Magical Marketing Strategies for Creating an Endless Stream of New, Repeat, and Referral Business
Copyright © 1998 Michel Fortin, Ph.D.
THOU SHALL TAKE IT STEP-BY-STEP
A big mistake businesspeople often make is when they try to sell themselves as much as possible directly in every communication they produce. In the case of advertising, for instance, they try to draw up immediate clients through what I call "Advertising Overkill." When meeting people for the first time, they blab on until the cows come home. When sending out information, they send packages that make shipping crates look like a joke!
They think that by selling themselves right in the ad they will get not only an immediate response but also immediate business. This oftentimes backfires and can even take away clients. Many clients I've dealt with usually get as a result of this type of approach a lot of calls but no business – or at least no long term business. They end up dealing with a lot of people who are merely curious but never serious. Because of hypercompetition and the problem prospecting creates, trying to look for pre-qualified prospects can sometimes be worse than a needle in the haystack. It's frustrating and often self-effacing.
A new concept (although it's been around for years but has recently become very popular) is direct-response advertising. Direct response marketing is a process in which businesses seek an immediate response as a result of their marketing efforts. Many use this technique to offer a free report, item, or service. Little do people know that the immediate response strategy is usually not the true goal of the advertiser.
For instance, have you ever seen an infomercial by Charles Givens International? His commercial shows who he is and what he does, which is to help people make or save money, and then advertises a "free" seminar in the city in which the commercial is being televised. Now, do you think he's really doing this for free and travelling across the country only to educate people? In a sense, yes. But when people arrive at his seminar, they get tiny tidbits of information that will help them start to make or save money, but it's a certain kind of information that, if participants want to use it or want to have it continually updated, forces them to join the organization.
Mr. Givens then charges a membership fee for those who wish to learn more, and additional products (mostly information, books, reports, etc) are sold "in the back of the room" at his seminars. That's the power of lead generation! People who came out to see him are not general, curious, uninterested, and unqualified prospects. They have indirectly been screened! Once they show up, they are pre-qualified, pre-informed, and after they've been enticed with the free information, they are pre-sold and ready to do business.
As a consultant to cosmetic surgeons, this process is obviously essential if not vital. No one can call a person on the phone and outright ask if that person is bald and wants more hair – at least without knowing if that person is bald in the first place! However, doctors will televise an infomercial or place a print ad whereby the people who respond will naturally fit into a specific demographic. And it doesn't stop there. A process call "Multi-Step Marketing" takes place.
The prospect who comes forward usually wants information mailed to him. The doctor sends a professional brochure explaining the procedure, the possible risks, and the potential results, but without any pricing. (It is impossible to determine the cost of a procedure until the doctor personally sees the patient firsthand in order to measure the degree of baldness.) The information package, therefore, along with its lack of pricing, causes the prospect to come forward once more to arrange for a personal consultation with the doctor. Once they show up, they are, by and large, ready to have surgery.
You see, people who may need your services may fit your demographics. But people who come forward, without any selling efforts on your part, fit your psychographics. Psychographics are the portion of your demographics that are not only in need of your services but also want what you have to offer. As in the previous example, the demographics for a hair transplant surgeon encompass people experiencing hair loss. But psychographics, though, are comprised of people who are experiencing hair loss and want to do something about it (since not all of them do).
In your case, if you offer a specific product or service that caters to a specific target market, find out ways to make your market come forward with minimal effort on your part. This is called Lead Generation Marketing. The best way to do this is to offer a freebie. Being in the information age, the "free report" is my favorite. The report doesn't have to be product or service-specific, industry-specific, or benefit-specific. As long as it targets an audience that logically fits within your demographics (and eventually your psychographics), you're ahead of the game.
A used car salesperson friend of mine placed a small classified ad in the local newspaper and it read something like this: "Is your car a lemon? Do you know that there are ways to turn your lemon into cash? Before you get rid of your clunker, call for my free report, 10 Ways to Turn Your Lemon into Lemonade!" In fact, he placed a pseudonym at the end of his ad with a postal box address, "Lemon-Aid Publications." And guess what? People who answered his ad were not only in the market for a new car, but they were also frustrated with their previous dealership (for selling them their "lemon"); were enticed to seek more information from that specific dealership, that specific salesperson, and his specific inventory; and were positively impacted by the valuable "extra" service the salesperson provided. The car buyers therefore placed more confidence in that salesperson and also felt more comfortable in sending him referrals!
Let's say you're a consultant in financial planning. Your product involves services such as investments, mutual funds, stocks, retirement savings plans, mortgages, and venture loans. Rather than place an ad that directly markets your services, you could advertise using a small classified ad promoting a free course, seminar, or report on helping people to save money with their current savings program. Let's say you're an image consultant helping people to enhance their appearance. You could offer a free kit including a free makeover, a free makeup sample kit, a gift certificate, a free initial consultation, or a free report on makeup styles and colors that will match his or her unique complexion, hair and eye color, or apparel.
The idea is to have people come to you rather than you to them. I personally prefer the "free report" style of lead generation, and the incentive you offer doesn't have to relate directly to what you do. As long as it logically appeals to the same target market, you're on your way. If you recall from an example I used earlier, you can turn your answering machine into a 24-hour salesperson for you. Your free offer should therefore be included in the message people hear; they must be invited to act somehow.
When it comes to advertising though, you shouldn't try to go into large circulation newspapers or general publications. I will deal with this issue in the next Commandment, but remember for now that your main goal is not to create immediate clients. In general, the portion of the general public that fits into your product or service's demographics is merely made up of "suspects" (you suspect that they might need what you have to offer). When a portion of them comes forward to get your free report, sample, or service, you've isolated the true "prospects" from your suspects. Then, if they want more information or want more of what you've got, then they've become "expects" (people expecting to do business with you). This can be done in virtually all industries.
I used to work as a salesperson for a music store specializing in pianos and keyboards. Older pianos usually require considerable repair since the wood inside that hold the strings with which the piano creates its sound may be too old, cracking, and broken beyond repair. As a result, the piano remains constantly out of tune.
A salesperson at the store had a small classified ad that said: "Beware parents in the market for a piano! (That's the headline.) Many parents usually buy used pianos for their kids because they don't know if they'll love music and therefore want to minimize the risk of losing their investment. However, to the unsuspecting buyer, many used pianos are internally broken beyond repair and temporarily "doped" in order to sound good and be sold quickly, only to become broken again when it's too late. Before you buy any piano, call for our free report Don't Let Piano Problems Put Your Bank Account Out of Tune: 6 Ways to Find Commonly Hidden Problems with Used Pianos."
By the way, piano "doping" is the process of spraying water onto the board inside so that the wood expands, thus holding the strings firmly in place and keeping the piano in tune. However, the benefit is only temporary (i.e., it lasts until the used piano is sold), since the water will eventually evaporate.
Neverthless, his report not only explained the possible hidden faults commonly found in pianos. But since he was catering to a specialized market (parents of piano students), his report went on to explain how used pianos fall out of tune quickly causing the child to learn the piano the wrong way and eventually to lose interest – let alone the parents money! Of course, what the salesperson really wanted was to get these parents to buy new pianos from his store and especially from him. The resulting effect, though, was that the report not only brought prospects to his door but also instilled in them a greater confidence in the salesperson in addition to the reasons for buying a new piano rather than a used one. He made a fortune using this technique!
In essence, look at lead generation marketing or advertising as a form of job search. People often send bulky résumés to potential employers in an attempt to sell themselves as much as possible, when very often their attempts get filed away – into file #13 that is! Successful career consultants stress the importance of summarizing a résumé as much as possible, include one's past accomplishments and bottom-line results (not one's duties and responsibilities from previous jobs), and putting it all on one single page. Why? Because, simply put, the résumé is not meant to land a job but to land an interview.
Lead generation should be regarded in the same way. It must be small, contain a concise message, stress an immediate benefit, and cause the prospect to want to know more. And this can be applied in virtually all fields and for many if not all types of products or services. What can you offer your prospects to arouse their curiosity and interest? What can you give away for free so to entice them to get more? If you're giving something away, something that's somehow tied to what you do, you'll realize that what you're really doing is not giving away free stuff but generating better leads. Nevertheless, the cost of giving away free stuff can be far less than the cost of mass marketing!
Go to Commandments:
#1 THOU SHALL NOT COPY
#2 THOU SHALL APPOINT THYSELF
#3 THOU SHALL MAKE THE ORDINARY EXTRAORDINARY
#4 THOU SHALL FIND MORE WITH LESS
#5 THOU SHALL DIVIDE AND CONQUER
#7 THOU SHALL SPEAK SOFTLY (BUT CARRY A BIG STICK)
#8 THOU SHALL BECOME A CELEBRITY
#9 THOU SHALL SEEK OUT AND SPREAD OUT
#10 THOU SHALL MAKE THY NET WORK