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Ernan RomanClearly these are scary times and according to the data we’ve seen, it will get worse and stay bad longer than anticipated.

In this issue we’ll provide 20 tips to help you grow your business, not just survive, in these interesting times.

In addition to tips I’ll share, I’ve asked 4 business leaders to provide their insights. These executives are leaders / founders of successful companies:

  • Sarah Endline, CEO, sweetriot
  • Shane Hedges, President, Envision EMI
  • Dr. Ramesh Ratan, EVP & Chief Operating Officer, Direct Marketing Association, Inc.
  • Tony Grass, President, e-Market Intelligence, Inc.
I’ll begin by providing 4 Tips for Growth:

Tip #1: Identify Ways to Get Closer to Your Customer.
The rush of companies who have recently asked us to conduct Voice of Customer Relationship Research have had one common focus: learn what customers identify as effective strategies for deeper engagement.

No one is engaging customers as deeply as they should. Seek their voice of customer guidance in developing meaningful engagement strategies.

Tip #2: Shift Budgets to Spend More on Retention Versus Acquisition.
In 1918, AT&T determined that it costs 5 times more to generate a new customer versus selling to an existing customer.

Now it costs 10 times more to generate a new customer versus selling to existing customers.

Don’t stop prospecting.

But, spend more of your budget on Retention and Growth than you have in the past.

Tip #3: Create the Value Hierarchy.
A consistent trend across the 87 VOC research studies we’ve conducted: when customers feel they are receiving value, price drops in importance as a decision factor.

This holds true for any product deemed important, whether high cost and high tech or lower cost: from IT hardware / software to consumer services and consumables such as music or phone services.

The value hierarchy invariably looks like this: Quality, Service / Support, and Price. Clearly, this does not apply to commodities.

VAlue Hierarchy

Tip #4: Find Ways to Improve Your Customer Service.
One of the best ways to build loyalty is to demonstrate value and care during customer service interactions.

Per our recent Huffington Post Customer Service Call Center Research, only 32% reported a positive experience. For additional results and 7 tips to improve your customer service call center, click here.

For 16 additional tips to grow your business from 4 business leaders, please read below.

Hope to see you at the NCDM Conference. If you’re attending, please join me at my session on Tuesday, 12/9 at 3:45 pm, titled; “Learn How to Achieve Double Digit Response with Socially Responsible Multichannel Opt-In Marketing”.

With best wishes,


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4 Business Leaders Share 16 Tips for Growth Strategies During Tough Times

Wedgewood PharmacySarah Endline
Mastermind and Chief Rioter

sweetriot was recently named a finalist on Fast Company’s “Fast 50” list, in the Top 3 of Fortune’s Small Business Competition, and on WorldBlu’s list of the world’s most democratic companies. The sweet treat has been called out as a “Sustainable Product and Green Gift” by Vanity Fair, CNN and Food and Wine.

Tip #1: Practice Open Book Financial Management Firm-Wide.
Everyone owns the numbers and the well-being of the organization. Open review of P&L and questioning of expenses at month end. Review of numbers from cash to revenues – consistent transparency around status of the numbers leads to ownership. Openness about issues / challenges and team trouble-shooting.

Tip #2: Set Up A “Shazam” Program!
Leaders think that recognition comes in “hard forms” such as cash and bonuses. However, “soft forms” can be quite powerful. At sweetriot, we set up a program called “Shazam” to recognize the right actions on a daily and weekly basis. In our weekly meeting (called a sweeting), I give shazams at the end to team members for specific things they have achieved in the past week. On a daily basis, the entire team emails shazams to each other when progress is made. This keeps the energy high.

Tip #3: Make Sure Every Dollar Goes Towards Sales.
Just say no to budget items that aren’t sales focused. Keep the focus on sales being the ‘lifeline’ of the organization.

Tip #4: Vision First.
Don’t lose sight of the end goal – what are you going after? In our case, Vision 2010 signs are hanging in the office for a longer-term focus.


Envision Shane Hedges
Envision EMI


Shane worked his way through the ranks of Envision EMI to become the company’s youngest President at age 34. Envision develops educational leadership and learning experiences in 30 US states and on 5 continents for high achieving young people. Envision was named twice by the Washingtonian Magazine as one of Washington’s 50 Best Places to Work and once named by the Great Place to Work Institute as one of the top 25 Best Small Companies to work for in America.

Tip #5: Increase spending on sales and marketing.
As companies across the nation look through their financials for every possible place to save, it becomes tempting to trim on sales and marketing costs. This is a fundamental mistake. In fact, we are increasing our investment in marketing and sales initiatives by nearly 25% over the next 15 months. Now is the time to put more attention and resources into innovative and creative marketing and sales techniques. Stretch yourself and be bold in exploring new ways to reach your audience.

Tip #6: Meaningfully engage your employees.
Employees are the lifeblood of every company, and more often than not they have the ideas and solutions within them - if you just ask. Spend more time with your employees, talk with them about themselves and the business, and use this difficult time to reinvigorate your company culture with back to basics recognition and rewards.

Tip #7: Frequently and meaningfully interact with your customers.
By listening to your customers more often during times of insecurity, you can truly understand their fears and motivations. Equally important, you can often imagine new opportunities that help both of you to weather the storm.

Tip #8: Don't cut costs - spend more wisely.
Companies used to focus on cost containment. Instead you should focus on spend management. It is one of the most critical undertakings in times of insecurity. Engaging qualified and tested experts in spend management - while a big investment - can often reap both long and short term rewards. In the short term, they can help you identify ways to spend dollars more effectively on your priorities, but in the long term they help reengineer systems and processes that make you more efficient, nimble and agile in your execution. While this may seem counterintuitive, the rewards can be hugely beneficial.


DMA Dr. Ramesh Ratan
EVP & Chief Operating Officer
Direct Marketing Association, Inc.


The Direct Marketing Association is the leading global trade association of business and nonprofit organizations using and supporting multichannel direct marketing tools and techniques.

Tip #9: Stay positive.
Stay positive and calm and help those around you do the same: Notwithstanding external reports and measures, most tough times are related to attitude, morale, perceptions and psychological factors as opposed to reality. Work to project that calm and positive attitude to your staff, partners, suppliers and most importantly your customers. Be thoughtful about what you cannot control and what you can beginning with you own attitude and outlook and you will already have begun to survive and thrive.

Tip #10: Focus on successes.
Focus on, encourage and nurture successes, no matter how small. Positive results feed other positive results.

Tip #11: Nurture your relationships.
Nurture your relationships: bosses, employees, suppliers, customers and prospects - make an effort to reach out and provide any positive support they need from you. Be charitable especially in hard times. In hard times givers do better than takers.

Tip #12: Join the DMA.
Join the DMA if you are not a member. If you are already, then celebrate with the knowledge that you are part of a community that knows the secrets of where all marketing is going, especially in tough times.
Information Request

DMA Tony Grass
e-Market Intelligence, Inc.


e-Market Intelligence, Inc. is an SEO and SEM hands-on consultancy and service that specializes in significantly improving the quality and quantity of leads and sales resulting from effective search practices. Clients include: Amie Street, J&J, Fujitsu, Greenwich Publishing Group, J.H. Cohen, Metropolitan Business Systems – NY, Valiant Solutions, Weitz & Luxenberg, Wickers Performance Underwear.

Tip #13: Reconsider your web site as a direct source of qualified leads and sales conversions.
Companies typically structure their web sites as passive marketing – electronic brochures or e-catalogs that service customers who know of you and happen to come in. The result is low conversions (+/- 1%). We are seeing 90% new customers and 5% to 10% conversions or responses by targeting customers who are already interested, pulling them in by what they want, and featuring it to them. The key is to understand that the keywords people use are the Voice Of The Customer, telling you what they are already interested in and need, and what to feature to them. A Customer Keyword Analysis will tell you how many customers are searching now for each product, service and solution you offer, and enable to choose the customers with the highest margins, salability and lifetime value.

Tip #14: Targeting your web site by customers’ needs will organize it into markets.

Some customers want to find products and services by following a list, others want to find solutions by market needs – give it to them both ways. Some want to find ‘moisture wicking underwear’ as Men’s, Women’s & Kid’s – others are looking for ‘moisture wicking underwear’ for Sports, Occupation, or Sleepwear. Some companies may want to find ‘hydraulic pumps’ in a product list, others are looking for ‘hydraulic pump’ solutions for food processing, pharmaceutical manufacture or auto repair. Listing also by market need lets you be a solution to each customer’s problem, building valued relationships and add-on sales.

Tip #15: Using the ‘F’ Pattern.
Customers respond best if they see ‘their’ keywords as soon as they enter your web site. Customers search pages visually in an ‘F’ Pattern. First they scan the headers and text vertically to find their keywords, then they read horizontally for more information when they find them. Make sure you are using your customers’ keywords prominently on the pages they want to see, with crisp drill-down information that helps them, and a way to reach your experts for more information.

Tip #16: Continually track, measure and improve.
Install Google Analytics to track how your visitors are using your website vs. the keywords they are using to find you. Google Analytics’ reports are free by signing up on and having your webmaster install the code on each page. Warning – Google Analytics cannot tell you the customers you are missing by not being optimized for the right keywords.

Click here for additional customer relationship management solutions case studies.

We wish you the best of luck in using the Voice-of-Customer-driven 3-Step Marketing Process to achieve double-digit response.

    To read previous newsletters, click here.

    To unsubscribe from this newsletter at anytime, click here.

    For additional case studies, click here.



Click here for additional customer relationship management solutions case studies.

We wish you the best of luck in using the Voice-of-Customer-driven 3-Step Marketing Process to achieve double-digit response.

    To read previous newsletters, click here.
    For additional case studies, click here.

Ernan Roman Direct Marketing | 3 Melrose Lane | Douglas Manor, NY 11363 | Phone: 718.225.4151 | Fax: 718.225.4889
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