Archive for the Tips & Tricks Category

New Lessons from Seventh Grade Physics

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The seventh grade physics class sat in their classroom eagerly listening to their teacher explain their next project. The class would be divided into 5 groups of 5 students. Each group would have three class sessions to design and test a small rolling car. They would all be given a variety of materials to use to design this car. After spending three days on design, there would be a competition to see whose car would roll the farthest. The winner would be automatically granted an A on a quiz that would be administered on the Friday after the competition.

A chance to get an automatic A on a quiz? That was quite the incentive. The class eagerly organized themselves into their groups and began discussing possible car designs. They called upon all the teacher had already taught them about physics and began running formulas to find the perfect intersection of weight and size.

Meanwhile, the teacher looked around the classroom contently. Getting the class fully engaged and interested was always a challenge. This competition had brought everyone to life, however, and the entire class seemed to be actively using the material taught to help their teams. This was definitely an outstanding way to engage the class.

What can we learn from this class?

Like the students in this class, most of us enjoy a little friendly competition. When we desire the reward, we become much more interested in the subject matter at hand. The same principles apply to marketing and branding. Customers love competition, and it can be an excellent way to keep people engaged with your brand.

Competitions can be used in a variety of circumstances.

  • Before a product launch, to bring customers through the pre-launch activities
  • To build excitement for something new the company will be trying
  • To build engagement with existing products and services

Say you’re about to open a new store location. You could send out a series of direct mail flyers telling people about the store. You could then invite people to save each of the flyers for an opportunity to earn a free prize at the new store when they bring in all the flyers on opening day. This will encourage people to keep an eye out for your flyers and come to your opening day.

Competitions are also effective online. Consider holding competitions on your social media pages. Encourage people to submit stories of their experiences with your products and services for a chance to be entered in a drawing to win a prize or discount.

People enjoy competition as a way to win prizes, and companies love them as a means of engaging with potential customers. Just like the teacher of 7th grade physics class used a competition to get students interested in the subject, you can use competition to boost sales. Consider the different types of competitions and prizes that would fit with your brand, and see which ones would work best for your goals. If you’re interested in getting a new marketing campaign off the ground, give us a call. We’d be happy to help you get started.

Date: 15th May, 2015 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Understanding How Consumers’ Brains Think

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Interestingly, the part of the brain most responsible for making buying decisions isn’t the part that thinks logically. We make the majority of our decisions using what is commonly referred to as the “reptilian brain.” This part of the brain is programmed for survival. It’s perpetually evaluating choices based on the least possible harm to itself. Even when it’s deciding whether or not to buy a product from you, it’s performing a cost/benefit analysis.

When you understand this truth about your customers (and the human brain), you can use it to guide your advertisements and how you frame your business to your audience.

How perceived ‘costs’ impact customer buying patterns

Let’s say you’ve just built a landing page where people can sign up to download a free ebook. Even though you’re not asking for money in exchange for your ebook, you want to keep the ‘cost’ as low as possible. If you ask for too much unnecessary information, your customers will regard this as a cost. Even if you mark most of the fields optional, a shocking number of people will just click off the page and ignore the offer.

To minimize this perceived cost, minimize the amount of information you ask in return for your offer. Remember that you can always learn more about potential leads in later interactions, so only ask for the bare minimum of information at this initial stage.

This same sort of thinking should also impact how you frame sales and deals. Use each interaction to demonstrate that doing business with you will provide maximum reward for minimum cost.

Framing the benefits

In addition to its desire to minimize costs, the reptilian brain also wants to maximize benefits. It responds best to images, emotion, and concrete examples of benefits.

When you set out to describe the benefits of working with your company, make sure your claims are completely clear. Articulate exactly how working with your company can benefit your customers and why your company is superior to the competition. This means providing evidence and proof you offer immediate satisfaction for your customers.

The brain is a fascinating structure. Although many people think of it as a single entity, there are actually different parts that respond best to different ideas. Despite the desire of most people to be logical shoppers, they actually make their choices largely based on cost/benefit analysis. Use this tendency in your marketing and witness firsthand the power of this part of the brain.

Date: 5th May, 2015 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

How Social Media Can Help With Market Research

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Anyone who has ever worked in marketing understands the value of market research. Solid research can teach you about your intended audience and what your customers are looking for, which will allow you to grow your company and position it for success.

Imagine if nearly everything you needed to know about your customer base existed in a single space, and all you needed to do was find a way to listen to the conversation. Well, it is — and you can. That space is social media.

Social media (and the Internet in general) has come to dominate nearly half the globe. Customers use the Internet to communicate and connect with each other and the brands they want to do business with. These customers are telling you what you need to know about the needs of your intended audience. Here are a few ways you can put social media to work for you.

Pay attention to how your customers speak

You likely already know you should be monitoring social sites for mentions of your brand in case customers register complaints or talk about experiences they had with you. There’s more you can get out of these basic brand mentions, though.

Pay attention to how people speak about your company and the services you provide. Listen to what your customers are mentioning as the most important aspects in their buying experience. What matters the most when developing customer loyalty? What draws people to your products and services? What causes them to go to your competitors? This insight will help you improve the customer experience and better meet their needs.

Get quick results for surveys

Rather than spending weeks or months gathering data from surveys and study groups, you can use social media to learn about your customers significantly quicker. Pose questions to your followers, and encourage customers to share experiences with your brand to get a feel for what matters most to them.

In many ways, the information you glean from social media might be even more valuable than what you learn from focus groups. Nearly 3/4 of all people with Internet access use social media in some form. Using social media for your research, therefore, has the potential to help you gain a much more complete picture of industry trends and customer preferences.

Using social media for your surveys can also be a fantastic way to control costs related to social research. There are a variety of free tools available across a number of social platforms, but even the ones that have a cost tend to be more cost-efficient than spending the time and money to conduct surveys and poll focus groups.

Get real-time results

Traditional surveys often take several weeks or months to process and analyze. When you use social media to gather this important information, you get your answers in real time. This can help you implement positive changes for your customers and take advantage of the information you learned, while remaining confident that trends have not yet shifted.

Social media is a valuable tool for market research. It can help you learn more about your customers so you can better meet their needs and grow your business.

Date: 28th April, 2015 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Business Lessons You Can Learn From Film and Television

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Inspiration can come from many places. While it’s always important to look toward successful leaders to see what you can do to better yourself and your organization, you can also find tips in the most unlikely of places, including film and television. While certain fictional characters may seem like little more than “kids stuff” on the surface, entertainment is actually filled with budding entrepreneurs, successful businesspeople, and everyone in between.

1. Lex Luthor – Supervillain, Business Leader, Or Both?

If you’ve only known Lex Luthor as a “mad scientist” who will do whatever it takes to stop his arch rival, Superman, you haven’t been keeping up with the character for the last several decades. In the classic Richard Donner film, Superman, Luthor’s plot involves buying up thousands of acres of worthless Arizona desert that will eventually be transformed into a “new West coast” of high-priced real estate after he separates California from the rest of the U.S. by way of his dastardly plan.

Though Superman thankfully puts a stop to him before that can happen, the business lesson here is abundantly clear. Luthor recognized an opportunity in real estate (or, as he so eloquently put it, “the one thing they’re not making any more of”). He thought outside the box and was able to find a new way to penetrate an existing market, which is something all business owners should be doing on a daily basis. Even though his target market seemed impenetrable, he was able to put a bold new slant on an old idea just by embracing unique possibilities.

2. The Avengers – The Importance of Teamwork

One of the most amazing things about the 2012 film The Avengers is the important business lesson inside. From the moment these heroes get together, all they do is bicker. Instead of saving the world, much of the first part of the film involves them arguing with one another to the point where a villain is able to execute the vast majority of his master plan while no one’s even paying attention.

The business lesson from The Avengers, however, rests in the third act. Separately, each hero could not complete the mission before them. Only by properly teaming together and utilizing their complementary strengths were they able to form something much bigger than any one person. It’s the same thing you need to be doing in business on a daily basis. Your team members are there for a reason. Everyone is good at something. Recognizing those strengths is what drives success.

3. Wile E. Coyote – There Is No “Magic Bullet” In Business

Wile E. Coyote is known for many things, including being a textbook illustration of what not to do in the world of business. As Wile E. Coyote attempts to capture his arch rival, the roadrunner, he keeps trying to do so with a single solution. Sometimes that solution takes the form of an Acme rocket that explodes too early or an anvil placed in just the wrong location.

The business lesson here is startlingly simple and amazingly important at the same time. If you depend on one single “magic bullet” solution to achieve business success, you’re never going to get what you want. Such a solution doesn’t exist. Putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, isn’t the way to run a successful business. It’s gambling that will never quite pay off. You can’t expect any one single move to rocket your business into the stratosphere. Instead, you need to have backup plans for your backup plans and (most importantly) patience.

You really never know where inspiration might rear its head. One second you might think you’re only watching a diabolical villain trying to pull one over on the last surviving son of Krypton. But before you know it, you realize you’re actually watching a master businessman at play. Important business lessons can come from even the most unlikely places. You just have to make sure your eyes are always open and you know where to look.

Date: 17th April, 2015 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

How to Convince Customers You’re Worthy of Their Loyalty

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Did you know that 71 percent of customers have stopped using a company because of the poor customer service they received? Did you also know that the average value of a lost customer is $243? Poor custaomer experiences cost companies money and seriously hurt the bottom line. No company can afford to just throw away $243 per person.

Fortunately, there is a solution. By focusing your efforts on improving your customers’ experience, you can help encourage them to return to you, improving retention and stopping the bleed of past customers going to your competitors. Here’s how to do it.

Focus on employees

Your employees are the face of the company when customers interact with your brand. Make sure they represent you well. Develop a strong relationship with employees by giving them degrees of independence, flexibility, and a work environment that’s a pleasant place to be. Employees will become more appreciative and enthusiastic about your brand and pass that along to customers.

Give employees training, then independence

Focus on building a culture of independence. Allow company representatives to troubleshoot and solve problems on their own. This will help them feel more appreciated, while improving customer service. Now, when a customer calls with a complaint, the person who answers can actually help them, rather than passing the phone call from person to person.

Try to under-promise and over-deliver

Far too many customers are used to companies neglecting their promises, so show that you’re different. Promise customers the minimum of what they can expect and then over-deliver.

Listen to what customers say are the weakest parts of their experience

Though fewer and fewer customers actually use complaint lines to let companies know they did wrong, that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped complaining. Instead, it’s simply become more common for people to release their reviews to the public through social media.

A bad review from a disgruntled customer can have an enormous impact on your company’s reputation. Address customer complaints head-on and try to make amends for their poor experience. If the customer is satisfied, then politely ask them to update or remove the bad review.

Treat bad reviews as learning experiences. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What part of the customer experience was impacted (product research, pricing, the purchase itself, questions about the product, etc.)?
  • Are there any patterns to the types of complaints made by customers?
  • What do these bad reviews say about how customers wish to be seen in your organization?

Use the information you garner to guide you in making improvements to the customer experience. Prioritize changes based on the weaknesses customers point out in their reviews, and let them know they’re valued by your company.

The customer experience can be a fantastic predictor of consumer loyalty and retention. When you learn how to convince customers to stay with your brand, you’ll see more money in your pocket and better growth. Use the above advice to update your customer experience to make the most of every interaction between customer and company.

Date: 10th April, 2015 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

How Does Pinterest Fit into Your Business’s Success?

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Is your business on Pinterest? If not, it should be. Pinterest can have a huge impact on your company’s success. Here are three ways you can use Pinterest to your best advantage to gain more customers and increase profits:

Establish Your Business as an Industry Authority

Pinterest is golden when it comes to establishing your business as an authority in your industry. Provide real value in your pins and boards, and you can quickly position yourself as the go-to expert in your field. Value is the key. Go out of your way to give as much free information as you can with your pins and boards. Your pins should tell a compelling story about who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

Don’t just make one board on Pinterest. Create several, and put them into categories, such as “how to,” “FAQs,” “interesting uses for a product or service,” “how other people are using the product or service,” “tips for getting the most out of the product or service,” and any other category you think would provide real value to your customers.

Make sure your boards are fun and engaging, too. The more people look at your boards, the more they’ll take your pictorial stories to heart — and the more they’ll share those images with others. If you have a YouTube channel, post videos to your Pinterest boards. These are great for a “how to” category. The more you post, the more of an industry expert you’ll seem. This will increase customer engagement with your company, as well as customer loyalty, since customers love to be associated with the best in the business.

Tap into the Power of Other Companies’ Networks

Do you want to reach potential customers you might have never found on your own? Collaborate with other business owners on Pinterest. There are a number of ways you can do this. One is to start a group board with another business in your industry. Another is to allow a business in your niche to put pins on your boards in exchange for you being able to pin to their boards.

The more followers your collaborative partner has, the more potential new customers your business will be exposed to when you post on a common board or to your partner’s board. Your partner will get the same benefit from being exposed to your followers. You can collaborate like this with as many business partners on Pinterest as you’d like. Just make sure they’re all in your niche, so you don’t confuse current or potential customers.

Vet collaborative partners thoroughly before embarking on a Pinterest business venture with them. Remember, the things other companies post on your boards reflect on your company, so choose your partners carefully. Make sure you trust each other to only pin appropriate and relevant content to each others’ boards.

Use Pinterest as a Conduit to Your Main Company Website

Is your main company website lacking the traffic it needs to thrive? Pinterest can help attract new visitors to your website. The people who use Pinterest are really passionate about it. If they like what they see on your boards, they’ll be more likely to visit your website to find out more about your company.

The key is to get people to re-pin your images to their own boards. You want people to re-pin and to share your pins with others. Getting them to do this means pinning visually entertaining, enticing, mysterious, and/or educational images to your boards. Pins that make your followers stop and look twice are more likely to motivate them to re-pin and/or share your pins with their friends and family. Try to make sure your images solve a problem, appeal to someone’s interest in a hobby, inspire them, or are just plain gorgeous.

Include a link back to your company’s website. That way, when other users re-pin your images to their own boards, their followers will see them, along with your link. If you’ve made images interesting enough for others to re-pin and share, it’s highly likely they and their followers will want to click your links, as well, to go to your website and learn more about you. That’s your chance to turn them into customers who will buy from you and tell others about you, too.

As you can see, Pinterest can be a powerful tool for increasing the success of your business. Follow these tips, and you’ll be amazed at the additional customers, followers, and profits you acquire. When it comes to boosting your bottom line, Pinterest is picture perfect.

Date: 7th April, 2015 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

How to Handle Customer Complaints Effectively

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Few aspects of running a business can be more frustrating — or more expected — than customer complaints. It’s impossible for even the most successful companies to please every customer every time. Knowing how to handle customer complaints effectively and professionally can improve brand reputation and turn a disgruntled customer around.

Listen and acknowledge the customer

It sounds basic, but a surprising number of businesses care more about defending their actions than listening to the customer. Remember that the vast majority of people who have a problem with your company won’t bother complaining to you. They’ll just complain to everyone else. Every customer who takes the time to complain directly to you should be thanked for the opportunity to make the situation right. This means listening carefully to everything the customer has to say about the experience and offering an apology for their discontent.

If you encounter a complaint online, reach out and publicly acknowledge the complaint online as well. Let the person know how disappointed you are that they were unhappy and ask for the opportunity to discuss the incident with them privately.

Discover the source of their frustration

If a customer complains that they can’t find something in your store, you might assume they’re asking you to reorganize your shelves. However, they might really be upset that no staff members noticed their frustration and stepped in to help before they started complaining.

Find out what the company can do to help

Sometimes all the customer really wants is an apology or information about how you’ll work to improve so you don’t make the same mistake again. In these situations, it’s easy to exceed customer expectations by offering coupons or a similar incentive in addition to meeting their request.

If the customer’s not sure how they’d like to be compensated or if they have demands you can’t reasonably meet, you should have a policy in place to help alleviate the customer’s concerns. Make a point of explaining what your company’s doing to improve in the area of the complaint, and thank them for their feedback.

Handle the publicity of social media

If a complaint originates on social media, take the solution back to social media once the situation’s resolved. Everything in social media is public, so once a customer posts a complaint, it can be seen by countless potential customers. Bringing the solution back to social media will help those who saw the original complaint see how well you did addressing it.

If someone complains to you through a blog post, ask them to either update the post so new readers know the situation was resolved or remove it altogether. If the complaint was made on Facebook or a similar platform, return to the original post and make an update yourself, such as, “I’m so glad we were able to work together to resolve this problem. We look forward to doing more business with you in the future.”

Customer complaints are an aspect of business no one enjoys but everyone has to know how to manage. Keeping the above guidelines in mind should help you successfully navigate this terrain, strengthen your company’s brand, and improve your reputation.

Date: 27th March, 2015 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

4 Ways To Boost Your Email Success Rates

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Email can be a powerful tool for reaching potential customers. After all, about 91 percent of customers have an email address they check at least one time per day. It’s a consistently reliable way for getting in touch with people who might be interested in what your company has to offer.

Unfortunately, often one of your biggest hurdles is simply convincing people to open your email in the first place. You have to battle against being perceived as spam and being overlooked to attract the attention of your intended audience. Here are some tried-and-true techniques you can use to boost your email open rates and find success with your next email campaign.

Personalization

Do you like to open emails that come from impersonal companies or unknown senders? Neither do your customers. Make sure the emails you send are personalized for your recipient. A personalized email will include a specific person at the company as the sender, such as Janet Smith from XYZ Marketing, instead of just XYZ Marketing.

You’ll also want to personalize the information within the email. Carefully store the information you have about your leads, then use that data to personalize your message and make it relevant to the recipient.

Segmentation

As you gather email addresses through your website and other interactions with potential customers, you’ll find there may be large differences between your leads. One person might be researching for their office but have very little decision-making power, while another might be CEO of his company. Segment your email list based on criteria such as location, job title, budget, or other important factors. Then tailor your messages to each of these groups you’re trying to reach.

Quality headlines

When convincing people to open your email, few areas matter more than your headline. Headlines that are excessively general, use too much punctuation, or otherwise look like spam are going to be ignored. Write headlines that capture the essence of your message and make your email look appealing. Pique your readers’ curiosity and offer them a small taste of the value they’ll receive when they open the email.

Value

Above all else, you want to make sure your email provides real value. Your message should offer your customers a clear return when they open it. Just like the rest of the content you create for your company website and marketing materials, your emails should provide useful information people can use, forward, and share with others.

When your emails clearly show their own value, you build your relationship with readers. People come to trust the emails they receive from your company even more. As a result, you’ll get better open and click-through rates. On the other hand, if your emails repeatedly show little value, customers will begin to disregard them, and your messages will be relegated to the ‘junk’ folder or trash.

Email can be a fantastic tool for communicating with potential customers and building relationships. The key is to use this method correctly. If you’re interested in boosting your ROI from your email lists, make sure you’ve implemented the above ideas. If you’re interested in beginning a new marketing campaign and have questions, contact us to get started.

Date: 13th March, 2015 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Translating a Study Abroad Experience Into Business Success

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Studying abroad is a popular and honored tradition for many students as they go through college. If you had the opportunity to do so, you likely reveled in the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture. But while you were busy learning about new cultures, you were also learning some valuable insight about business. You just might not have realized it. Here are three lessons you learned about being successful in business while you were studying abroad.

Jump in with both feet

When you find yourself studying in a foreign country, you don’t have the luxury of taking it slow. You’re living in a new land, completely immersed in the new culture. You now have to completely rely on your language and culture lessons because this is no longer just practice.

When you start a new business, you need to apply the same principles. You need to jump in with both feet and completely apply yourself to your new business and new industry. If you try to cut corners or resist investing the time and energy needed for the business, it’s going to be substantially more difficult to succeed.

Be assertive about learning

When you first arrive in a foreign country, the next six months or year feels incredibly long, but it’s actually quite short. Before you know it, you’re back on a plane coming home. You have only a matter of months to absorb all you can about your temporary country. This means meeting the people, trying the food, seeing the sites, and learning the language. You need to be assertive about learning to maximize your opportunities.

When you start a new business, you need to dedicate yourself to learning as well. Once your business officially opens, you only have so much time financially before you need to start having customers. Before you open your doors, you should have a very good understanding of everything there is to know about your customers, how to market to them, and what your appeal will be to reach them.

Surround yourself with helpful people

When you arrive in a new country to study abroad, you’re likely to experience some degree of culture shock. There will be a period, however brief, when you feel overwhelmed by the differences in how things are done in the new country versus your home country. One of the best ways to cope with these problems is to surround yourself with people who can help you. In a school program, this might be fellow students going through the same emotions as you. If language becomes a struggle, professors can offer some additional tutoring to help you communicate as well. Finding these key people who want to help you is enormously beneficial.

In business, you’ll also face difficult moments. There are going to be times when you feel overwhelmed with your ambitions and will wonder if success is possible or worth the effort you’re putting into the company. You also need to surround yourself with helpful people who can support you. These people can serve as your sounding board, helping you bounce ideas around while also offering guidance when you feel like giving up.

Running a business is a challenging proposition for anyone. If you studied abroad, however, you learned some valuable lessons about success that you might not have even realized. As you begin to prepare for the future of your business, consider the lessons you learned and see how they might be applied to moving your new enterprise forward.

Date: 10th March, 2015 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

How Engaging Are Your Sign-up Forms?

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Take a moment to think about the forms you ask your visitors to fill out and submit when they visit your website or come to your store. These forms help convert those individuals from anonymous visitors to active leads you can contact regularly. To make that happen, you want people to feel encouraged to leave you with their name and information so you can remember them.

Make the offer look enticing

Leads are the lifeblood of any organization. If you want people to provide you with their contact information, you need to give them a reason to do so. Make your sign-up forms appealing. First, make the offer something desirable. Then, make the actual screen look inviting.

Desirable offers

Developing a desirable offer means understanding the people with whom you’re speaking. Carefully analyze your buyer personas and consider the type of information and material that would appeal to them. Once you develop the information you want to put behind a sign-up wall, advertise it on the parts of your site where you know those specific buyers are likely to venture. For example, mention it at the bottom of relevant blog posts or alongside product information geared toward specific customer groups. As with all content, your primary goal should be to provide high-value information.

Appealing appearance

When visitors reach your landing page, you want to make sure the offer looks appealing on the screen. Add an image or two to help them connect with the offer. It doesn’t have to be an image of the real offer. A cartoon drawing with the name of your ebook, for example, will work just fine. Use a balanced layout and enticing language to encourage people to sign up.

Make the form itself manageable

Once you’ve attracted visitors to your sign-up page, the last thing you want to do is scare them off by making the process too drawn out or complicated. Make sure the form itself doesn’t look too intimidating. The amount of information requested should be comparable to the offer you’re providing. If it’s just a basic ebook, you should only ask for basic information. If you ask for too much, people will get turned off and click away.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to entice leads, contact us today. We’d love to help you with your marketing campaign.

Date: 27th February, 2015 | Under: Design Tips, Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments


 

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