Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Trip Through the Sales Funnel

A Trip Through the Sales Funnel image eEoN69a4 820x326 600x238

Kim wants to purchase a crib for her newborn daughter. She works a lot, so she’s dreading being shown model after model by an overeager salesperson at the store. To save time, Kim figures she’ll pick out the crib on her own.

She starts searching various websites, finding information on the prices and features of different cribs on the market. Kim needs the safest crib for her precious bundle of joy, but she also needs an affordable crib. This is also Kim’s first child, so she doesn’t know what brands or models to look at, let alone what extra features she needs to keep her baby safe.

Kim’s search leads her to a blog post on the importance of crib safety written by the leading supplier of cribs in the industry. After signing up for their newsletter and receiving a promotional email, Kim decides to purchase a crib from their catalog. She spends the next week reviewing options on their website and orders a mid-tier crib that meets all of her needs.

Kim just traveled through the exciting marketing/sales funnel.

A Trip Through the Sales Funnel image P7S6bbhW 820x500 600x365

The marketing/sales funnel is nothing more than a model that illustrates the sales process. Anybody with a need or desire for your product pours into the top of the funnel. It’s then up to your business to introduce your product to those people and secure them as loyal, satisfied customers.

The model takes the shape of a funnel because not everybody is like Kim. Most people leak out along the way. Not everybody who sees your website will purchase your product. The goal of a company is to retain as many people as possible from one stage to the next, satisfying the needs of many people who, like Kim, will benefit from what you offer.

While each funnel is unique, there is a common skeleton that can be applied to any company’s selling process:

Stage 1: Awareness and Interest

This is the top of the funnel. There are many people with a problem that your product can help solve. Kim has a baby, and that baby can’t sleep on the floor. She needs a crib.

Your company’s task at this stage is to attract people to your product. There are many ways to do this, from advertising to blog posts (hi there!). It’s important to create a connection between your company and the solution to the buyer’s problem. From there, you can escort them to the next stage of the process.

Stage 2: Consideration and Intent

Once the person knows what their problem is and has looked into solutions, they’ll be weighing options and deciding on a purchase. Kim has to choose between a simple refurbished wooden crib, a fancy feature-packed crib, or an inexpensive box for her daughter to sleep in. Which is best for her?

Now that they know of your company and what you offer, these people need information to guide them to a purchase. Kim knows you offer a brand new crib with many safety features to protect her baby. But does she really know the benefits of those features?

The best move you can make is to set up an informative product page or landing page, or even a catalog to give the potential customer the knowledge they need to figure out what’s right for them. Present your product as the best solution, Kim’s golden crib, what her precious daughter deserves.

Stage 3: Purchase and Retention

The buyer has chosen their product, and they want to purchase it. If they chose your product, congratulations! But you don’t want to be temporary, you want to be the permanent solution to their problems.

Kim decided to buy your crib, but she also needs to buy a stroller and car seat for her newborn. Lucky for you, she’s already your customer. If she loves your crib, she should also love your stroller and car seat. Soon she would also need a booster seat, a toddler bed, and more. These lifetime purchases are very valuable for both Kim and your company.

On your end, have a simple and streamlined purchasing system. Make the purchase itself as easy as possible. And keep customers satisfied. Customer loyalty is extremely important in the long run, as explained above.

The Future of the Funnel

With the evolution of technology and the business model, the viability of the funnel has been coming into question. Nowadays, people may not be flowing so smoothly through a linear process. Kim may have found a link to your crib on Twitter, and jumped right to the check-out page where she immediately purchased your product. Or maybe she has already bought cribs in the past, and is jumping into the funnel halfway through. With the importance of customer lifetime value, the funnel may not even be a funnel at all, but a circle or web.

Sure the sales funnel may be growing somewhat obsolete, but it’s still a useful tool in marketing and sales. By laying out a sales funnel for your company, you can segment your business or website to capture the most sales.

You can also analyze bottlenecks in the process and find out where people are getting clogged and not coming through. Maybe Kim can’t access the check-out page of your website, preventing her from buying your crib. This creates a substantial bottleneck in your business model.

So, you may say the sales funnel is dead. But to you naysayers, I present to you Kim. Kim traveled through the sales funnel, and now has the perfect crib for her baby.

Source: B2C_Business

A Trip Through the Sales Funnel

A Plan Based On “Bluebirds” Is Not A Plan

Every sales person loves a “bluebird.” Those are those orders that suddenly appear, we didn’t know about them, they weren’t in our pipeline, but every once in a while the Earth, Moon, Sun and Stars align and a customer wants to buy, without our ever being involved. Bluebirds happen, we gladly accept the order and proclaim victory when they happen.

Bluebirds are parts of what happens with every sales person and in every territory. However, we can’t build a plan based on bluebirds. If we did, our plan is pure wishful thinking.

As sales professionals it is our responsibility to maximize our revenue, share, and growth within the territory. We establish account and territory plans to help us do this. With marketing, we drive demand generation programs and we prospect–all aimed at identifying and qualifying a sufficient number of opportunities to fill our pipelines. We develop deal strategies focused on maximizing our ability to win those qualified deals.

It’s an endless cycle, we continually have to assess what we are doing in each area in developing our overall business plan. We continually look to improve our effectiveness and sharpen our impact in each area–leaving less to chance.

“Run rate” business is different from a bluebird. We know what causes run rate business, we know how to forecast it, how to drive it–even though we may not be able to predict every transaction. Run rate business is manageable and we must include how we will manage it as part of our plan.

Our responsibility to ourselves, our managers, our company and colleagues is to build a plan that enables us to achieve our goals.

Because, everything doesn’t always work as planned, for example, we never close 100% of the deals in our pipelines, we have to over plan–that is we have to qualify more opportunities than needed to close to have a healthy pipeline. This ripples through everything we do–prospecting, marketing programs, account and territory plans. But it’s our responsibility to take all these things into account, not leaving things to chance or counting on luck.

When luck happens, when we get a bluebird, that’s great–it gives us a little buffer or breathing room. It helps us overachieve our goals. But “luck” can favor the competition just as well, luck isn’t something we can predict or forecast. We can’t assign a 10%, 50%, 85% probability to luck!

So if we are to achieve our goals, we have to have a plan that doesn’t count on bluebirds or luck. Yes, I know there is a lot of “stuff” about “making our own luck,” but that still requires planning and execution–the only problem is you can’t forecast it.

Celebrate your bluebirds, they’re great, but build and execute a plan.

Source: B2C_Business

A Plan Based On “Bluebirds” Is Not A Plan

How to Get Someone to Do Something You Need That Isn’t Important to Him

How to Get Someone to Do Something You Need That Isn't Important to Him image 42c1c115 80d5 4ad5 b63c a6598bfadb644

Imagine you’re on a deadline that’s important to you. The project might not qualify as “mission critical” to the rest of the organization, but it’s certainly essential for your own team. So far, so… ordinary.

Now you run into a road block: a task wherein you need input from someone from another department, or where you need the other person to actively do something. For example, you might be working on a new advertising campaign, but you need somebody in Legal to sign off on it. Or you can’t go any further on writing the quarterly report until you get spreadsheets from someone in Accounting and performance statistics from Engineering. You can’t complete your project plan without it.

The process works fine when your contact in the other department is motivated to help you get the work done. But what happens when he isn’t? Sometimes, your request is a distraction to the other person’s business goal. This can be for many reasons, from self-interest (“You aren’t an item on my performance review!”) to politics (“Your department competes with mine, so why should I make you look good?”) to simple overwork (“I’d love to help, but I’m already behind on the stuff I have to do. You’ve got to wait; how’s November sound?”) – and probably many more. This happens entirely too often, doesn’t it?

Ideally, you’ve already created alliances across the organization, so that your colleagues want to help you. Sometimes that isn’t the case (though perhaps this situation will teach you to think ahead next time!).

So, I asked several people what they found to be effective in getting someone to help them with a project task. Here’s the best advice I heard.

Ask in person

Hit their desk. Ask for help in person. It’s difficult to turn down a request from someone who is standing in front of you.

“I would make the request politely,” one friend told me. “Then I would show up in person the next day, with a big grin and happy expectations all over my face. When the person said the task wasn’t done, my smile would collapse. I’d stare at my shoes, look really crestfallen, and plead that I really need it and please can they do it and what can I do to help them get it done. I’d try to get them to say something (anything) that I could do to help them get my request done. If they said something, I’d do it immediately.”

“Either way,” she said, “I’d be back the next day with the same routine. I guess that was kind of being a pain, but it usually sped up the process.”

Note the elements here: Approach the request as a plea for help (not a demand). Ask how the problem can be solved. Offer to assist in achieving the solution.

Most people are nice and they do want to help, especially when the request is personal. If they don’t… Well, my friend had a response for that, too. She’d ask the individual, “If you’re too busy, can someone else in your department do it? Like, say [name of his boss]?”…while pretending not to know he’s the individual’s boss.

Do a favor that helps your colleague.

Or, depending on your cynicism level, call it: Bribe them.

For us sensitive-new-age types who think of this as “give to get,” the premise is that you ask your colleague how you can help her. If you offer to share your expertise, area of knowledge, access to resources, the individual will recognize that you’re trying to save her time on her regular tasks; that frees up her time (as a groovy hippie I’d say “energy”) to devote to you. Or at least she’ll listen more carefully when you pursue a line of inquiry like, “Can you help me understand…” or, “I need to find this-or-that.”

“I offer a reciprocation for their assistance,” explains Jason Whitt at Geek Powered Studios. “Maybe I’ll help them with something they need. Or perhaps to show my appreciation, I’ll buy them lunch one day. The key for me is making sure that the person I’m making a request from feels like I appreciate the time they’re giving me.”

Make it easy to help you.

You’re already asking someone to do something that’s a distraction from their own tasks. So it behooves you to minimize the work the individual has to do.

“Instead of dumping the whole thing on someone, structure your request so they have to do as little as possible,” says Heather Stagl, author of 99 Ways to Influence Change and coach for Organizational Change Agents at Enclaria.

One option is to step back from asking the colleague to do the task; rather, ask for enough information that you can do it yourself.

“Approach it as if you are gathering valuable information from them, and you are not asking them to do the work,” advises business and career coach Laura Lee Rose. “Share your current situation, and ask their advice on how to go about accomplishing it. Ask them what they think your next step should be.” People often give their opinions and advice freely, Rose points out; take advantage of this human trait.

But be prepared to do the work, with the information and advice that your colleague gives you. “This may mean that you create the spreadsheet with their information. Or that you do the research from the links and pointers that they give you,” Rose suggests. The important point is: “Do everything that you can possibly do to reduce their effort and time.”

And, I think privately to myself, there’s always the chance that the colleague will respond, “Aw, let me just take care of it for you. It’ll be faster.”

Whatever you do, Rose says, “Approach the topics with an appreciation of their time, their talent and their experience. Treat them as special. Realize that they are in the best at what they do and therefore are much in demand.”

Get their buy-in on helping the company.

If the person works at the same company as you do (as opposed to, say, an outside contractor), at some level he should be aware that the organization benefits (in revenue or some other measure) by the successful completion of this project. That is, establish the value to the individual of what you are doing. Ultimately, your project should result in financial gain for the company in some way; communicate that as something valuable to the co-worker.

Tell the individual why he’s the expert you need, with appreciation and respect. “The goal is to approach your colleague with patience and understanding, and a little bit of flattery,” says freelance journalist Danny Groner. “Don’t make them feel like they are being manipulated, however. Something like, ‘I wanted to call on your expert eye for graphic design for a project I’m working on. Do you have a moment?’” Then the individual won’t feel like he’s doing you a favor; rather, he’ll recognize that he is the best person to chime in the subject at hand.

The respect is more than words. Respect the colleague’s time, too. “Give people a heads up ahead of time – even if it’s just an hour – especially if it’s a big project,” says Groner. “Drop the idea ahead of time with a brief overview of the project and why they’ll be the best person to assist with it…. Sneaking up on people can be a jarring experience for the recipient.”

To get buy-in, it may help to show the value of helping you with your project – both personally and as a member of the organization. “Are there other people in the organization that are helping you with your project? Point it out to use the concept of ‘social proof,’” suggests Stagl.

Establish the urgency, too: Clarify what will happen if this doesn’t get done. “What is the impact on them, on the business, on you?” Stagl adds.

And go for personal self interest: Mention your intent to tell his boss how cooperative she was in getting your project completed. (Don’t forget to follow through.)

If all else fails, of course: Bring in the chocolate. Bake brownies. People are willing to do amazing things for food.

Source: B2C_Business

How to Get Someone to Do Something You Need That Isn’t Important to Him

5 Things I Wish Hiring Managers Knew About Corporate Recruiters

5 Things I Wish Hiring Managers Knew About Corporate Recruiters image HighFive

I have been in the recruiting and sales game for 20 years. I have had the opportunity to work with hiring managers of all shapes and sizes. I have worked with some great ones and I have worked with difficult ones.

Somewhere along the way, I have learned that picking battles is essential in this HR business. Some battles I choose to take on, while others I let lie and walk away from confrontation. After all, the hiring manager usually gets their way.

Recruiters are dispensable and we know that. We are the first people to go in an organization when hiring slows down or if budgets get tight. I think all recruiters have heard “Thank you for your service, we can’t afford to keep you any more”.

We all get wrapped up in the hiring process. Everybody needs their candidate yesterday and every managers need is the most important in the world. Believe me, recruiters get that.

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to recruiters. Here are some things I wish that managers understood.

Here are 5 Things I wish Managers Knew About Recruiters

  1. Recruiters Want Managers to Get the Hire. We want to make sure that they are successful. Why? When they achieve success, we achieve recognition. Ultimately, recruiters are successful when managers make the hire.

  2. Recruiters Become Emotionally Involved With the Process. We are in the people business. We are dealing with people’s lives. For everyone we place, there are the ones we have to tell that they were not chosen for the job. If a position is put on hold or if there is a no-hire scenario, we hear about it. If there is a poor hire, it reflects poorly upon us. We too want the best person for the job.

  3. Recruiters Have Multiple Requisitions. This is so often forgotten. Recruiters have multiple managers we are working with. We also want to work for people who appreciate us as colleagues. We are helping you, so there has to be some mutual respect. Most recruiters will jump through hoops for you if he/she feels valued.

  4. We Will Most Likely Cross Paths Again. Recruiters move around and no job is permanent these days. Managers should be cognizant of that. It is in the manager’s best interest to become friends with their recruiter rather than an enemy. Managers will switch jobs too and may need a recruiters help in the future.

  5. Recruiters are Human. We do not carry the letter “S” on a cape on our back. We try. Believe me, we try. It is just not possible to do everything a manager wants in a specific time frame all the time. We will put our best foot forward and screen the candidates and get you the candidates you need. We do have lives, and families just like managers though. Sometimes Recruitment just takes time.

Recruiting is a partnership. It is a game of respect on both parties. When managers and recruiters are both on the same page, success is sure to follow.

Source: B2C_Business

5 Things I Wish Hiring Managers Knew About Corporate Recruiters

Why B2B Marketing Fails – Part 2 – The Process – Social Proof!

Does Your B2B Marketing Include Social Proof?

There are five pillars of B2B marketing and sales success.

The second pillar deals with the Buying Process and factors affecting this process. There are four main factors affecting the buying process. These factors are;

1. The Five Buying Stages

2. Social Proof

3. Why B2B Companies Buy

4. The Five Influencers

The last article I wrote was on The Five Buying Stages in the Buying Process of B2B Buyers. You can read about these stages in the previous article.

The next factor is Social Proof.

Social proof, especially in B2B marketing, is important to show new prospects that others believe in your products and services.

Why is this important?

In general, when we are unsure of ourselves, or when a situation is unclear or ambiguous, when uncertainty reigns, we are most likely to look to, and accept, the actions of others as correct.

What does this mean?

It means that people will believe what others do, if they are not quite sure what to do themselves. It means that if you haven’t completely convinced another company about your products and services, the people in this other company want to know what other people are saying, and have done, with your products and services.

They want SOCIAL PROOF before they will proceed.

So what is social proof? From Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion he states that the principle of social proof is; “The greater the number of people who find an idea correct, the more the idea will be correct.”

And there is another important condition for social proof. The principle of social proof works best when we are observing the behaviour of people we believe are similar to us.

So, why is social proof so important to your business, and how do you provide social proof for your business?

Because you are trying to convince people who don’t know you, or your business, IE: your prospects; they need a way to feel assured that if they buy your products and/or services, they will be getting what you said they will get.

They want proof. They want to mitigate as much of the risk as possible.

You can provide social proof to your business in several ways.

One of the most common ways is through Authority, to associate your business with a business that everyone knows and trusts. A good example of this is when a technology company has Microsoft or IBM as a partner.

If these two trusted companies believe in your company to let your company become a partner, then your company must be trustworthy and reliable.

Another common method of social proof is with Case Studies & Testimonials. These show that other companies trust you because they have done business with you, and have given you an endorsement through the case study and testimonial.

However, there is a danger here. Many companies collect case studies and testimonials, but they are like their websites. They are too similar to everyone else’s case studies and testimonials. They are weak and commonplace.

Very few companies do case studies and testimonials that sell. If done correctly, case studies and testimonials differentiate your company from you competitors, and make your company stand out from the rest.

They also help define your Unique Value Proposition.

How to Put Social Proof to Work

Most people are imitators. So, if you want someone to do something, show others doing it.

Here are a few specific applications of this idea:

• List testimonials of satisfied customers and clients.

• Feature testimonials by those who have been “converted” from another product or service.

• Show pictures of people using your product or service.

• Relay case histories of some of your best customers or clients. Show people similar to your prospect using your product or service.

• Show the general excitement of others who have discovered your product or service.

• Mention how long your company has been around. (A subtle indication of popularity.)

• Tout the number of products sold.

• Display the names of customers or clients you serve.

• Say how long your product or service has been a best-seller.

• Cite information on your market leadership.

• Show important or well-known people using your product or service.

• Display a seal of approval by a rating organization.

• Cite favorable reviews.

• Cite mentions in the media.

If you want to stand out from your competition, stand out from the crowd, get the social proof you need to convince your prospects to buy from you.

If you want some help getting it right, then please contact me through my email below.

Source: B2C_Business

Why B2B Marketing Fails – Part 2 – The Process – Social Proof!

Marketing with Events and Developing a Style Guide for Your Business

Tablet Readers RejoiceEdit

Its time again for another community news and information roundup. Here are the key insights from the blogs and communities we follow across the Web. It’s our weekly survey of what the small business community online is discussing. Enjoy and contribute.

Use Events to Grow Your Business (Event Supremacy)

Yes, search, social and mobile marketing are important for your business. But another very powerful yet sometimes less talked about approach is through events. If you want to learn more about how small businesses can use events to promote their brand, look no further. Rich Brooks, founder of the Agents of Change Conference, discusses his approach with host Vernon T. Foster in this podcast.

Your Organization Needs a Style Guide (Social Change Consulting)

No matter what kind of organization — business, non-profit or anything else — unless you plan to stay a solo act, you’ll need to plan for growth. One of the tricks here can be scaling your organization so that everyone understands how you do things. Here Justin P. Clark shares a technique from the non-profit world that business owners can use too. Adopt a style guide for your company.

Grow Your Business by Creating Something New (The Attorney Marketing Center)

You’ve heard the often repeated advice that entrepreneurs must work on their business not just in it. Here David M. Ward explains one important way to accomplish this simply by creating something new. Whether you are trying to grow a law practice or some other kind of business entirely, its about more than just taking care of day to day stuff.

Figure Out Your Ideal Customer (BizLaunch Blog)

Another way of growing your business is by defining your ideal customer. Here Lora Crestan, owner of Solstice Group, discusses creating a profile of the perfect customer or client your business aspires to serve. The exercise helps you direct your marketing efforts and create products and services specific to meet that customer’s needs.

Why You Need Content Marketing Strategy (Small Business eCommerce Blog)

Content marketing is an important part of promoting your business online. But, in this post, Simon Horton also points out that without a strategy your content marketing efforts are likely to be ineffective. Whether you run an eCommerce or other business, here’s a look at how to develop a strategy for those marketing efforts.

Create the Perfect About Page (Papermark Blog)

Your about page is more important than you think. It not only tells people about you and your business. It may also determine whether or not they decide to become your client or customer. Janice Hostager has more insights here and in the BizSugar community about how to get your about page right.

18 Tips for Reaching Your Target Audience (Smart Marketerz)

We’ve heard about developing a profile for your ideal customer. Here blogger Erik Emanuelli talks about reaching your target audience — and some advice about how to get it done. In the BizSugar community, Emanuelli also chats about how to define who your target audience is in the first place.

Get Some Extra Client Insight (Black Enterprise)

Beyond the importance of developing a target audience and ideal client, you should also know as much as you can about those clients. Here Carolyn M. Brown suggests Grapevine6 to give you more insight into your LinkedIn connections, for example. Think about how to get more insight into your customers.

10 Lessons to Learn About Blogging (Denise Mooney)

Mooney lists quite a few lessons learned blogging over the last year. But for small business owners, the most important one may be to treat your blog as a business. Here’s a bit more discussion on that point in the BizSugar community.

The Importance of Color in Your Marketing (SF Gazette)

You might be surprised how important a role color choice makes in Web design. In this post, Bruna Martinuzzi, founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd., explores the psychology of color and how it can impact the success of your business. Consider the role color plays in your marketing efforts.

Drop us an email at to tell us what you think we should be sharing in our next community roundup. Or contribute to where we go each week to find the best and freshest in small business content.

Tablet Readers Rejoice via Shutterstock

The post Marketing with Events and Developing a Style Guide for Your Business appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Source: Small Business Trends

Marketing with Events and Developing a Style Guide for Your Business

7 Things You Must Do to Salvage Your Annual Fundraising

7 Things You Must Do to Salvage Your Annual Fundraising image Calendar1

It was my first week as a new development manager for a mid-sized, regional nonprofit. I was astonished at what I found.

This well-resourced, highly regarded organization, the envy of other nonprofits in our area, had NO annual fundraising program.

Sure, they faithfully mailed an appeal twice each year, kept meticulous data, and sent out prompt thank-you notes. They threw a ton of lovely events and had grants coming out of their ears.

But they were losing money and didn’t even know it.

Why? They were not managing their donors.

Although this organization was blessed with an effortless, constant flow of new gifts, and a plethora of mid-level, repeat donors, there was zero effort to understand who those donors were or nurture them into higher-level, deeply engaged partners.

There was no thoughtful planning. There was no analysis of what was working, where to focus, or strategy for more effective appeals and campaigns.

Lamentably, this scenario is rampant in the nonprofit world.

Annual fundraising is the neglected, overlooked step-child of development.

Although we know how to run events and we shower attention on donors who send the big checks, our lower and mid-level donors tend to slip through the cracks.

While those smaller gifts don’t generate the excitement of your gala’s net revenue or the $10,000 check from a major donor, smaller gifts are collectively just as important, if not more.

Why are donors of smaller gifts worthy of your time? Because the consistent, deliberate nurturing of these donors year-after-year is the catalyst for future major gifts, capital campaign support, and bequests.

Annual fundraising is the building block of your entire development program.

In addition to generating significant unrestricted funds on its own, a well-run annual fundraising program illuminates which donors are worthy of your time and money.

When you pay attention, you’ll identify the most engaged, most committed, and best prospects for a long-term, high-value partnership in your mission.

So what does a strong annual fundraising program look like? Here are 7 must-have components of an effective annual fundraising program:

1. Develop a written plan specific to annual fundraising.

A strong annual fundraising program must have a system. You need to establish processes and write them down.

Your written, strategic plan should include goals, tactics, timeline, and budget. It will keep you accountable, consistent, and on task.

2. Hire dedicated and knowledgeable annual fundraising staff.

You need someone on your team who knows what they are doing when it comes to annual fundraising, or who makes a consistent effort to learn. This person has been explicitly (if not exclusively) tasked with managing annual giving.

Perhaps this person is an annual giving manager. The duties may fall on a development director or an executive director. In any case, annual fundraising must be a clear priority in their workplan and the person in charge must be knowledgeable.

These tasks are not an afterthought to be undertaken only when and if there’s time.

3. Prioritize donor loyalty and giving history along with gift size.

Usually it’s the big gifts that get all the attention. Without a doubt, cultivating major donors is important. Yet you must also pay attention to and praise donors who give consistently, regardless of gift size.

Cumulatively, these faithful donors may give just as much as a larger donor. With the right cultivation, some will become major donors themselves.

4. Treat all communications and conversations, not just solicitations, as an important part of annual fundraising.

You need to do more than send a few appeals and newsletters each year.

You must nurture donors with interactions that are relevant, personal, and carefully planned in advance.

This means calling your donors to thank them or having your board write hand-written notes on a newsletter. It means sending an unexpected thank-you letter to your multi-year, $25 donors or a “welcome” video to new donors.

It means going above and beyond a typical appeal.

If you have staff who are specifically tasked with communications or marketing, you must integrate and strategically coordinate messages with your annual donors in mind.

5. Listen to your data!

Effective annual fundraising programs use their data to identify and measure responses of important donor segments.

They use their database to track the behavior of those groups such as who is or is not responding to appeals, emails, or invitations.

They constantly test and measure the performance of each activity and adjust their plan based on their data.

6. Integrate annual fundraising into your overall development program.

Annual fundraising can’t operate in a silo.

For example, you’ll want a plan to follow-up with attendees of your event and encourage them to become regular donors.

You’ll want to think about how major donors can best be incorporated into your annual campaign. You’ll need to work closely with special events and major gift managers to make this happen.

7. Invest in tools and services to do the job efficiently.

Without good tools, it’s impossible to run an effective annual fundraising program.

You must have a user-friendly, up-to-date donor database sophisticated enough to manage and track your donors.

You need easy-to-use email software. You need to budget for quality service providers such as printers, designers and mailing services. These will make your job easier and allow you to spend your time fundraising rather than stuffing envelopes.

Does your organization have some work to do to prioritize annual fundraising?

Implementing all of these components is obviously not going to happen overnight. Start small by choosing one or two areas where you can improve.

Try one new tactic to thank your most loyal donors and track their response. Carve out time to evaluate your last appeal, or create an annual fundraising budget if you’ve never done this before.

If you are farther down this road, perhaps it’s time to think about hiring an annual giving manager. Try doing a better job integrating with other development functions.

As for my organization, our entire development team worked very hard to strengthen our annual giving program. After a couple of years, we made great progress.

It’s a good thing we did. Our future depended on it. Yours does too.

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Source: B2C_Business

7 Things You Must Do to Salvage Your Annual Fundraising

Balancing Life in the Summer As A Work From Home Mom

Balancing Life in the Summer As A Work From Home Mom image IMG 7361 e1401139072399 400x600

This week, school got out for the summer. As a work from home mom, my annual challenge is upon me – how to balance working and being a mom with the kids home all day.

My daughters are 5 and 9, and the thought of what a full-time babysitter would cost me gives me nightmares. Working from home, I love to have them home in the summer. The next two and a half months will involve balancing work, meetings, vacation, summer camps and anything else that tends to pop up in the summer.

Many of those working in social media like myself are work from home parents. During the school year, the schedule is easy to manage – work during school hours, take a few hours off in the afternoon to pick up kids and take them to activities. During the summer, that all goes out the window.

This will be my 4th summer as a work from home mom. Here is what I have learned the past few years about balancing work and kids.

- Set a schedule.

This is very important. Just like during the school year, having a daily schedule will set the tone for the day. It really depends on the ages of your kids and how many you have home. What works for me is to let my daughters play and hang out until mid-afternoon, allowing me to get as much work done as possible, then we go to the pool. Of course, if there are any camps or other activities you plan accordingly.

- Set expectations – for both your clients and your kids.

If you are going to be on summer vacation or having to work different hours because of summertime, let your clients know. Be upfront about it – they need to know when they can contact you. Also, tell your kids what you expect from them during the summer. With your schedule, tell them when you need to be left alone (if they are older) for a period of time each day or what you expect of them if you have a conference call. They need to know that even though you are home, you still have a job.

- It’s okay to bribe every now and then.

I do this more than I care to admit. We have a pool & waterpark we like to go to. I tell my girls if they let me get my work done, then we can go to the pool that afternoon. This especially comes in handy if I have a big conference call. The reality is that sometime we do what we have to do to get it done.

- Enjoy the summer.

Yes it may get crazy working with kids around, but it’s still summer and your kids are only kids for so long. If you need to take a day and just be a mom (or dad), do it and don’t feel guilty. Next summer your kids will be a year older and may not want mom or dad around, so soak it up as long as you can!

How do you balance working from home when your kids are home for summer? Please do share – I would love to know what you do!

Source: B2C_Business

Balancing Life in the Summer As A Work From Home Mom

How To Improve Your PPC Conversion Rates

Secure Affiliate Marketing

Improving PPC conversion rates is a very important thing, obviously. This is not an issue if you already are killing it, but I assume if you were, you would not be reading this article. This article is for the people out there that are trying to grow without the spend. If this is an issue for you with your campaigns, please, read on.

1. Align your ad copy and your offer.

This seems to be a place where we lose a lot of ads that just don’t deliver the goods! I am not talking about linear alignment on the ad text….I am talking about delivering what you say you are going to when you place the ad! For example….if you have an ad that states that by clicking on the ad, you will save 10 percent because you clicked on it off of Facebook or Youtube, for example. If you click on that ad and it takes you to a generic page for the company that has nothing to do with the offer that you were interested in, you will be in for a rude awakening.

2. If you are not setting goals, you are doing it wrong.

When you are trying to get your conversion rate up, you will need to see what you actually need to do to achieve your goals. You don’t want to be a ship out to see not knowing where the hell you want to go, so set some goals and find out what is needed. For example, if you are only a little bit away from your goals, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to evaluate that is see if you truly need an overhaul to hit your goals, or if you simply need a few little tweaks here and there.

3. Testing out your landing pages should be something you get quite familiar with.

Google and other companies have tools that allow you to set up tests on your landing pages, without having the pain in the butt hassle to learn webdev, etc. (especially helpful for guys like me that can’t be bothered to do it ourselves). Try changing up your headlines, or your body of your page. Also, try different combinations of the above. Also, you can try taking away some of the unnecessary navigation at the top of your pages. As your landing page may be “good,” maybe its pushing people away without you even knowing it. Also, this should give you the chance to maybe switch up color schemes, etc.

I hope I have given you a few things to think about when it comes to landing pages. Please let us know what you think!

Source: John Chow Dot Com

How To Improve Your PPC Conversion Rates

Two Moms Create Business Niche With Prenatal Vitamin Water

bump water

When Stacy Rauen and Amber Wilcox were going through their respective pregnancies, they couldn’t believe there wasn’t an easier way to get their necessary prenatal vitamins. Both women had difficulty with the standard pills due to their size and taste. Those factors, mixed with persistent morning sickness, made getting the necessary vitamins tough.

That’s when the two women put their heads together and came up with a business idea. Wilcox told Small Business Trends:

“Since we were drinking so much water, especially sparkling water, and you need more water when you are pregnant, we thought, ‘Why can’t we sip our way to a healthy baby?’ We couldn’t believe there wasn’t an easier way to get the folic acid you need during pregnancy.”

bump water

Then Rauen, Wilcox and their husbands began looking into making their idea a reality. They did some Internet research and spoke to other moms and doctors to make sure there wasn’t a similar product already on the market.

Then they teamed up with a beverage development company, since they didn’t have any previous experience in the beverage industry. They conducted tasting rounds at their homes with friends and family. They hired a branding company to take care of things like their logo and website. Bump Water was officially in the works.

The two families worked long nights and weekends to make Bump Water a reality. They even poured their savings into the project. So to fund their initial production round, the first-time business owners held fundraisers for friends and family and started an Indiegogo campaign.

bump water

Now, the business is experiencing steadily growing sales on its website and They are also in talks with “quite a few major retailers,” according to the founders.

Even though they are seeing some success now, the founders said that starting a business in an industry that was new to them wasn’t without its challenges. Before Bump Water, Rauen worked as a magazine editor and Wilcox was a stay-at-home mom. So things like lead times from vendors and review time frames for major retailers were things they had to learn through trial and error.

But through it all, both founders said they are proud of their product and business plan. Even though they were unfamiliar with the beverage industry, they knew through their own personal experiences that there was a hole in the market. And they did something about it. That niche, Wilcox said, is how they were able to find success:

“Try to create a unique product that fits a specific need. We were amazed a product like Bump Water didn’t already exist, so we created it.”

Images: Bump Water

The post Two Moms Create Business Niche With Prenatal Vitamin Water appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Source: Small Business Trends

Two Moms Create Business Niche With Prenatal Vitamin Water

Vision: A Declaration To Just Do It

Vision: A Declaration To Just Do It image Leadership Vision

Creativity is Crucial

Organizations that enjoy a long history of success have usually figured out how to enable and integrate ongoing creativity. The notion of re-inventing yourself. You might be surprised to know that these types of organizations are in the definite minority.

Unfortunately, some people believe that creativity is a rare attribute possessed by only a select few … “the purview of the Chief Creativity Officer”.

I find this view to be a contradiction, because it has been my experience that people are curious by nature, and typically full of new ideas.

It is also a commonly held belief that people are creatures of habit, and they dislike change. And most management pundits will tell you that the only constant thing out there is change, and that you must adapt or die.

Despite these observations, many large organizations continue to find it extremely difficult to create new products, markets, campaigns, processes and so on.

This is especially true when it comes to leveraging the new Social Media and Digital Services Universe, which ArCompany believes is the untapped conduit for raw, customer-volunteered information. This information is high quality and often unseen by many companies.

So what is the root cause for this tendency to resist creativity and not implement change?

I suggest there is one primary root cause: the design of organizations.

Most large organizations that recognize this creativity shortfall, try to jump-start creativity by creating small “outboard” organizations to develop new products or new processes for performing operations. It is rare, however, that these “entrepreneurial enclaves” impact the long term core operations of the larger “mother ship” organization. Once they begin to demonstrate success, they typically continue to be held at arm’s length or are, in fact, further removed from the “mother ship” by being spun off into separate entities. The result is less than optimal leverage of any new creativity by the larger organization.

But assuming that we are all rational beings (which may be a leap!), this non-integration seems a somewhat irrational action. Why does this occur?

If you take a closer look at new and independent start-ups, you will notice a few important attributes:

  • a culture of inclusion

  • requires less evidence and more intuition for making decisions

  • faster at decision making and getting into action

  • a willingness to allow failures in the name of getting to the desired result

  • and a commonly held understanding of the desired result

This commonly held understanding of the desired result is Vision. In these early entrepreneurial organizations, the Vision gives the organization permission to create breakthroughs.

“Breakthrough Results” are defined by Mel Toomey and Ed Gurowitz of the Generative Leadership Group in their paper on Designing Systemic Change (1997) as: any result that is committed to in advance and that (a) exceeds what is predictable from past performance, even highly successful past performance, (b) makes a vital, lasting contribution to forwarding the organization’s vision and mission, and (c) leaves the organization in a new reality of what is possible in some area of performance.

A breakthrough produces a significant result that is discontinuous with the past. And as these breakthroughs occur, Organizations must also regularly adjust their Vision, to make it bigger, which in turn supports the cyclical enabling of more breakthroughs.

As the entrepreneurial organization first begins to evolve toward a larger organization, something profound occurs. The organization moves to protect its breakthrough result (e.g. new product, process, campaign, etc.) by creating and institutionalizing processes that move the breakthrough result from simply being a possibility to being feasible, and then ultimately to being an implemented certainty. This further leads to operating processes that dissuade expanding the Vision and are intolerant to change in order to protect the new operation. The organizational culture shifts to one of not inviting creativity and new ideas because they could threaten the new product or process that is now a “money making” certainty. The organization then begins to slowly nurture the new product or process through slow continuous incremental improvement activities (See Edward Deming and the TQM – Deming Cycle), but as a protection measure, shuts out additional radical activity that could produce new creativity breakthroughs.

You have often heard of the large company that acquires the smaller innovative organization, and then eventually kills it by accident. But this is not an accident. This tends to occur because of the installation of these new restrictive processes to protect the breakthrough, as mentioned above.

Don’t get me wrong, organizations need to practice continuous improvement, but to ensure real long term success, the organization must be designed to create an ongoing series of breakthroughs, in parallel with a more slow and steady diet of continuous incremental improvement. And as said earlier, a conscious cyclical approach to creating and updating the Vision is the mechanism for enabling breakthroughs. But what is the secret behind keeping this Vision / New Breakthrough cycle in play?

Declaration: Leadership And Management

Most have come to think of Leadership and Management as specific individuals or job descriptions. In fact, it is more useful to think of these terms as verbs, or actions performed by a constantly interchanging group of individuals.

I define management as the execution of the predictable to achieve desired results, while leadership is the execution of the unpredictable, yet possible. Leadership is more synonymous with breakthroughs, while management tends to be more akin to continuous improvement. Both leadership and management are actions that are required for success.

Vision sets a context for how the organization should operate, but because it is not tangible, not something hard that you can hold, and not based on evidence, it is a declaration. And much like the US Declaration of Independence, or the Nike slogan of “Just Do It!” referenced in the title of this Blog, a Vision requires the courage to simply “declare” a direction that is a breakthrough (discontinuous with the past). And usually this declaration must be done in the face of others demanding hard evidence where little exits.

This does not mean that you should make a declaration blindly and without any regard for competency, knowledge and resources in the area of interest. Charlie Parker (renowned saxophonist), said it well:

“You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.”

A Vision is a leadership declaration that clears an opening and empowers all in the organization for the creation of breakthroughs.

The Importance of Vision and Desired Outcomes

This blog on Vision is a follow up blog to the Preparation for Social Media: The Four Magic Questions (4MQ). In this 4MQ Blog, I wrote:

“Before we begin to answer the four magic questions (4MQ), the organization or event or problem should have a set of measurable objectives or outcomes that are created in the context of an organizational vision. The combination of the vision and the desired outcomes are the reference points for the “making a difference” in each of the four magic questions. When we say what’s working and making a difference, it means what’s working to provide the desired outcomes as created under the vision for the organization / group / event or problem. “

I recommend that you have a look at the 4MQ Blog if you haven’t already read it.

Creating a Vision: A Simple Process

This process requires the following tools: a suitably sized meeting room, pad boards, two colours of markers, eyes, hands, feet, brains, loud voices and courage!

Schedule a day to get the key stakeholder members of your organization together in one room (or via teleconference if it is the only option), and stress that this could be one of the most valuable days to the organization, so participation (which is different from attendance – you get a badge for that because it is easy to measure) is critical.

Relax the night before with a glass of wine or single malt scotch or whatever works for you, and let the day to day activities “drain from your brain”. Hit the hay early and get a good night’s sleep, so you will be fresh and on time in the morning.

Once at the session, get everyone to sit around a big table, facing each other. Typically, up to ten people is a good number for these sessions but they can be facilitated with twenty or more. You should err on being inclusive as opposed to exclusive.

Given that everyone has scheduled the entire day, don’t be in a hurry to complete an agenda. Success for this exercise is not measured by how fast you can adjourn the session and get back to your emails, your tweets or to check on your own functional team. Trust that you have done a good job at training the organization for which you are accountable and that you make the biggest contribution, on behalf of your reporting team by representing them in the creation of a new vision … a new road to success.

After everyone is settled and knows the housekeeping items, begin the introductions. Do not scrimp on this activity. A ten second “Hi I am Bob Jones from Sales” is not enough to provide the context. Do not assume that everyone around the table knows each other and more importantly what each person stands for or is accountable for. Formulate your introduction by answering the following questions:

  • Your name, title, organization … where you hang your hat?

  • What you are accountable to achieve?

  • Who you represent or are speaking on their behalf?

  • What outcomes do you want to see from this session?

It may take five to ten minutes for each person, which may seem like a lot in the context of a typical meeting. But recognize these are your team members to collectively attack a Brave New World. An hour or more to complete the introductions is a small investment with a big payback. These introductions should be documented, particularly the desired results / outcomes, as you will want to measure whether these have been achieved at the end of the session.

Once the introductions are complete, each person should take a marker and individually write on pad boards, a description of what you think the company should strive to achieve and stand for in the long term. It is not important to wordsmith at this stage and the vision should be no more than half of a typical 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper. Remember you don’t have to have evidence to support your Vision, because it is a declaration. Trust that knowledge and competency of the group doing the exercise will carry the organization through to a compelling vision … Just wail!

When everyone is complete (again forget about wordsmithing), each person should individually stand up and with courage and vigour, read their Vision to the others. Do this in a priority by volunteering or go around the table, but all must participate.

After the reading is complete, allow everyone while they are grabbing a coffee to walk around the room and read each others Visions. With a marker in hand, all should underline the key words they see in each of the Visions.

The consolidation of these Visions then begins by breaking off into three or four smaller groups (3 – 4 people) and re-crafting a consolidated Vision using just the previously underlined words. Then repeat the process of reading the new 2 – 4 re-crafted Visions to the group, by an elected representative from each group. Discuss these Visions as a a broader group to gain alignment.

Here is when the wordsmithing comes into play. After having spent the better part of a morning or afternoon on the above process, the group will have generated some trust across the members. Elect two people to take the 2 – 4 “un-wordsmithed” Visions away and consolidate and wordsmith with one week. Trust that they will do a great job!

Once completed, redistribute to the group for a last quick review and then trust it is ready for the organization.

Remember two things:

  • A Vision is not a tag phrase and should be suitably detailed to convey a rich picture of the desired future (typically no more than a half page).

  • And that “all things are permanent, until you decide to change them” … so take every opportunity to update the Vision, because it is the Organizational Compass.

Now a few more items to consider when creating an organizational Vision.

Perspective Is Paramount

I have facilitated a number of visioning and strategy creation sessions for a variety of companies, both big and small and with a wide range of business focus. Particularly for large organizations, it is important to note that what the CEO sees and does is very different from what the front line worker sees and does. But it is important to tie them together with the same Vision. FedEx used to have its tens of thousands of drivers (worldwide) able to recite the company vision and explain why the it was important.

In order to help people of different levels in an organization understand perspective, I once took a mixed group of senior executives and front line workers of a large Toronto based company on a tour of what was then known as the Sky Dome Arena (now Rogers Centre). We began the vision facilitation session in one of the arena conference rooms by watching the excellent video entitled Powers Of Ten made by Charles and Ray Eames in 1977. After the video, we went out to the floor level of the arena, where they were preparing for a World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) event and the ring was already set up. Up close it looked fairly large and colourful … suitable for the spectacle that would follow. We then climbed the various levels of the Rogers Centre by walking the stairs right up and onto the movable roof rafters, a full 310 feet above the floor level … that’s a 30 story building that can fit into the arena. Perched precariously in a “screened in” walkway with see through steel mesh bottoms, high above the arena floor, the wrestling ring looked like a postage stamp. I pointed out to the front-line workers with us that this was what the organization often looked like to the executives, while the floor view was what the workers were more familiar with, and somewhat alien to the executives. To this day, I still get comments from the attendees of that session that the exercise cemented the importance of appreciating the different perspectives of all in the organization.

The Invisible Vision

I would like you to consider one other exercise when thinking about vision. In a large organization, it is often difficult to engage a wide number of people with differing perspectives into the session to create the Vision. So, as a result the senior team will often craft the Vision and publish it in the form of a framed letter that each person in the organization can hang on the wall in their view.

I invite you to try the following exercise. In your home or office, hang a piece of art that you have created next to the purchased art that already hangs in your home. Over a period of several months, the purchased art will tend to blend into the background (unless it is a daVinci or Van Gogh original), but your creation will continue to hold your interest day after day. This is because it is your expression and will always be relevant to you.

Then, go into your office or workplace and hang the framed company vision on the wall. Guess what … over time it too will blend into the background if it does not have your contribution. To correct this, encourage all of the organization’s employees to understand the Vision crafted by the executives, and then to re-write in their own perspective and circumstances. They should then hang this personalized version next to the published organization Vision.

Every day before people start their workday, they should read these two visions to help frame and guide their actions and results for that day. The two Visions answer the question: Why are we here?

Think Big, Act Small

A successful Vision should be large and one that challenges the organization to encourage breakthroughs. It is quite another matter to actually act large, because it can easily burn up all your resources. So the trick is to think big, but act focused on specific target results with controlled and measured action. Think Big, Act Small.

The following illustration will help to relate the vision with the implementation.

Vision: A Declaration To Just Do It image Vision Action Results

In order to be successful, organizations need to have Vision, Defined Results and the Action necessary to produce those results. It is critical to have all three of the components. If you have Vision, but no Action or Results, you are “daydreaming”. If you have Action and Results, without Vision, you are “flayling”. Make sure your results are clearly articulated and communicated and are consistent with the organization Vision. Then closely meter out your resources to perform measurable actions that produce those desired results.

Finally …

Creating a Vision is a lot like donating blood; it’s critically important, relatively easy to do and it’s “… in all of us to give”.

Now, let’s get into action and create a big Vision with enough room for everyone to contribute! And don’t forget to regularly adjust the size of the organization’s Vision, as more and more breakthroughs occur.

I hope you enjoyed this blog and it has stimulated some questions and conversation, or maybe even caused some action!

Let me know what you think and please share your experiences.

Source: B2C_Business

Vision: A Declaration To Just Do It

What to Test – Part 4

What to Test – Part 4 image 1400793290459

Welcome to the latest edition of our new weekly blog series, What to Test. Each week, we will introduce a new test idea. We’ll explain why it’s important to test it, what you might learn, how to carry out the test, and what to measure in order to determine a winner. Last week we tested Email Design.

The Test = Button Text


It may sound silly, but the actual words on a button can affect whether or not someone clicks on it. And whether that button is at the bottom of a web form, in an email, part of an ad, or somewhere on your website, the purpose of that button is to get clicked. So we want to make sure the button says whatever it needs to say to get clicked more.

We will call the percentage of people who click the button the button’s conversion rate. And this test is meant to improve the button conversion rate.

Think about all the buttons you have on your website, and imagine how much of a difference you can make in your conversion rates if you are able to increase the amount of people who click on all of them.


Everyone is going to start this test in a different position. Because depending on where the button is and its purpose, it will say something different. Whatever it says now will act as our control version for the test. Now it’s up to you to come up with different words and phrases to test.

To help, consider this. The button should be the one final call to action for the person who is looking at it. It should be active and informing, telling the person where they will get to or what they will get when they click it. I recently did some testing with “submit” buttons on a web form. We tested the control (submit), against the following alternatives – go, next, I’m ready. I won’t tell you which won, but I’ll tell you that I was surprised.

This is a great test for a tool like Optimizely, which lets you test multiple versions of a page without any development work. Set up the test with a couple of different buttons, and sit back and watch the numbers come in.

Anything to add? As always, use the comments below or Twitter #whattotest to keep the conversation going!

Source: B2C_Business

What to Test – Part 4

Two Books with Perfect Phrases to Help You Get the Job Done

perfect phrases

Strap yourself in, this is going to be a super-two-fer book review!

How many times have you been stopped cold because you just didn’t have the right words to close the sale or to make an announcement of some sort. These are two times in the live of a small business that can really make a difference.

This week, I received two review copies of books that are in a series called Perfect Phrases. The one that caught my attention first was Perfect Phrases for Sales Presentations: Hundreds of Ready to Use Phrases for Delivering Powerful Presentations That Close Every Sale and it’s companion Perfect Phrases for Writing Company Announcements: Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Powerful Internal and External Communications.

Both books are written by Linda Eve Diamond and both have been a Godsend to me. You see, even though I’m a big time talker, when it comes to making announcements or starting a sales conversation – or even responding inside of a sales conversation – I’m often speechless. It’s like I can’t think fast enough on my feet.

Ta-Da! What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to receive these books as review copies. Because more often than not, what stops me is simply not knowing what to say. Both of these books solve that problem by giving you more than enough phrases that you can choose from and practice with to get you over that insecure hump and get you into the conversation that matters.

Inside the Sales Phrases Book

I’m going to start with Perfect Phrases for Sales Presentations because I suspect that this is the one you are really interested in.

First, let me tell you that this is a book you can carry in your briefcase, purse or computer case. It’s just under 180 pages and it’s going to be your go-to cheat sheet for the next time you do a sales presentation – no matter what your level of expertise.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section is a foundation builder; mindset, attitude and who you need to be to become successful. Part two contains the meat of the book – it’s the one that’s going to have all the dog-ears.

Part three is designed to get you into the habit of practicing, strengthening and implementing what you’ve learned here. Ideally, the intention is to wean yourself off the book. But if you’re like me, you’ll skip sections one and three and firmly use section two.

There are phrases for every sales circumstance; cold calls, warm calls, hot calls, when you’ve been referred. Here are just a few examples:

“I wonder if you could help me. I have a product/service that is designed to increase internet security, who would be the best person for me to speak with?”

“Thank you for calling XYZ company, I have a note here that you requested additional information and I had some questions. If you have a few minutes now, I can help you with that.”

This book is killer useful. But one thing that was missing for me was the social media aspect of prospecting. These days so many people make first connections online, it would have been nice to have these phrases customized for LinkedIn or Twitter. That’s not to say that you can’t do this with the phrases that are offered – it’s just that it would have made the book more current for today’s selling environment.

Perfect Phrases for Announcements Focuses on an Often Ignored Communication Opportunity

Let’s jump into the next book about phrases for company announcements. I say that this is an ignored area of company communication and one where people tend to get – how shall I say – LAZY. This is why it’s often the brunt of radio shows and jokes where people read silly emails and corporate announcements and focus on the poor phrases and flat out miscommunication.

I also call this a communications opportunity because internal announcements speak very loudly about the unstated culture of a company. For example, it’s not unusual for organizations to say that “people are their most important asset” and then to put out announcements that give the opposite impression. Internal announcements are a critical component to maintaining and building corporate culture and morale – and deserve more attention than they get.

Like Perfect Phrases for Sales, Perfect Phrases for Writing Company Announcements is divided into three parts and follows the same structure; introduction, phrases and an implementation section. Below are just a few phrases that I found really useful.

Here is one praising a team for winning an award:

“We didn’t win the state award for Best Restaurant because we have the best chefs, waitstaff, bus crew or bar tenders – we won because you are all the best at what you do and you work as a team to give our customers and outstanding dining experience, Congratulations everyone – and thank you!”

And here is one talking about restructuring, certainly a more difficult topic:

“We realize our new product line reflects a shift in the company’s overall philosophy. We appreciate your support over the years and hope you will continue to be as enthusiastic about our new direction as you have been along the way.”

About the Author

Linda Eve Diamond is the author of several books in the areas of education, self-help, motivation, teambuilding, business writing, and poetry. Listening is a critical skill is a central theme throughout her diverse work.

After writing and teaching indication skills in a corporate training setting for nearly 15 years, she decided to find to her focus on communication by exploring the importance of listening from the inner to the interpersonal.

She’s written more than seven books on these topics and has co-written Perfect Phrases for Writing Company Announcements with her mother, Harriet Diamond, who is also an accomplished author of several training books.

If you’ve been looking for some handbooks with ready-to-use phrases to get your conversations started and move them forward, these two are a great addition to your library.

The post Two Books with Perfect Phrases to Help You Get the Job Done appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Source: Small Business Trends

Two Books with Perfect Phrases to Help You Get the Job Done

Friday, May 30, 2014

Jumping Into the Deep End: Why Negative User Reviews Are a Good Thing

Jumping Into the Deep End: Why Negative User Reviews Are a Good Thing image respond to negative review

Fact: People are five times more likely to post a user review when they are upset. This means that the Internet is full of negative reviews, and some of your most important traffic and shares often go towards those Debbie Downers. And it’s not just on Yelp! or TripAdvisor anymore. Your small graphic design or mechanics’ shop is up for scrutiny too. So why should you put yourself out there? And how do you respond? Have no fear, we’re here to offer you a guide on how to respond to negative reviews.

Should I just skip having user reviews altogether?

Well, you do have a point there. If you don’t participate, they can’t hate. But there are always going to be independent user review sites (like us) that you cannot control. And simply choosing not to participate in a volatile online world — from social media to opinion and review pages — leaves a suspicious hole in your messaging. Plus because just because you want to ignore it (la la la, I’m not listening…) doesn’t mean it’s going to go away.

Plus, if you don’t have a negative review once in awhile, folks will start to think your business or your reviews aren’t legit.

We say put your neck out there and you might be surprised how you can avoid digital execution.

7 Reasons to Respond to a Negative User Review

  1. Fixes the problem

  2. Makes the customer happy

  3. Maybe so happy they turn into brand ambassadors

  4. Publicly shows you have conscientious customer support

  5. Gains leads by showing how great that customer support is

  6. Nips things in the bud before they get out of control

And don’t just go and put your neck out there is not only participating in potentially nasty forums, but it’s also about having a social media presence. No matter what your biz is, your customers are on social media. In fact, like good little lemmings, 55 percent of all clients are scoping you out of social media before pulling out that credit card.

And don’t just sniff at socials because of their potentially negative repercussions or because you so you don’t have time. Companies that actively use Twitter double their leads, plus each Tweet counts as a sort of backlink. Just like in independent user reviews, you should respond to both the positive and negative. And (unless you’ve a pottymouth on your hands) don’t delete negative reviews! It’ll make you look like your company is trying to hide something. Plus, you’ll just tick them off into posting even more negative comments on even more sources.

Instead schedule a response with a social media marketing app. Here at GetApp, we use a combination of Oktopost and Hootsuite to keep up to date on what folks are saying about us and to well-time our responses, cross-platform shares and the like. And while I’m all for staying disconnected on the weekend, I love the Hootsuite mobile app because I can give mentions a quick look-through a couple times a day just so I can make sure there are no fires to put out publicly.

10 Golden Tricks for Responding to a Negative Review

“Great customer service comes down to responsiveness, which manifests itself in many different ways. Responsiveness not only means responding to a customer’s question or need quickly, but also solving it completely and anticipating follow-up questions or needs. The customer should know they can rely on you to value their time and, even if you can’t answer their issue in one conversation, they know you’ll get back to them with a resolution.” It seemed like a great idea to kick off this list with these insightful words from Kelly Lorenz, director of marketing programs at the ITSM tool Samanage, which focuses on IT Service Desk and Asset Management.

And here are those ten tricks to help you being awesome and responsive:

  1. Take a deep breathe.

  2. Remember it’s not just the angry client who is reading it.

  3. Create an account to respond to wherever it is as human from the company.

  4. Admit “It was our bad.” (Just don’t get defensive!)

  5. Offer a fix.

  6. Publicly post the fix because:

    A. It’ll prevent in the future

    B. Will respond to other clients who haven’t asked the question yet.

  7. Reply as quickly as possible.

  8. And then try to move the conversation offline.

  9. Mind your manners and say thank you!

  10. Again, don’t delete it!

Our low, mobile-induced attention span has humankind becoming more and more impatient, but it’s assumed across the board that you will be quicker to respond and to respond accurately. You really need to respond to each and every negative review. And fast.

**Don’t focus on apologizing so much as focus on finding and explaining a solution.**

Whenever possible, in the public forum show that you are addressing the problem and maybe even share the solution with the world, but then go ahead and try to steer the conversation offline. You want to look responsive, but you don’t want to go airing your dirty laundry.

75% of Negativity: Customer Support

On, we have nearly 4,000 independent user reviews. About eight percent of those are negative — considering that statistic of how much more motivated dissatisfied customers are, we’re quite happy with that. But alas, we do have a sad statistic: we find that a whopping 75 percent of all the negative user reviews are regarding customer support. This is a twinge ironic since a huge number of cloud-based business apps are customer service and help desk apps.

Of course, while only eight percent of our reviews are negative, that doesn’t mean our clients don’t have high churn. According to our friends at HappyFox Help Desk, “96 percent of unhappy customers don’t complain, however 91 percent of those will simply leave and never come back.” Then how do you know if your clients are unhappy? Through tracking and constantly evaluating your customer success reps.

And what do you look for? We asked Eric Harrington, co-founder of TeamSupport Help Desk Software What is the key to great customer service? It’s simple: “Knowing your customer and their needs, excellent team communication.” So where are you and your team getting stuck behind the eight ball in bad customer support.

Don’t have a whole ecosystem where you need a full-on customer support software to respond to customer requests? Maybe you should try a simpler app that just gets you barebones responses from your clients like Engagor Customer Engagement and Insights Software which can be as simple as asking McDonald’s customers to rate their experience with a Happy, a Mediocre or Sad Face. You can monitor overall feeling for any given day, week or month, and then give something away to boost their moods or ask them to share with their friends when there’s a trend of satisfaction.

Jumping Into the Deep End: Why Negative User Reviews Are a Good Thing image engagor satisfaction survey

Satisfied Customer? Ask ‘em for a response

Yes, we cannot suggest enough, you should never delete a bad review. But if you feel you have full satisfied your client, by asking: “Are you fully satisfied? Do you have anything else I can help you with?” then you can ask them: “Would you mind terribly either removing your comment, or, even better, add to it and talk about your experience?” Sometimes, you’re going to have issues. Even better than getting them to delete, is taking the opportunity for them to retract their comments and showing that you are a company dedicated to customer service and working through problems together with your clients.

Don’t let customer support be the ball that drops

Just remember, an occasional negative review is normal — just as long as it’s surrounded by positive ones. Just take note of how they are adding up. If you notice a trend in poor customer service, that must become your number one priority, plain and simple.

And it might be time to consider tracking, automating and filtering some of your customer service with a help desk and customer support app. We know you’re busy but the one thing you don’t want to fall through the cracks is your client base.

How do YOU respond to negativity?

This is always an awkward but pretty much mandatory moment in your business. Can YOU tell us a time when you received a negative review and when you worked through it? Or maybe you failed to but learned a big lesson? Please share it with us in the comments below!

Source: B2C_Business

Jumping Into the Deep End: Why Negative User Reviews Are a Good Thing

Dear Marketers, Enough with the Fluff

As a marketer, it’s no surprise that I’m inundated with content on a daily basis. I check through at least a dozen Google Alerts every morning, browse through SocialMediaToday and MarketingProfs, and receive tons of e-mails about articles I should be reading.

Recently, I’ve also had the chance to attend a few industry conferences and hear from marketing professionals, SEO experts, and branding thought-leaders. Basically, I’m inundated with content from every possible direction, both on and offline. The problem is, much of this content, as well as the guest lectures, share one common theme: they don’t actually teach you anything. I often read an article or listen to a lecture with this feeling of anticipation for the “valuable takeaway” – the part where I learn something that can actually impact my work. More often than not, I end up being disappointed and walk away with little insight or actionable suggestions that I can use to improve my approach.

The truth is, I’m tired of reading blog posts with vague advice on how to engage with audiences, write incredible content, and generate leads. There are so many of them that offer little more than sweeping generalizations about the need to connect with buyers and post daily on social media, or worse, the ones that just outline current marketing trends. Point being, I should be able to read a blog post or listen to a lecture and leave with at least one actionable tip I can implement. I’m not saying there’s no room for descriptive content or opinions, just that you want the people listening to you or reading your articles to remember you as offering something valuable and practical – and not just another fluff piece which just ends up being a waste of time.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few exceptions, websites such as Social Media Examiner and KISSMetrics often post articles with detailed advice, step-by-step action plans and tested strategies. Unfortunately, this kind of content is hard to come by. I’d prefer not to read another piece about the importance of originality in marketing, or what questions I need to be asking myself before writing. Even worse, I definitely don’t need content that’s chock full of gobbledygook which glosses over any actual solution to a problem. What I need is actual advice that I can put into action – whether it’s for e-mail campaigns, social media marketing, website content, lead generation, or blog posts.

It’s hard to continually come up with actionable tips, but your audience will appreciate you so much more for it. These types of articles usually entail a list of recommendations, with either text or visual examples under each one, to really drive the point home. Here are a few examples from my own writing that show how you can take a generic topic and turn it into something useful for your readers:

Preparing for a Marketing Conference

Gobbledygook: Implement unique and creative branding to stand out at your next event.
Actual Advice: Print customized t-shirts for team members who attend, order branded lanyards with your company’s logo, come prepared with brochures and spare business cards.

E-mail Marketing Strategies

Gobbledygook: Nurture leads with engaging e-mail campaigns that capture their attention.
Actual Advice: Use 2 or more designed call-to-action buttons instead of plain-text hyperlinks, avoid using the word “submit,” go with: register here, try us, sign up here, keep subject lines less than 50 characters, send e-mails from a personal instead of a generic company e-mail.

Targeting Prospective Clients

Gobbledygook: Connect with industry thought-leaders and prospects in online communities.
Actual Advice: Set up Google Alerts to track keywords and contact relevant authors by finding their e-mail using Rapportive, join LinkedIn Groups and post questions that people care about and follow up with replies, search for targeted conversations in Quora and recommend your product or service in the answers where relevant.

That wasn’t so hard, right? Doesn’t it feel much better to read a tip you can actually do something with rather than waste time on another pointless article? There probably isn’t a marketer out there – including myself of course, who hasn’t committed the fluff offense. There’s so much pressure to generate a constant stream of content that, sometimes, it’s difficult to offer real tips and just easier to fall back on a generalized description of a recent trend. Despite this, remember that you audience isn’t looking for just another post, and it’s much more likely they’ll remember you and share your content if you provide advice they can actually test out and put to good use.

Source: B2C_Business

Dear Marketers, Enough with the Fluff