Here’s Why You Need to Focus on Your Customers

Focus on Your CustomersThe answer may be obvious, but here’s the big question anyway. Who brings all the money into your business? No the answer is not your sales team, it’s your customers. As obvious as that is, so many businesses spend all their time focusing on prospects and give no attention to their current customers. The entire idea behind customer-centric marketing stems from the fact that only customers make money for your business, so, because of that, all marketing just like product development and content creating should place the focus on them instead of elsewhere. In order to learn to place the focus on the customer in marketing, it’s important to understand why.

8 Reasons Why You Should Focus on Your Customers

1. Customers Bring All the Money to the Table – It seems like an obvious statement but sometimes companies forget the fact that the only way to make money is to get customers to buy. Customer-centric marketing always remembers this fact.

2. Repeat Customers Bring Most of the Money to the Table – Customer-centric marketing understands that 80 percent of all purchases are made by the same customers and remarkets to these customers via email lists.

3. Customers Can Be Divided in Segments – By segmenting customers into different groups based on various criteria such as demographics and where they found out about your products or which product they entered your product funnel with, you can increase repeat sales.

4. Focuses on Individuals instead of Groups – The individual is important when it comes to customer-centric marketing. This is led by research into the customers that purchase and by creating personas that represent the customer.

5. Leads to Increased Customer Satisfaction – Customers are more satisfied after their purchases when they made a choice to buy based off customer-centric marketing messages. The messages aren’t hyped, so the customer feels as if they had enough information to make a sound choice.

6. Assists with Developing Long-Term Economic Viability – The importance of customer satisfaction shows in the marketing statements that a business makes to potential customers. They don’t seek to use any of a customer’s behavior to try to sway purchase decisions; instead they craft products that sway decisions.

7. Values the Customer and Respects Their Worth – A company that uses customer-centric marketing knows that the only way to make money is if a customer purchases their product or uses their services. All marketing reflects this fact.

8. Keeps Promises – Companies who participate in customer centric marketing don’t make promises to their customers that they cannot keep. In fact, they always under promise and over deliver. Customers know that when you tell them something, you stand by it.

Customer-centric companies seek to create communities that show how they value the customer, above all else. They have an open-door policy with their customers where the customers know for sure that they are important and come first. When customers feel appreciated they end up very loyal to the brand. It’s only when the brand fails to be customer centric that the customer moves on to the competition and loses brand loyalty.

If you need to build a customer-centric focus to your marketing efforts contact us and we can help you strategize, train and implement this into your processes.

Creating Your Prospect to Client Experience through the Marketing Hourglass

Marketers are beginning to think and act more like publishers and are producing, curating and repurposing content like never before. Really smart marketers are snapping up journalists as key members of their marketing teams, but, if marketing content is to become the essential element that it must become in your business, you need to view its production from a strategic point of view. You may indeed need more content, but you certainly need content that addresses every one of your base business objectives and you need to view the editorial calendar of sorts in this strategic light.

In other words, you need content for every aspect of the customer life-cycle and you need to stage that content in something we call  the marketing hourglass. The marketing hourglass acknowledges the fact that your job as a marketer is to get someone with a need to know, like and trust you and that you then need to plan to turn that know, like and trust into try, buy, repeat and refer – and that each of these stages must address a prospect’s evolving relationship with your organization. In other words, you need to plan to walk with someone that comes to know about your business all the way down the path to where they become a fan and volunteer member of your sales team.

One of the best tools in the marketing hourglass arsenal is content and one of the best ways to employ content in a strategic manner is tomatch different kinds of content with the stages of the hourglass and customer life cycle.

So, your content marketing hourglass might look something like this:

the-marketing-hourglass

Getting the best results from your marketing hourglass:

Know

The key element here is blog content created on a narrowly defined set of keyword phrases and topics. One of the best ways to become known is through organic search. This phase would also include advertising that draws awareness to other, more advanced forms of content such as eBooks and seminars.

In many businesses a referral introduction is the first exposure that someone gains to an organization. This calls for content that is geared towards this type of exposure and specifically acknowledges your referral process.

Like

An eNewsletter can be a tremendous content tool for nurturing during the like and trust building phases as it allows you to demonstrate expertise, knowledge, resources, and experience over time.

A series of blog posts around a specific topic turned into an eBook or email series is another great content play that helps tell your story.

Trust

Once you’ve gained attention you must move towards that all-important next step. We will buy products we simply like, but we’ll rarely commit to organizations unless we trust them.

Your customer-generated videos, case studies and stories make great content here. Your SEO efforts (others trusting and linking to your content) and Social Media participation comes into play in the trust phase.

Getting your customers involved in the content creation game is an essential element and one that many are happy to be involved in.

The ability to tell why your organization does what it does in stories that illustrate purpose in action is perhaps the key trust building content piece of the puzzle.

Try

Try is a phase that many people skip, but I think it’s the easiest way to move people to buy, particularly in highly competitive and highly priced situations.

Here the content needs to represent a sample of the end result. This is where eBooks, online and offline seminars and evaluation type processes in the form of content shine.

Many people miss this point but this is an audition and it’s where you need to deliver more than anyone could possibly consider doing for a free or low cost version of what you sell. This is one of the first places where you plant the seed for a referral as well as a sale.

By producing content in the try phase that clearly demonstrates how much better your paid product or service is than most, you can differentiate your business and create evangelists out of those that don’t ever buy.

How to content in the form of videos, workbooks, examples, cheat sheets and checklists – the kind of stuff your competitors are charging real money for – is the stuff that the try phase in built on.

Buy

Content that converts consists of proof. You must be able to show real results, customer stories and clearly cast your buyer into the future receiving the promised results.

Many people miss the idea of content during just after the buy phase because the thinking is that the person has already made a decision and the product or service will speak for itself.

The total customer experience is measured by the end result, not the build up to the sale. In order to deliver a remarkable customer experience you’ve got to continue to educate with content.

Creating content that acts as a new customer kit or orientation to your business or product is the first step.

Most businesses should also consider quick start guides, in-depth user manuals and customer support communities. You can easily build this kind of content with your customers using services such as Get Satisfaction or Zendesk.

Repeat

Don’t wait for your customer to call you when they need something, stay top of mind through content that educates at a higher lever.

Use email and print to start to share how others have gotten more advanced results with your products or services. Create customer events that have a content sharing component.

Create a results review process where you help your client measure the results they are actually getting by working with your firm and use this process to capture content in the form of success stories.

Refer

Start this phase by documenting your referral process. Create tools that make it easy for you to teach your rabid customers and strategic partners how to refer you.

Create eBooks, videos and teaching events and offer them to your strategic partners to cobrand and present to their clients.

Work with a team of best of class providers (the folks that can help your clients get everything they need) and create a team blog. Create and acquire content that makes it easy for you to introduce your partners and gives them plenty of incentive to do likewise.

You don’t have to do all of your content creation from scratch either – there are many ways to effectively use other people’s content as part of the overall picture.

Content creation is the hardest job of a marketer these days but when you plan your content with your hourglass in mind it may well be the highest payoff work your can do.

We can help you create your own client experience and marketing hourglass, please contact us to get one on one help.

In the Age of Social Networking – Why Email Marketing Still Works for Online Business

email marketingMany people wonder if they still need Email Marketing now that we have interactive social media. But, there are many reasons that point to why you should still be email marketing, and in fact Email Marketing is still more effective and preferable if you have to choose one over the other.

Why Email Marketing may be your best marketing option

1. It’s a Numbers Game – More people have email accounts than they do social media accounts, and more people still purchase through email than they do through social media messages. Plus, the truth is that social networks are still limiting your ability to get to your audience even when they have consented to receive your messages by liking your pages.

2. Email Is More Personal – People often check their email messages on their cell phones, mobile devices and computers and love to see something specifically addressed to them. Email gives you the personalization options that social media never can. When you send a social media message it is going out to all audience members with no personalization (unlike email), which makes them feel rather generic.

3. It’s More Businesslike – With social media you have to contend with cat videos and baby laughing videos, but with email messages your audience has signed up to receive your business transactional emails and are expecting to get promotions. That makes email much more businesslike than social media, even LinkedIn, can dream of being.

4. Email Gets More Attention – People are much more likely to open and engage with a personalized email message than they are to engage with your social media marketing campaigns. That’s why social media marketing should be engaged to build your email list rather than promote products directly.

5. People Expect Your Email – Everyone has signed up to receive your email. They’ve given their permission for you to send them marketing messages and are expecting to receive them. In fact, if you don’t send them often enough, they will get frustrated that you’re not sending them enough messages and forget about you.

6. They Agree to Receive Your Email – Your audience has agreed to receive your email messages, which is a big thing. When someone “likes” your social media page they actually aren’t expecting promotions to appear on their wall, but when they sign up to get your email messages they are expecting to get promotions, sales, and information about your products and services.

7. They Will Receive Your Email – If you join a reputable email autoresponder service (we love Active Campaign), your email messages have over a 99 percent chance of getting into your customer’s inbox, whereas reports are showing that less than 10 percent of your social media followers or “likes” are seeing your messages.

8. Email Is Easier to Track – Email autoresponder software has better analytics than social media at this time in history. You’ll be able to measure your metrics better so that you’ll know whether your goals are being met or not.

In terms of online marketing, it’s clear that if content is king; Email Marketing is queen. No serious business person should give up on email marketing in favor of social media marketing. Right now social media marketing is too limited, not personal enough, and reaching your audience is still not a sure thing like it is with email marketing. We’d love to hear what you think? Enter a comment below or contact us if you have questions.

Local Search Engine Optimization: 5 Biggest SEO Mistakes on Small Business Websites

ooopsGuest Post by Phil Singleton

Most small businesses understand that an effective SEO strategy must be implemented in order for the company website to rank highly in Google for targeted search terms, however most fall short of what could be accomplished if a few mistakes were avoided.  If you are a small business owner, you can learn from these mistakes and make your website more attractive to both search engines (in particular Google) and people.

Here are the 5 biggest local SEO mistakes small businesses make on their websites:

  1. Not optimizing page titles and meta descriptions. While it’s true Google doesn’t pay much attention to meta keyword tags today, optimized page titles are critical.  In fact, the 70 characters in the browser title are some of the most important text on your entire website.  In addition, the first characters in the page titles have the most “weight,” so it’s important to use text that accurately describe what you do and where you do it (i.e., city) rather than non-descript text like “home” or “welcome.”The meta description does not directly affect search engine optimization, however it is often what is listed for your website on the SERPs, or search engine results pages.  How compelling the description is will directly impact how many people click on your website, or your “click through rate.”  This IS one of the most important organic ranking factors of the 200 or so Google uses in ranking websites.
  1. Not including optimized static introductory text on your website’s home page. While it doesn’t have to be lengthy (only about 200 words or so), a paragraph or two of optimized content on your home page is important.  It gives search engines (and readers) a brief overview of your products/services, the market you serve, experience, years in the industry, etc.  Keep it brief, but optimize lightly for key search terms.
  1. Not adding a blog feed that pumps fresh content onto your home page. Providing fresh content on a regular basis is critical in SEO for small businesses. While it may seem impossible to update the pages of your website frequently, keeping your home page fresh can be accomplished by feeding your latest blog articles to your home page.  If you add a new blog post every week or two (or even more often, if possible), an excerpt of the most recent posts on your home page will help keep the content fresh.  Keep in mind that content should be valuable and engaging to the reader.
  1. Improper social media integration. Today, social media is a vital component of every SEO campaign, whether for corporations or small businesses.  Embedding a Google+ badge, Facebook “like” box, Facebook and Google+ “like” and “plus” buttons, and other social media and article sharing buttons makes it possible for visitors of your blog to share the content they like with others and “vote” for your content in the form of a like or plus.  All of these social “signals” are picked up by Google, which helps in search engine ranking.  In Google’s eyes, if your content gets “liked,” “plussed,” and “shared” frequently, it must be of high quality and interest to others!
  1. Not using basic search engine friendly coding. Using a WordPress framework and installing an SEO plugin are great for starters, but just the tip of the iceberg.  Unfortunately, there is a substantial amount of “uncorked” SEO value on many small business websites, simply because these sites lack the structure/coding to achieve their full search engine potential and release the true SEO value into the Internet.  Most business owners are not educated in the “background” coding and structure of a website, so it’s a job best left to the professionals.  Moz provides a great checklist with their Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet.

Search engine optimization is no doubt complex, but there are some simple things you can do to make your small business website more search engine friendly, and things to avoid before spending money on a new website.  Are you making any of the SEO mistakes mentioned above?  A few small changes can make all of the difference in the success your business experiences online.

Phil SingeltonAbout the Author: Phil Singleton is the owner of KCSeoPro.com, a full-service online marketing services company that provides organic search engine optimization and other Internet marketing services, and KCWebdesigner.com, a WordPress web development firm specializing in custom SEO-friendly websites and custom web applications.  Phil is also a Duct Tape Marketing™ Certified Consultant and provides small businesses in Kansas City with marketing products and services at KCMarketingAgency.com.

 

Looking into the Crystal Ball – Marketing Trends 2015 [Infographic]

So, a new year is upon us and we have decided to look into the crystal ball and predict what some of the big marketing trends for 2015 will be. We will spend some time to explore each of these in more detail in future posts, but for now here is a quick overview of what we think is coming in 2015. We’d love your comments, so feel free to add them below.

infographicstatic

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You have a marketing plan, right?

The year is almost over, and often it causes us to pause and reflect on our performance in the past year – Was it a banner year for you and your business? Was it just okay? Do you wish to never see 2014 again? Whatever the case, it doesn’t have to repeat itself in 2015. If you are unhappy with the results of the previous year, it doesn’t have to be the same old results from the same old actions for the new year.  In fact, it should be the very opposite of that. As Winston Churchill said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”  If you haven’t set up a plan for success in 2015, how will you ever achieve it?  Don’t leave it to luck…Instead, now – yes today – is the perfect day to do it!

When it comes to marketing, the reason people shy away is usually because they misunderstand what it is, and they often underestimate its importance.  They have been led down the wrong path for way too long. To understand what marketing is, we have to first start with what marketing is not. Marketing is not a wish list or a set of objectives. It’s not a list of goals or a mission statement. A marketing plan is a clear explanation of how you are going to get where you want to go. It’s really as simple as that. Yes, a lot of those previously mentioned factors come into play after you have the marketing plan in place, but those factors are just factors, not the plan itself.

Your marketing plan should be unique to your business, and as such, it should stand apart from other plans.  In order to figure out your own unique marketing plan, you have to ask some key questions to drive your strategy.  Here are a few of those questions you need to ask when developing your marketing plan:

Who should me business appeal to?

This is the primary element – the who. You have to develop your plan around a narrowly-defined ideal client first and foremost.

How can I be different?

In this case, being different is not only good, but it is preferred. You have to find ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of your marketplace.  If you don’t, people will default to comparing you on price alone.

Are you connecting the dots?

The final step in creating a marketing plan takes what you have already created from the first two questions (how you are different and who your business appeals to), and turn it into a stated action plan.

Let me come back to Winston Churchill’s statement once again, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”  Hoping the right type of people come knocking on your door for your service or product is just that – failing to plan. You need to take the time to create a plan that will not only help you succeed, but help your business thrive in 2015.

If you need help setting up your marketing plan please contact us.  We will help you with resources and coaching you need to make your plan a reality.

How to find your ideal clients?

Businessmen shaking hands

Photo courtesy of reynermedia(CC Attribution)

Wouldn’t it be great if ideal clients just dropped out of the sky every time we needed them? It would be something akin to those State Farm commercials – when you get in a bind and need more cash, just say “Bring me more clients!” Poof!  Like magic, there they appear. Even though we haven’t figured out how to do exactly that, we have the next best thing.  Let’s take a look at a realistic strategy to find who exactly you should be targeting, and then, more importantly, how do we find more of them?

5 Steps to Your Ideal Client

1. Find your most profitable clients.

The first part of this should be fairly easy to do – just get into your client billing information and sort through the data until you find your top 20% of clients, based on amount billed to them. The next step can be a bit more difficult, as you to dig deeper into that top 20%.  Determine for each of those clients who was the most profitable for your business. Be careful – they may be paying a bunch of money each month, but if their profit margin is low, that would not be an ideal client to go after in the future.   After you have determined those most profitable, write down their defining factors, answering such questions as, “What type of company are they? What service or product do they produce? What service or product do you provide for them?”  Then look for what attributes those clients have in common.  This will help you identify the type of clients that buy a service or product from you that has a good profit margin.

2. From the above list, identify those clients who refer you the most.

Now let’s divide that same list again and find out who among your clients has referred you the most. You may even want to make hierarchy of your clients, listing them from greatest to least jobs. This is very important, as it is in an indicator of their level of satisfaction with you and your service.  It tells you who is happy enough to tell others that they should be doing business with you.

Ideal Client

Clients that fall into the upper right quadrant of this graph are ideal..

3. Find the common demographic elements.

Now you will have created an even more specific group, and you need to see what common characteristics they have. Here are just a few things to consider:

• Age

• Employment status

• Gender

• Occupation

• Income

• Educational level

• Industry

• Employee count

• Type of business

• Geographic scope of business

• Revenue levels

4. Understand the behavior that makes them ideal

The secret to attracting ideal clients is to understand what makes them tick.  What triggers them to go looking for someone like you?  What is it that keeps them up at night? What frustrates them so much that they are looking for the solution you provide? 

If you are  providing a solution to their most common frustrations, then this may truly be your golden opportunity.  People make a lot of their buying decisions to eitherremove pain or experience gain. If you can tap into these emotions you can truly grow your business, creating an ever-growing relationship between you and your clients.

5. Draw a full biographical sketch

Finally, once you are able to pull together a company profile that focuses on profitability, referrals, demographics, and behaviors, then you have the foundation of a biographical sketch or persona. The idea is to create a picture of that person at the company that is so vivid that just about anyone could envision a mental picture of that client. You have to be able to also answer the question you will inevitably be asked – How do we spot our ideal client?  This is key in helping your employees fully understand who they should target.  I have even see some companies create a cardboard cutout of their ideal client and include it in all planning meetings. This client model has a name, a family, assets, and almost a real life. Why? Because it make it so much easier to pitch things at a persona, than at some intangible pie in the sky company out theresomewhere.

So, what does this mean for YOU?

There is no doubt that it takes time to create this sort of profile, but it makes it easier to identify and decide who you should be going after, making this an essential process every business should go through.  If you would like some guidance through the process , or if you want to learn more strategies that you can use to generate more leads into your business, please take our free marketing assessment and we would be happy to give you some free suggestions on not only identifying your ideal client, but other suggestions to help you grow your business.

Top 10 Business Lead Generation Tips [Infographic]

The challenge of getting people who may not know of your product or service (and in some cases don’t even care about it) to become interested is often shrouded in a degree of mystery. We have put together a great list of 10 lead generation tips, but they are extremely actionable as well.

 

Lead Generation Tips

 

Here are the 10 Lead Generation tips again (written out):

  1. Do Your Research – Before you even attempt to generate new leads online, do your research to get specific details on your target audience. Who are they? What are they searching for online? How are they conducting these searches? This will help you create an effective keyword strategy to capture these leads.
  2. Use Paid Online Advertising – Pay-per-click online ads are a great way to drive highly-targeted traffic to your website quicker than SEO. With a set monthly budget and some solid keywords, you can capture specific leads who are looking for your exact products or services in the area.
  3. Connect with Prospects on Social Media – More and more people are using social media to interact with local businesses in their area. If your target audience is spending time on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, set up profiles on these sites and start capturing these leads.
  4. Build a Targeted Email List – Inviting your target audience to subscribe to your email list is one of the easiest ways to generate new leads. Give away something of value in exchange for their email addresses so you can easily follow-up with them; this is a great way to build relationships so they can get to know you better.
  5. Improve Search Engine Visibility (SEO) – Most consumers go to the search engines to look for local products and services. Your website needs to show up high in the results in order to capture these hot leads who are actively searching for what you offer.
  6. Optimize Your Local Listings – Local listings, such as Google My Business, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local were created specifically to connect local businesses with local consumers. Make sure your listings are complete and optimized so they come up higher in the search results.
  7. Educate, Inform, & Solve Problems – Many people scour the web for answers to their problems and concerns. As a result, many of them end up doing business with companies that have published great content that helped them out. Implement methods, such as blogging, to consistently publish this type of “lead-pulling” content.
  8. Enhance Your Site for Conversions – Getting traffic to your site is just the beginning. The icing on the cake is converting this traffic into new solid leads. Make sure your site is equipped to keep visitors longer, as well as motivate them to take action. Good content, videos, images, and strong calls-to-action all pay an important role in boosting conversions.
  9. Consider Paying for Leads – SEO takes time to get results and pay-per-click can be expensive for some markets. But working with a high-quality lead source can definitely help you connect with more qualified leads. This method is powerful in expanding your reach and seeing a rewarding ROI.
  10. Follow-Up with Your Leads – Whichever method you choose to generate new leads for your business, be sure to keep the lines of communication flowing with them so you can convert them into brand new paying customers. Otherwise, all of your efforts will simply be a waste of time and money.

Want to Learn More About Lead Generation tips for your business?

Contact us

and we can customize a plan for you.