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February 2022

Engagement = Content: Good for You and Your Audience

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written by: Christina R. Metcalf

Whether you are a business or a nonprofit, operating in the public sector or the private one, serving businesses and organizations or serving individuals, established in your sector or just starting out, running an empire or “lone wolfing” it, your audience wants to get to know you better.

In fact, they expect it.

So, what does that look like and how does that benefit you?

It depends on your ideal demographic, but most of the things we’ll cover in this article, will work for everyone. Good content creates loyal, engaged followers. In turn, a loyal audience (eventually) will create content for you. Best of all, that type of content, known as referral marketing or word of mouth marketing, is not only one of the strongest in converting new followers and creating an army of people willing to give you money, it is also free, minus the time it takes to nurture that type of follower.

Start with Social Media

Which social channel(s) you use depends on your target market or ideal audience. Assuming you know where your “people” are, the real difference in helping them connect to you is the content you share.

Before your audience begins generating content for you, you must first create, curate, and share valuable content. And…you need to put some personality behind it. Let them see who you are and what you stand for. Each share should be a glimpse into you and your organization.

All content should also educate, inspire, or entertain. Ask questions. Converse. Be interested in your audience. If this doesn’t come naturally for you, find someone to do it for you but make sure they have a firm understanding of your tone and personality before asking them to post.

Give Them Something to Do

Action is an important part of keeping your audience involved and talking about you. If they do something for you or with you once, they’re more likely to keep doing it. Find commonalities and use them to call your audience to action.

Before they buy or donate to you, you’ll want to engage them in several smaller actions. This will keep them in your social media feed, and you’ll become part of their internet habit. For instance, a nonprofit shelter may celebrate National Dog Day by asking the audience to share pictures of their rescue pups.

Build on User Content

Continuing on from the previous idea of asking people to do something for you (and the example of sharing the dog pics), you could go back to those image posters and target a few specific sharers to tell their story. Message them directly and ask to tell their story beyond their post. Feature that story on your website, in your newsletter, and/or on social media.

Most will be flattered and excited and they’ll likely share your post with their followers.

Invite Them to Become Part of the Team

This can take a lot of shapes from inviting them to work/volunteer for you, intern with you, refer friends, share your cause/product/service with their followers, participate in a physical challenge and post results, or wear your swag. There are hundreds of ways to invite them to be part of what you are doing. Many people will share their involvement online. This is yet another way their interaction with you will bring in more content.

Ask for What You Need and Personalize the Request

Your audience won’t know what you need if you don’t ask. And when you do, you should tell them why it’s important. For instance, if you need a review, tell them where it will benefit you most and explain why. “We need more Facebook love. Won’t you please review us so that your friends will know the best place to adopt dogs like <insert their dog’s name>?”

The personalized touch will get them thinking about how much that experience impacted them and how they can help their friends get the same. If they understand the value to you, to them, and to their group, they’ll likely do as requested.

Finally, when inviting them to become part of your team, be specific about what you’re looking for and what they’ll receive in return. This may be easier for a sexier brand, but you don’t have to have a large following for them to be loyal. Offer different ways to get closer to you and your mission and you’ll never have to worry about what you’ll post again. Your content hopper will be full of valuable, real, engaging content.

 

6 Ways to Use Promote Value in Your Product/Service

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Communicating Value to Your Customers: 6 Solid Ways

Written by: Christina R. Metcalf

This morning, the headline inflation is at a 40-year high hit me before my coffee did. If you’re like me, and millions of other businesses, you’re probably caught between the idea of raising your prices to cover the increase in your own costs and providing your loyal customers with good value.

It’s difficult these days. I see many business owners apologizing for raising prices, but it can’t be helped. You need to make a profit to remain in business, yet your customers are likely struggling too. That’s why now, more than ever, you need to communicate the value behind your products and services.

Here’s how:

Talk About What They’re Getting

When Little Caesars Pizza® recently raised their prices, they didn’t focus on the 11% price increase, nor did they justify the increase by marketing the message of how many years their price had remained the same (since they began in 1997). Instead, they focused on the message that their customers were now receiving 33% more pepperoni on their pizzas.

And who doesn’t want more pepperoni?

Focus on the Fear of Missing Out

Using the words “for a limited time” conveys value, even when it doesn’t mean cost savings. When you use that phrase, customers immediately think of a price reduction or offer that will only be around until it vanishes without warning.

You can use this language when you know a price increase is inevitable. Market your current offerings with the language “for a limited time” and then increase your price or run a special under that same language and then increase your pricing. You’re giving your customers one last opportunity to buy from you at a lower price.

Mention How They Can Save

This advice is specific to your business, services, and products but is there something additional that buying from you saves customers from purchasing? For instance, does your diet meal prep service save them money at the grocery store or keep them from spending money dining out? If so, try to estimate what that looks like. Put some numbers around it. Ask current customers what they save. What can your customers eliminate in their expenses by buying from you? Market those ideas.

Host Secret Sales

While it may be cost prohibitive to offer sales and discounts to everyone, why not offer flash sales to your newsletter subscribers or social media followers? You’ll drive more business in the short time you hold the sales, and you’ll make your loyal customers feel appreciated by offering them more for less.

Speaking of…

Let Them Know When to Buy

If you have loyal repeat customers, train your employees to offer savings tips to them. Give them a reason to return. For instance, if you run a products business where you get new selection of rotating stock in on Tuesday, for example, share that. People who love a good bargain will return again and again if they think they can get to the items first.

Use Pairings

If you need to increase prices, look for bundles you can create in your business to provide more value. What items or services can you combine to provide your customers with more? Most people don’t mind paying more if they feel like they’re getting more.

The good news is that most of your competition is doing the opposite. They’re raising prices and offering less such as smaller boxes, reduced quantity, etc.

If you’re like most business owners these days, you’re faced with the fact that increasing prices is inevitable. Even if it pains you to do so, your costs are increasing, and you likely must pass those along to your customers if you want to remain in business. If that’s the case, these ways to increase perceived value should help you both feel better about the necessity of doing so.

 

3 Creative Ways to Become Top of Mind

150 150 Lauren Finamore

 

Written by: Christina R. Metcalf

Do you want people to think about your business before all others? Of course, you do. The first step to patronizing your business is remembering it exists.

Imagine you have a free evening, and you want to go out to eat. It doesn’t matter how amazing the food is at the new place down the street; if it doesn’t pop into your mind, you won’t be going there.

The same is true of your potential customers. They need to think of you to spend money with you.

So how do you ensure you’re top of mind and that they will think about your business over the competition? You need to find a way to stand out and be memorable. A good product or service is the first step. Good customer service is also a solid choice. But to truly stand out you must do something slightly different.

Ways to Ensure Your Business Is Top of Mind

Events

Hosting an event at your business is a great way to help people remember you. It also provides an experience, and many individuals admit to enjoying them over physical purchases. When you host an event encourage people to share the occasion on social media for even greater reach.

There are several types of events that draw crowds:

  1. Sampling your offerings or services. You can host an event that is directly related to what you do. For instance, a restaurant may have an invitation-only, special tasting night to sample its new menu.
  2. Education event. You could also offer an evening out based around something that you sell. For instance, a yarn store may hold classes on how to knit.
  3. Block party. Celebrate your customers and potential customers by throwing a party outside your store. A patio furniture store held a parking lot party every weekend with a band and hot dogs. It drew a crowd and people lingered. It was a nice tie in with the product they sold—outdoor furniture. It helped people imagine hosting their own parties later with their new furniture.

A Facebook Group

Depending on the nature of your business, and the things your ideal customer/target audience may have in common, a Facebook group can connect your buyers to you and to one another. This idea works well when you can find a connection or mutual interest among your customers. For instance, a bookstore might create a Facebook group for writers or for fans of a specific genre. In a Facebook group you can share information and flash sales, stream events, and invite your audience to talk about their favorite books. The online community will keep your brand center stage while uniting and engaging your audience.

Savings Clubs/Subscriptions

Have you noticed that a lot of companies are charging their customers a monthly fee for some sort of discount or benefit? It began with Amazon Prime, where customers paid an annual fee for free shipping. The program has expanded beyond that now, but you can certainly start with one benefit like that.

Panera has created an unlimited coffee subscription where coffee lovers are auto-charged a fee each month and given a free cup of coffee daily. Both programs drive sales (and loyalty). When people pay for something, they want to get their money’s worth. Often, that means buying from one store over another because they’re part of a savings club.

However, like gift certificates, there may be people who pay every month and don’t use your services. That’s OK too as the subscription (even if it’s only a few dollars) is a source of revenue you did not have before.

If you want strong sales at your business, you need to ensure that your target market thinks about you. You can do that through email marketing, social media participation, or these three ideas. But whatever you do, make sure you use consistent branding and tone. After all, you want them to remember you, not question who you are.

5 Components of a Standout Job Description in 2022

150 150 Lauren Finamore

By: Christina R. Metcalf

The past two years have brought about a lot of change in business. But many companies haven’t reevaluated their job descriptions. Every time they have a position to fill, they search a hard drive (or folder) and post it. This won’t keep you competitive in the employment arena.

While there are basic elements you need in a job description like explaining what the job entails and the expectations, it’s the extras that will inspire people in this job hunter’s market to apply.

In addition to the basics, a great job description for 2022 includes:

  1. Consistent corporate/business tone and brand
  2. Logical keywords
  3. Location
  4. Hours
  5. New (soft) skills

Components of an Enticing Job Description

When creating a job description, it’s not a race. It should be a combination of good HR practices, marketing/corporate branding, and sales. After all, this is an advertisement for your business as much as it is an ad for employment. In 2022, you should ensure it:

Matches Your Corporate/business Tone and Brand

It’s all the rage to create fun and engaging titles with witty words, but if that is not a reflection of your true business culture, new employees will be disillusioned. Make sure your job description sounds like you. After all, you wouldn’t send a formal foil-embossed invitation to a pool party. Don’t use a job description that sounds like something you aren’t.

Includes Logical Keywords

Very few of your applicants are scrolling through an open jobs section like they might’ve twenty years ago. Instead, they are typing or using voice search on keywords to locate jobs that fit their qualifications. They’re also signing up for notifications on these keywords. While fun job titles are, well, fun, they leave something to be desired when people are searching for openings in their field. Save the fun titles for business cards or your website and use titles with meaningful keywords to help potential employees find you.

Specifies Location

Location, location, location. And that means being specific about remote work as well. There are some industries where candidates will assume the ability to work from home unless you say otherwise, or they may expect it is negotiable. Be specific about where they’ll work and whether that is consistent or flexible.

Includes Hours

Be specific about the hours your employee will work. Are weekends required? Can you guarantee a certain number of hours? Again, like location, some industries offer flex hours with floating starting times (for instance, between 7-9 AM). If the position allows someone to work when children are in school, that should be mentioned too as it is a nice selling point/perk.

Incorporates New Skills

If your job description is over three years old, you want to reevaluate it. There are skills required of today’s employees that weren’t expected even a short time ago and you want to make sure they are included. For instance, if the team works virtually, you may add something about working well in a virtual office environment. If your retail business now also requires e-commerce skills or social media, you’ll want to add those. If you have a diverse business culture you may want to add something about emotional intelligence and a diverse workplace. Look at how things have changed in your business and make sure the job duties and skills reflect those changes.

Finally, give some thought to also including information about salary. Sure, it’s likely based on experience, but you don’t want to waste anyone’s time wading through resumes or applications for people who would never consider your position for what it pays or are not at the right level of their career to apply. Including sensitive information like salary/pay may feel uncomfortable at first but it saves everyone time and effort. In today’s market, that’s greatly appreciated.

In conclusion, before uploading your job description to a job search website, consider how it reflects on the culture of your business and review the description with a 2022 vision. A lot has changed over the past two years and if you’re using the same old job description from five years ago, you may not get the type of applicants you want, or need, to be successful.