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Secrets of Doing Great Business in Bad Times

Joan Holman with friend Harvey Mackay. Get a copy of "Mackay's 66" at or in his book "Swim with the Sharks"

I joined my marketing mentor Jay Abraham -- considered by many to be the top marketing consultant in the world -- in a conference call with several other marketing experts and business leaders to discuss selling and marketing in a bad economy.

Focus on the Positive
Review your business plan and update it for the current climate. Figure out where you have exposure, where you have opportunity and how you can adjust your products and services to respond to the marketplace. Break down all the processes of your business and get employees to solve problems.

1. Increase Your Use of the Internet for Marketing- The Internet is a powerful marketing tool -- this includes e-mail marketing and the World Wide Web. Get feedback from customers about your Web site. How easy is it to use? Are they getting the information they want? What else would they like to see on your Web site? You might want to consider having a usability study done on your Web site. This provides very valuable information and can help you develop a Web site that is customer-focused.

You can use your Web site and e-mail to get closer to your customers and strengthen your relationship with them. You can provide feedback forms right on your Web site. You can create an online newsletter and ask your customers for permission to e-mail them whenever a new newsletter is posted online. You can post gift certificates and discount coupons on your Web site. Whatever you do, don't send unsolicited bulk e-mail to your customers and prospects -- called spam. This can really harm your business and your business image.

Most Web sites are very poor marketing sites -- very few people know how to write effective marketing copy for the Web. It is similar to direct mail copywriting, but not exactly the same. You may want to consider having a marketing assessment of your Web site, which includes an evaluation and suggestions for improvements.

2. Get Close to Your Customers & Their Needs-Call your customers. Talk to them. Take them out to lunch. Conduct market research. Find out what is going on in their business.

3. Know Your Customers Professionally and Personally-Get as much information as you can about your customers. Use Harvey Mackay's "Mackay 66" questionnaire to develop an extensive customer profile (posted on his Web site at and in his book "Swim with the Sharks".)

4. Re-Establish Relationships with Your Top 20% of Customers-You know the 80--20 rule: you will get 80% of your business from 20% of your customers. Figure out who those people are and get especially close to them.

5. Be Seen as A Trusted Advisor-Fall in love with your customers. Have their best interest, their well being at the heart of your business. Send them helpful tips, articles. Think of ways to benefit their lives, and even create new products and services for their needs.

6. Don't Be Just A Commodity-If you compete on price alone, that is all you will ever be able to compete upon. Be more than a commodity. Find some way to add value to your product or service. Harvey Mackay notes that customers want "recognition, respect, reliability, service, friendship, help." And he adds, "Once you attach your personality to the proposition, people start reacting to the personality, and stop reacting to the proposition."

7. Get Your Active Customers Buying More-Have them buy larger units of sale, buy more, buy more often.

8. Create Strategic Partnerships-Consider joining forces with others. Form a cooperative. Barter your services. Back-end your own customer base by endorsing the products and services of other businesses. You can receive a fixed commission, a percentage of the sale, or simply exchange these endorsements with others.

9. Look Outside Your Industry & Copy Success Practices of Other Industries


New York Times Bestselling Author
Harvey Mackay with Joan Holman

Joan Holman with Marketing Guru Jay Abraham

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