How the customer experience (CX) is evolving in 2022

The customer experience is every interaction that a customer has with your business, from the very first time they find your website, shop, or social media pages, to every time they comment or like what you do, right up to making a purchase or working with you.

It’s something that continually evolves, and since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, it’s developed faster than every before. During the various lockdowns, we all had to adapt our businesses to cope with being more visible online…and customers have found that they like the services that businesses started to offer during this time and want it to continue.

For the rest of 2022 and into 2023, there are several things you can do to ensure that your business evolves to match those new customer experience trends.

The Digital Experience

These days people use technology more than ever to find what they want – most of us reach for our phones to look at things we want to buy. We can see what the best products are, compare prices and look at reviews to see which is the best to buy. If you’re a small business and not online in several places, you’re missing a trick.

The obvious one is to have a website. I know that many small businesses have online shops, such as Etsy, to sell their products, but at the end of the day, you don’t own that shop. You must pay high fees and the owners of Etsy could shut you down whenever they want.

Whereas, if you have your own website, you own it. No one can take it away from you and you can put so much more information about your business on it – you’re not just restricted to a shop. As well as being able to tell your backstory through your ‘About’ page, you can also set up an email subscription to communicate regularly with your customers and set up a blog to share information with them. It’s more personal.

Your social media accounts are also useful to gain a following and promote your products or services. You can also promote your website, blog, or email subscription, with links to your website.

Consumers expect you to be on these channels and they are the best way to engage and interact with your customers and potential customers.

Be personal

Another positive for the customer experience is personalisation. They like personalised experiences when they engage with a business. And not just greeting them by name in emails etc, or remembering birthdays, they want more than that. They expect to be able to contact businesses on their terms – using email, chat, voice calls, messaging etc. They want their enquiry answered in a timely way and don’t want to waste their time waiting or having to repeat themselves.

Customer expectations

As things have evolved to a more digital world, customer expectations have grown. And if you make any kind of promise to a customer, they will expect it to happen quickly.

How do you find out what their expectations are? Ask them! Put questions on your social media pages to find out what they like and don’t like.

You could send out a link to a survey…and offer a discount in exchange for completing it.

It also helps to look at your competition to see what they’re doing and how they interact with their customers. If you run the same, or a similar business to that of your competitors, your customers will have similar problems.

Identify customers’ pain points

To turn your customers into fans and advocates for your business, you must exceed expectations. Look at the pain points that your customers have and find out how you can address them with what you do.

Some common pain points include shipping, returns, sizing and being able to easily contact you. By looking at these and other pain points, you can exceed expectations and create very happy customers, who will recommend you.

Your customers put positive experiences above everything else, as you can see from some of the latest statistics below.

The Omnichannel experience

Omnichannel simply means lots of different channels – social media, website, email, chat etc.

To maximise this experience for your customers, ensure that you are consistent across all channels – that branding and the way you speak and interact is the same. And that your customer service is excellent and exceeds expectations on all channels.

Data Security and privacy

Another thing that customers are very aware of these days is data security and privacy. There is so much on the news and online about this that most people know they have certain rights.

The emphasis on data security and privacy is only going to increase over the coming months and years. As your customers share more personal data, businesses must adhere to the General Data Protection Regulations, (GDPR) relevant to the country you trade in, as well as the countries you sell to.

You should ensure that you have a privacy policy and clearly you’re your data practices in that policy. You need to ensure that you are clear about your purpose and processes for collecting and storing customer data.

You need to have your customers’ consent to email them – most email subscriptions include an opt-in, where customers willingly give their name and email address, so they are consenting to you sending emails.

Never share your customers’ data with third parties or sell lists of customers email addresses.

You can find out more about GDPR online for your country, but here are a couple of useful links.

GDPR UK

GDPR EU 

Top tips for a great customer experience

Businesses with great customer experiences have higher customer referral rates and higher rates of customer satisfaction. This means you’re more likely to keep those customers’ loyalty and they’re more likely to come back for more. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can have – your customers do the marketing for you, saving you time and money.

In today’s market, you not only need to compete on price, but you also need to compete on experiences, that is, your customers want to feel emotionally connected to you and your business.

Here are some of my top tips for creating that great customer experience:

  • Every business should have a mission statement and set goals. Make the customer experience part of your mission statement and have specific goals to enhance that experience.
  • Be friendly – whether you are talking to customers face to face, or via video call or phone, SMILE! Believe it or not, you can hear that friendly smile. If you’re face to face, make eye contact. And always use warm, friendly language and tone of voice.
  • Have empathy for your customers. Do your best to understand them and what they want. Make the experience they have with your business, the best!
  • Provide value – by this I don’t mean that your products should be cheaper than everyone else’s. I mean deliver the best value you can, at the right price for your customers. Make sure your prices are easy to find and are visible – people don’t have to go looking – they’ll just log out. Make the sales process as quick, efficient, and easy as you can.
    Make sure that your shop or website is easy to navigate and doesn’t take ages to load – or you will lose customers.
  • Be easy to contact. This speaks for itself. Make sure that your contact details are on every channel you use…be that your phone number, email address or chat box.
  • Be consistent with everything you do and never stop looking for ways to improve. Listen to your customers, take note of any feedback you get and act on it.
  • Finally, show your appreciation for your customers. Sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ is enough, whether that is face to face or via email.

I hope that this article has been helpful – if you have any further suggestions or have any questions, please feel free to comment below. Alternatively, you can email me at cindymobey@outlook.com or contact me via my website.

Is your business suffering from the summer slump?

How is it nearly the end of August already – and what a weird, hot summer it’s been. For most of us, it’s also meant rising prices, fuel costs going through the roof and everyone seems to be tightening their belts.

The summer slump is a real problem for some businesses, and usually this simply means that time in summer when business seems to drop off. You don’t get so much engagement on your social media pages, sales disappear, and generally, everything seems to grind to a blinding halt.

The main reason for this is that in general, people just stop paying attention to the things they normally do. The children are off school and need to be entertained, the weather is nicer so they’re thinking about BBQs and social gatherings with family and friends. They are also thinking about going away on holiday, (especially now the restrictions of Covid are virtually over). Add to that the rising cost of living, and for some, the slump has been more of a reality than usual.

This year, more than ever, small businesses are telling me that they are experiencing a real slump in their sales.

So, do you just wait for things to pick up by themselves? Or do you want to be proactive and do something about it? There are still some things you can do to ensure that your business is still being seen.

Here are some things that might help:

Don’t stop doing what you normally do

This seems obvious, but it’s important to still have your business out there. If you post once or twice a day on social media, continue doing that. Be consistent, just like you always have.

If you publish a weekly or monthly blog, do it, even if you don’t get much engagement.

If you send out an email newsletter, absolutely still do this. The tips that follow will help you with the sort of things you can talk about.

Look at starting a new inbound marketing campaign

What do I mean by this?

Create a new campaign on your social media or email, to attract customers. You do this by tailoring your content to what they need, problems they need to solve, and forms relationships with your followers.

The old way of mass marketing just doesn’t seem to be as effective anymore. Things like pop-up ads and the hard sell are more likely to put people off these days. So, it’s a softer approach you’re after.

Get going with educating your current and potential customers about your products or services. Use email, direct mail, and social media posts/stories/reels/video to teach your audience more about your products or services and how you can help solve some of their problems.

Go ‘live’

Hold a live event or a series of events highlighting what you do best. Include details of your best sellers, and don’t forget to include testimonials or case studies to help you. Success stories always sell.

Focus on your customers

This is a good way to look at how you can serve your existing customers better. Look at whether your customers use your product or service to its full capacity. Look at feedback to find out if there are any needs that your product isn’t meeting that could be tweaked in future. You can do this simply by messaging your customers and asking for their opinion. People like to be involved, so ask if there’s anything you can improve on, or if there is anything you don’t yet provide that you could provide in future.

Ask for referrals

This speaks for itself, but whilst you’re quiet, you can ask for a referral – and maybe offer a discount if the person they recommend buys from you.

Ask for testimonials. You may get regular testimonials, but some people just don’t think to give them, so there’s no harm in asking.

Join a networking group

There are so many groups on social media that you can join. It just takes a little bit of time to engage with the other businesses in the group. Look at other businesses, engage with their posts by commenting. You might find something you’d like to buy. This is a great way to build genuine relationships with other like-minded people.

If you have any local in-person networking events, try to get along and introduce yourself. Face-to-face events are great for networking in real time. Make sure you are armed with a stock of business cards to give out and ensure that you listen to other businesses and what they have to say, as well as talking about your own!

Share your schedule

If you are going on holiday in the summer, tell your clients about it beforehand. Encourage them to place orders before you go, so they get their orders in good time. Scarcity sells, so don’t miss out on this one.

If you know that you have customers who buy Autumn items from you, such as Halloween products, contact them early and show them your range, asking if they’d like to order early to beat the rush.

Invest in you

When your business is quiet, it’s a good time to learn new things or develop new skills. Or, just to brush up on what you already know. Book a coaching session to help you with a specific part of your business, sign up to a few webinars, or look at a short course that will help you grow your business further.

If you have sales material, presentations, case studies, welcome pack, an automated email newsletter, or a website, now is the time to review them and update them, so they are all current and nothing is out of date.

When you have done that, you can do a couple of launch posts to show your new-look website or landing page.

Update your Facebook cover and your profile photo. And spend some time thinking about your brand and how you can better show your brand in your social media posts.

Conclusion

These are just a few ideas to help you beat that summer slump. Doing some of these things will make you feel more proactive, and you’ll be raring to go once the summer is over and we are into autumn.

I hope that you have all had a fabulous August, have enjoyed time with family and friends, enjoyed the gorgeous weather, (even if it was a tad too hot at times) and are looking forward to launching into autumn with renewed vigour.

Take your marketing from mediocre to marvellous

The one thing that most small business owners have in common is the dream about what their business has the potential to grow into. They want it to be a success and know they can do it if they work hard.

However, sometimes it’s hard to focus on what is important and you sometimes lose the focus on the future and how to keep moving forward. How many times do you find yourself wondering if it’s all worthwhile? How often do you feel like just jacking it all in and doing something else?

You know that in this digital age, especially since Covid raised its ugly head and everyone had to find more innovative ways to reach their customers, that having quality content online that engages your audience is crucial. But that really is only half the picture. You also need to ensure your audience is exposed to this content, and that means building a successful content strategy beyond social media posts.

This week’s blog looks at how you can work ON your business, NOT IN your business, and take it from mediocre to marvellous.

Resolve your mediocre marketing

Mediocre is quite a depressing place to be in marketing. Lots of businesses pay more attention to how they look than what they’re saying, or how they’re saying it. I’m not saying everyone does this, of course, but instead of focusing on what makes us unique, we are all guilty at some time or other of saying what people expect us to say or do.

So, what can you do to resolve your mediocre marketing?

All small businesses have lots of balls in the air. Not only do lots of you have a family to look after, but you also have everyday things to keep on top of too. Some of you are running your small business as a side hustle, as well as holding down a full-time job, and you can find yourself being pulled in all directions. This can lead to a mindset of ‘hoping for the best,’ which in turn can lead to you being unproductive – and it’s exhausting!

One of the answers is to work smarter instead of harder. Here are some things to think about:

Have a plan

If you read my blog regularly, you will know what I’m going to say; you need a marketing plan.

At this point, you might just switch off. Is it because you find the thought of having to plan a bit overwhelming? It’s probably the last thing you want to hear…again!

But not having a marketing plan makes your job harder and juggling all the harder to handle.

If you have a marketing plan, you can focus on the things that are necessary. In ‘The Trend Report: Marketing Strategy 2022, reported by CoSchedule, it was found that people who have a plan to market their business are 313% more likely to report success than those who don’t.

And, although it may seem very overwhelming, it really isn’t.

What should a marketing plan contain?

For starters, it doesn’t have to be 100 pages long – that won’t help you at all. It needs to be clear and short, realistic, and repeatable, as well as easy to understand so you can tweak it as you see fit in future months.

It needs to show:

  • Your Vision/Mission statement
  • The four Ps – products, pricing, place (where you’re going to sell what you do), and promotion (how you’re going to sell your products or services).
  • Market analysis – look at your competitors
  • Target market – who you are aiming your products/services at
  • Your goals or objectives
  • Your promotion strategies
  • What budget you have if any
  • How you’re going to measure the success of your plan

If you would like a simple to follow marketing plan, sign up to my email and receive your free ‘Marketing your small business workbook.’ This will help you get on the right track.

Don’t try to do too much

Trying to do too much can also cause you to do less. For example, I know businesses that are on five or six social media channels. It’s good if you have the time to manage them all, but my experience is that you’re likely to lose your motivation and abandon them one by one.

Trying to be seen everywhere is not easy to maintain long term, especially if your business is just you. So, I would always advise to focus on just a couple of social media, or online channels and do them well.

Be consistent, add plenty of value to your customers and have a goal – what you expect to achieve from your social media activity.

One of those online channels doesn’t have to be social media – it could be email marketing. To build a lucrative email list, it’s advised to have a lead magnet that entices people into subscribing to your email. I realise that email isn’t for everyone, but if your business is steadily growing, you engage with your audience regularly online, (and may be finding this is taking up too much of your time), the next option is to create an email subscription, where you can talk directly to your customers every week or month.  

  

Not everyone is your audience

I know I’ve posted about this recently on my social media pages, but one mistake that lots of small businesses make is to try to sell to everyone. Not everyone is your target audience, and by trying to target everyone, you risk selling to no one.

You need to know your audience, build a couple of buyer personas and tailor everything to them.

Don’t spend too much money

The word ‘budget’ is something guaranteed to send fear into most small businesses hearts. It’s not one of our favourite words, but it is important. Having a budget, no matter how small, can help your business.

There are so many digital marketing apps it is all too easy to keep subscribing to new apps. But while they might be individually cheap, they add up.

Look very carefully at what you spend your money on. Do you spend a lot on app or analytics tools? I do subscribe to Canva, and it’s worth every penny as I use it every day, but I have recently stopped subscribing to a few, as they were just a waste of money.

It is worth spending money on things you will use and will help you make your business more successful.

Here are a few ideas on what you can spend your marketing budget on:

  • A website (some people prefer to spend on things like Etsy or Shopify rather than a website as lots of the marketing can be done for you, but I feel it’s better to have your own website with built-in e-commerce, as you own it yourself
  • A registered domain
  • Training – so you learn more about things associated with your business
  • Paid ads – this needs very careful consideration to get the right kind of ad
  • If you are service based, you might want to invest in scheduling and measurement tools
  • Hire some professional help, such as a marketing coach, someone to help you with your business/marketing/social media strategy, or someone who can build your website, write blog posts, or set up your email marketing.

Don’t forget about your existing customers

Did you know that your existing customers are your biggest sales opportunity? Happy customers are loyal customers and are five times more likely to buy from again, and four times more likely to act as referrals.

Looking after your existing customers is worth the effort as losing customers who are no longer engaged or hear from you, are more costly. It’s harder to find new customers than it is to keep existing ones.

Keep your customers engaged with your business by offering them gifts, or discounts, listen to their feedback and act on it, or maybe think about creating some sort of loyalty programme.

Stay up to date with technology

This is a hard one, but most of what you do as a small business will be routine. There will be some daily tasks that need to be done to keep your business running smoothly. The more effective you become in completing these tasks, the more time you must work more on your business. For example, instead of physically posting on social media every day, batch make your content for the week and schedule it. You then only have to do this once a week.

Keeping up with the latest tools you can use to help you can ultimately save you time and money.

Mix up your marketing activity

Check out your insights on social media to find out what kind of posts work best for you and what doesn’t. Change the type of posts you do, try, and include things like reels and video, as well as short and long posts. Post your blog articles, and remember to use posts that entertain, educate, engage, and inspire your target audience, as well as selling posts.

Take a step back

In this article, I’m not telling you what to do, but what I am trying to encourage is to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It gives you time to assess what works and what doesn’t work for you.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of doing the same things, just because that’s the way you’ve always done it, or because that’s what everyone else does. But in business, time is precious and it’s good to remember to:

  • Create a clear marketing plan so you can focus on essential activities
  • Only concentrate on the social media platform that you love and that you enjoy
  • Sell to a targeted audience rather than trying to sell to everyone
  • Make your budget work for you in the most efficient way
  • Make your existing customers your priority. They will be the ones to buy more, give reviews, and are more likely to refer you to their friends and family

This is basically what a marketing strategy is all about and will help your business go from mediocre to marvellous! If you need help in pulling together your strategy, please feel free to take advantage of my free 30-minute discovery call, where I can give you some tips to help your business

Why is it important to understand your target audience?

You have a small business, you write beautifully crafted content, you engage on social media – but you’re still not selling. Why?

When you have a business, the ultimate decision about whether they are going to buy from you or not lies with your customers or potential customers. You can do as much as you possibly can to persuade people to buy your products or services, but without a strategy that provides personalised experiences for your ideal customer, you’re not likely to make many sales.

When you know who your target audience is and have a comprehensive understanding of who you’re talking to, you can create the right kind of content to attract that target audience. By having your own small business, you are competing with hundreds of other businesses who do the same as you, so having a marketing strategy is imperative to stopping your messages falling on deaf ears!

Why does your target audience matter?

I’d say that knowing your target audience is the most important part of your marketing strategy, for these reasons:

  • If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one. You don’t want to appeal generally to everyone out there, you need to appeal strongly to a specific group of people who are likely to want to do business with you…people you have a connection with.
  • If you know exactly who your audience are, you know what their pain points, or problems are. You can see their problems from their perspective and what obstacles they need to overcome to solve those problems. Then you can think about how your business can provide those solutions with your products or services.
  • Knowing your audience’s problems, you can work out how to market the solutions you have to their problems. You can show them how the features and benefits of your products/services can help them and why you are best suited to do that.
  • When you are creating content and forming new relationships with potential customers, you need to be able to speak their language. By this, I mean using the same terms and phrases that they use to describe their problems. Then you can build relationships by using that language to show that your business can solve those problems.
  • You target audience can also teach you how you can create better products and services that suit them best. You can use the understanding you have of their problems, along with any feedback

How do you identify your target audience?

Identifying your target market is all about three things: Demographics, Geographics and Psychographics. 

Demographics

  • What is their age and gender?
  • Are they married or living together?
  • Do they have children?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • If you know what they do for a living, what is their rough income?
  • Do they own their own home?


You can usually gain demographic information from your existing customers by simply talking to them. Social media accounts can also give you relevant demographic information. If your customers are on Facebook, for example, you can usually see information like date of birth, relationship status – people seem to love to share about their lives on social media, so you will probably see if they have children or grandchildren, what they do for a living etc.

  • You could also get this information from feedback you get. For example, if you make and produce quality rag dolls, you may have feedback that says, “Love your product, my daughter/grand-daughter loves her doll and hasn’t put it down since she received it.”  This tells you that your customer is a Mum and Grandma and that she likes buying things for her grandchildren.
  • Knowing the demographics of your existing customers makes it easier to tailor your marketing accordingly.
  • If you’re not sure who your target market it, go to Google and research some of your competitors, people who do the same as you, and look at their marketing techniques. Who are they targeting and how? What are the messages they are sending out? What images do they use? What media do they use to advertise? You will then have an idea of what direction you should be aiming for with your business. 

Geographics

This is the simplest – where do your target market live? Are they local to you? Just in a particular region? In the same country, but miles away – nationwide? Or international – in other countries?

Psychographics – why customers buy what they do

If demographics look at who your customers are, psychographics take you a bit further into their lives to find out why they buy the things they do. What motivates them and what makes them tick.

Psychographics include things like:

  • Interests
  • Activities
  • Religious beliefs
  • Attitudes
  • Personality
  • Spending habits
  • Lifestyle choices

If you combine the data you collect on the demographic and psychographics of your customers, you can paint a picture of what your potential buyer (or your buyer persona) will look like and who they are. Let’s have a look at one example …

Buyer persona 

Let’s say you’ve done your research, and this is what you have discovered…

Demographic data

  • Female, aged 40 – 55
  • Married with children
  • Household income around £45,000
  • Stay at home Mum who works part-time

Psychographic data

  • Interested in health and fitness
  • Likes to be eco-friendly
  • Is an active member on Facebook and Pinterest
  • Likes socialising with her small group of friends
  • Loves cooking

This demonstrates the difference between the two sets of data and why it’s important to gain both – you have more insight into what your customers might like. Then you can look at your products to see what would interest this kind of customer.

How do you make this relate to your business…and therefore your marketing? I’ll share some examples…

If you have a crafting business, for example, and your crafting activities were soap making or candle making, you’d know that this customer likes natural ingredients that are environmentally friendly and safe for children, so that could be part of your marketing angle.

If you are in the catering industry, making cakes or preserves, she might be interested in special birthday cakes for her family or in your preserves and pickles that use natural ingredients.

Her children are likely to have birthday parties and her friends are likely to have children of a similar age, so anything you make from a crafting perspective may be of interest – bunting for parties, toys, jewellery, etc. And as she enjoys socialising with her small group of friends, she may be interested in hosting an at-home party to buy your craft products.

Where to find her

Once you have this data, you’ll also know where to find her and this is especially important. She may attend local fitness clubs or gyms; she may visit a local spa; she will enjoy lunches out at restaurants or bars with her group of friends. This is where you could leave your flyers and business cards.

Now you know what your customer looks like and what she’s interested in, you can tailor blogs to suit her, you can make products you know she’ll like, and you can find out if she has any particular problem that your products can solve. 

How do your customers like to buy their products?

These days, I would hazard a guess that most of your customers will want to look at products/services online before they buy. They have such a wide choice that it’s important you make yours stand out. People spend their commute to work, breaks, lunch hour, evenings and weekends online, usually browsing through social media sites or looking for something specific. If you are not on these platforms then your products/services will not be found.

Selling online

Social Media is a great way to promote your products or services and to advertise what you do. But you also must bear in mind that not everyone is on social media. If your target market is in the older age bracket, they may prefer not to be on social media, so you will have to reach them another way.

Even though they don’t do social media, your target audience probably still uses the internet to search for things they want. You could set up an online shop.

A website is a crucial business tool – you can link it to your Social Media sites and vice versa. A website can help you reach a wider audience – it gives you a shop front that is open 24/7 – you can even sell when you are sleeping, and you can sell to anyone in the world!

You can put more information about yourself and your business and products or services that you can on social media and, if you have an online shop, you can point your customers to that site. Whatever you choose to do, there is always a marketing technique to support it. If you have a website, you can also choose to add a blog, which could also be a fabulous tool to write about your individual products or services … just another way to get your name/business out there.

I hope this article has given you the inspiration and information to dig deep into your target audience in more detail. I know that once you have all the relevant information, you’ll stand a much better chance of marketing your products or services in the right way…and get those sales.

Share this post to help other small businesses just like you.

The customer journey that wins customers

It doesn’t matter if you’re a big company, or a small business, we all must think about what our customers want and how we get them from that first stage, where they’ve just heard about your business, to the purchase and advocacy stage.

This is called the customer journey, and by making a journey map, you can plan your customers’ route, ensuring you meet their needs along the way. Does this sound complicated? Are you glazing over? It’s not as complicated as it sounds.

Knowing what your customers want

The first stage starts before your customers even know you exist. This is the part where you do your research to find out what people want and need from a business like yours…and knowing your ideal customer.

Let’s take sports trainers as an example. You could say that your ideal market is everyone, but it’s important to niche down to a narrower market in order for you to be able to target them with your content. So, are you going to concentrate on comfort, or go for pure fashion? Are you going to target younger people or older people? What colours do you want to go for? What style? So, before you can look at the customer journey, you need to know exactly who your customers are. You can do this by looking at your current customers, look at the insights on your social media pages and the analytics from your website.

Build a few buyer personas, so you know what your customers like, what they want and what makes them buy.

Stages of the customer journey

Stage 1 – Awareness

This is where your customers first hear about your business or have their first experience of what you offer. They see this largely through your marketing. It might be they google a product of yours and it appears on a search engine like Google. Google could point them to your website or online shop, it might show them your business profile on Google, or show your social media pages.

They may see a physical flyer, pick up your business card at an event, see an advert in a local magazine, or it might be someone you get talking to, who asks what you do. They also may hear about you through word of mouth from their friends or relatives.

Where and how you market your business will depend on their age and lifestyle, so that’s why knowing your target market is so important. If you are marketing to an older audience, for example, some of your marketing would probably be through Facebook. But if your audience is much younger, you would use as many social media channels as you can, especially TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. The younger generation spend most of their free time online, so that’s where you’re most likely to find them.

Typically, people must be exposed to your business at least eight times before they start to recognise it, so it’s not a quick process.

Stage 2 – Consideration

This is where your potential customers are looking at what you have to offer and are thinking about whether your products or services fit the bill for them. Do you solve a problem they have and are you the person to go with over others they’ve seen?

Basically, are you worth investing in?

Your customer reviews and testimonials are what makes a difference in this stage. They want to see social proof that you’re as good as they’ve heard you are.

This is also where blogs come into their own – articles that potential customers can read that give proof that you know your stuff. The same applies to email newsletters. They may even sign up to your newsletter months before they become a customer.

The other thing that influences potential buyers at this stage is what they can see. Good images of your products, with good descriptions, telling them the benefits of your products – how they help, what they do and how potential customers can’t live without it! How will your product or service make their lives better?

So, good images and video on your website, online shop and social media are crucial.

Stage 3 –   Purchase

They’ve liked what they’ve seen, are convinced you are the right person to buy from and they go to your website or online shop to buy.

At this stage, it’s vital that your website or shop is easy to navigate, that it’s easy to pay for what they want, and everything is crystal clear as to what they can expect from you.

If they ask questions at this stage, getting a timely answer is an absolute must. Customer service is also an important part of the customer experience and their journey and can make the difference between getting that actual purchase or them going away and never returning.

Stage 4 – Service

Service is about going that extra mile for your customers. That age-old adage that says the customer is always right must come into play here, whether you agree or not. If your customer service hits the mark, you won’t go far wrong.

Things like a quick and efficient delivery service, securely and nicely packaged. You can’t always control the postal service and delivery times, but so long as you get an order out quickly and stay connected with your customer, this will go a long way to enhancing their customer experience.

If something does go wrong, don’t try, and hide it – be up front with your customer and admit to any mistakes and take immediate steps to rectify it. This is where communication is key – replying to emails, replying to complaints quickly, trying to resolve any issues to keep things running smoothly.

Similarly, if you have customers who are happy and tell you they are happy with your service, reply to them too and thank them for their comments. Always reply to every comment on your social media posts, every email you receive and reply to any message you get on social media. If you come across as genuine and friendly, and as a business who really cares and values its customers, things will go well.

Stage 5 – Loyalty

Loyalty is as it suggests – encouraging customers to be loyal to your brand and business. It’s about encouraging them to come back for more.

Gaining new customers is something we all aspire to, but retaining your existing customers is also crucial to the success of your business. So how do you keep that loyalty?

Send thank you cards with their order and maybe offer a small discount for their next order or add in a little small gift.

Introduce a loyalty scheme, with a card, so each time they buy from you, they get points. When they reach a certain number of points or have bought from you a certain number of times, they get a free gift, or a voucher valued at a certain amount that they can spend on your products or services.

Don’t ignore your customers once they have the product they’ve ordered. Leave it a couple of weeks, then message them to ask how they’re getting on with your product and how it’s working for them. Don’t be afraid to ask for a review.

Quite naturally, we don’t always think to leave a review if we’re happy with something – people typically only think about reviews if they have a bad experience. Sometimes a little prompt is all they need to leave a review on your social media page or website.

Invite them to follow you on social media, read your blogs or sign up to your newsletter.

Stage 6 – Advocacy

Advocacy – where the customer becomes your fan and tells everyone about how wonderful your products and services are. They use their experience with you and your business to shape other potential customers’ opinions. They might comment on your posts or share posts on social media.

They might talk about this amazing product they’ve bought from you to their friends and family, or they might give great stories about how your service is one of the best they’ve come across.

How customers behave at this advocacy stage is dependent on how they were treated in the other stages. Often it’s down to the overall customer experience they had with you, your brand, and your business.

And there you have it – the customer journey in seven steps. If you’d like help with any of these stages, or want help with identifying your target market, so you are hitting the ground running, give me a call or email me. I’m always happy to help.

Tracking your 2022 small business progress

I can’t quite believe that I’m writing about your 6-monthly business review already – it doesn’t seem like that long ago, we were talking about Christmas and New Year! And yet here we are in July and thinking about how that first 6 months has panned out. Did you achieve your goals? Are things going as well as you hoped it would?

Contrary to some peoples’ beliefs, the 6-month review isn’t about beating yourself up for not achieving what you hoped you would, it’s more about standing back, looking at what went well, and looking for opportunities to take your business forward to success in the next 6 months.

In December, I published a post ‘How to conduct your small business annual review,’ and this post follows on from that, talking more about analysing how you’re doing.

Let’s look at the money!

OK, first things first, let’s get this bit done first. 2022 has not been a good financial year for anyone – inflation is through the roof, there is a war in the Ukraine, which has influenced fuel prices, and food prices are at an all-time high. Add to that, Covid is still raging away in the background. The world is in turmoil and most families are having to tighten their belts to survive. Small businesses have struggled, and still are, struggling to sell as much as they hoped.

Oh dear, this does paint a rather gloomy picture doesn’t it? I’m sounding a bit like Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh stories! I do apologise, but the point I am making is that if your business hasn’t done as well as you had hoped back in December/January, there are reasons for this.

The first thing to do is to look at your predicted sales at the beginning of the year and compare with your actual sales. If you have hit your goal, brilliant, that’s great news. Have a look at why you made the sales when you did:

  • What did you do to get those sales?
  • Did you have any special offers running?
  • Look at where each sale came from – how did they find your business? What made them buy your product? Did they give you a review? If yes, look at your reviews to see if anything needs to change, or if their review suggests a new product.

If you didn’t hit your goals, don’t panic! As I said earlier, it’s been a tough year for all businesses this year, small or large. Have a look at what you’ve done and try to find out why it didn’t work. What can you do more of, or do better, to raise your sales figures for the end of the year?

Analysing your small business marketing

The next thing to look at is your marketing. I know, I can hear you groaning from here! I adore marketing and love getting down to the nitty gritty, but it’s my job and my passion and I realise that not all small businesses share my enthusiasm!

So, let’s keep it short and simple:

  • Look at the goals you set at the beginning of the year. What have you achieved and what still needs more work? Have any of your priorities changed over the past 6 months? Do any of your goals need to change, become more challenging, or do you need to get rid of any that just aren’t now workable?
  • Look at your website analytics. You will have highs and lows on your figures. Look at the dates of the highs and see if they correspond with any particular campaign you may have been running at that time. Do the same for the low points. Then you’ll have an idea of what marketing activity gets people to your website. For example, if things were a bit quiet and you decided to do a Tenner Tuesday, for example, what impact did that have on your website stats?
  • Now look at your social media pages – look at the insights page. Most only go back over the past 3 months. Look at what posts were popular, and why they were popular. What made people engage with them? If you look at your top six posts and stories, you should see what draws people in. It could be that you published an educational video, or you went ‘live’ or published something amusing or inspiring. It always amazes me – what I think will be popular isn’t usually among my top four posts.

    Also, be honest with yourself – if you have more than one social media account, are you using them to the best of your ability and using your marketing tactics for all channels? If you find that one particular channel is not hitting the mark for you, you don’t get much engagement etc, you might want to ‘call time’ on that account. There is no point flogging yourself on a channel that just doesn’t work for you and your business. I tried Twitter and just didn’t like it, and it didn’t work well for me. No matter how much I read about using it properly, it just didn’t resonate with me, so I started to ignore it. In the end, I just binned it – it wasn’t for me – end of!
  • What else helped you with your marketing? Are you a member of any networking groups? These hugely help small businesses in my experience. Or maybe you attend networking groups or meetings in person. If you do, think about how the networking helps your business. Did you get more sales through networking?
  • Similarly, if you have attended any fayres or markets, were they worth the investment to go? Did they work for you and your business? They don’t work for everyone, so don’t feel despondent if you feel that they are not for you.

The next 6 months

Finally, it’s time to look forward. You now have the benefit of hindsight – I always say that hindsight is a wonderful thing!

From the goals you have, or have reset, how are you going to achieve them? What marketing tactics are you going to use to get to where you want to be by the end of the year?

If your business relies heavily on sales at Christmas, now is the time to start advertising, creating ads and campaigns that will see you through to the New Year. In general, people start planning for Christmas much earlier these days, so they can spread the inevitable cost. Once winter is here, with the cost of fuel, bills, and food set to rise in the Autumn, now is the time to hit the market with your wares, or at least be prepared to get your marketing tactics in place for the end of the summer.

We know that there is a huge lull in business during the early part of the year, so now is the time to plan whatever buzz you want to create to keep your business ticking over.

With all this in mind, planning is your best friend. Get that notebook out or set up a spreadsheet – however you like to do things. Plan your goals for the rest of the year, and how you will achieve them.

Celebrate!

And lastly, DON’T FORGET TO CELEBRATE! Celebrate all you have achieved so far – pat yourself on the back, give yourself a round of applause and shout about your successes on your social media pages. Any win, no matter how big or small, is a win. Take the chance to be proud of yourself and your small business. It’s all yours and you are the one who works hard to keep it going.

Good luck to each and every one of you.

If you need any help with your marketing, or with reviewing what you’ve done, or are just feeling generally overwhelmed and don’t know which way to turn, give me a shout. I’m happy to help.

cindymobey@outlook.com       

What makes your customers buy from you?

Understanding consumer behaviour

Have you ever wondered what makes some people choose one type of product and another person choose another? For example, why someone would prefer to buy a designer handbag, whereas someone else is happy with one she bought from a local small business. What drives our choices?

Studying consumer behaviour is fascinating, as I’ve found by researching this article. So, what is consumer behaviour?

It’s the study of how people buy, use, acquire and dispose of goods and services. It’s not just about buying either, it could be they acquire goods through bartering, lending or leasing. Behaviour can be affected by how much they use the goods they buy. For example, if someone buys a can of drink, it is consumed just the once, but if they buy a laptop or tablet, it would be used over a period of time. Buying behaviour depends on how much that product is used.

Consumers are also influenced by others, through reviews. If a product has great reviews, or if a consumer’s friends are raving about how good a product is, they are likely to buy it. But, if their friends are really slating a product, or it gets negative reviews, they probably wouldn’t buy it.  

There are several factors that influence how consumers make their buying choices. In this blog post, I’m going to talk about five of them…

  • Psychological
  • Social
  • Cultural
  • Personal
  • Economic

All of these factors can be split down further.

Psychological factors

How someone feels about a particular product when they are presented with it will depend on their state of mind. Their state of mind will determine not just how they feel about the item itself, but also about the brand as a whole.

Social factors

Most of us want to be accepted socially, and this can affect buying habits. In order to be socially accepted, some people will mimic others, including copying what they buy.

Family, friends, work colleagues or other groups will play an important part in the way people see different products or services. These groups all help to influence buying behaviours.

Cultural factors  

Culture is not just defined by a person’s nationality. It can also be defined by who they associate with, religious beliefs or even people living in the same geographical location.

Personal factors

Personal factors include age, occupation, marital status, budget, personal beliefs, values and morals.

Economic factors

Consumers are affected by the economic condition of a country. This is evident at the moment with inflation at an all time high – people can’t afford to buy too many luxuries, as they have to concentrate on paying the bills, putting fuel in the car and buying food.

Economic factors include personal income and how much disposable income is left after everything has been paid each month. It also includes family income – again, what’s left over that the family can enjoy.

Consumer credit is another factor. People have credit cards so can buy goods when they want to. Consumers are more likely to buy luxury and comfort goods if they have access to higher credit, or can pay through a credit card, easy instalments or bank loans. I’m not saying this is good – it’s just a factor.

    

The Five stages of the consumer buying process

Now you understand the factors that influence the buying process, lets look at the five stages people go through when deciding to buy.

  1. The problem. A consumer notices they have a problem they want to solve. This could be anything from needing to get a new outfit for a special event, to buying a new tap for their sink.
  2. Research – the next stage is to research how to fix their problem. This might be trawling the internet for recommendations, or to look at various sites that sell what they’re after. It might be talking to a friend or family member for their advice.
  3. Find a solution – once they have all the information they need, they can start comparing brands and looking at reviews to help them decide on a solution.
  4. Buy a product – the consumer makes a decision and decides to spend their money on the solution they’ve chosen.
  5. Review the product – some consumers will leave a review about the product they’ve bought – some won’t. Either way, they will still personally review the product and decide whether they would recommend it to others…and whether they’d buy from that brand again.    

The four types of buyers

It’s also worth knowing about the four different types of buyers, so you can market your products or services accordingly. The four types are different, based on what motivates them to buy.

  1. The analytical buyer – this person is motivated by logic and needs to have lots of information. They want to look at all the data on the different brands and different types of products available before making an informed decision.
  2. The amiable buyer – this person is warm and friendly and just wants everyone to be happy. They can often be stumped by having to make big decisions, especially if there is a perception of a win/lose outcome.
  3. The driver buyer – this type of buyer is really concerned with how others view them, and whether they should follow the trend setters. Drivers are most concerned with their appearance rather than the relationships that are formed during a transaction.
  4. The expressive buyer – this buyer is driven by relationships. They hate the feeling of isolation and don’t like being ignored during a transaction. They like to feel as though they are your most important asset.

This being said about the four types of buyer, it’s difficult to put everyone into one category – people will often fall into a combination of the four.

Conclusion

As you can see, consumer behaviour is influenced by many things; psychological, social, cultural, personal and economic.

It’s also worth knowing the buying process and the types of buyers – this can help you figure out how you can reach and influence the people that are most likely to buy your products.

If you’d like to take a more in-depth look at your customers and target market, get in touch for a free discovery call.

How to make customer feedback work for you

What do you do when you get a fabulous comment or review about your product or service? Do you just say thank you with lots of hearts, or tell them you’re over the moon that they love your products or services? I suspect that most of us do exactly that. But, if you then do nothing else…because you got a good review…you could be missing important information that could help you grow your business even more, with advocates who love what you do.

What is customer feedback?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably the owner of a small business. You give your all to your business…your time, your energy, and a big part of you personally goes into making your business a success. You do this to ultimately make money from your business, but you also want to have happy customers who believe in what you do and love your products or services.

Customer feedback is the information that your customers give telling you if they are happy with what you provide. It could also be about your customer service. It’s their opinion, a snapshot in time, of the experience they’ve had in their dealings with you or your business.

  • Does getting good customer feedback make you feel good?
  • Do you take it personally if you don’t get a 5-star rating?
  • Do you see positive feedback as confirmation that your products/services are great?

I’m betting that you answered ‘yes’ to these questions. Getting a fabulous review makes all of us feel good, and the positive feedback shows that you are doing something right with your products or services. And, let’s face it, we all hate getting negative feedback, and it’s easy to take it personally if you don’t get a 5-star rating every time, but it does happen. You shouldn’t see it as a reflection of you as a person, it’s just that a particular customer didn’t feel that a 5-star rating was right. Hold that thought!

Customer feedback

Why is customer feedback important?

If some of the big companies who receive 5-star reviews were happy with that and left it at that, they would never progress their company. But they don’t do that…

Customer opinion is a great resource and gives the perfect excuse to find ways to improve the customer experience. You can collect information in many ways, from surveys (which is prompted feedback), to reviews that your customers post online (unprompted feedback). Both are important in seeing the bigger picture on how your customers perceive your brand. Big companies consistently listen to their customers – they don’t just look at the opinions that their clients leave online, or publish on social media/websites, they are also proactive in asking for feedback, by asking specific questions. If you want to stay at the top and consistently be ahead of your competition, you should always take feedback as a gift – prompted or unprompted, positive, or negative.

So, what does customer feedback give you?

  • It helps you improve your products and services. Whenever you launch something new, its success will be decided by your customers, as they are the ones who will be using it. They are in the perfect place to let you know about the quality, usefulness, aesthetic etc. They can also advise of any improvements they’d make, or how it could better meet their needs.
  • It tells you a lot about customer satisfaction. Feedback tells you about how they feel about your business. If you ask for feedback, yes, you could be inviting some negativity, but that’s not a bad thing, as you can work to improve it. For example, if you are in a restaurant and you’re not happy with a particular meal, or part of a meal, the restaurant would want you to tell them. Why? So, they can improve. If you don’t say anything, but just never come back, they don’t have that chance to put it right and make it better for other diners in the future. That’s why a lot of restaurants ask for feedback on their websites.
    You don’t have to conduct massive surveys; you can simply take a random sample of your customers and speak to them on the phone.
  • Your customers will feel valued. Following on from the last point, if you ask your customers for feedback, they will feel like you care about what they think, and they’ll feel involved. If you show that you genuinely care and value their opinion, they are more likely to give good feedback and to recommend you to their family and friends. Even a customer who complains can be turned into a loyal advocate if you take the time to speak to them about their concerns and come up with a solution…sometimes they’re not even complaining, they just have a suggestion, which may actually help you. They will feel involved if you take their suggestion and implement it!
  • It helps you provide a better customer service. There are times when, through no fault of your own, things go wrong. For example, a delivery is late arriving, or maybe the orders have got a bit mixed up and they receive the wrong order. These things can happen, we’re all human!
    If you have something in place, whereby customers can easily contact you to discuss their problems, it’s more likely you’ll be able to resolve it. The quicker you respond to a complaint, no matter how small, the more likely you’ll be able to earn loyalty in the future. Don’t take it personally – this is a hard one, but I really can’t reiterate this enough. A customer has a right to tell you about their problem, and nine times out of ten it can be resolved easily. However, of course, there will be the odd time that something can’t be resolved, and if it can’t, it’s best to say so, offer a refund or an alternative, and move on. But this is extremely rare.
  • It helps you retain your existing customers. Caring, listening, showing you value opinions, and being genuine with your customers are all things that will encourage them to stay loyal to you. As they get to know you, your business, and your brand, they will understand what you stand for and what you believe in. They will be able to relate to you and will trust you – these are the things that will make a customer stay loyal to a brand.
  • Helps gain more customers. Someone who buys online will have looked at many other businesses before they decide to buy. None of us automatically buy from every business we come across, and we don’t tend to buy from businesses we have never heard of. 90% of online shoppers read online reviews before buying. This is where feedback is crucial. Word of mouth is also seriously underrated. People will buy from a business that has been recommended to them by a family member or from friends. If you don’t encourage reviews, you are shutting the door to new business, so make it easy for customers to leave a review. It’s important for new visitors to see what others have to say – and to see how you respond to your customers, so ALWAYS reply.
  • Helps you with your future strategies. If you know your customers, know what they like and dislike, you are in a much better position to make plans for the future of your business. Feedback helps you know where you can improve, what kind of products or services are popular, and what they might like to see from you in the future. This can only be a good thing.

Conclusion

Customer feedback is an important resource for all businesses, no matter how big or small. It measures the success of your products or services, and can help you develop new products or services, as well as helping you decide on new strategies for your future.

You can collect customer feedback via your online shop, your website, through social media, sending surveys, through a live chat or via messenger, or by simply picking up the phone and speaking to them – you could even do this via video chat.    

Don’t take things personally if you get a little negativity – see it as an opportunity to turn things around and make that customer your biggest fan.

Listen to your customers, make them feel that their opinions matter and don’t be afraid to ask them questions about your business. It can only help you improve, and ultimately will result in loyal customers who trust and believe in you, your business, and your brand.

Is Mr. Procrastination knocking on your door?

What is procrastination and how can you deal with it?

Procrastination is where you delay or postpone something…not necessarily because you don’t want to do it, but you just keep putting it off. It can show itself in a simple way – such as keep pressing the snooze button on your alarm to avoid getting up. But when it starts to interfere with your work, you need to take action.
It can occur for several reasons: poor time management, lack of organisation, low motivation, inability to concentrate, unrealistic expectations of yourself or your business, personal problems, negative beliefs about your capability, low self-confidence, perfectionism, or anxiety and fear related to failure and success.
Everyone who has a business will have experienced procrastination at some point, but it can become very debilitating if you lose control of it. So, what can you do? You need to know why you procrastinate before you can address it.

Reasons why you may be prone to procrastination

Your business may not be making progress as quickly as you’d like

When you first start your business, you are full of enthusiasm, it’s exciting and you are positive about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Your body releases dopamine when it experiences excitement…and that feeling is what fires you up and keeps you going in the beginning.
But after a while, as with any business, you will hit a few lows, and this can have the knock-on effect of making you feel things aren’t as good as they were. Negative thoughts can start to creep in…
• Are you going to get rewarded for all the hard work you’ve done?
• Is all this work worth it?
• Will you ever make it really successful?
And so, Mr. Procrastination knocks the door, and it’s very easy to open the door and let him in.

You just don’t know where to begin

Procrastination can also rear its ugly head when you start to feel overwhelmed by your business. You have seemingly endless to-do lists, your goals seem to be slipping away, and it all seems just too much of a mountain to climb.
You may notice that you start to only concentrate on the things you like doing, rather than the things that are urgent and important. By doing this you are in danger of not focussing on what will move your business forward…instead you stay smack bang in the middle of your comfort zone. But then your business starts to stagnate, and this is where procrastinating can be a danger to the future of, what was, an exciting prospect.


You’re scared you’ll make the wrong decisions

This is a very common reason. After all, we are only human, and we all live in fear of making a wrong choice. Some of you may feel that if you do make the wrong decision, you could ruin what you have already, so you either do nothing, or do things in a very haphazard way, which can be more damaging to your business…and to your mental health.
You may have heard the phrase, ‘you don’t fail, you learn.’ I know I have used this myself, and it’s true, but it’s better to try and avoid that feeling of failure as much as you can. It’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes – everyone does, and some spectacularly (!), but it’s the fear of failing that is more debilitating that the actual failure!
It might be that you really worry what other people might think, and you care about other peoples’ opinions. It’s great to aim high, so long as you can remember that none of us is perfect.


You just hate a particular task

When you run your own small business, there are loads of tasks to get done. You only have yourself to rely on and this can lead to stress, especially if some of the tasks are dull or just plain boring.

Now, if you can afford it, you could outsource those irritating tasks to someone who does them for a living – get yourself an online assistant.

However, when you have a small business, especially if you’ve not been going for long, it’s unlikely you’ll have the money to invest in this kind of help straight away.

How can you overcome procrastination?

First, ask yourself some questions. Most of the time we know why we are letting Mr. P in. If you don’t know where you are with your business, you won’t be able to get to where you want to be.
• Are you setting yourself unrealistic goals?
• Are you putting unnecessary pressure on yourself?
• What are the consequences of NOT getting this done? (Whatever it is)
• What are the benefits of getting it done?
• What is getting in the way?
If you can answer these questions, you can start to plan what to do to stop the procrastination.

Here are a few tips

• First, forgive yourself. It’s happened and you need to let it go and move on.
• Secondly, look at your working environment. Is your desk a mess, with paper all over the place? Tidy up before you start, make sure you have a glass of water and that you’re comfortable.
• It might seem that everything is urgent or important, but the truth is, many things can be adjusted, or deadlines moved back. A good strategy to coping is something called The Eisenhower Matrix.

This is where you break down your tasks into Urgent/Important, Urgent/Less Important, Less Urgent/Important, and Less Urgent/Less Important. If you can categorise your tasks into these different areas, you can see where you need to focus your time and energy.
• One you have all your tasks categorised – take one of the tasks you hate and break it down into the steps you need to follow to complete it. Write it down.

Then break each step into a smaller task and give yourself a timeframe to complete it. Write it down! For example, you could set your alarm for immediately before lunch – when your alarm goes off, switch off all distractions and just do that first step. Then reward yourself with a nice lunch. Breaking a task down into more manageable chunks really helps you to concentrate and just get the job done. And you have a reward to look forward to.
• One of the most important things to remember to avoid procrastination is to remove distractions. For example, I work from a desktop. I know that if I leave Facebook on, I’ll see it flashing if I get a message. I can’t ignore it – I just can’t! I must open it – then I’m distracted and can easily lose an hour as I’ll start scrolling. The same applies to email or any other social media site. Switch off your distractions, so you can totally focus on the task in hand.
• For each task you decide to do, look at it and decide how long it’s going to take you. Give yourself a challenge, for example, I’m going to complete this task in 1 hour and 20 minutes. Then next time you must do this task, challenge yourself to knock off 10 minutes from that time. You’ll feel more of a sense of achievement if you deliver ‘on time’ – even if it’s your own set time!
• Think about what time of the day you are more effective. I know that I work better, harder, and more quickly in the morning. As soon as I stop and have lunch, I seem to relax and can find it hard to concentrate. So, I do the things that are the hardest, or that I hate doing most in the morning. I know I’m more likely to get it done before lunch than I am afterwards.

Conclusion

Procrastination can be a tough cookie to crumble, so be prepared. You will have the odd relapse, but it’s about learning to recognise the signs that procrastination is near. If you can learn to manage your procrastination, you will be able to reduce your stress, build your confidence and build your business.

If you need help to get your business organised, or don’t know where to start to sort out your priorities, drop me an email or message.

cindymobey@outlook.com or click here to send a message.