Building Trust in a Risk-Adverse World

I was worried about the person putting together my LLC paperwork

Every time we exchange money for a product or service, we are putting our trust in a total stranger. So how do you build trust?

  • Word of mouth and direct connections. This is how most of us get started with our first clients. we share some information, get some referrals, and the ball is rolling. The trust is based upon mutual connections.
  • Doing great work. Once you have a client, it’s all about producing a beautiful product or service. Now the trust has been extended based upon a respect for quality in what you deliver.

It’s the growth stage – the time between brand new and rolling along – that is the most difficult for so many small business owners. How do you get the new customers? Why should they trust you? Without a mutual friend or having already experienced a quality deliverable, they have no idea if you’re trustworthy to work with.

Build trust in other ways

This means showing the world that you are a trustworthy brand. Anything from testimonials to certifications and licenses will help. Or good ole’ fashion face time in the community. Knowing the person behind a company or brand is what helps to make him or her trustworthy.

I don’t trust a product or service, but I may trust the person who made that product or delivered that service. It is a risky decision each time, but we all make decisions every day. Choosing to eat at P Terry’s over Whataburger – why? Do you know for a fact that one is healthier or better than the other? Where did you get that information? Is it a trustworthy source? Most likely, you heard people talk… about food quality or ingredients or great service, or maybe all three. You put your trust in another person.

Entrepreneurs are risk takers. We’re the ones who have to build that trust with strangers. So how are you building trust with the strangers around you?

 

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Measuring Your Marketing Strategy

I understand that as a small business owner or startup founder you want all of your money to go into making the most perfect amazing product. It makes sense. However, creating something amazing is a waste if no one knows about it. Marketing is key to your success, so plan for it – both time and money.

Small Business Marketing Basics

So you own a small business and you want to tell the masses that you exist. Here are the things you most likely already know to do:

  1. TELL PEOPLE: Attend networking events and social gatherings around town, armed with business cards. Know a succinct way to explain what your business is and why it’s unique.
  2. LOOK PROFESSIONAL: Have a website. It should be easy to navigate, simple to read, and mobile-friendly. Avoid getting too fancy, especially in the early stages.
  3. BE ACCESSIBLE: Have a social media / online presence beyond your website. Depending upon your industry, this may have different levels of importance and live in different places.

It will take some time and effort for you to plan and work on marketing your business. And you may need outside help for building your website or designing business cards. Set aside money and time for these efforts.


Your First Digital Marketing Strategy

Once you are beyond the basics, you will want to start measuring and planning your marketing. This requires a little extra time and some more targeted planning. Hopefully, you have Google Analytics and Webmaster tools already plugged into your website so that you are tracking the activity.

Before You Plan, You Must Measure 

Watch a few videos on Google Analytics and how to read your reports. The areas that you should consider focusing on at first are Audience (Overview, Geo and Mobile), Acquisition (All Traffic-Channels), and Behavior (Site Content-All Pages). Make some notes to yourself about what you see in these reports. How long are visitors staying on your website? What pages are they visiting? Where are they coming from?

Google Analytics, Small Business, Digital Marketing

 

 

When you have a general idea of what your website visitors are doing, set out some goals. What do you want website visitors to do? Make a purchase, sign-up for a newsletter, fill out your contact form, call you, etc. If you do not feel totally overwhelmed by Google Analytics, then your next step is to setup a goal.

Google Analytics lets you define 4 different types of goals:

  • Destination: the user reaches a specified web page or app screen.
  • Duration: the user spends a specified minimum amount of time on your site or app.
  • Pages/Screens per session: the user views a specified minimum number of pages or screens.
  • Event: the user conducts a specified action, like viewing a video.
Social Media Engagement Matters Too

To draw a complete picture of your digital footprint, you are likely to use social media channels. The most popular of them are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram. Do not base your social channel choice on where your friends and family are most active.

Think about your customers.

  • Who are they?
  • Where would they be talking about your product?
  • What are the kinds of things they like that are similar to your product or service?

Then look at how existing followers are interacting with you on social media. 
Putting content out into the world for the sake of doing so is a poor use of your time, so look closely at the posts that get the most engagement. Make sure you have at least 1 month of activity before reviewing any reports – 3 months would be better.

  • How many people are you reaching with your content?
  • Are they interacting with your posts (likes, comments, shares)?
  • What times of day and days of the week are you posting content? Is that when your people are online?

Every 2-3 weeks, check your reports, learn from what you’re reading, and apply it to your digital presence. Make notes, look for trends, ask yourself questions.


Coming Up Next Time:
What do I do with all of these reports? How can I apply what I see to my marketing?

Your History Does Not Decide Your Future

You do.

Life pitches curve balls and we cannot always predict it. But you can be flexible and open to what the next step is for you and your business.

My Curve Ball

Walking the streets of midtown Manhattan and Astoria, Queens brings back memories – both good and bad. If you know the real New York, it’s hard not to love this city.

Because I am from New York, it’s easy to assume that my destiny was to live here, have a family here, and die here. Nope, not me. I woke up day after day feeling mundane. The city started to look dirty and uninspiring. The shouting homeless guy and constant sirens began to bother me. Opportunities to take big risks and gain life experience didn’t appear to be tangible in New York.

There was a pit in my stomach, and I was feeling completely split in half. One part of me knew the importance of having family and friends close by – my support system. But my future was filled with innovation and making a positive impact. Soon I realized that the entrepreneurs in New York face bigger challenges than those in smaller cities like Austin or Denver. After months of consideration and research, I decided that my history could not hold me back any longer. It was time to take that leap of faith that so many talk about.

history, business, future, evolution

History Does Not Need to Define Your Business

We are the innovators of tomorrow – we create the game changing ideas that will make our world different (and hopefully better). Just as you must be open and recognize your failures and growth opportunities in business, the same applies to the way you communicate with your end customer.  The ideas we share, as well as the processes, must reflect exactly the openness to change.

IDEAS

The old idea was to send all direct marketing communications through the mail. Then email showed up. And then social media and targeted digital ads. Now SMS and mobile apps are leveraged for direct marketing. Direct marketing has evolved from a “I hope they don’t throw this piece in the garbage” experience to a “we can see that the customer viewed this message and replied” engagement.  Print mailers may still be effective for your business, but SMS may also work. It’s easy to fall back on the things you know, but don’t be afraid to take a risk and try something new – it might even take a bit of a fight to make it happen.

PROCESS

Just because it worked last year, doesn’t mean it’s working this year. I know you don’t want to hear that, but it’s true. You may have always included news announcements and product updates in your blog, and that’s worked really well for the past 2 years. Now you have planned content each week that is around a specific marketing campaign. Your blog is going to start looking cluttered and become overwhelming if you’re still including all of that other stuff. It might not happen right away, but readers will be deterred by the experience. It may be time to re-evaluate the way you get different kinds of messages out to different audiences.

In business, as in life, it is important to recognize history, but one should never let it determine what the future holds. So what is holding you back?

A Routine of Gratitude

A Reflection on Gratitude from a Teenage Mentee

CEO Candi, Gratitude, Thankful, RoutineSince it was a rainy Saturday morning, my will to get out of bed was less than usual. The calming sound of rain kept me in that wonderful in between lull where my brain is the most creative and open. I pondered what we would talk about and if this 14 year old boy would be judgmental of my professional decisions or any advice I would offer. During my sleepy entrancement, I imagined the various conversations we might have.

Once 9:30am rolled around, I was forced to get out of bed and on my way to meet with my new mentee. The drive to our meeting spot – a cute little cupcakery and coffee spot – was quick despite the rain. And as I entered the shop, I could see that he was already there patiently waiting for me (luckily I wasn’t late).

The conversation was supposed to be about his personal and professional goals, but I didn’t know this kid beyond the brief conversation we had over a month ago. We talked about movies, books, society, debate, and psychology. I forgot how awesomely open and curious teenagers are about the world. It was such a refreshing conversation. Most adults I know are terribly boring – they talk only talk about work, love, and money.

At one point in our conversation, we talked about gratitude and the discomforts of one’s teenage years. It may just be due to the upcoming holiday or the many changes happening in my life right now, but I felt required to emphasize the importance of gratitude in our conversation.

As I look back at the meeting, I know that he didn’t need to necessarily hear all about the importance of gratitude. We expect a lot out of teens today – work hard in school, get a job, act like an adult, stay innocent, be polite & grateful, and so on.

This young man is grateful for his friends, his family, and his life.  That’s more than I can say for myself on a regular basis. It takes effort for me sometimes to feel gratitude and recognize it.

Create Routine, Routines, Gratitude, MarketingCreating a Routine

I will always preach to my clients the importance of creating a positive and consistent routine for their marketing. Things like posting a blog the same time and day every week, checking social media regularly, and creating fluidity to the voice of the story across all channels.

Routines work best when they flow from your personal life to your professional life. When my mentee told me that his goal for the next 8 days is so write 10 pages of narrative every day, I realized that I haven’t been doing something so regimented to practice my own skills.

 

My Vision as a Marketer:

To create beautiful expressions that tell the story for each company that I provide services to.

Goals Toward that Vision:

Spend 1 hour each day coming up with a new way to reach people with that story. It will look like mini-marketing campaigns.

What is a positive routine you are keeping to grow or improve yourself?

Building the Breakdown Muscle for Sales Success

Going from failure to failure will improve your sales and marketing

Why? You need to build the failure muscle in order to close that big sale or reach that target audience. It seems that failure is often looked down upon in our society. The emotions that we associate with failure are shame, embarrassment, disappointment, and anger. That is why I don’t think of it as failure when something I’ve tried doesn’t work out – it’s just a breakdown. Resilience is the most underrated virtue of successful business owners.

Shift your view of breakdowns to being about how you are taking a step toward success. It becomes a learning opportunity and leads you to a much more successful ending.  Sales and marketing require a lot of experimenting before finding what works. So fail often to find success. Beyond work, breakdowns are essential to build a muscle that we all must workout in order to achieve success.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill

It’s terrible that some kids grow up thinking that competition with others is the only way to win. Those same kids believe that getting things wrong are failures, rather than simple breakdowns that can lead to a success.

Embrace the Failures

Cast a wide net by practicing your breakdowns, and be ready to walk away from an idea if it doesn’t work. Here are some ways for you to workout that breakdown muscle.

  • Experiment in a Safe Place

The projects and prospect with the lease downsides are a great place to start. Avoid projects where the cost of failure is prohibitive.

  • Try New Things

Take the time to try all kinds of ideas. Try lots of different approaches to your sales and marketing tactics.

  • Know When You Have Failed

I know that it is difficult to walk away from an idea that was great in concept, but being truly self-aware and listening closely will offer an opportunity to try something else that will succeed.

  • Recognize the Impact and Make a Plan

After you have a meltdown (or rightfully choose not to), pause and look at the results of your failure. Really look at the sales reports or feedback analysis. Understanding the impact of your failure is key to finding the new road toward your success.

 

Let’s remove the word failure from our work vocabulary. It doesn’t lead us anywhere useful. Instead, let’s celebrate having breakdowns for success.

Are you ready to celebrate your breakdowns?

The Adventure Generation

Before you start writing your marketing message, think about the people you are trying to connect with. 

Understand This Generation 

Adventure. That’s what it’s all about.

Remember the days of living in a neighborhood? I’m talking about the real kind of neighborhood where kids could run around free because they were always within sight or ear shot of someone’s mom. I am among the lucky ones who got to be part of that generation of freedom and adventure. We were our own tribe of Goonies. Everyday in the yard or down the street we had an adventure – looking for treasures or just playing games. Still, we were rightfully afraid of cops, robbers and drug dealers…but not enough to be kept gated in.

The Goonies generation, as I call it, were born between 1973-1983. It’s a subset of Gen Y / Millennial (according to me). This group is one of the first generations to be introduced to technology at a young age, but not born with a computer in hand. We still remember brick phones and the “revolution” of graphical calculators. We were old enough to experience the world during the OJ Simpson trial, Columbine shootings, Bill Clinton scandals, and the first World Trade Center bomb. We voted for the first non-white president and gay marriage rights.

Adventure, Generations, demographic, marketing

Goof Balls. The Goonies Generation

Talking to This Demographic

Trying to connect with this subset of a generation is not easy. We are split into the tech-savvy and the anti-tech people.  Most of us are liberal, but many still have conservative family values. So what can we all agree on? Adventure

No matter what sub-subset we are part of, the Goonies generation craves adventure. We were raised on it and it lies in the core of our being. So when you want to connect with someone in their thirties (currently), ask yourself what adventure you can offer.  Keep this in mind in terms of your marketing and promotional messages. 

The Art of Storytelling

Storytelling Your Marketing Message

That’s what content marketing really is anyway… telling a story to your target customers.

Art of Storytelling, storytelling, CEO Candi

 

Interpretation – When someone hears your story, he or she will usually redefine it and the story becomes new ideas based on how the listener (your customer) interpreted it.

Shared Experience – As you tell a happy story, listeners will also feel happy. Through the inflection in your voice, the words you choose, or how things are described the listener will experience what you are feeling or revealing.

Emotional Ties – The difference between telling a story and just talking is the flow. Telling a story moves in a specific fashion that causes people to become emotionally attached to your story. These emotions help people to remember the story. In the long run, this is what creates customer loyalty.

Creating Brain Activity – A well-told story can cause several parts of the brain to activate. Make someone feel hungry for the food you provide feel the relief of the massage you can offer, or smell the sweet roses you will deliver – all through the words you choose.

So what is your brand’s story and how are you telling it?

Open for Business, Storytelling, Content Marketing