Feb 282012
 

You’ve heard it from me before: if you want your marketing to be successful, you need to get clear on your messaging. And that starts with a strong understanding who your ideal customer is, as well as what motivates and influences them not only to buy the product (or service) you offer, but to buy from you specifically.

If the first step is getting clear about who your ideal client is (the person you most want to work with and what it is about them that makes this the case), the second is in identifying the pain/problem(s) they have for which you or your product/service is a solution. These two steps are a critical. Ignore at your peril.  🙂

Jeff Sexton has written a good article that sums up the problem identification well, which will help you with your messaging anywhere you choose to promote.

Btw, should you be exhibiting in an upcoming Home Show (or even if you’re not), Jeff  uses a highly relevant example of a landscaping services company.

Here’s the article published via WilsonWeb.com:  Sales Tip: Understand What Your Customers Hope to Buy – by Jeff Sexton.

To your success!

Lara

Nov 102011
 

It seems that the number one question we get as marketers involves social media in one facet or another. It is this limitless, intimidating medium that seems to trip up even the most established entrepreneur simply because the “rules” seem to constantly be changing.

If you are thinking of entering the world of social media – whether through a blog, a Twitter account or Facebook fan page (to name but a few) – a word of caution is in order as well as a few helpful tips.

First of all, before entering this social media world you need to be committed to the process. This means that you have to allot a reasonable amount of time to developing your presence –  including the tone of the communications, the look of your page/blog, and content creation. Like anything of value, this is worth doing well. Make sure that your social media presence is consistent and enhances the brand you have so carefully and meticulously already created.  Realize that getting followers or “likes” on your page isn’t necessarily going to happen quickly – but it can happen consistently if you are committed to seeing this through and you have realistic expectations.

Secondly, create a content strategy that includes a fairly detailed editorial calendar. Two of the fatal flaws of new social media users can be solved through this one step. What are these flaws?

  1. Too much/Too little Updating: Tweeting 50 times a day is simply annoying, but creating a twitter account or Blog and never updating it next is also a sure-fire way to annoy your audience and squander a great opportunity to develop a relationship with your target market.
  2. Irrelevant/Annoying Content: No one, other than close friends and family, is terribly interested in whether you are sipping on a latte at the moment or you are off to your kid’s hockey game. Neither do your followers want to be hounded with sales material constantly. It is vital to remember that social media is meant for connection and conversation – it is a 2-way relationship with your clients/prospects so instead of talking at them,converse with them about the things that are important to them.

By mapping out the kind of content that you will be creating  prior to publication you mitigate the risk of sending out irrelevant or uninspiring messages or ceasing to use the medium at all. Depending on your time and resources you should decide how many times per week (or day) you can reasonably update your social media presence and be sure that 30% or less of your messaging is sales related. What I suggest is to make approximately a third of your communication value-add (links to interesting articles, tips, etc.), a third of your communication sales related (promoting specials, your unique value, etc.), and a third of your communication entertainment. This mix will help to keep your followers engaged and will help your social media team`s creativity.

Thirdly, you need to relieve yourself of the pressure to do everything yourself. Some simple research (ie. Google Alert or Social Mention) will uncover a variety of existing conversations that apply to your business.  You can join to gain exposure and engage with your target market on things that are important to them and gain credibility. As you practice the art of following and contributing to these online forums you will learn how to best articulate your value to the marketplace, and then easily to then transfer to your own social media presence.

The Election, Business and lessons on Social Media

 Client Communication, General, Social Media  Comments Off on The Election, Business and lessons on Social Media
Apr 282011
 

I admit that I am a bit of a political news junkie. I’ve been interested in politics  since my childhood and, while the necessity of this particular Canadian election is questionable, I still get excited when I think about exercising my right to vote.

Its been interesting to watch this campaign as political parties and politicians themselves try to overcome the reported complacent attitude of the Canadian people through a variety of methods. While the tried-and-true baby kissing and hand shaking of the past is still prevalent, the amount of action on social media networks cannot be ignored.  Whether it is tweeting their location or posting photos of rallies on their Facebook page, politicians are hoping that the current obsession with all things online will culminate in a record number of people at the polls on May 2nd.

While the results of that strategy are impossible to predict, there are ways to apply this strategy to small business.

1. Resistance to social media is futile.
Politicians have embraced the idea that the world is communicating instantly and online. When small businesses apply that truth to their own scenario the marketing possibilities are endless. 

2. Everything is Public.
The Tories were criticised for seemingly “un-friending” someone on Facebook when the friend in question posted photos of herself with the other political parties leaders on her own Facebook page.  While arguably petty, the Tories probably didn’t really think their action would be a big story until it made national headlines simply because it happened in the public domain.
The lesson for small business here is a stern reminder that what happens online doesn’t stay online. Very quickly actions in the virtual realm become as much a part of your brand and reputation as your carefully designed logo and meticulously kept office. We would never consider being careless with client care or marketing material, likewise this should apply to all social media communication. 

3. Keep it real.
Politically, the best users of social media are the ones who don’t use stock answers or rhetoric but instead connect with their followers. Likewise, a business owner who wants to harness the power of the web needs to commit to relevance and authenticity online. In other words, don’t just use social media as a way to disseminate information but also use it to listen to your clients and prospects and react to what they have to say. It’s a big undertaking – but can be very worthwhile in the end.

Finally, regardless of your political leanings (and don’t worry, I am polite and Canadian enough to keep my own views to myself) I hope that skepticism hasn’t robbed you of the joy and responsibility you have been afforded by living in a free nation – and that you have every intention of heading to the polls with me on May 2nd

In the meantime, let your voice be heard. Follow the leaders on Twitter, check out their Facebook sites, find your local MPs’ blog. If nothing else, you could get some good ideas to apply to your own business.

Making sure it matters…

 Client Communication, For Entrepreneurs, General  Comments Off on Making sure it matters…
Feb 032011
 

While having a communication plan is a vital component to client care, carrying out the plan should never trump the content of what is being distributed. How many of us have received flyers, e-newsletters, or text messages from someone we’ve done business with and found the information to be outdated, irrelevant or – worst of  all – unprofessional.

Essentially, we become instantly annoyed and either hit the delete button or find the recycle bin. Pronto.

To avoid this pitfall, consider the following 3 things when attempting any client communication:

1. Do I have something to say?
This may sound obvious, but if nothing new is going on at your company you don’t want to risk boring your clients. Don’t use this as an excuse to lose touch with them, though. Instead, you need to find something to talk about that will interest your clients and remind them of why they like doing business with you.

2. Does what I am talking about resonate with my target audience? 
Essentially, any good marketing will stir emotions. Excitement, anger, frustration – these are all good reactions to your contact if it drives your clients to call you to solve their anger or frustration. Emotions we want to avoid?  Indifference, annoyance, and fatigue. When evaluating the content of your marketing endeavour, make sure it stirs up emotions.

3. Does my communication contribute to my brand?
This is quality control. Whether it is an email, snail mail, or a phone call make sure that the piece is error free, is neat and tidy, looks professional and contributes to your brand. If it is a phone call, make sure that you don’t spend the entire time talking, but that you take the time to listen and consider your client.

While this small article from a British agency (Cubic Promote) applies to all prospecting and client materials, their 5 Checkpoints to test Your Marketing Material Value further reminds us that marketing material and client communication plans need to have content that matters to our clients.