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Karyn Wall

Karyn Wall

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

More and more small businesses are questioning if having a website would be beneficial to them, especially if they feel their products or services can’t be sold online. The answer to this is simple: Yes, if you have a business, you should have a website.

Without a doubt.

I sound so sure about it and I don't even know what your business is! Let me tell you why:

     Gone are the days of scanning the yellow pages. In this technical age, more and more people are using the internet as their main resource for locating, researching, and purchasing items. And by ‘more and more’, I mean roughly 175 million people…a number that is growing every day. And even if your company isn’t selling products online, your site can certainly market your product to potential buyers. Having a website significantly improves your customer reach, and research shows that 83% of consumers will visit your website prior to doing business with you. What message are you sending by not having one available? The point to be made here is that you should at the very least have a presence on the web so that customers, potential employees, business partners and perhaps even investors can quickly and easily find out more about your business and the products or services you have to offer.

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

Have you ever heard someone use the acronym 'K.I.S.S'? If you haven't, it stands for 'Keep It Simple, Stupid.' Although a bit rude, the meaning is obvious: Simplicity is the key to success.

     Do one thing and do it well. You wouldn't open an italian restaurant that offered quesadillas on the menu, would you? It just wouldn't make sense. You want to be known as the best italian restaurant in town, not as the home of the 'so-so' quesadilla. So keep it simple, stupid! By trying to appeal to a broader mass of people and offering items that don't really fit in with your services, you're detracting from the service you DO offer.

     Hone your 'menu'! You don't want your company to be known as a 'jack of all trades, master of none'.  

     So take the time to look at the services and products you offer to customers. Do they go together? Does it make sense for you to spend the time, money, or materials that you're spending to be able to offer all of them?

     Above all, are all of them 'your best'? If you have a 'so-so' quesadilla of your own...something you offer that really doesn't sell and when it does, has a lukewarm reception...it's time to look at taking it off your services 'menu'.  This way you can focus on what you do well and build your reputation on the back of that. Your customers will appreciate it, you'll feel more secure in your 'niche', and your bottom line will show a difference.

K.

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

Last week we talked about identifying your target market. Once you have determined your target audience and created your advertising to focus on that group, then (hopefully!) your phone will start ringing more.
 
Of course you want to turn those inquiries into actual sales, and we'll talk about that soon. But I want to discuss something else first.
 
     Do you track your leads?
 
I ask small business owners this question all the time, and they always say the same thing: 'No...?' This response is usually followed by a confused look, first by them and then by myself. I cannot tell you how many times I've had someone tell me how much they're spending on marketing efforts and how they feel they aren't getting the kind of responses they anticipated.

(Hey look! We're back to talking about those three little letters again! R.O.I. If you are not getting anything back on the money you're spending on marketing, you might as well be dropping an unaddressed envelope of cash into the corner mailbox.)

So, do you track your leads? When a new prospective customer calls, do you ask them what brought them to you?

A billboard?

Your website?

A friends' referral?
 
Every time, without fail, you must ask customers this easy question AND keep a record of what is driving them to your business. At the end of the month, look over the results and see where your new customers are really coming from. This is critical for you to recognize what advertising is working. If you're spending $500 a month on a billboard that only generates $1000 worth of business a year, it's time to consider re-appropriating those advertising dollars towards something more effective.
 
Conversely, if 70% of your leads are from referrals, consider a referral reward program to really drive keeping your phone ringing. If you ditch that billboard advertising, which at $500 a month costs you $6000 a year (less the $1000 in sales it was generating), so let's say your yearly actual cost on it is $5000. That breaks down to $416.67 a month. But you get 8 referrals a month from previous customers. You could offer each of those referring customers a $25 'thank you' for that referral, thus spending only $200 a month and pocketing the extra $216 you didn't have to spend on billboard rent.
 
How about spending the extra $216 on promoting your new referral program in hopes of starting to get 30 referrals a month instead? What a novel idea!
 
I have to be honest, and I know some of you will be shocked to learn this....but I'm a consumer myself. If I used a plumbing company that had great service and fair pricing, and I knew they would pay me $25 for every referral I sent them.....you can rest assured, I'd be their biggest word-of-mouth advertiser. And I don't want to get off topic here, but I must mention three little things about a referral program:
 
Have amazing customer service. Burning a bridge with a customer is a burning a bridge to all their potential referrals too!  The old customer service adage of  ‘make one person happy, and they’ll tell two people….make one person angry and they’ll tell ten people’ isn’t exactly true. They don’t just tell ten people anymore...they twitter it, facebook it, post it on 'Angie's List', and tell the neighbors about it at the weekend BBQ. Customer service isn’t always easy, but it’s imperative.

Unless your company has a service I will need continuously, don't give me gift certificates for your own company as a 'thank you' for the referral. I would rather have $25 I can spend anywhere than a $50 credit with my favorite friendly plumber.

Follow through. Don't tell me you'll send me a 'thank you' for the referral and then fail to do so. Refer to #1 above.


Okay, I digress. Getting back on point....

I'm not by any means saying that you should scrap all your marketing efforts and throw them into one program. Try new things! You never know what might work for your business. Be brave, but track your leads so you can make informed decisions.  Business is hard, dollars are tight, and this is a fool-proof way to find out if the marketing efforts you're making are effective. If they aren't working, at least you'll know and you can re-assess that aspect of your marketing plan and tweak it to try to make it more effective. Or squash it and use the funds to try something else.
 
I will always stress to you that wasted marketing is wasted money and wasted time. Knowing your target market and knowing what marketing efforts are getting results will save you both time and money. And from me to you, if you know 70% of your leads come from referrals and you're wasting $ 5000 a year on a billboard that quite obviously doesn't work...let's just say I'd be calling the billboard company about canceling my contract. Right now.
 
K.

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

So, you have your business going and people are constantly tossing advice at you, whether you asked for it or not. I'm about to do the same thing. (Sorry.)

In marketing your company, there are 3 little letters that you should learn to love: R.O.I.

Before you can learn to love them, you have to learn what they mean! 'ROI' stands for 'Return on Investment'. As far as marketing is concerned, it's all about what you're getting back from what you're putting in. I wish I could tell you exactly what percentage is an 'acceptable' ROI so you had an easy mark to gauge from, but what's 'acceptable' varies from business to business and industry to industry. The main thought is that you need to set objectives for your company and create your marketing plan to achieve them. So, where to start?

Step one: Identify your targets!

Most businesses will get 80% of their business from 20% of their customers.  Take the time to identify your target market and direct your advertising plan towards them.

When you're marketing your company (and let's be honest, yourself), the most important thing is to know your target market.  If you have a high-end sportscar dealership, your target market isn't soccer moms. Sponsoring your son's baseball team may not be the most effective use of your marketing efforts....or dollars...just as putting door hanger ads on every door in an apartment complex doesn't make sense if you have a home improvement company.

Ask yourself these questions when determining your target market or demographic:

     •  What is the age range and gender of the customer who wants my product or service?
     •  What is the income level of my potential customers?
     •  What is their marital or family status? Are they homeowners?
     •  Is this a product or service they need or a luxury item?
     •  How will they use this product or service?
     •  What do my customers value most? Easy availability? Low price? Personalized attention? Special features?
     •  Which, if any, special features are most appealing?
     •  What do they like or dislike about the product or service in general?
     •  Is this an impulse buy or something they are saving for?
     •  Where do they get most of their decision-making information? Do they research the Internet, newspapers,
         books, or television?

Once you can answer these questions, you can determine how to focus your advertising and marketing efforts. For instance, if your clients spend a lot of time on the Internet, perhaps your best marketing tool would be a Web page or an e-newsletter. If your clients spend a lot of time listening to talk radio, they might be reached best by an ad on the local radio station.

Keep in mind, too, that your audience might change throughout the year. For instance, if you are a hairstylist, you might see a lot more families in late summer, as kids get ready for going back to school. The holidays might bring in more women, who are looking for special styles for holiday events. And in the spring, prom time might bring teen girls excited about the big night. Focus your marketing efforts accordingly.

Keep on top of who your target audience is, and you will keep a steady flow of customers and business.

But how do you know what marketing is working for you and what isn't?

The answer is easy and doesn't cost you a dime...and we'll talk about it next week.  :)

K.

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