eBusiness Blog

Communicating to maintain effective client relationships

Communicating to maintain effective client relationships

How you communicate directly impacts your client relationships

How often do you get yourself in trouble because a situation has been misunderstood?

How often do you have to tell people what you “really” meant or that you didn’t like how you learned about a situation?

How upset do your clients and customers get about a product being unavailable?

How much do you dread letting them know that the product isn’t available because of how they will react?

All these scenarios often have nothing to do with what you need to communicate but rather with how you deliver the message.

How you deliver the message plays out both in what I like to call big “C” communications – big corporate announcements and organizational strategy – and in little “c” communications – emails and difficult conversations for example.

Believe it or not, much of the way we think and behave is unconscious. What we value, what we believe, our memory of a situation and past behaviours all feed into how we receive and deliver information.

When we become aware of how we come across we can take control of how we communicate with others.Click To Tweet

And this isn’t just the “soft stuff” of business.

Neuroscientists have been studying human behaviour for decades. I turned to Neuro-linguistic Programming for Dummies by Romilla Ready and Kate Burton to provide some scientific backing for what has been intuitive for me for a long time.

Here are four ways neuroscience tells us we can help our audience be receptive to our message. To conclude, I’ll give you five practical tips to put this science into use.

  • Mirror your audience’s actions and behaviours

    Have you ever walked into a restaurant or bar and noticed how people are interacting with each other?

    Have you noticed groups of people who seem to dress similarly, or how married people seem to come to even look alike over time? Matching and mirroring is when you take on someone else’s style of behaviour as well as their skills, values, or beliefs in order to create rapport.

    This will make your audience feel comfortable and more likely to listen to what you have to say. You can deliberately match and mirror someone by:

    • Body postures and gestures
    • How quickly you breathe
    • How quickly you speak or move
    • How your voice sounds

    CAUTION: You don’t want to mimic people. There is a fine line between moving in rhythm with someone and fitting in, or mimicry. People will know if you are being insincere.

  • Listen so you know what people are looking for

    If you want to really have people buy into what you are saying, then you must truly be present and LISTEN. And that means making sure they know they have been heard.

    Acknowledge their point of view, understand where they are coming from and above all, be patient.

  • Build rapport when communicating virtually

    To build rapport in today’s age of virtual offices, make sure you:

    • Speak more slowly to ensure people can hear you
    • Make sure you have people’s attention before you make your point
    • Use people’s names more often than you might in face-to-face meetings so they feel included and heard
    • Visualise the person at the end of the phone line as you listen to the conversation
    • If you are in a video-conference, look into the camera and appear to be visually present (no escaping to Facebook during teleconferences here!)
    • Summarise the meeting afterwards and confirm via email what was decided upon
  • Use multiple ways of communicating to make sure your message gets across:

    Find out who your audience is. If they are audio listeners, the words you use will be important. If your audience is more visual, then graphs, charts and pictures will help them remember information.

    Kinaesthetic audiences will focus on the tone of your voice and the feeling they experienced upon receiving the information.

So what does this mean for your daily interactions with your clients?

  1. Ensure you have their attention before sharing your message.
  2. Did they understand what you had to say? Ask questions to probe their response to your conversation.
  3. Use language and mannerisms your clients can relate to – use mirroring to deliver messages in a way that makes them feel comfortable.
  4. Follow-up with email after decisions are made to ensure you’re both on the same page.
  5. Have you inspired them to act? Find out what they care about so you can better motivate them to participate in your desired outcome.

Following the tips included in this article will shape how you deliver your message and guarantee improved communications with your clients.

Take some time to truly understand and internalize these techniques and you will be well on your way to avoiding difficult situations.

About the Author, Susan Elford

Kathryn Wilking

Susan Elford, PR Strategist & Leadership Coach, works with start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs to help them get real about their strengths and celebrate them so they get more of what they want; clients, exposure and success, while living a life of balance.

Visit Susan at www.elfordcommunications.com for traditional PR support and www.susanelford.com for a look into how she works with her coaching clients.


What Business Owners Need to Know When Hiring Millennials

For today’s eTip I spoke with the author of the book 25 Powerful Strategies to Hire and Successfully Retain Millennials, JoAnne E. Marlow!

 

What is the difference in hiring millennials?

JoAnne sees a big change in the work place environment and as times have changed expectations at work have changed.

Years ago after the release of the book Boom Bust & Echo JoAnne began to see a noticeable difference in the work ethic demonstrated by her existing peers and employees vs. the younger generations.

Not everyone is the same but we do place age groups into categories and look for consistencies within those categories.

The people in those categories vary greatly with some not being as active or tech savvy as others. It depends on the person but know that you need to be careful when hiring on your new employee.

Set expectations up front

Be clear in your job description when it comes to millennials. Make sure the culture and job expectations are defined beforehand so you don’t run into any surprises.

Millennials may be resistant to recognizing an implied hierarchy so make sure they know what you and your company are like before you bring them on as an employee.

Educated and skilled workers may be less inclined to take on tasks like data entry or sweeping floors so if that is part of the expectation for a job it should be stated as such in the ad description.

Convey the kind of personality you want in your ad. The clearer you are as an employer about what you need in the office the better.

State what kind of advancement opportunities exist and when the new employee can expect to move up the ladder.

Some people might expect a raise after 3 months, some after a year.

The typical time you can expect them to stay with your company is about 18 months. If you keep a millennial for more than 2 years you’re doing something right!

Be prepared and ask a lot of questions. Don’t dive in right away and hire them on the spot. Be careful and mindful so you hire the right employee.

If you find yourself losing control and are rude or vocal with them, some will likely leave right away and not come back. Everyone can have a bad day but some new employees may not be thick-skinned enough to tolerate some behaviour.

Be clear about expectations. And know that some may take advantage of an employer’s generosity.

Provide a guide

Draft a policy handbook in relation to dress code, vacation time, etc. so they know beforehand what rules they must adhere to.

JoAnne’s most recent book 25 Powerful Strategies to Hire and Successfully Retain Millennials details how to deal with this generation and how to demonstrate the emotional intelligence to entice them to work hard and help your business. JoAnne is an expert in bridging gaps between generations.

In her book she has explained 25 different ways to hire the right new people from the millennial generation so you find and keep the best people.

She advises that the young person you hire isn’t going to change so it’s also important to make sure existing employees are fully informed about your new hire and how you’ve prepared for them.

For those of you who want to get in touch with JoAnne directly she can be reached through her website at: www.SystemsForEngagingTeams.com

Also please feel free to share you own stories about your experience in hiring on those between the ages of 19 and 36 in the comments below and if you’re struggling with your new hires try reading JoAnne’s new book!

You can pick up JoAnne’s book online from either of these two links:

Canada – Amazon.ca: http://amzn.to/2gfzYL6

US – Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2wzGe6S

Until next time,
Susan Friesen

Social Blast for Entrepreneurs

What If You Could Learn Social Media and Online Marketing Each Month With Ease?

If you are new to Social Media and online marketing or find it overwhelming and confusing, my monthly group coaching program, Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs is a perfect way for you to incrementally learn the best strategies and tactics to help you grow your business online.

  • Uncover what it takes to execute a successful, revenue-driving social media strategy
  • Learn how to build relationships, trust, and brand awareness with your ideal customer
  • Discover actionable strategies to engage followers online
  • Master creating compelling content that’s always on target
  • Discern how to authentically differentiate your brand in a crowded marketplace
  • Find out the best times to post for higher readership
  • Stay abreast with the latest prospecting techniques to grow your list, groups and more…
  • Learn ways to engage through social media monitoring and listening

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 FOR DETAILS

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".

5 Useful Decision-Making Steps to Buying Your Next Business Program Sold at an Event

5 Useful Decision-Making Steps to Buying Your Next Business Program Sold at an Event

How to Avoid Making Impulsive Purchases from Success-Promising Gurus

I recently attended a 3-day business conference in Vancouver. There were about 500 people in attendance, all business owners and entrepreneurs who where there to network, learn and be inspired.

All in all, it was a great event that resulted in my meeting new people and gaining valuable insights that I brought home with me to infuse into my business.

The conference boasted nine high-profile speakers including thought leaders like Jack Canfield, Dr. John Gray and James Malinchak. Their talks were entertaining, insightful, informative and motivating.

They certainly learned the craft of being an influential presence on the stage well.

But make no mistake, each of these speakers were there with the sole purpose of promoting their wares and influencing the audience to purchase their key strategies, programs and courses that promised business success.

And they succeeded.

The volume of people that ran to the back of the room to grab their limited-time, extraordinary low-cost offering before it was sold out was mind boggling.

As a member of that audience, I was fascinated by what I was witnessing. Perhaps it was my state of mind or the confidence I already felt in my capabilities of achieving further business success, but I was not at all tempted to be a part of the crowd to run to the back of the room and grab a purchase.

I looked around and saw men and women who were involved in a variety of different businesses and industries. Many of whom where desperate to get that SECRET FORMULA that would transform their struggles into riches.

And the speakers on the stage knew this and played right into their hands.

Throughout the 3 days, the audience was presented with lots of solutions, advanced systems and formulas on how to achieve success in their business. But the problem is, not all proposed solutions were ideal for everyone.

But what is a business owner and entrepreneur to do?

They are attending such events to help them with their business so are naturally attracted to the offers made up on the stage.

To help you avoid making irrational and emotionally-based decisions when faced with the pressure of live event and even free webinar offers I have put together 5 steps on what to think about first before jumping in with the crowd and grabbing your purchase:

  1. Think things through first.

    Ask yourself if this opportunity is truly going to get you a return on your investment if you make the purchase. What are you willing to commit to in order to get the most out of that investment?

    The key here is to understanding success is not just going to happen by signing up but actually doing the work. Are you realistically willing to do the work? Are you going to be 100% committed to this or will you get home, set it aside, and promise to get to it when you get a chance?

    None of these programs will get you the results these presenters are talking about if you’re not committed enough to follow through on every single step provided.

  2. Be objectively critical.

    When these speakers are on the stage, they are sharing their best success stories possible – the cream of the crop. Often this reflects only a minor percentage of those who have taken the program.

    Be objective. And don’t make emotionally-based decisions that compel you run to the back of the room and purchase. This is exactly what they are counting on.

  3. Decide if your business can truly benefit from what you will learn.

    Just because they are telling you this on stage doesn’t mean it’s a perfect fit for you, your business model, and your goals.

    As an example, if you have the gift of service and support, then more than likely you will not do well learning to be a speaker on stage despite that presenter saying “anyone can do this using my system and processes”.

    If you have the gift of, say, music, then being a published author is probably not something you should pursue despite being provided with a “fool-proof, iron-clad method that will get you on the Amazon best seller list”.

    Ask yourself if what this presenter is offering is exactly what you need to learn in order to reach your business goals or is there something better suited for you available elsewhere? Do you really need to learn all of this yourself or is hiring someone who is an expert in that area a better decision that will help reach your goals quicker without having to become an expert in that field first?

  4. Recognize the emotional manipulation that’s happening.

    We see this all the time. Whether you’re attending conferences or online webinars there’s always a “limited time offer” that makes it irresistible to pass up.

    Don’t let these “one-time-only” offers lead you into thinking this is the only chance you’ll ever get to take advantage of what’s being offered. It simply isn’t true. It’s a sales tactic that preys on people who make emotional decisions and don’t want to be left out or miss out on an incredible opportunity.

    These programs will all still be offered after the hype ends. Even if that means paying $50 more, so be it. Give yourself time to objectively work through the pros and cons and decide whether it’s worth your investment or not.

    Don’t let your emotions be triggered by the slick sales speech or written sales copy on a page.

  5. Do your research.

    This may not necessarily be the case for headliner speakers we see on the stage, but sadly, there are a lot of very smooth-talking “gurus” out there who are nothing but smoke and mirrors. They offer a lot of hype but little substance.

    Do your pocketbook a favour; before investing in any kind of program or product, research the person selling it first. Do a Google search and see if any bad reviews come up. Ask people in your social media groups if they’ve had any experience with that person and what were the results.

    Your goal is to make an informed decision, not an emotional one based on the promises of the sales copy. And if you do encounter negative reviews – listen to your gut. So many times wrong decisions are still made because, as human beings, we’re highly influenced by emotions and we can easily justify our actions based on those promises despite finding evidence to the contrary.

After reading this, you might think I’m against purchasing programs and courses all together but that’s not the case at all. I’m not saying not to invest in business growth strategies, but instead to make informed, objective decisions on which investments to make in the first place.

The sad fact is that marketing can be a very manipulative process that is meant to create fear- and lack-based, emotional responses. The people we see on stage, as well as those that do highly visible free webinars, are masters at pulling these emotional triggers.

Simply be aware of that manipulation and follow the guide I outlined above to help you decide whether or not your business can truly benefit from that investment you’re being asked to make.

Do you have any stories of acting on impulse and regretting the purchase later?

To your ongoing success,
Susan Friesen

P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

5 Useful Decision-Making Steps to Buying Your Next Business Program Sold at an EventClick To Tweet

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".

Easy Project Management Tips for Entrepreneurs Who Want to Get It Done Right, Right Now

Easy Project Management Tips for Entrepreneurs Who Want to Get It Done Right, Right Now

Using these project management concepts will increase your chances of success

Entrepreneurs, by their very nature, are big thinkers with big plans who want to make a big impact in the world. As an entrepreneur / small business owner, I get it – I do too. I also understand how many distractions there can be vying for your time every day.

After a long career with large corporations and earning my Six Sigma Green Belt, I realized that many of the things that worked well for me work equally as well in small businesses. 

Investing the time upfront to prepare your project plan and get everyone onboard is time well-spent.Click To Tweet

Project management is one of those critical skills that I believe every business owner should learn to do well.  I know how many distractions come up that could easily derail your goals if you don’t focus on doing the important things first.

Let me explain how you can utilize this skill to grow your business.

  1. Decide on your next big project goal

    Write down the name of the project and create a charter. The charter describes briefly what results you expect to accomplish.
     
    One of the many advantages of preparing a charter is that it forces you to clearly articulate what you really want. Once you know what your goal is, plan the steps to get there rather than just “winging” it and hoping for the best.

    For instance, is your project designed to:

    • Save money?
    • Increase sales?
    • Increase the number of email addresses you have in your management software?
    • Get more speaking gigs?
    • Write a book?
    • Increase the number of high-paying clients?
    • Create a new group or online program?
  2. Identify the scope of this project

    Keep the project small, focused and manageable. If it’s too big, chances of success are lower because there are so many moving parts that might compete for your time or resources. When you write your scope, list what you will do — and what you will not do.
     
    For instance, if you are working on increasing your visibility to your target audience you might consider a project around Facebook or LinkedIn. I recommend that you pick just one of them and knock it out of the park. In this case, if you picked Facebook, then state that this project does not include LinkedIn.
     
    Then you can do a separate project to work on LinkedIn with its own timeline and deliverables when you are ready.

  3. Define your baseline and your goal

    This will help you know where you are today and where you plan to be upon completion of this project. For instance, say you want to increase the number of people whom you can send marketing emails to.  
    You need to know the number of contacts today as well as the number you want to have at the end of the project. If it’s annual sales, then it’s easy to look at the past 12 months to get your actual sales. Then just set your goal as a dollar or percentage above the baseline.

  4. List each major step of the project.

    Include the name of the person responsible for completing each major step, and when each step will be accomplished.
     
    Oftentimes, one person cannot complete their step until someone else finishes theirs, so it’s important to understand the interdependencies.

  5. Determine the start and completion dates.

    Once you will have the start and completion dates, you will be able to identify milestones along the way.
     
    This will help you stay on track and accomplish your goal without a lot of stress, wasted time or forgotten steps.

  6. Prepare a budget

    The budget will define how much you will spend to accomplish the goal and when the money needs to be available. Your project may be designed to save money, such as taking on the marketing of your program yourself or changing vendors.
     
    In this case you would list when the savings will start showing up and how much more you will have in your bank account at the end of the project.

  7. Make a list of resources

    These are the resources you will need to accomplish the project. Are you going to do everything yourself or will you have a virtual assistant?
     
    Will you hire someone to prepare marketing materials, or to create your website, Facebook posts or a LinkedIn profile?

  8. Communicate clearly to everyone involved in the project

    And by clear, I mean precise, with no room for guessing or individual interpretations about what others think you want. Draw pictures, share examples and learn to speak their language if you are talking to technical people.
     
    Once you know who’s on your team, make sure they have an opportunity to provide input. One of them could hold that one big idea that will take your project from good to great.
     
    Have a brainstorming meeting – it’s is a great way to get everyone’s ideas and come up with a plan better than you could ever do on your own. After all, that’s why you invited the best & brightest to join your team in the first place, right?
     
    This process also guarantees that you have buy-in on the project and that everyone knows the objectives and their role in accomplishing them.

  9. Set up regularly scheduled meetings on your calendar

    This schedule will help you review progress, clear up any confusion, remove any barriers and provide direction.
     
    There is nothing worse than getting close to your project completion deadline only to realize that what you are getting is not at all what you expected! Especially if it all could have been avoided if you had set up the time to check in on the progress. Inspect what you expect!

  10. Set up team ground rules

    The ground rules can include frequency/length of meetings, notifying you in advance if they are going to miss the meeting, how conflicts will be handled and agreement by all that they will show up to the meetings prepared with their deliverables or notifying you well in advance if they are at risk of missing any critical milestones.

  11. Sign your charter

    I know – this might sound cheesy. But it really isn’t. This is a commitment you are making to yourself and the simple act of dating it, signing it and putting it up on your wall where it is literally in front of you all the time will make it much more likely that you will follow through and reap the benefits.

  12. Celebrate your wins along the way

    This doesn’t have to be at a high cost – it can be a simple “Thank You” card to one of your resources who delivers on schedule or a group dinner or pizza or a Starbucks gift card.
     
    A little goes a long way in motivating yourself and those on your team when appreciation is shown.

Your chances of reaching and most likely hitting it out of the park increase dramatically. And remember, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

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 Networking Advantages of Attending Live Events

While on location at the WOW (Woman of Worth) Conference in Vernon earlier this year, I realized just how important it is to attend live events and do some good old fashioned business networking.

Today’s eTip shares some important things you can be doing while at a live event that can’t happen if you’re always hiding in front of your computer or smart phone:

 

Christine Awram is the founder and creator of these WOW events and she has them twice a year.

I have been enjoying attending them and that’s what had me creating this tip. It’s really important to get away from the computer and network in person. Attending events like this is a great way to build your business.

Even if it’s just a day-long event or if you can spare the time, a weekend or even week-long retreat.

Take the opportunity to Connect with the other attendees and find out what their challenges are. Many great business opportunities will present themselves once at the event.

Make an effort to get out and connect with your target market and build relationships.

Attending live events is a great way to build your businessClick To Tweet

Social media has made us comfortable sitting behind our cameras and smart phones but nothing beats a 1 on 1 live connection.

Do your homework and find out what events you can attend. Even if it’s just a luncheon it’s a great idea to get out and make those in-person connections.

If you have any questions at all please feel free leave a comment below and if you like these eTips subscribe to our newsletter and you’ll get an email every week with our eTips and articles designed to help solo entrepreneurs.

Until next time,
Susan Friesen

P.S. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Our “All Under One Roof” boutique web development and digital marketing firm can help you make your vision a reality.
>> CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

The Business Advantages of Attending Live EventsClick To Tweet

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".

Yes or No: The Sharing Prices on Your Website Debate

Why displaying fees on your website may provide an advantage over your competition

Yes or No: The Sharing Prices on Your Website Debate

Many small businesses use their web presence to generate leads to feed into their sales process. Each page has a purpose with variations on the intended users the business hopes to appeal to.

Each piece of content has its purpose but overall the reason is to entice users to get in touch. In keeping with that, it seems reasonable to display your price structure so your leads are qualified before they get in touch.

Or does it?

Not all visitors to your website will be leads.

Not all industries are alike.

Competitors may be surfing your site to see what you charge with the intention of undercutting your rates. If they know you are consistently trying to attract leads from the same base, then having lower prices displayed can give them an advantage over you when bidding on projects or submitting proposals.

Prices in your industry could vary based on many other variables.

Understanding why or why not requires a little bit of elbow grease and a balanced perspective of the issue.

How to Know if You Should Display Your Prices

While this Moz article referencing website pricing is dated, it does makes some very good points about why you should display pricing.

If you display pricing you should also convey value. A value proposition including a pricing tier can address variables related to your business that can actually set you above the competition.

If you display pricing on your website you should also convey valueClick To Tweet

Listing pricing without context or with only a few lines to convey value won’t draw in a user reviewing multiple options. You may be more expensive than your competitor but you might also be offering a lot more for what you charge. Make sure your leads know!

This could also be a reason to not display pricing as well. If you have already evaluated your competitors and they have tiered pricing that beats the value of what you offer, then take the time to assess how they’re able to provide more at a lower cost.

If you’re feeling ambitious you can even call them to clarify what they’re offering and ask for examples of it in practice. Sometimes the value stated on the site is misleading so don’t take your competitor’s claims at face value.

What if Your Competitors Aren’t Displaying Pricing?

Your competitors may not be showing how much they charge but that doesn’t mean you can’t.

A money-focused business can sometimes be more focused on its own bottom line than servicing its customers. Your competition isn’t just related to price so if you’re up against established pros in your industry you can overcome the hurdle of their online presence being much stronger (more reviews, more activity) by doing what they won’t.

State the reason for listing the different pricing tiers. Each should have a unique reason for being there beyond just profitability.

Since you already developed the pricing for a reason you should know why. It could be who you’ve serviced in the past or based on your own research. Be up front and honest about why you charge what you do since eventually that conversation will happen anyway.

You can leave prices off site and save that until you’ve spoken with the lead with the hopes of selling them past any objection to your pricing or you can remove that step by stating the sales points with the price on your website.

Your competitors are a guide but not a rule. If you feel as though they’ve left their prices off their site for a reason that doesn’t apply to you then don’t hold yourself back from showing your own prices.

What if Your Competitors are Displaying Their Prices?

If your competitors are up front about their prices but you feel as though doing so would put you at a disadvantage then the same question you should ask yourself is the obvious one your leads will want the answer to: why?

A bad experience could have put you off or just the anticipation of leads getting sticker shock.

Maybe you don’t want the competition being educated on your prices? Sometimes your reasons will be very valid but be prepared to have an answer if your lead is shopping around and the question comes up: I saw on XYZ’z website they offer A for $XX and you’re now saying you also offer A for $XX. How come you don’t put that on your website?

Have an answer and a good one. Include an anecdote if the reason is a bad experience or you will be stuck stammering to explain why and risk looking like you’re being dishonest before you’ve even started any sort of business relationship with your lead.

Displaying Prices Is Up to You

At the end of the day, displaying prices on your website is your choice. There is no absolute rule of thumb to follow. Assess all factors involved and make the right decision for your potential customers.

If you are withholding pricing with good reason you can even state it on your site but if not then you may want to rethink the decision.

Keeping an eye on your website stats can play a significant role in helping you decide whether displaying prices is working or not. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can place all pricing on one page and then check your Google Analytics to see if that’s where the trail ends.

Analyzing website stats will help determine if you should display prices or notClick To Tweet

If users are getting as far as the price page and not contacting you then it could be that your price page isn’t conveying enough value to justify the prices.

If you need help with taking that kind of action or just need help evaluating the decision then please comment below or get in touch. We’d be glad to help!

To your ongoing success,
Susan Friesen

P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

Yes or No: The Sharing Prices on Your Website DebateClick To Tweet

About the Author, Mark Hare

Mark Hare

Mark has been working in search engine optimization, paid online advertising, content marketing, and usability since 2005.

He has worked with hundreds of clients on a wide range of web based projects and is a strong proponent of white hat SEO techniques and link earning over building.


How Great Customer Service Gets You Business Referrals

Have you ever been frustrated by the lack of customer service from another company and vowed to never do business with them again? And most certainly never told anyone else about them?

This is why customer service is so vital to business success as I explain in this eTip episode on why it’s the primary reason we have such a high referral rate.

We get a lot of new customers based on the quality of our customer service.

Our referral rate is around the 90-95% range so I wanted to share our secrets for good customer service.

For us that means things like answering our phone, responding to emails quickly, and making sure our customer’s needs are taken care of.

Obviously you can’t do that 24/7 but having a solid response time is good business practice and your customers will appreciate you for it.

Respond to them in a timely manner and appreciate that their brand may be affected by what service they need you for.

People want to get information fast so making them wait is not good customer service.

If you don’t respond in a timely manner you risk pushing them towards your competition.

By providing a high level of customer service you demonstrate to the potential client that they can expect good work out of you if they commit to your business.

Sometimes your needs might need to be set aside while you put the customer first.

Dealing with difficult clients and mistakes wisely

No matter how much someone upsets you always make your best attempt at being professional and polite.

Even if you’re having a bad day consider they may be as well and the additional stress of bad customer service can really put them off your business.

If you do make a mistake own up to it and make it right. Mistakes happen and if you take responsibility for the error and solve the issue then your client will appreciate you more.

Let them know what steps you’ve taken to ensure those mistakes don’t happen ever again.

People don’t get mad about mistakes.

Your customers won’t get mad if you make a mistake. They will get mad if you don’t acknowledge the mistake or don’t take steps to address the mistake and prevent it from happening again.

Don’t lay blame with somebody else and by taking responsibility you show the customer you respect them, which will go a long way when they start looking for who to refer their friends to.

If one of your team members makes a mistake it’s still a reflection on you and your business.

Let them know you’re tackling the mistake and you’ll find they respond well to your professionalism.

When you’re in business you are in the people to people business so the more respect you pay to them the better. Treat your customers with respect and they will in turn refer their friends to you because they’ll know their friends will experience the same high level of customer service that you’ve provided to them.

If you have your own stories about how providing great customer service has helped you or has gained you a great new lead that turned into a client then please share them in the comments below.

Until next time,
Susan Friesen

Social Blast for Entrepreneurs

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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".

Is Jealousy the Biggest Culprit in Thwarting Your Business Growth?

Why Gratitude is One of the Biggest Keys to Success

Jealously the Biggest Culprit in Thwarting Your Business Growth

No magic pill, wand or formula was applied in creating this success story.

While Social Media can have many benefits to business growth, there’s an underlying, negative-based energy many people experience that could very well be contributing to the lack of their business growth.

And that energy is jealousy…

For us on the West Coast of Canada, we only get to enjoy a few months of summer warmth and sun each year. This is the time we make plans to get out and enjoy the weather as much as possible.

So it stands to reason many of the posts shared on Social Media are fun-related. After all, who wants to share posts about the hours they spend behind their computer working 15 hours a day?

Relaxing at Kingfisher SpaWhile away on holidays recently, it occurred to me there may be some who would look upon my holiday-infused Facebook posts thinking this is my life – doing nothing but having fun and going on holidays.

And when I thought about it, I’ve given them no reason to think otherwise. If a new Facebook business-owner “friend” only saw holiday-related posts, then that’s the impression they would have of me – I never seem to work!

For those that know me, this assumption is far from the truth but nonetheless, for those that don’t, I can see how they would come to that conclusion.

And the interesting thing is, that kind of conclusion has a far-reaching result that could very well be affecting their business success.

That’s because instead of being happy for me, they are feeling a twinge of jealousy.

Jealous they can’t take holidays…
Jealous they can’t go for spa treatments…
Jealous they can’t relax poolside at a resort…

And so on.

Jealousy is a very insidious thing that can sneak up and snare the most unsuspecting person.

Jealousy is a very insidious thing that can sneak up and snare the most unsuspecting personClick To Tweet

How many times have you looked at someone’s success or witnessed all of the wonderful travels they’ve been on and secretly wished it were you instead of them?

When this happens we nosedive into a lack and scarcity mindset. Our ego kicks into high gear and we get into competition mode. Comparing what WE DON’T have to what THEY DO have.

And when that happens, we’re not in an expansive, abundant state of mind. Instead, we’re stifling all energies needed for growth, which can ultimately result in a lack of success.

I did it too. I would see people like Mari Smith travel the world doing keynote speeches or private consulting gigs and think how lucky she is to live such a magical life!

But then I realized magic has absolutely nothing to do with it!

When we see people like Mari, or me for that matter, reaping the rewards of our labour, we fail to realize the labour part of that equation.

The ability to take time off, travel, go to spa appointments or relax at resorts is a product of hard work. It didn’t all happen magically, or effortlessly for that matter.

What does gratitude have to do with success?

I’ve talked before about my keys to success and aside from working long hours, having a team and building a business wisely, the biggest key to my success is gratitude.

I’m thankful every single day even if a client is upset with me.  Gratitude can still be found in the lessons learned to avoid that incident from happening again.

I’m thankful for the hard-working, integral employee giving their notice.  Gratitude can still be found because I was able to have them on my team as long as I did and look forward to how that person’s replacement will make a positive impact on my business.

I’m thankful for the deadbeat, non-paying client.  Gratitude can still be found knowing what kind of client to turn down in the future, seeing the signs ahead of time they will be a challenge to collect from.

This is what I do every day where it’s well documented in my gratitude journal I write in every night.

Success is what you want it to be. You are in control.

Despite the one-sided impression Social Media provides, there is no magic program, product or formula that will create success for you.

But with having an attitude of gratitude, a strong commitment to success and not letting jealously prevent you from thinking you can have that too, you can be successful.

I’ll let you in on a little secret…. many don’t know that not long ago Daniel and I were quite destitute. We were on the verge of losing our home and had a $24,000 credit card debt (due to identity theft but that’s another story). So I know what it feels like to be on the other side of the pasture thinking everything was so green over there and completely unattainable.

However, what got us through to the other side is we never gave in to victimhood. We believed things will get better, focused on being grateful for what we had, and worked towards what we did want.

Law of attraction expert Dana Smithers has a great solution to when things are not going perfect and that’s to ask yourself, “what do I really want?” (Watch this quick video where she explains how this works.)

So the next time you feel a pang of jealousy when you see someone post about their wonderful cruise, their world-wide adventure or their spa treatment, remember there was no magic involved in that person’s success.

Only hard work, commitment and a whole lot of gratitude for hills and valleys that was overcome along the way to that success.

Take a moment now and no matter how shitty of a day you’re having, what can you be grateful for? Ask yourself what is it that you really want? Share below, let’s all celebrate with you.

Are you willing to make a commitment to celebrate everyone’s success? Take responsibility for your actions and do what it takes so you can reap similar rewards of success?

Don’t let jealousy be the biggest culprit in the lack of your business growth. Show it who’s boss instead!

To your ongoing success,
Susan Friesen

P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

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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".

Team Building Tips to Help Grow Your Business

We’ve talked a lot about things this summer like video marketing and using Twitter to grow your business. Today I’m going to talk about the importance of using a team to build your business.

 

Build your business right by hiring the right people

Many years ago I was a one woman operation. I did it all.

The designing, the programming, the marketing; I was taking everything on myself.

At a certain moment I realized in order to build my company while providing my clients with what they needed, I would need to expand and start adding on some team members.

There are many different kinds of employees you can hire. Some may be temporary or freelance talent, some could be outsourced, or you can even hire on student interns from local schools to help. It doesn’t always have to be a full-time salaried employee.

The important thing is to focus on what you excel at and hire on people to help offset your weaknesses.

Hire an Expert

My biggest weakness was my understanding of how web technology had evolved. It had changed so quickly that my own skills had become a little dated even though they were only a few years old!

My first hire was a programming ace from a local university and he and I got to work. Once I saw his talents, I started delegating more and more of the tech work to him.

I let him work and I listened and learned. Together we really took eVision Media to the next level.

So hire yourself an expert even if it’s one in something you feel you’ve mastered. You might be surprised at how much else there is for you to learn.

Hire a Money Maker

You also want to hire someone who is profitable for you. Hire someone who makes you money!

Yes it’s nice to have help with your own tasks in the same way it’s nice to have a cleaning lady but look for people whose skills and background will make you money so you can pay their wages.

This is especially good advice if you’re struggling to stay ahead. Hire a sales rep, a product engineer, or some other type of employee where the financial return is immediate.

The more money-makers you have the better your business is going to be.

And make sure you are comfortable delegating the responsibilities too!

Lead by Example and Learn from the Feedback

Set standards for the employees to adhere to when delegating the work. You know how you prefer it done so write that out clearly and because the employees will bring their own knowledge to the project you may find, as I have, they often exceed those standards.

I myself have a team of designers, programmers, SEO experts, and more and I have to trust their expertise when assigning duties. Hiring experts is great and when you are comfortable they know what they’ve claimed to know you’ll be in a position to trust their expertise more, which takes pressure off of you.

Don’t Try to be an Expert in all Things

You can’t possibly hope to know everything about running a business – whether it the legal work, the bookkeeping, or any of the other many essential elements of running a business, and know everything about your internal roles and industry as well.

Take for example marketing. You can spend tens of thousands of dollars on marketing courses trying to being an expert in marketing yourself but while you’re doing that you aren’t focusing on all the other elements of your business.

Using the same money to pay someone to market your business while you focus on other aspects of it like cultivating leads or working with clients to make sure they’re happy makes much more sense and will help you grow your business instead of just your personal skill set.

It’s far too difficult to grow your business without building a team.Click To Tweet

I wouldn’t start self-funding multiple courses on contract law if I needed a lawyer, I would hire a TJ Smith lawyer, so why would you attempt to become a marketing expert when you need marketing?

This rings true for bookkeeping as well. My time is simply better spent running my business than trying to become an expert in all areas of the business. Hiring a bookkeeper makes more sense financially and professionally since I then have someone with experience in the role as well.

It’s far too difficult to grow your business without building a team. When you plan your business (and you should) and invest in your business include what you need experts for and budget for hiring professionals to help you grow.

If your business is really a supplemental income and you’re not full time then this may not be your approach but if you’re serious about growing your business into a solid company then you will need a team to help you.

Hire My Team

The take away is of course that you need to hire the right people to help you grow. If your business requires website development, branding, logo design, online marketing, social media management, or something else related to digital marketing and the online presence of your business then get in touch.

My team that I have cultivated myself are great so feel free to get in touch if you find yourself overwhelmed and need help with any of the services we provide. I don’t work with just anyone since experience has taught me to consider who I hire carefully. My team deliver and we do it with smiles on our faces that translate into smiles from our clients.

Check out our website at www.evisionmedia.ca for more and by all means if you have questions or comments post them to any of our social media channels or contact us directly via our website!

Until next time,
Susan Friesen

P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

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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".

How to Protect Your Business from Cyber Crime

How to Protect Your Business from Cyber Crime

Is your business secure? It may not be. Many unscrupulous individuals are operating online looking for new ways to exploit honest people.

I was recently pulled into a scam enacted by someone yet to be identified via a freelance work website. Because of how personally this affected me and my brand reputation,  I’ve decided to write today’s blog post about securing your business online.

My personal experience involved Upwork.com, which is a website boasting about the value of freelance talent.

As the old saying goes: there is nothing more expensive than cheap labour.

There is nothing more expensive than cheap labourClick To Tweet

Someone posing as me purporting to be a writer/editor from NYC took a job writing a book for a client and the results were bad. 3 chapters completely plagiarized bad.

Even worse – the fraudulent work got blamed on me! This person’s profile had my name and my photo and her client found me (the real me) through a Google search that matched my profile photo. You can imagine the shock I felt of being falsely accused of ripping someone off!

After realizing this was a clear case of identity theft, I immediately contacted UpWork to have the fake profile taken down. This person’s client did the same; we hope they were able to get a full refund of the monies spent on the useless book written for them.

Scary stuff. But compared to what others have encountered it’s small potatoes.

While hiring and supporting local talent has always been my thing, if you have to outsource (overseas or via those freelance sites), then a great idea to protect yourself is to insist on seeing a scan of government issued ID. Take your identification proof one step further and insist on a video conference before making any commitment.

Fraud is on the rise

2016 saw a significant increase in fraud over 2015. While the numbers show the amount stolen went slightly down the volume of theft went up. A lot.

While those figures relate more to consumer fraud if you’re the seller, you can be out of pocket money if the claim means sending the now used product back to you.

The point to take home is fraud is up so you need to take action to prevent yourself and your customers from becoming victims.

How to prevent and report cyber crime

According to The National Cyber Security Alliance there are several steps you should take to protect your business and customers:

  • Evaluate Risks

    Identify what types of fraud or crime you may be most susceptible to. Do you work with medical information? Financial information?
     
    Even if the purpose of your business is simply B2C there are steps to be taken to protect yourself.
     
    Users who purchase through your website are trusting you to keep their financial information safe so take steps to do so such as having SSL installed for any e-commerce or sensitive information and it’s wise not to store it.

  • Monitor Threats

    This can be as simple as making sure no spam messages are opened or any emails with attachments are scanned with some sort of antivirus software. While the software is not 100% effective it will stop the better circulated scams.
     
    Click here to read more about potential threats.

  • Report Attacks

    If you are the victim of a cyber attack you are going to get frustrated and with good cause.
     
    Currently Canada is really vulnerable when it comes to cyber crime and your best hope is just to call the police. While promises have been made to address this, very little has been done and international criminals are impossible to go after.
     
    If you are a victim of cyber crime contact local law enforcement and cross your fingers. But the bad news is you are likely to get no resolution. This is something to consider if you’ve been hiring anyone overseas.
     
    In the US reporting cyber crime is much easier. You contact the FBI via this website.  They have the capacity to address international criminals and recently America has cracked down on international crime operating within its borders.
     
    For those reading from any other country I encourage you to do your own due diligence regarding protocol for reporting cyber crime so you’re prepared should you ever need to be.

  • Execute a Security Plan

    For this the recommendation is to work with your ISP on a cyber security plan. While your ISP may be worth talking to you should really speak with your website’s hosting company first and foremost.
     
    The security of your customer’s info and your business is delicate so make sure your host knows to have things such as routine backups of all information made and stored on another server.
     
    Most of the majors stay on top of things but it’s always worth calling them for a quick review especially if you have pertinent info for them that may help.
     
    If you have been a victim already let your host know what happened. The information may help others down the road.

  • Safeguard Your Clients

    The suggestion found in this article of scanning all USB drives routinely is a good one. Sometimes the information can be air tight behind the most advanced firewall but it still gets out.
     
    One of the easiest ways to exploit technology is social engineering. Many times the information isn’t so much stolen as leaked by someone internally.
     
    Have a privacy policy in place and make sure your employees know that any time they connect anything to your computer network it will be scanned.
     
    Make sure all software is updated and that all computers connected to your network are running the most updated version of their operating system.

  • Educate Your Team

    This is an easy one.
     
    Have protocol in place that ensures your employees follow all steps noted above.
     
    All computers must be scanned when attached to a network and all USB drives as well.
     
    Most people are accustomed to this now so don’t worry about implementing it suddenly.

Stay Safe

By taking measures to protect yourself you’re ahead of the game should something occur. Scrambling after you’ve been a victim only helps the people who have stolen from you by giving them time to disappear.

Online business is only likely to grow even more and along with it fraud. The complexity of the scams will evolve and hopefully so do the solutions. In the interim I hope you enjoyed these tips and that you never become the victim of cyber crime.

If you have been a cyber-crime victim, share your story in the comments section below.

To your ongoing success,
Susan Friesen

P.S. Instead of risking your business by hiring an unknown freelancer from a freelance website or one located overseas, turn to the experts with a proven track record for your graphic design, website, SEO and online marketing needs. eVision Media is an “all under one roof” boutique firm who bases their success on your success
>> CLICK HERE FOR SOLUTIONS YOU SEEK

P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

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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".