How can I be more consistent?

I’m always seeing quotes or posts telling people in business to be consistent:

“To be successful, you have to be consistent” Unknown

“Consistency is the key. If you can’t be consistent, then you can’t be anything” Tony Gaskins

“If you want to be successful, you need consistency and if you don’t have it, you’ve got no chance.” Paul Merson

That’s great then, just be consistent and you’ll be a success, you’ll be able to do anything you like, and you’ll have a chance! But what does it mean to be consistent? How can you be consistent?

This week’s blog post takes this fabulous ‘buzz word’ that we see everywhere – and finds out about it in a bit more detail…

What is consistency?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines consistency as ‘the quality of always behaving or performing in a similar way, or of always happening in a similar way.’

That sounds straight forward, right? But to be consistent in business takes time and effort. To be consistent you must constantly replicate positive behaviour or performance every day, until it becomes second nature – until it becomes a habit.

How to be consistent?

Being consistent in business isn’t just about posting every day on social media, it’s the whole performance of your business. It’s about being organised and working on things that work best for you and your business.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Use a planner

  • Use an online planner, a diary, or a notebook to plan your day. Write down the times of meetings
  • Keep a to-do list – things you MUST do today, and things that it would be good to do today. Work through them one task at a time. Multi-tasking can be distracting and time consuming, and very often, none of the tasks get completed.
  • Jot down any ideas that spring to mind during the day
  • Include time to eat and time to do something for you – it might be a short walk at lunchtime, or yoga or meditation time before you start work. Whatever you choose factor this into your day.
  • At the end of the day, write down the most important tasks that you must complete the following day. Put them in order of importance/urgency, so when you work through your list, you are doing the most important task first.
  • I have gotten into the habit of planning my content (roughly) a month in advance. I then know what blogs I will write and what posts I will want to do to compliment the blog.

Have a schedule

When you work for someone else, your day has structure, and you work to a schedule. If you get into the habit of doing this when you work from home, you will get more done and be more consistent.

Have a set time to work and a set time to have lunch or rest. And always try to have a cut off time, so you’re not working stupid hours into the evening or at weekends.

Many of us want to work from home for ourselves so that we get more work/life balance. Often you will find you have less of this, and more stress, so it’s important to keep to a routine that works for you.

Ensure your goals are SMART

When you are setting goals for your business, make sure that they are SMART.

SPECIFIC – MEASURABLE – ACHIEVEABLE – RELEVANT – TIMELY

You can find out more about this in one of my previous blogs – click here.

Focus on one thing at a time

I’ve mentioned this briefly already but try to focus on one task or goal at a time. Don’t make things harder for yourself by trying to do too much at once. If the goal you’re working on is too much or too overwhelming, cut it down into smaller, more manageable chunks and work on those, one at a time.

Get rid of distractions

When you’re trying to concentrate on one task, particularly if the task is really needed but a bit dull, it’s easy to be distracted. If you recognise that you are easily distracted, try to remove those distractions.

For me, email and social media are my biggest distractions. If I can see that someone has messaged me or that I’ve received an email, I can’t resist ‘just’ looking at it to make sure it’s not important. So, when I’m writing or working on something that needs a lot of concentration, I switch off my emails on my desktop (which is where I work) and put my phone/iPad on silent and put it away from where I’m working so I can’t see it…or I just switch them off. I also unplug my landline as I get too many cold calls and find them so irritating, they become a distraction.

Now I can concentrate as I won’t hear the ‘ping’ of a new message, nor will I see one.

Personally, I like silence when I’m writing or doing something that needs me to really concentrate, but when I’m doing the more regular stuff that I’m used to, or something that is almost second nature, I like to have music in the background. You may be different and may need noise to concentrate. Just do whatever works best for you.

Be comfortable

You might think that this is strange one if we’re talking about consistency, but if you’re hungry, thirsty, or uncomfortable, you won’t be able to concentrate on your work.

  • Choose a comfortable, light space to work in.
  • Eat at regular times so you’re not hungry.
  • Have a bottle of water handy, or your favourite drink, so you can just reach for it if you need it.

Automate when you can

I’m talking mainly about social media here…and for me, blog writing. I tend to batch create my posts (and those of my clients), for the following week. I usually do this towards the end of the week. It takes me a couple of hours to plan the following week’s messages and posts, decide what I’m going to post on what platform and what day, then create the posts.

Then I spend some time scheduling the posts, so I don’t have to worry too much about them during the week. I only schedule one a day, but sometimes I think of something else during the day and I’ll post that manually.

I do the same for blog writing – I tend to write a couple at a time, and I always have one in reserve in case something happens, and I need to post something quickly or change the blog post I’d planned.

Celebrate every win!

No matter how big or how small, celebrate those wins. Celebrating your achievements will make you feel good about yourself and your business and give you a well-earned boost. And shout about it – share those wins with your followers. Happiness and enthusiasm are contagious and you’re sure to brighten up someone’s day – as well as your own.

Along with this comes….

Forgive your failures

We’re all human and none of us is perfect. Being consistent isn’t easy and does require time and effort. If you fall off the wagon from time to time, don’t fret about it. You will get tired, you will sometimes feel like you can’t be bothered, but that’s OK. It’s normal to feel like this.

However, what WILL keep you consistent is recognising this, taking a deep breath, and getting back on track as quickly as possible. Forgive yourself and move on!

Conclusion

These are just some ideas to help you become more consistent and stay that way. Consistency breeds trust: people recognise that you are dependable and to some extent, predictable (in a good way!)

Above all, look after yourself. Make sure you eat and drink regularly – and take a break to get some fresh air every day.

If you need help with any aspect I’ve talked about in this post, feel free to message or email me. I offer a free 30-minute consultation.

Features vs Benefits of your products/services explained

When you think about marketing your product or service, most people think about marketing the features, as opposed to the benefits. But it’s the features that sell whatever you have for sale. This week’s blog post looks at features versus benefits, why both are important and how to market these things separately.

One of them looks at what your product or service does and includes everything that you’ve worked hard to develop and bring to market. The other looks at HOW your product or service will improve your audiences’ lives.

What is a feature?

Let’s look at a very simple example…a slow cooker. So, you’ve decided you want to buy a slow cooker. The first thing you’ll look at is the features – this is the description that you will find about the product. For a slow cooker, this could be:

  • A choice of sizes and capacity to suit your family
  • Glass bowl or ceramic bowl
  • Oval or circular shape bowl? This will depend on what you want to cook in it.
  • Digital settings with a timer
  • What are the settings – usually low, medium, and high, but some only have low or high.
  • Easy to clean
  • Sturdy handle 
  • Versatile – can cook a huge range of foods

All these things describe what your slow cooker can do, what it looks like and how it works.

What is a benefit?

Again, let’s look at the slow cooker as an example. The benefits are the outcomes that slow cooker users will experience.

  • It saves you money
  • It saves time in the kitchen
  • Less preparation time – you can get it ready and leave it to do its thing
  • If you set it in the morning, you have a hot meal to come home to in the evening
  • Less clearing up, you only have one pot to wash, not several
  • Less chance of burning food
  • A slow cooker gives off less heat than a conventional oven, so not so hot in the kitchen
  • As food cooks slowly, meat falls off the bone and the food has more time to infuse with herbs and spices, so can be tastier
  • Ideal for the busy person who doesn’t have time to spend hours preparing and cooking in the evening
  • If there are several of you in your household, you don’t have to all eat at once – you can leave it on low and people can eat when they want to
  • It’s not just for soups and stews – you can cook a variety of dishes – even bake bread or make jacket potatoes, cook cakes, and even rice pudding!

Marketing your features and benefits

When you set out the features and benefits of a product or service, as I did with the slow cooker, it seems obvious, but it can take ages to think about this when you have your own product or service you want to sell.

Marketing is hard; just because you know why your product or service will make your ideal customer’s life better, doesn’t mean that they will. You need to carefully examine what your features are and what your benefits are.

Let’s face it, when we’re trawling the internet looking for that special something we want to buy, we don’t care about the business, how long it took to make or produce; we don’t necessarily think about the person behind the business who must make the trip to the post office to post the item. All consumers really care about is what’s in it for them? Why should they buy your product or service compared to others on the market?

When you are pulling together your marketing strategy for your business, its products, or services, you need to keep in mind ‘what’s in it for your customer?’ This should be the question you continually ask yourself.

Try using a feature/benefit matrix

A feature/benefit matrix is a great way to address these things and make you think seriously about each of the features your product or service has – then produce three things that are benefits of that feature.

Once you have these set up, you can think about the messaging you will use to illustrate those features and benefits to your target audience. And what call to action you will use to help you get your message across.

FeatureBenefit 1Benefit 2Benefit 3MessageCall to action
Feature 1       
Feature 2       
Feature 3       
Feature 4       

Below is a couple of examples using this matrix for our slow cooker.

Feature  Benefit 1Benefit 2Benefit 3MessageCall to action
Digital timerYou and your family can eat when they want toYour meal will be ready when you get home from workSaves time on preparation and cleaning upGreat for busy households. You never have to worry about making sure all your family are home at the same time ‘or their meal will be cold or burnt’Buy now – check out our different slow cookers
Easy to cleanFood doesn’t burnDishwasher safeDigital touchpad easier to clean than knobsSaves you time and effort. Just one pot to clean, not loads of washing up.Buy now – link to website
VersatileCook soups and stewsBake cakes and dessertsBake breadAll in one option. It’s not just for soups and stews. You can make cakes and desserts, perfect for entertaining.Download your eBook with over 100 recipe ideas

You get the idea! There are lots of phrases I’ve heard that illustrate that from a selling perspective, it’s best to focus on benefits:

  • Features tell and benefits sell
  • Sell the sizzle, not the steak

This really tells you it all. Whilst the features tell people about the product or service itself, the benefits are what people are really interested in – the ‘what’s in it for me’ part.

Whilst the steak is important, it’s the sizzle that will sell – what it smells like, tastes like – evoking that emotion in the buyer to entice them to buy. It’s the description of what it’s like to eat the steak that will sell it – not just the picture of a steak on a plate.

Conclusion

I hope this has helped you to distinguish between the features and benefits of your products/services. Now it’s your turn! Take one of your products or services and think about the features – then make a list of the benefits that feature brings to your ideal audience – and use that in your marketing to sell your item.

If you need help with your marketing strategy, and how to best sell your products or services, using the feature/benefit matrix, or just don’t know where to start with your messaging, give me a shout. I can help you see things clearer, so you can focus on your target audiences’ what’s in it for me question.

Email me at cindymobey@outlook.com

Is your business suffering from the summer slump?

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some things that might help:

Don’t stop doing what you normally do

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

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

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

Look at starting a new inbound marketing campaign

What do I mean by this?

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

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

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

Go ‘live’

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

Focus on your customers

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

Ask for referrals

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

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

Join a networking group

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

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

Share your schedule

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

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

Invest in you

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

How to tell a good story for your business

We see stories wherever we look, and the bigger corporates have understood the benefits of telling their story for years, as part of their marketing strategy. As a small business, we often forget about this little gem. But it really helps us connect with our audiences and instill trust.

Stories help us understand the world around us. They are a way to help your audience understand more about you, without being overwhelmed by the details about your products. They help show the ‘authentic you,’ so that your customers will be more interested in what you have to say about your products.

Why should you tell your story?

By nature, people are nosy and curious – they like to know about the person they are buying from.

Marketing your business is a real challenge in today’s online world, and there is so much competition, so you need to be able to stand out in the crowd.

Storytelling creates a fabulous connection with your audience. Sharing your experiences helps to encourage and help others and brings your brand to life. It conveys the purpose of your business and what you stand for and helps make your products more appealing.

Content marketing

Content marketing is what helps you to sell your products. You need to release the magic that you put into your products, be it artwork, crafts, photography etc. You are creating a story around you and around your work.

It’s an incredibly competitive out there, so your unique storytelling is what will set you apart from your peers. You might think, if your products are very visual (such as paintings or photography) that your pictures will sell themselves – surely, if people like what you do, they will buy it. Of course, this may be true for a small percentage of your audience. They will see something that resonates with them, or you may sell something that they are particularly looking for and have searched for. But sadly, when people are looking online, it’s easy to scroll past something that would actually resonate with them if they knew more about it…and about you. This is where the importance of storytelling comes in. People remember stories, you want to convince them to love your work as much as you do. They need to feel your passion and understand the reasons why you do what you do – this creates a real connection between you and your audience.

Know your audience

The first thing to think about is your audience. Do you know who your target audience are? I’m not going to go into detail about how to identify your target audience and building a buyer persona, but if you click on these links, you can see previous blog posts where I have gone into detail about this.

How to identify your target audience

How to create your buyer persona

It’s really important to know your audience, so you know how to approach them and what kind of content will make them look at your products.

How to tell your story – the monomyth

There are lots of ways to tell your story. In this blog, I’m going to look at the Monomyth, which is just one concept.

Joseph Campbell, an American author, who worked on mythology produced the idea of the Monomyth.

He said that most myths contain some common elements – heroes start out as lowly mortals; they receive some sort of call to adventure and divine assistance to get started. They encounter obstacles along the way, go through a transformation and return to where they started as a hero, changed for the better in most cases.

An example

I’m going to use Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ as an example.

Bilbo Baggins was just a normal hobbit, with a peaceful life, living in the rural Shire. One day, the wizard, Gandalf, calls on him to persuade him to join Thorin and his twelve dwarves to recover their stolen treasure, which is being guarded by the dragon, Smaug.

So, although he initially resisted, Bilbo embarks on a fantastic adventure, where he stares death in the face and returns a stronger, wiser hobbit, and is the hero of the story.

When you are telling your story, the Monomyth is a great way to structure it. If you do this well, you will get and keep your audience’s attention. There are lots of people who have different concepts about the Monomyth, but I like the remarkably simple version and its structure.

The Monomyth

Let’s start at the beginning…your calling

Like Bilbo Baggins, at some point you felt the calling to do what you do. It might have been a slow realisation that your hobby could be more than just a passing interest. It might be that it’s been a lifelong passion that you felt you could no longer ignore. It could be that you express your beliefs and interests through your work and that you’re getting a message out there.

Whatever it is that brought you to where you are today – these are the things you should use to introduce yourself to your audience.

Talk about what inspires you…is there a meaning or reason behind what you do?

The idea for this part of the Monomyth is to excite and enthuse your audience. You might feel that your reasoning behind what you do is quite mundane, but to your followers, it will be interesting.

The obstacles

The next part of the Monomyth is the obstacles.

  • People love to hear how you overcome obstacles or opposition
  • Your audience what to talk to you and hear about your processes – for example, if you make something or paint, how do you start on a new piece? People love to see a work in progress too, so showing the process in a step-by-step series of posts is a great idea to engage your audience.
  • Talk about the difficulties and how you overcame them.

Good old Bilbo faced danger and adversity to fulfil his mission. What were the obstacles that you faced? You may not have had a great tragedy in your life, (I hope you haven’t), but everyone, no matter what they do, meets adversity or resistance at some point when creating their work.

Some ideas might be…

  • Dealing with health issues
  • Figuring out how to make or do something that was very technically challenging
  • Coming up with funding – how do you fund what you do?
  • Struggling to communicate what is really happening behind what you do
  • Struggling against a system that puts you at a financial disadvantage

For example, we’ve been experiencing one of the worst global pandemics in years and the world basically shut down. How did that affect you and your business? I know it had an affect on my business and on the businesses of several friends.

Did anything you have experienced during lockdown, or during the pandemic, that inspired you and your work?

You might have a story about going into a dark place, where you really struggled to do anything. How did you cope with that? What did you do to pull yourself out of the abyss? I know this sounds a bit dramatic…but you get the picture.

Emerging triumphant

At some time or other, when you are in a creative mode, frantically getting everything down or done that you can, you emerge from your whirl of creativity. This is where you want to sell your products.

It could be that you have an online shop, a physical location, or sell on social media. However, you do it, this is the time to start asking for a sale, via advertising or posting about your actual products.

Make sure that you use a good product description to help your sales.

The returning hero/heroine

Finally, you have success, and like Bilbo Baggins, you are the hero/heroine of the story. When you sell something, share your victories with your friends and family – no matter how big or small. Celebrate your wins! Write about it on social media, on your website or in your blog or email. Be proud of what you’ve achieved…and don’t forget to thank your audience.

You’ve worked hard to get that achievement and you need to show your passion and excitement for your success.

Conclusion

That’s the Monomyth – in a nutshell! It is just one way to tell your story, but it works well as a structure and can give you something to aim for. Put yourself at the centre of your story and share your journey.

Your audience will love to see you progress and will enjoy celebrating your wins with you. Storytelling is a great way to develop your personal brand and to portray the ‘real you’ to your audience. Good luck!

If you’d like to get more marketing tips delivered to your inbox, please sign up to my email subscription. It’s completely free and you get a free marketing strategy workbook as a thank you for signing up. You also get ‘member only’ access to a restricted area of my website, where you will find lots of free resources to help you market your small business.

5 reasons why it’s important to share your story

The past couple of years have been tough. The pandemic saw, and is still seeing, so many businesses struggling to keep going, and people having to be at home, so mental health issues have rocketed. Whether this applies to you or not, we are all struggling with one thing or another. But there aren’t many people who stand up and speak about their struggles.

I think it’s because of that age-old thing of ‘stiff upper lip’ – you just don’t talk about it. It could be that we are afraid of being judged, or afraid of rejection…or just simply feel ashamed.

However, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good story, be it personal, emotional, funny, or otherwise. I loved listening to my dad tell me stories of when he was a young soldier in World War II – he used to tell us more about the funny side when we were young, but as we grew up, we heard some of the harder side of his experiences. Telling a story helps our audience to put themselves in our shoes – it appeals to our emotions and our sense of empathy.

We all know about pitching our products and we can do that until we’re blue in the face, but your audience won’t really care unless you give them a good reason to listen. Placing your product at the centre of a story, showing them how it can benefit their lives, not only helps your audience understand more about your product, but it also gives you an extra layer of emotion that makes you stand out more on social media.

Social Media

Most of us are on our phones or devices the minute we wake up, checking messages, emails or just scrolling through posts. It’s often the first thing we do when we wake up and the last thing we do before we go to bed. For those of us in business, our social media account posts are carefully planned and crafted to appeal to our target audience. And even that can be daunting – we worry whether our posts are good enough – will they appeal to the right people? Will people think that they’re rubbish? We compare ourselves to others and fear and doubt can even creep in with our businesses.

We also tend to only share the good things, such as cheery pictures of nights out, a lovely meal, family time – all smiling, date night with our partners etc. etc. But we don’t share our back stories – the stories that make us, US!

This, along with everyone else, gives out a message that we are only allowed to share the good things; things that go well. Having said that, I have noticed that some people are starting to share some of the more private parts of their lives. Now, I’m not saying go out there and share every intimate detail of your life – not at all. But share things that can help your audience.

Share a problem that you’ve solved, share that you’re feeling crap today, or that you feel you’re not doing a good job on something. Sharing this kind of information makes you real…people can empathise – some will have had the same experience, and it can help to build more meaningful relationships.

Telling your story is showing the authentic you – an essential part of who you are.

5 reasons why we need storytelling

  • You CONNECT with your audience. You’ll find people who have been through the same thing or feel the same way. You’ll find those who totally get where you’re coming from and who you are. They will share their experiences with you and so it’s a way to start building trust with your audience. When you share your stories, it pushes you to step outside of your comfort zones and to reflect on where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.
  • Sharing your story defines your identity to your audience. Sharing your interests, be it political, emotional, funny, or serious issues, it shows you. You can also share your hobbies, as you may find others that have the same interests as you.
  • By sharing your own stories, you are helping others to have the space to share theirs. For example, if you share a particularly painful experience, such as miscarriage or mental illness, you’re letting others know that this is safe place to talk about it, that you understand and that there is space for healing. You’ll be helping others by telling your story.
  • Sharing a story also heightens the awareness of that subject. It might be something as simple as sharing your weight loss journey, or how you came back from an addiction or homelessness. These things are powerful, and if you can show how you overcame these issues, you are going to be helping someone who is still going through that same thing, and give them hope for their future. This also starts to create a community of likeminded people, who will feel less alone with their problems, and feel they have someone they can share with.
  • This can also be applied to business. Sharing a story of how a particular product helped you to overcome your problems. For example, if you sell weight loss products that you have used yourself and had success with, tell your story. If you have a product that has changed your life in some way, shout about it and how it helped. If you’ve used a business to provide a service that has seriously changed the way you do business, or has helped you get more clients, talk about it. If you provide that service and have testimonials that show that, share them as well as your story.   

Every single person in the world has a story to tell. It might be a personal story; it might be a business story. But if you get out there and tell it, you’ll be surprised at how much engagement you will get.

If you love stories, read one of my stories about how a business assignment to India changed my life. And if you’ve written a story about an aspect in your life, I’d love to hear about it.

Why consistency is key

Consistency is crucial to your business, as it helps establish awareness of your brand, builds trust with your audience, and helps deliver your products or services more efficiently.

Running your own business is hard work and I’m sure you’ve seen countless articles or webinars on how to be successful. But if you concentrate on the key element of consistency, across all the social media platforms you’re on and in your day-to-day processes, you’ll soon find your business gravitating towards success.

Know your brand!

I know from my own experience, that when you start in business, you pick the colours you like and the kind of image you want to convey to your target audience…then you get bored with it and go for a complete change. I’m not saying you shouldn’t make any changes, but if you are constantly changing your colours, images and fonts, it can make your brand appear unprofessional. A good, solid branding is what makes you stand out from the competition. If you look at any of the big brands, such as McDonald’s, they are highly consistent and instantly recognisable…because they rarely make big changes, if at all.  

Have a plan

Every business needs to have a plan. This keeps you on track and by following a plan of action, this helps not only keep you consistent, but also makes you focus on money so you can ensure your costs don’t rocket. If you’ve just started your business, this is even more important, so you don’t make costly decisions based on inconsistent actions.

Measurement

Measurement

No matter whether you’re a new business, or been going for a while, it takes time to see results. If you’re not consistent in your marketing, business processes, sales etc., you will see inconsistent results. For example, if you decide to pay for an ad, running it for just a couple of days is a waste of time and effort, but if you run it for a set period, you can measure much more easily whether the ad is working or not.   

Consistency in all its forms, but especially in the interactions you have with your clients, will help you build a loyal customer base, and your customers will get a great customer experience. This all comes down to the basics of knowing your target audience and understanding what they want from you and ensuring they get it. Being consistent means that your customer understands who you are, what your business stands for, what your business focusses on and how your products or services can help them.   

Three pillars of consistency!

The three pillars of consistency

The three pillars of consistency help you to focus on ensuring that your business has a sound base and is successful.

Accountability

If you are a small business, then it’s likely that the buck stops with you! You are totally accountable for everything that happens within your business, so it’s even more important to be consistent in everything you do.

  • Check your business goals and action plan regularly – adjust any goals that aren’t working.
  • Look at your products/services and regularly review to ensure they do what you say they do.
  • Look at your website and ensure that all the links work and that your copy is still relevant to your business and amend if you need to.
  • Look at your customer feedback – is there anything you can do to improve the service you give? Are all your products working for your customers? Do you have any complaints? If you do, try and address any problems and improve on your products/services.
  • Look at the communication you send out to customers – this might be a monthly newsletter. Is the content you’re putting out still relevant to your audience?

Relevancy

It’s really important to be consistent in your messaging. Your customers and potential customers rely on you for information about your products/services, things that make their lives easier.

It’s crucial that you stay the course and exercise patience. Things won’t happen immediately and it’s easy to be impatient and think that something isn’t working, but as with all things, whatever you decide to do with your business will take time. But if you’re consistent and keep plugging away, your brand will start to be in your target audience’s minds and your business will be successful.

Make sure your messaging is clear.

This might seem like an obvious point, but consistency with your messaging is key to a successful business. Wherever you advertise your business, be it on your logo, your flyers, your website, or your blog for example, you need to ensure that your overall message is the same. If your messaging is inconsistent, it will confuse your customers – they won’t be sure that what you’re selling is actually aimed at them.

As with everything in marketing, it’s about keeping things simple, clear and concise. Make your messaging memorable and use the same kind of wording, or ‘tone of voice’, so your audience recognise your style and know that it’s you – and more importantly, know that what you’re saying is meant for them.  

These pillars all help you to ensure consistency in your business. Consistency helps you create awareness of your business and brand, build trust and loyalty with your customers and deliver your products and services more efficiently. 

Hard skills vs soft skills of a marketer

As someone who does all the marketing for my business, I know there are many skills that marketers need. There are hard skills, which are more the technical and analytical side, and soft skills, the more creative, collaborative side.

Marketing Skills

Hard skills

Let’s take a look at the hard skills first.

Analytics

Analytics is about finding your way around the large sets of data, to help you interpret your audience’s behaviour, look at the performance of campaigns and measure the ROI (return on yours or your customer’s investment).

When working with content creation and product marketing, it’s imperative to be able to measure what you do and whether it’s having the desired outcome and impact on your target audience. Marketers with excellent hard skills like this are very sought after in both corporate and retail companies, as well as the smaller businesses.

There are several tools you can use to measure data, such as google analytics, and if you are a social media manager, using the insights on the pages you manage is invaluable.

Content Strategy

Content Strategy

If you are into content creation, then content marketing and a strategy is a fundamental part of your job. Here are a few statistics that illustrate the importance of content creation and content marketing.

  • 47% of B2B buyers consume three to five pieces of content before engaging with brand.  Source
  • 84% of people expect brands to produce content. Source
  • 91% of B2B marketers say that they use content marketing in their strategies. Source

So, you can see that content creation is a very valued skill. Content isn’t just about making a few pretty images, it’s about the sales pitch or the caption that is written to go along with the images you curate. Some social media channels require a short and concise caption, whilst others, such as Instagram, can be longer and more detailed.

Content creation also includes things like blog posts, articles, eBooks, emails and other written materials. Effective writing skills are very sought after and not something that can be automated. It’s a very human skill and crucial if you are a marketer.

Social Media

Most businesses use social media platforms to advertise their products or services and to put their brand out there. Over the past 10 years, social media has transformed the way that people interact with brands online and also the way that marketers communicate with target audiences.

All social media platforms have measurement tools to help you get to know the audience that follows you, likes and comments on your posts and generally engages with your business and brand. A social media content strategy will include setting goals for your business, based on social media posts and campaigns.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

There are literally billions of people interacting online at any one time during the day or night. Most of us look first to the internet if we want to buy something and even look at reviews of products or services before we even press that ‘buy now’ button. But how do they find what they’re looking for? That’s where SEO comes in.

If you’re a marketer, you need to at least have a fundamental understanding of SEO, so you can be sure that your business, or your customers’ business, is found online. This includes keywords and phrases to help Google find your business, when someone types into the Google search bar.   

SEO doesn’t just apply to websites and social media, it’s also vital to ensure that anything you post is optimised for mobile users as well as desktop, tablet or iPad users. Most website hosts do this for you, but it’s always worth checking that your content looks good on a mobile as that’s where most people do their searches.

Technology

Technology

This is kind of linked to analytics, but what I’m getting at here is actual technology, such as the tools and platforms that you might use to promote your business or help you manage your business. For example, if you send out a regular email or newsletter, the General Data Protection Regulations, (GDPR) states that you must get customers to opt-in to your emails – you can’t send them anything without their express permission. And the easiest way to do this is by setting up your opt-in on a platform, such as Convertkit, MailChimp or Mailerlite, which are the three platforms I use for my clients. When you set up your subscription opt-in on these platforms, they automatically ask the right questions so you are compliant with GDPR – they also give your customers the option to unsubscribe to your newsletter or email via a button at the bottom of each email that goes out – which keeps you compliant with the rules and regulations.     

SOFT SKILLS

Soft skills are the more creative and collaborative side of marketing, probably the bit that most marketers love – well I do!

As well as creativity etc., soft skills also include many different attributes, such as honesty, leadership, a good work ethic, time management – skills that are very difficult to quantify.

Here are some of the top soft skills.

Creativity

Creativity

This includes bringing new ideas and interpretation to common problems, and how to solve them using the written word.

Flexibility

Marketing means you have to be flexible – there are always new tasks to take on and new responsibilities constantly pop up. Very often, what you started off doing a few months ago for a client, will look very different 6 months down the line. You have to constantly be on top of new ways of doing things and you often have to hit the ground running with new platforms etc.

Resourcefulness and Adaptability

A resourceful marketer uses all the tools available to her, to find the most appropriate one for each customer or business. It’s also important to be on top of the analytics to help make that informed decision.

Marketers have to learn as much as they can about target audiences, in order to be able to make decisions about the way to market a product or service. Intuition and adaptability plays a big part here and covers things like quick decision making, keeping calm under pressure or going against the norm to achieve success for your clients.

Adaptability also means that you’re able to change plans at the drop of a hat and tackle new challenges with determination and vigour.  

Collaboration

You might work for a small business or a large corporation on their marketing. Whichever it is for you, collaboration will be a big part of everything you do. You need to build good, strong relationships with your clients and with other people who work for that client or company too. For example, you might be asked to do email marketing or write a regular blog post, and your client may already have a social media manager. You will definitely need to collaborate so that the social media marketing takes into account the emails or blog posts you write – and that subject matter is consistent with the overall marketing plan or strategy. 

Leadership

Leadership

Leadership is the last point I’m going to cover, but a crucially important one. So, what is leadership? It’s about having the ability to keep a good group dynamic, be able to lead a team with compassion, and inspire your team with your business insights, experience and innovation.

It’s also about being able to assess situations and defuse anything that could get out of hand. A leader will usually drive any collaborations, adapt to new technology and lead the marketing strategy in the best way possible.

A leader will need to know the customer or target audience inside out. What they like, don’t like, making sure that everything that’s done or suggested has the customer at the heart of everything. Are their problems being solved? What makes them happy? What makes them tick?

Marketing is something that never goes away. No matter whether your business is small (or just you!), or whether you own a multi-million organisation, marketing is the key to getting your products and services in front of your target audience. It’s not something that you can wing and hope it works – it needs to be carefully planned, organised and executed with a sound strategy.

If you’d like help to build your marketing strategy, find out who your target audience is and how to reach them, but don’t know how, drop me a mail and I can help.

cindymobey@outlook.com

How to use Facebook for business

Facebook is a great place to showcase and market your small business. It is totally free to set up a business Facebook account – you just have to have a personal account first, in order to be able to set it up.

I’m not going to go into the setting up of the actual page in this post, but if you need help with this, there is a great, step by step tutorial by Facebook that is really useful.

If you want your business to really blossom on social media, then Facebook is an excellent place to do just that. It’s a great place to market your business and, according to Facebook,”creating a Facebook page allows more than 2 billion people on Facebook to discover your business – think of your page as a digital shopfront.”

What do I post about?

With Facebook, you can create many different types of posts. Each different type of post has its benefits and can engage your audience in different ways. I always suggest that people use the 80/20 rule. That is to say, 80% posts that are engaging, entertaining, educate or inspire your audience, and 20% sales. Your audience don’t want to just be sold to all the time – they want to engage with you and your business and this also helps your brand. Your social media strategy should include all of these types of posts. Let’s look a bit deeper…

Facebook Text Post

A text post is exactly what it says on the tin – just straight forward text only…just words, no photos, no videos, and no links.

Although this type of post is direct, I wouldn’t say this was great for business – especially if your strategy is to drive traffic to your website or directly speak to your audience to get them to buy or engage with you and your brand. But text posts can be good to share opening hours or availability, but be aware that the Facebook algorithm doesn’t really like text only, so your reach may not be good.

Photo post

Generally, photo posts see a higher engagement than text posts. You can use photos, illustrations or infographics to catch your customers’ eye, so you need to think about the images you use. There are lots of free image sites out there where you can source photos – PLEASE don’t use google images and just copy and paste. Most of the images on google are not royalty free and you could get into trouble with copyright issues.  I use pixabay.com or unsplash.com – these are free sites and when you pick an image, it tells you that the image is free for commercial use, which means you can use it for social media or on your website. Of course, you can choose to also take your own photos – especially good if you sell products.

Photo posts are great for product-based businesses, as you can really show off your products and you can show behind the scenes shots – anything really that will engage your audience.

Video post

Videos have even higher engagement rates than photo posts. You can do short and sweet video announcements or you can do longer videos to explain something, or to do a ‘how to’ post.

Video automatically plays in your feed, so you’re guaranteed to catch your audience’s attention.   

Facebook Live

Facebook Live video is, as the name suggests, a video that you stream in real-time or ‘live’. This is really popular and a great way to show your authentic self and a fabulous way to connect with your audience. Some ideas you could use would be an introduction video so your audience get to know you better; you could do a Q&A post to let people know more about what you do or your products; you can do behind the scenes video or product demos…in fact anything you can think of.  

Link posts

A link post is exactly that – a post that shares a link (or URL) with your audience. This is great to share your website or blog site. You just copy and paste the URL of your website/blog post and paste it into a Facebook post. The link automatically shows your audience a preview of the site with an image from that site.

You can also share links to other sites – interesting articles or links to events that you might want to share. Just make sure that you add some of your own wording before you click ‘publish’, so it’s personal to you and speaks directly to your target audience.

Stories

If you’re on Instagram, you’ll know that you can publish stories on that platform. But Facebook stories are also a great way to get the attention of your followers. Just like Instagram, Facebook stories are photo based, or short video posts. The photos appear for five seconds and videos can be up to 20 seconds long. Like Instagram, they disappear after 24 hours. It’s a good way to give a quick sneaky peek at something you’re about to launch, or use it for intrigue for a competition or contest.

Pinned post

You can ‘pin’ any regular post – pinning a post means that it will always stay at the top of your page feed, so it will always be the first thing that people see when they visit your page.

Once you have created the post, simply click on the three dots to the right of your post – you’ll see the option to ‘pin post’. Once pinned, the post will say ‘pinned post’ above it. You can change it whenever you like. It’s good for giving important information or instructions to your audience…or as a temporary announcement.

Facebook Watch Party

You can use this feature to screen a public video on Facebook in real time, so you and your followers can experience it together. It’s a great way to create a buzz for a new product launch – and this is often used to launch a music video.

You can promote your watch party by creating an event.

Create event

If you do events, for example if you are a musician and you’re playing in a local bar, you can set up an event to advertise it. Not only a great way to advertise, you can also invite people to your event, you can add photos and information so people know exactly where and when the event is…and what they will get.

Other options

You can also post job listings, special offers and you can even use the option to raise money for a charity.

Marketing your business on Facebook

Now you know how you can post on Facebook and the different ways to post, how do you actually market your business? I talked earlier about the 80/20 rule; 80% engaging, entertaining, educating or inspiring your audience and 20% selling your products.

It’s best to plan your content strategy, so you know what you are going to post and when. There are loads of different types of posts that will do all these things.

Engagement – you can engage with your audience by asking questions, or you could give them information about your products/services without doing the hard sell. Talk about the features or benefits of your products/services – what’s in it for your potential customers? What does your product or service do for them? How can it help solve their problems?

Entertaining – these posts could be something funny or interesting to share.

Education – ‘How to’ posts or teaching your audience something about your business or products/services.

Inspiring – this could be in the form of inspirational quotes, or you could include a link to an inspirational article that you like – or one linked to your particular type of business.

The final type of course, is selling – this would include images of your products, advertising what you sell or what your services are.

In a previous blog, I talk about the different types of posts you could incorporate into your content strategy – click here to find out more.   

How do potential customers find your page?

This is all about you engaging with your target market. You need to know who your ideal client is and what they like. Join groups on Facebook, via your personal page – there are several that are set up for Facebook to specifically help you engage with like-minded businesses and your target audience. For example, Hike Those Likes Market Place is a friendly group where you can meet other small businesses. They have regular, daily engagement sessions that you can join and leave a link to your business. Other people follow you if they like your business. Once they follow you, every time you post, it will appear on their timeline – and so everyone who has liked their page will also see your post.

You can use the search bar to search for your target audience and engage with their pages. Once you have followed them, you will see their posts. Comment on their posts – a pointer here is to be totally genuine – don’t just comment for the sake of it, but only if you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Facebook ads

You can also create an advertisement for your business on Facebook. This is all about getting your message in front of your target audience – those that are most likely to want what you sell or provide. There are different types of Facebook ads and targeting options. To find out more about ads, Hootsuite have a great guide.  

And finally, measurement

How do you measure whether or not your posts are successful? You can find this out by using Facebook analytics or Insights.

Facebook Insights will let you know which types of posts work best for your business. It measures things such as:

  • likes/follows
  • reach – how many people saw your post
  • engagement – how many people liked, clicked, shared or commented on your posts

It also tells you which posts result in people who ‘unlike’ your page.

Conclusion

Facebook is a great platform for small businesses and if you put in some time to understand how it works…and more importantly, what works best in terms of post type and frequency etc., you really can take your business to the next level.

If you need help with your Facebook business page, please feel free to contact me.

cindymobey@outlook.com

Customer Loyalty programme – good or bad?

What is a customer loyalty programme?

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

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

Why use a customer loyalty programme?

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

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

The Pros

Customer Retention

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

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

Direct communication with your customers

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

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

Data on customer trends

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

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

Brand differentiation

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

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

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

The Cons   

All loyalty programmes look the same

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

Loyalty costs money

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

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

Is the behaviour you witness actual loyalty?  

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

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

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

Data does have its limitations

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Thank you for reading!   

Discover my 7 Cs of marketing

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

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

Credibility

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

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

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

Customer

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

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

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

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

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

Consistency

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

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

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

Creativity

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

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

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

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

Community/Communications  

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

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

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

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

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

Customer Service

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

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

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

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

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

Conversion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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