Build Relationships with Customers and See Your Business Grow

All lasting business is built on friendship” is a quotation from Alfred A. Montopert.  Do you agree?  Every successful business is built on relationships.  It may not appear to be a realistic statement, but in reality when you do a careful analysis, you’ll see that the gradual progression starts from when you build relationships with customers, become their friends, or at the least someone they trust, this opens you up to clearing a path that can lead to business growth and success.

This is the kind of relationship that businesses should seek to develop with their customers from the outset.  Small businesses especially can get an even greater handle on building relationships with their customers as they have the advantage of being able to communicate with a smaller group of people. If they are a brick and mortar business, they have the further advantage of face to face contact.

Loyal Customer and Raving Fan

Recently I was at a networking event and a gentleman began talking about his bank.  He went on and on and the expression on his face was a delight to see.    Read more>>>

How do you manage customer relationships in your business?  Do you have a system or do you just go with the flow?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

LinkedIn – Benefits of Publishing and Sharing Content on LinkedIn

LinkedIn recently announced that it was opening up its publishing platform to all of its users on a gradual, phased-basis.  Previously it was opened up to a relatively few Influencers, like Richard Branson, President Barak Obama, Bill Gates, and so on.

According to says Ryan Roslansky, Head of Content Products at LinkedIn, “One of our big, strategic bets for the company is for LinkedIn to become the definitive, professional publishing platform…  We do this because we want LinkedIn to be the place where members can become productive, successful professionals – not just when you’re trying to find a job, or search for another person.”

What are the benefits of publishing and sharing content on LinkedIn?

Some immediate benefits include: your posts will get in front of a larger audience.  If you’ve been struggling to get more readers to your blog, this should change things; especially if you’ve built a large number of connections on LinkedIn.  A follow-up to that is that your brand will get more exposure.
I found that this article, which made some great points on the benefits of publishing and sharing content on LinkedIn.   Why and How you Should Publish and Share Content on LinkedIn –  You’ll see that a few reminders are given, such as:

–  It’s important to know your audience

–  Why you should participate in the Network

–   How you can take advantage of sharing tools.

Have you thought about the benefits of publishing and sharing on LinkedIn?  Do you plan to start?  Because this is relatively new, I’ve not personally taken advantage of it yet, but it’s on my schedule to start this quarter.

Please share your successes and challenges in the comments area if you’ve already begun.  If you’ve not and you need tips and strategies, just leave a comment with your message and I’ll be sure to share them as soon as I get started.

 

 

 

Why Grow Your Email List Quickly

grow email list quicklyIf you have been around Internet Marketing for any length of time, you’ve seen promotions, or maybe even emails delivered right into your Inbox that proclaim the fortune that can be yours without having an email list. In some cases it is possible to make sales before you have your own list, but when those people buy they do go on someone’s list. Why not start to grow your email list quickly?

A responsive email list is a list of subscribers who have ‘opted-in’ to receive emails from you. They’ve signed up because they’re interested in the content and offers you can give them. This list is made up of people who’ve raised their hand to say that it’s ok for you to communicate with them in writing, and it’s a very valuable part of your business.  There is truth that “The fortune is in the (responsive) list.”

7 Reasons Why You Should Grow Your Email List Quickly

1.  An Entrance to Your Sales Funnel
When a person subscribes to your list, they’re starting a relationship with you and your business. This is a good way to draw prospects into your sales funnel. From here, you can engage your subscribers with valuable information and offers.

  1. Relationship Building
    Because email marketing is a more direct and personal approach, it’s a great way to build a relationship between you and your customers, which is what all businesses need and want.
  1. Educate your Contacts

In addition to you blog, your emails are valuable for educating your subscribers and responding to questions they may ask.

  1. Feedback

Email marketing isn’t just a one-way interaction. You also get feedback from your subscribers on how you’re doing. This feedback comes from your email marketing analytics and also directly when subscribers send you messages or when you ask them questions.

5.  Personalize Your Marketing
When someone opts in to your list, they’re making a mental commitment. It’s not the same as casually dropping in on your blog or website. A list creates a personal connection between your company and your customers.

6.  Exclusive Offers
The offers you make through your email list are valuable to your subscribers partly because they’re exclusive. That is, you can only get them by joining the list. This creates a special “club” for your customers, a kind of loyalty program.

7.  An Asset to Your Business
A list of subscribers adds value to your company. Your email list can be calculated as an asset belonging to your business. If you have a large and responsive list, this can help to boost your profits as you build the relationship then make them offers that you know will appeal to them.

Before starting your list, it’s important to decide exactly what you’d like to do with it. Is it going to be an entrance into your sales funnel, a vehicle to build your brand’s reputation, or a means of profiting directly? If you define your purpose well, you’ll better understand why you need to grow your email list quickly, and what you need to do in order to keep your subscribers looking forward to your emails.

Nicole Dean and Melissa Ingold have created an excellent training package on Growing Your List Fast on their authority site, and if you’re interested in how to grow your email list quickly, I  recommend that you go over to their coaching site and get that report then start growing your email list quickly.

Are you confused about the different areas of Online Marketing?  Do you have specific questions on how to market your business online? Go ahead and fill out the questionnaire and I’ll contact you to schedule your complimentary Business Breakthrough Strategy Session as soon as mutually convenient.

Do Your Milestones Support Your Destination?

road to destination; road to goalAs we drove across Florida from the east to west coast and back my thoughts were on milestones. The trip is approximately 150 miles each way, and my way of dealing with long trips is to break them up and assign various towns a milestone which I mentally cross off as we travel.

What is a milestone? Wikepedia describes  milestones as “…provide reference points along the road. This can be used to reassure travelers that the proper path is being followed, and to indicate either distance traveled or the remaining distance to a destination.”

What does this have to do with your business? A lot! Let’s explore this together.

  1. Starting Point and Destination: Every journey has a starting point and unless you’re the type of adventurous traveler who stops anywhere your mind tells you to, you will have a destination in mind and a planned route on how to get there.

As a small business owner or entrepreneur you must have a plan for your business. I’m not talking about the kind of plan you may need to take to a bank to seek financing. This kind of plan usually ends up in a drawer and is never looked at again.

I’m referring to a basic Business Plan that outlines your mission and your vision, your purpose, who your ideal clients are, how you will serve them…and your destination…your end goal.

  1. Your Road Map: This is the Action Plan referred to above. This document should include your short-term and long-term goals along with the steps to reach these goals.

Sometimes you have a route all mapped out, and along the way you encounter a blockade or an unexpected barrier so you may have to make a detour. The same is true of your journey as a business owner. How you deal with the detours and blocks that arise in your business will determine if you forge ahead with your goal or if you go out of business. This is where your Purpose will play a significant role as it is what will keep you going when unexpected negative situations arise.

  1. Milestones: The Milestones in your business are the steps that will take you to your goal. Just as milestoneI’ve associated certain towns with milestone numbers so I know that I’m getting close to my destination, you need written steps to lead you to your goal. Under each of those larger steps would be a breakdown of the smaller steps that support each milestone.

These milestones are the steps that what will let you know if you’re keeping on track to take you to your destination…your Goal.

  1. Your Destination – Your Goal: Your destination is your goal or finish line that allows you to live the dream that you have for yourself and your business. Keep in mind that your destination or goal can also have different levels of achievement. For example, a Solopreneur may have a goal of building a consulting business with 25 regular clients and an income of $150,000 per year. What if you achieved the goal of 25 clients but your income has not reached $150,000? You’d have to devise a new action plan with new milestones to arrive at this goal.

Remember that a goal is just a dream if you fail to write it down. Do your milestones support your destination? Do you have a clear destination or goal for your business?  If you need to stop and assess where you are and create a clear direction as to where you’re going, go ahead and complete the Breakthrough Quiz so we can schedule a time to talk.

5 Ways to Use Audio on Your Website

If you’d like to listen to this post, click here.

In my previous post regarding content creation with audio, we discussed several reasons why you should include audio on your website. These include adapting to your readers’ and customers’ learning style, and convenience.  What are some ways to use audio?

Ways to Use Audio

mp3 playerThe following is by no means a comprehensive list as you can use your creativity as well as do additional research to identify other formats and ways to use audio on your website.

  • Record a podcast. This is similar to blogging, only it is done in audio form. Users can subscribe to your podcast so that it is automatically downloaded to their feed readers or iPods. I love the fact that I can subscribe to podcasts in different ways.  For example, I can subscribe to iTunes, but many marketers have set up a non-iTunes RSS feed so that you can get their podcasts right into the Podcast app that comes on many phones as a standard feature.
  • Do a streaming talk radio show. This is a great way to get targeted visitors to your website, and it allows you to interact with your audience by accepting calls or answering emails while you’re on the air. I use InstantTeleseminar for my teleclasses and conference calls.  There is a feature that allows you to create links on your website so that your audience is actually listening and participating via the web form right from your website.  Think of the benefits that come from doing this as far as the overall time visitors stay on your website!
  • Offer recordings of online conferences or presentations for download. This gives visitors an incentive to come to your site, and it may well entice them to participate in future conferences.  Also, as they listen to the way you delivered your presentation, they can decide if they want to work with you further.
  • Record a message for visitors to your site. Tell them a little about yourself, suggest areas of the site to visit first, or just welcome them. This adds a unique personal touch.
  • Record some of your blog posts so that persons can listen as they read, thereby getting two senses involved – the eyes and ears.  This way the points with be even more effective.

There are a number of file formats that you can use when saving audio, but it is important ipod-video-490822-s earphonesto use popular ones so that your users will be able to listen to them easily. The most popular format for most types of recorded audio is MP3. It offers great file compression while preserving the quality of the audio. Just about every computer has an application that can play MP3 files.  There are also many free applications that you can download from the Internet, although I will remind you to proceed with caution, and make sure you download ONLY the MP3 player from a trusted source. The Windows operating system comes with Windows Media Player, which will play these and several other types of audio files.

Another benefit of the MP3 is its versatility. It can be easily converted  to a CD with most CD burning programs. Users can also put them on their iPhones or just about any other type of portable music player.

So, now that you know these ways to create audio, if you have not started yet, let’s get started creating audios for our websites!

What questions do you have about ways to create audio? If you already have audio on your website, what successes can you share?

 

 

Content Creation – Incorporate Audio Into Your Marketing

If you’d like to listen while you read the post, click here.

2014audio symbol will probably be remembered as the Year of Content.  The importance of content creation has been brought to the fore largely because of recent Google updates that place emphasis on good, relevant content.  The content needs to reflect what the people – your prospects and customers – who are coming to your website will be looking for.

In an article entitled, “Why Google’s New Hummingbird Algorithm is Good News for Serious Content Creators,” Copyblogger noted, “As a publisher, you should focus more attention on building pages for each of the different basic needs and intentions of the potential customers for your products and services…In other words, know your audience. Doing this really well takes work, but it starts with knowing your potential customers or clients and why they might buy what you have to sell, and identifying the information they need first.” (italics mine).

Content on your website is not limited to text.  In fact, it’s a good idea and strategy to have content in different formats on your website as people learn in various ways. Using audio has many advantages.

Reasons to Incorporate Audio into Your Marketing

The #1 reason I like audio, and also one of the main reasons why many people like audio, is for convenience.  Unlike video where, for the most part, you have to be in front of the computer screen, audio is more versatile and can be made available for download to an iPhone, iPod, or MP3 player.  It’s great for multi-tasking.  For example, your device can easily accompany you when walking or on a treadmill.  This is a great way to accomplish two essentials at the same time!

Reason #2 is that a large portion of the population retains information better when they hear it than when they read it.

Reason #3 is that audio can inject personality into your website in a way that text and graphics can’t. There’s just something about hearing someone’s voice that makes site visitors feel welcome, and hearing someone’s voice can help your visitors to decide if they like the sound of your voice to continue learning from you on a more regular basis.

Reason #4: Using audio can separate you from the competition. Many sites do not utilize audio, and if yours does, those who enjoy it will be likely to come to you instead of your competition.

So far we’ve covered four reasons why you should incorporate audio into your Marketing.  As a business owner who is interested in satisfying the needs of your customers and clients, it’s important to provide them with alternatives because different persons have different learning and communication styles.  By incorporating audio in your marketing you provide content in a way that meets the needs of many.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

The Challenge – Are You Using Your Business Time for Profitable or Non-Profitable Tasks?

 

One of my coaches threw down the gauntlet by giving me The Challenge. This just the challengehappened to be a topic I’d chosen to write a post on today.  Why this topic? Because I hear it over and over from my clients, and I’ve been guilty of saying the same thing at times – to myself and to my coach.  Perhaps you’ve said it yourself:  “I don’t have the time to do all the things that I should to make my business grow faster.”  Notice that your business may be growing, but it could grow faster if certain things were given more attention and others implemented.

So the question is:  Are you using your business time for profitable or non-profitable tasks?

Time recognizes no economic, racial or any other status.  It’s the great equalizer, and we can do much with it or do little.  We can accomplish a lot or nothing at all. There are people who are able to do more in two or three hours than some people will do in eight hours.  Many of these people get this done before millions even get out of bed because for them their most productive time is between 5:00 and 8:00 a.m. Then there are people who are adept at getting things done in time blocks.  Others do their best late at nights when the family is gone to bed.

The key is to find out what works for YOU.  It can never be about someone else.  So here are some questions only you can answer for yourself:

  • What is your most productive time of the day?  Is it early morning, mid-afternoon, or late at night?
  • Do you have a short or long attention span?
  • Do you find that you start to work on one project, but in the middle you become distracted and switch to something else so that at the end of the day you have three or four unfinished products?
  • Do you have legitimate reasons that make it challenging for you to focus on your business? 

So, getting back to the claim we often make about not having enough time.  Here is the challenge he gave me and I’m going to share that challenge with you:

Take an inventory of how you spend your time over the next three days.  Get a calendar/planner or use a spreadsheet. Every 15 minutes write down what you did.  Next to each time slot write –

–>necessary and important (profitable)
–>not necessary (non-profitable)
–>wasteful or could have been done without

Of course, if you have a full-time job and work on your business part-time then only the hours dedicated to your business would be recorded. If you decide to accept the challenge, please leave a comment on my website. It would be fun to find out what your results are
after three days.  Let’s do this!

In my next post we’ll look at how 15 minutes per day can be used to increase productivity.

5 Reasons Small Businesses Should Embrace Social Media Marketing

social-media-marketingSocial media marketing allows businesses to directly connect with their existing customers and work toward developing new customers through a medium that is used by the majority of people today on a daily basis.

The people that are using social media will include your customers, as well as your prospective customers. Unlike traditional methods of communication between the company and the customer, social media marketing allows you to connect with your customers in a much more dynamic manner, significantly improving response time.

An important point to keep in mind is that in order to attract prospects, convert them into paying customers and build the relationship so they become repeat customers, you will need to employ multiple types of marketing strategies. There is no one marketing strategy that’s going to effectively cover all of those areas and social media marketing in only one of them.

The following are 5 reasons small businesses should embrace social media marketing:

1. Social Media Marketing can help potential customers find your business

Through social media someone can locate or discover new things on their own which means that your business website could ‘accidentally’ be found while they are performing their everyday online tasks. In turn, they could contact your website to learn more, and increase the possibility of becoming a customer. In addition, because social media sites promote communication and sharing between the people who use them, this allows the user to share information about a product or service they like with their friends.

2. Social media marketing allows your business to raise its brand awareness

Social media platforms allow a company to spread its brand’s information all over the Internet. Potential viewers could see your brand in image form, in online videos, in discussions between users and via your company’s website.  They will also be able to learn more about your brand when they perform an online search. The more that people hear, read or see your brand, the better the chance that it will stick in their mind.

3. Social media marketing allows you to build customer trust and loyalty

One of the best ways to increase your customer’s trust in your company is to speak with them directly, as though you were a friend rather than a business. Social media allows your company to do exactly that. Direct interactions and contact with customers that’s engaging, interesting and co-operative both help to build customer trust and create customer loyalty.

Make your customers feel appreciated on a social media platform that they use every day, and you will see an increase in repeat customer transactions!

4. Social media allows you to interact with your customers

This is closely tied in with #3. With social media you can do more than just showcase your latest advertisements to your customers. It lets you interact with them. Online users are always bombarded by banners and advertisements, so they want to see something different. Rather than just shoving an advertisement at them, you can use social media to deliver your message in an engaging, interactive and far less aggressive manner.

You can have a talk with your customers and they can talk back. You can use social media to find out your customer’s opinions, ideas and desires, and then you can use the information to deliver it to them.

5. Social media is a great way to perform market research

Interactive online media platforms allow you to listen to what your customers have to say when it comes to products and services. You can then use this information to improve your product or service, and in turn, share these improvements with your customers. Few things offer your business a chance for such easy insight into your specific market.

These are only some of the benefits associated with social media marketing, but small businesses can no longer afford to ignore social media marketing.  For the busy business owner or entrepreneur it can be confusing and challenging so I invite you to schedule a Complimentary Breakthrough Strategy Session with me to discuss how you can incorporate social media marketing into your business.

Are the Six Most Expensive Words Killing your Business

We've always done it that way

The term “microwave generation” has been applied to our society of people who want what they want NOW.  Information is readily available literally at their fingertips and in the palm of their hands.  What does this mean for the business owner?  Business as usual is no longer going to be effective and the idea of ‘We’ve always done it that way…” is no longer going to be acceptable. These six most expensive words could be killing your business!

How does this affect Customer Care?

There are some benefits to doing business the way you did it in the past, but these have to evaluated individually.  For example, in the past small business owners found it easier to connect with their customers and build a one-on-one relationship with them.  A lot of that intimacy may have been lost as more people do business online or over the phone.  So what’s required?

1)       An active online presence, which includes having a user-friendly website that provides information on your products and services.  Depending on the type of business you have, research shows that visitors would prefer if you have information right there on the website, perhaps a section for Frequently Asked Questions so that they can get information without always having to make a phone call to speak with a person.

2)      Finding out where online your customers and prospects hang out and make sure that you’re on those platforms to answer questions, add value, and position yourself as an expert in your niche.

3)      While you do not have to spend large chunks of your day on social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn; it makes sense to have a basic schedule of what you will do in the limited time you spend there and the kind of content you will share to educate your prospects and customers.

4)      In order to restore a measure of intimacy so you get to know your customers, ask for feedback and try to get them involved in what you’re doing.  At the same time, share, to the extent you feel comfortable, some information about yourself so they get to know, like and trust you.

5)      Customers do not want to wait for days for a reply.  They want it as soon as possible so it’s your responsibility to explore what channels you’ll use to deliver exceptional customer service, always keeping in mind the goal of customer/client retention.

“We’ve always done it that way” could be killing your business unless you analyze and evaluate what’s working and what you need to change to meet the demands of your customers so you deliver superior customer care.

Are you losing your customers? Do you know someone who is? You may download my Special Report: “STOP Losing Your Best Customers: Time-Tested Tips to Grow Your Business with Customer Retention.” Please forward to a friend who may find value in this information.

 

Why Make Time to Keep in Touch with Customers

keep in touchSmall business owners often wear many hats and are very busy.  Even if there is a small staff in place, a great deal of the decision-making and general day-to-day business operations fall of their shoulders.  It’s easy for some things to get lost or be given a lower priority.

One of the things that often get pushed down on the list is making time to keep in touch with customers.  The thing is that keeping in touch with customers should be given as much priority as Marketing and Sales.  Why is this so important?

  • Keeping in touch with your customers on a consistent basis builds the relationship and creates a bond that affects the emotions.  Your customers will get to know like and trust you even more.  When your customers are emotionally attached to you they’re less likely to defect to your competition.
  • Keeping in touch works in tandem with Marketing and Sales.  In fact, it can contribute to effective marketing because surveys and feedback from your current customers empower you to identify what’s working and what may need to be improved in your marketing strategy.  At the same time, your sales will improve as your customers become repeat buyers.  You also have an opportunity to cross-sell and upsell.
  • Many small business owners struggle with consistency.  They may intend to contact their customers on a regular basis, say two times per month or even once per month but they become distracted so that months may go by with no contact.  The effect of this is that you will be perceived as being unreliable and your customers could lose trust in you.  Since recapturing lost trust is very challenging, making a schedule and sticking to it is important.
  • When you keep in touch with customers it gives you an opportunity to educate them and position yourself as the expert in your market.  Let your customers know what you’re doing in your business.  Large corporations have credited the success of some of their products to the suggestions and recommendations of their customers as they kept them updated during product creation.
  • If you’re a speaker, share with your customers where you will be speaking.  If you’re sponsoring an event or doing something in your community share that with them.  People want to see  and come to know who you are as a person, not just the business side. 

It takes time to stay in contact with your customers, so this is something that has to be included in your formal schedule of activities.  It cannot be left to chance.  Building relationships with your customers when you keep in touch with them on a regular basis will help to bridge the gap between your efforts to attract them and retaining them on a long-term basis.