Marketing & lead generation

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Are you friends with your clients and vendors?

I’m a people person. I like people. And I like talking. I don’t like being fake, though, so I tend to be straight up with people. As a result, I find that I connect with a lot of people. Because I run a business, this means that some of my clients and vendors have become close friends over the years. In turn, many of my friends seek me out as a supplier.

I grew up in a small town and so it seems completely normal to have such blurry boundaries in my life. In a community, people do business with people they trust. If you trust someone, it makes sense that you might sometimes see a friendship emerge. And, if you have friends who need business services, you may sometimes find yourself in a business relationship with those friends. Sure, it makes for some complicated dealings, but it means that there’s some authenticity to the business relationships you have. Why would you treat your clients and vendors any differently than the other people in your life? Trust is at the core of any relationship, whether it’s business or personal.

That being said, boundaries are important. If you do find yourself socializing with clients, service providers, suppliers or others, you may want to think about ways to keep the relationship feeling safe and sustainable. Often, working with written agreements for business can help keep things clear.

Are you friends with your clients or vendors?

How to Set Up a Website or Blog with Bluehost

So you’re looking to set up a personalized email address, website or blog. I’m a Bluehost affiliate partner and I want to be clear that I receive a commission if you sign up with them. You are certainly welcome to set up a website, blog or personalized email anywhere. I spent a fair bit of time researching where to send Consultant Journal readers, though, and I chose Bluehost because they’ve been around the block, they’re a recognized name and their approach seems good. I’ll walk you through the steps.

  1. Click here to go to the Bluehost website (it will open in a new window).

bluehost welcome screen

 

Got it? Good. I am a big WordPress fan and I find it’s pretty easy for most people to set up, so I suggest going with that.

2. Choose a plan.

I’m a bit of a klutz, so I like having a backup for my websites. You can choose any of these plans, but I personally feel most comfortable with one that comes with a site backup, so that I can recover anything I lose. However, when I was starting out, I used to just keep copies of my stuff in a folder saved in the cloud. If you’re just going to have a few pages, you can start that way. However, think about whether you also want domain privacy. I also pay the extra for my sites to have my registration details kept private, so that I don’t end up with someone showing up at my office or home unannounced, except for the courier folks who bring my chocolate subscription!

Okay. So click the plan you want.

3. Choose a domain.
There are lots of places you can buy domain names and you’re certainly welcome to choose one from your vendor of choice. Bluehost includes a free domain with your registration setup, though, so you might want to stick with them and keep it simple.

If you’re choosing a domain name, I recommend going for something short and sweet. I’m a bit biased to .com domains, but it’s fine to look at other options. With so many people just relying on search engines and links, you have a bit more flexibility these days. Still, I prefer to find something short and easy to spell, pronounce and remember. I also suggest making sure you aren’t infringing on any trademarks or existing business names. You may want to try using the domain suggestion tool to find something, if your preferred options are taken.

Make your choice and click next. Depending on what you chose, you’ll either be on to your domain naming or the payment details.

4. Set up your account

Now you’re on to the account information screen. Provide your registration details. (Many countries require you to provide your contact information to comply with laws about website registration.)

Then choose your package. (It’s okay to choose the shortest time frame. You don’t have to go for three years and, although, as a partner, you might think I’d push you to go for the longest term, I suggest you just do a shorter term, so that you get a taste of what’s happening.) You can’t pay by the month, but you can choose a 1, 2, 3 or 5-year package that works out to a decent monthly amount.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I set up website, I click the domain privacy protection button. I don’t like my personal details out there for anyone to find. If you happen to work from home, it’s especially important that you consider a privacy plan – it doesn’t add very much and it keeps your address and other details private. Otherwise, just ignore all the special offers and details.

5. Add your billing details

website cc account details

 

 

 

 

 

Read the fine print and the terms, cancellation and privacy policy. If you agree, click submit.

6. Create your password.

website password setup

 

 

 

 

You’re almost there.

 

Click the Congratulations button.

congrats

And there you go. You’re done.

Okay. You’re all set up. You can set up your email, website or blog now.

While you can choose one of the website themes they offer, I generally stick with the themes that come with WordPress. That’s because themes get updates fairly regularly and you could be stuck with an out-of-date theme that hackers would exploit. (This has happened to me and it really hurt my brand. So now I make sure I use popular themes, not custom or one-off themes.)

Go check out your new domain – and don’t be surprised when you see it isn’t ready yet. It takes a while for all the new domain and name server info to percolate through the Internet. Give it a day or two. But, in the meantime, you can start building.

Click the all done button:

all done

Set up on WordPress

wordpress set up

 

 

Ta da!

So, from here, I would just click “I don’t need help.” Okay, I understand. You’re thinking, “BUT I DO NEED HELP!” I get it. It’s just that the options with the blue buttons come with things set up and then you might find you’re trying to undo some of what’s been set up. If you click “I don’t need any help”, you can start from scratch and just set up the way you want.

If you’re just doing a blog, you can simply have one page and do everything there.

If you’re doing a website, I recommend you do what I teach my university students! Set up the main home index page, About and Contact. From there, you might want to add pages for Blog, Services, Products. Keep it simple.

Check your email

Make sure you’ve activated any account and website links sent to you by Bluehost.

STUCK? HAVING TROUBLE? CONFUSED?

Contact Bluehost at https://www.bluehost.com/contact. Calling usually works better than chatting and, personally, I find I usually connect better with people on the phone, when I can hear their voice.  I don’t have your account information! Bluehost has all that and they can help you figure things out.

Enjoy your new website or blog!

5 ways to reduce client churn and turnover

Looking for a way to boost your bottom line? Taking steps to reduce client churn – account turnover – can help. Maintaining a strong relationship with existing clients and past clients offers an opportunity to improve efficiency and revenues.

Client churn or loss of customers can be a critical situation for any business. When you face turnover from even a small percentage of clients, it can reduce your revenue and tie up valuable resources as you try to recover. It can also affect your reputation.

Fortunately, by taking time to understand causes of client churn, you can figure out what causes clients to turnover – and what you can do about it.

Build credibility

Trust forms the base of customer relationships. Focus on clients most likely to be a good fit. If your client feels that you are not being honest in your dealings, they may stop engaging or returning and may even start telling others to do the same. Strive to build a culture of trust with clients. Be honest, predictable and reliable.

Set client expectations

Every client has individual needs, wants and expectations. By working with the client to understand their unique situation, you can help them build a vision to overcoming problems and finding solutions. As part of that, you need to position your services and products as key, without pushing anything on the client. If a client feels that there’s a lack of fit and that you’re not meeting their expectations, they won’t want to come back.

By taking the time to build relationships, you can better set client expectations. Let them know when you can and can’t help – and work with them to find solutions, even if you need to refer them to others to create a complete solution. Focus on delivering high quality services and products that align with your client’s needs and expectations. Wherever possible, under promise and over deliver.

Leverage champions

Your current clients can amplify your brand. They not only may continue to buy – they can influence others to buy from you. Create a marketing campaign focused on your current clients. Since you’ve already done the hard work of winning them over, it should be less work to convince them to buy again than to find new clients. Remind them why they sought you out, what successes they have and how they can continue working with you. You can also create a referral program to encourage them to use word-of-mouth to market your business.

Deliver outstanding customer experiences

In the age of globalization and online services, clients can easily move to new providers. But, by building a relationship that delivers a superior customer experience, you can help retain them – and make changing providers feel like a bigger risk. Listen to each clients’ needs and encourage them to give you feedback. Rather than getting caught up in conflict, look for opportunities to meet complaints, better explain options and even cross-sell your products and services. Clients prefer to work with providers who value their input and their experiences – so set up a feedback system and a way for responding. Look for opportunities to communicate how you’re responding to feedback and continuing to innovate.

Reward loyal clients

Create loyalty programs for clients to reduce churn and turnover. While that might make you think of a little card that your local coffee shop stamps each time you buy a coffee, this concept can scale up to even Fortune 500 firms. You can offer discounts, rewards and incentives for frequency of purchase, length of relationship, referrals, variety of services and products used and more. Sometimes, even a card or email that thanks a client for their ongoing business can make a difference, without requiring you to cut your fees.

While any business will face some client churn, successful businesses look at client turnover and make plans for addressing it. What steps do you take?

Establishing your worth

Recently, several readers have contacted me to say that they aren’t sure how to convince clients of their value. They note they’re new to the field and that they don’t know where to go from there. So how do you figure out a consulting fee when you’re an upstart consultant or firm?

Well, this is really a marketing question. With a marketing plan in place, you’ll have done the research to figure out what clients need and what solving the problem is worth to them. You’ll have put together a plan to help map out the challenges they face and to guide them through each step of building a relationship with you. In reality, it can take as many as seven contacts with you before a client reaches out. By building a system for marketing that helps build and nurture the relationship, you’ll be in a better position to convince clients that you’re not just worth the money, but that you really get them, understand their problems and can put together a sound solution that will move them to a better place.

But money and the discussion of money aren’t always easy topics for people. We all have baggage we carry when it comes to tackling our businesses and many people carry a lifetime of ideas, concerns or even cultural pressures about money. So, in Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants, I actually go into detail about the emotional roadblocks that trip so many of us up.

That being said, many of the challenges faced by consultans – new and veteran – come down to how solid your business and marketing plans feel. If you’re looking to bolster your plans, take a look at my consulting course.

Where do you find yourself stumbling or uncertain?

How to choose Twitter name

Wondering how to choose a Twitter name or handle? Picking the right handle can help reinforce and build your brand.

twitter name

How to choose a Twitter name or handle

  1. Determine whether you are establishing a business, personal or professional account on Twitter. Some people create multiple accounts – for their business, for personal use, for advocacy, for political messaging or other reasons.
  2. Decide whether you are going with a business name, an anonymized handle or your own name. For example, someone might have one personal account for speaking openly about political situations, but use a handle that obscures their identity. Others may just wish to keep their identity visible, but separate their discussions about the latest in legal policy from their personal rants about the way their sports team performed in the playoffs.
  3. Choose a relevant name. If it’s your business or professional account, look for a name that mentions your business, your brand or what you do.
  4. If your preferred Twitter name is taken and you think your copyright is being infringed, take a look at Twitter’s infringement policy . But note that even celebrities have had to resort to workarounds. Look at @aplusk or @taylorswift13.  If someone is just squatting on the name and not using it, you can also look at asking Twitter to release the handle.
  5. Avoid numbers and meaningless letters. @AustinMarketing99a just doesn’t look very credible.
  6. Reinforce your brand. Consider using a handle that matches your email address or what you use on other sites. It reinforces your brand and is easier for people to remember. If people need to look you up on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other sites, it will be easier for them – and you’ll be less likely to send someone your audience by mistake.
  7. Strive for a short handle. No one wants to type out a long stream of letters and it makes a typo more likely. You’re limited to 15 characters, but try for fewer.
  8. Keep in mind that your Twitter handle may be printed on event name tags, shown on screens in presentations, mentioned in other media or elsewhere. If you go for @CuteSeattleChris, @LAHockeyHater or @RepublicanJo or something along those lines, be sure that you’re comfortable with everyone seeing and using your handle.

What to do if your Twitter name is taken

  • Shorten your name. Turn Peggy into Peg. Richard into Rick. Kelly-Anne Kendrick into KAKendrick.
  • Add a descriptor/adjective. Try @AuthorPeggy or @RickAccounting
  • Include an initial. Try@JanetFSmith or @MeilingTChan
  • Add your state, city or country. @MacAccountingVan, @MacAccountingCA, @MacAccountingUS.
  • Use an abbreviation. The @WSJ, @NYTimes and @nbcsnl all do.
Got any other suggestions? Check out our article on choosing a professional email address for related tips.

Related to How to choose Twitter name

 

 

How to sign up for Twitter

How to sign up for Twitter – shortly after asking about the merits of getting an account for Twitter, a friend and colleague asked how to go about signing up for the a free social media service. While you can merely check the steps on the Twitter site, some people prefer a step-by-step guide.

How to sign up for Twitter - image of a smartphone with Twitter sign up page

How to sign up for Twitter

    1. Go to Twitter.com.
    2. In the top right corner, you’ll see a “sign up” button. Click it.
    3. Provide some basic information about yourself. You’ll need to include your name, email address and a password. (See our password management app article.)
    4. You may need to try a few times to find an account name that hasn’t been taken. Try adding information, as opposed to numbers. MarketingConsultant2017 or MarketingConsultant443 are less memorable than DavisMarketingChicago.
    5. Then click “Create my Twitter account”
    6. Upload a photo (people connect better to pictures of people, but you could also use your logo)
    7. Add a background (a relevant landscape photo can work)
    8. Write a short bio. You may want to include some keywords that describe your work or interests, as well as something that makes you feel a bit more personable (“Father of 3. Longboard deck collector.)

Once you’ve created an account, start following some people and lurk on Twitter for a while. When you feel like you get the idea, try your hand at tweeting. You may want to write out some tweets ahead of time, then post them one at a time. You can experiment with replying to others, sending inbox messages and following conversations.

Related to Signing up for Twitter

Should I join Twitter?

Should you be on Facebook?

Consulting Fees

Professional email address names

 

 

Should I get a Twitter account?

Should I get a Twitter account? That’s the question a friend of mine asked recently. She was about to make a presentation at a conference and the organizers had asked for her Twitter handle. Although she knew what Twitter was, it wasn’t part of her typical social media use and she wondered what it might offer.

When she asked me “Should I get a Twitter account?”, I took some time to find out why she was asking. After all, the answer to whether you need a Twitter account varies.

Twitter, which launched in 2006, is a social media and news platform where users post and interact with messages. Messages on Twitter are called “tweets” and are limited to 140 characters. Brevity rules on Twitter.

Messages are sent directly to people when you put an @ symbol in front. If you write @usernamehere and then a message, it will be seen by that person, but it’s still visible to the larger world. If you put that @usernamehere into a message, such as “Hey @username here, this article on accounting might help you start your business”, it will also be seen in the Twitter feed of anyone reading the post.

People often use hashtags on Twitter (#consulting, for example) to create conversations that others can follow. So, if you want to know what’s happening in #consulting, #marketing, #Seattle or with the #WHO, you can search or click on those tags. You can add tags to your conversations to help others find them, too.

You may choose to follow people on Twitter, so that you get a sense of what topics are popular or what’s hitting the news. Here in Vancouver, when an earthquake rumbles, an accident occurs or even fireworks burst, people will search Twitter to see if anyone else has mentioned the situation. News, business events and laws may also be topics of conversation, along with scientific discoveries, magazine articles and entertainment. If people think about it, it’s probably on Twitter.

If you decide to start posting on Twitter, it can help with building your profile — assuming you get in front of the right audience. I’ve used Twitter to make business connections, generate blog traffic, share information, get media interviews and build my profile.

Since Tweets are so short, it takes very little time to write a tweet. It’s less commitment than writing blog posts, articles or taking part in other marketing.

That being said, if you’re going to do Twitter right, you need to have a goal, a target audience, key messages and a plan for using it. Like anything else, it may or may not work for you. It’s always better to choose effective campaigns for your business than to do something poorly.

Do you have a Twitter account? Would you recommend it to others?

Related
Should I become a marketing consultant?
What is free publicity?
Should you be on Facebook?

Consulting Fees

Bite, snack and meal – original reference

If you work in the online content world like I do, you may have run into the term “bite, snack and meal”. This phrase refers to creating content for readers with different appetites for your content. Sally might want to eat the entire dinner, but Mei-Ling just wants a little nibble and Ahmed wants more of a snack. I’ve seen this term thrown around by writers for years – but I recently went looking for the source.

After all, ideas come from somewhere. In this case, I turned up a 2001 Inc. article on the bite, snack and meal by E-Write. And a 2011 book by Charles Marsh et al, Strategic Writing, p.19, said Leslie O’Flahavan and Marilyn Rudick came up with the phrase in a book they wrote in 2002.

I looked up Rudick, O’Flahavan and E-Write. Upon seein Leslie O’Flahavan owns E-Write LLc, I contacted Leslie, who let me know that she started using the term in her courses around 1997 and popularized it through her 2001 article.

I’ll be making sure to cite this wonderful idea in my work – and I’m encouraging others to do the same. As a writer, I know how frustrating it is when others start using your ideas or words. One year, I had to file 200 requests for people to stop infringing on my content. Intellectual property and academic integrity rules still apply to online content.

What is free publicity?

What is free publicity going to do for your business? When it comes to marketing your small business, promotion can be key for building brand awareness and showcasing your products or services. However, most of your budget probably goes towards cash flow to actually run your business. Fortunately, there’s another promotional tool that doesn’t cost a dime – free publicity.

What is free publicity?

What free publicity means is a new avenue for your marketing. Just like advertising, publicity is a part of the promotional marketing mix but with one critical difference. Advertising costs. Publicity is free.

Free publicity definition: “Using the news or business press to carry positive stories about your company or your products; cultivating a good relationship with local press representatives” – Entrepreneur.com

That’s right. Free publicity can help you promote and expand your business, attract new clients, and build business credibility and reputation at no cost.

In fact, free publicity meaning and value vary from company to company. You can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. You need to create goals and define an approach to publicity for your own business.

What is free publicity likely to offer your small business?

Free publicity can help your business:

  • Stand out in the crowd
  • Start building relationships with prospective clients
  • Reassure existing clients that they made the right choice
  • Leverage the credibility of having someone else – the media – endorse your messages
  • Help you communicate your company’s personal story to the public
  • Build a connection and presence within your local community
  • Give you the flexibility to capitalize on current events as a promotional tool

Take some time to think and define free publicity for your small business. What is free publicity value for one company may not be valuable for another. For example, one company may seek a story from a blog or website because they want to get the attention of that publication’s audience or build links and search engine credibility. But another firm might have nothing to little from a mention from a small site – or may even find the association with a small publication detracts from their overall credibility. You need to plan out your overall marketing and define goals for your publicity and other campaigns.

In defining free publicity for your business, you can start to build out your marketing plan. You’ll want to take the time and determine what it will mean for your firm. After all, free publicity can come with risks.

Defining the risks of publicity

With advertising, a business has creative control of the content they directly put in front of the end-user. A business designs and crafts the messages they want to communicate. You don’t get that with free publicity.

With free publicity, you pitch a story or idea in hopes of getting media for free. The value and meaning of free publicity includes influencing:

  • Clients
  • Customers
  • Partners
  • Board members
  • Executives
  • Employees
  • Stakeholders

By building a favourable image with those stakeholders, you can reduce hesitation to buy, speed up transactions and even justify higher fees and prices.

What can free publicity do for your stakeholders?

Publicity means more than just product promotion. It can also help you with:

  • building community connections
  • fulfilling corporate social responsibility (CSR) agendas
  • launching charitable giving campaigns
  • carrying out reputation management
  • lobbying
  • managing crisis communications
  • and more

Free publicity meaning in examples

Free publicity can come from various tools. These include:

  • holding a press conference
  • writing a press release and sending it out to mass media – directly or by newswire
  • pitching media contacts by email or phone
  • launching a ground level event
  • using social media to draw attention

But according to Ragan’s PR Daily, free publicity comes with no guarantees. You need to be ready for different possible outcomes. The media may not pick up your story. You will also have less control over the content, because it will be covered by a journalist, blogger or reporter.

Still, what free publicity you gain is a powerful persuasion tool. It’s something you can leverage at no cost to promote your business, manage reputation and even attract new clients. It can be effective in building brand awareness, even before you ever get into advertising.

Interested in what free publicity can mean for your business? Check out our consulting course with more marketing tips and tricks.

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Inbound marketing for small businesses

Inbound marketing for small businesses – that’s the art of getting clients to come to you. When many people think of marketing, they think of pushy salespeople. But that’s more of an old school approach. Many small businesses increasingly pursue inbound marketing techniques that bring clients to them.

With inbound marketing, small businesses – and organizations of all sizes – make it easy for clients to find them and interact with them.

Inbound marketing brings clients and customers in

Instead of pushing your business at customers, inbound marketing puts you and your businesses where those clients are, so that you can start establishing and building a relationship based on trust. Inbound marketing means:

  • Creating and distributing content
  • Developing lifecycle-based marketing and relationship tools for every step of the customer relationship and lifecycle
  • Tailoring and personalizing content to the individuals in your audience
  • Approaching people in the channels where they want to interact, how they want to interact
  • Integrating content and messages throughout all your tools and media
  • Getting permission to keep the relationship going

Inbound marketing examples for small businesses

Some examples of inbound marketing – used by small businesses and even large ones – include:

  • Blogs
  • Articles
  • Whitepapers
  • Videos
  • Presentations
  • Speaking
  • Event marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Social media
  • Pay per click advertising
  • Content marketing

Inbound marketing builds trust

With inbound marketing, you provide the information clients need, as they need it, where they need it. By holding out trustworthy, well-developed content, you establish your business as an authority and a brand of trust.

How do you market to your clients?

Related to inbound marketing