What Karaoke Can Teach You About Marketing

woman-singing.gifOK, I admit it – I’m a karaoke junkie. My friends and I go every week. I have a standard set of songs I sing – because I’ve practiced them so often I could sing them in my sleep. I don’t have to worry about going out on a limb – I’ll sound good as long as I stick to what I know.

Last night after singing “Moondance” for about the 98th time the DJ kept me up on stage. “A gentleman has requested Andrea sing ‘Fever’ so we’re gonna keep her up here for one more song.”

What!? I thought, “I haven’t practiced this song. What if I fail? What if I sound terrible in front of this room full of people? No way – I just can’t do this.”

It took some persuading, but I eventually agreed to sing the song. I stood on stage praying that I wouldn’t mess up.

The comfortable feeling I had during the last song apparently decided to go outside and have a cigarette. I held the microphone in my slightly shaking hand when the seductive beat began. I swayed my hips at each pluck of the bass and started to find my grove.

Then a miracle happened (ok, maybe not a miracle – but something pretty cool). I started singing and I was good – damn good. So good I got a standing ovation.

Strutting back to my seat I reflected on what had just happened. Because I had something that worked, there was little incentive for me to go outside of my comfort zone. But because I didn’t take the risk, I missed out on an even better opportunity.

Marketing strategies can fall into the same routine. Year after year companies stick with “what works” because they fear the unknown.

Trying something new is risky. There’s a chance you’ll fail – but there’s also the chance that you’ll have overwhelming success. And if you’re missing out on a standing ovation – doesn’t that make staying comfortable the really risky choice?

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Everything I learned about sales I learned from working in a restaurant

waitress-cartoon.gifThanks to Jeffery who reminded me that everything I learned about sales I learned from working in a restaurant.

In order to put myself through college (and I can proudly say I graduated without taking out a dime in student loans) I waited tables and bartended. Here’s just a snippet of the lessons I learned:

  • Engaging in quality conversations with strangers is the key to being remembered.
  • Exceeding expectations is more important than simply meeting them.
  • Your income is directly proportionate to your effort and personality.
  • Upselling is an effective way to increase your bottom line.
  • Getting along with a mix of personalities is an inevitable part of life.
  • Put out fires with they are small – ignoring a bad situation only makes it worse.
  • Anticipate your client’s needs.
  • Thorough product knowledge is key.
  • Prepare for objections and have prepared responses.
  • Be able to think on your feet.
  • Learn to ask for help – your service will suffer if you are stubborn.
  • Be honest – if you lie, the customer will always find out.
  • Underpromise and overdeliver.
  • A smile goes a long way.
  • Learn to let go the things that you can’t control.
  • Consistently do your best – at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
  • You can’t please everyone – but you can at least try to.
  • Treat every client like they are the only one you are working with.
  • Be yourself.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

The Importance of Customer Complaints

glass-of-wine.gifI have a friend who bartends at a local restaurant. Sometimes I like to go and have a glass of wine while he’s working to catch up on life. Last week, while enjoying a nice Shiraz, I overheard the owner of the restaurant complaining to the manager about a customer.

“I can’t believe that woman! She came up and complained about how we use too much butter on the vegetables. It’s a restaurant – of course there’s butter. If she didn’t want so much on there, she should have told her server.”

This got me thinking. It’s easy for us, no matter which industry we serve, to complain about our customers who complain. Instead, I think we should be thanking them.

A customer who complains has the guts and the brand loyalty to tell you exactly what you need to do to meet their expectations. Think of it this way….

That same woman could have easily walked out of the restaurant, not saying a word to the owner. Then, since her expectations were not met, she would have most likely spread negative word of mouth, bashing the restaurant and their butter-happy ways to 10 of her friends.

What if this restaurant adopted the mindset of “complaints are just a form of feedback.” The decision to make a change still rests in the hands of the owner – only now he is equipped with the knowledge of what his customers really want.

Just food for thought.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Too Clever For Your Own Good?

ice-cream.jpgMrs. Mogul posts on the following stores that went out of business in what she thinks is due to their poor naming.

Candle Store – The Almost Edible Candle Gourmet Shop

Ice Cream Store – The Marble Slab

Pet Store – Doggy Style

Your business name is the most critical piece of your branding. How do you know if your clever name will be worthless or a winner?

Try test marketing with these short questions (with strangers for best results).

1. What images does this name make you think of?

2. What feeling does this name give you?

3. If you purchased something from this store, who would it be for?

4. What product/service do you think this company offers?

5. What if I told you this company sold _________? What do you think now?

An effective brand is congruent with the company purpose. If you find the answers to these questions out of whack, revise your name until it’s right. There’s a lot at stake – so it’s worth the investment.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Back to Basics: Marketing Fundamentals

little-black-dress-audrey-hepburn-style.jpgLast week I went on a hunt for the perfect little black dress. It had to be something timeless and classic. A garment that would look great no matter how many trends it went through. To me, fashion fads should be reserved for the accessories.

Like the little black dress, there are certain marketing fundamentals that should stand the test of time. Today, we are experiencing a monumental shift in the marketing world. Consumers are taking control with the use of new technologies and companies are learning to change to the new environment. But this changes the accessories – not the dress.

In my opinion, marketing is and always will be:

  • A process – Marketing is the process of converting leads (people who have no idea who you are) into prospects (people who are aware of your product or service and may consider purchasing from you when the time is right). Effective marketing campaigns view their process as a series of activities executed consistently over time. A steady flow of information from many angles helps ensure brand awareness and top-of-mind customer thinking.
  • Getting the right product or service to the right people – Remember the saying “If you try to be all things to everyone, you’ll be nothing to nobody?” How true. Not everyone will love your product or service and that’s ok – different strokes for different folks. Your goal is to make your product or service the best it can be for your audience.
  • Great communication – OK, here’s where I get a chance to toot my own horn for a bit. You can have the best product or service in the world, but if you can’t explain WHY it’s the best, you may be in for a sales slump. What’s that? You’d like a few tips? Here you go – avoid jargon, keep your words at a 4th grade level or less, less is more, inject personality, alliteration is an awesome alternative, step into your customer’s shoes, speak in benefits instead of features, read lots of stuff that is in the style you’re trying to write…..the list goes on.
  • An exercise in empathy – 99% of effective marketing is understanding what your customer really wants. What motivates them? How to they speak? What keeps them up at night? The more deeply you understand your clients, the higher your chances are your prospects will connect with your brand.
  • A balance of price and quality – Some people shop at Wal-Mart, others at Tiffany’s – and it’s for very different reasons. Do you compete on price – offering a comparable product or service at less than your competition? Or are you a quality provider where customers are willing to pay more because of the enhanced product or experience?

Once you have the dress, then you can snazz it up with the spiffy accessories Web 2.0 has to offer. Although you may get tired of the bracelet – the dress (and your marketing fundamentals) are timeless.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com