Are You Asking the Right Question?

This is a short tale of two focus groups. This tale is meant to show you how changing one word when asking a question can get you exactly what you’re looking for.

ABC Corporation sells laundry detergent. Sales were flat so they wanted to find out what was going on with their customers. Specifically, how could ABC improve their laundry detergent? So, they conducted a focus group with customers who used their product. The focus group moderator was selected from the company’s marketing department. This person had never conducted a focus group before.

This moderator asked the twelve people sitting around the conference table, 
“What do you need in terms of laundry detergent?” Blank stares filled
 the room. The participants were speechless. One participant asked, “I don’t know what I need”. Another said, “I need my clothes to be clean”. After going in circles, the group was unable to articulate any concrete need. The leader got frustrated and terminated the group after thirty minutes, without any suggestions. What a bust.

Another company, XYZ Corporation also sold laundry detergent and conducted a focus group with customers to find out how the corporation could improve its product. Same goal as ABC Corporation. This time the corporation hired a trained and experienced focus group facilitator. This facilitator asked the right question to group members.

“What problems are you having with your current laundry detergent?”

The answers came rolling off everyone’s tongues.

  • “I hate it when the liquid drips down the side of the bottle.”
  • “I can’t seem to figure out how to use the scoop.”
  • 
“The directions are written too small”. 

  • “The bottle is too heavy.”
  • “The handle is too small.”
  • “I don’t know if I’m getting my money’s worth.”


The marketing department was impressed with the useful information provided by just twelve people. The facilitator presented her report to XYZ’s Product Development team. They conducted more groups and got more useful information about customer problems.

People can easily articulate their problem but struggle to express their needs. The more you know about your customers’ problems, the more successful you’ll be.

Taken from Critical Connections – The Step-By-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

What’s The Difference Between Transactional and Relationship Marketing?

What’s The Difference Between Transactional and Relational Marketing?

Let’s say you’re creating a marketing plan to sell garden hoses. Your marketing strategies and sales tactics are straightforward transactions. When you sell a product, your customer shops for price and options- length, thickness, type of material, etc.

There is little or no emotional involvement in the sale. The sale is a direct transaction using traditional sales techniques.

However, if you provide personal or professional services such as financial planning, tutoring, or any type of consulting, your marketing and sales tactics are relational, not transactional. Relational selling requires you to make a connection with potential clients or customer prior to making the sale. Relational selling is value driven, not price driven. You must assure potential clients or customers they are receiving a high-quality service delivered by a knowledgeable professional. In a relational model, there is emotional involvement in the sales process. Chances are that when you consider buying a  garden hose is sales process is not an emotionally-charged experience,

Think about the following:

  1. Do my marketing and sales efforts require transactional or relational strategies?
  2. If I’m marketing a professional service, what is the one key message I want my potential client to know?
  3. If I’m selling a product, what are the one or two most important features and benefits of my product?

Keep in mind that marketing professional services is all about building and maintaining relationships with your clients and customers.

 

For more information about relationship and referral-based marketing, click HERE.

How to Prevent Marketing Paralysis – Final Chapter

Help Is On The Way

If you’ve been suffering from the pain and anguish of marketing paralysis, don’t worry. You can get immediate and long-term relief by doing the following:

Phone a Friend. It’s a good idea to talk things over with a friend and get some advice. You might want to discuss a new idea, clarify a stumbling block, or just plain talk about your business. When you’re considering starting a solo business, it gets lonely quickly in the early stages of planning your business strategies.

Phone a friend who is not employed in your industry or profession. You want fresh eyes on your situation. You want the other person’s perspective. When you initially talk with your friends, do not ask them to solve your problem for you. However, most of the time, when someone gives you advice, the advice is more about what the other person needs rather than what you need.

Do not let them give you advice (easier said than done). Ask them to listen and act as a sounding board. Sometimes, just saying aloud what your situation is can be helpful. Now, you can brainstorm ideas or solutions.

Write It Down. Now it’s time to get back to basics. In order to jump-start your marketing efforts and prevent yourself from getting paralyzed, do the following:

In one or two sentences, write your answers to the following questions.

  • What are the unique characteristics of my target market?
  • What is my compelling message I want to communicate to my target market?
  • What is the number one most effective promotional vehicle to get my message out?

Use your answers to the above questions as a reminder to keep yourself on track and help you focus on where your business is going and what will be driving your marketing decisions. If you feel yourself becoming paralyzed, refer back to your answers.

What are your strengths and challenges?

Why are we talking about personal strengths and challenges? If we understand some of the more personal thoughts we have about marketing your business, we can get a better handle on how to overcome marketing paralysis.

A strength is a trait, characteristic, or skill that comes effortlessly to you. Sometimes others recognize your strengths while you minimize them. We usually take our strengths for granted. If something comes naturally to you, it’s a strength. Most likely you enjoy using your strengths. You’ve always valued your strengths. In a more ethereal sense, you can’t be great at doing something unless it’s a strength.

A challenge (intrinsic or extrinsic) is some activity that takes you out of your emotional and intellectual comfort zone and could cause paralysis. When you face a challenge, you’ll need to harness your internal strengths to overcome the challenge. My psychotherapist friends like to say that dealing with a challenge can be an area of personal growth.

There are two different approaches to working with your strengths and challenges. In the first approach, you identify your strengths and use them to their fullest advantage. In the second approach, you recognize your challenges and work to overcome them. Your strengths are not necessarily related to your challenges, but they can be.

If you identify your strengths and challenges, you’ll be able to build on them and meet any challenge that might pop up along the way.

Try this: Name two strengths you bring to building your business. Now, name two challenges you face. If you want to avoid marketing paralysis, go with your strengths.

Review

In Chapters 1 and 2, you learned about the causes of marketing paralysis. In Chapters 3, 4, and 5 learned the signs and symptoms of marketing paralysis. And, in Chapter 6 you learned about your strengths and challenges as related to marketing.

Now, you’re armed with all the weapons you need to overcome marketing paralysis. Go for it.

There’s lots more tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

How to Prevent Marketing Paralysis – Chapter 5

Here is another symptom of marketing paralysis.

Boiling the ocean: When clients come to me for help, I ask what they’ve done and what they are planning to do to promote their business. I’ll usually hear something like: “I’m working on my website. I just started Tweeting. I’m blogging. I’m planning to speak at an upcoming local seminar.”

When I hear this litany of activities, I wonder if this person is trying to boil the ocean. The term “boil the ocean” is one of many business jargon phrases used to embellish a point. Boil the ocean means to take on too much, over-extend yourself, or become overly ambitious. This is a recipe for failure.

Next time you are at the seashore (if you live inland, a large lake or river will do), try to take that entire body of water and boil it. How are you going to do it? Now that you are disappointed you couldn’t boil the ocean, try this. Take a teaspoon from your kitchen drawer. Go back to the ocean, river, or lake you just visited. Dip the teaspoon in the ocean. Using a cigarette lighter, place it under the teaspoon and see what happens. In a matter of minutes, the water will boil. Congratulations, you have successfully boiled a teaspoon of oceanSo, what’s the point here? Be realistic in how much you can do. How many marketing related projects can anyone take on at a time? The key to successful marketing is to figure out how much time, energy, and money you can expend on your marketing efforts. Next time you feel overwhelmed by the number of things to do, think teaspoon.

So far, we’ve talked about three causes of marketing paralysis:

1. Using the wrong marketing model

2. Getting unhelpful or misguided advice

3. Getting overloaded with information.

We talked about some of the most prevalent signs and symptoms of marketing paralysis:

1. The glazed over look

2. Going down the rabbit hole

3. Second-guessing and overthinking, and,

4. Boiling the ocean.

Now, we will discuss the fifth symptom of marketing paralysis: Putting the cart before the horse. Metaphorically speaking, the cart represents a specific promotional tool (social media platforms, websites, print and broadcast, etc.). The horse represents your target group or customer segment.

Here’s how you can easily get paralyzed:

  1. You decide to start a business – (you’re starting off great)
  2. You write a marketing plan – (ok, so far, so good)
  3. You come up with an idea of how to promote your business (you’ve now put the cart before the horse)
  4. After you’ve come up with some innovative ways to promote your business (the cart), you think of who your customers are (the horse)

If you continue this way, chances are high that you’ll stall out your marketing efforts. It’s not too late to avoid this problem.

Try this:

First: “Who is my most important target group”. If you don’t know who your customers are, how are you going to make an informed choice as to what promotional vehicles to use?

Second: Create your sales message touting the benefits and features of your business.

 

There’s lots more tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

 

How Did You Hear About Me?

When someone registers online for one of my marketing workshops or signs up for business and marketing coaching, my registration form asks, “How did you hear about me or how did you find out about the workshop?” Many people say they found me on the web or they received an email about my workshop or consulting services. I’ve never been satisfied with that answer.

So, when I meet that person at my workshop or at the time of their initial coaching session, I ask, “Prior to looking on the web or receiving an email, how did you hear about me?”

You’d be surprised at some of the responses I received:

  • “One of your clients told me about you, so I looked you up on the web and registered for the workshop.”
  • “I heard you speak at a conference.”
  • “I met you at a networking event.”
  • “A colleague told me about your marketing book”*

If the person initially said they received an email, I ask, “Do you remember who sent you that email?” I know it sounds like common sense, but it seems like word-of-mouth is a major marketing tactic when it comes to attending a workshop or seeking coaching help. That’s telling me to forge ahead by attending networking events and conferences. It’s telling me to submit proposals for workshops seminars.

What does this mean for you?

1: Think carefully about how you word the “How did you hear about us’ part of your online registration or order form. You might consider building in a drop down menu so customers can indicate exactly how they heard about you. Don’t get to detailed. Be careful, you want the person to move seamlessly through the registration process and not get hung up on this step.

2. When you meet your customer/client in person or live, always ask follow up questions about how they heard about you.

3. Keep track of where your business comes from. This is common sense but you’d be surprised about how many small business owners and providers of personal and professional services don’t have a basic database of customers and prospects.

If you have an effective way to capture “How did you find out about me?” data, then you are one-step ahead of the marketing game.

 

 * Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

How to Prevent Marketing Paralysis – Chapter 4

Last time we discussed one symptom of marketing paralysis: the glazed over look. Now, we’ll discuss two more symptoms: going down the rabbit hole and second-guessing/overthinking.

 According to the English Oxford Dictionary, ‘going down the rabbit hole’ refers to “a bizarre, confusing, or nonsensical situation or environment, typically one from which it is difficult to extricate oneself.”

This is an irresistible and uncontrollable urge to dive into the nitty-gritty and, unwittingly get stuck in the weeds of your situation. Rather than taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, you focus on the minute details of your marketing campaign: the colors for your promotional information, key words to be used in your website, which social media platform to use, etc. Details, details, details.

There’s a time and place for the details. Don’t get me wrong, details can be complicated and can cause problems. But, don’t let the minutia drag you down in the early stages of creating a marketing campaign.

Think of a time when going down the rabbit hole hindered or halted your progress on a project. Now, think of a time when going down the rabbit hole helped you.

Now you know the three causes of marketing paralysis (using the wrong model of marketing, getting unhelpful or misguided advice, and information overload). You can identify two of the three signs and symptoms of marketing paralysis (the glaze and going down the rabbit hole).

We now focus on the third symptom: Second-guessing and overthinking.

Second-guessing and overthinking occurs when you question and doubt every decision you make, large or small. You think too much about your next move or think for too long. You expend emotional energy anticipating or predicting what negative thing might happen. Your thinking gets cloudy and your anxiety hits the roof. You wind up in the world of negativity. The result can be total shut down of your thinking and marketing efforts. Not good.

I’ve heard the following statements more than once from people starting out in business. “I’m always second guessing myself about my ability to start a business. I question whether I’m able to sell and whether I’m good enough to compete in the market.”

How can your prevent overthinking and second-guessing?

  1. Stay clear of others who ‘want to help you solve your problem’
  2. Go to the gym and sweat off your negativity (a symptom of over-thinking)
  3. Go for the ‘quick win’. Find a small project that’s easy to do and that gives you some payoff
  4. It takes about 20 minutes to calm down after experiencing an upsetting situation. Take 20 minutes to collect your thoughts.

 

There’s lots more tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

How To Prevent Marketing Paralysis – Chapter 3

Signs and Symptoms

Now you are familiar with the three causes of marketing paralysis (using the wrong model of marketing, getting unhelpful or misguided advice, and information overload). We now move from causes of marketing paralysis to a discussion of the signs and symptoms of marketing paralysis.

One debilitating symptom is the glazed-over look in your eyes. The glazed over look is caused by information overload. It’s the look you get when trying to take your marketing ideas from concept to implementation. What happens to you? You lose clear vision and assume a dull, bored appearance. This is noticeable to those who look at you. You can’t seem to concentrate on your work and look like you have not slept in days. When your eyes glaze over, they become fixed and shiny, as if you are not seeing anything.

Some people, when working, get so spaced out that their computer screen looks blurry. It’s especially hard to avoid getting that glazed-over look when you’re using your tablet. The symptom tends to get worse if you’re trying to work at Starbucks. It’s been reported that some sufferers drift off to an alien galaxy. This is not good.

Have you experienced a glazed-over look when the dreaded word “marketing” is mentioned or when you’re trying to create your marketing campaign? Can you tell if you’re beginning to feel your eyes glaze over? If so, what do you experience?

Just being aware of what’s happening to you is the first step to recovery.

 

There’s lots more tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

How To Prevent Marketing Paralysis – Chapter 2

Here are two more causes of marketing paralysis

Marketing Paralysis Cause II

Getting unhelpful or misguided advice. It’s always a good idea to talk things over with a friend and get some advice. You might want to discuss a new idea, clarify a stumbling block, or just plain talk about your business. If you’re considering starting a solo business, it gets lonely quickly in the early stages of planning your business strategies.

Key point: People love to give advice. When someone gives you advice, there’s a good chance that the advice they give you is more about what the other person needs rather than what you need. Be careful and don’t get sucked in to their advice.

Phone a friend who is not employed in your industry or profession. You might want fresh eyes on your situation. You want the other person’s perspective. However, there might be times when you’ll want to talk to someone in your field of business.

When you initially talk with your friends, do not ask your friends to solve your problem for you. Ask them not to give you advice. Ask them to listen and act as a sounding board. Sometimes, just saying aloud what your situation is can be helpful. Now, you can brainstorm ideas or solutions.

Marketing Paralysis Cause III

So far, we’ve discussed two of the three main causes of marketing paralysis – using the wrong marketing model and getting unhelpful or misguided advice. You were presented with some tips and suggestions to immunize yourself against marketing paralysis. The third cause of marketing paralysis information overload.

There are thousands of marketing resources online –print books on marketing; ebooks, self-help guides, websites focusing on how to use social media, e-seminars and podcasts. To make things even more overwhelming I found a website that listed 72 different definitions of marketing. That’s a lot of information!

Look at the Small Business Administration’s (SBA.gov) website. There are all sorts of resources available on how to market and build a small business. They have 42 online training courses and 69 videos. Reading these definitions can contribute to marketing paralysis.

There are a lot of ‘professional’ marketers out there willing to take your money to help you build a marketing plan. These self-proclaimed marketing gurus tend to profess quick solutions to complex marketing problems. They encourage you to purchase their guides and marketing plan outline. Chances are, these plans contain more information than you need.

Look back at the three causes of marketing paralysis: using the wrong model of marketing; getting unhelpful or misguided advice, and information overload. Is there one particular cause of marketing paralysis that you can relate to? Are you using the model that best fits your business?

 

There’s lots more tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

How To Prevent Marketing Paralysis – Chapter 1

This is a six-part series called Preventing Marketing Paralysis. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a start-up or are already in business, the practical tools and tactics you’ll learn will be of value to you. We’ll discuss the causes, signs and symptoms of marketing paralysis. And, most important, you’ll be given practical tips and suggestions to prevent you from becoming a victim of marketing paralysis. Be sure to read all six chapters, you’ll be glad you did.

What is Marketing Paralysis?

Marketing paralysis is a syndrome commonly seen in small business owners and providers of personal and professional services, who have little or no knowledge of marketing.

Marketing paralysis is similar to analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis is over-analyzing a situation or idea to the point that nothing ever gets done. Those individuals or groups who suffer from analysis paralysis usually say something like, “We need more data. Let’s start from the beginning again. We need to get the right people to work on this.” Consequently, the project or idea stagnates and in many cases, no decision is made. Marketing paralysis occurs when, in the process of creating a marketing campaign, you stop dead in your tracks, unable to move forward.

Marketing Paralysis – Cause I

Using the wrong model of marketing. Most marketing models are based on strategies and tactics aimed at selling products, not services. Selling products entails a completely different strategic approach. For example, if you are building a marketing plan to sell gardening supplies, your marketing and sales tactics are based on straightforward transactions. When you sell a product such as a garden hose, your customer shops for a certain brand, price, or specific features (length and thickness, type of material, etc.). There is more than one option to buy. It’s easy to sell value. There is little or no emotional involvement in the sale. The sale is a simple transaction and uses traditional sales techniques.

On the other hand, if you provide personal or professional services such as financial planning, tutoring, or any type of consulting, your marketing and sales tactics are consultative, not transactional. It’s hard to sell a single option service (accounting). Consultative selling requires you to build a relationship with potential clients or customers. There is high emotional involvement in the relationship. When promoting services, word-of-mouth and referral-based strategies are used.

Have you applied the wrong marketing model’s strategies and tactics in your business? What happened?

In the next chapter, you’ll learn two more causes of marketing paralysis.

Stay tuned.

There’s lots more tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

 

YouTube or MeTube?

According to Tad Friend, writing about YouTube in the New Yorker in 2014:

“YouTube was adults with camcorders shooting kids being adorably themselves. It was amateur hour. Nowadays, YouTube is alarmingly professional. It has millions of channels devoted to personalities and products, which are often aggregated into “verticals” containing similar content.”

Who would have predicted that a revolution in digital communication could have such a profound impact on how we connect with people. And, who would have predicted that the way we conduct business would drastically change? And, to make things even more convoluted, the capabilities and functions of digital communication change almost daily (well, not quite daily).

Tad Friend suggests that YouTube is alarmingly professional. However, the pipeline for cute baby and cuddly cats videos will never get shut off. Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook, just to name a few have expanded their capabilities. Twitter, besides having the ability to link to other (content) sites, is now a platform to receive breaking news. You can set up your own Twitter business page, too. Pinterest now has a blogging feature. Instagram is now a good place to find recipes. LivingSocial has moved away from a deal-of-the-month platform to a promoter of concerts, festivals, and other events.

For those of you data junkies, check out some data I found about YouTube from their website.

  • YouTube has over a billion users — almost one-third of all people on the Internet — and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views.
  • YouTube overall, and even YouTube on mobile alone reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.
  • The number of hours people spend watching videos (aka watch time) on YouTube is up 60% y/y, the fastest growth we’ve seen in 2 years.
  • The number of people watching YouTube per day is up 40% y/y since March 2014.
  • The number of users coming to YouTube who start at the YouTube homepage, similar to the way they might turn on their TV, is up more than 3x y/y.

Taken from: https://www.youtube.com/yt/press/statistics.html

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this information and you don’t know what to do with it, you’re not alone. Some folks take this data ‘with a grain of salt.’

However, if you’re thinking about using YouTube videos as a vehicle to promote yourself, your product, or your service, ask yourself the following strategic and operational questions:

Strategic Questions:

  1. Producing a YouTube video is not about you (MeTube) and how great your product or service is. It’s about sharing information with your customers and addressing critical customer problems. Will the video address your customers’ most critical questions?
  2. Who exactly is my audience?
  3. Why do I think YouTube is the best way to communicate my message?
  4. How do I make sure the video is seen by my customers/prospects?
  5. Do I have compelling and fresh content that my customers need?
  6. In terms of producing a video, have I considered how much time, energy, and money it will cost?

Operational Questions:

  1. Who is going to write and produce the video?
  2. How long should the video be?
  3. Should I embed my video in my website?

My job is to ask you the tough questions. Your job is to make an informed decision as to whether you should use YouTube as a way to promote your business.