Category Archives: Business Systems

Perfect Customer Flow—The “Big Picture”

I had a big “ah ha” about this and realized I should share it. This is an example of something I’ve known about and used as the big “why” for some recommendations I make to clients—except I haven’t been sharing this particular “why” piece. This is all about marketing, a big “turn off” to some, but if you are in business to make money (!) then it is one of those realities that it helps to understand.

1. The process starts with attracting people to your site. This can be done with blog posts, reports, special offers—basically whatever “freebie” you can fulfill easily that is also desirable to your people.
2. The next step is to capture the contact information from site newcomers. This is where the opt-in form on your website comes in, with language inviting them to submit their information in exchange for the incentive you have offered.
3. At this point having an autoresponder starts to become very helpful. You can create a “nurture campaign” with automated, even personalized, follow-up messages. This helps with getting your people to “know, like and trust” you. We all prefer to do business with those we are familiar with. As with social media posts, it is possible to schedule these in advance.
4. As you develop new products or services, or perhaps a special offer or an event, you are now in a better position to convert people (“prospects”) into customers.
5. You then provide them with the purchased product or service and a positive customer experience.
6. From here on the nurture process continues, encouraging them to think of your business as the “go to” source for your niche. You can then come up with new ways to serve them.
7. The final step is to encourage testimonials and recommendations. The best customers are the ones who have been referred to you by someone they already know, like and trust. You benefit from their social endorsement. An option is to have a reward policy for the clients who provide you with new referrals. This can be in the form of a Starbucks card, a discount on services, really the possibilities are endless. It’s a way for you to say “thank you” and to make that client feel appreciated.

To your business success!

Autoresponders Are Your Friend

Have you ever signed up for something online and then immediately received a follow-up email? Welcome to the world of autoresponders. They enrich the user experience by making the web more interactive and, in the case of a small business, they help to reassure those who opt in for your products or services that there’s someone on the other end of that button they clicked alternative viagra avis.

Many online services offer autoresponders—Constant Contact, MailChimp and InfusionSoft are examples. The basic process is for someone to fill out a form on your website, offering something like a free CD, a teleseminar or a newsletter signup. After they click “submit” an email acknowledging them appears in their inbox. There is usually a short message thanking them for signing up, along with an explanation of what comes next—the shipment of a package, another confirmation email, the details of when a webinar will be held… But that’s just what the site visitor sees.

On the back end, the real beauty of a service with an autoresponder is that each person who fills out the form gets added to a database holding all of your contacts. This is also referred to as your list. This eliminates added steps like manually adding them to your Contact list in your email client because it is all done automatically, saving your time over and over again. Once their name is in your database it is possible to send other messages, or even initiate a bulk mailing, all with the objective of nurturing your contact list for the future. Pretty cool, huh?

To your business success!

Have you ever heard of a “VA” and wondered what it was?

It’s a best kept secret! Most small business owners have their hands full and are often in constant scramble mode. This is particularly true if you are new in your business. This can lead to perpetual long hours, disorganization, things falling through the cracks and potential burnout. Not a pretty picture.

Some of us are lucky enough to have family members or willing friends who can be pressed into service. There is also the possibility of arranging for a college intern. This requires it’s own form of organization. Still another possibility is finding a high school student who will work for minimum wage. This brings up the issues of training and trusting someone in your space, etc.

For those of us who need a better option, allow me to introduce the concept of a “virtual assistant” and how this can give you some leverage. Envision a person (or one with a team) who have made it their business to provide support services for business owners like you. They already know how to deal with contact management, social marketing, setting appointments, transcribing notes, making travel arrangements, doing research, cleaning up email, putting together a newsletter…

The point is they can do all of the things that are slowing you down and keeping you from spending more time actually doing business. Since this is their specialty they will do it better and faster than most of your other options. Yes, you need to pay them, but the money will be well spent. No need to train them or micromanage, and if you don’t have work for them they just move on to help the next client. They usually have monthly packages where you can commit to needing them for a set number of hours per month. The one thing they can’t do (unless they are local) is to come in and help with things on site like filing.

The next time you are wishing you had a clone, consider how much it is costing you to not have help.

To your business success!

What Would Make Your Life Easier?

The other day my search for a better contact form for mobile websites led me to one that is an object lesson in how one person’s ideal solution can be another’s overwhelm. What started out to be a simple contact form turned out to have a ‘laundry list’ of added features: along with the more standard option of hooking into an autoresponder, it can

  • initiate a video conference call between you and the sender,
  • record the call,
  • hook into your online schedule and synchronize with your desktop calendar allowing visitors to set appointments,
  • collect payments—
  • and those are just the highlights.

Does this add up to feature bloat or perfection?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and understanding your own needs is where we all need to start.

Consider what parts of your business and life are tolerations and stuck spots. Do you end up playing tag with your clients a lot just to set appointments? Are you trying to find a way to migrate from a paper planner to a digital one—or keeping both and having things drop through the cracks? Is your personal email getting cluttered with clients and business messages?

Spotting the trouble spots is the first step to being open to the discovery that there are solutions to be had. Changes don’t have to be scary or bad—sometimes they can be sanity savers.

To your business success!