A Year in Review: Great year. Did we set ourselves up for failure?

What a year! Congratulations to everyone in a professional services firm that just finished their best year ever. I count myself as blessed because so many of you, so many leaders of firms (whether accountants, or architects, or attorneys, or contractors, or engineers) shared feedback about your firm’s successes and struggles and what you see trending in the industry. Thank you for that.

As I look back at the year, there were certainly a few common threads that wove through most of the stories I heard.

Obviously, one of the common threads was that most everyone is very busy. Another was that many are also struggling to attract and/or retain the talent they need to get the work done. In a way, those two sentences could summarize the state of professional services industries today.

There’s another thread I’ve focused on quite a bit lately because it worries me… a lot.

Even though most of the firms I talked to are busy, maybe busier than they’ve ever been, there’s an underlying current that, if they’re willing to admit it, worries almost every one of them.

Here are a few notes I jotted down during conversations this year:

  • We’re busier than we’ve ever been, but we’re less profitable than we’ve ever been.
  • We’ve won more projects than ever before, but we submitted for a record number too. Our win percentage is actually down.
  • We’re so busy and we’re hurting on the talent side so much that we’ve put a hold on developing new business. I’m afraid not being able to perform will hurt us more than passing on a few projects.

I don’t want to dwell on the negative… it has been a great year, but these kinds of comments leave me wondering: How will you leverage this year’s success for even more in the coming year? I hope this year wasn’t the setup for a disaster to come.

Here are the two things I’d like you to weigh in on:

  1. If you were very busy, ever busier than ever this year, were you more profitable than you’ve ever been or have you been working harder for less margin?
  2. If you had more work than ever this year, were your win rates actually up?

My fear is that many professional services firms, while having a successful year, have simply been propped up on a very strong economy. I hope you’ll prove me wrong, but if I’m right…

If professional services firms aren’t getting better at winning, what will happen when the economy inevitably slows down and competition gets tighter?

We’re already seeing signs that things are slowing down.

A couple more notes I jotted down:

  • We just had a project post-mortem with a client we’ve worked with for 15 years. Everyone was thrilled. The next week we found out they were looking at different delivery methods and fee-shopping for their next project… The. Very. Next. Week!
  • We’re a $1.2 Billion company and 90 percent of our work comes from repeat clients and referrals. We have a team of 6 responsible for our business development, but they’ll all be gone in the next 8 years.

If you’re responsible for developing business in the professional services world, I’ll guarantee you’ll tell me it’s a relationship-driven industry… and you’ll be right.

Relationships are important. They need to be developed, maintained, and cherished. There’s a good chance you wear “90% of our work comes from repeat clients and referrals” on your best blazer like a gold star. You’ll insert your own number between 75 and 90, but everyone says it.

It’s great when there’s plenty of work going on and those relationships are paying off, but what happens when projects start to dry up? What happens when those relationships start to fee-shop or the people that maintain the relationships aren’t in your firm anymore?

I know you’re busy and I hope that continues for a long time. Congratulations on a successful year, but please, please make sure you work hard in the coming year to get better at winning more of the right work at the right fees. It’s the only way to avoid disaster when the economy slows, commoditization is magnified and irrelevance is the lens your clients and prospects see your services through.

Finding the Role of SEM in Your Business

The question is often asked by any size of business: “Where should I put my marketing dollars?” At least one of the answers should be SEM. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) in 2019 is almost a default effort that every business needs to employ to be successful in the digital space.

That is not to say that your business should go willy nilly into the world of SEM without a plan, a direction, a set of goals, and other KPIs to ensure that you are spending your money wisely. After all, to any business owner, every dollar is important. Ensuring that the money you are putting out into the ether is bringing money back in is of the utmost importance. Fortunately, through a good SEM campaign, you can more often than not rest assured that you will generate some ROI.

There are a slew of reasons why these efforts are important for any business, but not all will be relevant to your business. However, if you can find the solution and the reason that fits your needs, that is always a good start.

Immediacy: You can start a campaign right now and start getting results the next day! This isn’t always the best route, as there should be planning and discovery that goes into any marketing effort, but if you are looking to generate more traffic, gain more brand awareness, increase the number of leads in your funnel, and more, you can quickly generate a successful campaign (with proper planning) and get moving!

Brand AwarenessIn the realm of search, you can never be certain what your competitors are going to do. Outside of regularly checking your own brand name in searches, you can ensure you stay at the top of the results by bidding on your brand. Usually, the cost is low, because your name will have fewer searches and competition than most. Searchers will also see your name at the top of the list if you include it in the ad copy, increasing awareness and association with your product or service. It is always good to be front of mind to your users.

Search Intent: When using any SEM platforms, you are gaining data on what your users are searching for. You can look in detail at the search terms that are generating clicks and conversions for your ads, which in turn shows you the search terms that people are associating with your business. This can drive more marketing efforts through your site, from new static web pages to blogs and videos that you can create on your site. It really opens up a new world of opportunity.

Mobile: By now, nearly everyone knows the large market share that mobile search has, which is propelled even more by the rise in voice search. As these numbers continue to go up, it is important that you find your users where they are. With the smaller size of the mobile search engine results page, it is important that you stay near the top. This can be accomplished with a good mobile SEM campaign, keeping you relevant to both desktop and mobile users.

Localization: Nearly all search, especially when it comes to Google, is targeted to the area surrounding the user. More and more, people are searching for terms like “near me” or “in INSERT CITY” to generate searches that are more relevant to them. This isn’t surprising, as searchers get smarter about finding the things they need and the search engines get smarter about delivering those local results. With an appropriately targeted SEM campaign, you can target the specific areas that your users are in, target relevant local search terms that your users are looking for, create ad copy surrounding those specifics, and generate more quality leads!

Small Budgets: As a business owner, especially if you’re just starting to delve into an SEM campaign, you don’t have to blow everyone out of the water with a $10,000 budget. Budgets of all shapes and sizes can be catered to and manicured for success within any campaign and as that campaign generates success and growth, it can grow with you. Don’t get scared by budget numbers.

As for which platform you should use to start your SEM efforts, Google is the general default. This makes complete sense since it dominates the search market, but there are other platforms out there you can test to find your audience and meet them where they are. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you take the time to do your research up front, determine your goals of any marketing effort, and make the commitment that you are going to spend the time to try to make it work. If you half-ass your marketing efforts, especially when it comes to SEM, you can expect results accordingly.

Take Advantage of the Holidays With Shopping Campaigns

The golden era of Black Friday shopping and sales has passed. Over the past few years, the Black Friday mega sales that have been a staple of brick and mortar businesses for years have dropped precipitously, being replaced by online sales, Cyber Monday, and more and more businesses trying to get a competitive edge in their industry. Anymore, Black Friday starts weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday, especially online. So what can you do to take advantage of this trend?

With more platforms finding new ways of advertising and selling products online, providing your customers with opportunities to buy your products around the holiday season has become easier. New ways to sell are constantly popping up, providing early adopters more opportunities to find new market space for their products and connect with more users than their competition. Amazon, Instagram, Google, and more have all continued to push the envelope for online sales and advertising.

  1. Amazon: Clearly, Amazon is the elephant in the room, but the difference is, EVERYONE can see it. Recently announcing its second headquarters, connecting with more payment platforms and rewards programs, and taking more market share for online advertising than ever before, Amazon is continuing its not so slow march toward world domination. You can advertise and sell your product directly through Amazon, figuring out shipping logistics and distribution along the way, or you can advertise on the platform and send people to your ecommerce solution to purchase form there. Either way, there are going to be plenty of eyeballs to attract over the holiday season, and you don’t want to miss out on these opportunities.
  2. Instagram: Instagram just recently unveiled new shopping features for its advertising platform that will enable companies to capture more hearts and minds of their users. The new features include an option for users to view the products that are shown in a video they are watching, allowing them to purchase some of their favorite products from the media that is right in front of them. With the increase in video consumption almost daily, this a great opportunity for companies that are able to produce video of their products regularly.
  3. Google: The behemoth that is Google continuously provides advertisers the ability to advertise their products through the Google shopping network, enabling companies to target users using the already robust Google Ads platform. Especially for those that are already using Google AdWords as a way to reach their customers, this is an easy space to include a new shopping feed and take some more market share while selling more product.
  4. Facebook: Even with some of the issues that Facebook has had in recent months, ad revenues for companies continue to run and be a viable opportunity to sell products and services to its users. When considering that that Facebook user demographic is getting older, those are the users that have some disposable income, have children, grandchildren, and are potentially using Facebook even as a way to search for and research products amongst their friends and family. Have a Black Friday deal you want to send to those that have visited your website but didn’t purchase? Consider using Facebook remarketing campaigns to bring them back around and complete that sale.

There are certainly more things to consider during the holiday season to ensure that you are able to maximize sales for your user base. More users than ever are searching for products and services through voice search, whether through a device like an Amazon Echo, Google Home, or just their smartphones. If you are not focusing on the appropriate search terms for your advertising purposes and creating mobile-centric ads, you could very well be missing a load of opportunities.

Need help with your business plans? RPG can help. >>

The Top Three Reasons Your Sales Team Struggles to Close Deals

It’s no secret it’s harder than ever to stand out and differentiate from your competition. Today’s sales teams are facing three major obstacles in their path to closing more deals, and ultimately revenue growth.

#1 Compressed Selling Time

Your prospect is 70% of the way through their buyer’s journey before they even talk to you. This leaves you no room for error when working to make an impact and gain access. And, if you aren’t losing sales to competitors, chances are you are losing them to indecision. As many as 60% of all leads are lost to nothing at all, the prospect deciding not to buy anything. With compressed selling time, the pressure is on to quickly make a lasting impact.

#2 Commoditization

Your prospect has total access to all of your direct competitors right at their fingertips. To you prospect you all look the same, sound the same, and act the same.

This is bad for your prospects because they deserve to know the real differences so they can make better buying choices. When you can’t clearly differentiate, you’re either forced to play games with your pricing or you’re more likely to become part of the 60% of sales that are lost to no decision at all.

#3 Consensus Decision Making

It used to be a single decision maker could close the deal. Today, decision making teams are as large as five or more people. According to a 2016 Fortune Magazine article, sales cycle times have grown 22% in the last five years.

The process is slowing down, with more buyers in the mix–all freshly armed with information they skimmed from the Internet–using this purchase to play out their competing interests. If you aren’t engaging enough to make them reach a decision, you’re quickly being forgotten and reprioritized. Time kills all deals.

Win More Sales with A Better Pitch

You can’t deny the sales process has changed fundamentally in the last decade. We’ve reached a pace of change that is turning relationships, tradition, and previous routes to sales upside down. You can’t rely on outdated techniques and tools to grow your revenue in today’s accelerated business environment.

And better tools start with neuro-science based messaging techniques that speak to your prospect’s brain to help you stand out and differentiate fast.

  • Understanding how your prospect’s brain really makes decisions allows you to overcome compressed sales times
  • Your pitch needs to quickly lock down the answer to “Why you?” with brain-friendly visuals and proofs to drive emotional lift
  • Successful, brain-friendly pitches unlock really good conversations that lead to closed deals

You can start winning more deals with sales presentations that actually engage your prospects and position you as the only solution.

Let’s talk about winning more deals for your sales team with a NeuroPitch presentation >>

Craft Breweries Are Owning Their Why

It’s Octoberfest in Michigan, which happens to have more craft breweries than 46 of the 50 States. You can’t throw a stone here without hitting a brewery. And it’s rare to see anyone picking up a Bud these days.

While overall beer consumption has been reported as down, the craft beer industry is booming. It has exceeded all growth expectations and proves it can hold its own against the beer giants like Anheuser-Busch and Miller-Coors – who, by the way, are trying to buy up as many small, craft breweries as they can to help keep themselves in the race.  With nearly 70,000 craft brewery employees across the U.S. the numbers have tripled over the last decade. Consumers might be drinking less, but they’re willing to pay 50 percent more for a beverage that stands out and has quality worth every extra cent. 

So why are most craft breweries finding unprecedented success? Because craft breweries have been able to create a unique experience for their consumers. An experience that is rooted in each craft breweries “why”, and one that their most loyal consumers can identify with and rally behind.

Each brewery tells their own story that stands out against others. Whether it be a better taste, unique or new flavors, or how they got their start it’s the reason people travel from store to store looking for their favorite craft brew or make weekend plans to road trip to their favorite breweries to explore a new atmosphere or flavor of the season. It’s why you see people wearing a t-shirt or hat from their brewery of choice – because they feel beer they drink says something about who they are as a person.

In this accelerated age, to stay relevant to your consumers, you must differentiate by showing your real value, which should be rooted in why it is you do what you do. I personally live for the Christmas season when a Michigan brewery, Rochester Mills releases their 12 Days of Christmas pack. The whole family gets involved in trying new flavors and choosing their favorites. And, isn’t that what a brand would hope for? Making consumers feel something and know the producer cares about the product they’re sending out.

Another favorite, not just with Michiganders, but across the U.S. is Founder’s Brewery. Founded in the mid-1990s, in the early 2000s, their business almost failed when their strategy was to follow the crowd and brew the same type of beer as everyone else. It wasn’t until they focused on why they were brewing to begin with that things took a turn. The owners decided to make beer they wanted to drink and created masterpieces that were like nothing else on the market. . In 2014, Founders announced a $35 million expansion to double the production capacity at its Grand Rapids, Michigan headquarters, giving them the capacity to produce 900,000 barrels per year and solidify Founders as one of the premier craft brewing companies in the country. You can see more of their inspiring story here

The craft beer industry sets a great example of how organizations that follow their why can stand out and differentiate, even in the most crowded of markets.

Ready to drive your revenue growth by Owning Your Why? We can help let’s talk.

How to Create a Sales Pitch That Closes More Deals

You’ve made it to the short list and now it’s time for the final presentation to a room full of decisions makers. But, the real decision-maker in the room is not a person.

You’re really selling to a 3 pound organ called the human  brain. And as complex and amazing as it is, the process it uses to make a decision is both primitive and predictable.

When it comes to decision-making, there are two basic parts, and they can be categorized as either an influencer or the judge. You might be surprised to learn that neither logic nor emotion are the judge. They’re influencers, offering support for really big decisions, some of the time. The real judge is the “instinctual” part of the brain, the limbic part. Its everyday job is to eliminate threats, pains and fears.

What’s amazing is that about 90% of our daily choices only happen in this part of the brain. They’re the sort of things we do all the time, like braking when a light turns red, tying a shoelace that’s come undone, or avoiding a hornet flying near you. For the other 10%, the limbic part of the brain makes its move first, and then logic and emotion come in as backup support. You can’t avoid it; every human decision, including whether or not to buy from you, begins with an assessment of threats, pains and fears.

What We Know About the Brain

Process – Most sales people present in a way that conflicts with our brain’s decision-making process, citing facts and figures and features and benefits. As hard as it might seem, you need to flip it upside down, and talk about pains, threats, and fears first.

Speed – With 90% of decision made on autopilot, you must make it easy and fast for your prospects to say “that’s it!”.

Emotion – You must create emotional lift to spark commitment. Emotions are the trigger to decisions.

So, How Do I Present to the Brain?

#1 – Develop Your Three Convincing Why’s

Find the two or three ways you solve your prospect’s pain. Prove them over and over and you create alignment with your prospect’s entire team, each member able to remember and recite how you’re different and why they should buy. Those two or three reasons answer “Why you?” We call them Convincing Advantages™.

Well-crafted advantages that are unique to you, focused on your prospect’s pain and relentlessly proven, make it easy to communicate, easy to remember, and easy to apply – along every step of the sale.

 

#2 – Stop Talking About Yourself

“We have over 100 years combined experience on our team…”

“We’ve been a local resource for two decades….”

“We are trusted by over 10 of the Fortune 500…”

Do not start your presentation by talking about yourself. The brain does not care you are 100 years old, that you love your customers, or that your astrological sign is sagittarius.   

So many presentations lead with facts and figures, trying to win with logic, features or benefits, keeping you in the “wants and needs” part of the brain. We now know real connection happens below that line, at the subconscious level.

 

#3 – Focus on Solving Pains and Eliminating Threats

Your prospect’s brain needs to hear how you’re solving its pain first. During your presentation, start by setting the pain and showing resolution. This is called driving emotional lift. That last movie or book you enjoyed? It was a great example of setting up a pain or threat and then giving you the same kind of emotional lift through its resolution.

Your presentation doesn’t need Hollywood special effects, but it can make the pitch better if you follow the formula. Each pain you address must be quickly countered with its resolution–your product or service. Then, back it up with solid proof. This engages the right part of the brain–the limbic brain–first, then gets the influencers–emotion and logic–to stop by and agree.

Win More Sales with A Better Pitch

You can’t show up and look the same, act the same, and say the same things as your competition and expect to close the sale. You have to win the brain to stand-out and differentiate and carry the room to close the deal. You can start winning more deals with sales presentations that actually engage your prospects and position you as the only solution.

Let’s talk about winning more deals for your sales team with a NeuroPitch presentation >>

Should I Hire an Agency?

  1. Cost Savings
  2. Team of Experts
  3. Tools and Technologies
  4. Industry Experience
  5. External Ideas/Opinions
  6. Time and Effort

6 Reasons You Should Hire A Marketing Agency

You’ve all heard it before, especially those business owners out there. You need to invest in digital marketing, or traditional marketing, or whatever marketing is trending right now. In order for you to be successful, you HAVE to invest, but how do you know where to start?

It’s difficult in today’s market to decipher what’s real and what’s fake. Will marketing really help drive more sales? How can you determine what’s working and what isn’t? Where do I start the search for the right direction, strategy, and execution for any marketing efforts? Should I hire an in-house marketing team or go with an external agency?

The last question is what we’re here to answer.

More and more, small to mid-sized businesses are turning to agencies to help deliver a return on whatever monies they are able to invest in their marketing. As such, the number of agencies that are out there grows every day, as individuals look to take advantage of a growing industry, new technologies, and innovative solutions. It’s a difficult decision to make, entrusting your marketing efforts to some “outsiders” who might not be experts in your industry, may not know your product or your people, and might not be available to call upon every hour of every day. However, we have six reasons for you to consider as to why an agency is not only a solution to your marketing woes, but is THE solution.

  1. Save Yourself the Expense of More Staff Members

According to Robert Half, an internal Marketing Director can cost on average around $102,000 in salary for your company. That’s one person to guide the strategy, manage a team, and execute some of that direction. Often, those Marketing Directors have some specialization in certain areas, but are not able to execute on all the various spokes of marketing today. So maybe you have to hire an SEO Expert at around $60,000, then you might need a Social Media Marketer for another $50,000. If you continue down that road, you hire a Paid Search Specialist for another $40,000. All in for these four individuals you’d be spending more than $250,000 on staff members, and that of course doesn’t include benefits, equipment, utilities, etc…for these people.

  1. Team of Experts

If I had a penny for the number of times I’ve heard the phrase, “I could hire an internal resource for that much.” Often, it’s not a wholly inaccurate statement. You COULD hire ONE internal resource. However, let’s say you had $10,000 per month to invest in your marketing efforts (a very low number). You could invest that all in your one internal resource. Alternatively, you could put that money in the hands of 15 experts who work together as a team to come up with the best strategies and solutions for your brand. Each of those 15 has a different set of skills, experience in any number of industries, and familiar with a plethora of solutions that could benefit your company in ways that you’ve never seen. You get an SEO expert, a paid search specialist, social media manager, account manager, strategist, content marketer, graphic designer, and more with one agency.

Go ahead, though. Tell me more about that one internal resource you can hire.

  1. Latest Tools and Technologies

I will tell you one thing. Digital marketing tools to monitor results, look at trends, schedule and execute project, or determine A/B testing results are expensive. You could easily spend $1,000 or more per month on a variety of tools and still not have everything you need. Generally, agencies invest in these tools on behalf of their clients. They need to be able to show the return on investment, monitor goals, track progress, and make sure the strategy and direction are working. It just comes with the business, and using an agency will allow you to get the cutting-edge tools and software packages working for you at no extra cost.

  1. Industry Experience

Many agencies have team members with years of experience in different industries and fields. Often companies may not consider this when deciding to hire an agency. While every company is unique, there are always similarities to be found based on experience. It’s very possible that the agency you choose has run a successful campaign in a similar field or even in your same field! That saves time, energy, and money in planning and executing on the various strategies and goals that you have set for your company.

  1. External Ideas/Opinions

Working inside your company every day gives an individual insight into the day-to-day operations, the culture, the characters, and the products or services. However, over time those opinions and thoughts can get stale, old, and blurry. You might have the perfect solution for your current audience or market, but what about a new market? What about that audience that you haven’t looked at yet but provides a way for you to grow your market share? How do you find out about everything OUTSIDE of your company? An agency can provide a fresh, new perspective, helping you discover even more about your company but also more about your clients and prospects. Don’t sell yourself short by doing what has “worked for years.” Find something new!

  1. Time and Effort

Hiring an outside marketing agency really lets you spend your time and effort on what matters most: growing your business. With so many different solutions and tactics out there, internal resources can often get lost in the marketing forest and lose focus on what is most important. You can stay focused on the core of your business, taking the reporting and strategies provided by your agency relationship and leveraging those experts to improve your core business goals.

The other side of this is that you don’t have to spend time training and onboarding yet another internal resource. An agency already understands its role, has defined clear goals and expectations (or they should), and provides you the information that you need without the extra clutter of managing a staff member.

In conclusion…

Ultimately, you have to do your due diligence and make the best decision for your company. Whether you’re the CEO, CMO, or a marketing manager looking for a good partner, there is an agency out there that can help maximize your budget, deliver you results, and help you grow your business. That’s the goal, right? Ask the right questions and find the right partner. They’re out there!

Google Medic Update

Around August 1, 2018, Google rolled out what it has been calling one of its many core algorithm updates. Initially title the “Medic” update, many SEOs and industry professionals were noting that many healthcare and health-related websites were the most affected by the update. However, looking at some of the indicators and trends, it looks as if this was an entire search change and has affected companies across a multitude of different industries.

First, just to stick with the theme of many other Google updates that have had names (i.e. Panda, Hummingbird, Penguin, Pigeon), I feel like this should really just be called the “Serpent” or “Snake” or “something similar to the medical field and the logo associated with that industry” update. Why we just decided to be boring and uncreative (I suppose SEOs are often both of those things…) feels lazy. Come on everyone, we’re better than that.

Second, this has very clearly affected more than just the healthcare and health-related industries. We have seen rankings fluctuating across all industries. According to the Google team, there is nothing in particular to “fix” for this core update, but it is just an overarching quality update to give credit where credit is due to websites that have been doing the right things. Does that mean there’s nothing you can do to either get some of those rankings back or to make an even large positive trend?

Of course not! With the continued focus from Google and the other search engines to deliver their users the right content in the right place at the right time, the quality of your content and marketing efforts online are more important than ever. Gone are the days of producing content in bulk. You need to ensure that your content marketing efforts revolve around being unique, giving your users what they want, answering questions that your users didn’t even know they had, and just generally putting your best foot forward. If you don’t feel good about what you’re putting out there, why would anyone else?

If you’ve noticed that you’ve lost some spots in the SERPs or seen a slow down in your organic visits, check to see if you’ve been affected by this latest update. Don’t sit still and hope for the best; get to work! If you’re lost and just don’t know where to start, contact the team at Revenue Path Group and we can help come up with a custom strategy to keep your company moving forward!

 

Drone Technology – A Sign of the Times

Yes, this photo is real.

This sign was posted on a telephone pole that is typically reserved for garage sales and missing pets. But, a missing drone. That’s a new one. I chuckled, and I wondered if this person would actually get their drone back…or if the drone is sitting crushed into pieces in the trash can of a disgruntled neighbor.

As the barriers to access drone technology by the average consumer or small business owner fall, drones are rapidly advancing a number of industries from real estate to healthcare. To sum it up, drones aren’t going anywhere. The applications seem endless, and the person with the drone can do more business for less and time money.

Get a Drone or Get Out of the Way

Real Estate – Not only do drones allow real estate agents to showcase property’s more thoroughly with drone cameras (thanks to drone camera footage and AI, you can virtually walk through your future home), but drones are making property inspections easier and more complete.

Industry and Infrastructure – Drones are being used to make sure bridges, towers, pipelines, power lines, turbines, storage tanks and more are functioning properly for less time and cost than traditional inspections. Drones are even being used for land surveys and construction project inspections.

Security – Big brother. Maybe. The Eye in the Sky. Yep. Keeping tabs on a property…and people. Insert discussion about privacy here.

Shipping – This one is sort of a no-brainer. Amazon’s been talking about this for a few years now. But, picture this. It’s February and there are 5 feet of snow on the ground (lucky you if you live in a warm climate). You have a sinus infection. You do a virtual doctor visit from the comfort of your couch, a prescription is texted in from your virtual doctor to the pharmacy, and a few hours later…beep, boop, bop, boop, beep…a drone from your local pharmacy drops off your script. What a time to be alive, people!

Drone technology, as it applies to our everyday lives is just getting started. Are you in an industry that’s part of the drone evolution? Or could be? Or, are you the person with a drone and the next great idea?

This is Just Cool

TIME magazine recently published a Special Report on drones, The Drone Age. TIME’s special edition issue cover photo is the first to be shot by a drone. Working with Intel’s Drone Light Show Team (the same team that created the drone display during the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in South Korea), Astraeus Aerial Cinema Systems, and L.A. Drones, the TIME cover used 958 drones set to display a precise shade of red, and a final drone to hold the camera that captured the epic image.

The result was one of the biggest drone shows ever produced in the U.S., so of course, it drew some attention. One Folsom, Calif., resident interviewed by a local news reporter recounted, “Up in the sky, I saw the future.”

We couldn’t agree more.

How to Use Technology and Trust to Prove Your Convincing Advantages

We, as a society don’t trust.

According to The General Social Survey, since the 1970s, our trust in other’s has dropped by almost 20%. And it’s not just people we don’t trust. Only 12% of Americans trust the press, only 14% trust banks, and only 14% trust government officials. Heck, we don’t even trust those closest to us. Only 42% of people trust their neighbors and only 58% of people trust their co-workers (I’m looking at you Jim, I know you stole my Poptart out of the breakroom).

Yet, here we sit waiting for a complete stranger to pick us up in his personal vehicle to bring us to a restaurant we found on Yelp, scanning Amazon reviews to make sure we buy the right toaster.

Ummm…are we really that skeptical?

In short, yes. But, technology allows us to build trust faster than we would in a traditional relationship. When we meet a person, a business, or a product, one to one, it takes time to build rapport. Technology shortens the time it takes to trust by compiling the data we use to assess trust. Not only does technology allow us to get to know our Uber drive before he shows up at the door, we get peace of mind that Steve is a great Uber driver from 100 other riders. I automatically trust Steve more because of those reviews. I might have received the same feedback talking to 10 friends about Steve’s driving, but that would have taken much more time.

Arun Sundararajan, author of “The Sharing Economy,” explains these technologies have essentially “expedited” the process of gaining trust.

“If you meet a stranger and know nothing about him or her, trust takes time to develop,” he says. “But if you have a digital system that gives you a bunch of info about the authenticity of that stranger, trust can be gained instantly.” (The Hustle)

The same is true for an early interaction with your organization. If I meet you a tradeshow, and you’re an RPG customer so you’re Convincing Advantages and Why are solid, I am really interested in how you can help me. I visit your website, see 10 testimonials, and I’m sold. Now, I really trust what you are telling me.

When we talk to clients about their Convincing Advantages, we stress the importance of relentlessly proving them. One of the best ways to prove your advantages is through testimonials. And testimonials build trust. If you aren’t using trust to prove your advantages, it’s time to start.

How do I get started?

First, identify the best way to communicate trust. Depending on your product or service, you may want to use technology that will solicit user ratings or reviews. Case studies are the perfect vehicle to tell in-depth customer stories. Testimonials about your product or service are also very powerful.

Second, ask, and make it easy for your customers to give feedback. You can request feedback in a number of ways; via email, after a transaction – especially if you are using a technology-driven system-, on social media. You might be surprised by how many people are willing to share.

Third, make it a continuous part a part of your marketing and sales process to gather feedback from customers. And, not just new customers. Revisit current customers and update your stories to show progress.

Lastly, publish the testimonials and reviews where you meet prospects – via an app, on your website, in emails and marketing campaigns, on sales collateral. Harness the power of technology to relentlessly prove your Convincing Advantages with trust. And start winning more customers.

Learn more about developing your Convincing Advantages.

Source: The General Social Survey (1972-2016) NORC, University of Chicago; as reported in The Hustle.