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Dale Hammernik On Selling Apples

Last week, I indulged myself in a bit of a big-picture treatise about the current regulatory environment. But as you probably know, that’s not my normal fare.

I make it my goal in these weekly notes to pass along information which has proven useful to our firm and our successful clients. I do this because we want to be a partner with you in helping you grow your business.

We’re not marketing “gurus” around here, but we do hope to demonstrate our good will by passing along business-building information we come across.

And, of course, we’re always open to helping business owners in the Waukesha County area (and beyond) in a variety of ways, be they financial, bookkeeping, or otherwise. Let us know how we can be of service to you: (414) 545-1890

Oh, and an IMPORTANT TAX NOTE:
Personal and pass-through entity returns that were extended back in “tax season” are due WEDNESDAY, October 15th.

That means that if you’re someone we’ve been working with on an extension, and we are waiting on something from you … well, this week would be a marvelous time to send it our way! And, of course, here in the Hammernik & Associates office we’re working like bees in a garden to get all of our extended clients finished with the excellence to which you’re accustomed.

Anyway, I’ve got a little anecdote here, which is useful to model when it comes to how you present your products and services.

This week’s blog post is designed to push your thinking OUT of the conventional way you may be presenting your business offerings. In fact, it’s something I’m always looking to improve in my own processes, but which I know works.

Dale Hammernik On Selling Apples
“Go as far as you can see: when you get there, you’ll be able to see further.” – Zig Ziglar

Here’s an instructive story for you to consider…

A young man, serving in the army, was assigned KP duty. Specifically, he was responsible for the apples in the chow line. Now, most of the soldiers didn’t care for the apples, and generally passed this young man without taking any.

After a while, the young man changed his serving tactic. Rather than ask his fellow soldiers if they “would like any apples,” he simply said, “One apple or two?”

Most of the soldiers then went away with at least one apple on their plate.

How many times do you give your prospects/customers a chance to “slip” away without a sell? Is the way you sell to your customers making the most of your products/services?

Sometimes, prospects and customers simply need a push in the right direction.
• Always speak about your products/services with enthusiasm.
• Assume your prospect/customer wants/needs what you have to offer.
• Use encouraging words and phrases such as “when you buy this product” versus “if you buy this product.”
• Ask for the sale! Later… ask again!
• And when you DO ask, present it in a “Yes/Yes” format, instead of “Yes/No.”

Follow these tips and you’ll be surprised at the number of customers that walk away with your products and services.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County 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, at Hammernik & Associates we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County 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

Hammernik & Associates

Dale Hammernik Examines A Crippling Regulatory Environment For Biz

As we move into the final quarter of 2014, I’ve had some thoughts brewing that I believe need to be said. It’s about a problem that has occasionally plagued various clients of mine, and it speaks to a broader issue.

If there are any legislators who read my blog, please pay attention.

As a business owner, I normally write about marketing tips and strategy, but I also care a great deal about the broader marketplace, as you know. (I wrote about recent credit card legislation as well–mostly as an opportunity to have us all THINK BIGGER.)

So, this isn’t marketing advice per se … but rather a plea for sanity.

Would love your thoughts…

Dale Hammernik Examines A Crippling Regulatory Environment For Biz
“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” – Moliere

Now, as far as I know, I don’t have any government regulators subscribed to my blog … but this just needs to be said.

You see, lawmakers and the media seem to have dubbed greed as the primary evil responsible for the struggles within the American economy. Insurance companies are routinely accused of greed, as are credit card companies and networks, investment banks, CEOs and so on. As income gaps seem to be widening, and our economy sputters along, our federal policy makers seem quite eager to put checks on “greed” in order to help “fix” the economy.

However, the truth is that in a capitalist economy, profits aren’t a sign of greed, they are simply a sign that a given company’s business tactics are successful within the competitive system in which that company operates.

If lawmakers think that specific companies are making too much money, then the problem isn’t corporate greed, it’s that there simply isn’t enough competition to keep those players from making excessive profits. The President and Congress were determined to use their legislative powers to bail out the U.S. economy a few years back, but they ought to be concentrating their efforts not on greed, but instead on the lack of competition in the marketplace.

Instead, lawmakers have been continuously critiquing the profits of large companies, like those in the health insurance and credit card industries, attributing their successes to greed and greed alone. The business practices of these companies are then regulated by numerous redundant agencies, creating enormous and costly bureaucracies that bog down the system and drive up prices.

In addition, they also create a system in which small companies cannot afford to compete with larger companies, and where companies operating within a single state are hampered by the regulatory costs and procedures that are associated with going national.

What we need is legislation that will increase competition; not laws that prevent competitors from entering into the market. Obviously, excessive regulation does not engender a spirit of competition. If competition as a regulating force were embraced with greater fervor, the system would begin to correct itself — capitalism requires competition, and when it is regulated from outside rather than from within, it begins to resemble something else.

The underlying cause, which has fed the media’s and Capitol Hill’s perception of companies being greedy, is a capitalist economy that has been operating without the competition that is needed to curb excesses. The capitalist marketplace offers rewards to businesses that have successful plans — this isn’t greed, it’s just the nature of the system. And creating a government “gorilla” to squeeze out private industry competition won’t fix things.

The regulatory force that keeps those rewards in check is *real* competition and so it is to competition, and not to competition-defeating regulation, that lawmakers should turn, to get the system back under control.

#EndRant

Look — I want to finish with this: the reason I care about these issues is because I work “in the trenches” with small business owners on a daily basis. Perhaps, like yours. We are looking at the financials, consulting and advising on a host of issues, and we are often the business owner’s closest confidant.

I want to see my friends THRIVE.

So, thanks for reading, and for our relationship. May it ever prosper.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County 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 Waukesha County families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-189

Hammernik & Associates

Dale Hammernik On Why Your Waukesha County Business Needs A Bias For Sales In Unexpected Places

How are things going for you in your business? Is there anything we can help you with, as we round the corner into the final quarter of 2014? Do let me know.

We’re pretty busy around here right now, but I wanted to take a moment and help you address a problem becoming more and more common these days: collections. It’s a problem which SHOULD prompt creative solutions — instead of the “same old, same old”.

So, read on…and let me know if you have thoughts of your own on this…

Dale Hammernik On Why Your Waukesha County Business Needs A Bias For Sales In Unexpected Places
“You will never find time for anything. If you want the time, you must make it.” – Charles Buxton

Especially in our current environment, many different types of businesses are suffering from accumulated “past due” receivables.

And it’s a problem which shouldn’t *just* be addressed by “normal means” (calling, pestering, etc.).

However, you can actually change the way the game normally works. How? Well, I suggest that you use tactics similar to those which WON you the sale in the first place: discounts, premiums for advance or prompt payments, and good old multi-step follow-up.

If you do have (or ever develop) a receivables problem, you’ll need to take this same sort of aggressive action to clean it up. “Preserving the relationship” with a client who can’t (or won’t–more likely) pay his bills is of little value. And, left alone, collection problems tend to get worse, not better.

Even large, long-established corporations can find themselves in trouble with their payables. In that situation, you as a creditor could wait years for your money and then recover only a percentage of it. So it’s important that you set into place a *system* for getting this done.

Because one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned over my years in business is that trends rarely reverse themselves. Trends don’t just change; people change trends. Waiting, procrastinating, delaying action on a negative situation simply means it won’t change — at least, not likely for the better.

When you get that very first glimmer of something “not right” in your business, that’s the time to look closer and to take corrective action. Too many people spot the tip of a problem and choose to ignore it, feeling they’ve got enough to handle already, so why go looking for trouble?

It’s a funny thing how closely-related failure and success are, and how failure is usually the womb of a subsequent success. And, how most business problems have marketing-related solutions. To be very simplistic, effective salesmanship solves most problems–including collections.

You need a bias for sales in every area of your business — even collections.

So, turn your marketing mind onto it. What incentives can you provide to delinquent customers? How can you “cut through the clutter” so that YOU get paid (while other vendors wait … and wait)? Good headlines, conversational appeals, and multi-step follow-ups is a good place to start. And “starting” on this issue is the biggest step.

Your bottom line will thank you, if you take the action.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County 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, at Hammernik & Associates we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County 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

Hammernik & Associates

Dale Hammernik Challenges Your Small Fee Thinking

Do you accept credit cards in your business? If not … why not?

Obviously, it’s a matter of some debate for certain merchants, but I’m here to tell you: if you are NOT, then you could be running a big risk. Whatever your opinions about the over-availability of credit (and as a general supporter of the debt-free lifestyle, I completely get those concerns), the fact remains that as a business owner you must make your best *business* decision on this subject.

Here’s where I may be getting a little blunt: neglecting to accept credit cards as a form of payment is a short-sighted, and tight-fisted perspective which is robbing your business of a slew of potential customers.

(Ouch, that was a bit blunt.)

Now, that said — I’ve got some further thoughts on some legislation that was implemented last year, and am taking a stab at giving you some unvarnished “straight talk” perspective.

Would love to hear YOUR perspective too.

I know this is a subject which might cause you to think, “Why is Dale Hammernik even weighing in on this?”, but I mostly want to focus on the “small thinking” in this issue. Because it may be a reflection of other poverty-driven thinking in your business.

Here’s what I mean…

Dale Hammernik Challenges Your Small Fee Thinking
“Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.” – W Clement Stone

The stats are continuing to rise: most Americans, in their personal AND business life, most often use credit cards for purchases.

As a business owner, you are no doubt aware that behind the scenes, when you swipe your credit or debit card through the machine, the merchant pays a small fee to their bank (i.e., interchange fee) for the ability to accept credit card transactions. Let us be blunt about this: if the business wants your money, then they would be smart to pay these fees because cash transactions are becoming rarer with each passing day. ‘Cash only’ businesses are becoming a thing of the past.

However, some merchants became miffed that they had to pay these fees, and they recently went to Congress to fix it. Bills went through Congress that allowed merchants to enter into collective bargaining with the banks, and made it easier for merchants to steer customers to other forms of payments (by including a surcharge for cc transactions) and let them set minimum and maximum amounts for credit card purchases.

My big question is: why did they do this?

An association of merchants, or an association of banks, is a powerful special interest group in this country. So much so, that when they weren’t happy with how things were going, they could ask Congress to pass laws to fix things, and they could do this regardless of whether or not these issues were deserving of national attention.

The problem is two-fold: The merchants can fix the problem themselves (by offering incentives for using cash, etc. — but STILL providing cc options), but they demand that Congress step in. And the merchants shouldn’t be able to find support for this issue in Congress, but they can, and easily.

And to my business-owner colleagues–stop worrying about ticky-tack fees, and START focusing on what you CAN change–the bottom-line results driven by effective sales and marketing.

Opinions about legislation aside (and there may well be good reasons for why this legislation was passed, on which I don’t yet have a clear grasp) … the main point is that when you, as a business owner, spend time and focus on these sorts of “two percent” bumps and NOT on more powerful ways to add revenue and growth to your business, your thinking is too small.

Instead of banding together for or against ticky-tack fees, let’s together, as local Waukesha County business owners, instead band together to make our businesses more effective, more profitable, and more attractive to consumers and clients so that we are paid what we are really worth.

That’s something we should ALL put our focus towards.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County 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, at Hammernik & Associates we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County 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

Hammernik & Associates

Dale Hammernik Discusses The Wrong Way To Start or Turn Around a Business

I have too many friends who start a business, or seek to turn around a flailing one, and use this principle as a guiding light.

May it ever be stricken from your consciousness.

But before I remind you of what I KNOW you surely know … here are a few other things you surely know, but also perhaps need a reminder for … (like a good blog post, this is your friendly reminder):

1) Monday, September 15th is the estimated tax payment deadline for the third quarter.Our existing clients were given coupons to make it easy (albeit never fun), so let us know if you need any quick input there…

2) Corporate extensions are also due that Monday. This really only applies to you if we handle your S- or C-corp returns (which, of course, we do for a number of our business clients in the Waukesha County area). We’re on top of this on your behalf, if that’s you.

And now, for my primary friendly reminder of the week …

Dale Hammernik Discusses The Wrong Way To Start or Turn Around a Business
“There is no victory at bargain basement prices.” – Dwight Eisenhower

I discuss this all the time with my business owner clients — how to price their services. You see, often, we might hear consumers say, “Well, I would buy it if it were in my price range.” And, that idea tempts many business owners to lower their prices–just to sell more products.

However, as you already know, price reductions sometimes create more problems than they solve.

For example, price reductions…

* Decrease net profits
* Lead to the purchase of lower-quality products
* Increase customer demands to drop the price even lower!
* Require even more sales to make up the difference in revenue
* Need a larger quantity of products

And, in the end, as John Jantsch (author of Duct Tape Marketing) says, “There will always be someone willing to go out of business faster than you.”

Remember this: price is not a benefit. The close of a sale is not determined on the cost of your product. If you truly “sell” your customers and prospects, they will purchase your products/services no matter what price you determine.

That’s the plain truth–and you’ve probably seen it in your own purchase patterns.

If a customer or prospect doesn’t buy–and they claim the cost had something to do with it–you can guess they probably wouldn’t have purchased anyway.

As a small business owner, and marketer, your job is to sell your products and services. But the actual art of selling has nothing to do with the price of the product.

By the time your contacts find out about the price, they should be determined to purchase no matter what the cost.

So, find “real” benefits (value) to sell to your customers and prospects. Help them to see how great their life is with your product, and you’ve got a customer. Point out their current pain, and your contact will do anything to get rid of it.

Set your prices and hold fast. If you’ve marketed correctly, you will still have customers anxious to do business with you.

Price gouging is a horrible thing — but, really, that’s a bogeyman that lives more in our heads than in real life.

Charge your worth. You deserve it.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County 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, at Hammernik & Associates we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County 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

Hammernik & Associates

Dale Hammernik Reveals How to Catch Your Prospect in 8 Seconds (or Less)

In the midst of all of this world chaos, hopefully, you’re still recognizing the need to market your services aggressively.

The best way we in the Waukesha County area can be “prepared” for whatever comes is having a healthy, cashflowing business.

But consumers and buyers are affected by everything around us, and despite the recent rash of ice-bucket-induced generosity (which is WONDERFUL, in my opinion), they’re still holding onto their purse strings pretty tightly these days…

So it will take good work to get them to make purchases and for you to make more sales.

What I’ve learned from my marketing friends: it all starts with you how begin.

The headline. (You do have those in your marketing, yes?)

So… I’ve collected some tips on writing great headlines, and it’s the subject of this week’s Business Strategy Note.

Before we go there, pardon me for a brief, tax-related interruption:
1) Corporate taxes on extension are due 9/15.
We should have already corresponded about this if it affects you.

2) Quarterly tax payments also due on 9/15. I know, ugh.

3) Prepare for the upcoming tax season, by making sure you will have these documents ready:

Gross receipts: Cash register tapes, bank deposit slips, receipt books, invoices, credit card charge slips and Forms 1099-MISC
Proof of purchases: Canceled checks, cash register tape receipts, credit card sales slips and invoices
Expense documents: Canceled checks, cash register tapes, account statements, credit card sales slips, invoices and petty cash slips for small cash payments
Documents to verify your assets: Purchase and sales invoices, real estate closing statements and canceled checks

Now, onto those headlines…

Dale Hammernik Reveals How to Catch Your Prospect in 8 Seconds (or Less)
“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here’s the truth: most readers or listeners take 8 seconds or less to decide whether to stick around or move on to the next thing. Just 8 seconds — that’s all the time you have to convince them YOUR piece is where they want to stay for a bit.

It doesn’t matter how well-designed your marketing piece is… or how amazing your product.

If you don’t GRAB your prospect’s attention right away, they’re going to leave and probably never return.

Of all the words in your piece, the most important are the ones in your HEADLINE.

Your headline is the first thing your prospects see or hear (I hope you see that this applies to items outside of print marketing as well). It needs to capture their attention — spark their curiosity– and compel them to engage further. And it has to do it fast.

So I’ve collected three keys to great headlines…which will help you make more sales. Again, I don’t pretend to be a guru. These are suggestions which I’ve pulled together from some of the best marketing minds out there.

Rule #1: RELATE A PROBLEM
Most prospects, especially if you target them properly, are looking for information — probably in relation to a problem they want to solve.

Maybe they’re curious about local flight schools in their area. Maybe they’re wanting molded chrome fenders to put on a 1953 Chevy Bel-Air. Or maybe they’re trying to figure out how to “unshrink” wool clothes that accidentally ended up in the dryer.

Whatever their problem is, relate to it. Show them YOU know what it’s all about. Demonstrate a clear and genuine understanding of their wants and needs — and they’ll be far more willing to buy from you.

Rule #2: PRESENT A SOLUTION
You’ve described a problem. Now you’ve got to solve it — in a way that creates a powerful image in the mind of your prospects.

Tell your prospects they’re about to discover how to get the most qualified flight instructors at the lowest price in town. Describe how their new chrome fenders will help them outshine the competition at the next state-wide car show. Promise them their wife or girlfriend will NEVER know her favorite sweater once shrank small enough to fit a chihuahua.

Get them to envision the end result — and you’re more than halfway to making the sale.

(NOTE: “How to…” and “Discover…” headlines are good at getting people to imagine the end result.)

Rule #3: FOCUS ON BENEFITS — NOT FEATURES
People aren’t so interested in what your product or service is. They want to know what it does.

Specifically, they want to know what it’ll do for THEM.

Tell them they’ll get the real “inside scoop” on the flight school scene — because they’ll be learning it from someone who’s been a pilot in the area for more than 30 years. (Provided that’s true, of course.)

Have them imagine the honks, smiles, and admiring glances their car will get every time they drive it down the road. Describe the relief they’ll feel when they know they’re back in their wife or girlfriend’s good books.

Remember the most important question that’s on all of your prospect’s minds — “What’s in it for ME?” — and make sure you answer it.

Once you’ve written a few different headlines, TEST THEM. Run them for a couple of weeks, then compare the results against other headlines. Then, tweak them and test them again!

You may have to do this a few times before you hit on one that consistently yields great results — but it’s definitely worth the effort.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County 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, at Hammernik & Associates we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County 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

Hammernik & Associates

Killer Momentum

So here we are, finding ourselves about to begin a beautiful Waukesha County fall…

Isn’t it amazing how quickly time has flown by in 2014? Soon we’ll be halfway through this century’s second decade. And I still remember holding my breath at Y2K! Crazy.

There’s a reason for my mini-meditation, today, on time and its passage. You see, it’s SO easy to let it all flow by … and to not take a good hard look at doing things differently in your business.

Every week, I do my best to give you a quick “shot in the arm” for your business, and break you out of the routine. Honestly, I have such a great time putting together these notes for business owners, because I love thinking about my friends and clients putting good advice into practice to actuallygrow their business.

But sometimes momentum is a killer.

I share a little story for you which demonstrates my point, for this week’s blog post, and a few comments to pull it all together.

Read on, and send me your feedback.

Killer Momentum
“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” – Peter F Drucker

When I meet with business owner clients or friends in the Waukesha County area, I discover that many of them have a method of how they run their business … and they haven’t deviated from it for years.

Well, I remember an exchange from a plane, which got me to thinking about this phenomenon … and what it means for your business.

As the plane was being boarded, the flight attendant was passing through the cabin asking passengers what they wanted to drink before takeoff. “I’ll have a Diet Pepsi,” said one person. “A double vodka for me, please,” said another passenger … and it wasn’t even lunch time yet.

When the flight attendant reached a kind-looking matron, she asked for an iced tea. An interesting exchange followed:

Flight Attendant: I’m sorry, we don’t have any iced tea.
Passenger: Do you have hot tea?
Flight Attendant: Yes…
Passenger: Do you have ice?
Flight Attendant: Yes…
Passenger: Do you have sugar and lemon?
Flight Attendant: Uh, yes…
Passenger: Then forget the iced tea; just give me a cup of hot tea and add some ice, sugar, and lemon, please.

At that point, everyone who had heard the conversation, including the flight attendant, began to laugh. Everyone’s concept of iced tea was of a drink already prepared and packaged in a can or bottle. Only the passenger (who had obviously had this conversation many times before), had the concept of iced tea as a mixture of ingredients which were all readily available on the plane.

How many times, when faced with difficult or challenging situations, do we focus on the reasons we can’t do something instead of identifying ways in which we can?

Many business owners get stuck in auto-pilot, closing their minds to new ways of doing things because they simply don’t have the context.

So, here’s my suggestion for you this week: take a fresh look at your 1) marketing, 2) management procedures, and 3) sales steps. Try to see new ways of accomplishing similar goals, test them out … and perhaps watch your profits soar once more.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County 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, at Hammernik & Associates we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County 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

Hammernik & Associates 

Dale Hammernik Reveals 3 Significant Marketing Mistakes (Part 3 of 3)

An honest question for you: how’s business, as we wrap up the summer?

Is there anything I can do to help you this week? I obviously take pleasure in helping my clients and business owner friends thrive during this craziness in our culture and economy, and my weekly Notes are just one way I’m happy to help.

But I hope you know that there’s probably other ways in which we could come alongside you and your business. From cash control analysis, to taking financial tracking off your plate, to tax planning and other consultations — Hammernik & Associates is here for you.

Give me a call ((414) 545-1890), or send me an email … we are in your corner.

So, in this week’s Strategy Note, I’m wrapping up my three-part series on sales and advertising blunders to avoid. From the many notes I’ve received, I know this has been useful. I’m truly glad to be of service.

Read on, and send me your feedback.

Dale Hammernik Reveals 3 Significant Marketing Mistakes (Part 3 of 3)
“One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment… If it doesn’t turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

The last two weeks, I’ve written about how many small businesses in the Waukesha County area shoot themselves in the foot by failing to improve their advertising and sales processes. So far, I’ve given you FIVE blunders to avoid:

1. Failure to tell your story.
2. Right product, wrong market?
3. Right market, wrong problem?
4. Right problem, wrong pitch or promise?
5. Right pitch, wrong timing?

So, let’s keep plugging those holes for you, shall we? Here’s the final installment.

6. No urgency.
In most cases, of course, it’s just common courtesy not to rush people. But that’s a courtesy you can’t afford when you’re trying to close a sale. Why? Because of the salesperson and marketer’s greatest enemy… inertia.

If you can’t give your prospect a push to “act now,” you’re only inviting him to shelve the offer until later. Translation: never. It’s not a question of politeness, it’s a question of sales and marketing survival.

Go back and look more closely at your sales piece or script. Start with the offer and work backward. Is there a deadline for any special deal you’re offering? Is there a bonus for a speedy reply?

If you can work it into the deal, do so. But then move back through your piece and find places you can repeat or highlight the deadline date. Make it as specific as possible. Midnight on a certain date, just weeks from your mailing. Or maybe a website countdown. Or limited number of orders allowed.

If there’s one thing that drives people more than the promise of getting something, it’s the fear of missing out. In short, if there’s no urgency, find some. And make sure you build that tension, the closer you take your prospect to the point of the sale itself.

7. Failure to offer proof
As much as we may consider ourselves thoroughly rational creatures (and I say this as a “numbers person”!), no sale is ever made based on logic alone. The way to get attention and action is with emotion.

(Some people shy away from using emotion, and that’s quite understandable – because it’s often perceived as “manipulative”. My simple contention here is that if we don’t speak in the language of emotion, then we’re not truly speaking the real language of life.)

That said, once you’ve engaged a prospect emotionally, you’ve got to give him or her a reason to believe. You’ll want to work into your script or sales piece a way for your prospective client to go back and rationalize the smart decision they made to use your product or service.

Credibility-building charts and statistics, relevant stories, strong testimonials, track record, expert testimony, reassuring credentials … they all add up to support the prospect’s original emotional commitment.

If you are already using these elements, I suggest you go back and make sure your proofs are clear and easy to read. If you’ve got testimonials, make sure they’re as naturally presented as possible. Don’t use stock photos. Use pictures of the real customer. If you can use full names, do. If you’ve got experts who recommend your product, mention them.

If you’re reading third-party sources that support your claims, name them. And use quotes just long enough to show that the credible experts agree. Don’t just say your results are great. Show what happens when you get great results. Thinner customers. A nicer car. A bank statement. A healthy, happy couple. And so on.

Anything to put an image into the imaginations of your future customers.

8. Failure to close
This is the last one, and it’s a biggie.

Zig Ziglar famously said, “Timid salespeople have skinny kids.” And once you’ve gone through your sales process, written a fantastic sales piece or advertisement, you MUST seal the deal with an actual “ask” and a clear call to action–stating *exactly* what your prospective customer should do right now.

Without this final step, all your good efforts go to waste!

Again, I don’t pretend to be a “guru” … I just see what works, and I pass it on.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County 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, at Hammernik & Associates we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County 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

Hammernik & Associates 

Dale Hammernik Reveals 2 More Advertising Mistakes

I’ve come to realize that WE are our own worst enemy, when it comes to running our businesses … not external factors, not market forces. It comes down to looking in the mirror, and taking responsibility for the results we’re currently experiencing.

So, if things are down right now: don’t blame anyone but yourself. This doesn’t mean self-flagellation, but instead that seeing things in this light really is the first step to getting OUT of it — because you finally begin to focus on things WITHIN your control, instead of outside of it. And it’s really quite liberating.

Conversely, if things are GOOD: don’t abandon what got you there in the first place and coast, as if just by showing up, the magic happens. That just isn’t the case, and you know it.

Last week, I wrote about some common advertising mistakes I see … and, well, I think it touched some familiar nerves. But allow me to remind you — being challenged in your thinking is a GOOD thing!

(And, of course, if you want a guide for walking you through this murky tax landscape, I have just a few open tax-planning sessions remaining. 

But I urge you to move quickly, as I’ve opened these sessions to my non-business clients as well, and they’re going quickly. Send me a quick email, or call: (414) 545-1890 to grab one.)

On to your better marketing …

Dale Hammernik Reveals 2 More Advertising Mistakes
“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” – Beverly Sills

Whether you create most of your sales through referrals, through direct marketing, or with a dedicated sales force–there’s some quite common mistakes I’ve seen which are destined to suck the life out of your sales process.

Last week, I posted the first three. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, or deleted it by mistake, send me a note, and we’ll get it to you.

Here they were:

1. Failure To Tell Your Story
2. Right product, wrong market?
3. Right market, wrong problem?

As we head into summer (a typically “slow” season for many businesses), it’s the perfect time to evaluate your marketing processes…and plug the holes.

So, here’s the next installment.

4. Right problem, wrong pitch or promise?
Emotionally, you’re right in line with your target audience. Yet still they don’t call your office, act on your sales pitch or otherwise respond. Not to worry, because knowing how your customers think is already half the battle. But now you need to work out the other half of the proposition — the solution they’ll respond to.

The first thing you know is that it has to be somehow better, stronger, or entirely different than whatever solution everyone else is offering. How do you figure that out?

It starts with studying the competition. What’s working for them? Further, what has worked for you in the past, which you haven’t since returned to?

Because these pitches are already tested and proven effective.

In both cases, you’re getting a feel for the solutions that hit the prospect closest to the core. Good sales processes or advertising solves problems. It offers hope. That much is proven over ages. And it works.

5. Right pitch, wrong timing?
Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell called it the “tipping point.” One of the things so many businesses fail to take into consideration is how well timed their promotional campaigns and sales presentations are with what’s currently happening in the marketplace.

The bottom line is that markets move fast, and armies of prospective customers march on. What worked yesterday or even this morning may not work tomorrow. That’s why you SHOULD be plugged into what’s happening in the world, and in the marketplace. Subscribe to the magazines your customers read. Use blog-tracking services online to see what the most passionate customers for your product or service are talking about. Set up a Google news alert related to what you’re selling (you can do so at this page: https://www.google.com/alerts ).

Again, I don’t pretend to be a “guru” … I just see what works, and I pass it on.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County 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, at Hammernik & Associates we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County 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

Hammernik & Associates 

Dale Hammernik Reveals 3 Common Advertising Mistakes

With all of the chaos swirling around — Israel/Palestine, Russia/Ukraine, the border mess, EBOLA, etc. — it’s tempting to just throw your hands up and drown yourself in work … or drown yourself in the chaos, and rut there for a while.

So how are you feeling about your business this week?

I’ve got some marketing and sales advice to lift your vision (very attainable, btw) and I wanted to offer you these important reminders, during a storm:

Hammernik’s Key Reminder #1: What you choose to “ingest” over these next few days will greatly impact your state-of-mind. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say. And, of course, the opposite is true — when you surround yourself with excellence and clear-eyed determination, you find that your heart and mind carry much greater strength.

Temper your media intake this week, as most of those outlets are (quite literally) merchants of fear.

Oh, and as I write this, it’s no surprise that the stock market is “reacting” a bit. (The Dow Jones is down about 500 points since Tuesday, 7/29.) So, this leads to my second reminder:

Hammernik’s Key Reminder #2: The only thing certain about the stock market is that it’s volatile.So those of you with many assets resting there, don’t make moves out of panic. Sit down to discuss a tax-advantaged strategy … not a knee-jerk fear response.

Hammernik’s Key Reminder #3: The only thing you can truly control is yourself. You can’t control the market, you can’t control our foreign affairs (unless, of course, Messrs. Kerry or Hagel are somehow reading this — perhaps you guys can!), and there’s a real sense in which you can’t even, really, control your salary and income.

And don’t believe that you can fully control your business, or your client behavior — that’s a clear path towards irrelevance and bankruptcy. But you CAN affect your business through effective sales and marketing. 

But so much of what people do with their existing advertising doesn’t work. So I’ve put together some clear-eyed advice about what DOES work (and I’m speaking from personal experience here).

Oh, and if you’d really like to talk this week (and I don’t blame you) I have EIGHT open tax-planning sessions. But I urge you to move quickly, as they’re going quickly. Send me a quick email, or call: (414) 545-1890 to grab one.

On to making your advertising better…

Dale Hammernik Reveals 3 Common Advertising Mistakes
“The great accomplishments of man have resulted from the transmission of ideas of enthusiasm.” – Thomas J Watson

Whether you create most of your sales through referrals, through direct marketing, or with a dedicated sales force–there’s some common mistakes I’ve seen which are destined to suck the life out of your sales process.

Starting this week, I’ll be sharing a series of them so that you can FIX them, if you discover you’re making them. As we move through summer (a typically “slow” season for many businesses), it’s the perfect time to evaluate your marketing processes…and plug the holes.

So, here’s a start…

1. Failure To Tell Your Story
One of the simplest mistakes many marketers or sales professionals make happens long before they set out to make a sale: they don’t settle into the clear, *unique* story behind their service or product.

I’m not referring to an “origins” story (though that’s often pertinent), but rather–what’s the MAIN message nobody else is telling? Or just as good–what’s the story that sets you apart from your competitors?

This is often called the “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP), and it’s essentially: “Why you?”

Ask yourself…if you had five seconds to sum it all up, and you had to close the deal on the spot…what would you say?

When the answer to that little thought experiment is enough to complete a sale, you’re good.

2. Right Product, Wrong Market?
This one isn’t always something you can control, but every business owner should get feedback from their customers/clients about this.

Is your proposed customer base actually interested in the item or service you’re wanting to provide? You could be selling the best darn carpet cleaning service in Waukesha County…but what if everyone’s got hardwood floors?

So…before you launch that new service or product, do some *basic* research: Are there other businesses in the Waukesha County area successfully selling a similar product or service? Despite your fears–that’s a GOOD sign, because it means you won’t have to carve out some kind of unique niche.

It seems, though, that many business owners pursue the “holy grail” of a totally unique offering…and forgetting that it’s probably unique for a reason.

Similarly, many business owners come to the market with what THEY want to sell…and don’t give any serious thought or research into whether it’s something which folks want badly enough to fork over their wallets for it.

3. Right Market, Wrong Problem?
Let’s assume, at this step, you’ve got the right target market. And you’ve got enough of them in one place that you’ll be able to sell something effectively.

But still, the product or service fails. What happened?

The next thing you have to ask is if you’ve really got your finger on the DESIRES of your targets…not just their NEEDS.

Are you really speaking to the element they care about most? Or are you just pitching to the things you *think* the prospect should care about? Surprisingly, those two factors may not be the same thing.

If you think this might be a trouble spot, the next step is to go where those prospects congregate and listen. Ask questions. Take notes. What online forums do they read, and what do they write about within them? What other products do your prospects use, and in response to what sales pitches?

What grabs their attention in the headlines? What do they whisper about at cocktail parties and around the cooler? When they lie awake at night, what do they worry about?

Get the answers to THESE questions, and your sales pitch is practically written for you.

Again, I don’t pretend to be a “guru” … I just see what works, and I pass it on.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County 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, at Hammernik & Associates we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County 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

Hammernik & Associates