Why you need to be marketing all the time?

All too often businesses decide that they need to do marketing when things start to slow down.

What they don’t realise is that marketing is a continuous activity. It is not a quick fix or bandaid solution that will quickly turn a struggling business around.

The role of marketing is to generate leads, usually for the sales team. Every lead that his generated is not going to result in a sale and it takes metrics, gained over time to work out how many leads it takes to generate a sale.

Marketing takes time. Marketing is about building relationships and building trust in your company and brand. This is even more so if your product or service is a high value item.

Why do marketing?

  • To attract new clients, for any business to grow you always need new customers.
  • To communicate with existing customers about new products or services.
  • To remind potential customers what products and services you offer, so that your business is one they remember when the time is right – top of mind recall.
  • To build relationships, develop your name and brand as an expert in your area of expertise

Marketing is also another area that is commonly cut in times of financial stress. Everyone understands that businesses do need to make savings but the long term consequences of not marketing, will slow the business even more.

So what do I recommend?

Especially in small business – you get so busy running the business, that you don’t have time to work on the business.

1. Dedicate some time each week, to marketing for your business

2. Allocate some budget to marketing your business

3. Experiment with different ways of generating leads and showcasing your products or services.

If you need help with any aspect of your marketing, contact Creative Desk, we can discuss ideas and tactics to improve your business.

Show me the money

I had an interesting conversation with a potential client last week. It went like this, “hiring you is going to be an expense for my business, so I need to ensure a return on investment, can you tell me how much money I’m going to make after having you in my team for one month?”

So how did I tackle this question?

I went on to explain how I would approach my first month with a new client

  • Learn about the product and services of the business
  • Find out what they have tried in the past, what’s work, what hasn’t work
  • Find out about any current marketing projects or activities, gain metrics on this activity
  • Research the industry, find out about the competition, the market
  • Set up systems that would be required, like CRM, email management, social media, website
  • Plan and budget what activity we would do going forward

At this point I had no idea how many days or hours per week the client was requesting, so therefore how long this preparation work would take.

So in the first month, there may be little immediate return on investment but it was necessary activity in order to get long term return on investment.

I don’t think this was the answer the client was looking for, I think they wanted me to tell them how many $1000’s of dollars of product they would sell after one month of marketing.

This got me thinking, I wonder how many potential clients and businesses out there really understand the role of marketing? Stay tuned, more information about how marketing works and how I would  approach various marketing tasks within a business.

 

 

Image Source: http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/showmethemoney-Jerry-Maguire-1.png

Are you a business with no website?

Did you know that more than half of all Australian businesses have no website or not even a web presence. (according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics). Leading the charge is small business, with many businesses deeming the task too hard or time consuming.

Why small businesses say they have no website:

  • Too time consuming
  • Too expensive
  • I have a facebook page, that’s enough. Actually you don’t own a facebook page. To avoid the risk of losing all of your information if facebook shuts down your page, its best to have your own digital space in addition to facebook.
  • I’ll get too many emails
  • I’m too busy

Why small businesses need a website:

  • Customers expect one
  • Increase your sales
  • Reduction in time consuming phone calls about your service offering
  • Reach a larger audience
  • They are a cost effective marketing tool
  • Lead generation tool

Businesses with no website are missing out on business. Websites are a perfect platform to showcase your products and services, giving customers detailed information about what your offer and how you can help them. Websites are also a communication tool, where potential clients can find your contact details and ask you questions about your products or services.

So if you are a business with no website or an online presence, make it a goal for 2017 to launch your first website. There are plenty of DIY tools available to guide you through the process or contact me and I can get you online from as little as $450.

Should my business have a blog?

The short answer is yes. But you may need more concrete facts and figures to gain approval for a blog and win over your boss.

Today there are more than 150 million blogs on the internet. This number hasn’t happened by accident, as millions of people have realized the benefits of blogging. Blogs provide a platform to share ideas, learn something new, and build a network of like-minded individuals.

Recent studies show that 70 percent of consumers prefer to engage with a company through articles rather than ads. Think about this – when was the last time you intentionally clicked on an ad and made a purchase?

Keen to learn more about blogging? Here are nine benefits of blogging:

1. Increase Traffic to Your Website

All businesses strive to increase traffic to their website. The more visitors to your website – the more sales your business will gain. Blogs encourage you to share interesting and relevant content with your audience, and each post can be a new page on your website. A blog with valuable content will encourage visitors to view multiple pages on your website to access all of your content. If you are writing to solve the problems of your ideal client, this is likely to attract visitors to your website.

2. Search Engine Optimization

Blogs also assist with search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines love new content. If you are constantly adding new content to your blog, search engines will continue to regularly scan your website. The more relevant the content is, the higher search engines will rank you. Let’s be honest, how often do you update your about us or contact pages? Probably not too often. To achieve maximum benefit, it is important that the blog is part of your website, or you will lose the SEO benefit of having the blog.

3. Keep Your Website Current and Active

Keeping a blog that is regularly updated will convey to clients that your business is active, and not a website that hasn’t been updated for two years and perhaps is no longer in business. It’s also important to note that if you are planning on starting a blog, you need to be committed to maintaining it, otherwise it will have the opposite affect – people will visit your website and see a blog that hasn’t been updated in a long time. “Companies that do moderate blog posting between one to two times per month have 67 percent more sales opportunities than companies that do not blog.” (InsideView).

4. Link Building

“Companies who blog receive 97 percent more links to their website.”(Hubspot). In terms of SEO, having quality links from third-party websites to your own website improves your search engine ranking. By creating high quality valuable content, other leaders in your field are likely to link and share your posts – creating inbound links.

5. Social Media Content

Blogs provide a constant stream of relevant and interesting content that you can share on your social media channels. Not only will you be able to share the content, but it’s likely that others will also share your content if it is valuable and relevant to the industry. Sharing your content on social media will also drive traffic to your website and generate potential leads for your business.

6. Generate Leads

“B2B marketers who blog generate 67 percent more leads than those who don’t.” (www.business2community.com). Your blog should form part of your sales process – you need to navigate your visitor through your website and educate them, but leave them wanting more. The majority of your blog posts should include a call to action where you collect contact details in exchange for additional information or an offer. Visitors reading your content are likely to be prospective future clients.

7. Learn About Your Ideal Client

Blogging is a two-way street, you are sharing content with your audience and they are commenting on your posts, giving you instant feedback. Use this opportunity to learn about your clients, ask them for feedback, and if they had dealt with a similar problem and found a different solution. This information is valuable to assist you to meet the needs of your clients and ensure your products and services fulfil those requirements.

8. Demonstrate Your Expertise

Blogs are a great platform to demonstrate your skills and knowledge in your area of expertise. Sharing valuable information that solves a problem builds trust and clients are more likely to engage with you in the future. Particularly in the service industry, clients are hiring professionals to complete tasks that they do not have the skills or time to do themselves. Blogging regularly about all aspects of your field will establish you as a genuine expert who understands their subject area and is willing to help businesses achieve their goals. Make your blog a destination for learning and knowledge in your area of expertise.

9. Long Term Results

Blog posts will continue to yield benefits long after they have been written. Unlike tweets or Facebook posts that have a life of a few hours, or one day at most, blogs will serve you for years to come. To get the best value out of your posts, ensure you include some evergreen content that will be valuable no matter when the post is read. All blog posts within your site are indexed by search engines and will show up in results when they are relevant. You will also continue to receive leads from your posts well into the future, provided they contain a call to action. “More than 79 percent of companies that have a blog report a positive return on investment for inbound marketing.” (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2013).

If incorporated into an overall marketing strategy, blogs can be beneficial to your business. However, be prepared for some experimenting, and learning how to best meet the needs of your customer within your industry sector.

Five Tips to Improve Training Sales

Knowledge is power and education is the key. Training providers play an important role in shaping future leaders. So how can training providers reach their ideal target market?

In this article we present five tips you can use to improve Training sales in your training business.

1. Referrals

Many businesses attribute up to 80 percent of their training sales to referrals or word of mouth. Before people buy training, they generally seek the opinion of someone who has completed a similar course to find out if the content was valuable and if the provider was knowledgeable. They may ask a colleague, friend, or family member; use social media; or research providers online.

Why not ask your current customers for referrals: “Is there anyone else in your company that may benefit from this course?”

Take every opportunity in communications with your customers to ask for referrals, whether it be a standard one-liner at the end of your emails, as part of your course evaluation, on an invoice, or on your website. As a training provider, satisfied customers are one of your biggest assets.

2. Seminars or Webinars

Offering a free or minimal cost seminar or webinar is a great way to generate leads. However, it’s vital that the material is of value and will benefit those attending. Sales-focused seminars or webinars are a turn-off and can have a negative effect on your business.

Webinars or seminars offer a platform for you to demonstrate your training skills and knowledge.

The contacts generated from the webinar or seminar can then be used for future marketing campaigns to sell future training courses.

A webinar is more cost effective than a seminar as you can reach a larger audience for a fraction of the cost. However, seminars are also of value, as people enjoy networking and the ability to ask questions of the presenter.

3. E-newsletters

You have a database of contacts, but are you communicating with them? E-newsletters are a cost-effective way to regularly communicate with your contacts.

For training providers, e-newsletters are a great platform to share your knowledge, demonstrate authority, advertise upcoming classes, publish testimonials, run a promotion, or share industry news.

It’s important to ensure that your newsletter is distributed regularly. You can create a schedule for delivery to simplify the process.

E-newsletters are a great tool to generate leads. Why not have a “Subscribe to Our e-Newsletter” button on your website, social media pages, and email signature?

4. Case Studies or Testimonials

Similar to referrals, case studies or testimonials provide training businesses with great examples of success stories. These are useful for future marketing as it adds a “real person” element to the course.

Future clients will look for testimonials to see what people thought of a course before registering.

A case study is able to demonstrate how your training has helped a client to solve a problem, with details including what the issues were before the training was delivered, and how the training has improved processes or solved problems.

It also gives the client the opportunity to comment on all aspects of the training provider, including looking for a training provider, booking the training, the knowledge of the trainer, and post-course feedback.

You can offer clients the opportunity to provide a testimonial or feedback either on your website, through social media or by speaking directly to them.

If they have had a good experience and found the course valuable, they are likely to provide you with a testimonial. Make it easy for them, perhaps by conducting a five-minute phone interview or 10-question survey that you can then write up as a testimonial.

5. Early Bird Discounts

Early bird discounts can be an effective way to fill your training courses. An early bird offer ensures commitment. People are often interested in attending a course, but leave registering until the last minute or forget to register at all. There are three golden rules for successfully running an early bird offer:

  • Make your discount enticing. An early bird offer that is 20-40 percent off the recommended price will prompt action now. Offering just $5 isn’t likely to have the same effect.
  • Limit your offer to either a number of people (e.g., the first 10 people) or a certain date (e.g., only if you book four weeks prior to the course). Be firm about the deadline and don’t keep extending it. This will ensure that people book early next time so they don’t miss out.
  • Market your early bird offer. If you want your offer to work, put your marketing efforts behind it, so that you get maximum return and ensure your clients are aware of it.

Early bird offers benefit both the client and the training provider. The clients are happy as they receive a discounted fee for simply booking early. The training provider will have a better idea of numbers earlier, reducing the stress of whether a course will run. Having an idea of the numbers in advance also helps with cash flow, which is important for smaller providers who often have to pay in advance for venues and printing costs.

There are many ways to sell training course. We hope that you find these tips useful to improving your training businesses.

Social Listening: the Art of Listening in Social Media

Social media has grown to become the number one activity on the internet. The increase in social media interactions means that people are now talking about anything and everything in the public domain.

With this in mind, is your business listening to your customers?

Customers may not always respond directly to your business’s social media page. They may not even mention your business in their conversations, but they could still be talking about your products and services. But, is your business listening to this feedback?

A recent report found that only 24% of brands are participating in social listening.1

What is social listening?

Social listening is the process of monitoring digital media channels to devise a strategy that will better influence consumers. Taking information from places that consumers participate in online can be invaluable.2

As a tool, social media can be used for much more than just selling your products or services. It’s a platform where consumers interact to ask questions, find out more information, get recommendations, and seek product support.

If you have an established social media presence, customers expect that they can use the platform to communicate with you.

Social listening can also be beneficial in terms of business intelligence. Here are some examples of what you can learn:

  • What customers are saying about your business
  • Their experiences with your products or services
  • How you can improve your products or services
  • Your competitors’ activity. Remember, data is in the public domain, meaning they can monitor you too!
  • The demographics of your customers. This information can be used to improve your overall marketing strategy.

But, what are you listening for?

To participate in social listening, it’s important to build up a list of keywords that not only mentions your company, but also the types of products and services you provide.

What tools are available?

There are hundreds of tools available to assist businesses with social listening and social media monitoring. Some tools are free, while others are a paid subscription service.

Here are some examples of the available tools:

  • Hootsuite
  • Google Alerts
  • Social Mention
  • Mention
  • Icerocket
  • Google Trends
  • BoardReader
  • All Top
  • Monitor This
  • TrackUr
  • Sprout Social

This list isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a good starting point to research the features and how they may suit your business.

Now that you’re listening, what happens next?

  • If you notice your customers talking about your business or products/services:
    • Join the conversation
    • Engage by answering questions
    • Follow up on comments
    • Interact by offering advice
  • If customer complaints arise, deal with them in an empathetic way and offer a solution
  • Respond in a timely manner – no more than 24 hours
  • Incorporate social listening into part of your daily activities
  • Start small – focus on three to four channels.

Social media listening is about creating a real presence and adding value to your customers. With a regular commitment, you can improve customer satisfaction and deliver a better product to market.

Sources:

  1. https://blog.dashburst.com/infographic/social-media-trends-2014/
  2. http://trackmaven.com/marketing-dictionary/social-listening/

How to Improve Customer Service in Your Business

customer service
We constantly hear about businesses delivering poor customer service, whether it’s a product that didn’t meet expectations, late delivery of a product, unreturned emails, or a no show for appointments—the list goes on.

Bad customer service will affect your businesses reputation, customer loyalty, and in turn your profits.

We all get busy and businesses are often caught up in their own products, services, and processes. To keep the wheels in motion something has to give. Unfortunately, this is often at the expense of providing a good customer experience.

“Every company’s greatest assets are its customers, because without customers there is no company,” Michael LeBoeuf, business author and former management professor.

So how can businesses provide good customer service?

Empower Your Employees to Deliver

There’s nothing worse than calling a business and being transferred to five different people, each of whom you have to explain your problem to, before your question is answered. This definitely isn’t a positive customer experience, leaving the customer frustrated and creates the impression that the business does not understand its own products and services. Employees should be trained to understand all aspects of the business. At a minimum, employees should at least be able to direct customers to a trained specialist in the appropriate area to answer customers’ questions.

Business Culture

For your business to achieve excellence in customer service, it must be embedded in your business culture and demonstrated from the top down. Your employees are at the front line of your business. If you treat your employees well and respect and value them, they will deliver for you.

“Treat your employees the way you want your customers treated,” Shep Hyken, author and customer service speaker.

Do your employees know what is expected of them in terms of customer service delivery? Do your business processes allow employees the opportunity to deliver excellent customer service?

Employees adapt and deliver according to what is accepted by the business. High-performing customer service employees will be less likely to continue to deliver high-performing results in an organization where the business culture does not reflect high customer service. They will either be frustrated that they are the only one delivering this level of service and leave, or they won’t bother to deliver that service as they feel it isn’t valued or required.

On the other hand, low-performing customer service employees won’t fit in a business culture that demands a high level of customer service, as they would be required to lift their performance or be asked to leave.

Set Standards for Customer Service and Monitor Performance

To deliver excellent customer service, a customer service standard needs to be implemented. This will ensure that all employees deliver the same level of service and that these standards are a benchmark to monitor performance and encourage improvement.

Looking at your sales process and all of the customer touch points is a great place to start. Document what you do at each step in the process and how you deal with customers currently.

Research your customers and competition to understand what your customers’ needs and wants are. From here, you can develop a list of measurable objectives to aim for excellent customer service.

Some examples include:

  • Responding to emails and returning phone messages within 24 hours.
  • Processing orders within one week.
  • Greeting each customer that enters your store.
  • Following up each sale with a phone call.
  • Sending customers birthday cards.
  • Delivering on what you have promised, in the time you have promised.

Once you have developed a customer service standard, it needs to be communicated to all employees, implemented, monitored, and improved.

Responding to Feedback and Complaints

We are all human, and mistakes can even happen in the highest performing business. Part of delivering a good customer experience is measured on how you deal with complaints or constructive feedback. It is important to ensure that you always reply to feedback or complaints; customers like to know that you have acted on their feedback. It’s also a good idea to give customers a way to provide feedback to your business.

Summary

No matter the size of your business or what products or services you provide, offering excellent customer service is a good strategy for success. First impressions count and will often determine a customer’s future relationship with your business. Great customer service is about developing customer relationships and providing clear communication with your customers.

“If you make a sale, you can make a living. If you make an investment of time and good service in a customer, you can make a fortune,” Jim Rohn, author and motivational speaker.

 

Article written by Michelle Tolhurst