Do you ever have clients placing an order for your products or services only to cancel a while later? There may be a very good reason why.
Yes, that simple act of keeping in touch and letting them know what is happening behind the scenes can make the difference between a happy customer and one who gets fed up thinking they have been forgotten and decides to take their business elsewhere.
There is no better example of this than when I ran my estate agents. Other agents were getting complaints and clients cancelling all the time to switch and coming to me. My clients stayed with me and the business was built on word of mouth recommendations.
Because I kept in touch. I put myself in their shoes and kept in mind how they might be feeling. Whilst my team were busy behind the scenes calling people about their property to book viewings and chasing surveyors and solicitors when a sale was agreed, the homeowner had no idea this was going on. All they had from other agents was silence. I made sure that every one of my clients had a call to update them every single week, even if there was nothing new to say. It made them feel important. They knew exactly what was going on and appreciated the call.
Yes, it took time and effort but the fact that my estate agency soared whilst others were struggling spoke volumes.
The key to stop clients cancelling
Take a moment to think how often you keep in contact with your clients. Are you busy working behind the scenes on the behalf putting together their order or working on a project for them? Do they know this? Are you updating them? If not, then perhaps it’s time to think again about your communication policy. Set up a simple database such as CapsuleCRM to keep in contact with everyone and see how much they appreciate it. This simple step really could be the key to stopping your clients cancelling and going elsewhere.
Just to finish, here are two current examples. Just this morning I have cancelled an order with a local company for having a sign made as they simply have not kept in contact with me and not sent information to me as promised. I have chased them no less than three times and yet they have still failed to keep in contact, and I am now fed up. I have now contacted another company and transferred my order to them.
The other example is with my husband’s laptop which stopped working whilst under guarantee. We took it back to the shop where it was purchased and they promised to fix it asap. That was six weeks ago!!! My husband has called on a number of occasions to get updates and then called again this morning. They said it was fixed and had been posted back. If this company had kept us updated and even let us know it was fixed and on the way back, we may have bought from them again. As they couldn’t be bothered to keep in touch, we have both said we will never buy from them again (and will tell others not to!)
Communication is key
Remember, whatever you do, don’t forget communication is key. If you don’t keep in contact with your prospects and clients, don’t be surprised when they go and buy elsewhere.
Promote your small business with these simple and creative marketing ideas
Here is a basic list of marketing mediums, both free and paid, that could be useful to promote your small business. Before you start on any marketing think carefully which are best for your business and which are going to get your marketing message in front of your ideal customers. Don’t just blindly follow the crowd and do something because others are doing it. They may just be throwing their money down the drain or may have a different ideal customer to you.
Free marketing ideas
I want to put a disclaimer here. Whilst I have said the list below is ‘free’ please remember that there is still a cost element due to the amount of time you will take to implement your marketing through these channels.
Most online directories offer a free listing. Research the better ones and get yourself listed
Set up a free blog and post new articles frequently to build up a following of people who may become your future customers
These can be sent by email to your subscribers or posted out to potential customers, again dependent on your business and your ideal customer.
There are so many social media channels to choose from. Start off setting up pages on just a couple of social media sites until you are comfortable with them and don’t become overwhelmed
Ask people to refer customers to you. If you don’t ask you don’t get!
Offer to do a free talk at local events to raise awareness of what you can do for potential clients
Send your details to as many publications as you can think of. You never know who may give you some free publicity
If you have a phone contract and you don’t use all your minutes, take some time to call prospective customers to introduce yourself
Attend networking events and turn up everywhere that your target audience hangs out. Remember to take your business cards.
Create an E-book that is branded with your company details. Offer as a free book to draw attention to your business.
Carry out surveys online or in person to find out information about customer buying habits whilst raising awareness of your brand at the same time.
Run a contest or competition where the winner can get a free product or service or a discount on a purchase. Raise awareness of your brand with all entrants.
Direct mail marketing
If done correctly, direct mail can still be a lucrative way of gaining new customers.
Paid for ideas to promote your small business
Print can still work for many businesses and print tends to get read more in-depth than online ads.
Pay per Click/Advertising on complimentary websites, social media adverts etc. all form part of online advertising
These can be professionally designed and printed or created from home. Always do a test run on just a few before printing hundreds.
Don’t leave home without them! You never know when, or who, you are going to meet so have them ready to hand out.
Both print and online. You can pay for a banner ad in directories that put your business at the top of the listings ahead of the free ads.
From high-end trade events to setting up a stall at your local village fete.
A website is essential for any business these days. From a low cost ‘free template’ site to a professionally built site, just make sure your site will be able to grow and be changed in line with your business in the future.
This can be expensive but if your business requires it, hiring a professional PR company can get great results and reduce the need for other forms of advertising.
Do you have products that would suit being put into a catalogue? Catalogues can be digital or printed and then mailed to your prospective and existing customers.
Pens, mugs, bags and notepads. In fact, just about anything can be printed on.
Get others to do the marketing for you and then pay them a small fee for each sale they make. There are many affiliate sites online that can help you get set up.
This can be from a single one-off event to sponsoring a team or organisation long term.
Think of where you might get seen by your ideal client. From car stickers to roadside signage to billboards at sporting grounds or on buildings, start to take note of the different signage out there and where yours might fit in.
So there are just a few marketing ideas to promote your small business. If you have any of your own, leave them in the comments box below..
Here are a few of my super easy and favourite tips to help increase Facebook engagement and interaction on your business page or group. Feel free to add any ideas of your own in the comments box at the bottom of the post.
1. Ask a question
Who, what, why, where or when
2. Fill in the blank
My favourite word is ______
3. Conduct a poll
Find out what people like the most
4. Ask followers to share a picture on a theme
Office pet, favourite mug etc
5. Post a do you remember
Find a picture of something from the past and ask who remembers it
6. Caption competition
Choose an amusing image and ask people to post a caption
7. Make a statement
Ask people if they agree or not with a yes or no – people who swear a lot are more intelligent
8. Multiple choice
Post a fact with 4 answers. Ask people to choose the right one
9. Choose your favourite
Post 4 pictures and ask people to choose their favourite
10. Introduce yourself
People love to share their stories. Ask followers to introduce themselves to the other fans in your group
Have you tried any of these tips to increase Facebook engagement on your page or in your group? Which works best for you? Do you have any tips of your own? I would love to hear all about them. Post in the comments box below. I reply to every one. And if you share the link to your Facebook page, I may just hop over and say hello.
P.P.S. Do you get stuck when trying to come up with fresh content to post on social media? Does your mind draw a blank and you get confused as to what to post next?Subscribe nowto get immediate access to my simple planner and easily create a whole month’s worth of posts to attract more attention to your business.
Yes, that time of year is rapidly sweeping towards us again and it’s time to be thinking about to take advantage of the Christmas shopping splurge.
Whatever business you are in, think about how you can create interest in people buying what you have as a Christmas gift. Ok, if you’re an HR expert, this may not be quite so easy but for most small business owners, if you get creative you can come up with something that can be given as a gift.
Here a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
Easy to create and the perfect gift for any business to promote
Free gift wrapping service
If you have a physical product, a free gift wrapping service can be a godsend for those of who hate grappling with the Sellotape and scissors.
Offer a gift with a purchase
Choose something you have that is of low value for you to provide but of great value to the recipient to entice them to buy. This could be a sample of your product or a complimentary trial of your service.
Create a gift bundle
Pull together a number of your offering and package together to create a festive gift bundle. Offer this at a special price that is lower than if all the products were purchased individually.
Create a Christmas themed product or service
Do you have something that you create a festive theme for? If you are an artist then it’s easy. Create some specially designed Christmas cards or gift tags. If you are in the service based industry think about something along the lines of a ‘Christmas stress reducer massage’ or similar to say thank you to the person who has prepared the Christmas dinner.
Create a stocking filler
At this time of year, people are always looking for last minute stocking fillers. This could be one of your vouchers or a small or lower cost item.
Create a Christmas gift ideas page on your website.
So many people get stuck for ideas but have a price bracket in mind for what they want to spend. Set up a separate page on your website for your products and services and pop them into different pricing brackets.
Gifts under £10.
Gifts under £50.
Gifts under £100 etc.
Make sure you explain the benefits of buying your offerings for the Christmas period.
So there are a few ideas to get you going. Do you have any of your own? Pop them in the comments box below.
P.S. If you would like to see the Facebook live broadcast I did on this subject and to join in with any comments or questions, pop over and have a watch now.
There are so many reasons why gift vouchers can be a good idea to use in your business.
They raise your business profile
You get instant cash up front
Great for indecisive buyers who can’t decide what they want right away
A great way to get new clients
But how do you get people interested in buying them?
To get people interested in gift vouchers you first need to decide who is going to be buying them as this may be different to your ideal client who will be using them. Think husbands, boyfriends, partners, friends etc. Where are they so that you can your vouchers under their noses.
Make the benefit clear of buying the voucher:
Save time trawling the shops for gifts.
The perfect gift for the woman who has everything.
Stuck for gift ideas? Here’s the perfect answer
Pamper her like a queen
A treat she will love you for
Send out info to your mailing list, post consistently on social media. Post on your own page, in your group, on local selling sites etc.
Send the voucher info to your past clients and prospects and tell them to add a voucher to their Christmas gift list.
Consider adding your voucher to a third-party site such as Groupon or Wowcher etc but do check how much commission they take and ensure you are still going to make a profit as you will need to offer the voucher at a discounted rate on these sites.
When marketing for special occasions such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s day etc, start your marketing well in advance. Don’t leave it until the last minute when people will have already made their purchases. Do, however, keep marketing right up until the very day for those who are completely unorganized and going into last minute panic of what to buy.
Run a competition
To raise awareness of your voucher, run a competition with a voucher as the prize.
Put the competition on your website and ask people to answer one simple question such as ‘what is your favourite beauty treatment’ (or whatever is relevant to your business of course) and then leave their email address to enter. Create just one page for this competition and then post the link to this page everywhere. Again, use social media, email etc.
Once the competition is over, email the winner to everyone who entered and perhaps offer them a small discount on buying a voucher as a thank you for entering. This works twofold. It can help you get more sales and you also now have more subscribers to add to your future mailing list (you must make it clear to entrants that they will also be added to your mailing list but they can unsubscribe at any time if you are going to do this).
Creating your voucher
When creating your voucher, remember the following:
Make sure your offering on your voucher is clear and simple. What is it for, when, where etc.
Set out terms and conditions properly – how long it is valid for, booking terms, how to book etc
Add a link to buy online to your website and Facebook page
Make the voucher look and feel good. No-one wants to get a thin piece of paper with a dull bit of writing on it. Snazz it up using something like Canva. Pop it into an envelope to make it easy for the purchaser to hand over to the recipient.
When selling online, consider giving purchasers a choice of designs to choose from. If this is too much work for you and you are now going into ‘How the hell do I do that mode’ just stick with one simple, yet beautiful design with your branding on it.
Have all your contact details and how to book clearly displayed.
If you have a gift voucher promotion, feel free to pop the link in the comments box below.
This past weekend I went to a wedding fair with my gorgeous daughter who is getting married next year. Obviously, the venue was packed with both exhibitors and also with hundreds if not thousands of people who were ready, willing, and able to spend lots of money.
What became apparent very quickly was that although there were many vendors selling exactly the same thing, some were surrounded by loads of people chatting about the products and services, whilst others were stood completely on their own with no interaction from with the public whatsoever.
But why was this? Why if two businesses with selling practically the same thing were one taking multiple orders and the other absolutely nothing. I wanted to know and as part of my never-ending research, I decided to stand back and watch. And this is what I found out.
The differences between the vendors making money and getting no business at all were blatantly obvious. My observations are below so that if you sell at a trade show, exhibition, craft fair or any other event and want to get those all-important sales rolling in, take heed of the points below.
1. Be welcoming and smile
Obvious really. But as I walked past so many stands it was obvious that the vendors who looked happy and smiling and seemed to be enjoying the day were getting lots more interest than those who stood looking as if they had been dragged there with a gun to their head. Yes really! Some looked so miserable that I wondered if I ought to call the Samaritans for them! This was supposed to be a happy day for brides to be. They didn’t want to go talk to someone who looked like they were bored out of their brains.
There was also one stand where the lady was constantly on her mobile phone. Once I spotted this I thought I would keep an eye on her see how long it was before she looked up. I was staggered. I watched as reams and reams of people walked past her stand and were completely ignored. This went on for well over 5 minutes. So, I decided to walk over to her stand and pretend to take an interest in it. I pointed out a few things to my daughter and spoke loudly enough to make it clear that we may be purchasing something. But do you know what? She didn’t lift her head! I honestly couldn’t believe it to the point that I was so stunned I stood and took a photo of her with her head still staring at the screen. She still didn’t look up. Now I’m not sure whether she owned the business or was there to represent it and I was very tempted to send this photo and my observations to the business owner but my daughter has told me that would be cruel. I would welcome your thoughts on this. As a business owner if I sent someone to represent my business I would want to know if this was happening. My daughter sees it from the other side that I could lose someone their job. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments
2. Start a conversation
The next thing I noticed was that the vendors getting interaction were also being proactive in getting people to their stand. They spoke to people as they walked past and asked a question. Many of the venue exhibitors asked if we had chosen a venue yet as we walked by. Cake makers asked if we would like to taste a new recipe. Photographers asked if we would like a free photo to remember the day by. This sparked a conversation. It wasn’t pushy or salesy. We were at an exhibition for goodness sake and were expecting to talk to people and for them to show us what they had available.
The vendors not getting any interaction were those who stood waiting for people to come to them and strike up a conversation. Wrong!!! The proactive vendors were getting all the business. If you’re too shy to get out and talk to people and to engage with them, don’t bother setting up your stall. Either get someone else to do it for you or don’t bother exhibiting. So often people buy people first and this was the case with us. We are intending to buy from a lady who was so jolly and happy that she brightened our day and stood out from everyone else.
3. Ask questions
When you do get somebody to come and speak with you keep the conversation going by asking questions. The difference was staggering between those that simply asked what date is your wedding, have you booked ‘xyz’ yet and left it at that and those who then went on to ask probing questions to find out more about my daughter and her wants and needs. The interactive vendors such as a lovely cake maker we met asked questions such as how many people are coming to your wedding, do you have any guests that are gluten intolerant, what’s your favourite cake type, what does your fiancé prefer. All these questions made my daughter feel that someone was genuinely taking an interest in what she wanted and also gave the cake maker all the information she needed to tailor the rest of the conversation around specific needs and wants of my daughter.
4. Two ears one mouth
Leading on from this, this cake maker also put into practice the art of knowing that she had two ears and one mouth and used them in those proportions. Basically, she listened more than she spoke. This was in direct contrast to an exhibitor who decided to real off a list of facts and figures about what they could offer which was of no interest to us at all. This very quickly left us bored and disinterested and so we walked away. In all probability that particular exhibitor was selling what we wanted but as they took no interest in finding out our specific needs and would not stop talking so we couldn’t get a word in edgeways, they lost our business.
Leading on from what I have been discussing above I want to give you a specific example. As we walked past and anti-aging product exhibitor they pounced on me and told me they had exactly what I needed in my life. The woman then proceeded to grab an eye cream and start to try to apply it to my face. She told me what awfully dark patches I had under my eyes and how many wrinkles I had got. She then told me that her 60-year-old mother was using this product who it had worked miracles for. There are two key points here that I am now going to lead on to.
Image courtesy of www.bridetheweddingshow.co.uk
5. Sell what people want, not what you want to sell
Firstly, how did she know that dark patches and wrinkles were my main concern? If she had bothered to ask any questions she may have found out that it was my dry skin that was more of a concern to me. It was obvious she had no interest in what I wanted to buy but only that she wanted to sell this particular product to me. Not a good move. If she had found out more about me it is possible (although highly unlikely when you read the next point) that I would have bought something from her that was suitable to my needs.
6. It’s not what you say, it’s not what you do, it’s how you make people feel
I’m not quite sure what this lady was trying to achieve, whether it was the fear factor that I was old and haggard and needed to stop this ageing process in its tracks, or whether she was genuinely concerned at how bad I looked. The result though was she made me feel so bad about myself but I wanted to run away from her as fast as I could. Personally, I don’t think I look too bad but obviously, this woman thought differently. She had also insulted me by implying from her comment that has 60-year-old mother used the product that I was of the same age. I didn’t bother to enlighten her that I am actually a full 10 years younger. So be careful with your choice of words and be very much aware app how you make people feel.
7. Know what you are selling
Well, you would think this one was obvious really but when we spoke to the man at the Limousine and transport section he had no idea what was on offer. He asked if we had booked our transport to which I replied no but I didn’t think he could help as we weren’t after a Bentley or limousine but were looking for a Volkswagen camper van. He then said, “well we might have one”. “Ooh, I said” getting excited “do you?”. “Well, I don’t know. I think I heard someone talking in the office about one but you’ll have to speak to them”. He proceeded to tell me that I would have to give them a call. Well, I didn’t really want to do that as the whole purpose of going to the exhibition was to get all the information we needed there and then, not to have to spend time scrolling through websites and making phone calls. But it got worse. He waved a leaflet under my nose and told me again I needed to make a phone call to the office. I asked to have a leaflet with the number on it to which he told me I couldn’t!
8. Have enough business cards and info leaflet
He told me that was his last leaflet so I couldn’t have it. He didn’t have a pen or paper to jot the number down, the name of the company or the website address. He didn’t have a business card. He said he had only taken a few leaflets. Honestly, folks, if you are going to any type of exhibition you should be able to find out the likely footfall so take enough business cards, flyers, brochures etc so you don’t run out. And if all expectations are exceeded and you do run out at least have a notebook and a pen to take details so you can send information on. Which leads me on to my next point.
9. Take email addresses
When attending an exhibition, yes, you are there to make sales on the day, but also to create leads for future business. How are you going to keep in contact with all these people you meet and talk to if you don’t take any of their details? I really was amazed, quite possibly because I guess I’m the queen of follow-up, how many people after we had expressed a strong interest in what they were selling, handed as a leaflet and told us to get in contact when we were ready. Let me tell you, when we returned home we must have had a small rainforest of leaflets between us and there is no way that we could remember which related to which person we have spoken to. So, the people that impressed us the most will quite possibly lose our business to someone else. Simply because they didn’t take our details.
It’s so simple to ask visitors to your stand for their email address so why not do it? We were more than willing to give an email address to those who asked for it. That’s what people expect when they go to shows. There were those that asked for our email address in exchange for entering us into a competition and there were also those who quite simply asked for our email address to send us a quote, such as the cake maker I mentioned earlier. We were more than happy to hand this information over. If you don’t take details from people you don’t deserve to have their business in the future. There Is no way you are going to be able to contact them again. Don’t think they will remember you. They most likely won’t! And why should they have to follow up with you? You should be following up with them and standing out from the crowd. And this leads into my final point.
image courtesy of www.bridetheweddingshow.co.uk
10. Follow up
When someone has bothered to give you the email address and told you that they are happy for you to keep in contact do just that! Keep in contact and follow up! It was whilst discussing the number of people who don’t bother to do any follow-up be that my daughter told me a staggering fact. Two weeks previously, whilst I was away on holiday she attended another wedding fair. She told me that she must have given out her email address nearly 50 times. But guess what? Only one person bothered to follow up with her! I was stunned when I heard this and had to get her to repeat it to me again as I honestly thought I had misheard. People had taken her email address and yet only one had responded. Staggering!
But the one who had responded really shone out to her. Why? Because they responded the very same day. This impressed my daughter so much. By the time she had returned home in the evening there waiting for her was an email telling her how lovely it was for the owner of the business to have met with her that day. How did this make her feel? Going back to my point about it’s not what you say, it’s not what you do, it’s how you make people feel, she felt valued. She felt warm and fuzzy inside. She felt that someone had taken notice of her as a person and didn’t just treat her as a number. And as she said to me, that’s the lady I’m going to be buying from.
Let’s say the other 49 people at some point decide to get off their backsides and get in contact with her again. As she has already attended another exhibition she is more than likely to have forgotten them so their efforts will be wasted. It really doesn’t take a lot to set up an email thanking people for attending your stand and for chatting to you and to send that out to everybody the same day of the exhibition. This really could be the difference between getting so many more sales and losing out on significant business.
So, there we have it. My experience of attending a wedding fair and the observations I made of those making sales and those who didn’t. If you have any tips of your own or any stories that you would like to share please put them in the comment below. I personally reply to every one.
P.S. I did a Facebook live on these points when I returned from the exhibition. If you would like to join in the conversation or simply watch the video hop on over and take a look.