Will they Buy? Communicate the Purchase Process

stairs-to-nowhereDo you have any question about how to buy a towel when you go to Target?

No. The purchasing process is clear at most brick and mortar stores. Owners display a
price for an item. Shoppers select the item and take it to checkout. They pay and walk out with the item.

Make Your Purchase Process Crystal Clear

How do you know how to price your services?

Potential service customers stop if your purchasing process is too loosey-goosey. The “not knowing” about costs  and how payment and services will be exchanged is too big of an unknown for many.

For retail businesses, it’s important that online purchasing is seamless, from impulse to shipping. If a “Buy Now” button takes a buyer to a broken link, that button might as well say “Bye-Bye.”

But for service businesses, the unknowns reside more with the moving parts of services. It’s crucial that you know how you price your services. This requires a knowledge of your clients needs and quirks.

For an family photographer, for example, does the photo shoot cost more if the family has four kids versus two kids? What if they want to include the dog?

For an wedding planner, how does the price differ for a wedding of 200 guests versus 400 guests? What about a destination wedding? Or one where the bride’s sister is doing the flowers?

Try to imagine your client and how their needs arise. Streamline and price your services accordingly.

Decide How You Want to Be Paid, and Share That Info

Do you take checks, credit cards, senior discounts or Apple Pay? Is yours a contract and invoicing structure? Do you require partial payment up front?

Figure out and streamline how you get paid for your services. Then, put that information on the about page of your website. 

Do you offered tiered pricing?

If not, you may want to consider it. Offering tiered pricing structures widens your audience and has proven to increase a sense of value and control over the services.

If you offer different levels of service, promote this on your website and Facebook page as well.

Do you require a contract for your work?

If you are consulting, contracting (including providing renovating or repair services), or freelancing, chances are you need a contract for your work with a client.

A good contract is written in simple language and includes

  • the parties involved
  • dates and timelines
  • payment obligations
  • the scope of the work, its limits and how it will be executed
  • how disputes will be resolved
  • circumstances which will terminate the contract
  • the state to govern the contract
  • signatures of parties involved.

Sites online offer templates which can be used as a jumping off point for customizing a contract that works for you and protects both you and your client.

Why do businesses hesitate in the purchase process?

No one wants to under-charge for their services. Or “scare away” a potential client by quoting what seems, to them, to be an unreasonable price.

Do your research and price accordingly.

Incidentally, did you know that under-pricing can actually lead to a lack of ? Perception of your services plays a large part in how and what people feel they should pay. This is part of the bigger picture of of brand and value.

If you’d like more information about how to improve your brand and communicate wisely with your target audience, contact me.

 

Weekend Work for Small Business: Website Review

Website Review Weekend Work Marketing Strategy

 Task 1: Website Review.

Website Review Weekend Work Small business
Weekend Work is the weekly series of for business owners and creative entrepreneurs. Weekend Work is chunked tasks you can complete outside regular working hours.

 This Weekend’s Task: Website Review

Goal: Determine if you have a website, and how that website is working for your business, right now.


Do you have a website?
(If yes, skip ahead.)

No?

Ok.

You need to get a website.

Customers use a website to answer questions about you and your products or services when you are not there. It’s a must-have.

Not having a website is akin to not wearing pants.

But hey. There’s probably a reason you don’t have one.

The most common one is: I’m so confused and overwhelmed. 

Yes. yes. I hear you. 

Get on with it.

Here’s your “I-don’t-have-a-website-what-now” task list:

  • Decide the URL you want your website to have. Keep it simple to speak and spell. Try to claim a .com or .net (.org for NFPs) if you can. Pick One.
  • Register the domain(s) now. Use GoDaddy.com to search and find the best domain name. Pay for it now. Set it up to renew automatically. Register.
  • Determine your budget on website build. Consider your own willingness to learn graphic design, SEO tools, website hosting and more. Budget.
  • If you are determined to skip an investment in a professional design and build DIY (for now), start researching “free” website design tools such as Wordpress, Wix and Weebly. None of these are truly free but they will get you started. Choose one.
  • If you have a budget, put out feelers for a website designer and content creator. Start with your local Facebook groups or other area business owners whose websites you love. Ask them who they used and (more importantly) if they were happy with the service.  Contact them.
  • Make notes. Keep a notebook or Evernote log of what you think your customer wants when they come to your website. Add to it whenever you can. Organize.

Q. So you DO have a website?

Good.

Conduct your website review. Open an email draft and be ready to type notes to send to your website administrator.

  • Do you “Ask them to act”? That is, do you have a call-to-action button and/or text on your website where you ask your visitors to hire you or buy your service? Add it.
  • See any broken links or missing photos? Click them and fix them.
  • Read the website for errors and outdated info. Send corrections.
  • Social media links. If you have social media, these sites need to appear on your website. Link them. 
  • Is your contact form working? Test it.
  • Wait… Do you even have a contact form? If not, add one.
  • Do you have an About Page? Do you know what Mistake No. 1 on Copyblogger’s post “Are you making these 7 Mistakes on Your About Page?” is? Have a look. (So, yes: Add an “About” Page.)

Hey, I think that’s enough for this initial Website Review.

There’s more to think about  when it comes to marketing strategy and your website as the face of your business. Is it written for your target client or customer? That’s a topic for another week.


If you have questions or would like further information or support, feel free to reach out to me. I’m here to help. 

5 Ways to Improve Customer Focus & Clear a Path to Your Business

Clear a pathway for clients improve customer focus

improve customer focus and clear the path

This morning, I clicked on a video. Instead of the video, I was asked to wait 12 seconds while an ad for local news played.

Boom. Like that, I was gone.

Your customers get distracted. In order to improve customer focus and clear the path for them to your products and services, start with some digital housework.

Take a stroll (or stumble?) in their shoes

Your potential buyers and clients want to buy from you!

They’ve made this far: to your website, to your Etsy page, to your social media page. They’ve even signed up for your newsletter.

They read your posts. They clicked on it!

Is there something stopping them or distracting them? Let’s start with a the basics:

  1. Do your links work? Check all the links on your website. Fix the broken ones. You can do it manually, or use an automator like this one.
  2. Does your contact page work? Test it. Wait… hey! Do you even have a contact page?
  3. How slow does your page load? Remember that 12 second ad? Did you know that research shows that after 10 seconds of waiting, your potential buyers feel out of control. Find out how long takes for your page to load, and ask you digital team to reduce that number to 1 second.
  4. Is your page mobile friendly? In 2014, mobile use surpassed desktop as the primary way that users access the web. Your site needs to be “responsive” — ie. it converts to look right on a smaller screen — in order to work for your customer. Is it? Check here.  If it isn’t, get it done. (Click here to read more about responsive sites).
  5. Finally… Do they know exactly what you do?  This is key. They will visit your about, services and home pages. They need to be able to see themselves there. Make sure these pages clearly answer:
    • What do you do?
    • What problem do you solve?
    • How is your product or service different?
    • Why should I care?

Why you Might be Hesitating

If you own a business now, you already got the hint, right?

People use the internet.

You love a challenge. Yet it’s daunting to get all the social media pieces in place, and to do it right. In fact… it can be tempting (shhh) to just pretend the internet doesn’t exist.

When you Want to Clear a Path

We break it down, piece by piece, and work with you. We help you to learn the process as we go along. You know your customers and your business. We know the digital world.

Together we work to clear the path.

Contact me and feel free to ask me any questions you have.

 

Submit to Me

submit to me - uncle toms cabin at had dam neck fair
April 7 Poem

How do you like my new boots?
I’ll bet it is quite easy to smell the
Hide shine from your vantage,
Sole pressing into your throat.

I’ve heard you have thoughts.
How interesting. When did that
Start happening? It’s all so
Untidy however. Sweep up.

Tonight we’re having roast.
You know how to do that right?
If you could, as well, mash the
‘Tatoes with the skin on.

Later, after you’ve washed up,
Perhaps we can go for a walk. You can
Carry me, if you wouldn’t mind. I’m so
Exhausted from mattering.

I am jealous. Who would not be? You
Sleep so soundly. I’ve been watching you win at
Slumber, mouth slack and wet.
In darkness seething: I am not you.

I have to leave now

April 5 Poem

moving stairsI have to leave now but
before i go you need to
hear me say: never will
we ever be here again.

return we may to this
cafe to this table to
this conversation, but
not to today or to this

slice of air or to
this sense of ease. so
please hear me say
i have to leave but

before i go i want
to say: stay.

I am a bookmark

Photo by Elizabeth Howard

Poem for April 1

Photo by Elizabeth HowardLying flat on the grass,
Crushing the blades
I am a bookmark between
The earth and all that is above.

“You are not looking UP,”
I once read. “Imagine you can
Step out into the stars. All the
Universe is in front of you.”

All the universe — the sun which is a
Star; and greater suns indeed, also stars,
And the moons which are just rocks like
Gravel scattered between the flagstones.

The landscapers moved the daffodils.
“Give them some water. They’ll perk back up.”
Just so with this grass beneath me.
Those ants I laid poison for in the living room: not so lucky.

Sometime this week, the men will come to tear out the yuccas.
The women will carve out the daisies.
A redbud tree waits at the nursery to be adopted;
Legions of utility workers attend my yard with blue and yellow spray.

I lay on the grass
My sprained ankle rests akimbo.
I gaze up and plan a shutter painting party as clouds drift by.
In the nearest slice of sun

The dog drops her head and sighs.

Demand Love Poetry Live

Custom Love poetrySo if you’ve been thinking about purchasing custom love poetry for your partner or family member, here’s a chance to do that, in time for Valentine’s Day.

I’ll be live at the Wine Maker’s Boutique on Saturday, February 13, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The appearance is part of the Valentine Art & Wine Boutique pop-up shop, presented by the Coastal Arts Guild of CT.

While you are there, you can sample wine, chocolate and shop local artists including jewelry, paintings, cards, original handmade gifts and more.


Demand “Love” Poetry is custom love poetry, written on the spot, from the topic you provide. I present the poem to you in a greeting card format that is also suitable for framing.

Because of time constraints: a limited number of poems will be available. If you would like to RSVP a slot for the event, please contact me here.

Cost will be $20 per poem, a reduced rate for event.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Mercy Learning Center in Bridgeport

Details:

Demand Love Poetry

in conjunction with
Valentine Art & Wine Boutique
Saturday, February 13, 2016
11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Wine Maker’s Boutique
Stationhouse Square (across the street from the Stratford Metro North Station)
2505 Main Street, Stratford.
Show Entrance: free

I’ve Never Believed in Heaven

Haddam Neck Pansy

A Single Pansy at Haddam Neck FairAt the bottom of the dresser drawer
Under a twist of bras and
Fine-enough-to-donate
Ankle socks, I found the
Liner she used to protect the wood —
Or was it to protect the clothes? —
I’m not sure. Shouldn’t adults
Really know this now?
But I don’t line my drawers with
Newspaper. I don’t even receive
One anymore. How else have I
Let her down, dropped the ball on
All the better, best and bygone Ways?

Well, no more heat-and-eat Salisbury steak ovals
Floating in gravy are served, so
I’ve achieved that. That and
Lifting her onto the portable toilet when
Her legs became deadweight. And I achieved
Ordering the hospital bed, making
Small talk with the lanky boy-man who
Constructed it in the living room one day,
Then came back a few days later to
Pack it away. The damn chia seeds. Still
Behind the instant oats in Dad’s cupboard!
Why didn’t I toss them out with the
Pile of not-fine-enough-to donate t-shirts?

Ann and I had that flash of certainty,
Sure the old news in the drawer would be
Ancient, with ads for powdered penny soap and
Photos of mustachioed men. Where were you in
1999? She must have been standing right here
At the drawer on Timberline,
Laying out the paper, washing her hands before
Touching the whites, thinking her thoughts
About what’s for dinner and
Is there an afterlife and where exactly is
The Friday card group.

I was far away.
It was the El Nino year, the year
I bought my shirtwaist house, and forgot to water
The coreopsis, and for the last time
Gas was 99 cents a gallon. Then,
fear shaped itself as loneliness,
Not as a leaking bag body that takes 30 days to
Empty, that sloughs off eating,
Then walking, then speech,
And all muscle control
Like peeling skin on a
Sunburned life.

Building Your Website, and a Business

Build Your Website Class CT
[caption id="attachment_486" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Build Your Website Class CT A student website, in the build stage[/caption]

I’ve been a bit quiet lately. The good news is it’s for a good reason!

I’ve had the pleasure of doing a real cross-section of work with graphic and web designer Mark Hannon. He and I also happen to be on the board of the Coastal Arts Guild of CT, together. It’s how we met actually.

The latest project we’ve done is one I think is really important: teaching other artist-entrepreneurs how to build their business, by building (and maintaining) their own websites on Wordpress

[caption id="attachment_482" align="alignleft" width="205"]Build Your Website Class Elizabeth Howard Here’s me teaching[/caption]

Mark and I designed the course “Building Your Website for Artists & Creatives” (even for beginners!)  as a way to teach artists of any age that — YES — you can create and maintain your own website. And you should.

Now, I’ve been busy on other projects these days in my role a content and social media specialist, for wonderful clients. And I do enjoy that. And this work is building MY business. And that is very good.

So why is teaching others how to build their website (and their business) so special to me?

Here’s why:

  • Don’t fence me in. It’s no secret that I’m wild. I don’t want to feel constrained. That’s the artist in me. Other artists I’ve met are the same. They are constantly exploring, trying new media, new techniques, no matter the age. So Mark and I wanted to offer that opportunity to artists who may be reticent to explore the backend of a webpage.
  • The world needs to SEE this! You would not believe the beautiful stuff I have seen by the most unassuming people. Artists invest time, love and passion into their work. But they can’t haul their canvases and their sculptures around in their back pocket. Building your own website gives an artist who needs, wants, deserves exposure and reach the chance to spread the LOVE — the ART — into the world.
  • [caption id="attachment_487" align="alignright" width="300"]Website Class Wide_Mark Hannon Props to Mark Hannon for the detailed slides he created for the 4-week course.[/caption]

    Learn Flex Earn. I won’t knock you if you decide to spend your days stretching your brain on Lumosity. (Hey, I have that app). But if you want to spend time keeping your brain in shape, why not do it learning a skill that will also add value to your artist-entrepreneurial life?

  • The Real Deal. Nothing is more local and more real than the work of an artist. If you buy a product or service from an artist or creative,  it is the definitive real deal, handmade from the source. That’s the truth.
  • My Business is Yours. This last one is strange but true. Since I work in social media and marketing for artists, my business is yours. Teaching you a consistent model for sharing and promoting your work and events makes my job easier. It makes it easier for me to promote you. So I it’s only a little bit selfish

Mark and I have been very happy with the result of our first workshop. We had the gamut of students in the class, from terrified luddite to a tech teacher. All of the students have worked hard and progressed through the class, to create a functional, beautiful, searchable, website to share.

P.S. We’d also like to thank the B-Hive in Bridgeport, which is such a gorgeous, dynamic and inspiring co-working space.

Facing Down Nanowrimo 2014: Third Time’s No Room for Excuses

Nanowrimo puzzleThe goal of is, basically, to barf out an entire book in 30 days.

Nanowrimo forces you to push your literary muscles to their breaking point.

The goal is to FINISH, to untrain yourself of delay, obfuscations, and so-called .

The goal is to write the book you always said you would.

ACK!

All Those Reasons to Stop

This is my third year (read, attempt) at National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo 2014).

The first time out of the gate, I set down 1890 words in the first week or so– then fizzled out. Apparently, Thanksgiving and all of the shopping days between by son’s birthday and my twins’ birthday and Facebook fall in November. Excuses.

The second time I signed up, I was “prepared. I has a buddy. I had  a really good grasp of the novel I wanted to write. I outlined. I thought about the story a long time in advance. I bought software. I set down 11,000 words.

But then there was this strange Nano writing date at Panera in a mall. Something happened.  I fizzled again.

Excuses.

Year 3: The year of the calamity. 

I consider my previous experiences to be great warm-up  to all the excuses any one person can handle.

I feel good about 2014. Why?

I’ve exercised my writing muscle a lot more this year (writing regular pieces for the newspaper). There’s a lot less lag time between impulse to write and word count for the day.

But there’s always that nagging fear. What I’m concerned about?

The usual things, plus one. I have a life, work and a family, demands on my time and attention. Facebook. The usual. Nanowrimo is a pleasantly encouraging bedfellow, but doesn’t seem to give a flip about gymnastics and hockey and carpools.

The plus one is my mom’s leukemia and her terminal diagnosis. If there ever was a good excuses to hide in a hole and eat donuts, it’d be that.

But, I am taking the chance that writing “into” that space is the way to go. To not just try to avoid the obstacles… to write through them.

So, hello last day of October. Happy Halloween. Welcome and bring on November.