Why your marketing isn’t making you positive ROI and how to use Direct Response Marketing to fix this
A lot of people spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on marketing, and the vast majority of them do not generate any money? Why, because most of them simply don’t adopt a critical techniques called “Direct Response Marketing.
If you haven’t heard of Direct Response Marketing it’s a type of marketing strategy that demands a direct response from your potential customers. You use this strategy to answer questions, present your branding, products and the reason you do what you do. Customers love this, as they are offered the opportunity to respond, whether that be in the way of signing up for a regular newsletter, posting a comment on your facebook page, website blog, or purchasing a product from you.
Okay, so what does direct response marketing actually look like? Well, it comes in multiple forms, including:
- Direct mail
- Print ads
- Radio and TV ads
- Coupons or other incentives
Some of the advantages of direct marketing are:
- It’s a great way to use free time during lulls in business
- It is a productive way to communicate and empower you to create more relationships
- It is a great way to up-sell and cross-sell to current customers
- It is a low cost way to rustle up new business
- It can be used as leverage to turn small sales into large sales
- It can supplement your current marketing program
- A Cost-effective way to reach target markets
- Offers measurable results (Which is very important and useful)
- You are able to use it to reach outside your local area for new business
- You can increase the effectiveness of your sales force
These are all great things that can come from just taking a few simple steps to putting together a direct response marketing plan and executing it.
“I honestly don’t think you’ll ever find a safer, lower-risk, higher-profit method of increasing your business or profession than direct-response marketing.” Jay Abraham
Direct response marketing is one of the best ways to launch your business on a large scale and reach out to everyone in your target market whether they are in your local area or not.
This week I have prepared a special supplementary tutorial video showing you a visually what the process looks like in reality, and also have made available two sample Direct Response Marketing funnels that you can use immediately.
Download this week’s free step-by-step “Build your own Direct Response Marketing MACHINE!” tutorial HERE.
Until next week time!
Dedicated to your success!
I have recently been part of a conversation on LinkedIn, where we were talking about offering guarantees. E-Learning Marketing system members receive, amongst other things, a series of 52 weekly e-classes covering different marketing tactics. I have decided to post E-Class #27, which covers how to offer strong guarantees to convert prospects to paying customers, free of charge in this here blog. Enjoy! Jason
E-Class #27: How to Offer a Strong Guarantee
Risk reversal increases buyer confidence and encourages completed transactions.
A lot of the businesses I work with don’t have a risk reversal strategy, and aren’t really familiar with what one looks like, or the power it could have over their conversion rates.
Each time a customer completes a transaction, they leave your store or website with 99% of the risk associated with the purchase. Even if you overcame all of their objections and answered their questions about the performance of the product, the moment they hand over the money they lose their leverage.
If the product doesn’t do what you say it will, or if it breaks down, your customer has parted with their cash and hasn’t received the promised results. They’ve lost – or wasted – money.
So, risk reversal simply means taking the purchase risk away from the customer, and taking it on yourself or your business. When your business allows customers to make purchases without fear or doubt, you will encourage them to make decisions, spend money and complete sales because there is less at stake.
And whenever you can encourage more customers to buy from you, you will boost your conversion rate and your average number of transactions. So, offering a strong guarantee is a strategy that will increase conversions as well as repeat business.
In this E-Class we will cover:
- The relationship between risk reversal and conversions
- How to use guarantees in your business
- How to handle returns and claims
- A step-by-step process for creating guarantees
A strong guarantee will reverse purchase risk and increase your conversion rates.
Essentially, guarantees take qualified leads and quickly convert them into repeat customers. When you guarantee what you sell, you take away the purchase risk from your customer and assume it yourself. When the purchase risk is taken away from the customer, they are more likely to agree to make purchases and you will close more sales.
People don’t like to be wrong, or feel that they have been misled. They want to be sure that they made the best decision when they purchase a refrigerator or a new pair of shoes. They want the products and services they buy to actually deliver the results and benefits advertising. They are afraid of making the wrong choice when they spend their money.
When you provide a guarantee, you break down these natural barriers in the sales process, and the fear inherent in making large purchases. Guarantees usually shorten the sales process altogether because there is less need for discussion about objections. The customer feels that they can try the product out, risk free.
The best guarantees are big and attention grabbing, but still realistic. Like this one:
They’re bigger and better than the competition, but still something you can actually stand behind. They tell your customer that you have confidence in your product, and that you “must be good at what you do” or you wouldn’t guarantee it.
Guarantees and hassle-free return policies are also becoming the norm amongst many retail businesses and even service providers. There is a growing consumer expectation for returns policies that default to the opinion or experience of the customer. A guarantee or easy return policy can be the difference between choosing one business over its competition.
But aren’t you worried about unhappy customers? Won’t you see a pile of returns and service claims?
When I suggest implementing a risk reversal strategy to my clients, most of them are a little concerned. Most of them say something like, “sure, I’ll increase sales with a strong guarantee, but won’t the increase in returns and service claims put me out of business?”
This is a valid concern. Of course there are going to be customers who come back to you unhappy, or who want to take you up on your promise or guarantee. When you offer your customers a strong guarantee, you need to make sure that you stand behind what you are selling and believe in the benefits or results you’re promising.
Don’t guarantee anything you don’t believe you can deliver.
Before you even think about guaranteeing results or benefits, you need to make sure that you stand behind what you sell 100%. You need to believe that your offering is a quality product or genuine service that is of value to your target market.
If you’re concerned about the quality of your products or the service you provide, consider making improvements internally before you promise anything to anyone. If you employ staff who perform a service, make sure they’re qualified and skilled at what they do. If you sell merchandise, put stronger quality controls in place, or consider buying from other vendors.
The reality is that you will get returns. Some customers will come in to scam or to take advantage of you, and I’ll show you how to create a system to handle this. However, the point of offering a guarantee is to increase conversion rates (and revenue), so as long as the increase in sales is greater than the cost of the returns and claims, the strategy is working.
The majority of your customers would never take advantage of your guarantee.
The second important point I want to make is that most customers are too lazy or afraid of confrontation to take you up on your guarantee – regardless of how satisfied they truly are.
Your customers are too lazy to return to your store or send back the item they purchased. The same goes for services. Most let the specified time period go by, and simply forget about your promise. You may have even done this yourself.
Also, the level of confrontation involved in returns and service claims is usually more hassle than the customer is willing to deal with. Telling someone that you don’t like their product or service can be challenging, and many don’t have the confidence to do this.
So, once you’re ready to stand behind what you offer, work through my easy, step-by-step process for creating your guarantee.
1. Decide what you are going to guarantee, and what you will offer customers if the product or service doesn’t deliver.
Based on your knowledge of your target market, brainstorm a list of things that they look for or value in your products and services. Then, brainstorm a list of things that may frustrate them about the purchase experience in general. Perhaps they hate it when contractors show up late, or when take-out takes forever to arrive. Or, maybe it irritates them when they open a product package and items are missing or broken.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when brainstorming for your guarantee:
- What does your target market value most about your product or service?
- What frustrates your target market about your industry, or product line?
- What objections do potential customers raise most often?
- What is the level of risk that your customers take on in a purchase?
- How much time do customers need to truly evaluate the product or service?
Guarantee results, not features or benefits.
As I’ve discussed in earlier E-Classes, people buy results, not products or services. You buy younger-looking skin, not a spa facial. You buy a fresh-cut lawn, not a built-in lawn sprinkler system. Therefore, the strongest guarantees are made on results not features or benefits.
Take the items in your brainstormed list and identify a number of things that you can guarantee won’t happen or will happen. Don’t be afraid to think big – you can promise a lot more than you think. Once you have chosen a few things you can guarantee, make sure you:
- Get detailed. Be clear about what you are guaranteeing, and phrase your promises carefully. Different words mean different things to different people, so ensure you are claiming something measurable. Two customers may have different ideas of what makes a product “work” or “last a long time.”
- Get specific about timeframes. Give customers a realistic amount of time to experience the product or service – very few companies can guarantee any product or service forever. Usually 30-days to 90-days is an adequate timeframe, depending on the purchase. This gives customers a deadline, and protects your business.
- Are bold, yet realistic. Don’t be afraid to get a little unbelievable you’re your guarantee – it will grab your customers’ attention and may make you stand out above the competition. Just be sure to be realistic and make promises you can deliver on.
- Clearly explain compensation. If the product or service doesn’t do what you say it will, what will the customer get, or how will you resolve the situation? Make this a big part of the guarantee, be specific about money, and try to go above and beyond a simple money-back refund.
Here are some examples of strong guarantees:
- All of our products are guaranteed to make you feel stronger and healthier in seven days, or double your money back – no questions asked.
- Our services are guaranteed to be the lowest in the region. Find a lower price, and we’ll beat it by 20%.
- You’ll be completely thrilled with your haircut and color treatment, or we’ll make it right, right away, at no extra cost to you.
- Buy any product in the store and test it out for 30 days. If for any reason – or no reason at all – you’re not completely satisfied, return it for a full refund.
- We guarantee you won’t find a lower price in town – or we’ll pay you double the difference.
- If you find any defect in our installation within 90 days, we will fix it within a single business day at no extra charge, guaranteed.
2. Tell your customers about your guarantee.
Just like you did with your marketing message and your powerful offer, put your guarantee in places where your customer will read about it.
Include guarantees in your advertising, on your website, on receipt tape, in-store signage and newsletters. There are also many small ways to place visual reminders of your guarantee around your business. For example, put a small sticker that says “results guaranteed” on your merchandise or price tags, and modify all in store signage to mention your promise.
You can also send a newsletter or email to your database of existing clients to let them know about the new guarantees. You may encourage past customers to return, and single-transaction customers to become lifetime customers.
3. Train your staff on the details of the guarantee.
Script the details of your guarantee as part of the sales process to give your staff an easy guide to follow. Be clear on what is guaranteed, what the guarantee covers, and the process for claiming the guarantee in the unlikely case the customer needs to. If you decide to offer different guarantees for different products or services, make sure those differences are made clear.
In most cases, your employees will be the ones on the sales floor, using the guarantee to boost their sales targets. It’s easy for a staff member to make broad or false claims during the sales process to earn the sale, but it may result in an increased number of unhappy customers coming back to return the item.
Clear, in-store signage that promotes and describes the details of your guarantee can be a helpful tool for both customers and staff. It will act as a visual reminder of the guarantee, prevent staff from making false claims, and allow customers to read the ‘fine print’ if they have detailed questions.
4. Have a plan for returns and claims
Create a system to handle any returns or claims you may receive as a result of your guarantee. Ensure your staff is trained to deal with upset customers, and that you gather as much information as possible from unsatisfied clients.
Create a standard claim form.
Have every customer who makes a claim or returns a product fill out a standard form with contact information and details about the purchase experience. This will prevent return fraud and help you collect valuable information about your products or services, and about your guarantee.
- Contact Information
- Reason for claim
Create a claims log.
Use a filing system or log for all claims and returns. Organize claim forms by date so you can review them on a regular basis and identify any patterns or issues that need your attention. You may need to make your guarantee more specific, or address any performance issues with the manufacturer or service provider. Claims should also be noted in each customer’s file.
Go ahead and guarantee the products and services you offer, and show your customers that you stand behind your claims.
Big, bold guarantees generate the best results, but if you’re hesitant, test the waters with something you’re comfortable with. Perhaps start by guaranteeing a new product or service instead of including a guarantee with everything you offer.
Remember to have a system in place to test and measure the conversion rate on your guarantees, as well as a claims system to monitor returns. If a particular product or service is seeing a high number of claims, you may need to modify your guarantee.
If you have not already requested your free series of videos that show you how to use three specific marketing tactics to bring in more leads and prospects into your business, without spending a cent on marketing PLUS our “3 biggest lead generation mistakes that small business owners make, and how to overcome them all” video that shows the specific formula ALL of your marketing must follow in order to be effective, then simply go here: https://www.ecobusinessacademy.com/leadgenerationmistakes
(I wrote this article for my friends at www.reconnectafrica.com – this article is reprinted here with kind permission)
When I work with young businesses I can’t help but think of my first training in customer service and sales.
I’m always amazed by how much easy low hanging business is lost by business owners skipping a simple that can and should be implemented every single day, and it costs nothing.
One of my first jobs was working as a waiter for a world-renowned Pizza restaurant chain. We were trained to follow a very set and proven procedure to ensure the very best customer experience. We were taught to greet customers within 30 seconds of them walking through the front door, seat them within two minutes, take their drinks and garlic bread order within five minutes, serve their drinks within seven minutes, serve their garlic bread within eight minutes and so on. But two of the most important money making rules that we had to follow was to ensure that 1) we made regular eye contact with our customers every time we walked through the restaurant, and 2) regularly asked our customers if they wanted their drinks topping up.
Have you ever been in a restaurant where you were frantically waving and calling the waiter to come by just so that you could order another drink or order some more bread or just simply asking for your bill? Frustrating right? I remember a recent situation when I was in a restaurant where it took me 15 minutes to get the attention of a waiter just so that I could order a drink. By the time I managed to get his attention, it was too late and I had to leave. So not only was I frustrated and thirsty, but the restaurant lost out on additional EASY business too.
What steps can you implement in your business that would equate to keeping eye contact with your customers? How many courtesy calls can you make this week just to see how they are getting on with your product or service? It takes little time and no money at all to do this yet the implication on your business is profound.
Following up regularly creates goodwill from your customer because you show that you care, and during that conversation you have the opportunity to offer additional products or services to your customer. Even if they’re not in a purchase mindset at that time they may know somebody that they want to recommend to you.
This is called the power of the follow up. This is is the number one easiest way to create additional income for your business, yet 95% of businesses don’t seem to have any kind of follow-up system in place.
The question I then get asked on this subject is how much follow-up is too much follow-up? The answer to that is…there is no such thing as too much follow-up. That doesn’t mean that you call your customer every three minutes, however calling them once or twice a week until you get hold of them is perfectly acceptable. If they are an existing customer of course, you will already have trust built up with them. If your follow-up becomes too much, you can trust that your prospect or customer will tell you to stop calling them. No harm done.
Studies have shown on average you need to follow up at least seven times before a customer or prospect places an order with you so it is a fatal business mistake to give up after the first telephone call. Think of my example of the restaurant. Have you ever been in a restaurant when the waiter came round two or three times asking you if you want some more drinks, but each time you say no because you are not thirsty, but then on the fourth time you say yes?
You see the waiter doesn’t know when you’re going to be ready to order more drinks but he keeps checking in with you until he hits a time that you are thirsty. This is no different to any other business. You need to keep contacting your customers and not only that, the customers actually expect you to do this.
A trap that many businesses get into is getting frustrated about business slowing down and constantly try to find new customers. The question I always ask is have you served your existing customers to the maximum? The answer is almost always “no, I have some other service or product that some of my customers have not bought from me yet”. If you already have existing loyal customers make it your priority on Monday morning to select five customers at random and give them a call to follow up and see how they’re doing.
Existing customers are also a great source of information if you’re developing a new product or service. Why not ask the opinion of your existing clients about the new service you’re rolling out and what they think about it and the price you are offering it at? Since they know you well and there is trust built up between you, you should hopefully get a good honest answer and be able to tweak your offering to maximise the chances of success.
It is always easier to get more business from existing customers, than getting new business from new customers. So take a look at your last year’s order book, and see who you can call or meet up for a coffee. Plan your follow up, get your diary out and actually write in the diary who you are going to call and when.
We hope you found this article useful, but remember it’s not the acquisition of knowledge that will generate you money, but the application of it. So if you found this article useful, then put it to Full Use, by grabbing your address book and diary, and get scheduling those follow up calls. I use a really simple to use piece of follow up software to ensure I keep on top of my follow up list. It’s so good in fact that we have partnered up with the company that provides the technology, and I am due to run a webinar with them where I will be demonstrating some simple follow up techniques, and how to use their technology to help keep up. Check them out: Contactually . It takes literally minutes to set up, and systemises all of your follow up integrating all of your email accounts, twitter, facebook and linkedin in one place – it’s truly unique I promise you.
Dedicated to your success!
P.S. Have you applied for your $5,000 educational grant for use towards coaching services? We have five grants available to be applied for every month. There are no fees to apply, autorenews and it never has to be repaid. Get yours here
P.P.S. Are you registered to attend our weekly Ask The Expert call, where you get to speak with me or one of my coaches, asking any questions you like on lead generation, converting customers, marketing strategies and any other challenges your business is facing?
Judging a book by its cover: Why customers DO judge you by your appearance and how a personal professional branding expert can make ALL the difference
Gill Hicks is a well respected NLP expert and Personal Professional Branding Expert, and it was through Gill that I first got involved with NLP.
Gill helps hundreds of people every year, maximise their chances of success in meetings by making massively important changes to the way they look, act and speak. Gill also runs her own personal branding business, called Positive Potential.
Like you, I was curious, to understand why dressing for success is so important, and how you can improve your chances of success in meetings just by wearing the right clothes. Gill agreed to take some valuable time out of her schedule, to share some of her pearls of wisdom with Eco Business Academy.
Here’s what Gill had to say:-
Eco Business Academy: Gill, Firstly thank you so much for taking the time out to share your views and your experience with Eco Business Academy’s readers. Gill, can you explain to us what an Personal Professional Branding Expert is and why we all need one?”
Gill Hicks: I’d like to start by saying we don’t all need one, Jason! We are born with ‘perfect dress sense’ and it is this dress sense that tells us when we have made the right purchases – they are the items we love wearing, they make us feel good and more confident. Some people are really in touch with this dress sense – they love and wear everything they buy and they always look good.
For most, it is the 80/20 rule, they wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time – it is these people who would really benefit from a consultation. Not only is this type of wardrobe a huge waste of money, but the biggest waste is people going around much of the time feeling very mediocre – what a waste of life! An Image Consultant will demonstrate a wide range of colours, styles, accessories, and textures to harmonise with their client’s colouring, shape, personality and lifestyle so the client can then confidently purchase items that will appeal to their dress sense, will make them feel and project an air of greater confidence.
The image consultant should give advice on dressing appropriately for their client’s working environment and career aspirations. If you have any doubts, then a consultation would be a very sensible investment, reaping huge financial rewards by raising the chances of converting prospects to customers more quickly.
EBA: You work with a wide variety of professionals, and I’m sure there are certain expectations depending on which industry someone is working in. Perhaps it might be useful for our readers to see some contrasting stories, for instance someone in financial services, and someone in Information Technology. What are some common themes?
Gill: Yes, I have worked with thousands of individuals from a huge range of industries. Well within Financial Services there are obviously a wide range of cultures – from back office to front office, traders to H.R. etc and from private banking, hedge funds, investment banking, retail banking and so on. An appropriate style of dress is slightly different amongst all of these, so what could I helpfully say is a fairly common theme?
I see a number of people dressing at a level they have come from rather than investing in the level they are aspiring to. Think of the Tesco Value range packaging versus their Finest range – we believe the quality of the packaging reflects the quality of the product inside – we respond to people in much the same way, it is quite simple really.
So up the quality and aim to dress to the ‘highest common denominator’ for the audience’s culture and prepare to try on dozens of suits until you find one that really makes you feel great – or ideally go for made to measure.
I.T. is another story altogether! I think it is fair to say that appearance will be less influential in meetings for technical, non managerial meetings than in almost any other sector I can think of. However, a good ‘technician’ is somebody who has a certain amount of creativity, is results focused and detail conscious – so think of trying to reflect these qualities in your appearance with particular attention to a high level of maintenance (i.e. everything clean, polished and contemporary).
The common theme I have noticed amongst the IT profession is poor attention to detail in their appearance.
EBA: (Adjusting my tie and checking my hair) Great thanks Gill, that’s really interesting stuff. What sort of motivating feedback from clients can you share with us, after they have come to see you for a consultation? How does it help inner confidence and results in meetings?
Gill: I have a stackful of letters from clients – I keep them all! I hear that not only have clients received far more rapid success than they could have imagined, but the thing I love is hearing how confidence levels have soared – it always gives me a little shiver, and of course it impacts on every part of their lives.
It is difficult to attribute meeting success directly with a client’s consultation, but since first impressions happen within a couple of seconds, and having talked to possibly hundreds of ‘interviewers/prospective purchasers’, I can confirm that in many instances a decision as to ‘this one looks very promising’ or ‘this is going to be a waste of time’ is frequently taken instantly they see the candidate — before the meeting has ‘officially begun’ and that first impression really impacts on what the prospect then ‘hears’.
Appearance and body language is all they have to go on at that first impression stage, so appearance is crucial.
EBA: Wow, well we had better make sure we get it right then. As I’m sure many people reading this won’t have the opportunity to meet with you in time for their next presentation meeting, can you give us two crucial dos and don’ts, that will have an immediate impact?”
Gill: Do have a good clear out of the wardrobe, discarding or putting to one side anything that you wouldn’t want to wear on a ‘good day’. Check you have enough really ‘feel good’ items to be able to ring the changes for up to 3 presentations with the same firm, and diarise what you have worn where as it is easy to forget if you are meeting with several prospective clients.
Don’t wait until you are called for a meeting to race out to the shops and buy something new – it will almost certainly be a mistake if bought in haste. You WILL get meetings, so do some research shopping first and don’t get tempted by buying too early with an ‘it will do’ attitude wait to you find something that makes you feel great.
EBA: We’ll all take your advice Gill! Finally, if someone wanted to find out more about your services, do you have a website they can visit, or a way they can contact you to ask a question or three?
Thank you Jason, and good luck to all your followers!
EBA: Thanks Gill, I’m sure they all appreciate the advice! I’m off to clear out my wardrobe! Now where are those leather trousers…….?
Have you ever gone up to someone, and asked them “So John, what do you do?”, and you get an answer like “I’m an accountant”.
Don’t you think that’s interesting?
The problem with John’s answer here, is that he has just labelled himself, and we all have our own image, preconceived idea or in NLP terms, internal representation, of what an accountant is. You know, a short thin guy with round glasses, an old grey suit that hasn’t been dry cleaned for 12 years…your image of course may be different. But either way, the words “I’m an accountant” is most likely to conjure up the image of a person, rather than the results or service that the person offers.
So think about how to answer that question next time you are asked it. Let’s move back to John. How else could he have answered? Well he could have said, depending on his individual specialisation, something like:
“I work with people to help them decrease their tax obligations and increase the efficiency of the management of their cash flow”. Immediately we get a clear picture of the benefit of what John has to offer.
So whenever you are in a meeting, and your running through your list of previous customers, and describing who you currently work for, make sure you simply describe what your value-add is to each customer, why they initially hired you and how you helped the customers save money, get their new kitchen built, have a great driving experience, sleep better at night etc….
Give examples of how you have done this. Telling stories is a great way to sell your point. Simply making statements or stating facts, is all very interesting, but doesn’t get someone to buy. Maybe you already know the expression :
Remember, in the context of a meeting, the irony is that the customer has a problem, which is why they have made the time to speak to you, yet at the same time they will be quite on their guard to reveal their real needs or spending capability – it’s a human pride and defensive mechanism. Being aware of this is particularly important, or easier to demonstrate in a slightly differentselling context.
Namely that of a counsellor or psychiatrist selling their services to a potential ‘patient’ (isn’t that a horrible word to use). Let’s say Mary is a therapist, she will be looking for new patients, or as I prefer, customers.
So, Mary is introduced to someone who has some kind of marital issue going on for them. Mary at this point can do one of two things:
“Hi, I’m Mary and I’m a family therapist and work on marriage and relationship problems. How can I help? (Translation: What’s your problem?)” – This will immediately put the potential customer on the back foot, because as you know, they don’t need therapy!
or a much softer approach:
“Hi, I’m Mary. I recently met with someone who was facing some issues within their relationship. At first it seemed to them (note: no use of the words “patient, client, customer” etc) that the situation was hopeless, that there was no way of getting out of the downward spiral that the relationship was going. We talked a lot about how the two were communicating, or not communicating, and quickly discovered from both sides that they actually had the same views, goals and ambitions, but were too scared to talk about them. Now they are really happy, and the relationship is blossoming stronger than ever before. If you are feeling low, maybe I could share some of my experience of how to overcome any anxieties you have right now.”
Mary in this case has sold her services, using a story, a real life example, to which her prospective client can relate to.
Human beings love hearing sensational stories, that’s why newspapers sell so well. You’ll never see a newspaper saying “US Economy coasting along very nicely thank you very much” or “Business at IBM is doing generally alright, executives say”. You’ll only see sensationally negative or positive headlines like “10,000 people laid off at Walter Mitty Plc as business is hit by economic downturn” or “10 million people get huge tax break”. The Media sells the story, and they do it exceptionally well. It’s a love hate relationship.
Identifying the customers’ issues, and then outlining examples how you have fixed similar issues in the past, is going to be your priority and will be key to succeeding in closing the sale. Tell stories, and ask them to share their similar stories.
What’s your story?