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.
Glicken is a term often associated with receiving a bit of unexpected good luck or a lucky bonus. I once heard it called getting the piece of cake with the extra treat on top. Winning the lottery would be glicken. So would a surprise with your purchase.
People love getting extra bonuses—surprises, add ons, a treat. For a business, giving glicken bonds customers and builds lifetime loyalty.
My husband loves deals.
My husband is from Yorkshire in northern England. Like in Scotland, money is dearly held in Yorkshire. So if he can get a good deal on something he’s already decided on, it’s pure glicken.
Yesterday we attended a vintage motorcycle show and sale. He went to sell some parts and see what was out there.
After two years of doing without, motorcycle enthusiasts showed up in droves. They wanted to show off their bikes, shop for missing “project” parts, and visit. (A project is a current bike you’re working on.)
When things slowed down, he went for a walk to explore for deals while I stayed at the canopy with his motorcycle “bits.”
A while later, he returned with a smile on his face and a gleam in his eyes. I knew he scored a find. Someone was selling off all his bikes. The man had a terrific deal on some parts my husband could use or resell.
This morning I overheard hubby on the phone with the fellow. The guy had sold a motorcycle and dropped the price on what my husband wanted by $400, delivery included!!
For a Yorkshire man—that’s pure glicken.
Glicken can work magic for your business too.
I used these unexpected bonuses with customers for years. They love being surprised, thanked, and rewarded.
When you bond a buyer and become their preferred go-to resource, the relationship can last for years or even decades. I’ve had it happen a lot. It’s how you’re successful in the spa/beauty industry. Repeat loyal customers.
They know you, like you, and trust that you have their best interests at heart.
They refer or bring family and friends because of the trust relationship.
No money can buy that marketing. It takes time and consistency to build this relationship, but the lifetime customer value makes it worth the effort.
Here’s a secret
This loyalty relationship focuses on value as opposed to ongoing discounts. Shared interests, concerns, social values, reliability, quality, performance, and the culture of your business all are part of the value.
Today’s buyer wants far more than a product or a service. They want relationships if you’re going to keep them coming back.
3 techniques to create and share glicken.
A huge percentage of transactions today are online. So you need to capitalize on quick and easy—but often overlooked ways to build the relationship online.
Since online has become more crowded, you can make a massive impact by going offline.
Then top off your efforts with surprise rewards.
Maximize online techniques
Business e-commerce platforms come with built-in systems for communicating with visitors and buyers. Out-of-the-box they are very dull and transactional. They need to be customized to match your brand and your customers. They need to sound like conversations, not stilted text.
Personalize them using shortcodes, so the emails come to them, a person.
Test each one! I can’t tell you how frequently I get an email that includes my name in the header but opens with: Hi [Fname].
You need to know what your shoppers are receiving. Think of it this way—accuracy builds more value.
Statistics show it is worth the investment to have automation set up to follow your shopper through the buying journey and afterward. Coach them past the abandoned cart. Don’t neglect them after the sale. It’s prime time to up-sell, cross-sell, and show them how to maximize the product’s benefits.
Free reports, how-tos, and guides are all glicken to the buyer.
Connect offline for more glicken
In a world of emails, receiving something via mail is a novelty. When was the last time you got a birthday card or thank you note in the mail? It makes the sender stand out like a unicorn in a herd of donkeys.
Your value doesn’t always have to be free. A print newsletter or monthly report could be glicken. People have a higher perceived value for something in print over digital. You might consider a subscription for a monthly print offering. If you have a target market of 55+, this demographic is the most likely to prefer print over digital.
In this value-based relationship model, rewards can be anything. It could be expedited handling and shipping for those over a specific threshold.
You might give your circle of buyers advance notice of a pre-holiday sale event, especially if there are limited quantities. Or let them be the first to hear about a new product launch. As previous customers, they may be ready to buy something relevant—and give you valuable feedback on it.
I had a company that tucked a small, tan, lumpy envelope in every order. It held a stick of cinnamon and a positive quote, plus a hand-written thank you. I loved those little notes.
If you have product samples, those are also great to tuck into the package—and trigger more sales.
How-to-use graphics tucked into the order can also cross-sell and enhance the buyer’s experience.
Even the order itself can be glicken if they see you are making an effort to deliver the item using environmentally friendly packaging.
Online communications. Offline communications. And in-the-box communications can all build glicken and your lifetime customer value.
Need help finding glicken? I can help you discover glicken your customers will love. Message me: email@example.com.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
Value Content truly is king. Successful engagement and customer retention take more than sales. Your readers want interesting, relevant information—Value Content. You need it on your website, social media and in your emails.
Which emails do you prefer to receive value content or sales?
As a consumer and as a marketer, I frequently sign up to learn more about a company and/or their products. I want to know what they offer, what value they share, and the marketing techniques they use.
At least 85% of them send me emails that are sales notices. Sometimes, multiple times a week every week.
That 85% is missing an important success determiner.
Where is the recipient in their buying decision?
The people who respond to a sale notice already know the company and want the product. They are just waiting for a great price to buy it.
The rest of the audience may not have enough information yet to make a buying decision. The notice of a sale is probably not going to give them what they need.
That group will probably feel a little frustrated. They couldn’t get enough information or find what they wanted on your website or social media. That means lost sales.
They may hang around hopeful you will send something useful. Or they may just unsubscribe and look elsewhere. Even worse, they could tag you as spam, which can have its own repercussions.
Business owners and marketers need value content
As the business owner or marketer for your brand, you need to understand when to send sales copy and when to send informational content.
I’ve found in my work with clients, it is something often overlooked. The good news? The 15% of businesses that focus on the buyer’s journey have a wide-open field. This group focuses on providing useful information and guiding the prospect through the purchase and beyond. They engage them and build a relationship.
This business practice sets them apart from competitors by focusing on the customer’s need, rather than the sale.
When I added a monthly newsletter for one of my clients, it made a huge difference. The newsletter followed the best practices of at least 80% useful information. In the bottom section, they announced the monthly specials. In less than 10 months, the gross sales for this 20-year-old company increased by 22%.
Relevant value information for the target audience increased both sales and retention. Higher lifetime customer value.
Keep in mind…
It all goes back to your list. If your product offerings and/or your audience interests are diverse, you need to segment.
In some situations, different demographics may use the same product. But they may use it in different ways. That means your content writer has to address both uses in one email, or those groups need separating.
The emails that go out need to be focused on what is important to the audience segment that receives them.
3 types of value content to share
There are different types of value that you can share. Today’s consumer is looking for MORE information than ever before. They are looking for some things that weren’t a consideration two years ago.
Some information is great to share with your entire audience. Other things need to be segmented.
Share content on what’s new and upcoming
If you’re adding a new product or new division, your audience wants to know this. Again, this information may be full list appropriate or segmented.
If you have added a new social or environmental responsibility, your audience, your online family, will want to know. In today’s world, these are considered highly important steps. But follow up those announcements with documentation of actual implementation.
They want to see your words in action.
They also want to know you are taking care of your team.
Take them behind the curtain with staff, product and values content.
For many years, the brand was a product, a company. Now your audience wants to buy from a human being. Human to human.
This is crucial for online connections as you aren’t physically face to face.
They want to meet you and learn about your products, your values and your mission. They want to see these aren’t empty marketing words. Today’s buyer wants to connect with you and become part of your group, your tribe. We’ve been so disconnected, “being a part” of something is highly valued.
They love meeting your team, the people that create what they are buying or help take care of their needs.
Showcase new hires, promotions, or your employee of the month—and why.
Show the value this person brings and how they might interact with them.
This kind of showcasing has another function…staff loyalty and retention. We all crave to be recognized and appreciated. Show your business cares.
Useful product content
I use a Fitbit and MyFitness Pal. I get daily emails with helpful information. How to get the best results, how to maximize the interaction, and tips for success.
You want to do this with your products or services. Nurture them with useful, helpful content. Tips, techniques, and or success stories.
If it is a complex product, help them understand how it, or its ingredients, work to give them the desired result.
Share unique or new techniques customers discovered and shared via feedback or social.
Be sure to emphasize social channels you or your team are regularly active on. Let them know where to find you, how you answer questions and the best ways to reach you.
Judith Culp Pearson is a copywriter and content marketer for brands in the wellness sector. Products that help improve people’s lives. Need help to maximize your email marketing? Reach out to her via her website, Linked In, or by clicking her name link.
Empathy engagement is key to relationship building. It’s the marketing path to creating long-term loyal fans and relationships.
But you won’t find what you need in a ream of demographics. Numbers and statistics don’t tell you what their thinking, feeling, or how they are responding to you.
Before I moved into full-time copywriting marketing, I worked in the beauty industry. I helped thousands of women feel better, more confident, and happier because I solved problems for them.
I offered cosmetic and medical skin pigmentation, tattooing. Women with missing brow hair or busy lives loved eyebrows and eyeliner—makeup that stayed put.
However, the clients I engaged the deepest with were recovering from breast cancer.
I knew exactly how it felt to go through the trauma of diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, and reconstruction. I had been there myself. There is no going back; there is only moving forward.
They’d tell me their story. Each was unique. Then they often wanted to know mine. We engaged.
And then we started their journey to healing. The addition of 3-D color to a bare mound profoundly impacts how you see yourself in the mirror. The result offered liberation from the physical and psychological angst they had gone through.
It is tough to truly understand what’s going on inside your client’s head if you haven’t “walked in their shoes.”
Empathy marketing will increase your success.
Physically having had your prospects’ problem is powerful. Fortunately, there are ways around it. And even in a group of people who share a common problem, they don’t react the same way.
I had to learn to quickly spot how each client was coping and adapt my strategies to help them. It’s the same with our marketing. We have to take into account the different segments within our prospects.
Messages have to shift based on where the prospect is in their journey. You need to determine their level of awareness.
Those messages also have to be adapted based on their beliefs, biases, and personal experiences. But it all starts with research.
I didn’t develop this, but I did learn from an expert. The absolute master of empathy marketing was Eugene Schwartz, and he shares his secrets in a book called “Breakthrough Advertising.” (It’s available through Titans Marketing, LLC.)
It’s not a quick read. The book is intense and requires rereading and study, but the secrets are there to unfold.
One secret—you can’t fake it.
There are many marketers who “think” they know the client and charge off to create their marketing. The resulting response and sales will be lower than if research were completed.
It’s like trying to put a puzzle together with some of the pieces missing. Your prospect sees the holes.
Holes in your marketing puzzle weaken or break trust. And this loss of trust is apt to cause disengagement, loss of the sale, and loss of lifetime customer value.
Three steps to discover and employ empathy engagement
Research is where it starts. You have to dive into both your prospective buyer’s mind and into what you are offering—product or service.
With completed research you have the tools to employ emotion, empathy, and your message.
Research your prospect
All human desires can be placed into one of three categories. They fall into better health, increased wealth, and relationships. But we can’t stop with this superficial analysis.
What part of health do they want to improve? Why? What have they tried before? What were the results? The list of whats, whys, and hows can be extensive. It’s easy to stop too soon.
Keep in mind they are people and unique, but it is possible to find common denominators.
You want to discover what they will tell you about their need. Then seek out the underlying what they won’t tell you. Go deeper to get to the emotional what they can’t tell you. Now you understand their core motivator—something they have so locked away in their brain it may be a secret even to them.
Next analyze your product or service.
You’ll also do an analysis of the features and benefits of what you are selling. The features describe the physical product. You’ll want to create a detailed list.
Then dive into the benefits. Benefits are how it helps the buyer. “What it does.” That’s what people buy. They want the results.
You’ll want to know the USP—what makes this a unique solution, why and how. You’ll need to know its competition and gather proof and credibility.
What do your customers say about your product? LIkes, dislikes, questions, suggestions are all valuable.
Empathy engagement employs emotion and feelings.
Now that you know both your prospect and your product, you can start matching. You build connections or bridges between their needs and your solution.
Match the prospect’s desires and the product benefits/performances. Paint them pictures of how it’s going to make their life better. Whether in copy or content format, you help them discover why your product is the solution.
We all have the same emotions. Use words and images to make them smile, laugh, cry, feel joy or pain. Those emotions create experiences to inspire, connect and motivate them with our messages.
Look for ways to employ emotions and feelings to help them experience the benefits and results of the product. Through persuasive techniques, you move them along their journey until they have to buy. Then nurture and support them.
Ready to attract new buyers, increase lifetime buyer value, build sales, and more engagement? You need empathy-engaging content and copywriting. Let’s have a quick chat. You can message me: Judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.