Thursday, April 19, 2018

20 Inexpensive Ways to Surprise and Delight Your Customers

There's a lot of noise out there right now. It's hard for a business to break through. But let's say you do and someone is trying you out for the first time. How can you not only exceed their expectations but delight them in a way they'll be talking about you later. Here are a few ideas on how you can make a big impression:

Making a big impression on a new customer means doing something that stands out, something they haven't experienced before. If that sounds costly, know that it doesn't have to be.
While each business is different, and you should analyze your own to see how these ideas or even better ones fit in, most businesses present these types of opportunities that can be customized to make an impact on your customers. Things like improving the wait or surprising them in little ways are particularly effective.
Try these ideas for your businesses:
1.   Add a surprise to what they're buying. This could be a sample or a quick tissue-paper wrap inside the bag. When they open their bag, they'll be thrilled to find that special something.
2.   Add an invitation/instructions for them to upload a picture of themselves and their new item or share a pic on your social media platform of choice with a specified hashtag. Give them a future discount for doing it.
3.   Offer free samples in store,such as a warm (or cold) beverage or warm cookies. Not only are those special treats when shopping but they make your business smell delicious.
4.   Engage them in conversation and then make a suggestion for something in your business that you think they may like based on what you know about them.
5.   Have a smile for everyone and make them feel welcome.
6.   See every customer as someone you can learn from. It's amazing what you can discover when you adopt this attitude.
7.   Ask if they'd like to sign up for receiving notices about sales and coupons. Then send them a thank-you postcard with a discount. Send them one for a friend too.
8.   Make the exterior and interior of your business warm and inviting. Setting has a lot to do with how long someone stays and browses.
9.   Email them to check on their product. Are they enjoying it? Do they have any questions? Don't ask them to fill out a survey. These things are getting too widespread. They are now detracting from customer experience. Now even calling your credit card company with a name change elicits a survey.
10.Walk them out. If they just made a big purchase with you and you can spare the time (meaning there's no line at your cash register), walk them to the door like you would a guest. Thank them again for their business. Give them your card, if they don't already have it.
11.Compliment them or their selection. Or both.
12.Hide a fun fortune or inspirational quote in their package.
13.Offer a loyalty program that you keep track of for them.Punch cards, key chains, and mobile apps can be tiresome to customers when they need a unique one for every business they patronize. Instead, keep track of it for them.
14.If you offer discounts like AAA or AARP, ask them if they have the membership. Since asking about AARP can get you into hot water, you may want to instead tell them the discount programs you offer and let them share with you which they belong to. 
15.If you see someone trying to decide between two things, why not offer them a discount if they get both? It's the type of thing they'll remember and might inspire them to buy more each time.
16.Throw something in for free. This is different than the little surprise mentioned earlier. For customers who spend quite a bit with you, give them a little something free. You can keep a handful of things at the register and offer them their choice as a thank you.
17.Tell a story about the item. Purchases are generally emotional things. Stories can help with that.
18.Have treats for their special loves. Keep dog treats and treats for kids on hand. Offering thee sorts of things can keep people shopping longer.
19.Hand out a fresh flower to everyone who comes into your business. 
20.Always explain next steps. The next step might be as easy as telling them to go home and enjoy their purchase and come back to see you soon or reexplaining the delivery process. Whatever the next step is in the customer relationship, make sure they are clear on it. Your website has a call to action. You want to leave them with the next step in your business relationship. 
Finally, it's not hard to make an impression on a customer. Often, it's the little things that make the biggest differences. These suggestions should give you some ideas of how to delight your customers. Now look over these and brainstorm how you can make them an even better fit for your business.

Christina R. Green is a writer and speaker who helps small businesses and chambers reach their audiences through content (without exclamation points). Her advice on crafting a memorable business story and creating content that resonates with customers has appeared in Associations North magazine, Association Now, and Event Manager's Blog. She is a regular blogger on

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Cheapest Ways to Advertise (and still get good results)

Your business will never bring in enough revenue if people don't know about you. Most businesses don't fail because their service or product is inferior to everything else on the market. They fail because no one knows about them or they don't differentiate themselves from the competition.

But it doesn't matter how good your offerings are or how loved they could be. If people don't know about them, your business will never succeed.
Enter advertising.
Some businesses think that social media has replaced advertising.
It hasn't replaced it but it has changed it. People don't want clever taglines anymore. 
But you still need to get their attention.
If you don't have the budget for Super Bowl ads (or any other major media presentation), then you'll like these budget-friendly ideas.

Social Media Paid Ads

In the beginning of social media, businesses could post and get seen. No longer. These days without engagement, only a fraction of your audience will see your posts. Even when they chose to follow you!
As dismaying as this may seem, social media paid advertising is one of the least expensive forms of advertising out there. It's not as cheap as it once was but it does have some very good targeting options that can help ensure you will reach people who are most likely in the market for your services or products.

Google Remarketing

Ever notice that item you were just checking on Amazon appears all over the Internet afterward? That's not some sort of sign. That's remarketing or retargeting.It allows you to present paid ads to people who have already shown an interest in your site. Those are the folks who are at least remotely interested in what you have to offer. Since purchases are an emotional buy, "following" people until they make an emotional decision often benefits you.
While you're considering this avenue, don't forget about Facebook's pixelthat can present targeted information to people who have visited your website in the past.


Websites with banner ads often are inexpensive from an advertising perspective. Look for industry experts with websites or online personal pages (like blogs or private online communities) where your ideal demographic hangs out. If they have ads on their site, ask them about their ad policy. They may also have newsletter ad opportunities or may accept advertorials/sponsored content. While the latter falls more under marketing, it can be very valuable in reaching your ideal audience. 
Ask for details about the website's demographics and click-throughs and what you get for your advertising money.

Finally, it's important to understand that hard sells aren't appreciated by anyone. Clever slogans may get noticed in Super Bowl ads and commercial awards shows but your customers are looking for sources that will help them know, like, and trust the person they're buying from. You need your advertising to be focused on helping and not disrupting your audience. You do this by answering questions and solving problems that they care about. 

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,, 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 story telling to organizations everywhere.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A strong economy begins with a strong, well-educated workforce.

Assist the Heart of Wisconsin on educating our students on the opportunities available in Central Wisconsin. A partnership with the Heart of Wisconsin’s Student Bus Tour Program will allow our students to get a first-hand look at the various industries in our area. Let’s empower our students and allow them to succeed in their future careers here in Central Wisconsin.

Below are the various industries the students will tour in 2018




Protective Services


Here is how you can assist the Heart of Wisconsin to educate our students…
Sponsor the Students - $25.00 per student
Sponsor the Tour - $150.00
Be a Tour Stop Partner - $250.00

Interested in partnering with the Heart of Wisconsin?
Contact Kerry Krambeer, Director of Leadership & Talent Development or 715-422-4856

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow

 belongs to those who prepare for it today.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

6 Ways to Improve Customer Trust

People buy from those they know, like, and trust. “Knowing” comes from marketing and advertising. “Like” is cultivated by showing potential customers your human and endearing side. But how in the world do you help someone with minimal interaction with you and your business, trust you?

It’s not as hard as you may think.

1.    Be Transparent in Your Copy

Stay away from extreme superlatives—biggest, cheapest, most awesome ever. These claims make you sound like a disputable business and often are hard to believe. If you want to make an “-est” claim because you truly believe it, consider a guarantee to back up your word such as “cheapest price on this item in town or we’ll refund you the difference.” Someone who’s willing to make that claim must have confidence in it.

2.    Work at Getting More Reviews

People believe reviews written by strangers much more than they believe marketing copy. Focus at least part of your marketing on improving the numbers of reviews you have and their quality. Ask customers to review you. Make it easy for them to do so by providing URLs to the sites that are most helpful to your business/industry. If you’re not sure how to do this, The Referral Engine by John Jantsch is a good place to start.

3.    Answer Bad Reviews in a Helpful Way

You won’t always receive excellent reviews. Just take a look at the site Trip Advisor where someone complained because a beach in Thailand was too “sandy.” Even the best businesses must deal with illogical critics on occasion.
But instead of getting angry or telling them there’s nothing you can do about that, remember everyone who wrote a review gave up moments of their lives to do it. Thank them for sharing that with you and then see if there’s a solution you can help with. If not, suggest something they might try instead.
After all, you are answering this review as much for the person who wrote it as you are for the people who read it afterward.

4.    Answer Questions Even If It Doesn’t Always Benefit You

One of the biggest ways to make a truthful impression on someone is to answer their question honestly even if it doesn’t benefit your business. For instance, let’s say you run a handyman business. The homeowner asks if you can perform a specific service. While you know you can, you also know it will take you much longer and be costlier if they have you do it over someone who specializes in it.
You can take the work, or you can explain that while you offer many quality services, they’d be best off using a specific professional and offer them a referral. The next time they need a handyman, you can bet they’ll be calling you because your truth telling just saved them money even though it cost you business. That type of truthfulness makes a very favorable impression.

5.    Create Mutually Beneficial Relationships

Unless you are a one-person business, your employees are likely the ones dealing directly with your customers the most. You need to ensure they feel motivated by your mission. Taking the time to improve your company culture can have great effects on your customer outreach just as helping your customers understand your mission and why you do what you do will make them want to buy from you.

6.    Join the Chamber

Your local chamber is the voice of business and most customers see it on the same level as the Better Business Bureau. A company that is willing to invest in its community is one that will be around to honor its guarantees.
Today, people want more than a competitive price. They want to believe in the company they are buying from. One way to sway public opinion about your business is to improve trust.

Are you a member of the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce? Take advantage of the member benefits! Click here to learn more...

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,, and AssociationTech. She is a regular blogger at and the Event Manager Blog.

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

Monday, January 15, 2018

Rock Your Next Business Expo with These 10 Tips

Whether you’re attending a local chamber business expo or a trade industry show, you want to showcase your best self. Of course, that means sending a good team that represents your business well, having an enticing set up, and giving away something worthwhile in the eyes of the attendees.

But what can you do to really stand out from the crowd at your next business expo?
Here are a few things you might not have thought of:

10 Tips to Rock Your Next Business Expo

    1.    Attend to needs. No one can listen to your business spiel if they need something physical. Often, that shows up in the form of rest needed for tired feet, a cool drink of water to satiate thirst, or the extremely important…charge for their dying phone. Be an oasis in the midst of the business expo by providing for all of the attendees’ basic needs. When you give something to someone or assist them in some way, they’ll feel obligated to listen to your pitch; at least until their phone is charged.

   2.    Tell them why they should come. Every business has marketed their expo appearance by saying something along the lines of “Stop by and see us at booth 444.” This boring exercise has never driven any participant to action. Instead, give them a reason to come see you. Get creative.

   3.    Contact existing customers you know will be there. Invite existing customers to stop by for a thank you gift. This makes your customers feel good and ensures people will stop by to talk to you. Also, other attendees will see how you treat your customers and want to be a part of that.

   4.    Reach out to attendees before the event and give them something valuable. If you’re able to secure an attendee list and can contact them, instead of just sending a brochure and letting it get lost in the mess of mail they receive, send them something valuable like Business Expo Tips or a discount for your services. (This is especially helpful if you sell something they could use at the show like business cards.

   5.    Use the show hashtag early and often. Share helpful information on social media using the show hashtag. The show host will likely share your content.

   6.    Ask how you can help. If you have some extra time, ask if you can help the show organizers set up or tear down. One expo allowed a vendor to run check-in wearing their branded apparel. The vendor team was the first group you saw at check-in and what you saw was them being helpful. It made an impression and they never even mentioned what company they were from.

   7.    Tell your story. Create a video that tells your story and set up a little area out of the way where people can learn more about you without being pounced on by salespeople.

   8.    Select a prime spot. Location is very important at a business expo. Prime spots include near the food, on the end of an aisle, at the corners, or at the entrance. Find out how your trade show assigns locations and then work it accordingly to get a good one.

   9.    Look for complementary services. If prime locations aren’t an option, look for businesses that cater to the same demographic that you do. For instance, if you are a “mommy and me” business, being located among senior citizen homes is not ideal. However, you would do very well near a toy company or diaper service booth.

  10. Choose the comfortable upgrades. Trade shows and business expos often have a lot of options and upgrading to the luxury ones provides benefit to your attendees. For instance, if you must rent carpeting from the show, select the heaviest padding. After a long day of standing on your feet, you’ll enjoy it and so will the attendees.
These tips can help you be more successful at your next show. Just keep in mind no one likes a hard sell anymore. Look for ways you can be of service and you’ll quickly make a name for yourself at the business expo.

Upcoming Business Expo for the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber...
MARDI GRAS Business Expo February 13th, 2018

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,, and AssociationTech. She is a regular blogger at and the Event Manager Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.