Most professional small businesses rely on referrals, and usually don’t need much hand-holding when it comes to marketing your business and promotion.
In fact, recent surveys show that over fifty don’t even have a website. But that may soon change as we begin to see store shelves in strip malls empty–and leases on buildings being posted.
The shift in online purchases and experiences redefines the customer experience and the relationship businesses have with their clients.
With a greater emphasis being put by the customer on reviews and online comments in Facebook groups, Yelp, etc., businesses can no longer ignore the impact social media plays in their marketing.
Podcast #25 discusses a simple strategy we developed for professional firms and small business to use in addressing these new relationships in building local business.
Influencing the customer experience begins with this communication and continues as the business grows.
It’s this three-part strategy that advances credibility and trust to the next level for our clients as we tell their story.
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Marketing Your Business; A Simple 3-Part Strategy For Professionals. Podcast #25
Host: John D. Verlin
Another good afternoon, John Verlin with On Demand Advertising Solutions, with another Digital Marketing Update, podcast #25—we’ve hit a milestone in podcasts. I’ve hoped you’ve enjoyed listening to them.
Today, I’m going to jump right in to this. A couple of things happened this past week. And, by the way, today is the Fourth of July, I wanted to wish everyone a happy fourth! I decided to record this today. It’s a great day to do this earlier in the week. A little rainy where I’m at, but should clear off later for fireworks.
Today I want to talk about a simple three-part strategy for professionals to basically grow your business. Get referrals, thigs like that. It’s really, something every business typically grows from—in fact a recent survey showed that half of small businesses don’t even have a website.
So how are they existing? Well, referrals most likely. And you think about, how do you get them? Maybe it’s from a chamber meeting. A networking thing you have. Maybe you have a good network. An industry trade group. Maybe it’s church-related people and just word of mouth based on clients and customers.
And that’s great. But there’s a shift going on as I’ve talked about before in online purchases and experiences. Which are redefining the client and customer relationship. And the relationship a business has with it’s clients and customers.
And we know this because Amazon recently bought Whole Foods. My girlfriend was at a strip mall recently and noticed the buildings in the area that were leased. Some of the businesses she went into. Shelves were empty. Clothes from last winter were still there. And she told me it was like a ghost town.
She was kind of spooked, like what’s going on here? We talked about this and I said, well, hopefully we’re not preceding a recession. Six months in a row now they’ve announced that auto sales have been down.
But what is going on here? Is this the beginning of moving more retail online? But regardless if that’s happening, it’s addressing these new relationships in building a local business.
Because the consumer-client shift to online is re-defining the relationship. No where, when you first get a referral, where does that relationship begin? A new customer or client—where does that new communication begin?
Well, many times you meet them as I’ve mentioned before. But to realize this, to influence that communication after you meet them is critical for the growth of your business. Whether they buy now or you have them as a client five years from now. You still want them.
So what are you going to do between now and then to build that relationship? And that’s where this whole online relationship experience is moving to. Greater emphasis is being put on this by clients and customers, primarily because of reviews and online comments. From Facebook, on Facebook groups, maybe Yelp for local businesses.
We can no longer ignore the impact that social media is having for the market. I know first-hand, I’ve seen it from a client getting negative comments on Yelp and Facebook group—because of some venting. Some unhappy customers. And they were not even aware that it was going on.
They had kind of turned their back to it and suddenly it came to their attention. And that explained why some customers were leaving their business. It was the online thing going on. Communication between people, commenting about that business.
So this is, the consumer and the client and the customer have changed this. To the online research, commenting, reviews. All those kind of things.
So, a three part strategy we put together to advance your credibility and trust to the next level with new prospects and referrals where you can tell your story.
And that is, number one—doing a client survey is our first step, or a customer survey. We might glean from clients you currently have what’s important to them. (post note: I’ve recently received emails from Amazon and Walgreens to get a $50 gift card for taking a customer survey).
Recently, I was looking at a Nissan website. A Nissan national website for one of their cars. And I noticed in researching the car, that they were highlighting a lot of the new technology. Beeping when you go in the wrong lane. Slowing you down if you go too fast up ahead in front of somebody, or behind somebody.
And i’m thinking, wow, that’s pretty cool technology. When I read the reviews about what people thought about the car, a number of them may have mentioned the high tech stuff. But a number of them mentioned some things that weren’t even addressed on the website of the car company.
And that was, how comfortable the seats were and how smooth the ride was. So this kind of highlighted to me a lot of times the differences we have with our clients and customers. We think we know what they want, in many cases it’s the opposite. Or not even addressed.
I have witnessed that first-hand too with a client. Where the suvey we did that we put together for them for their customers, the answers came back just the opposite of what they thought they would be.
Now how does that happen? Well it’s marketing research. If you don’t believe me, look at what happened with Coke. When they introduced a new formula years ago, they thought, who knows how much they spent on research, they thought they were right and had a backlash.
People wanted the old flavor back. So, they switched. And that must have cost them a pretty penny. So, this is the first step, trying to get to know what your clients and customers want. It’s important so you can focus in on their needs.
Leading from that, the second part, is to create content addressing those needs. We do interview-style podcasts like this for a number of reasons, because of the number of platforms they can be placed on, because you can “feel” how people are to get to know them and feel like you know them because of those feelings and emotions involved in interview style podcasts.
You can also feature your clients and customers on them. And talk to them and they can promote that content as well. This is answering the content-related questions you have from your customers about your business or industry. And then as I mentioned, feature clients or customers on these as well.
This is the creating content part after we learn about what they want in answering their questions about your business.
And then, finally—promoting that content through social media. It can be done through a variety of means through a variety of platforms. Which is what we recommend and do.
To build that online experience and engagement with new prospects and new referrals. As a matter of fact, with Facebook Zuckerberg has already said that smartphones and TV screens will be gone.
He’s already projecting virtual reality and artificial intelligence are going to take over. Robotics and things like that.
So this three part strategy can work beautifully for professionals as well as small business. When I was in radio, we had a number of professional firms, from a couple of contractors who did great to financial service firms, we had a couple of medical related programs.
All of these work beautifully because they lend themselves to interviews. And interview-style podcasting.
Recently, a friend of mine who is the business manager for a couple of radio stations in Knoxville, TN told me that what they’re noticing is, when we talk about this online experience.
When we talk about podcasts for shows, their on air listeners start listening to podcasts—and their on-air listenership goes down. But their podcast audience increases.
When we talked about some of this strategy—he said you’re right on target, because he said we’re already seeing it on podcasts. The influence these new podcasts are having.
So doesn’t make sense, that if businesses ask this and recreate those answers in podcasts, doesn’t that make sense that you might engage referrals and prospects in an effective way, because that is shifting again to more online?
Would love to hear from you. Next week I’m going to be doing some prep work about some of these small businesses I’m reading about and what they’re doing, good or bad, to share with you about how to overcome changes in the economy, etc.
Have a great week!
All podcasts are recorded by Verlin Studios / Gardner, Kansas
Last week I talked about how to make your business or firm a rock star.
Now, my background actually…I grew up with the band, Shooting Star. It was a classic rock band in 1980.
They signed to Virgin Records, they were the first American band to sign to Virgin.
My brother was the bass player. I grew up with the lead guitar player, Van and his brother. We all grew up together as kids. They used to rehearse in our basement for several years.
I used to work with them in summers selling merchandise. So I’ve seen a little of the promotional side of what it takes to be a rock star.
I want to apply that analogy to your firm or business. Beause you can do the same thing today.
Everything you do as you probably know in business, you build. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. The same thing is true with those who become famous.
You look at the Beatles, it took them ten years of playing clubs in Hamburg and Liverpool to get honed in their craft. They got lucky. They actually had a producer who produced classical records. Not pop. He had a sound he created for them.
And Paul McCartney said several times there were songs that were terrible. Matter of fact, they had actually released several songs off of their first or second album on a different label, that bombed in the US.
And that’s why they didn’t want to come to America until they had a number one hit, because they ahd already experienced that failure. And then they cam out with I Wanna Hold Your Hand.
But as a rock star, you typically start out when you record a content piece—or a song. You get airplay, it’s promoted. Hopefully people will call in and request it. Other radio stations will pick it up. This is the process, tied into growing your business.
Airplay is shared, as other radio stations want to build listeners—they pick it up and play that music. People go into the stores and buy it. Word of that gets back to the radio stations and record label.
The demand picks up, the group then goes on tour. They start selling merchandise whthey’re on tour.
They even possibly win awards, going to number one, and now they’re becoming famous.
And then you repeat all of that. That’s kind of the process in a nutshell. Think about people in the past. They got famous. Elvis Presley comes to mind. He goes into the army. Gets out of the army two or three years later.
He’s worried and afraid that the fans have forgotten him. Because the Beatles had come on to the scene. He doesn’t know what to do. So the Colonel (Tom Parker), puts together the ’68 comeback special.
That could have bombed—and that would have been the last of Elvis. So you think about these people like Madonna, who have re-invented themselves. And they have to keep doing it. And one who I think is great is Paul McCartney.
Several months ago their was a Tweet, Paul McCartney seen in an airport in Orlando. Is he possibly going to be doing another world tour starting there? There’s a picture of Paul waving, a little video clip.
He’s constantly in the media. Just like the Kardashians. Somebody constantly creating content and promoting it. To keep their name front and center, otherwise they’ll end up like Bobby Vinton or whoever. You forget about them.
And this is the same thing in your business to make you a rock star. Jonathan Long had a piece in Entrepreneur last April that I’m going to some of his thoughts with you because it goes hand in hand with this, of what it takes to get promoted and get known on social media. And this is how to build your business.
He talks about becoming an industry thought leader. And this is where your blog is so important. The blog is your radio station. Businesses overlook this. They think it’s more of a diary. But the blog allows you to post podcasts, video, or written content so you become known for what you’re known for.
Now ideally, and this is ideally, you want another blogger or another online magazine to pick up that post and print it or run with it. Suddenly you now reaching a bigger audience and you’re becoming known as a thought leader in that industry.
Suddenly you start getting other publications picking it up and retweeting it or whatever. And it could possibly go viral because you’re getting a bigger audience.
People start coming in now and now you’ve got some numbers to talk about for the next thing you do. That’s the idea. But it’s hard. And you might even have a partnership where you pay them to feature you.
Years ago and they still call it product placement, you see a Coke bottle in a movie, well Coke paid a big price for that exposure.
So that’s the idea of being known for what you’re known for. And if you’re a rock band, what kind of band are you? Funk? Are you rhythm and blues? You’ve got to be known for what you’re known for. Shooting Star was classic rock. Midwestern classic rock to be precise. So you’ve got to have a genre.
You’ve got to fit into whatever that is. And your blog is your radio station. It allows you to put your content on there to be accessible. To your listeners or your prospects.
Another thing you can do is publish case studies and results. Case studies can be anything you’ve done with your business, successes you’ve had. This could be tied in to your customers, patients or clients.
Talking about how they’ve benefited from what you’ve done. It’s going to go hand in hand with a testimonial that we’ll get to in a minute.
It’s putting that information out and the results it yielded on your blog. Whether it’s in this type of format, a podcast or written. A chart, an infographic. A video testimonial. However you want to do it.
Prospects can go online with your blog and see what you’ve done. And those people that you’ve had in that case study are going to tell other people about the fact that they’re on your blog. Or your podcast or video.
And they’re going to refer that to other people they know. So now you’re getting second or third layers of people coming to your blog to learn about that because they know that person. And that’s a huge asset in terms of future referrals.
So you definitely want to do that. Feature a case study and have the results of that from working with a customer, a client, whomever.
Now, Mr. Long brings up a point—the third one and that is making your client list public.
I have mixed feelings about that because I know a lot of businesses have non-disclosure agreements. A lot of businesses that I know when I was in radio did not want people know what they were doing because they spend a lot of money.
But if you can get people, your customers or clients to be listed on your blog or your website. That helps people who are prospecting to decide if they should do business with you.
If nothing else, have business people who know you, commenting about your character, your professionalism, whatever that is.
Some people don’t want to give testimonials because they don’t want competitors to find out what they’re doing.
Ok, and then focus on your specialty. I know that lawyers have a certain area of practice, doctors may have a certain specialty. Focus on what you do best. Don’t get too broad.
You either make the best cheeseburgers in town. Three quarter pound. With sauerkraut, pickle, onion rings and it’s loaded. Or you just make a hamburger like everybody else.
You have to differentiate by having a specialty.
And then feature your clients or customers in your marketing. Again, this is about the best thing you can do is getting testimonials and then putting that on your blog, promoting those things.
Now that you’ve got your blog with content, and you’re becoming known for what you’re known for, you then promote it through social media or advertising or however you want to.
This is why all of this is so important to work together with hopefully a website you have. Because you’ve got to have the radio station to play the hit, or the music, to get the people to want it. To go in the store to buy it. To allow you to go on the road to become even bigger. Get written up and win awards.
And then you start it all over again. So that’s the analogy to the rock star thing. But it’s the same kind of process.
Content tied in to who you are, what you are. Getting known for that. Getting people referring it.
And this all ties in to future referrals.
This is how you can generate it and turbocharge it. By putting these things on your blog. And then promoting it.
Because of the platforms we have today as I mentioned earlier—you have the radio station, TV station, newspaper, everything to put content on and you can also promote it. Or have somebody do that.
It takes a lot of work. But this is all part of building referrals for the future and getting known. And become a rock star with your audience.
Now they see you and are wowed. You know, this business is really hot! And word will spread, not just the internet but word of mouth too. It all ties in.
And that’s how you can get your small business or firm to be known as a rock star. With the same types of promotion. Same types of elements that are involved. It’s a daily thing. You don’t just tweet out a little bit. You do it all the time.
You’re doing this on-going. That’s why they hire a publicist and promotion people when phones come out or new albums come out. It takes a lot of money and time to be consistent.
In this case today, because of these platforms, it’s much easier for a small business to do these things. But you have to commit to it.
These are the four things you can do to make your small business a rock star. I encourage you to start doing it and experimenting.
Check out my website literally you’ll see what I’m talking about. You’ll see the blog. You’ll see the podcasts you can listen to. And with podcasts, you can place them on other sites as well to get downloads from iTunes and Google Play.
You’ll get further exposure plus you can get video exposure on other sites like Youtube, and get that type of online exposure.