7 Fab Engagement Ideas That Work!

7 Fab Engagement Ideas That Work!

Facebook can be a brilliant business tool when it comes to marketing your business. The trouble is, it only works if you get people engaging with your page. A page with unengaged fans is as bad as no page at all because it simply doesn’t get seen, so what can you do to get people talking, commenting, liking, reacting, sharing, viewing and clicking on your Facebook page and why bother? Well, engagement is a funny thing – you have to have it to get more of it. When someone engages with your post in Facebook – in other words, interacts with it in some way such as liking or using a reaction on a post, sharing it, tagging someone, commenting on it, voting on a poll, responding to an offer or event or watching a video or story – Facebook does several things.

1 – First, it shows MORE of your page content to the person who interacted with that post – they will start to see many more of your posts for a couple of days, then the effect will wear off until next time they engage with one of your posts.

2 – Second, because someone engaged with your post, it will show that post to more of your other page fans – the more engagement you get on a post, the more other people Facebook will show it to.

3 – And third, whenever someone engages with your post, their friends will see that they did so and some of them will check out that post, too. They might even get tagged in it by their friends, which means it shows up on their friend’s timeline too.

Do you see what I mean? Once you start getting engagement, it then carries on building without your help, at least for a day or two – which makes it even more important to get regular engagement so the effect doesn’t get a chance to wear off.

So how on earth do you get it in the first place?

The first thing you have to remember is that every page fan is a real person and this is SOCIAL media. When you’re struggling to get seen, it’s easy to forget you’re dealing with people.

I can spot this a mile off on those Facebook pages that just have random post after random post, as though they are trying everything and nothing is working. Their page is full of shares from other pages with no explanation as to why the posts were shared. They paste random ‘inspirational’ images  with no branding. They post sales message after sales message. You can’t even see what the business does or who owns it – there is nothing on the page to tell me there is a real person behind it with a business they, and other people love. Then they wonder why their page isn’t working for them.

If you remember you’re dealing with real people and potential buyers, things look a little different. Business owners who do this well have engaging pages full of news, ideas, inspirational posts that mean something, questions and polls, works in progress, stories and feedback from customers. At a glance you can see there is a lovely, real person working hard on their business, someone who wants other people to be as excited about their business as they themselves are. Someone who cares what their customers and page fans think, who uses their page as a relationship builder and shop window and who is proud to share their products and services because they know their fans will love them.

Where does your page stand compared to the two descriptions above? If you’re secretly thinking you’re more like the first, don’t worry! I have some tips and ideas for you that will definitely help.

1. Understand The Potential Of Your Facebook Page.

Instead of treating it like an annoying thing you have to update when you remember, think of it as an amazing free tool to help you share your gorgeous business.
You could be using it to build relationships, turn strangers into fans, showcase your amazing products and services, build groups and communities, attract new email subscribers, build credibility and get sales.

All it takes is focus and a little bit of time – I always say ‘where you put your attention is where the magic happens’ and this is definitely true when it comes to marketing, including Facebook. Once you get the hang of what works on your page, you can use Facebook Creator Studio or another scheduler to quickly create engaging posts for the following week or beyond and pop in regularly to answer questions or respond to comments. It works!

2. Have Daily or Weekly Themes

(download my free DAILY SOCIAL MEDIA THEME PLANNER here)

pinterest-the-girls-mean-business-daily social media theme plannerHaving a daily theme really takes the guesswork (and headaches) out of posting on social media.

I know one of the reasons many people struggle to post regular, engaging content is because they just can’t think of what to post, especially when they are busy with so much else.

Having a daily topic or theme makes it much easier to come up with ideas and means your content will be relevant, varied and interesting.

You don’t need to announce you have a daily theme (as in ‘it’s Top Tip Tuesday’) but you can if you want – or you can take a few ideas for each day and rotate them.

There are loads of ways you can use this idea and all of them will help your page become more engaging for your lovely fans.

3. Sign off your posts.

Hardly anyone does this and when you don’t, you are creating a block on your page. Why? Because people buy people, especially when it comes to small businesses and relationships matter. Many people buy from small businesses because they want to deal with a real person rather than a faceless corporate business. You and a few friends might know that you are the person behind your page but nobody else does. How can page visitors build a relationship with you and your business if they don’t know who you are? How can they turn from strangers to customers if they don’t know who they are dealing with?

You will see on almost all my posts I sign off with ‘Love, Claire xx’. That way, anyone reading that post knows who wrote it and can reply to ME (because it’s much nicer and easier to reply to a real person rather than an anonymous post from a business page, isn’t it?) I am always sad when I see a great post on someone’s page and they don’t sign off and say who has written it because I often don’t feel I can reply as I don’t know who I’m talking to. Remember what I said at the start of this article – every page visitor and fan is a real person. Oh, and don’t think you have to copy my very informal sign off – just your name would be great!

4. If you’re a local business, say where you are!

Again I can’t count how many times I’ve seen amazing posts and things I’d love to buy on a business Facebook page I follow, just to see a note saying ‘collection only’. But it doesn’t say where they are and I follow a LOT of pages for lots of reasons, so I can’t remember where they are unless their business name makes it really obvious. They might be 10 minutes or 100 miles away from me and I don’t have time to dig around and find out.

Don’t assume everyone who follows your page is local, even if you are a local business (and also don’t assume non-locals won’t travel, because they might but only if it’s really obvious for them where you are so they can make a judgement call). Don’t assume everyone who follows your page knows where you are, even if they ARE local. If you put ‘collection from Grafton Street only’ that doesn’t help me if I don’t know whether it’s Grafton Street in Darlington or Grafton Street in Luton.

There will be people who follow your page who will sit up and take notice if they see the name of their town or city mentioned in a post – it’s human nature so USE THIS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. Make it really obvious how people can buy from you and where exactly you are (collection from our shop at 56 Grafton Street, Darlington – we’re open Mon to Sat from 8.30 till 6). Do you see what I mean? That’s really clear. Every time they have to stop reading to Google or dig around your website to try and find an address or contact details or opening hours, there is a big chance you will lose them because they are busy. Take away all the barriers to buying and you will sell more.

5. Tag other businesses

If you’re friends with other business owners or you’ve had great service from another business, tag them in a post. Give them a shout out and tell your page fans why you’re doing it. It’s a brilliant way to celebrate fellow small business owners, who are probably also struggling to get seen and when you tag them, they will see and usually respond – which starts engagement going on your page.

You could even make this one of your daily themes we talked about in point 2 (make sure you download that DAILY THEME PLANNER HERE). Also there is a good chance they will mention you or tag you back on their page, which is another way to boost your engagement and get you in front of new eyes.

6. Use Video – and NO it doesn’t need to be you on camera!

I know you might hate being ON video but there are loads of ways to use video without your face being on it. The thing about video is, it’s a really easy way to get engagement on your page. Why? Because every video view more of more than a view seconds counts as someone engaging with your page even if they only stopped scrolling for a little while, which then leads to Facebook showing that video and your page to more page fans, who are more likely to watch and interact with your video and your page and share it with their friends as we discussed earlier. Bingo!

Some videos are definitely better than others and surprisingly, it doesn’t depend on whether your face is in them. The things that make a big difference to how engaging and effective a video is are whether it has a great title (that ideally appears in the opening frames as well as on the post), whether it has subtitles and whether it’s easy to watch. If it’s really dark and it’s not obvious what you’re doing, do you think people will persevere and watch it? Probably not, why would they? If it’s your face talking but it’s not obvious when the video appears in your Facebook feed what you’re talking about, why would anyone bother watching? Having subtitles or captions makes is immediately obvious what you are talking about AND makes it accessible to those who are hard of hearing or people who are watching with the sound off. Think about the videos you watch when you’re scrolling through Facebook. Funny animal videos win every time (how can you use THAT in your marketing?!) but then it’s a title that sounds interesting and a video that’s easy to watch. You can do that.

7. Ask questions that resonate with your audience

Here’s the thing: people love to help and people love talking about themselves. How can you use that in your marketing? Well, you can build a great relationship with your fans and followers by asking for their help. I use this often with my audience and they love getting involved. Sometimes I get page messages from people asking for my help but often I’m not the best person to help them, so instead I check it’s ok if I share it with my page audience and if so, whether they want their name included or to remain anonymous, then I post it as a ‘Reader Question’ – people always help them.

Sometimes I’ll create a poll on my Facebook page asking people to choose between topics the want to learn about, or cover designs for my planner. Sometimes I’ll ask them what they are struggling with, or what they would change if I had a magic wand for their business, or what they don’t understand about marketing. Sometimes I just need a good cold remedy and I always get loads of suggestions.

Also, twice a week I run introduction threads on my Facebook page – every Monday I do a ‘Tag an Awesome Business Owner’ thread and every Friday I do a business showcase. Both are always very popular. I’ve also seen people asking their page fans how many pets they have and to share a photo, or what order their children arrived in (using emojis). It doesn’t matter what you ask as long as it captures the imagination of YOUR page fans. 

Engagement isn’t difficult – you just need to think about what you’re doing and create engaging posts – those above should help!

If you want even MORE help, then you will love my Social Media Sensation package that has a 12 month calendar with daily social media prompts AND over 400 ready-made images you can use, you just need to add your branding.

Have you tried any of these ideas before? How did they work for you? What else works for you? I’d love to know so leave a note in the comments!

 

What my lovely customers are saying about Social Media Sensation

“My post reach is up by 73%” ~ Julie Edwards, of Julie Edwards Fitness

“I never thought it could happen, but I have got all my social media for the year planned out, and half of this month already designed and scheduled to go. All this in less than 12 hours. If you haven’t bought the Social Media Sensation pack yet, I’d highly recommend you get it now! It’s worth every penny for motivational purposes alone.” ~Kat Wills, Serenity in Saltburn

One Nasty Comment Ruined Her Day

One Nasty Comment Ruined Her Day

I was chatting with some of the ladies in my This Girl Means Business® Facebook Group recently and one lady said she had been totally thrown off track because someone had left a horrible comment on her Facebook page about her business (the silly thing is the commenter isn’t even a customer).

This comment had been left the previous day so our lady had not slept at all, had agonised over what to do, had taken it to heart and was really, really upset.

All this, despite the fact that she had over a hundred lovely comments saying how fantastic her products and services are.

Isn’t it amazing how one nasty comment can ruin your day? Or your month? Or take over your life, paralyse you indefinitely and give your mental health a severe bashing?

It’s always that one, nasty, insidious, evil little comment that consumes your brain and makes everything else pale into insignificance. It is always there, at the front of your mind, stealing your joy and your energy and stopping you seeing all the good things.

One messed-up person leaving a comment designed to hurt and inflame you, that takes over your life and your brain and makes you forget all the GOOD people out there.

PLEASE don’t let that one small-minded, nasty little comment, just a few evil little words have the power to affect your life so severely.

Don’t hand over the keys to your happiness to one negative person.

Remember how many people love you and your business.

Remember the good you do in this world.

Remember the happiness you bring to others.

Remember the difference you make, to so many people.

Remember you’re an amazing person running a business when others wouldn’t dare

You are brave and tough. You are amazing and clever. You are resilient and adaptable. You are reading this for a reason – it’s meant for YOU.

I am so proud of you – running a business is HARD and you’re a living, breathing example of everything that’s good about it.

Keep going. Ignore the trolls.

Delete the negative stuff – you don’t need it in your life.

You’re not alone (come join my group if you need moral support from people who get it This Girl Means Business®) and remember why you are doing this.

Big hugs. Love, Claire xx

School Holiday Marketing Plan For Busy Business Mums

School Holiday Marketing Plan For Busy Business Mums

How to keep your business going (and growing) during the school holidays

I’m guessing you’re here because you have school holidays coming up and the thought of them is making your brain pop?

It’s hard enough running your business when your little (and not so little) ones are at school all day, but come the school holidays, it reaches a new level of tricky.

Your ‘normal’ routine goes out of the window. Your quiet house turns into a playground. Mess appears from nowhere. The fridge empties within hours of being filled. You seem to spend your life shouting, picking up plates and shopping for snacks. That’s before you factor in the days out or weeks away.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Children aren’t children very long and the holidays are your chance to spend precious time with them (even if they spend most of it on the X-Box) so you probably don’t want or need your ‘normal’ routine. You want to get out and about with them. Also, YOU need a rest.

So this blog isn’t about you pretending the holidays aren’t happening and finding ways to magic the kids away.

Nope, this is about finding a new normal for the holidays. One that lets you spend time with your children and have a rest, while doing bits and pieces here and there that will keep your marketing in front of customers and your business ticking over (and even growing).

 

‘HOLIDAY NORMAL’

The further ahead you can plan and prepare, the easier your school holiday business situation will be. Even a few hours spent getting things set up will free up your time and make you feel like a business superstar as you head off on your days out with the kids.
Even if you’re not a natural ‘planner’ there are some quick and easy things you can do to ensure your marketing keeps the business in front of potential customers the whole holiday.

But before we get into that, I have something to tell you.

Your customers are probably in the same boat as you. If they are parents, then they will also have the kids around for a few weeks. If they work, they will be struggling for childcare. Grandparents will become holiday sitters. They’ll be scouring the internet for kids’ clubs and activities. They’ll be spending a lot of money to keep the kids entertained. They’ll probably be feeling guilty they can’t spend as much time as they would like with their little ones. They will also be facing the perpetually empty fridge challenge. They will probably be going away as a family for a week or two. They might also need to find a new normal for the holidays.

So, your first challenge is to figure out what your CUSTOMERS’ holiday normal is and more importantly, how you can help them?

  • Think about what their life looks like during the holidays
  • Think about the challenges they face
  • How will their priorities change?
  • What will they be spending money on that they don’t usually?
  • What will grab their attention at this time of year?
  • What’s different for them?
  • Where do you fit and how can you help them?

HINT: This might mean that you create special products and services JUST for this market. Things you only promote or roll out during long school holidays. Things like workshops, kits or ‘experiences’ (just to get your brain whirring).

 

*      ACTION: Grab a notebook and scribble some ideas down

We’re not trying to do this for every single customer, we’re trying to see if our ‘typical’ best- fit customer (our Super Customer) needs different things during the holidays.

It’s important you do this because there is no point trying to sell the same old things to people whose needs have temporarily changed. You don’t have the time or energy, particularly during school holidays, to do marketing that’s doomed to fail. You want to make sure that any marketing you can do during this time has the best chance of turning into sales.

Now, when you think about your customers it might be that they are completely unaffected by school holidays, in which case great, but YOU still need to keep your business going even if nothing changes for them.

 

PLANNING AHEAD IN THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

Planning ahead can really make your life easier during school holidays. From planning and scheduling your marketing, to managing customer expectations and coming up with marketing activities you can build into your ‘holiday normal’ routine, a little bit of planning can save you hours of stress and hassle later AND mean you get a steady stream of enquiries or orders to tackle when you’re back at work.
Try to start preparing and planning for the school holidays a couple of weeks in advance if you can. If you can’t because you only found time to read this during the holidays, that’s fine too.

There are still loads of things you can do to make your life easier and keep your business going and growing and one of the biggies is social media. Even if your customers are in ‘holiday normal’ mode, off work with the kids or away on trips they will likely still be on social media, in fact they might be on there more.They could be looking for things to entertain the kids, or planning days out, or just browsing for fun while the kids are off playing. They could be planning ahead, thinking about ‘back to school’ or doing that ‘holiday dreaming thing’ where they decide they are going to make much-needed changes in their life, so it’s really important that you’re there on social media where they are looking.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR BIG MARKETING JOBS?

One thing you can do well in advance is work out what your BIG jobs are and plan them in. That might be writing newsletters, building up stock, finding holiday help, pre-empting client needs so you can get THEIR work done in advance – what are the big jobs in YOUR business that really need to keep happening while you’re in school holiday ‘normal’ mode?

For me, it’s about blogs, newsletters, podcasts and social media – the marketing. I don’t need to create any classes or programmes over the school holidays: they can wait until I have peace and quiet and thinking time. What does need to happen though, is brand visibility. I can’t disappear from social media for 6-8 weeks because I’d then have to go from a standing start after the holidays and try to build up momentum and engagement after weeks of being invisible.

That’s going to take ages.

Social media likes regular engagement – whether it’s FB, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter, they are all basically the same. Regular, engaging posts mean the social media algorithms see your business as an ‘engaging’ one, so they will continue to show more of your posts to more of your followers. As soon as you stop posting, you’ll drop down the list and other businesses will take your place. I don’t want that to happen, so I make sure I have good quality, engaging posts scheduled at regular intervals on my main social media accounts.

All I need to do is find a few minutes each day to go on there and react to or reply to comments, so my followers can see I’m there engaging with them.

So, my big jobs are all about marketing. What are yours?

And how can you plan, schedule, automate or outsource as many of them as possible so your business runs as smoothly as it can with the minimum of stress, hassle and involvement from you while you’re in ‘holiday normal’ mode?

 

*      ACTION: Grab a notebook and work out what you can do in advance to give yourself a break over the holidays?

 

There is a lovely additional benefit to this. You see, if you can do this during the holidays – set up systems, automate your marketing, bring in help – you can do it any time.

What you’re doing is making your business more efficient and making you more productive and those are two elements of a successful business, so the work you do now will build brilliant foundations going forwards.

 

 

WHAT CAN YOU MANAGE TO DO DURING THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS?

Next, I want you to work out what you can easily manage to do during the holidays. Assuming you’re not away for the whole time, do you have any time free during the day or at certain points in the week to do a little bit of the ‘day-to-day’ work? And what would that look like for you?

  • You might not be able to make much stock but you might be ok packaging and sending it out…
  • You might not be able to do many treatments but you can sell vouchers and take bookings…
  • You might not be able to do much client work but you might be able to schedule it in for a few weeks’ time…
  • You might not be able to do much marketing but you might be able to create bits of marketing material to use later (I have some ideas for you)…
  • What could you realistically manage, especially if your BIG jobs were already taken care of?

There are loads of little jobs you can do while you’re out and about that will help keep your business going during the holidays, AND will also make your life easier going forwards.

The great thing about this is that you get a new job title. For the duration of the holidays you can become Work From Anywhere Girl.

You can even treat yourself to a cape if you like because you’re going to take on some Super Powers. You’re going to learn how to use slivers of time while you’re out and about and turn them into amazing business building tools and assets.

 

 

10-MINUTE MARKETING JOBS

10 minute jobs aren’t just for the school holidays. I’m a big believer that 80% of marketing (and many other things) you do in your business can be broken down into smaller and smaller tasks that you can tackle in around 10 minutes, from building a website to writing a blog, managing social media to setting up sales funnels! You can use this for client work too.

Breaking jobs down into their smallest possible tasks is brilliant for your business.

It stops you getting overwhelmed and means you can be much more productive.

Fitting 10-minute jobs into the little gaps in your day is much easier than finding hours or days to tackle something that’s been on your to-do list forever, so you get more done.

I love it and my 10-minute job list is something I write as I have my morning cuppa, then it goes in my jeans pocket to be pulled out every time I get a few minutes. It means I never have that ‘brain blank’ moment when I actually get time to tackle some work – I just pick a task from the list and do it.

10-minute jobs could be business or personal – if they need doing and they can be broken down into tiny tasks then get them on there.

10-minute tasks might include:

  • Check comments, messages and emails
  • Record quick videos
  • Instagram stories
  • Make memes
  • Take photos
  • Scope out blog ideas
  • Making a phone call
  • Planning what you’ll say in a phone call
  • Planning an email
  • Writing an email
  • Answering an email
  • Coming up with ideas for blogs or newsletters
  • Scoping out a blog or newsletter
  • Writing an introduction to a blog or newsletter
  • Writing a paragraph of a blog or newsletter

You see where this is going?

Even if your job seems big, like ‘revamp my website’ it’s actually a collection of tiny tasks that you can fit into your day. Revamping a website consists of looking at what you have, seeing what changes need to be made and making the changes so it might look like this:

  1. Look at website home page and make a list of changes needed
  2. Look at website contact us page…
  3. Look at product number 1 page…

 

So, you’re tackling a page or two at a time and making a list of things you would like to change.

When it comes to actually making the changes, it might involve some bigger jobs like writing wording, finding images, doing photography, getting testimonials but again, all of these can be broken down into tiny tasks.

Writing some wording for a page or writing a product description can be done in stages.

  1. Plan out what you want to say or achieve – just scribbles or bullet points
  2. Write the first paragraph
  3. Write the second paragraph and so on

Getting testimonials can be broken down into tiny tasks

  1. Work out what sort of testimonials would be good to have
  2. Make a list of who to approach
  3. Write a basic email that you can tailor for each person
  4. Send one email when you get time
  5. Add one testimonial at a time to your site
  6. Repeat

Doing photography for your site can be broken down into tiny tasks

  1. Work out which photos you would like to have
  2. Do some research online to get ideas for setting up the photo, lighting, location, props
  3. Work out where you could take photos and what you are missing
  4. Work out what times are best for lighting and if you need to buy a light or two
  5. Do research online on lights
  6. Look for props you have in your house
  7. Make a list of props you would like to have
  8. Ask on FB to see if anyone can lend you props
  9. Do ONE photo set at a time
  10. Leave your little photo area set up if you can, then tackle the next photo
  11. Do one or two at a time, as and when you can
  12. Add one photo set to your website
  13. Repeat

Do you see the pattern here?

If you tried to tackle a job like ‘revamp my website’ or ‘get testimonials’ or ‘do new photography’ then each of those feel very big and overwhelming, something you would definitely need a day or two for.

If you break them down into tiny tasks, you’ll find you can fit them in and around your day which is exactly what you need in the school holidays. If you can get into this really useful habit, you’ll find your business is much easier to manage going forwards once the holidays are over. Win win!

 

 

*      ACTION: Grab a notebook and see what you can break down into manageable tasks

 

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS DURING SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

School holidays often leave you time-poor and lacking in focus due to the whirlwind that is children!
Although I’ve given you loads of ideas of little things you can do before and during the school holidays to make your life easier and keep your business going (and growing) some things will still have to give. This is where managing expectations comes in – yours and those of your customers.

Your expectations of what you will realistically be able to do need to err on the side of caution. You might think you’ll just want to do as much work as possible during the hols because you’re busy, but once you start to relax and spend time with the kids you might realise you just want to do a whole lot more of that.

Assume that you won’t have a lot of time to do anything while the kids are off and that way, if you DO get more time than expected it’s a bonus.

If there are things like deliveries, see if you can draft in help?

School holidays mean there are usually students or older children (who are hopefully more responsible and desperate for a bit of spending money) who can help you with packing, post office runs and even managing the shop if you have one.

Remember this isn’t business as usual, it’s ‘holiday normal’ and that’s about making the best of what you have available.

Then there are the expectations of your customers and if you get this right, it will make your business run smoothly any time of year, but especially in the school holidays.

Now, here’s the thing. I know you love your business. I know you love selling things and making money. I know you love to make customers happy and maybe, just maybe you end up saying ‘yes’ to things when you should have said ‘no’ and that sometimes you have to deal with the consequences. That’s tricky any time but during the holidays it can be a right pain in the bottom.

Why not manage customer expectations well in advance and stick to your plans, so everyone knows where they stand and you’re not faced with ‘urgent’ anything?

Here are some things you can do a couple of weeks in advance to manage customer expectations.

  • Let existing customers know your ‘holiday normal’ arrangements.
  • Tell them how your response times will change and when they can expect to hear from you.
  • Tell them what you will and won’t be able to offer.
  • Ask them to put in any orders by a cut-off date and let them know you’re happy to book work in after the holidays so they get ‘first dibs’.
  • Write a post for your social media where you give cut-off dates, response times and what they can do if they need help.
  • Pin it to the top of your business Facebook page, business Twitter account and leave it as a prominent post on Insta (you can post the same holiday post every few days on Instagram if you have other posts scheduled).
  • Put a ‘holiday arrangements’ message on your website and web shops and let people know when they can expect to hear from you.
  • Write a list of frequently asked questions and pop them on your website then direct people there from social media.
  • Set up an email autoresponder setting out your holiday arrangements and linking to your FAQ page on your website.

*      ACTION: Grab a notebook and map out your Holiday Countdown Plan!

 

 

EASY, ENGAGING SOCIAL MEDIA DURING THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

Remember what I said about not disappearing on social media for weeks at a time? This is where we’ll tackle that. The trick is to set up a bunch of engaging posts to go out on social media regularly during the school holidays. We’re going to drip, drip, drip lovely posts throughout the week that will keep you visible and remind your customers and fans why they love you.

There are a few ways to tackle this but one easy one is to have daily themes for your social media.

You might have:

Monday Motivation, Tuesday Tips, Wednesday Wisdom, Thursday Thoughts, Friday Fun, Saturday Sales Offers and Sunday Chat.

This combinations of daily themes means you have a mixture of promotional opportunities, engaging and fun posts.

You can use the Monday, Wednesday and Thursday posts to do little videos, behind-the-scenes stuff, tagging lovely customers or suppliers, polls, questions, all sorts of things.

You don’t have to TELL your fans the days, have a theme you can just plan out your weeks knowing that’s the structure you’ll follow.

You can use software like Hootsuite, Buffer or other schedulers to set it all up in advance. All you have to do is check in for a few minutes each day to ‘like’ any comments and respond.

 

 

*      ACTION: Grab a notebook and write down some social media post ideas using your daily themes & install a scheduling tool if you don’t use one

BEING MARKETING MINDED DURING THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

Finally, in this school holiday marketing plan, I want to talk to you about being marketing minded. If you can train your brain to do this, all your marketing will get easier and it’s so simple to do. The key thing you have to remember is ONE QUESTION which is:

HOW CAN I HELP OR ADD VALUE?

If you do this every day and add it to every social media post, email, message, product or service you, will find the energy around it shifts.

If you are always looking to add value, build relationships and be helpful your marketing will feel very different, your audience will notice and your business will grow.

Being marketing-minded is also about being aware and seizing opportunities.

  • It’s about having your ‘work from anywhere’ bag with you.
  • It’s about taking photos to use as meme backgrounds when you’re out and about
  • It’s about making notes on your phone or in your notebook when an idea strikes you
  • It’s about using ‘waiting’ time to learn
  • It’s about taking every opportunity to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and seeing the world as they see it, then working out how you can help them.

Marketing isn’t just a list of tasks, it’s a habit and mindset.  The sooner you can get into the marketing habit and develop a marketing mindset, the faster your business will grow.

TELL ME YOUR BEST TIPS FOR MANAGING YOUR BUSINESS IN THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW!

 

How To Think Like Your Super Customer

How To Think Like Your Super Customer

A lovely accountant on my Brilliant Business Academy Q&A call recently was feeling as flat as a pancake.

She said “Claire, I know what I should do, I just can’t bring myself to do it. When it comes to posting on Facebook or writing a blog my mind just goes blank and I lose all my enthusiasm.

Do you know what? I hear this all the time. It’s not that she doesn’t love her business – she does, she just can’t get into marketing.

Do you know what I did that really helped her?

I spent 5 minutes telling her what it’s like when you have to deal with accountants.

What it’s REALLY like from a non-accountant.

  • I told her we don’t understand accountant speak.
  • We are all terrified we’re going to get hit with huge bills from the tax man, with no notice.
  • We are scared we’re going to run up a huge accountancy bill with no clue what it’s for.
  • We are scared of looking and sounding stupid.
  • We don’t know how accounting and tax works.
  • It’s a scary subject and we hate it.

 

She was surprised.

She didn’t understand that’s how we feel because she is an accountant.

She is kind and lovely and helpful, but she didn’t realise what it’s like NOT to love accounting or think like an accountant.

Once she realised that she started asking us questions and getting loads of ideas. We spent another 5 minutes of the call brainstorming with her. She finally understood a little bit what it’s like to be us, her Super Customers.

After 10 minutes she was fired up and motivated with a list of brilliant things to post on Facebook and LinkedIn, a bunch of blog titles, a load of ideas for new packages (with great names) and a list of quick, easy changes she needed to make to her website.

It’s amazing what you can do once you start to understand your Super Customer.

Your Mini-Marketing To-Do List

Imagine you are your Super Customer and you’re looking for the sort of thing your business sells. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What am I looking for?
  2. Why do I want or need it?
  3. When do I want it?
  4. What will make me buy?
  5. What will put me off buying?
  6. Where will I look?
  7. What will I do before I buy?
  8. How will I feel once I’ve bought it?

So if you are a dog-walker your Super Customer might be a dog owner who feels really guilty about leaving their dog while they go to work. Here are their imaginary answers…

  1. A really lovely, kind dog walker who will treat my beloved dog like their own
  2. I need to know my dog is getting some love, attention and walks when I can’t be there
  3. I need it as soon as possible, this is doing my head in!
  4. If I see lots of photos of happy dogs out on walks in exciting places, some lovely reviews and it fits my budget I’ll buy. I need it to be really easy to see what it costs but to be honest, money isn’t the issue here – it’s all about the person
  5. If it’s really hard to book, if there are bad reviews, if the person doesn’t respond to me – things like that put me off
  6. I will look in local FB groups, I’ll search FB for dog walkers in my town, I’ll Google dog walkers in my town, I’ll ask friends
  7. I’ll stalk them online. No, really! I need to see that this person is right for me so I’ll look all the way through their business page, I’ll check out their website, I’ll look at their reviews, I’ll Google their name and business name to check there are no nasty surprises. My dog is my baby and I have to trust this person.
  8. I will feel RELIEVED and so happy I have found the right person. A substitute me. Someone I can trust with my precious dog AND my house keys! It will be a weight off my mind and I’ll stop feeling so guilty at work. I’ll keep looking on the dog walker’s FB page to see photos of my dog because I know she will post one every time she takes him for a walk and that makes me happy.

Get the idea?

Whether you sell cushions or baby clothes, stairlifts or jewellery, photography, consultancy or business training do this little exercise and see what comes up. If in doubt, come into my free This Girl Means Business Facebook group and have a brainstorm.

The Curse Of The Bad Customer

The Curse Of The Bad Customer

Do Bad Customers Run Your Business?

If you’ve never had one, you’re lucky.

If you have experienced really bad customers, it’s an experience that sticks with you for years, if not forever.

I’m not being melodramatic. I vividly remember my first really awful customer. I should have known he was trouble when he asked me to bring copies of my degree certificates to our first meeting, to prove my qualifications. Just to put it in context, he wanted me to help him market his storage and racking business, so quite what my degree in German & Russian and my MBA had to do with it, I’m not sure. Still, being the customer-pleasing person I thought I had to be, I duly obliged. It was just the start of an awful ‘bad customer’ experience.

He went on to take over my business and life for the next 6 months.

He would constantly call me up for meetings (he lived 40 miles away) and then berate me for wasting time.

He would pick holes in everything I did. Nothing was ever good enough and everything was my fault.

He used that as an excuse to avoid paying my invoices on time, if indeed at all.

My confidence was rock bottom. I constantly doubted myself and my ability. I began to think I was going crazy.

He was a bully, there is no question of that now I look back, but at the time I was caught up in constantly trying to get things right, because I didn’t feel I was good enough. He kept telling me I wasn’t. I didn’t want to be ‘sacked’ and I needed the money.

Now, if this is sounding like an psychologically abusive relationship, it had all the signs and I felt I had too much invested in it to walk away. For SIX MONTHS – for six months I put up with this madness. I’m only glad I saw the light before my entire business went down the pan (along with my mental health).

Who was running my business?

Certainly not me.

I was spending most of my billable time on the person who treated me worst, who didn’t value me or my time, who shouted the loudest and made me feel inadequate.

My worst customer was running my business.

He was dictating how I spent my time and energy. He dictated when I got paid. He influenced all my business decisions during that period – I didn’t have time to take on any nice clients as I was spending all my time trying to get his marketing right and finally do a ‘good job.

And I KNOW I am not alone because I hear this every day from small business owners in my groups. 

Their stories are different, of course, but the key points are the same.

They spend inordinate amounts of time and energy on the people who shout the loudest, who demand their attention (when they don’t deserve it), who treat them the worst and who make them feel like they are in the wrong.

They base their pricing on the people who tell them they are too expensive.

They are letting their worst customers run their business and they are so caught up in the drama and bullying that they can’t stop it.

It’s horrible but it happens all the time, to all sorts of small business owners.

It might even have happened to you.

I’ve heard all sorts of stories, from dress-makers and florists, to consultants and crafters, across every business sector you can imagine. Sometimes the bad customer is a person. Sometimes it’s a business. Sometimes it’s a big organisation that should know better. I’ve heard cases of bullying, of customers blackmailing small-business owners, threatening to shame them on social media (yep, had that one, too. She was a joy to work with!) or ‘get them closed down’. I’ve heard tales of small businesses held to ransom, with the ‘customer’ withholding payment for weeks or months, knowing the small business in question is relying on that money but also is too scared to take it ‘legal.’

It’s rife. And because most of the small business owners in question are busy trying to keep their head above water, maybe trying to raise a family or hold down another job while they build their business, the bullies get away with it.

So, my next question is ‘who should be running your business?’

Well, as far as I’m concerned YOU should be running your business. You should dictate how you spend your time and energy. You should decide who you want to work with and what sort of work you want to do. You should dictate your prices, so you make a good profit and therefore a good living.

Of course, you need to take notice of your customers – their feedback is invaluable, but make sure you are taking notice of the right customers. Not the bad ones.

I realise this is tricky because often, you need the money but what I’m saying is, even if you can’t afford to lose them now don’t base your business decisions on them in the future. Shape your business around the people who really value you, because they are definitely out there. You just need to work out who they are and get your business in front of them, higher prices and all.

Here are some things you can do reduce the risk of this happening to you:

  1. Have clear terms and conditions that state what is expected from you and from them. Cover things like deposits, cancellation terms, complaints procedure and the fact you will seek to recover outstanding payments in court. Put all the things in there that will protect you if a customer suddenly turned into an AWFUL customer. Make sure your terms are clear and cover you, if they change their mind or decide not to pay. You need to make sure you are not out of pocket and that you leave yourself time to fill that spot in your diary or get compensated for short notice, if you’re someone who takes bookings. Make sure they are given a copy and read it and SIGN it before you do any work for them.
  2. Take the emotion out of it. If you feel a customer is ‘turning bad’ then look at what is going on, without taking anything personally (hard, but try!). It’s very easy to get caught up in feeling upset and offended and worried but if you can step out of that, it’s easier to deal with the situation. You need to see where the customer is coming from and whether they have a genuine complaint. Has there been miscommunication? Has there been a clash of expectations? How can you put it right? Or are they really just trying to pull a fast one?
  3. Think like a business owner. What would a business owner (rather than ‘little old me’) do in this situation? What would a bigger business do? Are you being treated differently?
  4. Be prepared to say no. Be prepared to walk away. Bad customers often come sugar-coated and you sometimes can’t see what’s lurking beneath until it’s too late. If you get warning signs, get out.
  5. Go with your gut, but back it up with terms, conditions and contracts.
  6. Keep communicating. Sometimes things go bad because one of you gets sidetracked by life and the other side has no idea what is happening, so all of a sudden it turns into a ‘situation’ that could easily be avoided.
  7. Communicate in writing. You might need it later.
  8. Don’t give in to threats. If they DO shame you on social media when you have done nothing wrong, the truth will out. Just don’t get involved in an online slanging match – make a simple statement if you must, explaining you have all the evidence of the truth but you are not prepared to comment on a customer order.
  9.  Stay professional. Don’t let any of this put you off. In 14 years of running a business, I’ve only had a couple of eye-wateringly bad customers and each time I learned a lot.

Most customers are lovely. Just always remember, you are running a business not trying to be the most popular kid in the playground and sometimes it’s the tough decisions that will save your skin down the line.

Sometimes, too, it’s best just to walk away even if it means losing money because you don’t want to let the fight break your business but don’t be too ready to roll over and give in. If you heed my tips, above, you will be able to refer any bad customers back to them and show you mean business.

Oh, and if you have any advice to share, pop it in the comments!

How To Get More Control Over Your Sales

How To Get More Control Over Your Sales

I was chatting to a lady the other day and she said ‘Claire, this business is bad for my nerves and my blood pressure. One day it’s fine, I have money in the business and then within days it’s all gone on staff costs, supplies and other bills. Then we have a quiet period with no money coming in and no idea when it will start again. I feel like I’m always playing catch up – like I’m on a rollercoaster and I don’t like it! I want to get off!’

I knew exactly what she meant. It DOES feel like a rollercoaster when all you want is a smooth ride.

You just want to know you have a steady stream of business coming in, with enough money guaranteed to pay all the bill AND your wages and without all the ups and downs and lurching from OK to broke. And then you add in ‘seasonality’ and ‘quiet times’ and it becomes like a big dipper.

It’s a real challenge though, because when your business behaves like that the only way to stop that rollercoaster effect is to change the way you do things.

You have to smooth out the bumps and level out the ride and that takes time and effort, but once you get there it’s SO much easier (and better for your health).

So, How Do You Stop Those Rollercoaster Ups And Downs?

The ups and downs are caused by a few things.

By not having a steady stream of clients, by not having a steady stream of money coming in and by not having a plan to keep sales moving all the time.

So, what can you do about it?

Well, there is one thing you can do that will change the way your business behaves. It will smooth out the lumps and take out the quiet patches.

And yet, hardly anyone does it.

And even when they do, they hardly ever do it properly and consistently and yet, it could TRANSFORM their business for the better.

What is it?

Build Your Email List!

This is one of the most under-rated areas of business EVER!

So many people don’t bother building their database or collecting email addresses – or worse, they collect them and do nothing with them – and yet it could be the ANSWER to most of their business rollercoaster problems!!

Let me explain. 

When someone visits your website, they might take a look around, find a few things they like but they don’t buy – why not?

Because it’s not the right time for them.

Either they are looking for something they don’t need right now, but are just researching (think gifts for upcoming birthdays or other celebrations) or they aren’t in a position to buy YET because they are saving up or need more information or to talk to someone else about it.

So, although they LOVE your stuff, they decided not to buy today.

So they go.

Forever.

And then they forgot what your site was called so even though they vaguely remembered how lovely it was, after a quick Google it didn’t show up so you lost them.

What are you going to do about it?

“What do you mean, what am I going to do about it?” You ask! “I can’t MAKE them buy, I can’t MAKE them come back!” I hear you say.

Well here’s the thing: you can’t make them buy TODAY but do you know what?

You CAN make them much more likely to come back and buy when they are ready.

How?

You can get them onto your mailing list and you can build a relationship with them. Yes, even despite GDPR. You just have to make it very clear what they are signing up to – your ‘regular newsletter packed full of exciting news and offers’. That’s it. Make sure you use a proper marketing software package like Mailchimp to ensure you conform to all the anti-spam regulations and you’re ready to go.

THEN you can send them your regular e-newsletter, packed full of things they will love and find useful.

You’ll share new product information, you’ll tell them about any sales or offers you have, you’ll talk about the business, you’ll suggest ways to use your products and services and you’ll include lovely testimonials from happy customers.

Every month.

That way, they get used to seeing you in their inbox.

They start to look forward to getting your emails and hearing from you.

They look out for your sales and offers.

They become familiar with your name and your business and your products and services.

A Transformation Takes Place

They change FROM someone who loved your stuff but wasn’t ready to buy (so they left your website never to return) INTO someone who looks forward to your monthly email and buys even when they hadn’t planned to because you put such lovely things under their nose all the time. 

You go from being ‘just another business’ to being the business they think of when they need what you sell. And when they are ready to buy, they will buy from YOU. It’s like magic. But it’s actually quite simple, really. You just need to stay in touch, keep sharing stuff they love and keep adding value.

It Just Keeps Getting Better

Not only do they get used to seeing you around in their email, they also start to get to know you (and people buy people, remember?).

They learn about your business.

If you’re clever, you’ll have videos and images on your website and social media pages of you and your team so customers know who they are dealing with – it will bridge the gap between you being an ‘untrustworthy stranger’ to being someone your subscribers feel they know.

And you can direct people from your newsletters to your website to find out more about you and your team.

People are much more likely to buy from you if they feel there is a ‘real’ person behind the business who loves what they do and can help them if they struggle with a purchase. This is where you have a HUGE advantage over the big faceless corporates who can’t manage that personal touch.

Smoothing Out Cashflow Lumps

And remember we talked about that lurching rollercoaster feeling of ups and downs in sales and money coming in? Well building your database and keeping in touch with your subscribers via regular e-newsletters is an antidote to that. It smooths out the big lumps. It steadies the ride.

Think about it. Most businesses rely on potential customers finding them on Google. If those people visit their website and don’t buy there and then, they have lost them. What a waste.

Not you though, you’re clever and you’ve got this covered. You know now you need to get them onto your email list and keep in touch with them.

And you’re sending them lovely newsletters packed full of things they will find interesting, useful and valuable.

And then every so often (in your usual quiet time) you send them a BIG DEAL newsletter. A newsletter with a FAB offer they can’t resist.

Do you think they will take notice?

Well, they will probably take far more notice of YOUR offers than those of any other random company who happens to tout to them.

What will actually happen is that you’ll have control over your sales.

Let me just repeat that in case you didn’t get it.

YOU WILL HAVE CONTROL OVER YOUR SALES

That’s MASSIVE!

Because 80% of your newsletters and newsletter content will be non-salesy, added value loveliness, when you DO send out an offer your subscribers will take notice. And BUY.

This is what I do with my business. It’s what ALL successful businesses do – because it works!

It takes time to build your database and build those relationships. You have to put some work in to establish your monthly newsletter and work out what your subscribers love to see and read. But once you get the recipe right, it really works.

When you send out offers, the people on your growing email list will buy. 

That counteracts seasonality.

It flattens out those horrible rollercoaster peaks and troughs.

It gets rid of the stress and the fear of NO SALES.

It works whether you have a physical shop or premises, or you’re totally online.

Quiet times are a thing of the past.

You just need to plan your e-marketing in a very simple way and you’ve got it covered (eg. January Sale, February Valentines, March Spring Offers, April Showcase, you get the idea)

So let me just recap:

  1. Build your database (another blog coming next week to tell you HOW to do that)
  2. Keep in touch every month
  3. Share information that’s topical, useful, valuable and interesting but not SELL, SELL, SELL
  4. Once in a while, on a regular basis, send out a BIG DEAL OR OFFER newsletter
  5. Watch the sales come in

Are you up for a challenge? The sooner you start building your list and e-marketing, the sooner the magic will start to happen. I can’t wait to see how you get on!