Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Everyday Lessons in Advertising

When commercials come on the television do you get up
and head for the kitchen to get a snack? Do you tune out
the radio when commercials start? Do you skip over
advertisements in newspapers and magazines?

If you do, you’re missing a golden opportunity for increasing
your business.

When you pay attention to ads, you can very quickly pick
out ads that are effective. How do you know?

Do you understand from the ad “what’s in it for you”?
Does the ad make you want to find out more?
Does the ad touch your emotions?

When you start to notice ads, and more importantly notice
the effective ones, you can use those ads as a basis for your
next ad campaign. When I see an ad in a newspaper or a
magazine that I think really does a good job, I tear it out
and put it into what marketers call a “swipe file.” Now,
that’s not to say that you take someone else’s ad and paste
your name over theirs, and use it as though it’s your own.
Study it and try to define what it is that makes it a good ad.
Then find a way to introduce similar aspects into your own
advertising.

Here are a couple of examples from my local market…

A CPA firm ran an ad that said, “Your Profit is Our
Business.”

Okay, I understood where they were going with this. But,
it made me feel uncomfortable—my profit isn’t anybody’s
business but my own. Maybe that’s just me and others took
it in the spirit in which it was meant, but for me it didn’t work.

A jeweler’s ads say over and over “We really want to be
your jeweler.”

This is brilliant. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that
Stan Pollack really wants to be my jeweler. Actually, it’s not
me he wants as a customer—if he had me for a customer he’d
starve. What Stan wants is to develop life long relationships
with people who make multiple jewelry purchases. He does
a great job of articulating that and repeating it over and over.

Now, if the CPA firm had said to me “Small Business Owners,
Do You Want to Keep More of What You Make?” they
would have been speaking my language.

Stop and check out the ads, watch a few commercials,
tune into a late night infomercial and study the techniques
they’re using to attract their market. Which tactics could you
apply in your own business? What message do your
customers want to hear from you?

Until next time,

Caroline Jordan
Get Knowledge. Get Focus. Get Results.
The Jordan Result

“I really want to be your cash flow consultant.”
www.TheJordanResult.com/mastering.html

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I'm Keeping My Promises

How often do you see businesses making promises to
customers? It’s a great way to build relationships and
add value to what you do. Whether you’re promising
service after the sale of a car or complimentary
consulting time either before a sale or after, promises
can be the mortar that holds the bricks of your business
together.

But, what really happens after the sale is made? Do
you keep your promises? Have you ever had an
experience where you tried to use a extended warranty
on a car and been made to feel that since it’s warranty
work, it’s a low priority? What happens to the promise
then? Or, you spend a bunch of money on a seminar
where you’re promised a critique or consultation as
part of the package, but when you try to collect you’re
made to feel as though you’re presuming on the
presenter’s time.

I gave this a great deal of thought as I was developing
my Cash Flow Master success system. I wanted to
include some one-on-one consulting time because I
know how useful it is to get another viewpoint on your
business. But, I didn’t want to over-promise the amount
of time I could spend and end up with disappointed
customers (or an overworked, stressed out consultant).

In the end, I decided to include the consulting time as a
bonus to the product, something I could offer until it
became too overwhelming. At that point I can offer a
different bonus in place of my time. So far, that seems
to have worked. My customers are getting what they
need without it being an overwhelming burden for me.
But, I am always mindful of the experiences I have had
with other companies who promise and either don’t
deliver or give a low priority to keeping their promises.

What promises are you making to your customers? Do
you have a good system to follow through on keeping
those promises? Promises add value to your customers
experience and their willingness to buy. Promises kept
create repeat customers and good referrals. Promises
broken or deferred leave customers feeling betrayed
and irritable.

Until next time,

Caroline Jordan
Get Knowledge. Get Focus. Get Results.
The Jordan Result

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Please Don't Choke the CPA

Here’s a fun story about how once upon a time I lost my
temper and almost strangled a CPA…

I went to work for a company that had serious accounting
issues. The books were a mess. They had attempted to set
up QuickBooks but since the manual books were such a
mess, QuickBooks was a mess too.

Sound the trumpets; here comes Caroline riding in to save
the day!

What a raging mess they’d created. The cash balance in the
check book was $20,000 different from the cash balance in
QuickBooks. The bookkeeper was double paying bills. She
never pulled customer’s invoices when they were paid, so no
one knew who owed money and who had paid. (Ever make a
collection call to a customer who already paid their bill? It ain’t
pretty!) The checking account reconciliation showed the
following notation (and I’m not making this up):

“Close enough”.

Oh, it was ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.

It took six weeks to straighten out the worst of it. Six weeks
of accounting fees. Six weeks of new gray hairs for me. But,
the job got done.

Now for the part where I almost choked a CPA…

When the majority of the problems were cleaned up, a
CPA firm came in to do the regular yearly audit. One of the
accountants (who shall remain nameless) was a man of great
technical accounting knowledge but had the people skills of
a hammer.

I made a change to the accounting system to reflect an
adjustment but I neglected to print off a new report showing
that change for “Mr. Hammer”. When I remembered to print
the new report for him, he started giving me a lecture. “I don’t
think you understand what we need from you,” he said.

After spending six weeks cleaning up a huge mess, I felt that
he should be working with me to make sure everything was as
it should be. So, I responded, “I don’t think you understand
what we need from you.”

At which point he shoved his chair back, banging it into an
assistant who was with him. He accused me of keeping a
double set of books and any number of other unpalatable
misdeeds. This is, of course, the point where my hands were
suddenly circling his neck. Fortunately or unfortunately,
someone else broke up the fight. He was at least twice my
size but I was mad enough, I think I could have taken him down.

Naturally, my story has a point. Your accountant works for
you. Not the other way around. Many business owners are
uncomfortable talking to their accountants. They don’t want to
appear dumb when they ask questions. They don’t want to
bother the accountant with their questions because he or she is
so busy. They feel that their accountant is unapproachable. And
yet, accountants have a wealth of knowledge that small business
owners need to become successful. An accountant worth his or
her salt will be available and approachable, a partner for your
business. If your accountant isn’t able or willing to answer your
questions, it’s time to find a new one.

Disclaimer: I do NOT recommend or advocate choking the
current one.

And if you’re uncomfortable and feeling inadequate talking
to your accountant about your finances, here’s a great resource
that teaches you what the numbers mean and how to use them
to build your business:

www.TheJordanResult.com/mastering.html

Until next time,

Caroline Jordan
Get Knowledge. Get Focus. Get Results.
The Jordan Result

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Keep Those Cards & Letters Coming

I have a neat resource for you this week. I often write about
the importance of establishing relationships with customers
and about making customers feel valued. The other day I
received a greeting card in the mail from Gail Hess, one of
the subscribers to The Jordan Result.

When I got the envelope in the mail, I thought, “Hey, someone
sent me a card!” Of course, I opened it right up. (The other mail
I got that day went directly into the trash without a second thought.)

In the card, Gail says, “I thought you would be interested in this
new Customer Relationship Marketing concept called “Send Out
Cards”…Now that everyone is online, a first class “snail mail”
card stands out. You can send out just one card or set up your
own marketing campaigns. With just a few clicks of your computer
mouse, your card is on its way!”

Let’s look at what just happened here. Gail knows me from my
newsletter. She saw a connection between what I was talking
about—customer service, and what she offers, a customer
relationship building tool. She sent me an example of that tool,
her greeting card. And I opened it. How beautiful is that? But, it
didn’t stop there. She directed me to her website and off I went.

That’s the power of making connections. Gail didn’t blindly send
me mail. And she didn’t try to “sell” me. She recognized that this
was a service I would find interesting and useful. And her format,
the greeting card, stood out in a pile of junk mail.

I can see so many applications for this—real estate agents can send
a full color picture of a house they want to sell, life coaches can
send an inspirational card, veterinarians can send condolence cards
to customers whose pets have died, insurance agents, pediatricians,
and many others can send birthday cards to their clients. Non-profits
can send thank you cards to their volunteers.

I thought it was a really cool resource so I followed up with Gail to
get more information. Here’s what she had to say:

“Send Out Cards is a print on demand greeting card company
that allows you to mail REAL full color, personalized greeting
cards from the internet, for less than a dollar each (including
first class postage.) You log onto the website, choose a card
(from a selection of over 2500 cards), enter your personal message,
enter the recipient and click send! The company prints the card,
stuffs it into the envelope, puts a first class stamp on it, and mails it.”

“Some great features of this system:
· You have the ability to upload your customer contact
list in minutes (from Outlook, Excel, etc).
· You can set up “campaigns” to send cards at specific times
to specific customers. There is also a system reminder for
Birthdays, Anniversaries, and other special dates.
· You can personalize each card (or a campaign of cards) with
a digital photo. Realtors and car dealer are sending pictures
of the new house or car to the customer. Other business owners
uploaded a coupon into the card, such as “bring this card in for
$$ off” or “use this code on. (your website) for $$ off. ” There
are endless possibilities for this feature.”

“Three Benefits:
Expanding your customer relationship marketing by using
“old fashioned snail mail” to contact and thank internet or brick
and mortar customers.
Saving time – by uploading your database and sending cards to
every client in minutes! Use the Campaign manager to set up
specific card campaigns for specific customer groups.
Maintain a special relationship with personalized greeting cards
containing your own message, signature and even a digital picture.”

If you’d like more information on this resource go to www.makeloyalcustomers.com/3617 and request to send out a free greeting card. Then Gail will set up your free demo account to be able to send a card.

When you send an unexpected greeting card to someone you make
them feel very special. Maya Angelou, one of the great voices of
contemporary literature, expressed it best when she said: “People
will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people
will never forget how you made them feel.”

Until next time…Keep those cards and letters (and emails) coming!
I love to hear what you’re up to!
Caroline Jordan

Get Knowledge. Get Focus. Get Results.
The Jordan Result

My new Cash Flow Mastery course begins shipping next week.
If you want to finally conquer the Cash Flow Beast and crawl
out of the Cash Flow Swamp, help is just a click away:
www.TheJordanResult.com/mastering.html