How do your customers find you?

Alice

I have a good friend whose new business is doing particularly well. She opened her new shop nearly two years ago, and already she is overwhelmed and thinking of expansion!

I asked her what she thought contributed to her success.

First, she has encouraged repeat business, a good following and excellent referral status by providing small discretionary discounts where she deemed it appropriate.

This did not undermine her prices, because the discounts were placed while the customer was already in situ. They had already come to her for an appointment, so adding on other services on top, mostly via the customer’s request, but sometimes from her suggestions, offering a discount didn’t compromise on her time or resources. Not only did this promote what other services she could provide, this also put her in a good light as far as the customer’s finances were concerned, making them far more likely to return.

Second, she participated greatly on social media. Being young and dynamic, using Facebook was natural to her, so she used her already amassed following as a referral base. I remember her opening night party was like sardines due to her publicity tactics on Facebook.

She has a well populated Facebook Page for her business, to which she regularly contributes with new ideas and products, special offers, answering questions, general observations, pictures of past successes, and testimonials from ecstatic customers only too happy to show off what she has done for them.  She gets her staff to check it daily, and regularly keeps up-to-date with her responses, so the content is always fresh and new.

Also she maintains her website’s number 1 slot on Google through the same tactics. It is regularly updated, sometimes every day, with material from her Facebook Page, but obviously adapted for a more professional slant. Here she promotes new services and products, discounts and competitions, and provides a personal insight about a particular product or service every month.

When she questions her new customers how they found about her, they nearly always say they came because of her website. I’m sure this isn’t due to expensive PPC strategies or worrying about in vogue keyword usage, it’s purely down to regular updating. She knows what her customers want, sources the solutions for them, and promotes her products and services in a friendly, accessible and professional manner.

This continuous new material aimed purposely for her customers’ benefit, without a hint of blathering on how wonderful she is (she doesn’t need to say that!), is what hits the spot and, along with her welcoming message, environment and premises, new custom is encouraged to visit and try her wares. Once sampled, they’re hooked, and are very likely to remain as regular customers, thus building up her client base even further.

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Do some Christmas giving via LinkedIn

Alice

‘Tis the season to give and take, and this should not be confined to presents under the Christmas tree! Business thrives on giving and taking, especially within social media, and really this sort of altruism shouldn’t be limited to the last days of December!

The title mentions LinkedIn, so how do you give and take in this form of social media?

A major part of the LinkedIn profile is the ‘Recommendations’ area under ‘Experience’. This is where past and present clients who have been pleased or impressed with your business activities can leave you a testimonial or recommendation, and this listing will show prospective clients or employees how satisfied the givers are with what you have done for them, and if you’re lucky they may even state the project successes amongst the other nice things.

And if you’re vain, you do have the opportunity to ‘edit’ the testimonial, but then that would defeat the object! I think you should accept praise or criticism in whatever form it is presented to you, even if it doesn’t quite meet your expectations or match your desired patterns or forecasts. People see you in their own way, and this can be quite enlightening – after all, as every marketer knows, feedback in any form is good and should be valued and acted upon.

It’s always pleasant to receive presents (albeit recommendations), so why not give one back in return? Summaries of the recommendations you give to others are listed in your sidebar of your profile, a nice touch to show off your altruism that always looks good to whoever reads up about you.

So why not send someone a testimonial or recommendation today (big hint from us at Appletree!) so we can send one back to you too!

Ineffectual landing pages are a waste of time

Alice

This sweeping statement has arisen because I see so many examples!

In fact this covers two kinds of landing pages, since it refers to the webpage the visitor first lands on when visiting a website.  This can actually be any page on your website, not necessarily the index or homepage. This is because it may be the result of a visitor asking a question on the search engines, and your landing page answers the criteria or keywords within the question.

If each webpage is carefully constructed to act like mini-index pages for its specific subject, it should have been suitably optimised to respond to such searches, with the keywords strategically placed to activate such a response from the searched question.

The other kind of landing page is the squeeze page. This is also called a sales page and is the result of a email or online campaign where the prospect is directed straight to a specific page specially created to fulfil the transaction portion of the campaign.

This is another point of failure. In the States this kind of page goes on for miles and miles, and this is because the Americans expect that level of persuasion to enable their prospects to be convinced to take appropriate action. In the UK this is not tolerated, as we find it ridiculous that so much needs to be said to make a sale. But even if the British version isn’t constructed in such a manner, it still needs to take on a formula to succeed.

It should act like a story-board, driving the reader onto the next section. Each section should explain why the reader should buy the product, explaining all the benefits that will make their lives better, counteracting all the objections the customer may have towards buying this product, providing case studies and testimonials that will help promote the product in a much better light – and of course all this takes up space! Now do you see why the American versions are so long?

So the latest example I saw was a simple box saying ‘Buy this product’ with a ‘Pay now’ button underneath is certainly not going to work – there was no call to action or explanation why, and with such basic elements missing it hadn’t really got a hope!

9 selling drives that relate to marketing

Alice

Here are some tips on various selling techniques. Controversially I’m treating them like my marketing methods: building relationships, spreading expertise and gaining credibility, as these attributes can all be used in conjunction towards a goal, to sell a product or service.

1. Don’t over-stuff. Avoid the overwhelming desire to include everything all at once at the beginning. I know you are brimming with ideas, but taking a step back to view the project as a whole, dividing it into manageable chunks so it can be understood better: after all, you can’t eat an elephant with one bite.

2. Remember to drip feed. Now you’ve separated your selling concepts into easily digestible portions, it’s time to introduce them slowly to your public. Prepare a particular and realistic goal you want to achieve after each publication, and don’t be afraid to segregate it even further if you think that would help. There should be no rush with this project.

3. Be gentle. Don’t go hell for leather with your delivery, don’t raise hackles or set any alarms going, you need to gradually convince your audience to think like you. Try and get into their heads, predict how they will react, provide soothing solutions to counteract any controversy, and be prepared for the unexpected.

4. Experience it. Now’s the time to carefully describe every aspect of your project or service. You need to ‘get inside’ it to be able to describe it appropriately, release every foible and explain its excellence, efficiencies and satisfactions. Make your customer visualise what it’s like to use or experience your project or service and how it will make their lives better.

5. Add value. Now’s the chance to introduce the very essence of your product or service. What’s it made of? How does it tick? What’s it’s best device? How does it compare to your competitors? What makes it better than anything else? How it will improve your customers’ lives? And what good value it is for the price you are asking for.

6. Work in progress. Don’t scare away from describing how your product improves during the selling process. Publicise any improvements, upsell any upgrades, talk about trials and the successes you had with them.

7. Eliminate objections. Describe how your customer cannot live without your product, or how their business will excel with your service. Provide case studies on various scenarios, show before and after situations with evidence, explore every possible objection your customer may have, and find a solution for them. Remain positive while acknowledging any provisions customers may have, and be ready with suitable and credible answers.

8. Use others’ help. Getting testimonials, particularly video because a visual representative has far more credibility than just a statement, will speak volumes. Alternatively get photographs of your testimonials, especially if they are holding or experiencing your product or service. Make sure they say what their problem was, and how your product or service provided the solution for it, this is much better than saying it’s great.

9. It takes time. Remember, like marketing, selling can be an ongoing process, just that there are milestones met and objectives reached along the way. Makes sure your goals are realistic, the time-frame is achievable, and there are apt rewards as a consequence. Incentive is just as good for you as well as your customers.

Using video testimonials to spread the word

Chantal

A few weeks ago I went to a really good workshop on social media. I picked up lots more tips about using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter that we’ll be passing on to you through this blog, through our newsletter, Scribbles, and through Twitter (follow us @TopMarketingTip).

At the end of the session, the presenter, Nigel Morgan, said that he’d like to video some of the participants, if they’d like to say nice things about him and what they’d learnt. Some people immediately went shy and said they couldn’t possibly go on camera.  Then I heard that the videos would be put onto Nigel’s website, with links back to the participants’ websites and that Nigel would make sure they would be found by anyone searching the internet for them. I volunteered straight away – never one to miss out on some free publicity!

Nigel is very well known in our area (Berkshire in the UK) and across the world, because of how he uses social media. He has over 7000 followers on Twitter and is followed by many journalists, who like to quote him and ask him for comments. He gets thousands of visitors to his website every week. This is something that all of us at the workshop can tap into, thanks to Nigel’s offer to video us. The testimonials will be great for Nigel, helping him to sell more workshops; and the fact that they’ll be seen by thousands more people around the world will be great for those of us who volunteered.

So, the next time you’re offered some free publicity, don’t be shy! Jump in and see what it can do for you!