3 Key Reasons Customer Service Matters

There are many things I love about being an entrepreneur. Going to live events with my fellow entrepreneurs ranks right up there in the top spot. This weekend, I was blessed to attend Kim Garst's Social Boom event in Tampa, Florida. Many of my best friends online – and now offline too! – were there. We stayed at the Tampa Marriot Westshore Hotel. And the customer service there was awesome. The shuttle driver remembered our names. The management volunteered a bigger room when they overheard my comment that ours was a little small for me and 3 kids. And, they specially packaged snacks for my kids to eat during their afternoon adventures (without me ever asking, of course).  I could literally give you an entire article about services they provided to me, their customer, that went far and beyond what I've ever received at the many hotels I've stayed in. I will go back to this hotel when I am in Tampa, without doing any price checking. Not because the beds were more comfortable, the bathroom was nicer, or the hotel restaurant was tastier. None of those things happened. All of the physical aspects of the hotel were adequate, but none were extraordinary. What will keep me coming back there is the people. And what they did for me, and how they made me feel.  The same is true of your online business. You provide products and services that are similar to those offered by others in your market. But, you can provide customer service that will set your business completely apart from every other in your market. It...

Why Your Online Branding Should Include YOU

Your online branding is one of the first, and most important, decisions you need to make in your business. Deciding who you want to be online, however, can be a difficult task. When you begin your online business, your confidence is never 100%. Doubts inevitably creep in. Do you have what it takes to make your business profitable? And, even if you’re certain of your abilities, will you be able to influence the number of people you need to build a successful business? For a number of reasons, you may have decided that your online branding should not include you?~ neither your name, nor your face. In many cases this is an unfortunate decision. Branding *YOU* is the easiest way to show your unique greatness to the market. Also, people like to do business with people?over companies. If you are the face of your online branding, rather than a logo or a company name, it’s therefore easier for you to appeal to your audience. The good news is, no matter how you’ve decided to do business, your online branding can still include you. If you are not doing business online as “you.com,” you are either doing business as a company, an affiliate, or through a direct sales company. Let’s look at how you can still brand you?in each case. 1. Online Branding ?for Companies Using a company name rather than your own name doesn’t mean you have to hide behind your company. I’ll show you two great examples. ME Marketing Services is a social media management company run by Mandy Edwards. Mandy uses a business name, but there’s no...

Procter and Gamble’s Olympic Lessons in Online Branding

If you watched even a moment of the 2012 Summer Olympics, you were undoubtedly exposed to the Procter and Gamble “Thank You, Mom” campaign. It was all over, to say the least. Even as a single mom, my first thought upon seeing that the company had branded itself as the “Proud sponsor of Moms” was “what about dad?” It became quickly apparent to me that dad had no place in the “Thank You, Mom” campaign. If this offended me (and it did), I wondered how it must be effecting families made up of a mom and?dad? And how about those single dads out there? I imagined widespread boycotts of Procter and Gamble products, apologies from the company for forgetting dad, and a general “flop” of the campaign. Obviously, I was in need of some online branding lessons, because I couldn’t have been more wrong. As I started to look around online for reactions to this bold campaign, what I saw was 95% positive. People were gushing about how “heartwarming” the commercials were, and how you couldn’t watch them without shedding a tear. And make no mistake about it, this campaign was all about moms. If you have any reservations about this, just check out the company’s popular Facebook and Twitter presence. The word “mom” or “moms” appears 5 times in the cover photo alone. The slogan “Proud Sponsor of Moms” says it all. This is a marketing campaign for moms. Twitter tells the same story: As you can see, the mom lovefest was popular. The Facebook Page gathered 769,758 likes. And 35,298 followed on Twitter. And again, the response...

Why You Need a Business Card and What it Should Look Like

One of the many beautiful things about owning an online business is that there is very little overhead. Sure, there are some costs associated with being online, but they are nothing compared to the rent, insurance, upkeep, and supplies that traditional business owners face. One of the most important, and often overlooked, expenses that online business owners share with their offline counterparts is business cards. I’m always surprised when I attend a live event at the number of people who don’t have business cards. Instead, they offer to write down their website or email address so that we can stay in contact after the event. Unfortunately for them, the chances of me ever remembering where I have their information is at about zero. And, even if I do run across it, the chances of me remembering who the person is, are even less. Initially, you may think you don’t need business cards because you do all of your business online. But that is small thinking. Yes, you can make money online without ever leaving your house. But, if you want a real business, that makes a real difference to a huge number of people, you’re going to have to ditch your pajamas once in awhile and step out into the real world. Even if it’s a sacrifice, you should get to a live event within your first year in business. Not so much for what you will learn, but for who you will meet. You should also be doing in person networking locally on a consistent basis. Live events are where you will meet future joint venture partners, people...

3 Ways to Brand Your Online Business for Maximum Profits

When I was in graduate school, all of the big firms used to come to the school to interview the top 25-33% of the class. ?During the two weeks of interviewing, everyone walked around in their dark suits. ?The men sported red “power ties” to go along with their uniform. It was literally hard to tell each other apart. ?We looked like a boarding school with a strict dress code. And you wouldn’t dare show up in something different?in an effort to be unique. ?The firms wanted the students who came out of the cookie cutters looking the best. Oh my how things have changed. ?When I graduated, my school boasted an 90+% rate of employment for graduates. ?Now the employment rate is at a 15 year all time low, hovering around 66%. Many – if not most – professions are facing similar struggles with meeting the demand for jobs. Online business owners face a similar fate. ?It used to be fairly easy to throw up a website, drive some traffic to it, and sell an affiliate product to thousands of hungry buyers. Now the profitable online business markets are becoming very crowded. ?The money is no longer there for the taking. So, whether you’re looking for a job, or building an online business, the rules for success have changed. It’s time to throw the dark suit and red tie away. ?Or at least, to add to it with a pair of lavender snake skin boots and a matching streak of dye in your hair. ?It’s time to brand yourself. ?To be unique. ?To make people recognize and remember...

How to Use Google+ With Social Search to Rock Your SEO Efforts

Today’s super simple, yet super effective tip for your online business is ?– make more connections on Google+. Making friends for the sake of making friends is usually good for the ego, but otherwise a waste of time on social media. Google’s new “social search”changes the rules when it comes to circling people on Google+. With social search, when you are logged into Google, and you type a search into the Google search bar, the search results favor those in your circles. This is best explained by looking at an example. ?If I do a search for “social media strategies” while logged into Google, here are my results: The “100 personal results” out of nearly 70 million means that the people in my Google+ circles have shared 100 pieces of content relevant to my search. Now, let’s look at where and how that content is showing up in the actual search results. When you see the little blue person next to the search result that I’ve highlighted with a green box and arrow, that means it’s a “personal” result. ?Or in other words, it’s something that was shared by someone in your circles. In this example, the number 2, 5 and 6 results I received were personal results. ?I’m showing you the 5 and 6 results in the screenshot above. ?In the number 5 result, you’ll see that it says “Pete Cashmore shared this.” ?As evidenced by the result, Pete Cashmore is in my circles. ?If I click on the link, it will take me straight to Mashable, where the content originated. In the number 6 result, the article...