Monthly Archives :

March 2021

25 Marketing Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Today

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

Hope seems to be a big word these days. It’s taken the place of pivot. People are hopeful about recovery. People are hopeful about things returning to normal in the foreseeable future. And people are hopeful they can soon travel and visit loved ones they haven’t seen for a while.

If recovery is right around the corner, now is the ideal time to revisit your marketing strategy and plan. Making critical changes now can bring you into alignment to make the most of recovery. Plus, it’s possible the needs and desires of your target audience have changed.

Asking yourself the following questions about your business and marketing can help ensure that you have the data and information you need to make the most of the looming recovery.

1. Who is your ideal customer? Has it changed with COVID?
2. What is your marketing goal in 2021? What are your objectives/tactics for getting there? How will you measure success or how will you know when you’ve reached that goal?
3. What is your brand tone? Try this exercise: “We are ____ but not ____.” For example, we are informative but not boring.
4. What is your reputation in your industry and your community? What do people think of when they think of your brand/product/service?
5. Where is your target audience on social media (Facebook, Insta, etc.)? Are they still easily reached where you thought they were?
6. Are people still reading your blog?
7. What customer problem do you solve?
8. Do you sell through fear, inspiration, or solving a problem? Does that course of action still work for you?
9. What is the open rate on your newsletter? Has that changed with the pandemic?
10. Are you using a tracker that shows you where people are clicking on your website and/or newsletter? If yes, where are they clicking and where aren’t they clicking? What does that tell you about their needs?
11. Do you have an email list?
12. What data are you currently tracking and what are you doing with it?
13. What kind of content do your customers like best/have the most interaction with?
14. How many active followers do you have on each social media platform you participate on? How has that changed with COVID?
15. Do your customers enjoy a type of content you are not providing such as podcasts or videos?
16. What story are you telling?
17. How much does your average customer cost?
18. What are your customer retention strategies and how are you implementing them?
19. How has your product or service evolved over the past year? How has your marketing message changed? Does it need to?
20. What’s your call to action and does it fit where it is used? For instance, you don’t invite someone to buy when they’re just getting to know you on the About Us page of your website. Speaking of…
21. What are you doing to help people get to know, like, and trust you?
22. What part of your business is off-putting or scary for first-time buyers? What can you do to make it less so? For instance, gyms may be intimidating for the out-of-shape first timers. How can you reach them and be more inviting? A get-fit challenge is a solution to that because participants would know they’d be with other newbies.
23. Do you have a defined success metric for every campaign you implement?
24. In what area(s) is your competition falling short? In what areas are they strongest? How do you compare?
25. How many referrals (and/or reviews) are you getting? What vehicle/strategy are you using to get more?

These questions are easily answered but implementing the answers/solutions takes more planning. It’s a lot of work now but once you put it in, you’ll be glad you did.

4 Reasons To Get Involved with the Chamber Today

150 150 Pat Monacelli

By Christina R. Metcalf

Businesses join the chamber of commerce for several reasons. Years ago, it may have been expected; just something you did when you opened a business and wanted to be in good standing in the community.

But these days it’s more likely a business joins because there is a direct advantage to them personally. Maybe they wanted a ribbon cutting or need the advocacy or wanted a marketing opportunity that membership allowed them.

Yes, there are many reasons to join the chamber and tons of benefits your business can receive from membership. But aside from simply writing a check and receiving a set of benefits, there are reasons why you should become personally involved with the local chamber of commerce.

Plus, the chamber extends its benefits to all of your employees so you can use chamber membership benefits as employee benefits. Share this with them as well.

4 Reasons to Get Involved with the Chamber
Let’s place the advocacy, marketing, advertising, and public relations benefits of chamber membership on the back burner. This article is about what the chamber can do for you and your employees specifically, not the business. Yes, the chamber can bring more attention to your business, which can create more sales opportunities, but these benefits and this personal involvement are things that can help you outside of the business.

  • Education Opportunities
    The chamber has a number of education opportunities where you and your employees can learn about important matters for free (or at a very low cost). Chamber webinar topics may include things like diversity, how to excel in social media, and economic interests in your area. They can help you become a more well-rounded professional, change careers, or get up-to-date on important topics in the community.
  • Leadership Experience
    The chamber offers a lot of opportunities to volunteer for different committees or events. You may find a volunteer position in a subject that interests you like women leaders, diversity, workforce development, or marketing. Not only can these volunteer positions be added to your resume, but volunteering could also help you meet people with similar interests and help you grow your professional network. Speaking of…
  • Networking
    Getting involved with the chamber can help you meet more people and grow your professional network and make friendships. Even in communities where social gatherings are still mostly virtual, chambers have networking sessions to help you stay connected.
  • Business Expansion and Hidden Opportunities
    As you grow your network, you may learn of additional business possibilities that you could add to your business or you could use to launch a new one. You may learn of seed money, grants, SBA funding, or private opportunities. Often business deals get made before anything is formally published or requested. Being personally involved in the chamber may help you be a part of those types of discussions and make you aware of opportunities before they become public. The same may be true of the hidden job market. A contact may tell you they’re looking for someone before posting it on a job site, giving you the advantage.

Chamber benefits for your business are amazing. They can really help you increase your number of customers and get your name out there. But those aren’t the only benefits. If you get involved individually, there are many benefits to your professional growth and career. Plus, those benefits can be given to all of your employees too. That can be a real selling point for someone looking for a great company culture.

Three Things in Business That Aren’t Worth It

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

We only have so many hours in the day so the last thing you want to do is spend time doing things that aren’t worth the time. Being labeled as “not worth the time” doesn’t mean they are annoying to do. In fact, some of the things you’re doing in your business may be very enjoyable but aren’t worth the effort in that you don’t get the return out of the time you’re investing.

Every hour of your business day is valuable.

You want what you do to move you closer to your goals. But some things we do in the name of our business don’t have the same benefits of other things we could be doing with our time. As a businessperson you should always be performing a cost/benefit analysis.

3 Things in Business That Aren’t Worth It

The things in this list are items that are generally not worth your time, but you’ll need to do the analysis yourself before deciding whether you will continue to do these activities as part of your workday or sunset them for a more productive use of your time.

Spending Copious Amounts of Time on the Coolest “New” Social Media

Whether a social media site is worth spending time and interacting on depends largely on your audience. If your ideal customer is there and you can engage them, it’s worth it. If they’re not, it’s not.

There’s no reason to get on a social network so you can be an early adopter and wait for your ideal customer to get on the site. The only way this makes sense is when your audience looks to you to tell them what the next “cool” or techy thing is.

Spending Money on Free Things

Thanks to our giveaway economy, there are a lot of free options out there for things you use in your business every day. If you’re just starting out, there are items you absolutely should pay for. And then there are items (especially software) where a freemium item could work for you…at least until your needs grow. Using Google docs instead of Word is an example. This may seem like a small expense but every dollar you save on something you can get for free can go toward the items where your monetary investment is very important.

Staying up Late

Have you ever stayed up hours past your bedtime to finish a project? Sometimes it’s just what you have to do. However, sleep deprivation comes with a high price. You’ll likely sacrifice tomorrow’s productivity to meet your deadline today. It’s much better to chip away at the project bit by bit than it is to put it off until right before it is due and then work most of the night on it.

True, most adults don’t plan on this type of course of action. And it might feel like you have no choice but to do it at the last minute. However, unless this project was completely unexpected, each time you agree to do one thing over the other, you’re making a choice based on importance to you.

If you analyze both requirements on your time and you make a decision that one is more important than the other, and then defer the project until it becomes an urgent need, and a sleepless night, so be it. But don’t let someone else dictate that for you.

Set clear expectations. A customer who wants a timely answer doesn’t know what else you’re working on. Do your best to balance their needs and the needs of your business by letting them know when you will have an update for them. Then check back in even if you don’t have a resolution.

If you have a boss, or are otherwise not in charge of scheduling your own workload, and they give you an ASAP project clarify that it bumps everything else. Be clear about what projects are in jeopardy by doing that.

Being upfront about the demands on your time will help set expectations and minimize sleepless nights. If you fail to do this, you will be exhausted and turning in subpar work. No one wants to sacrifice sleep to make a deadline, only to turn something in that will need to be redone later. This doesn’t benefit anyone.

When it comes to your business, you need to make the most of your day. Avoiding these activities—and others that don’t provide good return on your time investment—is a solid business approach. Look for things that impact your productivity and weed them out of your schedule.

Business Matters Blog: 6 Signs of a Healthy Business

150 150 Pat Monacelli

 

By Christina R. Metcalf

Many of us have spent this year concerned over the health of our businesses or those in the community. Ultimately, a healthy business has a good balance sheet. It has more coming in than it does going out. But that is not the only indicator of business health.

In today’s world, where a quick decision from a politician can radically affect your business overnight, it’s important to know the early indicators of business peril. This of these things as your business’ “canary in the coal mine.”

6 Signs Your Business Is Healthy (before you see it on the books)

Before you see any issues in the balance sheet, you can spot a healthy business in these areas:

  1. Referrals. While it’s never easy to get people to refer you even when they love you, a healthy business harnesses the power of the referral and makes it easy for happy customers to bring in more happy customers.
  2. Reviews. Just like referrals, reviews are the signature of a healthy, well-loved business. But they don’t happen automatically. A healthy business asks for them, makes it easy to give them, and repurposes them in their marketing collateral.
  3. Promotes from within and trains accordingly. A healthy business promotes from within with clear pathways to additional challenges even when the business is small enough not to have additional levels to climb. It recognizes employees who are committed to the business, doing a great job, and those that require additional challenges or training.
  4. Looks for needs. If your business moves in another direction, opens a new market, or branches out, you may not be able to promote from within. A healthy business is clear about what each employee’s strengths are and what they may need to obtain from outside whether that be from an additional hire, vendor, or partner.
  5. Builds loyalty outside of sales. Loyalty is not owned by the sales department. Loyalty is built by customer service and marketing. A healthy company looks for ways to keep customers engaged and feeling like they are part of the brand. It creates enjoyable experiences for customers at each touchpoint whether they are calling to complain, buy, or simply spend time on social media.
  6. Remains agile. This one is certainly a lesson learned in 2020. A healthy business must be ready to align its offerings and services with those of their loyal customers and the larger market. Small businesses may not have had a lot of operating capital when the pandemic hit but they did retain the ability to move quickly and that helped a lot of them stay in the black.

Is your business healthy outside of the balance sheet? Go through this list and ask yourself how many of these qualities your business meets. If you’re missing a few, you may want to see how quickly you can add them. After all, they are a good indicator of business health long before you begin to see signs of trouble in the balance sheets or books.