Branding! It Isn't Just for Cattle Anymore.
March 10, 2011 10:00 AM | Tagged as brand image, small business branding, small business marketing
There are more than 29.6 million small businesses in the United States (as of Sept. 2009 according to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office) and in order to have a competitive advantage in that crowd, it is imperative that you have a well-designed and managed brand.
Your brand, or company’s image, serves many purposes. For starters, it is a visual representation of the promise you give to your clients to consistently deliver a specific set of features, benefits, and services. It also gives you the opportunity to attract and retain loyal customers and makes it easier to introduce new products or services. It should convince your prospects that your company is the only one that provides a solution to their problem.
Here are few simple tips to make sure your brand is concise and effective:
Your business has value and you can convey that message simply by making sure you have a well implemented brand that is used consistently.
Posted in Business Tips, first impressions, small business marketing | 0 Replies
3 Steps to Better Business Communication
February 24, 2011 10:00 AM | Tagged as business communication, business tips
I'm fascinated with "communication” and ways to improve it. Not because I'm good at it, but because I know I could be much better at it. Most of us can. But I have noticed that whether I succeed or fail with an business interaction, I can often trace the outcome back to the fact that I either nailed it—effective communication—or I didn't. A few unlikely areas of focus for improved communication are:
Being Courteous – start a trend!
You know those people who you really enjoy talking with? The ones who brighten your day after just a few moments of conversation? How do they do it?
So, just try a few of these tips this next few weeks and notice the difference it makes in your communication efforts and the relationships (business and personal) around you.
Posted in communication, customer service | 0 Replies
Hire Happy People
February 17, 2011 12:30 PM | Tagged as customer service, Small Business Tips
Hopefully you are already encouraging your staff to smile and be welcoming to your customers, and that is definitely a good idea, but a new study shows that most of us know the difference in a sincere smile and a social smile. So, it might be easier to just hire happy people in the first place. There is a book by Dan Hill, an expert in facial coding, called About Face whose book sites studies that show that when we smile because it is the expected social behavior it is a different smile from one that isn’t actually joyful. While the book is actually about advertising, there is a lot to be learned about the tie between our primal responses and the overall feeling we come away with (in marketing or customer service).
Our brains are capable of telling the difference, and feeling joy is a pretty hard thing to fake. Our brains know the difference. In a social smile we use fewer muscles (primarily facial muscles) than when we engage a real smile. In another test, restaurant patrons who felt that servers displayed true smiles were far more satisfied with the service they received. Evidently, our brains recognize sincerity.
Few of us would argue with any of this since most of us know it intuitively. As a child, I can still remember the stern line of my mother’s mouth when I was in trouble, but I learned quickly that there was often a smile that reached her eyes and betrayed her—a dead give-away that I wasn’t really in that much trouble after all and the spanking was not forthcoming.
We, as humans, are primarily emotional decision-makers. That means our emotions will have an impact on what impressions we form about any given experience. First meetings of your publics—with your front office, your staff, and you—will be influenced by their emotional interpretations.
So, the moral of the story? Be aware that if during the hiring process your candidate doesn’t demonstrate positive, sincere emotions it isn’t likely they will do so during a customer service situation either. It is certainly something to consider when it comes to staffing those publically visible roles. Consider including an evaluation of the emotions candidates project during interview in an effort to hire happy people. And, take it from a savvy kid, look for those smiling eyes!
Posted in Business Tips, customer service, first impressions | 0 Replies
Business Emails: yes, there are rules to follow.
January 27, 2011 1:00 PM | Tagged as business communication, small business phone etiquette, Small Business Tips
For those of us who have been in business for any length of time, and especially those whose experience predates the advent of email to communicate, we understood the basic rules of written communication. But as everything moved online some of the basics seem to have gotten lost in cyberspace.
Now, as e-mail is the primary form of business communication, it is as critical as ever that we maintain standards that help us be clear and professional. Often our e-mail is our first introduction to others we do business with and so it is critical that this impression be the one we intend it to be. Here are some reminders of the basics:
1) Subject lines – a summary of your e-mail
2) Grammar and Spelling – yes, it most definitely matters!
3) Keep It Short
4) Nothing is Private—write accordingly
5) Go Easy on "Reply To All"
6) Establish Good E-mail Etiquette
Because many good marketing campaigns have an element of e-mail incorporated in them, you need to value this medium and your attitude about how you present you company when using it. Be professional (that doesn’t mean you have to be stuffy however, the tone of your e-mails can be friendly, fun, and even quirky if they follow the rules of good written communication). But sloppy, error-prone writing will always work against your credibility, and even your sales, so raise the bar for you and anyone in your company who is responding to e-mails. It will pay off in the long run!
Posted in Business Tips, Phone Etiquette, small business marketing | 0 Replies
Ride the Social Media wave to grow your business
January 13, 2011 10:25 AM | Tagged as small business marketing, Small Business Tips, Social Media
Okay, I admit it. I drank the Kool-Aid. We joined the blogging ranks and now offer this functionality to all our business clients as well. Yes, I was hard to convince because I simply didn’t feel business owners had the time. I was also skeptical and thought it was probably a passing fad—like Betamax—and by the time I got our clients on board I’d need to switch to VHS (boy, I guess that analogy was a dead give-away of my age, huh?).
But, I think I finally get it and I’ll explain why. From a business and marketing perspective creating and maintaining a blog serves valuable purposes including:
But, since most of our clients are executives and small business owners, I just wasn’t sure it was something they would, or should, participate in. But, I’ve changed my opinion and maybe you should consider the strategy to enhance your public relations and expand your marketing as well.
As your business' Chief Executive, your primary role is being the advocate for your business and your services or products. There are plenty of sources who are glad to take the opposing role and so it is imperative that you take advantage of every avenue possible to get your message out about topics critical to your industry and to your targeted customers. A blog can be a great resource to do that. However, don’t fool yourself into thinking it is something you should begin lightly as it is a big commitment—and it takes time. But, if you aren’t afraid to be honest and transparent, don’t mind letting your customers get a sense of who you are, what is important in your industry—it is a great way for them to get to know you and to trust you. Once they trust you, they will support your business—that is when your advocacy will pay off!
You also need to be patient because most successful blogs take time to get that way—few are overnight successes, so plan to hang in there for the long haul. Oh, and be sure to use your blog as a forum to leverage other sources of social media. You can link your blog to your fan page of Facebook as well as to Twitter. Your blog will trigger updates to the others at the same time (saving you time and further expanding the distribution of your information).
For an excellent resource to getting started, check out these possibilities:
Speak Human: Outmarket the Big Guys by Getting Personal by Eric Karjaluoto
Blogging to Drive Business: Create and Maintain Valuable Customer Connections by Eric Butow and Rebecca Bollwitt
Posted in Business Tips, small business marketing, social media | 1 Reply
Wednesday, February 2, 2011 4:30 PM
These are great topics and very timely. Thanks for the reminders and good tips!
March 10, 2011 10:00 AM Branding! It Isn't Just for Cattle Anymore.
February 24, 2011 10:00 AM 3 Steps to Better Business Communication
February 17, 2011 12:30 PM Hire Happy People
January 27, 2011 1:00 PM Business Emails: yes, there are rules to follow.
January 13, 2011 10:25 AM Ride the Social Media wave to grow your business