Sound Advice

 

 

Preachers, Teachers, and Advertising

The goal of every preacher, teacher, and advertiser is to grab the attention of the person they are speaking to and make sure that they not only hear the message but also understand and retain the message.

So, what can preachers and teachers teach advertisers about advertising? The answer is a lot if you pay attention to the formula preachers and teachers use to get the message across and make it stick!

Going back to the very early 1900s, though not taking credit for it, religious figure J. H. Jowett explained the process of preparing sermons, speaking to the crowd, and how to make sure the lesson was not only taught but understood. He said the three-part formula to help prepare sermons so the layperson could understand was this:

1. Tell them what you are going to tell them

2. Then tell them

3. Then tell them what you told them

Modern-day teachers have been taught and still use this same method. They know that if their students do not get the message in this fashion, three times in a seven-day window, they won’t retain what they’ve learned, and they’ll probably fail the test.

Research has proven that your advertising must follow a similar formula. If you want your customers and prospects to retain and remember your advertising message, they must hear your message three times in any given seven-day window. In advertising, this formula is known as a “frequency of three” and it’s one of the 6 Steps to Ads That Stick.

If you think about it, advertising really is a little bit of preaching and a little bit of teaching! Use this formula and your ads will have a better chance of sticking in the listener’s mind.


Ring – Ring – Ring

They say first impressions say a lot about your business. For many potential new customers, the first time they interact with or meet your business is when they call on the phone.

The entire process of answering company phones, from how quickly you answer to how you conclude the call and what is said in between, either with a live person or a voice-recording, can determine whether potential customers choose to do business with you… or not!

There’s a saying that goes, “Little things mean a lot”. Far too many businesses take answering the phone for granted. After all, what is so hard about answering the phone? However, having a set policy and procedure for answering the phone not only ensures the phone is answered the way you want it to be, but it also implies to ALL employees that you are a professional organization in ALL areas of your company.

With today’s business climate of limited and multi-tasking staff, there is often little time to answer the phones appropriately. In this case, a professional voicemail should be used in place of a live voice. Just because a customer is unable to reach you does not mean they cannot be greeted with a message and feeling that creates a positive impression.

Remember that when someone calls your business they want something, and it’s typically an answer to a question. In the 15 Rules to Phone Call Etiquette, Rule #5 is, “Take Notes”. Even if you are using a voicemail system, ask the caller if they would prefer to leave a message or be sent to the person’s voicemail. “Little things” do mean a lot!

Having a policy and set procedure on how you expect your phones to be answered is a small but important part of operating a professional business.

15 Rules to Phone Call Etiquette

Yes, little things do mean a lot, and how you answer your phones and utilize company voicemail or on-hold messaging can make a HUGE difference in how your prospects and customers perceive you, your employees, and your company.

These 15 rules may seem obvious, but having consistent, professional policies and procedures will ensure that your customers and prospects are greeted politely and professionally and that your business is presented in the manner that you want it to be.

Rule #1: Answer on Second or Third Ring: The first ring is too quick as it surprises the caller. Ring #4 or beyond is too slow. The second or third ring is ideal for answering. Have fun with your employees in charge of answering the phones; tell them, “if the phone rings three times, someone better be jumping over a desk before it rings a fourth time”. This goes for both in-person and voicemail.

Rule #2: Proper Sequence and Greeting: Answer with a consistent positive greeting. “Good morning/afternoon/evening, (name of company), (name of the person answering), How may I help you?” Everyone in the company should answer the phone with the same greeting.

Rule #3: Smile and Articulate: Seems obvious doesn’t it, but how many times have you called a business and the person answering sounded unhappy, unenergized, and unhelpful? People can hear and feel a smile. Simply put, speaking with a smile will put an energetic and cheerful tone in your greeting.

Rule #4: Proper Pace and Tone: Some people speak too slow, others too fast. Some too soft and some too loud. You want the perfect pace and tone. Making those that answer the phones aware of this will provide you with a much more effective and pleasant greeting.

Rule #5: Take Notes: Don’t assume you will remember to pass along the message to the proper person(s). Even if you have voicemail capabilities, offer to take a message. It’s expected that you ask for the person’s name and phone number; it’s polite to ask if they want to leave the name of their company and their reason for calling. Remember, it’s about the caller/customer, not your company.

Rule #6: On-Hold Permission and Thank You: Before placing a person on hold, first ask their permission to do so. Also, get their phone number in case the call is cut off for any reason. Upon returning to the call, show respect for their time by thanking them for holding!

Rule #7: Transferring a Call: The best practice is to make sure the person you are transferring the call to is actually in. DO NOT simply transfer them if you do not know. Tell the caller you will check to see if they are in and ask them if it’s o.k. to send them to voicemail, or ask if there is someone else that could help them. Keep in mind, they called asking to talk to a particular person; they did not necessarily want to leave a message.

Rule #8: On-Hold Messaging/Greetings: If you have an on-hold messaging system: #1. Keep the message(s) short, 6-10 seconds. #2. Use multiple messages relating to different topics or for different times of the day. There is no limit to the number of individual messages. Short and sweet is the rule.

Rule #9: On-Hold Messaging – Specials: If you are offering special pricing or services, include them in your messaging, i.e. “Ask about our pre-summer tune-up special”.

Rule #10: On-Hold – Maximum Length: Never leave a caller on hold for more than 45-seconds without readdressing the caller. If the hold is going to be longer, ask them if they would like to leave a message.

Rule #11: Make a Promise and Keep It: State the maximum time that the call will be returned within. Be specific. If you or the person they are seeking is out for the day, tell them their call will be returned by X-time tomorrow. Error on the side of too long rather than too short. If you say they will call back in two hours, the call needs to be returned within two hours. Always ask if there is someone else that can help them or direct them to another person.

Rule #12: Update Voicemail and Greetings: Individual voicemail and company on-hold greetings should be updated regularly. Not updating your message is a sign that their calls are not important. Use the time of year or popular events to make the messages sound fresh.

Rule #13: Never Say “I don’t know”: Instead say, “Let me check into that for you”.

Rule #14: Branding Statement: If you have a short “Slogan” or “Branding Statement”, you can include this in your initial greeting, i.e. “Good morning, Clean Plumbing and Heating, ‘Home of the Free Inspection’, this is Jodi, how may I help you?” If the slogan is too long, don’t include it.

Rule #15: Ending the Call: The call should always end with a “polite positive”, i.e. “We appreciate you calling. Have a GREAT day!”

 

 


Happy, Healthy, Wealthy & Wise…and Safe

Benjamin Franklin is most often credited with the quote, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. One would assume that if you are healthy, wealthy, and wise, you would also be happy, right? But what about being safe?

When good ole Ben fashioned this statement in his Poor Richards Almanack in the mid-1700s, safety at work was not much of an issue.  Fast forward 270 years, add in a pandemic called COVID-19, and suddenly safety and health have become even greater factors in determining whether your employees are happy, which in turn is important in determining the wealth of your company.

Study after study has determined that employees who are motivated regularly are 43% more productive. A study conducted by Lockheed Martin concluded that developing a “safety culture” increased employee productivity by 24% and decreased factory costs by 20%.

As businesses begin to reopen and your employees return to work, how they “feel” will determine their level of productivity.  Taking for granted that everything will return to normal once you flip on the ‘We’re Open” sign will be a mistake.

The one common magnet that draws people to a business is not the product or service, but how the business made them FEEL!  Your employees will ultimately determine your customer satisfaction, but for them to make your customers feel good, they first must feel good.

Motivated employees that feel safe and valued can and will move mountains for a business.

In the 9 Rules to a Happy and Healthy Reopening, Rule #9 is “Be a Leader”. Leaders lead! There are few times in life when true leaders must stand up and lead. This is one of these moments.  Whether in war or business, nearly every soldier and employee want to be led by someone they respect and trust. By implementing the eight other rules to a Happy and Healthy Reopening, you will then confirm that you are the leader of your organization!

If you would like to see all 9 Rules to a Happy and Healthy Reopeningclick here or reach out to your media rep.

We wish you a Happy, Healthy, Wealthy & Wise…and Safe return!

It’ll Take Courage!

“You have plenty of courage, I am sure,” answered Oz. “All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.”

  – L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Have you heard the one about tough times in a small midwestern town?  The streets are empty, very few are working, and everyone is on edge and living on savings and credit.

A very picky tourist traveling through town stops at a bed and breakfast and lays a $100 bill on the desk saying he wants to inspect their rooms to pick one for the night.

As soon as he walks out to check the rooms, the owner of the bed and breakfast grabs the bill and runs next door to buy some groceries. The grocer takes the $100 and runs down the street to purchase more beef and pork from the farmer.

The farmer takes the $100 and heads off to purchase feed from the feed mill, and the guy at the feed mill takes the $100 and purchases more bags from the traveling salesman.

The traveling salesman, as he prepares to head out of town, pays the B&B owner $100 for his room. The owner then places the $100 back on the counter and waits for the unsuspecting tourist.

At that moment, the picky tourist comes down the stairs, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, picks up his $100 bill and leaves.

Several merchants are much happier, each selling something, and they all look to the future with a lot more optimism.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a stimulus package works!

Our hope is that the stimulus package received by most Americans has this same effect on your business.

As commerce reopens and consumers start to decide where to spend their money, advertising will play a more important role than ever. Your prospects are exposed to over 5,000 advertising messages a day, including signage, packaging, media, and more. That number will not change. Capturing the attention of the listener, viewer, or reader is the first step in creating successful ads.

Advertising correctly in normal times takes courage. In our current situation, let’s be honest, it’s going to take extra courage to start advertising again. However, those that find that courage stand to be rewarded. Are you willing to advertise courageously?

If you would like to see our FREE 9 Tips to Courageous Advertisingclick here.


Send the Invitation!

Would you ever consider attending a wedding for which you had not received an invitation?

Would you go to someone’s home for dinner without first receiving a formal invite?

Do you think your customers, and the community in general, will walk into your place of business without receiving an invitation?

The answers to the first two questions are obvious. Most of us would never consider attending a wedding or simply showing up for dinner uninvited. The third answer is equally as obvious. Anyone can walk into a business without being invited.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines advertising as “the action of calling something to the attention of the public especially by a paid announcement”.

A random definition is, “a form of communication that attempts to influence the behavior of a defined target audience or any message developed and placed with the ultimate intention of persuading a group to take specific action”.

There is certainly more to it, but in a nutshell, advertising is asking or inviting people to do business with you.

Soon, people will be roaming the streets and communities and they will be making decisions as to where they are going to shop and what they are going to shop for.

The question is, are you going to formally invite them to your business, or are you simply going to put up a “We’re Open” sign?

A formal invitation regardless of the form of communication you use is a far better bet than hanging the “We’re Open” sign.

As we begin to invite the public back into our businesses, some of the normal rules of advertising will change.  Rule #1 is “Ask Them”.  This may seem obvious, but now more than ever, simply saying, “Hey, we’re open. Come in and see us” may be all you need to get them to show up.  But there is certainly more that you can and should do.

To see the short-term “New Rules of Advertising – Post COVID-19”, click here.


11 Tips to Prepare for Business – Post CoronavirusOur hope is that these tips help as you prepare to reopen for business. Those that are prepared stand a far better chance of capturing their share of the prize that will be up for grabs. If customers walk into your business, regardless of whether you are a service, retail, professional, educational, or industrial type business and they don’t feel safe, they will do an about-face and head right back out the door. We must be prepared in all areas of operation for our customers and our employees.

Tip #1: Retrain Employees  Make sure every employee understands what is at stake as commerce reopens. Hold several in-person or video meetings to make sure they are aware of any changes in the operation of your business. Also, make sure they are aware of all safety measures that have been put in place for themselves and customers. Ultimately, make sure they practice these measures.

Tip #2: Motivate Employees  Stress levels are going to be high. Money will not be the only motivation for your employees. Make sure they understand that they are part of the team and that they, and you, will only succeed if everyone does their part. Post motivational signs with words of encouragement around the office or store. Incorporate morning training and motivational meetings. Above all, make sure that you as the business owner communicate your appreciation to them verbally.

Tip #3: Evaluate Employees  There will be a higher than normal amount of people looking for new employment. Prepare yourself to move out those who are not doing their jobs and consider looking for your next new superstar(s).

Tip #4: City-State Laws  Make sure you stay abreast of and that you comply with all laws that pertain to operating your business. Communicate to your employees and customers that you are complying with these as well.

Tip #5: Confirm Vendors  For many reasons, some of your past vendors may not be able to fulfill your needs. Check-in with these companies and make sure they are on board. This is also a good time to evaluate your current vendor relationships. Many suppliers will be ready and willing to earn your business. Consider reaching out to some new vendors and asking for an RFP (Request for Proposal).

Tip #6:  Analyze your Business Model  Now is a good time to look deep into your business and see if you can and should be doing and offering everything you did before the shutdown.

Tip #7:  Signage  Post signs throughout your facility that promote safety and/or indicate any policies that you have implemented, i.e. social distancing, washing hands, etc. Visibly showing your customers how you are keeping your employees safe will give them comfort that they too are safe.

Tip #8:  Express Your Appreciation for Their Support and Business  Again, this can be relayed with signage throughout your business or via advertising. Personally thanking your customers for “coming back” and supporting your business, your employees, and your community can serve as a great motivator to do business with you rather than someone else.

Tip #9:  Create a Reopening Promotion  Make it Grand! The bigger – the louder – the bolder – the better! The race for the consumer’s pocketbook will be fast and furious. Make sure the timing is right to capture your biggest potential of business.

Tip #10:  Promote your Reopening and the Event  Let the whole world know that you are open and ready to serve them. Let them know what you have going on. If you don’t invite them in and tell them about it, the chances are greatly reduced they will show up. This is the perfect opportunity to increase your Share of Voice, Share of Mind, and Share of Market! Unfortunately, some businesses will not make it or will be unprepared to reopen. This is your opportunity to capture new customers and clients.

Tip #11:  Consider New Services  What can you implement into your business that will attract new customers and/or make past customers more comfortable doing business with you,  i.e. order online, curbside pick-up, delivery, special store hours, take the store to them, throw-away menus, video shopping?

We wish you the best of luck as you prepare to welcome your past customers and clients back to your business and as you prepare to capture new clientele.

As a subscriber to SoundADvice, if you would like to visit personally with Rick of ENS Media about any of the tips mentioned above or anything else related to your business, reach out to your media rep and they will arrange a time to visit. This service is FREE to you!


 

On Your Mark, Get Set …

Is your business ready to reopen? Soon, and hopefully sooner than later, the sound of doorbells and cash registers will be heard ringing throughout the towns and cities of America. It will be a beautiful sound!

As the Coronavirus starts to bow its ugly head, the time to start planning for the reopening of commerce is not when the starter says, “On your mark, get set”. It’s NOW!

When the moment comes, the race will be on and it will quite literally be a race for the consumer’s wallet.

In these past weeks of “stay at home”, “social distancing” and “quarantining”, there has been a lot of pent up demand for many products and services.

During the Coronavirus downtime, people are primarily spending money on necessities, and because of this, some business categories have prospered; most notably grocery stores, drug stores, liquor stores, and delivery services. However, for the most part, retail and service categories have been hit hard.

It’s not just the return of the customers that we need to plan for. You must also prepare for the return of your employees. Will they feel safe? Will there be a new protocol? Will they be motivated to help you capture as much business as possible? Will you need to hire new staff or retrain existing staff?

In our 11 Tips to Prepare for Business – Post Coronavirus, Tip #9 is to Create a Reopening Promotion. The bigger the better! Make your promotion and offers fun, exciting, and attractive as possible. During this re-entry of commerce, you are not only in competition with “like” businesses but also with every other business category that has been stagnant since late February. There is only so much money to go around so make sure you are prepared to capture your fair share.

If you would like to see all 11 Tips to Prepare for Business – Post Coronavirusclick here.


 

A Dose of Happy and Healthy

While the exact number is debated, what isn’t debated is that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.  So as an old boss once said to me, “It takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile, so quit working so hard!”

With all that is going on in our world, we thought we’d take a break from the serious side of running a business and put a smile on your face, or add to the smile that’s already there.

One of the “good” things to come out of lockdowns and quarantines, besides spending more quality time with our families, is the new and often hilarious memes that we see on social and digital media.

If you need a good laugh, and we all do, simply google “COVID-19 memes”. You can laugh to your heart’s content. Here are some favorites.


     

 

    

 

          

A good marketing lesson that can be learned from these is that cute, happy, and funny sell.  If you’re looking for ways to add cute, happy, and funny into your marketing, here are a few ideas:

  1. If you have a marquee sign, use it to display a cute or funny saying, a meme.
  2. Send special notes (emails or letters) to your customers using cute or humorous quotes or memes.
  3. Post some of these around the office or store. Your employees and customers will smile.

You may not be able to change a situation, but with humor, you can change your attitude about it.”   – Allen Klein

Stay Safe – Stay Healthy – Stay Strong …and Laugh a Lot!


An Opportunity to Evolve…Create a Category

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Right now, lemons are definitely being thrown at many businesses.  Are you open to making a different kind of lemonade?

For many business owners, this is a perfect time to re-evaluate their business and potentially re-position their company.  What is it that you’re currently “known for”?  Are you known for having the lowest prices, best selection, highest quality, the fastest service? Or, are you not really known for anything specific.  Is there something different that you would like to be “known for”?

If you are looking to re-position your business, NOW is a perfect time to start planning and potentially implementing your NEW position. Many brands have been born during or immediately following a major crisis!

Do we really believe that a business can consistently offer the highest quality and the lowest price?

Many marketers make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people. Consumers’ minds won’t allow a business to own both the quality position and the discount position.

Very often the position you own is not that of a particular product or service, but rather it is an experience or demographic.

For example, Michelin doesn’t own the tire category, they own safety, while Pirelli owns the performance experience. Both come with a higher price tag and both have plenty of consumers who value their product.

GEICO doesn’t own the insurance category, they own “saving you time and money”.  They never speak to how well they pay claims.  On the other hand, if you want an insurance company that you are confident will pay your claims, even the crazy ones, you’re more inclined to lean toward Farmers Insurance. “They know a thing or two because they’ve seen a thing or two”.

In their groundbreaking book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Al Reis and Jack Trout state law #2 as: “If you can’t be first in a category, create a category you can be first in”.

Through marketing and advertising, a business can create its own niche or demographic category.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending upon whether you want lemons or lemonade, now is a good time for many of us to re-evaluate the position your business holds in the minds of your customers, potential customers, and your community.

Former Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, said this about a crisis, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

Being known for something specific is far more profitable than trying to be all things to all people!

If you’re looking to create a category you can own, click here to see The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.  If you’d like to further discuss creating a category for your business to own, reply to me at this email address.

Stay Safe – Stay Healthy – Stay Strong!


 

An Opportunity to Evolve…Create a Category

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Right now, lemons are definitely being thrown at many businesses.  Are you open to making a different kind of lemonade?

For many business owners, this is a perfect time to re-evaluate their business and potentially re-position their company.  What is it that you’re currently “known for”?  Are you known for having the lowest prices, best selection, highest quality, the fastest service? Or, are you not really known for anything specific.  Is there something different that you would like to be “known for”?

If you are looking to re-position your business, NOW is a perfect time to start planning and potentially implementing your NEW position. Many brands have been born during or immediately following a major crisis!

Do we really believe that a business can consistently offer the highest quality and the lowest price?

Many marketers make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people. Consumers’ minds won’t allow a business to own both the quality position and the discount position.

Very often the position you own is not that of a particular product or service, but rather it is an experience or demographic.

For example, Michelin doesn’t own the tire category, they own safety, while Pirelli owns the performance experience. Both come with a higher price tag and both have plenty of consumers who value their product.

GEICO doesn’t own the insurance category, they own “saving you time and money”.  They never speak to how well they pay claims.  On the other hand, if you want an insurance company that you are confident will pay your claims, even the crazy ones, you’re more inclined to lean toward Farmers Insurance. “They know a thing or two because they’ve seen a thing or two”.

In their groundbreaking book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Al Reis and Jack Trout state law #2 as: “If you can’t be first in a category, create a category you can be first in”.

Through marketing and advertising, a business can create its own niche or demographic category.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending upon whether you want lemons or lemonade, now is a good time for many of us to re-evaluate the position your business holds in the minds of your customers, potential customers, and your community.

Former Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, said this about a crisis, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

Being known for something specific is far more profitable than trying to be all things to all people!

If you’re looking to create a category you can own, click here to see The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.  If you’d like to further discuss creating a category for your business to own, reply to me at this email address.

Stay Safe – Stay Healthy – Stay Strong!


 

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
(Ries & Trout)

1.  The Law of Leadership  –  Be the first.  Be the brand name.  It’s better to be first than it is to be better.
2.  The Law of Category – If you can’t be first in a category, create a new category to be first in.  Then promote your category
3.  The Law of the Mind – Are you first in their mind?  It’s better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace.
4.  The Law of Perception – Perception is reality. Marketing is not a battle of products, it’s a battle of perceptions.
5.  The Law of Focus – The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word(s) in the prospect’s mind.  The simpler the message, the easier it is to put into the mind.
6.  The Law of Exclusivity – Two companies cannot own the same word in the prospect’s mind.  Research shows your desirable attributes, but does your competitor own any of them?
7.  The Law of the Ladder – The strategy to use depends on which rung you occupy on the ladder.
8.  The Law of Duality – A competitor is inevitable.  In the long-run, every market becomes a two-horse race.
9.  The Law of Opposites – Avoid competitors’ strengths, exploit their weaknesses.  If you’re shooting for 2nd place, your strategy is determined by the leader.
10.  The Law of Division – Over time, a category divides and becomes 2 or more categories.
11.  The Law of Perspective – Marketing effects take place over an extended period of time.  Tactics that produce short-term gains can cause long-term loss.
12.  The Law of Line Extension – There is always an irresistible pressure to extend the equity of the brand.
13.  The Law of Sacrifice – You have to give something up in order to get something.
14.  The Law of Attributes – For every attribute there is an opposite, effective attribute.
15.  The Law of Candor – When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive.
16.  The Law of Singularity – In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results.  Attack with one bold stroke.
17.  The Law of Unpredictability – Unless you write your competitors’ plans, you can’t predict the future.
18.  The Law of Success – Success often leads to arrogance.  Arrogance leads to failure.
19.  The Law of Failure – Failure is to be expected and accepted.  Take risks, recognize failure early, cut your losses, and move on.
20.  The Law of Hype – The situation is often the opposite of how it appears in the press.  Success starts quietly.
21.  The Law of Acceleration – Successful programs are not built on fads, they’re built on trends.
22.  The Law of Resources – Without adequate funding, an idea won’t get off the ground.

 

Two Things to Help

During these uncertain times, our number one concern is the health and wealth of you, your family, and your business.  We understand that your days are filled with a mixture of emotions.  We simply want you to know that we are here to help in any way we can.

This week’s SoundADvice is short and to the point.  We are providing what we think are two very valuable pieces of information to help you get through these times.

The first is a link to the Small Business Administration’s website and will take you directly to information on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  This is a major part of the government stimulus program and is intended to help small and medium-sized businesses through this unprecedented time. There are four parts to this bill, each intended to provide money and financing to help you get through this.  The website should provide you with information and contacts so you can apply for your share of these funds.  We are simply providing you the information. If you have questions on the CARES Act, we suggest you contact your bank, credit union, or financial institution.

The second is a 21-minute video that I highly encourage you to watch.  Eric Rhodes, founder and publisher of Radio Ink, interviews Jay Abraham.  Jay is considered one of the sharpest marketing and business minds in the entire world.  He charges and gets $100,000 a day for consulting and $15,000 an hour for phone consultations.  This 21-minute video will hopefully help you answer some of the questions you have been asking yourself.

We hope that you find the information helpful.  If you would like help or more information regarding your advertising, click here.

Stay Safe – Stay Healthy – Stay Strong!

Preparing for WFH

If you google search “WFH”, you will learn that there are approximately 16 different acronyms for WFH. But due to our recent events, the two most recognizable are “Work from Home” or “Working from Home”.

Before COVID-19, it was estimated that 8-million US employees worked from home regularly.  Today, that number has multiplied many times, and some say that it may be the “new normal”.

WFH sounds simple.  However, if it were, wouldn’t everyone be doing it? The fact is, it’s not simple. It’s not convenient. It’s not always feasible or the best situation, and by most standards, it’s not as productive as working in a normal office or work environment.

Because of our current circumstances, today many business owners have either chosen to or have been forced to take the office home.  Whether you have already made the transition or are considering it, it’s imperative that you keep the days as normal and as productive as possible.

WFH comes with many distractions. Getting the most out of every hour and every day is critical, even if it’s a short-term situation.  To help you get the most out of your employees, we’ve created a list of 8 rules for working at home.  Applying these rules in some shape and form will not only help you be fair to your employees but at the same time, keep them productive. Rule #1 is Hold them Accountable.  While you don’t want them feeling untrusted, it’s only fair that you expect a good day’s work for a good day’s pay.  Rule #2 is having them Set a Schedule.  WFH comes with many easy distractions. Having a set schedule will keep them on task and give them daily goals.

Today’s technology (Google Hangout, Zoom, GoToMeeting, YouTube videos and many others), many of which are free, allows us to have face to face meetings and conversations.  Rule #6 is Start each Day Off with a Video Conference. Make this a positive experience. You might consider starting every morning with a short online meeting.  They can be brief with an agenda that looks something like this:

1) Good Morning with a positive quote

2) Good news from yesterday (positive comments about customers or work situations, celebrate positive things that happened)

3) Challenges that they are facing by working at home or with customers, etc.

4) Share positive ideas and comments (ways to improve – what they are thankful for)

5) Motivational or training videos

Everyone hopes that our current situation will be short-lived. In the meantime, if you would like to see all 8 Rules for Working From Home click here. We hope you find them helpful.

Stay Safe – Stay Healthy – Stay Strong!

 

 

 

 

How Are You Doing?

Hello and Good Morning!

First, we want to say “Thank You” for taking the time to read this.  We hope that you enjoy the weekly SoundADvice articles and find value in the 3-5 minutes that you spend with it each week.

So, “How are you doing?”, and we sincerely mean that.  Most of you reading this are business owners or managers.  You are in charge of running your company, and most likely, you are leading people.  We know your tasks and the burdens on your shoulders are greater than maybe they have ever been.

This economic downturn is different than what we experienced with 911 and the 2008-10 recession. A different set of circumstances, with different challenges.  But be assured that this too will end, and business and life will return to normal.

We simply want you to know that we are here for you. We empathize with you. Our goal is to help you GROW your business by providing solid advertising solutions and ideas.  Today is no different.

Some businesses are considering cuts to their advertising.  Some will remain steady and hold their course.  And, believe it or not, some are considering adding to their budget!  See, history tells us that those who maintain or increase will not only prosper during the downturn, but they will grow by leaps and bounds when we exit.  (See last week’s SoundADvice titled, “Economic Challenges – Are You prepared?”)

Regardless of what you are thinking, give us a call if you want to visit. We will be happy to stop by or visit by phone or computer to discuss options with you.  Above all, despite the challenges and the not knowing, we encourage you to remain positive, for yourself, for your family, and your clients.

We simply want you to know that we care how you are doing and that we are here to help!  Today, we leave you with two thoughts to ponder:

“Staying positive doesn’t mean that things will turn out okay.  Rather, it is knowing that YOU will be okay no matter how things turn out.”

…and

            “Being positive in a negative situation is not being naive.   It’s Leadership!”

10 Rules for Surviving a Recession

1. Protect Cash Flow

Cash Flow is the lifeblood of your business; to keep your small business healthy, cash needs to continue flowing through. Now no matter how tough times get, having cash flow out of your business will never be a problem.  

2. Ensure Everyone is Vested in the Company’s Success

This is a time to make sure your team is “all-in” and it’s also a time to build a better team.  When a recession hits, it’s imperative that everyone is working at full capacity.  Be sure to encourage, train, and show your appreciation for their extra efforts.

3. Manage Invoicing and Collections Properly

When companies anticipate a recession, they usually start paying their vendors slowly. 30 days become 45.  45 days become 60.

Collecting invoices is one of the most important functions of any business and even more so in a slow economy.  

The phrase, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, needs to be applied more now than ever.  Consider changing your receivable practice now before the recession officially hits.  Note:  When applying grease, be gentle! 

 4. Review Inventory Management Practices

See what can be done to reduce inventory costs without sacrificing the quality of goods or inconveniencing customers. Are you ordering too many of a particular item? Can an item be sourced somewhere else at a better price? 

Just because you’ve always ordered something from a particular supplier or done things in a particular way doesn’t mean you have to keep doing them that way – especially when those other ways may save you money.

5. Focus on Core Competencies

Drop the extras and focus on what you do best that is most profitable to recession-proof your business.

Consider hard before adding other products or services to your offerings.  At best, it’s a waste of time and money. Worse, it can damage your core business by taking your time and money away from what you do best and/or damaging your brand and reputation.

6. Develop and Implement Strategies to Win the Competition’s Customers

If your small business is going to prosper in tough times, you need to continue to expand your customer/client base – and that means drawing in customers from the competition.

How can you do this? By offering something more or something different than the competition does. Increasing your customer service and promoting it is one of the easiest ways to outdistance your competition.

7. Hang on to your Current Customers and Clients

We’ve all heard the adage that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. The bird in the hand is your customer or client, and he or she is an opportunity to make more sales without incurring the costs of finding a new customer.

Even better, he or she might be a loyal customer, giving you many more sales opportunities. If you want to recession-proof your business, you can’t afford to ignore the potential profits of shifting your sales focus to include established customers. 

8. Don’t Cut Back on Marketing

In lean times, many small businesses make the mistake of cutting their marketing budget to the bone or even eliminating it entirely. But lean times are exactly the times your small business most needs marketing.

Consumers are restless and looking to make changes in their buying decisions. You need to help them find your products and services and choose them rather than others by getting your name out there. Don’t quit advertising! If possible, step up your marketing efforts.

9. Keep Personal Credit in Good Shape

Hard times make it harder to borrow and small business loans are often among the first to disappear. With good personal credit, you’ll stand a much better chance of being able to borrow the money needed to keep your business afloat if you need to.

10. Drop Unprofitable Products/Services

Work with your finance department (or CPA) to determine if you have unprofitable products/services. Unprofitable products or services should be cut.

The only exceptions to this rule are products/services that you consider “strategic.” These items are sales that generate additional sales from other products/services to compensate for the loss.

Economic Challenges –  Are you Prepared?

Economic challenge or recession; are they one in the same? The true definition of a recession is “a period of temporary ‘economic decline’ during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters”.

The official arbiter of U.S. recessions, the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research, states the last recession in the U.S. began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, lasting over eighteen months.

While the talk of the next recession has been going on for over a year, it has been greatly enhanced over the last 4 weeks due to coronavirus (COVID-19), the pending U.S. election, and now the oil dispute between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

If and when the U.S. goes into a certified recession remains to be seen.  But if so, are you prepared?

One of the first things businesses tend to do is slash or even eliminate their advertising and marketing.  The big question is…is this a wise business move or a mistake?

Study after study conducted after the past 5 major recessions suggests that companies that continued to advertise during the recession outperformed those that didn’t by major proportions. McGraw-Hill Research conducted a study from 1981-85. Out of the 600 business-to-business companies analyzed, the ones who continued to advertise during the 1981-1982 recession hit a 256% growth by 1985 over their competitors that eliminated or decreased spending.

This rule doesn’t only apply to the most recent recessions. During the 1920s, Post Cereal leading their category.  During the “Great Depression”, Post significantly cut back on its advertising while rival Kellogg’s doubled its advertising spend by investing heavily in radio and introduced a new cereal called Rice Krispies. Kellogg’s profits soared by 30% and they became the new category leader and held that position for decades.

Perhaps the best quote about advertising during a recession came from Walmart founder, Sam Walton. When asked, “what do you think about a recession?”, he replied, “I thought about it and decided not to participate.”

Preparing in advance of a recession is the first rule in managing your business for if and when it arrives.  Rule #6 is Develop and Implement Strategies to Win the Competition’s Customers.

 

Big Returns on Little Things

In today’s business economy you need referrals and repeat business more than ever! Nothing impacts the way your customers feel about your business more than the way you and your people treat them.

Ensuring that your people create a positive customer experience every time is no easy matter, and often it’s the “little things” that delight or annoy your customers.

Bruce Barton, author, congressman, and founder of Betty Crocker, said, “Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think there are no little things.”

It’s oftentimes the little things that proved the biggest rewards!

People, not businesses, nor products, create the customer experience, and it’s that experience that will dictate your referral and repeat rates.

Little Thing #10 from our 10 Little Things for Big Paybacks is, Everything Rolls Downhill. The way you treat your staff is the way they will treat their jobs and your customers! Respecting your staff also reduces absenteeism and internal theft rates. To create a culture where your employees are more apt to do the little things makes the job fun. Celebrate successes, have staff-only events and offer employee pricing to them and their families.

To see all 10 Little Things For Big Paybacksclick here.

 

 

Three Ways to Grow a Business

As owners or managers of a business, it’s our responsibility to not only figure out how to keep our business functioning properly and effectively, but also how to GROW our business.  Staying level or going backward are not options.  Profit and growth are key! So how do you grow a business?  It’s more complicated than just increasing sales.  If you’re trying to grow your business, start by understanding that there are only three ways to grow a business.

1.) Sell more of what you are currently selling.

2.) Sell what you are currently selling for more money.

3.) Add additional product(s) or service(s) to what you are currently selling.

Regardless of how you slice this, nearly everything you can come up with to grow a business will fall under one of these three headings. While discounting and sales events can help grow a business, lowering your profits is not the fastest or the most efficient way to grow.

In our Eight Critical Profit Factors, factor number two is, “Have an up-sell, cross-sell or add-on sales plan”.  Include a staff incentive with every promotion and train your staff to up-sell, but not hard-sell, every customer.

Attracting a customer and getting them to open their wallets can be a difficult and costly process.  But once they’re in your showroom and have their wallets open, an accompanying up-sell is relatively easy.  Once the customer has chosen a bed, selling the matching nightstands can make the difference between profits or break-even.

SoundADvice is designed to offer you meaningful and helpful tips to help you run your business more smoothly.  This week’s issue will help you increase your sales at a profit.  Click here if you would like to see all 8 Critical Profit Factors to improve your bottom line.

Who Are You and What Do You Do?

Does your business name say what you do, or does it leave the public guessing?

In a perfect world, the name of business clearly says what they do or sell…names like Valvoline Instant Oil Change or Lawn and Snow Company instantly “says” what the company does.

If your business name doesn’t say what you do, we’re not suggesting that you change the name, but, it’s not too late to develop and promote a slogan that can be every bit as strong for your identity as the name itself.

Strong slogans not only say “what you do” but more importantly describe “what” you want your business to be “known” for.

GEICO’S “Fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent on your insurance” is a prime example of a slogan that tells the prospect “what” they want you to remember about them.  They will save you time and money!

A local example for Sturdevant’s Auto Parts is, “Start with Sturdevant’s”!  The slogan explains their strategy… they want people to call Sturdevant’s first because they will have the parts you want or need.

If your business name says what you do but you don’t have a strong slogan, a good, strong advertising campaign can cure some of these ills. Today, there are simply too many names, too many competitors, and too much fragmentation for you to be remembered for your name alone.

A strong slogan, used consistently over time, will differentiate you in your prospects’ minds and give you a competitive advantage.

Having a strong Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) is even more important in the age of electronic media. Studies suggest that 70% of people will click on the first business they are aware of or have a preference for, rather than clicking on the first name revealed at the top of the search engine page.

In the new electronic era, radio and the internet are the perfect combinations.  Having strong TOMA (Top of Mind Awareness) is always the best SEO (search engine optimization).

 

Location – Location – Location

In the pre-internet world, it was said that the three keys to success were location, location, location.

Your location had to be easy to find and convenient to access.

In the internet age, all businesses are easy to find and convenient to access online and via mobile devices. A search for what you sell will invariably reveal a long list of your competitors who are all in the race to be near the top of a search.

While there are tricks to the trade of being found online, the only sure way your business will be found online is if your customers search for you by name.

Therefore, the most important location for your business is in the minds of your prospects and customers. Your business needs to establish a pre-need, pre-search preference and Top-Of-Mind Awareness in order for your prospects to search for your business by name.

Click here to read the magic formulas to capturing Top-Of-Mind Awareness and more internet searches

The Hidden Benefits of Advertising

Regardless of the advertising vehicle, you choose to use, you have a preconceived expectation about what your investment should yield. You refer to it as ROI, Return on Investment.

When you invest money in advertising, depending upon what you are trying to accomplish, the results may vary.  If you are running a special event, you should expect that your advertising will drive potential customers towards your products or service immediately.  If you are running a Branding Campaign, the results are spread out over time and you may not see or feel the immediate impact.

However, businesses that advertise, especially on traditional intrusive media like TV, radio, and billboards will have a unique and distinct advantage over businesses that do not advertise, and it has nothing to do with customers calling or coming through your doors.  There are “Hidden Benefits” to advertising that are rarely taken into consideration when calculating your ROI.

Hidden Benefit #1 is Improved Closing Ratio. It’s much easier for your salespeople to sell a product which has created a pre-need awareness and preference.  If you were selling vacuum cleaners door to door or even on-line, would you rather try to sell a well-known brand like Hoover or a brand that no one has ever heard of?

Hidden Benefit #7 is Recruit Higher Quality People. The best quality people prefer and aspire to work for a business that they have heard of and trust and has created a well-known name through advertising.

Smart business owners understand the hidden benefits of advertising.  This, along with knowing your non-advertising competitors don’t have this advantage, can set you well on your way to owning your category.

Sales Meeting or Training Meeting?

Before we get into what we should call them, let’s start with, are you actually conducting regular meetings? If you are, congratulations, and if you’re not… START!

Let’s be honest, nobody likes sales meetings, including the person responsible for putting the meetings together.  Creating good, productive meetings, especially on a regular basis, is not easy.

While regular meetings are not a must to running a profitable business, most successful business owners will tell you, without them, you’ll never be as successful as you can be!  If you have three or four employees, you should be having some sort of structured meetings to keep your team informed and improving.

Now, onto what you should call them, Sales Meetings or Training Meetings?

Training meetings is the preferred verbiage for two reasons; One, the word “training” symbolizes that you are getting better.  As owners/managers/coaches, it’s part of your job to help your team get better EVERY DAY and that very much includes training EVERY WEEK!

Secondly, I have never met anyone that honestly admits to liking “sales meetings”.  In a survey of over 540 media reps conducted by ENS Media, it was revealed that 89% of the reps felt sales meetings were a WASTE OF TIME! I am going to go out on a limb to say, all things equal, if those same meetings would have been called “training meetings” the results would have been a bit more positive. This is simply because the reps might have felt that someone was trying to HELP them rather than just sitting in on a “sales meeting”.

Training meetings create a positive vibe within a business, and employees appreciate being part of a “nurturing” culture.  So, not only will you have a better trained and informed team, you’ll have a more positive team, and everyone knows what that can do for a business.

If you would like help in either starting regular training meetings or improving on your current meetings, click here for a list of the “10 Do’s & Don’ts for Effective Meetings”.

Frequency: How Much is Too Much?

One of the most indisputable truths of marketing is that repetition, also called “frequency”, improves sales.

Frequency is the glue that brands or welds the message in the consumer’s mind. Over time, frequency helps build trust, improves your odds of being front and center close to the time of purchase, and helps make your brand and message more memorable.

Marketing guru, Seth Godin, says “If you promote something twice to one-hundred people it will lead to more sales than if you promote it once to two-hundred people”.

Seth goes on to say, however, “The line between frequency and annoying is thin indeed. At some point, though, the frequency of repetition stops being helpful enthusiasm and starts being selfish.”

Even the most creative and profound messages run their course. Your ads need to be changed at certain intervals to avoid “commercial burnout”. Commercial burnout is described as using the same commercial with such frequency over an extended period of time that audiences literally ignore or become annoyed by it.

Delivering a consistent image or identity over time remains one of the pillars of successful advertising, but you have to deliver that message in meaningful and refreshing ways to avoid burnout.

The length of time you can run the same ad without risking tune out or burnout depends upon three key factors:

1.) How many time periods or different audiences your ads reach.

2.) How many days your campaign runs.

3.) How meaningful or interesting your campaign is.

Click here to see our Creative Burnout Matrix to help you determine when your campaigns max out and are ready for freshening up.

Tradigital

Tradigital… It’s the new buzz word in the automotive advertising world and will soon transcend into the rest of the advertising world. It’s derived from a combination of traditional media, (Radio and TV) and digital media, meaning any advertising transmitted via the internet on computers, phones, tablets, etc.

Automobile dealers are taking P&G’s (Proctor & Gamble) lead in understanding that digital advertising, in most business categories, cannot and does not create demand for products or services.  Digital media is primarily used at the end of the buying cycle, where they do their research and is the “How people buy”, whereas traditional media (Radio/TV) create the desire or emotional connection that creates the “Why people buy”.

Ryan Deiss has been called one of the world’s leading digital marketers.  While speaking to a group of advertisers, he showed them the eight sequential things about online marketing.

“The first of the eight was Awareness”, he said.  “No one in the room should be spending a penny online for awareness.  The cost of creating awareness online is incredibly expensive compared to radio.  You just need to maximize the online traffic that radio can easily drive to your website.”

By utilizing the tradigital philosophy you will follow your potential customers on their natural buying cycle.  TV and Radio will connect with them on an emotional level long before they need your product or service, and when they do need you, they are more apt to search for you on one of the many digital platforms.

If you are all digital, the experts like P&G, Ryan Deiss, and experts in the automotive industry might suggest you get focused and become Tradigital!

To be better at both, click here to receive the Seven Fundamental Truths of driving successful online marketing.

Summertime – Fun Time!

Regardless of what part of the country you live in, North or South, East or West, for most, summertime is a fun time and a great time to launch and execute promotions for your business.

The next time you are planning a significant event or promotion, consider the power of live radio remotes.

Caution: If you’re not REALLY having an event or promotion, DO NOT have a live remote broadcast. Live remote broadcasts can be one of the most exciting and profitable traffic builders you can buy, if…  you don’t expect your remote to be the event but, use it to promote your event.

All too often advertisers depend on and expect radio personalities, station vehicles, tents, swag (prizes) and the immediacy of live broadcasts to create a successful event.  There is more to it than that!

Sure, a small percentage of people will show up simply for the “free stuff” and the excitement of having a radio station and personality at your business, but the goal of an event or promotion is really three-fold:

1)    Drive immediate traffic

2)    Increase sales for that specific event or promotion

3)    Increase awareness to your business

…and a bonus is reason 4) Residual business.  A well-executed event powered by a live remote broadcast can drive more traffic in the select days that follow the remote than it did the day of the remote.

The remote broadcast should not be about the radio station.  It’s key that the majority of the focus be on the specials you have for this specific event.  Giveaways and registrations are great and can add excitement, but make sure they play second fiddle to the business and the promotion.

Are Your Employees REALLY Working?  

An old business owner joke goes like this; a reporter one day asked the CEO of a major company, “So, how many employees are working in your company?”  The CEO replied, “approximately half of them”.

It’s funny, but the problem is, it’s not necessarily a joke!  Today with the ever-expanding network of digital and social capabilities, the problem is getting worse, not better.

fortune.com article stated that the average worker spends a full day of the workweek doing things other than, work!  Paying an employee for 8 hours and getting only 6 hours of quality time is troubling, at the least.

According to an article posted by thebalancecareers.com, the most significant reasons why workers waste time were:

35% were not challenged enough

32% felt that there was no incentive to work harder

30% got no satisfaction from what they do, and

23% were just downright bored.

It’s no surprise that motivated employees with clear expectations get more done than those that simply show up and do what they “think” should be done.  The trick is, how do you keep them motivated?

ENS Media’s “10 Leadership Tactics to Inspire Performance” suggests it starts with hiring. Hire on attitude and effort, you can train them on the skills required. Task #4 suggests you have “clear expectations”.  Most people appreciate clear direction and boundaries and will “respect only what you inspect”.  Make sure they understand that doing non-work-related tasks are not tolerated, and you can bet the time wasted will be far less.

If you would like a copy of the “10 Leadership Tactics to Inspire Performance”, click here.

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

All of your suppliers have a vested interest in your success, and most of them have access to extraordinary marketing funds and resources beyond traditional co-op to help you sell more of their products.

The problem is, seldom does anyone ask for these funds! If you don’t access those funds, you are literally throwing money away, or worse yet, your competitors will scoop those funds and use them against you.

In our “How to Leverage Your Suppliers” Marketing Muscle, tactic number one is “Tender your Next Ad Campaign”. Present a written proposal for submissions for marketing support from all of your suppliers outlining your proposed advertising schedule and investment, along with any special displays, promotions, demonstrations or other exposure the winning bidder will receive.

Many business owners believe their hands are tied to rigid manufacturers’ restrictions if they use manufacturers’ co-op advertising funds, but seldom is this the case.  The Squeaky Wheel, often times gets the grease!

If you are an appliance dealer, for example, and you sell GE and Whirlpool, your GE representative has a vested interest in you featuring GE versus Whirlpool in your ad.

If you make a presentation outlining the kind of campaign you propose to sell more GE without using the standard GE script or ad copy that the manufacturer supplies, it will generally be approved by their office because they don’t want your campaign to feature their competitor.

Still, other businesses opt not to leverage their suppliers’ marketing muscle because it takes time and effort. In today’s competitive environment you need to take advantage of every competitive edge you can.

SoundADvice is a co-production of this station and ENS Media USA to help local businesses increase their sales and their return on investment in advertising. Your SoundADvice marketing tips are emailed to you on our behalf from ENS Media USA.

ENS Media USA’s address is: 6523 S. Killarney Ct., Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57108

How to Leverage Your Suppliers’ Marketing Muscle

All of your suppliers have a vested interest in your success; the more you sell, the more they sell. And they all have marketing departments with the experience, expertise, and funds to help you create more successful advertising campaigns.  Accessing this marketing muscle is a classic case of “Ask and ye shall receive”.

1.)  Tender Your Next Ad Campaign. Present a written proposal for submissions, to all of your suppliers, outlining your proposed advertising schedule and investment, along with any special displays, promotions, demonstrations or other exposure the winning bidder will receive. Have a deadline for submissions and be prepared to make a commitment to buy from the winning supplier.

2.) Think Beyond Cash. Your suppliers have more to offer than cash, credits or discounts. They often have branded advertising specialties or prizes they can offer for your campaign. They might also offer their vehicle presence for “truckload sales” or arrange factory demos at your place of business.

3.) Leverage Your Suppliers’ Expertise. Ask your suppliers to participate in your sales training program. They often have trainers that can and will train your people how to sell their products at no cost to you.

4.) Ask for Exclusivity. Where applicable, ask to be the first in your market to introduce a new line, or ask for a period of exclusivity. In some cases, you may be able to persuade a supplier to “private brand” their product specifically for you. When you have a private label or period of exclusivity, you are able to capture larger margins because consumers can’t make direct product-to-product comparisons with your competitors.

5.) Participate in Your Suppliers’ Promo Calendar. Many suppliers have promotions like traveling road shows, demos, personality appearances and more. Ask to see their promotions calendar and negotiate. Try to make your location a player in their events.

6.) Capture the Co-op Due to You. Regional sales and marketing managers do not like to see co-op funds go unused. If you don’t use the budgeted funds by year-end, they’ll often roll them into another fund to be utilized by your competitors. Schedule some time to understand what co-op is available to you and get your fair share. Consider asking near year-end if there are unused funds you could capture.