Monday, December 26, 2016

Why Now is the Perfect Time to Start Email Marketing (Even If You Don’t Have a List to Send To)

You’ve heard that email marketing is a great tool to drive awareness, sales, and repeat business.

You’ve even seen stats like 66 percent of consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email marketing message.

So you’re ready to give email marketing a try and see what all the fuss is about.

Then it hits you: Why bother with email marketing if you don’t even have a list to send to?

How to Get Your First 100 Email Subscribers

When you’re brand new to email marketing, building an email list seems like a huge obstacle.

But in reality, there are plenty of people out there, ready to join your email list in a moment’s notice. You just need to entice them with a visible, convenient, and compelling sign-up experience.

Let’s look at four places you can get your first 100 email subscribers:

1. Your website 

If you’re getting website traffic but neglecting to collect contact information, there’s a good chance most of your visitors will leave your site and never come back. That’s why you need a website sign-up form.

If you have a WordPress site, create a professional, mobile-optimized sign-up form with our new Constant Contact Forms for WordPress plugin.

Not a WordPress user? Your Constant Contact account automatically has a web sign-up form ready for you. Check the “List Growth Tools” tab in your account, where you can easily customize the form and edit its title, contact fields, and appearance.

Tip: Make it enticing for people to join your email list by offering an incentive. For example, By Paige offers new email subscribers 10 percent off their next order.

2. Your personal email account

Think about the emails you’re already sending on a day-to-day basis. Chances are that the contacts from your personal email account will be interested in your email marketing messages, as well.

Create a quick message to send to the contacts you interact with regularly. Something like:

Hi ____________,

I’m starting a new email list for ______________ (business or audience). Would you like to receive emails with ______________________ (what’s in it for them)?

I’m planning to send emails out on a ____________   (frequency) basis, and you can easily unsubscribe anytime if the information isn’t right for you.

You can sign up directly here______________ (link to your sign-up form).

In addition to proactively reaching out to your contacts, update the email signature in your personal email account to include a link to your sign-up form.

3. Your social media following

Promote your email list to your social media following, starting with a few social media posts.

Here’s a great example from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey:

In this example, the foundation does a great job of articulating who would be interested in the newsletter, including relevant hashtags, and including a sign-up link.

Tip: To increase the visibility of a similar tweet or post, you can pin your tweet or Facebook post to the top of your feed. This ensures it’s one of the first things people see when they visit your social pages.

You can also collect contacts on an ongoing basis from Facebook by adding Constant Contact’s Join My Mailing List App to your Facebook Business Page.

Here’s an example from Treat Cupcake Bar’s page:

Don’t overlook Facebook’s Call to Action button at the top of the page.

We use the Call to Action button on the Constant Contact Facebook Page to encourage visitors to sign-up for our Hints & Tips newsletter so they can get our best email marketing and social media resources delivered twice each month.

4. Your storefront

If you have a brick and mortar location, every customer that visits is a potential email subscriber.

Set up a pen and paper sign-up sheet in your store and use this simple script to ask for email addresses.

If you have a tablet, you can download the ListBuilder app to collect email addresses and automatically add them to your account — without having to transfer from a pen and paper sheet. ListBuilder is free and available for both Android and iOS users.

Or, make it easy for people to join your list using their own smartphones and our Text-to-Join tool. Choose a keyword for people to text to a designated number and they will be automatically added to your email list.

Constant Contact Try It Free

Don’t be afraid to start small.

If you start implementing these tools and tips, you’ll get 100 email contacts in no time.

Don’t be afraid to start sending emails to just a small group. As extendYoga owner, Arlet Koseian explains, sometimes a small email list is the best way to collect feedback early on:

“We started with just friends and family members on our list,” she explains. “That was really great because, in the beginning especially, getting feedback from friends and family is huge. I would send out a preview email to five people and see what they thought.”

With Constant Contact, you’ll also get personal coaching and educational resources so you don’t have to figure everything out on your own. Whether you’re just getting started or have questions later down the road, we’re here to help you.

Sign up for your free 60-day email marketing trial today 
Already have an account? Log in to put it to work!


Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

How to Create a Real Estate Email Marketing Strategy

When Brandon Stewart made the leap from architecture to real estate, he knew he’d have to market his real estate agency just as much as the properties he was trying to sell.

“For realtors, it’s important to stay in touch with people and to remind them on a regular basis of what it is that you do. When the time comes that they actually need your services, you’ll hopefully be the first person they think of because of your consistent marketing,” Brandon says.

In 2009, Brandon decided to make email marketing part of his real estate marketing strategy.

Using Constant Contact, Brandon started creating a monthly newsletter, and began sending it to existing clients. He quickly found that by providing helpful resources to current clients, he was able to reach an entirely new audience, as well.

“I realized that if I put content in the newsletter that is really popular, people would share it. That’s been invaluable,” Brandon says. “They share it on Facebook or pass it along to their friends, and then their friends ask to subscribe. Every time I send out a newsletter, I’ll get new
subscribers back.”

  • Tip: You can try email marketing for your real estate agency with a free, 60-day email marketing trial.

With Constant Contact, Brandon can easily insert images and include links to articles he thinks his audience will be interested in.

He is able to upload his own images and save time by sharing helpful information from other reliable resources.

“Much of my content comes from blogs or other sources, and I of course give total credit to the original source,” Brandon explains. “It saves me a lot of time because I don’t need to create new content on a monthly basis when there are already so many insightful and diverse blogs creating compelling content every day.”
  •  Tip: Constant Contact’s “Read More” tool allows you to drag-and-drop content into your email easily. After you copy and paste the article URL, we’ll generate a preview of the content, complete with an image, headline, first few lines of text, and citation. See how it works here.
In a competitive market, Brandon’s newsletters set him apart and allow him to show off his industry expertise.

After sending his Mid-Century Modern Newsletter for almost eight years, Brandon has become known as a trustworthy expert in his field.

“The emails are an important reinforcement of brand,” Brandon explains. “I get calls from people I’ve never met all the time. They get the newsletter, or a friend of theirs gets the newsletter, and they know I’m the person to call. It really helps establish credibility upfront.”

To promote the visibility of his newsletters, Brandon takes advantage of Constant Contact’s Social Share feature to easily share each email on his Facebook Page. 

Recently, Brandon has also started using Facebook Ads to get his newsletters in front of an even wider audience.

Brandon targets his ad to reach a local audience and gains valuable email subscribers with each campaign.

“It’s great to get new Likes on my Facebook page, but I’ve found they’re not as important as email subscribers because they don’t ensure you’ll reach the people who like your page.” Brandon says.

While Facebook uses an algorithm to limit the number of people who see your posts, email gives you more control over who you’re reaching. When a new contact opts into your mailing list, you can reach them in a place they likely visit every day — the inbox.

By consistently sharing engaging newsletters, Brandon has built a growing, loyal community.

What started as a list of about 300 people has grown to over 3,000 subscribers. And with open rates reaching double the industry average, it’s clear Brandon is offering his subscribers something of value, while also allowing them to get to know, like, and trust him.

“Through my newsletters I’m able to bring something completely different to the real estate market,” he explains. “Most realtors only focus on sales numbers and how prices have decreased on increased throughout the year. I’m able to bring content with significance beyond just the numbers.”

Constant Contact has the tools you need to make your business stand out, attract new customers, and develop long-lasting customer relationships.

If you’re looking to drive awareness and sales for your real estate agency, email marketing can help. Visit our Email Marketing for Real Estate Pages for tips, content ideas, and advice.


Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Single, Key Ingredient That Will Dramatically Improve Your Relationships

Work towards this, and your partners will do almost anything for you--and vice-versa 

How much should you consider the feelings and opinion of others before making decisions?

There's no easy answer to this question. Taking the time to see a potential decision through the eyes of others can help ensure the success of that decision. On the other hand, real leaders must often make tough choices, regardless of how the majority feels.

Emotional intelligence is a person's ability to identify emotions (in both themselves and others), to recognize the powerful effects of those emotions, and to use that information to inform and guide behavior.

Notice that inherent to this definition is the ability to use one's knowledge about emotion. Thus, emotional intelligence involves not only understanding how emotions work in a given situation, but the ability to manage a situation to attain a desired result.

Put simply, emotional intelligence is the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you.

But how does emotional intelligence help you manage relationships, especially when you need to make tough decisions?

The Key Ingredient

Let's say you've taken over a company, department or team that's been headed in the wrong direction for some time.

For this scenario, bringing in your own team isn't an option. So, how do you start instituting change in a way that gets your team behind you?

All relationships require a certain key ingredient to be successful. This single factor makes all the difference in managing change effectively...or not.

What's the key ingredient?


Think about it: If you truly trust your leader, aren't you motivated to do just about anything he or she asks? In the same vein, a truly effective leader learns to trust his or her team.

Which leads to the next question: How do you gain trust of a new team?

Humans all share certain emotional needs. For example, people generally crave sincere acknowledgement and praise. Recognizing that, good leaders first focus on the positive (and potential) in his or her team.

Additionally, it's helpful when a leader gets to know "the old way" of doing things before introducing new methods or styles. That's because people are often emotionally attached to their way of doing things, regardless of how "right" or "wrong" they are.

Learning from your team helps you get to know their world, demonstrates you value their experience, and helps you identify each individual team member's strengths, weaknesses, and style of communication.

By getting to know your team, their challenges, and their way of working, not only will you begin to see things from their perspective...

You'll begin to earn their trust. In time, they'll be much more willing to hear your ideas--and more motivated to get behind them.

Of course, your job is to turn things around. To do that, you'll actually have to make changes. Your team also must be able to take constructive criticism--it's the only way they'll grow.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Powerful and Free SEO Technique

A Powerful and Free SEO Technique

I've been doing SEO for 15 years, and one thing is constant - everyone wants to be #1 on Google - or close.

Some pay expensive SEO experts to help them get better position. But here's something you can do yourself for free. And Google loves it.

Update your homepage often. How often? Daily! Yes daily! Google loves active websites.

An update is simple, it just means you edit or add text. Nothing else. Do not bother changing design or pics. Just change some text. Google will spot the change and flag you as an active website. After a while the Google spiders will be "trained" to check your site often. Which means you'll rank higher.

But wait, I can hear you complaining now, "I have to do this daily, I'm very busy".

But ask yourself, are you really too busy to get Google to love you and promote your business for free?

OK, I thought not. Do it. If it doesn't work you can always blame me!

Content written and posted by Ken Abbott

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

7 Steps to Inspirational Conversations (and More Fulfilling Relationships)

 Develop the ability to listen and engage with others in more meaningful ways.

Creating meaningful conversations with others is a powerful skill in today's society. With the rise of emotional intelligence in business, people are starting to note the significance of genuine human connection, and the ability to be attuned to the feelings of others.

Unfortunately, many people struggle with facilitating engaging conversation. They feel awkward, aren't sure how to start conversations, and find themselves sitting with people they care about not saying a word.

Others default to invasive rapid-fire questions that make people feel like they're being interrogated. Another group of people feel forced to stick to safe topics like the weather, and find themselves bored out of their minds.

Instead of continuing these unpleasant interactions, discover the seven ways to facilitate more engaging conversations and create better relationships.

Here are seven ways to have better conversations.

1. Ask questions about a person's interests, not what they do.

Whether it's a family member or someone you're just meeting, take an active role in asking them questions about their interests. Hearing about people's passions gives you the opportunity to learn more meaningful things about who they are, and provides a moment for you to share how you connect to their hobbies.

Asking about interests rather than jobs has an additional benefit--it prevents you from falling into the trap of social scripts. When your questions to acquaintances and loved ones are the standard, "What's new?" "How's it going?" "Hows the job?" or "How's the dog?" it makes it much more difficult for people to tell you what they're really feeling.

Most of us have been taught from a young age how to answer common questions, so we have automated responses. When two two people fall into the trap of talking to each other like robots, they never get to the deeper feelings that make us human, which prevents more gratifying interactions.

2. Ask questions about a person's relationships, not about their partner.

Yes, it's important to mention and attend to significant other's in a person's life.

However, when you focus on the relationship instead of the individual, it provides room to discuss what's been going well, what's an area of growth, what they love about each other, what drives them nuts about their partner, and each of these conversations are richer and more entertaining than hearing about how someone's significant other is "fine."

3. Ask questions about a person's short term and long term goals, instead of their current job.

While asking about a person's job can start a conversation, when you pivot to goals, it gives the person permission to discuss both their current occupation and where they want to go.

Goals, motivation, inspiration, passion, all of these things bring people together in appreciation, love, and the present moment. Focus on topics that elicit that energetic state and your relationships will transform into something beautiful.

4. Share your experience of being with them in this moment.

One great tip from relational psychology is sharing your subjectivity with others. When you're listening to the stories of another person, tell them how it makes you feel to experience their words.

Often, we hold in thoughts about our own thoughts and feelings because they feel too vulnerable. However, when these experiences are shared, it can benefit both parties.

For example, when someone tells you something that makes you feel close to them, it's a great opportunity to say, "I'm feeling close to you right now and that makes me happy. Thank you for sharing that with me."

5. Give compliments and share what's on your mind, even if it's not planned out.

Stop holding yourself back! When you see someone with cool glasses, even if they're a stranger, tell them.

When you run into someone on a regular basis and you find yourself admiring the way they smile, tell them how seeing their happiness improves your mood. The more you give others, the more you will receive.

6. Listen for key words and phrases that invite further questions.

In every sentence there are golden nuggets practically begging for you to inquire further. Practicing the art of listening means refining your ability to search for, identify, and then ask more about the gold you hear.

If someone says, "I've been really stressed at work lately, especially with my new puppy at home," then you have at least three nuggets you could ask about. You could ask more questions about their
stress, their work, or their puppy.

Changing the way you listen to others and refining the questions you ask can transform your interactions.

7. Be attentive to other people's feelings rather than the content of their speech.

Next level tip: instead of getting lost in the details of a person's speech, start becoming more in tune with how they are feeling. Pay attention to tone of voice, volume, and phrasing. Note the subtle emotional shifts you experience while they're talking.

When you're able to be aware of how a person's feeling, understand what they're saying, ask meaningful questions, and be aware of how you're experiencing them in that moment, you will have exceedingly meaningful interactions.

Developing these skills will improve your connection to others, facilitate more meaningful relationships, and learn from every single person you meet--an invaluable skill in today's society.

Image credit: Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Monday, November 28, 2016

These 10 Networking Mistakes Will Get in the Way of Your Success

 Studies show that 84% of people still prefer in-person meetings, and 85% say that in-person meetings build stronger, more meaningful business relationships

Networking with others is one of the most important ways that we have in business to find new customers and to make connections with others that can lead to our long-term success. While communications technology has taken over many of our business interactions, studies show that 84% of people still prefer in-person meetings, and 85% say that in-person meetings build stronger, more meaningful business relationships.

Unfortunately, many of us under utilize this important resource due to a variety of mistakes we make when it comes to networking. According to career expert Ines Temple, president of LHH-DBM Peru and LHH Chile, these 10 specific networking mistakes can get in the way of your success.

1. "I don't like to make contacts"

Making contacts is "the conscious and voluntary activity of establishing and maintaining genuine and long-term relationships with persons who we appreciate and respect." It's a part of living and interacting within a community and we do it every day.

2. "Contacts are useful only to find work"

It's a fact that 9 out of 10 jobs are landed, whether directly or indirectly, through contacts. But networking is about making those relationships worthwhile, renewing the bond, and mutually redefining our identity, image, and reputation with each interaction. (And asking a contact for a job is a serious mistake!).

3. "I network only when it's convenient for me"

This is tantamount to saying "I remember you only when I need you." Networking solely for your own benefit is self-centered and may be even manipulative. It's the perfect way to destroy a relationship. We can smell manipulation miles away!

4. "I'm too busy"

Although nothing beats face-to-face interactions to build relationships of trust and affection, digital alternatives are effective to prevent us from vanishing from the face of the earth, a deadly sin in the professional world.

5. "It distracts me from serious work"

Networking takes time and energy, but it is key to employability-it is the "salesforce" of our image and reputation. Without contacts, our accomplishments and progress remain unknown and our personal brand ends up being worthless.

6. "I don't like to go to social events"

The professional world also provides alternatives to interact with new and diverse people and expand your thinking patterns. Hanging out with the same people every day shows disregard for others, and we may end up being left behind.

7. "Have you heard the latest rumor?"

Using our contact network to harm reputations or to gossip destroys our credibility and our own reputation as serious or loyal individuals, even if we only become involved by listening. Is it worth it? You never know what tomorrow may bring...

8. "I can only afford to build relationships with important contacts"

It's a serious mistake to think that only high-level contacts are valuable, and look down on others or to be arrogant. All people are worthy regardless of what they work on. There's no such thing as a small contact!

9. "I have very few contacts"

As adults, we usually have 500 to 1,000 friends and acquaintances between school and college classmates, current and former work colleagues, people we know from our club, gym, the neighborhood, church, from our business, and the relatives and acquaintances of all of the above. Suppliers and clients, former suppliers and clients. Parents of our children's friends... Make your list and protect it-ideally, in the cloud.

10. "I must impress my contacts"

The essence of every good relationship is trust, not impressing others. Acting appropriately, and being genuinely warm and authentic opens the doors to trust and credibility. Being polite to everyone and listening to them with a real interest benefits your personal and professional image and reputation. The secret is to inspire others and always leave something valuable for them in every interaction!

Image Credit: Getty images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Email Marketing at its Best!

Email marketing is one of the most successful options available for us today. It is important to understand that without email marketing you cannot really succeed in the world today. However, some of the standard points to be understood are as follows.

You should make sure that the subject line is catchy and attractive for each and every reader.

If you are targeting a particular category of people, make sure that your title is good enough to attract at least those whom you are targeting. With this being said, your primary focus should be on creating a subject line that is simply perfect for your target audience.

Your content should not be too long.

If your content is extremely long, it is possible that it might exhaust your readers and-and they will possibly switch to another email and even delete your email. In some cases, you can expect the situation to be worse if they think of unsubscribing from your mailers. This is a warning sign, and we hope that you understand this!

Make sure that you post content that is extremely important for them.

If something is important for the readers, it will help you determine the fact that you have an opportunity to express it in your own way. However, your main focus should not be diverted. If you divert from the main point, things will get out of hand and you will face the consequences for the same. We hope that you do not make this mistake and suffer, in this case. To be safe, we request you to create content that is extremely important for your readers.

The budget factor is even important.

With email marketing, you should understand that there will be no easy way out in this case because you will have to sell out money to complete the process. However, an important point to be noted in this case is that you can look for plans and opportunities that can help you promote more at a minimum cost. There are various ways in which you can do so. So make sure that you think of ways in which you can cut down on your budget path without compromising on the quality factor.

Your reach should be on the higher side.

If you are targeting only a few hundreds of people, it is possible that you might have to pay more and the success rate, in that case, would be considerably low. With this being said, you should understand that you should target more people for this activity. After all, this is a promotional strategy and so, your priority should be to reach out to more and more people with this strategy.

It is important for you to understand your product or service property because you need to list out the key points.

Key points or highlights are what people are looking for in your email marketing content. They do not have even 5 minutes to waste reading the theory you are planning to present in front of them. Even if you want to present the theory, people will read it only if they are satisfied with the first look at your presentation and product or service is required for them. This can happen only if you list down the key points or highlights. So, list down the same and flash it at the readers to build interest in their mind.

Pique curiosity because it will help you get their attention in instantly.

There are people who do not opt for this trick because they are free to use bizarre words. This is one of the ways in which you can keep your readers keen to find out more. Don’t think that violating the information cap occasionally is bad for you. With email marketing, FB trick in the book should be considered, and this can help you get readers reading your email.

Make sure that you do not underestimate your readers.

Anything that is unnecessary and foolish might not be accepted by the readers. So, be careful.

Make sure that the content you have posted is interesting and engaging.

In the second. We have noted that your content should not be too long. This is true, but at the same time it is important to be sure that you create content that is interesting and engaging. You can find the number of ways in which you will make your email marketing content interesting but to engage them, you will have to think really hard. Engaging email can be extremely difficult for us if the product or service you are offering has a limited response from people and companies. For example, if you are into the business of animation, and you are promoting a topic like 3D models, you will have to ensure that the content you have created makes sense and engage your riddles in a way that they would not only visit your website and social networking pages but also find a need for it even if it is not really necessary for them at a given point of time.

With this, we are only trying to focus on the fact that engaging content is difficult to create and so you should work really hard for it.

Realize that branding is more important than marketing.

If you simply ask your readers to visit your website and find more about your products and services, your conversion rate will be low. You need to give them the right things that will motivate them to visit your website on their own, and this can be done with the help of branding. Let them know that you have a credible reputation in the market and they can rely on your products or services without thinking twice. Creating this impression in their mind will be difficult for you with the help of an email, but it is possible. So, be positive and keep going till you find success.

Image credit: shutterstock

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Relationships Are What Leverages Hard Work Into Success

Building good connections with clients and employees is important for a business to grow.

Every successful entrepreneur knows that relationships are key. No business is made in a vacuum, and the way you interact with clients, employees, coworkers and other entrepreneurs can give your business life or bring it to its death.

Unfortunately, there’s no perfect how-to on building the right kind of relationships. For example, you could meet someone who could potentially become a huge client for your startup. However, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or possibly even having poor body language, can end the relationship before even starts.

Entrepreneurs also have to be concerned about who they’re building relationships with. If your largest client is somebody that you can’t trust, then you need to ask yourself: is our business safe with this person? Putting your faith in the wrong people can put your business in a pretty tough spot.

With all this in mind, there’s little that you’ll get very far without some good connections. You never know what a connection can offer and the bigger your network, the better.

Engaging with others.

One of the first things you’ll need to do after you start a business -- and likely even before you start a business -- is connection building. Finding the right connections can help you and your business succeed. But where do you find these connections, and once you find them, how do you form the relationship?

The best way to find good connections is through networking. There are plenty of ways to approach this -- you could ask your friends and family if they have anyone who could help you, you could research possible connections on your own or you could go to networking events.

If you aren’t good at networking, then don’t let this step deter you. Not many people are born ready to network and building a real business connection with a complete stranger can be a difficult process. But practice makes perfect -- besides, these are connections you’ll need to succeed. You can’t afford to let these people slip away. If you’re quick to adapt, then you’ll quickly learn the ins and outs of networking. If not, there are plenty of helpful guides around the internet that can give you tips.

Sometimes, the networking is the easy part -- but finding the people to network with is difficult. If this is your issue, consider checking out this list of helpful organizations. Not only are they great for networking, but you could also end up learning some other useful skills along the way. Also be sure to check out any local entrepreneurial networking events. They happen all the time, and a quick search online can help you find anything nearby that could help.

Building value.

One tip I can give to those who aren’t the best at networking: Be valuable.

Just take a moment to understand how the entire process of networking works. Normally, it will be you and a complete stranger. There’s a good chance that you want or need something from them or someone they know, which means that they’re valuable to you.

If you walk up to this person and immediately ask them to give something to you, what do you think they’ll say? If they yes, then you’ve found one of the most generous people in the world. If they say no, then you’ve met a rational human being.

When a stranger walks up to you and asks you to listen to their business pitch, asks for the contact of someone you know or asks for funding, your normal response would be “no.” In all honesty, this should be your reaction. After all, you’re not going to give up something important to a stranger just because they asked.

The same works for when you’re networking. Recognize that whoever you want to approach is a person, and you’re a stranger to them. Make yourself valuable. When you approach them, try to build a genuine connection. Ask them about their business and their goals, and if you’re at a networking event, ask them why they came. Everyone who goes to a networking event is looking for something -- if you can help them out, then they’ll be much more likely to help you out.

If they aren’t looking for anything, perhaps they’ll learn something about you during a normal conversation. If you build a connection with them, they’ll be more likely to help you with what you need.

Working with other entrepreneurs.

One of the greatest parts about entrepreneurship is that it’s always changing. This keeps things dynamic, sure, but it also means that the field is constantly innovating -- and innovation is good.

An innovation that I’ve noticed going on in the interconnectivity of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are becoming more likely to work with each other instead of against each other.

This is happening because entrepreneurs understand the importance of relationships. Every relationship you build is a connection that could help you down the road. If I were to connect with an entrepreneur who wanted me to help get them exposure, then I’m immediately proving myself valuable to them. This increases the chances of them helping me if I need to tap into their network.

Just remember that you can be valuable to anyone -- you just need to prove it to them. If you want to have someone help you, help them first. The more you do for others, the more they’ll do for you. People are built to work together in a community and a network is no different.

Image credit: Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Offline In The Digital Age: Why Traditional Advertising Isn't Dead

In today’s crowded marketplace, businesses (both B2B and B2C) are fighting to get their brands noticed. Marketers have a plethora of tools to choose from, whether they decide to use a solely digital strategy or incorporate a blend of both traditional and digital tactics. More importantly, brands need to begin thinking like their customer and understand how their target markets are accessing information and consuming content.

Digital marketers are obsessed with pay-per-click models, but that doesn’t mean companies should forget about offline marketing strategies. While it is much more difficult to specifically measure offline marketing such as billboards and paper ads, it is a good way to increase your brand’s awareness, and it brings your brand into the real world.

The challenge many businesses face is finding the creativity to craft compelling ads that not only capture people’s attention but also communicate an informative message in a short amount of time. For example, a billboard advertising a film needs to find space to include the movie title, release date, and a catchy tagline if possible. Such a billboard is likely to be placed along a stretch of road where drivers have only seconds to read and digest the message. And traditional marketing is often a one-way street because advertisers using traditional methods of marketing are making impressions on consumers by talking to, or at them. Contrast this with social media, where marketers can foster a dialogue between brand and consumer through mediums like Facebook and Twitter.

Some businesses are warning against completely writing off traditional advertising. The key is finding ways to incorporate digital tracking methods into offline billboards to verify that the message is effective. Marketers like StickerRide are using mobile apps to track their campaigns and unique domain URLs to measure online impact. “The out-of-home (OOH) advertising market in the United States is $7.3 billion and growing,” says Mikhail Marchenko, CEO and Co-Founder at StickerRide. “Consumers have multiple encounters with OOH advertising every day, so for brands it is important to target in order to receive nationwide coverage and to increase brand awareness.” Drivers sign up to place campaign stickers on their cars and brands can track car-specific metrics to see how their campaigns are doing. Not only does this help a brand get the word out about their campaign, a car-centric campaign also creates brand ambassadors and loyalty. Drivers can pick and choose which campaigns they drive around for, providing an opportunity for fans to connect with their favorite brands.

Another brand, Melissa’s Cupcakes, understands the value offline advertising can bring. With so many marketers focused on creating the ideal digital journey for customers, businesses tend to forget that customers are looking for offline touch points, too. A business like Melissa’s Cupcakes benefits from having a traditional marketing strategy to ensure consumers, both online and offline, are taken on an ideal journey that comes with multiple touch points. And retailers who do have both marketing strategies in place may need to take another look at what types of ads they’re creating. If the offline and online campaigns don’t complement one another, marketers miss the opportunity to educate their customers and create a cohesive experience.

Building a holistic marketing campaign involves finding creative ways to digitally track traditional advertising, which is made all the more possible thanks to smartphones and mobile apps. If you decide to hand out business cards, consider including a QR code that can be easily scanned on a smartphone or has a trackable coupon code. Lyft and Uber are just two companies that distribute thousands of business cards every day with referral codes giving riders money off their first ride, and those coupons are unique and easy to track.

Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign. Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space. And the rapid rise of smartphones and other tracking tools has made it possible for brands to begin tracking various offline campaigns, a feat that was previously unattainable. If the goal of businesses in today’s crowded marketplace is to differentiate and get noticed, it makes sense to use as many channels as possible, both digital and traditional, to attract your target market.


Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

10 Networking Secrets From a Social Worker Who Landed Deepak Chopra as Her Mentor With One Tweet

How to be fearless enough to put yourself out there and form genuine connections with influential people.

When I first crossed paths with Kristin Meekhof on social media, we clicked right away. I thought it was because we had so much in common. We are both social workers turned authors, and we'd both been widowed at a young age.

Over the past year and a half or so since we first exchanged emails, I've had the opportunity to meet her in person. And I've learned that Kristin has an incredible ability to connect with everyone.

She's fearless about reaching out and introducing herself to some of the most influential people in the world. And although she isn't a 'name dropper' by any means, over the past year I've stumbled across evidence that she's met Oprah and had lunch with Elizabeth Gilbert.

Kristin Meekhof with her mentor Deepak Chopra

She's visited Deepak Chopra at his home and she's been interviewed by Katie Couric! She's never hired a PR firm or engaged in any expensive media campaigns. Instead, she's reached out and formed genuine connections with people on her own accord.

In addition to connecting with top influencers, Kristin, a self-help expert, also manages to score incredible opportunities for herself. Whether she's attending an engagement for the United Nations, or she's conducting a library program that helps widows, Kristin is    always engaged in something extraordinary.

But, I know that these opportunities and connections don't happen by chance. Kristin, a master's level social worker who works a full-time day job, works hard to make those things happen.

I asked Kristin to share some of her top tips for connecting with influential people and creating new opportunities. Here are her secrets for making powerful connections:

1. Do your homework.

Understand what the person supports and is passionate about. Do an internet search and go to their website to see where their focus lies. Your work may not align well with their platform.

2. Remain open.

I remember reaching out to Deborah Heisz the Editor-in- Chief of Live Happy magazine. Graciously she took my call, but didn't think my pitch for her magazine was the best fit. Instead, she offered to have me write a personal essay.

I had no idea who else she had approached to contribute as well. And long story short--my piece, "The Healing Power of Gratitude" is now published in her book.

Other contributors include: Arianna Huffington, Hoda Kotb, Alanis Morissette, Gretchen Rubin, Jason Mraz, Nikki Taylor. And in March of this year Deborah introduced me at the United Nations bookstore as a contributor to her book because the Live Happy book is a part of the UN bookstore.

3. Reach out to people you don't know.

Initially, I reached out to Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP via Twitter. At the time we had no friends in common. But not only did he end up writing a blurb for my book, but he also became my friend and mentor.

4. Be succinct.

When you write or speak about your work make sure that you have it down to three or four sentences maximum. If they want additional information they will ask for it. Often people will judge an email by length alone and you want to make sure your note is read.

5. Give a compliment.

For example, make sure that you've read what they wrote and tell them why the piece resonated with you. Then, you are able to establish a personal connection.

6. Align yourself with someone who has a similar background.

I directly reached out to Katie Couric via Twitter because unfortunately, we both lost our husbands to advanced cancer. And to my surprise--and delight--she replied and conducted an in- depth Yahoo Interview with me as well.

When I noticed American Greetings was doing a gratitude campaign, I reached out to them. Personally, I've been keeping a gratitude journal since 2002--long before it was popular. They responded to my tweet and invited me to create a Thanklist on their page.

7. Go ahead and attend events where you don't know anyone else.

You will be in a in a room with like-minded people, so don't be afraid to enter into a conversation and exchange contact information.

8. Don't judge a name by recognition alone.

Some of the most influential people I've met are names you wouldn't recognize. These include executive producers for national networks, board members for major foundations, and leaders directly involved with the United Nations.

9. Leave space for follow through.

While you might not get an initial 'yes' you don't want to slam the door either. So remain polite and tell them you're open to future discussions. Perhaps, you'll be able to collaborate in a different way.

10. Be authentic.

There are a lot of takers out there who are self- absorbed. Being genuine gets noticed. You can't fake passion and sincerity. And if you don't believe in yourself, don't count on someone else buying into you either.

Image credit: Kristin Meekhof

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
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Friday, November 18, 2016

4 Ways Small Businesses Can Do Advertising Right

Advertising can bring you quick success. That’s the reason it’s still in vogue and will continue to be so.

Small businesses need to shrug off the preconceived notion that advertising is uber-expensive. It’s not always expensive; getting started with Facebook ads costs only $50. Cost is not a legitimate concern because to fully harness the power of advertising, things must be done in the right ways.

The right ways include:

Adding Value to the Ad

Creativity has always been a must in advertising. Lately, however, its importance has increased by leaps and bounds. Large businesses can shell out hefty sums of money, but that doesn’t always guarantee creativity.

A small business can walk down the creative aisle and add value to its ads. Is it always expensive? No, it’s not. One can add value to an advertising campaign without coughing up too much money.

Take a look at the promotional banner below:

If you are a horror movie buff like me, you can identify the movie from miles away. Yes, it’s the poster of “Blair Witch Project (1999),” the film that redefined the found-footage horror genre. Against a tiny production budget of $22000, the movie raked in $250 million.

In the second example, we see a rainbow colored graphic. Take a look:

No celebrity image, no 3D character and no stopmotion video. What we see above are a little text with a rainbow collection of colors in the background. In case you are wondering how this strategy worked for Radiohead, it was meant to promote their seventh album called “Rainbows.”

The design was to signify the album title.

The album registered three million downloads and earned a revenue of $10 million.

These examples suggest that creativity and expense don’t always go hand in hand, especially when it comes to advertising — a primer for small businesses.

The Right Ways to Lower Your Small Business Advertising Costs 

Media and Ad Experience 

Small businesses often use leftover ideas from big brands as themes for their ads. Some of them even force people (unknowingly) to notice their ads. The result is obtrusive user-experience. While incorporating multimedia elements is advisable, a small business must be very cautious when using them.

That’s because rich media ads can be intrusive. Sometimes very little activity from users, such as hovering the mouse over an ad banner or scrolling down a page, can prompt rich media on that page to load. Due to increased competition, advertisers are foisting ad content on users, resulting in an intrusive experience. Ads in autoplay media format are the worst. People who land on a page with autoplay ads are being forced to consume content without their consent. And on top of that, they lose bandwidth.

A small business cannot turn its back on rich media ads. Millennials are their target consumer demographic as they prefer buying from small, locally-owned businesses. But what do rich media ads have to do with millennials? Unlike boomers, millennials reject hard selling and value experience-driven shopping. And their love for video marketing is no secret. Rich media advertising can be a great way to lure them, provided the video quality is high and the ad is not obtrusive.

Programmatic Advertising

With programmatic ad buying, human involvement is minimized and the entire process is conducted via digital interfaces. The focus of programmatic advertising is on the audience, contrary to traditional PPC advertising, which prioritized the publishing website.

How can programmatic benefit small businesses?

An ad can be published on a relevant website, but visitors may still not click on it. Programmatic, on the other hand, connects them to people who are highly likely to buy from them. Small businesses have limited budget, they hate experimenting and desire to zero in on their prospects. Hence, programmatic works for them.

Among programmatic platforms, some are tailor-made for small businesses. Such platforms include:

Pocketmath – This self-serve platform is optimized for mobile experience. Its built-in tools are for real-time bidding and for pro-DIY businesses (read small businesses).

Visibl – This platform facilitates targeted video ad campaigns for small firms. The best part about it is it integrates with a slew of advertising networks including Appnexus, Google Adsense, Brightroll, etc.

ReTargeter – Just as the name suggests, ReTargeter is for retargeting. Retargeting can increase conversion rate by 150 percent for small businesses. The USP of ReTargeter is it allows for website-based retargeting, as well as demographic retargeting.

Fair and transparent pricing makes programmatic advertising profitable for small companies. In traditional advertising, purchasers buy a bulk of impression. But programmatic lets them buy one impression at a time, allowing them to calculate the exact price and decide whether it’s right for them.

Custom Advertising Networks

Third-party marketplaces for buying and selling of ad units are often skewed to SMBs. One such marketplace called Infolinks claims to increase ad profit without increasing traffic. Bringing traffic to a site requires either time (in case it’s organic) or money (in case it’s paid), sometimes both. A small business will want to skip it for obvious reasons.

Let’s take a look at two custom ad platforms that can help small enterprises:

    •    Infolinks – The company claims to render high engagement ad units. It’s not a far-fetched claim as Infolinks is built on a state-of-the-art technology that can extract user intent in real-time. Infolinks has a comprehensive approach to ad relevance, as in, the keywords selected for real-time bidding are relevant and so are the audiences.
    •    Sourcengo – This niche-specific platform is only for business software vendors. Sourcengo lets publishers in the software and tech niche connect to each other, and monitors the connection using its smart tools. Ad products are of various types — from widgets to RSS feeds. The platform is optimized for handheld devices and its API is scalable.
While leveraging the said networks is useful, other avenues for ad buying should be open. Small businesses cannot expect integrated solution from every platform. So they need to harness CRM solutions, which capture marketing and advertising data. They can also harness tools that assist creative workflow.

Summing Up

When it comes to success in advertising, there’s no charted territory. Yes, digital tools and solutions work, but only as nodes amplifying the creative ideas invented by advertisers.

As mentioned already, creativity doesn’t cost a dime. Small businesses out there should come up with creative ideas and then act on them using the ways discussed here in this article.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Social Media Advertising vs. Traditional PPC

Advertising on the internet is a wonderful way to reach an audience that you would not have otherwise. Paid search and social media ads have come along way over the years and are now great tools to have in your overall search marketing efforts. While some people think of them as opposites or competitors, this isn’t true. They are separate entities that do different things and should be treated as such. So, which one is better and which one should you use? Find out.

Traditional PPC

For this article, I will be referring to Google AdWords as traditional, or paid, search. In today’s industry, Google AdWords is the largest and most popular advertising platform and has become interchangeable with paid search. There are more than 3.5 billion searches on Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) every single day.

Traditional PPC refers to using keywords to target users and then bidding on text advertisements to serve to them. Advertisers that run PPC campaigns will bid on the specific keywords that they want and when a user searches for said keyword, their ads will be displayed with the results on Google. If a user then clicks on their ad, they are charged for the ad.

While that is a very simple description, PPC is very complex and takes a lot of knowledge and expertise to really execute successfully. But what it comes down to is finding your target customers that you otherwise wouldn’t have based on their search queries and keywords. This is a goldmine for advertisers and help so many companies find their customers.

In Google AdWords, there are two main networks — the search network and the Google Display Network, or GDN. The search network is probably what you think of when you think of Google ads. They are the ads that show up on the top (or previously the side) of the results and they cover the whole search engine. On the other hand, Google Display Network, offers more visual ads, such as the banner ads that you will see at the very top of the page on Google. This gives advertisers the ability to give more visual ads and helps companies that want to work on goals that aren’t as conversion driven as text PPC ads.

Even though visual ads are more prominent on the Display Network, Google does have a wide range of formats for their PPC ads on the search network. They are still text based, but there are features that you can use to make your ads more attractive, like ad extensions, reviews, shopping ads, targeting, and more. Google is also constantly working on their formats, so expect even more variations in the future.

One of the biggest advantages of traditional PPC is the immense audience that you can reach with these ads. Google has more than 40,000 search queries every second. Over one year, Google has more than 1.2 trillion web searches. And that’s just data from right now. Google is just going to continue to grow thanks to their incredible advances and changes. They are constantly striving for the ultimate user experience, and in turn, their users increase all the time.

Since we have covered one of the biggest advantages of traditional PPC, let’s also cover one of the biggest misconceptions. A lot of people think that it isn’t for them because they don’t have a huge budget to compete. It’s not true that whoever has the highest budget wins. Instead, Google tries to focus on the relevance and the quality of the ad, not just the spend. However, with that said, there are keywords that just cost more than others. But don’t let that deter you from trying PPC ads out to see if they are worth the investment for your ROI.

Social PPC 

There are a lot of different social media sites that you can use and that you can advertise on. However, like for traditional PPC, I am going to focus on one for the sake of this article: Facebook ((NASDAQ:FB). Facebook has the highest number of users of any social media network and has the most complex and rewarding advertising platform.

Social PPC, also known as paid social, is when you advertise either your company as a whole, or your content on a social network. It can be similar to AdWords. Both promote your company, but there are differences. Instead of focusing on keywords and queries, you focus much more on people and this lets people find you.

With over 1.55 billion monthly users — the equivalent of more than 1/5 of the world’s population — Facebook has no rival when it comes to its reach or its ability to target its users. This really boils down to how much people really share on the site. People tell you their life story — if they are married, what their job is, where they live, their beliefs, etc. This gives advertisers so much information that is not available anywhere else.

My favorite part of advertising on Facebook is its feature, Lookalike audiences. With a Lookalike audience, you can upload any customer information that you have, and Facebook will match that data to a profile. Then, it will take those profiles and match them with other users, which gives you double the users that you can reach with your advertisements.

While there are so many great features and aspects of Facebook advertising, perhaps the greatest thing is the incredible ROI that you can get from the platform. Ads on Facebook are very affordable and are great for small businesses and other companies that don’t want to spend a ton to reach people.

Facebook Ads vs Google Ads: Which One is Better?

It’s hard to effectively say which one is better for your business. My personal opinion is that they both are very powerful advertising platforms that you should be utilizing. They are not the same thing and you can’t think of them as such. You should use both if you really want to push your company to as many people as possible.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Time For a Boost: Effective Marketing & Advertising Packages

Westchester Networking for Professionals introduces new advertising and marketing packages to their community of business professionals seeking to maximize their company’s visibility and exposure to generate new business leads. No business is too small to take advantage of these effective ways to market and promote their business. Businesses can choose from online, email or live networking event packages to enhance their visibility and exposure with WNFP’s community of professionals. Reservations require a minimum of 3 months, up to one full year for greater exposure of company services and products. ONLINE ADVERTISING Westchester Networking for Professionals has an average of 3,000 visitors per month browsing their website and website advertisers can gain significant exposure of those visitor with their company banner on website. Website advertisers can choose from an inside rotating banner, sidebar rotating banner with limited ads per location or sidebar static image banner to display their company messages. Banner ads will be placed on up to 4 Premium or Targeted pages. Not only will WNFP’s website visitors get your messages, but your messages may also be visible to 1,000’s of their opt in email subscribers and social media connections (Linkedin and Facebook). SPONSORSHIP & EVENT MARKETING Westchester Networking for Professionals hosts an array of events throughout the calendar year, these events would be a great opportunity for businesses to stand out from the crowd and showcase their services and products with our event marketing and sponsorship packages. The event marketing and sponsorship packages are offered at a minimum of 3 months reservations for an effective marketing campaign and greater exposure for your business services or products to their event attendees and community of business professionals. Sponsorship options are the most effective way to boost your business's visibility and exposure with WNFP community of professionals; they include online advertising; email advertising and event advertising all in one. Although Westchester Networking for Professionals has created these effective marketing and advertising packages to help their community of business professionals grow, enhance brand awareness and develop their businesses while generating leads for new customers, these packages can be customized to best suit any business’s needs. To learn more about Westchester Networking for Professionals marketing and advertising options visit their website at

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

6 Killer Tips for Building Strong Customer Relationships

As a small business owner, solopreneur or freelancer, competitors abound as many businesses and individuals offer the same services or products you are offering. Providing value added services or products is not enough to stand out and get people connected to you. It takes a powerful personal and business brand to provide the proof of your character and competence.  When this is evident, people will even lend their credibility to you so their circle of influence will refer others to using your services. You need to show sincere care and value towards others for them to sincerely care and value you.

Caring for and having a sincere interest in your current customer base gives you an edge over the competitors within your niche. This just makes good business sense. These customers trusted you or your company enough to already do business with you.

How to Show Customers You Care

Personalize Your Relationship with Them

There’s an adage that says — people will quit businesses before they quit friendships. The truth of this adage is even more evident in the small business world; customers feel close to those who address them personally and actively work to nurture a relationship with them. Connect and communicate with your customers using their names and know their preferences and what matters to them.

Keep Them Satisfied with What You’ve Got to Offer

Factually, this is the first way to show you really care to your clients as offering them good and satisfying products or services shows you really care about giving them the best products available. Keeping people not only satisfied but wowed by the services and products you provide is the first challenge that must be mastered before people will connect you with their circle of influence.

Listen and Respond to Them

Business owners must learn to listen to what their customers have got to say — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Whether through comments, polls or suggestions, listen and respond to your customers.

Do Not Hesitate to Appreciate Them

It is part of human psychology to feel valued whenever you are appreciated. Therefore, you must never hesitate to appreciate your customers and connections. Personalized introductory or ‘Thank you’ notes can go a long way in making your customers feel loved and appreciated.

Help Your Customers

If you truly care about someone, helping that individual whenever you have the power to do so will never be something hard for you. From useful tips to foolproof advice, there are many simple ways you can employ to provide help to your customers and make them feel they are important to you.

Give Them Rewards

Giving tangible rewards to customers has always proven to be one of the most effective ways to make them connected to you. It will also make them delight in referring others to you. Gifts, promos, discounts and coupons are some of the things you can use to reward your customers.

Let your customers know you care, and that will provide volumes in strengthening your relationship with them and getting connected or referred to others.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
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4 Tips for Growing a Sustainable Business

In the old days, before online rating places like Yelp, TripAdvisor, OpenTable and even RateMyProfessors and HealthGrades, the worst that would happen if a company or service provider dished out poor goods or lousy service is that they’d get a bad reputation. Maybe they’d even have to fold.

Consumers have more choices today than ever, and they vote with their dollars. One truly furious customer who deploys an aggressive social media lambasting campaign can do serious damage.
Michael Glauser is the executive director of Jeffrey D. Clark Center for Entrepreneurship in the John M. Huntsman School of Business in Salt Lake City, Utah, an entrepreneur, business consultant and the author of Main Street Entrepreneur: Build Your Dream Company Doing What You Love Where You Live. Glauser recently rode his bike around the U.S. interviewing entrepreneurs, and his perspective on entrepreneurship resonated with me in a recent conversation.

“Right now, we’re in what I call the ‘customer economy,’” Glauser says. “There are more products and services in the market than ever before, and there are more variations of brands within each of those product lines. The customers are kind of keen. They can buy whatever they want, wherever they want, and they can get it for a great price. They can get it customized, and they get it personalized. This new customer economy is all about building communities of people that love you, love your products, love your service and have chosen you as their provider.”

So growing a sustainable business comes down to whether or not you can satisfy customers -- even wow them -- when they interact with you. Attracting customers the first time is the easy part. Winning them over as your loyal customers so they don’t think of going anywhere else is the sustainability factor.

For example, I’ve had a Capital One® credit card for 15 years. I originally got it because they don’t charge foreign transaction fees, and I travel outside the U.S. often enough to make that a valuable feature. One of the main reasons I stay with them, though, has nothing to do with my travel schedule. When I call for help, the people who answer the phone are in the U.S. and speak excellent English. I find this is expedient, to not have to ask, “What?” and “Could you please say that again?” while I’m trying to solve a simple customer service transaction. (This isn’t a comment against those individuals for whom English isn’t their native language! I speak passable Italian but not well enough that I should be employed in a customer service role in Italy.)

Oddly, my long relationship with Capital One means I smile with a sense of ownership when I see those “What’s in your wallet?” commercials. How weird is that? I give them money, yet I feel like I have some role in their success. I just wrote two complimentary paragraphs about them, and they don’t even actually know I exist as a person. But I’ve come to like and trust them, all based on a few positive telephone interactions I’ve had with the customer service person in the time I’ve been their customer.

The moral of the story? It doesn’t take a whole lot more effort to make customers not just satisfied, but happy.

As a business owner, you have the opportunity to go not the whole extra mile, but just the extra few inches it takes to go from “typical” to “terrific.”

Michael Glauser’s 4 Levels of Customer Service

On his bike tour, Glauser saw that the levels of customer service determine who gets the most customers (and thus the biggest profits).

Level One. You just tolerate your customers. You and your staff do the mini­mum, providing the basics as inexpensively as possible and with the least hassle for you.

Level Two. You meet their expectations. They expect certain things when they patronize your business. If you deliver the goods, they’ll say, “Yes, I’m satisfied.” The problem is, according to Glauser, they’re not “loyal.”

Level Three. You exceed their expectations. You’ve figured out what they’re really looking for when they come to you. You’ve strategized and determined what more you can give, so when your customers complete a transaction with you, as they walk away, they say, “Wow! That’s a phenomenal company. No one else treats me like that.”

Level Four. You treat customers as partners. You actually engage them in your business. You find a core group of connected, happy customers. Then you go to them and say, “I’d like to meet your needs at the highest level. Will you work with me to help design this product or this service? I’ll make sure it meets your needs exactly. I’ll give you significant discounts over time if you work with me on some beta tests of this product.”

You actually kind of co-op them into the development of your products or services. Then the minute that product hits the marketplace, you already have people who’ve said, “I’m going to buy that!” Maybe people have even bought it before you get it to market. That way, you don’t really launch anything until you know people really want it. (This reduces your risk!)

This is one of the things that sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo have done well. According to Glauser, “They’ve allowed you to float out a product idea, a concept into the market, to see if you can get it funded by people who commit to buy it before you even develop it. That’s a new kind of model. You build these communities of people that really have a need [and] they work with you to develop the need. They agree that you’re the right provider of that need, and then you have an immediate sale. That way, you create lower-cost prototypes right away and get them to the marketplace quickly.”

The Business Power of Purpose

When you decided to open your business, you probably had a purpose -- probably a personal one. Studies have shown that entrepreneurs are usually motivated by freedom and creativity. The idea of being your own boss, making your own money and setting your own hours is appealing to many of us, but that may not be how it’s turning out.

Mitch Russo is the author of The Invisible Organization: How Ingenious CEOs Are Creating Thriving Virtual Companies. His book explains how to double or even triple any business quickly without increasing overhead -- and in most cases, decreasing it. Mitch is also behind Business Breakthroughs International, a company once owned by Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes. He joked with me, “It was great when I started working for myself! I suddenly was able to work only part time ... 12 hours a day.”

If you can relate to that because you’re working way more hours for less money and more stress than you ever thought you would, here’s the good news: By increasing the number of qualified prospects who flow toward you, and treating them well, you’ll increase your revenue, which makes running and growing your business easier

Image Credit: Westend61 | Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!