Are you taking advantage of the Christmas shopping splurge? Especially those last-minute shoppers like me?
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 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? Leave a comment below with a link and I might just share it for you on social media.
Do you regularly get asked the same questions over and over again? Set up an FAQ page on your website with answers to the most frequently asked questions and then direct incoming inquiries to this. It will save you a lot of time and effort.
Questions will differ from business to business depending on what your customers or clients ask you.
If you have a brick and mortar shop it may that you need to give directions to your shop or let customers know where the nearest parking is and what it costs. If you have an online business it may be that you need to let clients know about your working hours, the best way to contact you and how to make a booking or cancel an appointment.
To help you get the most out of your FAQ page, use the three top tips below.
Priorise your Q&A’s
You could end up with quite a long list so may sure your prioritse your questions with the most common ones at the top. If the list really is getting out of hand, think about putting questions into sections. A section on location could give both the directions and parking information. A ‘working together’ section could include questions on working hours, terms, and condition, booking, cancelling etc.
When you are giving the answers to the questions listed, make sure you reiterate key benefits to the reader rather than just cold, boring facts. This FAQ section can be a great selling tool where you really overcome any objections a prospect has so make the most of it.
Keep answers short and sweet
Remember to keep your answers short, sweet and to the point. You don’t want to go off on a ramble that leaves the poor reader more confused than when they started. Try and keep answers to just one or two sentences where possible.
Consider using video for answers that need more in-depth explanation. Again, keep it as short and sweet as possible but it can be easier to get a point across clearly in a video than trying to explain it in text.
Keep answers updated
Do make sure you diarise to keep your information updated on a regular basis. You don’t want visitors rocking up to your shop if the nearest car park listed on your site has closed! Yes, it happens!
It can also be a good idea to include a form at the bottom for readers to ask a question that is not listed and if you are sat at your laptop frequently, think about having a live chat box to answer questions in real time.
Do you have an FAQ page on your site already? How about sharing to give us all inspiration? Pop the link in the comments box below.
Recently, I posted a challenge in my Facebook group and in my newsletter to find a hero.
The post went:
Who do you admire? Who would you love to be like? Go print off a picture of them and pin by your desk. When you are feeling out of sorts and de-motivated, take a look at their picture and ask yourself what they would do. Put yourself in their shoes and model yourself on their behaviour. They wouldn’t have got to where they did by not putting in the effort so think about the action they would take in your position and go do it. This simple trick can really help you keep motivated when working from home.
And inevitably, after posting this, I was asked who my hero was and I am going to share that with you now.
Love her or loathe her, my hero is Victoria Beckham. I admire her for her complete determination to build a brand around herself and for winning awards for her work despite the immense criticism she is constantly under. No, she can’t sing, but that didn’t stop her finding something she was really good at with her clothes and perfume range.
I also believe she is the driving force behind her husband’s career and he wouldn’t have gone as far as he did without her. I have huge respect for her in the way she handled the news about her husband’s alleged affair. She conducted herself with dignity and held her head high even though she must have been torn apart inside. Her family means everything to her and she does everything she can to protect them.
Finally, I love her sense of humour. Yes, she looks serious all the time in photos and is criticised for this, but this is part of her branding and her career. The critics just don’t realise this. However, in interviews and on other occasions, she is regularly seen letting herself go and having fun at her own expense.
Here’s a pic of her on my vision board.
I know that when I am feeling sluggish and feel like just moping around in my lounge pants with no makeup, if I take a look at her picture, I instantly get a boost as I know for Victoria to be successful, she didn’t have such slovenly standards. I soon get in the right frame of mind again.
This is such a simple trick that really does work. So, tell me who is your hero? Who inspires you? Leave a comment below and let me know.
One reason that may well be losing you clients is that your business is not working as well as you think it is.
When was the last time you checked all the links on your website or social media channels? Have you actually tried to sign up to your own mailing list to make sure your system works?
Over the past week, I have come across no less than five separate businesses with broken links that the business owners were completely unaware of. And one of them, I am embarrassed to say, was my own.
I set up a campaign and wondered why no one was signing up. It was only after I doubled checked everything for the umpteenth time that I realised I had not refreshed my Mailchimp account inside my lead page and therefore all sign-ups were going to an old list with the same name but which was no longer in existence! Excuse me a moment whilst I hang my head in shame.
Overlooking the obvious
And therein lies the problem. Sometimes, we simply cannot see the wood for the trees. We are so close to what we are doing and know how things should work, that we overlook the obvious. So rather than rely on yourself to check things out, go ask someone wholly unrelated to your business to check your system for you.
I was talking with one of my clients this week who was concerned at the lack of sales. We went and had a look at her website and everything looked wonderful. On the front page was a quiz which promised an immediate e-voucher to visitors who completed it. I took the quiz but nothing happened. No voucher appeared. The link at the other end was broken and I also did not appear in the mailing list.
Just stop and consider this for a moment. Not only were my details not registered so I would never hear from this business, but if I were a genuine customer, I would feel a little cheated and lose trust in this company and possibly wonder if they could deliver on other promises. Therefore, I would probably be unlikely to buy from them in the future.
Another website I visited left me completely frustrated because no less than three links were broken and just came up with 404 errors so I could not get to the information that was promised to me.
Once again, potential clients coming to this site would leave frustrated and with a poor view of the business.
Are you at a dead end?
And I have lost track of the number of social media posts that have links which when clicked upon go to dead pages or errors. So frustrating! And even worse when it is a link on the social media profile of a person or business.
So, go now and get somebody not connected with your business to go check out your website and to look at any social media links you have. Ask them to find out how easy it was to follow links, did they end up where they expected to, or did they find the process frustrating.
If you haven’t done your checks recently you really could be losing untold numbers of clients. If you have a WordPress website you can install a broken link checker that will flag up any broken links for you. If you would like someone to check your website or social media page for broken links and customer experience, come on over to my Facebook group and put in a request. Either I or one of the other fabulous ladies in the group will be more than happy to do a review for you.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been amazed by the ongoing lack of customer service by so many businesses that I have come into contact with.
Make your first impression the right one
Firstly, I requested quotes from a number of virtual assistants to supply help to a client of mine whilst they were going through a particularly busy period.
One that I contacted did not respond at all and another came back with just a one-liner that they could do the work. Not a good first impression! If that was the standard of work they sent me I certainly wasn’t going to let them loose with admin for my clients. Only one replied with a fully prepared proposal and price and suggested a phone conversation so that she fully understood what was required and to ensure she would be a good fit. I chose this lady as during our conversation, she was honest in what she couldn’t do but said she would do her best to learn anything new if required to do so. To me, this showed enthusiasm and a desire to work with me.
Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them. – Kevin Stirtz
Be crystal clear on your service and what you can offer
I then phoned to get quotes for social media support for a client from a number of companies. One passed me through to their social media ‘specialist’ who took what seemed like forever to find his notes on what they could offer and at what price. He then could not clearly explain the service and upon questioning had no idea what he was talking about. No sale!
The next waffled on forever and ended up asking me what I thought they should put together as a package and at what price. Hang on. I thought I was phoning to find out what they could do for me, not for me to give them business advice. No sale!
Another went into a barrage of sales spiel but was rabbiting on about social media channels wholly unsuitable for my client. He didn’t ask one question about my client’s needs and gave me no opportunity to explain them.
“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.” – Roy Hollister Williams
Don’t make promises you cannot keep
Next I went to order some items from a website but had a query on another product they had for sale. I phoned and left a message as their answerphone promised a call back within an hour. No return call was forthcoming so I then emailed and again received no response at all. Needless to say that I deleted the items in my shopping basket and purchased them elsewhere.
I then had another purchase to make and ordered an item for next day delivery but which did not arrive for 48 hours. This really irritated me and I complained to the company. If they had said delivery in 48 hours my expectations would have been met and I would have been a satisfied client so why did they promise me something that could not deliver?
Make a customer, not a sale. – Katherine Barchetti
Finally, I made one more purchase that stated 5-day delivery yet turned up in 3 days. Even though this item turned up one day later than the promised delivery time of the first company, I was over the moon as they had exceeded my expectations. Just be honest with your customers and don’t set out promises that you can’t keep.
It is no use going to the time and expense of promoting your business only to throw away enquiries and valuable customers when they try to buy from you.
Here is a powerful yet simple rule. Always give people more than they expect to get. – Nelson Boswell
4 key tips to satisfying customers
So my key 4 tips to satisfying your customers are:
Create the right first impression. Whether it is via email, phone call or face to face, when someone gets in contact for the first time, ensure that you create the right impression to gain their business. Be professional, take an interest in their needs and listen carefully to what they actually want.
Be clear on what you can offer. First and foremost, make sure that both you and every single staff member know what you offer and can explain this clearly when asked. If you can’t, you will lose your prospect from the outset.
Set expectations and then live up to them. Be clear on your pricing policy, terms and conditions, delivery and anything else relevant to the sale. Make sure the customer is clear on these and set their expectations accordingly. Don’t make promises to gain the sale that you just cannot keep. It will do you more harm than good in the long term.
Under promise and over deliver. Wherever possible exceed customer expectations so that they remember you for all the right reasons. With the apparent lack of customer service with so many companies, you are highly likely to stand out from the crowd and gain long term customer loyalty.
Do you have a customer service story to tell, either good or bad? Please leave your customer service experience story in the comments box below.
A recent report from O2 Business stated that ‘A wave of over-55s are looking to use their newfound access to their pension savings to start a business’ and one in four over-55 respondents to their survey aspire to start a business and ‘become their own boss’.
I have met a number of people in the over 50 age bracket who have felt that they are too old to be taking a risk in starting their own business. But when I ask for the reason they feel this way, I rarely get a clear cut answer. It just seems to be a common misconception that you have to be young to start a business.
However, as the article I read pointed out, 70 per cent of businesses started by over-55s last longer than three years, while only 28 per cent of those set up by young people last that long.
[Tweet “70 per cent of businesses started by over-55s last longer than three years”]
So what are the benefits of starting a business in your later years?
Firstly, life experience! You will have been there, done it and got the tee shirt. You will have had to deal with life’s ups and downs and found ways to get through them – essential qualities when running your own business.
Over the years, you will undoubtedly have built up many transferrable skills that younger entrepreneurs have yet to master whether these be people skills, patience, determination, handling finances or one of the many other that you gain through life that are too many to list here.
And from a buyers point of view, they tend to trust more mature traders.
When people come to me and say that they are too old to start a business I relay the adage to them that ‘age only matters if you are a cheese’.
[Tweet “Age only matters if you are a cheese”]
To name just a few older famous people who started business in later years ….
Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at age 50.
Colonel Sanders, was 62 when he franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Peter Roget invented the Thesaurus at Age 73
John Pemberton invented Coca cola at age 55
Maxine Clarke invented Build A Bear at age 48
And, far more importantly, the mother of a friend of mine has just written her first ever children’s book at the tender age of 91 years young!!!
So if you are over 55 and have an unfilled dream, please don’t think you are too old to start a business. Be brave, do your research and go for it.
If you would like a sounding board as to your idea or tips on how to get started, get in touch now.
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