Marketing

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Launch4Life writes about a variety of topics to help small businesses better market their products and services. This collection of posts fall under the category of MARKETING.


Marketing Your Business With Video

Marketing Your Business With Video

computer with all the different parts of SEO

Using video to market your small business can give you the biggest bang for your marketing buck. In today’s fast-paced world video is popular for many reasons.

  • Internet users want to process information fast.
  • Video is easy to consume because it consists of a series of pictures and words.
  • Video attracts our attention.

As we scroll through social media newsfeeds, there is a lot of noise vying for our attention. There’s so much content to choose from. How do we get our posts to stand out?

The answer is video.

Admit it, most of us prefer images over text. And, we prefer moving images over stationary images.

Not too long ago, the ability to harness the power of video was completely out of reach for the common business owner. You needed to have a team of professionals and a whole bunch of fancy equipment to produce a video. But today, that’s no longer true.

Just using simple tools, that you might already own, and some easy-to-use software, anyone can get start using video to promote your business.

After reading this blog post, you may have with enough video know-how to start your own Internet TV show.

Okay, maybe that’s too big of a promise.

But, by the end of this article you will have an overview of the basics needed to get started with marketing your small business with video.

So let’s dive in.

BASIC EQUIPMENT NEEDED

Camera

If you think you need to buy a fancy video camera, you’re dead wrong. You can easily make video using your smart phone and/or your computer.

The camera on your cell phone has incredibly high resolution. With just a cheap little tripod, to hold it steady, you can press the record button and make a video anywhere at any time. Easy Peasy.

Your cell phone has a built-in camera, which allows you to take and save videos directly to your phone. Your only limitation may be how much memory your phone has, so always make sure you check your available space before you begin to make your recordings.

It’s also a good idea to also put your phone on “do not disturb” mode. That way, you won’t get a phone call in the middle of filming. I always forget to do that!

Your computer can also serve as a video recording device. If you have a laptop computer, you have a built-in camera for making videos. If you have a desktop camera, you might need to purchase an external web cam. Today, web cams are relatively cheap and no special skills are needed to set them up.

If you need a web cam, I highly recommend the Logitech HD Pro Web Cam C920. It not only takes great video, but also has an excellent microphone. To set up the webcam, you simply clip it to the top of your computer monitor and plug the cord into your computer’s USB port. Easy Peasy.

Microphone

One thing that is really important for making business videos, is that you need to have good audio. When you use the built-in microphone with your phone or computer, it can often produce poor quality sound. The audio can sound muffled, tinny, or just not loud enough. Which is why it pays to use an external microphone.

You do not have to spend a lot of money on a microphone. If you are using your cell phone, just using the in-line microphone that came with your phone’s earbuds is good enough. If you are using a computer, your cheapest option is to purchase a headphone/microphone headset. I recommend purchasing the kind that attaches to your computer via USB. It’s easy to connect. Just plug it in and you’re good to go.

You can pick up a relatively in-expensive USB microphone headset for around $25. Here’s a highly reviewed headset on Amazon that is compatible with computers, tablets, and smart phones. Easy Peasy.

 

If you don’t like wearing headphones and/or you have a bit more money in your budget, we recommend the stand-up USB microphones made by Blue. The Launch4Life team has personally used both the Blue Yeti and the Blue Snowball. They both work great.

And last, but not least, you might want to invest in a lapel microphone (that’s the kind you wear clipped to your shirt) that plugs into your phone or tablet (I haven’t seen one that attaches to your computer – but maybe they exist?).

When you’re shopping, you will want to make sure you choose a lapel microphone with a LONG cord, or has an extension. The microphone you choose is going to be dependent upon the device you use. As a word of caution, if you own an iPhone you will probably have to buy a “dongle” from Apple to allow you to plug the microphone into your phone’s lightning jack.

 

 

Lighting

This can sometimes be the biggest rabbit hole you can fall down. While it’s important to have good lighting for your videos, it’s so easy to get carried away. Some folks go whole hog and purchase an expensive lighting kit that consists of many fancy-dancy high quality box lights and a green screen to use as a backdrop. That’s really not necessary for when you are just starting out.

In the beginning, it’s best to do simple things, like just taking your videos in a well-lit room. The more light you have the better. Or, you could do your filming outside and harness the natural light of a sunny day.

If you have a little bit of money here’s a great idea. Get a small ring light that clips onto your phone or computer. That’s all I have and I love it.

Or, you can get a bigger ring light that attaches to a tripod. One nice thing about using a ring light is that it provides soft lighting, which is very flattering to the complexion.

There are a ton of different ring lights to choose from. Here’s a recommendation for a small 8 inch ring light that is very reasonably priced. As a bonus, it even comes with a tripod.

Tripod

If you are using a cell phone you are going to need a tripod to keep the camera steady. There are lots of choices out there. But again, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Just a small desktop tripod is good enough to start with.

If worse comes to worse, you can always prop your phone up using a stack of books. The important thing is that holding the camera in your hand will make your video come out too shaky.

If you are using your laptop computer or computer with a web cam, you won’t even need a tripod. However, you will want to ensure that your computer’s built-in camera is at eye level. I have found that just setting my computer on a box of Kleenix, gives me the height I need. Just ensures that my head isn’t chopped off.

There are so many tripods available to choose from. Here is a bendable tripod that is compatible with lots of different devices (from smart phones to Go Pro cameras) and has the added benefit of being flexible (so it can attach to all sorts of things.)

Important: When you purchase a tripod, keep an eye out for whether you will also need to purchase some sort of adapter that allows you to connect your smart phone to the tripod. Some tripods you purchase automatically include this adapter, but many don’t. This is an item that is easily found on Amazon. You want to make sure that your adapter allows for both landscape and portrait mode filming.

Selfie Stick

When you are traveling, nothing beats a selfie stick for allowing you to take great videos. For just a few dollars, you have an easy method to take videos that get a whole group in the frame and/or you up against an awesome backdrop.

Selfie sticks are made to be portable, which makes them ideal for travel. Plus, many of them even have a built-in remote that allows you to set up your shot and then click a button to begin recording.

One word of caution, since a Selfie Stick is designed to take your video at a distance, it’s imperative that you use a microphone to capture your sound. So before you purchase a selfie stick, make sure the length of your microphone cord is compatible. It is precisely for this reason that many people choose to purchase an extender cable with their lapel mics.

Teleprompter

It’s probably not in your budget to go out and purchase a professional teleprompter. However, you might be happy to know that there are several apps you can purchase to convert your smart phone or tablet into a teleprompter. This is a great way to stick to written script that you find difficult memorizing.

Most teleprompter apps are very easy to use. Simply paste in your text from a Word document and viola the words will be displayed across the screen. Most teleprompters allow you to customize the font size and color, plus control the speed at which the text scrolls.

The best app to purchase will be dependent on what device you plan to use it with. Therefore, we suggest you do a little homework first. Here’s an article that talks about various teleprompter apps available for iOS and Android.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

There are so many different types of videos that your can create. Which is why it is always good to start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of your video?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is the call to action?

Once you have those three elements figured out, you can decide on the format of your video.

For instance, if the purpose of the video is for people to get to know a little about you, then you might want to create a very informal “talking head” video. Which would be a few minutes of you talking casually into the camera and sharing something personal about yourself. When you create a video like this, it’s best to jot down a few ideas of what you’d like to talk about. Creating a simple outline lets you stay on track.

If the purpose of your video is to create a how-to, you would want to spend a lot more time preparing. You would want to know in advance all the different steps needed to adequately teach someone whatever you want them to learn. For videos like this, you will definitely need an outline and possibly a full-blown script. You’d want to also be sure to practice the entire process in advance to ensure you don’t leave anything out.

Here are the some of the most common videos you might want to make to help market your business.

 

Brand Videos

Provides a big picture view of your company’s mission, products, and/or services.

Demo Videos

Illustrates how your products or services work.

Event Videos

Highlights an upcoming event to entice viewers to attend.

Interview Videos

Candid interviews with key people in your company to help establish credibility and build trust with your target market.

How-To Videos

Teaches the viewer to better understand a complex subject or how to do a specific task.

Explainer Videos

Helps your prospective customer understand how your product or services can help solve their problem.

Testimonial Videos

Case study of a happy customer your company has already helped.

CREATING YOUR VIDEO

Talking Head Videos

These are the easiest and most common videos. You simply hit the record button on your cell phone, tablet, or computer and start chatting. Easy Peasy.

Unfortunately, this type of video can be very intimidating. Just looking into the camera and chatting away can be a challenge fro some people. If you don’t have a perfectly polished and memorized script, it’s so easy to go off on a tangent. Having a teleprompter app, can help keep you on track. 

From the viewer’s perspective, talking head videos can sometimes come across as a little boring. So it’s best to make these videos short and sweet. We’re talking 2 minutes or less. Or, you can try jazzing them up with graphics, carefully placed text, or special effects during your video editing. Try to think of ways to help keep your viewers engaged.

NOTE: Vertical vs Horizontal Filming

One of the biggest mistakes that I see people make is that when they do use their cell phone to make videos they do it in vertical mode. When you do this it creates a long skinny video. By making a conscious effort to simply turn your phone so that it’s in horizontal mode, you can create a landscape video that completely fills up the screen.

Don’t make this mistake. While your video might look good if you are watching it on your phone. It will look horrible when someone watches your video on a computer or television.

COOL VIDEO CREATION TOOLS

The Launch4Life team rarely makes talking head videos. Which is why I’d like to share some of my favorite cool tools for creating engaging videos.

Zoom

One of the best video creation tools is a software application we use every day called Zoom. Zoom is videoconferencing program that allows you to meet with people online. You can have face-to-face video meetings with up to 100 people. In addition, you can share your computer screen, share your iPad or iPhone, and even collaborate on a virtual whiteboard.

One of the best things about using Zoom is that you have the ability to record your meetings. After the meeting is over, you can download a copy of the MP4 recording to your computer. You can either use the raw video as is, or you can import the file in any standard video editor.

The Launch4Life has used Zoom to hold online meetings, webinars, and even one-on-one trainings. We then repurpose the video recordings for our social media posts, YouTube videos, and even as content for online courses.

There is a free forever plan, as well as a premium plan to access additional features. On the free plan you have 1-on-1 meetings with no time limit, while group meetings (3 or more participants) have a 40 minute limit.

To learn more about Zoom, watch this video: https://youtu.be/VnyitUU4DUY

 

Loom

This is an excellent tool that allows you to record your screen, record your webcam, or record your screen and webcam together. This is one of the easiest tools to create how-to videos.

Loom works with both Mac and Windows. However, since it is a Chrome Extension, you need to be using the Chrome internet browser to use Loom.

There is a free forever plan, as well as a premium plan to access additional features. On the free plan you can create and store an unlimited number of videos. However, you can only access 25. Videos that are stored in Loom can be shared to Social Media channels or shared via a link in an email. You also have the option to download your Loom videos to your computer.

To learn more about Loom, watch this video: https://youtu.be/sxcwsoIqRr4

 

Lumen5

We just love this cool tool. Lumen5 allows you take your blog posts and create short video trailers.

This is one of the easiest tools I’ve ever seen. You simply paste in the URL of your blog post, and Lumen5 uses Artificial Intelligence to create a short video for you. What’s really awesome is that if you don’t like the video that’s automatically created, you can customize your video by swapping out any of the text or graphics.

You can make your video even fancier by adding in royalty free background music. There is a free forever plan, as well as a premium plan to access additional features. The free plan allows you to make 5 videos per month.

To learn more about Lumen5, watch this video: https://youtu.be/WddhmYftg2U

VideoScribe

We searched high and low for a video tool that would allow us to create those cool Whiteboard Animation videos. After trying several different programs, VideoScribe was the best one we found. This is an awesome tool.

Whiteboard animation videos are extremely popular for making a wide range of marketing videos. There is something just so mesmerizing about watching illustrations drawn right before your very eyes.

VideoScribe is a premium program and has a bit of a steep learning curve. Therefore, this is definitely a 2nd day program to investigate for making your marketing videos. However, if you’d like a whiteboard animation video done for you, know that this a service Launch4Life provides to our clients.

If you’re interested in checking out VideoScribe, they do offer a 7 day free trial.

Powtoons

This is by far one of our favorite premium tools for creating animated videos. This program is excellent for making highly engaging videos that feature your company’s product or service.

What’s especially exciting about using Powtoons is you can import an existing PowerPoint presentation and convert it to a video. This is an excellent way to take content your company has already created and repurpose the material into content your clients will love.

If you’re interested in checking out Powtoons, know that they do offer a free plan. However, any videos you create cannot be used for commercial purposes. In addition, your videos will be branded with a watermark.

Just like VideoScribe, the premium plans offered are not cheap. However, if you’d like an animated explainer video done for you, know that Launch4Life has an agency license and can create one for you.

EDITING YOUR VIDEOS

As much as we all try to make our video recordings perfect, it’s almost impossible to not have something you want to edit out. Even if it’s just you turning on and off the camera. So, you are probably going to want to have a tool you can use to edit your videos.

When you first start out making videos all you probably need is a simple editing tool to lop off the beginning and ending of your videos.

YouTube Studio Editor

If you are looking for a real basic editor, you can always use the built-in video editor that’s available inside of YouTube Studio Beta. While this editor is nothing fancy, it does allow for simple trims, like if you want to trim off the beginning or ending of a video.

With a little bit of practice, you can even do some simple edits in the middle of your video. This is a great option for anyone on a budget, or who doesn’t want to be bothered with using any fancy software.

Here’s an article (and video) from YouTube on how to use their new editor.

iMovie and Windows Movie Maker

Other free options to consider are Apple’s iMovie, or Windows Movie Maker.

Since every digital device I own is made by Apple, so I can no longer attest to any Windows applications. However, I must admit that I don’t like using iMovie. For the most part, I found the program awkward to use, but it also made my final video files way too big.

Premium Editing Tools

If you want something a little more fancy, you might want to invest in professional editing software. I like to use Camtasia, which allows me to do simple and complex edits. However, I admit it can be a little too expensive for beginners.

For newbies, I often recommend Filmora 9 by Wondershare. This is a simple tool that allows you to do quite a lot of fancy stuff for a relatively cheap price. Filmora 9 works on both PC and Mac. You can download a free trial for Camtasia and Filmora 9, to check out which program works best for you.

WHERE WILL YOUR VIDEOS LIVE

Once you have created a video, you have to choose where that video will live. On your website? In YouTube? On social media? Or maybe even inside an email newsletter?

Website

Posting videos on your own website is the best place to start. Website visitors love videos and would rather watch a quick introduction or explainer video, than read through a ton of text.

SEO experts agree that having a video on your website helps increase dwell time. This gives you an SEO boost, because the Google Search engine bots, become more aware of your website when website visitors stick around for a bit.

One mistake that people often make is to upload videos directly to their website. This is not good for several reasons. First of all, many website programs are not set up to host videos. And, even if they can host and play your videos, since videos are often such big files, they can have a detrimental effect on website performance because of the time they can take to load.

Therefore, the best option is to host your videos somewhere else and then embed the videos on your website. Before you panic, keep in mind that no coding skills are needed to embed a video on your website. You simply need to copy/paste in the video’s URL or a few lines of embed code.

YouTube

The most popular place to host your videos is with YouTube. It’s the king of video. YoYouTube is probably the most common choice because there is no limit on the number of videos you can upload. Embedded YouTube videos don’t effect your website’s page speed. It costs nothing to set up and run a YouTube channel.

Best of all, YouTube is the 2nd most popular search engine in the world (only second to Google), so when people find your videos on YouTube, this is a great way to drive traffic back to your website.

The biggest con of hosting embedded YouTube videos on your website is that at the end of the video, other videos will be suggested for the viewer to watch next. The suggested videos will not necessarily be your videos, which could distract your viewers.

Because of these negatives, many website owners like to use a premium web video hosting program.

One important note about using YouTube to host your videos. Before you upload your videos to YouTube, you will need to set up a YouTube Channel. While this is not difficult, there are quite a number of steps involved. So be sure to set aside some time to take care of that first.

To set up a YouTube channel, you will need to have Google account. You can choose a unique name for your YouTube channel. If possible, try to choose the same name you use for your business. When setting up your channel, you will be able to totally customize your channel by adding graphics, detailed description, links to your website, and even a custom watermark (to help protect your videos from pirates).

Every business should take advantage of using YouTube to market their business. It’s an excellent way to capture the attention of strangers.

One final note, is that YouTube allows you to customize the privacy settings for your videos. You can set videos to be private, unlisted, and public.

  • Public videos are searchable and accessible by anyone.
  • Unlisted videos are not searchable, which means that only the people that have the link can access the videos.
  • Private videos allow you to restrict viewing rights to only select Google users.

Note, if you share a private video with someone who does not have a Google account, they will not be able to access the video.

Finally, because YouTube allows you to store an unlimited number of videos on your channel, it’s a great resource for storing all of your videos. Since videos are such large files, they can take up a lot of space on your computer’s hard drive. The Launch4Life team likes to store our Zoom recording in YouTube.

Premium Hosting Options

Wistia and Vimeo are both great choices for premium hosting. Both programs offer a limited forever free program. If your video needs are somewhat simple, you may be able to stay on their free program forever. I highly recommend both services and find that they really give your website a professional look and feel.

In direct contrast to YouTube, premium video hosting programs don’t really supply you with new traffic.

Wistia’s free plan allows you to upload up to 3 videos total. They also have a monthly bandwidth limit of 15GBs (which is about 2,300 views of a 1 minute video). Wistia is a great service if you only need to embed a few videos on your website.

Vimeo’s free plan allows you to upload up to 500 MB of video content per week, with a total limit of 5 GB. This is my favorite video hosting platform. It is easy to use for embedding videos on websites AND it is the only video hosting that allows you host a video inside a MailChimp landing pages.

We just recently started using a new program called VidYard. They too have a free forever plan. What’s nice about this program is that they allow you to upload an unlimited number of videos and embed up to 5 videos on your website. That’s pretty generous. They also you to create video playlists and share your videos in emails and on social media. Moving forward, I will continue to test using this video hosting program some more, as it looks quite promising.

Social Media

Posting video to any of the social media platforms is a great way to stand out from the crowd. Social Media users love video and prefer to engage with videos more than standard posts that consist of text and graphics.

Whether you decide to post a video to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., it’s important to only post native video. What that means is that you actually want to upload your video directly to that specific social media platform.

The goal of all social media platforms is to keep their users on their particular platform. Which is why, if you upload video directly to that platform, instead of just including a link to a video on your website or YouTube, you will be rewarded with more organic reach.

This simply means that the social media platform pushes out natively uploaded videos to a greater number of people. For instance, with LinkedIn, native videos are not only shown to your 1st level connections, but also to 2nd and 3rd level connections. Wow, that’s a whole bunch of people.

Email

First of all, please know that it is never wise to try and email anyone a video as an attachment. Videos files are naturally very big files (even short ones) and therefore your email provider will either prevent you from sending it, or prevent the recipient from receiving it.

So if you want to send someone a video to watch, you want to send them the link to wherever you have hosted the video online. Every video hosting program will provide you with a shareable link that you can copy/paste into any email message you send out.

If you’d like to share a video in your email newsletter, storing your video in YouTube is the best option. Email programs like MailChimp (our favorite) integrate so easily with YouTube that when you copy in the link, the thumbnail image of the video is automatically displayed in your email message.

IMPORTANCE OF CLOSED CAPTIONS

It is very important to add closed captions to your videos, especially if you post your videos on Social Media.

First, it’s just the right thing to do. Adding closed captions is inclusive and makes your videos accessible to everyone. People who have hearing disabilities, or are visually challenged (and use a screen reader), require videos having closed captions.

Further, as a result of recent Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) court cases, accessibility laws also apply to the internet. This means that businesses with web content that aren’t accessible to the disabled can and are being sued. So now more than ever, it is imperative for all of us to understand what is needed to make our videos ADA compliant.

For a deeper dive into the legalities and best practices of closed captioning, check out this article: https://www.section508.gov/create/video-social

Okay, so now that we know closed captions are important, what exactly are they?

Closed captions (sometimes referred to as subtitles) are the text displayed at the bottom of the screen on a video. They are a word-for-word accounting of everything that is being said in a video. Bonus points, for whenever the text also describes additional sounds, such as a doorbell ringing, dog barking, or jazzy music playing.

Closed captioning is also a must for all viewers on social media videos. By default, most social media platforms display videos with the sound turned off. So, if you want anyone to stop scrolling through the newsfeed and watch your video, they need to know what’s going on in a video. Closed captioning can be the secret sauce to make your videos stand out from the crowd.

Finally, closed captions can also give your videos an SEO boost. When you add closed captions, the Google Search engine bots “read” the closed captions and can better serve up your website as the best search result.

So now that we know closed captions are important, how to we go about creating them? There are several options available, that range from free to fairly in-expensive.

The most popular method by far is to use YouTube’s free and automatic subtitle tools. Simply upload your video to YouTube and a word-for-word accounting of everything said in your video. Surprisingly, YouTube does a pretty good job of matching speech to text. For any words it didn’t get right, you are free to go in and make any necessary edits.

Once you are done, you can download the SRT file and upload it to wherever you plan to post your video.

To learn more about subtitles, watch this video: https://youtu.be/ulUpAw46H0c

Here are two additional resources to create closed caption files for your videos.

Veed.io

A cool tool I’ve just recently started looking at is Veed.io. They have a nifty online tool for easily creating subtitles. If you want to create subtitles for your videos, there is no charge and you don’t even need to set up an account. This is a great way to create subtitles in just a matter of seconds.

Rev.com

Finally, if you are looking for a done-for-you closed captioning service, I highly recommend Rev.com. At a price of $1 per minute, it’s a great option.

SUMMING IT ALL UP

If you’ve made it down to the bottom of this blog post, you will realize there is a LOT to do to get started with using video to market your business with video. However, as you can see it’s really just a series of baby steps. None of this is brain surgery and you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get started.  

My biggest suggestion is to start right where you are and just do one simple video. If I had to recommend the EASIEST tool to use, it would be Loom. You can very easily create simple videos, using your webcam and computer screen.

Remember, I created a YouTube video to walk your through how to use Loom. So you’ve got no excuse for not being able to use it.

If you sign up for a free Loom account, share your first video with us by sending us an email with the link. We’d be happy to give you some feedback. 

If you are feeling totally overwhelmed with video and aren’t sure which baby step to take first, then I suggest you reach out to the Launch4Life team and book a free 15 minute consultation. No obligation. Just 15 minutes of constructive consultation to help you get on the right path to marketing your business with video.

Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

SEO Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Countdown For Next Year’s Business Planning

Countdown For Next Year’s Business Planning

lonely entreprenuer

As we end the year, I always consider Thanksgiving as the beginning of my countdown. It is my favorite holiday of the year and I traditionally host a large group of family and friends, anywhere between 10 and 18. Yikes but so wonderful. But it is also starts the clock for the end of the year. Once the turkey leftovers are eaten, no matter what business I have been in, my clock is set to create next year’s business planning.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner

Business Planning Strategy

This is a fast and furious time to complete any last-minute goals and create new plans for the next year.

First up

is completing sales goals or as I call it “dialing for dollars”. Finding all those last-minute sales to finish off the year with a flourish. This may be why “Black Fridays” were created.

Second

is taking thoughtful time to create new business plans for the following year. From deciding to double down on what has worked well, or trashing something and starting anew. This is the time to rethink what worked well this year and what you need to change for next year.

  • Taking time to create your next year’s business plan is very critical. Without it, next year’s business can be set up for failure.
  • You have to do a thorough review of your present year’s plan and analyze what worked, what didn’t and map against current market trends and competition.
  • Technology changes. Social media platforms change. New programs are available. You have to incorporate into your future plans.
  • As your business evolves, you may need to purchase new software, hire staff, and take other steps that will impact your growth.
  • Very important and often overlooked is — you need to consider if you are doing what you love. If not, what can you change so you do?

Our Strategy:

For example, with us, we see the main focus of our business in three areas. We always examine each year by these three goals. #1 passion, #2 lifestyle choice, and #3 profitability. Not necessarily in that order, but all three key components need to be evident.

#1 Passion

We love coaching our clients. Besides seeing how our advice is making a difference in their business lives, we love the interaction. We love the creativity we can bring to the table to help someone transform their business to reach and exceed their own sales goals. Sometimes it is also about streamlining their marketing, so they have more quality time for their business and personal life. So, for us, we need to examine if we are working with the right clients and making the difference that we want to make. We want it to be a passionate experience.

#2 Lifestyle Choice

Our objective is to become digital marketing nomads. So, our processes and services we offer must be compatible with the lifestyle we are striving for. This is a big one for us. Each year, we have seen our business model change as we evolve to this lifestyle we envision.

If we don’t like what we are doing. If it is not creating passion for us every day, we want to rethink it. We both like to travel and enjoy our motto of “laptop will travel”, so having a business that is portable is paramount to us.

#3 Profitability

Obviously, we need to eat and pay our airplane bills, so we must generate a certain income. We need to be sure that our services reflect the amount of time and expense we put into them. Where we can leverage courses or group sessions to offset the time we spend on personal coaching is important.

Ideas for Your Business Planning

So, if our business doesn’t support those three focuses, things have to change. Each year we make new tweaks to support our goals. With that in mind, we have decided this year that we will need to overhaul our services. We will be narrowing our focus on particular marketing strategies and to a specific audience. This requires offering specific services with a narrower people niche. We will be focused on a more process driven structured approach. This will allow us to provide support on a deeper level with those that are the right candidates for our services. It also requires adding new staff.

With that in mind, we have been strategizing and making adjustments to reflect our new goals. We are making updates to our website with a new message, creating a new lead magnet, etc. to reach our specific avatar.

If you have not thought about the pros and cons of your business and where it is going for next year, I highly suggest you do some soul searching like we did.

  • Take a look at your goals. Does your business support you the way you want it to?
  • Are you having fun?
  • What changes may you need to create to have a powerful successful new year.
  • Does your messaging need to change?
  • Do you need to change or add new services?
  • Is your website out of date?
  • Are you attracting the right audience?
  • Have you thought about how to incorporate SEO next year?
  • Will you need to make a financial investment in your business?
  • Determine what new skills and specific courses may be required.

We are on the countdown for next year’s business planning. So should you be on a countdown. We all have one month left to kick off for next year’s success. Let’s go.

 

If you liked this blog post we encourage you to read this related post: 13 Principles for Achieving Success in Life

Janet Elie Launch4Life

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

How to Create a New Launch Marketing Plan

How to Create a New Launch Marketing Plan

Yoda wants to know if you are coachable

When you have a new launch marketing plan, the next step is to create marketing campaigns. That is so important. This will help launch new products or services or relaunches. It needs to be specific, timely and have a call to action at the end.

The marketing plan needs action. Creating individual marketing campaigns will do that. The campaign is the actual process from start to finish in steps. Each campaign needs to be tactical. You may want a campaign for a Facebook or Google Ad, an email sequence, or invitation to a workshop or webinar. The results should be definable. What’s your goal – new prospects, new sales, or new email subscribers?

New Launch Marketing Plan vs. Marketing Campaign

  • A marketing plan provides a high level strategy based on the business’s objectives over a period of time.
  • Your campaign should be a focused, tactical initiative to achieve a specific goal.
  • The campaign must have a work flow. This includes a step-by-step process. It focuses on execution and the resources needed to achieve measurable results.

How to Create a Marketing Campaign

Before you start your marketing campaign, you will want to map out the process step by step. Create a work flow. Here are some guidelines.

Purpose of the Campaign

Decide what the purpose of the campaign is. Because this will determine how you will know if you are successful. For example: number of people to a webinar, new signups to your email list, buying your new online course. You may be spending money for this campaign. So being specific is important as you want to realize the return on investment. You may learn in the process what you need to alter in the next campaign.

Know Your Target Audience

Many business owners need to fine tune their target market. Importantly, you may have more than one target market for different products or services you offer. Make sure the campaign is identifying what the customer needs. Show how your solution is best. Know where to find them – which social media platforms or specific people on your email list. Select the demographics, behaviors, or location or call to action.

Make sure your message is clear for the target market of your campaign. What are you offering that is going to make a difference to that issue?

I recently created a Facebook Campaign for someone and we ran two ads. The audience and location was the same. But there was two different call to actions. One was for a workshop the other was for a personal coaching session. Each had its own call to action and was designed for two different Avatars. One that was interested in a workshop. One that wanted one-on-one coaching.

 

Avatar Workbook

 

If you have not defined your AVATAR as we call it, you will be shooting in the dark. You may want to use our AVATAR Workbook to get specific on who you are targeting. A good campaign to the wrong audience is a disaster. The workbook explains how to create a target market and your ideal customer. Downloading instructions are below.

Incentives

What inducement will you offer to get them to do what you want? You always need to provide some value in advance of getting them to buy or sign up. It could be a workshop, email list, paid webinar, online course, book, coaching package. You may need to create a freebie or gift. Choose a lead magnet like a PDF, a free course, a quiz, a free webinar. The value shows your authority and understanding of the issue of your avatar.

Communicating Your Campaign

What medium will you use to get the word out on your campaign. Once you know your target market, you can select the social media platform they hang out on. Where are they, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or YouTube? Or are you targeting them on Google? If you are selecting people in your email list, you can target by location or other tags that you have set up. Is your purpose to drive them to landing page or signup?

Use of a Landing Page

You should only use a landing page for your campaign. Sending them to your website is a disaster. They can get derailed or too many clicks. Your landing page will be specific to the offer you are making. Everything they need to know about your offer should be on the landing page and it should not be too long. We all hate long sales letters. It should show social proof, authority, and build trust. Tell them the problem, show them the solution, how you help, lead them to the call to action.

Many email platforms have built in landing pages to help you with that. We use WordPress and they also have landing pages. But the choice is yours. Pick one. Don’t send them to your website. If you want them buy something, you can link it to your Buy button. Make it easy for them to understand and buy.

Patience – Schmooze Your Prospect

It takes time for someone to buy. They probably won’t buy first time they see what you are offering. So, create an email sequence that will drip on them until they are comfortable to buy. We call that nurturing. You are slowly showing them how your offer will help their lives. Sometimes people need to hear it a few times in different ways. An automated email sequence will be critical to that nurturing.

Analysis After Campaign

Once the campaign is complete, go through your process and see what went well and where you could have improved. Did you meet your goals?

Do you need to improve your target audience? Did you use the right interests, right geography, right content, or even alluring graphics?

Do you need a better scripted landing page? Did you buy ads for the right amount of time?

Use that knowledge for your next campaign.

Each marketing campaign must be crafted carefully to get the results you need.

I hope this article has been helpful. It will help you turn your marketing plan into a new launch marketing plan. You can plan your next marketing campaign. Each campaign you launch will foster part of your marketing plan. So you get the results you want.

AVATAR WORKBOOK – Complimentary

Target Market

AVATAR Workbook

Feel you need a little help defining your Avatar. Do you want to know the difference between your Target Market and Avatar? Then you will benefit by our AVATAR workbook. You may have more than one Avatar and you need to list them for each campaign. We made our workbook easy to use, it is editable so no printing required.

It’s absolutely free. So all you have to do is click here for the AVATAR Workbook.

Janet Elie Launch4Life

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Your Marketing Action Plan

Your Marketing Action Plan

mapping out your marketing action plan

Do you have a MAP – a Marketing Action Plan? If you are like most small business owners, chances are you don’t. You might have drafted up a formal business plan when your business was born. Then again, you might be like the rest of us that started our businesses by “winging it.”

So many businesses begin as a result of a great idea. You see a need for the product or service you offer. So you build a nice website, create some social media accounts, and wait for customers to show up and buy. Instead of hearing the cha-ching of the cash register, we’re serenaded with crickets. Yep, no website visitors.

Or you have lots of customers, but they’re for the wrong product or service. While you’d rather they buy your big ticket items, they’d rather buy what you’d rather not sell.

Alice in Wonderland wondering which road to take

Alice in Wonderland – Walt Disney

Which Way Should I Go?

They say that if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get your there.

That’s true with the way we run our businesses. If want to get to a specific destination, we have to be on the right road. And, if we want to ensure we are heading in the right direction – we need a MAP. A Marketing Action Plan.

If you want to get from one destination to the next, you need a plan. Better yet, you need a map. With a map, you can see where you are now and where you want to be.

What is a Marketing Action Plan?

A Marketing Action Plan is a holistic way to market your business. Many business owners do not take the time to look at the big picture first. Instead, they do bits and pieces that don’t always connect. You should zoom out first and look at the entire roadmap.

A marketing roadmap helps you create a strategy that works best for you. It takes into account your vision, goals, budget, and time. Because it includes all the parts of your marketing plan, it helps you stay focused.

Anytime you feel confused with where you are in your marketing journey, pull over. A quick glance at your MAP might be all you need to get back on track. When you know where you are, you’re in a better position to know where you’re heading.

Marketing Action Plan – Examples

Marketing roadmaps are flexible. They can be simple or complex. They can include several destinations along the way, or only a few. Here’s some of the typical destinations:

• Website

• Social Media

• Email Marketing

• Advertising

• Search Engine Optimization

However, I see them more like stepping stones to help you reach your ultimate destination. Your final destination should be the vision you have of what success will look like for you.

At Launch4Life our ultimate goal is to be able work from the road. Our ideal workspace is location independence. Which is why our motto is “have laptop will travel.” When we keep our ultimate goal in the forefront, we find it’s easier to make a decision. Each time we come to a fork in the road we ask “Will this allow or prevent us from traveling?” We only take action on the business decisions that support our ultimate destination.

Creating Your Marketing Action Plan

Start out by taking some time out to think of what you want. Think about where you want to be in your business this time next year, or even better, five years from now. This is more than thinking about how much money you want to be making. Instead, it’s more about how you want to be making it.

For instance, imagine you’re a life coach with a somewhat steady stream of online. But, you’ve grown tired of meeting clients every day via Skype. You yearn for the day that you could spend an afternoon doing art, going for a hike, or reading a novel.

That life coach needs a vision of what they could do to create passive income. They might get more bang for their buck by offering group coaching. Writing a self-help book. Or creating an online course.

Passive income would be their vision. What they’d need next would be the road map to get them there. That’s where a Marketing Action Plan comes in.

Your Marketing Action Plan should include:

· What specific actions need to occur to reach your vision?

· Who on your team will carry out each of these actions?

· When do these actions need to happen?

· What resources do you need to carry out these actions?

Once you have all that figured out, you will see that all those stepping stones fit together to create a path. This is your MAP – Marketing Action Map.

Now all you have to do is keep moving along following the MAP – one step at a time. Even if the steps are small, as long as you keep moving forward you will be making progress towards your vision.

The End Result

When you have a vision, you will always know where you’re going. Armed with a Marketing Action Map you will have the means to get  where you want to be.

The greatest part of having a Marketing Action Plan is how it will empower you. You will be more in charge of your daily activities. You will stop feeling so overwhelmed about both your present and your future. Your marketing efforts will be in manageable baby steps. As you move from step to step, you will be on track to reach your final destination.

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Yelp Reviews: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Yelp Reviews: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Yelp Reviews: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Yelp Reviews

Did you know that customer reviews are a huge contributor to get you top Google rankings? Many consumers look at Yelp reviews. They also look at others like Facebook, Google My Business, Angie’s List, and Thumbtack. You have to look at The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Sometimes we don’t like the negative feedback reviews. They aren’t always 5 stars. But here is a tip. It is not so much the review, but how you respond. If you ignore it, you deserve the review. You didn’t bother to reply. Either an apology or an explanation, will improve your image to potential customers. They don’t always expect a glowing review. But they sure do look at how you handled one.

Responding to reviews will also improve your SEO. Did you know Google will give you a higher ranking if you respond to your reviews, whether good or bad?

Yelp recently won a battle with the Supreme Court of California. It was about removing a negative Yelp review, a case between a law firm and one of its customers. Yelp fought it based on the principal of internet free speech. Here is the article. You be the judge.

https://www.yelpblog.com/2018/07/a-case-for-the-internet-hassell-v-bird

I love Yelps’ response at the end:

As we have observed before, litigation is never a good substitute for customer service and responsiveness and had the law firm avoided the courtrooms and moved on, it would have saved time and money, and been able to focus more on the cases that truly matter the most — those of its clients.

This fiasco reminded me of a blog article I wrote last year.  I think under these circumstances, it bears repeating.

Lemonade out of Lemons: Handling a Bad Review

Do you freak out or become angry if someone writes a bad review about your business?  You worked so hard and yet some of the people that receive your services didn’t feel they had a good experience.  It’s like a soccer punch to the gut.  How do you not take it personal, it’s your business your passion, your life!  Can you turn those negative comments and feelings of rejection into something positive? Yes, making lemonade out of lemons?

Bad Review

This Review is Killing Me

A study by Northwestern University stated, “consumers think a business is more credible if it has a mix of good and bad reviews”.  Yes, they want to see some bad reviews.  If consumers only see shining accolades, it can actually damage your image.  It creates skepticism.  Are all those reviews real? No business is perfect.  You cannot possible meet expectations of all your customers.  When consumers review bad reviews, they look to see how the business owner responded.  The response is the most important element. Positive customer service is what people are looking for.  They want to see how you handled it.

Not responding is deadly to a business owner.  The consumer may think you don’t care.  Or you will be judged “guilty” as charged.  Even if you think the review was not justified. Or someone being obnoxious. It might be someone writing on behalf of a competitor. You MUST respond.  If it is a legitimate complaint, own up to it. Take responsibility in the comment. Take this opportunity to say, “Mr. or Ms. Customer you are right” and then offer to fix it.  If you think it is bogus, try to find a diplomatic way to address the review. Your customers will see that the complaint was not realistic. For example, you could say in a nice way “my style is a different than XX and so unfortunately we may not be a good fit.”

The good thing about reviews is that they are not usually anonymous.  Example if it is a Yelp or Facebook Page review, you will see who sent it.  They may not use their own name. But you have the ability to send that account holder a response, public or private message. Even if you prefer to send them a private message, make sure you write a public comment first. This way others can see you responded.  You can say something like “hey David, I got your review and would like to dialogue about your grievance.  Love to send you a private message? I aim to please my customers”.  Your viewers will see that comment. They’ll know you are going to take care of David, even if David’s complaint was not justified.  Or you could say in the comment “David, stop in or give me a call so we can resolve the issue. Your complaint is important to me”.

The last thing to remember about responding to negative reviews:  Don’t wait.  Waiting is deadly.  Don’t let 24 hours pass beyond a bad review. If not, consumers are already making judgements and it isn’t good.

Social Media has changed the entire playing field today.  Everything that everyone writes good and bad is out there for the entire world to see.  You can’t hide so turn it to your advantage.  By the way, if you get an awesome review, go ahead and comment on those as well.  Someone took the time to write to share their great experience.  Let them know you appreciate it.  People do check out reviews in helping them make decisions about who they want to do business with.

Use your reviews to improve your customer service and make a better product or service. Respond to your positive and negative reviews as fast as possible.  It helps your customers know you, like you, and trust you and that is the name of the game.

Have some sweet lemonade.

Janet Elie Launch4Life

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Entrepreneurial Lessons Learned On Vacation

Entrepreneurial Lessons Learned On Vacation

Entrepreneurs can be found in many places with all sorts of career focuses. While recently vacationing with my husband on an Alaskan Cruise I had the privilege of discovering a new entrepreneurial type, the “tour guide”. For those of you who have never cruised, at each port of call, you can select a choice of many excursions for your day ashore.

My prior cruises were to the south where tour guides work all year round. Many times, English is their second language which consequently often limits the personal discussions. Touring Alaska was a totally different story. Tour guides for cruises are limited to a 6-month time frame. Most of the tour guides we met were seasonal residents of Alaska and their first language was English. A lot easier to have a good conversation.

Though technically they were employed by some touring adventure company, or the cruise company, it was on a contractual basis which allowed them to pick their availability.  Of course, since for most of them this was their yearly bread and butter, they usually worked 6 days a week to maximize their income.  Tips are a large component to their income so the experience they deliver is critical.

So, what made them be entrepreneurs even though they contracted with a company?  This was discovered in the stories they offered.  We are talking a pretty cold place in the winter and so many of them choose to hoof it after the cruise season ends.  Many went home, some went to sunny places south, or some like our tour guide Rhonda traveled to exotic places.  Others used that time to pursue additional education, some focused on writing a book, or creating art.  I consider this an entrepreneurial life.

As I listened to their stories, I fantasied living their life.  Making people happy, sharing local history and geography, telling stories. I am sure it’s not all as glamorous as it sounded.  But oh what fun to lead a hike to a glacier……until I ran in to the big grizzly bear!!!!

Ok. Back to reality. Each of us entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes.  We offer different products and services.  One of the things I noticed was that these guides were always promoting themselves and their company.  You would think we are “one” visit and done, but I am sure the thought is we are networking opportunities to encourage others to sign up for their tours.  I was offered business cards to give a review on Trip Advisor, or “like” on their Facebook Business Page, sign up for a photo contest, all to stay connected and share my positive experience with others. Even guides use online marketing.

Entrepreneurs at the Dog Musher Camp love working with their dogs

One last thing, we noted many other kinds of entrepreneurs in Alaska: shop keepers, fishermen, hunters, gold miners, dog sled mushers and handlers, and more. Learning about dog sled mushers is another incredible story.  Wow! I wouldn’t want to live in a place so cold in the winter, but I am glad that my business allows me to travel there. Thank goodness. It’s the best part of my life.  Work and play on my terms.  Does your business support the lifestyle you want?  Find your passion and interest and build your business around it so you love what you do and it gives you the lifestyle you desire.

 

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

What in the World Is GDPR?

What in the World Is GDPR?

Are you ready for GDPR? Do you even know what GDPR is? Well, if you use email marketing to promote your business, listen up. GPDR is being implemented on May 25, 2018. If you have ANY European customers – you need to know about this.

The General Data Protection (GDPR) is a new Europen Union data protection and privacy regulation. It specifically protects the export of personal data outside the EU. The intention of the new law is to give Europeans more control over their personal information. How this affects American businesses is that our email marketing practices must now take into account these regulations.

One component of the regulation is that you MUST have verifiable consent for any European email subscribers on your list. This means you need written documentation on when and how your European prospects and/or customers agreed to be on your email list.

 

 

For the most part, if you are already working with a professional email marketing provider they’ve probably got your back. As a MailChimp customer, the Launch4Life team has already received several emails and blog posts alerting us to this new regulation. Since MailChimp already has strict rules in place about having verifiable consent for all email subscribers – for us it’s business as usual.  However, if you haven’t heard anything from your email marketing provider, we suggest you get in touch with them ASAP. You just want to make sure there’s no change to your standard email marketing protocol.

The implementation of GDPR next month is is just another reason to make sure you never manually add people to your email list without their consent. With all the SPAM regulations that are currently in place in the U.S. and Canada, and soon Europe, there is obviously a growing need to protect people’s privacy.

 

 

Last week I received an email from a business colleague I know in Toastmasters. He sent the email to me and 148 other people. He used his Gmail account and put all of our names and personal email addresses in the TO field. I let him know how upset I was with what he had done. He not only gave my email address away to 148 people I don’t now, but also made me vulnerable to any SPAM bot programs residing on their computers. Doing things like this is not cool.

Always remember that if someone gives you their email address it should be treated with confidence and respect. Practice the golden rule of email marketing – “market to others as you would have them market to you.”

As we entrepreneurs and independent business professionals expand our customer base globally, it’s imperative we “play by the rules” at home and abroad. For this very reason, it helps to at least know the basics of GDPR now before it’s implemented next month.

 

GDPR Resources

 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

*A helpful guide (in plain english) from the folks at MailChimp

 

Data Protection: Rule for the protection of personal data inside and outside the EU

*Full text of the GDPR

 

 

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

You Can’t Do it All Yourself

You Can’t Do it All Yourself

 ….even if you want to try!

Joan is a real estate agent.  Joan’s income is derived from house sales.  Her focus is securing listings or having her customers buy a home.  All she needs to do is get people to purchase a home. If only her life was that simple.  Unfortunately, there are many other things she needs to do in order for those houses to be sold.

She needs online marketing to find referrals.  She needs to use social media and mailer materials to find new prospects.  She must offer extras to make herself stand out from her competitors.  She must keep in touch with her current customers for repeat business or referrals. This requires a website, an email platform, a CRM, social media sites that all need to be built and maintained.  Lastly there is administrative work: creating the MLS process, as well as orchestrating the closing documents.  How does she handle all of these tasks?  There are a few that come easy to her because of her expertise and passion, but there are some she may not excel at or she just hates to do.  If she has a partner, they can divvy up the responsibilities.  But if Joan is a solopreneur real estate agent, what does she do?  She can’t do it all herself …even if she wanted to try.  There are just not enough hours in the day, nor does she have the expertise or knowledge for some of what is needed to drive her sales.

Many of us entrepreneurs are in the same boat as Joan.  Our talents and passion are focused on the particular product or service we want to offer. For example, if you are a chef and decide to run a catering business, you are an expert at cooking, but probably lack skills at online marketing, business management or bookkeeping.  If you don’t have the time or inclination to learn these skills, your only option is to hire someone to do those things for you.  But what if you don’t have a physical office for someone to work at?   A virtual assistant may be your answer.

So, what is a virtual assistant and how do I find one? A virtual assistant is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely from their home or an office not yours.  You will pay them by the hour, or the project.  These people can range from an accountant, bookkeeper, web manager, email marketer, content writer, social media manager, ad manager and more.  They may possess highly technical skills so can create websites or manage your Facebook ads, or they may have customer service skills and can make sales calls.  Or they may be good at updating your CRM and send out your thank you cards. You may be smarter to hire someone to build your email platform or website no matter the cost just because someone will be better at it than you. Saves you a lot of time and eliminates the stress.

In my last corporate job, I hired a virtual assistant for 4 years.  I paid her out of my own pocket to manage a lot of behind the scene things that helped my business run smoothly.  This allowed me more time for the things I could do well to drive sales.

If they have the right expertise, your virtual assistant can be a spouse, a family member or friend.  Or there are several agencies out there that function like an employment agency.  They match you with the right person for your task.   Or you can look for individual people offering services on places like Craigslist or through Meetups or Facebook Groups.  Perhaps you can barter your services with someone else’s who needs your help and you need theirs.

Joan needs to focus her energy on closing home sales.  Joan may need several virtual assistants.  One can handle administrative responsibilities.  One can manage her website and social media.  One can handle her bookkeeping.  The goal is to allow Joan to focus on being an extraordinary real estate agent. Makes sense right!

If you, like Joan, feel as if you are in overwhelm, maybe it is time to take inventory.  What do you like best about what you do? What do you hate?  What do you struggle with?  Decide what is the best use of your time.  Find a virtual assistant for the rest.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

December is National Write Your Business Plan Month!

December is National Write Your Business Plan Month!

Is Your 2018 Business Plan Finished???

We are two weeks away from 2018 and besides St. Nick checking to see if we have been naughty or nice (kidding), he is finishing up his business plan for 2018. Are you?  If I asked for a show of hands on who has not, my guess is that many people would raise their hand and say, not yet. These are the most common responses: “Too busy now”, “I will get to it later in January”, or “Its really not that important”. Lots of other reasons I am sure. But, it is one of the most crucial things we as business people need to do every year. Here is my perspective on it and from someone who has faithfully completed a business plan every year before January. By doing this exercise each year, you have an opportunity to make some powerful decisions about what you want to do in the new year.

Whether it’s changes or new goals, this process will allow you to crystallize some new and old objectives. Allow yourself to review last years business plan. Did you meet all your objectives? If you didn’t, think through why. Were they unreasonable? Did you not like doing them? Did you not have enough time or money? Take notes from last year’s plan and use that knowledge to craft this year’s new plan. Try to find some new ideas that will really make a difference. More importantly, where do you want to be this time next year and how are you going to get there? How painful it will be if those objectives you missed last year, are still on your list not done this time next year. Either make an intention to get them done, or figure out some other options. Something is holding you back, figure out why. What can you really do to inspire your planning for 2018.

I would hazard to guess that there are many people who don’t feel a business plan is necessary. Perhaps what holds that person back is a structure, or template. Maybe not sure how to executive one. The good news is only time and patience are needed. No MONEY required.

The Small Business Association and its SCORE arm offer lots of articles and ideas to help you create a business plan. With templates and the key ingredients of your plan, you with everything you need to create a great 2018 business plan. Click this link and begin the process to complete your 2018 business plan. Let 2018 be your best year yet.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

The Skinny On QR Codes

The Skinny On QR Codes

I am writing this blog post from Leeds, England, where I am enjoying the final day of a three-week vacation to the UK. Tomorrow, I begin the long journey back home as I fly to the United States from Glasgow, Scotland. My return trip will require four flights. As I am traveling without my computer (and no printer), I will be using an e-ticket to board each and every flight. There will be no bits of paper to keep track of. Just a QR code on my iPhone, that is then scanned by the flight attendant before I board the plane. QR codes are being used by businesses everywhere. However, it’s not just big companies that are taking advantage of this high tech method of communication. Throughout my travels in the UK, I noticed tons of small businesses using QR codes to promote themselves. Just in case you’re not familiar with the term, a QR code is a special type of barcode that was first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. This barcode label contains digitalised information about the item to which it is attached. This information can range from a telephone number, email address, website address, etc. The sky is the limit.  

Several weeks ago, when I was preparing our weekly newsletter, I noticed the email marketing program we use, MailChimp, allows you to generate a QR code to promote your email signup form. The QR code can be used on any marketing material you have (ex. brochure, direct mailer, flyer, etc.), allowing your customers to easily sign up for your email list. Of course, your customer will need some sort of QR/Barcode reader to scan the code.  However, with the widespread use of mobile devices, everyone has access to a scanner. Barcode reading apps are plentiful for any phone or tablet and are free to download. Simply do a search for “barcode reader” in the App Store of your mobile device. While I have been traveling through the UK, I noticed many small businesses using QR codes as a marketing tool.  Even in the remote Highlands of Scotland, I saw QR codes everywhere.  A small bakery I stopped at had QR codes on their business cards, price list, and even their car.  Everything supported the same call to action… “Find Us on Facebook'”

If you are interesting in generating a QR code to put on your marketing materials, you might be wondering what you need to get started?  Luckily, it’s easy to create a QR code, and it’s free.  I suggest using a program called QR Code Generator, where you can choose to link your QR code to a wide range of materials.  Once your unique QR code is created, you simply download it as a graphic (Such as a .png or .jpg file) and place it in your document (ex. a Word file or web page).  Now anyone who has a digital device that reads QR codes (ex. mobile phone, tablet, etc.) can use any number of free apps to scan the code in. QR CODE GENERATOR

In summary, it’s not just the big dog companies that can take advantage of these slick new marketing tools. Now, the little guy can too. There is no limit to where you can use a QR code. Well, except in your own imagination. Previously, on our drive from Utah to Washington for our flight to the UK, I noticed the proprietor of a gas station had posted a sign to generate feedback about the cleanliness of their restrooms. Instead of instructing visitors to submit their comments to the cashier, they posted a QR code. Smart thinking! I challenge you to think about how you too can begin using QR codes to market your business.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

What Keeps Your Customers Up At Night?

What Keeps Your Customers Up At Night?

Do you have the kind of product that solves someone’s problems?  If they had what you offer might they sleep a little better at night?

I suppose if you run a hair salon or a pizza shop you might chuckle and say, “well that’s not me, I don’t help them sleep better.”  Or do you? If you run a hair salon and you gave someone a stunning braided hair style and then she had a wonderful “princess” evening, don’t you think she would sleep like a baby with a smile on her face?

Or if they stopped by your shop for a pizza   to take care of that grumbly tummy. That would let let them sleep well, right? All of us in our own way have a product or service that can help a customer so they don’t have to stay up all night worried.

So now that we know that we have at least one customer who we can help have a good night’s sleep, who is that customer?  It certainly isn’t everyone.   Not everyone is going to like your pizza.  Not everyone is going to like your style of haircuts.  If only certain people like your pizza, who are they?  Just a select group, right!  Many marketing gurus say, “the smaller the niche, the better”.  The more defined the niche is, the more targeted your message can be, especially for your online marketing messages.  Why waste your time, energy and money on targeting people that are not interested in what you sell?

Part of my services is conducting Facebook and Website Audits.  I notice that some of my customers know who their customer is, but I don’t see that in their social media posts, emails, lead magnets, or even website.  In fact, sometimes I say, “I can’t tell who your customer is?” Potential customers may think the same or assume they are “not” your customer and move on.  That is not good.

Here are two suggestions to make sure that you don’t have the same problem.  #1 Define and I mean de-fine your perfect customer.  Make it as “nichy” as possible.  You have more than one customer type but don’t lump them together.  Separate them.  Then choose the one that is most profitable to you.  Make them your #1 priority, and then the others in descending order. Perhaps you will market to one type on Facebook and another on Twitter.

Once that is done begin #2 audit your own online messages.  Better yet, ask someone to look at them objectively for you.  Can you see your #1 customer in your posts and your website, meaning will I know who your customer is?  Consider not only your words, but your colors.  Knowing the psychology of color will attract or repel certain people.  Are your online newsletters easy to read, or are they too busy. Do they look good on mobile?  Millennials rarely look at posts or emails on laptops. They skim quickly.  If they are your audience, don’t go in for a long sales letter.  They will never read it.  Pictures and just captions will be better for them.  If you audience is seniors, text is good.  They will probably read on their computers but don’t make the type small.  Hard to read.  I think you get the idea.  Last word here on images.  Pick images that attract your customer.  If you are a realtor and you are selling to families, don’t have only million-dollar homes on your posts or website.  Those younger people will run for the hills or another broker feeling intimidated.

I would like to finish up this blog focusing on #1 your ideal customer.  In the online marketing world, we call it an “AVATAR”.  It’s a digital computerized person.  Some of you may have seen the movie “The AVATAR” and know what I mean.  You may have come across that language in other blogs.  Picture your ideal Avatar walking into your store, calling for a coaching class, buying your class, buying the house you have listed, or calling for an insurance quote.  I don’t care what business you have, we all have our ideal “avatar”.

If I asked you the question, “who is your ideal “avatar”, how fast could you share the details so I could visualize that person?  Taking it one step further, if I asked you “what keeps that avatar up at night”, would you honestly know the answer? If you aren’t sure, it is imperative you find out.  Step #1 is knowing the mechanical specifics of that avatar. Step #2 is what makes them human and have needs that your products solve.

Take out a piece of paper and start jotting some notes. Before you are done, you will know who that avatar is.  Stats: women, male, children, single people, married, divorced, geographical location, income, age – things like that.

Next write down what Issues or challenges could influence your Avatar buying your product/service. Humanize. Retiring without any idea with what they are going to do with their time. Someone unhappy with their job. Want more out of like outside of work. Could be introverts and have trouble making friends. Have just moved to a new city. May be dealing with family issues – medical or mental and need guidance. Want changes in their life but don’t know how to begin? May want to travel but really don’t have a plan or where to go? Going through a divorce.  Trouble with children. Maybe they want more money, more time, or need to learn new things quickly.  How can you help?  If I owned a pizza shop that offered a vegan and gluten-free menu, I would appeal to those people who like that food for health reasons or social conscious reasons.  My avatar sure wouldn’t be someone who eats at McDonalds.   I am a color stylist and my services are expensive, I don’t want to advertise to the little old lady who loves her white hair and lives on a fixed budget.  Which of these issues does your product solve?

Lastly, how can what you offer help your customers and make a difference to their lives?  How can you help you clients meet their dreams and goals? More fun, happier life, more income, better health!!

Hopefully, this blog is giving you some inspiration to take another look at your online messaging.  Know who your primary avatar is.  Then see if you are attracting that person.  Whether you are growing your business organically or with paid traffic, it will save you a lot of time, money and frustration.  Zero in on your best client so they can recognize and find YOU.   You can get that baby (your avatar) to sleep through the night and not cry.  Just like in this picture, happy baby with a happy Mom.

 

 

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Lemonade out of Lemons: Handling a Bad Review

Lemonade out of Lemons: Handling a Bad Review

Do you freak out or become angry if someone writes a bad review about your business?  You worked so hard and yet some of the people that receive your services whether a haircut, a meal, or purchasing a  life insurance policy didn’t feel they had a good experience.  It’s like a soccer punch to the gut.  How do you not take it personal, it’s your business your passion, your life!  How do you turn those negative comments and your feelings of rejection into something positive, yes making lemonade out of lemons.

According to a study conducted by Northwestern University, your business will actually be considered more legitimate by consumers if you have a mix of both good and bad reviews.  Yes, they want to see some bad reviews.  If consumers researching reviews only see shining accolades, it can actually damage your image.  It creates skepticism.   Surely no business is perfect.  You cannot possible meet expectations of all your customers.  But when consumers are reviewing the bad reviews, what they are looking for, is why you got the bad review and how you, the business owner responded.  The response is the most important element. Positive customer service is what people are looking for.  They want to see  how you handled it.

Not responding is unequivocally deadly to a business owner.  The consumer may think you just don’t care.  Or you will be considered “guilty” as charged.  Even if you think the review was not justified or someone just being obnoxious, or maybe they are writing on behalf of pumping up a competitor, you MUST respond.  If it is a legitimate complaint, own up to it, take responsibility in the comment, take this opportunity to say “Mr. or Ms. Customer you are right” and then offer to fix it.  If you think it is bogus, try to find a diplomatic way to address the review so that your customers will see that the complaint was not realistic, but in a nice way like “my style is a different than XX and so unfortunately we may not be a good fit.”

The good thing about reviews is that they are not usually anonymous.  Example if it is a Yelp or Facebook Page review, the person giving the bad review is indicated.  They may not be using their own name, but you have the ability to send that account holder a response, public or private message. Even if you prefer to send them a private message, make sure you write a public comment first so others can see you responded.  You can say something like “ hey David, I got your review and would like to dialogue about your grievance.  Shall I send you a private message? I aim to please my customers”.  Then your viewers will see that comment and know you are going to take care of David, even if David’s complaint was not justified.  Or you could say in the comment “David, stop in or give me a call so we can resolve the issue. Your complaint is important to me”.

The last thing to remember about responding to negative reviews:  Don’t wait.  Waiting is deadly.  If someone catches your negative review and 24 hours or more has passed, the consumers are already making a judgement about you, and it isn’t good.

Social Media has changed the entire playing field today.  Everything that everyone writes good and bad is out there for the entire world to see.  You can’t hide so turn it to your advantage.  By the way, if you get an awesome review, go ahead and comment on those as well.  Someone took the time to write to you to share their great experience.  Let them know you appreciate it.  People do check out reviews in helping them make decisions about who they want to do business with.

Use your reviews to improve your customer service and make a better product and lastly, respond to your positive and negative reviews as quickly as possible.  It helps your customers to know you, like you, and trust you and that is the name of the game.  Have some sweet lemonade.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com