Online Trends Your Business Should Watch Out For

As you run your small business online, you should make sure you are aware of the current trends. These trends can be very useful for growing your business. They can include anything from new marketing strategies to improving the ease of your website for customers. Make sure you stay on top of these trends so you can explore new options and continue to increase your business.

AI Customer Service

For many websites, it has become common to utilize AI chatbots for customer service. Using AI for your customer service can have many benefits. Most importantly, AI customer service is available 24 hours a day, so your customers can get help even when your staff isn’t currently working. AI is also faster when responding because it can quickly find answers to common questions. Overall, AI is helpful for improving the work that agents do. They can use AI to answer quick questions and to determine priorities which helps your agents to use their time efficiently. In turn, they can dedicate more time to engaging with customers rather than focusing solely on resolving issues quickly.

Move to E-Commerce

With the rise of the current pandemic, e-commerce has become widely popular due to the fact that in-store shopping has been greatly limited. More and more people have turned to online shopping to meet their needs. Over 2 billion people will make an online purchase this year. Since e-commerce is growing sufficiently, it would be wise to join this trend. There will be many economic opportunities available. Make sure you do your research to see how to best market your business online.

Video Marketing

Video marketing has definitely seen a rise over the years. It’s become popular for a variety of reasons. First of all, it is a useful SEO strategy. Websites with videos tend to rank higher on search engines. Using videos can also make it easier to market. You can use videos to explain what it is you do while also establishing more of a personal connection with viewers. Videos can also be a more efficient way to incorporate customer reviews as videos are more genuine than an online comment. Overall, using video marketing can help to boost popularity and help you to reach a wider audience.

Trends occur for a reason. In business, it’s usually because popular strategies actually work. So, don’t ignore the online trends. Embrace them and learn more about them so you can use them as an advantage while growing your business online.

You can greatly improve your business’ presence online with an updated website. Contact us to learn more about how we can help!

Red Flags That Can Hurt Your Business Online

So much business happens online. The internet has changed business forever, and it has become increasingly important to make sure that your business looks good online. Here are some red flags that can warn you that your business is not performing well online.

Poor SEO

Your business’ website needs good search engine optimization (or SEO) rankings for your business to perform well online. Poor SEO will harm your business because it will make it more difficult for potential customers to find you through an internet search. Having bad SEO is a red flag that really makes your business less competitive in the modern world.

Improving your website’s SEO ranking does not have to be intimidating or difficult. There are many little things you can do, such as providing more applicable content and focusing on using good keywords, that will help you reach a better SEO ranking.

Negative Reviews

It is no secret that negative reviews harm your reputation. Most customers take reviews into account when deciding on a business. Having too many negative reviews or negative reviews that go unaddressed are major red flags online, and people will not come to your business as readily. Learning to deal well with negative reviews is imperative to helping your business thrive online so that you can protect your reputation. Don’t forget to respond respectfully to all reviews that you receive so your customers know you care about their experience.

Negative reviews can be a great way to show potential customers how you deal with problems and how you have improved through the years. Better yet, seek feedback from your customers so you can address concerns and problems before they are a big deal online. This will better preserve your good reputation.

Confusing Website

The website is the home of the business online, and if the website doesn’t meet the needs of the customer, that is a serious red flag that will certainly deter some potential customers. Bad websites are ones that are hard to navigate, unclear in their purpose, or don’t give you the information you need as a customer. There are many elements to a good website that can immediately eliminate this red flag.

Business online is much different than doing business in person, but a lot of it translates. As you better meet the needs of your customers online, your business will be on the road to success. Your customers will trust and depend on your business.

I can help you to make a great web design with content that is clear and visually appealing to your customers. Schedule a call with me to get started!

Finding Your Perfect Price Point

price pointOne of the first things you’ll need to do when you create a product or service is determine the appropriate price point for it. There are a lot of thoughts about pricing and none of them are right or wrong. How you price is up to you, but think about using a method that considers value and not just how much it will cost you. This is one of the best ways to come up with the perfect price point.

Tips for Selecting the Perfect Price Point

Know Your Audience – You have to know everything you can about your audience, including how much money they have to spend on extra items in their budget each month. When you understand your audience, you’ll not only know what type of products they need, but also how much they’re going to be willing to pay for them.

Identify Your Direct Costs – You must always cover your costs in any pricing method, because if you don’t you’ll lose money. So a great place to start is figuring out the direct cost of your product. But, if your product is digital, it’s going to be somewhat relative. For example, it might cost you 500 dollars to have the product created but you’ll not have individual per item costs to consider in your pricing.

Identify Your Indirect Costs – Sometimes there are costs such as marketing, advertising and other indirect costs that you should consider adding. For example, if you’re teaching a course that you had to get a Master’s Degree to understand, then you can add in something for your education.

Identify Your Competitors’ Prices – Take a look at your best competition’s prices. It’s more than likely that this price is something you should consider being around, because if your competitor is successful, it’s a price point that’s working. However, you never want to get into a situation where you’re competing on price. Instead, you want to compete on value.

Consider the Market – The market plays a huge role in pricing for pretty much every product. If you have a digital product, this is especially great for you because you don’t have incremental costs like you do with a physical product.

Understand the Value of Your Offering – Outside of direct and indirect costs there is also value. The value of your item is something that is perceived by your audience. For example, if you have an offering that will help anyone who follows it boost their income to six figures from zero, what is the value of that?

Ensure It’s Worth Your While – If the price you come up with feels too low, then raise it. You want the work that you do to be pleasurable for you, too. If you under-price your offerings, you’re going to end up resentful instead of happy.

Test Different Prices – When you come up with a price point, try testing different prices. You can do this by having different sales pages, or you can do it by offering different levels of service on one page with the various pricing levels.

When you come up with your perfect price point, you’ll be able to work less and make more money. The reason is that your buyers will be focused on the value of your offering, and you don’t have to concern yourself with selling high volumes…if the price is right.

Knowing Who You Are – How to Be Authentic in Your Business

be authenticIt’s easy to tell what is important to someone, because their actions reflect who they really are. In fact, your life is a reflection of your actions. It’s important that you be authentic about who you are and that you authentically care about who those on your team are a well. What’s even more powerful is that what you put out into the world, you also get back. If you are negative, you’ll get negativity. If you are an optimist, you’ll get back optimism. People really do reflect back to you your own outlook most of the time. The same thing can be said for your people. Give them respect if you want respect; give them your time if you want time from them, show that you care if you want them to care, and so forth. Look at any truly successful healthy business – those businesses clearly understand that concept, and it shows.

Here are a few ways to be authentic in your business:

Always Pass the Credit – When you have success, it’s easy to want to take all the credit. But the truth is, you should pass that credit on to your team. The more you do that, the more they’ll want to give of themselves because they feel as if the successes are shared, appreciated, and celebrated. Success feels good, but always remember – so does getting credit for it.

Always Take the Blame – Sometimes things do go wrong. But, a real leader will take the blame. After all, it was your vision that wasn’t explained enough and that allowed the failure to occur. But, you can learn from it. Let your team know that you take the blame, why, and how you’ll proceed in the future. If you prove to them that you are all on the same team and that you are NOT a threat, you will get their best work.

Know Real Talent When You See It – When you bring on team members, bring on people who have a talent for something special, and then let them go. Don’t tie them up by having them do something not in their wheel house. Use your team members for what they love to do and are good at doing.  Using their gifts and talents will benefit everyone.

Be the Reflection You Want to See – In order to truly be authentic, it’s important that when you look in the mirror, you ask yourself, “What do I see?” Do you see a giving, kind, smart, hard-working person? Most of the time, your team will follow you and your example. Be the example you want to see, whether that’s how you talk to people, how you dress, how you handle stress, or how you do your work.

Know Who You Are – A real leader knows who they are deep down and doesn’t try to hide it. They are authentically themselves and want others to be authentically themselves too. Knowing what you’re good at is easy, but you need to also be the type of person who isn’t afraid to admit what you’re not good at as well, and use team member who are good at your weaknesses to create a strong team.

Know Your Team – Take the time to get to know each member of your team so that you know when there is a problem. Being able to build a relationship with each team member is essential to being able to work together. Know what makes them tick, what bothers them, and their favorite way to receive praise. These are important things to know to be truly authentic in your relationships with your team.

Listen to and Act on Feedback – Allow and encourage your team to give you constructive feedback. You want them to feel free to tell you things, even those things you may not want to hear.  As long as it’s meant for good, that’s all that matters to be constructive. To show that you’re listening, you should also act on the feedback – either by stating you heard them and will consider it, or by actually doing something.

To be successful in business, it’s important to be authentic enough to first know who you are as a person and as a leader, but it’s worth nothing unless you also take the time to get to know those on your team in the same way.  If you follow these tips, you will have a successful, healthy business, filled with team members who value you for it, and it will show in their work ethic and what they are willing to do for the good of the team.

Time Management for Business Owners: Work ON Your Business, Not IN It

time management for business ownersOwning a business can seem like the best thing in the world. But time management for business owners is the key to making it all happen.  When you’re in the planning and dreaming stage, it  may seem like you’ll have more freedom, time and money. In fact, you probably had visions of spending a lot of time at the beach or on the golf course as you made your plans.

Then, reality sets in, and you soon realize that your business is a daily drudge and actually is more demanding than a regular job. You start feeling like you want to run away, escape, and maybe even end your business. But, the truth is, all you really need to do is change a few things so that you can work on your business and not in it.  Time management for business owners is the key to keeping your business and your sanity.  If you make these few changes, you may be surprised at the results.

Tips for Time Management for Business Owners

Change Your Mindset – It can be hard, after years of having an employee mindset, to switch to an ownership and entrepreneurial mindset. It’s time for you to start thinking like an owner, or at least a manager, by setting up systems, delegating tasks, and finding ways to do less but still get more done.  Time management for business owners means being good at facilitating and getting the right people to do the tasks you used to do, not doing them yourself.

Set Up Systems and Standards – When you set up systems and standards, it will be a lot easier to get people to help you with your business. Time management for business owners starts with creating systems for what you do daily.  If you do, you’ll have a clear understanding of what needs to be done each day and which things you must do compared to which things your contractors or employees can do.  What is in your head isn’t always understood until it is systemized and put into words for others  to learn and understand, and ultimately be able to help!

Use the Right Tools – Part of setting up systems is to use technology and other tools to help you make the most of your time. Technology such as email autoresponders, customer management, project management, cloud storage, and more is important to use in order to make the most of your time.

Plan for Success in Advance – Don’t just work by putting out fires.  Instead, make plans of what you’re going to do each day, week, month, quarter and year. Planning out basic tasks and duties far in advance will give you time to include additional tasks at the last minute as your industry demands.  It will also allow for you to set and meet goals.

Outsource Strategically – When you outsource, ask yourself whether or not that particular task needs your special touch. For example, many tasks like customer service, data entry, posting blog posts, social media marketing, and email marketing are all things that someone else can do successfully.

Provide the Right Training – When you outsource to anyone, even though you’ll likely outsource to a specialist, you want to provide training about your business and your unique processes. Don’t control the process or their function, but rather control the due dates, quality, and style in which the deliverables will take so that your branding shows through to the customer.

Delegate and Compensate Fairly – When you outsource to someone, you need to ensure that who you delegate to can do the job, but you also want to pay them fairly. Many business owners make the mistake of thinking they can get something for nothing, or near nothing, and still get what they need. In truth, you get what you pay for. If you want to command higher rates, you need to be willing to pay for expert help.

Attract the Right Clients – One thing that will make your business less of a drudge is if you ensure that your marketing efforts are working to attract the right customers to your business. The right customers will be a joy to work with, and you’ll have fewer fires to put out and fewer mistakes to fix.  Attracting the right clients will grow your business in the right way.

Set Your Fees High Enough – Many small business owners make the mistake of setting their rates too low. You need to set them high enough to provide for your family in the manner you deserve, commensurate with the type of business you have and who your audience is. For example, high end life coaches will pay more for your personalized services than an internet marketer who uses “The 4 Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferris as their bible.

When you set up the right systems and use the right tools, you’ll be able to manage your business in a successful way that creates the success you deserve.

Fire Your Worst Customers: A Bad Customer Can Stunt Your Growth

bad customerFiring a customer may seem like a radical concept, but in the quest to provide excellent customer service and keep customers longer, sometimes something important gets lost in translation. When you have a particularly bad customer who is expecting too much for too little, eating up your time and resources, yielding no profits or benefits, and generally making you feel bad about the whole interaction, it’s not healthy for anyone.  If that customer is, in essence, wanting your blood in exchange for the business relationship, it might be time to fire them.

Characteristics of Bad Customers Who Might Need to be Fired:

They Cost Money – The fact is, a client who is needy, doesn’t respect you, or is simply a wrong fit can be a money sucker too. If you spend a lot of resources putting out fires due to this customer’s actions or requests, you’re using up time and money that could be put to better use with customers who love and respect you.

They’re Not Your Ideal Customer – As you get used to targeting the right customer, you may find that some of your older customers just aren’t a right fit. They’re really not doing anything wrong, but they’re not really adding to your business in a positive way since they’re not the right customer. Letting them go makes room for more right customers.

Sunk Costs versus Opportunity Cost – Sometimes it’s hard to let go of a customer because of all the time you’ve already invested in them, and you hope that someday it’ll pay off. But the fact is, when you make any business decision, the thing you are supposed to consider is opportunity costs – not sunk costs. Sunk costs are those that you’ve already spent; opportunity costs are those that will happen in the future. If there are better opportunities out there, fire the customer and go after the right ones.

Too Much Emotional Investment Required – Some customers want you to be emotionally invested in them in a way that is draining. They require too much time and effort for the payoff due to their neediness. They expect you to be available at all hours of the day and night at their beck and call.  That is an unreasonable and unrealistic expectation, and the rest of your customers will suffer for it.

They Want You to Share Their Risk – Some customers are really selfish. They want you to share their risk, but get none of the rewards. This type of client is dangerous to your entire business, because they’ll blame you when things go wrong even if it’s due to them not following your advice.

They Control with Fear – Some customers will threaten you to try to control you. They’ll say things like, “If you can’t handle it, I’ll find someone who can.” and other types of threats, both direct and veiled. They truly have no intention of firing you, but they like keeping you off balance. Get rid of these types of customers.

They Don’t Pay on Time – Sometimes you will have a customer that you actually like but they tend not to pay on time. Plus they use a lot of delay tactics. They may eventually pay, but having someone not pay on time can be very stressful and affect your cash flow. The best thing is to let these types of customers go after giving them sufficient warnings.

They Don’t Share Success – Some customers will freely share blame when things go wrong but when they experience success, even if directly related to what it is that you do, they will not share that. When you experience that type of customer, it’s best to let them go as soon as possible because you’re not going to get anything more out of the relationship than what you’ve already got.

Firing a really bad customer will leave room for more of the right customers. Anytime any one customer, even if it’s not totally their fault, makes you feel like you’re losing your mind or investing too much time and emotion for the payoff, it’s time to consider letting them go. You don’t have to say, “You’re fired,” but you can calmly and politely end the contract per your agreement terms.  As with any breakup, it can be amicable and what’s best for both parties involved.  When you finally do get rid of a bad customer who is causing you anxiety and stress, you will feel light a huge weight has been lifted and you will be more productive in your business as a result.

Streamline Your Sales Funnel

sales funnelWith all of the marketing terms swirling around out there today, you have to remember that the main goal  of any marketing strategy is to convert and make sales. A sales funnel is no different – the final goal is to make sales!. When you are clear on what the point is, you can get clear on what you might need to cut out of your funnels. So many things in marketing funnels can become just extra noise, bells, and whistles that you don’t really need.

How to Simplify Your Sales Funnel:

Plan It Out – The more you plan each funnel out, the better it will work. Draw out how you want the process to work for each situation. Whether people come to the entry point through email, a guest blog post, your website, or elsewhere matters. It matters whether they’re hot or cold leads, a certain segment of your audience or not, and this should be acknowledged through the process.

Identify Segments – When you know the segments you’re dealing with, you’ll be able to create better funnels that are relevant to them. The more relevant the funnel is, the more likely it is to convert the sale.

Qualify Your Leads – Sending unqualified leads to any sales page to go through any sales funnel will not be successful. It’s best to be picky about who you send through your funnels to ensure that you have only targeted audiences to speak to. You’ll improve your conversion rate exponentially.

Combine Steps – Lose extra steps when they’re not needed. If you’ve done the work to qualify people, you don’t need to convince them as much and use as many steps to move them through to the choice to buy. Instead of having them opt in and then sending them a link to a download page, once they buy, send them right to the download/thank you page.

Remove Opt-In Requirement for Buyers – Don’t make people opt in when they decide to make a purchase. Send them right to the shopping cart, let them check out, get their product and choose to opt in as a buyer only if they want to. Incentivize them to opt in without requiring them to do it. They’ve purchased, which is the point.

Avoid Too Many Up-sells – Up-selling is a good thing in most cases, and it will increase your per-checkout totals and revenue substantially. However, too many up-sells can be a real bummer for many buyers. Find unobtrusive ways to include one or two up-sells at the most, or try up-selling after the fact, through the product information.

Include a Confirmation Page / Download Page – Sending your buyers straight to a confirmation page is important so they know that their purchase went through. If you’re selling hard items, keep it as just a confirmation / thank you page, but if you’re selling a digital item, make that confirmation page a download page and thank you page, all in one.

Be Mobile Friendly– The days of putting off your mobile conversion are over. If your website, sales pages, and download pages aren’t mobile, you’re missing out on an untold number of sales, not to mention search engine traffic.

Remove confusing items and clutter from your sales funnels for best results. You don’t need to include every single component possible in every single funnel. For example, if someone wants to buy your product due to attending your webinar, send them right to the shopping cart rather than another sales page. You already have them hooked, so reel them in and finish the sale.  In today’s busy world, prospects crave simplicity – so give them what they want, and make YOUR LIFE easier as well!

Boost Your Sales With These Sales Funnel Secrets

sales funnelIf you’re like most internet marketers, you’re always looking for a way to improve your sales. And the first way you seek to do that is by improving your sales funnel to make it more effective. With this in mind, here are some secrets you can learn to improve your funnel and boost sales right now. By following these guidelines and using these few tips, you will improve sales and see immediate growth in your business!

Sales Funnel Secrets

Personalization – One-size-fits-all sales funnels are outdated. Today, the technology exists to help make your audience feel special by creating funnels that are personalized for each visitor or each unique audience depending on where they’re visiting from. For example, if you are guest posting to drive traffic, you want a special sales page for visitors who come from these guests posts.

Better Images – There are all kinds of images you can use in your sales pages today, such as still images with inter-laid GIF images inside, creating movement in the picture that draws the eye to a different area of the sales page. You can also create a sales page that uses a different image each time a particular person visits the page. Finally, if you have a product, take a 360-degree image of the item so your audience can interact with it and see it from all sides.

Dynamic Pricing – This is a relatively new concept online but not anything new in reality. This type of pricing often exists with real-estate or apartment rentals. The price is based on how well the item is selling and how much inventory you have. It’ll go up and down once it’s set up based on that criterion.

Awesome CTA Buttons – Take a look at some ads online and see if you can find the CTA button. If you can’t find it, that is a problem. While many of us know that there is something to click somewhere, many people will not click unless they feel invited. Invite them with a big, juicy button with an explicit call to action.

Coupons – You can offer incentives and coupons via your sales page either by practice or exception. For example, if someone clicks away from the page, you could offer a pop-up that gives a coupon code if they stay on the page. Or, you can automatically offer a coupon code to any first-time visitors.

Up-sells – Getting buyers to increase their checkout volume is a great way to boost sales. Offering up-sells at the time of buying, such as a professional version of the product you’re selling or a more complete version, is a great way to increase the size of the order.

Down-sells – Sometimes you may have a very expensive product on the sales page, and the target clicks away, maybe due to the expensive price. You can offer them a less expensive version or an opportunity to pay less by doing something such as sharing or commenting, and they’ll likely take it.

Cross-Sells – At checkout, you can offer companion products at a discount if they buy right now with their first purchase. This is another great way to boost sales without having to do much work.

You may already be using some of these features in your sales funnels, but if you’re not, try them out. Add one of these features to your funnel and test it out to see if it gets higher sales or not. Using this process when you market – Discover, implement, test and repeat – will help you to find the elements that will work the best for your sales funnel and yield the most sales for your business!

There’s an App for That! Creating Business Apps

business appCreating a mobile business app can help you increase brand awareness, help your customers solve a problem, and much more. Mobile apps can be created easily today with online software, as well as by hiring a coder from a job website. There are many reasons why creating a mobile business app is something you should do.

Why is a Business App Important?

Mobile Is Here To Stay – There is no turning back now from the fact that we are a mobile society which uses mobile technology. Your customers are viewing your website online with their mobile devices, and they are using their mobile devices every single day. By creating a mobile app you stay at top of mind with your customers.

You Can Market On the Go – Since your customers keep their mobile devices right near them, it’s a great time to use your app to reinforce your brand in the mind of your customers. If they use your app on a daily basis, all the better. For example, a calorie counting app for dieters, a daily motivational quote app for life coaches, and other ways to stay in touch daily will help them to become even more familiar with you.

It Allows On-the-Go Purchasing – If you create an app that also encourages and allows in-app purchases, you can improve your sales exponentially. Giving them the ability to buy things within the app keeps them with you even longer.

Apps Offer Better Customer Care – Having a mobile business app can give you the opportunity to provide even better customer service to your clients than before. If they can see your FAQ and see dedicated information for them within the app, they’ll be even more loyal to you.  Convenience goes a long way with customer service.

They Capture Information – With a mobile app, you’ll be able to capture more consumer information and preferences than ever before. People are more likely to provide information this way than they are in other ways. Ensure that your user can opt-in and opt-out of sharing data like that, though, because you don’t want to do anything other than improve their experience.

Apps Increase Engagement – Having access to your customers with a mobile app gives you the unprecedented ability to connect with them in a new way just when they need you. Whether they’re in their car or sitting on their couch, you have access to them and can encourage them to engage with you literally at any time, anywhere they are.

They Attract a Younger Audience – While older people use mobile devices too, younger people are using them almost exclusively over desktop technology. Therefore, if you want to keep up with this generation today and tomorrow as they age, you’ll need to stay on the cutting edge of mobile technology.

They’re Easy to Create – You can use software like AppMakr.com to build your app in minutes, relatively inexpensively, or you can hire a coder using one of the job sites like Upwork.com. There is no reason to avoid creating one, as the cost to entry is relatively low today.

Creating an iPhone or Android app can affect your business in a positive way, increase brand awareness, improve customer engagement, and bring your business into the modern age.  The sooner you do it, the sooner your business will grow.

Book Recommendation – Negotiation: Essentials of Negotiation How to Convince Persuade and Influence Anyone

NegotiationNegotiation: Essentials of Negotiation How to Convince Persuade and Influence Anyone
Where to buy: www.amazon.com

Why is it important to negotiate? Well, as a salesperson or a business owner looking to find new clients, negotiation is the difference between closing the deal and having someone walk away. Learn the techniques and skills that are indispensible in your line of work. It can all be found in “Negotiation.”

The object is to convince your potential clients that they need what you have to offer. Clients want to make sure that they are not being duped. They want all the benefits that they can get for trying your product. As a salesperson or business owner, it is your job to engage the potential client in a way that makes them jump at your offer. It might sound too good to be true, but if you cultivate the necessary skills in this book and use them to their utmost, this could become your reality.

In the art of negotiations, learn to take your discussions to a new level. Learn to stay ahead in the process so it feels as if you are reading your client’s mind. Avoid the blind spots that trip up many negotiators. Make the most of your time and effort and seal the deal.

Negotiation: Essentials of Negotiation How to Convince Persuade and Influence Anyone