Broomfield Chamber of Commerce

Take the Friction Out of Doing Business With You

150 150 Pat Monacelli

By Christina R. Metcalf

Do you want more customers? Then you need to remove the friction behind doing business with you. Even if you have great customer service, support, and sales, you may have unknown friction that exists before you see the face of your customer. Luckily, you can smooth that out with content. Here are two problems you need to solve for to take the guesswork out of doing business with you.

Problem 1: You Don’t Know They’re Interested

There are several studies out there that will tell you anywhere from 40-76% of a buying decision is made before a potential customer visits your business in person. The average person performs virtual research on your website, review sites, social media, and a host of other places before they even consider doing business with you. They’re performing this same due diligence with your competition.

Content Solution: You want to identify the potential customer as soon as possible so you can start interacting with them. The easiest way to do this is through a downloadable lead generator. The lead generator must be something they need/want because they will be providing their email to receive it and will have to agree to receiving marketing messaging from you.

If you can nurture them (with additional valuable content) and help them get to know your business, you’re more likely to entice them into wanting to buy from you.

Problem 2: The Unknown

I have always wanted to do aerial yoga, but several things have stopped me. I don’t have the grace and strength of a gymnast and I’m closer to 50 than 40. I’m a warm lead for an aerial yoga studio because it’s something I’m interested in. But I could easily become a hot lead if someone could ensure a beginner like me won’t get laughed out of the studio.

It’s likely you have potential customers out there who feel the same. They may be interested in your offerings but there’s some hesitation. There’s something they’re worried about. Most people aren’t adventurous when it comes to spending money.

But this hesitation can easily be smoothed over with some content.

Content Solution:

  • Be honest about who your business serves. This is not a call to appeal to everyone. For instance, I don’t want to go to an aerial yoga studio that caters to 18-year-old Olympians. None of us will enjoy ourselves. You don’t want to give the impression your business or service is perfect for everyone, and everyone is welcome. While everyone may be welcome in a legal sense, there are some types of people who will love your business and others that won’t be a good fit. Don’t feel the need to cater to this latter group because if you do–and they don’t enjoy themselves—they may give your business a bad review. If your gym caters to ninja warriors, don’t market to couch potatoes.
  • Offer testers, trials, and other ways to try you out. Sometimes people need a freebie or deeply discounted opportunity to try out your offerings before they can commit to writing a check or handing over their money. Make sure that your trial or sample comes along with next steps and sets expectations for them if they choose to be a customer/client.
  • Go for feeling. It’s not (just) about what you’re selling. It’s about how people feel when buying from you. The experience is as important as the good or service. It’s also (often) the differentiator or unique selling proposition. For instance, many people felt good about buying from TOMs shoes because they donated a pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair sold. (It looks like these days they give 1/3 of proceeds to “grassroots good.”). People didn’t buy them because they were the most beautiful shoes, nor the cheapest. They made the purchase because it made them feel like they were doing something for someone else. But you don’t have to be super altruistic to encourage people to buy from you. However, you should provide them with some emotion or experience. “Squad shopping,” for instance, became popular during COVID. Many online merchants encouraged people to shop with their friends online giving them the experience of going to the mall together. This not only makes people feel good about your business but encourages more sales (hurray peer pressure!).

If you want to increase your sales, you need to remove the friction behind doing business with you. Thankfully, it’s easier than you think when you create content around addressing major concerns.

4 Email Marketing Ideas to Borrow from Big Brands

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

Have you ever watched a Super Bowl commercial and thought, “If I had a budget as big as that company I could make the best commercial.”? It’s easy to assume a large budget means a lot more possibilities and I won’t argue that.

Big brands can afford to hire the best and the brightest marketers out there. And that’s why you can learn a lot from them. But what they do isn’t always out of reach. In fact, there are many ways to copy what they do for very little (if any) money.

Email marketing, for instance, is a level playing field these days. It takes very little money to build an email list and begin nurturing customers and potential customers.

Here are a few ideas stolen from big brands that you can easily adopt in your business for stronger conversions.

Summary Emails
If you have an online community, blog, or other place where exciting things are occurring around your brand, you don’t want anyone to miss the action. But none of us are online all the time. Even those of us who spend a lot of time online may miss something due to busy days or algorithms that aren’t quite in tune with what we deem important.

That’s why sending a periodic summary email of top discussions, important Q&As, or hot happenings can go a long way in engaging your audience. Keep the emails brief with headlines, 1–2-line teasers, and links back to the action.

Use your marketing software to keep track of what links are clicked and what information is important to whom. It can help you better customize future emails and create more content that your audience is interested in.

Customize Your Message
If you send emails to a lot of people, don’t send the same one to everyone unless everyone on your list is interested in the same thing. Look at your data and customize a message for targeted groups within your larger group. This type of targeting makes people feel like you know exactly what they need, and they will be more prone to act on your suggestions in the future. For instance, I live in Florida, and I recently received a weekly flyer email from Walgreens. Because I live in one of the COVID hotspots right now, Walgreens placed a red banner at the top of my sales flyer email reminding me that my area is experiencing “high COVID 19 rates” and it invited me to schedule a COVID test today.

Use More Effective Buttons
If you use buttons in your email, give some thought to the language you use on them. What is it you want the button clicker to do? What will motivate them to action?

“Learn more” is probably one of the most common phrases used, and because of this, it is no longer as effective at driving action. If you have someone who’s dying to know more, they will click the button. But if you have someone who’s not quite curious yet “learn more” isn’t going to persuade them to do anything.

A recent email I received from Mindvalley used the button “I want better health habits.” This is effective for several reasons. It focuses on my needs and desires. And it flips a switch in my mind that I am already on a path to my end goal. It causes my brain to think “Mindvalley helped me” before I even clicked on the button to learn more about their resources.

 

Get Into Your Customer’s Mind
Thinking about what your customers are doing in their lives and wrapping your marketing message around that can be an incredible way to increase conversions and sales.

For example, what do people often do in the summer? They go on vacation. How do they get there? Many people drive. Summer is synonymous with road trips.

Chick-fil-a used this idea in a recent email I received from them. The email reminded me that their nuggets are the perfect addition to my summer road trip and the email invited me to find a nearby location to place my order. The button directed me right to their app so I could find a restaurant and place my order.

Chick-fil-a also sends me emails right before lunch (and at the time most people are on their way home from work) reminding me how good their chicken would be for my next meal. Anticipating my needs catapults them to (my) top of mind, making me more likely to buy.

You don’t need a large budget to succeed in email marketing, but you can learn a lot from those who do.

Five Types of Effective Storytelling for your Business

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

Do you watch America’s Got Talent? Or how about American Idol? The Olympics? The MLB All-star Game?

These competitions all have something in common.

They tell stories. If you watch them, none of them are solid, hours upon hours of broadcasted competition. Mixed in with commercials and the performances, the producers choose to interlace storytelling because it’s relatable. It draws people in. Storytelling can take a good performance and turn it into something we think about for the rest of the day.

You can do this for your business too. You can turn an average experience into something amazing when your audience knows where you are coming from with storytelling.

Telling your business story is not (just) about how you started and where you came from, nor should it always be about how awesome you are (highlight how you help people and how awesome they are. Check out Modelo beer commercials for a good example of this.).

Effective business storytelling keeps telling stories throughout your content, so you’ll need more than one story to keep people interested.

Here are a few ideas to add to your content. Keep in mind business storytelling should never be fiction. If you haven’t experienced the type of stories listed below, skip over them. You don’t want to tell your audience something that isn’t true for the sake of crafting a moving story.

5 Types of Effective Storytelling for Your Business

The Underdog
Americans love an underdog, a come from behind triumph. Whether it’s David and Goliath or the story of the tortoise and the hare, we want to believe that with hard work and dedication you can beat the odds. Share how you have overcome a huge hurtle to be the success you are now.

The Heartbreak
We all face heartbreak. Sometimes it’s in the form of a lost love or the death of someone close. How did that heartbreak motivate you in your business? Maybe your grandparent passed away and left you money to start a business because they believed in you. Or maybe you realized your gift after the death of a loved one forced you in that direction to support your family like writer Mary Higgins Clark did.

Whatever your heartbreak was that motivated you, people identify with heartbreak and are inspired by picking up after it and rebuilding a life. You never know who needs to hear that message.

The Setback
What setback have you undergone in business? Did you have to close during the pandemic? Did you sell something like your home to open a second location? What gamble did you take in business that paid off? Or what gamble did you take that didn’t pay off, but you learned from it?

People love to know that success is not a linear path. To hear of the ups and downs is encouraging and inspirational. It helps people identify with you. Everyone assumes an overnight success but it’s nice to know when it isn’t.

The Magic Lucky Break
What happened in your life to give you the big break? Maybe you got to where you were because you hung in there but maybe there was also some magical luck that propelled you to success.

Maybe you were behind everyone else only to become top of the world later on? Even Tom Brady only got a chance to start in high school because his team’s #1 quarterback decided he no longer loved the game moving Tom up a spot. Imagine if that had never happened.

There’s no shame in admitting you got lucky because you were there. After all, you had to hang in there first before the luck could find you. That can be very inspiring for those still waiting for their break.

The Unexpected Path
There are certain paths that are accepted as the norm. For instance, a Joint Chief of Staff attending and graduating with high honors from West Point or someone attending Julliard and becoming a famous actor on Broadway.

What is not expected is a single mom living in a car writing a book that gets rejected from 12 different publishers before getting published, and going on to become the second-highest paid author and one of the wealthiest self-made women in the world.

What path to your life was unexpected? What did you do against the grain? Were you like All-star baseball player Cedric Mullins who sat on a bench most of high school and didn’t start until his senior year?

The interest is in the details. Tell your audience how you got there. Share the frustrations and the heartbreak. Try to give them the inspiration the world so needs right now.

Your story isn’t over. Keep telling it and your audience will listen.

Need Employees? Use Social Media

150 150 Pat Monacelli

By Christina R. Metcalf

For a while, marketers have been telling people how to build relationships with potential customers on social media. They’ve shown them how to nurture a potential customer through the sales cycle to make a buying decision.

And that’s what businesses have been focused on.

But your social networks need to be doing double duty now.

Yes, attracting new customers is important but there’s another great need right now—employees. You need to attract people to work with you and retain those you currently have.

Social media is an incredibly strong way to do this.

Consider the following types of posts to help you be seen as an employer of choice.

Social Media for Hiring and Retention
When it comes to writing posts to get people to work with you, you want to construct a story around what it’s like to work at your business. Keep in mind that every post should inspire, educate, or entertain while sharing interesting parts of your story.

1. A day in the life. Take a fun photo and tell a story about what you’re doing. If you can show how you are helping someone else live their best life, even better. That sort of post is contagious.
2. Showcase what your business does. That doesn’t mean that you post “we sell widgets.” Talk about how what you do helps others do something even more amazing. For instance, if you sell natural soaps talk about how you help people discover their beauty without all the harsh chemicals. That way they can feel as good about your products as they do about their exercise routines.
3. Compliment others. No one said your posts had to be about you. Sometimes telling others how amazing you think another business or person is can go a long way to making people feel good about your business.
4. Showcase your employees and why you are lucky to have them. Not only do people enjoy getting to know who you have working for you, this type of “bragging” about your awesome employees shows you are a good person to work for.
5. Slide in some perks. If you have cool perks at your job, find a way to post about them. Show your snack cart. Create a TikTok around a parody involving your business day. Use some creativity to showcase why someone would want to work for you.
6. Use hashtags. Use hashtags for areas and the types of jobs you’re hiring for.
7. Illustrate your unique culture. Take pictures and post about your unique culture. People will want to be a part of it.
8. Participate in conversation on places that matter. There are tons of Facebook groups and other places where people are talking on social media. Join in on the conversations and help people. Some will check out where you’re from and they’ll see your company. A community groups is also a good place to post that you’re hiring. But you’ll be more successful attracting a crowd if they already know you when you post.
9. Invite employees to post about you too. Give them the parameters of what you want them to address and the hashtags you want them to use. Then encourage them to spread your message.
10. Retweet or reshare what others are saying about you. Make image quotes out of reviews. Reply to people who talk about you. Others will see you’re involved in social media and responding. Check out GlassDoor and see what employees have said. Share that, if appropriate.

Social media is a wonderful way to get attention from a recruiting perspective. It helps you stand out and entices people to want to work for you. Remember these days retention and recruiting on social media are just as important as bringing in new customers.

Free (or Nearly Free) Training for Your Employees

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

Brownie Wise (the saleswoman behind the success of Tupperware) said, “If you want to build a business, build the people.” This is incredibly important but now more than ever. With the hiring shortage going on, you must do something to make your business stand out and helping potential employees understand they can have a career with you (or at least feel valued while they are there) can be the difference between going with you or deciding to work elsewhere.

But how do you “build the people”? Training can be costly and who has the time or money for that? Believe it or not, there are a lot of free resources out there. Here are just a few:

7 Avenues for Free (or almost free) Training for Employees

To the best of our knowledge, each of these options is free. However, there may be a minimal cost with some specialized trainings.

If you want to check out a subscription course offering, there’s LinkedIn Learning. After your free month trial, there’s a $19.95 per month fee for unlimited access to their courses. Courses include advanced work on popular software like Office and Google as well as technical things like learning coding languages such as Python.

Assuming you want free (or nearly so), here’s a great list of options:

The Broomfield Chamber 
If you belong to the Broomfield Chamber, your member benefits extend to your employees. The chamber offers webinars, educational seminars, meet and greets, and lunch and learns. You can (and should) encourage your employees to attend these free or very low-cost ways to learn and get to know others in the community.

SBA and other Business Groups
The Small Business Association and other local business groups offer free training periodically. Sign up for their newsletters or check out their website to see what webinars are available. SBA also has free business counseling for you if you’re a small business owner. You can also check out the North Metro Denver Small Business Development Center.

YouTube
You may assume that the courses on YouTube would be conducted by fame-seeking teenagers but that’s simply not the case. There are a lot of good resources available on this channel. You could create a playlist of videos and share it with your marketing team/person, for instance.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
You probably knew by now that MIT offers free online classes but what you may not have realized is that it’s not all science related. They have plenty of business courses too. Check out the ones on entrepreneurship.

University of California has some solid offerings as well. Also, check out Open University for even more.

TedTalks
You might be surprised the kind of things you can learn in a TedTalk. While they may not teach direct skills, they teach ways to think and reframe problems that can be advantageous in a lot of roles. Your employees may also learn stronger empathy through watching a few of these.

Niche Sources
Make a list of what you’d like your employees to learn and then set them free to find no-cost instruction. For instance, there’s a course on supply chain management, corporate finance, and digital marketing. Some even come with certifications.

Ahrefs Academy
Lots of great courses here including SEO for Beginners (who couldn’t use that?) and several marketing courses. Good information that every business can use.

There are plenty of free training options out there for your staff. The difficulty is in giving them the time for professional development. Offering the courses won’t do you any good if they don’t take them, so make sure you communicate that this is an important part of your business. Your best employees will appreciate the challenge and the additional training. And best of all, it won’t cost you a thing!