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?

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!

How to run a Facebook Christmas Campaign to sell your products

Christmas is usually the most important time of year for anyone who sells products or services. With around 93% of people owning a mobile phone or device, millions of them will be logging into Facebook (FB) looking for gift ideas, Christmas related posts and funnies. So it makes sense to use FB to reach some of this massive audience with your posts.   

christmas-2618269_640Christmas is the season of giving and all over the world, people get excited about everything that surrounds this magical time of year. So, let FB be your ‘Santa’s little helper’ and get started now on your Christmas campaign.

If you market your business, you’ll know that a giveaway is the way to get better engagement, more followers and sales. But as everyone who markets their business also knows, you need to stand out from your competition. So how can you run a successful Facebook Christmas campaign?

As an example, let’s say you run a jewellery business, selling jewellery that you make. You sell online via an online store and to the public directly through your market stall. You have a website where people can see your products and you have a business FB page.

What are you hoping to achieve by running a Christmas campaign?

  • Increase your sales of jewellery online and face to face
  • Raise the profile of your business (your brand)
  • More people looking at your product range on your website
  • More ‘likes’ on your FB page
  • Increase the enquiries you get about your jewellery

Now you know what you’re hoping to achieve, you can get started.

Your target market

The first thing to look at is your target market. Who do you want to sell to? What do they do for a living? What can they afford to buy and where do they live. You can get this by looking at your current customers and also look at who engages with your social media pages, your website and/or your blog.

If you have a FB business page, you can look at FB insights. This does take a while to get your head around if you want to fully analyse everything, but as a basic guide…Go to the Overview tab to export your FB Insights data. A pop-up box will appear with three choices…Page data, Post data and Video data. If you click on each of these in turn, you will be able to see key engagement metrics for your page. Facebook do a guide for more in depth information – click here

If you use Instagram, you can also look at their guide for analysing insights on your Instagram account. And you can use data and the details to run a Christmas campaign on Instagram too. Click here to see how to look at your Instagram insights.

cat-1898637_640You will have your unique brand for your products or services, but it’s a good idea to look at branding your products for Christmas and apply that branding to your FB posts and your website/blog. Famous brands do this every year, for example, television programmes such as Dr Who, will have a Christmas special episode, fast food outlets will use Christmas themed wrappings for their burgers, pizza etc. and there will always be a popular musician who will release a Christmas album, such as Cliff Richard! Everyone jumps on the bandwagon at Christmas, so why shouldn’t you too?

When you advertise your products for Christmas, give the ad a Christmassy theme, spice up your website or blog with some Christmas pages and look at packaging your products with Christmas paper, ribbons or offer a gift wrap service (either free or for a small charge).

Your campaign     

It’s up to you when to start your campaign, but generally campaigns start around the September/October point.

As I’m specifically talking about a FB campaign, let’s look at what kind of posts you can put up to attract business. The important thing to remember is that, although you want to be selling as much as you can during this period, it’s also important that your customers get something of value, something that makes a difference to their lives – what’s in it for them? How will they benefit from your campaign? So how can you do all this and still make a profit? Here are some ideas…

Offers/discounts

Everyone loves a bargain, so run a special offer for Christmas on a particular product or service. Make it clear that it’s for the Christmas period only.

sticker-473635_640Offer gift cards so customers can buy a gift card to give to family and friends.

You could run a ‘buy one, get one free offer’ or ‘buy one, get the second half price’ for a limited time. Big companies like Boots the chemist, do this every Christmas with their ‘buy two, get the third free’ offer.

Run a ‘recommend a friend’ offer – if one of your customer’s recommends a friend, then when that friend buys something, your customer gets a free gift or a money- off voucher.

Competition

Run a Christmas themed competition with a special prize – make sure that the prize is appealing and worth entering the competition for. You can do the results of the competition ‘live’ on FB or via a pre-recorded video for more impact…and you could do the same with the run up to the end date of the competition – for example, ‘only one week left to enter our fabulous competition to win a xxxxx’.

Share Christmas themed updates     

You can add value to your customers’ lives by sharing Christmas themed updates. For christmas-dinner-3011500_640example, if you are a restaurant, you could share your Chef’s favourite Christmas dish, dessert or menu; Hairdressers can share easy to do hairstyles for Christmas parties; Beauticians can offer special packages so your body/face/nails/feet etc. are ‘Christmas ready’!; If you sell make-up, you can push your glittery make-up or maybe publish a video on how to do your Christmas party make-up. You get the idea!

You could also share Christmas themed things on your FB page that are just useful and nothing to do with your business, such as ‘how to gift-wrap your presents with style’ or ‘how to decorate your tree’. These kind of posts have the potential to draw in a new audience who may then go on to look at your products/services.

As well as these posts, you could also post inspirational Christmas quotes, ask a question posts, nostalgic post and Christmas trivia related posts – maybe a ‘did you know….’ kind of thing.

You can also produce a FB ad for the Christmas period – socialmediatoday.com have a great article on how you can do this in detail, so have a read.

How many times a week should I post on FB?

The recommended number of posts is once a day and post in the afternoon to reach the maximum number of people. The minimum suggested is three times a week and maximum number, ten times a week. You can do all your posts in advance for the following week and schedule them to automatically appear at a certain time every day.

You don’t need to use all of the ideas I’ve talked about, but I hope I’ve given you some food for thought and that you will crack on with producing your Christmas campaign and I wish you luck with lots of sales and engagement!

Ace your ‘About me’ page!

Do you have a website or blog? If you do, you’re likely to have an ‘About me’ page. If you sell products or services, it’s an important page as it is likely to be your most popular page.

Why?

It’s where new visitors to your site go first to find out about you and what you can offer – what you can do for them. So, it needs to be relevant and grab their attention.

Click on your page now with the eyes of someone looking at your site for the first time…does it immediately ‘grab’ you and make you want to read more? If it does…fabulous! 

If it doesn’t, read on…

About me page essentials 

The purpose of this page is so people can get to know you, but it’s not good enough to just throw together a quick biography, upload a blurry photo from your phone and hope that works.

Let’s face it, not many people out there like writing about themselves, it’s an uncomfortable experience. But if you have a formula to work from, with a structure that works, you can capture the absolute essence of what you do. You can give your readers the opportunity to get to know you, trust you and see exactly what you can offer them.

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I’m going to share that formula with you, so you can ace your ‘about me’ page and stand out from the crowd.

  1. WHAT VALUE DO PEOPLE GET BY READING YOUR PAGE?

    The most important part of your page is letting your readers know what value your business gives them. After all, they’ve come to your page because they’re interested in your products or services. They didn’t come to your page to find out how many pets you have or what hobbies you do (although that has its place…just not the first thing you share!)
    Make it very clear who your blog is aimed at (your target audience) and how you can help them.

  2. WHO IS YOUR SITE AIMED AT?

    This is where you really need to know your customers and your ideal customers. If you are writing for your customers, they will instantly relate to you and your business – they will recognise that this content is for them, about them and will help them. They will then read on.

  3. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR SITE?

    banner-1090830_640
    Or in other words, your site’s biography. You’ve already got your reader’s attention, they know how your site is going to benefit them. Now give them a bit more information – your personal biography comes later!
    >Include information on why readers should care about what you have to say. There are so many websites out there who offer you help for your business, when really, they’re after you paying them shed loads of money for something that probably won’t help them. Show your readers that you mean business, you are genuine. Do you have any recommendations from current customers that say exactly how you’ve helped them? Include one here. This will help you build credibility for what you do.
    >What will your readers get from your posts? Is it financial advice/beauty advice/business advice – you get the picture? It’s about telling them what they can expect from your posts.
    >What do you write about? Keep this short and sweet and to the point and don’t waffle.
    >Is your blog reliable, credible and believable? You need to know your niche very well and be able to answer any questions people may have…and if you can’t, you find out and get back to them. If you’ve written for big well-known sites you can add this here. You can also say how long you’ve been writing for or where you got your experience in your subject. If you’re still learning, you can also say that and say that you will share things as you learn about them. This is where you tell the story of your blog or website – how did your site get started? What inspired you to write your blog? Where did your passion for your subject come from? This is a good sized paragraph, but try and keep it concise and don’t waffle!

  4. YOUR PERSONAL BIOGRAPHY

    Now it’s time to talk about yourself. BUT, keep it relevant to your blog or business. How did you get where you are today? How does your business fit into your life? What inspires you to keep going? Why do you love your business so much?
    Of course, it’s important that you come across as a real person, with a life outside of work, so it’s also OK to include some personal things…if you have a passion for your pets, you run marathons, you love the cinema and films etc. You can connect with your audience on a human level by sharing a few titbits of information about yourself, such as the town and country you live in…anything that shouts ‘YOU’. But just don’t fill the whole page with it!

  5. CALL TO ACTION

    This is the bit most people forget about…a call to action or CTA. It is what it says on the tin – you are telling your readers what to do next…what action they need to take. You might ask them to follow you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media sites. You could ask them to subscribe to your newsletter.

    smartphone-1701096_640The CTA is really important as it’s your opportunity to get your reader to stay in touch with you, stick around, and come back to your site again. So you need to give them a reason to do this. Asking them to subscribe to something ensures that you can keep in touch with them. If you send out a newsletter, this is a great way to let them know about your business on a regular basis, tell them about new blogs, new products or services, special offers etc. etc. But please don’t do what a lot of people do and bug your readers with emails two or three times a day. When I subscribe to a website, I’ll soon unsubscribe if they bombard my inbox with the same email over and over again. I don’t mind having an email trying to sell me a course that is relevant to me, of course I don’t, but to have the same course being pushed day after day, with just slightly different wording, really irritates me. Maybe an email once a week for the first few weeks, then I’m happy with once a month. I find that if I get something once a month, I’m more likely to read it and click on any links. If someone bombards me every day, they become wallpaper and I end up just deleting them without even reading them.

    Your CTA can be put anywhere in your blog/website ‘about me’ page. It’s obviously good to put it at the end, but you could also put a CTA at the beginning or halfway through if you have something that could help your reader. For example, if you’re talking about what you can offer and you have an information sheet, clothes pattern, beauty tips pdf, you could put a box with ‘CLICK HERE’ to receive XXX or ‘SIGN UP TO RECEIVE YOUR XXXX’.

  6. A HIGH RESOLUTION PHOTO OF YOURSELF

    There aren’t many of us who actually enjoy having our photos taken, but it’s very important that your readers know who you are, what you look like – they can then more easily relate to you…so make sure you are smiling!

HOW YOU CAN BE CONTACTED


You don’t necessarily have to add this to the page, but make sure you have your contact details in a prominent place on the page – telephone number and email address. Alternatively, add a link in your CTA, to your contact page.

FINALLY, re-visit your ‘about me’ page every now and again and update it – give it a bit more pizazz!

I’m off to have another look at mine now!

17 different types of Facebook posts

If you use Facebook to boost your business, you need to keep posting regularly and make your posts interesting enough to keep the attention of your readers….sometimes easier said than done!

social-media-3696901_640My last blog post talked about how to get more ‘likes’ on Facebook, so this is a follow-up with information on the different types of posts you can use to engage your audience.

First of all, have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? The idea of this is to keep promotional content of your business to a minimum…posting non-promotional content 80% of the time and keeping promotional content to 20%. There are loads of different types of posts…here are some of them. If you have any other ideas, please let me know in the comments section!

  • Inspirational quote
  • Quote linked to your business
  • Top tip – this could be something linked to what you do, for example, if you are a crafter, you could share a video tip or crafting tip that would be helpful to other crafters.
  • questions-1328466_640Ask a question…this doesn’t have to be linked to your business. People like to talk about themselves and this is a good way to get a conversation going in your Facebook post…just be careful that the question you ask isn’t too controversial!
  • Did you know…?
  • Promote a competition you are running for your business
  • Promote your blog
  • Photos of your products
  • Image of your pets – maybe ask your followers to post an image of their pet
  • Funny story – again you can ask people if they had anything similar happen to them – this promotes engagement
  • quiz-2004350_640Something personal (make it interesting)
  • Video/Facebook ‘live’
  • Promote other people’s content – there might be an interesting article or funny story that someone else has published that you might like to share
  • Podcasts
  • Quizzes
  • Infographics
  • Call to action

Post at the best time

There has been loads of research done into when it’s best to post on Facebook. It seems that the general consensus of opinion is to post either early morning or at night, particularly around 8pm. I guess this makes complete sense as most people work during time-3222267_640 (1)the day, so are checking their Facebook before they go to work and then again, once they’re home, had dinner and relaxing in front of the TV.

It’s also good to post at weekends when people generally have more free time to browse Facebook and other social media sites. And try to make your posts weekend-friendly, focussing on things to do, places to go and entertainment…especially if your business is at a particular event, you could promote that event too!

If you want to find out exactly what time your fans are online, take a look at your posts within the Facebook Insights area. Facebook Insights is a bit limited, in that it only shows you information from the previous 90 days, but it’s a good start. It shows you information for each of the posts you put on your page, under Reach and Engagement.

Reach – this measures how many people have seen your post. It’s a good way to see how well your business, product or name is getting out there and into people’s news feed, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that just because it appears in someone’s news feed that they will act on it or engage with it. But it is a good way to measure the success of your posts when you are first growing your business, as you have to grow your fan base in order to get their attention.

Engagement – this measures more than just who has viewed or who can see your post. Engagement is defined by Facebook as including all clicks on your post to read more, likes and shares and of course any comments made on your post. If your post has a high reach, it doesn’t mean it will have high engagement. It’s all down to how interesting and compelling your post it and how it pulls in your target audience. The more people that engage with your posts, such as making a comment or liking/sharing it, the more likely those people’s friends will see your post too.

Using Facebook for your business is obviously a good place to advertise your business or an event you are going to, but it is so much more than that…it’s about building good relationships with your followers, showing your human side as well as your business side and also having a bit of fun.

So, why not have a look at your Facebook Insights and see what you can find out about your audience and how they engage with your business.

Do you have any other ideas on how to promote engagement on Facebook? Drop me a line in the comments section!

Did you start your New Year with a bang?

Happy New Year everyone, if a little belated! Did you start your New Year with a bang…
or was it more of a sigh?

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January and February are notoriously hard for the small business as things are generally chimpanzee-978809_640quiet after the Christmas period and January seems to go on forever…or is that just me? It’s a time when we feel lethargic and I always think January feels like a bit of a let-down after the festivities of Christmas and New Year…..a bit like my Chimp friend here on the right!

Whether you’re busy or not, this is an ideal time to kick-start your business, tell people about what you do, show your products or services and get that business rolling in.

Lots of us make New Year’s Resolutions, but less than 10% will achieve that resolution…in fact by now (end of January) most people will have given up on their resolutions…or at least be finding them hard to keep. So, try and tap into what your customers make resolutions about. If you’re a health and fitness business, for example, some of your customers may want to lose weight and get healthy this year. Ask your customers what their resolutions were and see if you can help them achieve that resolution with your products or services.

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Social Media Marketing Ideas

Social Media is a very popular place to advertise your business – you can use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any of the other many sites. I’m going to look at Facebook and the Facebook business page.  If you have a business Facebook page, contrary to what you might think, people don’t follow you to solely buy your products or services. They like to see a wide variety of posts to keep their interest, so it’s a great idea to have a plan of the kind of things you will be posting month on month.

  • Interesting or entertaining content…this can be fun or factual, but all in a light-hearted way – maybe use memes, jokes, contests, puzzles or just a fun inspired image.
  • Content that inspires your audience – there are loads of inspirational quotations out there – you could google a particular theme and run with that for a month, posting something inspirational once or twice a week. Inspirational posts can also be image based – a breath-taking image, something that makes your audience say ‘Wow!’
  • Educational posts – can you teach your audience something? It could be a ‘how to….’ post; how to crochet a hat; how to make a particular tasty dish – a new exercise to combat belly fat or in my case…how to market your small business. These posts help to set you up as an expert in your field and inspires confidence in what you do.
  • Dialogue/chatty posts – these kind of posts are encouraging your followers to interact with you. Ask a question, and be genuinely interested in the answers you get; run a poll to find out your followers’ opinion on a particular subject; publish a post of something that interests you, maybe your favourite holiday destination, with a caption that says why you like your favourite destination – then ask what your followers’ favourite destination is and why.
  • Personal posts – I’ve read that it’s not a good idea to share too much from our personal lives. However, there is a time and place to engage with your audience on a personal level, to connect with your audience and show them you are a real person! You could share photos of your pet or an event you’ve been to; a place you love to visit and why or maybe what you’d like to do if you won the lottery! This makes you a real person that your customers can relate to, but worth noting to limit these to a couple times a month.
  • Promotional posts for your business… YES, there is space for this too! Share new products or services and how they can help your customers; a discount; buy one, get one free; recommend a friend. Also share customer referrals and testimonials

These are just a few ideas on how you can keep the attention of your customers and attract new ones on Facebook. The important thing is to make a plan with a good variety of posts to keep your customers’ interest and make them want to come back for more. Make it your February resolution to plan your business page on Facebook!

9 ways to connect with your customers and grow your business

Do you want to grow your business
now and into 2019?

Every year millions of us make New Year’s Resolutions – but nine times out of ten, by the end of January, those resolutions are a distant memory. If you run a small business, or indeed any business, I’m sure that a business resolution is to grow your business year on year. So, rather than only make resolutions in January, why not think about it now? Start putting plans in place to connect with your customers in a more effective way – if your customers feel a connection with you, trust you and get great customer service, your business will grow.

Know and understand your customers
Your existing customers are your ‘bread and butter’. You already know that they like your products or services, but do you actually know them and understand why they buy what they do from you? The simplest way to get this information is to ask them! Send a

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Ask your customer for a review

survey telling them you value their opinion and ask what they like or dislike about your products/services.
If a customer has not given you a review, send them an email and ask them if they would, or if they prefer not to put a review in a public place, ask them if they would share their views with you on email. Good or bad, we can all learn from feedback.
As a ‘thank you’ for completing a survey or giving a review, you could offer them a discount when they next buy your products or use your services. Customer loyalty is absolutely crucial to your business and this will encourage just that!

Be accessible to your customers
This goes hand in hand with point number one and really speaks for itself. The one thing I hate when I ring a company to ask about their product or to find out more information, is reaching that robotic automated response. I’m more likely to hang up than I am to

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Listen to your customers

wait. It’s so important, especially for small businesses, to be accessible to customers. They want to speak to you, a real person, and have a friendly chat and get advice, or to place an order. It might not be you, but maybe someone who works for you, but try and ensure your customers speak to a real person. It helps build good relationships and trust and, when the conversation is over, they leave with a good feeling, instead of frustrated at having to ‘press 1’ for this or ‘press 2’ for that. Make sure that your contact details are easy to find and in a prominent place on all correspondence, social media and your website. If customers can’t find you, they’ll go somewhere else.

Make use of Social Media sites
Nearly everyone these days, from youngsters to pensioners are online in one way or another. Make sure your business has a social media presence, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or one of the many other sources. Check your social media pages a

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Answer comments on social media sites

few times a day, reply to any comments or questions on your business pages. Listen to other businesses and what they have to say and comment on their pages. Engage generally with as many people as you can – this will help you understand behaviours and new trends, which you may be able to tap into.
The most important thing on social media is to stay focused – don’t get drawn into online arguments on your business page – keep it professional. Keep your page upbeat and positive.

Spend time networking

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Attend a networking event

It’s important to meet other like-minded people, so try and attend a couple of networking events and meet other small businesses. Networking events are great for sharing business cards and flyers, talking about what you do and finding out what others in your area do. Fantastic for building new relationships, networking helps you connect with potential customers, employees and collaborators and even investors.

Collaboration

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Collaborate!

This follows on nicely from networking. Find people you can collaborate with – for example, if you’re a hairdresser, you might want to link up with a make-up artist, so if you get booked for a wedding or special party, you can recommend a make-up artist…and vice versa. You can also share links to your websites on each other’s pages.

Incorporate visual marketing into your strategy
Use good images, live stream chats, webinars, videos and infographics to help promote

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Make a video

your business. Technology is always moving on and 2018 has seen a huge surge in this type of marketing. Don’t get left behind. There are loads of sites that offer free images or you could do a ‘live’ Facebook broadcast – it doesn’t have to be long. If you want to really connect with your customers, you could invite a small group to join you in a video chat to discuss what they like about your business and what might be improved. This would give you invaluable information.

Give away free stuff!

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Give a gift!

Everyone loves a freebie. You could give a few samples of a new product and ask your customers to trial it and give feedback. You could simply give a free gift to loyal customers or offer them a discount for a limited amount of time. This makes them feel valued, it nurtures your relationship with them and keeps them coming back for more. They’re also more likely to recommend you to their family and friends

Keep in touch with customers
Try and find a regular way to keep in touch with your customers. This could be a monthly newsletter or email, a courtesy call after a sale or after they have used your

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Keep in touch with customers

service. Think about it – if you bought something from a small business and a month later they rang you to see how you were getting on with that product, it would make you remember them in future. A balance needs to be struck as you don’t want to be a nuisance, but a simple courtesy call can make all the difference and shows you care. If there is a problem, it gives you the chance to solve it and so delight the customer even more. They will remember this kind of service.

Adapt and measure your business as it grows
We get our customers from many different places and ways – don’t forget to look for new ways to contact potential customers. Look at old business plans as there may have been

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Measure to see what works and what doesn’t

something that didn’t work for you in the past that might now be perfect.
Don’t be afraid to stop doing something if it’s not working for you – it’s no good flogging a dead horse. Put it on the back burner to return to at a later date.
Don’t be scared to try new marketing ideas, learning about new social media channels, do a course on how to do video for your business. You will never know if something works if you don’t try.
And ALWAYS measure what you do to see what works and what doesn’t. Monitor where your customers come from so you know what marketing sources work best for you.

Finally, decide which way you’re going to take your business for the rest of this year and into next, write them down and update your existing business/marketing plan and incorporate into next year’s plans. If you don’t yet have a business/marketing plan, now might be the time to start!

If you have any observations or questions, please contact me – I love to chat about different approaches to customers and marketing.

How a CTA can get you more business

The definition of ‘Call to Action’ as defined by Wikipedia is…

“Call to action (CTA) is a marketing term used extensively in advertising and selling. It refers to any device designed to prompt an immediate response or encourage an immediate sale. A CTA most often refers to the use of words or phrases that can be incorporated into sales scripts, advertising messages or web pages that encourage consumers to take prompt action”.

Get more business with a ‘Call to Action’

Basically, a CTA is just a way to get people to interact with you and encourage them to look at your products or services. There are lots of different kinds of CTAs – here are a few that you’ll probably have seen loads of times…

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“Don’t delay, sign up for our free cookery cards today – no obligation to buy!”

“Discover how I can help you with your tax problems. Subscribe today.”

“Do you want to be successful? Sign up to our monthly newsletter and find out how!”

These phrases are at the end of whatever you’re reading as a final instruction. No matter how you word your CTA, it all boils down to the same thing – you want people to look at your product or service with a view to buy or work with you. You’ll notice that they all have one thing in common, they are giving you something for free, using words like ‘no obligation’ – all you have to do is subscribe to a newsletter, monthly email and you get a free gift or valuable information.

limited-time-offer-1438906_640If a free ‘gift’ is being offered, such as the cookery cards, they are giving you something to try in the hope that you’ll be impressed, like them and then buy their product. Similarly, if you sign up to a monthly newsletter, it might be that you get some great information, but at some point there will be an opportunity to try a training course, or buy an e-book. Of course, there is no obligation to do this and you’ll still get the information, but it’s a great marketing ploy to plug your business. And the way the CTA is written doesn’t give you time to think – the ‘do it now’ approach with no obligation means you have nothing to lose – it encourages you to respond straight away.

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So, how can you use this for your small business? If you have a Facebook business page, there is a CTA button you can use – on my page, it says ‘Contact us’, but that can be changed to a variety of statements, such as ‘Book with us’, ‘Shop with us’ or ‘Learn more about us’. You can link it to your website or blog. But don’t just use the button – whether you are writing a Facebook post, Twitter post, Instagram etc. or if you are writing an article or blog, it’s good to have a strong CTA that will convince people to take that action. A CTA isn’t just about telling people what to do next, it’s also about giving them the reason or motivation to do it. It can be a short statement or a couple of sentences, but it’s important that it’s concise, to the point and focuses on what’s important…no frills and waffle.

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For example, I’m sure you’ve heard of television streaming companies, where you can subscribe to get the latest films, TV shows direct to your device. One of them uses the CTA…”Watch anywhere; Cancel anytime. Free for a month.” This short statement lets you know that you can have their services with no obligation to buy, there’s a trial period and you can cancel it whenever you want to. So why wouldn’t you want to try it? Do you see the idea?

Give it a whirl the next time you write anything and drop me a line to let me know how you get on!

Supercharge your customer touchpoints

This sounds like just another one of those buzz word things – so what am I talking about?

Every business wants their customers to be happy with the service and experience they receive. But, unless you have your customers in mind at every single touch point, you could be missing out on some great opportunities to delight them and keep them coming back for more.

What is a touchpoint? According to SurveyMonkey, the definition of a touchpoint is “…any time a customer or potential customer comes into contact with your brand…before, during or after they purchase something from you”

meeting-1002800_640You may have great products, delivered on time and with a smile, but if your advertising isn’t on target, or they receive billing mistakes, or have to deal with a clumsy and clunky website, you can scare your customers away. Luckily, these touchpoints are easily fixed and within our control.

Let’s take a look at the general touchpoints a customer will come across…these are just some examples.

Before a sale – Social Media sites, Website, Customer reviews, Advertising/Marketing.

During a sale – Shop or office, Catalogue, Phone.

After a sale – Billing, Emails, Newsletter

Make a list of the touchpoints your customers have with you, then look at them in turn, e.g. your website…is it easy to navigate? Do the tabs point to the right things? Do the links work? Are you easy to contact? Do customers get a quick reply if they do contact you?

Supercharge your touchpoints

Now it’s time to supercharge your touchpoints for a better customer experience.

Personal touch – Try and speak to a customer wherever you can as most people like to beard-2286440_640be treated as individuals. I prefer to speak to a real person, not an automated service as I can ask questions and, if there is something I don’t understand, I can simply ask. It is also easier to build a relationship with your customers if you actually take the time to talk to them, as it makes them feel valued. They will feel that they are important to you and your business, that their custom is appreciated and that their opinion matters.

Consistent Service levels – Be consistent across all your dealings with customers, not just on the phone. You have won their custom and now it is time to build their loyalty and gain that all important customer satisfaction. So, not only ensure that you give excellent customer service on the telephone, ensure that they receive the same experience if they email you, such as a prompt reply, with the answer or solution they want wherever possible.

Know your customers – Know what your customers want and who they are. If you can team-2651912_640.pngsolve a problem for a customer, do it…they will always remember that you went that extra mile…and will recommend you to family and friends. Something that you did this year that went really well, might not work next year – never make assumptions where your customers are concerned. One of the simplest ways to know what your customers want is to ask them. This could be via a courtesy phone call (but be careful not to be a nuisance), via a short survey or hold an event, where you can interact directly with your customers and they can see who you are and meet you properly.

Resolve any mistakes – If you make a mistake, own up to it and put it right quickly. Don’t blame anyone else, just resolve it and offer some kind of compensation, such as 10% off their next order. The four step system is a good way to deal with complaints.

sculpture-2275202_640Listen to the complaint…don’t argue or put the blame on someone else – the customer doesn’t want to hear this – he/she just wants you to listen to what they have to say.

Acknowledge the complaint – let the customer know that you understand their complaint by relaying it back to them. This not only shows that you have been listening but gives hope that something will be done. Thank them for bringing the situation to your attention and assure them that something will be done.

Solve the complaint – if you can, resolve the issue, keeping the customer informed along the way. In the first instance, after you have acknowledged the complaint, say that you will look into it and will get back to them within 24 hours – even if you haven’t resolved the problem yet, ring them within 24 hours to let them know what’s happening. Keeping them informed every step of the way is very important in keeping that customer in future and lets them know that they are a valued customer.

gift-553150_640Thank them – you have already done this when you acknowledged the complaint but do it again. If the issue has taken or is like to take a long time to resolve, maybe offer them some kind of compensation – a money-off voucher or a free gift.

Appreciate your customers – Let your customers know they are valued, e.g. send regular customers a ‘thank you’ card, or give them a money off voucher for being loyal, or ask if they’d like their purchases gift-wrapped.

It’s also really crucial to look past the sale…once your customer has bought something from you, don’t make it the last time they hear from you…follow up the sale and ask how they are getting on with the product. Are they happy with it? Do they think it could be improved? Do they have any questions about that or any other product that you sell? They may tell you about a problem they have that you can solve for them, or give you an idea for a new product.

smiley-163510_640If your customers are really happy with the goods and/or services they receive from you, ask them if they could write a short review, either on your Facebook page or on your website…or if they prefer, they can send to you on email. Ask if it’s OK to share their review with other customers and potential customers.

Whether your business is a huge concern, or just a one-man/woman team, excellent customer service must be at the heart of everything you do. It can take extra time and resources, time and money, but good customer service leads directly to customer satisfaction, which can generate great business for you via word of mouth. It can also you’re your business thrive and ultimately be a success. Never underestimate the power of good customer service – it’s your businesses life-blood.

 

How Content Marketing can benefit your small business

How Content Marketing can benefit your small business

The Content Marketing Institute, which is an online resource for information on everything marketing related, defines content marketing as…

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action”

Stuart Miles (7)The key word here is ‘valuable’ content; content that will speak to your customers, content that they want and need, maybe information that solves a problem they have. In order to do this, you need to know your existing customers and research and get to know your prospective customers, so you can deliver that all important content. It may take some time to get it right, but when you do, you will have the opportunity to expand your business, build your reputation and ultimately be known as an expert in your field.

Once you can provide the right kind of content, it brings much more to your ‘table’.

More traffic to your website

If you can solve a problem that your customers have and write about it on your website, when potential customers search online for a solution, they will visit your site. Stuart Miles (6)Depending on what you do, that could lead to a sale or a request for your services…and they are likely to return to your site in future.

If you can find a way to tailor your content to your target customer’s needs and wants, they will trust you and you will get repeat business.

More sales

When a person finds a site they like, that speaks to them personally, or they feel that it speaks to them personally, they will return again and again. And if they are returning, they are more likely to turn into customers. As everything is online these days, we all turn to the internet if we want to buy something; I like to read about what I want to buy first and find out as much as I can about that product before I buy it. I am more likely to buy from a business that knows what they’re talking about and one that seems to know my needs.

Enhances your brand

It sounds a bit rude to say this, but it is fundamentally true – people are generally interested in themselves, in their likes and needs. This isn’t about being selfish, it’s human nature. When someone first looks at your website or interacts with your David Castillo Dominicibusiness, they are not in the least bit interested in your brand, no matter how hard you’ve worked on it. They are more interested in what you can do for them. If you provide something that makes their life easier, less stressful, and cost-effective and generally entertain them, they will then become interested in your brand as they will see it as something they relate to.

If you are consistently publishing new, unique content on your blog or website and then promoting it on social media, more people will get to see your name and start to relate to the things you write about. If they like what they see, they’re more likely to tell their friends and so your audience starts to grow and they become more aware of your brand.

Content marketing is cheaper than other forms of marketing

The title of this last section basically says it all. If you can research and write your content yourself, it is more economical as you’re not spending money on getting someone else to do it for you. You’ll also learn so much from the research you do, that you’ll find more content as you go.

Stuart Miles (5)When you publish your content on your blog or website, make sure that you promote it on every social media site that you have…with maybe a jig around of the title or introduction. You can also contribute to larger sites to get your name out there.

Finally, with content marketing, you are attracting customers to you because they’re interested in what you have to say…and ultimately they will come back again and again.

If you want to influence your audience to your way of thinking and to look at your products or services, you must provide them with something they want or need, be their solution, show them that you provide valuable content and that you value their custom.

 

Images courtesy of 1-3 ) Stuart Miles, 4) David Castillo Dominici 4) Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net