Posted by: stephenfetters | November 20, 2015

Need to Write Engaging Content? Here’s 12 Tips

So, you’re a small business owner.  And, you’ve got a blog (or an E newsletter).  Congratulations. 

Then you wake up and realize you have just added content writer to your job description.  How are you going to add fresh content in every post? 

Here’s a post with 12 tips to get you started. 

12 Tips For Writing Engaging Content For Readers

Are you not getting any readership?

Why?

Because your content is not engaging!

In this post I’ll tell you 12 Tips For Writing Engaging Content For Readers. So read from top to toe! 😉

12 Tips For Writing Engaging Content For Readers

After reading your posts, your audience should feel like hanging around to ask questions, agree, disagree and see what else you’ve got to say. After all, we’re talking potential long term relationships here. Try these 12 Tips For Writing Engaging Content For Readers and you’re halfway towards bagging that customer.

Tips For Writing Engaging Content For Readers!

1. Pose Engaging Questions

At the end of a post, pose a brain-stimulating question. Make them ponder, make them wonder and churn those grey cells to figure out what you want. The idea is to put your site and business fully into your reader’s head so that they come back for more. One of the best ways to achieve this is by stimulating their thought process.

2. Put Out An Ethical Conundrum

Do you feel celebrities are doing good by adopting children from poor African countries? Should those children be taken away from their families just because they can have a better quality of life in the US? That’s an ethical conundrum right there. Put something like that out there in your post and motivate your readers to comment and argue amongst themselves.

3. Get Them To Offer Tips To Solve Something

It could be a problem that you’re facing, or something your customer is facing. It doesn’t matter. Write a post about it and open the door to your readers to contribute 5 unique tips each to combat the issue. In fact, make it a contest; publicly credit the reader with the best tips on your blog so that everyone can see.

4. Open The Door To Sharing

Share a personal problem you’ve experienced in a post and explain how you handled it. Then ask your readers to share how they would handle a similar situation. If you can get them to submit their thoughts in about 400 words or so, that’s a blog post you can use. With just one move, you manage to engage your readers plus get blog posts out of it.

Read : Top 10 Best Social Sharing Plugins For WordPress

5. Share Half A Story And Ask For Projected Outcomes

This is a spin-off from the old college game of spin the tale. Write a post detailing a problematic business or personal situation without detailing the final outcome. Ask your readers to contribute ideas for possible outcomes.  You can suggest some ideas from your side to motivate them along.

6. Start With An Engaging Opener

Your post opening should engage the reader from the word go. Remember, your readers can get all kinds of facts online. They don’t want another fact-spewing post. They want something that’ll ignite their curiosity, motivate their thought process and get them engaged. Make your opener funny, insightful, poky, witty and outrageous if need be.

 7. Make The Content Graphically Vivid

Paint a picture with your words, and draw people into the scene you’re painting. You don’t need to have Pulitzer-worthy authoring skills to do this. Just write in your speaking voice, as though you’re chatting up to your mates at the bar. Throw some adjectives and invectives in (watch out – no profanity!). Throw in some cultural flavor that reflects your background.

Read :  Short Length Post Vs Length Posts – What’s Best?

8. Use The Active Voice

Long, droning passive voice sentences are okay for legal docs and long procedural guides. When it comes to your blog post, keep the voice active. Your reader must be able to relate to the information you’re presenting in a live sense. The purpose will be totally defeated if your blog reads like old prose.

9. Use The First And Second Grammatical Person

It’s your blog; you’re talking to your readers – what’s with the third person? No more ‘they’ and ‘them’ and stuff. Write directly to your audience using first and second person only. This makes your reader feel closer to you and creates a virtual bond of familiarity.

10. Be Direct

Use active verbs instead of inactive verbs to deliver a direct, immediate and energetic impact. Instead of, “I was thinking how to address your issue”, write, “I am thinking about how to address your issue”. The difference is the directness of the tone and also the direct action mode.

11. Play With Words

There are many ways of writing what you want to say and it’s in your hands. For example, instead of saying, “I cannot put up with their holier than thou attitude anymore”, say “If I put up with their holier-than-thou attitude anymore, I’ll just call me a cow and be done with it”. I am sure you can come up with something funnier and more engaging.

12. Provide A Conclusion

Let’s face it; no one has tons of time to read every line of every post. Encapsulate the essence of your article in a short conclusion to help out these busy people. Your conclusion should ideally tie up your points together and provide a short glimpse of what the article is all about.

Read : 4 Reasons Your Blog Will Never Grow!

Over To you!

Posted by: stephenfetters | November 17, 2015

29 Reasons Email Should Be Your Top Marketing Tool

The biggest challenge we face as Small Business Owners is attracting new clients and customers.  How can we do this without breaking the bank?  

The surprising, simple answer is email.  

Done the right way, email can be a high touch way to build a list of people who are interested in you and your business. 

Here is a post listing 29 excellent reasons you should be using email as your top marketing tool. 

29 Reasons to Use Email Marketing (As Told by Small Business Owners)

 

 

16

 

137

 

0

Deciding where to invest your marketing dollars isn’t a decision you take lightly.

You know you need to attract new customers and keep your existing clients coming back, but you can’t afford to invest time or resources into something that isn’t going to deliver the results you expect.

Email marketing is a cost-effective solution that gives you the power to reach customers in a place most people visit every day — their inbox.

There’s plenty of data to back up the benefits of email marketing. For example:

  • 91 percent of US adults like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with (MarketingSherpa, 2015)
  • Email is almost 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in helping your business acquire new customers. (McKinsey, 2014)

But if you really want to find out how email can work for your business, why not ask other small business owners and see how it worked for them?

We’re constantly on the lookout for the exciting and innovative ways our customers are using email marketing to build customer relationships and do more business.

Here are 29 of our favorite examples of how small businesses and organizations have benefited from email marketing:

1. Build credibility

People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Email gives you the ability to build credibility with your audience by sharing helpful and informative content.

“For years, in large part to the newsletter I think, I’ve never had trouble attracting new clients and the right kinds of clients. People will read my newsletter and be able to tell if I’m the right person for the project before they even call me.”

Tom Ahern, founder of Ahern Donor Communications

Constant Contact customer since 2006

Learn more: How to Create a Newsletter that Builds Credibility and Shows Off Your Expertise

2. Generate calls

When done right, email marketing lets you reach the right person, with the right offer, at the right time. For a business like Rejuvenate Therapeutic Massage, a well-timed email results in a flood of calls each time they hit send.

“Email is our prime mode of communication. We rely really heavily on it because whenever I send something out, I’ll get a flood of telephone calls.”

Victor Terrazas, owner of Rejuvenate Therapeutic Massage

Constant Contact customer since 2013

Learn more: How One Wellness Center Uses Constant Contact and MINDBODY to Connect with Clients and Drive Business

3. Increase donations

As fundraising efforts continue to move online, nonprofits need to adapt their outreach efforts as well. Texas-based nonprofit, Rescued Pets Movement, saw the benefit of using email to increase donations when they sent an email to raise emergency funds for a dog in need in March 2013.

“We sent a plea out to our database, explaining the situation and asking for help. Our audience knows that we only send these types of emails when we really need to, which is why these always get the most clicks and shares. The response was amazing; we raised over $10,000 from individual donors and were able to get her the help she needed.”

Laura Carlock, founder of Rescued Pets Movement

Constant Contact customer since 2013

Learn more: 4 Steps to Creating an Email Strategy that Drives Action

4. Strengthen relationships

If you want to build strong customer relationships, it’s important to have an effective tool to communicate with the people who matter most to your business. Email gives you the ability to stay top-of-mind and keep people engaged with your business during your busy season and the slower times of the year.

“Being able to get our message out there is important to us. It gives the members a feeling of being included. They know what’s going on with the gym and know that they aren’t just a number on a list.”

Nicole Sanders, founder of Ladimax Sports and Fitness

Constant Contact customer since 2014

Learn more: How to Choose the Perfect Email Template

5. Improve communication

If your business depends on having a reliable way to communicate with your members and clients, you need to have a communication channel you can trust. For real estate management company, Buccini/Pollin Group, email has provided a reliable solution to keep tenants informed and up-to-date.

“We’ve had people say that they’ve really noticed that there’s more communication going on. It can be something small – maybe the garage doors aren’t going up or down – we try to send out an email right away letting our residents know that’s happening, and sometimes get an email right back saying thank you and that they appreciate it.”

Julia Mason, residential marketing manager for Buccini/Pollin Group

Constant Contact customer since 2014

Learn more: How a Business Transformed Its Marketing to Meet the Needs of Its Customers

6. Build your brand

With email, you can strengthen brand recognition with new and potential clients, and extend your reach when people forward or share your message with a friend.

“The emails are an important reinforcement of brand. I get calls from people I’ve never met all the time. They get the newsletter, or a friend of theirs gets the newsletter, and they know I’m the person to call. It really helps establish credibility upfront.”

Brandon Stewart, realtor at David Griffin & Company Realtors

Constant Contact customer since 2009

Learn more: How to Turn Your Email Newsletters into Prime Real Estate

7. Boost sales

When you have an audience of people who are interested in receiving updates from your business, you’ll be able to think differently about how you boost sales throughout the year. This has been especially valuable for a business like Colorado-based Allegria Spa, which communicates with local residents and visitors from around the country.

“It has definitely been the easiest way to reach people. If we have a slower day and know that we want to reach local people, we can create a quick email and will get at least a few calls right away. The response is immediate.”

Christine Copertino, spa director for Allegria Spa

Constant Contact customer since 2011

Learn more: From Snail Mail to Email: How One Spa Made the Switch to Digital and Saw Great Results

8. Learn what works

Email marketing gives you the metrics you need to see how your emails are performing. These insights help you market smarter, and also give you the advantage of better understanding the needs and interests of your customer base.

“Email has definitely helped us with web traffic and attendance at our events. I like that after I send an email out, I can go back and see how many people clicked through on which links. That way I can tell people are interacting with our content and click through to our website.”

Ally Whittaker, public relations manager for The Local Good

Constant Contact customer since 2009

Learn more: 5 Steps to Grow an Email Audience that Looks Forward to Hearing from You

9. Get started quickly

With email marketing software like Constant Contact, you’ll have the tools and training you need to get started quickly — regardless of your level of marketing experience or expertise. When you do get stuck, we have a team of people who are dedicated to your success. Just pick up the phone and give us a call.

“When we first started, I really wasn’t sure how it would work for us. I’m not a professional marketer, and thought I would need a lot of training. But I decided to give it a try and was able to teach myself everything I needed to know.”

Anca Bala, gallery and event coordinator for Gallery Above Penn Square

Constant Contact customer since 2014

Learn more: How to Promote Your Organization Like an Expert (Even if You’re Just Getting Started)

10. Reach people on any device

With nearly two-thirds of all emails being opened on a mobile device, email marketing is one of the best tools you can use to take advantage of the growing popularity of mobile technology.

“We are definitely focused on mobile devices now. I want to know that if someone gets our email, no matter where they are, they can look at it. In fact, when I sent our last flyer I got three phone calls! That’s big! And I am almost positive that all of those people were on their phones, not in an office.”

Carol Singer, owner of Arlington Promotional Products

Constant Contact customer since 2009

Learn more: Making the Switch to Mobile: 3 Small Business Success Stories

11. Get more from doing less

One of the benefits of using an email marketing provider is that you have access to professionally-designed email templates. These templates are designed to make it quick and easy to get your message out to your audience, and ensure you look professional when it lands in the inbox.

 “Email marketing is great, because it doesn’t have to take a lot of effort to have a big effect.”

Terri Jasen, national program director, Pajama Program

Learn more: How a Nonprofit Raises $1,000 per Email

12. Look professional

Email templates aren’t just easy to use; they’re also designed to make sure you look professional when you reach your audience member’s inbox. You can insert your own content and customize each template with your logo and colors to make sure it matches your brand.

“We get really good feedback from the newsletters and the new templates have been working great for us, we’re getting a lot of opens.” 

Todd Starnes, president, Bicycle Adventures

Learn more: 10 Small Businesses & Nonprofits with Great-Looking Email Templates that Drive Action

13. Increase website traffic

Whether you’re an e-commerce business that sells products online, or a retail store that wants to increase traffic to your website so that you can bring more people into your store — email marketing can help.

“Email definitely works. We see people clicking through to our website and we have people coming into the shop telling us that they saw our newsletter.”

Dawn Noble, owner, La Provence

Constant Contact customer since 2011

Learn more: 10 Ways You Can Use Images to Bring Your Emails to Life

14. Market with a personal touch

Unlike other marketing channels that often limit your ability to customize your message for the different audiences you communicate with, email marketing gives you the ability to organize your audience into lists and communicate with people based on interest, purchase behavior, location, and more.

This has proven especially useful for someone like Courtney Hendricson, who manages the communication between the local government and business community of Enfield, Connecticut.

“I do the best I can to put all my contacts in separate lists so I can email just the development community, or just businesses, or elected officials, depending on what kind of event announcement or email I’m sending.”

Courtney Hendricson, assistant town manager, Town of Enflield, Connecticut

Constant Contact customer since 2013

Learn more: 4 Tips for Using Email and Events to Strengthen Your Community

15. Get immediate results

When you run a small business, every sale, order, or appointment can have a significant impact. With email, you’re able to get the results you’re looking for right away and easily track how your different campaigns are performing.

“It’s rewarding because we always get an immediate response through orders. Whenever we need to trigger sales, we’ll think of a great special to put out there.”

Karen Kowal, founder, Mother Earth Pillows

Constant Contact customer since 2010

Learn more: A Pain-Free Approach for Reaching the Right People with Email

16. Generate leads

Not everyone who joins your email list will be ready to make a purchase or sign up for a service. Email gives you the opportunity to capture new visitor’s attention and nurture the relationship with helpful and informative content.

“It’s been great for generating leads. People that are thinking about using our service will usually sign up for the newsletter. I’ll see them pop up for a couple of weeks in my reader-base, and then they’ll call and make an appointment. It’s not long until we pull them in as a customer.”

Meghan Blair-Valero, owner, Fogged in Bookkeeping, Inc.

Constant Contact customer since 2011

Learn more: [Q&A] How to Create an All Star Newsletter for Your Small Business

17. Build excitement

You want your marketing message to be something that people look forward to seeing. Email lets you keep track of which messages are generating the most opens and clicks, so you know which messages will get people excited to hear from your business.

“It’s always nice to hear someone tell us how much they enjoyed reading our newsletter and thanking us for reminding them to come visit the store or give us a call. The personal touch really makes the difference.”

Sue Bedell, owner, Second Bloom Design

Constant Contact customer since 2010

Learn more: 3 Steps to Building Better Relationships with Email and Social Media

18. Start a conversation

Email marketing lets you start a two-way conversation that will benefit you and your readers. Don’t just push your message out to them; encourage them to share their feedback and ideas. This approach has worked well for a company like WH Cornerstone Investments, which relies on email to share helpful advice, news, and education with clients.

“After each email, I get three to five calls. Some people see my email and get reminded they want a consultation, others will just want to talk about a news article.”

Paula Harris, co-owner, WH Cornerstone Investments

Constant Contact customer since 2003

Learn more: How to Build a Content-Rich Email

19. Promote services

Service businesses face the difficult challenge of keeping clients interested in their business, even when they aren’t looking for services at different times of the year. Email gives you the opportunity to keep your client’s attention without overwhelming them with unwanted information.

“Our email marketing started off as an experiment. But our open rates are usually higher than 50 percent and we get service calls every time we send a newsletter out, so I think it’s working.”

Matthew Taylor, co-owner, Green Solutions Lawn Care & Pest Control

Constant Contact customer since 2011

Learn more: 5 Ways to Market Your Now-And-Again Service with Email Content

20. Grow your audience

As a small business, it’s not always easy to stand out in a crowded market. Email marketing allows you to build an audience that is interested in hearing from you, without having to pay for other advertising channels.

“Five years ago, we started with about zero contacts, but we have a great database now – we have 7,000 email addresses. That means I can push out a social event or a holiday and let 7,000 people know instead of advertising  it for $500 in a newspaper.”

Grant Galuppi, owner, Galuppi’s Restaurant

Constant Contact customer since 2010

Learn more: [Q&A] 4 Restaurants Share Their Email Marketing Secrets

21. Stay organized

Reaching out to clients on an individual basis can be a costly and time consuming process. Email helps you save time by reaching out to your wider audience, while still delivering a message that’s personal and relevant to them.

“Before Constant Contact, we were manually keeping track of everyone we had reached out to — it was crazy, the amount of time it took. Now, I can send out an email to about 300 people in less than five minutes.”

Ruth Weening, catering manager, Basil Tree Catering

Constant Contact customer since 2008

Learn more: Help, My Contacts Aren’t Opening My Emails!

22. Increase your value

When you adopt a communication strategy that fits your audience’s needs, you’ll have more people paying attention to your message and get a higher return overall.

For a business like Cotton Clouds, making the switch from print to email newsletters doubled the amount of sales they were able to generate each time they reached out to clients.

“Every time I send out an email, I get a sale in 15 minutes. Overall, I get up to four times as many sales with these newsletters than I did with my old ones, and they’ve gone from about $50 per order to $100.”

Irene Schmoller, founder Cotton Clouds

Constant Contact customer since 2010

Learn more: 5 Email Strategies for Quadrupling Sales

23. Attract new clients

In addition to connecting with the people on your email list, you can also share your newsletters and announcements on your own social networks to bring new people to your business.

“People get to see my work, which is great, and these are often people who I never get to meet with one-on-one. The timing of each newsletter is going to be right for somebody, and having the opportunity to show people what I’m doing has just been a great way to grow my business and my reach.”

Jill Singer, owner Jill Singer Graphics

Constant Contact customer since 2011

Learn more: Email Marketing: The New Networking for Entrepreneurs

24. Save time

Once you learn the basics, you’ll be able to put together a plan to get your emails out to your audience in less time.

“The biggest benefit of email marketing, from a staff perspective, is efficiency. I have a template made so it’s easy to pull together an email quickly. I think the rest of my staff thinks it takes me a lot longer to create an email than it actually does!”

Kayla Peck, FAO Schwarz foundation fellow at Strong Women, Strong Girls

Constant Contact customer since 2005

Learn more: How to Make a Big Ask Even if You’re a Small Nonprofit

25. You’re not alone

If you’ve tried other marketing activities, it can sometimes feel like you’re completely on your own. Here at Constant Contact,we believe you shouldn’t have to do it alone. You’ll have the support you need to get things done, and tools and training to become an expert marketer.

“I recently had some white space in a newsletter I couldn’t get rid of. So I called customer support and they explained the image needed to be resized and the issue was cleared up immediately. A great thing about Constant Contact is if you’re having a problem, you can just pick up the phone and someone will solve your problem in a matter of minutes.”

Dan Plouffe, co-founder, MyCollingwood.com

Constant Contact customer since 2012

Learn more: How One Small Business Became the Talk of Their Town with Email and Social Media

26. Stay top-of-mind

By sharing relevant content with your audience throughout the year, you’ll be able to stay top-of-mind and build credibility. While they may not be ready to act right away, when your audience knows you have something that can help them solve a problem they’ll be more likely to take action when the time is right.

“Almost all of our donations, around 95%, come through our email newsletters. Using email marketing to maintain relationships and build personal connections has been a key to our success. And the biggest part of that has been staying in touch and top of mind throughout the year.”

Julie Taulman, executive director, Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports (STARS)

Constant Contact customer since 2009

Learn more: 4 Nonprofits Share Their Email Marketing Stories

27. Improve visibility

As much as you’d like to think customers know about all of the different products and services you have to offer, there’s a good chance that many of them don’t. This was a problem the McDonald Wildlife Photography faced when they first got started with email marketing for their travel business.

Taking a more pro-active approach to their marketing proved to be exactly what they needed to improve exposure of the services they offer.

“Our problem in the past would be when people were not aware of all the trips we had available. Up until we started using Constant Contact we just had everything on our website. From a marketing sense, that’s the wrong approach because it puts the burden on our customers.”

Joe McDonald, co-founder, McDonald Wildlife Photography

Constant Contact customer since 2011

Learn more: All Star Conversations: 4 of Our Favorite Stories from this Year’s All Star Awards

28. Book more classes

Whether you need to get the word out about a class weeks in advance or want to make up for some last-minute cancellations, email marketing can help you get the word out about all of your activities in a way that’s convenient for you.

This is especially important for a yoga studio like extendYoga, which hosts a full schedule of classes every day.

“We make it easy for our customers to book classes right online through our emails. Once an email goes out, we see the sign-ups come in shortly after.”

Arlet Koseian, founder of extendYoga

Constant Contact customer since 2011

Learn more: Don’t Let These 4 Email Marketing Fears Hold Your Business Back

29. Maintain vendor relationships

You’re probably already investing time and resources into marketing to potential customers. But are you also thinking carefully about how you build relationships with vendors and partnering businesses? Email gives you the ability to maintain communication with all of your different audiences so that you can build the relationships you need to be successful.

“If you don’t have a plan for reaching out to vendors on a regular basis, it’s easy to let some people fall through the cracks. You want to make sure you’re maintaining relationships with both your core vendors and any of the smaller ones you may be working with.”

Lee Klacher, founder of Octane Press

Constant Contact customer since 2011

Learn more: How to Build Vendor Relationships and Increase Sales with Email Marketing

Start your success story

As you can tell, we love to hear the stories of businesses that have used email marketing to grow their business. If you’re already using email marketing and have seen great results, we’d love to hear your story in the comments below!

If you’re not using email marketing, and are interested in seeing how it could work for your small business, you can try it for free. Start your free 60-day trial of Constant Contact today!

Want to learn more? Download our guide, Get Started with Email Marketing: 10 Ideas that Really Work

Is email marketing right for you?

See why smart small businesses use email marketing to drive more business. We’ll show you exactly what it can do for you, and ten tips to get started.

Get your Guide!

By entering your information, you permit us to reach out to you in the 

Posted by: stephenfetters | November 13, 2015

Want to Tell Your Story? Here’s 5 Great Tips

The first basic truth of marketing is people buy from people they know and trust.  People want to hear your story so they can know you better.  

Many of us find telling our story is hard.  It doesn’t have to be.  

Here is an excellent post  giving you 5 great tips on telling your story 

5 TIPS FOR SELLING MORE OF YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE USING STORIES

BY: DAVE DEE ON: JULY 8TH, 2014 1 COMMENT


“If you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it.”

So says Peter Guber.

Guber is Founder and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, a business dynamo that spans movies, TV, sports entertainment and digital media.

And I agree!

Guber’s hit films include Batman, Soul Surfer, and Rain Man. He also owns the NBA Golden State Warriors franchise and is co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also appears on TV as the weekly entertainment and media analyst for Fox Business News, to name but a few of his accomplishments.

How does one person accomplish so much? Peter Guber says he has long relied on purposeful storytelling to motivate, win over, shape, engage, and sell.

He also says that what started as a knack for telling stories in the entertainment industry spilled over and evolved into a set of principles to achieve other goals.

This isn’t the first you’ve heard of the importance of storytelling. Dan Kennedy has long championed the idea that “stories sell.” They can help you capture your customer’s attention and sell your existing products and services better. They can build your reputation. They can engage your customers and turn them into loyal, raving fans. And much more.

And one more way to look at stories—they can serve as your inspiration for a product you create to sell.

Let me show you what I mean.

Here at GKIC, when we hear the same questions over and over from people about a particular topic, we know there is interest in that topic.

For example one area we get a lot of questions about is how to write persuasive copy that sells.

Why do we get a lot of questions about that? Because we have a story to tell about it. (Namely that Dan Kennedy, myself and our team of GKIC copywriters have all created persuasive copy that has sold millions and millions and millions of dollars’ worth of products and services.) This makes our story more valuable.

Therefore, knowing we have a valuable story to tell becomes the inspiration to create an information product to sell.

Here are five tips for finding your story that sells:

1)      Assess. What are the stories you tell over and over again? Do people always ask you about how you get so many customers? Or how you got your start in the business? Or how you are able to raise ten kids and stay sane?

If you are asked the same questions over and over, then chances are people are curious about how you did something and this could be a good indication of “your story” that will sell.

2)      Ask questions and dig deep. Often times, you have a GREAT story, you just don’t know it. Because it’s your life, it may seem boring or irrelevant, but to others, it’s “the” thing that hooks them.

This is frequently revealed when you dig deep and look for a “story behind the story”—much like the greatest journalists of our time do. Journalists find stories by using this technique and accomplish it by asking a lot of questions and assembling facts. In doing this, they often uncover the most intriguing nuggets and reveal the most fascinating part of the story.

What are the details of your story? Are there details you don’t tell very often (because people don’t know to ask you about them,) but when you do, they are riveted? This is the story behind the story.  Tip: You know you are on to something when revealing some details spawn many more questions.

This can also be the most painful part of your life. A great place to look for examples of this are in weight loss stories or rags to riches stories—where the writer describes in great detail hitting rock bottom and the secret that brought them huge success.

3)      Ask what big problems you have solved. Do you have a great story about how you solved a big or common problem? If you have more than one, select the story that best solves the problem and/or choose the problem you can best solve in relation to your prospective competition.

For example, let’s say you can solve the problem of attracting new, high quality customers and you can solve the problem of closing the sale. You are really good at both, however your competition is only good at attracting new customers. In this case, you might want to focus on your story of how you can help people close the sale better.

4)      Make a list of what makes you feel happy, strong and energized. When you find what makes you feel the most energized, often therein lies your story. You’ll discover not only the thing you are best at, but in relaying your story, you will have more enthusiasm which often translates to making more sales.

5)      Ask your closest friends and most trusted business associates what they think your best at.  If you still can’t figure out what your story is and how to turn that into a product, ask your most trusted advisors and business associates for feedback. Ask them their opinion of what you have to offer that is unique and what they think you do best. Ask them for stories or examples where they witnessed you at your best.

So my final question is—What’s YOUR story? Like Peter Guber and Dan Kennedy –when you find that, you’ll most likely discover an information marketing product (or two or three…) that is worth creating.

NOTE: If you want to hear more about how Peter Guber’s set of principles that anyone can use to tell stories to accomplish their goals, then you won’t want to miss Info-SUMMIT.  Not only will you get the chance to meet Peter in person and get your picture taken with him, but you’ll also be there when he reveals his techniques for:

  • Capturing your customer’s attention first, fast and foremost
  • Building your tell around “what’s in it for them”
  • How to create purposeful stories that can serve as powerful calls to action for your business and products.

For more information or to reserve your seat, visitwww.gkic.com/infosummit. But hurry—your chance to save up to $1900 is running out and seats are limited.

P.S.– Get “The 10 Rules to Transforming Your Small Business into an Infinitely More Powerful Direct Response Marketing Business” for FREE. Click here to claim your customer-getting, sales-boosting tactics.

Posted by: stephenfetters | November 10, 2015

Why is Story Telling Different from Story Building?

Here is the ugly truth.  Whether we like it or not, as small business owners we are in the marketing business.  People will not beat down your doors.  If you want sales, you have to find a way to motivate potential customers. 

One way to do this is to tell your story.  However, there is a difference between story telling and story building.  Attached is a great post from Duct Tape Marketing telling us how to build a great story by asking some great questions. 

Help me out here.  I am a small business owner trying to take my business to the next level just like you.   After you read the post, please pick one of the questions and post your answer in the reply section.  

By doing this, I can learn what interests you the most.  Then I can build informative posts on things that matter to you.  

Thank you in advance for your help. 

THE EXTRAORDINARY CRAFT OF STORY BUILDING

This post is part of a creative marketing series sponsored by HP

One of my favorite Mister Rogers quotes goes like this: “It’s hard not to like someone once you know their story.” I love this idea because I think it delivers a powerful business lesson.

storybuilder

Image Salim Virji via Flickr

People connect with stories that move them and most every business can and should tell a story that helps prospects and customers connect at a deeper level. I truly believe the Internet, while making it easy to find information, has left us craving real connections, with real people, and the companies they serve.

Your marketing story should be one of the primary messages communicated in your printed marketing materials and throughout your web presence. I had a plumbing client years ago that printed his marketing story on the back of his invoices because he wanted remind his clients of the role his entire family played in his business.

A carefully crafted marketing story is a tool that can serve any organization trying to break through the clutter and connect with new markets.

However, most of the advice written about the use of a personal marketing story revolves around creating and telling compelling stories and while I ,do believe that the best leaders are great storytellers, I believe the new reality of marketing asks us to become great storybuilders.

The difference may seem subtle, but it embraces that fact that we must involve our customers and influencers in the creation of our business and our story.

  • We must include our vision for the future, but that vision should be a shared vision.
  • We must know everything we can about the goals, hopes and dreams of a very narrowly defined ideal client. (Super big bonus if you’re the client ie: I am a small business owners trying to take my business to the next level, I target small business owners trying to take their business to the next level.)
  • We must frame our story with a message that addresses the desires, challenges and unmet needs of this market.
  • We must involve customers in the finishing of the story by making their real life experiences central to the character development.

If you want to take this next giant step in evolution of your marketing in a way that turns your customers and prospects into collaboration partners and storybuilders sit down with a handful of your ideal customers and ask them the following questions with an eye on developing an extraordinary marketing story.

  • What do you know about where this business is going that no one could know?
  • What is your industry’s greatest flaw?
  • If your business could choose a new identity, what would it be?
  • What is your favorite customer story?
  • What is your secret wish for your business?
  • What is the greatest challenge your business must overcome?
  • What is your greatest fear for your business?
  • What is your greatest achievement/disappointment?
  • What about your childhood shaped you for this moment?
  • What choices have you made that you regret?

It may take some guts to pose questions like this to your best customers, but do it and you’ll be on your way to builder a relationship that can’t be penetrated by a competitors low cost offers.

JOIN OUR CONTENT COMMUNITY

First Name

Last Name

Your Email (this will be your username)

Password (at least 8 characters, 1 number, 1 upper and lowercase letter)

Posted by: stephenfetters | November 6, 2015

5 Simple Questions That Drive Repeat Business

I admit it.  I am becoming obsessed by the challenge of creating “High Touch” in a world dominated by “High Tech”.  

Here’s what we know.  People buy from people they know and trust.

You can use the internet to attract people.  Then it’s up to you to get to know them.

Here’s a short post with 5 great questions you must know the answers to if you are win loyal, repeat clients and customers.

Delivering Happiness Takes High Touch, Not High Tech

Happiness is more than just a state of mind and Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, is on a mission to prove it. I had the privilege of seeing Tony speak for The American Marketing Association and after two pages of notes I examined his philosophy and realized why the businesses he’s managed have been so abundantly successful.

Even if I wasn’t quite sure about this “happiness speak” (which I am, of course, being the happy, cheesy person that I am) Tony would have received my full attention if for no other reason than the fact that he sold a business to Microsoft at the age of 24 for $265 million.

In our high-tech world we are trained to shift further and further away from live, in person interaction but doing so hurts us in the end. We have email, text messaging, social media, videos, assistants, project managers and on and on, each removing us from the core customer experience. Tony spoke about their customer call center, and how there are no “time limits” for each order, and that the record for their longest customer service call was 7 hours!

How different would your business look if you were able to authentically touch and connect with more people? In the Zappos model the telephone is key. There are no scripts, no upselling, a 365 day return policy and they’ll even recommend their competitor when they can’t fill a need themselves! Wow!

Here are the 5 key questions that they use to evaluate the customer experience:

1) What do customer expect?

2) What do customer actually experience?

3) What emotions do customers feel

4) What stories do they tell their friends?

5) How can your culture create more stories and memories?

It took a year for Tony and his team to determine their core values.Amongst them are humility, embracing and driving change, creating fun, creativity, adventure, the pursuit of growth and learning, positivity and passion. Each of these things helps them to deliver the wow factor. A company’s brand and culture are two sides of the same coin. As you look at the list above do you feel motivated, frustrated or disappointed?
Posted by: stephenfetters | November 3, 2015

Why a High Touch Philosophy is Worth the Time

I think we all are aware of the challenge known as “Creating high touch in a high tech world.” As small business owners we concentrate on how to build our email list, or the number of “likes” for our Facebook Page.  Wouldn’t we be better served if we spent some time on building individual relationships?  

Here is a post with some interesting solutions to this vexing problem. 

Hi-tech is not a reason to sideline high-touch – a lesson for the travel industry from a shoe seller

NB: This is a guest article by Carla Caccavale, brand strategist at TrustYou.

I recently sat on a panel addressing destination marketers about just that: destination marketing today and tomorrow.

But when panel moderator Gene Quinn of Tnooz asked us to give our overarching take on the topic, I took off my marketing hat.

I shared what I thought what is most meaningful to me as a consumer: in this high-tech world we live in, don’t lose touch with high-touch service.

This doesn’t just apply to destinations; this holds everyone from hoteliers to shoe salespeople. It was my “shoe lady” at retailer Neiman Marcus who drove this point home just recently.

We are communicating more and more via email (sadly it is exclusively via email in many cases). So, as I am sure you can relate to, when I open my email at 6am I have at least 25 new messages waiting for me (in the span of six hours when I last checked before bed).

Many tend to be from retailers; buy this, try that, new product, big sale, etc. I must admit I fall victim to these emails (I am every clothing and shoe marketer’s dream). I have saved and texted the photos to Ronni, my “shoe lady” telling her I must have these.

I needed an intervention and decided on a self-imposed one. I made the conscious decision to delete all of these shopping-focused emails during the week. I am not going shopping, so no need to look and be tempted. Done deal. Or so I thought.

Soon after this decision I got an email from Ronni. She wanted to make sure I knew about the new promotion going on; spend $X,XXX and get an $XXX gift card.

She thought I would be interested and reminded me that she can help me shop throughout the store, not just in the shoe department where our relationship first began.

I thought to myself:

“Ronni, what would ever make you surmise that I would be interested in such a promotion?”

No, not really. I actually looked around to see if there were any cameras watching me. How does she know about my decision to delete these emails without looking at them? I was incredibly impressed that she reached out to me personally.

Then I thought of the travel world that I operate in.

  • Why isn’t anyone else doing what Ronni is doing?
  • Why isn’t the island that I love to vacation on not touching base to see how I am?
  • Why is the hotel that I like to getaway to for a weekend not checking in to see if I am in need of a night out?

Because they expect me to pay attention to the emails they are sending and Facebook posts they are pumping out at a dizzying pace.

Guess what? I’ve tuned you out. Information overload has gotten to me.

All too often we pride ourselves on the “size” of our database. How many email addresses we have to blast the next offer or sale to.

When was the last time that you followed up an email blast with a personal note? Sent along a reminder of a romance package and said:

“Dear Mr. X, We’ve missed seeing you and Mrs. X. If I can help make arrangements for a surprise visit, please let me know. I would be happy to handle you reservation personally.”

What if the spa associate at a hotel emailed a client and offered to not only help them at the spa, but make room and restaurant reservations as well (remember Ronni offered to help me throughout the store, not just in her department).

Two other points I made on the panel were:

  • look outside the industry in which you operate
  • take off your marketing hat and be a consumer

Which brands are leaving an impression on you?

Other than my four kids, do you know who sent me a Mother’s Day card? Women’s fashion site Tory Burch.

Okay, maybe not Tory herself, but I got a card and that stuck with me. It included a gift card, which I not only used, but wound up spending more on top of that

I don’t care if that was their plan all along. They are the only brand that thought to send a Mother’s Day card. Everyone else spammed me with Mother’s Day sales.

Whether it’s a follow up email, a handwritten note or, do I dare say a phone call, we cannot sideline the value of high-touch service when our guests are not with us.

We focus on the on the “in the moment”, but not the after the moment. Stop getting their emails and then never looking them in the eyes again. If you are just blasting (via mass email) and not hand holding, you are missing an opportunity.

In these email infatuated days the personal touch can make a difference. It can make the difference between spam and a sale.

NB: This is a guest article by Carla Caccavale, brand strategist at TrustYou.

Posted by: stephenfetters | October 30, 2015

Why is Selling the Most Important Skill to Have?

Today’s blog describes why learning the art of selling may be one of the most important skills you can learn.  Yes, yes, I know, like many small business owners, you say, “I just don’t have time for that.”  Or, you might say, “I don’t want to be a ‘sales person.'”

Guess what?  Selling is a critical skill every business owner needs.  

Long ago, and far away, I had an economics professor in college who had a simple premise.  “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” 

Read on to find out why this is so important. 

Why You Should Consider Taking That Sleazy Sales Job


By Tim Murphy • January 16, 2012

SUBSCRIBE

Learning to sell is one of the best skills you can bring to your career — and life.

Recent college grads often think, “Meh/ugh (or some other whiny noise), I don’t want to do sales.”

Either they think a sales job is beneath them, they don’t want their pay to be tied to performance or they just “don’t like the idea of selling something.”

I’ve been there, too; I actually felt bad for my friends who were “reduced” to sales jobs right out of college. And I’ve seen friends adopt an air of apology when explaining that their job involved sales. Oh, the shame!

But that approach is plain old stupid. Being able to sell is everything.

Every idea you pitch to your boss,every business you want to start andevery job interview you have are all about selling. Sometimes it’s an idea, other times it’s a product or service, and it almost always involves selling yourself. The ability to sell is an absolutely critical skill, and taking a job that forces you to learn and master the art of sales early on in your career is a great move.

Get over yourself

If you are a recent college grad, chances are good that nothing is beneath you. Sorry, but that’s how it goes. People love to say they’re willing to “start at the bottom” and “work my way up the ladder,” but when they are presented with such an opportunity, they recoil in terror.

Taking a sales job is hardly starting at the bottom, but there’s definitely an air of superiority implicit in anyone who disregards sales as an unworthy profession.

Are you just afraid?

The reasons why we have negative perceptions of sales as a career vary, but part of it is the thought that salespeople are “sleazy.” That stereotype does a great disservice to young professionals everywhere. “Sales involves being sleazy,” so the flawed logic goes, “thus my dismissal of a sales position must be due to my integrity.”

The fact is that a career in sales can be quite challenging, and that’s intimidating. But associating a sales position with being “sleazy” allows people to give themselves a pass, rather than take on a difficult, sometimes uncomfortable job. In other words, a lot of people don’t want to do it because they’re scared.

To the bold goes the paycheck

While some of us are intimidated by the prospect of salary being tied to performance, others wouldn’t have it any other way. They see a set salary as a cap, a limit to their potential, while a sales commission-based salary is only limited by their abilities.

That’s why lots of people in sales make great money, eventually landing the set salary and the ability to make a bunch more via commissions. Adopt the right attitude and sales-based pay can be very attractive and lucrative.

Learn to pitch

The ability to sell is one of the most versatile skill sets a person can have. It doesn’t matter if you’re an engineer, an architect, a waitress or a business owner – if you can’t sell, you’re severely handicapped.

At some point, probably more often than you’d think, we all have to sell, and taking a job in sales forces you to learn the craft quickly. Making sales calls and presentations hones your critical thinking, on-the-fly thinking, public speaking and interpersonal skills like nothing else.

Plus, part of making a sale is negotiating – another tremendous skill set. By the time you need to negotiate a salary, ask for a raise, buy a house, a car, a business or sign a lease, the practice you’ve had at negotiating and working through alternative prices to close a deal will pay huge dividends.

Bottom line: taking a sales job is a great way to jumpstart your career, make good money, become a pitching and negotiating pro, and turn yourself into a well-rounded professional.

You might not want to be “in sales,” but the fact is,you don’t really have a choice. You’re going to have to pitch, sell and negotiate regularly throughout your life. Rather than brushing off sales as “not for you,” why not embrace it and get to work mastering a skill you’re going to need, regardless of profession?

Tim Murphy is founder of ApplyMate.com, a free application tracking tool.

Posted by: stephenfetters | October 27, 2015

Why Storytelling is Important for Your Business

One of my readers posted a comment asking for more posts on using story telling to promote our businesses.  

Using stories about your business, your products, or your service is a powerful way to get people to remember you.  And, when people remember you, they will buy from you. 

Here is a great post telling you more about it. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF STORYTELLING FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

For as long as there has been language, there have been stories. Indeed, since the dawn of civilization, stories have been essential to our communication, our understanding of the world, our relationships with one another and the very survival of our species. From early cave paintings and practical warning stories to tales of soaring imagination and comforting tradition, stories have defined humanity through time and continue to shape our world today.

So what makes a good story?

Think back to your favourite story from childhood. (You know, the one you sneaked under the bedclothes and read by torchlight, the one with the dog-eared corners, the one you or your mother has still got in the attic somewhere.) Chances are, the book you’re thinking of contained one or more of these elements:

  • Simplicity – It had a clear structure and few characters.
  • Memorability – Even now, you remember the main plot, character or even the words/rhyme/rhythm.
  • purpose – The story had a message or moral to ‘take home’.
  • Shareability – Whether your mum or dad read it to you on their lap or your friends couldn’t get enough of it, it was something you wanted to talk about.
  • Comfort – You read and re-read it, especially when you were tired, upset or ill, and it never failed to cheer you up.
  • Imagination and adventure – The story whisked you away to a wonderful world of make-believe and excitement, where anything could happen.
  • Character – You could identify completely with the main character or felt as though they were a real person.

For adults, stories are no different. As well as being a quick and effective means of communication, a good story is one that allows us to visit new worlds, imagine new solutions and share ideas. The process of reading a story is fun and relaxing and a good story itself is memorable, shareable and often inspiring. From literature, art and film to business, religion and politics, stories permeate all aspects of our lives and are present across all cultures, languages and societies.

Above all, stories make an emotional connection, which is unsurprising given that our individual and collective lives are, in themselves, stories. Able to make us angry or irritated, and provoke laughter or tears, the sheer power of the story to affect us at a deep, human level cannot be underestimated.

But what does this have to do with your business?

If you are running a business or promoting yourself as an ‘individual brand’, your story is a strong and effective means of marketing. Telling your story can:

  • Increase brand recognition
  • Encourage followers
  • Build a loyal community
  • Maintain existing clients/customers
  • Increase visitors to your website
  • Increase sales
  • Increase clicks/downloads/sign-ups
  • Establish you as an expert in your field

As I mentioned above, a good story is one that is both memorable and shareable. And in today’s fast-paced, socially connected world, that’s very important for businesses and for brands.

Although we are increasingly seeing ‘content creation’ and ‘content curation’ as central to marketing and publicity and the creation of job titles such as Director of Content or Content Marketing Manager show that businesses are taking content seriously, there’s often still something missing, and a lot of business blogs, ebooks, whitepapers and corporate documents are failing to hit their mark because of their lack of storytelling ability and emotional impact.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be running a series of blog posts that focus on how to harness the power of storytelling to build your brand and to communicate effectively with your target audience, whether you’re a small business owner, a self-publisher or a budding entrepreneur. So keep watching this space to find out how the art of story can make your small business more effective, more recognisable and ultimately, more profitable.

For more about what we do, visit our website atwww.callistogreen.com or follow us on Twitter,Facebook or Google+. You can email us too atenquiries@callistogreen.com.

Posted by: stephenfetters | October 23, 2015

Great Questions You Can Ask…Book Review

Today I am departing from the usual format for my blog to review an excellent book titled “Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others”, by Andrew Sobel and Jerald Panas. (Copyright © 2012 by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas. All rights reserved. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.)

As small business owners we are all concerned about one thing.  Sales.  Whether we are selling a product or a service, sales is the driver.

Yet people don’t want to be sold.  Many of us don’t want to be called “Salespeople”.  The very term conjures up all kinds of negative images.

I discovered a long time ago, selling is an art.  And, while it’s true people don’t want to be sold, they do want to be helped.  In order to help people you have to find out what they want.  How do you do that?

Ask questions.

Not just any questions, though.  But the kinds of questions that will help you build deep long lasting relationships with prospective clients and customers.  This is the real key to success for any business.

So where can you find these questions?  Enter the book “Power Questions” by Andrew Sobel and Jerald Panas.

In it, the authors use 35 mini case studies where they asked power questions of various people in the course of their consulting careers.  At the end of each case study there is a side bar describing alternative and additional questions that may be used in these situations.

The real bonus is in the last chapter of the book where the authors list 293 additional power questions and the situations in which they can be used.

I felt the one drawback to this book was the mini case studies all involved people who were very highly placed leaders and executives.  Don’t be put off by this.  These questions can be asked of any prospect, and can help you to build deep and rewarding relationships.

I highly recommend this book. If you would like to add this book to your library, you may click on the link below to order it. Please note: Click on the title shown below the image to order.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate)


Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others“>

Posted by: stephenfetters | October 20, 2015

Why Building Customer Relationships Should be #1 on Your List.

As Small Business Owners, we all know the importance of customer service and customer relations.  Unfortunately in the “high tech” world in which we live, building customer relations is pushed aside.  Many business owners feel they “just don’t have time.”  

People buy from people they know and trust is one of the basic tenets of marketing.  The attached article explains why taking the time to build long term relationships with prospects should be # 1 on our to-do list each day. 

HIGH-TECH, HIGH-TOUCH: RELEVANCY AND RELATIONSHIPS FOR TODAY’S YOUNG BUSINESSES

Today’s marketing landscape is radically different than it was just one decade ago. It continues to evolve at an ever-increasing rate, keeping pace with the latest technological innovations.

mobile tech

Successful companies have adapted to the demands of this new environment, integrating competitive SEO and social media campaign initiatives into their marketing portfolios. Those who turn their backs on these changes put themselves at a steep disadvantage. However, those who are a bit too eager to go full-tech run the risk of falling even further.

The problem isn’t that businesses choose to embrace the high-tech transformation. After all, in order to remain relevant, a company needs to play ball on the same field as its competition. More often than not, that field is digital, at least to some degree.

Instead, the problem is going digital without a plan to preserve high-quality, high-touch relationships with clients.

A High-Touch Game Plan in a High-Tech World

Get Cultured

As in any relationship, it is important to develop an assured sense of self before committing to something serious and long-term. Companies must know who they are, what principles they represent, and exactly where and how their customers fit into their communities.

A business’ culture determines the way it is perceived by the public. This culture must be developed from within and include employees at every level of the organization. Having a firm hold on one’s guiding ideologies is critical to building and maintaining sincere, lasting partnerships with customers.

Why? Because a company that lacks a cohesive sense of itself generally cannot act with precision or uniformity. This same company will also have a difficult time managing its public image and brand.

When customers are not sure what to expect from a particular business-or when they are led to develop inaccurate expectations-they are taken aback by apparent violations of that business’ compliance with its own values. The same is true when a business tries to reinvent itself without a thorough, well-thought-out course of action in place before any transition is made.

Developing a robust culture takes time, but it is a worthwhile investment that bolsters businesses’ trustworthiness and reliability. Doing so will provide a strong foundation for positive and profitable customer relationships.

Focus on the Future

In the competitive global marketplace, it is easy to develop a form of nearsightedness. The allure of a quick sale often appears more attractive than the somewhat blurry prospect of a partnership that might lie farther down the road.

This nearsightedness can come at a high cost when one-time customers aren’t converted into repeat clientele. This is especially true now, when the prevalence of e-commerce puts even more competitors’ products and services in front of prospective clients. As a result of this, fostering brand loyalty is-as a rule-more difficult than it used to be.

Here’s the bottom line: It is important to invest time and resources in optimizing a customer’s experience before, during, and after a sale. Focusing on a sustainable future, rather than just a lucrative present, is the best predictor of a business’ ability to thrive over time.

Reach Out

Simply because a business only operates an online storefront, there is no rule that its presence must be limited to the digital world as well. There are many ways to remind customers that there are real live people running a website, and that these people are thinking about them.

Tried-and-true strategies from the age of traditional offline marketing still offer plenty of value. Customer appreciation events, notes written by hand (or at least signed by an actual person), distribution of promotional items or freebies, and participation in community events gives businesses a face-and sometimes even a heart.

Get A Little Personal

It’s possible to save money by replacing traditional customer service specialists with automation technology. Alternatively, these positions can be outsourced to third party firms-oftentimes firms that have no genuine stake in the companies that contract them.

The first scenario is problematic because customers want to feel like they’re interacting with real people when they make purchases. The second scenario is little better, as customers also want-and deserve-to feel valued. Part of feeling valued is sensing that a business is grateful enough for their patronage to ensure that they receive expert advice and service from representatives who embody the spirit of the company that employs them.

It is important to create opportunities for customers to interact with friendly, professional personnel. It’s not a bad idea, either, to encourage personnel to stray from highly scripted conversation into the territory of casual chat.

About the Author: Gary Austin is the CEO of ThePenGuy.com, a company focusing on high quality promotional pens and fantastic customer service.

Photo credit: Johan Larsson

40 Shares

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories

%d bloggers like this: