Mr. Spock’s Guide to Marketing

Publicity photo of Leonard Nimoy and William S...

Publicity photo of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner as Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk from the television program Star Trek. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spock may seem an odd choice for tips on marketing a b to b business. Business? Marketing? He was in Star Fleet, where people (at least in the original series) rarely seemed to buy anything.

He didn’t lie (though he could exaggerate), and rarely had an emotional reaction.

He didn’t care about anything that was shiny or new unless it was logically better than what he had before.

Twenty-first century b to b businesses and marketers on the other hand, tend to get excited about new products.

We want to share them with everyone. We’ll talk about them at length to our friends, extol their virtues, pay for ads, anything.

But then, maybe there is something that business marketers can learn from Spock.

Let’s look at some of the things Spock said and I’ll show you how following his advice can make you a better marketer and bring in more business.

Clear communication

Nowhere am I so desperately needed as among a shipload of illogical humans

Often, we humans tend to get caught up in our emotions.  We watch a fashion show and fall in love with a pair of boots with 7″ heels and forget you can’t actually walk in them.  Or, we get the idea to make ballet slippers for hamsters (and ignore the fact that hamsters don’t dance much).  It doesn’t matter, we love our idea and we think that others will love it too.

Sadly, the world isn’t interested in ballet slippers for hamsters. And, those runway boots are meant for show, not for sale (the models fall down a lot).

Do what you love, but check first that there’s an audience for it (particularly if you want to make money from it).

Don’t guess the facts, learn them

Insufficient facts always invite danger

When we try to market our products or services, we often guess.  We think the world will beat a path to our door for those hamster slippers. But, we never actually find out in advance.  Which means we can end up with a lot of unsold hamster footwear.

Got a great idea? Before putting out a product, ask if there’s a need for it.  Are people looking to solve a particular problem?  Does your service fix that problem?  What do other people think?  Ask them.  Do a survey.  Run a quick ad campaign on Facebook or AdWords or LinkedIn.

Listen carefully

Isn’t there some inefficiency in asking my advice on matters you’ve already decided?

Once you do that research, or put out that survey, check the answers you got.  Do people really need what you have in mind?  Did they sign up for your course? Or, are they telling you what they think you want to hear (watch out, that way leads to New Coke).

Try to mind meld

My mind to your mind.  My thoughts to your thoughts.

When Spock needed information, he could “mind meld” with someone to get it.  Sadly, most of us aren’t naturally telepathic (darn!).  However, we can try to get inside our customers’ heads in a different way.  We can talk to them. We can monitor Facebook or LinkedIn or forums where they hang out and find out what keeps them up at night.  We can ask for feedback, and look at the most common questions we get.  Then, we can adapt our messages and our products accordingly.

What’s most important to your customers?  You may value price.  Your clients may care more about convenience, or speed, or status.

Test a hypothesis

It would be illogical to assume that all conditions remain stable.

Got something that works?  Test to see if you can improve it.  Maybe a deluxe version.  Or try experimenting with a pay-what-you-like model for your e-course. Does the green “buy now” button convert better than any other color? Or would a blue one lead to more sales?

Maybe you’re naturally Spock-like.  Maybe you’re more like McCoy. Either way, Spock can be a pretty good marketing model after all.

Is Your Social Media Marketing Pulling Its Weight? What’s Your ROI?

Strongmen event: the Truck pull (no rope). UD8...

Strongmen event: the Truck pull (no rope). UD80 truck (Nissan Diesel). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Internet makes social media marketing really easy. You can create a Facebook page or an Instagram account (for free). Blogs are free (or low-cost with your own domain).  So is commenting  on posts, interacting on Google+, or Twitter, or Snapchat.  All free.

The only cost is time. And woo hoo, look ma, I’m marketing!

I realize that everyone may not like this post, but here goes.

Likes are not ROI

Is liking on Facebook really marketing? What about encouraging other people to “like” your page?  Does the time spent there (or on other social networks) get you anything tangible?  Can you tell?

“Likes” or “+1s” are easy.  Your visitors click once, they leave, and then they forget the whole thing ever happened.

I’ve seen large companies spend millions on campaigns along the lines of “hey the new ___ movie just came out, like us on Facebook if you like the movie.”

Really?  Why?

Same thing with a Klout score.  Yes, they add goodies and prizes as you reach different levels of “influence.” But couldn’t you go out and buy yourself most of those things? And the topics Klout claims you know never seem to quite match its members actual areas of expertise.

Measuring real social media marketing ROI

The real measure  of a marketing effort isn’t the number of “likes” it gets.   They’re not a measurement of success.  Likes don’t lead to anything that really matters for a business, particularly a small to medium business.  Large companies can afford to waste their money that way.  You can’t.

If you are going to use Facebook or other social networking sites, use them with a better strategy.

Do something that leads to a direct return on your effort and time.  Run a survey (with a free report on the results to the participants.  Use that information to create new products or services.

Run a series of ads offering a solution to a problem your clients have, with a link to get more information on the product.

How to find your true social media marketing ROI

If you’re running an ad, or posting somewhere, track how many clicks you got.  Then see how much each click cost you.

Of the people who clicked, how many signed up for your newsletter?  Or filled out your survey? Or turned into a lead for further follow up?

Can you follow it through a sales process?  How many of those leads turned into a sale? What was the return you got on the ad money you spent?

Measure, and track, and you’ll know if your efforts are worth their weight in gold (or just lead).


What a Rude Doctor and a Fictional Detective Can Teach You About Getting More Customers

Cover of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by...

Cover of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ve probably heard of Sherlock Holmes. He was Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous fictional creation.  But there’s something you may not know.

Sherlock Holmes may have been based on a real person.  When Conan Doyle was at school, he had a friend named George Budd.

George, like Sherlock, was very intelligent, and not much of a “touchy-feely” people person.  However, he did manage to become a very successful doctor.

And, his methods, were, to say the least, rather unusual.

Behaving badly to get more business

First, he treated his patients rather poorly.  He’d keep them waiting for hours.  Then, when he did see them, he’d frequently yell at them.

Sometimes he pushed them.  Or refused to see them at all.

One more thing.

Visits were free.  This might explain why people put up with his rude behavior, but how could he possibly support himself by being unpleasant and not charging a fee?

The exams were free.  No charge.  But, everyone got a prescription, and the pills and potions were for sale down the hall from his office.

Why did people buy them?  There was no requirement to do so.

The reciprocity principle

It worked because George also knew something about human psychology.  When someone helps us or gives us something, we feel obliged to return the favor.

It’s called the reciprocity principle.  Think about it for a minute.

If someone compliments you on your slick new Iron Man Macbook decal,  you feel almost compelled to tell them you like something they have.  When someone invites you to dinner, you later feel obligated to invite them back to your own home.

Reciprocity is wired into our psyches

It’s part of every society, regardless of where you live. It even happens when it may not seem to make much sense.  Back in 1985, Ethiopia was suffering from starvation, drought, and an economy in terrible condition.  Yet, they donated $5,000 to Mexico to help with earthquake relief.

The reverse would make sense, but why would Ethiopia, a country that could hardly feed its own people, send money to Mexico.  It turns out that Mexico had sent a donation to Ethiopia in 1935, when Ethiopia had been invaded by Italy.  Ethiopia was simply reciprocating and returning the favor.

Free samples boost sales

Giving things away is a good way to make money.   We’ve all gotten free pens, stickers, samples of conditioner and all manner of things sent to us by large corporations, direct marketers, and non-profits.  You get the free address  labels from Charity X, along with a letter asking for a donation. Or, a hair care company sends you a sample of shampoo.

Now that you’ve gotten that “free gift,” you’ll be more likely to make that donation or switch brands of shampoo.  And it works too.

I’m not saying you should give away everything for free.  Or that you should be rude to your customers as Dr. Budd was.  Treat them well (they’ll be more likely to treat you well too).

What Businesses Can Learn From a Movie Cowboy

Curly's Law

Do you know what the secret of life is? One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean sh*t. ~ Curly, City Slickers.

Sometimes, you just stretch yourselves too thin. You want more sales, and more business. So you keep adding services. You may start with SEO.

Then someone asks if you can design a web site, then there’s a request for Facebook page setup. You try to keep it organized and under control.  You ask friends and friends of friends for help.  You scour the web for people to outsource all the new services you’re offering.

Suddenly one day, you look at your web site and see that you’re promising to do SEO, blog post writing and setup, email marketing, website design, Facebook branding and page setup, Twitter setup and posting, lead nurturing, Facebook campaigns, list building, and website analytics.

Confusing the market

That’s a lot of services for a small or medium size business to offer.

The more services you list, and the more features you focus on, the more confused your audience will be. And the more you’ll be scrambling to meet their needs.

It happens even to seasoned businesspeople. You take on too much. You say yes to things because you want more. Or, because you don’t want to disappoint a valued client. Or because cash flow was weak last month.

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to stretch yourself and learn something new. But it can get out of control. Pretty soon, you’re a jack of all trades, and master of none.

Market first, product second

Start with your existing clients. Is there something they’ve have been clamoring for?  Have you gotten way more requests for SEO than for Facebook pages?

If you have a blog, look at the blog posts that have gotten the most attention. Do they have anything in common?  Where there particular topics that got more comments, or more traffic?  Which ones prompted people to email you with questions?

Go through those emails (and emails from your clients and your network too).  See if there are questions that or requests for help that appear over and over?  What are your clients and your readers struggling with?

If your audience isn’t big enough, go check the broader world.  Look at your connections on LInkedIn.  Or check the Q&A there.  It can be a great source of ideas for services.

Monitor Twitter and Google+ too.  Ask your followers and circlers what some of their biggest challenges (in your field) are.

See what problems people have. What are they complaining about?  What frustrates them?  Look for signals that say they have a problem.  Look for patterns and repetition.

Just one thing

Now, you need to do some thinking. Is there just one thing you can offer to fix one of these problems?

If Facebook pages are the problem, offer a service to setup, manage, and promote Facebook pages. Or, offer training for larger companies to help their employees manage a page.  Many companies, particularly older and larger ones struggle with using social media and make mistakes. If you’re fluent in Facebook, you can train them how to avoid social media faux pas.

Marketing for medium size businesses

Executives at smaller and medium size businesses are too busy running their companies and selling their services to properly write, design, and manage their email campaigns.  Or, they send the emails, but fail to track the clicks, opens, and conversions.  How about an email management service to do that for them? If you’re great at digging into analytics and numbers, you could sell them on easy-to-digest email marketing reports that show ROI at a glance.

Quite a few companies have  lost a lot of traffic recently because they were hurt by Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates.  Some have even been de-indexed or gotten warnings from the Google team.

The companies suffering from the latest Google algorithm change would welcome a surefire Google Panda recovery plan to help your clients get re-indexed, and get their traffic back.

Own it

Once you pick  your one thing, own it.  Emphasize it in everything you do: your website, your LinkedIn profile, your Google+ profile, etc.  Become known as the Google recovery maven.  Or the easy email marketing guru. You’ll find it’s much easier to promote yourself (and for others to promote you too).

What about you?  Do you have just one thing? What is it?





The Simple Three Step Marketing Strategy

three steps marketing successA three step marketing strategy?  It may seem crazy, but it isn’t.

Marketing strategies have a bad reputation.  That they’re complicated.  And involve large spreadsheets. And give you a headache.

However, your strategy for finding new clients and differentiating yourself, doesn’t have to look like something that escaped from a physics textbook.

In fact, it can be as simple as a single sentence.

Your marketing strategy only needs three things.  That’s right, you don’t need anything complicated.  Just three simple steps (hat tip to Michael Martine for this).

1. People

First, you’ll need people.  These are your customers.  The particular group of businesses or customers that will want your products and services.  Search for those people (and only those people).

2. Problem

Now that you’ve found your people, you’ll need a problem to solve.  What are those people struggling with?  Not enough time?  Want more sales leads?  What big, hard (for them) problem do they have, that you have the skills and knowledge to fix?

3. Product

Now that you’ve got your audience, and have found their problems, what can  you offer to fix that problem?  Can you show the lead-deprived how to get more?  Help busy CEOs produce blog content without spending 6 hours a day working on it (leaving little time for managing their companies).

No physics necessary!

To get your own, personalized three-step marketing plan, contact me here.
Image via pixabay