Do You Know Why Your Customers Like You?

Most business leaders understand the importance of market research, particularly during the startup unnamed (28)phase. Those interested in starting a business should research their potential customer base and determine how successful their product or idea will likely be within that particular market long before building their first prototype or contacting their first client.

Yes, we all know how vital market research is for startups, but it’s equally important for well-established businesses — even highly successful ones. Unfortunately, it’s easy to let research fall by the wayside once your company has begun seeing success. Don’t. The need for market research doesn’t go away once sales start coming in. Instead, it offers valuable insight you can use throughout your marketing campaigns to successfully grow your business.

What marketing campaigns can tell you

Marketing campaigns offer unique insights into what your customers are actually thinking. All too often, we as business owners think we understand our customers, only to realize our own assumptions have colored our perceptions. Perhaps you thought your customers valued low prices, only to discover when you shrunk your customer service staff in an effort to lower prices even more that what they had really valued was your outstanding customer service. Market research and surveys of current and potential customers will let you know exactly what your customers appreciate about your products and services and what needs to be improved.

Understanding the virtual customer is a bit more difficult, because people will stumble upon your website for a wide variety of reasons. Knowing customer wants can lead to higher conversion rates, a better social media experience, and a better reputation that spreads significantly faster than ever before. Customers who have good experiences on your website are more likely to spread the word about their experience on social media, which can be very valuable for growing customers. To get an accurate picture, monitor a variety of sources, including social media and web traffic.

Where can this help?

In marketing

When you know exactly what it is your customers already like about your products, you’ll have a better idea about what to emphasize to new customers. The traits that already appeal to existing customers are likely going to be the ones that appeal to new customers, too. This will help you build more targeted campaigns and reach your audience more efficiently.

In making business changes

When you’re looking for ways to improve, say, your customers service procedures, market research can tell you which steps in the process matter the most to customers. Customers will have opinions about each step, whether in the buying process, the return process, or the customer service process. It’s often too difficult to completely revise everything, but knowing which parts matter the most to customers can help you optimize your revision process and make customers happier faster and with fewer resources spent.

Knowing when and how to expand

If you follow the first two steps well, chances are there will come a time when you want to expand. Maybe you’ll be looking to add more products or expand into new markets or both. Regardless of your goals, market research and having an intimate knowledge of your customers will give you the insight you need to complete this important business step wisely.

Is It Possible to Succeed in an Over-Saturated Industry?

The Internet makes it easy to see just how many businesses are vying to compete in an increasingly competitive atmosphere. At times, it seems there’s a business or product for just about any want or need. So how do some people manage to successfully establish new companies and find their way to positions of leadership in this hyper-competitive marketplace? How is it possible to break in when it seems as though your industry is already saturated?

Determine what unique qualities you have to offer

Think back to why you got involved in your industry. Chances are there was something about this particular business that piqued your interest — some aspect about it that made you know you could succeed. Perhaps you saw some unique ability or talent in yourself that you knew others couldn’t match. Uncovering that ability and finding ways to market it are the first steps to building your niche.

As consumers, we’re increasingly aware of all the options available to us to buy products from just about any vendor anywhere. While this can make it daunting as a business owner to think about just how much competition we have online, it also makes it easier to find a specific niche to fill.

Your niche might consist of just a few thousand people around the world. Before the Internet, it would have been impossible to reach those people and have a productive business. With the Internet, however, you can now market to your specific niche and build a successful company.

Develop personal relationships online and in personunnamed (27)

Personal relationships are more critical now than ever before. Customers expect to be able to speak with you, ask any questions they have, and receive specific answers quickly. While many companies have begun to realize this important truth, many are still lagging behind. Taking the time to develop this kind of relationship with customers can help you stand out against the competition. It can also help nurture customer loyalty, which will provide added stability as your company grows.

As you’re building relationships, make sure you’re also nurturing contacts within your community. Sponsor local groups, charities, and events. This is a great way to connect with people on a personal level and encourage them to try your company. Such connections help to build brand awareness and recognition in the community. That way, when people are ready to make a purchase, they’ll be more likely to turn to you because of your constant presence and overall standing in the community.

Use every tool at your disposal

You have a number of tools at your disposal for getting the word out about your company. When you’re competing in a tight industry, you need to take advantage of them all. As you’re designing your logo and marketing materials, use color psychology to create the best possible impression on potential customers.

You can also use the modern tools of website design to your advantage. Track your visitors and find out where they’re coming from and why they are or aren’t making purchases. The better you understand your customers’ actions, the more you can do to improve your marketing and services to reach them.

It’s not easy to find your way to success when it seems as though there’s already a business to address any problem out there. Take advantage of the above techniques, and it just might be possible to be successful in an already saturated industry. Contact us today if you’re interested in learning more about how our marketing techniques can help you get ahead.

Performing Regular ‘Checkups’ on Your Marketing Campaigns

unnamed (26)Well-baby checkups are one of the most important health precautions new parents can take to ensure their child is growing properly and remains in good health. At these appointments, vaccines are administered, growth charts are established, and the overall health of the child is monitored. Within the baby’s first year, new parents will bring their child in several times, with fewer appointments after that as the child ages.

Even as a child grows older, however, regular checkups remain important. Schools will require them for sports teams. Camps and similar activities want records that show the child is up-to-date on their shots. And parents don’t want to wait for something to go wrong before bringing their child to the doctor.

As a business owner, you should think of your marketing campaigns like a child. Just as a child needs regular checkups, your company’s marketing will benefit from regular ‘checkups,’ too, even if nothing is actually wrong.

Why are checkups so important?

Yearly physicals can help doctors and parents stay on top of a child’s overall health, even if everything seems to be going well. Doctors can address minor annoyances that might not seem to warrant visits themselves, while also watching for potentially unnoticed signs of problems. This kind of preventive care allows doctors to keep their patients in better health.

It works the same way with your marketing campaigns. When things are going well, it’s easy to put off running diagnostics and doing checkups. However, even if a campaign is bringing in customers, regular checkups are still important. Breaking down the campaign piece by piece and examining it can help you find potential weak spots where customers are slipping through the cracks, so you can repair those rough spots and improve your conversion rates.

Diagnostics and regular checkups can also provide a warning if something is about to go wrong. For example, if you find during your examination that most of your customers are coming through a particular channel, you can devote the time and energy necessary to make sure that channel continues running smoothly, while also investigating what might be holding up the others channels you’ve been targeting.

What should you look at?

At a child’s physical, the doctor will listen to the heart and lungs, examine the nose, throat, and ears, and perhaps administer shots. A marketing campaign checkup should also look at the bare bones of the process. This includes looking at where customers are coming from and where they are being lost. Start by breaking down the sales funnel and determining who is leaving at each stage. See if any aspects of your marketing campaigns are attracting so few customers that they’ve become a waste of money. Determine if they can be improved or if they should just be scrapped.

Research what competitors are doing and try to improve even the strongest aspects of your campaigns. Survey customers to see what they wish could be improved about the process.

Yearly physicals are important for monitoring and improving the health of all children, and regular checkups are important for your marketing campaigns, too. Regularly get out your data, sit down with the marketing team, and break down campaigns step by step. Yes, such checkups will require time, but they can help make your campaigns more efficient, improve conversion rates, and help your company grow.

Learning the Unique Language of Marketing Can Be Similar to Learning a Foreign Tongue

Imagine walking into a room. You hear the buzz of people talking, laughing, and calling to one another. Yet, somehow, you can’t seem to understand anything they’re saying. You might catch a word here and there, but in general the subject the people are speaking about is lost to you.unnamed (25)

Did you just walk into a conference room on a business trip to a foreign country, or did you walk into a marketing conference center?

For those who are new to the world of marketing, especially online marketing, either scenario might seem realistic.

How is being thrown into the marketing world similar to landing in a new country?

When a person first moves to the United States without knowing English, the language gap can feel insurmountable. Basic tasks, including banking, buying groceries, or even returning other people’s greetings while walking down the street, can become extremely difficult (if not impossible). Many of those who don’t know English when they first arrive spend a considerable amount of time and energy studying the language. In doing so, they begin to make sense of the sounds they’re hearing, including what the new vocabulary means and how to use the words. As their language skills improve, new residents find their confidence rise as well. Suddenly, when they walk into a room buzzing with chatter, what once seemed like overwhelming noise now begins to make sense to them.

Similarly, marketing comes with its own defined principles and vocabulary that those who are unfamiliar with the industry might find confusing. There are a range of rules that tell people how to use and be successful with the various platforms, along with industry-specific (and even platform-specific) vocabulary that doesn’t make sense anywhere else. As the newcomer becomes more familiar with the language and nuances of the marketing world, they also find the chatter in the room starting to make sense.

How succeed in learning a new language

Whether studying the language of marketing or a new foreign tongue, there are some constant principles for mastering the new form of speech.

1. Practice, practice, practice
Anyone who has ever learned a new language will tell you how critical it is to practice. Reading all the lesson books in the world will mean nothing if you don’t put those lessons into practice every chance you get. This might mean talking to yourself while making breakfast, but whatever the case, practice those vocabulary words.

2. Immerse yourself
Immersion is always the best way to learn a new language. For foreign languages, this might mean seeking out a few people who speak the new language, or even moving to a country where it’s spoken. For marketing, it might mean a steady diet of marketing blogs, webinars, and similar primary sources for instruction.

3. See if you can find a tutor
Sometimes, a tutor can make all the difference in the success of a language learner. A tutor can help you pinpoint your language weaknesses and practice them with you. In marketing, a tutor can help you become well versed in a variety of marketing platforms and their uses faster and easier than trying to go it alone.

Learning a new language is a difficult proposition, whether you are trying to master marketing speech or a foreign tongue. Both have specific vocabularies, along with rules that govern how the language is used. Keeping these ideas in mind can help you learn the new language and become increasingly successful in the world of marketing. If you’re interested in getting acquainted with the ‘language’ of marketing and want to learn more about how to reach customers, contact us today.

What the Cola Wars Can Teach About Marketing

Imagine you are walking down the street and see a group of people trying to get volunteers for a taste testing. In the cups before them they have two identical-looking colas. They ask you to try both cups and pick which one you prefer. You will then need to try and identify which is Coke and which is Pepsi. unnamed (23)

Do you think you would be able to tell the difference? Do you think you would actually pick the flavor you usually drink (in other words, if you usually drink Coke, would you actually select that one as your favorite)?

Shockingly, many people don’t. A number of different experiments have shown that many people are unable to correctly identify which cola is which. Even more surprisingly, in double blind taste tests, Pepsi often wins. It was this phenomenon that led to Pepsi steadily encroaching upon Coca-Cola’s lead in the market in the 1970s and 1980s. In an effort to win back customers, Coca-Cola introduced the debacle that was New Coke. The new formula was quickly rejected by consumers, and the company worked to gain back the trust of their loyal customers.

Coca-Cola managed to transition out of their problematic campaign and back to their original formula, but this left them in an interesting position. They still used the original formula, which customers said they wanted, but this formula was the one that often lost to Pepsi in taste tests. In the twenty years since this fiasco, Coca-Cola still manages to lead the market and has been holding steady.

According to what many people view as the unwritten rules of marketing, this should not be happening. Coke has two major points working against it.

  1. Coke’s formula is often deemed inferior by the consumer base in taste tests.
  2. The company completely alienated much of its loyal consumer base when it introduced New Coke without adequate market research.

Yet somehow Coca-Cola remains ahead.

Understanding why this happened and what companies today can learn from it can help you revolutionize your advertising campaigns.

Branding

Coca-Cola’s advertising works to develop a certain mentality in us. When we see the brand’s familiar script logo, we connect to the company’s rich history. We see small children walking up to drugstore counters to buy a Coke. We also connect with the company’s familiar advertising icons (its polar bears, for example) that are often featured in various advertising campaigns. Of course, Coca-Cola’s friendship ads help us feel connected to other Coke drinkers around the globe, as well.

The key here is the brand. Coca-Cola is now an iconic brand. It has become such a staple in our culture that in some regions, the word ‘Coke’ is used to mean any soft drink.

So what are you doing to develop your brand? Creating and maintaining a strong brand should be at the center of all your marketing. Customers make decisions based on the subconscious associations they develop between a company’s brand and its intangibles, including its quality, reliability, and history. Successful marketing helps to encourage positive associations in consumers’ minds.

Thinking about the entire customer experience

Taste tests often show that Pepsi is the preferred brand, especially considering it is slightly sweeter. While this might be better for short-term tastes, many people drink soft drinks in vast quantities. They don’t just drink a sip or two. They drink large bottles. Given the entire customer experience, it’s easier to see why the slightly sweeter brand seems to be less preferred in the long run.

Branding and considering the entire customer experience have both had an enormous impact on Coca-Cola’s ability to hold onto its lead over Pepsi, despite taste tests and marketing troubles. When you keep these criteria in mind for your company, you’ll also be able to boost your success. So grab a soft drink, sit down, and work with us to begin determining how you can better market your company.

Nurturing Leads from Every Angle

When it comes to successfully nurturing leads from your marketing efforts, you already know you need to stay on top of email with potential clients. Email is a great way to stay in touch with customers, reach out to them periodically to see if they’re ready to buy, and even just remind them about your company. While email is undoubtedly a useful tool in the world of marketing, it isn’t the only way to successfully turn a lead into a sale. Here are a few other tools you should keep handy as you work to nurture new leads.

Understand who your customers are and where they are in their purchase journey. Then use that information appropriately.unnamed (22)

A buyer’s journey includes all the research and decision-making steps they take as they prepare to buy a product. Some customers are just starting out. They’re looking for general information about their options and what factors they should be considering. Other buyers have narrowed down their search to just a few options and are looking to be convinced why one is superior to another. Still others are just about to make a purchase but just want to verify the product information. Understanding the buyer persona and where people are in the buying process will allow you to create targeted ads, messages, and content for customers at every step of the journey, increasing the odds they’ll make a purchase.

Make sure your website makes it easy for customers to move through the buying process.

Your website should be designed to encourage people to move through the sales funnel, exciting them about your products and making them eager to complete the transaction. Personalization is a fantastic way to accomplish this. Have your website greet people by name, especially if they’ve visited before.

Use retargeting ads

Retargeting ads can be extremely helpful for bringing customers back to your website, especially if they’ve left items in your site’s shopping cart. Customers have a tendency to visit pages while they’re doing research, but then leave the page because they’re not ready to make a purchase yet. Retargeting ads can help bring customers back to the page and remind them about your products and why they’re superior. Even better, have your page remember the customer the next time they return. Remember what items they looked at or what they seemed interested in. Customers will appreciate the extra effort and the added ease in finding what they’re looking for.

Make the most of social media

Keep an eye on social media for mentions of your company. This will alert you to customers considering your company or investigating your industry. You can then swoop in and make contact as they’re beginning their search. Social media is also a great tool for remaining in contact with potential buyers and past buyers. Like people’s status updates, retweet interesting things they have to say, and generally show interest in them. It will make them see you and your company more favorably, while also helping you remain in the forefront of their mind as they prepare to make a buying decision.

Nurturing leads is critical to persuading customers who are considering a purchase. While follow-up emails certainly play a role in bringing customers to the checkout button, they’re not the only factor. Use some of the ideas above, and begin improving conversion rates quickly.

Hitting a Home Run in Business Starts with Your Reputation

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Baseball has been an important part of our cultural fabric for more than a century. It makes sense, therefore, that baseball has many lessons it can teach us about managing a business. One of those lessons has to do with managing reputations.Over the years, baseball has survived scandals and strikes that could have easily crippled it: the 1919 Chicago White Sox throwing the World Series; the strike-shortened 1994 season, when there was no World Series at all; the steroid scandals of more recent times. While the sport hasn’t escaped completely unscathed, it does remain a popular pastime for many who enjoy playing and watching it throughout the summer and fall.

Fortunately, most of us will never have to deal with issues as powerful as those that have hit baseball throughout its history. Even so, managing a company reputation in the digital area can be a very tough responsibility.

Customers can spread information, positive and negative, about your company instantaneously. While it might seem tempting to just bury your head in the sand and hope such criticism goes away, you can’t afford to just ignore what is said about you online. Fortunately, the lessons from baseball tell us that people generally tend to overlook occasional slip-ups or poor experiences if the overall impression of the company is one of value.

The primary step in relationship management should always be to offer customers outstanding value and products. Here are three additional steps you can take to build and maintain an overall positive reputation.

    1. Become an important part of the local community.
      Get in front of customers by sponsoring youth sports teams, having a table or booth at local fairs, or sponsoring charity sporting events. Show customers you care, and give them the chance to interact personally with employees to begin building relationships.
    1. Listen to customers online and in market research, and address complaints sincerely and quickly. This might mean offering to replace defective products, providing coupons or discounts after a poor customer service experience, and issuing refunds when necessary. That might sound like an expensive proposition, but earning a poor reputation online will cost you far more.
  1. Pay close and careful attention to the experience of your customers. Make it easy for customers to contact you and easy to find resolution to their problems when they do. Too often, customers get passed from person to person or find themselves dealing with frustrating automated systems that are little to no help. Customers want to know they’re more than just an order number. Show them you care about their experience far after the sale.

Just as baseball has discovered over its long and storied history, managing a reputation can be a difficult proposition. But doing so is essential to the continued growth and viability of any organization. Reputation affects marketing success and whether or not people are interested in what you have to sell.

Fortunately, reputation is not always cut and dried. People are often willing to overlook particular problems in favor of value and an overall positive experience. Following the above advice should make it easy for your company to do just that.