fbpx
grow your small business in raleigh

Your Things To-Do-Before-November Marketing Checklist

You’ve likely already run the numbers and know what you want to add to your bottom line before 2019 comes to an end.

Here are a few things to make sure you’ve done, or are doing, to maximize every chance to be seen, and shopped, by customers.

   1. Review all things Google

Google has over 90% of all online traffic between Google My Business (Map Listing & info), YouTube (owned by Google), and It’s Chrome Search function. 

-Make sure you’re Google My Business listing is kept current with photos, holiday hours, and even specials! FREE listings on your GMB page will show up as special announcements when searched in maps. If you aren’t sure you’ve completed this amazing free set-up, follow instructions here: www.gybo.com/mybusiness

-If you have instructional, unboxing, behind-the-scenes, or other short and value-adding videos, now is the time to launch a YouTube channel. If you don’t, drop me an email and I can send you some pointers on making some quickly. You don’t want all of your YouTube videos to be completely unpolished but there are some hacks to get a few up and running that you can improve upon later.

-Have someone review your website. If you don’t have one, now is the time to get one created. EVERYONE needs a place with the information they own and control apart from using third-party methods. Check for spelling or grammatical errors, any outdated information, and any missing information that could keep your customers from finding you. Also, run a speed test, the link is here:

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

-And please make sure your Google Analytics account is set-up and working. The data you will gain from the insights GA provides can save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours trying to hone a target market.

 2. Shore Up Social Media

Remember Social Media is a contact sport…the word ‘social’ is first. To be social, you need to create a consistent presence to be perceived as truly seeking to connect with others.  Simply posting about what you want from them (buy this, like/share this) doesn’t create value for them. Make sure to follow the best practice of at least three social/giving value posts for every one ‘salesy’ post. Here are other tips that will help.

-Pixels are important. Make sure you’ve installed the Facebook Pixel on your website. Information on the pixel here. You may also wish to add the Pinterest pixel if you utilize Pinterest for web traffic (and you should be if you aren’t).  Although it isn’t technically a pixel, Google tags are extremely important for retargeting as well.

-Set up a schedule to post frequently on the platforms best suited for your business. Most every Business-to-Consumer business can gain customers through Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Most Business-to-Business companies can gain awareness and form relationships through Linkedin and Twitter. And many can use several combinations for different audiences and purposes.

-Don’t forget that customer service help through social media or website is preferred by 70% of consumers so assign someone to frequently monitor your accounts for customer comments and respond swiftly.

-Posting information about the ideal audience for a specific gift or service, offering to gift wrap or shipping, and letting your followers know that instructional videos or quality guarantees are included with your purchase recommendations, can greatly increase your sales opportunities.

-Add any in-store events or community service events to the events tab of your Facebook page. 

 3. Email Expertly

-Hopefully, you are currently using an email marketing service provider (Mailerlite, Constant Contact, etc) to keep in contact with your customers and prospects. 

If you are, make sure to send them messages slightly more frequently (not more than once per week for most businesses) if your inventory and opportunities to share creative gift-giving ideas, holiday recipes, invites to in-store events, etc increase. 

-Don’t be as worried about your ‘open rate’ during the holiday season. Statistically, 13% of people will take action on an email from a trusted sender if they can use the product or service, even when they don’t open the email. The subject line and the ‘from’ line will bring you back to their minds as an option.

-If time allows, track the purchases or types of purchases your customers make and use this information to segment them even more in your email lists. For example, someone who loves hats could receive an additional email quarterly about your hat selection in addition to the general information they receive. The more targeted your information can be to each recipient, the greater the impact and the more loyalty you’ll receive.

If you aren’t yet using an email system, don’t delay. I use Mailerlite and Constant Contact but there are many options available. 

-Add a way for people to join your email group ( I recommend calling this a VIP group, NEVER call it a list) to your website, your social media profiles and platforms, and in-store. 

-Offer an incentive for people to want to receive emails from you. This could be an initial 10% off coupon, the opportunity to be a VIP (access to sales earlier, an invitation to events, etc) or something else that will be of enough perceived value to have them eagerly give you their email address to receive it.

-Ask every person in your business/on the phone with you to be a part of the ‘group’ and set up an auto-responder to fulfill the coupon, or send some helpful information with their thank you and confirmation emails.

I hope these tips and reminders have been helpful. Happy Holiday Profits!

Facebook isn’t ruining Main Street-But small business reliance on Facebook is

I read this post (Facebook’s fall from grace could drag Main Street down with it) on the national NBC news site today and I really felt compelled to share it with a few comments. Facebook is still a VERY powerful and VERY inexpensive way to generate leads for a variety of businesses, not just small ones. Our clients average lower cost per lead than on most other if not all other platforms or avenues they use. The article talks about the possible ‘2-3%’ defection of folks from the site in light of privacy concerns…this pales in relation to the exodus from Television, Newspaper, Broadcast Radio, and almost every other form of advertising currently. Young people leaving the platform is discussed, but those young folks are the least loyal to brands or platforms of any generation and the generation that is most actively using Facebook, 35+, has the most spending power. 

 

“I meet so many people who only communicate with, or know how to contact their clients through, Facebook. Not a good idea. What happens if they suspend your account? “

I feel so strongly about this because it illustrates a point that I have taught for years and continue to hammer into every class I teach and every client I have: OWN your own platform and OWN your own data. 

Have a website that you own…meaning WordPress or another open source option. That is the only thing you control, that you can move from host to host, that you alone (aside from breaking laws) decide what content you want to produce. Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and especially the domain builders (GoDaddy etc) are not your sites…you don’t control the content you can or can’t add, the layout of your site, or the hosting. 

It is also a stark reminder to have an email service provider (ESP) meaning a Constant Contact, MailChimp, iContact, etc, NOT your personal email address, so you own your communication channel. I meet so many people who only communicate with, or know how to contact their clients through, Facebook. Not a good idea. What happens if they suspend your account?

 Sorry for the soapbox but I hate to see businesses, especially small businesses, end up in a bind they could have prevented. I want to see all of our local small businesses thrive.

5 Sales Lessons Revisited from the WFU Business Competition

In 2016 I had the privilege and pleasure to serve as a judge at the 26th Annual Marketing Summit at Wake Forest University’s School of Business. The student-run case competition is an annual event sponsored by Wake Forest University’s School of Business and Center for Retail Innovation and this year was partnered with the Inmar Analytics Summit. As part of the ongoing efforts to support careers in retail, NCRMA sponsored the undergraduate MVP award winner and that is how I came to be a part of this wonderful experience.

I really enjoyed reading my fellow judge Leslie Kraemer’s, of birdsong gregory, excellent post titled ‘5 things I learned as a judge at WFU’s Marketing Analytics Summit.’ She summed up the content of the presentations well and pulled out the same points that I found interesting and informative. She also echoed not only my sentiment but that of everyone who had the opportunity to participate in the Summit, that The Center for Retail Innovation at Wake Forest University’s School of Business is doing wonderful things for the Retail Industry and the young professionals entering it.

Leslie was right when she said judging is hard. We had to score and then rank teams who were presenting case solutions to incentivize shoppers in grocery stores and pharmacies to use mobile devices. The students had complex data from Inmar to analyze and dissect as well as multiple other resources of their own to employ. Our objective was to judge them on their solution’s value to customers, its utility to retailers, and ease of habituation. 

These teams are the best and brightest from all over the U.S and the world and so the competition was stiff. I am pleased with the outcome and judged fairly and objectively based on the criteria we were given. But as they say, “when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail” …and as a salesperson I find myself constantly reflecting on the presentations I judged as the sales pitches they ultimately were.

These are some basic sales lessons that I was reminded of from observing and judging:

1-No one wants to be sold, but everyone wants to buy.
2-Lead with a connection.
3-Enjoy the process.
4-Know when to stop selling.
5-Never assume what a customer will buy.

My first sales manager imparted these words of wisdom to me and they are true and timeless. The teams all used complex data sets, secondary research and marketing analytics equations that I couldn’t begin to explain to support the recommendations in their presentations.

Their objective was clear: Develop a plan using data to support your recommendations and projections. They were using data to convince us to buy their particular plan of action to reach the goal, but they weren’t always creating in us a desire to buy it. There is a difference between creating a presentation with enough data to convince someone to purchase a product or a service and having a presentation that makes them want to buy your product or service.
The difference in purchase motivation and emotion is reflected in loyalty to the seller and recommendations/referrals of the seller moving forward.

We weren’t told which colleges were represented by which teams during judging to ensure that we didn’t subconsciously favor one over the other. But the teams distinguished themselves from the minute they entered the auditorium. Some shook each judge’s hand and told us their names, some used props during their introductions, and some started their presentations with humor. We looked them in the eye, smiled at them, we knew some of their names, we felt connected with them, and that made it harder to not “buy” (AKA vote) any of them out of the competition.

It is the reason that online shopping will never replace an in-store experience. As human beings, we want to feel a connection when we purchase or agree to do business. We like having something in common; a hometown, a pet, a child of similar age, etc. with someone. Connecting makes us more trusting, and trust makes us buy. Always form a connection before you attempt a transaction.

I can’t even begin to imagine how nervous those students must have been. Big money and bragging rights for them and their universities hinged on those precious 20 minutes they had in front of us. Some of them never reached a level of comfort during their presentation that allowed us, the potential customer, to relax either. Sales is a tough business. Many salespeople exist on commission and feel pressure to make a deal, but a customer can sense an anxious salespersonAnxiety in a salesperson creates doubt in a buyer and doubt creates a buyer who won’t commit. 

You must find a way to convey to your prospective customer that you enjoy your product, that you enjoy the maintenance of the product/service and that you enjoy being of service to them. They want to buy from someone who obviously has confidence in what they’re doing, they don’t want to be sold by someone who isn’t sincerely meeting their needs.

The teams had a lot of points they were required to cover during their timed presentations. They had to review the current state of mobile use in grocers/pharmacies, show us the data used to produce that snapshot, develop a recommended solution, again use data to support that recommendation, and then show us their implementation plan and financial analysis.
They spent varying amounts of time on these key elements and since they had practiced and had a very specific time limit, being able to adjust on the spot was nearly impossible for them. This meant that while we sometimes wanted to hear more about a particular thing or much less about others, we sat through the presentation as it was practiced with our reaction to any portions having no impact on the time spent on them.

Fortunately most sales people are not working with an actual timer so they have the opportunity to constantly tweak their presentation based on the reactions they are receiving from their prospect. Two things to remember when talking to your potential customers: 1-When they agree to buy you need to STOP TALKING, and 2-If they aren’t buying you need to STOP TALKING. 

Sales people who enjoy the process tend to get excited when their prospect becomes their customer, leading them to continue to sell to someone who has already made a decision. You don’t want to say anything that could possibly cause them to reconsider or give them time to develop any buyer’s remorse, so save your additional information until after the ink has dried.  But if you’re talking and the prospect isn’t asking questions, nodding or seemingly engaged, you aren’t moving the relationship or the sale forward.  Regroup and ask a question to gauge their interest and if nothing else, leave them with a positive impression of you personally. You will be surprised at the referrals you will receive from folks who just didn’t want or need your product, but liked your approach and told their friends and family.

One of the areas on which we judged the presentations was the economic and implementation feasibility of the plan. Several of the teams had large front-end investment requirements for the success of their recommendations. One of the teams had an implementation plan in multiple stages over multiple years, during which time their technology could become obsolete.

We questioned both of these in their Question and Answer periods and some answers were better than others. Some answered that they had prepared their budget based on the company’s gross sales, not necessarily on what they actually needed. Some felt their huge budgets were representative of the best solution. One team admitted their implementation time was long but were afraid that it was too big of a risk to ask for it to be faster. Remember it is your job as the salesperson to prepare for your customer the very best solution to his problem. It is his responsibility to decide with what solution he is willing to live.

Never make a recommendation based on what you think you can sell whether it be higher or lower than it should be. I’ve seen customers shopping alongside me who swore they weren’t going to spend over a certain amount, but who walked out of a store an hour later with twice that amount. As long as what you propose is a realistic and practical solution to the customer’s problem, the price and time to implement is totally up to them.