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Friday, April 26, 2013

You Have to Be Easy in the Buying Experience

Making it as easy as possible to do business with your company seems like a logical and simple concept, yet many businesses unwittingly create hurdle after hurdle for their customers to jump just for the privilege of doing business with them.

Customers are already overburdened with complexities, rules, and regulations. Companies that deliver with the least hassle win more business than others.

To be sure, there are some necessary steps and processes for each business transaction, but the task for every business should be to do away with as many of the unnecessary ones as possible.

Let's take Apple computers and their packaging as just one example. An Apple product comes in a package that combines elegance, simplicity, and art. When you hold the typical Apple product package, you realize before even opening the box that this is a different kind of product. Everything has a place and reason. Much thought has gone into what is usually an afterthought with most companies.

Steve Jobs was known as an obsessive person. A big reason for his success was his obsession with removing complexity and simplifying. He knew that the company which removed the most confusion actually ended up gaining the most customers. Jobs wanted his products to be so simple and intuitive that they didn't need an owner's manual.

If you want to grow your business and for your clients to actually enjoy the buying process, you must obsessively work to continually remove as many obstacles as possible, while at the same time simplifying how customers buy from you.

Start by regularly asking yourself: "How can we make ordering from us even easier?"

It's a process. You'll know you've arrived when your customers actually have pleasant thoughts and smile when ordering instead of the typical angst most experience. Being the easiest to do business with will bring many long-term rewards.

Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Are You Building Your Business Like a House of Cards?

You know the game.

You start with a deck of playing cards and slowly begin to stack them together, carefully leaning one card against another at just the right angle, until you've created a solid wall of cards. You build the house higher and higher, one card and one row at a time, all the while moving around carefully so the whole thing doesn't come crashing down.

Building and growing a business can sometimes feel like building a house of cards. If you have one or two clients providing the bulk of your revenue, your business can begin to feel as precariously unstable as that playing card wall.

Wal-mart is a giant corporation. Stories abound of how they've made and also broken some of their vendors. But you don't have to be a Wal-mart vendor to find your company in this tricky situation. No matter how safe you think your relationship with a large account might be, life tends to throw you curveballs. There are no guarantees. If that one large account leaves for any reason and you face ruin, then you have built a house of cards.

After the initial start-up phase is over, running a successful business becomes a matter of managing risks. Having a few clients account for the bulk of revenue can happen slowly over time, or it can come about in a flash. The role of the owner and directors is to recognize the inherent risks, then go about managing them.

The obvious solution is to find more clients in order to broaden the customer base. The trick is to do this while managing larger customer expectations and not failing in product and service delivery.

No one said being a company owner is an easy thing to do.

In financial circles, astute financial planners recommend owning a predefined percentage mix of stock and bond funds based on your age and risk tolerance. As you add more funds, the percentages can get out of balance in one part of the portfolio. A periodic review shows which part is out of balance. The solution is to sell the overloaded part and buy more of the other in order to bring the portfolio back into balance.

Owning and running a business correctly is similar to having a financial portfolio. You must understand and realize what your goals are at the beginning and review them regularly. Successful owners realize when one metric has gone out of balance and take immediate action to bring it back in line.

A business built like a house of cards will have no choice but to crash back down to earth no matter how high the stack has grown. Broadening your customer base while providing excellent customer service and product delivery will ensure that no wind of change will affect your business.

When you do that, you will have the added bonus of sleeping much easier at night.

Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Monday, April 15, 2013

After Sale Marketing

Following up after a sale provides an opportunity to offer a heart-felt thank you and ensure customer satisfaction. It also lets you discuss additional services and improve a customer's probable return to your business. Here are a few follow-up tips for after-sale marketing:
  • Show your gratitude with a free offer that complements the original purchase. For example, a hair stylist could show thanks by offering a voucher for a free hair styling product. Include specifics, such as a $15 maximum value redeemable within 60 days of postmark.

  • Boost sales by providing a coupon for free shipping or 25% off their next order. Encourage customers to pass it on if they don't need to use the offer themselves.

  • Suggest complementary products or services that will enhance the initial purchase and increase the customer's satisfaction and loyalty. Consider creating an affiliate program with non-competing businesses to expand your offerings.

  • Reward customers for providing referrals. Offer an exclusive discount to both your existing customer and a new referral to increase the number of referrals you receive.

  • Highlight your contact information on an item your customers will keep, such as a business card, calendar, customized notepad, magnet, or pen.

  • Become a resource to your customers by encouraging customers to sign up for an informational newsletter with industry tips and tricks. You might also consider providing valuable tutorials and training classes.

  • Consider using the 10-10-10 follow-up pattern (or even a less-aggressive 30-30-30). Send an initial thank you within 10 days after the purchase. Contact them again after 10 days, then a third time after another 10 days. Vary your method of communication, such as a hand-written note, email, and phone call. Include an offer in all communications, and build on the urgency in each contact.

  • Ask for feedback about the customer's recent purchase or send a survey with an incentive to respond. Many customers will be eager to discuss their experience or may even have questions.
If you need creative print ideas to stay in touch your customers, give us a call today. Our creative team is full of ideas to ensure your customers come back for more, and bring new customers with them!

Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What's Your Call to Action?

Every marketing piece should have a call to action that helps direct the reader to the next step. Whether you want them to click a link, download a file, or contact your business, here are a few tips to ensure your call to action gets noticed and utilized:
  • Keep it short and simple using action verbs, such as call, buy, register, donate, or subscribe.

  • Make the action step obvious. Reply envelopes with order forms may never get used but they make it obvious to the recipient that you want them to place an order -- and response rates via email, website, fax and call all go up.

  • Be specific about what you want readers to do. For example, if you want customers to contact you to set up an appointment, don't just say "contact us."

  • Make it easy for readers by using a direct shortcut link to your sign-up page or order form, versus sending them on a wild goose chase through your website.

  • Create urgency with a deadline such as "offer expires May 31" or "order now and get a free gift!"

  • Include a benefit for contacting you. Instead of saying "Download our whitepaper," say "Expand your customer base with these 10 tips."

  • Popularity sells. If your information is high demand, consider including the number of times a document has been downloaded.

  • Build trust by including customer logos or relevant testimonials near your call to action.

  • Provide your call to action multiple times throughout your website or marketing materials.

  • Size and location matter. Make sure your call to action is easily visible and prominently located so readers don't miss it.
We'd love to help you create marketing materials that get noticed and increase sales. Check us out online for more creative ideas or to request a printing quote today!

Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Are You Doing Too Much? A Lego Story

Once a business is established, it's common practice to add products and services in the name of diversification and the desire for more profits. It's a wise business move to choose products and services that will appeal to customers you're already doing business with.

But what's the point of diminishing returns? When does adding more products become less profitable or even start losing you money?

What do you know now -- that if you knew it then -- you would not do that expansion?

Lego is known for its beloved interlocking toy bricks. The company has been around since 1949. You and your children have probably built many fun projects using their colorful, iconic blocks.

As with many other successful brands, Lego decided to diversify. The Denmark-based company added games, movies, clothing lines, and six themed amusement parks (Legoland). Lego added many new colors to the primary colored bricks originally available. Costs were added at a much higher rate than new profits to pay for all this diversification.

The once very profitable company began bleeding red ink. A new CEO (Jorgen Vig Knudstrorp) was brought in to fix the problem. One of the first questions he asked was this: "What do we need to stop doing?"

Beginning in 2005, Lego sold the theme parks and whittled down half of the brick colors. They became more efficient and creative at doing what they were good at by concentrating on less rather than more. By the end of the same year, Lego was profitable again.

Sometimes the answer to doing more is to actually do less. Doing less frees up time and resources to concentrate on the key products and customers that bring you the bulk of your profits. If you have too many services or products, start considering what things you should stop doing, so you can focus instead on what really matters.

Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Monday, April 8, 2013

If Sales Are Slow...

You've probably heard the saying, "People like to buy, but they don't like being sold to." But you may wonder what it really means.

It means that people are buying what you sell. It means people are spending money. But it also means that people are only willing to open their wallets and part with their money if one condition is met first. That condition is met when you've presented a clear value proposition.

Wikipedia defines a value proposition as "a business or marketing statement that describes why a customer should buy a product or use a service. It is a clearly defined statement that is designed to convince customers that one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than others in its competitive set."

In plain speak, this means a prospect won't buy from you until the value of your products and services is clearly presented in such a way that the decision to buy is second nature. This value must also be superior to what competitors are offering.

This value proposition doesn't mean lowering your price or being the cheapest in the marketplace. That's typically a losing value proposition. A winning value proposition is one where you add benefits that others can't or won't match.

Once you've defined your winning value proposition, it's time to clearly communicate that statement with your audience via all of the marketing and sales channels available to you.

Sales will improve once you've articulated a clear and powerful value proposition. You'll know it's the right one when your prospects feel like they're buying from you, not just being sold.


Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Power of Partnerships

If you're looking for a creative way to grow and create new business opportunities, you may want to consider a marketing partnership. By bringing two (or more) complementary companies together, businesses can tap into audiences they may not normally reach, providing exponential marketing exposure and increasing their customer base.

When considering a marketing partnership, it's important to choose a company that aligns with your product quality, reputation, and overall business strategy. By partnering with a company that has a high reputation of providing quality products or services, you can not only increase your perceived value, but also provide customers with additional reasons to purchase from you.

Rather than joining forces on all aspects of marketing, many businesses create a marketing partnership that is targeted to a specific market sector or audience. They typically maintain their individual identities and continue to sell outside the partnership.

One example of a potential marketing partnership might involve a financial institution partnering with a real estate agent and/or title company to target home buyers in their area. By combining forces, both partners can offer potential customers a smoother path to home ownership.

If you need ideas for creating a joint direct mail marketing promo that can help you reach into new markets, build relationships, and increase sales, give us a call today: 847.882.4020.


Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com

Like Plum Grove Printers Facebook PageFollow Plum Grove Printers TwitterConnect with Plum Grove Printers LinkedInConnect with Plum Grove Printers Google+
Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.