There’s just a lot of marketing noise this time of year. Many businesses think they can capture subscribers’ attention with increasingly desperate offers: 15% off one week, 20% off the next, then 25% off, etc. etc.
But it is possible to stand out during the holiday season without offering those kinds of discounts. You may not win the price war, but you can expect to capture your audience’s attention with relevant content, a mobile presence, and customer reviews. And that will benefit you in the long run, not just between now and the end of the year.
Here are three ways to stand out:
1. Relevant content. Plain and simple: If you are sending relevant content, you will stand out. You’re reading this blog post because it’s covering a topic you care about. Your customers are going to read your emails and social media posts for the same reason. Not only does relevant content based on your customers’ interests help you stand out, it can lead to as many sales as free or discounted shipping offers can.
Delivering relevant content is easy to do! On your social media pages, pay attention to what your fans and followers respond to and engage with. Create more posts like that. For email, pay attention to what subscribers are clicking on and what they said they wanted at sign up, and send them targeted relevant mailings about those topics. Just in time for the holidays, you’ll see a higher open rate and clickthrough rate when you need it most.
2. Mobile. Your customers are on their mobile devices, and the businesses that are there too are the ones that stand out. It’s not just about having a mobile-friendly website but thinking about all the places people can find your business online. You should expand your presence because, according to Microsoft, 70% of all mobile searches result in action within one hour. Be there when customers are looking for you! And don’t stop there. Continue to engage them at your location. Make it easy for people to join your email list with their mobile phones using Text-to-Join.
3. Reviews. Do you trust ads? I don’t, and apparently, the majority of consumers don’t either. What your customers do trust is consumer reviews. They search for them online, they ask their social networks, and they rely on those before making a purchase. In fact, 71% of consumers say online reviews are important when considering purchasing a product. Reviews are important, so ask for them! Ask people to share their thoughts and opinions in an online survey, a Facebook poll, or just by directing them to your Yelp page. Once you have the reviews, don’t stop there. Promote them! Quote customer comments in your emails, link to them from your Facebook Page, or use a QR code to link to them in your store.
By talking to your customers about what they care about, engaging them where they are with mobile, and validating your messages with reviews, you can set your business apart this holiday season, no discounts needed.
With a bit of creative writing, a small business can have big results from a blog. Many of my clients often ask, "What do I blog about?" and to this I have a question for them, "What are they interested in?" Below are other ideas to spark that creative writer hidden within all of us.
What to write about - a mini-brainstorming session
- Future developments in your industry
- Newsworthy (industry related) items that affect your clients directly
- Ways you are incorporating "Green Living" into your life or business (studies show internet buyers are most interested in purchasing/doing business with people who are environmentally conscious).
- How is your business different from your competitors? Quality? Variety of Services? Price?
- Articles that address ways your product/service can help/benefit your customers
- Broadcast sales or promotions
- Announce new services
- Share links about your industry, new products in the industry, etc
- Include photos and descriptions of your [new] products
Just to give you an example: A friend of mine is starting up a business for her husband who does carpentry, building furniture, etc. I told her she should put a blog on her site and received the typical, "Why, what would we write about?" My reply was this. If someone is looking into a reputable carpenter for building furniture, I would want to know more about the furniture, his skills, what makes his furniture of the quality I would want, or how his is different from something I could purchase at IKEA. This definitely was an "ah-hah" moment for the client.
Promoting your blog
- Post each new blog on your site, then spread the word to Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Here you can create an account and post a link back to your website blog article. Email your friends/contact that you've posted it. They can then vote for it on StumbleUpon, Digg it, Reddit, etc. This gets the visitor to your site to continue reading, to help your SEO.
- Add an RSS Feed to your articles so readers can stay abreast of new postings.
- Monitor what people leave for comments too. Comment on their comments. Keep the communication going.
- eMail (eNewsletter, eVite) Marketing can also be a valuable way to get out informational and educational blog articles out to potential clients. Start the article in your email and link back to your site for them to continue reading.
In times like this many business owners are looking for creative new outlets to attract potential clients. I cannot stress the importance of starting a blog on your website NOW. Reasons for this: It is predicted that 100,000 new blogs are created every day! As they say, “Timing is everything.”
With the popularity of blogs rapidly increasing now is the time to jump on the wagon. This doesn’t mean you have to blog everyday or even have every topic be ground-breaking. What it does mean is that you are getting the information out there to be found and linked to by potential clients. Over time, these links grow exponentially and soon, your site will have many inbound links to it.
A few basics
Albeit tempting to create a blog at a dedicated blogging site like “Wordpress” or “Blogger”, this doesn’t accomplish the same results as having a blog located at your own domain.
Two reasons for this: it will drive more traffic to YOUR website instead of the dedicated blog site, and you will be able to track hits pertaining to what articles they are most interested.
WHY you need a blog
Blogs help you target and attract more of your audience for several reasons:
- This is another outlet for potential customers that are going to search engines to locate you. You will be providing information based on what your customers are searching/shopping. If they came to your blog, then the must be interested in your product/service, right?
- Think of a blog and your website as free advertising space. Sure you pay for hosting and the domain (like $60/year!?!), but what a great ROI if the visitors you are attracting are converted into customers.
- Fresh content helps with your ranking. Frequently updated sites are “crawled” more often and therefore will rank higher. This is seen by search engines as being a worthwhile site with valuable content.
- Visitors will be more tempted to bookmark your site and return to it if there is worthwhile content. More visits means better ranking in search engines.
- Blogs allow for 2-way communication that brings a sense of knowing who you are working with.
So how do you create specific, attainable, and ambitious goals that will lead you to take action? Let’s take a look at the steps.
Step 1: Set SPECIFIC goals
You took a good hard look at your website and — yikes — when did it get so out of date?! It might need updating to be mobile responsive or include some client testimonials to help you attract prospects into calling you. Don’t just make your goal “update website” or “add testimonials.”
Break the goal into specific actions that are doable and lend to achieving them. For example, a more specific goal might be, “submit mobile responsive project to two web designer contacts — need a bid and proposed timeline,” or “email all clients from the past six months a link to leave feedback and a testimonial.”
Being specific will help you better define your goals and shed more light on what needs to be done by providing step-by-step instructions.
Step 2: Set ATTAINABLE goals
You’ve made your goals specific, now make sure they are attainable. This may sound simple, but it’s probably the hardest thing to do.
It’s great to know what your goals are. It’s better to break them down into specific actions that require specific instructions. But, if the chance of you completing them is little to none, well then, you’re not setting yourself up for success, are you?
Here are some suggestions to make your goals more attainable:
- Make your goals non-negotiable. Set them in firm language and set parameters and expectations as you would for your client. Your goals should not be an option; they should be an obligation you have to yourself and your business.
- Build in accountability. For some, accountability means publicly declaring or sharing your specific goals and your plan to achieve them with those within your company or close network. For others, this means having an accountability partner who also is looking to improve their business.
- Don’t go it alone! Constant Contact, can offer you expertise, advice, and resources to help you achieve your goals.
Step 3: Set AMBITIOUS goals
Now that you know your goals and have been specific with steps that will make them attainable, it’s important to remember to be ambitious. Don’t sell yourself short!
As marketers, we know how to map out carefully constructed plans geared towards our client’s goals, normally holding little to nothing back in making them successful. However, when setting our own goals, many of us shoot for just being able to check off the box vs. breaking out of the box.
Part of this is due to the fact we’d rather succeed than fail, that’s understandable. But part of the reason many of us are not setting ambitious enough goals is that we don’t take the time to ask ourselves the why behind our goals?
For example, maybe you want to offer social media marketing services to all of your clients in 2018. But why? Is it because everyone else does? That’s not a genuine why and ambitions are likely to run flat.
Is it because you’ve been fine-tuning your social media marketing for the past year on yourself (and one test client) and you’re excited to bring that same plan to increase engagement to your clients just as you have done for yourself? Well then, that is both an ambitious and motivating why.
Knowing your why will make the purpose clear and fuel your ambition.
Step 4: Set TIMELINES
Don’t overlook timelines when setting goals. Without them, you diminish your accountability and the likelihood of completing your goals.
Why are timelines so important?
- They provide the framework for what needs to be done by helping you break goals into specifics.
- They set clear expectations by allowing you to realistically mapping out what it takes to reach each goal.
- They often serve as the connection between two or more goals that rely on one another to be completed before the next step may be taken.
- They establish a set of benchmarks in the event something needs to be shifted or modified.
When following these four steps for successful goal setting for marketers, we’re certain this year you’ll do more than meet your needs, you’ll most likely exceed them!