How to give stuff away for profit!

I was just talking to a group of enlightened entrepreneurs who are refusing to lie down and suffer the consequences of the economic downturn. One of their crunch-busting techniques is as old as the hills, but they’ve recently refined it to an art form.

It’s called giving stuff away!

You know the lovely warm feeling when you pull on a pair of jeans you haven’t worn for ages and find a ten pound note (ten dollar bill for you Yanks…) in the pocket? And don’t those free deli samples in Sainsbury’s/Walmart taste so much better than the same thing you actually buy?

Well, that’s how your customers feel when they get more than they are expecting from you.

So, imagine how your prospects will respond to your marketing when they receive a free gift – without even making a purchase!

Giving “more” is a simple, inexpensive way to instantly improve your relationship with both customers and prospects.

Ideas for gifts… that cost you nothing!

1: Free reports, info packs, fact sheets and market analysis: these can all be made available online or by email to really slash the costs of delivery.

2: Newsletters: regular info and offer-packed communiqués to your database of prospects and customers.

3: Industry specific freebies: appeal to who you’re trying to sell to: recipes, sports tips, discount coupons, travel guides.

4: Trial offers: get them using your products for free and they’ll often need or want to continue and pay.

5: Buy one, get one free: this really does cost you nothing, providing your gross margin is more than 50%!

Ideas for gifts… that cost you a small amount

1: Company-branded items: hats, water bottles, mouse pads, pens etc

2: Non-related materials: stuffed animals, chocolates, alcohol, sports tickets

3: One of your products or services at no cost to them

4: Rewards for referrals or recommendations

5: Calendars and diaries: clichéd, corny, but nothing lasts a whole year like something with 12 months of dates on it!

The return on your “gift” investment could be worth thousands of pounds/dollars in sales. Make that extra effort and give your customers more than they are expecting.

Now I’m going to give you something free, with no strings attached!

Simply add a comment to this post telling me why you need a 30-minute mentoring session with Jonny Cooper! We can talk about your business plans, goals and issues. Yes folks, a complimentary half-hour of power with me via Skype or phone! I look forward to talking to you. Jonny.

 

Let’s try the most useless opening line EVER!

A friend of mine has a small business selling blinds to homes and workplaces. He said a few weeks ago that he’d had a new colour brochure done and was going to post it out to around 200 of his past customers.

I told him he would multiply his hit-rate maybe 10-fold if he followed up with chaser phone calls, and he set about his campaign.

I met him again over the weekend and asked him how things were going.

“Waste of time!” he blurted. “Something wrong with the post!” he continued. “Hardly anybody got their brochures!”

He’d sent them out as planned, and then starting calling around, using the opening line – “It’s Craig here from Acme Blinds” (names changed to protect the stupid) “Just wondered if you got the brochure we sent out last week”

NOT CRAIG, YESTERDAY

Hmmm…Craig, you just used the most useless opening line in the history of useless opening lines! Here’s why, mate -

1- The only people who need to know whether a piece of post has arrived or not are customer service researchers at the Royal Mail.

2 – If the customer answers no (he hasn’t received it) he’s either lying to stall any further conversation (most likely), or you have his address wrong. Either way, it leaves you with next-to-no chance of recovering to a selling situation.

3 – If the customer answers yes, where does that leave you? You’ve then got to hit him with another question to move the call forward; usually “so…was it of interest then?” He’s probably already rehearsed the answer to that one, and it’s the one you’re expecting.

4 – Asking a “yes-or-no” question as an opening line is, always has been and always will be a pretty lame idea.

“Craig” could have supercharged his chances of success with this kind of pitch –

“…as you’ve been a customer of ours before, I wanted to let you know about a great deal we’ve got on at the moment: [Insert short, sharp, sexy info-hook] I can pop over Tuesday morning or Thursday afternoon to work out some prices for you…which would be better?”

An either/or question with an assumptive close built-in is a really powerful way to get what you want – in this case, a face-to-face appointment with the prospect.

And about that brochure – they definitely received it; it had either warmed them up nicely or they’d already thrown it away!

For a free one-hour business mentoring session with Jonny Cooper worth £175, leave a comment on this post below saying why you need and deserve it!

4 reasons you can’t afford a McLaren sportscar (And why you really, really should)

I’m writing this on St George’s day, a celebration of all things English, and I’ve just been driving the sublime blend of art and science that is the Surrey-built McLaren MP4-12C, the latest hypercar to come from Lewis Hamilton’s employer.

It won’t surprise you to hear that it’s supremely fast, beautiful and obsessively desirable.

Another thing you probably already know is that you won’t be driving one off the forecourt anytime soon. Isn’t it about time you thought about why the 200 or so McLarens built for the home market in 2012 will belong to someone else, and not you?

Hint: It’s not because the MP4-12C is too expensive.

Far from it; given the amount of time, expertise, creativity and engineering genius that’s gone into crafting this 205mph British icon, it’s a positive bargain at £186k.

No, it’s most likely the flip side of “too expensive” that’s stopping you adding your name to one of the UK’s most exclusive waiting lists.

It’s because you’re not earning enough money yet. 

If you’ve chosen your path as an employee: an important cog in someone’s larger machine, then fair enough. Your country, and your employer needs you, and your rewards are likely to be other than massive piles of spare cash.

However, if you’ve taken the plunge into business, with all the responsibility, liability and downright stress that comes with that territory, then don’t you reckon you deserve a £200k car every couple of years?

Here are 4 reasons why you can’t afford your McLaren (yet) –

1 – Your business plan is too modest. (You do have a business plan. Don’t you?)

Solution – Revise your goals with some blue-sky thinking. How good could you be?

2 – Your marketing plan is ineffective. (You do have a marketing plan. Tell me you do.)

Solution – Get coaching, mentoring or practical help from marketers with proven success. NB – Social Media can be a magic bullet to linking you with customers.

3 – You’re doing everything yourself. If the business is YOU, and YOU are the business, then how do you expect to earn any more than any other single employee?

Solution – Step back, delegate, and expand whilst you oil the machine you’ve made with other people’s cogs.

4 – You don’t enjoy your business. Maybe the novelty’s worn off, and you’ve got bored and aren’t giving your best. Or maybe the market’s changed so much that it’s no fun anymore.

Solution – Recruit an exit strategist to groom the business for sale, and move on with cash in your pocket (Preferably, at least £186k!)

I reckon anyone with the drive and enthusiasm to start their own venture deserves rich rewards.

Don’t settle for less.

For a free one-hour business mentoring session with Jonny Cooper worth £175, leave a comment on this post below saying why you need and deserve it!

(PS – If you’re already where you need to be, call David Tibbetts, the sales director himself at McLaren Birmingham on 01564 787 180 and tell him I sent you. Nothing in it for me, but it’ll let him know it was worth giving me the ride today)

Jonny

 

 

5 reasons too much choice sucks!

I recently finished uploading my venerable CD collection to my ipod so I can play what I want in the car. Proud as I was of being able to carry 8150 songs around in my glove box, I was startled to hear my girlfriend complaining.

“Too much on here” she whined, “I can’t decide what to listen to!” I had to concede that she had a point, and one well worth carrying over into the commercial realm.

Just when is enough enough, and when does too much choice start to repel your customers?

I’ve had contact with a number of businesses recently which are proving that they don’t need to be all things to all men in order to succeed.

One of my clients sells a walking shoe specifically designed to improve posture and back pain, and claims to reduce cellulite. With that one product, she turned over £600k last year.

Then there’s the “one-deal-a-day” websites like http://woot.com which has gathered an almost cult following. There are plenty more jumping on this easy-to-grasp bandwagon, all offering customers’ one simple choice – take it or leave it!

In a world dominated by multi-national conglomerates, the best chance for an SME is to own a large share of a market niche. Here are 5 reasons why you should focus your business on a simple range of offers –

1: Experts get paid more. If your roof leaks, you’d sooner give £2000 to a roofing contractor than a general builder.

2: Simplify marketing. One clear brand message carries a lot more weight, and is cheaper to promote, than a long list of products and services.

3: Improve cashflow. If you manufacture or sell a range of tangible products, customers expect you to stock them all. The fewer you offer, the less space and working capital you need.

4: Competitors become friends. Your niche offering will conflict with fewer of your rivals, so they can recommend you to customers to compliment their business.

5: Get more referrals. If there are not many of you in your field, customers will be much more likely to pass you around to anyone else they meet who needs you.

As for my ipod; I’m going to get a smaller version and download a few hours of my favourites – any more is just too much!

Jon Cooper is the founder of JupiterDawn.com business coaching, and an Accredited Business Adviser with the IBD group. Exclusive to BLOG READERS – email jon@jupiterdawn.com for a free one-hour business mentoring session with Jon, worth £175.

Jonny Cooper: Your greatest asset can’t be bought, so don’t give it away!

It’s been a week full of raucous excitement and non-stop activity; from securing two major new clients and 2 days gigging with my best band buddies, to planning an Easter surprise and a trans-Atlantic summer trip, it seems as if every available minute has been fully spent.

In fact, the last 7 days reminded me of a parable told to me by one of my earliest mentors, a wise old sage charged with coaching me and 20 other eager students in the principles of business, back in the late…well, quite some time ago anyway!

He asked us to imagine having a bank account with £86,400 in it. The catch is: every night, the bank claims back whatever part of the balance you didn’t spend during the day.

Next morning though, there’s another £86,400 sitting in your account, ready to use.

Is there anybody who wouldn’t soon learn to draw out every penny, every day?

Well, we all have an account like that; it’s called TIME! Every day you have 86,400 seconds available to spend. Each evening, when the bank cancels every second you didn’t use, it’s lost forever.

The loss is yours. There is no going back, and there is no dipping into tomorrow’s.

In case you don’t fully appreciate the value of time, think about this: if you’re 30 today, you’ve probably got about another 1,300 million of these little credits left, in total. That’s not so many, when you’re spending more than 31 million a year!

Ask a student who failed his finals how much a year is worth; the mother of a premature baby the value of a month, or the editor of a weekly newspaper how much he values 7 whole days!

If you think a minute is pretty worthless, try getting to the station sixty seconds after the train left, or ask a motorist who just near-missed a head-on collision what value he would now place on that last second.

So, like I did last week, you should treasure every moment of this precious, irreplaceable life and fill it with fun, fulfilment and your favourite people.

Jonny’s ten ways to avoid result-free meetings

Have you ever been in a meeting and wondered “what am I doing here?”, or worse still, “what is this for…why is anyone here?”?

If you have, chances are you will have been a participant in one of those all-too-common business gatherings which produce no useful outcome: the Result-Free Meeting.

Here’s Jonny’s top 10 tips to power your powwows and add get-up-and-go to your get-togethers!

1: Clarify the purpose of the meeting to all attendees. Make it clear what needs to be achieved and why.

2: Produce an agenda of no more than 5 items, and circulate to all invitees at least 48 hours in advance. This should allocate time to each item, and should not include an “Any other business” line. AOB encourages waffle, and distracts from any clear outcome you are trying to achieve.

3: Set personal objectives for the meeting beforehand. These need not be openly shared, but knowing what you need to achieve from the event will help to focus your input.

4: Don’t invite more than 5 people, plus you. Research shows that meeting effectiveness declines exponentially in inverse proportion to the number of attendees over six.

5: Encourage commitment by setting preparation tasks for your colleagues. They will be much more likely to support your objectives if they have already spent time working towards them beforehand.

6: Take minutes; preferably on a template, by hand or electronically. Arguing later over who said what, and over what was decided, is almost worse than not having a meeting at all.

7: Agree action points for every delegate to achieve following the meeting, and circulate to all within 48 hours.

8: Set a date for the next meeting, if any.

9: Critique effectiveness as a group before disbanding. Discuss what went well, and what could be improved next time you need to meet.

10: Don’t meet if a conference call, email, memo or intranet posting will do the job just as well. Your group will respond best when you impose on the smallest amount of their time, plus they will respect meetings more when they know you only call them when really necessary.

Have a question you’d like Jonny Cooper to address? You can submit it by either adding a comment to this post or by e-mailing it to jon@jupiterdawn.com

The 5 secrets of getting past the gatekeeper…

So, you’ve got a brilliant product or service which blows all your competitors out of the water. Not only that, but you’ve priced it so well that your customers are never going to say no! If only you could get to them to tell them about it…

I’ve recently been working with a large organisation which sells vending machines to businesses throughout the UK. They were concerned that their telesales team had recently been connecting to decision makers less and less frequently.

As anyone who’s ever tried to sell by phone will know, many of your potential customers are surrounded by a human firewall, a virtual moat manned by PAs and receptionists charged with one simple task – to protect their executives from the white noise of uninvited sales calls.

Here’s a plan we put together, designed to overcome this perennial dilemma.

1: Call the company, and ask for the sales department, rather than the named decision maker. You will always be put through. Aim: Avoid immediate rebuttal from gatekeeper.

2: Explain to the salesperson that you’re in sales, just like they are, and you’d appreciate a little help. Aim: Get them to identify with you and open up.

3: Ask them who they currently use for supply of your product or service, and how they feel about that current supplier. Aim: Research the company’s need for change.

4: Ask who the decision maker would be where your product or service is concerned. Always ask for their direct extension number, so you “don’t have to bother them again” Aim: Enable contact with your buyer without risk of being blocked at the switchboard.

5: Contact the decision maker directly at their desk and mention your previous conversation with sales, where they suggested a need for your product or service. Aim: Create a perceived referral from someone else in the company.

We found that this approach increased direct conversations with decision makers by over 40%, and produced a call-to-appointment ratio 32% higher over the next quarter.

Of course, any aspirations to those kinds of improvements assume that your telesales personnel already display the essential attributes of honesty, integrity, credibility and humour, and possess a gentle yet persuasive phone manner.

Add any comments or questions, or e-mail Jonny jon@jupiterdawn.com