eBusiness Blog

Marketing eTip: Why a Business Mentor or Coach Helps Escalate Your Profits

Today’s eTip is about considering the benefits of hiring a business mentor or coach…

Listen to today’s 1 minute tip to find out the difference between a business coach and mentor and why you should seriously consider hiring them to help you grow your business.

One way that can really help you grow your business fast is with a business mentor or coach.

A mentor is someone who has already walked in your shoes. They are experienced in what you are facing and can fast track you along your growth path without you having to go through a steep learning curve or go through the school of hard knocks with many mistakes along the way.

A coach has a slightly different approach, they are trained to help you figure out your roadblocks, become better accountable for your business success, and share their tried-and-true processes and systems that will help you make leaps and bounds in your business.

Hiring one or the other, or both for that matter will escalate your business profits tenfold. They will avoid you from making bad decisions that leave you in financial distress and conducting self-sabotage to your own success, whether you realize you are doing it or not!

Have you ever entertained hiring a coach or mentor? If so, mentoring is something I do for a select few people and would be happy to discuss this possibility with you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – have you hired a coach or mentor in the past? Share your experience in the comments section or if you have a question, I’d be happy to answer.

To your success,

P.S. If hiring a coach or mentor is outside of your budget, consider our monthly group coaching program if you’re new to Social Media or find online marketing overwhelming and confusing. Check out Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs. It’s for those just starting out or wanting more advanced strategies to help with their online marketing and social media efforts.

CLICK HERE: www.socialblastcoaching.com

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

Your Day… Your Choice

Your Day... Your Choice

There is no problem unless we choose to make it one, so think carefully before you act.“ ~ David Marshall

You know how sometimes you wake up in the morning and you feel energized and excited because you’re ready to go out into the world and make a big difference?

You begin your morning ritual. You head out the door and find that it you have a flat tire so now you’ll be late to work. “Alright, that’s ok”, you tell yourself, “No problem, just get the tire changed so that you can get back to changing the world.”

Excellent. Only now you’re sitting in traffic and you’ve somehow managed to spill your coffee on yourself while all the people behind you are seriously getting on your nerves with their tailgating! “Oh my gosh! Look at that woman beside me texting while driving!” Ok, blood pressure slightly elevated, but that’s ok.

Reassess. Moving on. This will not ruin my momentum!

You’ve managed to make it to the office, after finding what must be the furthest parking spot from the door. In fact, if you’d just walked from home, you may have been closer! And now that you’ve arrived, you find a pile of paperwork, a ton of emails, 15 voicemails, and 2 hours later the school calls to say your child is sick.

That’s it!

Good intentions are squashed.

Any sense of changing the world today has gone out the window, and you’re planning on which drive-thru you can hit before picking up your sick child.

My point here is that we all have good intentions, but what is the difference between those who start the day with good intentions and fail and those who finish the day with their intentions and dignity intact?

The answer is choice.

The physical choices: to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise, and meditate.

It’s also about the mental choices you make. You can easily lose your cool at the lineup at the grocery store, but will that really change the situation? Probably not. It will most likely increase adrenalin, increase your blood pressure and it will spread the negativity onto others.

In fact, your act of aggression could significantly alter someone else’s day and keep on going.

This is why I love the idea of paying it forward so much.

Let’s say the line at the grocery store is due to the fact that the elderly gentleman in front of you does not know how to work the debit machine. Everyone at that moment has a choice, be a helper or stand around irritated. The latter will not change much except to possibly escalate the situation and leave people embarrassed and angry.

If you chose to step in and help, not only are you turning a negative situation into a positive one for yourself, but perhaps the clerk’s day and the elderly gentleman’s day too.

Imagine that because of your positive attitude and helpful nature, the clerk can continue their job stress-free and keep a smile on their face to help the next person in line.

Imagine that gentleman being empowered to master a piece of technology while maintaining his dignity and independence.

Notice how you can choose a positive outcome; it’s not the event—it’s your choice how you respond.

It’s true that not every situation is 100% stress- free, but the truth is our thoughts control much more than we give ourselves credit for. Those thoughts are energy that is expelled in either a positive or negative reaction out into the universe that keeps on spreading.

When your day is crumbling, take a breather, go for a 10 minute walk, clear your head, and get back to that sunny place you woke up in.

Try and remember that your positive attitude will not only change your day (ultimately your life) but the day and lives of many others around you too.

When things go wrong during your day, how do you turn it around? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Heather Wilson

About the Author, Heather E. Wilson

Need help? Would you like to learn more ways to avoid burnout, add more fun, more success, and more joy into your life and business? Heather E. Wilson, is a certified transformational coach, author and international speaker who loves to share her passion for helping you take charge of your life and business so that you can have the success and fun you've always dreamed about.

Go to HeatherwilsonInternational.com to view more of her free training and to receive a copy of her FREE ebook: The Burnout Principle.


How to Build a High Converting Marketing Funnel for Your Business

How to Build a High Converting Marketing Funnel for Your Business - 10 Steps to A Building Your Marketing Funnel

10 Steps to A Building Your Marketing Funnel

Any business owner knows that having a website is a critical component of their marketing strategy.  But marketing your business online is not just a matter of creating a cool website.

It takes a thoughtful process to attract qualified leads and build the trust that leads to sales.

This is where a marketing funnel comes in.

A marketing funnel maps out where customers come from, what promotional touches they will receive from you, and how to maximize sales with every customer.

With the right planning, this can put your marketing on autopilot.

Do you have a marketing funnel?  Is it effective at  educating prospective customers and moving them through the different stages of the funnel?

Read below to discover how to build a marketing funnel for your business.

First let’s look at the process a customer goes through when they want to buy and what you need to learn from that to build your marketing funnel:

  1. What ways do customers find you? Think about all the different ways a prospective customer finds you and your business. This could be through advertising, your website, blog, email blasts, newsletters, social media, networking, search engines or word of mouth.
  2. Ask yourself what the biggest problem/challenge your ideal customers have that you can help them solve. Think in terms of their pain – not in your own product features. Truly put yourself in the customer’s shoes.  What are they seeing, feeling and going through at the moment they are looking to solve their problem and be ready to buy?
  3. Why should someone buy from you and not a competitor? Understanding what your USP (Unique Selling Position) is helps you differentiate yourself from your potential customer’s alternate options. Are you the expert? Is yours the most affordable solution? Does yours get better results guaranteed?  Is it a convenience? Are you the fastest? Do you offer super customer service?
  4. What information do customers need when they are doing research before purchase? This could include product price, description, size, weight, results to expect, testimonials, locations, turnaround time, methods of payment accepted and more.

10 Steps to A Building Your Marketing Funnel

Now with this information in hand we can begin to design a marketing funnel.  It’s effective to draw out a funnel and at the widest part – write “leads” and all the ways customers find you.  Then map out each of the marketing touch points a customer will receive after that.

Your goal is to nurture the leads to get the highest lifetime value from a customer.

The good news is most of this process can be automated if you have an email management service provider that offers sequential autoresponders.  That way once someone joins your mailing list, they will continue to receive updates from you automatically.

Step 1: Create free content that people can opt in to receive.  The goal of the free content is to help you gain the contact information of the lead.  This allows you to send follow up messages and build rapport.

This can be a free report, audio, webinar, white paper, video, or software trial.  Create the content around the customer’s biggest need.  Make sure to include in the report valuable content, an invitation for a free consultation or special offer, testimonials, contact information, and how to get started.

Step 2: Create other ways that people can enter your marketing funnel.  This can include a Facebook ad, landing pages, SEO optimized blog articles, a free consultation form, or social media posts.

Then offer the free content through these marketing channels to capture the leads and add them to your mailing list. The goal is to capture the leads of potential buyers.

Step 3: Send the prospect a welcome message.  This thanks the customer and tells them what to expect.  It also offers additional resources they would find valuable including links to your blog and social media.  Again, remind them that you’d love to connect with them, learn more about them, and offer a free consultation or special deal.

Step 4: When the prospect requests a free consultation, tell them about a product/service that meets their needs and offer them an incentive to get started.

Send 5: Email a message with a story about one client you helped, their situation, what actions you took, and the results they got.  Then share a link for how to book your services or buy your products.

Step 6: Send a message with answers to frequently asked questions people have.  This can help you to overcome buying objections and present product information.

Step 7: Thank the customer for buying from you and tell them you appreciate their business.

Step 8: Once a customer buys, tell them about a related complementary product.  For instance if they bought a beautiful necklace, then cross-sell them a related product like a set of earrings that would match.

Step 9: Send an upsell for your next higher level product.  For instance if you sold them “How to write a press release” then they may be ready for “Interviewing like a Pro” as a next step.

Step 10: Continue to maximize the lifetime value of the customer with upsells, cross-sells, valuable content, and offers. Keep building the relationship.

The final step is to review your funnel.  Is it effectively converting leads? Are there additional pieces of content you could create to add value? What are your top sources of leads and how can you better leverage that?

Ready to Create a Marketing Funnel?

If this sounds like a lot of work, it can be, but creating a marketing funnel will definitely pay off.

You can enlist the help of a marketing professional to help identify your target market, map out the information you need, and write content.  Plus, if you have an existing marketing funnel, someone with marketing expertise can help you analyze it and make it more effective for you.

Once you get your marketing funnel built, you can set it and forget it and watch the sales roll in. Now THAT is the way to do lead generation!

To your success,

P.S. New to online marketing or find it overwhelming and confusing? Check out Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs. It’s a monthly group coaching program for those just starting out or wanting more advanced strategies to help with their online marketing and social media efforts.

CLICK HERE: www.socialblastcoaching.com

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

Marketing eTip: How to Gain Trust With Potential Customers

Today’s eTip is about gaining trust with potential customers…

Listen to today’s 1 minute tip to find out what you need to do on your website and social media channels to gain better trust with potential customers, especially if you have an eCommerce website.

Did you know one of the biggest reasons why people don’t make a purchase on a website is because they don’t trust where they are buying from?

This is especially true in eCommerce websites. One way to alleviate this trust issue is to stop making your potential customers hunt to find your contact information.

Make it easy for people to reach you by including your company name, mailing address, email and phone number to your website’s contact page and anywhere else that’s appropriate like in your Facebook page and other social media pages.

For eCommerce sites, include your customer service phone number in the top right hand corner of every page on your site. This will help ease the purchaser’s mind that if they run into any issues or have any questions about their purchase, they know they can reach you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – are you afraid to have your contact information displayed on your website? Share your experience in the comments section or if you have a question, I’d be happy to answer.

To your success,

P.S. New to Social Media or you find online marketing overwhelming and confusing? Check out Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs. It’s a monthly group coaching program for those just starting out or wanting more advanced strategies to help with their online marketing and social media efforts.

CLICK HERE: www.socialblastcoaching.com

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

17 Top Tips for Increasing Business Profits

17 Top Tips for Increasing Business Profits

How to Develop Great People Leadership Skills & Rock Star Teamwork

Many people dream of starting their own businesses someday – and many have taken the leap to varying degrees of success.

Some succeed and frankly, some don’t.

And for many, if they knew how hard it was going to be before they started – they would have kept their day job with a steady paycheck and saved their passion and energy for nights and weekends!

It doesn’t have to be that hard to build a great team that will assure your business provides the best customer service to your ideal customers, make lots of money for you so you can do the things that are most important to you, and which helps your team achieve their dreams too.

So, today I want to talk with you about a serious subject. It’s about your employees – the great ones and the ones that will become your biggest nightmare if not handled correctly and that some of them end up needing rehabilitation.

If you are already a business owner with employees or if you are an entrepreneur with big plans to build a team and grow your business, this article provides valuable insight.

That’s right – bad employees suck up your valuable time and money, drag everyone else down and cause the best employees to leave.

The great employees are wonderful to work with, team players who will jump in and help accomplish your goals, play to their strengths and encourage others to do the same and are just a pleasure to be around.

Employees will make or break your business!

You absolutely must get the people-thing right the first time, every time.

Employee turnover costs companies large amounts of money in recruiting costs, training, employee morale and productivity.

Here are 17 tips to help you avoid costly mistakes and build a rock star team:

  1. Vision & Mission – take the time to develop a very succinct, understandable vision and mission. It’s important that all employees understand the big picture and where they fit.

    If you’ve been in business for a while and know in your head what you want to do, take the time to write it down and post it so that it becomes part of the way you and your team work every day.

  2. Know Yourself – master your psychology so that you remove all negative self-talk, doubts and limiting beliefs that keep you stuck where you are and prevent you from being wildly successful.

    Avail yourself of assessment tools that measure how you see yourself, how you interact with others, and how you react to stress on an average day. Understanding your nature versus how you were nurtured to behave allows you to become your authentic self and live a life of joy.

    I work with clients who have their entire team assessed so that everyone works at their highest potential.

  3. Roles & Responsibilities – to avoid misunderstandings, redundancy, and work falling through the cracks, prepare job descriptions that clearly spells out what each position is responsible for completing.

    When advertising for open positions and when training new hires, this 1-2 sheet document is invaluable.  Employees want to do a good job, but they don’t read minds.

    No job description can cover everything but it should capture the major duties with a statement of “all other duties as assigned by supervisor.”

  4. Hone your Interview Skills – this is the time for you to match up the job duties of the position with the skills and experience of the candidate before you call anyone in for an interview.

    Breathing and standing up are not qualifying skills!

    During the interview, ask open-ended questions where they need to provide examples of how they handled a variety of issues that are relevant to the work they will likely run into at your company. Follow the 80/20 rule where the candidate does 80% of the talking and the interviewer does only 20%.

    I highly recommend using a behavior-based interview process where you select the critical competencies relevant to the position and then you ask all candidates the same questions so you can compare their answers and select the best candidate. Listen to your gut! If at the end of the interview when all interviewers compare notes if anyone has that gut feeling that even though they answered the questions okay, something just doesn’t feel right.

    I’ve learned the hard way to trust my gut! Bad hires truly do become your worst nightmare and with behavior based interviewing processes, there’s no need to hire employees that just will not fit with your team or are not qualified to do the work.

  5. Offer letter – provide a written offer letter which includes the position, salary, benefits and the name of the person they will report to.

    Include language stating you are an “at-will” employer and that this offer letter does not constitute an employment contract.

  6. Background Investigations & Drug Tests – I recommend using a professional firm to conduct your background checks and drug/alcohol pre-employment tests. At a minimum you want to check criminal history, education and work history and assure they are alcohol and free of illegal drugs.

    Neither of these can legally be done however until the candidate has accepted the job contingent upon them accepting the offer and signing the proper paperwork to conduct the background investigation and drug test.

  7. Organizational Announcements – such an easy thing to do but most ignored. There is nothing worse than employees wondering who the “new” person is that is walking around or sitting in someone else’s old desk.

    And you can imagine how hard it is for the new employee to explain over and over again who they are and what they are going to do for the company.

    A brief email announcement stating their name, position, reporting relationship, education and previous title and company they worked for will smooth the transition and help the employee be more effective on day one.

  8. First Day on the Job – this is an important day for the new hire and everyone else on the team so you want the on-boarding process to be thorough. Welcome them when they come in and walk them around and introduce them to the other employees.

    More often than I’d like I hear from employees describing their first day as the day they regretted leaving their old company because they weren’t welcomed and were not trained to do the new job.

    There is nothing worse for them and your bottom line than letting each person figure it out on their own! So, assign a “buddy” to show them around and take them to lunch on the first day. An on-boarding process to help your team quickly get up to speed and learn how to do their job.

  9. Handbook – make sure you have a very carefully crafted employee handbook that outlines the rules, regulations, policies and practices of the company. Have an acknowledgement form for each employee to sign saying they are responsible for compliance.

    Handbooks, if done well, are an excellent tool for employees to understand how the company works.

    However, they can also be a landmine for attorneys if not legally compliant or are not administered uniformly so get advice from a qualified human resources business professional before publishing and distributing your handbook.

  10. Communications – conduct weekly team meetings where the supervisor communicates the week’s priorities and asks for an update from each employee. Send out an agenda in advance and keep to the allotted time for each item/person.

    Assign a note taker and record items and due dates agreed upon in the meeting, email them to attendees and bring them to next meeting so you can follow-up on previous commitments.

    Be visible and accessible to your team. It’s amazing what employees will tell you when they just happen to see you in the hallway!

  11. Accountability Hot Seat – sometimes employees make commitments and have a hard time following through. They have a myriad of excuses, some of which are very valid, but the bottom-line is that a major deadline is going to be missed if immediate action isn’t taken.

    So, before it gets to a critical stage, pull together a team and allow the employee 5 minutes to explain the issue and any barriers they are coming up against. Then, allow the group 10 minutes to offer ideas and/or assistance while the employee just listens and writes down the ideas.

    Then, the employee has 3 minutes to think through all of the ideas that were offered and select the one or two that they will accept and report out to the group.  At the end of the day, it is still the employee’s responsibility but having input from others can offer fresh ideas and team support.

  12. Managing Employee Performance – you’ve heard the old saying that “what gets measured gets done” and that is very true. By establishing goals with each employee they know what they need to do every day to be successful and you know that together the company will reach its goals.

    Plus, you have a valuable tool to measure their performance against the goals so you can provide recognition, constructive feedback and pay for performance.  Measuring “how” they get the job done in addition to “what” gets done is so important to assure teamwork.

  13. Recognition & Rewards – yes, I know your employees are only doing their job. Right? And if they are recognized for a job well-done, they will repeat great performance. The key is to be very specific with what they did to earn accolades.

    Saying “Great job” sounds good but it doesn’t tell them what they did that you think was so great. So, instead, tell them how much you appreciate them staying late to get that order out the door. Rewards can certainly be in the form of money, but research has proven that money is not the #1 motivator for most people.

    Giving praise in front of peers, providing extra time off with pay, small gift cards, participation in training opportunities are all valuable forms of recognition. A word of caution is warranted here though.

    You’ve heard the statement that “no good deed goes unpunished” and rewards can often backfire if there is a perception of playing favorites. So make sure that there is criteria for issuing an award, the award is the appropriate level and that they are consistently and fairly administered.

  14. Talent Reviews & Succession Planning – do you have the right team doing the right work? If one of them were to leave the company, is there someone prepared to step up and take over?

    It’s important to understand what each employee wants to do with their career so that you can support them and give them stretch assignments so they can grow and be ready to step up when needed.

  15. Handle Employees that Are Not a Good Fit – as difficult as this can be, it’s absolutely critical that you take swift action to keep negative employees from bringing down the whole team. Address the behavior immediately with the employee in private.

    Use a discussion guide to prepare yourself for the conversation and to keep it on track. Avoid personal attacks and stick to the unacceptable behavior and actions. Put it in writing and have the employee sign the form acknowledging that the issue was discussed with him/her.

    Include language in the warning notice that advises the employee they will subject themselves to further discipline up to and including termination if the behavior does not improve on an immediate and consistent basis.

  16. Employee Engagement Surveys – this is a great way to get confidential and anonymous feedback from your employees that will make your company the best place to work. Employee engagement measures the relationship between an organization and its employees.

    An engaged employee is one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

    According to a recent Gallup poll, a staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work. The world has a crisis of engagement — one with serious and potentially long-lasting repercussions for the global economy.

    I recommend conducting the same survey each year, communicate the results to your team so they know that you listened to them and really heard what they wanted you to know. Then commit to changing things for the better where appropriate.

    Get your employees involved in making the changes so they stick. Then, compare your survey results year over year to assure you are staying in tune with the changing needs of the employees and the business.

  17. Have Fun – and finally, make fun and laughter a priority. Humor is a great way to keep a team working well together. You can have fun and still work hard to get your work done!

In closing, running a business can be the most rewarding experience of your life and allow you to accomplish your dreams.

Learning the steps you need to take to assure that your team is aligned around your vision and where they know what is expected of them and feel respected and valued will make your job much easier and you will reap huge rewards.

About the Author, Katherine Hartvickson

Kathryn Wilking

Katherine Hartvickson is the founder and president of Hartvickson & Associates, Inc. dba Quantum Ascendance. She is an experienced business consultant and success coach. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, her clients include business owners and other seriously committed professionals and entrepreneurs who want to gain the confidence and skills to break through the barriers of success and achieve their ideal life.

What separates her service from others is her experience in leading large teams and developing top performers in corporate environments and because of this, clients achieve individual & financial rewards and the recognition they earned without sacrificing their personal life. If you are interested in knowing more, she can be reached at www.QuantumAscendance.com.


The Honest Truth About Your Business

The Honest Truth About Your Business - 29 Questions to Help You Determine if What You’re Doing is a Business or a Hobby

29 Questions to Help You Determine if What You’re Doing is a Business or a Hobby

Are you a true business owner and entrepreneur? Or are you pursuing your business dreams more like a hobby but may not even be aware this is what’s happening?

Years ago I was a Mary Kay beauty consultant. I loved doing what I did and was very passionate about it. I built up a customer base of over 200 women, worked hard at making phone calls, doing classes and facials, and attended all team meetings.

One could perceive my efforts as being serious about my business, but was I really?

I look back now and realize that even though I worked hard and seemed to be busy, there was one critical element missing from the equation that prevented me from truly being serious – and that was the need to actually earn a living at what I did!

At the time I was married with two young kids. My husband made a decent income and we never lacked funds to pay the bills and go on a yearly family vacation. So anything I did was, for all intents and purposes, a hobby.

Our family was not counting on me to make enough money to pay the mortgage or purchase food for the week. My income was simply a little extra cash to buy a new piece of furniture or to help pay for the Christmas presents in December.

I really didn’t need to be working, so wasn’t serious enough to treat it like a real business and actually make a large income from my efforts.

Now don’t get me wrong. I worked hard at what I did but I never thought of my efforts as a true business. If you had asked me at the time, I would have probably gotten defensive and emphatically insist I was running a business!

But…

I took a lot of time off when I felt like it…,
I worked around the kid’s school schedule and family meals…,
if I didn’t feel like making calls for a few weeks, I didn’t make them…,
when the sun came out, the kids and I headed to the park and work was the last thing on my mind…,
I would fit in a few hours here and there to work on my business… when time allowed around my other commitments….

What about you? Do you let family, friends and other factors take you away from working on your business? Or are you 100% committed and invested in your business success?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help – you might be surprised with some of the answers if you’re being honest with yourself!

  1. Are you clear on your business’s focus – have you defined the product or service you provide and have stuck to it or are you continually trying out other things?
  2. Have you registered your business name with your local government?
  3. Do you have a business licence with your local community?
  4. Do you have a dedicated business phone line? A toll free number?
  5. Do you have business insurance?
  6. Do you have legal contracts in place dealing with the various aspects of your business?
  7. Do you have a clearly defined mission statement?
  8. Do you have a business plan? One that gives you a solid blueprint on how to achieve your business goals and how much it’s going to cost?
  9. Do you know who your competitors are and what they are doing?
  10. Is your business scalable in a way that it doesn’t depend on you being hands-on 100% of the time?
  11. Do you have a marketing plan that provides you with specific steps on how you are going to attract your perfect client and how much it’s going to cost?
  12. Do you have a set budget for advertising and marketing to build your client base?
  13. Do you really know who your target market is?
  14. Do you have a professionally designed logo to establish your brand identity and appeal to your ideal target market?
  15. Do you have professionally designed business cards, letterhead, promotional materials and other items to market your business?
  16. Do you have a professionally designed and developed website that represents your business brand effectively, 24 hours a day – 7 days a week?
  17. Do you continually update and employ SEO tactics to your website to ensure optimal results?
  18. Are you outsourcing certain tasks to help you with the things that are not your core competency such as bookkeepers, web developers, marketers, virtual assistants and graphic designers?
  19. Do you have a separate office space where you can shut the door at the end of the day and leave it closed until business hours start again?
  20. Do you have set business hours where no emails and no phone calls occur after hours?
  21. Is your office space organized and systemized so that anyone could come in and take over where you left off?
  22. Do you keep proper books and track all of your business receipts? Or is everything stuffed in a shoe box or file folder until tax time?
  23. Are you aware of all the tax write-offs that you’re entitled to and use them to the fullest?
  24. Do you have a dedicated business bank account?
  25. Does ALL of your business income go into this business account and you pay yourself on a regular basis?
  26. Do you work all year round with vacation breaks or do you take whole summers off and tell yourself you’ll get busy working again in the Fall?
  27. Do you diligently work at your to-do list of items that will help achieve your goals or are you telling yourself you’ll kick things into gear after…. (fill in the blank)?
  28. Are you truly happy and passionate about doing what you do?
  29. Is your business fulfilling your life’s purpose or are you just going through the motions of trying to make some money?

The questions above do not cover everything when considering what is involved in running a business, by no means, but I hope they got you thinking enough to help you determine whether you are running your business like a hobby or are you seriously running your business to earn a healthy living.

I encourage you to take an honest look at what you are doing and decide today on what your future holds for you – nothing will happen until you make that decision!

Did this article strike a chord with you? Are there areas in your business that you could be improving to get you beyond the hobby mentality?

To your success,

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

Marketing eTip: Getting Started With Affiliate Marketing

Today’s eTip is about getting started with affiliate marketing…

Listen to today’s 1 minute tip to find out about affiliate marketing and what to look out for when exploring your options.

Affiliate marketing is an easy way to increase your passive income by promoting products or programs created by other people. Many affiliate programs offer commissions of anywhere from 30-50% so there’s lots of opportunity to take advantage of!

It’s best to find products or programs that are a match for your target audience’s interests. A good place to start is to see if your favourite coach’s products are available via an affiliate program and share that product to your followers using your unique affiliate link.

There is also Clickbank to turn to but that is an industry all of itself. If you want to actually earn a living through affiliate marketing you’ll want to explore that more.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – have you tried affiliate marketing and if so, was it a success for you? Share your experience in the comments section or if you have a question, I’d be happy to answer.

To your success,

P.S. New to Social Media or you find online marketing overwhelming and confusing? Check out Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs. It’s a monthly group coaching program for those just starting out or wanting more advanced strategies to help with their online marketing and social media efforts.

CLICK HERE: www.socialblastcoaching.com

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

Why You Can’t Afford NOT To Take A Break

Why You Can't Afford NOT To Take A Break

The ABC’s of Business Basics Series: B is for Break

“I need a vacation.” As a business owner, how many times a month do you say that? Have you noticed that lately you are saying it more often?

So, what is stopping you from taking one?

Do any of these excuses sound familiar:

  • I don’t have any good staff.
  • I don’t have anyone to take over.
  • I’m way too busy to take time off now.
  • It’s bad timing.
  • I can’t afford it.
  • 7 days (or 10, or 14 etc.) is too long.
  • I’ll lose business if I go away.
  • My competition may get ahead of me.

If they do, take this next statement, write it out and put it on your bathroom mirror:

“I can’t afford to not take a break!”

Let me tell you why:

Breaks from our business give us fresh perspective, renewed energy, precious time with our loved ones and best of all, a clear head. Business owners who take regular breaks are better leaders. They are macro managers who inspire and excite.

They see the business from the top of the mountain looking down, rather than from the bottom looking up. The vision remains clear and the love of work stays true.

Here are 7 tips on how to plan for your next break:

  1. Breaks don’t have to be long time frames
    Take small steps and begin by scheduling short breaks. If you’re not doing it already, take a weekend off every month. Consider taking 6 three-day weekends a year. The important thing is to book them out.
  2. It’s never good timing
    Business has low times, high times and even higher times. You just have to work through it. If you’re a parent, you can probably compare it to your decision to have children. The timing was never right. When you become a parent, you adapted and they made your world a better place.
  3. Train your customers to work with your schedules and boundaries
    Apply structure to your hours of operation and your customer response times with email and phone. Let them know when your business is open and closed.

    Do not respond to emails on the nights you have insomnia or up with nothing to do. If you don’t provide boundaries, they may come to expect responses during your personal time.

  4. Find good people
    Finding your business support can be a challenge, but it can be done. Create job descriptions for both your staff and contractors. Hold them responsible for expectations and outcomes.

    Teach them what you know and value and hold regular reviews to keep them accountable.

  5. Let go of control!
    This is the biggest barrier to walking away from any business. Business owners who don’t trust, don’t take breaks. So take trust in yourself that you have set the proper foundation to vacate for a short time.
  6. Believe that they can do the job better than you
    You won’t find this out until you take a break. By giving your employees the opportunity to rise to the occasion, they may surprise you and demonstrate that they are capable of even more responsibility.
  7. Review upon return
    Spend time reviewing what worked and what didn’t. Exam the deficiencies and make a plan for improvement. Be sure and include the people who can help you implement change.

Do yourself a favour;  schedule your break today!

Do you have a hard time taking a break from business? What are your reasons and after reading this article, can you see yourself taking breaks more often now?

About the Author, Pamela Chatry

Pamela Chatry

Do you work too hard? Is your business in chaos? If you are struggling with business issues, contact Pamela Chatry for a complimentary assessment. Pamela has been a trusted and highly respected Business Consultant, Mentor for Women in Business, Self-Employment Advocate, Trainer and Keynote Speaker for over 25 years.

Visit www.pamelachatry.com or call her at 778-856-8970 for help in getting your business to its fullest potential.


This Is The Social Proof You Need to Drive Sales

This Is The Social Proof You Need to Drive Sales

The power of the Internet gives us the ability to connect with thousands of potential buyers and clients around the world.

But in a world where “know, like, and trust” leads to sales, how does one begin to build that rapport with strangers?

The answer is testimonials. 

It’s only natural for prospects to question when we toot our own horn.  But testimonials have the power to dissolve doubt and create credibility.

So what makes a good testimonial and more importantly how do you get them? Keep reading this article and once you’re done, you’ll have a script you can follow to garner effective testimonials from your customers.

But Why Testimonials?

Clients often ask me if they should bother with testimonials. Understandably there is a healthy amount of scepticism surrounding them where they can often not be trusted to be real. Indeed, there are services that will do a testimonial for you for a small fee.

However, I still feel testimonials are an excellent way to build your credibility if done right. What others say is always more powerful than anything you can say about yourself.

Plus prospective buyers seek out the opinions of others before they buy.  That’s one reason for the popularity of online product reviews and sites like YELP.

People love hearing first hand what the experience of trying a product or service is like.  Did it work?  How good was it?  What kind of results did it get? Were you surprised about anything while using it? Would you recommend it to others?

12 Components of a Strong Testimonial

In order to offset the concern that the testimonials you post on your website could be considered fake, here’s 12 tips on creating persuasive (and believable) testimonials:

  1. Keep it Real – A testimonial should be real comments from actual customers about what they thought about their buying experience. Fake testimonials can be spotted a mile away.  Rather than BUILD trust, it can ruin it.
     
    People can sense truth.  So it’s truly important that the testimonial be in the natural language with the original intent of the customer. NEVER hire someone to create a testimonial for you.
  2. OK to Edit – Sometimes a customer can ramble on during a testimonial. It’s OK to edit a testimonial to shorten it and to correct the spelling and grammar as needed.
     
    Just make sure that the final edited piece preserves the core essence the customer intended.  The original conversational flow will create a stronger emotional connection.
  3. Use A Full Name – Including the first and last name always boosts credibility. In cases where more anonymity is needed, first name and last initials can work.  Like Joe S.
  4. Location – Adding the city that a customer is in makes it more believable as well. Especially if it’s for a local service like accounting or legal work.  It helps a prospect to emotionally identify by seeing that individuals near where they live were satisfied with a service.
  5. Add A Photo – Placing a photo next to the testimonial helps prospects put a face to the name. It deepens the emotional connection and credibility with the message of the testimonial.
  6. Use Video – Video testimonials have more impact than written ones BUT only if it’s high quality. Doing video for the sake of video won’t boost your sales.  Video testimonials are more powerful when what is being said is spoken from the heart than if it’s read.
     
    Sometimes it can take two or three takes to get a good one that really nails it. You can consider posting one feature video testimonial and then include several written ones underneath with: “Here’s what more customers had to say”.
  7. Don’t Add Live Links – While it’s ok to list the company name of the person giving the testimonial, don’t include a live hyperlink to their website. Having a clickable link is a distraction and will reduce sales conversions.
  8. Include Both Regular and Expert Testimonials – Prospects do get excited to see big names endorsing a product; however, if you ONLY have celebrity endorsements, it can cause doubt. It creates a question in the customer’s mind if these are “real” endorsements.
     
    While flashy guru testimonials are nice to draw attention, also include several “everyday Joe” kind of testimonials.  People want to see that ordinary people like themselves are getting results too.
  9. Share Specific Results – While comments like “Elaine is an incredible coach” are nice, specific comments that share results achieved are more powerful. For instance if Jane says “working with Elaine as a business coach helped me double my income within 90 days”, it really strikes a chord with potential buyers. 
     
    Use measurable terms like percentage increases, money gained, time saved, pounds lost etc. all within a certain time frame.
  10. Quality Is Better Than Quantity – Sharing 100 testimonials on a product can feel overwhelming and cause someone to lose interest. Instead share a few really compelling testimonials from your biggest champions.
  11. Emphasize The Positive With Formatting – Use bold or italicized keywords that emphasize measurable results. This helps when people are scanning a page to draw their eye to the most persuasive elements of the testimonial.
  12. Kick Doubt To The Curb – Every buyer has objections that must be overcome before making a purchase. Do I need this?  Will it work? Is it worth the cost?  Here’s an example of a testimonial statement that dissolves doubt. “When I first tried “Fitness Magic, I really doubted if it could work for me, but after 30 days I saw 10 lbs come off and it stayed off.  I am a believer!”

How To Get Testimonials

What is the best way to get testimonials?  Just ask!

One of the best times is after a customer makes a purchase.  Amazon.com is an expert at this.  After you make a purchase on their site they ask you immediately what you thought of the item you purchased and include a link to make a review.

However, sometimes when you ask a customer if they could write you a testimonial, it makes them draw a blank.  Instead try asking for feedback;  everyone loves to share their opinions.  Then when you get the feedback, ask if you can use it as a testimonial.  Tell them it will give them free exposure for their business.

Often you’ll get better testimonials if you prompt customers with pre-defined questions that  they can answer and share feedback about.  For instance, here’s a sample of what you might want to send them:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you for shopping with us.

I was wondering if you could do me a favour by sharing feedback about your experience of using our product/service? All you need to do is quickly answer these questions and send them back to me:

  • What prompted you to try our product?
  • What were you surprised about once you tried it?
  • How was the experience of using it?
  • What specific results did you see as a result of using it?
  • How do you feel about the outcome of using this product?
  • Would you recommend it to others?

Thanks, I appreciate your input.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Naturally, you will need to modify this to suit your business and the type of experience the customer may have had with your product or service.

Testimonials can be one of the most important tools in your marketing arsenal.  You should include them in all your marketing materials from promotional emails to newsletters, product sales pages, brochures, your website, on social media and more.

Let your satisfied customers do the talking for you and you’ll be on the way to greater sales!

Do you use testimonials to help build social credibility?

To your success,

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

Marketing eTip: How to Get Your Blog Readers to Stick Around

Today’s eTip is about improving your blog formatting to get the best reader retention rate…

Listen to today’s 1 minute tip that provides specifics tactics you can use in your blog article formatting to ensure your readers actually read the whole thing.

When you take the time to write out a great article for your blog, you want to make sure that the people coming to visit actually stick around long enough to read the whole thing, right?

Aside from having a compelling title and a well written article, one way to improve your blog readers’ retention is by making your blog posts easy to scan read.

Since a mere 16% of people read online text word for word, it’s critical to ensure your main message comes across when someone simply scan reads your article.

To do this, it’s best to break the text up with headlines, sub headlines, bolding, images, and bullet points. But don’t overdo it on the bullet points!

I’ve witnessed many people who hear that one should use bullets in their articles or email promos and write the entire thing in bullets! We’re after balance here folks – don’t stress your reader by overdoing it in any of these tactics and you’ll do great.

So I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – do you have a blog and if so, do you pay attention to the blog formatting or are you just happy to have something written? Or if you have a question, I’d be happy to answer.

To your success,

P.S. New to Social Media or you find online marketing overwhelming and confusing? Check out Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs. It’s a monthly group coaching program for those just starting out or wanting more advanced strategies to help with their online marketing and social media efforts.

CLICK HERE: www.socialblastcoaching.com

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".