Did you know that people hold onto t-shirts for an average of five years? I heard this statistic and was frankly a little skeptical until I took a look in my own t-shirt drawer. My absolute favorite t-shirt is bright orange with the logo of the leadership camp where I purchased it from. It’s going on four years old and I have no intention of giving it up anytime soon! Our CEO confessed to her favorite tee being seventeen years old! Looking around outside, you see people who pull on their favorites to run errands or meet friends on a relaxed day off. How many times have you been cleaning out your closet, but refuse to get rid of an old faithful because you’ve developed an almost sentimental attachment to its easy charm?
How can you use our culture’s love of t-shirts to your company’s advantage?
Large Events: Are you going to be helping out at a large event soon, such as a charity walk, sporting event or festival? Pairing your shirts with a big event would provide an easy way for potential clients to associate your brand with nostalgia of the good time they had at a music festival or the sense of accomplishment after finishing a particularly difficult marathon. T-shirts often give the best deal when bought in bulk, some priced lower than five dollars for a quality shirt, so you can get your brand out to a large number of potential new clients for little sting to your marketing budget.
Sponsorships: Instead of selling your own t-shirts at an event, you could offer to cover the cost of the t-shirts for the people hosting the event. In return, you could ask to place your company logo on the back.This would be another easy way to help prospective clients associate your brand with the memories they made.
Client Gifts and Giveaways: People love feeling appreciated! When clients receive gifts, no matter how simple they may be, it creates a more personal relationship and clients are often more than happy to show their support for a company that cares about them.
A comfortable t-shirt can go a long way! By giving, selling, or sponsoring t-shirts, you are essentially creating a walking advertisement for your company for the next five years, for as low as five dollars! What about you? Look in your own closets! Is there a t-shirt you own and continue to wear despite its advancing age? Whose logo is on it?
I was wrapping up some shopping at Burlington Coat Factory the other day, and was next in line at the checkout. If you’ve been to any of these stores with the corral checkout, you may remember that the registers all have numbers, and when a checker is free, they would call you over. I was standing directly in front of Checkout #4 and she became available. She looked right at me and hit a switch on her machine that prompted a recording “Checkout #4 is available” and the light at the top of the pole started blinking. No smile, no recognition that I might be HER next customer, no “Hello, I can help you here”…..NOTHING!!!
Now, I know that many of you have experienced this. I am not sure what is worse, the scenario above, or the one where the checker looks you right in the eye and says: “I can help the next person in line.” I find it both infuriating and sad. I want to call the manager over and point out how impersonal and rude this can be, but in my experience, the managers are just as impersonal and rude.
So what has become of personal relationships in retail? This store might as well install self-checkout kiosks – at least those have a friendly robo-voice to say “hello” , “thank you for your purchase” and “good-bye”…! Then, I could create my own frustration in trying to check out, instead of someone else getting my blood boiling.
Are interpersonal skills something not covered in interviews or training? If Undercover Printer treated our print customers like this, we wouldn’t have any. If my employees ever acted this way to a client, they wouldn’t have a job! So, to my question: is friendly, personable help that hard to find, or are we now moving into such an automated society that common courtesy and interpersonal skills just don’t matter?
Undercover Printer is out networking in the business community — a lot! We see all types of companies getting the word out and building relationships. We also see a lot of businesses making one huge mistake – they are seriously damaging their first impressions by handing out common, boring, flat business cards.
Did you know that the business card is the #1 marketing piece that people hang onto? It is small, fits into a wallet or suit pocket, and carries all of the necessary contact information a person needs. It is the one piece that never goes out of style – and will continue to be used when all the other electronic media completely takes over.Undercover Printer sells more business cards than we do any other marketing piece. We print all sorts of cards, including the aforementioned high demand common boring cards – the cards that are so affordable everybody thinks they are getting a huge deal – but is it a great deal is it if your card gets tossed after cocktails?
A business card is like the front of your store in the networking world. If created properly, it tells people who you are, what you do, and what kind of company you are. Take a look through the stack of cards I am sure you have somewhere on your desk. Which ones stand out? Which are memorable?
There are a ton of options out there for affordable, creative, stand-out cards. Of course, we offer these options to our clients, but whomever you use for design and printing – if your cards are not a showpiece, isn’t it time to invest some of your marketing dollars into the front of your “store”.
There is nothing like the power of a good connection. Just by mentioning garanimals in last month’s post, we were contacted by the company via Twitter (@garanimals). And what a cool company they are. We may never do direct business with them..but, then again, we just might!
It is astounding the number of ways to connect with your clients and prospects, and to connect them with each other. Building a network and learning how to work those connections is invaluable to the success of your business.
Are You Connecting your Connections?
Helping others connect is truly the key to building a successful network. Hiding in your network may be your client’s dream connection that could change their business. Take a little extra time when meeting with your clients to see how you can help them, and who you may already know that can solve that problem. Everyone is looking to meet someone –and that someone just might be your next door neighbor! Always be on the lookout for connecting others!
Garanimals. Remember these? Without them, I can’t imagine how my mom would have dressed me – or how I would have dressed myself. It was so easy to coordinate outfits – even I as a young child could figure it out. Bottoms and tops are paired by matching the tags: lions with lions, elephants with elephants – simply genius!
If only coordinating your marketing was that simple! Where are the instructions for how to match up the right marketing pieces with your message and your designated target? How do you know what to do first… or next? It helps to get the advice of a marketing strategist to help plan out the strategy and execution of that strategy. But then you actually have to implement the plan – a part where many businesses fall short. Other things get in the way of that email blast that coordinated with the special of the month and consequently the incentive item that follows up the email….phew! I think my head is spinning!
A couple ideas to get it together:
- Coordinate your team’s efforts with the marketing strategy
- Coordinate your marketing to have a consistent, clear message
- Coordinate all aspects of the strategy to drill that message into your prospects memory with 5-7 touches over time
So many businesses are jumping on the networking bandwagon to increase their referral sales. But is your networking really working? Are you meeting the right people to add to you business circle or just finding yourself hanging out at the bar with a few friends? Or both?
Take time to research the events you plan to attend and walk in with a plan for success. At first glance, some events seem like a success due to the flurry of attention you may get as a newbie. But, are the right contacts at this event for you to expand your referral circle? If you don’t leave every event with at least one good contact to follow up with, the event may not be one worth attending again.
When joining an organized referral group such as a lead share or a BNI chapter, do your homework and make sure you can afford the time commitment to really make it a success. Also, be sure you get into the best group for your business. Every group has its own culture and mix of members. “Court” several groups to find the one that suits your culture and that has the members you want to build relationships with and can refer business to.
Investment vs. Return. The monetary investment may not be that much, but the time commitment can be very expensive. Every three to six months, run a revenue report and check off every sale you received as a result of the various networking activities. This is a great tool when deciding which events to continue pursuing, and which to ditch!
Most of all, when you are networking, whether at a Smart CEO event, mixer, a speed event, a lead share group, or at the Chamber casino night, ask for the referral that you want (or the person that you want to meet). You can’t be paired with the perfect referral, if people do not know who you are looking for!
How does this happen? We start the year with plans of fabulous marketing, attending events, displaying at trade shows, following up and volunteering on boards & committees. We have great intentions of doing it all and doing it great! Then, a little thing called Time Management steps in and squashes our best laid plans of excellence. I am one of the worst offenders of this. I just keep running out of time!
Can’t wait for February’s extra day this year? Then read on…Some of the most common time crushers I’ve found:
1. Shiny Things: Nothing like ditching your project for something prettier! Whether it is a last minute happy hour with friends or pulling a few weeds from the garden, there is always something more attractive than getting done what we really don’t want to do. Through extensive coaching and practice, I am learning to “eat the frog” and get those painful tasks done first, so I can play without guilt when the occasion arises.
2. Bonfires and S’mores: Nothing gets me off track more than having to put out fires. My dedication to customer service takes precedence over all else and I will drop everything when I hear that something may not be going right with a client’s order. But, once I am off track, then I am off to something sweeter. How easily I forget! I really have no remedy for this, as I cannot say no to a tasty chocolate treat – I just try to get back on track when the last marshmallow is eaten.
3. Staffus Interuptus: Pretty self explanatory and probably the #1 reason I don’t get things done. If your business is in the stage of growing your team and delegating tasks that once were only in your head, your staff is in need of a lot of feedback and direction. Staff training and written policies have helped this a little bit, but I found two things that seem to guarantee my focus: shutting my office door and staying out of the office completely.
Staying on track all comes down having a plan and sticking to it as close as possible. All of the stories I’ve read of successful people have one thing in common – they have a laser focus on their goals that gets them where they want to go. So, avoid the shiny objects and yummy s’mores and ‘focus grasshoppah.’
So you’ve made the effort and gone around to say hello to your clients – now what? How often will you have contact with them? Once a year for a check up on your services? Make sure you leave behind reminders of you and your company so that they don’t forget.
Now, wait just a second before you order up a fresh batch of chip clips or $.50 pens. Are your clients only worth half a dollar to continue doing business with you? Will the items you leave behind make an impression or end up in the receptionist’s drawer with the unwanted? Take the time, and the money, to plan out the ideal leave behind that portrays the value of your product or service and the value of that client or prospect to your organization.
I’ve never heard of an IT company making an impression with a chip clip – think about it. Seek the advice of an expert or a creative thinker if you are having a hard time finding that perfect thing to keep your message sticking around all year. Have fun and be creative! Make the giveaway a part of your brand and something with a perceived value that will not be tossed aside or consumed before it is remembered.
Yes, we are in the electronic age, but nothing compares to face time. Think about it: when is the last time anyone other than the UPS guy and the deli delivery person came to your office? I can’t think of the last time a vendor knocked on my office door to say a quick hello – and we do a lot of business with some of them! Surprising that they wouldn’t want to be sure that my loyalties lie with their company and not another.
Wondering how well your business is performing? Trying to figure out where to improve in 2012 or where to spend your marketing dollars? GO SEE YOUR CLIENTS! They really do want to see you! They can also be a wealth of information on how loyal they are to you and possibly some ways that you can stay ahead of the competition.
As long as your visits aren’t always an attempt at a sale, good old fashioned face to face time is more valuable than any other form of marketing. Take one or two days out of your month and stop in to see the people that help keep the lights on. Oh, and if you want to stop in and see us on your way – we love company – just be sure to bring chocolate.
Ever ponder what happened to the clients that didn’t return from last year, or the year before? Was it the slow economy that kept them from buying from you? Possibly. But my research is showing that most companies lose business because they don’t stay top of mind with their customers.
Turnover in companies is more rapid than ever. The average employee stays only 2-3 years. If that employee was your main contact – what happens to your visibility with that client? Is it imperative that you make connections with several people in each company so that when your key contact transfers or moves on to greener pastures, your revenue does not go with him.
Now, lets talk about your competition. The competition for business is fiercer than ever in many industries. It takes some effort to keep up with the vultures out there just waiting to take care of the business that you’ve worked so hard to acquire. Don’t let them! It doesn’t take much to keep your clients thinking of you and staying dedicated to your company and its offerings.
Stay tuned for our series on Keeping in Touch in 2012. Whether you apply these principles we will reveal or hire Undercover Printer to help, your company’s client retention will be better than ever just by keeping in touch. Happy 2012!