Where do your clients hang out?

When you know who your ideal clients are – the people that you really want to work with, who will love working with you – to get your marketing message to them, you need to think about where they hang out. When you know this, you can put your marketing messages in places where they will see them and respond to them. If you just splash your messages everywhere, your prospective clients will see them, but so will hundreds of other people that you don’t want to work with, so most of your effort and money will be wasted. Putting your messages in places where your prospects won’t see them will waste your effort and money too.

To figure out where your clients hang out, think about who your perfect clients are and what makes them tick. Combine these with the products and services that you want to provide and you’ll get a picture of who these people are and where they hang out.

For example, if you provide weight loss advice to people who want to get fitter and live a healthier lifestyle, leaving a brochure in a pub won’t bring you many enquiries – if any. You will have more success if you leave that same brochure in a doctor’s surgery.

If you specialize in helping women become more successful and assertive at work, promoting your business in magazines aimed at men will be a waste of time.

For ideal clients over a certain age, will they see your message on the internet? More and more people are going online, regardless of their age, but you still need to know where on the internet they spend time. What other products and services are they looking for? Which websites do they visit?

 Where do your clients hang out? Make a list of everywhere your clients ‘could’ spend time and another list of places where they don’t hang out. For instance, your clients might hang out at industry specific networking events, but not at trade exhibitions. Once you’ve got your list, make sure you only put your marketing messages in places where your clients hang out and you will save yourself a lot of time and effort.

Never be ashamed of making things easy

Alice

There is nothing more off-putting than being spouted at by a lot of jargon, especially if you’re not familiar with it. It can be very demoralizing to keep asking what ‘x’ means, and wearisome to retain the information and applying it to what you already know.

Therefore if you produce a new product or service to your public, make sure it is easy to understand. Making things simple is not a crime, it is a necessary requisite, if you are to get your prospective customers to comprehend and ultimately to buy it or hire you.

Making something simple is not as easy as it sounds. It does require a large amount of forethought, analysis of how a product really works, or how a service can be efficiently provided. It needs to have volunteers to demonstrate it on first, to watch its performance and recognise any glitches, ready to be amended or adapted where necessary. Only when the result glides by on silken runners will the product or service be ready to release on your unsuspecting public!

And even then you can’t rest on your laurels, as feedback and comments needs to be collected, instigated and prompted, as well as acted upon to make the required improvements. These things can always evolve into a better model as time goes by, so constant awareness and watchful motivation will alert you to concepts that are succesful, or even failures needing attention.

At the end of the day, it is the simplicity that has made the difference, provided the USP and proved its worth. Unless your customers can properly cope with what you have to offer, in a way that they can appreciate, absorb and act upon by themselves, presented in a way that totally relates to the way they think, act and react, all that hard work would have gone to waste.

Web-attractiveness isn’t necessarily good design

Alice

Reading through the LinkedIn Groups a question grabbed my attention. It was a lady who was obsessed with setting up a series of fancy designed monetized blogs. As well as wavering on which kind of blogging platform to use, she was very concerned about the design, as well as keen to start making money.

Unfortunately the thing about monetized blogs is that they take some time before they start to yield decent results. They need to be attractive to readers in order to build up a suitable following that would respond to the advertising, and they need to be visited regularly before there will be enough readers tempted to click on.

And web-attractiveness doesn’t mean a fancy template, it means good, varied, consistent and practical content. Plenty of websites have spent a fortune on the design, only to be sorely lacking in the information they contain, especially if it is out of date. Large corporates waste money thinking that by redesigning their website it will enhance its performance, but most visitors don’t notice, only caring about the information they need and want. OK, cleverly designed buttons that encourage a mouse-click may be successful, but what about the stuff they lead on to?

What makes a website or blog successful is good content, coupled with excellent navigation that guides the visitor in the right direction. Visitors should enjoy their experience, be easily gratified by finding what they are looking for, benefit from the information gleaned and be suitably impressed to bookmark, subscribe and regularly return for more.

When a visitor lands on your website or blog, they immediately want to establish this is the right kind of website they are looking for, without stopping to admire the fancy graphics and beautiful colours. A good design enables readers to immediately find what they want, and doesn’t hinder or distract them from their purpose. The overall result should be readable, legible, uncluttered and easy to use.

And the content should also encourage a desire to return, react to the call to actions and succumb to the sign up forms. Although an excellently written book may be read many times, it can’t compare to a blog that is regularly updated with new content, satisfying both its human readers as well as the search engine robots, who play such a necessary part in promoting your content throughout the web.

What sort of thing can you write about in your newsletter?

Alice

In my spare time I read all sort of things, and one of them is the National Trust magazine. It has recently been redesigned, bright, colourful and modern, but the thing that struck me this morning was how informative it was about what the National Trust is doing.

There is also a broadsheet-style newsletter-featurette for the local area we live in, giving a more focused approach to the properties and gardens close to home. There always seems to be plenty of news about the new features that are being planned, have just been opened and renovations to existing treasures. The style is informative, educational and entertaining, carefully written to suit all kinds of readers.

I always want to read the National Trust magazine and its accompanying literature because of its positive manner and worth while information. There is never the idea that I would ignore it when it plopped through my letter box, even if I was really busy at that particular time, but it is something that could be put aside for further scrutinisation when I have time.

One of the reasons why I enjoy it is because it doesn’t sell to me. It provides material I want to read, fascinating facts and scintillating stories. It’s style is to entertain and educate, happily, authoritatively, colourfully and regularly. When the next magazine is due I start to wonder why it appears to be late.

This concept could be transferred to your own newsletters, whether online or on paper, when communicating to your readers and mailing lists. This is not a medium in which to sell. It is a place to tell those that are interested in you and what you do more information about yourself and your business that they didn’t already know, should or ought to know, would like to know, would benefit from knowing, and once they did know would more likely react favourably towards your business.

There is nothing more gratifying than being the first to know something before anyone else. It puts you on a pedestal above your peers. Treat your readers as if you were giving them advance notice about a new product or service, letting them into a secret that nobody else knows, educating them into a fabulous tip that would improve their lives or businesses no end, make them feel really special. Then your relationship with them will be increased greatly, which all contributes towards more collaboration in the future.

The importance of a personal email list

Alice

None of us like receiving spam. So considering we all hate spam so much, why do businesses still pursue buying lists of contacts to sell their wares? Why is it that they cannot wait to build up a personal communications list – is it because it takes too long, it is too much hard work and is therefore inconvenient?

But this is a world that is becoming increasingly more savvy to email marketing practices, particularly those on the receiving end. It’s not worth bombarding people who don’t want to receive your stuff, especially since, of course, there are mechanisms in place that weed out unwanted material and dump it in a spam folder.

Therefore you need to do it properly right from the beginning, and set up an opt-in email capturing service on your website. How fast you progress in building your list will depend on how much you work at it, how much you are prepared to provide good quality information that readers are willing to receive, absorb, retain and act upon.

The result is the list that you have accumulated is yours only, and nobody else’s. It will comprise of members who have signed up voluntarily, who want to read your newsletters, who value the information you give them, who look forward to next month’s issue, who will comment and leave feedback so you can improve what you provide, both in your business as well as your newsletters.

And why are you communicating with them? To win your readers’ trust, opinion, understanding and appreciation. You extend your expertise and increase your reputation, convince them of your qualities and give them what they desire. After you have won them round to your way of thinking, they are then more likely to buy your products or sign up to your services. Marketing yourself and what your business provides is all about building upon a relationship with your customers, whether they are past, present and prospective, to facilitate business or develop advocates to influence others – and so the list can continue to grow.

And growing your list is important, especially organically. Don’t feel dispelled to increase it with purchased lists, otherwise you’ll be taking several steps backwards. All that hard work to win the trust and build relationships will have been thrown down the drain. This is a case of less is more; what value is there in communicating to a large amount of people who aren’t interested, who only press the delete or spam button, who don’t know you from Adam, and who certainly don’t care a jot? Why should you pander to them, when you could be writing to a list of people who want to know more about you and what you do, because you’ve managed to convince them you are worth while?

One piece of marketing advice given out states it’s easier to sell to existing customers than to find new ones. Think about it…

The importance of interaction

Alice

When you’re dealing with social media, one of the most important things to consider is interaction.

Interaction is when your readers, audience, fans, friends or whatever are compelled to respond to your social networking activities. This will happen when you post up something that is worth commenting on, full of value, beneficial and helpful, entertaining or educational, or even controversial, just begging for a response to counteract it or confirm their approval or agreement with it.

Blogs thrive from comments. Spiders register a comment as new material, so it can enhance a post by making it more attractive to the search engines. It also adds to the conversation because the reader is presented with new ideas and concepts that contribute to the subject matter or interest factor. Ideally posts should be written to encourage a comment, or contain a call to action to remind readers to leave feedback or their point of view.

Facebook works on interaction, as every time you post on your profile, or ideally on someone else’s profile as a comment to their status update, Facebook sees this interaction and clocks it as a match. The more interaction you have with your Facebook friends, the more likely you are going to see your posts or blog feeds on their profiles. If you don’t partake in lots of interaction on social networking sites, it’s not only the search engines that deem you to be inactive, its the social networking robots as well, which can be detrimental if you want to create interaction to help promote yourself or your business.

Twitter is the master of interaction, of course! It is all about interacting with your fellow Twitterers, chatting, commenting, retweeting, sharing in real time – generally forming relationships with your followers as you interact and find out what they are doing. Really this is not a place to be doing business in the old sense of the word, it’s about communicating and making friends, networking by being sociable, asking after their health, family or latest event, having a giggle over a piece of news or notification from elsewhere, exchanging information about each other as if you were face to face and not separated by the web in between two computers. It is a place to find out information, learn from a blog feed, gain trust and credibility by giving and sharing, having a conversation with real people who respond readily – in other words, interacting.

Using social networking sites, and also social bookmarking sites, needs commitment to fine-tune your interaction with your followers and friends. It’s no good having a fantastic blast one day, and then forgetting to continue for the next few days. Even if your followers forgive you, the search engines and social networking sites won’t. Robots don’t understand like humans do, and they see inactivity as exactly as what it is, and immediately your ratings go down, you loose those slots on your friends’ profiles, your stats take a plunge and your Twitter streams are dark and empty.

I know it’s hard to keep it up indefinitely, so it’s worth working out a social media diary to help you keep the momentum going. Plan in advance what you are going to say that month, or week if you think short-term, so that there is always information available to use when your inspiration dries up. It’s much easier to provide content, leading onto to some beneficial interaction, if you have a focus, goal or objective towards your social networking activities – get more leads, raise your profile, extend your expertise, collect more fans or ‘likes’, increase your subscription rates, develop your visibility on the net – need I go on?

And above all – it’s so important to have fun!

What is the difference between Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0?

Alice

For those who are still confused by my title, Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 are the various stages the internet has evolved, and how it has affected electronic, email, online or digital marketing (the various terms for marketing on the internet also suggests how technology and its concepts have rapidly changed).

Web 1.0 deals with static websites. These were originally set up to be online brochures, a representative of your business on the internet where people could go to find information.

A space was provided on the web which was filled with an attractive (if applicable) website that hardly changed since its conception, except for a few additional alterations and updates, sparsely accomplished due to cost and reliance on webmasters. The concept was simple, and at first confined to those who could afford it or had access to it.

Web 2.0 deals with interaction. Now there are all sorts of websites that allow their visitors to add their own contributions, that are regularly updated with new information, encourage participation, call to action and regular methods of following or subscribing.

This concept of interaction has been spread to social networking and sharing sites, a phenomenon that has expanded hugely to become almost a part of our daily lives, a requirement to be constantly up-to-dated with what’s going on, become a trend setter or act as an innovator to start off the next big thing.

Then there is the ability to update your website through CMS (content management systems), in whatever format it is in (website, blog, blogsite, forum, status update or whatever), by yourself whenever and wherever you like (on any suitable hardware, software or media), and also by others through leaving comments, feedback, contributions and advice.

Web 3.0 is no longer a concept of the future, it is already here. The use of smart and android phones have commanded a change in internet use. It’s not just that websites have to adapt to be effectively seen on people’s mobiles, but the technology behind them as regards data gathering, customer segmentation and promotional targeting.

Data about consumers are gathered from a myriad of sources: mobile use, payment cards, loyalty cards, telephone voting systems for popular television participation shows, the list is endless. Today’s technology allows marketers much easier access to all sorts of information that would have taken ages and with much higher costs than before.

This is mostly permission based (a requisite much more heavily policed in the States), but unfortunately subjected to technically advanced fraudsters and spammers. Even so, marketers have to find new ways of promoting their products to overcome apathy and avoidance of regular advertising, and technology provides constant answers to beat the increasingly rapid changes of today’s society as it adapts to whatever is thrown at it!