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Friday, December 27, 2013

The Art of Networking

Networking is a critical part of growing any business. It's through networking that people are able to make connections with potential clients and others in their field, which helps them grow their sphere of influence and get their name known. While many people understand the importance of networking, few people have the skills mastered that allow them to make full use of all its benefits. Here are some tips to allow even the greenest entrepreneur to master the art of networking.

Creating an Effective 30-Second Pitch
Once you've begun to develop your business, one of the most important marketing techniques you should master is the 30-second pitch. A 30-second pitch is a brief, easily understood summary of the business that you can give when you meet a new connection.

No one wants to listen to a long-winded explanation when they meet someone new. It will drive them away and make you seem less interested in forming connections and more interested in just selling. The pitch instead should be a brief introduction to what you do and intrigue the listener into learning more. Work on developing a pitch that's informative, but also informal in tone and easy to work into a conversation.

Mastering the Business Card
Like the 30-second sales pitch, the business card should be something that helps to capture a person's eye and tells them all they need to know about your business. Networking events typically involve exchanging countless business cards and speaking with numerous people. It can be difficult to keep track of everyone. Once the event is over, people will sit down and look at the business cards they collected. The ones they can connect with a face or that spark interest are the ones most likely to be remembered and entered into a contact list.

Make sure your contact information is easy to use and displayed prominently. The headline on the card should capture the essence of the business. Consider using a unique design that complements the card and represents you (or the person you're creating cards for). The more ways the card can stand out from the crowd, without being too crowded or distracting, the better. It's not a brochure but it's a brand-building printed piece.

Widening the Circle of Potential Connections
Networking is not just about meeting potential clients. It's also about meeting others within related fields. Others in related fields can be Power Partners -- referring you to prospects and giving you the opportunity to be a center of influence sharing their information with others. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Developing a strong network within related fields can lead to recommendations, partnerships on projects, and referrals from others whose strengths complement your own.

When working on creating this branch of the network, however, it's also important to reciprocate. Few people will be interested in getting to know and work with a person who doesn't seek to help others, too.

Forming Genuine Connections
The purpose of networking is not to offer a 30-second commercial that others will forget once it's out of sight. Networking is about developing genuine friendships.

When you take a person's business card, make sure you also take the time to follow up with them later on. Send cards for holidays and anniversaries. Make it a point to check in and make occasional conversations about topics outside of work to get to know the actual person.

People are more likely to want to do business with those who are friends who care. Taking the time to develop these personal relationships can help improve your reputation and ensure you're viewed in a positive light by others in the business world.

Networking is an important part of developing a business. It's how many entrepreneurs gain mentors, friends, and business leads. Effective networking requires the ability to properly advertise your business while still maintaining an open and friendly demeanor. Keeping the above tips in mind will get you started on the exciting path of building a wide and complete network.

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, December 23, 2013

Preparing a Sales and Marketing Plan for 2014 - Free Ideas Book

As the year draws to a close, many companies are preparing to review and develop their marketing plans for 2014. A solid marketing plan will articulate a vision for the company in the new year, including how the group is going to expand and what the revenue goals should be. Developing a solid plan requires quite a bit of forethought and planning. Here are the three steps that businesses should use to get themselves prepared for the upcoming year.

1. Determine where the company is going



It's not enough to simply say that the company is going to make a certain amount of money in the upcoming year. A good marketing plan will determine what markets, geographical areas, and populations the business can expand into and how that will affect revenue. There should also be estimations about how much the company is depending upon past customers returning and what percentage can realistically be expected to spend again.

2. See how the company is going to get there



This will encompass the company's plan to generate revenue and meet the goals described in step one. In 2014, there are a variety of marketing techniques that should be considered. A company can produce excellent copy or presentations, but without a solid, well-rounded marketing campaign, it will go nowhere. Everyone knows about the importance of working online, but many neglect the print world. Yet a stunning 73 percent of customers prefer to receive printed announcements rather than email announcements from their preferred brands. Consider some of the following marketing techniques.

Direct mail


According to Target Marketing magazine, direct mail had the highest rating for customer acquisition, contact, and retention ROI. One of the biggest problems companies face with direct mail is that few people are experienced with the medium and how to run a campaign. If this sounds familiar, work with someone who is used to this type of print marketing.

Print advertising


Customers have indicated that they prefer paper ads, especially when shopping. An estimated 69 percent of shoppers depend on newspapers for information about brands and deals.

Integrated marketing


Many people use their smart devices for nearly everything. While print advertising is effective, it often works best when integrated with online campaigns. For example, include QR codes on pamphlets to take people to the company website or ordering page. This will drive traffic and help you reach across demographics to include everyone on and offline.

3. Measure progress and revise when necessary



Schedule benchmarks throughout the year to see how well the company is reaching its goals. These benchmarks should be reasonable and take into account how much time marketing techniques require to be effective. For example, a new direct mail campaign may not be as effective when it is first launched. After a few mailings, however, customers may begin to recognize the brand and give it more recognition.

At the same time, the team must be willing to revise when necessary. If the company is falling short, examine the ROI of different lead generation and conversion techniques. See if revisions are possible or if the budget money would be better allocated elsewhere. If the company is surpassing expectations, revise expectations so as not to shortchange what the company is capable of producing.

Developing a successful marketing campaign is an important step in preparing a company for the upcoming year. Taking the time to research and create a practical plan will give everyone a clear picture of the expectations and will guide the business to the next level.

For a complimentary copy of our Marketing Planning book, send me an email or give me a call -- or contact your Plum Grove regional sales representative.

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.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Giving is the right thing to do... And it might advance your business

Using the Law of Reciprocity to Advance Your Business

In social psychology, reciprocity refers to the natural human tendency to want to return a favor -- to give back after someone has shown generosity to you. You've no doubt experienced such times in your own life, when you've felt such a sense of appreciation for a kindness done that you felt inclined to respond in kind. That's what reciprocity is all about.

Giving to Give -- and Build Relationships

Of course, there is another type of reciprocity -- one born more from a sense of obligation than appreciation. But that first type (the one inspired by an act of generosity) offers a far more valuable return on the good deed done. Why? By inspiring feelings of goodwill, this type of reciprocity makes the recipient much more likely to return the favor willingly, rather than through a sense of duty. Why is this important to your overall business success? Because the person who reciprocates willingly will be much more likely to stick around to continue the relationship long-term.

Giving to Get -- and Build the "Bottom Line"

The reciprocity that's based on duty and obligation is less effective because it creates feelings of unease in the recipient -- the same sort of feelings you get from owing a debt. This type of reciprocity makes people feel as if they are being pressured, or even coerced, into reciprocating.

When you give to get, it's like tying a string to the gift and continually pulling it back toward you, rather than releasing your hold on it and giving it away free and clear. This type of reciprocity isn't true reciprocity at all, since it doesn't inspire the other person to want to return the favor. As a result, it will only create resistance in your prospect, a situation that's usually counterproductive to your marketing efforts and your long-term business goals.

5 Ways to Use Reciprocity to Advance Your Business

Here are five suggestions for creating genuine, positive reciprocity in your prospects, customers, or clients:

1. Offer something for free -- with no strings attached. Giving a small gift every now and then can be a great way to say thanks to your customers for their business and their loyalty. If you do this without asking for anything in return, you may be surprised at the goodwill you build over time. Gestures like these are never wasted, even though they may not seem to be making a difference. Sincere generosity increases your customers' esteem for your business, which makes them eager to return.

2. Go the extra mile for your customer. Spend a little extra time helping a customer solve a problem. Take a moment to pass along some helpful information you come across that relates to your client's business (B2B) or your customer's interest, need, or profession (B2C). Doing something unexpectedly nice shows your customers you value them as individuals and not just as your key to profits.

3. Make things right whenever a customer is dissatisfied. This is another way to demonstrate how much you value your customers, making them enthusiastic about buying from you again despite their initial dissatisfaction. Their respect for you will grow in direct proportion to the amount of empathy, patience, professionalism, and generosity you show when such sensitive issues occur -- particularly when they are upset and reacting with impatience themselves.

4. Treat both customers and prospects as if they matter. Courtesy, friendliness, and respect will go a long way toward creating loyal long-term customers who will become the best advertisement for your brand. By making your service as personalized as you can, you tell your customer, "You are important."

5. Offer your website visitors helpful information at no charge. We love to do this at Plum Grove! By attracting people to your website with the promise of value-added content, you'll soon become the go-to source for the answers they need, and they'll value you, as well.

Try the above five tips to start laying the groundwork for the reciprocity that's sure to follow.

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

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.