Have you heard of “the buying spectrum?” At one end of it, a prospect has a faint understanding that they will need to make a purchase. At the other end, they are ready to lay down their money.

    Not all prospects enter the spectrum at the very beginning. Sometimes they’ll become aware of a product and have a strong desire for it. They might buy now or shop around a bit first, but they’ve entered spectrum much closer to the end.

    Major life changes put consumers into the buying spectrum. These can include the following:

    • becoming a new parent
    • becoming a newlywed
    • buying or selling a home
    • becoming single
    • reaching a particular age

    (Businesses also undergo major changes [of interest to B2B companies] but this article is going to focus on consumers.)

    Marketers refer to these changes as “triggers” or “life event triggers,” which necessitate certain new purchases or changes in purchasing habits.

     

    Right Offer, Right Time

    Marketing and advertising work because the world is already full of people with needs and desires. It’s a fact of life. Trigger events are just specialized instances of need and want.

    By using the trigger events that apply to your business, you can deliver the right offer at the right time and produce a whole new level of response and new customers.

    (You’re probably wondering where to find this trigger data, right? That info is coming, shortly.)

     

    How Businesses Can Use Trigger Data

    For marketing purposes, trigger events are those major life occurrences which end up recorded in public records.

    These major life changes bring about new needs:

    • A new homeowner may need a gardener, a pool cleaner, a cable provider, an exterminator, a new doctor and/or dentist.
    • New parents are going to need diapers, baby clothes, nursery items, and day care services.
    • A newly-single person may be in need of a dating service, a make-over, or professional counseling.
    • People who’ve come through a bankruptcy may need ways to re-establish their credit (such as a secured credit card).
    • People nearing retirement may be in need of financial planning services, various types of insurance, or maybe a travel agent.

    With a bit of thought and research, you can figure out which triggers to market to. Then work out your offer to correspond to the trigger. Then prepare to start counting the money.

     

    ProspectsPLUS! gives you access to a whole new pool of prospects, according to trigger event, through the Nielsen PRIZM database. Log on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei where you can design a beautiful postcard, print it, and mail it, all from your computer.

    Or, you can contact Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and we’ll save you the time and take care of it for you. (We do this stuff all day long.)

      You probably already know that it’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one, right? To be more specific, the White House Office on Consumer Affairs reported that it’s six to seven times more expensive.

      If you’ve got an endless marketing budget, or a quasi-monopoly in your market (as some cable companies do within a region), then you don’t have to worry too much about retaining customers.

      But most businesses don’t have bottomless budgets and the bad reviews will eventually catch up with you.

      The long-term business survival strategy is to keep your customers.

      Customer Service Statistics

      While it’s necessary to prospect for new customers, the fact is, your existing customers are your business: you have a 60-70% probability of selling to them vs only a 5-20% chance of selling to a new prospect.

      So, it pays to treat your customers like gold—that’s what they are.

      Seven out of 10 people will spend more with a company that they feel provides excellent customer service, according to an American Express Survey. And more than half of them (59%) would try a new company for a better customer service experience.

      So, to summarize:

      1. Your customers are your business.
      2. People value great service.
      3. They are willing to pay more for it.
      4. They will go to where they can get it.  

      One last stat: 80% of companies surveyed (by Lee Resources) said that they provided outstanding customer service. But only 8% of people surveyed agreed.)

      So, even if you’re sure you provide superior customer service, there’s probably a thing or two you could do to ensure it.

       

      Customer Service Marketing

      The successful customer-business relationship is not unlike any successful personal relationship.  

      Customers want to be properly acknowledged. They want to be treated with respect, courtesy, and maybe even admiration. They appreciate help and information, and genuine communication.

      You can’t always be selling to them. That’s like a “friend” who you only call when you need a favor. It won’t last.

      So in between sales, use your marketing as a form of customer service:  

      • Birthday & holiday greetings. It used to be fairly common to receive a birthday greeting in the mail from your dentist or other business. Not so much anymore. So, it really stands out as a kind gesture when you do it. (It also requires that you be collecting customer data, including their birthday.)
      • Surveys. People love to be asked for their opinion or viewpoint. So, send them a survey. It doesn’t even have to be about the customer experience. It could be about something related to your industry or product/service in general.  
      • Thank you’s. What if you sent your customer a postcard just to thank them for being your customer. You could even boost it with 10% “thank-you” discount.

      Any one of these strategies (or others) can be put onto a postcard, for highly effective, low-cost “customer service marketing.”

      In fact, you could design one right now at www.prospectsplus.com/pei and get it into the mail in a matter of minutes, right from your computer.

      Or, for a superior customer service experience, give Opportunity Knocks a call at 1 (866) 319-7109. We’ll save you time by handling the design and everything else.

        Do you date much? Would you like to?

        (No, ProspectsPLUS! is not moving into the dating advice niche. This is just a set up to for an analogy.)

        Which is the easier way to get a date?

        • On your own, at the supermarket, laundromat, bar, etc.
        • By having a friend introduce you to someone they know.

        You probably said number 2, right?

        Not a Total Stranger

        This may be a huge oversimplification, but it’s still true: it’s easier to get the date by your friend setting you up because you’re a friend of their friend. So you’re safe (more or less). You’re more familiar than a total stranger. It establishes some small degree of trust.

        So, what does all this singles-scene stuff have to do with your marketing?

        It’s this: by showing prospective customers that people just like them have used your service or purchased your product and got a good result, are happy and satisfied, you become less of a total stranger to your prospect.

        They are thus more likely to trust you.

        There are three main ways to promote your results and produce this effect:

        • Photos
        • Testimonials/reviews
        • Evidence of market dominance

         Let’s take a look at each in more detail and how to use it in your marketing.

         Photos

         Photos are ideal for before-and-after scenarios where a picture really is worth a thousand words (and, marketing-wise, perhaps many thousands of dollars):

        • Weight loss
        • Cosmetic dentistry
        • Anti-aging products
        • Beauty products/services
        • Interior decorating/remodeling
        • Landscaping

        But photos of happy customers and their purchases—house, car, pet, etc.—can also be effective in producing trust.

        Testimonials/reviews

        There is no bigger credibility builder than a great testimonial or review (or a few of them).

        A testimonial can say things to overcome skepticism and build trust that you, as the voice of your business, could never get away with. That’s because a good testimonial or review isn’t sales copy; it’s word-of-mouth advertising.

        When choosing a testimonial, shy away from the non-specific “I love this! It’s a great product!” raves. Instead, look for one that fulfills the following requirements:

        • It’s from someone like your prospect. “Like” can mean same geography, age group, line of business, etc.
        • It speaks of concrete benefits and results: “In just two week, I lost three inches in my waist!” or “We did the course and applied what we learned and have doubled our income in just the first six months.”
        • The benefits should support the claims you’ve made for your product or service. In other words, losing inches in the waist is great, if you’re selling a diet or exercise product or service.
        • It’s credible, meaning that it has identifying information, such as name (or initials), job title and company (as applicable), and city and state.

         Photos have been shown to increase the credibility of testimonials and video testimonials are even a step better.

        Evidence of Market Dominance

        If you’re the city’s #1 plumbing company… that speaks for itself…and it says to prospect “Everyone is calling these guys. You should call them, too.”

        But don’t use this one unless you really are the market leader and can back it up with evidence and/or statistics: number of customers, number of sales, quotes from published reports, awards that indicate your “number-one-ness,” etc.

        A great photo, testimonial, or evidence of market dominance is the most powerful “bait” for attracting new customers.

        With one of these in hand, all you’ve got to do is log on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei and put it into your postcard. Then print, and mail and get ready for your phone to ring.

        Or, if you’re tied up with all it takes to continue dominating your market, turn the postcard work over to Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and we’ll get it done for you.

          In 1975, the Wall Street Journal initiated a direct mail campaign to generate new subscriptions. The piece they created came to be known as “The Tale of Two Young Men.”

          Twenty-eight years and $2 billion dollars worth of subscriptions later, they stopped mailing it. Not bad, eh?

          Nothing stays the same forever. It’s as true in marketing as it is anywhere. Even “The Greatest Sales Letter of All Time” eventually stopped being effective.

          Most marketing pieces don’t have that kind of long-run effectiveness. That’s why it pays to conduct continual testing of your own marketing.

          Go Big (Enough)

          From your customer base, select out a control group (who will receive your current promotion) and a test group (who will received the new version) that are large enough to produce a statistically valid result.

          Too many companies test on too-small groups, which wastes money and produces no useful results.

          And remember, with this kind of testing (often referred to as “A/B testing” or “split testing”), you test only one thing at a time. Variables can include:

          • new headline
          • different photo
          • different offer (bonuses, discount, etc.)
          • re-worded call to action

          There are other aspects of the copy or design which can also be tested, including color schemes, body copy, and more.

          ROI, Not Just Response

          Counting on response alone as a measure of test success is a bit like trying to get the most “likes” on a Facebook post. It makes you feel good but it does nothing for your bottom line.

          With any marketing test campaign, you should only be concerned with the return on investment (ROI) for both the test and the control. This is easy enough to track with date-limited offers.

          When your offer doesn’t have an ending date, results may come in for months, but there is a point at which you will have received 50% of all orders for that campaign. This is referred to as the campaign’s “half-life.” By running a few tests with a large enough representative segment of your customer base, you will discover within a few months what the half-life is. (It will be consistent, campaign to campaign). When you know, you’ll only have to monitor campaigns until the half-life date to know the ROI.

          Frequency

          How often you mail is commonly a concern for email marketers but can also be an issue for direct mail marketing.

          Campaign frequency can apply to either the total number of mailings or the number of repetitions of a particular campaign.

          If you mail once a month, you could see what happens (in terms of ROI) if you mailed the twice a month to your control group.

          In these testing scenarios, short-run postcard printing (as few as 100) is your ally because you can get it done fast and it’s very cost effective, which can do wonders for your ROI.

          If you’ve got your control and test lists (and you’re sitting at your computer), you could go to www.prospectsplus.com/pei and do a test campaign right now, in a matter of minutes.

          And at Opportunity Knocks, we specialize in small order printing which allows you to easily and affordably run test campaigns. Give us a call at 1 (866) 319-7109 to find out more.

            If you’re the top company in your market right now, you can stop reading.

            If you’re not, then it might be time to do a competitive analysis to get a thorough understanding of your competition.

            This understanding will provide a few important things:

            • Your current and potential customers’ opinion of the competition
            • Your competitions’ weaknesses and strengths
            • A path toward strengthening and improving your competitive advantage

            “Knowledge is power,” said 16th century philosopher Francis Bacon. And with a competitive review, you will achieve marketing power.

            Identifying Your Competitors

            If there are only a few companies doing business in your niche, then you should do an analysis of each of them.

            If your market is crowded with competitors, relax: you don’t have to do an analysis of each one. Narrow it down to the top three.

            Getting Competitive Information

            Though you could hire a market research firm at great expense, you can do the job yourself quicker and cheaper. Much of the information you need is easily available:

             

            • Marketing. Get on your competitors’ mailing list. Read their ads and sales collateral to find out price, offers, and benefits. See how they advertise, how often, where, and how their ads look. Visit their website regularly to keep up with news and developments.

             

            • Articles. Google the owner or other principle of each company to see if they are talking about how their company operates, if they’re expanding or downsizing, etc.

             

            • Reviews. Find product/service reviews on Yelp!, Amazon, and elsewhere. These will tell you the strengths and weakness of their wares.

             

            • SEC reports. If your competition is a publicly traded company, you can access their reports on the Securities and Exchange Commissions’ EDGAR site to get earnings and growth information and more.

             

            • Databases. Sources such as Dun & Bradstreet, Wards Business Directory, and others provide information on assets, earnings, and other key information for small, medium, and big businesses.

             

            • Pay a visit. If you have a store, you can go out and visit the other stores in your area and observe how they do business. Play “customer” and ask questions to find out about service, price, and selection.

             

            If your business is online, place an order with your competition to find out how good their service, delivery, and packaging is.

            You can adapt this information-gathering step for whatever kind of business you have.

            Your Own Company Information

            Find out from your sales staff and customer service reps which product/service benefits and features your customers consider most important. Discover, if you can, how they rate your product against your competitors’.  

            Figure out your market share or at least know what your total annual sales are, to compare.

            Analyze Strengths and Weaknesses

            By analyzing all the data you’ve collected, you can make an honest assessment of what you and your three competitors do well, in which areas you’re weak, and where your most likely competitive advantage lies.

            By seeing where you’re strong, you’ll discover what to fortify. By seeing where your competition is weak you will discover an advantage for yourself. Turn their weakness into your strength.

            Use the results of your competitive review to inform your marketing, towards the goal of more customers, sales, and greater market share.

            A really fast way to get out your post-review postcard campaign is to pop over to www.prospectsplus.com/pei and design, print, and mail a postcard that will help you get the edge on your competition.

            Or, call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109. Postcard marketing is our strength. We’ll conduct a competitive analysis for free to your campaigns see that added boost.

              Clint Eastwood said it. Sean “Puffy” Combs did too. So did Former Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key (among many others):

              “You get out of life what you put into it.”

              But “life” is such a broad topic, right?

              How do you apply this idea to successful business marketing?

              You could modify it to: “You get out of your customers what you give up to them.”

              Your marketing should showcase what you will give up.

              The Offer

              For your business to succeed well into the future, you have to put out an offer. This, of course, is so obvious that it hurts, but we have to say it because there are businesses out there that spend good money on marketing that contains no offer.

              Think about that: You come home after work and you find a door hanger on your front doorknob: “Jack’s Burger Shack.” It has their address and phone number and their menu. That’s it.

              Every other fast-food place in town has an offer: “two-for-one” or “10% off” or “Free Delivery.” Jack’s makes no offer. So why should you become their customer?

              No offer = no new customer.

              In your industry, some or all of your competitors are putting out offers. Some of them may be good (and it pays to analyze what they’re doing), but frankly, yours has to smoke (not like the charbroiler at Jack’s)—it’s got to be better than what your competition is offering.

              Offers That Create Customers

              To create the best possible offer, take a long-range viewpoint. Consider that you want to acquire a customer and keep them for as long as possible.

              Figure out the lifetime value (LTV) of your average customer. Here is a simple way to get an estimate:

              • Work out the dollar amount of the average sale.
              • Multiply it by the number of sales the average customer makes in a year (or week, or month, depending on your business)
              • Multiply it by the average customer lifespan (the years, weeks, or months they remain a customer)

              When you know how much you can maximally expect to earn from a customer, you get a better grip on what you can give up in order to acquire that customer.

              This isn’t just a matter of how much you should spend on marketing but of what you can give away, in terms of:

              • Complimentary Service
              • Free Consultation
              • Discounts
              • Extras
              • Freebies
              • Etc.

              This kind of talk makes some small business owners nervous. They end up making “meh” offers (or, like Jack’s, no offer).

              Skip the nervousness. Take the long view (sales, more sales, ROI out the gazoo, and referrals too). Give up as much as you can. Make a great offer. Get the customer.

              When you’ve worked out your offer, head over to www.prospectsplus.com/pei and design, print, and mail a postcard that people won’t be able to refuse.

              And if time is something you can’t “give up” much of right now, call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109; we can handle the design and everything else for you.

                Wow! Thank you to all our amazing contestants this past month!
                We had some terrific entries – and we thank you all so much for sharing your ProspectsPLUS! and Opportunity Knocks experiences! If your name wasn’t drawn – no worries! We’ll choose another winner in June!
                Congratulations!

                Our $150 winner is Lee Cline from Rustic Countrysides who shared, “Andy and his team are quick to respond and helpful. They gave us plenty of options with the information needed to help us make a great marketing plan for our company to move forward and take advantage of the inquiries generated from their vision and ideas”

                Thank you to everyone who entered! Ready to throw your hat in the ring? It’s easy! Simply share your ProspectsPLUS! experience on our Google or Facebook Page and you’ll be automatically entered. We’ll give away a $150 ProspectsPLUS! credit. Next drawing is the first week of June!

                  The postcard is still one of the best ways to bring new customers to your business. It’s targeted, cost-effective and prospects appreciate direct mail more than email, according to a U.S. Post Office study.

                  The following four points are too often overlooked. But if you want to have success after success with your postcard campaigns, you’ll learn them well and employ them always.

                  1. Use a targeted list

                  It doesn’t matter how awesome your ice cubes are or how fast you deliver if you’re promoting to a list of prospects in Siberia.

                  The quality of your list is the most important aspect in the success of the mailing.

                  The ideal scene in the promotion of any product or service is that every single person on your list is the perfect prospect for your offer—they need it, want it, and are able to pay for it.

                  It’s anyone’s guess if that ideal is attainable but one thing is certain: with a little work, you can reach plenty of high-quality prospects.

                  (And for the sake of your ROI and results, you can’t skip this).

                  To accomplish that, do an analysis of your best customers—the ones who make repeat purchases, send you referral business, and are always happy to give feedback:

                  • Who are they?
                  • Where are they located?
                  • What’s their age?
                  • Etc.

                  Work up a profile of your best customer. With the easy access we have to data today, you can use that profile to find more of the same and thus come away with a targeted list.

                  2. Write a killer headline

                  If your headline is weak, your mailing fails—simple as that. Your prospect won’t be interested in your offer. They’ll use your postcard to sweep dust into a dustpan.

                  It’s not necessary to be clever but it is necessary to appeal to what is most important to your targeted list. (See #1, above.) The two biggest requirements for a strong headline are curiosity and benefit—you want to pique the prospect’s curiosity and also promise them a benefit.

                  Sometimes you can get away with one or the other.

                  For instance, if your target list is asthma sufferers, a headline as simple as “Attention: Asthma Suffers” (curiosity) could work just fine. You could use a sub-headline to transmit the benefit (e.g. “Find out about a preventative treatment you can get without a prescription.”)

                  3. Make an irresistible offer.

                  You whet the prospect’s appetite with the benefit you’ve promised in your headline. Now your offer has to fulfill that promise in such a way that the prospects almost feels they’d have to be crazy to not buy (or call, or schedule an appointment, etc.).

                  In addition to having a product or service your prospects want, there are plenty of ways to make your offer irresistible:

                  • “Limited time offer”
                  • “While supplies last”
                  • Discounts
                  • “Buy-now” bonus
                  • Etc.

                  (Tip: Everybody loves a great deal but which of your deals is the best one? Like anything in your promotion, your offer is among the things you can A/B test to see what gets the best response.)

                  4. Track your results.

                  You probably don’t need to be told that the whole point of postcard marketing (or any kind of direct mail marketing) is to be able to track the results. So, don’t do a mailing unless you’ve put in place a tracking method, such as:

                  • QR codes
                  • Unique phone numbers
                  • Coupon codes
                  • Landing pages
                  • etc.

                  Tracking is not sexy. It’s administrative. It can be tedious. But it’s one of the most overlooked aspects of successful direct mail marketing. Successful marketers track.

                  You can design your first postcard, build a targeted list, and schedule the mailing right here online.

                  Questions? We’d love to hear from you or visit us online at www.prospectsplus.com/pei

                  Need a little coaching? We can design it all for you – just call 1 (866) 319-7109 or visit Opportunity Knocks marketing!

                    You know what happens when you assume, right?

                    A wrong assumption between two people can be embarrassing enough. But when you make a wrong assumption about your customers, embarrassment is the least of your worries. It can end up being expensive and wasteful…for you.

                    Chances are good that you have some idea of the kinds of offers your customer persona is likely to respond to but when you want to deliver an even more highly targeted offer, what’s the shortest line from A to B?  

                    You do it with by stealth survey.

                    What Is It?

                    Put simply, a survey presents two similar things (we’ll call them A and B) to an audience to see which one the majority of that audience prefers.

                    With a stealth survey, the audience doesn’t realize they’re being surveyed. They think they’re just looking at an ad. (They are.) But the way they respond to it provides the marketer or business with a survey result.

                    (Don’t worry; it’s totally legal.)

                    When Would I Use It?

                    There are three scenarios in which you would do a stealth survey. Each is a different way which a business could use to create growth:

                    • Expanding into a new market
                    • Introducing new products
                    • Changing the pricing structure

                    Whereas a routine postcard mailing would present a single offer, a “stealth survey” postcard presents three. It not only will give you back valuable data on how to target your offers in the future, but with three offers, you’re casting a wider net and thus have a better chance of coming away with a customer.

                    Some Ways To Do It

                    A dentist wants to start offering cosmetic dentistry services. So rather than shock his existing customers with a sudden shift in focus, he could instead prepare a postcard with three offers:

                    “Call and set an appoint to get one of the following discounts:

                    • 10% off cleaning
                    • 15% off of braces
                    • 20% off of cosmetic dentistry”

                    Perhaps you’re a janitorial service and you want to begin offering more extensive, higher-priced services. Don’t just change your postcard to reflect the new service and price, but place three offers:

                    • Office cleaning – starting at $150/mo
                    • Day porter services – starting at $75/day
                    • Full building maintenance services – starting at $750/mo

                    Or, let’s say you run a mobile auto mechanic service and you want to expand your business into the next city or county but you’re not sure what the demand is or if your current messaging will hit home. So make three offers:

                    • Factory-scheduled maintenance
                    • Engine, transmission & electrical repairs
                    • High-performance upgrades

                     Then design and send your postcard. Monitor your responses as they come in. You’ll get your “survey result” (which of the three is most interesting to your prospects) and you’ll probably get some customers in the process as well.

                    Most importantly, you will know how to target and design your future postcard mailings, and thus produce increasingly higher ROI.

                    Need a little help? Call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109; they can design your “stealth survey” offers for you!

                    Or if you got the gist and you’re ready to mail, you can start at www.prospectsplus.com or just give us a call at 877-222-6010.  We’re ready to help.

                     

                      Rosie was standing on the curb with her cellphone to her ear. Ten feet away, her Toyota sat in the right traffic lane, steam rising out of its crumpled hood.

                      She’d been rear-ended by that guy in the work truck behind her, and pushed into the rear end of that blue SUV in front of her.

                      The lawyer’s office answered and she told the guy who picked up that she’d been in an accident.

                      After he collected some information, he asked how she’d heard about them. She chuckled. “Those radio ads I’ve been hearing! ‘If you’ve been in an accident, call 1-800-I-BE-HURT!’” she told him.

                      The Real Reason

                      Some slick radio advertising exec will show you the law firm’s new clients stat, correlate it to their radio campaign, and say, “See? That’s the power of radio.”  

                      And…it’s persuasive. Kind of compelling, right?

                      But before you start shelling out six figures for airtime and production costs for a lot of corny radio commercials, absorb this simple rule:

                      The effectiveness of any advertising comes from the repetition, not the medium.

                      This was first recognized by English businessman Thomas Smith, in his book, Successful Advertising, which was published in 1885—decades before people radios were readily available to the public.

                      Y’see, your prospects recognize your name when they’ve been exposed to it (via any medium) three times. When they’ve been exposed to it seven times, they begin to associate it with your business. By the time they’ve been exposed to your name 27 times, you’ve risen in their mind to the level of a brand in your particular market. “Oh, that’s Bob Jones,” they say. “He’s that web designer.”

                      So who are they likely to call when they need the kind of service you provide?

                      Prospects Will Go with Who They Know

                      You probably hear similar commercials on your local radio station, right? For lawyers, plumbers, mattress showrooms—whatever. The same kinds of messages over and over, day after day.

                      And you rarely give them a second thought until, like Rosie, you absolutely need a lawyer (or a plumber, or a mattress, etc.).

                      The Direct Mail Advantage

                      Advertising effectiveness comes from repetition but with direct mail, you can get even more power. That’s because it’s targeted—so it only goes to the kinds of people who are likely to need and can pay for your products or services.

                      Unlike radio’s “shotgun” approach, direct mail is a laser. It’s efficient, with an impressive ROI—$27 for every dollar spent.

                      You can create a targeted prospect list and design and mail your postcard in minutes—right now, from where you’re sitting.

                      If you know what you’re doing and you’re ready to mail, you can start at www.prospectsplus.com. If you’re still unsure about how targeted demographics can dramatically impact your response, log onto Opportunity Knocks Custom Campaigns or just give us a call at 877-222-6010.  We’re ready to help.