Marketing Tactics for CPA, Law Firms to Earn New Revenue



All professional service firms covet new revenue. However, it’s a misnomer to think the first step is to market externally in order to get new revenue.

In reality, it’s most important to think defensively like a championship football coach. Yes, a sports metaphor is apropos.

No championship is won on offense. Championships are won on defense – protecting the goal line. That’s accomplished with effective internal marketing.

ID-10076360 AmbroSo for a professional service firm, most new revenue actually stems from the current client base – in repeat business and referrals.

Once, you maximize your internal marketing, you can get a better return on your investment in external marketing.

Two overlooked tactics 

Firstly, many firms under-estimate the potential value or demand for additional services.

Secondly, they fail to effectively apprise their clients of all services they provide.

Despite what they think, professional service firms aren’t effective in marketing all their services. It’s important to connect the dots for clients.

To increase your odds for repeat business, it’s all about micro-managing your clients.

You must take extra measures to really get to know your clients’ situations and the looming issues from which they’ll be confronted.

Here are five thoughts you might wish to consider:

1. Select an employee to be your dedicated relationship-liaison

The problem with having the person who handles the day-to-day work for the client in order to manage the relationship to a higher level of business is that the person is too busy and focused on the workload to explore new possibilities.

The workload is too consuming for them. They’re preoccupied instead of contemplating marketing opportunities.

Often, they’re jaded in their thinking. It might surprise you to know they become a little cynical and bored with the drudgery of their work.

Pick an employee who can be objective in working with your employee who handles the day-to-day work to learn about the client. Such a person will also know when to help clients deal with the typical emotional crisis.

2. Assimilate a formal review of issues

Include a formal review of threats and issues possibly affecting your client in an upgrade of your client-management approach.

You’re likely to identify issues that your client will need to know and discuss.

3. Prospect for opportunities

With your formal review, you will be in a position to discuss options with your client. Whether the client can successfully address the issues or retains you to provide solutions, you’ve done a stellar job of client service.

“Internal marketing is probably much more important than external marketing. That’s even more true today than it’s ever been.”

-Tom Stewart

4. Client-meeting approach

Partner with your clients. Be assertive – not aggressive. In your client meetings, insert the potential issues on your agenda.

If your clients aren’t thanking you regularly, paying your invoices promptly or responding well to your recommendations, you must use strategies to build long-term client relationships with effective meetings.

In this way, your client will see you more as a valued partner, not a salesperson.

5. Monthly marketing

Whether it’s an anchor client with whom you have regular face-time or an occasional client, keep in touch each month.

In this way, you’ll avoid the “out of sight, out of mind syndrome” in which you’ll risk your client hiring someone else to handle new issues.

At the minimum, the easiest method is to send them a monthly newsletter. Include issues or proposed legislation that affect most clients.

For top-of-the-mind-awareness, it’s recommended you outshine your competitors with great newsletters.

From the Coach’s Corner, get off to a good start with new clients. Even though you might be marketing one specific part of your practice to diversify your portfolio of clients, make certain you touch all the bases.

Here’s an example from a personal case study:

Years ago, I was aware of a financial institution that was getting bad publicity, and I knew I could solve its challenges in marketing.

My value proposition: “The CMS approach will save you time and money in marketing, human resources, and special projects,” which was included in a few well-written letters to the CEO.  But the letters didn’t generate a response.

So I once a week I began to cold-call the CEO. Then, one day one of his executives intercepted me in the lobby to schedule an appointment to meet with her. (I put on a happy face, but inside I was groaning because my approach is to only do business with the CEO.)

At the scheduled meeting, three other executives were seated at the conference room table. Then it became clear, the CEO wanted to know how I dealt with his key employees before meeting me.

Soon I got an audience with the CEO. I began with my value proposition, and then segued to my marketing benefit statements and began to ask open-ended questions.

Much to my surprise, the CEO responded: “That’s all very nice but right now I want to hear about your HR training program.” His marketing issues were exacerbated by internal issues.

He ended up being a highly valued client in HR and marketing for nearly 20 years. On a regular basis, he added special projects.

Related sources of information:

11 Web Site Strategies to Grow Your Professional Service Firm — If you want to grow your professional-service firm, don’t ignore your most-visible marketing vehicle – your Web site. To retain and add clients to grow your practice, compelling thought leadership and other qualities that generate trust are key factors for your Web site.

Google Rank – 23 Key Questions about Your Web Site — Google has unveiled vital information about what it considers important for Web site ranking. Many sites have benefited and others haven’t fared well as well as they could in their Google ranking. Well, Google has made it clear what it considers all-important.

Marketing Lessons from Poor-Performing Wealth Investment Firms — Registered investment advisor (RIA) firms might want more clients, but 95 percent are lacking in marketing and business development. Worse, 70 percent don’t even have a strategic plan to grow.

Scholar: Get More Bang from Your Online Ad Investment — Advertisers can get the most return on their Internet advertising investments by using better metrics for sourcing, according to research by Wharton marketing Professor Ron Berman.

Consulting — 61 Rules for Effective Client Service and Profitable Practice — Advice for consultants to have a profitable practice. Most of these ground rules were developed by the iconic marketing consultant, Cork Platts.

“Internal marketing is probably much more important than external marketing. That’s even more true today than it’s ever been.”

-Tom Stewart


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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 Ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Clues You Need a Vision Plan for Growth – How to Write It



If you don’t have a written vision plan for fast growth, the reality is that you’re losing out on potential business.

A written business plan is best. But if you don’t have the time and resources to write it, go to plan B – a vision plan.

Many companies overlook writing it even though it only needs to be one page in length for most firms.

There are all kinds of clues – having to do with foresight and focus – why a young company should develop a vision plan.

vision stockimages.

Clues you need to write a vision plan:

1. If you have little revenue growth. The longer you wait to write a plan, the more obstacles you will face.

2. If you’re continually working long hours without a return on your investment.

3, If you’re starting to feel depressed on a daily basis.

4. If you’re feeling burnout.

5. If you can’t beat the competition.

6. If you don’t have any growth.

7. If none or few products or services are increasing in sales.

8. If your profits are being squeezed.

9. If your cash flow is tight.

10. If you don’t have sufficient followers on social media or fans.

The mistake most entrepreneurs make is that they think they’ll remember all necessary details. But they stray from their plans.

“Where there is no vision, there is no hope.”

-George Washington Carver

It’s key to write an action plan for your pathway to success – what you need to do to get there. You must do this before you even think about a Web site, blog or press releases.

Important elements to develop your vision plan:

1. Understand who you are

Learn a valuable lesson from Plato, who lived 428 to 348 BC, and was the world’s most-influential philosopher.

Famous for his adage, “Know thyself,” 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.

Do a self assessment of your strengths and weaknesses for what you want to achieve.

You can lessen the impact of weaknesses if you improve on your strengths. Write about how you will improve on your strengths.

2. Develop an executive summary

Then, in one paragraph, summarize who you are and what you want to achieve.

Describe the niche you plan to fill. Explain what and how your firm will look like.

Very importantly: Don’t be tentative. For example, Don’t write, “I can…”. You must write with conviction: “I will…” or “my company will…”.

3. Value proposition

Differentiate your company from your competitors – ideally 10 to 15 words in length. Again, write with strong conviction so your customers will trust you.

Answer these types of questions: What benefits do you provide? Why are you credible and relevant so people will pay you for products or services?

For example, my firm’s value proposition: “The CMS Approach will save you time and money while increasing revenue in marketing, human resources and special projects.”

From these elements, write your three-to-five-word branding slogan. For example, this site’s slogan: Proven Solutions to Maximize Revenue.

Develop a simple logo that illustrates the benefits of your slogan. Allow it to be developed as a 16 x 16 pixel favicon. A favicon is important to brand your Web site.

For example, since 1992 , here’s my logo:

3. Your ideal customer

Understand the answers to this question: Who is your best opportunity as a target audience?

In addition to customers or clients, you will need Centers of Influence — people who will influence business to come your way. Identify who they are and plan to treat them as customers.

4. Turn your strengths into benefit statements

For selling situations, you will have to focus on your most-important five strengths. Develop a benefit statement for each strength for easier selling of your product or service.

5. Key indicators

When you identify key indicators of your business growth, you’ll be able to devote the right investments in money and time. Then you’ll be able to measure the results.

Use SMART as an acronym – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific.

6. Cash flow

Anticipate your expenses. Detail what will be needed in resources. Be conservative. Know how you’ll manage your inventory costs.

Once you determine what your resources will cost, add another 25 percent to allow for unexpected developments. Do a break-even analysis to determine when you will be profitable.

Know which revenue stream is profitable. Identify potentialities – what you can do to make more profit for the short-term and long-term. Don’t waste time reflecting on ideas that will only yield temporary growth.

As you proceed and grow, focus on developing multiple revenue streams.

7. Analysis of your main competitors

Understand why your competitors are successful in areas you’re not. Identify companies that are growing in unique fashions.

Identify the ways in which your competitors aren’t succeeding.

8. Human capital

Identify the qualities you need in people. Only recruit people who are inspired by your value proposition and who do quality work.

9. Increasing sales

Know your best sales opportunities. When do you sell the most? How can you improve?

10. Strategies

Fill in the blanks. Write the strategies in how you will succeed. Fine tune as you go along.

From the Coach’s Corner, finally, remember if you have a dream, it’s likely you’ll be able to draw on your experience to make it happen.

Here are related tips:

Finance Checklist for Strategic Planning, Growth — Strategic planning in finance for growth means avoiding trendy fads. Instead, it requires an ongoing down-to-earth approach in order to create value. Here are seven steps.

To Realize Your Business Vision, 8 Best Practices for Setting Goals — What ever your situation is, to realize your vision, focusing on the right details is a skill conducive for strategically setting goals. Here are eight best practices.

8 Simple Strategies to Give You Pricing Power — If you’re struggling with pricing strategies, you’re not alone. Many big companies struggle, too.

Marketing Tips to Run Your Online Business for Higher Profit — E-commerce has made it possible for entrepreneurs to get a fast return on their investments with higher profits. Here’s how they do it.

14 Steps to Profit from Online Customer Reviews — For competitiveness and profits, businesses can’t afford to ignore the potential of online reviews. They’re a factor in revolutionizing commerce. Reviews are important because they influence prospective customers to buy from you. They’re also beneficial in improving your Internet presence because search-engine crawlers consider them to be relevant.

“Where there is no vision, there is no hope.”

-George Washington Carver


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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

How to Grow Sales (through Pricing and HR Training)



Sophistication in pricing by salespeople is an excellent driver to grow earnings rather than just looking for ways to cut costs.

Instead of growing their profits with sophistication in pricing, many businesspeople miss growth opportunities when they mistakenly cut muscle – usually in human capital and branding.

It’s long been a Biz Coach caution. Even in a weak economy, a secret to success is to expand marketing. Not only will you maintain market share, you will grow it when the economy improves because your competitors cut their branding investments.

Mergers & AcquisitionsThis also means training in pricing excellence – management and salespeople – about operational costs and understanding human nature on the customers’ willingness to pay – all in the art of pricing for profit.

The training should include experiential, real-world role-playing exercises.

Otherwise, you risk pricing your products and services too low. This means you lose opportunities in revenue. Or you risk pricing too high, which means you lose customers.

Companies that employ mere order takers instead of savvy, professionally trained staff miss opportunities for growth. Or worse, the companies go out of business.

(Scroll down to the “Coach’s Corner” for tips on pricing and training.)

Now, a McKinsey & Company report, also points out how to turn pricing power into profit. It was authored by Jay Jubas in Stamford, Connecticut; Dieter Kiewell in London; and Georg Winkler in Berlin.

They eloquently argue in favor of taking five steps to leverage a better pricing approach for profits.

They cite a case study:

An international provider of technical gases had a problem. With a large, highly fragmented product portfolio of more than 500 SKUs, customers in a range of industries, and a broad segmentation of customers by size, prices varied widely even for the same product. And while managers believed there was room to increase prices overall, they had no rational basis from which to challenge current pricing practices.

The solution? An analytical tool to pinpoint new price drivers, redraw customer segments, and recommend updated prices. After piloting, the tool was rolled out in seven diverse markets. The company supported this new approach with intensive sales-force training and eventually reset up to 100,000 prices for 150 SKUs per country — resulting in an increase in return on sales of three to five percentage points, without significant changes in volume. The whole program took just three months.

The authors strongly assert that such an approach can provide a permanent solution for earnings growth. Agreed.

Here’s an edited excerpt of the authors’ five recommendations:

1. Provide meaningful transparency into pricing data

When raw-material prices rise, sales reps don’t know which prices should go up, by how much, and how quickly. Without that knowledge, profit opportunities evaporate. The front line needs meaningful transparency into price levels, discounts, and other leakages at different levels of granularity and over multiple time periods.

2. Understand what customers really value

For all the sophistication provided by advanced analytics to master a complex array of prices, the price of a product or service ultimately depends on how much a customer thinks it’s worth—that is, “value pricing.” The best companies augment pricing analytics with detailed customer insights to identify all the key buying factors that determine how much a product is worth to a given customer, understand how those factors compare with competitors’ offers, and quantify the value created for the customer.

3. Move from sales reps to ‘value negotiators’

Determining the best price means nothing if sales reps can’t convince customers to accept it. For this reason, it’s critical that sales reps have important pricing capabilities, such as sound judgment to manage time, negotiate thoughtfully, and adjust pricing guidelines in order to maximize value and minimize the risk of customers defecting.

4. Provide on-the-job training to build confidence

While most companies understand it’s important to build the pricing skills of their people, few move beyond basic training in classes or online. Successful companies, however, use adult-learning techniques, such as experiential learning, to embed the new skills in the front line.

5. Change the culture

In our experience, even the best pricing programs will fail in the long term without a deliberate commitment to overcome the entrenched habits and shifting priorities that doom most change programs. Ingraining pricing success over the long term requires putting in place an “influence model” that includes role modeling, fostering understanding and conviction, developing talent and skills, and implementing reinforcement mechanisms.

While all aspects of the influence model are important, pricing leaders should pay particular attention to developing talent and skills by coaching their people.

Well put. For more explanation, again a link to their report.

From the Coach’s Corner, Here are related tips for pricing, sales training negotiating:

For Stronger Profits, Avoid 11 Typical Pricing Mistakes – In general, how can you manage the sweet spot – between your price-optimization and costs? Many companies make 11 pricing mistakes.

To Cope with Rising Costs, Review Your Pricing Strategy –  Increased costs weigh heavily on the bottom line. If you’re being pressured by costs, it’s probably time to review your pricing strategy.  You’re not alone. No business is immune from rising costs in fuel; rent or real estate; labor; health insurance and ObamaCare; marketing; and equipment. Lest not you forget all the taxes.

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.

The 22 Dos and Don’ts for Successful Negotiations — No matter what you need to negotiate, there are easy strategies to get anything you want. But you must first remember it’s important to reach a fair compromise – with win-win negotiating skills.

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.

Your pricing reflects everything you do as a business.


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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.






For Top Sales, 5 Rules for Targeting the Right Prospects



If you target the right prospects, you’ll save time and money and increase your revenue.

Later in this article, you’ll find the five rules to follow. They’re developed for B2B but work for B2C, too.

Firstly, remember that once you find the right prospects and turn them into customers, your goal should be to provide them with enough red-carpet service so they become loyal.

men meetingOnce they become loyal, you benefit from built-in automatic revenue increases, opportunities for an exponential increase in referrals — in other words, a cost-effective marketing investment.

So a priority is to cut through the clutter to get your message across to the right people.

Make sure they’re the key decision-makers.

A second priority is to develop relationships with them by creating an environment for them to buy with a professional selling process.

That includes a criterion for matching your prospects with the right products and services.

Here are five rules for targeting your best prospects:

1. Lay groundwork for a long-term relationship

You need to find a need to fill. Moreover, your prospects need to be likely candidates who need what you have to offer for many years.

Research each prospect for long-term potential – a lifetime relationship of repeat business.

You need to ask the right open-ended questions. Take precautions to build trust. Plan to provide the right value.

2. Research their marketplace environment

Maximize your resources to lessen your sales opportunity costs – consider more than just opportunity to sell to customers. Assess their entire environment – all their stakeholders – their competitors, customers, and strategic alliances.

Note: The bigger their marketplace environment the bigger your opportunities for growth.

3. Ignore dying sectors and companies

Put on your visionary glasses – forecast the growth potential of your prospects.

Watch for trends in technology and the tastes of businesspeople and consumers who want value, convenience and mobility. All you have to do is to consider the newspaper, dry cleaning or video-rental sectors.

For instance: It’s unfortunate but people don’t read newspapers. Those who want to be well-informed visit Web sites. Strange but true, people aren’t dressing as well as other generations and they’re wearing washable cotton sweaters — this is why dry cleaners are going out of business. Technology has changed how people watch movies.

To see if a sector or a company is in a growth mode, here’s a simple tip: Check to see if there’s an increase in hiring, and how it compares to other businesses and industries.

 4. Focus on value-minded prospects 

Capitalize on the five value perceptions that motivate customers to buy. About 18 percent of customers – in B2B or B2C, alike – will only buy if you’re selling at the cheapest price in the marketplace. Yes, one in five prospects will be hardcore — they always insist on paying the cheapest price — no matter what.

Avoid those people. Screen them out in the qualification phase in your sales process. They are the most troublesome.

Even if they buy, they’re more likely to return their purchase and demand a refund. Even if they keep the purchase, they complain the loudest and longest.

They’re unlikely to be profitable Centers of Influence — providing excellent referrals and influencing customers your way. Focus on people who are motivated by price and value.

Here are the five value perceptions of what your customers sub-consciously think in motivating them to buy from you:

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 by your employees. And customers normally will not tell you why they switched to your competitor.

Image of Company – 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.

5. Be astute about the differences among advertising, engagement and just spinning your wheels.

Just because a prospect engages you, it doesn’t always lead to revenue. It’s an art to avoid the tire kickers while discerning which prospects will buy.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related sources of information:

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.

6 Tips to Create New Sales with Successful Cold Calling – It’s important to create new opportunities with successful cold calling. Attending mere networking events or depending on a high marketing budget aren’t sufficient for strong sales. OK, cold calling isn’t always easy, but you must if you want to dramatically increase sales in double-digit percentages.

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.   The ideal situation is to get sales leads via networking and referrals.

Is Your Company Underperforming in Marketing / Sales? Evaluate Your Culture – If you’re dissatisfied with your revenue, it’s time for an assessment of your culture’s operation. Why? Superior cultures drive business performance.

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.

“In sales, it’s not what you say; it’s how they perceive what you say.”

-Jeffrey Gitomer 


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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.





Restaurants Benefit by Seasoning Their Customer Loyalty Programs


With only 33 percent of patrons who are loyal customers, restaurants need to add seasoning to their customer-loyalty programs, according to a Deloitte Consulting study.

“Although restaurant loyalty program participation is lagging, the study indicates that consumers do not have an inherent aversion to such programs,” said Scott Rosenberger, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte’s U.S. Consulting Travel, Hospitality and Leisure Leader. “These programs can drive value if promoted effectively, as a restaurant’s most frequent patrons are more inclined to join that restaurant’s program and use it more than any others.”

The Q4 2013 survey polled 4,093 fast service and casual dining restaurant customers, based on restaurant visits 30 days prior to taking the survey, Deloitte said in a press release.

“Additionally, we found that those core customers who do belong to their most-visited restaurant’s program are more satisfied customers and stronger brand advocates than those who do not,” added Mr. Rosenberger. “Restaurants should clearly market these programs to consumers to encourage participation, increase customer visits and strengthen the connection between members and the brand.”

Apolonia restaurantKey Deloitte findings:

— 50 percent of survey respondents said they belong to at least one restaurant program, a much lower rate compared with those of other sectors, such as airlines (78 percent) and hotels (70 percent).

— Among consumers who belong to at least one loyalty program, 74 percent indicate that they do not participate in their favorite restaurant’s program, either because they say one is not offered or they are simply not sure whether one is available.

— But among the other 26 percent who indicate that their favorite restaurant offers a loyalty program, 87 percent actually belongs to it, implying a high conversion rate among a restaurant’s best customers.

Personal Connections: A Menu for Success

Deloitte reported loyalty programs that complement interactions with restaurant staff and digital engagement are another lever that restaurants can pull to deliver more personalized connections and service that customers crave while increasing brand awareness and affinity. Only 33 percent of respondents felt that they had developed a personal relationship with their favorite restaurants’ brand and people.

Attributes such as responsiveness and friendliness of staff rank high (5th and 8th out of 23 attributes) in terms of importance to the restaurant experience, and relatively high in terms of repeat patronage (11th and 10th).

“As a restaurateur, my job is to basically control the chaos and the drama. There’s always going to be chaos in the restaurant business.”

-Rocco DiSpirito

While these characteristics rank high, consumers still hesitate to share their experiences about them. Roughly 71 percent of survey respondents liked the menu options at their favorite restaurants, but only 42 percent would be willing to serve as brand ambassadors, and 61 percent said that they never or rarely wanted restaurants to contact them for personal feedback.

Untapped opportunities

However, there are a number of untapped opportunities for restaurants to engage their patrons in a manner they prefer. Sixty-one percent of consumers indicate they prefer to be contacted via email, while only 28 percent say restaurants actually do so.

Fifty percent prefer traditional mail, 29 percentage points higher than the number who say they receive it.

Restaurants can also amplify their engagement through mobile channels. Among consumers who have downloaded a mobile application (19 percent), the primary reasons for doing so include viewing restaurant menu and prices (55 percent), and checking for hours of operation (46 percent).

Restaurants can harness these existing activities to make other offerings such as loyalty programs or promotions — front and center.

“Loyalty programs, mobile platforms and customer outreach, among other approaches, afford restaurants the unintrusive means to understand and connect with customers in ways that matter to them individually,” asserted Mr. Rosenberger.

“Blending traditional and digital channels, restaurants can gain insights into customer preferences through each transaction and interaction. Armed with that knowledge, they can make more personalized gestures, such as a free favorite beverage or dessert as a birthday or anniversary present, that help garner goodwill and drive brand affinity,” he added.

Back to Basics

The survey also revealed that it is still critical for restaurants to deliver on the basics. Food taste (1st out of 23 attributes), food safety (2nd), order accuracy (3rd), and price (4th) ranked at the very top for respondents, in terms of importance to the restaurant experience.

This means even the most effective loyalty programs will not adequately compensate for an otherwise weak value proposition, even for those customers who regularly use such programs.

However, even when restaurants get the basics right, their customers have plenty of suitors, underscoring the need for improved, personal connections with customers.

Only 19 percent of respondents said they spend more than half of their total 30-day restaurant budget at their most frequented restaurants. Furthermore, 43 percent said that they actually spend less than 25 percent of their budget at their favorite restaurant.

From the Coach’s Corner, related tips:

Tips for Restaurant Owners: Keeping Good Employees, Profits — If you, as a restaurant owner, have trouble keeping talented employees, consider insights from a report on a Sacramento, California TV station. It will also help you stay in business.

Daily Deal Sites and Pricing Principles – What’s Sustainable and What Isn’t — Whether you’re an investor, small-business advertiser or even a customer, there continue to be red flags about daily deal sites.

Social Media: 5 Ways to Use Instagram for Revenue — Now that marketers have learned Instagram is a potent force in social media — a study shows it beats Facebook, Twitter and Google+ — you might want to learn how to capitalize on it for revenue, too.

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, plus what you must do to win.

Case Study: Mistakes Companies Make While Losing Profits — In order to maximize profits, there are several precautions you must take, not just mistake-free pricing.

“As a restaurateur, my job is to basically control the chaos and the drama. There’s always going to be chaos in the restaurant business.”

-Rocco DiSpirito


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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 Apolonia at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Social Media: 5 Ways to Use Instagram for Revenue



Now that marketers have learned Instagram is a potent force in social media — a
study shows it beats Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

You might want to learn how to capitalize on it for revenue, too.

If you have a business that would benefit from visuals in marketing — pictures and video-sharing opportunities —  Instagram is probably a good tool to use as a center of influence.

Many restaurants have been using it for great success in marketing.

Instagram is much preferable to Groupon and other daily deal sites.

ID-10070662 David Castillo Dominici

Telling your story

It’s one thing to talk about the high points of your products.

But it’s better to show your offerings.

Instagram’s definitely an opportunity for growth.

Instagram is beneficial in five ways:

1. It’s easy to post pictures. For further enhancement, like Twitter, you can use hashtags.

2. You can use Instagram to connect with centers of influence privately. This is possible with its direct messaging feature.

3. You can give added value. You can enhance your social-media following if you share ideas. For example, you can share how to use the social medium. 

Plus, so far, fans on Instagram are loyal and act as you request when they’re asked to do so.

4. It enhances visually appealing businesses. You can optimize interest in your business with stylish pictures.

5. You can leverage Instagram in a variety of ways for transactions. For example, you can provide discounts or coupons to users if they share information about you.

You can also launch polls or contests using a hashtag. Again, that’s for transactions via Instagram.

From the Coach’s Corner, related content: 

UCLA Psychologists Tell What Triggers People to Share on Social Media — Buzz. Marketers, senior managers, business owners, and consultants crave it for revenue. Career-minded individuals engaged in self-promotion also want it. Another term for buzz is the “salesperson effect.” For the first time, we learn how ideas are spread, what messages go viral on social media, and how to predict it.

Energize Your Customer-Loyalty Program with 6 Steps — The quickest way for established businesses to optimize revenue is to have a stellar customer-loyalty program — there are six steps you can take for repeat sales and referrals. If you’re not a great steward of your current book of business, it’s futile to look for new customers. 

A Lesson in Great E-mail Marketing Using Social Media, Videos — Dog lovers would love a promotion by Orvis. Actually, you don’t have to own a dog to appreciate the digital marketing by the firm. Orvis is a nationwide high-end purveyor of men’s and women’s clothing, products for the home and travel, and of course you can buy gifts for your dog. 

Make Your Blogging, Social Media and PR Work to Attract Fans — Businesspeople have discovered social media is a work in progress. It takes huge amounts of time, not only to implement innovations, but to succeed.        

Marketing – Why Visual Content Works on Facebook, but Hashtags Don’t — Ninety-eight percent of top brands have a Facebook fan page, but Facebook’s hashtags don’t enhance engagement with consumers. That’s one of two salient conclusions from an analysis of top-brand experiences from marketing on Facebook. What does work is visual content.

“You are what you share.” 
-Charles Leadbeater


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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.




You Can Drive Business Profit with a Mid-Year Operations Audit


Are your profits flat despite a bigger marketing budget? Here’s how you can regroup before Q4 with a mid-year operations audit.



So, you’ve installed an elite marketing program, but you aren’t meeting financial projections? Well, there’s one likely suspect – your internal operations.

Find out where your human-capital problems are, so you can implement profit solutions. Consider an internal operations audit.

It can spot typical operational challenges such as dysfunctional supply chains; failures in green-business practices; IT security issues; and unnecessary risks that threaten business disruptions.

ID-10063936 podpadUse an internal audit to unearth the problems with 10 strategies:

1. Be respectful of your employees — don’t endanger morale

Many employees get nervous any time a big boss or management consultant suddenly enters their space with a clipboard full of questions.

Treat employees as experts. Be diplomatic. Explain the overall reasons for the audit. First, meet with your leaders and get their feedback then meet everyone individually before considering staff meetings.

2. Encourage your employees to participate in the process

That’s accomplished by active listening with open-ended questions to get information. This isn’t about telling employees what they’re doing right and wrong.

You need to know the realities they face in the operational costs of their daily responsibilities. In addition, they need to know what drives profit to improve cash flow. See who knows about profit drivers and who doesn’t.

The solution: Start creating a partnership with your employees. If employees perceive that a partnership exists, you’ll be closer to achieving the desired results.

3. Make certain you have a distinct, companywide understanding of all your systems

Employees can’t perform well in chaos. Check to see if you’re employing best practices that include solid operations checklists.

4. Examine everything – don’t be complacent

Don’t omit any area. Check every phase of your business. That includes employee morale. High morale among employees propels profits.

5. Take steps to empower your employees

Don’t be afraid of negative news. Welcome it. You can literally power your brand with employees who aren’t afraid to speak.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

-Albert Einstein

6. Segue to profitable ideas

Don’t keeping focusing on the problems. Change direction.  Instead, encourage discussions for improvement in the challenges.

Ultimately, the goal is to motivate employees to offer profitable ideas, such as properly managing your inventory costs for positive cash flow. Remember, it’s a matter of principles, not finger pointing at personalities.

7. Double down – follow all salient areas and gauge your progress

You’ll need to know the most stubborn issues in order to save time and increase revenue. Your audit should reveal what’s changed and what hasn’t.

Hint: You can increase your business value with five basic business-process optimization strategies.

8. Continue to consider your employees’ perceptions

Not all employees will be on the same page with you for business growth. You can ease the process by dealing with their biggest concern – what’s in it for them – then, they’re more likely to cooperate enthusiastically.

Trust between management and your workforce helps. Implement leadership strategies for employee respect, and take steps to boost your employees’ morale.

9. Think and act like one of your valued customers

Your audit should consider your customers’ perspectives – what’s working for them, what isn’t and what would solve the issues.

Look for two common problems:

1o. Be pragmatic and balanced

Often, there’s a tendency to belabor the negatives without focusing enough on the positives. Make sure your reports are balanced.

If you’re not balanced, it will become unnecessarily difficult to market your changes to employees.

From the Coach’s Corner, related information:

8 Strategies When Sales Drop and Costs Cut into Your Profits — If your sales are down and costs are hurting your profits, you’re not alone. The irony is you can do something about it — with these eight tips.

13 Management Tips to Solve Employee Absenteeism — Absenteeism causes migraines for a lot of bosses. Obviously, your company will make healthier profits, if you don’t have an absenteeism problem.

HR Management – 8 Best Practices in Employee Delegation — Delegation is a fundamental driver of organizational growth. Managers who are effective in delegation show leadership. Here are eight best practices.

6 Steps to Implement a Cultural Change for Profits — If your company is lacking in teamwork, morale is poor and profits are weak, chances are you need to change your organization’s culture.

No one so thoroughly appreciates the value of constructive criticism as the one who is giving it.


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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 podpad at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Marketing Plan Fundamentals For Best Results



If you haven’t completed a strong marketing plan to complement your business plan, you’re missing some salient benefits.

An effective marketing plan generates revenue and alleviates uncertainty for your business.

There are four tangible values from the return on your marketing investment.

Firstly, when employees are apprised of your marketing vision, you’ll benefit from more teamwork and employee loyalty.

Provide them with an abridged copy of your marketing vision for growth.

Secondly, development of a marketing plan means you are up-to-date on your company’s situation.

You thoroughly know your company. You’re more aware of your dynamic marketplace.

Thirdly, a malleable marketing plan is an action to-do list. At the minimum, it’s a roadmap to success in the coming year.

Fourthly, details won’t be forgotten. It keeps the focus on the long-term objectives.

So you need to begin with an executive summary.

Keep in mind your preferred end results from the specific actions you’ll take. Include your resourceful ideas and voluminous research, but specificity in measurable plans is vital.

Your marketing plan needs four specifics:

1. Situation analysis – a market analysis with customer data, segmentation, market needs analysis and market forecast; a SWOT analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; your brand’s personality; and competitive analysis.

2. Strategy – including a mission statement, goals, branding, product positioning and pricing. In other words, remember the 4 Ps of marketing – product, price, place and promotion.

3. Sales forecast – by product and market segment, sales channels, responsible departments and managers – all designed to be tracked.

4. Investment budget – enough details about sales programs, management and strategies to track expenses each month.

You’ll need input from virtually everywhere in your firm – consider finance, human resources, manufacturing, and marketing. You’ll learn unforeseen insights on problems and opportunities.

Keep in mind your preferred end results from the specific actions you’ll take. Include your resourceful ideas and voluminous research, but specificity in measurable plans is vital.

Plan smart goals as in the acronym, SMART:

  • Specific  – who, what, when, where, and how
  • Measurable – determine how you’ll attain your goals
  • Agreed upon – make sure there’s a consensus or agreement
  • Realistic – Make certain you’re being pragmatic
  • Target date – a feasible timeline is best

Marketing plans are also helpful for better time management — once you have determined the annual big picture for your goals — then determine the intermediate steps for each month.

Oh, and in this age, consider whether your business would benefit from branding and selling your business as green or how cause-related marketing can increase sales by double digits.

Again, even after you’ve written your marketing plan, remember you’re not done. You must be relentless in continuously monitoring your progress. Fine-tune your plan as needed. Figure out what’s wrong and what needs to be done to remedy any undesirable situation.

From the Coach’s Corner, additional resources:

Why B2B Marketers Like Content Marketing – Study — B2B marketers ostensibly get a satisfying return on content marketing because that’s the preferred choice for 82 percent of respondents in a survey. “Content Marketing is now a more popular marketing tactic than search marketing, public relations, events, or print/TV/radio advertising,” wrote the study’s authors.

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.

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.

Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

-Dr. Peter Drucker


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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 pannawat at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Do You Want to Be a Top Innovator? Here’s How…



Every company wants to be successful. But to achieve lofty goals, certainly innovation is the key in our new global economy.

To become an innovative leader and to participate in turbo-charging the economy, it’s vital to continually evaluate your organization and strategize for success.

It takes involvement by members of your entire operation. That means identifying your company’s assets, processes, resources and skills.

adamr@www.freedigitalphotos.netIn a nutshell, you must analyze six elements:

— your human resources

— products and services

— marketing

— operations

— financial performance

— competition

Human Resources

Completely review your capabilities in human resources with a focus on your competencies and weaknesses. Determine your abilities to achieve a competitive advantage.

Consider your recruitment process, training and development, and compensation systems.

Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your organizational culture, and your leadership capabilities.

If your company is lacking in teamwork, morale is poor and profits are weak, chances are you need to change your organization’s culture. Be forewarned, changing a culture is a monumental chore because it will take strategic planning and super powers of persuasion because six steps are necessary to implement a cultural change for profits.

Products and services

Evaluate your offerings in terms of breadth and mix, quality and reliability.

Marketing

Take a hard look at your image, research, development, distribution channels, brand equity, sales personnel, customer-service quotient and market share.

Query your customers. What are their viewpoints? Evaluate your customer base to see if they meet your goals for growth. s time for an assessment of your marketing and sales culture. Why?

Superior cultures drive business performance. Specifically, two key elements of culture – innovation and responsiveness – have a direct impact on your company’s sales success.

Examine your potential marketplace with a focus on socio-culture – demographic trends and tastes, economic trends from interest rates to inflation.

Operations

Evaluate your productivity, quality controls, facilities, supply chain, technology, information systems, and management strengths and weaknesses.

Financial performance

Keep an eye on profitability. Make sure you avoid pricing mistakes. Forecast your revenue growth. Assess your asset utilization, debt-leverage position, liquidity and equity position.

Competition

Compare the missions, strategies, and competitive advantages of the competitors. 

Following your analysis, there are six steps to take:

1. Using your analysis, develop a big-picture strategic action plan.

2. Make sure you have a comprehensive human resources program that encourages collaboration among teams. That means maximum delegation, empowerment, training and succession planning.

3. Encourage blue sky planning sessions.

4. Continually evolve. Leverage the insights of your devil advocates with an eye on your company’s potential. Ask the right open-ended questions for optimal creativity.

5. Practice the “Principle of Contrary Action.” To learn how to keep an open mind, keep a mental note of all your activities but use a different approach each time. For example, even when driving to the neighborhood store, take a different route to-and-from each trip and alter your shopping habits inside the store. Dare to be bold. Consider all alternatives.

6. Keep chipping away. Don’t give up.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you can avoid the arduous task of changing your culture in order to innovate. Follow the above tactics, an you’ll become a Ninja innovator. Good luck!

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks:

Why Innovation Isn’t Working at 82% of Surveyed Companies — When you make a major investment in innovation, you want a good return on your investment, right? Well, hundreds of senior executives admit to disappointment over their innovation efforts despite making increased investments, according to an Accenture report.

Developing Trends, and Solutions for Manufacturing Success — U.S. manufacturers are getting a reminder about how to be successful – it’s important to evaluate whether they have the human capital, processes, equipment and strategic plans for success. That’s the result of a 32-page study released in 2011 by the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP).

Study: Why Lean Manufacturing Principles Often Don’t WorkMany businesses love cutting waste and costs for profits by using lean manufacturing principles, but many global manufacturers have failed. The companies used the popular Six Sigma, Kaizen and Value Stream Mapping. All of this was reported in a 2011 study by the consulting firm, AlixPartners in New York. 

Home-Grown Succession Planning Helps Financial Performance — Companies that promote their chief executives from inside vis-à-vis recruiting from the outside have a much higher financial-success rate. In other words, successful companies identify and nurture their intellectual capital. It’s not just my experience. It’s been confirmed by a global human resources study.

11 Management Strategies for a Successful Turnaround — When it comes to management strategies for a successful turnaround, a quote by financial-world wizard Warren Buffett is apropos.  “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing,” Mr. Buffett said. My response: “Touché.” It’s all about capital mobility created by effective management.

“When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people.”

-Chinese proverb


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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 adamr at www.freedigitalphotos.net

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