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How Do I Get More Leads in the Top of the Funnel 6

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Joseph Jaffe

Joseph Jaffe is President of jaffe, LLC. His popular blog and audio podcast, “Jaffe Juice”, provides daily and weekly commentary respectively on all things new marketing. His latest book, “Flip the Funnel: How to use existing customers to gain new ones,” presents a powerful hypothesis that retention can become the new acquisition through the strategic incorporation and elevation of customer service, customer experience and customer initiated word-of-mouth, content creation and incentive-based referrals.

How Do I Get More Leads in the Top of the Funnel 6

Want more leads for the top of your funnel? Then perhaps you want to take a step back and think about WHY you needed those leads in the first place. Did you not have enough customers to begin with? Or perhaps you just didn’t convince them to spend enough….keep coming back for more….and tell others about it. Or perhaps you just lost them – through poor customer experience, service or support, or just plain apathy (being forgotten)

Unless you’re a new business without a very short track record, getting new leads is really not your problem at all. Your real problem is churn. Attrition. You lose customers and try and constantly try and replace them with new blood. You are addicted to acquisition as you cast out that wide net, which just happens to be full of holes.
And you’re not alone.

But what would happen if, instead of ending with the sales conversation; the new customer, you began with the customer purchase? What would happen if you focused on the 20% of your customers responsible for 80% of your revenue? What would happen if you rewarded and recognized your lifeblood instead of wooing imperfect strangers or first time buyers with a slew of deals, discounts , special offers and/or coupons?

Would they pay it forward in return?

If Community 1.0 and 2.0 were the buzzwords of the original digital and more recent social media waves, then advocacy is going to be the next wave that crests and breaks on the shores of marketing engagement and innovation. Using existing customers to gain new ones by proving that retention is the new acquisition is a whole new paradigm that goes back to the future in order to demonstrate that word-of-mouth is most influential and credible when it comes from the hearts and minds of actual customers.

This is ultimately how a small, growing or even larger business can grow its revenue, customer and content base from the inside out by adding new leads to the traditional funnel without necessarily having to sacrifice any on the back end.

It’s good business sense. It’s common sense. And it’s a surefire way to add substantial dollars and cents to your top line growth and bottom line profitability.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

4 5 Ways to Make Your Business Easier to Recommend

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

If I were to ask you what the secret was to getting someone to recommend and refer your business, what would you say? Perhaps you might focus on the experience that you provide. Or you might believe that this is a behaviour that you should focus on illiciting from only your best customers. Now what if I told you that the single biggest reason someone chooses whether or not to refer your business has very little to do with their experience with you? That seems counter intuitive. Yet if this were false, then everyone who had a positive experience would share it with someone else. And everyone who had a negative one would do the same.

The point is, people don’t inherently share positive or negative experiences – they need an incentive to do it. The main problem is that anger or frustration IS an incentive. That’s why you hear the often repeated adage that it is much easier to get a customer to post a negative review than it is to post a positive one. Satisfaction, apparently, is not as powerful of a motivator as dissatisfaction. Yet despite this behaviour, there are ways to stack the odds in your favor. You probably already know that online opinions make a difference for your business. So the question you need to ask yourself (especially for Referral Week) is how you can make YOUR business easier for someone to share with a friend, family member or colleague. In other words, you need to be easier to recommend!

Here are 5 tips you should consider to help you achieve that:

Ask at the right moment. There is one moment when your customer is likely to be happiest of all, and that is the moment right after they buy something. The decision has been made, and anticipation is likely to follow. Why not ask them to share their experience with a friend right in that moment? Use a post-purchase survey online or encourage your customer to write a review or even take some extra business cards with them as they walk out of your retail location. The more you can do to get someone to recommend your business right after purchase, the more referrals you can generate.

Create different levels. It is tempting to think of recommendations and referrals in strict terms. Say online review, and your mind probably goes straight to the sort of review you might find on Amazon or TripAdvisor. In reality, there are many different levels of engagement when it comes to online reviews, and handwritten experiences are the most extreme. A much simpler style is what you may have seen on Facebook … the simple thumbs up or thumbs down. Star ratings are another easy method. The lesson is simple … to create more likely situations where people will share their opinion, try to accommodate for different levels of effort and complexity.

Let them save your details. The magnet for your fridge that your real estate agent always gives you is the prime example of this idea. The opposing idea to #1, the philosophy behind letting your customers save your details easily is that you want to be there in the moment when they do get asked by someone to refer a business or service. Aside from fridge magnets, for the growing digital savvy customer, another way you may be able to stand out is to always include important keywords in your email communications (and always send email receipts). Then your customer can search their email account and even if they don’t remember your business name or have your card handy, you’re just a simple email search away.

Have a personality. The basic fact is that people don’t generally remember businesses, they remember other people. For this reason, having a personality is of paramount importance. When you can foster a personal connections with your business, you give them a reason to remember and recommend you to others. This is the power of word of mouth referrals, that we will remember working with someone who we respected and will be more likely to actively recommend that person and their business in any relevant situation.

Admit failure. This last tip will seem like an odd addition to the list. After all, we are generally taught to hide (or at least never admit) our failures for fear that it may make us or our businesses appear vulnerable. The surprising fact is that admitting a mistake can be one of the unintentionally best ways to humanize your business. We all make mistakes, but how you deal with them is the real question. Nothing can endear your business more to a customer than making a mistake an going overboard to correct it (and not making the same mistake again, of course). So the next time you or one of your employees makes a mistake, own up to it and actively fix it. You may find that in the process you converted an unhappy customer into a brand evangelist for life.

Rohit Bhargava is a founding member of the 360 Digital Influence group at Ogilvy and author of the award-winning new marketing book Personality Not Included, an entertaining and useful guide for companies on how to use their personality to stand out. He is also a popular keynote speaker on marketing and business strategy and believes in being approachable

4 OpenForum Moves and Expands

One of the partnerships I’m most proud of is my long standing relationship with OPEN from American Express. I’ve said for so long that I believe OPEN is the entrepreneur of credit cards. I’ve been contributing content on the OPENForum content hub since it’s inception and this past week OPEN made a bold move to make the site even better by adding a networking feature that allows business owners to connect.

You’ll still find great content, in fact along with my regular contributions, I’ve been able to secure contributions for the marketing section from well-known experts such as Rohit Bhargava, author of Personality Not Included, Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer for Marketing Profs, Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software, Susan Wilson Solovic, founder of SBTV.com, and Scott Ginsberg of Hello My Name is Scott fame. This line-up of pros will provide you with a one stop information shop to help you build your business.

Just this past week the site featured article on How to Use Social Media to Promote an Event, Pushing Information Out to Your Team, and Driving Your Business with a Higher Purpose.

The video below walks you through some of the highlights of the new site. Please come have look.

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1 How’s Your Personality?

Personality Not IncludedI had a great interview with Rohit Bhargava over at the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. He is a founding member of the 360 Digital Influence team at OgilvyPR, award-winning author of The Influential Marketing Blog and author of Personality Non Included, a book that urges business owners to find and communicate a unique voice or personality – particularly in the age of social media.

I believe job #1 for any business, particularly small businesses, is to find a way to stand out, to be different. Doing so in a meaningful way (meaningful to a market segment that cares) is the secret to long term success, word or mouth buzz and ultimately more profit.

Bhargava calls this standing out a companies’ personality and, much like a person, there are styles and attributes that suit some companies and attract some customers. It’s essential that you figure out your style (he profiles a dozen or so) and wear it well.

One of the easiest ways for a company to exhibit their personality is through stories and we spend a fair amount of time during this episode discussing this topic. (A topic I write about often)

The book comes with lots of extra content and a few hidden personality surprises for those who take the time to dig a bit. I for one know that I was pleased to learn that no chickens were harmed in the writing and publishing of the book.