Posts Tagged ‘branding’
Having good customer service is absolutely critical for the success of your online business. You may have a great product and a strong customer base, but being able to solve customers’ problems as they come up can be the key to your success. Many businesses rely on computerized systems to deal with inquiries and the like, but this can actually prevent you from providing effective customer service.
It is preached to the point of overkill, but customer service is really just a waste of time if you aren’t personally dealing with the customer. Developing a personal relationship with customers is important because of the amount of purchase hesitancy that is involved with online businesses.
If a customer ever has an issue, and inquiry, or a complaint, you as the business owner should invest some time into solving their problem. When people see individuals higher up on the ladder investing time in their consumer base, it sends a really strong message – that of a company that actually cares about the product they’re providing people.
Many consumers distrust online businesses because of the amount of scams out there. It’s easy for a business to set up shop online, make a transaction, and virtually disappear if that buying customer ever has any issues with the product.
Make Customer Service Unnecessary
While developing relationships out of your customer inquiries may sound like a lot of work, there are ways you can minimize the amount of customer coddling you’ll actually need to do. If your website is functional, simple, and informative, customers will be able to answer their questions themselves.
Your website should be well designed with easy-to-understand descriptions of the product, price, size, shopping carts, and anything else a customer might need to know during a purchase, like return policy or warranty information.
Your reputation is at stake when it comes to customer service. Consumers are quick to judge and often judge harshly. By demonstrating the willingness and ability to provide customers the answer they need, your brand reputation will be enhanced and consumers will affectionately recommend your brand to their peers.
If you are starting a business online, you should be using as many resources as possible. Entrepreneur.com is a great resource for aspiring small business owners and new entrepreneurs. Allen Moon, the founder of On Deck Marketing (an internet marketing agency that specializes in product marketing strategies, e-commerce and online marketing), wrote a great post specifying each step you can take to set up and run a business online.
I decided to use a few of the steps to help you prepare before you set up your online business. These three steps from Moon’s original post are the most fundamental things you can do before you’re ready to set up your online business.
Step 1: Find a need and fill it
Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second. To boost your chances of success, start with a market. The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results.
Step 2: Write copy that sells
There’s a proven sales copy formula that takes visitors through the selling process from the moment they arrive to the moment they make a purchase:
- Arouse interest with a compelling headline.
- Describe the problem your product solves.
- Establish your credibility as a solver of this problem.
- Add testimonials from people who have used your product.
- Talk about the product and how it benefits the user.
- Make an offer.
- Make a strong guarantee.
- Create urgency.
- Ask for the sale.
Step 3: Design and build your website
Once you’ve got your market and product, and you’ve nailed down your selling process, now you’re ready for your small-business web design. Remember to keep it simple. You have fewer than five seconds to grab someone’s attention–otherwise they’re gone, never to be seen again. Some important tips to keep in mind:
- Choose one or two plain fonts on a white background.
- Make your navigation clear and simple, and the same on every page.
- Only use graphics, audio or video if they enhance your message.
- Include an opt-in offer so you can collect e-mail addresses.
- Make it easy to buy–no more than two clicks between potential customer and checkout.
- Your website is your online storefront, so make it customer-friendly.
Do you want people to bookmark your website? By that I mean do you want your website to be a site your customers visit everyday, just to see if anything new has been added? Read on if you are interested in improving your business’s website to have more loyal customers and gain new ones.
Entrepreneur.com agrees with me in that blogging everyday should be a no-brainer. If you feel that your homepage should stay the way it is for a while and you have nothing additional you need to add, you absolutely should be blogging everyday. Posting something new and fresh each day will give people incentive to visit your website at frequent intervals. However, you won’t get returning browsers unless you offer something new and exciting with each post. The content you create with blogging and updates should be dynamic, unique, entertaining, valuable, and easy to understand.
Try highlighting a customer every week. Interview them, get some feedback, and then write a post on how your product is continuing to help them. Or talk about how your product got started, what mistakes you’ve made and how you’ve fixed them. There are so many different angles you can take to keep driving customers to your website.
Create a community
If you have dabbled in social media marketing, you understand how important it is to the success of any online location to build a community. Communities have a certain language, people within a community provide information to each other and engage in conversations about certain products and brands. If you encourage a sense of community around your website, you will increase your customer loyalty and provide a sense of belonging to new customers who are considering your product.
Encourage discussion and devote time to ask for feedback and provide answers to those who ask questions. Source people who give you feedback as often as possible. You can even provide an opportunity for customers to submit ideas or designs for your next event or campaign. If you make your customers feel like they are a part of your brand, your customer base will stay strong and continue to grow.
It’s the start of a new year and maybe you have decided to start your own business. Or perhaps you’re already through the start-up phase and you’d like to see your business grow. New business owners often make the same mistakes, you should know which ones to avoid and which ones you might already be making.
Don’t set your prices too low
When you first get started it can be difficult to set a price for your product. You might not be one hundred percent confident in your price range and it’s important to be very careful in price territory especially if you are in services. If you are just beginning, setting your prices too low can be disastrous because you might not know exactly how long projects can take or what kind of unexpected expenses might come up. So learn to be proactive and think of all contingencies before setting your price.
Be careful with details
You have to be meticulous about your records. Organization can be the key to the success of your business. If you are a service-based business, jumping right into the project without a signed contract or at least an outline agreed by both parties can be detrimental to the end result. Be aware that you can get burned and you need to cover all of your bases before offering your services to anyone.
Update your business model
Your business model should be an ever-evolving idea. Every day you should experience things that give you an idea of how to better your business model. Customers like proactive companies that are continuing to try and get better. It will increase your brand equity and consumer opinion if you ask for feedback and update your business model. If you are too stubborn to quickly abandon something that clearly isn’t working, you’re setting yourself up for business failure.
If you ever get discourage because you knew you made a big mistake and it set your business back significantly, remember this: “failure is compost,” there’s no better way to grow your business than on the foundation of mistakes you learned from and improved upon.
Owning your own small business entails a lot of responsibility. Truthfully it can be a very lonely path. You have to have all the right things going for you, the right personality, the right skill set, the right exposure to the right industries. It’s all very complicated.
But! It can be simple. You just have to understand that your role as a business owner is completely different from that of an employee. You have to think bigger than just deadlines or driving traffic to your business website.
How to think big
Before you choose to start your small business, you have to use the kinds of skills and habits in your every day life, even if you’re still working under someone else. Chris Brogan puts it in better words than I can:
“I took on challenges that other project managers didn’t find interesting. I took on messy projects that had a high possibility of failure. And sometimes I failed. But because I stepped up, I was noticed, and I got more and more power.”
That’s just it, stepping up. Having been a competitive athlete my whole life, I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard just about every motivational quote out there. The one that sticks with me most because I can apply to my daily routine is:
“Success comes from taking on tasks no one else wants, and completing them well.”
How to seek opportunity
In order to be successful in your business venture, you have to see the opportunities when others don’t. You find dollar signs hidden within your customer’s complaints. Your main priority should be solving your customer’s problems, or making yourself more accessible to customers and their needs.
Your business should represent who you are as a person. If you decide to own your own business, you need to market yourself and your brand as a resource to customers with specific problems. If you find a way to better the quality of life for you customers, you have found the perfect opportunity.
Customer referrals can be one of the most powerful ways to build your company’s reputation. We all know how quickly one dissatisfied customer can contribute to a damaged reputation.
It is crucial to remember how much your brand name and credibility directly relates to your revenue flow. Companies who don’t have returning satisfied customers will suffer in comparison to companies who have a loyal customer base.
Here are a few ways to build and maintain your reputation in order to build a loyal customer base.
Never bad-mouth your competition
Of course it is beneficial to talk about your strong points with your clients, in your advertisements, or on your website, but always avoid degrading your competition. It can even be beneficial to you to compliment your competition. Say things like “they’re great companies, and I’m sure you will be happy with any of us, but I think you will be happiest with my company.”
If a client mentions a company you don’t necessarily respect, you can back out of bad-mouthing that company by saying something like “that company isn’t really a competitor of ours, but the others are pretty good competitors. I just think you would be happiest with our services.”
Be positive at all times
Even if you do lose a sale to a competitor, be able to own up to it and move on. It is understandable if losing a client to a different company angers you – but you need to be able to get over it and look towards the future. One poor reaction to the loss of a client can go a very long way. You should never take short cuts if you feel like you’re going to lose a client. It is very important to always be accommodating for difficult clients, regardless or not if you make the sale.