Tag Archives: Beyond Donuts

Ambulance

Why “Somebody Call an Ambulance!” won’t help you

If you have ever taken a CPR class or any type of emergency training, the first thing they teach you NOT to say is “Somebody call an Ambulance.” Why would first responders train someone NOT to say “SOMEBODY CALL AN AMBULANCE!”

Somebody is not specific, somebody can be anyone… and most certainly doesn’t mean me. The real training goes something like this; Point to one person and tell them what you need. Point to one person and tell them; “You, call an Ambulance.” Point to another person and tell them; “You, get some help.”

Being specific gets things done. Asking for something specific gets better results. Why am I saying this in a marketing blog? While what we do isn’t life and death, lessons can be learned from CPR training. I would like you to think about the last time you asked for a referral. If you are like most sales people, the question was phrased something like this; “Do you know someone else that I could talk to?”

First, the sales person should be complimented on the fact they even asked the question. They are already ahead of 90 percent of sales people who never ask the referral question. Often, the way you ask the question will make the difference between a couple seconds of awkward silence and a qualified lead.

Research shows very few customers are willing to open their database or even share a few names when asked any type of referral question. Do yourself a favor, don’t ask for that. Ask for one person. I typically phrase the referral question like this: “Who is the one person who could benefit most from a conversation like this?”

After asking this question, I have a very difficult task, I have to shut up and wait. For sales people this is a Herculean feat. We are so used to talking, so used to controlling the conversation that even a few seconds of silence can seem like an eternity. Resist the urge to break the silence; the first one to talk… loses.

Asking for one person is very different than asking for anyone. Just like that first responder, you are pointing and saying; “You, give me one name.”

The next step in this process is less critical, but can shorten the selling cycle. After I get one name, I orchestrate the handoff. My favorite way to make the handoff is the joint email. I ask my customer if they would be comfortable sending that one person an email and copying me on the email.

I ask them if they would be willing to say we are working together and what a great conversation we just had. They should go on to say that it would be a good idea if the two of us connect. I then ask my customer why they think this one person would be a good fit and to tell me a little about them.

I use this information as part of my first conversation with my new lead and schedule time to talk. If everything goes the way I hope, my lead becomes a new customer, and then they are sending a joint email to my next “new customer.”

how can i help

Don’t Ask: How Can I Help

‘How can I help’ is the wrong question to ask.

In a recent visit to a client, I asked the same question sales people always ask their clients: “How else can I help you?” Traditionally, a sales person will ask this question when they think they have covered all the bases, brought significant value and are looking for a close-out question to wrap up the visit.

After I asked the question, I received the typical response from my client, “I think that’s it.”

When I returned to my office to write up my notes from the visit a thought hit me like a bolt of lightning. THAT WAS THE WRONG QUESTION! And, not only did I ask the wrong question that day, I realized in that moment it has always been the wrong question to ask.

Here’s why. It is not our client’s job to tell us what else we can do for them. It’s our job to figure that out for them. It would be great if our clients told us exactly what they needed to be the world class provider of X and we could pull that out of our magical bag of tricks and ride off into the sunset.

Nine out of 10 clients have no idea how to reply to the question, “What else can I do to help?” Here is the best way to ask this question… NEVER ASK IT. You should already have that answer through every other question you ask.

One of my favorite questions I like to ask is: What two things would you like to accomplish over the next six months? Not only is this question specific (two things), it also has a time constraint (six months).

If your clients are able to answer this question, it will give you a good indication of where their thought process is headed and what tool in your bag of tricks will help them accomplish one or both of the things they would like to accomplish.

If you don’t have a tool that can address one of the two things they would like to accomplish, keep digging. They have needs, lots of them, and you need to find one need you can help with. Talk about specifics and find out how, exactly, they plan on completing the task.

Sometimes the only thing you will bring to the table for your client is clarity. One of my clients was adamant on knocking out three things on his to-do list. I had no clue how I was going to bring value to any of those three tasks. So instead of offering the tools, I talked to my client very specifically on how he was going to knock them out.

The item of value I brought was planning. I helped him draw out the time line, deliverables and who was going to do what. It worked. His reply back to me was, “I had no idea how helpful an outsider’s eyes and ears could be.” He was too caught up in the trees to see the forest.

Let your competition ask what else can THEY do. Make it your mission to understand your clients’ needs and provide the solution to the questions and problems they don’t ask about.

cover good 2 great

How the Book: Good to Great got it Wrong

The Enemy of Great is Good ~ Jim Collins

Good is good enough ~ Dan Kennedy

So who’s right?

If you don’t know who either of these guys are, Google them.

Now that you know who they are, which strategy should you commit to? Both make great sense; Follow Jim Collins’ thought process and you may join the ranks of General Electric and a host of other companies that were mentioned in his books.

Follow Dan Kennedy and avoid the curse of never getting anything to market because you are always making that last adjustment. Kennedy says: Don’t wait, act… do something to generate revenue or starve.

I have added both of these guys as virtual mentors of mine. Both are widely successful, both have published works quoting the phrase they are each credited with saying.  These statements are polar opposites… so which should you follow?

The thought process behind Kennedy’s statement avoids getting caught up with perfecting a blog post, article, or whatever your product is, and get it out there.

Too often business owners want to go to market with the perfect (insert product here). They spend all of their time and energy trying to make it perfect and as a result… they never go to market.  It’s too easy to stay in development mode and never shift to money making mode.

Having devoured Good to Great and Built to Last I have used both of these books to create, maintain, and profitability sell a company that I owned for 10 years. The logic behind the phrase “the enemy of great is good”, makes perfect sense to me.

Collins says you are the staunch advocate and head cheerleader of your product… tough to do if you are shooting for good.

Further, Collins’ books talk about the companies that made the difference and became that top 1%. The financial differences between companies that were good v. great can be measured in billions of dollars in market capitalization.

Some will say that these guys are talking about two different things. I don’t think they are. Collins says Great is what you should shoot for; you should never JUST put something out there. Kennedy says get it out there and tweak over time… if it works.  If nobody buys it, don’t waste any more resources on it.

Here is the tough answer. Kennedy is right, Collins is wrong. I still love Collins’ books; they give me something to aspire to and a roadmap showing where my compass should point.

Here is why Kennedy is right. The likelihood of everyone creating great is nil. Not everyone gets to grow up and play shortstop for the New York Yankees. For every Derek Jeter (current Yankee shortstop) there are thousands of others who will never get that chance.

If you hold a gun to my head and say “pick one: good enough or great”, I pick good enough because it gives me another chance to do it again. I get to learn from my mistakes and create another opportunity to try again.

Someday I might get it to great, but I don’t want to spend my entire life trying to make one thing great, the stakes are too high.

Remember the guy who kept swinging the hammer on the rock… eventually the rock breaks. This makes for a great story…so long as the rock breaks. His great story IS the rock breaking. If it doesn’t break, there is no story, and if he is paid to break rocks… he starves.

Every time I hear that story, I think he should have found a softer rock.

4ps of marketing

Can Title Companies use Product Placement?

Is it possible for a company that doesn’t have a physical product to utilize product placement in a marketing campaign?

Anyone that has taken a Marketing 101 class is familiar with the 4P’s of marketing: Price, Promotion, Place and Product. These are the four pillars to any effective marketing campaign.

As the owner of a service based product (Title Insurance) I have often struggled with that 3rd P; Place, as we don’t have shelf space to display our widget. It is even more difficult to hold title insurance in your hand.

Anytime I see a new and creative way to leverage one of the 4P’s in a way that you wouldn’t expect, I like to acknowledge it and tip my hat at the people behind the campaign.

I was recently on a flight to Hawaii for my daughter’s Spring Break when I came across this little ingenious card. On our way from Phoenix to Hawaii we were provided an in-flight meal. As you can imagine, it was airline food. I know this sounds cliché, I’m sure Hawaiian Airlines did their best.

Hawaiian air coupon

I found this advertising piece on the food tray. This restaurant figured out a way to target an audience that is there perfect demographic. This flight was full of tourists that were going to need to eat, probably several times, over the next 7-10 days.

The advertising itself is a front and back card. On the front is a picture of a nice looking restaurant and a delicious main course. On the back of the card is a map of where to find the restaurant with a phone number, and finally a $15 gift card for your purchase at the restaurant.

The ingenious part was putting this card on each tray of airline food. There was something remarkable about advertising fine cuisine next to a tray of airline food. This is a local restaurant without a large marketing budget. For the next four hours all I could think about was this restaurant and guess we went to dinner?

When you marry this strategy to the demographic of the average traveler it’s a home run. Think about who is on a flight to Hawaii, tourists who were willing to spend money and don’t have a lot of preconceived notions as to where to go to eat.

Hats off to this restaurant for a brilliant marketing strategy using product placement for a very difficult product to place… a dining experience.

This got me thinking: how can Title Companies market their service based product, placed in a similar fashion? In any service based company, trying to create something tangible to represent your product has always been a problem.

One of the things that I have tried is the campaign below using this $100 bill. When you fold the bill in half it looks like a $100 bill on the ground, when you open it, it says the following:

100 front

100 bill back

We would give this $100 bill to Realtors’ who attend any of our classes, trade shows, or in the funding pack of the cross agent of any sale. We found a two-fold benefit to giving these coupons to Realtors. First, it gave them something tangible to remember us by and a visual incentive to use us on their next transaction.

The second benefit showed the realtors some of our creative marketing efforts and often sparked a whole different conversation as to ways we can help them grow their business.

I’d love to hear what you have done to place your product in front of your customers.

Service Pryamid

How to Bring Value to Your Clients

Welcome to the Beyonddonuts blog. In our first post I wanted to convey the spirit of why this site exists.  For the past twenty something years, I have been surrounded by affiliates of the real estate industry. For the first twelve years I was the customer and the last twelve I have been the affiliate.

As the owner of a Title Company, one of my goals has always been to improve the customer experience. The long standing joke about account executives, or anyone in marketing, has been that they are just donut delivery folks.

They have a delivery route, bring in the donuts, and the orders come rolling in. While that is certainly one way to develop business, I don’t think it’s a lasting model.  Our customers need and frankly should expect more than a cheerful good morning and some deep fried breakfast treats.

To develop lasting relationships with clients you need to have a different approach. The figure below is a pretty good illustration of how a lasting relationship is created.  Our marketing needs to go beyond donuts and provide value to our customers if you want to grow your business.

Customer Service Pyramid
Customer Service Pyramid

The lowest level of the pyramid is meeting expectations. This is a pretty straight forward premise. You have a product, they have a need and they send you the order because you were there. Thankfully in most of our collective industries, the expectation bar is set pretty low. In other words, just don’t screw up the order and there is a good chance you will get another order.

Real value is created when you go beyond completing the order.  When you go deeper with your client and start providing solutions to what they need you start creating loyalty with them. In order to achieve this next level of success you have to actually have conversations with your clients.  These conversations need to include something most sales people are very poor at doing… listening to your client.

Ask questions like what is holding you back from being more successful? Or if there was one thing we could do that would make your life easier, what would it be? You don’t need a laundry list of questions, keep it simple and manageable… what’s the one thing? When you start appealing to their desires you are off to the races, because many of your clients are going to have the same desires.  When you start to provide answers to these questions you are providing solutions at an exponential rate. One solution can be offered to multiple clients.

After you ask this question enough, you will be able to anticipate what their needs are or will be in the future. That is when you move into the highest level of the pyramid and start to create Raving Fans.  These are the clients you dream of. These are the guys that are talking to other potential clients and they start to sell for you.

My wife and I just finished watching the movie Steve Jobs, …I liked the book better. Jobs was a master at anticipating what the customer wanted before they knew they wanted it. After his return to Apple think about the products they released; iPhone, iPad, and the iPod were all products Apple launched with the mindset “you haven’t seen this, but you can’t live without it. Steve Jobs lived within the highest level of the pyramid and think of the number of raving fans Apple has.

Another benefit of asking these questions to multiple clients is that your clients are going to be at different levels in their business and an answer to one question might be an answer to a question another client hasn’t even thought of yet… the illusion of anticipation has now been created with second client.