Should I publish my prices online?

It’s a question that I know a lot of people in business struggle with, especially if you offer a service. ‘Should I publish my prices and packages online?’

It’s actually quite a personal decision and you’re not alone in wondering if it’s the right thing to do or not. So, to help you make the right decision for your business, there are a few pros and cons to consider. Hopefully this will help you decide…

Pros of publishing your price list

  • It will cut down the number of emails you get asking you for a price. Therefore, those who do contact you are more likely to be more serious from using your services, or buying your products.
  • You might hear from people who are very excited to find out that you are within their price range, when they thought you would be way out of their reach, financially.
  • This is an important one – customers actually want to know your pricing. I know that in the past, when I’ve been looking to hire someone, I find it very frustrating if there are no prices on their website. Often, I’ll give up and find someone who does. So, transparency plays a huge part in publishing your price list.
  • It might help allay the fear of your inbox! I know the panic feeling when you get an email asking exactly what you charge. You suddenly start overthinking everything! ‘Am I charging too much?’, ‘Am I not charging enough?’ Having your price list on your website says you are sure of your rates and happy to share them.
  • Just as I may go elsewhere if there’s no price on a website I visit, so will other people. By having your prices visible, you may win out against your competitors.
  • When you do get an inquiry, they’ll be less ‘sales patter’ as they’ll already know your prices, so less likely to haggle and more about what you can do for them.
  • Having pricing will keep your bounce rates low and encourage potential customers to stay longer to browse.
  • It can improve your SEO too as words like ‘pricing’, ‘prices’, ‘costs’ are popular google search words.   
  • If you can’t give a set price for all your work, as I can’t with mine, you can simply publish a starting rate. It still gives potential customers a base rate to work from.
  • You may have a customer who, now he knows how much you charge, can save up until he can afford to hire you. This saves him the embarrassment of ringing to ask costs, then having to say he can’t afford it at the moment.   
  • Ultimately you’ll save time and energy!

Cons of publishing your price list

  • If someone comes across your website and they don’t like your prices, they will move on without ever having been in touch, meeting you or getting the chance to interact. It may be a lost opportunity, in that you may have been able to do them a deal.
  • Competitors can see your pricing and they may then choose to undercut your prices.
  • Your website will need to be updated on a regular basis with any new prices, or special offers. You could forget to put your prices up online, and then have to honour the lower price on your website.
  • Having a set price really leaves no room for negotiation and you could lose business because a client may have needed a smaller package than the one you have on offer.
  • Limiting your prices or packages can be hard to do if you are the kind of business that offers bespoke work or services. But there can always be a clause at the bottom of your list for Bespoke Services. You can have a statement that says you also do bespoke work or offer customizable services, and ask them to contact you for more details. This gives the best of both worlds!

My personal preference is to publish my price list on my website. But I do have a clause to say that I also do bespoke work and to contact me for more details. I just know that for me, looking on a website for a price and not finding one, is frustrating and will be sure to have me leaving the site.

Places like Amazon list prices, but someone who sells very high end cars may not. This will, no doubt, ensure that they attract only the target market that they’re after…one that doesn’t have to worry about money, so can easily afford one of their high end cars.

Conclusion

To be brutally honest, there is no real conclusion and only you know what is right for your business. If you sell physical products, I would definitely encourage you to include prices next to everything you sell. But if you’re a service based business, you might find it hard to create a standard price list. You need to look at your target audience and decide what will be best for them.   

Like I said, I have a price list…you might want to swing over and find out how I approached this issue as I provide a service, not physical products.

Please feel free to ask any questions or you can email me in private if you prefer, at cindymobey@outlook.com  

How to promote your customer loyalty programme

In last week’s blog, I covered the pros and cons of having a customer loyalty programme. So, if you have decided that it is the way to go, how do you go about promoting it to your target audience? This week’s blog looks at the strategy for loyalty marketing and how you can get the best out of it for your small business.

What is loyalty marketing?

Loyalty marketing is about encouraging your customers to buy from you over and over again…it’s keeping them coming back for more.

It can apply to both existing, active customers and past customers, as well as new ones. Your strategy is to incentivise them to buy from you more frequently. The obvious example is a coffee shop. They give you a card, which you get stamped every time you buy a coffee. When your ten stamps have been completed, you get a free coffee. Everyone loves a freebie, even if they have to work for it.

Why is loyalty marketing so important?

We all like to feel that we’re appreciated…I know that I do. It’s even nicer if the business you buy from shows their appreciation by giving you something in return. You are being rewarded for your loyalty, which feels great.

The first step to achieving this is to make your customers feel valued and acknowledge them for their continued support. However, this isn’t easy; customers are not tied to you or your business and can jump ship for another brand at the drop of a hat. Another brand may be more accessible, may be a local business or friend. Sometimes customers just feel like a change and want to try something new. But there are some marketing strategies that can help you keep your customers for as long as possible.

Make it simple  

Keep your customer loyalty programme as simple as possible. You could add a sign up at your website checkout and give an immediate benefit of some kind. It could be a small discount off their next purchase.

Also make sure that it doesn’t matter what your customer spends, they can still join the loyalty programme. So, whether they spend big bucks or small change, they are all treated equally.

Add value 

Take your time to decide what customer rewards you want to give. You still need to think about your profit margins, so don’t go mad! You might go with ‘buy one, get one free’ on certain items, or a straight-forward 5% off their next purchase. Or, like the coffee house example I gave earlier, your customers have a physical card that they get stamped every time they buy an item. Then they get one free after the tenth item is bought. Obviously the coffee shop idea wouldn’t be appropriate for most businesses – only those who sell something fairly cheap in the first place…coffee is ideal, so this idea is great for cafes and restaurants, juice bars and sandwich shops.   

Give new members a gift

When someone joins the loyalty programme, give them a small gift as a welcome. This will reinforce the value of the programme, and hopefully they will pass this on to their friends and family.

Give an incentive to introduce a friend

If a customer refers a friend, who goes on to buy from you, you could give them an incentive gift.

Personalise the programme

If you are sending out details of the programme, use the customer’s first name and thank them for being a loyal customer. Personalising the email, phone call, or however you choose to do it, makes your customer feel special and it also makes your email feel bespoke if it has their name on it.

Remember your customers’ birthdays and send them an e-card or an email to wish them a good day.

Don’t forget to say ‘thank you’ to customers for their continued support.  

Let your customers know that you listen 

There is nothing more frustrating, as a consumer, than sending off an email, or sending a message on social media, and your comments are ignored. So don’t do this! Make sure you reply to everything in a positive and friendly manner.

Get customer feedback

This goes hand in hand with listening. Providing your customers with a way to leave feedback is imperative to finding out why they stay loyal to your brand and also, why they leave to go elsewhere. Make sure there is somewhere on your social media sites for them to leave feedback and also on your website.

Listening to what your customers have to say can be a very positive experience, but inevitably you will also get some negative comments. However, so long as you answer them straight away, you can often turn that around. Sometimes feedback will give you new ideas, or ideas on how you can improve your current products or services.

Most customers tend to only leave feedback if there is a problem, so it’s about encouraging them to leave it when they’re happy! If you do get a negative review, don’t try and hide it or delete it – work on the problem with your customer and hopefully they will leave another one stating how you solved their problem.

Feedback can be obtained via a customer satisfaction survey. With this, you are in control of the questions, and it is a straight forward and easy way to gain opinions on your products and services…and the overall customer experience they receive with your brand. If you do opt for this, keep it short and sweet – they won’t want to take more than a couple of minutes to complete it, so just ask a few questions and if possible, opt for multiple choice answers as that makes it even easier.

You could offer an incentive to complete your survey or to leave a review. The most important thing to think about is the timing of your survey or the asking for a review. You need to give your customer time to use your product or service. So just be aware of that.

Promote at every opportunity

This means at every single customer touch point.

  • Website
  • Phone calls
  • Text message
  • At the till if you have physical premises
  • When you send out an order, put details in the order with the invoice
  • Blog about it
  • Put your programme on your social media sites – ask your followers to share your post
  • Tell customers about it in email or newsletter
  • Promote it in adverts about your business
  • Consider a paid ad on Social Media
  • Mention it in podcasts and videos
  • Maybe have a partnership with another business that compliments yours and share the running costs

Talk about your customer loyalty programme to anyone and everyone who will listen.  

Conclusion

Always remember that customer loyalty goes way beyond giving out a loyalty programme or rewards…or even engagement with them on social media.

It’s about you letting your customers know that you really value their custom, and appreciate the support they give to your business.

Finally, make sure that you use the same images and tone of voice in all interactions about your customer loyalty programme, so your particular, branded programme stands out and is easily recognisable.

Customer Loyalty programme – good or bad?

What is a customer loyalty programme?

Customer loyalty is where your existing customers return to you time and time again with repeat business. It’s usually because they love your brand, love your products/services and are really happy with the experiences they’ve had with your business.

Over the last several years, we’ve seen more and more companies using customer loyalty schemes or programmes to reward their existing customers, and to encourage them to keep coming back for more. A good example is that of coffee shops. They give you a card and every time you buy a coffee you get your card stamped. When you have 10 stamps on your card, you get a free coffee. Some programmes give you cash-back or use a points system, but they are all basically the same, with the same reasons for using one.

Why use a customer loyalty programme?

They are great for small businesses because they give your customers an incentive to give you repeat custom. Some loyalty programmes reward customers for introducing a friend (and they get a reward if that friend becomes a customer).

These programmes also increase your brand awareness and can help generate a positive return on investment. But, as with any scheme or programme, there are the downsides as well as the upsides. I thought I’d take a look at the pros and cons, so you can be in a better place to decide whether a customer loyalty programme might be good for your business.

The Pros

Customer Retention

According to the advisory firm, Bain & Co, increasing customer retention by just 5% can boost your profits by 25%-95%, so looking after your existing customers is vital for the good health of your business and profits.

Customer loyalty programmes also have the benefit of making your customers feel like their custom is valued and they feel appreciated. This, in turn, makes them want to carry on doing business with you. And it makes financial sense to introduce such a programme as, according to Inc.com, existing customers spend 67% more than new customers. So, the benefits to both the customer and your business is potentially huge to boost customer retention and give them an incentive to buy more.  

Direct communication with your customers

Your customer loyalty programme means that you have access to a direct line of communication with your customers. This makes things a lot easier to build your brand awareness and increase that loyalty by providing them with regular and relevant information. You can collect their email address as part of your loyalty programme and can share news about new products or services, events, any promotions you might be running, as well as any updates to the loyalty programme.

Customers who feel valued and ‘in the know’ about a business they buy from, will not only keep returning to you, but they will tell their friends and family, which could give you new connections and customers.

Data on customer trends

Having the contact details, such as email, of your customers, and the records you keep of sales from each of those customers gives you valuable data. Customer data gives you an overview of your customers’ buying behaviour. You know what their preferences are, you know their buying habits, such as when they are more likely to buy something. This not only helps you with knowing what works and what doesn’t, if you sell products it can help with your stock and knowing what to stock more of. It also helps you with your advertising and promotions planning and helps your marketing, as you can measure the results of special promotions, new products etc.  

It can also help you to segment your customers and find out which ones are profitable and which ones aren’t. This can help you decide which customers to target with new products or new promotions, as you can target the ones that are more likely to buy from you.

Brand differentiation

Loyalty programmes help your brand and can help distinguish you from your competitors. As a customer myself, I know that I am bombarded on a daily basis with an overwhelming number of choices for a particular product or service. The minute you type anything into a Google search, it seems to be picked up by your social media pages and you get loads of adverts about the product you’re looking for – you also suddenly get a barrage of spam emails about the same. I don’t know about you, but I find this extremely irritating! I’d rather stick with a brand that I know and trust.

A loyalty programme can help your customers choose you over the competition and the fact that you offer an incentive to be a loyal customer, this differentiates your brand against the other businesses with a similar brand to yours.

It can also help you in slow seasons, when business is not going very well. Take an airline for example, in the summer they sell loads of plane tickets as people jet off for some summer sun. But in Autumn and Winter, business can be a bit slower. So, they do special low prices on airline tickets to incentivise customers to get away in the slower seasons, at a much reduced price. This keeps the airline ticking over.  

The Cons   

All loyalty programmes look the same

Loyalty programmes are not a new concept and many businesses have the same kind of incentive scheme running. They have similar purchase requirements and benefits for the customers. With the abundance of loyalty programmes around, customers could feel overwhelmed by the choice, and this can make it harder for businesses to generate excitement for their programme. So you need to create something unique and that stands out from the others…this is not easy.

Loyalty costs money

Creating a customer loyalty programme does cost money. Any discount you give is going to affect your profits. Even a small discount can seriously impact your profits. For example, say you give a 5% loyalty discount. A product that costs £50… is £40 in costs and £10 in profit. If your customer buys that product for £50 with their 5% discount, they will pay £45. So, from your business point of view, you still have to pay your £40 costs, so your profit will be £5 – this is a 50% decrease on what you normally earn. You could help this by putting a timeframe on the discount – 5% off for the next month. The losses you suffer could be lessened by the increase in business from that customer.

Your loyalty programme has to be worth the time, money and effort you put into it. If it is proving to produce more repeat business, it could still be worthwhile financially, especially if you’re selling more to a loyalty programme member than normal. It’s just something to be aware of.    

Is the behaviour you witness actual loyalty?  

It’s hard to tell if your customers are loyal to you and your brand, or whether they just buy from you out of habit or because you’re closer than anyone else who does the same. We often look at a frequent customer and think they are loyal, but loyalty is an emotion which can’t really be measured. So how do you get around this?

This is where you can use marketing tactics to find out just who is loyal. You could reward customers for referring family and friends, or for writing a good review. This will show who is actually willing to stand up and vouch for your brand, stating the reasons as to why they like it.  

Another way to keep that loyalty to your brand is to include customers in your advertising – what better way to advertise your product, than to use a photo of a real customer using your product, or talking about the excellent service you give.

Data does have its limitations

As well as being a good thing, data does also have its limitations. For one thing, it doesn’t give the full picture of your customers’ overall purchase behaviour, as it can’t know what they’ve bought from other brands or shops. You also can’t tell from data if a customer is buying from you just because it’s at the right price and others may give repeat business just so they get the benefits of a loyalty programme.

You could survey your customers to find out more about their loyalty, but some will be reluctant to provide information about where and what they buy elsewhere. They might even feel offended by it.

Conclusion

There are clearly huge benefits to having a customer loyalty programme, but it’s important to be aware of the downside too. And not all programmes are successful, as the marketing and implementation is crucial to their success. However, they can help you generate more business and be rewarding for your customers.

Look out for next week’s blog, when I talk about how to promote your customer loyalty programme.

In the meantime, would you consider running a loyalty programme for your small business? Maybe you do already. I’d love to hear your thoughts on all aspects. Please comment in the comment box below.

Thank you for reading!   

Discover my 7 Cs of marketing

In a previous article I’ve talked about the 7 Ps of marketing, which are a set of key principles that are at the heart of all marketing strategies. They are often referred to as the ‘Marketing Mix’.

Today’s article is about the 7 Cs of marketing and why you need to get your business online. These Cs are the ones that I think are important. Others may prefer other Cs!    

Credibility

Millions, yes millions, of people from all over the world go straight to the internet first when they want to buy something. Be it products or services, we all check out the internet for advice and information.

If your business, small or large, is online, then you are more likely to be found for what you do or what you sell. Potential customers can see your reviews, can look at your pricing and products, find out a bit about you etc. etc. And this gives your business more credibility.

Having a website is the obvious choice as you can explain everything you do all in one place. You can show your products or talk about the services you offer in detail. People can see who you are and what experience you have; you can list your qualifications and experience and more importantly, your website shows you are human. Your website will have contact details, so you can be reached and your potential customers can therefore get in touch if they want or need to.  

Customer

The customer! Ah, yes, now this is what everything in your business hangs on. No customers? No business.

This is why your business marketing strategy is so very important, (and why I bang on about it a lot with my customers)!

Your marketing strategy helps you find your ideal customer or your target audience. You discover where they hang out, what they’re interested in, how you can pull them in. Your strategy is about getting into the head of your customer and you can only do this by getting to know them.

Any content you put out needs to speak to your customers, be engaging, entertaining or educational. Once you’ve posted content, on whatever social media site you choose, or online, ensure you reply to every comment. Reply to those comments with a question and get a conversation going. And post consistently. You won’t hold your audience’s attention if you are posting once a month, but every day or every couple of days will keep their attention.

Doing your target audience research will let you know which social media sites they use, so you can target that site. Make sure your business is listed in ‘Google my business’, so you can be found locally. And there are loads of free, online business directories out there that you can be part of. Anything that helps your business be found online.

Consistency

I’ve already mentioned this, but consistency really is a key factor in marketing. You don’t just show up once, or just when you feel like it. You need to be showing up, delivering valuable content and products to your customers day in, day out.

If you have a website, which I highly recommend, start a blog and show your audience that you are an expert in your field. Share your blog to social media sites. Show up every day on social media and give something that is engaging, entertaining or educational. Make your audience laugh, teach them something new or point out something that they didn’t know.

Give your customers confidence in your ability to engage with them. They will see you as the ‘go to’ person and in time, this will convert to loyal customers. Consistency is what keeps your customers attention…it takes a long time to build up a customer base. And minutes to lose it. If you are not delivering, your customers will go elsewhere.   

Creativity

For me, creativity is about being original. Not about being the same as everyone else. For this reason, rather than use everyone else’s 7 Cs of marketing, or the industry standard, I’ve gone with what I feel is important. When I am helping small businesses with their marketing strategies, these are the things I concentrate on.

Creativity is HUGE! We are all constantly exposed to all sorts of advertising and, if you’re in marketing, you have to find new, creative, innovative ways to target your audience and get their attention. Creativity gets your brand noticed and makes your messages more memorable.

A lot of people out there buy things using their emotions, not for practical reasons. Being creative with your messaging enables you to communicate the emotional reasons for buying from you.

Every touchpoint you have with your customers is an opportunity to be creative and help your customers experience your brand in a positive and unique way.

Community/Communications  

I’m going to cheat here and do a ‘2 for 1’ offering! In my opinion, these two go together. Marketing is about communicating great messages to your target audience that reflect your brand, engage them and eventually convert them to customers. By regularly posting on social media, you will build up a community of people who follow you, who like your posts and engage by making comments, or asking questions.

You can set up your own social media groups, so customers can sign up for more in-depth information from you, or maybe coaching in a particular subject. They have to be a member to get access to this information – you may have a few freebie checklists, or helpful hints, or maybe even an e-book that they will get if they sign up. Building this kind of community really helps establish you as an expert and you gain the trust and respect of those who sign up. You’ll be recommended by them and so will grow your audience and also your customer base.

I haven’t mentioned communications specifically, but it runs through everything I’ve just talked about. Digital marketing, or online marketing, is without doubt, the most effective way to communicate with your target audience. You can talk to millions of people from all over the world.

Communication is at the heart of every business, big or small. Regularly communicating with them allows your customers to ask questions; it makes them care about your business; be loyal and recommend you to their friends and families. Most important of all, communicating shows you care, shows that your customers are valuable to you, that they matter and that you value their opinions.  

If you have a website, set up a monthly newsletter and ask your customers/potential customers to sign up. They will then hear from you every month. You can use that newsletter to talk about new trends, new ideas, ask questions, teach them something, share your blogs, share new products and show them your human side by sharing what you’ve been up to away from work. The list is endless, but it will be engaging, entertaining and educational which is what marketing is all about.    

Customer Service

I can’t stress enough how important good customer service is. Whether you’re looking for new customers or making sure you keep the ones you have, it’s important to make them all feel valued and wanted.

When you have been in business for a while, you will start to recognise the problems that your customers face. If you can answer those questions and solve those problems, they will become loyal customers who will recommend you to their family and friends. If you have a list of common questions that you know your customers need an answer to, put an FAQ section on your website and point to it from your social media pages.

Monitor your social media pages and email – if your customers ask a question, make sure it is answered promptly. You might be trawling a group chat or forum and see a question that you know the answer to – don’t hang around, answer it straight away. Show you are an expert.

You can also give your customers incentives to keep their interest and reward them for being good customers. You can offer freebies or special deals if they join your mailing list…or membership to a closed, member’s only Facebook group.

And, most importantly, say ‘THANK YOU’ to your customers. Make them feel valued, that you care and that you appreciate their custom.

Conversion

There are lots more Cs I could use, but this has to be my seventh…Conversion. It’s the reason we do all the marketing, spend hours on blogs and engaging content. We are trying to get new customers…that doesn’t mean this is the be all and end all, but it is necessary to pay your mortgage and bills!

Knowing your audience and what they want…what their pain points are, will all help you to convert your audience into paying customers. The first thing to do is to make sure you keep track of your customers and potential customers. If you have subscribers to your email, they will all be at different stages in the marketing funnel. Some will be at the bottom, just starting to engage with your business, taking an interest in your content, products or services, but not yet ready to buy. These still needs lots of nurturing by producing that all important engagement, entertainment and education that I keep banging on about!

Next up are the ‘Market Qualifying Leads’ (MQL). They might have come to your email via a free download, (checklist, workbook etc.). And they might have signed up to your newsletter to find out more about you and your business and what you have to offer. They will respond well to receiving more information, but not necessarily to the hard sell. They won’t want to feel any pressure to buy, nor will they want to be bombarded with sales emails. That will just put them off and they will unsubscribe and you’ll have lost them.

The next group are ‘Sales Qualified Leads’ (SQL). This group may have been subscribers to your email for a while, downloaded several freebies, and maybe taken part in some free training. They will be engaged with your online content, following you on social media – and maybe a member of your social media private group. They will be familiar with your business, know how you work and what you stand for. There will already be some trust and respect for what you do. They might start asking specific questions which qualify a meeting. They’ll already know that you can solve their problems, and that you know their pain points, and will now be ready to move on to get the solutions for themselves. They might be open to coaching, or paying for a course, buying an eBook, or buying your products or services.      

  • Always make sure you follow up on new contacts, engage with them as much as possible.
  • Ask questions, show an interest in them and be genuine!
  • Always listen to your customers. You may hear something that you hadn’t thought of – another way that your products or services can solve their problems. Or you might hear something that the customer doesn’t realise is a problem, so you can then educate them into recognising that problem – then offer the solution.
  • Whenever you put content out, make it easy for your potential customers to contact you. Add a Call to Action so they know what they need to do next.   
  • Include testimonials so you have proof that what you offer or do actually works and that you give value.

And…I am at the end of my list of 7 Cs of marketing. I hope you have found this useful. Please follow my blog for more articles to help you with your marketing.

You can also follow me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/cindyfreelancewriter and on Instagram http://www.instagram.com/cindymarketingconsultant     

Do you know how to market your content?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Content marketing isn’t anything new, but it is a term bandied about a lot in marketing circles. Those who have always got involved in the traditional kind of marketing would argue that they use content to advertise. But this is the crux of the matter and where the differences lie.

Traditional marketing vs Content marketing

Larger businesses will typically use traditional marketing as it is the kind of content that is pushed into the view of the public. For example, TV commercials, radio ads, print ads, brochures etc. You will see traditional marketing everywhere; on billboards, sides of buses, the ad breaks in the cinema, but they are all high end marketing which require a big budget to reach that large audience.

For the small business, content marketing is the way to go; it involves having a content marketing strategy, which comprises of all types of content being created and then published online in multiple locations. Instead of forcing your content on the public, your content will sit online forever, with the end goal of attracting your ideal audience or customer.

Content marketing is also different in that it doesn’t concentrate on just advertising your products or services, it’s about drawing your audience in by providing useful information that is helpful and solves problems. Your readers can follow you on social media to read more of your content, or follow your blog, in order to find out more. This helps you gain a loyal audience who trust you…and ultimately, will sign up to your email list in return for some kind of offer…be that a newsletter or a freebie checklist or e-book.      

What kind of content can I share online?

When your audience find your content useful, their connection to you and your brand is strengthened. They will share your content, so that your audience widens further. So, what kind of content can you share?

  • Your website copy (this is everything you write about on your business website)
  • Your Blog
  • Social Media posts (status updates, tweets etc.)
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics
  • E-books
  • Printables
  • Guest posts on other websites 

To make your content work, it needs to be optimised for your target audience and it needs to be relevant to the niche you are in.

How do you market your valuable content?

Now you have your content online, what do you need to do to market it?

Website

If you have a website for your business, you can add a blog to it, so you are creating content that people will see when they visit your website.

Email

Do you have a ‘subscribe to email’ button on your website? If not, do it! When you have subscribers, you can send them a monthly email as a newsletter. You can include:

  • Links to any blogs you’ve written
  • Details of new products or services
  • Special offers
  • Send links to videos you’ve produced on YouTube
  • Links to any podcasts your record
  • Links to any articles, news or videos you think they might be interested in (not ones that you’ve done)
  • Generally talk about new trends in the marketplace, a little bit about you and what you’ve been up to, ask questions make them feel like part of an exclusive ‘club’. 
  • You can also enable buttons so that your audience can follow you on your social media channels

Social Media

Share your content to all your social media pages. You will have different audiences on Facebook to those you have on LinkedIn for example, and again different to those you connect to on Instagram.

  • You can schedule your posts, so you’re not constantly on social media (and therefore getting distracted by other things!).  
  • Share the link to your blog in your profiles on social media.
  • Ask questions linked to your content and respond to anyone who makes a comment. In fact, respond to any comment you get and thank people through messenger or private DM for following you.
  • Share you blog posts as soon as you publish them. The more immediate responses, likes and shares you get, the more credibility your post gets.
  • Share your blog posts more than once…share again the next day, with a different caption and image. And again a week later. This way, you will pick up people you have missed, or who didn’t see your original post.
  • If you notice that an old blog post went well and got lots of engagement, then share that again…not all of your posts, just the ones that had great stats.
  • Posts with images get better engagement, so really think about the images you use to entice your audience in. There are lots of free image sites out there (such as Pixabay, Pexel, Unsplash and Canva) that you can download licensed images for commercial use. DON’T just google images and use one as you could be fined for copyright.
  • Join groups on social media and participate in group discussions, giving advice, answering questions etc. This helps get your name known and helps you get seen as an expert in your niche. They also have ‘share your blog post/business page’ type events, which help get your content in front of a different audience.
  • Use hashtags, which categorise your content for your audience.
  • You can also pay to boost your reach on social media.
  • Write a guest post for someone else’s website or blog – you then tap into their audience.
  • Make sure your blog/website has social media sharing buttons, so your audience can click to go look at your social media sites.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Choosing the right keywords will help your content get seen.

  • Google’s keyword planner will help you pick the right keywords and help you brainstorm ideas.
    Log into the Google Ads platform with your account, then choose ‘Tools and Settings’, ‘Schedule’ and then ‘Keyword Scheduler Tool’.
  • Write a long, compelling blog post and use your keyword(s) and variations of it throughout the blog.
  • Optimise your whole post for the keyword you decide on. Include your keyword in…
    – your title
    – your Meta description
    – your main headline (H1)
    – use the keyword frequently throughout your blog post, without stuffing it anywhere – it has to make sense! And you don’t want Google to think you are being spammy!
    – Use related keywords in subheadings and in the first 100 words of your main body of text.
    – use your keyword in your URL slug
    – use keyword and related keywords in your tags and categories

Link building

Internal links: A good way to get your content noticed is to build internal links into your blog post. This simply means that you link to previous posts you’ve written. For example, in this article, you will see highlighted phrases or words – these are links to articles I’ve written about that subject before, so my audience can take a look at those.  

Revisit your older blogs from time to time and add internal links to newer blogs that you’ve written.

External links: where other people link to your blog post.

  • If you send out a newsletter email, ask your customers to share a link to your blog posts.
  • When you publish your blog on social media pages, ask your audience to share.
  • If you publish entertaining or educating blogs that capture your audience’s attention, they are more likely to share.

Headlines

A headline really matters – the ones that seem to get the most traffic are lists, how to, or a question. Also, headlines that contain numbers, e.g. 101 ways to …….

Emotional headlines also seem to hit the mark too, as well as a bit controversial headlines!

Images

Using great images can help market your content. Images don’t just have to be photos; it can be GIFs, infographics, graphics or video. These help capture and keep the attention of your audience.

If you have a Pinterest account, make sure your images can be pinned (shared) by other Pinterest users.

If appropriate, also put a caption on any image as this helps with search engines – images alone won’t necessarily be picked up by search engines, but if there is text, they will be.

Revisit and repurpose your content

Revisit your old posts and content regularly. Revisiting content means you can update it with new information, add new images/infographics and maybe add a short video you’ve made on the subject.

You can also repurpose posts into e-books, video or a podcast. You can also use ideas from them to make social media posts.

Conclusion

I’ve shared loads of different ways to market your content. But the most important thing to keep in mind when marketing is to always have your customer/target audience at the heart of everything you do. Do it for them, aim it at them, and make sure it’s something you know that they will be interested in.

Keep your brand in mind and write in your own particular style – don’t try and copy anyone else. Keep your content original and engaging. Remember, content should always entertain, educate and engage your audience.

If you found this post valuable, please share on your social media site. And if you have any further ideas as to how to market content, please leave a note in the comments box.

Happy content writing and please get in touch if you need help with your content!

How to write creative, persuasive content

Do you dream of being able to write creative content that is persuasive and that inspires your readers? It’s all about structuring your content so that your article is appealing and irresistible!

There are four forms of content…

  1. Written
  2. Audio
  3. Video
  4. Images

No matter which medium you’re working on, it’s crucial that your content is valuable and useful to your reader…or they simply won’t read it and it won’t resonate with them. Your articles need to help solve a problem or improve their life in some way. This will also help set you up as an expert in your field.  

Create a content strategy

Your content strategy is your why, who and how. Why you are creating it, who is it aimed at and how are you going to get it out there. Businesses use content marketing to build an audience and to either increase their revenue, lower their costs or to get better customers. For me, it’s about engaging with my audience and, almost as a proof point to illustrate that I know what I’m talking about and am experienced in this field.

Publishing content is great, but it also needs to be published consistently. It needs to educate, entertain or inspire your audience. This way you can turn total strangers into followers and then those followers into customers. You do this by building relationships and solving problems.

Know your audience

Once you know what your strategy is, you need to build the content around your audience. What makes them tick? What problems do they have? What do they look like? If you know your audience well and know what they want, you can really deliver.

Now you’re ready to choose which form of content to use. Try and utilise a mixture as this will help keep your audience’s attention.

Written content

This is the most popular and most used way to communicate with your audience. There are lots of different ways to communicate using the written word…

  • Blogging – Blogging is about writing relevant, useful, informative and entertaining copy. A blog is a regular, consistent post. Your audience can follow your blog, and so get informed automatically every time you publish a new one. Anyone can start up a blog about absolutely any subject you can think of! There are cookery blogs, health and fitness, nutrition, fashion, travel, crafting…you name it, and I can guarantee it’s out there.

    A blog post can be as long or as short as you like – you will soon get to know what your audience likes. Use SEO (search engine optimisation) to get ranked higher in search engine results and use categories and tags to make your blog easier to find.   
  • Email – A direct way to communicate with your followers. If you have a ‘subscribe to email’ button on your website, you can regularly keep in touch with your customers and followers. Just be aware not to overdo it and bombard people with emails every day, or use them solely to sell or push your products/services, or you will find lots of ‘unsubscribes’.
  • Newsletters – These used to be hard copy, but most businesses send these out via email nowadays. It is, in effect, an email as in the last point, but this is specifically your newsletter. Again, don’t go mad with the frequency – once a month is great and also more manageable for you too. You can give news on what you’re doing in your business, any new products or services on the horizon or any freebies you might have created. Or, it might be just some interesting information you want to share, or hints and tips. And of course, you can use it to share links to your blog post.  

Audio

Podcasts are very popular and are growing in numbers every day. There are less podcasts out there, than there are blogs, so it is a good one to try for your business. Like blogs, they can be about absolutely anything…someone out there will be interested in what you have to say. It’s also a great way to reach your audience as they can listen to your podcast whilst driving to work, or working out. Your audience don’t necessarily have to set aside a certain amount of time to catch up with your latest message.

Video Marketing

This has been around for a long time now, but it is fast becoming the norm for all sorts of small businesses, as well as the larger corporates. You can ‘go live’ on social media, or record a short message to your customers/followers. It’s versatile, you can say what you like and most importantly, you will reach your audience more quickly. In a few seconds, you can convey a mood, a setting and your message can be received shortly and succinctly in less than a minute. There are lots of ways to use video in your marketing…

  • Live stream – in real time on social media accounts. As it’s recorded ‘live’, it will be a ‘warts and all’ recording, so you won’t be able to edit out any mistakes – but this does add to the excitement and appeal. People see you as you are!
  • Recorded stream – the same as the ‘live’ stream, but you’ve pre-recorded it before you put it out, so you can edit out anything you don’t like and add in anything that might have forgotten with the ‘live’ version.
  • Vlogging – the same as blogging, but using video. This can be longer that the ‘live’ or pre-recorded videos. Your audience love these as they feel they are getting to know you as a person – if you Vlog regularly, they will get used to seeing you and this helps build a relationship and trust.
  • Whiteboard videos – these are animated or sketched videos, so the subject matter and scenery is not real.

Images

Using images is also a great form of content marketing. They are usually on your website, on social media or within a blog. Images can be very powerful to help you convey a message and help you create more impact. They say that a picture paints a thousand words, and whilst this can be true, I tend to use them more to enhance my messaging.

The only downside is that search engines don’t necessarily recognise images, so a good tip is to make sure you add a caption to your images, wherever it is relevant. If using in a blog, use keywords to help the search engines find the images.    

AND SO, ONTO YOUR ACTUAL CONTENT

Writing your content

Here are a few tips to help you write your content to help make it more persuasive.

  • Write the headline first. Make sure it is compelling and sparks the curiosity of your reader to want to read on.
  • Write your subheadings next. This will help you plan your content and split it into readable chunks for your reader.
  • Add a few captions. Captions catch the readers’ eye, so add a few in for good measure!
  • Opening paragraph – this is what will draw the reader in and help them decide whether they want to, or can be bothered to, read the rest. People spend seconds scanning an article and, if the opening paragraph and headline doesn’t draw them in, you’ll have lost that reader.  
  • Closing paragraph – Depending on what you’re writing about, this is the end of your article/blog or whatever. Use it well; maybe reiterate the most important take-away from your article and have a CTA (call to action) so they know what to do next.  
  • Bullet points – these are easier to remember and, if someone is just scanning your article, these are likely to be read. So, make them stand out, make them full of good hints or tips and great advice. Make them totally fascinating!

Now we know what to include, let’s dig a bit deeper…

Why is a headline so important?

On average, only 20% of people read an article beyond the headline. If your headline doesn’t grab attention then of those 20%, even fewer people will read your content. So what can you do?

  • Give a benefit in your headline. Give your readers an incentive…’how to’ do something or a recipe. Use numbers…’20 ways to …..’
    Let them know that there is something in it for them.
  • Absolutely command attention. Not always easy, but remember you only have a few seconds to hook someone in. Use power words or positive words, such as ‘inspiration’, ‘revelation’ or even things like ‘is your business doomed because…..’
  • Be specific. Make your headline specific to the article – don’t use a generic headline. For example, if you were writing an article about Mental Health, just having the title ‘Mental Health’ isn’t very inspiring and won’t necessarily pull in your audience, but if you have ‘Mental Health – what does this mean?’ or ‘Mental Health – 10 ways to help yourself’, you’re giving specifics and are more likely to get readers.
  • Don’t get cocky. Don’t try to be too clever with a headline, as these are notoriously hard to come up with. And, they can spectacularly fail!
  • Use a proven structure…as talked about in previous points. Being original is great, but you can try too hard!
  • Keep on, keeping on – practice, practice, practice…makes perfect! Take notice of headlines when you’re reading a newspaper or magazine. Look at headlines on billboards and understand how they capture your attention.
  • Action – Know what action you want your readers to take and make sure that is incorporated throughout your article and in your headline.        

Write content your readers will remember

Here are a few tricks to help make your content unforgettable.

  • Emotion – appeal to your reader’s emotions – this makes them care about something and if they care, they will remember.
  • People have short attention spans – use sound bites to grab attention. I’ve heard the term ’60 is the new 40’, referring to the fact that people now live longer…this is a sound bite.
  • Surprise your reader – Say something unexpected – the element of surprise always makes people remember
  • Use solid details. As well as all the trivial stuff, make sure your content has some real concrete solid details and information that help your readers understand your content.
  • Use stories. It could be a case study, or just a little ‘aside’ piece from your personal memory. People love stories, so be a good storyteller.

Using persuasive writing

If you want your readers to buy something, subscribe to your course or newsletter, you need to be persuasive. Here are some of the reasons you can give your readers…

  • Tell them why…why they should buy your product. Keep it simple – use the word ‘because’ – that tells them all they need to know.
  • Expect objections. If you’re on social media, you’ll know that no matter what you post, there is always someone who objects or who doesn’t agree with you. So, when writing copy, anticipate those objections up front and address them!
  • Give an incentive. Most people have endless curiosity. So give incentives to read to the end of your content…. ‘As well as this, you’re going to love…..’, ‘Here is the best bit’…’Here’s the most awesome part…’. You get the picture!
  • Use stats – these give credibility to your content. And quote your source if there are lots of specific stats.
  • Be passionate about what you do. If you love what you do, it will shine through your work.
  • Give the benefits of what you are offering. You might have told readers why to buy your product/service, but also list the benefits – what can it do for them? How can it make their lives easier? How can it save them time and money?
  • Write about a subject you know about. It will be obvious if you are just spewing out information. KNOW what you’re writing about as it will be easier to be more persuasive about it. And bear in mind that the person reading might not know anything about the subject you’re writing about, so keep the ‘beginner’ in mind.
  • Have a clear call to action. Once they’ve read the article, tell them what to do next and remind them why it’s good, and why they should click or subscribe or buy!     

At the end of the day, you know your customers and you know who your ideal customer is. Write for those people. Write as if you’re talking to a friend in a pub over a drink. Use easy to understand language and not jargon.

Entertain your audience, educate them and ultimately you will sell to them. But as with most marketing tactics, it’s important to have that all important engagement first.

If you have any other ideas, please feel free to let me know in the comments.

How to cope with writer’s block

Yes, it happens to everyone at one time or another. You have been staring at a blank page and can’t even begin to think where to start. You might be writing a blog, trying to think of what posts to write for Facebook or Instagram, or stuck on a vital part in the book that is going to be the next big thing! It doesn’t really matter what you are writing, it will strike you at some time or other.

If it happens to you, what do you do? Do you even know why it happens?

What causes writer’s block?

There are various reasons why this affliction suddenly strikes. Sometimes it helps to know that you’re not alone, it happens to the best of us. Some of the common causes are…

You want everything to be perfect before you start. You make sure you have time, and you’re mulling over ideas in your head so you can get it down on paper, right first time. Trouble is, your brain suddenly starts wandering off in another direction! You pull it back and try to concentrate again, trying to get the wording just right in your head before you write it down. ‘Did you switch off the oven?’ pops into your head, or ‘Did I reply to that important email?’
It’s easy to get distracted and, if you’re in this position, it’s time to take a break and do something else.

Timing is another common cause. You’re not being distracted by anything; your mind has just suddenly gone blank. It might simply not be the right time to write – you might need more time to think about your ideas a bit more – have a brainstorm instead.

Fear is also a big factor in writer’s block. Some people never become writers because they are simply too afraid to put their writing out there and risk criticism. They are afraid of other people reading their work.
It might be that you are afraid to finish your book/article/blog because it might not be good enough. Hitting that wilderness can cause panic, anxiety and a host of other unpleasant things…but it’s good to know that you’re not the only one who this happens to – many of the great writers suffer from a block; I’d even hazard a guess that they all have at some point.     

What can you do to solve this ever present block?

Well, there’s no definitive answer that will suit everyone. We are all different and all suffer with writer’s block for our own reasons. I can’t tell you exactly how to fix it, but I can share some solutions to help you get your focus back.

Possible solutions to writer’s block

Here are some ideas – some I have tried and some I haven’t…

  • Get away from your desk. Go outside, take deep breaths and maybe go for a walk. I live in the French countryside, so I often take a stroll round our field and just sit for a bit.
  • If you love to exercise, you might try a bike ride or a run – get your blood flowing.
  • Play a game (but set a time limit or you’ll find the day is gone!)
  • Spend time with someone who you like to be around, someone who makes you feel good.
  • Call your family for a chat.
  • Read a book.
  • Google some inspiring quotes about writing that will get you going.
  • As I said above, get rid of the distractions. I’m easily distracted by email/social media posts popping up, so I switch off email and social media when I’m writing.
  • Listen to some music – I really like this one…or play an instrument!
  • Brainstorm some ideas and just put them in bullet points in a word document.
  • Write something else! Leave the writing you’re struggling with and start to write about something different. I often do this with blogs. If I’m really struggling to find the right words, or just can’t think how to string a particular sentence together, I stop! And I start writing a different blog about something completely different. Often, I don’t go back to the original for days, sometimes weeks. Then it suddenly jumps out at me and I can do it.
  • Take a shower! No, not because you smell or need it! Have you ever noticed that you always get your best ideas when you’re in the shower or just about to drop off to sleep? Occasionally, I have to get out of bed and just jot down a few ideas.

Routine helps 

I find that having a writing routine makes me sit down and get on with it. Plan your ‘to do’ list and make sure that your writing forms a big part of that list. It’s the same as ‘hitting the wall’ when you’re running. You have to push through it. So, forcing yourself to commit to a certain amount of time every day or every few days is key to getting out of the doldrums and kicking the butt of writer’s block.  

I write blogs, as well as having a couple of books on the go. Sometimes my blog writing doesn’t go well simply because I haven’t done enough research on the subject I’m writing about. So, for me, I go on Google and search for more articles on the subject I’m writing about and see if I can get inspiration for a different angle.

Sometimes you can just write through the block. This is one way to deal with the fear factor! To coin a phrase, ‘Just do it!’ It doesn’t matter what you’re writing about, or if it doesn’t feel right, just keep on writing – you can always edit it later. From time to time you are so full of self-doubt that you can’t see past that. This often goes along with fear. So, push through the block as I said before and, like the runner who gets a stitch, keep going and eventually it will go away. 

Finally if you are really struggling, get away from it.

After all tomorrow is always another and new writing day! You could always go shopping for shoes instead!

How to measure customer satisfaction

We all know that unsatisfied customers cost money. Research has shown that about 80% of customers will go to a different company after just one bad experience, especially if it’s about the service they receive. This is why it’s so important to measure customer satisfaction to find out exactly what your customers think of you, your company, your products or services, and the kind of customer service they receive.

It’s a fairly simple thing to do, but the first hurdle for any business, big or small, is actually admitting that you have a problem, or that there is room for improvement.

Measuring customer satisfaction simply boils down to collecting feedback from your customers, either via a survey or using customer data…preferably both!

Why should you measure customer satisfaction?

I’ve already mentioned one reason – customer dissatisfaction.

If a customer is not happy they will not buy from you again. They will find take their business elsewhere and you will see a rise in complaints.

If you were measuring satisfaction, you would identify any problems early enough to be able to do something about it, and save your customer before they defect to another company.

Customer retention

It’s much easier to retain your existing customers rather than go through all the marketing and hard work to acquire new ones.

If a customer buys from you regularly, they bring much more value to your business. A happy customer is more likely to remain loyal to you and your brand.

Measurement helps you keep your customers happy, so they’re more likely to stick with your business, buy more and recommend you to family and friends.

Negative comments can damage your brand 

A bad customer experience will most likely be shared with family and friends. An unhappy customer is also likely to share their bad experience on social media sites. This can give your business a bad reputation.

Best-selling author and sought after celebrity speaker, Catherine DeVrye, is a world authority on customer service. She also won Australian Woman of the Year. She once said, “It takes years to win a customer and only seconds to lose one.” This one statement resonates with me more than any other I’ve read. I want my customers to be loyal, and loyalty, like trust, has to be earned – you can’t buy it.

I get my computer protection software from a big, well-known company and stay with them because it’s easy to deal with them. Their product is good and does what it says on the tin and they have a good reputation. But it has started to annoy me that this company spend thousands on expensive advertising campaigns, with rousing music, great copy and a fabulous enticing offer for new customers. But, hang on a minute, I’ve been a loyal customer for countless years and the amount I pay goes up substantially every year. Sometimes I think they take it for granted that I’ll just renew my subscription every year and pay whatever they say without any questions. Should I stay loyal to them when I get a new computer? They don’t make me feel valued as a customer. Apart from sending me emails about new and enhanced features that will ultimately cost me more, I don’t hear from them. There is no incentive for me to stay with them…would it really hurt for them to say, “you’ve been a great customer for more than 10 years – we’d like to reward your loyalty with XXXXXX” It doesn’t necessarily matter what I’m offered – it could be 10% off for a year. It could be that they offer me, as a valued customer, the new features to try out for free for the first year and no increase in my annual subscription. Now that would impress me. It doesn’t take much.

With this in mind, I’m so careful never to take my customers for granted or to forget about them. At the end of the day, they are my ‘bread and butter.’  

Enhance that all important customer experience

By measuring what your customers think of your products or services, you are giving them the chance to have their say. This will help you improve your relationship with that customer and could produce ideas on how to improve the customer service you currently offer. Your customers could come up with the solution to a problem you’ve been having, especially if you ask the question, “How can we improve on the service you receive from us?”

If you’re measuring customer satisfaction on a regular basis, you will be able to see the spikes in either direction. The measurement might reveal that customers are very happy with the service they get…in which case you know that you’re heading in the right direction.

Measurement Strategy

Once you are measuring what you do, the results will form the basis of your strategy – how are you going to improve so the scores are better the next time you do it?

So, when doing your marketing plan/strategy, always include a measurement section, which details solid measurable objectives and KPIs, (key performance indicators).  If you’ve ever worked for a big company, you’ll have heard of KPIs as they form part of your annual performance review!

CSAT  

OK, I have talked about measuring customer satisfaction (CSAT), but how do you measure it?

CSAT is a key performance indicator (KPI) that tracks how satisfied your customers are with your products or services…or both.

It is measured by customer feedback surveys that you send out. Usually it is a question at the end of a survey which will say something like…

‘How would you rate your overall satisfaction of the (service or products) you have received?’

Your customers are asked to reply by ticking the box of one of five answers…

  1. Very unsatisfied
  2. Unsatisfied
  3. Neutral
  4. Satisfied
  5. Very satisfied

The results you get from all your customers can give you an average score…best done as percentages. For example if you surveyed 100 customers and 85 said they were satisfied or very satisfied, you would have an 85% total customer satisfaction rate, with 15% customer dissatisfaction. 

The next step would then be to look at the 15 customers’ feedback, who rated you as giving dissatisfaction to try and identify why. This could be answered in other questions you’ve asked. If you can’t identify the reasons, it would be worth contacting those customers to find out what you can do to improve. This gives you a chance to turn the feedback around to positive for next time. The important thing is NOT to ignore it.

You can use a survey to ask very specific questions, such as ‘How do you rate the service you receive by telephone?’ or ‘How likely is it that you will recommend our business to your family and friends?’   

The only downside of CSAT is that it only measures how your customers are feeling here and now, at the time they complete the survey. They might be having a bad day or have been trying to get hold of you and haven’t yet had a reply, which could provoke a negative answer.

Before you jump in and send out a survey, define what you want to achieve.

  • What do you want to measure?
  • How are you going to send it out? By post, email, telephone or via social networks?
  • How often do you want to send a survey – once you send one, you’ll need to send more in the future so you can compare results. Once a year is good as you don’t want to bombard your customers with questions.
  • What questions do you want to ask? It’s good to have a range of questions – some that have multiple choice answers and some that are free text. For example, you might want to ask ‘How can the service we provide be improved?’ This would need a text box so the response can be written by the customer and they can write as little or as much as they want to.
  • Questions need to be clear, concise and straight forward and be easy to understand.

Conduct an interview on the telephone

This is a more costly way to get feedback, but it definitely has its benefits. For example, if you are launching a new product and have several long-standing and loyal customers, it would be a good idea to get their opinion. This not only makes them feel very valued as a customer, but also that their opinion matters to you and that you listen to them.

Obviously you couldn’t really do this with a big survey to all your customers – you could have thousands – so it would not be cost effective nor a good use of your time. 

Analytic tools  

There are loads of analytic tools out that that can help you with looking at engagement on your social media channels. These will, to a certain extent, give you details of your customers’ behaviour; how they interact with your brand; how often they buy from you and if they are a repeat buyer of a particular product.

The analytics will also tell you what kind of posts your customers like, what time of day they are online and what day of the week is most popular for your posts. This helps you decide what and when to post.  

Regarding social media, it’s always useful to listen to your customers and reply promptly to any questions or comments on your posts. 

Live Chat and Social Media

Most social media sites have the facility to have a ‘live’ chat with someone, so you could utilise this to talk to customers online. Messenger is another way to speak to them, but be careful not to bombard their inbox with meaningless messages.

The good thing about using social media channels for engagement and chat is that it is a free service!

You may also have live chat software and can use that to interact with your customers. Again, be aware not to be a nuisance!

Marketing emails

Email is perfect for engaging with your customers and for collecting feedback. If you send out a regular newsletter via email, you could always embed a survey in that communication. Or, you could send an email to your subscribers just about your annual survey.

Text

Texting is another great option for getting feedback. It’s cheap to send messages in bulk and gets a survey direct to your customers’ phone.

Customer Experience Factors

Whether you decide to send out a survey, text, message, telephone or email, there are some things you will always come across, which are absolutely crucial to the customer experience…

Pricing

What you charge for a product or service will hugely impact whether a customer will be satisfied or dissatisfied, depending on the customer. If you charge for something you don’t or can’t deliver, they will go elsewhere and will be dissatisfied with the service they’ve received. I’m not saying make sure your prices are low, no indeed not! A product or service is worth what a customer is willing to pay for it. You don’t want to be really cheap as they will question the quality of the product or service you offer. But at the same time, you don’t want to be so expensive that you price yourself out of the market.

Offer easy access to support 24/7

Customers like to have access to your products/services and know that they can contact you 24/7. Don’t just have a phone number with office hours (9-5, Monday-Friday). If you have a website, you can put an email address. Even if you’re not immediately available, at least they can ask questions at the time they want to.

Offer messenger support on social media channels, so they can message you if it’s an emergency. Most of us are online every day, even at weekends and, although it can be a pain on your day off, if you do answer any urgent queries via messenger…or agree to call the customer, you will gain more loyalty and respect. 

Educational content and training

If your products or services require the customer to learn something, make sure that there is support in place as everyone learns differently. It might be that you have a blog and post about how to use certain products or a certain service you offer.

Make sure that products or services that need training or support are covered. Include instructions with the product, give them a link to your YouTube channel where it is explained in detail, or give them a link to a Facebook group where you talk about your products or services in detail through discussions or forums.

Email all these support structures to your customers, as well as putting them in with products/services when they buy them. That way, they know they can save emails for use at a later date and don’t have to worry about losing paper copies of instructions.

Build a community on social media

Start your own social media group to support your customers with the products/services they buy from you. Communities serve several purposes…

  • Customers can talk and discuss your products/services with each other and give tips that they’ve found through experience
  • Customers can ask you questions
  • You can set up a regular forum, where you are there, ‘live’ to answer questions
  • You can advertise your new products or services
  • You can host networking events online
  • You can host training sessions, which can be ‘live’ or recorded with a link to the recording for your customers

Cancelling contracts or subscriptions  

Make it easy for your customers to change, or cancel a contract or subscription they have with your business.

It needs to be clear and concise and easily accessible. This might seem a bit odd, as you want to keep your customers, right? But if something you sell is not the right fit for your customer, they need to know that they can easily get out of it. If you don’t do this, you could risk damage to your reputation and your brand if the customer bad-mouths you and your business.

Customer incentive scheme  

You will have customers who absolutely love your products/services and who come back to you time and time again. What better way to reward them and show you value their custom, than you have a customer incentive scheme or loyalty programme. Incentives can come in all shapes and forms – it’s up to you what you choose to do.

If you run a coffee shop or café, you could give a card that gets stamped every time they buy a coffee. After buying 10 coffees and collecting 10 stamps on their card, they get a free coffee.

If you have a customer who has bought a website design from you, you could tell them that you’ll add a blog to their site for free.

These are just a couple of examples – the sky’s the limit really!

Whichever way you look at it, customer service and the experience they get when dealing with you and your business is crucial to your business’s success. So, be prepared and put in place measures that help you keep track of what your customers are buying and why. And of course, always ask for feedback! And you’ll be having your customers jumping for joy!

What makes storytelling so powerful?

From a very early age, we are brought up on stories. I remember my Dad making up stories at bedtime, full of action and adventure, and I was always in there somewhere. Why do we tell stories to our kids? It brings us closer to them, it’s something we can share and it’s something they look forward to. It’s really no different to telling stories as an adult to help your marketing. Storytelling is a very powerful marketing tool.

Why is it so powerful? 

Stories have been used throughout history to give messages to future generations. They convey culture and values that both unite and divide people. History books are full of stories and legends…there are even stories in the bible. And what makes them so powerful? They connect people with fact, ideas, spiritual growth and develop a sense of community. The stories we have in common are what ties families together.

The same can be said about business. Stories not only connect the reader with the writer, they build relationships and familiarity in a way that factual articles and bullet points don’t. Good stories draw the reader in and make a point, which other forms of communication can’t. They enable your reader to learn about you and your business on their own, so it’s important when you decide to tell a story, that it matches the message you want to get across to your audience.

Make it unforgettable and meaningful     

The reason why your audience remember a story is because it strikes a particular chord with them. So, if you know about a certain problem that your target audience has, try and write about it in an engaging way that talks to that particular audience, so it speaks to them and they have that ‘aha’ moment. Use words and examples that help your audience remember what you have to say, using persuasive language, whilst being friendly and helpful. It isn’t easy and I don’t have a formula, but repetition of your main point, looking at the issue from different angles will help people remember your message.

Emotion plays a part

Emotion also plays its part in storytelling. I’ve laughed and cried when reading a book or watching a film on TV. This is because the writers of those kind of scripts know how to tap into the part of us that makes us human. Getting inside the heads of your target audience, and working out what they feel passionate about, will help you influence them with your writing. This, in turn builds a bond or a rapport between you and your readers.

The most powerful stories I’ve ever heard have come from motivational speakers at conferences at the company I worked with in the UK. Stories that tell about a struggle the speaker has overcome…very personal information that they shared and held captive an audience of hundreds of people. The most powerful stories you can tell will be life experiences…maybe a time when you failed at something and how you got back up, dusted yourself down and started again. It could be about a mistake you made that you managed to eventually find a solution to. These stories build connections with your audience and get them on your side, and often it’s something they can relate to.  

How to tell your story?

Once you have decided on your message or the important point you want to get across, it’s largely up to you how you write it. But it’s important to think about how you are going to present it to your target audience. If you know your target audience well, you will know what kind of media they prefer. 

They might like to read your stories, they might like to watch you on video or listen to you speaking animatedly on a podcast. You might want to tell your story through a presentation, combining all three elements. It’s up to you. Whichever way you choose, you will be engaging with your audience on a personal level, influencing them to your way of thinking, connecting with them to gain their trust and giving them inspiration to carry on.    

If you post on social media, I’m sure that you’ve used quotes from famous people. These are used to make us laugh, cry, entertain, educate and always have a moral in the story or a meaning that resonates in the quote. Quotes are a form of a short story and that’s why they can be so powerful. Often when I post a quote, people will say that it speaks to them. Some might say ‘I really needed to hear this today’ if it’s motivational or addressing a common issue. What I’m getting at here is that to tell a story, it doesn’t have to a long rambling tale, it can be short and snappy and to the point.

Whichever way you choose to tell stories to your audience, give them a meaning, be sincere and your readers will be inspired to engage with your content and your brand. Give your story context, maybe some conflict, educate them or make it emotive. You are sharing your reality, or something you have been through – your audience will love you and will love and engage with your content.

What sort of story do you like to hear from an influencer in your life?

What does it mean to be goal oriented?

If you are goal oriented as a person, it means you are focused on achieving a specific objective or to accomplishing a given task.

It can also refer to your business or marketing plan…or even a project plan – you can make your targets goal oriented, which means they are designed to achieve the results you want.

As Albert Einstein once said, “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”  I agree with this to a certain extent, but I do also think that people, such as family also contribute to helping you live a happy life, but I get where he was coming from!

You can apply goal setting to all parts of your life, not just to your business objectives. It just means that you set yourself targets and objectives that will help you make progress. For example, if you join a gym, you can’t expect to be lifting the heavy weights or running for 20km, the minute you step into the gym. You have to build up to that in small steps…or goals. The same could be applied to losing weight… you might have to lose 52lbs, but that isn’t going to come off in a couple of weeks, you need to have a plan with set goals (or little milestones) to get you there. Your first goal might be to lose 7lbs in one month – that’s easier to achieve as it’s realistic and specific. No matter what your goals are for, whether for you in your general life, for your health or for your business, your goals should be SMART goals.

For the purpose of this article, I am going to focus on being goal oriented for your business.

Habits determine whether you will achieve your goals

Many of us ponder the question, “How can I be more successful?” What we don’t realise is that we all hold the tools to become successful inside us, we just need to bring them out. Successful people are where they are because of the habits they adopt. Habits determine our behaviour. If you create good habits and adopt positive behaviour, you will have the ability to be successful.    

A goal driven person will work much harder whenever there are deadlines to be met. If you have a goal in your sights, plan how you are going to achieve it – have a clear idea of all the steps needed to get to that goal, breaking it all down into manageable chunks. You may not achieve parts of your goal first time around, but it’s about being focused on that end result and recognising all the steps in between.

What can you do to motivate yourself to achieve?

One of the key things that will help you achieve your goals is motivation. How do you stay motivated to achieve your goals? This is not always easy.

  • Make sure that the goals you want to achieve are really YOUR goals. You have to absolutely want that goal to be able to achieve it, so don’t look at what other people do and want out of life, look into yourself and what it is that you want – what is important to you?

    We sometimes think we want something, just because one of our friends or business colleagues talks about it. For me, a good example is Instagram and getting a good following. I’m still in the early stages of this, but at the very beginning, I was really hung up on how many followers I had, compared to others. So I did all the wrong things to get followers – one in particular, was the ‘follow for follow’ mentality, (or on Facebook, the ‘like for like’ mentality). For a start, after you have done the initial follow or like, several people will unlike or unfollow you and this is depressing when you see your follows going down instead of up. It’s because these followers aren’t the right people for your business. You need followers to follow you because they GENUINELY like your content, or are genuinely interested in your business. The same applies the other way around – only follow or like the businesses that you absolutely feel a connection with or are genuinely interested in their products or services. The follow for follow people will never become your customers.  
  • Money… Lots of people feel that money alone will be enough to motivate them…and maybe for some it does, often to the detriment of everything else. Obviously all of us who are in business for ourselves have money in our minds…we need to pay bills, we want to buy nice things and to do that, you need money. But it’s not a good idea to let it control your every move and fill your every waking thought. You still need some downtime to pursue a hobby or to be with your family and friends. It’s important to still have a life outside of work and making money.
  • Motivation also comes from the people around you. It’s important to be able to bounce ideas off like-minded people, so it’s good to surround yourself with positive thinkers who emanate positive vibes. We’re human and most humans give and receive energy and inspiration, so make sure you are receiving as much as you are giving away.
  • Self-awareness. Some of your goals may need you to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are in order for you to achieve the end result. You may need to learn new skills or get someone who has those skills to help you. 
  • Be organised! It’s very easy when you’re focusing on a particular goal to let your thoughts and ideas run away with you. Sometimes your energy and motivation can be seriously damaged by over-stimulation or a cluttered mind, because you just have so much going on in there!

    Instead of trying to keep it all in and wing it, sit down and take time to put all your ideas onto paper (or on a word doc) and make a list. Talk it through with someone who understands where you’re coming from and talk out your ideas – they might suggest some solutions. Put your ideas into specific tasks and allocate a time period. You will feel so much better for it.

    Whilst on the subject of being organised, it’s also crucial to work in an uncluttered and organised space. If your desk space or work area is cluttered and untidy, it will affect the way you work.
  • Keep your eye on the bigger picture. When you’re working on some of the more menial tasks in order to reach a particular goal, you might be tempted to cut corners or not bother with some elements. But if you keep that end result in mind, it will help you stay on track.
  • Time management is also crucial to achieving your goals. Each goal, or each part of a goal should have a clear deadline so you are accountable for making progress.  
  • Sometimes things will go wrong – it’s inevitable that it won’t all be plain sailing. To keep yourself motivated during these moments, it’s important to remember that things do go wrong and sometimes it’s completely out of your control. Take the Covid-19 virus for example. None of us could predict that a virus that would affect the whole world…just come out of nowhere and stop many businesses in their tracks. But it did, and it is still affecting many businesses, including mine. But we have to keep believing that it will pass and things will slowly get back to normal. It might be a different kind of normal, but we will get there. And we have all adapted and thought of other ways to get our business moving and still try and achieve our goals.
  • Finally, try and be consistent. If you want to get to that goal, you have to do something towards it every day. Some days you might not feel like doing anything…and you should have at least one day off a week, when you can switch off and be with your friends or family and relax. But, on your work days, if you’re feeling a bit lethargic, just do something small towards your goal – speak to your positive friend; write a social media post; make a new list with smaller, more achievable chunks.

It’s also good to be process oriented

Being goal oriented is nothing new. Whether you realise it or not, you are set goals from the minute you’re born. Your parents or guardians encourage you to take a bottle, to crawl, to walk, to talk, to use cutlery…the list is endless. But these are all goals that you are encouraged to achieve and you are rewarded if you achieve them.

I remember my Mum taking me to a birthday party and she put me in knickers instead of a nappy for the first time out of our own house. All the way there, she reminded me to ask if I needed to use the bathroom and what a good girl I was, and how clever I was. And, if I managed to do this all afternoon, she would take me to the toy shop and I could have a new dolly….and there you have it…I had a goal to work for. The goal was getting the dolly….the process was that I asked to use the bathroom and didn’t pee my knickers!  Needless to say, I got the dolly and I was so proud that I’d achieved my goal!

So, setting your goals is good but achieving them is also about the processes you go through to get there.  

If you’re setting goals, then you need to have an action plan in place to describe the process you will go through to get the end result. And you need to make sure it is the right process.

Make the process enjoyable and rewarding

None of us can do something we don’t like doing for very long. For example, if you have decided you will follow a particular fad diet for the next six months, it is unlikely you will get to the six month point. Fad diets tend to include things we don’t like eating, or don’t like doing, so it makes it harder to stick to, than a sensible eating diet where nothing is forbidden, it’s just that certain foods are limited.

You need to wake up every morning, looking forward to going to work so you can start work on the next part of your process to achieve your goals. If the process you have chosen is unworkable, you won’t stick with it. Both the goals you want to achieve AND the process must both be rewarding. If the processes you choose are ones you like, they become part of the goal in that they lead you there. And if there is a process you don’t yet understand, take the time to learn about it and always be on the look out to learn new skills.

I love writing, so any goal I set for my business always includes a large element of writing, as that is what I enjoy and it makes my goal feel closer. When you can find the right process for you, you’ll love working on them and you’ll most likely not only achieve your goals, but surpass them!

Conclusion

It’s good to set goals for your business, so you are working towards making your business a success. However, don’t let your goals rule your life or ruin your life! Make sure you strike the right balance and still live a little, spend time with your family and enjoy some rest and relaxation. Work is not the be all and end all for a happy life!

Ensure your goals have a process to get you there that you will enjoy. It will of course, involve hard work and dedication, but if you can make the process rewarding by incorporating things you like to do, you’ll enjoy the journey and it won’t be so stressful.  

If you have any comments or more ideas, please feel free to comment below.