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 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.

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.

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.

The Importance of Staff Training

April 1, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Portrait of business colleagues holding each other and laughingFew things are more important for the strength and growth of your business than your employees. And devoting time and resources to their professional development is one of the most productive investments a business can make. Unfortunately, we often get so bogged down in the day-to-day running of our businesses and staff training takes a backseat. But staff development just makes good business sense and here’s why.

It increases job satisfaction, which increases productivity.

Staff development and training makes employees feel valued. It shows that you have an interest in their future and in helping them grow within your company. It makes them better equipped to do their jobs and to move into new roles. Studies have shown that happier employees who feel valued by their employer are more productive overall.

It increases loyalty.

Employees who feel valued and like the company is invested in their professional growth are more loyal and less likely to leave for other outside opportunities. That means you can spend more money and attention on improving your business and less on training new hires.

It can save you money.

Staff training is the best possible way for your employees to learn their jobs and develop skills to do them more effectively. Having a professional development program in place can help streamline the training process and, over time it can save you money. Employee retention can also help you save money, as you have to spend less time, money, and effort hiring new staff.

It helps create and foster best practices.

By creating processes and training everyone, you are creating best business practices. Ongoing training helps you to refine and maintain these best business practices. These practices will not only make your staff better at doing their jobs but will also help you streamline your business and set you up for healthy growth.

By taking an interest in your staff and putting programs into place to help them grow professionally, you’re making a huge investment in your business. And it doesn’t even have to be costly or time-consuming. It is as easy as taking an interest in your staff and taking the time to discuss their future goals with them. From there, you can develop the type of training system that will work best for your business and your employees. And that’s a win-win situation.

Why is Content Marketing So Important?

March 17, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Group of Multiethnic People Discussing About MarketingEveryone is talking about content marketing these days, and telling you that you should be doing it better and more often. But what is content marketing and why is it so important anyway?

Content marketing is the creation and sharing of valuable content (or media) that is relevant to your target audience in order to attract and keep customers. It could be anything from a blog post on your website to an infographic hanging in your waiting room; or anything from a video demonstrating a popular technique to a Pinterest board you maintain with useful photos/links/information for your clients. The key is that it needs to be valuable to your clients and relevant for their lives and your business’ expertise.

Okay, so now we know what content marketing is. But why is it so important to your business?

Well, you want to be a resource for your clients and potential clients. Providing your readers and followers with valuable content is a great way to establish a relationship with them and set your brand up as an expert resource to look to when they have questions. It allows you to communicate with your clients without always trying to sell something to them.

Benefits of Content Marketing

  1. Content marketing is a great way to build your brand and voice. In order to build your brand and your voice you need to communicate with your clients. Content marketing allows you to establish a relationship with your clients and allow them to get to know your brand and your voice.
  1. Content marketing sets your brand up as an expert resource. By providing content to your readers that is relevant and valuable to them you are setting your brand and business up as an expert resource. Done well, this will eventually mean that people will seek out your brand when they need information or guidance because they trust your brand. It is a great way to build a relationship with both current and future clients.
  1. Content marketing allows you to communicate with your clients outside of selling services to them. You don’t want all of your communications and interactions with clients to be about selling them something. Content marketing allows you to interact with people and establish a relationship with them by sharing information that they find useful. Once you’ve established a relationship with them, they are much more likely to come to you when they’re looking to purchase a service.

 Types of Content to Create & Share

Content needs to be valuable and relevant to your clients. It needs to be something they find useful, interesting, or relevant to things going on in their lives. It should set your brand up as an expert resource for them to turn to. And it should not be selling anything. If you can create content that meets these criteria, then you will be very effective at growing your brand through content marketing.

Content marketing should not just be an afterthought of your marketing strategy. It should be the most important component of your marketing strategy, and should touch all other aspects of your strategy, from social media and blog posting to marketing and promotions. Done well, it is the most effective means to grow your business.

What the Net Neutrality Ruling Means for You

February 27, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

binary dataOn Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to implement a new net neutrality policy designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all legal content equally.

The policy, called the Open Internet Order, requires internet service providers to act as neutral gateways rather than a gatekeeper who handle access to different types of internet content in different ways or, more importantly, at different costs.

What does this mean for the small business owner?

It means you will be ensured equal access. The new regulations will ensure that all information you want to access on the internet (from webpages to audio, video, and other formats) will be treated equally by internet service providers. Internet service providers (ISPs) will not be able to discriminate against content by blocking it or slowing down its delivery through slower transmission feeds while charging for faster lanes of their internet network.

That means that your small business has as much access to the internet as a huge corporation. It means that your customers (& potential customers) will be able to locate and visit your website and that the site will load for them as quickly and easily as it does today.

The new policy bans three key things that help protect both consumers and you as a small business owner.

  • No blocking – Broadband providers cannot block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No throttling – Broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Paid Prioritization – Broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration — in other words, no ‘fast lanes.’ This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing the content and services of their affiliates.

So what happens next?

The new policy will go into effect in 60 days. Several ISPs have threatened litigation over the new policy, and there is also a movement in Congress to make net neutrality part of an updated version of the Telecommunications Act. That legislation would ban paid prioritization but would stop short of treating broadband like a utility.

Once again, as small business owners, all of us need to speak up and become part of the conversation.