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   Articles By Diana L. Garren

 

 

Top 10 Keys to Maintaining the Business You Built

Maintaining a business requires a lot of work to gain new clients and more importantly to retain current clients. Retention takes keeping your name in front of your current clients. However, many entrepreneurs are so busy in the day-to-day operation of their business that they delay or neglect putting a plan in place to keep their company name in front of their current clients. This inaction threatens the longevity of the business, especially in a tough economy when the pool of business is shrinking and the competition is more aggressive.

Constant contact, follow-up, and follow-through with customers, prospects, and business alliances should be the mantra of every business owner. Constant and consistent follow-up enables you to turn prospects into customers, increase the value of each sale, boost buying frequency from existing customers, and build stronger business relationships with suppliers and your core business team. Follow-up is especially important with your existing customer base, as the real work begins after the sale. It's easy to sell one service, but it takes work to retain customers and keep them coming back.

Here are ten key practices for maintaining the business you have built:

Key #1- Love what you do.

Do you love Monday mornings? Are you excited about the opportunities that will come your way in the next week? Are you filled with new ideas? Do you take time to work “on” your business, instead of just “in” it? Doing these things ignites creativity and new ideas for your business. Loving what you do keeps you and your business fresh and moving forward.

Key #2- Believe in the purpose of your business.

You must truly believe in your business and the services you provide.  You must take your business seriously and treat it as a business, not a hobby.

It is difficult to sustain a high level of excitement about anything for any extended period of time. Eventually the “honeymoon effect” wears off, enthusiasm wanes as fatigue sets in. In order to refresh your excitement about your business, you need to remind yourself frequently –preferably on a daily basis – why you started your business. Remind yourself what you are working towards and check to see how you are progressing toward your own goals.

Staying in touch with your goals and accomplishments will remind you of why you want to accomplish them. There is a certain feeling that goal attainment will bring, and you want that feeling. Find a way to remind yourself daily of what feelings you are trying to bring into your life.

Key #3- Take the time to master your trade.

Strive to be the best you can be. Invest the time necessary to become an expert in your field. Take classes, read books from some of the greatest names in your business. Study what they do and then apply it to your own business. Becoming a great business owner takes time and a commitment to learning and to change. It is a never-ending process, but one that is worth the effort. The more you become known for your expertise in your business, the more people will seek you out to tap into your expertise, creating more selling and referral opportunities.

Key #4 Seize Opportunities.

Look for and seize every opportunity to grow your business and maintain your current clients. The more action you take, the more rewards you’ll reap. Don’t allow your business to become stagnant or you will burnout and open a door for your competition to steal your clientele.

If you set a point in the future when you will deem yourself as having achieved the success you desire, you have already limited the energy you will invest, and you will start to decrease your efforts when it comes time to maintain your business. It is critical to pretend that every action you take is your one single opportunity to succeed, and give that action the attention and the effort you would give it if that were actually the case.

Try new ideas. Whenever an idea comes to mind, write it down. Log all new ideas in a notebook, on your phone or on your computer. New ideas will help move your business forward and keep you excited.

Have a competitive advantage. You must have a clearly defined unique selling proposition. This is nothing more than a fancy way of asking the vital question, "Why will people choose to do business with you or purchase your service instead of doing business with a competitor and buying his service?" You need to identify what aspect or aspects separate your business from your competition. Is it better service, availability, longer business hours, more flexible payment options, value added, personalized service, better customer service or a combination of several of these?

Sell and promote your business. You will not be found sitting comfortably behind your desk. Remember that nothing happens until a sale is made. Sell the benefits of your service, not your services. Focus on finding the need of the consumer and then filling that need. Care about the consumer. Do not oversell or try to sell people what they do not need. You must learn the skills of negotiation and asking for the sale. Mastering the art of negotiation means that your skills are so finely tuned that you can always orchestrate a win-win situation. These win-win arrangements mean that everyone involved feels they have won, which is really the basis for building long-term and profitable business relationships. If you absolutely cannot sell, then you need to hire someone to sell for you.

Market your business. The more you position yourself as an expert in your field, and more you market your company, the more revenue you will generate. You need to market your business all the time. Your advertising, sales presentations, printed marketing materials, packaging, website, newsletters, trade show exhibit and signage are vital. Every time and every medium used to communicate with your target audience must always be selling the benefits associated with using your service.

Read. Read business and marketing books, magazines, reports, journals, newsletters, websites and industry publications to improve your understanding of business and marketing functions and skills.

Write. Writing is a wonderful marketing tool to gain new clients and retain current clients. Write a blog, articles for a newsletter or magazine or a book.

Speak. Speaking allows you to meet prospective clients and gives you and your business exposure. Speaking will also help you to better communicate with your clients.

Join Associations. Join business associations and clubs to network with other skilled business people to learn their secrets of success and help define your own goals and objectives.

Attend business and marketing seminars, workshops and training courses. Business training is on ongoing process. Even if you have already mastered the subject matter of the event, go anyway because there are usually ways to do things better, in less time, with less effort. Never stop investing in the most powerful, effective and best business and marketing tool at your immediate disposal--you.

Key #5 It is ALL about the CLIENT.

You must know who your clients are, what their needs are, what is important to them and how to reach them. Your business is not about the services you sell, the price you charge for your services or your competition and how to beat them. Your business is all about your clients, period. Everything you do in business must be client focused, including your policies, payment options, operating hours, presentations, advertising and promotional campaigns, newsletters and website. Personalize your service to meet their needs.

Key #6 Provide great customer service.

Answer your phone, get to know your clients, provide personal attention and win over repeat business by doing so. It's a researched fact that most business (80 percent) will come from repeat customers rather than new customers.

Do what you say you will do. Go above and beyond. Provide customer service that your clients will remember. If you have voice mail, put a policy in place that calls will be returned within an hour, and then make sure they are. Clients will not only remember this, but they will know that you are serious about serving them and about your business. The more you can do to woo your regular customers, the better off you will be in the long run, and personalized attention is very much appreciated and remembered in our modern high tech world.

Key #7- Build a rock-solid reputation and project a positive business image.

You have one opportunity to make a positive and memorable impression on people with whom you intend to do business. You must go out of your way and make a conscious effort to always project the most professional business image possible. Be creative and be sure to pay attention to the smallest detail when creating and maintaining a professional image for your business.

A good reputation is unquestionably one of the most tangible and marketable assets a business owns. Be consistent. If you cannot come through with the same level of service for clients on a regular basis, they have no reason to trust you . . . and without trust, you won't have a good reputation. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.

Key #8- Focus on the goal, regardless of the circumstances.

A lack of focus on a defined goal renders sub-par results. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted. Use your “peripheral vision” to adjust your course of action, but never take a completely different road because something unexpected happens. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Key #9- Overcome All Obstacles.

Expect things to go wrong, because they will. Expect to try things that do not produce the results you want. Your reaction to both successes and failures will determine whether or not your business succeeds.

If you “roll with the punches” as unexpected things happen, and get back up with a smile on your face, ready to face the next challenge, then every challenge you face will become something that can be overcome.

Key #10- Know when enough is enough

Most business owners tackle as much as they can handle in their business. The habit of multitasking is common to successful entrepreneurs. However, you cannot do everything and do it effectively. Stand back and take a hard look beyond today to determine what's in the best interest of your business and yourself over the long run. Work to your strengths, delegate the rest.

It is critical to your well being to establish a regular work schedule that includes time to stretch your legs and take lunch breaks, plus some days off and scheduled vacations. Create the schedule as soon as you can and stick to it as closely as possible. Don’t schedule every hour; leave a buffer of an hour or two. This will give you time to “put out the fires” that will inevitably start.

All work and no play will burn you out and result in a poor work product and poor customer service.

Let True Perceptions help you develop strategies that will help you gain new clients while retaining your current clients. Call us today at 678-583-0401 or email us.

 

Are Your Current Business Practices Compromising Your Financial Future?

Many investigative agencies, security companies and attorneys unintentionally compromise their financial future by accepting any business that comes their way, whether or not they have the required experience to effectively do the work. This practice is rooted in fear, and fear is a dangerous business motivator. A company or law firm that operates out of fear is vulnerable to making business decisions that can compromise their financial future.

Some of this fear stems from the current U.S. and global economy. It is true that the marketplace is shrinking because businesses and law firms are downsizing and going out of business. A corollary reduction in personal spendable income due to loss of jobs, and decreases in other avenues of income such as 401K’s, stocks and the equity left in homes, combine to create a climate of fear among business owners. Although very real, this fear is not the primary reason companies and attorneys accept any business that comes their way.  

The primary reason is that for many years, referrals and contract work comprised the majority of business for investigative firms, security companies and attorneys. When work came in that was outside the specialty of the company or firm, the work was sent to cohorts in their professional network. Work was given and received in this manner, which created a steady source of work from other professionals in the field. Many attorneys and investigative and security professionals learned to depend on the network for business, instead of learning to generate business through effective sales and marketing.

Now and in the future referrals and contract work will get less and less, which makes sales and marketing a necessary, not an option.  Yet, many businesses and law firms have not developed the sales and marketing skills and strategies needed to survive in tough times. Faced with the fear of not knowing when more work will come in their door, and lacking the skill to generate more business, companies and firms succumb to accepting any business that comes to the door.

The Greatest Dangers of this Poor Business Practice:

  1. Whenever a business or attorney attempts to provide a service that is not in their realm of expertise it is very costly in time to research and learn how to do the job.
  2. If the job done for the client is not done properly it will likely decrease the company or firm’s credibility and reputation in the already hyper-competitive marketplace. At best, this is extremely costly to fix; at worst, it is unfixable. 
  3. Once a company or firm loses its credibility and reputation, it is only a matter of time before the business or law firm closes its doors.

You can see there are no short cuts in business. One bad business practice can snowball and compromise your businesses entire financial future.

If the business practice I described today applies to you, do not wait to make changes. If you are not proficient at generating business for your company, our second article is a must read. In our second article we have provided solutions to replace this dangerous business practice with healthy practices that allow you to effectively generate your own business and secure the financial future of your business.

 

How to Generate New Business

Statistically 53% of all business failures are attributed to lack of sales. It makes sense. If a company lacks sales, it also lacks clients. Without clients, there is no revenue, and a business without revenue is a business that will be forced to close its doors.

This is an obvious equation, so why do so many businesses fail to gain or retain clients? Because many business owners are technicians, not sales people. They are skilled at doing a specific job, but they do not know how to run a business or makes sales. In a strong economy business can hold steady or grow through referrals and contract work. However, any significant weakening of the economy leaves these businesses at risk of failure and with no clear plan to remain viable.

We want to help you start selling today. Below we offer you three ways for you to implement a sales program and insight into the 10 steps of a successful sales process.

  1. Master the art of selling and be the person who sells for your agency or law firm.
  2. Hire a sales person who does the selling for your company or firm.
  3. Hire an experienced company, familiar with your target market and your services, to make the sales calls and set up appointments for you.

Sales Process:

  1. Identify the features and benefits of your service. Remember, people do not buy services, they buy benefits.
  2. Identify your target market (must be very specific). If you try to sell to everyone, you will sell to no  one.
  3. Identify the need of your target market and the solution you provide them.
  4. Develop a leads list that is very specific to the criteria of your market. One of the key words in sales is “qualified”.  Making a phone call or going to an appointment with someone who has no need for your service is a waste of time and money and will not create results.
  5. Develop a phone sales script.
  6. Develop a sales presentation.
  7. Make sure you have a professional website, brochure and leave-behind packet or brochure.
  8. Use the phone to set up appointments with qualified prospects.
  9. Give a winning sales presentation that includes building rapport, establishing of trust, development of credibility, enthusiasm, asking the right questions to learn their needs, listening, qualifying the opportunity (for both parties), discovering their hot buttons (what’s in it for them), addressing objections, seeking additional opportunities to serve & sell, evaluating responses & results (positive/ negative), planning next action steps, confirming understanding, asking for the sale, closing the sale, affirming decisions (minimizing buyer’s remorse) and asking for referrals.
  10.  Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.

As you can see, to be effective at sales it requires a specific process and skill set. It is an art, and the art of sales can be learned, but it takes time and practice. If you do not have the time or interest to learn how to sell or need sales scripts written or a sales person trained, call True Perceptions at 678-583-0401. We can help. We have over 28 years experience in sales. We can help you develop the system you need to succeed, and we have a sales force that will use their years of experience to set up appointments for you. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

How to Be More Than a Commodity

Adding value elevates your service beyond the status of a commodity. A commodity is easily replaced at a cheaper price, but added value is hard for a client to replace and most are willing to pay for the value. Creating added value requires thinking outside the box and developing procedures and systems to consistently deliver the added value you promised.

How can you add value to your services? You first need to identify what your clients perceive as added value and what makes you better at providing it than your competition.  Remember, if you are going to charge a higher price than the competitors, you must provide enough value and benefit for consumers to justify the higher cost.

To increase your added value you need to utilize all five of the added value levers below.

  1. Benefits – How well you will solve the needs, wants and problems of your market.
    To create added value through benefits, you must identify the needs, wants and problems of your market. Then you must create the solutions to solve those needs, wants and problems. Lastly, you must articulate the solutions as benefits that speak to your market. Remember, people do not buy services, nor does a service by itself add value.

  2. Customer Service – The level of customer service and customer care you provide, and how the consumer is made to feel.
    Great customer service and customer care will go a long way. The consumer will pay more for something if it means less work and headache for them. Remember that building a business, a client base and a customer service program is always much easier than maintaining them. You must create procedures and systems that will ensure you consistently deliver the quality you promised.

    The greatest value a company can add is to make their clients feel special and important. Be creative and think of extra things you can do to make your clients feel special, valued and important. Take the risk of being different. Different will add to your success. Whatever way you decide to add value, do it consistently. 

  3. Additional Services – Additional services that complement your core service.
    You need to know your cores service and the benefits it provides as well as what your competition provides. Identify additional services you can add to your core service that have great meaning to your clients without costing a lot of time and expense for you. For example, you may guarantee that all phone calls will be returned within the hour. This has great added value to the client. Why? They have called you because they want to talk to you. They have some urgency. Is it difficult to consistently return phone calls within the hour?  Yes, but if you are creative, you will find a way to make it happen.

  4. Excellent Work Product – Include a signature of excellence with everything you do.
    You can conduct the best investigation ever, but if it is not followed up by a well written report in a timely manner, it has lost value. Take the time to learn how you can do it better and faster.

  5. Perception - Ultimately the only thing that really matters is your customer's perceptions. The four added value items above only add value if they positively influence your customers' perceptions. It is critical for you to tap into your market and provide added value that has meaning to your customers. As we say here at True Perceptions, “Perception Creates Reality®”. The client’s perception becomes reality for both you and your clients.

    Perceptions can be managed with proper strategy, work and follow-through.

Caution:

  1. You cannot charge a higher price because of added value and then not provide the added value or provide it in inconsistently manner.

  2. Keep in mind that whatever you put into place, you need to be able to continue it as you grow. This will take strategy, procedures, systems and quality control.

If you want to learn more about added value and how you can add it to your services, please call True Perceptions, Inc. at 678-583-0401.

 

 

Pricing Strategies to Thrive in a Down Economy


In order to thrive in these tough economic times you are forced to make tough decisions and develop effective strategies to turnaround decreasing profits and reduced sales. While sales prices, gimmick promotions, and free giveaways might create some business, it will only be short-term and can cause long-term damage to your company’s financial stability, image and brand.

Pricing your services during an economic downturn or recession can be tricky and even dangerous, but the survival of your business both during and after the recession depends greatly on your pricing. It is critical that you put considerable thought into developing a smart strategy for pricing your services. The wrong pricing can put your business under and the right pricing will help your business compete and even thrive during difficult economic times and beyond.

What you need to remember is that pricing on value instead of on cost, competition, or frugal customers, can reap the larges benefits for your business.

Don’t Lower Your Price

During a recession some current clients will look for a cheaper price or even threaten to give their business to your competitors. Do not panic and drop your price in hopes of retaining this client or gaining new ones. This decision might create an increase in revenue, but it will only be short-term, and it might create a bidding war between you and your competitors that can devastate your future. Even if you keep a client and gain new clients, you will be so far beneath your profit margin that the financial stability of your business could be put at risk. Do you really want to set such a dangerous precedent with a client? Instead of lowering your price, remind your client and your market that your service has value. Let them know that in order to get a lower price they will need to give up a part of the service you provide, then ask them what part of the service they do not want.  Remind them that a lower priced competitor will not deliver the same service they enjoy with your company and may actually cost them more in money and/or reputation in the long run. The phrase, “you get what you pay for” is still applicable in a down economy.

Don’t Ruin Your Brand

Your ability to maintain your brand is critical to the long-term success of your business. It is your brand that has instilled confidence in your service, and created long-term clients for your business. You cannot afford to destroy the brand you took years to develop. If your clients see you dropping your prices, they will start to doubt the value of your services and the financial condition of your company, even if nothing else has changed. Everything is about perception. In the eyes of your clients, if the price of your service drops, your brand looses value. As long as your services have value you can keep your prices where they are. If you provide additional value, you can even raise your prices. Be sure to provide your clients a detailed description of the value and benefits of your services, and they’ll remember why they started working with you in the first place and will not leave.

Pricing of High and Low Demand Services 

It is in your best interest to maintain the price of services that are in high demand. However, if you want to extend a carrot or create good will, you can lower the price of one of your lower demand services and build a campaign that lets your clients know you are trying to help them through the recession. Whether or not they take advantage of your offer, it will create a positive perception of your business in your clients’ eyes. Keep in mind that reducing the price of a service also reduces the value of the service in your clients’ eyes. Remember, the client who wants a cheaper price will find a cheaper alternative no matter what you do, but your loyal customers, those who expect your high level of service and see your value, will not go anywhere.

Fix Pricing the Hard Way

Make pricing a priority. Don’t let a client force you into a bad pricing decision. Take charge with a careful look at your pricing structure; see how each piece of the puzzle fits together and find where you can squeeze out more profit. Review everything about each of your services and carefully calculate your costs. Set new sales standards for your sales force. If you do not have a sales force, get one. Either build your own sales force or hire a company who will set up new client meetings for you. Figure out where money is being lost and cut costs by trimming production costs, cutting back on any expansion projects, and slashing nonessential perks.

If They’re Going to Go, Let Them

If a client says they’re going to take their business elsewhere when you can’t produce lower prices, let them go. It is far more important to keep your loyal clients and attract new clients than it is to jeopardize your business to cater to a demanding client who will likely leave anyway. You can always develop a client loyalty program that will help you retain your client base and attract new clients.

Must Do’s When Bringing in New Clients

When bringing in new clients keep prices high and ask a lot of questions to learn what they perceive as value, what they want and what your competitor did wrong. This will help you know to provide what they want and retain them as long-term clients. It will also help you to not make the same mistakes your competition made.

Keep in mind that during a recession, your profit margins and overall revenues are not going to be as good as they were prior to the recession, or maybe not even as good as last year. But not cutting prices just to survive today will help you create a recession-proof service, keep your good clients and continue to build your client base.  If you can keep your customers happy and retain the level of value and service your customers expect, you and your company will continue to thrive long during and after the recession.

If you need help with pricing, developing a client loyalty program or have pricing questions please call the experts at True Perceptions. We can be reached at 678-583-0401.

 

What Is Your Exit Strategy?

Most entrepreneurs open a business to make money, however, 80% of businesses not only fail to make money, they fail completely within the first two years. One of the primary reasons for this high percentage of failure is that many entrepreneurs do not thoroughly think through a business strategy and plan the business from beginning to end. In fact, of the 20% of businesses that do succeed past the two year threshold, many are functioning without a formal exit strategy.  Is yours one of them?

What is an exit strategy?
An exit strategy is a formal plan for you to walk away from your business. A great exit strategy will pay you enough money that you do not have to continue to work unless you want to.

If you haven’t taken the time to think about and plan your exit strategy, today is the day to educate yourself about exit strategy options and consider the best exit strategy for your business.  When making your decision be sure to consider the economy and the viability of your business and the market it serves.

What are the benefits of an exit strategy?

  • Allows you to have a plan in place that you can execute if someone in your business becomes injured, disabled or killed. 
  • Allows you to stop losses that may never be recouped if your business doesn’t reach profitability, or goes from a state of profitability to unprofitability.
  • Allows you to retire on your terms and with enough money to enjoy your retirement.

Exit Strategy Options:

Sell
You can sell your business to another entrepreneur or a larger company. To do this your company will have to have perceived value. Value is created by developing a good company reputation, a book of business, intellectual property, tangible and intangible assets and a turn-key operation.  

Tip: If your business success revolves around your personal name and your personal involvement in doing the work, it has little to no value to prospective buyers who would continue the business without you on board.

Pass Down to Family
You can pass your business down to your family. If you choose to do this it would be wise to build a financial plan into the agreement that will continue to pay you after you step down.

Tip: This transition should start to take place at least a couple of years prior to you stepping down.

Go Public
You can sell the company shares in a public offering. This generates the largest payoff, but it is also the most expensive.

Tip: Your company must be large enough to justify a public offering.

Close the Doors
You can just close the doors. If this is your choice it would be wise to pay yourself a large salary and bonuses and invest this money somewhere else.

Tip: This may produce high taxes.

Once you choose the right exit strategy for your business, you then need to create your plan and start taking the necessary steps to successfully exit your business.  If you need help, the team at True Perceptions is here to assist you. Call us today at 678-583-0401 for a FREE one-hour phone consultation.

 

The Final Curtain of Your Business Will Close. Are You Ready?

What do you want to happen to your business when you are “done” with it?  Do you want to pass it down to your children? Do you plan to sell it? Are you going to drain your business dry and then close it, or do you want to take it public?

The time to think about the end of your business is before the end arrives. You have much planning and preparation to complete in order to “end” the way you want to. Now is the time to stop, think about what you want and then plan and prepare for the outcome you desire. Don’t leave this important phase of your business to chance. Below you will find our suggestions for what you should ask yourself when planning your final curtain call.

If you want to pass your business down to your children:

  • Do you have policies, procedures and systems in place that will allow your children to do what you do? If not, these need to be written ahead of time.
  • Do your clients do business with your company because of your name and personal reputation? If so, you need to take steps to broaden their loyalty to your business rather than your person, otherwise the business you currently have may well leave when you leave.
  • Do your children have the skill sets needed to take over your business? If not, you need to identify and remediate any gaps in their skills.

If you plan to sell your business:

  • Does your company have the necessary policies, procedures and systems in place to operate as a turnkey enterprise? If not, much work needs to be done to create value for prospective buyers and a higher sale price for your business.
  • Do your clients do business with your company because of your name and personal reputation? If so, you need to take steps to broaden their loyalty to your business rather than your person, otherwise the business you currently have may well leave when you leave, and there goes the value you have to offer prospective buyers.
  • Is your book of business and revenue large enough to attract and entice prospective buyers? If not, you need to grow your client base.
  • Do you have intellectual property to add value to the sale price of your business? If not, can you develop intellectual property?

If you expect to close your business:

  • Are you bringing in enough revenue to pay yourself a large salary and bonuses? If not, there are many things you need to assess and change to be able to retire comfortably when you close the final curtain.

If you want to take your company public:

  • You have to show that your company is earning revenue, or if not earning revenue, show that it is a real business with one or more employees working fulltime in the business. Your company should be incorporated and have bank account auditable financial records.
  • Your company can obtain no less than 40 shareholders.
  • The non-insider shareholders (excluding management) must have purchased a minimum of 400,000 shares of the company's stock that can be registered with the SEC as the "float" when the company is listed and publicly trading. E.g., 40 shareholders pay $2,000 each and buy shares at 20 cents so they get 10,000 shares each. Those 10,000 shares x 40 shareholders equals 400,000 total shares or $80,000 which in most cases will cover the entire cost of going public.
  • You will need to hire an auditor and obtain an SEC qualified audit.
  • From the time the audit is complete and the registration statement is filed by H2GO, it will take at least 60 days for the company to become public with a stock symbol. Sometimes it can take up to six months if the SEC has a lot of questions about the history of the company or other items contained in the registration statement or audit. Once the company is cleared by the SEC (referred to as "going effective") it needs to be approved by FINRA (Financial Regulatory Authority). That process takes about 30 days, and the company needs to be sponsored by a Market Maker (MM).  
  • Once a company has its stock ticker symbol it can proceed to arrange various different funding programs that are not available to private companies. PIPE funding (Private Investment in Public Equity) is a funding source that may include a line of credit of up to $10 million to help a new public company get started.

If you are not sure what you want to do when your final curtain closes or you need help to assess, plan and prepare your exit strategy, call the team at True Perceptions at 678-583-0401 for a FREE one-hour phone consultation. We will help you put the right plan in place to achieve a successful exit from your business.

 

Unleash the Power of the Press Release

If you want to take your business to the next level, a well-written, well-distributed press release is one of your most valuable marketing tools. Targeted press releases will benefit your business more than any traditional form of advertising. Why? Because the consumer mind is saturated with advertising; it is everywhere, all the time, and as a result, consumers have gotten very good at “tuning out” traditional advertising. A press release, on the other hand, is news. The media derive their news from press releases and your potential customers receive it as news.

Most people pay more attention and attribute a higher level of credibility to news than to traditional advertising. And a bonus – a press release is a much more cost effective way to reach your target market. Besides putting your business in the front of the consumer mind, press releases are powerful SEO tools, which can make it easier for potential customers to find you online. We have seen that most businesses either overlook or underestimate the power of the press release. Harnessing this publicity power house automatically puts you ahead of the competition.

So, is your business news worthy? Do you have anything to release to the press? Absolutely! Take a cue from the giant corporations and use press releases to announce:

  • Formation of a new partnership or division
  • Corporate citizenship or community involvement
  • Launch of a new product, service or capability
  • Company anniversary or milestone
  • Recent awards, certifications, publications, or recognitions
  • Availability of professional training courses
  • Significant hiring and promotions

The two keys to gaining new business from press releases are quality of content and quality of distribution. First a few words about the quality of content. A press release is by nature a quick hit, designed to grab the media attention and easily convert to a news story. Press release writing is a craft, and we have the writing talent on board to deliver press releases with punch for you. Each of our professionally written press releases leads with a clear and engaging headline followed by a concise, creative body written in news/journalistic style. Our experienced writers weave relevant quotes and customer benefits through the content to create a news pitch that sells your business without sounding “sales-y”. We end each press release with a clear call to action and complete contact information. We give potential customers the reasons, the motivation, and the ability to contact you.

We know firsthand the power of a press release to build name recognition and generate interest in your company without delivering an overt sales message. Do you want to reach more potential customers and gain more of your market share? Then contact True Perceptions, Inc. at 678-583-0401 and let us put the power of the press release to work for your business.

Click here to read our second article to learn the impact of press release distribution on your business. 

 

Get the Word Out About Your Business

If you are going to make the smart investment in press release services, it is absolutely essential that you make a similarly smart investment in press release marketing. Why? For the same reason it is so important for you to show up for work every day; because people are motivated to action by repeated exposure to a motivator. In the case of your business, you are that motivator for your employees, and your sales and marketing efforts are the motivators for your customers and potential customers. Maybe nothing would slip if you skipped a day of work. Maybe two days. But each day you miss with your employees and customers weakens your influence and message and presence in their minds. It makes it easier for someone and something else to attract their attention.

Most failed businesses don’t fail overnight. They fail because of a gradual erosion of market presence. It is neither realistic nor desirable for you to be with your customers and potential customers day and night, 24/7, but properly marketed press releases can keep you on the front page of their minds.  That is where you need to be in order to gain new customers and expand your business within your current customer base.

Properly marketed press releases reinforce your reputation with your existing customers. Seeing and hearing about you in the news promotes confidence in you and in their decision to do business with you. A press release is a fantastic tool for reaching potential customers as long as it reaches the potential customers you want to reach.  Therein lies the art and science of press release marketing. At True Perceptions, we have the expertise to target your news appropriately – where it will benefit your business the most by reaching the customers you want to bring on board.

Here is what our press release marketing services can do for you:

  • Engage the media attention
  • Capture the attention of potential customers and motivate them to contact you
  • Increase your position on internet search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.)
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Build your reputation as an expert
  • Repeatedly put your business in the public eye

Our press release marketing services do more than reach your customers. We reach the media your customers pay attention to, whether print, internet, radio or television. Our press releases can be a springboard for you to gain trade industry interviews or feature articles about your business. Do you know that the day and time a press release is sent out has a significant impact on whether or not it is picked up and distributed by the media? We do! Do you know that different media have different specification regarding what they do and do not consider newsworthy? We do! At True Perceptions, Inc., we know the best days, times, and outlets for press release distribution, regardless of industry. We use our professional contacts to maximize the impact of your news.

Why do your customers do business with you? Because you are great at what you do, and they trust you to do the best job for them. True Perceptions, Inc. is great at marketing press releases, and you can trust us to do the best job for you! For more information call us at 678-583-0401.

 

The Myths and Truths about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

I am sure you have heard the words “Search Engine Optimization” or “SEO”. You might be doing some SEO for yourself or utilizing a company to provide this service for you.  The rest of you have probably been solicited concerning SEO. What exactly is SEO? It is Web-based marketing that done properly, can increase traffic to your website, generate more leads and create more sales opportunities, and increase your revenue and profitability.

If you know anything about True Perceptions, you know two things:

  1. Everything we do is done around your target market. If you do not reach your market you will NOT have a ROI and will have wasted your money. We are about saving our clients money and making them profitable.

  2. We always look at the complete picture. Successful marketing begins with identifying strategic steps that lead to the goal. Let’s take a look at a five step strategy that will create the best possible results for your SEO efforts.

Step #1: Know Your Target Market.

When it comes to sales and marketing everything you do MUST be about your market! Before you spend money or time on SEO you must first identify your target markets. You need to learn which segment of your market actually utilizes the Web to find the services you provide, identify the geographical area from which you want clients, identify the benefits your service provides to your market, and determine the most compelling call of action.

Tip: If you skip any of these steps you will never know the power of SEO as a marketing tool for your business.

Step #2: Have a Professional, High-Conversion Website.

A high-conversion website increases the probabilities of a phone call or email once a visitor is on your website. A high-conversion website is one that is clean, professional, and user-friendly. It has well written and organized content, speaks directly to your market’s needs, provides benefits, creates a call to action, and has the right key words in the text for search engine spiders to find. Why? If you spend the money on SEO and if you do not have a high conversion website, your SEO efforts will generate very few leads and will usually attract people who are price shopping and have little money to spend. This will cost you money and not do you much good!

Tip: Remember, not every client is a desirable or profitable client.

Step #3: Know the Difference Between Pay-Per-Click and Organic SEO.

What is Organic Search Engine Optimization?
Google is organic. A user types a search term into the Google search box and Google searches its gigantic index of “known” Web pages to return the most relevant Web pages for the user’s search term. The important word here is “known”. These search results are called organic search results because no company or individual can buy the top listing; the top listing is assigned to the Web page that demonstrates the most relevance to the search term.  That relevance is largely determined by SEO.

Tip: For Google to find your Website it has to be “known” and they change the game on a daily basis, making effective SEO a full time job.  

What is Pay-Per Click (PPC)?

Google AdWords is an example of a PPC advertising system.  In this system, anyone can bid to have their ad appear next to the organic search results for specific keywords.  Google currently shows these sponsored ads on the side and (usually) the top of the organic results:

Generally speaking, the more you bid for a keyword, the higher your ad will appear on the page.  The “pay per click” format is what makes this model so popular. An advertiser only pays if someone actually clicks on their ad and visits their website.  Now for the downside. This can become very expensive, especially if you have a competitor who wants you out of business. They could have someone click your ad and website for hours every day, simply to cost you money. Also, when bidding on these keywords yourself, how do you know which keywords your market uses when searching for your type of service? Paying for the wrong keywords while you are trying to learn the right ones can be very costly.

Tip: Keep in mind you are a business owner, not a marketer. Your profit comes from you working on your core business, not trying to learn how to market your business. Don’t let marketing distract you from what you do best!

How Will This Knowledge Help You?

Most successful businesspeople are too busy with their core business to concern themselves with Internet marketing.   But you wouldn’t buy a car without at least checking the make and model, the miles, etc., and you need to know the basic difference between PPC and organic search optimization (SEO).  If you don’t, many web marketing companies are going to decide for you, and they’ll probably choose the method that’s most profitable for them, not necessarily the one that is best for your business. Many Web designers design without consideration for SEO, and many SEO companies do not take the time to really understand your market or make sure you have everything in place to achieve the greatest ROI. An SEO company might not really know the SEO business well enough, may not have the manpower dedicated to the daily tedious work it takes to keep up with the changes and generate results, or they may simply not care enough to spend the time.

Tip: The knowledgeable consumer can ask the right questions and make better business decisions.

How to Decide Between Organic Search and PPC

Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each method, then weigh your current financial situation and long-term business goals to make an informed decision about which advertising method is right for you. 

Advantages of Pay-Per-Click Advertising
  • Nearly Instant Traffic – Your ads will often start showing within about ten minutes of setting up a PPC campaign. 
  • Laser Targeting – You can monitor the keywords that bring visitors that actually convert and which don’t.  Then you can focus your ad spending on the highest converting keywords. (However, this can be a costly learning curve.)
  • Powerful Money-Making Tool – If you could spend a dollar to make two dollars, how many dollars would you spend?  That’s exactly how a “well optimized” PPC campaign works. 
Disadvantages of Pay-Per-Click Advertising
  • Every Visitor Costs Money – You pay for every visitor that comes to your website.
  • A High-Converting Website is Critical – A good PPC campaign can drive lots of targeted traffic to your website, but if your website doesn’t convince those visitors to convert, it’s all wasted money. 
  • Competition is Growing – Competition for those top 10 ad spots grows every day.  Over time this will drive up the cost per click.
  • Your Company Leaves the First Page of Google When You Stop Paying – You only receive visitors to your website as long as you continue paying. Once you stop paying, your website will not be easily found again.
Advantages of Organic Search
  • Don’t Pay for Every Visitor That Visits Your Website – Visitors that find you through organic search results do not drive up your cost, so they provide a higher ROI.
  • More Clicks – More searchers click in the organic search results than the PPC ads, so a #1 ranking in organic will bring you more targeted traffic than paying for #1 placement via PPC.
  • More Trust – Most searchers trust Google, and when they see that Google considers your website the #1 authority for their search term, most will inherently trust you as well, making it easier to convert those visitors into customers. You are seen as a subject matter expert.
  •  Less Long Term Financial Investment – The investment in an organic search campaign depends greatly on the competitiveness in your industry.  It’s important to think of it as a long term investment.  You won’t see immediate results, but by investing a little money each month, you can gradually build your website up to attract free targeted traffic.

Disadvantages of Organic Search

  • Ranking Takes Time –Depending on how competitive your market is, it takes a couple weeks to a couple months to see a noticeable increase of traffic to your website.
  • Requires Investment in Your website – You’ll need to improve your website to achieve good organic rankings.  Your website will need to be full of good content that is useful to your visitors and portrays your company as the authority on the topic.  However, if done properly, the prospects who contact you will be viable prospects with money to spend.

Step #4: Develop a Comprehensive Marketing Strategy That Fits Your Current Financial Situation and Long-Term Goals.

The ultimate marketing strategy is usually a balance of both PPC and organic search.  You can use PPC to drive traffic to your website, while gradually building organic search rankings.  As your website starts to rank highly for certain keywords in organic search, you may decide to stop bidding on those keywords on the PPC side and continue with just organic SEO. What you build organically will not go away, but will have to be updated and maintained. This is much less expensive than PPC.
 In the end, no single advertising method is perfect for every business.  It all depends on the service you provide, your target market, the urgency to get sales, the amount you're willing to invest in your website and your long-term goals for both your website and your business. 

Tip: Marketing without a strategy that best fits YOUR business will surely waste YOUR money.

Step #5: Have a Sales Presentation That Turns Callers Into Clients.

Regardless of how people find you, it is what you do once you are in communication with them that either turns them into clients or not. Without this skill-set, everything else you do is a waste of money. Most people try to sell what they have instead of learning the needs of the person calling. This is a COSTLY mistake.  Every company must have an “effective” sales script and be able to deliver it without it appearing scripted.  

Tip: People buy “benefits”, not “services”.

Not every marketing tool or strategy fits every business or market. Do your homework to be sure you are investing your marketing dollars wisely. Whatever your situation and need is, True Perceptions, Inc.® can customize a Web-based marketing strategy and provide you the proper tools to drive traffic to your website AND turn those visitors into business.  To learn how, be sure to read our second article, Using SEO to Drive Your Business.

 

Using SEO to Drive Your Business

Although there are many ways to market your company both traditionally and on the World-Wide Web, not all marketing fits your business model or target market. At True Perceptions, we know and understand this. This knowledge, coupled with marketing strategies that get results, has made us a trusted provider and the “go to” company for the private investigative, security, forensics and legal communities nationwide for almost a decade.

We are a very niche oriented company by design. Our deliberate strategy is to know our client’s needs and their markets in order to separate ourselves from the rest. We are recognized for our ability to deliver marketing and business strategies that are results driven and cost effective.

We Listen and Deliver Results!

We listen closely to the needs of our clients and expand our services in response. For years, our clients have been asking us about SEO services. For years, we have been searching for the right SEO talent to join our team. We quickly learned that it was not an easy task to find someone who does what is needed to achieve results. We found that most SEO talent could not consistently provide the high-quality results we were looking for.

I am happy to announce that our patience and diligence has finally paid off. We have found and recruited the right talent, and we are now offering quality Organic SEO service. Our SEO objective is to always get our clients placed on page one of Google and within the top five organic listings.

About Our Organic SEO service:

Benefits:

  • Generates leads
  • Creates an awareness of your company and service
  • Puts you a step ahead of your competition
  • Increases revenue
  • Reduces long-term marketing costs

Results:

Result time is highly dependent on the competition of your key phrases. We utilize the most efficient key phrases to maximize results. On average it takes about three months to see results.

Google cautions that no company or individual can guarantee a listing on page one. However, our experienced SEO experts are dedicated to getting you on page one.  This is all they do!  Effective SEO is a daily activity and an ongoing process.  The link building (off-page optimization) needs to be continuously updated in order to move up the ladder to position one and keep a page one ranking.

Our Personal Guarantee:

If by month six you are not on page one our service is free until you are ranked on page one.

Length of Contract:

All contracts are month-to-month.  You may cancel at any time without further obligation. If you feel that this service is not for you, you may simply call us to cancel.

What You Receive:

1. We Consult With You to Learn:

  • Your business model and overall goals
  • What services you want to promote
  • The geographical area in which you want to attract business
  • The best SEO strategy is for YOUR business

2. We Do an Analysis to Find:

  • The best key phrases to drive the right business to your website.  The key phrases we are looking for are those that directly relate to the services you want to promote and the geographical areas in which you want to provide those services.
  • The sales strategy you plan to use when a prospect contacts your company.

3. We Review and Convert Your Website:

  • A highly converted website will assist SEO efforts and help more visitors call or email your company.
  • We will make sure the call to action is visible, you are featuring benefits of your services, rich key words are used where they need to be used, and Meta tags and html code are properly done for SEO.

4. We Get Your Website “Known” to Google Through Off-Page Optimization:

  • We submit your website to all major search engines
  • We re-submit your website any time your content changes
  • We build links to other websites that relate to your services
  • We find directories, listings, forums, blogs, etc. and submit your website
  • We write articles and link them back to your website
  • We monitor your website in all search engines
  • We monitor your competitor’s website in all search engines
  • We continually build anchor text

5. We provide you with monthly traffic reports and directory listing reports.

  • You can see the results at a glance

If you need more sales in your door, give us a call today and we will help you determine if our SEO service is the best web based marketing tool for you, or if there is something else that would be more effective for your business. Call us Today at 678-583-0401 or email us at info@trueperceptions.com

 

Are Your Reports Hurting Your Business?

For almost a decade we have been interviewing attorneys nationwide to learn their perception of our clients business. We have learned what they do to find a private investigator, what they look for before hiring one and what they expect once they hire a private investigator.

Like the rest of us, attorneys do not want to look bad; therefore they reach out to their network for referrals when looking for a private investigator.  They do not go to the phone book or to the Internet unless they need a private investigator in another state. Once they have names, they go to the prospective private investigators websites. Websites are the “business card of the 21st Century”. A website tells many things about a company. Other than a face-to-face meeting with an attorney, your website is the first impression of your company. They look to see if it is professional and well written.  If they are impressed by your website, they place a call. If they get voice mail, which happens nine out of ten times, they move on to the next candidate. Why? They want to work with someone they can reach when they need to. Once they hire a private investigator, they expect a thorough investigation followed by a well written, detailed, grammatically correct, concise report delivered in a timely manner.  Your work product is your investigation and report. That is what you are selling.

I have heard from one attorney after another that most times they have to go through several investigators to find one who provides a good work product. If you do not provide your clients with a great report in a timely manner you run a high risk of losing them as clients. Worse yet, they will advise other attorneys on their message board not to use your services. At best, it is difficult and costly to repair an unfavorable reputation.

Everything you do, don’t do, say, don’t say, deliver or fail to deliver impacts your reputation in the marketplace. One of your first priorities should be to deliver a work product that is signed with excellence. Remember, the most valuable asset your company owns is its reputation.

You might be saying, “I am an investigator, not a writer.” Yes, this is true. However, you have to provide a written account of your work and this written account is the best way to show your clients what a great investigation you have done.

After hearing time and time again how private investigators are losing clients due to poorly written reports, we developed a report editing service. We keep all your information confidential and destroy it once you receive your report. We will have your report edited and sent back to you within 24-hours, allowing you to consistently provide a well written report to your clients in a timely manner. To learn more about this service, please call us at 678-583-0401.

 

Report Writing from the Perspective of a Private Investigator and His Clients

Michael West, the owner of Arkansas-Investigations has been a client of True Perceptions since 2008. Michael was kind enough to write the article below to share his perspective and what he does when it comes to report writing and his business image. Thank you, Michael, for your contribution to our e-newsletter, and the betterment of the private investigative industry.

Many people complain about the economic downturn adversely affecting their investigative business. I submit that it might also be a result of other contributing factors. Do you think there’s a possibility that your competition is writing and providing better investigative reports than you are? Have they taken some of your business because their reports are better? Based on a couple of examples I’ve seen recently, I think this happens more than we realize.  A PI recently said he doesn’t need to write reports because his clients (who, by the way, are quickly declining in number) are only concerned about the facts and not about reports. Another told me that as long as they get the major details across, there’s no need for detailed written reports. My response? “Absurd!”

After hearing these and similar comments from other PI’s I took it upon myself to address the issue with several local attorneys, just to make sure that we’re all on track. None argued the point that investigative reports must be comprehensive and detailed. As a side note, a common theme was that the written report is a representation of what you (the investigator) did on a case. It all goes toward credibility and demonstrating that not only did you accomplish certain steps, but also that you recorded all the facts; the good, the bad and the ugly. The report represents you and the quality of your work.

How can you demonstrate to your client that you have accomplished a professional job unless you can articulate everything you have done in some sort of written document? I’ll agree there are exceptions, times when there won’t or shouldn’t be a report written, and those are exceptions agreed upon by all concerned. But we are talking about the average situations. A written report should be a detailed stand-alone account of your activity. You have to pay attention to grammar, spelling and word context, just as you pay attention to non-verbal cues, evasive behavior, and employment history. Taking too long to get a report to a client is just as bad as not writing one. We make a point to deliver a finished report the next workday after an investigation is completed. Your investigative report might consist of a handful of investigative inserts or one comprehensive document. Nevertheless, you can’t do half a job when you write a report. Your client relies on you to demonstrate what you have done, why you have done it, and what outcome you achieved – good or bad.  Leaving out seemingly unimportant or unflattering details might just derail your case. In situations where your client is hiring you as an expert witness they may be asking for opinions, and you need to clearly articulate your position and the basis for your conclusions. If you provide an interpretation be sure you are specific and set this information aside in a separate section.

Another common comment was that the investigative report should demonstrate your knowledge of the intricacies of the task at hand and your proper application of how the law works. If you don’t know the law and what you can or can’t do, your client needs to be aware of it. Overstepping you legal bounds or improperly applying yourself could have disastrous results. It’s much better for your client to know this in advance than to learn it when you are being cross-examined.

Establish a standard (modifiable) template for your reports. You will find that consistency in reporting has its rewards. Several attorney clients of mine have remarked that they know each and every report I send them will contain certain types of information and they know exactly where in the report to go to find that information. All of my reports are computer generated.  Yes, there are still handwritten reports out there, although everyone I know wants and expects a professional looking report and that means: no handwritten reports. A handwritten or sloppily prepared report degrades your expertise. My reports contain a “Background and Scope” section where I include the basis for the investigation. I also include a “Conclusion” section, which captures the overall results of the investigation and serves as an “executive summary”. Actually, I include 11 standardized sections in every report. Clients who use my services know what they are going to get.

I prepare every report in anticipation of litigation. Even if it’s a simple job for an individual, you might be surprised when and where that report might surface. Prepare as though you are going to court, each and every time. This goes to the old adage: write for your reader. Be clear, concise and appropriate. Stay away from jargon or ‘cop talk’.

Your clients may prefer different styles of reports, for example, chronological or subject related. This is something you need to either address openly or learn as a preference of the client. I usually try to get a feel for those preferences before I finalize a report. This might involve providing a client (particularly an attorney) with a draft or pending report to gauge their reaction.Do they ask a lot of questions that might be answered with a change in report style?

I use reports for marketing.  I have a binder of 4-5 different samples of actual reports (redacted of course) that I use when meeting a new or potential client. The types of reports include a sample of a worker’s comp/personal injury investigation, a background investigation, a pre-employment investigation, an asset search, as well as other types depending on the client’s type of practice. It has served me well on several occasions, and I highly recommend it. About four years ago I used this binder to add a new client after he remarked the reason he didn’t use private investigators was because “not a damned one could write a decent report”. I also ensure that all my reports look nice, and I have them styled so that clients recognize my brand. Think of how a well-groomed report would catch the eye of the reader.

Report writing is an art, and we are not all artists. Some of us get good at writing by practicing, and others simply don’t have it in them. Whether you need help of editing your reports for spelling and grammar, or writing and editing services to improve your website content, marketing pieces and newsletters, True Perceptions has the talent on board to help you. They will help you improve your business image, which in return will help your bottom line. Take the extra time, consider what you are doing and the reason you are doing it. You will find you are better off than the competition.

Michael J. West, CFE/CLEI
Michael is the founder and owner of Arkansas Investigations. Licensed in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, his team provides a wide variety of investigative services. You can learn more about Michael and his company at www.arkansas-investigations.com.

 

Identify Your Target Market in 10 Steps

One of the keys to business success is identifying the target and niche markets with a need for your services. Many entrepreneurs are afraid to market to just one target or niche market. They are afraid of “missing business”. What they do not realize is that real, sustainable success is rooted in speaking directly to the needs of the right target and niche markets.   One of the greatest mistakes any entrepreneur can make is thinking that everyone is in their target market. They cast their marketing message out like a fishing line into a vast ocean hoping the right people will bite. Sure, they get a few clients, but not enough to really make money, and likely not the kind of client they really need. It’s a hit or miss approach, and whoever they did catch was by luck or accident.

Your sales and marketing efforts are too important to be hit or miss. You need to deliver the right message to the right market with the right frequency. How can you do that? With skillful market research you can find out what markets your competitors are currently serving, where market opportunities exist, and which markets will be most profitable for your business.

The saying is “the riches are in the niches.” If you are serious about making real money you must spend the time and resources to find your niche market and serve it well. If you do this, the financial payoff is great! So, the choice is your. Do you want to make a little money or a lot of money for the time you spend? It takes some time to find the right market, but the payoff is worth it!

Here are ten steps to identify your target and niche markets.

  1. Make a list of your services and what is unique about them.
  2. Identify the problems your services solve or the needs they fulfill.
  3. Identify the markets you believe have a viable need for your services.
  4. Match the market to the problems your services solve.
  5. Determine if the market you have identified has enough potential clients to support the growth of your company.
  6. Eliminate those markets that are not a good fit, and then prioritize from the most profitable to least the markets that match your services. While going through your list of prospective markets ask yourself the following questions:
    1. Do I like this market and the people in it? If not, cross them off your list.
    2. Do I want to work with this market? If not, cross them off your list.
    3. Does this market spend money to solve their problem? If not, cross them off your list.
    4. Is this a market that I or someone on staff has knowledge about? If so, put a star by it.
    5. Can I gain access to this market? If so, put a star by it.
  7. Once you have completed this list, pick the top three markets.
  8. Research each market to be sure it is a good fit for your business and that is definitely has a problem that your service can solve.
    1. Look on line for competitors already marketing to each of your potential markets.
      Ask yourself:
      • What products or services are my competitors not offering that I could offer profitably?
      • What competitive advantages do I possess that my competitors can't offer clients even if they wanted to?
      • What do my competitors offer that I could improve on?
    2. Make phone calls to companies in each market group and ask them questions about their problems and what they need.
    3. Use both primary and secondary sources. (a business consultant, directories, obtain statistics, newspaper articles, surveys, focus groups, online searches)
    4. Research to see if there is growth or decline in that market.
  9. To niche market, chose only one target market and serve it well.
  10. Develop your client profile before you develop your marketing plan or materials. Just as a mission statement guides the operation of your company, a client profile will guide your sales and marketing effort. Describe your potential clients as fully as you can. What do you know about them? Where are they situated geographically? What are their problems? How can you solve those problems? What do they spend on services such as yours?

Your goal is to become a big fish in a small, accessible pond - not a small fish in a big, crowded pond. You want to be the tropical fish that's special, unique and easy to spot by all the other fish.  At True Perceptions, we can help you achieve this. We do target market research on a daily basis to ensure our clients’ sales and marketing material hit the mark the first time. We do not believe in wasting time or money. If you need help identifying your target and niche markets, call True Perceptions at 678-583-0401.

Accelerate Your Revenue by Knowing Your Target Market

Imagine playing darts with a blindfold on. It would be nearly impossible to hit the bullseye if you could not see your target. If you did hit your target, it would be by pure luck, and you probably would not be able to hit it again. The same is true in business. If you operate your business without knowing your target market you will struggle to reach your objectives of increased sales, market share and brand awareness. You will waste money on ineffective brochures, websites and marketing campaigns. Do you have money to waste? In today’s economy it is critical to make sure you are spending your marketing dollars wisely. The best way to make sure every marketing dollar you spend (and every minute of your time) is working effectively for you is to know your target market and the needs within.

Take the time to identify your market

One of the biggest mistakes a business can make is skipping the step of market research.  Many businesses fail because they skip this step.

Conducting this research, or hiring a competent company to conduct this research for you, allows you to identify your market and the issues your target market experiences. Once you know this you can better position yourself as a provider of solutions, and develop a brochure, website and sales and marketing materials that speak directly to your market and its needs.

Avoid the blanket approach

When you try to speak to everyone, you speak to no one. Today's consumers are savvy, and they are looking for advocates who can personalize real solutions; they do not want a homogenous, cookie cutter approach. How can you be the solution they need? By learning who your clients are; by finding out their real needs; and by offering tailored services that work for them. Your first step is to choose a client base that is appropriate for your business.

For instance, if the core of your business is surveillance, family attorneys will not be your most profitable market. Insurance companies and individuals who want to know if their spouse is cheating are more viable markets for this service. However, the individuals and the insurance companies have different needs and speak different languages; therefore if you speak to them in the same manner in your marketing materials, you will speak effectively to neither.

Example:
The individual wants to know the truth so they can make a decision or have peace of mind.
The insurance company wants to save money by uncovering fraudulent claims.

Benefits of knowing your target market

1. Prospects who read your materials will know exactly why they need you

When you know the needs of your market you can develop a sharply focused marketing message that makes them feel you’re talking directly to them and can fulfill their needs. And guess what? When they feel that you understand them and their needs, they will be more willing to do business with you.

2. It gives your service direction

“The Apprentice” is a hit TV series where two opposing teams are given a business project to complete. In the first episode of the second season, their assignment was to develop a new toy for Mattel, the largest toy manufacturer in the world. During the project evaluation, a Mattel executive said: “In this business you always want the kids to steer you.” In the end the losing team was told that their idea showed a lack of understanding of what children want and like. Bingo! They had not paid attention to their target market – children. And they lost.

When you define your target market and know their needs and wants, you can direct all your service development, marketing and resources towards this group, rather than trying to be all things to all people. This approach will allow your business to gain focus, attract your ideal clients and grow.

3. It’s easier to plan an effective marketing strategy

Knowing your target market helps you decide how and where to promote your business. This will save you a lot of time and money.

Rule Number One of marketing

Do not put a word on paper until you know and understand your market.  Don’t waste another dime on ineffective marketing, or spend any more time running down the marketing cul-de-sacs that gets you nowhere. Take the time and spend your resources wisely to get to know and understand your market so you can attract your ideal clients.

If you are not sure who your target market is and you do not want to waste any more time or money call True Perceptions at 678-583-0401. We will save you money and help you increase your revenue by identifying your target market and their needs, as well as develop marketing material that will make them see that you have the solution for their problems and they will want to do business with you. 

Assess for Success

The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same things and expecting different results. I challenge you to not go into the New Year expecting different results from the same behavior. Make the right investment in your business now so you don’t spend the next year saying “I wish I would have…”

A thorough assessment of this past year in your business will provide you with clarity about where you, your clients, your market and your competition are now, and give you direction and focus for what you need to do in the New Year. If you want to better meet your client’s needs, gain new business, and reach your short and long-term goals, you need to conduct a year-end assessment. Although this can be a time consuming task, it is time well spent for you and your business. I encourage you to put this task at the top of your to-do list. Please push yourself the extra mile to do this work so you can identify and make the changes needed for your success.

To help you achieve this task I have put together a comprehensive list of questions that will help you assess your business for 2010. In our second article you will find information that will help you plan for 2011.

  1. Vision - Have you clearly identified your vision? Have you committed it to paper? Has it changed at all in the past year? Your vision is the largest piece of your businesses foundation. Without a clear vision, your company will struggle to grow past the start-up phase. If you need help getting your vision onto paper or changing your vision to reflect your growth, call True Perceptions. We are vision experts.

  2. Purpose – Have you worked diligently toward your business purpose or have you gotten off course? Reviewing and renewing your purpose will remind you of why you are in business. An honest assessment and plan will propel you forward and empower you to push through obstacles in the upcoming year.  If you are struggling to identify or get back to your purpose, call True Perceptions. We can help.

  3. Mission – What is your mission? Did you hit the mark this year? If not, identify what needs to be adjusted and make those adjustments. If you need help to identify or get back on the mark of your mission, call us today.

  4. Values – How well have you adhered to your values this year? It is important to assess if you have led your team in accordance with the values you set as your standards. Business owners who deviate from their values often experience lost business, reduced productivity, and lower profit margins. Head into the New Year with clarity and a refreshed commitment to your values.  True Perceptions can help you identify your values and get them in writing.

  5. Core Value – What is your core competency, the main benefit you provide your clients? Has it changed or does it need to be changed? If your business has grown, changed direction, or shifted focus in the past year, you may need to update your core value statement. Call True Perceptions for a skilled outside perspective. We can see what you are too close to see.

  6. Goals – Goals are critical for forward movement, and reviewing, executing and benchmarking your goals are critical to achieving them. What goals did you meet this year, and how did you do it? What goals did you not meet this year, and why? What stopped you from meeting those goals? What did you execute well? Poorly? Unintentionally? All great leaders need clear goals and accountability. True Perceptions is a great accountability partner.  We can help you set and reach your goals.

  7. Marketing – Which of your marketing strategies garnered the greatest ROI over the past year? Which were least effective? Does all of your marketing collateral, including brochures, business cards, and website, accurately reflect your complete portfolio of capabilities? Do your marketing materials need to be updated or refreshed? What other marketing strategies may work well for you in the New Year? True Perceptions knows your market and what they respond to. We have proven marketing strategies that get results, create a positive and lasting impression of your company and set you apart from your competition. We are a full service marketing company. Call us for ALL your marketing and design needs.

  8. Sales – Did you meet this year’s sales goals? If not, why? Which sales strategies worked for you, which ones didn’t, and why? Are your sales materials effective? Do you have a sales force? Do you need one? True Perceptions has the expertise to help you develop sales materials and strategies that get results. Call us if you want to get more from your sales efforts in the year ahead.

  9. Assessment of Services – How profitable are each of the services you offer? Which ones add the most value for your clients? Which services bring in the most profit? How can you sell more of that service? Which cost you the most? Do you need to modify or cancel this service? Are there other services your clients have said they need? How can you provide these and be profitable? True Perceptions can help you assess the viability of a service and help you plan to deliver profitable service for the coming year.

  10. Client Assessment – Which of your clients were most profitable for your business this year? Which were least? Not all clients are profitable or good clients. Some clients are more profitable than others. Some may take too much time and effort, which can make them un-profitable. A client assessment allows you to identify which clients are the most profitable and why, which clients cost you the most and why, and how well you are attracting and retaining the clients you really want and need. If you need an experienced outside perspective, True Perceptions can help.

  11. Industry and Market Changes – How has your industry changed over the last 12 months? Today’s world is moving and changing rapidly. It is critical for you to assess what has changed in your industry, with your clients and in the target market you have been marketing and selling to. Will these changes affect your business? How? Assess if the market you have been pursuing is still viable and the best fit for your business and its goals. True Perceptions can offer you an insightful analysis of changes in your industry, clients and market.

  12. Competition – Who is your competition? What do they offer, what do they charge, and what is their reputation in the marketplace? You need the answers to these questions in order to differentiate yourself in the marketplace and attract prospective clients. If you need a competition study done, call True Perceptions. We can find the answers you need.

  13. Time Management – How did you spend your time this year? How much of your time was spent generating revenue vs. completing administrative tasks? Was it the best use of your time? Would it be more beneficial for you to hire someone to do the administrative duties? Remember, time is money.

  14. Work Product/Service – Did you consistently deliver consistent work products and services in a consistent way this year? Consistency builds credibility, and credibility fosters longevity. Inconsistency is a primary factor that diminishes trust and reliability in the eyes of your clients. You should also assess how you can add more value for your clients. Added value allows you to stand out from your competition, and it is often the small things that have the greatest impact to your clients.. True Perceptions can help you by conducting a third party confidential client satisfaction survey to identify inconsistencies and opportunities to add value for your clients.

  15. Employee Perceptions – What is your employee satisfaction rating? Your employees are your internal customers. If all is well with them, usually all is well with your external customers. It is critical to get feedback from your employees about your company, what they know about your clients’ needs, and what can be done to assist them with their job. Encouraging and listening to their feedback and ideas, along with making needed changes, will decrease your employee turnover and increase your bottom line. One of the best ways to obtain this information is by True Perceptions conduct a confidential employee satisfaction survey. We will professionally gather the honest information you need to know concerning your employees and their needs.
  16. Customer Perceptions– Is your client’s perception in line with your reality? Do your clients see you the way you see yourself? Customer perception ultimately becomes your reality, and you need to know how your customers perceive you in order to know what you are doing really well and where you need to improve to best serve them. True Perceptions can conduct a confidential client satisfaction survey to help you gain a cutting edge in the marketplace, increase client retention, uncover your clients’ needs and relevant shifts in the marketplace, and what you can do to improve your work product and customer service.

  17. Written Policies and Procedures – Do you have them? Are they current? Whether you are a one-person business or have 1-1000 employees or something in between, you need a written procedure for anything you do more than once.  Policies legally protect your business and give you, your employees, and your client’s clarity of what to expect. Procedures promote consistency in your work product, service delivered and top-notch customer service. Policies and procedures also allow you and your employees to do the job at hand efficiently and accurately every time. The rewards of policies and procedures are great to both your company reputation and your bottom line. Be sure to review, assess, and update your policies and procedures to ensure they are working well or if they need to be improved. Observe a fundamental business law of success and take the time to write your policies and procedures. You, your employees, and clients will be glad you did. If you need assistance with writing or revising your policies and procedures call True Perceptions. We can help.

  18. Hiring Procedures (Employees) – Have you put the right people in the right places?Hiring the right employee for the right position is critical to productivity, consistency of work product and the overall success of your business. Assess your current hiring procedures to ensure you are doing everything possible to hire the right person for the right position. It is important to hire slow and fire fast. Be sure to assess if you have or need additional employees to support future growth. Many times companies do not grow because they do not have what they need to support the growth; therefore they become afraid of success. If you need help identifying what personnel resources you need to support growth, please call True Perceptions. We can help you identify your needs and create the tools you need to succeed.

  19. Hiring Procedures (Independent or Subcontractor) – Is work done by independents and subcontractors seamless to your customers? It should be. You have a responsibility to ensure consistency in your work product or services with written procedures that identify what you expect as a final product from your independent or subcontractor. You must also have a written agreement that identifies who has what responsibility and the amount of payment for their work, how and when payment for work will be made. Without written procedures and a written agreement, you are risking your business reputation and putting your business in jeopardy. True Perceptions can help you with role definition, writing procedures, and creating work agreements.

  20. Level of Efficiency – Is your business operating at top efficiency? Efficiency is imperative to your business’s financial health and customer satisfaction.  Inefficiency lowers operating cost and improves profitability. Assess what can be changed to become more effective and efficient. What can you do better and faster? Where are improvements vitally needed, and what is the most efficient way to accomplish this?

  21. Level of Productivity – Is your business as productive as it can be? As you need it to be? Your bottom line is driven by productivity and the systems that support your productivity. You need to assess and learn if there are ways to improve the level of your current productivity. Be sure to look at the systems you have in place to see if they still best fit your needs or need to be updated, and look to see where additional systems are needed.

If you need assistance with any of the items listed above call True Perceptions at 678-583-0401. We are experts at helping business owners accurately assess their current position and develop meaningful, action-oriented plans to gain more business, retain customers, and grow in a healthy way. We are here to help you! To learn how to plan for profits in 2011 please scroll down.

 

Planning For Profits in 2013

Now that your assessment is complete you are ready to plan for next year. How exciting to build out a plan, execute the plan and watch your vision come to fruition!

Your main objective in creating a plan is to maximize the return on your efforts. Focus on making the changes that will matter the most.

Use bullet points, write brief descriptions of what you are going to do, and assign measurement and due dates to everything.

Draw from your assessment to set goals, timelines, and identify what you need to do to execute and achieve your goals in the following areas:

Overall Company Operation:

  • Make a checklist of what you want to improve concerning work product/service delivery and consistency, efficiency, productivity, policies, procedures, employee and client perceptions.
  • Indicate a target completion date for each item
  • List key strategies for each item on the list
  • Execute strategies
  • Set target dates to review and measure progress

Resources and Budgets:

  • Review your financials, systems and equipment resources and make a checklist of what you will need for the year
  • Create a budget
  • Set target dates for execution and review

Client Retention Plan:

  • Set a goal for your client retention rate
  • Set a target date for completion of client retention research and  plan launch
  • Develop your client retention plan
  • Develop procedures and systems necessary to support client retention plan, and record target dates for these to be completed and in place
  • Develop your client retention launch strategy

New Service Research and Development:

  • Identify any new services you want to offer
  • Set a target date to complete client, industry, market and competition research (to learn what is needed and viable)
  • Set a target date to have new service research completed and reviewed
  • Identify target dates for development of new services
  • Develop procedures and systems necessary to support new service, and record target dates for these to be in place
  • Commit to a sales and marketing strategy and launch date for  new services

Marketing Goals and Strategy:

  • Set a target date to have marketing budget, research and plan completed.
  • Create marketing budget and include what brought the greatest ROI
  • Research all avenues of marketing that would work well for your business and chose those you think will work best
  • Create marketing plan
  • Review and update your marketing materials (see article #1) Set target dates for implementation and progress review

Sales Goals and Strategy:

  • Set yearly, quarterly and monthly sales goals
  • Decide if you need to expand your sales force, and if so, set a target date
  • Develop lead lists in your most profitable market
  • Review and update your sales materials such as your phone scripts, sales presentation and leave behind packets. Look to see if anything needs to be up-dated with new services or freshened up to best reflect who your company is, and what you provide.
  • Review your procedures and systems for follow-up and be sure they meet your needs.
  • Set target dates for implementation and progress review

Skills and Personnel:

  • Review your yearly plan and make a checklist of what you will need to accomplish your goals (e.g. personnel, equipment, skills)
  • Identify where your time is best spent
  • Identify procedures and systems necessary to support growth, and record target dates for these to be in place

Record all target dates on your yearly calendar and start executing your plan one task at a time.

Please remember that efforts without strategy bring little return, and strategy without execution is delusion.
True Perceptions can offer an experienced, objective perspective to your business planning process. If you need assistance in writing or executing your plan, call True Perceptions, Inc. at 678-583-0401. We want to help you succeed!

 

Pricing…Best Practice for Pricing Services

Deciding the “right” price for your service is a tough proposition, and one that should not be taken lightly. Proper pricing is one of the major keys to the success or failure of a business.

Setting the wrong price for services is a mistake repeated by new and mature and small and large companies. Wrong pricing inevitably results in underperformance or failure. The difference in the playing field is that the mature and large companies usually have enough capital and or sales volume to cover a pricing mistake, where the new and small companies do not.

The risk to the consumer is overpaying, resulting in buyer’s remorse, which can hurt your company’s sales and brand. The risk to the service provider is selling at a low price where there will not be enough profit for the business to sustain itself, or selling at a high price that drastically reduces sales volume because purchasers refuse to pay the price. Either way, incorrect pricing damages your bottom line profit and business reputation.

One other caution concerning a low price is that it causes consumers to under value the service and expect the service from you and others at the low price. This not only hurts the business, but it hurts the entire industry.

Pricing is not the only consideration when a purchasing decision is being made, but it is a major factor. Consumers also consider the (ROI) return on investment, benefits of the service, whether or not the service will help them achieve their overall goals, and potential to enhance their company culture and corporate image.

However, pricing is one of the most strategic tools you have. It is critical to the operation and life of your business. Pricing affects marketing, business strategy, production and financial performance.

In marketing and business strategy, pricing is the number one tool for communicating to both competitors and consumers how you plan to position your service. Your competitors will utilize pricing to gain an advantage and consumers will compare both pricing and added value.

Pricing identifies your company’s target market and the level of value the consumer can expect to receive vs. other services in the same space. Many times pricing also identifies your competitors. Most importantly, it is a strong branding tool. It helps consumers categorize and compare the value they will receive from the service you offer against alternatives.

Concerning production, there is no getting around the relationship between price and volume. Price will always dictate overall production and service.

Pricing’s greatest impact is on financial performance. Pricing should not be made haphazardly, out of desperation or last minute contentious decisions. It must be based on value provided to the consumer and what the market can bear.
How to Price Your Service

  • Assess the competition. Learn what they are providing, what they are charging and who their clients are.
  • Conduct market research to learn what segment of the market would most benefit from the service you provide, what added value you can offer, and what price the market is willing to pay.
  • Assess and calculate what it will cost you to deliver a premium service to the consumer (break-even point). To achieve this you must calculate the cost below.
  • Fixed costs are expenses that do not vary with sales volume, such as rent, administrative salaries, utilities, etc. These costs have to be paid regardless of sales. They are considered your “overhead” costs.
  • Variable costs vary directly with sales volume, such as materials used, time and anything else needed to provide the service. If you provide a service that includes a product you must also factor manufacturing, warehousing and shipping into the cost.
  • Once you have calculated fixed and variable costs, review what you learned from your competition and market research. Then calculate the added value you will deliver to the consumer, the value of your service, your profit and what the market can bear to come up with the “best price”.

Yes, pricing is tricky business. Triangulating information from various areas of research allows you to make relevant comparisons including competitive assessment of value and determination of pricing range. From this, you can crunch specific numbers and make informed and wise pricing decisions. With this scientific approach you may find that you can price a service much higher than the “cost” price. The key is to avoid under and overpricing.

While pricing is never easy, re-pricing can be even trickier. The consequences can be much more severe, especially if the service is profitable.

When it comes to price increases in today’s low inflationary environment, you can’t arbitrarily raise your price. It is best to repackage and re-brand the service, making sure to add additional value.

When it comes to price discounting, you should avoid the discounting trap. One risk of price cutting is that it will signal to the public that either you can’t compete with the competition or your service offers less value.

If attempting to raise or lower price, you should weigh the risks vs. possible benefits before implementing such a move. It is always best to price your service properly than have to increase or discount the price.

So, I think you can see how imperative it is for you to clearly identify your service and the added value you can bring to the consumer, and not base pricing on cost alone. To learn more about added value, be sure to read our second article.

If you need assistance with pricing your services and positioning your company in the marketplace, be sure to call us at 678-583-0401.

 

How to Add Value to Your Service

Added value makes your service more than just a commodity. How can you add value to your services? You need to create ways to stand apart from the competition.  Creating added value requires thinking outside the box and developing procedures and systems to consistently deliver the added value you promised. Remember, if you are going to charge a higher price than the competitors, you must provide enough value and benefit for consumers to justify the higher cost.

To increase your added value you want to utilize all five of the added value levers below.

1. Benefits – How well you will solve the needs, wants and problems of your market.

  • To create added value through benefits, you must identify the needs, wants and problems of your market. Then you must create the solutions to solve those needs, wants and problems. Lastly, you must articulate the solutions into benefits that speak to your market. Remember, people do not buy services, nor does a service by itself add value.

2. Customer Service – The level of customer service and customer care you provide, and how the consumer is made to feel.

  • Great customer service and customer care will go a long way. The consumer will see value and pay more if it means less work and headache for them. Remember that building a business, a client base and a customer service program is always much easier than maintaining them. So, once you decide how you are going to provide excellent customer service, you must be sure to create procedures and systems that will ensure you consistently deliver the quality you promised.
  • The greatest value a company can add is to make their clients feel special and important. Remember, clients are people and people want to feel special and important. Be creative and think of extra things you can do to make your clients feel special, valued and important. Take the risk of being different. Different will add to your success. Whatever way you decide to add value, do it consistently. 

3. Additional Services – Additional services that complement your core service.

  • You need to know your cores service and the benefits it provides as well as what your competition provides. Identify additional services you can add to your core service that have great meaning to your clients without costing a lot of time and expense for you. For example, you may guarantee that all phone calls will be returned within the hour. This has great added value to the client. Why? They have called you because they want to talk to you. They have some urgency. Is it difficult to consistently return phone calls within the hour?  Yes, but if you are creative, you will find a way to make it happen.

4. Excellent Work Product – Include a signature of excellence with everything you do.

  • You can conduct the best investigation ever, but if it is not followed up by a well written report in a timely manner, it has lost value. Take the time to learn how you can do it better and faster.

5. Perceptions - Ultimately the only thing that really matters is your customer's perceptions. The four added value items above only add value if they positively influence your customers' perceptions. It is critical for you to tap into your market and provide added value that has meaning to your customers. As we say here at True Perceptions, “Perception Creates Reality®”. The perception the client has becomes reality for both you and your clients.

  • Perceptions can be managed. It takes strategy, work and follow-through.

Caution:

  1. You cannot charge a higher price because of added value and then not provide the added value, or provide it in an inconsistent manner.

  2. Keep in mind that whatever you put into place, you need to be able to continue it as you grow. This will take strategy, procedures, systems and quality control.

If you want to learn more about added value and how you can add it to your services, please call True Perceptions, Inc. at 678-583-0401.

 

Grow Your Business By 10 Percent

In an article entitled "Keep Those Customers Coming Back!" the Better Business Bureau stated that businesses will spend roughly five times more to obtain a new client than they would to keep an existing one. And yet when you think of marketing, you think of reaching new clients, not your current client base.

In today’s economy, every client and every dollar counts. You cannot afford to lose any business or client. However, many times current clients are neglected because you are too busy running day-to-day business operations.

It pays to remember that your current client base can provide you additional revenue by utilizing more of your services and referring you to others. Clients who come to you by referral are 2 ½ times more likely to refer you to someone else. This equals additional business and a growing client list.

By communicating with the clients you already have, you increase the chances of repeat business, add-on sales, and referrals. If you currently retain 70% of your customers, a program that improves that to 80% will result in a 10% growth rate.

Your clients may not be aware of all the services you provide, or they may not think of you when a need arises. You can stay on your clients’ minds by keeping in touch. Find reasons to reach out to your clients on a regular basis, and they will help you find additional business and new clients. Staying in touch with your clients will also build trust and brand awareness, which will give you a more competitive edge in the marketplace.

Do you think, “My clients will call me if they have a need.” Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. Those clients with whom you have strong relationships will probably be loyal. Those with whom your relationship is not as strong can easily be swayed to another company. Make no mistake, your competitors are out there soliciting your clients through sales calls and marketing. If they become more familiar to your clients than you are, they can steal your business before you realize it is happening.

Early in 2010 we saw our clients were struggling to find the time to keep in touch with their clients. We researched possible solutions. We put together a focus group comprised of attorneys and businesses, and started asking questions when conducting client surveys with our clients’ clients. We found that 86% would appreciate and welcome electronic newsletters with information about new bills, legislation, laws, educational pieces about different things a private investigator can do to help them, different case strategies and successes, how to identify fraud in a business, how to collect money, and other valuable tips. They want the information to be relevant and beneficial to them and want it to be short and to the point. Just like you, your clients are too busy to keep up with what is happening around them. An electronic newsletter is actually a great service you can offer them.

From our research and focus groups we learned the best ways to put the Internet to work for you and your clients. To that end, we have launched E-novations: A service that will help you bring added value to your clients, keep your name and brand fresh in your client’s mind, foster relationships and create loyalty. This customized service will be targeted, monitored and measured. Your clients and potential clients can read your message and respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week. E-novations utilizes the strength of the Internet to increase your business and client list. This service provides three different ways to educate and market to your current clients and prospective clients: E-Newsletters, E-Proactive Marketing and E-Greetings. Our team makes this service seamless and effortless for you. Our experienced strategist will help you develop the right strategy for your business, our writers will write clear and concise articles, our creative designer will make sure your brand stays intact, and our administrative assistant will take care of all your administrative needs.

Make no mistake, the internet is here to stay, it dominates your market and it is a wonderful marketing tool if used properly.  According to the June 30, 2010 stats provided by Internet World Stats, 77.4% of the population uses the internet to find what they need. Growth in users from 2000-2010 was 146.3%. Times have changed and for a business to thrive, they must also change how they market their business.

Let True Perceptions keep you in front of your clients so you can continue to run your business. Call us today at 678-583-0401 to learn how we can help you increase repeat business, add-on sales, and referrals from your current and new clients.

 

How to Use Email Marketing As a Sales Tool

We live in a world where information is just a click away.  Email marketing is not only one of the most effective marketing tools; it is also one of the most effective sales tools. Email marketing by itself is a powerful marketing tool, but why stop there? Why not also make it your personally powerful your sales tool?

Sales are, and always will be, the lifeblood of your business.

A sale is the least costly way to gain new business.  Think of email marketing as the introductory phase of the sales process. You need to know who has opened your email marketing and which links they clicked on. You also need to focus on new subscribers. Why? This tells you who is interested in what you are saying in your email marketing and the services you provide. This provides you a targeted list of prospects to make sales calls to. This sets you up for a “warm” call (instead of a “cold” call) with a prospect who is already familiar with your business and the services you provide. They are already interested.

Here at True Perceptions, we strategize your email marketing campaigns, write clear and concise articles, provide a creative design that enhances your brand, and provide administrative assistance. We also provide you a detailed monthly report that contains the data you need to make those “warm” sales calls and increase your ROI. Our reports include: the sent date and number of people sent to, the opt-outs, spam reports, opens, clicks and where they clicked.  Each quarter we give you a quarterly review report that allows you to know how your campaign is working and what you can do to make it even more effective.

We create educational based e-newsletters that work. One of our clients sent their e-newsletter to 1,595 clients/prospective clients. 189 of them opened the e-newsletter and 27 of them clicked to various sections of our client’s website. This data gave our client the knowledge of who they should make a “warm” sales call to. Let’s say they called only the 27 who clicked to go to their website, and out of those 27, 4 (15%) of them became new clients. If this happened every month for a year, this client would increase their client base by 48 new clients. What would 48 new clients do for your business?

Successful businesses do not wait for a return e-mail or phone call from prospects. They are proactive and make the sales call themselves. Their email marketing has done the introduction for them, and they make it personal by picking up the phone to establish the natural dialogue between two people that cultivates a healthy, long-term relationship.

At True Perceptions we specialize in helping companies like yours grow their business in a cost effective way that has a ROI.  Our targeted electronic newsletters will: 

  • Introduce your services to a large audience in a short time.
  • Drive your market to your website to learn more. If your website is written, organized and designed properly calls from prospective clients should increase.
  • Provide a medium to educate your market.
  • Allow you to stand out from the competition.
  • Show your clients and prospects that you have something of value, and that your company has sincere intentions to help them find the best service to answer their needs.
  • Build brand recognition and credibility for your business.
  • Provide you with a sales tool.

If you are ready to increase your client base, call True Perceptions today at 678-583-0401. We are ready to help you!
Experience the Success Our Clients Experience…Read All About It.

“We have been sending a digital newsletter through True Perceptions for five months. Since the newsletter has started going out, we have noticed a significant increase in telephone inquiries and new cases from our current and new clients. In this economy, it is a great encouragement to have this renewed activity in our business. True Perceptions has efficiently handled the design of the newsletter, the writing of articles, the management of our mailing lists, and then sending out the newsletter, so we are not spending our productive time with these tasks. We also like the fact that we can monitor the newsletter statistics so we know the effectiveness of this financial investment.

True Perceptions has done an awesome job with our newsletter, and we are so satisfied that we have decided to renew it for another six months.”

Wendy E. Murnan, LPI, CP, FRP
Co-Owner, Complete Legal Investigations, Inc.
West Palm Beach, FL

“It’s been almost 6 months now since we started distributing our newsletter to prospective clients. I can definitely attribute an increase in business to this program that True Perceptions created for us. Not only are we able to stay in touch with our current clients, but we are able to introduce new prospects to the varied services we provide. With True Perceptions guidance, we focus on providing informative and educational materials and not on the “sell, sell, sell” that so many other newsletters do. I’m forever grateful for the True Perceptions Team that coordinates the details of getting our monthly products out to our readers; the super design, the distribution listings, the analysis of the readers and the overall coordination of the product. I find it particularly impressive that our business has continued to increase when so many others are treading water and I’m excited to see how we continue to benefit in the future.”

Michael J. West, CFI/CLEI
President/Founder, Arkansas Investigations
Little Rock, AR

“We originally used True Perceptions to design our logo and website and conduct a client survey.  Since that time we have engaged True Perceptions to handle our e-mail marketing campaign with holiday e-cards and bimonthly newsletters. The campaign is designed to keep our name in the forefront of our current and perspective clients. As Diana Garren often says, 'It's easier and cheaper to keep a client than to get one'. It is our belief that value added services, such as our informative newsletter helps us keep our clients and open new client doors."

Rick Staly, M.S., F.B.I.N.A.,
Executive Vice President
American Eagle Sentry, LLC.
Palm Coast, FL

 

 

Top Ten Elements of a Professional Website

In today’s economy every marketing tool you use must increase the visibility, credibility and revenue of your business. A professional website is a marketing tool that does all three. It is no longer an option, but a necessity.  Your business is hurt in many ways by a mediocre or non-existent web presence.

It is more difficult than you may think to develop an effective and professional website. You have three seconds to capture a reader’s attention and compel them to spend time on your website. The craft and science of website development is beyond the skill set of most business owners and web designers.  Even skilled web designers, are just that, “designers”.  A great website comprises much more than design.  A great website features a call to action, compelling and clearly written content, good organization, intuitive navigation, and imagery that beckons the reader to the benefits of your product or service.  This is much more than web design. You need to hire a firm who will do all of the above and manage the business image you are presenting to the public. Please remember, anything worth doing is worth doing right!

Every business has a business image. What is yours? As the Better Business Bureau states in their 2/9/2002 article, Image Can Mean Everything, “Image can mean everything. Having a strong corporate image cannot be overemphasized. A corporate image or identity is an unspoken agreement to deliver your company's service or product in a certain way, with a particular style, philosophy and level of quality.”

Here are 10 essential elements of a professional website. Incorporate these to capture the attention of visitors and compel them to contact you.
Foundational Elements:

1. Know Your Market – When you try to speak to everyone, you speak to no one. Knowing your market and their needs is critical to the development of an effective website.

2. Well-Written Content – In today’s world people are on information overload. It is important that you avoid fluff and get directly to the point. Speak in terminology your reader will understand, and avoid using industry jargon. Answer the five “W’s”; who your business is, what you can do for them, where you provide service and where you are located, when they can expect the service to be performed, and why they should choose your company. It is important that proper grammar and spelling is used. Proof, proof, proof.

3. Organization of Content – Organization will determine if the reader advances past your home page. Avoid these common mistakes:

1. Talking about your company on the home page. Why? People do not care who you are until they know you can provide what they need. People are tuned into the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) station. Make it about them and not you.

2. Listing your services on your home page. Why? People do not buy services, they buy benefits. Be sure to highlight the benefits to them of your services rather than feature a laundry list of services. Once the reader knows you have what they need and how it benefits them, they will continue further in your website to learn about your company and why they should choose you.

3. Listing everything you did in the past: Why? People really do not care what you did in the past. They want to know what you can do for them today.

4. Having your picture on the home page: Why? Your picture on the home page makes it about you and not them. Refer back to points one and two above.

Design Elements:

4. Relevant Imagery – Pictures speak a thousand words. Images used on your website should align with the main message of your content and the overall image of your company. They must evoke the right emotion in the reader. Refrain from using clip art; it screams “cheap” and “un-professional”. Take care not to overload imagery, as it can distract the reader from reading your message.

5. Choice of Colors – Colors have meaning and evoke emotion in people. The choice of color is very important. You want to be sure to use color in your website that evokes the right emotion in your reader and is consistent with your corporate colors. Utilize between 2-5 complimenting colors and avoid bright neon colors that may strain the reader’s eyes.

6. Select the Right Font Style and Size – Use a font style and size that is easy to read. Too-large fonts seem unprofessional and childish. Fancy fonts can be difficult to read. Verdana, Arial and Times New Roman are the best fonts to use on your website.

7. Keep Your Design and Navigation Simple – The layout of your design and navigation should encourage the reader to explore your site. Use flash image sparingly. Stay away from music and talking at the visitor when they arrive on your website. If you have video or a wave file that you want to use to communicate with your visitors, let them choose to click a link. Nobody likes to be spoken at, especially if they did not choose it or expect it.

The most functional and easy navigation bar is one that runs horizontally towards the top of your website. People are use to looking there and reading left to right. You can also position navigation bars along the side of your website. Be sure to include the following on your navigation bar: Home, Services, About Us, Testimonials and Contact Us. Testimonials will sell your services better than you ever can. People believe 10% of what you say about your company and 90% of what others say.

8. Call to Action – Your website should feature a call to action for the reader. People many times will do as asked, but you have to ask. Most people love “free” and “how to”, so use these terms when possible. Some good revenue-generating call to actions are:

1. For a Free consult call (your phone number). Make sure your phone number is easy to find on every page.

2. Sign up for our Free educational e-newsletter

3. Visit our on-line learning center

Functionality Elements:

9. Fast Load Time – Few people will wait around for a slow loading website; most will move on to the next prospective company. It is critical to the success of your website that it loads quickly and can be viewed properly on all web browsers. You want people to go right to your home page rather than a landing page that tells them nothing. The fewer the clicks the end-user has to make to get to your information, the better.

10. Working Links – Broken links frustrate users and send the message that you do not maintain your website or pay attention to detail. This perception can make them wonder what other aspects of your business you treat in the same manner. This is not the business image you want. Check your website often to ensure it is live and functioning properly. Hint: save your own website as your home page when opening up your web browser.

As you can see, developing a professional and effective website is not as easy as one might think, and it can be overwhelming. That is why it is best to hire a professional firm such as True Perceptions.  For almost a decade we have been creating brands and professional websites and managing the perceptions of private investigators, subject matter experts and attorneys nationwide. We know your market and how to reach them.
If you want a website that creates a return on investment call us at 678-583-0401.
In the words of one of our clients:

"When I first contacted True Perceptions, I had initial intentions of simply re-making my website. We did that and boy, did I notice a change. Our website visits have increased 10% just this month and I’ve seen that visitors stay on the site more than three times longer than they did before the revisions (an important benchmark to me). I’ve also had very laudatory comments from visitors to the website. They noticed a change in perception (there’s that word again), not just a change in appearance. If you are thinking of improving your website, you need to call True Perceptions.  I find it particularly impressive that our business has continued to increase when so many others are treading water and I’m excited to see how we continue to benefit from our relationship with True Perceptions in the future.”

- Michael J. West, CFE, CLEI, Director of Investigations
Arkansas Investigations

 

The Importance of a Professional Website

It’s not the 90’s anymore! It is the 21st century, a technological age. The internet is here to stay and it dominates your market.  According to the June 30, 2010 stats provided by Internet World Stats, the estimated population for the US in 2010 is 344,157,450, and of this number 266,244,500 are internet users. This is 77.4% of the population. Growth in users from 2000-2010 was 146.3%. Times have changed and for a business to thrive, they must also change how they market their business. Business owners who underestimate the importance of an internet presence lose large numbers of potential clients. A website that is well- written, organized, and creatively designed can help you stand out in the crowd and increase your revenue. 

A professional web presence is no longer an option for a business; it is a necessity. A prospective client’s initial perception of you and your business is formed by your website. Businesses gain and lose prospects on the web every day. In most instances a website is a deciding factor in whether or not a prospect moves forward with a business. A cheap-looking website appeals to people shopping strictly on price. A conservative-looking website appeals to people who like stability and security. A professionally designed website says “credible” to prospective clients. Those who have money to spend and are not looking for the lowest price want to do business with a credible company, and they respond to websites that suggest credibility.

You might be saying to yourself, “I have fared well without a website”, or “The website I created myself is sufficient. “What are you measuring this thought pattern against? As a business owner, don’t you want to maximize the impact of your efforts? The majority of people today no longer use phone books; they use the web.  A website has become the business calling card, and your website speaks volumes about your business.

A professionally designed website can generate more business than any other medium of advertising. The web is utilized 24/7, 365 days a year. People depend on it to research services and learn about companies they may do business with. 

A well-done, professional website can serve several different purposes for your business. It is a forum for you to share a detailed description of your company, the services you provide, why consumers should choose your company. The text on your website can evoke a call to action, serve as a brochure, and most importantly, detail the benefits consumers will receive by utilizing your services.

When you have a professional website, you also have more business tools to utilize, such as newsletters and on-line services that synchronize and simplify your business process for your clients. The days of having an AOL or Yahoo email address are gone. A business that still uses an AOL or Yahoo address sacrifices their credibility and gives the impression of being too cheap, too lazy, or too unenlightened to develop a professional website. Surely, that is not how you want consumers to perceive your business!

Professional educational E-newsletters are dynamic marketing tools. They drive clients and prospects to your website so you can retain and obtain new business. They also provide “learning” and “how to” sections of your website, which makes a subject matter expert in the minds of your customers and prospects.

Don’t just take our word for it. Here is what one of our client’s say:

"When I first contacted True Perceptions, I had initial intentions of simply re-making my website. We did that and boy, did I notice a change. Our website visits have increased 10% just this month and I’ve seen that visitors stay on the site more than three times longer than they did before the revisions (an important benchmark to me). I’ve also had very laudatory comments from visitors to the website. They noticed a change in perception (there’s that word again), not just a change in appearance. If you are thinking of improving your website, you need to call True Perceptions. 

It’s been almost 6 months now since we started distributing our newsletter to prospective clients. I can definitely attribute an increase in business to this program that Diana Garren at True Perceptions created for us. Not only are we able to stay in touch with our current clients, but also we are able to introduce new prospects to the varied services we provide. With Diana’s guidance, we focus on providing informative and educational materials and not on the “sell, sell, sell” that so many other newsletters do. I’m forever grateful for the True Perceptions Team that coordinates the details of getting our monthly products out to our readers; the super design, the distribution listings, the analysis of the readers and the overall coordination of the product. I find it particularly impressive that our business has continued to increase when so many others are treading water and I’m excited to see how we continue to benefit in the future.”

- Michael J. West, CFE, CLEI, Director of Investigations
Arkansas Investigations

If you want a website that creates a return on investment call us at 678-583-0401. For almost a decade we have been creating brands and professional websites and managing the perceptions of private investigators, subject matter experts and attorneys nationwide. We know your market and how to reach them.

 

The Internet Big Picture

 

WORLD INTERNET USAGE AND POPULATION STATISTICS

World Regions

Population
( 2010 Est.)

Internet Users
Dec. 31, 2000

Internet Users
Latest Data

Penetration
(% Population)

Growth
2000-2010

Users %
of Table

Africa

1,013,779,050

4,514,400

110,931,700

10.9 %

2,357.3 %

5.6 %

Asia

3,834,792,852

114,304,000

825,094,396

21.5 %

621.8 %

42.0 %

Europe

813,319,511

105,096,093

475,069,448

58.4 %

352.0 %

24.2 %

Middle East

212,336,924

3,284,800

63,240,946

29.8 %

1,825.3 %

3.2 %

North America

344,124,450

108,096,800

266,224,500

77.4 %

146.3 %

13.5 %

Latin America/Caribbean

592,556,972

18,068,919

204,689,836

34.5 %

1,032.8 %

10.4 %

Oceania / Australia

34,700,201

7,620,480

21,263,990

61.3 %

179.0 %

1.1 %

WORLD TOTAL

6,845,609,960

360,985,492

1,966,514,816

28.7 %

444.8 %

100.0 %

 

www.internetworldstats.com

 

 

Gain Business with Targeted Brochure Distribution

You now have effective brochures designed, printed and in your hands. They are a valuable tool for growing your business, but they can only fulfill their full potential when you get them into the hands of your target audience. If they sit in your office and collect dust, they will do you no good. You must distribute your brochures so they can generate revenue for your company or you have wasted your money.  Below you will find many surefire ways to distribute your brochures and achieve the results you are looking for.

If your markets are businesses and/or attorneys:

#1 – Hit the pavement. Take your brochures to attorney offices and businesses. This yields a high response, especially if you can speak to the decision maker and follow up afterward.

#2 – Create a cover letter introducing yourself and enclose your brochure. To make this more effective offer them something of value, such as a free consult on one of their tough cases or a free business analysis. Be sure to follow up for the best results. Without follow up you will get less than 1% response from your efforts. This can be very costly.

#3 – Attend trade shows and conferences of your market and distribute your brochures. You can even slip your materials under the hotel room doors of conference attendees the day they arrive.

#4 – Align yourself with others who will be at trade shows and conferences, and ask them if you can place your brochures at their booth.

#5 – Hire someone to pass out your brochures at the trade show and conferences if you cannot attend yourself.

#6– Attend association meetings of your market and distribute your brochure.  

#7 – When presenting at an event be sure to place one in front of every seat.

#8 – Upload your brochure to your website for visitors to view and download.

If your market is individuals:

#1 – Place your brochure in places where people will see them and have time to read them. This works if your market is predominantly the general public.
         Some ideas:

  • doctors’ offices
  •  garages
  •  post office
  • dentist offices
  • chiropractors
  • coffee shops
  • hair salons

#2 – Upload your brochure to your website for visitors to view and download.

If your market is other professionals in your industry who would call on you for work:

#1 – Create a cover letter introducing yourself and enclose your brochure. To make this more effective enclose your CV and let them know what you can do for them. Be sure to follow up for the best results. Without follow up you will get less than 1% response from your efforts. This can be very costly.

#2 – Attend industry trade shows and conferences and distribute your brochures. You can even slip your materials under the hotel room doors of conference attendees the day they arrive.

#3 – Align yourself with others who will be at trade shows and conferences and ask them if you can place your brochures at their booth.

#4 – Hire someone to pass out your brochures at the trade show and conferences if you cannot attend yourself.

#5 – Attend association meetings and distribute your brochures.

#6 – When presenting at an event be sure to place one in front of every seat.

#7 – Upload your brochure to your website for visitors to view and download.

True Perceptions has been helping private investigators, subject matter experts and attorneys market themselves for almost a decade. We can do the same for you. We know your market and how to reach them. If you need more business call us today at 678-583-0401.

 

Seven Top Tips for Creating an Effective Brochure

It is not easy to create an effective brochure. It is, however, a very important tool for marketing your business to potential clients. Before you can even start your brochure, you must know your market, their needs and how your service fills those needs.

Tip #1 – An effective brochure should convey your services and the benefits of those services that your prospective market will receive by utilizing your services, rather than about you or your services. It should have a call to action.  
Example: Service is surveillance. The benefit of surveillance if your client is an insurance company who handles workman’s comp would be, Reduced Cost – Smooth, focused video will allow you to prove your case thus reduce your cost.

Tip #2 – An effective brochure should be well-designed to build your brand and provide a professional image for your business. Your logo should appeal to your market and provide a professional look and feel for your business. Your tag line should evoke emotion and tell your market what they will receive by utilizing your service.

Example: WalMart’s tag line, “Save Money. Live Better.” paints a picture and evokes a positive emotion that makes people want to shop there. It does not tell you that they are a retail store.

Tip #3 – Select pictures that tell the story and colors that evoke a positive emotion.

An effective brochure is memorable and appeals to both the creative and the analytical side of the brain.

The creative side prefers photos, graphic images, diagrams and colors. This builds the picture without words.  The colors used in the brochure should be consistent with your company colors and evoke the emotion you wish to convey.

The analytical side likes information in the form of data, numbers, letters and other such material—just the facts. This element appeals to people who like to read and analyze.

Keeping a balance between the analytical and creative elements will ensure that your brochure appeals to a larger audience.

Tip #4 – Write your text carefully. Make sure you have a lot of white space, and avoid repetition. 
The text should be short, sweet and to the point. Only list the key points you want the reader to remember. By nature people are tuned into the “What’s In It For Me” station (WIIFM). The majority of people will have only three uninterrupted minutes to read your brochure and most people are on information over load.

Proper ordering of information, organization and layout of your brochure make it easier for readers to get to the important information.   People will read the front cover, then back cover, and then if you caught their interest they will open the brochure and read from left to right. If it is a tri-fold brochure, they will read the inner flap before opening all the way.

Tip #5 – Present benefits on the front cover and either testimonials or case studies on the back cover. Remember, people only believe 10% of what you say about yourself or your service and 90% of what others say.

Tip #6 – Have your brochure printed on quality paper. You do not want your paper to be too thin or think. If it is to thin, it screams “cheap”. If it is too thick, it cracks and looks of poor quality. A glossy paper gives the feeling of a high-end, professional or corporate. Everything you do or don’t do says something about your business. Choose wisely.

Tip #7 – Once you have an award-winning brochure, be sure that you get out there and market yourself. Whether attending a Chamber of Commerce meeting or networking group, giving a seminar, or speaking with a prospective client, share your brochure freely. An award-winning brochure will do you no good if it sits in your office collecting dust.

True Perceptions has been creating effective brochures for private investigators, subject matter experts and attorneys for almost a decade. We can do the same for you. We know your market and what matters to them. If you need an effective brochure call us today at 678-583-0401.

 

The Mechanics of Creating a Winning Corporate Identity

What Your Corporate Identity Should Be
First and foremost your corporate identity should be market-focused. It should establish your relevance to the market and communicate your unique value proposition. People are much more interested in what you have to say if they believe that you are qualified to say it and that it will benefit them to listen. 

It is important that your corporate identity is consistent and harmonious. All elements of your identity design should work together in versatile media with a consistent brand message. People should be able to recognize ‘you’ wherever they find you.

It should be memorable. A good corporate identity has longevity in consumers’ minds and in the marketplace. Strive to develop an identity that will remain relevant long-term and won’t be easily swept away by the tidal information feed we all experience on a daily basis. For example, naming your company after yourself may seem like a good idea, but consider what it will mean long-term. How well recognized is your name? Will it help or hinder your efforts to grow your company beyond local or regional markets? What consumer benefits does your name convey?

Developing Your Tag Line
Your brand tag line should speak to consumers about them, not you. It should paint a picture of how someone’s life will be better for doing business with you. Wal Mart’s tag line, “Save Money. Live Better”, is a perfect example. It is succinct, catchy, and evokes the feeling that If I shop at Wal Mart I will have more money and a better life. ‘Better’ might be a beach vacation, new appliances, or more money to pay bills. The details don’t matter. What does matter is that many consumers who hear this tag line believe that shopping at Wal Mart will help them achieve what they envision.

Designing Your Logo
Many consumers will be introduced to your company through your logo. What first impression do you want to make? When designing your logo you need to think first about how you will use it. Finishing effects like shading, shadowing, foil stamping and embossing that add pizzazz to stationery and business cards may not be reproducible on signage, vehicle graphics, and web sites. Colors that pop on paper may look diffuse or mottled on cloth or plastic. You need to select design features that are transferable to various media. 

Color and style are two important elements of logo design. It’s important to choose colors that represent who you are and what you stand for. Colors have meaning and evoke emotions in people.

Red is excitement, strength, sex, speed, danger, sale and stop.
Blue is trust and reliability.
Orange is playful and vibrant.
Green is growth and abundance
Black is sophisticated and elegant.
Gold is prestigious and expensive.
Silver is prestigious and scientific.

Your logo style should be consistent with your identity. Who are you in the marketplace? How do you want to be seen? Professional, sophisticated, trendy, high-tech, serious, playful, elegant, flashy, global, conservative, fun, reliable, dedicated? Choose a style that matches your corporate personality.

Producing Your Logo
Logo production and reproduction is as important as logo design. The quality of your logo production speaks volumes about your company and sets a consumer’s initial expectations about you. Details such as the quality and thickness of paper, font size, and print quality speak volumes about your pride and attention to detail.

Business Card, Letterhead and Envelopes
Your logo figures prominently in the success of your business card, letterhead and envelopes. Every piece of company stationery impacts the person who sees it and reads it. You want the perception of your company to be one that builds trust, credibility and quality.  Stationery that is of good quality and consistent with your corporate identity is a powerful way to brand your identity in a consumer’s mind.

At True Perceptions we are corporate identity experts. We understand your market and we know how to reach it. We offer exceptional attention to detail and a guarantee of your satisfaction. Call True Perceptions today at 678-583-0401 for a free consultation and let us elevate your business above a crowded market.

 

Who Are You? The Role Corporate Identity Plays in Yours Success

Your company has an identity. Your corporate identity comprises everything the public perceives about your company – what you do, where you are, how you communicate… the value of your work, the integrity of your people, your level of commitment to your clients – your corporate identity is all of these, and your business is either strengthened or weakened by it every day.

Many times businesses are so busy trying to figure out who they are and what they do that they fail to recognize the dangers of identity crisis. A business may struggle for several years before the owner feels ready to solidify a corporate identity. In that time, business plans are developed and re-worked, marketing campaigns are launched and re-tooled, employees come and go, and consumers form and respond to their impressions of the company. The most basic truth about corporate identity is that if you don’t define and manage your identity, the market will.

Left to their own perceptions, consumer will choose your corporate identity based on their experiences. If you lack consistency in image or message, consumers will not understand how your business can benefit them. If your company changes direction or appearance too often, consumers will question your stability.  Your market is an ever-changing mix of subsidiaries, spin-offs, mergers and acquisitions. A consistent corporate identity ensures that consumers can always recognize you. It lets people know that your vision and commitment are consistent, regardless of what changes around you. Your portfolio of services will change over time, the size of your company may expand or contract, you may venture into new markets or shift personnel, but your identity – the essence of who you are and what you do – remains clear.     

A well-developed corporate identity says, “We are proud of who we are,” and is integral to a company’s vision, mission, strategic planning, marketing efforts, and daily operations. A solid identity has the power to inspire partnership within the company and between the company and clients by satisfying the human need to be part of something bigger than oneself.

A corporate identity is one of the most basic ways to foster consumer loyalty. People like to do business with people they know. People who come to know you trust your corporate identity whenever and wherever they find it. It doesn’t matter if it is on a web site, letterhead, a bill board or brochure. It is you, and they trust you.  That is the power of a corporate identity.

How do you feel when you hand your business card to someone? Proud? Confident? Or do you feel the need to say something like, “I know this card is not great, but…” But what? But your firm is top notch? But you are an industry leader? But no one works harder for their customers? A business card that falls short on quality or design will undercut a customer’s impression of your business and undermine your own confidence. If you wouldn’t wear torn clothes to meet a customer or prospect, why would you hand them a business card that reflects poorly on you?

At True Perceptions we specialize in identity development. We know how to translate your unique value proposition into a unified corporate identity that retains its value across various markets and media. We leverage corporate identity as a tool to help you create assets, attract new business and build consumer confidence every day.  

Call True Perceptions at 678-583-0401 today for a free corporate identity consultation. Find your voice. Speak boldly. Achieve more.

 

Does the Verbiage on Your Invoices Help or Hinder Your Collection Efforts?

Is it a good idea to include standard verbiage on all of your outgoing invoices? When you consider that it is an opportunity to make your clients feel valued and important, and that it can serve as a reminder of payment terms, it seems clear that invoice verbiage is a good business practice. But research has shown that like many aspects of your business, the actual effectiveness of invoice verbiage depends on what you say and how you say it. Here are some things to consider to get the most from your invoice verbiage:

Politeness has its rewards. A simple “Please pay your invoice within…” or “Thank you for your business” can increase the percentage of paid invoices by more than five percent! What difference would a five percent increase in paid invoices make in your business this year?

Specific terms yield better results. To many clients, the term “payable upon receipt” is akin to “payable whenever you get around to it at some point after receipt.” It is your responsibility to establish the terms of payment, and using specific terms in your invoice verbiage is a good way to help a client uphold their end of your relationship. “We appreciate payment within 21 days” is more helpful to a client (and to you) than “We appreciate your prompt payment.”

Clarity counts. Adopt your clients’ perspective as an internal check for clarity. You may be familiar with a phrase like “Payment terms: net 30. Interest accrued at 1.5% per month thereafter”, but your clients may not be. The phrase, “Payment not received within thirty days of the date of this invoice will result in an additional charge of 1.5% per month which will be applied each month until payment is received” leaves little room for misunderstanding.  

Similarly, you need to specify any additional charges that may accrue in response to an unpaid invoice. The phrase, “Client is responsible for costs of collection including reasonable attorneys fees incurred in the collection process” puts the client on notice and also protects you from having to pay additional fees to collect monies owed to you. 
Never assume that a client knows where to send payment. Each invoice should include accounts receivable contact name, mailing address, phone number, fax number, and email if applicable. 

Reinforce value. You can be nearly sure that someone in your client’s business looks at every one of your invoices. You have a captive audience for at least a brief time. Take the opportunity to reinforce the value of your business to the client and to acknowledge the value of the client to your business. Invoice verbiage should include a phrase that conveys gratitude, such as “Thank you for your business,” “We appreciate your business,” or “Your business is important to us.”

The appearance of your invoices will either reinforce or diminish your brand in the client’s mind. A neat, accurate, well-organized invoice suggests to a client that you are in control of your business and able to productively manage your relationship with them. Conversely, an invoice that is incorrect, sloppy, or confusing gives the impression that you are disorganized, inattentive, careless, or all three.

Of course, with all this said, the very best thing you can do to get paid more often and faster is delight your customers with a quality product every time. Politeness has its rewards, specific terms yield better results, clarity counts, and it is important to reinforce value, but nothing is better for your business than a customer whose expectations you have exceeded. 

The professional business consultants at True Perceptions are ready to help you develop the verbiage or design of your invoice. Contact True Perceptions today at 678-583-0401.

 

Lucky 7: Strategies for Collecting Past Due Receivables

“I would rather get a root canal than follow up on overdue invoices,” a small business owner recently confided. That got me thinking that overdue invoices are a lot like cavities. Both can usually be prevented with proper care and attention. If you ignore them they just get worse, and both cavities and overdue invoices are disruptive, distracting, and can become outright painful. With proper planning and prompt attention, you can minimize the impact of overdue invoices on your business. Here are seven strategies to get you started.

1. Feel the urgency.  You lose money every day an invoice is past due. Outstanding monies owed to you cannot be used for sales and marketing, procurement, or capital improvements you need to make to grow your business. Also, your chances of collecting a past due invoice diminish with each passing day. Feeling the urgency about past due receivables will keep you focused on the action strategies outlined below.

2. Invest an ounce of prevention.  Minimize the occurrence of overdue invoices with a system of formal credit policies and terms that includes non-refundable deposits for large orders and scheduled progress payments for long-term services. A 20-30% up-front deposit helps ensure client commitment and assigns value to your work from the outset. Scheduling periodic payments throughout the life of a work agreement can help you identify and react to “slow pay” clients before one unpaid invoice becomes two, three or more. 

3. Always be polite. Even the most conscientious client may misplace an invoice or experience a temporary cash flow problem. Your client may be embarrassed about their late payment, and you can help preserve your relationship with politeness.

4. Flex when you can, direct when you must. Do what you can to meet a client halfway. Most clients will appreciate your willingness to adjust a payment schedule, and it increases the odds of you collecting monies owed to you. However, your first obligation is to your business bottom line. Make only those compromises you can afford to make, and take the lead on establishing the terms of the new payment schedule.

5. Be proactive.  One missed payment easily becomes two, and a client who is unable to make a single payment will almost certainly be unable to make two. Reach out to clients within a few days of a missed payment. Politely point out that they missed a payment and ask when you can expect to receive it.

6. Standardize your collection procedures. Having a formal plan in place will make your collections more efficient and fruitful and will free you up to focus on other aspects of your business. It’s important to detail both a schedule and strategy for collections. It is critical to be consistent with your invoicing. For example, who will be responsible for managing collections contacts? How far past the due date will you initiate a collections contact? Will your first contact be a phone call, an email, or a letter? When and what will your second contact be?

Keep in mind that some larger companies pay invoices according to their own internal schedule. Make sure to ask when they process invoices for payment and what deadlines you need to follow in order to receive on-time payments from them. 

7. Cut your losses. Every business owner has experienced the point of diminishing returns, when they realize that the cost of pursuing an unpaid invoice has become higher than the money owed on the invoice itself. If you reach that point, you can either accept the loss or contact a professional collection agency for assistance. Collection agencies are well-versed in legal means of collection, and sometimes the involvement of an outside agency is the motivation a client needs to bring their account up to date.

The professional business consultants at True Perceptions will work with you to develop accounts receivable procedures that fit your business and improve your bottom line. Contact True Perceptions today at 678-583-0401.

 

Successful Businesses Need Leadership: How Well Are You Leading?

Your perception creates your reality. Whatever you perceive as being unachievable you will not achieve, but whatever you perceive as being achievable you will achieve.

Let’s talk today about leadership, one of the five key business principles. Along with vision, perception, reputation and consistency, leadership is vital to you, your employees, and your business.

Every business needs great leadership. A great leader learns from the past, acts in the present, and plans for the future.

Without leadership, a business struggles. It could even fail. Employee morale and productivity are low. There is no structure, no vision, no growth. Is it any wonder that leadership is the difference between success and failure in business?

And it’s not just a lack of motivation or desire. As an entrepreneur, you have plenty of both, so what’s keeping you from becoming the leader your business needs, the leader you want to be? Many times it’s fear, but because we’re financially and emotionally too close, we can’t stand back far enough to see what others can see. 

Stop and think about the friends whose businesses or personal relationships don’t seem to be working—yet although it’s clear to you, they can’t understand what’s wrong. What’s clear to an outsider is often impossible for us to recognize. We need perspective.

Yet gaining perspective isn’t enough. The missing cornerstone is accountability. Great leaders need accountability. We always do what we promise others, but many times put off what we need to do as entrepreneurs to propel our own business forward. Maybe it’s fear, or a lack of clarity, but the end result is inaction. Inaction leads to frustration and discouragement, and many times, to failure. Is it any wonder that running your business sometimes just isn’t enjoyable any more?

Just as employees are held accountable for helping to achieve the company’s goals through evaluations, constructive criticism, and following a plan for improvement, a leader must also accept and welcome accountability. Accountability keeps us focused and allows us to get more accomplished. It’s in our nature as human beings.

Great leaders always have a coach, someone who keeps them accountable, supports them in their growth, and helps them achieve their goals and objectives. Medieval kings had their fools, who weren’t fools at all, but wise and observant men who questioned and challenged their monarch through jest. Abraham Lincoln surrounded himself not with people who agreed with him, but with people who questioned him and held him accountable. Throughout history, great leaders have sought out a trusted advisor who could be counted on to provide focus, honest feedback, and accountability.

There’s no better time than now to call True Perceptions and ask us to be your business coach and accountability partner. We will help you achieve what you want to achieve. During your coaching sessions, you will:

    * Gain clarity and perspective
    * Identify what you really want
    * Uncover what is stopping you
    * Set goals
    * Map out a strategy to achieve your goals
    * Accept accountability for meeting those goals
    * Experience positive change
    * Reduce your stress level
    * Experience business and personal growth

Yes, you will.

 

You Will Never Be Greater Than the Vision That Guides You

No athlete gets to the Olympics by mistake. It is not a matter of luck or training, either. The one thing that drives all Olympians to persevere through years of pain, failure, and heartbreak is VISION. A vision answers the question, “What will success look like?” It is the pursuit of this image of success that really motivates people to work towards their goals.

Vision is as important for the health of your business as it is for Olympic hopefuls. Vision inspires creativity, ignites purpose and innovation, and fosters growth. It provides a blueprint against which to measure your progress and make course corrections as necessary along the way.

It is not enough to have a vision. The power of vision is unleashed when it is written. Developing a written vision for your business is one of the surest ways to achieve more. With a written vision you can begin to set goals, make a plan to reach them, monitor your progress, measure your success, and move forward with clarity. With vision, all things are possible; without vision, most things are impossible.

Are you a follower or a leader? Do you look for opportunity or make opportunity where there is none? Do you want to act upon the world or be acted upon? A company without a written vision is destined to remain reactive, forced to respond to the conditions that develop within and around it. With management spending a majority of time putting out fires, little time is left for nurturing the business. Creativity stagnates, work products and services are inconsistent, and customers leave, taking revenue and profits with them. Internal chaos and poor communication lead to role confusion, low employee satisfaction, and high turnover.

Conversely, a company that is guided by a written vision is proactive and able to stay on track when circumstances threaten to derail forward momentum. An ordered structure of leadership and accountability feeds productivity, award-winning customer service, and an abundance of the right kind of referrals. Time is spent where it should be – advancing business objectives – which increases profitability, business growth, and employee satisfaction.

Every day True Perceptions helps companies create roadmaps for their success, and we have the means and motivation to help you create yours. Through our exclusive Coaching and Ask the Expert programs we can help you define a vision that will motivate you and the members of your organization to stretch expectations, aspirations, and performance.

Consider this: Yale University surveyed its graduating class of 1953 on commencement day to determine how many of the graduates had written goals for their future. Only 3% had such a vision. In 1973 the surviving members of the class were surveyed again. The 3% who had written their vision twenty years prior had accumulated greater wealth than the other combined 97% of their class. 

What difference can a written vision make in your business? Find out! Call True Perceptions today at 678-583-0401 to unleash the power of your vision. 

 

Inconsistencies…What Are They? How Are They Hurting Your Business?

The key to differentiating yourself in a competitive market is consistency. Consistency builds credibility, security and long-term business partnerships with clients, prospects, and employees.  Inconsistency undermines your credibility and diminishes your reputation. Inconsistencies in communication, performance and customer service are particularly potent.

Communication
Inconsistent communication – for example, delayed responses to phone calls or e-mails – makes people question your reliability, accessibility, and opinion of them. If you are too busy to communicate they may assume you are too busy to handle their work and handle it well, or they may think you don’t consider them important. Either way, it’s not a message you want to send.  The quality of your communication is as important as the timeliness. Inconsistencies in the look or tone of your correspondence quickly erode your professional image and dilute the power of your brand.

Performance
Performance comprises everything about the way you conduct yourself and your business. Inconsistencies between your brand assertions and the quality of your marketing communications confuse potential clients and diminish your message, making it more difficult for you to gain new business and command a higher rate for it. If your marketing message is not consistent across industries and media, potential clients will be confused about who you are and what you can do for them. Your core value proposition is the same in every market. You need to express it clearly and consistently in order to grow your business.  

Regardless of what you say about your work performance, inconsistencies in the quality or format of your work product, the timeliness of work submitted, and your availability for follow-up all signal the same thing: I am not reliable or professional, and I may not have the ability to do the work you require. Whenclients and prospects experience performance inconsistencies they are highly likely to look for someone else to work with.

Many employees and sub-contractors will do the same. Almost all people want to know how their performance compares with expectations. Employees and sub-contractors look to you for performance guidelines, protocols and evaluation. Inconsistency in direction or feedback from management damages morale and makes it difficult for employees to achieve their goals.  

Customer Service
Most clients are willing to forgive delays and errors provided they are infrequent and resolved quickly and consistently, but they shouldn’t have to. Prospects with no history of success with you may be less forgiving. Inconsistent customer service implies a lack of concern on your part. It catches clients off guard, turns prospects off, and breeds discontent among employees and sub-contractors.  Great customer service is remembered for a while; poor customer service is never forgotten. 

Inconsistent phone communication can cost you business right out of the gate. Clients and prospect notice whether or not the phone is answered quickly and professionally and whether or not it is answered at all! It makes a difference in their impression of your business and their comfort level with you.

Pricing and billing are two other areas where consistency is important. Inconsistent pricing can cause surprise and resentment with clients and prospects, as well as significant administrative challenges for everyone involved. If clients are not billed as they expect to be, they lose time and money clearing up confusion in accounts payable.  You lose their respect, their trust, and maybe their business.

At True Perceptions our mission is to eliminate inconsistencies that could undermine your credibility. Call True Perceptions today for a free one hour consultation.

 

How to Eliminate Inconsistencies and Increase Your Profit

Building a business is exciting, gratifying and energizing. It’s a dream come true. Maintaining that business? That feels like hard work, and it is. It is always easier to build a business than it is to maintain it. But anything worth building is worth maintaining. Eliminating inconsistencies in your business will help you maintain its health and increase your profits, and that brings you back to the fun part of business.

The best way to eliminate inconsistencies in your business is to scrutinize what you do and how you do it, and develop written business policies and procedures that will build consistency at all levels of your business.  Without written policies and procedures, you are vulnerable to inconsistencies that will challenge your business (at best) or destroy it (at worst.) Developing well-thought out policies and procedures will keep you focused on doing the right things well when workloads and time constraints threaten to compromise the business you work so hard to build. 

The benefits of creating best practices through written policies and procedures impact all levels of your business and brand as experienced by your clients, prospects and employees.  It is particularly important to eliminate inconsistencies in communication, performance, and customer service. These three areas are major leverage points for growing your business, and also points of myopia for a lot of companies. Many people are too busy in their day-to-day operations and too close financially and emotionally to be able to conduct a granular assessment of internal inconsistencies.  

Michael E. Gerber’s book, The E-Myth Revisited; Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to do About it, cuts to the heart of the issue with fresh, useable insight that can help any business owner improve the way they do business.

Nothing beats a trained set of eyes and an outside perspective to analyze what works and what doesn’t, and most importantly, why. True Perceptions has the knowledge and tools to help you identify areas of inconsistency and develop the policies and procedures to eliminate inconsistency from your business. We understand that “Consistency created credibility. Credibility brings longevity.”

Call True Perceptions for a free one hour consultation.

 

Don’t Lose Clients: Keep them satisfied.

How are you evaluating your business? Do you routinely examine your business image and performance though the eyes of your client?  Do you know the right questions to ask?

To some degree, we all have blinders on. Do you think your clients see every aspect of your company exactly as you do? Do you assume your clients agree with every action you take just because they never object?

We all tend to project our personal ideas about 'how things are' onto the way we believe others see us. Though we may see ourselves as honest, hard working and integrity driven, how can we be sure that others see us this way?

Studies show that the majority of customers will not complain about a service when something is wrong. They will, however, share bad experiences with a dozen or more friends and colleagues, after they take their business somewhere else.

How are you evaluating your business? Have you even looked to see how many clients you are losing? Most small businesses do not evaluate their business in this context. Only with proper assessment of your business can you determine what is working and what is not. If we fail to take the time and invest the resource to review the quality of our work as others see it, all too soon it may be too late to salvage the brand-name security we believe we already possess.

Gathering pertinent information about how others see your company is the only way to know the truth about how your company is being perceived. And there is much more to gaining clarity, direction, and focus than having your assistant send out a questionnaire by email.

The questions you ask, how you ask them and the way a survey is constructed must build trust with those responding so they feel comfortable to give honest opinions. And there is no point in conducting a survey that aims at less.

There must be an ironclad assurance for each respondent's anonymity. Consider, perhaps, that one of your best clients has a recurring issue with your work but, for whatever reason, is reluctant to broach the subject. This client must by some means be persuaded to understand that their candid response will benefit them as much as it benefits you.

Also, the questions you ask must be pertinent, direct, brief and meaningful. Finding out what you need to know without offending or boring the busy people you serve is delicate work that requires expertise in cognitive, behavioral and marketing science. Are you up to the task?

In addition, it is beyond difficult for anyone to hear criticism from others without emotionally flinching. Many times, this will provoke a knee-jerk reaction which may further damage a client's perception of you.

Essentially, all such research must be conducted so that the process itself enhances your company’s image. That’s why online surveys are unreliable. The impersonal, standardized, oversimplified approach comes across as clinical. In addition, you can’t know absolutely who is actually answering your questions.

At True Perceptions, we personally talk with each respondent. We provide a 'buffer zone', free from emotional attachment. We also provide respondents with the guarantee of anonymity, so they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

True Perceptions helps you measure your performance and shows you how to obtain more business by analyzing what others think about you. We work with you to set short- and long-term goals to keep your clients satisfied and we soft-sell your business to your clients every step of the way. 

Quarterly assessments of your business image, coupled with immediate actions to dispel rumors and resolve complaints, will positively affect your bottom line year after year after year. True Perceptions is the specialist when it comes to employee and client satisfaction surveys. We let your employees and clients know that their opinions and what they see matters to you. And letting everyone know how much they are valued helps employees buy-into your company’s vision, mission and action plan.

Just doing a professional satisfaction survey says something good about your business. It says to your company’s clients: “Wow! This company actually cares!”

Stand out from the rest by taking the time to hire a professional to help you learn how to serve your clients better. Call True Perceptions for a free consultation. Let’s examine your business image together. Perception Creates Reality®. Let us assist you in learning how you are actually being perceived and in creating True Perceptions of your business, today. ~~~

 

Perception, Reputation and Your Bottom Line

Reputation is everything. Should you doubt this, just ask Toyota.

Dubbed with Honda as "best by a wide margin" in the Consumer Reports' 2008 Car Brand Perception survey, the automaker's first-rate marketplace identity seemed unshakable.

Then in January this year, drivers' reports of life-threatening problems erupted across global media. By the time a full-blown recall made headlines, the BrandIndex rating on U.S. consumer perception of Toyota's overall reputation had fallen by nearly 60%.

The amount Toyota will have to spend on damage control and to regain customer trust is still unknown, but you can bet it will definitely cut into their profits, big time.

Hopefully, your company will never suffer such consequences. Still, allegations of incompetence may erupt at any moment no matter how good a job you are trying to do.

Sustainable success hinges on reputation. Your company’s image, in the mind of your client, must be above reproach. Trustworthy, consistent, reliable, steadfast, true-to-your-word. Is this how you’re being perceived?

Perhaps you think so, but do others see you this way?

Your opinion isn’t the most important one when it comes to perception.

No matter your preference for brutal honesty, evaluation of your company's public image boils down to taking a skeptic's inventory of your business practices and performance through the eyes of your employees and your clients.

How your employees perceive your business operations and management style will influence the way they represent you to clients, and you can rest assured that your clients will feel what is happening internally in your business, both the good and bad.

Are your clients and market seeing you as you want to be seen? Are they recommending your services to others? What is their candid impression of you and how competent you are at getting the job done?

From the way your telephone is answered to the organization of data on your website, every iota of information about your business coalesces in the mind of your client. Is your company seen as responsible, dedicated and tenacious, or a chaotic mix of the haphazard, flaky and obstinate?

What others see may be far removed from what you envision. There’s a story about a company whose solid reputation was the target of a smear campaign. Before they even knew it, their reputation was in tatters because of rumors spread by an unhappy client on the Internet and by listserve.

A study conducted by the Technical Assistance Research Program (TARP) in Washington D.C. shows that most consumers will not complain to management if something is wrong. The average client will tell between 9-15 friends about their bad experience.
Some 13% will tell more than 20 people but you will never know. More than two out of three clients will never come back. But, 95% of dissatisfied clients will return if their problem is solved quickly and with care, because they were made to feel valued and understand mistakes happen. A client survey makes your client feel valued and gives your client the opportunity to share things about your company that you otherwise would never know.

No matter that the rumors are false, the damage done is incontrovertible. What can you do to protect yourself from a blow-back like this?

For starters, keep an eye on the virtual world. Type your company’s name – and your name – into a search engine a few times a month. Get to know what’s out there about you. Keep an ear to the ground in-house. Listen not to pronounce judgment of those who deviate from your optimal norm, but strictly to get a clear idea of what others are saying about you.

The best way to harvest such information is by surveying your employees and clients. What do they see as your strengths or your weaknesses? How do they view your services? Are they happy with your customer service? Do they think your services are fairly priced? What inconsistencies do they see? What is their overall perception of your company? Do they routinely recommend you?

Finding the answers to these questions isn’t a task you can take on independently. People in general are reluctant to be critical to your face, however warranted criticism is one of the best business development tools around. Remember, you can only improve what you know about.

If your business takes a sudden downturn or company growth has stalled, it may be that undetected rumors or unaddressed complaints are negatively impacting your reputation. Do a reality check. Make sure that what your clients and employees are saying and thinking about you business matches the business identity you think you have and strive to maintain.

Quarterly assessments of your business image, coupled with immediate actions to dispel rumors and resolve complaints, will positively affect your bottom line year after year after year. True Perceptions is the specialist when it comes to employee and client satisfaction surveys. Call True Perceptions for a free consultation. Let’s examine your business image together. Perception creates reality®. Let us assist you in learning how you are actually being perceived and create a True Perception for your business. ~~~

 

It Is Cheaper To Keep A Client Than Replace One

In an article entitled "Keep Those Customers Coming Back!" the Better Business Bureau stated that businesses will spend roughly five times more to obtain a new client than they would to keep an existing one. And yet when you think of marketing, you think of reaching new clients, not your current client base.

In today’s economy, every client and every dollar counts. You cannot afford to lose any business or client. However, many times your current clients become neglected because you are too busy running day-to-day business operations.

It is your current client base that can provide you additional revenue by utilizing more of your services and referring you to others. Clients who come to you by referral are 2 ½ times more likely to refer you. This equals additional business and a growing client list.

By communicating with the clients you already have, you increase the chances of repeat business, add-on sales, and referrals. If you currently retain 70% of your customers a program to improve that to 80% will result in a 10% growth rate.

Many times, your clients are not aware of all the services you provide, or sometimes they simply forget about you when a need arises. You can prevent this by keeping in touch on a consistent basis. If you are not on their mind, you could lose additional business and even clients. Staying in touch with your clients on a regular basis will also build trust and brand awareness, which will give you a more competitive edge in the marketplace.

It is easy to become lackadaisical or too busy when it comes to staying in touch with your client base; you might even think “they will call me if they have a need.” Those with whom you have strong relationships will probably be loyal. Those with whom your relationship is not as strong can easily be swayed to another company. Make no mistake, your competitors are out there soliciting your clients through sales calls and marketing. If they become more familiar to your clients than you, they can steal your business.

Here at True Perceptions we saw that our clients were struggling to keep in touch with their clients due to time constraints. We did our research on possible solutions. We put together a focus group comprised of attorneys and businesses, and started asking questions when conducting client surveys with our clients’ clients. The results were that 86% would appreciate and welcome electronic newsletters that provided them with information about new bills, legislation, laws, educational pieces about different things a private investigator can do to help them, different case strategies and successes, how to identify fraud in a business, how to collect money, and other valuable tips. They want the information to be relevant and beneficial to them and want it to be short and to the point. Just like you, your clients are too busy to keep up with what is happening around them and you will actually be doing a great service to them.

The Internet is here to stay. In fact, e-marketing will increase by 13 percent in 2010. So, we got busy researching the best ways to put the Internet to work for you and your clients. To that end, we have launched a new service called E-novations: A service that will help you bring added value to your clients; keep your name and brand fresh in your client’s mind; foster relationships and create loyalty. This customized service will be targeted, monitored and measured. Your clients and potential clients can read your message and respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week. E-novations utilizes the strength of the Internet to increase your business and client list. This new service provides you three different ways to educate and market to your current clients and prospective clients: E-Newsletters, E-Proactive Marketing and E-Greetings. We have added new members to the True Perceptions team who will make this service seamless and effortless for you. Our experienced writer will write clear and concise articles, our creative designer will make sure your brand stays intact, and our administrative assistant will take care of all administration needs.

Let True Perceptions keep you in front of your clients so you can continue to run your business. To learn how we can help you, take advantage of our one hour FREE phone consultation.  

 

Smart Marketing Strategies for 2010

As the year begins and the economy continues to struggle, there has never been a more important time to plan your marketing strategies. Like never before, markets are changing at a rapid pace. It is important to keep your finger on the pulse of your market so you know which segment of your market is flourishing and which is declining.

It is critical that you plan well and spend your marketing dollars where they will yield the greatest return on investment. When preparing a marketing plan for 2010, first review what you did in 2009:

  • Identify the segment of your market that provided you the most revenue
  • Research to see if this segment of your market is still viable
  • Identify which of your services grossed the highest profit margin
  • Research to learn if these services are still in high demand
  • Research to see which services you offer might now be in high demand
  • Look at other services your current client base needs that you can offer

You do not want to waste marketing dollars to promote a service that is no longer in high demand nor market a high-demand service to a declining market.

Example:

For those of you who provide surveillance to insurance companies, the trend nationwide is that insurance companies are seeing fewer workers’ comp cases as claims drops because employees are fearful of losing their jobs and loss of business due to company closings. This has put a financial strain on the insurance companies. They are evaluating what they do and how they do it on a continual basis to stay alive. Many of them are now utilizing their own in-house investigators instead of outsourcing. You can see where this market is on a decline and has less of a need for surveillance. However, the need for some other services, such as fraud, bankruptcy and foreclosures, are still on the rise. Think about what part of the marketplace deals with these issues and how you can assist them with surveillance and other services you offer.

The five most important things when creating a successful marketing strategy are:

  • Know your market
  • Know where to find your market and where they look to find the services you offer
  • Craft all your marketing messages so they speak directly to your market and their needs
  • Develop a marketing campaign that will consistently keep you visible to your market
  • Talk about the benefits your market will receive by using your services — “what’s in it for them”

If you are marketing to attorneys, do not waste your dollars on an ad in the yellow pages. Very rarely will an attorney hire a private investigator out of the phone book. An overwhelming majority of attorneys — 96% — hire private investigators first through referrals from their colleagues, and second through sales calls, where they had the opportunity to meet the private investigator. If attorneys need a private investigator outside their geographical area, they will search the Internet. What they look for when searching the Web is a professional Web site and credentials that show competency. If you have met their criteria, they will then call your office. If you do not answer your phone, they move on. Why? Attorneys do not want to look bad, nor do they want someone who is not accessible or is unreliable.

With this type of knowledge of your market you are able to see the huge advantage of having a professional Web site that highlights your core competencies, and that answering your phone is of the utmost importance.

This information also tells you that this segment of your market finds and hires through referral. Now you can develop winning marketing strategies that work for a referral bases market.

Tips that work for this market:

  • Have frequent communication with your current client base
  • Focus a majority of your marketing campaign on educational marketing to make yourself the “subject matter expert”
  • Use a marketing tool so that attorneys can easily put your information in their colleagues’ hands
  • Build your brand through continual visibility

There are many ways to do this, but one of the most effective ways to market to a referral base market is through e-marketing. Tools such as newsletters and proactive marketing that highlight your services on a continual basis are the most effective forms of e-marketing. You can also conduct educational seminars, do postcard campaigns, e-greeting cards, sponsor events, network, have a booth at trade shows, write articles and place ads in magazines that your market reads, put out press releases, update your Web site and if your market utilizes the Web to find services you offer, spending money on SEO’s are important.

When planning your 2010 marketing plan, make sure you have a strategy that will work for your market. Make it concise and be sure it gives you the highest visibility to your market and will yield a high return on investment.

If you need help developing a marketing strategy for 2010, be sure to contact True Perceptions. We know your market and what type of marketing works best to create the results you want.

 

We hope you gain wisdom that will make a positive difference in your business.

A Solid Foundation for Success

To develop and maintain a consistent business image the first and most important task is to prepare a solid business foundation. Now I have never been invited to look at the foundation of anyone's new home. Instead, I am invited to the house warming, when all of the construction has been completed. Yet, everyone knows how important the foundation is to the structure of the house. Think about it, once the land was acquired, the builder's first project was to lay the foundation. It is the same with your business. Like a builder: the" land" you are building on is the idea. To implement the idea...  More >>>

Advertising May Bring Customers In The Door, But Your Business Image Keeps Them!

Business image is extremely important to customers deciding where to spend their money. Customers leave for many reasons, however studies show that seventy percent of customers who abandon one company for another report doing so because of the poor attitude exhibited by your employees. This is easily avoidable through perception management, which develops and maintains your business image.

In my experience, less than 15 % of businesses know how their business is perceived in the marketplace, or how critical it is to their success, credibility, and longevity. A company’s leadership may have a difficult time seeing the image they are currently projecting because they are too close and caught up in the day-to-day operations... More >>>

Is Your Business Image A Victim of Chaos?

Many CEO's I have worked with say that one day they woke up to realize that their company looks nothing like the original vision. The business may have changed as a response to:

  • Government regulations or deregulation as with telephone industry.
  • Innovation in the Market Place such as Google.
  • Customer Driven Trends in the Marketplace such as quitting smoking.

Companies must change to meet the demands of doing business by diversifying products as well as research and development of new technology. Small businesses may make alterations to their original vision based... More >>>

Bottom Line vs. Serving Others

In today’s business world, we hear much talk about increasing the bottom line. Many companies have actually sabotaged themselves by focusing solely on the bottom line. Why does focusing on the bottom line sabotage a company? Because the true core of business is about people. When a company looses sight of serving people their company culture changes and both employees and customers notice. When a company focuses solely on the bottom line, judgment can become skewed, decisions can be made out of fear, and their reputation becomes compromised. We all recognize that the bottom line is important to stay in business... More >>>

Hiring The Right Employees Are Key To Your Success

When developing and maintaining your business image, your employees play an important role. It is your employees who interact the most with your customers and perform jobs, which in some way affect your customer and how your customers perceive your company.

You must hire the right employee and not just fill the position out of desperation. I know there are times you are tempted to hire someone in a pinch, but this will cost you more than you can afford in the long run. We find when you hire out of desperation... More >>>

Leading By Example

It is critical to set a positive tone for your company by being a leader who leads by example. The phrase “do as I say and not what I do” will not allow you to be an effective leader. As a leader, you are a role model whose behaviors send a powerful and unforgettable message to your employees about what is expected of them and what is most important to you. You are the one who sets the standard by which your employees will calibrate their own choices and behaviors. This is why it is so important to lead by example and not by words void of action. To lead by example you must first... More >>>

"I would like to commend you and your team for your outstanding service in designing our marketing materials and our website.

After our conversation we embarked on a multi-point plan to market our company to our niche security market. What impresses me the most as separated you from other companies we were considering was your multi-point strategy starting with a client survey and then continuing with a new logo and website design and marketing materials and printing; much of which was built from information our clients provided during the survey. Not only did the survey allow insight into our client’s perceptions of our company but allowed us to immediately improve areas identified by our clients and to incorporate their suggestions and additional services in our website design and marketing materials.

It is for this reason that I would like to thank your staff for a job well done and I do not hesitate to recommend True Perceptions – as your company truly delivers the true perception of a company."

– Rick Staly, M.S., F.B.I.N.A
Executive Vice President/MGMR

American Eagle Sentry, LLC.


“The only question to ask yourself is, how much are you willing to sacrifice to achieve this success?"

- Larry Flynt


"The ability to triumph begins with you. Always."

- Oprah Winfrey

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