The Milkshake Solution to Your Product Development Puzzle

In the harried pace to stay ahead in product development, how thorough is your research phase? Are you confident you’re onto the next big thing that your customers actually want or need? Seth Godin says, “Don’t find customers for your product. Find products for your customers.

Product Development - The Milkshake Theory

They want it faster, shinier, first, or free – or do they?

Chasing market share in product development often becomes a competitive quest for being faster, being first, having a whiz-bang feature, or coming in cheaper. Yet, only an evidence-based understanding of your customer can temper the confirmation bias of product development, says a Medium article, explaining the maxim ‘We only make products for ourselves.’ “This is one of the reasons why so many products fail to resonate. They’re created with a hypothetical customer or with no customer at all.”

Key takeaway: Engage your customers in product development. Are there caveats to consider? You betcha!

Henry Ford said it best when he claimed, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Gaining feedback directly from customers about their needs and wants is essential. However, the thinkers and dreamers in UX, product development and marketing are the ones charged with casting a vision of what could be, of finding meaningful ways to be different, and discovering new ways to delight customers.

What delights today may come to be expected tomorrow. When first introduced, cup holders in cars may have been a “wow” feature.. Are you impressed by them now or do you expect them as standard?

Key takeaway: Anticipate and exceed customer expectations, constantly.

Stay curious about your customers

Whether it’s faster horses, the next great cup holder, or the proverbial sliced bread, it’s necessary to go beyond product research in the development of products and services. Stay curious. Explore customer behavior! What makes them tick? (Hint: Look beyond customer demographics.)

We are humans, fueled by feelings, motivated by a myriad of influences from physical (hunger, pain) to emotional (nostalgia, peer pressure). Engineering a product without taking into account the world your customers live and work in to help you understand how and why your customers engage with your company is short-sighted.

Clay Shirky wrote in his book, Cognitive Surplus, about a team of researchers hired by McDonald’s. The subject? They wanted to improve sales of their milkshakes:

“Should the shakes be thicker? Sweeter? Colder? Almost all of the researchers focused on the product. But one of them, Gerald Berstell, chose to ignore the shakes themselves and study the customers instead. He sat in a McDonald’s for eighteen hours one day, observing who bought milkshakes and at what time. One surprising discovery was that many milkshakes were purchased early in the day. Berstell also garnered three other behavioral clues from the morning milkshake crowd: the buyers were always alone, they rarely bought anything besides a shake, and they never consumed the shakes in the store.

The key to understanding what was going on was to stop viewing the product in isolation and to give up traditional notions of the morning meal. Berstell instead focused on a single, simple question: “What job is a customer hiring that milkshake to do at eight A.M.?”

Key takeaway: Ask new questions. Embrace new insights.

Explore the role of customer behavior and feedback in your product development. Look beyond the features and attributes of your market offering and consider ‘what job are your customers hiring that product/service to do?’ What you learn may seem unusual or even run contrary to what you thought you knew about your products and your customers. Don’t deny what’s different. The unusual can be a clue to uncover your next competitive advantage and the key to unlocking greater customer delight!

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The Power of First Impressions

This article was originally published on July 14, 2017 on Manta – Small business marketing solutions helping millions of businesses get found by more customers. Original article.

Don’t miss your chance to build trust with new customers. Make sure your first interaction is a prompt, positive introduction to your small business.

First impressions are one of your most powerful resources—or one of your biggest pitfalls. Those initial experiences a customer has with your small business are literally laying the groundwork for a foundation of trust. And that foundation of trust? It’s vital to ensuring a long-lasting customer relationship.

What happens in those first moments, for better or worse—from a phone call that goes to voicemail to a not-so-tidy lobby—gives your newest customers insight into their future experience with your business.

During those first moments, there are three questions your customers are asking themselves:

  1. Does this business care about its customers?
  2. Will I enjoy working with these people?
  3. Are they going to respond to my needs?

It’s critical that you answer these questions in those initial interactions because if you don’t, the customer is going to answer for themselves. You want a resounding, “Yes, absolutely!” for every one of these questions! That means thinking long and hard about where those first impressions occur, and examining these touchpoints closely. Is there room for improvement? Are you leaving any opportunities to surprise and delight on the table?

Most importantly, do customers experience confusion or discomfort at any point in the process? If so, immediately focus on those areas until that is no longer the case. After all, 78% of consumers have literally bailed on a transaction solely because of their initial experience!

And remember, we want our first impressions to form a foundation of trust and answer those three important questions. Confusion and discomfort are antithetical to trust (and certainly won’t make customers feel cared for), so don’t let those feelings creep in to those first interactions. Think of yourself as the guardian of trust in those first moments. Defend it with all of your might!

OK, so we know those first impressions are really important. That’s all well and good, but let’s get down to brass tacks here: What can you do now to ensure that your customers are experiencing a delightful first impression of your business?

Answer the Phone

Don’t let your phone go to voicemail during business hours—that causes confusion and frustration for customers trying to reach you. And avoid obnoxious phone trees at all costs. Keep in mind that 67% of customers have actually hung up the phone out of frustration with an automated system, likely moving on to a competitor who did answer their call.

Be Prompt

When responding to emails or messages, always do so as quickly as possible. If you’re not typically able to respond to emails or messages throughout the day, be sure to include an auto-reply or other communication so that customers know exactly what to expect (and, again, help avoid any confusion). A friendly “I’m busy at the shop until 3 p.m., but I’ll happily respond to your email as soon as I’ve closed up for the day!” goes a long way to reassure customers.

Use Positive Language

Can something as simple as word choice have a dramatic impact on a customer’s first impression of a business? It seems silly, but it’s true! The words you choose can significantly affect a customer’s experience. If you want a customer to walk away smiling after their initial interaction, replace negative phrases such as, “I can’t do that,” or “I don’t know,” with something a little more positive such as, “While I’m not able to do that, I would be happy to…” or “Great question! I’d be delighted to find out for you,” and see what happens. You just might be surprised at the results!

Be Human!

Wait, what? Yeah, I said it: Don’t rely on robots to take care of your customers. Chatbots, interactive voice response (IVR), and other forms of artificial intelligence software are fine, but they’re not delightful.

Humans crave connection and interaction—even if they swear they’d rather send a text—so be sure to satisfy that craving wherever you can. Bots are limited in their capacity to assist, and even as far as they’ve come, it’s always painfully obvious when you’re interacting with one. Don’t cut corners where it matters most: Ensure that your customers are getting an opportunity to interact with a warm, friendly human, and you will be well ahead of the game.

Masterfully crafting these initial interactions will set you up for long-term success with your customers. If you want customers to trust you—and ultimately to feel loyalty for your business—don’t let those first impressions slip by!

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for a Winning Sales Deck

This article was originally published by Donan Griffit on July 6, 2017 on Startups.co – The world’s largest startup platform, helping over 1 million startup companies. More from Startups.


Recently I published “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Your Startup’s Investor Pitch Deck” and the response has been overwhelming! Thanks to all the readers and people who have reached out!


One of the main requests was “Can you please do a cheat sheet for a sales deck as well?” Yes! With pleasure.

Similar to an investor pitch deck — there is a specific “narrative,” a framework that just works! It’s because of the psychology of the human brain. You’ll find that the 2 frameworks are very similar, with some tweaks. So here we go:

The Best Kept Secret to Successful Sales

Think of a time that you went shopping and ended up buying way more than you intended to. What happened there? Most likely you encountered a salesperson that was REALLY good. The thing is, being good at sales DOES NOT mean being pushy! If you push, the customer will retreat. Psychology 101. What did that salesperson do to get you to buy so much?

They listened. They listened to what you wanted, what you didn’t want, they read your body language and above all — they EMPATHIZED. They made you feel understood — and when you were in that place, you became putty in their hands.

The key is doing it in an authentic way. Not just lip service.

The Framing of a Sales Pitch

The best way to get started when creating any type of pitch is to frame the listeners questions. And the frame for a sales pitch is:

  • Do you Understand my Need?
  • How Does Your Solution Benefit my Need?
  • How Does it Work?
  • How has it Benefitted Others Like me?
  • If I’m Interested — How do I Move Forward?

It’s as simple as that — answer those questions, in that order — and you’ve got the sale.

In our deck format we’ve boiled it down to 4 sections:


The Need — The problem, the challenge, the villain or the opportunity in their lives

The Solution — The “hero” of the story, what is your solution, how does it work?

Business Data — All the good stuff they need to know to validate you — your current status, customers, partners, success stories, differentiation, etc.

Vision for the Future — How will you move forward together? What does the roadmap look like? What are the next steps?

And finally, you can summarize with your biggest value proposition if you like.

Drilling Down the Slides

 

Now I’ll go through slide by slide and explain each one. You might notice some similarities to the Investor Pitch Deck and you would be right! This is good news because if you already have one perfected, the other one is just a matter of adjusting the story and gearing it to the right audience


1. Title Slide — One Line about what it is you do — go for the big vision statement — not What you do — WHY you do! Hit them in the gut with this


2. The Problem They’re Facing – Here’s the place to describe the gap /problem /challenge or missed opportunity that they are facing. This is best told as a story — you don’t want to come right out and tell them that they have a problem, use a bit more finesse — tell them about something that happened to a company like them because of the problem. People are motivated either by the carrot — something good that could happen to them, or the stick — preventing something bad from happening. Which is more motivating for your audience?


3. Trends – This is where you amp up your problem statement. You bring stats, trends, quotes, etc. that prove that this is a true problem and that existing solutions simply aren’t cutting it.


4. Solution — How are you solving this? Create a simple solution sentence: We’re doing X(solving a problem) for Y(for a specific audience) by Z(in a nutshell, what are you? A Platform /app /solution/tool/ etc.) and as a bonus, your secret sauce that is enabling you to do it This should be so simple that anyone could understand it — even if they don’t have a degree in computer science or engineering.


5. DemoCreate an up to five-minute demo showing off your solution — it could be a short film, screenshots, a screenflow (use Camtasia) or even a mock up. Guide them through a first time user experience and highlight 4–5 of the standout features. Make them go wow — but don’t overwhelm them with details. Bonus points if you can do a personalized demo to make them see how it could work for them.


6. Products/Offerings — If you have several different types of solutions or products under your main brand, this is the place to talk about them.


7. Benefits — Highlight the important benefits to your users (if this has already come across in the demo, don’t repeat) keep it at 6–8, no more. You might have 2 types of users. ie The business and their customers (users and end users), publishers and brands — you can list benefits for each. This is where you really want to show the value they will get by using you — i.e. cost reduction, increased productivity, few resources — but also unique benefits.


8. Current Status — What are the major milestones you’ve hit that show that you are a contender — which products have been released? Who are your big clients? Partnerships? Make them see that they are missing out by not being on board yet.


9. Use Cases — This is a good place to showcase how some of your clients are using your product/solution. What was the situation before they found you? What solutions were they using (if any)? And now that they are using you, what are the results?


10. Testimonials — Piggybacking on this, now that they have these amazing results, what are they saying about you? Try to get permission from your biggest champions to quote them about how much they love you and why! (This can potentially be combined with the Use Cases)


11. Unique Selling Points — What truly sets you apart from your competition? What’s your secret sauce? What do you have that nobody else out there does? You don’t need to do a competitive analysis, just state why you are the best solution on the market today.


12. Team — This is the place to make them feel that they are in good, capable hands. The executive team should show know how and experience and also highlight the roles that are more customer success oriented.


13. Future Directions — Any exciting additional features or products in the pipeline that you intend to work on later? Maybe this is just the first step in a much bigger vision! Give them something to look forward to!


14. Moving Forward — Now that they’re interested, what do the next few weeks/months look like? What’s the roll out time? Which resources or headcount need to be involved?


15. Pricing Model — This is an optional slide — you can keep it in back up, show it or just put it in a proposal.

Keep Improving as You Glide to the Win!

Sealing the Deal

At the end of the meeting, the iron is hot — so strike! Try to elicit at least one solid action item — a follow up meeting, a request for proposal, a pilot date — anything that captures the momentum. You are 20X more likely to sell if you capitalize the moment than if you merely follow up. Don’t let the moment pass you by!

You can always improve upon the deck as you start selling and see any unforeseen objections they might bring up. Take note of these and find a way to work them into the deck as you go, before they even come up. That is of course unless it’s a super specific objection that’s relevant only to a specific customer. Practice easily answering these objection questions without getting defensive, and watch them melt away!

Another important point — consistency of message across your company is crucial! Especially as you grow, you want all Sales and Business functions within your organization to be telling the same story, have the same visual look and communicate the same vision — make them all part of the process! This should also be reflected on your website and company’s LinkedIn profile.

Hope this was helpful! I’m here if you have any further questions or need any more support! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any comments or questions. Good luck!

Scary Customer Service Stats (and What to Do About Them)

Top Customer Service Statistics

Every small business owner understands the importance of treating their customers well—after all, there’d be no business without them! A recent Invoca study shows that for small business owners, the phone is a critical touchpoint. After a negative phone experience,

  • 74% of people are likely to choose another business
  • 70% are likely to complain to friends and family
  • 30% are likely to leave a bad review

Yikes! The good news: a positive phone experience is likely to turn 80% of callers into repeat customers. So how can you create those positive experiences? Here are three ways to get started today.

Make every word count.

Depending on the situation, a phone call with a customer could last 30 minutes or 30 seconds. For briefer conversations especially, word choice matters. You may only have a few syllables to show your appreciation, so lay it on thick! Speak in a friendly, inviting tone, and aim to say “thank you” at least once. Even a quick answer-and-transfer is an opportunity to brighten a caller’s day by being warm and gracious. Can you remember a time when an upbeat exchange with a grocery clerk or a smile from a stranger snapped you out of a moment of gloom? Aim for that in every customer interaction, no matter how brief.

Create a phrasing playbook.

Your company’s telephone greeting is an important first impression, so take care to craft a good one and ensure anyone who answers the phone is on board. While you’re at it, gather your phone answering crew together and talk about ways to create a consistently positive experience for callers. Whether you have a dedicated receptionist or everyone on your team pitches in to greet customers when they call, you’ll want to ensure each caller gets the same (awesome) service, and a phrasing playbook can get you there. Draft a list of words or phrases to avoid, and brainstorm alternatives. For example, Ruby’s talented remote receptionists are encouraged to stay away from dead-end statements that include “I can’t” and “I don’t know” and swap them with helpful alternatives like “I’ll be happy to look into that” and “let me find out.” Bottom line: there’s typically always something you can do to assist a caller, even if it’s not exactly what they’re looking for, so focus their attention on your willingness to help.

Be ready for that ring.

What’s the most important element of a good phone call? An answer! If you’re letting calls roll over to voicemail during your business hours, there’s no doubt you’re missing the chance to connect with customers, and likely missing opportunities to win new business. Here’s something you don’t often hear: “Wow, I really liked that recorded message—I think I’m going to spend a lot of money with this company!” Customer relationships are built on real, meaningful connections, and without a real person to pick up the phone and make those connections when customers call, you’re bound to lose out on some opportunities. So when you and your team are on the clock, ensure someone capable (and ideally excited) is on phone duty. And if you find you need a hand, your friends at Ruby are here for you! 

 

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One Big Change that Will Set Your Business Apart

Showing Your Customers Love

When you look at leading companies in your industry, what do you see? Maybe they have more employees, or perhaps they’re working with a larger budget. If you’re just looking at the numbers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The easy solution? Look beyond the numbers! Keeping up with the pack and remaining a part of the conversation starts with one key focus: your customers.

The Golden Rule

Your customers are at the heart of your business. In fact, it’s likely that they’re the reason you went into business in the first place. And even if you’re confident that your product or service provides value in your customers’ lives, standing out in the crowd isn’t easy.

Get back to the basics. Rather than focusing on what others are doing, focus on your business. Start with taking an inventory of certain areas of your operations:

  • Look at your processes and procedures: Are operations running smoothly? Are products and services completed and delivered on time? Are they producing the results you promised?
  • Look at your people: Are they empowered to deliver exceptional service to your customers? Are your team members excited about coming to work every day? Are they doing what they say they’ll do? Do they feel personally connected to your mission?
  • Look at your products or services: Is there still a need for your products or services? Can you start taking steps to update, modernize, or improve the value you bring to your customers?
  • Look at your progress: What steps are you taking to achieve the goals stated above? Document them! It’s easy to forget the results of a campaign or the decisions made in one meeting when you’ve got so many balls in the air.

All of these questions are aimed at ensuring that you’re providing your customers with an amazing experience that is unique to your company. That’s one of Ruby Receptionists’ specialties — creating meaningful connections with their customers and responding in thoughtful, personalized ways, like one receptionist did when putting together a package for a customer with a case of food poisoning.

These small touches don’t take much extra effort, but they go a long way toward making you stand out. The more opportunities you find to personalize your service and give your customers an exceptional level of care and attention, the more you’ll be at the forefront of their minds.

Walk the Walk

Now that you’ve asked the right questions, it’s time to put your findings into practice. Try these tips to shift your focus from your competition to what you can do to engage your customers.

Create a Culture of Exceptional Customer Service

Exceptional customer service doesn’t always have to take the form of a gift. For a customer who’s had a less-than-great experience elsewhere, it’s more important to deliver the right product or service at the right time. The biggest thing to remember? Keep your word. At Ruby, this is called, “do what you say you’ll do.” Consistency is key when building customer trust and following through on your promises is table stakes for providing exceptional service.

Make Genuine Customer Connections

The first step to making genuine connections is opening yourself up for communication. Make sure you’re accessible on all the channels your customers are using. Are you an online business? Make your contact us page easy to understand, create profiles on popular social and professional platforms, and make sure you respond promptly to messages. Brick and mortar? Consider setting your hours based on the times your customers are available and may be looking to come in. Take a genuine interest in your customers and don’t be afraid to chat with them about topics outside of the traditional customer relationship. Remembering that a customer is a fan of a particular sports team can go a long way when they make the make playoffs and you send a note of congratulations.

Tirelessly Search for Ways to Add Further Value to Your Customers’ Lives

Once you’ve opened these avenues for communication, use them to take the customer experience to that next level. Create outstanding content that they can’t find anywhere else. Teach them something new. Take them behind the scenes. Entertain and engage them. You’ll become a resource for the information they crave, and they’ll keep coming back to see what you have to say.

If there’s one thing that will set your business apart, it’s the way you treat the people who keep your business in business. Anyone can provide a product or service but your special brand of customer care is uniquely you. Give them something they can’t get anywhere else and they’ll keep coming back for more.
Gabe Arnold

 

Gabe Arnold is the founder of Copywriter Today where you can get unlimited fresh content for all your marketing needs. If you want 250 free headline ideas for your next marketing campaign, use their free tool here.

 

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Use Your Words: Language for Delightful Customer Service at Every Touchpoint

This article was originally published on July 14, 2017 on Manta – Small business marketing solutions helping millions of businesses get found by more customers. Original article.

Approach every communication with your customers as an opportunity to spark a connection, gain their trust and earn their loyalty.

Are you paying attention to your touchpoints? They are, after all, the biggest opportunity you have to build trust with customers. From the receptionist answering your phone, to your email correspondence, to the décor in your office, each interaction presents a chance to either delight or disappoint. But how, exactly, can touchpoints be delightful?

Let’s start by looking at what it’s like to communicate with your business. What sort of experiences do you create? Is it charming and delightful, or drab and ho-hum? Your communications with customers come in many different forms, including:

  • The phone. Are calls answered quickly by a human voice? Is the voice on the other end of the phone friendly and helpful?
  • Your website. Is your website user-friendly and simple to navigate? Is all the information a customer would expect available and easy to find?
  • Are you opening with a friendly greeting? Summarizing what you hope to accomplish with the correspondence? Are you clearly stating what you may need from the recipient?
  • Using a friendly tone—yes, even in your invoices—goes a long way in creating a positive connection.

Every communication offers an opportunity to consistently spark a connection with your customers and gain their trust.

Why? Because your customers are human, of course! We all know that humans are emotional—especially when it comes to purchasing decisions—and language has a huge effect on human emotions. “We buy the sizzle, not the bacon,” after all.

That’s exactly why even the slightest word changes can have a drastic impact on your message, and as a result, your customers’ emotions. Think about some of these examples:

  • Cheap … or inexpensive?
  • Happy … or delighted?
  • Yes … or absolutely?
  • Colorful … or vibrant?

Technically you could use either word in the above examples interchangeably, but one option carries an emotional punch that the other just doesn’t have. Want more proof? Let’s take a look at some of these examples in action.

First, a standard apology email you might receive from any old customer service outfit:

Hello Sally,

Thank you for your inquiry. Our sincere apologies for the error made on your billing account. This error has been corrected and the $50 charge is no longer being billed to your account. This will show as a credit on your next invoice.

Please give us a call at 800-555-5555 if there’s anything else you need.

Sincerely,

Customer Service

Yawn! Sally may have gotten her problem solved, but I’m sure she’s not feeling any emotional connection to this company. How could she with that robotic, unfeeling language? Let’s spruce it up a bit:

Hi Sally,

Thank you for reaching out! I’m sorry there was an error made on your account. That’s a pretty embarrassing mistake on our end! The good news is that it’s been corrected, and you’ll have a $50 credit on your next invoice to show for it.

My apologies again for the error, Sally, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if I might be able to help with anything else. I’m here for you!

All the best,

Customer Service

You can feel the difference, right? The message is exactly the same in both emails—sorry about the error, I fixed it, let me know if I can do anything else—but one draws you in and makes you smile, while the other bores you to tears.

Let’s look at another example; this time, we’ll use a phone conversation. Tell me you haven’t had a few of these in your day:

  • Customer: Hi, this is Bob Smith and I’m calling to update my address.
  • Rep: I’d be happy to help. May I have your account number please?
    Customer: Sure, it’s 12345678.
  • Rep: Thank you. May I please have your new address?
    Customer: It’s 1234 Some Street.
  • Rep: Thank you. One moment.
    [Hold music]
  • Rep: OK sir, I’ve updated your account. Is there anything else I can help with today?

You’ll notice that the customer service rep was perfectly polite and didn’t do or say anything out of line, but boy was that tough to read! I’ll bet you’re thinking about some of your own very similar experiences right now, aren’t you?

When you reflect on that experience, does it make you feel particularly loyal to the company providing you that customer service? Probably not. But what if it looked more like this:

  • Customer: Hi, this is Bob Smith and I’m calling to update my address.
  • Rep: Hi Bob! I’d be delighted to help with that. I hope you’re loving your new place! May I start with your account number?
    Customer: I sure am, and it’s 12345678.
  • Rep: That’s great to hear, and thank you for the info. Now let’s get your address updated—where are your awesome new digs?
  • Customer: (chuckles) The awesome new digs are at 1234 Some Street.
  • Rep: Oh, that’s a great neighborhood! Congrats on the new place. I know moving can be a bit stressful, but rest assured that your new address is in our system and your account here is all set. Is there anything else I might be able to help with today?

Not only did the rep in the second example make the conversation more fun, he connected with the customer by using his name and tapping into his excitement about moving. This was an opportunity to forge a customer connection, and the rep nailed it!

Next time you’re tempted to send a boring old run-of-the-mill customer service email, or answer the phone in a no-nonsense tone, rethink it and look for opportunities to make a human connection. Every touchpoint—especially when it comes to your customers—is an opportunity to build a little trust and earn a little loyalty. You just might be surprised at the results!

The Most Important Step to Business Growth

The market is primed and ready for your new products and services. The possibilities are endless. The team is excited and ready to go. There’s no better time than the present to take the steps to scaling your small business.

What’s the secret to your success?

It’s pretty simple: people. Your customers, and the way you acquire and retain them, are the secret sauce for a successful business. Learn how to care for your prospective and current customers alike, and you’ll overcome the biggest barrier to scaling: finding the fans to support your growth.

Put People First: Focus on Current Customers

If you’re like most small business owners, you’re looking for a larger target audience. The wider the net, the more fish you’ll catch, right?

Truth be told, acquiring new customers is hard work. Studies have shown that the cost of acquisition is anywhere from three to seven times greater than the cost of retaining an existing customer. That’s why the first step is to take care of your current customers.

1. Build a relationship with your customers

When it comes to your current customer base, it’s wise to deepen the net. A tall customer base is made up of your faithful followers and friends; the people who know you, know your company, and know that you’re the go-to resource for purchases in your niche. These are the customers that come back to your business time and again. If you’re a car dealer, they are the ones that return to you for every vehicle purchase, while also recommending you to their family and friends.

Get to know them. Learn about customer likes and dislikes. Consider a brief survey, or take time to reach out and discover why they’re so loyal. As you grow, you’ll better understand their needs and how you can meet—and exceed—them.

2. Solve your customers’ problems

When customers are delighted, they’re likely to come back to your business again and again. Learn about their problems and challenges, ask them for honest feedback, and inquire about other problems they may be facing unrelated to your business.

Then, look for a solution. Whether it’s your product that solves their problem or you point your customers towards an existing solution, the support and care you’re showing your customers improves their lives. And customers will remember that. It builds loyalty in a way that feels authentic.

3. Add value to your customers’ lives

It’s not always about driving your customers to their next purchase. Don’t overlook the importance of utilizing digital resources.

I’m not talking about making a few posts on social media to sustain your growth. I’m talking about a coordinated content marketing plan that provides blog posts, emails, white papers, instructional videos and more, all with your customers’ lives in mind. Every resource, every communication, should be focused on your customers and their specific needs.

Some examples include:

  • Show how to tackle a challenge with a step-by-step instructional video
  • Create an email series that addresses issues your customers might be facing in their businesses
  • Present your customers with information on industry trends that they may find valuable

Content ideas are around every corner. Start with your conversations with your customers and address the topics they’re talking about, their concerns. This establishes your business as a valuable source of truth in their lives, keeping you top of mind when it’s time for their next purchase.

Widening the Net: Focus on Future Customers

Of course, holding on to customers is only half the battle. Focus #2 is attracting new customers. That’s when all of your research and work comes into play.

  • What have you learned about your current customers? Use that information to build a buyer persona. Who is your average customer? What does this person like? Where do you find this person? Apply the lessons you’ve learned from current customers to the customers you’re hoping to acquire.
  • You’ve already learned how to build and maintain a relationship with your current customers. Now, apply those same principles to your prospective customers. Open up several lines of communication and be responsive on each of your different platforms.
  • Give them great (and consistent) content that adds value to their lives. Unlike current customers who already have you at the forefront of their minds, prospective customers are just learning about your business. Give them content that informs and engages, and is highly shareable. As they start to see your name more and more often, you have a much greater chance of moving them along your funnel, converting them to faithful, paying customers and growing your business.

People are your business’ greatest asset. A fact which becomes crystal clear when remembering that the vast majority of Americans seek a personal recommendation when on the market for a new product or service.

Looking to grow your business? Make sure that your customers would recommend your company when the opportunity arises. Find new and innovative ways to connect with your current customers and add value to their lives. Apply the same concepts to your potential new customers, and you’ll create raving fans for life.

Gabe Arnold

 

Gabe Arnold is the founder of Copywriter Today where you can get unlimited fresh content for all your marketing needs. If you want 250 free headline ideas for your next marketing campaign, use their free tool here.

 

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How to Value Your Time as a Business Owner

This article was originally published on July 11, 2017 on Startups.co – The world’s largest startup platform, helping over 1 million startup companies. More from Startups.

I recently interviewed a millennial millionaire for my podcast and the idea of valuing your time as a business owner came up in the conversation.

My guest pointed out how one of the biggest mistakes he sees in the online business space is business owners undervaluing themselves both in pricing their services and valuing their time.

I myself have struggled with this in the past. I’ve also helped several of my business coaching clients start valuing their time more as well.

Signs That You’re Not Valuing Your Time as a Business Owner

There are several signs that can indicate that you’re not valuing your time as a business owner, however, the most obvious sign is that you’re overworked and underpaid.

But what exactly does overworked and underpaid looked like as it pertains to running a business? Here are some clues to help you out:

  • You’re still broke at the end of the month.
  • Clients are extremely demanding even if they aren’t paying you much.
  • You’re starting to resent your work.
  • You know that other people out there are making more money than you doing the same thing.
  • You have loose boundaries.
  • You say yes to everything and find that you’re spinning your wheels.
  • You’re doing everything yourself.

If you see yourself in any of these circumstances, then you’re probably not valuing your time as a business owner. While it may sting a little bit to realize you’re in this situation, there are things you can do to ensure that you do start valuing your time more.

Base Your Pricing on value, Not Hours Worked

Many freelancers and beginning business owners make the mistake of pricing their services based on an hourly fee. Even if they don’t tell the client this is what they are doing, they sometimes still use an hourly structure to come up with a package price.

One of my mentors helped me get out of this vicious cycle so that I would start valuing my time more. She said, “Base your pricing on value and impact, not hours worked.”

Because the reality is that if your business or service is providing major value or impact for your clients, then you can’t really quantify that by hours worked. So instead, you determine your pricing based on results.

This one tid-bit helped me completely rearrange my coaching structure and packaging. I’m already going to be earning more revenue from one coaching client this year than I did from all of my coaching clients in 2016. I also already have others waiting in the pipeline and price isn’t even an issue for them.

In other words, in order for you to starting valuing your time as a business owner, you actually need to forget about time and start charging people based on value, impact, and results.

Be More Mindful of What You Say “Yes” to

Another way to start valuing your time as a business owner is to become more mindful of what you say “yes” to.

At the beginning stages of a business, it’s appropriate to say “yes” to every opportunity, event and project that comes our way because we’re just starting out and need to get out there

However, there comes a time in which saying “yes” to everything has the negative effect of devaluing your time and earning less money.

The key is to determine when that time is and start becoming more mindful of what it is you agree to. Because when you start saying “no” to things that don’t make sense for your business, then you have more time for the things that do make sense for your business.

For example, I constantly get requests to be a guest on podcasts or offer free training as a part of a telesummit. There was a time in which saying “yes” to all of them made sense, however, now most of them either just get in the way or don’t give me enough ROI for my time.

So now whenever one of these requests comes in, I have to take the time to think about whether or not it makes sense instead of immediately jumping to a “yes.”

It may seem simple, but this one action can greatly improve the way you begin valuing your time as a business owner.

Start Delegating

The problem many business owners face when valuing their time is that they take on too much themselves.

They either feel like they have to do everything themselves because they have control issues, don’t want to spend the money to hire people to help them, or stills see themselves as a person with a skill instead of a business owner.

However, if you want to make it in business and learn to scale, there comes a time when every business owner needs to start delegating.

Again, this simply frees up their time so they can prioritize and focus on the important stuff that will actually lead to more money.

For example, at this stage in my business, nearly everything for my own blog is outsourced so that I can focus on creating content for existing clients, build systems and offerings to increase revenue, and take a sales training class which will help me make more money. Those are the only three things I’m focusing on in the present.

If whatever is being asked of me doesn’t fit with those three things, I’m either handing it off to someone else or I’m not doing it period.

Use Systems

Another way to start valuing your time as a business owner is to start using systems to scale. At this stage in the online business game, you can automate a lot in an effort to free up your time so you can focus on more important stuff.

For instance, the webinar I’m currently using to move people into booking a consultation with me is automated. It literally looks like I’m hosting a live webinar a few times a week thanks to software that helps me scale and automate. All the emails before and after said webinar are also automated.

Final Thoughts

Valuing your time as a business owner isn’t complicated. In fact, it’s easier than ever thanks to tools, systems, and experts that can help you scale your business. The rest is just a matter of mindset and deciding to start valuing your time.