Want More Reviews? Reconnect with Your Customers in a Meaningful Way

The world is a complex place both in business and our personal lives.  Your clients are bombarded daily by ads, social media, email spam and robocalls.  While only 11% of emails get opened, following-up with a tangible, physical greeting card means it will get opened. Emails, text and social media comments don’t encourage word of mouth referrals. When was the last time your clients (or you for that matter) received a personal card in the mail to celebrate and show gratitude for their business? When it comes from you it can separate you from the pack and boost your bottom line.

Why It Works

  • The easy online system and app we use lets you send personalized greeting cards in the MAIL. With the click of a button, you can choose from thousands of real designer cards or you can completely customize a card with photos, your personal font, signature and custom branding. When you press send, the physical cards will print, be stuffed, stamped and mailed for you.
  • Your real greeting cards are in the font or handwriting you choose, with your customized message and real postage stamp. You can even include a gift!
  • Acquiring new customers can be a full time job. But what about the customers you already have? They represent a goldmine in referrals. By working the relationship with current customers, you’ll not only generate additional business from them, but the referrals you receive will take your business to that next level of profitability.
  • Reputation is everything. Google reviews can make or break your business. Sending a simple greeting card or postcard (mailed for you) is a solid “marketing method” that cannot be emphasized enough.  It can earn the goodwill to get you that review.  If you take the time to send a physical card, they’ll take the time to post a review online!
  • Hands down the single most effective appreciation touch is the “Thank You Card”. Less than 3% of people in business send thank you cards, yet it generates more referral business than any other single touch. People love to receive greeting cards and postcards.  Show you care about the people you do business with: send a tangible touch in the mail and watch your business grow.

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8 Tips to Get You Started with Google Ads (without losing your shirt)

Google’s advertising program is an auction in which advertisers like you bid on specific keywords in order for your ads to appear in Google’s search results. Keywords can trigger your ads to appear next to search results on Google and other search sites across the Internet as well as Google’s partner sites. The auction gets run billions of times each month. This results in searchers finding what they’re looking for, clicking on your ads, and advertisers like you connect with potential customers.
Google makes it easy for anybody to set up an account: they walk you through the steps. But once your credit card has activated the campaigns…you’d better be on your toes! Google will happily take more of your money if your campaign’s quality is below average or if you let AI take over. I hope these tips will help you avoid the pitfalls of Google Ads and keep some money in your pocket along the way.

1. It’s not just about out-bidding competitors, it’s about being relevant.
Google Ads can be a very effective program but your money can be wasted if you bid on the wrong keywords or write weak ads. This will affect your CPC, or cost per click, which is the amount you pay each time someone clicks on your ad. Obviously you want your CPC to be as low as possible. And that’s where Ad Rank and Quality Score come into play.
Ad Rank
Now let’s suppose that multiple advertisers use the same keyword as you to trigger their ads or want their ads to appear on the same websites. Google uses Ad Rank to determine whose ads will appear, and in what order. Your Ad Rank is based on a combination of:
• Your bid, which is how much you’re willing to spend
• The quality of your ads and website
• Expected impact from your ad extensions and other ad formats

So as you can see, it’s not just a matter of bidding higher! You can pay less if you don’t mind having your ad placed in the second or third spot on the page. Feel free to try different bidding strategies to see what works best for you. Google determines what you pay based on the amount of clicks that the company’s advertisement receives. The amount of clicks are determined by the relevance of your ad to what the searcher is looking for. How do you know if you ad is relevant? You look at your Quality Score.

Quality Score
This is a metric Google uses to determine how useful your ad is to the user, based primarily on your ad’s Click Through Rate, keyword relevance, and the quality of your landing page. It is a 1-10 rating scale. The higher your Quality Score, the better. These keywords will save you money and your ad will show up higher on the page and above your competition (ad position).

The bottom line for Google (and you) is this: when the customer searches and finds exactly what he’s looking for through clicking your ad, that’s considered a great user experience, and that’s what can earn you a high Quality Score.

2. You need a great landing page.
When you advertise with Google, you’ll link your online ads to your website. However, you can’t just send your prospects to your home page. Your prospect will be confused by many choices and too little or too much unfocused information. Remember, the ad they click on needs to lead them to the answers they are looking for. That’s why you need a landing page: a page that’s highly focused and designed with the right message at the right time for your potential customer.

What constitutes a great landing page for your ads? Google tells us:

Relevant, useful and original content
• Make sure your landing page is directly relevant to your ad text and keyword.
• Provide useful information on your landing page about whatever you’re advertising.
• Try to offer useful features or content that are unique to your site.

Transparency and trustworthiness
• Make it easy for visitors to find your contact information.
• If you request personal information from customers, make it clear why you’re asking for it and what you’ll do with it.
• Distinguish sponsored links, like ads, from the rest of your site content.
• Openly share information about your business and clearly state what your business does.

Ease of navigation
• Don’t make people hunt around for the information they might need on the advertised product or service.
• Make it quick and easy for people to order the product or service mentioned in your ad.
• Don’t annoy customers with pop-ups or other features that interfere with their navigation on your site.
• Make sure your site pages load quickly.

You can view an estimate of the landing page experience by going into your Keywords tab and placing your cursor over the speech bubble next to the status of any keyword.

Easy right? Show the visitor they have selected the right place to find the product, deal, information or experience they are looking for. What’s the result if you don’t? No sales and you can bet it’s costing you (the advertiser) more money per click than it should be!

3. Your ads need a call to action.
What makes your product or service unique? In Google Ads, you only have a few lines to convince someone to visit your website. How can you stand out from your competition? How can you entice readers to make the click? You need a call to action.
Make use of such phrases as:
• call now, get a quote
• act now, apply now
• buy now, save now
• get it today
• shop now
• Imagine, improve, decide, begin, etc.
Combine your call to action with special offers and include at least one of your keywords. You can add urgency with phrases like, “Before it’s too late”, or “ending soon”.
Don’t be afraid to test out several versions of your call to action. This testing is a basic part of running Ad campaigns.

4. Understand your user’s intent and give them what they want.
Is your potential lead in the buying stage or the research stage? When creating ads, we need to structure them so that they speak to the potential customer’s needs. We can do that by using additional action words with our keywords based on the buying cycle. Here are some examples:
Tire Kickers
This is stage one and your potential customer is performing research. They may not be aware of the solution to their pain and use words like:
• tips, advice, help, cheap, best (your keyword)
Providing this educational information can plant the seed for your lead to come back to you when they are ready to buy. Make sure you follow through with the free information on your landing page, or offer of information by email.
Comparison Shopping
Now your customer knows what they want and may be looking to get the best product or service for the least amount of money. Words to use with your keywords include:
• reviews, compare, find out more, learn (your keyword)
Testimonials, reviews and comparisons may lead them to the next phase and make a purchase.
Purchase Mode
These people are ready to buy. They know what they want and they want it now! Use the following:
• buy, purchase, contact, sign up, call, apply (your keyword), specials, don’t miss out
Then remember to continue the conversation on your landing page that you started with your ad to obtain the sale or phone call. Test these to see which results in more conversions for your business.

5. Make use of negative keywords.
Negative keywords prevent your ad from being triggered and may be one of the most important tactics in your AdWords campaign. Without using negative keywords, you can be sure you are hemorrhaging money and lowering your chance of getting quality leads.
With negative keywords, you can:
• Prevent your ad from showing to people searching for or visiting websites about things you don’t offer.
• Show your ads to people who are more likely to click them.
• Reduce costs by excluding keywords where you might be spending money but not getting a return.

6. Align account structure with your website, use themes not keywords.
By creating well-structured campaigns by theme or product, you’ll get more than just an account that’s easy to manage and keep organized: you’ll also have sets of ads and keywords that are directly related to each other, which helps improve your Quality Score.
Use your website to begin by identifying your key products and/ or services. Don’t create campaigns and ad groups for ALL of your products and services, instead choose 3-5 products or services that are your most profitable or that you want to focus on. You can always add more products and services later.

Think in terms of an umbrella structure when organizing your AdWords campaign. Campaigns should be themed by general products and services (i.e. “Massages”). Ad group should feature more specific product details (i.e. “Swedish Massages” or “Hot Stone Massages”). Do not create just one campaign, with one ad group and one ad for all of your keywords. This is a common mistake that people make when starting a PPC campaign. This will get poor CTRs (Click Through Rates) and not bring you the leads you are looking for.

You don’t have to find all related keywords right now because Google will help you find them as you go along!

Now you can write your ads. Experiment with a few different ad variations to see which ones perform best. Make sure ads have a call to action and takes your visitor to the landing page they want to see!

7. Separate your Display and Search ads. Keep an eye on the Display Network.
You might have noticed while creating your campaigns the option for “Display Network”. What is the difference between the Search and Display networks? Google’s Search Network targets users typing directly into Google’s search engine and they are usually in the purchase mode. In contrast, think of the display network as a more passive form of advertising in the form of banners, images or small boxes promoting a product or service, above and to the side of the articles on a web page. These users are in a different frame of mind and may not be actively shopping but these ads can get you thousands of impressions. However, the Display network has many pitfalls and can quickly drain your bank account if not utilized properly.  Consult an expert if you plan to advertise this way.

8. Use location, device and ad scheduling to get desired results.
Setting the appropriate ad scheduling can take your campaign to the next level.

Where to go from here:
And there you have it. You now understand powerful Google Ads strategies you can use to get more leads, save money and rise above your competition. I hope you’ve found this guide valuable and that you’ll implement the strategies outlined to help your business. Best of luck and remember getting more leads with Ads is really about giving your potential customers a great and relevant user experience.

The Perfect Recipe for Magic: Boldness + Commitment = Success

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Goethe 

Do you ever wonder how it is that some people are able to take an idea and just run with it? How is it that they pull a thousand little things together to make one big idea work?
It all begins with boldness and commitment. Boldness requires that we take some risks. It means that we begin to act on belief, without all the facts. Boldness is the ability to withstand the ridicule or disbelief of others. Having boldness means having courage. And that means that you can step out on a journey, with the belief that you can do something, and know that when you do, things will begin to fall into place.

turned on pendant lamp
Photo by Burak Kebapci on Pexels.com

Commitment is the second part of the equation. Many people can make the decision to be bold and take risks, but not many are able to stick with the decision. With no follow through, there is only musing. Without commitment, an idea will die in your mind.
What was your last idea that you put aside? Was it something that came to you in the small hours of the morning? Did you write it down, think on it, expand on the possibilities, dream of the results and then lose your nerve? Later did you see that someone had the same idea and acted upon it, and the idea grew into a huge business? How often have you lost your nerve, or after stepping out, lost the commitment to make it work?

Did you know that every time that you have an idea the law of probabilities says that 10 other people in North America have the same idea? The person who has the success with the idea is the person who acts upon it first and fastest. This requires boldness and commitment!

So how do you start? As Goethe say, “Begin it”. Take the first step. Write it down and consider all the possibilities. That doesn’t take much time. Then take a walk and let the idea grow. Try to let it run away with you, go ahead and get caught up in the moment.

Let the idea carry you away to a place you have never been. Let it work its magic on you. Could it be successful? You will never know unless you begin it!

Successful business people often try and fail. Do not be afraid of failure. Boldness has greatness in it. Embrace your fear head on. Remind yourself again and again, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Then make the commitment to do everything possible to make your risk pay off. When others see your daring, your boldness and your commitment to follow through their respect and belief in you also grows. And the universe will do its part to ensure your success.

Social Listening Ain’t Just Good Manners: Why Your Business Needs it in 2018 (Facebook changes, etc.)

pexels-photo-561870.jpegIf it doesn’t get shared…does it really exist? In 2018 maybe not.  As a business person, there are a couple of important things happening that you need to know about:

Everything old is new again!

Facebook’s newsfeed is changing. Facebook announced this month that it will show users more stories, photos and videos that their friends have posted, hoping to bring back “meaningful social interactions”. For those of us publishing branded content, the chances of getting it across our targeted market’s newsfeed just decreased. So, what’s the solution? After the Facebook algorithm change, users will need to engage with your content when it comes across their newsfeed to keep it coming up.

Surprise! This is what we were supposed to be doing with our content anyway; make it engaging. Every time your audience interacts with your business on Facebook, it feeds their machine’s equation, telling them, ‘This fan is interested in this content.’ And then Facebook’s AI concludes, ‘I’ll show this user more of what they like.’ However, now more than ever you will likely have to pay for this visibility  through ads.

Then there’s “Content Shock”

The term, coined by Mark Schaefer, means the blog post that you spent hours working on will not get the same number of views as it would have yesterday, even when you pay to promote it. This is the new reality. We have so much content constantly thrown at us that we are all suffering from content overload. How can we get our message through? More is clearly not the answer. But don’t give up – there are some tactics you can use. Three key points to consider:

  • Be prepared to pay for ads on social media to reach even your current audience and potential new customers.
  • Produce content that gets shared. And how do you know what might get shared? By listening to your customers! Just posting content or pushing your message is not effective. Try social listening! Look for trends and themes in your customers’ reviews and social media comments you can craft content that your audience might want. Is there a particular problem they keep mentioning? Are they confused about your service? This kind of social listening will help you refine your content to be truly helpful to your customers.
  • Interact with your followers. Remember – social media is “social”. Specifically, for Facebook, instead of just responding to users’ remarks, actively work to generate conversation within Facebook comment threads, where engagement can truly happen. Create Facebook groups that may be safe from the new algorithm. Reach out and talk to them via video, polls, contests, stories, questions, giveaways.  Let them know you want to hear what they have to say!

Once they are engaged, your customers can be messengers for your business and help promote new buyer trust. These customers advocating for your business through reviews, comments and shares help increase trust in the products and services you provide. Social listening is good for your bottom line…and probably your soul.

Remember, we can help with Google and Facebook advertising. Reach out to us for a free discussion and quote.

Five Things You Can Do (right now) To Increase Your Sales In 2018!

tire-wheel-vintage-antique-53161.jpegAre you in a bit of a rut? Like a car that’s got stuck in a muddy pot hole, your business can sometimes quietly veer off course as we experience distractions, money issues or other administrative tasks that keep us from doing what really makes us money. And let’s face it – we all must sell something to stay in business. Regardless of circumstance, it costs money to keep it going.

It’s easy to get caught up in doing the same things each day. We start our day cleaning up the messes we were unable to address the previous day, and by the time we get these things done (or they don’t get done) we are too busy to think about growing sales or marketing our business! And that my friends, is how we fall into the rut of doing the same old- same old and expecting different results.

The secret is not to try harder…but to try “different”! Take a few moments to look at five different strategies you can implement that can get you out of that rut – and quickly!

  1. Switch it up, bundle it or repackage it.

Are you still flogging the same services and products without at least revising the copy on your website? It’s okay to offer the same services that make you money – but as times changes, how people see your product changes too. New research may offer statistics that show benefits of your product or service differently. Trends may show problems that your product or service now solves. Change how you word things, promote things and consider bundling several products together with a discount. Switch things up a bit so people NOTICE what it is you have to offer – or see it in a different light. Then update this information on your website (you better have one it’s 2018).

  1. Promote your brand on social media and Google My Business

It is simple. Give people the opportunity to ‘see’ and learn about what you have to offer – and to purchase when they are convinced they need it. This is a process of education and trust with your potential clients. Social media provides the opportunity to engage with your prospects. Don’t just push your products and services, educate and ENGAGE them.  Formulate a strategy, based on your business goals, and execute it to entice people to visit your website and read your blog.  You have a blog…don’t you? That’s another post for another day (p.s. it’s easier than you think).

  1. Communicate with your clients

Many small business owners make the fatal mistake of waiting for clients to call them, instead of enticing them to purchase. The best way to communicate is in person or on the phone. In 2018, communication will be key. Messaging and texting for business is growing and you can start there but it should lead to a phone conversation.  Stay in contact with previous client, potential clients and interested people – educating them about new trends and services. When was the last time you asked your clients what they needed, what they liked or what else they bought? An electronic survey can do just that! Keep them in the loop so they are reminded of the benefits you bring to their life…including service they can trust. And while you are at it – ask for a Google review and send them an easy link to do it. Reviews count more than ever in 2018!

  1. Give something away

Yes! And why not? Giving away a sample product or service reduces your clients risk. If you spend less time trying to convince them you have great value and instead SHOW them – your sales window widens and your time invested actually shrinks. Let them experience what you have to offer and decide before they buy if it is of value or not!

  1. Revisit your web site

If you clients can’t find you, you don’t exist. Have you checked your ranking on Google lately? Have you updated your website with fresh content including video or photos? Maybe you aren’t researching the search phrases your potential customers are using to find businesses like yours. Is your site mobile friendly? Is it secure? Statistics matter and numbers don’t lie.  If your car is out of gas, it’s not going anywhere. Your website is your car and Google the engine. Take time to audit your site and make changes necessary to get in front of your audience.

Each of these ideas in and of themselves are pretty easy to implement. But the result of implementing even one can rejuvenate your business – give you energy and ideas and boost your confidence as a business owner! Don’t stay stuck in that rut, or spin your tires in the mud. Use this “business tow truck” and try one of these strategies today.

 

The Principle Of Telescopic Vision

BarAtCenterMilkyWayAs 2018 approaches, many of us in business are starting to look ahead. I’d like to share with you an article written by the former president of Roaring Women Ltd. (retired) and recipient of Calgary Business Woman of the Year (2010).  She is a former police officer, business coach and motivational speaker with whom I had the honor of partnering in many business adventures. With her permission, please enjoy!

As a cadet at police college I learned how to drive differently than I had been trained as a civilian. On the cars we trained in, we had a shallow wok bolted to the very front of the hood on the car. In it was placed a tennis ball. Wherever we drove, at whatever speed we traveled we had to ensure that the tennis ball remained in the wok. It was very difficult to look past the wok to where we needed to go.

Our vision often became focused on the tennis ball, trying to ensure it did not come out of the wok. In addition to that we concentrated on driving very smoothly. However with our focus on the tennis ball- we found it hard to see the bumps or navigate the turns properly. And so we learned that we must look farther down the road – keeping the tennis ball in our peripheral vision.

Our instructors constantly drilled into our heads that we must look where we want to go. In a demonstration I will never forget, we had to speed along a roadway, never letting up on our speed. At an undetermined point a cardboard figure would jump out at us. We had to swerve around the figure and several pylons that marked the roadway. On the first attempt, many of us were unable to keep the car between the pylons. But with practice we learned to look where we wanted to go. Almost magically, we were able to maneuver the car through the pylons and miss the figure. If we concentrated on aiming where we wanted to go- keeping the decoys in our peripheral vision, it became easy.

Later in my career this lesson proved to be invaluable. Many car crash drivers told me all they could see was the pole they did not want to hit – and well you guessed it – that is exactly what they hit. What they failed to do was look for the open spaces. They saw the pole or fence or whatever it is they did not want to hit, and concentrated on that. Their actions caused them subconsciously to guide the car to where they were concentrating on, or looking at. They caused the car to go where they were looking.

Many years later I found myself instructing skiing. In a sport where gravity can be your friend or your enemy, your vision is very important. Again I learned that you must choose your path long before you get there. You must look far enough ahead that you can pick and place each turn. This makes skiing much more enjoyable. In fact it is important to actually ski the course in you mind before you even start your descent.

The principle of looking where we want to go and having telescopic vision is one that we need to use in all of our lives – and especially in business. It is not enough to just think ahead. We must look where we want to go.

We must begin to think strategically, anticipating what is around the next corner or over the next horizon. Although paying attention to detail is important, if we concentrate on the details, we cannot take advantage of the open spaces, or opportunities. We can spend our lives trying to be sure that the tennis ball remains in the wok, but in doing so, may end up traveling on the roughest of roads and making decisions that may just solve an immediate circumstance but not the long term problem.

Life requires that we have telescopic vision. We cannot look at what is right in front of us, but must look long past that point. Our peripheral vision will pick up what is closest to us. Looking as far ahead as the eye can see- and anticipating the possibilities will ensure that we have many opportunities, and that we will go where we really want to go, not where we fear we will end up.

Everyone can develop telescopic vision- but it takes practice. First you must decide that nothing is impossible. And then you must begin to understand that there is a destination that each of us must reach in our lifetime. Start searching the horizon- and look where you want to go.

Are You Turning Customers On or Off? 10 Tips for Social Media Marketing

genesocialAccording to globalwebindex.net daily time spent on social networks is now over 2 hours! As people spend more time on social media, viewing more content than ever, you might be tempted to think it’s impossible to compete and not worth getting involved.  You couldn’t be more mistaken! If you’re staying away because you don’t have time or don’t know what to post, you may be handing your customers over to your competition. Worse, posting something in the spur of the moment could be harming your reputation.

Creating a targeted social media strategy around your business goals will help you connect with new and existing customers. Posting without a strategy, just to simply appear like an active business, can hurt you. Without a strategy and means to track it, how do you know that the content you post is contributing to your business in a positive way? What if it’s actually turning your followers and potential customers off?

Reputations can be made or destroyed on social networks. Take one look at the news on Twitter these days! It is important not to post haphazardly and to have a well thought out strategy that aligns with your goals.

Where to begin?

  1. Create strategic, company-aligned goals. Which products or service bring you the most revenue? Where do you need more engagement? Use S.M.A.R.T. goals.
  2. Find out where your clients are: which channels – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest? You don’t need to use them all; it’s better to be excellent at one, rather than be weak on many.
  3. Create content and a calendar around your company events or promotions.
  4. Pay attention to your keywords and search strings so that your content remains optimized and relevant.
  5. Make sure you are not being pushy: you should only post promotional material about 10% -20% of the time. Remember you are trying to start conversations – you need to be listening.
  6. Use video! Live video is still exciting to users. Any video ads should include sub-titles for your followers who multi-task.
  7. Be prepared to respond in a timely manner to social media posts from your followers.
  8. Measure everything: what works…what was ignored? Did someone comment in a negative manner? Did shares or web traffic visits increase? Measuring results will drive adjustments to your social media activity that leads to better results.
  9. Use paid content. Unfortunately, using paid content will be more necessary in the future. All the social networks’ algorithms are changing, and the chances that your audience will see your free content grows slimmer.
  10. Use chatbots and give your customer service a boost. Chances are you are doing it already on your Facebook business page. Chatbots are a type of AI that can interact with customers via social messaging apps like Facebook Messenger

Use these tips to plan and execute your social media strategy and you’ll find it helps your bottom line.