Do you know your ideal clients?

Chantal CorneliusDo you know your ideal clients?

When someone asks you who your clients are, is your answer something like “anyone with a pulse and a cheque book”?

If it is, I’m going to let you into a secret. No matter how hard you try, you’re always going to struggle to grow your business. You might think that trying to attract every sort of client to your business is a great way of getting more clients to work with you. But that’s not true. Trying to work with every different kind of business means that you will always be chasing everyone you meet, working hard to persuade them to work with you. It means that you will agree to work with clients who don’t really value what you do and how much you want to charge. They’ll beat you down on price and then want everything done really quickly. They won’t recommend you to other businesses, because they don’t think you’re that special.

Do you still want to work with clients like that?

If your answer is no, then you need to find out how to identify and attract your PERFECT clients.

Your perfect clients are the ones who come and find you. They want exactly what you want to offer them and they want to pay what you want to charge. They are a joy to work with and they always recommend you to other businesses. But there is a trick to finding them. Nearly every consultant or coach that starts a business begins by doing whatever comes along. The idea of sitting around waiting for people to come to you is a strange one, but it’s one that you need to understand. When you know who your perfect clients are and what you want to offer them, you’ll be able to attract them to you, instead of having to chase after them. You can save time by focusing your attention on only working with clients who really appreciate what you do and who pay you what you’re worth. You can save money by only marketing to your perfect clients and you can make more money from working with them.

Do you know who your perfect clients are?

More marketing methods for Twitter

Alice

Twitter is designed for communication and interaction. It isn’t somewhere just to tweet about what you’re doing or to thrust your latest blog post into the limelight. This is as bad as putting up a poster saying “collect your prize here” and then immediately going away without seeing if anybody is interested in collecting it. You’ve left nobody there to help promote this prize, engage with any interested persons attracted by the offer, answer anbody who wants to ask more questions, or collect information from those who want to sign up! What a wasted opportunity!

Putting up a tweet without monitoring the result is like going into a networking event, standing on a chair and shouting very loudly about what you do, and immediately leaving without bothering to find out what others think about it or even finding out about them and their businesses. Not only is this very rude, it is the same principle as those who thrust networking cards into people’s hands without any form of engaging, or talking endlessly about themselves without anybody else getting a word in!

To use Twitter properly for marketing purposes, it isn’t just a medium for your RSS feed outlet or to tweet about your latest successes or engagements in your diary. It’s somewhere to find out about other things, to put on your investigator’s hat, to sleuth your way about the Twittersphere picking up vital bits of information, to learn new material that could help further your business.

You could use search.twitter.com as your personal search engine by inserting specially researched keywords related to your business that might be used in the conversations of your prospective clients. In fact, it’s like turning into a big eaves-dropper through search engine optimisation. By recognising that others have conversations, and don’t just tweet facts and blog posts without anything else, you home in on specific parts of what they are talking about that interest you.

Once you’ve established a series of tweeple who are talking about what your business is about, now is the chance to jump in and start engaging. Yes, you are allowed to gate-crash in Twitter conversations, as long as it’s relevant to what’s being said. But it must be done in a sociable style, without any hint of selling. There is nothing more of a turn-off than somebody who wades in with all guns firing trying to sell you something you haven’t asked for. Your style must be equally conversational, like if you were at a cocktail party and you overheard an interesting conversation. Subtle-like.

If you are successful, you are one step ahead to connecting properly, gaining their trust and forming a business relationship with them. As with all marketing, the softly-softly approach is best, feeding them beneficial information they can immediately use to make their lives better, befriending them so they become more comfortable with you, getting them to sign up to your newsletter or subscribe to your blog, gently engaging with them until they get to the state they are interested in doing business with you.

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!

Will Facebook take over from websites?

Alice

The short answer is No. This question is asked because, with some businesses, it appears that their Facebook page is getting more hits than their website, but let me assure you these statistics appear to be deceptive.

But let’s start at the beginning. To succeed on Facebook depends on your product (and that includes services) and the kind of customer you are targeting. Certainly in the States, where social networking takes on a totally different culture than in this country, Facebook has a much larger presence and some businesses are thriving on there, but to what cost?

Facebook is an excellent medium to excite initial interest in your company and what it has to offer. As a social networking site it is, of course, interactive and new content is automatically placed on subscribers’ walls. It is ideal for defining problems, socially empathising with them, and with effective communication tactics gather a suitable following. But, as with all social media, selling and marketing is not tolerated; once you’ve captured your audience your Facebook should act like a squeeze page, directing them towards your website where the necessary marketing activities can be put into practice.

Social networking is all about forming relationships and interacting with these new connections. A Facebook page should perform as a microsite, a landing page, a community portal back to your website. It is excellent for lead generation, and your website should collect these likely candidates through its newsletter signup or whatever method you have, so you can communicate your marketing to them later over time.

Unlike your website, Facebook is only temporary. How long will it last before it disappears, changes or is taken over? Although you may have effectively branded your Facebook page to suitably reflect your corporate image, it is still not ‘yours’, Facebook owns it, hence all the adverts in the sidebars. You don’t have control over the navigation as in your own website, and you have to abide by Facebook’s terms and conditions. Your website is a medium to reflect your own image and brand, let alone market and sell your product or service, whereas your Facebook page is purely promotional, a social networking voice for interaction, networking, feedback, customer collecting and lots of fun and creativity!

LinkedIn Groups for interaction, publicity and knowledge

Alice

A great feature of LinkedIn is the groups. There are literally thousands to choose from, in a similar myriad of subjects, levels and sociability.

Locate them through the ‘Groups’ link at the top of your profile page, and you will automatically go to the list of groups you have joined. These vary from open to closed groups, depending on the whims of the administrators, and subgroups can be created out of a parent group, especially if it has grown too big or commands splitting up to cover further aspects of the group’s subject.

To join a group, either click on ‘Groups You May Like’ where a selection of groups that marry up to the keywords you have provided on your profile page (another reason to complete your profile as fully as you can) will be offered to you, or you could search out relevant groups via their categories (alumni, corporate, conference, networking, non-profit, professional or other) and in whatever language you prefer (LinkedIn is, of course, international).

Choosing a category will concentrate the selection, and the search field above that will focus it further. The more succinct you are with your keywords, the better the results. The groups are listed with the most popular (or with the most members) at the top, and closed groups show a little locked sign before the title, which means you will have to be accepted by the administrators before you can contribute.

Once you’ve entered a group, you will see a status update field for you to add in your own contribution (a comment, discussion, question, link to blog post, article or newsletter issue, or whatever you want to share) with the other entries listed below. There is a moving gallery of the latest discussions entered by members, and a discussion hierarchy can be allocated by the administrators for extra promotion.

You will also get email notifications of new discussions whenever they are entered, and when you have contributed to a particular discussion and others have commented so you can follow the conversation and reply if necessary. Discussions thrive on interaction, and some provide a lot of knowledge on particular subjects that I have found to be very useful.

You can check out the other members of the group to see if they are worth connecting with, or to read their profiles if their contributions was particularly noteworthy.  There are other links to publicise promotions and a job board to find new recruits or better employment! The ‘Search’ link allows you to view all the discussions made on the group to backtrack a particular subject or find a comment that is useful to you. And the ‘More’ tab reveals ‘Updates’, ‘My Activity’, ‘My Settings’, ‘Subgroups’ and ‘Group Profile’.

If you are so inclined, you could start your own group. It is very easy to create one, and much enjoyment, knowledge, interaction and opportunities could be obtained through accomplishing such an activity.

What should you be concentrating on in 2011?

Alice

At this time of year predictions for the business future will be winging around the ether, internet, cyberspace or whatever you want to call it, and they are as varied as their subject matter.

But these are the main factors that have reared their heads higher then the rest:

Mobile marketing will take off as more and more people acquire and use smart phones. Is your business and website mobile-ready? Have you adjusted your marketing strategies to accommodate the customer on the move?

Social networking sites will thrive, in particular Twitter and Facebook, though others like YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr and the like will all make their mark. Have you got an established presence on these sites yet? Are you using video, podcasts and other interactive technologies? If so, how much activity have you done on there recently?

Location based services combined with geo-location tagging will come to the fore. Those who haven’t explored applications such as Foursquare need to start now. Businesses need to start building their branded online communities with their followers, let alone their own social network with their customers (easily accomplished through your blog).

Social media will change the concept of marketing delivery. Improved awareness of customer needs will enable focused immediate offers to individuals within specific locations (mobile alerts when passing particular stores) with real-time demand (discounts available there now).

Advocacy will increase as the concept of building your follower-base gathers pace. Encourage sharing of issues and ideas – in fact any kind of interaction between past, present and prospective customers, even your competitors, will help increase awareness of need and its solution.  People buy from people, not faceless adverts.

What are your predictions for success in 2011?