Is Your Website Leaving Money on the Table?

Is your website leaving money on the table?You know of course that who we choose to do business with is influenced by how much we know, like and trust someone.

And whilst there are things you can do on your website to build rapport and connection with a first-time visitor, very rarely will it be enough to convince someone to buy from you.

It means that if your website has no capability to capture names and email addresses, you’re only allowing yourself one bite of the cherry. As such, you’re almost definitely missing out on potential profits.

Build relationships and the sales will follow

So instead of trying to make a sale on that first encounter, think about what steps you can take to persuade a visitor to voluntarily enter into a relationship with you.

You see, once you have contact details, you have permission to enter into a person’s private email inbox. And if you can help and assist them by sending value content that addresses the pressing problems on their mind, who do you think they’ll be more likely to buy from when the time is right?

You can’t dictate to someone when it’s time to buy

Never forget that the buying decision and timescale lies firmly with your prospect. What’s more, no one likes to be sold to. Instead we like to feel in control and make decisions at our own pace.

However, you can stay on the radar of a prospect and influence their future buying choices by following-up with useful, relevant, interesting content and enticing special offers. But to do that, you need contact details…

Exchange contact details for a free, valuable giveaway

You’ll have to do a bit of work to get those all-important names and emails. After all, we’ve become more sceptical and resistant to joining “any old list” and it means the promise of yet another monthly eNewsletter is highly unlikely to hit the mark.

However a quality, well-pitched incentive that provides information your prospects would genuinely value, could. Which means it’s well worth investing the time and effort to create a free eBook, special report or a quality video series that is sufficiently intriguing to encourage website visitors to want to get their hands on it.

Then, armed with your incentive, your website will suddenly be transformed into a powerful lead generator and list builder for your small business.

In turn you’ll stop bleeding potential profits and instead get the contact details you need to build relationships with people who could eventually become your next customer.

Try it for yourself and see…

Here’s How to Get SERIOUSLY Good at the MOST Important Job in Your Business

20140117_135136Are you serious about growing your business?

If so, you need to remember one key thing…

“Business is all about the relationships your create and the people you interact with.”

It’s so true that people are more likely to buy from you if they know, like and trust you. And of the three, likeability is probably the most important.

Which means, part of your job as an ambitious business owner, is to raise your profile amongst your customer base and identify ways in which you can build your liveability, credibility and authority.

Believe me, this stuff is just far too important to leave to chance and most people don’t put in the time or effort needed to get this powerful machine working hard for them.

And that’s where it gets interesting – because if you do, it’s a sure-fire way to outsmart the competition…

Now I’ve been doing a lot of work recently with customers who want to create copy that supports a relationship-building strategy IN ADDITION to their traditional sales-based content. And it’s working.

Not only are they enjoying different types of conversations with their customers, they’re also boosting their authority and building customer loyalty.

Could any of these ideas work for you too?

What strategies will you use to build relationships?

To get you thinking, here are my three favourite ways to build a strong relationship foundation that can pave the way for future sales…

1.  Blogging

Blogging works as a relationship builder for a number of reasons:

  1. It transforms your website into a useful resource – as opposed to a pure sales pitch
  2. It provides content for social sharing (key for boosting your organic SEO rankings)
  3. Comments can initiate 2-way conversations with your readers
  4. The right knowledge can help position you as an expert in your chosen niche
  5. It’s an effective way to share a bit of your personality and become more real and approachable

But to be successful with your blog, you first need to know what you want your blog to achieve and do for your business and brand.

BIG HINT: it shouldn’t only be about making a sale.

Next, you need to decide your publishing routine. Once a week is good enough for most businesses – especially if you’re short on time.

Finally, take the time to plan an editorial schedule. You’ll be less effective if you publish on the hoof. It’s far better to work out a list of posts for the next month and then timetable them into your work plan so they actually get written.

2.  Email marketing

The fact is that most businesses don’t communicate with their customers nearly enough.

So tell me – what’s your excuse ;-)

Perhaps you’ve held back because you don’t want to be “annoying”, or maybe you just don’t have the time. But here’s the thing. If you show up in a sufficiently interesting way, and you get the balance right between the sales pitch and “value”/relationship building content, you’ll get far better results.

Email tends to be more intimate than a blog. And if you commit to sending value-added emails on a regular basis, you’ll stand out from all the other businesses who only get in touch when they have something to sell. In addition, these value emails are a powerful way to showcase your expertise and give your brand a bit of personality.

Autoresponder sequences are a really powerful tool that can reduce your workload and ensure you have an effective way to stay in touch with your audience – without having to do a thing (once you’ve written the series of course). If you want to see an example of this in practice, check out my 30 Days of Copywriting Love series. It’s FREE!

3.  Printed Newsletters

Kapow personalisation

Done well, printed newsletters are potentially THE most powerful tool you have at your disposal to build relationships with customers.

I’m doing a lot more work with customers these days who are reaping the rewards of creating kick-ass newsletters. Here’s an example of one I wrote for Print Guy.

And the key reason newsletters work is they’re NOT perceived as advertising. As a result your content is far more likely to be read.

Now you may be reluctant to even explore the newsletter concept. After all, they do take time to complete. However you can reduce your workload by working with a writer who can create the words for you. And you only need to start out small – perhaps four-sides of A4.

To succeed with a newsletter, it can’t be all “selly selly”. For example, if you do have a special offer to promote, add an insert instead of writing about it in the main publication. In addition, get the content right. If you publish rushed, poorly written articles, you could end up damaging your reputation instead of enhancing it.

If you want to learn more about how to create a newsletter, check out this Quick Start Newsletter Guide for Businesses from Newsletter Guy. It’s seriously awesome, and it’s FREE!

My challenge to you…

What else could you implement this month to nurture the relationships you have with your customers? Please let me know your successes by emailing georgina@gemwriting.co.uk or by leaving a comment below.

Good luck :-)

Here’s Why You Need To Take A Few Risks With Your Marketing

Slide1Last week, I was in Birmingham for an all-day event with around 500 other small business owners.

The afternoon session was led by a very interesting speaker called Casper Berry. As an ex-professional poker player, he did a fantastic and very thought-provoking presentation about risk taking, poker and the links to success in business.

His message was simple, but very powerful…

For lots of reasons, you need to take risks if you want to be successful.

That’s because, risks stretch your comfort zone and open up a realm of new possibilities.

What’s more, within the area of “acceptable risk” lies additional profits and benefits that you’ll never gain access to if you stay where you feel safe.

In fact, you could say that the greatest risk of all is being so risk averse, you don’t even attempt anything new that lies outside of your comfort zone. And if you do that, what could you be missing out on?

Now don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not suggesting that you be reckless. No no, that approach is dangerous.

Instead, I’m suggesting that you weigh up all the information available to you, and take a calculated risk based on what you know and what you predict the outcome could be. Or to say it another way,  ensure you understand the parameters and ensure you’ve weighed everything up before deciding if it’s the right thing for your business.

Understand the risk – and then benefit from being brave

It’s kind of like doing a skydive. Seriously scary if you’ve never done one before, and all your senses are telling you that it’s totally crazy to jump out of the plane into the unknown. But because you’ve weighed up the risks, the magic of the experience makes the free fall well worth it. And once you’ve done it once, you’ll probably want to do it again – PLUS your perspective of what you thought was possible, shifts forever.

For sure, not all the risks you take with your marketing will pay off. There is a chance you’ll misread the market or overlook something that’s important to your customers. In addition, you may get your message, angle or media totally wrong and therefore won’t generate the return that you hoped for. But let’s face it. Is a mistake really a mistake if you learn from it?

And on the other hand, if you break the mould and do something different from the standard expected in your industry, you’ll stand out.

And once you stand out, you have a chance of getting noticed, getting talked about and getting more customers.

And what impact could that have on your bottom line?

What’s holding you back?

I reckon if you continue to play it safe with your marketing and stick with what you know, you’re likely to get the same results you’ve experienced to date.

And whilst at this moment in time, those results might seem OK, you need to be aware that there will be competitors who will continually innovate.

It means if you don’t do something different,  you could lose your edge. Hey, it could even drive you insane :-)

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

What will you take on?

So as this year closes and you start planning your marketing plans for next year, I encourage you to make the decision to do something that stretches you a little.

  • Perhaps you could write a long-form sales letter and send it out by snail mail, instead of email
  • Maybe you could start a kick-ass printed newsletter and build relationships with your customers
  • Could you write a 30 day auto responder such as my 30 Days of Copywriting Love to ensure you stay on the radar of potential customers?

Whatever it is for you, push past your comfort zone and try something different.

It may be scary, it may go wrong, it may not work…

BUT, the alternative is that it could be the best thing you do for your business :-) How cool is that.

And if you get stuck, or if fear holds you back, read this powerful quote by Elbert Hubbard (this one is so good it’s pinned up on my office wall).

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid that you will make one.”

So tell me. What new marketing tactic could you try in your business? And if you have any questions, pop them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you :-)

Who Else Wants an Easy-Peasy Content Marketing Strategy?

BasingstokeYesterday, I was at Basingstoke with around 700 other small business owners getting inspired by the Entrepreneur’s Circle.

I love these events.

After all, when you work for yourself, it can get pretty isolating. And whilst the internet is a fantastic resource for hunting out new ideas, there’s nothing better than being in a room, sharing an experience with other like-minded people. As a little aside, big thanks to my mum who came with me to look after my little three-month-old boy! Otherwise the day away would have been impossible and I would have missed out :-)

Anyway, what always strikes me with events such as these, is the amount of ideas you come away with.

But mixed up with all the excitement, is a teeny-tiny bit of overwhelm as you wonder, “what the heck should I do first!

As a small business owner, organising your marketing plans to get them implemented is a key challenge – especially when you have budget and time constrains to think about.

Sales letters, blogs, newsletters, autoresponders, advert etc. Writing stuff so you can stay on your customers’ radar is super-important. But if you’ve got limited time and a limited budget, where on earth do you start?

If you’re struggling with just this question, unless you make a firm decision, you’ll either end up trying to implement too much at the same time and make a big hash of it OR get so tongue-tied and tangled, that you end up doing nothing. And that’s no good for anyone – especially your bottom line.

So what’s the solution?

Well, here’s an easy-peasy six-step strategy to help give you the clarity you need to get going – FAST…

1. Big picture thinking

The first step is to get clear on what you’re trying to achieve.

Try to visualise you and your business having already achieved your goal and you’ll know what’s most important to you. If it’s more sales, you need to focus on sales material. But if it’s more authority, you’ll want to invest more effort creating positioning and reputation-building content.

2.  Identify your options

Once you’ve got a big picture view of what you want to achieve, the next step is to concentrate on the detail. Let’s look at our two examples in turn:

If you want to boost sales, you could: 

  1. Create a compelling lead magnet to grow your list
  2. Create an autoresponder to stay on the radar
  3. Write some sales letters with a no-brainer offer to evoke desire and a deadline to create urgency
  4. Create some lumpy direct mail that encourages people to buy
  5. Create a landing page and direct traffic to it via social media and PPC

If you want to enhance your reputation, you could:

  1. Create a blog strategy and write about useful content on a regular, consistent basis
  2. Produce a monthly printed newsletter packed with useful content
  3. Guest blog on relevant sites to tap into a new audience
  4. Run a webinar or a Google hangout and tackle a key problem faced by your target customers
  5. Collect and use testimonials that prove you’re the “go-to” person in your niche

3. Organise your priorities

If you work by yourself, you’ll struggle to do all the above well.

So the next step is to look at your budget and your time constraints and decide which one thing is the domino.

What I mean by this is, which ONE thing do you think will have the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.

It could be:

  1. The one that is the fastest route to the money (which you can then invest into other things)
  2. The one that has the biggest leverage
  3. The one thing you can do right now
  4. The one thing you can get help with to make it happen faster

When you as this question, what you’ll often find is there in ONE thing on your list that can act as your accelerator to kick-start your progress. And once you’re going, you’ll create the momentum you need to take you towards your goals that much quicker.

4. Implement

Once you’ve decided where you’ll start, make it happen. If it’s sales letters to your existing list to promote a particular product, create the time in your schedule now when you will write them. In addition, decide a timescale. Without this, you’ll find the task will have a sneaky way of absorbing all the time that you give it!

In addition, don’t feel you have to do everything yourself. You may find it’s more cost-effective to get someone to help you, especially if writing is not your thing.

5. Reflect and review

Once you’ve implemented, you need to step back and review and reflect on what happened.

  • What results did you generate?
  • Did it work?
  • What would make it better for next time?
  • Is there something else you could try etc.

6. What next

By implementing one thing, you have taken a step closer.

  • You may have earned some money which will allow you to invest in something else on your list.
  • You may have made new connections which will open new doors
  • You may have raised your credibility and started new conversations

Whatever that may be, it’s now time to build on those successes and keep pressing forward. Yes, I know that it can feel relentless at times. It can also feel that you’re not getting anywhere because there is always more to do. BUT, remember this. Implementation is the secret that closes the gap. Getting stuff done is what’s going to take your business from where you are now to where you need to be.

What are you going to do?

As a business owner you have the freedom and flexibility to create anything you want. Simply tap into your creativity, ensure it benefits your customers and communicate your offer in a compelling way and anything is possible.

I’d love to know what you’re up to, so why not leave a comment below or drop me an email to georgina@gemwriting.co.uk.

You rock!

How Many Times Should You Advertise?

Bizarre number setLet’s start with a question to answer this question…

How often do you buy a service from someone you’ve met for the first time?

I reckon the percentage is pretty small. And usually it’s because:

  1. It’s not the right time OR
  2. You don’t know, like or trust the person enough.

However, I find that many small businesses owners get really frustrated that their ad hoc press ad or leaflet drop hasn’t worked. For sure, advertising and marketing can be expensive, BUT you have to set realistic goals and understand how your target customer makes their buying decisions. And more often than not, you’ll need to make contact with someone a lot more than once before they open their wallet.

Despite this, many small businesses continue to rely on “buy now” marketing. Their enquires run dry, they panic and address the problem by launching an advertising campaign designed to attract some hot leads.

And sure, this reactive approach will get results – but if it’s your main form of advertising, you’re missing a HUGE trick.

That’s because proactive marketing can be far more effective at attracting a constant stream of fresh enquiries to your business. And the way to do that is to use relationship building or content marketing.

Let me explain…

Buy now v slow burn

Buy now advertising usually relies on traditional interruption marketing techniques – for example, PPC ads, leaflets and billboards.

The problem is, as consumers, we’re more immune to this approach. After all, people don’t want to be sold to – they want the freedom and space to make informed decisions in their own time.

In comparison, content marketing is non-invasive. And most importantly it doesn’t rely on a one-off, desperate attempt to close the deal! Instead it promotes the regular publication of useful, relevant and interesting content to build a relationship (over time) with the right type of person.

Sure you’ve got to be patient. BUT here’s what happens. Instead of your marketing efforts heading for the bin, you’ll find you can open discussion with people. What’s more, if you can solve problems, entertain and enter the conversations already happening in your prospects head you’ll draw people to you through choice.

And yes, it can take longer to convert someone BUT it works. And here are three reasons why:

  • You become a welcome guest
  • You’ll build your know, like, trust factor.
  • And, when your customer is ready to buy, (hopefully) you’ll be front of mind.

This approach is NOT new…

Very rarely is a one-shot approach enough. And this understanding is nothing new. Check out this great article written by Thomas Smith way back in 1885. Yes, it may be 120 years old, but it’s highly relevant now and sheds some light on why content marketing is such a great strategy to adopt.

  1. The first time people look at any ad they don’t even see it
  2. The second time, they don’t notice it
  3. The third time, they are aware that it is there.
  4. The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before
  5. The fifth time, They actually read the ad.
  6. The sixth time, they thumb their nose at it
  7. The seventh time, they start to get irritated by it.
  8. The eighth time, they start to think “here’s that confounded ad again
  9. The ninth time, they start to wonder if they may be missing out on something.
  10. The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbours if they have tried it.
  11. The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for these ads.
  12. The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
  13. The thirteenth time, they start to think the product has value.
  14. The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time
  15. The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
  16. The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy some in the future.
  17. The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product
  18. The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.
  19. The nineteenth time, they count their money carefully.
  20. The twentieth time, prospects see the ad, they buy what is offered.

To summarise, the underpinning message is make more contact, follow-up more times and increase your chances of a prospect becoming a customer.

How to apply this in practice?

The key to making this approach work for you is to look at the different stages of your sales funnel – and then figure out what content is needed to move people further along. For example, you could:

  1. Attract your ideal customer with compelling blog content.
  2. Capture prospect contact details with a free eBook.
  3. Stay on their radar, follow-up and nurture the relationship with an auto responder.
  4. Convert prospects to customers through direct mail containing a “no-brainer” offer.
  5. Encourage repeat business by staying in touch with printed newsletters.

In truth there is stacks you could try. You simply need to take a fresh look at your approach. And whilst content creation can be hard work, you’ll find that, done well, you’ll create a framework that makes the selling much easier.

What do you think?

How do you focus on attracting the right customer?  How have you used content marketing to grow your business? What strategies have worked for you? Please let me know in the comments below.

Are You Using This Cost Effective Lead Generator In Your Business?

Holding Out Twenty Pound NotesDo you wonder why some business owners can turn a new product or service into a flourishing success whilst others struggle to get the phone to ring?

I believe the answer lies in the quality of their list and the way they’ve interacted with it over time.

If you’re anything like me there are probably a small number of people (clients excluded) whose emails always get read. And the reason is simple. It’s because they’ve proven to me, over time, that what they have to say is worth my attention. I know that if I read, I’ll learn something valuable, be entertained or find out about a product or service that’s relevant to my business goals.

These people have my attention and if they offer me something that’s relevant and of value to me, I’m likely to invest.

You know of course that this is a powerful place to be.

But this level of likeability, trust and authority didn’t happen overnight. In fact, quite the opposite. Instead the people who are able to cut through and grab my attention on a consistent basis have done the hard work to make the selling easy. In short, they’ve invested the time and effort needed to create a relationship where I benefit – and as such I’m listening.

It’s why relationship marketing is so effective and why persuading a loyal tribe to take notice of you is so valuable. 

And it all starts with your list

Let me explain…

You can’t build the level of trust I’ve just described unless you take communication into the private domain.

For sure you can talk in your blog comments, on your Facebook page and other social media platforms, but you won’t get the same quality of interaction unless you can strike up a personalised, 121 conversation.

And to do that you need at least an email address, preferably a name and eventually a physical address and phone number. And this requires upfront work.

So how do you convince people to join your list?

You’ve probably figured out you can’t rely on simply inviting people to join your list. You’ve got to work harder than that :-)

And that’s where a free eBook can work as a powerful incentive and lead generator to collect the contact details of your customer avatar.

But what should your eBook look like? Let’s take a look at what you need to consider…

The anatomy of the perfect eBook

1.  Nail your headline:

The sole function of your headline is to attract attention and encourage your target audience to want to find out what’s inside.  You’ll get the best results if you choose a topic that’s of interest to your customer avatar. It means you’ve got to have a pretty good handle on the questions and problems these people are tackling. So do your research. Read your blog comments. Take note of the questions you get asked and have a good scout around other blogs and forums where your customers could be hanging out.

2. Figure out your purpose:

Get clear on why you’re creating the eBook. The eBook must contain valuable information but it doesn’t need to be a definitive guide to solving all your customers problems! Instead it should serve to build the foundations for a relationship. In short, you want the reader to conclude that you actually know what you’re talking about, you seem quite likeable and trustworthy.

3. Decide how you will follow up:

It’s a mistake to supply an eBook – and then do nothing.

You’ll get much better results if you work out your communication strategy for converting a prospect into a customer. And there are countless options for doing this. For example:

  • Link an eBook sign-up to an auto responder sequence. 
  • Send a follow up “can’t resist that” offer – this will work better if it has some relevance to the eBook content.
  • Invite your list to sign-up for your printed newsletter.
  • Embrace the power of email marketing (but get the balance right between sales content and relationship building messages). 
  • And NEVER underestimate the power of direct mail.

4. Make sure your eBook is interesting, relevant and useful:

OK, this might be stating the obvious but don’t be tempted skimp on this crucial part. It’s not enough to have an eBook. It’s got to be a good eBook! In fact if the content is rubbish you’re better off not bothering. That’s because poorly written eBooks that disappoint your target customer can actually undermine your relationship and damage your authority.

So if you know you’ll struggle to get your eBook written in a way that will captivate and engage your audience, consider hiring a copywriter. (Here comes the plug…) You can check out my eBook writing service here.

Work hard up front and make the selling easy

Let’s be really clear. It’s very unlikely your website will sell your service the first time someone visits.

After all, a large number of visitors will be in the research or browse stage. In fact, they’ve probably stumbled upon you after spotting a compelling blog headline float past in their Twitter stream. They simply don’t know, like or trust you enough – YET.

So make the first step in nurturing your “know, like, trust” factor really easy and persuade the right people onto your list with your eBook. You could discover it’s the secret lead generation key that will open a whole new level of contact with your potential customers. And as you know, if you build the relationship first, the sales will follow :-)

So isn’t it time you got one?

P.S: I’ve discovered the reason most business owners don’t create a free eBook incentive is because they simply lack the time or the skills to create one. Don’t let this reason hold you back and instead commission me to write the content for you. Just imagine, it could be the missing link that’s causing you to miss out on lots of sales. To find out more about my professional eBook writing service simply click here.

Warning: Are You Giving Up On The Sale Too Soon?

Business person against technology backgroundAs you know sales are the lifeblood of your business –  and without a steady stream of fresh enquires your cash flow will suffer.

Despite this, securing a sale NOW should not be your sole focus. Instead you need to invest your energy in finding and then keeping customers. And whilst this approach requires more patience and longer-term planning, your business will reap the rewards in the end.

That’s because it’s rare for people to buy the first time they stumble across you. And there are lots of reasons for this resistance.

  • Perhaps you offer a service they think they don’t need.
  • Maybe that networking event wasn’t enough to properly suss you out.
  • It may even be a matter or budget or poor timing that means there’s no chance of a deal being on the table.

However, that doesn’t mean they will never buy from you.

So when it comes to marketing your business, it’s not enough to promote your product or service. You also need to focus on building a relationship between you and the prospects who fall within your customer avatar description.

A focus on relationship building is crucial for your success

People are more likely to do business with someone they like. So whilst your product / service is important, as a small business owner YOU are also a key part of the equation. In fact, how potential customers feel about you will influence their buying decisions.

If there’s no relationship, it will be far more difficult to persuade someone to buy. In comparison, if a prospect feels some sort of connection with you, they will be a lot more responsive to what you have on offer.

Here’s what having a relationship with your customers can open up for your business…

  1. You build the know, like, trust factor.
  2. You create a personality that makes you real.
  3. You start to position yourself as an authority in your chosen field.
  4. You become the expert that people go to for advice and information.
  5. You can subtly enter the conversations that are already happening around your customer’s kitchen table.
  6. You can enter into 2-way conversation with people.
  7. You start to emerge from the crowd and differentiate yourself from the competition.
  8. You become a welcome guest instead of an annoying salesperson.
  9. You can become worth knowing because you add value.

What’s more, over time, you could become the only buying choice when the customer is ready.

What strategies can create a relationship?

So we’ve established building a relationship with your prospects is a very smart thing to do. Unfortunately relationships don’t happen by accident. What’s more, you’ll need to put in most of the leg-work. But fortunately there are lots of relatively easy things you can do to encourage your target customer to turn to you.

1.  Blog

Blogging is still relevant (when done with strategy) and here’s why:

  • A blog provides visitors to your website with something other than a sales pitch to read.
  • Well written articles can position you as an expert and an authority.
  • You can start a dialogue in the comments.
  • You allow website visitors a glimpse into your personality and your style.
  • If you publish regularly, you’ll train and encourage “fans” to return for more.

In addition, Google rewards websites that offer up fresh, relevant content by ranking them higher. In short if you’re not blogging, you’re missing out :-)

2.  Write a free, valuable eBook and give it away

Whilst blogs are great for positioning, it’s difficult to build a meaningful connection with someone through commenting and social media shares alone. The next step to a more intimate relationship is to get into someone’s inbox.

Now this is not as easy as it sounds. People are becoming more and more reluctant to share their email address which means you need to offer up a valuable incentive. A free eBook that tackles a common customer problem, shares valuable information (that goes beyond what you offer on your blog) or describes some quality hints and tips can be highly persuasive. And the result? You start to build a list of prospects who you know already like your style.

3.  Stay in touch with email and newsletters

Once you have an email address, you can start to build a relationship on a more personalised level through email and printed newsletters. Create a strategy. Communicate frequently, be interesting and add value. When people actively look forward to seeing you show up, you know you’ve cracked it.

4. Invite feedback and initiate 2-way conversations

Many businesses fall into the trap of filling their prospects inboxes with sales pitches. Do this and you’ll risk customers tuning out and unsubscribing. Instead:

  • Start conversations.
  • Get people thinking.
  • Be useful and helpful.
  • Ask what people think.
  • Ask how you can help etc.

Do this and customers won’t hear you as someone’s who’s trying to sell. Instead they’ll label you as someone who genuinely wants to help and who can add value to their business. It’s a far more effective approach.

5. Make timely offers

Now don’t lose sight of the fact that you want to make a sale. After all we’re talking about business, not a hobby! What’s more, you have something of value to offer to prospects and you want to be rewarded in return. So in amongst your value communication, do invite people to buy through targeted offers with a deadline that encourage action NOW.

What do you think?

How do you build relationships with customers? What’s worked best for you? Please let me know in the comments below.

7 Content Marketing Tips For Coaches And Alternative Health Practitioners

Clients buying habits are changing.

But has your business responded to this new trend?

As a result, content marketing is becoming an essential tool in your marketing toolbox. And if you’re not sure what content marketing is, here’s a quick definition:

Content marketing involves the creation and publication of FREE quality information which your target audience finds useful, relevant and interesting.

So what’s changed?

Before a client picks up the phone to call you, they are likely to have done some research first.

This probably involves finding out a bit about you (it’s why your About page, linkedIn profile, twitter timeline is so important). But perhaps most interestingly, they will also have done some research in and around the service they are intending to buy.

Let’s say you’re a coach, a hypnotherapist, a massage therapist or a reflexologist.

Before a customer decides to book a treatment with you, they will probably search the web to discover answers to their questions. Things like:

  • How can coaching help me build my self esteem?
  • Can hypnotherapy really help me to quit smoking?
  • What are the advantages of having a weekly massage treatment?
  • Will reflexology help me to manage my stress?

And if they find quality information that answers their questions that’s been published by you, suddenly your chances of getting selected over your competition increase – significantly.

Sounds good?

Then read on and I’ll show you how to use this powerful marketing technique in your own practice.

What should you publish?

Content marketing can take many forms. The key is to let your creativity run loose and then test your idea against the needs of your perfect customer. Here are 7 ideas to get you started:

1. Write a regular blog.

A regular blog is a fantastic way to drive traffic to your website, find more customers and establish authority in your niche. But to achieve tangible results with your blog, you’ll need a strategy and a calendar of topics to write about.

Here are ten headline ideas to get you started:

  1. Ten Top Tips For Tackling The day-to-Day Stress In Your Life
  2. 5 After Care Tips To Help Maintain The Effects Of Your Reflexology Treatment
  3. Simple Ways To Boost Your Chances Of Quitting For Good
  4. Warning: Is Your Self-Critic Undermining Your Chance Of Success?
  5. 20 Heartwarming Quotes That Leave You Uplifted On A Bad day
  6. The Zen Of Quitting Smoking With Hypnotherapy
  7. The 7 Warning Signs You Really Need To Manage Your Stress
  8. How To Take Charge Of Your Internal Critic Once And For All
  9. 10 Surprising Reasons Regular Massage Could Improve your Wellbeing
  10. Revealed: How To Spot A Fake Coach / Therapist

2. Create a free download and grow your subscriber list

With a free eBook, download or a series of videos based around a topic that appeals to your target audience, you’ll have a powerful incentive to grow your email list. If you don’t have a capture form in place to collect email addresses of people who have visited your website, you are seriously missing out.

Fix it today and brainstorm topic ideas for your freebie. And if you’d like to see an example, simply click here.

3. Script a video for your home page

People are more likely to work with you once they get to know, like and trust you.

This is even more true with complementary therapies where you’ll be working quote intimately with an individual. Treatments such as massage involve physical touch whilst during hypnotherapy, NLP and coaching, an individual is likely to let go and reveal their inner thoughts and feelings.

In order for the client to feel comfortable, they have to get a good feeling from you.

A short introductory video where you introduce yourself, talk about the treatment you offer and answer some common questions is a really powerful and effective way to showcase your whole personality. Through a video, potential clients can pick up on your body language, hear your tone of voice and get a far better impression of what you would be like on a 121 basis. It could make the difference between a phone call and a look elsewhere.

4. Create an auto responder sequence

In some cases a client may have demonstrated an interest by signing up to your email list, but they are not yet ready to buy. This could be for lots of reasons. Perhaps they don’t have the cash, or maybe they lack the confidence to get in touch.

But once you’ve collected someone’s email address you can start to interact with them and build a relationship. An email autoresponder is a really effective way of doing this. An autoresponder is simply a sequence of emails that a person receives once they’s set the trigger (for example when they sign-up for your free download).

It means each new subscriber receives your sequence of emails in exactly the same sequence and time as anyone else.

Autoresponders do require some work up front, but once they’re created they ensure you stay on potential client’s radar.

The secret is to figure out what to say, you could:

  • Reveal a bit more about you
  • Encourage them to follow you on Twitter and like you on Facebook
  • Invite them to tell you what they’re struggling with right now (great for market research)
  • Send them a special offer
  • Offer some top tips related to the treatment you offer that only subscribers receive

The key is to set your autoresponder up as a sequence. And if you’d like to see an autoresponder in practice, simply sign-up to my mailing list.

5. Write a guest blog

If you’re looking to grow your audience and establish the authority of your website, writing a series of guest posts can really pay off. Identify the key sites in your particular niche and start to establish a relationship with the blog owner. You can do that through social media and by leaving comments on their blog. Then think of a cracking article idea and pitch them.

If your article is published, not only will you benefit from tapping into a new audience, but in terms of SEO, you’ll also benefit from the link.

6. Chicken Soup For The Soul

Have you read the heartwarming Chicken Soup For The Soul by Jack Canfield?

Stories of success and accomplishment against the odds appeal to human nature and fill everyone with hope. It’s true to say that within your practice you’ll have powerful anecdotes and stories to tell of people who have overcome obstacles and experienced better health as a result of your treatments.

The real stories of your existing clients will directly appeal to your target market – and hearing from a satisfied customer is infinitely more powerful than anything you could say.

So subject to client confidentiality and client permission, could you create your own heartwarming book of success stories?

7. Create an amazing, out of the ordinary aftercare “pin up”

After care advice can add value to your treatment. So why not invest some time and creativity and develop something that little bit special to give to clients after a session. It could be:

  • A series of your favourite uplifting or motivational quotes
  • Affirmations and a calendar to tick off smoke free, stress free (etc) days
  • Top ten things to do at home to stay calm and relaxed after a reflexology or massage treatment
  • A journal for clients to record their thoughts and feelings containing little nudges and reminders

Ensure you brand whatever you choose to create because you never know…

As well as adding value to your client, these little extras could be just the type of thing they talk about with their friends. And as you know these type of conversations are a hot breading ground for referral business.

Over to you

How do you use content marketing in your alternative health business? Which of these ideas could you use to attract new clients? Please let me know in the comments below.

Here’s Why Your Micro Business Must Become A Publisher (Like It Or Not)

Have you noticed there’s a new tone in todays business?

In this new age of social media, content marketing and the internet explosion, the way people buy services has changed… for good.

These are challenging times. But for those smart micro business owners who adapt and respond to the new world where the customer is firmly in charge, the rewards are plenty.

But how do you do that?

You need to think like a publisher.

In short that involves creating and curating quality content that’s relevant, engaging and helps your prospective customer at the place they’re at.

This may be a scary thought. The idea of being a publisher may take you out of your comfort zone and you could be left wondering how on earth you can fit that in along with everything else you currently juggle.

But dismiss the opportunity at your peril.

You see, customers now demand a whole lot more than a simple description of your services.

They expect information, advice and knowledge to inform their decision making and to help them decide who to work with.

In this new age, your target customer will research before they enquire, and if you don’t provide the information they are looking for,  you’ll miss out.

So let’s take a closer look at what becoming a publisher actually involves…

Tie it to your business model

Your customer can afford to be more demanding.

They are less likely to respond to traditional interruption marketing. In fact, it can actually be a big turn off. Instead the customer wants information and solid proof that you know what you are talking about.

They want to work with an expert who talks their language, who understands their needs and and who has the know, like, trust factor.

Here’s how content can contribute to your business model:

  1. Content attracts customers – they’re researching anyway long before they buy. Be in it to win it :-)
  2. Offer free content – see it as your marketing, not just waste of time freebies. After all the right content can be a powerful front end hook for the services you provided.
  3. Build your brand and authority status – Customers want proof before they buy that you know their stuff. Use well placed content to prove your expertise.
  4. Generate income – publish the right content, and you’ll make it easier for customers to choose you over your competitors.

Publish content that stands out

For sure this simple statement conceals a very tricky act.

Publishing content that hooks and engages your target customer is not easy. It takes time, attention and commitment. Unfortunately many micro businesses mistake quantity over quality. They pump out anything and put a tick beside their content strategy.

But here’s the issue. The Internet is swamped with “quality” content. In fact, if you post something new today you’ll compete with over “1.5 billion new pieces of content, more than 200 million tweets and 1.5 million new YouTube videos” (source: Jeff Bullas).

If you want to stand out amongst that lot you have to:

  • Get close to your ideal customer so you say the right things
  • Grow a passionate audience of fans who want to read your content
  • Build the authority of your website through quality links
  • Be interesting, relevant, useful, engaging, different…

Publish the right content

Again this isn’t easy. And I can’t give you a straight answer here because what you create depends on who you customers are and what they are looking for.

It goes back to getting intimately connected with your target customer. In addition to knowing their age, gender, occupation and lifestyle, you have to figure out what motivates and drives them? What keeps them up at night? What they are looking for? And to do that you have to ask. Set up interviews. Search social media. Trawl blog comments. Listen at networking meetings. I can’t tell you just how important this stuff is.

That said here are three strategies you can use to get you started.

  1. Blog. Pick the five most pressing problems your customers face and write a series of blog posts that solves them. List and how to headlines work well.
  2. Create an incentive such as a free eBook or download that entices potential customers to subscribe to your email list. Email subscribers are like gold dust. They enable you communicate to prospects through their inbox and build stronger relationships.
  3. Create an autoresponder.This is simply a series of emails that gets sent out in a prescribed sequence. Use it to build contact with people who have shown an interest in your service and turn a warm lead into a hot one.

Read this before you take action

If you are to become successful with publishing you need to do it with strategy.

Please don’t rush off after reading this post and create a random blog.

You see if you don’t have direction, you’ll soon run out of stream and get frustrated that your efforts didn’t pay off.

If you are to benefit as a publisher, you have to be in it for the long-haul. It takes time to:

  • Figure out the type of content you need to publish
  • Lay down a network of quality information
  • Attract a readership to discover you
  • Convert an audience into paying customers

But if you do, your business will reap the rewards.

Careful planning prevents (um) poor performance

Careful planning of your content will pay off in the long run. Don’t rush into publishing blind. Instead figure out your approach first. These questions will help.

  1. What do you want your publication strategy to achieve (e.g. more email sign-ups, more followers, comments, customers?) Get specific with how you will measure your results. That way you can monitor your progress and figure out what you need to tweak along the way.
  2. Decide how often will you publish and plan time into your schedule. And if you don’t feel you have enough time, read this book.
  3. Research the topics your customers want to learn about.
  4. From this identify themes and topics and turn these into blog post titles, eBook ideas, email letter themes etc.
  5. Plan a publication schedule. Don’t make this haphazard, instead figure out the journey you want your reader to take.
  6. Take action. You won’t see results until you actually get stuff out there and learn from how your audience responds.

What do you think?

I get it. Becoming a publisher requires a new way of thinking about your business. But increasingly it’s becoming a necessity.

So what’s putting you off? What benefits can you see to this approach? Please let me know in the comments below.

P.S: If one of the turn-offs is you have no idea where to start or you don’t have the time, skill or inclination to create content, I can help. Why not contact me to discuss my copywriting, content marketing consultancy or ghost blogging services. I’d love to hear from you.

Are These The Seven Most Important Aspects Of Your Blog Writing?

Why did you start your business blog?

  • Were you seduced by the promise of lucrative benefits?
  • Did you see it as an opportunity to position yourself as an authority in your niche?
  • Perhaps you understood that one of the best ways to make a sale is by helping.

Whatever your reason, if you want results from blogging you must hone your technique.

If you don’t, you won’t attract visitors, you’ll feel like you’re wasting your time and eventually you’ll abandon your blog as a lost cause.

Scary stuff…

The alternative is to ensure you’ve thought about these seven factors each time you publish.

1.    Nail your headline:

Your headline is the most read part of your blog.

  • It’s the words a potential reader will use to decide if they’ll take a closer look.
  • It’s your tactic for getting noticed in that accelerating Twitter timeline.
  • It’s the detail that determines the extent to which influencers and followers will share and link back to your content.

If your headline is dull, contains no real benefit and doesn’t incentivise your reader to click through, you’ve had it. Worse still, regardless of how good the actual post is, if the headline fails so will your hard work.

2.    Write for your audience:

A blog that doesn’t understand its target audience is doomed.

Who are you writing for?

  • What age, gender, occupation, lifestyle etc.
  • What are your readers looking for?
  • What problems are keeping them up at night?
  • What social media channels do they use?
  • What do they want to achieve?
Once you have a reader avatar, you’ll be able to write your posts as if you are talking directly to that one person.
Try it and see how it transforms your blogging power.

3.  Be useful, relevant and interesting:

People will audition your blog to discover “what’s in it for me?

They expect ideas, insights, inspiration, knowledge and possibly entertainment.

And that means you have to write about the things that interest and matter to your audience. If you don’t, you’re wasting your time.

So as well as getting really good at writing a blog. You have to get good at researching for your blog.

Try these 7 proven ideas:

  1. Search social media platforms and discussion groups to get ideas about what your audience are struggling with.
  2. Google a keyword or phrase followed by “FAQ” or “top problems”.
  3. Delve into your comments to see what readers are saying (alternatively if your comments are slim, visit other blogs in your niche and see what readers are saying there).
  4. Ask your audience. You can use a blog post, or email subscribers for feedback or to request interviews.
  5. Read widely in and around your subject area to stay inspired. That’s books, blogs, magazines, news etc. It will help keep you sharp, relevant and current.
  6. Check out question sites like Quora.com for insightful questions which you could answer on your blog.
  7. Keep your ear close to the ground when networking and hone in on the questions and problems your peers are tackling.

4.  Show your personality:

People will read your blog because of you.

Your personality and individuality are two of your biggest advantages because there is no one else who does what you do in exactly the same way. So milk it :-)

Be a shade braver. Don’t hide behind a faceless brand. Instead allow a little more of yourself to shine through.

Here’s how…

  • Display your picture in a prominent position
  • Give concrete examples of how you have helped
  • Convey your unique tone and tell your story
  • Help readers to like you

5.  Have intention:

Whilst your blog should be designed to help your readers, it should also link into your overall content marketing strategy.

Think about:

  1. Why are you writing this post?
  2. How will this post benefit your business?
  3. Will this post help grow your authority?
  4. Does it have the potential to entice shares?
  5. Will it help you learn more about your market?
  6. Does it help generate interest in your products and services?

If your posts are random and lack strategy, you’ll confuse readers and end up with a messy, untidy, undirected blog that’s difficult to navigate.

The best blogs are those that add significant value to readers whilst helping you grow and develop a successful business. What does yours do?

6. Entice a response:

One of the most exciting benefits of a business blog is it offers you the chance to engage in a 2-way conversation with your audience.

So don’t perceive your blog as a one-directional marketing tool. The magic happens when readers get involved and take action and your job is to actively encourage it.

  1. Entice comments by asking questions and encouraging replies.
  2. Proudly display a selection of social share buttons and ask people to spread the word if they liked what they read.
  3. Boost your email subscribers by offering a tasty free download or other incentive.
Then, when people make the effort to communicate with you, show engagement. Always reply to comments. Show appreciation on social media and add value to people who have subscribed to you by sending out additional (useful) content. An autoresponder is great for this.

7. Promote

You can’t rely on simply publishing “great” content to get your blog noticed.

The Internet is drowning in quality information which means you need to take action if you want to attract more readers. Here are three ideas:

  1. Use Twitter to promote your posts. Tweet your link at intervals during the day to maximise exposure, and explore a different lead each time.
  2. Get connected. Build a network of supporters around you who will help promote your posts. It’s the quickest way to get more readers.
  3. Guest blog on relevant authoritative sites and use the opportunity to attract more readers back to your blog.

What have I missed?

Blogging is a super smart tool that micro business owners can use to create traction with their business. The only downside is it takes time, attention and a lot of hard work.

But when you get it right – the results are well worth it.

What do you think is most important when writing your blog? What aspects of your blog writing do you give the most attention to? Please let me know in the comments below.

And if you’d like a hand getting your blog on track, simply click here.