Tuesday, September 24, 2013

5 quick and easy things to make any business better

When inundated with daily tasks of running a business, it’s easy to overlook some of the simpler ways to make a big impact with your customers. Here are my top 5 EASY ways to make your business better:

      1. Type, don’t handwrite
Whether you are a well-oiled entrepreneurial machine or a home-based cleaning service, typing your correspondence, ads, coupons, etc. is an absolute must. I saw an ad for a piano instructor posted on the neighbourhood mailboxes…written in marker. Despite what might have been stellar credentials, the lack of professionalism in the delivery of the information tainted the information itself. Save handwritten notes for personal correspondence like Christmas cards and thank you notes.

2. No typos!
Similar to point #1, credibility is lost immediately if there are typos on a webpage, email, advertisement, etc. Taking the time to review, re-review and then have someone else do the same is time well spent. Typos and errors speak volumes to potential customers, conveying a perceived level of professionalism, care for detail and pride of ownership – all qualities that contribute to the overall perception of a business.

           3. Respond in a timely BUT relevant fashion
Consumer behaviour research indicates that when customers are ready to make the leap to contact your business, it is the result of having a need or want they are looking to satisfy, usually accompanied by a sense of urgency. Don’t miss this opportunity to be the one to answer their call (or email!). While time is of the essence, do take some time to know what the potential customer is seeking. A prompt but irrelevant email reply is just as damaging to the relationship you are building as is a delayed response. I know a bride-to-be who emailed a wedding planning company with questions about specific services. What she received, while prompt, was an automated response showing that no one actually read her email. That business was quickly removed from her list of potential suppliers.

       4. Answer the phone like a pro
This one is pretty straight-forward but often easy to overlook. Remember that a customer contacting you is extremely valuable. Answer every call like it’s your next big client; be courteous, polite, speak clearly and be friendly. And oh yes, don’t sound like you were just awoken from a nap by their call! Yes, that actually did happen...again to the bride I know.

       5. Make sure your web links work
If you have a ‘contact us’ link, make sure it actually does what it says and allows the customer to get the information to contact you. Make sure your webpages load properly for various browsers and now, more than ever, devices just as iPads and smart phones. Because web pages are typically the first point of contact for potential customers, ensuring the links are functional is essential and will influence the opinion and perception of your business’s professionalism.

Summary: Don’t waste an opportunity to make a great impression. You don’t have to jump over the moon to serve; following these 5 easy tips will go a long way to creating a positive experience for potential customers and existing clients alike. A positive experience is the basis for building great customer relationships. Good luck!

Do you have any other easy but essential tips to share? Don’t be shy, please comment below! Our community is richer the more we learn from eachother.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

3 ways your passion is the ticket to business success

There are many things that need to be in place for a business to be successful. Having a product or service that meets market demand, securing distribution channels and communicating with your target audience are all essential components to any business plan. But don't forget to include in your arsenal, the fire that fuelled going into business in the first place: PASSION.

Building a business is hard work that requires many hours of dedication - no surprise there - often stretching late into the day and necessitating being ready to act at a moment's notice. Your kids look at it like the younger brother or sister who has their own needs and requirements. It is so easy to become buried under the to-do lists, customers, accounting, promotion, sales calls, bookkeeping, etc.. (that's a post for another day). Despite the demands, it is so important not to lose sight of your 'raison d'ĂȘtre', or, put less eloquently: why the heck are you doing this? Do you even remember anymore? If not, it's time to step back and take stock of one of the most valuable tools you have at your disposal: PASSION.

Somewhere along the way, you saw an opportunity to offer someone a solution to something through your service or product. You wanted to make someone's life easier, fuller, faster, more convenient, more stylish, healthy....the list goes on. Remembering what drove you to believe in yourself and that this business was viable is so important to keeping your brand in check and your business growing.

Here are three ways your passion can help your business:

1.  Focuses your brand
Remembering the gap in the market you wanted to fill, recalling the way you wanted to offer an improved product or customer experience...whatever it might have been for you, dust it off and keep it front and centre in your mind (and maybe at your desk too!). No, seriously. Print it out and put it up where you can see it everyday. This helps drill down to your brand essence - what your business offers that you want to build your brand upon. Did you want to provide organic doggie chew toys that are biodegradable because so many are disposed of each year? Let what inspired you inspire others too and use that to build and focus your brand.

2. Sets you apart
Entering the market because you saw an opportunity to offer something that wasn't already out there, or to do it better means that there is something different and special about your business. If you were going to offer the same thing as everyone else in your market segment, what would be the point? At one point, you saw the chance to stand out from the competition - be passionate about this idea and share it with others. Don't be afraid to tout how and why your business is different and why that is good for your customer.

3. Keeps your business decisions on-track
Remembering the reason for starting out - the passion you had and the drive to offer something distinct to the marketplace can come in handy when faced with business decisions. It's easy to be tempted by offers to grow your business by adding new products or services. Referring back to your original motivation can help ensure business decisions won't dilute your brand or mission.

Keeping your business's raison d'ĂȘtre close at hand (and preferably, in view daily), helps keep your business focussed and true to its mission. Amid the day-to-day activities, balancing multiple roles and meeting demands as a business owner, taking time to check that your decisions are in-line with and support your business's brand are essential to success!

Do you have questions about how to turn your passion into tangible business objectives? Do you want help translating that passion into messaging to promote your business to others? Contact me for a free 1-hour, no obligation meeting. I would be happy to sit down and chat with you and get to know your business: info@theroguepeamarketing.com