Monday, July 23, 2018

4 Examples of Difficult Business Transparency

Marketers everywhere insist that successful businesses should become more transparent with their audience. After all, people want to do business with those they know, like, and trust. And what better way to accomplish that than by showing your potential customers or clients who you are? 

But transparency encompasses more than just your brand. There are times in your company history when you might have to become transparent with something uncomfortable or something you want to change. But just how far do you go?

What Is Transparency?

Transparency, when done well, is a cultural shift to become more open with customers, clients, and employees. Think of the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The golden ticket allowed one child and a guest to go on a tour of the mysterious factory. What wondrous things they discovered (and a little mayhem, but that’s a topic for another post). When transparency is done well, you can create that same interest in your company.

In 2017, Entrepreneur ran an article entitled “How Transparency Became a Top Priority for Business, and Why You Should Care.” In it, contributor Larry Alton shared an important statistic:

According to a recent study by Label Insight, up to 94 percent of consumers surveyed indicated that they were more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency, while 73 percent said they were willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency.”

Those are impressive reasons to become more transparent.

Adopting a culture of transparency means you make it clear what your business mission, goals, and culture are. It may also include your business history, failings, operations, and performance. However, it does not need to include your “secret sauce.”

When Transparency Is Hard

Transparency is not all about drinking from a chocolate river as mentioned in the movie example above. Just like in that movie, there can be times when transparency is uncomfortable but necessary. Think of how Wonka told the parents they’d be meeting their child at the juicer or the taffy stretching machine. Difficult conversations for the rest of us.

It’s easy to think of the happy things you can to share with your audience to help them get to know you better. Maybe you got a new puppy over the weekend or your child graduated from school. These personal shares make it easier for people to feel connected to you and your business. These are the easy wins. Transparency in social media posts should keep in mind your ideal audience and always provide one of the following themes:

     Educational
     Inspirational
     Entertaining

If the post doesn’t accomplish any of these, even in a liberal way, rethink that post.

But what about the times when you have something difficult to share? It’s important to be transparent at those difficult times too.

Disappointing Past Performance

This may seem like a no-no but there are times when a business gets a bad reputation and must turn it around. To ignore the mistake/blunder would be dishonest. Take what Wells Fargo does in this commercial to earn trust back as an example. Notice, they don’t specifically mention what they did to lose trust. No reason to dwell. Instead, they dive into how they will regain it.

 

Improving or Upgrading Services

Some companies have an issue with lack of quality or they want to offer additional services. They can do this by improving their offerings and showing (transparently) how they are doing it. It’s also wise to adopt a slogan that reflects that change in direction and shows that they are dedicated to making the changes a big part of their business. Winn Dixie adopted the slogan “Getting better all the time” and was specific about listening to its customers as you can see in this video:



Transparent Salaries

Buffer and Whole Foods decided to become transparent with their employees by making salaries public. The idea helps keep salaries relatively equal (per position) and those who are paid more in a specific position have done something to warrant the higher level of pay and thus become role models for other employees. At Buffer, even the co-founder and CEO’s salary is public knowledge.


Transparency and Reviews

There’s no arguing that reviews affect purchasing decisions. Because of this, writing reviews became a popular black market service for some. Many businesses, from writers with books on e-marketplaces to restaurants and hotels, were taking advantage of fake reviews (paid for by the person being reviewed). Some businesses, like Amazon, have cracked down on this shady practice and now label reviews as verified purchases. This form of transparency can benefit your company if you have products and reviews. 

If you want to adopt a culture of transparency at your business, know it’s not an occasional thing. Transparency must flavor your approach to problem-solving even when it’s difficult. You need for customers to know and trust you and you can’t do that by showing yourself as the perpetual perfect hero.



Christina R. Greenteaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.comand the Event Manager Blog.  

She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.


Friday, July 20, 2018

8 Easy Steps to Attracting Your Ideal Customer and Improving Sales

One of the most common mistakes businesses make is wanting to be all things to all customers. Just as in life and friendships, you will never be everyone’s “cup of tea.” 

That’s okay. It’s more than okay. 

Understanding this and attracting your ideal customer is the one way to build loyalty among your clients and provide them with the services and products they need. In personalizing your sales approach you will gain more, not less. Here’s how you can go about doing that:



1.    Decide who your ideal customer is. There is a group (or maybe several groups) that you can help better than any other business. Who are they? Identify them, flesh out details about their demographics including:

     How old are they?
     How much money do they make? Do they have disposable income or are they living check to check?
     What do they do for a living?
     How do they spend their free time?
     What services or products are they loyal to?

2.    Figure out what they need. What is their most pressing issue? How does your business help them solve this?

3.    Analyze what they want? Now that you know what they’re struggling with figure out what they want; what they wish they had even if it’s not in the budget right now. Focus on how you can help them get there. Several banks have used this approach selling the question of what dream can they help you achieve today.

4.    Design marketing campaigns based around the second and third step in this list. Target individual demographics separately. Don’t try to use an all-encompassing solution for the different groups who buy from you. For instance, market to Millennials differently than you do retirees. They have different concerns. Designing your marketing strategy around these groups involves more than just your message. It also affects where and how you’re delivering it. For Millennials, you might turn to Instagram or YouTube. For the older generation, it might be Facebook and direct mail. You need to assess where your clients are so you can implement a strategy to reach them.

5.    Create content that appeals to each group. Yes, your marketing message is content but this step takes it a bit further. Create ebooks or infographics with information that will help your ideal customer. Do video or host events. Understand the group you want to reach and then create content and experiences to reach them best. Ever notice a lot of end-of-life providers host free lunch and learns? That’s because they’re a popular way to reach that demographic.

6.    Create a clear and “doable” call to action (CTA). At the end (and even midway, as appropriate) of all of your helpful content, you’ll want a clear and actionable CTA. The call to action must be the next step in what they’re looking for. For instance, if you’re selling something with a long sales cycle, you don’t want to add a buy-now button to your About Page on your website. About Pages are something most people visit when they want to learn more about you, not at a late stage in the sales cycle. On the other hand, a call to action to learn more about you on an infographic that walks people through the financing process of your product or service is not a good fit either because by that point most people are ready to consider signing with you. They likely already know about you.

7.    Find a way to delight them. Remember when you were figuring out what your ideal customer wanted and needed? Now you want to use that information to make an impression. By this point, you’ve already attracted them with your targeted marketing. They’re already looking into what you have to offer. They’ve scanned your valuable, personalized materials and content. Now, use what you know about them to make an impression. This could be through a targeted email marketing drip campaign or promotional materials that are tied to their wants and needs. But at this stage, you want to kick up your marketing and do something no one else is doing. Maybe that’s a handwritten note or a pop-up event. Use what you know about your ideal customer to surprise and delight them.

8.    Always follow-up. Most salespeople know to follow up but incessant calls from your sales team can get old. You need a way to stay in touch with your ideal customer as they consider doing business with you. You also want to stay in contact with those who have purchased and may purchase again. You can do this through a newsletter or other means of occasional contact. Get their email address. Being connected on social media is not enough. They could opt out of those platforms at any time but for someone to give up email that would be nearly impossible. Getting someone’s email is like getting their home address. It could change but not as often.

Get to work at attracting your ideal customer. They’ll remain more loyal to you and you’ll be more able to solve their problems and suit their needs. You’ll have fewer customer service issues because they are a good fit for your business. Stop trying to appeal to everyone and speak to those you are best suited to help.  






Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.comand the Event Manager Blog. 
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Newbie's Guide to Selecting the Ideal Social Media Platform


There's a lot of information out there about how to use social media for your business but most of those articles assume a certain amount of knowledge on the participant's part. Without that basic knowledge, you could spend a lot of time doing things that aren't helpful for your business. 
Best practices aren't best practices when applied in the wrong scenario or on the wrong platform. To better understand why the platform is so important, let's think about fishing.
Yes, the basics of catching a fish.
You can buy the perfect lure, learn to cast properly, practice constantly, get your permit to fish, and never catch a shark in your bathtub. Where you are fishing is as important as what you use; just as which platform you're onis critical to success in social media for your business.
If you want more sales and customers, you need not only best practices but need to be using them on the right platform for your business. This article will help you decide which social media sites you should be on to reach your ideal customers. 
Once you know that critical information, you can decide how to best spend your time and get the most out of your social media resources.

Statistics on the Most Popular Social Media Platforms 


If you want to be effective in using social media for your business, it is imperative to figure out where your audience is. 
There are a lot of options out there and all of the social media platforms are different. Here's a brief description of the most popular ones but keep in mind if you have a niche audience, there may be private online communities or groups that will help you reach more of them. Before you decide to start posting on any of the sites below, check that your ideal audience is there. You can do this by asking them or doing the research on the average age, gender composition, and other demographic data. This article will help you get started.

Facebook

This is the country's most popular social network with 79% of the US's internet users participating. 75% of male internet users are here. Based on mere numbers, 22% of the world's entire population uses this platform. However, the Facebook algorithm often keeps a majority of your audience from seeing your posts unless you pay for them to be seen. 
According to Statista, Facebook has 164.13 million monthly app users (not factoring in Messenger).

 

Instagram

This visual sharing platform is popular with people under 35 and more women are here than men but it still attracts 32% of the world's internet users on a regular basis, second only to Facebook. If you're wondering what to post, pizza is the most widely Instagrammed food, ahead of steak and sushi.
Monthly app users: 111.54 million 

 

Twitter

Twitter has about 330 million total monthly users on its platform, with a 4% adoption growth from 2017-18. 36% of internet users ages 19-29 are on Twitter, while only 22% of 30-49 use it, and 18% of people between 50-64. Important to note: 30% of Americans who earn over $75,000 a year use Twitter.
Monthly app users: 71.79 million

 

Pinterest

This visual site works as a virtual board in which to pin your favorite pictures, products, quotes, and advice. It's the third-largest site attracting 31% of the world's internet users. 2 million Pinterest posters save something to boards every day but only 7% of total Pinterest pins belong to men. Millennials use Pinterest as much as they use Instagram. 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan or make purchases.
Monthly app users: 56.92 million

Snapchat

This app attracts a younger demographic as seen in the fact that 44% of teen-aged Internet users chose this app above all others, if they could only select one. The site boasts an impressive 187 million daily users. Yet, only 18% of US Internet users use Snapchat leaving a big market that it has yet to capture.
Monthly app users: 53.28 million

 

LinkedIn

Largely a place to share professional accomplishments, this social network has tried to become a spot for thought leadership by encouraging people to publish there. While the average Linkedin user spends 17 minutes a month on the platform, 40% of users claim to use it daily. It's important to note that 70% of users are from outside the US.
Monthly users:  250 million (total)

 

Honorable Mentions for Additional Views

There are a few other sites that are worth mentioning when it comes to building an audience. Look into them to see if your ideal customer is well represented on them. They include:
·     Medium
·     Quora
·     Tumblr
·     Reddit
·     WhatsApp
·     Google Hangouts

Most businesses don't have a lot of time for social media so they want the maximum return on their time investment. In order to achieve that, you want to ensure your ideal customer is on that social space. If not, it doesn't matter how many others are on there. You're still trying to catch a shark in a bathtub. 

Sources:



Christina R. Greenteaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.comand the Event Manager Blog. 
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.