Email marketing can be one of the best or worst techniques. Properly done, it engages, informs, entertains, and helps prospects move forward in their buying journey.
However, when it’s poorly done, you get deleted, unsubscribed, or worse—reported as spam.
The key is to get the right message to the right person in the proper framework.
As a marketer, I frequently sign up to learn more about a company. It’s a great way to build a swipe file and tells you a lot about the business.
I did this recently to help my disabled sister find a phone that would be easy to use. She needed a large screen, bigger buttons than a clamshell, and simple smartphone functions.
The emails descended like an avalanche.
“Sale! We’re having a sale!”
“Sale! We’re having a sale now through Friday!”
I wanted to know she’d have good support.
“Sale, sale…only 18 hours left!”
This was followed 15 minutes later by…
“Check our great sale and save a bonus of 25% off today only, plus up to $800 trade-in on your current phone.”
Her existing phone was seven years old. It’s an inexpensive clamshell with no camera, just the basics. She’d probably have to pay them to take it.
“Call our easy support number and schedule to pick up your phone before it’s too late!”
Okay, I succumbed. Maybe I’d be able to get answers if I called.
“Hello, welcome to XXXX! We’re experiencing higher than normal call volume. Please hold. Our next customer support person will be right with you.” Click, pause—the voice comes back on the line; “Your support specialist will be with you in 48 minutes.”
I hung up. It was the wrong message to the wrong person at the wrong time.
Mixed business messages undermine your credibility
When your business messages tell customers conflicting things, it has a substantial negative impact on your credibility. As a business person, consumer and marketer, I’ve seen this regularly.
In the scenario above, I wasn’t looking for a sale. I was still in the first buying stage – information gathering. That meant they sent the wrong message at the wrong time. When this happens, the shopper gets confused, frustrated, and disconnects.
There is art and science behind quality emails that get results. The art is creating a great message. The science is selecting the proper recipients, testing headline responses, and using google analytics or the like to monitor your outcomes. It’s also about employing the best SEO practices to maximize effectiveness.
Don’t overlook this email marketing secret.
Emails aren’t that different from some other aspects of a business. For example, if you have a meeting planned, its success is its purpose. If there isn’t a reason, then there shouldn’t be a meeting.
The same is true for emails. What is its purpose? Why is it being sent? Answer those, and you know who should and shouldn’t receive it.
Three considerations to maximize email marketing
There are three core considerations to maximizing your email marketing.
Identifying intent and segmenting your audience, This gets the right message to the right person.
Have enough email content diversity available so you can cover all possible scenarios.
Incorporate SEO concepts to make sure both your recipient humans and search engine bots are happy with what they get.
Message Intent and recipient
Segment both message content and recipients according to buying stages. Segmentation is the way to get the right messages to the correct recipient.
The messages I received were sent to an entire list so I didn’t get the information that I was looking for. Your email software and tech team should handle list segmentation for you.
The buying process starts by providing information. When the shopper changes search questions to using the word compare, they have moved to the next level. Comparisons help you you share why your brand choice is absolutely the best one. Only then are they ready to move into the buying phase.
There is one additional phase that many businesses miss—but where successful ones focus. It’s called success.Tips or information to maximize their success with your product.
The more successful you can help them be, the more bonded they become with your business. Buyers in the success stage are more open to upsells and cross-sells that enhance the user experience.
The success step is your opportunity to turn a one-time buyer into a repeat buyer. Someone who is a fan that shares and recommends you to others.
Emails should cover all potential scenarios.
The most successful businesses have templates or drafts of emails that cover a wide range of scenarios. Then the sales team can quickly tweak them for the specific situation.
The messages need to be intent specific and cover the topic being searched.
The results are dramatically higher using sales-enabled emails over individually created ones. More uniformity of message and written by a specialist.
Marketing departments focus on brand awareness and generating leads, especially in B2B. It’s the sales department that handles sending prospect emails.
Emails need to cover topics from initial responses to providing more information. They need to be segmented by each step of the buying journey. Then tailored to the individual sales funnel.
With an arsenal of the right quality and topic emails, sales staff can achieve higher sales success more quickly and efficiently.
The biggest secret to SEO success is quality content that answers the question the visitor is seeking. The content must stay focused on the topic, i.e. the answer matches the reason the reader reached out.
The intent or question answered is generally the keyword.
Including appropriate links supports the viewer’s experience. Internal links to other articles/blogs provide additional information relating to the question asked, or the next question that may be raised.
Internal links guide the viewer toward the logical next step. Information, compare, buy, and success.
Judith Culp Pearson is an experienced SEO Content writer and marketer helping businesses improve their ROI and Customer Lifetime Value. If you’re looking to grow, engage more and build sales, you can message her via: Judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.
We get all caught up in categories. We get hung up on names like B2B and B2C. Instead, we need to focus on how to humanize marketing messages by speaking directly to our prospects. We need to write H2H.
Humanizing marketing is making it personal so readers connect with us more easily. When our prospects connect with our message, they identify with our brand and what we stand for. That leads to increased sales and higher Customer Lifetime Value.
“I need help!”
I see posts in chat groups and get emails like this regularly. Usually, the comment goes something like the one my friend Teri sent me.
“I’ve got a new prospect in my niche, but they are B2B. I’ve looked in all the training I’ve taken, but nothing really focuses on B2B.”
“So what can you tell me about the prospect? How big is the company?”
“He’s a very committed eager business owner. So I want to be sure an offer him the best B2B approach.”
Ah-ha! This scenario is a common issue where I see many people get confused.
B2B defines as businesses that sell to other companies. Her prospect matches that.
However, most B2B courses are focused on manufacturing. They are often larger companies where a whole buying process exists, more like dealing with a committee than a person. Each stakeholder comes with different needs and views.
This buying process isn’t the scenario Teri is facing. She’s not dealing with a committee. Teri’s dealing with a single person. It’s much easier to deal with one decision-maker. She needs to focus on her prospect’s target market and help him craft messages to reach them effectively. The tone of the message content will be the only shift from standard B2C writing.
In my writing and coaching, I’ve seen this a lot.
For over twenty years, I’ve dealt with a branch of my business that sells B2B. But like Teri’s prospect, we aren’t classical B2B manufacturers. Instead, we deal with licensed professionals who buy our products to use in offering services to consumers. So technically, it’s B2B, but it is closer to B2C in the decision-making process, just like my friend’s situation.
The writing tone to small business owners is less formal than classic B2B. Our audience mindset is a combination. They think both like a consumer and a business owner. It’s essential to their success as they have so much on the line. Instead, they want H2H communications.
What I shared with Teri is to quit worrying about the labels. Instead, focus on humanizing—writing human to human.
Business success is dependent on engagement. Without engagement, we can’t connect with another human being—our message gets lost. Companies don’t sell to companies. It’s the humans inside those companies connecting with other humans. Marketers and writers need to focus on those humans.
Keep this secret in mind.
In the fast-paced world of marketing, there are lots of parameters to consider. First, it’s critical to get the right offer and message. Then you need to deliver it to the right person. We become obsessed with subject lines, graphics, and coming up with the latest and greatest.
I’d like to suggest hitting pause. Think about the individual you are trying to engage. What are their goals, needs and how can you help them. Then talk to them—one human to another. Humanize it.
An honest, person-to-person approach is the best marketing.
3 techniques to humanize
Humanizing your marketing is all about having a conversation with another person. There is NO generic feeling. There should be NO sense the same message is going to a group or list.
Instead, the focus is more like sharing information with a friend over coffee or a glass of wine. The tone reflects your audience, ranging from more casual to professional. I liken it to attending a conference and visiting with a colleague at the end of the day. You are engaging one professional to another but in a very conversational way.
Humanize—Speak specifically to a person
Segment your audience, dividing groups to speak to them in a more specific way. Grouping allows you to hone into their interests, concerns, and needs. Segmenting makes your message more targeted, engaging and improves ROI.
Sometimes segmenting may seem a little elusive. That’s because most B2B businesses attract diversity in prospects, even if they employ targeted marketing. Segment them based on the company’s size, differences in what they offer/need, or the different pathways they found you. These pathways may impact their level of awareness about your business.
Segmenting by the level of awareness is a primary technique to share the message in the proper order and intensity. First, categorize your segments for your particular audience. Then, use the targeted approach to enhance message engagement and ROI.
Post your photo. When readers see a person’s picture, it’s easier for them to connect. You want your business to be the people that make up the business. If you have a team, you can showcase your team, their goals, successes, and even outside activities.
You want communications that come across as authentic, honest, and genuine. Share your story, how and why you built this business. Maybe you were your ideal client. Now you’ve overcome a health, weight, or fitness challenge. Those stories let your prospects see hope and a chance for themselves.
In today’s world, prospective clients also want to know what a business stands for. So share your values and opinions. For example, let them know how you give back, support the community, and help protect the planet.
Be a giver
I learned this from one of the most engaging marketers I’ve ever listened to, Brian Kurtz. Author of “Overdeliver” and founder of Titans Marketing, he excels at giving prospects and clients more than they expect.
Like all the presenters at this conference, he finished with an offer. Buy the “offer,” and he included a collection of “extra bonuses” that were mind-boggling. His sales rate was astronomical. Why? It was too good a deal to pass up.
Have I gone through all of the bonus segments? No, but I got great value from an excellent investment. (You want your prospect to respond the same way.)
If you want to connect with your target audience, be like Brian. Be a giver. Give them so much extra value that any other choice looks crazy. You may not be the cheapest out there, but if what you offer is five-ten times the price in value, you will get their attention. You have become a unique and no-brainer decision.
The bonus value doesn’t mean the offer requires a slashed sale price.
There are many ways to offer a bonus or extra value. For example, consider a free report, checklists, guides, infographics, podcasts, or a recording from a live event. Amaze them with the extra value you include and a moderate-priced offer. In addition to a sale, you get their contact information. This pure gold allows you to add them to your list/funnels.
Focus on what will appeal to your prospective client. Then when you write for those clients, do the same thing for their target audience. Help them be a giver so they can reap the rewards that extend far beyond an initial sale.
Judith Culp Pearson is a freelance copywriter marketer. She specializes in helping businesses build relationships that result in loyal customers with high customer lifetime value. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a call here:
The face of marketing to B2B buyers is rapidly changing, and there is a lot of somewhat confusing information out there. After sifting through mountains of information, I found three keys B2B buyers desire when looking for a solution.
In one sentence—B2B buyers want their experience to mirror their B2C personal shopping experiences.
My own experience as a B2B buyer
One of the hats I’ve worn was as the buyer for the B2B division of my company. As a distributor, we purchased from the manufacturer and sold to professionals who used the product in their retail businesses.
The twist is that I also handled customer service. So I felt keenly aware of our customer’s pain points and needs. I wasn’t randomly shopping for new items to add to our professional collection. I was only open to things that could seamlessly integrate into our B2B buyer’s needs.
Regularly, I got pitches from all sorts of companies who thought they had the hottest item on the market. Many were duplicates of what we already carried. Others were selling items unrelated to our niche. A third group sold devices only legal for medical professionals to purchase—less than 5% of our buyers.
Many were non-US-based firms wanting us to import their items. They’d gotten our contact information from who knew where and were mass marketing. It was immediately clear from the pitch email the sender knew nothing about our business.
I didn’t know the email sender.
Their spam approach screamed at me.
There had been no attempts to build trust.
It felt like a guy trying to get you to jump into bed at the first meeting. Ick. Turn and sprint away.
The companies I built relationships with were for the long term. We wanted products that our buyers could trust would be there and always meet specific performance standards. They were companies we learned we could depend on.
Trust was a huge factor. Support and accessibility to information, quick customer support, and a willingness to work with us to resolve any challenges.
We’ve done business with one of these firms for well over 20 years. It’s not something the buyer thinks of, but I can’t even guesstimate the CLV of our monthly purchases over that time frame.
B2B Buyers and Marketers have a lot in common.
With years as both a marketer and a B2B buyer, I’ve noticed the two have a lot in common. Both are putting their business, reputations, and jobs on the line with every purchase they make.
Both buyers and marketers are deluged with proposals and pitches. They both have to sort through masses of emails to identify any nugget that might be of real benefit to their business situation.
Recognizing those experiences and the similarities have helped me help my marketing clients. We build the relationship as team partners to discover solutions and create a strong ROI. Perfectly done with a successful marketing campaign or project, it’s a win-win for both.
Here’s a secret to keep in mind…
Stakeholders view things differently—it’s vital to recognize that each person with a stake in the decision views the process a little differently. They come at it from different departments, different needs, and even different goals. As a result, their risk factors may be higher, and decisions more complex.
They may need different types of answers. Communications need to help each person feel comfortable with the decision.
We need to keep in mind, each stakeholder probably feels their reputation and job is on the line. It’s not about our marketing. It’s about their comfort zone. So focus on answering their needs with relevant information, including the know, like, and trust factors. Easily accessible information and answers are the best paths to help them decide to buy.
3 key ways to help your B2B buyer
When we focus on the B2B buyer’s needs, it is all about quickly and efficiently helping them find what they need. Depending on the type of B2B that you work with, this can be very complex.
The higher the ticket price, the more information, details, and data are needed to support the decision—and the more people will be involved. It’s a longer, more complex process with higher stakes.
Content – useable, findable, relevant
Buyers need detailed information designed for quick, easy consumption. They may or may not be the technician or engineer working with a complex piece of equipment. However, they may be responsible for identifying possible solutions and then sharing them for input before making a decision.
Keep in mind B2B buyers want content as quickly readable as when they do their B2C shopping. So make layout and content designed for easy reading and rapid assimilation. Include whitespace, supporting graphics, and bulleted lists.
Offer cross-links and “also relevant” links to help them find additional information.
Be sensitive to what’s happening in the real world. We’ve been through a lot of turmoil in the last 18 months. Now things with a twang of nostalgia offer comfort and a sense of security. However, include nostalgia only if it fits and makes sense.
B2B buyers are looking for instant information. They don’t want to send an email and wait a week for an answer. The best interaction helps them quickly find what they need, now.
AI, chatbots, and the like can fill in an interactive gap. Of course, the better they interact and offer more specific answers, the more valuable they become.
Include all the frequently asked questions your customer service team hears. The more you include, the happier the buyer will be.
Analyze surveys or questions that have come up on social media. These offer tidbits of information the buyer needs.
Make the interaction smooth. Create a feeling of ease that includes transfers across support services. In addition, increased seamlessness increases the buyer satisfaction rate.
Retention saves B2B relationships and dollars.
Having a great experience and a trusting relationship make the buyer’s next purchasing decision more straightforward. If there is plenty of retention-focused TLC, you become their trusted resource.
Trust is imperative to keep the buyer coming back. Help them feel valued, respected and that you are there as a team partner to solve problems.
The results? A higher customer lifetime value and wins for both buyers and marketers.
Judith Culp Pearson is a result-oriented relationship-building and empathy-based marketer specializing in B2B wellness and information. Reach her at email@example.com.
Familiar with the term Digital Sharecropping? It’s a phenomenon that most people don’t understand. An SEO guru colleague, Heather Lloyd-Martin shared a newsletter email regarding it and got me taking another look.
Digital sharecropping refers to social media channels and how people and businesses interact with them. The earliest concerns about it date back to 2006.
The term derives from the sharecropping, (aka feudalism) that happened after the end of the US Civil War. People had no money so paid to use a landlord’s property with a share of their crops. They didn’t own the land or even the tools they used.
In the game of Monopoly™, when you land on a property that is owned, you have to pay rent just like sharecroppers did.
It’s happening today—digitally. And it can be very risky for your business if you are dependent on it.
Social Media Digital Sharecropping
In the last few years, many businesses, especially B2C, have shifted their marketing to focus completely on social media. Some skip a website altogether, focusing instead on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Simple. Easy. Sweet.
What they don’t realize is they have no real control over what the social channel does. The channel owns the real estate. The channel is their landlord.
So they post lots to get more likes and more fans. They work hard to build a social empire of followers.
So what’s wrong with that? It works great to stay in touch with friends. It’s been a way to stay connected during the pandemic.
However, did you know that once you post pictures the channel actually can now sell the images someplace else without your permission and without compensating you? It’s in the fine print and it’s been this way for years.
Social was designed to be gathering spots, like the water cooler or watering hole. People visit, put up posts, and share for free. In exchange, the channel sells advertising to monetize users. It’s quite profitable, ask Mark Zuckerberg.
However, what if you are a business owner?
Matthew Inman, creator of Oatmeal comics got hit with the dark side of his social media empire.
Inman’s had a website for years where he publishes Oatmeal comics. But to make it easy to stay connected with followers he shifted to build a huge following on Facebook and Instagram. People love his posts.
According to a recent The Oatmeal Instagram post, Facebook has decided if Inman wants to reach more than a fraction of his followers, he needs to pay them $2000 PER POST. And this is content he’s putting up free for his nearly four million followers.
In his Instagram post, he explained the situation and invited people to sign up for his newsletter where they can be guaranteed the full dose of his comic goodness.
He’s also started only sharing part of “something too big for Instagram”, or Facebook, and sending the reader to his website to see the rest.
He is moving away from being dependent on social media. Inman has learned the risks of being a digital sharecropper. Now his focus is real estate he owns and controls. His website and e-newsletter where there are no middlemen charging fees.
Why is digital sharecropping important to understand?
With social media, the rules change with little notice.
Paid posts, or rebuilding a following on a new channel, are expensive.
Inman worked for years to build his following. Then the rules changed. Without paying huge fees, only a tiny portion of his followers would see his posts.
You don’t want your business to be in Inman’s situation.
How would it impact your marketing if you had to pay for every post you put on your business page?
For your business to succeed long term, you need a plan to take control of your social marketing.
I’ve discovered the ways to fight back and I’ll share them with you.
Here’s something most people don’t think of…
Where will you be if a different new social channel becomes the big buzz? Think it won’t happen? Where’s MySpace? Friendster? Google+? MySpace still exists, but it’s pretty lonely there. It went out of favor.
And a recent Social America report shared that for Gen Z and millennials, Facebook has lost favor. Instead, they are using Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. And this will change again, it’s inevitable.
Every social empire you build is only temporary. So if you want to depend on social, get prepared for changes and having to rebuild.
3 ways to offset digital sharecropping
When I work with clients we use social media as part of the mix, but we focus on things they have 100% control over. We focus on enhancing their website, connecting with emails and newsletters, and building a reputation for offering value.
Your website is something you have complete control over. Wherever you market, drive the traffic to your website. Make it the hub of your marketing efforts.
Start a post on social and send them to the website to see the rest. Share a new product or service and direct them to your website to learn more.
Invite visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. You can increase the number of signups by offering something useful or of value as a reward for subscribing.
Send them emails with links to information or products on the website.
Direct mail pieces have gained favor since there is a lot more in our inboxes than in our mailboxes. What you send is more apt to be seen. Use mail as another way to bring people to your website. Drive them to a special report, service, or offer.
Assure your website offers a positive experience and is easy to navigate.
Contact information needs to be easy to find, preferably on every page so the visitor doesn’t have to hunt.
People have become more skeptical. Use transparency to boost trust. Consider putting a contact number in a narrow banner at the very top of each page. It’s validation you are a sound trustworthy business. They may never call, but it makes you seem safer than a business without it.
Newsletters and emails
Using email to connect and share is one of the best investments in your marketing mix. They come from you.
Whether a short post or a newsletter, they can be informational, educational, and entertaining. They can also drive clients back to your website. Introduce an article or blog with a link to where the complete story resides on your website.
Email communications are a great place to share more about your team, your brand story, and your products or services. Share your uniqueness, your visions, and your social conscience.
Emails are bond builders. People love to be part of a group or a tribe. Your emails and newsletter are exclusive for your subscribers—a place they can hear your news before the rest of the world does.
The right emails nurture new buyers. They help them have the best experience with their purchase as well as get to know you as a brand.
According to a recent study by SubjectLine.com, emails that promote a one-day offer get 21% higher opens than if you just announce a sale. Words like “today only,” or “one day sale,” get attention and people don’t want to miss out. They create a sense of urgency and exclusivity.
Use content as a way to share and display valuable information you put out. Content that’s fresh, relevant, useful, and focused on your target audience’s interests and concerns.
Avoid any techniques or content that seems spammy or pushy/dodgy.
Your value content is the reputation your business earns. Quality and value are the keys to attracting and keeping your ideal customers.
So where does that leave social? Social channels are useful tools to support your website…the real estate you own. Use social as a part of your marketing mix. Mix is the keyword. You are using but not depending on channels that you have no real control over.
Judith Culp Pearson is a digital content marketer helping businesses gain and retain customers for a higher lifetime value. Result-oriented relationship building and empathy-based marketing. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consumer and business demand are fueling massive growth opportunities in 2021. Get these four business team components in place to maximize your 2021 business growth. It’s all about you and your teams.
When many businesses or marketers think of growth, they focus on new products or divisions. But for real change, you need to start deeper. You need to start with yourself and your business teams.
Consider this business team scenario.
Due to the pandemic, a colleague of mine faced business closure. Kathy couldn’t meet or help her clients. She decided to go online with consulting and offer retail products.
Kathy had a website, but it was a basic brochure about her services. No online scheduling software. No shopping cart or credit card payment system. Oh, and no retail items to offer.
The idea was excellent but needed a lot of support.
The first thing she did was find some retail products that would be useful to her clients during the shutdown.
Like many businesses, Kathy’s website was in a WordPress format. She’d need to either hire someone to add what was necessary for e-commerce or learn to do it herself.
Of course, she tried to do it herself to save money. After all, with the shutdown, she had more time than money.
Everything Kathy tried to add had its own learning curve.
One piece of software didn’t want to communicate with another. I felt bad listening to her struggles.
Finally, she reached out to her webmaster to assist her in sorting it out. Then she found out he didn’t do e-commerce websites. His expertise was service-based businesses.
Back to square one. It took a couple of months for Kathy to get operational.
What went wrong?
As a business owner, marketer, and consultant, I’ve seen this happen many times.
It’s like building a bridge without supports or a house without any foundation. You need your business team infrastructure, the foundation first.
Without it, the product, its delivery, and customer experience won’t be at the successful level.
It’s important to start with yourself.
Start with you. Start by evaluating where you are and where you want to be. Are you equipped with both the business management and business specialty skillsets you need?
Each type of business requires its own unique set of what I call technical skills. These are specific to your business model.
But you also need business marketing and management skills for success. Without them, you’ll struggle. You won’t achieve the earnings or growth your business deserves.
You need to set aside time to evaluate, plan and then implement. Make appointments with yourself on your calendar. It’s the only way you can make sure it happens.
What areas need strengthening?
How effective is your marketing?
Do you need to do market research to look at the next add-on you offer?
Are your outreaches to new and existing customers effective?
How long do you retain customers, and what is their Customer Lifetime Value, CLV?
Are there specialty skills you want or are required to maintain?
Create a short and long-term plan balancing both types of skills. Getting these skills might include self-study, courses, conferences, or workshops either in person or online.
Three business team support legs of infrastructure
I find these legs often get overlooked until something fails. They are all about your business teams. We get caught in reactive mode, and that never gets the ideal outcome. First, you need to think of your teams—who, what, and why.
Then you need the other two legs to support your efforts and those of your team. Regardless of your business model, you still need them in place.
You’ll probably need two teams. You’re going to need your home support team to buy into you and your goals. Without this support, building a successful business is much more challenging.
If you’re the person in charge of everything at home, from cleaning to laundry to shopping and cooking…you need help. Or maybe you and your partner both have careers…you both need support.
Look for ways to get your home team to help out. Build this infrastructure for success, not burnout. Delegate and don’t micromanage. Focus on your big goals. Don’t dwell on tasks not done your way.
Thank them and reward them. It might be designated family time or a date with your spouse. Often non-financial rewards have much higher relationship bonuses in the long term. Your kids and spouse might both build better life skills that will benefit their future selves.
Not everyone may have kids or family they can involve. Then it’s time to look at hired outside support.
In addition to your home team, you need a business team. Evaluate your strengths and what you can hand off so you can focus on those strengths. Delegating has a financial expense.
But how much more could you generate if you didn’t have to handle that task?
The question becomes more of a no-brainer if you can hire someone better at the task than you are. Look for someone who can get it done better and more efficiently.
Employees or business team partners?
Whether you hire employees on a full or part-time basis, they come with significant financial and time commitments. It’s not easy to find the right person with the right skills.
The other option is working with business partners.
Business partners include accountants, lawyers, business consultants, marketers, and your web host. Independent contractors and freelancers also fall into this category.
I always recommend contracting with your web host to keep your website up, backed up, and current. If you’re expanding, you will need web design, graphic work, and a copy/content writer to get your message clearly across to your target audience.
The benefits of the outside team are significant. There is no overhead when they aren’t needed. No payroll-related taxes. And they excel at the task.
Find specialists that understand your business model. For example, an accountant used to working with manufacturers may not understand a small business offering services.
Find people who “get” your business. That is going to make the most successful relationship.
The last two legs are tied together. Hardware and software.
Hardware business team
These are the physical components you and your team will need to function. And the physical elements that make up your business.
A brick-and-mortar business needs different things than e-commerce. Brick and mortar need everything from fixtures, displays, equipment, seating to payment processing—computers to routers to your telephone system.
E-commerce is dependent on computer systems, audio-visual, photography, web content, and responsive customer service. The fulfillment department functions are key to handle the delivery of sales to the customer.
There is nothing more frustrating for operations than a slow computer system, out of date, or needing maintenance. Consider contracting with a support business, something like Geek Squad, so you have help when you need them. I’ve found if you only use them once during the year, it offsets the annual fee.
Software is how you harness your electronic hardware to make it function for you.
I remember when I wanted my home office to be the dominant place for my writing and consulting business.
To accomplish that, I needed my business telephone to funnel to the home office without it ringing on my personal line. The cable company advised me I’d have to upgrade my account to a business account (regardless of the level of use). The price would jump from $60 to $180 per month plus any installation charges.
That was a definite no. So I researched and went with a VOIP service.
VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. For me, it was like cutting the cord with my cable provider.
I eliminated the need for physical equipment beyond my computer and my existing cell phone. I handle calls on my laptop or answer the distinctive ring on my cell phone. The cost? About $30/month. The convenience has been fantastic.
You’ll also need payment processing software, scheduling software, and some sort of client management system. Don’t forget accounting software and backup software, so you never lose your data.
Online automatic backup means no worrying about lost data. A cloud-based accounting program means fewer or no trips to the accountant’s office as you can grant them access.
Then there are those great apps that facilitate marketing, research, and client connectivity—plus Zoom or other face-to-face ability. Some are browser extensions. Others connect one program, so it talks to another and reduces tasks.
Take your time and create a checklist of all the software puzzle pieces. Then make sure they are integrated and ready to work for you. Start with you, your goals, and your dream teams. Then add the hardware and software that help you succeed.
Judith Culp Pearson specializes in marketing and coaching businesses in the wellness sector. Through empathy engagement at every client touchpoint, she focuses on retaining existing clients and building new relationships for growth. email@example.com
Vaccines and stimulus checks have people thinking of moving toward what we used to think of as normal. Vaccinated seniors are setting the trend to get even with the pandemic by spending money and getting out. They call it revenge spending.
Attending events, going shopping, and travel are rising to the top of consciousness. People want liberation.
Revenge spending will typify 2021
Last week an article came across my desk about “revenge shopping” as a rebound from the pandemic. At first, I laughed, then realized I had participated.
It turns out that in China, one of the first places to reopen their malls, sales spiked through the roof. Not only were they buying basics, but they also went for luxury items like Louis Vuitton bags.
After the January stimulus checks started going out, department store sales increased 21% in the US.
Tired of wearing sweatpants, chasing kids, and working from home, women want to go out. They want to dress up and wear something new. Even the trip into a store is starting to sound exciting.
Depending on location, online shopping is still the norm. I ordered something last week and actually went into the store to pick the item up and try it on. It was just the sales staff and me, which felt a little odd. Changing room signs proclaimed: Freshly Sanitized. It felt so decadent and liberating even with social distancing and wearing masks.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Bloomberg reports that during 2020 many people saved money. No trips, events, or outings. Lots less discretionary purchases. They estimate there is $1.7 trillion waiting to be spent.
It’s time for businesses to get on board in the right ways for the coming surge.
Consumers are ready for revenge.
I dove through every report I could find on this topic, and there are many reports and articles out there. It won’t happen all at once, and the timing will be different based on location. But based on conversations with clients, colleagues, and friends, people are ready for change.
Businesses in the hardest-hit sectors, like restaurants, hospitality, and apparel, are ready too. It was a very long, tough 2020.
I also researched how our buying patterns have changed and what we expect from businesses moving forward. There are some shifts that effective marketers are already implementing, and it can help your business too.
One thing to keep in mind
Consumers are tired of the sea of useless information. Regardless of where your content is, it must have value if you want to keep their attention. Value equals helpful information.
I replied to an email a company sent me complimenting them on its content. It provided useful information on an alternative way to deal with seasonal allergies. Something they don’t even sell! Unheard of— but very refreshing.
Today’s buyer is looking for authenticity and value. We also are craving connection. For most of us, it’s been too long since we’ve visited with family and friends. Without social media and virtual visiting, the year would have been much worse.
Ramp up sales with these three techniques
To maximize sales, we need to engage and connect with customers where they are looking for information. That means now, and we need to make sure and have the right presence the right way on social media.
We need to have conversations with prospects. We need to respect what they are looking for, including the increased focus on social consciousness.
Dependence on social media grew in 2020, and we started using it in new ways. Pre-pandemic social focused on status updates—things like sharing selfies, where we’d been, and what we’d done.
Today that’s shifted to social being a key place to find solutions. Have a question? Someone has an answer, just post it. Need a solution? Social is where we go.
We want those solutions to reflect our increased need and desire for value and wellbeing. Users need simple ways to cope and manage stress, working from home, parenting issues, or managing a flex work schedule. They want to know how to take a vacation in the COVID environment.
If you or your product is a solution, you need to be on social media and help them find you. That means more than having a Facebook business page with periodic product posts. It means having conversations. It even has a new title…
When we were forced to shift to online buying, we lost something. We lost connection with people, and we lost the ability to ask questions or get advice. When you go into a store, there is usually someone you can ask. Online? Not so much.
Conversation Commerce, also called C-Commerce, (CC), is working to fill that need. It’s considered any way you connect with your buyers using conversation.
Your CC could be an AI-driven chatbot, a person you can chat with online or via phone, or another messaging program like WhatsApp. Even Alexa is included because of the way you use words to tell her what to do.
The process puts the customer in control. They reach out and initiate the conversation. They hope you will guide them to the right purchase. If no one is there or doesn’t respond promptly to messages, they’ll look elsewhere.
As the quality of these interfaces increase, the process will become even more valuable. If you’re stuck with a poor-quality chatbot, replace it or go back to a person.
IT Cosmetics uses live chat. Their phone lines and chat lines are open 9-5 Eastern, six days a week. If you’re on the opposite side of the country, it’s not a perfect answer, but it’s better than a chatbot that has limited capabilities.
If your chatbot can only respond to specifically limited choices, the shopper is left stuck and frustrated. It feels like going into a department store with no salespeople. If you can’t get the help you need, you leave with a negative feeling.
Globally, 84% of people surveyed said customer support is equally essential to what is sold. That makes it critical to get conversations going and help your shoppers.
Revenge shopping will embrace social consciousness
2020 brought lots of changes, including the trend for social consciousness. From mental health to equality, social justice, caring for the planet, and inclusivity, it’s all part of the package. Awareness is accelerating even more in 2021.
Social consciousness isn’t something a business can afford to ignore. It’s not going to go away, and it’s part of the new normal. Hiding your values isn’t a path to success.
Sharing your position is also a way to connect more emotionally with buyers. When you develop and share a mission-driven campaign to help people or the planet, you build connections. They become your avid fan because your message resonates with them.
Getting prepared with social media, enhancing conversational commerce, and embracing social consciousness will position you to tap into the coming spend.
Looking to increase lifetime buyer value, build sales, and more engagement? Let’s have a quick chat. You can message me: Judith@jculpcreativecopy.com