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The Marketing Strategy that Makes People Hungry for More

The Marketing Strategy that Makes People Hungry for More

Beyond • February 28, 2012

“Why  should I give you my money?” This question comes to every person\'s mind before they do anything that requires them to open their wallet. This happens whether it is offline or online. However, there is a strategy that top marketing and copywriting experts use to get people to want more. Sell with Benefits, Not Features Getting people to want something can be difficult, especially if you take the wrong approach. One of the ways to fumble your marketing is to talk only about the features you offer. Features may sound nice, but they don\'t add to the \"want\" effect that your prospect should experience. The fix to this type of marketing is to take features and make a list of all the benefits that those features give to your prospect. How to Pick out the Best Benefits This process can be done with just one person, or an entire team, with charts and graphs or with just a pen and paper. Let’s keep things simple and use a pen and paper. For your product, let’s say you want to sell a cup of hot coffee. Here’s how we can pick out the benefits of your product. List the features – On one side of the paper, list all of the features that your product has. To keep things simple, these features would be: It’s hot It’s loaded with caffeine The cup is made of recycled material It has milk If buying was a rational process, these features would be good enough. However, the buying process isn’t rational at all. Most people do not need to buy a cup of hot coffee from you; they can make it on their own. Here’s how we can make the cup of hot coffee a little more enticing. Simple vs. Complex – One of the secrets of top copywriters is the way they market their products. If it’s a simple product, you make it sound complex by explaining intricate details of how it was created, how it works and other details beyond what meets the eye. And if it’s a complicated product, market it as simply as you can. Back when computers were new to the public, master copywriter Joe Sugarman marketed computers as simply as he could. He didn’t explain the complicated technology inside the product, but instead the simple ways people can use it. With the cup of hot coffee, since it’s a simple product, you can include complex details to make it more enticing: It’s hot – Can range from 140 to 180 degrees Celcius It’s loaded with caffeine – Coffee beans are imported from Kenya The cup is made of recycled material – Made with 60% post-consumer recycled fiber It has milk – You can choose between dairy and soy milk Getting the features – As mentioned above, buying isn’t a rational process but an emotional one. People flock more to products that enchant them, or arouse their curiosity. If they find an emotional connection to the product, it makes them want it more. Once you have applied the simple vs. complex method, it’s time to list the benefits of your product. You need to first figure out who your ideal customer would be, and apply your features to that certain group. For our example, let’s try to sell it to a group of college students. They’re tired from a full day at school, and they still have to finish their papers. Maybe they could use a hot cup of coffee? A cup of steaming-hot coffee brewed from premium-grade Kenyan coffee beans can keep you sharp, alert and awake to get more work done, and provide the extra boost you need to keep from falling behind on work and school. There are probably more than four features of your product. You can use these features as a basis for coming up with benefits. These benefits, when coupled with an emotional aspect, uplift your marketing strategy to make your product more appealing for consumers.


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Online Marketing Tips: The Human Touch in the Digital Age

Online Marketing Tips: The Human Touch in the Digital Age

Beyond • January 13, 2012

Automation is a word most of us equate to convenience. To a person at home, it might mean sitting in bed with a remote control that handles your home theatre, windows, garage, microwave or washing machine at the touch of a button. To a shopper, it might mean clicking through a menu of items before you order and having them delivered to your doorstep. And to a business owner, it might mean dispensing tons of auto replies to potential customers with one hit of the \"send\" button. Cyborg Service With all this automation at your disposal, it’s possible to lose the human touch in the digital age. Marketing and customer service may have become quick and easy nowadays with all the strategies and methods the new advances have brought us, but don’t let these automated tools fool you. They\'re Real, and So Are You The face of marketing and customer service may have changed dramatically during the past decade, but some things remain consistent—such as the heart of the consumer. Real people are still the end users, not programs or bots. It’s all about the customer: her wants, her needs, her preferences. That’s why effective marketing requires human touch. We are wired to crave relationships: real connections with fellow human beings. But so far, there isn’t an intelligent, automated tool that’s been invented to provide all the flexibility, sincerity, warmth and genuine care consumers relate to. Wouldn’t you always prefer to have a real, live, sincere person responding to you at the end of the line, providing unique responses to your unique issues – rather than a machine? Although market analysis and consumer trend studies are valuable tools in achieving growth and success, customers don’t want to be treated like mere statistics and demographics. Be sincere and avoid the hype. In Thumbtack’s short experience, we have learned time and time again that a quick call to check on the jobs we see on our site always generates positive responses. Almost every person we contact is pleasantly surprised that we go all the way to make sure their needs are met. This stems from our belief that although we do business in the digital world, automation should never make marketing cold and impersonal. We use the tools the digital age has endowed us with to provide each customer not just a quick response, but a reply made by a real, caring person. Whether by email, phone or SMS; on a busy Wednesday afternoon or in the wee hours of a Sunday morning, our message rings true: WE CARE. This is what creates a positive impact to customers’ hearts and minds. This is also the core value that will allow businesses to evolve in the digital age. It’s a Win-Win Situation The idea of building a business that profits every customer is what drives this human touch. You might be doing business online – but are you throwing your heart into it? A smile begets a smile; people respond to people. Good marketing and customer service is always an excellent investment. Consider this quote from Arthur F. Sheldon: “He profits most who serves best.” Try it and prove for yourself that this brand of humanness in marketing creates lasting relationships that give birth to word-of-mouth advertising: both foundations for a thriving business. The benefits of technology weren’t meant to drive us humans apart but to bring us closer.


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Online Marketing Tips: How to Get Noticed Online

Online Marketing Tips: How to Get Noticed Online

Beyond • December 30, 2011

Are you a DJ, a house cleaner, a landscaper or any local service professional who is trying to get more customers? Good thing you’re living in an era where there are countless venues available for you to market yourself. Here are some easy steps to getting noticed online. Prove You Exist! First, get your potential customers to discover you. How else can people avail themselves of the services you provide without advertising yourself? And whatever you do, don’t depend on word-of-mouth advertising. Although it comes in handy in the long run, there are many other ways that you can get your customers to know about you quickly and affordably. One of these is through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more. Another way is to join and list your business on e-commerce sites like Google Places, Yelp or Thumbtack (our company!). Aside from that, you can also publish yourself online by keeping a blog or a simple website that doesn’t require you to hire a web designer. Since the accessibility of social media and e-commerce sites takes competition in the market to a higher level, you would then need to take into consideration how to make the public get to notice you more. Among the thousands of professionals who are posting their services online, you need to provide more reliable information relating to you as a professional. Since customers only see pictures and read information online, they are wary about whom they will contact and hire. Here are some things your potential clients will consider: Create Credibility Customers want to know if you’re a legitimate professional. Provide information such as your certification, license, insurance and anything else that shows your credentials. Offer Great Customer Service The best way to gain customers is to provide excellent customer service. Let your customers feel they are valued by sticking to your promise and commitment to provide the services they need. Whether this includes technical support, a good attitude, smart knowledge or quality service, do it well and in a timely manner. Set Reasonable Pricing Remember that a reasonable price is not necessarily the lowest price. According to Whatis.com, “A fair and reasonable price is the price point for a good or service that is fair to both parties involved in the transaction.” This amount provides the best total value that compromises the delivery time, availability, payment terms, quality, quantity and service. Don’t under-price and don’t over-price. Guaranteed Service Other than quality service, customers feel safe getting services from you if you provide a service guarantee. This is the statement that clarifies what your customers can expect from you, as well as what you will do to alter the situation if your services do not meet their expectations. With this, your customers will be confident that you really will do the job right. Another way to boost your business is through a referral program. This marketing strategy will help you expand your network by giving incentives to clients who send you new business. You can do this by giving every satisfied customer a flyer describing your referral program. You can also mail out information regarding your referral program to your business contacts and inactive clients, or promote it through your email signature, blog or website. This is a great way to motivate your clients to keep doing business with you. They might also see it as a simple way of thanking you for the excellent service you provided, as well as a way to show your clients how you truly appreciate their confidence in your work. When you deliver high quality services to your clients, these clients can help you gain more business by providing great reviews. This is basically word-of-mouth marketing but in a written form. These reviews are a testament of what kind of service you deliver. And remember: No matter what else you do, you should always remember that excellent service is the best key to a successful business. Love your job, and do it well, and you will succeed.


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SEO: A Marketing Tool You Should Consider

Beyond • November 9, 2011

Just when you think that quality products and services, excellent customer support and competitive prices are enough to make your business boom, here comes a looming question: How should you let potential customers know that you have exactly what they need? It is indisputable that traditional forms of advertising (like TV commercials and print ads) do the trick in some ways. After all, those things wouldn’t still be here if they had not proven themselves effective for so long. However, the advent of the Internet drastically changed the playing field for businesses big and small. Whenever the modern internet user with dollars to spend needs a certain product or service, he or she won’t just sit in front of the TV all day to wait for a commercial that can address his needs. She’d rather go online, pull up her favorite search engine and enter a few words that relate to what she’s looking for. This is exactly why you should give a slice of your attention to search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is all about online visibility. It takes advantage of the fact that people rely heavily on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing for information. Of course, your business is not the only one that aims to get a spot in cyberspace. Your aim is to rank high on these search engines because prospective customers don’t have the time to browse all of the search results. Landing on the fifth page or below is almost the same as not landing on a spot at all. When you want to optimize your business in leading search engines, here are some of the things that you should consider before launching a business website. Monitor Keywords When people look for a product or a service using a search engine, they enter a string of words that directly relate to what they’re looking for. These “keywords” are pretty important things to consider when creating web content. It is easier for search engines to detect that your website can address the needs of a person looking for information if you use the right keywords. Keywords help search engines measure the relevance of your page to a user’s search. It used to be that the more keywords you had on your page, the better. However, this led to keyword stuffing by people who wanted to get to the top of search results. This was an abusive practice and didn’t help anyone. So the search engines got smarter, and the way you should use keywords is much more nuanced today than just saying the same keywords over and over again... Search Engines Hate Duplicate Content Make sure that the content of your website is as unique as it can be. When you copy a page from a different website, search engines like Google get confused in deciding which page should get a better ranking. Therefore, a page that doesn’t have any copied content will get prioritized. Get Some External Help You should realize that SEO is a long-term investment and something that you’ll need to spend significant time learning about. Any outside help you can find will make this process quicker. There are other ways to improve the online visibility of your business. If you sell services, another great way to rank high on Google is signing up on a website that serves as an online marketplace. Thumbtack, for example, optimizes your service listing for free. All you have to do is make a profile that tells everyone what you offer and then Thumbtack does all the work for you. Your visibility and accessibility on the Internet can make or break your business. It is universally accepted that a search engine is a convenient way for people to look for someone who can cater to their needs. Why not optimize your business and take advantage of this trend?


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Customer Management Tips: Turning Customers into VIP (Part 2)

Beyond • October 17, 2011

Last week we discussed the first three ways to engage with your customers and keep them satisfied and brand loyal. The tips below and in our first blog on successful customer management focus on keeping customers, getting them to want more and exciting them enough to initiate word of mouth. This week we’ll round out the list with keeping your customers informed and going that extra mile. Keep Your Customers Informed while Work Is in Progress Nobody likes to wait for work to be done. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to wait an entire minute for a website to load. Time is more valuable than gold. In fact, no amount of gold can equal a second of someone’s time. You can’t get back time that is wasted. So if you do have to make your customer wait for something, be it some unexpected server downtime, a delay in the food that was ordered or the product that was bought, make sure you keep your customer informed during the wait. Pamper your customers by telling them exactly what is happening at that moment. Are you checking that the product is in top condition before handing it over? Tell them. Does it take a long time for the fish to be cooked to perfection? Tell them. Is the software programming team checking every single line of code to make sure it’s perfect? Tell them. Have you ever tracked a UPS or FedEx package with a tracking code? UPS and FedEx give you tracking codes so you can stay informed while you wait. This makes for a very happy customer. Keeping customers informed makes them appreciate the time they’re spending waiting. Many businesses overlook this issue. You’ll be able to maintain customers for a lifetime if you keep them well-informed during a wait. The Coup de Grâce Once the job is done or the product has been delivered, you’d better not count your chickens before they hatch. There’s one last step. The parting shot. The home stretch. Give your customer a call, or send them an email. Ask them what they think about the product. Ask for their comments. Ask about what they think about you, your company or your business. Let them know that you care about what they think. You’re not dropping them because you already got their money; you’re in this for the long term. You want to create a relationship. A partnership. Let them know that you are an exceptional company and that you deserve their trust as much as they deserve your service. There’s No Rocket Science Involved Devoting time and effort to individual customers is difficult. We at Thumbtack don’t yet do it as well as we’d like. We do some of these things, but we’re always striving to do more. We know that each new program we launch to build a relationship with our customers will boost our business. It’s all about making your customers feel at home. Make them feel extra special and give them a little extra so they’ll want to tell all their friends about you. You don’t need to grab hold of everyone’s attention, you just need to get one customer to believe in your business so they can’t wait to tell the world how awesome you are. Once you’ve converted one customer into a lifelong partner, a chain reaction will occur. They’ll come in twos. In threes. In multitudes. Are you ready to boost your business?


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Customer Management Tips: Turning Customers into VIP (Part 1)

Beyond • October 10, 2011

Running a successful business has always been about getting more sales, more customers, more partners. But what some people don’t know is that these successful companies don’t just focus on selling, or advertising, or getting more partners. There’s a secret underneath all the commercials, all the product sales and all the deals... Something is going on with these businesses. Why do they stay at the top? It’s not an over-zealous CEO. It’s not about really low rates. It’s not even always about the quality of the product. What’s it really about? It’s about three things: (1) knowing how to keep your customers, (2) making your customers want more from you and (3) your customers telling their friends about you. Sure, you can have a great leader, or rock-bottom rates, or a high-quality product. But if you just stick with that strategy, your customers are bound to “try out” something else. So what can you do to keep your customers happy and forever loyal? 1. Welcome Your Customer Like a VIP One of the most important moments in the relationship between a business and its customers is the instant they sign up for your product. Remember they are offering you their trust. They don’t know your company. You don’t know them. They will be asking themselves, “Will this be worth my time and money?” They will be full of skepticism. So this is an opportune moment for you to give them the impression that you’re not just any other company who’s in it for the money. You want to create a relationship with them. You want to create a partnership. You can welcome them with a personal email, or a phone call, or anything that makes them notice that you’re not an autoresponder. Nobody enjoys getting mail from those robots. Make your first-time customer feel special. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers does this to perfection. When you sign up for email updates on his blog, he sends you a personal email asking the question: “What are you struggling with?” If you reply with something, anything, Derek will respond personally. He talks about what you’re struggling with, and if he has the answers on his blog, he provides specific links for those certain posts. Imagine your reaction when you get a reply like that. I bet you’d be blown away. I bet you’d even start to look forward to his future posts. 2. Customer Satisfaction Is King You can never go wrong with satisfying your customer. Never. Ever. As a company, you need to do everything in your power to make your one customer happy. Provide quality products. Offer money-back guarantees. Offer discounts and bonus packages. Get them what they want before they even know they want it. When a customer is dissatisfied with your service, you need to apologize for the inconvenience and promise that you and the company will be working to make sure it never happens again. And any promise you make can’t be empty. You will be surprised how loyal your customer will become if you back up your promise with action. What your customers need is to know that someone is working on their problem. They don’t need an apologetic speech. They don’t need to have their problem fixed this very second. They just need a little hope: a ray of light at the end of the tunnel. 3. Offer Less, Give More This is the hard part, but a sure-fire way to grab hold of your customers’ hearts. Whatever you offer to your customer - give more. If you’re a photographer and you want to make your customers love you, throw in a free photo album. If you’re a disc jockey, throw in some free video coverage. If you’re a dog trainer, offer some in-home services. There are a lot of things you can do to give your customers more after promising less. This will give your service an unexpected value to the customer. Even just the little things should make your customers happy.Join us next week when we’ll finish up the list of professional and proven customer management techniques with keeping the customer informed and laying the foundation for a long-lasting partnership.


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The 3 Best Ways to Manage Your Company’s Online Reputation

Beyond • September 7, 2011

\"A good reputation is more valuable than money.\" - Publilius SyrusAs you already know, managing your online reputation is becoming an increasingly important part of doing business in today’s world. Whether your work is primarily online or offline, the work you do will eventually be discussed online. So being able to manage one’s business reputation online is vital for both your business’s financial health and for maintaining customer loyalty. There are three basic types of information that you will need to manage: good information you post about your business; good and bad information posted by your customers about your work; and, in the worst case, bad information posted by your competitors. Here’s how to manage these three types of information. 1. Good Information You Post about Your Company This is a no-brainer and a gimme. If there’s a place online to list your company or ‘claim’ your listing, do it. The more information you get out about your company, the better. It also has the advantage of promoting in search the content you want your customers to see. For example, did someone have a bad experience with your company and post about it on a blog? First, comment on the blog, apologize, and say you’re working to improve. Second, try to improve your image and fill out your information on other sites, so hopefully those sites will appear higher than the blog post in a Google search for your company. 2. Mixed Information Posted by Your Customers The customers that glow about you are the easiest to handle - they don’t even need to be responded to, other than a ‘Thanks!’ However, if you run a business with more than a few dozen customers, it is inevitable that someone will one day find something not-so-nice to say about your company online. There are two principles in responding to a negative customer review: First, do no harm. Second, the customer is always right. Whatever you do, don’t overreact and claim that the customer is crazy. The allegation is out there; now that the complaint has been published, there’s nothing you can say in response to that person to dispel the suspicion. Unless the complaint is an outright lie, there is usually some truth to a negative customer review - that’s why consumers find them so helpful. The best way we’ve found to respond to a negative online complaint is to acknowledge that you saw the complaint, apologize that the customer had a bad experience, announce that you’re conducting a review of the problem that led to the complaint, and work to improve whatever it is that annoyed the customer. In the short term, the best thing to do is to apologize. In the long term, the best thing to do is to work on improving that part of your business that consistently receives the worst feedback. 3. Bad Information Posted by Your Competitors Here’s the worst-case scenario: A competitor, miffed customer, or ex-lover posts false allegations about your company all over the internet. When this happens, you need to shift into ‘damage control’ mode. First, find out what happened. Sometimes what happened is obvious - someone left a libelous review on an online listing of your company or is defacing your reputation over social media. However, we occasionally see some underhanded tactics that can be pretty sneaky. For example, small businesses will sometimes email customer support representatives of major online listing companies alleging wrongdoing by their competitors. We receive emails every week from small business owners alleging that a house cleaner is unlicensed, a contractor is cheating their customers, or a caterer is untrustworthy. Each site has different policies when this happens - in our case, we will temporarily remove the listings of both parties from our site until we find out what happened and the dispute is resolved. Second, it turns out that many online \"attacks\" by competitors or customers are actually true. Small businesses may be unlicensed or provide bad customer service. The best way to respond to such attacks is to provide some evidence - documentation, a customer testimonial, anything - that what the competitor said isn\'t true. Do you have a license? Scan it and post it online. Is a competitor claiming that you cheat your customers? Find some of your best customers to speak out on your behalf. If you have evidence to support your claim, you’re safe regardless of what may be thrown at you.


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The Marketing Power of Great Customer Service

Beyond • August 8, 2011

Marketing your small business online is tough. Very tough. You have to stay up to date on all the newest places to get the word out about your business. You have to keep on top of your social media presence. You have to compete with lots of other great businesses who are trying to do the same thing. And whether your valiant attempts at online marketing will pay off can seem beyond your control. However, there’s one part of your business that will always be within your control: the way you treat your customers. Great customer service is the absolute first place you should focus if you are trying to get the word out about your business online. Delighting your customers with a great experience when they contact your company will pay great dividends over time. Here are just a few ways that great customer service works to your advantage: Customers who already like your product will become even more loyal to your company if they receive great customer service. People remember the interactions they have with company representatives, and you want anyone who contacts your company to remember you - in a good way. Happy customers are repeat customers. Unhappy customers can be salvaged through good customer service. Is your newest customer upset with the bug that was in the latest release of your software? Is a long-time customer angry about the scratches you made on her floor when you moved her piano? A simple, apologetic phone call from a manager will go a long way towards salvaging the relationship. If you delight enough people with great customer service, some of them will inevitably cheerlead for your company online. Our company has received some of its most glowing online reviews from people who have had extended conversations with our cheery customer relations specialists. At Thumbtack, we used to do a pretty poor job at customer service. There have been times when we didn’t respond to customers for over a week, lost email addresses of some of our most ardent supporters and gave impersonal responses that didn’t answer the customer’s questions. Then we smartened up, built a team dedicated to customer service and focused on providing quick, personalized responses to any customer inquiries that we received. Today we receive 7,000 email inquiries from customers every week, and we respond to more than 90% of them within 24 hours. We’re growing rapidly - a new person signs up on our site every minute of every day - and we attribute a huge part of our success to happy customers crowing to their friends about the likability and responsiveness of our customer service team. Are you responding within 24 hours to every customer that contacts your company? Are your customers delighted by the responses they receive from your company, or are they only lukewarm on their experience? Does your company prioritize customer service over other forms of online marketing? If your answer to any of these questions is “no” - then you need to stop and think about whether the other kinds of online marketing you do are worth your time and expense. Not only will happy customers return again and again and again, but they will also shout about your company from the rooftops. No Twitter accounts, TV ads or SEO expertise are required to get customers to write online about your awesome company.


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