Why Reputation Marketing Should Be A Top Marketing Priority

Feedback Satisfaction Information Business Office Working Concep64% of small businesses* claim word-of-mouth and customer referrals as their most effective marketing strategy for growing their business.

While word-of-mouth and customer referrals will always play an important role in the overall marketing plan there is an even bigger marketing strategy that many small business are overlooking when it comes to growing their business – reputation marketing.

Reputation marketing is defined by Wikipedia as “the evolution from the marriage of fields of online reputation management and brand marketing. In the socially connected world of the new millennium a brand’s rep is vetted online nearly in real-time by consumers leaving online reviews and citing experiences on social media websites.”

I would define reputation marketing as a marketing strategy that allows consumers to share and review their experiences with businesses that can result in additional online visibility and provide social proof of a business’s credibility.

Many small businesses have gracefully ignored the escalating popularity of social review sites and the role that social proof plays with consumers…hoping that they will not have to “mess with” and manage another marketing process or strategy.

Reputation Marketing cannot be ignored…

  1. Eighty six percent (86%) of respondents in a 2012 survey conducted by Pepperdine University School of Business stated that they have consulted an online review site before deciding on a company they would do business with.
  2. Seventy percent (70%) of consumers regularly put their trust in online reviews per a 2012 Nielsen study that questioned 28,000 internet users in 56 countries worldwide.
  3. Seventy-two percent (72%) of respondents in the same Nielsen study also stated that a bad review could turn them against a company which they had already done business with!

What does this mean?

Consumers are in control. It has been said in years past that an unsatisfied customer will tell 10 friends about their experience…today they are able to tell thousands (within seconds).

You can’t stop reviews. If you have a Facebook page, consumers can post a review. If you have claimed your Google Listing, consumers can post a review. Consumers can set up their own review of your business on Yelp….you get the point.

If you don’t manage your reputation your dissatisfied customers will. I think it’s safe to say that we hear more from dissatisfied customers than satisfied customers. If you do not have a strategy to get your satisfied customers to share their experience your only reviews will likely be unfavorable.

An Untapped Opportunity…

Statistics tell us that online reviews play a major role in social proof and building brand authority. Yet many businesses have not created a strategy for managing their online reputation.

Online reviews can be more powerful than a referral. Think about it, while you may get the occasional referral from a satisfied customer if you get an online review from a happy customer they are telling thousands of people! AND you will still get the verbal referrals you’ve always gotten as well. That’s a scaling strategy worth implementing!

Here’s six (6) tips you’ll want to keep in mind as you start to build your online reviews:

  1. Ask and you shall receive – It stands to reason that if you ask for an online review you are more likely to get an online review…the strategy is simple ASK. Ideally you should implement the asking as part of your email marketing follow up in a customer nurture campaign.
  2. Range – Don’t limit your reviews to just one or two social platforms (ie. Facebook and Yelp). Think of it this way, the more platforms you have reviews on the more visibility for your business.
  3. Focus on two social platforms at a time – This might seem contradictory to what I just shared with range. You want to have reviews on many different platforms but you must guide your customers to where you want them to leave their reviews. You can’t just say “hey, leave us a review” and not tell them where. Choose 2 – 3 platforms to build up and then move on to 2 – 3 more once you are happy with the number of reviews. Which leads me to my next point…
  4. Quantity – If one HVAC has 25 reviews on Google and the other HVAC Company has 2 reviews, who are you going to call? Do your research on your competition see how many reviews they have and then set your sites on a few more than they have. Once you have “claimed” your dominance move to another platform. Don’t forget to check on each platform as your competition will likely be implementing the same strategy as you are. Which leads me to the next point…
  5. Recent – It appears that companies that have recent reviews rank higher in terms of SERP’s (search engine result pages). This is another reason why you must revisit platforms to keep a consistent flow of NEW reviews from customers.
  6. Real – Online reviews carry a lot of weight because the reviews must come from REAL people (unlike testimonies that can be made up and no one would know…but that’s another subject for another day J). Don’t try to manipulate the system. Ask all clients to review your company don’t pick and choose who you ask. An occasional dissatisfied customer is an opportunity to show others how you handle challenges. Also keep in mind that reviews are a great way to spot weaknesses and an opportunity to get better based off customer feedback. Don’t get defensive – get responsive!

Knowing word-of-mouth and referrals play such a major role in the growth of small businesses it should be logical that we utilize a marketing strategy that gives our customers a platform to tell thousands! Implement reputation marketing strategy for your small business and capitalize on the social influence and exposure it can give your business.

SOURCE(S):

*2015 Infusionsoft Small Business Market Research Sales and Marketing Report

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Survey Results – How Entrepreneurs Spend Their Time and Money

How do Entrepreneurs spend their time and money when it comes to marketing their Small Business? Here are the results of Infusionsoft’s 2015 Small Business Survey identifying the number one challenge for Small Business Owners, how much is spent on marketing and activities Small Business Owners like most (and least).

Number One Challenge for Small Business Owners

It will come to no surprise to you that the number one challenge that Small Business Owners face is the “time to get everything Done”.

time challenge

When I coach my clients, I recommend using either Basecamp or Trello as one of the primary tools that can help save time. Both of these are project management tools that are easy-to-use and will help you get more done. Either of these tools can be used to manage a team of people or just to help you (the Business Owner) to manage your own time.

Loved and Hated Tasks

We say it all the time – “the Small Business Owner wears a lot of hats in business”…but we never really talk about which “hats” they like to wear and which hats they don’t. It’s probably a good idea to set some goals to hire people what can help you with the tasks that you don’t like (but are important to the overall growth and operation of your business).

tasks

It doesn’t surprise me that Small Business Owners enjoy customer service, product development, marketing and sales activities. These activities are at the heart of the business (just where the owners like to be). Eighty-three (83%) of entrepreneurs are involved in sales activites – even businesses owners with five or more employees were involved in sales sixty-nine (69%) of the time. I find this interesting…Are owners actively involved in selling because that’s where they should spend their time…or is there some control issues? Just an observation :)

Marketing Budgets

Here’s a really interesting one…I’m surprised at how low the marketing budget is in the list of priorities:

  • Forty-three (43%) of entrepreneurs are spending $200 a month or less in their marketing budgets
  • Thirty-three (33%) are spending between $200 – $1,000
  • Twenty-four (24%) spend more than $1,000 a month in marketing

I would be really interested in knowing if the 24% of entrepreneurs spending $1,000 are making more and have larger businesses than those who spend less that $1,000. I know what you might be thinking, “they probably do make more that’s why they can spend more”. While that might be true, I bet they were investing in their marketing all along (which is why they grew).

Let me elaborate on this for a minute…

To be wealthy, you must save – agree? You cannot wait to save otherwise you’ll never be wealthy – correct?

The same is true with marketing…

To grow your business you must invest in marketing (time and money). You cannot grow if you do not do this – correct? Say yes with me…. :)

So, if you want to grow…why wouldn’t you spend at least $200 a month to do so? (I’m only talking to the 43% of entrepreneurs that aren’t investing at least $200 a month of course). Just another observation…

Most Effective Sales and Marketing Strategies

Customer referrals / word of mouth come in at a whooping 62%. Second on the list email marketing at 34%.

most-effective-sales-and-marketing-overall

I have another speculation I’d like you to consider…

Is customer referrals / word of mouth ranked so high because that’s the most effective marketing strategy for Small Business growth? Or is referrals / word of mouth the strategy that most Small Business Owners invest their time in and therefore is leading? (I would also challenge that concept but that’s a whole other conversation…I think that more often than not Small Business Owners don’t have a strategy at all for referrals – it happens by chance or luck). What if we invested our time and money in being more effective in other areas of marketing…is there untapped potential? I believe so.

My question for you…

How committed are you to growing your business? I believe that you can tell very easily what is important to someone by looking at where their money flows. If “things” are important to someone – they tend to spend a lot of money on accumulating “things”. If someone really wants to be debt free – they don’t make minimum payments. Someone who likes to travel tends to spend money on traveling. Money flows to the areas that are most important to you.

So, if you know that you need to invest in marketing to grow your business…is your money flowing there?

Check where your money (and time) is flowing…that will tell you a lot about what’s really important to you.

IMAGE(S) SOURCE: Infusionsoft Blog – How Do Entrepreneurs Spend Their Time and Money?

 

 

Create Your Small Business Marketing Strategy

Here we are, Q1 of a brand new year. I know you are seeing the “motivational hupla” everywhere you turn. I’m not being negative…I’m being realistic. 92% of people who set New Year’s Resolutions simply will NOT achieve them. It’s not because they don’t want to – it’s that they have a false sense of what it takes to do it.

So, I am writing this blog to you – the small business owner, who is looking to grow your business this year as Your Marketing Coach. By this point (Monday, January 5, 2015), you should have at least written down your goals for this year (if you haven’t I’d start there – then come back and read the rest of this post). Writing your goals is the first step but certainly not the last (although it’s amazing to me at how many small business owners stop there).

Say it with me, “not this year!” (oh yea, and mean it). 

Just because you write down a goal does not mean that your fairy Godmother is going to swing by and sprinkle some success on your business goals. If you want things to change – some things need to change (I say this with love of course :).

So, what needs to change?

  1. You MUST write down what you want – this is up to you.
  2. You must have a strategy to get it – this is what I am going to share with you.
  3. You must implement the strategy –  this is up to you as well.

I know you’ve heard this before….but I am actually going to tell you what the strategy is.

Let’s get real for a minute. I don’t need to speak with you to know that your goal is to grow your sales (which produces more income). If I’m right, keep reading.

Sssooooooooooooo…if you want to grow your sales you need: new sales and upsells (to existing customers).

How do you grow new sales? Get more leads.

How do you grow your upsells? Delight the “crap” out of your customers so that they trust you and buy again as well as refer you.

How do you do that? Lifecycle Marketing. Here’s an over view of Lifecycle Marketing:

  • Create Awareness
  • Capture New Leads
  • Nurture Those Leads
  • Converts Those Leads into Sales
  • Delights The “Crap” Out of New Customers
  • Ask for Referrals (or an Online Review) from Customers

As you can see the Lifecycle Marketing Process is broken up into six steps. Each step in the process needs to have it’s own executable strategy for the process to produce the desired outcome.

So, I have an offer for you. I have created a FREE Membership Training Program where I walk you through each step in the Lifecycle Marketing process to teach you how to: create awareness, capture leads, nurture your leads, convert them into a sale, ideas for delighting, and asking for referrals or an online review. The training program also includes a workbook that you use to create a strategy specific to your business.

If you are interested in learning how to Launch Your Lifecycle Marketing Strategy CLICK HERE to sign up and get instant access.

What you do matters to your family, your customers and your community. Give your small business the best chances of success by creating and implementing a strategy that works – and produces results! I wish you all the best in 2015!!! See you on the inside :)

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Benchmark Your Sales and Marketing Performance

Where do sales really come from? It is your website, tradeshows, social media, or good ole’ fashioned referrals?

Implisit analyzed the pipelines of hundreds of companies to discover the channels that deliver the highest sales conversion rate.

READ THIS entire article before you jump down to the stats in the infographic Implisit created and start changing your thoughts, ideas, and strategies for your marketing.

It is extremely important to keep in mind that MARKETING is about building relationships and trust. SALES is the exchange of money for products or services.

Why is this important?

What marketing activity that captures the lead may not be the same activity that is effective in actually converting the lead into a sale. EXAMPLE: If you look in the middle of the infographic below it states; “Webinars convert to opportunities, but don’t close”. Webinars are a fantastic tool to use to capture a lead (showing 17.8% conversion average) but only has 2.5% sales conversion.

So what does this mean?

While webinars are a great TOFU (top-of-funnel) lead generation tool it is not the most effective tool in closing sales. BTW, webinars are also a great MOFU (middle-of-funnel) tool that can help nurture leads.

My point…

While this graphic is stuffed with great information, please do not misinterpret what you are reading. Marketing and sales are two activities that work together to achieve a desired outcome…they are two different processes…and should be treated as such.

Unfortunately, many small business marketers lump these two activities together as if they are the same thing – and they are not. Because they lump the two together they lack the results they were expecting and become frustrated. Without this fundamental understanding of the difference between marketing and sales one could easily misinterpret the information in this infographic (below).

So, with that being said…let’s take a look at the numbers.

unnamed

Use this information to benchmark your results against these companies. How are you stacking up? I find that many small business marketers struggle with the first step in capturing leads the most. If you struggle with building your prospect list I have a program that might interest you!

It’s my List Builder Program. A step-by-step program where I will teach you how to create and build a lead generating machine to help you grow your prospect list WHILE making instant sales at the same time! You can learn more about my List Builder Program HERE.

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Marketing Lesson from Elf on the Shelf

Marketing lesson from multi-million dollar franchise Elf on the Shelf.

Elf on the Shelf launched in 2005 as a Christmas tradition that snowballed from a simple poem to a multi-million dollar franchise with over 149% year-over-year growth (Fortune).

THE STORY

Carol Aebersold wrote the story with her daughter Chanda Bell as a tale of a scout elf who reports children’s behavior to Santa each night and then flies back to their homes in the morning often finding a new place to sit and observe children’s behavior.

Carol, Chanda, and Christa Pitts (Chanda’s twin sister) joined forces and self published five thousand $30 box sets of Elf on the Shelf seven years ago after receiving countless rejections from publishers. One publisher even responded that “Elf on the Shelf is destined for the damaged goods bin”. There were no investors to fund the production just the recent sale of Pitts’ home and a newly opened credit card. As hard work would have it, the three hard working women sold every unit of Elf of the Shelf that year.

Elf on the Shelf started in two small local markets where the three founders attended local community holiday festivals to sell the product. Then their success story began to unroll. By the end of 2005, eighteen storefronts carried the toy. In 2007 the paparazzo snapped a picture of Jennifer Garner carrying the Christmas toy and the market went wild. Soon following, the Today’s Show ran the story again with Elf on the Shelf in the background and the floodgates opened.

MARKETING LESSON

Elf on the Shelf is not just a toy or a tradition – it’s a story, a community, relate-able, fun and engaging.

“If we were going to be successful, we had to get people to embrace the brand” (Christina Pitts).

When most people think of a brand they think of corporate branding: a logo, tagline, and voice that communicates with their target audience. The challenge with corporate branding (especially as a Small Business Marketer) is that audiences are less tolerant of push marketing tactics on social media. Gone are the days of B2B and B2C; as Bryan Kramer says, “we are now marketing Human to Human #H2H“. 

Humans have a story, are fun, relate-able, and engaging.

The marketing strategy of Elf on a Shelf is one that brings human life, personality, and relationships to the Elf (the company even suggests that you name your Elf and register him on their website).

So what do you do if you don’t have a toy Elf (or a duck in the example of Aflac) to become the voice / personal brand of your small business?

The key is aligning your company brand alongside personal branding to become more “human”. Being “human” is more than a strategy it’s a culture – a belief system. Being “human” requires:

  • Authenticity
  • Vulnerability
  • Transparency
  • Emotion
  • Humbleness
  • Social
  • Interactive
  • Responsive

When you look at this list of “human” qualities how does your business compare? Are you sharing relate-able stories, being vulnerable, showing emotion, or interacting with your audience or are you only pushing out advertising messages (and inadvertently pushing your audience away)?

I challenge you to embrace personal branding in your marketing in 2015. You will see just how powerful being relate-able, fun, and engaging can be in helping you grow your online communities, build your marketing list, and sell more. Be fun – have fun – and connect more and watch your business soar (hey, that rhymed!).

Oh yea, I almost forgot…here’s a couple pictures of what Ralph (our elf) has been up to this year :) What’s your elf been up to?

elf_snow_angel

Elf_marshmallow

 
 
 
 

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Get the best “bang for your marketing buck” in 2015 – Local Small Business Marketing

Finger GunLocal Small Business Marketing

As a small business marketing coach I am often asked, “what should I focus on to get the biggest bang for my buck when it comes to marketing my business”?

While that is quite the loaded question I will say that as we head into 2015 there are four main marketing trends that local small business can no longer ignore if they want to be found online and be effective in their marketing. Those trends are local listings, mobile, video, and text marketing.

There are a ton of statistics to illustrate these trends, let me start off by sharing a few that should make you think twice about your current marketing strategies and focus:

THE IMPORTANCE OF LOCAL LISTINGS

  • Google’s search engine accounts for 74% of all local business searches (MDGadvertising).

MOBILE NEWS LOCAL BUSINESSES CAN’T IGNORE

  • The most important information that mobile searchers want to see about a local business on maps are their hours of operation (56%), special offers and coupons (37%), ratings and reviews (33%), products and services (26%), and the businesses’ website URL (24%) (comScore Report).
  • “Nearly 80 percent of local searches on mobile devices turned into purchases,” according to the comScore report, with about 76% of those purchases happening on the same day the user performed their local search (comScore Report).

VIDEO – THE PROVEN SOLUTION TO CONVERSIONS

  • Video in email marketing has been shown to increase click-through rates by over 96% (Implix).
  • Visitors who view product videos are 85% more likely to buy than visitors who do not (internet Retailer).
  • Using video on landing pages can increase conversion by 80% (eyeviewdigital.com).

AN UNTAPPED RESOURCE – TEXT MARKETING

  • Text messages are usually read within 5 seconds of receipt! (The 60 Second Marketer)
  • SMS coupons are 10 times more likely to be redeemed than print or email coupons (The 60 Second Marketer).
  • 70% of people say they would actually like to receive offers on their mobile phones! (The 60 Second Marketer)

What does this translate into for the local small business marketer?

It is essential that local small businesses do a website audit this year to ensure that their site is mobile ready. Knowing that video produces substantial increase in purchasing probability should tell us that if we really want the best bang for our buck we should incorporate video marketing in our strategy for 2015. Local listings have been important for local small businesses to be found for some time now but I still see many businesses that are ignoring this valuable part of the SEO strategy…make 2015 the year you focus on implementing directory listings in your SEO planning. Lastly, text marketing is a resource that has been untapped for businesses as a whole. If you are looking for a way to maximize your marketing dollars – text marketing is the way to do it…after all, your customers are ASKING for you to offer it!

Here’s to a successful launch into 2015.

 

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