Go Away to Come Back; Business Lessons From Seven Continents.

August 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Business Growth 

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Is the idea of leaving your business as well as your country to see the world absurd? As business owners, we are heads-down focused on our business and driven to make it better. Leaving our business is inconceivable. Or is it?

Remember back to your childhood. On sunny days, Mom and Dad made you go outside and play. Before there were play dates, you went to a field with your friends and a ball and decided, what game would you play? Whose team were you on? And what position would you play? Wasn’t it fun?

Now that you’re the boss, it doesn’t have to be a summer day. You can get away whenever you choose.

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How to Keep Customers for Life

August 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Business Growth 

By Dan Janal
President and Founder

PR LEADS

dan-janal-headshot-01-smallEveryone knows it costs less to keep a customer than to sell to a new prospect. Yet, so few people know how to keep a customer for life.

I’ve build a considerable empire based on retaining customers and I’d like to share my best ideas with you so you can grow your business.

You might have the basics covered, tactics like offering superior customer service, and sending hand-written thank you notes.

But I’ve found five foundational truths that you must follow if you want to keep your best customers.

1. You have to offer a superior product or service.

That’s the most important factor. If your product stinks, then no amount of customer service, good will, rebates or discounts will keep a customer. On the other hand, if you offer a great product, not only will they stay forever, chances are they will tell their friends and they will become customers too.

When I started my PR LEADS business, clients got outstanding results. They would tell their friends they got into the New York Times. Their friend would ask, “How did you do that?” And they’d say, “I use Dan Janal’s PR LEADS service.” And the next thing I knew was that I saw orders appear in my shopping cart – oftentimes without speaking to the prospect beforehand!

As long as people kept getting publicity, they gladly stayed as customers – some for as many as 10 years! That’s a lot of income.

2. Manage your client’s expectations.

I’ll never forget the first time I asked a client if she’d like to reorder my PR LEADS service. It went something like this:

Me: How did you do with PR LEADS?

Client: Well, I got into the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Investors Business Daily, The Houston Chronicle where I live and bunch of other places.

Me. So would you like to renew?

Client: No.

Me: Why not?

Client: I thought I should have gotten more.

Obviously, she didn’t realize she hit a grand slam, won the Triple Crown and held the Stanley Cup. Her results were fantastic! That’s when I realized I didn’t manage her expectations. She thought she should have gotten 100 articles. That was impossible. It was my bad for not letting her know what to expect.

Now I tell clients that the average client gets 1 article for every 10 messages they respond to. I also compare that 10 percent figure to the 0.01 percent figure that is common for direct mail so they have something to compare it to. If she had known that, she might have seen her results were spectacular.

What can you do to manage your clients’ expectations?

3. Teach them how to use service.

If the clients don’t know how to use your service or product properly, then they won’t get the benefits or results they expect. If that happens, they will quit.

I teach them how to get the most our of our services – and I use every modality and teaching tool I can think of so everyone learns the way they want to learn. For example, I send them printed instructions via email. I offer a group coaching call several times a week so they can ask their questions and get answers. I also offer to review their written responses to reporters so they can correct errors quickly and easily.

Do your clients know how to use your product effectively and make best use of its services and features so they get the most benefits?

4. Make it easy to reorder.

If your customers don’t know how to order, or if you make it difficult to order, then they won’t order.

Also, if you have to call them to ask them re-order, your chances of making the sale are slim. That’s because no one answers their phones any more. And, given the chance between a yes and a no answer, people will usually say no. It’s a fact of life.

You don’t want to give people the chance to say no. They are thinking, “Do I want to order a publicity service, or do I want a pizza?” The pizza will win every time.

I found the best tactic from a guy named Mac Macintosh who was in a mastermind group with me a long time ago. I think everyone whose last name is Macintosh is nicknamed Mac so I don’t really know who this was, but I owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

He is a copywriter and when he heard my problem of getting reorders he told me about the “until forbid” system.

“What’s that?” I asked.

It’s the system of automatic, recurring billing used by every health club, cable TV service and garbage pickup company, among others. It means they charge your card until you tell them to stop.

This was a game changer for me! I didn’t have to play phone tag with clients any longer. I could charge them automatically.

The key to making this work is to explain very clearly at the beginning of the relationship how the rebilling process works.

When was the last time you looked at your re-ordering process through the eyes of your customer?

5. Manage your own expectations.

Not every client will stay forever. Some aren’t qualified. Some have short-term goals. Some are near broke. Some won’t do the work. Some won’t appreciate your efforts. Some will, unfortunately, die.

It would be nice if we can eliminate these people from our system at the outset, but you never really know who will succeed and who will not. Life is full of surprises.

After a while, you’ll probably see a certain number of people who stay forever.

How do you know if that number is good?

Your number will be different than my number. That’s okay. We have different businesses. It would be interesting if you can compare your number to another company in the same industry who has the same kind of client and the same kind of service to see if you are ahead of them or not.

Is there a trade group or association in your industry that has numbers like these?

If you follow the ideas in this article, you very well might transform your business from one that struggles continually to find new clients into a treadmill that has clients for life.

Widely regarded as one of the Founding Fathers of Internet Marketing and Publicity, Dan Janal helps turn small companies into big names. He consults with companies and delivers speeches on “Keeping Customers for Life.”  For info go to www.janal.com

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10 Warning Signs Your Business is Out of Focus

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Article posted in The Business Journals
by Andy Birol, Contributing Writer
May 14, 2014

Your business strategy is crystal-clear, sharply-focused, and well-versed – or is it? Do your employees, customers, and vendors really know your core competencies? Are you certain everyone understands your plan to achieve your mission and vision?

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How to find a banker who adds value to your business

May 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Business Growth 

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Article posted in The Business Journals
by Andy Birol, Contributing Writer
May 20, 2014

As long as capitalism survives in the United States, there will be bankers and business owners. Whatever the stage of the business cycle, one will need the other more. If bankers are lending freely, there’s a good chance owners don’t need to borrow (and the reverse is true).

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Why your company should avoid venture capital

May 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Business Growth 

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Article posted in The Business Journals
by Andy Birol, Contributing Writer
April 7, 2014

You need capital for your company to grow, but you may want to reconsider venture capital.

The basic problem with partnering with venture capitalists is that their need to earn quick, big returns conflicts with your goal of building your business. Growing a company’s customer base rarely enriches a venture capitalist as much as the next round of investors.

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How to know a business owner is about to fall from grace (and what to do about it)

April 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Business Growth, Profitable Growth 

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Article posted in The Business Journals
by Andy Birol, Contributing Writer
March 4, 2014

 

Good, smart people start companies, and they go into business with ambition and a sense of purpose. So, why do some of them make decisions that are painful to watch?

Even when the owner is pompous or self-righteous, it’s easy to flinch when terrible choices lead to them to lose their way — and then lose everything.

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4 ways to make your own luck in business

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Article posted in The Business Journals
by Andy Birol, Contributing Writer
March 18,  2014

The saying “it’s better to be lucky than smart” is often used to describe successful CEOs who aren’t necessarily  the smartest people in the room.

Despite flopping in the classroom, not coming from money, or not attending a top school, some of these business owners become quite successful.

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5 police strategies that businesses should adopt

April 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Business Growth, Profitable Growth 

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Article posted in The Business Journals
by Andy Birol, Contributing Writer
February 25, 2014

 

You think you have problems? Try being a cop.

Years ago, I went on a police ride-along in Pittsburgh’s highest crime zone. During that Saturday graveyard shift, the officer and I responded to nonstop calls about gunshots, domestic violence, armed intruders, crack-addict beatings, fugitive surveillance, and gang hangouts.

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How to fix your sales process so you won’t ever be disappointed in a sales rep again

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Article posted in The Business Journals
by Andy Birol, Contributing Writer
February 4, 2014

 

Have you ever screamed, “Why can’t I hire good sales reps?!”

If so, you might be asking the wrong question. The problem might be your company’s sales process, not the salespeople.

Are your sales reps failing for these reasons?

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Menard USA Doubles Sales With Help From Andy Birol

Background

Menard (www.menardusa.com) a design-build specialty geotechnical contractor who offers value engineering and innovative techniques to deliver practical, sustainable solutions such as controlled modulus columns (CMC’s), which are a technologically superior alternative to deep (pile) foundations that support buildings. Under the leadership of its CEO, Seth Pearlman, Menard had experienced great success by servicing general contractors and highway contractors as well as property owners in the energy, commercial building sectors.

The Challengemenard_2014

Despite the great recession of 2008, Menard’s business was good, but Seth was not satisfied. The company was dependent on a few large accounts, increasingly challenged to differentiate itself from competitors and its growth strategy was not as clearly defined as it could be. Seth saw opportunities to take Menard to the next level of growth. and hired Andy Birol of Birol Growth Consulting to provide an objective, unbiased and aggressive action plan to double the size of Menard. “After first meeting Andy in 2008, I engaged Andy’s services as Menard’s Strategic Growth Consultant in November of 2009.  As his first client in Pittsburgh, I was able to get to know him personally as he and his family relocated to Pittsburgh. I was impressed with his confidence and ability to understand our business, learn what our market really needed and help us implement a breakthrough strategy”

Results

After extensively analyzing all of Menard’s practices and interviewing its management and sales engineers, Andy personally traveled across the country to interview over a dozen building owners, general contractors, governmental procurement offices and leaders of oil refineries to understand why Menard’s customers chose to buy from his client. In doing so, Andy articulated and presented an innovative growth strategy that was fully embraced by Seth and his management team. The growth strategy, which included a:

  • ·         Focus on educating customers and those who influence customers
  • ·         Strong lead generation program
  •  ·         Emphasis on developing the sales engineering function
  •  ·         Creation of a marketing communication initiative

By 2013, Menard has nearly tripled its sales and now is no longer dependent on a few customers for the results.

Seth Pearlman, reflects on the last four years and Andy’s contributions as follows:

“Andy created a breakthrough for our business by using educational programs, recommending a new selling process, focusing us on high-potential market niches and finally, creating communication and tracking tools which brought terrific results and a greater sense of control over our business. Working with Andy was an intensive but highly rewarding process. He is a driven, results-oriented professional who not only understands how to create a new approach to growing a technical business, but most importantly, how to sell a different approach to Menard’s skeptical engineers who were not used to business growth processes.”

 “Andy is remarkable at understanding and pushing us past our comfort zones, not by changing our core values or what we do, but by leveraging what he calls our Best and Highest Use.  Andy’s thought leadership created management commitment and his unflappable style empowers optimism.  He not only raised our belief in how much more we can grow our business but was relentless in pushing us to achieve this growth. We are so pleased with Andy that we have just rehired him to take Menard to the next level of growth.” 

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