Build Your Reputation then Grow Your Reach

Build Your Reputation then Grow Your Reach

Build Your Reputation then Grow Your Reach.

reputation managementLetting more people know about your business today than yesterday is part and parcel of being in business, growing a business and ultimately making a success of business. Without a continued drive to reach more targeted clients with an attractive and relevant proposition, customer acquisition will grind to a halt.

But what if the product and service that you are driving people’s attention back to is below par? Are you wasting your advertising money? Are you simply glossing over the bigger problem?

In Forresters Customer Experience Index 2013*, top ten customer experience leaders have a three year growth pattern better than twice that of the top ten U.S. advertisers. So does it not make sense that rather than working hard to get a million people to know about your business, would it not be better to focus on the product and service to:

  • make a product that is worth shouting about!
  • provide an experience that is second to none!
  • build a brand that is synonymous with excellence!

In an age where the customer has so much buying power thanks to the internet, businesses are no longer competing with the 1 or maybe 2 other firms in the same location. They are dealing with every firm across the country and beyond, many of whom share similar if not the same advertising messages.

The internet means that barriers to entry in some niches are greatly reduced, companies like Amazon and Google shopping mean that you can have a virtual shop open in a matter of hours, trade from your back bedroom and have next day delivery to clients.

Look at the legal sector, a market that was for so long dominated by long time established local firms who would quite literally handle all legal matters; family, business, wills and probate for an entire family is now challenged by internet companies that can offer the advice online for a fraction of the cost. Even Google has got into the legal game by backing Rocket Lawyer in the UK which will closely be followed by Legal Zoom who are partnering with the Quality Solicitors franchise to offer traditional legal services via the internet.

The main thing that happens through increased competition is commoditisation, lowering of costs and ultimately reduced profits. However, if your reputation is second to none, if you are associated with delivering great service, on time and on budget then why should you lower your cost? Your USP is the fact that you are great at what you do, you are experienced, you are trustworthy and more importantly other people think so and publically endorse you too.

When firms go after increasing brand awareness and targeting greater numbers this can be a complete waste of time if you don’t have that USP in the first place. All the advertising investment in the world cannot make up for the fact that when people search for your business in Google, once they have seen your advert they are met with a torrent of negative comments and testimonials from past clients of your business. The vast majority of those clients will NOT deal with you, they WILL find the next service provider who has a good reputation and choose them, even if it costs a little more because they will have more confidence in the fact that they can deliver over you.

So, before you go and invest thousands on your online marketing take a long look at what people are saying about you online and ask yourself honestly if you were a potential customer would you work with yourself?

If the answer is yes then put together a campaign based around your offer and get it out in front of targeted potential clients and track the results. If the answer is No, then forget advertising until you can honestly and truthfully answer, “Yes I would work with this firm”.

*Source: Forresters Customer Experience Index 2013

You Are What Ever Your Clients Say You Are!

You Are What Ever Your Clients Say You Are!

You Are What Ever Your Clients Say You Are!

With the ever increasing amount of messages that each individual customer is exposed to, buyers’ expectations are rising and it is becoming harder to earn audience trust. Without trust there is little chance of building long term profitable business relationships. That is why being customer focused should not only be at the heart of your marketing but also at the basis of everything that you do.

This next sentence may shock people; in fact it might even offend some business owners!

Nobody cares what you think about your product, your service or your business because to all intents and purposes that is a canned and measured response.

What people want to know about your company is the stories people tell about it!

The sooner you accept that what other people say is far more important to the success of your business than what you have to say, the better for your business and the easier it will be on your finances.

If the word surrounding your business is positive, then great! Capitalise on that buzz and attract as many targeted people as you can to witness that buzz for themselves so they too can become interested in what you do, how you do it, how they can become a part of it and share it with those that they know.

On the other hand if the general consensus is that your business is poor and does not deliver on what it says it does then STOP!

stop sign

Take a step back, listen to what people are saying, assess where the problem is and put things right. Then ask people again to judge you on how you are doing?  When the feedback comes back positive then you can look at growing once again.

People need to see for their own eyes what others are saying about your business before making a commitment to become a business partner. To help people make up their mind you should think about the following steps that can improve the return on your marketing investment:

Know your customer – The more you know about your customer, the easier it will become to provide that personalised message. If you have an image of what your customer looks like, what books they read, what makes them happy, where they live, or what industry they work in, then attracting that prospect to become a lead or a customer will be far easier and over time will cost less as conversions will be higher.

Consistency – When a prospect is considering joining your business there is no doubt that your sales and support staff will be there to allow that person to feel a part of how your business runs. If this changes, i.e. the point of contact is no longer available, support staff are currently always engaged or not available at all, then your client is soon going to be disgruntled.

Be consistent with your offering to the client and manage expectations from the outset as to what the client can and should expect from your business and stick to it.

Communicate – Don’t just talk to the customer, make the relationship a two way street. Many people don’t like the idea of giving power to the customer. The truth of the matter is that the internet has given the power to the customer anyway, so deal with it by giving them great things to say about you, and often.

Businesses are now more transparent than ever, honesty and openness is expected so embrace it and allow your business to thrive on it.

Always be listening – Review sites have given the consumer many more options to get their opinions heard. It is no longer in the power of the business to send out a periodic questionnaire as a customer can now go on Yelp, Google+, Qype, Touch Local, Twitter or Facebook and express an opinion. This can happen 24/7/365 and the results mean that  anyone searching for information about your business will see consumer generated content, comments, opinions and real life experiences of working with you and your business.

listening

Have a system in place where you can constantly monitor what is being said about your business and your online reputation, and be prepared to deal with negative criticism when they arrive.

You cannot please everybody, but how you resolve the situation with those that are unhappy when the eyes and ears of the world are on you can impact how prospective clients view your business both in a positive and negative light.

Act Decisively – In the past if you had a problem with a product or service you would go to the customer service desk, ask for the manager or perhaps fill out a customer complaint form to get an apology and a promise from the manager that the issue would be investigated and resolved. What would happen after that is anybody’s guess!

Now it is a completely different kettle of fish. The public nature of the social web means that when somebody has something negative to say about your company you need to act decisively as in the digital world things can quickly escalate.

By embracing the voice of your customers in the digital world your business will be available and responsive to your ideal client’s needs which are essential to building great customer relationships.

If you don’t treat your customers with the trust, respect and care they deserve and bought into when signing up with your business, there is a string of eager and dedicated competitors that will be more than happy to take those clients from you.

A Business Lesson from Rhianna: Adding Joint Ventures Under Your Lead Generation Umbrella, ella, ella!

A Business Lesson from Rhianna: Adding Joint Ventures Under Your Lead Generation Umbrella, ella, ella!

What Rhianna Can Teach Small Business Owners About Joint Ventures!

joint venturesOne of the great tricks of the trade in business, whatever your business may be, is forming joint venture partnerships or collaborating with other businesses. This can add additional revenue by providing your existing customers with further services to add in to what they’ve already bought from you, or it could introduce you to a whole new marketplace.

One of the best examples of great collaboration is the pop star Rihanna. She’s hugely successful all over the world, sells millions of records, has an enormous fan base, millions following her on Twitter and the Paparazzi and gossip magazines can’t get enough.

What is most interesting from a business point of view though is the partnerships she’s made with other artists. She’s worked with acts like Eminem, Coldplay, Justin Timberlake, David Guetta and Jay Z amongst many, many others. Typically, all these artists have very different fan bases and styles, yet Rihanna has had a huge amount of success from these collaborations.

The reason this has been such a great strategy for her is that each collaboration puts her in front of a different fan base. It forces the radio stations to play more of her songs because they include other people, again appealing to multiple fans for the radio station. It’s also great for the artists Rihanna works with as it puts their work out to a wider audience courtesy of Rihanna’s huge fan base.

Rihanna’s many and varied collaborations also shows that it pays to think outside the box. On the surface, a Rihanna fan may be very different to an Eminem fan, and yet between them Rihanna and Eminem have managed to produce a record to appeal to both sets of fans.

This concept of collaboration is something that can be applied to any other business too. Think about a gap in your customer base that you have struggled to make headway into, and then think about how that niche is best served at the moment.

Possible Ideas for Joint Ventures

For example, if you own a cake shop, a less obvious partner may be a slimming club! But you could partner with a slimming club to sell healthy cakes and recipes for healthy cakes, or run an offer exclusive to the slimming club members. This would ensure that you win customers from a group of people who might otherwise shun cakes. Of course, there may also be some of your regular customers hoping to lose a few pounds, meaning that the slimming club would also benefit!

Another example might be for a tailor or alteration shop to partner with a cobbler so that customers can get their shoes and clothes fixed under a joint offer.

If you are an estate agent and new properties come on to your list that have been left vacant but filled with old furniture, then you may think about striking up a deal with a house clearance firm that will come in and take away the furniture. The estate agent gets a clean and tidy space to market and the house clearance firm gets to make some money from reselling the furniture.

The Benefits of Joint Ventures

team effortOne of the great benefits of joint ventures is that you get to benefit from the marketing efforts of the business you partner with. In Rihanna’s case she possibly benefits from the album sales of her partner, along with their tour publicity.

While your own collaborations may not be as beneficial as Rihanna’s , partnering with another business can still bring you great referrals and leads.

How do you find businesses to collaborate with?

You could maybe start by joining a local networking group and meeting with other likeminded business owners. Get an idea of their goals and challenges to see if there is any way that you and your business can help to fill the gap. Maybe a Web designer and an SEO specialist could help each other, or a Landscape Gardener and a Kitchen designer could try marketing to each other’s clients.

Collaboration has to be two ways. You shouldn’t expect someone else to put in the hard work and for you to get all the benefit.  It’s up to you and your business creativity to find the right collaboration for your business, and to figure out at what level that relationship should be at. So if you and another business decide to market to each other’s databases do you get

  • A  commission for any leads that convert?
  • A referral fee?
  • Or would you just be pleased with the opportunity to get your brand in front of some new names?

Only you can figure out what is right for you and your brand.

Even if there is no obvious way to put an offer together between your business and another business you could look at just referring people, or something really basic like putting an advert in your shop window. Just make sure that you can track the leads that you’re sending their way so that you get the recognition you deserve!

If you want to move your brand in a different direction then collaboration with someone who’s already an expert in that field or well established in the local business market can help get you there. This can be something as simple as having guest posts on your blog. The other person would get the exposure on your website, you would gain credibility from having an expert opinion.

Remember that in business even if you work alone you don’t need to do all the work yourself. Whether you outsource work to a third party, bring in a consultant for a specific job or your team up with other businesses to provide client with a great experience, it’s likely that the right joint venture is out there waiting to be found. It’s up to you to make your business partnerships as successful as Rihanna’s!