Call To Actions Need To Result in Action

The call to action (CTA) is one of the hardest things to master when it comes to e-commerce. It’s relatively easy to design an attractive page, and you can write great content that gets people pumped. At the same time, it doesn’t matter how good everything else is if your CTA falls flat. If you are having a hard time getting people to buy your product, then use these tips for a better CTA.

call to actions

photo credit: hiddedevries via photopin cc


Make it Distinguishable

Your CTA needs to be distinguishable. Most websites are using CTA buttons so that users know exactly where to click to buy, sign up or do anything else that you need them to do. If you want people to perform an action, then make the CTA button easy to see.

For example, if you have a red website, then make the CTA button blue or yellow. It needs to contrast so that users know exactly what to click.

Use a Consistent Design

You also need to keep the design consistent throughout your website. If the CTA button looks different on each page, then users might get confused about what they need to click. Keeping the design consistent in terms of color and shape will improve the number of users that click the button. It will also keep users from getting confused.

Active Phrases

The CTA button needs to have an active phrase so that users know what to do. Many novice Webmasters write “Click Here,” but this can kill your click-through rate. You need to be more descriptive than this. It lets people know what to expect when they click the button, and an active phrase will persuade more people to buy from you.

For example, you can use “Download Now,” “Get Started,” “Sign Up Here” or “Show Me More.”

Multiple CTA Buttons

You might feel a little pushy if you put multiple CTA buttons on one page, but this can actually help you under certain conditions. If your Web page is long, then some users won’t want to scroll all the way down to find the CTA button. Some users want to buy now, but they don’t know how to go forward.

You should have at least one CTA button above the fold, and then another under a long page of text. This makes your CTA button more visible and accessible, and it should improve your click-through rate.

Use Every Page

Most users will skim through all of your pages before deciding to buy your product. The key to improving your sales online is to make the sales process easy for customers. If you add the CTA button to just one page, then some users may forget where it is. These users will just leave to find another seller.

Conclusion

Many website owners don’t know how to properly make and position their CTA, but you need to learn this quickly if you want to improve your conversion. Just use a good design that contrasts your website, make it easy to find and use active phrases. These few tips on a proper CTA should help you sell more products or services.

How do you use call to actions on your website? Please leave a comment below!

Gonna Get Me Some Action (Movie FX)!

Have you ever looked at the video that you took with your iPhone or iPad and wonder what you could do to give them that little bit of pizazz? You know, like rather than take that hum-drum Christmas dinner video that you take every year, instead take one that has aliens dropping in and blowing up the Christmas turkey. How about blowing up that beat up old car of yours with a sidewinder missile, without having to wonder how you are getting to work in the morning?

"Action movie

photo credit: openDemocracy via photopin cc

Enter Director / Producer J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Lost) and his special effects company Bad Robot Interactive, with an iPhone / iPad app that turns your hum-drum mobile device videos into epic, special-effects filled, clips of awesome! Enter Action Movies FX!

It’s Da Bomb! (plus MUCH More!)

The first time I used this app was to give my kids a giggle when they where hanging out in the backyard with the neighbour’s kids, bored on a Summer’s day (if that is possible). Standing there I narrated the lead up to dropping a giant ball of steel on all four of them. Next I had fun with a client that I had been working on a Twitter project for, by crashing an F/A-18 Fighter Jet into his SUV crossover. Each one took less than a minute to film and less than that to add the desired effect. The reaction to these videos is always the same; laughter, followed by “WOW! That is so cool!!”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA9DnUlLff4&w=560&h=315]

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxeeiJAO8EM&w=560&h=315]

What you get is a pretty straight forward app that allows you to pick the special effect you want in your video, a target on your video screen to ensure that you have the camera positioned perfect, and a few moments to render your special effects filled video clip. Just like that you can have a video that is the envy of your friends (well, at least those who don’t also have Action Movie FX). You even get some mayhem from some of the combat gadgets found in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 2!

It’s Fun, But Is It Business Friendly?

Was there something written in the Holy Bible of Marketing that says that you have to create videos to attract people to your business product or service with videos that are actually about your product or business? Think about this. Do major name brands pay to make a movie, or do they pay to have their product IN the movie. Use this app to have some actual fun promoting your business. Create an action filled clip for YouTube that has your product or service in the movie. It may not win you an Oscar, but it will get you noticed.

…. aaaaaaand ACTION!

 

5 Touch Points of Engagement: Not in ‘Likeness’ But in Diversity

VISIBILITY: Part 2 – Engagement

Audience ‘engagement’ … what is the first image that comes to your mind? Is it communication, a connection, or a conversation? The actual definition is “The act of engaging or the state of being engaged.” where the word ‘engaged’ means, 1. Employed, occupied, or busy.  2. Committed, as to a cause.

Often our actual definition of a word is rather different than our perception of a word. Let’s call this a great likeness but with vast diversity in actual meaning. I find engagement in our marketing spheres very similar. We see that it is more of an interchange either by content, visual or another communication vehicle that not only connects another with the message and story but propels that individual to respond. This is the engagement I am referring to!

In my last SteamFeed post, I presented the first step [Part 1] in visibility which is developing your Web Presence [Web Presence and Visibility:  Duende “Having Soul”]. Step two of building visibility is to consider your engagement within your marketing sphere and how to effectively interact.

photo: <a href="http://engagemarketingdesign.com/">Engage Marketing Design</a>

Engagement – The 5 Touch Points:

1. Website –  Engagement on your site is creating a correspondence with your audience. Create opportunities for them by offering a two-way experience. Perhaps provide a customizing process with a product or service and allow engagement via commenting to posts or by initiating ‘likes’ or ‘dislikes’ to an idea or option. The connection with ‘likeness’ is important but contemplate drawing out the diversity in your audience. We are more unique then we are similar and while your community has similar interests that lead them to this virtual location it is really important to allow some guided self-expression in this space or better yet encourage it!

a.       Add Widgets
b.      Add Functionality for “Real Time” Engagement
c.       Games
d.      Online Product Customization

2. Social Media Networks  –  Social Media is all about engagement but often we pursue the quick fix in our connections rather than working on the long haul in building valued relationships. It is an investment in others and taking time to learn about them in all aspects of their complex lives. It is more exploratory then reactionary and if you are successful in social media you know exactly what I am referring to. The time spent behind the scenes really understanding their target audience is far greater than their time in actual conversation with them. We need to understand more about the targeted individual and the diversities which they are made up of. Focus on the criteria to help you narrow down that audience and relate with more resonance.

a.       Who is Your Audience
b.      Purpose for Engaging
c.       Tone & Perspective
d.      Offering Consistent Valuable Content

3. Mobile –  Connecting with people in ‘real time’ or while on-the-go, where you happen to be at a certain moment, is effective in your engagement marketing. Instagram and other powerful visual apps downloaded to your smartphone can share your particular activity while also adding impressionable visual data for your audience. This builds a sense of personal connection with your relationships. You can include multiple texting solutions by attaching valued quick video clips (use Android’s Movie Studio App to even apply still images with your content stream) or adding a YouTube channel link as possible solutions with your texting options. The engagement is not a list of numbers (how often and how many) but purposeful understanding of building visibility and relationships within your space while consistently and frequently providing a clear branded message surrounded by fresh content.

a.       Location based ‘check-ins’
b.      Image Sharing
c.       Audio and Video Sharing
d.      Social Media and Mobile Apps

4. Email  –  Email allows you to become even more personal in your engagement and the better you are at delivering this personal message the more desirable. Gone are the days of spam and no one ever wanted it to begin with but it was so new it was somewhat tolerated. Nothing with that hint of flavor is tolerated today. Segment your lists wisely and provide valuable and acceptable content to your recipient. Consider what might be a great follow up to a product already purchased and categorize the audience within those segments. Or discover why they have not ordered in a while by giving them an opportunity with simplistic effort to reply. Gather the info and send a follow up offer with a preferred personalized message. We are always allowing for opting in and not force sales. This can also become a great way to introduce your social networks via some very individualized and compelling email campaigns.

a.       Make it personal
b.      Segment Lists to Define Response
c.       Survey & Assess
d.      Socialize Your Email

5. Print  –  Now how did this get in here? No, it belongs here and this is why. Print is a sensory piece and we need to touch things physically to completely connect with it. Virtual is all well and good but you need a bit of the tangible to complete the circle of engagement. So be specific in your selection of print. It could be that VIP card sent after being selected as a customer hero of the month or it can be a tear card with a premium promotional offer that brings that customer into your physical retail establishment. Create stories on your print pieces and add instruction on how to download custom apps that will drive your customers further down this amazing product/service journey. Print being the conduit to their smartphones. You’re only limited by your creativity here. But keep it connected to your audience with use of color, size, shape, style and even the material it is printed on. Each one of those communicates conceptual information to the mind of your audience separately.

a.       Quick Response Codes (QR code)
b.      Invitation to Download Apps
c.       Call-To-Action Incentives (bring to store to redeem)
d.      Keep Very Sensory Oriented (fuzzy, scratch, scented, etc.)

By far this is just the tip of the iceberg in engagement and I could probably just continue to contribute posts just on this subject alone for quite some time before it became exhausted.  In effect it is a very critical one in how we market today and how people have now become accustomed to purchase.

We should be wary of this one tendency to focus on our ‘likeness’ in this engagement and I find that an obstacle in this powerful tool. Since the very nature of us is our diversities and uniqueness that make those engagements so meaningful. I would focus on building your communities with their similarities so that there are unified interests but encouraging that community to express their diversities in their response and reaction since this brings us closer to what we are truly searching for. The answers outside of ourselves, the answer that more often than not someone else can offer!

… Which then directs us to VISIBILITY: Part 3 – Search

Simple Steps to Master Your Content Strategy

Most of the time, a social marketing manager recognizes that the quality of their content is what drives traffic to their website. If you fail to have adequate and sufficient content, you will ultimately suffer in terms of revenue. When it comes time to create and distribute content, two things you need to bear in mind are marketing and creativity.

Content Road to driving trafficFrom a creativity standpoint, you need to make sure you are continually developing new material that the audience deems important and relevant. You want them to share the information with others and engage them enough to keep coming back for more. In the end, you will have built a community that is surrounded by content.

From the marketing perspective, your function is to amplify all of the content you have on your site. You want content that is capable of going viral. Regardless of whether it happens or not, you will want to distribute and create content that fosters a positive and long-term experience through content association, which will only lead to an increase in loyalty, advocacy and brand engagement.

The best thing you can do is try to remember this simple strategy: If you can add value to your online community and foster the intelligence for your brand, you will notice your business continue to grow. When it comes time to create and implement the marketing strategy you plan to use in your business, you need to master the art of the content loop. The content loop is about a lot more than just writing a blog and publishing it. To make sure you are getting the most out of your content, bear the following steps in mind:

Create

As you create content, you need to have your audience in mind. Creating a rhythm and remaining consistent are two key components of the creation phase. Make sure the information is easy to read and understand. When you write your content, it is important to remember that your presentation and packaging are important. Not only are you able to build upon your message, but you are also able to delve into your creative side.

Curate

It is important that you offer your readers content that is exciting, engaging and educational. You don’t want to give them a bunch of content that is redundant or else they will get bored and seek information elsewhere. Learn how to identify, organize and use all of the resources you are given to help keep your reader engaged and informed.

Socialize

When it comes to distribution of content, you want to make sure it is sharable, searchable, simple and social. As you go through and share your information with others, listen to what they have to say. Interacting with your audience is crucial. Based upon the information your audience gives you, tweak your content to make sure it is something that will draw more and more individuals into your site.

Analyze

Your data tells you exactly how well your content is doing. Make sure you are measuring, monitoring, modifying and moderating your content to make the necessary changes. Focus on what others have to say about your content and build a channel for feedback. Select the appropriate tools that are going to work the best for your specific needs. Refining your strategy is important to ensuring your success.

What else is necessary in a strong content strategy? Please leave a comment below!

5 Things Mobile Customers want in the Relationship

You don’t give out your phone number to just anyone. Oh, I fondly remember these days in college pretending to be Jessica and giving out a fake number…
Back to the point. I’m letting you in my personal space. I know it means much more than giving out my Twitter handle. With 130.8 million smartphones active today, it’s not a jaw dropper SMS/MMS is becoming a more intimate channel people depend on to develop relationships. I was a guest on mobilechat Wednesday night chatting social, personal and client relationships on mobile (see the storify for the goods) but today I want to elaborate on a new trend: brand and consumer mobile relationships and I’ve got just the right brand to use as an example: I present you Engage by Eview!

Their site sums it up nicely: “Engage is groundbreaking software that allows mobile transmission of videos featuring ASL-signed messages about general news, weather and deaf and hard of hearing focused events, specific to each user’s current GPS-based location.  Emergency Alerts are sent via text message, accompanied by phone-awakening vibrations and flashing alerts to grab attention in times of severe weather or other emergencies.”

I’m head over heels with the weather alerts. Everybody, Deaf or hearing, would seriously benefit from it.  To sweeten the deal, they decided to not stop there – why not deliver location specific news to the Deaf? That’s innovation at work! But let’s check out what marketers and brands can learn from Engage’s success on mobile.

Brand Promise & Security
The customer experience begins with your brand promise. Their slogan is “content for the deaf/ submitted for the deaf/ to engage the deaf” ‘ and tell us they will do it in ASL, with a 30 second limitation and make it exclusive for the Deaf community.  The content has not gone off course. Each event and new is directly applicable to us. What’s more, I feel safe.  I trust them to alert me during critical weather occurrences.  That’s why we sign up for banking alerts or use an app to hail a cab. We want to feel secure.

Mobile Rich Content – Video
Video is the ideal medium for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing audience so the message is delievered in our first language: American Sign Language (ASL).  Mobile rich media is gorgeous…but it can be ugly. Fear not – not in Engage’s case. Every video, I’m greeted by an energetic, animated and smiling ASL signer. The clarity is solid on my iPhone and subtitles are included in case a sign is misunderstood. It’s so much more satisfying than a text message.

Timing
You don’t want to ruin great media by annoying your consumer.  Mobile + spam in the same sentence make me grind my teeth. Timing is delicate and critical for video. On Engage’s website, it says “Receive 30 second videos in ASL…” and they keep their promise. What are people doing when they’re waiting in line, riding the subway or killing time? Consuming content on their phone but they’re in control – they can delete or leave it at lighting speed.  30 seconds is solid. Videos start with 10 seconds for an advertisement and 20 for content.  Gasp – advertisement? Yes, but it’s not spammy. We’ll get to that soon.

As for frequency of MMS/SMS….be wise. By opting in for mobile notifications, the stakes have increased – rightfully so – parallel with the consumer’s trust because they have graciously given the brand an opportunity to be in their personal space.  Engage sends one to two videos a day per consumer. Videos are either regionally or nationally focused depending on the message (wicked, right?) but they may go up to three a day, according to Corey Axelrod, director of social media. In the Deaf community, this is a thumbs up so the naturally close-knit network stays up to date on news and events. The number is a bit high though, and in the future I would enjoy the option to keep my weather notifications on, and have the videos curated in some type of archive in the app.  That way, I can choose what videos interest me, which could especially useful as they increase their content.

Advertising and Brand Inclusion
There are few fans of mobile advertising.  Haven’t we all had that moment where we silently whisper or holler “damn it” when we accidentally click on an ad during Words with Friends? Seriously, mobile ads is still new territory but Engage has created a unique approach to help offset costs including sponsorship – and it works! They even make sure to explain why to the consumer in Getting Started video. Advertisers and companies truly have a new avenue to connect with the Deaf through Engage and make a statement as an inclusive brand.

Actionable
Have purpose.  Every Engage video never fails to conclude with a call-to-action.  Links, contact information and encouragement to find more and sign up for an event or product are essential – but the links aren’t clickable. I recommend any mobile strategy to have easy click through access to keep your leads from saying peace out.

Engage has earned the trust of its consumers and you can do the same for your audience.  Be creative and stick to your word. I thank them for fulfilling a great need by the Deaf community. If you’re Deaf and want to submit news, go here – they’d be stoked! For advertisers interested in connecting with the community, visit this page.

Are you creating a smart phone relationship with brands? What else would you add to help brands woo their customers?

Web Presence and Visibility: Duende “Having Soul”

VISIBILITY: Part 1 – Web Presence

“What is a website?” We can all agree that very few people are running around asking this today? It has become an essential component to our business plan but not so far back there were discussions as to what the World Wide Web was and if it was even possible to use it as an effective tool for our marketing (sound familiar?). Things seem to need to be validated through time and a process to become mainstream but some know right from the onset that certain medias are powerful and they have that insight into directing a successful strategy. Web presence is critical in your strategy but what that presence should reflect is often a mystery.

In prior SteamFeed posts I have discussed the overall different facets that comprise your marketing strategy [Shaping Your Branded Sphere], and solutions on building it out from the branding foundation, [Brand Strategy and Development: Yes You Have Homework!]. The next step is to consider your visibility within your marketing sphere and how that brand should translate effectively in that environment.

Three main aspects of this visibility encompass: Web Presence (part 1), Engagement (part 2) and Search (part 3). Let’s focus first on Web Presence, since this is really the first step that should be undertaken after you mastered your brand development and strategy.

The Web Presence Helix – 5 Effective Elements:

1. Brand Positioning on Your Site – Implementing a strong branded image, message and storyline to your website is singularly the most key part of the process you should consider. This includes placement, location and consistency of the brand within the site. Plus how all the other images, content and functionality support this development and strategy. How your audience connects and the experience they have when they interact on the site. It needs to promote your target audience’s attitude or influence with the brand. They need to become connected with the story the brand is sharing on the site. The preferred word here is ‘sharing’. If you are creating the site to push it out to your audience you can basically guarantee the same response back. Remember the old story of the battle between the sun and the wind and the man with the overcoat. The wind boasted it could get the man to remove his jacket by force and challenged the sun. The man only closed his jacket tighter with every forceful gust from the wind while the sun emitted its rays to allow the man to remove his jacket on his own. Just remember to apply this same methodology of audience partnership with your brand on your site. After all it is the customer’s experience, not yours.

2. Intuitive Over Design – I know many fantastic designers who in their effort to create phenomenal design work just completely lost the audience. Very often fantastic design choices have to be overruled because the audience would not be able to follow. You want them to follow and better yet to lead. Create the navigation the way they would intuitively use it. Don’t make your audience have to think. Don’t decide to trail blaze by being cleaver here, either. Be cleaver where it counts. Be cleaver in how you deliver the solutions to your audience’s pain by bringing awareness to product(s) or service(s). Structure should be simple and a site needs to reflect simplicity as well. Your audience whether they are saying it out loud or not wants ‘what they want, where they want it’. Please stop trying to make them jump over hurdles to get it. If they expect a tire swing don’t pretend that consistently offering them a tree house makes it better. Give them what they want in simple means. Color supports the brand development and strategy not the other way around. Images support the customer’s needs not the company’s needs. The key element in this category is “direct me” (the customer) simply where I need to go (your call-to-action) and remove the hurdles. I rather see a very simple site than one all dressed up with bells and whistles that just flat out frustrates the customer.

3. Content Where Your Audience Wants It – People don’t read! Yes I said it and I mean it. Oh sure we all say we read but what we really mean is we only read what we are interested in and at the exact moment we have the attention to read it. Keeping that in mind don’t write something ad nauseam and expect your audience has the staying power to get through it. They have to have the time, interest and focus to get through it so make it digestible. Dice it up in mini content pieces based on your target audience’s tolerances. This holds true for all industries, for example, if you are creating a site for NASA astronauts perhaps a more in-depth content scope is called for but even then be considerate of your reader. If they are researching the outer limits of a new galaxy don’t have them read the doctorial input from some other category that has little relevancy to the information they are after. You may offer parallel material as it becomes relevant but offer it as a side navigation or brief call-to-action link without impeding their journey to the material they are after.

4. Location, Location, Location – True in real estate and even the high premium real estate (layout) on your site. Where does the brand logo go? Where should I place the opt-in field (newsletter/email sign-up) and where do those social media network links belong? These all have designated areas and real estate being what it is should feature each one contained within “hotspots” on your site. Can you deviate? Sure you can but why are you? Are you affording your audience a better option based on a marketing strategy? Or do you just want a more pleasing design layout. Location trumps all aspects of the other elements listed above, believe it or not and many studies have been done to prove this. Just by reviewing search engine optimization statistics you can see how much location really does matter. So here are the big ones to consider:

    a. Brand mark in the top header portion of the site preferably but not exclusively to the left-hand side.
    b. Opt-in field preferably positioned in the top right-hand side of the site. It can also be added just above the header for differentiation.
    c. Social media network links close to and if possible under the opt-in field. This would be within the top right-hand side of the site as well.
    d. Engagement content (tagline, messaging and transition slides or static support images) below brand mark and reading from left to right. It is not effective forcing the opposite direction (right to left) just to say you made an impact. Giving a negative impact is not supportive impact.

5. Adding “Duende”- This is the part that most sites leave out. They have the technical end structured well and the simplicity of the site with carefully thought out content but they forget the “duende”! What is “duende”? Just as it was mentioned in the title, it is in essence ‘having soul’, a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity. It is that element that grabs you and yet you really can’t put your finger on it but you know you just experienced something special. This is the creative piece, the one that needs to start on the landing page and be consistently threaded throughout the site. It does not need to hit you over the head. It needs to be somewhat subtle but strongly presented. It can be represented as imagery, messaging or a tagline. It usually stems from your brand strategy and development, so look to that first. This is where those design types can get crazy with their creative on the site. What is the audience looking to emotionally connect with? How do they feel when they experience it? How do they believe it values them? The bigger brands get it when executing in their other marketing channels but not always on their site. They are so focused on functionality they miss adding in that “duende” experience. Functionality is important, simplicity is effective but having soul brings it to a whole other level.

Web Presence is by far the one task item you must have on your list of marketing objectives. Let’s direct our intentions to reflect that human component and keep it part of the equation, our website DNA so to speak. Build upon each element to create a fruitful web presence that builds visibility for your brand. While remembering that soul always captures engagement and with that admission, “duende” soul connects us to each other!

… Which leads us to VISIBILITY: Part 2 – Engagement

Is All Publicity Good Publicity?

Somewhere down the road of growing your business, I’m sure you have heard the phrase “all publicity is good publicity.” It sounds good and makes sense on a surface level, especially since most of us don’t get the publicity we feel our business deserves. Surely, that interview with the local news, Google Hangout, or blog write up will help your business build the brand recognition you need, right? Well, ideally yes but unfortunately I find that’s not often the case. Here’s why:

Control Everything

Working with a wide variety businesses especially tech startups, I see this scenario play out all the time. They work night and day developing awesomeness and finally get a call that someone wants to do a write up on their product! Boom! They get super excited and readily agree. Once the interview is in place and the questions start rolling, they quickly realize how ill-prepared they really are. How do you keep this from happening to you? Find out what their goal is for the interview or write up! What kinds of questions will they be asking? Is there a need, or specific answer to a question that they(the interviewer) is wanting to achieve? Have a list of specific questions that you would like to answer. If it’s a hangout or video that will be published online, is there specific branding imagery that needs to be included, or excluded? I find this last question especially applies to those businesses that are trying to shake up the status quo. If your business or product is at all in the edgy category, you better have ALL your ducks in a row.

 

Don’t be afraid to say NO

As a marketer, I am a studier and enthusiast in the field of Operant Conditioning and more specifically, I’m a big fan of Kevin Keller’s Brand Equity Model. In this model it is theorized that any interaction that the consumer has with a brand results in either a positive or negative change in perception. This change in perception is what directly affects their long term purchasing likelihood. This is why it is critical that any PR opportunities you take part in must only touch on the positive brand points that you identify for your business and no others. Be unapologetic with your core values for public relations. I find this is many times where good PR goes wrong. This is also why having a clear identification of your target market is key. Any PR function should be an extension of your companies marketing goals. If your publicity opportunity doesn’t meet your exact needs, goals, and guidelines; just say no. After all, there’s always more fish in the sea, right?

 

What have been your experiences with public relations? Have you ever had a potentially great PR experience turn into a nightmare? I would love to hear it in the comments section. 

My Biggest Challenge in Marketing!

We’re back with another question for our SteamFeed authors – This time we’re discussing challenges in marketing:

As a small business owner, what is your biggest challenge in marketing, and how do you overcome it?

 

Randy Bowden (@bowden2bowden)

 

Defining Target Markets: If you want to be successful with you’re marketing you must have a clear idea of your target market, who are they and where can you find them. Develop a profile of who your ideal customer is, include everything you can gather on them and write it down. With a concept of your ideal customer you can prepare a personalized and relevant marketing message to the intended recipients. Each time you are developing or writing promotional messages refer to the profile and it will guide you in your efforts to communicate more effectively with your target market.

 

David Schwartz (@1ad_dad)

As a small business owner you are expected to wear many different hats – let’s be honest too many different hats. All of the necessary skills to run a successful business are extreme in their nature. For instance, if you opened a restaurant your expertise might be as a chef and so you would understand the back of the house operations. Those skills are very important to a restaurant operator but so is the front of the house, which includes hiring and training the staff to name just a few. Now, how about marketing?

First thing first, set a marketing budget for the first 12-18 months. In my opinion, the biggest challenge in marketing for a small business owner is to understand how to set a marketing budget. Once that budget is set, be sure to understand that you need to spread those dollars out throughout the year. Don’t jump at every offer that walks in the door. Believe me, there will be plenty. Try to avoid long-term commitments. Far too often small business owners spend the majority of their marketing budget in the first 3 months upon opening. Make the right investments, start with CMS (Content Management System) website that is Search Engine Optimized and mobile friendly. Your website should be the hub of all your marketing activity, traffic from traditional or digital communication should all funnel through your site. Keep in mind, a well thought out budget along with a marketing plan greatly increase the chances that your marketing dollars will be spent more effectively.

For more ideas on how to get started, see this post “Stop Spending Without a Strategy“ that includes 10 Basic Steps to get you started with a marketing plan.

Megan Harris (@MHarrisWriter)

My biggest challenge is marketing myself locally and in person. I have a number of great clients, but the majority are in other cities and states. Sometimes, I even work with folks in other countries! I am not a very outgoing person, and marketing in person is difficult for me.

To challenge myself to do it more, I attended a business expo in my city this week and am trying to attend more events to meet people. I’ve made a number of connections via social media and I’m finding ways to meet more people. I think this will help me find more leads, meet other folks and get out of my shell.

What is YOUR biggest marketing challenge as a small business owner? Please leave a comment below!

5 Priorities Every Social Media Program Should Have

I want to start this post with a little bit of clarity by defining the term “Priority”. Webster’s say’s it is something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives. One thing I have learned in life is that no matter what comes out of your mouth, your actions will always follow your true priorities. You can say this or that are a priority, but if your actions show something else, you have a problem.

social media prioritiesOne reason that many newcomers to social media marketing lack priorities is not because of laziness or lack of desire, it is simply lack of knowledge – the understanding of what tasks actually need to have priority in their day.

Often times businesses struggle with not only understanding all the in’s and out’s of social media marketing, but more importantly where they should prioritize their time and efforts. This often results in new social media marketers over pitching what they do, or worse, giving up and abandoning their social media efforts. Let’s avoid both by listing the top five priorities your social media marketing efforts should focus on each day.

These are in no particular order of importance, however all of them should be given priority and attention daily.

1) Value – Provide value to your target audience.

Your daily focus should be to deliver selfless value to your target market. How can your social media marketing provide value to your audience? Answer that question without regard to what you do, what you sell, or the industry you are in. Answer and execute that question correctly and you will see huge results!

2) Content – Have enough content and the RIGHT content.

Think of social media as a freeway. All of the cars on the freeway are content, posts and articles. You have to have enough content on the road everyday that is relevant, valuable and interesting to your target audience. You need to make sure that whenever one of your fans, friends or followers step up to the side of the freeway throughout the day, they see one of your cars go by.

3) Be Human – People build relationships with other People.

A big mistake a lot of new social media marketers make is trying to mimic the big brands. For the most part, big brands SUCK at social media. They do not do it right and for many, they don’t have to. They have spent billions on branding and marketing well ahead of the social media boom, therefore it is just another channel. Everyone else needs to do it right if they want results!

You have to humanize your social media accounts. Most people connect and build relationships with other people. Can you really have a relationship with a logo of a company you don’t even know? Of course not. Be human and approachable.

4) Respond/Engage - Social media marketing is social.

You must make it a priority to respond to mentions, shares and comments immediately. When someone shares a post or mentions you in social media, they are available and active at that moment. You need to respond quickly in order to foster a conversation that leads to relationship. Waiting for once a day or an hour later is just too late. They have moved on, logged out or even lost interest. If you aren’t utilizing mobile apps to ensure you can consistently do this, it is not a priority to you.

You also need to have a priority of commenting, sharing and mentioning your target audience frequently. Relationships are two ways. Seek opportunity to benefit your prospects by sharing their content, engaging them in conversation or simply commenting on something they post.

5) Community – Build one.

Your social media marketing must have a priority focused on building a loyal community. That community must be large enough to be effective. Find your target audience and follow/friend them. Build it and they will come does not work in social media.

As you can see, social media is highly involved. Understanding the priorities you need to have on a daily basis is the difference between being IN social media and having an effective social media marketing program for your business.

What is your biggest priority in social media? Please leave a comment below!
 

6 Types of Clients You May Not Want to Work With, and How to Deal with Them

More than likely we all come from humble beginnings as workers on the web. We were eager beavers as well we should have been, and took any client that came through our email inbox. Our eyes were definitely on the prize and had tunnel vision for the final payment or building our portfolio. Then, it happens. Almost out of nowhere. The unhappy client. We sit and ponder to ourselves, ” I made them 20 design revisions,  they finally approved the design, developed the site to their 30 page scope of work, uploaded the site to their host ,cross-browser tested it even after they broke that plugin, gave them private training,  continued to edit the design, development,  cross-browser tested it again, and they are still charging me back the full amount in Paypal…WTF!!??”.

The bad news is sometimes there is no avoiding the potentially bad client. We can edit and email to the tenth degree and it still won’t be enough. Then again sometimes bad clients don’t come in just angry form. Sometimes they are as sweet as can bee but your email conversion will say 80+ emails and you haven’t even gotten to the design phase yet. The good news is we can pick who we decide to work with, and if we do work with them how to deal with them.

Let’s look at the 6 types of clients you may not want to work with and tips on how to deal with them:

#1 They Don’t Know What They Want or They Don’t Have a SOW ( scope of work)

At first this type of client is very easy going. In fact they can come across as a perfect client because they are all ears when it comes to your ideas and your imagination can run wild with ideas.  They are just as eager as you are and can be putty in your hands…in the beginning. However, indecisiveness can quickly turn into frustration and with it, revisions. Which can lead to “cha-ching” in your online invoicing system, but not something this type of client wants to hear. This client also has the potential to just all of sudden know what they want and this typically happens once you are over budget. You more than likely will spend most of your budgeted hours in the beginning part of a project not leaving enough to actually complete the project. The clients fire and excitement can turn to hostility as they have a tendency to think you may only be after their wallet when you have to confront them on budget. I find I never even charge enough for all my project management because they like to send A LOT of emails and it is hard to just turn on your timer for every email.

Tips on how to work with type of client: When quoting their project quote a number typically double of what you normally do. This can leave room in the budget to deal with all their indecisiveness and ever growing scope of work. This will save you in the long run and avoid any miscommunication. Try, if you can to write your own clear scope of work. That way when they start changing and adding new things you can always point back to the agreed scope of work.

#2 No Circle of Trust ( They have been wounded by a previous designer/developer)

As with any good relationship trust is a key component. Obviously this type of client you are going to get more often than not, because as is the nature of this line of work. They are highly suspicious of any ideas, edits, and ESPECIALLY your invoice. They will doubt you from beginning to end, and our site- sabotaging. Meaning, they sometimes doubt so much that their finished product can wind up looking less than portfolio worthy.

Tips on how to work with type of client: Score some brownie points by starting small if you can. Do a small project for them first for them to instill some trust in you and go over the top for them. They will need hand holding and lots of details. Keep very good records of your invoice details and revisions as they will want proof.

#3 High Expectations

This particular client comes in all forms especially nice and mean. Maybe they fell in love with you because of your portfolio but they want you to “wow them” too. These types come in amped about your work and expecting you to do ten fold for them because like the title says they have extremely high and more often than not unrealistic expectations. They will always expect that their project comes first, you have no life, and if you do not email them back within 1 hour you must be slacking. Sometimes this type of client has such high expectations that when you send over a first draft and it isn’t what they were expecting instead of working through revisions they become deflated and defeated and lose trust in you instantly turning all sweetness into sour. This client can be a real red flag when it comes to getting paid and a high Paypal chargeback rate.

Tips on how to work with type of client: Google them. Seriously! I had a client like this once and I didn’t Google him. Turns out he had previously been disbarred as a lawyer from working in any state in the United States. That was a learning experience! Check out what type of person they are and what their working history with other designers is. Maybe they have burned through 3 previous designers and developers and now you are their next victim. Try to gauge their personality and not just their project. Their personality will determine whether you can deal with their over the top expectations. Sometimes these projects can turn our beautifully because they can really push you as a designer and developer, but be aware it may be difficult to get there and it may not pan out.

#4 I Need it Yesterday

Ready, set, GO! This client needs a custom design, custom theme, ecommerce, SEO, migrate their site, plus all redirects done ASAP. You think, “ok, I’m up for the challenge!”. But wait, what was that little sentence at the bottom of the email? They need it in 1 week. You think “Cha ching”! I’ll just charge an expedited rate and no big deal. This my friends is a losing battle, because while this client seems like they have their ducks in a row that scope of work will undoubtedly change, and that ETA you both agreed on just got blown out of the water and now it is YOUR fault. This may fall into the high expectations clients, but they are different because they only have one goal in mind….Going Live.

Tips on how to work with type of client: Bend their deadline into something realistic and you can both agree on. Even in they say they need it in a week suggest you don’t want to sacrifice your quality of work, and that the quickest you can do is 2-3 weeks. Which brings me to the next point. Do a date delivery range that way when they come back with edits you can give yourself more time. If they do add to the scope of work just tell them immediately this will effect the deadline and get their approval before moving forward. Open communication with this type is crucial

#5 Tight Wallet

This type is a tough one. I myself am a fru-gal , but there comes a point when frugality can become flat out cheap . Big hat no cattle with this one and they will even try to barter or let you in on being a part of their new hip company. I did bargain once with a lawyer for services actually to deal with the guy from #3, and it was the the best deal ever, but 9 times out of 10 that won’t work out too well. Sometimes they even have the grand idea of making you do a sample for free to see if they want to hire you. In that case I point them to my portfolio.

Tips on how to work with type of client: Stick up for yourself, and tell yourself you are worth your rate. Emphasis your quality of work and let them know if they want to work with you then select a service they can afford. You will not do as good of a job if you know you are not getting paid what you are worth. If they want to work with you they will come up with the money, trust me. For every person who can’t afford you there is a person who can, so remember they are not the only work out there.

#6 Verbally and Emotionally Abusive

You may laugh at this types title, but really this does exist. Abuse in any form is not ok, and it can be draining. Sucking the life out of all the other projects, and can really strike down your creative ability. I had a client one time when I submitted a proposal answered back with the most vulgar email cuss words and all. I was quite shocked and I emailed her back ( yes, it was a woman!), and asked if that email was meant for me because it was uncharacteristic. She apologized and said she was having a bad day, but if I did that when I was having a bad day I wouldn’t be in business. I quickly withdrew my proposal and decided not to work with her. She begged me to work with her but I referred her somewhere else. Just imagine this was the very beginning stages. Just imagine how she would be once you were actually working together.

Tips on how to work with type of client: RUN!!! Honestly, don’t even put up with that type of behavior. Most people don’t act this way right off the bat, but there can be signs. Look again at their personality and Google them. If you  happen to have already started working with them you can always give them an ultimatum that if they act like that again you will discontinue work and keep the money you have already worked. This will do 1 of 2 things. #1 it will make them respect you and they will stop, or #2 they will freak out. Normally #2, but it can be a blessing to not have to continue working with them even if it costs you money, because it can keep you from working on other clients projects.

Conclusion:

If you may have noticed the theme in all my tips really boils down to honesty and communication. Something I talked about in my last post, How to Succeed with your WordPress Company. Just having clear scopes of work, communication, and honesty can help you avoid conflict with all these types of clients. Don’t beat yourself however if all your best efforts to resolve an issue fails. Sometimes you cannot please everyone, and that is ok.

Now, have a good laugh and read some client stories on Clients from Hell.