What’s Up with a Corporate Communication Plan?

If you have a company that employs sales staff or account executives as part of your business plan their whole career revolves around speaking with potential clients and current customers. They have their own tactics, plans and communication styles. But what happens when your customers or clients become disenchanted with their contact or if that person is no longer with your company? Do you have a corporate communication plan in place with over-arching, brand enforcing messages?

If for any reason the sales staff or account executives aren’t communicating in a consistent manner, a corporate communication plan means you still stay top of mind. So what should you be communicating? Think first about what your recipients would find relevant. By no means should you be blaring out in-your-face promotional messages every time you contact them. Go for a more subtle approach, but keep in mind some key points to communicate about your company: service, variety, knowledge and quality. Continue reading “What’s Up with a Corporate Communication Plan?”

Last Minute Corporate Gifts for Foodies

Well, the holidays are fast approaching! If the holidays have snuck up on you, I would say you have about a week left for your last minute corporate gift purchases.  One of the best ways to keep business relationships healthy is through targeted holiday corporate gift campaigns.  Who doesn’t like to receive a gift?  Giving current and past customers gifts show that you value the relationship and that you want it to grow.

If you can, always gift something you can produce. Using your own products as holiday corporate gifts is a great way to show off your strengths and products. Most people B2B companies give gifts to their customers, and you know they already like your products, so why not suplliment their holiday gifts with them? Introduce them to a new product line, or something you think they may like

Of course, giving your clients something from your business is not always possible. Maybe your products are not something easily gifted, or maybe your company offers services only. Our recommendation… Food! Everyone enjoys a treat now and then, it’s easily sharable and it’s everyone’s size. Here are some ideas for those last minute purchases:

  1. Harry and David Gift Baskets

     

    These baskets come in all different sizes and price ranges.  The beauty of this gift is that you can target it to the customer/prospect that you are trying to reach.  Does this particular customer like pears? Well, there is a basket for that.  Mixed nuts?  Same thing.

  2. Omaha Steak Gifts

    Maybe gift baskets are just a little too traditional for your tastes.  How about another food based gift instead?  In fact, the king of food- Steaks!  Omaha Steaks offers a large selection of premium, ready to ship meats that can be ordered online and delivered straight to your customer’s door.  Just choose from one of their packages and give them an address to ship to.  This is a great idea for some of your clients that need that little extra TLC.

  3. Cutlery Sets

    Sticking with my theme of food based holiday gifts- the cutlery set.  This is a traditional and yet creative gift at the same time.  Cutlery is the type of gift that will stay with your customer for years to come.  If done right, this premium knife set will keep you in their mind just about every time they prepare a meal. As with all gifts of this price level, you need to target just who would receive this one.  Is the investment worth the cost, or would another more modest gift be more appropriate?

 

What are your company’s corporate gifts this holiday season? We would love to hear from you!

4 Tips on Creating the Perfect Sales Team

Selling is no easy job, and it takes a special individual with a thick skin to be successful in it. A successful sales person must be friendly, outgoing, creative, a quick-thinker and detail oriented among other things. Most people just don’t make the cut. However, there are some people you meet and you know instantly what their profession is: sales. You want these people on your team. Unfortunately, that’s not always who you get.

I use LinkedIn quite regularly and am no stranger to the sales pitches that often flood my inbox. I am amazed however, how many time people grossly misspell my first name, which by all accounts is not a difficult name. The kicker is that it is displayed right above the message box the whole time they are writing! Why would I trust you as a business partner if you can’t take the time to spell check my name? This is not a good way to make a positive first impression.

Creating a sales team is a difficult task for any company. Creating a team that will be responsible for your revenue generation is even more intimidating. So, who should you hire for your sales team?

 

  1. Build a team of memorable people

If you want your company to be top of mind, you should hire memorable people for your team. This doesn’t mean necessarily to hire the most eccentric person you can find, but hire the most deliberately genuine person you can find. Look for someone who is memorable because they make such a great impression to your potential clients. Treating your client like they are your only client, goes a long way in making them feel valued.

 

  1. Hire someone with experience

Yes, they may cost more, but the benefits outweigh the cost. An established sales person will come with potential contacts for your business. He or she will more than likely have an established sales technique and how to interact with customers. It often takes years for a sales person to develop their stride and come up with a successful sales strategy, hiring someone who already has this in their toolkit means shorter acclimation time.

 

  1. Hire someone with no experience

On the flipside, hiring someone who might not have the experience on paper, but shows character potential can be a great addition to a sales team. Typically, these people can be had at a lower salary and can offer a fresh perspective to your sales strategies. What they lack in experience, they make up for in gumption and are not hardened to years in the profession.

 

  1. Give them a chance

Whether you come from a sales background or are new to the profession, beginning a new job is tricky. Not only are you developing relationships within the company, but outside of it as well. The company may be starting their sales from scratch, and it takes time to fill the pipeline and build up customers. A general rule of thumb is that it may take a year for a sales person to land the first big sales. A lot of companies don’t want to wait this long, but you’re doing yourself a disservice. Don’t hire someone, train them, then fire them (barring if they have misrepresented themselves or for ethical reason). You’ve already invested in them, wait to get their return.

 

What are your top rules when adding to your sales team?

Spice Up Your Prospecting

We have all heard the phrase that “Diversification is Key” in terms of long term success.  While mainly employed in the financial investment field, the principle holds true with sales as well.  We must change up our methods every once in a while in order to stay relevant and prevalent in a potential client’s mind.  According to research, a human’s average attention span is less than 10 seconds.  With the advent of smartphones, tablets, GPS systems and all of the other technology we encounter on a daily basis, we humans have gotten used to stimuli coming at us from multiple locations and in many forms.  When reaching out to prospects we need to be just as diverse and variable as their normal day.

So, how can we spice up our prospecting and diversify our approach to sales/prospecting?

 

1. Employ multi-channel prospecting

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. There are many methods to choose when deciding how to reach out- phone calls, email, direct mail, physical visits, gifts, etc… It’s important to use multiple methods at the same time.  The goal is to provide as many “touches” with the customer as possible without becoming obtrusive.  A great 3 step method that I like to employ is the “call, email and note”- reach out with a phone call, email a thank you for the prospect’s time, and then send a handwritten note through snail mail.  This method works well for initial communication and shows potential clients that you care and are willing to work for them.

Another example would be employing a full multi-channel marketing campaign with targeted prospecting from gathered data.  In this case, use a combination of direct mail and email marketing to reach out to the customer and gather data through special offers/personalized urls/etc.  With this data you can now target prospects that already know about your company and have expressed interest. This method for prospecting has the distinct advantage of pre-qualifying leads and giving your sales team an easy conversation starter.

 

2. Gift giving

Everyone loves to receive gifts right? The practice of giving gifts to prospective clients is a method that can have great results, but also must be used wisely.  The investment to buy and send physical products is much higher than traditional methods, as is the potential return on that investment.  With the fast approaching holiday season the time is ripe to employ this method.  The most important step in this process is to target the correct prospects.  Previous customers and prospects with large buying power are probably your best bet.  If a $25 package of chocolates can help secure $25,000 in business it is well worth the cost.  Choose a prospect that you have a high chance of landing and invest the money to tip the scale in your favor.  No matter what, giving a gift provides you with a great reason to follow up.

A lower cost and more variable alternative to the physical gift would be online codes or discounts.  Sending out a special offer to prospects you met at a tradeshow or those from a specified industry, allows you to reach a wider audience and mitigate your costs.  In the end it only costs, if the coupons are used.  These coupon/discounts are indeed considered gifts though and therefore, provide your sales team with a great reason to follow up.

 

All in all, change it up a bit try something new.  Your potential client’s and sales will thank you. 

5 Tips to Create a Sustainable Social Media Marketing Plan

In business, social media has long been thought of as something that is expendable. It’s an afterthought. Something that will be taken care of when we get through with all of the other ever-present things that consume our waking hours spent at work. But as marketers and non-marketers alike have learned, that is simply not the case anymore. Having a social media marketing plan adds to your exposure, leads to increased sales and makes your brand an integral part of your consumer’s life.

Here are some tips to creating a successful social media marketing plan:

 

1. Plan ahead

Don’t wait till the day or moment of to configure a post or come up with content. If you do this, you are stuck with whatever you can find in a time crunch. Your schedule is busy, so you may not have the time to look right then. Instead, try to carve out an hour or two a week to gather content and schedule posts. That way your social media marketing plan can be adjusted on an ongoing basis. Use a program like HootSuite (it’s free!) to schedule posts across platforms. That way, when you get caught up working a project, social media won’t be on your to-do list.

2. Be Consistent

At the minimum, on most platforms, you should post daily. Some platforms, like Twitter or Snapchat, may require more attention. Know the time requirements before you commit your brand to one platform over another. A worse thing than not having a social media account is dead air. So keep this in mind when creating your social media marketing plan. When I am making a purchase, the first thing I do is view a company’s social media accounts. This tells me what they are like, if there are coupons and what people are saying about them. If I see a company hasn’t posted in a year or even a month… I write them off. It’s important to consistently upkeep your accounts with posts and interesting information.

3. The 80/20 Rule

While in a round-about way social media is a sales platform, it’s not in the traditional sense. Do not make the mistake of only posting your own content, or only trying to push your agenda. Share useful tips from other sources, post a funny picture or join in on a current viral trend. Also, consumers use most social media platforms for their personal lives, so be personal. Here you are not just a brand, you are people and individuals. Share pictures from company events and highlight employees. Put faces to the brand.  Eighty percent of your content should fall into these categories, only 20% should be sales content.

 4. Talk Back

Another big mistake that is made by companies is not interacting with their fans and followers. This is not a one way form of communication, so don’t treat it as such. Likewise, understand that there will be negative comments at least once. Address them, don’t delete or ignore them. If handled the right way negative comments won’t hurt your business and can actually increase loyalty. Acknowledge the good and the bad. Most of all, show your consumers that you care about their praise and their complaints.

5. Have Fun

And the most important part: have fun! While social media can give you serious results, it’s not meant to be a serious platform. Show your humor; show your company’s personality. Formal posts have less chance of being shared and going viral, so give your fans content that they would like. Get creative with your posts and topics. Not everything has to somehow relate back to what you do. Sometimes it’s enough to post something relevant for that time.

 

A social media marketing plan is a viable way to grow your business and gain new consumers. It doesn’t have to be a complicated venture, and can be quite fun. Share your social media tips below!

Why You Should Be Using an Autoresponder

We are of the era where we want instant gratification. You want an answer? Don’t discuss it with your friends, type it into Google. Are you hungry? Pop in those pre-cooked meals in the microwave or hop into the nearest drive-through. Our need for instant gratification transfers over to the online marketing realm. On average, people won’t wait more than 7 seconds for a website to load. That means businesses have one chance, a 7 second chance, to gain customer interest before it’s on to the next business… Usually a competitor. It’s gotten so serious; people have been known to call 911 when Facebook is down.

So to market properly in the time of “I want it, and I want it now”, we look to options that can fulfill this desire. Cue autoresponders.  Everyone in the business world uses them when you are away from the office, and in marketing it is no different. An autoresponder allows you to acknowledge the customer or prospect’s presence and begin developing that relationship that is needed. I’m not talking about just one automated message saying “thanks for the inquiry” or “We are happy to add you to our mailing list”, those are no brainers. I’m talking about making an ongoing marketing campaign that is triggered with an action. Here’s why:

 

1. It saves you time in the long run.

I’m not going to lie to you; an autoresponder marketing campaign is time intensive to set up. However, once it’s set up, it takes little effort to maintain.  Instead of spending time weekly (or daily) to decide what content to send to people it can be set up ahead of time and sent appropriately when triggered by an action. Every time a new visitor shows interest the campaign automatically begins for them and takes them through the marketing messages. The responsibility is no longer on a single person (or team of people) that may be extra busy one day and not have the time to begin the campaign manually. Remember, 7 second attention span.

 

2. It makes sure recipients are getting the information they want, when they want it.

Autoresponder marketing campaigns can be as complicated as you want them. Generally the more complex and tailored the campaign is, the better the results.

A simple campaign may look something like: An interested prospect signs up for your email list that promises to send industry information, blog post and special offers. Your autoresponder campaign sends them a welcome email and then will send them pre-determined, static content (that all email list recipients receive) once a week until the end of time.

A complicated campaign looks something like this: An interest prospect signs up for your email list that promises to send industry information, blog post and special offers. Your autoresponder campaign sends them a welcome email and then sends them a post of recent blog topics. They open the email, and click on an article about social media marketing. This triggers an email that will be sent two days later that offers more information about social media trends. The recipient does not open that email, so they are placed back on the segment to receive random blog entries one week at a time.

 

3. It engages your audience.

You want your brand to be top of mind with consumers, and that’s not always the case. It’s unrealistic to think that you will have the time to engage your customers every time you should in an effort to drive business. And we all know the old saying “out of sight, out of mind”.  Autoresponders prevent this lag in communication from happening. You communicate with your customers while becoming a consultant. I recommend only sending one sales message per five emails. When you are regularly engaging with your consumers, not every message needs to be about you.

 

Autoresponders are a great way to easy some of the marketing burden off of the team, when there is already a lot to do. Be sure to take advantage of these whenever possible in addition to your other email marketing techniques!

Do you use autoresponders in your marketing arsenal? We want to hear your stories!

Why Outbound Marketing Fails: Part 2

If you tuned in a couple of weeks ago you know that I had a heart-to-heart with my marketers about outbound marketing. I discussed that, while we marketers rely on outbound marketing, it’s not the most cost-effective or ROI producing strategy. As an alien once said, “It’s a trap!” (points for anyone who names that movie!). Don’t fall into the trap of outbound marketing, friends.

While this technique is not efficient on its own, it can be used sparingly in conjunction with another method: inbound marketing. As a recap, outbound marketing can be defined as sending your message (typically company-centric) out, primarily to people who may not be familiar with your company. On the other hand, inbound marketing focuses on getting the right prospects to contact you by outputting engaging, customer-centric information. In fact, the information may have nothing to do with your products or even mention your company. Great inbound marketing should facilitate a learning environment and should be useful information to the reader within the industry.

Take for example the buyers journey. This is recognized throughout the marketing industry as the steps leading up to a purchase. I’m sure this will ring true with how you handle most of your large personal purchases as well.  Buyers spend most of their time in the awareness stage, and are looking for objective, strictly educational content. It is here that you have the initial opportunity to get in front of the prospect. They aren’t ready yet for informational pieces about what YOU do, but want education about things pertaining to your industry or trends.

The techniques that we discussed in part one of this series should not take place in the awareness stage. The awareness stage is where inbound marketing takes place. Most likely, outbound marketing will happen frequently in the consideration and decision stages. So let’s take a look at the outbound techniques we discussed in the first installment and how we can use them in conjunction with inbound marketing.

 

Cold Calling

While cold calling has proved to be an ineffective marketing strategy, a similar technique can be used. For example, as a prospect continues down the buyer’s journey and consumes the content you are producing, they may be open to hear about your product or solution. However, unless they fill out a form asking for contact with their initial download; it probably isn’t appropriate to call them as soon as they view introductory content. When they reach the consideration stage of their journey and are looking at white papers, free trials or other explanatory materials they are ready to hear more about what you offer. This is a sure sign that it is appropriate to “warm call” them.

 

Email Marketing

Email marketing in itself is a very successful marketing technique. Just keep in mind that you want to make sure that everyone has opted in to your email marketing. We discussed in part one that sending emails to a bought or rented list can result in your IP address being flagged. No one likes SPAM, you included. So just don’t do it.

Email is a great way to engage your audience so send exclusive offers and free, educational content. Research your industry and learn the appropriate number of emails to send a week. Maybe you work and retail and its standard to send an email out every day, or it could be that once a week is appropriate. Experiment with subject lines, images and time of the day to send to optimize your results.

 

Direct Mail

Direct mail can be successfully used in conjunction with online marketing. Because direct mail can be costly it is best used on a specific target audience and someone farther down the buyer’s journey. Do research ahead of time on your recipient audience, as different groups will respond differently to direct mail. The most important part of making direct mail work, is to treat it like you do email by only sending it to people who opt in. Blindly reaching out to people will not yield the ROI you are looking for. Use this mail opportunity to direct your recipient to a pURL (personalized URL) or your social media pages so they are continually connected.

Direct mail is also useful because of its longer shelf life than an email. In general, emails are viewed once and aren’t tangible due to its electronic nature. In contrast, direct mail is often left on a table and can be physically picked up and viewed later.

 

 

How do you best use outbound and inbound marketing? Share with us below or tweet us @DMEdelivers #DMEtips

Content Marketing in Its Natural Habitat

In my last blog, “Get Your Feet Wet with Content Marketing”, I detailed how to start content marketing. Today I’m in need of a diversion so let’s study content marketing in its nature habitat by looking at three of my favorite content marketers. As far as I’m concerned these three brands are getting everything right. They know their audience, their products and their platforms so let’s take a page out of their book.

 

  1. Starbucks’ Instagram

The Starbucks website’s “About Us” section notes that although Starbucks is obviously selling coffee, it’s also selling a connection, “a moment in time – just one hand reaching over the counter to present a cup to another outstretched hand.” Their Instagram account captures that connection.

Instead of posting photos of a perfect latte like you might see in the pages of a glossy magazine, they capture moments that their audience can relate to. They “regram” their follower’s photos, too and have propagated the hashtag, “#BaristaLove,” for photos of the cute writing and drawings Stabucks’ baristas leave on Starbucks cups or sleeves.

I would be lying to you if I said I’ve never been tempted to visit Starbucks after laying my eyes on one of their creative Instagram posts.  But judging by their 2,565,778 followers, I’m in good company.

 

  1. Airbnb’s Neighborhood Guides

Airbnb, founded in 2008 and based in San Francisco, CA, is a growing website community where users list, discover and book unique accommodations. Airbnb has listing in 34,000 cities and 192 countries with 600,000 listing worldwide and growing! You want to stay in a castle, lighthouse or treehouse on your next vacation? You came to the right place.

I’m guilty of “window shopping” but have yet to book an Airbnb listing; however I have discovered their Neighborhood Guides. And I’m impressed. Online travel guides are nothing revolutionary but Airbnb does it right. While many websites try to pigeonhole a destination into a one page, must-see guide with a few pictures, Airbnb breaks a city up into neighborhoods( Boston has 28!) and then allows the visuals to tell the story.

You leave one of their Neighborhood Guides feeling as if you’ve gotten a taste of the locale and now want more. The way they leverage that feeling is by cataloging their most popular and visually appealing listings in that neighborhood at the bottom of each guide. This is incredibly effective, and it’s hard not to just take a peak (And can a peak REALLY hurt? I think not.). And before you know it, the reservations are made!

 

  1. King Arthur Flour’s Blog “Flourish”

King Arthur Flour, America’s oldest flour company, has been in the baking business since 1790 but their blog “Flourish” is anything but old school. The name comes from the words “Flour + Nourish” not “flour-ish” like I thought when I first read it. Pronunciations aside, this is a top notch food blog.

If the scrumptious recipes and photos aren’t enough to keep you coming back for more, main author PJ Hamel’s laid back and fun to read writing style, pop culture references, personal anecdotes and step by step photo directions should! And the icing on the cake? She actively answers and interacts with readers. Her readers feel like they matter, she made a connection with them they won’t soon forget, especially when they are standing in the flour aisle!

Read our last post on why your direct mail efforts fail.

Now it’s your turn! Who is your favorite content marketer and what lessons can we learn from them? Comment below or tweet us @DMEdelivers #DMEtips

How to Succeed at a Tradeshow: Pre, During and Post

 

I’m sure I do not need to convince you that sales and marketing are two halves of the same whole. Both share the same goals and need to work together to achieve them. Marketing usually fills the sales funnel while sales… well closes the sale. I can’t think of a more perfect example of the collision point between marketing and sales than what surrounds a tradeshow.  The direct correlation between the number of people that you reach and the sales that your company will experience is one of a kind.  Essentially, you reap what you sew.

Exhibiting at a tradeshow is a cumulative process that involves both a company’s marketers and salespeople working together towards a single purpose-lead generation.  At a tradeshow you have an extremely limited period of time to convince individual prospects to stop by your booth.  Often, if they haven’t had any previous contact with your company this timeframe is contained to a single glance and chance.  Anyone in business can tell you that it’s never good to leave something to chance. Therefore, It is marketing team’s job to create an attention grabbing experience, before, during and after, that will allow the sales people to do what they do best- pitch!

The essential marketing and sales for a tradeshow can be broken up into the following stages:

Pre-Show:

Pre-show marketing is one of the least used and yet an incredibly efficient component to tradeshow success.  The goal of your pre-show marketing should be to create a buzz around your booth.  You should introduce your business to new prospects and provide them an incentive to visit your booth.   These reasons can be anything from a debut of a innovative product being demonstrated, a special discount for visitors only or a gimmick to look forward to (ex. “Stop by our booth for a game of putt-putt golf and win a FABULOUS prize!”).  The important thing to consider is that whatever the hook is, it needs to be both memorable and valuable so that your booth will be on the top of their list to visit.

The question now is how to communicate this.  Well, there are quite a few options.  The tried and true methods are direct mail and email blasts.  With most tradeshows you are able to purchase a list of confirmed attendees and their contact information in order to send out a mailing. They also offer email packages where they “rent” email addresses of the attendees. Typically you provide an html email and the tradeshow organization structures it and distributes it.  If you’re lucky, some shows even include these options within your exhibition fees.  Regardless, these lists are targeted, specific and well worth the cost.  You know exactly how many people you are targeting and the can craft a message tailored to your recipients.

Another component of pre-show marketing is the use of social media. This is NOT optional!  Post updates and invites to your show through the various social media presences that you control (blog, facebook, linkedin, etc).  Consider even running a special contest or promotion just for those who stop by the booth and mention that they found you through social media.  You may even be able to use your actively engaged followers to promote your booth for you on your behalf through likes and shares.

 

During Show:

While you are at the show you booth needs to be eye-catching and easy to navigate.  There is a very important difference between an exhibit that interesting and attractive and one that is overwhelming.  Keep that balance in mind when formulating your marketing plan for your in-show materials and booth design.  Simple and succinct is always my preferred method.

From a visual standpoint there are countless options, so it is important to do your research and find the best option for you.  Custom logoed back drops, rustic shelving, projected images, product display towers and many other options exist.  Find something to represent your product well and make you stand out from the competition.  Do you sell glow sticks and party products?  Well, why not consider blacking out a portion of your booth to allow your products to really create a unique experience. Like I said it doesn’t have to be a complicated booth, especially if you will be constructing and breaking it down on your own. Save yourself some heartache and sweat by taking the clear and concise approach.

Make sure you have talking points ready and your booth is fully stocked with marketing materials. Catalogs, examples, business cards and takeaways are all important to making that lasting connection with your prospects. Make sure to have plenty of well-designed and appropriate marketing materials.  When they can take your product away with them as a physical example you are guaranteed to remain in the front of their mind when the time comes to purchase or present to others.

 

Post-Show:

The follow up. It’s what I would consider the most important piece of the puzzle. You’ve marketed to them; hopefully you met them in person and sent them away with a sample of your product. Now what?   Without having a plan to follow up with the prospects that you met at the show, all of your work will be for nothing.  Your post-show marketing efforts should be planned out long before the show begins. And you should hit the ground running as soon as you pack up and the tradeshow doors close behind you.  It is a time for action!

Create a schedule/timeline of events to happen after the tradeshow is complete.  These events should include: follow up communication, delivering on any promises that were made during the show (samples, raffles, etc), and at the very least… thanking those who attended for stopping by.  On top of that, don’t be afraid to reach out to the other attendees that you didn’t meet if you are presented the opportunity. They may not be interested in your product now but they could be in the future, so keep that relationship going.

Follow up communication is a salesperson’s number one priority after the show.  Any materials that they may need for this activity should be prepared beforehand so there is little to no scrambling to fulfill.  The sales team’s only focus should be upon getting in touch with the people that they met.  Working from high priority to lowest, I would recommend that all contacts should receive some sort of communication within the first week.  With this communication include any samples or pricing promised during the show.  Also, be sure to make it personal. While mass communication may be okay for those you didn’t form a relationship with, it’s not for the others.

Thanking those who attended your booth is a great way to separate yourself from the pack.  Hand written notes for “hot leads” and other personalized thank you cards can go a long way in creating a lasting business partnership.  Show them that they are more than a number to you and you may just become more than another bee buzzing around their heads.

The key to having a successful tradeshow is to prepare thoroughly, be original and follow up in a timely manner.  Do those three things and success is guaranteed.


Read our last post on why variable data printing is a must have.

What are your processes for tradeshows? Comment below or tweet us @DMEdelivers #DMEtips

Unique Ways to Make a Great Business Impression

Success in sales can directly be attributed to the networks that you form and the relationships that you build.  Good working relationships create a sense of trust and of course people like to work with those that they trust.  Whether through your own rapport or through a recommendation of a trusted partner, the personal connection is most important to ongoing sales success.

How do I get the opportunity to build trust?  What can I do to get the initial meeting?  This is a challenge that is essential to new business development and one that has been taken on in many different ways.  Here are some of the standards: cold calling, office drop-ins, unsolicited emails and direct mail campaigns.  These options have all proven successful, but also have the distinction of having high rejection rates.  Ongoing rejection is not something that most sales professionals enjoy and eventually it will affect morale and effort.

I believe the best formula for new business generation is a mix of both the traditional methods and some out-of-the-box thinking.  Here a some of my favorite out-of-the-box methods:

1. Personalized Items

One great product for this purpose is a Personalized Candy Bar.  I’ve used this method myself, and must say it has a high success rate. Looking for something other than candy? we’ve written a whole article on the subject of cool personalized products. It’s an eye-catching addition to any introduction, and let’s be honest. Who doesn’t like candy? Personalized packaging shows that you are willing to invest both time and energy in in hopes of generating a relationship with the company.

Candy bar products can be ordered from PersonalizedGiftSource.com. Personalized Gift Source has templates to choose from, but also can design a package solely for your needs. DME chose to go with a traditional looking candy package, but the content speaks to our strengths as a company.

2. Connecting Through a Social Cause

(Source: www.completethepair.com)

Another unique option that I have come across, but have yet to use is:  www.completethepair.com.  This company operates as a matchmaking service for connecting prospective partners through emphasis on a social cause.  They send a single shoe to your potential client with an invitation to connect and “complete the pair,” thereby sending the completed pair of shoes to a child in need.

Helping the needy is a great thing, no matter the circumstance, but this is an exceptional way to begin a business relationship. By coming together for the common good, it helps to build trust and goal building skills early on.

3. Give Great Things Away

You don’t have to give away material things to give away something valuable. Advice and consulting services are highly valued in most industries. If your business is a product business, maybe free samples are a way to go. If you are willing to offer some great things BEFORE you even have a client, you are likely to build trust with that person. It makes them start to think about what the business relationship will be like and what intangible things they will gain from doing business with you. You’ve got to give some to get some. And not all of these instances will end in success, but you’ve no doubt stuck out in the potential customers mind as someone who is generous.

And sometimes, despite your best efforts the above tips may not work.  They can be overused as well, so don’t do it in every courting instance.  This is when you need to get truly creative.  Do some research on your potential clients and find out what they are passionate about.  The key is to find something that can connect you and your prospect together.

Whatever you decide to do, just find a way to show your prospects that they are more than just a potential sale. Let them know that you are willing to invest in them and they might just decide to invest in you.  From there, it’s up to you to build that trusted advisor relationship.

We would love to hear your ideas.

Read our last post on Web To Print Software.