Every dollar is not a good dollar

September 13, 2017

DollarIf every dollar looks the same, how do you know which dollars are “good” dollars for your business? The reality is – every dollar is not created equal and doesn’t serve your business in the same way. In fact, some dollars actually cost you money.

Let’s say prospect #1 wants to buy something you don’t do very often and so you’re not as efficient at it as you are in other areas. On top of that, they’re in an industry that you don’t know very well. Earning that dollar is going to be slow and painful with a longer, larger ramp up time.

Even if you see that they have a big pile of dollars waiting to be spent – you might very well never get a chance to earn those extra dollars because you’re probably not going to delight them right out of the gate.

On the flip side, prospect #2 is in an industry that you know like the back of your hand. You know their jargon and quirks. On top of that, they want to buy the product or service that you sell day in and day out. You know exactly how to deliver on their need and you know they’re going to be elated at the results.

Each prospect has the same dollar. But the path you’re going to take to earn each dollar is very different, in terms of your enjoyment, their satisfaction and your potential profitability.

Logic tells us that we should:

  • Specialize in terms of whom we serve and what we offer, based on what we’re best at. We can’t know whom to serve until we know who we are.
  • We should have a clear picture of who our sweet spot clients are, based on who we are and only go after those prospects
  • We should discriminate – rewarding our sweet spot prospects for coming a little closer and making if more difficult for the not so right fit prospects to find/hire us
  • We should identify what we do best and not try to be everything to everybody. Saying no is a good thing. Having strategic partners is even better.

Logic may tell us all of that and yet – for many business leaders, sales team leaders and business owners – we can’t get past the fact that there’s a dollar on the table. We want the dollar.

Here’s the truth of the matter. I’m betting that right now you have a customer or two that you are literally paying for the privilege of doing work for them. That’s right — they are so unprofitable, because they’re the wrong fit, that you are losing money every day that you keep them as a client.

Their fees or purchases help with cash flow. It’s money in the door every month. That reality can often mask the truth underneath. You are losing money on that work. Many business owners are surprised when they crunch the numbers and realize one of their largest clients is actually one of their most unprofitable clients.

Before you go out and start pursuing new clients – I want you to evaluate the ones you already have. Crunch the numbers to see if you’re actually making money and rank your clients in terms of profitability. I bet there’s a surprise or two waiting for you.

Once you know which dollars are good dollars for your organization, it will help you target who your next customers should and should not be. Then pursue the right ones with a vengeance, knowing that each one you catch will make your business stronger and in a better position to say no to the bad dollars.

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Gratitude magnified

September 6, 2017

gratitude magnifiedLast week we explored the idea of how smart businesses recognize that gratitude isn’t just a worthy emotion – it’s smart marketing. Everyone wants to be appreciated and today, when businesses must compete for both customers and employees, it’s an important retention tool. We covered how to create a spirit of gratitude inside your organization last week. But how do you expand that out to your vendors and customers as well? Gratitude magnified.

The sad fact is this. You don’t have to do much to get noticed. Your vendors and customers are so used to not being appreciated, you’ll completely catch them off guard by showing a little appreciation. Much like with your internal team, this isn’t about how expensive it is, it’s about how genuine it is.

Let’s start with your vendors. Here are a few ways to let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.

Put the spotlight on them. All too often, our vendors remain in the shadows – quietly helping us serve our clients. But a memorable way to say thank you is to shine the spotlight on them. Of course, they should be asking you for a written testimonial but like most businesses, they’re too busy and it never rises to the top of the To-Do list. Proactively write a letter that specifically states why you value working with them and how they help you and your business.

Put it on letterhead and send them a hard copy for their own use. But don’t stop there. Take snippets of your glowing praise and post it on their Facebook page or tweet about their efforts.

Another way to get them some well-deserved attention is to actively connect them to other potential customers or referral sources. No doubt you know and work with other people they should meet. You can introduce them informally, make LinkedIn connections or better yet – why not throw a referral party and invite all of your vendors to come and meet each other. Odds are – they’re going to make some great connections and remember just who made it happen. That’s gratitude magnified.

For your customers, a more personal touch might be in order. Sure – you can do the holiday card or gift or even hold a client appreciation event. But I believe the more personal you make it, the more meaningful it is.

I’ve written about it before, but there’s something magical about a handwritten note. Think of it as your love letter to your customer. Let them know why you value their loyalty and trust. Share with them how they make your job easier, more fun or more exciting. Don’t type it – no matter how awful your handwriting is. It doesn’t have to be super long but it should be very specific. A generic thank you feels like you sent everyone the same note.

A variation on this would be to help your client experience something important to them at a whole new level. Maybe they’ve always wanted to learn how to bake or they love live theatre or professional hockey. Use your connections to get them behind the scenes at a local bakery for a one-on-one lesson or see if you can score them backstage access after a play or game. The key to this strategy is to go beyond just buying them something. It’s the extra effort that really says thank you. That’s gratitude magnified.

Just a final warning – all of your efforts get drastically watered down if you attach any sort of ask or payback to your act of gratitude. This isn’t the time to ask for more business or a referral. Just be grateful and then be quiet.

I think you’ll be surprised at what you hear in return.

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Be helpful or be gone

August 2, 2017

helpfulLast week, we explored the idea that email marketing is about earning the audience’s permission to keep talking. I suggested that there were two equally important elements – intent and content – that had to be in sync if you want to stick around in someone’s in-box. Now it’s time to talk about being helpful.

As I said last week, “Intent is really about respect and a genuine desire to help. When we prepare an email campaign, we need to ask ourselves if we’re truly being respectful of the receiver’s time and attention. Yes, of course we want them to become a customer or if they’re already a customer, we want them to buy more. But we have to trade them something of value in exchange for that consideration.”

The something of value is all about the content.

The concept of content is not new. Smart businesses have long understood the idea that if they were helpful before they asked for a dollar, they could earn the trust of the prospect.

What is new is the wide array of places and ways we have to distribute content. Back in the day, we might have a printed newsletter, an 800 number for customer service or demos in our stores.

Today we have websites, email newsletters, eblasts, podcasts, infographics, forums, guest posts, blogs, digital magazines, and that’s just scratching the surface. Suffice it to say – we have lots of ways to be helpful.

Odds are you’re being inundated with “helpful” content every day and odds are, you ignore most of it. Guess what? Your prospects are behaving in exactly the same way. So how do you break through that clutter and actually help?

Don’t just tell. Lead as well: Content that not only informs but also tells your audience what to do with their new knowledge is incredibly valuable. Most content producers fall short here. We tend to spew facts but rarely offer direction, insights or warnings. Use your knowledge to guide.

Be available if they need to know more: When you create great content, sometimes it leaves your audience wanting more. Their natural inclination is to turn to the original source – you. Be available. Include your email address or phone number and invite comments and further questions.

Eliminate fluff: Time is everyone’s most scarce resource so do not waste it. Tell them what they need to know. I’m not saying eliminate context. Context adds value. But filler and fluff just gets in the way. Be a tough editor of any content you create.

Discriminate: The worst content is content that is intended for everyone. The more you can hone in on your most important audience and only that audience – the better your content will serve them. Your goal is to be irrelevant to the masses and indispensable to the few that you actually want to attract and build a relationship with.

Connect the dots: Odds are that what you sell is complicated and it’s not as simple as walking up to a shelf and selecting the exact right choice. But for content to be effective, it has to be served up in bite-sized pieces with an occasional full meal tossed into the mix.

That means it’s difficult to tell the whole story with any one piece of content. To truly be helpful, you need to help your audience connect the dots between bits of information. With links, “if you enjoyed this” guides and organizing your content in a way that allows people to follow the bigger picture.

I know you care about your customers and prospects. Show them how much by creating content with both the right intentions and genuinely helpful information. It’s the least you can do and they’ll reward you with their attention for a very long time.

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Earning Your Spot in their Email In-Box

July 26, 2017

emailWeird as it sounds, with all of the new technologies, email seems almost old school today. It’s been around for decades and much like other mature mediums, we value and loathe it at the same time.

Part of the loathing comes from the daily experience of being barraged by emails we didn’t ask for, don’t want and that offer no value.  We all suffer from email fatigue.  What the senders forget is that they’re in the receiver’s in-box because they were invited in and have been granted permission to stay.

Until they’re not. Email us too often, or email us nothing of value and you’re quickly asked to leave, either through the unsubscribe link or simply by being ignored.

And yet for most of us, there are some emails we look forward to receiving and when we get them, we actually go out of our way to read them.

What’s the difference?

I believe it’s both intent and content.  When you get those both right, the receiver will not only allow you to stay but actually be open to considering that next action (click on a link, sign up for the webinar, learn more about your product or services, etc.) you want them to take.

Intent is really about respect and a genuine desire to help.  When we prepare an email campaign, we need to ask ourselves if we’re truly being respectful of the receiver’s time and attention.  Yes, of course we want them to become a customer or if they’re already a customer, we want them to buy more. But we have to trade them something of value in exchange for that consideration.

Are we offering them something of value in terms of insights, information or even a reminder of something important?  A realtor sends me an email every month and at the top of the email is a “don’t forget tip” reminding me to do something around my house.  It’s usually something simple like “change the furnace filter every 30 days.” Do I already know I need to do that?  Sure but the reminder often triggers me to do whatever he’s reminding me to do.

I’m not in the market to buy a house right now but I give him permission to stay in my in-box because he’s actually helpful.  He’s also smart enough to know that if he keeps earning the right to email me, then when I finally am in the market for a realtor to help me buy or sell a home or when one of my friends asks for a referral – he’ll be top of mind.

Another aspect of intent is how often are you asking me to pay attention to you?  I am happy to get his email once a month.  If he started emailing me a couple times a week, I’d unsubscribe in a hurry because the value proposition wouldn’t be there for me.  The frequency of your emails shouldn’t be about how frantic you are to sell something but instead; it should be based on how or why you’re being valuable.

I get an email every evening from a company that analyzes the day’s market activities and talks about how the day’s changes will impact what’s going to happen tomorrow.  That information would be stale/less helpful if I received it once a month.  So again, their timing is about me, not them.

Intent is about putting the audience first and being valuable before you ask for anything in return. That makes it much more appealing to envision hiring you down the road.

Next time, we’ll explore the content side of this equation so you can get them both correct every time.

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The reviews aren’t good

July 19, 2017

reviewsIn the “good old days” when a neighbor or work colleague told you how much they enjoyed a nearby B&B, movie or restaurant, it mattered.  Word of mouth has always been one of marketing’s most potent weapons.  Today – we have word of mouth marketing on steroids with online reviews.

Interestingly, in a wide range of surveys examining the effectiveness of online reviews, the data is pretty telling. Depending on the research, somewhere between 84-90% of us trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Nearly 9 out of every 10 consumers has used online reviews to influence a purchase and about 40% of us use them on a regular basis as part of our buying process. Most people read between 6-10 reviews and they usually read the most recent reviews first.

Why do we give perfect strangers the same credibility score as our neighbors and friends?

  • We believe in the aggregate. One bad review suggests a fluke or someone had a grudge but when there’s a pattern, we’re willing to believe the crowd.
  • We assume that the reviewers are people like us who have no axe to grind but just want to be helpful.
  • We give more credibility to the “average Joe” than we do to marketing or corporate speak. In other words – I want to hear what other people say about you, not what you say about yourself.

Given both the number of consumers who rely on online reviews and the level of trust they put in them – it’s not something businesses can ignore.   And this isn’t just about restaurants or hotels anymore. Whether you’re a dentist, restaurant, ad agency, professor or an insurance agent – between Angie’s List and all of the specialty lists out there – everyone is being rated.

Interestingly – businesses seem to be adopting the head in the sand approach to bad reviews.  Even though almost every rating site will allow the proprietor to respond, very few do.

That is a huge missed opportunity. Every business owner, CMO etc. should be tracking where their business is being rated and monitoring those ratings.  While the ideal is that you’d respond to all the reviews (odds are there are not that many), you should at the very least react to the negative ones.

Here are some best practices for responding to negative reviews.

  • Apologize. Use the words “I am sorry” to acknowledge that they had a bad experience, even if you don’t believe it was your fault.
  • Refer to them by name if you can.
  • Identify yourself by name and title so they know who is responding to them.
  • If there really was a problem – don’t sugar coat it. Admit that you blew it and what you’re doing to make sure the next guest does not experience the same thing.
  • After your initial response, if they reply – take it offline. While you want everyone reading the reviews to see that you care, you don’t need to play out the entire conversation online.
  • If you feel like you can win them back – offer to compensate them in some way. And no, this will not encourage a bunch of people to leave bad reviews just to get a coupon or free meal from you.
  • Talk like a human, not a corporate committee. Use conversational language so they know there’s a human being behind your comments.

No matter what you do – ignoring negative reviews is not an option.  They are too influential to your prospects and when they go unanswered, they’re taken as gospel and can chase away potential business. So settle in and try to make some lemonade out of those lemons.

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New CMO Council Report: CMOs Struggling to Meet Needs of Local Audiences

July 14, 2017

Meet Needs of Local AudiencesMarketing leaders and agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to keep pace with growing demands to localize and adapt their creative strategies when it comes to trying to meet needs of local audiences. Facing a widening range of digital and physical channels that each require rapid adaptation in order to remain relevant to individual geographic, cultural, and customer audiences, too many organizations are failing to take the necessary steps to improve their capacity and agility, according to a new study by the CMO Council.

The new study, entitled “Adaptability in Branded Content Delivery,” reveals that more than two-thirds of marketers rate their organizations and agencies below satisfactory in their capacity to translate and adapt brand marketing content across the markets and channels they serve. This has led to equally lack-luster marks in timeliness as only 30 percent of marketers rate their in-house and agency teams as either “advanced” or “doing well” in their timeliness and capacity to simultaneously support global and local execution.

Marketers admit these failures in addressing rapid adaptation is further challenged by mounting pressure by a variety of forces and factors, led by requirements for geographic localization, proliferation of new digital formats, the need for more visually enriched and engaging content, and operational cost pressures.

“At a time when the customer has higher expectations than ever for the relevance and personalization of content and brand interaction, marketing organizations will need to step up their game when it comes to brand content adaptation to address geographic, cultural, customer and other differences,” says Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. “Past research has shown that adaptation of marketing strategy and content can be major enabler of sales and brand success. Yet most companies have a long way to go to get it right.”

The study, developed in partnership with HH Global, is based on an online survey of more than 150 senior marketing executives polled in the second quarter of 2017. Respondents hail from global industries that demand an omnichannel presence including retail, travel, hospitality, technology, consumer goods and telecommunications.

Among the key findings:

  • Only 32 percent of respondents say their companies are either advanced or doing well in adapting brand content to different markets, partners and geographies. Another 34 percent say they are at least improving.
  • Just 20 percent are satisfied with their creative delivery process and marketing supply chain effectiveness.
  • Respondents point to speed of execution as a major challenge; less than half say they are able to deploy localized content across both physical and digital touchpoints within weeks of a campaign launch.
  • Marketers believe their top five process challenge are shortening turnaround times, ensuring quality and uniformity with brand guidelines, end-to-end workflow management, delivering creative on time, and measurement of the creative appeal and impact of content.

Change Is Too Slow

The study also finds that many organizations are failing to take important steps to improve their capacity to adapt and modify branded content. Just 18 percent have completed a formal assessment of their creative delivery process and marketing supply chain effectiveness, although another 24 percent say they have begun one.

In addition, many companies are utilizing only basic project management and collaboration tools to manage these processes. Just 20 percent use online approval and proofing systems to accelerate modifications. Even more surprising, 49 percent of respondents say the spend less than five percent of their marketing budget for creative adaptation and cross-cultural localization.

About the CMO Council

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council is dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership, and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide range of global industries. The CMO Council’s 12,500-plus members control more than $500 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide. For more information, visit www.cmocouncil.org.

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Reducing the stress factor

June 28, 2017

StressWhether you’re successfully part of an internal marketing team, at an agency or even a business owner – you’ve got a skill that you probably take for granted. You’re a master juggler. You can’t execute successful marketing today without that ability. You’re used to having lots of balls in the air and even if you can’t always see each one, you’ve been doing it long enough that you’re confident that you’ll be able to catch them all. No stress for you.  It’s all just part of the day-to-day.

But here’s the part that we often forget. What we take for granted freaks our internal or external clients out.  That’s why they’re micromanaging you, asking you for updates all the time and making it harder for you to do your work.

Guess what – that’s on you. Their reaction and concern is natural and fair. It’s our job to keep them in the loop by over communicating so they can take a deep breath and be comfortable. It’s also good for you because when you reduce their stress, they’ll give you a little more breathing room.

Here are some tools you can use to keep everyone in the loop throughout the life of your work.

Project timeline: Marketing often looks simpler than it truly is. It’s a little like the duck swimming on the placid lake.  At first glance, the duck looks like he’s serenely floating on the water. But as we all know, under the surface, he’s paddling like crazy.

That’s why an initial project timeline can be a lifesaver.  But setting and correcting initial expectations right up front, you save yourself a significant amount of trouble down the road. It’s much easier before a project ever starts to help a client understand that the website will take ten weeks rather than three weeks in, they suddenly share that they need it next week for a trade show.

Real-time budget: On larger projects that are going to stretch out over months, it’s a good idea to establish a preliminary budget with the caveat that it’s based on what we know today. Then, keep that budget updated real-time. It’s a bit of overkill to do it every day, but once a week should help everyone feel very connected to the project and reassured that it’s going according to plan.

The other advantage of this is that it forces you to identify trouble when it’s still small enough to deal with. So it’s a bit of a CYA move as well.

Weekly status reports: This is a simple Excel spreadsheet that lists all of the projects you’re working on (if you serve more than one department or client, have a separate document for each audience) and tracks progress.

To make this manageable, keep it simple.  Include the project name, the ultimate due date, the stage of progress it’s in right now, next steps and who is responsible for that next step.  If you share it with everyone (marketing team, other players in the mix, client, etc.) on Thursday mid afternoon, it gives everyone a chance to wrap some things up on the next day so you start the following week on time and on target.

The bonus feature of this report is that it serves as a gentle nudge. Let’s face it – it’s often the client (internal or external) that is holding something up. But they’re also the client so you can’t get on them like you do your internal team. So this is a bit more client friendly but still gives them a good poke.

None of this is rocket science but I often discover that because we take our ability for granted, we forget that our clients don’t.  Implementing these tools will reduce their stress and it helps keep you on track as well which ultimately allows you to do better marketing.

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But can I trust you?

May 24, 2017

trustI can’t guess how many times I’ve written about trust over the past ten years.  I’ve talked about the importance of the know • like • trust model, I’ve discussed the connection between trust and a brand’s equity and I’ve explored the role of trust in shortening the sales cycle.

Suffice it to say, trust is a cornerstone of marketing success.

But it occurred to me that when I’ve written about trust, it’s been one-sided.  I’ve focused on the trust we need from our prospects and customers in order to make them feel safe enough to make that first purchase or repeat buy.

I’ve been ignoring the whole other side of the equation. Trust has to be a two-way street or else it doesn’t work.  When you don’t feel trusted – it’s very difficult to trust. Just like in our personal relationships, it’s difficult to let down your guard enough to develop trust when you’re feeling like a criminal, based on how you’re being treated.

Think that’s a little extreme?  Think about some of the signage you see in retail locations.  “You break it, you buy it” or “video surveillance cameras in use.”

Without meaning to, in a million little ways, many businesses communicate that they don’t really trust their customers.

And if you think we have work to do in that arena – it’s nothing compared to how many organizations treat their employees. It’s pretty tough for them to trust you, trust your brand and create a trusting environment for your customers.

If you want to cultivate trust among your prospects and customers – you have to start by demonstrating trust in your own team and those same prospects and customers.

Let’s look at a couple ideas for each.  First, the customers:

Your customer service promise: Call it a pledge, a promise or a policy. Whatever you call it – make sure it’s written in simple English, errs on the assumption that 99% of your customers are honest and good people, and cuts your customers a great deal of slack.

Make it very public – post it on your website, in your store and in your contractual agreements. Celebrate the fact that you believe in your customers and in servicing them with respect and affection.

Arm your employees with both authority and resources: Every time a customer complains or has a bad experience and you make them wait for a manager to resolve it, it feels like you don’t trust them or their story.   You also teach them that you don’t have enough confidence in your team to give them the ability to resolve the issue. But when your employees can immediately respond and fix the problem, the customer feels heard and that your organization believed them and their concern.

And now, for showing your employees that you trust them:

Treat them like grown-ups: Flip through your employee manual.  Are the rules for adults or does it assume that your team will act like teenagers trying to sneak out after curfew?  Too many employee rules are made for the few, not the majority. Create rules that make it clear to your employees that you hold them both capable and accountable.

Ask for help: Nothing says “I believe in you and your abilities” more than asking someone for their help. Involve your employees in key decisions involving customer-facing policies, pricing or R&D options.  You can’t just give this tactic lip service.  You actually need to listen.  The upside of that – you’re going to learn more than you think.

Remember that the know • like • trust model is a two-way street.  What are you doing to pave the way to trust for your customers and employees?

 

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What does your welcome mat say?

April 19, 2017

WelcomeWhat does your welcome mat say?  Several summers ago, I spent some time in Europe with my daughter celebrating her college graduation and even though I was on vacation, I couldn’t help but see things through a marketing lens.

One of the places we visited was Madrid, Spain and neither of us spoke very much Spanish. I was eavesdropping as we did our tourist thing and I would say about 50% of the people in Madrid are from the United States or Canada and spoke English. It was interesting to me to see how different businesses react to the challenge/opportunity of a non-Spanish speaking guest.

Just a note – we try very hard to show our respect for the countries we visit and always learn many of the more common phrases. We address everyone in Spanish in terms of greetings, directions, saying please and thank you, etc. We certainly don’t expect them to Americanize their country, but we are hardly fluent and are very self conscious of that fact.

My point isn’t about communicating in Europe but instead, how some of the business owners have recognized an opportunity to attract more foreign guests by making it clear that they’ll be welcomed and accommodated. And even more to the point – It got me thinking about how we can adopt that same attitude, even if we don’t face a language barrier with some of our potential customers.

Some establishments make it clear by displaying English versions of their menus, by having a large sign that says, ”we speak English” or by hoisting a British flag near their entrance. This was true in the more tourist crowded parts of the city as well as some of the very local pubs, where we were the only non-locals in the joint.

All of this got me wondering – how do we put out welcome mats (or not) for our potential customers?

Identify your outliers: First think about who, beyond your usual customer, might need your services/products. Is there a group of people who are “lingering” outside your door and just need to be invited in? Might they actually be even more grateful for your product or service, if they felt welcome? Imagine what that kind of word of mouth among their peers might be worth to you.

Move the barriers: Could it be there’s a communication barrier of some kind in the way? It may not be a language issue but are you using jargon that tells the novices they’re not welcome? And remember, sometimes it’s what you don’t say that gets in the way. What might make a potential customer pause and re-think “walking through your door?”

Add more welcome mats: Let’s assume you either have a literal front door to your business or your website is your virtual one. How welcoming are they? Do they reassure that fringe audience that you not only can help them but you really want to? Do you have a way for them to see themselves as your customer? That could be anything from a FAQ section that answers their specific questions, testimonials that come from folks just like them or a marketing tool that explains how you onboard new clients so they can visualize becoming one of your best customers.

You know that you want them as a customer. But they may not be as tuned in as you think. If they’re nervous about doing business with you or spending big money or switching from an old vendor – they may need a little positive reinforcement. Or it may be that they feel like an outsider or that they wouldn’t belong.

It’s your job to make sure they know just how much you’d like to help them and make it easy for them to walk in the door.

 

 

 

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Are your customers in transition?

April 12, 2017

TransitionWhen I think of Spring, I can’t help but think of it as a season of transition. Seeds evolve into plants, kids graduate from high school and college, and many single people choose this time of year to get married.

No matter what the transition is or how desirable the next phase may be – transitions are, by their very nature, very stressful periods of time. In that stress, comes the need for a deepened understanding and more support.

You may not think of it this way, but my guess is that at the very moment your customer is ready to buy, they’re in a state of transition as well. They might be evolving their business, they might be experiencing a life transition or they might just be transitioning to you from whoever was servicing them before.

At MMG, we’re big believers in not only understanding who your sweet spot customers are but even more important – understanding exactly where that sweet spot customer is at any moment in the buying cycle.

If your prospects or clients are in a state of transition, it would be helpful for you to remember some of the realities that transitions bring so that you can serve them better, be more empathetic and anticipate their needs.

When a person is in any sort of transition, everything is heightened. Typically a transition is a significant event that brings with it a host of emotions. At the base of any transition is the combination of uncertainty and anxiety. Because it’s important to whoever is going through it – they’re worried that it won’t go the way they’ve envisioned that it should. Add to that anxiety the reality that in most transitions some elements are out of their control. The bride can’t control the weather. The graduate can’t control his family dynamics.  The business owner can’t control if the old vendor will block the transition or make it simple and clean.

On top of that blend of anxiety and uncertainty is loss. As the old saying goes, “you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” No matter how exciting or amazing the new transition will be, there is the pain of saying goodbye to something comfortable and familiar. Even if your new client is furious with their old vendor – they know exactly what to expect and how to react to it. There’s comfort in that.

Another element of transition that you need to keep in your sights is the fact that when someone is making a change, they often have unrealistic expectations for what that change will bring to them. You’ve probably made quite a few promises and commitments to entice that new customer to do business with you. At the moment of the transition – they not only expect you to keep those promises, they expect you to exceed them. When we’re courting a new client – we’re putting on the full court press. They feel very desired and like they’re your first and only priority. If you deliver on that – you can quickly earn their trust. But if you stumble, it’s tough to recover.

Finally – remember that when someone is going through a significant change, they’re very conscious of the risks involved. They may know intellectually that this is something they either need or want to do, but they’re putting themselves in a very vulnerable position.

If you want to make your new customer’s transition to your company smooth and worry free, you’ll need to have a carefully orchestrated plan in place. Over communicate that plan. Build in time for them to ask the same question they’ve asked ten times before. Be absolutely accessible and transparent and earn their confidence and trust, step by step.

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