How to promote your customer loyalty programme

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

What is loyalty marketing?

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

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

Why is loyalty marketing so important?

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

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

Make it simple  

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

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

Add value 

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

Give new members a gift

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

Give an incentive to introduce a friend

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

Personalise the programme

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

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

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

Let your customers know that you listen 

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

Get customer feedback

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

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

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

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

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

Promote at every opportunity

This means at every single customer touch point.

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Discover my 7 Cs of marketing

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

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

Credibility

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

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

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

Customer

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

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

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

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

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

Consistency

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

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

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

Creativity

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

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

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

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

Community/Communications  

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

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

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

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

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

Customer Service

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

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

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

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

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

Conversion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you know how to market your content?

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

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

Traditional marketing vs Content marketing

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

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

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

What kind of content can I share online?

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

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

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

How do you market your valuable content?

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

Website

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

Email

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

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

Social Media

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

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

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Choosing the right keywords will help your content get seen.

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

Link building

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

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

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

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

Headlines

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

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

Images

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

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

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

Revisit and repurpose your content

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

How to write creative, persuasive content

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

There are four forms of content…

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

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

Create a content strategy

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

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

Know your audience

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

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

Written content

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

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

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

Audio

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

Video Marketing

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

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

Images

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

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

AND SO, ONTO YOUR ACTUAL CONTENT

Writing your content

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

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

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

Why is a headline so important?

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

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

Write content your readers will remember

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

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

Using persuasive writing

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

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

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

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

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

How to measure customer satisfaction

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

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

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

Why should you measure customer satisfaction?

I’ve already mentioned one reason – customer dissatisfaction.

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

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

Customer retention

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

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

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

Negative comments can damage your brand 

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

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

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

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

Enhance that all important customer experience

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

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

Measurement Strategy

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

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

CSAT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conduct an interview on the telephone

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

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

Analytic tools  

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

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

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

Live Chat and Social Media

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

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

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

Marketing emails

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

Text

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

Customer Experience Factors

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

Pricing

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

Offer easy access to support 24/7

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

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

Educational content and training

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

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

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

Build a community on social media

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

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

Cancelling contracts or subscriptions  

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

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

Customer incentive scheme  

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

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

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

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

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

What makes storytelling so powerful?

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

Why is it so powerful? 

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

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

Make it unforgettable and meaningful     

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

Emotion plays a part

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

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

How to tell your story?

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t underestimate the value of Word of Mouth Marketing

What is Word of Mouth Marketing?

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

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

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

Example of WOMM

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

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

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

It’s all about TRUST

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

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

Can’t I just make up some great reviews?   

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

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

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

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

How is WOMM different to referral marketing?

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

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

How to do WOM Marketing

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

 

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

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

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

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

How to reach your target audience

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

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

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

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

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

Building a communication/PR strategy  

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

Social Media

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

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

Get into publications they read

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

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

Networking events

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

Creative Content

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

Appeal to emotions

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

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

Solve a problem

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

The time factor

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

DON’T push the sales angle

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

Ask questions

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

Share and improve your Brand

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

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

Publish a case study

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

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

Marketing Mix – the 7 Ps

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

How do the 7 Ps work?  

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

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

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

Product

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

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

Price  

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

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

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

Place

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

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

Promotion

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

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

People

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

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

Process

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

Processes include:

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

Physical evidence

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

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

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

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

Benefits of using the 7 Ps in your marketing planning

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

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

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

How to identify your target market

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

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

Identifying your target market is all about three things; Demographic, Geographics and Psychographics. 

Demographics

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

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

You could also get this information from feedback you get. For example, if you make and produce quality rag dolls, you may have feedback that says “Love your product, my daughter/grand-daughter loves her doll and hasn’t put it down since she received it.”  This tells you that your customer is a Mum and Grandma and that she likes buying things for her grandchildren.

Knowing the demographics of your existing customers makes it easier to tailor your marketing accordingly.

If you’re really not sure who your target market it, go to Google and research some of your competitors, people who do the same as you, and look at their marketing techniques. Who are they targeting and how? What are the messages they are sending out? What images do they use? What media do they use to advertise? You will then have an idea of what direction you should be aiming for with your business. 

Geographics

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

Psychographics – why customers buy what they do

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

Psychographics include things like:

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

Interests

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

For example:

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

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

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

Activities

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

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

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

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

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

Religious Beliefs

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

Attitudes

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

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

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

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

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

However, psychographics are difficult to gain and take a huge amount of time, effort and research in order for you to gain all the information you need. This is one of the reasons why big companies have a marketing department, solely dedicated to finding out who the customers are and working out the right way to market their products to attract those customers. If you combine the data you collect on the demographic and psychographics of your customers, you can paint a picture of what your potential buyer (or your buyer persona) will look like and who they are. Let’s have a look at one example …

Buyer persona 

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

Demographic data

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

Psychographic data

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to find her

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

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

Survey your existing customers

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

Analyse the feedback you have from your customers

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

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

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

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

How do your customers like to buy their products?

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

Selling online

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

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

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

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

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

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