Renee Prejean-Motanky

Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

CREATING A MARKETING FUNNEL

In Business Development, Business Strategies, marketing on August 20, 2009 at 1:54 am
Giant Funnel Cap
Image by polandeze via Flickr

The funnel is a basic marketing concept that can have a huge impact on profitability and the success of your service business.

The theory behind the marketing funnel (sometimes referred to as a pipeline) is that you should offer something free or very cheap at the top of the funnel, then a mid-priced option and, finally, your highest priced services and products at the bottom of the funnel.

Many service professionals struggle with converting prospects into paying clients because we make the mistake of trying to sell expensive services without offering any lower priced options.  It’s important to provide an opportunity for prospects to experience your services and expertise at different price points.

Here are Three basic ideas for developing and implementing your funnel strategy:

First, draw a funnel shape on a sheet of paper — List the products and services that you currently offer.  If you see gaps in your offerings from free to high-priced, determine how to plug the holes by adding more product/service offerings and a range of pricing options.

Second, get lots of prospects into the funnel — Visualize the funnel with the large end at the top and the narrow end at the bottom.  You want lots of prospects at the top of the funnel.  Cast a wide net first by spreading your targeted message to as many folks in your audience as possible (this would include, prospects, current clients and former clients.)  The idea is to end up with your most ideal prospects at the top of the funnel.  A great way to do this is by offering something for free or at extremely low cost that will introduce you to them and demonstrate your expertise (an e-zine, special report, e-course, audio download, white paper, etc.) to entice them to allow you to add them to your database so that you can contact them again.

Third, guide them through the funnel —  Once prospects have experienced your expertise and get to know, like and trust you, they are more likely to spend more money on your services or products.  Each level of your funnel represents a step in the relationship-building process.  As you guide prospects through, increased familiarity represents the potential for increased profits.  You offer your higher-priced options only after they’ve experienced the lower priced ones.  As you provide several opportunities for prospects to sample your skills and knowledge at lower price points, the middle of your funnel starts to fill, enabling you to make money while earning the trust of clients and prospects as you give them the opportunity to try low to medium-priced options.

Make it easy for prospects to make the decision to buy from you.

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TIPS FROM A CONSULTANT

In Business Strategies, Consulting on August 11, 2009 at 2:46 am

Effective consulting requires the ability to thrive in the midst of ambiguity!  Consultants deal with lots of ambiguity.  You’re told that the doorway is on the left, but then you discover that it’s actually on the right!  What may seem clear and aboveboard on a Monday can be in absolute tatters by Tuesday.  Client situations can both elate and disappoint you.  But you must avoid catching what they’ve got… your job is to make it better!

There are some days, as a consultant, that walking into your client’s office feels like walking into a windstorm of confusion.  Even when you aren’t the one stirring up the tornado it’s challenging to avoid becoming a casualty of their storm. 

So, how do you avoid getting sucked up?

The Road to Tomorrow (and Happy 2009!)
Image by Stuck in Customsvia Flickr

The answer is simple — MAINTAIN THE PROPER PERSPECTIVE.  As a consultant, it’s critical to learn how to dive into the storm, gather as much intelligence as you can, and then step back outside of it to analyze the situation.  After learning all that you can and then analyzing, you dive back in…this time with the ammunition required to devise solutions.  Over time you’ll find that you develop the consummate consultant ability to project a soothing calmness even while in the midst of chaos.

Consultants’ strengths can sometimes be their weaknesses.  One of my own strengths, for example, is that I have tremendous empathy.  I genuinely empathize with what clients are going through no matter how large or how small the job. It adds to the feeling of “personal touch” they receive. They know that I care.  I, however, must remind myself that sometimes empathy makes me too pliable when I need to be firm or too willing to take the blame when a client “passes the buck.”  That later leads me to regret that I didn’t tow a harder line, wasn’t more direct or that I let them off the hook instead of holding them accountable for their mistakes. Over empathizing can make you feel too connected to your clients when what’s needed is that you stand apart from them as an objective observer. 

Ignore the little voice that tells you to soft-peddle it.  Believe in yourself and remember that what you sell is yourself and your knowledge. It’s important that you develop confidence in your abilities and skills and know what it is that you can do for a client.  Remember to treat your clients with respect and don’t short-change them by not being straight with them.  Never patronize… give clients good value for their money.    

If you take the following tips to heart, you’ll be a great consultant:

  1. MAKE SURE ALL LINES OF COMMUNICATION ARE OPEN; be accessible.
  2. BE A LEARNER; always open to new ideas and new ways of thinking.
  3. COMMIT TO SELF-DEVELOPMENT; deliberately put yourself in uncomfortable situations that challenge you both intellectually and emotionally.
  4. IMPROVE INTERPERSONAL SKILLS – developing your interpersonal skills will reap rewards you won’t anticipate! Be an expert and learn to articulate your points clearly and concisely and in layman’s terms.
  5. LEARN TO SPEAK IN PUBLIC; this is one of the most important things a consultant can do!
  6. BE ENERGETIC; drive and enthusiasm are very attractive qualities to clients
  7. SHOW YOUR COMMITMENT; clients need to feel you’re committed to them
  8. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK; – join online and offline groups. Get to know your peers as well as who your potential clients might be and make sure they know who you are too.
  9. TAKE RISKS; don’t be afraid to take (calculated) chances.  Remember that there is no such thing as failure, just feedback.  Failure only results when you don’t try again!
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Marketing When the Economy Sucks

In Business Strategies, marketing on August 2, 2009 at 2:15 am
american_economy
Image by digital_monkeyvia Flickr

According to John A. Quelch and Katherine E. Jocz, no two recessions are exactly alike!  And for this reason, marketers find themsellves in poorly charted waters every time a recession rolls around.

Fear not!  They also say; “Guidance is available.”  The two have studied marketingsuccesses by Smucker, Proctor & Gamble, Anheuser-Busch… to name a few and they’ve studied failures throughout past recessions.  In fact, they’ve identified patterns in consumer and company behavior that strongly affect performance. 

Understanding consumers’ changing psychology and habits, they argue, will enable firms to hone their strategies so they can both survive the  downturn and prosper afterwards.

Consumers in a recession can be divided into four groups:

  1. The slam-on-the brakes segment, which feels the hardest hit, reduces all types of spending.
  2. Pained-but-patient consumers, who constitute the largest segment, also economize in every area, though less aggressively.
  3. Comfortablywell-off individuals consume at near pre-recession levels, but they become a little more selective and less conspicuous with their purchases.
  4. The final group, Live-for-today consumers, pretty much, carry on as usual, responding to the recession mainly by extending their timetables for making major purchases.

People may switch segments if their economic situations change for the worse.  All groups prioritize consumption by sorting products and services into the following categories:

  • Essentials (central to survival or well-being)
  • Treats (justifiable)
  • Postponables (can be put off)
  • Expendables (unnecessary or unjustifiable.)

As firms manage their marketing investments, they must simultaneously assess their brands’ opportunities, allocate resources for the long-term and balance their budgets.  Many make the mistake of cutting costs indiscriminately, which can jeopardize long-term performance.  Instead firms should streamline their production portfolios, improve the affordability of their offerings and bolster customer trust.

 

Source:  Harvard Business Review, April 1, 2009

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