Tuesday, June 19, 2018

DIY Marketing

This month is 'Do It Yourself Marketing' Month.  So what is your marketing strategy?  Do you do it yourself or do you have someone else doing it for you?  Or a combination of both?  Either way, do you know what is working?  If not, that should be your first action item.  Start tracking what's working and what's not.  This will save you lots of money over time.

Below are some strategies for marketing that I recommend.  I believe they will work for most any business.
  • Know Your Target Market.  Get very specific.  Who can use your products and services?   Consider the demographics of your perfect client.  Often times the more specific you can be about your perfect referral, the better the chances of receiving a referral.

  • Networking is a great way to market your business and build relationships in order to gain business.  It is recommended to be part of a closed networking group like BNI (one industry represented per Chapter) and 2 open networking groups (multiple of the same industry), i.e. The Chamber of Commerce, Business Alliance, etc. and perhaps a service group like Kiwanis, Rotary, etc.  Building relationships by seeing the same people over time creates visibility which builds creditability in order to receive word-of-mouth referrals.
  • Keep in touch with prospects and clients.  Not everyone you meet may need your product or service right now, but if you stay in touch with them, perhaps in the future if they have a need, you will be top of mind because you kept in touch and will be the one they call or refer.  In my a previous blog, I covered tips for Customer Loyalty which gave information and tips.

  • Marketing Materials that represent you, your products, and services well.  Make sure your branding and message is consistent across all platforms.  Whether you are marketing face to face or online ensure your logo, photos, tag line, colors, are consistent.  You can be a one person show, but the little things can make you look like the 'big guys.'
  • Track Everything.  Go back through your last 6 to 12 months of business and determine where the business came from.  And depending on the answer would determine where to focus more.  Ask each new client, how did you find us?  Let the stats drive your future marketing efforts.  


 Much of this you can do yourself, but do you have the time and the skill set?  It's always best to consider what you do best and like and enjoy doing and delegate the rest.

I hope you have found this to be helpful. Your comments are welcomed and appreciated.

To Your Success,

Annette
'Helping You and Your Business Look Good'

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Customer Loyalty and Relationship Marketing


This month is International Customer Loyalty Month.  It is said that it takes 5 to 25 times more time and money (depending on which reports you read) to gain a new customer vs. working to retain the ones we have.
Statistics say that if a business retains only 5% of their customer base, it can increase their business by 50%.  Why?  Because loyal happy customers will keep buying and will refer new business.

68% of all customers are lost due to perceived indifference! A customer who feels appreciated will not go elsewhere when the competition comes calling.  They will remain loyal rather than go shopping for price.

Repeat customers spend 67 percent more. They are your referral engine.  After 10 purchases, a customer has typically already referred up to 7 people.

Giving Great Customer service = Good Business
Having Customer Loyalty = Great Business!

So why work harder when we can work smarter by continuously showing our current customers appreciation.  To keep relationships strong, businesses need to regularly remind clients that they are important to them. They also need to remind them who they are, what they do, what services they offer, and why they are their best choice for their product or service. Busy people tend to choose the fastest solution to a problem. By keeping in touch, a company makes themselves stand apart from the rest of the crowd and their clients are more apt to call them the next time they need their product or service.  Social media is a good way to remain visible to prospects and clients.  Email marketing is also good way to remind prospects and clients you are still around and in business.  But doing something more personal sets a business apart from the rest.  From page 115 of The 29% Solution ..."Good follow-up is not just doing what is required or what you've promised to do.  It also involves going BEYOND what is expected. 


Tradition says greeting cards are personal. Greeting cards have a traditional feeling of warmth and sincerity; our culture maintains that greeting cards are personal and are sent from someone with whom there is a relationship. In a world of impersonal form letters and mass email, memorable greeting cards are a refreshing marketing tool that will add a personal and memorable touch to the interaction with clients. By incorporating greeting cards into a retention strategy, the message is being sent to the client that an important relationship exists.

I invite you to check out a true referral system that is simple and easy.  SendOutCards has completely overhauled their system adding many new features making it is easier than ever to follow up and show prospects and clients real appreciation.  No more points.  No more expense account.  Just pay for the cards and gifts you send.  Try it out today.  It now works similar to an ITunes account.  Set up a Free account and see all the new features.  Or if you’ve ever had an account, it’s still there.  Download the app and even send cards from your mobile device.  Here’s the link  www.RelationshipMarketingMadeEZ.com  Click on ‘Business’ to see all the new features, i.e. premade drip campaigns for various industries.  A contact manager system that is some people pay hundreds of dollars for and it doesn’t send cards.  Or I can send you a short video that explains all the new features.  And I would be happy to talk with you and show you all the new features.  What ever is easiest for you, I’m here to help.

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
                                                                                 - Marian Wright-Edelman

Happy Keeping in Touch,
Annette
‘Helping My Clients and Their Business Look Good’

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Social Media Platforms - Which Ones to Use


Why post on Social Media?  To create visibility and awareness about you, your products, and/or services.
Which platforms should I use?  It depends on your target market and demographics.  In order to know where to post, you have to know who your best clients are.  Who can use your products or services?  And don’t say anybody, everybody, anyone, everyone, because not all those folks have money to buy your products or services even if they could/should use it.  So, think in terms of age group, locale, industry, income, interests, etc.  The better you can narrow this down, the better you will know which platform to use for Social Media.
Let’s look at the major ones – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat.
According to a recent report by http://www.pewinternet.org, Facebook is still the leader with 68% of Americans having Facebook accounts.   74% of those with Facebook accounts say they check their accounts at least once per day.  51% say they check their accounts more than twice per day.
While not a traditional social media platform, YouTube is used by 73% of U.S. adults and 98% are 18 – 24 year olds.
For younger adults 18 to 24, Instagram is viewed as the platform of choice with 71% and 45% using Twitter.  And for this age group 78% use Snapchat.
Pinterest is substantially more popular with women at 41% and men at 16%.
LinkedIn remains popular with college students and high-income households at 50%.
The bottom line is seven of 10 Americans use some form of social media.  Defining your target market for your products and services will determine where to focus your social media efforts. 
Below are two sites with a more in depth look at the numbers/reports.
Fact Sheet from 2017 on Social Media use: http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/
My questions when determining which platforms to use:  Which ones do you currently use?  You’re probably interacting with friends and like-minded people already, so it makes it easier to post and manage.  If you can link other accounts to what you already use, that’s like getting a freebie.  For instance, linking Facebook to Twitter and/or Instagram to Facebook.  I say use what you can easily post to and don’t rule any out any just because the numbers may say differently.   
And/or if you’re outsourcing your social media, cover as much and as many as your budget will allow.  Personally, my favorites are Facebook (link it to Twitter), YouTube if you like to do/can and want to do videos, Instagram if you have a visual product/service, and LinkedIn to post your professional resume. 
I hope you have found this to be helpful.  Your comments are welcomed and appreciated.
Sincerely,
Annette
‘Helping You and Your Business Look Good’

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Starting a New Business

Tips, Tools, Recommendations, and Things to Consider.

So, you think you want to start a business.  Be your own boss. You have a great idea for a product or service.  Being your own boss can be fulling and satisfying, but before jumping in, here are some tips, tools,* and recommendations* to consider. 
(* I have referenced people, businesses, tools, books, etc. in this article which I recommend.  Also, see the reference list at the end of the article and yes some are affiliate links).
-        Do your due diligence.  Whether you think you have a new idea for a product or service or a new twist on a current product or service – Research.  Ask questions.  Talk to the business owners who are currently doing what you want to do.  Find out the pros and cons.  Especially the cons.  Perhaps talk to a business consultant or a business coach.

-       Target Market.  Who’s going to buy your product or service?  Not who needs it, but who has the money to buy.  There may be people who need your product/service, but not have the means to buy it.  Get very detailed and specific with the demographic you wish to target.  This will help you with your marketing plan. 
-        Create a business plan.  Think about it.  Would you build a house without a plan?  A business plan is creating your vision.  All the steps to get your business up and running to the day to day operations.  If you’re a ‘big picture’ kind of person, then have someone who thinks about the details to help you. 
-        All the Legal Stuff.  How should you set up your business?  What permits are needed?  Trademarks?  Copyrights?  Licenses?  Best to consult a business attorney or a CPA.
-        Company Structure.  Think of your business as you as the bus driver.  Where are you going, and do you need help and if so when and how much?  Will you need full-time employees or part time contractors?  Seasonal help?  OutsourcingVirtual help?  When considering who will help, consider what you do best and delegate the rest to the best possible source.  You can’t know it all or do it all.
-        Financing.  Whether you’re buying a franchise or starting from scratch, ‘it takes money to make money.’  How much is it going to take to get up and running?  How long is the expectation before the business shows enough profit to be self-sustaining?  Equipment cost?  Marketing?  Salary for yourself and wages for help?  Office space?  Merchant Services?   And the list goes on.  Even if you start out as a one-person solopreneur, all these costs need to be a consideration.  Talk to a financial advisor well versed in business startups.  Also, consider a business loan rather than use your life savings.  
-        Keeping it all Straight.  Bookkeeping is a must so that you maximize all your finances and take advantage of all tax benefits.  Intuit Quickbooks is great to ensure all the I’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. 
-        Marketing.  Getting ready to make your debut and putting your best foot forward.  It’s important to ensure all your marketing elements are in place, i.e. your website, social media, business cards, brochures, signage etc. Whether you are a brick and mortar business, or your office is in your home or your vehicle, you want to ensure your professional image is represented well across all platforms.
-        Networking.  Getting the word out and meeting the right people who want you to succeed as much as you do is very important.  In today’s market, it’s not enough just to build a website and hang out a sign, especially if you’re not the only ‘mousetrap’ in town.  And we would all prefer a warm referral rather than a cold lead.  One of the oldest and best networking organizations is Business Network International.   I also highly recommend ‘The Networking Guru’ by James Barber.  It is a good short read and explains the basics of networking to build relationships in order to build a business.  In fact, James has written a 2nd book, ‘The Networking Guru – The Next Level’ that also goes over some of the other aspects mentioned above, i.e. business plan, business coach, networking, etc.   I recommend reading his second book first.  It’s more about setting up the infrastructure for a business to succeed.
Yes, there are a lot of things to consider starting a business.  It can be very scary as well as exciting and rewarding.  Seek out those who are doing what you want to do and who are successful.  Pick their brain.  And be sure and ask the question, ‘What do you wish someone had told you before you started your business?’  Learn from those who have gone before you.
To Your Success,
Annette
‘Helping You and Your Business Look Good’

Resources Referenced in this article:
Business Coach – Russ Young with Action Coach
Virtual Assistant for Relationship Marketing, Social Media, Email Marketing, Admin Services, Basic WordPress Website – Annette Mason – Painted Lady Enterprises
Bookkeeping/Invoicing – Intuit Quickbooks
Merchant Services – Randy Amerson – Netcom PaySystem
Website Domains and Hosting – www.DomainsMadeEZ.com
Networking – Business Network International – BNI.com or for Georgia – BNIATL.com

Need other recommendations?  Please let me know.  I would be glad to provide a reliable source for you.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Showing Clients Appreciation

The holidays are fast approaching whether we like it or not.  Thanksgiving is next week, and Christmas will be here in no time.  It is important to show our appreciation to our clients and prospects.   
Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite times of the year.  It's just all the preparation leading up to it that gets me in a panic, wondering how in the world I'm going to get everything done.

One thing I can check off my list is the task of sending my greeting cards. Since I found this wonderful 
greeting card system over 10 years ago, sending my holiday cards is a snap. After I decide on my theme and design, choose a photo, the rest is a breeze.  I can send a unique personalized card to everyone on my list and even include gifts or gift cards to those out of town that I won't be seeing over the holidays.  I love to receive and send cards throughout the year.  I also enjoy helping others with their card sending. 
Sending clients and prospects a card of appreciation builds the relationship, whether it’s for the holidays or throughout the year.  Not to solicit for business, but to express our gratitude for their business.  People are bombarded with so many buy, buy, buy advertisements this time of year.  So, it’s nice to open the mail and receive a nice card with a note of appreciation and gratitude.
Are you thinking of sending Holiday Cards?   I would love to help you take that task off your to do list or at least make it easier for you.  I invite you to log on and find out how to create, personalize, add photos, and mail your cards via the US mail with just a few mouse clicks.  Yes, these are REAL greeting cards that arrive in your mailbox, not ecards.  I invite you to try out this system and send a REAL greeting card with my compliments from SendingCardsMadeEZ.com.  And I would be glad to help you.
Sending cards is just one of my favorite things about the Holiday season. I love the music, the decorations, all the tasty food, and of course seeing and visiting with family and friends.

Now if the cleaning and organizing fairy will show up and get busy, maybe I'll be ready by the time all the family starts arriving.
I wish you and yours a very Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving,
Annette
‘Helping You and Your Business Look Good’

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How do you get people to buy your products and services and refer you?


News Flash - People Don’t Want to be Sold To


Think about it….Do you watch commercials on TV?  Do you read bill boards?  Do you read your junk mail?  Probably not.  You probably don’t even listen to commercials on the radio anymore because you’re listening to your own playlist or Pandora.
Then when people need a product or service, what do they do?  Probably like the rest of us, they go back to the person who has given them good service in the past or ask their best friends or neighbors for recommendations.  Or they may even ask on Social Media.
So as a business owner trying to market your business, how do you reach your target market?  For the purpose of this article, let’s talk about social media and your business Facebook page.
·        You must have an audience - How many people ‘Like’ your Facebook business page?  Did you know that only about 5% of the people who ‘Like’ your page see what you post?  So, say you have 100 people who like your page, only about 20 are going to see what you post.  So, you must build your audience.  Suggestions to get more ‘Likes’ to your page is to ask ALL your friends, family, neighbors, etc. to ‘Like’ your page.  Send them an invitation right from your business Facebook page. 
·        You need some champions.  Other ways to get more people to see what you post, is to get ‘Likes,’ ‘Shares,’ and comments on your posts.  Facebook sees that as ‘engagement’ and then will show the posts to more people.  So, you need to ask your best buds, employees, family, etc. to be your ‘Champions.’  Ask them to Like, share, and comment on your posts.  That way, their Facebook friends see what they are Liking, Sharing, and commenting on and it builds from there. 
·        Don’t Sell to People.  People don’t want to be sold to.  Read the first to paragraphs again.  It doesn’t matter if you have the best deal in town, if no one sees the offer.  If you haven’t built any trust, then you’re wasting your time.  So, what do you post you ask.  Social Media, particularly Facebook is just that - for socializing.  Think about the last party you went to.  What did you talk about?  Current events?  Your favorite team winning or losing?  Ask questions?  ‘Did you know……blah, blah,?’  You were socializing not trying to sell your products or service.  That’s what you do on social media. 
o   Let people get to know you.  Post about you, photos, likes, dislikes, hobbies, interests, etc.
o   Use current events.  What holiday is it?  I did 8 posts last Friday the 13th for 8 different small businesses and used the theme of Friday the 13th.  Everything from haunted ships, real estate numbers, to Friday the 13th reading list.
o   Provide information.  What type of service/product do you offer?  What makes it different from others that are out there?  Provide industry information.  Seasonal information.  For example, a realtor might provide information on fire safety since last week was fire safety week.  I call this ‘Infotainment.’  Provide information and entertain your followers.  Talk from your experience and point of view, i.e. your expertise and why you care.  As the saying goes – ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’
o   Don’t be so serious all the time.  Laugh at yourself.  Post a cartoon.  Tell about getting lost.  You’re human.  People can relate.  Let people get to know you. 
o   Are you involved in the community?  What is your favorite charity?  Again, this is a way to help people to get to know you.
·        Post videos.  Learn to use Facebook Live.  Show before and after photos and videos.  Videos are a great way to let people know you do a good job. 
·        Get Reviews.  When people brag on your work, ask them to write a review on your Facebook page and on Google (if you are listed on Google).
·        Learn what people like.  Check out the ‘Insights’ section of your Facebook page or look at the bottom of each post.  It will show you how many people the post reached.  The posts that reached the most people – is what you need to post more of.
·        Boost your posts.  This is another way to reach a larger audience, but there are a few things to know before you throw money at this one.
o   Get very specific as to who exactly is your target market, i.e. household income, zip codes, cities, age groups, etc.  Think about who are your best clients, what is their average household income (guesstimate), where do they live, what is their approximate age, etc.  You’ll come closer to getting some additional followers if you can figure this one out and target your boost.
o   Do this intermittently and not on a regular basis.  Yes, you want to post regularly and consistently on your Facebook page, but you don’t want to be regular and consistent on boosting your posts.  Why is this, you ask?  Again, Facebook is a social platform and even though Facebook is making money on your boosted posts, they see your boosted posts as ‘selling’ and won’t show them to the larger audience you seek, if you boost to often.
These are just a few tips for using Social Media to market your business.  You can search my blog site for more articles about Social Media.  If you’re still feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, contact us.  We can teach you how or do it for you.
Your comments and feedback are welcomed and appreciated.
Happy Posting,
Annette

Thursday, September 28, 2017

No Single Point of Failure

With the past few weeks of hurricanes and wildfires, I hope where ever you are that you made it through with minor to no damage and inconvenience.

These recent events remind me of my days as a Call Center Manager and having to have a plan in place so that there were no single points of failure.  Major disasters, like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and large-scale power outages, are rare. Smaller disasters, such as server failure, burst pipes and fires however happen every day. Companies often prepare for the worst but forget the everyday challenges, which can be just as crippling.   
As a small business owner, and perhaps the sole proprietor, are you prepared for everyday emergencies?   
For example:
- Do you have your computer backed up?  What about all the data, programs, client information you have on your system?  Is it backed up?  There are services like IDrive which can be set up to run a back up of your system and save your information and data so all of it can be restored once you're back up and running.  
- What about all those passwords?  Do you have them written down?  What if you lose your list?  There are password manager applications like LastPass, Dashlane, KeePass, etc. that store your passwords so that you don't have to worry about losing your list.
- What about your website?  Is it backed up?  WordPress has plugins like, Updraft, that will automatically back up your website and send a copy to your Dropbox or Google Docs account.
- Is your phone backed up?  Backing up your smart phone to the cloud  occasionally will save you countless hours if you lose your phone.
These are just a few things that can cause major headaches because  we depend on technology so much. To really think through and plan for a major disaster, here is a website to help with the planning process - www.preparemybusiness.org/planning 
 Your comments and feedback and welcomed and appreciated. You can provide feedback here or on our Facebook page.
Hope you never need to use a Disaster Plan.

Happy Planning,
Annette
'Helping You and Your Business Look Good'

 

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