Dear Marketing Superstar,
Monday July 25th, at 11:00am I found myself sitting on the front pew of our home church attending my father’s funeral.
No matter how “tough” or “strong” you think that you are, you’re never ready when a loved one dies. I really didn’t think my dad’s death would hit me the way it did . . . much like a speeding locomotive . . . but it did.
You see, about nine some odd years ago my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s been a long, grueling ride since that time.
It’s not unusual for kids to brag about their “Pop” especially if they had a decent childhood. I’m no exception. My Pop was sharp as a tack and literally could handle any challenge he was presented and fix the problem with cheer.
He grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930s, graduated from high school, served in the US Navy and went to work at the local power company as a lowly grass cutter. He soon moved up through the ranks to become an area superintendent.
To see and interact with him towards the end of his life was gut-wrenching at best. Alzheimer’s Disease robs you of nearly everything. . . your ability to do simple chores like eating, walking, taking a shower and having a simple conversation.
If you have family members or loved ones who have this disease, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
But to be completely fair, I really can’t cry in my beer anymore because he lived a long and productive life. Pop didn’t sit around and talk about doing stuff, he did it. He was an action man. And he enjoyed every second of it while he was able to.
I am lucky to possess a lifetime of treasured memories that helps smooth the pain.
This of course isn’t to say that I don’t miss him dearly. Cuz I do miss him and the life lessons he imparted to me.
One of those lessons is that life can sling some serious curve balls at you. Yes, we all know that life is not always a bed of roses.
Life is about always doing your best and swinging for the fences knocking those curve balls out of the park.
Life is about knowing and understanding not only the black and white but also the gray areas. Life is about living it to the fullest and helping others along the path.
It’s Murphy’s law at its best. And it’s best to plan for contingencies, for setbacks and be ready to roll with the tides. Those were just a few lessons Dad taught me.
This speaks of goals . . . knowing what you want and what you don’t want out of life. After all, you are the sole scriptwriter of your life. This is not to say your goals should be written in stone. Again, think about the gray areas, setbacks and contingencies you are faced with daily.
You do have goals, right? If not, then I suggest you get busy planning your work and working your plan. Get busy NOW. Cuz a lifetime flies by you in a snap of a finger.
Opportunities present themselves at any time . . . oftentimes at odd, unexpected times. So be ready to seize the day.
The idea is to keep working towards your goals and ambitions but with some flexibility knowing that everything will not go as planned.
Life is short. Rather than sitting around wishing, hoping that good things will happen, make ‘em happen. In fact, make great things happen. As a good friend of mine once said to me, “Massey, don’t talk about it, do it!”
That little piece of advice tends to surface when I’m sitting around in limbo. It’s always better to get moving and do something . . . even if it’s wrong.
To put it another way, the late, great Gary Halbert said, “More Answers Will Be Found Through Movement Than Will Ever Be Found Through Meditation.”
I’ve learned tons from Gary. This is great advice to all of us . . . especially entrepreneurs running a business.
Here’s a few little tricks I learned from Gary to help you dive into your marketplace . . . .
Know your customers. Get out there and learn what makes them tick, what they read, where they live, what they like, what they eat, what makes them laugh, and cry.
In other words, get to know your customers as well as you can. Your business success is directly proportional to how well you know and understand what your customers want and communicate that understanding through your marketing.
Look At Your List. A great way to do this is to simply print out your customer list and look at the names. Are they mostly male or female? Are they mostly from a particular ethnic group like Latino, or Italian? Looking at the names do you get the feel they are Jewish or Christian?
Now lay your eyeballs on those addresses . . . what does that suggest? Do your customers live in high falutin’, fancy-swanky locations or the dregs? Do they live in single family homes or apartment buildings? Do they live in populated urban areas or out in the country?
Look At Your Mail. Save up a few days’ worth of mail from your customers. This includes “white mail” or other correspondence you get as well. Is your mail typewritten or hand-written? If hand-written, clear, or does it look like chicken scratch suggesting an older person on social security wrote it? How about your orders? Do you receive checks, money orders or what? Are the checks from married or joint accounts or are they single name accounts?
The idea is not to be too analytical. It’s just to get a “first blush” of your customers.
Reading Your Mail and more. Now we’ll start digging a bit more by actually reading your customer mail and talking to customers. So for the next few days set aside time to read and talk to your customers. Yes, this may be scary but you’ll gain a whole new perspective on your customers by doing this.
Don’t pawn off this to your secretary or assistant. YOU do the reading and talking. Ask them why they bought from you or why did they ask for a refund. Found out if this is the first or tenth time they have called your business. Soon you’ll be enlightened and begin to understand your customers and marketplace like no other.
Make Some Phone Calls. Here’s where the rubber meets the road. You’re going to call up your customers and ask them to buy your stuff. Get the names and addresses and phone numbers of your 100 best customers.
Gary suggests sending a personal letter with a dollar bill attached to the top of the first page. You could of course use other “grabbers” to gain the reader’s attention. The point is make sure you want to gain attention and tell them that you have something very important to tell them.
Now, tell them something important!
Tell them about your newest product or service and explain all the reasons why they should buy it. Make your best case and get the sale.
Phone Follow. You’re going to call each and every one of the customers that you sent a letter. Give about three days before you call.
Ask questions to ensure that they got your letter. Ask if they read the letter. Ask about the offer (special sale, best customer offer, etc.) and go for the order.
So there you have it in a nutshell. This is a great way to get the ball rolling and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. You’re going after customers who have bought from you before.
You could also adopt this strategy of sending a lead letter and a follow up call to get new customers as well. So why not give it a try.