Using Customer Focus to Build Long-Term Relationships Part 1

 Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Knowing how “Hot” your prospect is can be just the beginning. There are six types of prospects to know and identify that will be described in this article blog. 

It has been stated through research that 93 percent of people’s impressions of others are not directly related to what they say but how they say it. Understanding different personality types is critical to being successful in business and in any face-to-face contact with customers. Try understanding and recognizing the personality type of the person you are talking with at the show. The goal is to determine the prospect’s personality type so you can talk to the person based on how they receive information. People have been trying to figure out others for years. 

In 1928, a psychologist by the name of Dr. William Marston developed a DISC theory test to help identify people’s personalities and characteristics, and he used colors to associate the different personalities. 

Yellow = Influencer and Charismatic. 
Red = Dominant and Inspirational. 
Blue = Very Detailed and Methodical.
Green = Steady and a Team Player.

Then in the late 1970s, Dr. Gary Couture developed an easier way to remember the DISC classification, called the bird theory, that took the same concept, but simplified it by characterizing personalities into the four birds category – known as the peacock (yellow DISC color), the eagle (red DISC color), the owl (blue DISC color), and the dove (green DISC color).

It was much easier to recall the birds’ characters than the colors on the original DISC analysis test. The bird theory brought the practical sense to identifying people by their majority (80 percent dominant) “BIRD” personality.  There are many who teach personality systems in the world, but out of all the personality systems available in today’s market, I would have to say that the newly adopted Bird Theory by Tod Novak, CEO of the Tod Novak Group, is one of the best programs available for companies to use as a guideline for building customer relationships. 

Interaction with Different Personalities
Each of us has a primary personality type (80 percent), and a secondary personality type (20 percent). The goal is to determine the individual’s primary personality type within the first sixty seconds of meeting the person. Each person’s personality type can be recognized based upon how he or she acts, dresses, speaks, and moves. We must know our own personality type to communicate successfully.

Using the following information set out below, you will be able to soar through meetings with diverse participants to decide like an eagle; influence like a peacock; be a team player like a dove; and problem solve like an owl. 

Edgar Done, also known as the eagle or high D (red DISC color)
This is the individual who looks you straight in the eye and has a confident demeanor and firm handshake. His or her behavior pattern is controlling and very direct. This person is fast and decisive in his or her pace and their priority is the task or bottom line results. This person’s overall appearance is businesslike and powerful, and may not be seen in sweats unless working out at the gym or playing a sport. Their workplace is busy, efficient, and very structured. Their source of security is being in control and leadership. They fear being taken advantage of and his or her personal worth is measured by results, task record, and progress. Their internal motivator is winning, control, and being number one. Their strengths are delegating, leading, and inspiring others. Some weaknesses are that they may be perceived as insensitive and
impatient and dislike details.

A typical job for this personality type is CEO, president, or military leader. Irritations to this person would be inefficiency and indecision. Under stress, they become withdrawn and can be headstrong. Decisions may be dictatorial and this person may be perceived as being critical of others. Their motivation comes from productivity and bottom-line results.

When approaching someone that appears to be Edgar Done, or an eagle personality type, it may be better to talk in sound bites with metrics. This person likes bottom-line results
as to why he or she should purchase the product or service from a company. Most often, they are the decision maker. Use words such as “results” or “will save you time” and so on when talking to this person.

Emma Hope, also known as the peacock or high I (yellow DISC)
This is the individual who also looks you straight in the eye and has a confident demeanor and firm handshake. This person will be noticeable by appearance and style. Male or female, this person will be fashionable and trendy with the female having shoes and handbag that match or wearing something that is unique and stylish. The male will usually have starched jeans or pants and starched shirt and his shoes are fashionable. They are also a decision maker. This person’s behavior pattern is supporting and direct and their pace is fast and spontaneous. Their priority is developing a relationship and interacting with others. This is the person known as a “people”
person. His or her appearance is stylish and can sometimes be a little outrageous.

A typical job for this personality type is marketing, sales, bartender, or entertainer. This person’s workspace environment is stimulating, personal, and cluttered. Their source of security is social interaction and approval of others. His or her fear is loss of prestige. Their personal worth is measured through recognition, status, and number of friends with an internal motivator of the chase and being included on decisions. This person’s strengths are persuasion, enthusiasm, and the ability to entertain. However, weaknesses include being restless, ignoring details, and possibly lacking time management or discipline. Some irritations would include routine work and perfectionist people. Under stress, this person may be perceived as sarcastic or superficial and decisions are made spontaneously. 

Their internal motivator is having fun and receiving recognition from others. When approaching someone that appears to be Emma Hope, or a peacock personality type, it may be more to your advantage to talk in excitement and use voice reflection. This person likes interaction and excitement when he or she is talking and making a decision to purchase the product or service from a company. This person most likely will be a decision maker or at least an influencer to the decision maker. Use words such as “image,” or “will make you look good” or “feel good,” and so on when talking with
this person.

Alley McMate, also known as the steady dove or high S (green DISC)
This individual will have a slow and relaxed pace and may be dressed in compliance and wearing comfortable shoes. Style is not as important. This is the person who may not look you straight in the eye at first, is a little more reserved, and has a soft handshake. This person is a team player and most likely will not be a decision maker, but is usually the person that can put you in touch with the decision maker. His or her behavior pattern is supporting and direct and their pace is slow and relaxed with an appearance of being casual in compliance.

A typical job for this personality type is teacher, nurse, social worker, or administrative assistant, or executive assistant. Their workspace is personal, relaxed, and friendly. His or her source of security is friendship and support. This person’s fear is set in change; hence, known as the steady dove. He or she measures personal worth by depth of relationships and compatibility. His or her internal motivator is being needed and involved. Some strengths for this type of prospect are listening, teamwork, and follow-through. Some weaknesses may be that he or she may be oversensitive, slow to start, and occasionally have a lack of goal setting. This person is easily irritated by insensitive or impatient people such as Edgar Done (eagle) or Emma Hope (peacock). Under stress, this type of prospect becomes submissive to others and can be indecisive. They do not make decisions alone and his or her motivation comes from being accepted.

What I have not shared with you is what is known as the “attack dove.” The dove personality is complacent in nature and holds most everything inside. If you are to anger this type of person, you may not even know it. However, once they draw the line on how much they are willing to accept from a person, they just walk away. You may not ever know what you did to cause this disconnect, but it will be permanent.

When approaching someone that appears to be Alley McMate, or a dove personality type, it may be wiser to talk in a lower calm voice and not directly approach this person too quickly. This person likes interaction after getting to know, like, and trust you and the company. The person is not usually a decision maker and dislikes confrontation. Use words such as
“like,” “feel,” “relationship,” and so on when talking to this person.

Anita Job, also known as I – N E E D – A – JOB!
Shall I say any more? This individual is the person that stops by, looking for a job, and feels the best way to do this is through walking into a business or stopping by at the exhibiting company’s booth at a trade show.

Jay No-Way, also known as the “Walking Book of Knowledge”
We have all met this person. No matter what you say or do, this person knows everything and loves to challenge the words being spoken. Do not get into a confrontation with this person and
slowly transition into the exit strategy by handing this person a pamphlet or business card and thanking him or her for stopping by to visit with you at the office or while exhibiting in a trade show. This approach is also known as the disengage process.

Moe Lassis, also known as the conscientious owl or high D (blue DISC)
This individual may be dressed casually, will walk in a slow and orderly fashion and may not approach you at all if meeting this person in public. This is the prospect who may not make eye
contact with you at first, is very reserved, and may have a softer handshake. This person is more of a researcher and is gathering information. Having all the facts is most important to this type of individual. He or she is more personable one-on-one, but not in a group setting such as a trade show environment. This person’s personality is a little more analytical and he or she may also be considered an introvert. This person’s behavior pattern is controlling and indirect and his or her pace is slow and orderly with a proper and functional appearance. Their priority is the task or process of getting things done.

A typical job for this personality type is accountant, engineer, or computer technician. Their workplace is structured, functional, and proper. This person’s source of security is being prepared, paying attention to detail and fear criticism of their work. They measure their personal worth by precision, accuracy, and being busy. This person’s internal motivator is
competence and his or her strengths are planning and organizing, having numbers, and knowing the facts. Some weaknesses may include being a perfectionist and being critical of others.

Some irritations are disorganization and unpredictability. Under stress, this person may withdraw and become headstrong. Decisions are well thought out and he or she will not make a decision quickly. You will need to spend quite a bit of time answering many questions. This person is prepared to ask the questions so do not dismiss him or her too quickly. Their motivation is accuracy and information.

When approaching someone that appears to be Moe Lassis, or an owl personality type, it is best to also talk in a lower calm voice and not directly approach him or her too quickly. This person likes one-on-one interaction but not necessarily in a trade show environment where things move quickly. He or she is not usually the decision maker and is more of a fact-gathering
and information-gathering person.
When talking with this type of prospect, it is important to be sure accurate information is provided about the company history, facts, and figures. If not, this person may know
more than you do, as they have most likely researched your company before coming to your office environment or trade show or will after meeting you. Use words such as “statistics,” “history,” “facts,” and so on when talking to this person. “There is
definitely diversity in the work environment...”

Recognizing the general characteristics of people and using bird profiles in tandem with generational differences for effective communication is key to being successful in today’s market for building a long lasting relationship.

About DJ Heckes, Author of Full BRAIN Marketing and Owner of EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts

DJ Heckes is CEO of EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts and Full BRAIN Marketing .  She focuses on educating and training companies to significantly improve their Small Business Marketing strategies.  DJ Heckes also presents customized training programs for Business Marketing, Social Media, Leadership and Trade Show Marketing. Learn more  and  Be sure to follow us!

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
Full BRAIN Marketing

Grow Your Business With 5 Social Data Tips

 Monday, April 11, 2011
Social media enables you to match data created by social interactions with individual’s preferences and general interests. This gives marketers profiles with great insights on how to tailor future offers and products to their customer base. 

1. Listening Data 
The first rule of every social media plan is to listen. Monitoring news related to your industry helps give you a sense of what people are saying about you and your products or services. Social media enables you to expand this information and make it more relevant. 

You can gather real time data about the reactions to your products and marketing campaigns by looking at interactions on Facebook, retweets, mentions on Twitter and comments on your blogs. Measuring the volume, emotion and relevance of these interactions, and tracking over time, will allow you to determine how new products, services and campaigns were received by your customers. 

Using tools like Google Alerts and HootSuite allow you to monitor the basic volume of interactions. If you have a high volume and manual tracking is not possible, there are paid products such as Radian 6, Meltwater buzz and Scout Labs available. 

Companies like Dell and Gatorade have set up company “listening” centers where employees constantly interact and listen within social media about their brand. 

2. Strategic Forecasting Data 
Companies like RapLeaf allow you to identify your customer base by revealing key insights and trends about which social networks your customers are using as well as which websites they are visiting, location trends and demographic trends. 

Using this data will help you to hone your financial performance objections and also assist in product development. You can also use this information to tailor promotions for each social network and then track the revenue. Knowing this information about your customer base allows for more accurate targeting and the option of personalizing campaigns. 

3. Real Time Tracking Data 
Social media allows marketers to view relevant and real time trends, including how their campaigns are performing at any given time and how changes to these campaigns affect results. 

Tracking this data allows businesses to see how a campaign is performing and allows them to identify positive or negative trends and make instant changes as needed along the way. This ability enables your business to curtail any wasteful spending or funding if the campaign isn’t going as planned. 

4. Benchmarking Data 
Social Media allows you to understand your performance relative to your competitor’s performance, because so much of it is accessible. Once you have gathered your data, compare it to your competitors to gain a better perspective on your performance. 

When doing so, be sure to compare the size of your communities to that of your competitors, as well as the level of activity. Do your followers post more or less than your competitors? You can also see who is following you and your competitors and who has more relevant community members for your industry. 

If you are receiving either more or fewer interactions than your competitor, but posting the same amount of content, look at the differences in your content and what is driving the results. Don’t forget to account for competitors in each social channel you are active on and if possible, benchmark yourself against competitors that are active across multiple channels. 

5. Reflection and Insight 
No matter how prepared a company is, there is always a level of uncertainty in social media. The advantage to tracking services is that you won’t find yourself guessing why something worked or didn’t work. Customer feedback is significant and more readily available for companies looking to reformulate their efforts. 

By understanding the campaign through your consumer’s eyes and gaining the ability to gauge their evaluation process, social data can be an invaluable tool. How will you use this social data in 2011 to grow your business and eliminate the coming to a “dead end” scenario? Using metrics to “measure and adjust” provides a company the opportunity to evaluate and adjust the social media strategy as needed. 

This allows your social media efforts to be measured (quantifiable) with the belief that your efforts are working (succeeding). With these components being measured, you can purposefully iterate to improve even more. This data is much better that being a “naïve optimist” with limited ability to measure your social media efforts (fuzzy) and believing that the efforts are working (succeeding). 

Most businesses realize that social media is worth the effort, but are not quite sure how best to measure their efforts. I hope this information above helps you get started in your social media campaign and allows you to think strategically, while realizing that tactical measurements are also as important in whatever social media campaign strategy you have in place. 

How to Use Social Media to Enhance Customer Relations

 Monday, April 04, 2011
I recently watched a video of how Jennifer Love, Senior Vice President of Communications at H&R Block, uses Social Media to engage their customers and relationship build with consumers. They research where their consumers like to go such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Blog writing and want to touch their customers where they are currently talking. 

H&R Block has an active fan page of over 16,000 fans in Facebook. They use social media to posts tax tips, help consumers get ready for tax season, post what questions to ask tax advisors, and even if going it alone and doing their own taxes, they post how to prepare your own taxes and post helpful content to help people through the process. 

They find Twitter is a great early alarm system for them. They post comments for customers having challenges out there and have had several instances where customers had checked in on foursquare, started Tweeting on Twitter about their experience at the tax desk. If the consumer’s experience was not favorable, they are able to monitor and give the consumer to a different tax pro to ensure their tax experience is what H&R Block wanted it to be. They also use the consumer information to find out when one of their tax pros are not doing what is needed and use that information as a learning experience to train the tax pros and staff to become more customer service related for consumer needs. 

Twitter is a great example to use information for monitoring quick content, but be sure to invite a person offline that may be saying negative things about your company to resolve an issue one to one and not turn into a public conversation. H&R Block finds that 6 out of 10 people they invite off line goes back online saying “thank you” for helping them solve their issue. Be sure to protect the privacy of each consumer that you talk offline with. 

Since we all work, live and play in an instantaneous world, we need to have a mass adoption of social media. Social media is the wave to make things happen and respond timely as needed to manage your reputation online. Here are some great takeaway tips you can learn from H&R Block to adopt in your own business. 

  • Engage with customers on their channel of choice. When you engage with customers on their channel, then you have their attention, they feel comfortable and will respond better to your message. 
  • Use different tactics on Facebook, Twitter and on your blog. Post tips and advice on Facebook. Twitter is used as an alarm system to alert when there is customer service problems. It allows you to be able to respond quickly and move the conversation offline. Blogging is used to have experts answer one-on-one questions, along with getting advice and help. 
  • Share tips and helpful content as related to customer needs. By monitoring the conversations in social media, you are able to tailor your tips and advice posts to what your customers need. 
  • Create a one-on-one environment by assigning an expert for monitoring results. Having a dedicated person or full department (if a larger company) that monitors social media for issues and questions. Consider having experts readily available to answer such questions. 
  • Invite people to go off the grid to find solutions one-on-one. Be a good listener. Get to know the people you are conversing with and let them get to know you. Then they will be more likely to talk with you off of social media. (On average, (6 out of 10 of these people come back online to say how happy they are.) 
  • Be empathic - think about solutions and try a variety of different things. When people come to you in distress or with problems, offer a variety of solutions to solve the problem. 
  • Set up an internal social media hub. Have a social media savvy expert ready to respond to questions as they arise Set up a person in your company that has a lot of product and service knowledge or set up teams in each department with experts (if a larger company) so that when a problem arises, you have a quick and timely response ready. Set up a dashboard to be able to monitor conversations so you can be on top and react quickly. 
  • Determine how to improve the customer’s experience. Jennifer Love uses Radian6 to manage trending topics, know who has answered what and can follow up timely. This is a paid social media listening dashboard. Lots of corporations use it. 
  • Leverage generic answers to help thousands of people. Because people expect answers fast, be prepared with fact sheets and post answers to questions in easy to find places for more generic questions that arise.

Improve YOUR Public Relations Efforts to Create More Buzz

 Monday, February 28, 2011
Writing press releases can offer you the most influential publicity at affordable costs more than any other way of promotion. It is significant in this hyper-competitive environment we all live and work in and can be a vigorous advertising means for any business. The success behind effective PR is the way it is written and needs to serve as a good reading piece for your targeted media audience.

A press release can be used to announce a variety of information:

• Changes in corporate identity, such as company name or logo 
• Changes in corporate structure (new division or subsidiary) 
• Corporate opinion (opinion on industry trends)
• Corporate philanthropy (volunteer work, donations) 
• Events (open houses, tradeshow involvement, speaking engagements, award ceremonies) 
• Features • Hiring of agencies (public relations, accounting, law firm) 
• Increase in market share or revenue 
• Joint venture 
• Media advisories 
• Milestones (customers served, years in business) 
• New funding 
• New partner 
• New product 
• Personnel changes
• Round of funding received by the company 
• Significant new customer 
• Significant modification to an existing product 

If your press release does not contain breaking news, you may want to consider submitting your release as a feature distribution. Feature releases often get play in the "lifestyles" or "living" section of local newspapers and are designed for verbatim pickup. You can distribute your press release as a feature any day of the week or you can take advantage of topical packages from the distribution company. 

PR marketing work wonders if your PR hits the proper audience at the proper time. It is used to foster interest in products or services that you market through your business venture. Your PR news release can be used as a useful tool to make people aware of recent happenings, interesting events and new products or services that are launched by your company. However, PR should be written using these components: 

• Source – Location to send Press Release 
• Publication Date 
• For IMMEDIATE RELEASSE should appear in upper left-hand margin with all letters capitalized 
• Headline - Should include a strong hook in headline 
• Dateline - Should include a Dateline with the city your press release is issued and date 
• Lead Paragraph – A strong introductory paragraph that grasps the readers’ attention and should contain your most relevant  message to include the five W’s (who, what, when, where, why) • Body – develop a strategy story to support the Lead Paragraph 
• Company Boilerplate – A short paragraph that describes your company, products, services, history 
• By expert writers who know the formula of writing a purposeful news material. Your PR should be newsworthy and not like an  advertisement object of your company. 

Although press releases are an important marketing tool, some may not be relevant and have a great story to tell. Writing a press release is not a cup of tea for all, it needs proper skill and perfect expressions. If you do not have qualified skills to build the buzz about your story, then hire some expert press release writer who has innate qualities of constructing theme based news release. When writing your own Press Release, you must consider that your PR must attract editor's interest and it must also contain the essential news item information. 

Knowing when and how to write press releases for one’s company can be as overwhelming and confusing. 

Creating “buzz” can be defined as anything which makes people talk about your business! See below some suggested ways to use Public Relations to get more buzz/media coverage: 

1. Work with a designer or programmer to create a cute object that can animate your name, product, service, and at the end, give  your email, phone number, URL, etc.... This is a great way to use Buzz as a publicity stunt? 

2. Invent a new process, system, cycle, or technique for your product or service. Send out a Press Release for it. 

3. Invent a new word for your industry that is catchy. This actually WORKS!

4. Don't confuse Buzz with Hype. Hype is bull. Buzz is truth and builds excitement about something folks want to believe in. 

5. Negative Buzz is not necessarily good Buzz. Bad PR is still considered Bad PR, and no PR is just as bad. 

6. Sponsor something that is considered high tech, creative and wild. Protest something which has a majority favorable / positive  public response. Get your company branding up on a billboard, and bring a radio station, and do the show from 80 feet up. 

7. A continual flow of Press Releases to your target audience helps keep your brand in front of companies and creates a greater,  stronger 'Buzz'. It also helps if you can get an endorsement, by someone who is respected in the marketplace that you are  advertising. This does wonders for giving your 'Buzz' a boost. 

After you have newsworthy information to write about, be sure to use different outlets for your press release and information. It is important to know how to reach your target audience through traditional, digital or social media marketing methodologies. 
We use our website to post all Press Releases written and also send them out to the publication sites or use two of the national public relations press release distribution sites. 

Then I recommend go into your social media community to tweet about the press release with a link back to the landing page where the actual press releases resides. After you have tweeted about it, go into some of your LinkedIn Groups and create discussions about the topic to create more viral buzz around the topic. When that is working for you, go into Facebook and post the links with building awareness and comments in that community. Have you tried writing an article or blog and post the information about your story and submit the 700 words+ blog to many of the free online distribution sites? This also helps with the press release buzz. 

I have written many guest blogs on national sites and then written a press release about the guest blogs posted that focus on a story. See here for the March guest blogs that will be on the S.C.O.R.E. National website. 

1. The Powerful Match: Social Media and Online Content- March 7: < social-media-and-online-content/> 

2. Develop a Social Media Content Strategy with Metrics- March 14: media-content-strategy-with-metrics/ 

3. Create Meaningful and Effective Online Content- March 21: effective-online-content/ 

  4. 6 Ways to Improve Your Blog with Inbound Links- March 28: 
You can build a lot of buzz around your business IF you have a compelling story, innovative new way to do business or a new product and grow your business. All it takes is a strategic mind, a little work and a focus with metrics in place. 

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author 
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts 
Full BRAIN Marketing

Online Marketing Channels

 Monday, July 19, 2010
Often businesses can feel that integrating marketing (bridging traditional, digital, and social media marketing) can be as enormous as the Grand Canyon if not properly thought out, and can be an expensive process if not properly planned and measured. Yet if done to match the right message with the right audience, the payoff is valuable. Doing so takes strategy and time in the beginning.

I recommend taking a look at what has been done so far in evaluating your company’s overall internal systems and processes and also take a look at the external perceptions of the customers. This can be done by asking each customer how they heard about your company and why they do business with your company.  We do this within our own company and is a process for our employees when someone calls or walks into our showroom. Also using the competitive analysis discussed in earlier blogs will enable your company to gain valuable insight to what you are doing better or not doing well.

Evaluate the company’s Unique Selling Proposition, also known as USP and how that USP relates to what and how things are delivered to the customers. After this is accomplished, determine the best media to reach the target market segments. Is the target audience under thirty years of age? If so, this is the time to delve into social media as a main touch point to reach this target audience. 

If the target audience is between thirty and forty, it is a good idea to focus on digital marketing and social media. If the target audience is between forty and fifty-five, I suggest you use all three methods to reach them. There will be some in this group who appreciate social media, but most prefer the traditional and digital media. If the target audience is over fifty-five, then I suggest you pick up the phone and personally get to know this target audience or use direct mail to reach this customer.

Millions of customers converse on a daily basis in online communities, discussion forums, blogs, and social networks sharing opinions, advice, grievances, and recommendations. Are you listening, connecting, and responding in a way that protects and promotes your brand?

Find out how customers feel about your brand, product, or service – in their words. This is a great opportunity to listen to the customers at a time when there is so much to offer on the Internet. It has been said that traditional media is losing its face value and that the Internet is a fad and digital only applies to the millennium generation. While that may seem true, if you want to stay on the innovative cusp for your business, use both traditional and Internet media marketing. Here are some reasons why:

• Online conversations can power or deflate a company’s brand.  Do you have an online presence?

• Discover specific issues that are being discussed around your company, brand, or organization and create feedback to these issues.

• There may be events, trends, and issues that may be influencing industry and brand buzz that you can respond to online.

• You can measure how your online and offline marketing campaigns resonate with customers. 

• You will be able to leverage word-of-mouth to drive brand credibility, and ultimately sales, if you use face-to-face marketing, Internet marketing, search engine optimization strategy and social media strategy correctly. 

According to Nielson research, TV users watch TV more than ever before (an average of 127 hours, fifteen minutes per month) and these users are spending 9 percent more time using the Internet (twenty-six hours, twenty-six minutes per month) from last year. Approximately 220 million Americans have Internet access at home and/or work with a growing number using the Internet for research and social media.

Online marketing communications are moving toward interactions between individuals as recipients and consumers rather than being directed from a marketing organization to masses of
consumers.  It is now possible for individuals to be just as efficient in broadcasting information, both positive and negative, about a company or individual as it is for larger corporations to
promote themselves such as Comcast, Del and Southwest Airlines.  Companies that are using this form of communication online have been successful in responding to positive and negative cyber space information. The social networking that allows the quick and easy dissemination of information and misinformation is in part a product of change in online communication channels.  These communication channels are in part enabled by such social networking.

Knowing this research, traditional media entertains and communicates to a mass audience whereas digital media entertains, communicates with, and engages the individual. Digital media is known as digitized content (text, graphics, audio, and video) that can be transmitted over the Internet. The benefits of digital media can be highly measurable and marketers can often see a direct effect in the form of improved sales in addition to establishing a direct link with the customer. This can also be cost effective. However, the pitfalls of digital marketing can be that the medium is new, constantly changing, and evolving with results that vary. You often get what you ask for!

By engaging the customer, you can clearly define your audience and determine the best way to engage that audience (both traditionally and digitally). First, examine your budget and deliverables and set goals with measurable expectations. Engage the customers in conversation and always market in a way that truly connects with the customers and answers any questions they may have about your product or service. Use traditional and digital media to reach your mass targeted audience and invite them to be engaged via the Web. Leverage the Web to start conversations. This is where you can lose or gain the attention of your audience if done correctly. Engage the viewer for lead generation.

Some of the emerging issues from online marketing channels are-

1.    Integrated Marketing Communication

The concept of integrated marketing communications, also known as IMC, is relatively new over the past few years.  The general idea is that there are a wide array of media methods and channels for communicating with those outside of a company that a company needs to coordinate and centralize these activities over the long term in order to be effective. By mid-1990s, IMC was being described as an emerging concept and field, but was also perceived as one with a lack of any generally accepted definition or process for precedence. Prior to this time, it was noted that there was little discussion or description of what has now come to be called IMC and this term was considered to be a mere buzzword and now look at the reality.

2.    Social Media

The emergency and popularity of social networking and social media sites has made it easy for an individual to communicate in real time with thousands of total strangers being present online and conversations take place as if with a single close friend. Social networking Web sites have also been a great equalizer, making it just as easy for someone to build or break a marketing brand as for a large corporation-as well as making it easy for a large corporation to mimic a sincere "grassroots" individual who lacks corporate motives. A social networking Web site allows internet users the ability to add user-generated content such as  comments, feedback, ratings, or their own dedicated pages for allowing product users to post ratings, comments, opinions, and full reviews about products. makes it possible for anyone to edit information about a company or person, enabling a view that is not necessarily the official white-washed company version.

Social networking Web sites make it easy for anyone to spoof a person or company with a fake profile and fake messages with the objective of causing harm to the other party.   This can be harmful to person or company should this happen.

Social networking Web sites also allow anonymous attacks on the character of persons or companies. For example, there was an attorney working for Cisco, a computer networking business, who anonymously posted comments on a blog about a patent attorney.  A civil lawsuit alleging libel and slander was then filed. The patent attorney had been on the opposing side of the patent lawsuit. The Cisco attorney allegedly accused the patent attorney, along with another attorney and a federal clerk, of conspiring to alter a document.  Claims were made to having made the blog post with the knowledge and approval of his supervisor. He ultimately admitted his true identity after someone traced his Internet address and threatened to expose him (LaRowe, 2008).

The damage to the reputation of the recipient of such an attack can be long lasting if such posts are indexed and never deleted, yet the risk, along with financial and reputation cost, to the anonymous party making them is nearly nil. The results of such attacks could also be long lasting even if removed. 

This opens up a lot of ethics when posting things online.  Become familiar with, which is an online resource that provides ethical leadership to protect consumers and protect your brand.  It has best practices that help you become a better word of mouth “WOM” marketer with standards that improve impact and accountability.  This is a great organization to join.

From a marketing perspective, we are at a pioneering stage in understanding how online marketing works.  If you are new to online marketing, you may want to study how online
communication channels are emerging and how they might evolve in the future.  Some critical elements to become familiar with for online marketing infrastructure are core/technological, competitive/commercial and political/regulatory issues. 

DJ Heckes, Author & CEO
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
Full BRAIN Marketing

The Six Honest Serving Men That Never Lie (What, Why, When, How, Where and Who)

 Monday, July 12, 2010
Understanding customers is so important that large corporations spend millions of dollars annually on market research to gain this knowledge. Although formal research is important, a small business can usually avoid this expense. Typically, the owner or manager of a small business knows the customers personally, which is an added advantage. From this personal
foundation, understanding your customers can be built through systematic efforts. A comprehensive system for understanding is what Rudyard Kipling in his poem, “The Elephant’s Child,” called “I Keep Six Honest Serving Men…” and their names are What, Why, When, How,  Where and Who.


Find out the customers’ needs, as the common names of products mean as little to them as the chemical names on the label of a proprietary drug. A sick person’s real need is safety, speed, and
relief. Understanding your customers’ needs enables a company to profit by providing what buyers seek – satisfaction and results. Products change, but basic benefits like personal hygiene, attractiveness, entertainment, privacy and safety endure, as do commercial purposes such as quests for competitive superiority or profitability. Successful manufacturers, retailers, and service businesses produce benefits for which customers are willing to pay. In other words, successful businesses understand the reason for their customers’ buying decisions.

So why is it that so many businesses find it difficult to retain existing customers? Just how many product and service slip-ups does it take to send a customer packing? According to BIGresearch survey results, 17 percent of customers will bolt after a single service slip up. Another 40 percent will jump ship after two instances of poor product or service delivery, and 28 percent more will go out the door after three slipups. That’s 85 percent loss of customers due to service mistakes. So what do buyers really want from you? In order of priority, here’s what customers say:

Knowledgeable and Available Employees
Friendly and Cooperative Staff
Good Value
A Fast and Efficient Finish


Determining why customers choose one company over another is challenging. Customers themselves don’t always know. They may think they purchase from a business because the products or services are better than another’s, when in reality it’s something else. Perhaps they know, like, and trust the employee or salesperson that is the company spokesperson. Or maybe their business associate or friend mentioned it to them last week.

The reason customers buy is based on logic from “their point of view.” Understanding customers derives from this fundamental premise. Every customer has unique and individual goals, pressures, and purchase criteria. The astute business deduces and accepts the buying logic of customers and serves their customers accordingly. Sometimes the reasons customers buy are trivial. If customers feel indifferent toward a product or business, the selection is more apt to be happenstance. Perhaps several rival offerings meet all the conditions that a customer deems important. Consequently, minor factors will govern. This explains the rationale of the customer who chose a $28,000 car because its upholstery was most attractive. That’s how I decide between cars…upholstery and dashboard…what I see and feel while in it! Price is not the top consideration. 

The point is to pay attention to details. They may be crucial to customers. Shrewd businesses respect what customers say and pay special attention to what customers do. Just as important as why customers buy is why former customers take their patronage elsewhere. Also, why are qualified buyers not buying? What is keeping them from buying? Can this obstacle be surmounted? Companies should monitor competitive offerings and buyers’ reactions to determine purchase motivators. Informal conversations may also reveal some reasons. Special offers may overcome resistance and boost profits. Many factors affect why a customer will buy products or services from you rather than your competition. They may include:

Features and Benefits
Brand and/or Reputation
Word of Mouth


Many buying decisions from customers are postponed because there is not an emotional motivation for the product or service being offered. Timing is critical for the standard 3 to 5 percent buying cycle timeline for your customer. This is the time cycle percentage when customers are most likely ready to buy. The other 95 to 97 percent of the time, they are just shopping and do not have an emotional buy in.

When customers are ready to buy, be ready. A business must be ready to sell when the buyer is ready to purchase, lest an opportunity be irretrievably lost. Customers buy when they want an offering that is relevant to them and when they have time and money to purchase it. Buying patterns may often be discerned from an analysis of existing customers and their purchases. Look at the history of what existing customers have purchased. 

Many customers have limited time for shopping only during off hours, evenings, and on weekends. The transition from a single breadwinner per family to having all adults of a household engaged in commercial employment has intensified these time restrictions. Astute business retailers adjust their hours, staffing, and availability of merchandise and services to meet customers’ shopping convenience. Restaurateurs and bartenders know that business booms on paydays.

When marketing, timing strategies can benefit significantly from competitive analysis as previously discussed. Companies may want to consider adding and systematically refreshing information that captures what their competitors are offering. It may also be helpful to know when competitors make those offers and to which markets those offers are being made. This data can assist companies in knowing when to adapt the timing and cadence of their offers to either pre-empt or strategically react to their competitors’ offers. But, again, I want to emphasize the importance of not basing everything on price.


Customers make purchases to satisfy needs. These may be economic, physical, or emotional needs. Customers may perceive wants and needs to be the same. If customers need something, they want it. If customers want something, they need it. It is important to remember that needs and wants are not always generated by a problem that needs to be solved. Personal preferences and desires of customers play a large part in customer purchase decisions. It has been found that buyers generally behave rationally whenever buying decisions are made. Customers buy to gain the benefits of the products and services they find of interest. Customers usually expect to gain more than they give up. If customers do not think they are getting a good deal, you are not likely to close a sale. Both the buyer and seller have expectations to gain from every transaction. If both the customer and the business are not satisfied, then the sale is not likely to occur.

To sell anything, whether in a retail store environment or on the Internet, you have to understand the typical steps that your customer will take before handing over hard-earned cash.
This process entails four steps:

1.    Recognition of problems or needs
2.     Information Research for a solution to a problem or need
3.    Examination of alternatives and buying decision
4.    Purchase evaluation of decision to purchase


Whatever location is chosen for a company, make an effort to become familiar with the habits, likes, and dislikes of your customers. Find out the median household income or business revenue of the area. These statistics are usually available from a local government agency or you can often find this information on the Internet. Next, find out how many cars visit nearby retail stores or businesses or drive by your location on the major thoroughfare.

Ask yourself questions. “Why do people visit this particular business district? Does it contain businesses that will attract the same customers I am targeting?” Consider a location near a busy
intersection or heavy traffic area.

When choosing a location for your business, demographic information will provide the first clues if you are not familiar with the businesses and culture of an area. Examples of this data could reveal that 40 percent of the businesses in the area have business owners under the age of forty, have been there less than two years, work sixty hours a week, and may earn over $100,000 a year. Or that a large percentage of the businesses around you are in the infancy stage of business and are not your probable customer. Location is extremely important to “captive” buyers. If a company is easy to get to and is well branded for location, a customer will stop by on the way to work, at lunch, after work, or even take part of the day to come visit.


Not everyone is your customer and it is sometimes difficult for small business owners to acknowledge this. However, when they do, they can best advertise and market to their target customer. While you can’t win all the customers all the time, you can win with a certain demographic when you create a unique niche for yourself using decor and special catalog items that satisfy your chosen group of customers.

There are many ways to acquire information and they all involve research. Before you gather information to make your marketing easier, ask questions and really listen to the words and body language of the answers. It is good to know who is buying and why. Understanding people’s motivations makes it far easier to appeal to them with marketing messages and keep
them, and others like them, happy. Train the company employees to ask leading questions and report findings of what customers want. 

Manufacturers and suppliers of your products keep up with the industry and have a vested interest in seeing you grow, so tap into their expertise too. Another consideration in profiling a customer is to understand who influences the purchase decisions. These are the people who will: 

1.    Initiate the inquiry of your product or service
2.    Influence the decision to buy
3.    Decide which product or service to buy
4.    Permit the purchase to be made (Sometimes the decision maker is this person, but the decision maker – like a CFO – will sign the paperwork after other pertinent members of the buying cycle have submitted their recommendations.)

As has been shown, understanding of customers enables a company to increase sales and revenue. This same understanding can equally serve to reduce costs. Higher sales at lower costs inevitably boost profits. A small firm that understands its customers can buy or produce exactly  what they want – and nothing else. The company’s sales effort is efficient because it builds on why its customers want to buy and not on why others buy, or why the vendor wants to sell.

Overall, it may be your service – not your price – that dictates whether or not you secure customers for the long term. If you give customers what they want, the way they want it, when they want it, and follow through with a fast finish in the end, you are much more likely to turn those customers into satisfied repeat customers.

DJ Heckes, Author & CEO
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
Full BRAIN Marketing

Understanding How Your Customer Thinks

 Monday, July 05, 2010
Each of us uses the principles of psychology every day and probably don’t even realize we are doing it. For example, when we get nervous right before giving that big speech, we activate our autonomic nervous system. When we talk to ourselves in our minds, telling ourselves to “calm down,” “work better and harder,” or “give up,” we are utilizing cognitive approaches to change our emotions and behaviors. When a child is disciplined for doing something wrong, we utilize the learning principle of punishment. What is so important about understanding human emotions, behavior, and the mind of what we learn in most required college courses in Psych 101? What advantage does this knowledge lend itself to a business professional?

It is simple-psychologists not only spend their time helping people with their problems, they perform research to better understand why people react and behave the way they do. Industrial-organizational psychologists work with companies and organizations to determine ways to make them more productive and to improve relationships in the workplace. We use the same principles of psychology every day to determine who the target audiences are for our own business. 

Who Are Your Customers, Really?

Here are critical characteristics to help you understand who your customers are.

1.    Behavior

These are variables such as benefit sought, consumer attitude, loyalty rate, occasion, readiness stage, user rate and user status,  They include amount of purchase, cost, frequency of purchase, loyalty, time of year, time involved in purchasing decision, and where customers purchase the product.

2.    Demographic

These are the basic identifiable characteristics of individual consumers and organizational consumers and groups of consumers and organizational consumers. Demographics are often used as “segmentation” bases that define groups of people or organizations, with similar demographics that often have similar needs and desires that are distinct from those with different backgrounds. These include: age, education level, family size, gender, income level, marital status, occupation, race, religion, and other pertinent information.

3.    Geographic

This describes the basic identifiable characteristics of cities, countries, regions, states, and towns. One or a combination of these factors such as climate, competition, cost of living, density, growth pattern, legislation, location, media, operations, size, and transportation network may comprise for an identifiable location.

4.    Psychographic

These are any attributes relating to attitudes, interests, lifestyles, personality or values. They are characteristics like experience brand loyalty, family life cycle, innovativeness, lifestyle, opinion, perceived risk, personality and motives, social class, and usage rate that determine how a customer thinks of themselves relative to others.

5.    Linguistic

This is the way language varies in the communities of customers. This is where you look in particular at the interaction of social factors (such as a age, degree of integration into their community, ethnicity, gender, etc) and linguistic structures (such as grammatical forms, intonation features, sounds, words, etc). They also include key words, key phrases, misspellings, along with regional differences in spelling and pronunciation.

How do you know who your target customers are? How well do you really know them? Do they browse and buy on impulse or buy only what they need and want? Does the customer shop alone or with coworkers, friends, and family (who might influence their purchases)? Are they brand loyal? Do they shop online or just research on the Web to find the best price? And how much money do they have to spend? Understanding how your target audience thinks before buying is key. Making money in a small business is important, but truly understanding the customer’s way of thinking will make or break business growth.

How aware are customers of your brand or business compared to your competition? First, identify how the customers know about you. The prospective customer is made aware of your product or service through: 

• Advertising
• Face-to-face marketing
• Reading a review or article of your company
• Referral from a friend or colleague
• Search engines
• Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more)
• Trade shows and events
• Viral marketing

Over the past decade, Web sites are an integral part of marketing success. Customers visit Web sites to get a sense of what a business is about and learn as much as they can about the product or services being offered. Content on a Web site should build trust or the prospective customer will quickly leave and never return. In doing this, a Web site should answer questions that the consumer has, and have content written for them and not just about who you are, what you do, and how you do it. Having a “call to action” on every product or service page helps visitors know how to proceed to the next step.

If you are offering a reasonably high-priced product or service on the Web site, the prospective customer will make contact with the company by e-mail, live chat (if offered), phone, social media, and text (if offered). This contact may be to get a genuine question answered, but is an important stage for the trust-building process. Customers want to know whether there are real people behind the Web site visited. How quickly will they get a response? How well will their question be answered? Do you understand what they want? Are you listening to their questions and concerns?

Today’s customers are active in and informed about the buying process. They conduct Internet research to see what OTHER people are saying about you, your products or services, and your business. You have no control over what will be found. If the majority of articles, blog posts, comments, reviews and testimonials (written or video), are positive, this will greatly increase the chance of getting a sale.  If the majority of information found is negative, you can almost certainly kiss that future customer good-bye. To be in the race, a company’s Web site with products and services needs to be highly visible on the Internet. The content on a Web site has to build trust with the visitors. If someone visits a company’s Web site, they expect a prompt and courteous response that shows professionalism to all queries. Your reputation on the Internet must be positive and the products or service offered MUST be of quality. These points can be boiled down into understanding how your brand and reputation are created on the Web. The formula is simple.

Web Presence/Credibility + Product Quality + Support = Reputation/Brand

If these three elements are not in place, businesses will struggle to have a long-term future. If they are all in place, along with having a good online reputation, your business can grow rapidly through word of mouth. Finally, the customer has done the research and brings together everything he or she has learned and makes a decision. The choices are:

• Buy your company’s product or service
• Buy a competitor’s product or service
• Buy nothing and stay on the fence about the buying decision which usually means the customer did not get an answer to a need.

Understanding customers is so important that large corporations spend millions of dollars annually on market research to gain this knowledge. Although formal research is important, a small business can usually avoid this expense. Typically, the owner or manager of a small business knows the customers personally, which is an added value advantage. From this personal foundation,  understanding your customers can be built through systematic efforts such as processes in which to respond to customer queries, automated responders that are sent out and a telephone call follow up process in place and the like.

DJ Heckes, Author & CEO
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
Full BRAIN Marketing

You Have the Competitive Data – Now What?

 Monday, June 28, 2010
Using the information discussed in prior blogs written in May starting from Your Competitive Advantage Edge! through Tracking Your Strategy-The Writing on the Wall will provide valuable information that will allow you to have a complete understanding of a competitive analysis that will give solid insight into ways to increase targeted market share.

When compiling data for a market size, it should consist of the number of potential customers in the target market who meet your demographic study discussed earlier. This information, updated annually rather than monthly, is a comprehensive demographic study of your potential probable customer.

To gather the data for market growth, consider the average frequency of purchases for your type of product or service. Unless you have great market research that is readily available, estimate this information based on knowledge of the markets and common sense. In the exhibit industry, I would want to know how often my customer purchases an exhibit item and what they purchase in order to determine this demographic information. 

The next step is gathering market potential based on the first three steps in looking at your marketing exposure. Does your marketing reach someone in the target market? If so, the potential buying customer is exposed to your marketing message. 

“Now that key marketing indicators have been created, it is time to use metrics and evaluate information.” A great example is a direct mail piece that has been mailed to five thousand people. This would equate to creating five thousand exposures if all the addresses were known and correct. If done twice a year, there would be a creation of ten thousand exposures. Additionally, if an advertisement is run in the local business paper or magazine that reaches fifteen thousand of your target market customers, then you have created twenty-five thousand total exposures. If you continue to circulate twenty-five hundred newspaper inserts per week for four weeks, that would be another ten thousand exposures for a grand total of thirty-five thousand exposures to the target market potential customers.

This process is another form of lead generation. A lead is any person who has expressed interest in your business or its products and/or services by walking into your store or showroom, submitting an e-mail, responding to a direct mail or viral marketing piece, making a telephone inquiry indicating interest in your product and/or service, or filling out a call to action form on your Web site responding to a product and/or service inquiry. A lead is more valuable than a random member of the target market because the lead exhibited a motivation to buy and an interest in your product. 

By the time these leads to sales are converted, sales information was most likely collected. For the purpose of tracking the marketing strategy, you will need the exact number of sales transactions and the number of leads generated to calculate the true lead conversion rate (i.e., leads = appointments = presentations = closure = percent close ratio).

When compiling sales dollar totals, find this on the business financial statements or in sales reports in your accounting program. This information represents one type of marketing data most people can find fairly well, but having a true understanding is key to building a strong and financially stable business. Now that key marketing indicators have been created, it is time to use metrics and evaluate information. This allows you to keep informed of what the quantification efforts are for determining the accurate, objective, and ownership point of view of the business rather than the usual collection of random numbers with personal impressions on which most small business owners rely. This also allows you to know what the business is doing and what to do about it. It also allows a business to adapt to change because they are aware of business strategies and using metrics for quantifying the data.

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

DJ Heckes, Author & CEO
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
Full BRAIN Marketing

Tracking your Strategy – The Writing on the Wall

 Monday, June 21, 2010

The writing on the wall, sometimes referred to as the handwriting on the wall, is an expression of doom or misfortune. This expression originated out of the biblical book of Daniel where the supernatural writing foretold the demise of the Babylonian Empire. This phrase is widely used when warnings are clear, but one fails to take action. For example, when a company tracks the market size, market growth, market potential, and market coverage to determine what lead generation avenues should take place and then fails to track lead conversions and measure – they should beware! The writing may be on the wall! This does not have to happen if key marketing indicators have been put in place and measured along every marketing journey step.

Getting Started is About the Process

A great way to look at the key marketing indicators is to understand whether your marketing strategy is working or not. Evaluate the sales revenue in relation to the key marketing indicators listed below. If sales are up, it is working. If sales are down, it is not.

These indicators are the financial and non-financial measures or metrics used to help a business define and evaluate how successful it is. These are great indicators to measure the long-term company goals. Performance indicators such as these differ from business drivers and goals. While a school may consider the failure rate of its students as a key marketing indicator that 
may help the school understand its position in the educational community, a business may consider the percentage of income from return customers as a potential key marketing indicator to measure. When putting something like this in place, it is necessary for a company at least to identify the key environments for the key strategic indicators, which are:

1.   Having a predefined business plan or process 

2.   Knowing the requirements for the business plan or processes 

3.   Having a quantitative and qualitative measurement of the results and comparing with 
set goals 

4.   Investigating variances and tweaking processes or resources to achieve short-term goals

Some example key marketing indicators could be:

•     Customer-related numbers:
               - New customers acquired
               - Status of existing customers
               - Customer attrition
•     Turnover generated by known and evaluated marketing segments of the customers – these could also be demographic filters 
•     Outstanding balances held by marketing segments of customers and established terms of payment – these could be demographic filters 
•     Collection of bad debts within value-based customer relationships
•     Demographic analysis of individuals (potential customers) filling out applications to become customers, and levels of approval, rejections, and pending numbers
•     Delinquency analysis of account receivables
•     Profitability of customers by demographic segments – segmentation of customers by profitability 

Categorizing key marketing indicators (also known as key performance indicators) can prove expensive or difficult for some companies. For example, staff morale is difficult or near impossible to quantify. Often a business will research another business with a similar background and use the information as a benchmark to compare targets or standards to measure against. Some well-defined indicators listed on the previous page may be then summarized and put into subcategories.

•     Quantitative indicators – presented as a number or statistic 

•     Practical indicators – interface with existing company plans and processes

•     Directional indicators – specify if the company is getting better or not

•     Actionable indicators – the ability of a company to control or affect change

•     Financial indicators – performance measurements used when looking at financial data

Another example of some more defined key marketing indicators:

Market Size: Target market population
Market Growth: Target market changes
Market Potential: Business available from the Target Market with a maximum dollar value.
Market Coverage: Effective marketing activites that reach the Target Market.
Lead Generation: Quantity of motivated potential buying customers and the % of Target Market.
Lead Conversion: Quantity and the % of leads converted to sales.
Market Share: Market share of business in the Target Market.
Average Sales: The dollar amount of each average sale.
To be effective in the marketing strategy research, measure this information monthly and commit to consistency. Doing this more often may skew the information. There are too many daily variances to get a clear picture and understanding of the underlying dynamics of your market and business practices if you look at the information on a daily or weekly basis.

Monitoring the information above will tell you what is and is not working in the marketing strategy. You will know if the market is growing or decreasing and discover how much business is out there for you and the competitors. You will know if the advertising and other integrated marketing communications are bringing in sufficient numbers of qualified leads for potential buying customers. You will be able to determine if the market coverage needs to be increased or not and if your salespeople are effectively converting leads into customers. You will understand the trends of the business and will be able to spot areas that need more attention.

DJ Heckes, Author & CEO
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
Full BRAIN Marketing

Make Money by Donating Your Time or Resources!

 Monday, June 14, 2010

Many companies focus so much on how to build revenue that they lose sight of how to make revenue through giving back to the community and building an awareness campaign or through donating to a cause for awareness to build revenue.

When making business decisions of how to thrive in a downturn or stalled economy, be sure to focus on giving back to the community and creating awareness of how your company supports causes. Brand your company as a full resource center to help businesses stay profitable in a downturn or stalled economy. Be the resource for services others no longer have staff to support. Listen to the customers, walk in their shoes, and develop a marketing message and overall company strategy to meet customer needs.

One thing my business has done in the local community is implement an annual EXHIB-IT! B2B Networking Event. This event started with the grand opening of our new location on June 11, 2008. The grand opening turned into a large networking event with over four hundred  attendees, including many of the local chambers, organizations, political officials, and business owners in the community. In turn, we gave away a FREE exhibit display valued at $1,200 to a selected nonprofit organization and unveiled the giveaway at the event. This event was such a success because of the marketing strategies implemented. Since that time, we have incorporated an annual branded EXHIB-IT! B2B Networking Event that is marketed as the “Pay It Forward” community service event. We solicit nonprofits to fill out an application which is reviewed and judged for one of the applicants to receive a free display. See link:

We ask the nonprofit organizations to set out their overall marketing strategy and how the new exhibit display would benefit their nonprofit organization. The applications are judged by different off-site organizations, and one nonprofit is selected as the winner of the display each year based on the criteria set out in the application. In 2009, we expanded our community commitment by adding a silent auction at the event with donations from various businesses around the state, with all the proceeds donated to a selected nonprofit organization each year. This has garnered both local and national press for the nonprofit organizations as well as our company.

This is one example of how to become more involved in your community, show that you are truly connected to your community, and be known as a pay it forward leader. This not only shows a true commitment, but it also demonstrates sustainability and that you can grow your business network. As you apply the principles presented in this book, you will learn to be a marketing innovator as well and when people experience the difference they will refer business to you and your business growth will pick up.

The biggest DO in marketing for the small business is to get a strategy in place to drive sales, profits, and growth. It’s a blanket answer that applies to any business, anytime, anywhere. When the buyers of your products and services are really struggling, it becomes even more apparent that your marketing efforts need to have pinpoint accuracy in terms of who you are talking to, what you are talking about, and when to get them to pledge their patronage and loyalty to your brand and not somebody else’s brand.

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