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Education resource for the group travel supplier


Erika Fifelski

Erika Fifelski

Wednesday, 24 July 2013 11:21

Making an Impression

It’s a busy world, and getting busier. We’re connected—and then some. We want to make a good impression—pretty typically. We want to drive our business—always. But we don’t always remember that just because we don’t know a person doesn’t mean that he or she might not have an affect on what we’re selling or doing. A little “social graces” could go a long way, in any situation.

Recently, a colleague asked me: “What was the most rewarding mistake you ever made in business?”

It’s a great question and I quickly had an answer for him, because it was an incredibly painful mistake. However, it proved to be an invaluable lesson that has served me well in the years since. I’m sharing so perhaps you can learn it the easy way.

The lesson: Don’t ever stop marketing because you think you’ve reached the point where you don’t need to. And, secondarily, believe the old adage that warns, “Don’t put all your eggs into one basket.”

There’s a story, of course! 

Years ago, my public relations company connected with a large publishing house that served many prestigious authors. The first few of its authors we accepted as clients had such successful campaigns, we quickly became the publicity firm of record for this publisher. I thought we’d tapped the motherlode! The publisher kept a steady stream of clients flowing to us, and eventually, they became about eighty percent of our business.

We were so focused on delivering for these authors that we became much less focused on getting our company name out to prospective new clients. We slowly stopped marketing. Our newsletters ground to a halt. We didn’t waste time networking. We quit our efforts to get the same publicity for our company that we get for clients. Why bother? We didn’t need new clients!

We had a whole basket full of beautiful perfect eggs and we were happily skipping along with it. 

And then … it broke.

The publisher ran into some serious problems with its investors and the business came crashing down. And guess who almost went with it?

Our eggs were cooked.

Faced with only a few clients and no prospects, we got busy fast and cranked up the marketing department (me!) again. It took awhile to regain the momentum we’d lost, but, thankfully, we had a side business that could help pay the bills in the interim. Slowly but surely (this was before the age of social media, which really speeds things up), we built up a new list of prospects and clientsonly this time, from a diverse array of sources.

It was a terrible but powerful experience that demonstrated very clearly: No matter how great things seem to be going, you never stop marketing. It needs to be a constant hum, because if that hum stops, you know there will be a big problem ahead.

I stopped marketing because I thought I had all the clients I needed. Over the years I’ve seen others make the same mistake, but for different reasons. Here are a few: 

One great publicity hit is a really bad reason to stop marketing. I’ve talked to people who believed if we could just get them on The Oprah Winfrey Show (before 2011) or The Ellen DeGeneres Show, that was all they’d need. They’d be done. Yes, a big national show can give you a tremendous launch, but you won’t keep soaring unless you do something to stay in the public eye. I guarantee you, there are plenty of people you never heard of who got their “big break” and then disappeared because they stopped marketing.

Most of us won’t get those huge hitsand that’s not a reason to stop, either. I haven’t been on Oprah, but I often hear from prospective clients that I or my business was recommended to them by someone I’ve never met and don’t know. That’s what good, sustained marketing does. It may not always create fireworks, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working for you. 

Yesterday’s story is old news. Look for fresh new ways to stay in the public eye. The publicity you get today can continue to work for you online, but eventually, it’s going to be old news. We encourage our clients to post links to their publicity on their websites; it shows visitors that they have credibility with the media. But if those visitors see only publicity and testimonials that are five or ten years old, they’re going to wonder why no one’s been interested in you more recently.

Just as I put all my eggs in one basket by relying on one source for clients, it’s also a mistake to rely on just one marketing tool. Maximize the reach of the publicity you get in traditional media by sharing it on social media. Put a blog, or other content you can renew and refresh, on your website. Write a book. Do speaking engagements (for free, if necessary). Your audience is likely not all huddled together in one corner of the world. To reach them, use a variety of marketing tools. 

Whatever it is you’re promotingyour business, your product, your book, yourselfkeep the momentum going. If you want people to know you’re out there, you have to stay out there.

Written by:  Marsha Friedman 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 08:50

To Influence Others, Listen to Them

People don't like being pushed, or even nudged, to do something. So when you need others to take action—change their behavior, adapt a new strategy—inspire them to commit rather than forcing them to. The best way to do this is to listen, without your own needs and biases getting in the way.

Try to understand where your colleagues are coming from. Resist the urge to defend yourself, explain yourself, or offer quick fixes. You can help more effectively later, when the time is right, if you don't pre-judge what they need (which might be very different from what you think). Instead, remember that you are listening to learn.

Ask questions like: What does that mean for you? How do you feel about it? What's your perspective on it? This is listening of the highest order.

Source: Harvard Business Review. Adapted from “For Real Influence, Listen Past Your Blind Spots” by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen.

Thursday, 27 June 2013 06:29

Vacation Brain.

Have you ever noticed that a few days before vacation, your mind starts wandering? You start thinking about what to pack, what books you’re going to read, what kind of cocktails you’re going to be sipping on the beach …

Tuesday, 25 June 2013 10:38

Are Slogans Good Here?

Creative Portland Corporation has been working on a public relations campaign to draw creative professionals to Portland, Maine, and to develop a clear distinction from Portland, Oregon.

One of the first steps in the process was to create a new city slogan: “Portland, Maine. Yes. Life’s good here.” The slogan is adapted from an essay by John Preston, a gay rights activist and author who lived in Portland in the 1970s.

The slogan is easily adaptable by local businesses, according to Creative Portland. For example, a coffee shop could include the company logo and say “Portland, Maine. Yes. Roasting’s good here.” Portland’s Mayor, Michael Brennan, is in full support of the slogan and considers it a “’key part" of the economic development plan for the city, according to the Portland Press Herald.

The simplicity and wording of the slogan has generated some discussion from the community on Facebook. Public opinion varies, but some commenters are suggesting that the slogan “doesn’t say anything,” or is too closely related to the well-known Life is Good clothing brand.

Jennifer Hutchins of Creative Portland says “if it sparks a vigorous discussion about what’s good and bad in Portland, it’s working.” We’d love to hear your opinion on the city’s new slogan! Or, if your brand has developed a new slogan, share it with us here!

Source: Business 2 Community

Can't close the sale? Try a few of these simple low-pressure questions.

Good salespeople know that asking questions is the most effective way to learn about the needs of your customers. But you’ve got to ask the right questions. Otherwise, you risk scaring prospective customers out the door, or simply annoying them so much that they decide to buy elsewhere. 

The questions that pay big dividends are what I call “power questions.” They're friendly, they help you sell, and they don’t pressure the customer. Use these five questions with prospective customers, and you’ll see immediate results.

1. What brings you here today?

When someone enters a business, the salesperson often asks something along the lines of “What can I show you today?” But that question makes it far too easy for your customer to say, “Nothing, I’m just browsing.” That reply gives you no informationit doesn’t help you meet the prospective customer's needs. When you instead ask, “What brings you to our store today?” (or, “What prompted you to call us today?”), you get deeper insightand the opportunity to start building a mutually beneficial relationship.

2. Why do you want this product or service?

When a customer asks whether a company offers a certain product or service, many sales reps have a tendency to reply with a simple "yes" or "no." Next time, try immediately following up your “yes” by asking what prompted them to seek out this product or service in the first place. I once used this question when a prospect asked me if we had a product comparable to one of our major competitor’s offerings. “Well, we’re throwing your competitor off the account,” the man answered. That knowledge allowed me to explain that my company not only carried the product he wanted but that we could also meet the needs of this large account.

3. How will you go about making this decision?

In any sale, it is important to thoroughly understand how the purchase decision will be made and which key players are calling the shots. If your prospect answers this question truthfully, the knowledge you gain lets you tailor your approach. I once asked a materials manager how his company was going decide what to purchase, expecting him to say, “We’re going to choose the product with the lowest price.” Instead, he told me that the vice president of engineering was making the buying decision, which allowed me to adjust my strategy and focus on the company’s engineering department.

4. What is your timeline?

It’s amazing how many salespeople will push forward with a sale even thought they have no idea how important the purchase actually is to the customer. The answer to “What is your timeline?” is a good indicator of how urgent the prospect’s need is. Then, you can match his level of urgency. This helps the prospect see that you understand himand increases the chance that he’ll choose your product or service.

5. What would you like to have happen next?

This powerful closing question is easy to use andcruciallyisn’t intimidating for the prospect. When you ask the prospect what she’d like to have the next step be, you’re basically asking for the sale in a non-pressuring way. The answer will uncover any still-unanswered objections the prospect has, and if there are none, you’re clear to bring the sale to a close. This final question is especially helpful when a purchase decision has been repeatedly delayed.

Source: Written by: John Treace has more than thirty years' experience as a sales executive in the medical products industry. He spent more than ten years specializing in the restructuring of sales departments. His new book is Nuts & Bolts of Sales Management: How to Build a High-Velocity Sales Organization.

Have you ever noticed there are a few "tipping points" in any customer experience that have a disproportionate impact on its success?

It might be the moment you slip between the sheets of a heavenly bed at a Westin, or find yourself smiling and relaxed watching the safety video on an Air New Zealand flight. Or the moment you received all the charges for your son's broken arm in one easy-to-read and no-surprises bill from your health plan. (I made this last one up, but we can dream, right?)

If you get them right, tipping point moments seem to have a halo effect on everything else. And if you get them wrong, you're forever climbing out of a big hole of negative customer perceptions.

Do you know what the tipping point is for your customer experience? Finding it, and getting it right, can mean the difference between creating an army of brand advocates and loyal customers or an apathetic slog of customers who feel chained to your brand.

What has been a tipping point for you as a customer?

Adapted from: MarketingProfs

Much of the recent attention on specialty markets championed by National Tour Association tour operators has focused on faith-based tourism and the ever-growing China market. In both segments, NTA has spearheaded education and facilitated product development. But another market that thrives, especially for tour operators hosting international groups, is agritourism. Tailor-made study tours appeal to a variety of agribusiness professionals, including farmers, researchers, and agricultural students.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013 05:19

Negotiating: Getting what YOU want!

We all have those people in our lives who love to banter, argue, or negotiate their way to getting what they want, right? Recently, I attended a session called Negotiation: The Art of Getting What You Want Without Being a Bully or Caving In. Why did I attend? I think I’m a pretty decent negotiator, but honestly it’s not the thing I enjoy most doing. In fact, like many people, I get that pit in my stomach and want it to be over.

NTA and the World Food Travel Association have signed a partnership agreement that brings together the WFTA’s global food tourism community with NTA’s packaged travel resources and membership.

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