Four Simple Steps to Convert Customers into Advocates

Turning satisfied customers into advocates of your services, products or brands is a very powerful marketing tool.  Every day, the influence of Social Media in purchasing decisions grows exponentially!

Your customers wield tremendous influence over their FaceBook Friends, Twitter Followers, LinkedIn Connections etc. So, how do you turn your customers into your own army of brand evangelists?

Try the old Social Media Four Step!

Step One:

Do Great Work! Always strive to exceed expectations. A delighted customer will happily tout your business to others. They’ll take great pride in having found such a great company to deal with. They will even make your company part of their own identity. Ever see that Apple logo sticker in the back window of a car (or VW Bus!)?  

Step Two:

Engage The Customer! Actively get your customers involved in your product or services. These are the folks you want advocating for you so you better be sure you’re all on the same page! Ask for their opinions about, and recommendations for, improvement to their experience with your company. By engaging your customers in the process, they will feel even more invested in you, and therefore become more willing advocates.

Step Three:

K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Silly! Make it really easy for customers to advocate on your behalf. Provide several simple resources to talk about your company.  Have a strong social media plan in place with several outlets for your customers to talk about you.  Invite them to “like” you on Facebook and write a recommendation or testimonial.

Step Four:

Ask! Let your happy, delighted customers know that you would greatly appreciate their help in spreading the word about their wonderful experience with your company. Invite them to join your LinkedIn contacts and recommend your services. Have them follow you on Twitter, comment on your blog, Pin you to their Pinterest board – whatever! By developing your company’s social media strategy you’re creating a platform for your advocates to some advocating.  Where is your company on the social media spectrum?

Step Four and a Half:

Don’t forget to set up your mostly free accounts up in business directories; i.e. Alexa, Citysearch, Merchant Circle, Yelp, etc.  These directories allow you to put in your company background information, contact information and keyword tags for search engines. Once you’re listed on these directories your brand evangelists have yet another place to can tell the world how wonderful you are!


Why Do You Need Social Media Marketing?

Social media is a growing and powerful resource for companies to enhance their brand’ offer special promotions and to keep your company engaged with your customers; you need to embrace social media! You can easily see how many promotions are being done by companies on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Digg, etc.

The first step is to set up your social media accounts and develop your company profiles.  Now the fun begins! Your company website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter presence must be updated with relevant, new content including images, text and video at regular intervals. These updates reflect the latest information about your company’s products and services.

Social media allows for interactive dialog between your company, your customers and your prospective customers. Hopefully most of this dialog will be positive, but on occasion you may need to respond to a negative comment. Social media is a great way to address a negative situation right away. By being proactive, most people will feel your company is worthy of their trust and their business and that you willingly address and solve problems, rather than ignore them.

Through your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media outlets, customers are able to write testimonials or reviews of their experience with you.  Since people are using information they find on Internet and through social media in their buying decisions, it is imperative you embrace social media, or be left behind your competition.

A strong social media marketing campaign will give the opportunity to connect with millions of potential customers from all around the world.  It is estimated that by the end of 2012, Facebook alone will have over 1 billion users!

Social media is here to stay.  You may need help in determining and implementing your social media strategy. There are many firms that specialize in this area of marketing. You should consider getting expert help to get the most bang for your buck.

More and more brands are using social media to launch new products and promotions.  View this recent report on CBS News –;flexGridModule

Direct Mail PLUS Email Marketing: A Great One-Two Punch for Small Businesses

If you’re a business with a fair amount of foot traffic coming through your door, are you collecting email addresses from your customers?

This is one of the simplest, cheapest marketing strategies to implement, but I am always surprised at how many independent businesses I frequent never bother to ask me for my email address. What’s up with that?

However, when I drop into most any chain store or restaurant for the first time, they want my address, cell number, email address and shoe size (kidding!)

Sometimes I give them what they want, other times I don’t want to be bothered – but kudos for trying! Obviously, by keeping in touch with me, they stand a better chance at future sales – and they just might be right!

Keeping existing customers as customers is a heck of a lot easier than finding new ones, but don’t take your customers for granted.

Sending out monthly email marketing specials, advance notice of events or sales, or just a simple “THANKS” for being a customer, goes a long way in keeping loyal customers.

If your business lacks foot traffic and/or lacks email addresses, a targeted direct mail marketing campaign can be highly effective in improving your situation.

While you’re sending out your direct mail, why not build a database of email addresses at the same time – the old “kill two birds with one stone” strategy.

Every effective direct mail campaign needs a compelling offer – typically a discount of some sort.

As an added incentive, have the recipient head to your website or landing page where they can submit their email address to receive an even better deal.

Now this prospect has moved one step closer to becoming an actual PAYING customer!

By submitting their email address to your site, they have also Opted-In to receive future offers from you via email.

Future Offers = Future Sales!

Sending someone on your email list an email marketing offer is considerably less expensive than mailing them one.

And as your database of email addresses grows in size, you’ll want to consider an email marketing system such as Constant Contact, Mail Chimp or any one of many such programs to manage your email marketing campaigns. The cost of these programs range from FREE to hundreds of dollars a month, based on your needs.

By the time you’d have to actually pay money to manage your email marketing – it will already be worth the investment! 

Is Your Business “Personality Challenged”?

People enjoy doing business with people, especially people they like.

If you could walk around all day just meeting people, telling them all about you and your wonderful business, you might pick up some customers.

Unless you’re an obnoxious pain in the backside!

Of course, this approach is not very practical. While you’re out gallivanting around town shaking hands, telling stories and whatnot, who’s minding the store?

Back in the day, marketing was more plainly about selling products and services. It wasn’t too hard to get noticed either. One or two newspapers, thirteen channels on the TV and no internet. (darn I’m old!)

Drop a full page ad in the local fish wrapper with a screaming headline like


In flocked the masses! People with money to burn, rushing through your door.

Ahhh, the good old days!

Today, customers are bombarded with marketing on TV, Radio, Social Media, Email, Direct Mail, Bus Wrappers, on their Smart Phones – the list goes on and on.

In order to stand out in the crowd, your business needs a personality.

One that will make a positive, lasting impression and make your business seem more like a person that customers will like.

I’m not talking about a personality like Lady Gaga or Justin Beiber wearing a sandwich board in front of your business (though who wouldn’t pay to see that!) – I mean a business personality.

Think of it like this, if your business was a person interested in dating your daughter (or son!) what sort of traits should they possess?

You’re Business as a prospective suitor.

Is your business?

SMART – You’re up on new products and services that benefit customers. You offer practical solutions to customer problems. You are knowledgeable about your industry.

SINCERE – You’re so honest, you’re willing to miss out on sale by telling a customer “I don’t think this widget isn’t for you” or “that outfit does not work for you” or “I think you should wait until the new version arrives in a few weeks” – You honestly believe in the quality of goods and services your business provides.

FUNNY – Have you ever rewound an E-Trade baby commercial? Under the right circumstances, you employ a charming sense of humor to customers – even at your own expense.

ATTRACTIVE – You’re easy on the eyes because you keep your business well maintained and you’re concerned with physical appearance. Aside from venturing into some backwoods roadhouse to enjoy a little rough & tumble on a Friday night, most people prefer dealing with a business that is clean & neat-appearing.

STABLE – Are you intending to stay around awhile, in for the long haul? Long term relationships are important to customers. They want to know you’ll be around through good times and bad.

Enough of the Dating Game, I think you get the point!

Now What?

Build your business personality into all your marketing strategies and communications.

Rather than telling customers what you want to sell them, show them how well you listen and respond to their needs. (Yes dear, I’ll take my own advice!)

Identify problems, offer solutions. Try delivering your marketing message as helpful, educational content. Show genuine enthusiasm and personality.

This approach is more subtle than outright selling and will lead customers to their own conclusion to buy something from you.

I say, add more of a personality to your business that customers respond to, remember and will happily tell their friends, family and business associates all about!

Check out to see how we can help you build business.

Find CUSTOMERS with Good Old Direct Mail

So you’re working on a marketing plan bring in more customers and increase sales for your small business. GREAT!

No doubt your marketing plan includes:

Website & SEO – Right On, Check!

Social Media – Absolutely, Check!

Email Marketing – Hit Send, Check!

Direct Mail? – Little “Old-Fashioned” for me, thanks anyway.

You should consider direct mail. In fact, direct mail is a very solid base on which to build your marketing plan.

Direct Mail is a Proven Winner for finding customers. While the overall volume of mail handled by the Post Office has declined over the years, volume of marketing mail has remained steady and effective.

With less clutter in a customer’s mailbox, your direct mail marketing will stand out. But how does direct mail stack up against the internet, search engine optimization, social media, email marketing?

Read on.

Website & Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Most businesses these days have a website. Some of these websites are good, some great, some downright horrible!

Many never get found or seen by customers due to a nonexistent or ineffective SEO strategy. There are many factors that go into being found on sites like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc., including blogging, back linking and pay-per-click advertising. If you are not prepared to make a commitment of both time and money for a strong SEO strategy, it is unlikely your website will generate sales.

A well-targeted direct mail piece will absolutely be seen by the customer who receives it, guaranteed! Resulting sales generated by an effective direct mail advertising campaign are immediate.

Social Media

Social Media marketing through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In and the next, NEXT BIG THING are always hot topics around the marketing water cooler, and for good reason.  Millions of people are visiting social media websites every day. They’re “liking”‘, “pinning”, “linking in”, watching videos, searching for long-lost old flames, etc. But are they buying? Maybe.

Social Media is a great way to spread the word about someone or something. Getting people talking, creating a BUZZ. However, when given the choice between BUZZ & BUCKS most business owners choose the latter!

As with SEO, there are strategies – both free and paid – that will affect the impact of your social media marketing efforts. And of course there is the investment of your time.

No doubt as a small business owner, time is the one thing you do NOT have enough of!

The creation and implementation of a direct mail campaign is pretty straightforward. A targeted audience of potential customers, a compelling, irresistible offer and a little help from a direct mail marketing professional , you do not need to spend very much of your own precious time.

What about Email Marketing?

Sure, you can (and should) use email marketing. It is a great way to communicate offer and events to people you already do business with. But keep in mind, customers who do not know you react very differently to an email message than they do a piece of direct mail. Unlike an image flickering on a computer screen, a direct mail piece is engaging and memorable. An envelope or self-mailer brochure needs to be opened, a catalog flipped through and a postcard flipped over. The customer is in direct, actual physical contact with your advertising campaign.

Another big factor to consider – email marketing is relatively inexpensive so everybody and their brother is filling Inboxes with of all types of offers – some relevant, some not-so-relevant and some unfit to view in mixed company! Legitimate, Opt-in email lists are hard to come by and not inexpensive. However illegitimate, spam lists are cheap and plentiful, so buyers beware!

Do You Still Think Direct Mail Marketing is Old-Fashioned? It is! (But in a good way!)

Customer LIKE receiving relevant mail in their mailbox. Even some younger customers you’d assume might not!  According to a recent study conducted by InnoMedia, NuStats, and Vertis, 87% of Gen Y and 86% of Gen X bring in the mail the day it’s delivered.  73% of Gen Y and 68% of Gen X retail direct mail readers have used coupons received in the mail. Gen X and Y consumers rate 75% of the mail they receive as valuable.

The act of reaching customers directly at their mailbox allows for a more thoughtful, memorable introduction to your business. Once they start to read through your mailer they begin the knowing, liking and trusting you and your business.

This inevitably leads prospective customers to become paying customers. So if Old-Fashioned marketing means marketing that leads to finding new customers and increased sales – call me old-fashioned!

To be clear, I am a big fan of digital marketing channels. Heck, the tag line of my company is Blended Marketing Solutions – my term for integrated marketing .

Due to the relative ease of implementation, the target-ability and effectiveness of direct mail, business owners should put direct mail marketing at the top of their marketing TO-DO List.