3 Ways to Assess Your Online Reputation

Small Business Guide to Online Reputation ManagementIn order to decide where you’re going, you must know where you are at present. This is true with your online reputation. Before you can monitor and take control of your online reputation you must do an assessment so you know what’s already out there on the internet about you. Once you assess your online reputation, you can then initiate strategies so you’re notified when you name or the name of your business is mentioned, and identify what you need to do to protect your online reputation.

What do prospects see when they search for you? What type of information have you unwittingly put out about yourself that could damage your online reputation?

Today, we live in a very politically divided society. Depending upon your audience, something that seems very small could offend the wrong people causing your business to lose untold amounts of revenue.

Another area that people often overlook is the potential damage that photos can bring. Remember that none of us live in a vacuum, and what may appear to be ‘normal’ in your world may be highly offensive to others. A recent story highlights the importance of exercising caution when posting photos online. Some persons may say that the matter has been blown out of proportion, but public opinion matters.

How do you begin to Assess Your Online Reputation

Use Multiple Search Engines

Do not limit yourself to searching on just one search engine such as Google. Remember that people use other search engines such as Yahoo!, Ask.com, Bing and more. Start with your name and the name of your business, then move on to keywords that you want to rank for. Make no mistake about it, when people hear of you or meet you they are doing a search on you, so it’s important to know what they are finding when they visit the search engines.

Use Social Media for Searching

More and more people are using various social media platforms like a search engine. For example on Twitter you can use the Advanced Search feature to find out what’s trending, connect with friends and Influencers, discover topics of interest, and much more.   Try searching for keywords, your name, the companies name, the product name and more on each social media network. It’s a great way to monitor the buzz about you and your company.

Social media is very important today when it comes to your online reputation. Not only do you want to monitor what others say about you, but you need to be cognizant of what you’re saying and doing on social media. Too many people have hurt themselves by what they put on social media, forgetting that this can be viewed by thousands of people and more.

Set up a Google Alert

Google Alert lets you select various keywords, company name, personal name, and more. The results are sent to your inbox from news, blogs and social media when any of the terms you selected is used. It’s a great way to monitor when something is being said about your company as well as keep up-to-date in your niche. You can be sure to comment on blogs that are about your niche, as well as comment on discussions in which your product, service, or business was discussed.

Go A Couple Pages In

Most people who search for your information won’t go past the first couple of pages, but you should go in 10 pages and beyond just to be sure about the results. Search for your company name, your name, your product, the brand, your handles and user names as well to find out what’s being said about you or what you’ve said about you. You could find that there is information on the internet that you placed there without thinking.

Rather than simply worrying about your online reputation, it’s important to take action because consumers will do their research before spending money with you. During your searches if you find things that you’d rather not be out in the open, there are things you can do to either remove or bury the results. Of course, it’s important to remember that although you may remove something, pictures, for example; someone else may already have downloaded them.

An important reminder is to disable personalized search results as you are doing your research. This means that if you are searching on Google, you should be logged out of gmail so that you will see what others see.

And now I invite you to get your copy of my very own ‘Small Business Guide to Online Reputation Management” a 55-page document comprised of four Modules that take you through establishing your personal brand – the foundation of building your online reputation –  to how to implement the strategies to take control of your reputation.

 

 

Customer Loyalty and Retention Begin With Current Customers

Customer LoyaltyCompanies allocate huge amounts of money to advertising, and their primary purpose is to attract new customers and clients. Being innovative is a requirement for doing business and it makes sense that businesses implement innovative strategies to continually attract new customers or clients to replace ones who leave as well as widen their customer base.

On the other hand, what about current customers? Would it not make sense that customer loyalty and retention should begin with current customers? These same companies have thousands of customers whom they overlook when they offer promotions and incentives. Doesn’t it make sense to encourage customer loyalty and retention in your current customers?

It’s likely that almost everyone reading this has or know someone who has had a similar experience and it begs the question, “What are these companies thinking? “Have they not heard of customer appreciation?” “Doesn’t customer loyalty and retention mean anything to them?”

Joseph Jaffe, in the book Flip the Funnel: How to Use Existing Customers to Gain New Ones stated that, “If we’re able to elevate retention (customer service, dialogue, and customer outreach…) to the point at which it becomes a strategic imperative at the expense of the traditional acquisition efforts from an optimization and budget allocation standpoint…then maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to do business for the better.”

Customer loyalty is something that can grow exponentially when it’s shown to the customer. There are lots of testimonials and stories that demonstrate how customers are motivated by the loyalty shown to them by the company so that they would not think of doing business elsewhere. Yes, people can be motivated by money as in discounts. However, when this is enveloped in a way that demonstrates that the reason for the discount is in appreciation for their being loyal customers, it engenders even more loyalty. The need for recognition and appreciation has been met.

Customers want to know you appreciate their business and that you value them. No customer wants to be viewed as an interruption of your day. The need to be appreciated is a basic need of all humans, and your customers no less.

Instead of paying thousands of dollars to lure new customers, wouldn’t it be a less expensive proposition to do whatever is possible to keep your current customers happy? Interestingly Brian Woolf, the author of Customer Specific Marketing-The New Power in Retailing and a loyalty marketing expert, noted in his research that only 1% of new customers become the best customers of a business. It means that it would be in the best interest of the business for customer loyalty and retention to begin with existing customers.

As a small business owner, solo-professional, or entrepreneur you recognize that your customers and clients have a large number of options of where and with whom to do business. What do you currently do to encourage customer loyalty and retention? Do your customers and clients know that you appreciate them? I’d love to hear your responses and experiences.

 

What is Your Unique Selling Proposition and Why You Need a USP

Unique Selling Proposition Identifying your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is one of the most challenging features of being an Entrepreneur or Small Business Owner. Why is this? What is a Unique Selling Proposition, and why is it important?

Mashable reports that there were over 500,000 startups in 2012 and based on various headlines, that number is set to to rise significantly before the end of 2014. With those huge numbers in mind, and adding them to the 23 million small businesses in America alone, it becomes critical for business owners to clearly identify what makes them unique.

What is a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a statement that explains how your business is different from everyone else in the same market. What makes you stand out? It tells your customers how and why you are in a better position to meet their needs instead of your ‘competition.’

Can you see why it is “one of the most challenging features..?”  As a business owner you know what you do; you do it well, but it takes time and diligence to determine what makes YOU different from everyone else. What gaps do they fail to cover that you cover? What need do you fill better than anyone else?

Why You Need a USP

Whether you refer to others who provide similar products or service as competition or ‘coopetition’, they will always be there. In fact, if you were the only one providing a particular product or service, that would be a red flag that you may not bee in profitable market.

You need a good USP that will stay in the minds of those in your market so that they will think of you when they need your service or products. This must be clearly and concisely articulated so that it will contain the biggest benefit that your clients and customers will receive from doing business with you, as well as an emotional reason to do business with you.

Why include an emotional component? Because until your customers are emotionally connected with you, you do not have loyal customers and your goal should always be to build the relationship with your clients and customers so that they remain loyal to you.

What are the Elements of a Good USP?

  1. A good USP is memorable so that it sticks in people’s mind. This way they think of you first when they need your products or service.

  2. It addresses specific needs, solves their problem, and makes the lives of your target market easier.

  3. It connects with your customers and potential customers emotionally as it addresses their fears, frustrations, worries, and desires.

Remember that while a clearly defined Unique Selling Proposition is an asset in a crowded market, you also want to use your USP to establish your brand in the minds of your customers and potential customers.

Do you need help developing your Unique Selling Proposition, I can help you solve that problem.  Contact me at http://yvonneajones.com/contact-me/ or send an email to yvonne [at] yvonneajones [dot] com so we can schedule  time to talk and I’ll also send you a copy of my report.

Time Management Tips for Entrepreneurs: Manage Yourself to Manage Your Time

Time Management for Entrepreneurs“Time management is really a misnomer – the challenge is not to manage time, but manage ourselves.  The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” ~ Stephen Covey.

Time is the great equalizer.  We all have the same 24 hours in each day. What makes the difference is how we use the 24 hours we’re given. You probably could think of quite a number of persons who seemed to have accomplished a great deal in their lifetime, and often in a short time. They did this within the framework of 24-hour days.

Are you discouraged with how little you seem to accomplish while others seem to accomplish a great deal more in a short time? If you do, you’re not alone as I’ve felt that way at times. What are some things that could be holding you back?

Seeking perfection. One person will spend 30 minutes writing a great blog post on a topic in their niche with which they’re familiar.  They lay the facts out in a clear, concise way that appeals to their target audience.  The other entrepreneur will spend two hours doing the same thing.   Did the person who took longer write a better post?  Perhaps they wrote more details with the goal of having a perfectly written article.  But did the additional time bring more value to readers?  A personal assessment would determine if this was so, but striving for perfection when no one expects it of you could cause you to be less productive than you could be.

Lack of organization: Disorganization is a huge time-waster. Searching for papers, documents, etc. is great waste of time – yours and others. There is no question about it that to make good use of your time, you must stay organized. No fancy storage system is required, but having a specific place for certain things will allow you to find them immediately when you need them rather than running around searching here and there, frustrating yourself, and wasting precious time. Your lack of organization may affect others so that you end up wasting their time as well.

Taking on more than you can manage: Most of us have a natural desire to help others, and we also have a problem saying, “No.” We often take on much more than we can comfortably handle and find that by saying “Yes” to too many things we actually become unproductive. How is that possible, you may ask? The answer is simple: Time spent on one thing is time away from another. This goes hand-in-hand with the questions small business owners and entrepreneurs should keep asking themselves, “Is what I’m doing taking me closer to my goal?”

If the task is something that could easily be done by someone else, and is not in line with your goals, whether these are personal or business goals, and is actually robbing you of time you had scheduled to work on these goals, it is not an effective self-management decision.  In order to practice good self- management, you should have a plan or strategy for the various aspects of your life and sticking to your plan in order to reach your goals shows a measure of self-respect.

When you manage yourself to manage your time no one can tell you exactly how you should do this since everyone’s circumstance is different. Further, there are people who can set schedules and live by them, while others like to go with the flow.  However, it’s important to remind yourself that to the extent to which you practice good self-management it’s to that extent you’ll make good use of your 24-hour days, be productive and reach your goals. 

Incorporating these time management tips for entrepreneurs can help you make the most use of the portion of your 24 hours that you allocate to your business on a daily basis.  And don’t forget to include time to have FUN in your business!

Many books have been written on the topic.  Here is a Kindle book you may find an easy read: 10 Minute Time Management by Ric Thompson.

Relationship Marketing: Essential Key for Customer Loyalty and Retention

relationship marketingThe success of your business depends on customer loyalty and retention. If you have been in business for any length of time, or have been observing successful businesses, you recognize that relationship marketing is an essential key to customer loyalty and retention.

Television, radio, and newspaper ads all have their place, and are still effective for many businesses. However, for small businesses especially, impersonal advertising cannot be the primary way for communicating with your customers, and consumers in general. Customers do not want to be spoken to. They want to be spoken with and be made to feel that their voice is heard when they do business with you.

Large and small businesses recognize that having a personal relationship with the customer is what makes the difference in the results they experience. This, in fact, is what sets them apart from their competitors. The removal of “us” and “them” and replacing it with “we’ encourages a partnership so that customers feel they have a vested interest in the business.

3 Reasons Why Relationship Marketing is Essential to Your Business

Profitability:

  • In their book, Leading on the Edge of Chaos, authors, Emmet C. Murphy and Mark A Murphy noted, “Depending on the industry, reducing your customer defection rate by 5% can increase your profitability by 25 to 125%.

  • In a survey conducted by Dimensional Research key findings of the study illustrated that customer service not only affects revenue, but has a long lasting impact, with customer service ranking as the No. 1 factor influencing how much a consumer trusts a company.

Build Trust:

At a time when people seems to have lost trust in big businesses, it’s more important than ever to develop the personal relationship with customers so that they clearly understand that you, as the business owner, genuinely care about their welfare and not just see them as a means to a profitable end. Ian Gordon wrote in Relationship Marketing, “”A meaningful relationship starts … when supplier and customer see that it is in their interests to get together for the long term.”

When you make your customers feel that the relationship is one of a partnership and you depend on them for their support, it in no way diminishes your role. Instead you increase the level of loyalty that your customers will give to you. The reality is that in our social world, customers know the level of power that they hold, and if you can harness that power to support your business, it puts you in a favorable position.

Create Your Own Research Team:

Who better to get feedback from than the persons who are already using your products or service? Research can be expensive and time-consuming. It can also be less than accurate if you’re not targeting the correct demographic or pyschographic market.

Your loyal customers and clients are in the best position to share with you ideas and suggestions as to how your product or service could be better and the impact changes and enhancements could have on their lives.

This is not a new concept because large organizations are using this strategy. Starbucks, for one, created a website: My Starbucks Idea where their customers can share their ideas and comment on the ideas shared by others. Genius! They even show the ideas that are being implemented. Can you see how this type of relationship would endear you to your customers and build customer loyalty?

So, would you agree that relationship marketing is an essential key to customer loyalty and retention? It takes time to get a smooth-running system in place, but the returns will be worth it when your funnel is filled with loyal customers and clients.

I invite you to visit my website and download your copy of “STOP Losing Your Best Customers: Time -Tested Tips to Grow Your Business with Customer Retention.”

Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below this post. Thank you. 🙂