25
Jul

Finding the Extra Million Dollars Hidden in Your Business How follow-up can net you more money and grow your business.

Finding the Extra Million Dollars Hidden in Your Business
How follow-up can net you more money and grow your business.

Dan S. Kennedy
VIP Contributor
Author, Strategic Advisor, Consultant, and Business Coach

Could you use an extra million bucks?

I’ll wager the answer is yes. Well, I’m happy to direct you to where that extra million is hidden inside your business. It’s in the follow-up that isn’t happening.

Many times, owners of profitable ad and marketing campaigns are terribly slothful about this. If they spend $1,000 to get 50 calls, then only convert five to appointments and only acquire two as customers — but those customers are worth $1,000 each, they turn $1,000 into $2,000 and are pretty happy about that.

But each call cost $20, and 45 didn’t turn into appointments — that’s $900. Nearly as much waste as profit. But the total reality is far worse than that. If with diligent and thorough follow-up, another five appointments and two customers could be had, that business owner has let $900, plus $2,000, slip through holes in his bucket. If each customer can be made to refer one, and an endless chain of referrals created, the $2,900 in waste goes to $4,900, then $6,900, then $8,900, then $10,900. Let that happen once a month, and that’s $109,000 that should have been in the bucket that leaked out onto the floor. In 10 years, it’s a million dollars. It’s my experience that in just about any small business, over a 10-year term, there is at least $1,000,000 in lost money to be had. If you own a small business and would like to retire as a cash millionaire, here’s your opportunity.

Direct marketing is never just about acquiring customers — what we call “front end.” It is as much or more about retaining, repeat selling to, cross-selling to, and ascending customers on an ongoing basis — what we call “back end.” It is also the means of building a system to prevent leads or prospects, who could be converted to customers, from getting lost and coming and going unnoticed.

Here are some of the holes in business buckets, through which money leaks:

1. The person who calls and asks questions, stays unknown, and gets no follow-up. Remember, you paid for that person. If you don’t capture his contact information so you can do follow-up marketing, you wasted your money.

2. Little or no follow-up on leads obtained at trade or consumer shows. This is particularly abysmal. In my most recent experiment at a big, local home and garden show, I visited nine competing companies’ booths, very clearly presented myself as a viable prospect for their products, made it clear I was not interested in lowest price and made sure they had my complete contact information (except email, which I do not use).

And what follow-up did I get? By mail? Zero. By phone? Zero. Each of those exhibitors paid to get me, then they did nothing with me.

3. No follow-up on referrals. When Betty says, “I told Billy about you. I hope he gives you a call,” the correct response is not: “Thanks, Betty. I hope he does, too.” That’s the common response, but it most certainly is not the correct response. You ask for and get Billy’s address so you can send him a copy of your book or information package, with a note mentioning Betty’s recommendation or a note from Betty, and an offer or offers. If Billy fails to respond, you send him a second letter. And a third, fourth and fifth. With offers. And you put him on your newsletter list and send him your monthly newsletter. With offers. You enroll him in your six-week email “course” tied to your product or service. That’s follow-up.

4. No immediate follow-up to new customers. Newly acquired customers need to become frequent and habitual repeat purchasers or ascend to higher levels of membership or somehow move from first transaction to committed rela­tionship. This means they need to be quickly thanked, welcomed and brought back, moved up or otherwise committed. Think about the last five times you patron­ized a business for the first time — store, restaurant, ser­vice company, professional practice. What formal thank-you did you get? In four or five out of five, none. What “welcome to the family” gift did you get? None.

5. No prevention or organized rescue efforts related to lost cus­tomers. For more than 30 years, surveys have consistent­ly revealed “indifference by provider” as, by far, the #1 reason customers leave a business and drift elsewhere. Not some egregious act of incompetence or negligence or insult, not cheaper prices, not anything major. Just a sense of indifference toward them. That left them open to easy seduction.

The best answer to lost customers is, of course, not having any. That requires very frequent, very consistent, and interesting online and offline communication. On-time rescue efforts work. Every kind of business has a set time by which a customer should be back — for the clothing store, it’s once before each season; for the diner, it might be every morning; for the auto salesman, every three years. Whatever it is for you, alarm bells should go off for every customer not back before his stamped-on expiration date, and that alarm should set in motion a flurry of marketing and follow-up activity.

I’ve just named five holes that exist in many businesses, but there are other holes. You have to find every hole in your business and plug it.

8
Jul

What Is Greenwashing?

What Is Greenwashing?
By Carlyann Edwards,

You’ve probably heard of whitewashing, defined as the glossing over or covering up of scandalous information through a biased presentation of facts. But greenwashing isn’t as well known. It occurs when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. Environmentalist Jay Westerveld coined the term in 1986 in a critical essay inspired by the irony of the “save the towel” movement in hotels.
Origins of greenwashing

The idea of greenwashing emerged in a period when most consumers received their news from television, radio and print media, and didn’t have the luxury of fact-checking in the way we do today. In the mid-1980s, oil company Chevron commissioned a series of expensive television and print ads to broadcast its environmental dedication. But while the infamous The People Do campaign ran, Chevron was violating the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and spilling oil into wildlife refuges.

Chevron was far from the only corporation making outrageous claims. In 1991, chemical company DuPont announced its double-hulled oil tankers with ads featuring marine animals prancing in chorus to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. It turned out the company was the largest corporate polluter in the U.S. that year.

Greenwashing has changed over the last 20 years, but it’s certainly still around. As the world increasingly embraces the pursuit of greener practices, corporate actors face an influx of litigation surrounding misleading environmental claims.

In February of 2017, Walmart paid $1 million to settle greenwashing claims that alleged the nation’s largest retailer sold plastics that were misleadingly touted as environmentally responsible. California state law bans the sale of plastics labeled as “compostable” or “biodegradable,” as environmental officials have determined such claims are misleading without disclaimers about how quickly the product will biodegrade in landfill.

Even the water industry tries to overrepresent its greenness. How many plastic bottles have you seen with colorful images of rugged mountains, pristine lakes and flourishing wildlife printed on their labels? Arrowhead promotes its Eco-Slim cap and Eco-Shape bottle while claiming, “Mother Nature is our muse.”

“The core theme has stayed the same,” said Philip Beere, founder of sustainability content marketing company g Communications. “The No. 1 violation is embellishing the benefit of the product or service.”

Beere said he believes greenwashing is rarely caused by malicious plots to deceive, but is more frequently the result of overenthusiasm, and it’s easy to see why marketers are enthusiastic. Sixty-six percent of consumers would spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand, according to Nielsen’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report, a figure that jumps to 72 percent among millennials.
Brainwash or Greenwash?

With the belief that consumer demand for sustainability is the frontier of our transition to a greener, fairer and smarter global economy, Futerra’s 2015 Selling Sustainability Report offers 10 basic rules for avoiding greenwashing.

Fluffy language: Words or terms with no clear meaning (e.g., “eco-friendly”)
Green products vs. dirty company: Efficient light bulbs made in a factory that pollutes rivers
Suggestive pictures: Images that indicate an (unjustified) green impression (e.g., flowers blooming from exhaust pipes)
Irrelevant claims: Emphasizing one tiny green attribute when everything else is un-green
Best in class: Declaring you are slightly greener than the rest, even if the rest are pretty terrible
Just not credible: “Eco-friendly” cigarettes, anyone? “Greening” a dangerous product doesn’t make it safe.
Gobbledygook: Jargon and information that only a scientist could check or understand
Imaginary friends: A label that looks like a third-party endorsement … except it’s made up
No proof: It could be right, but where’s the evidence?
Outright lying: Totally fabricated claims or data

There are plenty of wonderful companies telling their environmental stories to the world, and even some who aren’t that should be. The incidence of “pure greenwash,” purposeful untruths or impacts of products, is not that prominent. However, there’s a lot out there that gets close. Beere describes the buzzwords commonly used to greenwash as a “slippery slope” and advises any company ready to go down it to invest in educating their marketers.

“Eco-friendly,” “organic,” “natural” and “green” are just some examples of the widely used labels that can be confusing and misleading to consumers. If you’re ready to slap some grass on your logo, be transparent with customers about your company’s practices and have information readily available to back it up.

One example of transparency is activist outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia. Unlike most companies, Patagonia doesn’t sugarcoat its use of chemicals or the fact that it leaves a footprint. The company’s sustainability mission is described as a “struggle to become a responsible company.”

“We can’t pose Patagonia as the model of a responsible company,” the website reads. “We don’t do everything a responsible company can do, nor does anyone else we know. But we can tell you how we came to realize our environmental and social responsibilities, and then began to act on them.”

Do your best to tell your sustainability story and avoid greenwashing. After all, we all know how costly a trip to the cleaners can be.