What are you doing today that is better and different to your competitors? How do you find and attract new clients? If you are not doing anything that differentiates you from the competition, you could be losing out on a huge amount of potential business.
One of the easiest methods to differentiate your practice/organisation is to embrace technology. It is easy and can save you time, money and headaches. Let's take a look at the latest technology and what it can do for you:
Digital Recorders - are now tiny and can store up to 44 hours of professional recording. Once you have completed a meeting with a client, dictate the notes into the recorder connect it to your computer and download the sound file. This can then be used as a dictating machine and the information typed or prior to your next meeting with this client, just take a listen to the recording on your computer. I have also used the digital recorder to record client testimonials and put these on my website, record interviews with business leaders on leadership and entrepreneurship and shared these with my existing clients and recorded my new book for transcription.
Voice Recognition - I first used voice recognition software 5 years ago and with my accent, I would dictate in English and it would transcribe in gobbledygook. Now with the latest recognition (Dragon 8 Professional) I can put on my headset, speak at a fast pace and it will type automatically into Microsoft word at about 95% accuracy. The biggest secret with voice recognition is that you need to take some tome to train the software to your accent and jargon. You can even use it to answer your email. Best of all, you can link your digital recorder with the voice recognition. Imagine dictating into your digital recorder, linking to your computer and then just sitting back watching as the recorder downloads the sound files. This automatically links with the voice recognition, opens it and transcribes into word. How much time and money could you save (don't let your secretary read this)
You now have the time for that extra game of golf (called marketing)
Card scanners - We all need to be constantly attending networking meetings to meet new potential clients. We normally return with a mountain of business cards that we hope to input into the database but never get around to doing. The latest Cardscanners are tiny and can scan with 100% accuracy and then export to outlook or whatever database you use. The secret with networking is to get in touch with these new contacts as soon as possible. Take a look at http://www.businesscardscanner.co.uk/
Ezines - Develop a 10 touch plan for all your existing clients (making contact at least 10 times a year). You can email, phone them, meet face to face or the easiest way is to have a newsletter. Whether it is a hard copy or online newsletter, this is a great way to keep in touch. I use www.constantcontact.com to produce my online newsletter. It comes with templates and is simple enough for anyone to use. It also gives me exact statistics on who opens the mail, unsubscribes (no more free lunches for them) the click through rate to my website and plenty more.
Marketing with Articles - The easiest and most inexpensive method to get, expose and build your brand is by marketing with articles. We're living in the information age and everyone is looking for free information on the internet. How much free information are you putting on your website to attract potential clients (you must encourage them to sign up for your Ezine when they download the information). You can also submit these articles to article directories (Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on software programmes that can automate this for you). When people download them and put these onto their sites, this now creates links back to your website which in turn ranks higher on the search engines.
Headlines - How do you convert casual readers of your marketing brochures and websites without pulling your hair out with the time-sucking chore of producing a winning headline? I discovered a great piece of software that automates the process for you, take a look at http://www.headlinecreator.co.uk
The easiest way to use technology wisely is to make use of the useful software at our disposal.
Websites - Gone are the days when websites were about flashing logos and animations. Of course, good design still counts for a lot, but good design is really about making your site easy and effective, a standard tool for increasing your business, improving service and reducing costs. Flash movies, cute though they are, hardly achieve this. I have found from experience that there are three different types of people involved with developing websites - the first can design efficient and effective good looking sites - the second has marketing experience and can turn the website into a marketing mechanism to attract new clients and the third knows how to get your website seen. Rarely is it the same person that can do all of these. You can have the best website in the world, but if no-one sees it you are just throwing away money.
Also, remember to make it easy for people to contact you so that within two clicks they can get any information they need.
Blogs - What are these weird things called blogs? A Blog or Web LOG is a journal kept on the internet. This journal is often updated daily and contains all information that the person maintaining the BLOG (Blogger) wishes to share with the world. Also applies to websites dedicated to a particular topic and being updated with the latest news, views and trends. This is perfect for any professional practice. Set up your own blog for free at http://www.blogger.com
Videomail - How would you like it if you have a meeting with an important client and can send him an immediate email with a small video thanking him for the meeting or highlighting what was covered? Once again, with no technology experience anyone can do this in minutes. Remember, in this information age clients appreciate instant response and something that differentiates you from your competitors. I address and consult with CEOs in 47 countries and they like to do business with innovative, forward thinking partners.
Video and Audio on the web - there is so much software that allows almost anyone to add audio and video to websites. My favourite is a piece of software called Camtasia.
Teaching and demonstrating visually is much more powerful than using words alone. But, getting the right group of people together for a training or demonstration can be expensive and inconvenient.
Camtasia Studio lets you easily create compelling training and presentations for Web and CD-ROM delivery and you can do it without ever leaving your office. It is the only product versatile enough to record live PowerPoint presentations, personalized technical training sessions, and rich software demonstrations.
Just think of all the applications:
Explaining how to complete a difficult form or paperwork
Demonstrating your latest products or services
A live PowerPoint recording with voice (at least you can hit the stop button if this is too boring)
Having a Frequently Asked Questions section of your website where clients can watch videos of complicated questions....and plenty more
CD Brochures - What happens when you get sent a brochure? I know that 90% of the time mine goes straight into the bin and some company has spent thousands producing these. What about rather sending an interactive CD to clients which could include:
Contracts (and videos to explain how to complete them)
Meet the team
Client List (and plenty more)
These cost less than full colour brochures and normally will be passed from person to person to watch. We're living in a multimedia society, so give clients the choice.
Infomercials - A couple of years ago, it would cost a small fortune to go to television studios to make a professional infomercial. Now you can use software like 'Serious Magic' to produce professional infomercials at your office for minimal cost. When could you use these:
To explain the implications of the budget
Inheritance tax Planning (and the list continues)
I send my Ezine subscribers a short 30 second marketing video mail each week using this software. It differentiates me from my competitors and adds value.
Teleseminars and webinars - How about having a teleseminar or webinars for your clients once a quarter. They dial a number that you send them in advance and you can then present a one hour teleseminar from the comfort of your office and they can phone in from anywhere. You can even have a Q & A session at the end of the seminar, once again adding value. Your clients can choose whether to partake or not.
Free International Telephoning - If you are using broadband, you can download www.skype.com which will allow you to telephone anyone else with broadband anywhere in the world for FREE (I love that word). You can also have a conference call with three other people. I recently conducted a conference call for two hours from my office in London with CEOs in Dubai, Indonesia and Hong Kong, all for free. Calls can also be recorded. Even better, if you both have a webcam you can also see each other.
Resources - Take a look at my resources page with free downloads, videos and Ebooks that demonstrate some of the concepts that I have covered in the article at http://www.motivational-speaker.co.uk/resources/
Frank Furness CSP CFP is an International Speaker and Trainer specialising in Sales & Technology. To book Frank for your next conference or training, find out more about his sales and technology seminars or to sign up for his free newsletter, please email email@example.com or phone 44 (0) 1923 248200, Skype frankfurness. www.frankfurness.com