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Free Articles

by John Payne

 

John Payne- free Marketing articles by the founder of Web Marketing EzineI hope you enjoy the following articles. They may all be reproduced in your print or electronic publications FREE OF CHARGE.

 

All I ask is that you retain the 'resource box' at the bottom of each article. If you'd like to advise me before or after publication, I would be interested in hearing from you!

DON'T Give Your Customers What They Want!
by John Payne AAMI

One of the mantras we hear repeatedly in business is "The customer is always right." I'm here to tell you that if you want to build a thriving business you need to forget that saying, and take note of Payne's Law #1 "The customer is always right- some of the time." I'll explain why in a minute.

The worst kind of businessperson is the one who cynically tries to force the customer to choose the thing that he has to sell, whether it is best for the customer or not. The old 'hard-sell'. Most of can agree- that is not a good way to do business.

Find Out What They NEED

To my mind, there is another, more common failing amongst businesspeople, and that is the lack of desire to do what is best for the customer. Believe me, the customer doesn't always know what they NEED. They might know what they WANT, but THAT may not be the best answer. It may even be answering the wrong question. Please don't assume that the customer is a lifetime expert in your field, has done a lot of research, or has engaged a firm of consultants to recommend what he is asking for. He probably saw it on TV, or got great advice from his buddy down at the bowling alley.

Let's take an extreme, medical situation. The patient visits his physician, and says "I've got a shocking headache. Prescribe that new painkiller, Fantast-something for me." The physician says "Sure", and sends him of to the drugstore for some Fantastifen. Yes, the physician's given his patient what he WANTS, but it may not be what he NEEDS. Some discussion and some intelligent questioning might have discovered that the real problem is a need for spectacles, or a malignant brain tumor! The physician only does the best for his patient when he tries to discover the real NEED, and advises (and explains) the appropriate course of action. In fact, if he doesn't do that, he is being professionally negligent!

If you want to build a successful, long-term business, you need customer satisfaction, repeat customers and referral business. Will you get those if you give the customer what he WANTS, but it then fails to do the job he requires, and wastes his money? I think not. Where you have the option, I suggest you take your dealings with your customers an extra step.

Let Them Know They're Valued

Let them know that having them as happy customers of your business is very important to you. That you would like to take some time to understand their needs a little better. That you like to make sure you give them the most appropriate, best-value answer to their needs. It normally doesn't take much time to gain an understanding of the customers needs, and to work out what the best solutions are. You can then 'play back' to them what you understand about their requirements, and recommend the appropriate solutions. With an explanation. "Product X is $20 cheaper now, but the refills cost twice as much. At your rate of use it will cost you more inside 12 months" "If you're planning on vacationing in the tropics, a pure cotton would be cooler than a heavyweight mixture" "That bike will last 20 years, but your son will be too big for it in a year, why not look at the next size?"

If you really care about your customer, it will show. If you really give good advice, most often it will be appreciated. Appreciative customers are happy customers. Happy customers are repeat customers. And happy customers refer other people to you.

Do yourself a favor. DON'T give the customers what they WANT. If you truly want to be a true professional, help them discover what they NEED.

John Payne, a lifetime Marketer, is "The Human Face of Web Marketing". Each week his Web Marketing Ezine shows over 4000 readers in more than 56 countries how to succeed, with a uniquely human emphasis on the business of Web Marketing. To get your free subscription visit Web Marketing Ezine NOW! 

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The 80:20 Rule- Your Formula For Success
by John Payne AAMI

A 'dirt-world' retail business I used to manage had a large turnover, a very high profit, and less than 100 lines. Early in 2001, I was contracted to manage another business. This one carried over 800 different lines, yet had a turnover of only about a sixth of the other business, and a lower profit margin. They both had a comparable amount of traffic and credibility in the market, so how can it be that the results were so different?

The explanation starts with Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist and political sociologist who lived from 1848 to 1923. He devised the law of the 'trivial many and the critical few', better known as Pareto's Law, or the 80:20 rule. This rule says that, in many business activities, 80% of the potential value can be achieved from just 20% of the effort, and that one can spend the remaining 80% of effort for relatively little return.

Old Vilfredo might have lived a century ago, but he was spot on. I've been in business a long time, and I can confirm the almost universal truth of the 80:20 rule, in many forms.

- When Sales Manager of a Realty office, I had 19 sales staff working to me. About 85% of the business was written by the four top staff.

- In a Consumer Electrical business I owned, around 75% of the turnover came from the the best-selling 20% of the stock.

- In an eco-tourism business I  managed, there were almost 40 Departments of stock. One department alone produced over 25% of the profit; the next five departments produced the next quarter of profit; the next seven another quarter, and the last twenty-five or so together only produced the last quarter of profit.

The 80:20 Rule applies in almost every sphere. It's uncanny. In almost any field, 20% of the resources produce 80% of the result. It's vital to understand that the reverse is also true- things that take up 80% of your time and resources, will only produce 20% of your results.

Stocks, products, services, insurance, litigation, people- the 80:20 Rule keeps coming up! Look for it and you'll find it.

The universality of this principle should be a powerful guide for you in business. Find out how it applies to your enterprise, and you have the power to set the vital priorities which will mean the difference between failure, survival, and success. Take the time now to look at your business. Look at where the results are coming from, and concentrate on those areas. Look at some of these areas...

- Have a product range? Have a look at how much of your profit comes from each item. Put your effort into the 20% that give you 80% of your sales- your winners.

- Selling products or services? Most likely, 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers- the ones who make the big purchases and are repeat-buyers. Cherish that 20%.

- Have a sales force? Have a look at how much of your profit comes from each person. Make sure you reward and retain the 20% that are your winners. 

- Have an affiliate program? Find the top 5-20% who give you 80% of your income, and make sure you support, encourage and reward your winners.

- Do advertising? Have a look at where the sales come from. Then identify the few ads that really pull, and the few places where you run them that really produce. Then refine your winning ads, and run them in those few places that give you the best results.

- Keep in mind that your marketing and advertising practices, when related to your business, are generally viewed as a business expense in the eyes if the IRS. You know what that means, right? In most cases, you can deduct business expenses from your taxable income. In fact, you can easily find tax calculators and estimators online that can assist you with this. Since marketing can rack up a pretty hefty bill, any savings are completely welcome..

- Check your web traffic logs! Which keywords are bringing you the most traffic? Which search engines? Which websites? You'll find that a small number of keywords, search engines and websites give you the lion's share of your traffic. Nurture them, and build on those strengths!

Run the 80:20 Rule over YOUR business today. It will save you time, effort, money and resources, and take you further down the road to business success. Bon voyage!

John Payne, a lifetime Marketer, is "The Human Face of Web Marketing". Each week his Web Marketing Ezine shows over 4000 readers in more than 56 countries how to succeed, with a uniquely human emphasis on the business of Web Marketing. To get your free subscription visit Web Marketing Ezine NOW! 

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The Technology May Change, But Human Nature Remains The Same
by John Payne AAMI


Let me repeat that..

"The technology may change, but human nature remains the same!"

In this wonderful Internet Age, we are all struggling, and succeeding to different degrees, to keep up with the technology. It's a never-ending battle. Web Technology! When it's good, it's often poorly executed, and when it's bad- it's fatal. 

Frankly, much of the time, the technology gets in the way of the sales and communication process. Unfortunately, it seems that many people responsible for website design understand the technology available and what they want, more than they understand their fellow man- their potential customers, and what THEY want.

Whoever...?

Whoever got the idea to ask for your name and email addresses before you can enter a site? Try that outside the front door of the local McDonalds!

Whoever got the idea for fancy Flash presentations that take 3 minutes of your time to show off how good the graphics designer was? Try telling people that they have to watch a video presentation before they can enter Wal Mart!

Why can't more than half of Web shoppers find the product they want on a site? Would that be acceptable at the local sports store, or in a mail-order catalog?

Why do more than half of Web shoppers abandon their purchase after they've selected goods and placed them in their shopping trolley? Wouldn't that send your local supermarket broke?

What About The Customer?

This is truly a fascinating time to be a Marketer, and to watch what is being done in the name of Marketing. Look at any successful business in the 'dirt world', and you'll find that it is being rewarded for responding to the needs of its customers, and making more than enough profit to pay its bills. Then look at what has passed for popular success on the Web, and you find that it has to do with how exciting the concept is, how many eyeballs it attracts, how innovative the 'business model', or how revolutionary the technology used is. Nary a word about about the customer satisfaction or profit that are necessary in the real world.

I note with pleasure that some wiser heads are now writing about the "New New Economy", and noting that it's looking more like the Old Economy all the time! This trend will help give credit to those businesses that have been truly successful on the Web (and there are plenty of them), and set up a realistic expectation for those that come onto the Web in the future.

The Fundamentals Still Apply

Take away the technology, and to succeed in Web Marketing, you still need to deliver the basic requirements of Marketing;
-A good Product
-At the right Price
-At the right Time
-At the right Place
It also helps mightily, if you have a good rapport with your customer.

I was delighted a while back, to be asked to lead a Clickz Forum. It posed the following question...

"Whether, in a high-tech age when dot-coms are rushing to automate as much as customer contact as possible, there's still an important place for 'high touch'-- old-fashioned one-to-one sales."

MY answer, was a qualified 'Yes', and my belief is that 'one-to-one sales' isn't 'old-fashioned' at all! Have a look at all the 'new-fashioned' sites that tried to sell autos. They were dismal failures. People used them for information, then went right on down to their local dealership to haggle and buy from real people. No matter how good a job the programmers did of automating customer contact, the customers didn't feel confident enough to complete the transaction on the website. Some businesses are so "high-touch", that wise marketers would choose to use a website only as an information, branding and lead- generation tool, with real people following up the leads.

Sure, you're right, the auto example is an extreme case. And, no, you can't afford to have a real-live salesperson selling that $9.99 CD online. I understand. Even in the real world, we have vending machines, so we don't need a human holding our hand in every sales transaction. It varies with the nature of the product.

Understand Your Customer's' Needs!

No matter how much money and technology some Web businesses throw at automating customer contact, they're doomed to failure. You can only successfully automate something you UNDERSTAND. Unfortunately, many of our dotcom whizz-kids have never had to make a living from real customers in the real world, so they just don't 'get it'. What online businesses DO need to do, is to understand what the customers' needs are in the sales process, and fulfil them.

What is really needed, is a caring, thoughtful fulfilling of customers' needs and expectations at every step in their experience with a Web business site. The better all the small steps are performed, the less need there will be for real-time human intervention (and the higher will be the conversion rate). This means;

-a professional, friendly tone to the complete website

-information about who you are- the company, the founder, the staff. Let your customer know that there are real people there

-sensible ads that don't mislead and set up unreal expectations

-relevant descriptions from customer searches of Directories and Search Engines

-quick-loading web pages

-easy-to-understand page layout, with clear information

-easy-to-understand navigation

-a Privacy Policy to allay fears on privacy

-a Returns Policy and strong Guarantee to allay fears of making the wrong choice

-a clear description of your products or services, and clear pricing options

-secure credit card and information handling to further allay fears on privacy

-a friendly, easy-to-use shopping cart

-a sincere Thank You, and information about what will happen next

If all of these things are done, there will be little need for one-on-one selling on MOST sites. You will already have done the job. Through understanding your customer and providing excellent service, NOT by spending more on technology!

Of course, offering some 'one-to-one' contact is a real plus for any business, and necessary for those that are more "high-touch". There are now a number of programs, some even free, that allow a customer to contact a live operator at your site. Check out LiveHelper.com and HumanClick.com Making it easy for your customer to contact your business site by phone, fax and email should be fundamental. 

I read once that the definition of fanaticism was "Redoubling your efforts when you've forgotten your original aim". Solving a lack of customer rapport by throwing more technology at the problem, comes perilously close to the definition.

John Payne, a lifetime Marketer, is "The Human Face of Web Marketing". Each week his Web Marketing Ezine shows over 4000 readers in more than 56 countries how to succeed, with a uniquely human emphasis on the business of Web Marketing. To get your free subscription visit Web Marketing Ezine NOW! 

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