Do you ever find yourself wishing that your company had the same type of positive image that some of the world’s most popular brands enjoy? If so, you’re not alone. It’s difficult to look at those well-loved brands and not feel at least some small measure of jealousy. The question is, though, what are those companies doing that you’re not – and is there any way that you can replicate their brand communication strategies to create a stronger business image? Here are a few things that you can focus on to consistently showcase your company at its best.
Is your company customer-centric? Sure, every company says that their primary focus is their customers, but far too many are interested in the green in their wallets. Customers can tell when you’re focused on their needs and they recognise when you’re not. With that in mind, to really showcase your company, it is crucial that you develop a customer-centric mindset that is embedded throughout your business enterprise.
When your company truly focuses on the customer, it will shine through in all that you do. Your customer service will provide the care those clients need, and your products and services will be delivered with the right goal in mind. Just make certain that your team understands that their job is to provide solutions that resolve customer pain points, and watch as your business builds a solid foundation with a customer-centric focus.
Develop the Right Culture
Every business has its own unique culture. Some are carefully planned and nurtured over time. Others spring to life more organically as employees, customers, and other factors combine to create a particular work environment and mindset. The best companies all have corporate cultures that are part of the image that they present to the outside world. You should create a company culture that aligns with your company’s vision and values, and the image you want to portray.
Build a Powerful Online Presence
These days, it’s not enough to just maintain a well-run brick and mortar business operation. When you consider how you showcase your company to the world, you also have to think about your online presence. That means you need to make sure that your website, social media pages and other online platforms are providing the right type of representation for your firm.
Remember, most of today’s customers see you online before they ever see you in person. So it is well worth your company’s time to focus on creating a dynamic website that is informative and user-friendly. The site should be optimised for searches to ensure that users can locate your page. From a content perspective, the emphasis should be on the needs of your customers and how you can help them.
Don’t ignore social media either. Depending on your industry and target audience, your company should at least have a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account. These are all great marketing and networking tools that you can use to spread your business message to the widest possible audience. Just be sure to maintain consistency of your message at all times.
This one is so simple that many companies fail to make it a priority. The reality is that far too many companies demonstrate everything but a commitment to consistency. From customer service to product support, businesses can be as inconsistent as the weather. The problem is that inconsistency can leave your customers wondering what type of company you have.
But what does consistency mean? It means developing a business character and allowing that character to guide you in all that you do. When your company’s character is focused on meeting customers’ pain points with the highest level of product and service quality, it will shine through in everything that you do. Be consistent in how you treat your employees; the way in which you interact with customers; and the message that you present with your marketing, media interactions and online activity. That will help you to develop the strong brand you need to showcase your company in the best light.
First Impressions Matter
Finally, let’s not forget what our parents always told us when we were younger: first impressions count! In the business world, a bad customer experience can have a lasting impact. Unfortunately, that impact can snowball through negative online reviews and word-of-mouth. First impressions don’t even have to involve any actual customer experience. Sometimes, it’s just the appearance of your website or your store that turns a customer off. Therefore, it is vital that you focus on every customer touch point to ensure that each first contact of any kind always leaves a good impression.
Now, there will be times when your business might not put its best foot forward right away. It happens. But to truly showcase your company at its best, you need to have a strategy in place for dealing with those instances. Make sure that an immediate bad impression – whether due to mistakes or a poor customer experience – can be properly remedied without delay. This will help to reverse that bad first impression by returning the focus to customer satisfaction.
Your business image is everything and will ultimately determine the success or failure of your enterprise. Therefore, it is crucial that you seek to showcase your company at its best at all times and in all venues – both in the real world and online. That will help you develop your brand, strengthen your business image and earn customer loyalty over time. In the end, it’s one of the most important things that you can do to increase your company’s potential for sustained success.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, there are few things that companies prize more than thought leadership. Every industry has individuals whose ideas drive innovation, and every successful company wants to be associated with these leaders. Their ideas and skills are valued, and they’re often able to command significantly higher salaries than others with similar levels of experience. But how do you become a thought leader in your industry? And more importantly, how do you leverage that leadership?
What Is a Thought Leader?
Thought leadership is a different kind of quality and not something that can simply be claimed. In fact, thought leaders need to be recognised as such by others. In any given industry, they are individuals whose ideas are respected for the value they can bring to any company wise enough to implement them. They’re innovative and creative and often serve as the driving force behind industry-wide changes. To become a thought leader is not an easy feat.
Thought leaders typically have credentials gained from education, extensive work experience, or a combination of both. Their knowledge provides them with insight which they use to identify areas of potential growth and innovation that can help shape the future of companies. They are the experts that people look to when change is needed because they have proven the value of their expertise over many years.
How Can You Become a Thought Leader?
Becoming a thought leader takes time and effort. If you want to have credibility in your industry and attain that “expert” status that you seek, then you need to be prepared to build the necessary foundation for that achievement. There are several things that you should do to accomplish this goal:
Build and Guard Your Personal Brand
Your brand will be critical to ensuring that people recognise your thought leadership once you’ve established it over time. They will be able to associate you with your ideas which will lend even greater credibility to your message. Cultivate your brand through social media and other avenues, and protect it.
Learn Everything You Can About Your Industry
Your value will be based more on your experience and proven expertise than any educational credentials you might obtain. This means learning everything there is to know about your industry. The knowledge and insight you acquire will allow you to prove your worth to others.
Develop a Strong Network
Having a network of associates to help spread the word about your capabilities will prove to be an invaluable asset going forward. Start building that network by connecting with people in your close circle of business peers first, and then expand to include others in your industry.
Get Your Message Out
You cannot become a thought leader if no one knows about it. Be your own best advocate, and deliver your message through social media, articles, and other means of communication. For instance, starting a blog allows you to speak directly to your intended audience where you can express your thoughts and ideas in an unfiltered way. But don’t forget to attach emotion to your insights. We like to think that we’re all purely rational beings, but it’s often an emotional pull that inspires us to truly think about change.
Leverage the Power of Influencers
Influencers can be invaluable for directing people to your message. Find blog writers in your niche and reach out to them. They often have a network of devoted followers that they can redirect to other content of interest if it benefits them in some way. If you can get one or two successful influencers to push their fans to your content, your reputation will grow by leaps and bounds.
Be Willing to Be Disruptive
If you’re afraid to be disruptive, then forget about being a thought leader. Thought leaders innovate and change everything around them. You cannot achieve that goal without disrupting the status quo. You should look for ideas and strategies that push the boundaries because that disruption can create positive change that drives your industry and the companies in it toward greater success.
What Can You Do to Leverage that Leadership?
Thought leadership is a powerful asset and one that can be leveraged to great effect. But how can you use it to benefit yourself and others in such a way that provides real value?
- Find areas where innovation is needed. Almost every industry has at least one technological or systemic change that it’s currently neglecting.
- Identify differentiation strategies that can create competitive advantages for your company or your clients.
- Continue to develop your expertise and networking reach. If you take a breath, there will always be someone else waiting to step up and take your leadership role.
- Never pull back from being a disruptive influence. Sure, you need to pick your battles, but change doesn’t occur by following the status quo. The minute you do, the marketplace will decide that you’ve lost your edge.
There are definite advantages to being a thought leader, but it’s a journey that often takes years and one that requires relentless determination. Once you achieve that leadership status, however, you’ll find that your insights and value proposition are almost worth their weight in gold. More importantly, you’ll have your industry’s attention and an opportunity to make positive real-world changes.
Every business owner eventually realises that the clients truly are the fuel that drives growth and long-term success. To enjoy sustainable growth, however, you must continue to acquire new ones and appropriately service them over time. To do that, you need to learn how to locate those new clients and effectively communicate your company’s message. Fortunately, there are certain strategies that you can implement to better find and engage new customers.
Why New Customers Are So Important
If you sincerely want to see real business growth, it is essential you find and engage new customers. While much of your focus should be on continuing to serve the needs of your existing customer base, there is a limit to the growth that you can achieve without broadening that base. New customers can provide you with the new revenue opportunities you need to fuel the growth your company needs to reach its goals. It’s incumbent upon you to develop a strategy that enables you to locate and attract new clients. And once you do, you need to be prepared to engage them to capture their loyalty.
Why Engagement is Critical
It’s important to understand what the term “engagement” means within the context of customer acquisition and retention. For some business owners, customer engagement is often confused with messaging. However, if you think that an effective marketing and sales message is all that you need to do to engage your customers, then you’re eventually going to lose those clients to your competitors. Why? Because today’s customers demand something more than mere messaging. They want to do businesses with companies that interact with them in a deeper and more meaningful way.
Five Things You Can Do to Find and Engage New Customers
To accomplish that deeper level of interaction, you need to give your customers a reason to be loyal to your products and your brand. The good news is that the strategies that you can use to elicit that brand loyalty are also among the most effective ways to attract new customers. Here are five of the most successful ideas that you can incorporate into your business to find and engage new customers and build relationships that stand the test of time.
- Promote your company’s real value to their lives. It doesn’t matter what you sell; you need to get past the product or service and focus on how it changes customers’ lives for the better. Too many companies try to attract and engage customers by talking about how much better their offerings are than the competition. The problem is that every company does that same line, and that means that the clients often don’t know which pitch to believe. You should design your engagement strategy to focus on valuable content that informs and inspires. Remember, if your advertisements and messaging strategies are valuable to potential customers, they’ll be more apt to view your products and services in a positive light too. In other words, convince them that your company wants to solve their problems, and they’ll be more willing to hear about your solutions.
- Leverage technology like social media. It’s somewhat surprising that so many businesses have yet to figure out how to properly use social media to their advantage. Far too many still think of it as a time-waster or meaningless fad. In reality, social media is the new word-of-mouth venue for mass social interaction. If your company isn’t yet using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other platforms, then you’re missing a golden opportunity.
- Create your community. Older generations remember a time when businesses thrived in an atmosphere of shared community. The rise of Big Box stores and the internet have helped to supplant that shared community environment of the past, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t create your own. Use your online presence to start a real and sustained dialogue with your customers. Use those social media sites, blog posts, and online forums to start a two-way conversation with your clients.
- Be adaptable and quick to adjust your strategy. Times None of us can predict future trends with 100% accuracy. Technologies are changing. Marketing techniques grow and adapt. Customers’ tastes shift as constant changes in society alter their lives. Your company needs to focus relentlessly on staying abreast of these changes so that you can quickly adapt to and benefit from new trends in the marketplace.
- Keep your emphasis on that people-to-people connection. While technology offers a variety of ways for businesses to automate different processes and interactions, it’s important to remember that most people still want to deal with other people. There are few things more frustrating for a customer than being forced to deal with a machine just to remedy a problem. If you’ve ever called about a customer service issue and spent half an hour trying to reach a human representative, then you understand this all too well. Make your business about people, and you’ll find that customers will be drawn to that proposition like moths to a flame. That people-to-people connection helps to create the emotional ties that will fuel brand loyalty throughout your client base. In time, that will help you to realise the type of customer retention rate you’ll need to build a sustainable foundation for continued success while continuing to attract the new customers you need to further your expansion effort.
There is no real easy path to increased customer acquisition and retention, of course. Any strategy that you pursue will only see real results through persistence and effort. In the end, though, that energy and stubborn determination to continually find and engage new customers will pay off at every level of your business enterprise. More importantly, these strategies can help to create a business culture that is truly customer-centric, which can benefit your company in nearly every way that matters. Shape your message, use every medium available to you, and focus on creating personal relationships with prospects and long-standing customers alike. That’s the type of engagement that’s sure to get the results you need.
You can always rely on paid advertising, SEO and content marketing strategies to generate leads, but to scale your business efficiently, you will need to carry out a prospecting campaign. You may think that you need to target as many prospects as possible. While volume may be substantial, quality is critical. Explore your market and do your research. You need to identify which companies you should be targeting, in which industry and who you should be contacting. Pinpoint who the key decision makers are for each firm. But how do you find such contacts? We list the best ways to build up your prospect list.
Use search engines
The most shared and obvious method used to build up your prospect list. Search directly for companies within your target market. Use search engines to carry out the necessary research to identify whether the firms you’ve identified meet your criteria. Bear in mind that as with any manual process, this can be very time-consuming.
Use social media to build up your prospect list
LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ are the top platforms with LinkedIn being the most useful for engaging with new contacts and validating them. But depending on the nature of your business, it may be worthwhile also to consider Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. For instance, if you’re looking to sell to the retail apparel industry, then Pinterest and Instagram can be a great source of data but they wouldn’t so useful for the energy sector.
Explore online databases
A more straightforward method, but considerably more expensive way to build up your prospect list, is to source the data from an online database. Firms such as ZoomInfo, Mint Global, and Dun & Bradstreet will allow you to access their business data for a fee. They are simple to navigate and include all the necessary information for companies in every industry such as their structure, who runs them and how successful they are.
Subscribe to business directories
Similar to Yelp and Yell for B2C businesses, there are online business directories for B2B companies. For example, PitchBook, AngelList and CrunchBase are directories particularly for start-ups and innovative companies on the rise. Find directories that suit your client base and industry. Some publish useful reports and market analysis. If you’re willing to disclose information, subscribing to lists can sometimes be a useful tool in getting noticed by potential prospects rather than you seeking them out.
Don’t just use social media to market your business by simply focusing on the number of connections and followers. Get involved online by joining forums and answering questions posted on sites aimed at your target market. Join discussions on Facebook and LinkedIn groups, Quora and Twitter. The idea is not to self-promote but rather to offer your knowledge on a particular subject and open the lines of communication with new prospects.
If you say something of interest and demonstrate you’re an expert in your field, other members will notice you and are likely to visit your website to investigate your product offering. By building up an online presence and communicating regularly with your chosen market, you can increase your brand credibility which will lead you to new leads.
If you’re directing traffic to your website, ensure you’re pointing them to relevant content. You’ll also want to make sure you’re giving the opportunity to subscribe or register to your content offering on every page of your website, so you don’t lose those all-important leads.
Relationship-oriented strategies such as networking and referrals will always be an effective way to build up your prospect list, but these actions take a long time as you have to develop relationships. Do your research and attend any networking events, meetings, seminars or workshops that will prove worthwhile. Don’t just focus on handing out your business card but gather other peoples too and collect any flyers or brochures you come across as they could also be prospects.
Prospecting may seem like a colossal task to undertake all at once, but it’s imperative to the growth of your business. To prevent your pipeline from drying up, you need to consider regular prospecting to ensure you’re targeting the correct people and maximising your lead conversions. It may be a costly and time-consuming process, but with the support of a solid team behind you, the results will ensure your business scales efficiently.
A/B testing stands for “Always Be Testing,” right? It should! Once you start testing various elements of your marketing campaigns, you begin to understand the massive benefits. However, you never know exactly what’s going to work with your audience until you A/B test it so there are no hard and fast rules. So below, we have put together a few results we’ve found over the years.
A/B Test Where Your Form Is on The Landing Page
Many of the best AB test results have come from testing things that don’t necessarily fit into best practices. One of the most exciting results seen from an A/B test came from simply moving the form on a landing page from the standard right side, to the center of the landing page.
The existing landing page was already pretty tightly optimized and had a conversion rate of about 11%. By making a simple change and moving the form to the center, we were able to increase conversion rate by nearly 50% to just a hair under 16%.
Small A/B Tests Can Have Profound Impacts
Back in 2007 I tested URL initial capitalisation in AdWords ads and achieved a 53% lift in click-through rate.
The test was simple. I created two exact ads except for the URL. In one, I used the standard www.sitename.com while the other used initial capitalisation and looked like www.SiteName.com. The test was repeated numerous times and always saw a positive lift.
Sadly, Google eliminated this type of URL display. However, at the time, it reconfirmed that small changes could have a profound impact