A Business Anniversary to Remember: CCC Turns 7

This week, Clearly Conveyed Communications turns seven! It’s hard to believe my little venture is hitting the 7-year milestone on May 15th, but I’m so grateful to so many people who I’ve met and worked with along the way.

 

CCC turns 7!

 

As we celebrate our seventh anniversary, I want to share seven tips I’ve learned during our seven years in business.

  1. You can be a small business owner. Entrepreneurship isn’t only for people with extensive resources, a trust fund or a Harvard MBA. It’s hard work to build a business, but it is possible to do it from scratch. Have an idea?
  2. Remember your why. The day-to-day grind of running and growing your business can be overwhelming at times. Remember why you started your business, and keep a prominent reminder in your office or close at hand, so you can see it when you need a boost.
  3.  Celebrate the little (and big) victories. Small business owners have big dreams, so remember to take the time to celebrate victories, large or small. These successes will keep you going during tough times and losses, which will happen. What are you celebrating?
  4. Be ethical always. Some people say there are no ethics in business today, but I disagree. In the digital age, trust is more important than ever. As we spend more time online and on social media, it’s imperative that you’re honest with customers, partners and yourself. Don’t promise results you can’t achieve, or work with people who use unethical business practices.
  5. Your time is your most important asset. As a small business owner, you have to weigh every request on your time, and learn to say no to opportunities that aren’t a good fit for your business. It’s hard to turn down a potential project or client, but it may help you grow in the long run.
  6. Focus on paid work. As a small business owner, you need to focus on revenue-generating activity as much as possible. If you can’t bill for an activity, can you delegate it or stop doing it? That may not be possible, but you need to regularly review how you’re spending your time to make sure your cash flow remains strong. Too much non-revenue work can put you out of business.
  7. Put your current customers first. We all want to grow, but remember to put your current customers first. You’ve probably heard that it’s much less expensive to do more business with current customers than to find new ones. By spending time on (and with) your customers, you can find new opportunities to grow your business with them, and you’ll deliver an impressive customer experience that will encourage referrals.

 

Thank you to everyone who has supported us along the way. What an incredible journey it’s been, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds!

If you’re looking for help with your company’s marketing, writing or social media needs (or know someone who does), let’s talk.

Toasting 7 incredible years,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about small business life, your marketing needs or what you’re celebrating):

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Why Customer Experience Should Be Your Focus in 2018

Editor’s Note: We’re excited to welcome Dan Ridge as a contributor to the CCC blog!

The customer is always right has long been a business adage. In today’s highly competitive environment, it’s more than just selling products to customers; it’s about providing them with a seamless and enjoyable experience throughout the time they’re in touch with your business.

Why Customer Experience Should Be Your Focus in 2018

Whether they’re looking at your website, talking to a sales rep, or reading one of your brochures, the customer should gain value and insight from their experience of dealing with your business, which is why everyone is talking about customer experience.

Good customer experience has a huge role to play in whether a customer buys from you and can be the key decision-making factor. I interviewed Rory at Promotions Warehouse and asked for his view on why customer experience should be your focus for 2018.

A good experience increases overall customer satisfaction

Research has shown that providing a consistent approach to customers throughout their customer journey with your business can increase customer satisfaction by around 20%. If every touch point the customer has with you from initial contact to purchase to post-sales communication is consistent and positive, that customer will be far happier than one who bought your product, but experienced poor service while doing so.

A good experience means customers are more likely to come back

It’s far less expensive for businesses to carry out repeat business with loyal customers than to constantly attract new customers all the time. Enjoying a great customer experience is a very good way to ensure customer loyalty to your brand. If they have a positive experience dealing with you, they’re more likely to come back again and again. Customer experience is what will make you stand out from your competitors and adds value to your customers, so they won’t want to risk switching their business elsewhere.

Customers who are happy will spread the word

If your customers have a good experience, they’re more likely to spread the word among their friends and colleagues, which can lead to an increase in referrals.

They’re also more likely to write favorable reviews on your website and to praise you in online forums or groups on social media. All this free word of mouth publicity can only enhance your business reputation and spread your name to other potential customers who might not otherwise have heard of your business.

“Good customer experience is more than just selling customers a product they need at the right price; it’s about providing them with consistent communication, tailored messaging and information which is valuable and interesting to them.”

Good customer experience is your key differential

Unless your product or service is completely unique, you have some competition out there in the marketplace. With others offering the same product, the only differential for customers is their experience buying from your business.

Offering superior customer service compared with your competitors is a clear way to make your brand stand out and help your customers with their decision-making process. It’s also a better long-term strategy than trying to beat competitors solely on price.

Happy customers spend more money

Customers who enjoy the experience of working with you or dealing with your business are far more likely to spend more money with you. Research has shown that customers who enjoy good customer service are 70% more likely to spend more money with a business than those who have experienced an adequate level of service.

They’re not just more likely to become loyal and repeat customers but also customers who spend more each time they use your products or services. This is one of the biggest reasons why customer experience should be your focus for this year if you want to grow your business.

Building long-term customer relationships

If you can create a great customer experience, you’ll be able to build a long-term relationship with your customers, keeping them coming back repeatedly.

In today’s consumer society, customers are bombarded with messages and marketing material at every turn. Creating consistent personalized, tailored customer communications will help your brand break through the noise and stand out in their minds.

If customers look forward to your emails/mailers/catalogues/offers because they know they’ll be relevant and interesting, you’ll be able to build lasting relationships with them to help create a sustainable business.

Good customer experience is more than just selling customers a product they need at the right price; it’s about providing them with consistent communication, tailored messaging and information which is valuable and interesting to them. Customers need to have a great experience at every single touch point with your company, from the first ad they see to when they walk through the doors. If that happens, your business will benefit.

Weigh In on Customer Experience

How does your company offer a good customer experience?
What companies provide you with an enjoyable customer experience?
What other benefits do a quality customer experience deliver?

Dan Ridge is a freelance writer specializing in marketing and small business.

 

Content Marketing: A Crucial Component of the Customer Experience

A stat from a recent article on content marketing caught our eye.

“Consumers engage with 11.4 pieces of content on average prior to making a purchase.”

pexels-photo-296878

In the B2B world, buying journeys tend to run longer anyway, but consumers (B2B and B2C) are doing their homework these days. Studies show that 70-80% of people research a company online before visiting the small business or making a purchase with them.

Whether it’s leftover angst from the Great Recession or the availability of information today, it’s precisely why content marketing is so important.

Here’s a real-life example:

Recently, I stayed over in Park City, Utah, for a day after working a client’s conference in nearby Salt Lake City. On a whim, I decided to get a massage after spending the previous four days pounding convention center floors. I pulled up local spas on my phone, checking their hours, availability and services. Not surprisingly, I contacted the spas who had this information available online — not ones I had to call just to see if they were open. And the spas who had additional content available — more in-depth descriptions of their services, photos of their facility, online real-time availability, etc. — moved to the top of my list.

What does this have to do with content marketing? The information I sought was quality content created by (or for) these spas: descriptive services pages with quality photos, blog articles on the benefits of one type of massage over another, recommendations on how to maximize your spa-going experience. This is what consumers are looking for today before making a purchase or even contacting your company.

While I didn’t end up getting a massage, I did manage to take a break from technology and enjoy the magic of Park City. But not before I utilized even more content — a visitor’s guide from my condo, Park City Transit’s website — to plan my stress-free day.

We’re all consumers at some point, so don’t forget about your experiences as a customer when you put on your marketing hat. These experiences are valuable and can make us better marketing professionals, if we choose to use them.

Reader Feedback

How have you used content marketing to learn more about a business or make a purchase?

How do you use your experiences as a customer to become a better marketing professional?

What types of content do you prefer when researching a company or purchase?

A professional customer and marketing professional,
Jaime

 

Let’s chat (about content marketing, customer experiences or otherwise):
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Customer Experience: Starbucks Shows How It’s Done

Loyal readers of this blog know that I’m an espresso lover and Starbucks fan. Despite being a longtime, loyal customer, I do run into problems with the coffee behemoth once in awhile, like you will with any brand. What matters most is how your favorite brands resolve these occasional issues.

Starbucks logo on coffee sleeve

The famous twin-tailed mermaid, or Siren, makes me smile.

Earlier this week, I decided to run to my local Starbucks to grab lunch. In the midst of a chaotic day, I ordered a deli sandwich via Mobile Order & Pay in the Starbucks app. Upon arriving, I learned that the sandwich I had ordered was sold out.

The barista apologized and let me know what other sandwiches the store had and reminded me of the newly available (in our area) Bistro Boxes. I decided on another sandwich that I had been debating on ordering anyway, and my revised order was quickly filled.

The same barista, who took control of my situation, didn’t charge me the additional cost of my new order and promptly gave me two $4 coupons for future use. The best part was that I was still in and out of the store in 3-4 minutes so I stayed on schedule.

The substituted sandwich was delicious and paired nicely with my second latte of the day I brewed when I was back in my office (with Starbucks coffee, of course). Instead of leaving the Starbucks store peeved and empty-handed, the barista made sure that I walked away with a positive experience despite the hiccup.

How do your favorite brands handle the occasional hiccup?

Always drinking (or thinking about) espresso,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about coffee, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Share the Luck of the Irish with Your Clients & Employees

Whatever your background, we’re all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick's Day revelers enjoy the celebration

St. Patrick’s Day by Courtney Collison via CC BY-SA 2.0 http://bit.ly/1QVmT1J

Here’s how to share the spirit of this holiday with your business family:

  • Throw an Irish potluck — Ask employees to bring their favorite Irish-themed foods for a festive event in the office. If you’re throwing a last-minute shindig, order in from your favorite Irish restaurant. Hand out fun promotional items, such as four leaf clover-printed sunglasses, green hats or four leaf clover beads. Remind everyone to wear green and punctuate the event with some fun Irish music (or March Madness)!
  • Enjoy March Madness during a St. Patrick’s Day Happy Hour — Invite your employees and/or clients to Happy Hour at your favorite local pub. Cheer on your favorite men’s college basketball teams (or the ones you picked on your bracket) with an ice cold Guinness in hand. If you’re feeling lucky, pick up the first round of drinks along with some hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy the camaraderie as you survive the roller coaster ride of the NCAA Tournament!
  • Hold a Luck of the Irish Contest — Invite your clients to participate in a themed contest celebrating this popular holiday. Anyone who places an order receives a mystery discount or gift. You can hold the contest digitally with a well-designed landing page, email marketing and social media promotion. Take the contest offline with direct mail, scratch off tickets and in-person visits. Don’t forget to create a hashtag and encourage clients to post their winning tickets on social!
  • Bring the Irish Spirit into Your Office — Encourage employees to wear green along with festive accessories. Reward the most festive, creative and other categories of your choice with gift certificates to your local pub, lunch delivered in the office or a day (or afternoon) off. Throughout the day, highlight your festivities on social media so fans can get to know the faces behind the scenes and see your fun culture.

St. Patrick’s Day 2016: How the World Will Celebrate From Dublin to Tokyo

However you decide to celebrate, have fun! May the Luck of the Irish be with you and your business always.

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about green beer, holiday marketing or otherwise):
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Essential Guide To Creating A Memorable Brand For Your Small Business

Branding is all about resonating with your target audience. If you want to cut through the incessant chatter of the online world or make an impact in the offline world, then your brand needs to say a lot about you.

But how do you go about creating a brand that both reflects what you do and that forms a connection with your customers? For small and mid-sized businesses on a budget, it’s a tough job. So we’ve put together this guide to help you find some answers.

Branding by EdgeThreeSixty via CC BY 2.0

Ask yourself who you are

Be honest about your business and who you are. While some companies, such as legal firms and funeral homes, should stick with a serious or solemn image, others can go with a more lighthearted, cheeky or even humorous approach.

This is where small businesses have an advantage. We can position ourselves as local companies who are helping our local economies while battling corporate behemoths who are sending profits far away. This ‘us vs. them’ message can work well; check out the Brew Dog story for inspiration.

“Every brand has a story, and your story is integral to your success.”

Get your target audience right

To create a successful brand, you have to know who you are talking to, so researching your market is an essential part of the process. Find out who your customers are, what they do, and where they live.

Also, look at what they like and what encourages them to respond. What are their fears, hopes and dreams? Once you have learned enough about your target audience(s), you can create a tone of voice that connects with them.


Be consistent

Great branding is consistent. When people see your business, they should know exactly what to expect. So it’s important to reflect the same brand message throughout your organization. Make sure that employees, partners and anyone else spreading your message are using your tone of voice. Look at managed print services that can keep your marketing materials consistent. Give people what they expect, and they will continue to trust and work with you.


Be yourself

As a small business, you face disadvantages when competing against a national or global company. Don’t try to copy their branding and positioning, because you don’t have their resources to achieve the same results.

You have to look for a unique aspect of your business that differentiates you from your competition and let people know what that is. If they beat you on price, then offer value-added services that they can’t possibly match. There will be many things that you can do better than the big players, so figuring those out — and promoting them — is vital to your brand.

Related reading: Mad Men: Master Storytelling in Any Era


Don’t concentrate on winning new customers

Of course, bringing on new customers is always important, but as a small business it’s important to put more energy into retention. Your current clients are the people who buy from you already — and will be likely to buy more in the near future.

If you offer excellent service and forge long-lasting relationships with your current clients, you’ll grow your brand more than spending all of your time chasing potential new customers.

Related reading: Branding is a Feeling, Not a Noun

Do you want to create a memorable brand for your small business? Check out our other branding posts for tips and tricks or get in touch. We’d love to help you tell your brand story.

We give brands a voice,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about your brand, the art of branding or otherwise):
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6 Things All Businesses Should Do Over Christmas

It’s that time! The Holiday selling season is upon us…

Christmas is a stressful time for both businesses and customers. Businesses worry about losing customers during this hectic season, and customers worry about getting everything done on their lengthy to-do lists. Sure, some businesses will pick up customers as everybody is in a mad rush to buy presents. However, others can lose out to companies with better marketing strategies if they’re not on the ball.

Here are things all businesses should do over Christmas:

Offer A Discount

You might not think that offering a discount is a smart move over Christmas. After all, you have the potential to make a lot more money here. However, there’s nothing really stopping a customer from heading to a competitor for their needs. If you offer a discount, you’re giving them an incentive to continue coming to you. You could even offer the discount exclusively to loyal customers to show them you care.

Send Free Gifts

Why not get in the Christmas spirit and send your customers free gifts? You could send them a free thank you gift off your own back, or send them a free gift with their order, whatever you feel most suitable. It doesn’t have to be a Christmas themed gift to be effective. You could even make it a sample version of one of your products, or a voucher to use against a service you offer.

Run Competitions

Run competitions over Christmas to get people interested in your business. You can do this both offline and online, or one or the other. Do it wherever you feel you’ll get the most response. Holding competitions online can really help you to expand your reach and exposure. People love the opportunity to win stuff, so create a fun Christmas competition for them to get involved with.

Send Cards to Customers

Sending cards to your customers both old and new shows them that you value them. It also helps to keep you in the forefront of their minds, so that they don’t completely forget about you at this time of year. The most effective way to do it is to send business ecards. Then you can send a discount along with the card and monitor your efforts too. You’ll be able to see exactly how many people interact with your ecard, and it’s more eco-friendly!

Create Christmas Landing Pages for Your Site

Creating Christmas landing pages on your site shows that you keep it up to date. A page like this will be more engaging to Christmas shoppers. People start Christmas shopping as early as September these days, so don’t waste any time!

Promote on Social Media

Don’t forget to use social media to promote your Christmas offers and engage with shoppers. Don’t shove your offers down their throats, but make sure your online marketing strategy is on point.

All businesses should make sure they do these things over Christmas. If you do, you’ll increase your revenue and be much more successful in retaining your clients (and even adding new ones). Make sure your marketing is in the Christmas spirit, and you’ll have a great start to the New Year!

Holiday Marketing Feedback

Are you looking forward to the Holidays?

How early do you start your Holiday selling (or shopping) season?

Do you prefer printed cards or ecards?

Happy Holiday selling,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about Holiday marketing, the magic of Christmas or otherwise):
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