We've Moved!

Friday, September 30, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 0 comments

Please visit the new site at:

SmallBusinessMarketingSucks.com

See you there!
Labels:

Why Prospects Aren’t Looking for You: The Myth of the Self-Directed Buyer

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 1 comments

In my latest SitePoint blog post, I talked about inbound vs. outbound marketing. In case the difference isn’t clear to you, here’s a quick definition of inbound marketing:

A marketing strategy that focuses on getting found by customers, where the customers find you through various search engine marketing efforts, social media, or word-of-mouth referrals.

Outbound or traditional marketing would be things like print advertising, direct mail, cold-calling, and television and radio advertising – essentially, anything a company does to find customers, as opposed to “being found.”

It’s become quite vogue to characterize outbound marketing as “old school.” But is traditional marketing really as dead or ineffective as inbound marketers claim?

It sounds good in theory to say the every business should utilize inbound marketing. But how would you advise someone who just opened his own carpet cleaning business? Build a website and hope people find it? Create a Facebook page or Twitter account and look for people to ‘like’ it or follow him? Blog about carpet cleaning? Honestly, how many homeowners would engage a carpet cleaning service on social media? Besides, it’s the cart before the horse.

The best strategy would be a combination of old school: Yellow Page advertising, direct mail and cold-calling. That’s what will get him customers right away. Once he’s built up a sufficient client base, then he can begin using social media to engage them, offer discounts and incentives, and generate marketing gravity.

Many people think that outbound marketing more expensive than inbound. But how much does cold-calling cost compared to search engine optimization or paid search? (You’ll spend a lot less on the phone calls.) Certain keywords are becoming quite expensive and ROI is dropping because only large companies with huge marketing budgets can afford them.

Another thing that’s dropping is the cost of Yellow Page advertising (due to independent directories entering the field). In some markets you can buy display advertising for less than $1200 for the entire year.

For most (if not all) small businesses, a combination of inbound and outbound marketing may be the best option. I owned my own web business, so you’d think I’d be singing along with the “outbound only” marketing tune. But my experience has shown me that those who preach that message usually have their own agenda – to sell their own inbound marketing services. And what better way to accomplish that than to disparage their “outbound” competition?

What Will You Do for a Living when the Web Is Dead?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 0 comments
Whew! This SitePoint post of mine certainly generated a lot of controversy, comments, and tweets.

Labels: ,

Quoting a Ballpark: Home Run or Strikeout?

Sunday, March 20, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 1 comments

Is quoting a ballpark price always a losing proposition? In this article, I talk about how to turn a potential losing situation into a win.

It has all the markings of a lose-lose situation. Quote too high a price and you probably won’t ever hear back from him. But if you under-estimate the cost, you’ll look shady if you actually bid for the job and your proposal comes in higher. So what’s a poor web designer to do? Bite the bullet and throw out a number? Or tell him you can’t quote a price without knowing exactly what he needs? Here are a couple of approaches you can try...

Read the full story at SitePoint.
Labels: ,

Finally Revealed! What Stapling Bacon to Your Face has to Do with Cold-Calling

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 1 comments
Photo by Philippe Put

In my latest SitePoint blog post, I finally reveal what stapling bacon to your face has to do with cold-calling and I explain how to overcome the single biggest obstacle you’ll face when it comes to actually doing it.

Several years ago, the company I worked for held its international sales meeting, and reps from all over the globe came to our corporate headquarters in Los Angeles. I was asked to stand up in front of the group and make a presentation. Two of the reps from Australia approached afterwards to tell me they thought I’d done a good job. One of them expressed his fear of public speaking with this statement...

Read the full story at SitePoint.

More on Cold-Calling and Bacon Stapling

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 0 comments
Photo by timsamoff

In my last SitePoint article, I promised to show you if and how cold-calling can generate new clients. In this article, I’ll tell you why it works so well and reveal a deep, dark secret behind it (hint: it stinks).

In my last post, I promised to show you if and how cold-calling can generate new clients. As I mentioned in that post, the company I work for uses cold-calling and cold-canvassing as its primary means of getting business. That doesn’t mean we ignore other marketing methods. It’s just that we don’t just sit around waiting for people to respond to our mailers. We have a sales force on the street and a telemarketing team on the phones actively looking for new business.

Get the full story on SitePoint.

I’d Rather Staple Bacon to My Face Than Make a Cold-Call

Monday, February 28, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 0 comments

After publishing an article on their website, the folks at SitePoint have asked me to be one of their business core bloggers. I’ll be publishing about 6 blog posts a month. Here’s the first:

In 2008, Eyes on Sales featured an article entitled, “Why Decision Makers Hate Cold-Calls.” If you want to be convinced that cold-calling doesn’t work, that it’s a colossal waste of time, and that it’s the most “ineffective and costly” way to find prospects, then go ahead and skip what I’m about to say and go directly to that article. (Just be sure to read the numerous comments from people who vehemently disagree with the author.)

On the other hand, if you’d like to explore how cold-calling can be a great way to find new clients, then stick around, because that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Full story on SitePoint.

Put Your Marketing Machine in Motion

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 0 comments
Photo by Viernest

I’m conducting some intensive training for the lead generators I manage and oversee, based on curriculum from appointment setting expert Scott Channell. I’ve broken the training into four distinct phases. Although this is specifically geared towards cold-calling, the steps in this process apply to any type of marketing you do.

The first step in the process is What to Say when you have a decision-maker’s attention. Whether that’s over the phone or on your web site, you’re going to have to plan in advance what you’re going to say. If you don’t have something very compelling to tell them, you will lose them. Without the right message, even the person who has a need for your product or service will tell you ‘no.’

Answering Objections and Responding to Resistance is phase 2. We hear the same objections over and over, so there’s no excuse not knowing how to respond to them, be it face-to-face or in your marketing material.

Phase 3 is implementing a Seven-Touch Call Process. This is where most sales people struggle… how often should I call? How many emails until it becomes spam? Unless you figure out how to consistently touch your prospects numerous times, you will become lost in the clutter.

Targeted Marketing is phase 4. Most businesses would love to clone their five or ten best customers, but few make the effort to try. Does it work? We’ve only done it to a small degree but we’ve seen some dramatic results

The final step is Creating a Killer Value Proposition. A value proposition is ”a clear statement of the tangible results a customer gets from using your products or services”. The best source for this information is from the mouths of your customers themselves. Once you know why they buy from you, weave that into all of your sales and marketing messages. Why did I save this step for last if it’s so important? Because you need to start marketing as best you can, as soon as you can – with or without a “killer” value proposition. Once your marketing machine is in motion, you can tweak it as you go.

I’ll be covering each of these steps in more detail over the next few days. Until then, happy marketing!
Labels:

How to Set More Sales Appointments

Thursday, January 27, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 1 comments

I’d like to think I’m a good boss, but I’m certain that at least a few of the people working for me hate me this week.

That’s because I’ve been subjecting them to some extensive training on setting sales appointments. The first step was to develop an effective script. Everyone worked hard coming up with a good one, and today we completed our final drafts. I gave everyone until Monday to make any last-minute tweaks and to practice, practice, practice before launch day.

But a few of the more rebellious ones decided to start using the new script right away. In the first hour after today’s meeting, 3 people set appointments with their new script; and one person used a portion of his to overcome an objection and book an appointment. Way to go, team!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of our techniques and strategies, successes and failures. Regardless of how you’re marketing, I think you’ll read something to help in your endeavors.

Bulletproof Web Design Contracts

Thursday, January 20, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 5 comments
I just discovered that an article I wrote for SitePoint in 2005 is mentioned in the book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating a Web Page & Blog:

Bulletproof Web Design Contracts (www.sitepoint.com/article/bulletproof-web-design-contract) is an outstanding article by John Tabita, chock-full of smart and useful advice about creating contracts for site design jobs. (p 282)


Not to toot my own horn (well, maybe just a little), here are some of the reader comments on the article:

This is THE best, most comprehensive article I've read on SitePoint...

Thanks for such a stunning article!

This is a great article. Very well done.

Excellent article — very useful, thanks!

An insightful and informative read, John. You da man.
Labels: ,

So What Exactly is “Value” and How Do I Use It to Sell?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 1 comments
An article of mine has been published on SitePoint.com.

SitePoint is an online media company and information provider targeting the Web professional market, specifically web developers and designers. Its website contains a vast variety of tutorials and articles coupled with a vibrant and well-informed community of over 400,000 members. It was named the third most popular eBusiness website and is currently the 749th most visited web site in the world.

The article is titled, So What Exactly is “Value” and How Do I Use It to Sell? It can be found here.

Labels: ,

How to Create a Personal or Professional Brand

Saturday, January 15, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 0 comments

A company I worked for had a particular manager that I had never met. Despite that, I felt like I did know him because, whenever his name came up in conversation, the typical reaction I heard was, “He’s a real a$$*#%! hole.” After about the fifth or so time of hearing those exact words, I had begun to develop a very distinct impression about him. Like it or not, he had been branded.

When we think about commercial brands, we tend to think of a name, sign, symbol or slogan… anything that is used to identify and distinguish a specific product, service or business. But on a more basic level, a brand is an identification mark… such as when using a branding iron to mark an animal to indicate ownership.

That “mark” can also be a symbol of disgrace or infamy, as in the Bible when it says that “…the Lord set a mark upon Cain” after he killed his brother, Abel. A mark or brand can also stigmatize, accuse or condemn, or brand as disgraceful, as in the case of the a$$*#%! hole manager.

Companies often confuse their brand with the logos, trademarks, signs, symbols or designs that identify the product or services they sell. But your brand is a distinctive identity that is associated with the product, service or organization. Brands are more than just names slapped on your products by the marketing department. They embody the value those products have in eyes of your customer. Or at least they ought to.

To most companies, their brand is centered around their product. But brands are more about the promises you deliver than the products sell. The promise of value (and the delivery on that promise) is at the heart of it. So true branding is about selling a promise of value.

But promises are serious business. Making too many or changing them frequently raises questions about the character of the individual or organization doing so.

Companies can say (or promise) whatever they like about their organization, product or service, but what they say is typically what they want the buying public to believe about their organization, product or service. But what you do proves what you believe, not what you say. And if what you believe about your company is not the same as what you want the public to believe about your company… well, that’s the definition of a hypocrite.

And if what you think the buying public believes about your organization, product or service is not what they actually believe, well, that’s called denial. (Or stupidity… you choose.)

Want to know what your real brand is? It’s whatever word your customer uses to complete the following sentence:

“Oh, [Company Name]… that’s the company who _________________________.”

How would your customers answer that question?

I once worked door-to-door sales for a lawn care company. A common response I heard from homeowners after I identified myself was, “Oh… you’re the company who constantly calls and calls and won’t leave me alone.” More than one customer told me that they refused to do business with us because of this – despite being satisfied with the quality of lawn care.

Remember how I said that a brand can also be a symbol of disgrace or infamy?

The owner of a small restaurant in Cherryvale, Kansas, recounted how she and her husband had always thought their restaurant was unique because they were the nicest restaurant in town. But, by surveying their customers, they found out otherwise. In her words, "We were surprised to learn that, instead of being the 'nicest' restaurant in our small town, it was known as the 'birthday' and 'anniversary' place. Why? Because it was the nicest place in town. So now we market it that way, always collecting data from our customers as to when their birthdays and anniversaries are, and sending them cards for a free piece of pie or box of candy when they dine here for their occasion."

As you have probably noticed, your brand is closely associated with the value you provide to your customers. The people in Cherryvale valued this small town restaurant as the “birthday” and “anniversary” place because it was the nicest place in town. And its owners delivered on their promise of value by making sure it was the nicest place in town.

Determining what your customer values and then delivering on that value is what true branding is all about… regardless of whether it’s a professional or a personal brand.
Labels: ,

Doing Things Right vs. Doing the Right Things

Friday, January 7, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 0 comments
Photo by CarbonNYC

When it comes to strategic vs. tactical planning, it’s easy to fall into either/or thinking – that is, either strategic thinking is better, or tactical thinking is better. This is especially true when you realize which type of thinker you are. We tend to believe that our type of thinking must be superior. But regardless of whether you are a strategic or a tactical thinker, you must come to realize that both types are critical to success; and you must learn to appreciate your business partner and/or your employees’ way of thinking and value the contribution they can make towards accomplishing your goals.

So when I use the term strategic vs. tactical thinking, it’s not to imply that they are at odds with one another; rather it’s to contrast the difference between the two, so you can begin to distinguish and appreciate those differences. It’s also critical to recognize when you are not applying both types of thinking to the situation.

Difficulties arise when one or the other, rather than both, is used to tackle a problem. Strategic thinkers tend to analyze the situation but often fail to take action. “Paralysis by analysis” is their downfall. Tactical thinkers are all about “doing something,” but they often don’t think before springing into action; so oftentimes, their action is ineffective, and perhaps unnecessary. If only they’d taken the time to step back and analyze the situation beforehand.

Think of strategic and tactical thinking like the strings of a violin. In order for the instrument to create beautiful music, each string must have tension applied to both ends. If tension is released from either side, then the music it was intended to create cannot be produced.

The apparent tension between strategic and tactical thinking is seen in the statement, “Doing Things Right vs. Doing the Right Things.” Tactical thinkers tend to focus on “doing things right,” and strategic thinkers are concerned with “doing the right things.” But let’s consider that statement for just a moment. If you do something “right,” but it’s the wrong thing to do, your efforts will be futile. Conversely, if you do the “right thing,” but you do it wrong, you’ll also fail miserably.

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before the defeat - Sun Tzu

Let me give you a couple of examples.

Doing the Right Thing, but Doing it Wrong
When my partners and I began our web development business, one of the “things” we did to find clients was cold calling. Today, I run a telemarketing department, so I know something about it, but eight years ago, I was completely ignorant on the topic. Without a script or much of plan, we opened the phone book and started calling.

As you can imagine, we were less than successful. We landed two very small jobs (one of which we ended up refunding the money), so we decided that cold calling wasn’t the way to find clients in our market. It wasn’t until a few years later that I met some colleagues who were having great success with cold calling. One even told me that it was the primary way he gained new business. Our failure caused us to conclude that we were “doing the wrong thing,” when in reality, we were “doing the thing wrong.”

Doing the Wrong Thing, but Doing it Right
A few years later, I met a business woman whose product was coffee gift baskets. Previous to this, she’d been a freelance computer programmer and IT consultant. Now, the primary way that such a person gets business is through networking: belonging to groups such as chamber of commerce, establishing relationships with people that could become clients or who know others who could become clients. Much of this type of work is gained by “word of mouth.” Jackie knew this and was good at it. And since that was all she knew, she was using it for her coffee gift basket business.

The problem was that, unlike computer programming, where she only needed maybe one or two new clients every few months to make a living, Jackie needed to sell several dozen baskets each week to make a profit. What Jackie needed was a website and a retail outlet to expose her product to the public. Networking meetings were getting her one or two sales, at best, a month. If Jackie had been a different type of person, she might have concluded that she was “doing the thing wrong” and tried harder – more networking meetings, talk to more people, and so on. Fortunately, she realized that, although she was “doing the thing right,” it was “the wrong thing” to do for her new business.

So let’s get away from either/or thinking, and engage in both/and thinking: both strategic thinking and tactical thinking are critical for success.

Utilizing Both Strategic and Tactical Planning for Long-Term Success

Monday, January 3, 2011 Posted by John Tabita 3 comments

Lets face it... if you’re in business, you need a plan.

You did create some type of business plan before you set up shop, didn’t you? If not, I highly recommend you do so now. Go ahead, I’ll wait...

Great! Now that you have a plan, let’s talk about some of the components of that plan. Let’s talk about strategies and tactics.

I’m sure “strategic” and “strategy” are not words you use in everyday conversation. (Heck, I can barely even spell it.) Yet, your success depends upon learning and applying the concept. Let’s first talk about what it means. Here’s my working definition:

Having a long-term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, most often “winning.”

So “winning” in the business world requires both strategic and tactical planning.

Business consultants draw a distinction between the qualities of a manager and those of a leader, because it’s rare that one person will posses the qualities of both. In other words, managers seldom make good leaders and vice-versa. Managers are primarily concerned with “doing things right,” and Leaders are concerned with “doing the right things.” The first is Tactical thinking, and the second is Strategic thinking; the first is Management, and the second is Leadership. In a nutshell, Leadership is about creating the vision, and Management is about implementing the vision.

When I was a kid, Dad was big on “setting goals,” and was always telling me that I needed to have some. What he failed to teach me was big picture, strategic thinking. How could I set a goal when I didn’t know where I wanted to go? Having a goal without a strategy is like trying to buy an airline ticket without a destination in mind. Just go somewhere, already!

But without a plan, you’re like Alice wandering around in Wonderland:

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don't much care where...” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“...so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

Benjamin Disraeli once said, “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” But what we’re aiming for is action based on a strategic, long-term plan – doing the right things and doing them right.

It my next post, I’ll give you some practical examples of what that looks like.