Email Marketing

Email Marketing: 7 Ways to Build Relationships and Get More Customers

With the so much emphasis on social media, many believe digital newsletters and email marketing are less valuable as a marketing tool. I disagree.

When done properly, email marketing can complement other online and traditional marketing tactics. Most email platforms offer options for automation, landing pages, integration with e-commerce and list segmentation. So it’s an effective and affordable way to generate new business and keep current customers engaged and buying more.

Whether you want to stay connected with customers, build your reputation as an expert or generate leads and sales for your business, success (a.k.a. results) with email marketing is in your reach. Here are a few things to consider, so you get results.

How to Get More From Email Marketing

Build a permission-based list. Customers and prospects that choose to receive your emails are a goldmine for small businesses. Make it easy for people to sign-up by including a ‘join our mailing list’ option on your website, blog, email signature, etc. Invite people you meet at events to join. Invite customers who visit your location to join. Make building your list a priority.

Deliver what you promise. People sign up based on what you communicate: the value and the frequency.  If you promise tips and articles, include them. If you commit to specials or savings, offer them. If you promise something free, make it easy to get it. If they expect something monthly or weekly, be consistent. And remember, more is not always better. Set the expectations and deliver what you promise. Otherwise, people will unsubscribe or not open your emails.

If you use email marketing for multiple purposes, allow people to choose what they wish to receive. Most email marketing platforms allow for options or subscriber preferences. For example, a reader may sign up for your monthly newsletter only, everything you send or something in between. They have control and you have readers who want what you send.

Start with a compelling ‘subject’ line AND headline. You need both. The subject line get’s it opened, the headline get’s it read. Too often, the subject line is almost an afterthought. Give it the same attention you give a headline – make it compelling and recognizable. One way to do this is to include your company name such as ’10 Tips for Better Living from Company XYZ’ or ‘Upcoming Events from John Smith’. If you do a monthly newsletter, give it a name and include it in the subject line each month. The headline in your email is a key to getting people to read it and works the same as other print advertising. Make it benefit focused – what’s in it for them or why should they read more?

Stay True to Your Audience. Be clear on your target and always write with them in mind. Since most email marketing lists begin with customers, you should have a good idea of who they are, what challenges they face, what they like and dislike and why your products and services are the best choices.

As your list grows, you may have less intimate knowledge about your audience. That’s okay because you can assume they are looking for the same value and information. Why else would they sign up? So stay true to your target and you’ll enjoy greater success with your email marketing.

Make Content Count. If you are writing promotional copy, keep it concise and make sure your message – value/benefits, offer, and call to action – is clear and understood. Bullet points and sub-headlines work well. Write copy in the present tense, not passive voice. Avoid weak words like can, may, and maybe since they dilute your message.

If you write newsletters, make sure the topics are relevant and timely for your audience. Select topics that tie-in with what is happening in the news, in their lives or in their business – at this time. Include links to your website, blog, special offers, or other resources – to create additional traffic.

Encourage sharing. Ask readers to share directly or via social media. It’s a easy way to get your message to others, grow your list and generate additional leads.

Include Customer Quotes. Adding a brief but compelling customer quote creates a third-party endorsement and added credibility to your email marketing. Make the customer ‘real’ to your readers by including the customer’s name, city, company (if applicable) or even a picture. If you have testimonials on your website or online reviews, include a link and invite your audience to check them out.

It’s Measurable & Actionable

Email marketing is highly targeted, low-cost and measurable. Most programs include reports to show you how many subscribers opened, clicked on links to your website or other URLs, and bounces.

But here’s the best part. You can get a list of WHO opened and then clicked through to learn more. It’s actionable. You can follow-up or send additional information to create more sales opportunities.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

delegate effectively

How to Delegate Effectively

Delegation does not come naturally to most people, but it is a critical business skill that you can develop. When you learn how to delegate effectively, you’ll be less stressed, make better use of your time and skills, help develop your people and substantially increase the amount of work you and your team produce.

If delegation is so important to business success, why do people avoid it? Some owners believe they can do it better themselves. Others may not have the right people for the tasks they wish to delegate. But most often people avoid delegating because it takes time and effort to do it right.

Those with children can certainly relate to this concept. It’s easier to tie a child’s shoe laces than teach him/her to tie them. But once taught, your child feels empowered and you save time!

3 Keys to Delegate Effectively

Choose the right tasks

Not all tasks should be delegated. As a business owner, there are things that you should do or spearhead. Tasks that are critical to your long-term success need your attention. Recruiting and hiring, developing team members, strategic planning or initiatives, and confidential information come to mind.

What tasks should you delegate? If you are uncertain, take a week or two to write down every task, big and small, you perform each day. You may also come up with some tasks that should be done, but are not because you don’t have the time. Add these to the list as well. Use the list to identify tasks or projects you can and should delegate.

As you go through each task on the list, here are a few things to consider:  

  • Is it a recurring task – one that you do again and again? Delegating these can free up time now and in the future?
  • Does this task have short deadlines or turnaround times? Avoid delegating things at the last minute. These tasks may need to be delegated in the future – when you have time to do it right.
  • Can this task provide a way to help develop a skill for one of your team members? Think empowerment.
  • Is this a task critical to your company’s long-term success?  If so, you may delegate portions of the work but still maintain overall accountability.

Choose the right people

If you have people on staff with extra time and needed skills or expertise, it certainly makes delegation easier. Plus, it’s a great way to get them more engaged, help them use and develop other skills and bring a higher level of purpose to their job.

But don’t let your current situation stop you from delegating. Consider part-time help or outsourcing. My clients have effectively used all three options to help them shift work to others and focus on the right stuff – a key to revenue and profit growth.

Now it’s time to match the tasks with the right people. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Is there someone who has the skills, knowledge or expertise to do the task with appropriate direction and training from you?
  • Is there someone who has the desire to grow in your company? Some employees love to take on new responsibilities – others don’t. Understanding your staff and their long-term goals are key; but remember to match tasks with skills so it’s a win-win.
  • Is there someone who has time to take on more work? Sometimes the best person for the task is simply too busy to take on more work. Why not consider reshuffling responsibilities among the rest of the team. Take some of the ideal employee’s work and distribute it to others — with training of course!

If you have the right people already, you’ve overcome a big hurdle with delegation. Just remember, YOU must be willing and able to dedicate the time and resources to help them succeed. In addition, be patient with your team. It will likely take them longer to do new tasks or projects – they are learning. But with your help, they will become competent and efficient.

Delegate the right way

Effective delegation requires a combination of instruction, coaching, answering ongoing questions, and follow-up. You are transferring knowledge to someone else to help them develop new skills and capabilities. It takes time and patience to be the leader and teacher your team needs.

 Here are some suggestions to help you delegate successfully to others:

  • Explain clearly what needs to be done – and the desired outcomes or results. Avoid the simple handoff with a “Can you take care of this” comment. It will leave you and the employee frustrated.
  • Discuss expectations relating to initiative and feedback. Let the person know whether to wait for your instructions or make recommendations and decisions. Use discretion based on the task and individual. You can always expand authority as the employee develops.  
  • Provide adequate support and be available to answer questions along the way. This is important so don’t ignore it.
  • Focus on results, not how it is done. If you have ideas or systems, share them where appropriate. But, encourage or empower the person to control the process.  He/she may find better ways to do things.
  • Discuss and agree upon timelines, deadlines, and checkpoints along the way (milestones). If appropriate, pre-schedule progress update conversations.
  • Review work submitted, provide timely feedback and adjust as needed. Your people need feedback to develop so don’t make them wait for weeks or longer.
  • Build motivation and commitment. Help the employee understand why the tasks/projects are important. Connect what they are doing to the success of the business. Provide recognition and rewards when deserved – and consequences, if appropriate.

Finally, avoid “upward delegation” or shifting of decisions or tasks back to you. The employee may encounter a problem or have questions. When they do, don’t jump in or simply provide an answer. Instead, use this as a learning opportunity. Ask for their recommendation – how would they handle it? Help them become a problem solver.

Avoid micromanagement. Effective delegation requires a balance between giving the employee space to shine while monitoring enough to ensure the job is done effectively. Don’t micromanage but do follow-up. Remember, you as the owner or manager are ultimately accountable.

Delegation is a time management strategy that you must practice to master. But when you learn to delegate effectively you will be pleased with the results – more time for you and a more empowered, satisfied team.

More Ways to Grow Your Business

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

Refocus-Achieve Your Goals

Get Refocused to Achieve Your Goals

The summer is the perfect time for business owners to re-energize and refocus. We are more than halfway through the year. Many businesses see a slowdown. More family fun. So why not take some time to assess where you are and make the adjustments you need to achieve your goals and finish the year strong.

While you may instinctively know some of the shortfalls, take a look at all areas of the business. Consider both results and actions taken (or not taken) – because the doing part really matters.

Need help? My Business Success Checklist is a great tool to help you discover some of the hidden opportunities. Click here to download.

5 Question Mid-Year Health Check

#1 – Is revenue (sales) up, down or flat?  What are you doing to get new business or help generate sales from existing customers? Do you have at least 3-4 proven methods to grow sales – and are you doing them consistently each week or month so you achieve your goals?

#2 – Are gross profit margins from products or services consistently high or trending up? Review pricing, costs and value. What changes, if any, are needed?

#3 – Is your business operating efficiently AND effectively? Are customers happy based on reviews, feedback or complaints? Is work done right the first time, every time? Is continuous improvement a priority for you and your team?

#4 – Do you have the right people – employees, contractors, vendors and strategic partners – to support your business? Are there clear goals and expectations? Do you have backups or ready replacements for all key people and/or suppliers? Can your business run without your daily involvement – or is everything dependent on you?

#5 – Is profit sustainable and cash flow positive? Is net profit higher than last year at this time? Is your debt similar or lower than last year – and being managed properly? Do you review financial reports, understand them and use the information to help you make decisions? Do you re-allocate resources (time and money) when opportunities arise – or miss out on them?

After you identify the gaps or opportunities, re-set your priorities. In other words, list the actual tasks or activities you need to do to achieve your goals and finish the year strong. Results come from taking action – so start implementing!

Still operating without a clear road map for success? It’s never too late to get started. My Ultimate Guide to Action Planning makes it easy. Download it today.

More Profit Building Ideas for Your Small Business

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

Emp Orientation Welcome Aboard

How New Hire Orientation Creates Productive Employees

The search is over. After what seems like an eternity, you found the perfect candidate to join your team. He or she accepted your job offer and starts in two weeks.  What you do next, your new hire orientation, will determine whether the employee is productive, happy and hangs around for the long-term.

Purpose of New Hire Orientation

Employee orientation should be an important part of your recruitment and retention process.  For the employee, a good new hire orientation process ensures they feel welcome, fully briefed on expectations and ready to succeed. And for the company, it makes good business sense. Here is why:

  • Save Money. Employees get up to speed much more quickly so costs associated with learning on the job are reduced.
  • Lessen Anxiety. The unknown is often stressful and can impede learning. When you provide guidelines for behavior and conduct, you take the guessing away.
  • Reduce Employee Turnover. When employees feel under-valued or not properly positioned to do their job, they won’t stick around. So, orientation helps provide the tools and training necessary for their success.
  • Save Time. The better the initial orientation and training, the less time co-workers or supervisors need to spend re-teaching the employee. A good how-to manual is also helpful!
  • Develop Realistic Job Expectations. The employee learns quickly what is expected of him/her and what to expect from others in the company.

8 Things New Hires Need to Know

#1 – They Belong. You don’t need to wait for the first day to welcome them to the organization. Send out a welcome kit with information before their start date. Next, announce the new hire to your team so they are ready to welcome him/her too! Take the time to introduce him/her to other staff members. Finally, if they have a work space, make sure it’s ready and welcoming too.

#2 – Company History. Offer some background on the company — the past, present and future. Explain why you do what you do. Convey your vision and high-level goals. Share some insights about your customers – who you serve and why they choose you. And don’t limit customer discussions to sales and customer service people – everyone benefits from this knowledge.

#3 – Leadership. While your business may not have a formal leadership team, it probably has employees who take on leadership roles. Introductions help them connect with others and better understand the organization structure.

#4 – Culture. No two businesses operate the same way culturally. Share company traditions – from team lunches to monthly staff meetings – to help them understand the work environment. Help them fit in and grow with the company.

#5 – Documentation.  New hire documents must be completed for payroll, taxes, and benefits. Get these out of the way and address any questions they may have.

#6 – Compliance and Policies. Your employee handbook will provide the details on policies and answer any questions. You don’t need to review each policy but discuss some that are highly relevant. Consider topics such as sick time, vacation, work schedule/start times, cell phone or internet usage, rewards/recognition opportunities and performance feedback. Also, include policies that apply to their specific job.

#7 – Performance Expectations. While you likely discussed and shared the job description during the hiring process, this is a good time to touch on goals and how you measure success.

#8 – Your Commitment to Improvement. Orientation is the perfect time to convey your commitment to continuous improvement and learning.  In doing so, new employees feel comfortable asking questions to obtain the information they need to learn, problem solve and make decisions.

An orientation process takes time and commitment. However, it will make a significant difference in how quickly your new employee becomes productive and makes an impact. When done right, it is a win-win for everyone.

More Business Improvement Ideas

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

frustrated - biz mistakes

9 Small Business Mistakes that Hinder Growth and Profit

While experience can be a great teacher, learning from someone else’s experience can save you time, money and a lot of frustration – especially when it comes to growing your small business. So here are some common business mistakes you want to avoid or fix.

Mistake #1: I Can Do It On My Own

Most of us became entrepreneurs because we are experts or skilled at something and believed we could do it better than competitors or maybe our current boss. But building a successful business requires more than technical know-how. None of us are experts at everything – so surround yourself with other experts to fill the gaps. Whether you hire employees, sub-contract work, create joint ventures, work with coaches/consultants or develop strategic alliances – the support you need is available. Avoid this costly business mistake. Don’t try to do it all yourself.

Mistake #2: Keeping Your Business a Secret

Today, a website is a must-have for a small business. It is a great equalizer and can build credibility for you, your company and products. But it only pays off if people who want your products and services can find you. As a small business owner, search engine optimization with relevant keywords and content must be a priority. Use social media and other marketing tactics drive people to your site too!

Mistake #3: Creating Confusion With Potential Buyers

When starting a business, the goal typically looks like this:  generate sales for your core products or services as quickly as possible by whatever means necessary. But if sales for core products are slower than expected, many begin dabbling with additional products or services to generate more revenue. Too many dissimilar products or different messages can leave people wondering what you do and why they should choose to buy from you. Focus on your core strengths and build from there.

Mistake #4: Great Products The Market Doesn’t Want

The best products or services will go unsold if you are talking to the wrong people – those who will likely never buy! Investing your time and money promoting your products or services to people who don’t have the resources, authority or need, today or in the near future, is both frustrating and costly. Who are the ideal customers for YOUR products and services? Be clear on this, find out where they are, how to reach them and then apply your resources to pull them in.

Mistake #5: Talk More Than You Listen

If you want to earn a customer’s business, you need to solve their problem or fill a need. So before you jump into your sales pitch, take the time to ask questions, listen carefully and determine what the customer needs. Your features and benefits are only relevant when they solve a customer’s problem or fill a need. Successful people tend to be good listeners – so you’ll achieve greater success when you spend less time talking and more time listening! Remember, technology and markets change, so keep your pulse on what customers need and adjust accordingly.

Mistake #6: No Follow-Up

Investing resources to generate leads for your company without a proven method to convert them into paying customers is costly. Whether potential customers come to you by phone, email, online or in person, a system for consistent and timely follow-up is a key to sales growth. Take the time to develop a procedure for moving prospects to customers. Take advantage of technology to ensure your process is both efficient and effective. Be consistent and watch your sales soar.

Mistake #7: Disjointed or No Procedures

Documented procedures for all the critical tasks and operations is a key to efficiency, consistency, continuous improvement and profitability. Yet despite the benefits, it’s ignored by many small businesses. This mistake becomes obvious when you hire and train new people, attempt to outsource or start losing customers due to poor service or missed deadlines. Take it one at a time, but make written procedures a priority in your business. The results will surprise you. My Ultimate Systems Guide makes it easy to start building systems and procedures in your small business.

Mistake #8: Hiring on the Fly

“Quick to hire and slow to fire” describes many small businesses. A strong team of people to support your business is certainly important – but only if they are the right people. There are proven hiring systems and tools, including a job description and clear goals, to help small businesses attract and retain quality people. Always hire with a purpose, invest in training, commit to developing your team and be willing to let go of those who don’t fit. Need an easy way to get the word out when you are hiring? Indeed.com is a great solution for small business owners.

Mistake #9: Roller Coaster Marketing

For many small businesses, marketing activities and spending look like a roller coaster, up and down based on how busy you are or how sales are doing. If your marketing is sporadic, your results will likely be the same. The key to attracting and retaining customers is consistency. It is better to do 5-6 lead generation strategies well and consistently than doing 10-20 of them periodically. And remember, marketing to existing customers is just as important as new business marketing — so incorporate both into your marketing efforts.

Which of these mistakes is impacting your growth and profit? Make it a priority to fix them – one at a time, if necessary. The sooner you do, the sooner your sales and profit will grow. And isn’t that why you are in business in the first place?

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

profit builder

Want to Be a Profit Builder?

When you hear the words business growth, what pops into your mind? Is it revenue, sales or maybe new customers? What about profit? What are you doing to build profit in your small business? Is it a priority or an after-thought?

There are a lot of ways to build profit in your business. Cutting costs is the obvious one. While keeping costs down is important, put adequate resources (time and money) into other areas – and keep your focus on the bottom line. Be a profit builder.

5 Ways to Build Profit

#1 – Grow sales of higher margin products. Products and services, like customers, are not created equal. The growth of low-margin products can actually reduce your overall profit. Do you know which products or services deliver the highest profit margins?  You should. Then put your marketing and sales efforts into selling more of those.

#2 – Gain efficiency with systems. This is especially important in businesses that rely on labor to deliver their products or services. In a service business, you are only as good as the people doing the work – so their efficiency and effectiveness are critical to your profitability.

Take advantage of technology to save time. Utilize checklists so employees have the materials they need when they arrive at customers locations. Have a system for add-on sales opportunities. Schedule work to minimize drive times. Eliminate duplicate work.  These are just a few – I’m sure you can find others in your small business. When you do, enjoy the extra profit that comes from doing more with less.

#3 – Eliminate re-works that come from poor quality. Re-works or callbacks are profit busters. It costs you money to re-do the work – and you also lose the opportunity to serve someone else with that person or crew. Make quality a priority.  Get it right the first time.

#4 – Profit from your pricing. When you use a standard markup and cost to set prices, you ignore the most important ingredient – value. This comes from being better or different. Your pricing should reflect your quality, uniqueness, and convenience. Don’t be afraid to charge more when you can.  As a small business, discounts and low prices will always work against you. Avoid them unless you have a strategic reason for doing so. More sales at any cost is not a recipe for optimizing your profit margins.

#5 – Improve your marketing ROI. Marketing is an investment. It’s not about how much you spend, but how effectively you apply your resources – time and money. In fact, many of my clients are spending less and getting more revenue.  You can too with a few changes:  better targeting, emphasis on retention, compelling messages, diverse tactics, and a system that converts more leads. Marketing is not about getting leads – it’s about getting quality sales through current and new customers.

As you can see from these examples, profit-building requires a whole-business approach to growth – not just sales. Your people, systems, marketing and daily operations all play an important role – so leverage them. With small improvements in all these areas, you’ll grow both sales and profit. And that’s a recipe for a better business.

More Profit Building Ideas

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

Five stars service

13 Ways to Make Your Service Business a Profit Sensation

Service companies make up 80% of the businesses today.  From plumbers, doctors and hair stylists to accountants and printers, a service business helps or does the work for someone.  Many are local. Most require a more personal interaction with their customers.  All sell something intangible.  But some stand out while others struggle.

13 Ways to Help Your Service Business Shine

Get Your House In Order.  The core of a service business is the service itself.  If you fail to deliver what you promise, customers won’t stick around and will share their bad experiences with others. Identify what you want the ‘buying experience’ to look like and have procedures in place to help your people deliver it consistently.  Here are some great words advice from Harry Beckwith, “Getting the word out and attracting people to a flawed service is a strategy for killing a service company.”

Hire for Heart, Teach Skills.  Your business is only as good as the people you employ to deliver what you promise. Skills can be learned through education or training from you or others in your company.  But you can’t teach heart.  People either care or they don’t.  They are passionate about helping others or they are not.  Keep this in mind when hiring people to represent your company and serve your customers.

Know Your Competition.  In a services business, your prospects have more options than you think. Sure they can choose you or another company in your industry.  But they can also choose to do nothing or perform the service themselves.  Look for ways to create additional demand in your market by converting those who do nothing or do it themselves.  Think emotions – what they can gain or avoid!

Mistakes Mean Opportunities. Outstanding service doesn’t mean zero mistakes.  Service businesses are people dependent so mistakes will happen.  How you handle them is the key to how you are perceived long-term.  Don’t pass the buck or try to justify it.  Fix it without a hassle and you may earn a lifetime customer and a lot of referrals.

Be Competent and Likeable.  If you sell a service, you are really selling a relationship, so chemistry counts. Prospects need to like you and feel comfortable working with you.  Sure you must be capable and professional, but most of all you must be personable!  And it must come across in everything you do before, during and after the sale.

Price With a Purpose.  Your pricing says something about you.  Don’t assume it is always logical.  People make assumptions about quality based on price. High price assumes high quality, low price assumes acceptable.    What you perceive to be a value, may actually make you look second-rate.

In his book, Selling the Invisible, Harry Beckwith shared a few pricing tips worth repeating:

  • A little resistance is a good thing.  If nobody complains, your price is too low!
  • Pricing somewhere between the high and low in the market forces you to compete with everyone — so, avoid the deadly middle.
  • Low cost is not sustainable and requires no imagination so don’t go there!
  • Charge for your experience, talent, skills, and knowledge – not your time.

Stand for One Thing.  Have a singular, distinctive message for your service business and reinforce it every chance you get.   You will achieve more if you narrow your focus, choose one thing and put the power of association to work.  By nature, we associate one positive (or negative) thing with other good (or bad) things. Yes, it works both ways.  So if prospects perceive you to be the most convenient provider, by association they will view you favorably for other attributes like quality and expertise.

Don’t Say It, Prove It.   “We offer great service” won’t inspire people to try you since most businesses make these claims.  If you really do a great job, create evidence to support this.  Build your case.  Customer satisfaction surveys are a great and often under-utilized way to document and demonstrate your service quality. The overall satisfaction scores along with customer comments and testimonials can be used in your marketing and make your service claims stand out.  Afraid to know what customers think or maybe your scores aren’t worth bragging about?  Then fix it and make service the priority it should be.

Manage customer expectations.  We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘under-promise, over-deliver’ and it emphasizes the importance of expectations versus satisfaction.  A customer’s satisfaction is the gap between what they expect and what they actually get.  Avoid hype. If you make a client think you will do better or more than you can do, they will end up disappointed and unsatisfied!

Sweat the Small Stuff.  Buying decisions are not always rational.  To justify decisions, people look for differences between service providers. When significant differences are hard to find, prospects look to seemingly minor things.  Are your business cards professional and free of smudges? Is your staff in uniforms or dressed professionally? Are your vehicles clean?

Be Grateful, Show It!  The best way to nurture and keep customers is simple.  Say thank you and say it often.  Stay connected in a variety of ways. Make them feel wanted and appreciated!

Always Look for New Clients.  If you have customers and are really busy serving them, it’s easy to become complacent.  This is especially true for service companies with recurring revenue or those who work on larger jobs a few at a time such as contractors.  Don’t do it.  Keep your pipeline full.  Unless it’s an emergency, people will wait to work with a company they really like or prefer!

Track What’s Important.  While customer satisfaction is one metrics you can use to evaluate what’s important, it’s not the only one.  For example, quality scores that reflect re-works or customer retention rates are effective ways to monitor your results. They can be shared in your marketing.  Labor as a % of sales is also an important efficiency metrics in a service business.  Pick a few that are relevant to your business.  Track them and use them to make improvements. Where applicable, promote them in your marketing and sales efforts.

Service businesses are people businesses.  The more you understand them, the more success you will have.  So get to know your customers personally, understand what is important to them,  and deliver what you promise consistently! It’s a recipe for success in all businesses, but critical when you sell intangibles!

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More Profit-Building Ideas

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

Customer loyalty

Customer Loyalty: 7 Secrets to Create Raving Fans

“A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits – they will be embarrassingly large.” Henry Ford’s words reinforce the importance of customer service, satisfaction, and customer loyalty in your business. So what are you doing to create raving fans – and why is this important?

Why Create Raving Fans?
  • Loyal customers spend more and buy more frequently.
  • Customer satisfaction is linked to customer retention.
  • It’s cheaper to retain profitable customers than acquire new ones.
  • Customers are willing to pay more when service is better than the competition.
  • Happy customers refer others, write reviews and sing your praises every chance they get.
  • Unhappy customers tell anyone who will listen about their negative experience – and social media makes this really easy!
7 Secrets to Improve Customer Service

Get Feedback. Encourage and welcome customer input about how you can improve. Provide a method and process to get constructive comments and suggestions. Customers can be your best advocate and your best source of learning. They are knowledgeable about competitors and what they do or don’t do well. Remember, you cannot fix or improve something if you don’t know it’s broken.

Treat Employees Well. Appreciation starts at the top. Your team will treat customers the way you treat your team. Do you greet them when they arrive? Do you thank them? Do you listen to their concerns and ideas? If you take care of your team, your team will take care of you.

Handle Customer Complaints. No matter how good you are, things can and will go wrong. Identify the source of the top 5-7 complaints, even if they only occur periodically. Then develop a procedure to handle them. Don’t forget to include guidelines and limits of authority so your people, who actually deal with customers, can resolve the majority of complaints without going to the boss! Keep in mind, complaints, if handled well, can actually build loyalty with customers.

Track and Reward Customer Satisfaction. If customer satisfaction is really a priority in your business, demonstrate this to your team and customers. Develop a method to measure it, set goals for improvement and reward the team when the goal is accomplished. Keep it simple.

And here’s another plus. If your documented customer satisfaction score is 95% or better, you now have a great message for use in marketing. It sure beats the ‘we deliver great service’ message so many businesses like to put out there.

Train Your Team. Customer service skills, like technical or sales skills, can be developed and improved with training. While most businesses train new employees, existing team members need ongoing training and development too. In addition to better service, employee training is linked to improved employee retention and satisfaction – a big benefit in a competitive labor market.

Document Your Critical Systems. Too often the source of dissatisfaction or perceived poor quality is tied to your processes. Take a look at your procedures, from initial customer contact through billing and collection. Document what gets done. I guarantee you will find gaps in consistency and opportunities for improvement. Systems put money on the bottom line by reducing re-works, returns or callbacks – a big satisfaction driver.

Set Expectations. In marketing and sales, a  can-do attitude is important, but only if you can deliver what you promise each and every time. Set the right expectations with customers and work to make it happen consistently. Remember the old saying, better to under promise and over deliver!

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

marketing purpose

What Is Your Marketing Purpose?

As a business owner, you have a lot of marketing choices. But what you choose and how you use them will ultimately drive success. While cost and ROI will always play a role in your marketing decisions, don’t overlook your marketing purpose and integration.

Marketing has many purposes. From creating awareness and building relationships to generating new sales or repeat business. Depending on your marketing purpose, some tools work better than others. And when you combine various tools, through integration, you have a better recipe for success.

Here are a few commonly used small business tools to demonstrate this point.

Social Media | Organic versus Paid

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are popular with small businesses. They are good for sharing things that others want to re-share – and that’s the key. Photos, infographics, local events, helpful tips and good news posts can help you stay connected and reach some new people.

If you are using social media as a free or low-cost method to reach lots and lots of new customers, you may be disappointed. Most social platforms rely on ads or premium subscriptions for revenue, so your reach is limited (by design) unless you pay to boost the posts, display ads or sponsor messaging. Promotional messages and special offers need a boost to perform well. The good news – when done right, paid social media is an affordable, effective way to reach more of your targeted prospects.

Tip:  When it comes to content and platforms, quality beats quantity every time. More is not always better. Choose the platforms that work best for your business then deliver quality information – stuff that is relevant to your customers.

Email Marketing | The Ultimate Stay Connected Tool

Your permission-based email list is an asset! It’s comprised of customers and prospects who said YES and want to hear from you. So, it’s a great tool for staying connected and building relationships that may create sales now or in the future.

Email marketing is flexible and affordable. With a variety of platforms like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, and iContact, it’s also easy to keep your name and message in front of potential buyers. For helpful tips, check out my article, 7 Ways to Build Relationships with Email Marketing.

While consistency and good content are important, the size and quality of your list is a key to success. The bigger the list, the better the opportunity. So, put a lot of effort into building your list.

Use your website, social media, and sales or service teams to help grow your list. Give customers and prospects a reason and make it easy for them to say yes. Then deliver what you promise – relevant information.

Website | For Questions and Information

Good marketing gets attention and creates interest. But it hardly ever provides all the information someone needs to make a decision. So where do people go to get more information? Some may call but most will go to your website.

SEO and other marketing will certainly drive people to your site. So about us, services and contact information are helpful and expected. But you may be missing opportunities if you rely on these alone.

Blogs can answer common questions, provide updates and deliver relevant information.  Frequently Asked Questions – with simple answers – can also do the trick. Case studies and white papers allow you to demonstrate your expertise with problem-solution type information. Testimonials, online reviews, and certifications can offer proof of expertise.

Is your website the go-to place for questions or information prospects need? Here’s what you should consider:

  • What questions do prospects commonly ask during the sales process? Write them down and create clear (brief) answers.
  • What is the best way to share this information? Would a page with FAQ’s do the trick or should you create a blog post (or series of them) to answer the questions?
  • Do customers look for proof of your expertise? If so, case studies, white papers, testimonials, online reviews, and certifications can help you deliver. Make it easy for customers to find them.

Direct Mail | The Forgotten Tool

With so much emphasis on digital marketing, direct mail is almost an afterthought. When used with other tools, digital or media, direct mail helps reach new customers. It can be highly targeted and there’s a lot less direct mail competition today.

Whether you want to drive people to your website to learn more or call to schedule an appointment or get a quote, direct mail can deliver more bang for your buck when used with other tools. To get more customers, check out the article, 10 Direct Mail Tips.

A Final Thought

To get more sales and profit from your marketing efforts, build a plan with purpose and integration in mind.

It all starts with your marketing goals. Ideally, your marketing should accomplish three things:  generate new leads, nurture unconverted leads in your pipeline and create repeat business from customers.  Budget funds to do all three – with consistency.  Then, choose the right tools to support each purpose.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

 

LI customer investments

Customer Investments – How To Do It Right

Make Your Customer Investments Pay Off

Your customers are your source of revenue, so it makes sense to invest money into them. But before you put a plan in place to attract, convert and retain customers, here are a few things you should consider to make your customer investments payoff.

#1 – Look Beyond Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is certainly an indicator of customer repurchase intentions. Improvements can reduce churn and create new business through referrals. So, it makes sense that businesses invest in this area. But even satisfied customers are not created equal as it relates to profitability. Understand why customers are satisfied. Some factors that impact both satisfaction and profitability include brands, products/services, buying experience, differentiation – and of course, price.

Satisfaction and profitability are not mutually exclusive. If a customer is only satisfied when you give them special deals, do you want them? What about those who pay full price but demand so much that they offset the revenue they provide? Some customers simply can’t be profitably satisfied. So why make the investment in them? Invest resources in your profitable customers.

#2 – Focus on the Lifetime Value of the Customer

How much you invest to acquire a new customer or retain them will vary. But you need to think beyond the most recent or first transaction. Consider instead what you expect to earn from customers on an ongoing basis.

This long-term view considers what products or services they buy, how often and for how long. Seek to understand your customers’ value. When you do, you can look for ways to improve it and decide how much you will spend to acquire and retain customers.

Related:  What Are Your Customers Worth

#3 – Budget and Plan for Retention Too

Marketing costs are typically focused on new business generation efforts. While important, a portion of your marketing budget should be allocated toward nurturing and retaining customers. When you consider lifetime value, it’s a good decision. Bonus: It’s a lot cheaper to retain a customer than to acquire a new one!

Imagine if you took 10% of your marketing budget and used it for engagement and retention? Depending on your industry, these areas come to mind: service, support, and account management. But extra touches and thoughtful gestures are equally important.

How are you going to keep your customers engaged? This is where the plan comes in.  Create a variety of retention strategies or tactics to implement throughout the year.  How often you do it will likely depend on your industry and clients. Get creative. Stand out. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking….

  • Pick up the phone and check in with a customer. Lunch, golf or coffee optional.
  • Create a blog to educate and empower customers.
  • Remember special occasions with birthday or holiday cards. It’s the thought that counts.
  • Turn fast service into quality and complete service. Customers will view you as courteous and helpful.
  • Email special offers just for customers. It’s not special if everyone gets it!
  • Surprise them! Little, kind gestures make an impact. A client left a Hershey kiss with their invoice. Low cost, but memorable.
  • Send postcards for reminders. With so much emphasis on email and text, snail mail gets noticed.
  • Say thank you with a personal, handwritten note.
  • Build a social community online. Choose the platform that is best for your business and customers.
  • Use white papers and eBook guides to demonstrate expertise. Be a resource for your customers.

Remember, nothing happens until you take action. So, decide what you will do and how often you will do it. Then, schedule it so it gets done!

#4 – Track Retention Rate Over Time

What we measure we can celebrate or improve! Do you want to know if your customer investments are paying off? Your customer retention rate, over time, will tell you that.

You can calculate the retention rate for any period you choose: weekly, monthly, quarterly or something else that is relevant to you.  Pay attention to the trends over time! To calculate, you need to know the following:

Retention Rate Formula: ((CE-CN)/CS)) X 100

  • CS – number of customers at the start of period
  • CN – number of new customers during the period
  • CE – number of customers at the end of period

Let’s do the math with a simple example. 

You started the first quarter (January 1) with 200 customers [CS]

You ended the first quarter (March 31) with 250 customers [CE]

During the first quarter (Jan 1 – Mar 31) you acquired 65 new customers [CN]

Let’s plug them into the formula: ((CE-CN)/CS)) X 100

250 – 65 = 185;    185/200 = .925;    .925 x 100 = 92.5

Your retention rate for the period is 92.5%

#5 – Monitor Satisfaction

If you spend money to acquire and keep customers, it makes sense to get feedback and monitor customer satisfaction. Surveys allow you to do this. When done right, they help you quantify the quality in your business – and support your investments.

When done by phone, they allow you to stay in contact with customers, identify and fix mistakes, identify possible problems (before they become major issues) and request testimonials, reviews, and referrals. Remember to apply item #1 above when you consider changes or improvements in your business – rely on feedback from ideal, profitable customers!

Related:  5 Reasons Why Surveys Should Be on Your To-Do List.

Customer acquisition and retention are important for any business. Planning how you will do both will save you time and money. Incorporating the five items above will help you make better decisions.

More Business Improvement Ideas

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