Winston's e-Newsletter - March 2007
Ideas and Inspiration to Make You Say "Wow!"
Rules for Referrals
Recently I was interviewed for some ideas on how to generate referrals for an article in an ANZ Banking Group client magazine "InPerspective" and a nice story was the result.
Winston Marsh was walking along Collins Street, Melbourne, when he stopped to look in the window of a Montblanc pen store. As Marsh watched, a shop assistant donned a pair of white gloves before walking to a cabinet and selecting a pen, which he then carefully laid on a square of velvet in front of a customer.
Marsh, a marketing consultant, conference speaker and expert on generating business-to-business referrals, realised he was witnessing a skilful exercise in selling. “A $2,000 Montblanc pen fulfils the same function as a 20-cent biro,” he says. “The real difference is perception.”
All organisations have the opportunity to look at how they serve existing clients and add what Marsh calls “white gloves moments” to that service. “The white gloves tell a customer the company’s offerings are special, and later the customer will tell others about the experience.”
“Wowing” a client with a metaphorical white glove can produce a glut of referrals. Yet many organisations fail to try. Even fewer implement a referral system, which represents by far the easiest and most productive way to generate business, says Marsh. (A recent British survey showed that 80% of companies found word-of-mouth referrals to be the most effective form of gaining new customers.)
It’s extraordinary, Marsh believes, that many CEOs will readily assign a million dollars to an advertising campaign but won’t consider a strategy to generate referrals. “If you went out and bought a thousand of your clients a thousand-dollar gift and said ‘please introduce me to someone who might give me more business,’ your success would be huge.”
There are three failsafe ways to generate referrals, says Marsh:
One survey has shown that on average only one in 100 businesses, large and small, actually ask clients for referrals. This can be as simple as saying: “Incidentally, is there someone else you know who’d appreciate what we’ve done for you?”
Creating a culture that encourages such requests must start at the top. “If staff are never encouraged or have no way of reporting the referrals they’ve got, they’ll know management doesn’t consider it important,” Marsh says.
Deliver first-rate service and support always. And company people involved in new transactions should contact their clients afterwards, every time. “Whether you’re selling a power station or photograph, a two-minute call after the deal can deliver a customer for life,” Marsh says.
In addition, Marsh suggests ringing those who’ve sought a quote but haven’t bought from you to say, “We appreciate you have found someone else. If we can help with anything in the future, please contact us.”
“The reaction of the potential client? Wow!”
Have a system:
Systemise the process of regularly letting staff and clients know you need referrals and that there’ll be a reward when they introduce someone to you.
Recognition is just as effective. “As Napoleon said, men will die for a medal,” says Marsh. “Management should also make it clear to staff what kind of referrals they’re after, as a recommendation to a non-ideal client is unlikely to create business value.”
Rewards can depend on the amount of business involved and can range from vouchers and movie tickets to weekends in a five-star hotel. Occasionally clients may feel uncomfortable about receiving such largesse. Marsh suggests a response like “Anytime you refer business to us you’re saving us on our marketing expenses. We’d like to share some of that with you.”
All of this may seem common sense, Marsh concludes, and that’s precisely what good marketing is. “But don’t tell too many people or it will do me out of a job.”
A recent edition of the www.business-opportunities.biz blog reports a new phenomenon emanating out of China whereby groups of consumers use the internet to co-ordinate their timing to simultaneously turn up at retailers to purchase the same items at a hefty discount. The idea is catching on and is going gangbusters in China. Here's their story:
On an otherwise quiet Friday afternoon in Guangzhou, a city in southern China, 500 shoppers gather outside a Gome electrical superstore in the downtown district. They arrive en masse at the designated time June 16th at 4pm that they had previously agreed online. Several hours later, they emerge clutching boxes, having secured 10-30% discounts on cameras, DVD players and flat-screen televisions. "It was great," says Fairy Zhang. "We just bought an apartment and this way we can afford nice things for it." The previous weekend, over 100 locals visited Meizhu Central, a well known furniture outlet, to haggle over the prices of kitchen cabinets and dining-room furniture.
Team buying aims to drive unprecedented bargains by combining the reach of the internet with the power of the mob. It is spreading through China like wildfire. The practice originated in online chat-rooms but has quickly inspired several specialist websites, such as www.teambuy.com.cn
Years ago I read a great story about a man who gives up the farm he owns to begin a lifelong and ultimately fruitless search for something better. After he dies, it's found that what he was searching for was available in abundance on the property he gave up all those years before.
You may have heard people say that you should mine the "diamonds in your own backyard" meaning that you should capitalise all that you already have... your skills, talents and abilities... before you look elsewhere.
You may have invented a better mouse trap but the world won't beat a path to your door unless they know about it. That makes effectively telling people about your product or service just about the most important thing you can do. The first step is to get people's attention and I reckon that these signs do a pretty good job at that.
On the current edition of my monthly audio program, Business Marketing, I talk to Donald Cooper, a Canadian retail whiz, who is much in demand to give advice to all sorts of businesses and who has been responsible for some huge successes in other businesses as well as his own. In this extract he tells how he did things differently in women’s clothing.
At that site you’ll also be able to listen to one of my articles on creating a set of standards, what I call “not negotiables”. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Here’s an advertisement that certainly did what an advert is supposed to do first of all… get attention. It was produced for that epitome of fine fast food… KFC…to promote their Zinger Crunch Salad. Well, it certainly got the public’s attention because, when it screened in the U.K., thousands of people saw it and complained to the advertising standards bureaucrats about… the actors singing with their mouths full!
That means they’d had to watch it carefully, and a number of times too probably, to ensure that they were disgusted enough to complain.
As a result, it certainly got attention. Whether it produced a massive increase in sales is unnown because we don't whether it got the attention of their target market and did the rest of what a good advert should do (stimulate interest, create desire and get ‘em to take action). After all, that’s the bottom line when you spend money on advertising… how many sales does it generate (or at least people through the door wanting to buy what you’ve got)?
If having a Yellow Pages advert that gets the phone to ring like crazy is important to you, you won’t want to miss my next TeleSeminar… its worth the meagre investment and the hour of your time just to get the 23 page workbook stuffed full of great information like - A simple technique to get you up to 980% better result - at no extra cost... An action Plan for creating an effective Yellow Page ad for your business... 9 examples of great Yellow Page ads... 29 great headlines you can use for your Yellow Page ad... How to convert phone inquiries into sales... Some of the most important qualifying questions you must ask... and lots more!
Please go here for all the information on how to participate.
Here are the troops receiving instructions prior to leaving for a potentially dangerous and ultimately successful mission. I couldn’t resist this. Actually it’s me with a couple of my dogs and some of their friends demonstrating a key team motivation concept that “what gets rewarded gets done.” The reward was, of course, a dog biscuit… team members require something more!
We've had so many enquiries for that classic copywriting trio, Words That Sell, and Phrases That Sell (several copies in stock, 6-week order order delay), and Letters That Sell (we have a few copies though it's out of print), that we've put them together as a Special Pack and included a bonus CD, Headline Creator Pro. You need to be quick! ...
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