking is about building long term relationships that are based on trust, credibility and genuine concern for the other person. Believe me, it’s not about how many business cards you have, or even who you know. It’s about who wants to know you. True networking begins when people really want to know you, and when people call you for advise or to get your opinion before they make a change in their business. But how do we attract people to us? What will make people want to know us? The old adage applies here. What’s in it for them? President John F. Kennedy said, “It is not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” But, how can we help others? The same is true in networking. What do we have to offer that may be valuable to others?Step One
The first step is to identify business categories that you want to build a relationships in. For me, as a business advisor these include CPA’s, financial consultants, designers and ad agencies, attorneys, media representatives and more. What are the categories for your business? The trick is to meet these people and build a relationship BEFORE you need their help.Step Two
Our next step is to perform a self-inventory of our skills, abilities, talents, and contacts as they relate to our fellow networkers. I suggest creating a chart which includes in formation such as our fellow networker’s name, type of business, specific needs and desires as well as their talents, abilities, contacts, memberships and so on. Some of the abilities, which could be valuable to others in your network, may have absolutely nothing to do with business. For example, I’m fairly good at golf. I found out that someone in my personal referral network was interested in finding some golf partners. I have invited that person to play golf in our foursome several times. Not only have we had the pleasure of including them in our activities, but I have had the opportunity to find out more about their business and talk to them about what it is I do and how I help my customers. As a result, I have received a referral for a fairly large printing job, which we are working on at this very moment. I am also a classical guitarist. I was playing a tape in my car one day while taking a fellow networker and prominent Real Estate Agent to lunch. She heard the music and told me her daughter was getting married and she wanted to have that kind of music for the cocktail hour at the wedding. When I told her that it was me and I would play for free at her daughter’s wedding, she was ecstatic. She reviewed her contact list with me and wrote a letter to every person on the list introducing me as a resource for them.
What talents, abilities, contacts, and skills do you have? How can you exploit them to HELP others!Step Three
The third step is know what to say when in a networking situation. Helping the other person is of course foremost, but we also have to make sure that our fellow networkers know and understand what it is that we do and HOW we have benefited our clients. I like to boil this down to what I call a “Benefit Profile.” The “Benefit Profile” should be no more than 30 seconds, NOT sound like a sales pitch and include the following:

  1. Your typical client
  2. Client challenges
  3. Client benefits
  4. How you are different

My Benefit Profile is as follows:
My customers are typically companies in the $2 million to $10 million range. They have exceptional product quality and responsive service. In the past they were very profitable but now find they face price competition from cheap imitators. They like that our marketing and management consulting programs go beyond just preparing ads and promo material. They say we’re more affordable because we’re NOT paid based on a percentage of advertising. Our mission is to propose creative solutions, influence direction and generate greater profitability for our clients. (Learn more about how to build powerful “Benefit Profiles” in my upcoming Dale Carnegie Class in Long Beach, CA starting this December).Know Where the Bodies Are Buried
As Harvey Mackay states in his book, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, “Networking may not be rocket science, but studies prove it works with rocket scientists.” Consider the scientific community. Scientific superstars are typically perceived as loners, nerds in white coats. Nothing can be further from the truth. The reality is that scientist and engineers are the best networkers on the planet. They know who to dial-up when they need to find grant or research money. When they are stuck with a problem they can call on the experts in the field to get their opinion. They even know how to become celebrated in the press to promote themselves and new discoveries.Some may be familiar with the movie Six Degrees Separation. It refers to the theory that there’s a chain of no more than six people that link every person on this planet to every other person. That means if we know the right people and they respect, trust and admire us we can get to know just about any other person we need. It’s all about people.Taking a Risk
Taking a risk is critical when building an effective networking team. By taking a risk, I mean allowing yourself to fail. This gets back to the concept of giving for the sake of giving and expecting nothing return. Of course we want to network with those that have the capacity to help us in the future, if not now. But if others know that we are giving to them strictly for the reason of helping them, they’ll be much more inclined to refer us to those that might have the capacity to buy our product or service.

Educational Marketing

You have two choices when you select a marketing message. You can choose traditional selling-based marketing, in which you take on the role of a salesperson and deliver a message of features and benefits. Or you can choose Education-Based Marketing, in which you take on the role of a consultant and educate prospective clients about their problems and the potential solutions.

Selling-based marketing is built around a selling message, sometimes called a sales pitch. The sales pitch is often delivered using methods that reach out to prospective customers, such as telephone selling, direct mail and door-to-door sales. Education-Based Marketing is built around an educational message, which replaces the sales message. The educational message is commonly delivered to prospective clients through educational means. These include written materials, media publicity (articles and interviews), advertising, seminars, newsletters, audio and video tapes, and Internet web sites. Frankly, you can educate your prospective clients using any method through which they can get your information and advice.Typically, your Education-Based Marketing program works like this: You create an educational message, which you first put into the form of a written handout. Then you offer your handout to prospects who are interested in your services. Prospects call your office to get your free written materials. You respond by sending the materials and inviting prospects to an upcoming seminar. In addition, you keep prospects educated through your educational newsletter.You put your message in front of your prospects through paid advertising, articles in newspapers and magazines, and interviews on radio and TV. In addition, you communicate with people on your mailing list and invite them to attend your seminar and bring their friends and associates.Selling-based marketing creates these problems:

  1. Prospects go out of their way to avoid you because they are tired of selling and sales pressure. They don’t like to be approached by salespeople who have something to sell.
  2. Prospects don’t think they can trust you because all of us have been burned by salespeople who gave us “inaccurate” and even false information in their eagerness to earn a commission.
  3. Prospects are defensive and protective because they expect you to try to pressure them into buying something they don’t want or need.

Education-Based Marketing provides these solutions:

  1. You give prospective clients what they want, information and advice — and you remove what they don’t want, a sales pitch.
  2. You maintain your dignity because you never make any effort to sell.
  3. You establish yourself as an authority because prospective clients see you as a reliable source of information.
  4. You don’t seek out prospects; instead, they call you.
  5. You reach prospects during the first stage of the decision-making process, often before they call your competitors.
  6. You identify even marginal prospects who suffer from phone-call fear, but who aren’t afraid to call for your free information.
  7. You prove that calling your office is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it’s a positive experience.
  8. You save money because you don’t need expensive brochures.
  9. You receive calls from qualified prospects who are genuinely interested in your services and you screen out people who are not your prospects.
  10. You establish your credibility and make a positive first impression by offering helpful information rather than a sales pitch.
  11. You save time by answering common questions in your materials and seminars, rather than answering the same questions over and over.
  12. You begin to earn your prospect’s loyalty because you’ve made an effort to help him, even if he or she doesn’t become your client.
  13. You know precisely how well your marketing works because you can count the number of prospects who respond — and the number who go on to become clients.
  14. You gain a competitive advantage simply by using this method because few, if any, of your competitors currently use it.
  15. You benefit from the synergy of several educational methods that reinforce each other.
  16. You earn a true profit, rather than just creating more work and more overhead.

Educating Customers

As small business owners, we usually can’t afford to compete with the big boys on price or selection. They have economies of scale a small business can’t hope to ever match. When competing with Wal-Mart, Fry’s, Deloitte & Touche, and numerous other giants, your point of differentiation usually comes down to the knowledge and hands on approach you take. How can you leverage your knowledge to keep customers coming back, and better yet, tell others about your business?

Here are some tips on ways to better educate your client base and give them a reason to keep doing business with you instead of the low price leaders:

  • Provide prospects and clients with what they want, information and advice- and remove what they don’t want, a sales pitch.
  • Maintain your dignity because you never make any effort to sell.
  • Establish yourself as an authority because prospects and clients see you as a reliable source of information.
  • Reach out to prospects during the first stage of the decision-making process, often before they call your competitors.
  • Prove that calling your office is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it’s a positive experience.
  • Screen prospects that are genuinely interested in your services and only do business with those whom you can genuinely help.
  • Establish your credibility and make a positive first impression by offering helpful information rather than a sales pitch.
  • Save time by answering common questions in your materials and seminars, rather than answering the same questions over and over.
  • Earn your prospect’s loyalty because you’ve made an effort to help him, even if he or she doesn’t become your client.

You gain a competitive advantage simply by using this method because few, if any, of your competitors currently use it.

As an effort to keep you, our readers, informed, please note that our weekly Radio Show, Small Business Radio, can now be heard on the web live directly through the KLSX Free FM 97.1 website. Just go to: register to listen live to KLSX at any time! You can also find podcasts of our most popular shows at:

Have a great week!