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Case Study from Our Files
How Dan Lewis Tripled
His Business in Nine Months!
by Joe Gracia

Note: The names of the people and businesses in our case studies have been changed to ensure the privacy of the people involved, but the details, recommendations and results are based on actual events from our files.

Dan Lewis owned a small dental restoration business that he ran from his home. He had been creating dental restorations for local dentists for over 25 years, but competition from lower-priced businesses was making it more difficult for him to keep his business profitable.

By the time Dan had called us, he was desperate. Many of his long-time clients had switched to his lower-priced competitors and his client base was rapidly shrinking. At this rate he would have to close shop within a year.

Our first objective was to determine exactly what the situation was. We needed to know three things:

1) Why were Dan's clients switching to his competitors?
2) What was Dan doing to get his clients back?
3) What was Dan doing to attract new clients?

Here's what Dan shared with us.

Dan told us that he was proud of the fact that he had always produced a high quality product. His dental restorations were made from the highest quality ceramic available.

He used a multi-step process that took longer to complete and cost more than his competitors, but the process guaranteed that his restorations would last significantly longer than his competitors' restorations.

Dan didn't want to put down his competitors, but we understood from our conversation with him that his competitors were able to charge less because they used cheaper materials and cut corners in the dental restoration process.

While this resulted in a less expensive restoration, in the long run it would cost the dentists' patients much more in repair work and replacement costs.

In addition, Dan's material, process, and color matching system resulted in a much more natural looking dental restoration than his competitors could create.

Overall, Dan's products and customer service were significantly superior to his competitors' -- and that was his saving grace.

We knew that if Dan was producing an inferior product and trying to charge more money for it, that there was little or nothing that we could do for him.

But, with a superior product and service, we knew we had an excellent chance to help Dan turn things around.

Facts vs. Opinions

We then asked Dan why he thought his clients would opt for a lower quality product as opposed to his higher quality restorations.

Here was his response:

"There was a time when people in the dental profession had a higher level of pride in their work. It's sad to say, but I feel that things have changed and that more dentists are now more concerned about making additional profit than they are about quality."

We've heard this point of view many times in the past from many other business owners. It's usually an emotional response that has little truth to it. If his opinion was true, then there would be very little Dan could do to turn his situation around.

While it certainly is true that all business owners are concerned about profit, it's very unlikely that they 'aren't' also concerned about quality.

After all, if a dentist begins to lower his quality doesn't it stand to reason that his business will suffer? Will his patients settle for lower quality, or will they begin to search for another dentist?

Our experience has shown that business owners will sometimes try to cut costs by switching to a less expensive vendor, but that once they become aware of a slip in quality, they will very often return to the 'quality' vendor -- if the vendor takes appropriate action to get his clients back.

As you'll learn in the rest of this article, there are specific action steps that any business owner can take to dramatically increase the size of their business and their monthly sales.

These concepts and techniques are not difficult to learn or apply. If you feel you're ready to explode your sales, then learn more about the most powerful marketing strategy developed for small businesses -- our Give to Get Marketing Solution.

Dan Wasn't Being Proactive

It turns out that Dan wasn't doing anything to try to get his lost clients to return to using his restoration services.

Dan told us that he wasn't a very pushy person. He figured that if his former clients wanted his services they would call back in time without any effort on his part.

We explained to Dan, that wasn't likely to happen. People, especially busy professionals, can be procrastinators. But more importantly, dentists are also human beings. Those that switched to his competitors may now be embarrassed for switching and hesitant to contact him.

If Dan wanted his clients back, he would have to be the one to take some proactive steps -- not his former clients.

Dan Received No Response from His Previous Marketing Efforts

We also discovered that Dan was doing very little to attract new clients to his business. He did have a small ad in the Yellow Pages, but he got very little new business from that.

He had also tried direct mail, a little telemarketing, and cold calling.

Dan had very little faith that any of those things could help him salvage his business, since he never got a single response to any of his marketing efforts.

He had mailed a flyer about his services to a few hundred dentists in his area, but not one dentist responded.

He didn't like making telemarketing calls and absolutely hated making personal cold calls.

"I have never been able to get past the dentists' receptionists. They tell me that the dentist is too busy to speak to a salesperson. They promise to pass my card on to the dentist, but I know they never do.

"I'm a professional, and I hate being treated like a common peddler. I vowed to never make another cold call again!"

The Solution

The first thing we did was explain to Dan that his belief that many of his clients were more concerned about cutting costs than providing quality restorations to their patients was probably an emotional opinion and not based on fact.

We told him that our experience had convinced us that most professional business owners are concerned about 'both' quality and costs.

We felt pretty certain that what Dan needed to do was educate his current clients, as well as his former clients concerning the quality of his restorations, and the ultimate higher costs of lower quality restorations.

We Began by Helping Dan Educate His Current and Former Clients

We helped Dan put together a simple letter listing the benefits of his higher quality restorations, as well as a list of the multi-step process that Dan used to ensure that high quality.

Dan explained how his higher quality restorations would last longer, and would increase patient satisfaction.

Dan also emphasized that he would stand behind his restorations with a 100% money-back guarantee. Dan always stood behind his work, but he had never put it in writing. We explained to Dan that by guaranteeing his products in writing, he would boost the confidence of his clients and future prospects in his services.

His competition did not guarantee their products, and this would set Dan head and shoulders above them.

He also made a list of the problems that could arise by using cheaper, lower quality restorations. These included mismatched colors, greening (a case where lower quality dental restorations can take on a greenish hue over time) and a relatively short time before chipping and cracking can occur.

We had Dan title the information about the problems with cheaper restorations, 'The Hidden Costs of Cheap Dental Restorations.'

Of course, the biggest cost of the cheap restorations was a loss of patient satisfaction and confidence in the dentist's services. The prospect of losing patients is not something a dentist takes lightly.

Dan had this educational information copied onto his letterhead, and he then mailed it to his current and former clients.

Getting Back Dan's Former Clients

In addition to the educational information, Dan also included a special offer to his 'former' clients. He offered them a $100 Discount Certificate good for 30 days.

We had Dan do this for three reasons. 1) We wanted to give his former clients a clear Call to Action with a specific time-frame; 2) we wanted to appeal to their impulse to improve their profit as well as their quality, and 3) we knew that if Dan could open up the doors of communication with these former clients and get them to begin using his services again, that he stood a very good chance of getting all of their business back.

With this initial action on Dan's part he was able to get back 40% of his former clients immediately -- and with a few more follow-up mailings and his special offer Dan was able to reinstate 60% of his former clients within 6 months.

Dan's Plan for Attracting New Clients

Next we tackled the job of showing Dan how to attract new clients.

We started by explaining to Dan that his bad experience with direct mail, telemarketing and personal cold calls, was due to his lack of a solid and effective strategy, not the marketing vehicles themselves.

Dan was trying to use the ineffective 'One-Step' strategy which most small business owners use. Dan was simply trying to sell his services in one quick and easy step to dentists who knew nothing about him, his company or his services.

We explained to Dan that people buy things they want from people they know, like and trust.

Before Dan could get new dentists to begin using his services he would have to get them to know, like, and trust him.

We had already established with Dan that dentists, like all business professionals are interested in making their practices more profitable.

With Dan's 25+ years in the dental restoration field, he had quite a bit of knowledge about how to maximize the efficiency, productivity and profitability of a dental practice.

We simply had Dan convert his knowledge into a list of profitable tips for dentists. By the time Dan was through with his list, he had 101 simple tips.

We had Dan title this informative report '101 Tips for Dentists Who Would Like to Increase Their Efficiency, Productivity and Profitability.'

We then told Dan to mail a simple one page letter to the dentists in his marketplace offering them his free, informative 'tips' report, as well as a description of his restoration services.

He made it clear in his letter, that there was absolutely no obligation.

The purpose of this first step was to have Dan attract new prospects to his business with an enticing free offer.

We explained to Dan that by having the dentists contact Dan to receive the free offer, it would totally change the dynamics between them. Instead of Dan being perceived as a pushy salesperson intruding on the dentists' time, he would now be perceived as someone who was generously sharing ideas and information that the dentists would find valuable.

For Dan's first mailing, he mailed 250 letters and received 17 requests for his free information. That equated to a 7 percent response. A 1 - 2% response is considered standard in direct mail, so this response was phenomenal. It showed that we had hit a hot button.

Dan was thrilled. He had never gotten any response to any of his marketing efforts in the past because he was always trying to sell his services in his initial contact. This was an entirely new way of thinking for Dan.

Along with the free information, and description of his services, Dan included a special offer to his new prospects.

He included the same information about the benefits of quality restorations vs. the high costs of cheaper restorations.

An Offer They Couldn't Refuse

He also included a special Gift Certificate for One Free Restoration, plus 4 Discount Certificates for $25 Off the next four restorations.

Why was Dan being so generous in his offers? Because we had taught Dan to always consider the total 'lifetime' value of a customer when determining how strong your initial offers should be. Just how valuable is a new client?

Dan had told us that one dental account would average $25,000 in sales for his company over the lifetime of that relationship.

With that kind of back end value, it was worth it to Dan to be 'very' generous in his First-Time customer offer.

This would be an offer that would be hard to refuse.

Dan also felt confident that once he had gotten his foot in the door, that his new clients would continue purchasing from him at full price because of his superior quality and excellent customer service, as long as he proactively educated his clients concerning the value of his quality products and services.

There was one more twist to our marketing recommendations. We suggested that instead of mailing the packet of free information and special offer to his new prospects, that he should deliver it in person.

This would ensure that the dentist received it, and it would give Dan the opportunity to meet the dentist face-to-face to establish rapport.

Dan was hesitant at first, since his past efforts at cold calling had been very negative.

We assured him that this was no longer cold calling. Dan was merely delivering something that the dentist had requested. We told him to explain that to the receptionists, and that he would like to introduce himself to the dentist before he left.

The Results

When we saw Dan a few weeks later, he was excited and pleased.

"You won't believe what happened! Not one receptionist turned me away. I got to meet every dentist face-to-face. They were even gracious to me. I guess they didn't see me as a pushy salesperson, but rather as someone giving them something valuable -- almost like a gift.

"Before I left, I made sure to tell them a little about my restoration services and that I had included a Gift Certificate and Discount Certificates in the free packet.

"I could hardly believe it -- two of the dentists took me up on my free offer right then and there. A few more promised that they would do the same in just a few days.

"I have to say that I was very hesitant at first about giving away a free restoration. But now I can see how much sense it makes. Every one of the dentists who took me up on my free offer called me to say how pleased they were with the quality of my restorations.

"They weren't used to this level of quality with their current suppliers. With this marketing system, I was now certain that these dentists would experience the higher quality of my products first-hand."

Over the next month or two, Dan converted 50% of his new prospects into paying clients.

By doing more mailings and following up with his prospects, Dan tripled the size of his business within nine months.

Dan totally changed his point of view about marketing. He now could see the results that could be achieved with an effective marketing strategy.

Dan had a superior product, and excellent customer service. We showed Dan how to educate his clients and prospects to the benefits of his higher quality in a way that made sense to them.

We also had him show his clients and prospects how costly cheap restorations could be to their business.

We then showed Dan how to effectively market his services to new prospects by eliminating all selling from his first step. Instead he offered his new prospects free, helpful information that they found difficult to resist.

This strategy opens the doors to establishing rapport with new prospects, and gives them a chance to get to know, like and trust you and your company.

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