How to Question Your Real Value – Part Two

value-guyIn part one, the focus was on first determining what you’re really offering. There you’re asking hypothetical questions, to hypothetical customers. Today, it’s all about asking your actual customers.

If you want the best gauge available to track how you’re doing – just ask your customers. They’ll be happy to tell you. Remember the Ed Koch catch-phrase “How’m I doin’?”

[Read more…]

Stop Yelling, I’m Sitting Right Here!

yelling-guyDo those obnoxious guys yelling on local car dealer ads actually sell more cars? I’m just asking the question, because I can’t seem to find anyone who actually likes those things. Do they think they’re being cool, or funny? I’m not a violent person, but there’s one doofus that does ads in my town, that I’d love to sock in the nose. On second thought maybe I’ll sock him twice – since they tend to run the same ridiculous ads two times during a single commercial segment (they must get a twofer). Thank all that is good, for my DVR.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be the poor guy who films and produces these things?

TV Guy: Okay so how about a fade in to…

Car Dealer: NO! I JUST WANT TO YELL!

TV Guy: Well nobody really likes being yelled at. I had one of our writers come up with a pretty funny piece, people like funny…

Car Dealer: NO! I JUST WANT TO YELL! WAMMBO!

TV Guy: Um… Are you going to yell “wammbo” at the end of the commercial?

Car Dealer: YES. I LIKE YELLING. YELLING SELLS MORE CARS. WAMMBO!

TV Guy: Burt, just start filming. Jimmy the Idiot here obviously knows what he’s doing…

So what does this have to do with your home-business…?

Mainly this – just because something’s always been done that way, or that’s what everyone else is doing, is not a good reason to do it. Chances are, it’s just the opposite – to really succeed you have to set yourself apart. You also have to treat your customers like people, not deaf mules.

1 – Be sure you understand your audience. Selling is hard enough without having to overcome the hurdle of being perceived as an ass. Take the time to really learn about your customers and prospects – what they like, what they want, and how they prefer to be approached.

2 – Being the loudest doesn’t mean being the best. If you have something of value, and offer it in a way that respects your customer, you will never have a shortage of business. A conversation is a much better way to develop a relationship than yelling.

3 – People are way smarter than they get credit for. Our customers know what they want, and will look around until they find it. Be the one they want to do business with.

4 – Don’t over compensate. If you aren’t 100% confident and proud of what you are offering, no over-the-top exploits will make it successful. (Caveat – in the long term that is. There are those who look for short term gain at any cost. My guess is that you’re not one if them, or you would have stopped reading a long time ago :) )

What it comes down to is that there are lots of ways to run a business. Being authentic, offering something of value, and being passionate about what you are doing – to me – is the truest way to reach real success. There’s nothing quite like having customers seek you out, as opposed to annoying them until they buy or tell you to scram. By deciding to do business as a person dealing with another person, you open the door for lots of great opportunities. But if that’s not your cup of tea, there’s always…

READ MY BLOG! SUBSCRIBE! COMMENT! WAMMBO!

Do Your Customers Know What the Heck You’re Talking About?

blobThink about how many times you’ve been inundated with jargon and had no idea what the other person was talking about. A techie, your mechanic, your financial advisor – it is way too common a practice to try and kill our prospects with our intelligence. You don’t like feeling stupid, and neither do your customers. So why is it that so many business people try to make themselves feel smart by tossing around words that really don’t do their customers any good?

WHAT!?

A paradigm shift is necessary to leverage the strategic ubiquity for those asynchronous decentralized procedures which are quickly becoming an industry standard using VoIP.

Now ladies and gentlemen, is that sentence helpful at all? The fact that I strung together a bunch of words and created my own version of a nonsense verse would be obvious, if we hadn’t heard something eerily similar from the halls of corporate life.

Guilty As Charged

Working in the Web and software world for so long, I have to say I’ve been guilty of this myself. But I learned early on, that you come across as more articulate and smart if you are able to explain what you are offering in a simple, straight-forward way – without all the jargon. You also end up with more accounts and sales. As many of you may know, it’s actually much harder to describe certain things in layman’s terms. I’ve seen mechanics who could explain a rack-and-pinion system to someone who thought it was rack-and-peanut steering. I’ve met investment advisors who could explain the short-sell in such simple terms, that it would make Gordon Gekko cringe. And not to toot my own horn, but I always found my refacing cabinets analogy for new software interfaces to be very easy to understand.

What You Do – Plain and Simple

The ultimate goal is to help your customers and prospects understand what you can do for them – plain and simple. If I can’t decipher the words you’re throwing at me, I have no hope of understanding how what you’re providing is of any value. And you have no hope of walking away with my business. Think back to a time when someone made you feel really smart by explaining something you didn’t understand in terms that made sense. Is that someone you would like to do business with? Then think of the “Customer Support” person that made you feel like an idiot as they “explained” what your problem was (not their problem, your problem). Chances are, you are no longer doing business with that company or they’ve got you no matter what – they’re a monopoly, utility company, or you’re related.

So What Can You Do?

  • Start by understanding your customers. The better you understand them, the easier it will be to tailor your message to meet their needs.
  • Don’t just assume that all of your customers understand what you take for granted. For example – there are still many people who don’t know what a blog is. So before you can sell them on the benefits of blogging, you have to help them to understand what a blog is.
  • Explain your business in 10 words or less, then ask someone who doesn’t know your business to listen to the 10 word summary and explain back to you in more detail what it is they think you do.
  • Go through some of your marketing and support copy and cross out any words that seem “buzzwordy” or “jargony.” If you end up with a mostly marked up document, its time to re-think how you communicate.
  • Ask your kids to tell you what they think you do for a living. Then ask your Mom or Grandma. “Computer Guy” or “Business Woman” are not very descriptive. See if you can explain it to them so that they get it.
  • And finally, ask your customers to tell you what you do – in their own words. You may be amazed at what they say.

Communication is crucial to the success of a home-based business. Being able to clearly explain what you do will ensure that your customers can also explain it. Make it easy for your customers to refer business to you by talking like a human, not like some corporate drone. You can’t get much word-of-mouth business if the words coming out of your mouth make no sense.


About today’s cartoon – The cartoon illustrating today’s post is part of Chewing Pencils Group Drawing Project. In a wonderful instance of kismet, I got the idea for the cartoon as I was thinking of an illustration for this post. I think it captures today’s theme well, while fitting nicely into the topic of the Group Drawing Project – a Christmas themed blog cartoon.

The Most Important Item on a Top 5 List – #6 – Follow Up

valuable-infoPhil Gerbyshak over at Make It Great! has a terrific post on customer service today. One of the key items on his list – item 6, Follow Up – is in my opinion one of the most important. And as I noted in the comments, is the one most often overlooked. I also think it’s fitting that its number six on a “top 5″ list ;) .

The exclamation point of any contact is a call back after the sale or service is done, and find out if your customer got what they needed or if the item is working the way they expected it to, or if perhaps there is more that needs to be done. This ensures customers are delighted, and if they’re not, it gives you a chance to make it up to them, right then and there. You do want delighted customers, don’t you?

As a home-based business owner, it’s important to spend as much time keeping current clients as it is getting new ones. A simple follow-up phone call, or better yet, a hand written note, is an incredibly effective way to show your customers how important they really are. They become repeat customers and evangelists for your business. I’m guessing if you are doing what you love, from home no less, that you are pretty enthusiastic about your company. Carry that enthusiasm through after the sale to genuinely show that you value your customers. If you’re providing a great service, and something of value, it’s also a good way to hear some nice words. But even in the (hopefully) rare situation where you have an unhappy customer, it’s a way to make things right. It’s often said that a happy customer will tell a friend and an unhappy one will tell 10 (or more these days).

A perfect example is a home-based hypnotherapist I recently worked with. If she does her job well, she won’t have any repeat business (unless they have multiple issues they want to work on). In a sense, she provides a service to lose customers. Her value is making sure her customers won’t have to come back. But what she gains is an army of evangelists, promoting her great service.

So think of ways you can follow-up, and provide some additional value. Treat your customers as your most valuable asset – because that’s exactly what they are.