Consistency is crucial to your business, as it helps establish awareness of your brand, builds trust with your audience, and helps deliver your products or services more efficiently.
Running your own business is hard work and I’m sure you’ve seen countless articles or webinars on how to be successful. But if you concentrate on the key element of consistency, across all the social media platforms you’re on and in your day-to-day processes, you’ll soon find your business gravitating towards success.
Know your brand!
I know from my own experience, that when you start in business, you pick the colours you like and the kind of image you want to convey to your target audience…then you get bored with it and go for a complete change. I’m not saying you shouldn’t make any changes, but if you are constantly changing your colours, images and fonts, it can make your brand appear unprofessional. A good, solid branding is what makes you stand out from the competition. If you look at any of the big brands, such as McDonald’s, they are highly consistent and instantly recognisable…because they rarely make big changes, if at all.
Have a plan
Every business needs to have a plan. This keeps you on track and by following a plan of action, this helps not only keep you consistent, but also makes you focus on money so you can ensure your costs don’t rocket. If you’ve just started your business, this is even more important, so you don’t make costly decisions based on inconsistent actions.
No matter whether you’re a new business, or been going for a while, it takes time to see results. If you’re not consistent in your marketing, business processes, sales etc., you will see inconsistent results. For example, if you decide to pay for an ad, running it for just a couple of days is a waste of time and effort, but if you run it for a set period, you can measure much more easily whether the ad is working or not.
Consistency in all its forms, but especially in the interactions you have with your clients, will help you build a loyal customer base, and your customers will get a great customer experience. This all comes down to the basics of knowing your target audience and understanding what they want from you and ensuring they get it. Being consistent means that your customer understands who you are, what your business stands for, what your business focusses on and how your products or services can help them.
The three pillars of consistency
The three pillars of consistency help you to focus on ensuring that your business has a sound base and is successful.
If you are a small business, then it’s likely that the buck stops with you! You are totally accountable for everything that happens within your business, so it’s even more important to be consistent in everything you do.
Check your business goals and action plan regularly – adjust any goals that aren’t working.
Look at your products/services and regularly review to ensure they do what you say they do.
Look at your website and ensure that all the links work and that your copy is still relevant to your business and amend if you need to.
Look at your customer feedback – is there anything you can do to improve the service you give? Are all your products working for your customers? Do you have any complaints? If you do, try and address any problems and improve on your products/services.
Look at the communication you send out to customers – this might be a monthly newsletter. Is the content you’re putting out still relevant to your audience?
It’s really important to be consistent in your messaging. Your customers and potential customers rely on you for information about your products/services, things that make their lives easier.
It’s crucial that you stay the course and exercise patience. Things won’t happen immediately and it’s easy to be impatient and think that something isn’t working, but as with all things, whatever you decide to do with your business will take time. But if you’re consistent and keep plugging away, your brand will start to be in your target audience’s minds and your business will be successful.
Make sure your messaging is clear.
This might seem like an obvious point, but consistency with your messaging is key to a successful business. Wherever you advertise your business, be it on your logo, your flyers, your website, or your blog for example, you need to ensure that your overall message is the same. If your messaging is inconsistent, it will confuse your customers – they won’t be sure that what you’re selling is actually aimed at them.
As with everything in marketing, it’s about keeping things simple, clear and concise. Make your messaging memorable and use the same kind of wording, or ‘tone of voice’, so your audience recognise your style and know that it’s you – and more importantly, know that what you’re saying is meant for them.
These pillars all help you to ensure consistency in your business. Consistency helps you create awareness of your business and brand, build trust and loyalty with your customers and deliver your products and services more efficiently.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.