It takes a great team to make a great business…
… And Apple is a perfect example of a company that has executed this brilliantly. In the very early days, when Apple took on their first round of angel investing right at the beginning, it came with a very wise man named Mike Markkula. He shared, instilled and ensured a great mantra would be the guiding principles of what was to become the world’s most successful company. We believe there are some amazing takeaways in these three words of wisdom that all business can implement today:
In reverse order of importance:
An intimate connection with the feelings of your customers. “We will truly understand their needs better than any company.”
“In order to do a good job of those things that we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.”
Emphasise that people form an opinion about a company or product based on the signals it conveys. “People do judge a book by its cover. We may have the best product in the world, the highest quality, the most useful software etc, however if we present them in a slipslop manner, they will be perceived as slipslop. If we present them in a creative, professional manner we will impute the desired qualities.”
Today we’re going to explore ‘impute’, what we believe is one of the most important aspects of business today and is at the core of everything we do here at Due North.
Impute: How you impress the socks off your customers from the very first contact, right throughout the marketing and sales journey.
Need help impressing your customers?
Stay with me for one minute while I take you on a quick journey of discovery…
Let’s start by exploring a few things that Apple does amazingly well, that put shivers down your spin because they’re so impressive, that makes you go – I need an Apple! These are the things that have made them the amazing success they are:
- Patent the iPhone packaging/box with no less than 17 designers named on the legal document
- Has a dedicated packaging box engineer with a small team
- They airfreight most of their product to ensure quality and timely delivery
“Yeah but that’s Apple” I hear you say! “I’m not Apple and I don’t have the resources (people or money) to do what they do.”
Well guess what – you don’t need to be. Here we are going to share a few key “not so secret” secrets and 6 key learnings that will add real value to your business and its bottom line quickly!
1. You Need A Sh^t Hot Website!
The most important marketing asset of your business is now your website. It is your business’ face to the world and is the single most important aspect of how you will “impute the desired qualities” for your potential customers.
Features of your website that will gear it for success are:
- Value: It must smack me in the face with the value you offer me (see this article).
- User Journey: It needs to provide me with a great user journey.
- Confidence: It needs to fill me with confidence in your ability to deliver your products and services.
- Information: It must provide me with all the information I am looking for on your product/service.
- Social Proof: Demonstrate proven track record with other customers like me.
- Tells Your Story: Brings to life the brand and instill a sense of who you are and what you stand for.
A common oversight I see all the time with my clients is the ‘set and forget’ mentality towards their websites. No! Your website is a living, breathing, growing asset of your business, and you need to treat it as such.
And then there is…
“But our target audience doesn’t search and come through as leads and therefore I don’t need a great website”, is one excuse I have heard time and time again. And my response, “Garbage! Absolute Rubbish!”. Somewhere in the marketing and sales process, the decision maker is going to look at your website, and it will be a major assessment point as to whether they choose you or your competitors. So don’t allow it to let you down, and don’t skimp and save.
Invest in your website. Invest $10-$20K on a simple glossy brochure site, $30-$50K in a good solid functioning site (e.g. e-commerce, decent integration) and $80-$100K plus on big sites as a starting point.
Take Away #1
Don’t skimp on your website! It’s worth the investment to a have a great one (you’ll reap the rewards 100 fold).
2. Grab My Attention
Your marketing messages need to impress me. They need to grab my attention, they need to resonate with me (remember rule number 1 above – we will know our customers better than anybody). Then they need to clearly demonstrate the value I will receive by choosing you instead of competitors
- Search (Google Ads/SEO): Don’t do boring stuff! Get creative with ads that are different and resonate.
- Social: Do it well or don’t do it. Social is hard and requires a lot of smarts, time and creativity. And above all else, quality over quantity.
- Direct: Go direct, pick up the phone, reach out on LinkedIn, send a hand-written letter. These are all still super effective ways of opening a conversation with your target audience. But get creative, and be genuine with it!
Take Away #2
Make your marketing messages unique to your brand, relevant and memorable.
3. You Walk Up To The Stranger At The Bar And Say….
The first physical interaction with any prospective client is usually the second major intersection of imputing the desired characteristics. And like when you see that stranger in the room, that first few seconds of communication will have a significant impact on how you perceive one another.
Let’s make that first interaction impressive, memorable and a process that ensures an open and effective flow of communication thereafter.
- Script it: Don’t leave it to chance! Make sure that first impressions of your business are good ones and that all staff follow the script (not word for word, but the general concept and idea of it that they can add their own personality to!)
- Get me to like you instantly: Ask me engaging questions that build near instant rapport
- Build the process/system: This is a sales process (whether you like the word ‘sales’ or not) and you need to build a good one!
- Mystery Shop your staff: So that they can get better, and better, and better
- Guide it: “Can I help you with something” is a crap opening line in a retail store. Guide me to start the conversation with “What brings you in to our particular store today?”, “Welcome, my name is Bruce, Have you been into our store before?” or even a bit quirky: “Hey I love your shoes!”
- Intent! You must have the intent of adding value (not getting the sale!). If you focus on adding value, the sale will follow…
Take Away #3
Plan and script your physical interactions with your customers to gain instant rapport.
Due North has a unique offering. When you work with us, you deal directly with our marketing superstars. Our team provides broad marketing expertise across a range of disciplines and are capable of both providing strategic advice and executing the plan. It’s a model we’re really proud of and produces some amazing results.
4. Nurture Me
All too often, people go straight for the kill. They go straight to price, or they start by offering a discount, or a special. The third major intersection of imputing the desired characteristics is around the fact that people buy on emotion, trust and value first, then on features and benefits, then on price/offer/discount. So let’s build that emotional connection and trust first by nurturing the still new and fragile relationship that you have with me:
- Email: Still one of the most effective and highest return on investment marketing channels. But we want to personalise the comms to my own needs (segment your database), designed to match expectations of that segment and providing value.
- Call me: Pick up the phone and call me (stop emailing!) – relationships are still built on human connection and you build much better relationships when you talk.
- Social: Social is a great channel to nurture relationships, but it is costly in resources and paying for Mark Zuckerberg’s next holiday. If you’re going to do it, do it well, invest in it and quality over quantity any day.
Two most important aspects:
- Add value: Give me value before I become a customer (educate me, give me a sample, help me), you’ll be amazed at how well this starts a long-lasting relationship.
- Surprise me: Do things that I’m not expecting (in a nice way! Don’t stalk me).
Take Away #4
Build a steady relationship with your customers to become the foundation for a long term relationship.
5. Shut Up and Take My Money
So when I finally pull out my wallet (because everything above has made me say “Shut up and take my money”), we need to reinforce that this was the right decision and ensure our customers walk away saying “Wow, that was a great experience”.
- Clear Expectations: Customer is crystal clear on what they are getting and when they are getting it.
- Presentation: As with the Apple packaging, everything is presented beautifully.
- Information and education: We continue to add value throughout the journey with timely and helpful information that I need to consider or action regarding the products and services.
Take Away #5
Take steps once you’ve got the sale to reinforce why it was so worth it.
6. You Know Me So Well
The final point of intersection (well okay, it’s not final because we never want it to end) is that our clients start saying “you know me so well”. It’s time for us to ensure they become repeat customers, time and time again. We know them so well that we add value by providing timely, relevant information and offers. But don’t make me feel like any old customer. Make me feel important!
“Really? Aren’t we back to point number 1 above – Know our customers better than our competitors know them? C’mon Ben, let’s move on!”
“No!” I say… “We will not move on”.
Take Away #6
You must know your customer better than your competitors!
Don’t send me generic boring stuff that every Tom, Dick and Harry can get. I need to feel valued, special, important – so provide me with information and offers that match!