Marketing to new homeowners has long been a valuable tool to attract new customers. Many companies like Welcome Wagon offer this service to businesses. My problem has been that once you sign up for the service, your marketing dollars get spent on mailings to people that, although they are “new homeowners,” they are not new to your neighborhood.

Companies like Welcome Wagon spend your marketing budget on mailings to anyone that has turned on a utility within a two mile radius of your business. They pride themselves on showing you that 1,000 new homeowners have received your offer through their mailing. The problem is that, in reality, only 20% or 200 people are actually new to the area and are in need of an introduction to your business. The fact is, on average, 80% of the people on the list that they are selling you, have moved less than ten miles. This means that most of the 80% will continue to use the services of the businesses that they have already developed a relationship with. It means that their drycleaner, salon, dentist, doctor, landscaper, handyman…etc, will remain the same after they have moved. In other words, you just spent money to send a direct mail piece to 800 people that are already your customer or will not switch to you. There are ways to win these customers over to your business (see http://tinyurl.com/ccxlkh), but it is not likely to happen with a mailing through Welcome Wagon or similar companies.

There is a company, however, that will focus on the 20%, “Cream of the Crop,” that are actually NEW to your neighborhood and will need your services.

www.YourNewNeighbors.com provides lists of New Neighbors that have moved 10 miles or more. With their list you should achieve 3 to 4 times the response rate that you will get with the older systems and you will save money at the same time.

These targeted New Neighbors need to find your business, because now they live too far away to travel to their old Salon, Dentist, Drycleaners, Doctor, Landscaper, Handyman and more!

If this makes sense and you would like more information about your area, please call 888-867-1905 or email info@YourNewNeighbors.com.

Jeff Battiston   www.twitter.com/jbatts

Jeff is Founder and CEO of Global Capital Services, a company that provides financing to businesses and municipalities.

A Quick Guide to Writing Effective Copy for Your Web Site
by Jeanne Yocum— Tuscarora Communications, Ltd.— http://www.yourghostwriter.com

#1:  Understand the connection between content and credibility.

#2:  Realize that good writing needn’t be expensive, but bad writing is always costly.

#3:  Start fresh; what you’ve written for your marketing brochure won’t work on the Web.

#4:  Develop a Web personality.

#5:  Keep it simple.

#6:  Make it easy for your visitors to understand your copy and for search engines to find it.

#7:  Create a style guide and use it!

#8:  Provide value-added content.

#9:  Update content regularly so the site does not become stale.

#10: Proofread, proofread, proofread.

For a detailed explanation of these ten tips visit Jeanne Yocum’s free Ebook:  10 Ways To Better Web Copy.

Jeff Battiston is founder a CEO of Global Capital Services, a financing company for businesses and municipalities.  Jeff also offers businesses a cost-effective way to build sales through appreciation and relationship marketing, Grow Your Sales Through Word-of-Mouth. Jeff can be contacted by email Jeff@GlobalCapital-LLC.com or follow him on Twitter.

The majority of my business–especially the high-ticket and repeat kind we all so love–comes via referrals. I will bet that the same is true for your business.

The reason: All things being equal, people do business with those they Know, Like and Trust. The next preference is to do business with those that have been recommended by others, they know like and trust.

So the key to generating more sales in business is, very simply, to become known, liked and trusted by your customers or their friends. How do you go about doing this?

The answer can be found in a book that was first published in 1936. (It is amazing how sound fundamentals can so often be overlooked or forgotten) How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, is one of the first bestselling self-help books ever published. As outlined by Carnegie, one of the most important techniques in getting someone to like you is to show that person honest and sincere appreciation.

As human beings, everyone wants to and needs to be appreciated.  So are you showing your clients and customers that you appreciate them?   We have grown accustomed to expect a “Thank You” at the time of purchase, but when was the last time you received a gift or a “thank you” card from the business you transacted with?  A  heartfelt “Thank You” card not only shows appreciation, it causes mutual appreciation for your company. It strengthens your relationship with your customer and makes them more  eager to return and do business again and most importantly refer their friends.

I will give you another example:

About eight years ago we sold a house and bought a new one. Because of timing, we happened to use two different realtors. The woman that sold our old house sent me her business card after the closing and I never heard from her again.  I don’t remember her name and I don’t remember the name of her company.

The woman who brokered the purchase of our new house was Kathy Day from Prudential. I haven’t seen Kathy in 8 years but I remember her very well. Why do I remember her?

  • She sends me Birthday Cards
  • She sends my wife Birthday cards
  • She sends us Holiday Cards
  • She sent us a Happy Anniversary Card and a gift basket for the One Year Anniversary of our house!
  • She sends new listing and closed sale updates
  • She even sent a card on the fifth anniversary of our purchase

Not only has she showed us honest and sincere appreciation as customers, but she made us feel as part of her family. So if somebody was to say to me “Hey, Jeff, I’m looking to buy or sell a house … Where Should I Go? Who would I recommend? Some woman I don’t even remember or Kathy?

Furthermore, statistics show that it’s cheaper to retain a client than to obtain a new one.  You have already made the investment to get the customers that you have, by showing them appreciation you are protecting that investment.  Sending personalized greeting cards is an inexpensive way to strengthen relationships and by strengthening your relationships with your existing customers and clients you are growing your business by retaining them and encouraging them to give referrals.  Consequently, the effect of sending a personalized card is very potent and profitable.  A verbal thank you or an e-mail to clients is a necessity, but in today’s world of electronic communication, there is nothing more powerful than sending a hand written, personalized and tangible card.

Another interesting point; Carnegie reminds us, “Remember that the person you are talking to is a hundred times more interested in himself than he is in you.” To this point, I have found that sending a card that includes my client’s or customer’s picture or a picture of something important to them, becomes a card that does not get thrown away. To the contrary, that card is hung on a wall or remains on their desk, always reminding them that I appreciate their business.

So you don’t think you have time to send a card?  It’s vital that you make time.  The online system that I use allows you to choose from 13k cards, personalize them with photos, your own hand writing and signature. These are not ecards. When you click send, they print, place your card in an envelope and mail it with a stamp. Best of all, it only costs 62 cents per card.  It will probably take, at the most, 3 minutes to send one card or one hundred cards. This tool also allows you to send gifts like brownies, books, gift cards etc.. along with the card. You can find this tool at http://www.buildrelationshipstoday.com.

Some other ways to show appreciation is to send a “Thank You for Doing Business” card to new clients, or send a card to prospective clients to thank them for taking the time to talk with you.

For one of my clients that owns a construction company, a card is sent when they complete a job with a picture of the final construction.  His sales have increased 352% in the last two months because of return customers and referrals.  Not only is this because of the quality service that he offers, but because he is following up and letting the customer know that their business is appreciated.

As Dale Carnegie told us many years ago, “Three-fourths of the people you will meet tomorrow are hungering and thirsting for appreciation, give it to them and they will love you.” Perhaps more true today than when he said it.

It is very important to have a quality product or service but you also have to have a quality ongoing relationship with your clients and that starts by showing honest and sincere appreciation for them.

Jeff Battiston   www.twitter.com/jbatts

Jeff is Founder and CEO of Global Capital Services, a company that provides financing to businesses and municipalities.

This is a great way to help create our own stimulus package — make a referral — all week March 9-13!

Here’s the Scoop from MakeAReferralWeek.com:

As the talk of recession crowds the news and economic stimulus package debates rage in Washington DC, it’s time for small businesses to take the matter into their own hands. Therefore we hereby declare March 9-13, 2009 – Make a Referral Week.

Make a Referral Week is an entrepreneurial approach to stimulating the small business economy one referred business at a time. The goal for the week is to generate 1000 referred leads to 1000 deserving small businesses in an effort to highlight the impact of a simple action that could blossom into millions of dollars in new business. Small business is the lifeblood and job-creating engine of the economy and merits the positive attention so often saved for corporate bailout stories.

Individuals around the globe will be invited to make at least one referral to a small business and visit http://www.MakeAReferralWeek.com to share the referral details, including information on why they referred a particular business. Each day during the week one referral story will be chosen as the “best referral of the day” and the referred business and referral source will each win a Referral Gift Prize featuring signed books from recognized referral experts.

The Refer-O-Meter will monitor the march towards 1000 referrals given throughout the week.

~

What a great way to “circle the wagons” and take care of our own! Will you join with us and refer someone to a business in our community?

Here’s a few ways to join in:

  1. LOG ON to makeareferralweek.com and pledge to make a referral.
  2. TELL SOMEONE about a good experience you had with a local business.
  3. TRADE LINKS with another area business on your website to refer business back and forth online.
  4. ASK A HAPPY CUSTOMER for a referral.
  5. TELL US about your referral experiences – Click on “Comments” at the top of this post, or email bonnieh@perryop.com.

Have a great week of referrals!

– Bonnie

Some people support Obama’ stimulus plan, while many others expressed their disagreements. If you’re not satisfied with the government’s response, what should you do? Well, Mark Cuban had an idea: create his own stimulus plan. This puts a whole new twist in the old saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

The billionaire entreprenuer and owner of the Dallas Mavericks announced his intentions last month on his blog, and it’s still ongoing. Joining is simple: leave a comment on his blog, post your business plan, wait for a response. Almost 2000 comments have already been recorded as of this time. Unlike most VC projects, he aims to make his chosen startups profitable as quickly as possible, so your business model should reflect that. Interested? Follow these rules:

1. It can be an existing business or a start up.
2. It can not be a business that generates any revenue from advertising. Why ? Because I want this to be a  business where you sell something and get paid for it. That’s the only way to get and stay profitable in such a short period of time.
3. It MUST BE CASHFLOW BREAK EVEN within 60 days
4. It must be profitable within 90 days.
5. Funding will be on a monthly basis. If you dont make your numbers, the funding stops
6. You must demonstrate as part of your plan that you sell your product or service for more than what it costs you to produce, fully encumbered
7. Everyone must work. The organization is completely flat. There are no employees reporting to managers. There is the founder/owners and everyone else
8. You must post your business plan here, or you can post it on slideshare.com , scribd.com or google docs, all completely public for anyone to see and/or download
9. I make no promises that if your business is profitable, that I will invest more money. Once you get the initial funding you are on your own
10. I will make no promises that I will be available to offer help. If I want to , I will. If not, I wont.
11. If you do get money, it goes into a bank that I specify, and I have the ability to watch the funds flow and the opportunity to require that I cosign any outflows.
12. In your business plan , make sure to specify how much equity I will receive or how I will get a return on my money.
13. No multi-level marketing programs.

Yesterday, he posted some of the early favorites to get funding, and it’s worth your while to study them to see what he’s looking for. The list was a mix of food and tech ventures, which might reflect Cuban’s own personality. If you have similarly brilliant ideas, go to the blog and leave a comment. Be sure to think it through and leave a short but compelling argument on why he should choose you.

Best of luck.

March 4th, 2009

The real Estate apprenticeship grant is one of the few grants that actually offer financial assistance for people who seek profit. Usually, government awarded grants are provided only for non-profit individuals or institutions.

The program aims to improve the US real estate industry by providing education and training to people interested in pursuing real estate as a career. It awards grants every six months totaling to $1,000,000.

By assisting new real estate agents the grant aims to help these novices increase their sales by giving them guidance and training, as well as the stat-up cost, all to improve the real estate industry as well as to improve the individual.

What can this grant do for me?

Based on each type of grant each finalist awarded the grant receives an estimate of $7000 in the form of:

1. Compensation of your licensing fee as well as the provision to attend any class offered by RealtyU School for once year.

2. Unlimited online access to a real estate mentoring service as well as counseling calls from your mentor.

3. Software named Transaction Manager that can be automated to store data from every transaction for every deal you make. It automatically calculates and stores due-dates and is very good for easy data access and storage.

4. A free consultation from McLean International Consulting at your own office. They will give you advice on business system technology.

5. A marketing package which includes the designing of your own stationary, business cards, envelopes and letterheads, a custom brochure, printing and design of PowerKards as well as your very own web site.

6. A detailed demographic information system about neighborhoods in the country.

7. 20-30 real estate books.

8. The real estate Success Kit with a mortgage calculator and a Laser Dimension Master.

9. Free printing from Express Copy

10. A one-year subscription to visual tours to help you create visuals for online listings as well as train you for neighborhood tours.

11. You become a member of the Real Estate Cyberspace Society

12. A subscription to the online magazine Broker Agent News and the print magazine, National Real Estate.

Who are eligible for the grant?

U.S. or Canadian nationals are allowed to take part in the grant provided that they have already taken a pre-licensing course at an accredited Real Estate School. The school should be state or nationally accredited and the participant must have taken the class during the six-month grant application season. If however the applicant has already passed his/her licensing examination, he is eligible for the grant if he has passed for a license within the same six months of grant awarding season.

How do I apply?

Go to their website, http://www.realestateapprentice.com/apply.cfm and register as one of the applicants. The application form is electronic and you will be asked to enter personal information. However, you are only allowed 500 characters per question so answer it carefully and briefly.

What Criteria is used for this grant?

The questions on your application form aim to assess your communication skills, integrity, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and uniqueness. Therefore your application form should contain as much of the talented you as it can.

The organizers who give it an initial grade, and then a panel of judges who are veterans first view the questions or otherwise well known in the industry are asked to judge each application form. These may range from industry leaders to sponsors of the grant.

15 judges one of them, the chairman of the panel, is appointed by the foundation. The chairman will then act as the coordinator for all judges as well as the judging process. The foundation only chooses the best and most experienced leaders in the industry and you are ensured that these people will be impartial.

Other things you should know.

* Always be ready with your proof of eligibility as the panel may request it.

* Finalists who are selected must be interviewed by the judges so prepare to look your best.
* It’s ok that you work for a real estate brokerage, but you may not work for a financial institution, insurance company or a title company on a full-time basis.

* The award isn’t tax-free
* If you do receive the grant, you will be required to show proof that you are indeed a licensed real estate agent.

· Once a finalist, you will be required to remain active as an agent.

A down economy is the best time to connect with your customers.

Consumers are seeking trusted business sources to hear their concerns and provide them with options. Customers want your ear and your empathy. They want to be heard and acknowledged. They need to know that you understand and care about what they’re going through — even if they’re not buying from you at this point in time.

It comes down to this: You may have the best product or service out there, but that alone won’t guarantee your success if you haven’t built loyal bonds with your customers. Your existing customers are your best customers. They will thank you with their repeat business and send you business referrals. And they will think of you when they’re ready to buy — in good times and in bad. But customer loyalty must be earned.

Unlike big business, small organizations are uniquely able to cater to customer needs and earn their loyalty. How do you do that? By being 100% customer focused every day, with every interaction, in every aspect of your business. Here are three ways simple ways you can earn their loyalty by focusing on super-serving your customers.

1. Be Passionate About Your Customers

Being passionate about your customers starts with listening to and hearing their concerns. Make sure you always understand what the customer is saying or asking. Educate them on the value of the products and services you provide, and offer them solutions based on what they need. Passion means proving to customers you are vested in their success.

Passion also means being accessible, accountable, and HONEST. If there’s a problem, don’t gloss over it. Own it. And don’t quit until you make it right. Saying, “I’m sorry, let’s work this out” goes a long way toward earning your customer’s gratitude and return business. Get on the phone, send an email or send a personal card and make that personal connection.

2. Use Every Interaction as an Opportunity to Build a Relationship

Consumers today are feeling beat up and shrugged off by the sorry state of some big-business customer service. Customers desire connection.

We have a mantra here: “Connect to give.” We make every effort to connect with our customers for no other reason then to stay in touch and strengthen our relationship. We remember birthdays, send advice and support, and sometimes just a hello and an inspirational quote.  In doing so, our customers rely on us as they do their friends and we take a lot of pride in that.

Every interaction — be it over the phone, in an email, or across the counter — is an opportunity to deepen your bond with your customer. Make sure all your employees share your commitment to your customers’ success.

3. Learn What’s Important to Customers and Deliver It

The businesses that are going to survive this economy unscathed are the ones who are listening to their customers and adapting their businesses based on customer feedback. By letting your customers know that you are not only interested in their feedback — but you are willing to act on it — you can build stronger customer relationships and earn your customers’ loyalty.

Extend invitations for customers to give you feedback at every opportunity. If you have a physical store, put a suggestion box at the counter — alongside your email sign-up list.

Include an open-ended question at the end of every email marketing communication asking, “How are we doing? What could we do better?” Better yet, do it in a “hand-written” card and send it in the mail with a stamp. That act alone will set you apart from your competition.

Survey your customers to find out what they want and need right now. Ask them, if they’re not buying from you now, why not? What would it take to get their business back? Report on that feedback to your mailing list in your future email marketing communications.

Write a Question-and-Answer column in your email newsletter inviting customers to sound off and tell you what’s on their minds. Offer free advice. Use customer feedback to inform your email marketing content and drive your campaigns.

The economy may be turbulent for some time. The good news is, building loyal customer bonds is an investment in your business’s future. Because when the dust clears and the economy picks up again, loyal customers are more apt to come back to a trusted source with whom they’ve done business before. But that’s true only if they believe you’re focused not on what you want to sell them, but on what they need. Today that might just be a good ear that shows you care.

For more information, check out www.BuildRelationshipsToday.com

Jeff Battiston, www.GlobalCapital-LLC.com

Jeff is Founder and CEO of Global Capital Services, a company that provides financing to businesses and municipalities.