Are you wasting your time sending emails?

your email campaign was a bustYou’ve decided it’s time to do an email campaign. So you buy a list, craft what you believe to be a good email letter and send it out. But when you look at the stats, you’re less than thrilled. Minimal opens. A lousy click through rate. ZERO conversions. What happened?

Let’s look at some possibilities:

  1. The list you purchased is ineffective.
  2. Your subject line is….yawn…..boring. Delete. Delete. Delete.
  3. You buried the lead. Get to the point before the reader drags your message to the trash.
  4. The tone of your letter is too formal.
  5. The tone of your letter is too casual.
  6. You missed some typos.
  7. There’s no call to action.

Any of these seem relevant? If so, here’s what you can do so your next email campaign isn’t a bust.

  • Save your moneyAccording to Hubspot, good email lists aren’t for sale. They suggest creating your own email list (we heartily agree) and this article gives you some good tips on how to do that.
  • Come up with subject lines that beg to be opened.  Pay attention to the emails you open. What are the subject lines that you simply must click on? That’s what you’re aiming for.

If you’re not a good writer, hire a copywriter. Your subject line should be enticing. It should either speak directly to your target market’s pain point or be clever enough that a prospect is curious to read more.   

For example:
Are cash flow worries keeping you up at night?
Do you know why your competitors are stealing away your clients?
3 things potential customers want that your company isn’t providing

  • Don’t waste a reader’s time. Everyone’s busy. Get to the point quickly. And make it easy to read by writing short paragraphs and breaking content up with subheads. Think of what you can do so the recipient can easily scan the entire letter. That increases the chances of being read.
  • Lose the formal language and infuse some warmth into your copy. The beauty of emails is that they are efficient direct marketing tools. You are speaking one-to-one with the reader. Actually, “you’re speaking one-to-one” is appropriate. It’s the perfect opportunity to write as though you were speaking face-to-face. 
  • Don’t be overly casual. Here’s an exception to the bullet above.  If the email is going to a recipient in a market where casual language is inappropriate (i.e. the FBI or legal entities), your copy should be straightforward. But not stuffy. You can still be human in your writing.
  • Make sure there are no typos. Typos are sloppy. They make an immediate bad impression. That’s why smart job seekers have multiple people review their resumes. It’s not just spelling errors, or the wrong word (e.g., “their / they’re / there”) but punctuation mistakes as well.

We make sure that three sets of eyes proof copy before anything goes out or gets published. Even then, we’ve had a few instances where we missed something. Believe me, you’ll be more careful the next time.

  • Call-to-action. If you’ve done a good job and your email gets read, be sure to lead the recipient to the next step.  Add a call-to-action so she knows what you want her to do. Or a “this is what we will do next”.

For example:

Let me know which of these dates/times work best for you to talk.
Which of our 3 free whitepapers would you like me to send you?
I’ll give you a call next week to set up a meeting.

I’ll add a few more tips:

  • Make sure your email speaks to the needs/wants/hopes of the recipient. That requires truly understanding their pain point.
  • Include backup. Use testimonials from happy clients to support your claims about how you can help this prospect.
  • Use color, white space and/or a graphic to make emails more visually appealing. Big chunks of copy are intimidating which means they probably won’t get read.

Who said email campaigns were easy?

Email campaigns can be challenging to pull off.  A 2018 Mailchimp survey showed the average email open rate was less than 21%. This was across the board for all industries they looked at.

That’s a whole lot of wasted effort as far as we’re concerned.  Our average open rate is 32%. That’s well above the average but we’re still aiming for higher.

Call us if your emails aren’t getting opened. We’d love to help you!  

.

 

 

Leave a comment

Marketing Morsel: How clear is your brand voice?

Are you satisfied with your brand voice?

Not sure? Ask yourself these 5 questions:is your brand voice clear?

  1. Does your brand voice accurately reflect your business?
  2. Does the personality of your business come through clearly in your marketing?
  3. Does your marketing message define what’s unique about your business?
  4. Can potential customers tell exactly what you do from your website home page?
  5. Are you proud of the way your brand voice presents (and represents) your company?

If you answered no to any of the above, it’s time to buff up your brand voice. Because a compelling brand voice can be the difference between being memorable or mediocre.

 

Leave a comment

How to stay relevant in a quickly changing market.

Keeping up in the business world is becoming more and more challenging. Because the very nature of the internet nurtures change. There’s always something newer, faster, cooler, brighter.

On the flip side, if you don’t like the way your product or service looks next to the competition, you can revamp your digital marketing quickly. Often in a day.

Falling behind in market share?

Change your marketing message in a snap. No need to wait months to get feedback. Results start showing up immediately.

Hand flips wooden cubes to change the word "change" to "chance"
Are you willing to change to stay relevant?

Not convinced? See what some savvy retailers have done to refresh their marketing and revamp their messaging.

A Cappella Books
The Wall Street Journal recently profiled this small independent Atlanta bookstore that watched sales drop for ten years. Faced with huge competition from Amazon, the owner figured he’d have to close.

But then he came up with an idea. Focus less on selling  books — where he couldn’t compete with Amazon’s prices — and more on appealing to customers who loved independent bookstores and would support a local business.

He started hosting author events — book signings and readings, then added events at other venues. What do you know? Business started to turn around. Because his customers were more interested in the bookstore experience and supporting a local business than saving a few dollars.

Think this is an isolated example? Hardly. According to a CBS segment titled “Independent bookstores thrive” that aired on April 23, 2018, “Between 2009 and 2015, more than 570 independent bookstores opened in the U.S., bringing the total to more than 2,200; that’s about a 35 percent jump after more than a decade of decline.”

What’s driving this small market segment’s success? Shop Local campaigns, selections curated for the community and lots of events. It’s about book-related experiences rather than buying as cheaply as possible. And it’s really a small business success story.

Booksellers aren’t the only retailers thriving despite the growth of e-commerce.

Ever hear of Warby Parker?

Established as a hip online-only retailer selling stylish glasses at affordable prices, Warby Parker’s marketing message focused on their mission to give back — “Buy a pair, give a pair” was what they thought would appeal to their customers. But in reality, their customers didn’t pay much attention to the mission statement. Instead, they were drawn in by the cool styles and the ease of buying glasses online.

So Warby focused less on its mission and more on the Warby Parker cool factor and the ease of purchasing. Next, they opened a few brick & mortar locations where they honed the shopping experience even more. Tiny shops that looked like cozy little libraries. Each eyeglass frame shown in three different sizes to fit various face shapes. Super friendly and helpful personal service. And fresh designs rotating in on a regular basis so there’s always something new to see. And buy.

Today, Warby Parker has retail shops around the country (including 5 in Illinois) as well as in Canada and British Columbia. And the shops (at least the ones I’ve seen in Chicago) are always busy.

How do you say pivot?

Would you be surprised to learn that some of today’s biggest brands started out selling products or services that evolved into something different –which is where they are today?

If you said YouTube, Slack, Yelp, Shopify and Groupon, you’d be right.  Jayson DeMers writes about these companies and their reinventions in his Entrepreneur article titled “5 Big Brands That Had Massively Successful Pivots.”  If you’re fascinated by success stories (like I am), you’ll enjoy this article.

Smart business owners know that being nimble is critical in a competitive marketplace. And fortunately, it’s far easier for a small business to pivot than a large company with multiple layers of approval.

So if something’s not working, do your research to see where the problem lies. If it’s a product that’s no longer relevant to your key market, don’t scrap the product. Find a different market. If there’s still a market for your product or service, do whatever it takes to become relevant again.

And if you’ve had to pivot for your small business to stay relevant, we’d love to hear about it.

 

Leave a comment

Network your way to more business.

2 people talking at a networking event

Networking has always been at the top of our marketing list for building business. It doesn’t require much of an investment, other than time.

For small businesses, it’s a great way to meet fellow entrepreneurs. Getting out and talking to people who might have a need for your product or service. Or….just as important….who know other people who might need your help.

2 people talking at a networking event
Are you an authentic networker?

How many times have you been to a networking event where you were casually engaged in a conversation that led to a really interesting discussion — one you wanted to continue? It might not even be that this person needed your service. Maybe you just really clicked.

Networking events offer a limited time to connect with someone other than superficially. At a 2 hr event, if you want to meet more than 1 or 2 people, your chat time is limited.

So, your next step should be to tell the person you’re speaking with that you’d like to continue your conversation over coffee or lunch. Set a date or exchange contact info to do it at a later time. Then move on to meeting some other people in the room.

When Networking Works

I’ve met some dynamite people at events where casual conversation led to collegial friendships. No one was selling. We were just talking about business challenges or sports or hobbies….in no particular order. In the course of conversation, we found that we really liked talking to each other. Cards were exchanged and within a few weeks, we met over breakfast so we could get to know one another better.

Not all of these encounters led to new business. Some introduced me to colleagues who did what I do. A writer comes to mind. I keep her contact info so I can refer her business I can’t or don’t want to do. I’m always happy to refer business to others which is why I like having a full network.

I’ve also met some really outstanding people who’ve become close business associates. We refer business to one another and support each other as much as we can. Sharing job leads. Introducing colleagues to friends where there might be potential work. Contributing to the local networking community.

If you look at networking as getting to know people, the process often becomes organic. You’re focused on learning about someone and not selling them something. You’re being authentic rather than trying to impress the other person.

Watch the Skilled Networkers

The best networkers are not selling. You’ve seen the hard-sell types. They have trouble holding eye contact because they’re looking around for someone better to talk at (not a typo).

On the other hand, those people who are genuinely engaged in the conversation you’re having are the type of networkers you want to connect with.

Think about the most successful networkers you know. Odds are they’re super nice, always willing to answer questions and, once they know you and your reputation, happy to refer business to you.

If you’re new to networking or not comfortable in the “how to”, read this Lifehack post on helpful networking tips.

The upside: while you’re growing your business, you’ll be building relationships. That’s how What A Great Website came to be. We met in a networking group eight years ago. We liked one another and started doing projects together. Three years later, we started a company. You never know where networking can take you.

For more networking help, here’s an article I wrote back in 2005 called The Nuances of Networking. It still applies today.

Leave a comment

when startups fail

Jumping on the startup bandwagon is not for everyone. It’s certainly not for the risk-averse. Because starting a business is a bad idea if you’re not able to accept failure.

It’s also not for someone who can’t develop or follow a plan. Startups need structure. Processes and procedures don’t just happen. They need to be created and implemented.

According to Small Business Trends, “A bit more than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first four years”.”

girl's hands typing on a laptop
surviving your startup

Actually, we thought the number was higher. Maybe because we’ve been doing this long enough that we’ve seen more than a few startups fail.

Sometimes you know upfront.

You get an inkling that something’s off. Often it starts with a whirlwind of excitement and big plans. Really big over-the-top plans that seem wildly optimistic.

Now we have nothing against excitement and having a positive attitude is hugely important. But so are plans – especially when you’re starting a new business. And if the plans aren’t based in reality, you’re looking for trouble.

That was the scenario a few years ago when we were hired to build a website for a new music and light dining venue. The concept looked good on paper. A sophisticated, casual night spot in an area that could easily support this kind of entertainment. The client was over-the-moon-excited. She was commissioning pricey artwork and spending freely on interior design. The excitement was contagious and we were all looking forward to the opening.

Then reality kicked in. And we realized that under all the glam and excitement was…..well, nothing. No business plan. No marketing plan. No roadmap on how this business was going to run. They couldn’t find a decent chef because they hadn’t allocated enough money for one — unacceptable in an area where people expect top quality food.

A few months into the launch of this project and the red flags we’d noticed were looking bigger and bigger. One thing after another went wrong until we realized there was no way this venture was going to fly.

In hopes of helping save other startups, here is what went wrong for our client and the six warning signs you need to heed if you’re launching a new business:

Six Red Flags

  1. Ignoring the competition
    Our music venue client disregarded a successful venue down the street because it was really a restaurant. But they did have music one night a week.  Fast forward a few months, the competitor’s weekly music night was drawing crowds. Because they had terrific food and longstanding customers. Never underestimate the value of customer loyalty. And always understand the competition.
  2.  Failing to prioritize
    Rather than allocating marketing dollars to communication tools to let people know they were opening and build some buzz, the venue owner spent money on all sorts of pricey premiums and custom artwork. Social media was minimal. PR was non-existent. Huge oversight! We still have some of those premiums — they lasted far longer than the club.
  3. Skimping on the essentials
    Serving food? Better make damn sure it’s good. Saving money by hiring inexperienced (or poor) chefs will be your demise. That’s what happened to our client.
  4. Not listening to the experts you’ve hired
    Savvy entrepreneurs know they can’t do it all. That’s why they hire professionals to handle what they can’t. If you’re paying someone to help you build your business, listen to their advice. Otherwise, save the money and do it yourself. It’ll be less of a loss when you shut down.
  5. Not listening to your customers
    If one table sends back food with a complaint that it’s cold, that’s easily fixable. If more than one table has the same complaint, pay attention. You’ve got a problem in the kitchen. Ignore the problems and you’re never going to make it.
  6. Falling in love with your product or service
    The A#1 mistake our client made was falling blindly in love with her venture. She was so convinced that this was going to be a success that she did little due diligence. And once things started to fail, she ignored the warning signs.

As entrepreneurs, we’re passionate about entrepreneurship. We like to see others succeed. And we love being involved in success stories. Building a website for a company that didn’t even last a year made us feel pretty bad. Especially since we loved the website!

Because we give a damn, there’ve been times we’ve suggested that a potential client pull back instead of moving forward with a new website. Rather than see a startup fail, we’ve suggested that they go back to the planning table and rethink what they’re trying to do. Once all the pieces are in place, we’re happy to build their website.

Lest we discourage anyone who’s eager to start a business, here’s an article from Inc magazine on 15 reason why it’s a good idea to start a business.

If you’ve got a clear plan and aren’t afraid of making mistakes (they’re part of the learning process), go for it.

Leave a comment

ever feel like you’re pretending to know more than you do?

Recently, we’ve noticed an interesting term bandied about in networking circles. It’s called imposter syndrome. We don’t like to miss anything, so we decided to do a little research.

Here’s what we learned.

Impostor syndrome is “the idea that you’ve only succeeded due to luck, and not because of your talent or qualifications.” (Yes, Imposter Syndrome Is Real. Here’s How to Deal With It. Abigail Adams, Time Magazine, June 20, 2018).

While it smacks of insecurity, it’s not very unusual. According to Melody Wilder In her Fast Company article “The Five Types of Impostor Syndrome and How to Beat Them”, “70% of people experience impostor syndrome at some point in their career.”

If these figures are accurate, 7 out of 10 people feel they put on a good show. They’ve internalized the negative connotation that the word imposter implies – fraud, charlatan, cheat. Actually, Fake It Til You Make It sounds a whole lot better. So does Act As If. But they’re all the same — Act Confident Til You Really Know What You’re Doing — Pretend and Hope No One Notices.

The idea that 7 out of every 10 people you know believe they’ve achieved success or recognition due to luck is hard to fathom. Especially if you fall into the 7. Maybe we need to rethink how we’re thinking.

The fact is that insecurity comes quite naturally to many of us when faced with something unfamiliar — particularly if you’re a perfectionist or micromanager.

Any time you learn something new, there’s a learning curve. The more you learn, the more you understand, the more your confidence grows.

One day you realize you know this topic pretty damn well. You may not fashion yourself an expert or a specialist, but you know you can deliver a product you’re proud of.  Imposter no more!

If you’re starting a business or beginning a new career, you will face hurdles. Odds are, you’ll also need to stretch and learn on the fly.

Technology changes at a maddening pace. You can’t be expected to be on top of everything in your field. But you can learn. You can attend seminars and workshops or take classes. You can network with people in your industry who may specialize in areas you don’t or who’ve found a smarter way to handle a problem. And you can ask for advice. Or help. Yes, it’s what smart people do!

For example, a web developer might belong to a developer’s forum where members share common problems, discuss solutions and evaluate themes, upgrades and plugins. A newcomer to the group might feel intimidated by members who’ve been around for a while. This can lead to the they-know-more, they’re-experts – I’m not mindset. Their advice to you? Do your best and learn as much as you can. In the meantime, act as if you know what you’re doing. It’s probably what they did starting out.

How to beat the imposter blues.

If you’re not 100% comfortable with your knowledge on a particular topic or issue, you may find yourself faking it till you are. Or you may BELIEVE you are faking it while actually knowing a lot more than you give yourself credit for (never end a sentence with preposition…apologies to my English professors).

See if this make you feel any better:

  • No one starts out as an expert. It’s something you achieve with study, effort and time.
  • Just because someone calls themselves an expert doesn’t make it so. Don’t let a label make you feel insecure.
  • Everything we learn is new. That’s what learning is all about. Becoming knowledgeable on a topic — whether your goal is to be an expert or simply good, really good — takes work.
  • Unless you feel you know something inside and out, you may still doubt your expertise.
    Perfectionists often feel like imposters. This comes from never being satisfied. But you can learn how to lighten up.

Maybe it’s time to work on your self-confidence and stop worrying about what you don’t know. Glass half full time.

Jeff Atwood, who blogs at codinghorror.com, “If I’ve learned anything in my career, it is that approaching software development as an expert, as someone who has already discovered everything there is to know about a given topic, is the one surest way to fail.”

I like Atwood’s attitude. It’s humble and honest and celebrates all there is left to learn rather than getting stuck on what you don’t know.

On that note, I think this is a good place to stop.

For some excellent tips on dealing with imposter syndrome, read Abigail Adams’ Time Magazine article, ”Yes, Impostor Syndrome Is Real. Here’s How to Deal With It.”

Feel free to share any comments if imposter syndrome is something you’ve dealt with. We might use it for a follow-up post on getting ahead.

Leave a comment

How mindful is your marketing?

Aware. Engaged. In the moment. All words and phrases affiliated with mindfulness. It’s all about a sense of “now”. No distracting thoughts about the future or the past. Just here and now and present and in the moment.

mindfulness can make your marketing more effective

Since mindfulness is good for the soul (thank you, HuffPo), we figured it must be good for other things as well. Like marketing.

A stretch, perhaps? Not if you think of it in terms of benefits — in this case, success.

If you were to apply the same techniques to marketing that you do to mindfulness, here’s what you might expect:

  • Improved focus.
    In this case, getting right to the point of what you want your marketing to accomplish. Honing in on the benefits your service provides, the problems your product fixes, the positive results of working with your company.
  • Less stress.
    We all know people who seem to live in a constant state of stress. They complain a lot, probably have high blood pressure and never dial down and relax. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound appealing. When your mind is racing, it’s hard to think clearly. Using mindfulness can help you slow down, allowing you to be more creative and making you more receptive to new ideas. New ideas can drive your marketing in fresh, distinctive ways.
  • Clarity of message.
    The clearer you are about what makes your product or service unique, the clearer your marketing message. We’re all overprogrammed and far too busy. The simplest messages have the best chance of breaking through the clutter. It’s the old KISS adage: Keep it simple, Stupid.
  • The beauty of balance.
    Mindfulness helps you get in touch with you feelings, your mind and your body. Why not apply it to making sure your business is healthy? Sort of a checks and balance tune-up. Doing an assessment of how your business is performing should be done regularly, long before the balance sheet looks bad. If the numbers aren’t where you need them to be, use the results of your assessment to create and drive new marketing messages.
  • Thoughtful decision making.
    At one time or another, we all make bad decisions. The more mindful we are, the less chance there is of this happening. When we slow down enough to look at all sides of an argument, we make better choices.
  • Learning to nurture.
    Mindfulness teaches us to find inner peace. Taking the time to think about what’s important in our lives is a nurturing first step. Incorporating that into our lives takes work. The same is true for your business. A successful business requires nurturing if it is to stay successful. Staying on top of the competition. Responding to your audience and your clients in a timely fashion. Keeping up-to-date on the technology that drives or supports your business. Hiring the best employees you can find, then keeping them happy.
  • Gratitude.
    If you’re a business owner who’s doing well, that’s certainly something to be grateful for. Share that gratitude. Let customers know you appreciate their business. Tell them – in correspondence, on social media, in content development, in every touch point with your company.

Be mindful about customer relationships and they’ll continue to do business with you. After all, who doesn’t like doing business with people we trust and like?

Leave a comment

How agile is your business?

Ever feel like the world around you is changing too fast for your company to keep up?

Of course you have! Every small business owner or entrepreneur has probably felt this way at one time or another.

It’s a scary feeling. Especially if you’ve spent years getting your business up to speed — your staff well-trained and efficient, your processes streamlined and in place or your products ideally matched to the wishes and whims of your target market.

Technology leaps forward, and suddenly your services (or products) are on the way to obsolescence. Or falling behind a new-to-the-market, more agile competitor.

Smart companies are agile.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported that Fresh Market is closing stores around the country, including two in the Chicago area. The chain jumped on the organic food trend when it launched and rode it as long as it could. But when all the other grocery chains jumped in with farm fresh products, Fresh Market could no longer compete.

Whole Foods, on the other hand, became more competitive. Acquired by Amazon, they lowered some prices and offered customers Amazon Prime specials, discounts and delivery.

This is how companies stay successful. They can reinvent themselves on a dime…..or so it seems. They’re agile.

Fresh Market isn’t the only company in distress. Think about some of the once successful businesses that have closed — or are in the process of closing. You’ve no doubt purchased from them in the past.

If you have kids, you’ve shopped at Toys R’Us. Needed sports gear? You went to Sports Authority. Own a business or simply need to manage your schedule? You had a Palm Pilot. Then maybe a BlackBerry. Searched on the Internet? You used Alta Vista (right, WHO?) And if you’re a Chicagoan like we are, you’re no doubt still angry about the demise of Marshall Field’s.

So how can you avoid being on the short list of doomed businesses?

You certainly don’t want to wait til a crisis hits to start trying to figure out what to do. You need to be constantly vigilant and always proactive. You have to have a plan. And if you’re not sure how to do that, the best way to learn is to look at successful businesses.

Here are four things that successful businesses in highly competitive industries do to stay on top:

  1.  They’re nimble.
    They’ve streamlined the chain of command to make decision-making simpler. They’ve implemented technology solutions to make processes flow better. They’re making use of AI (artificial intelligence) for improved efficiency.They’ve honed communication skills to make meetings shorter, emails simpler and calls briefer.  Amazon comes to mind. Why? Check out how Jeff Bezos likes to run meetings
  2. They’re inventive.
    They’re constantly looking for a better way. To make products more efficiently, to bring a product to market faster, to SELL products to a broader market, to make customers happier. Whatever it takes to stay on top of the competition, a successful company finds a way. Yes, Amazon comes to mind once again. But so does Southwest Airlines, which is always looking for new ways to improve the customer experience. Read about how they do this courtesy of engage.customer.com.
  3. They never sit back on their laurels.
    Successful companies don’t get complacent. They’re not satisfied with status quo. They’re smart enough to know that a savvy competitor can appear almost overnight – with a cooler gadget, a smarter business tool, a glammier spokesperson, an everyone-needs-this must-have, a smoother system.Once Uber was the only game in town. Then Lyft appeared. While Uber is still #1, when a negative news report hits the  airwaves, Lyft gains market share. Uber’s problems in 2017 were a boon for Lyft’s bottom line.

    But Uber management is sound. They’re quick to respond to negative news, and the company continues to hold the    bulk of the ridesharing market.

  4. They’re humble.
    Successful companies take responsibility for their mistakes. They own up to their misdeeds. They ask their shareholders and supporters for forgiveness and promise to do better.

In the past year, we’ve seen far too many cases where this didn’t happen. Take for example, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and Fox News as covered in fortune.com in 2017. Both men had been accused of sexual harassment. More than once. But it wasn’t until advertisers began to bail that Fox did anything in response. And they never said they were wrong. No humble pie here.

So how would your small business rate on the capabilities cited above? You may not compete with big companies, but you can certainly learn from them. Especially from their mistakes.

If we’ve encouraged you to think about this, we’ve written a good post.

Leave a comment

Understanding Customer Care.

Whether you’re a shop owner or a service provider, your customer care will influence how clients feel about you and your products. And those feelings will impact future sales –including whether or not there will BE any.

Customer service with a smile.

We seem to remember the best and worst customer service experiences. For instance, if you go into a store and can’t find a salesperson, odds are you’ll be frustrated. You’ll probably leave without buying anything.

But when you’re warmly greeted by a smiling saleswoman you’re likely to linger and browse around. The more you browse, the more you’ll discover. And the more likely you’ll be to make a purchase…..or two.

We tend to be forgiving — even if we can’t find something we wanted — when we receive good customer service. The fact that we’ve been acknowledged says “they give a damn”. And that feeling is key.

As more and more products and services are discovered and consumed online, face-to-face communication happens less and less. This makes building relationships difficult. The personal touch is gone….replaced by bots and apps.

So how can online retailers build relationships with customers they’ve never met….and never will? Simple, actually. It’s all about communication and customer care.

New Orleans restauranteur, Ella Brennan, who ran the famous (and fabulous) Commander’s Palace, was the queen of customer care. Reminiscing on her recent death, her executive chef said “she understood that business is about how you feel when you walk into a restaurant. You may not recall the quail or the Chardonnay, but you remember a feeling a restaurant gives you.”

A savvy business woman, Brennan made sure her staff provided outstanding customer service. If a customer complained, she responded immediately. She understood customer care, and she will be remembered for making French dining accessible and fun. (Source: Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2018))

Smart companies know that poor customer care can kill a deal….and worse, go viral….quickly spreading the word that you’re a lousy company to do business with. Social media and business rating apps like Yelp make it imperative for companies to stay on their toes. Constantly. Because reputations can be sullied in a heartbeat.

Case in point: Starbucks. Wonder how much business they lost last month after arresting two black men who asked to use the bathroom while they were waiting for a meeting but didn’t buy any coffee. It hit national news immediately and became a full-blown nasty stain on the Starbucks brand.

To deal with the fallout, all locations were closed for mandatory 1/2 day training. For all employees. Stores with closed doors can’t do business, so this was a costly error for Starbucks.

Poor treatment isn’t easily forgiven. Odds are when you think of Starbucks, the racial incident will be top of mind for a long time to come. And all because of the ineptitude of one employee.

How much smarter to make customer care an integral and ongoing part of employee training. It may determine whether you succeed in business or fail.

Leave a comment

Is your website marketing-driven or driving visitors away?

A website is a marketing tool.

Probably one of the priciest in your communications arsenal aside from digital advertising. But digital advertising…..and any other marketing you do….is directed at sending potential new business to your website where, hopefully, you’ll either intrigue the visitor to learn more or make a sale.

What’s your goal for your new website?
This is one of the first questions we ask when working with a new client. Another is: how do you envision this site will build your business? And more importantly, have your figured out how your business will solve a problem for potential customers?

Before we write a single line of code, we need to answer these questions. As specifically as possible.

If you haven’t established clear goals for your website and identified your target market’s pain point, good luck creating content that converts.

You need a better mousetrap.
Let’s suppose you’re a startup. You’ve designed a new and better product than what’s currently on the market. How are you going to convince potential customers that your product really IS better? What are you going to say?

A few things to consider first:

  • Is your marketing plan complete?
  • Do you know who your competition is, what their price points are and where they sell?
  • Do you know their USP (unique selling proposition) – what makes them different and better than the rest of the players?
  • Have you defined your USP? Why should buyers consider your product? How will it solve a problem for your (potential) customer?
  • Do you have a budget?
  • Have you allocated that budget across all your marketing tools? The ones that will help drive business to your website?

You can see where we’re heading. These are important questions that your web development team should ask at your first planning meeting. If they don’t, you may not be happy with the end result.

Developing a website doesn’t happen in a vacuum. A marketing-driven website…the kind you want….is informed by a marketing strategy.

make it easy for visitors to find what they're looking for on your website.
Make it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for.

A successful website does far more than look good.

Just looking good won’t cut it. A successful website has to hit all the bullets on your to-do list. And on ours.

A few of those “musts”. Your website has to:

  • be a spot-on representation of your brand
  • be visually appealing
  • speak in your brand voice
  • engage the visitor
  • immediately address your visitor’s problem, need or pain point
  • be very easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for (UX or user-friendly)
  • speak in authentic and conversational language.

Is your company website marketing-driven and engaging visitors…or driving visitors away?

If you’re not sure, here’s a really good article we found on Harvard Business Review by Mark Bonchek and Vivek Bapat on why you should focus on potential buyers.

It’s well worth your time to read.  Then, if you need help, call us. We’re happy to talk about how we can help you.

Leave a comment