A few years ago I was in a really bad way. Severe illness had decimated my health and career. A disastrous relationship had gutted me emotionally. My life had gone up in flames (literally, my ex set the house on fire). I was living in my mum’s box room, flat broke, in tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt, and utterly devoid of hope.
Starting my own business was a revelation for me. Working on my terms, to my timetable. I could focus on what I love (writing), earn a living, and still have time to work on my health.
Entrepreneurship was a gift from the gods, truly, but it wasn’t half a lot of work…
How I Escaped The Eternal Hamster Wheel…
For the first couple of years I did okay. I paid down my debt. Everything ticked over. But I was nowhere near the income level needed to bust me out of the rut in which I was myred. I craved independence, freedom, an escape from the eternal hamster wheel of marketing (not to mention my mother’s box room). I’d done all the courses, watched all the vlogs, read all the blogs; I’d devoured everything I could find on digital marketing but something wasn’t quite clicking.
It was kind of working.
I had clients, money was coming in, I was steadily raising my profile, it just wasn’t enough…
Enter Angie Taffs: The Woman Who Changed My Business (And Life)…
Hustling my butt off for a couple of years had one tangible benefit: I had a lot of friends and contacts in the entrepreneurial world. One of those was Angie. I was a member of her Facebook group, and had been following her for a while, so when a webinar she was running popped up in my newsfeed, I jumped right on it.
Little did I know…
Angie’s webinar was a revelation. She shared one fairly simple tip for managing clients and it transformed my business. I honestly wouldn’t have believed how powerful it was until it actually happened.
The premise is really simple: give people a free sample of what you can do; leave them craving more.
Not a freebie, or a download, a cheat sheet, or a blog/vlog, an actual sample of your paid products or services.
I baulked at this to begin with. Badly. I’m a copywriter. Offering a free sample of my work meant a lot of work for me. Writing a whole blog post, in fact. But Angie’s explanation made a great deal of sense, and while I was going great guns building my tribe, I was really struggling to convert them.
Educating them on the benefits of hiring a copywriter to produce regular, awesome content was easy enough. Getting them to take that final leap was considerably harder.
Hiring a freelancer is scary.
What if they’re a bad fit? What if they can’t really write? What if they take your money and don’t deliver? What if, what if, what if…
Allaying Their Fears And Showing My Chops…
Much as it made me flinch, I had faith. I began offering a free blog post. No strings, no catch. An actual, bonafide, free version of a service that would usually set you back (at that time) £25.
This did two things: allayed my tribe’s fears and concerns about making that final leap; and allowed me to really show my writing chops. It’s one thing to say you’re a great copywriter, it’s quite another to hand over a shining, polished, perfect example of exactly what you can do for a person’s business, complete with all the bells and whistles (in my case, royalty free images, memes, and a week’s worth of Tweets…yes, still for free!).
The Results Of Angie’s One Super Powerful Trick…
The response was phenomenal.
In marketing, a 2% conversion rate is reasonably good. 5% is good. 10% is epic. Anything above 10% is magical wildfire of supernatural origin.
The free post I instigated using Angie’s method has…wait for it… a 75% conversion rate.
Yes, it’s a lot of work writing them, but it’s so worth it!
Here’s How You (More Than) Double Your Income…
You want serious numbers? I analysed the conversions on my free blog post, here’s what I found…
- Three out of four people who sign up for a free post become paying clients.
- Of those clients, one in three spend an average of £35 on a one-off service.
- One in three spend an average of £300 on either a one off service bundle, or repeat business in lower-ticket items.
- One in three spend an average of £3,500 on monthly blog packages (and that’s just how much they had spent in December 2016 – most are still monthly clients, so that figure gets higher every month!).
- One in three of these new clients recommend me to a friend, who sign up for their own free post, or simply buy a service outright, to the tune of £500 a piece (again, on average, again, growing each month!).
- The financial reward I receive is over £1,000 per free blog post I write (including those that don’t convert) and growing monthly.
The Bottom Line…
Since I started running this offer, my business has thrived. I soon had a gaggle of clients. I put my prices up, expecting to lose a fair few. I didn’t lose any. I kept on hustling, and before the year was out I was debt free, and living in a house of my own. I invested more in the tech needed to action Angie’s epic system, and experienced another big boom in my income.
I had more clients than I could handle.
After rebranding and refocusing entirely on copywriting, I put my prices up again.
The free posts I offer are now worth £55 a piece, and they are still available for free to all new clients. I’ve not done the maths on the offer since the end of 2016, but I can tell you that my monthly income has more than doubled since then. Angie’s offer isn’t the only thing affecting that; I launched a new vlog in January that had a massive impact. But content marketing can only get you so far. It builds you tribe, it grows your list, but you still need that ineffable magic charm that converts your audience into paying clients.
That gives them the final shove.
Of all the coaches I’ve worked with, watched, read and listened to, Angie is the only one who showed me exactly how to do this. For that reason alone, I refer to her as The Woman Who Changed My Business.
But she didn’t just change my business, she also transformed my life.
If you want your business to be the mechanism that enables you to live a happy, fulfilling life of freedom, doing what you love best, this girl can show you how…
Thanks, Angie, you’re an absolute superstar!
Many thanks to Hazel Butler from The Write Copy Girl for this wonderful guest post. Having feedback like this fills me with joy and makes all my work worthwhile.
It’s all very well using SEO and sales funnels to drive people to your website, but what is the point if once they get there, they don’t take any action?
Not a lot really.
So many small businesses market their websites to the nth degree but fail to look at their site from a viewer’s point of view as to what message it gives and how easy it is to navigate. I have found this recently with far too many websites that I have looked at. I have been intrigued by marketing messages and followed links to sites where I have been left confused and disappointed. I can’t find the information I was expecting, links didn’t work and my interest (and trust) was rapidly lost.
If you aren’t getting the results you want from your website, check out the following points. And then get someone else to check it out for you also as a visitor. Too often we know what we are looking for with our sites and so miss the blindingly obvious (been there, done that and got the tee-shirt!)
What you do
Is it clear exactly what your business does as soon as people come to your site? It’s amazing how many sites fail to get this point effectively.
And, as a simple rule I would suggest:
- Pre-head: What problem do your ideal clients have
- Headline: How can you solve this – what big promise are you giving them
- Sub-head: Why are you different, better and easier than whatever else they’ve tried. Include here a reason for them to believe you such as a strong testimonial.
Get your core information in the fold of the website home page (the top part of the page that people see first without having to scroll down.
Make it easy for people to be able to contact you. Don’t let readers have to search around for some tiny link that can be easily missed. Make your contact details such as email and phone number prominent and obvious. It can also be worth letting viewers how long it will take for you to respond or when your working hours are.
Up to date information
So often sites have links to information that is years out of date. This is simply lazy. Either update the information or get rid of it. If you don’t, you run the danger of visitors wondering if you are still actively in business or whether you have lost heart.
Look at the following when checking to links leading to information:
- Blog posts
- Latest news
- Social media links – So often I come across links to social media pages that haven’t had a post on them for years upon years. Either update your social media channel with relevant info or remove the link – it’s one of my top bug bears!!!!
- Offers – if an offer has expired, remove it!!! You don’t want to get a viewer all excited about something you are offering only for them to discover it isn’t available anymore.
Don’t overload your home page with so much information that people get lost and confused and don’t where to go first. Speak to your ideal and their problem. Lead them off to specific pages for more information. Keep your home page simple and uncluttered so readers can see what they want quickly and clearly.
Is your site easy to navigate? This again is an area where I strongly getting someone else to check your site out for you. You may know where all the key information is but do your readers.
I was recently taking part in a mini-course on a site where I got totally confused as to where I needed to go to access the key information. Links weren’t working and it simply wasn’t obvious where to go. When I flagged this up to the site owner, they gave me instructions which resulted in clicking on no more than 4 separate links to get where I needed to be.
Really? No! One click from grabbing someone’s attention to take them where they need to be. Hasten to say, I gave up on the mini-course and won’t be making any purchase from this business as it was simply too confusing and time-consuming trying to work the site out.
If you want to make prospective buyers feel confident enough to part with their hard-earned cash and buy from you, you need to have some basics in place. It is crucial to have terms and condition on your site to inspire trust and avoid future conflicts.
These terms and conditions should include as a bare minimum:
- A clear definition of what products or services will be provided
- Payment terms – how to pay, when payment is due
- Any guarantees or warranties offered
- Delivery times and any additional delivery costs
- Returns/refund policy
- Cancellation policy
It still amazes me how many sites are missing this key information. I was going to make a purchase a while ago of a product for a present, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not find any information on how long the delivery time would be. As I needed the item for a specific date, I didn’t place the order.
As mentioned previously, once you have checked your website for all these points, go get someone else to check for you also. I offer this service to members of my Small Business Kit and give feedback as to how to improve their sites so come join up and I’ll check your site for you.
Guest blog from Vicki Nicolson
Vicki Nicolson Branding Therapy
When you first started out in business I bet you thought, right, I’ll press my publish button on my Facebook page, launch my site, set up all my different social media accounts and then BOOM I’ll get loads of clients. And as soon as you did all this you got a few likes from friends and well wishes but not actual paying customers, am I right?
So here’s the thing when it comes to your lovely business, you really are the only one who cares about it more than anyone else. You are your biggest fan because you believe that you can do great things, change people’s lives and make a real difference. So why aren’t you telling anyone? Why are you sitting looking at competitor websites, pages and posts? Whilst in the back of your mind there is a little voice telling you, OH MY GOD THIS IS NEVER GONNA WORK, YOU ARE CRAP and YOU CAN NOT DO THIS.
This is called being normal! Brands build their reputation and recognition over time. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Speak to anyone in business and they will tell you the same thing. Crickey, Apple were literally on the verge of going bankrupt until Steve Jobs returned to Apple. They had to work mighty hard to get to where there are now.
So how can you too become a brand magnet and stand out from the crowd? Here are my 3 simple steps to help to magnetise your brand and supercharge your business.
Step #1 – BE YOU
Your brand is all about personality. You know already what makes you different but sometimes we just don’t have the guts to show our true colours and confidence holds us back. Find something you love doing, be YOU and be consistent and I guarantee you will feel more at ease with your brand and your biz.
So just be YOU. That is the one piece of advice I give on a daily basis. Stick your name in your biz name. This is key advice, especially for the coaching market. Right now I see a lot of coaches entering the market, using your own name makes you unique and will make you stand out in an overcrowded marketplace. Sticking you name right in there in your business also makes you look passionate about your business too. You love it so god damn much you put your name to it. This also works, especially if it is just you in the business.
Write your copy for your site the way you want to. Post on your FB page when you want and not on the basis of your insights – I get way more engagement when I don’t even take notice of my insights stats. And tell your brand story – tell people how you came up with your business idea, what your passion is and how you help them. People are intrigued by how you can help them. The whole brand building process is about building an emotional connection with you so that ultimately they buy from you.
Step #2 – Use eye-catching images and don’t blend in
First impressions matter – it takes milliseconds for your potential customers to form an opinion about your website, logo and visual branding, font, colours, spacing, symmetry etc so your brand image is everything.
Using eye-catching brand images will enhance your brand’s image ten-fold. I know the hard part can be finding just the ‘right’ image for your meme, Facebook cover or brochure but the biggest secret behind captivating your audience is to follow some of my simple basic steps to help you pull some images together fast.
- Try to choose images based on the relevance of what you are posting and writing about.
- Don’t blend in. So for instance, if you sell ethical products then it would be obvious to use all things green and eco related right? WRONG! Go down a different path, choose a different colour, like pink with a use of teal and yellow instead, and images of laughing women seem to get the most engagement on my own Facebook page. Try it and see.
- Use quirky images that pop and don’t just copy and paste other people’s quotes when you are posting memes, find your own voice and write your own quotes based on your own opinions.
- Use well-composed images that ooze greatness and that are well thought out.
Overall think about the emotion you are trying to communicate. How do you want you tribe to feel? You want to build an emotional connection with your brand, how will you communicate that?
Step #3 – Professionally brand yourself
We’re all drawn to visual gorgeousness. It attracts interest and it creates desire for something. If you want to make more money in your business right now then you need to create an exciting and irresistible brand identity for your biz. A well-developed brand identity is key for clients and customers in their decision making process. According to Google research, users spend most time focusing on your logo before moving on within a website – it’s 6.48 seconds – yup that’s more time than anywhere else on your site! Yikes! You literally have seconds to win them over. 94% of first impressions are design related. Google research, overall, said this, “invest in design – it’s what matters the most for pulling users in.”
The benefits of having a good logo are tenfold:
- It makes you look established, bigger, committed and reputable
- Conveys you are professional
- It explains your company name
- You will stand out from others in a similar field or explains an unusual line of business
It’s a no brainer to get yourself a good logo and consistent branding across all your marketing materials and that includes things like photoshoots, your office space and even down to what specific piece of clothing you wear. I am known for my love of all things pink – I wear a lot of pink. So my brand is pink. Nails are painted pink… Professional branding identity will boost your business and your confidence.
Once you nail these simple steps you will start to ask yourself, how can I do more with my brand?
Your brand will evolve over time but you need to be committed, consistent, be your biggest fan and be hands on in your brand. It needs daily maintenance, it needs love and your customers need to be engaged. So be prepared to look after your brand. Post every day, mingle in groups, get your name out there, be the expert, stand out from the crowd and be in it for the long haul and I guarantee it will supercharge your sales.
Vicki is a creative branding stylist, designing magnetic branding for women in business throughout the world.
Vicki has two decades of graphics, marketing and communications expertise. She enjoyed a lucrative career working as an in-house designer for international corporations and when her son turned four she decided it was time to take the leap and follow her dream of running her own business.
Using her power of creativity Vicki helps women stand out from the crowd by branding businesses in such a way to target desired clients and to help convert customers into paying ones.
For more information: www.brandingtherapy.co.uk
Over the past couple of weeks I have been amazed by the ongoing lack of customer service by so many businesses that I have come into contact with.
Make your first impression the right one
Firstly, I requested quotes from a number of virtual assistants to supply help to a client of mine whilst they were going through a particularly busy period.
One that I contacted did not respond at all and another came back with just a one-liner that they could do the work. Not a good first impression! If that was the standard of work they sent me I certainly wasn’t going to let them loose with admin for my clients. Only one replied with a fully prepared proposal and price and suggested a phone conversation so that she fully understood what was required and to ensure she would be a good fit. I chose this lady as during our conversation, she was honest in what she couldn’t do but said she would do her best to learn anything new if required to do so. To me, this showed enthusiasm and a desire to work with me.
Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them. – Kevin Stirtz
Be crystal clear on your service and what you can offer
I then phoned to get quotes for social media support for a client from a number of companies. One passed me through to their social media ‘specialist’ who took what seemed like forever to find his notes on what they could offer and at what price. He then could not clearly explain the service and upon questioning had no idea what he was talking about. No sale!
The next waffled on forever and ended up asking me what I thought they should put together as a package and at what price. Hang on. I thought I was phoning to find out what they could do for me, not for me to give them business advice. No sale!
Another went into a barrage of sales spiel but was rabbiting on about social media channels wholly unsuitable for my client. He didn’t ask one question about my client’s needs and gave me no opportunity to explain them.
“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.” – Roy Hollister Williams
Don’t make promises you cannot keep
Next I went to order some items from a website but had a query on another product they had for sale. I phoned and left a message as their answerphone promised a call back within an hour. No return call was forthcoming so I then emailed and again received no response at all. Needless to say that I deleted the items in my shopping basket and purchased them elsewhere.
I then had another purchase to make and ordered an item for next day delivery but which did not arrive for 48 hours. This really irritated me and I complained to the company. If they had said delivery in 48 hours my expectations would have been met and I would have been a satisfied client so why did they promise me something that could not deliver?
Make a customer, not a sale. – Katherine Barchetti
Finally, I made one more purchase that stated 5-day delivery yet turned up in 3 days. Even though this item turned up one day later than the promised delivery time of the first company, I was over the moon as they had exceeded my expectations. Just be honest with your customers and don’t set out promises that you can’t keep.
It is no use going to the time and expense of promoting your business only to throw away enquiries and valuable customers when they try to buy from you.
Here is a powerful yet simple rule. Always give people more than they expect to get. – Nelson Boswell
4 key tips to satisfying customers
So my key 4 tips to satisfying your customers are:
- Create the right first impression. Whether it is via email, phone call or face to face, when someone gets in contact for the first time, ensure that you create the right impression to gain their business. Be professional, take an interest in their needs and listen carefully to what they actually want.
- Be clear on what you can offer. First and foremost, make sure that both you and every single staff member know what you offer and can explain this clearly when asked. If you can’t, you will lose your prospect from the outset.
- Set expectations and then live up to them. Be clear on your pricing policy, terms and conditions, delivery and anything else relevant to the sale. Make sure the customer is clear on these and set their expectations accordingly. Don’t make promises to gain the sale that you just cannot keep. It will do you more harm than good in the long term.
- Under promise and over deliver. Wherever possible exceed customer expectations so that they remember you for all the right reasons. With the apparent lack of customer service with so many companies, you are highly likely to stand out from the crowd and gain long term customer loyalty.
Do you have a customer service story to tell, either good or bad? Please leave your customer service experience story in the comments box below.
How often have you been in negotiations with a prospect who then thanks you for your time but decides not to make a purchase? Quite a few I suspect.
But what do you do in this situation? Do you just thank them and ask them to get in touch if they are interested in the future? If so, you may be wasting a valuable opportunity!
Apply this customer research technique to increase future sales
When a prospect declines to buy, ask them why. Now this doesn’t have to be confrontational so they feel as though they have offended you. It can be done in a very gentle customer research type of manner that makes the prospect feel valued and will give you a far greater insight into how to achieve future sales than anything else out there.
Simply ask the prospect what would have prompted them to buy from you today. Ask them what you could have done differently.
Some people may be too embarrassed to tell you the price is too high or the product not good enough so may say something like ‘I just can’t afford it at the moment’ or if you are a service industry, ‘I don’t have time at the moment’.
This is where you can then start to do some gentle drilling down to find out the real reason they haven’t bought from you and what you can do about it.
They can’t afford it
If they say they can’t afford it, ask them if they would buy if you gave a discount or offered flexible payment terms. If they still say no, you know that price isn’t the real reason they didn’t buy and something else is stopping them. Say to them something along the lines of ‘so price doesn’t seem to be the real issue and I feel something else is missing for you in what I am offering. If the price was right, what could I offer that would make you want to purchase today?’
It’s not the right time
If they use the time excuse, ask them when they think the time will be right for them, how much time they think they need etc. Ask them the question ‘so if I call you in two months’ time will you be making a purchase then?’ If they say maybe or they will think about it at that point, again, time is not the real reason and you need to ask the same question as previously of ‘so time doesn’t seem to be the real issue and I feel something else is missing for you in what I am offering. If the timing was right, what could I offer that you would like to purchase today?’
Hopefully, you get my drift and you will find different questions and adapt them to your business and answers given. It can take practice to get this right but if you can do it, this valuable customer research will really help you find out so much more about people’s needs and wants and how your product or service can fulfil those. You can then change your offering to attract more sales in the future.
All through the questioning make sure you keep an easy conversational style rather than conducting an interrogation and make sure the prospect knows that there is no pressure to buy but that they will really be helping you with your future business offering. Maybe you would like to give them a small token of appreciation for co-operating such as a voucher for future use or a small gift or taster session.
Be brave. Give it a go. And let me know how you get on with this style of customer research in the comments box below or over on the Facebook page.