Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Quick and Easy Marketing Methods

Newsletters should be branded if you intend to share company news and not get lost amongst the spam. Temper the marketing tone of your messages by integrating stories about your staff and customers.

Transactional emails are emails that directly promote products, promotions, and include emails sent to confirm an order or new account sign-up. Keep these emails succinct, but write with flair.

Videos are a great way to bring your brand to life. They are the perfect vehicle to introduce your products and services. Be sure to keep them short and snappy, perfect for social media sharing.

Business cards are pocket-sized promotional opportunities. Make sure they include relevant details like your social media handles and links to your website. Loyalty cards are also good for encouraging return visits to your store and should reflect your brand. Postcards are a fun way to raise brand awareness. Whether you choose to mail them, add them to your packaging, or distribute them at local businesses, they must be attractive if you want customers to view and keep them.

Most agencies know how to leverage their own email marketing skills to attract and nurture new business. However, they often overlook email as a communication channel post-sale. Email can be used to entice your customers in a scalable way as it provides the means necessary to continuously deliver added value over the course of your relationship. While many would argue that no one is looking forward to more emails, your emails should be relevant and thoughtfully written to ensure you don’t add to the SPAM issue.

Backlinking

To help build the authority and rank of your website, you should establish quality backlinks on niche websites, and not just broad or directory websites. By including links on sites relevant to your own, you will positively help your website ranking and attract new customers. In addition to niche websites, your backlinks should include sites with a high page rank. Link building strategies can easily come from participating in blogs, online forums, and local event groups. When placing a backlink on these sites, you should utilize unique keywords and descriptive anchor text. Another option to find credible backlinks is to search your competitors’ link groupings. A link grouping is a page on the internet from which all, or most, of your competitors get incoming links. By searching your targeted keywords, common backlinks of your competitors can be located. Once these backlinks are identified, you should visit and include your website link on these websites if possible. If these websites are a relevant niche to your business, it should produce favorable results.

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

Website influence

A website gives your business the opportunity for exposure 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no other medium that allows consumers to discover all of the benefits of your business, at their convenience, and provide a source for direct correspondence from the user to you in real time. The benefits of a website are limitless.

Building Process. When building a website, make certain that you design the site for your customer and not for you or the graphic artist or designer. Design for the individuals that will use the site. By building for your customers, it allows you to target who is actually going to be viewing, and hopefully purchasing, from the website. Don’t design for looks, but for a purpose. If customers don’t like the colors then, no matter what you or your designer may think, those colors need to be changed. When building a website, you need to focus on attracting your target audience and making the site user-friendly.

A properly built website requires an effective title and meta tags, incoming links, and a strong architectural design. In addition, you should implement social media strategies through the use of proper link baiting, keywords, and creating a pay-per click campaign that will increase customer conversions.

A strategy that I have found to work well in improving website conversions includes adding an online blog or newsgroup. This method has shown to be a positive step in influencing conversions as well as conversations. In addition, it helps to generate a higher domain authority when utilizing unique content which can benefit the site’s ranking within search engines. Furthermore, blogs and news updates elevate customer satisfaction and attract traffic to your website.

Another question that should be asked when building your website is, “Does my website compete with my competitors?” and “Does it target my desired customer group?” If you don’t have your website built by a designer who understands your industry, then the answers are likely to be, “No.” Your website needs to represent you and your business. If it looks cheap, so will your business. If you try to cut corners, your customers will know. It’s better to have no website at all than a badly designed, poorly built website that doesn’t represent your business in a positive light, doesn’t serve the needs of your customers, and doesn’t drive traffic.

Customer Profiling

Customer profiling is a behavioral relationship marketing technique which involves a variety of marketing strategies ranging from simplistic to complex. Customer profiling begins with the identification of data associated with satisfied existing customers and then uses that data as a basis to target new prospects with similar profiles. The profiles of customers can be categorized in multiple ways according to influential variables present in their profile.

Profiling consists of determining the characteristics and demographics of customers. Identifying demographic profiles of current customers may help your business strategize ways to attract new customers and generate higher revenue through targeted marketing strategies. To gather demographic information from existing customers, your business should track sales data and other customer related information to help determine the ideal customer for your business.

Customers have unique preferences and needs and segmenting allows for managing customers based on their individual or grouped characteristics. Invalid segmenting could produce dissatisfied customers. Customer profiling should be the basis of your segmenting strategy and has proved to be the most useful strategy in customer acquisition.

Cultural Uniformity. Although it is rarely discussed in smaller businesses, analyzing the cultural differences between your customers can help in developing targeted marketing strategies. Cultural differences naturally exist and can greatly influence your marketing. Cultural differences may include customer locations, beliefs and cultural norms, lifestyle, income, and many other psychographic and demographic parameters. Additionally, it is important to consider online customers and the environment and culture of your website visitors as they often have a wider reach than brick-and-mortar locations. No matter the location, you may have to acknowledge cultural differences if you decide to change the way you do business, or if you plan to expand online, or to another region.

The targeted customer for your business was likely determined by who your business would like to attract. You should target your marketing efforts toward those individuals and businesses who would most likely utilize your products or services. If you want all customers and ethnicities to purchase services from your company, you may need to analyze your marketing strategy and determine how to make it attractive for all groups and cultures. The best method to understanding your customers is to conduct marketing research, which is discussed later within this book.

Social Brand Development

As humans, one of the ways we build relationships is through the stories we tell; why else do we catch up with our friends, right? In business, it’s no different. You want to create moments between your business and your customers. Those willing to share the experiences of their founders, customers, and staff can reap the many benefits that storytelling offers. It shifts the focus a little from what you do and talks about why you do it. The story of your brand is as individual as you are, and it needs to tell your audience who you are and why you’re doing what you do. It is where your manifesto comes to life, giving your audience context for your business and a chance to connect with what is important to you. After all, people buy from people.

Your brand is often your business’s most valuable asset. A strong brand can generate loyal customers and positive sales. The brand should be seen by customers as both positive and valuable. For your brand to be valuable to customers, it needs to simplify the decision-making process and reduce any perceived risk for your customers.

Social Media Branding. The personalized brand for your business should include a presentation of your unique benefits, knowledge, experience, and expertise that help make your business memorable. These unique assets influence customers to make a purchase and professionals to want to work with your brand. To expand brand awareness, start by creating, or cleaning up, your online presence and social media pages. On your social media pages, you should not post or subscribe to anything that does not enhance your brand. This includes both text and images. In addition to social media pages, you should create digital image galleries and a website showcasing the best of your brand.

Educating = Satisfying

Not all customers will understand the details of your product or the necessities of your service offering. It’s important that you help educate your customers on your product and changes in the market relevant to your business. While you may not want to move away from your original contract, your competitors will try and attract your customers by introducing new tools, methods, and trends. To prevent your customers from moving to a competitor, you should setup and attend regular weekly or monthly meetings with your customers and go over what it is that you are doing for them and why. When asking your customers what they think about the quality of your product or service, don’t be surprised if they ask about new technologies or trends and why you aren’t using those methods. If you aren’t aware of new changes or innovations, you should inform the customer that you will look into the technologies and present your findings to them.

Privacy and Data Management

There is a growing concern from customers that their privacy and personal information is being digitized and sold without their permission. The concern is that credit cards, billing details, and other private data are bought and sold across the marketing industry between businesses and organizations to use as soliciting tools. Customers agree that the lack of organizational ethics when collecting information is morally wrong. The debate amongst customers and businesses is that both parties feel they own the information. Businesses believe that they have the right to use the information any way they choose to help better their organizational goals and to produce better marketing services. Additionally, the organizations that purchase the user information feel they own the data because they purchased it. If the results show that your company is being unethical by confusing or misinforming customers on how their private information is used, you should work diligently to resolve the confusion by making privacy details clear.

Security Breach and Ethics. You should focus on making ethical decisions when handling customer information in regards to implementing effective security and privacy measures. Many organizations, including healthcare corporations, spend thousands to millions of dollars on securing patient privacy and protecting data against breaches and hackers. It is your responsibility as a leader to understand and influence ethical practices which relate to privacy and security threats. Security breaches can disable the functions of your business and pilfer confidential customer information such as personal contact information, social security numbers, and passwords. In addition to a potential loss of revenue, breaches also create customer distrust, and can negatively impact your brand reputation. The risks associated with breaches such as loss of confidentiality, integrity, and availability should cause you to be aware and proactive with threats that generate concerns.

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.

Handling Negative Reviews

Review Credibility

Knowing the platforms on which customers prefer to express their views, and on which readers of those reviews are most likely to visit, is essential for effective online management.

Review Websites. Review platforms including Yelp, Amazon, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, and more heavily influence consumers when researching desired products and services. Unfortunately, these sites, and others, often end up authorizing unauthenticated reviews and manipulated reviews on their websites which could unduly damage the reputation of your business. For instance, the Yelp platform contains an algorithm that automatically determines which reviews are “most useful” without actually authenticating the reviews. This is because, like many other review sites, Yelp has no verification process in place to validate whether the reviewer actually participated in any transaction with the business in question, which enables fraudulent reviews by Yelp users and business competitors. After analyzing the writing style of reviewers and the effectiveness of manipulated reviews through sentiments, readability, and ratings, researchers have determined that 10.3% of products were subject to online review manipulation.[1]

Negative Reviews

Review credibility is important, particularly in situations where reviews falsely or purposefully misrepresent a situation. Your business should develop an appropriate response to counter the effects of negative word-of-mouth (NWOM) communication. How your business responds to NWOM is crucial in terms of limiting the negative effects to the business.

Sensory marketing helps to identify and comprehend the senses and influences of marketing engagement in light of customers’ perceptions, behaviors, and judgments. How your business reacts to NWOM is critical in determining whether your business can recuperate from the negative reviews and feedback. While positive reviews do have an influence on customer decision making, one negative review from a disgruntled customer generally has a more significant effect on overall product ratings. Conversely, negative reviews have less of an influence when contrasted to a vast majority of positive reviews.

While you may be aware of the effects of customer reviews, do not succumb to the temptation of generating fake reviews to help promote your products or services. The drawback of manipulated reviews is that they could unduly damage the reputation of your business. Respond to customer reviews in a timely and effective manner as they influence customers’ perceptions of your business. Your business should place a priority on responding to both positive and negative reviews. Don’t ignore negative feedback, as from an overall brand perspective, negative reviews have the potential to hinder brand awareness by creating customer doubt which can decrease leads and referrals.

 

[1] Fan, Y. W., Miao, Y. F., Fang, Y. H., & Lin, R. Y. (2013). Establishing the adoption of electronic word-of-mouth through consumers’ perceived credibility. International Business Research, 6. doi:10.5539/ibr.v6n3p58

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