The Balance of Communication

October 29, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Group of Multiethnic People Discussing About MarketingCommunication is at the heart of your business, and email marketing and social media are the best ways to communicate with your customers. They each offer effective ways of connecting with your customers when and where they want to hear from you. But, in marketing and communication, balance is key. Your customers don’t want to feel like they’re just one among many. And you don’t have time to create individualized communications all the time. So striking a balance between automated communications and those with a more personal touch is key to a successful marketing strategy.

Here are a few things to think about when designing a communication and marketing strategy:

Segment Your List

One of the most effective ways to make your email communications more personal is to segment your client list into smaller sub-categories. Instead of taking a “One size fits all” approach, create smaller subgroups and then tailor specific email campaigns to each specific group. You can do this in many different ways. Segment your list into groups such as VIP clients or those clients only interested in a specific group of services (such as facials or massage). You now have the flexibility to tailor your email communications to directly address the interests and needs of each group. These more targeted emails give your clients the feeling that you are speaking directly to them about things they have an interest in. And that helps establish and support the feeling of a relationship with your business.

Initiate Online Conversations

Technology has made it possible for you to interact with your clients online. So don’t use social media just to talk at your clients. Use it as a forum to start conversations with them. Ask them questions, look for feedback, and then be responsive to their replies. By using social media as a way to socially interact with your clients, you’re establishing a relationship with them that feels more real than an automated email. And that can lead to more loyal customers who spend more money.

Don’t Forget the Importance of Face to Face

In this day and age, it’s so easy to communicate with everyone online and never even think about interacting in person. But your business is built on face to face interactions. So don’t neglect the opportunities you have to connect with your clients in person. Creating good in-person interactions should be a key part of your marketing strategy. It’s the perfect time to build a relationship, get to know your clients, and really talk with them about their expectations and needs.

Striking the right balance between automated and personal communications can be a real challenge. But figuring out the right time and way to communicate with your clients will help streamline the planning of your marketing calendar. It will also translate into growth in your business.

The Holidays Are Coming – Are You Ready

October 16, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

81912-The holidays don’t really start for another month or so. It feels like you still have plenty of time to plan them out and get ready. But the reality is that they will be here before you know it and now is the time to put your plan together. Here are three steps to take today to get ready for the holiday season.

Think about your holiday packages
The time to start putting together your packages for the holidays is not the day before Thanksgiving. It’s now! The perfect holiday packages offer good value and services that are attractive to the customer while also not putting your bottom line into the red. Take some time to look at what has been popular with your customers this year, as well as what sold well during the holiday season last year. Then put together packages that your clients will love and get them loaded and ready to go.

Plan out your holiday campaigns
Once you have your packages and specials created, it’s time to start planning out your holiday campaigns. Think about how to keep your clients engaged during the season, both through social media and email. Then put together your holiday promotions and get them scheduled to go out. Taking the time now to plan out and write your promotions means they’ll be better written and more engaging than if you wait until the last minute.

Consider your staffing needs
Demand for services tends to rise during the holiday season and into the new year. Your regular clients are coming in more frequently to get ready for holiday celebrations and demand is also going up due to higher gift certificate sales. So take some time to think about what your staffing needs will be like. Do you need to schedule more people or extend your hours on certain days to meet the increased demand for services? Does your staff need additional training in order to deliver the most popular services on a larger scale? Taking a look at last years numbers and then making some time now to work out what your holiday schedule will look like will make the holidays run much more smoothly.

The holidays will be here before you know it. Taking the time now to put together your packages and plan out your promotions will have you ahead of the game and give you a jump on the competition. And that translates into better sales, happier customers, and a smooth and easy holiday season for you.

The Value of Timing

September 18, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink say timing is everything. Knowing when to connect with your clients is as important as how you connect with them. The timing of your marketing campaigns is one of the most important components of your strategic marketing plan.

But how do you effectively reach out and connect with your customer base at the right time to generate a sale? Here are some key things to consider when creating your marketing campaigns.

Plan Ahead

As business owners, we all know our annual financial trends. We can forecast the times in a year when we’ll have the greatest sales and the times when things will be a bit slow. So take some time to map out what your year typically looks like, and then plan your customer communications to capitalize on these trends. For instance, if you know that the bulk of your sales will occur before big holidays (such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas), then plan your marketing accordingly. Make sure you’re laying the groundwork with your clients well before those holidays with email communications to help them “get ready” for the holidays. Plant the seed that you are the perfect gift solution for them and then carry that regular communication on through to the holiday.

On the other hand, if you know that a slower time of the year is approaching, now might be a good time to create some packages or specials. Capitalize on current events or occasions that are happening in your clients’ lives. By planning ahead you’ll be able to maintain a relationship, and the associated revenue, even during the slower times of the year.

Meet Customer Needs

Your customers have changing needs throughout the year. Make sure you are anticipating them and offering solutions. It could be something as simple as knowing they sent a birthday gift certificate to someone at this time last year and sending them a reminder that the date is coming up again. It could be a follow up email offer sent at a set time following a treatment or service they booked. Showing your customers that you understand and anticipate their needs (before they even think about them) can lead to a stronger relationship.

Be consistent with trends

In this business, trends are important. Whether it’s the latest hair and makeup trends or a new skin or body treatment, a lot of our business is driven by new offerings in the market. So make sure your offerings and communications stay consistent with trends. It could be something as simple as a blog post or email newsletter explaining a new treatment and why it is beneficial, or offering mini-treatments that change quarterly and are an opportunity for you and your customers to try out new treatments and trends. By its very definition, a trend is something current or currently in style. Building flexibility into your marketing strategy to act on emerging trends will allow you to capitalize on these opportunities.

Paying more attention to timing in your marketing strategy can be a game changer. It allows you to drive business in your market. It makes your customers feel like you understand them and their needs. It’s another important piece in establishing and building a strong relationship with your clients and your community.

3 Content Marketing Mistakes You’re Probably Making

July 28, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

creative design business as pencil lightbulb 3d as business desiYou probably spend a good bit of time and effort creating content for your marketing needs, from in store displays to content on your website or social media. But have you really taken the time to analyze your audience and the content they want, or to pay attention to whether or not your current content is even working well? Here are three content marketing mistakes you’re probably making now.

Producing content for the sake of having content

You need to have a plan for your marketing and content and then you need to stick to it. Creating campaigns or content just because you feel like you need more content does you no good. Focus on creating a marketing strategy and then don’t produce content unless it aligns with your strategy.

Not tracking or analyzing your campaigns

If you never take any time to analyze your campaigns, how will you even know if they are working? Measure campaigns based on the goals of your marketing plan. Are you trying to increase sales, grow your client base, or increase engagement? If you don’t know what you want to measure, then you won’t be able to measure it, or to create the right type of content to drive the desired behavior. Decide what your goal is and then pay attention to how you’re doing.

Not knowing your audience

You have to take the time to identify and understand your audience in order to create content that will grab their attention. Once you know your target audience, you’ll be better able to create content that drives your marketing goals. So spend a bit of time testing different formats, study your analytics to see which ones work best, and even ask your existing clients how they would prefer to hear from you. Then create content that meets your clients’ needs.

By taking the time to analyze both your audience and your content, you could be producing much more effective content. Effective content marketing is what will set you up as an industry leader and help you grow your business.

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.