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5 Things You Absolutely Must Do to Earn More in 2009

5 Things You Absolutely Must Do to Earn More in 2009

December 21, 2008

I always enjoy this time of year ' it's usually filled with hope and excitement for the coming year. But this year is different. Business owners I've been talking with are scared about the new year after a dismal 2007. Even those who did well the last 12 months are wondering whether the next 12 will be worse or better.

The fact is no one knows. So to help you, I've put together the 5 things you absolutely must do no matter what's happening in the economy based on what's working with my clients right now. Put them to work for you and you'll earn more in 2009.

#1 Must Do: Respond to objections before they're even raised

For every product or service, there's a long list of reasons why people aren't willing to buy. And for every reason, there should be an answer. The secret is to overcome those objections before someone even has a chance to voice them. Here are some common objections and how to overcome them.

'It costs too much.' It may actually mean, 'I don't have the cash' ot this may be a nice way of saying, 'I don't believe your product is worth the price.' The problem is that you haven't proven the product's value to the prospect. Can you add additional low-cost resources such as a report, quick-start guide, online support, etc. to add more value? How about a payment plan? Creative payment options are essential right now to help keep you afloat.

'I don't believe it will work as well as your marketing claims.' In this case, you haven't established enough credibility. How can you add more proof? Can you add testimonials with specific results?

'I don't really need it.' This is the kiss of death. You haven't tapped into your prospects' pain points, wants and desires and proven that you can solve their challenge. Every product or service is a solution to a problem. What are the problems that are keeping your prospects up at night? How does your product solve that problem?

#2 Must Do: Increase your marketing to your 'dead' customers

It never ceases to amaze, but I'll be talking to a client about how to increase sales and right away he or she will rattle off new groups of prospects. New prospcts are like a drug. Everybody always wants to focus on them instead of the gold, which is increasing LTV (Life Time Value) of your current customers.

One of your best prospects ' believe it or not ' are those you've already marketed to, but haven't responded yet. Most marketers refer to these prospects as 'dead' customers. They're not dead, they're just sleeping and they need an alarm to wake them up.

As a general rule, most of us give up too early when prospects don't respond the first or second time. I've talked about this before but 81% of all sales don't occur until after the fifth contact.

That's an amazing statistic. Here's where it gets interesting. By the third contact, 90% of most businesses give up. So that means that 10% of businesses are capturing most of the sales.

The key is to have the 'stick-to-it-ness' so you can keep your message in front of your prospects until they respond. I never advocate the 'one-and-done' promotions in which you just send one marketing piece and hope for the best.

Rather, you want to send multi-step marketing campaigns so each piece targets a different pain point or creates curiosity with a different hook that will grab the attention of your hungry fish. Here's one of my favorite B2B multi-step campaigns which can be easily tweaked for B2C campaigns that have increased response rates between 50% and 400%!

Step 1: Send a 'Bank Deposit Bag' with a letter that says, 'Finally, an offer you can put right in the bank.'

Step 2: Send a 'Message in a bottle' with the headline on the letter that says: 'This message in a bottle can map out the hidden profits in your business. Guaranteed ''

Step 3: Send your letter in a small trash can that says, 'Warning: Throwing this final letter away may be harmful to your success. In case you've been throwing my letters in the trash I wanted to do it for you this time!'

A mutli-step campaign such as this one will wake up your 'dead' prospects and give you Top of Mind Positioning. It will help you get on top and stay on top. I gets people's attention like nothing else.

For more multi-step ideas you can use, go to www.LumpyMail.com.

#3 Must Do: Realize that the biggest thing holding you back maybe you!

This is a tough one and may require some deep introspection. Each one of us has built our own mental constructs that are based on our experiences and our interpretations. The result is what we perceive to be reality. We'd like to think that reality is based on just facts, but reality is really a combination of all those things.

Why do I bring this up? Because your perception of reality may indeed be holding you back. Beliefs that once served you well may now be harming you and your business For instance, you may feel that your 'ADD personality' has been a good thing because you've been able to move quickly from one idea to another and keep the business growing. It's helped inspire you to keep pursuing new opportunities and build a successful business.

It's like a magical dragon that can take you from one opportunity to another. But it also leaves destruction in its wake. You may not have any patience for employees who 'don't get it' as quick as you do. Employees and partners can often feel frustrated. Before they can finish one project you're on the next one. Meanwhile, nothing ever seems to get done.

The solution is to harness the magical dragon by focusing your energy on just one thing. For instance, Joan is a friend of mine who always has tons of terrific ideas. I'm always amazed to hear about all the conferences, workshops and bootcamps she was working on ' many times all at once. The problem is that none of them actually did nearly as well as she anticipated. She was spread too thin. She was always excited about launching the next event but she didn't have the bandwith to pay attention to the content development, the marketing and negotiating contracts with hotels. The details bored her. (Sound familiar?)

What did she do? She first had to figure out what she did best (developing new events). Then, she had to limit herself to fully developing one event at a time and commit to training others to help her with the marketing, content development and contract negotiations.

She had to change her mindset from thinking she had to do everything. But before she could figure out what to give up, she first had to determine her core competency ' the one thing that she can do better than anyone else and gives her great joy. This is VERY IMPORTANT. Before you can figure out what to give up, you first have to figure out where you're going to focus your time and energy. (To help determine your core competency, try my new wizard on p. 5)

She also had to set up Freedom Teams and Freedom Systems to support her and compensate for her weaknesses so she could concentrate on her strengths.

# 4 Always give your customers a 'next step' to take with you

Amazon.com does a great job of asking this question. Anytime you click on a book to purchase, for example, the site recommends three or four other titles that are related to the one you selected. And if a 16-year-old at McDonald's can do it ('Would you like two hot apple pies for just $1 more?'), we can certainly do it too.

I call it 'next-stepping'. The truth is, few companies do it well because most are more concerned about getting new customers ' not increasing sales among their existing customers. Next stepping means that you'll never get off of the phone or finish a conversation or even make a sale without moving that customer into the next step.

Whenever you get off a call either send an email or a letter or set a time for the next contact on the spot. It you wait, you'll lose them.

It requires you to think ahead. If they say 'no', what then? If they say 'yes', what then? If they just say 'maybe', what then? For instance, if they say, 'no' do you have an alternative product or a low-priced product to offer. Are you going to give them free informa'tion? A free demo? A free trial? A face to face meeting? Will you offer a free teleseminar?

I used this concept with the CIT Group, a financial planning firm, for a campaign that generated a 93% response rate and brought in more than $60 million.

The CIT group wanted their hungry fish (CFOs and CEOs) to take out commercial loans. Listen to how they next stepped using irresistible bait. First, the CIT group sent executives a glass case with the names of 3 baseball Hall of Famers: Willie Mays, Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle but they included only one certified, autographed ball from Willie Mays. The other two spaces were empty. Now you might scream, 'Wait a minute, they are giving away hundreds of dollars without a person even saying yes!' But they created an empty hole that was begging to be filled.

Who wants two empty holders sitting where two autographed baseballs could be? The nature of man is to strive towards completion! And by calling for an appointment, they could complete it ' almost. Remember, this is next stepping. When prospects called to set up an appointment, they received the next ball. They received the last ball when the rep gave them an estimate for commercial financing. The offer was so irresistible! 'Why not get an estimate? I'll be able to complete my set.' An overwhelming 93% of the people of the prospects said yes to this third and final step and created total sales of over $60 million. What a beautiful job of keeping the message simple and next stepping.

#5 Increase your sales with give-aways

In know what you're thinking, 'How can I increase sales if I'm giving stuff away?' Well, the idea is to create bonuses or premiums ' gifts you can give away with a purchase. Who doesn't want a free gift? Premier Bank, for example, gave away a free clock in their marketing campaign as an incentive when a prospect made an appointment with one of their loan officers. The message: 'Give us a few minutes of your time and we'll give you a few minutes of ours by offering this free gift.' Result: 400% increase in response. I've seen clients double their response rates giving away free services such as $500 worth of groceries.

The Grocery Gift Card is enticing to people because everybody goes to the grocery store and who wouldn't want $500 worth of free groceries? But here's the catch. You only give the $500 grocery slip to EVERYONE you mail to. (It's not 'live' but looks like it is. They can't redeem it until they call you so it costs nothing.) But, you only give the actual 'live' grocery gift coupon card to the people who call you and take a step with you.

So you don't need many actual 'Live' cards. Similar offers can be created with free offers for gas or even vacations. Each of these rebate programs has a very high perceived value. The perceived value of a vacation could be as high as $1,000. Not everybody uses the rebates ' and the rebate fulfill'ment centers count on this ' so you can get them for as little as $8 to $15.