Like chips and cereal, sometimes our ideas for engaging with our clients can get a little, well, stale. If you find yourself struggling to figure out a way to shake things up, here are some great February reads to help you rethink your latest strategy.
Do/Open: How a simple email newsletter can transform your business (and it can) by David Hieatt
Published in 2017 as part of The Do Book Company’s pocket guides for entrepreneurs, Do/Open covers the journey of David Hieatt, Hiut Denim, and the transformative power of a newsletter. (Yes, a newsletter.) In 2012, Hieatt and his wife launched their luxury denim brand Hiut Denim. In the months prior the launch, Hieatt and his team did an incredible job of promoting their fledgling company. So much so that, when they opened their doors, they found themselves overwhelmed by too many orders. In a bid to try and catch up, they did the unthinkable: they shut down their website. By the time they had caught up on orders and relaunched their website, they had a problem – no one was thinking about them any longer.
After trying and failing with usual marketing techniques to regrow their client base, they got creative. They decided they were going to try something new. A newsletter.
Do/Open does a wonderful job of walking readers through the power of learning to reengage with clients in unexpected, interesting ways. Both visually arresting and chalk full of fun tidbits, the book (and Hieatt) do a wonderful job of pitching the idea of giving people the best thing you as a company have to offer: sincerity. At 128 pages, it’s a quick read that benefits even the most seasoned marketer.
Pre-suasion by Robert Cialidini
Professor and writer Robert Cialdini has spent the better part of three decades positioning himself as a top thinker on the art of persuasion. Pre-suasion, backed by his knowledge in marketing and psychology, is no exception. Full of riveting case studies, interesting anecdotes, and Cialdini’s engaging style, the book is a gripping must read that answers everything from effective communicators to wartime propaganda. All with an eye towards giving the reader useful advice and information they can apply to their own lives and businesses.
The book was both a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, and was named a “Best Business Books of 2016” by the Financial Times. And there’s a reason why. If you’re looking for a way to upgrade your sales or marketing pitch, this is a must read.
Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future by Jonah Sachs
While Winning the Story Wars was written all the way back in 2012 (which is, shockingly, nearly a decade ago), the book still stands as a wonderful love letter to the heart of marketing: the power of telling a story. Sachs, founder and CEO of Free Range Studios, seamlessly weaves the old with the new, teasing out the deeper meaning in myths and legends and showing us the value of using those timeless messages in today's marketing.
Instead of focusing on the latest trends, Sachs encourages businesses to dig into the larger, universal truths that tie humanity together to help create brand stories that last. Thoughtful, provocative, and comprehensive, Winning the Story Wars is a great book for anyone to sink their teeth into.
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
Like we said, it can be easy to find your thoughts on client engagement stuck in a rut. Which is why Adam Grant’s Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World is such a breath of fresh air. A gifted writer, Grant uses the book to show us the potential and power in treading paths unknown to find success. Championing novel ideas, new techniques, and the unexpected over well-worn traditions. With a myriad of studies and an array of stories that range from politics to television, Grant encourages us to think outside the box, form alliances, elevate other voices, and find alternative ideas.
While the book focuses more on organizations as a whole, the same ideas and principles can be applied to how we think about ourselves, our clients, and our strategies.
This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin
Seth Godin is, well, Seth Godin. From Purple Cow to Tribes, he’s been inspiring entrepreneurs and changing lives for decades. And the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, This is Marketing, is no exception. From the fine art of positioning to permission-based marketing, Godin covers a sweeping range of topics with insight, clarity, and purpose. But, at its core, This is Marketing relies on a powerful premise: that marketing is about honest, genuine engagement and telling thoughtful, sincere stories. Moreover, he proposes that we can use the power of marketing to make the world a better place, championing empathy and understanding in the way we approach our businesses and our clients.
Have any book suggestions? Let us know in the comments!
So, over the past few weeks we’ve told you what a lead is and broken down and how to assign leads once you’ve gotten them. But what comes next? For those of use new to lead generation, once the thrill of finding a new client wears off, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what information we need to gather. Obviously, different types of businesses will need different types of leads, but there are a couple general things to that everyone should look for.
No matter what, make sure to gather and organize information about each and every lead. Some information is basic and should always be required, while other information is simply recommended to gather in order to help you create more specific plans for each client, or to strengthen relationships.
Required information is the kind of details you should get every time you get a lead. It’s the sort of basics that allow you to know exactly who the client is, what they want, and where you fit into the picture.
The following information is required for each Lead.
Once you’ve gotten the basics out of the way, you can move on to more nuanced information. This is where you can really dive deep, get a sense of what the client needs, the overall market, and create a more bespoke sales or marketing plan.
The following information is recommended for each Lead.
Document all customer contact (phone call, email, conference call, face-to-face) in the CRM.
This may seem like a lot of information to gather, but the reality is the more you gather the better. Think of yourself like a Sherlock Holmes style detective. You wouldn’t just gather one or two clues if you wanted to actually solve the case. You’d take your time, conduct interviews, and leave no stone unturned. Working with a client can be a bit like solving a case – the case of the perfect strategy. And in order to do that, you need to have a full understanding of the client, the scope of the project, and what the overall market looks like.
Now that you know what a lead is, how to divvy them up, and what information to get – it’s time to start gathering up those leads and make some clients happy!
In part one of our series, we introduced the idea of what a lead is and why they matter. But what do we do with leads once we get them? While it might seem like the hardest hurdle is getting leads, the reality is that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From there, it’s our job to make sure each lead is connected with, managed, and executed.
If you’re an entrepreneur working by yourself, moving the ball forward with a lead will rest solely on you. It will be your job to connect with your client, figure out solutions, negotiate services, and set prices. You’ll run the entire process yourself from start to finish.
But if you’re working with a larger team, things work a little differently.
For people with larger teams, decided who is in charge of which leads will become a crucial part of any process. Most leads will generally be evaluated for ownership by sales/marketing management. As a rule, they’re assigned by territory, state, and salesperson.
Depending on the scale and scope of your business, that will all either be handled interpersonally or digitally. Once the lead has been assigned to a salesperson, they will be loaded into a marketing automation tool (like IBM Watson) and then a customer relationship management system, or a CRM.
Whether your CRM is automated software or a system of your own design, you should follow the following basic action steps.
Actions Step for New Leads
Gathering information is one of the most important steps when it comes to gathering and working with leads. The more information on a client and their concerns we can collect, the more effectively we’ll be able to provide them with quality service.
Tune in later this week to learn more about what information to gather and how to create more opportunities for future leads.
As far as words go, “salesman” is a relatively new one. Before the word “salesman” entered our lexicon, European immigrants brought the term ‘drummer’ to North American shores. As villagers and townsfolk went about their daily lives, they would often hear a loud drumbeat kick up in the distance. From every corner of town, people would come in search of the source of the noise until, finally, they’d stumble upon someone with a cart full of goods.
It’s where marketers get the phrase “drumming up sales” from.
And whether we think of ourselves as salespeople or not – we are. From applying to a new job to drumming up new business in a region, sales are the lifeblood of what most of us do. And the best way to keep that blood flowing is through one thing: lead generation.
Regardless of what business you’re in, leads generally is important. But now, instead of trying to draw attention with a catchy drumbeat, we bring in business through sales and marketing. So, what exactly is a lead and how do we go about getting good ones?
The Basics of Sales Leads
A sales lead is a set of contact information (Name, Address, Phone, Email, etc.) from a person or business, which could facilitate a future sale. Traditionally a lead is a single person who represents a business that is looking to purchase your companies’ goods and/or services. Leads can be influencers or decision makers. The one attribute all leads have is that they’re related to a potential sale.
From there, leads can be broken down into two subcategories: qualified and disqualified.
Qualified leads are leads that produce immediate business. Instead of showing a passing interest or making comments about the potential to work together, they have a defined idea of what they want done and how. In most cases, qualified leads have the following in common:
When you’re trying to decide which type of lead to sink the vast majority of your time and resources into, it should always be qualified leads. They net you the most income and opportunity for your effort.
However, not every person who claims to be interested in doing business with us actually will or can. That’s where we get into category two: disqualified leads. This is the type of lead you don’t want to invest as much of your time and energy into. Maybe they’re interested in your service, but aren’t able to afford what you do or are uncertain how the two of you could work together at this time. Typically, you can tell someone is a disqualified lead if they do one of the following:
Knowing someone is interested in your business, but unable to take you up on a present offer may seem frustrating – but it’s a good thing! A disqualified lead, while the churn rate may be high, still retains the possibility to convert into a qualified lead. Moreover, disqualified leads can be great for something else: referrals. While you don’t need to spend an excessive amount of time on these types of leads, it’s always important to use these opportunities to network. When we build relationships with others and they’re impressed with our work, that can lead to organic referrals and future qualified leads.
Next post, we’ll review how to take these two types of leads and create concrete actions plans around them.
In the world of digital marketing, it can be easy to imagine that the most valuable type of impact you can make is a paid one. However, according to studies conducted by Impact BND, organic search leads to a 14.6% close rate, whereas outbound marketing leads only have a 1.7% close rate. In fact, some statistics point to 61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority.
So what is SEO, and how does a person go about growing their reach organically?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): A Primer
In layman’s terms, search engine optimization, or SEO, is a means of increasing your website’s traffic – and therefore it’s visibility. Most of this work is done through what we call “organic” or “non-paid” foot traffic on search engines, like Google. A search engine’s job is to piece through and rank all of the information found on the internet pertaining to a certain topic. Depending on how well your site is set up to present that information is what gives you a certain “ranking”, or order on a searching site.
Your goal, then, is to make sure your website and the content you produce is designed to give you the best possible ranking. For instance, my company is called NextStep. If someone who was interested in marketing and my company typed “nextstep marketing” into the Google search bar, my rank in the list of answers shows I have a high SEO score.
The objective is to increase your SEO score by creating custom, unique content that is powerful in its messages, provides your customers with valuable information, and shows you’re an expert in a topic or field. Because the more unique, valuable and highly rated the content, the less you’ll be competing with others.
And the less you compete with other’s for digital space, the higher your ranking will be.
The Power of SEO
When you take the time to invest in optimizing your website and its content, you’re ranking will increase. In other words, your website will be easier to search and find. This, in turn, increases the traffic on your site – aka “organic” SEO. So why does this matter? Does organic SEO really make that much of a difference compared to paid search ads?
Well, according to New Media Campaigns organic SEO is “about 5.66 times better than paid search ads.” Why? Simply put, people want honest, thoughtful information. While paid advertisement can be useful, the value of SEO is that it is generally created when people put thought into the content they’re creating and how they’re connecting with their audience.
While a largely impersonal, data mine approach may work for companies like Amazon, when the average consumer is looking for a business, they look local. In fact, nearly 86% of people who look for a particular type of business simply use Google Maps to see what’s in the area.
So, if you’re wanting to make sure you’re one of the first results that pops up the next time someone needs to book a massage or find a new doctor – your best bet for gaining some of their mindshare is by creating and maintaining organic SEO.
Tips and Tricks
For more information about creating a plan that will increase your SEO, contact us here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nextstep Marketing LLC Receives 2018 Best of Charlotte Award
Charlotte Award Program Honors the Achievement
CHARLOTTE October 21, 2018 -- Nextstep Marketing LLC has been selected for the 2018 Best of Charlotte Award in the Consulting Services category by the Charlotte Award Program.
Each year, the Charlotte Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Charlotte area a great place to live, work and play.
Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2018 Charlotte Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Charlotte Award Program and data provided by third parties.
About Charlotte Award Program
The Charlotte Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Charlotte area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.
The Charlotte Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy.
SOURCE: Charlotte Award Program
Charlotte Award Program
In grade school children are taught PEMDAS, an acronym meaning Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiply, Divide, Add, Subtract. It is a tool to ensure that the correct solution is found when solving complex math equations. That is the role of Sales Operations teams.
Sales Operations work as a brain or a logic board in a computer. They take in complex data, analyze it, synthesize it, and return output intended to keep things running smoothly. Sales Operations teams achieve this by examining training, sales teams, and system management and then implementing strategic plans that streamline the process from marketing all the way to closure of sales.
First, a sales Operations team analyzes the company itself. What is the product? Who is our target market? What are our company objectives? Using these questions, the process is begun. They analyze the market trends, the metrics of how the company is performing in relation to the above questions. They then take this preliminary data and work towards addressing blockages in the flow of sales and effectiveness of tactics across all components of the various branches of the company. This often begins with the sales teams.
Sales teams need to be efficient, prepared, and capable of carrying out their practices and procedures. Sales Operations will often begin with creating hiring procedures with Human Resources in order to create an excellent talent pool. From this baseline they then move towards providing that talent with everything they need to stay motivated, skilled, and on top of their market.
Sales Ops will help sales agents with product knowledge, backed by quality content, so that they can better inform their clients which leads to trust and loyalty. Sales Ops will then structure territories, incentive programs, and training programs to keep employees happy and competitive in their market. As the sales team moves forward with these various elements and strategies, Sales Ops will analyze the incoming data and adjust over time so that the sales team can remain competitive. But Sales Operations work with the sales team is not just about the human element.
Sales Ops is in charge of what tools of the trade the team will utilize to make their work efficient. This includes proposal building software, automated email scripts, CRMs, and other technological aids that allow the sales team to not become bogged in the minutiae of daily operations. The important balance that Sales Ops also needs to strike however, is not then bogging the team down with too many, or too complicated, technological aids. The goal is always efficiency in the system. Though sales, and the sales team, is the chief focus of Sales Operations they must also work closely with other company elements.
Sales Ops needs to be in consistent communication with all high-level members of the company. This includes C-level executives to heads of marketing. Communication in the company community ensures that the procedures Sales Operations is trying to enact do not break with company objectives or cause friction with the departments sales works closely with. Sales Ops can also help create marketing strategies with the marketing team based on the data they receive from sales, keeping everyone focused on the right target even as it shifts over time.
The goal of Sales Operations is efficiency. The product of the modern age, Sales Ops teams are becoming more prevalent and more skilled with each passing year, and their importance cannot be overstated. By working with all levels of company management, analyzing the data, and organizing the company marching orders Sales Operations are designed to help keep everyone on target, on message, and most importantly in the black.
Come back soon for our future breakdown of roles in a Sales Operations team and common tools of the trade.
Is your business keeping up with the digital revolution? If you want to generate more leads and increase your customer base, it's best you create a website. If you’re not tech-savvy the prospect of creating a website may seem daunting, but we’re here to tell you that you don’t need to be a tech geek to build your website.
Weebly takes the coding out of website design and building so all you have to focus on is dragging and dropping templates and text to create a website that represents your business in the online world. There’s a reason that over 40 million people and businesses use Weebly to power their websites.
Here are 7 reasons to like Weebly websites:
1. Ease of Use
Weebly is the simplest website builder out there. Using its drag and drop format to build a professional website could feasibly be done in just a few hours. Even the most advanced templates and tools on Weebly are simple to understand and easy to use.
2. Flexible Templates
Not only are Weebly’s templates up-to-date, eye-catching, and trendy, they are beautifully presented on all screens. No matter if a visitor is viewing your website from a home-based computer, a laptop, a tablet, or a mobile phone, the website will always display the appearance that you created.
Every business wants their website to show up on Google and other popular search engines. Weebly provides its website builders with a tab dedicated to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which has all the options and advanced settings that makes it easy for Google and other popular search engines to find your site.
4. Widgets and Tools
Weebly’s widgets and tool make your website more interactive and user-friendly, which keeps people on your site longer and increases the chance of visitors becoming customers. You can place the chat widget on your website, making it convenient for visitors to communicate with you or other representatives of your business. Weebly tools like Accordion and Tabs allow you to format your website in ways that are visually appealing and comprehensible.
5. Powerful Blog
Blogging is one of the best ways for businesses to build their online presence. Using keywords in your blog posts can even improve your SEO! Thankfully, Weebly has bloggers covered using the same easy-to-use drag and drop format. Weebly’s blogs can stand alone or be incorporated into a larger site depending on your needs.
“What we set out to do is empower smaller merchants to have the same checkout experience as Amazon. Let’s give them the tools to effectively compete," David Rusenko, Weebly’s CEO says it all. Not only are Weebly-based e-commerce sites easy to build, they have a smooth user-interface, making it easy for customers to get the products they need and want.
7. Visitor Statistics
Every business owner knows to track their stats. Weebly provides a free Hit Counter, which accurately tracks the amount of visitors to your site by their IP address. The provided statistics help you run your business more easily, giving you data that reveal which of your marketing tactics work best and bring in more traffic.
If you’d like more information or any business consultation to help your business grow to its potential, feel free to contact us!
Weebly Websites Charlotte, Weebly Websites Austin
They lurk in the shadows. They feed when no one is watching. And you invited them in.
They are your monthly and annual subscriptions and they are here to suck you dry.
For many people, both professionally and personally, keeping track of where money goes is a universal concern. With the rise of auto-renewal and subscription services it has never been easier to lose track of who is getting paid what and how much they are being paid.
“Vampire Debt” is the process by which these subscriptions and auto-paying services begin to accumulate and drain your bank account of money, but are done quietly and slowly enough that it goes unnoticed. Thankfully there are ways to kill vampires.
As in many circumstances the first step is identifying the problem. In this instance it begins with a series of questions.
• How many subscriptions or auto-pays are currently operating?
• Who and what are they and what value do they provide?
• How much do they cost?
• Are they all being paid from one account or from several? If several, how many?
These four questions should begin to frame the problem fully and allow for ample understanding of the current situation. From here the problem can begin to be addressed fully.
Following the diagnosis comes the decision making process. Examine the items and determine what services or subscriptions are critical. If it is used daily or is the cornerstone to the system, designate it as “Keep”. From there take any other service or subscription and weigh its value to its cost. Systematically move through each service and designate it as “Keep” or “Cancel”.
Once everything is labeled it is time to consolidate. Begin by shutting down all services or subscriptions designated as “Cancel”. Then take all the services marked “Keep” and place them under as few payment accounts (credit cards) as possible. If they can be moved to a single card do so. That will make it easier to manage and maintain monthly.
With the vampires removed the final step is vigilance. At least twice a year re-do the process as needed and make sure any new services stay within your current system. In no time at all your Dracula sized will be reduced to little Vampire Bat.
By: Paul Davis, Jr.
With everything you have on your plate, why should you prioritize reputation management? Because 81% of online shoppers conduct research before they make their big purchases, and your company won't make the cut if it's dogged by dissatisfied reviews or negative journalism. Here are 4 ways to keep your online reputation strong and attractive.
1. Address false claims. Do regular online searches on your company name and products. See what the competition and your customers are saying about you. If it's not true, intervene, and don't forget to involve your legal team if necessary.
2. Correct misinformation. If you see false information published about your company or its products, don't just call it out. Provide the correct information and request that it replace the false material. If this is impossible, request that it be displayed as an addendum where it will have maximum visibility to site visitors.
3. Answer common questions accurately. Potential and existing customers often ask the same questions repeatedly. Draft a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document and post it on your website. Make sure it's available to your customer service staff. Making your answers consistent makes misunderstanding far less likely.
4. Appreciate positive feedback. When you get glowing reviews or testimonials, make sure to offer your thanks. Satisfied customers are your reputation's lifeblood, and they are (unfortunately) less likely to take time to write a review than someone with a gripe. Make sure you show your gratitude!
Reputation management is a key element of any digital marketing strategy, and these 4 concepts will help your company shine in the online marketplace. Do you have more questions? Let us know, and we can help you build a strategy tailored to your organization's needs.
Tags: The Importance of Reputation Management, Online Reputation Management, Reputation Management a Digital Marketing Strategy