From my Emails:
Yes, we have been changing our habits. Take a look (Click on the charts to make them BIGGER):
Recession Concerns Cause 64% of US Adults to Cut Back Household Shopping
Nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed in April 2008 say their households have cut back on spending in the last 12 months, according to the MarketTools May/June 2008 Insight Report on American Spending.
The nationwide survey of 1,000 US adults also reveals that cutbacks are not limited to those with lower incomes. Among affluent consumers with household incomes of $75,000 or more, 54% indicate they too have cut back spending.
Among categories of spending, dining out and entertainment have suffered the most cutbacks and are often the first to go when overall household spending is reduced.
- 66% of all respondents say they have cut back on dining out in the past 12 months. Among affluent respondents with incomes of more than $75,000, 57% say they have reduced expenditures on dining out.
- 61% have cut back on entertainment.
- 57% have cut back on clothing and accessories.
- 54% have cut spending on travel and vacations.
- 48% have reduced spending on gifts.
- 41% have reduced spending on technology products.
Despite economic pressures, consumers have actually increased their spending in certain categories in the past year: 24% of respondents indicate that they have increased spending on groceries and 16% have increased spending on prescription medications. However, research suggests these increases are the result of increases in national food and drug prices rather than increased consumption.
Americans have also changed their grocery shopping behavior in the last year, the research found. Top changes include a greater reliance on “store brands” instead of “name brands” (51%) and use of coupons more often than in the past (46%).
Additional behavioral changes in grocery shopping:
- 44% of all respondents say they are shopping less frequently or stocking up.
- 42% have switched to less expensive brands.
- 39% are shopping closer to home to save on gasoline.
- 35% are cooking more from scratch.
- 33% are buying more at discount outlets.
- 32% are buying more food to be used as leftovers.
- Just 15% say they are shopping more at club stores, but 30% of more affluent consumers say they have been shopping more at club stores in the past year.
About the research: MarketTools Insight Reports regularly report findings on topical, national issues. May/June report data is based on an April 2008 survey of 1,000 online respondents drawn from ZoomPanel. Insight Report respondents are a nationally representative sampling of the US adult population, age 18+.
Reviving Prospects who Disappear into “The Black Hole”
By Jill Konrath
Have you ever had hot prospects who suddenly stopped returning your call? Then you know how disconcerting it can be – especially when they’d expressed so much interest in your product or service only days before.
At first, you assume their lack of responsiveness is an isolated situation that will quickly self-correct. But after repeated failed attempts to connect, you start to question your own sanity.
You could have sworn they were interested, but their current behavior indicates otherwise. And, not wanting to appear too desperate or to come across as a real pest, you’re stymied in terms of what your next steps should be.
Why They Disappeared
As a seller, it’s always important to analyze what may be causing this behavior before taking action. In my experience, these are the typical reasons why prospects disappear into “The Black Hole.” Jill Konrath
- They’re totally swamped. Without a doubt, this is the most common. In virtually ever company today, people have way too much to do and not nearly enough time to get it all done. They fully intend to continue the conversation, but not right now.
- Priorities changed. This can happen overnight. Changing market conditions, bad 3rd quarter results, and new leadership are just a few of the possible root causes. But when this happens, it’s darn near impossible to regain your momentum in the short term.
- Lack of urgency. Sometimes sellers confuse a prospect’s interest level with a desire to take action today. As such, they share all the glorious details about their offering instead of building a business case for immediate change.
- Column fodder. Occasionally prospects just need comparative bids/pricing to justify their decision to go with another company.
- They know everything. When prospects feel they have all the information they need, there’s literally no reason to talk with you any further.
Different reasons call for different actions. Some you can prevent by doing things differently in your customer interactions. Always be open to this possibility since prevention is your best cure. Others you have no control over. In any case, you need answers! Is it “yeah” or “nay”? Are they still interested or not? Should you keep pursing them or find new prospects?
What You Can Do
When you don’t know what’s behind their silence, figuring out how to respond can be a dilemma – especially since you don’t want to be a pest. Here are some strategies you can use in dealing with “The Black Hole:”
- Just keep trying. Realize that prospects expect you to carry the “keep in touch” burden – so do it. It can often take 8-10 contacts before you actually reach them again. Don’t panic. This is normal in today’s business environment.
- Make each connection valuable. Don’t just say, “Hi Eric. Just getting back to you as I promised about your xxx decision. If you have any questions, give me a call.
Instead, you might say, “Eric, Based on our conversation last week, I know how important it is to you to shorten your sales cycle. There’s a white paper on our website that addresses this issue. I’ll be sending you a link via email shortly.”
- Have a sense of humor. After 4-5 contacts, leave a funny message such as, “Eric. I know you’re swamped. But I also know that shortening your sales cycle is important to you. That’s why I keep bugging you. I’m looking forward to FINALLY reconnecting.”
- Leverage a variety of mediums. Mix up phone calls with emails, mailings, invitations to upcoming events, sending articles, etc. To position yourself as a resource, makes sure each connection educates, informs or adds insights.
- Create multiple entry points. Never let one person be your total gateway to a company. Identify and nurture multiple relationships concurrently. When appropriate, reference others you’re talking to in your messages/emails.
- Re-evaluate your initial connection . How could you increase their urgency? Determine if you’re just column fodder? Or, tie your offering more into their business priorities? In way too many cases, sellers have done a product/service dump when talking to prospects. Instead you need to on critical business outcomes and the difference you can make.
- Plan your next step now. Never leave a meeting without a homework assignment (for you and/customer) and a firm follow-up appointment scheduled. If they’re unwilling to do this, it’s an indicator that something may not be quite right – which should prompt you to explore their need and urgency in greater depth.
- Let them off the hook. Send an email stating that you thought they were interested, but perhaps you misjudged the situation since you haven’t heard back from them in the last 6 weeks. Believe it or not, this strategy often gets a response & an explanation from a prospect who is feeling guilty about not reconnecting.
- Reduce your contact frequency. If, after ten touches, you still haven’t heard, start contacting them less often. A quarterly schedule might be more appropriate. Or, you might want to keep on top of what’s happening in the account and reconnect at a more appropriate time.
By leveraging one or more of these strategies, you’ll often be able to re-engage a prospect who has disappeared into “The Black Hole.” Not always, but often. And, if you’ve continually provided value and focused on the impact your offering makes, they’ll likely be ready to implement your solution yesterday.
Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers crack into corporate accounts, shorten sales cycles and win big contracts. She is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. For more article like this, visit http://www.SellingtoBigCompanies.com . Get a free Sales Call Planning Guide ($19.95 value) when you sign up for the Selling to Big Companies e-newsletter.
We are half way through 2008. This is a short work week for most of us in the U.S.A. And everyday is a good day to learn from Small Fuel:
Discovering Your Perfect Brand
Creating an attractive corporate brand for your business is one of the most important marketing elements to help gain customers. A bland brand means no sales, and the wrong brand can make you lose sales.
With a great brand that fits your business image perfectly, your business can soar.
But what is a good brand? Is it a nice business card? Is it the level of quality you offer? Is it just a catchy name?
It’s all that and more. It’s everything from the logo on your business card (you do have a business card, right?) to the design of your website to the values your business conveys. Brand is the perceived value and quality of your business.
When you’ve branded well, you’ve created a remarkable and distinct business image. It’s memorable. It’s easy to recognize. People know exactly what they get if they buy from you – before they even decide to purchase.
Your brand should capture:
- The emotion people feel when they think of your business
- The feeling they’ll achieve if they buy from you
- The overall impression that your business projects
How to find the right brand for you
Capturing all of these impressions can seem daunting at first, but there are few tricks that make finding your brand a little easier. By answering some questions, you can gain direction towards a perfect fit:
- What feeling do you want people to have when they think of your business? (E.g. Professional, friendly, authoritative, welcoming, committed, reliable, calm, etc)
- Fill in the blank: A consumer thinking of your business should say, “Wow, these guys seem really….” (E.g. Fast, smart, professional, friendly, fun, different, etc)
- What type of personality do you have? (E.g. Fun, quiet, casual, dedicated, curious, whimsical, scientific, etc)
- What values do you want your business to project? (E.g. Equitable, competitive, socially conscious, eco-friendly, etc)
The more you learn about what impressions you want to convey, what your business represents and who you are, the closer you come to building your brand.
A few examples…
Jessie wants to open a computer repair shop. She wants people to feel comfortable with her, not overwhelmed by technology. She believes in helping other people and keeping prices low for families on budgets. Jessie is a very friendly person, and she likes having fun on the job. Her friends think she has lots of pizzaz too. Jessie wants to convey that high energy and fun-loving attitude to customers.
Jessie’s brand is: Energized, helpful, friendly, and fun.
Here’s another example:
Martha wants to open a small restaurant in a small town. She’s a kind, warm, caring woman, and she’s always mothering people. She wants to provide nutritious meals with a home-cooked taste and a heartwarming comfort-food feeling. She decided to call her restaurant “Gramma’s Goodness,” and she’d love for people to feel right at home.
Martha’s brand is: Warm, comforting, welcoming and caring.
It’s all about emotion
Notice that much of building a brand has everything to do with emotion and very little to do with actual pricing. A good brand makes people feel something. It resonates with consumers on a deeper level beyond what they want to buy and the price they’re going to pay.
Think about some big-name brands, like Apple, Toyota, or Campbell’s. When you think of one of the large brand-name corporations, what kind of feeling do you get? What do you think they stand for? What emotions do they convey? Every brand tries to represent a certain lifestyle or personality to resonate with targeted consumers.
And it works.
Once you’ve figured out your business identity and image, you can start creating marketing materials like a logo, a business card, and a website… All properly branded so you can achieve maximum success.
SmallFuel Marketing, Inc. 126 E 2nd St, Suite A, Media, PA 19063
Copyright (C) 2008 SmallFuel Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved.
Each day I’m adding another tip from this list from Seth…
By Seth Godin
1. Anticipated, personal and relevant advertising always does better than unsolicited junk.
2. Making promises and keeping them is a great way to build a brand.
3. Your best customers are worth far more than your average customers.
4. Share of wallet is easier, more profitable and ultimately more effective a measure than share of market.
5. Marketing begins before the product is created.
6. Advertising is just a symptom, a tactic. Marketing is about far more than that.
7. Low price is a great way to sell a commodity. That’s not marketing, though, that’s efficiency.
8. Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.
9. Products that are remarkable get talked about.
10. Marketing is the way your people answer the phone, the typesetting on your bills and your returns policy.
11. You can’t fool all the people, not even most of the time. And people, once unfooled, talk about the experience.
12. If you are marketing from a fairly static annual budget, you’re viewing marketing as an expense. Good marketers realize that it is an investment.
13. People don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want.
14. You’re not in charge. And your prospects don’t care about you.
15. What people want is the extra, the emotional bonus they get when they buy something they love.
16. Business to business marketing is just marketing to consumers who happen to have a corporation to pay for what they buy.
17. Traditional ways of interrupting consumers (TV ads, trade show booths, junk mail) are losing their cost-effectiveness. At the same time, new ways of spreading ideas (blogs, permission-based RSS information, consumer fan clubs) are quickly proving how well they work.
18. People all over the world, and of every income level, respond to marketing that promises and delivers basic human wants.
19. Good marketers tell a story.
20. People are selfish, lazy, uninformed and impatient. Start with that and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
21. Marketing that works is marketing that people choose to notice.
22. Effective stories match the worldview of the people you are telling the story to.
23. Choose your customers. Fire the ones that hurt your ability to deliver the right story to the others.
24. A product for everyone rarely reaches much of anyone.
25. Living and breathing an authentic story is the best way to survive in an conversation-rich world.
26. Marketers are responsible for the side effects their products cause.
27. Reminding the consumer of a story they know and trust is a powerful shortcut.
28. Good marketers measure.
29. Marketing is not an emergency. It’s a planned, thoughtful exercise that started a long time ago and doesn’t end until you’re done.
30. One disappointed customer is worth ten delighted ones.
Obviously, knowing what to do is very, very different than actually doing it.
You can’t get the sale unless you persist. But how do you pursue your prospect without coming across like a stalker?
Persistence is a vital skill that every salesperson needs. It’s been said that most sales are made after eight contacts with a prospect. However, most people tend to give up after just three or four attempts. Let’s explore the behind-the-scene dynamics involved in a typical scenario.
Meet Mrs. Executive. Her day is booked solid, scarcely allowing her to catch her breath between each meeting. Some meetings are internal. Others are with clients and customers. A few are with current suppliers or business partners. She has a dozen balls in the air and spends most of her time trying to juggle them all. She has several major goals she wants to accomplish this year but progress is slow because the demands on her time are non-stop. Continue