There is a common trait all business owners have in common.
They want more customers.
More customers = more money.
Many businesses struggle because they are challenged with new customer acquisition.
Businesses spend an astounding amount of money on marketing each year.
It makes sense to spend money on marketing because marketing should pay for itself.
However, marketing can be very expensive.
It takes time, money, and resources to develop the marketing message that resonates with our target customers.
If the marketing works, then the money invested in marketing is worth it.
The money invested in marketing pays for itself, and the business gets new customers.
Sometimes marketing doesn’t work.
I’ve seen this happen in my business.
I’d hear about a marketing method or marketing consultant that helped a business owner that I respected.
I then tried the same marketing method or hired the same marketing consultant.
To my shock and horror, the marketing didn’t work for me.
This became a marketing money pit.
The money went into the marketing money pit and never returned.
It’s as if someone installed a giant money vacuum cleaner at the bottom of the marketing money pit to gobble up my hard-earned cash.
What I’ve come to realize is just because a marketing method or marketing consultant works for someone else, it may or may not work for me.
Marketing is a nuanced art and science that takes trial and error to work.
Marketing also takes time.
At its core, I believe marketing is about connecting with people at a human level to gain their trust.
There are two words in the last sentence that are paramount to having success with marketing.
People and trust are the two most important words in marketing.
Every purchase decision is made by a person.
We are selling our products and services to people.
The sole reason for selling a product or service is to help people.
We should be selling to serve the people we want as customers.
It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that marketing should be people-focused.
Too often, I’ve found myself caught up in making money or getting a sale.
When I take my focus off of serving my customers, my ability to sell properly to my customers diminishes, and ultimately, my customer is harmed because I’m not approaching them with a servant’s heart.
Trust is critical to business.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my twenty years in business is the value of trust in my business relationships.
People will not buy from you if they don’t trust you.
Think about this for a moment.
What does money represent for most people?
Everyone has a limited supply of money.
Most people work for money.
Every day, people hop into their cars to go to a job to trade their hours for dollars.
For most people, a third of their time is spent earning money.
Another third of their time is spent resting or sleeping from their work.
More than half of our day is indirectly related to the time we spend at work.
Most of our life is devoted to working.
We exchange time, our most precious resource, for money.
Our time is our life.
As Benjamin Franklin so eloquently stated.
“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
For most people, their money is what they’ve received for their life’s work.
Money is a person’s life.
We need to recognize and honor a person’s money.
When people give us money for our products and services, they are giving us their life.
We have a duty to honor that person’s life and give them something worth more than the money they give us.
The marketing that has worked the best for me focused on building trust with people.
Building trust with people is a process that takes people through three stages.
- Stage One – Know
- State Two – Like
- Stage Three – Trust
The trust-building process is sequential.
People must know you before they like you.
People must like you before they will trust you.
Expecting people to trust you the first time they meet you is a fool’s errand.
Gaining people’s trust takes time.
It doesn’t have to take much time, but it will take time.
I started my accounting business in July 2008.
I had no idea when I started my business that the U.S. economy was tanking.
I was literally at the front end of the Great Recession.
It was a scary time, which I hope never to have to live through again.
I remember someone telling me back then that the best time to start a business was during a recession.
That statement seemed counterintuitive.
Why in the world would it be a good idea to start a business in a bad economy?
I’ve come to agree with the person who gave me this advice.
If a person can get a business working in the worst of times, then they have a business that will work all the time.
As I’ve had ups and downs in my business, I always remind myself that I can weather the downs because times will never be as bad as when I first started my business.
That reminder of the early days has been a source of strength that has lifted me up and encouraged me to press on despite my fears.
Now that I’ve shared with you why I believe trust and people are the most important aspects of marketing, I’m going to share with you Five-Step Marketing Plan to Get You Customers Now.
Here are the steps:
Step 1: Create a Positioning Sentence
Step 2: Make a list
Step 3: Contact People
Step 4: Meet People
Step 5: Follow Up
Step 1 Create a Positioning Sentence
The positioning statement focuses your efforts.
With your Positioning Sentence, you will gain direction on the people to whom you will be marketing.
You will be using your Positioning Sentence to build trust with the right people.
Grab a piece of paper or create a document on your computer.
In one sentence, write who you help and how you help them.
Here’s my Positioning Sentence.
I help Realtors transition from salespeople to business owners.
Make the Positioning Sentence as simple as possible.
Who and How are the most important things to identify as you write your Positioning Sentence.
Once you have your sentence, write it at the top of your paper or document.
Step 2 Make A List
Now create a list of numbers from one to one hundred.
This list will be your list of people to contact.
Take a moment and read your Positioning Sentence.
Now think about who you know.
As you think about people you know, names will come to your mind.
When you are creating this list the best place to start is with people that already know you.
Write these names down on your list.
Continue rereading your Positioning Sentence until you have ten names on your list.
Next to each person’s name, write down their email address and phone number.
Each month your goal should be to add ten people to your list.
Once you have ten names on your list, you are ready to move on to Step 3.
Step 3: Contact People
Your goal for the next month is to meet with eight to ten people.
Before you can meet these people, you will have to contact them.
I recommend that you call people first because it gives you a chance to connect at a human level.
Too often, in this digital world, we are bombarded with robotic digital communication.
When we connect at a human level, we increase our effectiveness at building trust with people.
If the person doesn’t answer the phone, leave them a voicemail.
Then send them a quick email letting the person know you left them a voicemail.
Continue contacting people until you have set up your times to meet.
When you talk with people, keep it informal.
Let the person know that you want to get together to catch up and hear about them and share what’s new with you.
Your goal should be to meet with two people each week.
Step 4: Meet With People
I’m a big fan of meeting with people over coffee or lunch. I’ve even had these meetings over breakfast.
Whenever I invite people to coffee or lunch, I always take the initiative to pay for the coffee or lunch.
You can choose to follow my lead, or you can split the bill and each person pays for their coffee or lunch.
When I meet with people over coffee, I plan on it being a 30-minute meeting, but often we both get caught up in talking, so it ends up being an hour.
If I had to choose between lunch or coffee, my preference would be to connect over coffee.
Coffee tends to be a shorter time and smaller money commitment for both people.
Consequently, the chance of booking the appointment goes up.
When I meet with the person, my entire focus is to listen to and learn from the person.
People love to talk about themselves.
When you give people the chance to talk about themselves, they will like you more, and you are closer to the trust stage.
When I talk with people, I share with them my Positioning Sentence.
After I share my Positioning Sentence, this typically leads to a short conversation.
I then explain that I’m looking to meet people to grow my business and ask who they know that would be a good person to meet.
Sometimes I’m given a name, and sometimes I am not given a name.
I don’t care if I get a name from this person because that person already gave me something precious – his/her time.
Step 5: Follow Up
After the meeting, I send a handwritten thank you note through snail mail to that person.
The best practice is to mail the handwritten thank you note the same day.
If I don’t mail the thank you note out the same day, I probably will not send the thank you note.
Handwritten thank you notes are one of the most impactful things you can do to build trust with people.
Think about how many handwritten thank you notes you have received in the last twelve months.
Now think about how many emails you’ve received over the last twelve months.
Chances are you can count on one hand how many handwritten thank you notes you’ve received.
Now think about how it felt when you received a handwritten thank you notes.
Which method of communication was more impactful to you?
The handwritten thank you note or email?
Once you’ve sent the handwritten thank you note, it’s time to plan on following up with this person.
I recommend you reconnect with this person once a month.
There are many ways you can reconnect.
You can email the person. You can call the person. You can send them something by snail mail.
The most important thing to remember is you want to connect at a human level.
Connect at a human level monthly, and you will build trust with that person.
Here is the magic that occurs over time with consistent human contact.
The trust that you build with this person will be transferred to your target customer.
You will start to have people that contact you because you can serve them in a meaningful way.
Marketing is about building trust with people.
Building trust takes people through a simple three-stage process.
First, you get people to know you.
Second, you get people to like you.
Then you get to where the magic happens. People trust you.
When people trust you, you can serve them in a meaningful way.