Be Responsive to Your Online Audience
The first rule of managing your inbound marketing is to remain responsive to your online audience. Nowadays, Google, social media platforms, Yelp, Foursquare, and trade-related review sites make sharing feedback about your business really simple online.
You need to encourage people to leave their comments for others to see and share at any available opportunity.
Go out of your way to ask for feedback and provide links to your preferred platforms. If negative comments are posted, be sure to respond to them in a timely fashion. This means scheduling in time — daily — to check what people are saying about you. If you messed up, be up front about that and apologize immediately, putting things right publicly. You want to head off further criticism and even score points for great customer care.
If your webmaster has linked your website to Google, customers searching for your service or product may show your company in the results ahead of others in your locality if you have good reviews there. Any recent uploads of images also will count toward ranking your company higher than your competitors, helping you attract more customers.
Negative reviews are difficult to account for in terms of customers lost. Still, do your best to minimize the damage by showing you care, taking criticism into account so you can improve what you do.
This simple daily practice of monitoring social comments and input should take no more than ten minutes and be part of your wider inbound marketing strategy of maintaining a positive reputation. When you’re responsive, people will notice and credit you for it. Who knows? You may even get a new customer out of it.
The key is being prepared for the unexpected with your inbound marketing strategy. In an age where marketing messages go two ways, your audience can wreak havoc on your reputation. Marketing strategies that account for risk mean being prepared to acknowledge explicitly and publicly when mistakes have been made, and being seen to go all out to make things right with your customers.
Online audiences will forgive mistakes and welcome good after-support. You can be sure that industry commentators will notice, too, and having them accommodate glitches with understanding will protect your reputation and continuing revenues. Making amendments openly and publicly online can create opportunities to really connect with your customers, and even build loyalty.
The Importance of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is a business technique that attracts customers to products and services through valuable content and relevant material that’s tailored to them. It’s also the right way to bring in customers, unlike outbound marketing. Outbound marketing doesn’t work, first of all, and secondly, it only interrupts your potential customers’ lives and annoys them (think flyers, brochures, and so forth).
Inbound marketing lets you form a connection with the audience you want so you can give them what they need to solve a problem that they have. When you do inbound marketing right, you can increase your website leads, save money, and eliminate the chase — of your customers, that is.
Your website and overall online presence is the equivalent of your bricks and mortar business in the virtual real estate world. On the high street, businesses depend on footfall and word of mouth; it’s similar online, where inbound marketing brings in consistent website leads and revenue.
Well-planned marketing strategies, simple tools, manageable marketing ideas, and budgets are vital for business owners looking to grow revenues, for marketing agency owners to build clientele, for the self-employed marketing consultant seeking predictable income, marketing managers in the private sector, NGOs, and public sectors alike looking to stand out from the online noise of competitors.
Managing your company’s sustained visibility and reputation for reliability, professionalism, and expertise online is key to your longevity. Nevertheless, despite the importance of how the world sees you in the virtual world, many companies and organizations are unsure how to maintain a consistent brand voice and positive reputation in the face of criticism and challenges online. Not being able to handle the voices of detractors to your message can ruin months — and even years! — of hard work building your reputation online. Your marketing ideas have to allow for dealing with negative feedback if you want to avoid lost revenue.
The truth is, when you focus on who your customer is, what they need, and how you can help them, then you’re headed in the right direction. Even though your goal might be to grow your business, you have to solve their problem — and then another customer’s problem, and another customer’s problem, and on and on — if you’re going to get anywhere.
For your customers, inbound marketing turns your business into an experience rather than just another sale. And when you do that, you can intrigue potential customers, bring them in, get them to buy, and then make them love you so they’re promoting you, your business is growing, and everybody’s happy.
3 Tips to Protect Your Business from Life’s Curveballs
I’m the oldest of 5 children. I’ve been married for 17 years (as of this writing) and have five children. And I’ve run a business I started in high school over 20 years ago. In all of this, the one thing I’ve learned is that life will throw some serious curveballs. The thing about a curveball is that it changes direction when you don’t expect it. If you’re not ready, it could hit you, or you’ll miss the hit. But if you expect the curveball, you can see it coming and be prepared. I could probably go on longer about how this relates to family, marriage, and children, but I want to focus on business for now.
The company I run has successfully grown, year over year, for 20 years in a row. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but always growing. Each year, the top and bottom lines have always been higher than the previous year. One of the most important parts of that growth has been seeing the curveball coming.
When we first started, there were very few things we offered as a company. Frankly, we didn’t even do those very well, but I was hungry and wanted to keep learning and growing. Over the years, life has offered some incredible opportunities and a few very complicated curveballs.
The best way to be ready for a curveball is to have a good foundation in place. If your feet are planted and your eye is on the ball, you can be ready for anything that comes at you. It doesn’t mean you’ll always hit a home run, but it helps prevent strikeouts.
Here are three tips that have helped me manage life’s curveballs and keep the business growing.
PLAN for the unexpected.
In business, the best way to do this is plan well, prepare for the unexpected, and have a team in place to help make the play.
BUILD a team you can trust.
For many years, I ran the company by myself and eventually me with contractors. It was a great set up, but as life has gotten busier with children, church, and other activities, having a team in place makes dealing with life’s curveballs more manageable. If you own the business, your team is never going to love it or care about it as much as you do. Get over it. But they can love it and care for it enough to have a huge impact on your life, their lives, and the lives of your customers. Hire people who are flexible, trustworthy, and able to handle the occasional curveball, and it will help protect your business for the long haul.
EXPECT things to go wrong.
Optimism is great — glass half full and all — but you must expect to run into issues and strike out occasionally. Realistic expectations in business and life make the reality much easier to bear when it arrives.
Bring It Home
Let these three things resonate a bit. Then, the next time life throws you a curveball, be prepared, plant your feet, keep your eye on the ball, and swing the bat. You’ll still miss sometimes, but you can never hit a home run if you don’t swing the bat.