Monthly Archives: January 2017

Friendly Women’s Work Wear

Fashionable women often feel like they have to choose between being stylish and being sustainable. There haven’t traditionally been a lot of options for environmentally and socially conscious clothing that work for real women. But that’s exactly the problem that fashion startup Maven Women aims to solve.
Founder Rebecca Ballard said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “I entered fashion from the law and advocacy space and at that time I was a frustrated consumer seeking elegant clothing created in a socially conscious way. Over the past decade this vision has evolved into a company born out of my desire to make all of my consumptive choices in line with my values.”

The company has six core values that it uses to drive every step of its process, from sourcing materials to photography. Those values are: supply chain awareness, global women’s empowerment, connectivity and education, restorative justice, natural beauty and slow fashion.

More specifically, those values mean that Maven Women uses materials like organic cotton, baby alpaca, silk and tencel instead of synthetic materials that create waste and pollution.
But it’s not only about using sustainable materials. Maven Women strives to address a number of different issues that affect women. It does this through donating to causes, like domestic violence prevention in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and through involving actual women in its decision making process.
The company uses a co-creation process where customers can vote on their favorite clothing designs to move them into pre-sale. According to Ballard, this process really helps women become more connected to the clothing they purchase, rather than feeling completely disconnected from the fashion industry.

Overall, Ballard simply wants to create a different experience for women who want professional and elegant clothing without feeling like they’re contributing to the massive pollution and other negatives that are often associated with the fashion industry.
Ballard says, “I view the purchasing power of each consumer as a form of advocacy to create a kinder, gentler world.”

Tips to Improve Your Online Presence

Words that come to mind when you’re trying to build an online presence—overwhelming, daunting, frustrating, and stressful, right? Not only is everybody competing for customer eyes and ears online, you have very little time to invest into what has become an essential task to business growth.

The good news is that you don’t have to stress out about this. Keep calm and get started.

1. Make it Utilitarian

Putting a sign next to your cash register or a little Facebook icon on your website isn’t going to cut it. Printing your website URL on your receipts won’t get you anywhere. Nobody is going to engage with you simply because you asked them to. Give them a reason to find you online.

Examples: Run a contest. Ask people to post pictures of themselves using your product. If people rely on your company for information, post it on your website or social media first. Find a reason that your customers have to find you online.

2. Limited Offers

You would think that people would be too wise to fall for the hard sell limited offer. NOPE! Customers don’t want to miss out on something that is limited. Having limited offers on the home page of your website and sending out promotions will build your customer base. There’s plenty of market research that shows that telling people not to miss out still works.

Yes, “Act now to get 50% off” still works.

3. Create Advocates

You don’t have time to build your online presence but you can put people to work to do it for you. You just need advocates. Here’s one way: Let’s say you offer a $99 service that teaches people how to cook Mexican food. (No doubt, an amazing community service.)

You could offer people a $20 discount if they post a status on social media about the class. You can even create that ad and all they have to do is hit the share button and they get a coupon code for $20 off. Pretty cool, huh?

4. Improve Your Website

Your website is a giant piece of science. Every square centimeter matters. You should craft it as meticulously as you did your product or service. Every piece of it matters. Keep these things in mind:

a. Tell your customer who you are, what you do, and how they get it. If you don’t communicate that within the first 5 seconds of them finding your site, you will lose a large portion of your sales.

b. Tell them how you will solve their problem. Why are they looking for you? Speak to their problem and tell them how you can make it better.

c. Get rid of most of the text. They aren’t reading it anyway. Every word matters. Make all of them impactful. Less is more.

d. Don’t talk about yourself. They’re more interested in themselves than they are you or your business.

When you make your online presence into something for your customer instead of something that talks about you, they’ll begin to show up.

5. Your Social Media Playbook

There are literally millions of articles about how to use social media but here are a few quick tips.

a. Not all businesses will benefit from social media but most do.

b. Pick one social media platform that matches your demographic. A teen business might use Snapchat while a business catering to those 30 and older might use Facebook.

c. You don’t need to be on every network. Pick 1 or 2.

d. Talk about your customers. Not yourself

e. Create community. Advertise sparingly.

f. If you want to advertise, pay for online advertising. It’s cheap compared to print.

g. Respond. If people start a conversation with your brand, continue it.

6. E-mail Isn’t Dead

Uninformed “experts” are sounding the alarm that e-mail is dead but the facts are that it’s still the best form of online outreach. Here’s how to do it right.

a. E-mail quality content less often. Once per week or every other week is fine.

b. Target customers. Sending offers for children to singles or couples without children is annoying to them, for example. Know your customer and send e-mails that they want to receive.

b. Use imagery. Pictures and videos are essential for customer engagement.

c. Include a call to action. It might not to be to purchase something but a learn more button or some other way for them to further engage is essential.

d. E-mail lawfully. Ask their permission before adding them to a list. Know the CAN-SPAM laws.

7. Join with Another Business to Drive Online Engagement

Looking for other businesses that have the same type of consumer is a great way to build your own customer base without having to pay high marketing fees. Partnering with them on a promotion is a great way to introduce your brand to more people. Work together to come up with an outreach where you could share costs and get bigger exposure.

8. Keeps Things Current

Too many business owners build a website without any plan of how to keep it fresh. People won’t pay attention if you don’t have anything new to say. Whether you build your online presence yourself or hire somebody, have a plan for constant updating. Who will own the website and social media? The ongoing maintenance is just as important as the initial build.

Tips to Funnel the Sale in a Digital Age

Imagine if you were trying to run a modern grocery store with deliveries made by horse and wagon. Or running a twenty-first-century finance department on a nineteenth-century accounting models. Yet sales and marketing departments are still working from a “purchase funnel” model that was developed 120 years ago. It’s an antiquated system that doesn’t fit a profoundly transformed business world.

The sales funnel, developed by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898, was so named because of the high number of prospective consumers at the top. The higher numbers meant more opportunities to win business, and leads were generated on foot and by phone. Back then, interruptive marketing messages were seen as providing value because that’s how consumers got informed. But that model works only when customers have scant access to information.

As purchasing decisions have migrated to the online arena, consumers have an overabundance of information and can often get real-time answers to their questions. Marketing message interruptions, especially on social platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, can be seen as an annoyance. Bombarding prospects in those environments can lead to complaints and harm a company’s reputation.

So what works? A strong, compelling online presence and a sales funnel with a new, cutting-edge shape. Here’s what it looks like:

Digital Sales FunnelNarrow at the top. No longer is it effective to “shout” at a mass of disinterested people and hope someone will pause to listen. Online sales and marketing departments have to attract relevant prospects by creating ‘value’ in the places where a company’s customers show up.

Partnering with aligned providers and industry influencers is more likely to attract your target audience’s eyeballs. Rather than businesses choosing a market segment and bombarding it with messages, prospective customers need to choose the business.

Wide in the middle. In a marketplace that is digital, information-saturated, and highly social, attention is the most precious resource. A prospect who displays even a passive interest in a company needs to be engaged quickly by the sales and marketing folks.

Engagement looks like videos, articles, or podcasts. Companies can interact with prospective customers in person, via phone calls, emails or text messages. Contact could be weekly, monthly, or even quarterly. Good social CRM software and social media monitoring platforms can measure whether the engagement is effective. If you’ve kept your prospects’ attention, your business is likely to have a seat at the table once they’re ready to buy.

Narrow at the base. From the middle of the funnel, a small percentage of prospects will make a purchase at any given time. With the amount of data available, companies can extrapolate insights on how to improve their sales and marketing processes. ROI can be measured efficiently. What content leads to more questions? What percentage of engaged prospective customers makes a purchase? How long is the average sales cycle? In the digital world, sales and marketing is iterative, with data being used to constantly improve results.

A business model that lasts 120 years is a pretty good run by anyone’s standards. But to be successful in the digital world, companies have to embrace a strategy that fits the contemporary business environment. The Digital Sales Funnel enables organizations to compete and succeed in this transformed environment. That old sage Lewis might even agree.
Business Know-How/Attard Communications, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Grant Leboff

Grant Leboff is a leading expert on digital marketing. Based in the UK, he is the founder of Sticky Marketing Club Ltd., a strategic global consultancy that is transforming how we sell in the digital environment. His approach is that traditional Sales & Marketing doesn’t apply in a world that has radically changed, and has transformed selling success for his clients and followers. An in-demand speaker and thought leader, he is a Fellow of both The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing and The Institute of Sales and Marketing Management. He is regularly featured in numerous publications and broadcasts, including The Financial Times and BBC Radio. His latest book, Digital Selling, is an Amazon chart-topper, and follows in the footsteps of his three previous best-selling business titles.