sep-16

4 Alternate Ways to Promote Your Business0

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

Marketing, advertising, and finding innovative ways to promote your business are all part of a strategy to acquire new customers. If you don’t market, you probably won’t gain much more business – and new customers and more sales are something every business needs.

In a traditional sense, there are lots of ways to advertise your business, and you probably feel like you are doing all of these regularly. However, with so much competition, you need to find some ways to make your brand stand out and ensure your current and prospective customers want to do business with you instead of one of your competitors. Take a look at these 4 alternate ways to promote your business:

Build and market a mobile game.

Get your game created and start marketing it right away – the marketing part is essential to its success. If you don’t tell anyone about the game, how will people play it? A marketing strategy is the key to ensure you succeed in this highly competitive marketing landscape. So go ahead and share the news on a blog or via social media accounts. Include news about it on your website and even in a press release. You’ll want to make various call-to-actions for different networks such as videos or banners, too. While creating a mobile game may seem daunting at first, remember that it’s simpler than ever to create a mobile game, and the payoff can be huge.

Business cards.

While this one is obvious, a lot of people still run a business and don’t have their own business cards. This is the age of encouraging people to “follow me on Twitter” or “like my Facebook page” — but what if the person forgets your business name before they have the chance?

There are many reasons business cards still matter – in fact, they are ideal because you can hand them to people and they will have all of your information right at their fingertips, literally. There are some business owners who tend to feel that we are in the digital age, so business cards are old-fashioned. However, there are lots of situations where a business card is much more convenient.

Sponsorship.

Many people’s minds go straight to large corporations/brands at the thought of sponsorships, but it’s actually feasible for small businesses, too. Focus on promoting your business at a local level. While something extravagant may not be affordable, you can still find ways to effectively use sponsorship with some creativity.

Think about why businesses turn to sponsorships in the first place—to get the name of the business out there and let people know it exists.  If you own a small pet supply shop, you wouldn’t want to hold a bake sale, but instead think along the lines of a local pet show so people who attend learn all about your site and your business – and hopefully remember you when they need to make their next purchase.

Create local awareness.

It’s ideal to gain coverage in local newspapers, websites, and trade magazines to increase name recognition and inform people about your business.  Don’t feel like you have to hire an expensive PR firm to help you – there are ways small businesses can do some PR on their own.

First, research publications that cover local business – or your industry. Once you know the writers and publications that cover stories, craft a pitch that will pique their interest of our business.  Find ways to explain how your business impacts the local economy, and it’s likely the publication will want to cover a story on you.

Marketing your small or new business is vital to its success, but doing so doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg and take up a big chunk of your time. Savvy entrepreneurs can utilize these ways to increase visibility and drive customer acquisition to take their small business to the next level.

What are some ways you market your small business?

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for ChamberofCommerce.com, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and contributing to a number of publications on the web. Megan can be reached at megan@chamberofcommerce.com.
Website: www.chamberofcommerce.com

Photo credit: http://www.instantshift.com/2015/05/25/ways-to-promote-your-business/

Feb 16

6 Little Things You Can Do to Make Your Business Shine0

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

If you want to make your business stand out, that doesn’t mean you have to make big changes. Sometimes the littlest things can make a significant difference. Don’t procrastinate when it comes to the tiny tweaks that can make a positive impact on your business – make the things you were waiting to do tomorrow happen today. Make the changes happen now and don’t push off doing the things that can help make your business stand out. Here are 6 tips to help you make effective changes to your marketing efforts and improve your business.

Discover the features of a strong website.
Every website should be one of a kind. However, there are certain features that many of the best websites have in common. Choose a design that is clear and tasteful and one that makes it easy to figure out what the next step is for customers. Your website is the chance for you to communicate effectively with your customers’. Use simple visual themes over busy graphics so your customer’s eye goes where you want him to go. Remember that your website is part of your marketing program — so make it strong.

Integrate your email marketing with your social media efforts.
Email and social media are both vital parts of many marketing plans- they’re just two different avenues to reach your customers. If you are having trouble with either method, the solutions may be getting them to work with each other. Shareaholic says that Facebook is the number one referral traffic source for websites. However, email has a lot of perks too. Instead of turning this into a social media marketing versus email match, work to integrate the two methods so they actually help each other (and help your business). There are many ways you can become the smartest internet marketer of 2016 and integrating email and social media tops that list.

Improve your sales funnel.
What is a sales funnel? It is the process people go through as they purchase products or services from your business. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes through the process to be able to improve your sales funnel. It’s ideal to shorten the sales cycle to quicken the sales process – so you need to understand the buyer’s perception of time. No matter how good a business’ product may be, the ability to guide customers through the sales funnel to bring in revenue can be the difference between success and failure. Time is a scarce commodity, so make it a point to figure out how to ramp up the buyer’s sense of urgency.

Conquer your fear of writing your business plan.
Fear. It is one of life’s greatest sources of regrets. It can hold business owners back from doing many things – but you should not allow that to happen. If you are thinking of starting your own business, get over your fear of writing your business plan. Know that you will make mistakes – all business owners do, but hopefully you will have more successes than failures. Keep that in mind.

Overcome barriers to creativity.
Innovation is an important part of running a business. However, barrier to creativity come up on occasion, so it’s crucial to think creatively through all stages of business growth. It’s easy to slip into bad decision habits that limit business, but work hard to keep your business thinking creative.

Take the occasional sabbatical.
From time to time, it can be beneficial for you and your business if you take a deep breath and step back from your day-to-day tasks. This can help you gain a fresh perspective and help rejuvenate you for the future. Step away and press the reset button from time to time. Whether you take a staycation, enjoy a break outdoors, go to the spa, or learn something new – step away and enjoy the power of the pause.

It’s normal for the optimism and energy to subside after the newness of a business wears off. However, a successful business needs to be nurtured and grown in the right way in order to meet your expectations. The right strategies and efforts will pay off one hundredfold if you stick to them – get ready to see your business shine.

What small changes have you made in your business to help it stand out?

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for ChamberofCommerce.com, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and contributing to a number of publications on the web. Megan can be reached at megan@chamberofcommerce.com.
Website: www.chamberofcommerce.com

Photo Credit – Shutterstock

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Get It Together! Marketing and Sales Collaboration That WORKS0

Dec 15

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

Once upon a time, the business world operated in silos. The accounting department worked in its own silo, while the human resources department worked in a separate silo. Sales and marketing teams also had unique silos. Everyone worked independently and everyone seemed happy – until conflict arose.

Today, more businesses recognize the distinct problem with this setup: each department is working toward a common goal, yet no one is communicating.

The problem with organizing your business in silos goes deeper than lack of communication (although that’s a pretty big deal in any organization). When conflicts arise, the other departments are quick to point fingers. This is especially true of sales and marketing departments. Too often, teams hear the rallying cry of, “but the others don’t get it!” Sales teams fail to see the value in marketing, while marketers see salesmen as lazy.

Instead of listening to what the other department has to say and then collaborating toward a solution to benefit both people, the two teams bicker.

Sales and Marketing Don’t Have to Go Head to Head

All this bickering is stealing from your company’s bottom line. Instead of finding a positive solution to honor the common goal of growing the company, the two teams debate who is right. It’s unproductive…but it doesn’t have to work this way.
Smart companies today realize the problems of communication breakdown between sales and marketing teams. It’s costing them money. If your company is tired of hearing the two teams whine about the other’s performance, it’s time to bring these groups together. Here’s how:

Clarify Qualified Leads

Many sales teams believe the leads coming through aren’t qualified so they’re a waste of time. This is an easy fix. To help the marketing department bring in higher qualified leads, ask each department to define what a qualified lead looks like.
Then, pair the results side by side and consolidate the information. Where is there overlap? Where are the gaps? Whittle away until you reach a consensus between both departments about what a qualified lead looks like.

Collaborate on Content

Sales teams pound the pavement talking to potential customers. They hear more objections than anyone else in the company and they know what the market is looking for.
This is valuable information for marketing teams.
When sales teams can express these objections and define current market trends, the content created for marketing materials becomes far more compelling. The sales team’s job becomes easier and your business starts attracting more people because you “get it.”

How to Get Buy In From Both Departments

The trick to break away from the silo mentality and encourage healthy collaboration between these two departments is showing the benefits of working together.

For sales teams, working together means:
● Higher qualified leads
● Better resources to attract new customers
● More opportunities to reach potential leads
For marketing teams, working together means:
● Having an ear to the ground to know what people are saying instead of having to guess
● Ideas for content creation that drive success by overcoming objections before the customer voices them
● More successful marketing campaigns based on improved communication

Bridging the Gap

It’s time to say “so long” to outdated business concepts. To succeed in business today, your company must bridge the gap between sales and marketing. When you use your CRM to manage collaborative teams, you make it easier and faster to share information. Break away from the silo approach in your business. Start seeing bigger results with stronger teamwork across departments.

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for ChamberofCommerce.com, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and contributing to a number of publications on the web. Megan can be reached at megan@chamberofcommerce.com.

Image credit

Website: www.chamberofcommerce.com

The Art Of Marketing – May 25, 20150

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The Art of Marketing – Metro Toronto Convention Centre
May 25, 2015

What to EXPECT why ATTEND

This one day conference features five internationally renowned bestselling authors and thought leaders, who will share an exciting blend of cutting edge thinking and real world experience on today’s most critical marketing issues. Don’t miss out on your chance to gain a competitive advantage and network with over 1,500 of Canada’s most influential marketers.

Featuring:

Gene Simmons
Charlene Li
Dr. Robert Cialdini
Nir Eyal
Brian Wong

Develop answers to the questions currently facing your organization, The Art of Marketing will provide a clearer understanding of how marketing has changed, what role it now plays in the buying decision, its impact on your business and ultimately how the consumer views and interacts with your brand in a crowded marketplace.

As a reader of The Pipeline, you can save $50 per single ticket and $100 per ticket for groups of 3 or more, by using Promo Code:RB22, or click here.

 

Tips to Use Your Business Differentiators to Increase Your Sales3

April 15

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

One great way to make your business rise to the top is to focus on what makes it different from the competition. What you do with that realization can make your business. Get more out of your selling time and learn why your business is different from the competition — and why your differentiators matter to your customers.

There isn’t a single business out there that can thrive by selling products at a reasonable price exclusively. Here are five tips for integrating your differentiators into your everyday sales.

1. Understand your business differentiators and how they benefit customers.
Even if you’re selling a service or product in a competitive space, there is always something that makes your business stand apart from others.

Think about the anti-aging market. How does a company make its skincare line stand apart from the other ones out there? While price is important, hone in on what else there is to offer customers. How can you help them? What can your products do that other skincare products can’t?

As a business owner, you need to focus on your value-added difference and that will help distinguish your business from all of the others like it. It’s also vital to know and communicate to your customers what makes your business one of a kind. Make sure you can explain to your customers what impact your differentiators have on them. Focus and advocate for those differentiators – this is one of many ways to attract more new business.

2. Understand your competition and how to sell against them.
To help refine your own differentiators, it is helpful to grasp what your competitor’s differentiators are too. Get to know their strengths and their weakness. It’s important to understand the ladder – it can help you can step up your game in those areas. If you do lose a sale to the competition, go ahead and be brave: ask why that prospect chose to do business with them instead of you.

3. Always have integrity.
In a recent study by The Institute of Business Ethics, it was found that companies displaying a commitment to ethical conduct outperform companies that do not display ethical conduct. No one trusts or wants to do business with a salesperson that is dishonest and stomps all over competitors in an over-the-top sales pitch. Stay true to your business core values – and to yourself. Avoid highlighting the competition’s negatives – just be better about explaining your positives. Selling isn’t an effortless business, but a salesperson with integrity – someone who does the right thing at all times – is a massive differentiator and goes a long way to creating a compelling experience for their customers. Building a reputation of integrity takes years – but it only takes a few seconds to lose.

4. Integrate your differentiators into your marketing messages.
As you develop a marketing platform, make sure your differentiators play a big role in it. Your sales and marketing operations should be ingrained and clear so your customers can plainly see why you are the business he or she should chose to support.

5. Ask — and listen to — your customers’ wants and needs.
Your customers are the ones who can really help you figure out how to succeed in the business world. What matters to them? For a moment, step outside of your business box and look at it from a customer’s point of view. This can help you change your sales pitch and marketing message to focus on what exactly will help you seal the sales deal.
There are a lot of great businesses that offer good products and services. In order to make your business stand apart from all of the others out there, always remember to operate with integrity. Take the time to understand your differentiators and keep those at the forefront of your mind. Always listen to your customers and focus on what they want and need, not what you want to sell them.

How do you convey your differentiators to your customers? Has it helped you find success?

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for ChamberofCommerce.com, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and contributing to a number of publications on the web. Megan can be reached at megan@chamberofcommerce.com.

Website: www.chamberofcommerce.com

Photo via flickr.com

 

Customers, Employees and Influencers as High Performing Sales and Marketing Channels1

Beedon Headshot

The Pipeline Guest Post – Dick Beedon

Although brand advocacy has always been important, it is critical today. The path to purchase has changed forever. Because there is so much data available, and because communication is so easy, today’s buyer almost always seeks advice from a trusted friend or consumer source before making a purchase. Brands are now starting to realize that what others say and write about them defines who they are.

Smart brands know they must build strategies and systems to generate, track and manage brand advocacy. They know they must encourage and enable the people that know and trust them – their customers, employees and 3rd party influencers – to advocate on behalf of the brand.

And it works. By encouraging and empowering these customers, employees and influencers, they will drive peer-to-peer referrals, forward content, share information about new products and promotions, and write testimonials. And they can do it at scale and more efficiently than traditional channels.

The Benefits of New Channels are Compelling (examples)

  1. They Build Brand Awareness – when a customer shares something about the brand with a friend, there is no better way of building the brand.
  2. They Generate Leads – those friends that respond and go to the brand for more information become the best leads a brand can get. There are few people on earth who will argue that leads generated from referrals are the best leads. 
  3. They Drive New Customer Acquisition – Leads from referrals close faster, they buy more and they stay longer. 

Other reasons customers, employees and influencers make good sales and marketing channels;

1.  Identify Brand Advocates and Build a Rich “Social” Data Set

Brand Advocates are identified when they register for or engage with your programs. By using technology systems, brands know who “opts-in” and advocates, how often they do it, what their sharing preferences are and how big their network is. We learn who they know and how influential they are. Brands are able to now get a deeper 360 view of their customer’s network value.

2. You’ll Know when Potential Customers are “In-Market”
Social channels provide insights and information not previously available. At the most basic level, social channels extend a brand’s sales force (with zero overhead) and they solve one of the biggest challenges brand’s face: knowing when a potential buyer is in-market. Only your current customers know when the people they know are ready to buy.
3. The cost of acquisition is lower.
This channel is always on and continually active – making referrals, amplifying products and promotions, and posting positive information about your brand. Brand advocates do this for a brand because they trust the brand and they want do it. Therefore, the time and cost invested into this channel is significantly less than other channels.
4. New customers that are referred by someone in your Social Channel are Valuable.
Research has consistently shown that consumers who convert as a result of a referral from a friend, are more loyal to a brand, spend more and stay longer.

Who are your Potential Channels and how Well can they Perform?

Customers, partners and employees are the fastest growing sales and marketing channel today. By utilizing the latest in social marketing software and technology, business leaders can mobilize these social relationships to generate new customers, and they can track and manage social behavior that is critical to the success of their company.

Customers recommend your products because they have first-hand, positive experience with them.

Today’s truly successful companies understand the importance of leveraging their customers into sales and marketing channels that drive corporate productivity. Creating and cultivating a large group of advocates can: pay huge dividends in the growth of your brand, increase subscribers, and boost profits. The financial investment to create this channel is minimal when you compare it to the long-term payoff for the brand.

About Richard Beedon

Richard Beedon is a founder and CEO of Amplifinity.  Beedon has led the acquisition of both Entyre Doc Prep (by Wolters Kluwer) and University Netcasting, who merged with Student Advantage (now collegesports.com) and was acquired by CBS. Dick’s thought leadership and early adaption of SaaS based technologies that allow brands to manage advocacy marketing has been instrumental in the success and growth of Amplifinity.

Mastering the Cross-Sell2

CC Jun 13

The Pipeline Guest Post – Diana Doherty

“Would you like to add batteries to your purchase?” Nearly everyone has encountered this type of cross-sell. It’s an easy way to increase the sale of anything that requires battery power. The basics of cross-selling, like offering necessary components to an item, are no secret. Take your sales up a notch with master cross-selling techniques.

Important Distinction
Cross-selling and up-selling both result in a larger total purchase in one sale, but they involve different techniques. In an up-sell, you will talk your customer into buying a better, generally more expensive, version of the item they intended to purchase. When you cross-sell, you give customers the opportunity to choose complementary items or services to their purchase. A common example is the extended warranty offered on a product at the time the product is purchased.

Just about every sale is an opportunity for cross-selling. Some methods of creating additional sales are effective in just about any situation (as in the battery example). However, other ways of getting those related sales will differ depending on whether your customer is buying online or at a brick-and-mortar location. With online shopping, you can use all the data about a person’s shopping experience to offer them items they will probably want, even if those other items are unrelated to the original purchase.

Making the Cross
The many ways of offering additional items to your customers can be overwhelming. You may even be concerned too many offers will chase away a sale. Customers appreciate recommendations. Take advantage of the times and places it makes sense to let them know about accessories or other items to help them get more out of a purchase.

  • Tailor Recommendations: If a customer is buying a brand new guitar, it would make more sense to offer guitar picks than a violin bow. Whether online or off, make sure the items you’re cross-selling make sense based on what your customer is purchasing or has purchased in the past.
  • Encourage Customer Reviews and Expert Opinions: One of my favorite ways of finding a new book to read is to check out all the little staff recommendation postcards bookstores post. Whether you collect thousands of reviews per product, like Amazon.com®, or you post a single expert opinion, trustworthy opinions can help you cross-sell by convincing the customer they need an item.
  • Get Timing Right: Spontaneous purchases are most likely to happen if you present an item to the customer at the time of purchase. This is most obvious online with recommended items displayed before finalizing a purchase, and offline with register displays including commonly forgotten items like those batteries.
  • Implement a Post-Purchase Cross-Sell: Use the confirmation email online or the receipt in a brick-and-mortar to offer items accessories and other tailored offers. This is also a good time to offer a small discount or a coupon to the customer on those recommended items, further increasing the likelihood of a future purchase.
  • Offer Budget Bundles: Another popular way to cross-sell is to offer a group of items together. Cable and cellular companies have practically built entire business models from this method. When bundling, all items should have value to the customer, or they’ll likely pass it up.
  • Be Price Considerate: Cross-sells are most effective when they cost half-price or less than the original purchase. Again, this falls naturally in line with accessories to a product, like a screen protector, case, and stylus recommended during the purchase of a tablet. The price of these items is so much less than the tablet that the value of the items becomes more significant than the additional cost.
  • Listen to the Customer: Whether you are personally listening to a customer speak or tracking their online past purchases, really listening to what your customer needs will tell you everything you need to know to offer them cross-sells that make sense and meet their needs.

Customers will appreciate recommendations given with genuine attention to their needs. You’re more likely to close the cross-sell when you offer useful additional items instead of a “top sellers” list of unrelated items or things that are too expensive compared to the original purchase. Track your success with each of these methods and adjust them as needed to master cross-selling to your customers.

About Diana Doherty

Diana Doherty is a freelance writer specializing in SEO content, and is a contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. She loves all things tech, photography, craft, military family life, and business. She earned her BA in English Writing Arts from SUNY Oswego.

A Passion For Life1

A PASSION FOR LIFE 2

For many, summer is a time to take it back a notch, relax, and enjoy a slower pace.  For others it is a time to bear down and focus on things they want accomplish, they spend time preparing their next adventure and conquests.

If you’re not ready to left the summer drift by, and see it as an opportunity to reignite your passion and take things to the next level, we have good news for you.

On July 24, Legacy Mastery, is presenting a fantastic event in Toronto: A PASSION FOR LIFE, is a full day event pack with today’s EXCEPTIONAL LEADERS who will transform your BUSINESS, PROFESSIONAL & PERSONAL PERFORMANCE.

I know it sounds like a big statement, but the day lives up to it, here is the roster:

  • Tony Robbins – Peak Peformance – Entrepreneur, Author & Peak Performance Strategist World Authority on Leadership Psychology
  • Robert Greene – Keys to Mastery – Best Selling Author , The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, and Mastery
  • Chip Heath – Creativity & Branding – Best Selling Author of Switch, Made to Stick and Decisive Loretta LaRoche – Work Life Balance – Acclaimed Stress Expert, Author, Humorist and Motivational Speaker
  • Joe Plumeri – Success Strategies – Chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings (2000-2012) CEO, Citibank North America (1999–2000); Chairman and CEO, Travelers Primerica Financial Services (1995-1999); President and Managing Partner, Shearson Lehman Brothers (1990-1993)
  • Desiree Rogers – Customer Relations – CEO, Johnson Publishing Company, LLC; White House Special Assistant to President Obama; 2009-2010, White House Social Secretary, 2009-2010

A great bill no matter what you have your eye set on, you’re bound to get the inspiration and practical steps you need to succeed.

And As you would expect, as a reader of The Pipeline, you can register now, use the code RENBOR, and receive $100.00 courtesy of Renbor Sales Solutions and the good folks at Legacy Mastery.

These events tend to fill up fast, act now to get your seat, and your $100  discount by using the code RENBOR.

Enjoy and profit!

Tibor Shanto

It Doesn’t End With the Sale: Managing Customer Relationships1

May13

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

Customers are the lifeblood of any business, and attracting new customers while strengthening your relationships with existing ones is a constant challenge. The best way to do so, however, is a matter that often leaves your sales and marketing staff at odds. Your sales force is focused primarily on closing the deal and landing new customers, while your marketing department wants to nurture customer relationships before and after the sale. No matter what your role at your company, however, it’s to your benefit to continue to nurture customer relationships long after they’ve paid their invoices.

Why Long-Term Customer Relationships Matter

We’ve all heard the adage that it’s cheaper to retain a customer than it is to acquire a new one. After all, you’ve already done the wooing. They already love your brand. If you maintain the relationship, they’ll come back to buy other products or services from you, increasing their customer lifetime value.

A customer with whom you already have a relationship is more likely to refer more business to you. They’re happy to tell others about how much they enjoy your brand when communicating through social media, review sites like Yelp, and face to face with friends. A single customer can help attract business from friends and family if they’re happy. And the best way to keep your customers happy is by paying attention to their needs and staying connected.

Managing Your Customer Relationships

Customer relationship management tools like Insightly and Salesforce make it easy to create profiles for each of your customers. You can track critical data like purchases, each customer’s birthday, and communication preferences. Companies use this data to better engage with customers. If you have your customer’s birthday, you can send her a email with a special birthday offer. If you know she has looked repeatedly at a certain item on your website, you can offer her a discount for it. Building a profile is a great first step; if you are in regular contact with a client, take notes each time you speak with them.

Social media is another fantastic tool for staying on top of customer relationships. Since Hootsuite lets you set up custom streams based on your preferences, it’s a snap to set up a stream containing the social media content generated by all your customers. From there, it’s up to you how far you drill down. You could create streams for different types of customers, such as those buying women’s clothes in one stream, children’s clothing in another, and men’s clothes in the last stream. You could set up a search for a keyword that relates to your industry to see who’s talking about it, and connect with them. The possibilities are endless, but what matters is using the info you gather to enhance your customer relationships.

Once you’ve set up customer profiles, it’s simply a matter of paying careful attention to what’s being said, especially if it relates to your product or brand. If a customer’s unhappy with your company, they might not bother to tell you, but reach out on their social network instead. If you’re monitoring your customer Tweets using your new setup, it’s much easier to discover customer concerns—and address them—before the situation escalates.

From a more positive angle, if you notice a customer tweeting about her search for product or service you provide (that they may not realize you offer), your sales team has a fantastic opportunity to respond and develop that interest into a lead.

Email is another great way to stay on connected to your customer. Don’t bombard your customers with emails, but do make your emails frequent and relevant enough to remind them of why they chose to give you their business. Sending one newsletter and one promotional email at specific times each week or month is a good start, but with a little creativity and careful data management, you can create targeted email campaigns for special occasions or broken out by demographic. Using the data gleaned through your customer relationship management software, you can deliver even more sophisticated and targeted messages, such as discounts for a customer’s birthday for example. The better targeted the offers, the better your connection with your customers.

The aim is to keep growing the connection. With intelligent application of the information you gather, you can build real and lasting relationships with your customers that won’t end with the sale.

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Using Social Media to “Prep” Customers for a Sale0

CC April 13

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

Social media websites are a great sales and marketing tool, there’s no denying it. I would venture to say that most companies have a presence on at least one social media site, and if they don’t, they should! Many companies are developing marketing campaigns that are design for both online and traditional marketing.  For the online marketing aspect, they are normally specifically designed for use on social media sites. Ideally, these campaigns will lead to increased sales for the company.

But how exactly should you use social media to entice your customers to make a purchase? There are quite a few ways to go about it –

Use Photos and Video – social media sites are very photo-centric. There are so many sites out there that encourage users to take photographs of nearly everything they do. Some examples would include Instagram, Pinterest, and Flickr. By taking and posting attractive photos of your products or services, you are more likely to catch people’s attention than by just describing with words. Like it or not, we have become a much more visually-driven society since the advent of social media.

Promote Specific Events – Company events can draw a good deal of attention from customers. These events don’t even have to be sales-related. One of the main goals in sales is just to keep the name of your company or product on your current or potential customers’ minds, right? For example, take TOMS A Day Without Shoes campaign. Is going barefoot for a day going to encourage people to buy shoes? Probably not. But, it does give TOMS a ton of publicity and perhaps people who have not looked at their company before will take notice.

Feature Satisfied Customers – the great thing about social media is that your customers have the ability to give instant feedback. If you like what they have to say, give them a shout-out on your page. You may even get lucky and they may become a brand advocate.  This can be really helpful for other customers who have not yet bought from you. When they see positive feedback, it might give them reason to buy. For example, if someone writes a great review of a product, that might be able to sway someone who was on the fence before into giving the product a try.

Build Anticipation – this is particularly important if you are planning to introduce a new product or service. You know when you watch television, sometimes you see commercials for stores or restaurants that don’t have locations near you? Then when one opens nearby, you often feel compelled to check it out. For me, this happened with Kohl’s. They advertised the store in my area for several months before one finally opened. The same goes for the social media world. Prep your customers for new and exciting products or services before they launch. This way, the hype will already be there when you do release the new product.

Social media can be a great way to get customers involved in your business and to close sales. Use it early and use it often!

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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