Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Relationship Marketing

Strong customer relationships are essential for your business if you desire to increase sales and generate a positive brand reputation. Customers frequently recognize their relationships with businesses similar to personal connections. In analyzing whether customers looking for relationships with businesses actually desired a genuine personal relationship with the business, it was found that a majority of business-to-customer (B2C) relationships were inauthentic when contrasted with genuine person-to-person relationships.[1]

The foundation of relationship marketing includes four essential elements of relationships that include commitment, trust, comprehension, and quality. In an examination of 306 online surveys, researchers confirmed that each of the four elements of relationships influenced customer loyalty. Nevertheless, the customer’s perception and comprehension of quality and value influenced the relationship and purchase intentions. [2]

As a business, you need to identify your target customers by analyzing their lifestyles, psychographics, income, spending capabilities, and mentalities so that you may offer them relevant products and services. For example, knowing that individuals from lower income groups would never be interested in, or have the means to buy, expensive and luxurious products is beneficial in that it allows your business to focus its attention on the likely buyers of your product or service. Trying to sell a Mercedes or a luxury watch to someone who finds it difficult to make ends meet would definitely be a disastrous marketing technique.

 

[1] Bettencourt, L. A., Blocker, C. P., Houston, M. B., & Flint, D. J. (2015). Rethinking customer relationships. Business Horizons, 58, 99-108. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2014.09.003

[2] Jussila, J. J., Kärkkäinen, H., & Aramo-Immonen, H. (2014). Social media utilization in business-to-business relationships of technology industry firms. Computers in Human Behavior, 30, 606-613. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.07.047

Loyalty and Relationships

As humans, we are greatly influenced by our relationships. We enjoy being members of loyalty programs and networking groups that align with our goals. We patronize certain supermarkets, gas stations, and banks, and make most of our purchases from select companies. This showing of consumer loyalty is due to an unspoken relationship that exists between us and the businesses and brands we support. They make us happy, we trust them, and their consistency is calming in a chaotic world with an overwhelming amount of choices.

Relationships are natural, and our preference for who we develop relationships with are often based on past experiences and expectations. Similar to dating, customer relationships involve courting and evolution into permanency or a breakup. At some point in every relationship, there is the question of whether the relationship has a future. At that moment of questioning, the relationship either continues down a happy road, or it ends.

The Courting. In relationships, everything starts perfectly. You show the prospect your best self as the ideal candidate for a long and fruitful relationship. The seduction begins. Promises are made, benefits explained, enticements for loyalty are offered, and declarations are made as to how you and they can create magic together. They find you to be a worthy partner and the two of you begin on a wonderful journey.

The Breakup. As the months go by, they start to feel unhappy that you aren’t paying much attention to them. You forgot their birthday and the last time you were together you were caught flirting with another prospect. They stop answering your calls and the last time they visited something just felt different. Eventually, they start complaining about small things and indirectly question what you are doing with their money. You see it in their behavior that the relationship is coming to an end.

The reality is that the relationship was over a long time before it ended because of those small things that you did or didn’t do which got you to this point. It could have been something as simple as not responding fast enough to their email or text, not paying attention to their needs and wants, or that you’ve failed to notice and respond to how they’ve changed as a person. Either way, they are no longer attracted to you, and they no longer believe in your optimism about the future.

To sustain a relationship with a customer, you’ve got to think like a customer. With every visit, call, or each time you send an invoice to your customer, consciously or unconsciously, your customers are asking themselves questions such as; why did I hire these guys or purchase this product? Do I still need them? Is this worth what I’m paying? Am I making progress? Am I seeing the results they promised? Is this the best company to purchase from? Remember, it’s usually many little things that add up to their decision to terminate the relationship. If you are aware and address those issues from the start, and keep focused on satisfying the customer throughout the relationship, you’re in a much better position to sustain the relationship.

Common Interest

In a relationship, it’s important that you have common interests. It’s hard to keep a relationship moving forward if you have nothing or little in common. Factors that customers consider when entering a relationship with your business include the business’s reputation, niche, work ethics, communication, customer service, and if your business has the resources to meet their needs.

Customers select you for a reason. In the initial meeting with your customers, you should try to determine that reason by simply asking, “What is it that you want from me or my business in this relationship?” or “Why did you decide to meet with me today?” Additionally, ask yourself what you want from your customers and always outline that during the meeting. Don’t just focus on the product or service benefits that you offer, but also outline your unique processes in achieving results.

Terms of Agreement. Once you decide on how the relationship should move forward, write it down and make it clear. Just because you understand your terms, does not mean that your customer has a clear understanding. If you are selling a product on a website or through a physical location, you should have important terms mentioned multiple times during the course of business, in contracts, and on your website. Furthermore, educate your customers to prevent confusion about the terms. If you can create a solid and mutually rewarding foundation with your customer, the rest of the relationship will be smooth.

Effective Communication. Many customers will discontinue business with you simply because they are confused about something or misunderstand your contract. Effective communication is key to a healthy relationship. As a representative of your business, you should be involved in, and dedicated to, the satisfaction and growth of customer relationships within your business. When working with customers, know why the customer selected you in the first place. Keep sight of customer goals and pursue those goals relentlessly to satisfy your customer. Chances are your customers have a good reason for wanting to work with your business or purchase your product or service. Ask what that is and why, today of all days, they chose to make the move.

Most customers already believe they know what they want, very often they do not want your opinion, and want only for you to provide them with the product or service requested. While this is often ok, you should still try and understand what they are trying to achieve, or you may end up with poor reviews and an upset customer who feels they wasted their time. It all comes down to staying focused on the goals of the customer and the strategies for achieving those goals. Two primary questions to consider asking customers when attempting to understand their goals include:

  • What is your goal for using or purchasing this product or service?
  • What results are you expecting by using this product or service?

Asking these questions will help demonstrate a genuine concern for your customers and they will, most often, appreciate your sincerity.

Cost Per Click

Google’s Ad Rank program is designed to help you display the most relevant ad content to your customers and to provide an equal system that benefits both the customer and your business. The Ad Rank system is controlled by your ad quality, which is determined by the websites click through rate (CTR) and ad relevance to landing page content and keywords used. Ad Rank works by helping customers gain satisfaction through seeing more relevant ads to their keyword, and you get to show more relevant ads for your product or service so that you attract the right customer group. The result is that your business gains satisfied and relevant customers. Additionally, Ad Rank is used to determine where (and if) your ads appear and how much you pay each time a user clicks on your ad. The ranking system is created using a mathematical formula that decides which ads appear within the top positions of Google’s AdWords.

A cost-per-click (CPC) is the amount you choose or agree to pay each time a potential customer clicks on your Google ad in AdWords. A Quality Score is a numerical estimate based on the overall combined quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. The formula used to create your Ad Rank is: Ad Rank = Max CPC x Quality Score.

Example Case Study. Mike’s Biscuits (MB) has a current quality score of 3 for the keyword “Dog Biscuits.” To find the Ad Rank position, MB can calculate the Max CPC ($4) by the Quality Score (3), and the result equals 12. If MB raises its quality score to at least a 7, the company could easily lower its CPC to $2 and end with an overall rank of 14. With a higher quality score, MB can pay half the cost and rank higher than with its lower quality score of 3 and budget of $4. To raise its Ad Rank position, MB should focus on raising its quality score by increasing its click-through-rate (CTR), keyword relevancy to users’ search query’s, and by creating an optimized landing page that holds original relevant content. The higher the quality score, the lower the CPC. Ultimately, the Google quality score system allows for the prevention of advertisers to pay their way to the top of the search results within Google’s search engine. With this system, the higher quality score will save the advertiser money, create better placement, and increase the business’s revenue.

Distribution Strategy for Press Release

The social networking sites that your company can use to release its press release are Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and Feed Burner. Within each of these sites, you can gain a different audience of users that will link back to your website for the full press release.  This will allow for more traffic and more sales for your company.

Distribute your press release through popular wire services including:

  • Business Wire: www.businesswire.com
  • Market Wire: www.marketwire.com
  • PrimeNewswire: www.primezone.com
  • PR Newswire: www.prnewswire.com
  • PRWeb: www.prweb.com

The reason for publishing with these wire services is to maximize the distribution of the release. By publishing with these services, it allows for the press release to be seen by followers of these sites and will be indexed by many more distribution services and search engines. By using this method, it will allow for further geographic reach of the press release. In addition, by placing the press release on popular sites, it allows for your business to link those users viewing the release back to the company website.

Social networking sites that shoukd be used for distribution will include Google, Yahoo and other vertical market portals including a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) reader.

Keyword tags should also be used to create for a better marketing campaign that will be beneficial to search engines indexing the media release.

The company blog should include information on the press release and will be used as a tool to link readers and followers to the pressrelease page where they can read the full release.

The company blog should also include social networking bookmarks, connections and an RSS feed for users to stay updated with the sites news releases and additional content. By using share tools for facebook, twitter and other social networking sites, it will allow forreaders of your businesses blog and media room to distribute the information to their followers on those specific networks.

The press release should be available within a designated section of your website which will allow for users to easily search for archived releases. This strategy will also allow for search engine to keep an index of the press release in case the distribution sites have taken down the release and it no longer exist in their archive.

The social media pressroom should have information available in many different formats including audio, video, photos, news releases, background information, financial data, social media connection tools and bookmarking tools. This media room will be designed to market toward the buyers and the journalist.

By creating a media room that updates regularly, this will allow for search engines to search them more frequently and will ultimately result in more traffic, more indexed pages and more sales.

Local markets and journalist that your business should contact will include:

  • Wired PR News: http://www.wiredprnews.com/
  • AllTop: http://business-wire.alltop.com/

your business should also contact bloggers, reporters and journalist from local networking groups.

You should also attend local meet up events and find out where the local journalist are and what they are looking for.  By attending these events and getting to know the local journalist, reporters and editors, you can put together a list of these authors and use them for future press releases. The local meet up groups can be found by using the networking website meetup.com to find dates and schedules of upcoming events.

By starting locally, it will allow for your business to practice its distribution strategies and then expand the techniques international. This same method should be used for some of the local online press release channels also.

The goal is to make the news releases easy to read and understand by its viewers. In addition to these newsletters, you should look to distribute these news releases within e-mail newsletters, RSS feeds and through the use of current employees.

When searching for journalist and buyers, your business should focus on finding what it is that the journalists are looking for in a good press release. Having this information will be crucial in building relationships and relevant content for journalist and buyers. In addition, creating a easy-to-use navigation, search function and share tools will help make journalist jobs easier be conveniently providing all of the content for them to easily find and navigate within the website’s press release.

Another way to be sure that the press release is getting into journalists hands is to be sure to find out what other locations the journalist are going to and what events they are attending. This will allow for Your company executives to personally speak with the journalists. These events may include conferences, trade shows, and other speaking appearances. You should include a link on your website that has a list of upcoming events that you will be attending. These events can be local and international. In addition, this calendar will also allow for journalist to know where to find the CEO.

Another option is to include a call to action within the media room for journalist and bloggers. This could include offering them an interview with the company executive.

The timeline for posting this release within the company’s site and on other wire sites should be two days. On day one, the press releaseshould be emailed to journalist along with bloggers, editors, within the company’s RSS reader and through an e-newsletter release. By day two, the release should be posted on all press release sites, social networking sites and blogs.

Your company should create a relationship with journalist and readers by welcoming their feedback and giving them the story first. Your business shoukd not only release news of big events and happenings within the company, it should also release stories of awards, conferences, products and other unique marketplace information.

Internet marketing is key

Internet Marketing

Internet marketing is key when making sure that customers find your website. Without marketing, your website may randomly be found once everyone couple of months, but it will not generate high revenue for your business. You need to create as much exposure as possible to gain more clients. Just like a great job resume, it’s no good if you don’t send it out to employers. The same goes with creating a great website and not marketing it. If you can’t be found, you will not gain the customer. That is how simple it works.

Internet marketing is relatively inexpensive. Your business can reach a wide audience at a fraction of traditional advertising budgets. The nature of the media allows for consumers to research and buy your products and services at their convenience. Internet marketing gives your business the advantage of appealing to consumers in a medium that can deliver results quickly.

Why or do I need to add a copyright to my website?

I did something different this time around when I built my website. When looking at the footer and how to design and what to add to it. I considered the traditional copyright 2014 Elijah Clark. All rights reserved.

Then I asked myself why I was added it. The answer was that I really didn’t know. I became so used to adding it by default to my own and others websites that it had stuck with me.

Nonetheless, I really never knew why. Do I add it because I’m supposed to? Do I have it to make my site look professional or am I adding it to simply scare people off so that they don’t copy the text?

Either way, after research, I’ve found that there is no real reason to have it at all. The fact is that as long as I’m the first to publish the content, then I own the rights anyway. A website has a great track record of changes and my site content, so I don’t really need the copyright for any protection purposes. People will steal content with or without the text.

So, next. Am I doing it to look professional? Well, I think I did at one point. When backlinking was big and I wanted to add my name next to my clients copyright notice with a link back to my site, it made perfect sense. It was branding. My name didn’t look out of place then. Nonetheless, now that a backlink is deemed bad if it’s coming from a new non-nitch website, I no longer add my name or link.

Either way. No one really cares about the copyright. It scares no one and you aren’t going to lose a client because of it.

From a technical standpoint, the law eliminated the requirement of public notice in 1989. So, it isn’t necessary and up to you on whether Or not you want to include it.

Best CMS for the Task

If you found this blog, then you must have the question of which CMS program to use. The answer really depends on who you are and what type of design skills you have.

WordPress:

Use WordPress if your programming skills aren’t all that high. WordPress sites are generally good for out-of-box designers and programmers. There won’t be much to tweak and the best bet for creating a WordPress site in my opinion is to simply get a template. Don’t waste time trying to build it yourself. Just get a template and tweak it to your liking.

Used Best For: Blogging, Simple Sites.

 

Joomla:

Use Joomla if you have programming skills, but not much. The reason that I like Joomla is because there are far more extensions to get what you want. This CMS system is good for higher end websites on a budget. You can easily build great advanced websites such as directories and social networks right within Joomla without having to spend tens of thousands on it. Use this CMS if you need something more advanced than WordPress and you have good programming skills.

Used Best For: Blogging, Good Website, Advanced Web Builds

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Situational Leadership

Situational leadership is based on the theory that effective leadership requires an appropriate response based on rational understanding for each unique situation. A situational leadership style is classified as a contingency or behavioral theory that centralizes the leader behavior as either task of people focused. To establish a relationship between a situational leader and follower, key factors such as level of maturity or readiness of the follower need to be accounted for (McCleskey, 2014).

In seeking to comprehend organizational management, researchers have examined and implied that there is no one certain leadership style that works for every type of situation. Situational leadership is a combination of three major features: relational concerns, leader direction, and motivational level of followers. Situational leaders place attention on the functionality of the environment, such as maturity and follower psychological state. By focusing on the members’ well-being, it will create an effective relationship between leader and follower. A situational leader and their follower’s relationship are considered individualized under this type of model. A manager at a work environment needing to adjust for a disabled employee is an example of a situational leader. As a leader, the manager must place a unique situational approach to the needs and functional capabilities between the disabled employee and workplace. The leader should be fluid and adjust toward the needs of the disabled employee. In order to fulfill the needs of a disabled employee, a situational leadership style framework must be implemented. A situational leader will recognize the capacities of a disabled employee and provide a level of comfort, security, and understanding for the employee (Cubero, 2007).

Resources for Understanding Occupational/Organizational Stress

Stafyla, A., Kaltsidou, G., & Spyridis, N. (2013). Gender differences in work stress, related to organizational conflicts and organizational constrains: An empirical research. International Journal Of Economic Sciences & Applied Research, 6(1), 91-101.

The author of this study explains that stress is normal and routine within workplaces. The study was conducted of 231 Greek adults within different workplaces, using a poll research to collect data. The average age of the 231 volunteer Greek adults was 37.5 years. 94 respondents were men, and 137 were women. The study was done to examine ways in which different gender types witness stress. The test employees completed a questionnaire with two different scales of measurement that consisted of 15 questions. The results of the study found that men express stress differently than women. Men express work stress in an organization constraint scale and not just interpersonal. Men are involved in more disagreements and treated with rudeness more often than women. In addition, men have a more difficult time completing work task due to incorrect instructions, inadequate equipment, or lack of information. Based on this information, the author concludes that how organizations function may be the differentiator between genders and how they express stress.

Considering the study was conducted during an economic crisis, it may have been best if the study were not completed within the workplace as there may have been increased fear and stress of a layoff. Another limitation to this study was that there was a lack of questionnaire validation of the American translation into Greek. In addition, the study was not conducted by analyzing workplace satisfaction and workplace stress or by considering work ethic, reward, and whether or not employees were regarded for their efforts. Monitoring the work ethic would help in understanding individual responses to work demands and organization attachments, aspirations, dedications, and expectations. The study failed to include information for understanding the femininity and masculinity type of individuals outside of gender. The study should be examined again in the future considering these setbacks.
The authors’ findings could be beneficial in understanding and reacting to different gender types within organizations. Based on similar stress studies, this study is unique in identifying gender-specific stressors and concerns. The research can be useful in understanding welfare issues and stress prevention. Considering men and women are naturally different in nature, this study was successful in identifying whether or not their differences would affect their stress levels in the workplace. A future study could further analyze gender stress within an organization by including the relationship between workplace satisfaction and stress levels.

 

Mirela, B., & Madalina-Adriana, C. (2011). Organizational stress and its impact on work performance. Annals Of The University Of Oradea, Economic Science Series, 333-337.

This study examines how an economic crisis affects managers and entrepreneurs’ stress levels. The author explains that work related stress is a growing concern, and excessive stress can influence productivity. The study included Romanian managers and entrepreneurs from Bihor County. The research method used was an online questionnaire, which included 75 managers and entrepreneurs. 40% of the respondents were entrepreneurs, and 60% were managers at all levels. In addition, 40% of the respondents were women and 60% were men. Ages ranged between 18 – 64 years with 73% of the respondents being within the 18 – 24 age range. Each participant answered 35 structured questions about stress. The conclusion of the study was that organizational stress is produced by a multitude of outside influences including social status, family, relationships, and personal problems. 85% of the respondents considered work to be the main factor in their stress lives.

The study can be used to develop professional skills of managers and entrepreneurs. By promoting their skills, leaders can be prepared to adapt to new technologies in the organization. The study failed to examine the social status, education, and family matters of the respondents. The study also did not mention the work environment, whether or not the work was fast or slow paced, external stress factors, how the respondents interact with one another, or how the respondents perceived stress and their work task. Knowing this information would show how different situations influence respondent’s perception of stress in their organization.

The authors did consider many factors during their study, and the results were informative in highlighting how common stress is within organizations. Moreover, the results were impressive at presenting the number of respondents who came to the realization that they had no measure of combating their stress. By further demographically segmenting users, the study would show better results that could be filtered by the respondent’s social status and personal stress factors. The study was successful at examining stress from a different perspective of leadership type versus employee outlook. Considering leaders have different stressors than employees, this information can be useful in creating or improving leaders’ health and satisfaction within the workplace.

 

Yong, M., Nasterlack, M., Pluto, R., Lang, S., & Oberlinner, C. (2013). Occupational stress perception and its potential impact on work ability. Work, 46(3), 347-354. doi:10.3233/WOR-121556

The study was conducted to examine perceived employee stress levels with different occupations measured by the Work Ability Index (WAI). The study was done to investigate the impact of stress and workability. The study was completed through a survey questionnaire among 867 volunteer participants in Ludwigshafen, Germany. 653 of the participants completed the 38 close-ended questionnaires, which included questions directed at the individuals perception of safety in the workplace, health status, frequency of stress, job demands, time pressure, and work life balance. The study showed that occupational stress was perceived different within occupational groups. While some participants felt stress from health concerns, others felt stress tension from time pressure, and work life balance. Perceived occupational stress did show to have an impact on WAI.

A concern with the study is that the demographics of the users may have had an influence on the results. Among the 653 workers included in the analysis, 11% were managers, 39% skilled worked and 50% frontline operators. 80% of the managers and professionals were 40 and over in age, and only 20% were women in administration and 10% in management. Combined with additional studies, the results have been inconclusive, and this may be attributed to the employee’s occupational status. The study failed to mention the hours worked by respondents, the social status, lifestyle, or if they had health issues that may influence the results. Considering the study was given to only volunteers, rather than random selection, the results were likely not as effective or reliable.

The authors are experienced leaders and educators with previously published work on a similar organizational stress subject that focuses on occupational stress perception and its impact on employee’s health. The research and study done by the authors did present good material, particularly in examining the respondent’s perception of stress. However, without properly examining the lifestyle, and social status of the respondents, it would be difficult to validate the points within this study. Nonetheless, because of the vast number of respondents, the study was successful with comparing personal pressures, and perception of the respondents to organizational stress.

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