Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

Let’s look at marketing 10 tips dedicated to small businesses that can help us increase our customer base and our sales.

Specialize in one type of product

The produce or offer only one type of product or service will allow us to be experts or specialists in what we do or offer and, thereby, to provide a product or service quality.

The specialize in one type of product will also allow us to capture more customers, since they, seeing us as experts or specialists, have a high perceived value of our products and we choose rather than competition.

Even the specialize in one type of product will allow us to increase our prices because consumers are willing to pay more if they believe that anyone who produces or offers goods or services, is a specialist in what he does.

Specialize in one type of consumer

This council is a variation of the first, is to direct our products to only a certain type of consumer.

The focus on a specific audience type will allow us to specialize in it and know very well their needs, preferences, customs and habits and, thus offering a product specially dedicated to meet those needs, tastes and preferences, and design strategies or making decisions based on these customs and habits.

Create an identity

Create an identity means giving a unique style to our business or our products.

By creating an identity position our brand in the minds of consumers, which in turn enables us they identify with our brand and recognize it at any time.

Our identity can be based on any differentiation or important feature in our products, in the style or the way we serve in the design or combination of colors we use, etc.

Offer variety

We specialize in one type of product and consumer, and create our own identity or style, but at the same time, we must offer variety.

Consumers are always looking for variety. Can we achieve to be faithful to our products, but eventually left to find variety in them, we will soon leave and go to competition.

To provide variety we offer different alternatives and constantly launch new products without thereby changing the type or style of our current products.

Listen to the customer

Listening to the customer is being permanently attentive to their opinions, suggestions, comments, complaints or claims.

Even, we must try to find this information, for example, using surveys, creating a suggestion box, talking with them and asking what is your opinion about our products, calling them by phone to see how it fared with their use, etc.

This will allow us to tailor our products to their needs, tastes and preferences, and know what we are doing wrong, what we need to improve, what should we remove or change.

Getting the data of our customers and make a database

We should always try to get the data of our clients such as your name, address, phone, email and date of birth, so that we can create a database that will help us better understand our customers, follow them up and maintain contacts with they.

For example, we can send you a thank you card, greeting or greetings, and so seek to win their loyalty, or we can send a printed newsletter by mail or an email newsletter to your email, on our new offers or promotions.

To get your data we can make use of promotions, for example, create a lottery in which to participate have to enter your details, or we can simply solicitousness when you purchase our products or services.

Identify needs, tastes or preferences

We must always seek to identify needs, tastes, preferences, habits or customs of our individual customers.

This will enable us to offer a personalized, for example, offering a product specially designed according to the tastes or preferences of a particular customer.

To detect the tastes or preferences of our clients, we monitor and analyze them, for example, what products they use most are, what their habits, what their buying preferences, etc.

Be attentive to competition

Just as we must be ever vigilant to our market or target audience, we must be ever vigilant to our competition.

We must be attentive to the strategies or actions you perform as well as the emergence of new competitors.

This information will allow us to react quickly, for example, designing strategies that allow us to meet his, or making decisions that allow us to counteract or take advantage of their actions.

Use testimonials

Whenever possible we should not look for testimonials from satisfied customers and then use those accounts as an introduction to other potential customers.

The bigger the testimonies and the more known are the clients that we do, we will cause better impression.

We may publish the testimonies, for example, in our brochures or website, or we can simply mention to potential customers, major customers we have served and the services we have provided them.

Find referrals

Whenever possible we should seek referrals , ie ensure that our customers recommend us and help get other clients.

One way to achieve this is to give our customers discount coupons that give them away to their acquaintances, and offering a product for free whenever it is used three of their coupons.

We should always devise strategies that allow us to get referrals, however, we must remember that the best way to achieve that we recommend, is offering a product or service quality.

Using Social Media & Live Support Software To Handle Customers Complaints

The new online world is set up for convenience. Customers the world over have always demanded convenience. Neglecting the worlds of social media and live support software for your customer service needs is probably the most inconvenient thing that you’€™re doing to your customers.

In this article we are going to look at:

  • What live support software is and how it works.
  • How social media factors into customer service.
  • Why your business needs to use both of these to give a complete range of options to customers who wish to speak with you.

The days of only being able to call someone up on your telephone is one that is well in the past. Using my phone I can contact my friends through text messaging, email, Twitter, Viber, Whatsapp, Facebook Messaging, Skype and sometimes I even call them!

Despite this being the case socially, some businesses still only offer a telephone number and an email address for their customers to speak with them. It is time to catch up or be left well behind!

What are live support software applications?

Live support software is a type of customer service program that allows consumers the chance to contact a company with their questions and concerns without talking on a phone. This allows for people to have the immediacy of a phone conversation, but with the trackable dialogue of email.

To give a practical example, have you ever had someone give you directions over the phone only to forget them the moment you hung up? That won’€™t be problem as the text stays with you on your screen.

The program itself is usually very simple. A text box appears on the screen of the site visitor after they meet some criteria. This criteria can be when they spend a certain amount of time on the site, or when visiting a certain page. This connects to the dashboard on the screen of an operator. The operator can respond and share information through this dashboard.

This all happens through some sort of JavaScript, Java or Flash Player application for the most basic uses. VoIP, app sharing, screen sharing and other more advanced features are available for those who want to go beyond simple text.

How does social media factor in?

Quick moving applications, Twitter being the best example, are frequently used by people to ask little questions here and there. It is also being used more and more by those who wish to air complaints about companies and brands publicly – and you should be there to hear what people have to say.

Social media as customer support works in three main ways:

  • Customers come right to you and make comments and complaints through direct messages, or on your own public message board.
  • Customers complain about you in a post, but do not come to you directly by using hashtags.
  • Potential customers make comments that can be found through various sorting software programs so that you may offer assistance.

Think of a place like Twitter as a live chat app that the whole world shares. This is pretty much true as it has the ability to connect people from all over the world in dialogue. It may not function in the traditional back and forth of a web chat, but the dialogue is there if you know how to follow it. Try learning about hashtags, mentions and other Twitter specific programs such as:

These are worth a paragraph each, more than we have space for in this article. For further details, check out this post on Twitter management tools that I wrote elsewhere as it covers a few more of these in greater depth.

Why is it important to use these tools?

The reasons why you will want to use social media and live chat to do customer support are:

  • People are becoming more and more used to having links and relevant websites sent to them to explain problems, and which they can refer back to for reference later on. You can’€™t do this easily over the telephone.
  • Your employees who use these tools will also have a better experience as supporting articles and reference can be sent, instead of having to explain complex problems repeatedly. No more second and third phone calls!
  • Time is saved if a special department has to be called in – they can just read all of the text that has been written so far and get up to speed with the conversation. This does not happen on the telephone and is a major headache for someone. Who wants to explain the problem multiple times to one company?

All three of these points add up to less time being spent by your employees on doing customer support jobs, while your customers get even better service – gaining you new followers on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and any other social media platform you use.

This is one of those rare win-win situations in business that you must take advantage of. If your competitors are doing this, and you’€™re not, they will serve your shared consumers better and your share of the market will shrink.

Launching Your Website: A Guide to Going Online

Having a website these days is almost a necessity to doing business. Whether you’re a retailer, providing a service, or are operating purely online, launching a new website needs the same careful consideration as launching any business.

Write a Website Business Plan

A well thought-out plan is vital to the success of any business or new venture. Who are your target markets and are they online? Are your competitors online, and if so, what do they offer? How will you market your site?

What do you want your website to accomplish? A website can be used as a distribution channel (selling direct to customers) and/or as an advertising or promotional tool, so it’s important to know what you what your website to be.

Refer to the How to Write a Business Plan article for guidance on how to write an effective business plan.

If applicable, you’ll also want to consider consulting an accountant and a lawyer for issues to do with ecommerce, taxation, privacy, and other legal rights and restrictions.

Reserve Your Domain Name

Even if you’re not going to be online for several months, you should carefully research and reserve your domain name as soon as you can.

Your domain name doesn’t have to be your business name; a location, campaign, or task-driven domain name can be just as effective. Take your time to research your domain name options, and choose a domain name that is simple, easy to spell, memorable, unmistakable, and that you like and that will inspire you and your customers. You might also want to consider reserving both the .ca and .com extensions (to avoid confusion in your market), as well as potential misspellings. Read more about domain name extensions and see domain name tips.

Register Your Domain Name on Key Social Media Networks

It’s hard to turn on the news without hearing about Twitter or Facebook, or to read a business magazine that doesn’t mention LinkedIn. Online marketing efforts are shifting and social media networks have become a viable and, in some cases, an essential online marketing tool.

Your small business may not use these sites yet, but you likely will in the future. Like a domain name, it’s important to register your business and/or domain name on key social media networks.

Research Your Options for Web Development

Launching a website involves many skills and disciplines. Here’s what you’ll need to consider:

  • A website requires design, coding, copywriting, and online marketing. If you’re operating an ecommerce site, or collecting customer information, you’ll also have to take into account backend systems like payment processing and database management. Larger companies can offer a lot of these services, but are more expensive; freelancers usually specialize in one or two areas and tend to charge less per hour or project, but you’ll need a roster of talent.
  • Do your due diligence. Before choosing to work with a company or a freelancer, make sure to ask for references and portfolios. We recommend that you create a request for proposal (RFP) to better communicate your website objectives to your potential suppliers. This can help them give you an accurate estimate of the duration and cost of your website project.
  • Don’t overlook open source applications and tools that are freely available on the web (e.g. WordPress) that can give you a website at the fraction of the cost of building one from scratch.

Get a Contract

A signed legal contract can protect both parties in a web development project, whether you’re working with one company or several freelancers. A contract is a written agreement between you and your suppliers, without which there is no legal proof of the terms and conditions of your project, such as delivery, payment amount, schedule, expectations, type of work, and future support.

Build Your Website

Before proceeding with website development, you should:

  • Create a prototype or design mock-up (called a “wireframe”) and get feedback from your friends, family, and user groups made up of potential customers.
  • During early development, consider the user friendliness of your site’s design and navigation.
  • Ensure your content focuses on your customers’ needs and helps them accomplish what they would like to do on your site.
  • Give your customers a good first impression by having good content and web copy.
  • Make it easy for people to find you online by optimizing your website for search engines.

Stay Current

Read articles and attend seminars on how you can improve your website. By learning about web tools, technologies, and trends as they emerge, you can make better decisions about how to improve your website, and generate more traffic or sales.

How To Design Your Dream Lifestyle Job with Tijana Momirov

If you know my story, you’ll know that I had ‘real jobs’ myself before I decided to quit my 8 years in the corporate world and leave the 9-5, create my own business and become a digital nomad.

But I also know plenty of people who love their jobs and their work, they just want more freedom around them and the flexibility to fit the job around their lifestyle.

Which is why I so love Tijana Momirov’s story as she’s done exactly that – designed her life around things that she loved to do and built a consulting career to support that.

Tijana Momirov is a software engineer and has been a digital nomad for years – following the elements.

Her last ‘real job’ was in Athens, Greece and after realizing the best times of the day to kitesurf (her passion) was when she was working, and they seemed inflexible on allowing her to work different hours, she quit her job and started freelancing.

Five years in, she is still convinced that going location independent has been the best choice she’s ever made. And that the time is now, for everyone else to realize this too.

She is passionate about the revolution of the way we work and live and wants to bring more people over to the sunny side.

Listen to this episode

Podcast: Subscribe in iTunes | Play in Browser | Download

What you’ll learn in this podcast:

  • How Tijana went from cubicle, to wind surfing and living on her own schedule
  • The professional way to leave your job, and how to have the conversation the right way
  • The steps Tijana took to build her client base – and how you can do the same in as little as 1 month
  • Why you shouldn’t wrap your work around your life, and what you should do instead
  • How to handle negative perspectives of “working from the beach”
  • How to prove to others that you’re capable of having a career and being location independent

Want to take this further. Grab the FREE download workbook

Simply click here or the image below to get it now.

How to Start an Online Business: 11,520 Free Resources for the Internet Entrepreneur

This 40 page guide is a massive (11,520 to be precise) compilation of free to access resources on how to start an online business. These internet resources take the form of tips, tricks, tools, techniques, advice, tutorials, tests, blog posts, articles and guides.

The guide takes you through different phases of starting an online business, right from generating a business idea to implementing and marketing it and later growing your business. To best of my author’s knowledge, no other guide contains such a huge list of resources and is so comprehensive that everyone (from newbies to professionals) is going to find something useful in it.

In detail, this guide contains:

  • 4113 Ideas for an Online Business: From affiliate marketing to blogging to freelancing to ebook creation to selling on Ebay. Every single money making idea is in this guide.
  • 3619 Ways to Market Your Business: SEO, SEM, Social Media Marketing, Viral Marketing, Link Building, Email Marketing, Viral Marketing. Every buzzword is there in the guide.
  • 200+ resources in Videos and Podcasts: Learn startup secrets from the veterans, Stanford professors, business gurus and startup founders.
  • 1514 Resources in Blogging: 101 blog posting ideas to 101 ways to monetize your blog to 100 resources bloggers can’t live without to 99 ways to promote your blog for free, this guide has it all.
  • 1933 Resources in Freelancing: All the best tools that a freelancer needs, all the ways a freelancer can attract more clients and a list of niche job boards for freelancers.
  • 792 Resources for Small Business General Internet Marketing: Heard of Guerrilla Marketing? Know 101 ways to market your small business? This guide will give you the answers.
  • 173 Ways to Grow Your Business Online: Already established your online business? Know different ways you can grow it into an empire.
  • 451 resources to Maintain Work Life Balance: Who says you can’t enjoy life as an entrepreneur. Sure, you can. And, this guide will show you how.
  • 513 Tips for an internet entrepreneur: From 100 ways to be a better entrepreneur to 15 blunders rookie freelancers make. These are the tips which you can’t simply afford NOT to know about.

Download this free Ebook here.

Top 10 Recommendations to Revitalize Your B2B Marketing

 

We are coming up to the last holiday weekend of a wonderful summer. The countdown for back-to-school has begun. Corporate team leaders can’t wait to get their teams back in full strength. Managers are gearing up for strategy meetings to make the last quarter of the year count. Let’s just say it’s “get serious, get back to work” time for the majority of us.

For B2B marketers, this is a good time to review what has worked in this year so far and what needs to change before the year is over. The State of Marketing* report offers valuable insights from over 5,000 global marketers. Let’s examine the top 10 recommendations to cover 3 key areas of marketing. ”The Customer Journey, Mobile and Social.

The Customer Journey

86% of senior level marketers surveyed in the report stress the critical importance of tracking and understanding the customer journey in order to implement an effective marketing strategy. How will you achieve this?

Here are 3 useful recommendations:

  1. Look beyond buyer personas and lifecycle marketing: In our enthusiasm to plan lead generation campaigns based on proper segmentation, we tend to sometimes get carried away with marketing to buyer personas. In the ideal world, every buyer would perfectly fit at least one persona we have thought of. With the increasing demand for personalization, however, B2B marketers need to focus more on the individual behaviours of different buyers instead of planning for broad patterns across different categories.
  2. Trace the customer journey beyond email: Email marketing has stood the test of time as an effective lead generation and nurturing methodology. The limitation of this method when it comes to viewing the customer journey is that email communication is linear and follows a set pattern. You can only trace the customer’s interaction with your brand along that one path of receiving, opening and acting upon email stimulus. In an integrated marketing approach, we need to look beyond email to examine multiple channels, including social, where our customers are spending time. The last thing you want to do is upset a customer by responding officiously to their email while ignoring their much more emotional communication on a social media platform.
  3. Make customer journey mapping a team exercise: You can’t possibly sit in the board room and try to map the full customer journey. There are multiple touchpoints and various people within your organization that can offer keen insights into how your customers react and interact at every stage of the customer journey. A regular brainstorm with your team is a great way to stay updated on what your customers are thinking, feeling, doing, and wanting you to do! Discover the gaps in your marketing strategy where customer experience has suffered, and focus on making improvements rather than trying to sweep those instances away under the carpet.

Mobile

This year is considered the “last call” for joining the mobile marketing train. Experts say it is a is now or never situation because a majority of the corporate workforce now functions as “phablet” users or users with smartphones that have tablet-like screens and features. Here are 4 critical steps you need to take with regard to mobile marketing:

  1. Define your mobile marketing strategy: You will see from your customer journey mapping exercise recommended above that one of the most important and frequent customer touchpoints is facilitated via mobile. In the absence of a clear strategy to optimize customer experience at every mobile-enabled interaction, you are losing a huge opportunity to make an impact on the dominant majority of your buyer population.
  2. Use an integrated approach to manage mobile campaigns: It’s no longer enough to have a mobile campaign once in a while. That is like spike marketing, you may get a sudden peak in lead generation but it won’t last. If your customers are on the go and using their mobile devices 24/7, what choice do you have really? Think about it! Mobile campaigns must become a part of your integrated marketing plan, communicating brand messaging consistent with all other channels and media you are using.
  3. Take advantage of location-based mobile content marketing: 67% of global marketers, according to this report are already doing this. If your business is just starting out to test the waters, a location-based mobile marketing campaign is a better way to test and learn before you spread out nationally or globally. Relevant content served up at the right time, in the right place to your mobile buyers will drive traffic to your target location faster, better, easier. It doesn’t necessarily have to be promotion or offer based either. Remember that the customer journey is more than 70% independent research for the vast majority. If your mobile content fits right in and adds value, you will be more successful in helping the buyer complete that last 30% of the decision making process in your favour.
  4. Monitor mobile analytics to devise loyalty programs: This report shows that more than in-store and web-based loyalty programs, mobile loyalty campaigns have an 86% effectiveness rating. That is huge! When planning your loyalty program, take into account the data from your mobile analytics and incentivize loyalty for your mobile buyers.

Social

While social has become an everyday, all the time phenomenon, it is far from easy. With all the automation available, there is still no silver bullet. Here are 8 Techniques that Work for B2B Social Media. You have to work at social relationships steadily and you can’t expect unrealistic returns. Let me remind you of the 5 Laws of Real Social ROI.

  1. Explore new and niche social channels: Mainstream social media channels may or may not work for your B2B audience. Consider niche channels where your target buyer spends time. For example, we created this exclusive, invitation-only LinkedIn Group for B2B thought leaders. feel free to join and exchange ideas with B2B thought leaders.
  2. Dedicate resources for social marketing: It takes time and effort to do this right. Rather than trying to build volume through more fans, allocate capable and trained resources to run your social campaigns selectively on the channels that work.
  3. Focus on engagement and keep testing: Leave the selling to your sales team or even to your website. On social media, your buyers are looking for meaningful content to engage and enlighten. That’s what you need to do consistently. Conversion is always the ultimate goal, but you can’t make that the primary one, especially on social platforms.

How will you refresh and rejuvenate your B2B marketing efforts? Feel free to add to the list of recommendations above. I look forward to hearing from you, so please leave me a comment. If you would like to receive updates and information about B2B lead generation, please click here.

10 top predictions for the Contact Centre of 2020

 

With customer experience on everyone’s  lips, the contact centre is about to undergo a major metamorphosis from an ugly duckling to the enterprises swan.

Contact centres don’t always represent a shiny jewel in the company’s crown. However, as the pressure mounts on brands to offer excelling customer service, they are becoming a focus of the battle for client’s satisfaction. Considered as a touchpoint of growing importance contact centres are bound to make an interesting subject of a CX makeover.

Here are the 10 predictions for the (not so distant) contact centre future:

1. Forget the voice/chat/email divide

Customers want to use a breadth of communication channels for customer service.  Channel usage rates are quickly changing. Customers want consistent service experiences across these channels. They also expect to be able to start an interaction in one channel and complete it in another.

Kate Leggett, Forrester

2. Army of specialists

Most customers will be able to help themselves with an aid of online communities and step-by-step video tutorials. The few interested in contacting a live agent will be usually faced with more complex issues (not to mention frustrated and angry). The contact centre will become the last resort, an emergency number. To remain relevant, companies will be forced to offer their customer a quick-fix. In years to come first tier employees will become redundant. After stating their inquiry into the new breed of Natural Language Processing IVR, customers will be connected directly with a technical specialist, able to help them on the spot, with no need for further transfers.

3. Conversation Analytics will become ubiquitous

Thanks to development of conversation analytics voice of the customer will be used in number of processes such as customer identification, pinpointing sale opportunities, rating customer satisfaction (with product, company, agent, offers), trend prediction, preventing fraud or sensitive information leaks and many more. Analysing every bit of information available will become a mantra of the future companies. Data gathered by call centres will become an intrinsic source of information for the company’s decision makers.

4. Where the agents roam free

As soon as you read, say or hear “call centre” your brain conjures up a vision of a crowded space full of cubicles, full of employees in headsets bent over computer screens. Not the most uplifting view. Press a forward button, and you’ll see cubicles disappearing, desks becoming optional and agents roaming free. With the advance of the speech to text technology, punching the details in manually will become a thing of the past. Identification will be completely automatic and handled by voice-based solutions. This will mean more freedom of movement for the representatives.

5. Uber-style employment

A bane of the call centres’ high traffic will be waved goodbye by the scores of casual employees working from home at the time of increased traffic. Trained and tested online they will be given Uber-like online profiles where their skills will be graded by both monitoring algorithms and clients.

6. Real time calibrated monitoring

The current system of random scoring of the calls by the supervisor will be replaced by fully automated, real-time monitoring. Companies will guard their reputation by preventing sensible information leaks with ever alert algorithms. Conversation analytics solutions designed to recognise and understand words, context, sentiment or emotion will be able to raise a red flag and inform managers of situations requiring their attention.

7. Community & loyalty

As contact centre becomes recognised as a vital CX touchpoint, the pressure to keep agents engaged grows. Contact centres’ managers will be faced with a challenge of reducing employee churn, the number of sick leaves and absences. This will require revisiting some fundamental assumptions about the purpose of agents’ work. The focus will be shifted from achieving desirable metrics to helping customers. To inspire engagement agents will be given more autonomy. Offering opportunities to move up in ranks beyond the contact centre hierarchy will be crucial to stop valuable agents from leaving.

8. New era of metrics

Forget about AHT, CSAT and FCR. The old metrics that choked employees and caused them to engage in some shady trickery will be replaced by scores that encourage them actually to help the caller. Customer satisfaction will be measured throughout the call to produce a clear picture of the aspects clients are satisfied or disappointed with. Script compliance will become a mythical creature once companies take advantage of voice analysing algorithms that recognise identity, gender, age and emotional state within seconds. Real-time alerts will offer cues as to what style and lingo are most appropriate in each particular case. Customer-agent matching will be a crucial task of analytic tools.

9. Cloud-based contact centres

We feel almost silly having to mention it, but yes, the Cloud will be the default choice. More and larger telco companies will offer their cloud-based contact centre services. This will allow companies to rent bundles of equipment and software, and stay competitive at a fraction of the cost. Unconstrained by the technicalities, contact centres will shift their focus to tuning their performance by applying the insights gathered by customised analytic reports.

Forrester data backs this up: 16% of contact center buyers indicate they will move their contact center systems to the cloud in the future.

10. Google’s employee treatment

The fabled treatment received by Google employees will sneak into even less affluent companies. Think healthy snacks or rest and play areas. Agents will be encouraged to move, exercise and meditate to fight off the stress caused by ever more challenging customer calls. As the demand for the specialists will grow, so will the HR budgets. Contact Centres specialists will become valued assets, worth competing for. Tempting employee benefits and perks will become a bait for employee loyalty.

The age of Customer is upon us, and the success of the companies will be soon defined by their ability to listen to their clients. Effective interpretation of the customers’ signals will become a differentiator between the brands that just promise “delightful customer experience” and those who deliver it. How? By acting upon the information harvested from the source of the purest customer feedback: the contact centre

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