To stand out from the crowd in a busy world today you have some advantages if you can leverage technology. Now, you don't have to become a “byte head” to do it. Just know enough about technology, like you know how to drive a car. You don't have to know how to tear the engine apart and put it together again to drive. But, you do need to know some basic principles.
Here are some pointers that manufacturers and distributors can use today to cut through the clutter, communicate better, provide quality training and increase profits. Big promise? Yeah, but it is not only doable, but being done today.
1. Always Start with Benefits for Them. See it from their point of view. Think about how your new faucet, pipe, sinks or whatever widget you have, can help relieve pain for them. This means you have to study and listen. However the investment in time and effort to really hear them will pay off.
2. Communicate in Multiple Ways. Just sending an e-mail won't always cut it. Yes, it is cheap. But, hey, your secret is out---we all know it doesn't cost you anything to send an e-mail! Use other communication in addition to e-mail. Letters, post cards, phone calls and personal visits make a world of difference.
3. Use technology like Camtasia to Communicate Better. This is a program that shows a video of what is happening on the computer screen, with your voice in the background. You can create customized approaches showing, say, a PowerPoint presentation to a prospective customer. You can have pictures and even video of new products. This saves you money (sending it over the Internet or via CD) and provides powerful communication to your prospects and customers with pictures, audio, video and more. Camtasia is from Techsmith (www.techsmith.com) For more information, drop me an e-mail at email@example.com and I'll send you some free examples of how you can use it.
4. Think Video. Most of the products we sell in manufacturing and distribution are visually oriented. Video today is quick and easy to produce, once you know the basics. With a little time and effort you can create compelling video for training how a product works, its best features and more. Then you can put this on the Net so most people can view it easily. Again there is no cost to you for this and customers get it quickly, view it at their own convenience, and can view it over and over. Pinnacle Studio and Vegas Movie Studio are two low-end products (less than $100) that can get you started. Think fast and quick. Think US Navy SEAL teams here. Think powerful, quick videos, not elaborate Hollywood productions.
5. Get into Blogs. These “Web Logs” are taking the Internet by storm. You can get one of these for free (check www.blogger.com and have a running discussion of your products with customers and other interested parties. There is no charge for the Blog, it is published to the web, and you can add pictures. Do a Google search on “Blogs” or “Blogging” and get ready to enter the 21st Century. For a nominal cost (about $3/month) you can add audio that is accessible through any touch tone phone (including your cell phone) and can be updated with new marketing ideas, product announcements and more. Check www.audblog.com for more information on the audio part.
Profits are being made today by those who understand the revolution we're undergoing. It won't stop, and the old ways of doing business are dying. However the relationships are what last. I like to say , “It's NOT about E-Commerce (The Electronics); It's about R-Commerce (The Relationships).” Use technology to build relationships with key people.
By leveraging technology you can communicate more effectively and efficiently, training is easier and more lasting and profits can increase dramatically. It all comes down to knowing how to use it and giving more “WOW!” experiences to customers. - Terry L. Brock Sidebar: Some Good Feedback “I like Terry's approach to integrating technology with our businesses. Don't get bogged down with learning every little detail of how a particular technology works. More importantly, learn enough about how you can apply it to your daily interactions with customers and measure the results from these efforts.
“The communications theme can't be emphasized enough. So many technologies are designed to make our communications with colleagues easier, faster, and more productive. These are the innovations I would focus on adding to our way of conducting business.”
- Kevin Price, Director, ASA Center for Advancing Technology “We had Terry come in and show us how we could use technology to help solve our training issues that evolve around product training and management training. Because we have 64 locations around New England and Upstate New York, getting people together in one central spot for any kind of training is a logistical nightmare.
“We need product training for our 130+outside salespersons and 240 inside salespersons. Getting them together in one central location is almost impossible. Even if you do it regionally it takes a lot of time away from the daily work schedule because of drive time. Then when it comes to management training we have the same problem. So what usually happens is we end up doing it piecemeal and don't do a very good job of it.
“Using products like 'Camtasia', we can ask our vendors to produce videos for product training and put them on our central server/net. Also, we can do one training session at our corporate office on a particular subject, video the session and then put it on our central server/net for people to view when they have time.
“You can also use products like Camtasia to do 'hands on training.' Take computer training on how to do order entry for new employees -- Let's assume we're going to walk the employee thru five computer screens that are involved with various aspects of the order entry. You simply activate the Camtasia program and the trainer starts talking and walks thru the various steps of order entry, explaining each step along the way. The Camtasia records the voice and all the computer screens that were used in the presentation. After it's done you can leave the program on the net for people to use when they want, or you can save it to video or CD. But once you're done, you have a great training aid that never needs to be done again unless a change is made, and it can be used 24/7.
“We're just starting to use these products so we're really excited about all the possibilities once we really understand how to use this technology.”
- Jack Hester, Chairman, F.W. Webb Co., Burlington, MA
Terry Brock is a marketing coach who helps business owners market more effectively by leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their busy days using the right rules and tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at www.terrybrock.com.
Copyright © 2005, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used in any way without prior written permission. Permission granted to ASA and its affiliates to use in association material.