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Issue June 2003                               "Keeping Businesses Moving Towards Success"

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Growing your business doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. These simple, cost-effective ideas are designed to help you increase your sales and profits, without draining your budget.

1. ESTABLISH A TARGET MARKET - If you're trying to target everybody, then chances are, you're not targeting anybody. For example, if you're selling something that homeowners would want, as opposed to renters, then target homeowners. State your target clearly in all of your marketing materials.

2. BE PERSISTENT -  Persistence is power when it comes to increasing your sales and profit. Far too many firms fail because they don't follow-up long enough to produce results. Most sales are made after the seventh or eighth contact--the sale is rarely made after just one contact.

3. STOP SPENDING MONEY ON INEFFECTIVE MARKETING - One great way to save money is to stop wasting it on marketing and advertising that isn't producing for you. Don't forget to track the number of responses you are getting from whatever method you use. If you're not reaching your goals, then your strategy needs to be revised.

4. NETWORK - Networking is a great way to get your message out to a large number of people. Since each person knows so many other people, you can spread the word about your business pretty quickly. Go to your local Chamber of Commerce meetings. Shake hands at business functions. Exchange business cards with associates you see in stores, churches and community events. Take advantage of every opportunity to get your business name out in the marketplace.

5. SET GOALS AND DEADLINES -  Spend some time and think about what you want to achieve and set some goals for yourself and your business. These are vital to your business success. State your goals as specific numbers. (e.g. 5 new accounts, 15% increase in sales, etc.)

6. FOCUS ON BENEFITS NOT ON FEATURES - Spend your time focusing on how your prospects will benefit if they purchase your product or service. For example, if you're selling central air conditioning units, don't sell the power of the unit. Sell the benefit of comfort. Selling insurance? Don't sell the coverage amount. Sell the benefit of security.

7. WRITE ARTICLES WITH TIPS-  Newspapers and other publications are always looking for helpful tips articles that would be of benefit to their readers. Submit simple, problem/solution type articles related to your product or service. State the problem, and then share some insightful tips that can help to solve the problem. Always include information at the end of your articles so that people will know how to contact you to receive more information about your services.

9. SUBMIT PRESS RELEASES -  Press releases are a very cost-effective way to get your message out to many people. Submit your press releases to a wide variety of publications for immediate release. Keep in mind that the newspapers will usually only print releases that are of interest to their readers, rather than of a selling nature.

10. OFFER TO BE A SPEAKER - Business and civic organizations are always looking for speakers for their meetings. Make yourself available by contacting these groups and offering to talk about your area of expertise.

11. GIVE A FREE DEMONSTRATION - If possible, give free demonstrations of your product or service to those that might be interested. Follow-up with these prospects in a timely manner to attempt sales conversion.

12. DISTRIBUTE SAMPLES - If possible, get samples into the hands of people who may be potential customers. People always ike to try before they buy.

13. DISTRIBUTE INFORMATIVE LITERATURE - Make sure that you get your product benefits, features and ideas into the hands of your prospects. If people don't know what you have, how can they make a decision to purchase it?

14. USE THE TELEPHONE - The telephone can be one of your most effective, and least expensive, sales tools. Call people who you would like to do business with. Ask for a few minutes of their time so you can show them how your services can help them save time, cut costs, increase sales, etc.

15. FOCUS ON HELPING, INSTEAD OF SELLING - You shouldn't be trying to force people into purchasing your product or service. You should find people who want your product or service and then focus on offering any helpful information to them so that they can make an informed decision.

16. GENERATE REFERRALS - Referrals are a great way to generate new business. Don't just wait for people to refer you. Proactively ask for referrals from existing customers, acquaintances, family and friends. Don't forget to graciously thank anybody who refers your business to someone.

17. TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS ABOUT THEM AND THEIR NEEDS - Listen carefully to your prospects and customers. Most company publications, ads, letters and sales literature are filled with words, photographs and information that do nothing more than toot the company's horn. Talk about your customers needs instead. Rather than using the words, "I," "me," "my," use "you" and "your."

18. DEVELOP CUSTOMER-ORIENTED RELATIONSHIPS -  Take an interest in your prospects and customers. Send them helpful articles that you think would interest them. If you know of an event that your prospect or customer will be celebrating, such as an anniversary or birthday, send them a card or small gift. They will appreciate your generosity and will think of you when they need your service, or if they know someone else who may need your service.

19. CALL FOR ACTION - Getting your message into the marketplace is important, but getting prospects/customers to respond is the real test. Tell your prospects exactly what you want them to do next (e.g. call for your free brochure, drop your reply card in the mail, etc.)

20. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TESTIMONIALS - Whenever an existing or potential customer says something positive about your company, ask them if you could use their statement in your marketing materials. Your company's credibility will increase with the use of testimonials from happy customers.

21. MAKE IT EASY FOR PEOPLE TO DO BUSINESS WITH YOU - Your customer is not going to work for you. You have to work for them. Do anything you can to make doing business with your company easy and a pleasure.

22. FOCUS ON CONTENT - When developing your sales materials and literature, spend less time worrying about the graphics and colors, and more time working on the content -- what's in it for your customers. As long as your message is enticing, black ink on white paper could work just as effectively as expensive four-color materials.

23. LEARN A NEW TECHNIQUE EVERY DAY -  Read, go to seminars, listen to audio tapes. Continuously improving your sales and marketing skills will help you to increase your sales and profits. Reasonably priced marketing materials, like books, courses, workbooks, newsletters, audio cassettes, etc. can be excellent resources, that allow you to learn and apply effective marketing systems at your own pace.

24. ASSOCIATE WITH POSITIVE, SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE -  Talking to and learning from people who are always striving for and meeting their goals, will help you commit to and achieve your own objectives.

25. BELIEVE IN THE PRODUCT OR SERVICE YOU SELL -  If you don't believe in the quality and benefits of your product and service, your prospects won't either. Present the benefits of your product/service with confidence and enthusiasm.

26. REALIZE THE LIFETIME VALUE OF YOUR CUSTOMERS -  Don't focus on generating one-time customers. Build a relationship so that a prospect becomes a repeat, lifetime customer. It is costlier to find a new customer than to sell to a previous one.

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*Article by Patricia Kopp.  Visit www.creativeBUSINESSworks.com for more original content on marketing tips, sales strategies and business success.
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