Posts Tagged ‘referrals’


Branding and Marketing Lessons From Car Sales Trailblazer Laura Toyota

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
PR Marketing Laura Toyota Brand Reputation Management Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring Media Relations

flickr user Mike Mozart under CC BY license

A 25-year-old car saleswoman in Bozeman, Montana, has caused a bit of a marketing disruption at Ressler Motors, the Toyota dealership where she works. As Ad Age reports, Laura Madison won’t take walk-in customers, she won’t help remove snow from the cars on the lot, and she gives out her personal number, not the dealership’s.

She has her own site, lauratoyota.com, which she pays to host, and her personal car is wrapped to advertise that site. (The cost? $3,000, which she paid out of her own pocket.) Her strategy is working big time. While not every marketing and public relations professional has the freedom or the ability to do what Madison does, and her model would not work in every circumstance, there are a number of valuable marketing and public relations takeaways to give your efforts a big boost and greater return.

Forge real relationships

Ad Age reports that Madison sends regular (paper) notes to her customers for their car’s “birthday” or for the holidays. Old-school snail mailed cards carry a lot more personal connection than personalized emails, and since they’re a fast-vanishing, time-intensive tradition, are more meaningful.

Your customers get emails every day. But how often do they get addressed cards in the mail? Investing the time and funds into connecting with people in more personal ways can keep your relationship with customers fresh and positive for a much longer time than a monthly email.

Build your model on referrals

Madison builds her marketing model on referrals and direct content, a savvy strategy given that most Millennials seek out opinions and reviews from their personal networks before making a purchase decision. While there’s no demographic breakdown on her sales, it’s probably safe to say that she sells to people in other generations, not just Millennials.

Word of mouth marketing and referrals have always been vital for the best salespeople, a tactic that marketing and public relations pros shouldn’t ignore. Making it easier for clients and prospects to seek you out based on recommendations from friends will pay off. Consider implementing monthly seminars hosted by a company rep and promote the rep’s bio and expertise more than your brand. Or consider monthly articles from reps accompanied by their bios or getting reps engaged in social media; there are plenty of ways to market the people, not just the brand.

Be a trailblazer

The “we’ve always done things this way” mindset is an easy rut to stay in, but usually doesn’t have a great payoff. Instead of trying to put Madison back in the corporate box, her boss, Jeff Kayser, has encouraged her methods and helped her start educating sales staff to integrate her approach into the dealership’s overall strategy.

Being open to new strategies and ideas is important for any business, not only to harness new talent, but also to keep said talent at your organization.

Be transparent

Car buying is a notoriously opaque and frustrating ordeal, but Madison’s up-front, approachable strategy makes the process easier, which in turn makes more people want to buy from her. On her blog she has an abundance of car-buying advice, including questions to ask your car salesperson and the answers you should expect, an informative blog, information about how she sells, and information specific to hybrids.

This not only positions her as an expert, but also as a resource. Putting good information out in the open helps lessen potential frustration and confusion for buyers and puts her on their side.

Institute a results-based commission

On her site, Madison notes that the dealership doesn’t pay her or other sales reps based on the traditional commission structure, but rather on a pay plan based on volume and customer satisfaction. That in turn makes sales reps more responsive to customer needs, not upselling.

While a revamp – or abolishment – of commission structures isn’t something every organization can or is willing to do in full, it’s something worth considering if it could improve the process for both sales reps and customers.

Demonstrate trustworthiness

Madison’s personal marketing strategy has another benefit – it makes her accountable to her customers. They know exactly where to find her should they have a question or a problem. Most customers find accountability and trustworthiness appealing, and having that sense of security can only be beneficial to business overall.

Kayser reports that since Madison’s arrival at the dealership three years ago, the dealership’s monthly sales have increased from an average of 213 cars to 330 cars. There’s no information to indicate whether this is due solely to Madison’s efforts, or due to increased dealership advertising. Madison’s personal monthly sales almost nearly doubled over three years, from 12 to 20 cars, but it’s hard to measure whether that’s due to the dealership’s overall improvement in reputation and awareness, her natural learning progression, her reputation management acumen, or all of the above. But either way, there are plenty of branding, reputation management, and marketing takeaways from Madison’s drive and skill.

The G2 Show: Marketing Integration Needed Again

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

G2 Marketing in the Round

The G2 show (aka authors Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston) is making the presentation rounds, landing in D.C. this June to promote integrated marketing campaigns. All the rage of the first tech bubble, marketing integration fell-out of vogue once the bubble burst. G2 says it’s time to break down the silos and work together, again.

Dietrich says the best way to make the integration work is to get CEO buy-in. In their book, Marketing in the Round, G2 suggests making the CEO’s job easy by providing messaging and scheduling both all-staff and in-person meetings.

Livingston and Dietrich realize discussion leads to ideas, so they gathered a panel of industry leaders: Alejandra Owens, AARP; Maddie Grant, SocialFish; Lisa Byrne, Pappas Group; and Kevin Fawley, Social Media Club D.C. This creative team recommends:

  • Look at using Facebook sponsored stories rather than ads.
  • Give others referrals and ask them to call you in on business, so you can get good in-bound word-of-mouth business.
  • Use multiple communications spokes to push out your messages. (Another reminder not to communicate on silos!)
  • Keep social media responses conversational.  In other words, talk to people.
  • Educate and teach people how to communicate conversationally.
  • Be able to admit that you are not good at everything, and then find people who do have a voice for social.
  • Don’t forget to respond to people on social media and don’t be accusatory.

Are you marketing in the round or are you siloed? How can you help move your organization toward integration? Please share your ideas with the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers.

Sales + Everyone = Success

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Valerie Simon

How do you get everyone – from your maintenance team to your CEO – participating in the sales process? During a special Twitter chat last Wednesday evening, Heather Whaling and Justin Goldsborough, co-moderators of Twitter’s #PR20Chat, and Beth Harte and Anna Barcelos, leaders of #imcchat asked this question to more than 100 participants. 

Here are a few takeaways every business should consider.Teamwork

Top down and bottom up, goals must be aligned.

AdamSuffolkU:  First step, make sure goals are aligned and input is asked/received from all-bottom on up

SuperDu:  It starts w/ CEO creating top-line strategic plan. ALL divisional plans & emp. objectives feed into that one plan

 jeffespo:  It should be the trickle up effect. Everyone knows the brand and wants to sell it and make more money.

Create a customer-centric team environment

BethHarte: If all employees understand the customer is #1, they will all work to make sure they work hard from top to bottom

LoisMarketing:  Communicate successes and celebrate at all levels. Make all staff aware of “wins,” new clients. Sincere appreciation. 

Transform employees into evangelists

kimbrater:  It’s more than the sales process, everyone has to internalize +evangelize the brand in order to sell it.

CASUDI:  everyone has to be in love with, believe in the product ~ everyone will have the desire to sell

IABCDetroit: Engage employees thru educational, relevant communications so they’re empowered to relay company message, align w/ company goals

Everyone can have an impact on sales

BethHarte: Sales starts the minute someone walks through the front door. Better hope the receptionist isn’t cranky/mean

rpulvino:  Everyone in the company is involved in sales in some way. Employees are the most important spokespeople for an organization.

And my respond: ValerieSimon: Education. When you take pride in, and understand your organizations strengths, you’re compelled to share the story!

Beyond 140 characters, I’d also emphasize that a strong and positive corporate culture is an investment that will not only pay off in increased productivity but sales. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a firm believer that everyone in an organization, regardless of title or department, should consider themselves a part of the sales team. Here are some ways organization can provides the training and follow-through to make the most of this extended sales force:

  • Make certain that ALL employees are educated on your products or services and the benefits of these services to your clients and customers.
  • Keep employees updated with a daily report of news for and about your organization, the competitors and the marketplace.
  • Create a simple process whereby all employees can easily submit referrals through to the sales team to close.
  • Share success stories. Recognize and reward those who are referring business, as well as the teamwork with sales that helped to win the new business.

Do you consider yourself a part of your organization’s sales efforts? What does your company do to harness the sales power of all your employees? Please share your thought with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

Relationships and Referrals: Making the Most of Your Two Most Important Business Assets

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Valerie Simon

Early on in my career I received a phone call from a client who began the conversation with, “Hey Valerie, I want to introduce you to a friend of mine…”

I very much enjoyed and respected this client and was thrilled that he wanted to introduce me to his friend. In my mind I fantasized about his intentions. Perhaps we would all go out for dinner, or maybe he was setting me up on a date… my thoughts were interrupted by the words “director of corporate communications” and “in charge of media monitoring.” My heart began to pound as I realized what was happening. I was getting my first referral!

Today I regularly receive such phone calls, but the thrill has yet to go away. While Relationships and Referralsreferrals add up to quantitative results of your efforts to build relationships, they also offer bona fide proof that your relationship is one of trust and confidence (Cue Sally Fields, “They like me, they really like me!!!)

In order to earn new business, you’ll need to invest both time and resources and maximize your opportunities in the most efficient manner. Below are 5 steps to help you become more strategic in your relationship building and increase the number of referrals you receive:

1. Perform a SWOT analysis. Identify your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and then clearly identify the organizations you are targeting. As you consider different prospects and prospect categories, evaluate the customer needs against your analysis. Brad Douglas, vice president of sales and marketing with Shipley Associates, offers some excellent considerations to help you better assess your opportunities for targeting the right customers.

2. Determine the influencers you need to reach. As mentioned in this post from the Harvard Business Review, you may think you know the decision maker, “the one that is described in the RFP or articulated by those who actively participate in the formal decision-making process.” However, there are often key influencers within the organization who carry informal power as it relates to your opportunity. Take the time to uncover and develop those relationships.

3. Utilize ALL of your current relationships. While most organizations have a sales team or business development group, I am a firm believer that everyone in an organization, regardless of title or department, should consider themselves a member of the sales team. If you are proud of your organization and even if you are not (though you may want to ask yourself why are you working there?), it is your responsibility to help your company grow. Communication and collaboration between the sales team and other departments is essential. Beyond your organization, consider your vendors, partners and affiliates, clients, industry contacts, and even personal networks. If you aren’t actively using LinkedIn it is a great place to start organizing and expanding your network.

4. Ask for the referral! It is interesting that many people shy away from asking for a referral when they need/want it. Consider what’s stopping you. Are you afraid of creating an uncomfortable or potentially annoying situation? If yes, then that is good because it means you are thinking about and potentially being considerate of the person you wish to ask. And that is what distinguishes a “pushy salesman” from a friend you want to help. So be professional to and respectful of the person you are asking, their relationship, and their reputation. But don’t let that stop you from asking. After all, if you have real relationships, qualified targets, and a product/service you believe in, the person you’re asking should have no issue referring you and the person you’re introduced to will soon be thanking your friend for making the introduction.

5. Beyond ABC’s… ABH. While I certainly understand and appreciate the need to “Always Be Closing,” my personal philosophy is to “Always Be Helping.” In sales, and perhaps maybe in life, your reputation is everything. So be the person you want to be perceived to be – whether or not it meets an immediate business goal. In this case, that person is one who is helpful and informative and acutely aware of the needs and goals of his/her clients, prospects, colleagues, friends and family. In other words, take every opportunity to add real value and help them achieve their goals.

How are you making the most of one of your most precious resources – your relationship with others? Do you find it easy to ask for referrals and network when needed? What tips would you add to the list? If you are having trouble, what do you think is holding you back? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.