Unanswered Phones Represent the Biggest Marketing & Recruitment Leakage in FE
I’ve written about unanswered phones before. It is no good spending £000s on marketing only to ignore the calls when a prospective student calls.
Sadly the blight of unanswered calls continues. In the last two weeks, I’ve repeatedly called two providers that have failed to answer. One just lets the phone ring and ring without going to answerphone. The other plays back testimonials (with background noise) for several minutes before saying it has not been possible to connect you and cutting the call. Continue reading
Posted in Business Development, Business Strategy, Communication, Contact, Customer Care, Customer Service, Employer Engagement, FE News, Income Generation, Management, Marketing, Ofsted, Reputation, Telephone
Tagged phone, phones, unanswered phones
Every Week I See Shiny New Marketing Toys Being Recommended. Too Often They Focus on Tactics NOT Marketing Principles
There is a big difference between a tactic and a principle. Both can work short term, but principles are far longer lived and can last forever. Continue reading
I Know Several Ways to Acquire New High Value Clients .. But Only One of Them Works
I’m not talking about acquiring students or low value commercial business. I mean the high value clients that bring in five or six figure sums.
The businesses that pay big money.
High Value Clients May Come From ..
People crave useful information but hate spam
This simple fact means that keeping in regular contact with people, especially busy employers, is much easier than many people think.
All you need to do is to send them regular emails packed full of really good advice that is of specific interest to them. This sounds time consuming, but it really isn’t if you use an Autoresponder.
An Autoresponder is what your email uses to send an “out of office” message. It responds to an incoming email. Or in this case someone signing up to a newsletter. It then sends out a message, either at a predetermined time or whenever you prompt it to. Continue reading
What is the Curiosity Gap and how does it apply to Employer Engagement & Business Development ?
George Lowenstein coined a theory he called the Curiosity Gap. In it he suggests that as soon as we realise there is a gap in our knowledge, we strive to fill it.
In Employer Engagement and Business Development we can take advantage of the Curiosity Gap by using a very simple formula. Continue reading
The Power of Three Makes Sales More Certain
The Power of Three is a very simple idea that can really provide improved sales and marketing results.
What is the Power of Three?
The power of three is simple, but lets start with the number one. When you offer people one option .. or a take it or leave it option .. they have no choice and there is a high chance you fail to make a sale.
But give people several options and the choice goes from deciding if they want your course to deciding which option they want.
Sadly FE rarely offers people options that could sell more. But they could if they follow this advice.
Examples of the Power of Three Options
Say you are selling a First Aid course.
Lots of colleges sell these courses and buyers decide on location and price. Where several providers exist in a buyers area they then often buy based on price alone.
The Power of Three says you should offer the standard course at a given price but then offer two further options. These could be based on anything to providing free coffee and or lunch to things like online QA after the course. Continue reading
The Elevator Pitch is Dead
Do you recall the elevator pitch?. You had to tell people about yourself in the time it took to go a few floors in a lift or on an elevator. My US friends need to translate .. what Americans call an elevator we cal a lift in the UK.
Most people focused on something like “I’m Stefan and I am a marketing consultant”. It was all about the speaker and very boring.
A better concept is to talk about what they need. So when I meet a principal in a lift I get a better response if I say something like, “I’m Stefan and I’ve just increased applications at x college buy 30% and cut their marketing budget by £100k. Would you be interested in learning how we did it?” Continue reading
Using a Phone Number or Email You Can Obtain Customer Profile Information Direct From the Facebook Database
OK, thinking about your customer profile; you probably know how you can target audiences and create lookalike audiences using an existing email list.
But did you know you can take an audience segment and get audience insights for that list? This is powerful customer profile data that really helps you boost sales and marketing.
You might decide you want to know more about 16-18 year olds that are on engineering or beauty courses.
Or perhaps you want to target employers that attended a particular event or college webinar (you are doing college webinars aren’t you?).
Once you do this you open the door to seeing where they live, their gender, age, interests etc. Continue reading
Posted in 14-19, Advertising, Apprenticeships, Business Development, Business Strategy, conference management, Employer Engagement, event management
Tagged customer profile, employer engagement, facebook, student profile
Whether Encouraging Prospective Students or Employers We’ve All Sensed Prospective Customers That Are Reluctant to Proceed.
When Reluctant Buyers voice their issues it is relatively easy as we have been trained to handle the situation; we know about sales objections and how to handle them. The real problem comes when we just sense their reluctance but it is left unsaid.
So what do we Brits do? Often we leave sleeping dogs to lie. We don’t like raising problems. this is mainly because we try to avoid conflict at all costs.
The result is the meeting or negotiation goes well, there is no conflict and we part “good friends”. But the student never reappears or the employer doesn’t place the order for training or doesn’t proceed with taking an apprentice.
Everyone has wasted their time. It is a lose lose situation.
Handling Reluctant Buyers Unsaid Sales Objections
The Lifetime Value (LTV) of a Customer is Important. So Using the Supermarket “Lost Leader” Concept to Grow Your Provider Business Is Essential.
So often a course fails due to low numbers. You have nine people signed up and you need ten to be viable. So you send nine people away unhappy because you ignored Lifetime Value.
Often it feels like this is the only way forward. It makes economic sense. OR does it? Continue reading
How Often Do Your Clients Become Past Memories?
For example you might have had students from a particular business for years and then they suddenly stop enrolling one year. Or maybe a school was an excellent feeder for years and then started to tail off. The answer could be coffee!
The schools issue is not so common with most providers as they often have a dedicated schools liaison person. And that fact indicates the problem with the former. You see if no one is tasked with keeping in touch with current customers they soon get forgotten. It isn’t enough to think that your courses are great and they will keep on coming. All it takes is for a competitor to appear and woo them away from you.
But if you keep in touch with them on a regular basis then they are far less likely to disappear. Ideally you should be sending them some useful snippets of info, or some top tips relevant to them, on a regular basis.
Frequently I’m Told Employers Will NOT Pay a Premium .. or sometimes anything at all.
That’s NOT True
Employers will pay much more than most people think when buying courses for themselves or highly valued staff.
The trick is to tap into what they value or need most.
Employers are people and people value the little extras in life .. such as
Luxury (the feeling of)
Process (if it’s unique)
Passing Responsibility (the transfer of it…to you)
Think about the businesses that YOU pay a premium to…
What do they give you that makes you happy to pay extra?
Coffee shops; most charge a high premium on coffee fees. In return you get a distinct ambiance, great coffee, comfortable seating and (usually) good music.
Apple, Their computers and phones are really expensive. You can pay 100% – 400% premium on their computers. But in return, you get a Apple shops which provide a much better experience, a great feeling when opening the box plus good customer service.
Even the simpler, more innovative design implies clarity.
What Employers Will Pay For
Employers will pay extra if you provide some, or all, of the above.
The first step is to answer the phone correctly. These people are responsible adults that run businesses. Far too often when I speak to providers on the phone I feel like they are treating me like a school leaver. There is no need to be abrupt or appear superior!
I’m sure staff don’t set out to appear like this .. but sadly some definitely come over like this.
So start by thinking about the people you are dealing with and what they expect. Provide this as a minimum and then try to exceed their expectations. You can then base your prices on this level of service and see significant income improvements.
You will also stand out from the crowd when bidding against other providers.
Do you only offer the usual courses. You know, the usual list of manual handling, health and safety courses, food hygiene and all those other courses you can find on 90-95% of provider websites?
This employer market is limited and incomes restricted.
But there is another way where incomes and profit grow at an exponential rate.
You see while very few ever look beyond offering this shortlist and, if asked for something out of the ordinary, just say they there is no call for it. The really smart providers do something entirely different.
They make significant profit.
In Business Development & Employer Engagement We Are Often Told We Must Network
But what is the real value of networking? And how should we network? Do we need to go to regular meetings and meet like minded people?
Based on my own experience and the available research on networking I believe the need to network via networking groups is largely a myth broadcast by the people that organise networking groups.
Certainly some businesses benefit from attending networking groups but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule. The people that benefit most are those that take our fees!
Money is tight.
But recent budget cuts make increasing employer income an imperative. But how do we do it? How do we increase revenue from employers?
My recent article in FE News addresses this issue. I detail one method that works for me on a regular basis
How to Increase Provider Revenue
Follow-up is a superb way to increase your sales and profits and is very easy to understand and undertake.
So lets start with the Follow Up basics.
You’ve met someone and they have shown genuine interest in what you have to offer. You exchange cards and part company with promises to get back in touch. But clearly you will not be doing any business if you don’t get back in contact.
Sadly that is where many potential business opportunities fail. No further contact is made.
Now it might be that you feel getting back in touch feels a bit pushy. OK, but if you aren’t prepared to push at this stage there is no business to be had. You have to make the effort to get back in touch.
This is how I do it.
If you were offered the chance to meet Richard Branson or an insurance salesman, to discuss whatever was on your mind, which would you choose?
My guess is you would say Richard Branson simply because he would probably say something that really resonated with your working life in some way or other.
Of course, like me, you might think insurance is a necessary evil but it doesn’t grab your attention so easily.
On July 1st I chaired the Apprenticeships for England Employer Engagement Event in Peterborough. It was a day of 10 minute presentations followed by debate, comment and discussion from the audience.
One idea put forward is that employers live in a world where sales is not a dirty word. It is what many of them do for a living. So we shouldn’t be ashamed of “selling” apprenticeships and we should stop trying to dress it up as something else.
Start with a Smile
Smiles are free. They are also the best Marketing & Sales tool ever devised. But they have to be genuine. Forced smiles are sensed by customers as soon as seen.
Most people miss most of the functions that LinkedIn offers and whilst it will never fully substitute as a CRM system, it has some functions that will replicate a few of them. This makes it a great Employer Engagement tool.
Bearing in mind that so few FE organisations have little in the way of CRM systems these are worth considering.
On the image above I’ve marked 6 functions that can be found on LinkedIn profiles. Go to anyone you have linked with and you’ll find it at the top of their profile (just under their photo).