Lower Your Prices to Get More Clients?

I recently read a blog entry posted by an attorney referencing lowering rates to get more clients.  His point was that while you may secure a client by lowering your rates, typically, these clients become the most high-maintenance parts of your day.  I don't know if there's a more "scientific" way of putting it, but once these clients get you to make concessions on your pricing, they tend to expect you to make concessions in other areas as well- your time, the amount of work you're willing to expend for the price they're paying, etc.

Often when times get tough, we try to do whatever we can to bring in ANY sort of client, instead of focusing on our target market.  We find ourselves spending a LOT of time with clients we normally wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.  We focus our marketing efforts on talking about "great deals" and "reduced rates" and "freebies" in hopes of getting more warm bodies through our doors.

In reality, there are still people out there spending money.  New Moon, the Twilight series second saga, made $140.7 million domestically this past weekend, making it the third largest weekend premier of all time.  So don't tell me people aren't spending money.  You may have to get a little more creative with your marketing and networking efforts.  You may have to focus more on giving people great VALUE for their investment, but that's NOT the same thing as giving people a great DISCOUNT.

Show people why spending their money with you is ultimately the best "deal" they can get, even if the investment is a little more than the folks down the street.  If you can do that, you won't have to worry about dealing with the type of customers who you wouldn't normally touch with a ten-foot-pole.


More Customers This Holiday Season

I found this fantastic article on Mashable, a social media news site.

This article details how you as a small business owner can use your own social media presence, be it on Twitter, Facebook or your blog, to build excitement and get more customers this holiday season. 

So many of us share news and information via these mediums, but savvy customers have started looking for great deals here too.  Why not offer a very special bargain to folks who follow you via Twitter?  Why not reward people who are fans of your business on Facebook the deal of the season?  Remember, in store is not the only place people should be talking about you, and you should fan the flame.

Read this article, and your business will benefit this holiday season.


Better Utilization of Your LinkedIn Account

I'll confess- when I first heard about LinkedIn several years ago, I hoped on and created an account for my company, and occasionally would connect with people who I'd met while networking.  I secured several referrals, and referred a few people.  However, I wouldn't ever claim that I'm getting a lot out of LinkedIn, because I really don't know how to really utilize the service.

I discovered an article yesterday that delves a little deeper into LinkedIn, and how a business person like myself (and yourself!) can get a little more out of LinkedIn.  Here are some of the suggestions that author Sharlyn Lauby offers in this article:

1) Include a photo on your profile.  LinkedIn is a social networking site, designed to build relationships, so you've got to make it personal!  What better way to do this but to let people see your face?  One caveat: Some pause at including a photo on LinkedIn because LinkedIn is a PROFESSIONAL social communication site- meaning potential employers might see your picture before deciding to contact you.  This image could give them information they most likely would not have obtained should they have access to your resume alone (your approximate age, race, etc.)

2) Seek meaningful recommendations.  One of the most wonderful aspects of LinkedIn is that it's a place where you can showcase not only your relationships, but what your clients or associates think of you.  You can send a message to a client and ask them to pen a note about their experience with you, and then approve that message prior to posting the recommendation on your LinkedIn profile.  Kind of like a virtual brag book...

3) Think twice about linking your social networking profiles together.  Should you link your twitter account to your LinkedIn page?  Should your LinkedIn profile also contain your Facebook profile link?  It's really a question of content.  If your Facebook page is really more of a PERSONAL page, there's no reason why a potential or current employer should need to see pics of last weekend's BBQ.  Additionally, your pals don't really care that a client thinks your work is tops.  If you have multiple PROFESSIONAL profiles, consider linking these profiles, but always consider your content before taking this action.

Great article, Sharlyn!


Radio as an Advertsing Medium


Before you proceed reading this post, stop and think about some ads you may have recently heard on the radio. 



Got some thoughts???

Take a look at this graph:

Chances are that the advertisers and ads you thought of are somewhere on this list.  This list is for the most recent week ended (Week of 10/5/09), and if you listened to the radio at all last week, you assuredly heard one of these advertiser's ads. 

Here's the thing- you probably heard that ad more than three times.  You may not specifically recall hearing a certain ad more than once, but in order for that ad to make an impression that you're able to recall- and therefore act upon- studies show that you most likely heard the advertisement around three times.

It's called frequency, and actually, the principle applies not just with radio advertising, but with other advertising mediums as well.  Our goal when we advertise should not be to get a potential customer to hear or see our ads just once, but rather as many times as possible.  Again, studies show that if a potential customer sees your advertisement less than three times, it will not make a memorable impression.  

I had a lady call me the other day and ask how much it would cost her to purchase radio to advertise her product.  I did a little research and gave her some estimates.  She almost passed out when I told her a rough estimate for advertising on her target station would be about $8K for a short campaign.  She asked me "It costs $8,000 to put ONE AD on this radio station??!!?"  

I immediately explained that, no, this cost was for a short two week campaign, which was the amount of time she'd probably need in order to make a decent, memorable impression.  She scoffed, and insisted that she only wanted to run one ad.  I gave her the name of the radio rep I'd spoken with and told her to go directly to the rep because I would not place an ad for her that I did not believe would be successful.

I followed up with the radio rep a few weeks later.  I asked her if the lady had placed her ad, and what her results were.  Apparently, the lady was currently harassing the station manager, trying to get the money for her ONE AD back because she'd received NO CALLS.

Advertising is tricky business.  There's no magic formula.  However, if you don't have enough budget to make sure your target station audience (or TV audience, or newspaper audience, etc.) will see your ad at least THREE TIMES, then don't waste your money.  Because listeners have heard the gecko from the Geico commercial at least 5 times in the last hour.  They're thinking about Geico- not your business.  


Media Kits 101

Often times when I ask a client if they've got a media kit for their business or organization, they look at me with a glazed stare and assume I'm trying to sell them another marketing tool that they didn't realize they needed.  Most have never heard of a marketing "kit"- they're still stuck on their tri-fold brochure, trying to figure out why it's called a tri-fold when in fact, it only folds twice...

But I digress.  Media kits are actually a pretty important piece of the public relations puzzle.  Especially if you're considering putting yourself and your company out there, trying to obtain some media mentions and attention.  Very simply, you should have a media kit in a printed and online version.  Printed is only important if you may meet a journalist face-to-face- you'll need something to hand them in order to look prepared.  You can easily print the media kit elements on your office letterhead and pop into a folder to make sure you have the most up-to-date information included.

Here are the FIVE most important elements to have in your media kit:

Business Facts.  What does your company do and why is that unique?  Include any mission statement, competitive advantages, demographics, revenues (if you choose to share them), goals, etc.  This should be presented in a few paragraphs with some highlighted bullet points.  These are FACTS, people!  No one cares that you think the onion peeler your company manufactures is the best invention since sliced bread- if it hasn't been proven or can't be found in legal documents, don't put it here.

Products and Services.  What do you offer?  Include benefits of products and services as well.  Why would people care what you provide?  What's in it for them?  How much does it cost?

Background.  A succinct summarization of your organization's history.  Founders, big events and direction-changers go in this section.

Biographies.  Only key members should be included- founders and senior management.  (You may be dating Tiffany the Temp, but she should not be mentioned...)  Again, succinct resume- type information should be included for each team member.  This will all be public information, so make sure not to include any information you would not want printed in the Sunday newspaper.

News.  If this is your online version, link to your archived press releases.  Online or printed, here you can include your media mentions, any feature articles about your company, notable testimonials, speaking engagements and upcoming events.  Make sure to include any charity or philanthropic involvement here as well.

If these pieces are put together in a clear, organized fashion, you won't have to scramble when a reporter from the Times comes a callin'.  Often, reporters on deadlines won't wait for you to put this information together before moving on to another idea.