Musings, Mutterings, and Murdering Mayhem

It’s that time f the week again. Time to write another blog post. Time to get behind the keyboard and either entertain, enlighten, educate, or engage you, the reader, with another dose of content. And yet….

I don’t really want to. I’ve tried three times to pull blog posts off the old content editorial calendar and have failed. The cursor has been sitting there, mockingly blinking at me, for several hours. Time is running out. The pressure is mounting. The words, however, won’t flow.

Maybe it’s the poor night’s sleep I got last night, or the sinus headache I woke up with. Maybe it’s the fact that my son is home sick with the flu. Maybe it’s because I’ve simply got WAY too many things on my mind to focus on just one. Maybe it’s the fact that subconsciously, I’d rather NOT write about any one of those 20 odd topics on my calendar. Or, more likely, it’s all of the above, and then some.

I’m taking a chip off the block of Charles Bukowski, who said that writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all. For the moment, anyway, it’s working. Goodness knows none of my usual tricks worked. I’ve already tried:

  • reading
  • taking a walk
  • putting on my “writing tunes” playlist
  • play a game (I really like Einstein’s Riddles)
  • brainstorming ideas

And all to no avail. So, here we are, trying our best to produce something someone might get some use or knowledge from. Bear with me, as I unload my brain with some musings, a few mutterings, and maybe clear some of this middling mayhem from my mind so I can get back to doing what I do best – putting ideas into words and actions that make a difference.

Random Musings

  • Business seems to be enjoying an age of extremes. You are urged to hustle and grind – chastised if you aren’t working weekends and nights and holidays and existing on 4 hours of sleep a nights. OR you are lectured on balance – working to live, not living to work, having a business to maintain a lifestyle, not having business be your lifestyle. The “follow your passion” crowd keeps clanging on, while the “purposeful pursuit” people haven’t lost any ground, either. And then there’s the folks ramming full steam ahead with the latest tech and tactics. Meanwhile, there are those sermonizing on how all business woes would disappear with a return to “the good old ways” of fewer habiliments and more humans interacting.
  • Are there really any “necessities” when it comes to doing business? I know of local firms with no website or social media at all who are nearly run ragged with clients and customers. I know online firms with websites so poorly written and constructed you have to wonder how they attract any customers at all. And then you have those who do everything “right” and struggle to make a go of it. So, what IS really needed to succeed in business right now?
  • I belong to many groups in the world, both online and off. Women in business. Moms. Writers. Artists. Disabled. And combinations of all of those. How do I give back to all of those communities? Do my best for them, as I try to do my best to be one of them, and to represent them in my work and life? I realize that none of us are simple, unfaceted beings. We are all complex and difficult to define. It’s more difficult, however, when one or more of your “populations” are considered minorities, misunderstood, even often maligned. You want to do more, be more.

Mutterings

  • I’m more than a bit tired of newroo gurus with a weekend seminar or an online course under their belts passing themselves off as experts. They take a course, rehash the content, regurgitate it as their own course, and voila! Instant guru! It cheapens the industry, cheapens the real experts who have been diluted and ripped off, and cheapens the efforts of those who have fallen for their scams, believing they were doing something good for themselves.
  • The world seems to relish in ugliness right now. Divisiveness. Bigotry. Dismissiveness. Rudeness. Anger. I’m usually a peaceful, nice, polite, happy sort of person. Don’t bring your ugliness into my business. If you are wanting to use “ugly” in your marketing or advertising, go elsewhere. Please. I don’t want to help you peddle it, perpetuate it, or propagate it. My self esteem and soul of souls won’t let me.
  • So you found someone who will do what I do cheaper than I do it? Good. I’ve got clients who pay more than you are willing to pay, and gladly. Just remember, you get what you pay for….

Where to Go From Here

It seems that I’ve run out of things to chatter on about. I’m still not motivated to write on any of those editorial calendar topics. They can wait till another day. For now, the blinking cursor has been defeated and the mind a bit clear of the “stuff” blocking it. What can be learned from this?

1.) Even pros have “off” days when getting thoughts in order is harder than normal. Don’t beat yourself up when it happens to you.
2.) Letting people “in” is never a bad thing. It isn’t unprofessional or immature. We’re all humans. Let’s be kind and compassionate and caring for one another. The world will not fall apart if you drop the mask and be real. It’s a bit scary, but it’s also rewarding.
3.) Sometimes, plans fail. Things don’t go as they should. And yet….you can still salvage something out the ashes.
4.) Bad days can hide beauty, after all.

Till next time, Blooms. Wishing you days of warm sunshine, with just enough rain to feed your soul and make your leaves glisten.

What Are You Doing After?

It’s Valentine’s Day this week. Some call it a made-up holiday. Some look forward to it while others loathe it. My problem with Valentine’s Day is that true, real relationships take work. They require more than one day to make them last. Romance? Sure. Big gestures? You bet. But consistent follow through is what makes a relationship last. And the same can be said for your business. Follow-up marketing, follow-up contacts, that what’s makes a good business to client relationship last.

Follow-up by the numbers

There are some surprising statistics and cold hard facts when it comes to small businesses and follow up marketing. Let’s look at some of them:

  • 85 to 90% of ALL small businesses do NOT engage in follow-up marketing of ANY kind
  • 80% of those that DO follow-up marketing rely on a loyalty program of some sort as their ONLY follow-up system
  • It costs 5X MORE to MAKE a customer than it does to KEEP a customer
  • Follow-up sales typically account for 50% or more of a businesses income
  • Follow-up marketing efforts can increase sales by as much as 25%
  • Repeat customers spend 10X as much as they do on their first sale

It’s more than obvious that many, many small businesses could be doing MUCH better if they only engaged in follow-up marketing of some kind. (Other than a passive loyalty program. We’ll discuss those another day.)

Creating a Follow-up System

Follow-up marketing works best when it’s systemic. A system allows you to do it the same way, every time. A system allows you to somewhat put follow-up marketing on auto-pilot, making it easy for both you AND the customer to use. And a system allows you to concentrate on other areas of your business, knowing that your follow-up marketing is in place and doing its job.

You have three main avenues of follow-up available to you. You should create a system that uses at least two of the three for maximum results. Which three will more likely depend on the nature of your business than anything.

You’ve got direct mail, email, and phone conversations at your disposal. For retail, restaurants, entertainment, and other “hands off” businesses, direct mail and email would be the best choice. For consultants, medical, financial, and other “hands on” services, you can add phone calls to the mix if you like.

The key is to set a follow-up schedule – 5 days after purchase or initial contact, 2 weeks after first mailing, once a month emails – that both you and the customer can count on. It doesn’t really matter what time frame or schedule you choose. It just has to be consistent.

Next, you should mix up your follow-up contacts. If you start with an email, switch to a mailing, or a phone call, or a drop in meet-and-greet. Keep the follow-up contacts and their content varied. Even if all you choose to do is email follow-up, mix things up. Send an offer this time and valuable information the next, followed by a video the third time and a freebie of some sort the fourth. Constant messages of “buy my stuff” don’t form customer relationships. They make people unsubscribe, chuck your mailer in the bin, and add your number to the “block” list on their phones.

Follow-up is about relationships, not sales

Read that again. And one more time. Let it sink in. The purpose of follow-up “marketing” is to establish a relationship with the customer or prospect. Business, whether it’s B2B or B2C, is still H2H – human to human, and even more so in today’s impersonal digital world.

Follow-up efforts should not be all “buy my stuff”, traditional, sales pitch marketing. (That’s why passive loyalty programs are poor excuses for follow-up marketing programs.) Customers buy from those they like and trust. They buy from those who make them feel special. In a world of ever-increasing commodities, where everyone and anyone seems to offer the same things, businesses that can make the customer feel special, feel like one of the family and not just another dollar sign and open wallet, get the repeat sales.

Follow-up marketing should be focused on the people, not the profits. The profits will come, sure enough. It’s been proven over and over again. The relationship, the people, always come first.

So, is it wrong to ask for a buy in your follow-up marketing? No. In fact, you should always have a sale as your end goal. The trick is to get it without asking for it directly. That’s where the types of follow-up messages you choose are so important.

Follow-up marketing the right way

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making an offer in a follow-up message. Nothing at all. It just can’t be ALL that you do. You don’t propose at the end of that first date, and you sure don’t ask for a sale right on top of the first sale. What do you do? You nurture. You tell stories. You get to know the other person and their needs and wants better. And you let them get to know you. Dating, Valentine’s Day, follow-up marketing. They all kinda work the same way.

Valentine’s Day is the time for the big, grand romantic gesture. And there’s a place for those big, grand gestures in your follow-up marketing efforts, too. They can include special “valued customer” programs, events, or offers. They can be a time to make your customers – select customers, to be sure – feel even more special and valuable. Put on your best outfit, reserve the best table, go all out. Your customers will love you for it.

The right way to go about following up with prospects and customers is

  • Be consistent so they keep you top-of-mind
  • Be creative so they don’t get bored
  • Be valuable so they have a reason to stick around
  • Be personable so they feel they are more than just a sale
  • Be systematic so it’s easy and pleasant for your to keep at it

Follow-up marketing isn’t rocket science

Follow-up efforts don’t have to be complex or complicated. They don’t have to be expensive or expansive in nature. And they sure as heck don’t have to be difficult or unpleasant to carry out. Your customers probably aren’t that used to being treated as truly something special, so like the unnoticed, gangly wallflower at the dance, it usually doesn’t take much to win them to your side.

All you really have to do is try. Most of your competitors aren’t doing that much, so what have you got to lose? It could be a big gain in your profits. In your relationships. And in your love affair with both customer and your business