5 Tips If You Think You Have to Rebrand Your Business

Have you ever thought about what to do if you have to rebrand your business? Strategy, of course, is critical.

It’s not uncommon for businesses to change their branding – whether it’s to fix the marketing, go in a different direction or to capitalize on emerging trends.

Companies, small and large, come to such a crossroad from time to time. Products become obsolete. New competitors enter the marketplace. Consumer preferences change.

StockImagesEvolution is possible in different ways whether you need to expand or redefine your business.

No matter what you’re considering, it’s a serious decision. Any mistakes in assumptions or actions are critical and will threaten your efforts for success.

Here are five tips:

1. Know thyself

Plato, who lived 428 to 348 BC, was the world’s most-influential philosopher. He suggested there was something special about each person. You are, too.

You can’t make smart decisions unless you know who you are and what your company is.

If you’re a micro business, remember you’re synonymous with your company. That’s why individuals evaluate themselves and their companies perform a SWOT analysis of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

To achieve higher performance, you often need to evaluate your business processes optimization (BPO). Ascertain the effectiveness of your BPO strategies.

In this way, you’ll truly understand your values and best opportunities. Deductive reasoning will generate the right conclusions before you start the process of rebranding.

“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”

— Albert Einstein

2. Don’t totally disregard your initial objective

Figuratively, you might have to change your exercise program. It’s wise not to jump to conclusions. You might have been on the right track, which means you can focus on continuity.

Just because you’ve encountered new challenges doesn’t mean your initial thesis was wrong. So don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Consider possible commonalities.

With your SWOT analysis, you can identify new pathways that link to your past. In other words, you can target new customers without destroying relationships with your current clientele.

Determine how your logo and business name came relate to your past and future.

3. Double down on research

Watch your emotions. Do your due diligence. Don’t chase fads. Ignore the hype. Don’t take shortcuts.

“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” asked Albert Einstein.

You just might find too many red flags in embarking on your new ideas. What you need is actual growth potential, not pipe dreams.

Research should include several possibilities. As part of your research, decide on whether to just fine-tune your branding or to completely retool.

If you’re making big changes, first check on available domain names, social-media handles, business registrations in your state, branding slogans and logos.

If you make any of these changes, at least protect yourself with inexpensive trademarks in your state. The last thing you want as a business is for your company logo and name to be stolen. Depending on your budget, consider protecting your new brand with a federal trademark.

4. Address financials and anticipate liabilities

Remember you pay a price for everything you do. Make sure you’re making good investments in your energy and money.

Be conservative. Take incremental, baby steps. When you’re sure you’re ready to make changes, then go for it with passion.

5. Involve your stakeholders 

Don’t go it alone. If you’re thinking of change, chat with your family members, employees, friends, associates, customers and especially your mentor. Use them as a focus group, as they probably know you well.

Keep them informed about any major decisions. In this way, you won’t be sacrificing your credibility and hard work.

From the Coach’s Corner, here is related information:

Winning in Branding, Sales – The 6 Key Characteristics of a Logo — One key element for a company’s branding and sales that often gets short shrift is a great logo. Whether you’re an entrepreneur entering a brave new world or an established company needing profits, a great logo helps ensure top-of-mind awareness.

The Link between a Simple Logo and Branding Success — Some of the world’s most-successful companies have simple logos. That’s the conclusion from a study by a UK logo-design company, Small Business Logos. It conducted the 2012 study that lists the top-10 logos in different sectors from technology to shoes. “Creating a strong, memorable logo can really enhance the success of your business,” said Lucy Smith, marketing and eCommerce director for Small Business Logos.

Best Practices to Manage Your Global Brand, Web Reputation — As you no doubt know, the digital age has brought new challenges and opportunities. Best practices are critical in order to maximize your Web presence and to manage your online reputation.

Checklist to Build Your Brand on a Budget — Every business needs to save time and money while increasing revenue with affordable branding techniques. Here are 29 proven branding solutions for maximum profits.

Convert More Prospects with 10 Best Marketing Tips (Even on a Tight Budget) — So you’ve got a pile of business cards from prospects, but you haven’t converted them? Great sales stem from great marketing. You can’t grow crops until you plant the right seeds. That’s the purpose of marketing. Like many businesses small or large in this soft economy, you’re probably looking for a competitive edge on a tight budget.

“No one is going to understand your brand better than you.”

-Alexander Wang


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

To Sell to B2B Executives, Upgrade Digital-Age Sales Skills

E-commerce is increasingly popular. But in B2B sales, research shows a salesperson’s skills are paramount when the buyer is an executive.

So to maximize your revenue, make sure your salespeople are prepared with advanced sales training.

The “SiriusDecisions’ 2015 B-to-B Buying Study” seems to confirm the supposition.

In fact, the research contradicts conventional wisdom that indicates the role and importance of salespeople is irrelevant.

In reality, it’s just the opposite. In an era of digital buying behaviors, executives want to deal with salespeople.

“While the cognitive buying decision process is linear and sequential, we found that how buyers consume content and interact with provider organizations is not linear – in fact, the interaction patterns are much more episodic,” says SiriusDecisions Vice President Marisa Kopec.

“For example, a buyer can perform a single search on Google or go to a sales meeting, and that one interaction might provide all the information they need to inform each of the decision gates they need to get through in order to make a decision to buy,” she explains.

The 1,000 responding executives in North America and Europe made “significant buying decisions for $500 million in purchases, and they said the salesperson was important.

“We found that buyers interact with representatives during every stage of the decision-making process at least half the time, and that the type of decision – or buying scenario – greatly impacted the number and types of interactions,” adds Senior Research Director Jennifer Ross at SiriusDecisions.

In an era of digital buying behaviors, executives want to deal with salespeople.

The study’s key findings:

—The price point of an offering affects the number and type of interactions that occur between a buyer and provider.

— As the price point of an offering goes up, human interactions between the buyer and the provider also increase. But even at low price points, there is evidence that human-to-human interactions occur.

— More than half the time, sales representative involvement starts at the beginning of the buyer’s journey. In complex buying scenarios, sales rep involvement starts at the beginning of the journey two-thirds of the time.

— The highest level of reported buyer/seller interaction for all buying scenarios occurred during the education phase of the buyer’s journey (the first decision gate in the purchasing decision process).

—Not only do buyers interact with a sales representative from the winning provider organization in all phases of their decision-making process, but they overwhelmingly describe those interactions as positive (in over 85 percent of the buying experiences studied).

As you might guess, SiriusDecisions sells what it calls the B-to-B Buyer Interactions Model. It categorizes every type of interaction a buyer can have with a provider, to help organizations understand the balance required between human and non-human interactions.

The bottom-line:

“The new way to think about b-to-b buying is that human interactions still occur and matter, and that the rise of digital marketing doesn’t mean those interactions go away,” says Ms. Kopec.

“It just means that buyers and providers are interacting in new digital ways. Just because buying behavior is done digitally does not mean that sales representatives are no longer required to instigate or facilitate a buying process,” she adds.

From the Coach’s Corner, in order for you to successfully sell to executives, here are related tips:

The 7 Steps to Higher Sales — Secrets for sales success – seven steps to higher sales, five value perceptions that motivate customers to buy, and the three-step process for overcoming sales objections.

To Sell Ideas to Senior Executives, Tap into Their Emotions — If you want to persuade a senior executive, polish your soft skills. Whether you’re trying to sell your ideas to your CEO or you’re trying to sell to a key decision maker at another company, big data is important. But data isn’t the most important factor in persuading senior executives.

7 Tips for Strong Results in Setting B2B Appointments with CEOs — As every salesperson knows, face time with B2B prospects gives you a foundation for sales success.  Execution in the appointment-setting process is, of course, is key to being successful.

Big Ticket Sales – Prevent Buyer’s Remorse with 4 Precautions — In big-ticket sales — from consulting services to information technology — customer emotions run high. Buyer’s remorse will cost you a big sale. To prevent buyer’s remorse, you need to be a calming influence in order for the customer to understand you’re providing value.

Top 18 Attributes of the Best Salespeople — What’s needed to be effective in sales? Merely having a gregarious personality will no longer cut it in the 21st century. Here are the top 18 attributes of the best salespeople.

“I think the biggest mistake that salespeople make today is that they try to pretend they’re not salespeople.” 

-Irreverent Sales Girl 


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Research Before You Buy a Franchise, You Must Know 5 Principles

Indeed, there are some good companies from which to buy a franchise, and some not so good.

The franchisor must be a successful brand, respect on Wall Street if it’s a public company, and have a great game plan for the individual franchisees in their local markets. But that’s not all.

You want happy results from your online research and ultimate investment, and not be hit with a negative surprise. So do your research before buying a franchise.

woman coffee research-315006_1280The franchisor should be exemplary in seven categories:

— A great business plan

— Strong financials

— Effective operations/business processes

— Excellent branding

— Cutting-edge technology

— A healthy reputation

— Superb leadership, talent and human resources approach

But considering the seven categories is only a first step before buying a franchise.

You still need to double-check all information and be keenly aware of five principles.

The five principles:

1. Buying a franchise doesn’t make you a partner 

Despite any implications, when you buy a franchise you’re still a customer of the company. It’s not a partnership. You will have to buy products from the franchisor. You’re not protected from failure of the company.

On the other hand, it’s true franchisees generally do better than organic startups. The failure rate of franchisees is better than startup companies.

Other than franchisor shortcomings, franchisees generally fail when they’re under-financed, the economy goes south, when they don’t adhere to the franchisors’ game plans for local marketing, or for dysfunction in operations or in customer service.

2. Your goal is different from the company’s 

To be sure, you as a franchisee and the franchisor want to be successful. However, aside from branding, the two of you have different goals.

You want a turnkey business, and you’re responsible for the customer service to consumers.

The franchisor wants to grow by selling franchises to people who want a turnkey business, and to continually sell products to you.

Long term, it’s also possible that the franchisor’s has an exit strategy — it might be planning to grow the company so it can become an attractive target to sell out to an investment company or competitor. Either is likely to be OK for your future.

3. Understand the differences in your personal interactions

As a franchisee, you likely will not have a continuous relationship with the person who sells you the franchise. You likely are buying from an independent agent or brokerage firm. This means you won’t see that person again.

If you’re negotiating with an actual sales representative of the company, perhaps you will still be dealing with the person. However, your dealings will evolve into a different type of relationship.

4. Verify all ROI claims 

Be wary of any return-on-investment claims made by the company. Any claims by the franchisor must be substantiated — a requirement of the Federal Trade Commission.

So be careful about the paperwork. Get all claims in writing. If they’re not provided to you, walk away from the deal.

5. Learn the FDD protections

Know the legalities — what the franchisor gets from you and what the company will do for you. All of this is covered in the FDD, the Franchise Disclosure Document.

During discussions before you buy the franchise, study the UFOC, which is the Uniform Franchise Offering Circular. The UFOC contains important information that needs your due consideration.

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks for entrepreneurship articles:

Financial Tips for Taking the Plunge to Buy a Business — So you’ve decided to take the plunge in buying a business. Congratulations. I salute such bravery. Owning a business represents one of America’s great fundamentals — our free-enterprise system. You’ll have multiple financing options.

7 Basic Questions to Ask Before Buying a Business — Depending on your situation, there are beneficial reasons for buying a business. It works for a person lacking business-ownership experience as well as for a veteran business owner.

11 Tips to Safely Walk the Entrepreneurial Tightrope — For successful small firms, strong cash flow doesn’t just happen. Advertising firms to tech startups have a system. They plan and implement with precision. You, too, will stay afloat by being proactive using these strategies.

10  Scholarly Solutions for Selling More Products — Part one of a three-part series: How to grow your small business. Small business owners face more predators than ever, which makes decision-making about growth seem very challenging.

When there’s No Cash, 8 Tips to Organically Grow Your Business — Organically growing a business is lot like organic farming. Organic farmers pay attention to the signs of nature as a planting guide. They use rich sources of organic matter to build and maintain soil fertility. If you’re like many entrepreneurs, it probably makes sense to grow organically. You might not have another choice.

“We’re trying to be that franchise that year-in and year-out is competing for a championship.”

-Drew Brees


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Alarming Trend — Why Startups No Longer Lead in Job Creation

Startup businesses have long been the king and queen of job creation. But that’s no longer true, according to a review of data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Among startups in their first year of operation, jobs have decreased to an all-time low.

The disturbing conclusion comes from a 2012 study, “The Collapse of Startups in Job Creation,” by the nonpartisan policy-research organization, the Hudson Institute.

“Entrepreneurship is down by a third these last four years,” says Hudson’s Chief Economist Tim Kane. “And the decline continued in 2010 and 2011, even after the economy started growing.”

Beginning in 1977 for more than three decades, startups annually created 3 million jobs. But starting two years into the Obama Administration, in 2010, the number of newly created jobs – 2.34 million – plummeted 22 percent.

David Castillo Dominici investigationEconomist Kane lists the reasons:

— Occupational licensing regime

— Higher taxes

— Labor regulation

— General economic uncertainty

In other words, government is the culprit.

Worse, on further review, the study indicates the job-creation figures are actually worse when factoring in the nation’s population increase.

During the presidential administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, 11.3 Americans per thousand were employed at startups. However, during the Obama administration, the number plunged to 7.8 per thousand.

The obvious conclusions:

“Without startup job growth, there simply won’t be overall job growth in the United States,” adds the economist.

The free-enterprise spirit is suffering in America.

Hudson Institute, www.hudson.org, describes its work as innovative research and analysis promoting security, prosperity, and freedom.

From the Coach’s Corner, sadly the economy hasn’t improved enough to create jobs. Twenty-three million Americans are unemployed or can only find part-times jobs.

Here more informative articles:

Government Spending Causes Companies to Cut Back, Harvard Study — the Hudson Institute study coincides with troubling research at Harvard University.

The Link – Local TV Journalism, Bad Government Policy, Wall Street Banks and Poor Economy — Do you ever wonder why the economic climate is still questionable? Why the unemployment rate is dubious and why the average American workweek is only 34.6 hours? Or why government policies aren’t conducive to economic growth and the creation of jobs?

7 Steps to Wealth and High Net Worth — Creating wealth and enjoying high net worth doesn’t result from pure luck. It takes a certain mindset and strong action. Here are seven proven steps.

Monopoly in Health Insurance Hurts Employers, Consumers and Doctors — How do you feel about your health insurance? Fasten your seat belt. More problems have unveiled in America’s healthcare system. Patients, physicians and employers have been in the same boat – skyrocketing health insurance costs exacerbated by a lack of competition caused by ObamaCare. Now comes an eye-opening study by the American Medical Association (AMA).

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

-George Washington


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy David Castillo Dominici at www.freedigitalphotos.net

5 Factors to Get Peak Google Results for Your Web Site

What do top Web sites have in common? Successful sites produce a high number of Facebook and Twitter messages.

But the sites minimize the volume of ads on its pages according to an authoritative study.

Those are the salient lessons from a 2012 study by Searchmetrics, a search and social analytics firm.

The principles still hold up well.

stockimages male femaleLeading brands also have an inherent competitive edge in Google search results, says Searchmetrics.

The study examined the results for 300,000 Web sites and 10,000 keywords to determine the relationships that lead to strong Google rankings.

The connections between the sites and keywords were determined using a process known as “Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient.”

Charles Edward Spearman was an English psychologist (1863-1945). He was recognized for his success in statistics and factor analysis.  

Searchmetric’s five salient conclusions:

1. Social media signals show extremely high correlation:

Social signals from Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are frequently associated with good rankings in Google’s index. This is interesting in particular for the UK, which hasn’t had such a strong correlation with social signals up to this point.

2.Too much advertising is detrimental

For the first time we are seeing sites with too many advertisements struggling to rank well. However, the problem correlates only to AdSense adblockers.

3. Backlinks are still important but quantity is not the only important thing

Even though the number of backlinks is still the most powerful factor, links with stop words and ‘nofollow’ should also be included in the link-mix.

4. Brands leverage classic SEO signals

Apparently pages with strong brands do not need be as concerned with the areas of title tags, headings etc. According to our figures, this group operates under different rules.

5. Keyword domains still frequently attract top results

Despite all the rumors to the contrary, keyword domains are still alive and well and are often in the top rankings.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related resource links:

Checklist: 14 Strategies to Rock on Google — Periodic changes in Google’s search criteria and algorithms have indeed hurt many Web sites. But it’s possible to bullet-proof your site’s prominence on Google by taking 14 precautions, which is worth your time and energy. Google has perennially owned about a 66 percent search-market share in the U.S. and a 90 percent share worldwide.

Web Site ‘Priming’ – 6 Tips That Will Help You Succeed — If you want to increase your odds for Internet success, you might consider priming your Web site. Priming is a method to motivate users to make decisions when they visit your site. I gather the term was coined by the inventor of a testing tool that enables Web-site owners to obtain reactions to their sites.

How Small Businesses Can Capitalize on Cyber Strategies for Profit — Yes, it’s become important for small businesses to capitalize on cyber strategies for profit. Small and even regional retailers should be cognizant of three realities: Potential customers probably think that national chains have easier-to-shop Web sites. Big retailers have lower prices.

Tips, Plus Why it’s Never Too Early to Plan for Q4 E-commerce — It’s never to early to get ready ASAP for Q4 online sales. Why? A study of e-commerce released in 2012 covering from November 24 to December 24, 2011, discloses some secrets you might need to know. 

Best Practices to Optimize Your Brand, Manage Your Web Reputation — As you no doubt know, the digital age has brought new challenges and opportunities. Best practices are critical in order to maximize your Web presence and to manage your online reputation. The key to Internet dominance is to think integration – naturally, the first steps include a quality Web site and synching it with your social media, business listings, inbound links and other elements.

Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach that person to use the Internet and they won’t bother you for weeks. 


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Groupon Will Give You a Migraine for Ignoring Pricing Principles

 Red flags for investors and small business advertisers

Whether you’re an investor, small-business advertiser or even a customer, daily deal sites can give you a major headache.

Continually, there are red flags about Groupon.

For example in Sept. 2014, the authoritative, TheStreet.com, rated Groupon as a “sell” with a “D” ratings score:

ID-100222653 stockimages“This is driven by several weaknesses, which we believe should have a greater impact than any strengths, and could make it more difficult for investors to achieve positive results compared to most of the stocks we cover.

“The company’s weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in its earnings per share.”

True, Groupon reported a 7.5 percent increase in quarterly revenue in May 2013. But it still lost $4 million. In Q1 2012, it lost $11.7 million.

This is in addition to another red flag after the daily-deal company first reported a $42 million loss for Q4 in 2011.

So, investors keep propping a bad idea. Advertisers continually lose money on it coupon deals, which doesn’t promote profitable repeat business for them. Sooner or later all stakeholders will wise up, but perhaps too late.

CEO turmoil

Since the site’s stock price began plummeting, Groupon’s founder Andrew Mason and founding investors Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky have lost about 50 percent of their multi-billion-dollarholdings.

Mr. Mason was fired in February 2013, and was replaced with co-CEOs: Co-founder and chairman Lefkofsky and vice-chairman Ted Leonsis.

The decline means Groupon’s image has greatly diminished — as an advertising medium, employer, as a takeover target or acquirer.

Not to be gauche, this portal has been warning about daily-deal red flags, such as Groupon and LivingSocial. Additionally, results from three Rice University studies serve as warnings for the industry, its investors, its advertisers and consumers.

Same conclusions

Indeed, in 2011,  the third Rice study by a management professor, Dr. Utpal M. Dholakia, appears to draw such conclusions.

The study caught my eye because this business portal has long maintained it’s dangerous to sell products at the cheapest price in the marketplace vis-à-vis focusing on value and customer service. (See What are the Secrets for Success from Advertising?)

Companies that focus solely on price attract the smallest segment of consumers – 18 percent – the least-desirable customers who make buying decisions solely on price. Such consumers are not loyal. Additionally, they’re the biggest complainers and more likely to return products.

But let’s consider Rice’s research.

Mixed results

For two years – from August, 2009 to March, 2011 – Dr. Dholakia’s third daily-deals study examined the outcomes for 324 businesses advertising with five daily-deals sites in 23 U.S. cities.

He concluded:

  • 55.5 percent of businesses made a profit
  • 26.6 percent lost money
  • 17.9 percent broke even

“Although close to 80 percent of deal users were new customers, significantly fewer users spent beyond the deal’s value or returned to purchase at full price,” he concludes. “48.1 percent of businesses indicated they would run another daily deal promotion, 19.8 percent said they would not, and 32.1 percent said they were uncertain.”

More red flags

His study drew other warnings.

“Overall, our findings lead us to conclude that there are relatively few points of differentiation between the daily deal sites, making it harder for any one site to stand out from the others,” he adds.

More dire conclusions by Dr. Dholakia:

  • Only 35.9 percent of customers returned to pay full retail price.
  • Many advertisers aren’t loyal to their original daily deal sites – 72.8 percent of businesses will consider advertising on different sites.
  • Just 35.9 percent of restaurants/bars and 41.5 percent of salons and spas will continue to run such promotions.

“The major take-away from the study is that not enough businesses are coming back to daily deals to make the industry sustainable in the long run,” Dr. Dholakia says. “And our results from three studies and close to 500 businesses surveyed show that the deals are nowhere close to the rates of financial success for participating businesses that some companies claim to be having.”

“The businesses that we see spending their marketing dollars on daily deal sites have dramatically cut their advertising budgets,” Dr. Dholakia warns. “This is a problem for businesses, because they’re not building their brand when they offer discounted prices for their products and services. Only about 20 percent of customers using daily deals return to businesses to buy at full price; customers acquired through other programs typically have much higher rates of full-price repurchases.”

Warning for consumers

Dr. Dholakia has a warning for consumers.

“If you’re going to purchase a voucher, make sure you use it before it expires,” he says. “Right now the getting is still good for the consumer, but that isn’t going to last much longer as these steep discounts won’t and can’t last very much longer.”

A business will profit more from best-practices in traditional marketing, a strong Web site using search-engine optimization, and social media. Forget trying to advertise as a low-cost leader. It won’t work.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related best-practices in marketing and sales:

Create Buzz to Win Your Major Marketing Campaign — There are many reasons for marketing failure of a campaign. Here are 14 of the more important reasons.

Strategies for Maximum Customer Loyalty, Profits — If you’re finding it a challenge to create profits, you might appreciate knowing that you’re not alone. Profits since the Great Recession have been elusive for other businesspeople, too. But here’s what you can do.

The 7 Steps to Higher Sales — Secrets for sales success – seven steps to higher sales, five value perceptions that motivate customers to buy, and the three-step process for overcoming sales objections.

What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.”

-Abraham Lincoln


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Why Bank Woes Provide Lessons for All Companies Seeking Growth

Many banks have customer loyalty issues. It’s well known that bank fees and other behavior have been catalysts for customers to switch to credit unions in 2011 and 2012 — in big numbers.

Banks also have also had a credibility issue with affluent women.

Another indicator: Banks need new approaches because they are only satisfying 21 percent of their medium-sized business customers, according to marketing research by TNS in 2010.

More recent studies indicate there are a lot of unhappy bank customers. Actually, the challenges faced by banks in trying to grow include principles that are applicable to all business sectors that want opportunities for growth.

The TNS study suggests American banks need new strategies to lay a strong, long-term foundation to attract new business customers. It was sponsored by the Commercial Banking Momentum Monitor (CBMM).

“For 70 percent of the market, multiple failures by the current lead provider on credit, pricing, operational reliability, or service would push the client to consider alternative providers,” according the TNS press statement. “When an opportunity arises, the banks most likely to be considered are those that have already established a base level of familiarity and rapport with the prospect.”

Such criteria were once assumed.

“Failure to meet these tests will immediately eliminate banks from consideration,” the press statement says. “The factors that are currently most likely to influence the final selection of a new banking partner are credit terms, pricing, the product fit, the quality of the web-based solutions, and servicing.”

The study repeatedly makes this point.

“Banks seeking to drive growth through acquisition need to understand the dynamics of the switching process in the current environment,” says TNS Vice President Glenn Staada. “This includes the triggers that lead to consideration, the evaluation process, and the potential barriers to switch. The banks that will be best positioned to attract new relationships will be those that are able to respond to unmet and emerging needs with a differentiated solution.  Bankers must continuously invest in building relationships with the businesses in the community, even among those extremely satisfied with their current relationships. It is these relationships that will eventually drive consideration once an opportunity presents itself.”

The good news for such banks for the 21 percent of loyal customers is that most will stay put.

Here’s why:

  • 67 percent of the loyal business customers are content.
  • 53 percent of them say their banks are fulfilling their credit requirements.
  • 10 percent believe the cost of switching is too high, particularly because of complex business relationships.

“Banks can aid acquisition success by developing strategies to help clients more easily transition away from an existing provider, especially around EFTs (electronic fund transfers),” suggests Mr. Staada.

The study also hints at opportunities for banking growth.  However, about 20 percent of the study’s respondents say their business needs are so unique other banks couldn’t provide the same level of service. Ten percent want their banks to improve but they haven’t found a better bank.

Factors that would persuade a business to change banks:

“Approximately, 90 percent rate pricing as a critical factor in the evaluation of a new provider,“ according to the press release.  “Nearly as important are factors relating to financial stability, trust, ethical operations, high-quality technological solutions, service, and credit.”

Other factors for a business to consider when changing banks:

“Four in 10 would use their knowledge of the banks operating in their area to select the banks they’d evaluate as a potential new provider,” the press release states. “One third say they must have a prior relationship with that bank, and nearly three in 10 rely on word of mouth from business colleagues, family, or friends.”

“In the initial round of evaluation, potential suitors are most often eliminated from consideration due to questions around financial instability, ethical operations, or perceived unwillingness to extend credit,” adds Staada.  “In today’s economy, these are the new minimum requirements for entry in the business and middle market segments.  Bankers should have a strategy to pass the stability, ethics, and credit benchmarks prior to engaging with a new client.  Failure to anticipate these questions will greatly diminish the opportunity to compete beyond these basics to communicate more fully the on the merit of its offer.”

Do you see the parallels between the banks’ challenges for growth and all companies?

My firm’s research: For 18 percent of the world’s population, price or cost is the only consideration in buying products and services.

So, for 82 percent, perceptions about value matter most, including these perceptions about a bank or any other business.

The value perceptions include:

Employees, Spokespersons – 52 percent. The key characteristics are integrity, judgment, friendliness and knowledge.

Remember, about 70 percent of your customers will buy elsewhere because they feel they’re being taken for granted. And customers normally will not tell you why they switched to your competitor.

Image of the organization – 15 percent. They are concerned about the image of your company in the community. Cause-related marketing is a big plus in forging a positive image. So is cleanliness and good organization.

Quality of Product or Service Utility – 13 percent. The customer is asking the question – “What will this do for me?”

Convenience –12 percent. Customers like easy accessibility to do business with you. That includes your Web site, telephoning you, and the convenience of patronizing your business.

Price – 8 percent. Price is important, but it’s the least concern among the five value-motivating perceptions.

Your next challenge is to align your marketing, products and services, and customer service — while being mindful of these motivating perceptions.

From the Coach’s Corner, related reading on big bank issues:

“Banks have a new image. Now you have ‘a friend,’ your friendly banker. If the banks are so friendly, how come they chain down the pens?” 

-Alan King


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.