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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Accountant Reveals A Big Mistake: “Treat All Prospects the Same”

There’s always a ton of doom and gloom out there, with unemployment figures, continual media drip of bad news, and just general bleakness about the prospects for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties small businesses. Grumbling about the ACA, inflation, mounting national debts … blah, blah, blah.

Not that these aren’t serious problems, but we don’t have to join the grumblers, do we?

I’d much rather that I, Dale Hammernik, be counted among those who are forsaking grumbling for the purposes of pursuing growth.

But it starts with getting serious about sharpening our sales and marketing strategy in 2014. Things that were “easy” in the past just aren’t as easy as they used to be.

It’s time to make sure you’re squeezing all the value you can out of your advertising and your selling. And to do that, you’ve got to avoid the big mistake I write about this week.

Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Accountant Reveals A Big Mistake: “Treat All Prospects the Same”
“The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage” – Peter Senge

When I sit down with a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business owner friend, and we’re talking biz, I enjoy the back and forth of different strategies. One of the main things we like to do for each other is help identify new streams of revenue in one another’s business.

And, here’s something which I’ve seen in healthy, growing businesses … and which is absent in stagnant, failing small businesses: knowing their target prospect.

You see, in EVERY kind of Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business (even a non-profit), you want to do business, accept donations, serve clients, etc. who meet a particular profile. And, if you can identify this profile, you can save a bunch of advertising money, and keep your sales force from wasting their time.

Sometimes, small business owners think their market is simply “the local Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area.” Or, even worse, “anyone with money to spend”. I hope you see how wasteful this approach can be.

No, you’ve got to zero in on what groups will provide the best ROI possible when you’re putting together your marketing plan.

So, you’ll need some detailed information about your BEST target clients. In fact, I’ve written about this previously, but then only in general terms. Here’s more specifics for you…

I put together a list of 7 things you absolutely MUST know about your prospects.

(And, in case you’re wondering, if you’re a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties B2B business, this is just as pertinent. You’re still selling to people not companies. Remember that!)

1. Age- Everything you say and write, including slang, allusions, word difficulty, and topics should be adjusted to meet age appropriateness.

2. Gender- Despite the dual roles men and women tend to fill, most individuals can be segmented (and sold to) based on gender-specific interests or needs.

3. Location- Values and culture tend to vary based on demographics. Having a clear understanding of regional difference will improve your targeted messages.

4. Education Level- Similar to age appropriateness, education levels should determine how you address your prospects and what benefits they will find in your product or service.

5. Income- The needs and wants from one social class to another should be a guide to the types of products and services you should be selling them.

6. Marital Status- The values, needs, and desires of married persons greatly differ from those that are single. Marketing family messages to single persons (and vice versa) can lose the deal for you.

7. What Keeps Them Up At Night- This is the most important one. You’ve got to know your prospect’s fears, worries, concerns, excitements, hopes and dreams. When you know the conversation inside your prospect’s head, you can enter it, speak to it, and build a relationship that leads to a customer.

So, take the time this week to really nail down these profiles.

And in the meantime, feel free to forward this to your sales force or anyone dealing with your prospects, and make sure they understand how to speak to them effectively!

Again, I don’t pretend to be a “guru” … but I see what works for my Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties small business owner friends, and I want you to have the best year you’ve ever had, in 2014.

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

 

Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Accountant Pleads With Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Businesses: Run Advertising That WORKS

When I chat with my Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business owner friends, I find that many of them are adopting a “herd mentality” when it comes to marketing their Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business. And I’d like to see that change for you, and for all my business owner friends.

Granted, I know my limits — I’m an accountant, not a marketing guru. But I pay attention to the local and national marketplace. Plus, I get a yearly crash course on marketing and sales success by observing my most successful Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties-area small business owner clients here at Team Hammernik.

And, of course, I also make it my business to pay attention to what *established* marketing experts DO say about how to grow a small business.

You see, you’ve got choices about the kind of marketing and advertising you do, and I’d like to take some time clarifying the different options for you … and their strengths and weaknesses.

Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Accountant Pleads With Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Businesses: Run Advertising That WORKS
“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you learn to do it well.” – Zig Ziglar

When I sit down with a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business owner client or friend, I often ask them why they are advertising. In many cases, I hear the owner (or even the Marketing Director) say: “To get our name out” or to “build awareness of our product or company”.

Frankly, this line of thinking is fine for large corporations with bazillions of dollars to spend and months and years to wait for results. But for the small-to-medium sized business, this kind of marketing is a hit-or-miss proposition … and usually, that means “miss”.

Instead, after seeing my most successful Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business owner friends, I am a strong, enthusiastic advocate of direct response marketing.

Why? Because it’s one of the only forms of marketing which can be directly tracked for ROI. Do you have six figures to spend on “hope”? Because if not, then you should work to get seriously good at the style of marketing which you can track, just like an investment.

Sure, there are other forms of marketing, but Direct Marketing can be tracked — and as somebody who works with numbers and the tax code, you can imagine that I LOVE tracking! But before we get into more details on Direct Marketing, let’s talk first a little bit about the others.

There is “image” advertising. This type of advertising is often intentionally used by big corporations and blindly-copied by smaller ones. It essentially says to consumers, the press, board and/or to stockholders, “here we are, here’s who we are, here’s what we do, and we’re nice guys”… but it never asks anybody to buy anything or to take any action. It’s classic image building.

Some examples you’re probably familiar with include the AT&T sign you see behind the plate at the World Series, the Charles Schwab commercial you see during the Sunday morning news programs and football games, most bank advertising, CNN signs in airports … this is all pure image advertising.

Ad reps, consultants and the media love to sell you this type of advertising because there is no possible way to measure its effectiveness. Is it working? Is it paying for itself? … Who knows?

The next approach is a little bit better, and I’ve heard it called “Non-Measurable Response Advertising”. This type of advertising is trying to sell something, but unfortunately it is still basically unaccountable for its results. TV commercials for a particular brand of car fall into this category. The intent of those commercials is to get you interested enough in that car to go to the show room … but there’s still really no way to tell how many people who came to the showrooms this week were influenced by those commercials.

Would they have come anyway as a result of the dealer’s own newspaper ads? Who knows? Many of my friends get trapped using this type of advertising.

Retailers all run sales ads – “here’s what’s on sale — come on in!” But they still have no clue who’s actually coming in because of that ad, or if the traffic wouldn’t have just been decent even if they hadn’t run the ad.

They can guess. They can look at this weekend’s higher traffic against last weekend’s traffic and attribute the difference to the ads … but if you’re at all aggressive, it gets worse. If they advertise the sale via the newspaper, two radio stations and flyers … how do you tell which ad works and which doesn’t? Again–ad agencies and the media like to sell this type of advertising because it’s difficult for the advertiser to measure the results.

Another type of marketing is public relations and publicity. 

You can hire companies to issue press releases and articles about your products or services and your company and they will work to get them placed in various media. These firms can arrange interviews and talk show appearances. And, though you can measure them by how much actual exposure they get for you, it’s still generally difficult to then measure how much business came from the exposure. Also in this category is the sponsorship of everything from a little league team to an Indy 500 race car or a golf tournament.

All three of these types of marketing probably have some place in a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business’ total marketing plan. It is my firm belief, however that these methods are grossly and deliberately oversold to clients by media and professionals because of their resistance to results measurement. It is also my opinion that most businesses, the owners of small businesses and the executives of large companies stupidly waste outrageous sums of money on these non-measurable marketing options.

I know … I’m an accountant, right? But this isn’t just my opinion. The smartest marketers on the planet (from what I can tell), AND my smartest Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business owner friends, all incorporate measurable, results-oriented marketing.

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Dale Hammernik On Customer Targeting

Dale Hammernik here, with some business wisdom for you. As is often cited, more fortunes were made during the Great Depression than during any other time to that point (and well beyond, even when you adjust for inflation).

I say this to point you (and me) higher, and to lift our vision about what is possible in the Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties marketplace — especially with all of the continued doom and gloom in the media, and among our friends’ posts on Facebook!

But marketing, sales and other strategies which worked here in the Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area like gangbusters for years may not be having the same results now as they did even months ago.

So, as we all look at growing our businesses, perhaps we need to stop looking at the “conversion percentages”, and look at something more fundamental.

Dale Hammernik On Customer Targeting
“Keep in mind that the true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good.” – Ann Landers

Do you know the profile of your ideal customer or client for your Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties small business?

Because that’s the first place you must start when creating a marketing campaign to get new customers.

Many Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties-area clients I see approach their marketing from the following perspective:

“I need more customers, so I will run an advertising campaign. I will then choose a good media and come up with the kind of ad which works best for that medium. This will ensure success.”

Actually, this seems to be completely backwards.

The most successful Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties businessclients I work with have the following approach:

“What is my exact target market and what do they want? Next, since I know my target market and what they want, I can create a message which matches up with what they care about (not just what I provide). Lastly, the right media isn’t a big deal because I just pick the one which reaches my target prospect most effectively.”

Do you see the difference between these two approaches?

So, now that you operate from this paradigm, how do you narrow down your target market? Well, what you’re really talking about is coming up with the right list.

In selecting a list you want to target people most likely to have an existent interest in what you have to offer as well as some things in common with your present good customers.

These commonalities might be found in age, sex, occupation, income level, neighborhood or geographic area, credit card ownership, family size, magazine subscribed to, or any number of other demographics. These factors are called demographics and the professional sources from whom you might rent mailing lists can be incredibly sophisticated in finding or compiling a mailing list of people who conform to your set of desired demographics.

This is ESPECIALLY true now in 2014, with the sophisticated targeting options available in Facebook (or other online) advertising, or direct mail list acquisition.

In business-to-business marketing the same sophistication is available. Lists of companies can be obtained by size, sales volume, asset value, number of employees, type of business, geographic area, magazines subscribed to, credit rating and other factors. Lists of executives, owners, sales managers, personnel managers, purchasing agents, stockholders, or secretaries are also readily available. You can even target ONLY employees of a particular company on Facebook.

List selection can be as simple or sophisticated as you need or want to make it. The owner of an upper class club might want to obtain a mailing list of homeowners within a 50-mile radius of his restaurant who have at least one bank credit card.

A private jet manufacturer might want the list of corporate officers and business owners with net worths in excess of a half million dollars, all across the country.

As a rule, the more demographic factors you can use in controlling the list for direct mail, the costlier the list. To a great degree, extra money spent in narrowing down the list to fit your desired factors is money well spent.

Ironically, in online marketing, often the narrower the demographic, the CHEAPER the list becomes.

But any time and money spent in this narrowing is very well spent, because you reduce the “waste factor” in your marketing when you can narrowly slice down your target to the most responsive possible.

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Dale Hammernik On: Retrieving What Was Lost

With the markets taking a dive the past few weeks, it’s up to us mighty Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties small business owners to keep this economy on the track it needs to be. And that’s not even really a “patriotic” sentiment … I just don’t want to have to live through another “recovery”, you?

So, in that light, I’ve recently had success with something here at Team Dale Hammernik which I thought I’d pass along. Let’s, together, be the ones who are THRIVING … not just surviving, shall we?

Let me know what you think.

Dale Hammernik On: Retrieving What Was Lost
“Remember the two benefits of failure. First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn’t work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach.” – Roger Von Oech

Bar none, the most important asset in your Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area business is your client list. I’ll paraphrase Andrew Carnegie who said, in effect: “If you take away all of my wealth, my products, my inventory, my equipment, my staff, in fact, virtually all assets and resources – but leave me my customer lists, I will have everything else back in short order.”

He’s 100% correct. And, in the past, I have urged you to take the steps to ensure you are on top of this list for your business.

There are three segments you should address as we head into summer:

1) Existing Clients
This seems obvious, but frankly it can be one of the most under-utilized — and yet most profitable — groups of customers or clients to pursue.

2) “Lost” Clients
More about these in a minute.

3) Targeted Prospects/New Clients
This is the “sexy” segment … but in my opinion, established business owners spend far too much energy and resources going after this group.

I’d like to posit a thought to you: most of your “lost” clients didn’t leave because you did something wrong. As a business owner, it’s easy to take things personally, and believe that when you lose a customer or client, you really messed something up.

Actually, studies indicate the opposite is true: it’s normally something happening in their life or business, not what your business did or didn’t do.

So going back to this list with a simple appeal for their business, to “give you another shot”, is actually a powerful strategy for recapturing business. Simply asking for them to return is sure to bring a boatload of “lost” clients back.

Everybody loves being wanted.

But most Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties businesses make the mistake of either 1) not even trying to go back after former clients or customers or 2) simply “keeping them on the list” for regular mailings.

Actually what’s most effective is when you acknowledge that the client or customer hasn’t done business with you recently — and you’d like to incentivize them to give you a shot again. It acknowledges that there is a relationship in play, and that the customer/client isn’t just a number to you.

Try it in the next few weeks…watch your response go through the roof.

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890