The Importance of Setting Goals

July 13, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

ideas y conceptosGoal setting is important for a successful and growing business. Goals are a conscious decision you and your company make to help you clearly define and understand where you are and where you want to be. Setting goals gives you and your staff a defined purpose and a road-map to get there. Let’s talk about some of the key things to consider when setting goals.

Figure Out Where You are First

Before you can set any goals, you need to know where you’re starting. So take some time to evaluate where you and your business are currently. It’s important to do this evaluation first so that you have a solid framework on which to build your new goals. So sit down with your business plan, take a look at what you’re doing currently, write it all down, and evaluate the parts that are measurable.

Then Create a Plan

Once you have figured out where you are now is the time to decide where you would like to be and to put together a plan for achieving your goals.

Goals should be S.M.A.R.T.

Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive

Let’s talk about each of those pieces:

  • Specific: You want to make sure you are very specific in your goal setting, because that will make it much easier to create a plan for achieving your goal.
  • Measurable: You want to make sure that you have built in some measurability, in order to be able to evaluate your progress. Take some time to consider how you will evaluate that progress.
  • Attainable: You want the goal to be challenging, but also achievable within the time frame you set.
  • Realistic: Make sure you are being realistic in your goal setting. A goal of 35 new sales per month is far more realistic than one of 3500 new sales per month. These are goals, not wishes.
  • Time-Sensitive: Goals have a time-frame put around them. A start date and an end date. Making a goal time-sensitive helps provide focus and drive. It also makes it much easier to measure your progress.

Focus on One Key Goal at A Time

Focusing on one key goal at a time can help you from spreading yourself too thin or getting distracted by other goals or activities. So pick one long-term goal at a time, supported by smaller short-term goals along the way. This will help sharpen your focus and make it easier to allocate your resources.

Schedule Time in Your Plan for Regular Evaluation

Take some time periodically to re-evaluate both your goals and how successful you’ve been at achieving them. Do they need to shift due to changes in the marketplace or your business model? If so, these evaluations are the perfect time to make any minor changes to redirect your efforts.

Goals should be part of your overall business plan and they should be something you are focusing on, evaluating, and refining on a regular basis. By taking the time to properly evaluate where you currently are and putting together a plan to get you to where you want to be down the road, you’re providing the focus and drive needed for stable, scalable business growth.

The Benefits of a Healthy Marketing Plan

June 30, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Marketing and strategyWant to have a healthy, flourishing business? Then you need to have a solid marketing plan in place. A solid plan brings clarity to your business practices, allows you to define your marketing strategy and goals for the year, and details how you plan to implement those strategies. Here are a few key benefits of having a healthy marketing plan in place.

A Marketing Plan gets everyone on the same page.

Having a detailed marketing plan that can be referred to means that everyone is on the same page and knows what the ultimate goals and daily practices are. It means that you can focus your resources and that everyone is working towards a common goal rather than off doing their own things. Having everyone on the same page helps to streamline your business practices and operate more efficiently. It also means that even when people come and go in your business, you’re not losing knowledge or focus.

It allows your business to be proactive and aligned with your vision & goals.

Having a detailed plan in place with strategies for how and where you will focus your energies allows your business to be calm and proactive when unexpected things come your way. Rather than being reactive, the plan makes it easy to determine what steps to take to keep your business on track. So you’ll spend less time worrying about how to react to new things and be able to focus your time and energy on reaching your goals.

A plan makes it easy to evaluate new opportunities.

Do those new opportunities support the overall marketing goals and plan you already have in place? If so, then maybe they’re worth considering. If not, then it’s easy to walk away knowing you’ve made the right decision for your overall needs and goals. The plan makes it easy to take a look at these new opportunities and decide quickly what to do.

Having a plan means that your goals are measurable.

A marketing plan means that you have a framework within which to measure your progress. You can take what you have accomplished by a specific milestone and see if it matches up with what you laid out in your plan. This also provides you with the opportunity to re-evaluate and potentially refine or rewrite part of your plan.
By taking the time to evaluate your business strategies, and lay out a healthy marketing plan, you’re setting your business up for success.

Focus On Your Customers

June 10, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Instilling calmYour customers are the most important part of your business. Without them, you wouldn’t be there. Understanding what they want is key to creating and growing a healthy business. And happy repeat customers spend on average 30% more than new clients and are more likely to refer new business to you. So make sure that a key part of your business plan and day to day operations is focused on building relationships with your existing customers. Here are some key areas to consider when focusing on your customers.

Communication is Key

Your customers are interacting with you and your business every day, both in person and online. Make sure you spend some time getting to know them and that every interaction with your business is a positive one. Communicate with them when and where they want, whether it’s a quick tweet or a more detailed newsletter. Consider segmenting your email list in order to customize the communications they receive. Ask them how you’re doing and what they would like to see in the future. And then, act on their feedback.

Be responsive

We want to feel like someone is listening and that our opinions and ideas have value. So take the time to listen to your customers and to be responsive when they reach out to you with a question or problem. Sometimes the perfect solution to a problem or challenge you are having in your business will come from one of your regular customers. If a customer reaches out to you make sure you respond to them in a timely manner. And if a customer has a complaint, make sure you handle it quickly and efficiently. An upset customer who has been turned into a satisfied one is one of your greatest assets.

Reward them for their loyalty

Loyal and happy customers are your greatest resource for generating revenue and also for referring new business to you. So implement a plan to reward them for their loyalty. Whether it is a rewards program that provides incentives for their continued business or a referral program that rewards them for sending friends and family your way, having some sort of loyalty system in place will make your customers feel valued.
Your customers are key to the health and growth of your business. So make sure that a focus on them is one of the foundations of your business. Make them feel like part of the family with every interaction and they’ll remain loyal customers for years to come.

Why You Should Segment Your Email List

June 3, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

creative design business as pencil lightbulb 3d as business desiYour customers are not all the same. They have different buying habits, different service preferences, and even different ideas on where and when they want to hear from you. Communicating with your customers based on their preferences allows you to deliver a much more personal message tailored just for them. It can lead to higher open rates on email communications. And when your clients feel like they are getting individual attention and service, it can also lead to increased sales and higher engagement levels. And this is where segmentation comes in. Segmentation is the division of your overall customer list into distinct smaller groups.

What are some benefits of segmenting your email marketing list?

Segmentation allows you to target your message.

Your customers want to feel like you are speaking directly to them about things they find interesting and relevant. Segmenting your email list allows you to be more focused in your messages, and send messages your customers are interested in reading.

Segmentation is a great way to increase sale.

Segmenting your email list means that you’re only sending your customers offers and information that they are truly interested in, but that those customers are more likely to click through and make a purchase. By creating a higher level of engagement, you are generating an increased level of interaction and higher overall sales for no larger investment than regular email marketing.

Segmentation allows you to track your sales.

By segmenting your list and targeting your clients based on their preferences and habits, you will be better able to closely track where your sales come from. By customizing offers and providing unique codes for each group you email, you’ll be able to go back and take a look at what sorts of offers are the most successful and where the bulk of your sales are coming from.

Segmentation allows you to more effectively reward your clients.

You want to reward your clients for supporting your business. But you don’t want to reward them all in the same way. Segmentation allows you to customize your rewards program to match different groups of your client base and their wants and needs.

But how should you segment?

There are several different segments to think about when creating your marketing lists. Consider some of the following groups.

  • Buyer Behavior – group your clients based on what they services they typically purchase from your company.
  • Last Interaction – group your clients based on their last interaction with your company, including what previous service they had, or what social or email platform they last used.
  • Influence Levels – VIP clients or those who have influence in your market.

Once you’ve figured out how you want to segment your list, you can do the segmentation in several different ways. To streamline the process, capture the information you need to segment your list during the email signup process. For groups where you want full control over who gets assigned, make that part of the segmentation process a manual one that takes place behind the scenes. Then you can easily assign clients to the appropriate lists based on their profile.

Your customers aren’t all the same. So make sure your marketing isn’t either. Segmentation allows you to customize your marketing and provides you with valuable tools for evaluating what is working and what you should change moving forward. It’s an effective tool for growing your business and keeping your customers engaged and satisfied.

3 Keys to Build a Strong Online Community

May 19, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Last time, we talked about mistakes you might be making in your online communities. Today, the discussion continues with tips on building a stronger online community.

Data Research BackgroundMost of us are good at building a community. We have groups of family and friends who we interact with on a regular basis, spend time with, and gather together for celebrations and other events. We have strong relationships within our real life communities and they create a space for us to live and grow authentic lives. A strong online community can create the same thing for your brand and your business.

But how do you build a strong community online? We all know that establishing and building relationships with our clients is the best way to strengthen and grow our business. We just don’t always know the best way to go about it.

Here are three keys to building a healthy online community.

Be Consistent

People thrive on consistency. If they’re going to follow you on social media, or read your blog, then give them something to follow and something to read. Post regularly rather than sporadically. Posting consistently creates anticipation and allows your followers to make you part of their regular routine. So create a posting schedule and then stick to it.

Provide Valuable Content

You’ve gotten people to follow you online. That’s the easy part. The hard part is keeping them interested and engaged. Providing good content that is valuable to them is the key to keeping them interested. You also want to make sure the content is relevant to your brand, whether it is an “Ask the Expert” series or sharing content that is interesting for your readers and has a tie-in to your field. Also, keep in mind that valuable content does not include sales pitches or ads for promotions. You are asking your followers to make you part of their routine. Making sure you provide content that is valuable and relevant is key to getting and keeping your online community happy.

Listen to Your Community

Not sure what to post or whether your posts are effective? Listen to your community. Ask them what they’d like to see or where they want the conversation to go. Take a look at engagement rates and things like click thru rates, shares, likes, and comments. They’ll tell you what is working and what is not working. By listening to your community and allowing them to drive discussions online, you’ll have a much better idea of what new services you need to consider offering, or what direction you should be taking your business offline.

The important thing in building a community is the interaction between you and your followers. Interaction is key, because otherwise you just have an audience whom you are speaking to rather than a community you are communicating with. By taking the time and effort to focus on building those relationships online, you’ll start to see positive results in business growth overall.

4 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Social Media Community

May 12, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

47351-You’ve done what you’re supposed to do. You have accounts on Facebook and Twitter. But having a social media presence is not the same as building a healthy social media community. Here are some mistakes you’re probably making, and how to turn them around.

Assuming that just having an account is enough

You’ve set up a Facebook page and you have a Twitter feed. There are links to them on your website. But that’s not enough. You need to post regularly, engage your followers, and make it a valuable experience. Nobody is going to want to follow you if you never post anything or, even worse, only post sales and promotions. Building an online community requires time and effort, and people who understand how to create interaction and foster the right kinds of conversations. Everyone has a Facebook page these days. You need to create a more valuable experience for your followers.

Valuing follower numbers over engagement numbers

Many of us assume that large, or growing, follower numbers are an indication of positive growth. But it doesn’t really matter how many followers you have if none of them are interacting. Engagement numbers are a much more powerful indicator of how successful your social media strategy is. Instead of paying attention to how many followers you’ve gained this week, dig a bit deeper and determine how many engagements (click thru rates, likes, shares, or comments) you’re receiving. That is a much truer indicator of how successful and effective your social media community is.

Not engaging with your followers

You are building an online community, and that means that you need to create and foster conversations on your social media feeds. So post regularly. Provide valuable information. Create conversations. And then continue to participate in them. If a follower posts a comment or engages with one of your posts, respond to them. A community means that everyone participates in an ongoing conversation. So don’t just post and run. Nobody wants to feel deserted or like their opinion is not valued.

Treating your social media as a sales channel

Your online community should be just that – a community. Nobody wants to follow a page that is just one long string of ads and promotions. Can you post information about sales or promotions? Of course! But it should not be the primary focus of your social media content. Focus on fostering community and providing valuable information and you’ll see your sales improve all on their own.

Studies show that one of the top things consumers are doing on their mobile devices is engaging in social media. It’s one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. Make sure you’re doing it right and you’ll see it pay off in increased sales and business growth.

Next time, we’ll continue the discussion with tips on building an even stronger online community.

Creating Customers For Life

April 28, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Embracing calmnessWe all work very hard to bring customers in the doors. But did you know that bringing in new customers costs 5-10% more than retaining the customers you already have? It is definitely worth your time and effort to keep your existing customers happy.

By building on the relationship you have already established with them, you can turn these customers into lifelong customers who will continue to come back to you again and again over the years.

Here are three key things to do when creating customers for life.

Provide stellar customer service

From consistency and quality in the services & products you provide to the attention and service your staff provides to them, every single contact your customers have with your company should be a positive one. So make customer service a top priority with your staff and follow through to make sure that your clients are happy with what they are receiving.

Show your appreciation

Show your customers how much their loyalty means to you and your business. You can do this in lots of different ways, but the two most effective are a simple thank you message (not one tied into a promotion) and a well designed loyalty program that rewards them for doing business with you. Need ideas on setting up a loyalty program? Check out our blog post from last year: Ready to Setup a Rewards Program

Give your customers what they want

Whenever you aren’t sure whether what you’re doing is working or if you should change or do something differently, the best people to ask are your customers.  So go out and get feedback from them. Ask them what they want. Find out from them what you could be doing better or what they think you should change. Really listen to them. Then follow their advice. Make the necessary changes to match their needs and they’ll continue to bring you their business. Never underestimate the value of making someone feel valued.

Creating customers for life is one of the more powerful business strategies you can utilize. Loyal customers positively impact your bottom line in many different ways. They visit you more regularly and spend more money per visit than new customers. And they recommend you to their friends and family, helping you grow your business even more. In every way, loyal customers are more valuable to gain and to keep.

Mobile Marketing Trends In The Spotlight

April 15, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Doing business the modern wayIt seems like these days, everyone is out and about all the time and we are accessing more and more of our information while we’re on the go. Here are a few mobile trends that are important for your business.

Responsive Websites that are optimized for mobile are king

Mobile search is expected to surpass desktop search this year. What does that mean? It means that more people are doing everything online via their phone or tablet rather than their desktop. Mobile interactions could very well be the only interactions you have with your customers (& potential customers). This is becoming so important that Google introduced a new label in its search results, indicating if a site is mobile friendly, meaning it looks good & works well on a mobile device. So you want to make sure your website is responsive and optimized for mobile. An optimized, responsive website could mean the difference between a potential customer finding you on their cell phone, or not.

Location Based Marketing (Geo-targeting) is growing

With so many consumers using their mobiles phones while they’re on the go, Local search is going to continue to grow. Local search allows consumers to search for specific businesses or promotions based on their current location. So, if you and your mobile device are near Central Park in New York City, it will show you businesses and promotions in that area close to you. What does this mean for your business? It means that it is now more important than ever to claim your listings on places such as Google and to make sure that places such as Yelp and Google Maps have your correct address listing and are showing the correct business location on their maps.

Localized Payments are the future

With the rise of mobile comes the rise of localized payments, such as Google Wallet and Apple Pay. The market has already shown that people prefer to make the bulk of their purchases online, quite frequently using their mobile devices. Apple Pay could very well succeed where Google Pay wavered, with the bulk of Apple users already storing their credit card information in their iTunes account, and accustomed to quickly and seamlessly purchasing things without having to reenter that information every time. This year will see a rise in consumers who want to use localized payments to pay for things in store as well, such as using their Apple Pay account to pay for services at your business location. It’s definitely a trend to keep an eye on.

With the rise in mobile usage, and the importance of being able to reach your customers while they are on the go, it’s more important than ever to stay on the cutting edge of technology. These are just a few of the important mobile trends that will continue to grow and impact your business moving forward.