Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wed. on Twitter from 8-9pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with @BradfordShimp. Bradford is a small business expert and the blogger behind All Business Answers. The goal of allbizanswers.com is to answer common business questions, solve the problems that hold businesses back, and show owners how they can build amazing companies. He is actively involved in running a regular small business, as well as several online ventures. His services are available for consulting advice as well as writing content. For more information check out www.allbizanswers.com
Smallbizlady: Is cold calling dead?
Bradford Shimp: No. Many businesses still use it. However, it is losing its effectiveness. Cold calling relies on interruption. Today, people have access to info when they need it, so are less likely to put up with cold calling. People are far less likely to trust someone based on a cold call, and trust is very important.
Smallbizlady: What is the difference between cold and warm calling?
Bradford Shimp: Warm calling is making sales calls after making preliminary contact. Warm calling works best when it is tied to another form of marketing, such as educational or event marketing. Warm calling can refer back to a marketing piece, a form filled out at a trade show, or any form of previous contact.
Smallbizlady: What is permission based marketing?
Bradford Shimp: Permission marketing is when prospects sign up to receive messages from you. Instead of you interrupting their day with messages they don’t care about, you are invited to speak to them. Permission marketing is about having prospect qualify themselves.
Smallbizlady: How do you get permission from someone to market to them?
Bradford Shimp: You need a complete marketing plan to gain a constant stream of permission. The basic concept is to provide something of value in return for getting permission to market further. Permission can include signing up for a newsletter, coming to an event, or requesting more information.
Smallbizlady: Cold calling brings results, why should I stop?
Bradford Shimp: Cold calling is a numbers game. For every yes, you have 10 or more nos that are closed doors. Using permission marketing, you can keep the conversation open, even with people who aren’t buying right now. By building marketing around conversations and education, you can create a steady stream of leads that will grow virally.
Smallbizlady: Why should businesses make the extra effort to educate customers?
Bradford Shimp: By educating, you set yourself up as the expert. This allows you to set the course of the relationship. Educating allows you to “sell without selling.” Prospects thank you for the info and go to you first to buy. When you create educational marketing, you can re-purpose it in many ways.
Smallbizlady: How can Twitter help businesses avoid cold calling?
Bradford Shimp: Twitter is a great place to communicate, attract fans, and build relationships. Your followers have given you permission to talk to them. Just don’t be all sales talk, all the time. From conversations on Twitter, you can move into a sales process. Twitter opens the door to a ton of prospects. It is your job to attract qualified prospects by providing quality content.
Smallbizlady: Why is building an email list the most important thing businesses should be doing?
Bradford Shimp: An email list built on permission is a group of people who have pre-qualified themselves as real prospects. With regular email, you can build trust with prospects and up sell current customers. An email list is a database of prospects you can dip in to when you need to add sales. Put out a good newsletter and good value for signing up, and your email list will continue to grow. Unlike cold calling, you will be able to communicate 1 to many, but with a much larger trust factor.
Smallbizlady: How can we use events to bring in loads of new customers?
Bradford Shimp: Events allow you to invite prospects to something they will value, without directly selling to them. Make your event specific, and it will attract ideal, pre-qualified, prospects. You can build a huge level of trust quickly by providing a quality event. People will be inclined to buy from you.
Smallbizlady: Should a small business have a blog/email newsletter?
Bradford Shimp: Yes. Providing regular content for customers/prospects has several benefits. It will bring in more traffic to your site and provide visitors with instant value. It will educate prospects and build trust, making them inclined to buy from you and trust you. It will make you better at your business. Creating content on your niche will inevitably make you an expert.
Smallbizlady: What kind of conversations should businesses be having with their customers/prospects?
Bradford Shimp: Conversations should be about much more than making the sale. You should seek to educate, to answer questions, to ask questions. The biggest thing is to build trust and provide endless value.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9pm ET follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
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