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.

Don’t underestimate the value of Word of Mouth Marketing

What is Word of Mouth Marketing?

Word of Mouth Marketing seems like a pretty obvious one, but it is absolutely crucial to your business. It’s when your customer’s interest in your products or services is spoken about in their daily lives. In simple terms, it is free advertising generated by the experiences that your customers have with your business. This can be anything from a great customer service experience, where you have gone the ‘extra mile’ to help them with a problem, or maybe solved a problem they didn’t realise they had. Something extraordinary, or just a product or service that they are really pleased with and want to tell their friends and family all about it.

It really is one of the most powerful forms of advertising as 92% of consumers trust their friends over traditional media, according to The Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising.

Word of Mouth Marketing (or WOM Marketing) includes viral, blogs, emotional and social media marketing.

Example of WOMM

WOMM is all about creating a buzz around your business – your products or services. The more you interact with your potential target market and with your existing customers, the more the name and reputation of your business will spread. It kind of creates a snowball effect. For example, say you own a restaurant. You create a comfortable atmosphere, the food is great, the service is exemplary, BUT, not only do you do that, you make every single customer feel special. Their dining experience is perfect because you have gone above and beyond to exceed their expectations. When they leave the restaurant, they will leave a review on your social media site; they might tweet about the fabulous service they received, about what a great place it is to eat and what a wonderful time they had. That’s great, but the snowball effect is that they will not only leave a review or tweet, they’ll also talk to their friends and family about what a great night out they had, and tell them they ought to try out your restaurant. This is part of the ‘creating a buzz’ scenario. And this can be followed up by you…

ALWAYS reply to reviews and feedback; thank customers for their comments and say how pleased you are that they enjoyed their meal at your restaurant. If you have a website, point them to the website to sign up to your newsletter, so they will be informed when you have special events on, (you might have live music nights, for example or do a special ‘Curry night’ or ‘Chinese night’). And advertise these events on your social media pages for those that don’t choose to sign up to a newsletter, (they’re not for everyone)!

Ask your customer who has left a glowing review if you can use it for your marketing. Share the review on your other social media sites, website and in your newsletter as ‘proof’ that your place is the best! If you get some really glowing reviews, you could ask the customer a few questions about why they enjoyed that particular evening – what made it special for them? Then you could turn this into a mini case study as to why your customers enjoy your restaurant…and give your customer his five minutes of fame, whilst at the same time making him feel very valued and that his opinion really does matter to you.

It’s all about TRUST

If a customer feels that he or she is listened to and valued, they will start to have an emotional bond to a particular business. This is the reason that most large Corporates have a whole team of people, who talk to their regular customers to discuss products, either with a personal visiting service, via a review of products the customer has (insurance products for example), or on the telephone. This works well as the customer feels that the company cares about them and is interested in what they are likely to do next in their lives. Let’s face it, this kind of interaction is not only to make sure that customer has the right insurance products, it’s also a fact finding mission to find out if there is anything else that could be sold to them in the future. But the point is that the customer feels that the company they have chosen cares about them.

No matter how big or how small your business is, TRUST is a huge issue and one that needs to be nurtured with every customer you have. If they trust that you have their best interests at heart, that you genuinely care about them and value their opinions, they will be loyal to you and will always be willing to try out new products or services that you offer. And, they’ll tell their friends that you have a new offer going on!

Can’t I just make up some great reviews?   

Yes, of course you can, but this wouldn’t really achieve very much as you won’t have that real person going around telling their friends all about you. It may help you attract new business, but you’re starting off from a deception. There is an official body in the USA that has crafted a code of ethics for the industry.

“The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) is the official trade association dedicated to word of mouth and social media marketing. Founded in 2004, WOMMA is the leader in ethical work of mouth marketing practices through its education, such as WOMMA Summit, professional development opportunities, and knowledge sharing with top industry marketers. WOMMA’s membership is made up of the most innovative companies committed to progressing the word of mouth marketing industry through advocacy, education and ethics.”

https://expertfile.com/organizations/WOMMA-Word-of-Mouth-Marketing-Association

The word of mouth marketing strategies they promote are “credible, social, repeatable, measurable and respectful” and there is no tolerance for dishonesty.

How is WOMM different to referral marketing?

Word of Mouth Marketing is about creating that buzz, no matter what kind of business you have, how big or how small you are, or the kinds of products or services you offer. The more you engage with people, the more the name of your business and your business ethics will spread. It’s all about the snowball effect.

Referral marketing, on the other hand, is a more focused and targeted marketing media. It focuses your attention on a specific person to actively encourage that one person to refer their friends. It is a segment of WOMM, but it’s a more proactive way of generating new customers. You have control over the whole referral process to convert a particular customer to buy your products or services. This could be through the use of funnels, for example.

How to do WOM Marketing

Engage with your customers and potential customers, not just collect them. You might have hundreds, or even thousands of followers on your social media account, but are they all interested in what you do or sell? Or are they just there, not really interested, but more of a ‘follow for follow’ basis? Do they interact with what you post? Do they feel that connection with you? It’s about building engagement, building a relationship with followers that are genuinely interested in what you do and feel a connection to your business. The more passionate they are about you, your business, your products, your services, the more likely they are to share what you do, share your posts and tell people about their experiences.  

 

If you set yourself up a strategy, there are things you can do to increase the WOM around your business…things like a partner programme, affiliate marketing and using reviews.   

Your biggest marketing asset is your existing customer base, so create something worth talking about and encourage your existing customers to talk about it too.

  • People trust their friends and what they have to say. Ask customers to refer a friend…you can give incentives to encourage that. For example, refer a friend and get 10% off their next order or get a free gift.  
  • When a customer has bought something from you, or used your services, ask them to leave a review.
  • From the reviews that you get, identify something about your brand that has the possibility to generate a buzz or create something new that will generate that buzz.
  • Get your existing customers on board – you could create a competition, with the winner receiving your new product or service.  

Word of Mouth Marketing is a free and easy way to promote your business, but does take a bit of time and hard work. Gaining trust and engagement with your business is a two-way street, but when it works, you will have meaningful relationships with people who will become your best brand ambassadors.

How to reach your target audience

Once you have identified who your target audience is, the next thing to do is to find them! How do you do that?

Hopefully this article will answer those questions and fulfil the main goal of marketing…get the right message to the right audience, at the right time!

Here are a few ways that will help you decide how you can best connect with your target audience.

  • Any marketing you do needs to speak directly to that audience you have defined. This does sound pretty obvious, but so many people think that their products are universally appealing so are targeting everybody. It’s nice to think that is possible, but it is seldom true and that mind-set can get in the way of talking to the right people.
  • The next thing to do is to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. It is most likely that they won’t know much about your brand, products or services as well as you do, so by seeing what you offer through different eyes, you can look for potential weaknesses or misunderstanding. Then the right messaging can be crafted.
  • Now you need to identify the best channels that will speak to your target audience. Now, there is not just one answer here, it will all depend on who your target audience are. So, when you did the research into your target market, what do they turn to for information?

    Do they read local magazines or newspapers? If they do, a local ad might do the trick.
    Do they listen to local radio? Could you get an ad on the radio or get in touch with the radio station and ask to be interviewed?
    Do they use social media and if so, what sites do they use? It’s no good putting everything on Twitter and Instagram, if they mainly use Facebook, for example.     

Building a communication/PR strategy  

Once you know who your audience are and where they like to get their information, now you need to get that information out to them. This does mean having some kind of strategy…I don’t mean another long and arduous document that you’ll do and never look at again, but a more pointed plan. So, let’s look at the strategies you could use…

Social Media

This pretty much goes without saying – most target audiences these days are on social media in one form or another. Social Media is a great way to engage people in conversations with your business. You can encourage people to follow your page by creating ‘follow’ buttons on your website that link to your social media pages. If you send out a regular email to your customers, add a follow button on that to get them engaged with your social media pages. You can also use ads on social media to attract followers.

Post content that you know will interest them and they’ll find value in. Ask questions in your posts and remember the 80/20 rule. 80% engagement and building a following and only 20% actually selling a particular product. If you only ever post details of your products and cost, people will lose interest. They like to get to know the person behind the brand, so engage with video content, podcasts, inspirational quotes, funny quotes, ask questions that may be related loosely to your product or service, do a ‘this or that’ – do you prefer coffee or tea for example. There are loads of different post ideas in one of my previous posts.

Get into publications they read

If you know that your target audience like reading hard copy material, like magazines, trade publications or newspapers, you could put a small ad in it. You could also contact the publication direct and ask if your business could be featured. If it’s a newspaper, pitch a story idea to a journalist who writes for the newspaper, or ask if you can be interviewed. Alternatively, you could write an article and then submit it with a pitch to the relevant publication. This isn’t easy, but there are a few free courses and articles online about how to pitch to this type of media.

If you know that your audience read certain blogs, contact the blog owner and ask if you could write a guest blog article. Make sure that your SEO is on point with this, and also check the SEO on your website. It needs to be good to appear high in search engines, so take a look at your website and make sure it hits the mark, so it will be seen by your target audience.

Networking events

Join local networking events, as this is a great way to meet your target audience and talk about your business. Even better, if you can get a speaking spot to talk about a particular area of your expertise. You’ll not only be speaking about something that is relevant to your business and your target audience, you’ll also get the chance to mingle with your target audience afterwards. If you get a spot as a speaker, the event will be advertised with your name and subject, so you know that people interested in what you have to say will be in the audience.

Creative Content

OK, so now you know where and how to connect with your audience and how, let’s look at the content you share in more detail. This can be written content, video or podcast. It’s good to try out all the different forms of communication.

Appeal to emotions

People in general, are more easily moved to take action by their emotions than by anything else. Sometimes even good old logic goes out the window when emotions are involved.

For example, some of the big cat food manufacturers advertise on TV. Although the ads do focus on ingredients and how good it is, the product is mainly sold by the cute kitten talking to itself, or running around playing…or just sat there looking cute. There’s one brand of cat food that is described as ‘gourmet’ food. The cat in that ad is a pampered, long haired pedigree that looks a cut above the rest. This kind of advertising, using the right kind of images or video is what helps sell that product.

Solve a problem

If you have done your research on your ideal customer, you will know what problems they have…and how you can solve them. You just need to let them know that you can fulfil their needs and solve their problems. And, whilst it’s important to give the features of your product or service, all your customers really want to know is ‘what is in it for me?’ So, solve a problem they have and you are more than halfway there.

The time factor

Time, or the lack of it, is also a great marketing ploy. If you can communicate that your product or service saves people time, whilst also giving them what they want, for a price they can afford, you’ll be onto a winner. It’s a very busy world and people are constantly looking for ways to save time, so they are happy to listen to anyone who can help them save some of that precious time…and solve a problem for them at the same time!

DON’T push the sales angle

As I said earlier, use the 80/20 rule. I absolutely hate it when I sign up for something online – it might be a freebie, it might be something I pay for and in order to get it, I give my email address. I’ve not got a problem with that, but if I then get bombarded with emails in my inbox, I not only find it irritating, it’s usually about selling the same thing, something better, something bigger. OK, I get it, I’m happy to be asked once or twice, but some people send several emails a day over several weeks. In my mind, that’s just unprofessional and pushy. So I’ll unsubscribe…and might actually miss out on something I would have liked a few weeks down the line. I just can’t stand the hard sell. So it’s definitely about the getting the right balance on pitching products/services and engagement and building a loyal audience.

Ask questions

In order to connect fully with your target audience, you need to really know them. Ask existing customers and potential customers for feedback, so you can gain more information about their needs and wants. This could be via a poll on social media, or a survey to their inbox. There is no better way to get information about your audience than to ask that audience itself. You will gain great insight into what makes them tick and find out what they need, or what problems they might have. Then you can work to provide that need or solve that problem.  

Share and improve your Brand

Talk about your brand values in your content. This will engage people with the same values as you and will help you identify with your audience and to connect with them on a deeper level.  

Stand back and take a good, long look at your brand image. Read your website and social media pages through the eyes of your target audience. Does it speak to them in the way you thought it did? What could you do differently to improve it? Is your brand warm and inviting, or cool and aloof? Does it connect with your target audience? The way people perceive your brand goes a long way to deciding whether or not they will become a paying customer.   

Publish a case study

Whether you provide a product or a service, you will have a case study to share…a happy customer, someone whose life you made easier, or whose problem your product or service solved for them. What better way to advertise your business, than to interview a happy customer and ask them how your business helped them and why it is so good. This makes your business more real to your audience. It also gives your target audience the reasons why buying from you is such a great idea.

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s crucial to have a connection or a two-way conversation between your business and your target audience. It’s also really important to realise that, just because you have identified your target audience and identified how to get to them, that your job is done. Far from it I’m afraid. Every post you make, every campaign you run will show you how to do a better job next time around. And if you continue to ask for feedback and are willing to take criticism and ideas on board, tweaking what you do, you will get more and more effective results.

Marketing Mix – the 7 Ps

The marketing mix is not a new concept – it was first created by Jerome McCarthy in 1960 and consisted of the 4 Ps of marketing; Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Then in 1981, Booms & Bitner added three more Ps to the marketing mix; People, Processes and Physical evidence and these 7 Ps are now the set of key principles that are at the heart of all marketing strategies…often just referred to as the ‘Marketing Mix’.

How do the 7 Ps work?  

If we look at all of the Ps, one at a time, you will have a better understanding of basic marketing theory and a great foundation with which to pull together your marketing strategy.

The 7 Ps of marketing are a set of key principles that belong at the very heart of your marketing strategy. They are sometimes jointly referred to as the marketing mix.

The starting point, as most marketers know, when pulling together a marketing strategy is to identify your target market, so you know who your customers are, what they like and dislike and what makes them tick. Once you know this, you can look at the 7 Ps.  

Product

Every product you sell, make, produce or think about making should have your customer at the very heart. It should solve a problem for them, or be something they need or want. It’s worth asking yourself, ‘What is it about my product that makes your customers want to buy it?’ Do you need to change or tweak your products in any way to meet your customers’ needs?

Your products should also be of good quality, and the research that you have done on your target market will give you the information you need to know about their tastes and their buying habits, so you can market your product in the best way possible to get the most sales.

Price  

There are lots of different things to consider when setting your price for a particular product or service you provide. Obviously it needs to be deemed as good value for money by your customers, but you need to take into consideration the costs of producing, promoting and delivering your product.

You also have to take the cost of a similar product that is sold by your competitors. Finding the right price for your goods is not just about undercutting the competition or offering a cheaper alternative. It’s about finding out, during your market research, what price your customer is willing or used to paying for products or services that are similar to yours.

For example, when you go to the supermarket to buy shampoo, whether you’re aware of it or not, you will probably buy a brand that is in what you consider to be in your price range. But, at the same time, you’ll probably look at other similar products on the shelf and are likely to try something outside of your habitual price range, just to try it…even though a cheaper alternative might be available! So, people don’t always go for the cheapest option.  

Place

Your product should be where your customers expect to find it. So where and how are you going to sell your products? Do you sell them yourself or outsource them to retail outlets? Do you sell from home via an online shop, sell online from your own website, or do you put them on a big selling website like Amazon? You might be a small concern and sell via party plan or on Social Media sites. It might be a combination of several ways.

Whichever way you choose, it must be where your customers will expect to find your products, and you need to take into account the shelf life of your products, so if you stock them yourself, you don’t find yourself with hundreds of products coming to the end of their shelf life and you can’t shift them.

Promotion

This links into the place because, just as you need to put your product where potential customers can find it, you need to think about how you will let them know about your products through advertising.  And it needs to be where they will look and also what they look for. For example:

  • Social Media sites
  • Content marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Promotions and campaigns
  • Exhibitions or trade stands
  • PR
  • Direct mail
  • Personal selling
  • Advertising in newspapers, magazines, on radio etc.

People

This refers to the people who get your products out in the public eye, which includes you! Anyone who you employ or enlist help from to promote your business, or deliver a promotion or campaign need to have the necessary skills, qualities and drive to ensure its success.

You, and they, need to have excellent communication skills and deliver excellent customer service. After all, this is your reputation at stake and how you and anyone you employ behaves, impacts the way your customers will perceive you and your brand. You might need to delegate some of the work to a Social Media Manager, for example, who will know when and how to promote, and importantly, what will work best for your business. So, you need people around you who are like-minded, will effectively market your brand and encourage customers to spread the word about your products or services. And, never forget to keep learning and training yourself and your employees to develop new and relevant skills that will further enhance your business.

Process

The processes are what is involved in delivering your products to your customers. How your products are delivered will have a huge impact on the overall customer experience, their satisfaction levels and whether they will be loyal to your business in future. It’s absolutely vital to get this right from the very start.

Processes include:

  • Website experience – is your website easy to navigate? Are your contact details in a prominent or obvious place so you are easy to do business with?
  • Delivery time – do you have a good delivery process? Is it reliable? Does your website and product description (if selling online), tell people about delivery times and what they should expect?  
  • If your products are in a physical shop, what are the waiting times? Do they have to pre-order or can they just find the product in stock and in-store?
  • Aftercare – this is important too. Do you follow up after a sale to ask if the customer is happy with the product? If you do, and they are happy with your product, ask for a review to be left on your website or social media pages, or ask them to recommend their friends and family. You could even offer a 10% discount off their next purchase if they recommend you and that person buys from you.

Physical evidence

Finally, the last P, is physical evidence. This refers to absolutely everything that your customers see and feel when interacting with your business. From the feelings your customers have when visiting a physical environment, such as a shop or office, to the area where you show your products or services, which may be online.

It cover all the physical equipment, such as invoices, receipts, confirmation emails, ‘thank-you’ cards, packaging and branding. All of these things make up the impression that customers will have at every stage of an interaction with you and your company or brand. People expect excellence in every aspect of business and they should get the quality and service that they expect…and of those that are set as industry standards.

It also includes how you act and relate to your customers. Are you awkward and aloof, or relaxed and friendly?

All these factors contribute to the overall customer experience, so make sure that your customers have a great one!   

Benefits of using the 7 Ps in your marketing planning

The 7 Ps gives you a fantastic framework for your marketing planning. It will help you do a thorough job, so for each product you sell, or service you provide, ensure that each one follows the best practices of the 7 Ps. After all, it is referred to as the ‘Marketing Mix’ – it is the right marketing mix to put in place to make sure that each campaign, each project, each product will be successful. The 7Ps can also help you look at previous projects or campaigns that were not successful. I’m sure you’ll find that they weren’t in line with the 7Ps.

As I said at the very beginning of this article, the 7 Ps are a set of key principles that are at the heart of all marketing strategies. They help make the different between instinct-led marketing and process-led marketing, which in most cases is a more sure-fire way to success.

I hope this article has helped you to understand how the 7 Ps fit in and why they are such an important part of marketing theory. Let me know what you thought about this article in the comments below.

How to identify your target market

Your customers are your biggest assets; they love your brand, buy your products or services, recommend you to friends and family, give you rave reviews and are loyal to your business. It totally makes sense to have a customer-first mind-set and this is now firmly embedded in the culture of most big corporations. They recognise and understand that building the right customer relationships are crucial; it not only builds trust and loyalty, but also results in repeat business and recommendations. This is just as important, if not more so, with the small business. It’s not something that can be achieved overnight, but if you work on getting to know your customers like the back of your hand, your business will succeed. 

You can’t successfully market your business if you don’t know who you’re targeting. Who is your ideal customer? What is their persona? Why would they want to buy your particular products or services? All these questions and more need to be answered so you know what your ideal customer looks like and what makes them tick. Then you will be better placed to target them with your marketing.

Identifying your target market is all about three things; Demographic, 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 really 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

Interests

You might think this relates to hobbies, but it’s more than that. It’s more about what you’re interested in, rather than partake in. It’s probably the most telling feature on the list as ‘interests’ covers a wide range of things. Interests will include life experiences and are shaped by all sort of things, such as culture, upbringing and socioeconomic status.

For example:

  • If you have a child, you will be interested in raising them. You will look on Google for ways to be a better parent, how to keep them amused, how to deal with certain problems etc. You will spend time during the day automatically learning how to be a good parent and thinking about being a good parent, as well as playing with and talking to your child.
  • You may be interested in getting fit. You might want to change the way you look by losing weight, gaining weight, toning up muscles. This might have an impact on what you eat and drink, how you spend your time and where you go. You might go running, go to the gym, do a line dancing or salsa class!
  • You might be interested in getting rich, so will be interested in how people get rich quick, in celebrities and their lifestyles. You might google ‘get rich quick’ schemes or business opportunities.
  • You might simply be interested in going out with your friends and having a great time, drinking and eating in good restaurants, or just clubbing and getting drunk! This might spark an interest in fashion and accessories or fine wines and Michelin star restaurants. 

One person’s interests will change over time. What you liked to do when you were a child are vastly different to your interests as a teenager and as an adult.   

So, looking at this from a target market point of view, interests will not necessarily characterise your target market – you’ll want to look at a range of interests to suit each of your products or services.

Activities

Now then, activities is the section that could be described as hobbies. As part of psychographic research, you are going to want to know what activities or hobbies your target audience get involved in. You’ll get answers like reading, writing, going to the gym, fishing, taking part in a sport, computer games, playing a musical instrument, singing, painting…you get the picture. The list is endless, but the more information you can gather about your ideal customer or target market, the better you’ll understand them. 

You also need to think about people who answer that they don’t have a hobby or many interests. How can you word the question so that you get some kind of answer? One way would be to say, ‘how do you spend your free time when you’re not working?’ Some people might be workaholics and actually spend all their time commuting to and from work and at work, so that when they’re home, it’s eat and sleep…yes, there are those that do that! But this still gives you an answer, and I bet that if they commute on public transport, they’ll be glued to their phone, so may see your ads or marketing. You can still target them.

Someone else might say that they spend their free time with their family – they may have children and they take up all their free time.  It’s good to know that, again you can target parents.

Someone might be involved in their local community, run a Scout or Girl Guide group; they might be involved in church activities or council meetings. I’m sure you get the idea.

Each of these kinds of responses gives you a lot of information about your target market, or your ideal client.

Religious Beliefs

This is pretty obvious – people may be reluctant to give these details, but if they say they attend services for example, you can always ask where and if they enjoy it. Are they an active member? Do they get involved in youth groups or teaching the youngsters about their religion?  

Attitudes

OK, this is a pretty hard one and involves you drilling down further into the lives of your target audience. If you want to discover their attitude or opinion on something, you need to ask questions.

For example, if you sell beauty products, you could ask what they think about beauty products in general. You’ll probably get answers like ‘they must be cruelty free’ or ‘not contain palm oil’, or be vegan-friendly. They may ask if you do products for sensitive skin as they get eczema.

You’d need to think of questions that are related to your particular products or services. Let’s take another example, if you sell some kind of software, you might ask, ‘What do you think about the performance of Microsoft 10, compared to Microsoft 7 or 8?’

Obtaining attitudes to things around them, not just related to your business, gives you a much deeper insight. You could ask about their opinion on the government or wind turbines. Knowing someone’s opinion or attitude to the world around them helps you to know your audience better and know more about what makes them tick. 

Asking questions will also give away details of your targeted market’s personality, their values, what they like to spend money on and their lifestyle choices. 

However, psychographics are difficult to gain and take a huge amount of time, effort and research in order for you to gain all the information you need. This is one of the reasons why big companies have a marketing department, solely dedicated to finding out who the customers are and working out the right way to market their products to attract those customers. 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 very 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. 

Survey your existing customers

If you already have a raft of existing customers who buy from you regularly or even customers that have bought once or twice, hopefully you will have asked for their email address, so you can let them know when you launch new products or have any special offers etc. If you have emails of customers, send them a simple survey asking them some simple questions. You can gain both demographic and psychographic information this way, but you can also find out what products of yours they like, what they don’t like, what could be improved and what other products they’d like to see you supply.

Analyse the feedback you have from your customers

Do you have feedback from your customers? Do they recommend certain products? If they do, what reason do they give for the recommendation? It might be that the reason they give is a great tip on how to market that product.

If you have any negative feedback or complaints, don’t put them away and forget them or let them get you down.

You should look at negative feedback/complaints as an opportunity. What are they complaining about and why? Can that product be improved? Imagine being able to go back to a customer telling them that you took their complaint or feedback on board, looked at ways to improve the product and have come up with a new and better product. Then offer to let them have it at a reduced price.

This shows goodwill, shows you’ve listened to that customer, done something about it and then offered the improved version. They will feel valued as a customer, feel that they’ve contributed and will be much more likely to sing your praises and recommend you to their friends and family. You’ve just turned around a complaint into a compliment!

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 have to 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 on eBay, Spotify or Etsy.

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 know this has been a very long post, but I hope that it give you inspiration and fires you up to investigate your target market in more detail. Once you are armed with all the relevant information, and market your products or services to that audience, you stand a much better chance of making a sale or obtaining a new customer for your services.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, please like and follow me for more marketing information for small businesses. And if you have any comments, I’d be pleased to hear from you.

A little less conversation, a little more action!

Create a perfect CTA

A CTA is a call to action. Quite simply, it’s you telling someone who visits your website, newsletter or blog to do something. If done well, it will be well designed and thought out, draw the eye of the reader and encourage them to act on something.

It is your last instruction to your audience and tells them to complete a specific task – click on the button!

You need a strong CTA

You don’t just need a CTA, you need a strong CTA that convinces your audience to react. The two main functions of a CTA is to tell someone what to do next and also give them the motivation to do it.

However it’s all very well telling someone to sign up to something, they also need to know why; what’s in it for them?  How does it benefit them? How will it make their life easier or better? You may have already written a paragraph before the CTA telling them the ‘why’, but a reiteration or a recap never hurts and will make the CTA all the more powerful.   

It’s important to put the CTA in the right place, in front of the right people at the right time. They are the perfect way to get your audience to do what you want them to and to get what you want, be that signing up to your newsletter, downloading your e-book or workbook, clicking to get a free checklist, lead generation, traffic to your website or blog or to simply buy direct. They can be used to educate, inspire and engage your audience, generating trust in your business and brand.

How to write a CTA

Before you begin to write a CTA, you need to know what you’re trying to achieve with it.

  • Is it to get someone to sign up to your newsletter?
  • Is it to boost sales?
  • Is it to get your reader to move to another piece of content?
  • Is it directing your reader to some free content?

As soon as you know what you want to achieve, you can start to think about the best way to do that.

Make sure your words or phrases speak directly to your audience and try and be as specific as possible. Whilst things like ‘click here’ are OK, it’s not particularly strong or inspiring, whilst something more specific would be ‘Get your XXXXX now!’ or ‘Discover more now!’ – They just sound a little bit more enticing.

Who are your audience?

Think about your audience. Who are you aiming your CTA at? Is it a specific audience? Your CTA will be seen online, and each internet user is completely different. Some might be online absently browsing news items or shopping offers…some might be watching Netflix or looking for music on YouTube. There are lots of different audiences, so if you know who you’re aiming for, you can tailor the CTA accordingly.

For example, if you have uploaded a video to YouTube, your CTA might be ‘Watch my video now!’ or ‘Watch demo’.

If you are a Chef or love baking and have put a video of you making a cake, your CTA might be ‘Get recipe now’ or ‘Learn to make xxxx’

But it’s not just about having a jazzy button telling someone what to do, you need to lead up to it with some tempting copy too. Never assume that your audience will see a button and click on it because most won’t. They need to be told to do it – it needs to be crystal clear and once they press that button, the instructions also need to be very clear, not at all vague. Don’t use long words and clever language and don’t use jargon. Gently guide your audience in the right direction, you want to attract their attention, not scare them away.

Include them in the introduction to the CTA, using words like ‘you’, ‘your’ and ‘we’. This makes them feel valued and their decision is important to you. Focus on the reason they need to do whatever it is. Why is this going to be so good for them? How does it benefit them? Does it solve a problem they have? People love to get something for nothing, or to feel they are getting a real bargain, so if you’re offering something and there is a cost attached to it, why is it such a bargain – what are they getting for their money?

It’s also good to instigate a feeling of urgency – do it now or you’ll miss out on this fabulous bargain. Is it a one-time only offer? Is it at a specially reduced price for the first 20 people to sign up? Is there limited availability? Is the offer only available for a limited time? All these things signify an urgency – telling your audience that they need to take immediate action.

And ultimately, keep the copy short and sweet – your audience don’t want to read a long description – they’ll get bored and scroll on by. It needs to be appealing, persuasive, but short, snappy and to the point. So you need to get the benefits of what you’re offering and why in as few words as possible. This can take some time to get right, so don’t stress if you can’t get it straight away.  

Make your CTA look good

Not only should your copy be snappy and appealing, it also needs to be aesthetically pleasing too. People won’t read it if it doesn’t look good. Give it some space – never underestimate white space, it can be used to highlight a CTA very well. Give it a good colour scheme, maybe include a good image. You might have to test a few before you come up with the right formula that works for you, but once you do, they’ll be no stopping you.

Now it’s time for you to go to your website, blog or wherever you have a call to action and make sure it is clear and specific for your audience, or if you haven’t got one, go set one up.

Make sure your audience know what they have to do next and why. And let me know what CTAs you use!

Face to face! Interview with author, Denise Bloom

Today I am very pleased to be able to introduce my readers to Denise Bloom, author of ‘The Ladies of Whitechapel’, her latest novel. Grab a cup of whatever you like to drink and sit back and learn more about the lovely Denise.

I had met Denise a few times socially before she asked me to build her a website. It was truly a pleasure to meet her properly in her wonderful home, and to share our love of writing. We talked for a couple of hours about her books, her writing and her writing group. I also learned a bit about her house and her life. And all with a lovely cup of tea and biscuits!  

Denise and her latest novel

Initially we met to discuss the fact that she wanted a website. I asked her loads of questions about her target market, the purpose of her website and how she wanted it to look and feel for her readers.

Following an initial telephone call, she had done some research herself on the kind of site she wanted by looking at the websites of other authors and between us, we came up with an initial design, then decided on the pages, the content and how it would all be presented. It is obviously very important to Denise that part of the website’s function is to showcase and sell her books, via a link to Amazon, so we looked at how that would work.

Denise also runs a writing group in her local area, Writer’s Cramp, and she wanted to make this a page on the website to encourage people to write, and showcase some of her group’s work each month.

Denise is lucky enough to live in a fabulous old house which, from the outside, looks like something out of Hammer House of Horror! I absolutely loved it from the start and was sure that it would have some effect on inspiring her to write. Find out more about this in the interview! 

She has been writing for as long as she can remember and already has one previously published book, ‘The Invisible Woman‘, which is a darkly chilling and compelling read! This new book, ‘The Ladies of Whitechapel‘, is about the lives of four women and their demise at the hands of Jack the Ripper. I’m not going to give any more of the story away, but you must read it!  

Now that Denise has her website up and running, and her book is published and on sale through Amazon, we thought we would collaborate.  I wanted to interview Denise about her writing and her book, as well as her website for a mini case study – interview style, and Denise wanted to start a blog, with the first post as an interview about her book, so it made sense to combine the two. Although our blog posts will be taken from the same interview, they will be from slightly different perspectives. 

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Denise… 

Denise and her thoughts

Denise, you have been a writer for a while now, but what actually made you want to become a writer?

I have always written stories, right back from being little. I remember, I used to write short plays for my friends. We would practice them and would then perform them in front of our parents!

You’ve been writing since you were small, but when did you realise it was something you’d like to do seriously?

When I was in my teens, I wrote short stories and always wanted to write a book.

What made you pick your particular genre?

I feel a bit of a fraud here!  I can write in any genre, even fantasy. However, the reason I wrote ‘The Invisible Woman’ was that I always loved crime novels.

Ian Rankin and Agatha Christie are among my favourites. At that particular time in my life, I felt invisible, a feeling that overtakes most women at a certain time of life. I just wrote how I was feeling at that moment.  And NO, I didn’t kill anyone, but it didn’t mean that I have never felt like killing someone!

My sequel to ‘The Ladies of Whitechapel’ is almost finished but I cannot give the title away just yet. It is very dark almost horror.

If you could give your younger writing self some advice on writing, what would it be?

The advice to my younger self would be to save all the work you have done in the past. Never throw any of your work away.

How do you decide on the names for your characters?

The names of my characters are taken from the most popular names of the year they were born. You can do this on Google. However, I have chosen names and then changed them mid-book because I didn’t feel the name suited my character. 

Do you want each of your books to stand alone, or are you trying to build connections between each book you write?

‘The Invisible Woman’ was successful and most of my readers have begged me to write a sequel. I have one on the back burner, so Heather can live another day!

‘The Ladies of Whitechapel’, although stands alone as a story, has really drawn me into the Victorian era. I have a written a short piece that will be included in an anthology of short stories, called ‘Dark London’, which will be available from June. It includes a couple of my characters from ‘The Ladies of Whitechapel’.

I’m also just finishing a novella, again based in Whitechapel, so watch this space!

Does your beautiful, haunting home inspire your writing? If it does, how?

I have written a ghost story about my house. The area we live in has a history of the resistance and collaboration. I got absorbed in the research and the book is set in both the present day and 1940 Vichy France.

Reasons for your website

It certainly sounds like you have been keeping busy, Denise. I’d like to now ask you a few questions about your website …

Why did you decide to have an author website?

I decided to have an author website, because most of the authors I know have one. People are interested in what you write, why you write and how you write. Instead of answering emails or loads of questions, you can instead guide them to your site, where hopefully, you have the answers.

You have a page on your website for your writer’s group, ‘Writer’s Cramp’. What made you want to start a writer’s group?

I started ‘Writer’s Cramp’ a couple of years ago. I had been attending creative writing classes, run by Kate Rose, a very talented writer and poet. When Kate moved away from the area, we all wanted to keep on writing together and to keep running, so the group was born.

You chose a very minimalist look for your website – why?

The style I chose for my author’s site had to be simple for me to use. I am really not a ‘frills’ person. I like things to be straight forward, and wanted my website to do the job! It’s important to me that my website is easy to navigate for my readers without them having to search or scroll endlessly.

Is there anything you think you might like to add to your website at a later date?

Obviously I want to add a blog, of which this interview is the first post! I think as my books are published and my writing group evolves, I will think of other things I want to add.

For the writing group, I would like them to be able to add their stories, or send them to me if they want me to review a piece. And of course, I will be changing the stories on the website every month, so different members of the writing group get their work ‘published’. 

 I often look at other authors on the internet, so may see something else I like from their sites. However, I am always open to suggestions and as you, Cindy, are on the ball with new innovations, I know that you’ll come up with more great ideas and will guide me to what is current!

Thank you for the confidence you have in me, Denise! I’m really pleased that you are happy with your site and that it does the job! I’m sure that through our future meetings and conversations, we will come up with new ideas. I know we’ve talked about book reviews, so that’s something we will be adding.

Thank you so much for your time and for sharing a little bit of you with my readers and with yours! If any of you have read any of Denise’s books, we would love to hear from you in the comments below.  

If you’d like to take a look at Denise’s website, please click here.

If you would like a website for your business, or need any kind of creative writing for blogs, website content, articles or product descriptions, or would like a free consultation call to discuss a marketing strategy or business plan for your business, feel free to contact me.

Time for a new normal?

Getting your business back on track after Covid 19

Since the Covid 19 pandemic, many small businesses have been in lockdown. Some will still have managed to keep afloat with help from the government or savings; some will have been able to carry on their work from home; some online businesses may not have been affected at all. But the truth is, no matter how big or small our businesses are, just the fact that we’ve been in lockdown and subjected to a constant bombardment of negative news, is bound to have had affected us all one way or another.

It’s looking like over the coming weeks and months, things will very slowly start to return to some kind of normal…but will it be the normal we know? The normal we’re used to? How are we going to get ourselves and our businesses back on track?

One thing that I think this pandemic has taught all of us in business is that we need to be flexible and ready for change, so it might be worth recording everything you’ve learned, and continue to learn during this crisis, so you can have a contingency plan in place to help you through the next few months. I hear you… how do you do that? Where do you even start?

It might be that your business has to take a different direction, maybe look at new services or products that are relevant to your customers now… and beyond the pandemic. It’s really important to keep in touch with your existing customers…have you thought about giving them a ring to see how they are? Or sending them an email or online message? As well as asking if they and their families are OK, you can ask for their input…ask them how you can help them in the near future. Their needs and wants may have changed and they might want something different from you.

Communication with customers is going to be crucial as you move your business forward, so having their input and opinions will help…and to a certain extent, the experiences they have encountered with the pandemic. There may be new problems that your products or services can solve that you hadn’t thought of before. Or there may be something new that you can develop as a result of your customer feedback.

Can creativity emerge out of lockdown and through all the chaos we’ve witnessed, will you see growth? Some businesses have changed tack, for example, restaurants and cafes have had to adapt or close; some of them have chosen to offer a takeaway service, so they’re still earning something; some are offering a home delivery service; they’re still serving their customers and keeping themselves out there. Is there anything you can do with your business to keep yourselves in the forefront of your customer’s minds?

My customers don’t have money to spend

For many small businesses, lockdown has meant a steep decline in sales of products and less use of services, so income and profits are taking a massive hit. Is it possible during this time to start looking at new sales channels?

If you sell products, could you expand to creating an e-store, such as Etsy or Ebay? People are bored and online all the time and figures have shown that they are still choosing to buy online. If you’re not online, they can’t find you…it’s that age old, you’ve got to be in it to win it situation.

Do you have a website? It’s fairly easy to set up a straight forward website to show your products and you can just add a PayPal button if you don’t want to set up a full online website store.

If you have a website already, have you thought about starting a blog to talk to your customers about your products and the problems they solve? This isn’t about making a hard sell, but more about giving your customers and potential customers information about what you sell. You could also add an opt-in on your website so people can sign up for a monthly newsletter, where once again, you can show how your products or services can benefit them.

And of course, social media has billions of subscribers every hour of every day, from all over the world. Post regularly to get your business name known and help you stand out from the crowd. Go ‘live’ and talk to your customers, even if only for 30 seconds, or make a short one minute video about your products or services. Video gives customers the chance to see you in the flesh; they feel like they are interacting with you and you are being invited into their homes. Just be you, let your personality shine through and just talk. I know this is hard and something I know I need to do myself, but I hate myself on camera! I’m sure there are many people who feel the same, but I know we’ve got to get ourselves out there and video is the way to go! If you get to like it, you could set up your own YouTube channel.

If you hate being in front of the camera, how about a podcast? This is a fast growing market and you just have to talk, not be on camera. It’s just an audio recording to keep in touch with your customers and find new ones.   

Once you have created new sales channels, don’t forget to shout about it on your social media sites, email your customers and make sure you are marketing what you’ve done.  

It’s never too late

It’s never too late to prepare, never too late to do something about your business. Governments have generally been quite good in offering aid to small businesses, so take advantage of that.

If you belong to social media groups for your type of business, ask questions about what others are doing – don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

You might be able to start up a conversation or thread to brainstorm positive or strategic ideas. Or, if you have employees, why not ask them for ideas for the business that are different to what you currently offer. Draft in family members on Facetime or video chat – ask them for advice and ideas – family like to feel involved and they might come up with some really creative ideas.  

Whatever it is that you decide to do and whichever direction you decide to take, it’s important to keep moving and keep on, keeping on! Doing something…anything, is better than doing nothing at all.    

How you react to this crisis and how others see you react will define you and your business in future. They will see that you are resilient, even if you aren’t able to run your business as normal.

Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments below – I’d love to see what innovative ideas you’ve come up with!