Client Relations through Social Networking

It’s incredible how quickly social networking has become so integrated in our lives, but a majority of people do not use it to its full potential.  Using social networking to help grow your business and allow you to be successful is pretty simple and inexpensive compared to other forms of reaching out and advertising.

There are many benefits to using social networking to reach out to current and potential clients.  Since computers and automated systems have taken over a majority of the customer service process within companies, it’s a major benefit to show that you are still a REAL PERSON working with your customers.  Social networking is a superb way to let your clients know that you are a real person and to interact with them.

Interacting with clients through social networking allows them to feel that they are getting quality one-on-one attention.  Psychologically, people want to feel that their needs are being met and they are valued by others around them.  With social networking, you can build those relationships with your clients and are able to show that they are worth your time and energy.

Many people are on Facebook and Twitter (and other social networking sites), so take advantage of that.  Don’t rebuild the wheel; use the networks that already exist.  Inserting your name and your business into a network that already exists and functions successfully will save you a lot of frustration and energy.

Another major advantage is that you are able to just post a status (or even a tweet, which is 160 characters) to reach out to your entire network at once.  A lot of people even have their social networks connected on their phones, so you will be able to reach them at any moment in time, no matter where they are.  With a website, you will have to have someone who understands HTML coding/Wordpress (or something similar) and it takes a lot of time to update every time there is a change.  It doesn’t take much time at all to write a sentence or two and send it to your entire network at once.

There are so many types of social networking and so many ways to use them.  I have already talked about Facebook and Twitter, which are the more popular forms of social networking.  Another way to incorporate social networking is to make a blog page.  You can write articles relating to your business and/or industry that would be beneficial to your potential and current customers.  It is a great way to show up in search engines and spread your name to more people.

You can also link your different social networking outlets to each other, so people are able to just click on a link and go from your Twitter account to your Facebook to your blog to your website, etc.  A blog is a great way to compliment your website.  Websites tend to stay the same because it takes a lot of time and effort to change them.  It is not cost-effective to be changing it on a daily or weekly basis.  Having a blog gives you the opportunity to give a current update on different things you are doing or share your thoughts on particular issues relating to your business/industry.

Since so many people already use social networking, use it to your advantage!  Take the time to initially set up your different outlets and to update them regularly.  Putting in that little extra effort will help to set you apart and allow you to stand out to potential clients.

Important Things to Incorporate into Your Web Site Continued…

Last week I left you with three different pieces that are essential to include in your business website. Today we’ve got four more things that you’ll want to incorporate into your site.

1. Contact Info

I know that we talked about this last time, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that a potential client can easily find your contact info on every page of your website. People are much more likely to use it if they are being constantly reminded to do so.

There should be an extremely visible link that the reader can click on in order to make contact with you.

You can see mine on the upper right hand side of this blog in blue. It is incorporated into every page and does not move when the reader scrolls up or down.

The site that I used to incorporate the plug-in into my site is ContactMe.com. It’s an easy and super effective way to make sure that it is effortless for potential clients to contact you.

2. Testimonials

Including a few testimonials from past clients who loved your services is a great way to instill a higher level of confidence and trust in potential clients.

Those powerful statements about how passionately you serve and how skilled you are remove any lingering doubt that a potential customer might have. In their minds, if other people have loved you, there is no reason that they won’t as well.

Testimonials should be personal and positive. It is best to avoid using generic compliments and raves because they can come off as disingenuous. You want it to not only be — but come off in writing as — authentic, relatable, specific and personal.

Even better is if the testimonials you get talk about what dire or dramatic position the client was in before they met you, and even the doubts they had that they could be helped.

Then when they explain how powerfully they were impacted by you, it holds even more credibility…and it really helps your prospective clients to see that other people, just like them, have been helped by you and your amazing gifts and talents.

3. Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions and Disclaimer/Disclosures

The inclusion of all of these things within your website is important as well. They set the rules and regulations that you and anyone with whom you do business dealings with must follow in advance. They explain the rights of both you and those people you work with, and can save your butt in the unlikely and unfortunate event some legal issues arise.

In most cases, the privacy policy goes along the lines that anything disclosed to you by customers or business associates will remain between you and that person. If that is NOT your policy, you need to make it clear because that will most likely be assumed and could be a cause for mistrust if not established from the very beginning.

There are always exceptions to non-disclosure as well. Those need to be stated.

Privacy policies not only protect both you and those you work with in legal situations, but create further trust.

Although much of it is legal jargon, and most people will probably not actually read them, having them available is important.

These additions may seem nitpicky or trivial, they are most certainly NOT and should NOT be forgotten or blown off.

You can either insert these by yourself, or if you use WordPress you can upload plug-ins that will do it for you.

If you do a search on the web, you will find numerous plug-ins that will take care of each for you.

If you want to spend a little bit more money ($20.00), you can buy the WordPress Policy Pack. It not only comes with these three policy pages, but many more and you only have to input your business information once, and it will be applied to each page automatically.

4. Business Blog

A business blog is one of those things that is optional, and that may be more practical and beneficial for some than others.

Obviously, I am an advocate and think that they are a good idea and that they can significantly help a business. After all, you are reading one of my posts right now.

If you want to include one, and have the time to put in to maintain it regularly, GO FOR IT!! If you are just starting out and don’t have the time or effort to put into it, or you just plain don’t want to, then don’t. It’s your prerogative.

There are definitely benefits of having a blog presence though.

Creating multiple posts, and therefore multiple pages, increases your visibility in the endless sea of pages on the internet. The more work you have out there, and the greater the number of times your name is mentioned, the greater the traffic to your website will be.

And it’s another way to connect to and maintain contact with your potential, current and past clients. To potential clients, it serves as proof that you know and care about what you are doing. Your blog can also be a big credibility booster for you.

Business blogs are also a lot less formal than the rest of your website, and you personality can shine through a lot more.

For your current and past clients, it can serve as a reminder of just how great you are and that you will be there in the future if they need or want to use your services again.

Blog writing is a great means through which you can share passion for what you do, form strong blonds and connections with your audience, show your human side and be more relatable. You can showcase yourself and your knowledge, and overall, just have more fun with the work that you love doing. After all, doing what you love is supposed to be enjoyable.

 

Like I said before, there is a lot of freedom that you can take advantage of when you are creating and personalizing your business website. BUT, there are a few essentials that you can’t forget.

Is there anything else that you think should be a part of each and every business website? What kinds of things have and haven’t worked for you on your business site?

Let me know by either leaving a comment by clicking the bubble icon on the upper right hand corner of this post or by making a comment below.

Make it a great week!

 

 

Important Things to Incorporate into Your Web Site

I would like to begin by saying that I hope you got a chance to learn a little bit more about, and perhaps even partake in some of the activities of, Global Entrepreneurship Week last week. After all, it celebrates YOU and your accomplishments and aims to inspire you to reach even higher.

With that said, this week we are back to the topic of your business website. In a previous post, we established that it’s an important facet of your marketing strategy, but what are some of the “must-have” elements that you need to incorporate into your site?

When building your business website, you have a lot of freedom with respect to the layout and overall visual presentation. Your website should be a representation of you, and as such, unique to you.

However, within that freedom naturally comes a framework, meaning that there are a number of elements that you should absolutely incorporate into your website. How you choose to do it is largely up to you.

 

Below are the Top Essential elements that YOUR business websites should have.

1. Easy Navigation

The most important characteristic that your website must have is EASY NAVIGATION. I’m sure that at some point in your virtual adventures you have come upon a site that is just plain confusing and does not seem to want to let you go to the page that you are looking for. Did you stick around, or go somewhere else? I know I for one have moved on. It is pretty likely that you can find the same information somewhere else, so fighting with a difficult website to extract the information that you are looking for just isn’t worth it.

If a website is confusing or difficult to navigate, people will not stay long enough for you to say “Thanks for your interest!” There is nothing that people dislike more than inconvenience and being led on what seems to be a wild goose chase. Easy navigation is key to keeping people around to see what you have to offer.

All links should stand out and it should be blatantly obvious where they go. There should be either a horizontal list of page links at the top or a vertical list along the side of each page. Not only does incorporating this into every page ensure that your potential clients can access whatever page they want at any stage, but it is also a good SEO technique.

However, unless you are creating an authority site – something like CNN.com or another one-stop site for all aspects of a given topic, it is important that you do not create an excessive number of pages either. Keep your navigation bar simple, even if you do have a larger number of pages. Nobody wants to go through a million different links to find all of the information they are looking for. I would limit it to ten links in your navigation menu at most, and less if possible.

Make sure that every main element of your business has a page, and then expound on each element within each page.

Easy navigation is not a difficult concept. If at any point you are unsure about your layout, ask for outside thoughts and opinions. If your non-tech savvy uncle, friend or grandmother finds it confusing or annoying, then other people probably will too.

2. Home Page

Your homepage is what your potential customers will see first. As such, it is essential that you make it engaging and interesting. You want to catch their attention and draw them into exploring your site further.

The last thing you want to do is give them a reason to look elsewhere. It should be professional, but your unique personality should always shine through.

There should absolutely be graphics of some sort, whether it is a picture of you, your work place, or some other aesthetically pleasing image. Graphics catch the eye, and hold attention much more efficiently than text alone does.

Something else that generally does a good job of grabbing potential customers’ attention is a deal of some sort. If you are having a sale or you are offering a desirable product or service for a good price or free, your home page is a great place to showcase it. With the economy in the hole, people are even more apt to look for the best deals they can find.

Your homepage should give the viewer a basic understanding of what your business is about. If you offer multiple services, it’s a good place to include a list of those services. It should be relevant and should promote trust in you and your company.

3. About Page

There should be a page somewhere that summarizes who you are and contains some important information about your business.

Although this page is technically your “About Page,” I would not recommend that you actually label the link that way. It is too generic, and says nothing about you or your business.

Use something that is more personal, which could even be the name of you or your business. This is a great place to show why YOU are the best person to help them resolve their problem and why.

Even though the About page is theoretically about you, you still need to maintain your focus on who your potential clients are, and why they’re looking for you and your expertise. You MUST speak to them where they’re at.

As you explain what you do, why you do what you do, your vision as an entrepreneur, etc. on your About page, you must at the same time be focused primarily on them and how and why your services are exactly what they need right now.

How do you solve their problems?

For example, if you’re a real-estate agent that specializes in downsizing seniors, you need to know why they (or a family member) is on your website looking into you and your services.

What is the conversation going on in their head?

Perhaps that conversation goes something like this:

“I need to move into a smaller house – this four bedroom place is too big for me now that my spouse has died. I can’t keep it up anymore. The maintenance is too much for me, and it’s got too many painful memories – but heck, we’ve lived here for 28 years, and I can’t bear the thought of leaving; it’s all so overwhelming.

And I don’t know the first thing about selling a house these days – it’s changed so much since we bought this place almost thirty years ago – it’s so much more complicated. I’m terrified that I won’t understand it at all – and what am I going to do with all this stuff we’ve accumulated over the past 30 years?

If I move to a smaller place, I’ll have to get rid of some of my collections and antiques, not to mention just all the furniture and where will I go?

How will I ever find another place…blah, blah,blah.”

So how do you respond to that? Even though your About Page is presumably about you, in reality it needs to be about them first and how what you do can help them. So your About page will talk about you in a way that builds credibility and authority in the arena where they need help.

It will most likely be the most personal of your pages and it should help potential customers relate to you and form a bond of trust.

So…yes. You can explain that you were born and raised in the local area, but explain why that matters to your prospective client.

You can explain your passions, your hobbies, your interests, but be sure to tie that back in to them and where they are when they’re looking for you.

If you have a special degree, certifications or whatever, explain why that’s relevant to them from where they’re sitting right now – and where they’re sitting right now is considering whether or not you’re a fit for them.

So I recommend that you don’t talk about your parakeet collection or the fact that you lived in a commune for 8 years unless you can find a way to tie it in with your expertise, your skills, or your blessings in a way that matters to them.

Other important information that you can add to this page, and that needs to be easily attained somewhere on your site, is your business hours and location and your contact information.

Depending on what you do, your business may or may not have a physical address. If it does, you need to make it visible and easy to find.

Linking it to Google Maps makes it easy to get directions to your place of business and helps the viewer calculate his or her bearings.

Hours of availability are also something that needs to highly visible and would fit in great on your about page.

Although your contact information should be accessible from every page, it is a good idea to organize it into a section that on the about page as well.

 

Next week, we’ll continue on with several more important parts of your website that you won’t want to forget. Come back to make sure that you cover all of the angles that need to be covered in order to ensure greater success for you and your business!!

Until next Tuesday, go out and make it a great week! : )

 

If You Own a Business, You Need a Business Website!!

When you want to find an answer, learn about something or someone, or find a place in your area, where do you go?

TO THE INTERNET!

And more specifically, probably Google. The number of people who use Google on a daily basis to find answers to whatever question or need they may have is MONUMENTAL.

Although many searches conducted on Google these days surely focus on Kim Kardashian’s not so surprising divorce or other newsy bits, millions of people search for local businesses or services as well. For many, the internet has become an easier and more convenient version of the yellow pages. People go to find the address of your business, to view a list of services you provide, and to just overall check you out.

So why on earth wouldn’t you take advantage of the internet?!?!

Like all marketing strategies out there, creating a website that represents your business is about getting your name out there and gaining more recognition from potential clients. In a virtual world, internet marketing can hold substantially more power than word of mouth. It can absolutely help you gain more clients, and quite literally puts you on the map (Google Maps that is).

So what kind of benefits can having a website hold for you?

First of all, it will simply increase the number of people who know about you. When people search for whatever service you provide in your area, and your business pops up, you will gain more attention than you would otherwise. Even if people don’t click on your specific site, just seeing the name of your business could help – because when they hear it in the future it will sound familiar to them. When people know and recognize your name, they are much more likely to trust you.

Familiarity breeds respect – at least from a business branding aspect.

Another benefit of having a site is that when clients like your services and what you provide, they have a specific place to refer their friends to. If your friend told you she went to this great massage therapist, but did not have any more info, would you go?

Maybe, but maybe not.

What if she told you she went to this great massage therapist and here is the website where you can find out more?

When you check out the site, you see it’s nicely designed and easy to navigate with some attractive pictures; you have a price list and list of services provided there, and you start to get comfortable. At the website you also have all of the contact info, and a number of previous client recommendations are showcased.

Are you more likely to go to that person next time you need a massage?

ABSOLUTELY!

Because you’ve started establishing a level of comfort and whether you recognize it or not – at least on a subconscious level – some trust.

Having that extra info available to whoever may be interested in seeing it makes a world of a difference as well.

Not only that, but it substantially increases your credibility. Nobody wants to go to a dump to get anything done. By showing that you are professional, and that your place of work is clean, bright and welcoming, you will automatically increase interest. People don’t like to leave that kind of thing up to chance.

Think about it, if they are doing an online search, it is because they are looking for something more than just a name and address. They want to know whether they can trust you or not, and if you can give that to them through your website, more people will come to you.

A business website is a place where you can showcase yourself and your services. It is a place for you to show how you are different from the other people who offer the same services as yourself. It serves as a reminder to those who know you, and a friendly suggestion to those who don’t, that you are there and that you want to work with them. It is personal, yet professional at the same time, and should make people want to go to you.

If done correctly, a business website can increase your success considerably.

Next week we are going to focus on Global Entrepreneur’s Week. Not only is it a week that celebrates YOU and YOUR achievements as an entrepreneur, but it serves to inspire an era of change for the better. After this special week, I will come back to the concept of a business website and focus on the essential parts that should be incorporated into your business website in one way or another.

Hope to see you then, and make it a great week!