Growing up, I was the only Kristi I knew. I was never confused with another girl named Kristi (although they always spelled my name wrong). I also went to an EXTREMELY small school. I’m talking less than a few hundred, from K-12. Like most schools, favorites were definitely played when it came to certain things.
My elementary PE teacher, who was also the high school volleyball coach (yep, that small), gave me a nickname very early on: Yamaguchi. If you’re not familiar, Kristi Yamaguchi was a popular Olympic figure skater in the 90s. When you got a nickname, it meant you were a favorite.
Or so I thought.
Fast-forward to high school and volleyball season. I might have had a nickname, but wasn’t as much of a favorite as I’d hoped to be. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I wasn’t the best player on the team, but I worked hard and even earned a varsity spot my sophomore year. I never saw time on the court. The nickname was all in vain. I gave up my senior year and turned in my uniform after the first 3 games where I was still a benchwarmer while freshmen were getting play time like Steph Curry.
So why share this unhappy-ending childhood story?
Because unlike mine, your business’s nicknames can have a positive outcome, especially for your branding.
See if you can name the associating brand with its nickname:
How’d you do:
Some of these have learned to take them on as part of their branding. In fact, in Australia McDonald’s is nicknamed Macca’s. For their 40th anniversary in the country, they changed their signage for a short time.
Then there are those who try to keep it too formal. Back in the day, Chevrolet was said to treat its nickname like a cuss word within the company, even putting out “swear” jars around the office.
If your business was given a nickname, learn to embrace it (as long as it’s a positive one). Just like I wore Yamaguchi like a badge of honor, you should, too. A good nickname means that your customers see you as a good friend, makes your business more relatable, and creates a bond with those who use it, like a club. The ultimate goal of a great nickname is to become a household name.
Let’s not forget about brand names who have become associated with its product:
Kleenex (facial tissues)
Q-Tip (cotton swabs)
Crock-Pot (slow cookers)
Chapstick (lip balms)
Sharpie (permanent markers)
And that’s just a small sampling.
If you don’t have a nickname, don’t try to create one. Nicknames for a business, like one you’d give a friend, shouldn’t be forced. If someone you kinda know named Bob tries to get you to call him Bear without any context, it would be weird.
The most important thing about your business is that people know it and want to keep coming back to it. Nickname or not, it’s all about your reputation and staying on brand. Better to have a good reputation than a bad nickname - just ask Canadian Tire.
My family was one of the crazies during the pandemic who started a larger garden in 2021. In my defense, I had done a small front porch garden for a few years prior. With all our new found time, we decided it was a good time to expand. One thing we really love about growing our own veggies was how great they taste. We weren’t worried about cleaning off chemicals, just dirt and the occasional caterpillar (and boy, are they sneaky).
I will admit, it’s been a lot of work, but also really rewarding. We’ve given away so much because we couldn’t keep up with all the produce we had, and we ate the best salads daily during the summer! My smoothies also tasted even better with fresh kale.
Although I could have just as easily kept buying veggies from the store, we felt the investment in good soil and materials plus watering and weeding was a fair trade-off. We also liked how it became a family thing, getting us outside together and enjoying the fruits of our labor (pun intended).
Marketing is really no different.
There are plenty of places you could push your product or service, ads you could pay for, heck, you can even buy mailing lists. But in the end, was it really as good?
Since Google (aka “the Big G”) and others are cracking down on third-party tracking, it can be harder to get in front of the right people with ads or even emails. So what’s the best way stay in front of your audience?
Soil vs Dirt
My sister-in-law had studied Soil Science in college. She is very adamant about the difference between the words “soil” and “dirt”. Soil is full of nutrients and the best place for veggies to grow. Dirt on the other hand is, well, probably the stuff in your backyard. Not as many nutrients, rocky, and filled with who knows what (at least, that’s how I best understand it).
Just like a high-yielding garden needs good soil to grow, your audience needs a good place, too.
Dirt in your marketing looks like:
These, like dirt, add items that will mess with your outcome (aka marketing analytics). For instance, the people who only sign up for your email list to get something for free will most likely open the email with the freebie. Any other email you send won’t be opened. What’s worse - they could possibly end up unsubscribing or report you as spam which in turn hurts any gains you may have earned. It’s like buying a bag of salad at the store. A quick fix for what you need, but when it’s gone, all you have is an empty bag. Give them something more after the freebie, like good information in a newsletter and or exclusive offers in a weekly email.
One thing we’ve looked into for our garden is heirloom seeds. These are the best of the best, able to be used year after year from the items you grow, which in turn saves you from having to buy more seeds or plants.
When you use good marketing, you’ll reap the benefits for years to come. A referral is one of the biggest compliments you can get plus it’s one of the best ways to build trust. When you take care of a customer from the very beginning, they’ll tell others.
That care could be as simple as:
Sharing Your Harvest
When you take the time to care properly for your garden, you usually end up with more than you’ll be able to eat before it rots. One of our goals is to be able to give part of our vegetables away from our garden, especially to the Food Bank of Iowa. We love having fresh veggies and know others love it, too, but maybe struggle with gardening or don’t have the time or resources.
In marketing, one of the greatest ways to build your credibility to help another small business out. If they are your supplier, printer, or maybe a business you’ve had a good experience with personally or for your business, give them a shoutout in an email, social post, or link on your website (don’t forget a link or to tag them!). We all know as SBOs how hard it is to get in front of the right audience. Why not use your success to help out others? You also provide a resource for your audience they may not be aware of and appreciate the referral.
Does organic marketing take time? Yes. But, like an heirloom seed, you’ll always have a good harvest to pick from for years to come. Find the best place to market your business (social media, blogs, email, etc) and wait patiently for the best audience to grow from it.
(If you need help deciding where fertile ground is, let’s chat!)
I remember how excited I was in high school when I found out what a copywriter was. People would actually pay me to write? Sign me up!
I didn’t lose steam in college, either. I was so excited to work on my first marketing project and was so proud of the campaign we created. Then there was my copywriting class taught by my favorite professor and another class taught by 2 interim professors that worked at a local, well-known agency (I may have been a little starstruck). When I took a tour of a different agency that worked with a lot of national brands, I couldn’t wait to graduate and start working.
Then the Great Recession happened. When I graduated in 2009, there were little to no jobs for recent college graduates who studied marketing, especially copywriting.
To say I was devastated may not be a far stretch.
Instead of sulking, I took a job as an administrative assistant (also because I like to eat and have hot water). What should have been a mundane job turned into a chance to build my portfolio. After seeing the “newsletters” teachers sent, I asked the director if I could create something better. Thankfully, he agreed and I made a great newsletter that the parents loved.
Another job I had was an office manager for a warehouse (I had more administrative jobs than I’d like to admit). I had so much free time, I spent a lot of it on social media. And since I was still looking for my dream job, LinkedIn was a big part of that. I noticed our business wasn’t great at marketing (truly non-existent) so I asked the owner if I could create a LinkedIn page for the business. He agreed and I was able to build my skills in social media.
Had it not been for these two people allowing me to do these creative tasks, I may have lost some of my creative spark before I truly had a chance to use it.
Now owning my own business, I want to change that.
April is Internship Awareness Month to encourage businesses to support and create opportunities for college students and young professionals. On April 10th it’s Encourage a Young Writer Day. It was created to encourage young children who love to read and write.
I love that both of these happen in the same month and are part of some big goals I have for my business. I don’t want to hire employees, I want to hire college students pursuing a career in copywriting as interns and those who’ve graduated as contractors. I want to give them the real-world experience their portfolios and resumes need while I learn from them as well.
So how can you encourage a young copywriter?
If they are in college:
Giving college students the chance to try their hand at writing all kinds of marketing will also help them know what they enjoy and do best.
If they’re going to graduate or already have:
Beyond these ideas, the best thing you can do for the copywriter in your life, still in college or graduated, is be supportive. Not many people truly know what a copywriter is, so having someone in their corner helps family meals, holiday gatherings, and other events be a little less stressful and awkward. Trust me, they’ll be grateful to you for it.
I’m fortunate enough to say I’ve never had to use a dating app - I was married long before they were developed. I have been on a few awkward dates, though. Some merely started awkwardly since we were nervous. One type of date I’ve never experienced is having the other person be a self-promoter. From what I understand, they spend most of the time talking about themselves and never give you a chance to get a word in or ask questions about you. How dull! I hope they would at least pay for the meal.
Maybe you’ve been on that date. Hopefully you’ve never been that person on the date.
Could the same be said for your marketing content?
Here are a few examples:
Don’t be ashamed if you fit one of these or something along those lines. Like you would expect a friend to give you feedback after a date, here’s my friendly marketing advice: cut down talking about your product or service by at least half.
When it comes to your website, save the “all about me” for the copy on the About Us page. This is a great place to explain your background, your passion for what you do, and the like. Consumers have been defaulted to know that page is where to find that type of information. Try to avoid using words like “we” and “us” because they focus on you. Try rewriting the copy to make it “you”.
Blogs are to show your expertise but not be focused on you. They should address an issue or question that your customer has, give the answer with some insight as to how you solve it, and include links to other resources to build your credibility. BONUS: it’s continually adding new copy and keywords to your website, which the Big G likes.
If you collect email addresses from customers and prospects, be clear about how their email will be used and don’t abuse it. If you’ve set the expectation of email campaigns with discounts or coupons only, make sure it’s worth their while, maybe even exclusive. If you say you’re going to send a weekly tip, do that and nothing more. Never try to sneak something in because you’ve got their attention. If you give them something they didn’t sign up for, you’ll quickly dwindle your email list and end up blocked altogether.
Newsletters are to share information and build relationships, not sell. I include a marketing cartoon in mine, for instance, because I want to add a little humor. If your newsletter is only filled with your latest sale, newest product, and your accolades, you’ll end up in their spam folder because they’ll stop opening it or, worse, they’ll unsubscribe. Remember, they’re trusting you with their email, give them whatever you said you would deliver at the time they signed up.
Overall, be thoughtful when it comes to the marketing content you create, whether it be a newsletter, blog, or web copy. Give them answers they’re looking for. Be relatable and insightful. Give them something they want to share and talk about (positively) with their friends! And, most importantly, build those relationships.
Need a matchmaker? Reach out and I’ll be happy to help.
Recently when we lost internet for about 2 days, it was like a trip back to the ‘90s. My oldest learned what it’s like to wait through commercials to finish a show on “live” TV. He was almost dumbfounded at the fact that we couldn’t just skip them. (Funny enough, commercials are part of what inspired me to become a copywriter, but I digress).
We all probably recognize the idea of instant gratification but are we truly aware? Even fast-food restaurants have apps so you can order your food BEFORE you get there! As much as I appreciate the convenience, I’ve found it’s set up some unrealistic expectations in places where instant gratification just can’t happen. Mainly the timeline for marketing strategy results.
My biggest cringe as a copywriter is a client who expects their overall marketing goals to be met within the first month, if not the first week. It’s just not possible. I have a feeling any SEO expert will tell you that analytics are great, but even the immediate figures don’t necessarily dictate the future. I think the Wizard of Ads said it best:
“...the best campaigns aren’t seeking instant gratification through sales at all, they are seeking long-term relationships with their customers.”
Good marketing isn’t just about how many sales it brings in, but the relationships it creates. Those relationships are the new brand loyalty because they build trust between a consumer and a business.
Even as someone who has their own marketing business, I struggle with not seeing instant results. I may put out a rockstar newsletter or post once about an amazing marketing package, but that doesn’t necessarily mean people will be blowing up my phone to work with me.
Great marketing takes time, as in up to 90 days MINIMUM time. That’s a hard number to swallow, but it’s the truth. Think of it this way:
If someone walked up to you on the street and asked you to marry them, you’d think they were crazy.
Your customers aren’t going to commit after one post, blog, or other marketing pieces either.
So, just like any good thing, two big factors to hone in on:
1. Give your marketing strategy a reasonable timeline, especially if your business is new. Quick results don’t create repeat customers. Repeat customers not only bring more sales but friends, too.
2. Be consistent. You can’t put out a newsletter once and a while and expect an influx of customers. They need to be familiar with you, what you do, why they should choose you over the other guys.
To make your marketing strategy a five-star experience, don’t cheapen it to drive-through quality. The best things take time!
As I started writing this blog, the song “Give It Away” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, or at least the chorus, rung through my ears.
Yes, I’m a millennial, but I prefer xennial.
In any case, it’s very fitting for marketing. If you aren’t familiar with the song or don’t remember the lyrics, it starts out “What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your mama, what I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your papa, what I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your daughter”. You’ve got a great product or service, well worth what you charge for it. I have a feeling, like many other business owners, you struggle with the idea of discounts or even giving something way. It takes away from your profit and maybe you even feel it cheapens it.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
When I worked as an intern for a radio station, I learned how much people loved freebies. Some didn’t even care what it was only that you were willing to give it to them for free. This didn’t cheapen our message or make the client we were representing look cheap, it made us say “we know we have a great product and we’re willing to share X with you to help you see it, too.” And, at the very least, they were a walking billboard.
Let’s be real - most people are skeptical. There’s a good probability that your core audience is as well. By offering something for free, you’re beginning to build a bridge of trust and expertise. A great example is from my days as a Pampered Chef consultant. Our products came with a hefty price tag, but by allowing people to use them at a home party and show them how they worked, they were able to see the value. I would also give away mini cookbooks, paring knives, and orange peelers as a thank you for just stopping by my booth at a vendor fair. I had to build trust in the products before they would even consider a purchase. I had to be willing to put myself out there and risk my own products (sometimes my personal ones) to help them see how they make cooking easier and enjoyable.
I’m not asking you to give them the whole kit & kaboodle. Give them something that allows them to experience the quality of your product. Give them something that shows them your expertise in what you.
Start with what gives them the best representation of what you have. What is one part of your service that you can offer without giving it all away? Offer samples or discounts for new customers. Add a free small gift when they do purchase. Give free tips & tricks or advice & insight.
Don’t give away the least, but part of your best. As RHCP says, “Realize I don’t want to be a miser.” It’s not all just about selling but giving them a solution to their problem or need.
If you struggle to find the right words or promoting your awesome giveaway, that’s where I come in. I’ll help introduce new prospects to your amazing product or service through emails, social posts, or better website copy. Reach out today and let’s set up your free consultation, coffee/tea/smoothie on me (even if virtual).
When I was in college, one of the lessons a professor gave us was short and sweet: when the business isn’t doing well financially, the first thing to go is marketing. The reason: not many business owners know the value of their marketing.
I graduated from Drake University with a Bachelors in Mass Communication in 2009 during the Great Recession. When it came to finding a copywriting job, there were none. Not even an internship. My professor’s words came true - everyone was scaling back and the job market for my industry showed it.
Now, don’t take this as a “poor me” type of post, that’s not the direction I’m going here. If anything, it’s more “poor them” as in the business owners. Another lesson that same professor taught us was that the businesses that get through hardships and thrive after are those who don’t stop marketing, at least not completely.
I’ll be the first to admit that marketing your business when the finances aren’t strong has seemed like an easy choice. Here’s the thing - if you don’t keep yourself top of mind, you’ll be forgotten. I’ve seen that first hand - people forget about what I do when I haven’t been posting on social media, networking, and keeping up on my blogs ad newsletter (as I referenced in another blog). Trust me when I say my business has suffered because of it.
This is why I always encourage my clients to invest in a newsletter. It can cover a few bases:
1. Staying top of mind: no matter the frequency, you’ll always be in their inbox.
2. Showing expertise: both sharing your blogs as well as industry news.
3. Referrals: when you’re top of mind, you then give them something to pass along to someone who might need what you sell.
4. Builds trust: if you’re giving them relevant information and not just selling to them all the time, they know you’re a good resource.
And this is only one form of advertising that can help during a rough patch. The point is never stop marketing in some form otherwise don’t be surprised when your business goes from bad to worse. Just like a friendship needs to be nurtured, so does your relationship with your customers. Marketing is all about building those relationships not simply telling people how well you do what you do or how amazing your product is (that’s advertising). When you aren’t marketing to them, even indirectly, they can feel jaded or as if they are just another transaction.
If COVID has taught you anything as a business owner, let it be that marketing works. Find ways to keep communicating with your customers and they will help see you through the hardest times!
Back when Facebook first became widespread, we all enjoyed sharing what was on our minds and having cordial conversations. We kept in touch with old high school friends as well as family from out of town. Thanks to a boring job in college with a lot of downtime, Facebook became a welcoming way to pass the time for me.
Today, the way the platform is used hasn’t changed much. Many people still use it to stay in touch with friends and family. Now they can share photos and videos, like, love, or hate a status, and create a groups with common interests. The biggest difference is that businesses can join the platform thanks to the creation of business pages. The problem is that too many businesses don’t join the conversation and forget the biggest piece of social media is that it was made to be SOCIAL.
People no longer want to be advertised to - they want to ask questions, learn more, and feel as though they matter. Brand loyalty is a thing of the past, especially with upcoming generations like Gen Z. People are no longer won over by a catchy jingle or punny magazine ads.
If you take a step back, how is your business or organization using social media?
Keep It Social
There’s a reason marketing is a separate term from advertising. Marketing is more about interacting with your customers than promoting your organization. Social media can be a great way to stay connected with your current customers while gaining exposure in ways traditional advertising can’t do. Think of social media marketing like dating - no one likes someone who only talks about themselves. Encourage interactions on your posts by asking questions or taking polls, either related to your business or just something relevant like a relevant national holiday. Likes, hearts, and other reactions are ok, but you want people to comment and share your posts so it reaches a bigger audience. Create content that people would want to share with their friends and family.
Know Your Audience
One question that’s always brought to the table is “which platform should we be on?” The answer is never all of them and truly not even two. You need to be where your audience is but it’s always best to start in one place. Facebook is great for most demographics, but if you’re looking to reach the under 25 crowd, consider Instagram or Twitter. Get to know and be comfortable with one platform well before adding another to your plate. Also know how your audience likes to engage with you on that platform. Some people use Twitter or Facebook Messenger as an alternative type of customer service. Make sure they know what to expect when it comes to interacting with you on each platform.
The Best Practices
I’m not saying you can’t promote your products or services, but you don’t want every post to be about you (remember it’s like dating!). The best way to use social media for marketing is to follow the 4-1-1 Rule. For every promotional or “salesy” post you publish, you’ll want to have four others that educate, entertain, or give your audience a reason to interact. Finally, share or engage with one other person’s or organization’s posts. Did a customer mention you? Make sure you like it and maybe leave a simple thank you. Even if they don’t mention you, an occasional comment on their posts can help humanize your organization. Don’t forget to add hashtags but make sure to know what’s the appropriate amount to have.
Social media is just that - SOCIAL. Either you’re engaging with your customers or you’re left talking to yourself. If you were to look at your social media from your followers’ perspective, would you want to share and comment with your organization or want to unfollow? It’s never to late to change or start over with your social media strategy. Looking for some help? See how I can come alongside to help you create great conversations in your social media!
I’ve always loved holidays. Growing up, many were a big deal for my family with something to look forward to from each. Thanksgiving had its food and parade, Christmas had its gift-giving and decorating, and the 4th of July had its fireworks and town celebrations. Anymore, there seems to be some reason to celebrate every day. Take for instance holidays like Doughnut Day (first Friday in June) or Singles Awareness Day (February 15).
Having something to celebrate every day can be fun, but it can easily become annoying. That’s why it’s important to practice celebrating in moderation, especially as a business or organization. National holidays can create some great content, but you don’t want it to become too much of a good thing. Here are my 3 tips when it comes to celebrating and using all the national holidays in your marketing.
Keep It Relevant
Just because you see a lot of posts about National Bomb Pop Day (the last Thursday in June) doesn’t mean your auto body shop NEEDS to create a post. National holidays can help break up your content, whether as a fun, interactive post or helping to promote something about your business. It’s when you try to celebrate as many national holidays as possible that your customers will lose interest quickly, possibly causing them to unfollow or unsubscribe from you. National holidays are seen as something fun to do not something that should be exploited or worn out. Make sure whatever holidays you choose to have your business celebrate, they don’t seem forced or completely unrelated.
Keep It Real
Although you could celebrate something every day, not all “national holidays” should be celebrated. One big component I pay attention to is looking to see how accurate it is. When you use the National Day Calendar, each holiday will give an explanation of how to celebrate as well as the history behind it. If it says it’s “researching the origins” of that holiday, many times I won’t use it. Another great way to see if it’s something worth celebrating is to research hashtags. You can search specific hashtags with the search bar on Instagram and Twitter. This way you’ll know how popular it really is, if it’s worth adding to your calendar, and if it’s seen as a real holiday.
Keep it Fun
Probably one of the most important aspects of celebrating national holidays is having a fun way to interact with your customers and followers. Although these can give you a great reason to have a sale or promote your business, sometimes it’s just a simple way to start a fun conversation. One of my favorite holidays to use for my clients is National Get To Know Your Customers Day (the third Thursday of the last month of each quarter). I take the opportunity to ask a question, sometimes not even related to the business, to get a conversation going. The less serious, the better - you don’t want people starting an argument in your comment section because you decided to ask who do you hope wins the election.
Whether you decided to stick to the traditional 7 holidays or branch out every now and again, just remember to keep it all in moderation. We can always use a good reason to celebrate and have a little more fun, just not necessarily every day. It can take a little work and planning to incorporate holidays into your marketing, but it can also pay off in the end. If you’d like a little help, here’s my gift to you to celebrate whatever today may be - download this calendar filled with some of my favorite national holidays!
In the earlier stages of building a business or organization, meetings and networking become a big part of your day. You’re looking to spread the message of what you do and find people to help through services or volunteering. It’s been no different in my entrepreneurial journey. I’ve enjoyed many cups of coffee learning about other businesses in the Des Moines metro and sharing my passion for what I do. Although meetings usually go well when they are specifically interested in my marketing or other services, there are times where I start to see 1 of 3 reasons they probably won’t hire me anytime soon. And honestly, I’m usually glad they don’t because I wouldn’t want either of us to feel as though we made a bad business decision. Whether you are thinking of sitting down with myself or another marketer, make sure you have these reasons aren’t holding you back from moving forward.
In a previous blog, I talked about the importance of having marketing in your business’s budget. Before you consider sitting down with myself or any other marketer, make sure you have a monthly amount you’re ready to invest (and yes, you definitely want to see it as an investment, more on that below). More times than not, I’ll get the question “what do you charge?” Although I have a lovely price sheet I’m happy to share, I usually reply with another question, “What is your budget?” If you don’t have that answer, any of my prices will give you sticker shock. I’m always willing to talk through any size budget and see if we can’t find the best bang for your business buck, but it’s better to have a budget set first.
Time is a precious commodity. It’s why many of us choose to start our own businesses - so we can spend more time doing what we love or with those we love. When you start an organization, you spend most of your time helping it grow, including all the marketing and communication. If you’re still in the early stages where you have the time to post on social media, send out emails, or create flyers, then you may not be ready to hire it out, and that’s ok. When those tasks start to go into the late hours of the night or the weekend, that’s when it’s time to find someone like myself. My job is to help you grow while making sure you have time to focus on other parts of your business or more personal time.
Maybe you’ve heard how important it is to be marketing your business. Maybe people have asked why don’t you have any marketing materials. Maybe you’ve never really seen the importance of marketing but feel like it’s something you’re “supposed to do” as a business owner. If that’s your reasoning for sitting down with a marketer, I can tell you now the conversation probably won’t go well. Just like you know the importance of your products or service offerings, marketers feel the same about what they are offering you. My goal has always been to provide small businesses and non-profits with budget-friendly and high-quality marketing that helps them achieve their goals. If I’m being honest, not fully understanding the importance of marketing is the biggest reason I don’t want someone to hire me. I want them to trust me and value what I bring to the table. I truly want to provide the best service I can and want to create a working relationship, not just a contract. When starting with a new client, I become one of their biggest cheerleaders because if I can’t get behind what they are about, then the marketing won’t be effective.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good conversation over coffee or lunch especially since Des Moines has so many great local spots. I also know that making the most of the other person’s time is also important. If you’d like to get together over coffee and get to know more about my business while I do the same for yours, great! I’m always looking to expand my network and have great people to refer to. If you truly think you’re ready to take the steps towards hiring out your marketing (or daily tasks - see my Virtual Assistant page), then let’s get a meeting on the calendar.
I’m not going to sugar coat it - my blogging isn’t as consistent as I’d like it to be on my own site.
Honestly, it’s a good thing because it means that I’m busy doing work for my clients with their blogs, social media, and the like. I once had another freelance marketing colleague say if your own website and blog are up to date, you don’t have enough work. I completely agree with that statement.
Although I’m not sweating the frequency of my blog or social media posts, as a business owner looking to stay in touch with both current and new customers, it is something you need to be aware of because your current and potential customers really do notice.
Falling Through the Cracks
If I asked you to name a business or brand, besides yours of course, what comes to mind first? Whether you’ve realized it or not, the reason their first is because they make sure to stay top of mind. When you have big gaps in your promotions and marketing, people tend to forget about you. No matter how good that one blog post was or how many likes you got on that social media post, it’s gone and forgotten if you don’t continue to communicate and promote. If you aren’t putting yourself in front of the public in some form at least 12 times, you won’t make an impression. If you were to ask your customers how they heard about you, they’re only going to remember the most recent, and the reason they are inquiring or visiting is usually that they’ve seen your business name enough times that it finally stuck. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Think of consumers like an old dot matrix printer - your logo and business name only prints one line of ink at a time. Some people just print faster than others.
Just Say No to Spam
There is a big difference from working to stay top of mind and being spammy. You want to make sure that the frequency not only makes sense for your product or service but that you’re giving relevant information and not just sending that email to send an email. And if all you post is “buy my product!” or “use my service!” people will not only tune you out but eventually tell the platform they don’t even want to follow you. No one wants to be hidden for 30 days or worse Unliked. Social media is about communication; don’t make it advertising, give your customers something to interact with every now and again. DID YOU KNOW: Every quarter there’s a #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay? It falls on the third Thursday of every quarter month (January, April, July, and October).
Don’t be a Robot
I’m not going to lie - being able to schedule posts is a GREAT time saver. The only problem is then it’s like those infomercials where you set it and forget it. What if someone comments? What if something changes or a last-minute exciting idea comes along? Scheduling posts is great for holidays or even community events, but it’s important to not only make sure your content is up-to-date but that you’re interacting with the people who are interacting with you! The same goes especially for those who tag you in a post or simply mention, negatively or positively. Unfortunately, many people tend to air their grievances on social media and company’s don’t have a chance to help with a resolution. Now, you could be like the venue my friend booked for her wedding and have a line in the contract stating that you can’t post anything on social media without first speaking to management to try to resolve the issue. You’ll still have random people in the public who’ve never signed your contract or may have felt their post was harmless. Social media is all about interactions and conversations. Don’t treat it as a billboard or print ad. MY TWO CENTS: Always stay to the lighter, respectful side no matter how negative.
Should I wait months before I write another blog post? Probably not. Will it happen? As long as I’m helping my awesome clients (like you, hopefully!) keep their social media and other marketing flowing, most likely. If you’re feeling inconsistent as I do about my blogging and posting, it might be time to rethink your marketing strategy. Whether it’s scheduling out time every week or finding space in the budget to hire help, don’t let your marketing have big gaps or worse, go stagnant. I'd be happy to see how I can help!
As much as I’d like to promise a blog soon, my schedule says otherwise and my clients (and bank account) are glad.
Back in the spring of 2018, had a trip to San Antonio solo, my first time traveling on my own. It was a business trip, but I tried to add some personal touches as well with some sightseeing and places to eat. When I arrived at my hotel, I was pretty exhausted; my last flight had been a little bumpy, but luckily my check-in service experience was friendly and quick. I was ready to relax in my room with some takeout. Little did I know I was in for a long night.
I attempted to order in but ended up in a 2-hour run-around. Luckily, the front desk person who had checked me in had my back. After I had already canceled my order with the first restaurant, the delivery driver shows up an hour late and thinks I'm going to still take my food. When I didn't answer my door, he walks down to the front desk and has them call my room. Since I'd called the front desk earlier to ask about a delivery person, he knew I was pretty upset already and warned the guy. After I said I canceled my order, he told the guy sorry but no go.
The next day, that same front desk person happened to be working the night shift again and told me how he'd told that delivery person that he might pull the menus of their restaurant if the service didn't shape up. When the delivery person pleaded with him, he told him that they'd better let their management know that they need better service or they won't be promoted in that hotel any longer. I thanked him for his help and asked his advice for dinner that night. He gave me the "tourist" recommendation then the local favorite to try. I ended up trying both during my trip and they were great recommendations! Except for my snafu with the first night, my stay ended up being very pleasant. I made sure to leave a very nice review and specifically mentioned the front desk person who was so helpful to me. To my pleasant surprise, I received an email from the manager about a week after my stay thanking me for my feedback.
Jump back to September of 2017, I had a trip experience that was horrid, especially in comparison. We had multiple issues with the room and never heard from the management even after waiting in our room then leaving our cell phone number so we could go sightseeing. Unfortunately, it was more work to switch hotels then stick it out the few days we were there. It wasn't until the day after we'd arrived home that I received a short email from the management with an apology, but at that point, it fell on deaf ears.
Although both managers made an effort to communicate with their customer, can you guess which handled the situation better?
Two big takeaways I have for business owners and managers to make their customer service experiences better from my experiences:
Don't wait until it's too late to respond.
Even if the situation has already happened, address it as soon as possible somehow. Letting the customer know that you're aware of it as soon as you can lets them know that the person who said they would report it actually did, giving the customer a sense of trust and priority. Had the manager during our 2017 trip even left a handwritten note for us on our door, I feel like my feelings toward the whole situation would have been different. You don't have to have all the answers or complete resolution to give a response, just keep the lines of communication open.
Be thankful for feedback.
The only good thing about my negative experience was the manager said:
The best part about my positive experience was the manager said:
Think about it this way: why guess what you're doing right or wrong when you can have your customers tell you? You won't know the right answer until you ask and get a response. Negative Reviews don't have to be something you dread but use as a tool to make your business better. If someone took the time to give you feedback, the least you can do is say "thank you".
You can't make every customer happy, but you can glean a little from each experience to continue to grow a good reputation for your business. Just like I shared my customer service experiences with you, put yourself in your customers' shoes and you'll be a better business owner for it! Although this can be a time consuming task, it's always worth it in the end, and I'd be happy to help keep a positive light on your business!
Many may not be aware, but it’s said that the 2nd week of February is considered Freelance Writer Appreciation Week. As a freelance writer myself, I consider this week as big a deal as my birthday (which if you know me personally is not a small thing). Many people don’t know or truly understand what it is I do so to think there’s an entire week dedicated to appreciating my craft rejuvenates my excitement for the type of work I’ve chosen to do.
If you’re someone who’s hired a freelance writer before or currently (or even one of my clients!) and you’ve appreciated all that they’ve done for your business, why not take a moment this week to say thank you? If you’re not sure how to start, here are a few ideas:
OK so the last “S” is a little harsh, but let’s focus on the first 3 letters: Keep It Simple. Shoot them an email that says how much you’ve appreciated what they’ve brought to your business. Maybe highlight something positive that happened as a result of their work. You could even go old school and actually mail a thank you card because who doesn’t love getting something other than bills or junk mail?
Tell the World
The biggest compliment I would ever receive as a writer is a great recommendation. If you want to really help your freelance writer without any monetary need, celebrate them publicly. This can be done through a review on sites like the Better Business Bureau or a quick “thank you” on your social media channel that tags them or their business page. (don't forget the hashtag "#FreelanceWritersAppreciationWeek")
Go All Out
If there are not enough words to express how grateful you are for your freelance writer, I’ll be the first to say honestly gifts are wonderful, too. If you’re like me and love to give gifts of great meaning, try something like Aqua Notes (because we all know inspiration comes in the shower!).
No matter how you choose to give accolades to your favorite freelance writer, they will truly appreciate it. I can’t speak for all of us, but I can bet that a great majority of us truly love what we do and love the clients we work for!
To all my fellow freelance writers, I hope you truly know how appreciated you are this week and every week! #FreelanceWritersAppreciationWeek
It happened - a customer ranted on a review website about your company and gave you the lowest rating possible. Maybe they started by saying "Don't waste your money" or "Worst company ever!!!!" even with the multiple exclamation points to really get the message across. You might think this is the beginning of the end - but I promise it's not IF it's handled properly.
In one of my past positions, it was one of my responsibilities to monitor their reviews on various platforms. What I found is most of the time, people jump the gun with their complaints because it's in the heat of the moment and it's part of a domino effect going on in their life that you get the brunt of it. But first, let me take a step back.
I know as a consumer, if I'm not sure of a service or product, I check the reviews and go straight to the bad ones. I want to see what their complaint was but furthermore, what the company did to answer and resolve it. Don't think reviews will be swept under the rug because they can come back to haunt you.
If you're not already looking at reviews of your company, it's time to start. Consumers' trust in brands and celebrities is very low and nowadays they depend on the opinions of their peers. Even if you've never created an account, certain websites like Yelp, BBB, Google+, and even Facebook might already have something in place for your business because a customer decided to leave a review. Your top priority is to go in and claim these listings so you can start to gain some control over what's being portrayed about your company.
Once you'd done this or if you've already created these accounts, you need to monitor them, at least once a week. When this was part of my job description, I tried to set aside about an hour or two a week to go through all our accounts. Even if it's all good reviews, it's important to be proactive. A simple "Thanks for choosing us!" or "We're glad we could help with ___" goes a long way.
Now for the bad reviews. No matter how infuriating they may seem, how much you want to retaliate, stop and take a breath. First, you may not have been the actual source of their rage, but you are the endpoint that gets dumped on. It's important to do a little research about the customer and what really happened. Did you do everything possible to help the customer? Was this written before a resolution was found? Are you ACTUALLY at fault? Here's how I handled negative reviews:
The best message to get across is that you did everything you could, you're continuing to work on the issue to find a proper resolution, apologize for dropping the ball if needed, and let them know how you're fixing it.
This might seem like a lot of work for one customer, but it's always worth it. Other customers will see that you are aware of what's going on in your company and want to make it right. No matter how bad the review, a great response can take that negative into a positive - and I've seen customers gained BECAUSE of a well-written response to a bad review!
A great resource for how to handle complaints is a book by Jay Baer called "Hug Your Haters." I highly recommend giving it a read.
If you read this and feel overwhelmed at the idea of adding another thing to do to your list, get in touch with me. I'd be happy to offer my services and experience!
One of the first things I ask a potential client is “what’s your marketing budget?” Many times over I hear “I/We don’t have one.”
Not gonna lie, this makes me cringe a little. It’s not that I’m not willing to work with them but it makes me nervous when it comes time to invoice each month. In the seven months that I’ve moved from a part-time to full-time freelancer, I’ve run into some issues with clients when it comes time to settle on a contract or pay their invoice. I decided that too many startups, small businesses, and new non-profits aren’t aware of how important marketing is for their organization at any stage. With the fiscal year looming its ugly head, I wanted to share some insights I’ve gained from experiences with my clients and my own budget.
Even if you decide to do the marketing on your own, you still need to plan for it. This can be as simple as business cards and a website, but you need to make sure you’ve got the funds you need. But what could be considered marketing? In short, anything you use to promote your business. Flyers inside a bag, sponsoring an event, shirts for staff, all of it. If it’s got your logo and a way to contact you, you can consider it marketing. Another aspect to consider in your budget is your time. As small business owners and non-profit directors, we just lump all our projects together, but your time is valuable. Consider setting aside a certain amount of time each week to work on your marketing: scheduling social media posts, writing a blog, or attending a networking event. Knowing roughly how much time you’re spending doing your marketing will help you know how much to budget when you need to hire someone to take over, whether internally or externally. This will also be good if you need to trim your budget. Most people cut out marketing completely, but it can hurt your business more than you realize. If you have to do the marketing yourself again, you’ll have a reference to look back on so you can budget your time and money wisely.
If you’ve decided that you’re better off hiring someone to help with marketing, there’s still some consideration. First off, do you hire someone to work directly for your business (W9 employee) or hire the work out to a freelancer (1099 employee)? There are pros and cons to both, such as providing benefits, availability, etc so make sure to weigh them carefully before deciding. One suggestion I do make if you hire directly, make sure you feel comfortable enough after about 90 days to trust their knowledge, expertise, and judgment. Not to say you shouldn’t have final say or review, but if you can’t rely on them to eventually work on their own, you’ll only add stress and more to your own plate, removing the reason for hiring someone.
If you’ve decided to hire outside the business, here are a few tips. First, treat their invoices just like you would any other bill, especially if you know in advance what the amount will be. The electric company doesn’t like late payments and either does a freelancer, eventually losing your freelancer. Make sure to agree upon the best form of communication whether it be text/messenger, email, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings. If they have questions, most likely they’ll need a quick answer. Make sure you also set up expectations of how and when they will communicate updates and follow up. There are some great resources to help you know where they are in a project so you don’t feel completely out of the loop. Two tools I like and have used personally are Trello and Asana. Both offer free services, but if you want to get fancy, they have other levels for a monthly fee.
When it comes to a freelancer, it’s important to have good communication on how you will set up payments. Make sure to ask what form of payment they prefer, but make sure it’s one you’re also comfortable with. Some may ask for a partial or whole fee up front, especially when starting out. If they have a contract (like any good freelancer should) make sure you understand the payment terms, including late fees. For instance, I charge all my clients through my Quickbooks program on the first of the month, with payment due in 10 business days. I make sure this is in my contract as well as communicated elsewhere to my clients so we are on the same page. If you’re having them produce Google ads, social media ads, and other types of advertising, make sure you’ve established how that will be paid for. Will the freelancer cover it and bill you for it or will you handle those fees directly? If they cover the cost, you can always ask for receipts for your tax purposes.
If you’re hiring someone to do your marketing, it’s important to make sure you’re paying them a good rate. If you’re not sure what that looks like, there a few different websites that can help, like PayScale and Salary.com. Make sure their salary isn’t the whole marketing budget either - they need to know they have a budget to work with. There’s only so much you can do for free, and if you want them to produce great marketing, they’re going to need good resources.
Ultimately, if you don’t see the true value of marketing for your small business or non-profit, some of the numbers you come across may be hard to swallow. There will also be instances where it’s hard to show the true ROI - customers may take up to 12 touchpoints before they step foot in your business or call your number. It can also take up to 3 months to start to see results from website changes, social media campaign, or other digital marketing efforts. When you go in with the right expectations, whether DIY, hire, or freelance, you’ll see more success in your marketing efforts. Here’s to seeing your business/organization grow!
Want to chat with me about how I could help your business? Drop me an email!
Social media scheduling tools are great.
You can plan a whole campaign in one day, and make adjustments when needed. It's like you never need to check the actual accounts. Then, you noticed you're losing a few followers, even though you're posts are getting shared, liked, and commented on. These few lost followers might not seem like much, but maybe you need to think about checking your notifications on the accounts. In fact, Microsoft reported that 74% of millennials perception improves for a company when they get a response through social media.
As a one-person marketing team, I understand being pressed for time. Certain things take priority. Especially in a service industry, social media needs to start being one of them. Although I've used Hootsuite and currently use Buffer, I still make it appoint to check each channel individually. I look for comments, private messages, sharing, and even likes. It never takes long, so I check 2-3 times a day. Giving the time to say "thanks for sharing!" or replying to a comment helps continue to build on your high-quality customer service. Although I never directly work with the customers, I want to make sure that they know they can reach the company whether it's in a phone call or private message.
One pet peeve I have as a consumer, who is also a marketing professional, is when a company asks you to tag them or use a special hashtag for a promotion or campaign then does nothing with it. If you ask your followers to do something specific and they take time to do it, please acknowledge them for it! A quick like or comment could mean the difference between brand loyalty or changing their perspective of your company.
Keep the engagement going - after all, it is called "social" media so be social! Think of it as one more outlet for customer service, positively advancing your customers' experience with your company and building a great reputation.
Don't have time to schedule and monitor your business social media accounts? Let's chat!
You don't want to ward off quality candidates with bad or plainly outdated content.
A few years ago, I was a full-time job seeker. I had bookmarked pages like Indeed and Monster. Part of my daily ritual became checking those job boards. I painstakingly read through hundreds of job descriptions, all saying a lot of the same things. I began to loathe any job description that took me a few scrolls to get through, or that went on and on with job duties.
From my experience, I came to the conclusion that hiring professionals need to see job descriptions as part of a company's marketing. They may not be working to attract customers for sales, but they are working to attract top talent to make those sales happen. I've also done the hiring process and I know interviews are lengthy and time-consuming. Why waste time with mediocre candidates when you could attract the best fit for the job?
Here are three areas I've come up with that hiring professionals should consider when they create a job posting:
1. Don't say "We've always [said] it that way.
"Whether a position has a short life cycle or had the same person in it for the last 25 years, doesn't mean you should use the same content. Just like you're company's marketing needs to be updated, you need to keep your content fresh as well. You don't want to ward off quality candidates with bad or plainly outdated content; make sure you review before posting it. If you have a marketing person or department, have them take a look as well - after all, part of what you're doing is marketing to potential employees!
2. Short with Clarity
The one phrase that has always turned me away in a job description usually says "All other duties assigned". To me, this means a company doesn't have a clear idea of what my job is and I could get stuck with some work that I'm not completely qualified for or, frankly, don't want to do. Don't leave a job description up in the air - it's just like when a marketing piece is vague in its offer. Try to be as clear as possible so that you don't have a disgruntled employee later on.
With clarity also comes getting to the point. While details are good, going on and on can be redundant or annoying. Grab the writer from your marketing department to see if they can't write it in fewer words to say the same thing.
3. Lists - Rule of Three
This has always been my favorite rule when I write (as you can tell by this post). The Rule of Three makes content easier for the reader, and they're more likely to read it all. Wikipedia says using the Rule of Three results in content that is "inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective". Having 10 or more bullet points can be a bit excessive. If you can't say it in three, shoot for no more than six. Make sure you're not just repeating part of another bullet or have content that could be in the same bullet.
So get a little creative, hiring professionals. Job descriptions don't have to be mundane, especially depending on the personality of the company. Make it a team effort if you don't think you've got the creative mojo - after all, that's why you helped hire marketers!
Want help with your company's or organization's marketing? Let's chat!