John Caplan, founder and CEO of OpenSky.com, shares his tips on how leveraging the web’s social tools to build a community around your brand and engage directly with shoppers can grow your business.
As an entrepreneur, I know how important it is to build a community of people around your business. As a business owner who is passionate about growing emerging businesses, getting your business online to leverage distribution and build relationships is an essential tool.
At OpenSky, we strive to empower emerging brands to grow their businesses by engaging consumers. We make sure to communicate and constantly listen to the concerns, questions and feedback from our merchants and our members, which helps us build a platform that works for people we serve.
Leveraging the web’s social tools to build a community around your brand by engaging and communicating directly with your shoppers can grow your business. Here are some ways to help you achieve this.
1. Social media makes it easier than ever to connect directly to customers.
Establish your brand on social channels – Facebook, OpenSky, Twitter, Pinterest — where you can have active, real-time conversations. It’s not only a great way to share updates but often times, it’s that real time feedback from customers that can help you resolve a problem before it impacts a huge number of people. This will serve as an effective way to give people a great experience because then they share it with their friends and their friends share it with friends and so on. There is nothing more effective for marketing than a truly happy customer.
2. It’s essential to listen to customer feedback on social outlets and respond right away.
However, as it important as it is, make sure that isn’t the only way you’re getting direct feedback from customers about how you’re doing. Ask for it anytime an opportunity arises. From packing slips, to invoices, customer surveys and emails – there are numerous opportunities to ask your customers for feedback and offer a place where they can provide it.
3. In addition to blogs and social networks, invite members of your community from customers to partners and vendors into your offices, stores or workshops.
Whether it’s for a party, focus group, or to demo a new product – creating the face-to-face connection can be invaluable for creating brand loyalty.
4. One of the most difficult and stressful elements of growing a business is expanding your products or services.
Adding a new feature or service can strain your core business and potentially alienate existing customers, especially in the beginning. Open the lines of communication and bring your community into your growth strategy by talking to them during the process. Working with your core customers early on to help them understand new products and services will keep you on the right track, provide valuable insight and make your loyal customers more forgiving of any mishaps in the road to success.
By Jennifer Dunn
You need more clients, but what’s the easiest way to get them? Simple – through clients you’ve already done business with! However, what isn’t simple is obtaining customer referrals when you don’t know how to go about it. Here are three things you can do to ensure you’ll get a great referral at the end of a job.
1. Knock Their Socks Off
There’s absolutely no way you will get a referral from your client if you don’t do the job they wanted correctly. Would you give a carpenter a referral if they only fixed 3/4 of your floor? Of course not – it would severely hurt your reputation as a business owner and as someone to be trusted.
Make sure you’re doing absolutely everything your client wanted you to do. You may think you’ve completed a job but later discover you forgot a few things. These “few things” can be disastrous – not only to your chances of a referral but also to the client ever knocking on your door again.
2. Follow Up
Most jobs end when the client pays and you go your separate ways. The work is done and the client goes to see if what you’ve done will improve their business, life, or both. You go and try to find someone else to hire you so you can keep paying the bills.
However, that’s not really the end of it all, is it? The client doesn’t really know if what you’ve done has worked until it’s been road-tested. If you’ve created a new front page for their website, they could experience severe backlash to it even though it’s amazing. Their customers might rail against it for a myriad of reasons and you don’t know until it’s out there.
If you follow up with your client, it shows you’re actively invested in their business and not just a passing face in the crowd. Ask them how things are going and if they need any further help. If you see some interesting news they could use, send it along. It shows you care about them and your relationship with them, which can lead to good things down the road.
3. Ask and Offer Incentives
Your client probably has no clue you would like a referral. You can’t just assume they can read your mind no matter how heavily you hint. You just need to come out and ask.
Timing is key, though. If you haven’t completed the above two steps don’t even think about asking your client to refer you to his or her colleagues. On the other hand, waiting too long can be just as bad. The client may not even remember you if you wait half a year to contact them about it!
Sometimes incentives can do the trick. For example, offer your client a discount for the next job they need done if they refer a friend or two. If they’re a repeat client and they regularly bring in more work you can up the ante even more. Rewarding them for maintaining a good relationship with your company is never a bad thing!
Do you regularly ask for client referrals? How do you do it?
By Chris Nosal
Over the years, going through various systems, methods, and education on marketing, I’ve come across a lot of information on the topic; much of it subject to debate, criticism, and even being completely contradictory (which made it hard for me to decide what to do, and what not to do).
However, one of the biggest things I’ve learned in marketing and working with people, is that successful marketing often comes down to just a few basic principles that, while often overlooked, make perfect sense when you think about them, but you can only learn them by listening to the people you’re serving.
But if you’re like me (and so many other marketers out there), you’ve gotten so wrapped up in trying to learn all the latest, greatest, and best “techniques” and tactics” that you were never able to see the basic reality of marketing itself.
And in this post I’d like to share with you 3 simple strategies that transformed my entire business:
1. Focus On Creating Great Products.
We know that our products and services are, ultimately, the only reason we make money, and they’re what we get paid for, yet I’m forever amazed at how many marketers take the element that is at the CORE of the success of their business, give very little time or attention to making it great for their customers, and are often content to sell mediocre products, as long as their marketing is good.
We live in the social media age, and if you want to get a good reputation, and to have a thriving business, your first priority needs to be on focusing on the core moneymaker in your business, which is your products; plain and simple, if you put great products in front of people, they will pull out their wallets.
2. Start By Building Trust.
Everywhere I look, I see hype and sensationalist claims; people shamelessly bragging and throwing hype in your face about how great their products are, and while this worked at one time, before the rise of the internet, when 4 or 5 people were doing it, and you had time to listen, now we hear this propaganda so many times a day that we just tune it out, and all these claims just blend into one big pile of noise.
If you want to stand out with your readers, start by talking about why you created your products, educating readers on the features of your product, and teaching readers how your product is going to benefit them. If you really want to stand out, build a loyal following, and get noticed, start by focusing on creating an intimate relationship with your customers.
3. Be Passionate About What You Do.
Whether it’s Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or Steve Jobs, people get behind someone who has a VISION, because they see how that vision will benefit them, and the world, and want to see that vision fulfilled. That’s the real secret to building a lasting business that works.
When you inspire people with a vision, you give them something they can get behind and support, and instead of just pitching a product, you’re building an emotional bond with people, and connecting with them on an intimate one-on-one level, which is a THOUSAND times more powerful than just trying to convince someone to buy something they don’t already want so you can make money.
No matter what you do, you need to make sure that you’re doing something great, because once you’re gone, no matter how much money you’ve made, you can’t take the money with you, and you can’t get back the time you’ve lost once it’s gone.
Remember what I said at the beginning of this post; the people you’re SERVING.
Your job and focus in marketing is not to make money, it’s to serve people, and if you follow this formula, the money will come naturally as a result of the service you provide.
So make sure you don’t become a slave to money, and that you use your life doing something you’re passionate about that helps people.
When you follow this formula, you’ll find that not only does it make you successful, but it also provides the added benefit of helping others, giving your life real meaning, and enabling you to make the most of every moment of your life.
Remember that if you truly want to be successful in marketing or business, it starts with focusing on making the biggest possible difference you can in lives of the people you help, doing what you love with your life, and you’ll find that everything else falls into place naturally.keep looking »