It’s a CRAZY noisy world.
We’re constantly bombarded with marketing. Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. YouTube.
If you’re a professional service provider dead-set on doing your best for your clients, it doesn’t seem fair that the biggest, loudest, flashiest voices get the “worm”. (You know, “the early bird gets the worm”).
Maybe you only have five seconds or less to capture your target audience online.
Or maybe not. Maybe that climb to the top will take T.I.M.E!
My take? Perhaps great marketing for quality service providers is a combination of the five-second rule AND the story of the tortoise and the hare.
If you’ve never heard this Aesop’s fable, here’s my five second version: It’s the ultimate practical joke in the Animal Kingdom. Everyone knows the outcome, right?
The race is set between the flashy, fast-talking, handsome Hare and a slow-moving, heavy Tortoise. BANG! They’re off.
Hare prances, dances for his audience, and zips off at lightning speed, leaving Tortoise to eat his dust. Once he’s far enough ahead, he decides to take a short snooze.
Tortoise crawls along lifting one cumbersome, heavy leg at a time. He never stops moving slowly but surely.
Along the way, he passes the sleeping Hare but does not pause until he crosses the finish line!
The Animal Kingdom gasps then raucously applauds, waking up Hare.
“Slow and steady wins the race.”
Ever heard that line before? I’ve repeated this hundreds of times as an educator, encouraging my students to persist, to keep climbing, to take one small step at a time.
Content marketing needs both elements — pizazz and persistence.
Why do I call it “persistence marketing”? Most content marketing is effective as a steady drip. You have to show up regularly to build confidence and trust. We’ve seen more than one shop in town end up closing due to irregular hours.
How will you add pizazz and persistence to your content marketing plans today?
I offer a free 30 minute content strategy session for new clients only where I look at your business online and discuss ways to improve your copy or content marketing. Julia, at your service! Call 443-362-8789.
Let’s start with a basic question. What is your business mission statement? If you’re reading this article and your bottom line is your biggest WHY for your business, read no farther.
It’s okay with me. This article is not for you. However, if happy, healthier clients are your focus (along with that necessary bottom line), then you’re in tune with patient-centered care.
According to this article in Catalyst (https://catalyst.nejm.org), how you make your clients feel is an important part of quality care.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) also lists patient-centered care as one of six markers of quality health care. In fact, all six goals could be summed up by saying, “Do your best for each client. ”
How many of us actually look forward to picking up the phone and calling a doctor, dentist, or other wellness provider? Ladies, how about getting the man in your life to schedule his own appointments? Is it like pulling teeth? Healthcare is a very emotional and personal experience for most clients.
While you as the wellness provider bear most of the responsibility for safe and effective care, your office staff will make or break patient-centered care with a tough-as-nails or a sour lemon approach.
Your “gatekeepers” should embody all that is wonderful about your wellness practice.
If you’re as healthy as a horse, you can’t understand your clients. You need to hire a secret “quality control” agent to discover how it feels for your new potential to phone or walk in the front door of your practice.
Don’t hire your best friend. Don’t even hire an acquaintance. Hire someone who has a sick loved one and experiences doctor’s offices ALL the time. Have them call your office at different times with “new patient” questions. Pick the busiest times. Here are a few suggestions — keeping it simple is great!
Why? I can’t give one good reason to use their services after I read their website. It’s such shame, because I know most businesses care about delivering a great quality service or product.
Fuzzy, unclear web copy is like getting the wrong prescription in your new glasses — you can’t see and those glasses will collect dust!
Your potential client wants to know ONE thing — what’s in it for me? Before you can answer their burning questions, you need to answer this question : WHO is your ideal potential client?
What do your current clients look like? Are they your ideal clients?
Small town? Big city?
Deep pockets or tight budget?
Most importantly, what are their specific needs or “pain points” that you can solve?
This is called creating your ideal client avatar. Flesh in as many juicy details as you can.
Young urban professional. Gen X, Y, Z or Millenial? Married? Kids? Home-owner or renter? Sports car or SUV owners? Both, hopefully!
Now hang this up in front of your eyeballs and talk out loud.
Write as you talk. This is time to put on your “Super Business-Person” cape. What would you love to tell your ideal client?
Here’s a brief sample of how this works for me:
My ideal client: a successful business owner or professional service firm/provider who already understands the importance of marketing content and is willing to pay accordingly. They have a budget set aside for marketing. Bing!
They want words that shine, client success stories, warm email marketing, regular blog posts, and web copy “makeovers”.
They let me talk to their clients for them, but will jump on the phone to tell me the latest and greatest about their business. They take pride in their work.
My ideal clients are successful and know they need to delegate their content marketing.
Writing about themselves is hard — sometimes painfully so.
Having an objective outside set of eyes and voice for their business brings much-needed clarity to their business voice.
It’s the power of brainstorming or a mini-mastermind session.
Finding time to create quality content is also painful for them.
Maximizing their time and business productivity is their Mount Everest. It’s a constant challenging climb to the peak!
When they get home, they want to leave work behind, take those weekend trips with family or friends, and let their content do the work while they play! (SUV owners for family trips, and sports car owners for fun, right?)
They “get” it. Words sell for them.
Get talking! Hone your core business message. Ask your fellow business friends: Do you understand clearly what I do?
Ask them about their business. Find out what makes them shine.In this process you may discover more about your own business.
Next, write like you talk. Write a paragraph. Shrink that paragraph into one short sentence that describes your business in a nutshell. This is your core business offer or message.
Do they state their core offer clearly? What do you offer that is different and unique from theirs?
I recently researched the eye doctor I’ve used for the past four years. The online reviews were dismal! I wasn’t surprised.
I asked questions of his staff. They don’t perform quality control checks on their newly-prescribed glasses. If their lab makes a mistake, no one cares unless the client complains.
When I called a local competitor, I was blown away by how much warmer and friendlier they are on the phone. I would switch eye doctors in a heartbeat if my insurance allowed based on this fact alone.
Maybe you’re small but super-helpful! Get some great client success stories online, pronto!
Make a list of all the search terms your competitors rank for. This is one way to find out what your ideal clients are looking for.
Be sure to include these key words in your online marketing content. Your clients can find you and your SEO will improve!
As you talk out loud, write things down. Look at your client avatar and talk.
Selling insurance, for example? Talk to the hard-working couple just making ends meet. How would their world crumble if either one was killed in an accident with no insurance to cover burial expenses let alone living expenses?
Provide a simple survey for your current clients. Ask them what problems sent them your way.
What are their biggest challenges?
Did your business provide the solutions they were looking for? If not, why?
This survey can be sent in email or as a simple form in your business office.
Some doctors’ offices are using an iPad or a touch screen at the checkout desk for their clients to provide feedback.
The fast food industry has been doing surveys on receipts for a while. It’s an effective information gathering tool.
Get your clients talking to you!
Even a small act of generosity can create connections with potential clients.
After all, our clients all share one thing in common — what’s in this for me?
Feel free to print and share this little guide, by the way!
If you’d rather just pay someone and get your business content written clearly and promptly, I’ll be happy to “talk” to your clients for you.
Everyone and their momma needs some good news. It’s a bad news world most every day. If you don’t tune it out you go around feeling like you drank a belly-ful of lemonade without any sweetener!
I’ve met and interacted with some of them on their blogs, LinkedIn pages, and Facebook pages. Guess what? I’ve even listened to their advice. And it works. In an impossible year, my business has moved slowly forward. The odds have definitely not been in my favor.
I want to share. I’m taking a page from their books. In fact, some of my friends have already been the, ahem, beneficiaries of my free, unsolicited advice. Sorry about that, guys! But you know that I care about you if I share my good news, right?
The best news is this: these business-builders share freely. Yes, they offer high end services. But they’re always giving away good, actionable advice for free. So I made a list of expert business-building mentors I think you should link up with and follow. Only buy what you can afford. Definitely glean from their wisdom.
In particular, four of these individuals have responded to me personally.
Where do they find the time? Ah, ask Michael Hyatt that question. I’m still working on my personal productivity levels. Work/life balance, too.
Obviously, these folks are not the only voices of business humanity. The human, personal touch is how many small businesses survive and, hello, THRIVE! If you shop local, you see this more often.
“If you want to be more successful, be more human in how you market to and engage with your target audience.” John Nemo
My private piano practice has survived and thrived in a very small town, because I’m “that fun, friendly” piano teacher.
I listen and communicate with a broad spectrum of people and age groups day after day, year after year — people just like your clients. We’re a bedroom community of Annapolis, D.C., and Baltimore. Literally all walks of life live here.
Most notably, I don’t verbally “bite” kids or wallop their knuckles when they miss a note. (Um, yes, I’ve heard the stories from parents who quit piano lessons for that very reason. Yikes! The “good old days”, anyone?) I listen to my student’s struggles and find ways to help them succeed, targeted help for their needs.
Listening and learning about your business is my top priority.
Your business content will receive the same loving care and warm communication that I give to all my clients. I’ll even write your email communications for you! Do I hear a sigh of relief?
Maybe you already have a well-established clientele. But what business doesn’t need to grow? LinkedIn can become a powerful networking and growth tool. Here’s why.
While Facebook is still a bigger pond with 800 million plus users, LinkedIn is very much a mega pool to fish from for helpful business connections. With a clearly defined professional profile, your ideal clients can also locate you. Since Microsoft acquired LinkedIn in 2016, it’s also bound to continue growing as a professional networking pool.
Generally they don’t post about their personal feelings or what they ate for lunch! If you join LinkedIn groups, you can learn about the latest business best practices. Or, you can share your business expertise on topics.
Let’s talk about Facebook for a minute. I avoided it for years, personally, because I saw all the online drama that people choose to post. Reading the comments sections of many news articles, and even personal posts will make your stomach turn.
Yuck! It can also easily become a major source of personal information gathering for friends or foes. Basically, unless you are super careful with your settings and the groups you participate in (which can change overnight from private to public), it’s a massive “people-stalking network.”
That being said, I’m not advocating ignoring Facebook advertising.
I just think a business will need to exercise greater caution to keep their noses clean on Facebook. Once I had to disable my comments on my business page because some troll decided to have fun on my page.
It’s certainly a platform for “people drama”. By the same token, I’ve done a great deal of profitable learning and connecting in Facebook business groups and forums. I’ve gotten more likes and shares on this platform thus far.
You can post relevant business articles. If you are a creative, you can post samples of your work in slideshare.
In short, you have a platform, a way to build credibilty, and a huge networking tool!
Seriously, the Alexa ratings for LinkedIn lists it as the 10th most popular website in the US. http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/linkedin.com.
Globally, LinkedIn rates 22nd as of the writing of this article. Either way, these statistics mean that it’s a massive search engine that can be used to showcase your successful products or services. It’s also a publicly traded company. #LNKD
Better than a comment section, your business profile can receive professional recommendations from those you have served well. Unlike Yelp, you have some control over what is posted there, too. A real name and face on these recommendations adds to your business credibility. This builds the “know, like, and trust” factor which is every marketer’s goal.
Professional practices and networking, huge pool of potential clients, and a way to be taken seriously in your market — have I convinced you yet? Let’s get your LinkedIn growing.
Be sure to put your best foot forward with a professional headshot, client-facing profile, and professional connections.
It did grab your attention, right? Now is the time to grab your favorite writing tool or dictation app and do a brain dump.
What went well for your business this year? What areas need some love? What specific steps can you take to improve your business this year? Goal-setting, anyone?
To help with this process, I’m highly recommending a free download from Michael Hyatt. You can get this by visiting http://www.bestyearever.me
The free ebook is called:
Achieve What Matters in 2017: 8 Strategies Super-Successful People Are Using Now to Accomplish More This Year.
I hope to reread this before 2017 begins. I have some huge goals this year. I may post a few of them just to hold my feet to the fire. Not today, though! This post is for you.
Everyone, every business needs a website! Just look around. Every handyman’s van, every delivery truck, every service vehicle almost without exception has a website listed on it. Just because you have one doesn’t mean it’s a good one, though.
Short sentences. White space. Uncluttered webpage. Not a huge bunch of ads and affiliate links.
Your massive list of credentials may be impressive. Ask yourself this question. Does it focus clearly on how you can help your client succeed with their business needs? If, so, good. It’s okay to state what you’re good at if it helps others. If not, cut it down to what matters most to your client.
Your web visitors need a clear nudge to try out your product or services. The digital marketplace is noisy and crowded. Your website needs to be warm, friendly, and inviting. You also need a compelling reason for them to click and try what you have to offer.
Folks are looking for social proof these days. Ever read Amazon reviews before you buy? Recently we tried out the auto maintenance services of a local shop because of the awesome reviews!
Make sure you highlight happy clients or character references on your website. Consider hiring someone to ghostwrite these so you don’t have a sloppy success story that fails to showcase your best business solutions!
If you sell a more complex product or service, an in-depth case study or success story complete with a professional interview by a writer will grab your client’s attention. Reviews are great, but a success story clearly focused on your business solution is even better.
This year I spoke to a highly frustrated business co-owner of a consulting service. Her partner had hired a marketing manager who wrote web copy that was full of errors and wildly disorganized.
I had to ask, what exactly is it that you do, after reading their website.
The same held true of the marketing materials and business emails being distributed. Their target market is highly skilled professionals! Epic business fail! This consultant firm was in serious need of a second set of eyes.
Maybe your website looks sharp. However, fresh web copy could boost your web traffic and SEO. Your content copywriter may even suggest a new marketing theme or strategy. Two pairs of eyes are better than one.
Oops! That is my business goal, too. Let the cat out of the bag, didn’t I?
Providing free, helpful information through a blog or an email newsletter is a great way for your target audience to get to know you.
The consistent “drip effect” is a proven marketing strategy.
Along the way you may find yourself reaping the kindness you have sowed by gaining new clients.
Offer a reward system for loyal customers. The small gifts are a surprisingly effective way of saying thank you. This could be an extra product or an extra service. Serve the extra five minutes, say, as the extra mile.
Take the heat gracefully. Mistakes and misunderstandings happen. Figure out a fair way to compensate your client. This is far less costly than “reverse referrals”.
Simply say the words “thank you for your business”. In a world of constant negativity, these words are a day-brightener when spoken warmly and sincerely.
Take a page from Chick-fil-a. Little things like, my pleasure, create a crowd of loyal fans.
Thank you for reading this, by the way.
Perhaps you already have a grateful fan club? Spotlight your happy client stories to breed a circle of gratitude!
Now that’s a smell that’s warm, spicy, and very attractive.
I know, really! It isn’t your ordinary business theme, is it?
Sunflowers rank high with me.
From one lone packet of seeds planted in 2007, I have had an ongoing crop of sunflowers. Every. Single. Year.
They grew and thrived in sandy soil many other plants could not endure. Optimistic persistence!
The year my husband’s beloved grandmother died, my sunflowers generously supplied a full, lush bouquet for her.
Their shining faces reminded us of the beautiful gift of life.
Sunflowers create warmth and connections with others. I cannot tell you how many blooms I have given away.
Sunflowers naturally dominate their whole landscape with great generosity and beauty.
Little creatures are fed.
Toxins are cleaned up.
From the Farmer’s Almanac (farmersalmanac.com, June 11th, 2012), Sherie Blumenthal states:
“The sunflower is one of many plants that are now known to aid in “phytoremediation,” a process that employs various types of plants to remove, transfer, stabilize, and/or destroy contaminants in the our soil, water and air. Compared to other cleanup methods, such as soil excavation or pumping polluted groundwater, phytoremediation has become a clean, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to reclaim and reuse land that has been tainted by poisonous chemicals and heavy metals.”
Business can be a highly toxic environment. Stress induced by a high-pressure atmosphere. Negativity. Poor economic performance. Chaos caused by disorganization. Terrible customer service.
Can your potential clients see what you have to offer in three seconds or less?
If not, you need a copy makeover!
Words with focus and clarity will grab your reader’s attention and keep them on your website. Great graphics help but powerful words win the day.
Maybe you just have ONE too many projects on your desk right now.
You need a copywriter who is timely and dependable — something my clients love about me!
Need to grow those client connections?
A weekly or monthly email communication builds relationships.
Whether you need original emails or would like to write the first draft yourself, I will be happy to help with the writing process.
Speaking of building relationships with your clients…
If your clients are over the moon about your products or services, let me ghostwrite their testimonials, success stories, and case studies. Happy client stories do the selling for you!