You may have been expecting the name of a great leader to appear at the beginning of this post. For this post, I have been studying Donald Trump. I read his book, “Think Like a Billionaire” with two goals- primarily to get a feel for his strengths and his leadership style for this blog, and secondarily, to absorb his advice. It was there that I found very little direct advice that really called to me, but I did find him celebrating his accomplishments. People become successful for their accomplishments. Donald Trump’s accomplishments include the beautiful buildings that he has developed around the world, and the talent that he successfully allocated to make those building happen. Also, the problems that he found, and leveraged to fix by using his real estate expertise and talented people. These accomplishments shined to me, but even more so, I was impressed by the Apprentice. He devoted a large part of the book to discussing The Apprentice. I was aware of the existence of the show, but I could never recall watching it. My intrigue led me to devote the entirety of a couple of days to watching the first season of The Apprentice, multi-tasked with other tasks. You may find that I post an entire blog devoted to the leadership strengths of Donald Trump, but for this blog, I give you the lessons that I took away from the first season of The Apprentice. Some was new advice for me, and some was wholly new ideas that will inspire my next moves.
If you have never seen the first season of The Apprentice, I highly recommend it.
Lessons from The Apprentice US, Season 1
Big Ideas are better than small ideas.
Risks only count if you believe in what you are selling.
Know your client.
Leverage who you have met in the past.
Sell for the moment and the future.
Build on the network of the successful- work with people who are already selling well.
Create win-win situations.
Watch your bottom line.
Don’t sell after its already sold.
Give people an experience.
Use every moment to work.
Use what you already have.
Split your sales. Start with your highest profit, bring in medium profit opportunities, and finish with low dollar possibilities to maximize the overall profitability.
Never act desperate.
Assume the sale.
The less you say, the better you sell.
It is always better to make friends than enemies.
Always consider everyone’s advice, but fight for your best ideas- balance.
It is better fail than to do nothing.
It is better to fight for your decisions than to agree with others about your failures.
Explain less when you fail.
Learn from hindsight, forgive yourself immediately.
Push your strengths more than you push others weaknesses.
Honesty is mostly valuable. Bluffing only works if you don’t show any sign of it.
You can rush a prospect out of a sale.
Learn what people value, and give them that and more.
Set expectations positive, but way below what you can deliver, than wow at the end.
The first impression is most important, the next most important is the last impression.
Enjoy yourself, and help others to have a good time, too.
Talking up yourself will establish a little of your reputation, showing your strengths will do far more for your reputation.
Fix problems, or find someone who can.
Quality Prospects are better than numbers of prospects- identify the qualities of the best prospects for you, and get them however possible.
Bid high, because you will have to come down.
Leave an impression- an impression is always better than no impression.
Surprise the people that count.
How you react under pressure and how you react when you are not expected to do anything are both times that people are watching you.
Do not stab people in the back. Be loyal.
Do not intentionally frustrate the people that you have to work with.
The little problems can quickly become big problems. So make sure someone is quickly fixing the small problems.
Respect people’s domain, even when you have to encroach upon it, do so with respect.
Don’t get hung up on the ways that people disrespect you.
Control your emotions.
No complaining, no excuses.
You need to make more money. You need very happy customers. You need your happy customers to tell others, that will in turn become more happy customers. This is how your business will become successful, and this success will make you very happy.
There are 20 things that I want you to do, to get more customers. Do these things on the internet and the day-to-day operations of the company. I want you to think of these things all the time. I want you to constantly improve on the way you do these 20 things. I want you to be very successful!
Is your business good enough? This is a hard question to ask yourself- you are biased. Most likely, you love your business and you think that it is great. But is it good enough for your potential customers to become customers, to become loyal regular promoting customers? Here is how to get them there.
First, know your potential customers. Ask them questions, and act on their answers. What problems do your customer’s face? How serious are those problems? What are the consequences if those problems are not solved in a timely manner? That is your reasons for being in business. That is the urgency that you should feel when you solve their problems- If I do not fix this, my customer will face the even bigger problem of… keep that in mind. Put a system in place so that you are always learning about your customers, your potential customers, and the potential customers that are probably lost to you forever.
Second, be accurate. This is a bare-minimum expectation. Give the customer exactly what they expect, exactly when they expect it. Remember names. Remember contact info. Remember the individual needs that you learned in step one, and deliver on those needs accurately every single time. This will not wow your customers. This is a bare-minimum expectation. If you can not deliver as expected, you have an incompetence that will put you out of business.
Third, be accessible. Be available. My pet peeve is restaurants closed on Sundays. I love to eat out most on Sundays. It is an afternoon of relaxation, and a wonderful time to enjoy a margarita over lunch. That is just my preference. My favorite restaurant is not open on Sundays. I spend about $40 there every visit, and would eat there every Sunday if they were open. In a year, that is over $2,000 in business that my favorite restaurant has lost from me- and I never eat alone. There is another angle to think of, as far as being available. Answer your phone. If you do not answer your phone, someone should be. The person who answers your phone better be knowledgeable about your customers and accurate. The worst business in the world to me is a telecom business that has no customer service, just a maze of answering machines to supposedly answer your questions.
Fourth, be exciting. You have to know your customers needs, deliver on them accurately, and be there when they need you. You also need to engage your customers. They want to look forward to something. Build up their anticipation, and deliver. This means events, contests, give-aways, games, jokes, behind-the-scenes- something needs to always be happening.
Fifth, be understanding. Understand your customers deeply. You should know them in a group way, but know them in an individual way. The more you can do for your customers, the easier that you can make their lives- the more that they will feel fiercely loyal to you. So discover those hidden needs, and act on them. This is risky, and if done well with deep empathy, it pays off high.
Sixth, be informative. People have a hunger for knowledge to solve their problems. So teach them how! Teach them and they will love you for it. They will admire you, and share your knowledge with others. Teachers make the world more efficient, safer, happier and inspiring. Be the teacher, the mentor, the coach to your customers. Keep them excited about learning and personalize what you teach them as you learn more about them.
You should never stop learning from your customers, and curbing what you learn from them to deliver better and better. But the world is wider than your customers.
Seventh, share from similar sources. Find sources in your industry that are similar to you. This can mean: experts in your field, success stories that your customers can relate to, and other voices in your community. Share that with your customers and your potential customers. I do not recommend sharing the media of your direct competition, but similar. That will diversify your message, and provide even more value to your audience.
Eighth, let them know you. Share your successes and your failures. Show them what goes on behind the scenes. Give them a personality to love and get attached to. Be human. Be real. Share your ambitions, and celebrate with your customers as your reach them. Share your failures and celebrate as you overcome them.
Nineth, be exclusive. At first thought, you may think that this contradicts my advice of always being available. It does not. I want you to First know who exactly you serve, and who you DON’T serve. Do not be afraid to turn down service to someone outside of your ideal client. It is better to not serve someone at all, than to serve them less than your best. It is better to have a reputation in a few peoples mind of being the very best, than in everyone’s mind of being ok, or less thank average. So decide who you will serve, and who you will not, and stick to it.
Tenth, get people involved all the time. Find ways to collaborate with other businesses all the time. Create events together. Pair your products and services into packages together for a limited time. Bring in guest speakers. Ask other companies to donate prizes to your contests and gain exposure in your market. Give other companies prizes for their contests and gain exposure in their markets. Promote musicians and use their music in your messages and events. Promote artists, and use their work in your graphics. Collaborate as much as you can and promote those people that you collaborate with, unceasingly. Promote them and tag them in your social media. Hang their messages in your stores. Place their messages with yours. Create win-win situations, and see how many people you can get to win. The more people that you collaborate with, the more people will learn who you are. The more you do for others, the more people will do for you.
Eleventh, share your success stories. These need to be real successes. You need to meet real milestones. If you can’t decide if you set a big enough milestone for yourself, get your customers to set your milestones. When you meet your milestones, share your success stories. Do internet and local media press releases. Organize parties for your major successes. Display your successes forever in your social sites and your websites. People want to work with people who have successes. Its not about bragging, and it shouldn’t happen to often. These are milestones that you have to work for. Successes could be your major product release, that will help thousands; your major profit benchmark, because you have so many happy customers; or your newest hire, because she is one of the most talented and most accomplished people in her field. Celebrate those major milestones.
Twelfth, always give. Give occasional discounts. Give prizes. Give advice. Give volunteer time. Give solutions. Give lessons. Give thank you letters. Give birthday specials. Give unforgettable experiences.
Thirteenth, always create. Create new how-to articles. Create packaging. Create events. Create new products and services. Create inventions. Create games. Create contests. Always create something new, and get people excited for it to be released.
Fourteenth, be the best you. I think that people lie to you all the time with certain cliches. I do not think most habits are breakable. I do not think that most things about you are able to be changed. You are you, and that is great. So become the best you. Find what makes your company so great and stay genuine. You can learn considerable amounts from studying the best companies. But your company is not South-West Arline’s, or Google, or IBM… Your company needs to discover its own greatness and feed that greatness. If you are bold, be more bold and better bold. Be the refined bold. If you are hospitality, be more hospitable, more specifically hospitable to the needs of your customers. Don’t strive to be best, strive to do your way best. Don’t waste your time copying, be genuine.
Fifteen, ask for customers. Ask your best customers for referrals. Ask for introductions. Ask for event invitations. And ask potential customers to become customers. Have a way to do these things really well. Asking for customers can be redundant, and can lack class or elegance. Before you ask for customers, you should deserve customers. If your company is a mess, you are not getting referrals because you are not capable of solving the potential customers problem. But, when you can really help people, ask for more people to help.
Sixteen, train others to mastery. It is strange how often that I meet business owner that are scared to grow their business past themselves. There is great power to raising an apprentice. There is more than enough business out there, and if there isn’t you might be in the wrong industry. When you go through the process of training another for your job, you get much stronger in your knowledge. Your apprentice will teach you things along the way as they connect your lessons to their experiences. Their enthusiasm can add to your enthusiasm, their love for your knowledge can add to your love for your knowledge. How great it must be to teach your child your trade! That is a noble endeavor that elicits patriotism in me Ah! The American Dream! Whether it be your children, or no, create experts like yourself. Clone yourself, so that there can be infinitely more customers helped, and your organization will grow. Then tout them all over your communication channels. Promote your all-stars in your social media, on your website, during your events. Get the people excited for these prodigies of yours and your company will grow.
Seventeenth, show gratitude to your customers. Thank them all the time. Thank them with words, and gifts. Think about how much each customer is worth, and that is how much they should be thanked. Do not be afraid to be grandiose. People need and love to feel appreciated.
Eighteenth, go after potential customers. Set your marketing up so that every potential customer will want to come to you. Build your reputation with success stories, and happy customer testimonials. Open the doors of your business as much as you can and be available for when those customers want to come in. Answer your phones. Be knowledgeable when you do, and deliver on your promises. All these things are important, and while you have the best system in place for customers to come to you, go after your ideal customers. Approach them intelligently. Tell them clearly that you understand their problems and you know how to solve it. Ask for the sale. If you can’t get the sale, why not? That is the time to learn more about how to better serve a potential customer. Keep going after potential customers. Sell most during the busy times. Market most during the slow times. Don’t just wait for people to come to you, approach them.
Nineteenth, under promise and over deliver. Disappointment in marketing is a small business destroyer. So set the expectations low, and blow their expectations out of the water. Hint towards an event, and reveal it with grandiosity. Surprise a customer with a little extra when you serve them. Go the extra mile with thank you letters and gifts. The little extra might be all that sets you apart from your competition.
Last is the action I feel to be most important. Stay in touch. Stay in touch with customers, and learn as their needs change. Stay in touch with vendors. Stay in touch with your city officials. Always be the first to know about events that interest your audience. Stay in touch with your audience with a regular contact, such as: social media, email, newsletters, and direct mail. Don’t be annoying, but stay in touch.
There you have it- loads of advice on how to get customers from the internet, and from the wide world. Stay in touch: Facebook.com/yourbusinessallies