The Year of Responsive Web Design

The major shift in the consumption habits of audiences in online media has forced business to deliver consumers what they want, when they want, and how they want.  Specifically, mobile phones and tablets have become the preferred access point to online media.  However, your website seems to be ignoring that fact and you’ll die a slow death if you keep looking the other way.

A change in your website’s construction is needed to make this experience possible.  This is a cultural shift and not merely ‘the next cool thing’.  Ignore this and you’re the problem with online conversions for your company.  You don’t want to be that.

Responsive web design (RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).

CarrKnowledge_ResponsiveDesign

Think about the above sentence and what that would mean to a consumer of your website.  Are they having the ‘optimum’ experience?  If you’ve never experienced this optimum experience before, click on Carr Knowledge Interactive Marketing, and you’ll understand why Mashable called 2013 http://mashable.com/2012/12/11/responsive-web-design/  “The Year of Responsive Web Design”.

“Responsive Web Design forces prioritized communication.  As the screen gets smaller, the design goes more minimal, making superfluous elements disappear.” said Carr Knowledge Interactive Marketing President & CEO Rich Carr. “It cuts clutter without cutting design.”

The digital age is here to stay, and we must adapt in order to compete. The growth of smart-phones, tablets(let’s be honest, iPad), and netbooks is increasing every year. While moving into the so called “post-PC era,” the job of a modern web designer is getting tad more difficult. Currently, Responsive Website Design is the talk of the neighborhood and agencies like Carr Knowledge and others are leading the way.

Companies like Starbucks & Grey Goose, the famous food site Food Sense, others who understand this experience are flocking to responsive design because it streamlines website content delivery, so that only the most important information is served to the end user. In conjunction with adaptive screen resolution, the mobile browsing experience is greatly improved.

“Since the last quarter of 2012 everything we deliver online is responsive in design.” added Carr.  “In addition to the user experience, our client SEO results surged as search engines like Google & BING prefer responsive design.”

Rather than having to spider several versions of a website for Search Engine Optimization purposes, a website designed responsive serves up one version of the site…something Search Engines reward with higher rankings.  Google even blogged about it.  Google will still render web pages that are less responsive, but the answer is clear – Responsive design is the most powerful and future-forward way to capture customers on mobile.

Referring to marketing’s main task of ‘engaging the customer’, Carr said, “Exactly.  Mobile is in hyper-growth and acceptability, especially with emerging consumers and higher income demographics.  Why would any company not want their company to assure each visitor of the best possible experience regardless of their preferred online engagement?  As soon as the right person in that company recognizes that value, they call.”

As Carr mentioned, mobile access to all online properties is growing amazingly fast…about to pass PC access to the internet this year.  With ‘search’ and ‘experience’ this means the mobile optimized websites will have a place amongst the top rankings when the search is conducted from the mobile. So when a visitor clicks for your website on his mobile, then due to the web responsive design techniques implemented on the website, it will have the website easily accessible on mobile and content adjusts automatically to give an enhanced readability.

This way a business does not anymore have to miss out on its visitor. In addition to it a responsive web design, you can drastically decrease a website’s bounce rate.

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You’re In Your Own Way

It’s hard to imagine sometimes, but really, really smart people – just like you – get in your own way of progress.  Before you tell me to ‘pound salt’ know I consider myself really, really smart too.

We all do.  We all think we’re really, really smart at certain stuff.  For the rest of this article, every time I write ‘certain stuff’, you insert what you think you’re really, really smart at.  Be honest lest you’ll be really, really dumb for even pretending to relate to this article in any fashion.

Because you’re really, really smart at certain stuff, and not Marketing your own business, you decide to hire a company to assist with Marketing.  They review you, your business, get insight via your knowledge on certain stuff, the market, your competition, your budget, your opportunities.  They take all this information and develop a Marketing Plan that maps out the the immediate and short range future…what you’ll focus on, what message the public will absorb and interact with, sales goals, everything other than the certain stuff you’re so really, really smart with.

Excitement builds, business grows, people are talking about the Marketing of your certain stuff.  You are really, really smart.  After awhile, you’re so smart you start thinking that this Marketing is the certain stuff you’re really, really smart at.  You dabble in this and that, then start demanding this and that.  The more you do it, the more you start to see that those earlier climbs are not climbing.  You start to get frustrated.  You think to yourself, “This damn Marketing guy doesn’t know Jack!  I’m giving him all this direction and they’re not doing it right!”

Mr. Business Owner Guy?  You’re wrong.

You’re really, really smart at certain stuff.  You used to know that.  Now, because your decision to hire a company to assist you with the Marketing shows you’re really, really smart at certain stuff, stick to the certain stuff.  Let the Marketing fail WITHOUT your direction.  Your direction is what caused you to hire a Marketing company in the first place.

If the Marketing is failing, you should know that it is failing WITHOUT your interference.   Otherwise, you interfered with a Marketing Plan you agreed to when you were really acting really, really smart.  Your metrics, which should be part of your plan, are in black and white.  They’re data.  Data has no agenda.

Stay really, really smart at certain stuff.  I hope this assures you do.

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Starting With The End

As obvious as this seems, nothing should be started in Marketing unless you can clearly articulate the end.

Sales can easily be defined as ‘the transfer of emotion’.  However, as a Small Business owner, you have to remember that even though it’s ‘exciting’, ‘full of possibilities’, and ‘I get this neat shirt!’, you’re in a battle for the consumers mind every hour of every day on every device.  Each time you’re presented to a particular audience, you’re looking for their reaction to your message.  Don’t get caught up reacting that way when you’re being pitched  for products and services to your business.  It’s where accidents happen.

The accidents I speak of is falling short on the P&L, the Balance Sheet, the Payroll.  Things your family and employees ‘plan on’.  You should do the same and plan your Marketing and ONLY bond to those things that will help you get to that goal.  Or what we called the ‘end’ earlier.

Always start with the end in sight.

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Data Has No Agenda

I love that phrase.  Data Has No Agenda.  I utter it almost daily to assist clients past the sugar high the seem to carry with them for prolonged periods after getting a referral from a friend or associate on what to do with their marketing.  Before the advice, here’s what a survey of 1500 marketers says you should do with your marketing dollars:

You see, that’s data.  Data Has No Agenda.  It’s data that illuminates and is not meant to lean against…just knock the ‘buzz’ out of whoever told you the latest ‘trick’ in getting your site higher in search engine results/noticed/shared/like’d/etc.

Paid search, website management and design, and search engine optimization are the top three tactics to which organizations designate online marketing dollars.

Organizations devote one-quarter of their online marketing budgets to their websites. Even the best marketing efforts are for naught if the website is not optimized (in terms of performance and design) to communicate the “offer” and trigger a “response.”

Paid search also comprises 25% of the budget. Because SEO tactics often take time before having an impact on search rankings, many organizations use paid search to supplement SEO efforts.

Paid and organic search can work well together as a means for establishing authority on a search engine results page. Further segmenting the data, we found B2C organizations allocate more than half of online marketing dollars to PPC and SEO, which is more than their counterparts with primary business channels.

Focus on the following and you’ve got a great foundational start:

* Being there when they search for what you do…
* Having a place for them find out and do what they searched for…
* Reaching out to them personally…

Why do I over simplify?  To take names out of the equation because certain names like “SEO”, “Pay Per Click” and “The newest widget…” are the auditory cocaine of interactive marketing.  You know they’re good, or at least that’s what whozit told you over cocktails last night…and I’ll be damned if you’re now hell bent on dragging your company through your fantasy.

The only real way to lose weight is to eat right and exercise.  That’s a guarantee 99% of the time.

The only real way to be there when they’re looking for you is ‘to be there’…and that takes a combination of a SEO Strategy:

1) What words are they looking for
2) Where are they looking
3) When are they looking
4) Which items are they looking for the most
5) Which items have the highest return
6) What’s my budget over what period of time
7) And Lucky #7, What are your expectations/goals/measurements

And a website that not only has a role in your business far beyond ‘being there’, but expectations on performance however you define that.

If you need help on defining these things, call us.  We can help.

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The Carr Knowledge Closed Loop

If a customer has an issue with your business and there’s no way for that customer to tell you about it, is he heard?  No.  And you’ve lost business.  Let’s fix that today easily, effectively, measurably, and with little investment from you.  If you want this now, skip to the bottom of the page…

Half of businesses consulted discuss the need to build “closed-loop processes” that gather feedback, act on it, track it, trend it and repeat.  A great part of this is survey alerts, where feedback that indicates dissatisfaction is immediately escalated to service and support organizations, so that individuals can take action to directly improve satisfaction.  Frankly, it shouldn’t be a trend, because every organization that surveys customers should be doing this by now.    Need this service?  Call us.

The closed-loop feedback process starts with “choosing the metric or insight that you are trying to impact, understand and improve”.  When you measure a variable, you will pay more pay attention to it. “Think about the metric you are trying to change fundamentally and apply that as your trigger point for your closed-loop process.” said Rich Carr, President of Carr Knowledge Interactive Marketing & Advertising.

The closed loop is about resolution.  After visiting an Apple store for a transaction, you will be sent a survey. “If you complain, with an hour, a message goes to that Apple store. They are not treating this as research: this is something they look at every day.”  Carr Knowledge can have this operating for your business immediately.

If your business operates in several locations, “CK Loop” can help you measure where each location is best, worst, is losing you money, or is developing customer interactions that can help your company excel in the eyes of your customer.  Instantly!

The FOUR STEPS of the CK Loop:

  •         Collect customer feedback data.
  •         Make changes.
  •         Communicate feedback to customers and employees.
  •         Refine the changes.

CASE STUDY   

THE CLIENT:                    Max Muscle Sports Nutrition

THE CHALLENGE:   

Max Muscle Sports Nutrition wished to adjust ‘the Max Muscle Experience’ specifically to what their customers demanded.  With more than 150 locations across the United States and Puerto Rico, and no defined ‘experience’ for their franchisees, Max Muscle Sports Nutrition desired to both define the experience, measure it per customer, and discuss the results system-wide each week until the ‘experience’ was defined and adhered to.

WHAT WE DID:             We installed the “Tell Max Muscle” program into the company website, point of sale receipts, consumer marketing, and the Balanced Score Card of Max Muscle Sports Nutrition making ‘customer feedback’ a condition of doing business at Max Muscle Sports Nutrition that was regularly graded, discussed and acted upon.

RESULTS:                         Increased Sales System Wide.  Reduced Date Between Visits.  Higher Per Average Ring.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:      Consumers have key insight that, if acted upon immediately, result in not only satisfied customers but true social marketing spikes as customers Facebook or Tweet about their experience.  We added a ‘bounce back’ coupon after the completion of each survey and sales of those products has increased significantly.  The best takeaway come from the client direct:

“Throughout my long retail career I have observed several strategies that attempt to gauge the level of customer service in the stores in my area of responsibility.  I have used secret shoppers, have conducted on site exit interviews, telephone interviews to name a few.  The same dilemma faced me upon joining Max Muscle 5 years ago as VP Franchise Operations – how to see the level of customer service in a Max Muscle store without invading the customer’s privacy and without upsetting the Franchise Operator who often perceives the process as trying to catch them doing something wrong?

In 2010 Carr Knowledge introduced a Customer Survey that resolved most issues just described.  On Max Muscle customer register receipts customers were asked to access tellmaxmuscle.com and fill out a survey.  When they do they receive a bounce back coupon to revisit a Max Muscle location within 30 days to redeem plus the customer becomes eligible to win a monthly $250.00 raffle just for filling out the Survey.

At first I thought this was a brilliant strategy as it is cost effective and the customers do not perceive this request as an intrusion.  The truth is that it did resolve the purpose of seeing the In-Store Experience from the customer’s perspective on a range of questions culled by Max Muscle Management but it quickly proved to be much, much more.  The stores that encouraged their customers to access tellmaxmuscle.com found many were returning within 30 days.  Those that saw this benefit realized the Customer Survey was much more than just an evaluation of the customer service being supplied.  It became a marketing vehicle that is now being used to drive customer traffic into the stores.  Is that not the purpose of an effective marketing campaign?

Still, there was another huge benefit that was realized but not thought of when the Survey was created.  Included in the Survey was a question regarding the Max Muscle Sports Nutrition opportunity to become a Franchisee.  It has been my experience that a large percentage of people franchise as a result of liking the store/company/concept they are satisfied in shopping with and exploring that concept.  The tellmaxmuscle.com Customer Survey is now producing Franchise leads for our Development Team in greater numbers than any other current strategy!

I would recommend to anyone thinking about how to evaluate what’s going on in their stores to use the services of Carr Knowledge.  The Survey they manage for Max Muscle Sports Nutrition has exceeded our expectations.”

Mike Brower
VP Franchise Operations
To order The Carr Knowledge Closed Loop for your business, call Carr Knowledge Interactive Marketing & Advertising at 360-872-0032.

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Multi-Unit Operator Online Social Synergy

That’s a BIG title for a simple atmosphere that multi-unit operators can develop online with relative ease.  The effect of this approach online in terms of audience interaction, impressions, edge score and more is exponential to a traditional ‘one Facebook page’ approach.

First of all, lets look at the reasons WHY we approach Facebook differently for multi-unit operators a little bit different even though most retailers value Facebook in the same manner for inbound marketing:
Keep in mind, this is how “A” retail space looks at “A” social media tool.

When Max Muscle Sports Nutrition franchise stores across the country use Social Media, they don’t use a single corporate store to pitch a promotion, they use the same post – slightly altered for locality – for more than 150+ franchisee owned stores across the country!

Carr Knowledge develops and distributes a day-by-day Social Media content piece for every store to alter to their specific needs and post to their Facebook pages locally.  When 150+ locations are posting roughly the same thing, online measurement tools like www.SocialMention.com and others take notice!  Scores on all metrics have grown exponentially with this approach, and we recommend multi-unit operators across the country do the same thing.

Online one post can be strong.  That same post replicated 150+ times can be amazing!

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Social Segmentation Key For Brands Reaching Consumers

As the father of a teenage daughter, there are a few things that I know for sure: Teen girls love to shop, always have their phones (quickly becoming smart devices), and are all extremely active on Facebook. A few more things to consider: Facebook’s growth will only continue; the proliferation of smart-mobile devices will explode in the next few years; and teens will still gather and meet to shop. Yes, as in real brick-and-mortar stores.

That should make all brands who market to teen girls smile with possibilities. Marketers can marry these to reach and engage teens to drive purchases. But, increasingly, brands need the ability to segment their audience to deliver relevant content based on a consumer’s likes, interests, location and other factors. Social segmentation is a key to your brand’s social media success.

Hyper-targeting and localizing content to fans is finding much success. In fact, Facebook announced last week it’s starting to mine real-time conversations to target real-time ads. This is really brilliant as it plays towards the long-held promise of local to deliver timely, relevant and measurable ads that will drive sales. And Twitter is now letting some marketers segment by location, allowing a Twitter user in, say, England to see a different ad than a U.S. user.

This is a trend we are seeing across the industry — using the power of the social graph to hyper-target content to consumers, both in paid advertising and through the content your brand publishes on Facebook and other networks.
Consider this possible experience: My daughter, armed with her mobile phone, enters an American Eagle store. She checks-in via Facebook Places so now American Eagle can deliver her timely and relevant content, like a coupon or sales information on their new line of cool sweaters. The coupon pushes her to purchase. While checking out, American Eagle can deliver additional rewarding and engaging content — a thank you for her purchase. Maybe it’s another coupon?

Or, even better, 20% off if she buys a virtual gift card for a friend, perhaps to purchase one of those cool and hip new sweaters. So the virtual gift card, along with an image of that really cool sweater, shows up in that lucky friend’s newsfeed. Of course, all this is happening for her social network to see. And I’m certain that lucky friend who got the gift card will come to the store (or go online) to purchase something. And then the process repeats itself.

According to Facebook, the average user has 150 friends, and I’d argue that teens average slightly higher.And we know that peer recommendation accounts for 90% of purchases. That’s a powerful and influential social network. Social media has a tremendous local-connection capability. Brands just need have the tools and platform to target and segment their audiences so they can capitalize on it.

It is Marketing 101: Know your audience and what they want … and then deliver it to them at key times. Today, there are platforms like ours that allow brands to deliver locally relevant and timely content effectively and efficiently, as well as plenty of other social functionalities. It doesn’t have to be hard and complicated if you have the correct tools to manage your increasingly expanding and sophisticated social communities. And with Facebook’s growth, marketers are moving towards these comprehensive, turnkey platforms to harness social media’s full potential, especially the growing need to segment and target.

One of our clients, a global quick-serve restaurant, does a remarkable job of leveraging the full potential of social media. Its social presence is not only through its national voice on its official Facebook Page and Twitter accounts but also through locally relevant content delivered via its “Local” Tab. It allows the QSR to segment its 7.6 million Facebook users to deliver locally relevant content about events, coupons and specials. The iconic brand is enabling highly personalized, targeted and relevant social content that gets customers in the door and drives sales. That’s true social segmentation that gets incredible engagement and results — a real ROI.

Facebook holds a wealth of opportunity for brands to engage with their consumers based on location, interests, gender, history and even your circle of friend’s interests. And teenagers are the most active audience on Facebook. Think of the possibilities for your brand.

As social media continues its mainstream adoption, brands must start truly maximizing all its opportunities and functionalities. We believe further social segmentation, especially at the local level, will be a key to success. Social segmentation is a word your marketing staff should be actively promoting and using daily. Get to know it and put it into action.

MEDIAPOST Original BLOG

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Why The Hare Is Really The Winner

It slays me each day to speak with business owners about marketing, and to have them be absolutely 100% ignorant about things outside their four walls. Now before you get all huffy with my language, let me preface this by saying I’m ignorant about all kinds of things too.

The issue here is not listening to consumers. Consumers talk. In marketing we call that Buzz. If a business had the opportunity to control – No, DICTATE – that Buzz, should they? The ultimatum being to do nothing, have a wait and see attitude, or worse…doing it wrong to the point it hurts their image, their brand, what they are to the consumers.

For example, A new study by MarketTools revealed that 94% of companies do not yet use social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter to gather customer feedback, despite consumers’ growing engagement with these mediums. The study found that the most common ways companies gather customer feedback are email/online surveys (51%), formal phone surveys (28%), and informal phone calls (28%). Six out of 100 companies DON’T USE SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS? Isn’t that like the fourth sign of the Apocolypse or something?

The same study goes on to say there’s a disparity in the way companies think and the way they act in regards to customer satisfaction. Although 92% of respondents believe that satisfied customers are very important or extremely important to their company’s bottom line, only 42% solicit customer feedback on a continuous basis, and 22% solicit feedback only once a year or not at all.

Some additional highlights from the survey include:

* 39% of executives surveyed said that their companies increased focus on customer satisfaction in 2010 versus 2009, with 21% stating that they invested more in customer satisfaction-related products and services in 2010 versus 2009
* Despite the importance given to customer satisfaction, 14% of executives surveyed said their companies don’t solicit customer feedback at all
* 46% of the executives surveyed rate their company’s performance on customer satisfaction in the top 10% when compared to their peer companies, and 93% rate themselves in the top 50% of peer companies
* Still, 56% of all respondents said their companies do not have, or are not sure if their companies have, a formal voice of the customer (VOC) program
* Nearly one out of every four executives said that they seldom or never use customer feedback to change a business process

These are the same businesses who waited for email, websites, FM Radio, a Government handout. They complain the largest and do the least. If you can’t get your kids opposables off their mobile, perhaps you should think about being where they are and creatively bringing them around to where you are. Link to a vacation spot, a boarding school, or a picture to their room that’s messy with a message. Think they’ll read it? Sure they will.

Now, think of your customers the same way.

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Video Views Is Not A Numbers Game

There is no question that online video packs a powerful punch for marketers and lead developers. However, in reading industry blogs and related articles on and off line, it seems that most marketers seem to focus on the number of views a video receives and not necessarily the videos key target.

I look at almost every hyped-up mega-million video that makes it to network television the same way I look at that incredible stock offer I just got on the phone, or was advertised – as in paid for placement – the exact same way: It’s already over with, and the true value is recorded but gone. Be it the Golden Voice Homeless Guy or the Beard Man of San Francisco, big numbers are more of a “socially interesting” moniker than a “return on investment” element for business. Said another way, these videos are the equivalent of those gossip rags at the checkout line. Interesting, a good story, but did anybody sell anything other than themselves.

Ted Williams, the Golden Voice Homeless Guy, obviously struck gold with his voice, story, and more importantly, the story after the story. Beard Man has made thugs beware of older Vets. Does business have something to learn here? Not really…people are interested in cool people stories is all. Maybe that’s the lesson.

Cool people stories. Hmmmm…. Can business NOT MARKET themselves overtly and still score virally? Of course they can. Take for example Duke’s Chowderhouse. Arguably the best Chowder in the World, Duke’s also has one of the best Cheeseburgers money can buy. In fact, most anything on Duke’s menu is incredible. That WAS Duke’s dilemma until, together with his marketing team, Duke made cool people stories the foundation of his marketers and lead developers via Video. While the following videos did not make CBS News, they have spurred record business for the items ‘advertised’…and that’s what marketers are looking for.

Dukes Chowderhouse Cheeseburger: Duke\’s Chowderhouse Cheeseburger

Dukes Chowderhouse Chowder at COSTCO: Duke\’s Chowderhouse Chowder Now At COSTCO

The secret to a vigorous video? Cool people stories and product placement. Try it.

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Why All About The Leads?

“Sales can’t happen if there are no leads.”

Growing Your Business in the Digital Age today is more paradoxically different today than in any time in history.  Your business is not only struggling for lead development, you’re scared witless about it. You no longer take out an ad in the Yellow Pages (remember when a Full Page category leader position guaranteed leads…) and wait for the phone to ring.  A simple radio schedule is just simply expensive.  Newspaper and TV are still ‘there’, but fragmented, laden with discord and appealing primarily to the older demographics.  New business, future business, YOUR growth is looking for you…but not in an advertisement.

New media. New methods. New leads. It’s an exciting world of new possibilities for business. The vast majority of marketers and business explore this unfamiliar terrain without a compass – or strategy. Captivated by the hype and the ease of implementing social sites, most ignore proven marketing principles. They launched their social initiatives by creating blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts without a plan or purpose.

When They Find You, They Will Buy. The momentous change in the use of online and social medias for marketing purposes is taking place. Social Marketing is maturing to the point where the mainstream is now in transition from simply tinkering to initiating strategy. Researching the medium and monitoring target audiences to determine realistic objectives are now a part of this ‘online process’ and lead to tactical plans that produce tangible and profitable results for business of all sizes…from the local restaurant to the national multi-unit operator.

To fuel business with the tactics, strategies, and know how to ascend this steep learning curve, All About The Leads is the complimentary online edition of “All About The Leads” the book to be published in the Fourth Quarter of 2011.

Pulled from the postings of All About The Leads the Blog, expect a practical method of mapping Social Media Strategy, coherent process for achieving objectives that can be easily and routinely performed.

You’ll go behind the scenes of how a business like Duke’s Chowder House restaurants turn a simple sampling of product into an entirely new vertical of business by selling their award-winning chowder through COSTCO… Duke\’s Chowder House Chowder Now At COSTCO

You’ll see how to turn customers’ passion for a product into a ‘Gated Community‘ online where user-generated media not only sells more product, but have this same audience exponentially increase the business’ reach nationally by taking their excitement for the product to these same social media sites for you.

See how to ride a moment in time to generate nearly a Quarter Million new customers using a simple video that brings the application to your audience in a manner that spawns credibility, positioning, brand awareness, and leads.  Leads that turn to sales.  Sales that increased Max Muscle Sports Nutrition’s same store sales average in 2009 – the worst economy since the Great Depression – UP 36% On Average over 2008.

“All About The Leads” is for small to medium business and salespeople from literally any size organization interested in collecting the identities and contact information of people/business interested in their product or service. This is not a book about sales…this is a book of what leads to sales. Leads.

~Rich Carr

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