We hit the ground running in 2018! Our music school is the largest it's EVER been and it's the most healthy because of our rock solid staff. Our family snuck away for some fun in the Florida sun this last week and it's been SO wonderful to just get away and refocus as a family.
Soon we will be home soon and READY to begin our 5 day Mini Course on January 29! Have you signed up yet? I hope so!
Here's what you will learn:
It's easy to get signed up. Just click here and you'll be all set:
I'm going to enjoy a little bit more time with our family here in Florida and I'll see you in the Facebook course SOON!
It's true. You are a busy business owner who needs a break. You need to step away from everything and re-focus, re-energize, and re-connect with your spouse and family.
If you feel like stepping away is absolutely impossible, we need to analyze WHY.
1. Do you have trustworthy staff in place?
Does your staff know exactly how to handle every scenario that comes up in your business? Do they have permission to act and solve those problems? Are they used to you stepping in and solving things? Or have you enabled them to solve problems just like you would?
2. Are you still doing all the work?
Depending on the size of your business, you may still be doing all the work or delivering the service/product. This is, of course, how every business begins. However, in order to grow, you have to start hiring staff and delegating so you CAN get away.
3. Are you constantly playing catch-up?
I talk to many business owners who just can't catch up. There are always emails and problems and projects that are unfinished. If stepping away from your company for a week breeds panic because you would fall even more behind, you need stronger systems in place. You are only one person. You need support, staff, and systems so you can see the big picture and stop putting out all the fires.
I am not trying to discourage you. No, I'm trying to shine the light on areas you can improve. I'm trying to allow you go to on vacation!
If you can paint a vision of what you want for the future, you can attain it.
If you can see it, you can chase it.
If you know where you are going, you will get there.
If you can imagine yourself packing up, leaving your company in good hands, and able to unplug for a week, then you can decide to do whatever it takes to get there.
It's all about staffing, training, and systems.
If you regularly get away from life and business, you can attest how powerful it is to get perspective and return to work more energized and refueled to take your business to the next level!
This week, our family is headed to Florida for some time in the sun and fun together. When I get back, I'd love to talk to you about joining my coaching program. If you're desperate for solid systems that allow you to go on vacation (multiple times every year), let's talk.
What is a business? A business is simply seeing a need and filling it. Having a solution for a problem.
If you sell something or provide a service for something that people need, and are willing to pay for it, you have a business.
That's it in a nutshell. When you boil down what we do, we find a need and we fill it.
How do you grow your business? Well, people need to know about your solution! You have to express that you understand their problem and clearly explain the solution. But this is complicated, isn't it? Sometimes it's hard to relate to the people we are selling to. Sometimes we don't like to promote ourselves. And sometimes we are so busy providing the solution, we actually don't have time to promote at all!
Here's where systems come in. You have to have stable, dependable systems to promote the solution to the problem that your people are facing. You can use your website, email, Facebook, direct mail, word of mouth, etc. But you can't decide to promote your business only when business is slow. Honestly, your marketing and advertising needs to be a system in itself! Do you have a repeatable process that is a checklist that you complete every single week?
If you don't have enough people seeking the solution that you offer, then focus on your marketing. Focus on improving your messaging. Make sure you are speaking to the need that your customer already knows they have. They have pain--and you have the solution. Simply put, that is marketing and advertising.
If you need some feedback on your marketing message, for a very limited time (only until February 5th) I am offering website and Facebook Page assessments. Book a 30 minute call with me here and for only $97, I'll get you my honest, knee-jerk reaction to your website and Facebook page. You'll come away with actionable items and steps to tweak and improve your messaging and your marketing. Normally, I charge $300 for this assessment. But I feel very strongly about you getting this done. So grab your time slot (it must be booked before February 5th) and take advantage of this super low price. Only $97. Here's the link again: https://www.neveralonebusinessservices.com/coaching-call.html
Let's make sure you're speaking your customer's language. Let's make sure they clearly understand the solution you provide to their problem. Let's do this together!
I wait in the car for my kids to come out of their theatre class. The heat is blowing full blast and my seat warmers give me a reprieve from the negative temperatures of our harsh Minnesota winter weather. I dare to take off my gloves--only to grab my phone. I check my email and Facebook, and then remember that I have been meaning to sign up my kids for summer swim lessons. I flip to Safari and search. Some websites I find are still desktop versions--I have to pinch and squeeze and zoom in. Others are clearly missing content--I can tell I've landed on a "mobile" site that is a stripped down version of their real website. I sigh. Frustrated, I flip back to Facebook.
This scenario is happening to moms everywhere. They are sitting in carpool lanes, thinking about YOUR services, and they are googling you. First of all, are they finding you? Are you ranking on page 1 when they search for what you do, in your town or city? Secondly, when they land on your website, is it a frustrating experience? Do you have 12 pictures all in a row that they have to scroll through? Can they click on your phone number or email address? Can they easily fill out a form--on their phone--to get more information?
As a busy mom of four kids, ages 9 to 16 (and I thought babies were busy! At least they napped. Now I'm constantly in the car, bringing my kids to one activity or another!) my phone is my lifeline. It's how I touch base with friends, order groceries, text my house cleaners, check on my staff, touch base with my husband, track my calendar, keep lists for buying gifts, and where I keep my to do list. I used to settle down on the couch for the evening with my laptop on my lap---but not so much any more. Almost everything I do as a mom is on my mobile phone.
When I flip to wearing my "business owner" hat, I can see that 70% of our website traffic for our music school is coming from mobile devices. So I know I'm not the only high-tech mom using my phone on-the-go.
Google is taking note.
In 2016, studies say that nearly 60% of searches were done on mobile phones. And the number just keeps climbing. More and more people are moving away from desktop computers and moving to tablets and mobile devices for their everyday use and for searching.
Because of this shift, Google is making a major change in 2017. Since the beginning, Google has been searching the desktop versions of websites to get their search engine results. In the past few years, they have also started crawling the mobile versions of sites as well. The new change is that Google is going to start to stop crawling the desktop versions of websites. This change will slowly roll out throughout the year. This is the biggest motivator to get a Responsive theme installed on your website ("responsive" means the layout changes for ANY device, large or small). We recently moved to responsive themes on our business' website and it wasn't too painful. The hardest part was just reading through every page and making sure that nothing was affected by changing the "theme" of the website. Yes, the "look" of our site changed, but it had to. Our site was looking dated and it is now easy to view on phones, iPads, etc.
Now here's the trouble. In the last few years, many businesses added a mobile version of their website, but didn't optimize it with the best organic SEO and they didn't include all the same content as the "full version" of their website. This is what Google is trying to make you change. No "full version" and "mobile version" is needed anymore. We need to have one website that is responsive across all sized devices. I'm sure you've noticed the crazy different sizes of phones and tablets that are out there--there is nothing "standard" anymore for phones or devices. We need to be ready for our readers (they are our clients and our prospects!) no matter what device they are using!
As Google starts crawling mobile versions, don't let your rankings drop because you don't have your full content on your mobile site. Check the following:
1. Do you have good organic SEO on your mobile version?
2. Is all the content the same on your mobile version as your desktop version?
3. Better yet--are you ready to change your website to a "responsive" theme so you don't have two versions but, rather, one website that is optimized for ALL devices?
If you're ready to make these changes on your website, so you don't have frustrated moms leaving your site without contacting you, just email us. Let's talk.
2017 is going to be an exciting year of growth! Don't get left behind.
It's December. You're feeling a little antsy. Sales are down. The phones are (relatively) quiet. You're tempted to bomb your email list with a December special or run an expensive Facebook campaign.
I've been feeling the same way, and while my intuition has been whispering, "Wait," I still have been chomping at the bit. I'm ready for 2017. I'm ready to grow my music school. Let's do this!
And yet, I need to finish my Christmas shopping and wrap the presents I've hidden. I need to make cookies for our family get-together, but before I can do that, I have to buy the supplies to make the cookies. Before we actually get to baking, I need to wash all the dishes (our dishwasher is broken, boo). It's an overwhelming time of year--not only for me, but for our customers! This is precisely why you need to be patient and wait to run your 2017 marketing campaign. Give your prospects some space. Respect their crazy. Let them shop and wrap and bake and enjoy the season. There's plenty of time for marketing!
Now, where to put all your nervous energy (as you're procrastinating on wrapping those gifts)? You can PLAN your January marketing. Write those emails. Map it out. Line up some great photos for your Facebook campaigns (remember: smiling happy faces looking AT the camera!).
If your staff is pacing nervously, let them make plans to spruce up your location. Do paint touch-ups. Get those cobwebs high in the corner. Move some furniture around. Let this "slow" time be a time of improvement before the New Year's rush.
And the best use of your time and energy this month is definitely giving back. Who can you bless? What need can you meet? Send that check anonymously. Buy a new winter coat for that family in need. Do a food or new toy drive at your business. Leverage your position and your company to be a force of good in the community and in the world.
Enjoy the season. Breathe. (And listen to some wonderful music!)
All week I've been talking to my coaching clients about the importance of a monthly newsletter. It seems so old fashioned, doesn't it? But I actually count it as one of the most important elements of my marketing!
A newsletter is a fun, casual way to stay in front of your customers and prospects. It's not "salesy" and it's predictable. When you add someone to your newsletter list, you know they are going to hear from you every month. For prospects, it's a gentle reminder that you're still here, ready for them to sign up/join/buy when they are ready. For current clients, it keeps you on their radar, and when you ask them to refer you to their friends, they will!
Let's face it. Your current clients may use your services, but they may not know you are taking new clients. You have to actually say, "Tell your friends! We have room for more!"
When your prospects request more info, call you, or email you, they may not be ready to buy yet. You don't want to hound them forever, do you? Yuck. So you reach out a couple times and then put them on your newsletter list. It's a very easy way to systematically reach out to them, without them feeling like you're chasing them down.
Here are some tips for connecting with your clients via newsletters:
Don't be formal, be fun!
No reason to use a professional voice--be casual, like the tone of this blog. Write FUN articles about you, your family, the weather, the changing seasons, your dog (seriously!), sports, or anything else you love to write about!
Blast your message on multiple channels
When you write your newsletter each month, you need to send the message on multiple channels: Post it on your website, send it as an email, post it on Facebook (use the website link), and also mail it to their mailbox! Don't worry--you aren't bombarding people. Some will read it via email, others don't even check their email! Some will catch it on Facebook, and others will be surprised to get some fun mail (instead of just bills!)
Be Real and Be You
In the social media age, we are all hungry for people who are "real" and authentic. We don't need stiff and formal. (Seriously. Even if you're an insurance agent or dentist!) Write a really fun front page article (or ask your spouse to help you). The goal is to touch base with your clients and prospects in a friendly, engaging way. You want them to LIKE you, so they will buy from you!
Entertain your reader
Please, for the love, do not write about technical things. If you're a dentist, don't tell me how to clean my teeth! If you're a chiropractor, don't write about subluxation. Just entertain me! Add a funny comic strip or pictures of your pets! If you're not fun or interesting, they won't read it, and you'll be wasting your time, and that will be a bummer, now won't it?!
Use lots of pictures (and pull from your Facebook page)
A GREAT idea for filling your newsletter is to pull content that you already posted on Facebook! Whoo hoo! Reusing material is a great idea! You already posted those pictures--now go grab them and add them to your newsletter. Most people didn't see them on Facebook the first time around, and even if they did, things move so quickly now days that they can see them again. No problemo.
Listen--I'm an avid reader, but most people aren't. They love to SCAN and they love pictures! So fill your newsletter with fun pictures!
Get your newsletter in the mailbox
I know. It's a ton of work to actually mail a paper newsletter to your list's mailbox. But you know what? NO ONE is doing this! Do you want to stand out? Do you want more clients? You do? Then it's worth all the work and effort to design a newsletter, print it, address it, and send it in the mail! (You can pay companies to help you with this, too.)
If you really, truly want to grow your business, you need to ramp up your newsletters. Put reminders on your phone for the first of every month to start writing your front page article. Put another reminder to send it to the printers on the 10th of the month.
Get your office staff to do the bulk of the work for you! You can even write several articles at once for the next couple months! (Totally ninja, I know!)
It all comes down to systems. You have to make a system for getting your newsletter done every month. It takes discipline for sure. But if you want to grow your business, you have to make this a priority! It works. I promise.
(You can see my newsletter link on my website HERE.)
It's a common complaint. People get soooo much email. So, as business owners, how do we still use email but not drive our customers crazy?
1. Keep it simple.
No need for multiple columns or fancy designs anymore. People are reading their email on their phone and you need to keep your communication to a one column design.
2. Once a week
Try to keep your communication no more than once a week. Be simple and use bullet points, when you can. Think of busy people checking their email on the go. You want to be clear and concise!
3. Be entertaining!
Have a lighter tone in your email (not corporate or formal) and make people want to read your emails. If you're always boring or rude or forceful, they'll delete it without even opening it.
4. Be conversational
As you're writing, think of one person in your mind. Write like you're writing to a friend. It will be so much more enjoyable for everyone to read. Drop the formal tone. Just be yourself!
4. Use a BIG font!
You can't always control how your email will look on a mobile device, but you can help by making your font BIG when you send it. When the font is too tiny, it's frustrating to try to squeeze and pinch and try to read all the words!
4. Use a REAL email provider.
No more Outlook. No more gmail. If you are running a company, and sending bulk emails, you must use a real email provider, like Mail Chimp (our favorite). First of all, it's much easier to keep track of your lists and email contacts. Secondly, it's the law that people must be able to opt out of your list. You must have an "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of your email.
(Obviously I'm not talking about emails to one person. I'm talking about your mailing list, advertisements, sending out your blog, or emailing your newsletter. Yes, still use gmail for every day emailing!)
5. Be consistent
If you're running a company, I know things get busy and crazy. But make it your goal to email your list at least once a month. Once a week is better. When you disappear and go silent, it can be very confusing when you show up in their inbox again. "Who is this again??" they will ask. And if it's been awhile, come right out and introduce yourself again! It will help.
6. Open Rates
If you're watching the open rate statistics in your email provider, don't get discouraged. The numbers aren't always accurate for people reading your emails on their phones (which is almost everyone). One tip to increase your open rate is to use a very causal subject line, like you are writing to a friend. This makes people curious and they want to read what you've written.
7. Broadcast on multiple "channels"
When you send an email, be sure to send the SAME message in multiple ways. Post it on Facebook, post it on your blog, hang up flyers in your brick and mortar location, or hand out flyers. People need to see a message multiple times, and plus, there's always that one guy with 2,000 unread emails. Send your info in multiple ways and you're more likely to be heard.
Remember--our world is noisy and filled with information and messages. Be interesting and conversational and keep it simple. Focus on connecting with your reader! Then your message will be heard!
Social Media has changed the way we all do business! It's astounding that we can show up in the living rooms of our ideal clients and connect with them right on their phone or laptop!
You can choose to be frustrated that marketing is always evolving and changing or you can be grateful for the amazing opportunity to leverage what is new and right in front of us!
If you haven't cracked the code on making Facebook Ads work for you, you need to purchase my training! I'll walk you step by step through making Facebook ads work for your brick and mortar business. (Hint: it's very different from how online businesses use it.)
Before you purchase my training, here are a few things you need to know!
Have a Business Page
You need a personal profile, of course, to navigate Facebook. But you must also have a Business Page. It's very simple to start a page if you haven't. (Just Google it.) Make sure your header photo is fun and engaging (build a collage here: www.picmonkey.com). For your profile picture, use faces, NOT your logo.
Use Facebook ads during your peak response times
Spend your money on Facebook marketing at your peak response times. Once you're getting good responses, then you can experiment during your "off" season. But when you first get started, make sure your clients are actually thinking about your product and what you are selling.
Facebook is NOT a place to be "professional." It's for connection. You're going to have to deliberately change your "voice" on Facebook and make sure you are connecting with your audience in a fun, light, social way. Drop the formality. Be casual, just like you would when you're talking to a close friend! Trust me--you'll attract more business.
Fill out your About Section
Make sure all your contact info is current and filled out on your business Page. Fill out all the sections so people can find you! Change the "button" to say "Contact Us" and link up your website so people will be guided from Facebook to your website.
Do FB Live!
Video is king right now on Facebook. (Facebook is trying to rival YouTube for videos.) The BEST engagement you can get on Facebook is through Facebook Live. Yes, it can be intimidating to "Go Live" but just jump in and try it! Be fun and interesting and show people "behind the scenes" of what your company does.
Get Training on Facebook Ads
If you're thinking, "Facebook just doesn't work for me" you're wrong. You just haven't cracked the code yet! Contact me and request my Facebook training for brick and mortar, local business. People are reporting wonderful results. I'd love to help!
By the way, Facebook is one of my top referral sources for my school of music! We got 93 new students just from Facebook last year. Does Facebook work for advertising? Oh yes, it does.
It's a simple fact: people want connection. They want to know a real, living, human being cares about them. This is such an easy, simple thing to implement into business or ministry, and yet most of us are missing the mark.
Through connection, you can grow your business with 3 simple systems: using your website, email, and Facebook. (Chances are, you’re already using these 3 things! Whoo hoo!)
The #1 mistake that 90% of websites make is not capturing the reader’s attention with BENEFITS for the reader on the home page. Why should people choose your business? What sets you apart from other businesses just like yours?
Home page rules
The average visit on a website is 1 minute! To make matters worse, between 21-79% of your readers only look at the first page they land on. They won’t even attempt to click through your other pages.
You have only seconds to grab the attention of your reader and give them the answers that they are seeking. Are they looking for pricing? Contact info? Directions? Information? Do you have the answers to THOSE questions on your front page?
If you have sentences like: “Thanks for stopping by our website. We hope you will browse around. Let us know if you don’t find what you are looking for” then you are WASTING an opportunity to connect with your audience! You need to GRAB your reader’s attention with a headline (or a question) that they are already asking.
If you have a very beautiful "cool" website without the pertinent information, you will frustrate your reader. If your website is not on a responsive theme, they may not be able to see anythingbecause your site originally designed for a desktop computer. It’s hard to keep up with all the changing trends! If you haven’t updated your site in the last year or two, it's time for a redesign.
The right Pictures
Make sure you have pictures on the home page of your site! Your site should reflect your audience, so pick pictures that look like real people (not like fake models or stiff stock photos). Portray the clients you are trying to attract! The best thing you can do is take real pictures of your real clients!
Answer the questions they are asking
Make sure you have text on your home page. Answer your audience’s questions quickly and swiftly, and let them know why they should choose YOU.
Search engines love text (and can't "read" images with words on them) so this will help when users are searching for what you do.
Call to Action
The very last item on your home page should be a Call to Action. Do you want them to call? Stop by? Request more information? Make it clear. People are in a hurry and want to be told exactly what to do!
Next week we'll talk about email and Facebook!
I was the editor of our school newspaper in high school. It was supposed to be a rotating position, but right away it was clear that I was the one who loved editing, correcting grammar, and cracking the whip on deadlines. I remember sitting in Government class, secretly editing articles and passing them back to my fellow newspaper contributors. It was a position that I loved so much that my plan was to pursue Journalism in college. (Until God made it clear that I should major in music. But that's a story for another day.)
An important consideration for any newspaper team or editor is the article that is "above the fold." You know the newspaper that's folded in half, lying on the stand at the end of the counter at Starbucks while you wait for your grande latte? You scan the headlines, right? You might pick up the paper and look underneath. But the most attention goes to article above the fold.
The same is true of your website. First impressions are everything and "above the fold" is valuable real estate. For websites, we want to maximize the first few seconds the reader is on your website. Is it clear what your business is all about? Does the reader know what to do next? Are the pictures visually clear on who the target audience is?
PLEASE don't waste the top half of your home page with announcements: "Enrollment ends soon. Hurry!!" or "We will be closed on Labor Day." These announcements are for your current clients. Use email for your announcements, not your website. Your website is mostly for new visitors. Potential clients. You have only seconds to win them over and to keep them reading. Please don't waste those seconds on "insider information."
If a reader can't decide in 3 seconds that "this is the place for me," then you've probably lost them forever. Use only 2 different fonts on your page, keep your colors clean and appealing, and use photographs that are happy, smiling, and that draw in your reader.
Make sure your address, phone number, and email address are front and center! This is super important for both current and prospective clients. Please don't make the reader search for this important information. Also, be sure to have a link to your Facebook page in the upper right hand corner. (Social Media is how clients can peak into the life of your business and decide if they want to work with you.)
First impressions are everything. If you are stuck on how to improve your site, ask a friend or co-worker to give you their opinion. Then listen and make changes!
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!