I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions on a personal basis, but I do try and do it for my business, as I find it makes me review my business for the coming year and decide what I need to do more effectively. Here are a few general pointers…
Get a new diary or journal for your various projects, so you can keep your meetings, training sessions and appointments up to date and also have a place to write down your ideas. Keep it with you at all times in case you get inspiration when you are out.
Learn something new…choose something you enjoy or are interested in to learn in 2018. It might be related to your business, or something that you can do in your downtime. It’s important to do both to ensure you have a good work-life balance.
Do you have a media kit? If not, you might like to think about having one so you have all your promotional materials to hand.
Rearrange your work space so that it’s a pleasant environment to work in and if you like to work with music, pull together a playlist of songs that you will enjoy working to.
Now onto the more business and practical side of running your business…
Manage your cash flow more effectively…try and build up some capital to invest back into your business and have a little in reserve for emergencies.
How often do you look at your digital presence? If you have a website, make sure that it is mobile-friendly and take some time to review and update your website content. Do you have an email marketing list? If you don’t, now is the time to think about creating one. If digital isn’t something you’ve done yet, it will be worth adding this to your resolution list.
Does your brand still say what you want it to about your business? If not, it might be worth you looking at rebranding.
Charge what you are worth – this is much easier said than done – I think we’re all guilty of underselling ourselves. Have a look at what other businesses charge who do the same as you and make sure you are on a par with them.
What about social media? All small businesses can benefit from social media…have a look at other similar businesses to yours – what do they use? Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter? Research what is best for you and go for it.
Do you have a business blog? This is something that can really help push your business and what you do…definitely something to think about. A blog can serve two purposes…one, to help set you up as an expert in your field and two, to show your human side, who you are and help your audience get to know you.
These are just a few ideas and I’m sure you can think of many more. The next step is to put your resolutions into action…transform them into goals for your business and put them into your business plan for 2018. Then you have a record of what you want to do and can you can work on how to achieve each one.
Finally, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year and I hope you achieve all you wish for in 2018.
This sounds like just another one of those buzz word things – so what am I talking about?
Every business wants their customers to be happy with the service and experience they receive. But, unless you have your customers in mind at every single touch point, you could be missing out on some great opportunities to delight them and keep them coming back for more.
What is a touchpoint? According to SurveyMonkey, the definition of a touchpoint is “…any time a customer or potential customer comes into contact with your brand…before, during or after they purchase something from you”
You may have great products, delivered on time and with a smile, but if your advertising isn’t on target, or they receive billing mistakes, or have to deal with a clumsy and clunky website, you can scare your customers away. Luckily, these touchpoints are easily fixed and within our control.
Let’s take a look at the general touchpoints a customer will come across…these are just some examples.
Before a sale – Social Media sites, Website, Customer reviews, Advertising/Marketing.
During a sale – Shop or office, Catalogue, Phone.
After a sale – Billing, Emails, Newsletter
Make a list of the touchpoints your customers have with you, then look at them in turn, e.g. your website…is it easy to navigate? Do the tabs point to the right things? Do the links work? Are you easy to contact? Do customers get a quick reply if they do contact you?
Supercharge your touchpoints
Now it’s time to supercharge your touchpoints for a better customer experience.
Personal touch – Try and speak to a customer wherever you can as most people like to be treated as individuals. I prefer to speak to a real person, not an automated service as I can ask questions and, if there is something I don’t understand, I can simply ask. It is also easier to build a relationship with your customers if you actually take the time to talk to them, as it makes them feel valued. They will feel that they are important to you and your business, that their custom is appreciated and that their opinion matters.
Consistent Service levels – Be consistent across all your dealings with customers, not just on the phone. You have won their custom and now it is time to build their loyalty and gain that all important customer satisfaction. So, not only ensure that you give excellent customer service on the telephone, ensure that they receive the same experience if they email you, such as a prompt reply, with the answer or solution they want wherever possible.
Know your customers – Know what your customers want and who they are. If you can solve a problem for a customer, do it…they will always remember that you went that extra mile…and will recommend you to family and friends. Something that you did this year that went really well, might not work next year – never make assumptions where your customers are concerned. One of the simplest ways to know what your customers want is to ask them. This could be via a courtesy phone call (but be careful not to be a nuisance), via a short survey or hold an event, where you can interact directly with your customers and they can see who you are and meet you properly.
Resolve any mistakes – If you make a mistake, own up to it and put it right quickly. Don’t blame anyone else, just resolve it and offer some kind of compensation, such as 10% off their next order. The four step system is a good way to deal with complaints.
Listen to the complaint…don’t argue or put the blame on someone else – the customer doesn’t want to hear this – he/she just wants you to listen to what they have to say.
Acknowledge the complaint – let the customer know that you understand their complaint by relaying it back to them. This not only shows that you have been listening but gives hope that something will be done. Thank them for bringing the situation to your attention and assure them that something will be done.
Solve the complaint – if you can, resolve the issue, keeping the customer informed along the way. In the first instance, after you have acknowledged the complaint, say that you will look into it and will get back to them within 24 hours – even if you haven’t resolved the problem yet, ring them within 24 hours to let them know what’s happening. Keeping them informed every step of the way is very important in keeping that customer in future and lets them know that they are a valued customer.
Thank them – you have already done this when you acknowledged the complaint but do it again. If the issue has taken or is like to take a long time to resolve, maybe offer them some kind of compensation – a money-off voucher or a free gift.
Appreciate your customers – Let your customers know they are valued, e.g. send regular customers a ‘thank you’ card, or give them a money off voucher for being loyal, or ask if they’d like their purchases gift-wrapped.
It’s also really crucial to look past the sale…once your customer has bought something from you, don’t make it the last time they hear from you…follow up the sale and ask how they are getting on with the product. Are they happy with it? Do they think it could be improved? Do they have any questions about that or any other product that you sell? They may tell you about a problem they have that you can solve for them, or give you an idea for a new product.
If your customers are really happy with the goods and/or services they receive from you, ask them if they could write a short review, either on your Facebook page or on your website…or if they prefer, they can send to you on email. Ask if it’s OK to share their review with other customers and potential customers.
Whether your business is a huge concern, or just a one-man/woman team, excellent customer service must be at the heart of everything you do. It can take extra time and resources, time and money, but good customer service leads directly to customer satisfaction, which can generate great business for you via word of mouth. It can also you’re your business thrive and ultimately be a success. Never underestimate the power of good customer service – it’s your businesses life-blood.
Please feel free to email me if you have any questions or need any help with your marketing. I offer a free discovery call to discuss your business and how I can help.
We all want our businesses to stand out from the crowd. Although it takes some time and effort, it’s worth it to have a unique identity that is instantly recognisable. Here are a few ideas that can help you along your way to having your own brand identity.
You may not think it important for a small business to have a brand, but having a brand is one of your greatest assets. Lots of big companies try to look like small businesses in order to appeal to customers who prefer to support smaller, independent brands. Your brand isn’t just about your logo, slogan and design scheme, but also about the experience your customers get at every touch point with you.
The first thing to do is to think about a mission statement for your business, which is a short sentence about what your purpose is. We all know Nike’s tagline, ‘Just Do It’ but did you know that their mission statement is ‘To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world’. So their mission statement encapsulates everything that the company is about and wants to achieve in one short sentence. This is no mean feat, but achievable for your business with a bit of thought. You could always get a few friends round and have a ‘get my mission statement’ party…but make sure you work on the statement before you start drinking…or you could have some very interesting stuff!
It can be easier to think of your brand as a person – what does it like or do? How does it help people? What do you want customers to remember about your business? It’s important to be consistent across everything you do and give the same high quality service and friendly attitude to every customer, so they all have the same or similar experience. This is especially important if you’re dealing with a complaint – be consistent; apologise; find out what went wrong and why and then try and put it right, keeping the customer informed. By doing this you can often turn a complaint around into something positive and turn the complainant into a loyal future customer. I think that the main thing to remember is to always consider your branding with every interaction with a customer.
So, now that we’ve looked at the experience you want your branding to give you customer, it’s time to look at the more practical stuff – business name, logo, colours and design – these are important and help shape your brand, but you need to know what the mission statement of your business is first before you begin, as this helps everything else fall into place.
Choose a business name – what name you choose will depend on what you do. I chose to use my name, coupled with what I do ‘Cindy Mobey Freelance Writer’ – does what it says on the tin. But you might want something that is catchy and captures the nature of your business. Think long and hard as once it’s out there, that is how people will see your business. Logo – Once you have your name, you could incorporate that into a logo – again to make your business recognisable. As well as an overall logo, you could also have smaller logos for individual product lines. Brand Colours – The colours you choose are more important than you might think – according to research by web design and marketing company, WebPageFX, people make a subconscious judgement about a product in less than 90 seconds of viewing, and a majority of these people base that assessment on colour alone. In fact almost 85% of consumers cite colour as the primary reason they buy a particular product and 80% believe that colour increases brand recognition. Wow! That’s quite powerful. Tagline – The most important thing with producing a tagline is to be succinct. Your tagline captures what your business does and its values in one, very short sentence. For example, Nike use ‘Just do it’ – L’Oréal use ‘..because you’re worth it’ – both very powerful brands with very simple, catchy taglines that tell you what they want you to remember about them. In order to help you come up with your tagline, concentrate on the features of your business, how your products make people feel. Make a list of all the good things about your business …do your products enhance someone’s life?…make them feel more beautiful?…provide solutions to your customer’s problems? Then brainstorm words that describe those things – it might be worth getting a few friends together to help you brainstorm. Once you have a few words, you can come up with a tagline. Fonts – When looking at your brand for the first time, people will notice the colours and also the font – the way the brand name is written. There are so many different fonts, so try and choose one or two that enhance your business name…for example if you sell vintage jewellery, look at a vintage font. Tone of voice – Most big companies go for straight forward language or the ‘plain English’ approach. This helps customers easily understand what you’re saying without having to wrestle with big words, long sentences or jargon. Keep the language simple and friendly and you can’t go far wrong!
I hope this has helped you think about what you might like your brand identity to be – let me know if you have any other ideas, or if you need help to set the brand identity for your business.
Images courtesy of 1 & 2) Stuart Miles, 3) Keerati 4) boulemonademoon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
At the beginning of the year, I’m always raring to go, setting my business goals for the year and getting my business and marketing plan up to date. I try to review my goals every three months, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes family crises or just life in general gets in the way. So it’s time to take a look at those goals I set and see how I’m shaping up. How about you?
Take a look
Reviewing your business goals is a good habit to get into and can really help you focus your efforts in the right place for the next quarter, or for the rest of the year. It’s also a fabulous feeling when you look at your goals and realise that you’ve achieved one or more and you can put a big, fat tick next to it!
What has worked well?
You may have achieved all your goals already – if you have, it’s time to set some more challenging goals, something a little harder to get to.
Of course, when you achieve any of your goals, you should feel proud of yourself and it’s always good to celebrate the wins, whether they are big or small. I find that celebrating the little things is highly motivational and spurs me on to want to achieve more.
If your business involves sales, then you may find that you have achieved a certain level, but would like to go further – brainstorm ideas to help you get more sales – would an end of year campaign help? Now is the time to think about setting a competition or challenge to customers to encourage them to buy more with you. Customers always like an incentive and competitions are popular, particularly if there’s a good prize. Alternatively you could set a challenge. For example, invite your customers to introduce five new people who buy a product from you by Christmas…in return they get a voucher for 20% off if they spend 100€. Some of the big stores do this in the UK and it works very well for them.
What isn’t working so well?
Is there anything that just isn’t working for you? Sometimes there is no answer other than to bin it for now…or put the goal on the back burner for next year. But before you do that, is there another approach you could take to achieve what you want? You may simply have been a little over-ambitious. If this is the case, could you break down that goal into smaller, bite-sized chunks? The goal will take longer to achieve, but giving yourself a little flexibility will help make the long term aim much more attainable.
Sometimes a goal can’t be achieved because of other influences. For example, if you decide you’d like to learn more about a particular subject, your goal might be to go on a specific course. But if your business is very busy and other family commitments get in the way of actually getting on the course, it won’t be achieved. This doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means you may have to postpone that particular goal…maybe for a few months, maybe for a year. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Finally, if you do decide to change or set new goals for the rest of the year, make sure that you aren’t setting yourself an impossible task. Good luck with your reviews – let me know how you get on!
Images courtesy of Stuart Miles and David Castillo Domenici and Lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When we think of marketing our businesses, most of us focus our attention on getting new customers. It always feels more constructive and is more financially appealing to gain new customers, but unless your business is a new one, it is worth looking at how to gain more value out of your existing customers too.
Who are they? You may want to attract new customers to build your customer base. In order to find those elusive ‘first time buyers’, you need to think about who you are trying to attract. What kind of customer does your business appeal to? Is it men, women, families, people who like sport? Think about who you need to target.
Where are they? Once you know who you are targeting, you can look at where they are and how you can contact them – are they online or offline? Are they in a particular area? If you are selling sports items for example, you know that you could find your potential customers at the gym or at health clubs.
How do you contact new customers? If your customers are online, you could target them through social media, blogs and forums. You can advertise online in business directories or online publications.
For offline customers, you could advertise in local free papers, put out flyers in places you know they will be, such as gyms, health clubs, hairdressers or beauty salons, for example. You could also attend networking meetings or conventions where you can meet new people face to face. Always carry your business cards, so you can give them out or leave a small stock wherever you go.
Solve a problem
You need to be seen as an expert in your field, so try and solve a problem for potential customers. Think of something that your products can do for them – this gives them a reason to try your products. It might be that you sell beauty products and you have the latest ‘big thing’ that makes wrinkles disappear! Sell your product as a solution to a problem and people will want to try it. This could be done face to face, or you could write a specific blog on a particular product or service you offer.
It might be that your products or services work well alongside another product or service. So, team up with another business and sell your products or services together. For example, if you sell beauty products and you know a hairdresser, you could team up as a full beauty package. Link to each other on your websites and mention each other in your blogs.
Obtaining new customers is all about building new relationships, so take every opportunity to do just that.
Retaining existing customers
We all want to grow our customer base, but if you focus on growing your existing customers, you are more likely to keep them. If you have lost customers, have you ever taken a step backwards to work out why? We all spend a lot of time and effort trying to get new customers, but we must never lose sight of keeping a relationship with our existing customers.
Once the initial sale has been made, it’s important to build on that relationship….thank them for their custom and remind them why it was such a good decision to buy from you in the first place. Getting to know your customers and giving them what they want will create loyalty and they will return to you again and again. I once employed a general builder to lay a patio…whilst laying the patio, he mentioned that he was Corgi registered, so I promptly booked him to service my gas boiler. He always arrived on time, cleared up after himself and was chatty and friendly and made me feel that my custom really mattered to him. So, when the massive wall that surrounded my property partially came down in very high winds, he was the first person I called. My point is that from doing a small job, he ensured I knew what else he could do, left a card, and was so friendly, I remembered him. I knew he could solve the problem I had and trusted him to do the work well.
Bringing back old customers
Do you have customers that you haven’t heard from for a while? These customers know you and your products already, so it’s a matter of getting back in touch and reminding them that you’re still here. You could ask them why they’re no longer buying from you, endeavour to overcome any problems, and show them that you still value their business. Sometimes, all it takes is to reintroduce yourself – a customer may just have forgotten that they had bought from you in the first place and immediately be interested in other or new products you have to offer. If you sell gift items, contact them in plenty of time to buy gifts for Christmas…and of course, that can be your opening gambit!
I know that I bang on about customer service in most of my blogs, but it is so important to every aspect of your business. If your customers have an exceptional experience, they will come back for more. Helpful, friendly, go the extra mile – all these things, along with an excellent product that solves their problems, will keep your customers happy…. and happy customers are loyal customers.
Images courtesy of 1) renjith krishnan 2) Salvatore Vuono 3) David Castillo Domenici 4) hywards 5) Mister GC 6) stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net